Turn Left

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    Craig @craig

    Another cracker this. A Doctor-lite episode but a Donna-heavy one (yay!) and Catherine Tate is great. Oh, and Rose returns too.

    Whilst attending a carnival on the Chino-planet of Shan Shen, Donna is cajoled into having her fortune read, where her past is carefully examined. An alternate universe story unfolds. With the Doctor missing, Donna must work with Rose, who has crossed from the parallel universe, to prevent darkness encompassing the whole of the universe.

    wolfweed @wolfweed

    Meanwhile, on the Planet of the Guinness Ice Cream.
    The Doctor-Lite slot does ‘Life without the Doctor’. It’s actually a bit more like ‘Death without the Doctor’.

    What’s good about sad? It’s happy for deep people.
    This is like a heart-wrenching, post 9/11 ‘Inferno’.

    The ignorance of chips (that’s french-fries to you!)

    Anyone from Leeds offended?

    The scene in the mirror-machine: If only Donna’s rucksack was giving as much as Catherine Tate is…

    I like to wonder who & what make up The Trickster’s Brigade (why do I picture them in Fireman’s helmets?)

    The Darkness as also (to be) seen in ‘The Big Bang’ and ‘The Name of the Doctor’

    This is one of my very favourite episodes. I could watch it ’til the end of time…

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Anyone from Leeds offended?

    I don’t think @steve-thorp is about but, living in Yorkshire I think the main source of offence would be the “Elsie Tanner” label from Donna. Wrong side of the Pennines and therefore a capital offence in Yorkshire. 😉

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Midnight was definitely a standout episode for Tennant, and you can’t fault Catherine Tate for rising to the challenge on her own in this. I think she’s marvellous at setting out Donna both as experienced Time Traveller at the start, and resetting her character to the slightly mundane pre-Doctor version.

    It’s Doctor Who does It’s a wonderful life, and Bille Piper gets to play Clarence (in a way) before she returned as the Moment of Christmas Future in DotD.

    I think it’s a good demonstration of those changing timelines we’ve discussed, and the ideas of chaos theory in a small change in direction can lead to unexpected consequences.

    It’s entirely logical, and follows the incursions into Earth pretty well spot on. Not going to HC Clements means that probably someone else got selected by Lance to feed to the Racnoss, and the Doctor was still drawn into events. Without her to talk him back, he dies. I think Catherine is great at communicating her puzzlement at being drawn to this spot and it’s effect on her. It’s half remembered perhaps.

    Thereafter, things progressively get worse without the Doctor, and the death toll mounts up as she’s a passive and bewildered spectator to one disaster after another. Martha Jones doesn’t survive the events of Smith and Jones, and Sarah Jane and her assistants die as well. The Masters return never happened, and presumably he’s still Professor Yana in the far future. When you see the effect of the Titanic crash and the Adipose “Birth” it’s funny that these laughable ideas take on a more chilling dimension that the episodes could deliver.

    The scenes of misery continue – it’s grim up North (as everyone knows, apparently), as the family get a full house to live in. It’s actually half depressing/half uplifting as new friends are made – then very depressing as the country appears to have got “Daily Mail” disease. Probably more truth in it than not though. Hats off to the mighty Bernard Cribbins, his face as the Colasonta family are driven off to “labour camps” says it all.

    Ahhh – the Torchwood team apparently bought it up on the Sontaran ship. Lot’s of mentions of these people, which is handy because we’ll see they’re all alive next week.

    Nice call-out to the spiders of Metabilis 3 with the insect on the back. Rose is our exposition girl. Handy that UNIT have concocted a time machine, because we need a maguffin to get Donna into position to change things back. Catherine Tate is bloody marvellous in this, as this Donna realises she’s going to have to do something pretty drastic. Only facing yet more boredom of a traffic jam can change her own mind.

    And back to reality. Still with memories of her parallel life (not for the first time – she had perceived years of a parallel existence in the Library). Enough to remember a whispered message anyway.

    I have no idea why everything suddenly reads “Bad Wolf” but, no – I’m not even going to hazard a guess. Looks effective though, doesn’t it? 😀

    Minor niggle at the end of a stunning episode. I really do think Midnight and Turn Left are two of the most effective episodes RTD has written, and enable great performances.

    And above all, as I’m sure RTD beamed to himself, they were cheap. Most of the big effects shots had already been done. Lots of money to spend on the finale.

    janetteB @janetteb

    ..and it just goes to show that “lots of money” does not equal quality. I not sure what I can add to what has been said above. I think between them @craig, @wolfweed and @phaseshift have covered everything I intended to say. Like “Wolfie” I could watch this episode “til the end of time”. It is right up hovering about the top of my list of favourites.

    Though full credit goes to every actor in this episode it is Catherine Tate/Donna’s moment in the spotlight. Bernard Cribbons was marvellous as always. to quote @phaseshift “Hats off to the mighty Bernard Cribbins, his face as the Colasonta family are driven off to “labour camps” says it all.”{ (I was going to say something similiar) I love that scene and the description “Daily Mail disease” is apt. (I fear that Australia is now affected with that same “Murdoch lurgy”. There is a close up of Donna’s mother’s face, lips pursed, no make-up, a woman on the edge of despair that really captures the mood of the episode.

    The concept of this episode takes a question that I am certain we all have in the back of our minds, “what would happen if the Doctor wasn’t there”, and explores it. And the bad news is that we really need the Doctor and that reminds us, the viewer, that the Doctor is only fiction and we are living in the alternative universe where there is no Doctor and like Donna and her family must confront our own demons or crumple as they do. I think one of the hardest things in this episode is the sense of helplessness the family experience. They cannot even act to protect their friends. Donna runs after the truck carrying off the Colasonta family, arms waving in a futile gesture. It is only the fairytale appearance of Rose that enables Donna to fight back. Once again RTD has reminded us of the limitations of our own daily existance, it is just submission and eating chips.



    ScaryB @scaryb

    I agree with @janetteb, that the comments above have pretty much covered the ground comprehensively.  And yes, you’re right – we are all living in the Doctor-less alt-universe 🙁

    Once again RTD has reminded us of the limitations of our own daily existance, it is just submission and eating chips.

    I want to move to the other universe!

    Bernard Cribbins’  face says so much more than words could.

    Series 4 was really quite amazing, and Turn Left completed a stunning run of 4 outstanding stories – Silence in the Lib, Forest of the Dead, Midnight, Turn Left. Great ideas/concepts, beautifully delivered by all involved. And each story is very different, while being identifiably the same series/central character.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    This is very dark, post apocalyptic stuff. I haven’t re-watched it often because it is just so relentlessly grim. But it is very well done indeed. Catherine Tate is fabulous, from brash Donna to hopeless Donna trapped in a ruined world, to frightened Donna (wasn’t her reaction to the bug on her bag absolutely phenomenally good?), to heroic Donna. Bernard Cribbins, as others have said, is brilliant here as well. As good as Jacqueline King’s performance is, Sylvia makes me absolutely livid. I can imagine no circumstances under which I would ever treat a child of mine so horribly, with so little love or empathy.

    One further thought. I love Series 4, it still my favourite series of AG Who. Part of what I love is that the series arc is wonderfully subtle, different “lost” or “missing” planets dropped in here and there, which will of course pay off in the finale. But for me, the real arc in this season is the growth of Donna. From her beginnings, pushy, loud, a little lost, through her development as a strong, empathic, courageous woman to what she goes through in this story, as things go from bad to worse to worst. I don’t think we’ve ever seen the personal growth of a companion so beautifully portrayed .

    Anonymous @

    Yes, indeed, I too loved this episode and the overall arc. When others see Donna’s back they are terrified and mystified. The woman on Shan says not: “who are you?” but “what are you?” after Donna is successfully returned.

    I agree with @janetteb and @arbutus that Sylvia is beautifully played and it was only when I heard her comment on the episode (or perhaps another similar one) that I felt I could like this actress! As a character, she was awful: grim & beastly with (as you said) a pursed, tight mouth and eyes lined with misery.

    That’s why I have trouble watching this episode, it’s too raw for me. From the depth of sadness in Grandad’s eyes when the family are ‘removed’ to the sing-a-long in the evening when Donna sees not only Grandad but her mother (of all people) sitting in the chair, her little hands in fists, beating along to the rhythm of the tunes sung by the Colasonta family.

    Something about that scene and the one where they’re lying on mattresses with candles close to their pillows in the kitchen area is so real and so possible: after all, it happens in many countries where three or six sleep in a room without electricity, running water and hope.

    Sorry, don’t mean to turn this into a dirge -it’s TV and I can tell the difference but it leaves me a bit sick every time; it’s a reminder of the impoverished in our midst, but on the other hand, a testament to  RTD and his work with Catherine Tate and that great cast.

    Kindest, purofilion


    In the light of recent happenings it is well worth revisiting this little masterpiece, as I just did for the first time in ages.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @pedant Excellent suggestion. I re watched this recently but it is one of those special episodes that I never tire.



    TheBatGames @thebatgames

    I want to know, why was only present day changed, because if the Doctor died on that Christmas a lot worse would happen, the Pyrovile would have took over from Pompeii, the Carrionites would have took over Shakespearean England, the Daleks would have an army of Dalek-Human hybrids. And that is the only ones I remember from the top of my head, it would mean the Earth would most likely not even survive as it is for Donna to Turn Right. Wouldn’t that mean a paradox would be created? Or did the Trickster’s insect manage to isolate Donna’s timeline so it would not effect the past?

    winston @winston

    @thebatgames  I have not watched this one for awhile so I can’t answer your great questions except to say that it is all wibbley- wobbley,  timey-wimey. But thanks for giving me a reason for a rewatch.

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