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    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Anyway, I need a new Blu-ray player, the version up on You Tube has been taken down for copyright violations, and this story is not available on BBC iPlayer. Cursed, I tell you!

    Having finally located a copy that can be streamed, it’s not a bad little episode. There’s a certain amount of running very slowly down corridors, running very slowly up corridors and walking down corridors in a stately way because John Arnott is a bit old for much running. But despite the deus ex machina of ‘The Chancellor has a personal force field in his symbol of office? Since when?’ the previously set up ‘search for the Great Key’ has a nice denouement. Though with what we now know about Rassilon, it seems a bit weird that he set things up to prevent a Presidential dictatorship. Possibly it was meant to prevent anyone but him setting up a dictatorship.

    The plot is very standard BG Who: somebody gets invaded, the Doctor has to defeat the Invaders. The difference this time is that it’s Gallifrey being invaded – and for once, the Doctor got outplayed. The Sontarans concentrated his attention on the Vardans; the Doctor never considered whether there was anyone behind the Vardan screen. However, this appears to have exhausted the Sontarian subtlety quota for the next several generations – or possibly they’d picked up a couple of human books on strategy when they were failing to invade Earth and were trying some of the tricks.

    Both the main women characters get important stuff to do. Leela shows off her knife-throwing skills, later copied by a dying Outsider. Rodan shows she would have been a great companion. Not only does she have the engineering and technical skills to rebuild and reprogram a piece of obsolete equipment and make it bypass the force-field control unit, but she also appears to have taken Advanced Snark at the Academy. Romana seems to have had a considerable amount of Rodan in her DNA. Possibly they’re cousins?

    John Arnott is an entirely believable Chancellor – nothing, nothing at all, is going to make him lose his cool. Being horribly murdered by invading aliens might prove somewhat inconvenient, but one must display dignity in all circumstances.

    The remaining Outsiders and Andred have very little to do except follow the Doctor and Leela around – signposted in a couple of comic shots where they all look around in order. Fortunately, (well, not for the characters) the Sontarians winnow the chorus line down a bit.

    And Milton Johns is displaying his ability to perform characters who are a) oily, b) creeps and c) will betray absolutely anybody or anything for a gumdrop. I always look forward to a story with Milton in it – he’s so much fun. πŸ™‚

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @janetteb and @craig

    I think The Invasion of Time has some weird ‘Don’t watch this story’ curse upon it. The latest is that I need a new Blu Ray Player. πŸ™

    Do you think we’ll get to the end of this story before the new series starts?

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @janetteb @blenkinsopthebrave

    Aren’t Sea Devils relatives of the Silurians? Could we be seeing a Silurian style makeover with them?

    I believe that the production team have a habit of placing ‘jokes’ into the IMDB cast list, so it certainly isn’t to be relied upon, but it would be great if a writer has come up with something new. Besides, the original costume was No. 1 in the list of ‘Doctor Who Costumes Most Likely To Kill The Actor Inside.’ πŸ™‚

    Mary Shelley sounds fantastic, and is entirely in keeping with Real Life. Her explanation of Frankenstein is as follows:

    When I placed my head on my pillow I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie. I saw – with shut eyes, but acute mental vision – I saw the pale student of the unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine show signs of life and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion …

    This can easily be stretched into ‘yeah, it was my adventure with The Doctor and a Cyberman, but I can’t talk about it. Just my imagination, folks, nothing to see here, read the book…’ πŸ˜€

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @janetteb Yes, this episode has a strong air of ‘quick, find some more filler!’

    Andred seems to be suffering from a certain reluctance to kill his Head of State. Not to mention suffering from an episode where he’s largely acting as an excuse to explain the plot or have the plot explained to him. I’d imagine the long process of teaching him to trust the Doctor happened in the cut away to the Vardans.

    Personally, I would have thought it easier to read a robot like K9 than a living brain, but let’s presume that K9’s programming is firewalled. πŸ™‚

    Interesting that the people in the Citadel (in this era) appear convinced that the Outsiders don’t exist and that being exiled is a death sentence. Rodan talked about rumours, though. Again, in this episode the Outsiders get a perfectly good sub-plot, but that perfectly good sub-plot ends up being entirely useless and just acts as scene-filler. Perhaps if the writers had more time to write the script, they’d have found a way of tying up the ‘rescue the Doctor’ sub-plot so that the Doctor genuinely needed rescuing.

    I agree that Andred gets to parade in a sexy shirt, but the point is, I think, that he’s taken off as much of his uniform as is decent. He’s in rebellion; he’s no longer a Citadel Guard and doesn’t feel comfortable still wearing that uniform.

    Yes. You’re right JanetteB. I wouldn’t have believed it possible to be a less convincing Who villain than shimmering bacofoil, but the materialised Vardans manage it. It doesn’t help that the three voice actors’ stock army uniforms make them look distinctly tubby when shot from the side, that the Vardan on stage left looks about fourteen years old and their commander in the middle is a bit on the short side. Tough soldiers invading an enemy planet they aren’t.

    Meanwhile, the Outsiders struggle endlessly across a giant sandpit. Eventually they get inside the Citadel, where they prove to be dangerous. Pity the script writers couldn’t think of something better for them to do.

    Yes, Baker is playing it too confident, but this is Episode 4. The audience knows the problem won’t be solved in Episode 4 of a 6 part story, so his over-confidence is a signal that something’s going to go badly wrong. Probably at the cliff-hanger.

    Castellan Kelner is still turning his over-large cloak according to the winds of the moment. Any bets on how long before he pledges loyalty to his new Sontaran overlords?

    Five seconds? Ten?

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @JannetteB – yes, I agree that this story, hurriedly written as it was, plays to the leading actors strengths. It takes advantage of Baker’s unpredictability, and Louise Jameson has a good, strong role to play as Leela – who, as you say, shows off how she’s grown while she was with the Doctor.

    Rodan does indeed have an inner strength. She has her moment of complete meltdown as she realises she’s stuck in a howling wilderness and will starve to death if these people don’t help her – and then recovers from it and later takes an intelligent part in the ‘what do we do now’ discussion. Though, Presta’s immediate ‘there, there’ reaction suggests Rodan isn’t the first exiled Time Lord to have a meltdown when realisation hits. πŸ™‚

    The retcon that all candidate Time Lords are sent to the Academy (or a prep school for the Academy) at age eight goes some way to explaining why we don’t see the children, but there was a New Adventures theory that Time Lords didn’t have children. They were all genetically engineered in Gene Looms, with Susan being the first child born for millennia.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    This is a much better paced, more ‘fun’ episode than last week. Probably because they now have a lot of plot to get through – get Leela and Rodan outside, bring Borusa in on the plot, develop a resistance movement through Andred.
    And room for some terrible puns. ‘A matter of time,’ indeed.

    The weakness of the Time Lords; they’re utilitarian rationalists. Reason (greatest good of greatest number) suggests that they should submit to their new Bacofoil overlords, so Rodan acts as spokeswoman for that point of view. They’re not big on subtext; no imagination. It’s noticeable that the leaders of the revolutionaries are Andred, retconned years later as a failed Time Lord and Leela; a warrior of the Sevvateem, trained to act instinctively. The other ‘unreliable element’ is the Surgeon General, Gomer, – a doctor. Little bit of a joke, there. πŸ™‚

    And yet Leela is reasoning based on her experience – the Doctor, her experience tells her, is up to something. So if he wants her outside, outside she has to go. Only to discover that Rodan has never in her life left the Citadel – a real city girl – and hasn’t a clue how to survive out there.

    Again, interestingly, the Doctor’s later backstory develops the idea that he didn’t grow up in the Citadel. Whether the Barn was part of a Time Lord prep school or an orphanage, both he and the Master seem to have grown up amongst the ‘outsiders’ in a quite literal sense. The Master/Missy as a privileged child of a great landowner, the Doctor as … not. They didn’t grow up among the rebels. But neither of them come from the closed world of the Citadel.

    The set designer seems to have gone bonkers on the clockwork motif for the shielded office – and we have an ‘explain the plot’ session. The Vardans are (like the Time Lords) semi-telepathic. They can read minds – which explains why the Doctor’s mind has been imitating a grasshopper. He was probably working on the theory that his mind would be just too irritating to read.

    I’m now wondering why they decided to give Louise Jameson that giant cloak – was the weather too bad for her to be filming in her normal skimpy leather? All the ‘outside’ actors seem to have been given rather warm costumes – given that they had to do the location filming after the studio work, instead of before, and it was heading into November, they may have simply been dressing everyone for the weather. Gallifrey itself got to be a sand quarry rather than a chalk pit – later retconned as ‘the Drylands’.

    We will now establish that one never hires Milton Johns unless his character is going to stab another character in the back. Possibly several characters. Nobody does it better. πŸ˜€

    Leela and Rodan meet the people who live outside – fairly comfortably, though at a much lower tech level. At the moment they seem to be in the hunter-gatherer phase of civilisation (Leela would fit right in), but the outsiders we see during the Moffat era appear to be farmers. The difference may be ‘rebel hunters’ vs ‘not rebel farmers’ Either way, Rodan has just stepped into a part of Gallifrey where she has no useful skills whatsoever.

    Whatever the Doctor’s plot is, it seems to involve getting the Vardans to fully materialise and sending most of the rebels outside the Citadel. There’s a slight plot hole in that we don’t know how the Doctor knows the Outsiders will help; again, that’s something Moffat’s retconning will later make clear. In the meantime, Rodan (now dressed in even warmer clothing) helpfully points out that the Outsider Time Lord rebels have been ‘whispered about’, so maybe we should just guess that the Doctor had heard the whispers.

    Yup, as @craig says, K9 is doing … something. Padding, perhaps, or maybe filler. It involves data, somehow, and probably connects with the point carefully made by Borusa earlier – everything the Doctor knows is now part of the Matrix. Meanwhile, we establish that Andred is a rebel, even though he might seem to be on the side of the Castellan. He’s going to assassinate the traitorous Doctor! I’m pretty sure Tom Baker ends the episode by saying ‘oh, bugger’. πŸ™‚

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    I didn’t mean to be so detailed I stopped anyone saying anything!

    Yes, the Time Lords have terrible taste in hats – though I did rather like the more ‘working class’ headgear used in The Day of The Doctor. The purple, embroidered taqiyahs managed to be both practical and recognisably ‘Gallifreyan’.

    The guards are completely useless, yet Andred is – in this episode at least – a competent officer suffering a boss playing office politics. It could well be that the Citadel guards are ceremonial and therefore they dump all the duffers there. Andred’s been transferred to the Commander role because they need at least one person who knows what they’re doing. πŸ™‚

    I often think men don’t deliberately overlook women, they just don’t realise that there is another gender.

    I did a very interesting course on Unconscious Bias last year – it was compulsory for everyone – and the current research is that we tend to pick ‘people like us’. So, yeah, a lot of it’s unconscious. Male producer, director etc picks male actors for the Time Lords – until someone makes a conscious decision to include a woman and reference sexism. As the joke goes, if ‘Lord’ is gender inclusive, how many women do you think of when asked to name ten Lords?

    But I was certainly aware of ‘you can’t do that, you’re a girl’. It wasn’t all unconscious bias – some of it was legal discrimination. Older teachers who were unmarried, because they’d started teaching in an era when married women couldn’t teach (or hold most jobs, for that matter). If they’d married, they’d have had to leave teaching – and it was all perfectly legal. Certain areas I couldn’t go into. The future PM saying she didn’t think there’d be a woman PM in her lifetime. πŸ™‚

    So I also forgive this story a lot. Rodan was important – a small crack in ‘you can’t do that, you’re a girl.’ I could be a Time Lord. And if girls could be a Time Lord, what else could we do? πŸ˜€

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Inside this episode is a perfectly good plot, screaming to get out.

    Unfortunately, that perfectly good plot would only take up about twelve minutes of screen time. Given that the two writers – Anthony Read and Graham Williams – were struggling with both the after effects of a production strike and having to write a replacement script in no-time-at-all, it’s not surprising that they went for the old Who standby of padding-by-corridor. Lots of corridors. When they’d finally run out of corridors, they used the old ‘banter in the TARDIS’ standby.

    @craig summarised the good plot rather neatly, so instead, I’m going to work my way through the episode.

    First rule of padding – have everyone argue with everyone else. We can waste loads of time if people argue about everything. Hence Borusa starts up an argument with Gold Usher, Leela AND the Surgeon General. Quite some going. The Surgeon General, by the way, manages some impressive diagnosis by merely waving his hand vaguely in the direction of Tom Baker – but I remain convinced that Gallifreyan medicine mostly consists of ‘take two painkillers and call me if you haven’t regenerated by the morning’.

    A continuation of a theme from Deadly Assassin – Time Lords are a bunch of racist gits, which the Doctor makes use of to get Leela out of the Citadel. Why he needs her outside is as yet unclear. Naturally, since the Doctor hasn’t bothered explaining his plans to Leela, she escapes. Yay, padding!

    In case any of the audience suspects the Doctor has gone genuinely mad, there’s another argument – this time between Borusa and the Doctor. Borusa isn’t having a good day. Neither is Andred, who’s having to cope with a Castellan (Milton Johns at his slimiest) who takes all the credit and leaves him to do all the work.

    “Even the Sonic Screwdriver won’t get me out of this one” – that was a total aside to the audience, a real ‘breaking the fourth wall’ moment with a momentary flick of the eyes straight to the camera.

    Corridors. Plus more Time Lord infighting. The Castellan wants to be Chancellor, I think. And the Citadel Guards are genuinely thick – later retconned by explaining that qualifications for the army included failing your Time Lord exams. Presumably, the ordinary guards have also failed their officer’s entry exams, their NCO exams … 😈 Poor Andred is beginning to look like he’s got this week’s ‘only sane man’ role.

    We will now have a short break for padding as Leela tries desperately to get into the TARDIS, the guards approach very, very slowly, K9 hangs his head in a meaningful manner, and the Castellan looks at a video screen and does absolutely nothing. Oh, yeah, and we forgot the keys.

    Did I mention that the first rule of padding was to have everyone argue with everyone else? The Doctor and K9 will now have a row to stretch out the scene explaining the Doctor’s cunning plan. πŸ™‚

    Rodan. The entire reason we’re having this rewatch. She is, unbelievably, the first female Gallifreyan seen for thirteen years since Carole Ann Ford bowed out as Susan, and for nine years after the Doctor was specifically identified as being from a race called ‘Time Lords’. It’s probably difficult to understand the impact seeing this perfectly ordinary young Time Lady had on me back in 1978. I was too young to remember Susan. I didn’t really remember either Troughton or Hartnell. Time Lords were men. They were always shown as men, and that reflected the way things were in real life. The people in power were, basically, men. Male doctors, male Doctors. Male Prime Ministers, male Time Lords. My brother could have an ambition to be an RAF pilot. I … couldn’t. Legally couldn’t.

    That ‘men only’ era was starting to break apart, and again, that was reflected in Doctor Who’s increasingly assertive female assistants, showing a level of competence that hadn’t been seen since Verity Lambert. But they were the assistants.

    And then, suddenly, Leela turns a corner, and there was Rodan, complaining that she’d passed the Seventh Grade and had been shoved into a post as a glorified traffic warden. I remember it as mind-blowing, that realisation that Time Lords don’t have to be men. πŸ˜€

    The introduction of Rodan is deliberately ambiguous – Leela’s ‘The Doctor’s always saying’ could be referring to Rodan telling her she’s going to hurt herself with that knife, or it could be a joke that ‘but he said they were all men’.

    And back to the plot (and the padding). Nice bit of juxtaposition with the transduction barrier, followed by extensive jellybabying. We can spend a bit of time sorting through the keys, as well. How about some Time Lord infighting? Milton Johns is so good at being conniving. πŸ™‚

    Actual plot in the last four minutes. An alien fleet is heading to Gallifrey, the transduction barrier needs raising to max (pity K9 is blowing it up).

    And Gallifrey is being invaded – by a collection of Bacofoil special effects. I bet the Castellan, for one, will welcome his new Bacofoil overlords.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Yippee! Will watch this tomorrow – which is kind of appropriate, given the Sunday slot for the Whittaker Doctor.

    Glad you’re back, even if you did have to take a year-long detour to get here. πŸ™‚

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @thane16 and @pedant

    Wot pedant says. πŸ™‚

    Diabetes Type 1 is complicated in that it appears to be a combination of both genetics and environment, and the honest answer is that we don’t currently know why people get Type 1. Genetic risk factors can be identified: they don’t mean you’re going to get Type 1.

    Similarly with Type 2. But again, genetic risk factors don’t mean you’re going to get diabetes Type 2. According to the risk factors, I should almost certainly have diabetes Type 2 by now – every member of my immediate family has it. Both parents, sibling, the lot.

    And yet, I currently don’t. Why? Is it because I moved down to London in my twenties and wasn’t exposed to the same environment as the rest of my family? Is it weight? What?

    Which is why more research is needed, and why I’m firmly of the opinion that a study that sends about a third of its volunteers into remission should be both followed up and expanded. We know the long term effects of Diabetes 2 and they’re often very bad indeed. Can the side effects of eight weeks on what is effectively a crash diet really make things worse? Given that we already have many, many longitudinal studies on various types of weight loss? Shouldn’t people at least be given the opportunity to volunteer?

    But I agree with pedant that this needs to be studied. If it ‘jumps starts’ the pancreas in some people, that suggests a line of research that we just didn’t have before. And a lot is going to depend on how long the remission lasts – if it turns out that it’s life-long for some patients who’ve provably had Type 2, that means we’ve gone from ‘no cure’ to ‘cure’.

    Science is fun. πŸ˜€

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @craig @blenkinsopthebrave @mudlark @devilishrobby @miapatrick

    Apparently, Elizabeth thinks we’re a dating site. Are we a dating site? I didn’t know we were a dating site.

    I’ve been doing this all wrong….


    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    So: we in the UK are possibly days away from a Prime Minister nobody’s ever heard of. David Lidington.

    Nobody’s noticed any hypnotic drum beats on their phones, have they?

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Okay, I’ve been thinking about our BG episode recap discussions.

    Generally, we’ve run them as follows: @craig sets up a thread for each episode in the story, we discuss them. But that puts a lot of work on Craig, who has to set up a new thread weekly. That became apparent during The Invasion of Time discussion, when it just wasn’t possible for him to publish a thread beyond Episode 1.

    So: one possible solution would to use the blog facility for BG story discussions, with posters with blog privileges agreeing to host each story. Either we could have a blog per episode, or one blog per story – if the latter, I’m thinking that the host could add the new episode to the blog each week. Either way, the discussion would take place in the blog comments.

    Do we want to restart BG watches? Do we want to keep on with the ‘Women Time Lords’ theme, or say that didn’t work and try something else? If Women Time Lords, do we want to restart with Invasion of Time or say ‘we all hated it, let’s move on to Romana I’?


    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Funnily enough, I think they mentioned something about a) and b) when I did my BSc. 😈

    b) would explain the differences between NHS Scotland and NHS England – the Glasgow study was done with Scottish NHS GPs and nurses, so they’re confident that they can go forward into a wider roll-out. Presumably, gathering longitudinal data as they go. NHS England still needs to trial delivering it – and while they’ve now got several years data from the original patients, they need to figure out whether this is, as it seems, a long term remission or something that will last a few years only. Scotland seems to have decided the possibility that this treatment gives long term remission is worth the effort, given the ‘one third in remission after two years’ results so far.

    And then they’ve both got to figure out which treatment is cheaper in the long run. The medical treatment is well known and can generally be delivered by GPs. Are the associated costs of a new treatment offset by the savings from not having to deliver the old treatments, and are the people in remission requiring less hospital treatment? When people come out of remission, do they still require less hospital treatment than the control group? Etcetera.

    I’m still excited. πŸ˜‰ Diabetes 2 has always been thought of as inevitably progressive – if that isn’t the case … fun times. Science is at its best when we find that what we thought we knew wasn’t the case. πŸ˜€

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    That’s the one. The impression I got is that it’s the big topic at this year’s conferences for diabetes professionals, because the Newcastle-Glasgow follow up showed the results could be replicated in general practice. Plus, the whatever-scan-it-is seems to have confirmed the hypothesis of the pilot study – so it’s all terribly exciting.

    Fascinating to me because, at the moment, I’m the only person in my immediate family who does NOT have Type 2 diabetes. For obvious reasons, I’d like to keep not having it. πŸ™‚

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Talking matters diabetic, have you seen the latest results of the DIRECT study? Apparently the preliminary results are so exciting (about a third of patients go into remission) that NHS England is going ahead with a pilot study and NHS Scotland is already rolling out programmes.

    In matters pancake, I’m currently trying to make almond pancakes work. The ones I did on Pancake Tuesday were … edible. Too much egg, I think. πŸ™‚

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    It would be interesting if the doctor could leave the earth and go to other places and times in the universe

    The Ghost Monument
    The Tsuranga Conundrum
    The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos

    That’s over a third of the series on other planets and I’m not even counting the historicals.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @miapatrick and @peladon1972

    Doctor Who is a mix between sci-fi and fantasy. Where, exactly, each story places on the Mohs Scale of Science Fiction hardness depends entirely on the writer, and has done from the beginning. Generally speaking, we’re talking really, really soft as the story becomes SF-in-name-only. We want a horror story about a hand that possesses people and turns into Something Evil? Fine, just make the Something Evil an alien… 😈

    Deadly Assassin uses SF tropes; virtual reality was around since the 1930’s and the Matrix itself was definitely a hard SF concept. But the fact that one story is hard-SF based doesn’t say a thing about any other Doctor Who story.

    By the way, critiquing Chibnall while making an elementary continuity error yourself is not necessarily a good look.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Yes, loss after death was a good arc for this series – because, in the subtext, we had the loss of just about everything except the format and the technical staff. Producers, leading actors, writing team – all gone.

    I’m going to check the settings on the blog in case there’s anything I can do – it might be a time-out or a connection drop, though.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Just flagging that I have a new blog up – which is really my take on the Series 11 arc. Other series arcs may be available. πŸ™‚

    More seriously, since it’s now time enough for Series 11 to have sunk in, so to speak, I wondered if we could use the comment sections of the blog to talk about Series 11 as-a-whole, rather than as individual episodes?

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    They’re short for Before Gap and After Gap. The Gap is the over-long period when Who wasn’t being produced. After Gap starts with the episode Rose.

    Other sites refer to Classic Who and New Who, but we felt that identifying an era by whether it was before or after the Gap was more value-neutral.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @blenkinsopthebrave, @janetteb and @winston

    The one slight problem is that we’ve already watched and discussed it, about four years back. I think it was one of the first Hartnells we watched. And we can’t really do the Dalek Master Plan because it’s mostly lost. There’s nothing to stop a second rewatch – the conversations are already set up.

    I’ve been spending my day off binge-watching the Whittaker Doctor’s first series, which has been fun. I think we really were looking in the wrong direction for the arc – watch the episodes close together and it becomes clear that the arc is both the new Doctor’s character development and Graham and Ryan’s developing relationship and recovery from the loss of Grace.

    Anyway, Hartnell. Rewatch The Time Meddler, or pick another Hartnell?

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Try some maths.

    Eleven episodes of 42 minutes plus one of 60 minutes: 524 minutes to be written, shot, edited and SX put in.

    Nine episodes of 50 minutes plus one of 60 minutes: 510 minutes. People are wailing and gnashing their teeth over a loss of fourteen whole minutes of Doctor Who. Why, that’s nearly half one of the older episodes. πŸ˜€

    If you want twelve episodes again, write to the BBC and ask them to give Doctor Who more budget. Then step back while they laugh – they don’t have more budget to give.

    The only way I can see for the BBC to be able to increase the budget would be to split each series over two financial periods, which is where the ‘two mini series of six episodes’ comes from. As it is, the studied avoidance of episodes in 2019 (unless they decide to go with a Christmas Special again) is another signal that the problem isn’t Chibbers – it’s the BBC and the massive budget cuts they’re facing.

    [Oh, he might well be screaming about the workload – as far as I can tell, each producer in the new era has spent their first year going ‘AAARRRGH! Ohsh*tohsh*tohsh*tohsh*t, arrgh, arrgh, ohsh*tohsh*t, arrrgghhh … phew.’
    ‘You mean I have to do this again‘? ]


    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    It doesn’t matter how much work it is,

    Let me guess: you don’t work in TV either.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Any reference for this, or are you just quoting a ‘my best friend’s mate who is third assistant focus puller at BBC Cardiff and once went within shouting distance of the Doctor Who set said’ article?

    I take it you don’t work in TV? Just guessing, because you don’t seem to have a clue how much work an effects heavy SF programme is.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    A bit late to the party, but there it is. I did manage to watch most of Resolution on New Years Day, but squeezing out any time this week to watch the bits I missed has been a bit tricky. πŸ™‚

    Like @scaryb, I do like the move to New Years Day, even if it was difficult to find the time to watch. Firstly, I agree that the various producers have now mined every single possible ‘Christmas’ angle (or angel), with the possible exception of having a Cyberman made out of tinsel. The New Years Day theme felt much less forced, and provided a plausible excuse for Aaron to suddenly turn up. He’s made a New Years Resolution to reconnect with Ryan. Yup, that’s gonna go well … πŸ™‚

    So Ryan’s Dad is bad at the entire life skills thing. And Ryan is dyspraxic. Okay, that does make sense -and we also now see why Ryan in Episode 1 was studying to be a mechanic, which is probably one of the least suitable professions for someone with dyspraxia. His estranged Dad is an engineer on oil rigs. Nan was a nurse, Dad was an engineer and Ryan – works in a warehouse. Ouch. No wonder he threw the bike into a tree.

    This episode was clearly the ‘finale’ – the bookending of things like the Doctor and Dalek Lynn both welding alien tech out of scrap, Ryan’s Nan getting killed versus Ryan managing to save his Dad, the newly regenerated Doctor struggling to defeat Tim Shaw The Inadequate, where the more established Doctor can confidently tackle Daleks. Well, one Dalek.

    One Dalek is definitely scarier than an entire army of the things, especially when it’s channelling Robert Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters. Having a Dalek mostly out of its shell worked even better than having an Ice Warrior out of its armour.

    The ‘UNIT cancelled by Brexit’ joke, followed by ‘We’re on our own!’ made me laugh out loud. I did note, however, that UNIT is ‘suspended’ and ‘under review’, NOT definitely disbanded. πŸ™‚ Like The Doctor, I’m sure UNIT will return – just possibly not under Chibnall.

    I thought ‘so I’m told’ is a possible reference to the Doctor not having a Dad of their own. Possibly their Dad regenerated into their Mum? Or maybe the Doctor is a half-orphan? Like the barn in Listen, that line was definitely a reference to something in the Doctor’s backstory.

    The other thing that made me wonder was the way Aaron was used, as in the first episode, to mirror the Doctor. Made mistakes, by the time he realised they were mistakes, it was too late and the damage was done. Then he ran away because he was too ashamed to step up and admit he’d got it wrong. Now, who else do we know who famously ran away from home?

    The mirroring in the first episode – I wonder if the Doctor would’ve walked away from Grace’s funeral as normal if Aaron had turned up? Whether she stayed because she understood that Ryan needed all his friends, since his Dad had let him down? – Then we see her in other, later funerals because she now understands the damage she’s doing to people by just walking away and not giving them the support they need.

    Another signal that we are going to have a Yaz arc next series – she again does a ‘greater good’ thing when Aaron gets taken prisoner. That’s a tendency that could so easily go so horribly wrong – though I did like the way the Doctor effectively had Yaz use her Mad Police Skillz (yes, with a zed) to get the two bystanders (they thought) out of the danger zone.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Happy New Year, everyone. πŸ˜€

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Hi everyone!

    Interesting comment from my brother on Christmas Day. He pointed out that Christmas Day audiences (for everything) have been dropping for years – all those new box sets to watch and new games to play.

    He thinks the BBC didn’t move Doctor Who because it was a demotion, but because they wanted some heavyweight audience-pulling programmes for New Years Day.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    At the moment I’m thinking we’ve been targeted by a neo-fascist group, or grouplet, or individual. Could be a Russkibot, but claiming to be from one of the ethnic groups they hate, then making the nastiest comments imaginable is a classic neo-fascist online tactic. It’s supposed to make you think [insert ethnic or religious group here] are really horrible people. πŸ™ Just putting this out there in case people haven’t seen that before.

    But a popular TV programme which has a multi-racial cast, is doing stories this series that branch out into Civil Rights and Partition, has a family audience and has recently very publicly switched its leading actor role to female – that might attract them. In which case, I wonder how many other Doctor Who twitter accounts are sock-puppets, and how many other DW sites have had ‘visitors’?

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    I didn’t find much joy in Peter Capaldi’s tenure, myself – but that was because I didn’t much like his interpretation of the Doctor. However, I did and do like Peter Capaldi the actor, and I would never say that he hadn’t thoroughly researched his role, or that the performance he selected wasn’t based on characteristics that you can find in a) previous Doctors or b) the scripts he had.

    That I, in my opinion, didn’t like the way he played the Doctor doesn’t mean he had zero respect for the ‘fan base’. He just went in a direction I didn’t like. He didn’t feel the same as other Doctors. I never really saw him as ‘The Doctor’ – I saw him as someone trying to be ‘The Doctor’.

    So if you’re saying that the stories don’t ‘feel the same’, then yes, fine – you don’t have to like them. Being a fan doesn’t mean you have to like every single Doctor or every single Producer. It’s a pain when you lose that joy, that sense of ‘Oh, no! I’m not going to be back in time for Doctor Who!’ – and it gets replaced by ‘Well, I’ll watch it when I have a moment’ But what you have to look at is – are other people enjoying what you dislike? The answer for me was – yup. Other people on this site adored Capaldi’s performance. They see him as one of the great Doctors.

    And, with this series, the viewing figures are up, people are really loving the Whittaker Doctor, and we can point at certain things and say ‘Ah ha! Clearly Chibnall has been paying attention to stories like The Aztecs.’ I think this first Whittaker/Chibnall series was a bit wobbly at the beginning, was hitting its stride by the end, and was generally something I enjoyed. I quite like looking for emotional and moral arcs, so that particular new direction is fine with me.

    And other people don’t like the new direction. So it goes. There’ll be another producer along in a few years, and there’s fifty odd years of previous programmes to watch if we really can’t stand the new style.

    The reason you got picked up on the (hopefully rhetorical) ‘have they even watched the old series?’ was that it’s pretty obvious they have – at least, if you have a look at the programme threads, I think you’ll find us discussing that.

    It’s also obvious that Chibnall is deliberately trying to create a ‘new generation’ of Who writers, rather than re-booking the ‘old guard’. And when you bring in a new generation of writers, the brutal fact of British television is that those writers are extremely unlikely to have had any previous experience in marrying a straight historical drama of Partition with aliens. Or adding a sci-fi element to the life story of Rosa Parks. They have indeed watched the show (and Star Trek, and Quantum Leap) – but the Doctor Who script in their heads is always tons better than the Doctor Who script on the page, because they’ve never before had to worry about translating the script in their head into actual, within schedule, within available special effects, within budget television.

    It’s noticeable that the straight sci-fi and historical fantasy stories were the more confidently plotted. However, they weren’t (IMO) as good – Chibnall was right to bring in new writers, and right to include nearly pure historicals.

    My ‘halfway through’ blog discussed the reasons behind the crap monsters – and I called it ‘Out of the Comfort Zone’ for a reason. I think that, at that point, a fair few members were feeling that same lack of joy you were. We’d lost the RTD/Moffat ‘big’ style, and we hadn’t quite worked out the new style. We really were out of our comfort zone.

    But I think what most people who post on here have done is to try and look for the new direction, and to rediscover that joy. πŸ™‚

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    To expand on @pedant‘s comment: Our little friend lives under a bridge and has an allergy to Billy Goats: what they’ve said on this site is inconsistent and error-ridden – I’m not saying how, because they’re also pretty good at Internet research. Best to leave them to continue in their errors, as a warning flag.

    They are a persona, a sock puppet. Their purpose is to annoy us, derail our conversations, possibly make things so unpleasant that people stop posting here. It may be that they think destroying things is fun – rather like a bored teenager who decides to tear apart a tree in a park. Whatever.

    It’s okay to respond up to a point. But when a particular poster turns up on every currently active thread with increasingly silly posts, they’re trying to both derail threads and to get a response. They want the attention of this site to be on them.

    At which point, you just have to say: this.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    My Mum is Welsh, and has now retired back there. Just saying.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    It will affect me loads, and you loads. Untangling ourselves from the EU is proving a nightmare after a mere forty odd years; how do you think untangling Scotland and rUK is going to be after three hundred?

    The idea that anything would result in a life time of Tory government is unrealistic, frankly, because the UK pattern (in ALL the UK countries) is that political parties who think they ‘own’ a particular segment of the country find themselves the proud owners of a vote collapse as soon as there’s a viable alternative. In Scotland the viable alternative was the SNP, and to some extent the Conservatives.

    The problem at the moment is that the most popular choice for UK Prime Minister appears to be Ms or Mr ‘None of The Above’. πŸ˜€

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    No, there aren’t that many occasions when 5.3 million people are going to provide the tipping point that swings 66 million people. His argument is a bit like saying Wales doesn’t control UK-wide elections – which is why Devolution happened in both countries.

    The most populous country in the UK (England) currently tends to be slightly more Conservative than the less populous countries – 37% rather than 27% in Scotland and Wales. This represents a change that’s been developing since about the 1970’s – before that, there was much more convergence (and you’d have found more than one Scottish Tory MP). The gap, I think, is currently much less than it was at its peak – whether voting patterns will converge again, or whether Scotland will continue developing a Nationalist/Unionist pattern remains to be seen. πŸ™‚

    There’s an open source article here that looks at Holyrood and General elections over the last twenty years. The argument is that 2015 represents the first time Scotland voted almost exactly the same way in a General Election as they did in the Holyrood Elections.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    I’d guess that the Series 12 Announcement on the BBC Doctor Who Official site has been vetted and approved by the BBC – it specifically says ‘early 2020’ in the very first paragraph.

    This might translate as ‘New Year Special’ then the main series a bit later, but it definitely says ‘series 12 is on its way and will be returning to BBC One in early 2020.’ That doesn’t sound like it’s going to be September for the main series.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Several of the non military companions have killed during the show Ian, Leela, Romana and Ace

    Except Ian had survived World War II and done National Service (i.e. he was ex-military), Leela was famously a ‘warrior of the SevvaTeem’, and Ace arrived with a fondness for blowing things up. I agree we have no idea whether Romana had any military training – as she was a Time Lord, she’d probably avoided the army. But Romana isn’t much like Graham.

    The problem with the Doctor threatening to kick Graham off the TARDIS is that the new series cast was announced almost immediately after the credits have rolled. It’s not that much of a cliffhanger if you know everyone’s back next year. Better to have the problems resolved by the end of the episode.

    Regarding the three companions I just think three has never worked since Hartnell.

    If it worked during the Hartnell period, it can work again. πŸ™‚ More seriously, there’s a very good production reason for making three companions work – it means the actor playing the Doctor doesn’t have a production schedule that puts them in hospital after three series (or seasons).

    I’m not even talking metaphorically. David Tennant had to have a major operation on his back, Matt Smith was on crutches with his knee (and needed an explanation for his walking stick in his final story), Peter Capaldi was also having serious knee problems even though they’d tried hard to reduce the amount of ‘running acting’ he did.

    I think this episode was Chris Chibnall’s example for the next series’ writers. Two of the three are off on an exciting subplot (in this case, rescuing crewmembers) with something dramatic to talk about (Graham and revenge). The other companion takes the ‘But Doctor…’ role. If it works, we the audience gets an exciting Doctor Who story without it being a ‘Doctor Lite’ episode. The actor playing the Doctor isn’t in as many scenes, so can manage the extras (publicity interviews, appearances, etc) without working twenty hour days.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    I’m hoping that Ryan and Graham got the arc this series and Yaz gets the arc next series. On the whole, I think the three companions worked well this week, as it allowed the subplot to progress with Graham and Ryan while Yaz played ‘main companion’ and gave the Doctor someone to explain things to. πŸ™‚

    I’d say that the Doctor’s main problem was the effect it would’ve had on Graham. She’s now been a soldier herself, after running away from it all her life – she knows what it did to her. She can make a pretty fair guess how it’d eat away at someone like Graham, too.

    Also, a fair number of her earlier companions were either military or ex-military. And don’t kid yourself that early Who didn’t include PTSD, even if it wasn’t called that then. We’ve had characters with shell shock, and UNIT’s Captain Yates had to tootle off and join a Buddhist Meditation Centre. That inevitably turned out to be Buddhist Meditation with Added Aliens, but everything’s better with giant spiders. πŸ™‚

    2020 – budget. Almost certainly the BBC’s budget – we’re in December, so 2020 is only 54 weeks away. Nudging it into the accounts for the next financial year broadcasts means the BBC is going to find it a lot easier to balance the books for all their 2019 broadcasts.

    Weirdly, many people online seem to be going 2020 – 2018 = TWO YEARS UNTIL THE NEXT DOCTOR WHO!!!! OMG! But the BBC has said ‘early 2020,’ so it’s not two years at all.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    To me the whole season seemed to be about trying to conform The Doctor to this world view of making sure no one’s feelings get hurt, this generation of people wearing their heart on their sleeve. Where every child should get a trophy

    If it had been that sort of season, Ryan would have ended it by riding a bike. Grace would have somehow returned from the dead. The Doctor would have found a way to save Prem. Tim Shaw would have said ‘sorry’. And the Doctor would’ve told Andinio to ‘look her up’.

    But instead we got no trophies. Ryan still can’t ride a bike, Grace is dead, Prem died saving his wife, Tim Shaw seemingly can’t learn better. And the Doctor is ‘nobody’.

    Neil Gaiman paraphrased G.K. Chesterton’s long comment about fairy-tales into “they tell us dragons can be beaten.” Well, what we got this year wasn’t ‘all will win prizes,’ it was the exact opposite. Sometimes we can’t beat the dragon. Sometimes, the most we can do is stop it, lock it away or send it away, hope it never escapes to hurt more people.

    Sometimes we can’t beat our disabilities by ‘trying harder’. Doesn’t mean we can’t travel the universe, just that we have to be aware that we might have problems climbing ladders along the way. [I really hope Ryan never has to manage a rope ladder – that’s my version of ‘riding a bike’]

    And tolerance was shown as nuanced. Ryan has no real problem with James VI and I hitting on him – he just doesn’t fancy him. πŸ™‚ But he doesn’t tolerate the ‘kill the witches’ attitude. Very Doctor Who.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Reports are coming in that there are an unheard-of twenty-seven gazebos on College Green, where the press hang out during political crises. They haven’t quite reached the stage of having fist fights over the available electrical outlets, but it’s only a matter of time. If a mobile burger van turns up, the poor driver is going to be stripped to the bone a la the Simm Master. πŸ™‚

    Given that we’ve also got Sir John Curtice giving TV interviews, today is clearly political DEFCON 1.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Most of the Doctors could talk the hind leg off a donkey, but one thing I suddenly realised last night was that they talked about how wonderful they were. It was, in fact, called out a couple of times, with jokes that they really needed a companion to make admiring noises.

    The Whittaker Doctor, on the other hand, talks through everything, including her problem-solving. One of the things I liked about Battle of R.Av V. was that we saw the Doctor audibly decide to just take things one step at a time, solve each problem as she came up to it and not worry that the whole problem is too big. It’s really hard to teach kids that – now they’ve got a hero admitting that’s how they do it. πŸ™‚

    But yes, I think it might be a deliberate decision. The men talked about how wonderful they are, the woman talks about her worries and her problems. Shut up, woman! 😈

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    There are moments when I think the Nation Estate really does have a contract that says the pepperpots have to be in every series. 😈

    Dunno, though. Even if the Daleks are making an appearance, and even if they do have time travel, where have they been buried since the 9th Century? Leftovers from the Pandorica and Stonehenge?

    Zarbi would be fun.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    ‘Eye for an eye’ is exactly right – but in the original sense, where the meaning was that you took no more than an eye for an eye. [As far as I know, there’s no evidence it was ever applied in practice or meant to be taken literally; it was stating a principle that any punishment or vengeance should not be harsher than the crime it was supposed to be punishing.]

    But I think if we take the punishment of Tim Shaw as an isolated case, we’re losing the theme of the series – which is that it is possible for people to learn to be morally better. Admittedly Tim Shaw so far seems to be as thick as two short planks when it comes to learning from his mistakes (3,407 years later and he’s still after revenge). That fits in with the rather boring villain of Rosa, who didn’t learn from his incarceration in Stormcage, but Kerblam! was more optimistic, as was Ghost Monument.

    From the point of view of the condemned, what is there to choose between death and a potential eternity of solitary confinement?

    Stasis is described in the first episode as a ‘half-life’. Asleep? Or half asleep? Or dreaming? But assuming it is fully aware solitary, that would depend on what the condemned thought would happen next, really. πŸ™‚ No, seriously. We started this episode with two characters expounding their religion and we know the Stenza have a weird thing about keeping their trophies (and entire planets!) in stasis. So it does seem possible that ‘stasis’ has a particular meaning for the Stenza, and that it’s applied to ‘the weak’. Their prey, if you like.

    From Graham and Ryan’s point of view, they couldn’t kill Tim, as he was no longer a threat. However, he’d just proved that they couldn’t let him go, either. The coincidences of the universe (aka the Production Team) had landed him on a planet with two people who could save his life and teach him a more, ah, creative view of things. Instead he decided to pervert their religion and take revenge on a set of planets who’d dared defend themselves.

    And there’s this set of handy stasis chambers available, and that’s exactly what he did to an awful lot of people…

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @nerys and @mudlark

    I’d be perfectly happy if it wasn’t the Daleks – I was surprised on Sunday how much I enjoyed having a finale which didn’t include either the homicidal pepperpots or the delete merchants. It’s a bit like your husband, I think, Nerys – I’m reaching the point of ‘oh, not another episode where the Doctor is fighting ten billion Cybermen’.

    Not that there haven’t been good stories with both of them, but as you say, mudlark, if you feel you have to include them every single series, you eventually end up running out of possible stories.

    9th Century – wonder if they’re going to include Ivar the Boneless? There’s a nickname that just shouts out for alien involvement. πŸ™‚ The other real life thingy is that Beowulf might have been written down about then.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    I think you could see the arc as Graham and Ryan’s grief over Grace’s death, in which case It Takes You Away would have been a good finale episode.

    But I don’t think it quite is: as I say, my thoughts haven’t exactly coalesced yet, though I strongly suspect another blog is a’comin’. I think the arc is about ‘grace’ and the loss of ‘grace’, which is represented by Grace the person having been Ryan and Graham’s quite literal salvation.

    And then they lose her. And they need to find that grace again, to be ‘the better man’ she taught them both to be, even as they accept that Grace herself is dead.

    The reason I tentatively think it’s about a bit more than a simple ‘overcoming grief’ arc is that it’s also the Doctor’s arc, in a quiet understated way – symbolised by her attending funerals, acknowledging the dead and in this episode even managing a small, rather secular prayer. πŸ˜€

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    I also said last week’s episode, β€œIt Takes You Away”, could have been made into a better season finale,

    I understand what you mean, but I don’t think so. My thoughts haven’t quite coalesced yet – though I will say that this episode and The Woman Who Fell To Earth are the only episodes this series I’ve watched three times.

    I think the arc (and there is an arc) is about Grace. And about grace. It’s about the monsters inside us, and it’s about the sheer banality of evil – and yet how infectious that inadequate, destructive, force can be. It Takes You Away would have been the wrong finale, because it was about accepting that Grace the person was dead, whereas tonight was about the living grace that came from everything Grace did and was.

    And how that grace was not just in Grace, but in Rosa, and Prem, and everyone whose life and death touched others.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Graham says ‘Does it have a name?’, then cut to the Doctor and she says:

    ::cue drumroll::

    “The Celestial Toymaker!” πŸ˜€

    [Which is, of course, why the trailer editor thought ‘hmm, better make a cut there.’]

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @kevinwho and @jimthefish

    I think a lot of the ‘rumours’ have a very strong subtext of ‘we don’t like Chibnall’s style, we don’t like the Whittaker Doctor, and we want them gone as fast as possible.’

    Hell Bent was broadcast 5th December 2015, Husbands of River Song was Christmas 2015, Doctor Mysterio (which was well liked, @thane16, I think you misunderstood and Jim was talking about the time gap, not the story) Christmas 2016 and then The Pilot was April 2017.

    So if we had exactly the same pattern we’ll have Resolution on New Years Day 2019, another Special on either Christmas 2019 (they’ve currently said ‘full series 2020’, I think) or New Years Day 2020, then Series 12 April 2020.

    If they choose to start in January 2020 instead, the gap will be about thirteen months. That’s three months longer than the ten month gap that was usual even in the ball-breaking schedule of the RTD period.

    The gaps have seemed shorter than they were because an April to June/July series with a Christmas Special means that people aren’t as aware of a ten month gap as they are when the series is finishing in December, the Special is in three weeks, and it’s twelve months until even the next Special.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @blenkinsopthebrave and @craig

    Shouldn’t this discussion be in BBC Approved Spoilers?

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    I think the Thirteen was too sunny at the end given that five planets’ populations were destroyed as an indirect result of her sparing Tim Shaw’s life

    I think that’s one area where the script did need a bit of editing. When you rewatch, you can see that the planets are in fact in things that look like the big stasis chambers the supporting artists are in. Tim Shaw specifically says that his people put trophies in stasis, but that what they really, really wanted was the ability to put entire civilisations in stasis. Then he announces that he’s succeeded.

    The Doctor thinks that taking a planet out of its orbit would destroy it (and the mini-stasis chambers are cracking), but the script doesn’t make it clear that she thinks the planets can still be rescued if they’re returned to their orbits.

    At least, if they can’t, why was Paltraki so insistent that there was a reason he should just have taken off, and the crewmember willing to die to let him do that? Neither of them would have that reaction if we were talking about a crispy fried planet inside the chamber. Their actions do make perfect sense, though, if they’re trying to retrieve and return an entire planetary population.

    Why would the Doctor bother returning the planets to their orbit if everyone was dead? They wouldn’t have needed to put Delph through the agony of returning the planets to their proper location – unless there was a chance they could still save both planet and people.

    So I think that stopping the stasis on Earth was meant to show the effect was entirely reversible (and possibly no one on Earth even noticed what had happened), and then the returned planets were released from stasis. The one second CGI showed an intact looking planet with clouds and a few lights that might be cities – so I think we were meant to think that the planets were all rescued.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    I don’t think it was trying to be that sort of finale. At least, given the jokes in there about previous overblown finales, I’d say the script was deliberately trying not to be that sort of finale.

    If Chibnall had left the Earth out, then we wouldn’t have got that moment of realising that the Earth isn’t really the centre of the Whoniverse. That’s been a little thread running through this series as well – quite a few variations of ‘We’re from Earth.’ ‘Stupid name. Where’s that?’ In this case, the Earth was one of a number of planets that had annoyed Tim Shaw, and by the sound of it, he saved it till last not because it was important, but because he wanted the Doctor to see it destroyed.

    The Earth is important because it’s important to us and the Doctor. The Doctor sees herself as the Earth’s Protector – but does that make the Earth safe, or does it make it more of a target?

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