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    Nightingale @replies


    Late night greetings!

    Not sure I’d agree that the Pertwee era deliberately set out to push boundaries.

    Well it certainly pushed the boundaries of acceptability. I cannot now recall whether it was Spearhead From Space or Terror of the Autons that had the blood-splattered windscreen that sent people into a frenzy. All tame now, but started the whole “Think of the children!!!” fiasco that surrounded DW through to the ’80s, Mary Whitehouse et al.

    Again, it’s subjective I suppose but I struggle to see how Tate (or anyone) else could have been better in the role.

    Yeah, it’s subjective. I never watched her show (I’m not much of a telly addict) and had nothing against her. I think if anyone was likely not to get a fair shout as a companion it was Bradley Walsh, but I liked him in his first season. Tate is like nails on a chalkboard to me though. Too much of a caricature.

    Amy wasn’t really a mystery to be solved. We knew everything we needed to know about her right from the Eleventh Hour.

    In retrospect there wasn’t much to solve, but Moffat pushed her mythologisation (maybe not a word, but it’s late) extremely far for a long time. That seems to be a thing with him in particular but also the reboot in general (Bad Wolf, Doctor Donna…). The whole “girl who waited” thing, this need to make every principle character uber-special, left me cold for the most part. I also never thought KG very good.

    Similar thing with Clara, who seemed a symptom of excessive coffee consumption. I agree Moffat tried to do something better with her later on, but it was somewhat too late to invest in for a lot of people. I feel bad for JC: she got a lot of criticism for stuff that was never her fault. She seemed a capable actor to me.

    The Fam are all very ordinary and all have very clearly defined backstories but I don’t really consider them terribly relatable, largely because they’re all so terribly boring.

    The fam is sort of the anti-RTD approach. Token investment in establishing rapport. This has been the problem with Mr. Chibnall’s writing for me.

    Nightingale @replies


    Yes, it did, but all that really suggests is that people were just as idiotic in 1973 as they are now.

    Crikey! That’s harsh. I don’t think intelligence has anything to do with it, rather prior experience. The Pertwee era was known for pushing boundaries. A natural consequence is that the boundaries then lie well within those of today. The bar must be set higher to yield a similar effect.

    I don’t think he was wrong to think that absurdity and humour are just as much a part of Who’s DNA as scares are.

    Nor would I, but that wasn’t my complaint. Absurdity and humour are essential. Treating a beloved vehicle as a joke, less so. S1 veered to much toward the latter for my taste.

    Donna was in improvement but a big part of that was down to Catherine Tate’s performance.

    I would have preferred a better actor in the role. I agree that Martha was a bit too wet, although she started off well before the misjudged unrequited love arc. Donna was a great companion: a proper audience proxy with zero hint of nausea-inducing will-they-won’t-they.

    My problem with Moffat companions is, however great they are on paper, he always made them part of the plot rather than the viewer’s avatar. I could be Rose or Donna, at least early on before they too became walking plot devices, whereas Amy and Clara were mysteries to be solved. Bill was better, and had a similar arc to Rose and Donna: initially just someone ordinary we could all be before becoming too abstract to identify with anymore. Easily my favourite companion since Rose.

    Nightingale @replies


    But he does bring gravitas to the part: it’s just in the lighter moments he feels a little forced. Though I think part of my problem with him is that his costume is just not quite Doctorly enough.

    I actually liked the costume more than I did the actor, who remains my least favourite Doctor. I was quite excited by the billboards I saw (first I knew that it was coming back) but I didn’t make it past the second episode of the reboot. I was very glad to hear that Tenant was taking over, who I’d seen in Casanova and thought a much more natural fit for the show.

    The burping wheelie bin might have upset some diehards but it has the same absurdity as the killer doll or the suffocating armchair from Terror of the Autons. I have no doubt that both Robert Holmes and Terrance Dicks would have approved.

    I’m not so sure. The killer doll provoked a lot of complaints at the time for making children scared of their own toys. The armchair didn’t work, but there was no hint of tongue in cheek about it. It was a noble failure. The wheelie bins were stupid and meant to be, giving the sense of a showrunner who didn’t take his charge sufficiently seriously, a feeling that would persist throughout that first series.

    While I felt that the autons (my favourite Who baddies) were rather squandered in Rose, and the intentional silliness difficult to swallow, Davies got companions. He understood their relationship to the audience in a way Moffat never really did, and Rose exudes this. It properly embedded me in the story. And Billie Piper was just incredible.

    Nightingale @replies


    Really sorry to hear you’ve been left in such a horrendous situation. My mother has been left in a similar position. I think this virus has become a measure of where we’re at, socially and institutionally, and the lack of wiggle room in the latter (and the gobsmacking selfishness of the former) doesn’t bode well as a dry run for the forthcoming zombie apocalypse.

    Some encouraging words from you know Who:

    Nightingale @replies


    My point was more that there seems to be an invitation to draw connections between The Timeless Children and earlier, classic stories, but that those connections don’t quite work. Whether it turns out those connections are supposed to be made, or whether they’re misdirects, or whether they’re accidental, is, of course, the follow-up question. We’ll have to wait and see if any of it adds up.

    That was a joke, not a comment on the script

    Sorry, I did get it, then my mind jumped forward a bit. There was a whole chunk of this conversation that happened only in my head 😀 A better response would have been: I hope Mr. Chibnall is equally up to the challenge. Fingers crossed…

    Nightingale @replies

    I’m sorry for your loss, Damon.

    Nightingale @replies


    Tongue planted well and firmly in cheek 😀 Endgame is one of my favourite plays by one of my favourite writers. I’ve seen it a few times now. The big draw for me this time was they also did Rough for Theatre II which I’d read but never seen before and was rather good.

    Retrospectively the big draw is that it’ll be the last thing I see on the west end for a while on account of stupid, stupid coronavirus!!!

    Nightingale @replies

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>@bluesqueakpip</p>
    Halloooooo! I hope you’re having a great weekend.

    Yes, that’s a continuity problem. But there’s no good answer to it, because the pre-Hartnell selves were a continuity contradiction anyway. If they were real, the regeneration cycle should have been rebooted at the end of the Davison era.

    Technically that’s a continuity problem for the Davison era, not for TBoM.

    That’s misdirection for you. The line is ‘Everything you think you know is a lie,’ and the initial assumption was that it’s only about Time Lord history.

    I think that’s more than an assumption. Yes, an element of it is the Doctor’s personal history, and there might have been an intended misdirect for the audience, but the Master explicitly states that the whole existence of the species is built on a lie. The Doctor appears well aware of this way back in TDA, when he says something similar. And yet now she’s surprised. That’s not a misdirect, that’s another continuity error.

    Just hand them over to the Doctor (any incarnation). Doctor Who will make them fit. 😀

    With nothing more than a wave of her magic wand. I do hope the narrative explanation for the above is a little more rewarding and less hand-wavy though.

    Nightingale @replies

    I’ve recently rewatched both The Brain of Morbius and The Deadly Assassin to try and figure out what Mr. Chibnall might have had rolling around his head.

    Both at first glance invite easy connection to The Timeless Children: the pre-Hartnell incarnations of TBoM; the Doctor’s allusion to Time Lord history being bunkum in TDA.

    But both of these points of connection share an incompatibility with the season finale insofar as, in both cases, the Doctor is quite blasé about it all. He betrays no astonishment at his pre-Hartnell selves when psychically battling the outcast Time Lord Morbius, but is mindblown when receiving psychic exposition about them from the outcast Time Lord the Master.

    And it’s weird that the one person who seemed well aware that Time Lord history is a lie should be the recipient of the dramatic revelation that Time Lord history is a lie, and that this revelation would be a (multi-) season arc.

    It’s like being given an iPhone and a micro USB cable. You can see how they should fit, but it’s pretty obvious upon inspection that they don’t.

    Nightingale @replies

    DOCTOR: If I went in [the Matrix], I could discover where he intercepted the circuit.

    SOME DUDE: I couldn’t allow that. It’s too dangerous. The psychosomatic feedback might kill you.

    DOCTOR: I’m aware of that.

    SOME DUDE: It’s never been done.

    CASTALAN: Let him try it.

    SOME DUDE: Alright.

    SOME DUDE lies the Doctor down and pulls a device out of the Matrix for connecting to living minds, despite the fact this is dangerous and has never been done!!!

    If I’m honest… I’m a lot more forgiving of the classic series than the reboot.

    Nightingale @replies

    I went to see Endgame the other day. I was very confused. I’d heard a lot about it, not least that it was a sequel to Infinity War starring Robert Downey Jr and Scarlett Johansson, neither of whom were in this latest production, although I don’t remember them being among those killed off by the snap.

    Instead we got Daniel Radcliffe as Clov and Alan Cumming as Hamm. Hamm’s superpowers are being blind and unable to stand. Clov’s superpowers were being unable to bend his legs but being able to use ladders anyway, when he remembered to bring one.

    There were also Nag and Nell whose superpowers were the ability to hide in bins and die seemingly at will.

    Set, I presume, many years after the snap, the Earth has been laid waste and our heroes are hiding out in a house with really high windows. Some kind of hate ray has been used to turn everyone against everyone else and humanity in general. I’m guessing Thanos teamed up with the Hate Monger.

    The heroes mission is to escape their situation whilst stopping a new race of insectoid humans from evolving.

    It was actually a lot better than Infinity War. Writer Samuel Beckett is very funny and raises some interesting questions about socialisation vs freedom. There was a particularly great set-piece involving a stuffed cat, who I initially mistook for Black Widow. If this is the direction the next wave of the MCU is going, I’m interested.

    Weird they did it as a play instead of a film though. I blame JK Rowling.

    Nightingale @replies

    Yes, this made me very sad. He’s one of my favourite actors. I especially loved him in Bergman’s Winter Light and Hour of the Wolf. He had a good innings and a looooong career, but he could never outstay his welcome.

    Nightingale @replies

    @jimthefish: Rian Johnson… good shout!

    Nightingale @replies


    It has only just occurred to me while reading your commentary that there’s an odd disparity between what I think most fans of the reboot consider the golden age and the received wisdom about the quality of its content.

    I think for a lot of people, David Tenant + Billy Piper = Who at it’s best. In terms of the dynamic between the leads, I’d agree with that. That combination was, for me, Mr. Davies’ second greatest coup (first being bringing the show back in the first place).

    And yet that was the season that featured The Idiot’s Lantern, Love and Monsters, & Fear Her, not a few bad episodes scattered amongst the gold but an almost uninterrupted run of bad Who (by received wisdom, as I said).

    By contrast, season 3 featured many fan favourites throughout (Blink, Human Nature, Family of Blood, Utopia and the follow-up two-parter), and some underrated gems (e.g. Smith and Jones), but Tenant + Agyeman doesn’t have the same currency.

    I think this extends to the Capaldi era too. Clara is a bit of a hate figure both in Smith’s and Capaldi’s seasons, and yet with Capaldi especially the stories were often excellent. Season 9 for me was almost end-to-end brilliant. Season 10 had fewer great episodes. World Enough and Time was terrific; Exodus was very good. But despite the individual stories being a little underwhelming, it was generally considered a return to form, and again I think that’s down to the more successful pairing of Peter Capaldi with Pearl Mackie.

    The last two seasons have felt to me rather unengaging, and the principle fault I find with them is the lack of rapport between the Doctor and any of her companions. Ultimately, I suspect that questions of which episodes are better than others are largely moot: get the dynamic right, and you can get away with much.

    Nightingale @replies


    It’s almost deconstructing the whole concept of Who RTD-style finales in a way.

    I think of Doctor Who generally, in fact any formulaic adventure story. Typically these go: bad guy has very clever plan, good guy is wrongfooted from the off, the evil plan goes smoothly, bad guy explains it, good guy cleverly pulls the rug out and wins. A Good Man… is the total inversion of this, which is probably why it’s generally panned but has many earnest admirers (I love it too).

    But that classic adventure template was used many times by Moffat too. What the blogger characterises as contempt for expected formulae I’d suggest is the love of variety that his tenure amply demonstrated. Moffat was comfortable inside and outside the box.

    the sheer fact of the choice of Hitler, as opposed to another morally questionable (or even fictional) villain is significant.

    Yes, I wouldn’t disagree on the blogger’s point there. I think he’s probably right about why Hitler had to be locked in a cupboard. My disagreement is only with the idea that this is “mocking” anybody else’s work. Subverting norms, absolutely.

    I’m not a massive Christopher Nolan fan. I actually find more in common between Nolan and Chibnall: namely independent and extravagant set pieces glued together with extensive exposition that doesn’t add up.

    The RTD/Spielberg comparison is apt. Spielberg once said that, if you put in the groundwork, the audience will go with you on the ending, no matter how ridiculous. That does correlate well to Mr. Davies’ painsteaking, fascinating set-ups that tend to end with e.g. flying Jesus Doctor or force lightning Master.

    Moffat… I don’t know. He’s well embedded in light entertainment, but is a meticulous and interesting plotter who likes to subvert genre expectations. Jordan Peele?

    Nightingale @replies


    As a final coda to my burbling ramblings above, this is a long but pretty good read

    Thanks for the link. The author is definitely correct that Mr. Moffat’s scripts subverted audience expectations. This is something I felt from The Big Bang onwards. By itself, The Pandorica Opens is setting up an epic finale involving a serious dollop of Who mythos in the form of the Alliance. It was very Davies in tone. What we got instead was the opposite: a small, madcap dose of pure fun and imagination.

    Same went for Day of the Moon, which embedded the follow-up to The Impossible Astronaut‘s cliffhanger in brief flashback, leaving viewers with a temporary mystery of how the story got from A to B.

    A Good Man Goes to War was easily Mr. Moffat’s most subversive episode, turning the standard Doctor Who formula on its head.

    But I think the guy who wrote that blog is guilty of straw-man building. His reading of A Good Man… as a deliberately subverted rape-revenge story is peculiar and difficult to swallow, and I don’t think Let’s Kill Hitler was mocking anything other than Hitler. I think his dislike for the last two series is allowing him to reinterpret Moffat’s work as somehow critical of them before the fact. It’s also repetitive as hell. When someone keeps using the same example over and over for their arguments, be suspicious!

    My favourite part of that blog touches on something but doesn’t quite make the link to another Moffat masterstroke.

    He points out that there’s no internal reason why the Doctor can defeat the daleks over and over, even go back in time to change the course of history, but can’t do the same to the Nazis.

    This gets interesting when you consider how the show started out. The Doctor was not about defeating evil (as in wiping it out). Generally the format was: the Doctor’s curiosity gets him and his companions into trouble; some story-specific circumstance stops them being able to just leave right away; the Doctor must help his companions escape.

    Blowing up the bad guys didn’t really come into it until the Troughton era, and got amped up in the Pertwee era.

    Two notable features of Mr. Moffat’s stewardship were: 1) the lack of real villains (especially in seasons 5 & 6, but also beyond); 2) the Doctor’s disinterest in defeating them, or failure to do so (see Victory of the Daleks, A Good Man…, Asylum of the Daleks, The Name of the Doctor, etc.) in a manner quite consistent with his disinterest in defeating Hitler. Moffat largely circumvented the problem that blog highlights by dialling down his predecessors’ vision of the Doctor as judge, jury and executioner, particularly that posited by Russell “No second chances” Davies.

    And I think that’s a big reason why Moffat’s tenure tended to resonate so well with classic Whovians and upset so many fans brought into the fold by the more fashionable reboot. His whole run had an increasingly classic-era vibe, and failed (never tried) to allow the righteous warrior of the time war opportunity to judge, convict, and execute the bad guys.

    What we saw in the last episode — the Doctor blowing up Gallifrey’s upgraded survivors — is about as far from Moffatesque (and Hartnellesque) as one can imagine, something that’s not terribly surprising to anyone who saw Matt Smith’s rare judge-jury-executioner moment in the Chibnall-scripted Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.

    Nightingale @replies

    P.S. @bluesqueakpip

    Tom Baker really was an icon of his time. Punk before punk, as you say. But what is our time? Punk, misfits – they’re practically mainstream.

    Well, our time is one where people discover that our past wasn’t quite the glowing iconography we thought it was – and then try to pull the symbols of that past down, destroy it.

    Oh. I was going to say “hipsters and duckfaces”, but yours is deeper.

    Nightingale @replies


    Oh, I’m not arguing that the old canon is sacrosanct. There’s just a difference between what Moffat did — filling a gap we all knew existed without altering anything before it — and what Chibnall may have done: adding a gap that wasn’t there and filling it with stuff that impacts everything from Hartnell onwards.

    Well, after The Day of the Doctor, a lot of fans could apply that tag line to the Eccleston and Tennant Doctors, because they’d say that – now – Gallifrey was never really destroyed. So all Tennant’s very beautiful angst was based on his believing a lie…

    Except that happened in Tenant’s time. Gallifrey went from being destroyed (he literally watched it burn) to being time-locked. The daleks and the time lords all turned up for Tenant’s finale, a volte face all Davies’ own. As such, one can’t really complain about Moffat bringing Gallifrey back.

    Also, the lonely god motif was a Davies imposition. Time Lords had been a feature of the show for decades; it is a head writer’s prerogative to add lore that future writers have to either cope with or ignore, but no head writer should prohibit future writers from using traditional Who elements. This might be why Davies went out with a Gallifrey story. I imagine showrunners are amenable toward the successors they appoint.

    Which is another reason not to panic yet about this last series. Mr. Chibnall has so far left future writers an out, as Mr. Davies did. He’s added, and he’s hinted at subtractions, but nothing is yet set in stone. Like you say, the meaning of some things has changed, but major revisions that bind the hands of future writers are only hinted at, or are of dubious source, and have blatant contradictions.

    And, to an extent, Mr. Chibnall has done his own tidying up. Time Lords were supposed to derive their powers from local cosmic features, something that didn’t make much sense when their planet was removed from its natural location. The timeless child origin story fixes that by making that derivation remote to begin with. What’s good for the goose…

    Nightingale @replies


    Elizabeth Sandifer in her blog asked why Doctor Who had never actually engaged with the punk era, as Pertwee had engaged with the iconography of the glam period. Baker was already a punk before punk started. His oddness and aversion to ‘the system’ was his superpower.

    No way! I was having this exact conversation with myself in my head yesterday as I was walking to the shops, more in the context of the punky, glammy Division bods. I and myself agree with you completely. (Me wasn’t there, off galavanting with Clara I suppose.)

    Nightingale @replies


    Damn, I wrote such a long post and it seems to have been incarcerated by the Judoon!

    Short version is: I agree that it’s far too premature to declare the mythos ruined. There are many places this storyline could go, some great, some pointless, some bad. But we do have Dr Ruth, glam-rock Division time lords, and regenerating Cybermen for sure, all win.

    I also agree that the pre-Hartnell incarnations aspect of the face-value interpretation is consistent with and no more controversial than the Morbius doctors.

    But… the Time War/War Doctor storyline doesn’t really compare. Clara’s interventions in the Doctor’s timeline  aside, that altered nothing of the mythos up to and including the TV movie. Day of the Doctor did arguably rewrite Mr. Davies’ lonely god angle by changing the outcome of the war, but to be fair Davies had rather squandered that himself. As others have said, Mr. Moffat tidied up a lot of other people’s messes.

    Arguably Clara did have a qualitatively similar impact on pre-Hurt history, and frankly this annoyed the hell out of me, but it was easy to get over because it wasn’t impactful, and was quite a nice ode to the Doctor’s companions.

    There are enough mysteries and face-value contradictions in the current arc to ensure that nothing is necessarily damaged in the classic era any more than the classic era did to itself (e.g. Morbius doctors plus “I’m the original”: on which, Rassillon was a bastard already in The Five Doctors).

    Nightingale @replies


    Lots to think about!

    That’s true, but it’s possible that Ruth could be at a later point in her life, and Gat found her by travelling forward in time.

    Gat didn’t seem to know who the Whittaker incarnation was, and vice versa. Gat did know who the Martin incarnation was, and vice versa. But all that might mean is that this wasn’t their first waltz.

    Your theory is the one I hope is true. It seems the most positive and the most dramatically satisfying. It would explain the Martin incarnation’s police box Tardis perfectly, and it would suggest that the future is Jo Martin in that outfit in a classic Tardis console room without that dramatically bankrupt magic wand known as the sonic screwdriver. That’s something I could get really excited about.

    Nightingale @replies

    *edges along*

    Nightingale @replies


    Hello! I enjoyed your post, very interesting theory. Ruth being a future Doctor would suggest a big misdirect given what we’ve seen, and I suspect a big misdirect is exactly what we’ve been given.

    That said, Ruth was on the run from Division-looking Time Lords such as Gat, which would appear to pin her down to her time in the Division in her youth.

    But a pre-Hartnell Ruth is no less problematic. Ruth had already gone rogue during Fugitive of the Judoon, but the memory wipe is following a Division mission, and Brendan seems fairly pliable at this point. The last memory wipe must be during the Hartnell incarnation to explain the Doctor’s current memories.

    Now we know that every Time Lord shares the Doctor’s DNA, could it be that the most compelling evidence that Ruth is the real Doctor (the Judoon’s duplicate identification) is false? And the most compelling evidence that they’re different people (no adverse effects to proximity) is the real clue?

    Nightingale @replies

    Thanks @winston, don’t mind if I do.

    Nightingale @replies



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

    Wrong person? I think you just said what I said.

    The big wormhole-looking thing where Tectuen found the timeless child looked kinda like the time vortex to me, so Mr. Moffat’s explanation for River might be retrofit as a signpost for the origins of the Doctor.

    In short, River and the timeless child were both exposed to the time vortex.

    Nightingale @replies

    Hi! I’m glad that Mandip Gill is staying on. For me she’s been the breakout star of Chris Chibnall’s run so far.

    Nightingale @replies

    Keep it up, Jim. I’ve just read your blog in defense of Steven Moffat. Very good stuff! We seem to like and dislike more or less the same episodes too! See you around.

    Nightingale @replies


    Hello! I’ve enjoyed reading your thorough and amusingly-worded criticisms (‘fanwank’ will soon pop up in my autocorrect, probably at an unfortunate moment when I’m texting my mother), some of which have bothered me too.

    If regenerative ability is down to the special ability of the Timeless Child, and therefore not exposure to the Time Vortex as has been established previously then how do we think that Amy got that extra bit of “Doctor juice” to create baby Melody?

    The big wormhole-looking thing where Tectuen found the timeless child looked kinda like the time vortex to me, so Mr. Moffat’s explanation for River might be retrofit as a signpost for the origins of the Doctor.

    That said, I’m inclined to agree with whoever it was (you? @jimthefish?) who said that Mr. Chibnall’s aim seems to be to de-Moffat and re-Davies the show, so perhaps Mr. Chibnall is simply disregarding River’s origin story as non-canonical.

    Nightingale @replies

    Hello everyone. I’ve been unpacking that last episode for days now and am slowly going mad.

    @lisa : My feeling after Fugitive of the Judoon was that, whatever revelation the Master was going to offer up, it would be an elaborate lie. After the finale, I feel all the more that this is probably partly true. Not necessarily the prehistory of the Time Lords or the Doctor’s pre-Hartnell incarnations, but the redacted stuff filled in by the Master, otherwise there wouldn’t be much narrative value in having any of it redacted.

    Then again as I said I am going mad thinking about this stuff. 😀

    Nightingale @replies

    Thanks @jimthefish. How goes the dam?

    Nightingale @replies

    Is this where newbies say hello? If so, hello. If not, may I sit down here on the sofa before I carry on looking?

    I’m Nightingale, long-time fan of the show, sometime stalker of this and other forums (fora? forii?)

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