Mummy on the Orient Express

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    wordmuse @wordmuse

    Hey @jimthefish

    I did not think you were aiming things at me personally.  But I appreciate that you were concerned about me taking it so. Thank you.

    I wasn’t really a fan of the BG Who. (BG is “before gap,” yes?).  So if there is a history of the BG Doctor not really being in the “pantheon of heroes,” does that mean there was a significant shift with the reboot? And maybe now it’s shifting again to the BG style?

    As for Clara – well, we’ll just have to wait and see what the show does with her character.  But I have to admit to tentative disappointment. She’s gone from being my 2nd favorite companion (after Amy and Rory (I view them almost as a single companion), during the Matt Smith episodes) to someone that I don’t look forward to seeing all that much. What’s the point of her? She’s just going to make me squirm some more as she lies to Danny, does things in her “addictive” self-interest, etc.

    If it *ends* badly for her, without any kind of redemption, I will likely consider it a waste and lousy storytelling. I know that’s a bit harsh. And I certainly am not saying that anyone else should see things the way I do or feel what I feel.

    I’m unabashedly a romantic at heart. I tear up when I watch stories of nobility, sacrifice, heroism and sentimentality that end up with the good guys winning in the end and the bad guys going straight to Hades.  Since we’re not at the end yet, I can’t say that I will be disappointed. It may be that even if it doesn’t go the way I think I prefer that the story will be wonderfully compelling in a different way.

    – Bal

    BadWulf @badwulf

    @wordmuse As for Clara – well, we’ll just have to wait and see what the show does with her character.  But I have to admit to tentative disappointment. She’s gone from being my 2nd favorite companion (after Amy and Rory (I view them almost as a single companion), during the Matt Smith episodes) to someone that I don’t look forward to seeing all that much. What’s the point of her? She’s just going to make me squirm some more as she lies to Danny, does things in her “addictive” self-interest, etc.

    I know just how you feel. I had thought that no-one could replace Amy – she really was fantastic despite her many detractors – but Clara was turning out quite nicely, after a bit of a smug start.

    However, since the introduction of Danny, she has been a combination of bland home life with only flashes of fire. Not only that, she has gone from straightforward and noble, to a more manipulative character.

    But – I am hoping that this is all part of a character arc, after all in Time Heist a lot of attention was drawn to her feelings of guilt.

    Spider @spider

    @soundworld no worries XD

    Woohoo! Brilliant prize, right I’m off. Orient Express. Brilliant. Hmmm…ok, not so good, people seem to be dying here. And there’s some really strange Scottish bloke running about spouting nonsense. Now, what’s this. Oh hello! Are you my Mu…ARGH!

    Good news though people! I’m now in the promised land with Missy and I can tell you all about…what? what do you mean I can’t tell them? They are dying to know, well, not literally. Oh right, I see. Spoilers. Well fair enough.

    So sorry, can’t actually tell you what’s going on…but it IS cool and you WILL love it 😉

    lisa @lisa

    @ spider GEEZELOUISE !!! what a tease lol 🙂

    soundworld @soundworld

    A final aside from me on the nature of reality, fantasy, and moon-dragons – I’ve been re-reading my Lem, and found this wee passage:

    “Everyone knows that dragons don’t exist. But while this simplistic formulation may satisfy the layman, it does not suffice for the scientific mind. The School of Higher Neantical Nillity is in fact wholly unconcerned with what does exist. Indeed, the banality of existence has been so amply demonstrated, there is no need for us to discuss it any further here. The brilliant Cerebron, attacking the problem analytically, discovered three distinct kinds of dragon: the mythical, the chimerical, and the purely hypothetical. They were all, one might say, nonexistent, but each non-existed in an entirely different way.”

    – Stanislaw Lem, The Cyberiad

    DoctorBaker @doctorbaker

    Brilliant episode!  One of Twelve’s best.

    The lavish design of the train had me drooling.  Had to press ‘pause’ now and again just to take in the wonderful craftsmanship.

    During John Nathan-Turner’s era (Davison – McCoy) one had to consciously overlook the awful sets and still more hideous costumes in order to get anything out of the story. Nowadays, the amazing production values can almost make you overlook a weak story. Fortunately, this episode had quality writing to go along with it’s sumptuous visuals.

    The Mummy itself was genuinely creepy and the ‘66 seconds to live’ concept definitely upped the tension.

    Personally, I was very relieved Clara decided not to leave as I consider her the best companion in series’s history.

    I was also relieved that Foxes wasn’t a major focus.  Celebrity roles (e.g. Kylie) take one out of the story and feel gimmicky.  They also age an episode badly (e.g. Robot Anne Robinson and robot Trinni & Susanna already make that episode seem hopelessly last decade… let alone Ken Dodd and Hale & Pace appearing in the Nathan-Turner era.)

    Capaldi’s Doctor is definitely feeling derivative of Hugh Laurie’s House M.D.  Especially the genius with terrible social skills and the mercenary ‘do-anything-to-solve-the-problem’ approach. But that’s not a bad thing.

    The only thing I’m a bit disappointed with is the lack of a ‘love triangle’. I’d like to have seen Clara and the Doctor sleeping in the same compartment and chatting in their bunk beds. It would be great to see Danny Pink getting jealous like Rory used to.


    Anonymous @

    Very late to the party due to lots of homework but that’s not a bad thing as it means I’ve got 8 episodes to re-watch at some point over the weekend 🙂

    Some thoughts on Perkins…

    I agree that there’s something a bit mysterious about him but I don’t think he has anything to do with GUS. In fact I’m starting to think that he might be a Time Agent, one with a talent for engineering.

    There hasn’t, to my knowledge, been any information given to what the Time Agency does but in my mind, I’ve always thought of them as being a sort of temporal FBI. I think that Perkins has been looking into the mystery deaths on other vessels and his investigations have lead him to The Orient Express.

    Being a Time Agent could also, possibly, explain his knowledge of the TARDIS or at least the basics of how it works. He’s line about travelling with The Doctor changing people could be a reference to Captain Jack. He travelled in the TARDIS and look what happened to him! Maybe Perkins doesn’t fancy immortality 😉


    Oh, and an anagram of Perkins is Pinkers! Just throwing that out there 😉

    lisa @lisa

    Got a question for anyone – When Clara was stuck with Maizie in the baggage car she found a briefcase filled with information about the Foretold – I am wondering who did that briefcase belong to ?? I cant see that answer
    Could it have it belonged to Perkins ?? If so that would also prove Perkins has been tracking this for some time
    @fatmaninabox – I like your idea about him – but I still also think he might have been messing around with the Tardis in which case I still feel that there is something very odd – I really believe the Doctor would never invite anyone to do anything to ‘his’ Tardis ! Where was Perkins when the Doctor was on the beach ? Was he
    left alone in the Tardis ?
    @barnable – I will re-watch but it wasn’t my impression that Perkins installed the teleporter ? why do you think that ?

    DoctorBaker @doctorbaker

    Speaking of celebrity appearances, its interesting that none of us minded Frank Skinner (despite not being a trained actor) but ‘Foxes’ raised some eyebrows.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @doctorbaker Frank Skinner got a free pass on the ‘celebrity casting’ moans on the grounds that he’s well known to be a keen fan who’s been begging for any role whatsoever. For ages.

    I think the feeling was that he’d earned that one, on the grounds of long and patient pleading. Personally, I was just pleased that – when he finally got his part – it was a good role for him and he did well with it.

    Spider @spider

    @lisa oh your REALLY wont believe what is going here. 😮

    But Missy has been paying attention to these forums and has been getting some fantastic ideas.

    We should work out some sort of code. Ahh Got to go, they are coming! Later! ;D

    DoctorBaker @doctorbaker

    @bluesqueakpip  Interesting that Frank S wanted a DW appearance for a long time. I didn’t know that. I gave him a ‘free pass’ just based on the likability factor.

    BTW, I don’t know if this has been mentioned before but I just noticed at the end of the season 5 finale ‘The Big Bang’, Matt Smith says:

    “Well, no, I get that it’s important; an Egyptian goddess loose on the Orient Express…… in space.” 

    Does anyone know if there’s any deliberate significance to this quote? Or was this just a throwaway line that ended up inspiring ‘Mummy’?

    Anonymous @

    @fatmaninabox – Your Perkins Time Agent theory makes the story even better. I’m going with that even if we never see Perkins again. 🙂

     @Lisa – I’m definitely thinking the papers belonged to Perkins, because it fits with the investigation theory FatManInABox said. But they could also be clues placed by Gus (or the Executive), but most of that part of the story still doesn’t make sense to me right now. I can’t figure out who brought all the people to the train in the first place.

    1. The Time Agency invited all the people to the train to help them catch Gus/Executive.
    2. Gus/Executive might be getting information about the mummy or just being a needy game player.
    3. The Doctor might be the Executive (like Architect)

    For all of these, the Perkins investigation theory still works, but I’m leaning toward Gus/Executive is a super criminal or Missy building an army with mummy tech.

     I thought installing the teleporter would lead to good story possibilities, but the Tardis probably already had the same abilities as the teleporter, so maybe the Doctor just needed it installed to track where it came from (like linking Clara to the Tardis). Installing the teleporter is a good excuse the Doctor gave Perkins to try to get him to stay on board too.

    To me, it looked like the Doctor left Perkins alone in the Tardis, so he must have trusted him by that time. Maybe the Doctor wouldn’t have trusted Perkins so soon like you said. In that case, Perkins definitely has things we don’t know about yet.

    Or maybe the TARDIS is going to break down soon @pedant or end up in the wrong place?  😉

    Arbutus @arbutus

    Coming late to the game due to Canadian Thanksgiving, I must say that this was exactly what I was hoping for! A perfect balance of fun, thrills, and emotions. So much has been said already, and so well.

    There were some great little character-building lines thrown into the script. Where the professor says “…hoping that one day I might meet a real monster,” and the Doctor’s reply: “Well, isn’t that everybody’s dream?” And when Clara accused him of knowing that it would be dangerous: “I didn’t know… I certainly hoped.”

    And for the Captain as well; his worst nightmare is the “mystery shopper”! And after the third person is killed: “It turns out it’s three.” That was the moment I started to like him. I was truly sad when he died, so bravely in the end. And it was the moment in which the Doctor was forgiven and understood.

    I thought the Doctor’s faked plan to sacrifice Maisie was well played, I really thought that he had crossed the moral line. And then suddenly I saw what he was doing and it felt very triumphant! I loved the whole scene where he confronted the Mummy, it was beautifully and emotively done by Capaldi. I actually wept when the mummy saluted the Doctor.

    So now the Doctor has turned away one potentially excellent companion, and one potentially excellent companion has turned him down. Interesting that he invited the mechanic to come along when he thought Clara was finished. I wonder if Journey Blue would have received a different response if they had met in this episode?

    Re Perkins:  I wasn’t surprised when the Doctor invited him aboard, because it seemed from their first meeting that they had a lot in common: the inquiring minds, the professional nosiness. But we were also shown along the way that Perkins, like others before him, found the Doctor’s attitude off-putting. It struck me, though, that he was less concerned about taking “time to mourn” when the victim wasn’t someone he knew personally, so a bit hypocritical there.

    The shoutouts to Tom Baker really stood out, but I liked @jimthefish’s call on the Doctor’s confrontation with the captain as “pure Pertwee”. That scene stood out for me because Capaldi was clearly playing it absolutely straight, no quirks or snarks, and that was for me the essence of the Third Doctor. I hadn’t put the label to it until I read that comment.

    I was very interested to read people’s differing views on whether or not Clara was lying. My first thought was that she certainly was, but I now realize that we don’t yet know if she lied to Danny. It depends on what she tells him when she goes home. She definitely lied to the Doctor though, in saying that she had wanted to stop traveling because Danny wanted her to stop, and was now changing her mind because he had. Interestingly, almost the Doctor’s first line in the episode was when he said to Clara, “But thanks for lying.” And then in the next scene, Maisie says to him, “That’s a lie.” I was disappointed in Clara’s decision at the end, not because of what it was but how she decided it. I think she is digging herself a hole, frankly, and it won’t end well.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    Regarding Clara, I agree with @juniperfish and others who like Clara better now. As @janetteb says, there are times when I want to give her a swift whack upside the head when I think she’s behaving stupidly, but that is eons better than the uberconfident, impossible girl of series seven. I felt last year that I always liked her best as the Claricle in The Snowmen, where she felt like a real person. Now she feels that way again.

    I agree that things will shortly come crashing down around Clara. My hope is that she will learn from it and resolve things. I hope that Danny is “the one” and she does a Martha and says “K, thx, bye” to the Doctor. And has a great life. I am a little tired of the “companion who never wants to leave” meme, and most of them come to a bad (or at least complex) end! I’d love to see something different for Clara.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    @soundworld   The next of my notes was to say how very much I enjoyed your little essay on myth, metaphor, and reality. My reality is always a lot more interesting with a bit of the other two mixed in! And then I looked, and you are off again, this time about the Cyberiad. Very well played.  🙂

    @mudlark   I completely agree about the Doctor’s head ruling his heart. This, among other things, is what recalls the Fourth Doctor to me. And speaking of malfunctioning, this isn’t the first time Twelve has talked about people in this way: “You’ve all developed a fault!” And @scaryb, the Doctor’s line “Can I talk about planets now?” should have been on my list of brilliant throw-away character building lines, it was so perfectly played.

    @phileasf   The Doctor as the Odyssey, brilliant. Especially throughout the new series with the destruction of Gallifrey, but in many ways, true from the very first: he was the wanderer who couldn’t go home.

    @jimbomcmaster  I liked what you had to say about the “character-driven arc”. I will admit that this was exactly what I was hoping for this series, as I am a bit of an old school viewer who likes being able to enjoy episodes for what they are. The plot arc elements in this series have been there for the fun of speculation, but have not been omnipresent in the way that you mention in Series 6.

    Your point about earlier Doctors needing to make similar impossible decisions is also interesting. I think that Twelve can make these decisions openly and without guilt, because he has come to terms with what he did on the day when it wasn’t possible to get it right. Ten and Eleven had not reached that place.

    @brewski   The Arc in Space!   😀

    idiotsavon @idiotsavon

    I’m enjoying reading all the comments here as always! Especially all the talk around myth – and @wordmuse and @jimthefish (and I think @others) you got me thinking with your comments about what heroism is. It’s a complex notion, I think – and perhaps one that carries very different connotations depending on the era/genre/individual.

    Thomas Carlyle wrote a series of lectures about heroes and hero worship: different types of heroes and the common qualities that they share. (And Conan Doyle in turn wrote a few lectures about Thomas Carlyle, I believe.) I recently read up to lecture 4 – The Hero as a Priest/Reformer. If I ever get round to finishing the set, I might have something clever to say on the matter! 🙂

    Anyway, having a bit of a work rush, so haven’t got time for pesky thinking. I think I’ll stick a couple of songs on the music thread instead. 🙂

    @oblique – thank you for your replies and recommendations. I don’t know whether it’s a good decision, but I decided to start with Ghost Light. Downloaded and ready to watch as soon as work dies down a little.


    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @wordmuse — I think the messianic/Lonely God side of the character was certainly played up during the RTD years and SM certainly seems to have had a long game of ramping that back down again. I do think that Capaldi’s doc is definitely starting to resemble BG Doctors quite a bit in his ambivalence. Others may disagree.

    RE. Clara. I am certainly starting to think that the end of her arc will be the Doctor (rather than her) refusing to take her on any more adventures for the sake of her health/safety/sanity. It may even be that her recklessness ends up in Danny being the one that comes to harm. However, I’d be wary of taking any ‘Clara’s lying will lead her to a sticky end’ chat at more than face value as that sounds dangerously close to ‘transgressive woman must be punished’ and I don’t see that Clara has done anything she should be ‘punished’ for.

    The other possibility, I suppose, is that she will start to realise just how influenced in her behaviour she is by the Doctor and call some sort of a halt to it. Not that it’s surprising, given that she’s taken a journey through his entire timeline.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Some interesting points on the Soap Opera front. It’s not a term I can really equate with criticism for very specific reasons. I think it must have been levelled at virtually every writer of a franchise I’ve followed internet comments on. @bluesqueakpip may have a better grasp of the Whedonverse than I do, but I’m sure I’ve read criticism of Angel on this front. I’ve certainly read it for shows like Fringe, Battlestar (as @jimthefish mentioned) and Farscape.

    I’ll attempt to explain why I object to it as a criticism, which will require a really long post. In it, to summarise, I’ll talk:

    • A bit about UK soaps;
    • A bit about why I think Doctor Who failed in the 80s;
    • A bit about why I think the relaunch succeeded, and continues to.

    I don’t really like Soap Opera, but I’m sure I saw loads of it when I was growing up because my mum followed them all. Weirdly, long before they became internet groupings, I’m sure she could be classified as:

    A fan “It’s not as good as it used to be when [Insert character Name] was in it”;
    A Shipper “I can’t believe she chose that toe-rag instead of [Insert character Name]!”
    A Bonkers Theorist “He’s acting suspiciously around her. I reckon he’s her long lost son. She let slip she’d had an affair about three years ago.”

    These observations were relayed to me while I was doing my homework. And waiting for something good to come on so I could switch to avoiding homework. For international readers, UK Soaps, or continuing dramas are the usual bunch of archetypes with interlacing storylines attempting to keep you riveted as they go through the trials and tribulations of life. Don’t think Dallas or Dynasty, or tele-novellas in Latin America. For the UK, Soap has traditionally dwelled in the ranks of “ordinary people” or “the working class”. Indeed, for years during the 60s and 70s it was the only time you’d regularly hear a working class accent on someone in TV. They owed something to the Angry Young Men school of scriptwriting, who wanted to keep it real. Well, as far as TV would allow them to go anyway. For the people and politicians who ran TV were largely of a Socially Conservative mindset.

    When Doctor Who was born it was in the midst of the real changing times of the sixties. I share @blenkinsopthebrave s view of those listings in the content @pedant linked to. It was an unusual experimental period, but a Soap, Coronation Street, really did own the TV at that point. I think society looked ahead. Satire was rocking, experimental humour and drama was in. The future looked good, and a show like Doctor Who which occasionally held up a mirror to the future, and the past was a fantastic idea. The characters, in their buttoned up way, seemed to reflect a spirit of adventure, as Hartnell put it. It was in the air. In the 70s, Who adapted in terms of introducing socially relevant storylines and Satires of its own. In depressed times, it gained new devotees and companions who were aimed to be attuned to the liberated times. Didn’t always work, but the differences could be stark, especially when you had a Script Editor who would accommodate an actress who was willing to make her points (See Liz Sladen, Louise Jamieson and Lalla Ward).

    When the 80s happened I’m not sure what happened to that spirit of adventure. Yes – the stories could still entertain, but I don’t think they adapted to changing times. The show, socially, seemed stuck in a rut. In fact, you could argue that female characterisation took a step backwards. Doctor Who was still the adventure, but seemed stunted. Looking backwards, instead of forwards.

    In contrast the Soaps were having probably their most successful decade. There were a hell of a lot of boundaries broken in soaps. First homosexual kisses for both male and female characters. First open discussion in drama of the HIV/Aids problem – all on TV before the watershed. Doctor Who’s regular complainer (and possibly chief recruiter), Mary Whitehouse, was therefore otherwise occupied with their immorality, and it took a big effort to poke her a sufficiently pointy stick with Vengeance on Varos. It seemed desperate because it was, and it backfired, as it was ill-timed.

    The show, I think, was starting to look a bit dated socially. If you looked at the support characters that were coming through, where was the connection? The real spark?

    At the end of 87, we got Ace. Although internal TV conventions made Sophie Aldred be the most well spoken social misfit you could wish to meet, she was boisterous, with sparks fully ignited, and allowed to grow. You had an arc. You had a mystery surrounding her. She had problems with her mum. Unfortunately, the show had been placed opposite the soap Coronation Street and although it struggled against that magnificently, that was a one horse race in the end. A shame, because that in that brief period, Andrew Cartmel tried to inject elements that would be critical in 2005.

    We hadn’t seen anything like Ace in Doctor Who since, well at all. Unless you read the comics. A decade before she joined 7, the Fourth Doctor had partnered up with Sharon, a black teenager from an industrial town who said “Flippin Heck!”. What a rebel! 😉 Pat Mills, the writer, said the inspiration had come because he’d been asked to look at a comic for Grange Hill. A Soap – for schoolchildren. This was about 25years before a black character actually strolled onto the TV TARDIS for the first time (Mickey Smith). The comics were always well ahead of the show. It was a much more relaxed social environment.

    When Doctor Who went off air, Soap Writers were consulted by both the New Adventure (7th Doctor) and Eight Doctor Novels for new female characters. In protracted sessions they’d draw up a profile for companions. Their history, likes, dislikes, temperament, etc. A crib sheet to start the accumulated story of their adventures with the Doctor. Jacqueline Rayner revealed in the introduction to the recent re-release of her book, Earthworld, that Colin Brake, an experienced soap writer, was drafted to “shape” the companion introduced in the book, Anji Kapoor, British Asian, and a bit self absorbed. Because characters should have traits you could disagree with. It made them more human.

    And so it was Russell T Davis who brought the show back. Russell T, who scripted and storylined soaps in his career. Who’d immersed himself in the spin-offs, the comics, the novels and introduced the elements he thought the show needed. The ones that critics rave bought the social relevance back to Doctor Who. It didn’t really need Buffy, as the pieces were really all in place. But I’m sure a reference made the job easier for some in those TV circles. The social relevance, the satire, the messages and banging the drum were all back. About time.

    So – as much as I really don’t rate them I have to hand it to Soaps, as for much of the period that Who was in the doldrums, they hit their stride – challenging social conventions and annoying Mary Whitehouse and her ilk. I just wish, during the eighties, that Doctor Who could have adapted in a more lightfooted way to the real issues of its audience. Shown as much bravery as the Soaps did on occasion. They forged a relationship with the audience which I think has been tested since the networks decided to broadcast them almost daily. There are only so many ludicrous storylines you can come up with for a conventional working class street until even the prospect of a moon-egg becomes more feasible. Doctor Who has become that social challenger again, and it is lovely to read outrage from the knee-jerking homophobic fuckwits over a lesbian kiss in Deep Breath.

    Thanks Russell for reintroducing the “Soap”, if that is what this is. And keep it up Steven. 😉

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 11 months ago by  PhaseShift. Reason: Change in phrase - Knee jerking homophobic fuckwits replaces complained about phrase
    Mudlark @mudlark


    Gus/Executive might be ………………….. a needy game player.

    This was pretty much my understanding of GUS – as a manipulator and game player, and that this was his/its usual modus operandi as a kind of disembodied criminal mastermind.  We know from the documents which Clara found in the strong room that a similar scenario had been set up in other ships, presumably also by GUS, with the aim of trapping the mummy but without ultimate success.  As an AI he would need human or robotic agents to carry out his purposes, but instead of recruiting them in the normal way he prefers to do so in this devious manner.  This seems to fit all the facts presented rather better than your suggestion that it was a trap set by Time Agents or whoever.  It will be interesting to see if GUS appears in a future episode

    I also had the feeling that GUS already knew quite a lot about the mummy and was amusing himself watching the team of experts trying to work out the puzzle,  and I agree with the theory that he may have arranged for the briefcase with the papers to be planted as a clue – that, at least, was my first impression.  If it was Perkins who had assembled the papers and left them, would he have been able to get into the strong room to place them there, given that GUS controlled access?   Unless he was acting for GUS, which I doubt.

    It did look as if there was rather more to Perkins than his position as engineer suggested, though it has to be borne in mind that he was an engineer of the future on a facsimile of a train in space.  The way he was introduced, as a voice in the shadows before he stepped forward into the light could simply have been to heighten the sense of mystery, but there did seem to me to be indications that he might have known more about the tardis and the Doctor than he was letting on.



    Mudlark @mudlark

    @phaseshift    Like you, I am no fan of soap operas in general, but the term covers such a broad range in kind and quality that it seems at the very least misguided to use it as a blanket term of criticism, let alone condemnation.  And I find it hard to sympathise with objections to any attempt to flesh out the characters of companions and provide them with a bit of background life beyond the Tardis, if that is what is meant by ‘soap opera’ in this context.

    You mentioned Coronation Street, and this is in its early days was a long way removed from the heightened drama and hectic storylines which I gather are now considered necessary to hold an audience.  As Tony Warren originally conceived and wrote it, it was character led and firmly rooted in the life of terraced streets at that time.  My mother, who grew up only twelve miles or so from Salford (Wetherfield), though on the Cheshire side of the Ship Canal, commented on those early episodes that she had known people very like the characters, and that their speech and dialogue was absolutely true to life.  I gather that when the idea was first proposed there was opposition from the suits, but that Tony Warren got his way. It was only very gradually that it morphed into something more formulaic and further removed from the ‘kitchen sink’ school of drama.

    GothamCelt @gothamcelt

    ‘Socially retarded’ – an offensive comment in any context

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Yes – that move to a more frequent weekly showing certainly saw a desperate shift in tactics from what I understand. My mum (who was Lancashire born), and her fellows in the “Mum Mafia” in our street used to amaze me by standing in the street discussing last nights events in the 70s and actually talking about characters as if they were real people, that they knew. A precursor to the “watercooler” moment perhaps, before watercoolers were widely available. 😉 Your comment actually reminded me that Paul Cornell (Father’s Day/Family of Blood) once summed up RTD approach as “The Lonely God meets Kitchen Sink Melodrama”. It was pretty apt.


    Yes – that was outrageous of me. I have given myself a stern talking to, and agreed with myself to self moderate to something less offensive. I have therefore replaced the offensive statement with:

    “knee-jerking homophobic fuckwits”.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @gothamcelt — but probably accurate in the context in which it was used…

    @phaseshift — great post and an excellent analysis of British soap. I think I’m probably more forgiving of British soaps of the 80s than some and the fact is I think that they often produced some of the best writing British telly has ever produced. Jimmy McGovern, Tony Jordan, Phil Redmond and going back Tony Warren are just fantastic writers period. It’s just snobbishness that makes people argue otherwise. It can often be risible in terms of subject matter or given to hyperbole when done badly, but these guys are often producing highly accomplished scripts which juggle quite a variation in tone to incredibly tight deadlines and often with significant production limitation — not just budget, but limited sets/actors being available etc. It’s worth giving that a bit of appreciation, I think. These shows were incredibly influential, although I think the glory days of the form are behind them now. (Although I think there’s a possibility of a migration to low-budget guerilla internet soaps. They already exist. It’s just a question of them making it to the mainstream.)

    You’re right that all the elements were in place and ready to be exploited and I pretty much brought up Buffy because, as you say, it became the flashpoint in TV-land for these trends to be brought to the fore. Prior to that there seemed to be this assumption that genre TV either didn’t need or somehow wasn’t worthy of the effort of character development. (And not just SF shows, look at how character development in cop shows has changed in roughly the same time period.)

    Thanks Russell for reintroducing the “Soap”, if that is what this is. And keep it up Steven

    Absolutely agree.

    Mudlark @mudlark


    look at how character development in cop shows has changed in roughly the same time period

    You may be too young to remember Z Cars (says granny), but the first episode of that caused seismic shock waves throughout the nation. Policemen with personal problems, whose job cause difficulties in their private lives and vice versa.  There was certainly quite a lot of focus on character and character development there, and it was a long way from ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ (and its unfeasibly ancient police sergeant)!

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @mudlark — regrettably I’m old enough to remember Z-Cars but not in any great detail and you’re right, ground-breaking of the time. I’d argue it was a soap of a kind too though compared to the more straight-down-the-line cops series of the time. But aside from launching the careers of a lot of great actors, it also produced some real writing greats — the mighty Alan Plater and Troy Kennedy Martin springing immediately to mind.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave


    When I saw that viewing schedule for 23 November 1963 posted by @pedant, I wasn’t just impressed by how culturally influential all those shows were; I also realised, not only that I regularly watched all of them as a wide-eyed youth in the mid-60s, but also, that taken together–(the wonder and educational inspiration of Hartnell’s Who, the surreal humour of The Goons (even the under-appreciated TeleGoons), the satire of That was the Week that was, and even (dare I admit it) the celebration of community and responsibility that was Dixon of Dock Green)–they were all crucial in shaping the youthful (and the aged) Blenkinsop.

    On the other hand, of course, a whole generation saw exactly the same shows as I did and turned out far more normal!

    As for soap, for me the greatest soap of all was A Family at War. God, I loved that show. Not only was it great soap, in was soap in context–it was the relationship between the social upheavals from the Spanish civil war through to the end of the second world war on the one hand, and the family trials and tribulations on the other, that made it what it was. Or, as we used to say over coffee at the university cafeteria, while pretending no-one before us had ever thought about it–the personal and the political.


    ThatOneGuy @thatoneguy

    ok didnt see if anyone else caught this so im just going to put it out there.

    i was rewatching season 5 episode the big bang and i noticed 2 things that relate to this episode.

    1) when the Doctor takes the pandorica into the center of the exploding tardis he is taken into the NetherSphere ( River said that is what would happen to him, and that its the void between worlds). while he is in the NetherSphere he is like a ghost almost. he can see everything around him but no one can see him (altho amy can hear him)

    2) at the very end of the episode where the Doctor, Amy and Rory are in the Tardis the doctor gets a phone call, the person (identified as “your majesty) needs the Doctors help with….the around him but no one can see him ( altho amy can hear him at the least)


    ThatOneGuy @thatoneguy

    sorry, phone acted up….but the mysterious caller needs the Doctors help with….are you ready…a mummy on the Orient express… space…..what are the odds of that happening twice?



    wordmuse @wordmuse

    I appreciate the thought going into making this a more nuanced conversation. Really, very good. And @phaseshift, your bit of history helped me clarify my thinking a little bit (though I won’t call it clear).

    Perhaps using the phrase “soap operaish” was not really a good choice of words.

    So what word or phrase would be good to label the idea of a plot line that is filled with unnecessary and irritating contrivance, wastes time on a story arc of a conflict that feels forced and beneath the character – who HAS a history from the previous season, and who we thought we were getting to know? Where it seems that the forced conflict (and the lies that it generates) is really just a plot device, and not a very good one at that? Where it seems for one brief blissful show (Orient Express),  that they realized the error of this and corrected it, only to find that at the end of that show, they’re doubling down on it? (grrrrr)

    I get that my view on the worthiness of this story arc is far from universal. Indeed, I might be a minority of one, which is fine. But to me it does feel forced; it feels unnecessary; and it feels like it’s not the Clara we came to know in the Matt Smith episodes (or even before she met Danny in the current season).

    Yes it’s just fiction; yes the writers can write whatever they want; and yes there are many (most?) fans who apparently love and applaud it. But, alas, not this fan.

    Whisht @whisht

    Soap a bad thing? A Bad thing??

    I was too young, only saw occasional and disconnected episodes and didn’t understand the half of it, but even I knew that Soap was all kinds of good!!

    Can’t believe it’s being criticised!

    But thankfully, some people here like @phaseshift @jimthefish and @mudlark (and others on the previous page – apologies can’t find names) as well as @wordmuse ‘s points have written some interesting thoughts without resorting to simplistic ‘gag’ videos.

    god I hate people that do that.


    Now, what about all this stuff @thatoneguy has found??

    ScaryB @scaryb


    Is the Nethersphere referenced by name in the Big Bang? (I don’t remember that but haven’t watched it recently). Your comment suggests it might be similar to the phaseshifting which happens to the mummy, and which has been referenced by several people on here.

    The phone call (which was about “An Egyptian goddess loose on the Orient Express, in space”) was referenced directly, by the Doctor, in Mummy… (and pointed out in the notes section in the official website).


    Oblique @oblique


    Good choice. I think its Sylvester’s best story. Let me know what you think…. Enjoy

    Oblique X

    ScaryB @scaryb



    I loved that show.

    And agree, some great discussion on the nature of soap opera as a genre. As @phaseshift says, UK soaps in the 80s were trailblazing (in subject matter and in playing with the format), especially Brookie and Eastenders when it started. But it now covers such a wide range of programmes that it’s not really helpful as a term of criticism.

    I think it often comes down to expectations and personal preferences. I like the ongoing character arcs on the whole, and I like that Clara seems to be digging a hole for herself. I like that I’ve felt like shouting “noooo! just tell him!” at her on several occasions. But I do agree that she seems to have been separated from her “I was born to save the Doctor” persona of series 7.   But she’s a good bit older now, and she’s had a lot of adventures with this Doctor that we haven’t seen. And who’s to say how much she even remembers of being in the Doctor’s timeline. She only got out at all because of the Doctor, otherwise she’s have been disintegrated like the GI. Maybe the Doctor did a kindly wee memory wipe as well, to sort out any PTSD issues.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @thatoneguy — as @scaryb says, it was referenced in the episode. It does beg the question though if the Doc Amy and Rory didn’t actually go to the Orient Express then, where did they go?

    @wordmuse — I think it’s just a case that this particular arc is just not doing it for you. And that’s fine. I never really found myself on board with Martha’s arc. But it’s all good and different viewpoints and opinions are what this site is all about so long as they’re expressed intelligently and thoughtfully — which yours are.

    With regards to Clara, I find her much more convincing and interesting this year than I did when she was with Smith. I think Jenna just has a better chemistry with Capaldi than she did with Smith — who I think struck with Amy much more successfully. And the whole impossible girl arc made her just a bit too unknowable and un-fleshed-out for my liking. So I don’t get the impression of anything contradictory really. Rather I get the impression of the creation of an interesting, if conflicted, personality where there didn’t seem to be much of one before.

    But again, different strokes and all that….

    ScaryB @scaryb

    @jimthefish @mudlark

    Re Z Cars – Another early writer was the late John McGrath who went on to create 7:84 Theatre Company and arguably re-invented theatre in Scotland – politically charged, with a local voice, and fun (“a good night out”).

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @scaryb — I didn’t know McGrath had written for Z-Cars. That show had quite a pedigree when it came to writers….

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    wastes time on a story arc of a conflict that feels forced and beneath the character

    It does, doesn’t it?

    Sorry, I’m still suspicious of Danny. He’s just … wrong. I can’t think of anything, in fact, about his background that’s right. [Go on, tell me anything about his background that actually fits.]

    And he’s not having a good effect on Clara. He’s oh, so very understanding, and reasonable, and controlling. If this is supposed to be a good relationship, it’s certainly bringing out her worst qualities. Why is he so suspicious all the time? He was suspicious of Clara on their second date! He accused her of lying! On their second date!

    For someone who clearly doesn’t like the Doctor, he also seems bloody keen that Clara stay in touch with him, even when she’s had a furious row and would have been quite willing to say ‘that’s IT!’

    Then there’s this weird need to investigate the new caretaker. The caretaker who no other teacher in the school was worried about.

    We’ve been given excellent reasons why the Doctor might not want to trust him (ex-soldier, jealousy of Clara’s boyfriend), but are they there to hide in plain sight that the Doctor doesn’t trust Danny? Specifically, Danny. Adrian would’ve been fine (obviously, the bow tie helped).

    With Rory, the Doctor practically dragged him onto the TARDIS. With Mickey, the Doctor wasn’t exactly keen, but he permitted ‘Rickey The Idiot’ to travel with Rose for several voyages. With Danny, he not only won’t allow him on the TARDIS, he throws him off it. And he sends Col. Pink to fetch Clara in a sealed spacesuit.

    I can’t help thinking that Adrian would’ve been falling over his feet on the Orient Express by now. Danny is stuck at home on the sofa. Undercutting Clara’s big decisions, insisting she not lie to him, – but really, how much do we know about him?

    Bit of a ladykiller. Not. So, who’s the lady he’s not here to kill? 😉

    wordmuse @wordmuse

    @jimthefish – yep – different strokes for different folks.

    My one real hope, having nothing to do with the story arcs per se, is that enough fans are more like you than like me. 🙂  After all, since that is the way this story arc is going, and since future shows depend in a big way on ratings, the more who like what’s going on now, the more who are likely to continue showing up.  And more than anything else regarding, Doctor Who – I’d like the series to continue on for a few more seasons at least. 🙂

    ScaryB @scaryb


    It was McGrath’s TV and Film (inc the Billion Dollar Brain and the Bofors Gun) writing in the 60s  that set him up enough to go with the theatre thing when he got the chance.  Michael Billington’s obit is informative and moving.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    @wordmuse     What I am enjoying about this series is the fact that the “arc” is subtle enough that it doesn’t interfere with my enjoyment of individual episodes. I will admit to being less than passionately concerned about where Clara and Danny will end up, and far more interested in the recurring themes of soldiers, the doctor as “a good man”, and so on.

    @bluesqueakpip makes some good points about Danny. I would add two more. One, we are still waiting to find out whom he killed (it was made fairly clear in his first appearance that he killed someone who was not a soldier). Two (and this is the bigger one), I find it  extremely odd that he would not have made some effort to accompany Clara on one of her journeys. This is a huge, massive part of Clara’s life and you would have thought that he would have wanted to see what it was all about, at least once. I can’t imagine being in a long-term relationship and having my partner traveling regularly to exotic locales without me (even strictly terrestrial ones)! And when Danny acknowledged that the Doctor’s main concern was that he be good enough for Clara, wouldn’t this have led to a desire to prove that to be true, at least for Clara’s sake?

    It seems really unlikely that Clara can continue traveling with the Doctor if she is going to continue her relationship with Danny, simply because this creates a giant void between them, of experiences that they can’t share. Personally, I am hoping for @jimthefish’s last possibility, as it would be far more satisfying to see her take charge of her life, rather than have decisions made for her.


    @scaryb @jimthefish @mudlark

    Allan Prior, co-creator of Z Cars (with Troy Kennedy Martin), was a past President of my old writers’ group. He came along once – not long before he died – and talked about the creation of Z Cars. It really is quite impossible now to grasp how very innovative and daring it was, how very much it was the antithesis of Dixon of Dock Green. It was thoroughly rooted in research and travelling with real coppers – and broadcast live, with the scripts tweaked to take into account the days news (or football results in one case).

    Prior and TKM died almost unremarked outside the TV pages- yet they are absolutely towering figures of British Television – every bit as important as Verity Lambert.

    I wrote this on the occasion of Troy Kennedy Martin’s death (here, rescued from a now dead blog):

    Too much talent from that era is leaving us almost unremarked. But if we forget where we came from and who it was who made the media worth having in the first place, it is a loss to all of us and we will end up with the media we deserve, rather than the media we need.


    ScaryB @scaryb

    @wordmuse – thanks for your contributions and sorry this series isn’t panning out for you. It’ll change again soon enough (and maybe I’ll hate the next one; we all like different things as you rightly say). Maybe it’ll turn round enough for you to like it before the end of Series 8.  You don’t need to worry about the ratings though, they are remarkably consistent around 7million for time adjusted, with approx 1.5m more for the 1st 7 days on iplayer. Audience appreciation index 82-85, which has been consistent for the last few series. It’s even holding up well in its new timeslot against X Factor.



    Poor Danny! He gets so little screen time (so far) and he’s lambasted for being boring.  But I agree, and I’ve said a few times, that it’s very odd he’s not been on the TARDIS yet. Or has he…? 😈  I don’t see him as controlling, but he’s being so accommodating of Clara’s time travelling that he comes over as much too passive and bland.  It’s as if whatever happened to him on his “bad day” has damaged him so much that he’s afraid to engage with anything, too scared to challenge Clara in case she leaves him completely.  It’s not a good dynamic for a relationship.  Tho we did see another side to him in the Caretaker – much more of an enterprising soldier/detective in following his suspicions.

    Re his second date accusations of lying – yeah, that was a bit off.  But he’d bumped into her at least twice when she’d had an unexpected change of clothes and almost seemed like she’d been on another planet(!) – his instincts are telling him this is 1 strange woman!  However I think the accusation was there to highlight how much he hates lies (Who’s lied to him in the past? Something to do with his bad day again?).  And Clara’s piling them up, even if it’s sometimes with best of intentions. (How do you tell someone you were their “thing under the bed”?!)

    “So, who’s the lady he’s not here to kill?”

    Indeedy 🙂

    And why 23 wells?  Why so specific?

    ScaryB @scaryb

    @pedant re Z Cars

    …how very innovative and daring it was, how very much it was the antithesis of Dixon of Dock Green. It was thoroughly rooted in research and travelling with real coppers – and broadcast live, with the scripts tweaked to take into account the days news (or football results in one case).

    Completely agree.  Sadly a lot of the episodes suffered the same fate as early DW and are not around any more, tho I think there’s still a good few early ones out there.

    You could even argue that the current DW character-based stories owe it a debt (she says in a desperate attempt to avoid the wrath of the topic dalek 😉 )

    I liked its offshoot Softly Softly as well. Nice link, and yes it’s a shame these early pioneers are passing unmarked.

    lisa @lisa

    Regarding Perkins – [he’s been a bit of a thorn sticking me in my grey matter] -I thought yesterday that it was
    his briefcase full of paperwork that Clara and Maizie found in the baggage car- that maybe he had stashed it in there. So when the scientists were all doing their investigating in the morphed lab car why didn’t he go fetch it to share with everyone?
    Why wouldn’t he do that ? Because if he did it would come out that he wasn’t really an engineer- It only reinforces for me the fact that he was hiding who he really was- which isn’t an Engineer – my hunch is that the
    briefcase might of belonged to him

    idiotsavon @idiotsavon


    Absolutely love your post about soap opera. A bit like you, my mum has always followed the soaps.
    I grew up with telly as a background noise (when we got unexpected visitors, my folks would turn the volume down – but the the telly stayed on 🙂 )

    At their very best, I think that soaps open up debates – within families and between neighbours; in the pub and even in the newspapers. They make us examine ourselves, our relationships, and our own prejudices. They change the social landscape for the better.
    I avoid watching soaps – largely for fear of getting addicted 🙂

    Here comes the “but”


    I already said a couple of threads ago that the phrase “There was a bit too much drama for me” is probably a bad use of the word “drama” – but can be understood, I think as “Not enough fun, larks and adventures. Too much confrontation and crying.”

    I interpret comments such as “It was too much like a soap opera” in exactly the same way. Too much confrontation. Too many tears. Not enough larks.

    And I do think that’s a fair enough comment for a Doctor Who fan to make.

    Interested to know whether I now need to re-think my ideas about “soap opera” too! 🙂

    But then again…
    It’s interesting that soap operas have so often contributed to debates that have changed society.

    Have any sci-fi shows had the same sort of direct impact?

    It’s not a rhetorical question – I should like to know what others think.

    In my (most probably wrong) view, anything fantastical removes itself, by definition, from the landscape of everyday life, and therefore limits its own direct political influence.

    Soap operas are a much better vehicle for driving any political debate, and therefore creating change.

    So, Doctor Who, if it is to have any social impact, should push the “soap opera” aspect – because without any real-life stuff, it’s pure escapism.

    I haven’t thought very hard about this. But I’m willing to defend my ill-thought-out views, just for fun really.


    lisa @lisa

    @idiotsavon– I think Star Trek has had a massive effect on society !! The technology- the stories- the charecters – and social debates too ! There were tons of firsts about that show – When I was a kid I
    watched it in the same way I watch Doctor Who and have the same kind of respect for it

    ThatOneGuy @thatoneguy

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>@ScaryB</p>
    <p style=”text-align: left;”>at 31min 21 secs in River says “…he will be trapped in the Nether Space, the void between the worlds”</p>
    <p style=”text-align: left;”>so not entirely the same but close…</p>
    <p style=”text-align: left;”>and I did not see that on the official website, thanks for pointing that out.</p>
    <p style=”text-align: left;”>and a Egyptian goddest is not the same as a mummy, but as the Doctor once said “never ignore coinicidences, never! unless your busy, then always just ignore them”</p>

    idiotsavon @idiotsavon


    I sort of disagree with my own comment – but can’t explain why! 🙂

    What is it about Star Trek that had such an effect on society, do you think?

    For example, how did watching it affect or change you? Or more generally, what is it about such sci-fi shows that gives them such a wide impact, in your view? And why do the “bad” ones fail?

    Do you think I’m being unfair if I say that anything fantastical is automatically distant from real life and therefore less powerful in a political sense?


    lisa @lisa

    @idiotsavon – The first series of Star Trek was roughly at the time of Man going to the Moon and then the Carl Sagan series Cosmos happened so all together they reinforced an completely new notion of our future having amazing possibilities –
    When it was picked up again years later the stories dealt with social issues even more in the script writing – but I think this is the forum for the Mummy episode ????? 🙂

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