On The Sofa (10)

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    Mudlark @mudlark


    I remember getting a fair amount of stick for my opinions on what was or was not remembered, but it still seems to me obvious that the the neural block  was just that; a block and not an erasure of memory such as poor Donna suffered, who retained no recollection at all of either the Doctor or her adventures with in his company. My opinion was further reinforced by a subtle hint in the first episode of the subsequent season and a more direct pointer in the following Christmas special Twice Upon a Time.

    The understanding which I took away from Hell Bent was that the neural block, whatever its intended effect on Clara, had created in the Doctor the mental equivalent of a blind spot where Clara was concerned but nothing like a memory wipe.  Consequently he was unable to focus on her – in effect she was a hole in his mental vision – and his recollections of their experiences together were somewhat slippery, but those recollections were not so incoherent that he could not give a fairly complete account of his last, desperate attempts to bring her back from death. It also seemed to me that the diner itself, recalling associations with Amy and followed by the direct confrontation with Clara herself, triggered a subliminal awareness which, reinforced with all the clues presented to him subsequently and culminating in the dematerialisation of the diner and the appearance of his own Tardis with the portrait of Clara in the painted memorial on outer shell could hardly fail lead him to a kind of recognition. When he turned away from her and she went sadly through the door into her Tardis control room, it seemed not so much that he had failed to recognise her as that the recognition was affectless; there was no possibility of their resuming their former relationship and she understood this. And therein lay the tragedy.

    Whether that is what Moffat intended to be understood is anybody’s guess, but for me the worth of any work of fiction lies as much in what the reader or viewer understands and takes from it as in the intention of the author, and so I will stand by my opinion.

    It is quite a while since I last viewed this episode, but I seem to recall one detail which I don’t think was mentioned in the discussion thread. When the Doctor recovers consciousness in the desert we first see things from his point of view, and one of the concerned faces looking down at him is, very briefly, that of Clara. It is only the briefest of glimpses, but perhaps significant

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @mudlark It seems to me that your conclusions are entirely credible and correct (insofar as any interpretation can be ‘correct’). The Moff tends to put so many levels into a scene (but also to leave things unsaid) that it’s a fertile ground for theorising – and also highly rewarding to watch several times. And yes, re-watching (with the knowledge that Clara ‘knows’), it does seem apparent that she is dropping hints. Culminating with “You don’t know who you’re looking for. I mean, she could be me, for all you know.” Short of jumping up and down and yelling “It’s me!” she couldn’t put it any stronger.
    But then the Doc says “If I met her again, I would absolutely know.” Which at first sight appears to dash that line of supposition. But – it leaves open the possibility that the Doc does know (or at least strongly suspect), but just isn’t telling. And – he never asks the waitress her name! Is this because he already knows it? Or because he doesn’t want to make her tell him a lie? So was it true that they both knew but weren’t prepared to admit it? And were fencing to see how much the other knew?

    That scene is capable of so many interpretations, and it is compatible with just about all of them. Beautiful writing, as I said before.

    Incidentally, it’s a nice contrast with the parting in the restaurant at the end of Death in Heaven, where they were both lying to each other with the best of motives.

    The Doc recovering consciousness in the desert – I thought that glimpse of Clara was a last glimpse before he passed out, but *of course* it could well have been (and more likely was) a brief glimpse of her laying him down in the desert just before she asked Baseball Cap Man to take care of him.

    Incidentally, I’d always assumed (incorrectly) that his arrival at the diner was immediately following that – but this is obviously wrong (and I don’t think the Moff intended to give that impression, it was just one I got. Equating the two desert scenes). But in between being found by Baseball Cap Man and the diner, there was a significant interval, in which he went to London, found his Tardis missing, acquired a guitar, and travelled ‘from time to time’ and back to Nevada. How did he know to go back to Nevada? – maybe he was searching around the area where he was ‘found’; doesn’t matter, Clara tracked him, anywhere would have done. How did he manage with no money, for tickets and food? – he had the sonic sunglasses and his psychic paper, he managed (as Me said) brilliantly. And anyway, it’s not significant for the story.


    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    (I’ve just been having a long read of the episode thread for Hell Bent, and I can’t help noticing that everything I just posted above was already stated there, much of it by Mudlark  🙂        And I was feeling so clever.   I wasn’t intentionally plagiarising anyone.   The one thing I think I can claim – I haven’t read it yet – is my observation that the Doc never asked the waitress her name.)

    syzygy @thane16

    @dentarthurdent. @mudlark Hallooo!

    I too rewatched Who in the past few months & love those episodes with Clara.

    I think the Dr uses his sonic for emergency ATM withdrawals (Tennant in Tate’s bride episode)  but could use his psychic Paper to obtain necessaries? I think he doesn’t ‘know’ Clara at all by the Diner Incident- maybe Clara’s knows full well (her massive eyes well up) but then again Who really knows? I think it’s all happily stored in Moffat’s head. 😀😎

    I much enjoyed the new year Dr story: light & silly but a lot of fun for us as a Fam. The 2 other actors did a terrific job. I’ll catch up with the all the comments. I’m sure there’s tonnes.

    kindest, old Puro & Thane.

    MissRori @missrori

    Regarding the Doctor’s memories of Clara, an interesting detail in the Twice Upon a Time novelization is that regarding the Doctor flashing to his various companions at the end of The Doctor Falls during his near regeneration, he briefly recognized Clara (i.e. the process temporarily bypassed the block) but intentionally put that out of his mind, so to speak, because he remembered the block’s purpose.

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @syzygy    I think Clara knows exactly who the Doctor is.   What she doesn’t know is, how much he remembers (and I think she’s fishing for information all the way through).

    Of course, WE (on first viewing) don’t know which (if either) of them remembers.   In fact we don’t even know they’ve forgotten, except that becomes fairly obvious in the first few seconds.

    Now, with 100% multi-viewing hindsight, I think the Doc suspects who she is.   He too is fishing for information.  Yet at the end, he says “I would definitely know her” (before the DinerTardis dematerialises and leaves no doubt) – which could either mean that the block is still 100% effective and he’s dismissed the waitress as a possibility, OR it could mean he’s recognised her and is hiding it.    And I find it curious and quite suggestive that he never asks the waitress her name.   Is he half afraid of what the answer might be?

    This scene just works on so many levels.   I just love this episode to bits.

    @missrori   I should probably get the Twice Upon a Time book.    Only one I’ve got is The Day of the Doctor, which of course includes the TV episode but then incorporates a lot more material.   I gather Twice Upon a Time is the same in that respect.   I did like it that Testimony restored his memory of Clara.    Though I found that episode a little anticlimactic (how could it be otherwise after Worrd Enough and Time / Doctor Falls), but I did like the line “It isn’t an evil plan.  I don’t know what to do when it isn’t an evil plan.”


    Mudlark @mudlark

    @thane16 (alias syzygy) puro

    A reciprocal, though belated halloo. It is good to see you here again; you have been missed.

    I guess you are right that the Doctor used his sonic/wearable technology and/or psychic paper to obtain money. On the face of it that would be fraud, but if, as Kate once said, he is ‘on the [UNIT] payroll’, maybe it would come under the heading of ‘expenses’.

    I agree that the New Year special was fun, with an intriguing premise and interesting characters, and I enjoyed watching. It is nevertheless telling that, like the majority of episodes of the Chibnall era, it hadn’t really stuck in my memory and I had to go to the archives to remind me, and that for me points up the difference between Chibnall and Moffat as writers and show runners.

    In other news, I have finally retired my antique Nokia and surrendered to the lure of a smart phone so, when not in the throes of seasonal dormouse syndrome and curled up with my furry tail round my nose, I have been busy playing with my new toy. Whatever anyone says, it ain’t entirely intuitive, even for one who is reasonably computer savvy, so in the end I’ve had to download a User Manual 😕

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @mudlark    I retired my $18 ZTE phone six months ago, for an Android smartphone. I’ve been using Linux for 20 years, and Android is famously based on Linux – but, I found that didn’t help much. The *nix base is well hidden by layers of applications.
    I think that’s inevitable, what works best on a server/desktop doesn’t work too well on a smartphone (and vice versa). The use cases are too different, even where they overlap the difference in screen size and possible ‘keyboard’ size is too great. Microsoft found that out with Windows 8, probably their most-hated operating system. So, TL:DR version, yes I too had to ‘learn’ to use Android (and there are still things my smartphone does that I don’t really understand).

    Which makes me wonder what the interface is like on the Sonic Shades and the Sonic Screwdriver. Even Clara, who is very bright but had to call the computer helpline, could operate them. Maybe they have a psychic interface that senses what the user wants them to do. I want that on my phone!

    janetteB @janetteb

    so, I had a “s**t” night. A committee meeting that left at least two people in tears, one of them being me, the other my daughter in law to be, and my son, who is the Chairperson, trying to console us both. So, I asked the s/o to put on one of my favourite Dr Who episodes, Hell Bent because of this discussion.

    He has just walked into the diner. That brought tears to my eyes, knowing that Clara knows who he is, the expression in her eyes, the way that she plays it, leaving the audience wondering on first watch, but just enough knowing in the look to make it clear on a second watch that she knows and is playing along.

    And now the scenes in the barn. Dropping the spoon, a reference to Robin Hood which is a reference to something else but right now I don’t remember. Think it was something I read about recently and thought clever Mark Gattiss or Moffat. That was a bit obscure.

    “Get off my planet.” How I wish I could have said that tonight. There really are some people our planet could do without. What makes Dr Who so cathartic, he stands up to the bullies and wins. I was thinking about this the other day, one of reasons we need stories is that we need happy endings, we need to see good triumph. It gives us hope, the will to keep fighting even if we know it is just that way in stories.

    Other observations, love the costumes, such detail. That is perhaps why I have always rather liked Gallifrey, they wear ridiculous deep red costumes, love the colour, and though never really developed as a society there is so much unexplored narrative potential.

    And now the Doctor goes too far, “killing” someone to get Clara back. He starts breaking his own rules but he knows it. this does not happen for the sake of the script, it is the story and it addressed in the story and there are consequences. Just noticed the weird white head attire of the guys in the chamber remind me of the head wear of some of the Gallifreyans in The Invasion of Time. Another regeneration gender change, just to reinforce that it is “a thing”. It isn’t just a trick of the Master/Missy’s.

    Ah Daleks. Remind me too much of the idiot we were dealing with tonight. It isn’t what they say but the tone they say it in. If a Dalek was saying something positive it would still sound offensive because of the aggressive tone.

    So is Susan the President’s daughter? Or the President’s great granddaughter?

    And he steals a Tardis and runs way, “just away”. Love the old style Tardis. I wonder if they used the set from An Adventure in Space and Time.

    Not a big fan of Me but she is better here.

    So that is where we finish tonight because son and daughter-in-law-to-be now want to watch Rebels. We’ll finish Dr Who tomorrow.



    Ps I should say I did hit the bottle of fake Malibu that second son left conveniently on the table when I got home.

    And second P.S. Lovely to see you back @thane16 and @mudlark. I am following the discussions but not posting so much of late. R.L taking up too much time.


    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @janetteb Great to hear from you. Welcome to the Hell Bent Fan Club 🙂

    Yes, a good story can be a wonderful diversion from the worries of Real Life (TM), or even from the banality of our everyday existence. I absolutely don’t want to be ‘in’ a story, risking my neck (that old Chinese curse, ‘may you live in interesting times’ applies). But my daily routine would make horribly boring viewing to anyone except me. I could never understand the appeal of soaps like Coronation Street or Neighbours.

    What was it Clara said – ‘You said memories become stories when we forget them. Maybe some of them become songs.’ (Sheer poetry, by the way). To get back to the point, music is a marvellous diversion too. And my little MP3 player has transformed my daily walks into a far more inspiring experience than just exercise. I’ll probably suffer the same fate as Danny, headphones on, Brothers in Arms or Piper to the End or Comfortably Numb wafting me away – there are worse ways to go. 🙂

    Not sure why he *had* to shoot the General. Presumably because the General, disarmed or not, was never going to let him escape with Clara (and presumably, if the General had let him voluntarily escape, he (General) would have faced the wrath of the Gallifrey authorities aferwards. So maybe getting shot/regenerated was a less painful option). Still a rather poor reward for saving the Doctor from Rassilon – which does show how desperate the Doctor has become. But then x billion years trapped in a confession dial probably does that to people (though I suppose the Doc only remembers the last time round).

    The scenes in the ‘extraction chamber’ (the name sounds like a Victorian dentist’s in a horror movie but never mind) – it’s not just the white head attire, but everything else is white too, except people’s faces. The background has been deliberately over-exposed or processed to look that way. The director and the DP did a lovely job on this episode.

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    Oops, that shoukd have read “if the General had let him escape voluntarily” or “if the General had voluntarily let him escape”.  Either would have done, just not the word order I used which was precisely wrong.   🙂

    (Why don’t I just edit my last post? – because this website seems to have a habit of eating the whole post when I try that)

    winston @winston

    @dentarthurdent  There is a scene in Hell Bent when Clara asks the Doctor how long he had been trapped in the dial and he tells her it was billions of years. She tears up (so do I )  and asks him why he would do that and the answer he gives is “I had a duty of care” a line I will never forget.

    When my little dog Newton got so sick I sat up at night with him and tried so hard to nurse him better but it was not to be and he got so much worse. I could hear the doctor saying “I had a duty of care” over and over again and I knew I had one too. One of the times that Doctor Who helped me through a hard time.

    I have a hard time watching it now but Hell bent is a hell of a good episode.

    @janetteb  Your day sounds bad and I am glad that Doctor Who helped you feel better. It has done it for me many times.The world is filled with bullies and it is nice to see the Doctor stand up to them and win. It doesn’t always work out that way in real life. I hope that the next days are good ones for you.

    Stay safe.

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @winston Not that it changes the point, but in fact the Doctor wouldn’t tell Clara how long it took. Clara had to browbeat Ohila into telling her. And I think that ‘duty of care’ is something he invoked to make it seem less personal. He had a ‘duty of care’ because he really did care – but he was always reluctant to admit just how much.
    But what they said to each other after that – I think it was nicely left to our imaginations as the camera panned over (CGI) Gallifrey.

    I am sorry to hear about your dog Newton – if it’s any small consolation, I’m sure your presence was a comfort to him.


    Mudlark @mudlark

    @janetteb  Hello (waves)

    Sympathetic vibes over you no-good/horrible evening. In my opinion committee meetings are a pain at the best of times even when the chair is efficient at keeping trouble makers in check – and not themself the problem – which is why I have always tried to avoid any situation requiring committee work, and preferred to remain at the pointy end of my profession rather than going for promotion to a better paid  admin post.

    As regards the spoon joke; as you say, it refers back to Robot of Sherwood. The Tardis arrives in Sherwood Forest, 12th century, and almost immediately an arrow whangs into the Tardis and Robin Hood emerges from behind a tree. Having accepted that the blue box is not a conjuror’s illusion, he then tries to take it at arrow point. When the Doctor refuses to yield Robin challenges him to a sword fight, to which the the Doctor responds, ‘I have no sword. I don’t need a sword … because I am the Doctor – and this is my spoon. En garde’. And proceeds to fight, spoon against sword, with moderate success. Hence, several billion years later in Hell Bent when Gastron says, ‘You will lay down your weapons’, he drops his soup spoon.

    @dentarthurdent  The Nokia to which I referred really is an antique – 17 years old and given me by my colleagues when I (unwillingly) retired, so as you may imagine the upgrade has, from a technological point of view, taken some adjusting to. Until recently the basic phone was adequate for my needs because I used it chiefly when travelling, but nowadays it seems to be assumed that everyone has a smart phone, and I have been finding it increasingly difficult to manage without a one, not least because banks now seem to require it if you want to make on-line purchases, which is a problem now that I am largely house-bound because immuno-compromised.

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    ‘meeting (n) An organisational aberration in which twelve people take an hour to fail to agree on something which could have been decided by any one of them in five minutes’. I was an engineer all my working life, didn’t want ‘promotion’ for the same reason as you, until they farmed out the design work to consultants and I became perforce a ‘project manager’. As an engineer, I could design a nice sewage pumping station for you and guarantee it will work as advertised. As a ‘project manager’, I felt like an impostor, just doing it by the numbers, ‘fake it till you make it’, perpetually paranoid that something was going to go expensively wrong and I eventually retired with a sense of relief that the penny hadn’t dropped yet. 🙂

    Phones – that Nokia sounds remarkably well-made, and obviously you took good care of it. My approach to phones (as with reading glasses) is ‘buy the cheapest, because sooner or later I’m going to lose it/sit on it/drop it’. I bought a second-hand Samsung S2 a decade ago but I just used it as an occasional mini-laptop with apps like French dictionary etc. My ‘working’ phone was, until recently, a little $18 ZTE non-smart-phone. A big plus, it had physical buttons, I could operate it without glasses in bright daylight. And when I stood on it (I really did!), I just bought another. But – similar to your experience – with Covid, and needing to ‘scan in’ everywhere, I had to go to a smartphone, so splashed out $65 on the cheapest Android smartphone I could find. I still do all my on-line orders / banking on my laptop, though. And my phone has a variety of beeps and squawks which I only vaguely know the significance of.

    catymcinulty @catymcinulty

    Hi guys! My name is Caty and I am very new here. I am autistic and trying to make friends, I looked on youtube to see how to make friends and it was suggested to find people with common interests. Doctor who is one of my special interests so I am hoping this works out!

    TwelveIsMyDoctor @twelveismydoctor

    @catymcinulty Welcome!!! You’ve come to the right place if you are a Doctor Who fan. I know you will enjoy your time here. There are tons of interesting posts and everyone is very friendly. So, again, welcome!

    Devilishrobby @devilishrobby

    @catymcinulty welcome I think we here on TDWF  pride ourselves on generally being an inclusive , generally friendly and supportive  group.

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent


    Hi Caty

    As Twelveismydoctor and Devilishrobby said, welcome to the site. It’s not very busy, except when new episodes come out, but we’re a mostly friendly bunch and we all like talking about Doctor Who.

    If you used your real name, of course it’s perfectly fine to use it. I don’t use mine on public sites because it’s unusual and while I’d be perfectly happy for everyone here to know my real name, Google indexes this site along with all the rest of the web so anyone entering my name into Google could see everything I ever posted, anywhere. Which is a bit unnerving if you Google yourself. Just thought I’d mention that in case you weren’t aware of it.

    (However, for the record, my local acquaintances all know me as ‘cr’, from my initials. I’ll happily admit to that because Google just returned 5.5 billion results for ‘cr’, which is enough to preserve my anonymity 🙂

    catymcinulty @catymcinulty

    @dentarthurdent Thank you for the warm welcome! I’m very happy to find some people who hold common interests. I figure if my data has already been sold by facebook, instagram, tiktok and such, I might as well put my full name out there. Thank you very much for the heads up though.

    catymcinulty @catymcinulty

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>@twelveismydoctor @devilishrobby Thanks guys! I’m very excited to be here.</p>

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    So I watched The Husbands of River Song. Didn’t record any comments. It’s a perfectly fine episode, it just suffers from following Hell Bent. As any episode would. Though it does have a sweet ending. But also, it’s a little too ‘comedic’ for my liking. (When I followed ‘Xena’, which notoriously lurched wildly from drama to rather wet Three Stooges comedy, the lines that would make me burst out laughing with appreciation were always in the ‘darker’ episodes).

    So then a change of genre, to superheroes – I imediately like The Return of Doctor Mysterio.
    Like a true Moff script, there are little gems sprinkled all through it. Such as the way the Doctor takes Superman comics seriously and has spotted that Clark Kent and Superman are the same person.

    Grant and Lucy are really appealing characters. I instinctively like them.

    The brains are suitably creepy. I notice Doctor Sim (lovely name!) has a diagonal seam across his face exactly like the deranged Hydroflax worshippers in Husbands of River Song.

    Nardole keeps cracking me up. A suitable henchman for the Doctor.

    Love the Doctor’s little all-guys-together chat with Grant –
    DOCTOR (to the sky): Thank you!
    GRANT: Who are you thanking?
    DOCTOR: The universe. There’s somebody worse at this than me.

    And Nardole can drive the Tardis! He is indeed becoming an asset.

    So, overall, a fun episode.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @mudlark thank you. Have talked to some of the other committee members regarding what happened and feeling much better. I have been on this committee since it began as have most of the other committee members so it is getting that cosy family feel and meetings are generally enjoyable. The problem person probably won’t be back and the rest of us can carry on trying to improve and hopefully get new committee members who are keen to participate and contribute without being offensive.

    @dentarthurdent My s/o went through a similar process in his job, when “outsourcing” began the buzz word of the time, resulting in increased costs and greatly reduced efficiency. It really was just another way of handing tax payer money to private companies.

    @catymcinulty Welcome to our forum. I hope you enjoy it here.

    dentarthurdent again. Husbands of River Song is silly and fun. The giant fighting robot was too over the top but the rapport between the Doctor and River Song quickly compensated and the moment when she realises who is is makes up for many other weaknesses. It is one of my favourite Dr Who scenes.

    Dr Mysterio is a good episode, far more even in tone with strong characters and villains. The real superhero is the nanny. .. Nardole is also beginning to develop into a strong character.





    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @janetteb I do hope the turbulence is over and your committee returns to an even keel.

    “Outsourcing” was also a form of institutional cowardice – it meant the management always had somebody else to blame (sorry, ‘hold accountable’) if anything went wrong. That also permeated our IT department – never mind that I was using an open source free editor, they had to replace it with a commercial one (that cost money and did less) so they could ‘hold the vendor accountable’ if it somehow crashed the network. (The head of IT explicitly told me this). I asked sarcastically if he’d ever read any standard conditions of sale. We did not get on, sad to say.

    Yes, Husbands of River Song is fun, and well written. I like the outrageous River Song, but somehow losing her doesn’t have quite the impact of losing Clara. Maybe because she’s died already. (But then so has Clara). The concept of past and present gets a bit – relativistic – when we’re dealing with time travel.

    Mysterio – yes, I agree the nanny (Grant) is the hero of that episode (albeit one accidentally created by the Doctor). Incidentally, I think he is better looking with his glasses on, than off. This is probably an exception to most people. And Nardole is an excellent sardonic comic foil to the Doctor’s slightly melodramatic expressiveness.

    winston @winston

    @janetteb and @dentarthurdent     I love both those episodes but I save them for Christmas as they make me feel happy. I am a big fan of River Song  and that episode felt like a romantic comedy from the 40s. Doctor Mysterio was a fun episode and Nardole is the bumbling  side kick with a heart of gold. He is a companion who really seems to want to take care of the Doctor, whether he likes it or not. The bad guys are pretty creepy in both episodes.

    @catymcinulty  Welcome to our happy little forum where you will find all things Doctor Who. We all love the show so we have at least one thing in common that we enjoy talking about. Have fun exploring all the discussions about the episodes and learning so much about Doctor Who.

    Stay safe.

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    (So I’ve been watching Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element (which is great and fantastic fun) and Valerian (which kind of illustrates that more is not always better. Still, I think it outdoes Avatar for gorgeous visuals). And also, from the depths of my hard drive, the old black & white Danger Man, with Patrick McGoohan, pre-Prisoner. The first few eps were pretty ordinary, I think they improved later.)

    Back to Who, and Season 10 – my impressions of The Pilot

    I keep getting echoes of Reg, Professor Chronotis (from DNA’s Dirk Gently books) (and so does Chrissie at Chatokeya.net). Example, the Tardis, that is too big to fit through the doors of the Doctor’s study, as Bill observes. The Doctor sooo did not have a window taken out’

    The Doc is a fascinating lecturer. But *why* has he chosen to spend decades as a university don?

    Good to see Nardole again. I just noticed, he runs in a very peculiar way.

    What have the Doc and Nardole got in the vault? And what is in Heather’s puddle?

    Bill’s mum is a beautiful woman (to judge by the photos). And then, in the background of one of the photos, is the Doc. (Thanks to Chrissie’s transcript for pointing it out, btw, I’d missed it). (And, reminiscent of Ashildr/Me in a selfie of one of Clara’s pupils?) So the Doc went back in time to ‘fix’ Bill’s lack of any photos of her mum – echoes of Reg and the salt cellar.

    And the latest Moff monster is – puddles.

    I *love* the reveal of the Tardis in this one! This is truly the best incarnation of the Tardis and it looks glorious in this sequence. Nardole: Human alert. Do you want me to repel her? Nardole is a hoot 🙂
    This is probably the longest-delayed “Bigger on the inside!” ever. (I get a flashback to Mels phrase ‘Penny in the air…’ (though that was in a different context). I think the Moff coined a new phrase there; the canonical saying is ‘waiting for the penny to drop’, which originated with coin-operated vending machines and/or public toilets; ‘penny in the air’ is a divergent elaboration on that.

    So then Heather has shown that she/it can track Bill across the universe. But she/it lets her go, setting up (though we have no way to know it yet) a surprise for the final episode. I love these deep-buried plotlines.

    And the Doctor knows he should memory-wipe Bill, but relents. AND invites her for a further trip in the Tardis, what the hell. What the hell indeed, the Doc is really getting reckless. Having lost Clara and River Song, though was that 50 years ago? – time is really unceratin when it comes to Doctor Who. Doesn’t he know that all his companions come to a sad end?

    And we still don’t know what’s in the vault…

    Mudlark @mudlark


    This episode was for me a very effective introduction to this new chapter in the Doctor’s lives and to Bill – so much so that Bill became almost immediately one of my favourite companions among all who have accompanied him in his adventures. With hindsight we know why he chose to spend so long teaching at a university and, judging by his spacious, and well furnished room, he had managed to embed himself very comfortably in a privileged niche in that setting – far better situated than most university lecturers in Britain these days, alas. His teaching style must undoubtedly have been unique and I would love to have attended his lectures; no wonder Bill was entranced.

    I don’t know whether you noticed that when he is hesitating over whether to wipe Bill’s memory we hear Clara’s theme – maybe another hint that the memory of the latter is lurking only just below the threshold of his consciousness ?

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @mudlark    Yes, I think I noticed Clara’s theme in the background of that scene.   Besides, the Doctor knows that theme – he mentions that it’s called ‘Clara’ in the diner in Hell Bent.

    Did you ever read Doug Adams’ ‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’ – there’s a Cambridge don called Reg, Professor Chronotis, who has a time machine (in fact his rooms *are* the machine) and is obviously reminiscent of the Doctor.   This is known to have elements of the unfinished Who story ‘Shada’.   I’m sure the Moff has read it.

    MissRori @missrori

    Hello @catymcinulty !  I’m sorry I didn’t catch this sooner — DW news has been slow lately — but welcome to the group.  I am on the autism spectrum myself and I think you will be very comfortable here.   🙂

    nerys @nerys

    @thane16 Good to see you back here in these parts! I’m glad you enjoyed the New Year’s special. It hit all the right notes, for me. I could ask, “Now, why weren’t we given more of that with this Doctor?” (And I did.) But I’m also grateful that we got what we got.

    @dentarthurdent Re: the Doctor not asking the waitress for her name, why didn’t I think of that? It’s a question I often ask of Doctor Who. That’s a big part of why I visit this forum, to get insight from the many smart people here. I agree with @mudlark that it’s possible the Doctor recognized Clara. My own take on it was that the Doctor didn’t recognize Clara, and she knew that. Hence, her eyes welling up as that realization (IMO) set in. But I love the ambiguity that Moffat gives us, letting those of us in the audience decide that for ourselves.

    @janetteb I’m sorry about your awful committee experience. I hope it was a one-off, and the rest of your meetings are productive (as they should be) and not so upsetting.

    @catymcinulty Welcome to the group! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

    syzygy @thane16

    @nerys yes, good to see you! We’re all pretty much experiencing major or minor flooding in Brisbane at the mo. I always complain when we don’t have rain but then moan after 3 days -but it’s been more than a week of solid rain but I’m lucky -we’re on a hill.

    I think it was made abundantly clear the doctor couldn’t recog Clara. the symmetry compared with previous passengers on the Tardis was pointed out there, so to throw that away would lose tension.  @mudlark mentioned it as just out of reach.

    a year or more later, thru Bill, that memory veil was drawn back & he remembered. She was an outline or a tune to him (& the choon had a name)  but she had no face or direct experiences he could recall.
    @arbutus halloooo. I owe a letter!  xxoo

    @mudlark, yes! I had thought the doctor was “embedded” at university also. He seemed at one, at peace: the photos openly on his desk. On the very expansive room- how true, tiny offices in our music dept so cramped, that the prof of piano studies had her 2 baby grands sitting almost on top of one another, so the keys all vibrated when only one was played.

    winston @winston

    @thane16   hi there!  A week of rain can cause a lot of trouble so its good you are on a hill. We live on a creek and have a bit of flooding every spring and every now and then a big flood but we are also up on a hill so we are usually OK. One year the water came up to 4 or 5 feet from the house and it was very tense for awhile. Luckily it receded before it got to our back door . I hope you all stay high and dry. Rain that goes on for days is so depressing, at least for me.

    I always knew that it was the Doctor who lost his memory and so did Clara, that’s why she looks away in tears. That scene is heartbreaking.

    Stay safe.


    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @nerys  @syzygy   @winston   On a first watch through, of course, we don’t know which of them remembers – it’s obvious one or the other of them doesn’t, possibly both – until the reveal of the memory wipe. (This is why one should always watch a Moff episode twice – the second time, with foreknowledge, every word or expression takes on a different nuance). Second time through, with full hindsight: I think the Doctor guessed who Clara might be (from circumstantial evidence – he’s very bright). And was possibly even slightly frustrated that his memory refused to confirm it. Until the end, of course. Clara, of course, knew exactly who the Doctor was. But I think she wasn’t 100% sure how much he remembered. I think both of them were fishing for information.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @nerys Hi. Hopefully things will be fine now and as a positive, the “complaints” have spurred us to start long overdue work on fixing the website and we are now getting our podcasts onto Spotify which will make them far more accessible and hopefully increase our listener base.

    @thane16 Lovely to hear from you and glad that you are on a hill. The scenes we are seeing from Brisbane and northern N.S.W are frightening.



    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @janetteb   Good luck with the website.

    The weather seems to have gone chaotic this year.   The water’s been lovely and warm for swimming, here in Auckland, but what is a good thing for me is I believe very bad for the climate.    So far this year we’ve had record floods in Canterbury, Northland, Wellington, a couple of other places I forget, and most recently on the South Island West Coast (maybe the same storm system that hit Queesnland/NSW), and I happen to be writing a couple of letters to family in Cornwall and I’m having to hope their roofs are still in place after (according to our news) the strongest winds ever recorded in England – 122mph at the Needles (on the western end of the Isle of Wight.   When I was a kid in Hampshire, we could see the Needles across the bay).

    Change of topic – amongst other things, I’m slowly working my way through the old ‘Danger Man’ series with Patrick McGoohan. The first few eps were pretty naff, tbh, with painfully simplistic plots, but by Episode 12 (‘The Sisters’) the scripts were getting watchable. And just about everybody was in them, I keep seeing actors even I recognise, so far I’ve noted Ewen Solon (Lucas in Maigret), Donald Pleasance, Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny), Sam Wanamaker, Richard Wattis, Patrick Troughton who I’m sure I’ve seen in something, Patrick Wymark (John Wilder in The Power Game), John le Mesurier, Warren Mitchell (Alf Garnett), Fenella Fielding, Robert Flemyng, Charles Gray (the narrator in Rocky Horror Picture Show, also Ernst Stavro Blofeld), Mai Zetterling and Barbara Murray. And doubtless a few more I’ve forgotten.   And that’s just Episodes 6 to 12.

    While, of course, leisurely making my way through Dr Who series 10.   But that’s another post.


    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    @dentarthurdent, Have just dragged myself away from looking at awful news about Ukraine in order to put up a robust defence of early “Danger Man”. I loved that show. Still love it. It went through two iterations–the early 30 minute episodes and then the later 50 minute episodes. I would argue that the early ones were better than the later ones (some exceptions, of course). Why? For a start, they managed to pack so much into 30 minutes, that I was always astounded and impressed. I loved the focus on stories set in parts of the post-colonial sites of the British empire. They were in no way nostalgic for the Empire, but, in a popular way, designed for a TV audience, they tried to tell stories that that were surprisingly cosmopolitan for the time.

    The show was the brainchild of Ralph Smart, an Australian who, like so many others at the time, gravitated to London for more opportunities. He was, I think, acutely aware of the impact of the decline of the British empire after WW2, and the rise of independence movements. And that interest is reflected in the show. I could go on, but, in my own outpost of the post-imperial British empire, dinner approaches…


    janetteB @janetteb

    @dentarthurdent Dangerman was before my time but I know many of those names. Barbara Murray is another Who alumni. She was in Black Orchid and, (Dr Who costume trivia) the 18th century gown she wears in that had a second Dr Who outing in Girl in the Fireplace. (Black Orchid is going to be my “pick” for next year’s podcast.

    I hope your relatives in Cornwall still have roofs. The wind must have been frightful there. I am very fond of Cornwall. It always felt a little like going home whenever I visited. I have a lot of Cornish ancestry and a very Cornish name.




    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @blenkinsopthebrave Well, you don’t really need to ‘defend’ Danger Man from me 🙂 After all I did make the effort to download every episode from dailymotion.com. Maybe ‘pretty naff’ was a bit harsh – after all, every series has its ‘Love & Monsters’ 🙂 (Now I expect I’ll get an angry response from a L&M supporter, isn’t that always the way?) Let me backtrack a bit – those very early eps were adequate, none were so bad as to make me stop watching, they held my interest sufficiently to keep going, while thinking “I remembered DM as better than this”. Hopefully I’m now on to the ‘better’.

    In a number of instances, it felt like 25 minutes was too short a time to fully develop the plot – about 22 minutes in, John Drake would be in deep doodoo and we’re wondering how he’s going to get out of it when ‘police rush in’. But I did like the fact that, as the series progressed, it wasn’t always black and white as to who was in the right. It takes some (scriptwriting) nerve to write an episode where, after 50 minutes of intrigue and suspicion, it turns out the whole espionage conspiracy was just some civil servant’s overactive imagination; or where the collateral damage to peoples’ lives greatly exceeds the gains (e.g. That’s Two of us Sorry). (Of course this moral ambiguity and uncertainty reached their peak in The Prisoner, which I will doubtless progress to in due course). And I do like McGoohan’s cynical delivery. None better than in “Ice Station Zebra” where he showed a brilliant ability to deliver a huge chunk of verbiage in an engaging way that, I think, rivalled anything the Moff and Capaldi achieved. “And then the Russians put our camera, made by our German scientists, and your film, made by your German scientists, into their satellite made by their German scientists, and up it went, round and round, whizzing over the United States seven times a day.”

    I must get the DVD!
    I’ve just remembered one other actor who could manage a similar sardonic delivery – Paul Darrow as Avon, in Blakes 7.

    @janetteb I’m not surprised you know many of those names – many of them were at the start of their careers when they appeared as guest stars or minor characters in Danger Man. I expect I’ll encounter many more as I progress through the series.

    Just got an email from one of my relatives in Cornwall – he doesn’t mention house damage but he’s going to have to cut up a lot of trees for firewood – presumably they blew down. I’m half Cornish, but born in Hastings. But as a young teen I lived in Hampshire, so got to visit Hastings or Newquay for holidays. So both those places have special memories for me – as does Bournemouth (I wonder how the pines in the chines fared?) and the New Forest. I get a kind of warm feeling when I think of them.

    Back to reality – it seems it may not be over yet for NSW and south Queensland. We can only hope the rains aren’t as heavy as feared. And here in Auckland, Covid Omicron is well loose – 16,000 new cases I think. Mrs D and I haven’t caught it yet but I guess we probably will sooner or later – we’re both double vaxed + booster, so there’s that. We try and avoid it, I guess the optimum (for us and the country) is if we can avoid it until after the peak which is predicted to happen in a few weeks time.

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    (Well now, here in omicron-infested Auckland – last week Mrs D was babysitting a cousin’s kids, then they later tested positive. So on the strength of that, on Saturday I collected a free box of RAT test kits, I showed negative – which I reckoned probably meant Mrs D was negative also, since if she had it I would surely get it. But just now, she tried it and came back positive. So I just took it and – still negative. (I jeered at Mrs D and she stuck her tongue out at me). We’re supposed to isolate for 10 days, I just tried ordering groceries from our usual supermarket – all deliveries booked out for a week. I managed a booking for click & collect on Thursday, which means I’ll be breaking isolation rules but I hope only nominally so. The rules do let me out for outdoor ‘exercise’ so collecting from a locker with minimal proximity to anyone else should be no worse than that).

    Now, back to Who…  specifically ‘Smile’:

    The smiley robots are terrifying. The idea that you will be killed if you show any signs of fear or unhappiness is just so twisted.

    Calatrava’s architecture is spectacular. I don’t often notice architecture and I’m definitely not a fan of all architects (cough Gehry cough) but when (in 2017) my overnight train from Irun dropped me in Lisbon Oriente station, I looked around and thought “wow!”. But the City of Arts and Sciences leaves that for dead. Nice work, by the way, integrating it by CGI into the surrounding cornfield.

    The fantastic architecture almost distracts attention from the dialogue. Watching twice is indicated.

    And the robots, sorry the cute interfaces, speak Emoji. Trust the Moff to turn an Internet icon sinister.

    So the two of them are talking past each other, the Doc is deducing how the city works while Bill is deducing how the Doc works (‘two hearts?’)

    “You asked me where all the people were, and I theorised that they hadn’t got here yet. Did I sound convincing?” – and if we didn’t already know the truth, those last four words would start an undercurrent of unease. Still shocking when the Doc reveals the contents of the fertiliser store. Gives a new meaning to ‘blood and bone’. People eat plants and plants eat people. Fair enough.

    “Do you know what it means when something chases you very slowly?”
    “It means there’s a reason that they don’t have to run.”

    … and the whole city is built of killer nanobots. This is really quite terrifying.

    There’s a lot of banter. I thought the Doctor was against banter.
    “Why are you Scottish?”
    “I’m not Scottish, I’m just cross.”
    “Is there a Scotland in space?”
    “They’re all over the place, demanding independence from every planet that they land on. ”

    Moff, you naughtyperson – “Beautiful. Fleishman Cold Fusion Engine. All I’ve got to do is back the flow into the calorimeter and run. It’s like it wants to get blown up.” I knew something sounded familiar – ‘In 1989, two electrochemists, Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons, reported that their apparatus had produced anomalous heat (“excess heat”) of a magnitude they asserted would defy explanation except in terms of nuclear processes.’ aka ‘Cold Fusion’. Caused quite a stir at the time, but proved to be, errm, science fiction (sorry ’bout that, couldn’t help it).

    The Doc is still trying to protect his companion, but she’s onto him:
    BILL: (takes shot of map) I can come with you.
    DOCTOR: Took that long to think of photographing it?
    BILL: You’d already memorised it, hadn’t you?
    DOCTOR: Yep.
    BILL: Stop trying to keep me out of trouble.

    Why are these engine control panels always perched on a catwalk over a fearsome drop?

    The Doctor for once is spectacularly wrong – the ship is not a pilot ship, it’s the colony ship. The Doctor’s attempt to cause the engine to detonate is oddly easy to reverse – but that’s not a main point of the story. The tricky problem now is –
    BILL: So what happens now?
    DOCTOR: Now? Now they’re all going to leave this ship, and find their friends and family mulched in the garden. And if they don’t smile about that, it’s going to be the end of the human race.

    And this is really rather frightening – the intelligent Vardi robots, misinterpreting human unhappiness as a Bad Thing (but never having been told the Three Laws of Robotics) quite logically decided to increase happiness by – terminating unhappy people.

    And of course the humans (50% of whom are below average intelligence) think they can shoot the nanobots. That is going to go well. So the Doc presses the reset button (or as Bill puts it, switches them off then on again). And explains to the stroppy colonists that they can just damn well be nice to the Vardi because it’s their city now and the humans are just guests. I really do love the irony.

    Okay, now I’ve got the plot straight in my mind, I’m going to watch it again to appreciate (1) the ‘sets’ -which are real! and (2) the banter.

    winston @winston

    @dentarthurdent  Sorry to hear that omicron has hit NZ so hard. It is all around us here but so far we have dodged it. I hope you  and the Mrs. are not too ill and get through your quarantine unscathed.

    I have not watched Smile often because frankly those little killer bots scare me. They are very creepy especially to those who show every emotion on their faces for everyone to see. I wouldn’t last long there.

    It did have great sets and  all that white also creeps me out. It is way too clean, hospital clean even antiseptic clean. The banter was good in this episode so thanks for reminding me. I am due for a re-watch.

    stay safe

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @winston   I’ve never visited Valencia but I think the City of Arts & Sciences really is that white.   The little white bots match their surroundings quite well.   Reminiscent of the Two Streams facility in The Girl Who Waited (though those were actual sets).   White can certainly be sinister (remember the white Imperial Troopers in Star Wars?)   I’d love to see a ‘making of Smile’ doco and see how they got exclusive access to the ‘city’ to shoot.

    Although Omicron is spreading rapidly here, it only seems alarming by contrast with our previous experience, in which we managed successfully to contain covid to a few scattered outbreaks.  So this is our first real epidemic outbreak.   Compared with overseas epidemics we’re getting off lightly (so far).   Also it definitely seems to be a milder variant than Delta, and we have a pretty high vaccination rate.   So Mrs D’s infection hasn’t yet reached the level of a bad flu attack, and I’m still testing negative, which is odd – it seems the vaccination is working as advertised.   Hope so, anyway.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @dentarthurdent I do hope that Mrs D is ok and that you too are bearing up. Best wishes for you both. I also hope that you have lots of Dr Who to help keep your spirits up during your period of isolation.

    Here we continue to feel like we are playing dodgems with the Covid plague, while the governments adapts an “all is well” approach. they are essentially washing their hands of the problem and hoping the electorate won’t notice. We have a state election coming up with a federal election hot on its heals which means I will be watching a lot of Dr Who this year. (Elections generally depress me.)

    Due to writing matters, podcasting matters and election matters I have not had time to read your comments on Smile but I will. (I always enjoy your “reviews”.)




    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @janetteb Thanks. Mrs D is just about recovered. I’m still testing negative, somehow, but I’ve caught a cold! When I told the nice girl from the Ministry that, she burst out laughing. (The Ministry of Health have a bank of young people who ring everyone ‘isolating at home’ daily to check their symptoms, encourage them to maintain their isolation, offer assistance with grocery deliveries etc if necessary. They’re very pleasant and, while they obviously have a checklist, they haven’t been ordered to stick to a script, so their calls aren’t a hassle). So now I’m still isolating from Mrs D because I don’t want to give her my cold 🙂

    Though the isolation period has just been reduced from 10 days to 7. I can see things getting more relaxed when the Omicron peak is over (and so long as a more deadly variant doesn’t arise, I guess).

    I’ve got plenty of Doctor Who, also the Dirk Gently DVD just arrived, and I’m working my way through Danger Man. From about Episode 17 (Find and Return) the plots started to get interesting, instead of just simple black-and-white good-vs-bad, it’s shades of grey, the ‘good’ side aren’t always good (and don’t always win) and the ‘bad’ side aren’t always bad.   So you don’t know how the episode is going to turn out.

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @blenkinsopthebrave Just a shout out re Danger Man. I think I’ve got to the good episodes now. Find and Return (#17) I particularly liked. It had enough plot for a full movie crammed into 25 minutes, but more importantly, it wasn’t just ‘us good, them bad’. And the plot twists were handled concisely but sufficiently clearly to follow easily. I’d summarise the plot but it would take paragraphs.
    It’s online here: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5accz0



    Missy @missy


    Sorry for delay. *blushes*

    The fact that the ‘hand kissing’ scene was PC’s idea, is what also touched me.



    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    Um,  @missy,  I’m sorry but I don’t recall that scene.   Can you enlighten me?

    Missy @missy

    The farewell scene in Face the Raven. Clara touches the Doctor’s cheek. He takes her hand away and kisses it. That scene.


    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @missy       Fancy me forgetting that!    My only excuse is, so much happened in that scene.   But I’m slightly embarrassed at not remembering that moment.      And I described that scene as ‘one of the best in Doctor Who’, didn’t I?    (Way back 7 weeks ago, but the Internet never forgets   🙂      I still think so, by the way.

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    So I watched Thin Ice  (one surprising flaw with the series 10 DVD’s, nowhere does it say which episodes are on which DVD.   They’re in order of course, but which DVD is Thin Ice on?   Don’t know, just have to try a DVD in the player and find out.  (It’s 2, as it happens).   Never seen that before.)

    Brief impressions –

    I have a slight problem with the scale of the monster (as shown on the Tardis map screen). It’s just too big to ‘hide’ in the Thames (how deep is the Thames at low tide anyway?) How could it ever turn round? Also (to anticipate developments later in the episode), how could a few humans per year be enough to sustain it, or furnish sufficient, um, fuel production? Problems of scale persisted right through the episode.

    I’m quite liking Bill, this time round. The first time, I was suffering from Clara Withdrawal Syndrome, and no new companion could overcome that 🙂 But it’s an injustice to any companions to compare them, and invidious, I think.

    The Doctor’s interrogation of the foreman at the yard is full of double entendres. But I particularly like the idea that the fortunes of Lord Sutcliff are founded on sh*t.

    Um, if this is 1814, Sutcliff would have to own an ironworks, not a steel mill. (In 1814, steel was a limited-production specialty item, used only for swords and the like. Cast iron or wrought iron was the prime engineering metal. Railways did not really get going until 1825 or 1830, with iron (not steel) rails and locomotives. Large-scale mild steel production did not really get going until the Bessemer process c.1860. What held it back was not any lack of heat, but knowledge of the right chemical processes). So Sutcliff’s super (and super cheap) fuel would have helped cheap production of cast iron and wrought iron, but not steel. I think. [/Geek mode]

    So, best watched for the backchat between the Doc and Bill, and don’t look too closely at the world-building.

    Missy @missy


    You see, that’s the trouble with analysis, it tends to spoil the fun of a story.

    Don’t dwell on the logic of the thing, simply enjoy it.

    As son as we met Bill, preferred her to Clara. She had become much too cocky and was beginning to annoy me.

    As for the next series, when oh when will we be rid of JW, she seems to be dragging on and on.

    At my age, I can’t afford  much more waiting for the real Doctor Who to come back….I heard that! *grins*

    My opinion, and probably if they are honest, a few others. *winks*


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