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    Mudlark @replies

    Just in case there is anyone unaware of the context of the video I posted above, it is the finale of the concert Roy Orbison and Friends: a Black and White Night, an assembly of the great and the good which is well worth checking out.

    Mudlark @replies


    Watching the Orange Aberration droning about his devotion to the environment at Davos whilst knowing how his administration (if it can be dignified with that term) has gutted the departments and legislative measures set in place to protect the health of the environment in the USA, that Tom Lehrer song was what came immediately to mind 🙁

    Mudlark @replies


    As you are presumably aware how ancient I am it will probably not come as a surprise that the music which is most evocative for me is of the period roughly from the late 1950s to the early 1970s so, off the top of my head, including Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Dusty Springfield, the whole Folk revival scene, The Animals,The Kinks, The Beatles, The Stones, etc. etc. Not that I have been totally switched off since then, but this forum is proving an education 🙂 Voices have always been an important factor for me and I very much liked Tom Jones’s voice, though not so much his choice of songs. And if you were as young as you imply, I very much hope that you didn’t understand the lyrics of Delilah !

    But for the ultimate jam session there is this

    And this particular song has a Doctor Who connection, since it is referenced in The Magician’s Apprentice.

    And for anyone who hasn’t seen the whole thing, the backing singers included k.d.lang

    Mudlark @replies

    @miapatrick @bluesqueakpip

    The possibility that it involved some jiggery-pokery with time did flit across my mind but I dismissed it, perhaps over hastily, as a time-loop too far.  But then again,  why not give it a whirl.

    In a possible future or alternative time line, ape-descendants on or from earth discover the principles of time travel and develop the technology to exploit it. Along comes an unprincipled race of space travelling humanoids who pirate the technology and appropriate the means to use it, presumably including the eye of harmony and means of access to the untempered schism, then scuttle back  with the whole kit and caboodle into the far distant past and establish Time Lord civilisation on Gallifrey.

    Question: do these piratical proto-Time Lords originate on Gallifrey-future and travel back along their own time line and beyond to the past of their own planet, or do they originate elsewhere and choose Gallifrey as a suitable base to establish their new order?  If the former, then it creates a major paradox which, as you suggest @miapatrick , implies a divergent time line in which the existence of the Time Lords depends on ancestors in a future which no longer exists.  If the latter, then I suppose the Time Lords could exist alongside their future ancestors, but I doubt if they are on speaking terms 🙂  Either way, it probably needs one of @bluesqueakpip ‘s diagrams to sort it out.



    Mudlark @replies


    As I said, there is no reason that your theory shouldn’t be feasible in the Whoniverse 🙂  The temptation to nit-pick has, however, always been my fatal and irritating flaw 😈

    Consider me well and truly slapped down and contrite.

    Mudlark @replies


    It has just occurred to me that there may be another problem with your theory. It rather depends on when, exactly, the Time Lords originated, and that seems to be difficult to pin down given their ability to manipulate time once they achieved or acquired the technology.  Modern humans date back only a few tens of thousands of years, while Silurians might have been around between 100 to 60 million years ago. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I seem to recall that there have been indications that the Time Lords were around well before that, or at least have been tinkering with events for far longer.

    Mudlark @replies


    That trailer gives me a slight tingle up the spine, so I hope that it lives up to its promise. It certainly makes me look forward to next Sunday’s episode with more optimism, because the Judoon don’t rank among my favourite alien monsters and I wasn’t very hopeful.

    Mudlark @replies


    What if the Time Lords stole the secret of time travel from humans, at a stage of development long preceding our understanding of Earth’s history?

    As a theory that is impressively bonkers and yet I could see it working in the Whoniverse. There is, however, a tiny problem from my professional point of view. History – i.e. the documented past – isn’t the only record, and that is where archaeology and related disciplines come in.  Sadly there is nothing in the archaeological, palaeontological or geological record to indicate that humans ever attained such a high degree of knowledge and civilisation.

    Alternatively,  it could have been the Silurians whose technology the Time Lords stole; but that would be difficult to prove given that they also managed somehow to erase their existence from the archaeological/palaeontological/geological record.

    Mudlark @replies


    Thanks for that; it certainly succeeded in raising a smile, although it also has the disconcerting effect of assembling the word salad into something which seems to make sense.  Normally just the sound of *that* voice brings me out in a rash, and any attempt to parse what he says gives me a headache!

    As an aside, I like the moniker. I do my best for frog conservation in my garden, with moderate success, and I’m all in favour of peace, whether on a world scale or on this forum.

    Mudlark @replies

    It is entertaining to speculate about historical persons who might have been influenced by time travellers from their futures. I particularly like the idea that Francis Bacon – the 13th century Franciscan friar aka Doctor Mirabilis, not the 17th century essayist – might have had such an encounter, he seems so much ahead of his time in his thinking. The mundane fact is probably that he was simply very well read and made good use of the writings of ancient Greek philosophers and the writings of the Arab scholars who preserved and developed those writings.

    Nevertheless, think of the numbers of exceptional people whose visionary ideas were never realised simply because in their time the technology did not exist to bring those ideas to fruition. In a science fantasy world in which time travel is possible, maybe that is how the time paradox is resolved 🙂

    Mudlark @replies

    @jimthefish  @juniperfish  @bluesqueakpip

    Yes, mindwiping is a hugely problematic concept because it is an assault on the person at a very fundamental level, and the Doctor, as a moral being with high ideals, should be above that. But how many assaults on individuals or societies as a collective have been perpetrated ‘for your own good’ or ‘for the greater good’ by well intentioned people? And the Doctor, however intelligent, however ancient and experienced, and even with a vast store of knowledge of the universe and of multiple species and societies, is still fallible. That is the point; it has never been claimed that he/she is a super hero with an unerring sense of right and wrong. One has only to go back to the Doctor in 1963 to see that this has never been the case, and that insofar as he/she has grown in moral stature since then, it has been a gradual process. Furthermore, the role the Time Lords are supposed to have conceived for themselves was as monitors of time, intervening from on high to correct deviations; and although the Doctor is a maverick, he/she originally underwent that training and conditioning.

    If, on the other hand,  we overlook the ethical issues and consider mindwiping simply as a narrative device, and if it is assumed that time is a linear progression of cause and effect ad infinitum, it has an obvious function. Because if there are people racketing around across the whole of time and space you need to have a means of preventing the kind of paradoxes they may create simply by their encounters with people who will have a critical effect on the future of technology or society or the course of history as a whole. If, on the other hand, time is a ‘wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey’ affair in which alternative futures can be generated at every critical nexus, which is also very much a concept within the Doctor Who canon, then this is less of a concern and mindwiping is far more difficult to justify even ‘for the greater good’.

    One can attempt to rationalise the ways in which mindwiping has been used in various episodes, but in such a long-running show with so many writers, editors and show runners, it is hardly surprising if there is a lack of consistency. In the case of Donna it was a tragic necessity, because the alternative was for her mind to burn out, unable to sustain ‘Doctor-Donna’.  The twelfth Doctor intended to block Clara’s memories of him and their time together for her protection and for his own (and which was foremost in his subconscious intention?) . In other instances the reasoning is less clear cut, and I’m not sure that is a productive use of time to worry over the whys and why nots, although in considering this episode and Spyfall, I like @bluesqueakpip ‘s suggestion.



    Mudlark @replies


    Not to mention a pioneer PC operating system dubbed QDOS, bought for a song, which became the foundation of a multi-billion software empire 😉

    Mudlark @replies


    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.

    But who’s to say whether that technology was not also ‘borrowed’ ?

    The Doctor said that the Skithra were a hive species, therefore implying that they operated as if they were a single coordinated organism, in this case directed by a queen who is the only individual with full agency, so that killing the queen will leave the worker Skithra completely incapacitated*. Even if the queen herself were intelligent and fully sentient, that would surely be a major inhibiting factor in their ability as a species to innovate or to develop the inventions of others.

    *Just as a hive of bees becomes completely disorganised and dysfunctional if the queen bee is killed.

    Mudlark @replies

    This was certainly an improvement on last week’s episode, and it is good to see Tesla take centre stage, with references to pretty much every visionary project on which  he worked  – and mostly failed to profit from or even be given the credit for until long after his death. In that context the Niagara generator might seem a bit of an irrelevance, since as far as I’m aware his involvement in that project was chiefly as a consultant and advisor on which AC system would most effectively transmit power from the generator once built*, but I suppose it made a suitably striking image with which to introduce the episode.

    When he was working on wireless transmission apparently he did think at one point that he had picked up extra-terrestrial signals, which could in fact have been Marconi’s early attempts at terrestrial transmission (were they even aware of one another’s work in this field at this time?). And in the end, of course, Marconi got all the credit and the benefit.

    The not-so-sub-textual parallel between the Skithra as plunderers and exploiters of other people’s technology and people such as Edison, who built his fortune chiefly by seizing on and developing the ideas and inventions of others was quite neatly done, and there are modern equivalents who come to mind 😈

    *Others here may know better than I on this point.



    Mudlark @replies

    As I don’t subscribe to Amazon Prime and so didn’t watch Good Omens when first shown, it has been one of the more cheering discoveries of the post-Christmas season to find Good Omens being shown on BBC. Enough, along with the new series of Doctor Who of course,  to rouse me temporally from my seasonal dormouse syndrome torpor at any rate.

    Mudlark @replies

    @thane16 @bluesqueakpip

    ‘Qu’ils mangent de la brioche’* certainly shouldn’t be attributed to Marie Antoinette, since it was originally quoted in the autobiography of Jean-Jacques Rousseau where it is attributed only to ‘a great princess’, and this was written before Marie Antoinette even arrived in France. It has been suggested that it was in fact said by Marie-Thérèse, wife of Louis XIV, but that is probably no more reliable an attribution. Poor Marie Antoinette was as much a victim of circumstances as anything, and a good deal of the vilification she endured during and after the Revolution was founded in xenophobia as much as her royal status – ‘l’autrichienne’ and so forth. And it isn’t as if she had much choice when she was married off to a French prince. She was only what? Fourteen?

    One explanation for the apocryphal saying that I read, I forget where or when, was that there was at one time an ordinance in Paris that if bakers ran out of ordinary bread during the day they must sell more expensive breads at the same price, which would mean that it was a somewhat less callous or ignorant observation, but I have never come across any documentation confirming this.

    * ‘Let them eat cake’ is perhaps slightly misleading as a translation, since I would have thought that brioche is more accurately defined as a type of bread made with an enriched dough. More expensive, yes, but not exactly cake either.

    Mudlark @replies


    Meanwhile on this side of the Pond, with Brexit looming and our very own irresponsible mophead and his crew in charge, this comes to mind.

    Not that I dislike my home city (where, for what it’s worth, a clear majority voted to remain in the EU), but if I were younger and had the opportunity ….

    Mudlark @replies


    Either way, as the slogan for a certain UK cell phone network proclaimed a few years ago, ‘The future’s bright, the future’s Orange’ , but I’m thinking heavily smoked glass rather than shades 🙂

    Mudlark @replies


    Not sure what happened there, but the video didn’t embed. Try again

    Mudlark @replies


    Let us hope that the Mango Mussolini may at least be distracted from pressing the Button (no, not the one to summon his Diet Cokes) or

    Mudlark @replies


    how do people expect anyone to be convinced about the science of climate change when the production team are apparently unaware that fire needs oxygen and the writer knows so little science they don’t realise an apex predator is at the top of a food chain?

    Excellent point.  As I wrote above, strict scientific plausibility is not essential to the majority of Doctor Who stories, but it is a very different matter when scientific accuracy is essential to a message they are trying to convey. In such cases would it break the budget to employ a scientific advisor?


    Mudlark @replies


    about eight years ago I attained* an external hard drive with every Dr Who Show ever shown up until that point.

    If so, the BBC, not to mention myriads of fans, would be delighted to know, because BBC practice during the 1960s was to wipe recordings and reuse the tapes, and there are a great many Doctor Who episodes from that period which are not known to survive 😈  No such thing as a hard drive in those days (and yes, I am more than old enough to remember those days very clearly).

    * I suspect you mean obtained, and I have corrected the typo which follows. Sorry, such slips tend to bring out the pedant in me.

    Mudlark @replies


    Doctor Who … did give me an interest in history and science which got me to read a lot more.

    And if it did that it achieved exactly what it was meant to do in the original conception. It wasn’t intended to instruct in didactic fashion, it was intended to inspire.

    Have you seen An Adventure in Time and Space, the drama about the shows origins and early days? If not, it might give you a clearer perspective.

    Mudlark @replies


    Doctor Who may be allowed considerable latitude with regard to strict scientific plausibility but, yes, from the most remotely scientific viewpoint this episode was cringe inducing. Even the ‘science’ of Kill The Moon could be rationalised up to a point, and was in any case less critical to the theme of the episode as a whole. Generally I try to pick out what is positive about any episode, particularly because I know that I am a little biased against Chibnall as a writer and showrunner in this context,  but there have been several occasions since he took over when my reaction to the ‘scientific’ premise has been, What the … ?

    Maybe the writer and Chibnall  et al. missed out on elementary science at school, or more likely they thought that the message was all that mattered and that scary monsters and a blizzard of action would be enough to blind people to the implausibility of the premise.

    In any case, if any life form survives the apocalypse and ultimate trashing of the planet, everyone knows it will be the cockroaches 😉

    Mudlark @replies


    … she also recognised that people reacted to her superficially because of her looks, so her sense of self-worth was actually quite disturbed,

    Yes to that. I have the impression that our reading of Lucy is not in fact very different; it’s just our understanding of the meaning of ‘depressed’. To me that word denotes clinical depression, and although I understand that this can go with feelings of a lack of self worth or give rise to them, they are not necessarily concomitant.

    The symptoms of clinical depression don’t always include suicidal thoughts and feelings of hopelessness,  but they do generally include a flattening and shutting down of emotional response and a difficulty of engaging fully with the outer world.  I doubt if any sufferer could fake the degree of vivacity and animation that Lucy displayed unless they were on extremely effective medication – and there was no indication that this was the case*. It seems simpler to explain her behaviour as a conscious or unconscious way of masking and compensating for her feelings of insecurity.

    *But with only limited experience to go on I’m no expert,  and I’m open to correction.

    Mudlark @replies


    Wholly in agreement on the BBC’s radical adaptation of A Christmas Carol. I was out of the country during Christmas week, but recorded this, Dracula and more and came back to a televisual feast.

    His Dark Materials was also something to be savoured, the more so because it led me to re-read the books with far greater enjoyment and appreciation than the first time, when I’m ashamed to say I was not especially impressed (maybe not in the right frame of mind).

    Mudlark @replies


    It wasn’t just Planet of the Apes which came to mind; there was more than a hint of Alien in the editing of the first appearance of the Dregs as they invaded the dome, before they were revealed as humanoid in body.

    … only this time it’s environmental apocalypse rather than nuclear apocalypse

    It was shown to be both, I think.  Environmental catastrophe -> large areas of the planet uninhabitable -> mass migration of survivors on an unsustainable scale -> social and political chaos ->war …. ?  I would have to watch again to be absolutely certain, but I’m pretty sure that the Doctor’s explanation evoked a glimpse of a nuclear explosion .  The message was delivered with all the subtlety of a steam hammer which will doubtless annoy a lot of people,  but then the time for subtlety is probably long past.

    The pace of the action was surely hectic enough to hold the attention and satisfy even the adrenaline junkies, and there was a lot of running in corridors for the traditionally minded. Amid the mayhem the brief interludes centred on the relationships between individuals were a useful counterpoint and a chance to focus on the personal,  and the exchanges between Ryan and Bella were particularly telling since it expanded on what we have already learned about Ryan.  The word Orphan in the title can also be seen as having a particular resonance in relation to those two, since Bella is alienated from an absent mother, while Ryan’s mother died early on and his father has largely been missing from his life.


    Mudlark @replies

    @juniperfish  @nerys

    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.

    And, might that be the big lie? Was something done to that child to steal him/her away?

    I still very much doubt whether this has anything to do with any child the Doctor may have had, with or without the Master, even if it relates tangentially to the Doctor. But today I did something which maybe I should have done before I first contributed my ha’p’orth to the discussion; I looked up the transcript of the relevant exchange in The Ghost Monument, rather than relying on my memory alone.

    Remnant: We see deeper, though, further back. The Timeless Child.

    The Doctor: What are you talking about? What can you see?

    Remnant: We see what’s hidden even from yourself, the outcast, abandoned and unknown.

    The Doctor: Get out of my head.

    To me that reads as ambiguous. The outcast referred to could be the Doctor as a child, the solitary child who cried himself to sleep in the barn; either an orphan or sent away from home to be trained as a soldier or initiated as a Time Lord. And the training and initiation of a child as a Time Lord seems to have been pretty abusive, even if not normally to the extent of the abuse the Master suffered. The Doctor’s reaction certainly suggests that it may have hit a very personal nerve.

    On the other hand the outcast could be the Timeless Child and refer to the kind of myth that I suggested previously, and that is more consistent with what the Master says in his hologram message; the implication being that the truth underlying the myth was not as the Doctor and the Master at least, and perhaps all Time Lords, were taught or conditioned to believe. In which case, I agree, the parallel with the child in Omelas could stand up to a point. It is perhaps significant that the Master’s words evoked a flash of visual memory for the Doctor, suggesting some kind of embedded, perhaps racial memory, and we know that the Doctor was exposed at a fairly early age to the Matix, which is/was in part the collective memory of the Time Lords.

    Mudlark @replies


    Spellcheck or autocorrupt.  Sometimes it is best just to disable them and resort to an old fashioned dictionary printed on dead trees 🙂

    Mudlark @replies


    What if the Child is effectively physically harnessed to all Time Lords  -their very ability to be TLs contingent upon the role of the Child to exist across all dimensions & eternally?

    I really like that idea, not least because it is compatible with my theory and also with the idea that the Time Lords are the result of radical genetic manipulation. The question remains, though, whether this is part of  what the Time Lords have always believed about their origins, or whether it is part of a lie which undermines their very sense of identity, and I’m inclined to think the latter. I’m less sure of whether Le Guin’s fable is a relevant analogy other than it involves a child. The happiness and well-being of the people of Omelas depends on the child being utterly isolated and neglected from birth; fed and kept alive but imprisoned in squalor and deprived of any human contact, stimulus or material comfort. If the glimpse we had in the images triggered by the reference in the Doctor’s mind is anything to go by, the Child appeared to be richly, even ceremonially dressed and situated in the open beside a monumental building.


    Welcome to the forum and the world of bonkers and sometimes not-quite-so-bonkers theories.

    As far as I am aware there has never been any indication that a traveller in a Tardis can watch the acceleration of time into the future, like the traveller in Wells’s Time Machine, or watch it unravelling into the past. As @fatmaninabox has said, the theory of relativity and the laws of physics as understood so far would allow us  to travel forward in time but not back, but the Doctor by his/her own account has witnessed the beginning and the end of the universe, and we have been shown something of that in various episodes.

    In the original concept, travel in time and space was simply a convenient device to further the aims of the show in engaging a prospective young teenage audience with historical and scientific topics in an entertaining way, without any regard for what was scientifically plausible.  Fifty six years down the line we just have to accept that the Time Lords found some way to circumvent the currently known laws of the physical universe. In The Doctor’s Wife the Tardis, as embodied in Idris, made it clear that she didn’t really understand the human concept of time*. She appeared to see the three spatial dimensions and the dimension(s) of time as a single four dimensional environment, a sea in which she could navigate in any direction.

    The First Doctor was adamant that the past could not and should not be interfered with or altered in the slightest particular by any time traveller, but Moffat had a ball playing with the whole concept of time travel in his looping narratives. In his scenarios Gallifrey, thanks to the Doctor, could be simultaneously destroyed and not destroyed in the Time War, and both concepts remain true as far as the external universe was concerned. This could turn out to be another case of a Schroedinger’s Gallifrey, assuming that Chibnall is able to conceive and carry off such a convoluted arc.


    *In The Day of the Doctor, the Moment had the same  problem.

    Mudlark @replies

    @thane16 @bluesqueakpip @juniperfish and anyone else who has been speculating about the Timeless Child and whom I may have overlooked.

    Given the context of the references and the hints dropped, and after mulling over the question in what passes for my mind these days, I have ended up with a strong sense that the Timeless Child is/was  some kind of foundational myth in Time Lord society; the myth of a child, perhaps born in extraordinary circumstances, who had extraordinary powers. Such powers might have been an innate ability to manipulate time, or simply to pass through time unaffected by it, and so the Child, or the myth of such a child, became in some fashion the inspiration for Rassilon and Omega (and perhaps other ‘Founding Fathers’) to create the technology which made the Time Lords possible.

    At the very least it seems to be something which must lie at the base and origin of Time Lord society rather than something relating to the Doctor and/or the Master alone; something which cuts away the very roots of their sense of identity.  The Master has never in our acquaintance with him been exactly sane, and the abuse and trauma which sent him over the edge means that he has always tended to overreact, but even so it would have to be a pretty horrific discovery to result in him destroying Gallifrey and thus his ultimate home.  The Doctor’s reaction to his revelations, whether true or based on misinformation, suggest that she, also, was profoundly disturbed.

    Come to that, has he incinerated the whole planet (and if so, how?), or just the Time Lord citadel?

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    Good to see you back again, and commiserations over the dysfunctional kidneys – quite enough to make life miserable, I know, and to explain your absence from the Forum. I hope that your reappearance means that they are now working as they should or are at least under control, and that you are feeling better.

    Yes, Dracula is brilliant. That together with the first episode of the new Doctor Who series constituted a very rich diet for the first day of a new year, but worth any indigestion.

    Mudlark @replies


    He makes her kneel to him, call him Master, just like previous incarnations would have done – and then he needs to talk to her and kneels down to do that.

    And that, as much as anything, seems to me evidence that this is a post-Missy incarnation. He can’t sustain the arch enemy act and succumbs to a need to engage with her on equal terms – or even as a reluctant supplicant. Simm Master was at a psychopathic extreme and took a sadistic delight in humiliating the tenth Doctor, reducing him at one point to a shrivelled homunculus in a cage and only switching allegiance when he realised that he wasn’t going to receive the benefits and rewards he expected from Rassilon; and his attitude when he encountered the twelfth Doctor does not suggest that this last minute switch altered him significantly.  In contrast, and in her uniquely perverse way, Missy was a flirtatious version who just wanted her friend back, even if it was strictly on her terms, and she treated him, friend or foe, as an equal throughout. When it came, finally, to a decision between the Doctor and her earlier incarnation she wavered on the brink of redemption and at the very last moment chose the Doctor, and the Dhawan Master seems not to have regressed far from that cusp.  His notably unstable state and partial reversion to a ‘despicable me’ act could be attributed to the trauma of his discoveries and actions in the interim .

    I doubt if those discoveries related to him alone, although in his worst incarnations he might well have been capable of incinerating his home planet in a fit of personal pique. The Timeless Child certainly doesn’t seem to refer to him alone, because when we first encounter the reference it is in the whispers of the Remnants as they wafted around the Doctor.


    Mudlark @replies

    In a second viewing it isn’t a surprise that the theme and the narrative thread were easier to follow, but the time-loopy resolution also seemed more logical and less of a rush.

    What struck even more forcefully than on first viewing, though, is the masterly (cough) way in which Sasha Dhawan  conveys the internal contradictions and warring motives which @bluesqueakpip discussed in her post above. The full-on metaphorical moustache-twirling seems a not altogether convincing act in which he is trying as much reassure himself and to live up a the image of what he thinks he should be as recalled from earlier incarnations, as he is to assert dominance over the Doctor; but an underlying doubt and insecurity keep breaking through.

    In the Gallery of Practical Science in 1843 he makes his entrance like the villain in a pantomime and, after theatrically disposing of a few random bystanders to demonstrate that he is still ‘not guid’, he tells the Doctor that in killing people he feels in his hearts he is doing what he was made for; but why, after so many successive lives, should he need such primal reassurance?  And when she nevertheless confronts him steadily, looking him in the eye and asking him what he wants, his expression flickers and falters for a moment, revealing his underlying uncertainty and self doubt. He recovers immediately and demands that the Doctor kneel, but even as she complies it does not feel as if he is really in control, and so it proves. Later, after he is unable to resist the invitation to a one to one meeting with the Doctor on top of the Eiffel Tower, he opens the dialogue by indulging in a moment of personal reminiscence, asking if she has forgiven him for Jodrell Bank (the climactic encounter in which the fourth Doctor fell to his regeneration, although I hardly think that anyone here needs the reminder).

    It is in his ultimate holographic appearance in the ruins of Gallifrey that his latent vulnerability is most apparent. He is half boasting that he has destroyed their home planet, but at the same time his distress is almost palpable and, although he could never bring himself to make things easy for her, I agree with Bluesqueakpip that it is fundamentally a plea for her to help him out of the colossal hole he has dug for himself.

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    I may have known who Ada Lovelace and Noor Inayat Khan were but, having just consulted what I wrote yesterday evening, I note that I wrote Child of Time* when I meant Timeless Child 😳  Tiredness or senility? It could be either, although I can still do the Times cryptic crosswords** so I I’m probably not yet totally gaga.

    * I did re-read the Josephine Tey novel with that title a few months ago, which might explain it. My mind resembles a rag-bag sometimes, or a slowly simmering pot of minestrone soup.

    ** No I don’t buy or subscribe to the Times, it’s owned by Murdoch. I do, however, buy the books of collected crosswords from time to time.

    Mudlark @replies

    In my case the couple of gins and tonics were before dinner, but I agree with @craig and @spider that, for my money, those two episodes are well above the standard of the last series and suggest that Chibnall is finally hitting his stride. Episode 1 as the opener was highly enjoyable and the Bond theme was fun with all the essential ingredients – improbable gadgets, a casino scene, car/motor bike chases and an evil genius. It was not particularly subtle; but then we haven’t been led to expect subtle from Chibbers, at least not at the same level as Moffat.  But this episode was somewhat more complex and in that respect better than the first, even if the resolution did smack a bit of ‘with one bound they were free’ – but then it was ever thus and nothing to get steamed up about.

    Ada Gordon/Lovelace and Noor Inayat Khan in the same episode? I’m delirious! and super smugly chuffed that I realised the identity of the woman in the bonnet within seconds, as soon as she told the Doctor that she thought the place they were in was her own mind (and before that the Doctor had muttered something about synapses, which should please @pedant ).

    The Master, once he revealed his identity did come across at first in rather Simm style manic super-villain mode, but then, towards the end, this façade (?) seemed to dissolve into something much more reflective and nuanced, perhaps presaging a resumption of the intricate love/hate dance with the Doctor.  Whether or not this is so, the evidence so far does point to a proper arc this series, and I was very happy to note that the Child of Time reference was picked up again, finally; it did seem too promising a hint to be dropped without further reference, and now it recurs in a context in which Gallifrey and the Time Lords are seemingly gone and everything about them was a lie. I can’t wait (salivating and rubbing hands emoji).

    There will no doubt be further thoughts but they will have to wait until I have had a good night’s sleep.


    Mudlark @replies

    @juniperfish has expressed beautifully almost everything I could wish to say about Dracula.  Gatiss and Moffat have done a brilliant job of adapting and expanding on the story and themes in the original book, even better than their take on Sherlock in the first series in my opinion; the transition at the end of the second episode from the late 19th century to the 21st century was very deftly managed and very effective and I was rivetted to the screen throughout.

    This was a Dracula I could really engage with or perhaps – channelling the Count – get my teeth into.  Here is the archetypal vampire conceived and fully realised as simultaneously magnetic, repellent and at times truly menacing, and Claes Bang has done a splendid job of portraying him. He is wholly, even flamboyantly self aware and ready with his knowing quips, yet without fundamental self knowledge because he cannot face what, at the core of his being, has driven him throughout the centuries; and he hates mirrors, not because he has no reflection, but because in them he sees something of the reality, ancient and horribly corrupt*. Andin this way he has survived and flourished in his fashion until, at the end, Agatha/Zoe finally discerns the truth within him and, after demonstrating the falsity of  so many of the accumulated beliefs he has accepted, confronts him with it, and so he finally accepts and embraces death.

    As for the way Mina and Lucy were portrayed, I don’t think that the fact that Mina was little more than a cypher really mattered when we had such a magnificently realised female character as Sister Agatha/Zoe Van Helsing at the centre of the story. But  @juniperfish , I was surprised by your description of Lucy as ‘depressed’, because my reading of her was quite different. She struck me as someone fairly self absorbed who had found no aim or purpose beyond having fun and so lived chiefly on the surface, and who flirted with danger and courted risk as a way of giving some spice and meaning to her life, to the point where she was half in love with Death, as encountered  in the person of Dracula.

    I also watched the programme which followed the last episode, in which Gatiss traced the history of the story and it’s various adaptations on film and TV  from the publication of the novel onwards. It was an interesting overview, and I was pleased to discover that his favourite was apparently the TV version set chiefly in Whitby and starring Louis Jourdin, which I also remember being impressed by – though eclipsed by this, I think.

    * As in The Picture of Dorian Gray

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    Why do I seem to be the only one who thought the electrical charge thingy going down the stringy things, when Yaz was there, seemed neurone-y rather than DNA-y?

    You’re not the only one. The stringy things with sparks of light coursing down them, even though not dendritic in form, evoked the idea of nerve fibre/electrical firing, therefore neurones/synapses, for me, too.   Not a hint of double helix structure anywhere, though.

    It could, of course, represent an alien equivalent of DNA; but without the double helix structure, or even an unstrung single helix, it ain’t DNA.

    Talking of which, the spy whose DNA had been rewritten was described by the Doctor as no longer human, just a shell, but unless my memory is faulty the diagnostic display still showed something resembling a double helix, I suspect that the ‘shells’ have been prepared for occupation by the alien invaders. And I’m willing to bet a virtual pint in the pub that the Master ends up in alliance with the Doctor to defeat said aliens 😉




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    One worth a rapid re-watch, I think; and I certainly didn’t see *that* coming – though with hindsight the clues were there.

    It appears, also, that they have at last relocated the Tardis universal wardrobe, which is a bonus.

    Mudlark @replies

    Like @cathannabel  and  @janetteb I am finding it difficult to summon up even a flicker of optimism in contemplating the year ahead, but there is still a hope that at least a few gleams of sunshine may pierce what looks to be – at least to some of us –  the impenetrable gloom of the storm clouds ahead. So, to everyone here, my very best wishes for 2020,  stay safe (especially those of you in the antipodes), happy Who viewing, and may each of you, whatever your circumstances, find some personal joys and  satisfactions / consolations in at least the small things of life.

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    If you think that the adjective ‘decent’ applies in any shape or form to Cummings you are either ill informed or your judgement is seriously askew, and one of the most dismaying things about the House of Commons as currently constituted, and more particularly the Conservatives, is the lack of talent on the front benches.

    As for Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, when I described him as an unprincipled opportunist the emphasis was on ‘unprincipled’. Many able politicians are opportunists to some extent, but all those who deserve respect in any degree adhere to at least some principles beyond self interest.


    I stand corrected 🙂

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    Boris has an good and well educated  intellect

    Well maybe. He certainly had an elite education (Eton and Oxford) and was apparently regarded as bright by his teachers, at least initially. They also concluded that he was bone lazy, and it may be noted that he didn’t get a First Class Oxford degree.

    What his record does show is that he is an unprincipled opportunist (he is reported to have considered backing the Remain cause but decided that backing Leave was a surer route to power).  He has also displayed a decidedly cavalier attitude to truth. When he was a journalist he was sacked from on newspaper for making up stories out of the whole cloth, and as Brussels correspondent for another paper he was responsible for fabricating some of the more absurd stories about EU regulations – eg Bendy Bananas.  Only the gullible would trust any of his promises in the election campaign.

    In the campaign he also proved notably reluctant to face questioning by the press or public and ducked altogether out of the TV debate on Climate issues.

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    Or there is this, also long but perhaps more readable, which explains why leaving the EU on January 31 is only the beginning and details the options open to the UK trade negotiators and the pitfalls and drawbacks. Suffice it to say that they will not be in a strong position, whichever course they choose.

    Mudlark @replies

    Re Brexit   Those who are interested and have the time to spare might care to look at this .  It is a lengthy and somewhat dense read, but it details the lobbying and pressure groups behind the Brexit campaign and their various agendas and aims. I do not get the impression that these were necessarily in the interests of the majority of those voting leave

    Mudlark @replies

    The BBC have another treat in store on Christmas Eve for viewers in the UK:  An adaptation by Mark Gatiss of the M R James story Martins Close featuring  Peter Capaldi as Dolben. the Prosecutor.

    Mudlark @replies


    ‘Until it’s done’ is an alternative and perfectly sound approach, but for the novice it does tend to entail hovering over the pan on the hob or checking the oven every five minutes when you could be doing something more productive or entertaining 🙂

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    The phrase ‘easy as boiling an egg’ is completely misleading, because it isn’t by any means the easiest task for a cook.  If you truly desire guidance I can, being of grandmotherly age if not technically a grandmother, provide some. Otherwise ignore the following.

    To start with, it depends on the freshness of the egg, although if you get them from the supermarket it can be assumed that they are more than four days old so that isn’t really a factor. If you get them straight from the hen, they may require longer to cook. The size of the eggs has also to be taken into consideration; large eggs need slightly longer than small ones.

    For soft boiled eggs the eggs should be at room temperature to start with*, not straight from the fridge, otherwise the shells are liable to crack. The water should be simmering rather than boiling, with just a few bubbles erupting on the surface, and the eggs should be lowered in gently. After a minute or so you can take the pan off the heat and allow to stand for four to six minutes depending on size, at which point the egg whites should be set. If this isn’t the case, trial and error should sort it. Alternatively you can leave to simmer for three minutes, although this is a bit more hit-and-miss.

    For hard boiled eggs start them (also from room temperature) in cold water, bring to simmering point and then give them 7 minutes if small and 9 minutes if large. They should then be cooled immediately under cold running water to prevent them overcooking.

    If the shells persist in cracking despite all precautions you could try carefully piercing the big end with a needle, which will reduce internal pressure under heat.

    * In UK terms that means around 18 C – 25 C; terms and conditions may vary.

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    Very belated congratulations, Thane, on surviving school and graduating!  May you succeed and be happy in whatever path you choose to take from now on (provided it’s reasonably legal, of course 😉

    As for cookery, if you start with a basic and reliable cookery book and bear in mind that it’s basically just chemistry plus the patience to follow a recipe  and a modicum of common sense* it isn’t all that difficult a skill to acquire. After that it helps to have an idea of what flavours go together, but that is to some extent a matter of personal taste. When it comes to basic cookery books, your mother would no doubt agree that you can’t go wrong with Delia Smith, especially her Cookery Course.

    * For example; a flat mate of mine at university, following a recipe in one of my cookery books to the letter and not using her knowledge of first principles, failed to spot a misprint and used a tablespoonful of flour instead of a teaspoonful to thicken the gravy in a casserole, then wondered why the result was meat and vegetables embedded in gluey wallpaper paste.

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    Avert your eyes now, there be spoilers ahead.

    @thane16  @pedant

    Fair enough, although I did in fact realise that it was a riff on the Hammer Horror Dracula – and possibly on vampires of more recent literature; my point was that I found  it so jarring that the satire didn’t work and any subtler intention was lost. Put it down to prejudice on my part if you wish.

    As for Spike, notwithstanding the cheekbones* he didn’t strike me as ‘romantic’ in the least, either in intention or in fact. Pre vampire William is a sorry specimen whose pretensions are risible and belied by the samples of his ‘poetry’ which we witness – scarcely qualifying as a poetaster, let alone a poet. As a vampire he is thoroughly nasty but interesting because of his complexity and the conflicting sparks of humanity which survive within his soullessness.

    Encouraged by your encomia, pedant, and at puro/syzygy the elder’s prompting, I finally got round to watching Buffy early last year,and the fact that over a period of three months I watched every single episode, some of them twice, speaks for itself. Previously I had ignored the show because the setting and basic premises seemed to embody elements to which I was generally allergic by temperament and acquired taste. Binge watching in that way – or as near to binge watching as I ever get – is probably not ideal anyway because it allows too little time for digestion and reflection, so forgive me if the subtler points sometimes escaped me.

    * Even as a teenager I don’t recall ever being so impressionable as to fall for that kind of thing, and certainly not now that I have grown old and cynical.

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    As @bluesqueakpip  says, that looks distinctly promising, not least because it clearly isn’t going to glamorise or romanticise the vampire.

    I disliked the episode of Buffy which featured Dracula precisely because, despite one or two nods to Bram Stoker’s novel, it depicted him as a youthful looking and magnetic, even attractive figure, not at all like Stoker’s character in whose presence Harker feels an instinctive repulsion. In the novel Dracula is described as tall, thin and elderly in appearance, with abnormally pale skin, a thick white moustache, bushy eyebrows which almost meet over his nose, bushy hair receding at the temples, hair on the palms of his hands and halitosis.

    On the other hand there is the vampire in Prachett’s Witches Abroad which, in its bat form, has a fatal encounter with Nanny Ogg’s battle scarred tom cat, Greebo.  ‘Vampires have risen from the dead, from the grave and from the crypt, but have never managed it from the cat’. Which is reassuring.

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