The Timeless Children

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  • #69964
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @phaseshift

    Can I say that I sincerely hope the story about Robert Holmes is a bit of fanwankery and isn’t actually true? Because if it is, that’s really not one of his best writing ideas. Hey, let’s put a load of production staff images as previous faces of the Doctor in one clip in one story, then put a completely arbitrary limit on the number of regenerations in another story in the following series and this will re-introduce jeopardy because the audience will work out that Tom Baker’s Doctor might actually die…

    Seriously? When all that was actually needed was either to talk about a three-regeneration limit or (better) to have a Time Lord die spectacularly in The Deadly Assassin and have the other Time Lords mention that he was killed too quickly for him to regenerate?

    But instead we have this weird, over-complicated, two part/two series solution to a problem that doesn’t exist – because everyone over the age of five knows that the hero of an adventure serial only dies in the very last episode ever. Or, in the case of Doctor Who, they ‘die’ when their contract ends. And you’re telling me a professional TV writer thought that this well-known trope was an actual problem he had to deal with?

    Next up: Mr Holmes tackles the strange fact that everyone in an adventure serial always finds a perfectly fitting disguise.

    #69965
    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Well, I find myself in two minds about this. On the one hand, I fail to see the point of the retcon, except to provide Chibnall the opportunity “make his mark” on Who. Indeed, I get the feeling it is as much about diminishing Moffat and positioning himself as a natural successor to RTD as anything else. And then there is the way he does it here. There is, it seems to me, far too much exposition. All the really important parts of this alternate history are simply narrated to the Doctor by the Master. And I should take the Master at his word…? Why, exactly? Also, perhaps I missed it, but do we have anything (besides the Master’s word) that he actually did, personally, destroy Gallifrey? After 50 years of being exposed to a Master who lies and actually achieves very little in the way of galactic domination, we are now asked to accept a Master who is telling the truth and really does achieve much in the ways of galactic domination?? As Poirot was fond of reminding Hastings all the time in Agatha Christie: just because we are told something, does not mean we should take it at face value. We need proof.

    On the other hand, the story was a rollicking adventure (aside from the exposition) and there was something neat about the season starting with the Master’s Tardis taking the form of a house in the Australian outback and the season ending with the companions and the remnants of humanity arriving back in Sheffield in a ship that takes the form of a house.

    But I think I need a second viewing.

     

    #69966
    MissRori @missrori

    @jimthefish Can you, I, or anybody really say that anything the Doctor does is un-Doctorly anymore? We have no idea what all those other Doctors have been up to all those years, working above the Time Lord law to boot! For all we know some of them really did eat babies, and not the jelly kind!

    A common theory for the prison the Doc is trapped in at the end is that it’s Shada. How cool will it be if “Revolution of the Daleks” turns out to be a Douglas Adams-style romp?

    #69967
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    I respect your opinion @bluesqueakpip , but also note that your response is an inelegant method of not answering my main point. What’s the reason for the Timeless Child retcon?

    Holmes wanted to eventually write a high stakes story about the ‘death’ of the Doctor and seeded these ideas that would feed into it and establish those high stakes. Establishing the situation is good writing, yes? Unfortunately (or fortunately for you perhaps) the response from the Viewers and Listeners Association to Deadly Assassin saw Hinchcliffe and Holmes having to step down from their roles. It never came to pass. These things happen. The decision to use behind the scenes people was Hinchcliffe, because it was cheaper than hiring actors.

    I do feel though that it is hugely ironic that a scene that was intended to establish that the Doctor had limits to his regenerative ability is now used in a huge retcon to establish the Doctor is immortal with no limits.

    #69968
    BadWolfAlice @badwolfalice

    I do feel though that it is hugely ironic that a scene that was intended to establish that the Doctor had limits to his regenerative ability is now used in a huge retcon to establish the Doctor is immortal with no limits.

    Do we actually know that the Doctor is immortal though? For all we know, when the Doctor’s life was restarted, they could have been given the 12-regeneration limit. That’s how I interpreted it, and I certainly hope that’s the case, as I said before.

    To be honest I find myself in two minds about this retcon. I think it could lead to some interesting stories and I don’t think it’s as damaging to the (already wibbly-wobbly) canon as many people are making it out to be. On the other hand, I agree with a lot of the criticisms of it, especially that, at the moment, it’s not clear why Chibnall has introduced this backstory other than for the initial shock value of it. I think I’ll need to see where it goes next before I can decide how I feel about it, but right now I wouldn’t be opposed to a future showrunner ret-retconning it (or even Chibnall himself revealing that the Master wasn’t telling the whole truth – that could well be part of his plan).

    #69969
    BadWolfAlice @badwolfalice

    @davros I haven’t seen much of pre-2005 Doctor Who yet so there’s a lot of those that I don’t recognise, but I know #11 is a Dreg from Orphan 55, #12 is clearly Gallifrey but I’m not sure what the shapes in the foreground are, and #19 is the Pting from The Tsuranga Conundrum. I recognise #15 but can’t think who she is. I’ve seen some people on Twitter point out who the face on the left in #25 is though: it’s the Abzorbaloff from Love and Monsters! And I think the person on the right in the same image might be River?

    #69970
    Anonymous @

    Enjoyed the finally! Not as behind it as I have been in the past but certainly kept me gripped. So much lore, will rewatch in a few days.

    Of all the many loose ends/questions that it could be causing me, I have a random one nagging me: Is Ruby White from Sarah Jane Adventures what becomes of Ravio?

    #69971
    MissRori @missrori

    @badwolfalice I’m with you in that I’m less concerned with the canon being changed and more concerned with why it’s been changed, especially so drastically. The Doctor seems to accept all these revelations quickly enough and good for her for seeing it as a glass-half-full situation. But especially with the ending plunging her in what may or may not be a completely unrelated adventure (she appears to be in the clink for something a past self did — but if it involves the Daleks, shouldn’t the Judoon be glad they interfered?), and how this past season never really had her dealing with revelations aside from becoming tetchier with the fam, one wonders if this will have any lasting impact on her character or the mythos. Consider the back half of Twelve’s story. Losing Clara allowed Twelve to come to terms with loss and finally be the man River Song needed…his love for River helped him accept the responsibility of tending to Missy in the Vault…his friendship with Bill led him to actually dealing with Missy more directly and finally coming to acceptance and understanding of himself…and meeting the First Doctor allowed him to come to terms with his regeneration and inspire his past selves (the ones he remembered anyway) in the bargain. He had a real character arc developing through every big trauma he went through.

    Oh great, now I’m wondering why the Testimony doesn’t know about the other Doctors from all the humans it’s uploaded over the eons…

    Anyway, how does Thirteen grow from this? How does she apply these revelations to a greater good? Yes, it gets her out of the Matrix, and gets a big speech about being stronger for the experience, and is reminded that she has her companions looking out for her even if their relationship is a little strained…but none of that helps her stop the Master and the Cyber-Lords! That ends up being handled by another character so the Doctor won’t have as much blood on her hands — she doesn’t even fight the guy really. And she doesn’t use what she has to restore Gallifrey after that either, which would be the natural alternative. She did it before, calling upon previous lives — what if all of them had come together at once?

    Now, maybe the point of “Revolution of the Daleks” will be Thirteen applying all this to another situation, especially if it turns out the cold case is one Ruth or another unknown Doctor was responsible for. But if that story is also going to involve the current companion set (none of whom have had a real character arc since Ryan and Graham resolved the issue of losing Grace, despite some feints at them since then), as opposed to sidelining them for one story, I kind of doubt it. For that matter, what does the Doctor’s ongoing story say about their individual journeys? I don’t mind it continuing into Series 13, but I don’t see any clues as to what direction it will go in — unless saving Gallifrey again is the big arc this time. Which it could be.

    Edit: Alternatively it could be further dealing with the Master’s newfound jealousy of the Doctor, but I’m not sure how that can be a growth experience for her. For better or worse, she is more special than he is, or anyone else in the universe, due to her nature. She is on the top of the mountain alone in the end. The companions couldn’t fully grasp what she’s experienced before, and this revelation only makes it harder to do so, or for her to be brought down to Earth as it were. Who are they to pick on her?

    I know — in 900 years Eleven hadn’t met anyone who wasn’t important — but in reality, there are plenty of people who are not important, or at least not important enough. That’s why we have forever wars, and refugees freezing and starving to death because people with homes and countries and food don’t want to give up a little comfort, and concentration camps for the “different”, and…

    If this is a theme of the next season — that every being is important in a cosmic way — it could be a powerful, important one beyond its effect on the fictional narrative. But can Chibnall and co. pull something that ambitious off?

    #69972
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @phaseshift

    your response is an inelegant method of not answering my main point.

    Inelegant, I grant you. But I suppose my main point is that I’m developing a deep suspicion that had the Holmes/Hinchcliffe/Nation plot points been broadcast under the name ‘Chris Chibnall’, you would even now be telling me how awful they are.

    I can accept that Holmes may have said that he decided to set up a story that Graham Williams didn’t want to do – but the reality is that he established a retcon in Brain of Morbius and Deadly Assassin which ended up doing sweet FA for later writers. They had to ignore the Brain of Morbius faces and they were stuck with everyone ‘knowing’ exactly how many lives the Doctor had left.

    (And don’t get me on to the Valeyard… )

    Of course, thirty odd years later we did get a fairly good story out of the regeneration limit. Yay.

    The Chibbers retcon (or re-retcon) otoh, frees up future writers. The Doctor now has an unknown number of future regenerations. Might be twelve, might be infinite. People no longer have to ignore that embarrassing and largely unnecessary Brain of Morbius scene. What is its point beyond that?

    Well, what I would say is that you’re willing to allow Holmes and Hinchcliffe three series or more to develop their big story, but the closing music has barely played on Chibbers’ second series, and you’re demanding to know the point of the big reveal. This isn’t really holding those writers to the same standard.

    What I can see at the moment is that in her first series, the Whittaker Doctor begins to learn to shed her God complex. She can’t save everyone, and everything is not her responsibility. Symbolically, she can begin to turn up to funerals again, even take part in them. I understand why @jimthefish says that her leaving Ko Sharmus to blow up the Master is un-doctorish, but it’s in keeping with the Whittaker Doctor’s character development. She says the situation is her responsibility – but Ko Sharmus points out that she wasn’t the one who chose to send the Cyberium back through time rather than finding a way to destroy it. He was. He’s the one who now has to take responsibility. She lets him do that (no more God complex).

    So in the first Whittaker series, she sheds her God complex and returns to being ‘just a traveller who tries to help out’ – but part of that seems to be shedding her Time Lord past. No mention of Time Lords, no Gallifrey, no old enemies. Back to the beginning, back to before the War Games. The Doctor travelling with her family.

    In the second Whittaker series, that Time Lord past comes back to bite her – and the series ends with an episode where she discovers that she’s not a Time Lord by birth. Nor is she responsible for their creation (she was a child). Or their deaths (that may have been the Master). As part of that, she discovers that the twelve-regeneration limit was, in her case, a lie.

    So what’s the point of the retcon? I’ll have to think about it some more, but I suspect that Chibbers, having tackled the God Complex, is now possibly trying to develop the Doctor’s characterisation away from the ‘rebel Time Lord’ schtick that we’ve been stuck with since The War Games. Trying to explain why the Time Lords seem to absolutely hate the Doctor but are seemingly happy to let the Master(s) do what they like – and possibly remove the need to continually explain why the Doctor never stays to sort out his/her home planet.

    Making the Doctor an adopted child who doesn’t know they were adopted. But if you do that, why does the Doctor regenerate? Was it gifted them? Or did they gift it to the Time Lords?

    Or was it effectively stolen from them?

    And you end up with a retcon.

    Me, I’m thinking there’s an Act Three – that ending the series with a cliffhanger was an ‘Act Three’ signal.

    Two points: Hinchcliffe was indeed moved because of the fuss – he was swapped with Graham Williams, who’d been developing Target and Williams was told to tone things down to be more suitable for the under-tens. Holmes wasn’t moved – he worked with Williams for a few episodes as script editor, and wrote for him. His decision to move away from Doctor Who for a bit was his own.

    Second point is that there was an almighty row about Hinchcliffe using the production team rather than paying actors as per the BBC/Equity agreement – and this might have been another reason for the BBC to eventually decide to move him.

    #69973
    nerys @nerys

    @bluesqueakpip So what’s the point of the retcon? I’ll have to think about it some more, but I suspect that Chibbers, having tackled the God Complex, is now possibly trying to develop the Doctor’s characterisation away from the ‘rebel Time Lord’ schtick that we’ve been stuck with since The War Games. Trying to explain why the Time Lords seem to absolutely hate the Doctor but are seemingly happy to let the Master(s) do what they like – and possibly remove the need to continually explain why the Doctor never stays to sort out his/her home planet.

    Like others, I was asking why Chibnall came up with this, as you say, “re-retcon.” You make some very good points. This gives me more context with which to rewatch this episode. Thanks!

    #69974
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    Well, lots to unpack here. It’s almost like old times…

    @bluesqueakpip

    Really? Sherlock is currently over a hundred and thirty years old and Doctor Who has a much more flexible structure than good old Sherlock

    Allow me to clarify slightly. I’m not saying that the cultural text of Doctor Who won’t be around in 2063. It most definitely will. I doubt it’ll still be a TV show then — or at least not what we’d recognise as a TV show. I doubt even streaming will still be a thing. All I meant was that I doubt it’ll exist in its current form and that having to get a workaround for the regen limit will just not be relevant anymore. And even if it was, I’m sure a more elegant solution would be found at the time than what we’ve not been given. At any rate, it’s not something that Chibs needed to worry about at all at the moment. We’ll probably be well into the VR revolution by then anyway. Maybe it won’t be an issue to recast the Doc because you yourself will be the Doctor or something like that.

    But the Sherlock analogy is a useful one. Sherlock has endured so long because it’s, as you say, a flexible format with relatively little backstory to get your head around. All you need to know is that Sherlock is a highly intelligent sociopath and Watson is a good and loyal friend and that they solve crimes together. That’s it, that’s the format. Individual interpretations, such as Moffat’s and Gattiss’s can fill in those gaps but if they’d been written back to the core format then that format runs the risk of losing its longevity and dying permanently. Moffat, I think, understands this and this is why he took pains to simplify the canon. For your average ‘Not We’, all they know (and want to know) is that the Doctor is a renegade Time Lord from Gallifrey who travels in a Police Box and has adventures. They don’t want to know about Timeless Children and amnesiac pasts and mysterious other origins. If a basic understanding of the show requires all that then it won’t remain in the public consciousness. It’ll be like Babylon 5. I think I’m with @phaseshift here in that as retcons go it seems pointless. It’s only functions seem to be for Chibs to troll all the NMDs who kept banging on about 50 years of white male docs and also to stick two fingers up to Moffatt.

    Probably on streaming; I think the time-shifted viewing for Who is up to 40% for some episodes

    I’ll admit I haven’t been keeping up with the ratings as it’s now an exercise in futility but as far as I can gather apart from the overnights slipping back down to basically Capaldi levels, the time-shifted viewing isn’t exactly brilliant either anymore.

    I’d agree that the Whittaker Doctor can be ‘undoctorly’, but I still haven’t forgotten when the Capaldi Doctor grabbed his Sonic rather than a drowning child. The Doctor can have undoctorly moments in any regeneration.

    She seems to have had rather more than most though. Although, you’ve definitely been borne out by the foregrounding of mindwiping earlier in the series. Seems the Doc was given rather a hefty dose of her own medicine.

    Yeah, the sonic incident was awkward (especially as he could have presumably gone back to the TARDIS to get another) but that was a clumsy way to demonstrate to Bill that the Doc is operating by a different moral code. Or thinks he is. At least the arc of the episode demonstrates that not only does he have a strong moral code but that he’s mistaken about how different it is. The only problem is how he expresses it. It’s a learning process for both Bill and 12. If 13, on the other hand, has anything you can call a moral code, it is a deeply flexible one — and more importantly seems to be operating under a showrunner who either can’t be bothered to address those inconsistencies or doesn’t think they need addressing.

    @missrori

    It does look like Shada, doesn’t it? Which could be interesting. Although, I have to admit, I’m one of the few that finds Douglas Adams’s contribution to Who wildly overrated.

    #69975
    Davros @davros

     

     

    @badwolfalice

    “I haven’t seen much of pre-2005 Doctor Who yet so there’s a lot of those that I don’t recognise, but I know #11 is a Dreg from Orphan 55, #12 is clearly Gallifrey but I’m not sure what the shapes in the foreground are, and #19 is the Pting from The Tsuranga Conundrum. I recognise #15 but can’t think who she is. I’ve seen some people on Twitter point out who the face on the left in #25 is though: it’s the Abzorbaloff from Love and Monsters! And I think the person on the right in the same image might be River?”

     

    Thanks. I think #15 is Becka Savage from “The Witchfinders”.

    I’ve gone back through the archives to identify some of the others. It’s interesting that they have gone with some obscure ones while leaving out some more well known critters. #70 Left could be  an Ogron from “Day of the Daleks”? #72 Right might be the Jagaroth from “City of Death”. #69 Left is Sutekh The Destroyer from “Pyramids Of Mars”. #68 Left is a Voc robot from “Robots Of Death”. #66 Left is Sharaz Jek from “The Caves of Androzani”, and #66 Right is The Rani.

    Very curious to know if anyone can identify #67 Left. Looks like a little doll version of the Fifth Doctor…

    #69976
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @jimthefish

    For your average ‘Not We’, all they know (and want to know) is that the Doctor is a renegade Time Lord from Gallifrey who travels in a Police Box and has adventures.

    Except that part of that statement isn’t true. Well, it wasn’t true in 1963.

    Is there something wrong with a story that plays with the audience ‘knowing’ something that isn’t really true? ‘Everything you think you know is a lie.’ The Doctor isn’t a renegade Time Lord from Gallifrey – that’s a later addition. Chibnall’s just tweaked things so that the history of the programme became history within the programme. The Doctor didn’t start out as a Time Lord.

    I think you and @phaseshift keep saying this retcon is pointless and forgetting that it’s a re-retcon. It’s a retcon that takes away some of the additions that have been made through the show’s fifty-odd years. It’s the original additions that were – if what Phaseshift says is true – pointless. Groundwork for a story that never got written? Why shouldn’t a new showrunner decide to play with a storyline that sparked off from an old scene that was never properly explained.

    The other point I’d make is that to end the series on a cliffhanger is to say: ‘To Be Continued’. It might be a bit premature to say that the retcon is pointless if we’re only in Act Two of a Three Series arc.

    She seems to have had rather more than most though.

    Yes. Agreed. The Whittaker Doctor has had a massive amount of character development compared to other Doctors. Other Doctors usually get to develop in a major way just before regeneration.

    I’ve discussed in a post above why leaving Ko Sharmus to blow everything up can be seen as completely in character – the character the Whittaker Doctor developed in her first series (I did a blog about it). She is not responsible for everyone, she cannot save everyone, she has to allow people what I supposed we’d now call their own agency. She has to allow Ko Sharmus to take responsibility for his actions.

    She learnt to do a ‘flat team structure’ rather than ‘listen to me being brilliant’, and in this second series she’s been re-learning that there are times when the team structure has to be anything but flat; because she really is special. Sometimes she can save everyone – or, at least, someone.

    Who is she? She’s the Doctor. But who is the Doctor?

    Doctor Who. 😀

    #69978
    Anonymous @

    Anybody else remember the mindbending battle between the 4th Doctor and the Brain of Morbius, when it starting flashing through images of previous doctors…and it didnt stop at Hartnell’s Doctor either. Just a thought for the debate for retcon’s sake, lol

    #69979
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @bluesqueakpip

    But I suppose my main point is that I’m developing a deep suspicion that had the Holmes/Hinchcliffe/Nation plot points been broadcast under the name ‘Chris Chibnall’, you would even now be telling me how awful they are.

    Well that’s a rather lame attempt to paint me as a ‘bowelstreak’ type naysayer, isn’t it? Especially when coupled with:

    I think you and @phaseshift keep saying this retcon is pointless and forgetting that it’s a re-retcon.

    Because I’ve carefully reread what I actually wrote and I have never suggested it is pointless. I asked what other people thought the point was. I suppose I should say that I’m developing a deep suspicion that you’re too invested in defending some pretty suspect writing to meaningfully debate these points without resorting to the above tactics.

    So let’s cut to the chase. There could be a little bit of ego going on here as @blenkinsopthebrave suggested. It’s not likely though. BBC brand management have to OK most ideas that could fundmentally alter the character or even discuss his early life (Moffat revealed convincing them that he wasn’t going to name the Doctor in Name of the Doctor was fairly tortuous). No – this is something the BBC wants.

    Chris Chibnall is about as interested in resolving barely remembered continuity issues as I am. And I remind everyone here that I have long expressed the opinion that Doctor Who doesn’t have a canon, more something like a mythos. Having a pretty good grasp of Who stories (my wife would opine “an embarrassingly encyclopedic knowledge bordering on ****ing scary”) I could point out that the story not only retcons the Doctors history, but the outcome of he Cyberwars themselves (see Revenge of the Cybermen, Ark in Space and the various stories about the mass exodus from solar storms for more information). But what the hell.

    I’m sure @jimthefish is right in that the choice of a young female POC to play the original Timeless Child was meant to goad the few NMDs that are still watching. I treat it in the same way I treated RTDs efforts to goad religious people with his “the Doctor is like Jesus, but cooler” moments. The alternative is that Chibnall is actually an inept corporate SJW who thinks that having the original Doctor as a young female POC neutralises all those accusations that Who was sexist and racist in the old days. A bit like the idiots who thought Sulu should be gay in the new Star Trek films to address ‘inclusivity’ issues, and ‘honour’ George Takei. An actor who promptly gave them a well deserved kicking over it.

    No – I think the real reason is the future. Some may remember the David Yates film argy-bargy? You know – David Yates (of Harry Potter film fame) has secret talks with BBC Worldwide. Announces development of film. Moffat suggests ‘over my dead body’, embarrassing wikileaks emails between Sony and the BBC emerge. If you don’t know about it look it up. It’s very entertaining. The final BBC email suggested the next showrunner would be much more amenable. Talks resumed in earnest last year. Interest in casting a female Doctor, but not JW.

    So – not really the future, more the past. This move gives an almost infinite possibility of franchising, movies, audio, comics. “Don’t pay for likenesses of people who made the show what it is – make your own Doctor!” “Hey – have a Doctor per movie if that’s what you want!”. All without raising expectations that a famous film star must eventually become a Doctor on TV because they were future versions. “No mate”, says the BBC “She/He was pre-Hartnell”.

    As I said. It’s a retcon that draws on fanwank. It’s entirely cynical. Designed to sell more content. Franchising. ‘The Doctor Who Universe(TM)’. Welcome to the future. Its set in the past.

    #69980
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @phaseshift

    Okay, I’m going to pull some quotes from your first post:

    That was as cynical a bit of fanwank as you are likely to experience.

    and

    Chris Chibnall who is a mediocre mind with a small gift for self selling.

    Those two sandwich praise for Robert Holmes and Philip Hinchcliffe from the Tom Baker era. Your point is that (another quote):

    If every retcon is done for a reason, then what is the reason for this one?

    Okay. I did not make a lame attempt to paint you as a bowel-streaked naysayer. Your first post did that. That would’ve passed muster on T’Other place, with the bowel-streaked naysayers on there greeting you as a man and a brother. It’s all there. Insulting the current producer? Check. Praising the Tom Baker era? Check. Use of obscure details of knowledge? Check. Praising a never seen story that only a ‘real fan’ would know about? Check. Rhetorical question implying that the retcon was pointless? Well, that’s what I thought it was. So, check.

    Apologies if I sounded somewhat irate, but I was like ‘Where is Phaseshift and what have they done with him?’

    Let’s get one thing absolutely straight (and I may sound irate again). This is the first series I’ve really looked forward to rewatching for four solid series. I liked the Whittaker Doctor. I enjoyed the stories. The lead up to the retcon was fun and I’m going to enjoy spotting clues I missed. And I like the retcon; it opens up so very many possibilities for future writers. ‘Invested’. Yup. I tend to be that way when someone tells me I shouldn’t like something I do like because writer X is so, so much a superior writer and writer Y (the one I like) is a talentless hack. Stuff that.

    Yes, one of those retcon possibilities is a Doctor Who movie with a bankable star – because even the most bankable British stars Doctor Who has created are still ‘Supporting Actor’ when it comes to Hollywood. I bet the BBC really liked the ‘infinite previous Doctors’ when it was floated to them – or alternatively, that when the BBC told Chibnall they’d like some way of being able to use non-TV Doctors in a franchise, he promptly went ‘that dratted Brain of Morbius scene – I can use that.’

    Apparently that’s cynical fanwank. Well, I’m sorry, but show business is a business (I know; I’ve been trying to make a living in it for thirty years) – and the BBC is facing big financial trouble up ahead. Professional TV writers are asked to write stories to order. I’m not really interested in whether the idea of possibly infinite Doctors was pitched by Chibnall (he may well have done, he might have had an Morbius idea buzzing around in his head from his fan days) or to Chibnall.

    What I care about is that I enjoyed the story.

    #69981
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @phaseshift

    I could point out that the story not only retcons the Doctors history, but the outcome of he Cyberwars themselves (see Revenge of the Cybermen, Ark in Space and the various stories about the mass exodus from solar storms for more information). But what the hell.

    Wasn’t that dealt with in The Haunting at Villa Diodati when the Doctor points out that history tells us Shelley should have been in the room? That story also possibly retcons Mary Shelley’s travels with the Doctor as well as the outcomes of the Cyberwars – but the point is that the audience was told history was being changed.

    It was one of the mantras of the Moffat era: Time Can Be Changed. There’s more than one possible future and the Doctor can visit those possibilities (see also Pyramids of Mars).

    [Edit: That awful Orphan 55 also implied that the future just visited didn’t have to happen]

    #69982
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    I knew it was my first post that drew your ire @bluesqueakpip. The response spoke volumes.

    But ‘I repeat’ this is as cynical a fanwank as you are likely to experience.

    I’ve explained my reasons. Your response is pretty poor. I think that the obfuscation and misattriubution paints a picture. And then colours it in.

    Go at it.I have no grist to grind here. You enjoyed the story. Well done!

    #69985
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    And no apologies for misattriubution of comments. Does this demand a recount. Did we reach quorum!? We need answers!

    #69986
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    And no apologies for misattriubution of comments. Does this demand a recount. Did we reach quorum!? We need answers!

    #69987
    Whisht @whisht

    Interesting discussion – thanks @phaseshift for the insight into ‘franchise’.
    And thanks @bluesqueakpip for giving me reasons to be a bit kinder to this story (arc?).

    For me, I like that Whittaker’s Doctor has developed over two series. I think it was conscious – almost a reverse of what they’d planned for Colin Baker.
    For WhitDoc she’s Fizzy at first. Now she shows Fission. Perhaps Fury in Series 3?!
    Agree with you it feels like a planned 3 series Arc (forgive me if you didn’t mean that).

    I’m still a bit uncomfortable that the Doctor is ‘super’/ ‘special’ in some way (more than being a TL!).
    I always thought part of the charm was that the Doctor was considered a somewhat mediocre Timelord, but who showed their qualities through kindness, heroism, selflessness (while also being tetchy, selfish, pompous etc). A ‘renegade TL’, a rebel. We can all identify with that (especially if we ourselves don’t rebel).
    Just feels a bit ‘oh s/he was special all along – maybe their virtues are due to their specialness, not their decency in overcoming their background’.

    I’m also really a bit mixed with how I see her deal with violence in this series. I guess the First Doctor had their rock, and selfishness. Now we have a pre-Hartnell Doctor that is fine with guns, viciously ripping horns off Judoon and allowing Ko Sharma to kill all life on Gallifrey.
    Unlike Blue I don’t see the Doctor learning to allow Ko Sharma to take responsibility for his actions.
    I see it as giving up on saving Cybermen and Master (oh well) but far worse in killing all life on the planet. While watching I assumed Shobogans were still alive and maybe miniaturised TLs ‘saved’ by the Master for use by the Cybermen.
    I guess it doesn’t feel a natural development for this Doctor, but I’ll re-read Blue’s logic and maybe it’ll win me over.

    However, what is really good is that Whittaker is playing the Doctor in a nuanced way now and I like that. Also Chibnall did seed much of the final denouement through the series (DNA tampering, mind-wipes, everyone-seems-to-be-the-Doctor, etc). [btw Ko Sharmas had a very Doctor-ry hand flutter over the controls before being told not to touch!]. The production especially of the finale is incredible (maybe a lot of focus and effort went into the first and last two-parters and poor ol’ Orphan 55 was left… an orphan).

    #69988
    HRCHri @hrchri

    Who would like to see 14th Doctor to be Hugh Laurie, same character as G. House in House MD. Doctor to be both arrogant and in pain to have the  Doctor to help people but not for humane reason but for sole purpose of proving he is unstoppable because he is more than Time Lords, more than universe itself. A plot twist which will at the end result with regeneration because doctor has “changed”. I think this would be great season, like another War Doctor but this time it will play more with this re-carnation and give us some great episodes.

    #69989
    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    After a second viewing, I still have the same feelings as after the first (although I do take on board @phaseshift‘s point that the BBC hierarchy would need to approve a retcon–or re-retcon). Having said that, Part of my unease with where Chibnall is taking the show is that he seems to be taking it  back to RTD, if not JNT. Looking over the comments, I find myself agreeing with @whisht (especially on the previous charm of the Doctor being a somewhat mediocre Timelord, who rebels against a supercilious Timelord elite). And also agreeing with @jimthefish and @phaseshift that this particularly retcon seems pretty pointless. But it’s done so I suppose we will have to live with it, until a future show runner retcons the retcon. As I type this, I also think there is another issue I have with making the Doctor “special”. It reminds me of a trend in recent James Bond movies like Skyfall and Spectre, in that the focus has turned to Bond the person and his family history. I find that far less interesting than the writers obviously do.

    But my main reservation remains the one I pointed out after my first viewing: too much of what we have been asked to believe is on the word of a notoriously unreliable source: the Master.

    #69990
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Quick question.

    If regenerative ability is down to the special ability of the Timeless Child, and therefore not exposure to the Time Vortex as has been established previously then how do we think that Amy got that extra bit of “Doctor juice” to create baby Melody? Perhaps it really was a ‘Big Bang’!

    Of course that would mean that that … Oh no. Euuww. Seriously, Eeuuuwww!

    The ramifications of this are going to be so funny as people unpick them!

    #69993
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    Well, first of all, I think it’s important to say that it’s totally cool if Pip enjoyed the story, just as it’s totally cool if others did not. Personally, I don’t think Phase said anything remotely on the level of bowelstreak, nerdrotic, Noel Tardis and all those idiots. There’s little in his argument that wouldn’t have been considered unremarkable on here just a few years back. Just saying that I really hope that we’re not being infected by the Twitter virus where if you articulate any criticisms of the current run that you’re automatically labelled an NMD and basically told just to shut the hell up. Because I do have reservations about the current run, definitely, and I want to talk about them.

    Having said that…

    @bluesqueakpip

    Except that part of that statement isn’t true. Well, it wasn’t true in 1963.

    Well, no. But most shows don’t put their whole mythos on display straight away. Especially not one like Who, in which it is definitely made up from era to era, producer to producer, expediency to expediency. (And it’s worth remembering that the show initially gave us a backstory that bears little relation to what we ultimately got. If we go with your re-retcon terminology (personally I think that’s just semantics) then what we’ve got now is a re-retcon of a re-retcon. Which is Chibs’s prerogative but as I said above is unnecessarily complicated a canon that has just been tidied after becoming too messy beforehand anyway. But to get back to your original point, no, that statement wasn’t true in ’63 but the show did start finding its base format constricting pretty quickly. By ’65, we were getting other TARDISes, other Time Lords (even if we didn’t know them as such) and then it was increasingly formalised from the War Games onwards a few years later. The reason for this was that they mystery of the Doctor was no longer intriguing, it was constricting. It was leading to templated stories — a base under siege here, a pseudo-historical there. It’s just a fact that the longer a story goes on, the more of a following it gets, the more you have to accept that enigma is less and less of an option.

    In fact, one of the fundamental ways in which Chibs is showing himself to be a lesser showrunner is that while he seems to be overloading himself on canon now, after two years he hasn’t added a single thing to move it forward. His Who is utterly stagnant. Both RTD and SM played with canon — actually modernising and streamlining, balancing making it fit their own vision of the show with developing and respecting what came before. Chibs hasn’t done that at all. The show’s mythos is no further forward than when he took over. You could even argue that it’s regressed slightly now.

    Yes. Agreed. The Whittaker Doctor has had a massive amount of character development compared to other Doctors. Other Doctors usually get to develop in a major way just before regeneration.

    Afraid I don’t agree. I don’t think we’ve seen anything like consistent character development from WhitDoc. We’ve seen increasing inconsistency with what Uncle Terrance would have called the core character of the Doctor — ‘never cruel, never cowardly’ as of this week, we’ve seen this Doc be both — and I don’t think there’s that much evidence that it’s anything like a cohesive character arc (I’ll be delighted if I’m proved wrong by the end of s13) but it seems to me more that Whittaker is just being left at the mercy of Chibs’s usual writing style, which is a shopping list of cool moments that he largely strings together by improvisation of varying quality. Even if it is the case that there’s an arc and a plan here, it’s on nothing like the same level of the characterisation 12 underwent — who underwent a character arc right from Deep Breath through to The Doctor Falls.

    @phaseshift

    No – I think the real reason is the future

    Yes, I think that’s definitely the case. I think we’re certainly looking at an attempt to create a DWEU, lthough I’m not sure it’s for a series of movies or anything like that anymore. The culture has moved on since the Yates plan and I don’t think a film series on its own is the holy grail anymore. I’d be inclined to think that it’s more likely to be a Project Luminous sort of scenario, with multiple IP streams, from books to videogames. (As I think we discussed in your Who and Videogames blog, one of the main stumbling blocks for a Who game is the Doc’s aversion of guns and violence. This has now been solved with a Doctor who isn’t really the Doctor (more like the individual who will one day become the Doctor) and what’s more is conveniently attached to a secret extra-military organisation. Now you can have a Doc who kicks names and takes ass should it be required.

    And I think its clear that this has been the plan all along. I remember saying at the time that WhitDoc’s costume seemed to be designed with a brand iconography in mind. Colourful, a recognisable silhouette, looks good on comics and book covers etc. And now it strikes me that RuthDoc’s outfit was designed to the same set of criteria. The sheer Doctorly but unflashiness of the Smith and CapDocs must have driven BBC branding nuts in this regard. Now they’ve got characters who have the design simplicity of superheroes.

    #69994
    Davros @davros

    I think the 14th Doctor is likely to be a Person of Colour.

     

    And I don’t mean like this…

    #69995
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @phaseshift

    But ‘I repeat’ this is as cynical a fanwank as you are likely to experience.

    Then we’re just going to have to agree to disagree – because where you see cynical fanwank, I see enormous creative possibilities.

    Yes, the BBC can sell the franchise now, into areas where British produced programmes are a niche taste. The actors (m or f) playing the Doctor will be ‘real’ Doctors, but pre-Hartnell, and the continuity of the UK series won’t be affected because of the memory wipe. Yes, they can go for a movie, yes they can go for more video games.

    But I’m not sure you realised when you cited Robert Holmes just how much those particular retcons limited future writers. Want a funny regeneration scene where the Doctor goes through loads of bodies in minutes? Only in Comic Relief, Mr Moffat, or you’re going to use up the remaining regenerations in one episode. Need an ‘extra’ Doctor because a previous Doctor refuses to ever play the part again and the script is half written with three Doctors? Congratulations – that’s one of those lives gone.

    Fancy a story about a pre-Hartnell Doctor? No. We’ve seen all the pre-Hartnell Doctors. We’re busy pretending they never existed. No, you can’t ask any of the actors to reprise those roles because they weren’t actors in the first place.

    Important Actor hints they might like to play the Doctor but doesn’t fancy three whole years in Cardiff? Writer pitches brilliant idea for the Doctor meeting a future self? Production company in Japan would love to produce a Japanese-language Doctor Who and has got some amazing ideas for new monsters? No, no and no.

    Only now it’s yes, yes and yes.

    It’s like the Star Trek franchise realising that they don’t have to set everything on the bloomin’ Enterprise. We’re no longer confined to twelve (or twenty-four) Doctors. We can also now have different series exploring different parts of the Whoniverse right back to the origins of Gallifrey if we want, because it’s just been established that the Doctor goes that far back. We can have more than one series broadcasting at the same time – I don’t actually care if you think Chibnall’s a bad writer, because what he’s just done is, potentially, to open up an entire creative universe.

    This could be brilliant, you know.

    #69996
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @jimthefish

    Just saying that I really hope that we’re not being infected by the Twitter virus where if you articulate any criticisms of the current run that you’re automatically labelled an NMD and basically told just to shut the hell up.

    I hope so too – but I think, when articulating criticisms, there is a responsibility to assess whether there’s a genuine fault in the work, or whether the critic just doesn’t like this writer’s style. Is the fault in Chris Chibnall’s writing, or is the fault that he’s just not Steven Moffat? Is the critique of faults in Chris Chibnall’s story, or is it being torn to pieces because it’s not the same sort of story that Steven Moffat would tell?

    I don’t think Chibnall is at Moffat’s level as a writer. I also don’t think Mark Gattiss is at Moffat’s level as a writer and I don’t think RTD is at Moffat’s level either. Which kind of, I think, is my response to @blenkinsopthebrave‘s worry that Chibnall is taking things back to RTD. It’s clearly no accident, because that last cliffhanger was a completely deliberate call back to the RTD/Tennant ‘What, what, WHAT?’ catchphrase.

    But the one thing Chibnall doesn’t have IS Moffat. Because Steven Moffat’s done twice as long as showrunner as he originally wanted, and even if he does come back to do scripts for Who, it’s very unlikely to be during the Chibnall period. So if you don’t have Moffat, and you’re not as good as Moffat … probably best to go for a style of Who you can compete with and know how to do, rather than try Moffat-style and fail miserably. Chibnall and RTD are, I think, pretty much on a level as writers.

    The show’s mythos is no further forward than when he took over.

    I’m really not understanding what you mean by ‘mythos’, because in the sense of ‘a set of beliefs or assumptions about something’ Chibnall’s just blown the show’s mythos into teeny tiny pieces. Then had the Master turn the pieces into the new Cyber-Empire. So what do you mean when you say it’s ‘no further forward’?

    nothing like the same level of the characterisation 12 underwent

    Unfortunately, I hated CapDoc’s characterisation – not quite from Deep Breath to The Doctor Falls, because I was very willing to like him in Deep Breath and I think I gave him most of that first series for him to grow on me. Whittaker’s a massive relief, because her characterisation has grown on me – certainly I’m perfectly happy with her Doctor at this point.

    So if we’re judging characterisation styles, what we end up with is that you like the Moffat/Capaldi character arc and I like the Chibnall/Whittaker arc. For that matter, I liked the Graham/Ryan arc last series, which was a very definite characterisation arc.

    #69999
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @bluesquakpip

    Let’s be clear here, because I think one of us needs to take a break from internet comment.

    I went with you though your displeasure with the Capaldi era. I don’t think I hectored you or even tried to change your mind. I think I was the first person to highlight the unDoctorly behaviour of Capaldi in S10. But I gave you, I hope, the space to voice your criticism. Please allow others the same courtesy.

    I think I’m coming to the end of my comments on the series. There is something sad about a fifty year old lamenting the present isn’t as good was the past. Even if the past was was four years ago. I am going to stick it to Chibnall in a final post though. Just because I think I’ve invested so much in the show from boy to Man I at least deserve to set our my case.

    You won’t approve so don’t read. Good advice for your blood pressure. I think I’m going with “He’s a Chinball Wizard, there has to be a twist” as a headline.

    #70000
    lisa @lisa

    I’m a bit stuck on a few things.  First,  how do we know that the Master didn’t manipulate

    what the Doctor saw inside the Matrix?  Some thing about this isn’t right with me.

    Was the Master  pushing a new deception on the Doctor. Towards what purpose?

    Because there’s always deception around the Master.  Its his M.O.

    There was never anything implied at least to me that connects the Doctor and the child

    except that the Master says so.

    Also  I still don’t buy into the notion this Doctor  allowed her mind to be redacted

    by the Chameleon circuit so many times.  This sticks out to me too. This is not the same

    Doctor that would never confess in the Confession Dial.  This is part of CC’s retcon and

    I  don’t see this path cause it doesn’t feel consistent with the character to me.  CC is

    implying that the Doctor evolved into this Doctor version  but started out as some one quite

    different.  But since the show started I don’t think I’ve seen any one single Doctor

    that would accept chameleon arching their entire mind.

    I liked the fact that there was a story arc this season and it was good but not great

    because it felt messy.  I know this show has always had lots of loose ends

    but I do feel like CC made  this big retcon on the Doctor not for the audience or the

    show’s legacy but instead for some narcissistic need to make the biggest boom.

     

     

     

     

    #70001
    lisa @lisa

    BTW I also won’t  include 10 in that in spite of his use of the Chameleon Arch in Human Nature.

    He did it to transform himself in this particular situation but  left Martha there to protect him so

    that he could return to himself  with ALL his memories.

    CC uses it now  very differently with  intentions that the Doctor I have always known

    would revolt against.   He implying that could be what led to the Doctor going renegade?

    Maybe, but it still doesn’t feel  fitting  with any of these Doctors from new or old Who.

    Because wiping out your memories permanently in the way its  done  in this episode

    is both  ‘cruel and cowardly’.

     

     

     

    #70002
    lisa @lisa

    I’d rather that the Doctor was Tecteun  and the Master was the Time less child she experimented on.

    That might have been a better fit about the love/hate relationship they have.

    Or even the Hybrid that destroyed Galifrey?   That also could have worked well as the Master.

    (Sorry about so many posts.  I couldn’t arrange all my thinking in sync with the editing)

    #70003
    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @lisa that’s actually quite brilliant and really would explain why the Master hates the Doctor so often/much but in such a needy fashion. And why the Doctor constantly forgives them. Things they’ve forgotten which are still there.

    That said, a shared boarding school style experience can also create that kind of closeness. And I’ve quite liked the idea they were friends and can’t quite let go of that.

    As you say though, this story about the Doctor’s past was narrated by the Master. It doesn’t completely line up with the Brandon story. Especially the person causing the Doctor/Brendon from falling off the cliff and the timeline leading up to this.

    Time Lords, I’ve often felt that less is more. The time lock couldn’t hold them, but now they’re a: dead, and b: not the big deal they made themselves out to be. The only problem is a: hints of a complicated Time Lord past that someone is sure to revisit, and b: the possibility of the Doctor’s original people who might just slip right into their slot. Oh and c: the Doctor’s already killed the Time Lords and then it turned out he didn’t. Conclusive as the Master killing them all, turning their corpses into Cybermen then arranging for the Death Particle to be used on the planet (which he did arrange, it just wasn’t done by the person he wanted to do it) might seem, I’m 100% sure they Master got out, and about 60% we’ll see Time Lords again.

    #70004
    Rob @rob

    Well that was a curates egg, good in parts

    I still not sure what I thought of that and as to the reasons why, I shall ponder on and come back to in a future post.

     

    We’ve got Timelords out there already (possibly, probably, maybe) @miapatrick

    Me

    Clara

    Jenny

    River

    The Master’s offspring???

    Susan

    Jack

    It would have made far more sense for The Master to have been the Timeless Child that could have set him off on the implausible genocide (I thought, and could be wrong, that only the elite of Gallifrey were regenerating Timelords and that the many were ordinary Gallifreyans). The I’ve killed them all for their origins as a Mengele type butchers experiment bullshit sort of like exterminating all present day Mediterranean peoples for the crimes of Agamemnon

    Numbering Doctors is now a very moot point too

    I really enjoy Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor and think she has nailed the roll, though Chris Eccleston and Matt Smith remain my top two as AG Doctors with Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker being the best of BG Doctors (are we now going to have AG/BG Doctors a rock n roll super group of retconned pre William Hartnell led by the awesome Jo Martin theme tune Who Made Who by ACDC for all future AG/BG Doctors)

    As for Tardis’s we have The Doctor’s Wife our all time favourite Type 40, The Masters, he has two or more, The Tree, The Restaurant (at the end of the universe???), Captain Jack is growing one, The Lodger (a definite maybe Tardis), the DIY one from The Doctor’s Wife, all the Dardis’s too

    Probables other include The Monk’s and Iris Wildthyme’s.

     

    #70005
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @bluesqueakpip

    I hope so too – but I think, when articulating criticisms, there is a responsibility to assess whether there’s a genuine fault in the work, or whether the critic just doesn’t like this writer’s style

    Well, I would hope so too but I haven’t seen anyone not do that on this site. Not for years now. Writing, like all art, is subjective but there are lots of valid criticisms you can make of Chibs. There’s the inconsistent characterisation that I’ve talked about. Or you could talk about his dodgy grasp of structure — as @blenkinsopthebrave pointed out, The Timeless Children is basically two rather disparate stories, one is the actually fairly decent Cybermen invading Gallifrey one, the other is the Doctor standing around getting infodumped by the Master. In terms of screenwriting 101, that’s pretty poor craftmanship. Or there’s the Silurian scientist who goes from a green Dr Mengele to a nice guy in a matter of minutes because he’s served his purpose of giving Chibs a convenient cliffhanger. And then there’s the sheer number of stuff just left hanging, like Mr Trump Avatar, Daniel Barton etc. Now you might argue that Chibs is making some cynical point that the morally dubious often get away more or less Scot free. Which is actually fair enough once, I suppose, but to me points to an ongoing blindspot with not being able to end a story in a satisfying way. Now, I’m thinking of it, I’m struck by the amount of Chibs antagonists who get to walk away. Most of them. Which makes me think the story that Moff made Chibs change the ending of Dinosaurs so that Solomon is killed makes sense. (Another arguably un-Doctorly moment but one which at least gives the episode a sense of closure and dramatic logic.)

    The point here is to suggest that it’s not wildly unreasonable to have issues with Chibs’ work without being a Moffat fanboi or an NMD. To dismiss genuine criticism as either of these is both flippant and unfair. There is no doubt an element of favouritism, I’m sure. Moffat left stuff hanging (or actually more often with an explanation so buried that you really have to look for it) and so did RTD but they are getting more leeway because their highpoints were so strong but as far as I recall we’ve always on this site never shied away from discussing any writer’s shortcomings. But something seems to be happening to fandom. At one end, you have the repellent bigotry of the NMDs but at the other the fans of 13 and Chibs have become somewhat fundamentalist, perhaps understandably fearing that acknowledging any issues will be giving ammunition to the NMDs. The loser seems to be anyone who wants to engage in any critical analysis of the show.

    Chibnall and RTD are, I think, pretty much on a level as writers.

    I couldn’t disagree more, for the reasons outlined above. And not even for only those. Going right back to Torchwood, right back to his Who stories for other showrunners. Moff and RTD have their faults but they understand dramatic structure inside out. They understand that payoffs have to be there and they have to be earned. Chibs doesn’t seem to. It mostly seems like he starts with a series of ‘cool moments’ that he wants to happen (and often cribbed from something else he happens to have seen) but can’t be bothered putting in the hard work to make those moments dramatically satisfying. Even his best Who script — 42 — suffers from this. It’s basically Sunshine mashed up with the Satan Pit but he more or less gets away with it, largely thanks to the direction and the cast.

    Unfortunately, I hated CapDoc’s characterisation

    Oh, I know and that’s completely fair enough. And as @phaseshift says, even when we didn’t agree with you, there was always space here for your views to be listened to and debated with. Certainly I don’t remember anyone NotMyDoctoring you.

    So if we’re judging characterisation styles, what we end up with is that you like the Moffat/Capaldi character arc and I like the Chibnall/Whittaker arc. For that matter, I liked the Graham/Ryan arc last series, which was a very definite characterisation arc.

    Yes, there’s definitely an element of all this being a divergence in taste. And I’m glad that you’re enjoying this era. Personally I found that the Ryan and Graham character arc didn’t work for me because again Chibs didn’t put enough work into it. It’s established in TWWFTE and then left hanging till ITYA. I think it needed at least one more scene, maybe with Ryan processing his gran’s death in some way. But to be honest, I found Cole’s performance so one-note and dull that this might have happened and passed me by anyway.

    I’m really not understanding what you mean by ‘mythos’, because in the sense of ‘a set of beliefs or assumptions about something’ Chibnall’s just blown the show’s mythos into teeny tiny pieces

    Well, I guess I’m thinking of mythos in the Aristotelian sense which normally gets defined as the structure of dramatic events. These days the term normally used is ‘plot’ for that but I don’t think that quite works in the case of Who. Nor do I think ‘canon’ which is usually used quite captures it either. So, I’m using mythos in the sense that there is an Arthurian mythos, assembled from a number of sources but which gives us a sense of the core story which can inform and support divergences by the likes of Tennyson and TH White but not be affected by them. And since I’ve already evoked Aristotle, I might as well go full pretentious arsewit and suggest that we could maybe equate them to the fabula (Who mythos) and sjuzet (the contributions of RTD, Moffat, etc.) What Chibs has done is that he’s tried to destroy/rewrite the fabula rather than contribute his own sjuzet (God, kill me now for even going down this route….)

    For example, RTD brought in the Time War, the destruction of Gallifrey etc. as a means of moving the mythos on from where it was in 1989 to where it needed to be in 2005. TV had changed. Audiences had changed. So this was the smart thing to do. But it meant that the mythos was still there to be slowly reintegrated, starting slowly with Daleks etc. and then building up to the return of Gallifrey. The point was it was all still there and that RTD had taken that raw material, adapted it for where he needed the show to go without destroying, rewriting, or rebooting anything. Similarly, Moffat brought us among other things The Impossible Girl arc, which completed the harmonisation of Old and Nu Who and streamlined it for the future. But the manifest point is that they added to it, allowing it form at least part of the forward narrative momentum of their particular eras.

    Chibs hasn’t done that. Instead he’s gone right back and as you say blown that mythos into tiny pieces. Where RTD and SM added and expanded the mythos, Chibs has just decided to rewrite it in his own image. And it’s not multiple regeneration cycles (and their commercial possibilities) that are the problem, it’s that the entire mythos, the entire sense of who the Doctor is, what their ethos is, has been changed. They’re a damaged victim of abuse and exploitation now rather than a hopeful rebel explorer. Even from the end of RTD’s first series, you could see that this was the same show that it was in 1963 but that it had been moved on, made to evolve. But has the mythos of the show moved on at all from end of The Doctor Falls? Not really, that I can see. And you mention a new Cyber Empire. Are the Cybermen really in a different place than they were in, say, Revenge of the Cybermen or Earthshock? Not really. The events of the The Timeless Child weren’t even that new and again Chibs had basically cribbed them from Supremacy of the Cybermen.

    #70008
    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @rob that rather depends on your definition of ‘TimeLord’, really. River has some Time Lord DNA (which is potentially an awkward question). So does Jenny. Susan and the Master’s offspring – if such is out there somewhere, are from Gallifrey and presumably went through the academy. Jack’s healing is a different kind of process entirely, as is Me’s eternal life, and Clara’s, for that matter. There are a lot of eternal/long lived beings knocking about. But all the structure, the council, all of that is (presumably, if we can presume this) gone.

    I think the thing with the Master is be might be quite angry but happy to find out that he was the source of the power etc. He might still want revenge, depending on what really happened when the Timeless Child was young, but he wouldn’t be suicidal.

    #70011
    Nightingale @nightingale

    Hello everyone. I’ve been unpacking that last episode for days now and am slowly going mad.

    @lisa : My feeling after Fugitive of the Judoon was that, whatever revelation the Master was going to offer up, it would be an elaborate lie. After the finale, I feel all the more that this is probably partly true. Not necessarily the prehistory of the Time Lords or the Doctor’s pre-Hartnell incarnations, but the redacted stuff filled in by the Master, otherwise there wouldn’t be much narrative value in having any of it redacted.

    Then again as I said I am going mad thinking about this stuff. 😀

    #70012
    MissRori @missrori

    @jimthefish wrote

    But something seems to be happening to fandom. At one end, you have the repellent bigotry of the NMDs but at the other the fans of 13 and Chibs have become somewhat fundamentalist, perhaps understandably fearing that acknowledging any issues will be giving ammunition to the NMDs. The loser seems to be anyone who wants to engage in any critical analysis of the show.

    Yes — it’s hard to find a fandom where this sort of conflict is not an issue.

    Your thoughts seem to gibe with mine in that I don’t understand the reason this change to the canon has happened now. It didn’t really affect the outcome of the episode, and we’re going straight to a Dalek storyline for Christmas/New Year’s so it’s hard to imagine how it will be dealt with there. The War Doctor reveal (back when he was just “the other Doctor”) led right into “Day of the Doctor”, where it was central to the plot. And I don’t have a firm enough idea of where Thirteen’s character development is going to theorize what she will do with this information down the line. Heck, she’s just left Gallifrey twisting in the wind; aren’t they going to get back to that? Maybe all this should have been saved for her grand finale storyline.

    Oh, and I thought I was the only one reminded of Supremacy of the Cybermen with the Cyber-Lords concept. I was so frustrated by that story because it quickly became clear it wasn’t going to bring the Doctors together or really confront the fallout of “Hell Bent” on the Gallifreyan characters. When the delays between parts got out of hand, I ended up only reading the first, second, and final issues.

    #70013
    Nightingale @nightingale

    @phaseshift

    Hello! I’ve enjoyed reading your thorough and amusingly-worded criticisms (‘fanwank’ will soon pop up in my autocorrect, probably at an unfortunate moment when I’m texting my mother), some of which have bothered me too.

    If regenerative ability is down to the special ability of the Timeless Child, and therefore not exposure to the Time Vortex as has been established previously then how do we think that Amy got that extra bit of “Doctor juice” to create baby Melody?

    The big wormhole-looking thing where Tectuen found the timeless child looked kinda like the time vortex to me, so Mr. Moffat’s explanation for River might be retrofit as a signpost for the origins of the Doctor.

    That said, I’m inclined to agree with whoever it was (you? @jimthefish?) who said that Mr. Chibnall’s aim seems to be to de-Moffat and re-Davies the show, so perhaps Mr. Chibnall is simply disregarding River’s origin story as non-canonical.

    #70016
    BadWolfAlice @badwolfalice

    @jimthefish I don’t agree that this storyline is designed to make room for a Doctor Who Extended Universe, because such a thing already exists. As I’m sure you know, there are hundreds of Doctor Who books and comics, and a fair few video games too – and that’s before we mention the ridiculously prolific Big Finish. The pre-Hartnell regenerations will certainly open up some new possibilities for stories, and potentially allow one-off actors to play the Doctor (which I don’t really want to happen, personally), but the Whoniverse already has infinite story possibilities, so I really don’t think the BBC would need to shake up the Doctor’s backstory this much just for commercial purposes. I’m hoping that Chibbers has some sort of multi-series arc planned that will give the Timeless Child storyline a solid reason to exist beyond just being potential spin-off material.

    #70018
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @nightingale

    No, River’s origin story works fine. Just ask yourself where the Timeless Child got her ability to regenerate from?

    And Madame Vastra was very clear that it was in River’s DNA. I vaguely recall a big DNA diagram on screen, and she was rather delicately trying to ask if the Doctor was River’s father. Without using the words ‘sex’ or ‘conception’. 😀

    #70019
    Nightingale @nightingale

    @bluesqueakpip

    Hi!

    No, River’s origin story works fine. Just ask yourself where the Timeless Child got her ability to regenerate from?

    Wrong person? I think you just said what I said.

    The big wormhole-looking thing where Tectuen found the timeless child looked kinda like the time vortex to me, so Mr. Moffat’s explanation for River might be retrofit as a signpost for the origins of the Doctor.

    In short, River and the timeless child were both exposed to the time vortex.

    #70020
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @missrori

    Yes, I think it’ll be well into s13 before we see any of this stuff returned to. I fully expect we’ll be seeing RuthDoc back in some form or another.

    @badwolfalice

    Yeah, there is already what amounts to a DWEU, I suppose. But I wonder if we are about to get something that keeps that extant but has another branch that can be explored independently, as it were. Maybe we are going to see celebrity one-off Doctors. Maybe @phaseshift and @bluesqueakpip are right and plans are moving ahead for a separate movie series. Or maybe it’s just never going to be a thing at all….

    #70024
    Kelleromalley @kelleromalley

    Chibnall did the doctor bad guys. The doctor was always different. Always special. One of the best things about the Doctor was that they made themselves special. Until now, they were not born into a magical, mystical, or elevated legacy, they were one of the people. That is what made Hell Bent such an amazing episode and the strife between the Doctor and the high council always interesting. The other thing that happened that I have yet to see anyone talk about is that the Doctor LET ANOTHER PERSON SACRIFICE THEMSELVES. That is the doctor’s place, the doctor’s fight. If I did not desperately want at least one more season of Jodie’s Doctor I would have preferred she died and Ko Sharma came out saying he was one of the previous doctors. But she let him do that. Chibnall, what?

    #70028
    Mark-Reach @mark-reach

    @kelleromalley

    I don’t think Chibnall did anything wrong here. I think this is just a new hill on our amazing rollercoaster ride that is Doctor Who. The Doctor continues to be different and for her own reasons, yes, her orogin made her special and different but that was the same from the beginning. She was always the elite of her home world, she was not an Outsider (well, technically I guess she is now…lol) or Shobogan from the low town. She was a Timelord/lady. Nothing has changed there but an added dimension has been placed into the equation that is the Doctor. The fact that the mystery has been largely returned to the doctor is undeniable. I may be in the minority but I loved The Timeless Children. As far as the doc allowing someone to sacrifice themselves, seriously? That is hardly EVER the doctor. He/she has always forged her companions into weapons and used them, maybe unconsciously so, against her enemies. Dalek Sec was right. I applaud this season’s finale and hope for more from the Cybermasters since the Master obviously got at least a couple out in time. I also have to say that this Master has quickly become one of my favorites! One great thing about this show is that even if we hate an episode (this is where I point to all of the overly political junk episodes in this season, imho) it is just a valley before the next big hill on this great rollercoaster! Hang on tight and enjoy the ride! I just want to know what we are going to do with the 1996 revelation from the Doctor himself (corroberated by the Master) that he was half human on his mother’s side? Can’t wait to figure that one out.

    #70029
    BadWolfAlice @badwolfalice

    I was just thinking, it seems a little improbable that there are all these past versions of the Doctor wandering around in time and space, and yet the Doctor, in their current life, has never encountered any of them until this series. That made me wonder, maybe the Timeless Child (i.e. the Doctor pre-Hartnell) was put in a time lock before being turned back into a child, which would make them unreachable by time travel. With the Doctor now having met Ruth, it would seem that she (or maybe all incarnations of the Timeless Child) has escaped from the time lock – unless she was never in it in the first place.

    Here’s what we know about RuthDoc. She calls herself the Doctor – we don’t know if the Timeless Child went by this name before becoming the ‘First Doctor’ that we know. Her TARDIS looks like a police box – we don’t know if the Timeless Child also had a police box TARDIS, but it wouldn’t make much sense if they did. She doesn’t remember being the 13th Doctor, she doesn’t recognise the sonic screwdriver, and she didn’t know that Gallifrey had been destroyed. She also seemed somewhat willing to use violence while still acknowledging that she knows the Doctor doesn’t use guns, which could suggest some kind of confusion about her own morals – almost as if her memory has been altered?

    My theory is that Ruth is the 14th Doctor. When the Time Lords found out that the Doctor had learned the secret of the Timeless Child, they got hold of her and wiped her memory, or at least altered it somehow. (I know the Time Lords have apparently all been wiped out (again) in the latest episode, but I’m sure they’ll be back.) Maybe this memory wipe caused her to commit a crime, perhaps inadvertently, which is why she’s now a fugitive.

    (Another possibility regarding the Doctor never meeting the Timeless Child is that she has met them before, but didn’t know it was her past self. However, given the Doctor’s tendency to introduce themself as the Doctor to everyone they meet, this seems unlikely unless the Timeless Child didn’t go by that name. Ruth obviously does go by that name, so if anything this backs up my theory.)

    I don’t know how likely this theory is to be true; we’ve certainly been led to believe that Ruth is pre-Hartnell, and that would make sense considering we’ve just had an entire episode about the existence of pre-Hartnell Doctors. But I think there’s a possibility it’s a red herring. It would explain her TARDIS anyway. And I’d be very happy for Jo Martin to be the 14th Doctor, she was great in Fugitive of the Judoon.

    #70030
    Nightingale @nightingale

    @badwolfalice

    Hello! I enjoyed your post, very interesting theory. Ruth being a future Doctor would suggest a big misdirect given what we’ve seen, and I suspect a big misdirect is exactly what we’ve been given.

    That said, Ruth was on the run from Division-looking Time Lords such as Gat, which would appear to pin her down to her time in the Division in her youth.

    But a pre-Hartnell Ruth is no less problematic. Ruth had already gone rogue during Fugitive of the Judoon, but the memory wipe is following a Division mission, and Brendan seems fairly pliable at this point. The last memory wipe must be during the Hartnell incarnation to explain the Doctor’s current memories.

    Now we know that every Time Lord shares the Doctor’s DNA, could it be that the most compelling evidence that Ruth is the real Doctor (the Judoon’s duplicate identification) is false? And the most compelling evidence that they’re different people (no adverse effects to proximity) is the real clue?

    #70035
    BadWolfAlice @badwolfalice

    @nightingale

    Hi! I’m glad you like the theory 🙂 I’m sure there’s a few holes in it but the same can be said about pretty much any theory at this point.

    That said, Ruth was on the run from Division-looking Time Lords such as Gat, which would appear to pin her down to her time in the Division in her youth.

    That’s true, but it’s possible that Ruth could be at a later point in her life, and Gat found her by travelling forward in time. The Judoon didn’t know Ruth was their fugitive until they got a chance to scan her, which indicates that she’s probably regenerated at least once since they last saw her?

    The last memory wipe must be during the Hartnell incarnation to explain the Doctor’s current memories.

    I think the implication was that the memory wipe we know about happened at the start of that incarnation’s life, and the Doctor was turned back into a child somehow, as the Doctor and the Master both remember growing up together.

    Now we know that every Time Lord shares the Doctor’s DNA, could it be that the most compelling evidence that Ruth is the real Doctor (the Judoon’s duplicate identification) is false? And the most compelling evidence that they’re different people (no adverse effects to proximity) is the real clue?

    Maybe! The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver also registered Ruth as a different person, but I suppose that might have been fooled by the shared DNA as well. I’m not sure what adverse effects there should have been? As far as I can remember, the only consistent effect of Time Lords meeting themselves is that the younger incarnation forgets that it happened. I did think after making that post earlier that this was one potential flaw in my theory, but actually the only time the Doctor mentioned Ruth after meeting her was at the end of Fugitive of the Judoon, at which point the two of them had only just parted. I don’t know how long it takes for people (or specifically Time Lords) to forget meeting their future selves, but presumably it can’t be instantaneous, otherwise they’d forget what was going on if they just looked away from their future self for a second! So I think Ruth could still be a future Doctor, and it just took a little while for 13 to forget meeting her.

    #70036
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @nightingale

    Yes, sorry, replied to wrong person. I’m definitely up for ‘River and the Timeless Child both got their ability to regenerate from the Time Vortex’.

    #70037
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @jimthefish

    but there are lots of valid criticisms you can make of Chibs.

    There are indeed, and I’ve actually made some of them. His pacing! But I’ve never been bothered as much as you’ve been by his tendency to have characters who experience ‘lightbulb’ moments and then do a 180 degree turn. We’ve argued about this before, I think, and you tend to think that it’s the writer’s fault whereas I think if the writer’s given the actor a reason to do the turn, not showing it properly is the actor’s fault.

    With regard to DrSilurian Mengele, (Malohkeh?), he’s saying nice stuff such as ‘this won’t hurt you’ and ‘it’s okay to show concern’ from about three lines in. Doctor Mengele from our point of view (definitely Amy’s!), perfectly nice scientist experimenting on apes from his – and the ‘turn’ comes when he realises that the Doctor isn’t human and the humans are people like him. Still, I suppose it’s difficult to play all that lot when you’re covered in Silurian make-up.

    Chibnall does like his ‘lightbulb moments,’ and I can see that if you don’t you’re going to find him a really annoying writer.

    Chibs doesn’t seem to [understand dramatic structure inside out]

    However, the counter-argument to that is that the two writers who you specifically namecheck as understanding dramatic structure both commissioned Chris Chibnall to write episodes of Doctor Who. RTD, I think, got him the Torchwood gig as showrunner, and specifically namechecks him (with Moffat and Matthew Graham) as one of the writers he doesn’t need to rewrite.

    Either they think he does understand dramatic structure, or their understanding of good drama is a bit more fluid than ‘does great structure’. I’d also argue that I did a fairly big blog on Moffat’s Day of the Doctor which was partly in response to various fan arguments that it had bad structure. As the meme goes, the Day of the Doctor was simply ‘not the structure you were looking for.’

    With regard to The Timeless Children I’d have to do a rewatch with a notebook to do a proper structure dissection. My off-the-cuff analysis would be that the reveal needed a fairly substantial (for Doctor Who) infodump, of the sort that would normally be delivered in a speech by the Doctor but here had to be delivered by the Master. Chibbers is not at his best with infodumps (Rosa, anyone?), but he did his best to break this one up.

    (See, I can criticise him. His infodumps can be flippin’ awful.)

    I found that the Ryan and Graham character arc didn’t work for me because again Chibs didn’t put enough work into it.

    I’m not sure which episodes you mean because I struggle with acronyms – the letters switch around. But I went over and checked the episode titles that Chibnall either wrote or co-wrote in his first series, then I tried to recall (without checking a transcript) what character progression there was for Ryan and Graham in each episode. And I did remember the character progression in each episode.

    So I’d have to disagree, because while you’re saying ‘not enough work’, I’m saying ‘but I can remember how that arc progressed without checking anything other than the episode title.’ [In acting notes, it’s customary to rephrase ‘a bit one-note’ as ‘need to vary your performance a little more’. 😀 ]

    The ‘mythos’ part of your post is going to need another post.

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