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    Juniperfish @replies

    Hey everyone <waves> Came here too when I saw the news on Twitter this morning.

    Absolutely gutted about Dan. Without his Doctor Who exhuberance and the extensive space provided back then below the line of his recaps on The Graun, we wouldn’t have this lovely place. I’ll always think fondly of the Moffat/ Guardian “golden years” on his blog.

    LGBT Doctor Who fandom has lost a prominent member.

    May his spirit wander with the TARDIS now.

    Juniperfish @replies

    @jimthefish He’s there for the benefit of a bit of fan service rather than being narratively necessary.

    Except, Jack is only one of a handful of the Doctor’s previous companions who can time-travel independently. And we do seem to be getting gratifyingly timey-wimey. Maybe the Jack who the “Fam” just met came from further up the present time-stream, in order to bring his cyberman warning?

    I saw a great theory elsewhere on the interwebs, which I can’t claim credit for, that perhaps the Jo Martin character isn’t, in fact, the Doctor, but is an AU River Song. Their supporting points were quite convincing. River can fly the TARDIS. The parents’ graves recall Amy and Rory. The Jo Martin character was certainly quite happy using weapons, but said impatiently to Whit Doc, “I know!” when WhitDoc said, “The Doctor doesn’t use weapons.”

    I’d put that weapons-usage inconsistency down to a Mirror-verse effect, but, I do like this as a bonkers theory.

    @mudlark The fact that the Ruth Doctor had no knowledge of Gallifrey’s destruction would be consistent with this, but it would mean working out a way in which alternative – as opposed to parallel or bubble universes – could intersect.

    Yes, that lack of knowledge of Gallifrey’s destruction for Jo Martin’s Doc is what, combined with the Orphan 55 signpost that multiple time-lines for Earth are out there, which the TARDIS can visit, is what led me to the alternative time-line theory.

    The Doctor’s speech to the “Fam” in Orphan 55, that the future of Earth they’d seen there wasn’t inevitable, it depended on humans actively working to avoid that apocalyptic future, makes me think the Doctor is going to have to figure out, back in time, what the Time Lords could do, in order to avoid the Master’s (apparent) destruction of Gallifrey.

    I’m quite excited about a Time Lord fascist empire, which, although in Jo Martin’s Doc’s imperial time-line Gallifrey seems to have avoided destruction, also clearly can’t be good.

    Perhaps the Doctor is going to have to navigate between the Scylla of Gallifrey’s destruction in her own time-line and the Charybdis of Jo Martin Doc’s time-line, where Gallifrey isn’t destroyed, but the Time Lords are full-on imperial fascists.

    Or perhaps, as we’ve speculated already, the Time Lords were fascistic in every time-line, in their use of genetic experimentation, and that is what has led to both outcomes we’ve seen thus far – imperial Gallifrey and destroyed Gallifrey. And the Doc must find another way.

    Juniperfish @replies

    @jimthefish Oh I’m pretty confident the “cyberman” clue will pay off in a future story.

    The Captain isn’t for everyone, I know that. But I personally love his swashbuckling, piratical, big bisexual energy 🙂

    In a way, it was a smart writers’ move not to have Jack and WhitDoc meet, because I kind of think this version of the Doctor might get on less well with the Captain than the previous versions he’s travelled with. She might find him a tad too bombastic, given her own down-to-earth demeanour.
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    Juniperfish @replies

    @miapatrick Yes,  in terms of the distance WhitDoc has been keeping from her companions, from a character point of view, we can argue it make makes sense, particularly after all the trauma of the Time War and its aftermath and losing River and then Clara and Bill, all in upsetting ways.

    Although, that’s also, perhaps, a little generous to the S11 writing, because that “strategy” has made for a rather flat series of Doctor-companion relationships on the TARDIS up to this point. It looks to me as if there’s been a significant re-think in the writers’ room for S12, based on reactions to S11.

    Although, it remains to be seen if the high of Vinay Patel’s excellent episode (and to be fair he shares the writing credit with Chibnall) will be continued.

    I should also say I loved Ritu Arya’s Gat, the Time Lord hunting down Jo Martin’s version of the Doctor. The relationship between them was intriguing (possibly old lovers?) so I’m sorry she’s (apparently) dead.

    Agreed, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine a Time Lord imperial dictatorship. And that’s an excellent theme to be exploring now, in the context of what the Chibnall era has done best, in my view, up to now – depicting the Doctor as resolutely anti-fascist. Because what do you do when you find out your own people are the fascists this time?

    Juniperfish @replies

    Wow, well Vinay Patel is officially my favourite writer on Chibnall’s team.

    That was the first time I’ve felt really gripped with the excitement that is Doctor Who at its best since the start of the Chibnall era.

    Loved seeing Captain Jack again – always a fave Nu Who character for me, and he came bearing a cyberman mystery too. And (and this is good writing) – excellent dramatic tension, because Jack and the Doctor didn’t get to meet again (and of course we want them to). Hah, Graham’s head must be spinning, wondering about the Doc and Jack’s past after that hearty kiss :-).

    Jo Martin made an excellent, slightly scary, alternative time-stream Doctor, and the tension between her and WhitDoc was perfect – just the sort of mutual, appalled fascination and contempt I remember with fondness from previous multiple Doctor stories.

    It looks as if we’re meeting the Doctor from another time-stream (now it’s been established in Orphan 55 that other time-streams are a thing) – kind of a Star Trek style Mirrorverse, in which the Time Lords are running an imperial dictatorship of some kind?

    WhitDoc telling her companions that she’s lived for thousands of years and they don’t really know her, was a great moment. I really felt the alien shine out of Whittaker, as if she’s been putting on a persona for “the Fam” up to this point. Looking forward to more of this.

    Overall, I want to thoroughly celebrate the episode, and can only hope this calibre of story is going to continue.

    We certainly have a lot of threads to follow now – Captain Jack, the last cyberman, the Doctor’s other self, an Imperial Gallifrey, the Master, possible Gallifreyan genetic experiments… I’m delighted.

    Juniperfish @replies

    @mudlark I like your idea that the Scythra (I know it’s officially Skithra, but I like my spelling better) are a hive species.

    @bluesqueakpip Yes, I can buy your distinction in terms of the Spyfall mind-wipe for tech-whizz Lovelace (as she’d seen the future) vs the lack of mind-wipe for tech-whizz Tesla. But, as you and @jimthefish and @mudlark say – it’s still a morally problematic act. And I hope it is indeed revisted as part of the Time Lord arc.

    @blenkinsopthebrave That is a good bonkers theory about some kind of timey-wimey filching of time-tech by the Time Lords, despite @mudlark ‘s lack of archeological evidence 🙂 Which exchange makes me miss River, time-travelling archaeologist extraordinaire, herself.

    On the question of the Time Lords and potential genetic experimentation in order to “create” themselves, I had a flash-back to Genesis of the Daleks, and Davros’ experimentation on the Kaleds to mutate them into Daleks.

    How much would Davros crow if it turned out the Doctor’s own people were guilty of similar genetic “enhancement”.

    And wow that would put a new spin on the Time War.

    Juniperfish @replies

    @mudlark Yes – the origins of Elon Musk’s own Tesla company are more complex than the “genius inventor founder” mythology:

    Juniperfish @replies

    @miapatrick Yes, I wish we’d spent more time with Lovelace. She deserved a whole episode of her own.

    And also, glaring incongruity – why did Lovelace have to get her memory wiped, but Tesla (who saw the inside of the TARDIS) didn’t?

    Just to re-ignite the ethics of the mind-wipe debate @jimthefish was having earlier!

    BTW, I don’t think the Scythra’s ship got blown up – they skedaddled in the nick of time. I was momentarily shocked when I thought the Doc had just blown it up.

    A scavenger race like the Scythra are a bit of a puzzle, because surely, they’re intelligent, so why not tinker about the high-tech stuff they filch and figure some of it out? The tech they had which could disguise them as re-eyed humans was particularly impressive.

    Juniperfish @replies

    @bluesqueakpip Good thinking about a Scythra scavenger parallel to the Time Lords.

    If we put that together with the genetic mutation focus of the last two episodes, I think we might guess the answer is that the Time Lords scavenged genetics and then (dark, but great story) undertook genetic experiments on their kids, perhaps to make them “time sensitive”?

    Juniperfish @replies

    Well, it seems the Chibnall era is going to be remembered best for its historical episodes.

    I enjoyed this one.

    The Scythra (Skithra?) Queen was a gorgeous scorpion-alien, with all those talons and teeth and head protuberances. A little similar to the Empress of Racnoss, perhaps.

    Tesla’s story had that nice sense of time-travel poignancy to it, as Team TARDIS knew he’d have a bitter end, and only be recognised after his death.

    In reality, I’m not sure Tesla would have taken so readily to the Doctor though. He was, unfortunately, not a fan of the “New Woman”.

    The “Fam” looked good in their period costumes.

    I’d have to say it didn’t match Rosa or The Demons of the Punjab, because I think what made those two episodes stand out was the level of emotional investment the companions felt in what was happening.

    I enjoyed the Doctor’s fan glee at meeting Tesla. It shone a light, again, on the Doc’s peculiar fondness for Earth, as all Tesla’s tech was beyond primitive for a Time Lord, but she loves human ingenuity.

    This Doctor would actually benefit from having a science-nerd companion on the TARDIS who could geek out with her, I think.

    A little nod to the Gallifrey-in-ruins arc near the end, when the Scythra Queen asks if the Doc has ever seen a totally destroyed planet.

    Some beautiful cinematography, like that night-train under the moon.

    The Chibnall era is still not gripping me with delight, but I’ll take it.

    Juniperfish @replies

    I just realised, that Sacha Dhawan was also in Sherlock, in The Six Thatchers, as Ajay (one of Mary’s old assasin gang) as well as being in Dracula and now Doctor Who,

    In S4 of Sherlock, things were definitely not what they seemed, especially because of Culverton and his mind-wipe/ alteration drug TD-12.

    In Dracula Part 2, as I said before, things were not what they seemed either, as Van Helsing eventually realised, her chess game with Dracula was in her mind while he was eating her. Also Sacha Dhawan’s character was a doctor who had prepared a deadly drug for his daughter to take, rather than let her be eaten by Dracula.

    If Who was still being show-run by Moffat I’d say Sacha Dhawan’s casting as the Master in light of these other two scenarios should seriously lead us to consider whether things are not as they seem in S12 of Who.

    Could the Master have drugged the TARDIS or the Doctor in some way?

    But, as this is the Chibnall era, this may be a dead end. On the other hand…

    Juniperfish @replies

    @jimthefish I’m not massively keen on Gallifrey’s re-destruction personally. It all depends how it plays out, of course

    I’m not massively keen on it either. I LOVE Gallifreyan stories, but it feels a bit odd, after the long and wondrous arc of the Time War across Doctors Ecclestone to the War Doctor (and then Capaldi Doc’s search for the Gallifreyan pocket universe) to start a a new era with WhitDoc and then suddenly retread a major story from the previous era.

    Only this time, instead of all the long build up and mystery, it’s just wham! The Master has (apparently) single-handedly found the pocket universe with ease (which we saw Capaldi Doc magnificently struggle to access) and wiped everyone out with a flick of a wrist.

    That’s what @phaseshift and and I were saying on the Spyfall thread – why is Chibnall recycling so many past Who elements in S12?

    @bluesqueakpip had a good theory that it might be a plot-point and the Master was the one doing the recycling.

    Time will tell…

    However, I suspect that TPTB are making the mistake of listening to “hater” online fandom chatter too much. All that complaining about Moffat and his “over-complexity” and his arcs. So, when Chibnall takes over, we get an arc-less first season for Whit Doc. And lo and behold, fandom chatter hates on that too. So, now an arc re-tread is pulled out for S12!

    Of course, it’s not possible to totally ignore audience feedback, particularly as social media metrics are now part of the data that get shows renewed or cancelled.

    I am feeling a bit frustrated that (to my mind) WhitDoc is not getting to shine as much as she could, in the Chibnall era.

    I like each of her companions, but, I wonder, does she? Her connection to them seems a bit abstract.

    I keep thinking the grandfather/ grandson dynamic of Graham and Ryan is there for a reason (some parallel delving into the Doctor’s own familial past).

    Time will tell…

    I like your idea that the Master may be about to drive a wedge between the Doctor and Yaz, and I don’t think that would be a problem in terms of the racial politics of the show. The Master has been established as nefarious over many previous, caucasian, incarnations. And Yaz doesn’t have to go full Turlough. It could be a case of her feeling frustrated that the Doctor won’t open up emotionally about her past, and the Master worming his way into her confidences by telling a load of (tall) tales about the Doctor’s history.

    As for E-space, it’s also a pocket universe as I recall, and difficult to traverse to and from. The TARDIS only fell in there by accident.

    Juniperfish @replies

    @jimthefish Congrats Dr. Fish!

    @mudlark – I got the impression Lucy was self-medicating with (illegal) drugs and drink, so that enabled her to party “vivaciously” whilst being depressed inside. But, I am not a clinician, likewise.

    Either way, we can perhaps agree, she was “in love with death” because she was unhappy, on some deep level, with herself.

    Juniperfish @replies

    @craig you are indeed Emperor 🙂 And Tim Minchin is fab.

    @missrori @jimthefish

    Essentially, the whole of Nu Who, up until the “fix it” of The Name of the Doctor, has the Doctor as having committed genocide against his own people. In The Satan Pit, the Beast refers to Tennant Doc as “the killer of his own kind” and we eventually find out what that means.

    What I really loved was that this was a mystery, in the background (what exactly happened to Gallifrey and what was the Doctor’s role in it, including the emotional mystery of his deep grief and avoidance) which, very gradually came to light, until finally we met The War Doctor and realised the full horror of the Doctor’s actions.

    And yes, we can argue it never actually happened, in terms of the Doctor using The Moment, but I continue to believe that in one time-line, it did, and then in another, with the help of other incarnations and Clara, it was avoided.

    So, you can’t really get any morally darker than that – pressing that red button on the ultimate weapon, even though it was to stop a hideous, endless war raging across time.

    We also see the Nu Who Doctor take up arms (again, given he was on the front lines during the Time War) and go to war in A Good Man Goes to War.  Again, he’s in a pretty morally questionable state at that point – obviously he’s massively pissed off about Amy’s capture – and (and I remember we discussed this at the time) he’s complicit in the destruction of a cyber-ship.

    WhitDoc, by contrast, is the first regeneration to be truly “past” the Time War, because she begins her journey knowing Gallifrey is safe in its pocket universe (whereas Capaldi’s Doc still wasn’t sure if it had survived, and had to go looking for it). So, she appears, to me, at any rate, lighter, and able to be (like her costume, as I discussed last season) refracted light, a force for good, in the universe.

    Of course, now she is faced with a mirror of her Time War past – as her long-standing fremeny, The Master,  appears to be responsible for Gallifrey’s destruction, again.

    I do think Chibnall made a conscious decision that, as we see fascism resurge around the globe, WhitDoc would be actively anti- fascist, and I like that. I agree the “messages” are delivered through some overly emphatic dialogue sometimes, rather than being simply allowed to emerge from the stories. However, perhaps Chibnall’s view is that this is not the time for subtlety (which links to what you were saying @missrori), it’s a time to stand up and be counted.

    @badwolfalice asking some good timey-wimey questions, I see.

    I thought the Orphan 55 earth must be in a different time-line to The End of the World timeline (in which Ecclestone’s Doctor takes Rose to see the end of Earth on Platform 9). So, I assume the TARDIS can visit different time-lines, but not, without great difficulty, as previously established in Meglos, Full Circle and Warrior’s Gate, and in Nu Who in Doomsday, different universes.

    But the rules around time in Who are complicated, particularly as the Doctor so frequently tells us there are rules, and then breaks them!


    Juniperfish @replies

    P.S @jimthefish and @missrori I’d like to continue the discussions about the Doctor’s morality, as I think it’s a really interesting topic (and personally I don’t think WhitDoc is more morally dubious than previous Nu Who Docs) but this is a General Open Thread for TV shows other than Dr. Who so we need to take it somewhere else on the forum! Perhaps under the latest episode is as good as any?

    Juniperfish @replies

    @jimthefish <waves at old fishy comrade> I also loved the BBC’s Dicken’s adaptation. I thought it was beautifully shot – amazing use of light and shadow. Guy Pearce was excellent and it was great to see Vinette Robinson again (who played Rosa Parks in Rosa last season of Doctor Who).  Bringing some of the darker Victorian issues (around abuse) to light made for excellent characterisation of Scrooge, without letting him off the hook for his behaviour in any way.

    @peacefrog I too loved Dirk Gently – it was completely off the wall, and generally zanily great fun. Unfortuately, the BBC really had no choice but to drop it. Just Google “Max Landis” and “The Daily Beast” and you will see that the guy was about to become a major #MeToo PR liability, which the Beeb really couldn’t afford in terms of its excellent reputation for childrens’ programming. Of course, these were allegations, rather than a conviction, and as such the BBC did not publicise them, or publicly link its Dirk Gently termination decision to them in any way. I simply surmise…

    @miapatrick @phaseshift @jimthefish A Penny Dreadful re-watch sounds fun (I was disappointed with the ending, but overall thought it an excellent show). I can’t guarantee I’ll have time, but I’ll at least drop in.

    Juniperfish @replies

    @missrori I absolutely love Nausicaa and I totally agree – it wasn’t the Dregs’ fault that they were the way they were – a broken eco-system had resulted in their genetic mutation, so it’s a shame the Doctor couldn’t communicate with them more as a species.

    I agree with you @rob , it wasn’t clear what level of sentience they had. Were they “mindless” predators, or did they have some kind of intelligent social organisation? Presumably the former, or the Doctor would surely have tried speaking with them (they didn’t seem to possess language).

    This article is quite good @missrori (using some of the academic data on persuasion) on techniques for persuading errant relatives!

    If you have a loving family, that’s great, and important, and finding ways to tap into that love is better than falling out.

    Juniperfish @replies

    @spider Yes, the, “Bat’s aren’t real part” was definitely funny – I enjoyed that.

    @mudlark and @miapatrick – Perhaps it was a combo of nuclear and environmental catastrophe, as you say. The nuclear element might better explain the genetic mutation of humans into Dregs, which did, you’re right, somewhat resemble the Alien (also an apex predator).

    The Dregs were very scary, I can imagine, for kids, and it was particularly gruesome that poor old Benni begged to be killed after they’d got hold of him, presumably because they were playing with their food?

    I wondered if that marriage proposal of Benni’s, at the end of a long relationship, and then one of them dying shortly after, had unpleasant resonances for the Doctor, in terms of her loss of River (I am still holding out hope that we will get a River/ WhitDoc reunion, although I know River’s story was apparently “done”, as she’d reached Darillium).

    @mudlark – yes, the “Orphan” of the title has a number of resonances. Not least for the Doctor, who is now, as far as she knows, orphaned (again) in terms of not having most of the rest of her species alive and well on Gallifrey.

    I said, on T’Other Place (which is particularly grim today) that this seemed to be another “re-cycling” of earlier Nu Who, in that the Ecclestone Doctor takes Rose to The End of the World just after he has lost Gallifrey and is grieving its loss. I always thought that was fantastically dark of RTD, as essentially the Doctor takes a very young Earth woman to experience the shocking destruction of her planet, on her first trip in the TARDIS, almost so she can get a glimpse into the enormity of loss he is suffering. That was pretty morally grey (talking about grey Doctor morality, @jimthefish).

    Now we have WhitDoc ending up on Orphan 55, apparently “accidentally” (but maybe the TARDIS was responsible) on a ravaged Earth with her human companions, after just discovering Gallifrey has (apparently) been destroyed all over again.

    The re-cyling definitely has to mean something here, I think. It’s so apparent.

    It must be to set up a moral question, about the difference between the Doctor and the Master. Because, in The End of the World, the Ecclestone Doctor (we know now) believed he had destroyed Gallifrey, for the greater “good” – i.e. to ensure the end of the last great Time War – an incredibly morally grey decision, which led him (as we saw later) to repudiate the War Doctor regeneration as not worthy of the title “Doctor”.

    Now, the Master has (apparently) destroyed Gallifrey (or rather, the great citadel and, as far as we saw, all the people) because he also discovered something unconscionable about the Time Lords.

    So what makes the Doctor different from the Master?

    We know that the answer in The Day of the Doctor (and elsewhere in Nu Who) has been that his/her companions, have ensured the Doctor engages with compassion.

    I think, in giving that speech to Yaz and Graham and Ryan at the end, about how the future earth they’ve seen doesn’t have to be that way, must partly have been a pep-talk to herself. She has saved Gallifrey once before, so she can do it again. The image the Master showed her doesn’t have to be permanent. Time can be re-written.

    Juniperfish @replies

    Well, that was a kind of Planet of the Apes AU wasn’t it – only this time it’s environmental apocalypse rather than nuclear apocalypse which is (very much) on our minds.

    I quite liked the Doctor’s blunt speech about humanity needing to change, and it being up to us. I wish she’d completely broken the fourth wall and just looked straight to camera for the whole speech.

    I enjoyed the focus on Ryan, who got to go off on his own for some of the episode, as it gave us more time to breathe with him (as I mentioned wanting last week in relation to each companion). I do like Ryan’s character very much. He’s gentle, a bit out of his depth (as you would be, chucked into alien environments) but trying to feel his way through, with a good moral compass.

    Some elements present might be mirrors, if we are going to re-visit the Doctor’s relationship with her Gallifreyan family as part of the Timeless Child arc: the broken Mother-Daughter relationship (where the mother had abandoned her child, as far as the child was concerned) and the Green-haired Father-Son relationship (where the father wouldn’t listen to his child, until the very end).

    We know about Susan, but we don’t know about Susan’s parent (the Doctor’s child) and I continue to wonder if that mystery might unfold itself.

    I Googled “Orphan 55” to see if it meant anything, and there is an “orphan” cannabinoid receptor encoded in the GPR55 gene:

    Coupled with the genetic mutations, thanks to environmental apocalypse, of humans into the “Dregs”,  there seems to be a genetic alteration theme running through both Spyfall and Orphan 55, which makes me think that may be connected to the Time Lord arc. Perhaps the Time Lords’ did genetically engineer “time-sensitives” by experimenting on children.

    Juniperfish @replies

    @phaseshift Sounds like a good book 🙂

    I haven’t seen Moffat’s Jekyll and now feel compelled to get hold of it, as there’s obviously quite a trilogy going on there – Jekyll, Dracula and Sherlock. 

    Did you see Penny Dreadful (UK TV series for Showtime a few years ago)?  That was a really interesting mash-up of a number of Victorian gothic narratives, including Frankenstein and Dracula and Dorian Gray, and even Carmilla/ Countess Bathory (and a bit of De Sade). It had Eva Green in it (I love her) and Billie Piper, who is also phenomenal.

    That’s interesting, what you and @jimthefish were discussing in terms of consent. Donna’s fate was horrific, even though the Doctor did it to save her life.

    I suppose, in this most recent mind-wipe case, the Doctor knew Ada Lovelace had an important role to play in Earth history, and so perhaps she had to mind-wipe her to ensure she didn’t change time, in that respect.

    What you say about Lucy and consent is interesting. Lucy did consent to Dracula biting her, in this Moffat and Gatiss’ version, but she didn’t fully know what she was consenting to (being turned into Dracula’s “Bride”).

    I also reallly wondered why Dracula didn’t turn Van Helsing into his “Bride” on the Demeter. She was pretty fearless about death, and so surely, should have been an ideal “Bride” for him. Instead, he chose to just ingest her, carrying her with him to the new world in the blood. Was that a mark of respect? That he didn’t take away her automony by turning her into a “Bride”?

    Of course, that rather speaks to the deliberately ambigious ending, which I mentioned above. What if Van Helsing, having ingested Dracula’s blood, is not dying any longer, but being reborn as a vampire after all?

    Juniperfish @replies

    @mudlark I think Lucy was depicted as both self-absorbed, as you say, and depressed. She was obsessed with being “pretty” but she also recognised that people reacted to her superficially because of her looks, so her sense of self-worth was actually quite disturbed, which, sadly, led her to be attracted to death, as an escape.

    Really the poor treatment of Lucy and Mina in Moffat and Gatiss’ version made me envision a wholly different modern take, in which Lucy and Mina are modern members of a St. Trinians’ style school and absolutely wipe the floor with both Dracula and Van Helsing (a Schoolmaster)’s feeble attempts to counter the vampire. I have just watched What We Do in the Shadows though, so I have more comedic takes on the brain right now.

    @phaseshift That’s a good point about medieval Dracula in the “modern” (Victorian) world as far as the novel was concerned. I too enjoyed the shift to modernity in the third episode.

    Completely agree with you about the parallels with Sherlock.

    And indeed for BBC Sherlock fans, there were a number of Sherlock “clues” in Dracula. For example, Dracula and Van Helsing play chess on board the Demeter (and if you listen you can hear a few bars of the Sherlock theme as they first do so). Dracula refers to Van Helsing as being on the “losing side”. That is what Sherlock says to Irene Adler, in Moffat and Gatiss’ version, when he bests her by guessing she’d used his name as her phone password; “Sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side.” Van Helsing actually wins the metaphorical chess game between herself and Dracula, eventually, precisely because he succumbs to sentiment – he cares for her.

    Additionally, the chess game on the Demeter actually takes place in Van Helsing’s mind, while Dracula is feeding off her in cabin No 9.  The promo pictures for Sherlock S4 were a chess game between Sherlock and Mycroft, with Watson looking on. So, for those (like me) convinced that Sherlock S4 took place, at least partly, in John’s mind whilst he was lying in a coma after being shot by Mary (just as The Abominable Bride took place in Sherlock’s drugged mind) this could be read as an inter-textual clue supporting that reading. Agatha Van Helsing (a Sherlock avatar) is in a dream-world and she has to figure out what’s real and what’s not, just as Sherlock, and Sherlock fans, had to in The Abominable Bride.

    I’m sure there are other Sherlock Easter-eggs in Dracula, but I’d need a re-watch to ferret out more!

    Juniperfish @replies

    @craig Thanks – and yes it was my fault – I was trying to copy and paste too much Wikipedia about DNA separating techniques!

    @claire54 My overall take is, now that we have a female doctor, the writers don’t know what to do with her.

    Yes, unfortunately I do not think Chibnall has been equal to the task.

    Elements which I’ve found jarring in the writing of her, is that WhitDoc is not only the first female Doctor, but she is the first Doctor in Nu Who to be depicted (at least so far) as completely uninterested in flirting. Now, of course, that was par for the course (mostly) in BG Who, so it’s not a characteristic of the Doctor I find difficult per se.

    But, making the first female Doctor devoid of desire (apparently) when all her Nu Who predecessors have had a twinkle in their eye, seems to speak to an anxiety about/ inability to write that twinkle in female form.  I think it’s a cop out and it disappoints me. We’ve been given a (surface) heterosexual Doctor in Nu Who, through the Doctor’s relationships with Rose and River, plus his flirtations with Madame du Pompadour, Amy and Clara, and then all the interesting questions about Gallifreyan sexuality posed by our new understanding (since The Doctor’s Wife and the Corsair) of regeneration as gender-fluid, have been side-stepped by making WhitDoc apparently asexual (not that there is anything wrong with asexuality – it’s the writers’ cop-out I object to).

    Another element where I feel WhitDoc has not been well served, is in terms of the way elements of this Doctor’s personality have been written.  The Doctor is, let’s face it, usually an arrogant sod, charmingly arrogant, to be sure. WhitDoc isn’t. Again, I don’t have a problem with a less arrogant incarnation, per se, but making the least arrogant version the first female version, speaks to a “gender burden” I feel is being imposed by Chibnall, which feels very earth-bound, rather than Gallifreyan, to me.

    Give me a flirty, piratical, arrogant swashbuckling female Doctor. I don’t want the Doc to be nicer, just because she is in a female incarnation.

    However, as @nerys  says – we feel what we feel, and each to their own. We all have our subjective reactions to different Doctors. I will always remember trying to convince @htpbdet (now sadly no longer with us) to add an “S” to the end of his acronym for SmithDoc, but he never would, because that incarnation just didn’t do it for him.

    And I know @bluesqueakpip never felt comfortable with the CapaldiDoc.

    So it goes.

    I actually do love many elements of WhitDoc – I love her scientific bent, her absolute ability to rig up some bit of  impressive tech from rusty old junkyards and spare parts (which reminds me in particular of Pertwee’s Doctor). I like her moral clarity (her anti-fascism). So, as I said further up the thread, it’s not an actor problem for me here, it’s a writer problem.

    @vervain I like your thoughts about the Untempered Schism, and I certainly think that whatever the Master has learned about the Timeless Child and the origins of the Time Lords seems to have re-triggered his trauma and psychosis, which we learned during the Simm Master era was attributable to his experience when he was forced to look into the Schism as a child.

    In that sense, the mystery may fit with @bluesqueakpip ‘s thoughts on The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas. What if the Time Lords sacrificed or experimented on an original child (or children) in some horrific way, in order to develop the child-looking-into-the-Untempered-Schism ritual of Time Lord initiation (which is pretty horrific in itself)?

    Juniperfish @replies

    @lisa and @bluesqueakpip

    Ahhhh – thanks re the fish!

    I just Googled “CO fish” (combining “C” and “O” code-names) and found this on Wikipedia

    <b>”Fluorescence <i>in situ</i> hybridization </b>(<b>FISH</b>) is a molecular cytogenetic technique that uses fluorescent probes that bind to only those parts of a nucleic acid sequence with a high degree of sequence complementarity. It was developed by biomedical researchers in the early 1980s<sup id=”cite_ref-1″ class=”reference”>[1]</sup> to detect and localize the presence or absence of specific DNA sequences on chromosomes.
    <h3><span id=”CO-FISH_(chromosome_orientation-FISH)” class=”mw-headline”>CO-FISH (chromosome orientation-FISH)</span></h3>
    Another adaptation that utilizes PNAs and FISH is known as CO-FISH (Chromosome Orientation-FISH) which allows for the labelling of chromosomes with PNAs in a strand specific manner. This method involves the selective removal of newly replicated strands of DNA (through the use of BrdU incorporation), resulting in only single stranded target DNA. By using different colored unidirectional PNA probes, it becomes possible to uniquely label sister chromatids.”


    So maybe there is a DNA “joke” going on here on the Master’s part.

    @bluesqueakpip re The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas – I read that story when I was quite young and still remember the chills it gave me. She remains one of my favourite writers.

    Yes, eugenics is the other side of the fascist extermination of the “unfit”, of course, so some kind of Time Lord eugenics programme would be fascinating.

    The Time Lords have already been depicted as highly hierarchical, and we’ve never learned why “ordinary Gallifreyeans” lived outside the city-dome whilst all the Time Lords lived inside. Is there more to going to the Time Lord academy than acing your grades? A “time sensitivity” breeding programme?

    I haven’t read Eatwell and Goodwin, but it looks interesting so I will add it to my list.

    @mudlark I agree, I don’t think the “Timeless Child” will turn out to be the Master and the Doctor’s child – this does seem like a Time Lord origin story.

    But that doesn’t mean the Doctor’s own children won’t come into the storyline, particularly if they are “hybrid” (part human, through River) and might be considered “impure” by a Time Lord eugenics programme.



    Juniperfish @replies

    OK I’ll have to try and say this in a different way!

    @lisa and @bluesqueakpip

    Many thanks re the fish!

    I just Googled “CO fish” (combining “C” and “O” code-names) and found this on Wikipedia


    Perhaps there is a DNA “joke” going on here on the Master’s part.


    The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas – I read Le Guin’s story when I was young and still remember how much it affected me. She is one of my favourite writers.

    Some kind of Time Lord eugenics programme would be fascinating.

    It’s always been a very hierarchical society. Perhaps there is more to getting into the Time Lord academy than acing your grades? A breeding programme for “time sensitivites”?

    I will add Eatwell and Goodwin to my reading list

    @mudlark This does seem like a Time Lord origin story and the child is at the heart of that.

    But that doesn’t mean the Doctor’s own children won’t come into the storyline. Perhaps they are “hybrid” (part human) and would be considered “impure” by a Time Lord eugenics programme.


    Juniperfish @replies

    @craig I’m having trouble posting as the website thinks I’ve ghost-posted already?!

    Juniperfish @replies

    @miapatrick  I felt as though the 7% not human DNA was a big part of Barton’s coldness here.

    Yes, true. But there was a bit of an odd discrepancy there, as Barton seemed fully intellectually functioning with his 7% alien DNA (if not morally) but others “infected” with the alien DNA became simply “shells” and “memory sticks”, like his poor old Mum. His grudge against his Mum seemed life-long, so I don’t think we can blame the aliens for that!

    @missrori Frankly, this episode is coming off as rather bitterly timed.  A lot of people here in the U.S. are wondering if we’re heading towards WWIII, Australia’s burning down, and there’s nothing left for good people to do.  Sorry Doctor.  Darkness Always Wins.

    It feels like that here too in the UK (at least for some of us). I have been following scholars of fascism who are making some very clear parallels (Jason Stanley in particular is good on this). So, in that sense, a recycled return to WW2 (again) actually makes sense. I’d have preferred the entire episode to be set there, in that case, to give the parallels time to breathe, particularly more of Noor Inayat Khan’s story.

    The strength of Chibnall’s Who, despite its several flaws, in my view, has been its clear insistence that the Doctor is anti-fascist, hence why Rosa and Demons of the Punjab were such stand-outs.

    S/he has always been anti-fascist. The entire War Doctor story – the decision to destroy Gallifrey, to stop an endless war, was so horrifyingly anti-Doctor, which is why the Doctor initially refused to acknowledge the War Doctor as a legitimate regeneration.

    Your comment has actually talked me into the Master’s (recycled) destruction of Gallifrey (or apparent destruction).

    What is the difference between the Master and the Doctor? Both destroyed Gallifrey (in one timeline). We’ve just been told the Master is happy to masquerade as the “master-race” on Earth, and we’ve just had a story about alien DNA… So whatever the Timeless Child story is, it might be about racial “purity” (and what BS that is).

    @lisa and @bluesqueakpip

    What fish picture? How could I miss a fish picture?!?!?!

    You know, all this talk about The Timeless Child, and children, makes we wonder whether the Master and the Doctor had a child together, somewhere deep in their history. We do know the Doctor had at least one child, because of Susan (granddaughter). Wouldn’t that be a kicker? On the other hand, in view of the DNA and racial “purity” (as BS) themes – perhaps we will find out that Susan was the child of the Doctor and River’s child, by means of timey-wimeyness, in which case part-human.


    Re your feelings about S11. I’ve wanted to see a female Doctor for so long, so I’ve been struggling with the fact that I just don’t think Chibnall is as good a writer or showrunner as RTD or Moffat. At least to my mind, WhitDoc hasn’t been as well served as she should have been.

    However, I like @bluesqueakpip ‘s theory that all the “recycling” we both found annoying in Spyfall is part of a larger point, perhaps about the Master’s inability to let go of the past.

    It’s certainly good to see more bonkers theorising on here already than we squeezed out of last season.

    Juniperfish @replies

    @spider haha I loved your dalek riff.

    @craig and @mudlark – dammit, now I fancy a G n T too!

    Well, Spyfall was a romp I grant you, and I wish I didn’t feel this way, but it left me kind of cold, sadly.

    I felt Chibnall chucked the kitchen sink at it, from cameo Stephen Fry, to new Master, but that I couldn’t find the emotional beats, the pulse of the story.

    I could have enjoyed a whole episode just of the Doctor meeting Ada Lovelace, or a whole episode learning about why the difficult relationship between Daniel Barton and his Mum led him towards collaborating with aliens to commit planetary-wide genocide (!), or a whole episode of the Master as a Nazi (not a camp Nazi – if we’re going to do the Nazis, let’s see the true horror), or a whole episode of Graham, Yaz and Ryan on a mission to find out more about the Doctor, and sneakily exploring the recesses of the TARDIS, then getting lost and into trouble (from the wardrobe to a booby trapped laboratory).

    Instead, I felt out of breath, but flat.

    The elements also felt very recycled – once again WW2 and the Victorian period. Once again the destruction of Gallifrey. After the amazing The Day of the Doctor and Hell Bent/ Heaven Sent Gallifrey-focussed episodes, the Master’s out of the blue swift destruction of the Time Lord home-world in its bubble universe (which??? should have been really difficult to get to???) just didn’t have the same kind of emotional resonance.

    However, I’ll admit it does set up an intriguing arc, promising to delve deeper into Time Lord origins – and I am grateful for an arc.

    And I did love Ada Lovelace. I am just disappointed the Doctor didn’t flirt with her, having grown used, I suppose to flirty Doctors.

    I hate to say it, but Chibnall isn’t really doing it for me a writer on his own show, and I wish he’d write fewer episodes himself. The stand-out episodes for me last season were Rosa and Demons of the Punjab.

    I am fond of WhitDoc, but she seems remote, and I do think that’s a problem with the writing, not with her.

    Maybe it’s me.

    I would like some more Doc one-on-one companion time – so she can have some more intimate conversations/ experiences with Graham, Yaz and Ryan separately. Which they can then gossip about as a trio later.

    Juniperfish @replies

    Also on the subject of Dracula, I should add, that in some vampire lore, since Bram Stoker, vampire blood has supernatural properties, including as a curative for injuries.

    So, it’s possible that Agatha/ Zoe was, in fact, regenerating from her cancer, thanks to drinking Dracula’s blood.

    In which case, Dracula would not die from feeding on her.

    So, there remains the possibility that both survived that final encounter (and both knew they would).

    In that case “the game” (another Sherlock reference) is not, as Agatha/Zoe said “over”.

    Juniperfish @replies

    @pedant @fatmaninabox @miapatrick

    Oh good, we are discussing Moffat and Gatiss’ Dracula!

    I said this on T’Other Place, after seeing Part 3:

    “I think it played with the source material quite beautifully (“bloofer lady”) and found a way to incarnate the Victorian gothic themes of sublimated carnality, purity, corruption and death into the contemporary world.

    This Dracula is a creature of mesmerising seduction, but he is, in fact, always seducing himself, searching for “brides” who seem not to fear death (which he personifies, in the midst of his rotting eternal life) and forever coming up short.

    And Agatha Van Helsing, his counter-part, his match, is a nun, a woman who has sworn vows of anti-seduction (celibacy).

    But she does seduce Dracula, and she does it with her mind, through her own fearlessness, because she is so open about her doubt in the reality of God and salvation, yet she is bravely ready to meet her death anyway (twice).

    I loved the final tableau of Death and the Maiden, only it is the maiden who seizes hold of death, even across time, and in the end wrests the Count into the loving arms of the finite.

    I think Moffat and Gatiss definitely had some fun, in terms of thematic cross-overs with their Who and Sherlock, quite apart from the evident cross-over casting.

    The time travel element was there – Agatha “re-incarnated” in her descendant Zoe and then inhabited by her spirit (via blood transference) and so was the duelling “frenemy” dynamic of the Master vs The Doctor and Sherlock vs Moriarty, echoed again here in Dracula vs Agatha.

    I suppose we could say that all three productions (in Moffat/ Gatiss’ hands) share the sentiment that real seduction happens in the mind.”

    I’ll add that I enjoyed many of the comedic notes – Dracula sending a vampire emoji was 🙂 As were some of Drac’s hammy lines in Part 1 – “I don’t drink… wine.”

    But I was disappointed by the treatment of Mina and Lucy – Mina as, essentially, a blonde screamer (although yes, we learned she founded the Harker Institute off-screen) and Lucy as a vapid and depressed over-selfie-taker. The actress for Lucy, Lydia West, was great, but I guess I am tired of older generation takes on “selfie culture”, particularly female selfie-culture, when really it is no different from the line in overly flattering portraiture the aristocracy indulged in for hundreds of years.  Besides which, John Berger put it best, when he said (in Ways of Seeing): “you painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting ‘vanity’, thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for your own pleasure.” There are particular cultural pressures bearing down on young women in relation to the “prettiness” Lucy so values and loathes about herself, and morally condeming young women for participating in selfie-culture is a shallow take on those pressures.

    Mina, in particular, in the novel, is a fascinating character, because she is infected (half-vamped) but she actively fights Dracula and she survives. Moffat and Gatiss kind of amalgamated Mina and Van Helsing into their Agatha.

    It’s true, you can’t do everything in a 3 part rendition of quite a long novel, and I really did enjoy the fan-fiction gap in-fill of Part 2 (which fleshed out the voyage of the Demeter) and the contemporary setting of Part 3. Agatha Van Helsing was inspired writing and acting, and OK, they went for a double act, a duel between Dracula and Van Helsing, which definitely worked.

    Juniperfish @replies

    Waves Happy New Year at everyone – lest auld acquaintance be forgot etc 🙂

    Good to finally have some new Who to muse upon!

    I love the idea that “O” is the incarnation between Simm and Missy. Certainly would explain why “O” is in a snit.

    I’ve been wondering about the significance of Barton’s search-engine VOR. VOR is (apparently) I discovered after a Google, a form of short-wave radio navigation, involving morse code, used by planes:

    So I’m sure this sciency Doctor will figure out a way to connect the crashing plane and VOR to save them, and I’m sure “O” knew she would too.

    There’s also (not an interpretation for the kids) VORE which is short for vorarephilia which is a paraphilia about being consumed by, often, weird alien creatures (in the realms of t’interwebs). But psychologically, it can be understood as a desire to merge with another, and that’s always seemed to be the Master’s dynamic with the Doctor – a desire to kill/ consume/ merge/ connect.

    Juniperfish @replies


    The question is whether this highly automated world is going to be like the Industrial Revolution – temporary disruption that eventually ended up in a much higher standard of living for everyone – or a permanent state of mass unemployment.

    Well, that’s the thing I didn’t like so much about this episode. Nice-ish middle-management, historically, are not the engine of betterment.

    The Industrial Revolution only resulted eventually in “a much higher standard of living for everyone” (although that hasn’t been an unabated trajectory) because workers and campaigners (and occasional civic-minded industrialists like the Quaker-owners of Cadburys etc. who built model homes and schools for their workers) fought tooth and nail to end 18 hour work days, to end child-labour, to improve industrial safety, to implement anti-pollution laws etc., like the famous Match Girls strike of 1888.

    Before those long battles, the movement from agricultural to industrial life for ordinary people resulted in some drastic health and mortality and exploitation casualties.

    I agree the episode played an interesting game, by over-turning set expectations, and it probably did so in order to spark this sort of discussion.

    Politically, for me, this one pulled its punches in a way Rosa and Demons in the Punjab did not.

    Juniperfish @replies

    Well, a satire on Amazon can’t be bad, although their inner workings hardly need satirizing, they are so dystopian all on their own.

    Charlie was essentially a Luddite and I can’t help but have a lot of sympathy with the Luddites, who didn’t wish their traditional crafts and skills to be undermined in the labour market by industrial machine innovation.

    Luddites were proto-trades unionists and, in response to the harsh transformations of the Industrial Revolution, many of them were militant, not only smashing machinery but also organising as a fighting force and sometimes sending death threats (to magistrates, apparently).

    Charlie was also cast as a terrorist, as he was prepared to murder innocent customers in order to destroy Kerblam’s reputation. Personally, I would have preferred it if McTighe hadn’t gone down that route. I likewise found it too glib a resolution that “nice after all” middle management (yeah when is that ever true) would somehow go away and create an “organics” centered company after all, just like that, profit margins of the invisible owner-capitalists (including the mysterious “First Lady”?) be damned.

    Nonethless, I like the fact that McTighe set up the conditions for a good discussion. Because there’s little doubt that a world of work like Kerblam! is coming, with waves unemployment in the face of robotic automation. From driverless cars to automated shelf pickers in pharmacies and food warehouses, these changes are already rolling out.

    The reality of death is everywhere in WhitDoc’s tenure, as sweet-natured Kira is turned to goo by Charlie’s deadly bubble-wrap bomb. This is a deliberate Chibnall choice and a little poke, in a friendly way no doubt, at Moffat, who rather famously couldn’t let death be the end.

    I really love the fact that WhitDoc uses Venusian Aikido – it’s lovely to have that connection to Pertwee.

    Also, the Fez was intriguing – a nice nod to Smith’s Doctor, but also a poignant object of remembrance.

    Together these form a reminder that the Doctor is a very complex being, with many lives behind her.

    Yaz is shaping up to be a very wise companion. She doesn’t ask to go back in time and save the Kerblam! worker who saved her (she has learned, and learned well, about not messing with time-lines) but her kind-hearted request that they take his necklace keepsake to his daughter moves the Doctor and they have a nice moment of harmonious sympathy.  Amongst the “shipping” crowd, Yaz/WhitDoc is taking off quite nicely.

    @pedant “Once again, the obvious baddie is not the baddie….”

    Yes there does seem to be a theme developing. It is, I think, also about not being a bystander, even if you are a cog caught in a machine – it’s about standing up and trying to do something (as it turns out middle-management dude was doing, secretly investigating the worker disappearances).

    Juniperfish @replies

    @nerys and @bluesqueakpip

    On the subject of Yaz not looking back…

    That sense of wanting the Doctor and Yaz to look back, wanting them indeed, to rush and save Prem, is created there deliberately (furthered by the fact they don’t, indeed, look back).

    It echoes the moment on the bus in Rosa when, in particular mirrored for us through the eyes of Graham, we are encouraged by the story structure to want desperately for the Doctor and companions to be able to help Rosa and to feel gutted that they can’t.

    It’s a really great piece of continuity narrative build, from Rosa to Demons of the Punjab, and we’ll have to see if it’s going somewhere in particular, but it’s creating a negative space in the narrative arc screaming, “We MUST DO something to stand up to bigotry!!!” which, as I’ve said upstream, Chibnall and team are thereby inviting us to apply in our own time.


    Juniperfish @replies

    Well, like @bluesqueakpip and @sontaran2589 I loved that.

    Vinay Patel did an amazing job as the script-writer here.

    And the music was wonderful, with all its Indian melodies and notes.

    I loved the Vajarians. I mean, look at them withe their tusks and pointy ears and fabulous rows of eyes:

    And of course, they weren’t the demons of the Punjab at all, but ex-assassins who had become religious guardians of lonely deaths throughout the universe, after the sad destruction of their own planet (perhaps another eddy of the Time War?).

    They might be modelled on the Rakasha, who in Hinduism, are a sort of demon-class of warrior beings (not necessarily “evil” though) with long finger nails and illusionist powers.

    The actual demons of partition were, of course, people, fuelled by sectarianism and the legacies of British colonialism. This seems to be a central theme in Chibnall’s Who. The “real” monsters have been human in Arachnids in the UK, Rosa and now in this episode, when they have followed paths of intolerance and chosen a desecration of the ethic of care (for one another, for the planet/s).

    I like Chibnall’s vision for this Doctor – that we are living in dark times and so the Doctor has GOT to be a light shining in the universe. Her speech about love, officiating at Prem and Umbreen’s bitter-sweet union, was in that vein:

    “Something I believe in – my faith – love – in all its forms – is the most powerful weapon we have, because love is a form of hope, and like hope, love abides in the face of everything….”

    Of course Demons in the Punjab was perfect for Remembrance Day, not only because the Vajarians are “remembrance demons” but because WW1 was a global war.

    There have been a number of debates in the British media-sphere in the past few days, some pointing out the horrid appropriation of “patriotism” to white nationalism by the Tommy Robinson crew, when, for example, one million Indian soldiers died in WW1 fighting on the Allied side.

    We have to ask, are the lights going out on dreams of unity everywhere, right now?

    If any of you saw Macron’s Remembrance Day speech today, a deliberate rebuke to Trump and ethno-nationalisms on the rise in Europe, about nationalism being the opposite of patriotism, you could see history weighing heavy on his shoulders. Where are we heading and what should we do?

    The message I am getting, loud and clear, from this Doctor, is that whilst you can’t always interfere the way you would like to in historical time-lines, in your own time, you can stand up, like Rosa did, like Prem and Umbreen did.



    Juniperfish @replies

    @bluesqueakpip – Ohhh nice on the meaning of Tsuranga – so that means the title of the episode could be understood to be “The Salvation Connundrum” which makes perfect sense, given the pre-programmed self destruct in the hospital ship in what must, surely, be a war-zone, as we have a sonic mine, a General and a hospital ship combined….

    For those of you torturing me with the Doctor’s red/blue rainbow stripe T-shirts, this is the pattern (or rather, lack of it) so far:

    Blue – The Woman Who Fell to Earth ( Relative Present)

    Blue – The Ghost Monument (Relative Future)

    Red/Maroon – Rosa (Relative Past)

    Blue – Arachnids in the UK (BUT changes to red/maroon in the last scene back in the TARDIS) (Relative Present)

    Red/Maroon – The Tsuranga Conundrum (Relative Future)

    Thank you i-player fast forward!


    Juniperfish @replies

    Oh, and @mudlark – it was really difficult to tell the colour of the Doctor’s T-shirt this week, because of the lighting, but I think it was her reddish maroon one as opposed to her blue one.

    That means any plotting of red for past (relative to the Doctor’s companions) and blue for future, with reference to cosmological red-shift, is out the window, as I’d have expected a blue T-shirt this week in that case.

    There could be another “code” at work, such as blue for places/times the Doctor has never been before (like Desolation in The Ghost Monument) and red/maroon for places/times she has. She had been to the 67th century before (the time in which this episode was set) because she chit-chats with the General about it.

    It’s a blue T-shirt at the end of The Woman Who Fell to Earth, which she acquires in the charity shop, but when Team TARDIS lands in the same time/place (Sheffield, Earth) for Arachnids in the UK, it’s her red/maroon one. So this might work. Dammit! I will have to keep a list – you have all (and I blame you @pedant) sucked me in again 🙂

    Juniperfish @replies

    @pedant “So Pting has proved spectacularly popular on Twitter. Watch out for the cuddly energy-sucking toy coming to a Christmas stocking near you.”

    Yes, I’ve seen lots of positive comments about the Chibnall era more generally on Tumblr too. And Tumblr tended to be a space with a sizable audience which absolutely loathed Moffat’s Who (largely because of the way he wrote women).

    Both us here @craig ‘s place and the basket of deplorables over on The Graun (not everyone of course, but egads there is a culture of entitled whingeing BTL on Dan Martin’s reacps which it is truly quite difficult to wade through) have to recognise that we are not the primary target audience for Doctor Who – kids and young people are.

    I saw a really cute picture of a birthday cake on Twitter (can’t find it now or I’d link the pic) someone had made for their two delighted little boys, of the Stenza assassin’s face from The Woman Who Fell to Earth (a blue cake with loads of white chocolate bits to represent the teeth stuck on it) so, if the Chibnall era monsters are resonating with them, that’s the way it should be.

    I remember when the farting Slitheen caused a stir back in RTD’s day with lots of pearl-clutching about the childish tone. I wasn’t that keen on the Slitheen myself, but again, the kids are Who’s future, so…

    I am very much enjoying the rather melancholic luminosity Whittaker brings to the Doctor, even though I really do miss the timey-wimey pzazz of Moffat. I think that Chibnall’s vision of the Doctor as refracted light in the universe which I mentioned was reflected in Whittaker’s rainbow T-shirt costume, was confirmed by the words of the requiem litany for the General this week, which WhitDoc recited with real feeling (and which I quoted on Dan’s blog) as the camera panned to a close-up on her face:

    “May the saints of all the stars and constellations bring you hope, as they guide you out of the dark and into the light, on this voyage and the next, and all the journeys still to come, for now and evermore….”

    I think the WhitDoc probably feels that she herself has come out of a period of great darkness (the Time War and its long aftermath) and that she is now, in this new incarnation, finally in the light once more, and back to her pre-Time War, rather wandering credo, to be a Doctor most of all, of “hope” (as she says).


    Juniperfish @replies


    Yes, I like the idea of the P’Ting as an escaped bio-weapon.

    Clearly the hospital ship and the General meant the Doctor and friends had arrived in some kind of a war-zone, that and the sonic mine. Not to mention the alarming fact that the ship was programmed to transmit a signal to base concering the P’Ting breach which would have resulted in automatic ship-detonation, life forms on board be damned (and which the Doctor therefore had to find a fix for).

    I particularly liked the intriguing exchange between the Doctor and General Cicero when it turns out the Doctor has crossed paths with her history before, and has indeed a “whole volume” dedicated to her exploits. I wondered if it could have been an old eddy of the Time War and that was why the Doctor recited the words for the dead so movingly alongside the others at the end.

    Plus, I forgot to say above, that naming the baby Avocado Pear was funny. It made me think of Deadpool 1 (which luckily none of the 9 year olds watching will have seen) –  you’ll know the line if you’ve seen the movie.

    Juniperfish @replies

    Well Graham and Ryan’s dynamic continues to be the emotional heart of the narrative.

    Their interactions at the birth were lovely, nuanced, funny. And we explored Ryan’s feelings of paternal abandonment, and grief at losing his mother so young as a result. So yay for added companion character depth.

    This is still leaving Yaz as a bit of a third wheel though.

    It was great to meet a humanoid species in which the males as well as the females give birth. That fits in nicely with our now expanded understanding of a gender diverse Whoniverse, in which Time Lords are a gender-fluid species. For all we know the Doctor may have given birth to Susan’s parent.

    Being introduced to the admirable General Cicero, whose faithful android servant nevertheless seemed to belong to a class of second class beings without full rights, was left there for us to ponder on, particularly as there have been so many series about android rights recently from Humans to Westworld. This android seemed to imply he would simply be “de-commissioned” i.e. boxed or destroyed after the General’s death.

    And this social blindness to injustice may be part of the developing theme of such in Season 11?  We see it in the horrid war games of Desolation in Ghost Monument, the racist segregation of the Deep South of 1950s USA in Rosa, the capitalist greed and environment-trashing of Jack Robertson (cough Trump) in Arachnids in the UK, and now here on this advanced medical transport ship which nevertheless thinks it’s OK to “decommission” a life-form after the death of his “owner”.

    Meanwhile, what is up with the Doc? The General’s own disease, “pilot’s heart” seems deliberately to have some resonance for the Doctor.  Her exo-spleen is giving her considerable trouble. Why was she the most affected by the sonic mine? Moreover, why does she keep losing the TARDIS?

    I really liked WhitDoc’s insistence on participating in the wake for the General, and saying the words of the litany/ prayer for loss at the end. This Doctor is ready to be present for grief in a way her recent previous incarnations have struggled to confront.

    Having said that, the wee energy-sucking PTing, which was a sort of space locust really, except not travelling in a swarm, was, frankly rather dull.  A sort of space Gremlin, only not nearly as much fun as the Gremlins! I do think Chibnall keeps missing tricks. C’mon, one Gremlin joke?!

    And frankly, I don’t think he should be hogging writing so many of the episodes himself.

    Whittaker’s performance is definitely mesmerising, but the writing is, I would say, uneven. Chibnall is great at some of the emotional relationships stuff but a bit less great at the aliens, so far.

    Juniperfish @replies

    I really enjoyed the exchange between Yaz and the Doctor when Yaz’s Mum asked: “Are you two seeing each other?”

    The Doctor: “I don’t think so…. Are we?”

    Yaz: <frowning at her Mum’s question> “We’re friends!”

    Doctor <giving a silent “Oh, OK then!” look, of general agreeable cluelessness, in the background>

    I love it both for leaving the new Doctor’s sexuality fluid (as befits a gender-fluid alien) and for the character continuity with previous Nu Who Doctors, who have often been quite awkward and unclear about human rules for intimacy.

    Never forget SmithDoc bursting out of the paper cake at Rory’s stag do in The Vampires of Venice, only to announce that Amy had tried to kiss him, but not to worry, she was a “great kisser” – awks!!

    @mrswho As was the wedging in of the inclusive lesbian character at the beginning. I mean, have lesbians! Just mention it in passing if it needs to be mentioned, not to score points for inclusiveness.

    It was just mentioned in passing, that Mr Robertson’s employee was “family” because she was married to his niece. That was it.

    That’s one of the consistent, and for my money, amazing (thanks RTD who started it all) threads running through Nu Who – LGBT people and aliens exist, and there they are, just part of the everyday fabric of reality. Remember the Cassinis (married couple) in Gridlocked?


    Just like that. It’s not “scoring points”, it’s representing the universe as it is – as Mr. Spock would say, “infinite diversity in infinite combinations”.

    Juniperfish @replies

    @bluesqueakpip I am now completely sold on the Whittaker Doctor.

    Yes, me too, I love her.

    And you’re right there were some decent comedy-horror moments.

    The bit that made me laugh was all the spiders legging it double-quick towards the Stormzy track Ryan was blasting out. How did he know they were going to love Grime?!

    I really wanted Jack Robertson to get his spidery comeuppance, and like you @jimthefish, felt quite unsatisfied that he didn’t. But, following on from Rosa, with its call to us all to stand up and not be bystanders, I guess the fact the Doctor didn’t fix everything – not environmental pollution, not gun-toting shark-businessmen who would be President, is the point.

    We can’t wait for the Doctor, or anyone else, to fix earth’s problems. We have to do it ourselves. A rather sombre message, for sombre times.

    Juniperfish @replies

    @craig – ahh that’s a cracking good story, Planet of the Spiders, Metebelis III and the blue crystals etc.

    Giant spiders have also featured rather marvellously in Tolkein, especially the menacing Shelob we all know and love, and then there’s Aragog the flesh-eater in Harry Potter.

    Arachnids in the UK (apart from the Sex Pistols title) didn’t really zing for me, as a script. Some Harry Potter or Tolkein jokes or mentions would have helped, as would the Doctor at least clearly checking to see if the spiders were aliens.

    The greedy, trigger-happy, polluting American businessman/ Trump stand-in was suitably loathsome, but the fact that the villain was yet again a selfish scumbag human, just like Krastos last week (if we assume Krastos’ was of Earth-origin) could have been leveraged a little more.

    I’d have liked a furious speech from the Doctor about the environment and keeping the planet in balance. I mean, if you’re going to go with an environmental pollution story, then fully leverage it, given the urgency of the times?

    A speech to the dying spider mother would have worked too. If the Doctor can speak “baby” I don’t see why she can’t speak “giant spider”.

    Obviously, the “real” narrative was about the companions feeling disconnected from their old lives in Sheffield on their return: Yaz not normally bringing friends home and getting ribbed by her rather mean sister; Ryan getting a letter from his Dad and feeling affronted by it (for inviting him to live with him, after not being at his Nan’s funeral) and Graham finding it deeply upsetting to be amongst all Grace’s things now that she’s gone. The Doctor’s own loneliness, evidenced by her ready eagerness to be invited to Yaz’s for tea, formed the other half of the magnetic pull of “Team TARDIS” back towards one another.

    The Doctor was back in a blue T-shirt. So now we’ll have to wait for another “back in the past” (relative to the companions’ present) story to see if a red shirt accompanies that and we can starting mark blue for present and future and red for past as “a thing” in costume deliberations.



    Juniperfish @replies

    @blenkinsopthebrave Sorry you are having to wait, friend, to watch along. I can recommend VPN . A reputable one is ExpressVPN but you do have to pay a monthly fee. You can cancel anytime though, so you could just have it for Doctor Who’s run.

    @anduril @pedant @cathannabel

    I’ve had a look at the Doctor’s T-shirt and she was wearing a blue one in The Ghost Monument like so:

    and a red (maroon) one throughout Rosa like so:

    Well spotted @anduril ! (I didn’t notice a change in-episode – although the lighting of the set makes it hard to see the colour sometimes especially during interior TARDIS shots).

    As The Ghost Monument was in the future (relative to the Doctor’s current companions) and Rosa was in the past (relative to the Doctor’s current companions) we could revive the red shift/ blue shift theory (which comes from the phenomenon of cosmological redshift used by astronomers to estimate the age of stars) see:

    Frontier Fields Q&A: Redshift and Looking Back in Time

    Red for (relative) past and blue for (relative) future. I will keep an eye on her T-shirt colours!

    Having a closer look at WhitDoc’s costume made me notice the lovely rainbow piping she also has on her coat.  I am SO in love (as I may have mentioned once or twice already) with the rainbow theme for WhitDoc, both for gender-fluid alien LGBTQ+ reasons and for the Doctor as refraction-of-light reasons:

    Juniperfish @replies

    @pedant and @anduril Have I been summoned by costume bonkerising!?

    (@anduril – my icon is an old reference to the red/blue bow-ties of SmithDoc and the elaborate, some might say obsessive, theorising thereof, in our former home on Dan Martin’s recaps at The Guardian, before @craig created the Better Place).

    In face I’ve been chewing my tail trying to find the link to an interview given by one of the costume or set designers towards the end of the SmithDoc era, about the red/ blue colour scheme and its significance.

    @phaseshift posted the link originally, I remember, but sadly he hasn’t joined us for WhitDoc’s run as yet.

    I’ll have to re-watch the episode for the shirt change and remember to keep my eye on set dressing for narrative content. Arwel, the new set designer, loaded the Sherlock sets with narrative meaning, so hopefully that will feature in Who too.

    Juniperfish @replies


    Yes, my fishy friend, we swim together.

    Understandably, however, the reviewer is feeling raw and vulnerable about their minority situation in the US right now, and therefore very anxious about not having active allies, hence their take on the ep.

    I too am very angry about the attack on trans rights, because it is a nasty and deliberate attempt to break-up the power of LGBTQ+ by atomising it, and the architects of the attack know exactly what they are doing, as trans-folk have reached less critical mass support amongst the “general populace” than lesbian and gay folk (bisexuals are still often just erased). “Love is love” has been such an effective and powerful piece of persuasion, whereas “my gender is different from the one I was assigned” is still breaking through in terms of public understanding (in a US/UK context).

    Juniperfish @replies


    Thanks for that – I enjoyed watching the above human give their take (not sure what pronouns they prefer).

    They seem like a thinking person and I empathize enormously with the upset felt by trans/ non-binary people in the US right now, as the Trump administration seeks to trample on their rights to “feed” the festival of reactionary hate Trump continues to whip up amongst his “base”.

    However, I disagree with the above take for the following reasons.

    Malorie Blackman knew what she was doing. She was making use of negative space in her narrative. Meaning, you create a big jigsaw puzzle shaped hole in your narrative in order to invite your viewers to fill in the blank. It’s a great technique.

    The reaction this reviewer is having is the reaction Blackman wanted viewers to have.

    She wanted viewers to go away and think about this episode in the context of the contemporary present, i.e. a present in which white ethno-nationalism (neo-fascism) is on the rise in the US and across Europe. That’s why Krasko, the villain, was a white racist from the future.

    She wanted viewers to say to themselves and one another:

    a) Hang on a sec – yes, the US elected its first (and one and only) black President, but now look what’s happening! Look at the racist backlash! The fight isn’t over!

    b) That was so painful, watching the Doctor and her companions have to stand by and NOT actively help Rosa! We empathised so much with their agony at having to be bystanders!

    Re a), That’s why Blackman tells us, in our distant future, there are still people like Krasko. We can’t be complacent. The fight to overcome the “othering” of others is never over. It requires active work to prevent re-trenchment.

    Re b) That was Blackman’s message – Did you hate watching people be bystanders? Did you empathise with Graham’s agony about not being able to help? Well, the Doctor and her companions had to protect time, but WE don’t, ergo, we don’t have to be bystanders now!

    So, I think the above reviewer emotionally connected with Blackman’s story in just the way she was hoping viewers would connect, but wasn’t able to step back, look at the narrative structure and think – oooh there’s deliberately wrought negative space here, consciously setting up this cry for action, for solidarity, just the solidarity the reviewer longs for, for themselves, as a minority also under attack in the US at the moment.

    So – in conclusion – I defend Rosa from the charges above and posit that Blackman’s story precisely invites us NOT to be complacent and not to be bystanders, right here and right now.


    Juniperfish @replies

    @troygorsline and @mudlark and @kevinwho and @margaretblaine

    Krasko was also, with his “bad boy” smirk and haircut, very like some of the current alt-right leaders, like Richard Spencer, for instance.

    So I don’t think he was lacking in nuance @kevinwho , just written with a different kind of nuance.

    Alt-right ideology wants to turn back time. White male supremacy is their credo. I am reading a book by a political scientist on the rise of the alt-right at the moment, and if you ever want to gaze upon the absolute cesspool they are promulgating, then look up The Daily Stormer. Yes, deliberately a homage to the Nazi era Der Stürmer. Serious content warning though – it is vile.

    So, alt-right ideology wants to turn back time – it is white ethno-nationalist, virulently anti-trans, anti-semitic, anti-feminist, anti-black etc.

    And here is Krasko, a time-travelling alt-right style criminal escapee, literally travelling back in time to “undo” the trajectory of progress Rosa Parks and her fellow activists helped spark.

    Now that’s funny, and clever, and a sharp piece of commentary on the contemporary alt-right in the US.

    Juniperfish @replies

    Thanks @craig and @jimthefish for modding – appreciated.

    And although I often deplore pieces of journalism which are just collections of tweets, some of them, full of positive reactions to this episode, are quite welcome right now, such as this one in the Radio Times:

    and this one on (Irish media website):


    Juniperfish @replies

    @dogboythecat  I don’t really know what you mean by “cost effective”. The viewing figures for “Rosa” are in and all three of the episodes in this Series 11 of Nu Who so far have smashed it:

    Rosa Viewing Figures: Series 11 Historical Solidifies Doctor Who Ratings

    Chibnall, the new showrunner, is definiely consciously pitching to younger viewers. They are the future of Who after all, and Rosa Parks’ story is brand new for them.

    Juniperfish @replies

    @pedant jinx and well, quite.

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