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    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    but there are lots of valid criticisms you can make of Chibs.

    There are indeed, and I’ve actually made some of them. His pacing! But I’ve never been bothered as much as you’ve been by his tendency to have characters who experience ‘lightbulb’ moments and then do a 180 degree turn. We’ve argued about this before, I think, and you tend to think that it’s the writer’s fault whereas I think if the writer’s given the actor a reason to do the turn, not showing it properly is the actor’s fault.

    With regard to DrSilurian Mengele, (Malohkeh?), he’s saying nice stuff such as ‘this won’t hurt you’ and ‘it’s okay to show concern’ from about three lines in. Doctor Mengele from our point of view (definitely Amy’s!), perfectly nice scientist experimenting on apes from his – and the ‘turn’ comes when he realises that the Doctor isn’t human and the humans are people like him. Still, I suppose it’s difficult to play all that lot when you’re covered in Silurian make-up.

    Chibnall does like his ‘lightbulb moments,’ and I can see that if you don’t you’re going to find him a really annoying writer.

    Chibs doesn’t seem to [understand dramatic structure inside out]

    However, the counter-argument to that is that the two writers who you specifically namecheck as understanding dramatic structure both commissioned Chris Chibnall to write episodes of Doctor Who. RTD, I think, got him the Torchwood gig as showrunner, and specifically namechecks him (with Moffat and Matthew Graham) as one of the writers he doesn’t need to rewrite.

    Either they think he does understand dramatic structure, or their understanding of good drama is a bit more fluid than ‘does great structure’. I’d also argue that I did a fairly big blog on Moffat’s Day of the Doctor which was partly in response to various fan arguments that it had bad structure. As the meme goes, the Day of the Doctor was simply ‘not the structure you were looking for.’

    With regard to The Timeless Children I’d have to do a rewatch with a notebook to do a proper structure dissection. My off-the-cuff analysis would be that the reveal needed a fairly substantial (for Doctor Who) infodump, of the sort that would normally be delivered in a speech by the Doctor but here had to be delivered by the Master. Chibbers is not at his best with infodumps (Rosa, anyone?), but he did his best to break this one up.

    (See, I can criticise him. His infodumps can be flippin’ awful.)

    I found that the Ryan and Graham character arc didn’t work for me because again Chibs didn’t put enough work into it.

    I’m not sure which episodes you mean because I struggle with acronyms – the letters switch around. But I went over and checked the episode titles that Chibnall either wrote or co-wrote in his first series, then I tried to recall (without checking a transcript) what character progression there was for Ryan and Graham in each episode. And I did remember the character progression in each episode.

    So I’d have to disagree, because while you’re saying ‘not enough work’, I’m saying ‘but I can remember how that arc progressed without checking anything other than the episode title.’ [In acting notes, it’s customary to rephrase ‘a bit one-note’ as ‘need to vary your performance a little more’. 😀 ]

    The ‘mythos’ part of your post is going to need another post.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Yes, sorry, replied to wrong person. I’m definitely up for ‘River and the Timeless Child both got their ability to regenerate from the Time Vortex’.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    No, River’s origin story works fine. Just ask yourself where the Timeless Child got her ability to regenerate from?

    And Madame Vastra was very clear that it was in River’s DNA. I vaguely recall a big DNA diagram on screen, and she was rather delicately trying to ask if the Doctor was River’s father. Without using the words ‘sex’ or ‘conception’. 😀

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Just saying that I really hope that we’re not being infected by the Twitter virus where if you articulate any criticisms of the current run that you’re automatically labelled an NMD and basically told just to shut the hell up.

    I hope so too – but I think, when articulating criticisms, there is a responsibility to assess whether there’s a genuine fault in the work, or whether the critic just doesn’t like this writer’s style. Is the fault in Chris Chibnall’s writing, or is the fault that he’s just not Steven Moffat? Is the critique of faults in Chris Chibnall’s story, or is it being torn to pieces because it’s not the same sort of story that Steven Moffat would tell?

    I don’t think Chibnall is at Moffat’s level as a writer. I also don’t think Mark Gattiss is at Moffat’s level as a writer and I don’t think RTD is at Moffat’s level either. Which kind of, I think, is my response to @blenkinsopthebrave‘s worry that Chibnall is taking things back to RTD. It’s clearly no accident, because that last cliffhanger was a completely deliberate call back to the RTD/Tennant ‘What, what, WHAT?’ catchphrase.

    But the one thing Chibnall doesn’t have IS Moffat. Because Steven Moffat’s done twice as long as showrunner as he originally wanted, and even if he does come back to do scripts for Who, it’s very unlikely to be during the Chibnall period. So if you don’t have Moffat, and you’re not as good as Moffat … probably best to go for a style of Who you can compete with and know how to do, rather than try Moffat-style and fail miserably. Chibnall and RTD are, I think, pretty much on a level as writers.

    The show’s mythos is no further forward than when he took over.

    I’m really not understanding what you mean by ‘mythos’, because in the sense of ‘a set of beliefs or assumptions about something’ Chibnall’s just blown the show’s mythos into teeny tiny pieces. Then had the Master turn the pieces into the new Cyber-Empire. So what do you mean when you say it’s ‘no further forward’?

    nothing like the same level of the characterisation 12 underwent

    Unfortunately, I hated CapDoc’s characterisation – not quite from Deep Breath to The Doctor Falls, because I was very willing to like him in Deep Breath and I think I gave him most of that first series for him to grow on me. Whittaker’s a massive relief, because her characterisation has grown on me – certainly I’m perfectly happy with her Doctor at this point.

    So if we’re judging characterisation styles, what we end up with is that you like the Moffat/Capaldi character arc and I like the Chibnall/Whittaker arc. For that matter, I liked the Graham/Ryan arc last series, which was a very definite characterisation arc.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    But ‘I repeat’ this is as cynical a fanwank as you are likely to experience.

    Then we’re just going to have to agree to disagree – because where you see cynical fanwank, I see enormous creative possibilities.

    Yes, the BBC can sell the franchise now, into areas where British produced programmes are a niche taste. The actors (m or f) playing the Doctor will be ‘real’ Doctors, but pre-Hartnell, and the continuity of the UK series won’t be affected because of the memory wipe. Yes, they can go for a movie, yes they can go for more video games.

    But I’m not sure you realised when you cited Robert Holmes just how much those particular retcons limited future writers. Want a funny regeneration scene where the Doctor goes through loads of bodies in minutes? Only in Comic Relief, Mr Moffat, or you’re going to use up the remaining regenerations in one episode. Need an ‘extra’ Doctor because a previous Doctor refuses to ever play the part again and the script is half written with three Doctors? Congratulations – that’s one of those lives gone.

    Fancy a story about a pre-Hartnell Doctor? No. We’ve seen all the pre-Hartnell Doctors. We’re busy pretending they never existed. No, you can’t ask any of the actors to reprise those roles because they weren’t actors in the first place.

    Important Actor hints they might like to play the Doctor but doesn’t fancy three whole years in Cardiff? Writer pitches brilliant idea for the Doctor meeting a future self? Production company in Japan would love to produce a Japanese-language Doctor Who and has got some amazing ideas for new monsters? No, no and no.

    Only now it’s yes, yes and yes.

    It’s like the Star Trek franchise realising that they don’t have to set everything on the bloomin’ Enterprise. We’re no longer confined to twelve (or twenty-four) Doctors. We can also now have different series exploring different parts of the Whoniverse right back to the origins of Gallifrey if we want, because it’s just been established that the Doctor goes that far back. We can have more than one series broadcasting at the same time – I don’t actually care if you think Chibnall’s a bad writer, because what he’s just done is, potentially, to open up an entire creative universe.

    This could be brilliant, you know.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    I could point out that the story not only retcons the Doctors history, but the outcome of he Cyberwars themselves (see Revenge of the Cybermen, Ark in Space and the various stories about the mass exodus from solar storms for more information). But what the hell.

    Wasn’t that dealt with in The Haunting at Villa Diodati when the Doctor points out that history tells us Shelley should have been in the room? That story also possibly retcons Mary Shelley’s travels with the Doctor as well as the outcomes of the Cyberwars – but the point is that the audience was told history was being changed.

    It was one of the mantras of the Moffat era: Time Can Be Changed. There’s more than one possible future and the Doctor can visit those possibilities (see also Pyramids of Mars).

    [Edit: That awful Orphan 55 also implied that the future just visited didn’t have to happen]

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Okay, I’m going to pull some quotes from your first post:

    That was as cynical a bit of fanwank as you are likely to experience.


    Chris Chibnall who is a mediocre mind with a small gift for self selling.

    Those two sandwich praise for Robert Holmes and Philip Hinchcliffe from the Tom Baker era. Your point is that (another quote):

    If every retcon is done for a reason, then what is the reason for this one?

    Okay. I did not make a lame attempt to paint you as a bowel-streaked naysayer. Your first post did that. That would’ve passed muster on T’Other place, with the bowel-streaked naysayers on there greeting you as a man and a brother. It’s all there. Insulting the current producer? Check. Praising the Tom Baker era? Check. Use of obscure details of knowledge? Check. Praising a never seen story that only a ‘real fan’ would know about? Check. Rhetorical question implying that the retcon was pointless? Well, that’s what I thought it was. So, check.

    Apologies if I sounded somewhat irate, but I was like ‘Where is Phaseshift and what have they done with him?’

    Let’s get one thing absolutely straight (and I may sound irate again). This is the first series I’ve really looked forward to rewatching for four solid series. I liked the Whittaker Doctor. I enjoyed the stories. The lead up to the retcon was fun and I’m going to enjoy spotting clues I missed. And I like the retcon; it opens up so very many possibilities for future writers. ‘Invested’. Yup. I tend to be that way when someone tells me I shouldn’t like something I do like because writer X is so, so much a superior writer and writer Y (the one I like) is a talentless hack. Stuff that.

    Yes, one of those retcon possibilities is a Doctor Who movie with a bankable star – because even the most bankable British stars Doctor Who has created are still ‘Supporting Actor’ when it comes to Hollywood. I bet the BBC really liked the ‘infinite previous Doctors’ when it was floated to them – or alternatively, that when the BBC told Chibnall they’d like some way of being able to use non-TV Doctors in a franchise, he promptly went ‘that dratted Brain of Morbius scene – I can use that.’

    Apparently that’s cynical fanwank. Well, I’m sorry, but show business is a business (I know; I’ve been trying to make a living in it for thirty years) – and the BBC is facing big financial trouble up ahead. Professional TV writers are asked to write stories to order. I’m not really interested in whether the idea of possibly infinite Doctors was pitched by Chibnall (he may well have done, he might have had an Morbius idea buzzing around in his head from his fan days) or to Chibnall.

    What I care about is that I enjoyed the story.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    For your average ‘Not We’, all they know (and want to know) is that the Doctor is a renegade Time Lord from Gallifrey who travels in a Police Box and has adventures.

    Except that part of that statement isn’t true. Well, it wasn’t true in 1963.

    Is there something wrong with a story that plays with the audience ‘knowing’ something that isn’t really true? ‘Everything you think you know is a lie.’ The Doctor isn’t a renegade Time Lord from Gallifrey – that’s a later addition. Chibnall’s just tweaked things so that the history of the programme became history within the programme. The Doctor didn’t start out as a Time Lord.

    I think you and @phaseshift keep saying this retcon is pointless and forgetting that it’s a re-retcon. It’s a retcon that takes away some of the additions that have been made through the show’s fifty-odd years. It’s the original additions that were – if what Phaseshift says is true – pointless. Groundwork for a story that never got written? Why shouldn’t a new showrunner decide to play with a storyline that sparked off from an old scene that was never properly explained.

    The other point I’d make is that to end the series on a cliffhanger is to say: ‘To Be Continued’. It might be a bit premature to say that the retcon is pointless if we’re only in Act Two of a Three Series arc.

    She seems to have had rather more than most though.

    Yes. Agreed. The Whittaker Doctor has had a massive amount of character development compared to other Doctors. Other Doctors usually get to develop in a major way just before regeneration.

    I’ve discussed in a post above why leaving Ko Sharmus to blow everything up can be seen as completely in character – the character the Whittaker Doctor developed in her first series (I did a blog about it). She is not responsible for everyone, she cannot save everyone, she has to allow people what I supposed we’d now call their own agency. She has to allow Ko Sharmus to take responsibility for his actions.

    She learnt to do a ‘flat team structure’ rather than ‘listen to me being brilliant’, and in this second series she’s been re-learning that there are times when the team structure has to be anything but flat; because she really is special. Sometimes she can save everyone – or, at least, someone.

    Who is she? She’s the Doctor. But who is the Doctor?

    Doctor Who. 😀

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    your response is an inelegant method of not answering my main point.

    Inelegant, I grant you. But I suppose my main point is that I’m developing a deep suspicion that had the Holmes/Hinchcliffe/Nation plot points been broadcast under the name ‘Chris Chibnall’, you would even now be telling me how awful they are.

    I can accept that Holmes may have said that he decided to set up a story that Graham Williams didn’t want to do – but the reality is that he established a retcon in Brain of Morbius and Deadly Assassin which ended up doing sweet FA for later writers. They had to ignore the Brain of Morbius faces and they were stuck with everyone ‘knowing’ exactly how many lives the Doctor had left.

    (And don’t get me on to the Valeyard… )

    Of course, thirty odd years later we did get a fairly good story out of the regeneration limit. Yay.

    The Chibbers retcon (or re-retcon) otoh, frees up future writers. The Doctor now has an unknown number of future regenerations. Might be twelve, might be infinite. People no longer have to ignore that embarrassing and largely unnecessary Brain of Morbius scene. What is its point beyond that?

    Well, what I would say is that you’re willing to allow Holmes and Hinchcliffe three series or more to develop their big story, but the closing music has barely played on Chibbers’ second series, and you’re demanding to know the point of the big reveal. This isn’t really holding those writers to the same standard.

    What I can see at the moment is that in her first series, the Whittaker Doctor begins to learn to shed her God complex. She can’t save everyone, and everything is not her responsibility. Symbolically, she can begin to turn up to funerals again, even take part in them. I understand why @jimthefish says that her leaving Ko Sharmus to blow up the Master is un-doctorish, but it’s in keeping with the Whittaker Doctor’s character development. She says the situation is her responsibility – but Ko Sharmus points out that she wasn’t the one who chose to send the Cyberium back through time rather than finding a way to destroy it. He was. He’s the one who now has to take responsibility. She lets him do that (no more God complex).

    So in the first Whittaker series, she sheds her God complex and returns to being ‘just a traveller who tries to help out’ – but part of that seems to be shedding her Time Lord past. No mention of Time Lords, no Gallifrey, no old enemies. Back to the beginning, back to before the War Games. The Doctor travelling with her family.

    In the second Whittaker series, that Time Lord past comes back to bite her – and the series ends with an episode where she discovers that she’s not a Time Lord by birth. Nor is she responsible for their creation (she was a child). Or their deaths (that may have been the Master). As part of that, she discovers that the twelve-regeneration limit was, in her case, a lie.

    So what’s the point of the retcon? I’ll have to think about it some more, but I suspect that Chibbers, having tackled the God Complex, is now possibly trying to develop the Doctor’s characterisation away from the ‘rebel Time Lord’ schtick that we’ve been stuck with since The War Games. Trying to explain why the Time Lords seem to absolutely hate the Doctor but are seemingly happy to let the Master(s) do what they like – and possibly remove the need to continually explain why the Doctor never stays to sort out his/her home planet.

    Making the Doctor an adopted child who doesn’t know they were adopted. But if you do that, why does the Doctor regenerate? Was it gifted them? Or did they gift it to the Time Lords?

    Or was it effectively stolen from them?

    And you end up with a retcon.

    Me, I’m thinking there’s an Act Three – that ending the series with a cliffhanger was an ‘Act Three’ signal.

    Two points: Hinchcliffe was indeed moved because of the fuss – he was swapped with Graham Williams, who’d been developing Target and Williams was told to tone things down to be more suitable for the under-tens. Holmes wasn’t moved – he worked with Williams for a few episodes as script editor, and wrote for him. His decision to move away from Doctor Who for a bit was his own.

    Second point is that there was an almighty row about Hinchcliffe using the production team rather than paying actors as per the BBC/Equity agreement – and this might have been another reason for the BBC to eventually decide to move him.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Can I say that I sincerely hope the story about Robert Holmes is a bit of fanwankery and isn’t actually true? Because if it is, that’s really not one of his best writing ideas. Hey, let’s put a load of production staff images as previous faces of the Doctor in one clip in one story, then put a completely arbitrary limit on the number of regenerations in another story in the following series and this will re-introduce jeopardy because the audience will work out that Tom Baker’s Doctor might actually die…

    Seriously? When all that was actually needed was either to talk about a three-regeneration limit or (better) to have a Time Lord die spectacularly in The Deadly Assassin and have the other Time Lords mention that he was killed too quickly for him to regenerate?

    But instead we have this weird, over-complicated, two part/two series solution to a problem that doesn’t exist – because everyone over the age of five knows that the hero of an adventure serial only dies in the very last episode ever. Or, in the case of Doctor Who, they ‘die’ when their contract ends. And you’re telling me a professional TV writer thought that this well-known trope was an actual problem he had to deal with?

    Next up: Mr Holmes tackles the strange fact that everyone in an adventure serial always finds a perfectly fitting disguise.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


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

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

    I’d agree that the Whittaker Doctor can be ‘undoctorly’, but I still haven’t forgotten when the Capaldi Doctor grabbed his Sonic rather than a drowning child. The Doctor can have undoctorly moments in any regeneration.

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

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

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

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    I would say there are two possibilities. One, given that a big thing was made in Spyfall about encoding hidden information in pictures is that ‘Brendan’ is an encoded version of the Doctor’s/Timeless Child’s life. Should anyone not in the know look at it, they’ll see a fake memory (a ‘legend’) of the Doctor’s life as a Division agent, in which he was chameleon arched as a human baby and was working as a Garda.

    For those in the know, the memory can be decoded to reveal the records of the Timeless child.

    The other possibility is that ‘Brendan’ really was one of the Doctor’s missions while with the Division (the name Brendan is strongly associated with St Brendan the Voyager, i.e. a traveller) and he had to make some seemingly minor changes to the history of Ireland. But that the genuine memories were then used to encode the Timeless Child information, just as the perfectly real fish was used to encode O’s location.

    I was wondering why Chibbers wanted to go down the limitless regenerations route – one reason, I think, is purely symbolic. As David Tennant once said, once the rebooted series survived as a continuation of the pre-gap series, The Doctor joined the ranks of immortal fictional characters. So why not make him/her officially immortal? Killable, yes, but a character who can potentially regenerate forever?

    The other is clearing stuff up for future producers. Yeah, Moffat managed to do a dramatically satisfying recharge of the twelve regenerations, but that was partly because he managed to finagle the regenerations to do the reboot in the 50th Anniversary year. It fitted with the entire ‘big event’ feel of that anniversary. What happens down the road when some poor sod of a showrunner has to find a way of working in another twelve regenerations? Why not just alter the mythology so that producers won’t have that (entirely invented and completely unnecessary) problem?

    I really liked Ko Sharmus, and wouldn’t be at all surprised if he was more than he made out. He might be a Division agent; working to ensure that the Cybermen don’t wipe out every last human by guarding a handy portal. Or he might be what he said he was – a human who feels that his job is to keep other humans alive and help them escape.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Tecteun has a vaguely Aztec feel, but I suspect it’s a made-up name. My guess is the tect is from ‘Tekton’ (ancient Greek), followed by the Korean girl’s name ‘Eun’ which Chibbers might know from a Korean film or an actress.

    Anyway, the two would fit. Tekton is Greek for ‘builder’, ‘eun’ is Korean for kindness, mercy, charity. Tecteun showed kindness to the abandoned timeless child, charitably brought her home – then used her to build the race of regenerating Time Lords.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Other lovely, ironic stuff. The Doctor standing in the ruins of the Citadel, automatically telling her fam that they can’t be here because no aliens are allowed on Gallifrey. When she’s the original alien…

    Also explains why the xenophobic Time Lords disliked The Doctor so very much. They needed her to become Time Lords, but she was an alien. They must have been vastly relieved when the Division gave them an excuse to wipe her memory.

    Do we finally have an answer to the problem of Hartnell and Troughton seeming to have one heart and the Pertwee Doctor arriving on Earth with two? Did the Timeless Child’s regeneration ability also include regenerating to ‘mimic’ her host race?

    It’s possible that River’s regeneration ability is the reason Chibbers thought he could rework canon into the Doctor being the source of regeneration in Time Lords. If regeneration comes from repeated exposure to the time vortex during conception and fetal development, then that’s possibly how the Doctor herself gained the ability. If you notice, Chibbers was the writer who decided Amy and Rory’s post-River son Anthony was adopted, so I suspect he knows this bit of the Moffat era quite well.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Namely that by removing the previous Gallifreyan ruling elite (the Pythia) as precursors to the Time Lords you end up without the Sisterhood of Karn, meaning you end up with no War Doctor.

    You’re confusing history and pre-history, I think. Plus you’re not allowing for the tendency of succeeding regimes to rewrite the previous history, and also not allowing for the Master deciding to telescope several hundred millennia into a couple of lines.

    Okay, new canon. Everything we have seen the Doctor do on screen is real (for a given value of real). Chibbers has been extremely careful to establish that – realising that the Master isn’t the most reliable of narrators, he’s had the Doctor meet up with many old foes and some new ones who namechecked other old foes.

    What that means is that we have the Sisterhood of Karn and the Priesthood of Pythia, because we’ve seen them both on screen. However, the off-screen history of how we got them may be a pile of self-serving propaganda invented by the Rassillon regime. The Sisterhood of Karn, with their excellent knowledge of regeneration, may in fact be the followers of Tecteun – you could see why that little tidbit might be wiped out of history.

    As to why a canonically long lived race (whose bodies can last millennia between regenerations) would want to live still longer – I suspect we’re being handed a new myth about the quest for immortality. A Gallifreyan equivalent of the Philosopher’s Stone, except the ‘Stone’ is a living child.

    You might be right, however, that the Master suspects a ‘terrible truth’. For one thing, Timeless-Child-Doctor regenerates because of a childish squabble over a toy and the Master’s strangely insistent that it was just two kids playing, an unfortunate accident. For another, the episode isn’t called ‘The Timeless Child.’ It’s called ‘The Timeless Children‘.

    Who was the other child? And does the Master have a horrible suspicion that it’s him? That he, too, doesn’t know his true history?

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    It seems to be a bit of a ‘marmite’ episode, but I’m firmly in the ‘loved it’ camp. Sacha Dhawan was utterly brilliant – broken, and malignant with flashes of something almost like empathy. Did he really say ‘Good luck, humans’? And yes, I can imagine that discovering he’s not just related to the Doctor but is (in a way) her descendent would tear him apart. I may think Missy would have coped better, but the Dhawan Master is considerably less stable.

    I also loved that the ‘fam’ have grown enough that they can handle themselves without the Doctor.

    And yes, great backstory. Everything we’ve seen on screen happened, but there is now so much more to find out about what happened before the Hartnell Doctor arrived on Earth. After feeling that we know everything there is to know about John Smith from Gallifrey – where he went to school, his family, his schoolfriends, his house-mother – we now find out that we don’t know anything about her at all. 🙂

    We’re back to ‘Doctor Who?’ I think that’s a good thing.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Yet, I would argue it is the Master who is the one who is (always) guilty of hubris, and by identifying with Ozymandius he has both mis-read Shelley and revealed his own shortcomings

    But has he?

    I agree that the Master’s tendency to misread human creative works is legendary, but if this incarnation is post-Missy, I’d argue that it’s entirely possible for him to have read that poem and thought ‘F*ck, I’m Ozymandias. Complete with giant statues to myself that always get pulled down.’ Missy, at least at the end of her incarnation, was self-aware enough for that.

    The other alternative is that in misquoting Shelley, the Master is identifying himself with the Time Lords and their attitude to other races. ‘Look at my works, ye mighty and despair.’ Well, look at them now (which line was, I think, applied to Brendan).

    Yeah, I’m wondering what was so important that the Doctor turns up after the massive devastating war has done all its devastating? Had the Cyberium or Cyberiad, or Cyber-wotsit only just been sent back after the final big battles? So she couldn’t get there any earlier, as that would change the events that sent her forward in the first place?

    Incidentally, Blenkinsop, I hadn’t actually connected the Master’s nom de guerre of ‘O’ with ‘Ozymandias’. That’s interesting. Maybe Jim is going to get his squee after all.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @blenkinsopthebrave and @jimthefish

    I can’t help thinking we’re somehow missing the significance of the Master misquoting Shelley. Did he just think it was a good line? Does he know that Shelley was the Guardian for the Cyberium?

    And in addition, he’s placed himself as Ozymandias. The one who boasts ‘look at my works, ye mighty’ and yet is now another fallen statue in a fallen Empire.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Yeats and the Irish Literary Revival helped make ‘fantastical’ political in Southern Ireland, but I think he might have been riffing off an older tradition. You don’t get much more political than Dean Swift, even if his most famous work is now seen as a children’s story.

    Yeah, I think the gap is because there just wasn’t much in the way of Irish publishing companies to publish with until the 1980’s. Not unless you were writing SF in the Irish language, anyway. The Irish diaspora meant that the population was falling right up to the 1960’s, so you’re looking at a market of about 4 million people in Southern Ireland versus a market of ten times that many if you sell your book to a London publisher…

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    To be honest, when the robber pulled out his pistol my first thought was dissident Republicans, but I can see why an Irish reporter might not be too keen on saying that. We in the UK tend to see the troubles as Northern Ireland, but most Gardai deaths on duty (that aren’t accidents) result from a crime investigation that turns out to be investigating a crime committed by armed paramilitaries.

    You are absolutely right: do a little digging and loads of Irish SF turns up. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do the digging: Jack Fennell did his PhD on Irish SF. Worldcon 2019 (sadly, I couldn’t go) was held in Dublin, and Jack very kindly allowed them to publish a pdf copy of the book list in ‘A Short Guide to Irish SF’.

    I think he argues that the problem with Irish SF is simply that the Irish literary establishment doesn’t want to be Irish. Or rather, they wanted to create a new idea of ‘Irish’, where Ireland takes its rightful place among grown up, serious nations. Traditional Irish stories are fantastical; they didn’t want to go there, they wanted ‘serious, meaningful’ literature about the famine. Grown up stuff, not kiddie style SF. As well, the people who could have become Ireland’s scientific establishment (and wrote SF on the side) had mostly emigrated to where the research money was – put the two together, and you get ‘hidden’ SF, where everyone goes ‘Bob Shaw was an Irish SF writer?’

    Anyway, Jack Fennell’s Worldcon article is here.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    The Easter Rising was in 1916, but Brendan’s Garda mentor (do we ever find out his name?) is wearing a Garda uniform when he’s investigating the finding of Baby Brendan. Which means that has to be 1922 or later (unless we’re doing a Whoniverse thing of fudging the dates/uniforms because it’s not our universe).

    So when Brendan is seen retiring it would be 1982 or early eighties and he’s stayed in the Gardai for as long as he legally could. This is all if we’re seeing ‘real’ events, of course, and not some kind of simulation.

    Now, if he does arrive in 1922, that would mean that he’s probably 18 in 1940. So we have a very interesting vibe of a soldier aged Brendan making a deliberate choice to be a Guardian of the Peace when the world outside Ireland was in the middle of a deadly war. Remind you of anyone else who hated the very thought of being a soldier?

    So is this a simulation in which ‘Brendan’ is a cyberman who really wants to be a guardian of the peace, dreaming some kind of fluffy Irish fantasy? Or is it a hint that we’re seeing a hidden ‘guardian’? Or does it fit with Ko Sharmus, who’s chosen to guard the portal in the middle of a deadly war?

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    the supposed unlikelihood of one of the handful of survivors being a nurse, another a teacher.

    I found those comments a bit odd, to be honest. Soldiers wouldn’t be the last people to survive: they’d have died – or the good ones would – protecting the nurse, the teacher or fighting the Cybermen. The people told to refugee out would be the people who could keep human civilisation going – like the teacher – or people alive – like the nurse.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Oh, I think the clock has a meaning and I don’t think you’re grasping at straws. The camera focus on the clock wasn’t casual – the actor placed it quite deliberately for its very own close-up and that close-up was long enough to have made a real live actor a very happy bunny.

    But I think its significance is as a symbol of time rather than there being anything significant about the clock.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    I had a good look at a freeze-frame of the clock and I’d say it’s an ordinary carriage clock with Roman numerals.

    Brendan's clock

    The only odd thing about it is that the Roman numerals look a bit funny – at first I thought they were in the wrong places, but it’s just that the right hand stroke of the X is really thin and difficult to see.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    @blenkinsopthebrave and @mudlark

    Or maybe they were entities who simply assumed the appearance of the father and the senior policeman.

    I noticed the different reactions when I rewatched as well. I think you’re probably right, Mudlark – the minders assumed the appearance of the two people that Brendan would trust most in all the world. His father, and the policeman who mentored him. Because before that final scene, neither of those people act as if they know who Brendan truly is – the policeman is completely shocked when Brendan wakes up, and the father is visibly wondering if he’s fostered Superman.

    If they’re TimeLords, they were also chameleon arched without their memories and came to pick up Old Brendan. Which is, I suppose, possible, though as I said up above, it would be a terrible pun on the old ‘Gallifrey is in Ireland’ gag if that entire Irish village consists of chameleon arched Gallifreyan refugees.

    I suspect the cliff to beach problem was technical: they did or planned the cliff top shot with Brendan being shot in the chest and falling backwards, which looks really good. Then they realised when filming at the bottom that they couldn’t get both actors and the cliff in the shot unless Brendan had his head to the cliff.

    So they probably decided that either it enhanced the dream-like feel of the fall/coming back to life or that Brendan could have flipped over in flight, so to speak. Not terrible continuity, just a camera angle problem.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Oh, and an Irish Brendan is almost certainly named after St Brendan the Navigator, or sometimes St Brendan the Voyager. He sets off with a bunch of companions and has many exciting adventures, finally finding the Blessed Isle, or the Isle of St Brendan.

    Remind you of anyone? Especially considering the long-running fan joke (repeated by RTD in Human Nature) that Gallifrey is clearly somewhere in Ireland…

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Okay, so I had a chance to rewatch this episode – some thoughts on that.

    Firstly, while I’m going to wait and see what next week’s like, I think I may have to apologise to CC for saying his ‘future-set’ episodes aren’t that good. Given the massive amount of information that had to be given to the audience, this was a very well paced first act.

    @jimthefish – I agree that Graham has a definite flub in which he starts to say ‘I’m the Doc’ and then changes it to ‘I’m the most normal person’. Even if it’s a Billy flub, I’d still have to ask why he’d start to do that particular line. Running off-screen gag? Or he says it next episode?

    Graham has now been mistaken for the Doctor three times. Skyfall. Fugitive of the Judoon. Can You Hear Me? In the first two, it’s blatant, in Can You Hear Me he gets the vision of the trapped godlet that one would think should have been sent to the Doctor…

    And now, as you’ve spotted, he starts to tell someone he’s the Doctor.

    Agreed that Chibbers didn’t do a great job of making us care about the last remaining human refugees – sorry, we’ve spent the budget on the Cybermen and the Brendan subplot so there are only six speaking parts plus one non-speaking. But what I did notice was that they all had traditional Doctor Who Sci-fi names. Very traditional – Ravioli, sorry Ravio, Meerkat, sorry Feekat, Ascot, no Bescot, Fuckitt, no Fuskle, oh let’s just do a random letters and vowels thing, sorry Yedlarmi and Ethan.

    Uh, Ethan? How did Ethan creep in there? And people on T’Other Place have pointed out that Ethan is a very knowledgeable young man.

    RyAN. BrendAN. EthAN. Could be some writery subconscious thing, but is there some kind of connection between Ryan, Brendan and Ethan? And plus, while the Last Remaining Humans seemed to include several disposable characters, a lot of effort was spent making us like Brendan. He had an entire subplot to himself, from babyhood to ‘death’.

    The props department seem to love their details with Doctor Who, and one thing I noticed was that Abandoned Baby Brendan had the most lovely white baby quilt with flowers and stuff – and a definite ‘circular’ motif. Very Gallifreyan.

    @missrori – I still think ‘The Timeless Child’, but there is a very ‘Doctor’ motif in that he’s a Garda, which the script spells out means ‘guard’ (a guardian?). He spends his human life wanting to protect people, which is very Doctorish and he tries to talk the thief down in a very Doctorish way.

    Bonkers theories – one idea I had back when the Doctor had killed billions of kids was to wonder why the Time Lords hadn’t hidden their children using chameleon arches. Now we’ve been deliberately reminded of that tech via Ruth, I’m again wondering if the surviving Gallifreyans are hiding among humans.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Anyway, my bet is that Brendan IS the Timeless Child, and his ‘minders’ are responsible for wiping his memory at the end of every ‘life’.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Yeah, I thought Captain Jack as well. Captain Jack became immortal as a by-product of the Time Vortex, so if Brendan is a similar type of immortal there’s a fair chance that he’s the Timeless Child or something related to the Time Lords.

    But that explains why Captain Jack had a scene in Fugitive from the Judoon.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Well, the Master being back is expected. Given the Castrovalva/Logopolis like nature of the Villa this week, I was expecting him to pop out of the woodwork.

    I strongly suspect the Timeless Child is going to go into next series, though.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Mary Tamm and Lalla Ward haven’t gone missing – we simply haven’t got to them yet.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    “Doctors”: is this show good? It seems as though every second Doctor Who cast member has been on it.

    The BBC considers it as one of its ‘rep’ training-ground soap series for baby TV actors and writers – so its quality can be a bit variable, ranging from ‘superb’ to ‘we have to broadcast this, it’s Tuesday’. But that’s why almost everyone has been on it.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    why, how, could a non-inhibited cyberman slit his own children’s throats? I think that was probably a lie.

    Yes, I get the feeling that something about it was a lie. It’s possible he’s not got an inhibitor because he’s a fanatic about the joys of Cyberisation, but he was certainly lying about the baby – he may have seen the baby as a future Cyberman, but he still saw it as a baby. As you say, a Cyberman going coochy coo with a baby was a ‘yikes!’

    There is a circumstance when a loving parent would slit his or her children’s throats, and that’s when what they’re facing is worse than death. They’d ‘joined the resistance’, so were fighting being Cyberised. Did Ashad kill them because he’s a fanatic? Or because he knew the alternative was bringing them in for Cyberisation?

    @blenkinsopthebrave and @winston – Sadly, I have to point out that there’s a time jump when Doctor Polidori goes to sleep and that I strongly suspect that Graham took a leak during that ‘off-screen’ bit – though I agree he’s got really good bladder control. Reminds me of the scene during the Buffy Series 7 finale when they’re facing a massive battle and Xander tells everyone where the toilets are…

    Blenkinsop, I did not find Heaven Sent hypnotically riveting. I did find it slow – it relied on Capaldi, I think, and if you didn’t like Capaldi’s Doctor the viewer was left with nothing much else to watch. I’d a thousand times rather re-watch the Tsuranga Conundrum than Heaven Sent, even though I know perfectly well most people would think Heaven Sent is artistically ‘better’.

    Heaven Sent seems to be one of the very few episodes I didn’t comment on; probably I was working on the ‘if you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything’ line of thought at the time. However, I will say that comparing a talented writer (Chibnall) to a writer of genius (Moffat) is a bit unfair. It’s not that I like every single thing Steven Moffat has ever done, but I do think Moffat’s a genius, even when his latest experiment didn’t work for me.

    Um. Yeah, maybe it’s the pacing of the scripts? Because I actually liked the pting and would be happy to see it crop up again. Likewise the male pregnancy. The ideas are there, but the problem seems to be plotting and pacing them.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    I’m not sure that’s entirely fair – as I said a couple of weeks back, it’s really difficult to do an arc that may involve the Doctor’s past without going back into the Doctor’s past. I’d agree Chibnall didn’t have a ‘winner’ like the Weeping Angels when he tried a series of entirely new monsters – and it may well be that he’s got the kind of imagination that works best when it has something to ‘spark’ off. But his puppet master Dalek in Resolution was truly creepy, and I think this very cyborg-y version of the Cybermen might have legs. Possibly someone else’s legs, knowing Cybermen. 🙂

    No, the question is more: given that the historicals are often very good indeed, possibly ‘classic’ material – what is it that’s lifting them up, but not the present day/future episodes? Is @blenkinsopthebrave right and it’s a simple matter of pace?

    @jimthefish – forgot to mention – if you think any actor is going to ruin a perfectly nice part by doing a historically authentic high pitched grating voice that will irritate the audience no end, you can think again. ‘Historically authentic?’ Lewis Rainer no doubt said, ‘I’m in this historically authentic cellar with a *%)$&”! Cyberman!’


    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Well, ghosts in the Whoniverse are often the sign of a time distortion. So maybe the ‘conflict’ with the Big Finish audio (haven’t heard it) is a subtle signal that the time distortion caused by sending the Cyberium back (followed by the Lone Cyberman) is more dangerous than we think?

    The Big Finish set with Mary Shelley then becomes a ‘should have happened’ time loop. This might explain why the Doctor (who remembers being the Eighth) is so worried about killing Percy Shelley that she is willing to risk billions of future deaths. She already knows time has been badly altered.

    And why she wanted to limit the fam to one hour. With Shakespeare and Christie he was perfectly willing to stay overnight/for tea.

    [Edit: Come to think of it, could that be the reason the TARDIS is parked so far away that they all get soaked? It’s trying to avoid itself?]

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    I’m going to say no, just because it’d be too like Death in Heaven. Instead I’m going to suggest that the Doctor will make some terrible mistake because she’s trying to stop one of the fam being Cyberised.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Yes, I only knew it because I was in a play about the mad foursome a couple of decades back.

    It can be referenced in The Letters and Journals of Lord Byron, with Notices of His Life, which is on Google Books.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Yes, I was thinking Castrovalva and Logopolis. So much so, in fact, that I kept expecting the Master to pop up out of the woodwork. So, another callback to BG era Who, but not an obvious one. The genetic theme is cyberised – could this be the connection with the Scorpion-aliens? They were scavengers, and this variety of Cyberman scavenges human parts.

    And what is the reason for that very odd subplot with the genuine ghosts? There’s a skeleton (literally) in the closet (well, the chest) and ghosts in the woodwork. Something meta about the Time Lords, maybe? Skeletons and ghosts and patched up creatures made of bits of something else?

    I wonder why it is that the Chibnall historicals seem to be so much the best episodes of his era? It’s like everyone (actors, writers, production team) have the ‘touch’ with historicals. – which then proceeds to promptly desert them when they have to do something else.

    This may be a little unfair, because there’ve been some very good episodes this series. But I keep getting this feeling that we do a historical with real historical characters and everything noticeably goes up a notch.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    I didn’t much like (this is actually possibly the number one complaint on t’other place which is delightfully positive so far) the implication of cowardice in Byron.

    A sign that the writer’s done her research. He certainly wasn’t a coward, as such, but he had what you might call fits of nerves when he acted like one. Contemporaries call him ‘timid’ at times, and there’s a remembered conversation when Byron calls himself ‘cowardly’. It seems to have been an over-active imagination – or what moderns would call catastrophising – and he was worried whether it would happen to him in Greece.

    Which is the sign of a genuinely brave man, I think. He went and fought in a war that wasn’t his when he knew just how frightened he’d be.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Clearly this is going to be one of those days. A Caitlin Gosling has joined and her first post consists entirely of one link. In the Peter Capaldi as Twelfth Doctor forum.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    We seem to have a spammer. Name of Johnson, though I don’t know if they have a blond mop-top.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies

    Oh, yeah, and I forgot the obvious theme: everything we think we know is a lie.

    Spyfall – the man we think is an agent on our side (O) is actually the Master.
    Orphan 55 – the holiday resort planet is just a dome, the ‘alien’ planet is our own Earth.
    Fugitive of the Judoon – the human tour guide is really The Doctor.
    Praxeus – the helpful scientist is an alien conducting deadly experiments
    Can You Hear Me – the trapped ‘victim’ is an evil immortal.

    In each case we see – but we don’t understand. There’s something else (or someone else) hiding behind what we’re seeing.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    It’s about memory. Not fanwankery – memory. I’d have to check the individual episodes to see if I can spot the set, but the two themes running through that I’ve spotted so far are genetics and the Doctors’ pasts. I don’t think it’s really possible to do an arc about whether the Doctor and the Master’s pasts are based on a lie (everything we know is a lie) without considerable name-checking and confirmation of what they and we the audience actually do know.

    Celestial Toymaker is Hartnell, Eternals are Davison and Guardians are Baker T. Zellin referencing them is a way of confirming that the Doctor’s memories of the Hartnell, Davison and Baker T. eras do correspond to an external reality, because Zellin also knows about the beings he/she’s encountered. Giving them a namecheck is a way of reminding/reassuring the audience that the Hartnell, Baker T. and Davison Doctors are real within the Whoniverse, that the Whittaker Doctor has memories which are real memories of events within the Whoniverse.

    Captain Jack has just assured us (by turning up) that the Eccleston and Tennant eras were real. Possibly the Master’s Wicked Witch of the West joke was a way of reminding us that Missy and Capaldi happened.

    Once we’ve confirmed what is actually known, we can proceed with the ‘everything she knows is a lie’ plot. The question being whether the lie is hiding behind the external reality that we know? Did what we thought we saw have a different meaning? Or is the lie that the reality she remembers is not the whole of her life? That the Time Lords are not who she always thought they were?

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    It’s possible. Missy certainly made a similar joke (‘I’m in two minds about it. Fortunately, one of them is unconscious.’)

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    The Long Game, Turn Left, Oxygen. The Beast Below, The Christmas Invasion. The Zygon Inversion – probably some more.

    In the series before the Gap, off the top of my head, The Sunmakers, The Happiness Patrol, The Green Death – and the Daleks themselves in many, many of their stories.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    My own mind still defaults “brothers” or “school mates”, whereas if either of them had been a woman, I would probably have gone straight to “former partner”, based on Jake’s reaction to the news story.

    As someone who looks most unlike her brother, I can assure you that it works the other way round as well. That is, if you have two people of the opposite sex who are obviously close and don’t look alike, then ‘partner’ is the default assumption.

    So I’d say that we were picking up ‘brothers’ not because of underlying bias, but because of an underlying ‘they look alike, so family’ assumption. The writer/production team were playing with our assumptions, because it would’ve been easy to give Jake a line identifying Adam in the bar scene. But I think they were playing with the actors looking enough like each other the audience could assume ‘family’ and not realise what type of family until the reveal.

    @spider – I liked the last minute save, because when the fam insisted the Doctor could save Jake Whittaker’s expressions went from ‘yikes, NO. I can’t’ to ‘but I can try’ to ‘oh, help this is really tricky’ to ‘phew!’ And then finally ‘wow, wasn’t I clever.’ The materialisation trick has been used before, but it was nice to see that it’s not as easy as the Capaldi Doctor made out. 🙂

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Even the police officer being married to the astronaut gave me an eye roll

    I don’t see why. For someone to rush to Hong Kong from the UK on the off chance that Adam was alive (and the texts weren’t some kind of sick joke) Jake would have to be either Adam’s adoring brother or his husband. My first assumption was ‘brother’, because the two actors looked enough alike to be playing brothers. ‘Husband’ was a better decision, I think, because it segued nicely into the subplot where Jake’s obvious problems came from marrying a very much more successful person than he was.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Yes, I definitely got the impression that the split into different investigating teams has been happening a lot more than we’ve seen on-screen. We’ve seen it a couple of times this series, but they keep referring to off-screen adventures, so it’s not too big a leap.

    If all three actors are leaving at the end of the series (Doctors seem to stay for three series plus specials, companions two series) then they are now beginning to be in a situation where they can do stuff without the Doctor. Or, working more independently as they are, one of them could end up getting killed. Doctor Who killed, anyway, like Bill or Clara.
    Plastic is very much something small kids can do something about – learning not to just throw it away, for a start.

    I think the Vlogger (Gabriella?) was written as self-absorbed and shallow, but then that was contradicted by her later actions, where she tries to find out what killed her friend and tries to help the others save the world. It might be that there wasn’t enough room in the script for that to properly develop. So the actress (Joana Borja) seems to have decided to play it as if the ‘saving the world’ was the real Gabriella and the self-absorbed, shallow Gabriella was something she’d learnt to be through making a living as a vlogger. Coming on a second honeymoon and simply ignoring the fact that she’d not be welcome is the sort of thing a vlogger would do. 🙂

    Trying to eat outside at Southend can also be a dangerous occupation. Sod all this fishing, the seagulls seem to say, the humans have put fish on plates for us!

    @psymon the emotion (a lot of emotion) was in the scene where she sees the body of her partner. I agree that she didn’t then proceed to burst into tears throughout the rest of the episode, but Doctor Who has always taken the attitude that people will often move on very quickly from a partner’s death when aliens are trying to destroy the planet. I suppose you could also see the unwanted attachment to Jake and Adam as Gabriella not wanting to travel alone for a bit, because that will hurt too much. (Come to think of it, that may be why Adam and Jake don’t tell her to get lost).

    I think the ‘talks too much’ is Time Lord arrogance (which all the Doctors have) expressing itself in a Whittaker Doctor way. She lectures people.

    Remember the budget. They can afford South Africa – they can’t afford India.

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    It’s an episode I’d be happy to rewatch. It was very fast paced, certainly, but I don’t remember having any major problems following the plot.

    I haven’t yet seen Doomwatch (I have the DVD), but there were definite echoes of Quatermass, what with the infected astronaut and the design of the Praxeus. And it was considerably more subtle than Orphan 55 – though at the moment I think the arc progression in this one is through the characters. Something about Yaz…

    Bluesqueakpip @replies


    Or it could be that Chibnall decided to riff off what Moffat originally saw as a joke.

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