Forum Replies Created
22 October 2018 at 16:55 #64808
The Doctor is canonically a gender-fluid alien, from a race of gender-fluid aliens.
Time Lords likely regard Earth cultures which insist on a rigid gender binary, given ample scientific evidence for complexity amongst our species (e.g. intersex births, Klinefelter sydrome XXY) as woefully off-piste, let alone from their own perspective of regeneration and shifting embodiment.
Stands to reason the Doctor would support transgender rights.22 October 2018 at 12:42 #64794
Your point about earth-bound racism as previously addressed in Doctor Who is interesting. These stories have previously, I think, always been set in the Britain where, even though racism has been endemic to some degree since the 17th century at least, chattel slavery on British soil was never recognised in common law and racism was never institutionalised in the way that it was under the ‘Jim Crow’ laws of the southern USA. This, I think, may have made us in the UK somewhat complacent, and this episode offers an important perspective.
I’d actually love the same theme of racism to be tackled by the Doctor in contemporary Britain, but I imagine the howls of protest from corners of the British press might make the Beeb a bit leery.
British racism is institutionalised too, but certainly differently from the US, as you say, because of different histories. However, we only have to look at the current Windrush scandal and the Grenfell tragedy, to understand that ethnic minorities are often treated with hostility and contempt by state powers and institutions in the UK, whether that be the Home Office or Kensington and Chelsea council.
Daily Fail comments on Grenfell at the time it happened were truly shocking – instead of empathy (to be fair there was some) I saw a lot of comments such as, “Doesn’t even look like Britain.” I am as worried about the resurgence of fascism in Britain as I am about its resurgence in the US at the moment, and there are alarming connections, such as Steve Bannon hobnobbing with Boris Johnson and being invited to do an interview with a BBC journalist at an upcoming media event – grrrrr – (and all praise to Nicola Sturgeon for pulling out of the event as a result):
Although Chibnall’s style as showrunner is, as many have said, markedly different from Moffat’s, and like others, there are elements of Moffat I do and will miss very much (e.g. his playfulness with time paradoxes), I feel quite excited by Chibnall’s understanding of the values the Doctor stands for, and how urgently and contemporaneously relevant they are, precisely as a beacon of light in the universe (re my earlier comments on WhitDoc’s T-shirt as a symbol of the refraction of light).21 October 2018 at 22:53 #64765
I watched In the Heat of the Night (1967) recently, starring Sydney Poitier, and Malorie Blackman’s episode really reminded me of that movie – the same hard-hitting (more so in fact) claustrophobic and dangerous climate of police-sanctioned racism.
I’m betting Blackman had that film in mind as one of her influences.
Poitier’s character, who is a black cop from the North, gets involved in a murder case down in Mississippi, and he does punch a white man in the movie, for insulting him and calling him “boy”. And apparently, movie audiences at the time would audibly gasp at this point, to see such radical defiance.
NB on my point above about Rose vs Rosa, the TARDIS is really the Doctor’s carer as well as companion half the time, and in both those instances, I reckon, took the Doctor where s(he) needed to be from a hearts-healing/ moral compass perspective.21 October 2018 at 22:15 #64759
@miapatrick sorry – see you mentioned Family of Blood above before me. I was composing my post and didn’t see yours ’til after!
And @jimthefish and @miapatrick I’d forgotten about Bill and CapDoc’s encounters with Victorian racism and the Doctor’s punch in Thin Ice. Good point. I think though, that CapDoc was probably free to do some racist-punching then because that wasn’t, unlike the Rosa Parks situation, a pivot point in history.
Here, WhitDoc was behaving (in a rather traditional Time Lord manner) as a custodian of time.21 October 2018 at 22:03 #64757
@bluesqueakpip “Is there a racism theme developing?”
I’d love that as an underlying theme, because Doctor Who at inception was strongly influenced by post-Nazism. And here we are, 70 years since the last time Europe made the mistake of entertaining fascism, watching it rear its ugly head all over again. It’s the perfect time for Who to tackle racism across the universe.
As we know, the Daleks are essentially space Nazis. And the Cybermen and Sonatarans too are “racial purity” types.
Of course, the Doctor has encountered all sorts of species-ism along the way, starting with her own people, who were very stuffy about all those they saw as “less developed” than themselves.
Nu Who has dealt with a more earth-bound racism previously too. Martha had to deal with Joan Redfern in Human Nature/Family of Blood, being unable to believe that she, a black maid, was in fact a doctor. The Zygon Invasion/Zygon Inversion two-parter tackled racial conflict and racism (human and Zygon purists vs human and Zygon assimilationists, with the two Osgoods symbolising the best of the latter).
It’s also worth thinking about this episode Rosa and the first episode of Nu Who, Rose together, as part of the Doctor’s own arc regarding race and war.
Then (Rose) the Doctor was running from his role in the Time War, in which he had been willing to countenance the genocide of both the Daleks and his own people. He was immediately confronted by the backwash of his war participation, as the Nestene Consciousness was only trying to turn the Earth plastic, because it blamed the Time Lords for the destruction of its own planet during the Time War. Rose Tyler became the Doctor’s escape, his solace, a young Earthling in whose company he could bury some of his grief and guilt. That often put an unfair burden on Rose. I mean, taking her to watch the destruction of earth for her first trip (The End of the World) because the Doctor wanted some other being to feel, just a taste, of the enormity of the grief he was feeling re Gallifrey – that was dark.
Now, the Doctor, having been through penance, atonement, and some timey-wimey Gallifrey-saving etc., is here (Rosa) with a re-sharpened consciousness that “purity” narratives (including those of the Daleks and the Time Lords) lead inexorably to violence and need to be combatted everywhere. WhitDoc (I like it) is ready to take on that fight, not as that antithesis, the War Doctor, but, like Rosa as a grassroots resister, one small, important, action at a time.21 October 2018 at 19:58 #64739
Well hats off to Malorie Blackman, that really made me cry.
I’m sure there will be some moaning and groaning in certain corners of the Whoniverse, but I will never forget the impact watching Terry Nation’s Genesis of the Daleks had on me as a kid (and obviously that was a political allegory for the rise of fascism), and I think this was a brillant episode which will have the same impact on kids watching now.
The time-travelling alt-right dude from the Stormcage was intriguing on several levels. Firstly, as part of the political narrative, to show us that yes, there are still racists and would-be fascists in the future, the fight goes on, and secondly because any mention of the Stormcage invokes River, of course, so now I have hopes she’lll get a mention at some point (if not an appearance).
Also, where the hell did Ryan zap alt-right dude to, and won’t that lead to some unintended time distortion of its own? Perhaps we haven’t seen the last of him?19 October 2018 at 18:33 #64680
“@juniperfish I really like your take on all this, especially “a refraction of light in the universe””
Thanks 🙂 The new Doctor’s outfit is always a topic of much conversation, following a regeneration, whether (s)he is male or female embodied, so at least we can say there has been no less scrutiny of previous Doctors’ attire.
Although, of course, it has been much rarer to speculate on what the male embodied forms’ attire has to say about their relationship to either masculinity or authority. Nevertheless, the Doctor’s relationship to Time Lord authority has always been rebellious. and that has been encoded in his outfits frequently (dandy, hobo, eccentric flouter of convention) especially in relation to the very formal wear favoured by Time Lord officialdom. (S)he remains however, anti-authoritarian dress sense aside, a renegade member of the Time Lord “aristocracy”. “Officer class” as Danny put it.
“Clearly any feminist credentials I may have don’t stop me from having absorbed the lessons of the patriarchy – authority speaks in a male voice. Gravitas comes with that male voice. Even those of us most passionately enthusiastic about the gender switch have some adjusting to do, but at least we’re willing to do it, and to give it time to work rather than expecting everything to be fixed by episode 2.”
Yes, as I think @bluesqueakpip and others concurred, this hits the nail on the head, which is why I think it is the responsibility of the audience to interrogate their/ our own responses to this latest female embodied incarnation of our beloved alien.
“My father’s family were Quakers, and in those circles no titles were used and in formal circumstances people addressed each other by their full names, both forename and surname. On the other hand, in the archaeology department at Edinburgh University in the 1960s everyone, from the eminent professor down to the lowliest first year student, was referred to by their forename.”
I think the Quakers “do power” better than almost anybody else (I grew up partially Quaker too, as my step-Dad’s family were Quakers). Their concept of “elders” as a rotational and time-limited function within the community has prevented the abuses of power so frequently found in other religious iterations favouring a permanent class of priests.
Heh yes, my department does firstnames for everyone too. Which has the interesting effect of making “invisible” (or rather, rendering openly speechless) the continuing highly structured hierarchies of status and power.
Re Ryan’s relationship with his Dad. Yes, this could be much more interesting than “deadbeat Dad.” Thinking about narrative mirroring again. We now have a grandfather/ grandson relationship aboard the TARDIS which has immediate resonances with the first Doctor and his grandfatherly role re Susan, and then we have an apparently “deadbeat Dad” in the background. That could also mirror the Doctor, as we have no idea about his/her relationship with Susan’s parent, the Doctor’s child. I look foward to seeing whether this mirroring takes us anywhere within Chibnall’s larger narrative.
I have no doubt Chibnall does plan an emotional arc, if nothing else. Simply the arrival and departure of new companions presents an emotional arc, in Nu Who, as the Doctor grows fond of her/his latest TARDIS co-occupants (in whatever way) and then has to let them go, for one reason or another.17 October 2018 at 20:23 #64600
@pedant Yes, you’re right!
Although, there are interesting arguments about this.
For instance, in citations, many systems just use the first-name initial so you can’t tell if the paper or article is by a man or a woman. Some argue that’s best, as it eliminates the bias (proven by data) that women are cited less than men.
But on the other hand, there is the argument that retaining the first names makes gender more visible, so the bias can be actively monitored/ guarded against. I prefer that method.
But, as you say, the informality of using the actor’s first name for a woman and surname for a man, a common occurrence, definitely does have connotations of greater informality potentially equalling lesser deference.
I am already in love with Jodie/ Whittaker’s Doctor. I tend to fall in love with them quickly, whatever the embodiment 🙂17 October 2018 at 19:28 #64598
Oh, and also, I love her rainbow-esque streak T-shirt more and more the more I think about it. Not only, as I mentioned above somewhere, is it an intriguing nod towards the fact that the Doctor is now officially “out” as a gender-fluid being (the rainbow as LGBT reference) but a rainbow is also the refraction of light.
And I think that encapsulates the essence of the Doctor – in an often dark universe, the Doctor is a refraction of light – a being who embodies “our” best values – kindness, intellectual curiosity, helping others (Jodie’s “When people are in trouble, I never refuse”), an adventurous spirit, compassion and respect for all beings (unless they are oppressors).
This Doctor, I feel, after all the darkness of becoming the “War Doctor” (the antithesis of The Doctor as far as the Doctor is concerned) and his/her long streak of guilt and atonement for that, can now be a refraction of light in the universe again. That’s my sense of who Jodie’s Doctor is going to be.17 October 2018 at 16:09 #64597
@ichabod So how does a female authority figure assert herself without wearing a version of male “authoritative” attire?
Ahh, well, that is the question. In television drama, female authority figures are often in “professional” dress as part of a role of one sort or another, like Gillian Anderson (detective) in The Fall or Keeley Hawes (politician) in The Killing. Both these roles, for example, employ sexuality as part of the projection of female power – authority job + projection of dominant sexiness. That’s a common way female power is depicted in drama. Male authority (in drama) is far more likely to be un-coupled from sexuality as a display dimenson of power (e.g. Giles from Buffy or Magneto from the X-Men movies) although it is coupled also (e.g. James Bond).
The Doctor, in his male embodied incarnations, has not had his authority linked to his sexuality – at all in BG Who (or barely) and in AG Who, the way his sexuality was depicted in fact, it could be argued, deliberately undercuts his authority. He is portrayed as gauche, shy, awkward and tongue-tied in relation to his possible attraction to Rose (Ecclestone and Tennant) and likewise as gauche, awkward, flummoxed and off-balance (Smith) in relation to his attraction to River (she is always, always depicted as more sexually confident than him).
Jodie’s Doctor, thus far (although it’s early days) seems to have returned to a more BG Who in that the Doctor’s sexuality is not an evident dimension of character or narrative. That was also more true of Capaldi than previous Nu Who Doctors, but not entirely (his relationship with Clara still contained some kind of charge, left from the Smith-Clara dynamic e.g. Capaldi feeling the need to tell her he *wasn’t* her boyfriend).
I hope the writers’ room has had some deep conversations about authority and a female-embodied Who. But the writers’ room remains male dominated (although Marjorie Blackman and Joy Wilkinson are on board) so…
Jodie will no doubt have thought about this element of her character. And the script is giving her continuity-Doctor “authority markers” like his/her tendency to be somewhat self-aggrandising (or just brutally honest) by voicing, “I’m very, very clever” etc. on occasion.
I think it is also the responsibility of the audience, to interrogate their receptivity (or otherwise) to female-embodied authority, as this question is thrown up by a female Doctor.
Jodie seems to have gone with a practical, down-to-earth, somewhat understated and self-doubting version of “authority” so far. But she’s still in the unstable post-regeneration phase, so I’m intrigued to see more of her Doctor.16 October 2018 at 16:32 #64568
I love the Graham and Grace theory.
Not sure about the reason for Ryan’s Dad’s absence though. Got the impression from Ryan he was a bit of a deadbeat Dad full-stop. We shall see.
I do agree with several folk above that Yaz has been short-changed as a character so far. Hopefully we’ll get to know her a bit more next episode.15 October 2018 at 23:54 #64536
@jimthefish Agreed on the class perspective.
I’ve been re-watching Christopher Ecclestone’s Doctor again (Netflix) and lamenting that he only stayed one season. Him and Billie Piper are still absolutely wonderful together, and chosen quite deliberately by RTD as actors from working-class backgrounds.
As for Chibnall’s themes – a planet called Desolation which is a) environmentally poisoned b) dedicated to warfare above all else and c) the site of brutal competition where there are only “winners” and “losers” (zero sum) and which insists on playing a “game” where no co-operation is allowed. That’s a pretty heavy reference to the state of our own little planet right now, as we hurtle towards terrible climate change impacts, merrily selling arms to the Saudis whilst Yemen starves, under a rapacious late capitalism which seems intent on cannibalising itself. He ain’t playing!14 October 2018 at 22:47 #64483
Also, look, the TARDIS, with adorable self-reflection, has created a small “ghost monument” version of herself as part of her interior controls!
She has got so used to her chamelion circuit being stuck that her self-concept is now “earth police box”:14 October 2018 at 22:22 #64480
Oh, and I forgot to say something about the resonances of the episode title.
The “ghost monument” is, in fact, the TARDIS herself. As Gallifrey is still outside this universe, in its own bubble universe, as far as Capaldi left it when he high-tailed it out of there after his aeons of imprisonment, the TARDIS is indeed a sort of ghost monument to a great civilisation-that-was.
However, as we know, the TARDIS has a mind of her own, and we have to wonder why she brought the Doctor to that particular hideous weapons-testing planet, for their reunion in the Doctor’s new incarnation. Perhaps because the Doctor’s own participation in war (the Time War) and the long emotional aftermath of that, including his atonement, is now laid to rest, and Jodie’s Doctor can now re-dedicate herself to peace throughout the universe.
So, in that sense, the TARDIS is a ghost monument to the phase-of-war-that-was, but she has redecorated herself in beautiful blues and golds with the daisy wheel solar symbol of life, in order to become, now, a vehicle, once more, of peace.14 October 2018 at 21:32 #64476
Thanks for the TARDIS interior clip @craig . Arwel was the designer on Moffat’s Sherlock, and he did an amazing job, so it’s great to have him on Who.
I absolutely LOVE the new TARDIS interior and felt quite emotional when the Doctor and the TARDIS reunited. The custard cream dispenser is brilliant, but the pinwheel design (which Arwel, in the clip, said he got from the fractal patterns of trees) made me squee a bit, because I’ve just been to a talk on folk magic archaeology, and the daisy wheel (with the six spokes) which patterns the new TARDIS is also a pre-Christian solar symbol associated with sun goddesses, which is found throughout Europe:
Later, its symbology passed to being associated with the Virgin Mary, as clever Christianity did its syncretic absorption thing.
And the Doctor as a bringer of light fits. He’s been referred to as a “God” several times on Nu Who, notably by one of the cat nuns (as the “lonely god”) in New Earth (not that he would accept “godhood” unless having a grandiose off-the-rails moment like in The Waters of Mars). And now that he is a she, so the ancient solar goddess symbol seems wonderfully apt. Plus the blue and the gold together, very cosmic.
The “Timeless Child” reference mentioned by @miapatrick and @mudlark definitely felt like an arc note. I didn’t take the reference as referring to the Doctor herself though, and immediately starting wondering afresh what happened to Susan and whether the Doctor will ever come across her or her descendants. Particularly as she is now travelling with a grandfather and a (step) grandson, I feel this resonance has legs, because it’s already mirrored in the companions (and mirroring is a wonderful narrative technique).
@jimthefish Hey fishy comrade. Yes, I didn’t like Peter Davidson’s cricket gear at all, so each to their own.
I’m not bothered by Jodie’s costume myself though. Yes, I’ve always liked the frock-coat end of the Doctor’s sartorial extravangances, but Jodie’s gear is practical, sort of belt and braces, which goes with her scientist-engineer flair, with a hint of rainbow on the T-shirt which I find intriguing now that she is fully out on the show as a gender-fluid being. In terms of her having authority, that is going to be, in part, also up to audiences re-examining their ability to recognise authority as personified in a female incarnation. Like @mudgodson above, immediately latching on to the oldest dude companion and seeing him as the Doctor by default, we are used, culturally and historically to bestowing authority more commonly upon men. Which makes the whole question of authority, and how the Jodie Doctor wears it, carries it, wields it, and is recognised or not recognised (in show and out) as having it, highly intriguing.
The Doctor’s “We’re better together,” line made me smile. I see there have been calls for the Doctor to come to earth and fix our hideous environmental crisis recently in The Guardian. While she’s at it, if she could sort out the sink-hole that is Brexit, we’d be much obliged.10 October 2018 at 15:51 #64382
Ha ha – those honest trailers are great – Doctor Who does look really weird from the outside!
I’m glad The Doctor Who Forum under your reign Emperor @craig has grown to the size where you are invited to “press” events. Sadly am nowhere near Blackpool myself either, but someone else might be!9 October 2018 at 18:22 #64358
You know, I don’t think we’ve fully appreciated (it’s just occured to me now as I’m cogitating on a train) how funny the occupations of the new Doctor’s companions are:
An apprentice mechanic
The mechanic’s apprentice thus replaces the magician’s apprentice. The Doctor was more of a magician under Moffat (and Clara was rather a magician’s apprentice) but, under Chibnall, the Doc is clearly going to be a scientist-mechanic.
A retired bus driver
The TARDIS and her well-know lack of reliability in terms of flight destination (except when River is in charge!).
An apprentice police-woman
Well, the TARDIS is still stuck in its obsolete (in our time) police-box form, and the Doctor does operate as a kind of rogue detective-cum-fixer-cum-freelance-policer-of-alien-ill-doings, more of a Sherlock Holmes than a regular constabulary member of course, but still…
So – mechanic, vehicle driver, police-woman – all lovely reflections of elements of the Doctor, and with particular ready-made ways to bounce off her.8 October 2018 at 21:12 #64295
@nearlysane Welcome (twice!) I am a fan of dopplegangers.
@ Everyone – Sorry, I feel the need to lower the tone somewhat, by pointing out that Chibnall does a rather amusing turn for adult viewers with the sonic.
As we know, the sonic has, on occasion, been something of a penis metaphor under Moffat (who can forget Tennant and Smith comparing sizes during the 50th anniversary?).
So Jodie’s Doctor shows up without her own sonic, but sets to work manufacturing one for herself instead (with a touch of Sheffield steel). And design-wise, given the bend and curve of it, it does look a little more sex-toy than usual, right?
I’ll let myself out. But it did make me smile. It was done with greater subtlety than Moffat’s metaphor, but a charming additional, gentle, dig at the female-Doctor-inevitable-travesty crowd methinks.
Oh, and thankfully, having encountered it elsewhere on the interwebs, I’m not the only low-brow type to have noticed this little Freudian twist 🙂8 October 2018 at 12:39 #64266
<Waves at comrades, old and new>
@scaryb I thought you’d like the Delia Derbyshire tribute in the theme tune! Did you see she got honoured with a posthumous PhD last year?
@jimthefish “The VC was probably relegated to a broom cupboard somewhere”
Heh – if only.
@pedant “It was a warning not a lure!”
I know – I couldn’t resist and now I am eating the sickly sugary snacks of regret.
Like @craig I like the 13th Doctor (or 15th depending on how you count) Barbie Doctor just because I know it will make certain curmudgeonly corners of the “fan-boy” universe explode with outrage 🙂 Even though, frankly, Mattel don’t deserve the kudos really, as their Barbie has presented such a problematic body-image for girls all these years with her strange inhuman insect-like proportions. Perhaps she’s been an alien in disguise all this time…
I had a Tom Baker plastic Barbie-size figure as a kid, which came with removable hat, scarf and sonic. It was called a “figure” and not a “doll” but it was the same damn thing, so in fact, having a Jodie figure is nothing new. It’s just all about gender framing.
I’m pleased to hear various people’s reports of kids loving the new Doctor’s first episode. If it doesn’t capture new generations it’s not doing its job – so hurrah. Not at all surprised that the kids, boys and girls, don’t bat an eyelid at the gender switch. They are always more open-minded and ready to imagine the world anew, thankfully.
I am so terrified that Google’s parent company Alphabet will actually crack the code for ageing (it’s working on it, some for real sci-fi s*** right there) and then hideous old rich people like Trump will rule over us forever. Not being age-ist (can hardly be as I approach 50!) but unfortunately our wise-est elders don’t generally sit a-top of the rapacious capitalist heap!7 October 2018 at 22:58 #64238
@pedant Noooooooo, you tempted me to read the Daily Fail’s review and now I need to bathe my eyes with salt water.
The reviewer moaned (at great length) that Jodie’s Doctor wasn’t more “Beyonce” or “Daenerys Targaryen”. Now I have a weird “All the Single Ladies” dance routine as performed by the new Doctor and companions flashing before my eyes. That would actually be pretty funny.7 October 2018 at 22:31 #64237
@miapatrick Yes, you’re right Moffat was aware of his class “issue” after RTD, but he just didn’t know how to include working-class life convincingly in the same way. He had Clara’s grandparents apparently living in a tower-block (that awkward Christmas do when she invited the Smith Doctor as her “boyfriend”) but that just didn’t feel as if it fitted with the rest of Clara, whereas with Rose and her Mum it was totally believable.
And Bill was the dinner-lady (for five minutes before she became a student) at a very posh-looking university! Only Oxbridge colleges have rooms for Professors that look like the one the Doctor was inhabiting.
It did make me smile that we have a real police-woman companion, Yasmin, setting off with Jodie instead of Amy’s strip-o-gram version. I can’t help feeling that was a tiny Chibnall dig at Moffat!
Yes, the grand-parent theme does have continuity with the end of Capaldi’s run, particularly his closing adventure with Doctor One, and I like that.
On the companion front, Bradley Walsh’s retired bus-driver looks like he’s going to be hard work, being adventure-averse, grief-stricken and kidnapped, but I suppose that’s the point. He’s going to be the useless one isn’t he, in contrast to Yasmin and Ryan. Having a female Doctor throws up all sorts of interesting dynamics. When do you ever get a show where an older white guy routinely defers to the expertise of a younger-looking woman, as Graham clearly will do to Jodie’s Doctor? Yes, she’s an over a thousand year old gender-fluid alien, but still :-).
Bring it all on, and let’s see where the chips fall!7 October 2018 at 20:55 #64222
I thought Jodie did a great job. I know what you mean @miapatrick about whether the Doctor as more openly empathetic (compared to Capaldi who needed Clara’s cue cards to help him formulate appropriate emotional responses!) dovetails, in a gender-stereotyped way, with the switch to a female incarnation. I am taking it however, as the Doctor having finally worked through all the trauma of the Time War, the guilt, the PTSD, and, in this new incarnation, at the start of a new regeneration cycle, being less bottled up by the emotional choke-hold which, previously, all that had on him/her.
Several things to note about the new tone for the new team.
The Doctor as a scientist (inventive and improvisational as you say @miapatrick) was always a significant element in the Who of my youth (Pertwee in particular with his UNIT lab) and it’s good to see that back. He’s been rather more of a wandering officer discharged from a great war and desperate to run away from that since the reboot to date.
And honestly, seeing Jodie’s Doctor messing on with cables and coils and spark-plugs and the like made my heart sing a bit, given all the issues with women’s welcome (or lack thereof) in STEM subjects. Having a mad-cap alien scientist female Doctor is just brilliant. (yes I loved Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot to bits as well).
Class – Russell T. Davis was better at it than Moffat – i.e. at making sure the Doctor didn’t just hang out with Earth’s middle classes. And it looks like Chibnall is going for a bit of Russell’s legacy on that front. I’m so pleased the Doctor went shopping for a new outfit in a charity shop and not some flash department store. Also it’s fab the new sonic has a touch of Sheffield steel in it.
The scary mysterious tone from the opener reminded me of some old Tom Baker storylines like The Talons of Weng Chiang and The Horror of Fang Rock and The Brain of Morbius. I’m up for some horror-inflection.
Quite a lot about grandparents in this first episode. Ryan’s Nan and Step-Grandad of course, but the construction guy on-site, who got murdered by our toothsome alien bounty hunter, was also talking to a grand-kid by Skype just before he was offed. So the Doctor as a grand-parent is resonating like a bell in the undertow of the narrative, particularly as she is asked whether she has any family and replies that they’re gone.
It’s quite fascinating to look at the way the Doctor/ female companion dynamic has hitherto been written in the reboot, with its recurrent (although not exclusive) dynamic of the hundreds of years old Doctor/ and a teen or early twenties Earth girl, who is either a love-story or a crush going one way or the other (Ecclestone/ Tennant and Rose, Tennant and Martha, Smith and Amy and Clara, Capaldi and Clara). It would, I think, cause instant outrage and cries of creepyness if Jodie’s Doctor had any sort of similar dynamic with several young Earth men, or indeed young Earth women. Jodie’s new ensemble TARDIS crew looks rather Hartnell-esque, with her in a grand-parent-like role, possibly. Is the Doctor asexual/ a-romantic again? <foolishly opens a can of fandom worms and tries to move swiftly on>.
It’s too early to pronounce exactly on what the new Doctor’s hearts are going to get up to, of course. The last incarnation lost a wife, River, only a blink of an eye ago, by Time Lord standards of time.
Dan seems less than enthusiastic about the Chibnall debut, over on The Guardian recap, but I am overjoyed myself, as I confess I was worried Jodie wouldn’t be enough of a “character” to carry the first female Doctor off. I was rooting, in my personal fantasy land, for Phoebe Waller-Bridge. But actually, I think Jodie is going to great. I really loved her mix of vulnerability and authoritative get-up-and-go.6 October 2018 at 23:46 #64195
<Sidles up to the sofa with a bag of jelly babies and a pack of jammy dodgers>
I believe there’s something on the tele-box tomorrow?
It’s about time….
to hop aboard the TARDIS with you lot!
Prep the popcorn and pop on your multi-coloured scarves, bow-ties, frock-coats and fezes.
Next stop, everywhere….25 December 2017 at 18:46 #62730
Merry meet, one and all!
Lovely way to bow out, a character piece in which the First and Twelfth Doctors get some cantankerous banter in, and Peter Capaldi sings his swan song beautifully at the end.
Moffat has always been a bit marmite, hasn’t he, but he’s given us a wild gallop of good years through the universe and, I will miss his particular love of time paradoxes and loops, and the criss-crossing of paths.
Delighted to see Bill again, and I’m sure Clara fans felt the same. The one thing I missed was a mention of River, when the Doctor was advising his new incarnation never to tell his name to anyone. I felt her presence very much then, however, and I think we were meant to – meaning no one could ever replace her, the woman the Doctor did tell his name to.
I do hope Jodie Whittaker isn’t going to be without the TARDIS for long!
Look forward to the gathering of the tribes to cogitate below.
Midwinter salutations to you all x J-fish.1 August 2017 at 12:04 #61574
@nerys Yes, like you, I relaxed once Bill arrived!
However, I am appreciating the tricky and difficult Clara/ Twelve dynamic more now that I have begun a S9 rewatch. In hindsight all the tarot card speculation makes complete sense not just for the Doctor with his re-birth/ return to Gallifrey, but for Clara, with her re-birth as a time-traveller in her own right.
Michelle Gomez needs her own thread I think. I love her take on the Master/ Missy. She is full of tics and twitches and mercurial danger made all the more terrifying by the Mary Poppins attire.
Having just watched The Magician’s Apprentice/ Witch’s Familiar two-parter again, it’s also interesting to note another hint that the next Doctor would be female. Missy says to Clara that she’s been friends with the Doctor since he was a “girl” (although she allows she may be lying). In addition, there’s the intriguing and still left unfinished mention of the Doctor giving her a brooch on the occasion of her daughter… I would LOVE it if Susan did turn out, as we’ve speculated before, to be the grand-daughter of the Doctor and the Master.
Capaldi and Gomez are absolutely gorgeous together right from the start. Gomez conveys both her desire to hurt and to love the Doctor in equal measure in a really consummate performance. Missy is genuinely worried when the Doctor sends her his time-dial confession and also genuinely delighted at the ruse which may get Clara inside a dalek, killed by the Doctor himself.
Capaldi conveys, better I think, in a more reserved manner than the high emoting of the Tenant/ Simm combo, that the Doctor both loves the Master/ Missy and is appalled by him/ her. In fact, he is so patient with Missy, that, combined with her “daughter” reference, some backstory involving them both where the Doctor feels he made a mistake and owes Missy as a result, would make a lot of sense.30 July 2017 at 13:58 #61550
Lots of great comments and I’m pleased we’ve got a thread to celebrate Twelve – thanks @craig .
@drben and @ichabod Yes, I think there’s a reason why Twelve doesn’t want to regenerate, beyond that he’s grown attached to this version of himself (that was Ten’s schtick). I do think he’s tired, and part of him would just like it all to be over. He’s now over two thousand years old. That’s a long time to be running through the universe. As for whether he’s manic depressive. Well, certainly some neurodivergent viewers, particularly those on the autism spectrum, have read the Doctor as someone they can relate to. So, perhaps some bipolar viewers might feel the same.
My pet theory re the reluctance to regenerate has been that he’s still worried about becoming the Valeyard, but I’ve just re-watched The Time of the Doctor (as part of a full Capaldi Doctor re-watch currently in progress) and I’m guessing not now, because I forgot that Ten regenerated as himself. Time of the Doctor lays it out so that Smith’s Eleven is actually the Doctor’s thirteenth incarnation (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, War Doctor, 9,10,10, 11). So our Twelve is actually the first of a new regeneration cycle which the Time Lords grant him, at Clara’s insistence, through the crack in the universe at Trenzalore. In other words, he’s got over his Valeyard hump already.
Still, the fact that we are going back to the start and meeting the first Doctor again at Christmas, does point to a crisis of self brought about by the new regeneration cycle. The Doctor we know as Twelve (who is actually One of the new cycle) needing to be convinced by the original One that he needs to carry on.
@drben and @jimthefish I share some of your combined Season 8 favourites – Listen, Time Heist and Mummy on the Orient Express. It’s a delight watching Capaldi now. I do think the initial encounter with a new Doctor, at first, is always coloured by the grief of losing the last one, for those not coming to the show fresh. I was very sad to see Smith go and it took me a while to get over that, so Capaldi didn’t feel quite “right” to begin with. Now, on re-watch, I can see how much that was about my own emotional processing, and in fact I think he nails it right from the start – just – his version.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned on this board, it’s that all of us have slightly different elements of Who which work, or don’t work for us. Personally, I struggled, on and off, with Clara as a character and that affected my enjoyment of the Smith/ Clara and Capaldi/ Clara eras compared to the Smith/Amy/Rory and River era. Whilst I loved her introduction as Dalek Souffle Girl, she never really lived up to that initial promise, for me, and the “Impossible Girl” narrative didn’t really do it for me either. I do think framing her that way was a mistake or a flaw in Moffat’s writing. Amy and River had both been mysteries for the Doctor, and that worked as a self-contained arc. Making the next female companion a mystery too, suddenly began to look like an inability to write a woman companion who wasn’t a mystery. Not the fault of Jenna Coleman, who is clearly a very good actor.
By the end of her run with Smith, I thought their dynamic, of fancying each other, but dancing around it, knowing it wasn’t right somehow (for either of them) was wearisome. I was very committed to Eleven and River of course, so again, I acknowledge bringing an emotional dynamic of my own. I wanted Moffat to write something un-flirty, for once, post-River. He got there eventually, with Bill.
This is on topic (promise!) because Capaldi inherited that awkward flirty dynamic with Clara from his predecessor, and although he immediately changed the relationship up-front, by telling Clara he wasn’t her boyfriend (whilst admitting it was his mistake in the first place) their subsequent relationship, because of that history, was tangled, complicated, scratchy, addictive, push-pull. It made Capaldi’s initial run somewhat difficult, I think, because his central relationship (which is always with his companions) was difficult. This is all perhaps entirely subjective, however, as I know many adored Clara and celebrate her as their favourite Nu Who companion.
I’m still mulling Twelve’s run over, as I get further into the re-watch, so I’ll be back!24 July 2017 at 12:31 #61377
@wolfweed and all – yes what an exciting trailer!
@jimthefish and @serahni Yes, I’m very sorry PM is leaving. I would have liked more time with her, and would have really enjoyed having a companion along for the ride who’d known the Doctor as a “he” before she became a “she”. That could have led to some great exchanges:
Bill: “Well you didn’t like liquorice when you were a grumpy old man!”
Doctor: “Didn’t I? Taste buds always change a bit with a regeneration – love it now. Liquorice is delicious! Say that fast when you’ve had two or three Arcturian brandies…. What do you mean, grumpy?”
@Thane15 Aspiring to grow up to be like Peter Capaldi is definitely a good aspiration to have. He seems absolutely lovely doesn’t he (and “quietude” is a word).20 July 2017 at 23:48 #61199
@Conchobarre and @mirime – You sound as if you have both done a great job explaining the change from male-presenting to female-presenting Doctor to your young sons. I look forward to hearing their reactions to the new 13th Doctor in action.
@wolfweed – Thanks for the Barrowman clip. I love him and I love him for wearing his TARDIS glittery frock.
@antaus and @nick I agree with @nick that film and television likes to take a bet on an already proven loved property from a ££ point of view (which is why we get remakes) and that, combined with the social revolution enacted (partially – still a way to go) by feminism, has led to the recasting of some male characters as female in older but refreshed genre shows. Because, historically, women were more frequently cast in supporting roles in sci-fi film and television.
Look, we all love original Star Wars and original Star Trek, but boys wanting to identify with male characters got to be Captain of the Millennium Falcon, or a Jedi Knight, and Captain or First Officer or Doctor on the Enterprise. Girls wanting to identify with female characters got to be a space princess who needed help (made awesome, nevertheless, by Carrie Fisher) or a Comms Officer or a Nurse. The male and female roles were not equal and that reflected society in the 1960s/ 70s. And yet these shows were ground-breaking in their time, and already impacted by feminism. Princess Leia was not a damsel in distress by any means and Uhura was groundbreaking as an African American woman treated as an equal by her crewmates. As the next iterations of these franchises rolled on, we got a female starship captain in Janeway and now a Jedi Knight in training in Rey. Because these shows moved with the times.
Doctor Who, like Trek and Star Wars, was born at the start of second wave feminism. As I mentioned earlier on this thread, Who was, for its time, very forward thinking, helmed (unusually) by a woman, in Verity Lambert. Nevertheless, boys wanting to identify with male characters on the show got to imagine themselves with ease as the Doctor for fifty years. Girls either learned to identify across gender in order to be the hero, or to accept that a woman’s role was as an assistant.
So, I do find complaints of gender insult and unfairness regarding the casting of a female Doctor to be akin to a child who has been allowed to eat 100% of a cake for fifty years, now being asked to share 1/13th of it and throwing a tantrum.18 July 2017 at 15:20 #61010
Looool at Dad as a “daft mansplainer” – haha – I’m not sure CC is as much of a troll as Moffat, however, although I would enjoy this a lot.
I do hope Jenny and Vastra are revisted at some point. I love them.
My guess is that Doctor 12 will be with Doctor 1 at the time of his regeneration into Doctor 13. So we’ll get a very brusque, “Stop dilly dallying about staring at yourself in the mirror for heaven’s sake. Be thankful you’ve lost the eyebrows and let’s get a move on!” from Doctor 1.18 July 2017 at 14:56 #61008
@cathannabel – of course – always delighted to be quoted 🙂
Look forward to reading it.18 July 2017 at 14:55 #61007
There is no requirement to love Whittaker’s casting (although, as she hasn’t yet uttered a single line of dialogue as the Doctor, judgement on merit seems premature).
You write, “At the moment it [Doctor Who] is nothing less than a column in the Guardian. Dr Who has been replaced by Doctor Right On.”
This is a perennial moan in certain parts of the interwebs, but what does it actually mean?
Since RTD revived the show, the Doctor has travelled with a greater variety of companions in terms of ethnicity and sexual orientation than in days of yore. Is that what is meant by “right on”, clearly here understood as something to be decried?
Logically, that suggests posters making this complaint about “right on-ness” would prefer a return to the all white, all heterosexual (ostensibly – although plenty of people read Adric as LGBT) companions of the first four decades of Who.
This seems to me to be nothing other than a refusal to recognise the full humanity of others, so that Bill Potts, for example, becomes a “black lesbian” (and disliked “right on” cypher) rather than an amazing person and companion who happens to be black and to prefer girls.
Capaldi’s Doctor found something wonderful about Bill. She was a bright student, with a spark of adventure and a quick way of thinking which interested him. He didn’t give a damn that she was black or that she was a lesbian. But neither did he refuse to see those elements of her being. She was, to him, a human he thought worthy of inviting on adventures in the TARDIS.
If “Doctor Right On” does not mean, “I dislike Nu Who’s greater diversity of companions, and now its greater diversity of Doctor-by-gender” I would love to know what it does mean.
Planet Earth (and Britain) is diverse. Gallifrey is an alien and highly advanced culture whose people’s biology is different from that of humans. Nu Who is simply doing a better job of representing that than Old Who did.18 July 2017 at 11:25 #60996
Loved your account of being at a convention and finding out about Whittaker’s casting at the end of the weekend. Presumably it wasn’t a Who convention, or someone would have announced it there. It’s great to feel this delighted, isn’t it.
Like you, I am rather dizzy that the BBC really went for it. Even though all the hints had been telegraphed in the text for a while now, I still wasn’t sure they’d dare.
I am particularly excited to think about all the kids for whom the Doctor is Capaldi, and who will be watching the Doc regenerate for the first time. What a wonderful added dimension of extra-terrestriality to feed to their imaginations.
It throws up so much, as you say. Maybe the Doc will decide that having done 12 regenerations in a male presenting body, it’s time to do 12 in female presenting ones. Wouldn’t that put the cat among the pigeons. I would very much like for a female regeneration not to be a “quirky” one-off.
@craig – I’d quite like a Capaldi retrospective space too, if poss? I feel that his tenure has been under appreciated, perhaps because it has coincided with Moffat winding down, and I want to celebrate him a bit before he regenerates.17 July 2017 at 21:24 #60966
@serahni – ha ha – great list of all the ways Doctor Who has previously been “ruined”.
I hope the writers’ team trolls everyone hard and we find the new Whittaker Doc rummaging through an entire closet of bras in one of the TARDIS’ wardrobe rooms, muttering to some wide-eyed companion, “Oh, these? Belonged to my third incarnation – regular vaudeville act during the Weimar Republic – what a show-off!” before trimphantly pulling out the packet of ginger nut biscuits from the back of the closet which she was looking for all along.17 July 2017 at 11:53 #60881
@jim4 And a D minus for logical fallacy as well.
If it’s just a kids’ show and not worth getting one’s knickers in a twist about, then being on here getting one’s knickers in a twist about a female Doctor seems, well, wholly illogical Captain.
I’ll turn my attention to more interesting matters, therefore…
What will the Capaldi to Whittaker regeneration looks like, I wonder? And what will the first Doctor make of it? Good times ahead.17 July 2017 at 10:56 #60878
Part of me cannot be bothered to engage with the one-off sign-ups who’ve joined to froth about the Doctor regenerating in a female body. But another part of me feels they should be anwered, publicly, despite the present age’s penchant for “edgy” ironic/ post-ironic trolling.
@jim4 whatever the truth of your nostalgic vision of early Who as for “kids and Dads” (presumably whilst Mums were in their “proper” place in the kitchen), that first generation of captivated kids included girls and boys, as long-timer and original era fans like @scaryb here can attest, or our dearly departed @htpbdet who married his wife, both of them in Who costumes, as they were both original child fans who continued to be so as adults.
What did you think was going to happen? Girl-fans would grow up and lose interest, to take up their “proper” places in the kitchen again, like their Mums before them, reproducing in aspic, your idealised youth? As if 50 years of social change outside and inside the world of television did not happen?
Verity Lambert was the first producer on Doctor Who, the youngest and only female head of drama at the BBC at the time. And Waris Hussein was its first director, and he is gay (although, of course, he wasn’t publicly out back then) and British Indian. It was always a forward-thinking show. The first companions were the equally educated teachers, Iain and Barbara, and the Doctor’s grand-daughter Susan – so the first adventures we humans got to see involved a gender balanced TARDIS.
“Misguided liberalism and political correctness” is clearly partly code, in these sorts of posts, for the arrival of out LGBT characters in Doctor Who with the re-boot under Russell T Davies, together with the revelations that Time Lords can and do regenerate in male and female bodies, meaning the Doctor is in fact a gender-fluid pansexual alien.
Newsflash – he was always an alien. Two hearts, incredible longevity, ability to regenerate etc. etc. Anyone expecting aliens to stick to human gender and sexuality “norms” must have been reading a very narrow range of science-fiction all these years.
It’s also no surprise to me there are LGBT people in space, but then, I’ve always known there are LGBT people on earth. Earth’s animal kingdom is full of gay sex btw and always has been:
The Beeb has been slower to catch up to that, tbh. Its Planet Earth style nature shows remain relentlessly heterosexual. Can’t wait for the pearl-clutching when a new generation of nature programmers actually depict a couple of same-sex pair-bonded swans or penguins (assuming these lovely beasties survive the sixth extinction) – heh. I am pouring my celebratory cocktail already. No, future-moaners, it’s not “political correctness”, it’s nature – you just grew up in a world of illusion is all.
I remember a similar bit of gender politics hoo-ha back in the 1970s when the Doctor aquired Romana as a companion, because she was clearly his intellectual equal, and in fact had achieved much better grades than him at the academy, to his great annoyance! She was also able to choose the body she wished to regenerate into, having, apparently, much greater control over the process than the Doctor has ever exhibited. But, he’s an adventurer, so perhaps he just prefers to set his biological controls to random and has an “I’ll take whatever” approach. It fits.
Jodie Whittaker is clearly going to need support, as she takes on a mantle which involves certain “fan” corners of the internet more grouchy and retrograde than perhaps belong to any other show. I can’t wait to meet her Doctor.16 July 2017 at 18:22 #60794
Yay @craig <does a dance of joy with you> 🙂
@lordwindowlicker – Welcome and blimey, you asked! Prepare for a lot of irrational spleen in response… I can already see a bunch of people have joined up simply to vent/ rant etc.
One common (generally frothing) complaint that gets to the heart of the matter, is that boys (and men) have now <sob> lost a role model (as in the above “nothing for the lads”).
No, you haven’t, unless, of course, you regard women as inherently inferior and simply cannot, under any circumstances, look up to them.
A plethora of girls and women have regarded the Doctor as a role model, and identified with him, over Doctor Who’s 50 year span, whilst he’s regenerated, repeatedly, as a man. The Doctor is still, no doubt, going to be the Doctor as portrayed by Jodie Whittaker – alien, two hearts, both of gold, funny, witty, snarky, capricious, kind, adventurous.
Live a little and get flexible with your indentifications!16 July 2017 at 17:55 #60783
I am fricking delighted!
Like others, I enjoyed Attack the Block but haven’t watched Broadchurch.
It’s not as if we haven’t been prepared…
The Time Lord known as The Corsair preferred to switch about on a regular basis, as told to us in The Doctor’s Wife. We’ve enjoyed a great outing for the Master as Missy, thanks to Michelle Gomez.
This corner of the universe is certainly ready.
Munch on a jelly baby, haters!3 July 2017 at 13:29 #60263
Well I’m late as usual – just reading through everyone’s comments!
I love the Missy passing her ring to the Doctor theory @wolfweed . I have no doubt the Master will return in future Who by some means or other – there did seem to be some unspoken communication passing between them. And like you @nick I am still hoping for a Valeyard story – Capaldi’s desire not to regenerate as a manifestation of his anxiety about the imminent arrival of his shadow-self.
I would really have loved a future Missy, on a redemption path thanks to Capaldi-Doc, meeting the next, and Valeyard, regeneration of the Doctor and asking “Am I the good last of the Time Lords now? Are you the bad one?” (shameless Buffy rip-off). Yes, I know Gallifrey is no longer destroyed.
What if the TARDIS has taken Capaldi to visit Hartnell so they can defeat the Valeyard together? A very fitting full-circle for a show-runner whose tenure has been characterized by time-loops, counter-directions in time, and circularities.
Michelle Gomez – what a delight. And this version of the Simm Master was much more menacing having dialled down the tantrums.
Did you see that Moffat toyed (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) with the idea of Missy announcing she was pregnant to the Doctor and the Simm Master, leaving us viewers to speculate wildly about which of them was the father?
Heh – it would have been a great story-line in many ways, but as Moff clearly realised, unfair to Chibnall to land him with such a giant plot direction not of his own making.
There’s a lot more to say – not least Moffat’s eternal desire to defeat death. Clara and Bill both died on their adventures with the Doctor, taken by the Raven and cyberised, and yet they are living an after-life thanks to Time-Lord/ alien tech.3 June 2017 at 23:46 #58446
@Phaseshift I am horribly late responding to this – got side-tracked by work – but thanks for the lovely considered response.
I did know previously about the reds and blues as a deliberate part of the costumery and did a public fishy victory dance somewhere lost in the threads of time 🙂 But I didn’t know all the other elements re Clara and poppies etc. I’ll have to hunt for that interview.
But, absolutely, as an inveterate close-reader of televisual text, I frequently come across the “you’re reading too much into it” brigade, and I always respond – that no one is nerdier than production teams and that nothing on camera is placed there without a consideration of its visual contribution to the narrative grammar.3 June 2017 at 23:29 #58445
Hi folks – missed a couple of episodes with you all, so will have to catch up! Has the painting and ship thread diappeared? I certainly spotted the ship this episode (Doctor’s fake prison ship – couldn’t really miss it) but was there a painting? I guess there was a painting of a monk in Bill’s apartment?
This is turning out to be my favourite Capaldi season. His Doctor’s frock coats are gorgeous, his insouciance is charming, and his relationship with Bill is funny, warm, genuine and totally believable.
It helps that Pearl Mackie is a very, very good actor. I must say that I prefer her to Clara.
Heh – I suspect “fake news central” is a sly insider’s dig at the BBC, as well as, of course, a comment on the Trump era (humanity not learning from its previous mistakes re dictators, as per the Doctor and Bill’s closing conversation).
I’ve very much enjoyed the story thread developing over several episodes, and, well, who doesn’t love a zombie monk.
i think there are deliberate echoes in this, Moffat’s final season, of his “glory” moments past, from his writers’ team. For instance, the Doctor tied up and begging Bill not to fry her brain by merging with zombie monk central strongly recalled, for me, David Tenant’s Doctor in the same position, at River’s death scene in Silence in the Library/ Forest of the Dead. And of course, a nod here also to Moffat’s most iconic original “monster” – the Weeping Angels.
Capaldi and Gomez are mesmerising to watch together. Her version of the Master is just delicious. And of course, Missy’s weepy remorse scene is an act – pul-ea-ase. Is the Doctor actually falling for it, though?
Some cheesy elements to be sure – Bill’s image of her Mum as the love-saves-the-day sub-routine and Missy’s enclosure somewhat resembling Hannbal Lecter’s.
Still, overall, I’d say this was a lovely little gem of an episode, myself. I did gasp when I saw the regeneration energy just in case they were pulling a shocker, and smart one Bill – did you notice she shot him in both hearts? No flies on her.
Even Nardole didn’t irritate me too much this week. Although, his dating history is ever more ridiculous.
Oh and (edit) I forgot to add, that for those still playing the spot the Who/ Sherlock cross-ver references – there was the Vitruvian Man (which appears in Sherlock’s The Sign of Three) with the monk’s face superimposed on it. For those of us still hoping S4 of Sherlock was an altered reality (thanks to TD-12 etc.) this could be taken as another little hint, given the altered reality theme of this Who episode.25 April 2017 at 21:43 #56721
The “meaningless clues” vs “extra level of detail” debate re Moffat and teams’ work (on Who and Sherlock) does get to the heart of one of the elements of his work which can be both wonderful and infuriating.
Sometimes the clues have really gone somewhere, narratively speakng, like the build up to ganger Amy – first introducing gangers as a concept, then the TARDIS reading of Amy in two states, pregnant and not pregnant, leading eventually to ganger Amy herself.
Sometimes, like the tarot iconography last season, they have added another interpretive layer to the narrative without being plot-essential.
I really enjoy both of these varieties of “clue”.
And sometimes, as happened in Sherlock S4 in my view, they wrap their fingers round the throat of the narrative and strangle it (the sharks, Chekhov’s rifle, TD-12) because they are Schrodinger’s clues which mean everything and, apparently, nothing.
I think it’s because there’s a flip between leaving a trail of bread-crumbs for those so inclined (such as ourselves) to follow (in which case there is an invitation to “play with”) and leaving a trail of blind-alleys and dead-ends (in which case there is an invitation to “play against” – sort ot indecipherable text vs detective audience, where the writers aim to “win” by producing an insoluble puzzle). I prefer the “playing with” to “playing against” form of engagement.24 April 2017 at 18:54 #56655
Fair enough – true the last frost fair was twenty years before Victoria ascended the throne.
I wonder if the Doctor is going to run into River (or most likely, see her from a distance – ouch – clutches heart). She returned to the Storm Cage after a visit with the Doctor to one of the frost fairs in A Good Man Goes to War.
Nice spot in terms of The Raft of the Medusa (and that painting is from the same period as the last frost fair).
That means we now have two shipwrecks – last week’s Marie Celeste and this week’s Medusa, together with two self-portraits, last week’s Rembrandt and this week’s Van Gogh. A wrecked ship and a self-portrait?
Perhaps what’s in that vault is the Valeyard’s wrecked TARDIS?
@Thane15 Hi Puro – Yes, Cosey was a very engaging speaker. Emotionally honest and and also fun. Her autobiography sounds like a great read. On my list.23 April 2017 at 21:50 #56617
Bit late to the party – was out listening to Cosi Fanni Tutti last night (the experimental musician/ artist, not the opera).
@mersey now that is interesting – second self portrait. I wonder if the Doctor’s 13th incarnation (The Valeyard) is locked in that vault?! Which would be the Doctor keeping watch over a self-portrait, of sorts.
I refuse to believe Moffat would pass up the chance to visit the delicious story-telling the Valeyard offers – it’s such a great development from the past just waiting to be told in the now. Maybe not, however, given that we’ve been through a “dark Doctor” War Doctor story throught the Nu Who arc…
As for Erehwon @phaseshift I haven’t read it. BUT it’s a rich title to have referenced. It was a written (in 1872) as a satire on Victorian society, and lo and behold, Victorian London is the Doctor’s next stop.
Also, apparently, Butler was the first to write about the fact that machines might develop consciousness by Darwinian selection. There are no machines in Erewhon because the populace deemed them dangerous.
So the future Erewhon the Doctor and Bill visit is a reverse-mirror of the 1872 Erewhon is some respects. Machines have indeed evolved as feared – the nano-bot robotic Vada are a new species.
A reverse mirror – another Valeyard clue (the Valeyard being the dark reverse reflection of the Doctor in his other incarnations)?15 April 2017 at 22:02 #56223
I did also notice that the words “Marie Celeste” were on the walls of the vault as Bill crept down the stairs to see what the Doctor and Nardole were up to.
A mysteriously wrecked ship…. Time-lordy perhaps.
But interestingly, one Arthur Conan Doyle apparently (thanks Wikipedia) published a re-telling of the story of the Marie Celeste in 1884 in The Cornhill magazine, titled J.Habakuk Jephson’s Statement.
Probably just Moffat messing with us, with a wee bit of meta-textual cross-over.15 April 2017 at 20:45 #56215
Hi everyone <waves excitedly>
Well Peter Capaldi is giving the best Doctor of his life.
I love him as a university tutor in his musty old-skool office (blimey I don’t think it’s that posh at Bristol) with photos of River and Susan his grand-daughter on his desk (awww – emotional progress!) playing rock guitar in the back. Heh – bet he doesn’t answer his e-mail.
Those photos juxtaposed gave me a timey-wimey thrill. Maybe River and the Doctor did have a kid and Susan is their grand-daughter – huh. Yes, I know Eleven didn’t know who River was and if she’d shacked up with Doctor One that shouldn’t be the case – but hello Time-Lordy mind-wipe.
I’m in love with Bill already. Pearl Mackie gives her the most winning curiosity. She’s obviously an accomplished actor, as this first episode certainly put her through her paces – from dealing with her somewhat feckless adoptive Mum, to crushing over the girl with the star in her eye, to experiencing the TARDIS for the first time (I’m betting she got thoroughly lost looking for the loo).
The Doctor, sentimental creature, nipping back in time to take some pictures of Bill’s Mum for her and then popping them in a shoe-box for her to find. What a softie!
Nardole wasn’t too annoying (I’m not a particular fan) and the water-alien was pretty nifty CGI.
The sequence where the Doctor takes them into an old battle of his with the Daleks (was that on Skaro?) was genuinely scary, because it gave a really sharp window into what a terrifying creature the Doctor himself can be. Running straight into Dalek fire with young Bill? Tsk Doctor, your thrill-seeking reckless self is showing. Bill, so innocent, is excited not scared. She has not yet learned what a Dalek really is.
That end of the universe planet with the waving purple cactus plants looked an awful lot like the place Eleven took Rose where she saw the flying sting-ray. Intentional call-back (Army of Ghosts, 2×12)? Certainly Bill serving chips was a deliberate Rose call-back (remember when she served them undercover in the episode in which she met Sarah Jane (School Reunion 2×03)?
I love that Bill is LGBT and I love that there won’t be any romantic undertones between the Doctor and this companion on either side. That’s a first since Donna.
All in all, a pretty delightful opener.
Oh, and what the frilly heck is in that vault?20 February 2017 at 19:55 #55614
To return to our discussions about the Hewlett interviews on Radio 4 with Eddie Mare @craig @thane15 and others – sadly PM announced today that Hewlett died this morning in hospital.
Lots of moving tributes from his journalist colleagues, as well as an outpouring from R4 listeners on Twitter.
He would be pleased, I think, that his last journalistic impact resonated so widely.
Our journey through life and death is, for certain, better for the company of others alongside us.13 February 2017 at 21:16 #55537
I’ve been listening to it too – Mair is an excellent interviewer striking just the right tone for Hewlett I think.
Apparently the Royal Marsden has been flooded with letters for Hewlett from R4 listeners.
Hewlett talked a little bit today about being aware of the impact of his PM interviews and what it’s like to be part of what has become a “major news story”.
Even the Daily Fail covered it sympathetically yesterday without bashing either the BBC or the Guardian (whilst quoting a Guardian story). Wonders will never cease!
It is ground-breaking radio and it must be, as a broadcaster, a really moving experience, when you know your craft (even at death’s door) is impacting so significantly.
We (meaning the Brits) rarely talk publicly about cancer and of course so many are affected. We, perhaps even more rarely, talk about death. In some ways I think the Victorians “did” death better than us – with their mourning clothes, their publc acknowlegment of the time-span of mourning (a long time – not just a couple of weeks).
Very sorry you had to go through that with your wife.
Mortality is very difficult to wrap one’s head around.12 February 2017 at 23:56 #55531
Did you miss me
Delighted to have you back… glad things feel a bit less grim, despite the new world order of “alternative facts”.
Interesting re Moffat’s Sherlock and Who as written in parallel and their inter-textual relationship with one another.
Hypertext is specifically a word from a digital text context, so I’m not sure I’d call them hypertexts of each other, although that’s a perfectly reasonable slippage.
They are somewhat written in conversation with one another, in the same way that some of Shakespeare’s sonnets clearly “speak to each other”. 29 and 30 are often considered a particular pair, but the whole sequence of “dark lady” and “fair youth” sonnets are also linked. However, they are “same universe”, whereas Moffat’s Who and Sherlock are not. As in, these Moffat texts do not canonically cross-over (yet!) although – on poor Anderson’s wall of theories in The Empty Hearse there is a drawing of a TARDIS for the eagle-eyed!
Now that you come to mention this intertextuality, I think this year’s Who Christmas Special, The Return of Doctor Mysterio, very deliberately referenced the Sherlock subtext upcomng in S4, which, as we look back after the three S4 episodes (still holding out for a fourth Lost Special) is very apparent.
Two people who live together, Lucy and Grant, one of them has a baby (the other parent is absent) and the other has extraordinary powers. Well, hello John and Sherlock at the end of The Final Problem (whether that ending is in-show “real world” or John’s injured brain fantasy).
Lucy and Grant are secretly in love with each other, but neither has admitted it to the other until the Doctor plays match-maker (and Lucy has not admitted it to herself yet either). Again, for subtext readers of Sherlock, hello John and Sherlock. Grant’s sexuality (in his persona as The Ghost) is the subject of public speculation because he flies around town with a big “G” on his chest (heh). Hello Sherlock, whose sexuality has been the subtext of much in-show speculation (just to give one example -remember Kitty the reporter in The Reichenbach Fall cornering Sherlock in the loos to ask “You and John Watson – just platonic?”).
I won’t even go into all the ways in which ghosts in literature have historically stood in for sexual “deviance” of some kind (then perceived as such).
Plus – for really Inception-level inter-textuality – Nardole is seen holding a toy stuffed elephant at one point in The Return of Doctor Mysterio. Elephants have been a big feature of Sherlock’s set-dressing narrative since The Sign of Three when Sherlock mentioned the case “The Elephant in the Room” during his wedding speech. In subtext, that elephant is of course, Sherlock and John’s romantic feelings for one another. In particular, in The Abominable Bride, an elephant ornament falls from the mantel-piece in Baker Street as Victorian Sherlock makes the final transition to modern day Sherlock (suggesting, to subtext readers, that perhaps the constraints of 1895 can be thrown off in the present).
Then there’s the question of whether Sherlock S4 messes with time significantly. Culverton hints that some of our (viewer) memories “may also be corrupted” with his little fourth wall break. Is time squiffy, nay timey-wimey, in S4? I suspect it is (one possibility being that John is shot in the head and lying in a coma throughout) and thus not only does The Return of Doctor Mysterio reference the subtext of Sherlock, but the subtext of Sherlock S4 references all the timey-wimeyness of Moffat’s tenure on Who.
Yes, I think Moffat was having more than a little inter-textual fun with Who/ Sherlock this year.
Re the question of established “real world” and Sherlock S4. I certainly do not mean to suggest that BBC Sherlock’s world is equivalent to our “real world”. And your point about Sherlock’s fantasy life (perhaps in keeping with his romantic attachment to being a pirate) as peopled by arch-nemeses etc, perhaps in a rather Bond-esque fashion, is well made.
However, what I mean is that several key established elements of BBC Sherlock are broken so spectacularly in The Final Problem that I see them as part of the fabric of hints that we should read that episode as “mind palace” (perhaps Sherlock’s but likely John’s).
For example, we know from His Last Vow that John Watson can break every bone in a man’s body while naming them (he threatens Billy at the smack-den with this). Yet, down the well in The Final Problem he cannot distinguish between dog and human bones (initially).
To give another example, John whispers “Vatican Cameos” to Sherlock via ear-piece (whilst Sherlock is visiting Eurus alone in her cell). We know that’s their mutual code-word for “someone’s going to die” (ergo take immediate action) as established in A Scandal in Belgravia and explicitly in The Sign of Three. Yet Sherlock ignores this signal from John and takes his earpiece out in The Final Problem.
It’s because I think the show is breaking its own codes of “reality” so flagrantly in The Final Problem that I see a reading of it as “mind palace” rather than in-show “real world” as likely, in particular given the precedent for such mind-palace incursions set by The Abominable Bride.
I enjoyed your meditations on Bond and Sherlock S4 a lot.
But, I don’t think they stand in opposition to a reading of S4 as wholly or partly taking place in an altered state (some combination of TD-12 drugging of John and Sherlock, or injured John/ drugged Sherlock mind-palace). And in fact, in the Sherlock official para-text, John Watson’s Blog, which was kept by Joe Lidster officially for the BBC throughout S1-3 (part of the mystery of S4 being the blog header saying “John Watson is no longer updating this blog”) has John specifically mentioning James Bond and promising Sherlock a “Bond night” as Sherlock (in keeping with his habit of deleting “useless” information from his “hard drive”) was clueless about the character:
More evidence I think that the Bond-esque flavour to S4 may indicate a John Watson mind-palace POV rather than in-show “real world”.
And on that note I will cease my musings on the Who/ Sherlock space/time continuum for the night!
Welcome back 🙂
@TheConsultingDoctor <waves> just to note your point about Eurus as one of four Greek Gods of the winds, the Anemoi, yes indeed – more evidence pointing to a fourth episode perhaps, rather than a fourth Holmes sibiling necessarily.6 February 2017 at 16:16 #55443
aqua @ichabod – solidarity from this side of the pond.
I was very impressed by the Women’s March, and the Science March on DC planned for Earth Day (April 22nd) is an excellent way to oppose the global impact of Trump’s pro-oil climate change irresponsibility. There are sister marches in a number of other countries planned already. I will try and make it to the London one:
The Doctor would approve, I’ve no doubt.
@TheConsultingDoctor – good idea to check what’s happening at minute 40 in the original Study In Pink pilot (it’s an extra on the second DVD of S1 of Sherlock). I’ve checked and in that version (unlike in the eventually broadcast finished version of Study in Pink) the taxi driver serial killer drugs Sherlock and abducts him – and he drugs him (we see the needle sticking out of his neck) at 40 mins in!
So – that brings the TD-12 theory to the fore re S4 – the idea that S4 is “corrupted” (as Culverton says) because our POV (perhaps a mixture of Sherlock and John’s POVs) has been drugged. Of course it also leaves the Sherlock is still drugged on the plane at the end of His Last Vow and the whole of S4 takes place in his drugged mind theory very much in play too.
Either way, I firmly believe that the “reality” we see in S4 is corrupted one way or another – whether the entirety is in Sherlock’s drugged Mind Palace (as perhaps this minute 40 clue suggests) or whether it’s a combo of John and Sherlock’s drugged POV’s and John’s injured Mind Palace in The Final Problem.5 February 2017 at 22:16 #55436
@ichabod – ah – it’s certainly a time for choosing sides – I can’t help (in a time-travelley way) thinking about the historians of the future, and how this period (of Brexit, resurgent nationalisms, and Trump) will be viewed from their place in the space/time continuum.
@TheConsultingDoctor – that’s a nice take on Sonnet 40 – it’s also about a love triangle (so the scholars say) which suggests the “fair youth” has seduced the poet’s lady love.
That perhaps ties into the Mary as a villain theory – there was certainly a love-triangle vibe coming off The Six Thatchers (Sherlock-John-Mary). That some of those late-night texts of John’s might have been to Sherlock and not Eurus is certainly a space left in the narrative.
I still wonder if we are going to find out that Eurus does not physically exist but is a mental construct of John or Sherlock or both (drugged on TD-12).
I think the Mary as secret villain theory is highly convincing given that she was coded as a villain in so many ways in S3, from the horns framing in The Sign of Three, to the fact that, as it turns out, she was still lying to John and Sherlock even when supposedly fessing up in His Last Vow – i.e. AGRA was not in fact, her initials, to the turn-ups on her jeans (also in that scene) as a call-back to Sherlock deducing in The Great Game that someone was not the parent of a child (because the turn-ups on their jeans indicated they were gay) – i.e. that perhaps baby Rosie was not John’s.
Mary as Moriarty’s plan to burn the heart out of Sherlock would be much more narratively satisfying than the current state of affairs.