As River Song is want to warn: Spoilers!There’s going to be a lot of talk in this column about what happened on this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, ”The Time of the Doctor.” There’s no way around critiquing the show without talking about what happened in it. If you haven’t seen it but intend to, you may want to avoid this column.There are plenty of other fine columns here at ComicMix so you can read them instead if you like.
The Doctor is dead; long live the Doctor. Matt Smith’s tenure as Doctor Who has given way to Peter Capaldi’s. It all happened in this year’s Christmas Special, The Time of the Doctor. I wish I could tell you it was wonderful but, in truth, I was underwhelmed.
Steven Moffat, the showrunner and the author of the episode, is a very clever writer. Sometimes he’s too clever and sometimes he’s not as clever as he thinks. For the Fiftieth Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor, he was wonderfully clever with deeply felt emotional moments, a thrilling climax, and a special appearance at the end which just knocked my socks off and dangled them from my ears. In this episode, Moffat was very clever and very good as he so often is. All of which made my dissatisfaction with the Christmas Special so much the greater.
The Time of the Doctor had two important issues to settle. It was to mark the regeneration, the transition, of the Doctor from Matt Smith to the new Doctor, now played by Peter Capaldi. Having now established that Matt Smith’s Doctor was the final one in the Doctor’s regeneration cycle, it had to establish how Capaldi’s Doctor was possible. Moffat decided also to bring together dangling threads from previous episodes. That makes it a very busy episode and one of its narrative problems.
One of the problems is a prophecy that occurs in an earlier episode, The Wedding of River Song, it says that on “the fields of Trenzalore, at the Fall of the Eleventh, when no creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a question will be asked. A question that must never ever be answered: Doctor who?” Problem: Matt Smith’s Doctor is no longer the Eleventh Doctor. “The Day of the Doctor” introduced John Hurt as the War Doctor, who was now the Ninth incarnation and that made Matt Smith the Twelfth Doctor. If he isn’t the Twelfth Doctor, then all the hoohah of this being his final incarnation is just blather. The plot hinges on it.
There are a lot of problems with this story. Early on, it has his companion, Clara, frantically asking the Doctor to come to her apartment and pretend to be her boyfriend for a Christmas dinner she’s cooking for her parents and grandmother. This makes no sense to me. Clara is gorgeous and she can’t get a local guy to do the part?
When the Doctor and Clara get to Trenzalore, there is a small farming community of humans and the town is named Christmas. I guess we’re in the future. Beaming down, they find some Weeping Angels buried in the snow. The Weeping Angels were really creepy the first time I saw them; now they’re just annoying. Their powers change to whatever Moffat wants them to be. One touch and you’re dead. Or tossed back in time for some reason. One grabs Clara’s boot so she should be dead or tossed back in time or something but she’s not. The Weeping Angels then do not figure into the rest of the story.
All of the Doctor’s foes are gathered around the planet (been there, seen that in The Pandorica Opens) and we have the Daleks who were made to forget all about the Doctor except now they don’t anymore.
There is a crack in the wall that is a crack in space and time and the Doctor supposedly closed all that off in The Big Bang but, no, there’s one conveniently left. On the other side are the Time Lords who were frozen into a single point of time in a pocket universe in order to save them in The Day of the Doctor, except they’re broadcasting a message to the Doctor to see if its safe for his home planet, Gallifrey, to come back. This would evidently re-ignite the Time War and destroy the Universe. Not to mention Trenzalore and the human colony. The last time Gallifrey appeared out of its usual spot, it was going to destroy and replace the Earth (The End of Time). What’s a little consistency among friends?
The Doctor spends 300 years on Trenzalore (Clara is sent home but comes back in what, for her, is the same day.). The Daleks want to kill him before he dies of old age. Defiant, the old boy goes out to meet them. Clara convinces the Time Lords on the other side of the time/space crack that they need to save him so the they send him a new batch of regeneration energy, enough for a whole new cycle of lives. Never mind that, the last time we saw them, the High Council of Time Lords were trying to kill the Doctor. The Doctor focuses the excess regeneration energy to wipe out the Daleks and regenerates, after a soulful monologue and a nice cameo from a much loved companion, into his new self. Yay.
I could go on at even greater length than I have but the episode was simply too busy by half. New characters and concepts are tossed in and there’s a lot of explaining away of what we previously thought and, along the way, invalidates an episode that occurred at the end of the previous season. Things are shoehorned in and continuity is changed or disregarded where it’s not convenient. That’s bad writing and that’s disappointing when it’s from someone as gifted as Moffat and who told such a wonderful story just one episode earlier. This Doctor Who Christmas Special was coal in the stocking and it’s a damn shame it came on the 800th episode and such an important moment in the history of Doctor Who.
While many of you were out toasting the New Year with friends and acquaintances – perhaps a bit tipsy from the festivities and calamity – I was spending my NYE at home with the wife and kiddo. Wifey and I recently came down with a crappy bug (of which I was the first recipient, on my birthday to boot), and did not feel it smart to venture outside the containment field of our suburban enclave. I was all set and ready to throw myself a pity party, but Michael Davis not only took that cake this week… bitch cooked it up from scratch, decorated it, and served it with ice cream.
I thought it might be nice for me to spare you all a post of malaise and doldrums, and opt instead to look to the coming new year, and make some resolutions for myself. But not the typical “I need to lose weight” (I do), or “I need to quit cigarettes” (I don’t). I’m going to use my column inches today to make some geek year resolutions; things I need to do or stop doing to be a better geek in 2014.
Become a Whovian. Well, as many read some time ago I gave in and watched “The Day of the Doctor.. I also recently have partaken of a few choice episodes, as well as the most recent Christmas Special. That allows me now to start fresh and new with whatever Capaldi’s Who will be. Now, I’ll be honest… a cursory Googling did not tell me when the new series will start, but I’m simply resolving in 2014 to watch more Who. Thanks largely to a DVR and BBC America, that shouldn’t be a problem. This will also mean at conventions I’ll be more apt to draw my patented Domos (note that they are NOT actually patented by me, nor should you think they are…) in the guise of all the various Doctors of yore. And maybe a Weeping Angel Domo. Ooh! And a Dalek Domo. That outta’ be a larf.
Start A Wrestling Podcast. One of my friends in the Indie Comic Industry (we don’t have an acronym yet, but who wouldn’t like the ICI?) recently posted on a random wrestling tweet I made that he and I should do a wrestling podcast. I’ll be honest. As soon as I saw that response, I was half-planning it already. I know there’s few wrestling fans here at the ‘Mix, but I can’t not let my freak-flag fly. In 2013, I became a full-fledged re-upped wrestling fan. I purchased a single pay-per-view (it was enough), and I’ve since relegated two evenings a week to watching the product. I spent at least some time every day reading the dirt sheets (online rumor mills), and formulating my ever-so-important opinions. Knowing that I have a great gaggle of pals on the internet (who live semi-local to me) means I can finally make that excuse to learn how to Skype in guests from my home computer, and launch my own wrestling podcast. All I’ll need? A catchy name. The front-runner for now… “Let’s Go Wrestling! Wrestling Sucks!”
Get Back to the Shop. I admit it, everyone. I gave up buying weekly comics. It wasn’t a logistic or financial decision either. It was one grown from malaise. Too many predictable beats from the big two… and too little knowledge about the “not big two” to know what to buy, and what not to try. In the end, I opted to read someone else’s books, and even then… not with any rhyme or reason. Over at MichaelDavisWorld, my review column enjoyed my new approach to “read anything,” but on a personal level, I lost the personal connection I had to my favorite characters. So, in 2014, I’m vowing to find my passion for the medium I create in to become a reader once again. And while I’m likely to continue to stray away from much of the Big Two’s offerings… I don’t think I’ll be missed. Instead, I’ll be making a more concerted effort to seek the stronger smaller-press books that are made by those I might dare to say work even harder than those who are enjoying tenure on prestigious titles.
Give Up Worthless Gaming. Candy Crush Saga and Tetris have a place. They belong on my phone, to be dusted off when I’m in those rare waiting rooms where I have no choice but to distract myself with said phone. I’ve lost perhaps whole days worth of my time to the crushing of digital candies… all for what? Unlocking the next level that frustrates me until I tell myself it’s OK to drop a buck to buy the cheat to win. I’ve only done it a handful of times, but frankly? That’s handful too many. Instead, I’ll resolve to fill my time with more creative endeavors. Just as I can “zone out” whilst swapping striped and wrapped tokens, I can do much the same flatting or inking my work. This leads me to the big one:
Publish Two New Issues and Start The Next Series for Unshaven Comics. In 2013, Unshaven Comics was able to produce only one new issue. Granted we still crushed our sales records, but it almost felt like a hollow victory. The key here is that we (Unshavens…) have only two issues left to produce for our first real mini-series. “The Curse of the Dreadnuts” when finished, will immediately be ready to pull together into our first real graphic novel. Pair that with a foreword by Mike Gold, and an afterward by John Ostrander (see how I’m beginning to beg already!) and a gallery of pin-ups from appropriate friends? We’ll have ourselves a real piece of work that we just might find a way to get into those aforementioned local comic shops. Dare we to dream of a world where the Samurnauts are a known name without our siren’s song of “Excuse me! Can I tell you about my comic book?”
A boy can dream. A boy can dream. Be well, my friends and fans (c’mon, I’ve got to have a few by now, right?). Cheers to a nerdy new year.
The question’s not IF you cried, it’s when. The Doctor hangs around one place for a while, Matt Smith bids the show farewell, and Steven Moffat pulls at all the threads and brings everything into a neat little bow. It’s the end of an era, and the exciting start of a new one, because it’s…
THE TIME OF THE DOCTOR
by Steven Moffat
Directed by Jamie Payne (more…)
Hello ComicMix readers! My name is Jen, and I’m really excited to be joining the fold here so I can expand the arenas in which I nerd out about comics, movies, TV, books, and any pop culture ephemera that strikes my fancy. I host a podcast to dive into stuff that’s under the radar, take a look at how things in popular culture now got there, and muse about where trends may go in the future. But exploring pop culture in the written word is another beast entirely, and it’s one I’m pumped to tackle! So let’s get to it!
My favorite TV show is Doctor Who. I embrace every opportunity to talk about it, and have maybe, possibly, sometimes (read: definitely, absolutely, often) turned conversations about entirely unrelated things toward the Doctor, and why the person I’m talking to really should give him a shot. In fact, I’m such a big Whovian that I’m part of a show that does an improvised episode of Doctor Who twice a month! All this being said, I’m sure you can imagine that I had no shortage of invitations to viewing parties for “The Day of the Doctor,” my beloved series’ 50th anniversary special. Yet I didn’t say yes to a single one. Because I hate the group watch.
In the past few years, “event TV” has been making a concerted effort to regain the time-of-broadcast viewership it lost to DVRs. And of course, the fear of encountering spoilers on Twitter or Facebook before getting to view an anticipated show has also helped to draw audiences back to consuming TV at broadcast rather than after the fact. With more people consuming event TV as it airs, maybe it seems natural that viewing parties would become more common. If we’re going to be watching something we enjoy, and our friends are going to be watching the same exact thing at the same exact time, why not do it together? A lot of people I know not only embrace this philosophy, they take it a step further: if we all love Doctor Who or Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones, then why get together only for the anniversary special, or last episode, or season finale? Why not group watch every episode to maximize the amount of shared enjoyment?
I’ll tell you why not: because other people are distracting! I don’t want to sit next to a fidgety person while I’m trying to keep the myriad of characters in Westeros straight. I don’t want to miss the second step of one of Walt’s plans because someone in the room with me starts commenting on the first step. And I definitely don’t want to pause for someone to go to the bathroom just as things are getting really timey-wimey. When I love a show, I become pretty OCD about preserving the dramatic flow and catching every detail, and I just haven’t found these things to be possible in a group watch environment.
That being said, the distraction of other people isn’t even the largest deterrent to the group watch for me. The biggest reason I don’t like to view my favorite shows with other people is the fact I tend to react… let’s be generous and just say strongly to the shows I love. “The Red Wedding” made me cheer loudly (feel free to call me a monster, but I think they had it coming), it’s hard for me to think of an episode of Doctor Who that didn’t make me cry, and the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad filled me with a mix of emotions so intense I was literally shaking. I love that TV shows can move me to such extremes, but I’m not exactly dying for other people to see that happen, nor do I want to struggle to hold in my reactions for the sake of not embarrassing myself and distracting people around me.
So for the sake of everyone involved, I’ve gotten in the habit of declining invitations to group watch. But even though I don’t like viewing parties, I still feel bad turning them down. After all, I like my friends – I just don’t want to watch TV with them. Conveniently, I spent the day of “The Day of the Doctor” traveling, so I could truthfully say I wasn’t able to watch with anyone rather than having to fess up to the fact that I wouldn’t want to even if I could. But the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced my dislike of the group watch is defensible. If my friends like a show enough to get together to watch it, I don’t think they’ll blame me for liking it so much that I want to relish every second of it. After all, they already know what an OCD nerd I can be.
December must be The Tweeks’ favorite month: Day of the Doctor, Hunger Games: Catching Fire and a new Disney animated movie- Frozen. A Disney animated movie featuring two main characters who happen to be sisters! Which gives us a chance to open up to our reader a debate we have hotly debated in the ComicMix offices: which one is the evil twin, Maddy or Anya?
Yeah. I know. I’m last on the bandwagon, yet again. But that’s OK, kiddos. I found Nirvana well after Kurt Cobain passed away. As many of you would also note, I found Star Trek: The Original Series just a little over a year ago. Funny enough, that was one of my most popular columns. For all the nerd-rage that exists when we poke and prod one another about our loves, we’re also the first sub-culture to embrace noobies with the unbridled passion of 1000 angry Daleks. That’s joyful rage though, so it’s all good. A bit over a week ago, I became of a fan of Doctor Who. Whovians, take me into your bosom. Move the celery stalk first.
A bit of backstory to begin. Unshaven cohort Kyle Gnepper has long been an outskirt Who-fan. Unshaven cohort Matt Wright also partook of the good Doctor upon subscribing to Netflix. My own timey-wifey has been a fan for quite some time as well. Heh. As we are all apt to do when everyone we know is in to something, we feel the latent pressure to join in the rapture. So, on occasion, I tried. And tried. And tried again.
Each time, the same feeling would pass over me. I’d glare at a Dalek, or a Cyberman, or whatever the thing-of-the-week was, and I’d scoff. Even ladled with every well-budgeted CGI and modeling trick, the episodes reeked to me of technical limitations. Much as I’d railed against Trek, I couldn’t find the suspension of disbelief due to the constraints of a TV budget. And much like Trek, what was really missing was my understanding and appreciation for characterization.
If you’ll allow me one more deviation off the pathway before I gush over “The Day of the Doctor” special… it’s the aforementioned note of characterization that I need to extrapolate on. Take Firefly. There, Fox supplied Joss Whedon with a budget that made his sci-fi romp visually appealing at the get-go. Without the stigma of eww, this looks like it cost pennies to make, I was quicker to give the show a try (still way late and well after the show was DOA). As much as I wanted to hate the show, like so many before me, I was enchanted by the roguish charms of Captain Mal. I bought into the character, and quickly thereafter, I bought into the show. The same could be said for my finding love in other series like House, Modern Family, and more recently Hannibal (which I can’t wait to return). The common factor here is simple: my adoration is bestowed to shows (and comics, movies, et al) that give us strong characterization.
Now, onto Who. As I’d said briefly above, I’d given myself several chances to fall in love. Each time, I was met with an odd fellow who dazzled my friends, but confounded me. His mannerisms, his oddness, his aloofness irritated me. And when I’d make an attempt to find the hook of The Doctor, I’d be met with either terse explanations (“It’s just how he is, in this incarnation…”) or lengthy diatribes that attempted to cram decades of knowledge into a tight ten-minute lecture. In both events, I simply didn’t get it. Much with Trek, it would take me having to clear my head of preconceived opinions and walk into things blindly.
After dinner with my parents, my wife, son and I retired to the casa del pescador. I’d noted that somewhere around the 8:30 hour the living room TV was still blaring. You see, that is typically night-night time round these parts. But there, wide awake, sat my young scion and my lovely lady partaking of the Doctor. Figuring it would be best for me not to attempt to daddy-lecture my own wife as to the importance of adhering to a strict schedule, I opted instead for what all us white people do when we want to make a point, but fear confrontation: I sat in the same room silent, in hopes that waves of passive-aggression would communicate my feelings.
What? (See what I did there, Michael Davis?)
And so, I sat for the better part of an hour, watching “The Day of the Doctor.” With three Doctors sharing screen space, I was curious. David Tennant with his sand shoes, Matt Smith with his fussy hands, and John Hurt with his John Hurtiness. They occupied the same space, playing iterations of the same character. Different lives, but ultimately the same consciousness. And between them, a history, a future, and a mantra I had not heard until then.
“Never cruel or cowardly. Never give up, never give in.” And there it was. Just as I’d found my love of Trek via Kirk’s labido and Bones’ testicular fortitude. Just as I’d found my love of House via his unseen pain and self-doubt (and because it’s fun to watch him be a jerk). Here was The Doctor, making the hard choices, living and reliving moments in his lifetime, and decidedly declaring a purpose. This was to me the same as the oath of a Green Lantern, or Truth-Justice-and-the-American-Way.
When I’d posted on Facebook that I’d found a love for the character and now decided to jump in with the new season to come… I was pelted with more comments than I’d seen in the last year. Seems the whole world had become Whovian without me, but were quick to open their Tardi (Tardidisisisisis?) to me with open arms and weee-oooo-weee-oooo’ing sonic screwdrivers. For the record, I liked Tennant just a bit more than Smith (sorry, that Fez ain’t cool, no matter what he says), and Hurt more than either of them (“Why are you pointing those things? What are you going to do, assemble them a bookshelf?”). Doctor Who is about a hero who fights the good fight for all the universe, through all times. That I can certainly get behind. And now? I look forward to the future… the past… and all the timey-wimey in between.
It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.
Whatever the cost.”
The Warrior Doctor (John Hurt), The Day of the Doctor, November 23, 2013
After all the press, after all the hype, after a week of BBC America’s Doctor Who Takeover, I was really afraid that actual episode was going to suck, that I was going to be miserably let down, wretchedly disappointed.
I. Was. Absolutely. Completely. Totally. Utterly. Positively.
The whole wide world became the whole wide Whovian world yesterday, as the BBC simulcast The Day Of The Doctor in over 75 countries – Angola, Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde Islands, the Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, the Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Honduras, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Russia, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania & Zanzibar, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
I mean, seriously, has the United Nations ever been able to bring about such a coalition? I mean, seriously, I think the last time so many countries and their citizens came together to celebrate and raise a glass or two as they did on Saturday was for the end of World War II 68 years ago.
I mean, seriously, think about it, people. So many of these nations are embattled and torn apart by violence and terror and war—and yet the Doctor, fictional character though he may be, hits such a powerful chord of hope and peace and unity among the peoples of this Earth, is it possible that even in places like Somalia and Myanmar and Colombia and the Congo that a truce was called for one hour and twenty minutes on Saturday, November 23rd, 2013?
Once before has the world been stopped on this date. 50 years ago President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot dead in Daley Plaza, Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, and the world held its breath for the next four days as his body was returned to Washington, where it laid in state, first in the White House and then at the Capitol Rotunda, to finally come to rest in Arlington Cemetery across the Potomac River in Virginia – and so in England no one, or very, very few, saw the BBC’s debut, on November 23rd, 1963, of a science fiction television show about a grandfatherly man and his niece and her two teachers adventuring in time and space in a contraption called the TARDIS, which was an acronym, the niece informed us, for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space, and which looked like an English 1950’s police box.
But the BBC reran the premiere episode of Doctor Who and its ratings took off, and when William Hartnell, the first actor to play the Doctor, became too ill to continue, an innovative idea was born to explain the introduction of Patrick Troughton as his replacement—regeneration.
And now Doctor Who, the series, has regenerated.
I won’t go into depth, so as not to spoil it for those who were unable to see The Day Of The Doctor this past weekend, but I will say this – the driving force behind the Time Lord has been changed.
It’s not often you get to describe an event as being fifty years in the making. even less so do you get to mean it. Three Doctors in three timelines converge to give them all a chance to change a terrible moment in their collective past.
The Day of the Doctor
by Steven Moffat
Directed by Nick Hurran
The Doctor is in the present, in his most recent incarnation, picking up Clara, when he gets picked up himself, by UNIT, to investigate a mystery at the National Museum. Meanwhile (well, I say meanwhile…) in his previous incarnation, he’s investigating a mystery in Elizabethan Britain, an attack by the Zygons that could lead all the way to the Queen herself. And in another part of the Universe entirely, The War Doctor is making a decision that will put the lives of countless innocents in his hands, a choice that will darken and color his life for centuries to come.
Considering that it is physically impossible to create an episode that has everyone and everything that every fan wants, this episode was as close to perfect as could be. It embraced plotlines that were started in the Davies era, tied in moments and points in Moffat’s own time of running the show, and did a job of undoing a dark moment in The Doctor’s history worthy of Geoff Johns. I screamed out loud three times, and it would have been four, if one fellow had been able to keep his mouth shut.
THE MONSTER FILES:The Zygons only got one appearance in the original series, the eponymous Terror of the Zygons, but it was enough to keep the popular in the alternative media for years. Shapeshifting beings, they invade by taking over from within, taking the forms of important people. They got an off-camera return in The Power of Three as they tried to invade during Amy and Rory’s second honeymoon.
BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS:Trivia and production details
Oh my GOD is this gonna be a long one. This episode is packed with self-references and tips of the hat, as well as calling back to points from many other episodes. I’ll see if I can hit them all…
THE QUESTION ISN’T WHERE, IT’S WHEN: More precisely, from when. Matt Smith’s Doctor is clearly experiencing this adventure in the “present,” as in after the events of the last season. Considering Ten(nant) is traveling alone, and is having the adventure he refers to when talking to Ood Sigma in the beginning of The End of Time, he’s clearly from a period between The Waters of Mars and that episode. We don’t know exactly how much time he spent gallivanting about between those episodes, clearly long enough for his memories of the details of this paradoxical adventure (while still remembering the bits about the Virgin Queen) that he still saw a need to re-imprison the Time Lords with the help of The Master.
Similarly, The War Doctor is experiencing this adventure at the end of this regeneration. But while we saw his “birth” in the Paul McGann mini-episode, we don’t know exactly how long he has been around, fighting in (and against) the Time War. He was in his seven hundreds at the end of the original series, and nine hundred at the beginning of the new, so there’s quite a lot of years to spread around between Seven, Eight, and The War Doctor.
So in brief, we’re seeing all three Doctors having this adventure very near the end of their respective regenerations. So each of them have seen all they’re going to see through their eyes, and that’s about the best time.
CALL FOR THE DOCTOR QUICK, QUICK, QUICK: Kate Stewart, the head of UNIT, daughter of The Brig, has a custom ring for The Doctor on her phone.
Also, note that The Doctor’s number is once again 07700900461, as it was in The Stolen Earth. About 2500 people thought that might be a working number (at least for a tie-in recording or bit of marketing, anyway) when that adventure aired, and tried calling it. no idea how many will try it this time.
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be: Be one”: They hit the ground running with the self-references. I.M. Foreman‘s scrap yard was where we first met the Doctor, Susan and the TARDIS, lo those fifty years ago. Susan attended Coal Hill secondary school, where she aroused the curiosity of teachers Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton, who as we see here, now serves as headmaster. Sarah Jane Smith did a bit of investigating, and tracked down Ian and Barbara (now Barbara Chesterton), and reported to her son Luke that they no longer appear to age. Also, notice that as we see Clara erasing the quote from Marcus Aurelius on her whiteboard, the words “NO MORE” are in the center of the screen.
“Draft”: The Triumph Clara’s driving is the one The Doctor drove up the side of The Shard in The Bells of Saint John. When last we saw Clara and The Doctor, she was not getting along with the TARDIS, now she’d shutting the doors with a click of her fingers. Clearly quite some time has passed since the events of The Name of the Doctor – enough time for her to get a job as a teacher, and to make peace with the TARDIS. And yet she and The Doctor still keep their “See you next Wednesday” relationship, as it’s clear she’s not traveling with him regularly, tho she has no problem with picking up and running when he pops by.
“Tell Malcolm we need new batteries” – Malcolm Taylor is the acting scientific advisor for UNIT, and was played by Lee Evans in Planet of the Dead, and when I heard his name, I let loose with my third-loudest shout of the evening. If you folks think you were upset that Rose or Eccleston didn’t appear…
And those are presumably the “Ravens of Death” she claimed to have in The Power of Three.
“Nice Scarf” – Considering what we appear to learn at the end of the episode, that scarf MAY not be a replica. It might have been a gift. From the original owner.
There’s a bit of debate going on as to exactly who Osgood is. Rich Johnson at Bleeding Cool seems to believe that she’s Kate’s daughter – while her first line was her calling “Mum”, I took that to mean the honorific “Ma’am”, and not “Mom”. But we both noticed there was a UNIT tech named Tom Osgood in The Daemons, and a few of the prose stories, so that seems a more possible guess on her father, anyway.
“I’d be brilliant at having a job”: Well, he really does work for UNIT, when he’s around, and he did pretty well in the two jobs he took when he was helping Craig Owen in The Lodger and Closing Time.
“The High Council is in emergency session, they have plans of their own”: Those would be the plans set into action in The End of Time. We first heard of The Moment in that episode, as it too took place (partly, in flashback) during the end of the Time War.
“The Doctor has The Moment”: In a delightful bit of ingenious design, the initial gear-like design for of The Moment somewhat resembles the Antikythera mechanism, an Out Of Place Artifact found in Greece that (theoretically) could plot the positions of the stars to astounding accuracy.
“The interface is hot”: For those who are grousing that Billie Piper is not playing Rose, not my comment above. If we were watching an adventure where The Doctor was traveling with Rose, we’d be watching a Doctor who had not yet met Martha, Donna Noble, the crew of Bowie Base One, a Doctor who had, in short, barely begun to live. This was a way to have Billie a part of the show, while still giving us the best Doctor to experience the story. Also note that it’s a lovely parallel to Ten meeting Rose at the end of The End of Time, before they’ve met in that first adventure, Rose. The War Doctor meets her (or at least sees her visage) before he regenerates and meets (and saves) her in that department store. So once again, The Bad Wolf was guiding them all to fulfill the almost predestined moment so far in the future.
“Elizabeth the First…you knew her, then?”: Based on what we see here, and what Ten implies later, we shall have to leave tactfully alone the question of what definition of “knew” is being used here… This is England 1562, 37 years before The Shakespeare Code, where we “First” meet the queen, and The Doctor is totally unaware of why she’d be so angry at him. I expect that happens a lot.
It’s a machine that goes “ding”: It’s presumably similar to The Machine That Goes “Ding” When There’s Stuff, as seen in Blink. While that one was more tuned to temporal anomalies, this one is attuned to physical ones, like the energy expended by a shapeshifting alien.
“Is it important?” “In 1,200 years, I haven’t stepped in anything that wasn’t”” Another callback, this time to A Christmas Carol, when he said it about people.
“I need you to send me one of my father’s incident files”: She is almost certainly asking for the files on the incident we know as The Three Doctors, the tenth anniversary adventure. As they had to do in the past, they had to come up with a way around using one Doctor, but not for the same reason. William Hartnell was not well at the time, an advancement of the illness that cause him to leave the show in the first place. So he was not able to take an active part in the story, instead relegated to appearing via the scanner screen. Ten years later, Tom Baker wasn’t able to appear in The Five Doctors, so they used footage from Shada in his stead. Hartnell had already passed, so Richard Hurndall took on the role of the First Doctor.
For all the grousing many fans are making that they “left out Eccleston” from this adventure, it’s been verified via the man himself and he chose not to participate in the episode. His departure from the series was not entirely cordial; no firm details have come to light because he’s a professional, but it’s generally understood there was no small amount of bad blood.
The reference to “Seventies or eighties, depending” is a sly nod to the fact that the Pertwee years of the show were filmed in the seventies, but were supposed to be taking place an unspecified number of years in the future, to try and explain the higher tech items that were sprinkled around.
“Reverse the polarity”: “Reverse the polarity of the Neutron Flow” was one of Jon Pertwee’s legendary catch phrases, but like “Beam me up Scotty”, usually misremembered. That exact phrase was only used once in the series, and as a hat tip in The Five Doctors”, it was the shorter quote used here that got used in numerous episodes.
“Why are you pointing your screwdrivers like that?”: The War Doctor gives voice to many of the complaints old-guard fans have had about the new series – all the kissing, the Sonic Screwdriver acting more like a weapon (and a magic wand), and much more. Not to mock the fans, but more to point out the fact that the creators know full well how much the show has changed. And indeed, it’s the constant change of the show that has kept it alive.
“We’ll need access to the Black Archive”: Of all the stuff in that warehouse, I spotted River Song’s Manolos, a Cyberman head, a Sontaran blaster and the chair they had Ten trussed up in in The End of Time, which at this point in time…hasn’t happened yet. The Black Archive first got mentioned on Sarah Jane Adventures, in the episode Enemy of the Bane, guest-starring Nicholas Courtney in his last appearances as The Brigadier.
“You have a top-level security rating from your last visit”: The question is, is that just a continuance of the fact that everyone has their memories wiped as they leave, one of the many times that Clara has appeared in The Doctor’s past, or a precursor to an upcoming story? Also on that board with the more recent Companions are Tegan Jovanka, Nyssa of Traken, Kamelion, Five’s short-lived android companion, even Ian and Barbara. Also, photographed with Captain Erisa Magambo is Rose Tyler…but there’s a problem there. The only time they met were in the alternate timeline of Turn Left. So…where did that photo come from?
“We don’t have the activation code”: The numbers The Doctor scratches into the wall of their cell is 1716231163. Or more clearly, 17:16 23/11/63, the exact date and time that episode one of An Unearthly Child was originally broadcast.
“Same software…different face”: We’re not talking about the screwdriver any more, are we, blondie? Because later on in the episode, we find out that in a very similar way, The Doctor has been mulling a problem over for the same 400 years, one that he gets to solve himself, not by someone just opening the right door at the last minute.
Moffat is so so good at playing with time as a plot point. Sending the activation code into the future by writing it on the wall, and the idea of the scan taking the long way round and finishing up just as it’s needed.
“Oh, you’ve redecorated…I don’t like it”: A twice-joked joke, back for a third time. Patrick Troughton said it about Jon Pertwee’s TARDIS in The Three Doctors, and Eleven said it about Craig’s home in Closing Time.
“At worst, we failed at doing the right thing, as opposed to succeeding in doing the wrong”: What this episode does is essentially undoes an act that The Doctor has regretted for centuries. But as is always true of situations like this, it has to be undone in a way so nobody KNOWS it was undone, otherwise any events springing from it will not happen as they did, and you get paradoxes springing up like dandelions. So that, more than any other, is why all the Doctors from the time The Moment was supposedly used had to believe they DID use it. Only until after the present Doctor lives through his portion of the history can he be allowed to remember. It’s a temporal version of eating your cake and having it too.
“Wearing a bit thin”: Which is exactly how Hartnell described himself shortly before the first regeneration in The Tenth Planet, ushering in the miracle that would keep the show going for five decades.
“I don’t want to go”: Technically, this is the first time he says that – he’ll say it again in The End of Time. They even worked it into the script of An Adventure in Space and Time.
“I could be a curator”: He is the Curator. The letter from Elizabeth I appoints The Doctor as official Curator of the Undergallery, “to be summoned in the event of any crises concerning it.” Now, how he gets all the way back around to the time, place and form we see here, well, that’s all the fun is finding out, isn’t it?
BIG BAD REPORT /CLEVER THEORY DEPARTMENT: For once, the arc of the upcoming season might be a positive. Gallifrey Falls No More, and clearly The Doctor wants to find it. But there’s a problem. They may not have been destroyed, but this is clearly still the Time Lords who saw no problem with breaking out of their temporal prison by destroying the Earth, with the goal of controlling all of time and space. Now one could argue that it was more the mad plans of the Lord President (played by Timothy Dalton in The End of Time) nd the rest of the Time Lords (save two) fell into line. But that’s an argument we heard around the middle of last century, and it didn’t fly too well or too often. If I have the timeline right, The Time Lords will be banished back into the Time Lock after EoT, and find almost immediately that their plan was unneeded, as The Doctor saves the planet and shunts it off somewhere. So in the time that has passed, have they come to their senses and spent their time rebuilding, or have the grown even more enraged as they pounded at the walls of their temporal prison? It’s the same question Wilf asked in EoT – will the Time Lords’ return be a good thing? A lot of possibilities.
“No , sir…all thirteen”: In two seconds, Peter Capaldi premiered as The Doctor, and his eyebrows have already garnered their own fandom. It also verifies what has been assumed to be true since new news of the New Doctor came out: The next Doctor is the last of his current cycle of regenerations. Moffat has stated clearly that the 12-regeneration limit is still in place, whimsical comment in Sarah Jane Adventures notwithstanding. So in addition to the search for Gallifrey, we’ll certainly hear more than a bit about him reaching the seeming end of his lives. One has to wonder if the resolution of one plotline will resolve the other.