Doctor Who: Mummy on the Orient Express

Another good episode from Doctor Who 🙂 Apparently two of the actors were people one should’ve recognised, not that I did – one was a singer with a brief cameo who we’d never heard of, the other a comedian (Frank Skinner) that J recognised but I didn’t.

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

It made sense to me that once she calmed down Clara would want one last trip with the Doctor to end it on a high note, and I thought it was clear that not only had she taken a bit of time to reflect (as per the “I hated you for weeks” line) but so had the Doctor. Not that he had any intention of talking about it, of course. However, there was a blessed absence of nasty remarks about her appearance. And even after the initial awkwardness had faded a bit, when he goes off to investigate you can see him dither over whether or not to wake her up to join in the fun – deciding not to because he thinks she wouldn’t want to, was my interpretation.

I was a bit less pleased with Clara lying to both Danny & the Doctor at the end … but on reflection that happens so quickly after Perkins makes the point about not wanting to travel with the Doctor because “it could change a man” that I think we’re supposed to be unsettled by it. Travelling with the Doctor isn’t changing Clara in particularly good ways. She’s learning/learnt to lie when the Doctor asks and thinks it necessary and its bleeding over into everything. Of course she’d been lying to Danny all along, which undermines that reading of the scene a bit – but then she’d been travelling with the Doctor for quite a while by then.

I wonder if we got the thematic statement for this Doctor in the closing section of the episode? “Sometimes none of the choices are good, but you have to choose anyway”. And this Doctor is a lot more aware he’s not a god than the last couple (particularly more so than 10). This episode really played up the brutal pragmatism he’s been showing all season as well, but in a way that made it more palatable to me. In large part that’s because we could see him apply it to himself as well as to other people. When he saves Maisie by taking on her resentment & so on, he keeps talking about what he’s thinking about the creature, what he’s deducing and so on. I know he has to do that so we-the-audience know what’s going on but it works in story as well. This is what he was haranguing the previous victims about, and it when it was him he didn’t just try to save himself he tried to make sure if he did die then his death would’ve given them information.

Some nice callbacks to previous Doctors – jelly babies, and “are you my mummy?”. I have a feeling there was something else but I’ve forgotten now :/ Possibly New New York in the background in the closing section? Certainly that scene was reminiscent of a closing scene with Rose from an earlier season of New Who – I have completely forgotten which story it belongs with tho!

There wasn’t any explicit stuff with Missy, but wherever Moffat is going with that he’s got it set up well enough now that J and I can turn to each other part way through the episode and comment that one of the victims is likely to end up with Missy. But definitely some resonances with themes from other episodes. I’m not coming up with a pithy phrase (even by my standards for pith) to describe what makes several of the antagonists so far this season similar, but there’s definitely a pattern. Soldiers mindlessly following old orders/patterns, malfunctioning robots, old things seeking death (either explicitly or “the Promised Land”), the Doctor achieving success by taking on a command role often in an explicitly military fashion.

Oh, and I’ll end on a minor nitpick that amused me – we have a “monster” that’s definitely a horror movie interpretation of an Egyptian Mummy, “controlled” by a scroll/flag with what looked more akin to cuneiform than hieroglyphs, tsk tsk!

Doctor Who: Kill the Moon

OK, that was a lot better from Doctor Who this week – in large part because the narrative appeared to agree with me about the way the Doctor is behaving. I’ve seen a certain amount of flap about the science, but really Doctor Who has always been science fantasy so I’m not that fussed about the level of physical and biological impossibility displayed here!

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

While we’re on the subject of the science – “what if the moon were an egg?” is a trope I’ve run across before in a 1930s short story, played for horror that time. I reviewed it (briefly) last year (scroll down to “Born of the Sun” in the 1934 section) and it was fun to see a Doctor Who take on it – lighter, more hopeful and with a lot less of the unpleasant 1930s subtexts. In terms of nitpicking on the science I think the big mistake the script made was to get too specific – if it hadn’t said “prokaryote” for our germ spider analogue I’d’ve not spluttered, if you need a science-y word make one up and have the Doctor make some disparaging remark about how our puny scientists haven’t heard of that yet. In terms of details of the thing in the moon-egg though, I figure that’s just so inherently implausible that we might as well just handwave through the rest – if the moon is an egg then biology and physics clearly just don’t work like we think they do 😉

I do quite seriously continue to wonder if this is going to turn out to be not reality as we know it. We’ve had an on screen Heaven where people who we have seen as on screen dead are showing up. We also now have the moon as an egg with all the attendant biological and physical implausibilities. But I also think I’m likely to be wrong about that – it would be difficult to do the reveal without making it feel cheap. It would also be difficult to square it with how much time we’re spending on the Clara/Danny relationship if it’s going to turn out to not really be real (although of course we’ve done that before, with Donna in the Library, and that was Moffat too).

Anyway. The Doctor acting as an asshole is clearly positioned here as the Doctor acting as an asshole. Which makes it rather more palatable than when I was wondering if it was supposed to be funny. He’s also not wholly wrong – I think Clara needed that reality check from the way she was acting in this episode, it’s not just a grand adventure and home in time for tea. She’s a part of what’s going on rather than just a bystander. I’m not sure how much sense that makes in terms of Clara’s character throughout the show, but the episode itself sold me on it (if that makes sense). However, the Doctor was being a dick about it, and both show and Clara were right to call him out on it.

I liked Courtney in this – I guess she wasn’t quite all mouth & no trousers. I didn’t quite buy the self-esteem crushed business at the beginning, that felt like it was more there in order to get a point across about how this Doctor differs from the last. Eleven held forth on more than one occasion about how everyone was special, Twelve is barely willing to grit his teeth and say someone isn’t an entire waste of space. And Courtney as characterised so far isn’t someone you’d think of as special if you don’t believe everyone’s special – a fairly typical teenage girl doing teenage girl things.

Overall much better than last week, I enjoyed this one again 🙂

Doctor Who: The Caretaker

I could tell from the trailer that this was not going to be one of my favourite Doctor Who episodes, and indeed this was the case. It was written by the same guy who wrote The Lodger in season 5 (ie in 2010 with 11 and Amy), and I disliked it for the same sorts of reasons – not my sort of story.

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

So what didn’t I like, now we’re behind the spoiler cut? Primarily it’s because it was that sort of rom-com farce humour thing where nobody tells anybody anything so they have “hilarious” misunderstandings and people get to embarrass themselves because of said misunderstandings. It just makes me cringe, but I do know there’s an audience for it, it’s just that audience does not include me. For instance J enjoyed the episode rather more than I did.

The plot also relied on the Doctor and Clara showing the worst of themselves, in ways that make you wonder how they’ve survived in the respective lives this long. And displaying stunning lack of self-awareness in each case too. I’m not sure I really buy the Danny/Clara relationship at the moment – I can’t see why he stays with her, she’s clearly lying to him consistently and persistently without being particularly subtle about it. Then when she gets caught she doubles down on it in a particularly insulting fashion – how stupid does she think he is, indeed?

I’ve seen suggested that part of the “plan” for this season (regeneration?) is a re-run of the original plan for the 6th Doctor. In that this regeneration is supposed to start off unlikeable and then have a sort of redemption arc – and apparently whilst that was the plan for the 6th Doctor they either half-arsed it or lost their nerve. Which would explain why the Doctor is being particularly bitchy towards Clara & unpleasant to Danny, but it doesn’t really endear it to me either.

Sadly the more I think about the episode the less I like it. But there was stuff I did like, even so. I liked Miss Disruptive Influence – and was amused when she turned out to be all mouth & no trousers. I also liked the way Clara & Danny are failing to keep the relationship secret from the kids, which felt very true to life. I also continue to like Danny, and he really shone in this episode (particularly in comparison to the two leads) – he’s competent, observant and quick thinking in a crisis. If the Doctor can get past his current soldierphobia and start treating Danny like a person then I’d like to see more stories where Danny is a companion.

Oh – and I nearly forgot to mention the afterlife scene. Missy didn’t welcome this one – because he wasn’t talked into death by the Doctor? Or just because she was “busy”? Really don’t know where this is going – it’s making me wonder if the whole season so far hasn’t happened in the real world, but J thinks that’d be a bit too lame for them to go there and he may well be right. After all, Dallas did that first (and worst) 😉

Overall, disappointing but maybe they’ve got the farce bit out of their system now?

Doctor Who: Time Heist

Another good episode of Doctor Who – two in a row is welcome after a rather shaky start to the season (in my opinion).

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

Although it’s probably not one that would necessarily bear a re-watch as a lot of the fun was trying to figure out what was going on. We spent a lot of the episode guessing what the explanations were, and I think we pretty much didn’t get anything quite right until just before the reveal in each case – so well crafted in that sense 🙂 I do quibble at the “you’ll always hate your clone” thing, which I don’t think inherently makes sense unless you assume everyone in the world hates themselves. I can see why Saibra might run into trouble with people not liking her given she turns into them, which has to be creepy. But not the “oh I hate the Architect therefore he is me” thing.

I liked the juxtaposition between this episode & the Robin Hood one’s portrayal of the Doctor assuming he’s in charge. In the Robin Hood one he just ended up bickering with Robin in an undignified fashion. But this episode showed why he often takes charge – even if he hasn’t necessarily got A Plan, he’s pretty damn good at making it up as he goes along. The brutal pragmatism was stressed again in this episode, still not sure if we’re going somewhere with that or if it’s the way the Doctor is now.

I have a feeling this is going to’ve been a key episode in the overall season arc – Ms Karabraxos reminded me a lot of Missy in both appearance and manner. And we’ve been reminded a couple of times now that very few people have the TARDIS phone’s number, yet Clara was given it “by the woman in the shop”. So while we’ve had a payoff for the Doctor giving Karabraxos his number, I’m not convinced it’s the only payoff.

I don’t really have anything else to say about this episode – it was a good & clever puzzle story that I enjoyed watching but it hasn’t left me with many thoughts I wanted to talk about. Except my niggling sense it’s going to turn out to’ve been additionally significant later.

Doctor Who: Listen

This was my favourite episode of the series so far – a very creepy little story that would probably’ve given me nightmares if I’d seen it when I was little. And even the more farcical elements of it worked for me.

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

I wasn’t surprised to see this was written by Moffat himself – it’s got a lot of the elements that made Blink such a good episode too. Time travel’s an integral part of the plot, and he’s done that thing of taking something ordinary and everyday and giving it a twist to make it creepy(/creepier than before). I also liked the way the episode tied it all up in the end with a rational explanation which only worked until you thought about it. I mean, obviously the Doctor has just been fixated on this because of his experience as a kid when Clara grabbed his foot from under the bed, right? Except (and I didn’t think of this till J pointed it out) there’s the thing on the bed in Rupert Pink’s room … probably just one of the other kids… probably.

I’d assumed at first that the date plot was just part of the frame or a subplot, but it was nicely tied into the whole thing. I’d also thought I’d end up cringing through it, that it would be a sort of romcomish thing of a sort I don’t like. But it was rather well done. I liked that they both stormed out at different points for perfectly reasonable reasons. I rather suspect the chain of causality doesn’t quite work through the whole episode if you inspect it too closely, however, so I shan’t 😉 I’m not quite sure what I think about how this sets up Clara & Danny’s relationship – there’s something a little reminiscent of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife. And I found the central relationship of that book rather disturbing and creepy.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of the date bit of it – why on earth didn’t Clara just tell the Doctor who she was on a date with? There didn’t seem any rational reason to me – I mean I get it that she’s not wanting the Doctor involved in her love life in general, particularly given this incarnation’s tendency for faux pas. But once it becomes clear that it’s getting mixed up in what’s going on then I don’t see why she didn’t just explain – well, probably out of earshot of Orson Pink. I can see how discussing your disastrous first date with the 3rd generation offspring of the eventual relationship might be a bit too awkward.

Then again, lies, evasion and hiding were the central themes of the episode. With pretty much every instance of it being just a bit too obvious a lie (or whatever) to be believed. I wonder what else in the episode is a lie/evasion that we just don’t know about yet – it’d be Moffat’s style to have another level of that that becomes clear later in the season.

The main season arc hook wasn’t apparent at all this week – no Promised Land, no Heaven, no Missy. No robots remaking themselves or in need of repair. The other threads – Clara as schoolteacher and the Doctor’s ambivalent relationship with soldiers – were in evidence tho. And obviously the Pink family were front & centre. Presuming it was the Doctor in that barn (and I think they’ve sold it too well for that to turn out to be misdirection*) then we’re being shown his Thing about soldiers is a deep rooted Thing. It feels like we’re getting quite a lot of mirroring between Danny & the Doctor here as well – tho Danny wanted to be a soldier (or at least did after Clara & the Doctor had seen him and messed with his memory anyway) and it seems the Doctor did not (the man in the barn scene talking about his lack of aptitude for the Academy and how he’d have to join the army instead despite not wanting to). But I was definitely wondering about whether this was the Doctor growing up in an orphanage, given the earlier section with Rupert Pink. And of course both picked names they liked better than their birth names once they grew up.

*Well, lies and evasion were the theme of the week. And the Master is a definite alternate candidate; we know that he & the Doctor were contemporaries on Gallifrey. But I don’t want that to be the truth coz I liked the way it loops the War Doctor & his choice of barn to set up the weapon in as something important to the Doctor. And they do sell it very well in the episode as genuinely being the Doctor.

A good episode tho, the season defintely feels like it’s found its feet.

Doctor Who: Robot of Sherwood

I confess, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this episode of Doctor Who – the trailer set it up to be cheesy and silly in a way that doesn’t appeal to me. And for the first 5 minutes or so I was rolling my eyes. But after that I got more into it and ended up rather liking it, silliness & all.

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

As the writers intended, I was expecting at first that it would turn out to be a future theme park version of Robin Hood or something of that sort. And really the idea that the “real” Robin Hood behind the legend would be such caricature of the legend was ridiculous. Perfect teeth, laughs too much, repeats slogans reminiscent of later political entities and so on & so forth. It’s just that by the end I was willing to forgive that because the rest of the episode was fun.

Even tho fun, it was a bit clunky at times – it turns out this was a Mark Gatiss written episode and he does tend towards the clunky. The Doctor-as-legend stuff was a bit heavy handed, particularly at the end with the final conversation with Robin Hood about being the man behind the myth. As was the message that working together is how you win – the Doctor/Robin bickering needs to be put aside, the oppressed villagers need to band together to kill off the robots, they can shoot the final arrow if all three work together.

I did like what they were doing with Clara here – the genre (Robin Hood tales) sets us up for damsel-in-distress and the dress made her look the part, and then she very much did not need rescuing, she took care of that herself when necessary. I particularly liked how she turned the tables on the Sheriff and got him to explain his masterplan by playing on the star struck girl stereotype. I also liked the show-don’t-tell scene of Clara-the-schoolteacher when she first gets the bickering men to shut up and then admit that neither actually has a plan.

That’s potentially one of the recurring motifs we’ve had across this season so far, too – Clara the schoolteacher. I’m not sure if that’s characterisation tho, or if it’s a genuine part of the season arc. Other motifs that came up this episode: we had another colour name (Will Scarlet, who is obviously a part of the Robin Hood mythos but even so), robots searching for the Promised Land, robots and/or cyborgs in need of repairs (I’m thinking we can count last week’s Dalek in that category too). We didn’t get Missy showing up to welcome someone to Paradise/Heaven tho. But I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see those robots turn up again whenever we get to the pay-off for Missy’s collection – i.e. collected off-screen. And the Doctor is beginning to pick up on some of the repetitions, too – well “the Promised Land” one anyway.

I don’t think I really have much more to say – but it feels a bit more like the new Doctor is hitting his stride here. There was a bit of harshness and some more brutal pragmatism (you notice the gold arrow was only a solution to make the exploding ship not explode too close, it still exploded). But he didn’t feel like quite such an arrogant bastard as in the last episode.

Doctor Who: Into the Dalek

I wasn’t as keen on this Doctor Who episode, although some of that opinion might change once I know where the season arc is going I guess. The Doctor still felt not quite Doctorish, and despite liking the mirroring in the first episode I found it rather heavy handed in this one.

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

As an example of the clunky mirroring – the soldiers, Journey Blue and Danny Pink, who appear to both have colour surnames just to let Clara mention Danny when talking to Blue. I’d first thought that it meant that Danny was going to turn out to be part of the adventure plot for the episode but it didn’t seem to work out that way – seems he and his tragic backstory are going to be character development arc fodder for Clara (and possibly the Doctor?). And if Clara doesn’t have a problem with soldiers why’s she so harsh about his previous career in their first conversation?

Thinking of harsh comments – what’s with the Doctor being so rude about Clara’s appearance, in such a specifically gendered fashion? Unless it’s supposed to flag up that he does still notice her as a woman despite the “I’m not your boyfriend” conversation, and this is his heavy handed way of covering that up? I hope not. But I don’t see much reason to be so vicious about her looks. Or maybe it’s getting back at her for her shock over his age? Which would be petty. Hopefully it either stops or moves to something closer to banter rather than insult.

But I didn’t hate the episode by any means, it just didn’t really work quite well enough for me to ignore the stuff I didn’t like. The plot was fun in a don’t think about it too much sort of way. I did like all the callbacks to the Nine-meets-a-Dalek episode, which I thought felt deliberately designed to call our attention to how much he’s changed since that episode. Nine was terrified to have a Dalek sprung on him, Twelve was surprised. Nine panicked and wanted to kill it dead dead dead, but Twelve was at least trying to first fix it physically and then to make it a more moral Dalek. Although it wasn’t much surprise that he failed in the latter – his callousness over the deaths of the cannon fodder of the episode didn’t make him seem like a man to inspire a sense of joy in all the little details of the world … That’s the bit that might change in my opinion depending on where the season arc goes. I’d sort of assumed the Doctor would’ve moved on from being so bitter – he’s discovered he didn’t commit genocide (or rather helped himself not commit genocide) and he’s taken the time to take the slow road on behalf of the little people on Trenzalor. So I was a bit surprised at the undercurrent of negativity to this Doctor so far – the banter that goes a bit too far, the lack of care over the deaths of innocents, the dismissal of Journey coz she’s a soldier.

That’s gotta be part of the season arc tho. Missy appears to be collecting people that the Doctor has manipulated into death in some sense (I’m betting he didn’t push the clockwork automaton last episode). This has a certain amount of resonance with Davros “pointing out” to Ten that he turned his companions into weapons – is Missy collecting some examples of “why you’re a bad bad man” to hurt the Doctor with? I read a suggestion elsenet that perhaps Missy is a regeneration of the Master (Missy -> Mistress -> Master, and she might seem to be broken in ways that the Master was broken). Anyway, perhaps we’re building to season climax where the Doctor is forced to confront how his behaviour is often not wholly good even if aimed at good ends? Interesting too that this is the first season arc for a while where the Doctor isn’t (apparently) already aware of it, just the audience that is.

So a bit of a mixed bag this episode, hopefully the next one will be better. (Don’t spoil the trailer in comments please, J doesn’t watch the trailers).

Doctor Who: Deep Breath

Doctor Who is back! And because it’s a new Doctor the episode was packed full of other characters we already know, to give a bit of continuity. As well as a time and place we’ve seen before.

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

So I’ll get the nitpicking over and done with first. I’ve never been fond of the manic/messed-up Doctor of the immediate post-regen episodes. I do understand that it makes a certain amount of sense (changing one’s body and personality all at once seems likely to be reasonably traumatic, and anyway it always happens at times of stress for the Doctor) but I find it rather tedious to watch. I also thought that Clara is one of the few (new Who) companions who’d be able to cope fine with the regeneration – even if she doesn’t remember all the lives she had where she saved the Doctor during his regenerations she must surely remember that she went into the timeline to save all the previous hims. So I didn’t really buy her surprise and trauma over the whole thing. Also – the Matt Smith cameo, given his regeneration came as a surprise I’m not quite sure how come he could ring her a few hundred years before it happened (remember he got old on Trenzalor).

OK, nitpicking done.

I liked the various sets of mirrors the episode set up – some were rather unsubtle, some more so. The Doctor sleep translating the dinosaur for instance, where it’s clear how much he identifies with the dinosaur. But that also parallels the clockwork cyborg, who’s also alone and out of his time and struggling to cope. And Madame Vastra, for that matter. And all of them have their own ways of dealing with that – Vastra has Jenny and her detective stuff, the Doctor has his companions and his version of detective stuff, the cyborg is looking for Paradise (which is a less useful coping device) and the dinosaur hasn’t quite figured it out yet (and never gets a chance to, poor dino).

Concealment, masks, facades, disguises and seeing things truly were the major theme of the episode, of course, whether in the plot or the character development. Quite impressive how they tied everything into that from the small stuff to the obvious big things (like the Doctor’s new body).

References galore, both in and out universe. The most obvious being the recurrent theme of Vastra as Sherlock Holmes and Jenny as Watson, or them both as the Avengers. With, obviously, the differences that being a lizard makes. And callbacks to previous Doctor Who episodes – notably Girl in the Fireplace, and I wish I could remember how that ended and where the ship ended up. Was it the Doctor’s fault the ship was in Victorian London? And was landing in Glasgow at the end another call back – to the end of Sarah Jane’s run.

I guess we’ve seen the hook for the season arc – who is making sure Clara & the Doctor meet up? Presumably the sinister Mary Poppins-esque figure who welcomes the cyborg to “Paradise” and introduces herself as the Doctor’s girlfriend. Which of course is another parallel in reverse, because we’ve just finished the “I’m not your boyfriend” scene (and a big yay! to that as I was getting a bit fed up of the Doctor-picks-up-cute-girl-and-flirts trope). J and I were wondering if this could be Tasha Lem, although in the Christmas episode she seemed more on the Doctor’s side than the woman did in “Paradise”.

Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor

I did watch the Doctor Who Christmas special on Christmas Day, I just didn’t get round to writing about it till a week or so later so this post might be shorter than usual! However, it was a fine exit for Matt Smith’s Doctor 🙂

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

It felt like Moffat drew a distinct line under not just the various story arcs from the 11th Doctor’s era, but also the whole of New Who. And tied up the end of regenerations “problem”. Quite a lot for a single episode!

I liked the way that the possibility of Gallifrey coming back turned out to be something the Doctor couldn’t afford to allow. Of course it would reignite the Time War – after all we knew the Daleks were still out there and just the same as they were. I guess we have potential future stories about Gallifrey breaking through in one way or another but we likely won’t get the whole of Time Lord civilisation coming back. It is kinda amusing tho that it’s only about a month ago Tony & I were discussing in the comments if we thought the “search for Gallifrey” story would be one season or last for a while – looks like it’s kinda done already 😉

I also liked that the this threat is the one thing that finally gets the Doctor to stop running away, like he has done all his life. OK, so not actually having the TARDIS for the first few hundred years helped, but this is also the character that we saw going stir crazy on Earth after only a day not so long ago. But maybe having aliens to fight/annihilate every few days helped stave off the boredom. I wonder how that experience is going to affect him going forwards – two big things in the New Who characterisation of the Doctor have been that the Doctor is traumatised by his double genocide, and that he’s always running away. The 50th anniversary special resolved the final part of the first – he didn’t kill off the Daleks (as he’s known for a while) and he didn’t kill off his own species either. And now he’s had 700 years on one planet, protecting it without gallivanting around the universe having adventures. And he seemed by the end to’ve resigned himself to dying there.

I liked that this last Doctor has actually lived for a while – 400 years or so of gallivanting, 700 years on a planet. Gives a feel for what the lifespan of a Time Lord would be if they didn’t go around getting themselves into danger. And in some ways makes their conservative non-interference policy they used to have make a lot of sense – if you yourself might live for 13,000 years or thereabouts you can afford to take the long view, particularly when dealing with species with much smaller lifespans. A human’s whole life could be lost in the “oh give or take a hundred years or so” that you can imagine a Time Lord saying when trying to pinpoint a date from their past. Does make you wonder why the Doctor hangs around with humans so much though – even if you space your visits out, they still die so quick. (And we do see that in the way the 11th Doctor has been written, and in the way the rest of them keep dropping people off and then not looking back.)

I didn’t really buy Gallifrey giving him more regenerations – I’ve never had the feeling any of them would care. Although on reflection I guess that also means that they still have a chance to get him to help them come back through to this universe again. But it does very firmly boot that (slightly tedious IMO) line of fannish worry about how long the Doctor has left to live out into the distance. He’s not just got another regeneration, he’s got another cycle so let’s talk about it in a few decades! I did like the way Moffat chose to take the “oh no, now he’s #12, what next?” speculation and make it even worse before solving it – that half regeneration in 10’s era was a real one but he just looked the same. And what’s the numbering now – Peter Capaldi is now the 1st Doctor of part 2? 😉

Other things – Tasha Lem, who/what is she? Or does the Doctor just go about collecting not-quite-stable women who get to learn to fly the TARDIS? Can’t be River in some resurrected fashion, coz she has a line about the Doctor’s body being “new” to her at first. How about the Master? Or just someone new we’re given hints of backstory with coz after all there must be a lot of the Doctor’s past we haven’t seen.

I liked Handles, it was rather neatly surreal with the Doctor having a Cyberman head as a pet. Also liked the deftness of the characterisation on Clara’s mother (step-mother?). She gets a tiny amount of screentime but you can see why Clara invented a boyfriend and you can see why she was willing to run away so much while not quite severing ties with her family (coz her Dad & Gran seemed nice). I also liked the call backs to various things/people from the 11th Doctor’s run, tho a shame I don’t think Rory got an explicit mention (or maybe I’ve forgotten it). The hallucinations of Amy/Amelia as he regenerated were a nice touch, I thought.

So now we have a whole new Doctor and some new story arcs to look forward to! 🙂

Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor

Whee! 50th anniversary special Doctor Who, and I think they managed to pull off a suitably epic story. Lots of back references to Old Who, and a mainline plot about one of the big things from New Who. As I generally do with Doctor Who episodes this rest of this post is a not-quite-cohesive collection of things I liked 🙂

(Terminology note: I’m keeping the Doctor numbers the same, and calling Hurt’s Doctor “the War Doctor” instead of 8.5.)

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I liked that the Time War was the focus of the main plot line – it’s been one of the defining characteristics of the Doctor in New Who, he is the man who killed his own people because it was the lesser of two evils. Even 11 isn’t over it, he hasn’t forgotten how many children died on Gallifrey because it “slipped his mind” he’s deliberately chosen not to dwell on it – but that choice still defines him, he’s the Doctor who has decided it’s time to move on from what he did. That’s what the War Doctor and 10 can’t imagine, they’re too close to it. But 11 has had another 400 years on from 10 and he has started to come out of the other side of that grief. Although he’s not all the way there, even if 10 & the War Doctor think he is.

Given it’s such a big difference between the classic episodes & the new ones I think it needed to be in the anniversary story. And it’s also nice to have it tied up, and the Doctor (and the plot lines) can truly move on now. By making this the focus of the special I also think it compartmentalises it in a way – this is not “New Who Is Not Old Who” this is an episode in the whole story of the Doctor’s life. Yes, it’s a third of his life so far, and it’s going to forever colour his life going forward. But it’s just a part of the whole sweep of continuity. (I’m not sure I’ve managed to get that thought out of my head intact, hopefully you can follow what I mean!)

I liked that the Doctor figures out a way to avoid actually having to burn Gallifrey. I didn’t like the actual plan he came up with coz I don’t think it makes sense but I’m willing to not think about it in detail because I like the higher level story. The 4th Doctor couldn’t bring himself to wipe out the Daleks before they began, the War Doctor feels forced into the genocide of both the Daleks and the Gallifreyans, and the 11th Doctor finds a way to be true to his self and avoid it. Just a shame the “and the Daleks will shoot all of each other” bit doesn’t really hold water :/ The time locking the planet thing also fixes that bit at the end of 10’s run where the Gallifreyans break out. Which 11 remembers, incidentally, but 10 hasn’t got there yet.

For all my quibbles I liked the way everything for the climax was set up earlier on. Same software different casing – and we get the immediate pay off with the screwdrivers & the door, but then the real pay off is in the climax. Paintings that are slices of time locked away – and we get the immediate pay off in the Zygon subplot (twice), but again the real pay off is in the climax. I liked the running themes as well, of memory loss (again pays off finally because the War Doctor has to forget he didn’t kill them all), of “which one is the real one” (and in particular the running gag where 10 keeps telling the real Elizabeth she isn’t).

I loved The Moment, both the concept & the execution! The idea of a weapon so complex it became sentient and developed a conscience is really neat. And so of course it was left over at the end of the war – the Time Lords in general were afraid of being judged and found wanting, behind their rhetoric about the war being necessary. But the Doctor will use it because he already judges himself more harshly than even The Moment will. And continues to judge himself for the next 400 years – the last scene of the previous episode where 11 turns away from the War Doctor saying that he didn’t do it “in my name” shows that. So it makes sense to me that there is this spare weapon of mass destruction, and that the Doctor would be the first to use it.

The interface picked from “your past, or is it your future” made sense too – we’ve seen the TARDIS do that to interact with people before, so it’s a Gallifreyan-tech thing. And nice call back to the TARDIS being confused about past/future/causality when she was put in a human body. I thought Billie Piper did a fantastic job of playing the avatar as alien. And in an out-universe sort of way I liked that they had her back to represent the 9 era, given Eccleston didn’t return.

I also liked the way that this weapon with a conscience engineered the situation so that she would not be used. She nudges the War Doctor into seeing his future if he survives this (as punishment – which I also liked, she chose that as the punishment to fit the crime). And she chooses which future selves he meets and when – setting them up to solve the problem, and nudging things along the way to make sure they do figure out a solution.

There was loads of other stuff I liked too, but I think I’ve wittered on for long enough here 🙂 Looking forward to the next one now!