Tagged: Missy

Mindy Newell: A Madman With A Box

I was going to get political again this week, but it’s too goddamn depressing. Here are some headlines just from yesterday, courtesy of that #FakeNews Enemy of the People publication, that “old Grey Lady,” the New York Times:

  • E.P.A. Chief Voids Obama-Era Rules In Blazing Start
  • Medicaid Plan Risks Changing Life For Millions
  • ‘I’m President And They’re Not’: Trump Attack Brings Crowd To Its Feet
  • Trump Administration Targets Parents In New Immigration Crackdown

And then there are the tweets. After Il Tweetci the Mad – formerly known as “Il Trumpci the Mad” – went on a rampage against Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough this past Thursday – what the fuck is with his obsession over women and blood? How the hell did Ivanka, Marla, and Melania ever get pregnant, much less get near enough to a “man” who is so phobic over natural functions to allow it to happen? It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s one of those guys who has to obsessively shower the minute the act is over – he again went after what is apparently his favorite news media target yesterday morning with this from the Washington Post, another #FakeNews Enemy of the People” publication:

 “A day after defending his use of social media as befitting a ‘modern day’

president, President Trump appeared to promote violence against CNN in a tweet.

“Trump, who is on vacation at his Bedminster golf resort, posted on Twitter an old video clip of him performing in a WWE professional wrestling match, but with a CNN logo superimposed on the head of his opponent. In the clip, Trump is shown slamming the CNN avatar to the ground and pounding him with simulated punches and elbows to the head. Trump added the hashtags #FraudNewsCNN and #FNN, for ‘fraud news network.’”

What the hell is with that “man” and CNN? Did Jane Fonda once laugh in his face, and then went on to marry CNN’s founder, Ted Turner? Is it a secret beef with Ted Turner himself, some kind of schoolboy rivalry?

And then there’s this, again from the Washington Post:

This year, top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked,” Brzezinski and Scarborough wrote in The Washington Post. “We ignored their desperate pleas.”

On their MSNBC show, Brzezinski and Scarborough elaborated.

Scarborough: They said if you call the president up and you apologize for your coverage, then he will pick up the phone and basically spike the story. I had, I will just say, three people at the very top of the administration calling me. And the response was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I don’t know what they have. Run a story. I’m not going to do it.

“The calls kept coming and kept coming, and they were like, “Call. You need to call. Please call. Come on, Joe, just pick up the phone and call him.”

Brzezinski: “And let me explain what they were threatening. They were calling my children. They were calling close friends of mine.”

Scarborough: “You’re talking about the National Enquirer, yeah.

Brzezinski: “And they were pinning the story on my ex-husband, who would absolutely never do that, so I knew immediately it was a lie and that they had nothing. And these calls persisted for some time, and then Joe had the conversations he had with the White House, where they said, “Oh, this could go away.”

Do you understand what is going on here? Do I need to spell it out for you? Okay then. E-X-T-O-R-T-I-O-N.

But I’m not going to get political this week, because it’s too goddamn depressing. So let’s talk about fun stuff.

Fun stuff like “The Doctor Falls,” the finale of the 10th series of Doctor Who, which aired on Saturday night. Continuing my spoiler-free zone from last week:

It was thrilling. It was hilarious. It was heartbreaking. There were easter eggs and callbacks galore. It was regenerating rejuvenating. (Hint! Hint!)

I’m going to change my mind and just give out two little spoilers…

The most chilling moment(s) for me: Bill looking in the mirror and seeing the face of a Cyberman; seeing her shadow, and seeing that it was the shadow of a Cyberman; and catching sight of her hand, the hand of a Cyberman.

And the second spoiler belongs to both Steven Moffat, as he heads towards the exit with a giant fuck you!!! to that “man,” and to the magnificent Peter Capaldi (he just nudged Tennant out of my “Number One Favorite Doctor” spot), who upped the ante once again…

The Doctor is preparing to make his final stand against the Cybermen, and is trying, pleading, with Missy and The Master to stand with him:

“Winning? Is that what you think it’s about? I’m not trying to win. I’m not doing this because I want to beat someone … or because I hate someone or because I want to blame someone. It’s not because it’s fun. God knows it’s not because it’s easy. It’s not even because it works because it hardly ever does. I do what I do because it’s right! Because it’s decent. And above all, it’s kind. It’s just that. Just kind. If I run away today, good people will die. If I stand and fight, some of them might live… maybe not many, maybe not for long. Hey, maybe there’s no point in any of this at all, but it’s the best I can do, and I will stand here doing it until it kills me. You’re going to die, too, someday. When will that be? Have you thought about it? What would you die for? Who I am is where I stand. Where I stand is where I fall.”

Tweet that.


New Who Review: The Magician’s Apprentice / The Witch’s Familiar


“If someone who knew the future pointed out a child to you, and told you that that child would grow up totally evil, to be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives…could you then kill that child?”

It’s a classic philosophical question, one that the average person would never truly have to face. Of course, The Doctor is not the average person, and as such, has to face it nearly constantly.  But never so personally, and so literally as when a young boy calls for help…and The Doctor walks away.

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Hettie MacDonald

The Doctor lands on a planet torn asunder by war, a war going on so long that it’s using progressively declining technology – space fighters are being shot at with bows and arrows. When a young boy is trapped in a mine field, The Doctor tries to cheer him up by asking his name. The boy says his name is Davros, and The Doctor suddenly realizes where he is: Skaro, decades before the creation of the Daleks…by the boy whose life is in his hands.

Meanwhile (well, I say “meanwhile”…) on Earth, Missy has returned (and rudely, won’t explain how) and is asking to talk to Clara.  She’s been given The Doctor’s Confession Dial, effectively his will and testament, which means he’s expecting to (or planning to) die.  Missy asks Clara for help in finding him, “asks” meaning “kidnaps her”.

After finding him by looking for the biggest party they could find, The Doctor and his friends (more on this later) end up on Skaro, rebuilt from the ashes of the Time War.  Davros is dying at last, and wants The Doctor there, to make him suffer a final defeat at the man he could have saved so many years ago, but didn’t.

Anyone who still claims that Steven Moffat can no longer write a solid episode of Doctor Who now has the credibility of Donald Trump.  From a truly scream-inducing pre-credits sequence to a corker of a cliffhanger, to a perfectly touching ending, with some of the biggest laughs in years peppered in between.  A great deal of growth in the relationship between The Doctor and both of his greatest enemies, and a harrowing climax, all playing perfectly against past events that get called back in the most amazing ways.

The story bookends two important Dalek stories of the past: Terry Nation’s [[[Genesis of the Daleks]]], which brought us the introduction of Davros, and Moffat’s own Asylum of the Daleks which introduced us to Jenna Coleman, and at least one aspect of Clara Oswald.  Steven Moffat has elevated the narrative callback to an art form – he’s pulling details from past stories to give them new meaning, as well as the simple practice of Chekhov’s Gun – introducing a seemingly throwaway point early in the story, only to have it come back with a surprise importance at the end.


Michelle Gomez (Missy) makes a surprising but not entirely unexpected return to the series as The Master, much sooner than anyone expected. She was recently featured in the HBO comedy series The Brink. Before Missy, she was best known in the UK for Green Wing, a comedy about a local hospital, and The Book Group, a comedy drama about a curcle of folks who get together more just to find friendship than to actually discuss the books they’ve been assigned to read.

Julian Bleach (Davros) has made several appearances on the various Who-niverse shows. First appearing on Torchwood as The Ghostmaker, he appeared as Davros in the David Tennant adventures The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End. He also played the eponymous monster in the Sarah Jane Adventures tale The Nightmare Man. He played Machiavelli in The Borgias TV series, and played the ballet instructor in [[[Avengers: Age of Ultron]]].


You could easily argue that The Daleks are more responsible for the success of Doctor Who than anything. After producer Sydney Newman decreed there would be “no bug-eyed monsters” on the series, the team struggled to come up with a truly unique and innovative design for the first alien race for the series.  To say they succeeded is an understatement.  Terry Nation’s description of the creatures in his script was simple:

Hideous machine-like creatures, they are legless, moving on a round base. They have no human features. A lens on a flexible shaft acts as an eye. Arms with mechanical grips for hands

The Daleks were almost designed by Ridley Scott, who would go on to other triumphs in directing both in and out of science fiction.  It was eventually designed by Raymond Cusick, passing the basic plans to Shawcraft Models.  After the broadcast, Dalek-Mania hit Britain, and Doctor Who became must-see television.

The basics of the origins of the Daleks were there in that first story – an interminable war between the Daleks and the Dals, the Daleks holed up in their city, their endless hate for everything non-Dalek. But it was years later in Genesis of the Daleks that Terry Nation introduced us to their creator, Davros. Horribly disfigured in an enemy bombardment, when we first meet him, he is literally half a man, his lower extremities gone, attached permanently in a traveling wheelchair and life-support system that greatly resembled his eventual creations.  His idea for the eventual triumph in the war against the (now called) Thals was twofold – through experimentation, he developed what he theorized was the final form of their race, the Kaleds – a mutated tentacled monstrosity, almost incapable of surviving on its own.  The second step was to build a housing for the creature – a portable tank, both medical and military.  He went further – manipulating the DNA of the Kaled mutants further, breeding out “useless” emotions like love and pity, and building a computer system that would weed out any stray benevolent thoughts.  The result – a nearly indestructible warrior that cares only about the destruction of anything and everything that isn’t like itself.

Davros has appeared multiple times since Genesis – usually using the same exact makeup, which showed extreme signs of wear over the years.  The majority of what has been revealed about his younger life was told in a series of audio plays from Big Finish.

DWSarffColony Sarff is the latest in a series of being that Davros and the Daleks have used as mercenary might over the years.  Their most often seen were the Ogrons, simian aliens with limited intelligence – perfect grunt soldiers.

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS – Trivia and Production details

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION – Spain played the role of two locations in the adventure – a national park near a dormant volcano in Tenerife stood in for Skaro, and the “hot country” Missy waited to speak to Clara in was Garachico, just a bit South.

The Maldovarium is the black market and bar founded and run by Dorium Maldovar, at least until he was decapitated by The Headless Monks.

The Shadow Proclamation makes a return to the series as the interstellar police force.  Kelly Hunter also returns as the Shadow Architect, last appearing in The Stolen Earth.

The Planet Karn is the home of the Sisters of Karn, home of the Elixir of Life, used by Time Lords in cases of emergency when regeneration fails.  They first appeared in The Brain of Morbius, and most recently in the mini-episode Night of the Doctor.

“Don’t send a helicopter – I can get through” Clara is once again driving the Triumph motorcycle she had in The Day of the Doctor, the one The Doctor drove up the side of The Shard in The Bells of Saint John. She is heading for the Tower of London, secret home of UNIT.

“Not dead, back – big surprise, never mind” – In a recent interview, Steven Moffat went on about how much he loved how The Master, particularly in the Anthony Ainley years, would return from a sure and certain demise, with no more of an explanation than “I escaped at the last moment”.  As such, I fully expected to get no solid explanation for Missy’s survival at all. After all, this is the man who presented several fan theories as to how Sherlock survived his plummet from a hospital on Sherlock, and confirmed none. In this case, though, he went with an obvious explanation, indeed, the one that just about everyone had guessed, and good on him for it.

“I’m his friend, you’re just…” The relationship of The Doctor and The Master has been the subject of so many Clever Theories, and only a handful of actual statements on screen. In Death in heaven we got the line “I had a friend once…we ran together when I was little”, so the idea of them being best friends is not far from a lie.

“You’re the puppy” – This whole scene is about exactly how far beyond Human understanding the Time Lords truly are.  They attempt to destroy civilizations as a practical joke.  They steal moons the way frat boys steal mascots.  And as far as Missy is concerned, there’s a reason some Earthlings refer to their pets as “companions”.

“We’re looking for a party” – This is another look at the same swaggering procrastination we saw at the end of Ten’s life in The End of Time, and the more quiet dawdling Eleven did before he headed to Lake Silencio.

“Cheap and nasty time travel” – the Vortex Manipulator has been used by Jack Harkness in several episodes, and later by River Song, though likely not the same one.

Amp“Anachronisms” – Peter Capaldi is an established guitarist, and was once in a punk band called The Dreamboys with a fellow named Craig Ferguson.  Also, thought you can’t see it on screen, the amplifier on the tank bears a label from Magpie Electricals, the company that made the cheap TVs in The Idiot’s Lantern.

And here’s a question for you…When he starts playing the opening to “Pretty Woman”…is he playing it for Clara…or Missy?

“Inform High Command – the TARDIS is located” – Bors has been made a Dalek Agent, a sophisticated duplicate first seen in Asylum of the Daleks.

“How scared must you be, to seal every one of your own kind in a tank” – Davros’ motivations are at the core of this adventure.  Having seen him as a scared child at the story’s start, the question about being scared here takes a new depth. Until this, save for the audio plays, we’ve never seen Davros as anything but a nearly total megalomaniac. Now we see him much more emotional, and at points, it’s hard to believe it’s all lies.

TheDoctorLies“I think you’ve been lying” – Oh geez, you THINK?


“Gravity” – As in Kill the Moon, both The Doctor and Missy are walking and dancing about to test the gravity of their location. In both cases, the gravity is natural, leading both to presume that they are on something far more massive than they thought.

“Did you miss our conversations?” – We’re presented with a montage of The Doctor’s past conversations with Davros, from their first meeting in Genesis to their most recent in The Stolen Earth. But it’s the quote at the start of this article, about a child who would grow up to be a dictator, that holds the most importance, as that’s precisely the situation The Doctor found himself in, and to his shame, he walked away.

“This is the planet of the Daleks” – and we see oh so many of them here – models in the style of the first adventure, straight through to the modern age, and all in between.  They built an amazing assortment of models for Asylum, and clearly they got a dust off and re-used here, especially that Special Weapons Dalek we all got so excited about and barely got a moment on screen.

But once again, the New Paradigm models are nowhere to be seen.  Moffatt admitted the redesign was a mistake – as he put it “They’re scarier when they’re wee”.

“Doesn’t matter which face he was wearing, they’re all The Doctor to me” – Once again, this is a suggestion that Time Lords “see” each other differently – their faces may literally change from visit to visit, but they always recognize each other.  This is something how The Doctor says he doesn’t really see faces, especially Clara’s – he can’t tell the difference between when she’s young or old.

“The Doctor gave it to me when my daughter…” – Yeah, the thing about not knowing much about a character, ANY little tidbit is important.

“This is exactly where you dump a smelly old uncle” – The Daleks and Davros’ relationship has always been…contentious. They intended to kill him in Genesis, and only returned to Skaro to search for him in Destiny of the Daleks because they had no other options.  He’s been able to order them around to a degree when his plans suited them, but the best description of his position with them is “kept man”.  Not a prisoner, just someone useful and handy to have about.

“A man should have a race” – This is the start of the comparisons between Davros and the Doctor – both went to great lengths to make sure they would not be alone in the universe.

“Am I a good man?” – One could argue that everyone asks themselves that at one point or another. An old philosophical question is “Is Hitler in heaven?” – since Catholics believe that intent dictates sin, if he honestly thought he was doing good for the world, could he have been allowed to escape punishment? The end of Genesis of the Daleks tries to get philosophical too – The Doctor thinks about the races whose wars with each other ended as they united to face the Daleks, and wonders if somehow in such evil, there could result some good.

“You are not a good Doctor” – This moment, with two arch-enemies suddenly start laughing as a bad joke, is very reminiscent of Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke. The situation is largely the same – these two men know there will never be anything less than war between them, and the situation seems so helpless, and the surprise of a moment of comedy breaks the tension. Worked wonderfully.  Throughout all this part of the story, one has to wonder how much of what Davros was saying was accidentally honest, perhaps even if only to further bait the trap, but honest nevertheless.

BIG BAD WOLF REPORT – So far there’s no blatant threads hanging out there to lead us to the finale.  Presuming we’ll see either (or both) the Daleks and Missy again, their appearance alone may yet be the only connection.

“I am a Dalek” – It’s here with Clara in a Dalek we’re seeing the parallel to Asylum of the Daleks, where we saw Oswin Oswald in a similar predicament.  While Oswin was part of the Daleks for quite a long while, she had time to hack into their databanks and play merry hell with their systems. Clara has no time to do such things, but she’s got time to be affected by something else – Dalek Nanotech.  In Asylum, the air was permeated with it, slowly converting anything on the planet to Dalek Agents.  Clara’s just had herself connected to one directly, the nanotech “repairing any damage”.  That…may not end well.

“Gallifrey is back, and it is safe…from both of us” – We thought that the return of Gallifrey might be the story of an upcoming season, but this line may suggest that it will be left alone for a bit.  The Doctor may be content with knowing that his people are safe, and not worry about the details.

“This is why I gave her to you in the first place to make you see – the friend inside the enemy, the enemy inside the friend” – It was rather left undiscussed, but it was indeed Missy who arranged The Doctor and Clara to meet. She gave clara the phone number of the TARDIS back before The Bells of St. John, and planted the ad in the paper that brought the pair back together in The Eleventh Hour. Eleven asked Clara if she was “a trick; a trap” – might that question still not be answered?


NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – Clara has a big mouth, and should stop asking for adventures with monsters. After the Lake, passing through this Saturday.

Mindy Newell: Two Doctors Walked Into A Bar….

Porky In WackylandClara 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.



New Who Review: “In the Forest of the Night”

A great actor once said “never work with children or animals.”  This episode features both, and once again, the axiom proves true.  The students of Coal Hill School have a sleepover in the museum of natural history, and wake up…

By  Frank Cottrell-Boyce
Directed by Sheree Folkson

London, and indeed the whole world, ha been engulfed by dense, fireproof forests overnight.  The Doctor assumes it’s an act of aggression, but with the help of the kids of Coal Hill School, including one very sensitive girl, the real threat to Earth is identified.  But are they too late to realize they’ve been attacking the wrong side?

DoctorJungleThis is another episode where the main plot and the threat of the week is almost overwhelmed by the staggering character work.  Wonderful camera work from the director (the steadi-cam run around the top deck of the TARDIS is wonderful) as well as fabulous work bringing varied and mature performances from a raft of your people.  There’s quite a bit that goes unexplained in the episode, but like many great stories, the true star of the week are the emotions and reactions of the main cast.  Sometimes you have to let those refrigerator moments pass – it really doesn’t matter where the Harlequin got the jellybeans.

The episode features the return of a common theme in the new series – threats that aren’t threats at all.  In the case of this one, it’s actually a benevolent event, misunderstood by everyone, much like the star whale from The Beast Below.  Once again The Doctor was wrong about his assumptions.  In this case, if he’d done nothing at all, everything would have been fine, save for any small areas the pudding-brains exposed to damage by successfully taking down small areas of ttrees,

GUEST STAR REPORT – Frank Cottrell-Boyce (Writer) has won a Carnegie medal for his novel Millions (and wrote the script for the film) and has written several films with Michael Winterbottom, including Welcome to Sarajevo, 24-Hour Party People and Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story.

Sheree Folkson (Director) There may not be any female writers for Doctor Who in the new series, as Neil Gaiman so adroitly hung a lampshade on, there’s been at least a couple female directors, including Ms Folkson.  She directed the David Tennant film The Decoy Bride, and the mini-series that brought him to fame, Casanova.

THE MONSTER FILES – While the forests of the world certainly seemed to be the baddie of the episode, it turned out not to be the case.  But we’ve seen other plantlife on the show as well.  The Krynoids in The Seeds of Doom turned out to be quite a threat, as did the Ice Warriors’ biological weapon in The Seeds of Death.  The Forest of Cheem evolved from the plant life of ancient Earth, as we learned at The End of the World, and the mysterious sentient forest from The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe didn’t want to harm anyone, but also didn’t care how they got what they wanted.


SET PIECES – It turns out if you want to show London covered with forest, it’s cheaper to find a forest and cover it with bits of London. a forest near Newport was the location chosen, which was given the feel of London with selectively chosen icons.  The red phone booth, traffic light and entry to the Underground were there, but the double decker bus (with an ad on for the new series of Doctor Who) was only a large photo on a backboard.

NIGHT IN THE MUSEUM – Nice bit of foreshadowing in the museum – we see stuffed versions of a tiger and two wolves, which we see live versions of later on.  Tempting to think they came to life somehow, but The Doctor’s theory of the Zoo getting destroyed makes a bit more sense.

“When you drink a glass of Coke, it’s only this big, but it’s actually got THIS much sugar in it. Works a bit like that.” This is the second-best explanation of the TARDIS’ dimensional transcendentality ever.  The best one was given to Leela at the beginning of Robots of Death, where The Doctor shows two boxes of differing sizes explained fairly easily how you can place the bigger one inside the little one just by placing it farther away.  The Doctor twice gets to be gleefully frustrated by people seemingly being unimpressed by the bigger-insidiness of the old girl.

“Who do you want to talk do, Monty Don?” Monty Don is a TV presenter in Britain, best known for segments on Gardener’s World.

“No circuits, no mechanism…wood” – That’s the first logical explanation we’ve gotten for why the Sonic Screwdriver won’t work on wood, something that’s been the case since at least the Tennant years.

“Not everything can be fixed with a Sonic Screwdriver, it’s not a magic wand” – More lampshade-hanging – it was clearly being used as such in the past series, and as mentioned previously, is used much less so now.

“Furious, fearful, tongue-tied – all superpowers if you use them properly” – There’s a surfeit of bookends in this series – this is a callback to The Doctor’s speech to young Danny about how fear is a superpower in Listen. And as we see in the episode, the “Gifted and Talented” kids all start to come out of their shells and help in their own way, from Maebh’s talking to the forest to Ruby’s literal-minded observations of important things.

“Trail of breadcrumbs, Hansel and Gretel” –  The connection to fairy tales and forests recurs through the episode – Clara asks if they slept like Sleeping Beauty and fears they’ll find a gingerbread cottage. Maebh leaves a trail, she is wearing a red coat (with a hood) and is pursued by the Big Bad Wolf.

“This is a massive solar flare headed for Earth” – Earth suffers from attack by solar flare more then a few times in the history of the show – aside from the final one in The End of the World, there’s the one that Nerva Beacon tries to survive in The Ark in Space, and the one that Starship UK escaped from in The Beast Below.

DoctorKid“The thoughts…they go so fast” – Maebh’s hand-waving gestures are sometimes a symptom of autism, a repetitive action it’s believed helps calm the person.  The autistic person can often feel overwhelmed by the sensory input we take for granted.  To take those gestures and turn them into a literal attempt to wave errant fleeting thoughts away is quite illuminating.  Maebh is described as being “tuned to another channel”, which is also a pretty good description of Autism.  That other way of seeing things is presented a number of ways in the episode, from being sensitive to the communication from The Green (to take a description from DC’s Swamp Thing) to being the only who notices there’s a gate just a few feet down the fence that The Doctor and Clara are trying to get her over.

“But we saw the future – lots of futures” – This is the first of two bookends to Kill the Moon – Clara asks again how the Earth can end now when they’ve both seen it so many times in the future.

“This is my world too. I walk your Earth, I breathe your air” – and this is the other.  He’s parroting what Clara said to him in anger, and he’s saying it earnestly.  And while in Kill the Moon, The Doctor says he can do nothing and walks away so humanity (through Clara) can make the right choice, here humanity (again through Clara) tells The Doctor to leave, because he can do nothing.

Which is, if you think about it, rubbish.  The TARDIS is powered by the full output of a dying start housed in the Eye of Harmony, and has the power to pull the Earth physically through space.  It seems to me that it could either absorb or deflect the solar flare, or just drag the Earth out of the way of the flare and pop it back after it passes.  But of course, that would leave us with no story, so I should just shut up and move on.

Also, both stories also feature truly outlandish saves to global catastrophes that should cause humanity to undergo a change to its shared human zeitgeist, but are virtually forgotten a galactic-scale tick of the clock later.  Truly we are short-sighted creatures.

“There are wonders here” – This little speech is on par with Tony Randall’s speech in The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, and I am not being sarcastic.

“If you remembered how things felt, you have stopped having wars…and stopped having babies” – We are pretty good at romanticizing trauma, to the point that we’re keen on trying them again.


“Let him call – this is more important” – If the subtext theme of the last two episodes was lying, if you had to name the theme in this episode, it would be “Priorities.”  Clara calls The Doctor before she calls the school or any of the kids’ parents.  More than once in the story, she’s more fascinated about what she’s seeing than in the safety of the kids – something she was chastising The Doctor about doing not too long ago.  And while Danny does stop things once or twice to discuss the fact that Clara is clearly still in touch with The Doctor, and still traveling with him, his priority is protecting the kids, a mindset Clara can’t deny she finds alluring.  Clara is more worries about Danny finding out about her still being on the TARDIS than the news that a solar flare is headed for Earth.

“I thought Miss Oswald told me to go find The Doctor, but it wasn’t her – it was just in my head” – There was no exact explanation for Maebh’s abilities – the voice of the plants said they had no idea who he is, so it seems unlikely they’d be behind her seeking him out.  Clara wasn’t even aware there was a problem when Maebh went off, so it wouldn’t have been her.  It’s possible this might be the subtle hand of Missy, guiding the young girl to The Doctor to make sure he doesn’t stroll off.

“…like the one that destroyed the Bank of Karabraxos” – The mention of the Bank from Time Heist specifically suggests a connection between the two – both were apparently a surprise to the planets in question.  One has to wonder whether Missy was behind the solar flares, here as well as on Karabraxos – bad guys seem to love big powerful weapons

“I didn’t try too hard to survive, but somehow, here I am” – Almost as if there was someone watching over him, perhaps?

“Well, that was surprising…and I love surprises” – Was Missy just watching the events, as we did, or did she have a hand in it somehow?  Well, we’ve not got long to wait to find out…

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO:  Not the Hanna-Barbera cartoon, and not the remake of the Japanese horror movie. Dark Water comes marching your way, as does the beginning of the end. of the season, that is.

New Who Review – “Flatline”

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.


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.