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 andScarborough 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 waslike, ‘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 withthe 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.”
As most of us Whovians and ComicMixers know, BBC America became the All Doctor Who All The Wibbly Wobbly Timey Winey Stuff network this past week in honor of the premiere of Season 9 – which, as I write this, airs tonight, Saturday, September 19. So I pretty much kept my TV tuned to channel 101 (the BBC America station on my cable system), except for some episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Hardball with Chris Matthews – oh, and the first half-hour of the Repugnantican debate on CNN, of which the less I have to say about that sorry affair the better, except that it disgusted me, and I returned to the All Doctor Who All The Wibbly Wobbly Timey Winey Stuff with relief.
So here’s a rundown of my opinions of random episodes in the lives of the Doctor.
There have been a number of emotion-walloping episodes since the reboot 10 years ago – see below – but TheEnd of Time “had me at hello.” Much of the credit goes to the absolutely smashing and brilliant Bernard Gribbins as Donna Noble’s grandfather, Wilfred Mott; there were so many moments, but two stand out for me: Wilfred’s tearful pleading and urging to the Doctor to kill the Master and save himself – “Now you take this, that’s an order, Doctor. You take the gun, you take the gun and save your life. And please don’t die, you’re the most wonderful man on earth! I don’t want you to die!” – and his final salute to the Gallifreyan at Donna’s wedding.
Don’t worry; of course I’m not ignoring David Tennant. His acting chops came to the fore here, from his rage and bitterness towards Wilfred, the man he had just told he “would be proud if he were my dad” for being the instrument of his end – “Cause you had to go in there, didn’t you? You had to go in there and get stuck, oh yes. ‘Cause that’s who you are, Wilfred. You were always this, waiting for me, all this time…But me…I could do so much more…So much more!…But this is what I get. My reward…But it’s not fair!” – to his last poignant visits, his last literally life-changing gifts to the people who had journeyed with him through this regeneration: Martha and Mickey, Sara Jane, Donna, Captain Jack, and, of course, the woman he loved, the woman he could never have, Rose Tyler. His last encounter with her, that last promise of “I bet you’re going to have a really great year” was both an acknowledgement that, because of WWTWS, for Rose it was just starting, but that for him, it was truly over. And yet… “I don’t want to go.”
Best Exit of a Companion
Or, in this case, companions. The Angels Take Manhattan rated a close second as “Most Heartbreaking,” as Amelia Pond, the “girl who waited,” became the “woman who refused to wait” – “It’ll be fine. I know it will. I’ll be with him like I should be. Me and Rory together.” – grabbed at the chance of a life in the past with the love of her life, her husband, Rory Williams (synchronally speaking, “the man who waited”). Yes, it broke Matt Smith’s Doctor’s hearts, but still she managed to let him know they were okay with no regrets, trying to offer him some comfort and reminding me that she and he were not over, because of all the WWTWS:
“Hello, old friend, and here we are. You and me, on the last page. By the time you read these words, Rory and I will be long gone. So know that we lived well, and were very happy. And above all else, know that we will love you, always. Sometimes I do worry about you, though. I think once we’re gone, you won’t be coming back here for a while, and you might be alone, which you should never be. Don’t be alone, Doctor. And do one more thing for me. There’s a little girl waiting in a garden. She’s going to wait a long while, so she’s going to need a lot of hope. Go to her. Tell her a story. Tell her that if she’s patient, the days are coming that she’ll never forget. Tell her she’ll go to sea and fight pirates. She’ll fall in love with a man who’ll wait two thousand years to keep her safe. Tell her she’ll give hope to the greatest painter who ever lived and save a whale in outer space. Tell her this is the story of Amelia Pond. And this is how it ends.”
Hmm, here’s a WWTWS question: Did little Amelia Pond wait so long – 12 years! – because the Doctor was off having adventures with the grown-up Amy and Rory? Was everything that we saw actually a repeat of everything that had already happened?
Best Return of a Companion
Sarah Jane Smith in “School Reunion.” Elisabeth Sladen was my first companion (with Tom Baker), and for me she set the standard – and I believe for everyone who followed her. She broke the mold of what had come before. Rather than transcribe their meeting, here’s the link to the YouTube vid. And in honor of the late Ms. Sladen, here’s a link to her.
As always, YMMV.
Best Introduction of a Companion
Jenna Coleman as Oswin Oswald in “Asylum of the Daleks” – or is that as Clara Oswin Oswald in “The Snowmen” – or is that as Clara Oswald in “The Bells of Saint John?” Yep, it’s “The Impossible Girl,” who has saved the Doctor in all his incarnations since the very beginning, when she guided him to the right TARDIS: “Sorry. But you were about to make a very big mistake. Don’t steal that one; steal this one. The navigation system’s knackered, but you’ll have much more fun.” Here I am proud to announce that I guessed the identity of the Doctor’s (upcoming) new companion in a phone call with Editor Mike, even though you tried to tell me I was wrong, Mr. Gold. Yes, you did. No matter how you try to deny it, it is a fact.
Best Confrontation between the Doctor and the Companion
I’m watching it rerun right now. Clara Oswald, in the penultimate Season 8 episode, “Dark Water,” demands that the Doctor prevent her boyfriend, Danny Pink, from being killed in a car accident, blackmailing him by throwing the keys of the TARDIS, one by one, into the lava pit of an active volcano…sorry, I have to stop writing for a second…
Okay, I’m back.
Best Recurring Character
Make that “Characters,” with an “s.” Im-not-so-ho, the Paternoster Gang: The Silurian lizard lady, Madam Vastra, (Neve McIntosh), her human wife (who masquerades as her maid), Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart), and the “Mr. Potato Head” Sontaran Strax (Dan Starkey), their butler. Hah! I bet you thought I was going to say River Song.
Runner-up to Best Recurring Character
Jemma Richardson as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, first seen as UNIT’s (UNified Intelligence Taskforce, nee United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) Head of Scientific Research, and later its Director. Hah! I bet you thought I was going to say River Song.
Bravest Loss of a Supporting Character
Danny Pink, the soldier, killed in a car accident, turned into a Cyberman by Missy, and yet rising above his programming to turn certain defeat into certain victory in “Death in Heaven.”
Saddest Loss of a Supporting Character Runner-Up
Kate Stewart’s assistant, the asthmatic Osgood (Ingrid Oliver), became an instant fan favorite when she was introduced in the 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor,” sucking down on her inhaler and wearing the Fourth Doctor’s (Tom Baker) scarf, which she either knitted herself or “borrowed” from the archives hidden in UNIT’s Tower of London headquarters. We caught up with her in Season 8’s finale, “Death in Heaven,” in which she’s still sucking down on that inhaler, but now wears the Eleventh Doctor’s (Matt Smith) bow tie – again, she either went out and bought it or “borrowed” it from UNIT’s archives. But our reunion with her was brief, because The Mistress, a.k.a. Missy, The Master’s female incarnation, kills her.
But wait! It has been revealed that Osgood will be back in Season 9! How? Is she really the Zygon impersonator from “The Day of the Doctor,” or will be more WWTWS?
Best The Master
John Simm, especially in his last arc (“The End of Time.”) In his portrayal as the Doctor’s “Professor Moriarty” in “The End of Time,” Simm heartrendingly played to perfection the other side of the poor, wrecked mind of The Master; we got a glimpse of “what might have been.” Instead, it was revealed that The Master was a pawn of the Time Lord President Rassilon (Timothy Dalton) – who was responsible for the drumbeat in The Master’s head that drove him mad and onto the path of his many lives. Sorry, Missy fans, she’s okay, but I’m just not that into her.
Best Season Finale
“Death in Heaven.” Im-not-so-ho, this one had everything. Life and death, hope and resignation, love and hatred. There were final reunions and final sacrifices. And a season-long question was answered – “Am I a good man?” But the best part? Brigadier Sir Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart finally got that salute from the Doctor.
In a continuing torrent of news and excitement from a regional comic convention on the west coast, BBC America announced the premiere date of series nine of Doctor Who – September 19th.
Having filmed in Cardiff since January, Peter Capaldi said:
“Soaring through all of time and space, series nine sees the Doctor throw himself into life with a new hunger for adventure. The Cosmos is there for the taking, thrilling, epic and enticing, and his to play in. But he’s almost reckless in his abandon. It’s almost like he’s running from something, something that if it ever catches him will turn his life upside down.”
Michelle Gomez will return as Missy, the latest incarnation of The Master, in the season’s two-part premiere The Magician’s Assistant / The Witch’s Familiar. Highlights of the series so far revealed include the return of Kate Stewart, U.N.I.T., Osgood, and the Zygons, an episode featuring Vikings in space, a city of Daleks, and a new race of mercenaries known as The Mire.
Mark Gatiss returns to writing for the series, as well as new contributors including Sarah Dollard and Catherine Tregenna.
Some will say they knew all along, and some are still scraping their jaws off the floor A big surprise, a BIG surprise.
By Steven Moffat
Directed by Rachel Talalay
Deciding to come clean with her boyfriend Danny, Clara begins to bear all to him over the phone, only to have the call, and his life, cut short as Danny is struck fatally by a passing car. Clara passes through the five stages of grief off camera, and advances to step six – Plan To Get Him Back. She attempts to threaten The Doctor into saving him, but learns quickly that it’s not necessary. As they arrive in a bizarre mausoleum, Danny awakens on the other side of the equation, in the same office where we’ve seen several people arrive, having it explained to him that he’s dead. The Doctor and Clara are told a wild story – a discovery about the afterlife that has caused a change in the mortuary industry. But in fact, the bodies are not being protected from harm, but harvested for organic base materials by the Cybermen. But it turns out there’s not one old foe to face, there’s two – the enigmatic Missy is in fact The Doctor’s old foe The Master, back again, in a new form, and clearly playing the long game.
As thrilling as the reveals were in the episode (especially the final one), not a great deal happens. We finally learn about the background of Danny Pink, in a series of very good scenes, played well by Samuel Anderson. But largely, the episode is set-up for next week’s finale – we learn who the foe is (are), we learn about the plot, and that’s about it. Lots of good acting between Capaldi and Coleman, not to mention a welcome return from Sheila Reid as Clara’s Gran.
Given the nature of this story, we must note the SPOILER ALERT. Proceed with caution.
GUEST STAR REPORT –
Rachel Talalay (Director) started her genre career right at the start, directing the Nightmare on Elm Street sequel Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, a title that managed to lie twice. She directed the…divisive…Tank Girl, and Ghost in the Machine, a film with a story somewhat thematically linked to this one. The majority of her career has been in television, both here in the US and the UK. She directed two episodes of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), some Ally McBeal, and more recently Kyle XY and the…divisive…Flash Gordon series from Syfy.
THE MONSTER FILES – The Cybermen have had quite a few appearances in the new series, most recently in this new design in Neil Gaiman’s Nightmare in Silver. Our universe’s version of the cyborg monsters came from the planet Mondas, a tenth planet in the solar system that was ripped from orbit. The denizens of the world slowly replaced their body parts to survive, and eventually became a race that saw what we call the Singularity as the logical progression of life. The version of the Cybermen we’ve seen in the new series are from a parallel dimension colloquially known as Pete’s World, after Rose Tyler’s father. Inventor John Lumic created them as a new step in evolution, but as happens, his invention got out of hand. There’s been a question all along of whether the Cybermen we’ve seen in recent years are some amalgamation of the Pete’s World and Mondasian Cybermen. Considering one of the promo shots for this adventure featured The Doctor holding the head of a classic series Cyberman, we may finally see the question at least addressed.
The Master was created simply to be the Moriarty to The Doctor’s Sherlock. Played originally by the late Roger Delgado, The Master remained a threat to the universe through the original and new series, and even the TV movie, played by Eric Roberts. His history kept under wraps, it’s known that he and The Doctor knew each other from the Time Lord Academy, being members of the student think tank The Deca. Rumors have bubbled about that before Delgado’s passing, there was to be an adventure where it would be revealed The Doctor and The Master were brothers – of course, since it was never written, one could claim it never happened. The Master has always had a habit of working in the background, often behind the thin veil of a play on words pseudonym. Even the name used when John Simm played him, “Mister Saxon” was an anagram of “Master No. Six”, as in the sixth actor to play the role.
BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS –
PLEASING PETER TO PLAY PAUL’S – The scene of the Cybermen streaming out of St. Paul’s is a clear hat-tip to the iconic scene from the lost Troughton adventure The Invasion, which featured among other things, the first appearance of UNIT, who will feature heavily in the next episode.
“Shut up – stay Shut Up” – More examples of Clara becoming more like The Doctor – this is is a reflection of how The Doctor asked everyone for a bit of shush in Time Heist.
“All of the stuff that I did wrong” – The Post-Its all over Clara’s bookshelves have references to adventures from this season, with a couple of interesting unseen references – I don’t recall an adventure with a “Miniature Clara,” and there’s only on Jenny I can recall, and if she’s shown up again off camera, a lot of people are going to demand we go back and get a look.
“The car – it just came out of nowhere” – This is a very good description of how Pete Tyler was killed in Father’s Day. After Rose brashly decides to save him, thus bollixing up the time line the car that was to have hit him keeps passing the same point on the road, giving Pete the chance to put thins right by letting happen what has happened already.
“I am owed” – Clara has literally saved The Doctor’s life an incalculable number of times by stepping into his timeline and fixing the havoc wrought by The Great Intelligence. It’s not clear exactly how much time has passed since the accident, but it can’t be more than a couple days – the flowers are still fresh in her kitchen. It’s hard to know how long she’s been planning this little gambit of hers, or how long she’s been letting that phone ring.
“You told me what it would take to destroy a TARDIS key” – Let the mash-ups between this scene and the end of Lord of the Rings commence.
“All seven” – Between the Pertwee and Baker years, there was a stage play called Doctor Who and the Daleks in Seven Keys to Doomsday, for which the number of keys is surely a hat-tip. And in case you missed it, one of the keys was hidden in a copy of The Time Traveler’s Wife.
“If I change the events that brought you you here, you will never COME here and ask me to change those events” – This is a textbook description of the Grandfather Paradox. As Isaac Asimov explained it once on Cosmos, “If I go back and kill my grandfather, I will never be born, which means I will never go back to kill him, which means he’s not dead, which means I CAN go back and kill him”. While every sci-fi fan can think of dozens of ways to get around that little catch-22, it always seems inviolate in the context of a story…until it isn’t, of course.
A big question might be why Clara saw the need to go straight to threats and chicanery to get this sorted. Likely she’s seen The Doctor go on about the laws of time so many times she knew what he’d say, but as we see, she’s clearly and obviously wrong.
“Remember we did this before” – Clara found Danny accidentally in Listen – here they’re doing it again, but on purpose. And once again, they show up at a moment important to Danny’s life, namely the bit at the end. There’s a question of exactly when they’ve arrived, though. Based on what we’ve seen in past episodes, people’s exit interviews, for lack of a better term, seem to occur immediately after passing. This would mean they are in fact a few days in Clara’s past, immediately after the accident. But if there’s the chance that the process of scanning and encoding of the mind onto the Nethersphere takes some time, they may be in her present, or a bit more.
“White Noise off the telly” – in the world of parapsychology, this is known as Electronic voice phenomenon, the idea that the background noise on broadcasts and recording are supernatural in nature. The movement also sparked a horror film starring Michael Keaton. The idea of voices coming out of the TV was also touched on in modern Clara’s first adventure, The Bells of St. John.
“I feel like I’m missing something…obvious” – Well, yes, but it’s hardly the first time. He failed utterly to recall the Madame DePompadour in Deep Breath (although in fairness, he didn’t actually learn the name of the ship) and he completely forgot the existence of the Great Intelligence a year before that. Well, you have a couple thousand years of memories, a few are going to slip through the cracks. That’s surely why he keeps a diary. And BTW, as fun as the moment was then the penny dropped, I can only imagine how great it would have been if we hadn’t all already known the Cybermen were in the episode.
“My Birthday, when is it?” – November 23 is not only Clara Oswald’s Birthday, it’s the birthday of Clara Oswin Oswald from The Snowmen, and presumably that of Oswin Oswald in Asylum of the Daleks. And yes, it’s the date that Doctor Who was first broadcast in 1963.
That’s a Matrix dataslice – a Gallifreyan hard drive” – The Matrix, also referred to as the APC net, was a massive repository of the memories and personalities of past and passed Time Lords. The Doctor entered the Net in The Deadly Assassin, and experienced it as a virtual world. So yes, there was a computer-based virtual world called The Matrix several decades before those two fellows decided to put Keanu Reeves in one.
“Imagine you could upload dying minds into that – edit them, re-arrange them” – Oh, you mean like The Library did for CAL in Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead? A computer that houses the mind of River Song? A story written by Steven Moffat? Odd that there’s a similarity there, eh?
“We can help with all these difficult feelings” – Have you caught the similarity for all the people who’ve appeared in the Nethersphere? They’re all military – The half-faced man was in charge of his ship, Gretchen was a soldier, the policeman had at least regimental police training, and Danny served in the Middle East. Perfect fodder for warriors, once you get rid of the emotions. The goal for the minds in the Nethersphere is to be downloaded into Cybermen. In the past, an emotional inhibitor would prevent the human portions of the system from going mad from the experience. Similarly, the trauma of having the emotions forcibly erased would likely damage the psyche, rendering them unusable. But if you could get the person to delete the emotions willingly, a la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, that would result in a clean slate to build on the trained military base mind. Chilling and efficient.
“I’m Missy…short for Mistress” – As in his appearance in The Sound of Drums, The Master has clearly been setting up this plan for a long time, enough to set up the fake “white noise” discovery, get the multiple 3W institutes built, no to mention harvest the dying minds. Indeed, considering the first ones we saw collected were from the Victorian era and centuries in the future, one wonders if she’s been grabbing minds for centuries, or somehow able to pluck them from across time. And if you want to have one more recurring idea, The master is once again taking the human race, putting them in metal casings, and using them as an army. Last time he was doing it to living humans and calling them the Toclafane, and now it’s with dead ones and making them Cybermen, but largely it’s a very similar plan.
“You know the key strategic weakness of the Human Race…the dead outnumber the living” – So yeah, basically this is a zombie movie with sci-fi trappings. We got a mummy a few weeks back, we’ve had vampires and werewolves, so why not?
BIG BAD WOLF REPORT –
LORDS AND LADIES – People have clamored for a female Doctor for years; surely a female Master is progress? After a few teasing mentions that it was possible for a Time Lord to switch gender during regeneration, this is the first time we’ve seen it on screen.
The last time we saw The Master was at the end of The End of Time, being sent back into the time lock with the rest of Gallifrey and the high council of the Time Lords. Since then we have learned that the entire planet Gallifrey was spun sideways out of the universe entirely, giving the impression that it had been destroyed in the Time War with the Daleks (who of course have not been seen since). The Time Lords were able to slip enough energy to reset The Doctor’s regeneration cycle, so one must presume that there might have been enough space to let one Time Lord pass through as well. One must hope we’ll here more about how he came back, and became a she, in the coming week.
“Clearly you have not received the official 3W greetings package” – Theories about the exact relationship between The Doctor and The Master are manifold. But considering Missy described The Doctor as “my boyfriend” at the beginning of the season, and the fervor of the Louisiana Lip Lock she slaps on him here, one could be forgiven for suggesting that this new gender permutation affords The Master some latitude in her attitude.
“Have you ever killed anybody?” – One of Danny’s students asks him this in the first scene we meet him, and here the question is at the end of the series getting answered. The event is clearly something that affected him seriously – it’s likely the event that made him leave the military.
“Be strong, even if it breaks your heart” – Surely the latest lesson in How To Be The Doctor.
“I love you” – Some are claiming that this is a clue that this isn’t really Danny, or an incomplete simulation of him. I think it’s more obvious than that – Danny is sacrificing himself for Clara. It’s not that he can’t remember the little details about their life, he just can’t believe she’s testing him at this very stressful moment. So when she threatens to end the call if all he can say is “I love you”, he’s pushing her away so she won’t come to this horrific place and risk getting trapped there.
NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – UNIT fights the Cybermen again, and The Doctor has a great fall. Death in Heaven is a week away.
Robot Hood, Robot Hood, riding through the glen, Robot Hood, Robot Hood, and his band of men…
Clara wants to meet someone legendary, The Doctor tells her they’re all made up, so when he actually shows up, The Doctor is convinced he’s a…
ROBOT OF SHERWOOD
By Mark Gatiss
Directed by Paul Murphy
Clara admits she’s always wanted to meet Robin Hood, who The Doctor waves off as merely a legend. But as we’ve learned, one does not simply tell Clara Oswald she can’t have something, so off they go to Sherwood. The Doctor is shocked to discover Robin Hood show up and attempt to appropriate his conveyance. The Doctor is naturally convinced this is all a trick or plot of some type. He is at once right, and wrong. There is a plot, but it’s on the part of the (also real) Sheriff of Nottingham, who has allied himself with a race of robotic spacefarers whose ship is secreted within his castle. The district-wide canvassing for gold is to built circuitry for the alien craft, to allow it to generate enough power to take off, from which the Sheriff will (dare I say it) rule the world.
The episode is simply too charming and funny to call it anything from a delight. The dialogue, especially the pissing contests between The Doctor and Robin are hilarious, and for of his claims that he hates banter, The Doctor is very good at it.
At its core, however, it’s far too similar to the series opener – a spaceship, lost in time, crashing to earth and needing help from the locals to take off again, albeit the stuff it needs to repair itself is a bit different.
THE MONSTER FILES – The Robot Knights are more of a minion than a monster, but they’re far from the first. From The Robots of Death to the Heavenly Host in Voyage of the Damned, they’re powerful and useful.
GUEST STAR REPORT
Tom Riley (Robin Hood) is known for playing another historical figure; Leonardo Da Vinci on the show Da Vinci’s Demons,.and Oh My God he was in the second St Trinian’s movie as well, a film whose venn diagram with Doctor Who is rapidly approaching a single circle.
Ben Miller (Sheriff of Nottingham) looked way too much like The Master for it to have been anything but a massive in-joke by the crew. He was going to be a physicist before he met Alexander Armstrong, with whom he went off to start a very successful career in comedy. He played Johnny English’s assistant Bough in the first film, and appeared
BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS – Trivia and production details
A PICTURE IS WORTH… – That one photograph in the middle of the montage of interpretations of Robin in the alien computer?
Yeah, that was Patrick Troughton. before he was the second Doctor, he was the first person to play Robin Hood on television.
WE’RE GOING TO HAVE TO CUT THIS ONE SHORT – This episode originally featured a scene of a beheading, specifically, that of the Sheriff of Nottingham, who is as a result revealed as a cyborg (and presumably puts the head right back on). Due to recent events featuring actual beheadings of two journalists by terrorists in the Middle East, it was decided such a scene might be traumatic to some, and the scene was edited. However, the episode also featured a robot’s head being severed and falling to the floor, not to mention The Doctor joking about the idea of Robin Hood’s head still laughing after it was removed from his neck, so clearly the desire to avoid triggering was somewhat limited.
“Old fashioned heroes only exist in old fashioned storybooks” – And that right there is the theme of the episode. What happens to Robert of Loxley – to sink into myth and legend – is exactly what The Doctor tried to do to himself in the previous season. He attempted to erase himself from history and all the databases in the universe. He naturally had a harder time of it as while Robin Hood only operated for a few years, tops, in one area of England, The Doctor has been poking it in and shaking it all about all over the universe throughout time.
“What about Mars? The Ice warrior Hives!” – Clara met the Ice Warriors last season in Cold War, and The Doctor of course met them a few times before.
“…or we might be inside a Miniscope!” – The Miniscope is a device designed to allow appreciative audiences to observe the activities of captive (tho unaware of same) beings in a miniaturized and sealed natural environment. The Doctor and Jo Grant were briefly trapped in one in the adventure Carnival of Monsters.
“And this is my spoon” – The Seventh Doctor played the spoons, though he didn’t use them in the more defensive manner he did here. This scene is much more a Robin Hood reference than anything else – it’s a tip of the hat to the iconic quarterstaff(*) battle between Robin Hood and Little John, as portrayed in too many iterations of the tale to count.
“I’ve had some experience –Richard the Lionheart” – Indeed he has – back in the first Doctor’s adventure The Crusade. The story was preceded by The Web Planet, the last episode of which had been recovered from a Middle Eastern broadcaster. As a result, it was edited to not include the “next episode” card for The Crusade, as for obvious reasons, that episode was not sold to the Middle East.
“Hai!” – Another callback to the Pertwee era, The Doctor strikes Robin with a Venusian Akido blow.
“Who will rid me of this turbulent Doctor?” – Henry II, King of England once famously asked “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” in reference to Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury.
BIG BAD WOLF REPORT – Further increasing the similarities to this episode and Deep Breath, this alien ship is also heading for “The Promised Land”, just as the main Clockwork Droid said he was aiming to reach in the earlier episode. While we don’t see Missy back, The Doctor did notice the similarity. What’s interesting is that The Doctor assumed the Droid was speaking metaphorically, based on the humanity he’d picked up over the years, but this ship had a course set for it, as if it were a physical location.
NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – …and gentle be present…to all you’ve ever close kept in your loving heart. Listen, coming up this Saturday.
* – “Actually, it’s a buck-and-a-quarter quarterstaff, but I’m not teillin’ HIM that…”