On The Sofa (10)
30 April 2020 at 17:32 #70562
Hey before I proceed, would you prefer I put these in the individual episode threads? Or not do them at all? 🙂
(Rewatching all of post-gap Who with my 11 year old son and now my 6 year old nephew, continued: 3×13)
In parallel we see two the story develop in two places. Aboard the Valiant, Jack and the Joneses scheme, and The Master exposits. The Master’s plan is typical: he’s going to declare war on the Galaxy and establish an empire using 200000 missiles with black hole converters.
On the ground, Martha’s been travelling the Earth. We learn the Toclafane are the desperate humans from Utopia, as she cracks one upon to find Creet’s head (or someone saying Creet’s words). There’s a tidy double bluff, as the audience is led to believe that Docherty has betrayed Martha’s plans to use a four component gun on The Master. I rather fell for it, on first viewing.
When The Doctor is aged 900 years, his shrunken form is somewhat comical rather than horrific: I suppose they spared the youngsters from the body horror.
Does it make sense that the Archangel network, which could hypnotise everyone could everyone to Vote Saxon, could in reverse restore the Doctor’s youth and give him telekinetic powers? Sure, I’m on board. 🙂
The revived Doctor forgives The Master, the Paradox Machine is destroyed, and the events of the last year collapse. Mrs Saxon shoots The Master, and we can’t really feel sorry for her: she signed up for this. But at least no one decent gets the rap for the murder.
The Doctor holds the dying Master in his arms pleading with him to regenerate. He thinks he could have reformed him, that they could be friends again. His loneliness is palpable. Martha says goodbye: her people need her, and she knows she won’t find happiness while traipsing after the Doctor. It’s a solid end to a good season.
My son doesn’t believe the Captain is the Face. Fair enough. I wonder at what point in the development they decided to go that way. It’s not exactly crucial but it’s a fun point.1 May 2020 at 07:43 #70567
A few more things from that three-parter…
The Master offers Lucy a jellybaby.
MASTER: “The Eve of War. Lovely woman.”1 May 2020 at 14:40 #70569Jabru @jabru
Hello all, new here but very interesting having a look around as been a closet fan of the Dr for a long time!
Sorry to jump straight in with some spam but though some of you may appreciate this being brought to your attention…
I make music for a living and have been very lucky to have one of my tracks remixed by legendary electronic music pioneer Paddy Kingsland of the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop!!
The results are nothing short of stunning (including a sample of Paddy talking about making the Tardis sound by sampling his Mum’s front door key!) and and are available now exclusively from my Bandcamp site.
Bandcamp are very generously waiving all fees today so 100% of profits go to artists in these tricky times.
Hope you enjoy this very special one off…2 May 2020 at 03:35 #70571
(Rewatching all of post-gap Who with my 11 year old son and now my 6 year old nephew, continued: 4C)
Voyage of the Damned
It’s a pleasant Christmas episode. The stakes are high but spirits are light. As is often the case, the tension is raised by the fact that the Doctor is separated from the Tardis early in the piece. He saves the day, uppance comes, but we also see him struggle to admit defeat and let Astrid go.
Significantly, we meet Wilf, who points out that London has been evacuated because calamity always strikes at Christmas in London. It was nice to see Clive Swift (from Keeping Up Appearances): this was actually his second Doctor Who role. He appeared in the 6th Doctor story “Revelation Of The Daleks”. We also see Russell Tovey as Alonso Frame: Tovey went on to star in Being Human, which was penned by frequent DW-writer Toby Whithouse. Jimmy Vee plays Bannakaffalatta: he’s had quite a bit of work as aliens on DW. Even Kylie is okay.
My son points out: the hole the stern of the Titanic makes in the Tardis’s interior is bigger than the Tardis’s exterior, so how could this work when viewed from outside.
Because of the 1910s dress and furnishings, the audience could be initially misled into thinking this is the real Titanic. That would have been awkward, since The Master and The Doctor were both on that already…
Some other things:
I thought it was a bit weird that The Doctor said, of Earth, “They don’t have spaceships.”
The Heavenly Hosts reminded me of the VOC robots from the old “Robots of Death”.
Astrid is an anagram of Tardis.
The events of this episode are crucial to a later episode, “Turn Left”.
I worry about the economics. The Doctor says that a million pounds is about 50 million credits. But Foon and Morvin say that they’ll never be able to pay off 5000 credits … which is 100 pounds.
HOST: Information. You are all going to die.
ASTRID: Saved you some. You might be a Time King from Gaddabee but you need to eat.
DOCTOR: Yeah, thanks.
ASTRID: So, you look good for nine hundred and three.
DOCTOR: You should see me in the mornings.
COPPER: So, Great Britain is part of Europey, and just across the British Channel, you’ve got Great France and Great Germany.
DOCTOR: No, no, it’s just, it’s just France and Germany. Only Britain is Great.
COPPER: Oh, and they’re all at war with the continent of Ham Erica.
DOCTOR: No. Well, not yet. Er, could argue that one.
DOCTOR: Security protocol ten. Six six six. Er, twenty one! four, five, six, seven, eight! I don’t know, forty two? Er, one!
HOST: Information.2 May 2020 at 03:39 #70572blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave
Just wanted to say that I am really enjoying your reflections (and your son’s) on the episodes.
And the quotes..!2 May 2020 at 04:15 #70574janetteB @janetteb
I too am enjoying these reviews. Always nice to have an impetus to talk about “Who” and is nice to recall past episodes. Your work on these is appreciated.
Janette3 May 2020 at 14:35 #70583
(Rewatching all of post-gap Who with my 11 year old son and now my 6 year old nephew, continued: 4×1 and 4×2)
Partners in Crime
Donna’s back! And don’t we just love her. My favourite companion.
Even by DW standards, blobs of fat peeling off a person and brought to life is a pretty wacky concept, and the body horror is only ameliorated by the cuteness of the Adiposes.
Donna has been looking for The Doctor by investigating paranormal and alien activity. She’s a little bit like Sarah Jane in this regard. Being stuck on Earth is a bit samey: even if you’re not back at home with Sylvia. Granddad Wilf is into alien spacecraft but Donna has not told him that she’s been in one.
The mimed conversation between The Doctor and Donna, and the realisation that Foster has watched the whole thing, is still comedy gold. The kids cracked right up.
The Doctor shows mercy to the baby Adiposes, and Donna mentions that this is a change. He even tries to save Foster but she doesn’t realise she’s in danger. After the Adiposes turn off the beam, she takes a few seconds to fall, like a cartoon character who has stepped off a cliff.
Donna has a stack of luggage to take on to the Tardis. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone remember to taken anything on board at all. She complains about the temperature inside.
The major kapow shot of the episode, though, is the baffling return of Rose.
The missing bees, crucial to The Stolen Earth, get a mention. The Adipose breeding planet, Adipose 3, is also missing…
Foster has a sonic pen, so this is not solely Time Lord tech.
ROGER: It was here when I bought the house. I’ve never bothered with it, really. I’m not a cat person.
DOCTOR: No, I’ve met cat people. You’re nothing like them.
DONNA: That Martha must’ve done you good.
DOCTOR: She did, yeah. Yeah. She did. She fancied me.
DONNA: Mad Martha, that one. Blind Martha. Charity Martha.
DONNA: But you asked me. Would you rather be on your own?
DOCTOR: No. Actually, no. But the last time, with Martha, like I said, it, it got complicated. And that was all my fault. I just want a mate.
DONNA: You just want to mate?
DOCTOR: I just want a mate!
DONNA: You’re not mating with me, sunshine!
DOCTOR: A mate. I want a mate.
DONNA: Well, just as well, because I’m not having any of that nonsense. I mean, you’re just a long streak of nothing. You know, alien nothing.
DOCTOR: There we are, then. Okay.
DONNA: I can come?
DOCTOR: Yeah. Course you can, yeah. I’d love it.
Fires of Pompeii
Poigant and fun episode.
The augur can tell The Doctor is from Gallifrey and that “She is returning”. We know who “she” is but The Doctor doesn’t. He also knows that Donna has something on her back: the audience at this stage has no idea what the augur is on about.
The Doctor has to choose between the destruction of the Earth and the death of 20000 people. It’s a faint echo of that time he had to choose between the destruction of the Universe and a double genocide. Donna learns its not so easy having the power. She talks him into saving one family. It’s a lesson: he can’t do everything, but sometimes he can do a little, even if only for his own sake.
There’s a pleasant running gag wherein Donna or The Doctor speak Latin but it is heard as Celtic. We also encounter their first emphatic denial that they are a couple: this is done for comedic effect throughout this season.
Karen Gillan is in this episode! She plays the soothsayer who reports The Doctor’s arrival to Spurrina. She’s got ceremonial make-up on and she uses an English accent so I think they got away with it: not many people would have remembered her from this role.
Peter Capaldi of course plays Caecilius and they DIDN’T try to get away with that, but instead made it a significant development that the 12th Doctor chose Caecilius’s face. (Why he looks exactly like John Frobisher from Torchwood, I’ll never know).
EVELINA: Even the word Doctor is false. Your real name is hidden. It burns in the stars, in the Cascade of Medusa herself. You are a Lord, sir. A Lord of Time.
DONNA: What, and you’re in charge?
DOCTOR: Tardis, Time Lord, yeah.
DONNA: Donna, human, no
DONNA: You can’t just leave them!
DOCTOR: Don’t you think I’ve done enough? History’s back in place and everyone dies.
DONNA: You’ve got to go back. Doctor, I am telling you, take this thing back. It’s not fair.
DOCTOR: No, it’s not.
DONNA: But your own planet. It burned.
DOCTOR: That’s just it. Don’t you see, Donna? Can’t you understand? If I could go back and save them, then I would. But I can’t. I can never go back. I can’t. I just can’t, I can’t.
DONNA: Just someone. Please. Not the whole town. Just save someone.6 May 2020 at 17:46 #70602
(Rewatching all of post-gap Who with my 11 year old son and now my 6 year old nephew, continued: 4×3 to 4×5)
Planet of the Ood
This is one of my favourite episodes. The moral problems of Ood slavery introduced in The Impossible Planet are addressed. Donna develops, gets to see more of the tough calls the Doctor has to make.
We meet Ood Sigma, who plays a role in events later in this series. He tells the Doctor, “I think your song must end soon.”
The fact that Sigma was poisoning Halpen was well flagged, but his Oodination was a nice turn. Donna’s reaction was more of moral confusion, rather than disgust.
The Ood speak of the Doctor-Donna, a callforward to Journey’s End.
The Doctor draws some parallels between the Ood slaves and the way the economy works on Earth: “Who do you think made your clothes?”
Tim McInnerny plays Halpen: I recognise Tim from Blackadder, Richard III, Notting Hill, and well lots of stuff.
Solana is played Ayesha Dharker, who was Queen Jamillia in Attack of the Clones.
I wonder about how the Ood could possibly have evolved. Are there several Ood Brains, one for each community? Are there males and females? Aren’t the slave Oods still irreparably lobotomised? So many questions.
The events of The Impossible Planet occur a long time _after_ this episode. Some kind of paradox fuel there.
The Homer Simpson “Doh” sound was a bit too corny for me but it got a big laugh from the kids. Kess chasing The Doctor around with the giant claw crane was also funny.
SOLANA: Now then, Doctor Noble, Mrs Noble, if you’d like to come with me.
DOCTOR: Oh, no, no, no, no. We’re not married.
DONNA: We’re so not married.
DONNA: Never ever.
DONNA: Rocket. Blimey, a real proper rocket. Now that’s what I call a spaceship. You’ve got a box, he’s got a Ferrari. Come on, lets go see where he’s going.
SIGMA: He has become Oodkind, and we will take care of him.
DONNA: It’s weird, being with you. I can’t tell what’s right and what’s wrong any more.
DOCTOR: It’s better that way. People who know for certain tend to be like Mister Halpen.
The Sontaran Stratagem/Poison Sky
Hey, Martha’s Back! And so is Rose for like four frames.
But also, the Sontarans are back! They creeped me one hundred percent of the way out when I was a child. Their plan here is suitably terrible, altering Earth to be a clone-building planet.
Quite a bit is made of The Doctor’s dislike for salutes, for weapons, for giving orders. When push comes to shove, though, he barks orders as though he was born to it, and is prepared to use a weapon to destroy the Sontaran vessel. But rather than put it on a timer, he chooses to put himself at risk, because he has to give the Sontarans a choice. He’s rather stalemated by the fact that the Sontaran’s think nothing of death, and indeed welcome the glory of death in combat.
Donna and Martha connect well, and Donna is glad that Martha has moved on: she’s sporting an engagement ring. Martha tells Donna to stay close to her family, and gives her a warning about The Doctor: “Stand too close and people get burnt.”
Donna accuses The Doctor of turning Martha into a weapon: a callforward to the events of Journey’s End. He also weaponises Donna in this story.
They should really do something about the probic vent … put a cover on it or something.
Unless I’m quite mistaken, this story contained the first reference in post-gap Doctor Who to the Brigadier.
Dan Starkey plays Skorr: he later had a regular gig playing Strax.
Christopher Ryan, who played Mike on The Young Ones, plays Staal.
Eleanor Matsuura plays Jo. She wet on to have a main role in The Walking Dead.
The UNIT deathcount in this story is probably higher than in any other DW story. They are just mown down: even the converted Harris and Grey are unceremoniously shot when reporting for duty. They should really give them some armour.
The Doctor refers to Dona Nobis Pacem (“Give us Peace”).
The Sontarans’ war with Rutans is mentioned. We’ve still only seen them on screen once, in Horror Of Fang Rock.
Cloned Martha doesn’t last long.
DONNA: I’m not coming with you. I’ve been thinking. I’m sorry. I’m going home.
DONNA: I’ve got to.
DOCTOR: Oh, if that’s what you want. I mean, it’s a bit soon. I had so many places I had wanted to take you. The Fifteenth Broken Moon of the Medusa Cascade, the Lightning Skies of Cotter Palluni’s World, Diamond Coral Reefs of Kataa Flo Ko. Thank you. Thank you, Donna Noble, it’s been brilliant. You’ve, you’ve saved my life in so many ways. You’re … you’re just popping home for a visit, that’s what you mean.
STAAL: There was no Planetfall. Castor Thirty Six, indeed. We only needed you for installation of the ATMOS system.
RATTIGAN: No, but I’m on your side. I did everything you wanted. And it’s not ATMOS system! That’s a tautology. It’s just ATMOS!
DOCTOR: Should be a switch by the side.
DONNA: Yeah there is. But it’s Sontaran shaped, you need three fingers.
DOCTOR: You’ve got three fingers.
DONNA: Oh, yeah.
MACE: Latest firing stock. What do you think, Doctor?
DOCTOR (in a gas mask): Are you my mummy?
DOCTOR: You might as well have worn a T shirt saying clone. Although, maybe not in front of Captain Jack.
————–6 May 2020 at 23:47 #70608Craig @craigEmperor7 May 2020 at 15:15 #70615
(Rewatching all of post-gap Who with my 11 year old son and now my 6 year old nephew, continued: 4×6)
The Doctor’s Daughter
The previews at the end of The Poison Sky made sure to show The Doctor saying “She’s my daughter”. Come on, we knew it wouldn’t be that simple…
This is one of those episodes where The Doctor’s Wife takes The Doctor somewhere he needs to be rather than where he wants to go.
There are two stories: the Doctor dealing with his insta-child, and the story of the Hath/Human war. The war story is a clever one and not one that I’ve seen on screen before: a 7 day war of hundreds of generations with none of the original combatants surviving. The Jenny story gives us an opportunity to see The Doctor talk about his family. It would be very nice if we could get some stories about that family, other than Susan. Donna’s wisdom and kindness towards our hero warm the episode, while Martha cares for the injured Hath despite how extremely alien they are.
Jenny is biologically a Gallifreyan, but not culturally, apart from the skerrick of lore that The Doctor had time to impart. I thought it was a bit awkward that it was The Doctor who mentioned that she was “too much like him”, seemed a bit boastful. Perhaps Donna should have said it.
So the Source will terraform Messaline. Pretty clearly, it can’t be terraformed to suit both humans and the Hath, who breathe some kind of liquid.
So why didn’t the Tardis trickery translate Hath for Martha? Eventually she appeared to understand but not initially. Even then … the Tardis wasn’t good enough to translate for us, the audience.
I dare say literally everyone on this forum knows about Georgia Tennant, who plays the Doctor’s daughter, but for completeness…
She is the daughter of 4th Doctor actor Peter Davison, and actress Sandra Dickinson, whom you may know from Hitchhiker’s Guide. After the filming of this episode in 2007 she and David Tennant began a relationship and married in 2011. One their kids is called Wilf! To be descended from two Doctors would be a treat.
Her first Doctor Who work, however, was back in 2000, when she voiced characters for the Big Finish stories Red Dawn and City of Spires. Georgia had auditioned to play Rose, and also auditioned for a role in The Unicorn And The Wasp before being cast as Jenny. She produced The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, did voicework for the animated DW Dreamland series, and has since done a fair bit of voice acting for Big Finish, both as Jenny and as other characters.
The militaristic Cobb was played by the late Nigel Kerry, quite a storied veteran of British television. He also played King Arthur in the 1981 film Excalibur, alongside Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, Helen Mirren, Patrick Stewart and Corin Redgrave, quite a line-up.
It’s a little bit poignant, in retrospect, when The Doctor says the Dictionary entry for Genocide has a picture of him.
DOCTOR: Hang on, hang on. A second ago it was peace in our time. Now you’re talking about genocide.
COBB: For us, that means the same thing.
DOCTOR: Then you need to get yourself a better dictionary. When you do, look up genocide. You’ll see a little picture of me there, and the caption will read, over my dead body.
COBB: Take them. I won’t have them spreading treason. And if you try anything, Doctor, I’ll see that your woman dies first.
DOCTOR: No, we’re, we’re not a couple.
DONNA: I am not his woman.
DOCTOR: That’s why we need to get out of here, find Martha and stop Cobb from slaughtering the Hath. What, what are you, what are you, what are you staring at?
JENNY: You keep insisting you’re not a soldier, but look at you, drawing up strategies like a proper general.
DOCTOR: No, no. I’m trying to stop the fighting.
JENNY: Isn’t every soldier?
JENNY: What’s a Time Lord?
DOCTOR: It’s who I am. It’s where I’m from.
JENNY: And I’m from you.
DOCTOR: You’re an echo, that’s all. A Time Lord is so much more. A sum of knowledge, a code, a shared history, a shared suffering. Only it’s gone now, all of it. Gone forever.
DONNA: Let me distract this one. I have picked up a few womanly wiles over the years.
DOCTOR: Let’s save your wiles for later. In case of emergency.
MARTHA: I knew you couldn’t resist it.
HATH PECK: Bubble bubble bubble.
DONNA: Oh, I know that look. I see it a lot round our way. Blokes with pushchairs and frowns. You’ve got dad-shock.
DONNA: Sudden unexpected fatherhood. Take a bit of getting used to.
DOCTOR: No, it’s not that.
DONNA: Well, what is it then? Having Jenny in the Tardis, is that it? What’s she going to do, cramp your style? Like you’ve got a sports car and she’s going to turn it into a people-carrier?
DOCTOR: Donna, I’ve been a father before.
DOCTOR: I lost all that a long time ago, along with everything else.
DONNA: I’m sorry. I didn’t know. Why didn’t you tell me? You talk all the time, but you don’t say anything.
DOCTOR: I know. I’m just. When I look at her now, I can see them. The hole they left, all the pain that filled it. I just don’t know if I can face that every day.
DONNA: It won’t stay like that. She’ll help you. We both will.
DOCTOR: But when they died, that part of me died with them. It’ll never come back. Not now.
DONNA: I tell you something, Doctor. Something I’ve never told you before. I think you’re wrong.
MARTHA: There’s no sign, Doctor. There is no regeneration. She’s like you, but maybe not enough.
DOCTOR: No. Too much. That’s the truth of it. She was too much like me.9 May 2020 at 11:42 #70618
(Rewatching all of post-gap Who with my 11 year old son and now my 6 year old nephew, continued: 4×7)
The Unicorn and the Wasp
A fun and somewhat silly story with plenty of humour. A bit of a breather before we head to the Library I suppose.
It does read a bit like a Christie novel: the characters are a little thinly drawn and somewhat stereotypical. The cockney Unicorn is way over the top: “Oh, all right then. It’s a fair cop. Yes, I’m the bleeding Unicorn.” Titles of Christie’s novels are mentioned (published before and after the events of this story) are mentioned throughout the episode, by the by.
I thought it was a bit funny that they seemed to imply Christie was unaware of her popularity. “People never stop reading them. She is the best selling novelist of all time”, “But she never knew.” She was tremendously successful during her lifetime.
My son made several guesses as the culprit’s identity, all incorrect.
Always nice to see Felicity Kendal.
Doctor/Donna play all the hits.
DONNA: Good afternoon, my lady. Topping day, what? Spiffing. Top hole.
DOCTOR: No, no, no, no, no. No, don’t do that. Don’t.
AGATHA: You make a rather unusual couple.
DOCTOR: Oh, no, no, no, no. We’re not married.
DONNA: We’re not a couple.
GOLIGHTLY: As the Christian Fathers taught me, we must forgive them their trespasses. Quite literally.
ROGER: Some of these young boys deserve a descent thrashing.
DAVENPORT: Couldn’t agree more, sir.
DONNA: Typical. All the decent men are on the other bus.
DOCTOR: Or Time Lords.
AGATHA: Agatha Christie.
DONNA: What about her?
AGATHA: That’s me.
DONNA: No. You’re kidding.
AGATHA: Can we return to sanity? There are no such things as giant wasps.
DOCTOR: Exactly. So, the question is, what’s it doing here?
DOCTOR (having been poisoned): I need a shock.
DONNA: Right then. Big shock coming up. (She kisses him, smoke comes out of his mouth)
DOCTOR: Detox. Oh my. I must do that more often. I mean, the detox.9 May 2020 at 16:11 #70619
The idiot is back on a Doctor Who forum again!
I know, I can hear you all groaning. I’m still an overly-enthusiastic optimist, but I’ll try to behave myself this time. Promise.10 May 2020 at 08:45 #70622janetteB @janetteb
@davros These are some of my favourite Dr Who episodes. Recently I went through and did a rating for every season of AG Who. This series got the top score as there is barely a dud episode. It was nice to have Martha return and not be pining for the Doctor and was nice to see the friendship between Martha and Donna. Always good to see Wilf and Jenny was a fun character. The stories are all good. The Doctor’s Daughter episode reminds me a little of the BG , Tom Baker story, The Face of Evil.
Janette10 May 2020 at 11:25 #70626
The Doctor’s Daughter episode reminds me a little of the BG , Tom Baker story, The Face of Evil.
The Doctor’s Daughter is so underrated. I really like that one, and how Jenny’s soldier attributes challenge the Doctor’s moral beliefs.11 May 2020 at 10:36 #70643
@janetteb Yes, The Face Of Evil was a fine story, one of those that I remember most clearly from my childhood.
(Rewatching all of post-gap Who with my 11 year old son and now my 6 year old nephew, continued: 4×8 and 4×9)
Silence In the Library/Forest of the Dead
This is well and truly one of my favourite DW stories. Great sci-fi concepts, funny, emotional, strong characters, sets up the future … it’s got it all, ticks all the boxes.
Alex Kingston’s performance is just beautiful, and her death scene is brilliantly effected.
The story introduces five clever science fiction concepts. An ordinary quality DW episode could be built around any one of these five, but bringing in all four and linking them makes this a rich and extraordinary story.
1/ Time-travellers meeting in reverse orderNow, Moffatt didn’t invent this idea, and nor did Audrey Niffenegger (author of The Time Traveller’s Wife), but the slow release of information in this story is pleasing: River’s realisation that he doesn’t know who she is, her understanding that he went through their whole relationship having already seen her death, and instructing him not to change any of it, even to save her life. This is the first time we see one of the diaries they use to track each other. Spoilers! She knows Donna’s future as well. It also established the trend of The Doctor coming to River’s aid no matter where or when she is.
2/ The Vashta Nerada Shadows that can strip meat to the bare bone in under a second. Sentient fresh-eating shadows that hatched from spores in a million million books in one library: not every shadow, but any shadow, so count yours. The Doctor even negotiates with one via the neural relay, see below. A hungry shadow driving a skeleton in a spacesuit and speaking via a man’s electronic ghost: if that’s not spooky enough for you then Lord help you.
3/ CAL, the computer who is a little girlCharlotte Abigail Lux, Strackman’s aunt, died when she was very young. Her family transferred her consciousness to the Command Node of the biggest library in existence so that she could continue to enjoy books, continuing to experience life as a little girl, with Doctor Moon (an actual moon, manifesting to her as a doctor) watching over her and the library. She tried to teleport 4000 people when the Vashta Nerada were detected but there was nowhere to safely teleport them to, so she “saved” them to her hard drive. To the Doctor and Donna, she appears as a wooden sphere with an LED readout.
4/ The neural relayThe purpose of these is to send thoughtmails, but they have the side-effect of retaining someone’s consciousness for a while after they die. Listening to them wind down is saddening. “Don’t tell the others, they’ll only laugh” repeats Evangelista’s ghost, as the others look guilty. The suits of shambling skeletons repeat the thoughts of dying team members. Crucially, The Doctor has previously, or um in the future, put one in River’s sonic screwdriver.
5/ CAL’s virtual world Obviously, a virtual world is not exactly a novel concept but it’s nicely done here. All the children are copies of one boy and girl, to save space. Donna doesn’t deal with it well. Evangelista is deformed due to transcription errors. After all of the library staff are saved, The Doctor finally saves River there with some of her deceased crew.
I haven’t even included the interfaces using real faces but that’s also pretty eerie. My boy first watched this story when he was four and for a while afterwards he would recite that part of the script. “Donna Noble has left the library. Donna Noble has been saved.” “Hey, who turned out the lights?” “Donna Noble has left the library. Donna Noble has been saved.” “Hey, who turned out the lights?” A-grade cliffhanger. I mean we didn’t really think Donna was dead, right? They wouldn’t just pole-axe a companion mid-season…
River whispers The Doctor’s name. Sadly, we never saw this paid off, never saw the moment or circumstance in which he told it to her (barring the Wedding Of River Song fake-out). The build up that The Doctor gives it in this episode made it seem as though it would play a momentous part of a future story. I suppose we can guess that it took place some time during their stay on Darillium.
Donna’s CAL-world husband was a real man, with a real speach impediment, which prevents him from calling out to her, just for a smidge extra pathos.
River has a Squareness Gun. The only other person who is seen to have one in DW is Captain Jack Harkness. She does not, however, have her Vortex Manipulator.
Evangelista was plays by Talulah Riley, who went on to have a regular role on Westworld. She also married and divorce Elon Musk a couple of times. Colin Salmon, who plays Doctor Moon, I mostly know from the old Bond films but he has a great unctuous voice. Mark Dexter plays Cal’s dad: he later played Charles Babbage in Spyfall Part 2. I’ve only just discovered that one of the library’s Node faces is played by Josh Dallas, who plays Prince Charming in Once Upon A Time, and Fandral in Thor. The comedian Steve Pemberton plays Lux: so that’s three members of the League Of Gentlemen that have been in Who (the others being Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith). Other Dave (O.T.Fagbenle) is now a regular on Handmaid’s Tail.
Well the whole thing but especially…
DOCTOR: We’re near the equator, so this must be biographies. I love biographies.
DONNA: Yeah, very you. Always a death at the end.
DOCTOR: You need a good death. Without death, there’d only be comedies. Dying gives us size. (Donna picks up a book.) Wahay, spoilers.
DOCTOR: These books are from your future. You don’t want to read ahead. Spoil all the surprises. Like peeking at the end.
DONNA: Isn’t travelling with you one big spoiler?
DOCTOR: I try to keep you away from major plot developments. Which, to be honest, I seem to be very bad at, because you know what? This is the biggest library in the universe. So where is everyone? It’s silent.
DONNA: So, We weren’t just in the neighbourhood.
DOCTOR: Yeah, I kind of, sort of lied a bit. I got a message on the psychic paper. What do you think? Cry for help?
DONNA: Cry for help with a kiss?
DOCTOR: Oh, we’ve all done that.
DOCTOR: Oh, you’re not, are you? Tell me you’re not archaeologists.
RIVER: Got a problem with archaeologists?
DOCTOR: I’m a time traveller. I point and laugh at archaeologists.
LUX: Professor Song, why am I the only one wearing my helmet?
RIVER: I don’t fancy you.
EVANGELISTA: I’m a moron, me. My dad said I have the IQ of plankton, and I was pleased.
DONNA: See, that’s funny.
EVANGELISTA: No, no, I really was pleased. Is that funny?
DONNA: No, no.
RIVER: Pretty boy. With me, I said.
DOCTOR: Oh, I’m pretty boy?
DONNA: Yes. Ooo, that came out a bit quick.
MOON: Now, listen. This is important. There’s the real world, and there’s the world of nightmares. That’s right, isn’t it? You understand that?
GIRL: Yes, I know, Doctor Moon.
MOON: What I want you to remember is this, and I know it’s hard. The real world is a lie, and your nightmares are real. The library is real. There are people trapped in there, people who need to be saved. The shadows are moving again. Those people are depending on you. Only you can save them. Only you.
RIVER: So what do we do?
DOCTOR: Daleks, aim for the eyestalk. Sontarans, back of the neck. Vashta Nerada? Run. Just run.
DOCTOR: Yeah, but we’re safe anyway.
DONNA: How are we safe?
DOCTOR: We’re not. That was a clever lie to shut you up.
DONNA: You don’t have a suit, so you’re in just as much danger as I am and I’m not leaving you
DOCTOR: Donna, let me explain. (He teleports Donna.) Oh, that’s how you do it.
DONNA: So this isn’t the real me? This isn’t my real body? I’ve been dieting!
ELLA: Mummy, Joshua and me, we’re not real, are we? DONNA: Of course you’re real. You’re as real as anything. Why do you say that?
JOSHUA: But, Mummy, sometimes, when you’re not here, it’s like we’re not here.
ELLA: Even when you close your eyes, we just stop.
DOCTOR: Don’t play games with me. You just killed someone I liked. That is not a safe place to stand. I’m the Doctor, and you’re in the biggest library in the universe. Look me up.
DONNA: I made up the perfect man. Gorgeous, adores me, and hardly able to speak a word. What’s that say about me?
DOCTOR: Everything. Sorry, did I say everything? I meant to say nothing. I was aiming for nothing. I accidentally said everything.
DONNA: What about you? Are you all right?
DOCTOR: I’m always all right.
DONNA: Is all right special Time Lord code for really not all right at all?
DONNA: Because I’m all right, too.11 May 2020 at 14:33 #70644
(Rewatching all of post-gap Who with my 11 year old son and now my 6 year old nephew, continued: 4×10)
A little episode, wedged between the grand Vashta Nerada story and the explosive Keep Left.
On the board, in comments sections, I often see this referred to as a poor episode, but that’s not how I see it. There are no onscreen monsters, no grand sets, just The Doctor and a bunch of people stuck on a bus, but the tension is hard to bear and we see The Doctor in a fresh context.
The confined space and mysterious external attack were scary enough for the kids. When Sky was faced away from us and all attention turned to her, he put one hand in front of his face so he could filter the action. When she turned around he said, “oh she’s okay”, and then half a minute later, “no she’s not” and the hand went back up. Sky’s simultaneous mimicking is unnerving as heck.
We also see The Doctor in real danger of being killed by a group of ordinary people. He always barges in and starts acting like he is in charge, treating everyone like idiots, and usually people just go along with it, but this time he’s antagonised them _and_ he’s said he’s going to stop them from taking action.
The thing is: The Doctor was completely wrong in this situation, and everyone else was right: Sky was gone, the monster was in her body, and the safest course of action was to kick her out. If they’d done that, there would have been three people dead instead of four. The nameless Hostess was the one smart enough to work out that the critter was still in Sky, and she had to sacrifice herself to save The Doctor. Had it been up to him, the lifeform might have taken out the whole colony.
It is implied that The Doctor knew that this wasn’t Mrs Silvestry any more: he was just curious because “for all we know that’s a brand new life form over there”. We know from prior form that he’s often happy to risk human lives in order to satisfy his curiosity. Even back in The Dead Planet (1963) he made up a bogus excuse just to force his companions to travel to an unknown and weird-looking city.
David Troughton, son of 2nd Doctor Patrick Troughton, plays Professor Hobbes. Sky is played by Lesley Sharp, quite a noted British Actress who has been in the business 50 years or more: you might have seen her in The Full Monty. Colin Morgan who plays young Jethro is well-known for Merlin, and has also been in The Fall and Humans. Duane Henry, who has an onscreen minute as Mechanic Claude, had a regular role in NCIS. The Hostess is played by Rakie Ayola, whom I’ve seen on Shetland.
Donna is only in this for a couple of minutes. This Donna-lite ep is balanced by the Doctor-lite ep that comes up next. We get another couple of seconds of Rose on screen.
We get another reference to another lost planet: Poosh.
Some excellent use of incidental music here.
They don’t believe his name is John Smith. Biff even says, “No one’s called John Smith.” It’s actually a very common name … as you’d expect. There are scores of notable people called John Smith: one of them led the Labour party. One of them was the CEO of BBC Worldwide at the time this episode was made.
DOCTOR AND SKY TOGETHER: Are you Sky? Is Sky still in there? Mrs Silvestry? You know exactly what I’m going to say. How are you doing that? Roast beef. Bananas. The Medusa Cascade. Bang! Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Tardis. Shamble bobble dibble dooble. Oh, Doctor, you’re so handsome. Yes, I am, thank you. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O.
DOCTOR AND SKY TOGETHER: I’m just travelling. I’m a traveller, that’s all.
VAL AND SKY TOGETHER: Like an immigrant?
DOCTOR: Molto bene.
DONNA: Molto bene.
DOCTOR: No, don’t do that. Don’t. Don’t.11 May 2020 at 15:44 #70645
@davros Great review! As a kid in 2008, Silence In The Library/Forest of the Dead absolutely terrified me. I couldn’t step in shadows for weeks; I had to jump over them.13 May 2020 at 06:02 #70653
(Rewatching all of post-gap Who with my 11 year old son and now my 6 year old nephew, continued: 4×11)
A very pleasing Donna-focused episode. What-ifs are always fun.
Of course the “fun” in this ep is everything going to hell quickly. Real world events in the past few years have been so weird and perversely terrible that some commentators have compared things to “The Sound Of Thunder” but for me, things are more like “Turn Left”.
We get to see Donna as she was before The Doctor: selfish, shallow. She’s emotionally destroyed by the calamities: the flying web of the Racnoss, the deaths of 2000 people at the hospital, the wipeout of London by the Titanic, their refugee life in Leeds, the USA being turned into Adipose, the ATMOS, the stars going out. Wilf still has the gumption to stay angry, but Sylvia has given up completely, seems to be waiting for death. She lies on their camp beds, naming all the people she can remember who have now died.
The Augur’s “There’s something on your back” is paid off. “¡Tienes algo en tu espalda!” Spooky.
The impending disaster is affecting all parallel universes. I don’t think they ever adequately explain how the Daleks got that tech. Rose is working with UNIT but they’ve really only half an idea what they are doing. We meet Captain Magambo for the first time. We also briefly see Private Harris (who was a key character in Sontaran Stratagem/Poison Sky).
Despite the Doctor’s absence, Donna grows less selfish as the episode goes on, to the point that she sacrifices herself to save the world.
The episode successfully makes us care about Rocco Colasanto despite only a few minutes of screen time. Rocco and Wilf saluting each other, teary-eyed, is genuinely moving.
It doesn’t mean much to Donna, but as the news rolls on, we learn of the deaths of Sarah Jane Smith, Luke, Maria, Clyde, Martha Jones, Ianto Jones and Gwen Cooper, all fighting the fights that the Doctor would normally be there for. Captain Jack is not dead of course but he’s on Sontar, no doubt having a bad time.
The beetle on Donna’s back was part of the Trickster’s brigade, and this is the only mention of this organisation in Doctor Who proper. In Torchwood, the Trickster’s brigade planned to arrange matters such that Nazis win WW2. In the Sarah Jane Adventures, the Trickster arranges a childhood death for Sarah Jane, and also arranged a marriage between her and a man who ought to have been dead.
There was something wrong with Billie Piper’s voice in the first half of the episode: sounded slurred or something. Not sure what was up with that.
There was another reference to the bees disappearing.
“Merry Xmas Everybody” by Slade plays. This song has (as of 2020) been used in six Doctor Who episodes, for some reason.
The fortune-teller on Shan Shen is played by Chipo Chung, whom I discussed in my notes for “Utopia”. Rocco Colasanto is played by Joseph Long, who would later play the Pope in “Extremis”.
WOMAN: Used to be a nice little family, number twenty nine. They missed one mortgage payment. Just one. They got booted out. All for you lot.
DONNA: Don’t get all chippy with me, Vera Duckworth. Pop your clogs on and go and feed whippets.
WILF: Sweetheart, come on. You’re not going to make the world any better by shouting at it.
DONNA: I can try.
ROCCO: We’ve been here for eight weeks already. I had a nice little paper shop in Shepherd’s Bush. All gone now. So, upstairs, we have Merchandani family. Seven of them. Good family. Good kids. Except that one. You be careful of him. I’s a joking! Where’s that smile, eh? Rocco Colasanto. I’m here with my wife and her sister and her husband and their kids and their daughter’s kids. We’ve got the front room. My mother, she’s got the back room. She’s old. You forgive, eh?. And this? This is you. This is your palazzo. (Shows them the kitchen which is their new home)
SYLVIA: What do you mean, this is us?
ROCCO: You live here.
DONNA: We’re living in the kitchen?
ROCCO: You got camp beds. You got the cooker, you keep warm. You got the fridge, you keep cool. Is good, eh?
SYLVIA: What about the bathroom?
ROCCO: Nobody lives in the bathroom.
DONNA: Now listen, Mussolini! I am telling you for the last time to button it! If I hear one more sea shanty…
(Rocco moves and we see Wilf is the ringleader)
WILF: I always loved a sing song.
ROCCO: And you! I’m going to miss you most of all. All flame-haired and firey.
DONNA: Oh, but why do you have to go?
ROCCO: It’s the new law. England for the English, et cetera. They can’t send us home. The oceans are closed! They build labour camps.
DONNA: I know, but labour doing what? There aren’t any jobs.
ROCCO: Sewing, digging. Is good. Now, stop it before I kiss you too much. (Rocco kisses Donna on the cheeks.)
ROCCO: Wilfred. My capitano. (Rocco and Wilf salute each other. Rocco gets on the truck with the others.)
DONNA: It’ll be quiet with him gone. Still, we’ll have more room.
WILF: Labour camps. That’s what they called them last time.
DONNA: What do you mean?
WILF: It’s happening again.
DONNA: What is? Excuse me? Excuse me, where are you taking them? (She chases the truck). Where are you going? Rocco, where are you going? Where are you going? Where are you going?
ROSE: Good luck.
DONNA: I’m ready.
ROSE: One minute past ten.
DONNA: Because I understand now. You said I was going to die, but you mean this whole world is going to blink out of existence. But that’s not dying, because a better world takes its place. The Doctor’s world. And I’m still alive. That’s right, isn’t it? I don’t die. If I change things, I don’t die. That’s that’s right, isn’t it?
ROSE: I’m sorry.
DONNA: But I can’t die. I’ve got a future. With the Doctor. You told me!
MAGAMBO: Activate!13 May 2020 at 09:52 #70657
@davros Captain Jack on Sontar is a fun thing to imagine. We need that as a Big Finish audio!14 May 2020 at 19:32 #70666
@dalekbuster523 It’s been pointed out to me that was Rose says is “And Captain Jack Harkness has transported to the Sontaran home world”, meaning that perhaps he went willingly, perhaps as part of a mission.
(Rewatching all of post-gap Who with my 11 year old son and now my 6 year old nephew, continued: 4×12 and 4×13)
The Stolen Earth/Journeys End
The big one: at the time it was the biggest team-up story since The Five Doctors. The Doctor, Rose Tyler, Jackie Tyler, Mickey Smith, Martha Jones, Francine Jones, Donna Noble, Wilfred Mott, Sylvia Noble, Harriet Jones, Sarah Jane Smith, Luke Smith, “Mr Smith”, Jack Harkness, Ianto Jones, Gwen Cooper, and K-9.
Also, the Judoons and the first on screen look at the Shadow Proclamation.
And the Daleks, including a cracked-up and prophetic Dalek Caan, and my namesake Davros. Probably didn’t mean much to the kids but obviously that was a big moment for older fans. He has peeled the flesh from his thorax, down to the bare bone, in order to create a new army of Daleks.
If that’s not enough then there’s no pleasing you.
The setups of the entire series are paid off: the missing planets, the bees, the stars going out, the DoctorDonna, the hand. The Daleks’ plan is pretty insane, but might as well get it all done at once I suppose. I wonder what xenophobes do with themselves when there’s no one left to wipe out?
The fake-out regeneration at the end of The Stolen Earth must have caused a buzz but unfortunately for me I already knew that there were more Tennant episodes when I watched it. Still, the DoctorDonna Metacrisis was a tidy invention. Donna’s fate was a brand new tragedy, something we’d not seen in DW before. A bit heartbreaking. “I’m so so sorry” doesn’t quite cut it.
As Caan says: The Doctor is revealed. He has the effect of turning those around him into weapons. Donna mentioned this in The Sontaran Stratagem, and Rory does later…
Some of those that Davros shows as examples of those who have died in the Doctor’s name are: Harriet Jones, the hostess from “Midnight”, Astrid Peth, River Song, the Doctor’s Daughter, the Controller from “Bad Wolf”, the Face of Boe, Chantho, and several people that the Absorbaloff absorbed.
If I have a criticism it is that the Osterhagen key plan makes no sense. Under what circumstances would it be prudent for Earthlings to destroy the Earth? If they’d dialled that down a notch, say, I dunno, made it clear that at least some people would survive somewhere, then it would be a conceivable strategic option.
When I first saw Journey’s End, I felt that the tacked-on happy end for Rose with a human Doctor kind of undid the beautiful tragedy of Doomsday. I’m okay with it now.
Sarah Jane’s face when Donna spins her off Jack to get a hug is priceless.
German speaking Daleks … now that’s not something you hear every day.
It’s not clear to me how Caan entered the timelocked Time War, though I gather it is covered in other media.
The Subwave was invented by the Mr Copper Foundation, founded by Mr Copper from “Voyage Of The Damned”.
The Doctor says he tried to save Davros when his ship flew into the jaws of the Nightmare Child. How odd.
The Osterhagen Station that Martha visits is on the outskirts of Nuremberg. Given her task, I thought that was a very nice choice: the Nuremberg defence is used by someone who was “just obeying orders”.
The Doctor asks whether Gwen is from an old Cardiff family (in reference to the character played by Myles in “The Unquiet Dead”).
The translation from the German of Martha’s conversation with the woman:
Woman: Nobody is here. Whatever you want, go away. Leave me in peace!
Martha: My name is Martha Jones. I come from UNIT. Agent five six six seven one, from the medical department.
Woman: They said you came over.
Woman: You are the nightmare, not the others, you! I should kill you, best now!
Martha (in English): Then do it.
Woman: Martha, To hell with you!
Martha (in English): I know.
General Sanchez is played by Michael Brandon, who has done a stack of stuff in English TV but is indeed American. He also played the Senator in Captain America (2011).
Kelly Hunter makes her first appearance as The Shadow Architect: we see her again in The Magician’s Apprentice. Amy Beth Hayes plays her servant: this was her first television role. She’s gone on to be quite busy in British television, including a regular role in Mr Selfridges.
This was Julian Bleach’s first appearance as Davros: he too, comes back in The Magician’s Apprentice. Bleach has the distinction of having played different characters in each of Doctor Who, Torchwood, and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Hardly needs saying that Nicholas Briggs does the Dalek voice work. Briggs has been doing Doctor Who and Who-adjacent stuff a really long time. He has a minor role in the 1987 spinoff film Wartime. He voiced Professor Osborn in the 2002 animated series, Real Time. He directed and wrote the Auton spinoff series from the late 1990s. In the early 1990s he wrote and composed for the Stranger series, starring Colin Baker, Louise Jameson and Nicola Bryant: these were very Who-ish low budget direct-to-video movies. He also wrote The Airzone Solution (1993) starring Colin Baker, Peter Davison, Sylvester McCoy AND Jon Pertwee! And of course he’s written and voiced a lot of Big Finish stuff.
JACK: All the same, might I say looking good, ma’am?
SARAH JANE: Really? Ooh.
HARRIET: Not now, Captain.
DONNA: It’s like an outer space Facebook.
DONNA: Brilliant! Fantastic! Molto bene! Great big universe, packed into my brain. You know you could fix that chameleon circuit if you just tried hotbinding the fragment links and superseding the binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary, binary. (Draws breath) I’m fine. Nah, never mind Felspoon. You know who I’d like to meet? Charlie Chaplin. I bet he’s great, Charlie Chaplin. Shall we do that? Shall we go and see Charlie Chaplin? Shall we? Charlie Chaplin? Charlie Chester. Charlie Brown. No, he’s fiction. Friction, fiction, fixing, mixing, Rickston, Brixton.14 May 2020 at 23:45 #70667
It’s been pointed out to me that was Rose says is “And Captain Jack Harkness has transported to the Sontaran home world”, meaning that perhaps he went willingly, perhaps as part of a mission.
Possibly. I’m picturing it as a Jack/Strax team-up.15 May 2020 at 08:12 #70669
@dalekbuster523 one quote I missed
ROSE: Three Doctors?
JACK: I can’t tell you what I’m thinking right now.15 May 2020 at 16:02 #70672
@davros One of my favourites is when Mickey calls Jack ‘Captain Cheesecake’, and Jack retorts with ‘Mickey Mouse!’ That one made me laugh.16 May 2020 at 17:57 #70678
Seems there’s something wrong with this thread now. I can’t make posts of more than a few lines. I hope it’s not something I did wrong.17 May 2020 at 00:46 #70680
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.