On The Sofa (7)

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    Mudlark @mudlark


    Does anyone know why the groups of black birds might be given such interesting names (Conspiracy of Ravens, Murder of Crows)?

    I cannot say for certain that this is the reason, but I suspect that the root may be in their nature as carrion birds – haunters of battlefields which feature as such in myth and legend.  The Morrigan  sometimes appears in the guise of a crow, for example.  Crows are also seen as symbols of discord.  In addition, all corvids are highly intelligent, which people in the past must have observed and maybe found uncanny  (recent studies have observed that some species of crow can solve puzzles that are beyond the capability of a five year old human). Thus we have Odin’s ravens, Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory).

    Mirime @mirime

    @arbutus My poor husband has had to put up with enough Tolkien related rants (he does insist on playing video games set in Middle earth where they just make stuff up) and long detailed explanations of obscure bits of the mythology, that with Doctor Who I restrain myself to just asking if he’s enjoyed the episode – a discussion comparing 10s actions in Waters of Mars and 12s in Kill the Moon might be unfair 🙂 I have checked out the Kill the Moon thread and was pleased it had been mentioned there, not sure I need to add anything but might do, perhaps after a rewatch.

    Mudlark @mudlark


    (this is in response to your post on the Before the Flood thread, though you were responding to @blenkinsopthebrave above)

    Who doesn’t wish Clara an ending in which everything works out

    Only up to a point as far as I am concerned, because I am not too keen on the taste of saccharine. I would more happily settle for a bitter-sweet-but-satisfying resolution.  In real life things seldom if ever work out entirely in a happy-ever-after way but, with a bit of luck, they can lead to something which is ultimately fuller, richer and more rewarding.


    Anonymous @

    @mirime (what a beautiful name by the way!.What is the origin, if you don’t mind my asking?)

    I echo @arbutus welcome and also have to say I was quite the ‘lurker’ before I attempted to post, but after familiarising myself with the few rules of the site and recognising similarities in people and the way they wanted to communicate, I thought this Forum was unusual indeed. I didn’t really have anyone (until recently) to discuss my observations about the show with -so this became that rather unique little place (not so little anymore: it’s like a matrix and, much like a Tardis, bigger on the inside)


    How did I miss your post! How eloquent – but you missed something…..the troll always comments on the use of the Deux ex Machina: therefore I’d give you a score of 9.75. Almost the perfect dive. 🙂

    Welcome to the site. I look forward to reading your contributions regarding episodes.


    I really like this too:

    I quite like is that of @jphamlore, that she will end up back in the Nethersphere with Danny. The darkness of Danny’s death was about as dark as I think she deserves. To have her come to a dark end as well seems just a bit too cruel. 

    If you’re a “rank sentimentalist” then I proudly add my name to that list! There are people on t’other place who cannot wait till Clara spews out her final motory mouth speech and “carks it” -this is Australian, evidently, and now that I think about it, is another site altogether: less infamous that the Graun and their BTL’ers (I’m so excited to use these techno -phrases with confidence) but still pretty much dedicated to Clara’s ‘sticky end.’

    Puro     <<*|*>>

    Anonymous @


    Nemo dat quod non habet

    Indeed. And hasn’t that put the fire out on some sales -as lawyers claim.

    Puro (from Pur meaning fire)

    ichabod @ichabod

    @arbutus   Does anyone know why the groups of black birds might be given such interesting names (Conspiracy of Ravens, Murder of Crows)? There must be a reason, historically, presumably something to do with the negative image of those birds. But it would be interesting to know more about how it came about.

    Ravens and crows are carrion birds, for one thing — frequenters of fields after the battle, gallows after hangings, etc.  That, and the fact that they will sometimes attack young lambs and try to eat them alive, has given them a dark aura of cruelty and allegiance to death.  They’re also known to be extremely smart — as could be observed when ravens mob a larger predatory bird, for instance, as it tries to hunt in the sky.  So “murder” and “conspiracy” seem pretty natural.

    if Clara is indeed a Bootstrap Paradox, where does that leave Dad and Grandma? Unless it is Clara’s mother who is actually the paradox? Or am I just confusing things?

    I don’t think you could confuse them any more than they’re already confused.  Too timey-wimey for my little brain.

    @blenkinsopthebrave  to have her “die” by going to the Nethersphere, and be reunited with Danny not only is in keeping with her many previous deaths as a Claricle, and not only goes back to her walking past her own grave, but keeps her “out there” somewhere, together with Danny again. I know…what an appallingly rank sentimentalist I am! But there you go.

    Well, me too — I’d gladly take that ending for her, but I’m pretty dubious about it.  Danny did say that the Nethersphere was dying (when he sent Clara the Afghan boy).  If Missy had transported herself from the graveyard to the Nethersphere and found a way to reboot and maintain the place, wouldn’t Danny have known that it wasn’t dying after all?

    Mirime @mirime

    @purofilion it’s supposed to be my real name translated into elvish. I use it occasionally when I’m bored of the usual online name I use, ilweran, which is also elvish and means ‘rainbow’.

    I only lurked for a couple of weeks and mainly because this forum is quite different to other forums I’ve posted on – mainly videogame, Tolkien or tarot related and much more of a free for all than here!

    Anonymous @

    @mirime how do you mean “a free for all more than here?”

    Were there no rules? 😉

    Both names are lovely -the rainbow one is also. So a fan of Tolkein, I guess? 🙂

    Are you enjoying the season thus far?

    Kindest, Puro


    cumquat @cumquat

    I am forced to write again in regard to appalling practice on this site to be welcoming to new posters. This goes totally against the practice of sneering, ignoring, or attacking new or different views, which is the natural response of the hater and troll.

    I was previously forced to write on these pages complaining about the ubiquity of reasoned discussion in a civilized manner that takes place here, and what was the response? I was actually warmly welcomed, and encouraged to make more contributions. This tendency towards acceptance and encouragement is precisely what distinguishes this site from the mean-spirited nature of the internet so embraced by haters and trolls like myself.

    There was, at least, some slight criticism by one poster that I had failed to mention deus ex machina arguments, and on this basis was to be only accorded a score of 9.75 out of 10. However, it was clear that this criticism was not intended to be sneering and dismissive, which is what I associate with the internet, but was intended to be humorous and warmly embracing. As a hater and troll, I find this practice profoundly disturbing.

    I should also point out to our so-called clever poster that the hater or troll may or may not use the deus ex machina argument. The point is to use it indiscriminately, because the point of trolling is to simply attack, be dismissive, be arrogant, and overall, to attack for the sake of attacking, not to be consistent or reasoned.

    Clearly, therefore, my contribution should have been rated 10 out of 10. If not 11.

    I hope I shall not be forced to return to these pages, as I find the whole atmosphere of conviviality, welcoming acceptance, and reasoned debate a very worrying indication of what might happen to the internet if these attitudes were to spread. Honestly, can you imagine what the world would be like if reasoned criticism was to replace ad hominin attacks, or acceptance was to replace condescension?

    As a hater and troll, I shudder at the prospect.

    Yours truly,
    Catherine Ursula Margaret Quat (Mrs)
    Mother of 5 (basset hounds)

    Mirime @mirime

    @purofilion Yes, there were rules but to a greater or lesser extent, but some you had to go very far (or just get on the wrong side of certain people) to get banned, some would involve a lot of bitchy bickering that would get very wearing or would be really unwelcoming to newcomers.

    The tarot forum despite being huge was generally a very friendly place and there is a gaming forum which sort of spun off from another gaming forum and which is a small, cosy place (although get’s angsty about that sometimes and wonders how to get more people in) with people my husband, and I to a lesser extent, have been chatting to online for years.

    Yes, I’m a huge Tolkien fan 😀 I tend to mostly avoid related forums though – used to post on the Tolkien Newsgroups in the time before forums. Got a bit singed in some flame wars then driven out by the complete negativity surrounding the films and hostility to anyone who dared say they liked them in any way.

    Here seems more… civilised? than a lot of places online. From what I’ve seen people disagree with each other and it’s ok. Reasons are given, points debated but ultimately it’s ok to dislike (or like) something.

    I loved the whole of last season overall – of course there were episodes I liked more than others, and I’m not a fan of Robot of Sherwood though even that had bits that I liked (the spoon fight!) – but I enjoyed it more than any season since it came back. This year is shaping up to be the same. Part of it must be that I absolutely love Capaldi as the Doctor, and haven’t had the problems that some others have had with his version – I never felt that he was cold, callous, uncaring etc. or un-Doctorlike. He is about as Doctorish as it’s possible to get for me and just seemed right straight away. I keep saying it in the hope that it’s true – but I think he might really be the Doctor 😀

    Anonymous @


    Oh yes, I completely agree with you about Capaldi rocking it out as the Doctor: he just fits that role so perfectly. I loved Smith, though, and in particular, S5 but there are others who adore only Tennant and want the Rose and Tennant romance “to go -on” (I’m thinking of lyrics from Les Mis!)  -those people, strangely, are not on this site 😉

    Still, you’re right: here, people can disagree with dignity and point out errors others might have made: but it’s all in the tone and in the lack of an agenda. No  [A] Raging Sense of Entitlement here (what is referred to as ARSE!) which is great.

    Well, you do love your Tolkien -something I’m reading to the young Boy Ilion at the mo, actually.

    Kindest, puro

    Mirime @mirime

    @purofilion must admit I loved Tennant, but I’m not a fan of Rose or the romance. Or quite a few of the stories. Of his companions I liked Donna best – no romance, no unrequited love, no mooning about, plus I actually did like her despite thinking I wouldn’t because I’m not a fan of Catherine Tate.

    Hope the Boy Ilion is enjoying his trip to Middle Earth. First book I ever read to my little boy was Tolkien, but he was only a few weeks old at the time!

    bendubz11 @bendubz11

    That awkward moment where you realise you still haven’t properly introduced yourself after nearly a month of posting because you didn’t know of the existence of this thread. Time to rectify that I think!

    I’m Ben, and I’m from SE England, though having just started Uni I’m in S Wales. As somebody who has only seen AG Who (I don’t count catching an occasional oldie as having seen it) my favourite Doctor would have to be Eccleston, though Capaldi is fast catching him. I like all of them though and don’t think that any of the series AG have had that many problems. My favourite companion is without a doubt Donna, no love sub-plot, just two friends traveling the galaxy together.
    Interests wise I’m just a standard teenager. I’m down for pretty much any genre of music, though artists that mash together two things, be it two genres, two songs or a genre with something else entirely (yes that third one is a nod towards Chameleon Circuit).  Similarly, I like most sport, Football especially (my hometown club of Maidstone United and Spurs, in case you’re wondering what teams).  And I have a great interest in mythology, especially Greek.
    Can’t think of anything else to say, but I’m sure most of you know me already due to the belatedness of me finding this thread. Hi!!!!




    You can leave now.

    bendubz11 @bendubz11

    @pedant *flaunts large array of footballing firsts at you*



    I’m just enjoying Harry Kane’s regression to the mean.

    bendubz11 @bendubz11

    @pedant A – Good use of the word “mean”
    B – 4 goals in 6 for England would suggest otherwise

    ichabod @ichabod

    @cumquat  I know this will be tough for you to take, but as a troll of course you *completely* deserve it — lovely to have you aboard, oh Mother of Bassets!

    @mirime  I absolutely love Capaldi as the Doctor . . . I never felt that he was cold, callous, uncaring etc. or un-Doctorlike . . . I think he might really be the Doctor

    Somebody over at — doctorwhotv, maybe — posted (more or less) this about Capaldi a little while ago: “Somehow they got confused, looking for their new lead actor, so by mistake they hired the actual Doctor to play the Doctor.”  That about expresses it, for me — I think this part is a perfect fit for Capaldi’s acting style, and I dread the day he gives in to the wreckage of his tortured knees and hands over the Tardis key to some other cripple-in-waiting.  I especially like the Tom Baker vibe I get from his Doctor, since that was my Doctor (until S8, that is).

    I do think, though, that sometimes CapDoc *is* a bit callous because Capaldi brings out the alien nature of the Doctor, which sometimes pulls him out of his learned human perspective and into a colder detachment — especially since he *needs* detachment at critical moments (as in Mummy), so he has to keep his access to it open.  When he’s in human mode, mostly connected through Clara, he’s very tender-hearted, what with a double serving of heart to start with and a natural gift (curse?) of (usually concealed) sympathy that allows him to approach beings alien to him with warmth and curiosity (until they try to kill him, and sometimes even after that — per part of the conversation with Davros in TWF).

    Looking at that wonderful shot of the FK having the Doctor standing there looming over the cornered Doctor reminds me that DW *is* a family viewing show (among other things), so it’s not full of physical fighting and bloodshed, and this confers on the character of the Doctor a special sort of authority.  You know he’s not going to whip out a gun and shoot the FK, so he must by inference be a person of enormous personal presence and courage to be able to essentially talk and maneuver his way to victory over a creature like this, pretty much bare-handed.  How many times have we seen the Doctor face down an enemy mainly by shouting, “You don’t get to kill anybody here!” — and then doing/saying clever things to save the others.

    We know what the Doctor is by his choice of weapons: none, for the most part, except his nerve and his intelligence — and his Time Lord aura.  Whoever plays the Doctor puts on that mantle of Time Lord stature, even if when you first meet him he’s wearing a Victorian nightgown and slippers.  It’s kind of amazing — a super-hero with No Special Powers (apart from, well, a time machine, erm . . . ), just the force of his brain and his personality.

    So part of the message is that everyone is capable of effective heroic action — though it sure helps to be a Time Lord?


    Mirime @mirime

    @ichabod hmm, looking at the whole though,  yes, he is more alien, but even in Mummy I didn’t get the feeling of him seeming callous because that’s what he was, more that there was a puzzle to solve and solving it was the only way to stop people dying so you just have to get on with it. His conversation with Clara at the end showed it wasn’t a complete lack of caring.



    Yeah, but I could have scored in those matches!

    And you know Levy will sell him the first time anyone offers some decent bunce.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @mirime  His conversation with Clara at the end showed it wasn’t a complete lack of caring.

    Oh, I agree — he did care, but he closed that off and ran on his colder, more analytical, alien track — that callousness (see also, “She cares so I don’t have to”) that was the only way he could get to a solution and stop the dying.  It’s part of him, and he uses it or falls back into it from time to time.  By the time he’s talking to Clara on the beach, he’s off that track, the problem is solved, so he can open up from and speak from his more human side, the side that does care and did care — a lot.  But that had to wait, while the alien detachment fixed the problem.  Maybe “detachment” is a better word than “callousness” for what we’re both talking about?  It’s a shift in perspective, rather than a hardening of the heart(s) . . . ?

    janetteB @janetteb

    @mirime and @ichabod I agree that “detachment” is a far better word than callousness because the Doctor isn’t and never could be callous. He is pragmatic and that sometimes appears callous to others. He focuses on what must be done because he cares and there are times when only a pragmatic approach will solve the problem and save the lives. Sometimes some die. It can’t be helped. He cares when he has time but all too often there isn’t time. Grieving will only cost more lives. His approach is not “human” in that he does not allow emotions to cloud his judgement. He can and will put emotion aside when required, accept, it seems, when it comes to Clara. Even timelords are susceptible to some form of emotional weakness it would seem.



    Mirime @mirime

    @ichabod @janette yes, detachment is the right word. I was just amazed at the amount of people who did think he was callous, when to me he clearly wasn’t.  I’ve sometimes thought I must be watching a different programme as some people’s description of the twelfth Doctor’s personality seems so at odds with how I find him!

    Anonymous @


    yes, thank you, Boy Ilion is! I also agree that I was not a fan of the snogging and the romance. At least by Martha’s time it settled down somewhat and then with Amy and Rory on board it vanished -or at least it was turned around -what with River’s entrance/arrival.

    Kindest, Puro

    winston @winston


    My son felt the same but I like a bit of romance now and then ,although it was getting out of hand ,after all he is a Time Lord and a very old man. I was pleased with the way Rose’s story ended with her having her own Doctor who would grow old with her and that was probably enough of that.

    Arbutus @arbutus


    @ichabod, I loved your post and agreed with every word. Agree also with @mirime that I can’t understand the people who find Capaldi’s Doctor, to varying degrees, cold or unpleasant. What I see is the emotional detachment that was almost always a part of the Doctor in BG days, and even in Nine. It was much less evident in Ten and Eleven. (As an aside, I remember that I really enjoyed Ten in the Easter special, because I had a sense that he was focused on doing what had to be done, without guilt and without the overwhelming concern for his companions that tended to dominate his run. I wonder whether I would have enjoyed Ten more had he been companionless more of the time!)

    I agree with @winston that, if we had to have Rose in love with the Doctor, that giving her a Ten clone with whom to grow old was a pretty happy outcome for her. The funny thing about that relationship for me was that, I would have better understand someone like Rose falling for the Doctor, despite the obvious impediments, had it not been for the fact that she had seen him regenerate. Had I ever been tempted to think that a human/time lord relationship might be realistic, seeing that evidence of his massive non-humanity would have put me right off! I also never understood why, having just seen Rose off to the alternate dimension, it was thought a great idea to return to the romance theme with Martha. His apparent obliviousness to her feelings never worked as well for me as did Eleven’s later, when for example he thought that Amy and Rory ought to love having bunk beds! Maybe because Eleven had this massive little-boy streak through his personality, it felt more believable. Ten didn’t have that, and so his ignorance of Martha’s feelings always felt either cold or stupid, and I didn’t want to think of him as either one.

    Series 4 stands out for me as the best of first four, because I loved the Ten/Donna team so much, and thought a lot of the stories were fabulous. But I realize that I really liked a lot of Series 3 as well, except in my memory I was put off by the Martha/Doctor relationship. But leaving that out, Martha was great and a lot of those stories were very good. I enjoyed the shift to Eleven. Series 5 is one of my favourites, Series 6 much less so. I found the series arc pretty unwieldy and less engaging for me, and even though Series 7 suffered from a lack of cohesion, at the time it felt like a welcome relief after a story arc that I found a bit uninteresting and a lot too dominant for my taste. I think Moffat is handling the series arcs with a much lighter hand now (witness how few episodes of Series 8 were essential viewing to following the trajectory of the story).

    ichabod @ichabod

    @arbutus  Thank you!  I think in fact I lost interest, to some degree, with 10 and 11 *because* I was turned off by the heavier emphasis on those Doctors’ emotional investment in humans.  Yes, there were moment of Doctor-ly stand-offishness and even harshness, but the undertone of what us kids called “mushy-ness” in movies that had too much “romance” for our action-hungry little minds really put me off.

    It’s weird, really — it took the jangling abrasiveness of CapDoc to make the emotional bond between the Doctor and Clara work for me.  The mismatch of this pair’s terms of entanglement — she looks like a short, pretty girl, he looks like a gaunt older man with the weight of a dozen lifetimes on his shoulders; she’s a passionate and willful human trying to choose the right future *for herself* in keeping with a short human lifespan, but he’s solidly fixed on her in a deep, almost structural way that makes her absolutely necessary to him while he rebuilds his psychological self; she already has a function in our world that she’s ultimately going to decide to commit to, while he’s spinning slowly in space without a tether to anything but her, wondering what he is and what he’s for.   For me, there was lurching, crooked, but ultimately perfect balance between centrifugal forces dragging them away from each other and centripetal forces grappling them together in ways deeper than the traditional tropes of “romance” — until that tension resolved/dissolved in Last Xmas, acknowledged attraction won, and that particular struggle ended in harmony, however transitory.

    But during it, there was plenty of room for her to exhibit her intense focus on her own needs and goals, and him his tendency to flicker in and out of that “detachment” mode where where his “coldness” took over, dismaying her (and, sometimes, him too — “Am I a good man?”).  I guess the centripetal attraction holding them — mostly — together didn’t work for me without a corresponding outward force made of her normal, human self-absorption and his alien (and therefore legitimate) detachment.  Those things didn’t work for me with Victorian Clara and SmithDoc; it didn’t gell properly (for my tastes, anyway) so the “mushiness” was too sweet, too human, girlfriend/boyfriend for me.

    And yes, the whole regeneration thing — to actually see that happen to someone you’d been dealing with as human (but with extras like a time machine and a piano sized brain) would be not just scary but horrifying.  That’s forcefully intrusive and unarguably Big Universe stuff, when your own default setting has been the human-scale  Little World stuff, even with trimmings of exotic adventure in the company of a protector.  (I’m avoiding the Impossible Girl question because I don’t see much continuity between that and S8 Clara.)


    Anonymous @

    @ichabod @winston @arbutus @mirime @janetteb

    I loved Tennant, actually, that is until Smith came along and for me, “was my doctor.”

    I don’t why, really: I think, way back, somewhere on the Time of the Doctor Thread, there’s a paragraph or two where I explain some complicated feelings for Eleven tied up heavily with that school-boy quality: earnest, yappy, lovable and yet with old eyes and the occasional cold phrase, “fear me, I killed them all” — except in the delivery of such phrases, he doesn’t pause what he’s doing, he continues scrambling about looking for wire, for clues, for the right ‘number’ on the sonic and so those statements reach out like a ghost in a day dream, dragging you quickly back into the realisation that this man is in-human, no matter how many times you’re convinced he’s just a chatty neighbour who can throw a good omelette together, happens to be a Doctor of cheese making and can play soccer better than you -but pretty modest about it (well, not always that modest!).

    I liked the series in which Dorium spoke of “the question, Doctor, the one that must never be answered. You can run….” etc but you can’t hide. I found that arc providing an interesting disposition of character and plot : a final realisation as to the Silent’s role. A nice double resolution. First, we know that the Doctor subliminally suggests that all humans can remember and ‘end them’ at the time they are witnessed and of course, much later, Amy is aware of their role thru Kovarian’s faction which tried to erase the Doctor to prevent his arrival on Trenzalore.

    Ooh I loved all that speculation: about trenza meaning ‘braid,’ the crack on Trenzalore itself, the Doctor dancing the giraffe for the last time and Clara speaking his name (“the only name that ever matters”) to the TLs who ‘generously’ handed him extra regens which, this week, the Doctor willingly acknowledges was “a bit of a clerical error.”

    I’d flourished my obsession with Eleven contingent, as it was, on goodness, his evident love of children and toys, his acquaintance with evil seemingly rudimentary but, again, a tight disguise. He seemed less ambiguous, embracing of innocence, crediting others with altruism and appearing to be this way himself. Eleven’s temperament wasn’t sceptical, he indulged the children on Trenzalore and ‘guarded’ Clara’s home attending to little jewels of finicky care: the glass of wild flowers by her bed, the tea cup and even a little plate of biscuits (with a visible bite a la Father Christmas) and a half, rather grimy glass of water.

    These inclinations suggest integration into the human world, sometimes precipitous and awkward but nonetheless, staunch and avid. And I liked that about Eleven.

    Twelve is quite different -but I think any callous behaviour is possibly a disguise: he is after all desperate to over-see Clara’s situation and is still ebullient and proud: “just the same old same old, the Doctor and Clara in the Tardis.” Like any Doctor he wants to yield to these companions, to preserve them in his risky, unpredictable world but with Clara I agree that he knows or suspects a bleak ending, that ‘time’ is marginal. This week when he lingers and places his head on the console he resembles Smith and the heart on the sleeve.

    I still loved Eleven’s impeccable and funny manners: “oh yes, hello and how are you?” leaning in for the air kiss on both cheeks, everyone inflated with pride but rather baffled anyway. I like this Doctor too -and did well before he labelled the monsters in Flatline; he’s decent and mostly honest but there’s a canny, quick and slightly underhand way of doing things sometimes (to protect the ‘puppy’) which separates him from Smith the would-be human so that this Doctor is very Time Lord, loaded with History and rather old school (video diary aside!) with his blackboards, chalk, arithmetic like incantations, longer and longer intervals of time spent without Clara and her ‘care’ or intervention.

    Still, he grows on me. And he’s a puzzle: and I like that part a lot 🙂

    Kindest, puro


    winston @winston


    Your apt description of the 11th has made me miss Matt Smith all over again. Thank goodness for DVDs.

    winston @winston

    The 9th, 10th, and 11th Doctors were the men who had burned Gallifrey and they were filled with guilt and regret over what they had to do. they were sad and lonely and its no wonder they reached out for the companionship of his faves-humans. They tryed to save people everywhere and they cared too much.People still died many in the Doctors name.

    So maybe 12 with that guilt gone has become a little more cool and calm. Not less caring but more analytical in his approach. People still may die but he will learn from it to save the rest. He still cares but does not wear his emotions on his sleeve.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    @winston    That’s exactly what I think. We had PTSD Doctor, followed by the “one who regrets” and the “one who forgets”, in the great words of The Moment. They had guilt, and loneliness, and no home in the universe other than Earth, which they tried to make their own. I have always thought that Doctors Ten and Eleven tried, in different ways, to actually become human. But now, even though he can’t find it, Gallifrey is not gone. Although he is still alone, the Doctor is no longer the last of the Time Lords. He still cares about Earth and its people, but no longer with that desperate need to belong.

    @ichabod    The “am I a good man” question could almost be seen as the final step in a process that started way way back with the First Doctor. As a Time Lord, even one with better than average instincts, he might have had a very different notion than we would of what a good man is. Indeed, “good” might not even be something to aspire to. I think over long, long years wandering the universe, encountering good and evil, the Doctor has learned to aspire to it, but as with everyone, the question of what it is, might not be straightforward. And at the end of a complete cycle of regenerations, some of which were used up with remarkable speed, and unexpectedly given the gift of a whole new set, the Doctor really might take quite a while to work out some things about himself. Perhaps it was the first really authentic near-death experience he ever had!

    @purofilion    I love your description of Eleven, especially the point about how low-key his moments of angst were. The sudden drop of his voice into a dark tone, and the haunted eyes, but only a few words and then back to business. That “taking care of Clara” scene in the Bells of St. John was one of my favourite Eleven moments, as was the quiet conversation with the baby in Closing Time and the mobile of stars he constructed.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    As a Time Lord, even one with better than average instincts, he might have had a very different notion than we would of what a good man is

    I think @phaseshift would probably be better at this one than I am – but I don’t think the dominant culture of the Time Lords is portrayed as a good one, or one that is likely to produce good individuals.

    The evidence is that they’re trained in detachment and non-interference – but that ‘detachment’ has been obtained by seeing all other races as ‘lesser’, ‘inferior’, ‘puppies’. There’s story-logic in there – the Time Lords are generally more intelligent and longer lived. But the Doctor, on his travels, has found out that there’s more to being ‘good’ than intelligence and long life.

    I would make a guess that as Steven Moffat has made the Daleks less SF Nazi’s, he’s made the Time Lords more 1930’s/WW2 Germany (and there was that little swastika on one of the kids in Day of the Doctor…). That is, a civilised, decent and sophisticated culture where a combination of a rising ideology and bad events turn it into a perfect storm of evil. Right now, the thought of the Time Lords coming back is enough to make almost every culture in the Galaxy go ‘Oh, shit!’

    Then it becomes important for the Doctor whether he’s a good man – and if he can be a good Time Lord. If he can, there’s nothing inherently bad about his people. He can bring them back. Is he a good man? Or are his people good Daleks?

    So The Witch’s Familiar fits neatly into ‘Am I a good man’, because it asks the reverse question. Are the Daleks irredeemably evil? Is there such a thing as a good Dalek? Can there be a good Time Lord?

    Personally, I have a bonkers theory that the Time Lord culture (as opposed to the Gallifreyan people) isn’t going to survive this – the answer will be ‘No. There can’t be good Time Lords. But there can be good Gallifreyans.’ The Doctor really is the Last of the Time Lords – and will be remembered as one of the few good ones.

    spud @spud

    As a newbie here I just love reading all the posts.  I am afraid I am nowhere near as erudite or knowledgable as you lot, but it is a good learning curve.  I LOVE Peter Capaldi, I think he has really grown in to the role and it is hard to remember any other Doctor when watching him.  I did worry at first I would confuse him with Malcolm Tucker 🙂

    It will be interesting to see who is chosen as the new companion.  I wonder if they will break away from the pretty little girl mould, but I would love to see Susan return, loved her in An Adventure….Time.  Also Ian and Barbara could  pop in from time to time.  No idea how it would work but Susan is the Doctor’s grandchild, does that make her a mini Time Lord too?

    Anonymous @

    @bluesqueakpip Oh no, Pip, I’m pretty sure last week you really wanted to see all the TL back, no?

    A definite “no” on that? Going. Going. ….Gone. 🙂 Phew.

    Yeah I like the idea that there are really good Gallifreyans out there -people, children, worth saving. And that might be why he chose the face from Rome. An ordinary family, definitely-  – wealthy in the scheme of things but not necessarily owning vast properties and resources: not the highest of patricians not an imperator, but not a plebeian necessarily. This is spot on too  – in that I don’t think Daleks as The Nazis is the only way to portray them forevermore. There’s more complication waiting in the hands of a new story teller:

    I would make a guess that as Steven Moffat has made the Daleks less SF Nazi’s, he’s made the Time Lords more 1930’s/WW2 Germany 

    Good to see you back @spud. Yes, Capaldi is doing quite the Academy Actor’s  role -or is it Screen Actors Guild Award….or…..or?




    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Oh no, Pip, I’m pretty sure last week you really wanted to see all the TL back, no?


    The confusion (and Steven Moffat seems increasingly insistent on presenting it as a confusion) is that we call the Gallifreyans ‘Time Lords’. We all do it. Even the Doctor does it (which is another clue to the way he’s been taught to see ‘Time Lords’ as the only people who are real people, rather than, say, puppies).

    And they’re not. Most people on Gallifrey aren’t Time Lords. Judging by Listen, most of the War Council weren’t actually ‘Time Lords’ – they were army officers, not Academy graduates.

    And it’s made rather pointedly clear that while the Council of Time Lords has a plan that involves destroying the entire universe, sending a small boy insane and killing anyone who disagrees with them – all for the ‘good’ purpose of saving the Council of Time Lords – the War Council and their soldiers want to save, y’know, everybody on Gallifrey? And its plan consists of ‘defend the damn planet’. Even if that involves a last minute dash into an alternate dimension that they may never escape from.

    Day of the Doctor starts with the Doctor positioned with the Time Lords ‘greater good’ ethics (his plan to end the Time War partly involved burning small children clutching their teddy bears to death – never ‘good’) and ends with him positioned with the War Council’s ‘defend our people’ ethics. Ironically, the boy who wanted to be a Time Lord rather than a soldier finds himself siding with the soldiers.

    The good soldiers. An underlying point in the Zygon subpoint is ‘What is a good soldier?’ UNIT as ‘Earth’s first line of defence’ is a good organisation. UNIT as ‘We’ll blow up London to stop you getting your hands on alien goodies’ is a bad one. The War Council, from what we see of them, are good, honest soldiers.

    I don’t see an end to the Time War while the Daleks and the Time Lords remain the same: but I do want Gallifrey and the Gallifreyans back.

    But ‘Gallifreyans’ and ‘Time Lords’ are not necessarily identical. 🙂

    Anonymous @


    Oh I agree with you and your original point: I didn’t get it across very well at all!  Yes, Gallifreyans good, TLs,  generally bad (and a touch nuts) and we don’t really want them back but the Doctor’s happy to go home, “the long way ’round”, to get the former back  -the population of Gallifrey, his people after all.

    I think there’s a lot of confusion as to who makes up the War Council, and what the motivations of the Council of Time Lords are. Some of this was made clear in the Day of the Doctor and the minisode  -as well as the last episode or two of Tennant’s era back in 2009/10


    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    generally bad (and a touch nuts)

    The direction Steven Moffat seems to be going in is that the way the Time Lords will be remembered is that they ALL went nuts.

    Even the Doctor went nuts. The Hurt, Ecclescake, Tennant and Smith Doctors were all, in their various ways either going nuts, trying to recover from being nuts, or just nicely nuts with a side helping of fruit cake. 🙂

    I’m pretty confused about the War Council, too. But ‘Listen’ positions officers as including ‘people of Time Lord class who didn’t get into the Academy’ – which fits with the British Upper Classes notion of the army until the reforms; it’s where you send the younger sons too thick to do well in the Church or politics.

    This explains an awful lot about the Citadel Guards (etc). However, I suspect the War Council of Gallifrey and The General were simply late developers. 😉

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    Wow good sofa talk going on!

    @spud – I too wondered if Malcolm Tucker would get in the way of the connection _ but after the script nod (child friendly version – of shuttity up up up in the Robin of Sherwood episode I think – they let it lie. I did enjoy some of the pre show mashups of the Doc telling dalek’s to F off tho 🙂

    <span style=”line-height: 1.5;”>On the subject of Doctors, I would love to have the gap between War Doc and Eccleston Doc filled in – a great space for fan-fic – I was always a bit shocked that the Doc took Rose to watch the end of the earth – so freaking dark for a young thing –  but with those billions of Gallfreyan kids on his conscience – the latter narrative now fills in the perspective nicely. </span>

    I don’t mind a bit of romance for the Doc but definitely think it could be pretty sleazy pretty quickly if it was every companion. I found Eleven and River more compelling that Ten and Rose and hated Eleven’s comment about Clara being an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a skirt that’s a little bit too tight – ewww – and also bad storytelling  – show, not tell!



    ichabod @ichabod

    @juniperfish  hated Eleven’s comment about Clara being an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a skirt that’s a little bit too tight – ewww 

    Me too.  That’s the kind of crap that turned me off 11, and also is fodder for the STFUmoffat haters who think our show runner is an irredeemable misogynist.  Just gets in the way in every direction.  Personally, I *like* the puppy comparison instead because given comparative life-spans and brain capacities of TLs (supposedly) and humans, it’s a good metaphorical statement, a hard truth but a true truth; and while we love our pets, sometimes to distraction, there are generally accepted limits to how far that love should go, even if you’re a TL.  Flirting can be fun in general, but actually falling in sexual love with your schnauzer?  Not so much.

    We sort of did get a tiny bit of Tucker-edge in DiH, when they made the madman President of the world, though, attitudinally, although without the, er, specialized vocabulary of TToI.  But just as limits (from “family” audience concerns) on blood, violence, and sexual behavior keep DW on its toes in terms of finding other, better ways of keeping us entertained, the Doctor *not* being a Swear Lord flavored heavily with vitriolic frustration forces both writers and leading man into finding more to the character than most TV comedy characters get.  Tucker was a comic character after all, delightfully fire-worky but not exactly deep with backstory or life outside the office — which is why fanfic writers have enthusiastically taken off with other aspects of Tucker, so much to fill in!

    ichabod @ichabod

    Everybody on the TLs — I’ve never liked them, found them repellent actually, partly because I never had a doubt that our rogue TL had excellent reasons to get the hell out of Dodge in the first place — even though at first he could be unpleasantly arrogant and dismissive just like a TL because he is a TL and wherever you go there you are, etc.  If they never are seen again, I wouldn’t mind — I like my space wanderer as just that, rather than an annoyingly delayed Odysseus just trying to get home (as per Voyager, Lost in Space, etc.).

    We, as human individuals, mostly do not grow up to throw ourselves into trying to get back to where we were born and raised, except for maybe a visit now and then (and if we really are grown up, we know that the Peoria we find isn’t going to be the Peoria we left anyway).  I see the Doctor, particularly this Doctor, as a grown-up, a traveling man whose curiosity and restlessness (and dislike of politics in general) would drive him crazy if he actually went home and stayed there.  I did know, briefly, a person like that — an Englishman I used to run into at a local coffee/bookshop where he hung out whenever he swung through town.  People asked him where he came from and called home, and he’d give evasive answers, so one night in conversation with him I said something like, I bet you have little hang-outs like this in cities all over the place, don’t you, and you move around from one to another rather than going someplace you call home.  He smiled and said I was pretty clever for a small town girl (which I’m not, but never mind).

    Then there’s another question, of course, if we decide to take it as a real question: did something specific besides boredom and disgust actually *drive* him into leaving Gallifrey?  If that’s so, then the situation changes: he has something from his past to resolve, this time not by running away but by doing something else.  For that, I’d have no problem with a return to Gallifrey.  But in that case, I’d like to see some indication that he does want to “go home” but is conflicted about it because it’s a matter informed by some inherent conflict; if that’s happened, I’ve missed it.

    lisa @lisa

    @ichabod In Gridlock he spoke to Martha about happy memories of Galifrey. Romana
    seemed to be a rather decent Time Lord. I imagine most of the TL class show the arrogance
    of an advanced technological culture. The same thing happens here on Earth. But the saying
    is ‘it takes all kinds of people to make a world’ probably goes for any world. I wouldn’t
    want aliens to show up and be repulsed by all of the Earth’s peoples or cultures and there sure
    are some really very strange goings on here on our planet! Someday I guess we might get some
    more back story on this Galifrey subject. My hunch is that The Doctor cared a lot about
    his home because he turned into a war Doctor to protect it. But there is something about his
    relationship with other TL’s that makes me think he always felt an outcast his entire lives.
    That’s the mystery that most intrigues me. Maybe the scene in Listen of him sleeping in the
    barn was a tiny window into that?

    ichabod @ichabod

    @lisa   makes me think he always felt an outcast his entire lives.  That’s the mystery that most intrigues me. Maybe the scene in Listen of him sleeping in the barn was a tiny window into that?

    Yeah, I get that too — and the talk of his doing badly at the academy . . . and hanging out with that kid who spectacularly flunked and who now talks of himself as “The Master” . . . something a little dodgy about this guy . . . He could have happy memories + quite poisonous ones of his early years, as most people do.  Certainly the scene in the barn in Listen is an image of isolation, of being sequestered away from others (even if by your own choice) . . .

    But as an adult, he seems to be pretty confident, take charge type, open to new experience in ways that I wouldn’t expect from someone who’d been bullied or picked on or marginalized as a child.  He’s got a swagger to him that doesn’t read as “I’m doing this to look cool, though I’m really nervous about these new people dismissing me” to me; it looks firmly rooted in his character.  Though of course that could happen over such a long life: the rebuilding of the ego that’s taken a battering in childhood through more positive experience as a person of power . . . Dunno.  Still thinking.


    Anonymous @


    It took me  3-4 mins to actually work out what TToI was!

    (in The Thick of It??)

    We sort of did get a tiny bit of Tucker-edge in DiH, when they made the madman President of the world, though, attitudinally, although without the, er, specialized vocabulary of TToI

    Yes, above, I quite agree

    while we love our pets, sometimes to distraction, there are generally accepted limits to how far that love should go, even if you’re a TL.  Flirting can be fun in general, but actually falling in sexual love with your schnauzer?

    Ooh yes!  but then again, there was that woman who married a tree recently? Was it in your neck of the words (oh my, I’m on form today!) or was this in England? 🙂


    I loved your reference to Chris as Ecclescake: how jolly perfect. 🙂

    Certainly I’d also support the concept that Moffat has underwritten; which is that all the Doctors have been “going plainly nuts” themselves -not just the Master who was possibly nuts from age eight subsequent to the eponymous ceremony looking into “all of space and time” and from there hearing the ceaseless sound of drums.

    I don’t remember whether this ceremony was conducted with all potential Time Lords? Did the Doctor undertake the same ceremony? Were there other Time Lords susceptible to personality changes subsequent to this ritual (well I suppose you’ve already answered that question: “they ALL went nuts” -and the ritual was the turning point perhaps)?

    @lisa I recall that speech in Gridlock which I again watched this year. That was a beautifully written scene as the Doctor is chatting and jesting, and Martha, strong and certain, pulls out a chair and abruptly states she’s going no further until she hears the truth about this “doctor.” At one point, I had that portion memorised and now it’s lying about ‘somewhere’ on some random post-it note.

    A lot of viewers disliked Gridlock -I should go back to Ten’s Thread and read comments from various Forum members. Did you like it?

    In fact, Lisa, did you like Martha? I know from other Forums and from occasional chats with colleagues/friends, that they found Martha to be the worst companion “evah.”

    I’m not hot on remembering the ‘liquorice allsorts’ of companions in BG Who  -other than Romana and Sarah Jane and one other blonde young woman in Pertwee’s era, often wearing ‘slacks’ and confidently ‘wandering off’ by climbing in and out of one story windows (her name totally escapes me: I think my memory hasn’t gone too far, but it needs a damn good leash).


    …in that case, I’d like to see some indication that he does want to “go home” but is conflicted about it because it’s a matter informed by some inherent conflict…

    Yes I’m with you on that one: why did the Doctor leave beyond wanting to see the world and rally his inherent curious nature? To know there was a secret that we haven’t been ‘in on’ would be an interesting complication. I think @jphamlore has had some suggestions as to possible reasons or conflict.



    lisa @lisa

    @Purofilion Gridlock was interesting but it was quite dark in the way
    it showed a future of being trapped in a traffic jam underground. Those conditions
    were pretty bad and I guess I was just inclined to strange feelings because I lived
    in LA at the time and I was very familiar with eternal traffic. A for Martha, it
    seems to me she suffered from being post Rose. So she struggled ‘hitting a nerve’ with
    the Doctor and that put her in a tough spot. There was always that awkward thing. But
    I liked that she was very clever and fearless.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @purofilion  Oh, oh, that’s four minutes I owe you — forgot that we’re trying to spell titles out more!  Apologies.

    there was that woman who married a tree recently? Was it in your neck of the words (oh my, I’m on form today!) or was this in England?

    Married a tree?  England.  That must have been England; it’s so English, isn’t it?  The English are so into their flowers and their green stuff and their shrubberies . . . on “Midsomer Murders”, anyway (a guilty pleasure of mine).

    “they ALL went nuts” -and the ritual was the turning point perhaps)?  Wait — little nervous now.  This is a society that took its best and brightest and deliberately drove them crazy?  Or, seeing how crazy they all went, toddled right along making more loonies?  Also I’m getting a weird, weird vibe here, an echo of that old Sci Fi trope, “There are some things man was not meant to know!”  Surely Steven Moffat isn’t banging *that* drum?  It’s completely anti-Doctor, who’s all “get out there and ask questions til you get answers!”

    Arbutus @arbutus

    @ichabod  @purofilion       The thing is that the Doctor was never especially interested in returning to Gallifrey when it was there. So his desire to find it again now suggests to me a bit of the “don’t really want to go home again, but I like knowing it’s there” thing. Also, I do wonder if the Doctor, in order to be a rebel, needs someone to rebel against. That was always the Time Lords, and then they were gone, and he was no longer a rebel, but a homeless orphan, the last of his kind.

    As to knowing why he left, I’d actually rather not. Hints have been dropped here and there, but it’s such a big mystery, so much at the core of the Doctor’s mythology, that it’s hard to imagine any showrunner really wanting to take it on. For one thing, the answer would never in a million years make everyone happy.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @arbutus  As to knowing why he left, I’d actually rather not. Hints have been dropped here and there, but it’s such a big mystery, so much at the core of the Doctor’s mythology, that it’s hard to imagine any showrunner really wanting to take it on. For one thing, the answer would never in a million years make everyone happy.

    Well, *that’s* for damn sure!  Maybe just leaving it a mystery is the best approach after all.  As for “home”, well, how many other TLs has he run into while wandering the universe?  MixMaster, of course, which right there makes him *not* the last TL, but one of the last at most.  Could he be missing just the normal folk on Gallifrey, the ones he burned/didn’t burn?  Doesn’t show any signs of it, and how are they different from normal Earth people, us pudding brains?  You have to be trained to earn TL status, and then you’re one of these rather unpleasant people with powers they don’t know what to do with so they do damned little except fight a war — the Fisher King had it about right, I thought.  I thought all that was what the Doctor was rebelling *against*.

    So is he eager now to go back and *not* be a rebel?  This old punk rocker who’s just found his guitar and his tweaky shades?  That’d be a let-down.  Might as well turn stock-broker on Earth.  Feh.

    Oohh.  Too much wine, at a late and windy hour (in more ways than one).  Bed calls.

    django @django

    Not sure where it’s best to put this, but the guitar playing at the start of “Before The Flood”  has got me thinking as to how “musical” series 9 appears to be.

    – Beethoven’s Fifth segueing into the guitar version of the theme

    – We had the axe battle in Magicians Apprentice

    – The title Magicians Apprentice could be alluding to “The Sorcerers Apprentice” from Fantasia

    – Episode 3’s title “Before The Flood” is a Bob Dylan live album

    – Episode 9’s title “Sleep No More” was a new wave/post-punk album by The Comsat Angels

    – Episode 11 & 12’s titles (“Heaven Sent” and “Hell Bent”) are a quote from “Sweet Bird Of truth”, a song by the band The The from their “Infected” album

    Anyone spotted any others?

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @juniperfish and @ichabod

    I think the Doctor’s occasional sexual attraction to humans was almost certainly a side effect of being ‘last of his kind’. There are, after all, other examples of Gallifreyan/Human relationships, and other cross-species relationships in the TV stories. But to be truthful, I always took the ‘really tight skirt’ as purely an after-image of ‘Mr Clever’. It wasn’t supposed to be nice OR to be said out loud – which is why the Doctor slapped himself immediately he realised he’d said it.

    I do think that the pre-Time War Doctor would never have gone back to Gallifrey – and even the Time War era Eighth Doctor was trying to avoid both Gallifrey and its War, until he had it forcefully borne upon him that it couldn’t be avoided.

    But I think the post-Time War Doctor has been so traumatised by the destruction (at his hand!) of Gallifrey and its possible rescue that he won’t really recover until he can walk on its soil and talk to its surviving people. As Clara bluntly points out, he’s got survivor’s guilt.

    It’s a long-standing fan trope that the Doctor must have fled from Gallifrey – and not just out of boredom. As @jimthefish has pointed out, the First Doctor and Susan seem frankly terrified of being found. There’s also the Name of the Doctor point that nobody but an idiot (or someone very, very desperate) would steal a TARDIS in such need of repair that it took him nearly a thousand years to get the navigation system under control.

    Missy’s seemingly throw-away reference in The Magician’s Apprentice might contain some clues; Moffat also has hinted about the ‘lonely little boy’ and resolved the secret about his name by saying that – now – his name really is ‘The Doctor’. But something, in the Moffat corpus, made that name into such a deep secret of the Doctor’s past that The General knew it would be a great password. And River, it appears, also knew it would be an unbreakable password to his tomb.


    It seems (from Last of the Time Lords) that all children of the Time Lord class (possibly all Gallifreyan children) went through this ceremony. The Doctor claims that he ran away – and that might explain the little dig Missy gives him in the Witch’s Familiar, if everyone knows he ran away rather than look into the Ultimate Schism of Rassilon, or whatever it’s called. 😉 It might also explain why he feels such an outcast. He doesn’t have to have been bullied; simply that he was the Boy who Ran, the kid always at the bottom of the class, the one who needed a retake to pass his degree.

    He was never the ‘proper’ Time Lord that he was born to be – and he and his mate acted out by becoming 100% Rebel Time Lords.

    It might be the ritual. The Doctor certainly talks of insanity as a known side effect, and you have to ask – what kind of society would subject its kids to a ritual known to drive some of them certifiably insane? Or it might be the effects of the Time War on a society that’s already going down some pretty unpleasant paths; a ‘perfect storm’. But the ritual was never Steven Moffat’s idea – that was first described in one of Russell T Davies’ scripts

    ichabod @ichabod

    @bluesqueakpip  I think the post-Time War Doctor has been so traumatised by the destruction (at his hand!) of Gallifrey and its possible rescue that he won’t really recover until he can walk on its soil and talk to its surviving people. As Clara bluntly points out, he’s got survivor’s guilt.

    Okay, that makes sense to me . . . and perhaps also, as the person who pulled the plug on Gallifrey once and then shoved it out of sight (even his own) next time that chance came round, I can see that he might need the reassurance that it is, indeed, still there (wherever there is).

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