November 2014 in Review

This is an index and summary of the things I’ve talked about over the last month. Links for multi-post subjects go to the first post (even if it’s before this month), you can follow the internal navigation links from there. (TV shows without full posts will not be linked, but will be listed.)


“New Discoveries at Hierakonpolis” Renee Friedman. Talk given at the November meeting of the EEG.

Total: 1



Doctor Who: Dark Water.

Doctor Who: Death in Heaven.

Total: 2

Doctor Who: Death in Heaven

The last Doctor Who before Christmas! Which isn’t that long a gap, to be honest but I’m trying not to think about that as I’ve not even begun to consider Xmas shopping yet 😉

SPOILERS AHEAD! Hover mouse over text to read, or read on entry page:

I thought that was a good end to this season of Doctor Who – for a change a Moffat written finale that actually hung together without becoming too clever for its own good.

The scene I talked about last time as having been in the trailer but not in the story yet was the bit with Clara announcing that “Clara Oswald” had never existed. Which was misdirection, so I completely fell for that. It worked well in context – a lot of the arc of this season has been about Clara thinking of then putting into practice the answer to “What would the Doctor do if he was here?”. And announcing she was the Doctor was certainly worth a try.

It is presumably no coincidence that this season’s story revolved around soldiers and their actions and sacrifices, with the finale airing the day before Remembrance Sunday in the centenary year of the start of WW1. And once I’d thought of it like that, it’s made me think of the Kipling poem “Tommy”, here’s a verse from it:

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap.
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul? ”
But it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes ” when the drums begin to roll
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes, ” when the drums begin to roll.

Which casts the soldierphobia and persistent mockery of Danny Pink by various characters in the show in a bit of a different light – he’s Tommy, he’s the un-appreciated veteran, and he’s the saviour that stands between the people of Earth and destruction when the time comes.

After, of course, he has his heart ripped out of him by Clara’s defence of the Doctor “her best friend, the one man she’ll never lie to”. Poor Danny. And he probably doesn’t realise that’s another lie – Clara lies to the Doctor just as much as she lies to everyone else. I’m glad they didn’t cheapen the story by making Danny decide to live – they’ve been building up his sense of honour throughout the season so it wouldn’t’ve felt right for him to come back from the dead. Poor Clara, nonetheless.

I was a bit shocked by Osgood’s death though, and by the fact that it stuck – just after the Doctor noticed her enough to hint he’d take her on the TARDIS. Which meant that the Brigadier’s daughter being saved by the Brigadier was even more startling. The Brig wasn’t one of the old Who companions I imprinted on particularly, most of his stories were a bit long ago for me to remember. So those scenes didn’t have quite the same impact on me as on other people, but it was still a pretty neat way to say farewell to the Brig after his actor’s death.

(I do, however, find the “you can resist cyberconversion by the power of love” thing a bit crap. Barring a few sociopaths most people love somebody so how on earth do cybermen ever convert anyone for heaven’s sake??)

The lies between the Doctor and Clara at the end and the appearance of Santa Claus on the TARDIS presumably mean we’ll get Clara back for at the very least a proper farewell. My friend Tash pointed out that Clara is presumably pregnant with Danny’s kid so that Orson Pink can exist, and I’m inclined to agree. Although it is possible they’ll just dodge all of that with a handwave about “time can be re-written”, but “Danny didn’t come back and I’m pregnant” would make sense for the news Clara wanted to tell the Doctor.

I haven’t mentioned Missy yet – I did like her as the next incarnation of the Master. And the scheme whereby she invents an afterlife to harvest minds to in order to create the cybermen was just the sort of ludicrous over-the-top and nutty plan I associate with the Master. And I was amused by the evil-Mary-Poppins costuming & mannerisms, too 🙂

Looking back at the season as a whole I think I was wrong about most of the links between the individual stories and the season arc. But despite the hit & miss start I really enjoyed the season in the end.

Doctor Who: Dark Water

Writing this up a little late, as we ended up extremely busy this weekend & at the beginning of the week, so I’m sure some of the things I thought of to say at the time we watched it have vanished from my head. Oh well.

SPOILERS AHEAD! Hover mouse over text to read, or read on entry page:

Wasn’t expecting that opening sequence at all. Danny goes from being mostly irrelevant (and not well treated by Clara) to fridged. I liked the way Clara reacts – felt very true to character, and a good pay-off for several “don’t make threats you won’t carry through” moments through the season. And there’s more than one pay off to that in this episode – in retrospect it’s been a theme of the season but I don’t think I’d consciously realised that till just now. Clara is definitely a woman who doesn’t make threats, she makes promises … even when sometimes the result is akin to cutting off her nose to spite her face, as with switching off communication with Danny later in the episode.

Another recurring thing this episode was about “missing the headline” – commenting on/talking about one thing when another thing is more significant. So I’m pretty sure there’ll be pay off to that next episode. There’s a scene from the trailer for the finale that we haven’t had yet and I reckon either what Clara was saying in it was total misdirection or that fits in here with missing the headline in her opening conversation with Danny (despite her insistence she’s started with the headline). Being vague because J doesn’t watch trailers and doesn’t want spoiled for it.

We did find out quite a lot of what’s going on here though – Missy == the Master as speculated. And she’s taking backups of dead people and convincing them to delete their emotions prior to re-downloading them into cyberman bodies inhabited by corpses. There’s a lot of resonance here to the opening episode with Clara (modern-Clara that is) – The Bells of Saint John (post) – can’t claim credit for thinking of it myself, I read someone else’s hope that the current story wouldn’t save Danny whilst writing off all the other dead minds in the same way that first story saved Clara but not all the rest. But definite reminders of that episode now I think about it. I’m presuming that Missy is the woman who gave Clara the phone number that gets her in touch with the Doctor. There are also minds that are uploaded in some fashion, with dead bodies left behind. Tweaking of the emotions once the mind is digitised too – I remember sliders to move emotion/intelligence etc up and down. I’m not suggesting a direct link of any sort here, just that there’s a lot of resonance and it feels to me like we’re maybe supposed to be reminded.

Definitely looking foward to the next episode and finding out the answer to what’s going on! 🙂