Mummy on the Orient Express

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    Brewski @brewski

    @bluesqueakpip It’s often this way in a new Doctor’s first series. The voice the writers will be ‘hearing’ in their heads as they write the Doctor will be the voice of Matt Smith’s Doctor. It won’t be Peter Capaldi’s voice yet – when they wrote the scripts, they hadn’t seen his Doctor.

    You’e right, of course. I remember how Pertwee-like Baker’s lines sounded at first…


    WhoGirl @whogirl

    Bit late reading the comments, internet probs!

    Very much enjoyed this episode, had high hopes which were fulfilled. It was a little reminiscent of Tennant’s ‘Unicorn and the Wasp’ and ‘Voyage of the Damned’.

    Liked Frank Skinner’s cameo as Perkins. Loved the jelly baby case, hoping these will be in shops before Xmas 😀 And of course, the classic line we’d been saying in our house before the episode was on: “Are you my mummy?”

    Can’t believe there’s only four eps of this series left! Reckon we’ll be seeing Missy sometime soon…

    soundworld @soundworld

    Regarding the question of Clara lying (or not) to Danny and the Dr, there’s this wee snippet in the conversation between Clara and Maisie when they are trapped in the storage carriage – Maisie says:

    “Life would be so much simpler if you lied to the right people, people you were supposed to like.  But then I guess there would be no fairy tales”

    Maybe that helped Clara in her decisions…

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    @jimthefish I really love Capaldi’s Doctor. He’s so accomplished an actor that the smallest of tics or gestures conveys so much.

    If I had to rank the Nu Who Doctors in order of their places of affection in my heart, I’d have to say Smithy and Capaldi and Ecclestone all come in ahead of Tennant for me.  It’s a shame but I think Tennant got lost in a few catch moves (the running, the “brilliant”, the grin, the “allons y”) in the end.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @juniperfish — agree totally. He hit the ball out the park almost from the off. To be fair, so did Smithy but I think Capaldi has the edge because he’s playing a much more tricky Doc. I’ve been blown away by him. Agree re. Tennant also. A strong start but he did seem to run out of steam by the end of his run….

    wordmuse @wordmuse

    @mtgradwell – I hope you are right. Both my wife and I had he same spontaneous reaction: “Really? Are we really going to stay in “Three’s Company” territory?

    I would love nothing more than to be wrong.

    On another note: Doctor Who is not hard scifi. The facts of the real world are no more than props and devices.  For example, in the real world, the moon actually masses in at something over 50 TRILLION tons, meaning that a space critter coming in at a few billion isn’t going to change gravity a wit’s worth of notice. But that’s OK with me. This isn’t 2001 A Space Odyssey where Clarke and Kubrick were relying on extrapolating from fact to create a story. It’s meant to be a romp; at least that’s how I’ve always taken it.

    That said, internal consistency is as necessary as ever for there to be good storytelling across shows. And so far, there is that.

    Final point: I’m probably a bit dense, but my wife and I didn’t like Season 6 when we first saw it. But then we binge watched it when it came on Netflix and everything made a whole lot more sense and the story line of Season 6 turned out to be good. Maybe it will be the same for Season 8.  I can only hope.

    The Beast @glenisterm

    With regard to why the mummy would go after the weakest first, as a weapon it would be less likely to draw the attention of those that could potentially stop it, since the weakest dying or ‘hallucinating’ before they died would not be that suspicious.

    Of course we have to wonder who was behind Gus, and why they would want that kind of weapon?  Does it relate to the other strange background characters who seem to be collecting things, eg. android from the first episode, or is it unrelated?  And again how would they get the doctor’s phone number?

    Probably the best episode of this season, particularly since the trailer made me expect a disappointing one.

    lisa @lisa

    @thebeast- I saw a comment elsewhere that someone thought Gus sounded a lot like Seb??

    Still cant get the notion out of my head that the Engineer is a bit like Moriarity in this and Capdoc was a bit like Sherlock ? I have seen discussions about crossover between the 2 series here before – anyway I do get a vibe that there was something a bit dark about Frank Skinner in how he played the part –
    But as Tom Baker Doc was fond of saying ”who knows”

    ScaryB @scaryb

    Thanks @thommck for the link to the props photos. Beautiful attention to detail as ever. Did you notice that the guns have “GUS” stamped on them? Couldn’t make out if  it’s on any of the other tech.

    @juniperfish @jimthefish

    Sorry fishy friends but I have to disagree. Tennant on his day was magnificent! <stamps foot> Then again, so was Smithy, so I’d put them equal (esp for their double act in the 50th), just under Capaldi. Yikes! It’s difficult – there’s also Hurt and McGann, both brilliant in a very short amount of screen time. But it really is Capaldi’s role, and I don’t think he’s finished yet. There again he’s only been practising for it for about 50 years!

    ScaryB @scaryb

    Not that you’ll be able to avoid it, but there’s a f*ckin great spoilery photo on the cover of the next issue of DW Magazine (damn my twitter feed).  Well, not that spoilery, it’s elements that have all been out there (even for spoilerphobes like me) and we suspected would be in the finale in any case.

    Thinking more about Missy’s world – and I’m thinking phaseshifting (hehe) could come into it – but wondering where it actually is, assuming it’s not a virtual world. What if it’s on Gallifrey – it’s the Doctor’s home planet’s dark underside! We’ve only ever seen 1 bit of it. So he finds Gallifrey again but (some of) the Time Lords have gone bitter and twisted – is that so hard to believe?! – and turned to the dark side to try to release themselves, as they’ve got fed up waiting for the Doctor to find them. Ungrateful sod, you give him a whole new cycle of regenerations and he just goes off gallivanting!

    Time for bed…


    Anonymous @

    Rule of Cool should have been the title for this episode. I can’t think of anything better than invisible monsters, space trains, and skimpy dresses! 😀

    MotOE has me convinced that the monsters are real in Listen. This episode had another invisible monster that could only be seen by people in a specific emotional/psychological/physical condition, which is just like I believe happened with the monsters in Listen (fear). In both episodes the monsters were out of phase (different speed of light? Or another dimension), and the hologram passengers were like the invisible writing above the door (only visible in the right kind of light).

     On another post, I questioned whether Clara ‘knew how? or could she?’ stop being the Caretaker, which is similar to an addiction. But I don’t really like that addiction theory anymore, even though all of the pieces fit for the addiction theory.

    Instead I like the Clara TL training theory, maybe even more now. Mainly because Clara’s lesson in this episode might have been learning to lie like the Doctor does.

     Last week Clara had to choose between two bad things. This week Clara made an impossible choice between two Good Things (Danny and Doctor). So imo, when she decided to stay that proved Clara can make impossible choices, just like the one in Kill the Moon.  

     And at the same time, Clara demonstrated that she learned this week’s lesson on lying too, by lying to Danny and the Doctor. I think that is exactly what the Doctor would have done in the same situation. Instead of explaining her decision or asking permission, she made up her mind and did it just like the Doctor taught her. 🙂

    Because of the Roman references (@Thommck Romans make me think of a great army like in The Pandorica Opens), so I think Missy is building an army with the people she is collecting. @bluesqueakpip said that the Doctor might be looking for a way to stop the fighting in the Time War. That part is probably right, but I don’t think he is trying to figure out how to get one side to surrender.

    Instead I believe Missy’s army will be like a peace keeping force that will be invincible, invisible and follow the Daleks and TLs around wherever they go (like the mummy). And like the Teller and the Mummy, Missy’s army will be able to ready emotions so if the TLs and Daleks even think about fighting, then Missy’s army will attack them. So the Time War will be ended because the TLs and Daleks will have to stop fighting or be destroyed by Missy’s army.

    And I think Perkins might have been fixing the Tardis at the end, so that it could phase shift into the monster dimension, so Doctor/Clara might be in that dimension now.

    Does anyone else think there’s a chance? 

    The Dinosaur’s name is Gus and she wants us to respect her life choices. 😆

    lisa @lisa

    @ Barnable –re: the engineer tinkering around inside the Tardis’ pipes I totally agree! The Doctor was outside on the beach with Clara leaving Perkins alone in there? I smell something nasty about that too – so maybe that’s why Perkins chose not to travel with him -because of his tinkering? Maybe that’s why I felt the Doctor gave him a suspicious-y look when he said no to traveling. Was the Doctor wondering about Perkins messing around down there? I still wonder why he was on on that space train ?
    another mysterious character to my mind

    Pufferfish @pufferfish

    Hi all, I think I might’ve cracked it.

    Everyone suggesting Perkins is not what he seems and has tinkered with the Tardis is on to something. This episode and the next are by the same writer, so maybe there’s some continuity between potential tinkering and its effects on the Tardis in the next episode? Perkins could even be GUS (or some kind of lifelike interface that doesn’t get hologram-deleted at the lab reveal), placing the equipment to monitor the TARDIS to reverse-engineer its technology – its stated goal WRT the mummy’s technology would also apply to the TARDIS. GUS isn’t an evil computer per se, it’s just an operating system with a goal. Notice the Doctor doesn’t say goodbye to Perkins – perhaps it’s because he knows an aspect of GUS has probably remained on board?

    I’m pretty sure the Doctor is reluctant to be touched and/or having conversations with his former selves because the Matrix is out of whack. We know Gallifrey went into a pocket universe, but that doesn’t mean its data storage device did the same. So it stands to reason that with only one Timelord running around the universe, the Matrix would probably bear down quite heavily on that individual. I think Missy is to the Matrix as Perkins is to GUS, and she’s picking off redshirts to get enough energy to phase-shift into the Doctor’s dimension. He isn’t her ‘boyfriend’ so much as her alter ego, or point of exit, or the victim of ‘stress tests’. *Gallifrey* sent him a new regeneration cycle, from a pocket universe absent of the Matrix.

    What could possibly go wrong?


    @lisa @Handles

    I smell something nasty about that too – so maybe that’s why Perkins chose not to travel with him -because of his tinkering?

    I don’t think that was the vibe at all. I think he had earned the Doctor’s trust so the Doc decided to see if the Tardis could seduce an engineer/ boffin type for him to kick around with for a while. However, Perkin’s casual line about worn components could easily prove significant (Whedon-esque even).

    In BG Who there was an English Civil War set ep in which someone who helped was invited along, but declined because he fancy to the Doctor’s pace of life would be a but too fast for him (the Doctor then casually chucked a circuit board of some sort into the rubble prompting Sarah Jane to suggest that it would confuse the archeologists).

    MTGradwell @mtgradwell


    On another note: Doctor Who is not hard scifi. The facts of the real world are no more than props and devices. For example, in the real world, the moon actually masses in at something over 50 TRILLION tons, meaning that a space critter coming in at a few billion isn’t going to change gravity a wit’s worth of notice. But that’s OK with me.

    It would be OK with me too. a space critter weighing billions of tons would be quite an extrapolation from what we know, but that’s what good SF is about. But that NOT how the moon-dragon was presented. Unless I’m seriously misunderstanding, it was presented as occupying most of the interior of the moon. Basically it WAS the moon, apart from a thin outer shell. So it weighed something like 50 TRILLION tons. Except, at the time of the episode the moon’s gravity had become similar to earth’s meaning that its mass had increased approximately six-fold. To something like 300 TRILLION tons. Without any apparent gain in size, unless the moon’s surface is made of something very stretchy.

    In our universe this would mean that the Dragon was made of something six times as dense as the moon it hatched out of. The moon acquired this extra weight and density in a very short space of time, cosmically speaking, but that was nothing compared to the shortness of the time it took for the dragon to lay a new moon-sized egg, immediately after hatching. And then it very conveniently disappears, from the sky and from the entire Doctor Who universe, leaving everything exactly the same as if it had never been there at all. That is why the Doctor didn’t know the outcome in advance – whether the dragon was destroyed or not would make absolutely no difference to any of his past or future adventures, or to anything else for that matter, except for the presence or absence of a feeling of guilt in those tasked with making a decision about it. The destruction of the moon was so inconsequential that it never made it into any of the history books, and nobody ever felt inclined to mention it afterwards.

    Now you can try to explain this in terms of the physics of the Doctor Who universe – the embryo dragon phase-shifted into the moon from elsewhere, just like the mummy this week phased in and out of visibility and tangibility, only on a slightly larger scale. But even if you can accept the possibility of a 300 TRILLION ton creature phasing in and out, think of the enormity of the COINCIDENCE, of the egg that it lays being practically indistinguishable from the one it just hatched out of. Consider the COINCIDENCE of such a unique creature, the only one of its kind (or so we’re told), hatching out of OUR moon when there are a trillion others it might have hatched out of. And how can anyone know that it is unique? Shouldn’t the people of Earth be concerned about the possibility of an Earth-dragon emerging from their Earth-egg? Or the Solar dragon emerging from its Sun-egg? But I may be pre-empting the plots of future episodes there.

    It was the improbability of the coincidences that floored me just as much as the improbable science, but it didn’t help that the improbable science came thick and fast throughout that episode, without even the slightest let-up. You’d think there’d have been at least some scrap of known real science to mollify the technophiles, but no; though I think they did try with the yo-yo bit, they didn’t quite succeed even with that.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @mtgradwell – I think you should just give up on this one, mate.

    I am, for example, completely certain that there were no Daleks in World War Two. Rose hanging off a barrage balloon is just about possible, but Daleks in the War Rooms – and Spitfires able to cope with vacuum? Nope.

    Similarly, Reg in The Doctor, Widow, Wardrobe is flying a model of Lancaster bomber which hadn’t yet been built.

    If you’ve done six impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

    Just tell yourself that in between rescuing the three women and dropping Courtney off at Double Geography, the TARDIS crew took in breakfast at Milliways. 😀

    MTGradwell @mtgradwell


    I am, for example, completely certain that there were no Daleks in World War Two. Rose hanging off a barrage balloon is just about possible, but Daleks in the War Rooms – and Spitfires able to cope with vacuum? Nope.
    Similarly, Reg in The Doctor, Widow, Wardrobe is flying a model of Lancaster bomber which hadn’t yet been built.

    And Danny doesn’t watch Doctor Who every week to see what his girlfriend is getting up to, and Clara doesn’t scour the internet for spoilers that might tell her what monsters she’ll be facing next week and how she might deal with them. And we never had a Prime Minister called Harriet Jones.

    I know the universe of Doctor Who is not our universe, but once upon a time it did have rules of its own that it usually (but not always) adhered to. And the rules included a physics that was similar to the physics we knew, except when highly advanced aliens made use of principles we haven’t discovered yet. The history was the same as our history, because the Time Lords and the Doctor in particular went to great lengths to keep it on track. The show was meant to be educational, so whenever possible it dealt with real history and real science, rather than handwavey nonsense. There was technobabble (‘reverse the polarity of the neutron flow’) but it was so rare that whenever it did occur it made its way into the show’s lore, like jelly babies, and it didn’t get in the way of the real science. There weren’t 100 instances of technobabble per episode. It wasn’t Star Trek.

    If we don’t remember any of the other monsters that regularly plagued London back in the Sixties until the Doctor dispatched them, that is probably because these things happened in transient timelines. It is established canon that time travellers CAN meddle with history, causing previously established events to no longer have occurred. Because this is such a dangerous thing – one wrong step, and humanity isn’t just gone, it never even existed – the Time Lords took a VERY hands-off approach, only interfering when they absolutely had to, and then only in the smallest way possible. And when some larger intervention was required, rather than get their own hands dirty they would rely on a renegade such as the Doctor to put things right.

    Now I realise that all this has gone by the board recently. There aren’t any Time Lords, or rather they are not in a position to intervene, not even slightly. The Doctor has carte blanche to do what he wants, apparently without the slightest need to clean up after himself. But I can’t help thinking that it was better the old way. New Who is supposed to be a continuation of Old Who, not a complete reboot with completely different rules and backstory. Some stories still pay lip service to that notion, and I tend to prefer them to the ones which don’t.

    I also realise that there was plenty of pure fantasy in Old Who. I enjoyed episodes like those with the Celestial Toymaker, who could apparently remake reality on a whim. But I enjoyed those because we weren’t given pseudosciency “explanations”, so we could make up our own minds. Was the toymaker a being with godlike powers, like Star Trek’s Q? Or was the “reality” he was manipulating something akin to Star Trek’s holodeck? Or was it something else entirely? You decide. In any case this all took place on the far fringes of the universe, or even in a different universe entirely, so it didn’t have to shake our belief in real physics in the here and now. Now I know some argue that the current arc is taking place in a universe where real physics just doesn’t apply at all, ever, like a giant version of the Celestial Toymaker’s world, but that’s not how it’s being presented. We’re still getting lip service being paid to real science, in the form of the Doctor using a yoyo to test gravity, or him referring to spider-like creatures on the moon as “bacteria”, as if it’s obvious that such a vast creature would carry vaster-than-usual bacteria. But a yoyo should still work in 1/6g, and the “bacteria” don’t look like bacteria, they look like spiders. And they’re having no trouble doing spidery things in a hard vacuum. Etc. Etc. Etc. There’s still science in Who, it’s just that occasionally it is extremely bad science, where every bit of it absolutely contradicts everything we have ever known or are ever likely to know.

    thommck @thommck

    I was just watching the Doctor Who Extra for this episode and spotted one of the background posters on the train

    Some interesting place names to add to the evergrowing list in Doctor Who!

    I can’t find any of them relating to something we know about already and they are probably just the whim of a set designer but that shouldn’t stop us making something fit!

    • Fortress of Riskar
    • The (Ti?)tans of Mereosh
    • The Walking Woods: One potential link to Danny (see image at the bottom)
    • The Diamond Falls: could possibly relate to how diamonds fell from glaciers in the “Midnight” episode
    • Catacombs of the Whispering Dead: A link to Missy or perhaps the Whisper Men on Trenzalore?
    • The Hanging Lands ???am:
    • ?Hol?? ??low: OK I’m Clutching at straws here!

    Rupert and the Walking Woods

    Whisht @whisht

    We’ll I loved that one!
    Saw it last night (away at weekend) and loved the tone, actors, monster – the whole thing.

    And Capaldi even more solid in the role.

    Don’t have much if anything to add.

    Will watch again tonight and think of some tunes!

    wordmuse @wordmuse

    @mtgradwell – I get what you’re saying (I think), and I mainly agree with you. But when I say its not hard scifi, that means that the authors and actors are asking me to suspend disbelief.  It’s part of the bargain I make with them as I watch.

    That said, the minute they start relating the what’s going on in the story to our real world, where one can look up and verify facts, they ought to at least make some small effort.  How hard would it be to have “real world fact checking” as a step in the creation of the script?  Never having produced a TV show, I don’t know.  But it took me just a few seconds to google “mass of the moon.”  And while there were a variety of answers, all of them came in at over 50 trillion tons (which is why I used that number). But even at that low end, 50 trillion tons swamps a few billion, and thus I could make my case.

    If I could do it in a few seconds, surely someone involved in the production could have done something similar.

    Brewski @brewski


    I read an interview with the author who said his initial draft was far more ambitious and included stops at the seven wonders of the universe.  Had to trim it down to keep it at 45 minutes.

    Pity. Those would been fun stops!

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @wordmuse and @mtgradwell

    If I could do it in a few seconds, surely someone involved in the production could have done something similar.

    Exactly. They could have found out in fifteen seconds. And we know that they do find these things out; Moffat’s on record as muttering bitterly that he checked tape machines were around at the date of The Empty Child – but hadn’t noticed that the type used were only around in Germany.

    Similarly, they didn’t want the War Rooms exactly right, because they didn’t want the kids thinking this was real history. The Lancaster, I would reckon, is the ‘Georgian Billiard Table problem’. That is, they know the prop they’re using isn’t historically accurate, but the real thing (a genuine Georgian Billiard Table) is worth millions and nobody’s going to let an actor anywhere near it.

    “The Moon is a giant egg with a Moon Dragon inside” is such an astonishing ‘HUH?’ that I would honestly prefer it if you stopped banging on about the lack of science knowledge involved until the end of Series 8 – when we might find out if this is some theme running through the series. And if they were ignoring the science (just as they ignored the history in Robots of Sherwood) for a very specific and deliberate reason.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @wordmuse@bluesqueakpip is probably really the one to ask but I think you’re overestimating a) the time factor and b) the staffing levels involved in putting an episode of New Who together. But Moffatt and Harkness are far from idiots and I’d imagine that they probably just decided that it didn’t really matter that much to the narrative core of the story. And they’d be right too.

    thommck @thommck

    Thanks for the info @brewski.

    I only just realised that someone would have got a phone call at the end of the episode saying “I’m sorry to inform you sir/madam but it seems a passenger has blown up the Orient Express”

    I hope they had a good insurance policy!

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @mtgradwell – sorry, that probably came out as a bit stronger than I intended. What I meant to say was that you’ve certainly convinced me that the science is rubbish.

    I just think there’s probably a reason that the science and history have all had a theme of ‘what you think you know is wrong; it’s what the legends say that’s real’.

    wordmuse @wordmuse

    Well – let me respond with a bit of perspective. This doesn’t even rate as a 1st world problem. 🙂  So we’re just having some fun here, yes? I mean – it *is* fiction.

    So it is within this tempest-in-a-teapot context that we are arguing. We’re certainly NOT discussing what should be done about Ebola as a public health policy. It’s just Doctor Who fans wanting to have a show that we all clearly love staying at the top of its game.

    I would never call anyone associated with Doctor Who idiots. I might say that they are tired, or that they are resting on some well-earned laurels. And if so, OK. But that doesn’t mean that the shows should be immune from criticism.

    Consider another of my favorite shows – the various Stargate franchises. How hard would it have been for them to have a “plupfrisidopalip” that accounted for everyone in every galaxy speaking the King’s English? But no – they had no Universal Translator; no babblefish.  How hard would it have been for them (and other scifi shows like it) to realize that if someone was “out of phase” so he walked (rather than floated) through walls, that logically, he should fall through floors and then the ground.

    So given this kind of stuff, we (OK, I) rely on the quality of the story and the acting, production values, music, etc. to overcome such glaring gaps. If these are also missing, then I start getting (again 1st world problem) testy. The relationships of Danny, Clara and the Doctor are soap-opera-ish … Three’s Company-ish. They distract in the story line and that opens the stories up for critiques that go into thing like “the science,” etc.

    But at the end of all this discussion, I look forward every Saturday to the next installment, and I suspect I always will.

    soundworld @soundworld

    I’ve enjoyed the discussion on drama, and now on science in the Whoniverse.  I grew up reading the Scandiwegian myths, then Celtic and Greek stories, then Tolkien + Douglas Adams, with some Vedic stories thrown into the mix too.

    For me, Who works far better at a mythical level than a scientific-rational one (and I’m an engineer, but also a musician and artist).  After all, its starts with a magician in a box, where anything may be possible.  “In an infinite Universe, anything, even The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is possible”.

    The importance for me is in how the story and the characters relate to us.  What would we do in this situation?  I don’t even think it has to be always internally self-consistent, much as our ordering minds would like it to be, as there can always be explanations of alternate realities / virtual worlds.  Curve-balls like the dragon hatching from its egg are just breathtaking moments of storytelling that break all the conventions of what we thought we knew – and I believe this is a very good exercise for our logical minds to experience!  (Yes, the rational side of me is also wondering how on Earth*  the Dragon can exist in space, but that also applied to the space-whale.  Its just a wonderful mind-boggling fantasy concept).

    Over the last few series (and I’ve only watched since Tennant) I’ve been amazed at how the metaphorical/mythical elements of Who have reflected deep issues in my own life.  This is why I watch.  Is this close to the original Greek purpose of drama?  (Or was it purely entertainment, too?)

    After all, we had the entire Whoniverse rebooted from Amy’s last breaths.  Who knows how that affects reality?  That concept really did remind me of the Total Perspective Vortex in HHGttG. It goes something like: Since everything is related to everything else, in principal, the entire history of Creation can be extrapolated from say, one small piece of fairy cake.

    I believe there are mathematicians who have shown that we cannot tell whether we are ‘real’ or are in fact inside a virtual reality.  From the inside, you cannot tell.  So, reality could all be in our minds anyway.  There’s other evidence to suggest we do make it up as we go along (we agree on the commonly-held illusion of what is reality, what is or is not possible given the rules we have all agreed on subconciously).  If the rules evolve or change, what is possible changes.  I have personally witnessed things which are (so far) outside of the normal rules of everyday reality.  They’re in my version of reality (I’m not bringing notions of sanity into this!).  Nothing of the order of moon-dragons though, but enough to show me that ‘reality’ can be flexible on occasion…

    Thats probably enough wandering for now, the audience is probably asleep.  Anyway, it was a cracking episode.


    *alternate Earths may also be available

    Oblique @oblique

    ‘And then there were none’

    Oblique x

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @wordmuse — Oh, definitely debate away. That’s what we’re here for. And I don’t think anyone on here would say that the show should be immune from criticism. I’d just argue that SM made it quite clear from the off that he was taking the show into a more mythic, fairytale realm, and the moon egg is just an extreme example of it. Like Slartibartfast, I’m a big fan of science but I honestly can’t really get overly worked up over this.

    In fact, I’d probably say ‘what @soundworld says’ on this. I think his last post was a nicely articulated take on this.

    But RE. the soap opera thing, I honestly don’t see that this is any more pronounced now than it was with the Doctor and Rose or the Doctor and Amy/Rory. Relationships have been the core of the show since the reboot and we’ve had nearly 10 years to get used to it now.  And that’s kind of the way it has to be now. TV drama is living well and truly in the post-Buffy age now and character relationships are central to the show and I’d argue the key ingredient in its success. (Especially in a show whose relationship to hard science fiction a la Star Trek et al is questionable at best.) Going back to the ‘megalomaniac in a rubber suit of the week’ format was just not an option. Indeed, I think the BG show was beginning to realise this, as we’ll perhaps see when we take a look at Curse of Fenric.

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    I liked your post @soundworld “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

    I think Nu Who is more “mythic” in general than Old Who – the latter did often hold up science as a great truth. These days the Doctor rarely describes himself as a scientist (I did love his line about being a doctor of intestinal parasites) and Moffat is given to using the concept of the “soul” on several occasions.

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    Oh – jinx @jimthefish – we said virtually the same thing in simultaneous posts – woooooo – through the fish pond looking glass 🙂

    geoffers @geoffers

    just wondering…

    prof moorehouse’s lines:  “the number of evil, twice over. they that bear the foretold stare have 66 seconds to live.”

    so the number of evil is 33? any thoughts or connections to make of that?

    JimboMcMaster @jimbomcmaster



    Who benefits?

    Who benefits from teaching kids a moral viewpoint that… [etc]


    Why? Firstly, because I think it would make good drama. I think a television show should try to explore as many facets of its premise as possible. I’m not saying I want this thing to happen all the time – just one episode would do (and i feel we’ve sort of had that now, at least to some extent). I think it would make good drama because seeing a character taking an action that is consistent with one important aspect of their character, but that also goes against many other aspects of their character, can make for powerful drama. Think of the end of ‘Of Mice and Men’.

    Who benefits? I think the audience in general would appreciate the drama of it, but as you mention kids in particular: I think the lesson kids would learn, if this was handled well, would be that you can’t judge a person or what they do simply on the direct results of their actions – the indirect results should be considered too: maybe they were intentional. It also conveys that sometimes we have to be brave and do things, or condone things, we really don’t want to (I think Mummy on the Orient Express covers this well). Obviously, it has to be handled carefully for the show’s family audience. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be about choosing a certain number of lives over another number, or about death at all –  it could be something much more mundane than that.

    Regarding ‘the greater good’ – I agree this idea is often misused, and perhaps has negative connotations, but in a scenario where there are no good choices (which is the sort of scenario I am referring to), you have to take the option that you think will achieve the least terrible result. Admittedly, that is something which different people would have different ideas about, but in the sort of situation I’m proposing it would be the Doctor deciding – (and even though he’s not perfect) who better to let choose?

    lisa @lisa

    @ geoffers –33 I a very powerful illuminati number –
    33 levels in the mason order- 33rd parallel – lots of mystical stuff – google the meaning of the
    number 33 – all sorts of goodies

    wordmuse @wordmuse

    @jimthefish – I agree with the whole mythos thing relative to DW. So let’s zoom in on the relationships between Rose and Micky, Amy and Rory, and now Clara and Danny.

    Rose/Micky – Rose wanted to have a romp; Micky went from being that romp to being a wet sponge. Then he grew up and Rose’s relationship with him shifted through these various developments. Her central relationship with him was friendship and whatever conflicts they had were not rooted in deception and lies.

    Amy/Rory – Amy wasn’t really sure what she wanted when she first met Matt Smith’s Doctor. She had given him up as a chidhood fanasy only to find that he was real after all. Not only real, but “magical,” or at least wonderful, in a scifi timey-whimey way. So she was conflicted. And Rory experienced he brunt of this inner turmoil as she worked it out, which she finally did in the episdoe, Amy’s Choice.  Then it was just a matter of Rory coming to believe it to be really true.  Again, the central theme between them love and respect without a dominating antithesis of deception and lies.

    Clara/Danny – Since the story is not yet played out, I can’t be entirely fair in my characterization of this relationship and have only a few episodes to go on. But so far the main theme between them seems to be that they like each other, though how much I can’t really say. Clara says she loves Danny, but she doesn’t really act as if she does. Danny does seem to be there for her, but again, I don’t have enough information to say, “Yep – this is the real deal between them.” And that’s OK. It was the same with Rose and Micky and with Amy and Rory until the stories settled things out. But unlike Rose and Amy, Clara lies through her teeth, and I need to watch Orient Express again to see whether I can agree with those here who say that she didn’t lie at the end (I would so like that to be true!).

    If she is lying, this is not worthy of the Clara we came to know in the Matt Smith episodes. And granting that in real life, people do change; people who for most of their lives didn’t lie suddenly start lying, or the reverse – this is fiction and the authors and producers have the ability to design a character to be heroic or at least a cut above the everyperson – i.e., the everyperson we might aspire to be in our better moments.

    And for a little wrinkle: One of the things Matt Smith’s Doctor and River Song said often enough was that the first rule of traveling with The Doctor is that he always lies.  Maybe so; but he lies in order to truly make things better. Not in order to satisfy insular singular self-interest. His lies were always in the service of solving the problems he confronted – generally getting people to believe in themselves more than they would if he told the unvarnished truth of things.  I’d have no problem with Clara’s lies if she had a similar motive. But so far as I can tell, she doesn’t. And that’s what makes it, for me, soap-operaish.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @wordmuse — nice summation of the companion dynamics, although I’d argue that it’s not completely accurate. I’d argue that all the central characters — Rose, Amy, River and even the Doctor have been guilty of what you call “insular singular self-interest”. But that’s OK. That’s the very nature of the interesting character stuff. When you get down to it, it’s what makes for all the most interesting, relatable character motivation rather than all the lofty heroics in the world/universe. Because that is the realm that most of us generally operate upon.

    With regards to Clara, I think she is lying and for the reasons discussed above. She’s in the grip of an addiction and she’s lying to her loved ones and herself about it. (As well as now playing both the Doctor and Danny off against each other and blaming each other for her inability to make her own decisions). Is that noble or heroic? Certainly not but it is understandable and human and I don’t think contradicts anything about the Clara we’ve known until now — except in the sense that she actually does have an interior life now, something that the Claricles of the Smith era didn’t really have, being more of a big plot device than anything else.

    But I wouldn’t say that this story arc is any more soap opera-ish or pronounced than Rose and Micky’s troubled relationship, or Martha’s unrequited love, or Amy’s pregnancy and the strain it puts on their marriage. (I also don’t really subscribe to the view of ‘soap opera’ being somehow pejorative or a lesser form of drama btw. When it’s done right, it can be among the best things on TV.)

    I also don’t see that there can’t be a place for such things in Who, or science fiction in general. Indeed, a good example is the recent-ish reboot of Battlestar Galactica. It’s when it was essentially a character-driven drama in its early seasons that it was at its most compelling. It was only when it became more obsessed with Big Ideas and High Spiritual Concepts that it became rather risible and frankly quite dull.

    Spider @spider

    ok, at the risk of being very, very pedantic. @soundworld  ‘Gallifreyans Using Stealth’ was me  first XD


    ScaryB @scaryb


    Re the Doctor having to choose between 2 bad options, and having to choose for the “greater good” –

    He’s already done that, at the start of AG Who, when it was established that he had pressed the button to destroy Gallifrey. The choice was to kill everyone, including all the children, on Gallifrey by pressing the button or let them suffer in the continuing Time War.

    He resolved it in Day of the Doctor by finding a third option, at Clara’s insistence. For the Doctor “the lesser of 2 evils” isn’t enough. There HAS to be a better way. He suffered for nearly 10 years (our time) because of making himself choose a bad option.

    ScaryB @scaryb


    Gallifreyans Using Stealth – love it! (Especially as it circumstantially supports my theory that Missy’s world is on Gallifrey (on the opposite side to the bit we usually see).

    @wordmuse @jimthefish

    I like the companions having back stories and non Doctor lives, so long as it doesn’t feel tacked on (which is possibly the bit we may disagree on re Clara!). I don’t see any need for any of the characters, inc the Doctor, to be role models for anyone. They’re fictional characters (*gasp! heresy!!*) – I’m interested in them having an inner life, but they don’t have to be right all the time.

    Clara’s got herself a bit stuck with her lies/omissions. It was difficult for her to tell the Dr why they went to Danny’s childhood in Listen, (new relationship, still unsure, the shock of finding out where they were etc…) but having started on that course she then had to repeat the omission with Orson, and then with the Doctor himself. I still think that’s going to have consequences for her.  For now she thinks she can have it all – travel with the Doctor for what – a night, a week, a month…? And still get back for teatime. who’ll know? Ahem! This is the control freak, remember (she’s even described herself as “the boss”).

    But who wouldn’t have problems giving up travelling in the TARDIS and taking the slow road?!

    janetteB @janetteb

    @scaryb. You said just what I was about  to. I am getting really tired of the misuse of the term “soap opera” to apply to any form of human centric drama. Adding a little human complexity to the script does not turn a story into a soap opera and as @jimthefish pointed out, there can be good soap opera. It is not a term of abuse just a form of drama series. I would classify Star Trek for instance as soap as it was ongoing tv series whose main aim was to keep bums on sofas for an hour and inject as much advertising as possible. There was very little depth or consistency of character. (Ok now I am dodging the rotten tomatoes being hurled at me for attacking a fan fave’)

    Character development is one essential ingredient that breaks the common “soap opera” mould and Dr Who ticks that box. @wordmuse I agree with much of your post but I don’t see how Clara lying turns the script to soap opera. Yes she did lie at the end. She has been lying to both Danny and the Doctor all series and I have found that instances cringeworthy. In Listen I was saying aloud, “no Clara don’t say it.” I felt like shaking her because she is digging her own hole. People do lie, even honest people can fall into the trap that Clara is falling into and it is not a good or healthy place to be.

    I think the trajectory Clara is on is definitely downward. She is heading for trouble and I really looking forward to seeing where things will lead because gone are the days when the companion was there simply to ask questions and get into trouble and on occasion rescue the Doctor then be hastily written out when the actor quit. That was actually far more “soap opera.” We are now seeing how travelling with the Doctor might impact upon an “ordinary” human life and I think it is a very interesting concept indeed to explore.



    wordmuse @wordmuse

    Hi again,

    So I don’t have any real disagreements with anything said here about character development in general. But there are still two things that seem discussion-worthy to me.

    #1 – The portrayal of Clara’s relationships makes me cringe. She lies when there is no apparent need to do so. I am hoping that this is intentional and part of the story arc, and that there will be a good resolution to it. If so, then I will admit to being wrong and acknowledge the creators and the writers to be – mmm – stellar in their craft.  I would welcome that much more than me being correct.

    #2 – I have always considered Doctor Who to be in the same league as Superman, Batman, Bat Masterson, etc. In other words – heroic. We (OK – I) use the word “hero” to indicate someone worthy of being considered a role model. In the original incarnation of Doctor Who, the companions were less than they are today, yes?  In the modern incarnation, the companions are also all heroic.  So it is a bit of a letdown when both the companion and The Doctor are shown to have feet of clay.

    Perhaps it is good to have a season where not only the companion is fairly conflicted but The Doctor as well. But it changes the feel of the show for me. It’s not as much fun.  If I want to see annoying people, there is always the Lifetime Network and professional wrestling.

    All of my concerns presume an overarching story arc that leaves me dissatisfied. This is completely unfair of me, and were I the creators and writers, I’d simply wink, smile and say, “Just wait.”  Here’s hoping.

    Anonymous @

    @lisa – It’s cool that you agree Perkins might have made some adjustments to the Tardis. But I think the Doctor asked him to do it. I’m thinking Perkins installed the fixed teleporter part from the mummy. You could be right that Perkins was a bad guy, but Perkins never reminded me of a bad guy.

     @Pedant – amazing that you said Perkins seemed Whedon-esque. His personality is a lot like Oz (from Buffy) to me.  Oz showed up as a new type of character. So I’m hoping Perkins comes back as some new character type.  I’m thinking like Future version of UNIT, or maybe he worked on Orson Pink’s time machine too? 

     Although in the Caretaker, Danny called the Doctor ‘Aristocrat’. So maybe the Doctor just needed to show he can get along with working guys like Perkins?


     [Clara] lies when there is no apparent need to do so. I am hoping that this is intentional and part of the story arc, and that there will be a good resolution to it.

    Clara lying again was my favorite part of the Danny Clara relationship story so far. I agree with the no apparent reason, but that makes it perfect for bonkerizing. I am sure the show will eventually tell us the real answer, but until then addiction to traveling, TL training, or maybe she just wants to have both Danny and traveling like ScaryB says. I don’t blame her for trying that either.

    @scaryb who wouldn’t have problems giving up travelling in the TARDIS and taking the slow road?!

    Exactly! So I disagree that it has to be a negative reason like addiction. Clara could have a very good reason for lying, just like the Doctor does most of the time. Danny’s heart might be in the right place, but he could be the one that needs to change, instead of Clara.

     Btw ScaryB, IKB is definitely my song for this episode. I saw the Tardis too, you rule!

    @idiotsavon Happy Zombie songs are awesome too. 🙂

    thommck @thommck

    @geoffers: the number of evil, twice over. they that bear the foretold stare have 66 seconds to live

    I thought Prof Moorhouse was referring to 666, twice over being 66. Doesn’t make much sense logically but the moon is an egg and all that 😉

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @wordmuse — let me once again dispute with you (it’s nothing personal, I’m just enjoying the conversation, and it beats packing boxes)…

    With regards to Clara lying, there might not be a cosmic over-arching need for her to do so but it’s clear that she thinks there is and it’s just getting her in deeper and deeper. It started off being played for laughs, but now there’s signs of it going somewhere deeper, I think. Also no one is saying that she’s going to be vindicated or is right for doing so. I’m pretty sure it’s going to end badly for her. But that’s OK. That’s good drama. And here we are all debating furiously over it and anxious to see how it pans out. So, again, good drama.

    As to the general ‘feet of clay’ point. I’m not sure we can argue that in BG Who, the Doctor and the companions were somehow loftier role models. Hell, we see the Doctor nearly bash in an unconscious man’s skull in the second ever episode. And how many people did Leela actually kill over the course of her time in the TARDIS? Not to mention the Brigadier apparently committing genocide. That doesn’t seem terribly lofty to me. And the Doctor is not an overly noble, ego-less character. He’s often selfish, capricious and self-centred, probably in some incarnations more than others. He does good things, yes. He fights the good fight. He makes sacrifices for the greater good. But he’s definitely flawed. He’s definitely human in spirit if not in biology. That’s why he’s so compelling.

    But a lot of the time in BG Who, the characters might seem more noble purely because we just didn’t see any character development good or bad. For all we know Sarah-Jane Smith was a gin-addled nymphomaniac but we don’t know because we just didn’t see it, or any evidence to the contrary either. This is because until Buffy came along, genre TV — including the big-hitters like Star Trek — just didn’t feel that the genre was worthy of piddling little things like character development. Thankfully the genre has evolved way beyond that and is all the better for it.

    @juniperfish — yah mad mental fish-myth Krew. Hope you’re on the mend btw….



    amazing that you said Perkins seemed Whedon-esque.

    I was thinking more of the throwaway line about needing repairs. In the opening episode of Firefly (and the Crap Alternate Opening Episode) Kaylee grumbled that she needed a new “compression coil” and warned of the consequences.

    Sure enough, the consequences turned up several episodes later in Out of Gas (along with some comedy bad science).

    janetteB @janetteb

    @jimthefish I agree wholeheartedly with the above post but for the final point about Buffy the Vampire Slayer being the first genre TV series to consider character development might add something to the story. While ignoring such fine British products as Blake’s Seven I would suggest that B.5 beat Buffy to that honour by a few years. (And one day I will do a blog on B.5 and what it has contributed to Dr Who in terms of story writing etc. I am mulling over it but have not been sufficiently fortified with reds to actually put pen to paper.)




    @janetteb @jimthefish

    I agree that B5 gets unfairly overlooked.

    This is partly because it was “hard” SF, partly because, in the UK, Channel 4 dicked it around something chronic – but also because JMS couldn’t write dialogue for shit (although he wrote terrific monologue). Whedon is remembered more because his character interaction sparkled in a way that B5 only really managed when the actors carried it (Jurasik, Christian and Katsulas especially).

    My 14 year-old nephew was just introduced to it by his dad and loved every minute – except S5.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @janetteb — I’m afraid I’m rather of the Tim Bisley camp with Babylon 5 but I look forward to your trying to change my mind on the subject.  It was a bit too densely space-opera-ish for me at times (I have the same problem with DS9 which I enjoy but don’t love for the same reasons.)

    Actually I was also thinking of Blake’s 7 too when I made the above point. They’re a collection of archetypes who don’t really progress over the series. I suppose you could argue that Blake starts noble and ends up compromised but with the rest Avon starts off cynical and pragmatic and ends cynical and pragmatic. Vila starts off cowardly, ends up cowardly. There’s not that much character development going on there.

    But with regards to Buffy vs Babylon 5, it might not be that they were the first, I’d argue that it’s not so much who was first (and I think I could make a strong argument for the X-Files over B5) but who cemented the concept in the popular imagination and was therefore most influential in the industry as a whole. I have heaps of respect of MJS, but I think Whedon wins that particular fight hands down. Babylon 5 I seem to remember had a hardcore following very much at the SF geek end of the spectrum but Buffy was very quickly a bone fide mainstream hit. In fact, I seem to remember an interview with RTD that pretty much says as much. (We are of course talking about a trend that had pretty much come of age anyway, so there is no one ‘inventor’ or ‘pioneer’ and all these guys were pretty much influencing each other).

    But I will definitely look forward to your blog on the subject.

    soundworld @soundworld

    Apologies! You are totally correct.  No theft intended – just too tired…
    So, good news – you win the informal competition.  Your prize details are just downloading now into my system – hang on – ah, here we go: Free tickets for 2 on the Journey of a Lifetime, it says here, See the Wonders of the Known Universe on the Orient Express, in SPACE!  🙂

    @jimthefish @juniperfish thank you for the kind mentions.  The accumulated wisdom of fish!  The Horatio quote sums it up perfectly.

    Here’s another from the same source, which perhaps expresses the general Who-ness of things
    “All is not well – I doubt some foul play”

    On things Hamlet, I do love ‘Rosenkrantz & Guildenstern are Dead’.  The notion that the tragedians, the actors, are the only ones who really know whats going on (because they’ve read the scripts/ create the scripts as they go along) and are masters of their own fate, while everybody else are confined to their parts in the known play, playing out their destinies to the bitter end.

    Whisht @whisht

    Perkins a bad ‘un?

    Maybe – certainly the direction seemed to suggest he was (either because he was or keep us guessing). When the Doctor says to Clara “just lie to her” over the phone, its Perkins’ reaction we see. He looks a little shocked.

    My bonkers theory?


    I think he’s a future regeneration of the Doctor.

    I don’t have my notes to hand (so many references to myths in this ep!), but when Perkins was asked to stay on in the Tardis, there were references to the Tardis ‘changing’ people to which I assumed they were referring to his face:

    either as a regeneration as part of this story arc (future Doctor has come back to warn him of something he needs to change blah etc)


    where the actor is allowed to come back, with a nod to Capaldi and he now ‘borrowing’ faces from their past.


    hm, I haven’t been bonking much and I think this is a bit of a desperate punt on my part…

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