Having watched the last episode of this current series again - the third of a three-parter - I think I can safely say that Russell T Davies is a great creator of characters and character dialogue (this thought prompted by Andrew Ducker's comment thread), a good plotter on a series-wide level, but rubbish at pacing individual episodes. Especially the last two. In future series, I will look forward to the plot of Russell T Davies episodes, and how other writers develop the characters in other episodes. Especially Steven Moffat and
Utopia: that was a decent episode. The Doctor and Martha arrive at the end of the universe, because the Doctor's Tardis is spooked out by Captain Jack hitching a ride and wants as far away as possible - fair enough. There's only humans left in this pocket of the universe (because HuMans Rock!), and they're trying to get to somewhere else - fair enough also. (Yes, humans have uploaded themselves to digital galaxy-spanning godhoods; but a) they might have broken by now, and b) some humans might just have reincarnated, in the fleshy sense of the word, out of curiosity.) In between cute moppets and throwaway mutant bad guys that we'll never see again (boo!), we meet the Professor - who turns out to be the Master, which means that both Derek Jacobi and John Simm get to be the Master, and they're both great, so hooray. (Derek Jacobi's "Now I can say I was provoked", with gleeful evil but nonetheless no trace whatsoever of a vaudeville moustache curl, is particularly memorable.) That the episode ends with the Master a) re-generating (fanboy alert! How can he do that?), and b) stealing the Doctor's Tardis, like he regularly has done in the past, is just icing on the cake.
The Sound of Drums: the middle episode, and the one most likely to appeal to fans of Return of the Jedi, because they can claim that fans of Empire Strikes Back are wrong, because Sound of Drums was rubbish. They're wrong (it wasn't that bad, and Empire is still better), but it's still a weak episode. John Simm gets to be brilliant as the Master (and spawns a thousand LiveJournal icons), and the Doctor isn't bad at all (how do you escape from the end of time, when you've got nothing but a busted teleport wrist thing? You repair it with your magic wand, because damnit, you're the best Time Lord there ever was at chancing it with dodgy equipment, let alone the last but one left in the entire space-time continuum). And they have a mobile phone conversation that shows glimpses of what could have been. Then the Master's plan goes horribly right, and he wins, and Martha is the only one left who can save the Earth, and all of the Universe.
So far, so good. Middle episode a bit weak, but they're clearly saving it all up for the last episode. (Certainly the music people were.)
Last of the Time Lords: Half of the first 2/3rds made little sense. The Master being actually Master of all he surveys, Martha's family enslaved, the Doctor humiliated, that makes perfect sense. No matter what you think of the make-up and CG (I thought the 900-year-old Doctor looked more Doctorish than the 100-year-old version), it makes sense that the Master would keep the Doctor around, and taunt him. And the fact that the Doctor managed to say something secret to his companion, who then vanished and hasn't been seen for the last year would really bug the Master.
So why not show that? There's precious screen time wasted on the silly plot to steal the Master's screwdriver, which could have been easily shrunk down to one of Martha's family having some sort of pickpocketing skills (you can establish that in a few seconds in a previous episode), them trying that in something like the first month, and then Martha's family end up in "solitary" confinement for the rest of the 11 months. That would explain the sudden bonding far better than a) them being held captive for 364 days, in which nothing happens, and then b) they're all chucked into prison, at which point they all decide to kill the Master (prompting Mum+Dad=gross!)
Meanwhile, you can show Martha travelling around the world, and the Master's reaction to e.g. particular sites being ransacked and/or destroyed, according to the plot. Show, don't tell. Show the Master's growing bravado but unease, as his grip on the Planet grows tighter, but Martha evades his minions. Hell, you can start this with the (damn good) Master "Day in your life" musical sequence, which could end with the 100-year-old Doctor saying "Martha is still out there" (that whole confidence thing again).
Then you can end with pretty much the same end sequence, which was damn good. (If anyone has an urge to watch previous Doctor Who episodes with the Face of Boe, you only have to watch Gridlock from series 3 of the reboot - the other two incarnations were vague enough that they could have been easily ret-conned.)
Thinking about it, actually, my problem is Martha's family. They were criminally under-used. Her mother's a hoodwinked traitor (Smith and Jones, The Lazarus Incident, 42 [text pub quiz], The Sound of Drums), her sister is a sellout PR slut (Smiht and Jones, The Lazarus Incident, The Sound of Drums), her dad is a divorcee with a slut girlfriend (Smith and Jones, and, er, that's it), her brother lives in Cardiff (Smith and Jones, The Sound of Drums) - er, what? That's one character's worth. I mean, her brother who escapes in The Sound of Drums, doesn't re-appear until the end of Last of the Time Lords, because there was nothing for him to do. All of us moaning that the new Companion of series 3 had a family, should have wished that we'd have family-centric episodes. Instead, we had a bunch of named supporting cast.