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    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Hi, everyone

    Terrible news. Forty one is far too young. He was a real enthusiast who helped make his Guardian blog a lovely place to be – one of the few above-the-line commentators who’d join in below-the-line and (sometimes) argue it out with posters. You could tell he saw himself as a fellow fan, not simply a critic.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @blenkinsopthebrave and @janetteb

    Only one TV appearance, yes. There was a name check in the Moffat era – Twice Upon A Time?

    No,I wouldn’t bother with the Valeyard episodes, Janette. It was very much ‘what the heck is going on here?’ but not in a good way. Good actors and crew slogging their way through as scriptwriters died, script editors resigned, the BBC cut the 50 minute episodes back to 25 minutes so Doctor Who had to dump every commissioned script… amazing that they managed to get something half decent on screen.

    As the joke goes, I don’t want it good, I want it Tuesday. They managed Tuesday.

    Of course, the really interesting question is now whether the Valeyard is ‘future’ or ‘past’. Or was always a possibility, an ‘alternate Doctor’, that the Doctor has to avoid.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Quatermass and the Pit Part 1 also seems to have been visited by an inept hacker.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @master124 and @devilishrobby
    Yes, it actually explains a lot. Why the Time Lords have always seemed so … genetically engineered as survival machines (they are), why the Doctor is almost universally loathed on Gallifrey (no aliens on Gallifrey, but the Doctor is The Alien Who Must Not Be Mentioned).

    Why the Doctor is so different (he/she is different). Why Time Lords live for thousands of years but Gallifrey has 2.47 billion children (Shogobhans are the original Gallifreyans and don’t regenerate).

    In terms of what kind of stories can be derived from it, we’ve got the question of whether the Master has really made Day of The Doctor kind of pointless, or whether the Doctor can save Gallifrey’s children again. We’ve got the mystery back – the Doctor joins the large number of mythological foundlings and nobody has a clue who or what she/he is. So various ‘quest’ possibilities.

    Then there’s the ‘Master as unreliable narrator’ possibility. I keep looking at that ‘child who kills the Timeless Child’ and wondering. Just how long has the Master been killing the Doctor? Since before they were even ‘The Doctor’ and ‘The Master’?

    Plus, more guest actors as ‘The Doctor’ because we’re no longer constrained to the current TV Doctor – or even to one-and-only-one series on air at a time. RTD did it by bringing back Liz Sladen to headline as Promoted Assistant, but the ability to have different Doctors the way Star Trek has different ships is a plus for me. A franchisable Doctor Who is far more likely to continue in today’s box-set on-demand multiple channel TV environment.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    As @winston says, there isn’t a transgender agenda. Female actors have been taking male roles for centuries (and male actors have been taking female roles for millennia). Women have played Prospero, Hamlet and King Lear – and I promise you that I can find you examples of women playing some of those roles before the word ‘transgender’ was even coined. The Doctor isn’t transgender, just as the pregnant male in the Tsangra Conundrum wasn’t transgender. The non human characters in Doctor Who do stuff differently, that’s all, and Moffat and Chibnall between them found a way to make our Gallifreyan shape shifters able to change gender as well as bodies.

    In Star Trek they were able to get round it by placing the female Captains in different ships, but regeneration is now so firmly established that only Doctor Who can headline Doctor Who.

    Personally, I think RTD making the Doctor a genocide was a much bigger change to canon than the discovery that she may have been adopted from a non-Gallifreyan species. Especially since the Timeless Child reveal was positioned as a between-series cliffhanger – and as @blenkinsopthebrave has pointed out frequently, the Master isn’t exactly Mr Reliable Narrator. 🙂

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    So who do we get to replace Chibnall for the next season? This is tough. truly tough.

    Especially tough because he’s already confirmed for the next series. Or season. So is Jodie Whittaker. Sorry about that.

    If your internal conception of the Doctor is an authority figure, then the Whittaker Doctor isn’t going to be your cup of tea – because her Doctor is experimenting with a less authoritarian, more truthful, more dare-I-say-it feminine style of leadership. And one of the funny things about the stereotypically female leadership style (participatory and team-building) is it tends to be seen as losing authority when it’s used in a male-dominated area. Such as playing a role where most actors and writers have gone with:

    “I’m the Doctor and this is the situation and you need to do this to fix it.”

    This particular thread is for TV Shows that aren’t Doctor Who, so I’ll bring in Picard – in the episodes I’ve seen to date, the production team are also playing with the idea of ‘authority’. Picard isn’t an ‘authority figure’ any more, and he clearly finds it both disconcerting and upsetting. It raises the question of whether his ‘authority’ was accepted not because people realised Picard was right, but simply because of his place in the Starfleet hierarcy.

    The point is that looking at ‘authority’ – whether through how we perceive it or through leadership styles or whether it changes when someone’s gender changes – is a perfectly valid thing for a writer to do.

    I’d go further and say that casting a woman in the role of the Doctor and then demanding that she play the part exactly like the men did is a complete waste of time; might as well not bother. Moffat, for example, didn’t demand that Michelle Gomez base her Missy on the previous Masters (I think Gomez has said she didn’t even look at the previous performances).

    He pretty much stepped on Doctor Who with this rewriting of his entire canon origin from the beginning till now.

    Since you could say that about just about every major change in Doctor Who since William Hartnell regenerated into Patrick Troughton, I’d say a willingness to rewrite canon when required is part of the Showrunner’s job description. I’d also say that the angst over the Timeless Child rewrite is a bit of a Twitterstorm – again, comparing it with other TV shows, Star Trek: Discovery rewrote canon to give Spock an entirely new foster-sister who not only has her very own show but then proceeded to rewrite half the previously accepted canon about Spock’s backstory. And the mushroom drive? Since when did Star Trek spaceships fly on mushrooms? That metaphor didn’t just extend, it achieved warp speed and visited entirely new dimensions.

    I believe Discovery’s rewriting of canon also created something of a Twitterstorm, but I enjoyed the story. 🙂

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Good to know.

    I suspect the reason I’m liking Discovery better than Picard (apart from one being straight-up action adventure and the other aspiring to drama) is that Discovery stuck to the episodic style and Picard seems to be designed for a binge-watch. Since I don’t binge-watch, the current downward curve seems blinkin’ endless.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    I suspect the videos have been carefully selected – at least, in my part of London people are generally being very careful and keeping apart. However I could, if I wanted to, find a large group to film, (teenage boys, usually) all suffering from ‘it can’t happen to me’ syndrome. The Thames Path last weekend was also extremely busy, and I think you could have got a camera angle that would make it look less-than-two-metre crowded, but the reality was that people were keeping their distance.

    @nerys – yeah, I think population density (or lack thereof) has a lot to do with the rate of spread. Simple maths – even if only one in 400 people have Covid, but you live in an area with 4000 people per km squared, that’s ten people you can be infected by – without going out of your local area. But in a rural area with maybe 150 people per km squared, there’s quite possibly not anyone nearby to catch Covid from.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Hi, just popping my head up above the hibernation parapet.

    So – I notice a lot of people on here liked Picard, but I’m currently on Episode 5 and feel as if the writers have mislaid their Prozac. Does it get any more cheerful? Any slight hint of optimism? At the moment I’m half expecting Picard to return home to discover the chateau has been torched, the Romulan bodyguards have died protecting it and the dog has been nailed to the gatepost a la Gladiator. All the characters seem to have a little sign above their heads saying ‘tragic angst delivered here’.

    Currently I vastly prefer Discovery, especially Season 2.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    I think this two-parter would have a much higher reputation if it hadn’t come immediately before Blink. Three really excellent episodes in a row.

    I’d agree that most of the humour in this episode comes from the villains – because this is a classic tragedy for everyone. Latimer (and Hutchinson) at least have their tragedy diverted by Latimer’s foreknowledge, but everyone else (except The Doctor) ends up either dead or emotionally wrecked.

    To be fair to David Tennant: firstly, I don’t think you’d ever really cast him as an ordinary schoolmaster in 1913, secondly ‘John Smith’ is not from 1913. As is made clear from the script, he’s been dumped down with a bunch of facts, not any real emotional memories. Tennant did try to play ‘John Smith’ (apparently he introduced himself in the read-through as playing John Smith), but he was trying to play a character who thought he was real, not a character like Pip Torrens’ Headmaster, who was.

    If you notice, the Headmaster has real, emotional memories to play in that excellent script, whereas John Smith only has a geographical description of where his supposed home was located.

    The Chameleon Arch for the Martin Doctor seemingly works much better – but that might represent a difference between the Tennant Doctor (who seems oblivious to the emotional impact he has on other people) and the Martin Doctor (who seems incredibly tough, but who’s programmed in emotional memories that explain why she doesn’t want to talk about or think about her past).

    The Martin Doctor presumably remembers her real childhood, of course, so we can guess that those feelings of isolation represented by the remote lighthouse could be real childhood feelings.

    Yes, the Tennant Doctor is simultaneously very self-absorbed and very self-pitying. But it might not be Tennant who picked that over-emotional performance. I remember in his final episode he gave the director about five readings of ‘I don’t want to go’, ranging from very muted to completely OTT. The director made the final choice, not the actor and it could easily be the same here.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    I’m wondering whether racial integration was really so smooth in 1929.

    Not one of my historical areas, so I wouldn’t know about Central Park Hooverville specifically – but Wikipedia says that the St Louis Hooverville was well known for being completely integrated. Given that, I’d say that whether or not it’s historically true, it’s allowable artistic licence for the Whoniverse Central Park Hooverville to have the integration that was in St Louis in our world.

    Rather like Thin Ice, where every black person in London obviously decided to visit the Frost Fair on the same day. Artistic licence, again. There were Black people in London then and they might have all been at the Frost Fair on the day Bill and the Doctor turned up. 🙂

    One of those with the iffiest accent is Andrew Garfield, of later Amazing Spider-man fame.

    I think that’s probably because he was asked to do a Tennessee accent, and he’s from Los Angeles (though at that point, he’d mostly lived in Essex). Kerry Shale displayed a similarly dodgy accent in Day of the Moon – a Canadian actor asked to do a Floridian accent; didn’t go well.

    The author, Helen Raynor, has done surprisingly little work outside the DWU.

    Not actually true. She’s had a reasonably busy career outside the Whoniverse, but not if you compare it with top-level writers like Moffat and Davies. Post Who she’s done a series for BBC Wales (Baker Boys) and was lead writer for Mr Selfridge. Currently I think she’s got several treatments out and a pilot filmed, but I dunno if any of them have been greenlit. She’s also done an episode for Call The Midwife this year.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Dalek Caan! I’d forgotten Dalek Caan.

    I think this was Nick Briggs finest comic Dalek performance – a Dalek who appear to have discovered a secret stash of hallucinogens during the Time War and is just so, so completely stoned.

    Stolen Earth is a terrific episode, in the trademark RTD style of throwing everything at the finale, including the kitchen sink, the dishwasher, the microwave and the food processor. Not to mention probably the Best Cliffhanger Ever.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Also rather late to the party. It seems working from home involves a lot of, err, work. 🙂

    What struck me on this re-viewing was the character work. Gaiman’s given some considerable thought to the way a multi-dimensional time machine would relate to time and seems to have ended up with an Idris who sees past, present and future in the same way that we’d see left, in front and right. Sexy’s a bit like someone trying to drive a car when none of the other drivers can see right.

    But what also struck me, given that we’ve also re-watched Day of the Doctor recently, is how much Day of the Doctor is developing the ideas Gaiman came up with here. The Moment, especially. And the calculations.

    @jimthefish I agree that Amy and Rory’s TARDIS scenes were a bit bumpy. Some bits worked beautifully (as when Amy found a decayed skeleton, or the dark corridor) and others didn’t. The changing gravity, for example, could definitely have been improved with a bigger budget. Or any budget. But I’d disagree that Suranne Jones is playing a Doctor. She’s playing a TARDIS and her performance is very finely judged as a ‘one-episode’ performance. The eccentricity and strangeness is great in one episode, but at that level, over a longer period, it would drive the audience insane. See Jo Martin for an example of a one-episode performance judged for probable call-backs.

    I dunno about Uncle and Auntie, because on a rewatch there’s a strong feeling of nothing there beyond the performance. But that may be deliberate; they have mannerisms but no ‘soul’. Puppets, not people.

    I just can’t listen to that much Queen

    Nobody wants to. Even Crowley would like to hear something else occasionally. But it’s proof of Crowley’s demonic nature that, whenever he’s around, every piece of music anyone tries to play invariably turns into a track from Queen’s Greatest Hits. 😈

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    For those who like (or want to try) Big Finish Audios, they’re offering free downloads of selected titles during the lockdown. Some will be available throughout, others will be time-limited. They’re also doing various special offers.

    First one up in the ‘time limited’ selection is The War Doctor – The Innocent with John Hurt. Available until tomorrow (April 12th) 23:59 UK time.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @winston and @blenkinsopthebrave and jimthefish

    Also watched it again – it really is one of the best of the ‘introducing the new Doctor’ episodes. In a way, it’s a shame this didn’t get a cinema live-stream because it feels very cinematic.

    When Matt Smith pops his head out of the Tardis with that cheeky grin and the twinkle in his eyes I still think “this is going to be an exciting ride” and it was.

    He had me at that moment. There was no ‘bedding in’ period, no giving it a series for him to become the Doctor. Matt Smith just was the Doctor, from the first moment on screen. It was the weirdest and yet most brilliant bit of casting.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Agreed. Everything just works with this one: not just Curran’s performance, but Karen Gillan’s performance as someone grieving but not understanding why. And then there’s Matt Smith, being nice to Amy without being able to explain why.

    It all just – works. A dramatic poem on the subject of depression and grief.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Why. Do. They. All. Have. To Try. “It”. In. America??

    Short answer: an acting job in Hollywood pays about five to ten times as much as an acting job in the UK.

    Long answer: everyone’s hoping like crazy they’ll do a Sir Patrick Stewart: get a high profile job in a high profile US series and earn so much from the spin-offs, conventions, etc that they can come back to the UK, set up their own production company and do

    Twenty sodding years being a stalwart character actor for the RSC and did they give him a lead role? Did they heck! Five years playing a starship captain and suddenly the RSC is begging him to accept the leads. Plus, he can afford to say ‘no thanks, I’m setting up my very own company and going in to the West End. Well, after I play Scrooge in my very own film of A Christmas Carol.’ 😀

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Yes, I saw video of the goats! Llandudno hits the national news!

    Typical nosy goats – no humans around so we’ll trot down from the headland and take a look, ooh, tasty flowers! And typical of a small dog. In their doggy minds they are equal to any challenge and if necessary, they’ll bring the goat down by the kneecaps.

    Glad you held on to him long enough for his carer to find him. Yes, the worst possible time to have to tell his dad he’d got lost.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Happy Birthday! Hope it’s a good one in spite of the circumstances. 🙂

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @miapatrick Yeah, it’s the not knowing the timescale that makes it worse. There was an article on NHS England’s response in the Spectator this week by Dr Max Pemberton which is simultaneously reassuring and scary. Reassuring because they are gearing up to do everything they can; scary because they don’t yet know how long they’ll have to be in crisis mode.

    Both of you stay safe and stay strong.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    I’m really sorry to hear that. I do know some cancer treatments affect the immune system, so it could well be that they’re cancelling treatments because they’re balancing the medium term progression against the short term chance of dying from Coronavirus.

    Or it just could be that all their beds are full (or they expect them to be full) of highly infectious patients and they don’t want anybody who isn’t in immediate danger near their hospital.

    My mum (North Wales) has already been told that she’s not considered bad enough to get the ‘stay inside for 12 weeks’ letter, but that she is not to go in to the GP’s surgery until further notice. Phone them, fine, but don’t go in.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    unless the choice of a fancy breed was a deliberate joke

    I suspect it was partly a deliberate joke and partly that they needed a rabbit that would sit placidly where it was put while David Tennant was ranting at it. It was probably an exhibition or show rabbit.

    But I know what you mean; I remember seeing it for the first time and thinking what a huge rabbit it was – but that would be why the Tennant Doctor would think it might possibly be a Zygon. 😀

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    This is a fan video that Tom Spilsbury (Editor of Doctor Who Magazine)has shared – an expanded and brought-up-to-date version of the ‘Gallifrey Stands’ sequence

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Maybe see what people are going with online initially? I think we have done rewatches of every new-Who episode, plus the 50th Anniversary Specials, so joining in a worldwide rewatch of ‘greatest hits’ might be fun – especially if the relevant showrunners are along for the ride. The Moffat beard is pretty scary, though.

    If we did go with forum-only rewatches, another go at Adventure in Time and Space would be my vote, but I’m not sure it’s on iPlayer. Likewise, @janetteb‘s suggestion of The Five(ish) Doctors would be a good one.

    You weren’t the only one who promptly thought of Davison, Baker and McCoy under those sheets.

    The subheading was Craig’s choice and my suggestion, if I’m recalling rightly. Craig asked for a few possibilities and I suggested the quote from The God Complex.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Well, that was fun. Is it really six and a half years since the 50th?

    I agree with @jimthefish – everyone is working at the top of their game, trying to make something really special. This isn’t a love letter to the fans – it’s a love letter to Doctor Who. All of Doctor Who, from the actors who’ve played The Doctor on TV, to the slightly naff rubber monsters, to Gallifrey, to the reboot. All of it, right down to the then-present-day Moffat loop (where does that fez come from?).

    John Hurt’s performance is excellent. The most Doctorish thing about his Doctor is the sheer charm he brings to the role. Not only is he charming Clara, he’s charming the audience into believing that he is ‘The Doctor’, even though they’ll only see him in this story.

    And I did like the Strax introduction video. 🙂

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    So that’s how the centre gets in chocolates! Thanks for the link to that very interesting collection.

    Thanks also for everyone’s good wishes – my temperature was down again today, approaching normal. But you’re right @winston – I did a tiny bit of prep work this morning, and it was exhausting. The afternoon was spent resting. 🙂

    Day of the Doctor re-watch, Saturday at 7pm. I’m on.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @phaseshift and @mudlark

    Currently I’m catching up with Discovery Season 2, which my brother very kindly posted to me. I’m liking it much more than I did Season 1; they seem to have got their act together and everyone now knows the characters. I’ve also managed to nearly finish one of those ‘books I ought to read’. I think feeling ill helps fight ‘cabin fever’ – firstly, I know taking time off to recover is a good thing, secondly, whenever I go near the NHS 111 website it basically tells me ‘Don’t even THINK about leaving the house.’ 🙂 If I were in quarantine because somebody else was ill I’d probably be climbing the walls by now.

    My temperature stabilised yesterday and is down again today – I’m hoping this means I’m now in the recovery phase.

    @miapatrick and @rob
    I’ve been doing some research on Skype and Google Classroom and one of my regular parents has already contacted me about a couple of hours tutoring a week. So fingers crossed!

    Baby formula makes considerably more sense than toilet paper. If you’re in quarantine for 14 days, that means any parent of a young baby really would be sensible to have a fourteen day supply of formula in the cupboard. Even if you breast-feed – suppose it’s Mum who gets the corona virus? Looking at some on-line supermarkets, it seems to be the ‘from birth’ packs that are starting to sell out; suggesting it is parents whose child is too small for anything but milk.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @rob and @janetteb

    Yes, it’s a worrisom time for the self-employed and small businesses. I have no idea how it’s going to go – I’ve already lost my regular summer work, because it was invigilating for university exams. Theatres are being shut, and I’ve no idea whether filming is going to completely shut down – some series have already stopped. The government has announced loans, rates holidays and mortgage holidays, but nothing as yet specifically for the self-employed.

    The one gig that might continue is tutoring, because if the schools are closed, more parents might want one-to-one sessions (and I can do English and Maths up to GCSE). I think I need to look into skyping…. Normally summer’s a black hole as far as that gig’s concerned, but if the GCSE exams are moved to September, there might be more work coming in.

    Anyway, one of the things I’ve done while I’ve been stuck at home not earning anything is to open up a Universal Credit application. Judging by the 40 minute wait to book an appointment, so has everyone else.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    They’re pushing it as a precaution, because they have some evidence that ibuprofen and respiratory diseases like Coronavirus don’t go well together. The BBC have a fact vs fiction page on it.

    The NHS advice is:

    There is currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make coronavirus (COVID-19) worse. But until we have more information, take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless your doctor has told you paracetamol is not suitable for you.

    If you are already taking ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) on the advice of a doctor, do not stop taking it without checking first.

    So if paracetamol makes you sick, I think you might come under ‘paracetamol is not suitable’. If you’ve been prescribed ibuprofen, definitely keep taking it.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Thanks for that – I’m definitely eating my (frozen) greens.

    Further to my advice above, the latest precaution is that you should now AVOID anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Nurofen, Advil) if you suspect your illness may possibly be Coronavirus. Paracetamol (Acetaminophen, Tylenol or Panadol) is still fine.

    That’s very funny – and so true. I’m still puzzling over the bog roll shortage. It’s a respiratory disease; do people think you breath in through your butt? (Out, maybe 😉 )

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @whisht – Thanks for your good wishes – yes, being able to type to someone is definitely one of the strengths of online!

    Advice from others that I’ve found useful two-and-a-half days in: the government advice is to keep well ventilated and having a through breeze definitely feels less ‘locked in’. So unless they change that advice, open a couple of windows (just enough for ventilation).

    Don’t act like you normally would when ill. Get up, get showered, dressed etc. Sit in chairs, don’t lie in bed. If you feel too ill to do things like that (and you normally can do them), that’s the point when you should be consulting the medicos.

    As well as online, TV etc, physical hobbies like knitting, crotchet, drawing are very helpful.

    Stocking up. Think stuff you can throw in a slow cooker or casserole as well as pasta. If you’re having to self-isolate because you’ve got a cough and a fever, you might not feel well enough to do any complicated cooking. Don’t forget to buy paracetamol/asprin/ibuprofen or whatever your fever medication of choice is and get enough to cover having to take the full daily dose for several days.

    @nerys – it does sound like it started earlier than the arrival of the Dreaded Lurgy, but colds are still horrible. Hope you get better soon and are able to visit your parents later this year.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    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.)

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @blenkinsopthebrave, @whisht and @mudlark

    Alas, I’m already in self-isolation – I managed to develop a cough yesterday (complete with headache and a bit of a temperature). As Mudlark says, I think I may be very bored of the contents of my cupboards by next week.

    I doubt it’s the Dreaded Lurgy Itself, but as you say Whisht, one way I can help is by not going out and giving other people my germs.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    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. 😀

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    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.
    DOCTOR: Yes.
    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.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    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).

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    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.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    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.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    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’.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    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.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    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’.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    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’. 😀

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    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.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    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.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    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]

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    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.


    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.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    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. 😀

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    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.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    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.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    That Who has made it to 50 is remarkable but even I strongly doubt it will make it to a 100.

    Really? Sherlock is currently over a hundred and thirty years old and Doctor Who has a much more flexible structure than good old Sherlock. I’d expect the series to be ‘rested’ at some point, but given that we’re now looking at an twenty six year run the first time and a fifteen year run the second – I’d be astonished if it wasn’t brought back. Probably on streaming; I think the time-shifted viewing for Who is up to 40% for some episodes.

    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.

    The more I think of it, the more the Timeless Child plot was intended to solve a bunch of non-problems

    No, the Timeless Child plot was intended to tell an interesting story. Along the way, it solved a number of problems that might have been bugging Chris Chibnall; some people’s creative imagination bounces off stuff like that. He did an entire series where the Doctor met all-new enemies and ignored her past, and now he’s done a series where her past comes back to bite her.

    I’ve been saying this for the past few episodes, but how do you have a plot where the Doctor’s past is a vital part of the plot without mentioning that past?

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