Doctor Who in Review: Season Four, Episode #11 – Turn Left

Rick Marshall

Rick Marshall was Online Managing Editor for ComicMix before joining MTV's SplashPage. Previously, he was Online Content Manager for Wizard Entertainment. He has written for several daily newspapers, alternative weekly newspapers, trade magazines and online media, and was named "Writer of the Year" by the New York Press Association in 2005.

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12 Responses

  1. mike weber says:

    An interesting point re-reading P.C.Hodgell's wonderful high fantasies featuring a very unuausal – make that Very Unusual – heroine named Jameth, i hit Bones, a 1984 short story sandwiched in the middle of an omnibus edition of the first two books (Godstalk and Dark of the Moon, collected under the title Dark of the Gods by Atlanta's own, lamented Meisha Merlin Press). It contains the following Very Interesting passage (Jame, who is an apprentice thief at this point, and he Master are cornered by the animated skeleton of a master architect, who wants his head back. uezal is the architect's pet gargoyle, serving his skeleton as a head, and "vhors" are ratlike creatures; the ones in this story are also skeletal):"Another fit of coughing seized Jame. When her eyes cleared again, the vhors and theirmaster were withn five feet of her. So that was it: Like Quezal, they could only move when unobserved. If she so much as blinked now, she was finished."

  2. Vinnie Bartilucci says:

    Very interesting, the parallel between the Quezal character and the angels from last year's spectacular "Blink". Surely a case of parallel evolution.Parallel timeline stories are easy to do, and can always deliver if done right. The old "for the want of a nail" ploy can have a lot of drama to it. And not just in Sci-Fi either; It's a Wonderful Life's climax is naught but a parallel timeline story. This episode is Catherine Tate/Donna Noble's week to shine in the other half of the "money-saving" episodes, and shine she does. Donna's life without the Doctor is initially quite good – she gets a good job, makes friends, and is generally quite please with her lot. However, The Doctor's life without Donna is far more dour. Without her to help The Doctor, he's never able to survive the events of The Runaway Bride, which means among other things, he's not there to stop the crash of the spacefaring Titanic, which turns much of London into a radioactive death zone, and turns England in a nation of refugees. The dark turn that England takes after that; becoming increasing xenophobic (the "national" kind, not the "planetary" kind), culminating in "work camps" being created for foreigners is another example of the ideas touhced on in Midnight – crisis bringing out the worst in some, even as it brings out the best in others. All the actors get some nice moments here, particularly Bernard Cribbins, who while he tries to keep his family calm, sees with horror the truth behind the actions being taken by the country to make "Britain for the British".THE MATRIX HAS YOU, DONNA NOBLE – As mentioned in the episode, this is the second time an entirely distinct parallel world was created around Donna Noble, the last being the virtual world in Forest of the Dead. My initial take on that was like that of Zaphod Beeblebrox' adventures in the second season of Hithchhiker's, as novelized in Restaurant at the end of the Universe. When he enters the Total Perspective Vortex (a machine that uses a piece of fairy cake to extrapolate the sum of the universe, and shows you your place and importance in it, that of almost insignificance) he is told that he is in fact the single most important being in the universe, since technically, the entire universe was created FOR him. As we discover in the last couple episodes, Donna's importance in the real universe may well be on that level…FREE FOR REDHEADS…RIIIIIGHT – In a classic example of looking too deep for importance, the folks at the Tardis Wiki noted that red hair is alledgedly good luck to the Chinese, hence the fortune teller's offer of a free reading to those with red hair. I more rationally noted that it's also a common carny trick to draw people into their attraction; half off for lovely ladies, free for men wearing hats, anything that matches some characteristic of the person being appealed to. Since it was the fortune teller's job to get Donna into the tent, she's have tried all sorts of ploys had that not worked.CROSSOVER REPORT – Most likely realizing the thematic similarity to the Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?", RTS tossed in a passing reference to the "Trickster's Brigade", acknowledging the alien from the SJA episode.Rose's change of voice is likely far more a pedestrian solution that the plot-point searchers are willing to accept. In an interview or two, Billie Piper noted that it had been so long since she played Rose, she'd literally forgotten how to play her, how to talk like her. It may be that simple. However, I looked at Billie and thought her whole face looked different, particularly her teeth. I thought she'd gotten some dental work done, and the lisp was a side effect of that.WHO'S AFRAID OF THE…Oh hell, you know – One point that I'm surprised hasn't been contested more is how did all the Bad Wolf tags appear on everything this time? Rose was able to leave the trail of breadcrumbs last time by having access to the pure energy of the Time Vortex and manipulating time itself; neither she nor anyone else had access to such power this time. I just wrote it off as auto-suggestion, myself – once the Doctor had the phrase mentioned to him, he may well have only thought he'd seen it everywhere. That or the TARDIS translation circuitry did it to/for him, again now that it was in the forefront of his mind. Not a major thing, the effect was so overwhelmingly impressive I'm happy to come up with a no-prize winning explanation to cover up for it.GUEST STAR REPORT – not quite a big name, but the Asian (well, Asian-like alien) fortune teller was played by Chipo Chung, who has was in last season's episode 13 as Professor Yana's assistant Chan-Tho. Ever wanting to recycle actors they like, Chipo came back this year so viewers could see her face. Ironically, I recognized her by her teeth, the only part of her face not covered by prosthetics (and a brief look at her un-made up in last year's Confidential episode)

    • Rick Marshall says:

      Great additions to the review, Vinnie! I'm of your thinking when it comes to the change in Rose's voice… and a very cool H2G2 reference, of course.

  3. Neil Ottenstein says:

    It was a great episode. There was a decent chunk of the episode that was not available to those of us watching on SciFi, though. The commentary on this episode was 49:42 in length. [The Stolen Earth commentary is 46 minutes so there might not be anything left out there and SciFi is going to have a 90 minute slot for Journey's End whose commentary is 1:03:25.] I saw one segment on YouTube which mentioned specific Torchwood members dying or being taken away after stopping the Sontaran attack. Those lines were edited out on SciFi. As it aired on SciFi, there are no names given and those of us who have been watching Torchwood can just assume that it was them. (Torchwood is on BBC America here, so while looking for minutes to eliminate that might have been a convenient choice.) It was weird that the fortune teller had Donna's consciousness (?) go back in time to turn right while Rose had to send Donna back so there would be two of them there. Then the surviving Donna actually remembered things of the alternate timeline Donna. Or maybe, her consciousness just snapped back when the timeline was fixed? The Doctor said that fortune teller or Beetle was part of the Trickster clan or something like that. The BBC Fact page mentions that this may be related to the being who appeared in the Sarah Jane Adventures story Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane and altered the timeline there. Thanks for pointing out about the "something on your back" quote. I guess since he could see into the future he saw that aspect of Donna. In the commentary [director Graeme Harper, production manager Tracie Simpson and standby art director Nick Murray] they say that the fortune teller was played by Chipo Chung who played Chantho in Utopia (also part 1 of 3 to end the season). I believe they say that the set for the fortune teller is the same location as the Torchwood vaults. They were quite surprised over the transformation to China planet. They didn't think they could pull it off, but they did. Graeme Harper says he was nervous about doing another story without the Doctor, though his presence is felt throughout. They wanted to give a feeling of the World War II evacuation and pulled that off very well. At the end, apparently Julie Gardner didn't think they had enough Bad Wolf signs the first time through so they had to redress them. It looks like it will be a wild two weeks to finish the season off.

  4. Alan Kistler says:

    It's interesting that Rose and UNIT use mirrors to create the time machine, saying it's to help with chronon energy. This was first mentioned in the Eighth Doctor audio play TIME OF THE DALEKS, where the Daleks and some humans were using mirrors to create time portals by bouncing chronons off of them and such.I also found it fitting that Donna died with Rose next to her, on the street, just as Rose was there for her father after he was hit by a car in FATHER'S DAY.

  5. Mike Gold says:

    It's always nice to see UNIT back in action — a wonderfully British storytelling device, the fact that they go after alien enemies with military-like precision as though they were taking on the Huns is always a hoot. I'm even more pleased to see that the Brigadier will be reappearing in the Whoverse, on a two-part Sarah Jane Adventures this coming season. I spent a couple days with actor Nick Courtney; he's one of the nicest and most professional actors I've ever worked with. He's reprised the Brigadier role on numerous Big Finish audio adventures as well.

    • Vinnie Bartilucci says:

      The Brig is back? This is news to me – where was that reported? I look forward to hearing if my theory/hope that he's moved to an ambassadorial position is true.At a panel about Dan Dare (the spectacular new Virgin series in particular but the character in general) at WWPhilly, writer Garth Ennis remarked that the very "stiff upper lip" patter of the British military is still around today. He saw some footage of British air fighters in the Falklands War, and the communications between Command and the fighters was very droll: "Boys, there's a few blighters off to the left, take care of it, would you?" Not quite "Cabbage crates coming up over the briney" but there you go…I love the fact that with Who, SJA and Torchwood, we have closer to a year-round access to Doctor Who adventures. should the K-9 series ever get off the ground, that'll add to the fun.

      • Neil Ottenstein says:

        I saw the news at Outpost Gallifrey recently in a SJA article. It was hidden by a spoiler button.

  6. Vinnie Bartilucci says:

    bad wolf form to reply to my own reply, but I just found the piece on Outpost Gallifrey, along with news we'll see the Sontarans again, and news of Catherine Tate appearing in the buff in a serious play in the West End.Pictures. SOMEONE must have pictures…