The BBC have announced that the identity of the newest Companion for the record-breaking science fiction series Doctor Who will be announced Saturday, April 23rd, live on BBC One’s Match of the Day. During half-time of the FA Cup semi-final between Everton and Manchester United, the BBC will announce the name of the new actor to join Peter Capaldi on the TARDIS.
With the return of the series in 2005, each new face to join the series has been met with an increasing sense of occasion. Peter Capaldi’s announcement, for example, was announced in a global simulcast. Each castmember has been shrouded in secrecy previous to their introduction. When Karen Gillan was auditioning for her role, she was told to use the code name “Panic Moon”, an anagram of “Companion”. Jenna Coleman had to tell people she was auditioning for “Men on Waves”, an anagram for “Woman Seven”.
Things have changed greatly for Who-lumni in the modern era — typecasting is largely a thing of the past. Like the role of The Doctor, a spot as Companion can have an amazing effect on an actor’s cache. Karen Gillan has landed roles in numerous series on both sides of the proverbial (forgive me) Pond, including Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy. Jenna Coleman will soon be playing Queen Victoria, and Noel Clarke (Morty Mickey Smith in series one) has become an established director with films like Kidulthood.
With Match of the Day‘s kickoff scheduled for 5:15, half-time is expected at about 6PM. The BBC will also share the news on their various social media sites, followed immediately by a worldwide flurry of Googling and IMDBing the new actor for their resume, to see how long ago they showed up on Eastenders.
Doctor Who will be making only one dramatic appearance this year, the Christmas special, followed by a proper season 10 in 2017, which has already been announced to be showrunner Steven Moffat’s last. Rumors still abound as to Peter Capaldi’s future with the series after said season.
Clara:I don’t know where I am. It’s like I’m breaking into a million pieces and there is only one thing I remember: I have to save the Doctor. He always looks different. I always know it’s him. Sometimes I think I’m everywhere at once, running every second just to find him. Just to save him. But he never hears me. Almost never. I blew into this world on a leaf. I’m still blowing. I don’t think I’ll ever land. I’m Clara Oswald. I’m the impossible girl. I was born to save the Doctor. • The Name of the Doctor, Doctor Who, Series 7
Last week’s column (Paul Is Dead) was my bitchfest against the suits of the BBC and their relentless “wink-wink” interviews and spoiler-y “previews” of what’s to come on this season of Doctor Who. That it’s gotten so bad that “I’m expecting any moment to see an announcement… that Peter Capaldi wiped his ass after taking a shit.”
At least I’m not alone. Here’s what Simon Brew said in his review of Doctor Who’s Season 9’s penultimate episode, Heaven Sent:
“Doctor Who is a globally enjoyed TV show that continues to make serious and heavy inroads around the planet. It’s also a programme that therefore has to – even though it’s a BBC show – dance to the ratings game a little. As a consequence of that, the decision has been made somewhere along the line to release what I’d class as fairly significant spoilers in the build up to this episode, a few weeks ahead.
“I think – and it’s easy for me to say this from my perspective – that’s a mistake. Worse: I think it hurt the ending of Heaven Sentfor those who had read what should have been a more spoiler-light synopsis – or at least a more time sensitive one – for Hell Bent, the series finale.
“Appreciating that Steven Moffat, a year ago, already began teasing the cliffhanger of this episode, for those of us who were exposed to spoilers ahead of time – and thiswasn’t Internet chitter-chatter, they were formally released in a piece of publicity by the BBC – the reveal at the end of the episode lost a good chunk of its impact. Because we knew the Doctor was going to end up on Gallifrey. A big, geeky, nerdbump-generating moment had been sacrificed for many at the altar of the publicity machine, and that’s a real pity.”
Anyway, having experienced Clara’s death last week as an anti-climatic fallen soufflé, I stayed away from the Whovian universe – okay, I did read reviews and comments about Face the Raven at my favorite sites, which include Forbes, Vulture, Den of Geek, and Entertainment Weekly – and watched Heaven Sent with very little foreknowledge.
It made a huge difference, as I was able to not only simply watch Peter Capaldi’s amazing solo act, but also figure out what was going on, instead of waiting for the fait accompli.
SPOILER ALERT. In no order at all:
Not just the castle, but also the Doctor’s life is being continuously reset; those billions of skulls at the bottom of the sea are his.
Room 12 is his room, the twelfth Doctor (purists can shut up right now about Capaldi being the 13th reincarnation), which is why Clara’s portrait hung there.
The portrait is so old that the paint is cracked and flaking away. (This was actually when I realized that the Doctor had already been in that castle for centuries, if not thousands, of years.)
The Veiled “Thing” was something born of the Doctor’s own nightmares and fears and guilt and lies, which was why telling the truth stopped it. (Here I was expecting the Doctor to admit that he was ultimately the cause of Clara’s death, since her arrogance and recklessness was patterned on the Doctor’s own behavior.)
The word “Home” written on the “impenetrable” wall – I knew what that meant: Gallifrey.
But I didn’t expect to see the TARDIS, nor did I expect to see Jenna Coleman in the flesh.
That was the best part of the episode for me, as (perhaps?) for one last time, the “Impossible Girl” who has been there at every crisis in all the Doctor’s numerous lives pointed him in the right direction and told him to “get up off your arseand win.”
Why was it the best part of the episode for me?
“Don’t it always seem to go,
“That you don’t know what you’ve got
“’Til it’s gone”
Though I loved her incarnations as a Dalek and as a Victorian barmaid/governess, I never really “got” the modern-day Clara. She never felt truly defined for me – though now that I think of it, perhaps that was the point. Clara the individual stopped existing the moment she stepped into the Time Vortex – and because of all that “time-winey stuff,” she had done it before and would do it again – so that even the Clara we saw through Matt Smith’s time as the Doctor, and even now with Peter Capaldi, is still only a shade, a shadow, a piece of shattered personality. Which is why we saw modern-day Clara as a babysitter, then a teacher, then a lover and would-be wife and mother, a “member” of UNIT, and, then, finally, as an adventurer and “Time Lord.” It was as if Clara was trying on and discarding clothes in a department store fitting room, or walking through a funhouse Hall of Mirrors looking at all her distorted reflections. She seemed to be constantly asking herself, “Which one is the real me?”
Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman): Let me be brave. Let me be brave. • “Face the Raven” • Episode 10, Series 9 • Doctor Who
Well, that was… uh… umm…
It’s because it was all over the Internet, including an interview with Doctor Who show runner Stephen Moffat, that Jenna Coleman, a.k.a. Clara Oswald, a.k.a. The Impossible Girl, was leaving the series and that her exit would be horrible, dramatic, terrifying, and final – or words to that effect, anyway.
And it really wasn’t.
I don’t blame Peter Capaldi or Jenna Coleman for this; both of them turned in their usual brilliant performances. I don’t even blame Stephen Moffat all that much; he has to answer to the higher-up-the food-chain suits.
Those are the ones I blame – the suits who are obviously so frightened that Doctor Who will lose its “worldwide phenomenon” (as the New York Times called it around the time of the 50th anniversary) status and return to where it belongs – the little show that could, the ½ century-old cult that, like a Time Lord, regenerates itself every so often to become an obsession with a new generation of fans.
Seriously, guys, your obsession with keeping the media spotlight on Doctor Who since the 50th anniversary and The Day of The Doctor has become so relentless that I’m expecting any moment to see an announcement from you that Peter Capaldi wiped his ass after taking a shit.
Clara Oswald (Jenny Coleman): “We’re not a team.” Missy (Michelle Gomez): “Of course we are! Every miner needs a canary.” • The Witch’s Familiar, Doctor]. Who, Episode 2, Season 9 • Written by Steven Moffat • Directed by Hettie Macdonald
It was the Missy and Clara show on Saturday night on BBCAmerica.
Yep, the second episode of Season 9 of Doctor Who – The Witch’s Familiar – was a classic “buddy” movie writ large within the parameters of the Whovian universe, a twist on Thelma and Louise with Michelle Gomez and Jenna Oswald brilliantly playing off of each other like a well-oiled comic team of old (Abbot and Costello, Martin and Lewis, George and Gracie) – with a dollop of sociopathic menace and Dalekian evil plans thrown in for good measure.
And how disturbing was it when Clara was inside the Dalek? Talk about a callback! I was waiting for her to say, “Run, you clever boy. And remember me.” Which makes me ask: Does Clara have any memory at all of her previous lives?
Yes, a crackin’ good episode, I would even say fantastic, except for one thing:
No more sonic screwdriver?
Yes, Peter Capaldi looks absolutely kewwwwwl in those “Googlized” Ray-Bans, not to mention devastatingly handsome, but the sonic screwdriver is as iconic in the Doctor Who universe as is the TARDIS. But I shouldn’t be worrying, right? Probably the Doctor reclaimed his screwdriver after he “Exterminate[d]!” the Handmines and took li’l Davros home.
Yeah, those Handmines. Another brilliantly creepy concept there; and another callback to the scarily intimate power of touch in Doctor Who – the Weeping Angel taking hold of River Song’s hand in The Angels Take Manhattan, and Clara herself being the “thing” under the bed who grabs the ankles of the crying boy who will grow up to become the “bloke with a box.”
“Ben Carson Says He’d Consider Religion As Probable Cause For Searches on ABC News This Week with George Stephanopoulos • 12:01 P.M. September 27, 2015 • Samantha Page • ThinkProgress.com
I read Martha’s column (New and Diverse) and clicked on the link about DC Comics. It’s really, really sad that “affirmative action” or “positive discrimination” or whatever the hell you want to call it is still needed. I have just a few questions:
Not withstanding would-be professionals showing their wares at conventions to the editors of DC, how will an editor know what the pigmentation of the skin is of the person who sent in that utterly terrific story submission with examples of dialogue or art boards of totally beautiful sequential art? Are they just going to come out and ask, “What color are you?” before they offer any work, or at the least, an appointment to meet?
And isn’t that illegal?
Not to mention kinda insulting?
It reminds me of when you go to interview for a job, and you have to fill out one of those “non-discrimination” or “census” or whatever the hell they’re for – the U.S. Department of Labor? – papers where you’re asked to check off your gender and race – and Jesus Christ, people! When the hell are we going to stop using that word? We are all one race! If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be able to make babies with each other! A simple biological fact! If the Department of Labor, or the U.S. Census Bureau has to classify people, why can’t they use ethnicity instead of that word?!
Anyway, every time I fill out one of those things I think of quotas. Like the ones colleges and universities used to have for Jews. My uncle was not able to get into medical school because of his religion, until the University of Arkansas made him a deal – if he could get to the University by a certain date, because they suddenly had an “opening,” they would have a seat for him in the medical school. The date was only 24 hours away, and they obviously thought they were getting away with something, because how could a boy in the middle of the Depression make it from Bayonne, NJ to Fayetteville, Arkansas in one day? But my Uncle Ruby packed up and “rode the rails” with the hobos down to the South overnight – the admission board sure musta split a gut when he showed up on their doorstep, and, yes, they kept their promise.
Yeah, so whenever I fill out that paper I feel a bit suspicious – “What do they want to know for? Because I’m white and a woman and 60-going-on-61 am I going to be disqualified on the account of skin color, gender or age. Yes, all of you young’uns, ageism is out there, and it’s waiting for you. It’s the one discrimination nobody can avoid – if you live long enough.
Seems like the only thing they don’t ask is your religion.
But the way things are going in this country, I wouldn’t be surprised if that shows up, too. The way some of these Repugnantcan Presidential candidates talk, their wet dream is that the UnitedSA will soon be the ChristianSA. To paraphrase Dr. Ben Carson (but not by much): “A Muslim will only be President when you take this gun from my cold, dead hands.”
Ahh, what am I worrying about?
Like Sinclair Lewis wrote, “It Can’t Happen Here.”
As most of us Whovians and ComicMixers know, BBC America became the All Doctor Who All The Wibbly Wobbly Timey Winey Stuff network this past week in honor of the premiere of Season 9 – which, as I write this, airs tonight, Saturday, September 19. So I pretty much kept my TV tuned to channel 101 (the BBC America station on my cable system), except for some episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Hardball with Chris Matthews – oh, and the first half-hour of the Repugnantican debate on CNN, of which the less I have to say about that sorry affair the better, except that it disgusted me, and I returned to the All Doctor Who All The Wibbly Wobbly Timey Winey Stuff with relief.
So here’s a rundown of my opinions of random episodes in the lives of the Doctor.
There have been a number of emotion-walloping episodes since the reboot 10 years ago – see below – but TheEnd of Time “had me at hello.” Much of the credit goes to the absolutely smashing and brilliant Bernard Gribbins as Donna Noble’s grandfather, Wilfred Mott; there were so many moments, but two stand out for me: Wilfred’s tearful pleading and urging to the Doctor to kill the Master and save himself – “Now you take this, that’s an order, Doctor. You take the gun, you take the gun and save your life. And please don’t die, you’re the most wonderful man on earth! I don’t want you to die!” – and his final salute to the Gallifreyan at Donna’s wedding.
Don’t worry; of course I’m not ignoring David Tennant. His acting chops came to the fore here, from his rage and bitterness towards Wilfred, the man he had just told he “would be proud if he were my dad” for being the instrument of his end – “Cause you had to go in there, didn’t you? You had to go in there and get stuck, oh yes. ‘Cause that’s who you are, Wilfred. You were always this, waiting for me, all this time…But me…I could do so much more…So much more!…But this is what I get. My reward…But it’s not fair!” – to his last poignant visits, his last literally life-changing gifts to the people who had journeyed with him through this regeneration: Martha and Mickey, Sara Jane, Donna, Captain Jack, and, of course, the woman he loved, the woman he could never have, Rose Tyler. His last encounter with her, that last promise of “I bet you’re going to have a really great year” was both an acknowledgement that, because of WWTWS, for Rose it was just starting, but that for him, it was truly over. And yet… “I don’t want to go.”
Best Exit of a Companion
Or, in this case, companions. The Angels Take Manhattan rated a close second as “Most Heartbreaking,” as Amelia Pond, the “girl who waited,” became the “woman who refused to wait” – “It’ll be fine. I know it will. I’ll be with him like I should be. Me and Rory together.” – grabbed at the chance of a life in the past with the love of her life, her husband, Rory Williams (synchronally speaking, “the man who waited”). Yes, it broke Matt Smith’s Doctor’s hearts, but still she managed to let him know they were okay with no regrets, trying to offer him some comfort and reminding me that she and he were not over, because of all the WWTWS:
“Hello, old friend, and here we are. You and me, on the last page. By the time you read these words, Rory and I will be long gone. So know that we lived well, and were very happy. And above all else, know that we will love you, always. Sometimes I do worry about you, though. I think once we’re gone, you won’t be coming back here for a while, and you might be alone, which you should never be. Don’t be alone, Doctor. And do one more thing for me. There’s a little girl waiting in a garden. She’s going to wait a long while, so she’s going to need a lot of hope. Go to her. Tell her a story. Tell her that if she’s patient, the days are coming that she’ll never forget. Tell her she’ll go to sea and fight pirates. She’ll fall in love with a man who’ll wait two thousand years to keep her safe. Tell her she’ll give hope to the greatest painter who ever lived and save a whale in outer space. Tell her this is the story of Amelia Pond. And this is how it ends.”
Hmm, here’s a WWTWS question: Did little Amelia Pond wait so long – 12 years! – because the Doctor was off having adventures with the grown-up Amy and Rory? Was everything that we saw actually a repeat of everything that had already happened?
Best Return of a Companion
Sarah Jane Smith in “School Reunion.” Elisabeth Sladen was my first companion (with Tom Baker), and for me she set the standard – and I believe for everyone who followed her. She broke the mold of what had come before. Rather than transcribe their meeting, here’s the link to the YouTube vid. And in honor of the late Ms. Sladen, here’s a link to her.
As always, YMMV.
Best Introduction of a Companion
Jenna Coleman as Oswin Oswald in “Asylum of the Daleks” – or is that as Clara Oswin Oswald in “The Snowmen” – or is that as Clara Oswald in “The Bells of Saint John?” Yep, it’s “The Impossible Girl,” who has saved the Doctor in all his incarnations since the very beginning, when she guided him to the right TARDIS: “Sorry. But you were about to make a very big mistake. Don’t steal that one; steal this one. The navigation system’s knackered, but you’ll have much more fun.” Here I am proud to announce that I guessed the identity of the Doctor’s (upcoming) new companion in a phone call with Editor Mike, even though you tried to tell me I was wrong, Mr. Gold. Yes, you did. No matter how you try to deny it, it is a fact.
Best Confrontation between the Doctor and the Companion
I’m watching it rerun right now. Clara Oswald, in the penultimate Season 8 episode, “Dark Water,” demands that the Doctor prevent her boyfriend, Danny Pink, from being killed in a car accident, blackmailing him by throwing the keys of the TARDIS, one by one, into the lava pit of an active volcano…sorry, I have to stop writing for a second…
Okay, I’m back.
Best Recurring Character
Make that “Characters,” with an “s.” Im-not-so-ho, the Paternoster Gang: The Silurian lizard lady, Madam Vastra, (Neve McIntosh), her human wife (who masquerades as her maid), Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart), and the “Mr. Potato Head” Sontaran Strax (Dan Starkey), their butler. Hah! I bet you thought I was going to say River Song.
Runner-up to Best Recurring Character
Jemma Richardson as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, first seen as UNIT’s (UNified Intelligence Taskforce, nee United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) Head of Scientific Research, and later its Director. Hah! I bet you thought I was going to say River Song.
Bravest Loss of a Supporting Character
Danny Pink, the soldier, killed in a car accident, turned into a Cyberman by Missy, and yet rising above his programming to turn certain defeat into certain victory in “Death in Heaven.”
Saddest Loss of a Supporting Character Runner-Up
Kate Stewart’s assistant, the asthmatic Osgood (Ingrid Oliver), became an instant fan favorite when she was introduced in the 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor,” sucking down on her inhaler and wearing the Fourth Doctor’s (Tom Baker) scarf, which she either knitted herself or “borrowed” from the archives hidden in UNIT’s Tower of London headquarters. We caught up with her in Season 8’s finale, “Death in Heaven,” in which she’s still sucking down on that inhaler, but now wears the Eleventh Doctor’s (Matt Smith) bow tie – again, she either went out and bought it or “borrowed” it from UNIT’s archives. But our reunion with her was brief, because The Mistress, a.k.a. Missy, The Master’s female incarnation, kills her.
But wait! It has been revealed that Osgood will be back in Season 9! How? Is she really the Zygon impersonator from “The Day of the Doctor,” or will be more WWTWS?
Best The Master
John Simm, especially in his last arc (“The End of Time.”) In his portrayal as the Doctor’s “Professor Moriarty” in “The End of Time,” Simm heartrendingly played to perfection the other side of the poor, wrecked mind of The Master; we got a glimpse of “what might have been.” Instead, it was revealed that The Master was a pawn of the Time Lord President Rassilon (Timothy Dalton) – who was responsible for the drumbeat in The Master’s head that drove him mad and onto the path of his many lives. Sorry, Missy fans, she’s okay, but I’m just not that into her.
Best Season Finale
“Death in Heaven.” Im-not-so-ho, this one had everything. Life and death, hope and resignation, love and hatred. There were final reunions and final sacrifices. And a season-long question was answered – “Am I a good man?” But the best part? Brigadier Sir Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart finally got that salute from the Doctor.
Fathom events will team with BBC Worldwide North America for a national broadcast of the Doctor Who series eight climax Dark Water/Death in Heaven this fall. Scheduled for September 15th and 16th, and presented in 3D, the event will also feature a new prequel teaser for series nine entitled The Doctor’s Meditation. In addition Wil Wheaton, former Wesley Crusher and now multiform internet sensation, will host a special interview with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman.
Fathom Events has had a several-year partnership with BBC, beginning with a national broadcast of the 50th anniversary episode The Day of the Doctor, which the company described as bringing the “largest surges of traffic ever” to their website. They’ve since broadcast the Series 8 premiere episode Deep Breath, as well as a presentation of the David Tennant two-parter Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel. Fathom have presented a number of genre-friendly events, including an ongoing series of science fiction films “commented on” by MST3K alumni at RiffTrax, and an upcoming return to theaters of the animated classic The Iron Giant.
When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth. As Cybermen. See what he did there? The Master is back, and has been working on this plot for QUITE a long time. Some old friends return for the fight, we say goodbye (for now, anyway) to some others, and oh goodness, were there still surprises. I don’t know why you’d be reading this recap before you saw the episode, but if you are, don’t. Because it makes much more sense to know about the…
DEATH IN HEAVEN
By Steven Moffat
Directed by Rachel Talalay
Some will say they knew all along, and some are still scraping their jaws off the floor A big surprise, a BIG surprise.
By Steven Moffat
Directed by Rachel Talalay
Deciding to come clean with her boyfriend Danny, Clara begins to bear all to him over the phone, only to have the call, and his life, cut short as Danny is struck fatally by a passing car. Clara passes through the five stages of grief off camera, and advances to step six – Plan To Get Him Back. She attempts to threaten The Doctor into saving him, but learns quickly that it’s not necessary. As they arrive in a bizarre mausoleum, Danny awakens on the other side of the equation, in the same office where we’ve seen several people arrive, having it explained to him that he’s dead. The Doctor and Clara are told a wild story – a discovery about the afterlife that has caused a change in the mortuary industry. But in fact, the bodies are not being protected from harm, but harvested for organic base materials by the Cybermen. But it turns out there’s not one old foe to face, there’s two – the enigmatic Missy is in fact The Doctor’s old foe The Master, back again, in a new form, and clearly playing the long game.
As thrilling as the reveals were in the episode (especially the final one), not a great deal happens. We finally learn about the background of Danny Pink, in a series of very good scenes, played well by Samuel Anderson. But largely, the episode is set-up for next week’s finale – we learn who the foe is (are), we learn about the plot, and that’s about it. Lots of good acting between Capaldi and Coleman, not to mention a welcome return from Sheila Reid as Clara’s Gran.
Given the nature of this story, we must note the SPOILER ALERT. Proceed with caution.
GUEST STAR REPORT –
Rachel Talalay (Director) started her genre career right at the start, directing the Nightmare on Elm Street sequel Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, a title that managed to lie twice. She directed the…divisive…Tank Girl, and Ghost in the Machine, a film with a story somewhat thematically linked to this one. The majority of her career has been in television, both here in the US and the UK. She directed two episodes of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), some Ally McBeal, and more recently Kyle XY and the…divisive…Flash Gordon series from Syfy.
THE MONSTER FILES – The Cybermen have had quite a few appearances in the new series, most recently in this new design in Neil Gaiman’s Nightmare in Silver. Our universe’s version of the cyborg monsters came from the planet Mondas, a tenth planet in the solar system that was ripped from orbit. The denizens of the world slowly replaced their body parts to survive, and eventually became a race that saw what we call the Singularity as the logical progression of life. The version of the Cybermen we’ve seen in the new series are from a parallel dimension colloquially known as Pete’s World, after Rose Tyler’s father. Inventor John Lumic created them as a new step in evolution, but as happens, his invention got out of hand. There’s been a question all along of whether the Cybermen we’ve seen in recent years are some amalgamation of the Pete’s World and Mondasian Cybermen. Considering one of the promo shots for this adventure featured The Doctor holding the head of a classic series Cyberman, we may finally see the question at least addressed.
The Master was created simply to be the Moriarty to The Doctor’s Sherlock. Played originally by the late Roger Delgado, The Master remained a threat to the universe through the original and new series, and even the TV movie, played by Eric Roberts. His history kept under wraps, it’s known that he and The Doctor knew each other from the Time Lord Academy, being members of the student think tank The Deca. Rumors have bubbled about that before Delgado’s passing, there was to be an adventure where it would be revealed The Doctor and The Master were brothers – of course, since it was never written, one could claim it never happened. The Master has always had a habit of working in the background, often behind the thin veil of a play on words pseudonym. Even the name used when John Simm played him, “Mister Saxon” was an anagram of “Master No. Six”, as in the sixth actor to play the role.
BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS –
PLEASING PETER TO PLAY PAUL’S – The scene of the Cybermen streaming out of St. Paul’s is a clear hat-tip to the iconic scene from the lost Troughton adventure The Invasion, which featured among other things, the first appearance of UNIT, who will feature heavily in the next episode.
“Shut up – stay Shut Up” – More examples of Clara becoming more like The Doctor – this is is a reflection of how The Doctor asked everyone for a bit of shush in Time Heist.
“All of the stuff that I did wrong” – The Post-Its all over Clara’s bookshelves have references to adventures from this season, with a couple of interesting unseen references – I don’t recall an adventure with a “Miniature Clara,” and there’s only on Jenny I can recall, and if she’s shown up again off camera, a lot of people are going to demand we go back and get a look.
“The car – it just came out of nowhere” – This is a very good description of how Pete Tyler was killed in Father’s Day. After Rose brashly decides to save him, thus bollixing up the time line the car that was to have hit him keeps passing the same point on the road, giving Pete the chance to put thins right by letting happen what has happened already.
“I am owed” – Clara has literally saved The Doctor’s life an incalculable number of times by stepping into his timeline and fixing the havoc wrought by The Great Intelligence. It’s not clear exactly how much time has passed since the accident, but it can’t be more than a couple days – the flowers are still fresh in her kitchen. It’s hard to know how long she’s been planning this little gambit of hers, or how long she’s been letting that phone ring.
“You told me what it would take to destroy a TARDIS key” – Let the mash-ups between this scene and the end of Lord of the Rings commence.
“All seven” – Between the Pertwee and Baker years, there was a stage play called Doctor Who and the Daleks in Seven Keys to Doomsday, for which the number of keys is surely a hat-tip. And in case you missed it, one of the keys was hidden in a copy of The Time Traveler’s Wife.
“If I change the events that brought you you here, you will never COME here and ask me to change those events” – This is a textbook description of the Grandfather Paradox. As Isaac Asimov explained it once on Cosmos, “If I go back and kill my grandfather, I will never be born, which means I will never go back to kill him, which means he’s not dead, which means I CAN go back and kill him”. While every sci-fi fan can think of dozens of ways to get around that little catch-22, it always seems inviolate in the context of a story…until it isn’t, of course.
A big question might be why Clara saw the need to go straight to threats and chicanery to get this sorted. Likely she’s seen The Doctor go on about the laws of time so many times she knew what he’d say, but as we see, she’s clearly and obviously wrong.
“Remember we did this before” – Clara found Danny accidentally in Listen – here they’re doing it again, but on purpose. And once again, they show up at a moment important to Danny’s life, namely the bit at the end. There’s a question of exactly when they’ve arrived, though. Based on what we’ve seen in past episodes, people’s exit interviews, for lack of a better term, seem to occur immediately after passing. This would mean they are in fact a few days in Clara’s past, immediately after the accident. But if there’s the chance that the process of scanning and encoding of the mind onto the Nethersphere takes some time, they may be in her present, or a bit more.
“White Noise off the telly” – in the world of parapsychology, this is known as Electronic voice phenomenon, the idea that the background noise on broadcasts and recording are supernatural in nature. The movement also sparked a horror film starring Michael Keaton. The idea of voices coming out of the TV was also touched on in modern Clara’s first adventure, The Bells of St. John.
“I feel like I’m missing something…obvious” – Well, yes, but it’s hardly the first time. He failed utterly to recall the Madame DePompadour in Deep Breath (although in fairness, he didn’t actually learn the name of the ship) and he completely forgot the existence of the Great Intelligence a year before that. Well, you have a couple thousand years of memories, a few are going to slip through the cracks. That’s surely why he keeps a diary. And BTW, as fun as the moment was then the penny dropped, I can only imagine how great it would have been if we hadn’t all already known the Cybermen were in the episode.
“My Birthday, when is it?” – November 23 is not only Clara Oswald’s Birthday, it’s the birthday of Clara Oswin Oswald from The Snowmen, and presumably that of Oswin Oswald in Asylum of the Daleks. And yes, it’s the date that Doctor Who was first broadcast in 1963.
That’s a Matrix dataslice – a Gallifreyan hard drive” – The Matrix, also referred to as the APC net, was a massive repository of the memories and personalities of past and passed Time Lords. The Doctor entered the Net in The Deadly Assassin, and experienced it as a virtual world. So yes, there was a computer-based virtual world called The Matrix several decades before those two fellows decided to put Keanu Reeves in one.
“Imagine you could upload dying minds into that – edit them, re-arrange them” – Oh, you mean like The Library did for CAL in Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead? A computer that houses the mind of River Song? A story written by Steven Moffat? Odd that there’s a similarity there, eh?
“We can help with all these difficult feelings” – Have you caught the similarity for all the people who’ve appeared in the Nethersphere? They’re all military – The half-faced man was in charge of his ship, Gretchen was a soldier, the policeman had at least regimental police training, and Danny served in the Middle East. Perfect fodder for warriors, once you get rid of the emotions. The goal for the minds in the Nethersphere is to be downloaded into Cybermen. In the past, an emotional inhibitor would prevent the human portions of the system from going mad from the experience. Similarly, the trauma of having the emotions forcibly erased would likely damage the psyche, rendering them unusable. But if you could get the person to delete the emotions willingly, a la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, that would result in a clean slate to build on the trained military base mind. Chilling and efficient.
“I’m Missy…short for Mistress” – As in his appearance in The Sound of Drums, The Master has clearly been setting up this plan for a long time, enough to set up the fake “white noise” discovery, get the multiple 3W institutes built, no to mention harvest the dying minds. Indeed, considering the first ones we saw collected were from the Victorian era and centuries in the future, one wonders if she’s been grabbing minds for centuries, or somehow able to pluck them from across time. And if you want to have one more recurring idea, The master is once again taking the human race, putting them in metal casings, and using them as an army. Last time he was doing it to living humans and calling them the Toclafane, and now it’s with dead ones and making them Cybermen, but largely it’s a very similar plan.
“You know the key strategic weakness of the Human Race…the dead outnumber the living” – So yeah, basically this is a zombie movie with sci-fi trappings. We got a mummy a few weeks back, we’ve had vampires and werewolves, so why not?
BIG BAD WOLF REPORT –
LORDS AND LADIES – People have clamored for a female Doctor for years; surely a female Master is progress? After a few teasing mentions that it was possible for a Time Lord to switch gender during regeneration, this is the first time we’ve seen it on screen.
The last time we saw The Master was at the end of The End of Time, being sent back into the time lock with the rest of Gallifrey and the high council of the Time Lords. Since then we have learned that the entire planet Gallifrey was spun sideways out of the universe entirely, giving the impression that it had been destroyed in the Time War with the Daleks (who of course have not been seen since). The Time Lords were able to slip enough energy to reset The Doctor’s regeneration cycle, so one must presume that there might have been enough space to let one Time Lord pass through as well. One must hope we’ll here more about how he came back, and became a she, in the coming week.
“Clearly you have not received the official 3W greetings package” – Theories about the exact relationship between The Doctor and The Master are manifold. But considering Missy described The Doctor as “my boyfriend” at the beginning of the season, and the fervor of the Louisiana Lip Lock she slaps on him here, one could be forgiven for suggesting that this new gender permutation affords The Master some latitude in her attitude.
“Have you ever killed anybody?” – One of Danny’s students asks him this in the first scene we meet him, and here the question is at the end of the series getting answered. The event is clearly something that affected him seriously – it’s likely the event that made him leave the military.
“Be strong, even if it breaks your heart” – Surely the latest lesson in How To Be The Doctor.
“I love you” – Some are claiming that this is a clue that this isn’t really Danny, or an incomplete simulation of him. I think it’s more obvious than that – Danny is sacrificing himself for Clara. It’s not that he can’t remember the little details about their life, he just can’t believe she’s testing him at this very stressful moment. So when she threatens to end the call if all he can say is “I love you”, he’s pushing her away so she won’t come to this horrific place and risk getting trapped there.
NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – UNIT fights the Cybermen again, and The Doctor has a great fall. Death in Heaven is a week away.
It’s the premise of a classic short novel by a Shakespearian scholar and at least a half dozen EC Comics. What happens when beings based in a differing number of dimensions interact? Usually it’s the higher dimensions assaulting us, but if the invasion comes from the ground up, one would hope your defensive wall could be a…
By Jamie Mathieson
Directed by Douglas Mackinnon
A mysterious force is causing the dimensions in a council estate near Bristol to collapse, resulting in people vanishing, with only distended and partial projections left behind. The TARDIS is affected by the distortion, and when it lands, the connection between the interior and exterior of the ship is…oddly affected. Reduced to half-size, and then smaller, The Doctor is trapped within the ship, leaving Clara as the one with boots on the ground to discover the source of the attack, save everyone, and get the TARDIS back in shape – literally. It sounds easy-peasy lemon squeezy, but it turns out to be difficult-difficult lemon…difficult.
Possibly one of the best mixes of humor and horror in an episode in quite a long time. The magnificent distensions of the human form created by the art department are perfectly counterbalanced by the truly hilarious sight of Peter Capaldi’s hand reaching out the door of a tiny TARDIS to drag itself across the ground. And once again, the theme of the series shines through once again – lying.
GUEST STAR REPORT – Christopher Fairbank (Fenton) most recently played The Broker in Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s had parts in genre classics like The Fifth Element and the Underworld TV series, as well as voices in video games like Puppeteer.
John Cummins (George) worked on Steven Moffat’s series Coupling, though on the production end. He’s been seen before the camera on The Hour in a couple of roles, and a member of Parliament in the most recent 24 series Live Another Day.
BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS –
BUT I KNOW WHAT I LIKE – Writer Jamie Mathieson got the job for writing this episode with a unique pitch – he drew a series of pictures based on the stories, including for the one that would become this episode. As opposed to the previous episode where Moffat handed him the title and told him to write a story around it, this one was all his idea, and Steven liked the idea of the monster enough that he asked Jamie to, ironically, flesh it out.
A good idea of how a Flatlander would see broccoli.
YOU’RE NOT THINKING TWO-DIMENSIONALLY – Edwin Abbot wrote the novela Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, as satire of Victoran culture, but it accurately described how a three-dimensional creature would be perceived in a two-dimensional world. Carl Sagan discussed the concept in the original Cosmos, summarizing the mathematical bits of the story with visual aids. The three-dimensional extrusions of the flatlanders are a pretty good example of how they’d us “three-deers” – a series of slices. They took that idea and mapped it to a 3-d form, the end result being what looks like the “people” traveling through physical space with those slices making up their form. Creative, and chilling.
UP AGAINST THE WALL, MOTHER… – There’s at least two recent videogames that use the idea of becoming two-dimensional as part of the game mechanic. The PS3 platformer SIDEWAY: New York allows you to flatten against walls the make your way around buildings and collect graffiti tokens, and the latest Legend of Zelda game A Link Between Worlds lets Link step into cracks between light and dark lands in the adventure for the Nintendo 3DS.
DOCTOR-LITE – As has become traditional and required, this episode featured a reduced appearance by The Doctor to allow Peter Capaldi and the production staff to produce more episodes in less time. Starting with Love and Monsters, each series has featured episodes where some of the cast appeared in limited capacity to allow for what’s called “double banking”. This episode was a reverse of The Lodger, where Amy Pond was trapped in the TARDIS while The Doctor had to work alone with only audio connection to his friend. In both cases, this allowed the actor on the standing set to film their scenes in a short time, leaving their schedule open for other episodes’ filming. Tennant and Tate each got a largely solo adventure in the episodes Midnight and Turn Left.
LET’S GET SMALL – The TARDIS has had issues with shrinkage before. The Hartnell story Planet of Giants was sparked by the TARDIS materializing at the wrong size, resulting in both the ship and its inhabitants ending up the wrong size. A small error in calculation resulted in the TARDIS being reduced to 50% in size in Logopolis. The Doctor flipped the script on the idea when fighting The Monk in The Time Meddler – he removed the dimensional control from The Monk’s ship, so while the outside of the ship remained the same, the interior reduced in size, so The Monk couldn’t enter it.
“It’s called the 2Dis…why do I even bother…” – One of the things I was hoping for this series was a reduction of the use of the Sonic Screwdriver as a catch-all fix-me-up, and we’ve gotten that. We’re back to seeing The Doctor create slapdash gadgets to achieve the results required, like The Machine That Goes “ding” When There’s Stuff. That they don’t always work right is more logically explained by the fact that he’s usually literally built them on the run with anything he can lay his hands on. Considering the TARDIS is able to instantly
BIG BAD WOLF REPORT – The theme from last episode carries through to this one – Lying. The Doctor Lies all the time, and here we see Clara finding out why.
“Excellent lying, Doctor Owsald” – Clara’s lie from last episode is exposed to both people it affected – The Doctor learned that she lied about Danny being “Okay with it” them continuing to travel, and Danny has certainly been made open to suspicion that she’s not kept her feet safe on the ground. And as a rule, lying to people doesn’t usually go well, especially in people with whom you’re in a relationship. And both gentlemen meet that description, however different those relationships may be.
Also, that’s a nice parallel to Donna Noble being referred to as “The DoctorDonna” near the end of her run on the series as she merged minds with the Meta-Crisis Doctor, resulting in the first human Time Lord. She got to do the swooping in at the end and saving everyone with all the switch-flipping, and Clara had to do the hard lifting of keeping everyone together and safe until a plan came together.
“Lie to them…give them hope” – The Doctor feels quite uncomfortable about how plainly his tactics are being exposed and explained to him by Clara.
“You were an exceptional Doctor, Clara…’goodness’ has nothing to do with it” – This is the mindset of The Doctor in this series and this incarnation in microcosm. Look at what she has to do – establish dominance in a panicked crowd, take no time to mourn those who die during the fight, and spend every moment puffing everyone up so they think they have a chance of surviving. That’s been Capaldi’s job all year. And she did it beautifully.
“My Clara…I have chosen well” – Missy is back, watching the action via an iPad that’s positively HUGE in her hands. Now of course, this only begs the question, how does she define “chosen”? We might suspect we’re back to thinking she’s the one who gave Clara the phone number to the TARDIS, but it might be more a case of just choosing who will be the one to help The Doctor the most. It would be quite a frustrating turn of events if it turns out Clara was a mole all along (as well as patently contradicting her reason for existence for most of the series), so any connection would be, one would hope, non-complicit on her part.
NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – Clearly the governmental “go green” initiative has gone too far. In The Forest Of The Night, coming this Saturday.
It’s the classic time travel question – would you kill a dangerous killer in their crib, before they’ve actually done anything? Well, what is you weren’t sure the baby was going to do anything? What if you were asked to…
KILL THE MOON
By Peter Harness
Directed by Paul Whilmshurst
Clara speaks to the entire Earth – they run the risk of the Earth being destroyed if they don’t kill an innocent being. “The man who normally helps” is nowhere to be found, and a decision must be made. Flashing backwards, we learn that Coal Hill student Courtney Woods has not reacted well to her brief run on the TARDIS. The Doctor told her she “wasn’t special”, a comment she’s taken to heart. Clara asks him to apologize; he instead offers her a chance to be the first woman on the Moon.
Alas, all is not well there. In 2049, the moon has mysteriously gained 1.3 billion tons of extra mass, causing staggering tides on Earth. It turns out the moon is something altogether new to The Doctor’s eyes, and rather than help…he walks away.
This was a very dark episode with a bright ending, only to reveal that light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. I expect we’ll see this story used in argument for certain social issue quite soon now. Fabulous performances all round.
GUEST STAR REPORT – Hermione Norris (Lundvik) is well known to British audiences for many regular TV appearances in series like Spooks and Cold Feet.
Tony Osoba (Duke) – is one of a smallish group of actors who’s appeared in both the new and original run of the series. He had roles in both Destiny of the Daleks and some years later in Dragonfire.
Paul Whilmshurst (director) will be back next week, and will be directing the Christmas episode. He has a long resume of TV directing, both drama and reality/documentary.
Peter Harness (writer) has been writing for British television for nearly a decade now. He wrote and appeared in a TV movie about British comedy legend Frankie Howerd, who was played by Who-lumnus David Walliams.
THE MONSTER FILES – The Moon has been the setting of many Who adventures over the decades. It first threatened the Earth millions of years ago, where the dominant life form of the Earth, who would come to be known as Silurians, feared a monstrous asteroid would crash into the planet. They set themselves up in massive hibernation cities to sleep through the disaster, only for the heavenly body to be trapped by the Earth’s gravity and become the Moon. That change to the delicate balance of the orbital mechanics of the solar system was enough to allow the planet Mondas to break free of its orbit, returning millennia later as The Tenth Planet. There have been many bases on the Moon, built and manned by both human and alien forces. The Cybermen tried to attack one in an appropriately titled episode. It would be used as a penal colony, house River Song’s alma mater, and eventually, we’d haul in four more for additional real estate. Needless to say, there’s never been any mention of it hatching a titanic alien and leaving another one in its place, but that’s the sort of thing that gets forgotten when you’re trying to fight off Draconians.
Doctor Who has had its share of spidersas well, even if in this case they’re just bacteria that resemble spiders, by some mad coincidence. Brought with human explorers in the future, spiders would evolve to control the world of Metebelis III, eventually known as the Planet of the Spiders. The Racnoss were a semi-arachnid race who planned an overthrow of the world, stopped by the able assistance of The Runaway Bride.
BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS –
SET PIECES – Rather than go for the old reliable stone quarry, the production team traveled to Lanzarote, part of the Canary Islands off Africa, to duplicate the surface of the Moon. It was last used in the Davison adventure Planet of Fire.
I WEAR THE CLOTHES OF THE REGENERATED – Capaldi is wearing David Tennant’s spacesuit from The Satan Pit, a suit which is rapidly becoming the most recycled prop on the show, gaining on that rock used on almost every alien planet in the classic series.
“No being sick and no hanky-panky” – Considering the last time there was…you know, what-not… on the TARDIS, it resulted in River Song, a clear example of a result which caused both happiness and hardship.
“You’ll have to spend a lot of time, shooting me, because I will keep on regenerating” – The Doctor may be bluffing when says he might keep on regenerating forever – he made a similar comment on The Sarah Jane Adventures when he was asked how many times he could do it. But the new energy infusion given him by the Time Lords is something new – it’s not known if it was enough for one, a whole new cycle of twelve, or a potentially infinite number.
“What is wrong with my yo-yo?” – The Doctor used a yo-yo to test gravity force during the Baker years, with the same color yo-yo, yet. I’ve mentioned before that this Doctor is using more gadgets, large and small, to get things done, not just relying on the Sonic Screwdriver, a change I love campaigned for.
“That’s what you do with aliens, isn’t it? Blow them up?” It’s not The Doctor’s primary method, but it’s come up a couple times. Prime Minister Harriet Jones, (Yes, we know who you are) contacted Torchwood to destroy the retreating Sycorax spaceship at the end of The Christmas Invasion. And after Leela recommended it the whole time, The Doctor suddenly “came up with the idea” of blowing up The Invisible Enemy.
“High tide everywhere at once” – Well, no. It’d be tides far higher than normal for parts of the Earth both facing and pointed away from the moon, and calamitous low tides at the sides.
“When I say run…run” – So much fun to see bits of the old Doctors pop up again. That was one of the second Doctor’s catch phrases, like in this clip from Tomb of the Cybermen.
“There are some moments in time that I simply can’t see” This is a new take on the old reliable “Fixed Point”, where crucial points in history exist, chronal tipping points that cannot be changed. But here, rather than just walking away, here he forces three humans to make a choice that will damn the world, either physically, or by making them party to genocide.
“My Gran used to put things on tumblr” There actually is a girl named Courtney Woods with an account on tumblr, and I expect she’s getting an amazing increase in traffic right now. The Doctor Who tumblr community is amazingly vast and creative, featuring animation, art and filk music. It’s neat we’re finally getting a shout out.
“The last time you said that, she turned up on the wrong side of the planet!” – Clara is referring to the events of Cold War, where the TARDIS popped off to the south pole because The Doctor turned on the HADS, or Hostile Action Displacement System.
“There’s some DVDs in the blue bookshelf – just stinck on in the TARDIS console, it’ll bring you to me” There are exactly seventeen DVD titles containing the program that will automatically return the TARDIS to The Doctor’s location. They are the seventeen DVDs owned by Sally Sparrow, as revealed in the classic Blink.
“We didn’t nip out after pudding and kill Hitler” River Song, or rather Mels certainly tried that one time.
“Turn your lights off” – Real world physics get in the way here. Luckily, when they see the moon from Earth at the end of the episode, it’s full, which means it’d be behind the Earth. That’s backed up by the fact that the Moon is fully lit throughout the episode. This means when they were looking at the Earth, they’d be looking at the side in night If they were on the other side, they’d never be able to see the lights. But unless my math is wrong, 45 minutes is not close to enough time for the light-up votes of the entire Earth to be seen – only an additional sliver of the Earth’s circumference would com around.
“Mind your language, please – there are children present” I count one child. Whoever could The Doctor be referring to in the plural? Patronizing, indeed.
“You made your decision…humanity made its choice” Assuming the vote is the same on the bright side, the Earth chose to kill a beautiful and innocent creature to save themselves. That’s more than a bit similar to the choice the denizens of Britain made when they built the Starship UK in The Beast Below. Considering they made themselves all forget they did it then, maybe that’s a viable explanation why it’s so rarely mentioned in future history.
“Not bad for a girl from Coal Hill School” I for one am perfectly ready for Courtney Woods to come on full time as a companion. We’re seeing her make a massive change in just these two episodes. She’s not well educated, she’s an average kid. And as such is a more perfect avatar for the viewer than any of the adult companions we’ve seen in the entire new series. Companions are often younger in the comics for that reason. It’s likely the extra issues of a minor working on a TV show, especially one as intensive as Doctor Who that precludes such a casting choice, but for a girl for this this is her first professional acting job, Ellis George is more than up for it.
BIG BAD WOLF REPORT – Clara’s arc is once again the only one furthered this week. The blowout argument with The Doctor, combined with the heart-to-heart with Danny, certainly points towards a change of affiliation in the future.
“It’s time to take the stabilizers off your bike” there may be two levels of action happening here. The Doctor is forcing Clara to make a staggering decision. He is also causing a rift in their relationship. What are the odds that this is another attempt to push Clara to safety? It’s plainly obvious that Clara will do everything in her power to help The Doctor – she hung onto the outside of the TARDIS for an eyes-open trip through the time vortex in The Time of the Doctor. She’s already spent an unknown amount of time racing through his timeline, fixing what The Great Intelligence set wrong. Perhaps he knows she deserves a rest, and knows the only way she’d leave is if he all but pushes her away. As here, The Doctor is forcing Clara to make a massive choice.
“You wanna have babies?” Courtney’s teasing mention of Danny is spot on. Assuming he’s not something Clever and surprising from Moffat’s dark evil heart, the budding relationship between Danny and Clara is almost a certainty. There’s not much that could stop it – death, perhaps, or as mentioned, an inability to leave The Doctor.
“I’ve got Grey areas” “Yeah, I noticed” It sure sounds like a hair joke, but on further rumination, it’s pretty clear Clara is talking about the grey areas in The Doctor’s personality. This is an extension of that first question – “Am I a good man?”
That’s the quote from David Copperfield on Clara’s board. Once again, the choices of quotes Clara selects are amazingly prescient.
“I had a really bad day” – Yes, there’s absolutely a very big story to be told here, and there’s still a chance it may not be a good one for Clara and their relationship.
NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – The Doctor tests the little grey cells. Mummy on the Orient Express, coming this Saturday.