The Timeless Children
6 March 2020 at 17:26 #70038Mark-Reach @mark-reach
Hmm… Was under the opinion that our new (old) doctor was not prehartnell dues to her TARDIS already being stuck in the form of a Police Box.6 March 2020 at 18:57 #70039
Lots to think about!
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.
Gat didn’t seem to know who the Whittaker incarnation was, and vice versa. Gat did know who the Martin incarnation was, and vice versa. But all that might mean is that this wasn’t their first waltz.
Your theory is the one I hope is true. It seems the most positive and the most dramatically satisfying. It would explain the Martin incarnation’s police box Tardis perfectly, and it would suggest that the future is Jo Martin in that outfit in a classic Tardis console room without that dramatically bankrupt magic wand known as the sonic screwdriver. That’s something I could get really excited about.6 March 2020 at 19:26 #70040
@nightingale Yeah, I think it would be a interesting choice for a new Doctor to be introduced before starting her proper tenure. Especially because we still don’t know much about who Lee and Gat are, so it would be really interesting to get to know them throughout this Doctor’s era with the foreknowledge of what happened to them in Fugitive of the Judoon. I think she’d probably get the screwdriver back after undoing the memory wipe though!6 March 2020 at 19:58 #70041
The Police Box TARDIS can be explained as the Hartnell Doctor ‘stealing’ his previous TARDIS – without knowing that she was the TARDIS he’d used before. It actually fits better with Sexy’s comment that ‘she stole him’ if she’d known the Doctor in his/her pre-mind-wipe incarnations. There are then a couple of possibilities:
a) She remembers the previous form and gets ‘stuck’ in it again.
b) She ‘remembers’ (she’s a time machine) that she was in this form when the Whittaker Doctor and the Ruth Doctor meet up and makes sure she’s in that form when the Ruth Doctor fled to Earth.
The strongest argument that the Ruth Doctor is pre-Hartnell is that Gat seems horrified by the thought of the same Time Lord meeting up. By the time of Day of the Doctor the Time Lords are so used to this with the Doctor, that The General is moaning resignedly about all of them at once being his worst nightmare.
From a production point of view, I think it was simply ‘speed in storytelling’. After fifty odd years, the entire audience knows that ‘Blue Police Box’ means ‘it’s the Doctor!’ Having Ruth’s hidden secret TARDIS be a Police Box meant that the audience immediately accepted it as true when she announces ‘I’m the Doctor’.6 March 2020 at 23:11 #700437 March 2020 at 00:02 #70044
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….)
If this reaches the stage of discussing semiotics, your local vicar should be able to suggest some suitable deliverance ministries.
In the meantime, if I understand you, you mean that the Whoniverse has a generally accepted chronological (ha!) background, accumulated over the years, which taken as a whole is what the various writers tend to draw upon. And you would argue, I think, that in introducing a new myth of the Timeless Child, Chibbers is destroying that background.
Whereas in adding the Time War and the Doctor committing genocide, RTD was simply adding new events, changing the story so that the Doctor develops. Admittedly, moving from ‘do I have the right’ to a background of genocide was a pretty big character development…. and the Daleks weren’t really genocided, either. Come to that, Gallifrey turned out to be a Schroedinger’s Gallifrey. 🙂
However, had we been discussing this in the early part of the first series After The Gap, we could say that RTD had removed a lot of the accepted Whoniverse mythos. No surviving Daleks, no surviving Gallifrey, no other Time Lords. He’d taken us back to the beginning of ‘mysterious bloke in blue box’. Yes, the reason he’d removed it was to re-introduce it for a new generation – who mostly had to rely on their parents to provide the collective memory of the Whoniverse. But had we been discussing this in those first few episodes, immediately after the reveal of the Time War, it would have looked exactly as if RTD had – well, blown the accepted Whoniverse narrative into teeny tiny bits.
allowing it form at least part of the forward narrative momentum of their particular eras.
I would argue quite strongly that we can’t tell if this is going to form part of a forward narrative momentum when all we have to go on is the last twenty minutes of one episode. One episode which ends on a cliffhanger.
The forward narrative arc for this series was leading towards the reveal – but I suspect you’re considering it as if it were the Impossible Girl arc, which essentially tidied up the Doctor’s backstory with ‘Clara did it’. Clara did it was the climax of a backwards looking arc. The ‘turn’ into forward movement was that going into his own timeline to rescue Clara revealed the War Doctor, and then the plot of Day of the Doctor resolved the Doctor’s past. Okay, it got a bit timey-wimey, with past and future intertwined.
Furthermore, while Moffat didn’t plan the War Doctor, he had absolutely zero compunction about blowing the firmly accepted chronological sequence of Doctors into teeny tiny bits. Completely b*gg*r*ng up the numbering system as a small side effect, which must have driven BBC marketing nuts. 🙂
Then there’s Robert Holmes (and I still don’t understand why my post on that resulted in my head being ripped off). Again, absolutely zero compunction about blowing the accepted chronological ‘Hartnell was the first Doctor’ narrative into bits, then he made a change to the regeneration myth by restricting it to twelve (which stuck like glue), then there was the Valeyard.
So if you define ‘fabula’ as ‘generally accepted chronological background’, a number of writers have quite happily changed that. The difference between those writers and what Chibnall has done, is that Chibbers appears to have changed the Doctor’s home planet and extended the chronology back into the mists of Gallifrey’s origin. Other writers have changed the Doctor’s biology, his morality, the ordering of his lives, how many of those lives he’s had and how many of those lives he/she is restricted to. RTD changed Rassilon from ‘Father of his People’ to ‘Mad Genocidal Dictator’. Chibnall’s changed the planet the Doctor comes from, her sex and her skin colour.
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.
Jim, I think you’re taking a fan theory (that the sequence of events in the Master’s reconstruction show abuse and exploitation rather than acceptable medical research or the Master being an unreliable narrator) and blaming the writer for what’s presently a fan idea rather than anything their script has said.
We certainly haven’t yet seen any evidence that the Doctor is a ‘damaged victim’, is going to be a ‘damaged victim’ – or even that her adoptive mother’s research did any actual damage. I’m reminded of young River’s line ‘it’s easy’ when it comes to regenerating and Romana’s casual flipping between bodies – what if it turns out that the Doctor’s huge regeneration problem is some residual thing from the much later memory wipe? (Or that the Master was doing some unreliable narration?) What if the Timeless Child could regenerate as easily as sneezing, and with about as much psychological trauma?
It could yet turn out to be major child abuse, but if you’re after abuse and exploitation, Moffat did a fairly good story about that. Heaven Sent, I think it was called? Millions of years of major psychological abuse? Did that change the Doctor from being a hopeful rebel explorer? Well, actually, yes it did seem to. But she recovered.
But has the mythos of the show moved on at all from end of The Doctor Falls? Not really, that I can see.
Yes, it’s been moved backwards to the origins of Gallifrey, we’ve discovered that the Doctor is adopted and that there are many more Doctors than we thought. The Doctor is now able to move on from being ‘a Time Lord from Gallifrey’ if she wants, and the regeneration limit doesn’t apply.
I suppose you could say that in Chibber’s first series we saw a Doctor trying to escape her past, and in the second she discovers that the past she was trying to escape – is only part of a much larger past.7 March 2020 at 02:02 #70045Amphiaraus @amphiaraus
It would be a lot simpler if we all accept that the Dr. Who franchise (like the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises) is dead. Good writing, entertainment, and respect for the fans have perished, to be replaced by the Commie propaganda eminating from the totalitarian leftist Hive-Minds currently controling the BBC, Disney Star Wars, and Star Trek/CBS.7 March 2020 at 03:17 #70047
You forgot to include the terms “SJW” and “woke”. Otherwise, a fine effort. Or, in real money, completely desperate.
A good evening to you.7 March 2020 at 04:19 #70050
I hope the next series makes it clear that the reason the Doctor is so different, personality-wise, to most other Time Lords is not because she’s the Timeless Child, but because she’s the Doctor. I don’t think it would send a very good message to the audience if the only reason she decided to escape from being a puppet to the Time Lords and instead devote her life to exploration and kindness is because she comes from a different species
Thing is – from exposure to the two “types” of storytelling, the are completely divorced. I referenced Robert Holmes earlier and (not to start any arguments again here) he did more to advance this idea that the Doctor, by Gallifrean standards was a bit of a schlub. Mediocre. Possibly mad, but charming and inventive. It was carried forward by the Williams era.
I think that is a major reason why Tom Bakers Doctor was a success. Other Doctors had been unconventional but the combination of him and scriptwriters almost weapononised the unconventional. And if you were considered odd as a kid, you gravitated to him. Elizabeth Sandifer in her blog asked why Doctor Who had never actually engaged with the punk era, as Pertwee had engaged with the iconography of the glam period. Baker was already a punk before punk started. His oddness and aversion to ‘the system’ was his superpower.
Later writers started to construct more ever elaborate origins about the character. The ‘Cartmel Masterplan’, The ‘Leakley’ backstory for the Eighth Doctor movie. ‘Time’s Champion’. All wanting to make the Doctor the most special of special people. And once you do that, you keep having to remind people of that, with some unfortunate results occasionally. The later NA books fell into the trap. In my entry on them in the Faces of the Doctor for the seventh I noted the more the books developed the more remote they became from the core of the series. In my (hopefully humerous) post on summation of Gallifrey we had a discussion in which I suggested it was better to have a role model that rebelled against an oppressive and unjust society than one who was basically a reborn god. You can’t aspire to be a god successfully.
And this is why I loathe the new reality. You need those reminders. So the Doctor confronts the Master and tells him she is better than him.
Is it because she has a better moral code? Is it because that she realises they aren’t animals? Is it because she isn’t a giggling psychopath driven mad by the sound of drums? Is it because she’s kind? That where she stands is where she falls? Without witness or reward?
No, she tells him she’s filled with a multitude. Her genetic inheritance. Her DNA is better than the Master’s.
There is a lot to explore in that idea. None of it leading anywhere pleasant. The Doctor, under this tone deaf scriptwriter, would surely make a great Dalek.7 March 2020 at 10:27 #70058
Damn, I wrote such a long post and it seems to have been incarcerated by the Judoon!
Short version is: I agree that it’s far too premature to declare the mythos ruined. There are many places this storyline could go, some great, some pointless, some bad. But we do have Dr Ruth, glam-rock Division time lords, and regenerating Cybermen for sure, all win.
I also agree that the pre-Hartnell incarnations aspect of the face-value interpretation is consistent with and no more controversial than the Morbius doctors.
But… the Time War/War Doctor storyline doesn’t really compare. Clara’s interventions in the Doctor’s timeline aside, that altered nothing of the mythos up to and including the TV movie. Day of the Doctor did arguably rewrite Mr. Davies’ lonely god angle by changing the outcome of the war, but to be fair Davies had rather squandered that himself. As others have said, Mr. Moffat tidied up a lot of other people’s messes.
Arguably Clara did have a qualitatively similar impact on pre-Hurt history, and frankly this annoyed the hell out of me, but it was easy to get over because it wasn’t impactful, and was quite a nice ode to the Doctor’s companions.
There are enough mysteries and face-value contradictions in the current arc to ensure that nothing is necessarily damaged in the classic era any more than the classic era did to itself (e.g. Morbius doctors plus “I’m the original”: on which, Rassillon was a bastard already in The Five Doctors).7 March 2020 at 10:31 #70059
Elizabeth Sandifer in her blog asked why Doctor Who had never actually engaged with the punk era, as Pertwee had engaged with the iconography of the glam period. Baker was already a punk before punk started. His oddness and aversion to ‘the system’ was his superpower.
No way! I was having this exact conversation with myself in my head yesterday as I was walking to the shops, more in the context of the punky, glammy Division bods. I and myself agree with you completely. (Me wasn’t there, off galavanting with Clara I suppose.)7 March 2020 at 12:05 #70061
The Police Box TARDIS can be explained as the Hartnell Doctor ‘stealing’ his previous TARDIS – without knowing that she was the TARDIS he’d used before. It actually fits better with Sexy’s comment that ‘she stole him’ if she’d known the Doctor in his/her pre-mind-wipe incarnations.
Mm, that’s definitely possible, and would fit in quite nicely with Clara showing the Doctor which TARDIS to steal. It would lead to some interesting implications; for example, the TARDIS would know more about the Doctor’s past than the Doctor themself does. It also suggests that the pre-Hartnell Doctor spent a lot of time on Earth, just like they do now (although we could already have guessed that from RuthDoc choosing to chameleon arch herself on Earth).
Yeah, I really don’t like the Doctor using this revelation as a way to say she’s better than the Master. On the other hand though, we’ve seen time and time again that the Doctor is not perfect. If this is leading up to another ‘Time Lord Victorious’ moment, where the Doctor becomes obsessed with the power she now believes herself to have, before crashing back down to earth (so to speak), I think it could work. I’m willing to give Chibnall the benefit of the doubt for now in the hope that he takes this to a reasonable conclusion.
That said, I’m also concerned by the Doctor’s apparent lack of remorse at not just blowing up all the other Time Lords on Gallifrey, but allowing a human to sacrifice himself to do that. She didn’t have much choice, given that it was the only way of stopping the CyberMasters, but she didn’t seem to be as distraught as you’d expect; she was clearly tired and upset in general, but as far as I can remember she didn’t actually comment on the fact that pretty much her entire species has just been killed, again. Maybe this will be expanded on in the next series too though. I don’t have a huge amount of faith in Chibnall’s ability to follow through on his set-ups, after the plot points that he just left hanging in this series without explaining them (the main ones that spring to mind are Daniel Barton having 7% non-human DNA, and the Master being trapped in the Kasaavin dimension), but we’ll see.7 March 2020 at 12:20 #70062
Daniel Barton was explained both in Spyfall and in the finale – in Spyfall, from what I remember, it was explained that his computer geek persona was so strong, he’d used himself as a beta testa for splicing the alien DNA into humans – so that they could become hard drives, presumably.
The Master/Missy always escapes and he/she hardly ever explains how. The explanation in The Witch’s Familiar is a very rare beast indeed.
Yeah, I really don’t like the Doctor using this revelation as a way to say she’s better than the Master.
Given that the Master’s just murdered her adoptive home, is sending Cybermen to see if they can kill off her companions and has kidnapped her and stuffed her in the Matrix – I think being a bit tetchy and snappily using his revelation to get one-up on him is allowable. As you say, she isn’t perfect.7 March 2020 at 12:45 #70063
that altered nothing of the mythos up to and including the TV movie.
That’s quite true, but can we argue that a showrunner has to treat the Pre Gap mythos as sacrosanct? Which bit of it is sacrosanct? How do we reconcile the already existing inconsistencies? Moffat inserted an extra Doctor from the Gap into the running order. Chibnall’s inserted an adoption (and extra Doctors) into the Pre-history (or New Gap?) before Hartnell. ‘Adopted foundling’ does change one heck of a lot – but it fits with the ‘oddball, misfit’ Doctor that we’ve seen. The obviously very talented and special saver-of-worlds who is nonetheless mediocre at being a Time Lord.
Neither showrunner changed what we saw on screen, but they both may have changed the meaning of what we saw. Chibnall’s tag line for this arc was: ‘everything you think you know is a lie’. Well, after The Day of the Doctor, a lot of fans could apply that tag line to the Eccleston and Tennant Doctors, because they’d say that – now – Gallifrey was never really destroyed. So all Tennant’s very beautiful angst was based on his believing a lie…
(I’d argue that there were two time lines, but that’s another story).7 March 2020 at 13:08 #70064
Oh right, I must have forgotten the explanation of Barton. I wonder if he’ll be back at some point, seeing as he got away at the end of the episode.
That’s true about the Master but I still think there should have been at least an acknowledgement that he was trapped last time we saw him, instead of him just showing up and nobody questioning it.
I accept your point that what the Doctor said was reasonable given the circumstances. I think the reason some people are criticising it is because often when the Doctor says or does something questionable, it’s framed in a somewhat negative light (for example, a companion might be uncomfortable with it or the Doctor might say they regret it afterwards), whereas there was nothing like that when she spoke to the Master in this episode. Knowing the Master though, it seems likely that he was trying to goad her into that kind of reaction anyway.7 March 2020 at 13:22 #70065
No, I don’t want to start any arguments again either. So:
No, she tells him she’s filled with a multitude. Her genetic inheritance. Her DNA is better than the Master’s.
While that is a possible interpretation, I would say that at the moment, it’s a theory. It’s a theory based on the Master’s obsessive anger at having the Doctor’s DNA inside him – but the Master is the villain, not the hero.
An alternative theory would be that the Doctor caps the Master’s misquote of Shelley (‘look at my works and despair’) with a misquote from Walt Whitman (“I contain multitudes.”)
The past and present wilt—I have fill’d them, emptied them.
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
Listener up there! what have you to confide to me?
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.)
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab.
Who has done his day’s work? who will soonest be through with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me?
Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late?
So the Master references a poem about a mighty king who has been destroyed by Time, the Doctor references a poem about ordinary people doing ordinary things. The ‘multitudes’ are not her DNA; they are her past selves. The Master thought finding out she was adopted/not-a-Time-Lord-by-birth would break her; for the Doctor it simply means there is an entire past out there waiting for her. The Master is scared of that new past, she is still the confident, hopeful explorer.
Another alternative theory. Tom Baker really was an icon of his time. Punk before punk, as you say. But what is our time? Punk, misfits – they’re practically mainstream.
Well, our time is one where people discover that our past wasn’t quite the glowing iconography we thought it was – and then try to pull the symbols of that past down, destroy it. Remove statues, rename colleges, insist that a country can’t fly one of its own flags. Basically, that’s what the Master’s done. He’s destroyed Gallifrey, pulled down the statues, so to speak. The good went with the bad and now nothing remains. And it broke him.
The Doctor, otoh, says to herself in the Matrix
DOCTOR: Of course they would. All this, it means I’m not who I thought I was.
RUTH: Because your memories aren’t compatible with what you learnt today.
RUTH: Have you ever been limited by who you were before?
So maybe one of the things Chibbers is trying to say through the Doctor is simply that our past is important, but it doesn’t limit us – and we don’t have to destroy everything about that past just because our ancestors weren’t perfect.7 March 2020 at 14:01 #70066
Yes, on Chibs these are largely not new arguments and we should probably agree to disagree.
If this reaches the stage of discussing semiotics, your local vicar should be able to suggest some suitable deliverance ministries.
Yes, they’re coming for me now. Taking their time about it though. And I must admit that I probably did some violence to the fabula/sjuzet terms by forcing them into Who. Basically, as I understand it, fabula is a theoretical concept of a story, the raw events as it were, which can only then be accessed by a particular interpretation of them (sjuzet). Thus every version of, say, Hound of the Baskervilles is a sjuzet of a theoretical masterprint, as it were, Conan Doyle’s ‘original’ included. And yes, the fabula would be a strictly chronological rendering, with fancy playing around with time, perspective etc. only something that can be done at the sjuzet level.
Other writers have changed the Doctor’s biology, his morality, the ordering of his lives, how many of those lives he’s had and how many of those lives he/she is restricted to. RTD changed Rassilon from ‘Father of his People’ to ‘Mad Genocidal Dictator’
Exactly, that’s the point. Those changes are not ones that change the fabula, which we could maybe define as ‘The Doctor is a Time Lord from Gallifrey who becomes a rebel explorer and goes out into the universe, righting injustices wherever she sees them’. Things like Time Wars, number of regenerations, the character of Rassilon, none of them change those essentials, however much they are informed by them.
Chibnall’s changed the planet the Doctor comes from, her sex and her skin colour.
No, he’s done a lot more than that. Those things would be fair enough really and more power to him. But he’s basically changed the character of the Doctor herself. @phaseshift has rather annoyingly presented some of the same arguments more eloquently than I am about to, so I hope he forgives me for that and I also hope you’ll forgive injecting a little bit of personal reminisce into it too.
The Doctor’s backstory is something that grew rather organically. Slowly at first. Throughout the 60s, it was contained basically in The Time Meddler and The War Games. In those, the Doc is portrayed as, let’s say, a talented amateur. A nosey parker with a developing sense of morality, aided by a variable wit, an insatiable curiosity and a level of natural ability. She’s only the smartest person in the room when that room is full of humans and sometimes not even then (something that both RTD and Moff have been at pains to emphasise again and again). When that room happens to include other Time Lords she’s emphatically not the brightest, the most powerful, or even the most attractive or nattily dressed. As Time Lords go, the Doctor is decidedly mediocre, save for the fact of her desire to do good, to do right, to make the effort that no one else on her planet was willing to do. Holmes and Dicks translated this relationship into that of the Doc as a precocious but not necessarily gifted undergraduate, suffering both the indulgence and occasional censure of this tutors (Time Lords like Borusa, Flavia etc). But at its heart, this is still the same conception that Lambert, Newman and Whittaker formulated back in 63, even if they hadn’t yet given it those details.
Now, as Phase says, there was something quite attractive in that core character. If you’re a socially awkward, averagely intelligent and not particularly athletic schoolchild, the Doc becomes something between the ideal teacher, the cocky elder sibling, the relatable father/mother figure. And in a cultural ecosystem of square-jawed action men/women that’s something to be valued. The Doc belongs to a literary tradition of the able dilettante. Passionate without necessarily being committed or obligated to the state or its apparatus and institutions and who can therefore put them into sharp relief. She belongs to the tradition of Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple (not Poirot, who has Hastings to tie him to the establishment) and perhaps even at the more ridiculous end of things characters like Paddington Bear. What she emphatically is not is James Bond or Bulldog Drummond or Jane Tennyson, who are all instruments of the state.
And that’s what Chibs’s rewrite does. And not only is the Doctor an instrument (or even a former instrument) of the state with her connections to the Division, you could say she actually is the state, by being the cornerstone of regeneration and therefore of Time Lord power (because when you get down to it, it’s not time travel that makes them unique, it’s their ability to regenerate). And that’s not even the worse of it. As Phase says, there’s now an unpleasant tang of genetic superiority to the Doctor now. She’s not special because of her determination to do right, regardless of her own abilities and shortcomings, she’s special because of her genetics. What Chibs has done has basically made the same fuck-up that the Star Wars prequels did and still haven’t been able to recover from. Heroic Exceptionalism. The Doc’s special regenerative ability is Who’s equivalent of midichlorians. She’s not just a talented amateur anymore. She’s the Chosen One. She’s Superman. She’s Interdimensional Space Jesus with a touch of Jason Bourne layered on top. And that is a fundamental change in the very DNA of the show. That’s like someone taking Sherlock Holmes and basically turning him into James Bond.
Jim, I think you’re taking a fan theory (that the sequence of events in the Master’s reconstruction show abuse and exploitation rather than acceptable medical research or the Master being an unreliable narrator) and blaming the writer for what’s presently a fan idea rather than anything their script has said
I don’t think I am. And I don’t think it’s a fan theory, or at least not as far as I’m concerned. I’m largely going by what we saw on screen. Which was a dark and dingy laboratory that in terms of iconography had as much of the torture chamber or Frankenstein’s laboratory to it as anything else. I saw an aloof ‘mother’ who never once made any kind of gesture of warmth or affection or reassurance towards her ‘daughter’. I saw someone basically using a child as ‘resource’, which is what all abusers do, and whether it’s a resource for physical gratification or scientific advancement is actually kind of by the by.
You’re right, of course, and that we have to treat the Master as an unreliable narrator (and I’m still not convinced that this won’t all be some kind of Matrix-induced hoax or at the very least the Master is going to have been coming to some erroneous conclusions). But until we see that on screen, we have to go by what we have been given. And that, to me, means the above. And it’s not, by the way, opposed to this general plotline; it has potential I think. But lumbering the Doctor with this rewrite of her character is damaging in all sorts of ways, and ways, I think, that Chibs probably didn’t intend in the first place. His trademark is lobbing stuff into a story because it looks/seems cool without thinking through the consequences and I think this time he’s pushed it just a bit too far. Far better, I think, would have been to have made Susan the Timeless Child and have the Doctor the regular old normal Time Lord she always was but one who ‘kidnapped’ Susan in a fit of conscience and escapes into the universe in a Type 40 to keep her safe, maybe even get her home.
I suppose you could say that in Chibber’s first series we saw a Doctor trying to escape her past, and in the second she discovers that the past she was trying to escape – is only part of a much larger past.
But is it though? I’ve seen it said on this board and elsewhere that this restores the mystery to the Doctor’s character but I’d say that it doesn’t at all. It’s designed to give the impression of mystery but what enigma is there really? That the Doctor is from another mysterious Otherwhere than the one previously thought? So what? To borrow a line from someone on Twitter, that’s like finding out your childhood friend is from Cardiff rather than the East Dulwich you previously thought. And if anything, it’s reduced the mystery not added to it. Unless the Timeless Child wasn’t really a child when discovered, then there’s not that much to get excited about. The original mystery of the Doctor was that there was a whole adult life that we didn’t know anything about. Now we pretty much know the Doc’s entire past (the Matrix’s Division-era gaps notwithstanding. In that case, we know the general outline of the Doc’s life at that point, if not the details of specific events). It’s not a new mystery, it’s a bit of narrative sleight of hand.
I’ve also seen it argued that this only changes the Doctor’s character pre-Hartnell and to all intents and purposes we’ve got the same rebel explorer that we always had because … memory wipe. But that doesn’t wash either, I don’t think — for the simple reason, we’ve not been memory-wiped. If we go back and watch City of Death, The Daleks, Terror of the Autons now, we’re no longer watching a precocious ingenue in charge of their own agency. We’re watching someone trapped in a delusion. All those stories essentially become subplots in an overarching narrative of a cosmic patsy.
Now, you’re probably right that we’ve only seen part of an arc, that there’s more to come, perhaps even a full re-re-retcon of this mess. But I’m afraid I won’t be there to see it. It’s not that this new direction is uninteresting or won’t yield some dramatically interesting stuff. It’s just not the show I signed up for. A Doctor coming from this place and direction is not the Doctor who I grew up with, who contributed a not insignificant part of the cultural DNA of my personality, of my emotional outlook. And so, while it still stands, I’m done with Who. I shan’t be back for Revolution of the Daleks. I shan’t be back for Series 13. Simply put, there are a great many other IPs out there more worthy of my attention, who are not relying on what I guess has essentially become habit at this point. Especially as Who has once again reached the point of using itself as its own frame of reference – ‘hey, this is just like RTD/being different than Moff/at least not as bad as Season 23’ etc. Who was at its best when it was able to hold its head up with the stories contemporary with it, as being of the same or greater quality. At the moment, when you put it up against Picard, The Good Place, Altered Carbon or the many other shows out there, it just doesn’t measure up.
And so in the words of Tegan, ‘It’s just not fun anymore.’ For the time being at least and it’s actually looking like it might even be for good, I’m out I think.7 March 2020 at 14:19 #70068
Oh, I’m not arguing that the old canon is sacrosanct. There’s just a difference between what Moffat did — filling a gap we all knew existed without altering anything before it — and what Chibnall may have done: adding a gap that wasn’t there and filling it with stuff that impacts everything from Hartnell onwards.
Well, after The Day of the Doctor, a lot of fans could apply that tag line to the Eccleston and Tennant Doctors, because they’d say that – now – Gallifrey was never really destroyed. So all Tennant’s very beautiful angst was based on his believing a lie…
Except that happened in Tenant’s time. Gallifrey went from being destroyed (he literally watched it burn) to being time-locked. The daleks and the time lords all turned up for Tenant’s finale, a volte face all Davies’ own. As such, one can’t really complain about Moffat bringing Gallifrey back.
Also, the lonely god motif was a Davies imposition. Time Lords had been a feature of the show for decades; it is a head writer’s prerogative to add lore that future writers have to either cope with or ignore, but no head writer should prohibit future writers from using traditional Who elements. This might be why Davies went out with a Gallifrey story. I imagine showrunners are amenable toward the successors they appoint.
Which is another reason not to panic yet about this last series. Mr. Chibnall has so far left future writers an out, as Mr. Davies did. He’s added, and he’s hinted at subtractions, but nothing is yet set in stone. Like you say, the meaning of some things has changed, but major revisions that bind the hands of future writers are only hinted at, or are of dubious source, and have blatant contradictions.
And, to an extent, Mr. Chibnall has done his own tidying up. Time Lords were supposed to derive their powers from local cosmic features, something that didn’t make much sense when their planet was removed from its natural location. The timeless child origin story fixes that by making that derivation remote to begin with. What’s good for the goose…7 March 2020 at 14:32 #70069
Tom Baker really was an icon of his time. Punk before punk, as you say. But what is our time? Punk, misfits – they’re practically mainstream.
Well, our time is one where people discover that our past wasn’t quite the glowing iconography we thought it was – and then try to pull the symbols of that past down, destroy it.
Oh. I was going to say “hipsters and duckfaces”, but yours is deeper.7 March 2020 at 23:11 #70073
As a final coda to my burbling ramblings above, this is a long but pretty good read, I think:8 March 2020 at 00:02 #70074
That is an excellent read Jim (it popped up in my Google recommend feed this afternoon) and I’d recommend it to everyone.8 March 2020 at 00:35 #70075
While I take your points and believe you can rationalise these choices of dialogue either way I think my main point is still that when you go down the path that this seems to be going, you have to be very trope aware so you don’t fall into those narrarive traps.
The above article from @jimthefish is a good exploration of how Moffat played with tropes and audience expectations. He often didn’t land a story in the way a media literate audience suspected.
Chibnall, on the other hand just seems oblivious to their existence. There was a bit of ‘high fiving’ after “Can you hear me?” aired because a gay couple had lived. This was said to be a ‘corrective’ to Chibnall having fallen into the ‘bury the gay’ trope last season.
I think part of the problem he faces is that when his production proudly announced it was more diverse than ever and tackle the sort of issues it has, then it will attract audiences who are invested in those issues, and their core experience/knowledge may be better than his own.
The kind of ‘on the nose’ writing and trope unawareness leads to what I’d consider pretty considered progressive commenters like Council of Geeks or Elizabeth Sandifer criticising the overall approach. He therefore has a problem with the unreconstructed knuckle draggers and some of the people he hoped to appeal to.
I may be wrong but I think I’m more inclined to think that Chibnall is more likely than not to write The Timeless Child and hit those Ubermensch (or Uberdammen) tropes with depressing regularity.8 March 2020 at 11:05 #70076
As a final coda to my burbling ramblings above, this is a long but pretty good read
Thanks for the link. The author is definitely correct that Mr. Moffat’s scripts subverted audience expectations. This is something I felt from The Big Bang onwards. By itself, The Pandorica Opens is setting up an epic finale involving a serious dollop of Who mythos in the form of the Alliance. It was very Davies in tone. What we got instead was the opposite: a small, madcap dose of pure fun and imagination.
Same went for Day of the Moon, which embedded the follow-up to The Impossible Astronaut‘s cliffhanger in brief flashback, leaving viewers with a temporary mystery of how the story got from A to B.
A Good Man Goes to War was easily Mr. Moffat’s most subversive episode, turning the standard Doctor Who formula on its head.
But I think the guy who wrote that blog is guilty of straw-man building. His reading of A Good Man… as a deliberately subverted rape-revenge story is peculiar and difficult to swallow, and I don’t think Let’s Kill Hitler was mocking anything other than Hitler. I think his dislike for the last two series is allowing him to reinterpret Moffat’s work as somehow critical of them before the fact. It’s also repetitive as hell. When someone keeps using the same example over and over for their arguments, be suspicious!
My favourite part of that blog touches on something but doesn’t quite make the link to another Moffat masterstroke.
He points out that there’s no internal reason why the Doctor can defeat the daleks over and over, even go back in time to change the course of history, but can’t do the same to the Nazis.
This gets interesting when you consider how the show started out. The Doctor was not about defeating evil (as in wiping it out). Generally the format was: the Doctor’s curiosity gets him and his companions into trouble; some story-specific circumstance stops them being able to just leave right away; the Doctor must help his companions escape.
Blowing up the bad guys didn’t really come into it until the Troughton era, and got amped up in the Pertwee era.
Two notable features of Mr. Moffat’s stewardship were: 1) the lack of real villains (especially in seasons 5 & 6, but also beyond); 2) the Doctor’s disinterest in defeating them, or failure to do so (see Victory of the Daleks, A Good Man…, Asylum of the Daleks, The Name of the Doctor, etc.) in a manner quite consistent with his disinterest in defeating Hitler. Moffat largely circumvented the problem that blog highlights by dialling down his predecessors’ vision of the Doctor as judge, jury and executioner, particularly that posited by Russell “No second chances” Davies.
And I think that’s a big reason why Moffat’s tenure tended to resonate so well with classic Whovians and upset so many fans brought into the fold by the more fashionable reboot. His whole run had an increasingly classic-era vibe, and failed (never tried) to allow the righteous warrior of the time war opportunity to judge, convict, and execute the bad guys.
What we saw in the last episode — the Doctor blowing up Gallifrey’s upgraded survivors — is about as far from Moffatesque (and Hartnellesque) as one can imagine, something that’s not terribly surprising to anyone who saw Matt Smith’s rare judge-jury-executioner moment in the Chibnall-scripted Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.8 March 2020 at 16:27 #70077
Yes, it’s a good piece but as you say could have done with a bit of editing. Whenever I see a lot of repetition, I don’t necessarily get suspicious but think that they should definitely call for an editor. I do agree with both you and their central point that Moffat was all about subverting the expectations of what Who fans, in particular, sometimes wanted from a story. I also agree with him that Chibs has utterly failed to understand this.
His reading of A Good Man… as a deliberately subverted rape-revenge story is peculiar and difficult to swallow, and I don’t think Let’s Kill Hitler was mocking anything other than Hitler.
I don’t know. AGMGTW as ‘rape-revenge’ narrative is not something that had occurred to me before and I found myself largely convinced by his argument. Definitely the part about how it’s a narrative deliberately constructed to exclude the Doctor. You’re right, I think, that it’s one of the most slyly subversive episodes ever produced and is definitely a bit underrated. It’s almost deconstructing the whole concept of Who RTD-style finales in a way.
I also find myself agreeing with his summation of Let’s Kill Hitler. It is possibly over-stating the case slightly, but the sheer fact of the choice of Hitler, as opposed to another morally questionable (or even fictional) villain is significant. And I do think that it’s Moffat deliberately pointing out just how unsuited Who is to engaging with situations like this. That there are limits to where Who can go, what it can do.
It definitely feeds into my view that you can break down the Who showrunners like this:
- RTD – The Spielberg one. Celebrating the ‘ordinary’ person flung into ‘extraordinary’ situations, even if this means stumbling into oversentimentality and overblown spectacle on occasion.
- Moffat – the Christopher Nolan one. Largely small-scale stories of human connection contained within Russian Doll-narrative structures and often challenging those structures themselves.
- Chibs – The Zack Snyder one. All too often mistakes edgelord grimdarkism for maturity or depth. Is willing to shortcut logical character work in the rush for spectacle.
His whole run had an increasingly classic-era vibe, and failed (never tried) to allow the righteous warrior of the time war opportunity to judge, convict, and execute the bad guys.
Yes, I think I agree. Moffat returned to the messianic Doctor trope constantly and while it has to be said that he occasionally used it himself when he found it useful, his era was largely about dismantling the concept as well as, as you say, reconciling AG and BG Who into something coherent and cohesive. And it’s this that Chibs has probably been most narratively tone-deaf about.8 March 2020 at 17:42 #70078Xellerate005 @xellerate005
Since the doctor is from a completely different dimension doesn’t this mean that she isn’t technically gallifryen , since the gallifryen harnessed the doctors regeneration powers this may make the original species of the doctor angry , which will possibly lead to a new enemy8 March 2020 at 20:43 #70079
It’s almost deconstructing the whole concept of Who RTD-style finales in a way.
I think of Doctor Who generally, in fact any formulaic adventure story. Typically these go: bad guy has very clever plan, good guy is wrongfooted from the off, the evil plan goes smoothly, bad guy explains it, good guy cleverly pulls the rug out and wins. A Good Man… is the total inversion of this, which is probably why it’s generally panned but has many earnest admirers (I love it too).
But that classic adventure template was used many times by Moffat too. What the blogger characterises as contempt for expected formulae I’d suggest is the love of variety that his tenure amply demonstrated. Moffat was comfortable inside and outside the box.
the sheer fact of the choice of Hitler, as opposed to another morally questionable (or even fictional) villain is significant.
Yes, I wouldn’t disagree on the blogger’s point there. I think he’s probably right about why Hitler had to be locked in a cupboard. My disagreement is only with the idea that this is “mocking” anybody else’s work. Subverting norms, absolutely.
I’m not a massive Christopher Nolan fan. I actually find more in common between Nolan and Chibnall: namely independent and extravagant set pieces glued together with extensive exposition that doesn’t add up.
The RTD/Spielberg comparison is apt. Spielberg once said that, if you put in the groundwork, the audience will go with you on the ending, no matter how ridiculous. That does correlate well to Mr. Davies’ painsteaking, fascinating set-ups that tend to end with e.g. flying Jesus Doctor or force lightning Master.
Moffat… I don’t know. He’s well embedded in light entertainment, but is a meticulous and interesting plotter who likes to subvert genre expectations. Jordan Peele?9 March 2020 at 02:11 #70080blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave
Thanks for the (lengthy) link. It was very insightful. As were your thoughts. Like @nightingale, however, I would not equate Moffat with Nolan. (I am at one with @nightingale on Nolan). So then I asked myself: who would I compare Moffat to? After some thought (and this is not a perfect analogy) but in terms of sheer story-telling power (and the ability to blend humour, excitement, sentimentality, and satire)… Preston Sturges.9 March 2020 at 04:00 #70081nerys @nerys
I just gave this episode a second viewing, and I must say, I found it much more satisfying than my first viewing. But that’s no different from many of the Moffat episodes that left me scratching my head. I got the general gist of it, but I often had to visit this forum, get schooled on the finer points by the good folks here, then give it a second viewing before I could finally appreciate it. The same was true for me here. Much of what pulled it all together for me is found in my response below.
@kelleromalley 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?
Initially I agreed with you, but on second viewing, I felt this was explained to my satisfaction. The Master’s whole point of doing this, he said, was to bring the Doctor down to his level: to get her to inflict death on a massive scale, and do it because of him … to become him, essentially. But the Doctor couldn’t do it. She intended to, she tried, but in the end that’s not who she is. So her victory was in her failure. As she told the Master, what he did in telling her about her past didn’t diminish her. Now she’s got her history … or, at least, more of it. She’s more whole now, even though a big chunk of her history is still hidden or redacted.
When Ko Sharmus stepped in, the Doctor tried to stop him. But he told her this really was his fight to finish, because he was part of the resistance unit that sent the Cyberium back in time … “but not far enough.” He wanted to finish this fight, and he believed the Doctor was still needed. So he was willing to take her place, enable her escape and set off the bomb and death crystal, thus wiping out the Master and Cybermasters (though it’s doubtful that happened; right before the bomb went off, I’m pretty sure I heard the Master say, “Through here”). It made sense to me.9 March 2020 at 06:49 #70082Devilishrobby @devilishrobby
Ok I’m coming late to the party so to speak, and haven’t read every post here so I apologise if I end up repeating anyone’s theories or thoughts.
So 1st off generally I enjoyed the finale and unlike some diehard who fans who have watched the show both BG and AG I have no problem with there being a rewrite of Gallifeyan history though the episode did leave me thinking wtf at times in confusion. The fact that the Time lord history is not what everyone thinks it is can only open up more opportunities to explore the Doctors past it’s not as if other tv shows haven’t done this before to suit a changing audience so why not Who. Though finding that the Doctor is the Progenitor of the Timelord race is a bit mind blowing. Personally I’ve always had the feeling that there was more to the Doctors history right back to the BG series’s especially in the McCoyDoc tenure there were hints that the Doctor was more than just a normal Timelord. Also why is it the Doctor that seems to turn up at pivotal events could it be given what we now know of his/her history and not being a true Gallifreyan that the Doctor is in fact one of the Eternal Beings that have popped up from time to time like the black and white guardians, maybe she/he is the universal fixer of problems ah well that’s a question for another time. Also from the way the episode ended this is the end of the current Doctor fam, if so I am disappointed that they weren’t given a better send off. It felt a bit like Chibbers was saying right we don’t need you anymore here’s your P45 now sod off there wasn’t a real send off though given how Jodiedoc seems to have had a more drop in and out of their lives relationship with Yaz, Graham and Ryan so I suppose it’s possible she will just reappear in their lives a the beginning of next season.9 March 2020 at 11:50 #700859 March 2020 at 14:11 #70086nerys @nerys
@devilishrobby I didn’t get the feeling this was a sendoff of the Doctor’s companions. I thought they were separated at the end, but will reunite next season. It does leave things open as to who will return, though. But that’s generally true at the end of every season.9 March 2020 at 14:28 #7008714 March 2020 at 06:06 #70121Dr.Goth @dr-goth
Let’s just say it up front. I don’t like the Timeless child idea or the Timeless Children episode.
It’s not because of the continuity issues. You don’t watch Doctor Who if you want strict and perfect continuity. You could make a drinking game out of watching any episode and drinking whenever something happened which contradicted some other part of continuity somewhere.
Not sure how many episodes, let alone series, you’d make it to the end of sober.
So I can live with the continuity problems. Even if the final episode of series 12 has sooooo many of them. My problems lie elsewhere.
Let’s start with what I see as the big one – what it did to the character of the Doctor. As I understood it before the current arc, the Doctor was someone who chose to make a difference. Not because they had to. Not because they were ‘special’. But simply because they could. Yet now we have been presented with a Doctor who is both more and less than that.
The series, at least at its best, has always taken a stand against entrenched privilege. The Doctor is now being presented as someone who is immortal, deathless. An almost unique and special being. You might argue that Doctor must still come from somewhere and that even with a Time Lord origin the Doctor was pretty special. But the Time Lord origin, or something like, was necessary, as the Doctor had to come from somewhere. And the previous origin gave little more than was necessary. Travel in Time and Space was the basis of the series. That implies vast scientific and engineering knowledge. Regeneration was necessary for the longevity of the series (it’s why it was first introduced). So the Time Lords were a pretty minimal solution to the problem. Within that the Doctor was no more special than what they made themselves. What’s been done now is much more than that. The Doctor is special by origin. And while there must be an ‘origin’ somewhere, it so secret that the Doctor may as well be unique.
But it’s also less. We now have a Doctor, at least as presented in the final episode, willing to let the others make the hard choices that the Doctor can’t. And, in this case, an old white male at that. He ‘does what has to be done’ while the Doctor runs away. I invite people to compare Genesis of the Daleks, and the Doctor’s attitude and behaviour in that, to The Timeless Children. The Doctor, in the Timeless Children solves nothing. Does nothing. Is simply swept along by events. Had no hand in helping the companions or the other humans collected along the way. Even earlier the Doctor was unable to stop the Lone Cyberman getting what he wanted, despite the warning from Captain Jack.
An ultimately uncomfortable mix of messiah and helpless bystander.
That’s never been the Doctor.
The origin principle of the Doctor used to be that of a rebellious thief (or thieving rebel) who stole a TARDIS to run away from their people. Now the origin of the Doctor is a lost and abused child. That both takes agency away from the Doctor (the origin is about what was done to them not what they did) and takes away their transgressiveness. Anything the Doctor does now has to be forgiven, because who can criticise a lost, abused, child?
So much for the character, what about the show? The episode took the show to some very dark places. The only way Tecteun could have got the Doctor to regenerate was by murdering them. Over and over and over again. That sort of child abuse has never been part of Doctor Who. The genocide of a race. Somewhere the show has rarely, if ever gone. And never with the sort of abuse of the dead that the Master perpetrated. Even with what Missy did to humanity’s dead, it wasn’t the whole race. The episode also trampled over one of the most joyous moments of the show – the Doctor’s rescue of Gallifrey and its children in Day of the Doctor. That scene with Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt where the number of children on Gallifrey is enumerated, then later the Doctor’s triumph at rescuing them.
All made nothing now.
Do we even still have the same show? Or is this a full reboot in disguise?
While, as I said earlier, I can live with problems in continuity what is far less forgivable are inconsistencies within the story itself.
It is never properly explained why Tecteun limited the Time Lords to 12 regenerations. If you have the prospect of limitless regenerations, as the Timeless Child apparently has, and you want to give it to your race, why limit it to 12? It’s also never explained how the origins of regeneration were hidden. When Tecteun gifted the Gallifreyans with regeneration, did no one ask if it had anything to do with the child Tecteun had brought back from space? A child who kept changing appearance? Why even hide this? Wouldn’t Tecteun have been better saying that it was a result of what she’d found ‘out there’? If the Gallifreyans didn’t know, how didn’t they know? And if everyone did know, how did it get forgotten? Because, if we are to believe the Master, it did get forgotten. If we can’t believe the Master on that, we can’t believe anything the Master said and everything is up in the air.
Now think about the regenerating CyberTimeLord. Think very hard about it. Regeneration repairs damage. Restores life. Apparently the Cyberised Time Lords are still capable of regeneration. Inside those suits they may still be subject to the Cyberman emotion suppressors. But if they were taken out of the suits and made to regenerate? Not too hard to believe that they would have regenerated into free Time Lords. Did the death particle (and what a silly macguffin that was with an oh so convenient legend attached) just destroy people who could have been saved?
The Doctor failing to save people who could have been saved has never, as far as I know been part of the show.
I know a lot of people don’t like the Time Lords. I think Chris Chibnall has just been revealed as their hater in chief. But I like them. The Doctor has to come from somewhere. To misquote Voltaire, if The Time Lords didn’t exist we’d have to invent them. The Doctor’s people have to be long lived. To allow the show to go on. They have to be technologically advanced, to explain the TARDIS. The Time Lords fill that role. Yes, they are imperfect, stuffy and bureaucratic, make mistakes and interfere when they shouldn’t. But if the Time Lords didn’t make mistakes, what narrative space for the Doctor would there be? If they were a perfect, benevolent, race, the Doctor is unnecessary as they’d fix everything.
But with all their faults I found the Time Lords ultimately admirable. They decided, by themselves, that Imperialism was a bad thing (Underworld), helped rid the universe of the Rachnos and stood up to the Daleks, at immense risk to themselves. What other race would have done that? What other race, with the power at their disposal, would have been so restrained in its use?
Chibnall turned them into lying, child abusing, thieves.
If you don’t like the Time Lords, what do you expect of whatever is replacing them? They are even older and more long-lived than the Time Lords (having infinite regenerations). They have advanced technology, even if not time travel. But don’t expect them to be amazingly wonderful. They didn’t seem to put a lot of effort into finding their missing child and where have they ever been when the universe has been in crisis? So we have a long-lived, technological advanced race who don’t do much.
Hmm. I question the point of the change. For those arguing that the Time Lords restricted creativity I would ask how, when you have the billion year history of a planet that you can do anything you want with, are you restricted and how is the replacement going to be any better?
Oh, and speaking of age, it appears that the Doctor’s true origin race is immortal. The series has always shown immortality as a bad thing. The Doctor has rejected it when offered (Five Doctors). Immortals have been almost always shown as feckless, selfish and uncaring.
As a final problem, what did the episode do to the Master’s relationship to the Doctor? Before now the Master and the Doctor were two sides of the same coin. Contemporaries, with the same origin. The Master shows what the Doctor could have been, had they been selfish. That’s not true any more. The Doctor was always going to be what they are. It wasn’t that the Doctor went through the same experiences as the Master and made a different choice. Now the Doctor is pre-destined for goodness. They are vastly different, the link is broken. The Master is now just a maniacal villain, last survivor of a villainous race. So very ordinary. There will now always be this gap between the two characters were before there was a link. The Master isn’t the Doctor’s responsibility anymore, as he stated once. The Master is just another cut-out villain.
Just another thing lost amongst the wreckage.15 March 2020 at 12:55 #70124
I’ve recently rewatched both The Brain of Morbius and The Deadly Assassin to try and figure out what Mr. Chibnall might have had rolling around his head.
Both at first glance invite easy connection to The Timeless Children: the pre-Hartnell incarnations of TBoM; the Doctor’s allusion to Time Lord history being bunkum in TDA.
But both of these points of connection share an incompatibility with the season finale insofar as, in both cases, the Doctor is quite blasé about it all. He betrays no astonishment at his pre-Hartnell selves when psychically battling the outcast Time Lord Morbius, but is mindblown when receiving psychic exposition about them from the outcast Time Lord the Master.
And it’s weird that the one person who seemed well aware that Time Lord history is a lie should be the recipient of the dramatic revelation that Time Lord history is a lie, and that this revelation would be a (multi-) season arc.
It’s like being given an iPhone and a micro USB cable. You can see how they should fit, but it’s pretty obvious upon inspection that they don’t.15 March 2020 at 17:30 #70125
He betrays no astonishment at his pre-Hartnell selves when psychically battling the outcast Time Lord Morbius, but is mindblown when receiving psychic exposition about them from the outcast Time Lord the Master.
Yes, that’s a continuity problem. But there’s no good answer to it, because the pre-Hartnell selves were a continuity contradiction anyway. If they were real, the regeneration cycle should have been rebooted at the end of the Davison era. If they weren’t real, or weren’t remembered, Tom Baker should have shown astonishment when they turned up.
Neither happened, which is a contradiction. Doctor Who is full of them.
And it’s weird that the one person who seemed well aware that Time Lord history is a lie should be the recipient of the dramatic revelation that Time Lord history is a lie,
That’s misdirection for you. The line is ‘Everything you think you know is a lie,’ and the initial assumption was that it’s only about Time Lord history. But the dramatic revelation for the Doctor is that everything she thinks she knows about herself is a lie.
She wasn’t born on Gallifrey, her brother was her adoptive brother and her parents were her adoptive parents . Oh, and she had a long and busy life – which she doesn’t remember. Oh, and every Time Lord is in some sense her descendent. That’s pretty mind-blowing.
It’s like being given an iPhone and a micro USB cable. You can see how they should fit, but it’s pretty obvious upon inspection that they don’t.
Just hand them over to the Doctor (any incarnation). Doctor Who will make them fit. 😀15 March 2020 at 18:50 #70130
<p style=”text-align: left;”>@bluesqueakpip</p>
Halloooooo! I hope you’re having a great weekend.
Yes, that’s a continuity problem. But there’s no good answer to it, because the pre-Hartnell selves were a continuity contradiction anyway. If they were real, the regeneration cycle should have been rebooted at the end of the Davison era.
Technically that’s a continuity problem for the Davison era, not for TBoM.
That’s misdirection for you. The line is ‘Everything you think you know is a lie,’ and the initial assumption was that it’s only about Time Lord history.
I think that’s more than an assumption. Yes, an element of it is the Doctor’s personal history, and there might have been an intended misdirect for the audience, but the Master explicitly states that the whole existence of the species is built on a lie. The Doctor appears well aware of this way back in TDA, when he says something similar. And yet now she’s surprised. That’s not a misdirect, that’s another continuity error.
Just hand them over to the Doctor (any incarnation). Doctor Who will make them fit. 😀
With nothing more than a wave of her magic wand. I do hope the narrative explanation for the above is a little more rewarding and less hand-wavy though.15 March 2020 at 23:22 #70141
Yeah, technically what created the continuity snafu was ignoring the additional possible Doctors after Brain of Morbius and calling Davison the Fifth Doctor. I suppose you could say that was the point at which the continuity snafu starts.
I’d have to re-rewatch the Deadly Assassin to double-check, but I think the Doctor is talking about the kind of lie history is usually based on – that is, when we put how wonderful we are in the history books. 🙂 Time Lord history is ‘not entirely accurate’. But the lie in Timeless Children is on a whole other level to ‘we missed out all the bad bits’/’not entirely accurate’. If the Master is telling the truth, everything he’d ever been taught to believe about the origin of his species is a flat-out lie.
Seriously, ‘no aliens on Gallifrey’? When their ability to regenerate was gained from another species, from an alien child they’d taken in? And yet that ‘no aliens on Gallifrey’ is so ingrained that the Doctor automatically repeats the mantra, even after being told that she, herself, is that adopted alien.
With nothing more than a wave of her magic wand.
That was a joke, not a comment on the script: I was joking about the Doctor’s well known tendency to tear bits of tech into pieces and rebuild them into whatever the plot requires. (But her ability to make new gadgets out of old often does bear a certain resemblance to the scriptwriting.)15 March 2020 at 23:31 #70142
My point was more that there seems to be an invitation to draw connections between The Timeless Children and earlier, classic stories, but that those connections don’t quite work. Whether it turns out those connections are supposed to be made, or whether they’re misdirects, or whether they’re accidental, is, of course, the follow-up question. We’ll have to wait and see if any of it adds up.
That was a joke, not a comment on the script
Sorry, I did get it, then my mind jumped forward a bit. There was a whole chunk of this conversation that happened only in my head 😀 A better response would have been: I hope Mr. Chibnall is equally up to the challenge. Fingers crossed…22 March 2020 at 03:23 #70213Anonymous @
So is the prison The Doctor is in supposed to be Shada? If so i’m really curious on who we will meet in there1 April 2020 at 20:33 #70371Joseph @jh3ss3000
I’m not new to the Whoverse, but I have questions about The Timeless Child. maybe some of you can theorize for me..
1. Is this story line saying River Song is not the Doctor’s real mother?
2. Is River Song TecTae Uun? The woman who originally found the Doctor, and did all those experiments on him/her?
3. Does that mean River Song predates all time lords as she helped create them.
4. Or, Is River Song the one who abandoned the Doctor in the first place where TecTae Uun found him?
5. Where did the bassinet come from? If it was the Doctor’s bassinet, how old was it really?
6. Is it even a true story? Or did the Master make it all up to screw with the Doctors head?2 April 2020 at 19:22 #70380
I think you’ve got your Doctor backstory a bit mixed up. River is the Doctor’s wife, not her mother.
As for your sixth question, I don’t think the story is a complete lie, but it’s certainly possible that the Master was partially lying or not telling the whole truth. One possible theory is that the Timeless Child is actually the Master, and he was lying to see how the Doctor would react if she thought it was her.2 April 2020 at 20:02 #70381Joseph @jh3ss3000
Yes I know River is his wife. But during the whole bassinet scene where she tells him to read the writing and asks him to tell her who she is, I got the feeling she was saying she had been around alot longer than originally thought. If I’m wrong, it’s cool. I’ll admit that. I just wanted some clarification.3 April 2020 at 09:24 #70382
Ah sorry, I thought from your first question that you were saying River had been previously stated to be the Doctor’s mother.
I hadn’t really thought about the bassinet before but that’s a good question. I suppose it’s possible that River could be Tecteun, but that would be a huge bootstrap paradox. She was brought up by Madame Kovarian and the Silence in hopes that she would kill the Doctor. In other words, River only exists in the way she does because of the existence of the Doctor, so it would be paradoxical for her to have also gone back in time and brought up the Doctor as a baby (not to mention a bit weird for her to be both the Doctor’s wife and mother). Of course, stranger things have happened in Doctor Who.
From a production standpoint, I doubt we’ll see River again in the show (maybe a cameo some day, but nothing major), because she’s very much a Steven Moffat character, and I don’t think Chris Chibnall would want to, or should, try to add anything to her story. It’s definitely interesting to think about the possibilities though!20 April 2020 at 14:40 #70495Cyberdalek221 @cyberdalek2213 May 2020 at 12:46 #70580
Hello again. I’ve been thinking, and I know this is a dangerous thing…. 😉
When we last convened to discuss this episode, and what it might mean for the next season’s arcs, the real world was…a different place. And I’m thinking that Series 13, whenever it arrives, is going to have a bigger challenge than we previously thought in making the revelations of this episode meaningful.
See, I can’t see this show not acknowledging the COVID-19 pandemic, and what it’s done to societies all over the world, in some way once it gets to scripting and filming again. Looking at one of my earlier posts on this episode, I noted that the idea of every person being important is kind of upended both by, in-universe, the Doctor being the Timeless Child and, in the real world, the horrifying willingness of many people to put money above common humanity. In my country (the U.S.) there’s a growing right-wing driven movement to end social distancing/lockdown measures even though they’re clearly working because folks want “the economy” to reopen. What would Twelve think? (see: “Thin Ice”) Humanity is in an uglier place than usual right now, and I’m thinking — unless the companions are written out — the show’s going to have to acknowledge the effects of this on the Earth characters and setting.
Where does this Doctor and her character arc fit into this? Where can it fit right now? Any thoughts?10 June 2020 at 23:01 #70746Ysaig @ysaig
I’ve gotta say I thought the Cybermen were supposed to assimilate other species, didn’t know the Timelords could assimilate the Cybermen. And by the way, I can’t believe they allowed that to happen. Very unCybermen! This will probably be a minority thought, but goes against what the Cybermen are all about.11 June 2020 at 10:07 #70749janetteB @janetteb
@missrori I agree that this current situation needs to be addressed in the next series and I think it will be. Dr Who writers have tended to blend in current situations and this one has great story potential to be mined. The only problem is on drawing one something like the current situation is there needs to be an explanation for why the Doctor does not fix everything. Our world is broken, like the world of “Turn Left” because we don’t have the Doctor to fix things and the writers have to balance that.
(I found this myself in the short piece of “fan fic” I am writing. I was half way through when the pandemic hit and had to change things a little.)
Janette18 June 2020 at 13:18 #70772
@janetteb I have been thinking of “Turn Left” too… 🙁 And of course, in the week since you wrote that post things have only been getting worse with the pandemic in the U.S. and to a lesser extent the U.K. as lockdown measures are being eased — to say nothing of the anti-police brutality movements in the U.S. and solidarity protests elsewhere that would have to be addressed with Yaz, if not the whole police box concept (especially after how the Doctor’s “real” backstory was presented in this and the previous episode).
Series 13 was supposed to start filming in September, but at this point the Beeb itself is pretty much saying that’s a no go so soon.
On the other hand, Jurassic World: Dominion is set to restart filming in the U.K. next week. If a gigantic Hollywood production can figure out a way to start over — then again, there’s actual money behind that.
Maybe they could do a “gap” season that’s just Thirteen alone so there’s fewer group scenes? That could be a way of working through the Gallifrey situation before turning attention back to Earth.
Part 5 of Torchwood: Children of Earth has a character theorize that the Doctor doesn’t put their hand in with the 456 situation because they’re ashamed of humanity at times like those. Maybe they’re not too proud of it right now? Or it’s actually a fixed point in time they cannot change — that would be the easiest storytelling solution, while still allowing for interpersonal drama.18 June 2020 at 13:25 #70773
Also, the Doctor could explain that since COVID-19, etc. were humanity’s problems alone, they cannot take charge of the situation without being a sort of imperialist imposing their own morality on it. Kind of like Twelve deciding not to use a Cyber-army to save the universe, and also an explanation for why they didn’t do anything about slavery, the rise of the U.S.S.R., the Holocaust, the Cultural Revolution, etc. Or maybe the TARDIS knows they don’t need to go help out with those (it only takes them where they need to go, according to “The Doctor’s Wife”).19 June 2020 at 16:09 #70775The Idiot From Gallifrey Base @dalekbuster523
One thing to note is that Revolution of the Daleks is going to feel really odd when it airs. They couldn’t have predicted the pandemic, so as it currently stands what has been shot won’t have any references to COVID-19 or the pandemic. And if social distancing is still happening in December/January time, it’s going to look strange that the characters aren’t observing the two metre rule.
ADR can solve the former – but there’s no way they can get around the latter. I think the BBC are going to have to put some sort of message before the episode airs stating it was filmed before the pandemic.
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