Forum Replies Created
14 December 2018 at 15:41 #66641
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.13 December 2018 at 15:34 #66604
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. 🙂 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.13 December 2018 at 15:03 #66602
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. 🙂
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. 🙂
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.13 December 2018 at 13:44 #66597
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. 🙂 But he doesn’t tolerate the ‘kill the witches’ attitude. Very Doctor Who.12 December 2018 at 14:53 #66564
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. 🙂
Given that we’ve also got Sir John Curtice giving TV interviews, today is clearly political DEFCON 1.11 December 2018 at 09:40 #66483
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. 🙂
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! 😈11 December 2018 at 00:23 #66472
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.11 December 2018 at 00:13 #66467
‘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. 🙂 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…10 December 2018 at 23:31 #66464
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. 🙂 The other real life thingy is that Beowulf might have been written down about then.10 December 2018 at 20:44 #66450
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. 😀10 December 2018 at 20:20 #66448
I also said last week’s episode, “It 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.10 December 2018 at 20:07 #66446
Graham says ‘Does it have a name?’, then cut to the Doctor and she says:
“The Celestial Toymaker!” 😀
[Which is, of course, why the trailer editor thought ‘hmm, better make a cut there.’]10 December 2018 at 20:03 #66444
@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.10 December 2018 at 19:43 #6644110 December 2018 at 19:26 #66438
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.10 December 2018 at 19:14 #66437
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?10 December 2018 at 10:45 #66425
What I meant was there was no sense (for me anyway) that everyone was going to die on Earth. It was tell, not show (apart from the CGI).
Yup, I agree completely. The difference between us is that I think the fact that everyone on Earth was going to die was – backstory.
The reason we’re not getting this is because in an RTD or Moffat finale (or last episode, given that the Special is only a couple of weeks away), ‘Everyone on Earth is going to die!’ would be the main plot. Here, Earth was one planet among five, and it’s main importance in the big scheme of things was that Yaz and the Doctor were as keen to save it as Paltraki and his crew were to save the planets they’d lost.
I admit that relegating the potential destruction of the Earth to the same level as the vast number of planets that routinely get blown up in Doctor Who is … ambitious … (certainly gave me one heck of a shock) but I think that’s what Chibnall did. He wasn’t interested in terrified families on Earth, and it’s possible that the people on Earth didn’t even notice what was happening. He was interested in showing, not telling, that the Doctor has moved on from her utilitarian despair during the Time War. Her response to an obvious ‘we can just kill these two people and save seven billion’ was back to ‘there’s got to be a way to save everyone.’
The other thing that was shown was that Yaz does do a possibly racist cost-analysis. Two aliens from a unique species who represent the entire population of their planet? Sod them, if it’ll save the Earth. Given that the character arc this series has concentrated on Ryan and Graham, it might be Yaz who gets the arc next series – and we just saw the first signs of it.10 December 2018 at 00:25 #66413
Clearly the compassionate thing to do is to put him out of his misery
He’s not a dog (or even a spider). He’s a self aware being who made self-aware choices. Those choices included causing death and suffering to others – effectively depriving them of their choices. The audience has seen Tim Shaw kill a harmless (if annoying) drunk, a worried brother, a loving grandfather. While he was ‘broken’ he tried to destroy five planets, and would have continued on to kill several billion people because one person from that planet had committed the ‘unforgivable’ crime of thwarting his ambitions.
Being placed in stasis allows him to experience what he made others experience. It may be that Tim Shaw isn’t as capable of growth as Missy was, when she was shut up by herself for decades, but we don’t know that – and actions have consequences.
There’s a saying in the UK – “if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” It’s pretty appropriate to Doctor Who. 🙂10 December 2018 at 00:12 #66410
At no point did I think everyone’s gonna die
I think that’s because that wasn’t the threat. I’ve just watched the episode again – this is one seriously creepy episode, and the threat isn’t to people’s lives as such. It’s to their very selves, their souls.
Which is why it starts with the Ux doing their ‘faith’ thing, I think. Tim Shaw’s threat to them is to corrupt their religion of creation, of being a race that brings new things to the universe into a religion of destruction, of taking things from the universe.
Then Tim Shaw takes Graham, a gentleman in the sense of being a true gentle man, and nearly turns him into someone who’d kill for revenge. His threat to the Earth leads Yaz (a police officer, someone whose job is to prevent deaths) to suggest that killing two people is worth it if it saves seven billion.
For the Doctor, the threat is a reversion to ‘turning people into weapons’ and making everyone she loves into targets.
I agree it isn’t a grandstanding finale – possibly the New Year Special might be the massive explosion fest. But it is a finale to the theme of ‘the biggest monsters are inside us’. Most noticeable with Graham, who defeats his monster and Ryan, who is able to admit that he loves after suffering so much loss and abandonment.10 December 2018 at 00:00 #66408
It’s currently December. ‘Early in 2020’ could mean anything between New Years Day 2020 (i.e. a twelve month wait from the 2019 Special, which is itself only about three weeks away) and April 2020 (a sixteen month wait).
It’s pretty much the same as the gap between Series 9 and 10, in other words, or possibly shorter if they mean to start with another New Year Special.
The word that is springing into my mind is ‘budget’. The BBC’s budgeting – they want to push the series into 2020 because that will allow them to put the budget into a different accounting period.9 December 2018 at 22:00 #66404
It was made very clear in Episode 1 that Tim Shaw was a crap monster. He was crap. He had to cheat to have a chance at succeeding in his people’s leadership test.
So he lands by accident in front of two Ux who’re thinking he’s the creator and he hijacks their powers. He’s still crap. Whatever he does, whatever powers he abuses, he’s still – completely inadequate. Ryan and Graham are a lot more badass than he is.
And apparently in the doctors eyes locking someone in stasis for the rest of eternity is better than killing them.
Again, it was made clear in Episode 1 that Tim Shaw didn’t kill his ‘trophies’ – they were taken home and placed in stasis. If you don’t remember back to Episode 1, Chibnall provided the audience with a room full of people in stasis, from ship after ship. How long had they been imprisoned for. Years? Centuries? Millennia? So if Tim Shaw thinks it’s okay to keep people in stasis for a millennia or two, why shouldn’t the Doctor think that poetic justice is the best kind of justice when Graham and Ryan do the same to him?9 December 2018 at 20:29 #66400
One of the things that struck me in this episode was how much the Doctor has grown. Compare the Smith Doctor and Bishop Octavian with the Whittaker Doctor and the Ux religion. Plus her spelling out her (variable) rules about weapons. Generally, anything that can be rebuilt is fine to blow up. People, on the other hand, can’t be rebuilt – and she knows full well where vengeance leads. I don’t think she cares about killing Tim Shaw (she was perfectly okay with letting his own DNA bombs rebound against him in the first episode), but she knows what killing for vengeance will do to Graham.
Very thought provoking episode – definitely on my ‘watch again’ list9 December 2018 at 20:17 #66398
For a mid-late-series episode this would have been passable but for a finale it’s pretty damn poor.
We didn’t use to have a finale unless it was the final story of that particular Doctor – so this story was also Chris Chibnall saying that we’re not going to get the big, explosive, type of finale. In fact, I think I spotted one or two jokes about Stolen Earth/Journey’s End.
Something that wraps up this series, yes, something that says the actions taken in the first episode will have consequences that are felt in the last – but think King’s Demons rather than Caves of Androzani.9 December 2018 at 19:25 #66392
Okay, that was fun.
Funnily enough, the most appropriate clip posted this week was the one about the sound of the TARDIS being the sound of hope. Because that’s very much what tonight’s episode reminded me of.
Hope for Graham, to get past hatred and vengeance. But hope for the Doctor, as well.8 December 2018 at 14:26 #66347
Jodie Whittaker is talking about Series 12 – the quote which is flying round the Internet is: “I really can’t wait to step back in and get to work again.”
Hollywood Reporter, who took the interview, is headlining it as a confirmed return for the Whittaker Doctor.
In other news, ratings are in for the BBC America showings – the average for Series 11 shows a 20% rise from Series 10.8 December 2018 at 13:54 #66346
What makes a character major or minor isn’t screen time, it’s their centrality to the plot. I once played a maid who had a huge amount of screen time – but I was basically ‘mobile furniture’ with a couple of lines. 🙂
So I’d agree with everyone who’s said Billy Shipton was central to the plot of Blink. He’s the guy Sally Sparrow should have fallen in love with and married – but the Angels ripped them apart before their life together even got started. The way the script is written strongly hints that – the instant attraction, that she’s at his bedside when he’s dying. The point that he’s willing to do one heck of a lot of work, creating an entire career, to set up a situation where he can get the Doctor’s message to Sally. The reason it takes Sally so long to accept Larry in the role of boyfriend, rather than business partner.
Sam Garner, otoh, is a minor character. He has a minor role – to show how the monster works. It’s a nice minor role – he gets to star in one of those pre-credits mini-stories that Moffat likes – but he’s not a major character, because you could take those mini-stories out almost entirely (as Chibnall has done this series) and replace them with a few lines in the main story.
Take Sam Garner out of Angels in Manhattan, and you simply need a short exposition from Julius Grayle. Take Billy Shipton out of Blink and you immediately leave a massive hole in the plot. He’s her connection to the Doctor, and he’s her motivation to fight the Angels.7 December 2018 at 08:59 #66249
That’s why, in the opening scene, one tries to whang Sally Sparrow with a thrown rock or something.
We don’t know who threw the rock. Might have been an angel, might have been some local kid who then found themselves figuring out how to survive in 1950’s Britain. There’s no paradox about the ‘Duck’, though. Sally wrote it down in her account of what happened, she gave that account to The Doctor, the Doctor then realised he needed to go to the house when it was getting its final coat of wallpaper and persuade the decorators to let him write ‘Duck’under the section of wallpaper that’s opposite to the window. Probably telling them it was a joke.
If you have a time machine, the Bootstrap Paradox works. In fact, it’s no problem – the only problematical thing is the Doctor persuading a couple of bored decorators that it would be fun to leave a joke message under the wallpaper.
Have you read ‘All Them Zombies’ by Robert Heinlein?6 December 2018 at 14:55 #66236
@miapatrick and @kevinwho
Yeah. I think the desire of the creative team for a new direction could explain why we’ve had an entire series without any old favourites at all – but if the Doctor has made an emotional clean slate and the production team want to hide it, then that would also explain it.
Having no fear of the Daleks, for example, would be a dead giveaway, as would meeting Missy or River Song again. And that would be why the Solitract decided against the barn – not just honesty, but also a sense that the Doctor won’t feel any emotional pull. The Doctor can also, now, attend funerals again, because grieving properly for someone no longer has emotional connections to the war, to her past companions, to the grief of committing genocide.
And, of course, it explains why Whittaker’s bouncing around like an over-excited teenager on her Gap Year. Emotionally, that’s what she is. She’s kept the knowledge, but junked the emotional overlay, so when she sees something it’s as if she’s experiencing it for the first time.
Okay. Let’s see what comes up in the finale.6 December 2018 at 13:48 #66233
After ten seasons sprinkled or more with those kinds of stories, isn’t it reasonable that the creative team wants a different direction?
Okay, bonkers theory (TM) coming up:
The few hints that we have about the creative process for the Whittaker Doctor are that a) she discussed it with Chris Chibnall and b) she didn’t research by watching any of the others.
Which does suggest that this Doctor represents a different direction. She remembers her past, but she isn’t tormented by it; it no longer seems to have any emotional resonance for her and it certainly doesn’t bring up a massive angst attack.
The massive outward change of regenerating from an unbroken string of male bodies into a female body could be reflecting an inward change of regenerating her angst away. The Time War is over, s/he managed to rewrite the genocide of all those children, the Time Lords have survived. They’re still monsters – but really, that’s their problem. The Doctor’s problem is him/herself, and whether she’s a monster. And after an extensive battle with that during the Capaldi regeneration, s/he’s decided to make a change.
I think we’ve all spotted that inward change. We’re expressing it in different ways – she feels very ‘new’ is mine, but others are saying ‘lacks gravitas’, or ‘lacks inward conflict’. After ten seasons of angst upon angst, it’s quite a shock to have a Doctor who seems to have closed an emotional door on her memories. She remembers what happened, but has no emotions associated with those memories.
It’s very noticeable when she talks about her grannies (as a side-note, I wonder if ‘grannie’ means ‘surviving female ancestor with an active grandparenting role’ in Gallifreyan, and they don’t really distinguish whether the ‘grannie’ is their parent’s parent or grandparent or great-grandparent or …). As an acting note, Whittaker’s performance lacks any emotional resonance – there’s no sense that she’s remembering a person she loved.
But ’emotional resonance’ is usually a walk in the park for Jodie Whittaker, and a batty old gran who thinks your other gran is a spy isn’t exactly outside human experience. Given that creating a sense of ‘Granny Five’ should be pretty easy, why didn’t she do it?
Possibly because this regeneration has no emotional connection to her memories. She has all of them neatly stored, accessible when she needs to solve a problem. But they don’t make her feel anything any more. They’re almost time-locked – except it’s emotion-locked. A firm line has been drawn under the past, and a new start (symbolised by now being a woman) has been made.
It’s a different direction.6 December 2018 at 09:13 #66226
I think you might also like @phaseshift‘s Time and The Doctor.
My blog on timeywimeyness in the Smith Doctor’s tenure is: The Day of The Doctor – a time structure analysis. My more general one on time in the Whoniverse is Wibbley Wobbly, Timey Wimey.
The SIDRAT section of the blogs are well worth looking at if you like the kind of puzzles Doctor Who throws up.4 December 2018 at 10:05 #66153
If I’d been directing, I suspect I would have been shooting an additional scene with Grace as the Solitract’s embodiment, in case the frog didn’t work out. I think the idea of the frog is OK, but it didn’t quite work for me in practise.
In a world where Doctor Who has enough time and enough money, I’m sure they would have done that.
In a world where Sharon D. Clarke was probably only booked for some of the shoot days plus an ADR, a world where they had far more important scenes for her to shoot on those days, and a world where calling her back when they realised the CGI plus puppet wasn’t working would have involved rebuilding the ‘white’ set and getting Jodie Whittaker back as well…
… they went with the frog. Especially since everyone’s probably muttering ‘the Solitract might have never even seen a real frog, so if it looks a bit crap, that’s characterisation.’ 😀4 December 2018 at 00:28 #66141
So, another one I wanted to watch again. I wasn’t looking forward to this episode that much – all the advance notice seemed to talk about ‘Scandi-noir’, and I was thinking, ‘Oh, please, not the North Sea Depression’*.
But instead of the inheritors of Ibsen, we got the inheritors of Norwegian fairy tales. I loved it.
@arbutus – I agree that this was a very confident Doctor, a Whittaker Doctor who was clearly going ‘oh, deserted house, possible monster, scared child, I know how to do this.’ What I particularly noticed, however, was that Jodie Whittaker the actress seemed to be relaxed enough in the role to be adding subtle tells, letting her eyes go worried for a second, that sort of thing. Her confidence was the confidence of a leader who knows that part of her job is not showing how scared and worried she is. It’s interesting that she feels she can ‘unburden’ herself to Yaz – is that a gender thing? The male AG Doctors often had a jealous ‘male’ rivalry with the male companions, so is Chibnall hinting that the female AG Doctors will do the ‘female’ thing of talking about their feelings with female companions?
@rob – yes, you’re right. Four monsters. The imaginary troll in the woods, created by the father who had crawled into his grief and was behaving like a monster. The trickster in the Place Between. The Solitract, who, rather like the Time Lords, didn’t realise it was a monster. Some of the monsters in this series have learnt better; some, we discover, can’t. Just like in this story, where the one who can’t learn is killed by his own greed. The father discovers that his blind daughter has clearer sight than he does; she knows this isn’t her mother. And the Solitract discovers that if we want to have friends, we have to learn to let them go.
@KevinWho – did you notice the shout out to the Barn on Gallifrey? When the mirror house is dissolving, just before we get the white-out, there’s a moment when we see the light shining through the slats of the house – and for a couple of seconds it looks exactly like we’re going to be in the Barn.
Just for a couple of seconds, as if the Solitract had thought it might try taking the Doctor back to the barn and becoming someone in her past – and then decided against it. Nope, the Doctor’s offered to be my friend, try honesty. And frogs. Frogs are cool. 😀
Couple of things I noticed about the Graham-Ryan relationship. Ryan blurts out that Hanne’s Dad has done a runner and abandoned her because that’s exactly what his Dad did when his Mum died. And he calls Graham ‘Granddad’ because Graham has earned it. He’d rather have a real Ryan than a fake Grace; he understands how much Grace cared for her grandson. And, unlike Ryan’s Dad, Graham has now proved he doesn’t do runners. He stayed, he tried to care for a very prickly Ryan. In a sense, he’s proved better at being a Granddad than Ryan’s Dad at being a Dad.
*North Sea Depression: Theatre nickname for the playwrights Ibsen (Norway) and Strindberg (Sweden), who both think a good play is one where nothing goes right. 🙂3 December 2018 at 12:48 #66127
I just want to point out that I’m not railing against some kind of BBC amphibian agenda here. Just at seeing a quite promising Stranger Things/Solaris fusion squandering its potential in such a spectacular fashion….
See, this is what happens when people are coming at an episode from different directions. The only version of Solaris I’ve seen is the 1972 version, and I didn’t much like it. So I never connected the Solitract’s copies of dead loved ones with Solaris. Or with Stranger Things, because it’s still on my ‘must watch when I have time’ list.
What I did connect the episode with was folk tales, fairy tales and fables. To start with, there was the lonely cottage in the Norwegian woods and a blind girl. Then there’s a monster (troll?) in the Norwegian woods. Then there’s a mirror which takes us into another world, and when we get into the other world we find a goblin-like alien who’s trying to trick the travellers into parting with their most precious objects. Finally we find the father – who is trapped in a fairy tale version of his house by his ‘dead wife’, and is – just as in all stories where someone’s been kidnapped by elves or trolls – oddly un-bothered about his blind teenaged daughter back home.
Not so much Straight Outta Compton as Straight Outta Fairy Tale.
So, coming at it from that direction, I wasn’t remotely bothered when the lonely Gallifreyan fairytale Solitract decided to be an equally fairytale talking frog. It completely fit the vibe, even though there was a typically Whovian pseudo-scientific explanation for all the fairy-tale elements in the story.
(I suspect most of the short and not very old members of the audience would be considerably more familiar with fairy tales than Solaris and Stranger Things. )3 December 2018 at 12:26 #66126
Genetically engineered sheep?
Actually, I think it’s the writer having a bit of fun with the contemporary insult ‘sheeple’. 😀
Also liked the frog.
We do have to be careful to distinguish between a concept (talking frogs are a popular staple of fairy tales, and the Solitract is from a Gallifreyan fairy tale) and execution. Producing a good talking frog was the responsibility of the special effects people, not the writer or the producer.3 December 2018 at 12:18 #66125
I was a little disappointed at the lack of historical accuracy in this episode. In reality, there were as many men were persecuted for witchcraft as women,
Probably best not to start your critique of historical accuracy with a stonking great goof. We know how many people of either sex were persecuted for witchcraft, because they were mostly persecuted through courts or through officially appointed investigators – who kept records. As @miapatrick says, they were overwhelmingly women. The records in England show about 80% women, with most of the men persecuted being related to the women.
In fact, the differences in court procedures almost certainly explain the difference in the number of witches killed in England and Scotland. As @mudlark has pointed out at some length, it simply wasn’t possible for one crazed landowner to kill thirty five villagers in early Seventeenth Century England – because those villagers were entitled to a trial in the County Court for any case involving a possible death penalty. A jury trial.
Unless you think local magistrates and County Courts in the late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth century were proto-feminists who cooked the books to promote a particular agenda of persecution while simultaneously persecuting women, I’m afraid your argument simply doesn’t stand up. There have been books and documentaries where the number of witches persecuted appears to have been hugely exaggerated, but most of the books I know are from a particular period (the 1990’s) – and rather than being by contemporary feminists as a group, they were by feminist neo-pagans. They didn’t make up the ‘nine million’ figure, either – they simply quoted an Eighteenth Century pamphleteer. HE was the one who made up the figure, and the discourse he was promoting was the then-contemporary Enlightenment.
For example, the gangs of youth, roaming the countryside looking for some poor person to dunk
You seem to be confusing the early Seventeenth Century reign of James VI and I (which is when the episode is set – James turning up in person is a bit of a clue) with the later English Civil War. The English Civil War was during the reign of his idiot son, Charles I. It was the breakdown of order during the Civil War that made such activities possible, because ‘swimming’ witches was illegal in England. It did happen, but if a magistrate or constable found out in time, they could and did stop it in favour of a proper trial.
Or were you using hyperbole?2 December 2018 at 21:11 #66108
Trigger warning: Frogs play a starring role in the final part of Terry Pratchett’s Bromeliad trilogy.30 November 2018 at 13:21 #66061
But what frustrates me most about this era is not that it’s bad — it’s not, there’s stuff to love in just about every episode — but just that it’s boring and underachieving.
But I don’t see it as boring, and I don’t see it as underachieving. Not liking a Doctor is not necessarily a reflection on how well they inhabit the role as they see it – it can just mean that the role as they see it is not how you see it. The disconnect is too great and you end up saying ‘for me, they’re not The Doctor’.
But that’s a me thing. It’s my reaction to them, not a reflection on whether or not they lack conviction in their performance. It’s the difference between saying ‘oh, okay, I didn’t like that interpretation of Hamlet because it didn’t emphasise Hamlet’s intellectual nature,’ and saying ‘I don’t like that Hamlet because the actor didn’t understand the role.’
[In fact, the actor had understood the role perfectly, he just thought that his Hamlet was going to be someone who’d stayed at college because he wanted to stay away from the new marriage, and whose education was the problem – because Hamlet wasn’t smart enough to see his way through the opposing viewpoints he’d been taught to a conclusion. Hence the indecisiveness.]
I did not like Peter Capaldi’s Doctor because (in his first two series) he was grumpy, unlikeable, and incredibly irritated by people. And every single one of these traits can be found in previous Doctors. There was nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with his performance – I just didn’t like that interpretation of the Doctor. It missed out what, for me, is a very important component of the Doctor – which is, even at his most irritating and alien, s/he’s likeable. S/he has charm (as Eccleston said). I accepted the Hurt War Doctor within a scene or two, because he’d picked up on that attribute of ‘charm’ and was busily charming everyone’s pants off.
But as soon as an actor goes for early Hartnell unlikeable, they go into ‘not the Doctor’ territory, as far as I’m concerned. Even though – as you can see from early Hartnell, C. Baker and Capaldi, likeability is not an essential component as far as The Doctor’s concerned. 🙂
Anyway, the reason I’m going on about this is that – at the moment – you really sound like me versus the Capaldi Doctor. I don’t know if you’re quite sitting in front of the telly with your arms folded while muttering ‘Entertain me, you bastard!’ or whether the thought of an episode consisting entirely of the Whittaker Doctor on her own would make you break out in hives the way Heaven Sent did me – but that ‘this is dull’ is awfully familiar.
It wasn’t ‘dull’. I just felt miserable watching it, because I didn’t like the lead character – especially after Moffat killed off the viewpoint character who I did like. Everyone else thought Heaven Sent was brilliant; if you suggested watching a repeat of it versus root canal treatment I’d have to give the root canal some serious consideration. In fact, I think I might go for the root canal.
Yeah, Whos moving forward. It’s evolving. It’s a thematic arc, not a philosophical or plot arc. It plays with social questions, questions about where we’ve come from, what we’ve done and where we might be going. The monsters we need to fight are internal, not external – that could be really interesting if it’s played with in the finale. What internal monsters are hiding in the TARDIS team? In the Doctor herself?
Or Chibnall might be planning something else. I think two companions might have been better than three – but then Moffat had three for an awful lot of the Smith Doctor’s run. (Incidentally, I’m fairly certain the clunky coda at the end of Rosa is because Marjorie Blackman came up with a script which fitted the old 42 minutes time, and they needed something to fit it to the new 50 minute time. If you notice, the script is credited to both Blackman and Chibnall. I think he wrote that coda. )29 November 2018 at 14:38 #66034
I sense the ‘lack of fun’ feeling from quite a few people – but I think a fair amount of it is just that inevitable sadness that comes when you have to move on from something you really enjoyed to something new.
I’m lucky, because I was into the new Doctor and new style by about episode 3 and was really into it when I realised I could write a blog on it. It may be that Chibnall’s style (thematic, asking social questions rather than philosophical) suits blogs rather than episode by episode discussion. It also helps that I like social questions and themes as much as I like philosophical paradoxes. 🙂
Or it may just be that I’ve been waiting for a woman Doctor for years, so I’m inevitably more tolerant of those ‘oops, that bit didn’t work’ moments that will happen when a new producer, new writers and new leading woman strike out into uncharted waters. I’m not surprised Chibbers went back to 1963 in some ways – it must almost feel like that.
But I know that if you still feel that you want the previous Doctor back, then everything even vaguely clunky is going to be as irritating as heck. And the fact that this series isn’t as polished and pacey as the Moffat years is true. But, Chibbers isn’t Moffat. He’s RTD. And RTD’s first series was so clunky you could have recorded the clunks for some kind of beat track.
I think blenkinsopthebrave is right, though. If we’re finding the individual episodes aren’t generating the same level of conversation, we need to do our own striking out into our own semi-charted waters. More blogs, possibly. Or more games. Music competitions? Which song best fits the episode?
Re: trolls. On T’other place I tend to affect a rather bored tone. Mainly because that’s my main feeling about trolls. They’re boring. Destructive rather than creative – the sort of people who’d smash up a bus stop because they can’t think of anything to do.
But, in this particular area of the internet, they can only smash up our site if we choose to let them. It’s not Willa vs. Becca, where Becca is the one with all the power. On the whole, I think ignoring them is often a mistake – but it’s a judgement call. Are they the spider you can ignore, or the venomous ant you need to squash?
@jimthefish – No hard feelings – I get that you might have thought I was after a particular group when pedant was being more general. In fact, I wasn’t referring to any particular people – just a particular type of poster.29 November 2018 at 12:02 #6603028 November 2018 at 15:38 #66000
You hire writers on the strength of the story they’re pitching and the commitment they bring to that idea rather than filling quotas.
Sounds great. Would be wonderful. Doesn’t work in practice.
Mainly because we tend to pick ‘people like us’, and then rationalise that they pitched the stronger story/played the best/were the best candidate. Meantime, the people who aren’t like us are struggling to gain as much experience as the ‘people like us’ – so while their talent is the same, their experience isn’t.
This came up recently in my area because a person at a higher management level, to his eternal credit, realised that while he was utterly committed to ‘best person for the job, regardless of colour, gender preference, school, etc’ – he was somehow managing to appoint white public schoolboys. So he got someone to look into it. It’s called ‘unconscious bias.’
One method of combating it is to specifically say ‘I will cast a woman as the Doctor, I will accept the best pitch by an Asian writer and the best pitch by a Black writer and I will ensure that I hire at least two women directors.’
Oh, and – @pedant gets to refer to “pustulant sore on the arsehole of the universe”, “Shitstain” and ‘wailing fanboys’ without comment and I get my wrist slapped for ‘Shouty Little Boys’? What IS that?28 November 2018 at 13:37 #65997
Yup, ‘we’re more than our clothes’ might be the message. I’m firmly in the ‘there’s a reason for not changing the costumes’ camp – I just don’t know what the reason is.
But then, isn’t that what we’re all here for? The only problem with ‘hologram costumes which didn’t work on King James (VI and I)’ is that it’s a bit too tame for our strapline. 😀28 November 2018 at 13:30 #65996
The psychic paper works on me too. When I look at it, I see the words “Plot Device” printed in bold lettering. I find it a bit clunky.
That’s because it IS a plot device. It’s just as much a plot device as the Star Trek transporter, which was created to save the writers having to take the Away Team down to each new planet by shuttle. Like the Star Trek transporter, it’s a plot device to speed up the action, so we don’t have to waste time on the mechanics. If we still had four episodes per story, we could spend time on the mechanics of the Doctor getting people to trust him – but we don’t.
In story, we can presume that the Doctor’s found it somewhere and realised how useful it was, or alternatively invented it because he was sick to death of arriving on a spaceship or a planet and being threatened with instant execution.28 November 2018 at 13:20 #65993
Good point. I think the answer is that he may have made it an issue with the line about Team TARDIS meaning to turn up at the coronation of Elizabeth I. Because the line really wasn’t necessary, and points up that the team should be in period costume.
I suppose it could be an accidental leftover from the original script, put in to explain why Team TARDIS is fetchingly attired in a selection of Tudor bonnets and ruffs. But that still implies a deliberate decision to instead keep Team TARDIS in modern costume, and it does beg the question of why they didn’t ADR the line to make it, say, Elizabeth II’s coronation. Given the speed of TV production an unchanged line could be one of those slight goofs that slip through somehow, but it does feel like – at some point – there was a conscious decision to NOT go period.
Re: gurning. Yup, that was me. I did say it was okay – the Smith Doctor could have powered entire substations with his windmilling arms and the Tennant Doctor wasn’t exactly Doctor Stoneface, either. It’s more a note: it seems to be part of her characterisation and she seems to be using it in an almost childlike way. This seems to be a very young Doctor, in contrast to Smith’s ‘old man in a young body’.27 November 2018 at 22:50 #65973
I just found it hard to accept that her extremely irregular actions would have escaped official notice for so long, even in darkest Lancashire.
Except that they hadn’t, because the King himself had turned up. 🙂
I do get what you’re saying, because I’ve had times when a lack of accuracy has ruined a book or programme for me – but in this case, I think we were given enough signals that this wasn’t meant to be one of the historically accurate episodes. For me, the absurd death rate was one of those signals – thirty five dead in one village on the say-so of a local landowner who wasn’t even a magistrate? No way.
At the very least one of the villagers would have fled to relatives or friends, possibly making a complaint to the magistrate in that area. Even witches were entitled to a trial, after all.27 November 2018 at 13:04 #6595927 November 2018 at 12:14 #65958
The alt-right and the alt-left are two cheeks of the same arse (or ARSE) when it comes to playing the ‘Twitter pile-on’ game. And misogyny can be found in both of them.
In fact, there are some writers who work in the wider Whoniverse who are a) Whovians b) right of centre and c) even voted Brexit. 😀 Which is how it should be – writing Who can be political, but it shouldn’t be party political. The writers should be kicking shit out of my assumptions, and @jimthefish‘s assumptions and all our assumptions (though probably not in the same episode). The best way to do that is to make sure you’re deliberately commissioning writers you don’t agree with politically – otherwise unconscious bias kicks in and you start selecting ‘people like me’.
I get the impression that Chibnall has been doing that – Kerblam! was certainly a more comfortable episode for the right-of-centre than the left-of-centre. Getting people talking about stuff like that is good. Is it ‘The System’, or was the young, entitled, highly educated Definitely Not Momentum Honest Charlie the real problem? Or, as Miapatrick said elsewhere (I won’t at her, as I don’t know if she reads the BBC Spoilers) – did offering people loads of low skilled wage-slave level jobs in fact delay the discovery that not needing to work can be an escape?
But, as @pedant says, YouTube and Twitter both push the combative style rather than the sitting down and having a discussion about politics style. Which means that Twitter has morphed from a lovely, funny, sociable place for people to chat – into a cesspool.
And what we’ve got at the moment with the fandom is all the little white boys who never grew up complaining that their show is no longer about them. Never mind the ‘unconscious bias’ thing, this lot are flat-out biased, and they’re not interested in being told how wrong they are. It’s not the main fandom; you can see on Twitter how many people love the Whittaker Doctor, enjoy the shows and are really having a great time. But they’re being shouted out by the Shouty Little Boys
The new scarf is terrific and really suits both costume and actor – apparently it’s a Paul Smith design, ‘Rainbow Edged Scarf’ and could technically have turned up in a charity shop if anyone wanted to give away a £64 Paul Smith scarf. For some reason it’s out of stock at the moment. I can’t think why.:)
But my first thought on seeing it is that it’s both a deliberate callback to the Tom Baker Doctor, and a statement that ‘We’ve moved on since then’. So, @thane16, it’s almost a ‘You want a war? You won’t win – because we’re Doctor Who, and we’re not backing down.’27 November 2018 at 10:51 #65956
The Doctor could apparently easily keep them in contact by jazzing up their phones, but for some reason has chosen not to.
That’s because mobile phones are a plot killer. From the days of Star Trek onwards, when practically the first thing every writer would do was have Kirk’s communicator damaged or stolen. Killer of Plots – you don’t want Yaz, for example, to whip out her mobile at a tense moment and ask the Doctor to come rescue her or can everyone come over to the forest when you need them to be discovering the axe. 🙂
In-story, I’d suggest that the Doctor’s experience with lending Elvis a mobile and discovering that he’d lent it to Frank Sinatra has rather put her off letting the things outside the TARDIS. We already know this Doctor is a bit more cautious about interfering with the past than she’s been for many a century.
I was annoyed at the psychic paper, which continues to seem just an easy out for the writers,
That is exactly what it is, because AG Who has only one or two episodes. In BG Who you could afford to spend an episode with the Doctor slowly establishing his authority – in AG Who you can’t, and the Psychic Paper handles the situation with aplomb.
It’s also a versatile plot-device, because it’s well established that it doesn’t always work. It overloads when the Doctor tries a ‘lie too big’, some people can spot that it’s a fake, and now it seems that some people can partially see through it. That is, King James of the double numbers knew something was wrong with a woman being Witchfinder General, but couldn’t quite see through the psychic lie. So he translated it into Witchfinder’s Assistant.
I don’t have any historical knowledge to know how he might have realistically behaved
I doubt he was as camp as Alan Cumming, because very few people can be as entertainingly camp as Alan Cumming in full flow. But there are certainly records showing that it was completely obvious to everyone that he was homosexual (we’d probably say bisexual today). Given that Alan Cumming has to establish this in less than fifty minutes of screen time, translating it into modern ‘camp’ was a pretty good acting decision.
I think I’ve said upscreen why the Lady of the Manor might have taken an axe to the tree herself – it was ‘sacred’ and no-one else would dare. It was also her act of defiance against the grandmother who’d brought her up (there are faint hints of that resentment). Plotwise – she has to, because it’s the Inciting Incident. If somebody else had chopped the tree down, someone else would have got infected (and Becca wouldn’t) and the entire plot would have been seen flying off into the distance as it blew apart.
I agree that the ending was rushed. Look, if we want new writers to come into Doctor Who, people with new stories to tell, we have to allow for them to make errors of timing or set up on their first scripts. I understand that Russell T. Davies had to do massive script edits on almost every episode of AG Series 1 – because at that point, all his writers were effectively new writers. Steven Moffat had a much easier job, because by then he had a core of writers who’d written RTD episodes.
But Chibnall has (bravely) decided he’s going to expand the pool, bring new voices in, try new things. We are going to get things like ‘Drat! I’ve spent 42 minutes setting up the alien menace and now only have 8 minutes for the Doctor to find out who they are and send them back under Pendle Hill!’
We can live with that. It’s happened in a number of other episodes, in both the RTD and Moffat eras.
This episode seems to be a ‘Marmite’ episode. Online, there seems to be a clear division between people who really enjoyed it and people who thought it was awful.27 November 2018 at 10:13 #65955
I would class it as ‘people wanting something to moan about,’ and I suspect that in some cases, it definitely is. One poster on T’Other Place was, for example, insisting that it was an example of ‘lazy writing’ even when I’d pointed out that the decision to NOT dress Team TARDIS in period costume had to get past the Director, the Costume Designer, the Producers – and probably every member of the crew.
But I think it was also that this episode is the first one where the decision to keep Team TARDIS in modern clothes throughout has really been noticeable. Previous TARDIS crews (and Doctors) have dressed for the period if they know in advance they’re going to Georgian London, or Victorian England – and this lot knew they were off to see Elizabeth I’s coronation. It’s not like the Tennant Doctor trying to look alien so he’d flush out the Zygons. And I don’t think it would have broken the budget to order four more costumes from Angels.
Given that most actors love dressing up and getting paid for it, I don’t think the actors would have objected that much. You’d need to pick a costume for the Doctor that could survive a dip in that semi-frozen pond (those poor actors! Apparently it was snowing!), but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
They never have yet changed out of modern dress. So far, we haven’t had an explanation. Is that because Chibnall wants us to speculate, or has a line been cut?26 November 2018 at 23:52 #65940
Mist Over Pendle is a brilliant novel.
I understand there have been quite a few local jokes over the episode. My favourite is the comment by Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership that there are NO mud aliens beneath the hill – followed by a number of replies along the lines of ‘Well, you would say that, wouldn’t you?’
My second favourite was the laconic ‘Well, that explains Burnley.’ 🙂
Yes, some things can blow suspension of belief out of the water. But I argued in a couple of posts at T’other place that the writer signposted the fictional nature of the story. Graham clearly says that he’s been on the Pendle Witches Tour, and that a village where thirty five people were murdered out of hand would have been mentioned. Then he adds that he’s never heard the name. He’s practically waving a big flag, especially if you know how famous the Pendle Witch Trials were with ‘only’ ten convictions.
There’s something going on with the clothes. I think it’s been most noticeable in this one because Rosa was close enough to our time that Team TARDIS’s clothes might have passed. In Demons of the Punjab, Team TARDIS might have been seen as ‘weird Britishers’. But when you plonk them down in Jacobean England and they still haven’t changed their clothes, then it starts to feel like some kind of explanation has either been cut or is turning up later. They have never changed their clothes to fit in. Chibnall’s doing it on purpose.
Becca explaining the significance of the ducking stool pretty well explained the odd aspect of the ‘witch trial by ordeal’. She’s not testing for witches, she’s shutting people up. That’s why she wants them drowned.
As for James VI and I – I’ve mentioned above why I think the decision was to make him the comic relief. Personally, I mentally junked any real pretension to historical accuracy when James VI and I, Secret Witchfinder first appeared. I’m not sure he even visited Lancashire. 😀
P.S A few people have noted that James spotted the weird clothes. It was established in Time of the Doctor that some people can ‘see through’ holograms, or that they can be wrongly set so that only some people see them. I wonder if, since Team TARDIS were heading for the coronation of Elizabeth I, they’d set the holograms for the wrong monarch?
Alternatively, it could be something along the lines of the Shakespeare Code, where Shakespeare can’t be fooled by the Psychic Paper. James wouldn’t have been at that level of genius, but he certainly translates ‘Witchfinder General’ into ‘Witchfinder General’s Assistant’.26 November 2018 at 18:36 #65935
Okay, I’ve now watched this again. Broadly, this series has had six episodes out of eight that I actively wanted to watch again – the two that I didn’t were The Ghost Monument and Anarchids in the UK.
This was one of the ‘ooh, I want to rewatch now‘ episodes. It fits nicely into the developing ‘the most dangerous monster is ourselves’ theme. Becca manages to kill thirty six people, all because she was self-centred enough to chop down a ‘sacred’ tree that was ruining her view. I think a few people online have enquired why the Lady of the Manor would take an axe to the tree herself – possibly the implication the director or the writer wanted was that no one else would have had the sheer bloody minded hubris to chop the thing down.
And, also, it would have ruined the entire plot if she’d had her minions do it. 🙂
But having got herself infected by alien goop, she then naturally translates this into the world view she understands – Satan’s influence. The problem with both Becca and King James (VI and I) is that they correctly identify something evil, then proceed to externalise it. All will be well as long as they get rid of those nasty witches, those minions of Satan. The evil is not in them, oh no. It’s outside them and in the outsiders.
It’s a bit like the Mitchell and Webb sketch: ‘Are we the baddies?’ Only instead of wearing skulls on their hats, Becca and James are torturing people, drowning them and hanging them. Yup, they’re the baddies. Becca has a moment of self-realisation before death – she is the real witch. But James survives to learn from this.
The reason King James (whether VI or I) is played more sympathetically is probably that – as the script points out – it would have been pretty darn difficult for him not to have been as paranoid as all heck. He really did grow up effectively orphaned, surrounded by the most vicious court intrigue, bedevilled (as he must have seen it) by plotting, murderous courtiers.
But I reckon there’s another reason for casting Alan Cumming and then the director letting him chew so much scenery it’s a wonder there’s any interior scenery left at all. I really don’t get the internet hate this episode is getting (or rather, I suspect I do) because this is a good, solid, old fashioned scary Who script. And if they hadn’t let Alan Cumming play James as so camp he could have provided tents for both the Scottish AND English armies, this episode would have been as dark and scary as Hell itself.
And we’re wanting Who to scare kids behind the sofa and give them nightmares, not traumatise them for life. There’s always that fine line that Doctor Who has to tread – scary, but not traumatising. Scary enough that an eight year old should be watching with their parents/carers, but not so scary that those caregivers can’t comfort the child.
But it’s a scary theme. Evil is externalised, good people are accused because their accusers don’t want to be next, ‘justice’ is a catch-22 situation whereby the innocent are drowned and the surviving ‘guilty’ hanged. Being good is no defence, ‘stand up to the bully’ is useless, because we’re in a world where the bully has the power to kill you.
And the Doctor, who kids rely on to protect them through the story, is being downgraded, denigrated and ultimately nearly murdered herself. Not because she’s The Doctor, which is the normal reason for her getting into trouble. But because she’s a woman trying to take charge. Not only is she not allowed to do that, the conditions of the time allow people to ‘put her in her place’ (James VI and I), ‘shut her up’ (Becca spells out what the ducking stool is for), and finally threaten not just her life, but the lives of her friends (accusations of witchcraft).
Is this sounding familiar at all? Anyone like to check out the Internet hate for the Whittaker Doctor – especially for this episode? Ooh, the evil social justice warriors, suggesting that a woman can possibly play the Doctor. Wouldn’t it have been better if Bradley Walsh had got the role?
Sorry, almost-entirely-guys. In case you didn’t notice, the hat’s been passed to the woman.
Thankfully, in the middle of these scary and serious themes, we have comedy King James, busily providing the light relief as he tries to simultaneously play secret witch hunter, hit on Ryan and protect his subjects, even as he fails to notice the big silver skull on his – well, probably on his pricker. 🙂
Jodie Whittaker seems to have decided that the Whittaker Doctor is a gurner. Which is fine, truthfully, because Matt Smith seems to have decided very early on that the Smith Doctor couldn’t talk without waving his arms around wildly and by the end of his run they were making jokes about it. She also seems to have gone for a very ‘young’ feel – appropriate for a Doctor who’s at the beginning of a new cycle. If we see the Capaldi Doctor as the last of the male Doctors, then the Whittaker Doctor is a new beginning – and that probably accounts for the almost childlike way that the Whittaker Doctor expresses every emotion in her facial expression. It can be disconcerting – we’ve got used over the After Gap period to Doctors who are suffering from PTSD. This new, female body seems to be – really new. As if the angst of the Capaldi Doctor’s ‘Am I a Good Man’ was the final outpouring and working through of the guilt from the Time War, and the ‘now I can start again’ was symbolised by the new start of a female body.
And a new style. S/He’s tried being a hero. He’s tried being a warrior. He’s questioned whether he’s a ‘good man’. Be a Doctor?
Perhaps. But as we see in this episode, even a Doctor can’t always defeat evil by themselves. Sometimes standing up to the bully by ourselves just makes things worse. We need to wait (Yaz), to accept that we’re going to have to play to someone else’s prejudices (Graham), to just listen sympathetically (Ryan) and to let other people help us (the Doctor).
Team TARDIS. A very flat structure, says Graham. They each have their own skills. Which we really see here, with all of them not just assisting – I don’t think the Doctor could have succeeded without Team TARDIS, and their willingness to each pull their weight.
Of all the people the Doctor has learnt to be, ‘team-mate’ is probably the most difficult. S/He’s always been the Captain of the TARDIS. The Leader. The Time Lord, galloping in on his white horse. And now she’s a woman, and she’s going to go into places where people simply won’t accept that she can be any of those things.
Which means, instead of always insisting that HE is the one who protects HIS companions, SHE may find that it’s HER companions who need to protect HER.
A very thought provoking episode. It’s not just tentacles rising up from the mud. 🙂