Tagged: The Doctor

New Who Review: “The Name of the Doctor”

Crossing one’s own timeline is a cardinal sin for a time traveler.  Walking over one’s grave even worse.  So when The Doctor is forced to do that…

by Steven Moffat
Directed by Saul Metzstein

Re-appearing after its defeat a year previous, The Great Intelligence forces The Doctor to the location of his grave, wherein is hidden the physical manifestation of his timeline, a map of his life, which in the hands of the wrong people could be used to re-write his life.  The Intelligence chooses to do so, at the cost of its own existence.  The only way to save The Doctor, and all the good works he did, is with another sacrifice.

Emotionally, the episode worked exceedingly well. We got a solid River Song story, one where we finally see The Doctor admit his feeling for her.  But narratively, we’re very close to seeing the same story three years in a row.  An attack on The Doctor results in all of time and space being thrown out of whack, and only through a well-placed sacrifice can everything be undone. We saw it even before the Moffat years in Turn Left, where Donna Noble is manipulated so as to have never met The Doctor, resulting in his death fighting the Racnoss queen, and all of the events afterwards changing.  The big twist here is it’s The Doctor who makes the final save of his companion, and not them saving him.

Having The Crimson Horror so closely preceding this episode somewhat diluted the fun of seeing The Paternoster Gang back – it might have been better to be a week ot two back, spread them out just a tad more. As much as people are clamoring for a spinoff series, the characters would need more fleshing out to stand up weekly viewing.

It all got a little needs-more-explainy at the end, but as is traditional, the emotional impact trumps any questions about how things could have happened as they did. And just in case they didn’t, that last scene is enough to forgive all sins, real or imagined.

GUEST STAR REPORT John Hurt (The Doctor (?)) has a staggering list of work in sci-fi and fantasy.  Perhaps best known for being the incubator for the eponymous creature in Alien, (not to mention a brilliant parody of that moment in Spaceballs), he was also in 1984, V for Vendetta, the Harry Potter films, really too many things to list.

THE MONSTER FILES – The Great Intelligence returns this episode, taking the visage of Dr. Simeon, last seen in The Snowmen. Considering the Intelligence seems to have been destroyed, the likelihood that they’re using the other media’s claim that it is indeed the Old One Yog-Sothoth (from the H.P. Lovecraft stories) is exceedingly slim.

The Whispermen didn’t get a whole lot of chance to do much save for showing off an ability to phase their hands into people’s chests and stop their hearts, and speak in verse.  Like The Shakri from The Power of Three, they certainly are interesting enough to warrant a future return, but it’d likely require a bit more explanation.  It’s unclear if they’re created by the Intelligence as temporary forms for its energy, or something else.  They bear a great resemblance to The Trickster from The Sarah Jane Adventures, leading many fans to believe that’s who was coming back.

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS – Trivia and production details

I CAN NEVER GET IT IN THE RIGHT ORDER – Once again we’re seeing River Song out of sync with past appearances.  She’s calling herself Professor again, which means we’re seeing her from near the events of Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead.  Indeed, since she has knowledge of her own death, she pretty much needs to be coming from AFTER that adventure, from when she was saved in CAL, the database in The Library.  The whole point of the episode is about how you can’t cross your own timeline – she wasn’t aware The Library was where she was going to die when she got there, so somehow she was able to join them in their sleep-meeting from within CAL.

Which is why I can’t grasp why people seem to think this will be the last time we’ll not be seeing her again.  What we saw was The Doctor coming to grips with the fact that River has at some point died.  The image that faded was the mental link image Clara was connected to – River simply closed the link.  We know for a fact that there are two adventures that have not yet occurred for The Doctor – he has not yet told her his name, and he has not giver her that adapted sonic screwdriver she had in that first/last story.  She will be back, and that’s that.  What we ARE seeing is their timelines starting to fill in.  In the two hundred or so years The Doctor was away before The Impossible Astronaut (remember, he goes from nine to eleven hundred years old) a lot of the stories in their diaries match up (Jim the Fish!), but not ALL. Plenty more to come.

“On the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the eleventh” – Dorium first names the place and the prediction at the end of The Wedding of River Song. “Silence will fall when The Question is asked”, and indeed that’s what happened – When Simeon asked for The Doctor’s name, it gave him the opportunity to undo all of his deeds, including keeping Davros from destroying the universe. So indeed, it’s possible The Silence was fighting the wrong enemy, and they should have been trying to stop The Great Intelligence and The Whispermen.

“I was born to save The Doctor” – It’s funny that one of the rumors about the upcoming 50th anniversary story was they’d be inserting Matt Smith into past Doctor footage – it turns out it was done here.  In addition to using Hartnell footage to present the first moment of The Doctor’s adventures, we see her appear in footage from The Invasion of Time, Arc of Infinity, and Dragonfire. Most impressively is we see her standing behind Ten and Donna as they survey The Library in River Song’s first adventure.  We see Troughton and Pertwee from footage in The Five Doctors, and stand-in versions of the remaining Doctors.

“But not in the name of The Doctor” – As with the first episode of the semi-series, the title did not mean what it seemed it would.  This new Doctor appears to have done things that the rest of his incarnations, the rest of himself, can’t bear to deal with.  It’s fair to guess this includes causing the end of the Time War, but that’s not yet guaranteed.

BIG BAD REPORT / CLEVER THEORY DEPARTMENT – Pretty much we’re just looking backwards now.  We can see what the common threads were during Clara’s appearances, and for the second half of the season.

“I don’t know where I am” Oswin says it in Asylum of the Daleks, Clara says it in Bells of St. John, and says it again here.

“They’re my echoes” – We heard references to ghosts and echoes throughout the series as well.  The mysterious creatures in Hide (not to mention Clara’s statement that “we must all be ghosts to you”), the memories and experiences in Rings of Akhaten, the Ice Warrior out of time in Cold War, all creatures out of their proper place in time.

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – Well, we know a little bit.  After that setup, there’s going to be a GREAT deal of rumormongering and Clever Theorizing over the next half year.  But even what we know is pretty damn cool.

  • David Tennant and Billie Piper are returning for the 50th anniversary episode, and so far, none of the other original Doctors are.  We don’t know from what point of Ten’s timeline we’ll bee seeing him.  Since it appears he and Rose are still traveling together, it’s likely from before Doomsday.
  • Jemma Redgrave will return as Kate Stewart, new head of UNIT.
  • The Zygons will return to the series, and appearances by Cybermen and Daleks are also rumored.

Other than that?  Who the hell knows?


New Who Review: “Nightmare in Silver”

New Who Review: “Nightmare in Silver”

Not since Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park has the an amusement park been made the center of a thriller so perfectly.  The return (and re-threatening) of a classic villain, a heck of a guest cast and a script by Neil Gaiman.  Seems like a dream, but mix it all together and it’s a…

by Neil Gaiman
Directed by Stephen Woolfenden

After last week’s last-minute extortion, Clara’s charges Angie and Artie are granted a trip on the TARDIS to Hedgewick’s World, the greatest amusement park ever.  But hidden beneath it is a dangerous secret – A vast sleeping army of Cybermen, under repair and improvement for a thousand years…and they are ready to return.


Warwick Davis (Porridge) has a list of genre longer than … OK, it’s long.  Starting off with Wicket in Return of the Jedi and Willow Ufgood in the film of the same name, he’s been the star of an amazing list of sci-fi and horro films.  He’s been featured in the Harry Potter films, and was Marvin in the film adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Most recently he was the star of Ricky Gervais’ latest project Life’s Too Short, where he played an over the to version of himself.

Jason Watkins (Webley) is a very busy comedic actor in Britain with quite a resume in genre work. He played Herrick on the British version of Being Human and DI Gilks in Dirk Gently. He was featured in Psychoville, the latest production of Sheersmith and Pemberton from The League of Gentlemen, and just worked twice with the delightful Miranda hart on Call the Midwife and her own show Miranda.

Since Neil Gaiman (writer) last wrote a Doctor Who script (last year’s The Doctor’s Wife, he’s written four of five new books (including children’s books [[[Chu’s Day]]] and [[[Fortunately, the Milk]]]), his novel [[[Neverwhere]]] was adapted for BBC Radio, and he’s probably won a few more awards (including the Hugo for the aforementioned Doctor Who script). He’s in the middle of what he calls his last book signing tour, and is still quite happily married with the musician and internet-enrager Amanda Palmer.

THE MONSTER FILES – The Cybermen are certainly The Doctor’s greatest enemy after The Daleks.  Originally from the tenth planet in our solar system, Mondas, the planet left the sun’s orbit, and to survive, the denizens of the planet began to replace their body parts with mechanical replacements, eventually becoming more machine than humanoid.  They fought The Doctor though many eras, taking many forms as their systems adapted and improved.

In the parallel universe known as “Pete’s world”, the Cybermen were created on Earth, by over-reaching scientist John Lumic as an improvement to the human race.  Things went bad quickly, and soon the world faced a global war with the Cybermen, one they believed they won.  They eventually crossed over to our world a few times, presumably meeting and allying (alloying?) with their Mondasian counterparts, eventually forming the version we see in this episode.

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS – Trivia and production details

This episode owes a debt to several past Cybermen adventures.  Neil Gaiman noted that he found the Troughton episode Tomb of the Cybermen to be the most scary of the cyber-adventures, and this story parallels it in many ways.  Both are set many years after the Cybermen were believed destroyed forever, and both feature a massive armory of Cybermen in suspension, awaiting awakening.

A chess-playing Cyberman was the center of one of Mark Platt’s Big Finish Audio adventures, The Silver Turk.  Both Platt and Gaiman’s reference the original (fake) chess-playing automaton, also known as The Turk, run by a chess master hidden within, as Porridge did here.  One of Platt’s plots was used as the base of the first new series adventure, Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel.  Russell T. Davies made sure Platt was paid in full as if he’d written the TV script, and he received a “Thanks to” line in the credits.  The Turk was also the inspiration for the Clockwork Droids in The Girl in the Fireplace.

“Or don’t you have the processing power?” Even the last trick is a classic Sci-Fi move – give the computer an impossible problem to solve and it applies more and more power to solve it.  Spock told the ship’s computer to solve for Pi on Star Trek, and Arthur Dent almost killed everyone on the Heart of Gold when it asked the Nutrimatic machine if it knew why he wanted to drink dried leaves in a cup, boiled. As is true of all literature, it’s not what tools you choose to use, but how well you use them, and Neil uses them expertly.

UPGRADE COMPLETE – More than a few science-fiction fans have drawn parallels between the Cybermen and the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The similarity was brought into te light in the recent Doctor Who / ST:TNG crossover in IDW comics, where the Borg and the Cybermen formed a brief alliance.  Here, we see the Cybermen take a bit more of a page from the Borg playbook, with the rapid adaptation and instantaneous assimilation of human beings.

TAKE MY ARMS, I’LL NEVER USE THEM… – Matt Smith’s portrayal of the battle in his head was dramatic and well-done, but the ever so slightly over the top portrayal of the Cyber-planner made me think of Steve Martin playing half of Lily Tomlin in All of Me.  And comic fans will note a parallel evolution in Dan Slott’s current run of Superior Spider-Man, with Peter Parker fighting for control of his mind and body, right down to trying to write messages on nearby pads.

JUST GIVE US ALL YOUR… – Gold has been a steadily growing threat to the Cybermen even since first mention of it as a weakness in the Tom Baker adventure Revenge of the Cybermen.  Originally it coated their respiration systems, causing asphyxiation.  As time passed, gold seemed to affect them as badly as silver did a werewolf.  Here, even in this advanced form, the weakness to gold survived, still in a physical fashion, allowing The Doctor to use it on the exposed circuitry to short out the Cyber-Planner’s control of his mind.

“The Biggest and best Amusement park there will ever be” – Considering the amusement parks that have been mentioned on the series, that’s saying quite a bit.  Disneyland Clom featured the Warpspeed Death Ride, as mentioned in The Girl Who Waited.  There’s been more than a few mentions of Disneyland in the series – a bunch of alien tourists were trying to go to Disneyland and ended up in Wales in Delta and the Bannermen.  The seventh Doctor and Ace visited The Greatest Show in the Galaxy.

“Let me show you my collection” – They raided the prop closet to fill the sets of Hedgewick’s world – there’s a slightly refitted version of the Doctor’s spacesuit from The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe, a ventriloquist dummy from The God Complex, and various aliens from Rings of Akhaten.  There’s a few Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood alumni as well, including a Shansheeth, a Uvdoni, and a Blowfish.

“Do any of you play Chess?” – The Doctor certainly does.  He claims the Time Lords invented Chess; it’s not impossible as one of the traps in The Five Doctors resembled a giant chessboard.  He’s played regular games with K-9, and a high-stakes (and voltage) game against Gantok, an agent of The Silence in The Wedding of River Song.

“You are beautiful” – The Doctor has made a bit of a habit of complimenting particularly well-built enemies.  He similarly admired the Clockwork Droids in Girl in the Fireplace, and the werewolves in Tooth and Claw.

“See You Next Wednesday” – Fans of John Landis perked up at that line – it’s a running gag from his films.  Originally a line from the video call in 2001: A Space Odyssey, it’s been a movie poster, a film shown in Feelaround, dialogue in a horror movie, and more than a few other things in his various films.

“The Cyberiad” – As well as having a lovely Roman sound, mimicking several other terms the Cybermen use like Legion, it’s also a deliberate tip of the hat to the classic Stanislaw Lem novel.

“You’re deleting yourself from history.  You realize you can be reconstructed from the holes you left?” – Somewhat verifying the theme that’s been coming up most of the season, following up from The Doctor’s desire to “step back into the shadows”.  But it’s important to note that the first place that was done was in the Dalek database, and it was done by…Oswin Oswald.


“I feel like a monster sometimes” – Warwick Davis delivers a solid performance in this episode, referring to the actions of The Emperor in the third person, and really getting across the heaviness of the crown.  And once again we get a reference to the term “Monster”, that we’ve heard in several episodes. And once again, his actions could easily parallel the way The Doctor feels about himself.

“She’s not our mother” – I can’t help but notice somewhat of a similarity between Angie and young Mels, as played by Maya Glace-Green in Let’s Kill Hitler.  The sass, the overuse of the word “stupid”, but yet the interest in seeing the TARDIS.  And when Clara describes her as being “full of surprises” one has to wonder if there’s not one more coming…

“You’re the boss” – And in this episode…she is.  She’s given charge of the Imperial platoon, and does a VERY good job of taking charge.

“You’re the impossible girl” – While it’s not the first time she learned about The Doctor’s fascination with her, it’s the first one she remembers, presuming she indeed doesn’t recall the events of Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS.  And with the finale only days away, we clearly haven’t got long to wait to learn more.

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – The Question is asked.  Who will hear the answer? The Name of the Doctor, this weekend.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtaIpkjF6Ss]

New Who Review: The Crimson Horror

Gated communities are usually met with some suspicion and mistrust – in this case it’s rightly founded.  Something is wrong in Sweetville, and The Doctor is red in the face about it.  A bunch of friends reappear to help combat…

by Mark Gatiss
Directed by Saul Metzstein

People are turning up dead in the canal in Victorian Yorkshire, their bodies in varied states of petrifaction and their skin a lobster red.  Madame Vastra and Jenny are asked to investigate, and when they realize that The Doctor is somehow involved, they hurry to investigate.  A woman is establishing her own ark on dry land, planning to survive the next torrent, not of rain, but of poison.

Mark Gatiss balances comedy and horror with a deft hand, being given the reins on the investigating Silurian and her companions.  This may be the closest we ever get to a completely solo Vastra and Jenny adventure, and it’s a delight.  The Northern accents alone are worth the price of admission.


Dame Diana Rigg (Mrs. Winifred Gillyflower) really should need no introduction, but there are young people who think The Avengers is only a comic book.  As well as playing Mrs Emma Peel (rightly described by comedian Rick Overton as “One generation of boys’ first serious erection”) on The Avengers, not to mention the Countess Teresa di Vicenzo (AKA the briefly Mrs. James Bond) in On her Majesty’s Secret Service) she started out at a high point, and kept on going higher,  In addition to a house favorite The Assassination Bureau (also starring Roger Delgado, the original Master) and a wonderful version of King Lear with Olivier, John Hurt and Leo McKern, she’s gone from Strength to Strength.  She also burning up basic cable in a popular turn on Game of Thrones.

Rachael Stirling (Ada Gillyflower) is Diana Rigg’s daughter, and this is the first time they’ve worked together.  She’s had an impressive career in acting, including a couple episodes of shows featured on Mystery!, which her mother was hosting at the time. Recently she was in Snow White and the Huntsman and the series The Bletchley Circle.

Two guests this episode have the distinction of playing several members of the same alien race, several times, over the course of the new series.
Neve McIntosh
and her delicious accent played sister Silurians Alaya and Restac in the two-parter The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood last year, and plays Madame Vastra here.
Dan Starkey (Commander Strax) also played two Sontarans in one story, The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky. He almost shot Mickey Smith and Martha Smith-Jones as Jask at The End Of Time, and first played the funniest wet-nurse you’ll ever see in A Good Man Goes to War. Since the Sontarans are a clone-race, having one actor play various members makes perfect sense. Christopher Ryan (Mike “the cool person” from The Young Ones) has also played two different Sontarans in different episodes. Dan also appears in Russell T Davies new series Wizards vs. Aliens as Randal Moon, hobgoblin extraordinaire.

THE MONSTER FILES – Mr. Sweet, a parasite species surviving from the Jurassic period, and possibly longer, is far from the first being getting the help of a human, though in this case it might be said that Mrs Gillyflower was the brains of the outfit.

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS – Trivia and production details

SET PIECES – Yorkshire was played by Cardiff in this episode, with a picturesque side-street getting a lovely touch-up, including a full set of gates and columns

…IS ONLY A MOTION AWAY – Dame Diana and Rachael Stirling are not the first parent and child pairing to appear on Doctor Who.  Mark Sheppard and his father William Morgan Sheppard both played the same role, that of Canton Everett Delaware III, in The Impossible Astronaut. David Troughton, Patrick’s son,  has appeared a couple of times, once as the Prince in The Curse of Peladon, once many years as Profiessor Hobbes in Midnight, and first, many years before, in his father’s last adventure The War Games.

WHOLOCK – With Gatiss and Moffat also being in charge of the oh-so-very popular Sherlock starring Bilbo and Smaug Benedict Cubmerbatch and Martin Freeman, there are ever going to be in-jokes that trickle through.  An unrecorded adventure of Sherlock Holmes was “the repulsive story of the red leech” as reported in The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez.

“Do you know what an optigram is?” – The Doctor used a process to read the last images off the eye of a Wirrn in a Tom Baker adventure The Ark in Space.  Rather than just one image, he was able to read several minutes of footage.

“Will you be preserved…when judgment rains down upon us all?” – One of the finest bits of foreshadowing i quite a while, Mrs. Gillyflower tells everyone her plans right then and there, and nobody catches it till much later.

“I once spent hell of a long time trying to get a gobby Australian to Heathrow Airport” – That would be Tegan Jovanka, long-time companion of the Doctor mainly during the Davison years.  Sarah Jane Smith investigated some of The Doctor’s friends, and said that at last report, Tegan was home in Australia, campaigning for Aborigine rights.  The reference is sent home with the following line “Brave heart, Clara”, paraphrasing Five’s motivational to Tegan.

“Doctor and Mrs. Smith…you’ll do very nicely” – Doctor John Smith was The Doctor’s go-to pseudonym when working on Earth during the Pertwee years.  He used it, or tried to, in Midnight.

“And you will have reached your destination” – I want to know how long Gatiss sat in his study giggling to himself over that wildly anachronistic reference to the TomTom GPS (Satnav) system.

“This one’s on me” – Can I just marvel in the delicious irony of a British woman kicking ass in a catsuit in an adventure featuring Diana Rigg?

“It’s you.. my monster” – Not the first time we’ve heard the word “monster” this season.  The line “Every lonely monster…needs a companion” in Hide was also clearly not just about the scary alien.

“Very enterprising” – There’s another parallel to The Snowmen here – in both cases, the antagonist finds something brand new, so different as to be alien (literally in the first case, figuratively here in Mrs. Gillyflower’s case), and in both cases, as The Doctor puts it in The Snowmen, both follow the Victorian ideal and try to find a way to profit from it.  Not even financially, but a way to achieve their ends.


“It’s complicated” – The Doctor was aiming for London 1893, the year after the events of The Snowmen, where The Doctor first met Victorian Clara.  This is the first time Vastra, Jenny and Strax have met Modern Clara, and found her most confusing.  Her look at “herself” in London of 1892 will almost certainly cause some questions to be asked a week hence.

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – Neil Gaiman. I could stop there.  But I don’t have to, because there’s also Cybermen, Warwick Davis and Neil Gaiman.  Did I say that twice?  Nightmare in Silver, a week away.

New Who Review – Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

She’s the only character on the show to appear in almost every episode.  She’s the TARDIS and she’s as important to the series as The Doctor himself.  So it’s nice when we get a story that features her  in a major way.

by Stephen Thompson
Directed by Mat King

Trying to get Clara and the TARDIS to get along,  The Doctor tries letting her fly the ship, shutting off some of the higher more complex functions…like the shields.  This exposes the ship to outside detection, and detected it gets, but space salvage collectors the Van Baalen Brothers.  Using an illegal magna-grab system, they grab the TARDIS, causing a massive overload in the ship, one that flings The Doctor out of the doors, and Clara rolling back deep into its corridors.  The Doctor is forced to engage the brothers to help him save Clara, and later, keep the TARDIS from exploding and destroying much of the universe.

The main threat of the episode is effectively a condensed version of the arc plot from Matt Smith’s first series – the destruction of the TARDIS causing a rift in time, and held in stasis by the TARDIS itself.  Even the solution – the Doctor telling himself what to do to fix it has been done in Moffat’s two-part short for Comic Relief Time and Space, and to a more in your face level, the earlier special Time Crash.

THE MONSTER FILES – The TARDIS is both the setting and primary antagonist of the episode, trying to keep itself safe as well as keep the Van Baalen Brothers powerless.  There have been a number of TARDIS-centric episodes of the series, in an attempt to give some glimpse into its workings. The Edge of Destruction was way back in the first series, and was the first opportunity to both open up the backstory of the show, and the first time it was suggested that the TARDIS was at least some form of sentience – it tries to warn the crew that it was heading back to the beginning of time. We got a mini-tour of the ship in The Masque of Mandragora in which we first see the second control room, and a very large boot cupboard.  The Invasion of Time promised a deep look inside the TARDIS as The Doctor must face invading Sontarans- alas, a strike meant that the planned TARDIS sets were never built, leaving them to film in a disused hospital. We saw sevela new rooms, including a wardrobe and the Zero Room in Castrovalva.  Neil Gaiman’s previous episode The Doctor’s Wife showed a lot of the interior of the ship, as well as a major insight into her character. One of the downloadable video games, simply titled TARDIS, gave a look at many of the rooms in the ship as well,


Steven Thompson (Writer) has admitted in interviews that he has a handful of dream episode he planned to pitch for the show, including a way to bring back the Krynoids from The Seeds of Doom. Moffat pithced this story to him, he decided it was a much better idea, and went off to write it. Thompson  has written three episodes of Sherlock, last coming over to Doctor Who for The Curse of the Black Spot.

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS – Trivia and production details

A WHOLE LOT OF RUNNING – Last seen in the aforementioned The Doctor’s Wife, we get another iteration of the classic “endless corridor” gag in this episode.  Doctor Who is notorious for this set-up – a simple set of two or three corridors, set at an angle to each other, and with a bit of careful cinematography, you can make them look like an endless set of twists and turns.  At least a couple of these corridors were built right along with the new set – we see The Doctor head down one to look for his the garage in The Bells of Saint John.  In the case of The Doctor’s Wife, the corridors were built expressly for the episode.  They also knew the episode was coming, so they left the Tennant control room set standing expressly for its use.…AND A ROOM AND A ROOM – We get a fleeting look at the swimming pool (last seen in Invasion of Time), the library (and a VERY interesting book), and what looks like an observatory.  The Telescope within is very reminiscent to the light collection weapon from Tooth and Claw.  It’s likely that it’s just a quick re-use of the model by the special effects team as opposed to it being the actual device from that episode.WE NEVER THROW ANYTHING AWAY – In that storage room Clara enters we see The Doctor’s (and River’s) crib, one of Amy’s hand-crafted TARDIS toys, a magnifying glass used (among other times) by Donna Noble in The Unicorn and the Wasp, and an umbrella that many presume is Victorian Clara’s from The Snowmen, it actually more closely resembles the umbrella carried by the eighth Doctor in Paradise Towers. VOICES FROM THE PAST – As Bram starts to dismantle the console, we hear voices from past adventures, including Susan, The Third, Fourth, Ninth and Eleventh Doctors, a couple of the Companions, and finally Five, complaining that Ten had “changed the desktop settings”.  Susan was allegedly the one to name the TARDIS, but in later adventures the name seems to be an official one.  Pertwee was the first to use the term “dimensionally transcendental”, techspeak for “bigger on the inside.  Baker’s line is from the single best explanation of  dimensional mechanics ever, given to Leela in Robots of Death.

“Basic mode? What, because I’m a girl?” – Well, The Doctor tried to teach Rose to fly the ship once, tho just as practice, and if she’d been actually been doing it, she’d have killed them both.  So for The Doctor to actually let Clara try flying the ship at all if quite a gesture of trust.  Glad it went so well.

“Well put – ‘Whoa’ and “awesome’.” – The Doctor describes the TARDIS as “infinite” – likely he’s either just engaging in hyperbole to make a point, or he’s referring to it being infinitely configurable.

“So that’s who…” – The mystery of The Doctor’s name has been a running theme for most of the current run of the show, and has become a major plot thread since the end of last season, supposedly culminating in the last episode of this series, The Name of the Doctor.  Theories have flown thick and fast as to the secret – is he hiding an act of evil in his past, or is he simply keeping it a secret so he can’t be traced back to his youth and destroyed?  In many cultures, knowing an enemy’s true name is the key to controlling or destroying them.

“The Eye of Harmony – exploding star in the act of becoming a black hole” – Mentioned just last week, the Eye of Harmony was first mentioned in The Deadly Assassin as the primary power source of the Time Lords.  Initially described as an actual black hole, here tweaked to be one in the act of a-borning.  Also, while initially described as being buried under the council chamber of Gallifrey, here we see the Eye is within, or at least accessible from, the interior of the TARDIS.


Many have expressed regret that all of the events have been forgotten by The Doctor’s companion and the Van Baalen brothers, to which I retort, exactly how much have been forgotten?  Gregor doesn’t remember the events of the adventure, but certainly recalls his shred of decency, resulting in him treating tricky with more…humanity.  And Clara says she doesn’t want to forget “all” of what’s happened.  She’s traveled in time enough that she’s potentially able to keep events erased from time in her mind, as The Doctor tries to do with Amy about Rory at the end of Cold Blood.

“What are you? A trick? A trap?” – For two weeks running we get validation that there’s nothing special about Clara, save for being a strong feisty girl.  Here she gets told about her other iterations, and doesn’t know a thing about them.  But again, it’s not known how much of this revelation she’ll remember.

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – Mark Gatiss, Diana Rigg, Strax, Jenny and Madame Vastra.  The Crimson Horror, one weekend hence.

Doctor Who: The 50th Anniversary Rumor mill

In a absence of fact, rumor and Clever Theories rush in to fill the vacuum.  And considering the security surrounding The 50th anniversary Doctor Who adventure, and the ravenous hunger of the public for details, there’s no doubt the media is falling over itself to deliver any snippet it can, real or imagined.

So far the actual facts are few and far between.

It will be broadcast in 3-D Whether or not there will be any cinematic presentations in that format is unkown, but wouldn’t be a bad idea.

We know of only one other Doctor who will appear – namely David Tennant, with Billie Piper returning as Rose Tyler.  No news on from what point of his history this even will take place, however, though based on their costuming, it’s a fair bet Tennant is playing the proper Doctor and not “Doctor Two”, the one from Pete’s world.

The Zygons are back – publicity photos confirm this. However, Robert Banks Stewart, writer of Terror of the Zygons (not to mention The Seeds of Doom), confirmed he gave permission to use the baddies, and claims in this interview that the Daleks and Cybermen will appear as well.  His data source is suspect, and none of either baddie have been sighted on location.

Jemma Redgrave will be back as Kate Stewart, the new head of UNIT.  Other guest stars include John Hurt and Joanna Page, “Stacey” from Gavin and Stacey, in which James Corden was Gavin.

Christopher Eccleston will not appear – He’s stated, and the BBC has confirmed that while he talked to Moffat about a return to the series, he has chosen against it.  Now there’s every possibility that’s a clever lie, intended to keep a surprise a secret. But one must know when to fish, and when to cut bait, so considering Eccleston’s reticence to stay with Who any longer than he did, it’s fairly safe to presume this is the truth.

None of the earlier Doctors will be back either – Colin Baker, Paul McGann and Sylvester McCoy all confirmed at a convention in New Zealand that none of them had been approached.  McGann still help out hope for a last-minute call, commenting he was used to being called on Wednesday for a part that began on Thursday.  But one thinkg they all agree on is that Lord of the Rings auteur Peter Jackson would make a stellar Who director.  Jackson whimsically commented in earlier interviews that he’d love to do an episode, even refusing payment, saying he’d accept a Dalek in lieu of a check.  While I’m sure the BBC would love to have this happen, but there’s certainly nothing in the cards

Those are the facts at hand.  Everything from this point on is merely the reportage of various rumors, dreams and outright cockeyed flumdummery from the media.

The roles Hurt and Page are playing are unknown, but theories abound.  Based on her costume at the various location shootings, some believe Page may be playing Queen Elizabeth the first, a character who has been alluded to in past episodes, most notoriously when The Doctor implied that her sobriquet of The Virgin Queen was not  (any longer) the case.

John Hurt’s role is unknown as well, but the fans are ready with a clever theory.  There are those who suggest that he is a new incarnation of The Doctor, having taken place between McGann’s and Eccleton’s.  This is possibly sprouting from this picture of John Hurt from the filmnig, wearing an outfit somewhat reminiscent of both actors’ costumes.  Whatever he’s playing, he’s dedicated to the part – he left early from a party in his honor over the weekend to ensure he made first call in Cardiff the next day

The past Doctors may appear virtually – The latest rumor bouncing about is that Doctor Who may take a page from Star trek, specifically Deep Space Nine’s adventure Trials and Tribbleations The UK’s Daily Star (not exactly a paper of record, but still) reports that the BBC may be planning to digitally insert matt Smith into episodes from past Doctors’ eras in the same way they inserted the DS9 cast onto Space Station K-7 in The Trouble With Tribbles.  This wouldn’t be the first time they did something similar – Matt appeared dancing with Laurel and Hardy on Amy and Rory’s TV in The Impossible Astronaut, which may well be where the rumor got its start.

The BBC are keeping as tight a lid on the details of the episode as possible for obvious reasons. Matt Smith has reported it’s a wonderful story, but shared no details.  On Jonathan Ross, David Tennant suggested “paintings” may be involved in the story in some way.

As a rule, one must use the first rule of the internet when analyzing the various “news” you will hear over the next few months – “Pictures, or it didn’t happen.”


New Who Review: “Hide”

Quite often ghosts are described as spirits who cannot bear to leave their loved ones.  That appears to be the case in this week’s Doctor Who adventure, as an old house seems to be the home of a creature (or two) that makes you want to run and…

by Neil Cross
Directed by Jamie Payne

Caluburn House is home to a roaming spirit who has been appearing for centuries, calling for help.  A former espionage agent and his assistant are dedicated to discovering her secrets when The Doctor arrives.  It’s evident quite quickly that the ghost is not all she appears to be…and she is not alone.  The Doctor is stranded, and Clara has to get past what appears to be a resentment by the TARDIS to save him.

Bluntly, this is the story people were expecting when they heard Neil Cross was writing for Doctor Who.  An indeed, it’s the first script he wrote – he had this idea first, and came to Moffat with it.  Rings of Akhaten was good, but didn’t have the edge one would expect from the creator of Luther.  A solid story with a stellar cast, including two exemplary guests.


Jessica Rayne (Emma Grayling) Hit the ground running in her short acting career, striking gold with the role of Jenny lee in Call the Midwife.  She’ll be back for the anniversary special An Adventure in Time and Space, playing Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert.  She also appeared with the rest of the Midwife cast in a sketch on Red Nose Day this year, with a particular guest star.

Dougray Scott (Alec Palmer) Has had an impressive career, both for the roles he took and the ones he almost had.  He was originally scheduled to play Wolverine in X-Men, but when production on Mission Impossible II went long, he had to give up the role.  He was also in the race to be the next James Bond, a part that eventually went to Daniel Craig.  He’s currently appearing in the thriller mystery series Hemlock Grove.

Jamie Payne (Director) has worked mainly in television, including three episodes of Call the Midwife and several genre shows like Primeval, Askes to Ashes and Survivors. I really liked the jump-cutting from several camera angles during conversations – gave the scenes a more disjointed nature.  Even more so than the Krafaysis in Vincent and the Doctor, the beasts are just lonely for each other, and reaching out for anyone who can help them.

THE MONSTER FILES – The Crooked Man follows a theme in Doctor Who of late – he’s not actually named in the episode, and he’s not actually a bad guy. The Doctor realizes it’s not actually trying to harm anyone, it’s just rapped in the same time/space event as Hilla Tacorien.  To make its movements a bit off, they filmed the suit actor moving backwards, and then reversed the film, resulting in being a bit irregular-looking when played.

Similarly, The Caliburn Ghast is another example of a phenomenon mistaken for supernatural when it’s just super-science. Scaroth of the Jagaroth was also spread across time, manifesting itself as seven distinct beings in City of Death.

Hmmm…a being appearing at several times in history, seemingly connected in some way… Oh, never mind, just a coincidence…

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS – Trivia and production details

NOTHING BEATS AN ASTRONAUT – That spacesuit may look familiar – it’s the one Ten wore in The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit.  He wears the same helmet as he enters Bowie Base One in The Waters of Mars,

STAY CLOSE TO THE CANDLES…THE STAIRWAY CAN BE TREACHEROUS – Not really a hint or anything, I just loved the way Clara hung onto the candelabra long after the candles got blown out.

THE QUESTION’S NOT WHERE…IT’S WHEN – The TARDIS didn’t used to get used in the body of an episode.  Usually it was a device for bringing the adventurers to the crisi of the week, and is them promptly forgotten about, or like in last week, taken off the table dramatically.  It’s really only in the Moffat years did it get more often used as a tool to solve the mysteries of the week.

“Member of the Baker Street Irregular, the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” – A real covert ops department in the British government during WWII, those were both nicknames for the Special Operations Executive, also known as “Churchill’s Secret Army”.  One of its members was (yes, that) Christopher Lee.

“Experience makes liars of us all” – There are SO so many lines in this episode that could easily be applied at The Doctor.  Palmer is talking about his brief life in espionage, and later laments the deaths he has caused – imagine how many times more The Doctor feels these things.

“Whiskey is the the eleventh most disgusting thing ever invented” – Ignoring the potential correctness of the phrase, this is just another passing use of the number eleventh that permeates the series, all alluding to the fact that The Doctor is in his eleventh regeneration, starting with matt’s first episode The Eleventh Hour.

“A blue crystal frm Metebelis III” – Oh boy did that one make the Whofen squee.  The planet Metebelis III was possibly the first attempt to create an arc storry on Doctor Who.  It was first mentioned in Carnival of Monsters as a planet he wanted to Take Jo Grant to after his exile was lifted.  He made a few attempts to reach it, finally succeeding in The Green Death, retrieving one of the blue crystals.  As he explains in this episode, the crystals enhance mental energy, which in that past episode, allow a group of people to break from the control of a sentient computer.  He gives the crystal to Jo as a gift as she leaves his company, only to have it reappear in Pertwee’s last adventure, Planet of the Spiders.  Here allowed a mentally handicapped man to read, and eventually to be healed of its damage that cause him handicap.

“Subset of the Eye of Harmony” – The Eye of Harmony is traditionally the name of the Black Hole that Rassilon stabilized and set in the core of Gallifrey, to use as a power source for all Time Lord technology.  In the TV movie it’s said to be on the TARDIS itself.  There’s a couple of theories to explain that, the most plausible being that each TARDIS is connected to the original Eye on Gallifrey.  But with Gallifrey now trapped in the time lock as part of The Doctor’s actions in the Time War, the Eye is likely a stand-alone power source.  It’s recharged itself lately on Rift energy, like the one found in Wales.  This is in fact the time time the Eye has been mentioned in the new series.

“In four seconds the entropy would drain my heart – in ten seconds I would be dead” – It is assumed that the conduit that Emma opens would prevent that eventuality, as they were in the pocket universe for more than four seconds.  Once the way was open, the TARDIS opened up for Clara (by itself – note that modern Clara hasn’t got a key) and made the dangerous trip.  And then again at the end of the episode.  Presumably the trip through that conduit is not as arduous as a full blown trip in the time vortex, which explains how The Doctor and The crooked Man survived it hanging onto the outside.

“Every lonely monster…needs a companion” – See earlier comment about statements not always referring to whom they’re originally said about.


“Is she real?  as in, actually real?” – That’s another “Clarallel” – it’s very similar to a line Future Oswin spoke in Asylum of the Daleks, asking The Doctor if he wasn’t a figment of her imagination.

“Cold…warm…cold…warm” – What interesting is that it’s supposedly it’s Hilla and Emma & Alec who have the connection.  But the connection gets MUCH stronger when Clara walks through the odd manifestation The Doctor chalks off.  At first, many folks online thought it was because Clara herself was the anomaly.  That wasn’t the case, but since we learned later that the ghost was a temporal anomaly, might not another temporal anomaly also strengthen the link?

“It sticks out, like….a big chin.” – We’re not talking about Emma anymore, are we Clara?

“We’re all ghosts to you” – Here we see the sum total of Earth’s history, from its fiery origin to its fiery end.  And Clara can’t cope with it.  She imagines how insignificant humans must look like to him.  Wilf had a similar conversation with The Doctor, saying “We must look like ants to you”: The Doctor replied “I think you look like giants”

“You are the only mystery worth solving” – As before, The Doctor may well be talking about Humanity as a whole…but he may well be looking straight at Clara and talking to her specifically.

“It doesn’t like me” – Clara’s belief that the TARDIS “doesn’t like” her was first referenced in Cross’ last story, and it was easy enough to wave off as worry.  Here’s it’s placed flat in the middle of the room and has a lampshade on.  Theories have abounded that Clara may be an anomaly of time, as Captain Jack became when Rose made him a living Fixed Point.  More than a few people have drawn more than a vague connection there, suggesting that Clara may be related to Jack in some way.

The interaction between Clara and the TARDIS is priceless, from Clara called her a “cow” to the TARDIS choosing Clara’s own image, because it’s programmed to project an image the viewer will trust and esteem, and realizing the only person that means for Clara is herself.  Considering the title and plot of next week’s episode, it’s clear this plot thread will be followed quite a bit more.

“You need a place to keep this” – The Doctor’s confusion is understandable – there’s been either an umbrella stand or a hat rack in the control room for almost every iteration of either the ship or the Doctor.  It’s almost conspicuous in its absence.  I earlier posited the theory that what we’re seeing as the control room now is the default design, the design for a person who couldn’t care anymore about how it looks, and one who wasn’t expecting guests, so they wouldn’t need a hat rack.

“Clara – what is she?” – As in The Almost People, The Doctor is ostensibly just out for an adventure when he’s actually looking for information about his companion from an expert source.  Emma has nothing but good to say about her, which should please The Doctor, but likely only makes him more curious.

“Don’t trust him…there’s a sliver of ice in his heart” – but is it at all possible that based on this statement from earlier in the episode that she’s lying?  She’s a powerful enough psychic empath that The Doctor seeks her out to get a reading on Clara – odds are she’s right about what she sees in him. She just may not understand the whys and wherefores that cause d it, and assumed the worst.

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – One of the more promising titles in the series – Journey to the Center of the TARDIS – in one Saturday hence.

The New Who review – “Cold War”

You’d think we’d have learned as a people – if you find a large humanoid form frozen in the ice, don’t thaw it out.  And really don’t thaw it out if you’re cut off from humanity, like in an arctic research base, or as in this episode, a sinking Soviet Russian submarine.  With The Doctor being mistaken for a spy, and an ancient Martian conqueror trying to blow up the world, things were set for an unpleasant interpretation of the term…

by Mark Gatiss
Directed by Douglas Mackinnon

A Russian submarine unearths an Ice Warrior, frozen in the permafrost of the North Pole.  The Doctor arrives (aiming for Las Vegas) and attempts to broker a peace between the already very skittish Russian crew and a warrior who presumes that his people are dead, and that he has nothing to lose.

Gatiss pulls off a great version of the traditional “trapped with a monster” story, wit well-timed scares, the one guy who thinks he can side with the monster, and a smattering of 80s dance tunes.  Tense, exciting, and an ending that is rather a surprise.  The direction is dead-on for such a film – snatches of images only, never a shot of the full beast, cause there’s no need.


David Warner (Professor Grisenko) is Evil.  Or was, anywway, in the classic Time Bandits.  His career in and out of the genre is considerable – he played Jack the Ripper in another time-travel classic, Time After Time, voiced The Lobe in Freakazoid! (not to mention Ras Al Ghul on Batman the Animated Series) and played Sark in Tron.  His history with Doctor is equally deep. He was in fact offered the role of The Doctor in 1974, but turned it down.  Since then he’s appeared in a number of audio adventures, provided a voice in the Dreamland mini-series, and played The Doctor, albeit an alternate one in Big Finish’s Unbound series.

Liam Cunningham (Captain Zhukov) is currently fighting the winter in Game of Thrones as Ser Davos Seaworth. Like warner, he was almost The Doctor – he was in the running for the role in the 1996 TV movie, eventually played by Paul McGann.  He also appeared in the Titanic mini-series that brought us our first look at Jenna.

Tobias Menzies (Lieutenant Stepashin)  will also be appearing in GoT later this season. He also appeared in ROME as Marcus Brutus.

Mark Gatiss (writer) has been lobbying to bring back the Ice Warriors for some years, and Moffat finally relented.  He’s been busy co-writing and creating the new Sherlock series, as well as appearing in the recent series of Being Human.  He’s also written An Adventure in Time and Space, the anniversary story of the creation of the series, due to be broadcast near the time of the anniversary.

THE MONSTER FILES – The Ice Warriors first appeared in an eponymous tale during the Troughton era with a number of parallels to this story, in that both feature a frozen member of the Martian race thawed out in haste.  In the original adventure, the Ice Warrior Varga was played by Bernard Bresslaw, a regular castmember of the “Carry On” films.  He was 6’7″ in stocking feet, and was usually paired with the diminutive Charles Hawtry, letting the difference in size provide much of the comedy.  They reappeared shortly after in The Seeds of Death, mainly as a way of justifying the expensive costumes.  They reappeared in the Pertwee years in the two Peladon stories. By this time, the former Martians had renounced their warlike ways.  The tenth Doctor alluded to them in The Waters of Mars, theorizing in a cut scene that they may have discovered The Flood and froze it in the glacier, abandoning the planet in reponse, recognizing their threat.

Like so many classic series villains, they’ve appeared in many stories in novels and audio plays which served to greatly expand their history. The rank of Grand Marshall and some of the details of the caste system first appeared in the novel Legacy So far, little of the information we’ve seen in those expended adventured have been much used in the series, but contrariwise, little of it’s been expressly discounted either.

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS – Trivia and production details

A MODEL THE SIZE OF A QUARTER…AN EXCELLENT DECEPTION – This is one of the first times in years where the special effects on the series were done as model work and not CGI.  The Russian submarine was a huge model filled in a miasma of smoke standing in for water.

…AND AGARN’S WEARING A DRESS – I don’t know if there’s a name for it, but I am a complete sucker for the gag where a character makes a suggestion to do something, and another character is all “No, NO way, NOT happening, UH-uh”, and in the next shot, there’s the first character doing their suggestion.  It was described perfectly in this scene from Freakazoid!

“Am I speaking Russian?” The TARDIS translates languages for its inhabitants, except of course, when it’s dramatically or comedically expedient not to, like in last week’s episode.

“This wasn’t a test” – Except when it is, of course.  The Doctor placed Victorian Clara in a position of danger in The Snowmen, and when she asked “Is this s test?”, he told her it was.  Remember rule one – The Doctor lies.

“Jaw jaw, not War War” The Doctor is paraphrasing Winston Churchill, who we learned in Victory of the Daleks is a great friend of The Doctor.

“I reset the HADS” – The Hostile Action Displacement System is a defense mechanism on the TARDIS, last seen in another Troughton episode, The Krotons.  When attacked by a threat of sufficient force, the ship dematerializes, removing itself from danger.  It’s supposed to rematerialize a short distance and time from its departure point, but as is traditional, things on the TARDIS don’t always go smoothly.  It’s a perfect way to get the TARDIS out of the way and force The Doctor to think on his feet, and more inventive (not to mention obscure) that simply having it break down.


Another theme has arisen between this episode and the last – Song. Skaldak talks about “singing the songs of the Old Times” with his daughter.  It’s how The Doctor describes the call the Ice Warrior uses to summon his suit. It’s an odd choice of words, so I must assume it’s deliberate

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO Hide.  The title, and very good advice.  Next Saturday.


The New Who Review “The Rings of Akhaten”

“Something Awesome”.  Seems an easy thing to ask for from a fellow who can go to any moment in time and space, and allows for lots of interpretation.  So Clara asks for that, The Doctor is happy to provide, whisking her off to…

By Neil Cross
Directed by Farren Blackburn

The Doctor takes Clara to Akhaten, a group of worlds inside a series of asteroid belts orbiting a huge star.  It’s the time of a ceremony that will supposedly keep the god which created their worlds asleep.  Young Merry is elected to sing the history of their civilization, and is naturally skittish about getting it right.  It’s made plain as time passes that this is more of a sacrifice than a simply ceremony, forcing The Doctor and Clara to take a hand in saving young Merry, and to keep the very real god from eating the system.

The episode serves two purposes; to serve as a BIG info dump for Clara’s backstory, and to really let The Doctor show off to her. As to that second half, it’s very much a parallel to The End of the World, Rose’s first foray into space.  Both feature a bevy of new aliens, including the Face of Boe, and both feature am enlarging sun threatening to engulf them.

The story is solid, and Jenna-Louise Coleman does wonderfully in the common spot of the companion’s first exposure to the rest of the universe, but I thought the direction on Matt was a bit lacking.  In comparison to the magnificent bombastic speech he gave in The Pandorica Opens, his monologue to the sentient sun was somewhat lacking.  It may have been a decision to make him seem sadder, or tired, weighed down, but it came off weak for me.  I’d have much rather seen him almost daring the sun to take it all, as opposed to the more resigned tone he had here.

Also, we’re once again seeing a story where the companion saves the day when The Doctor’s plans come up lacking.  That’s been happening a LOT more with Moffat’s run on the show, and while I enjoy seeing a strong character, as I’ve said before, I wouldn’t mind seeing The Doctor save everybody on occasion.

THE MONSTER FILES – The sentient sun of Akhaten reminds one of the antagonist in 42, a living sun fighting back after the mining ship accidentally stole her children.  This one is clearly more belligerent in its attitude.

The production team went to great lengths to create a wide range of brand new creatures in this episode.  We’ve had a couple of big collections of aliens in the new series, like the aforementioned party on Platform One, Dorium’s place in A Good Man Goes to War, and even the bar where Captain Jack met Alonzo.  Save for the last one, they’ve gone out of their way to create new aliens, as opposed to grabbing stuff off the rack.  One race breathed though some sort of filtration device, somewhat reminiscent of the Hath, the fish-creatures from The Doctor’s Daughter.

GUEST STAR REPORT Neil Cross (writer) Created the series Luther, for which we are all rightly thankful.  He also wrote the script for Mama, Guillermo Del Toro’s recent presentation

Farren Blackburn (Director) last worked on Doctor Who when he directed The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe, last year’s Christmas Special.  He’s had a long career in directing TV, including an episode of Luther and two of the remake of Terry Nation’s Survivors.

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS – Trivia and production details

A TALE THAT GROWS IN THE TELLING – There’s been a number of stories in the series that center around a grand festival that serves as a way for an old threat to return.  The most memorable are the twin tales Kinda and its sequel Snakedance.  The actions of the villain in those stories were more deliberate; here it’s more a case of time being up for the dormancy of the sun.

“I came here a long time a go with my granddaughter” – This is, in fact, the first mention of Susan in the new series.  Clara’s double take on the fact that a man this young-looking can have a granddaughter is not followed up upon, but will almost certainly be referred to again.

Also, did anyone else find it odd that they refer to their god as “Grandfather”?

“What’s happening, why is it angry?” – The TARDIS translates foreign and alien languages automatically for those traveling within it.  But there’s almost always a scene where a companion is faced with an alien it can’t understand.  Now, there’s any number of explanations that could explain such a thing, like they haven’t been on the ship long enough for all languages to process, or some languages are more differnt from English (or too simplistic, such as more animal -like speech like Doreen’s) to be immediately legible.  But it all comes down to the fact that a scene where a Companion misunderstands a situation due to not knowing the language, resulting in a comedic moment, is just plain too comedic a moment NOT to do.  And any attempt to inject import into it is just plain Looking Too Hard.

“Not money….something valuable” – The big theme of the story is that of experiences and memories having an intrinsic value.  For the people of the system, they’re used as currency, a system which I have to admit sounds cooler than it would be in actual use.  I can imagine any number of problems with having to part with one’s cherished belongings in order to buy the groceries.  In the case of the god at the center of the system, those memories and experiences are its literal bread and butter.  Clearly it merely reads those memories as opposed to draining them, as The Doctor isn’t reduced to an empty shell.  In the case of Clara’s leaf, it’s absorbed entirely as it doesn’t have any memories itself, but represents potential existence, a life un-led.  Need I mention that this is also the chosen food of the Weeping Angels?

“Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax, and Cabbages and Kings” – The Doctor quotes Lewis Carroll, specifically The Walrus and The Carpenter.  While his work has never been mentioned in the TV show, it’s been referenced in the other media a few times.  The Doctor met the author in an prose adventure called The Shadows of Avalon, and in a fan-made video adventure called Downtime (which features the Great Intelligence, but that’s likely just a coincedence), it’s revealed that he photographed a young Victoria Waterfield. (Those who know a bit about the kind of photography Mr. Dodgson liked to take of young girls may find a moment of thought there)


CARLOTTA VALDEZ I WILL MAKE YOU HER – It wasn’t until The Doctor said out loud that the reason he was so keen on spending time with Clara is because she “remind[s] me of someone who died” that I realized that The Doctor is in a similar situation to Scottie in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.  Like in the film, Scottie loses Madeline after she falls from a high place.  The Doctor doesn’t fall into a depression over it (that was from the last one) but does become very excited about meeting her again, or at least another close approximation.  Clara’s bold statement that she won’t be a “replacement” for the other Clarae shows an independence that Judy never had in the film.  And just to keep the pot stirring, Scottie was the target of a con job, and Judy was only pretending not to know him, when in fact (SPOILERS) she had been posing as Madeline to use him as a patsy in her “death”, (END SPOILERS)

“She’s not possible” – But it’s clear that The Doctor is fascinated by Clara, not in the way Scottie was of Judy, but more as trying to figure out how she can appear at three moments of history.  It’s more than spatial genetic multiplicity, which is how Gwen Cooper looks so much like Gwyneth from The Unquiet Dead – here it seems much more like it’s the SAME person, with so many “Clarallels”.  He follows her through her whole life, from the moment her parents met to the time of her mother’s passing, which serves to reveal the secrets behind both Clara’s book, and the leaf which she called “page one”.  The two years she skipped in the progressive numbers on the book were 16 and 23 – 23 was the year the Maitland’s mom died, and she was simply too bust thinking about them to write in the book, and 16 was the year her own mom died.  This also serves to explain how she couldn’t bear to leave her friends on their own when their mom died.

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – What’s big and hard and full of…OK, it’s a submarine, and there’s a bunch of very nervous Russians trying to stay alive against one The Doctor’s oldest enemies. A return to the Cold War, seven days hence.

Amelia Williams’ Summer Falls latest Doctor Who e-book tie-in

BBC Books will be releasing Amelia Williams’ children’s classic Summer Falls in e-book form, tying in with its appearance in the Doctor Who episode The Bells of Saint John.

Amelia Williams, née Pond, and her husband Rory, The Doctor’s previous companions, were transported back to 1930s New York at the end of The Angels Take Manhattan. Based on the evidence, she became part of the publishing industry, writing this book and publishing the Melody Malone adventure The Angel’s Kiss.

This is the third tie-in book produced for the series, the first two being the aforementioned Melody Malone adventure and The Devil in the Smoke, an adventure featuring Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax the PotatoSontaran.

Summer Falls will be released on April 4th, and is available now for pre-order on Amazon.com.

New Who Companion To Be Selected “Idol”-Style


Riding the wave of major West End productions being cast by popular vote on television, the BBC announced today that the next co-star for the popular science-fiction program Doctor Who will be selected on a new reality show talent competition.

The show, “No Xenon Impact” (An anagram of “Next Companion”) will be executive produced by Caro Skinner and Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on the format of his reality show “How do you solve a problem like Maria?“, which cast the lead of the Sound of Music revival. The show will be co-hosted by John “Captain Jack” Barrowman and long-time Doctor Who fan and guest-star David Walliams.

DW Showrunner Steven Moffat admitted he was first “hesitant” at the idea, but admitted “It gives the show a mad new challenge – The Doctor never knows who his new friends will be, and now neither will we.”

The show will premiere on May 25th, a week after the second half of the current series of Doctor Who ends, and will run for six weeks.  Contestants (eight female, four male) will be drilled weekly on their acting and improv skill, their knowledge of the program, and what Walliams describes as “A whole lot of running.” Contestants will be voted on weekly by the viewing audience, and a different “guest alien” who “Exterminate” one or two hopefuls live on the program. Matt Smith and current companion (already confirmed to be returning for the eighth series) Jenna-Louise Coleman have agreed to appear for the series finale, where Matt will present a key to the TARDIS to the lucky winner.

Filming for the new eighth series of Doctor Who has yet to be scheduled; it is believed by many that this competition has been in the planning for some time, and the eighth series production has been scheduled to accommodate it.