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    Mudlark @replies

    Happy New Year everybody, although I hesitate to utter those sentiments aloud for fear of tempting fate. Certainly the immediate future doesn’t look particularly rosy, but thank you, @winston, for listing some of the positives of 2020.  I’m not entirely sure that slopping around in pyjama bottoms counts entirely as one of those positives: at least I did my best to maintain civilised standards by wearing my best silk kimono over the sleep wear 😉 .*

    Revolution of the Daleks this evening will come as welcome relief after the Who-less desert of the past twelve months, although like you, @blenkinsopthebrave , my expectations are somewhat modest. and I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

    Now I’m off to refresh my memory by re-watching Resolution, since I gather that the two  are to some degree linked.


    *One of my French nephews, who has kept in touch by email, was impressed, imagining me drifting around like a slightly decadent late 19th century Romantic.

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    Once again, you beat me to it.

    I subscribe to the Radio Times (dead trees edition) and the issue for 5-11 Dec. arrived yesterday afternoon. Having started to browse it this afternoon and read the fairly lengthy article linked to the cover, I was wondering whether to post here about it. Much of the article in question is taken up with rehashing the history of these most menacing yet engaging of monsters, but it also addresses the reasons for this recent tweaking of the design and makes it clear that any resemblance between the new-look Dalek and the self-assembled Dalek of Resolution is indeed not coincidental. According to guarded hints dropped by Chibnall, although Resolution and Revolution of the Daleks are stand-alone episodes, they are very much linked.

    Speaking for myself alone, I’m rather taken with the new look.


    🙄  But then we already know that the Dalek sewers on Skaro are/were/will be revolting  (cf The Witches Familiar)

    As for the scheduling of the holiday season episode, filming was completed late last year, so I presume it will be aired either at Christmas or New Year – probably the latter. Filming of next year’s eight episode series began this month, though for obvious reasons there will be no overseas location work involved.

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    Strangely enough, it was this k.d.lang track that was running through my brain for much of yesterday, and I even thought of signing in to post it myself, not being aware that you had already done so several days previously 🙂

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    @thane16 (puro)

    Good to see you too, but I’m so sorry to read the news about your mother. As you say, it hits hard whenever it comes, and if, as I suspect,  you were not able to be with her at the end, as has been the case in so many C-14 deaths,  it must compound the sense of loss. You are in my thoughts or, as the Quakers say, I hold you in the light.

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    In one sense, yes; we can breathe again and experience at least a brief interval of euphoria.

    On the other hand, Davros and the Daleks are still out there, lurking, and unless the Orange One resigns in a massive fit of the sulks, there are still 73 days in which he can continue to ignore the ravages of the Covid 19 virus and a lot of people will not, in fact, get to live, in which case all we can do is hope that he will devote what energies he has to golfing and filing vexatious (and futile) law suits rather than pursuing a scorched earth agenda.

    As for the future, at least sanity will be restored in the USA, to the relief of much of the globe, although if the two senate seats up for grabs in Georgia don’t go to the Democratic candidates in the run off in January, Mitch the Turtle will remain in a position to obstruct virtually everything the new administration tries to do, so the initial rapture has perforce to be modified, alas. The less said about the political scene on this side of the pond the better, but that is largely our local problem.

    But for today, at least, we can celebrate, my digestive system seems to be behaving for the first time in what seems like months, and I am well on the way to becoming more than a little tipsy.

    Incidentally, I don’t generally engage with twitter and don’t tweet – I can think of plenty of other, more enjoyable ways of wasting my time – but I do sometimes follow up links to particular tweets or twitter threads.

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    Strange that it should have occurred to you to post this particular clip at this particular time 😉 , although for some reason it does seem apt and has the effect of pouring balm on my troubled soul.

    Rassilon  had at least achieved much of benefit to his people – or so we are led to believe, even he had outlived his time and become a psychopathic megalomaniac in the process. The same cannot be said to excuse others who might come to mind in this corner of the spacio-temporal continuum.

    I came across a link to twitter which pursues a similar theme, although sadly I cannot remember where I found it and haven’t been able to relocate it to post a link here. I cannot hope to equal the brevity and wit of the originals, but it began with a Goodbye Cruel World tweet (possibly snark, but it is hard to be sure) to the effect: how could an ungrateful nation reject someone who had done so much for the people of the USA?  The writer was therefore leaving in disgust. What followed was a series of tweets suggesting where the Orange One might seek asylum. Perhaps he could go to Russia; no, the people of Russia didn’t want him; maybe Turkey? Turkey didn’t want him either;  which was followed by a succession of suggested countries. each of which in  turn rejected him, until one finally suggested the moon might take him; but even the Seleneans weren’t prepared to harbour him and referred him to Mars, whose inhabitants were equally reluctant. It ended with him being ejected from the solar system and then the galaxy, with the remote possibility that he might find harbour in Andromeda.

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    Puro; as @blenkinsopthebrave says, it’s great to see you back in the pub and to be reassured that you and yours are surviving the vicissitudes of the pandemic. At least Aus managed to cope pretty well with the initial onslaught of the virus compared with us in the UK, notwithstanding the recent upsurge in cases in Victoria.

    Your reappearance has also reminded me that it is probably time that I dropped in to down a virtual pint and demonstrate (if there was anyone wondering) that I am still in the land of the living and coping reasonably well.

    At the start of lockdown I expected to spend a lot of time vegetating on the sofa watching TV and catching up with box sets and programmes I had previously recorded, but in fact that hasn’t been the case. I have, however, been reading an enormous amount – many, many books from my shelves that I read years ago and wished to be reacquainted with, as well as new books on the ‘to read’ pile. I guess that it just goes to show that I am above all else a reader and always have been. Earlier this year, though, when Netflix offered almost the entire output of Studio Ghibli, I did take the opportunity to catch up on the films I hadn’t previously seen as well as some that I had.

    Much as I enjoy the company and conversation of family and congenial friends, I’m generally happy in my own company, so isolation has not in itself been a problem.


    Your description of playing dodgem in the supermarkets raised a smile and sounds all too familiar. According to the haematologists I’m in a fairly high ‘at risk’ category and should be shielded and self-isolating, but I do have to venture out for the occasional shopping expedition when I run out of fresh produce (and booze). I always aim to go early, so as to be at the front of the line when the supermarkets first open and there aren’t too many people about. Based on my limited experience, observance of the requirement to wear face coverings in shops and enclosed spaces is almost 100 per cent here, but people aren’t always so careful about following the directional arrows or keeping their distance, so it does sometimes call for nifty footwork.

    For various reasons I haven’t been able to do much gardening lately and my patch is looking a bit dishevelled, but one afternoon I looked out of my study window and was startled and delighted to see a female Muntjac deer standing on my lawn. Muntjac are an introduced species in the UK which has become naturalised and increasingly common in this region of England. But it is still a very unexpected sight in a suburban garden less than a mile from the city centre – even though the gardens round here are well established, with many mature trees.


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    As the Doctor says, ‘… never give up, never give in’, and in the time of Covid-19 that is something to bear in mind. Hence this

    The original context (Catalonia) is not necessarily relevant, but it speaks to the times.

    Hope that everyone is keeping well and managing to prevail against all difficulties and anxieties. This too will pass eventually.

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    As today is the 75th anniversary of VE day I thought this might be of interest

    Sidney Stevens, the man whose reminiscences are featured was the father of one of my brother’s school mates and also, apparently, a friend of my father’s, although I wasn’t previously aware of that fact. He died last month, probably of Covid, at the age of 97.

    I went out to post a letter a short while ago, thinking that by this time in the evening there would be nobody about (I’m supposed to be shielded and self-isolating but have risked going out a couple of times since the start of lock-down to get essential supplies – i.e. fresh fruit, veg and wine).  In fact, in  the short distance to and from the post box I encountered and had to skirt around three (socially distanced) street parties belting out more or less tuneful renderings of ‘We’ll Meet Again’

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    For those who haven’t already seen this, a little more blackish humour (with message attached)

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    That article in the Spectator confirms what I have been hearing and reading. The speed and efficiency of the response has been astonishing and heartening, from the reorganisation within individual hospitals and the rapid organisation and construction of huge field hospitals such as that at the ExCel centre, to the fast tracking of final year medical students and the mustering of  volunteers. Just as one small example, one of my nephews who is a consultant physician at GOSH says that the private wing of the hospital has been commandeered for acute paediatric cases in order to free up beds for adults, and that other hospitals are similarly taking over their private wards for NHS use. Even so, given the degree to which the NHS have been starved of funding over the last ten years, with the resulting shortage of equipment and staff, there is a high risk that they will soon be overwhelmed, as has been the experience in some other countries.

    The NHS, whatever its relative shortcomings, has one great virtue as compared with most other systems, in that it provides regional networks which, when functioning as they should, provide a joined-up and highly efficient national service.

    My respect for the NHS has for the most part always been high, based on personal experience and not just because I have relatives who have been or are employed in it, and if anything good comes out of all this, I simply hope that it is a deeper and more widespread understanding and appreciation of the value of the service, rather than meaningless lip service to its status as a ‘national treasure’, and that there will be a permanent end to the managerial  sclerosis which has resulted from government tampering in the name of bean-counting ‘efficiency’ and an ideological worship of ‘the market’.

    I hope, but my optimism is frail.

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    This is somewhat belated, but commiserations and all best wishes to you both, that you get safely through this anxious and difficult time.

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    Happy landmark birthday, and may the next one be celebrated in happier and more convivial circumstances. Meanwhile, here in the pub, we can join you in spirit if not in person. Cheers!

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    Peregrine falcons nesting on the spire of Norwich Cathedral are currently observable via webcam here


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    That fan video is a wonderfully clever montage, and a worthy supplement to the film.

    @janetteb @phaseshift

    Thanks for the recommendation of the novelisation. I confess that I have never really bothered with the novels and so far casual browsing hasn’t converted me, but that sounds well worth following up. My immune system being somewhat compromised I suppose that I must follow the guidelines, stay in purdah, and order it on line, though normally I prefer to patronise the local bookshops in  person*. But needs must!


    *That is, assuming those in this locality are still open for the duration, which is not certain.

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    This was balm to the soul and left me with a terminal case of the warm fuzzies for the rest of the evening. It encapsulates all that Moffat at his best does so well, but in the aftermath has left me painfully aware of how much I now miss that Moffat touch.  It was in every way a worthy summation and celebration of the 50th anniversary.

    And thank you, @phaseshift for the link to Moffat’s twitter commentary, which I enjoyed hugely.

    One small detail bothers me*, and has done since first viewing. Tennant Doctor was quite right to view that rabbit with suspicion, but not because it could have been a Zygon – it couldn’t, because it was a lop ear, therefore completely anachronistic and so in that context unavailable to be copied. The various types of lop ears are fancy breeds which at earliest date only from the 18th century. Rabbits – or coneys as they were then more usually known – which had been introduced from Southern Europe and resembled the modern wild bunny, were at that time barely naturalised in Britain, and mostly either farmed in artificial warrens on manors and the estates of the nobility, or confined to elite hunting ranges. Obviously they had to use a domesticated rabbit for the production, but unless the choice of a fancy breed was a deliberate joke, (which would probably have been lost on the majority of viewers) they could have used one more closely resembling its ancestors.

    That said, Tennant Doctor’s Elizabeth differed in certain respects from the Elizabeth Tudor of history, so this is clearly history in the Whoniverse, and not as the academic community knows it. Although I haven’t the slightest doubt that the historical Liz wouldn’t have dealt with the Zygons equally effectively and in no short order.


    *Yes, I know 😈

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    Oops! sorry about the double post 😳

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    And this seems apt also

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    And this seems apt also

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    All good wishes to you and your boyfriend, and fingers and toes crossed that you avoid further complications from the virus.


    Hope that you are not suffering from cabin fever and that you find a source of revenue, preferably not just UC, but even that at a pinch.

    Yes, the obsession with bog roll hoarding does seem weird, especially as it is not the most indispensable of commodities, and you don’t even have to resort to cutting Murdoch rags into squares. In an emergency, or at any time for that matter, a serviceable bidet can be improvised with a washing-up bowl, provided you have access to clean water and, ideally, a means to disinfect the washing-up bowl.

    I had to go into the city yesterday for my annual eye check-up, and on the way home I called into Sainsbury’s in the hope of finding some fresh veg and 500 grams of butter to add to my stockpile. The remaining choice of veg was very limited, although the leeks and  carrots I was looking for were available. No spuds whatsoever, though, and only one depleted bin of onions. Butter was limited to unsalted and the more expensive French brands. Wandering other aisles out of interest I noticed that the shelves of rice and pasta of all kinds were completely bare and most of the bread was gone, canned veg was in short supply and canned tomatoes had vanished. I didn’t even bother to check the aisle for toilet tissue and kitchen paper.

    It’s not as if this region has been noticeably affected as yet – until a couple of days ago there were no confirmed cases in Norfolk – and the city centre was not entirely deserted, but people are evidently taking nothing for granted.

    Hey-ho! I have a library of well over 1000 novels to divert me, a backlog of recorded TV programmes and DVDs, a garden crying out for attention, not to mention a research project that has been on hold for far too long if I can find the energy.

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    For anybody who hasn’t already seen this, a refreshingly blunt summation of the crisis and the response

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    I had a very strong suspicion that was the case, but on the internet you never can tell, so I had to ask 🙂


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    Thank you for that thought.

    Although potentially in the at-risk category I am, I hope, keeping things in perspective and taking all reasonable precautions. The worry-meter did waver up a notch when No.1 brother, who is a retired paediatrician, phoned to enquire delicately, and in a roundabout way, whether I had stockpiled provisions – answer, yes, though in the event of a long-term lockdown I might get a little sick of dishes based on pasta, pulses and contents of the freezer. But my milk is delivered by people who can also supply fresh, organic produce and a fairly wide range of basics, and I bake my own bread. My only concern would be if I ran out of booze 😮

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    That certainly provides an interesting perspective on Endgame, but if anyone told you that it was a sequel to Infinity War it’s no wonder that you were confused 🙂 Or did you write this with tongue in cheek?   If not the latter,  Endgame was written as a one act play, originally in French but later translated by the playwright himself, and first performed in a French language production in London in April 1957.

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    @blenkinsopthebrave   and others who have speculated about the seemingly ageless ‘minders’.

    Could they have been Time Lords who were chameleon arched and have now rediscovered their identity?  Or maybe they were entities who simply assumed the appearance of the father and the senior policeman. Either way the presentation clock is obviously a Chekov’s clock.

    As for the rest, I am reserving judgement until I have seen the finale. The episode was well paced on the whole, often visually spectacular, posed some intriguing questions and built up to an appropriate cliff hanger, and the lone cyberman continues to be effectively menacing as well as an enigma, but I was nevertheless left feeling vaguely frustrated and I’m not sure why, unless it was that, as you said, Blenkinsop, this had more the character of an over-extended trailer than a fully realised episode.

    I could also wish that over these two series we could have seen more of how the three companions acquired the degree of knowledge  and competence they have shown recently’ rather than being left to imagine unseen adventures; and although in general I have liked Graham as a character, his chirpy flippancy in this instance grated.  I could almost hear some of those lines delivered to different effect by Tom Baker, but whether in this case it was the context or the speaker, they seemed somehow inappropriate.

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    Since Theta and Sigma are letters in the earthling Greek alphabet, how likely is it that they constitute a Gallifreyan name 😉  At best they might approximate to the initials of his original name, but even that is pure speculation.

    As a matter of interest, why haven’t you been tempted to follow the After Gap episodes?  The quality is not entirely uniform, any more than was the quality of the pre-gap series, but they are well worth it on the whole, and are now fairly widely available.

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    I did not mean to disparage Chibnall’s ability as a writer in general; he just seems so much more at home dealing with people in the world as it is or was in the past.

    Over the past 60+ years I have read a great deal of science fiction and a somewhat lesser amount of fantasy by numerous different authors. Many have written entertaining and occasionally even thought provoking narratives based on ideas already current and widespread in the genre: there are a few, though, who have the singular gift of imagination and the ability to show us life, the universe and everything from a completely new and original perspective, and to draw us into their vision so completely that we become immersed for the duration and thereby changed.

    Doctor Who is not entirely science fiction, of course, or entirely fantasy, though it draws on both, but at its best it has that ability to draw us in to the world it creates and to enable us to view ourselves and the world in a new light.  In the futuristic episodes Chibnall has written some interesting and entertaining variations on long established themes such as the Daleks or the Cybermen, but I doubt very much whether he could have dreamed up those concepts ab origine. He does also, as @blenkinsopthebrave has noted, seem to think that episodes set in an imagined future need to be frenetically paced and full of flashy effects – things which in fact often tend to detract from their effectiveness.


    …  it is knowing how to engage the viewer in a world that has been presented to them that bears no relationship the world they know, amd yet capture them, almost hypnotically, until the resolution.

    Exactly so 🙂


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    Clearly Graham is not of a generation which can remember the po’ under the bed or the commode – necessities if one was to avoid a nocturnal trip to the privy at the bottom of the garden 🙂  The water closet was not unknown in the early 19th century, but it was still a rarity and not terribly efficient.

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

    I suspect the reason is that Chibnall lacks the kind of free-wheeling imagination and/or specialised knowledge required to create truly original and effective science fiction or fantasy, which is probably also the reason why he seems to be relying so much on recycled material and references from old episodes, and why the monsters of his creation have tended  to be a bit underwhelming. With historical material, on the other hand,  he is  on safer and more solid ground, even if he chooses to play a bit fast and loose with the recorded facts, because he is – or feels himself to be – dealing with a world, events and people he can more easily identify with.


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    Another random observation which I forgot to include; I was very amused to see Byron’s repeated attempts to flirt with the Doctor meet with a decided and blunt rebuff. How very different from the 10th Doctor 😉

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    For the first 10 minutes or so of this episode I had a sinking feeling that it wasn’t going to live up to its promise. The Austen pastiche dialogue seemed a bit forced at first, and while the notion of delivering the background information on the somewhat convoluted domestic arrangements of the occupants of Villa Diodati as gossip between partners during a dance might have seemed a clever alternative to the Doctor briefing her companions before they gate crashed the party, it did come across as a bit contrived. As did the idea that Mary Shelley would in any case have responded to the arrival of four unexpected and half-drowned guests by immediately proposing an impromptu dance – though I suppose that any excuse for a party would suffice if you had been confined indoors for days by the weather.

    After that, though, it certainly picked up the pace and delivered in terms of story and spooky atmosphere, and I have no real complaints. The Escher style puzzle of the house apparently folding in on itself was very effective, although it might seem a bit surprising that the Doctor was not reminded immediately of the examples of recursion s/he encountered in Castrovalva and Logopolis. But then I suppose that from her point of view that was a very long time ago.  The way that Dr Polidori’s sleepwalking was exploited as a means of solving the puzzle was ingenious, also.

    The semi-converted, somewhat battered looking, and by inference patched together cyberman was, for me at least, disturbingly gruesome and threatening in a way that massed ranks of shiny metal men are not, and I really liked the suggestion that it was this encounter which inspired Mary Shelley to dream up Frankenstein’s monster*.  In that philosophical context the cherry-picked lines from Queen Mab which this cyberman recited, channelling Shelley, were an apt commentary on mankind in a historical perspective and the kind of recurrent folly and twisted thinking which could lead to the creation of his kind. We were also reminded that for the Doctor the encounter is a painful reminder of what happened to Bill.

    Humans like all of you, changed into empty, soulless shells; no feelings, no control, no way back. I will not lose anyone else to that.


     the Doctor’s decision to give the Lone Cyberman what he wanted in order to save Shelley (and therefore the future) made total sense

    Yes, given that dilemma, what could she do but choose the least bad option. I gather that some commenters elsewhere have argued that Shelley was not that great a poet and the Doctor’s decision should have gone the other way, but Shelley as a social and political philosopher had an influence far beyond his reputation as a Romantic poet. If he had died in 1816 instead of 1822 he would not have written The Mask of Anarchy, written in 1819 in response to the news of the Peterloo Massacre, which had far reaching influence in shaping the concept of non-violent resistance. It is far more punchy than the earlier Queen Mab, which covers some of the same ground but does go on a bit. As the Doctor said, words matter.

    Random observations:

    The way in which the 18th century characters persisted in calling the Doctor ‘Mrs Doctor’ was a subtle touch because, of course, at that date the idea that a woman could have been styled ‘Doctor’ in her own right would have been inconceivable, even if there may have been one or two idealists dreaming of a day when it might be possible.

    I’m not sure that the inclusion of articulated and animated skeletal hands skittering around in spider fashion or the odd misplaced skull added much to the tale, beyond providing a touch of the conventionally ghoulish. It was also surprising that the protagonists, after a just brief glance into a box full of assorted bones, were able to determine that one or more of the hands of the skeleton were missing, given that the hands when not under supernatural influence would have been a scattered jumble of assorted very small, disarticulated bones which would almost certainly have fallen through to the bottom of the box. It is difficult enough to ensure that you have identified all of the hand or foot bones even when excavating a skeleton in situ 🙂

    *Though I seem to recall reading that the initial idea probably arose out of a philosophical discussion one evening during their stay at the Villa.








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    Since you will be covering all the post-gap Doctors but understandably don’t want to keep it as a continuous thread, Faces of the Doctor might be the most appropriate forum.

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    In that link the BBC do make a valid point. It is true that a lot of people have difficulty responding to those who have suffered a bereavement or who are in mental distress, and they do tend either to avoid the issue altogether or to resort to euphemisms or platitudes; if someone has died it seems people have difficulty saying the words ‘died’ or ‘death’ or referring directly to bereavement at all, and if someone is suffering from depression people too often try to jolly them along or, if particularly tone deaf, tell them to ‘pull themselves together’. Then again, in my experience even those who have difficulty expressing their sympathy verbally, may do so in their supportive actions.

    That said, in the case of the Doctor’s reaction to Graham’s confidences I don’t think that the issue was handled as subtly or as sensitively as it might have been. Instead we got her, as so often, thinking aloud – telling rather than showing – and then briskly changing the subject with a cheerful suggestion that they go and look up Mary Shelley et al. and witness the genesis of Frankenstein. Moffat would, I think, have handled it a lot better.

    And while on the subject of inner demons and Moffat, embedded in the article you linked to was another link to Christopher Eccleston’s autobiography and his account of working on Doctor Who, and he has nothing but praise for Moffat’s writing – which accords with the verdict of every actor whose opinion on the subject I have read so far – and who should know better! So much for the nihilists and the ARSE brigade 🙄




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    The first thing that struck me about this episode were the parallels with Listen, and not just in the sequence of the titles – Listen, Can You Hear Me?  Both dealt with the hidden fears which lurk in our subconscious and in our nightmares; the insecurities and doubts which generate the monsters under the bed and the bogeymen haunting the shadows, although in this case it was more specifically in relation to adolescent and adult depression and anxiety rather than childhood terrors. Zellin and his  detachable fingers – a literal digital storage system – were certainly scary and creepy enough to inspire some more sadistically minded younger viewers with a means to terrorise their even younger siblings.

    Listen is no doubt the better written and better crafted of the two, but for me this was nevertheless effective, and the ‘message’ was delivered with a little more finesse than in Orphan 55 or even Praxeus. Tahira’s problems, which appear to include kleptomania, are somewhat sketchily outlined but, traumatised by the deaths of her family (? – the date is too late for the crusades but about right for the Black Death) and seeking asylum in the hospital in Aleppo, she is perhaps intended to foreshadow the mental casualties of more recent disasters and conflicts; otherwise the inclusion of someone from medieval Syria seems a bit unnecessary, even if it does provide a picturesque setting.  Buom Tihngang as Tibo portrayed an image of clinical depression that I think most of us who have ever suffered from this condition would recognise. Yas’s teenage problems are covered chiefly in flashback; she has evidently come to terms with them to a large extent, but Zellin is still able to exploit the insecurity which lurks below the surface, just as he is able to tap Graham’s suppressed anxiety about the possible resurgence of his cancer as well as his grief and survivor’s guilt over Grace’s death. Ryan turns out in many ways to be the most grounded of the ‘fam’, but he is prompted to voice the dilemma which inevitably faces everyone who travels with the Doctor for any length of time.

    The Doctor’s crass avoidance when Graham tries to confide in her about his anxieties is, as @jimthefish says, jarring in the extreme, and a regression from Smith Doctor’s socially awkward but well intentioned bumbling or Capaldi Doctor’s increasing capacity for empathy and ultimate exhortation to ‘be kind’, although it might be seen as a rather clumsy call back to the latter’s initial unwillingness to engage. On the other hand, the Doctor here is  preoccupied with her own fears and worries, aroused by the cryptic information imparted by the Master and aggravated by Zellin’s intervention, and she, unlike the others, is still keeping these fears and worries to herself.

    Capaldi Doctor told us that fear is a superpower which enables us to confront and overcome  what threatens us, and so it proves here, when Tahira learns to face and therefore control the monsters which Zellin has made manifest from her nightmares* and then used to trap people so that he may continue to feed their terrors to Rakaya.  Controlling them she and the Doctor can then turn these monsters of the mind back onto the Immortals in order to trap them in their turn and imprison them for eternity with only their own fears to entertain them. This is the Doctor at his/her most implacable in meting out justice to monsters, as in Family of Blood.

    ‘As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods’,  and these immortals are if anything even worse than the capricious gods of Olympus as described in the Iliad, who take sides and play with the lives of mortals as if they were pieces on a gaming board; but the stakes in this game are not just the lives of mortals but their minds and their mental integrity.

    The Eternals have their games, the Guardians have their power struggles. For me this dimension is a beautiful board for a game. The Toymaker would approve’. These references harking back to episodes in BG Who are almost certainly just a nod to long term viewers and the more dedicated fans and not of any particular significance in the narrative arc,  though one never knows.

    * Shades of Forbidden Planet




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    It looks as if your memory is playing tricks on you, because it was Graham who had cancer and Grace who was his oncology nurse. That said, it did seem odd that he didn’t know the meaning of pathogen. Pathogens aren’t known to be a cause of Cancer, but even so …

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    Sympathy over the commercial breaks 🙁  Living in the UK where that is not a problem I can only imagine how frustrating that must be, especially since BBC productions are not designed to accommodate them. It’s irritating enough on commercial channels where the shows are generally structured around the ads.

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    Perhaps the contrast between last week’s episode caused me to be a bit harsh in my comments yesterday evening, but I certainly didn’t think it was as bad as Orphan 55 and, as I said, it held my attention. After a second viewing, now that perhaps I am in a more tolerant mood, I feel less inclined to be critical, but I still have the feeling that this was a story founded on a very good idea which could have been developed more effectively if it had been given more room to breathe, and the structure of the episode still seemed less than fluidly coherent. The ‘science’ of the pathogen and its effects doesn’t bear too close an inspection either, but it isn’t so outrageously ‘off’ that it constitutes a major flaw in itself as long as you were prepared to suspend disbelief from a reasonably stout cable.  The sheer amount of exposition consisting of the Doctor thinking aloud is nevertheless something I am finding increasingly irritating, perhaps because so much of it seems to be delivered in big chunks and all at much the same level. @psymon pinpointed the problem, I think, in contrasting it with the way it might have been done with Tennant Doctor.


    I feel that the companions were possibly at their best here, exhibiting a kind of confidence, competence, and in Yaz’s case, breathtaking recklessness that slightly adds to my feeling that a lot of their work and development is taking place off screen.

    That growth in the companions was certainly very much in evidence but, as you say, we haven’t really been shown it happening to the extent we were shown the gradual development in their predecessors, and to that extent I found it a bit jarring. Too much has been happening ‘off screen’, so to speak. On the other hand the Doctor has, from the first, been encouraging them to act as a team and to use their initiative, so the result is a logical conclusion.

    As for Yaz,  @bluesqueakpip   @spider , yes definitely something going on there with her growing tendency to exhibit the kind of reckless confidence and risk-taking we saw in Clara.


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    That was certainly topical, but the way in which the message was delivered was far from subtle, with rather too much high-speed exposition for my taste. It is the kind of subject which multi-episode stories have dealt with rather more effectively, and The Green Death is a prime example as @jimthefish has already pointed out; and that did it without aliens. What came more immediately to my mind though was The Plastic Eaters – the first episode of Doomwatch for those in the UK who can remember that far back. For those not familiar with the series, it centred on engineered bacteria, developed in a lab as a possible solution to the problem of non-degrading plastics. A sample of the bacteria got loose, demonstrating in alarming fashion just how much of our technology and its applications depends on plastic components.

    The episode certainly looked good, and it succeeded in holding my attention throughout, but structurally it seemed to me to be incoherent, jumping back and forth in dizzying fashion from location to location and person to person. But then what do I know about script writing and television production 😕

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    On this sad day for the UK, in defiance, the anthem of the EU

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    Good point about the amnesia inducing effect of the chameleon arch. On the other hand there is clearly a lot more going on with Lee than there was with Martha as a companion to Tennant Doctor, and a good many indications that he is more than just Martin Doctor’s human companion.

    1) He has a service medal made of chronotelluric alloy which the sonic  registers as not of earth origin, and this service medal is evidently of sufficient sentimental value for him to have risked taking it with him even though it is trackable – which isn’t to say that he hasn’t been keeping it for the Doctor, although the indications were that it was his own.

    2) He and Gat have a shared (military?) past. She greets him as ironically as ‘old friend’  and refers to their ‘identical training’, which suggests that he is from Gallifrey even if the sonic does register him as completely human, and he evidently feigned his own death in order to escape from that shared past and accompany Martin Doctor in her escape.

    Could it be that there are means other than a chameleon arch to convincingly mask a Gallifreyan as human without the amnesiac effect? Or is he a human who was recruited by the Time Lords and served in their military force?





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    Another thought: we’ve been assuming that all the people who vanished when zapped by the Judoon were killed, but I’ve been wondering about that. The Doctor described the weapon used as a temporal isolator, designed to freeze time, but that when used it causes horrific collateral damage to anyone and anything in its path. ‘Collateral damage’ probably does mean killed, but it could also apply if the weapon simply isolated the targeted individuals in time – i.e. left them in stasis and perhaps retrievable, at least in theory.

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    what was in the little metal box that Gat recognizes?

    Lee did in fact open the box and we got a brief glimpse of what was in it. He said it was his service medal. Gant implied that it was made of or included a distinctive alloy which enabled her to trace him to Earth. Everything points to Lee also being a Time Lord, as you say, and presumably also chameleon arched, since he registered as human in the Judoon’s scanner.

    Mudlark @replies


    The discussion which I referred to isn’t really  spoilery, just the report that sparked it off.

    This gist of the hypothesis which I proposed there is that the coincidence of the paired regenerations of Hartnell Doctor and Capaldi Doctor which immediately followed their meeting, which could be seen in one sense as simultaneous although technically separated by the time of their lives between, triggered some kind of timey-wimey disruption which resulted in a twinning in Hartnell Doctor’s regeneration and a corresponding forking or splitting of the time lines. These time lines would eventually merge again with the regeneration of Capaldi Doctor into Whittaker Doctor, thus forming a closed loop or ellipse bookended by Hartnell ->Troughton Doctor at one end and Capaldi -> Whittaker Doctor at the other.  So, according to the hypothesis,  the regeneration of Hartnell Doc into Troughton Doc which we saw was mirrored by an alternative regeneration which we didn’t see and which resulted in a separate lineage of incarnations and a slightly divergent history for the Time Lords and for those individuals and species on whom the Doctor’s actions impinged.  This would explain why Mason Doctor didn’t seem to recognise a sonic screwdriver and thought that having two versions of herself and two manifestations of the same Tardis in proximity was dangerous – an early concept later demonstrated to be untrue – and why the destruction of Gallifrey apparently hadn’t happened for her and Gat.

    In this scenario the question of whether or not Hartnell Doctor had knowledge of transmat technology is irrelevant because, just as there have been thirteen incarnations of the Doctor following him in the time line we have seen, x number of incarnations will have separated Mason Doctor from Hartnell Doctor in the time line we haven’t seen.

    The possible flaw in my argument is that, with a merging of time lines, even if they had followed a broadly similar course in most respects, we could potentially have a very large number of doppelgangers now wandering around, or else individuals with two versions of reality in their memory, and also a Gallifrey which is both destroyed and not destroyed, which seems a bit implausible but not, I suppose, impossible in a quantum universe.

    Note that I use the term hypothesis rather than theory, as I have been trained to reason scientifically 😕 and try to live up to that training. It seems to fit what little we really know so far but remains to be proved. I just hope that the resolution Chibnall has dreamed up isn’t more mundane.


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    Are we to suppose that at the moment of regeneration of the Hartnell Doctor that, even though we clearly see Hartnell’s face slowly turn into Troughton’s, somewhere else there is another Hartnell  turning into the Martin Doctor? And when that happens another Tardis, another Gallifrey (one that include Gat), et al, emerges as the result of a split time line?

    That’s it, more or less. From a universal point of view the divergence of the time lines might have been barely noticeable to begin with but, given the effect of the Doctor we have known on the universe over the course of the time line we have seen, it could have increased gradually. Furthermore, in the centuries since the initial twinning the alternative Doctor could also have regenerated many times and Martin Doctor only the latest of many. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the main actors in both time lines – Time Lords, Daleks, Cybermen, Judoon and so on -shouldn’t be more or less the same, just that their actions and interactions may have differed in some ways.

    Think of the divergence and eventual re-merging of the time lines as an ellipse, at one end of which is the regeneration of Hartnell Doctor and at the other the corresponding regeneration of Capaldi Doctor.

    The flaw in this argument is that it supposes that the divergent time lines differed only in respect of the Doctor(s), the Time Lords and those whom they interacted with or affected directly, otherwise their merging would result in utter chaos. And probably bad news for planet Earth 😈


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    The reviewer in question clearly lacks imagination 🙄

    There is a relevant discussion which might be of interest if you are prepared to venture onto the Spoiler forum.

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    Anyway, Mudlark, would between Troughton and Pertwee be a possible slot for a ‘wiped’ Doctor?

    That did occur to me as a possible alternative, since the circumstances of Troughton Doctor’s regeneration were somewhat unusual; but I opted for the Hartnell/Capaldi regeneration scenario as more likely because of the symmetry between what could be viewed as a double or paired regeneration and the emergence of twin Doctors ignorant of one another’s existence. What seemed less likely to me was twin Doctors resulting solely from the Capaldi Doctors regeneration, for the reasons stated above.

    My hypothesis here doesn’t involve an alt-universe, only a time line which divides and then merges again, bookending the regeneration of Hartnell Doctor and that of Capaldi Doctor, which seems to me a fairly neat solution and not all that hackneyed. In any event, I just hope that the solution Chibnall has dreamed up is not blue boringers.

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    The idea of some kind of twinned regeneration does seem a good deal more persuasive overall than that of a parallel universe, because it could be developed to account for pretty much every anomaly. Martin Doctor didn’t seem to recognise Whittaker Doctor’s sonic, though, which would suggest that her predecessor was an early incarnation. She also seemed to believe that two incarnations of the Doctor and Tardis couldn’t exist in proximity without causing serious problems, which is an early concept, long since demonstrated to be false.

    Could the double regeneration of the first and twelfth Doctors immediately following their encounter have triggered such an anomalous twinning effect, but specifically in the regeneration of the first Doctor not that of the twelfth? Which is not to say that the effect of the black hole on the Capaldi Doctor and the Tardis couldn’t have been a contributory factor.

    If this twinning did occur so early on but was unobserved by either resulting version of the Doctor, it suggests that the result was a split time line, so not technically a parallel or alternative universe, and that this split time line has somehow merged again following the second and technically later of the two regenerations which triggered the effect in the first place, closing a neat loop. A merging of split time lines would certainly account for the apparent differences between what we know of the Time Lords, and the  Time Lord history – and possibly culture – behind Martin Doctor and Gat, including the fact that for the latter the destruction of Gallifrey, actual or apparent, never seems to have happened.

    As a random afterthought, might this anomaly also be the reason that the first act of the Tardis after Capaldi Doctor regenerated as Whittaker Doctor was seemingly to jettison her? Or did she just press the wrong button?



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    Of course! how could I have overlooked that instance 😳

    And assuming that we are dealing with an alternative universe, this scenario would seem to be the most likely, especially as Chibnall does seem to be mining the RTD era at the moment.  A parallel universe in an adjoining dimension in which everything is almost but not quite the same would allow for an alternative Doctor, alternative Time Lords with a slightly different history and attitude, and a Gallifrey which was never destroyed or sequestered. All that would be needed then was an explanation of the intrusion of one into the other without anyone apparently realising it had happened.

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    I know the Doctor scans RuthDoc she says they are the ‘same person’ but then not that long before this the sonic scan was reading her as human. Although the veil has dropped, perhaps there is still another veil there that we don’t know about?

    That idea of a double bluff, a chameleon arch within the chameleon arch, is very appealing, even if it proves to be a bonkerisation too far 😀

    Mudlark @replies

    Something in Jack’s warning about the cyberman which flew past me first time around registered as significant on second viewing and, on the reasonable assumption that there has been joined-up thinking in the plotting of the developing narrative arc, I have a suspicion it could have a bearing on the problem of the two Doctors and/or on the Lie, depending on whether or not the two things are connected.

    After telling the companions to warn the Doctor about the lone cyberman, and explaining that the cybermen were from an evil empire, now destroyed and in ruins,  Jack says

    ‘But that could all change if she doesn’t listen to this message. To defeat them the Alliance (?) sent this thing back through time and space … ‘ at which point he is interrupted by the nanogene attack.

    When they passed on the message about the lone cyberman to the Doctor they didn’t mention this detail, which might I suspect could be a cause for regret later on. What if  the ‘thing’ which was sent back  tampered with the time lines and gave rise to the kind of proactive and exceptionally aggressive Time Lord seemingly represented by Gat?

    As for why neither Martin Doctor nor Whittaker Doctor recognised the other,  I think that it was you, @bluesqueakpip , who suggested here and in t’other place that the memory wipe might be involved, and I very much like that idea. If you wanted to tamper with time lines and conceal the tampering, or to perpetrate a monstrous lie and make it stick, the ability to erase or block memories would certainly come in very handy.






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