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    Time Lord

    I’ve only just watched Oxygen, and pretty much loved it. It’s strange to say, perhaps, but can anyone think of an episode of Doctor Who in recent times being this ‘hard sci-fi’ in approach?

    I think there are an astonishing number of references to other works (including Who history) in this but, unlike Smile a few weeks ago, I thought it produced something coherent and very direct from them.

    Pearl Mackie continues to be a compelling foil for Capaldi. I actually thought Nardole was a useful addition here as well. I think the revelation that his past is quite shady, coupled with his nervous tendencies but pragmatic ‘let’s get this over with’ style puts me in mind of Vila from Blake’s 7. I’m guaranteed to be drawn to him in other words and would guess at this point his own Arc will not end happily but with a certain nobility.

    A lot of people have mentioned Ark in Space, mainly I think for the Space Station design. I came away thinking of the follow up to that story set on station Nerva Beacon – Revenge of the Cybermen, because the basic nature of the body in a robot suit eerily echoes them.

    I’ll also say that the effect of the ‘suit virus’ that passes between suits and disables the wearers nervous system, that network of blackening lines on the face, is very similar to the Cybermen neurotrophic virus used in Moonbase and Revenge. I’m left with a haunting impression that this could actually have been the greatest Cyberman story that we’ve never seen in the modern era.

    Something else from the past that I’m surprised our Frobisher appreciation society pals @wolfweed @jimthefish and @frobisher didn’t mention – the run of Doctor Who comics for Six with the Penguin introduced the ‘Skeletoids’ basically a design for a space combat suit with AI. The AIs decided that the weak link in the ongoing strategy were the humans inside, so they kept them docile while they went about their business and until they went nice and gooey.


    Ultimately though, I think it’s a delight to have that message that capitalism taken to its logical extreme sees its workers as easily disposable assets broadcast on a Saturday night. I wonder if Theresa May still claims to be a fan?

    Like @miapatrick , while I’m looking favourably at the initial batch of Episodes for message and essentially ‘doubling down’ on certain issues, I’m hoping that tonight’s episode by Moffat ups the bonkers level significantly. A conceptual trio of linked stories by Moffat, the writer of Kill the Moon and writer of God Complex may be just the ticket.

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    Oooh – An early entry on choose-a-choon from @wolfweed .

    I’m afraid my choice is a little more predictable. Yes, it’s Knock on Wood.

    Possibly not the one you were expecting though. 😉

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    I don’t really know Mike Bartlett, as Doctor Foster passed me by. That was a nice little self-contained house of horror story though, and the general feel of it, with the rumbling thunder and lightning in the background, was just right.

    Again, there were a couple of notes in Capaldi’s performance that I think I want to rewatch. I don’t know if anyone missed it, but the BBC are releasing a version of this story with a soundtrack designed to provide a 3D experience if you use headphones on i-player. I have no idea how or if this will be available outside the UK, but I think I’ll try to do my rewatch using that version. There is an article about it with a couple of comparison clips here.

    My single watch of Thin Ice didn’t throw any immediate Bowie references at me, but the storage box for the 1977 residents in this had a seven inch single of ‘Heroes’ inside it. Result!

    Do we think there are any other candidates for being in the vault other than Missy with that dialogue at the end?

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    My commiserations on your workload. I find myself in a similar position as you can probably guess. It’s frustrating as I would have liked more time to talk through Moffat s last full series as showrunner.

    & @nick

    Thanks both for the comments, and I agree. One of the things I was going to mention was that the stories superficial similarities to The Beast Below (which I think many people have picked up on) really highlight this issue. In that, we had Amy becoming familiar with the Doctor and his instincts to break his rules ‘whenever a Child cries’.

    I was just thinking about the Mysterio Christmas special and the Doctors instinctive grabbing onto Grants legs and he rises and flies. There is something in the scene with Spider that is troubling. It is that lack of immediate instinct and apparent care. There is a lot of ambiguity in Capaldi s performance around this point, but is that fear?

    I also can’t help but remember Sarah Dollard s last script in Face the Raven. The transformation in Clara to mirror the Doctor making her more fearless (or reckless). If this is the opposite, with the Doctor becoming more human, is he more fearful? As in that a more immediate instinct for self preservation is kicking in?

    Good to see you back @nick. I don’t think you were around to comment on The Pilot, so the bit that made me sit up was the line:

    Bill: I saw it all for a moment. Everything out there. She was going to let me fly with her. She was inviting me. I was too scared.
    The Doctor: Scared is good. Scared is rational. She wasn’t human anymore.

    And then the Doctor offers her the same thing as Heather (Everything out there). He’s never been human though, but perhaps living like a human is making him subconsciously think from their/our perspective?

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    Late last week also saw the news of the passing of a true great in comics and illustration, Leo Baxendale. There is a fine & comprehensive tribute to the man by the Guardian’s political cartoonist Steve Bell, here.

    From my point of view growing up as a nipper in the 1970s, some of his biggest achievements were in the past. He was responsible for creating characters like Minnie the Minx and The Bash Street Kids in The Beano during the 1950s and 1960s. His combination of intricate jokes and anarchic anti authority stance were hugely popular and influential. His first strip for the Bash Street Kids saw them commandeer a tank and deliberately crash it into a Police station. That’s pretty strong now. Imagine it in the buttoned up 1950s!

    The material I experienced in the 1970s included his work on Wham with Grimly Feendish (surely the inspiration for Gru in Despicable Me) and the completely and wonderfully bonkers Badtime Bedtime and Willy the Kid books. A heady combination of anarchic subversion with occasional forays into the macabre.

    Those later books sometimes drew on or lovingly parodied concepts from Doctor Who, which was always a delight when two of your childhood interests came together. From the Willy the Kid books, Willy meets the Loch Ness Dalek:

    The Loch Ness Dalek

    If anyone wants to learn a bit more about this period in comics, and the impact Leo had (he features), this BBC documentary narrated by Armando Iannucci is fab:

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    @blenkinsopthebrave @janetteb

    Yes, very sad about the death of Moray Watson. One of those character actors who always seemed to turn up in things I’d be drawn to. Such a long career as well, all the way back to The Quatermass Experiment in ‘53.

    We did indeed look back on Black Orchid during our last major series of retrospectives.

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    So Thin Ice. Generally loved the look and feel of this one. After Smile, which seemed almost a two-hander for the majority of it’s run time, this one seemed bursting with life with the kids, revellers, performers a moustache twirler of villain and assorted henchmen.

    I think the relatively simple story with so many repeated aspects does allow a glimpse of what may be the defining characteristic for Capaldi’s final year – the change in the Doctor that inevitably leads to regeneration. With 10 it was the Time Lord Victorious stuff. With 12 I think it’s the fact that he is thinking and, more importantly, reacting immediately like a human. The Doctor’s speech about how progress is measured is brilliant. The flaw is that it’s delivered after the punch.

    The punch. Who doesn’t love a punched fascist? I have a phone gif of Rory punching Hitler that I can watch and it always raises a smile. It’s a very human reaction isn’t it? Not really the Doctors style though. In fact it’s lampshaded immediately before with the I’m a 2000 year old alien and I don’t have the time for the luxury of outrage bit. Followed by a instinctive outraged punch.

    The child drowning is also unusually positioned. Like @whisht it originally occurred to me they were highlighting the Doctors more ‘alien’ quality, but I think we are past that now. I think the only time Capaldi has played it slightly aloof with a Child was with Danny Pink, very early on. His subsequent child encounters such as In the forest of the night, young Davros, through to his delight at Rigsby’s baby ‘Bring the New Human!’ and his easy relationship with young Grant in the Christmas special. This scene doesn’t really feel quite right somehow. Maybe after a rewatch.

    So yes, I think I’m adding these to my list of slightly off-putting Doctor behaviour to consider as the series goes on. Like the line about Heather not being human, and the instinctive desire to blow up the Vardy in Smile.

    Can’t wait for tonight. That’s the one good thing about not being able to watch this one until today. I get a double bill! Or double the Bill, even!

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    @mersey @jimthefish @juniperfish @mudlark @bluesqueakpip

    Just as a contribution on the tricky question of clues and our interpretation of them, my own particular take on them is this:

    A lot of what we talk about is invariably a construct we propose and then test. The one thing I’ve always liked about this forum and the group of people who participate in it and, in the past, our former home of the Guardian was the breadth of knowledge we bring to the table. I suppose the ultimate question is whether you think the show deserves such analysis or not.

    I think it does, and perhaps I can give an indication of why. The costume designer from Asylum of the Daleks through to Last Christmas was a guy called Howard Burden. A nice bloke and lovely interviewee (his previous work includes Red Dwarf and he appears quite a lot on the extensive DVD documentaries for that show). His interview in Doctor Who magazine when he ‘retired’ was actually quite revealing. For the series he worked on (7 & 8) he was given comprehensive notes from Moffat on the episodes, notes on the periods the show was visiting and the ultimate goals and ideas of the series Arc. He was then left to work with the Directors, cast and wider production to make choices reflecting what he had been told with practicalities like the Actor’s personal tastes.

    It’s a fascinating glimpse into a deep production process from a point of view I’ve never really followed – clothes. He confirmed he played with reds and blues for the Doctor “continuing the trend of his predecessor”. This will surely delight @juniperfish whose dogged determination in following the red and blue shift of the Eleventh Doctor’s bow-ties is legendary. He worked extensively with Jenna in Series seven to mirror the Doctor (note red in Asylum and blue in the Snowmen) but also made use of anachronistic combinations of styles in the lead up to Name of the Doctor to indicate Clara was ‘misplaced in time’. The choice of poppy print blouses throughout series eight for Clara was a choice based on the final revelation of the soldier’s promise and Remembrance. It’s astonishing stuff that just indicates a fraction of the stylistic and symbolic significance that the wider production team place into the series because they are encouraged to think that way.

    I, like many others, would love to see a RTD style ‘Writer’s Tale’ style book from Moffat on his approach. I think it would confirm a lot of aspects we talk about in terms of ‘texture’ to the show. I enjoyed Russell s take on the show in the main but there appears to be a massive gear change with Moffat with adventurous choices in writing, production and direction. Much more experimental.

    As for certain lines of thought or clues being ‘dead ends’ I must point out that Moffat loves misdirection both in real life and scripts. It’s a tradition in the Detective fiction works that @mersey compares it to. The ‘Red Herring’, a clue deliberately placed to misdirect or provide false alibi, etc. In some ways, I think references to Magician’s and conjurers are, in a small way, how Moffat may see his own work. Show the audience a puzzle box, and misdirect them with sleight of hand. I’m sure this approach infuriates as many as it attracts. I’m one them it attracts. I don’t think we’ll get that book I mentioned earlier though. Conjurers are loath to reveal how their tricks work. They prefer to have it talked about and analysed for some time after the event. It adds longevity.

    I think I’ll post some thoughts about Chibnall after this series finishes. I can’t help but think it may be a period that won’t engage me as much and will be deliberately more purposefully populist in approach. Whether that actually translates into being ‘popular’ will be another matter. My hope is that Chibnall has been chosen because he’s now best known as a character based mystery writer. One would hope that, even if his own inclination is not to add this ‘texture’, he will be inheriting a production team who will continue to do so.

    Generally I think most of what Moffat has done is commendable. He’s avoided a lot of tricks and traps that devil writers, played with the episode and series structure making the experience unformulaic, discounted huge amounts of troublesome ‘legacy’ continuity and left the ‘whoniverse’ largely reset and open for his successor. Let’s hope Chibnall grasps the legacy with both hands.

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    Great choice of track for Smile. A warm-fuzzy was experienced.

    I was drawn to to concept of the false Smile, with my immediate reaction being old friends of the forum and the people who gave us “Heaven Sent/Hell Bent” (thanks @craig) The The, with Uncertain Smile (a version with Jools Holland from Later with..?)

    But, with the plea for “modern music” combined with the thought the synths were quite strong at certain parts of the soundtrack for Smile, I bring you something from this century. Astonishing, I know. From the Earth year 2005, when a little show called Doctor Who came back. I love the 80s synths at the beginning of this as I love them in Smile. The Killers – Smile Like you mean it.

    As an extra, I thought you, specifically, @whisht may enjoy this because I remember your comments the last time I posted a Carter USM track. It’s a fun cover version of the Pet Shop Boys Rent (The Doctors offer to negotiate made me remember it). I wish it were more widely known rather than being an obscure B-side to a single. Enjoy:

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    No, @thane15 , I think @tardigrade has called this one pretty well, because I came in to make the some of the same points. I hope @tardigrade won’t mind if I post what I wrote last night as it reiterates certain points. Fair warning – @tardisgrade was kinder than I am.


    So, third rewatch and Smile still baffles me slightly. I like a lot of what it does – the start, and exploration of the problem is great (special mention must be to the soundtrack which is quite synth heavy in parts -eerie 80s synths!). It’s the resolution that seems a bit messy. I was sure I’d missed something on the first couple of watches, but I’m not convinced the thing I was looking for was actually there. I was looking for the point of it all.

    I’ll pick out a couple of things I noticed which I think haven’t been discussed first.

    – Bill’s classification of the Doctor as a sort of interstellar policeman is interesting given the montage she later reads in the book that profiles the rise and fall of humanity. The montage before the bomb is heavy with politically charged pictures of Policemen. Orgreave, the Poll Tax protests, race riots are all in there in a ‘Blink and you’ll miss them’ montage. In Bowie terms, ‘take a look at the lawman beating up the wrong guy’, perhaps. I suppose this leads into:

    – The Doctor wanting to blow something up as first option is pretty unusual. It’s more like Pertwee era Brigadier. That’s pretty much mirrored by the reaction of Med-Tech One. He’s the highest qualified Medical person on the mission. He’s a Doctor, and he get’s pretty gung ho himself from the off.

    Both these points are pretty aimless and don’t really play into anything other than maybe the Doctor isn’t as sharp as he was?

    Weirder still, the Doctor seems to preempt that the Vardy are sentient by calling them a ‘generic slave race’ early in the episode. Slavery is a loaded word. You take the freedom from a self determining being by making it do what you want rather than what it wants. I understand the original understood derivation of Robot as ‘slave’ but language changes. If anyone seriously suggested that a BMW assembly Robot was a ‘slave’ I’d be tempted to give them a slap for devalueing the term ‘slave’. The Doctor may as well come into your house an berate you for using a dishwasher or washing machine for doing your chores. “Stop oppressing your Toaster! You could build a fire and burn bread yourself!”

    I think realisation that the Vardy have developed sentience is fine and the relationship between human and Vardy would have to change. But the fact that the Doctors solution on discovering their sentience is to effectively ‘mind wipe’ them as first action doesn’t particularly sit well with the resolution of The Pilot. There are some real mixed signals here, especially the final thought that the hope filled agrarian Utopia could not have developed a relationship between Human and Vardy that was a bit different than – Capitalism, yay!

    Very odd.


    but i accepted it as the least of three evils, the two greater ones being: wipe out the vardy to save the humans (which, if done successfully, would cause the building around them to possibly collapse, or simply doom the colonists to a slow death without their helpers?), or allow the humans to be killed in a war with the vardy (y’know, kinda like humans are wont to do, like, always and forever). the reboot was simply grasping at the closest solution to hand, to save the maximum amount of life, on both sides…

    Maybe there is another option though.

    You know the point at which the Doctor launches the emojibot into the cold fusion reactor, and it squeals? Perhaps we could cut to the others and they show puzzlement? One of us is not here anymore.

    The Doctor could sonic another. A cut scene shows some emojibots with ‘anger’ and some with ‘sorrow’.

    The colonists fire on the emojibots and the Vardi, and the tsumani of emotions resonates. Fear. Anger. Surprise. Sadness. The Vardi, in experiencing loss come to understand ‘grief’ and start to show it with ‘idea’ and ‘embarrassment’ They stay their hand, showing they have understood and they are sentient. And then the negotiations begin. At a point where grief is not the enemy of happiness, but is the fertiliser of hope that may lead to happiness? This may seem trite. There are other ways. I think I would have preferred it to the hollow mess the underlying story actually is though.

    Ultimately I can’t help but think this tries to take a broad swipe at a lot of issues and in too short a time and doesn’t actually connect with any of them. I’ll keep coming back to it as time progresses and see if any themes seem relevant.

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    I have to confess to being totally knackered when I watched this, and I need to rewatch to get a feel for it. Tomorrow!

    Overall though, my first impression was, like @jimthefish ‘old-skool’ with a bit of the jauntiness of the modern show rubbed down. I think they are letting Pearl and Peter gel by having them do a lot of talking in relative quiet moments at the start. If this is a one seriea deal for both of them this could be important – Pearl doesn’t have the time for an expansive arc like Amy and Clara.

    This does look gorgeous though. I think if you go back and watch The End of the World and then compare it to this, the texture and ambition of the show has grown so much.


    * even if the outline was to some extent predictable for anyone who has read a lot of the science fiction written in the past 50 years or more

    Just on that I was interested in the reference to Erewhon, a book that was recommended to me years ago and I’ve still not read. I know it’s a satire on utopias, but I just wondered if anyone has read it?


    I think that may have been Benjamin Cook who writes for DW magazine? I think he said the last time they bumped into each other he said ‘no – I’m not doing Doctor Who’ and ran away. I think the context was more ‘I’m sick of this question’ 😀

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    “I’m so happy, I hope you’re happy too”

    @cathannabel and all. I think the Bowie Game is surely on! 🙂

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    Just got in after a lousy run at work, but my mind’s buzzing with a couple of ideas so I’ll mind-splurge ahead of tonights show.

    Our little game of ‘choose-a-choon’ for The Pilot on the music thread (excellent choice of tracks @whisht and @thane15) found us dwelling on the possibility that Heather was a David Bowie tribute (the girl with the mousy hair, with a disconcerting left eye, and more than a little bit of an unearthly starchild).

    The question that remained was, really, why? Well, I’d forgotten something Peter Capaldi mentioned at the beginning of series 9, another thing on his wish list. He would have loved Bowie to appear on the show (he also said that if he had access to a real TARDIS he’d go back to watch the Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars concerts – showing himself to be a man of impeccable taste). It would have been awesome, especially if they’d gone with my own suggestion of asking him to reprise his role of Nikola Tesla from The Prestige.

    And then came 2016 🙁 . As Peter seems to be getting some of his other wishes granted this year, I’d see this as potentially a tribute by a couple of fan boys.

    I genuinely haven’t met an older fan of Doctor Who who isn’t drawn to Ziggy Stardust. They play on the same turf and the call outs to Bowie over the years in Doctor Who have been many and varied. We also know Doctor Who was very much on his radar. In 1973, after recording Jean Jeanie for Top of the Pops, the band went to the BBC television centre Bar to spend an evening drinking with the Doctor Who team who were working on Planet of the Daleks. Apparently onlookers were convinced that the band (who were still in costume) were making an appearance on the show. Much later, Bowie seriously considered playing Sharaz Jek in Caves of Androzani (it didn’t go ahead because he was on tour and the production could not delay for three weeks. If Peter Davison’s last story had been the end of the season, with another story before it, it could’ve happened. This is another reason (if any were needed) to dislike Twin Dilemma).

    So, yeah, if Heather is part of a tribute then she isn’t a monster and things are not as they seem. Watching this, she’s a mirror for the Doctor. She offers Bill travel in Time and Space and keeps her promise to not leave without her. The Doctor warns against it because ‘she isn’t human anymore’. Neither is the Doctor, of course, he’s never been human. But perhaps living like a human in his rooms and having a day job has led him to forget that to an extent. His ‘alien’ viewpoint may be compromised.

    I just thought I’d put the idea out there. Bowie has a tremendous back catalogue and I’d be lying if I said my knowledge of his career and work was anywhere near comprehensive. I adore the seventies stuff in the main. So, if you think you’ve spotted a reference then make it known.

    If, for example, the Mark Gatiss episode (set on Mars apparently) sees the appearance of John Simm as the Master, then that is intertextual gold (John being the Star of Life on Mars of course, a show I’ll recommend to anyone who hasn’t seen it).

    See you all after the (freakiest) show.

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    I was trying to think of a good music link for this and failed with Pilot, but then thought “well, this is more about The Passenger isn’t it?”.

    Hence The Iggster of Pop with The Passenger. Then I paused, and thought “oooh”. Iggy wrote the song while a passenger in David Bowie’s touring car. There were some suggestions Bowie may have contributed to writing it, uncredited, but he absolutely provided backing vocals, Piano and Organ. The slogan for this series is “A Time for Heroes”, and the first episode features an space oddity with an unusual eye. Bowie didn’t have heterochromia, but anisocoria, as this interesting article explains.

    Indeed, the ‘star shape’ on Heather radiates around her black iris. Almost like a heliosphere to a central ‘Black Star’. Wondering if there are little tributes going on here in the first series since Bowie’s death?

    Still, I do think this works (especially Water Heather’s mind meld appeal to Bill):

    We’ll see the bright and hollow sky
    We’ll see the stars that shine so bright
    The sky was made for us tonight

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    and of course Bill and Heather is a nice little tribute to (the) Hartnell(s)

    Oh, well done that fish. Didn’t think of that reference at all. William “Bill” Hartnell and Heather McIntyre. A definite love story. I suddenly feel the need to rewatch An Adventure in Space and Time.

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    You’re back! And it’s about time! 😉

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    Movellans. That necessitated a rewatch of Destiny of the Daleks

    I don’t really believe in the concept of ‘guilty pleasure’ but I have to confess that Destiny of the Daleks (a story most fans give a good kicking) is the nearest I’ll come to it.

    As an adult I recognise its limitations. It’s a weak sequel to a big story (Genesis).

    But it does have some glorious Douglas Adams touches (he was Script Editor) including introducing Oolon Colluphid, the author of the “trilogy of philosophical blockbusters” entitled Where God Went Wrong, Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes and Who is this God Person Anyway? from HHGTTG to Doctor Who. The Doctor is pretty scathing when he reads one of his books while trapped.

    It introduces Lalla Ward who is officially awesome as Romana. Her relationship with the Doctor a delight from the off. Having Adams on board, the jokes come thick and fast.

    I have a massive soft spot for the disco robots. When I first saw the story I thought that the idea that their spacecraft buried themselves on landing was such a cool concept.

    It’s funny, but they were in the same season as Shada, the story Douglas Adams wrote that had to be abandoned because of a BBC strike for the Studio work. Shada saw a retired TimeLord living in a University as Professor Chronotis, which this set up certainly reminds me of. I wondered if the inclusion of The Movellans was to reinforce that link?

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    After a second viewing I reiterate my love for this.

    Thinking about it, there are a couple of vibes I picked up on this (I think @juniperfish called one with the Rose and chips vibes).

    The main ones in terms of AG years came from series 5 and 6. During early series 6 we (and I’m sure @juniperfish will remember this) expended a lot of pixels on the Guardian blogs talking about ‘watery portals’ and the prevalence of water both as symbolic of time and as a mirror to other realms and dimensions. The other is The Lodger from series 5. An intelligent machine seeking a pilot and gauging candidates by their desire to not be in the place/situation they were in. A desire to escape. But this seems different and, somehow, kinder? The Silent Time Machine simply sought a pilot. This one sought a pilot and companion. Someone to share the journey and escape the mundane.

    I can’t help thinking that this will be one of those occasions that the Doctor may have it wrong, and rather than a malevolent digesting of Heather, this is something else completely. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of her. As the Doctor has said, It’s a big Universe. In front of the TARDIS. (Can I just say, in my capacity as a former Goth teenager of the eighties that if you locked eyes with someone as Bill and Heather did, with Love Will Tear Us Apart as a soundtrack, you may have just found The One, rather than having a crush).

    This would fit in with both Series 8&9 both featuring characters as Orpheus, braving extremes like the Nethersphere and Confession Dial to recover loved ones.

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    Hi all,

    I was genuinely over the moon with that, a lovely introduction to the series and for Bill.

    Recent Episodes have got to breakneck speed, but the leisurely pace at the start goes all the way back to Rose, I think, in the amount of space allowed to introduce a companion to the Doctor.

    SMs previous companions have been central to a specific mystery, and I though he was going to play a similar trick here, with the Doctors obvious fascination with Bill from the off. Not so, I now think. The fact that she is so Sci-Fi aware could lead to a great avenue to uncovering the real mystery of the vault though, with its mysterious Gallifreyan writings. Not the first time the Doctor has secreted an ancient Gallifreyan artifact near an educational institution. The egg-whisk of Rassilon, perhaps.

    We really should list outstanding plot points from the last couple of series though. Rassilon, out there, for instance. I’ll post some thoughts on the BBC approved spoiler thread tomorrow about that final trailer. That got the blood pumping!

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    @juniperfish @theconsultingdoctor @thane15

    Just on your mediations on memory in Series 4, can I suggest when you rewatch from the start of series 1 you listen out for references to memory. They are many and varied, and when Moffat repeats something in a long game it is usually relevant.

    As well as memory, you’ll find references to traumatic childhood in many episodes or, when absent, you may see a child undergoing a traumatic experience (such as the focus on the little girl who sees John trapped in the Bonfire). The Holy Grail of references though – Chekhov’s Dog, if you will, takes place in Series 2 and is reinforced in His Last Vow with Magnussen’s ‘scan’ of Sherlock.

    @theconsultingdoctor posted a meta thingy which almost had it on the Abominable Bride thread (congratulations to the author).

    The text reads in the Red Pressure points

    Redbeard (see file)
    Hound of the Baskervilles

    So, in that episode, Henry Knight sees his father killed by what he thinks is a monstrous dog. He’s so wrong.

    Sherlock: Someone needed to keep you quiet. Needed to keep you as a child to reassert the dream that you both clung on to. Because you had started to remember. Remember now, Henry. You’ve got to remember. What happened here when you were a little boy?
    Henry: I thought it had got my dad. The hound. Oh Jesus, I don’t— I don’t know anymore! I don’t …
    Sherlock: Henry, remember. “Liberty in”. Two words. Two words a frightened little boy saw here twenty years ago. You started to piece things together, remember what really happened here that night. It wasn’t an animal, was it, Henry? Not a monster. A man.
    Sherlock: You couldn’t cope. You were just a child. So you rationalized it into something very different. Then you started to remember so you had to be stopped. Driven out of your mind so no one would believe a word you said.

    Now that is great isn’t it? A traumatised child rationalises a human being into a dog. You can understand why, even as a child he subsequently tried to get the police to investigate the Carl Powers Murder (from the last episode of series 1). His first case and Moriarty’s first victim perhaps. One child killing another by ensuring he drowned. Something disturbed the Deep waters of his subconscious.

    This was expertly put together.

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    Yes, I think Moffat was having more than a little inter-textual fun with Who/ Sherlock this year.

    Thanks for responding to the hypertext query. Probably my faulty understanding of the Wikipedia entry:

    Hypotext is an earlier text which serves as the source of a subsequent piece of literature, or hypertext. For example, Homer’s Odyssey could be regarded as the hypotext for James Joyce’s Ulysses.

    So I suppose from that example ACD stories are the Hypotext to Sherlock’s Hypertext?

    I think the ‘game’ has been going on from the start though, although it’s very Timey Wimey. Concepts like Clara being addicted to danger in Series 9 mirrors Johns from series 1. The Mind Palace makes a transition from Sherlock to Doctor Who in Heaven Sent. In return, in this series of Sherlock we have a theme of confession and characters forced to make confessions in a seabound fortress (the confession Dial).

    Moffat was once asked how he kept writing Sherlock and Doctor Who apart in his head and he suggested:

    “I just remember that Doctor Who is about a God who wants to be more human, and Sherlock is about a human who wants to be God”

    But both are, apparently “Great men who may well turn out to be Good ones”

    It’s an interesting puzzle and if you consider this from that God analogy, that Sherlock often waxes lyrical about the “icy cold reason he holds above all else.” He also makes the point in the first episode that if he enough data he could foresee every possibility. He would, in effect, by omnipotent. The trail of prediction he makes in The lying Detective would seem to suggest this.

    From this perspective and knowing that Eurus is much, much better at this than him, then when he walks into that cell, he’s not meeting his sister, he’s daring to approach a God (she is well named). In a meaningful way, she is the God who created the person that Sherlock is now. She’s Nemesis (in the Goddess meaning of the word). I’m not surprised he forgot the code word!

    I think the concern about John not recognising bones has to be taken in context with the situation he was in. In a well, poor lighting, under stress. Also, I’m sure he could name all the bones in a body as he breaks them because they are neatly arranged in a body. During murder investigations it can take an expert to identify random bits of one mammal from another. From this, I think you can safely deduce that I’ve watched far too much of the series ‘Bones’, Doctor Temperance Brennen being another direct inheritor of the ACD legacy.

    The big question for me regarding the thematic climax of this and Doctor Who is that if this is a man who wishes to become a god, meets one and finds that result to be something terrible what does that mean for the God who wants to be more human?

    If Eurus represents Missy, will she also act as Nemesis and give the Doctor what he deserves? After all, from The Magician’s Apprentice.

    Doctor: Davros is my archenemy. Why would I want to talk to him?
    Missy: No, wait. Hang on a minute, Davros is your archenemy now?
    The Doctor: Hush.
    Missy: I’ll scratch his eye out.

    I think the unspoken question here is if Davros is the archenemy, then what is Missy?

    I think Moffat deliberately avoids confusing Nemesis and archenemy because he thinks of them as separate things, even though common usage has blurred them. I’ll touch on that and other bits and pieces you’ve mentioned in Who when I get to The return of Doctor Mysterio. Because in that story the Doctor is Grants Nemesis.

    I will say that in mapping characters across I think John would represent every companion, but because we deal with a mortal hero he is the constant companion. (This observation doesn’t exclude a sexual relationship between John and Sherlock – the game may use similar characters, events and concepts with different or opposite consequences)

    If Irene Adler represents the introduction of the femme fatale to adventure literature then her equivalent in Who is River Song. Both Sherlock and the Doctor are excited by the intellectual challenge as well as being frustrated by them. To them, they are ‘the Woman’.

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    @blenkinsopthebrave @thane15 @craig @juniperfish

    Many thanks for the kind welcome and best wishes. Much appreciated. I hope you’ll forgive me when I have to drop out of conversation though. Things are still difficult and I’m really hoping that they’ll be better by the time the good Doctor returns in April. And hugs are always welcome Craig.

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    Did you miss me? 😉

    Firstly, a question to all the writers on the forum (of which we have an embarrassment of riches). If we consider the intertextuality of Sherlock and Doctor Who (the deliberate and pointed exchange of ideas between the two) does the fact that they are written in parallel preclude them being considered hypertexts? Is there a better word for what they are? Of course, Sherlock uses its relationship to ACD as its hypertext, and I think drawing a line between ACD towards both BG and AG Who may be the point of Sherlock anyway, so the question may be redundant.

    Secondly, apologies for absence. Life (and, unfortunately, a death) rather ruined my 2016 from the start. Let’s just say that the depression of Brexit and Trump suited my mood perfectly. Hopefully, circumstances will be better when Doctor Who returns.

    As such, I’ve only recently been able to catch up with the latest offerings from both Doctor Who and Sherlock. Astonishing they are, and if this is the audacious end for Sherlock I applaud it (While hoping for more, obviously).

    From the Abominable Bride thread I congratulate the deductive powers of those that unraveled the plot and pointed out the gender neutrality of the sibling (forum cap goes to @blenkinsopthebrave for that I think) and the astonishing knowledge of ACDs canon from @jimthefish , @bluesqueakpip and others. It was an important episode for me for another reason, as the Bride herself unlocked another aspect of this remarkable series. Unfortunately, I’d spent some time whining about this particular aspect, so the blame is mine for not spotting it earlier. I don’t have the depth of knowledge of the Holmes canon that others do, but I do know a good deal of obscure pop culture.

    For if we look at what, at the beginning of Sherlock, Gatiss and Moffat promised to do, they’ve done something stunning. They promised to have fun with the canon and be less reverential than other adaptations. Liberties would be taken, other adaptations referenced and paid tribute to, and the wider cultural impact of ACDs legacy celebrated. And the last one’s the killer.


    Reading The Final Problem as taking place in the hitherto established “real world” of BBC Sherlock makes absolutely no sense. As @mudlark says there are too many ridiculous and improbable fictions. Eurus has been able to enslave people with her mind since she was five? Then why did she stay locked up on Sherrinford for so long, if she can escape any time she likes?!?!?

    I think considering the world of Sherlock to be the, or a “real world” is a mistake, and one which is possibly the cause of much recent criticism. You see, we are actually forewarned about the nature of this world in A Study in Pink with the play on Mycroft’s identity during their first encounter.

    Watson: His enemy?
    Mycroft: In his mind certainly. If you were to ask him he’d probably say his archenemy. He does love to be dramatic.
    Watson: Well thank god you’re above all that.

    It’s a misdirection, obviously – the audience is supposed to think that Mycroft is Moriarty. We then get:

    Watson: People don’t have archenemies.
    Holmes: What?
    Watson: In real life. People don’t have archenemies.
    Holmes: That sounds a bit dull. So what do people have in their real lives?
    Watson: Friends, people they like, people they don’t like, boyfriends, girlfriends.
    Holmes: Like I said, dull.

    Ultimately, Moffat is a fair writer. We know that we aren’t in the real world or real life. We know that Sherlock does have an archenemy. The world of Sherlock is filled with archenemies, supervillains (“See Sherlock battle the monstrous …. Gollum!”), secret government installations conducting genetic experiments, fiends, femme fatales, super spies and, ultimately, Nemesis.

    As series 4 starts we are wrapping up our adventures in Spy world (let’s call it for now) after the confrontation with the Bondiest Bond villain imaginable. The tone starts to change and become disturbing and hallucinogenic (as @blenkinsopthebrave notes). The world of Sherlock is being invaded by a disturbing force representing the final inheritor of a mini tour of cultural inheritance. Do we not now see who Eurus represents?

    MISS ME? But who is me?
    MISS Eurus
    MISS E

    Because Sherlock is being invaded by Doctor Who and Eurus is the Master. Introduced by Terrance Dicks to be (in his own words) the Moriarty to the most Holmes inspired Doctor ever. The Master of disguise. The Master of hypnotism who, when UNIT captured him and locked him up in a prison, takes it over and makes it a convenient headquarters with enslaved servants and all the Clangers he wanted. The Master, whose most recent incarnation came back female when people expected him to be a man. One of the Doctors own people (in Sherlock terms, she’s a Holmes). Someone who knows his secrets and challenges him to see things from his/her point of view.

    It’s a brilliant conceit, this Great Game of cultural intertextuality that has overlain Sherlock. Culverton Smith, for example, is one Monster (a serial killer) who represents another. How often do monsters in Who act as a metaphor for the worst of humanity? And through this Great Game we can examine another legacy of ACD – the one that everyone forgets in discussing the great Sherlock Holmes. John Watson.

    Season three, for example, sees Sherlock enter the world of Bond. Bond is an indirect inheritor of ACD. Fleming described Bond as Bulldog Drummond from the waist up and Mickey Spillane from the waist down. A blunt instrument. Bulldog Drummond, a replacement (and reaction to) Holmes in The Strand Magazine. Not the ‘effete intellectual’ but a man’s man. Led with his fists with no follow up. An easy patriot and right wing bigot. Mickey Spillane, whose tails of Private Dicks being led by theirs as they followed the femme fatale figure through mundane intrigues. With Fleming boasting a literary inheritance like that no wonder Bond is the man he is.

    What Fleming took from ACD directly is the archenemy and ran with it. Every time you see a Bond Villain, with their networks of agents and strange plans you see a shadow of Moriarty. So when we meet Charles Augustus Magnussen he’s clearly a Bond Villain. Hear him say his name in that carefully controlled voice in His Last Vow. When you have the voice in your head imagine him saying Ernst Stavro Blofeld. He’s even played by an actor whose brother recently played a Bond Villain! It’s brilliant!

    And so is the series metatext. We’ve already been informed by Mycroft that Sherlock is not the “blunt instrument” of Bond in text. What is Sherlock? He’s “a finely honed surgical instrument wielded with precision”. After the setup establishing Spy World in the Empty Hearse, we get the marriage in the Sign of Three. We are introduced to the Mayfly Man and, let’s be clear here, he’s James Bond. Or rather the Mayfly Man is an assassin who uses women to gain information and access to his target. Pretty much the historic M.O. of Bond. His plan thwarted and his methods treated with contempt by Sherlock, he delivers his verdict. “You should have remained in the shadows”.

    In the next episode something strange has happened. Sherlock uses Janine to gain access to his target. We soon discover why, because we have undergone an exchange of power. Sherlock has traded John Watson to a Spy, Mary, in an episode that revels in revealing to us the astonishing human being John is (a magnificent piece of writing).

    The man who can redeem ridiculous men like Sherlock has been traded to a Spy, and he seems to have lost his moral superiority. It’s also dulled his senses because he’s treating Magnussen as a Bond villain, forgetting that all Bond villains are shadows of Moriarty. He assumes that Magnussen’s power comes from his glasses, a gadget (Bond and his enemies are obsessed with technology) or to be found in his Supervillain HQ of Appledore. Magnussen, however, is just a renamed Holmes villain and a distorted reflection of Sherlock. He’s equipped with a Mind Palace.

    Faced with a threat to John and Mary, Sherlock has a choice. Lose Watson forever and face a life of Bond, or become the blunt instrument temporarily and hope for redemption later. He chooses the latter and shoots Magnussen. Mycroft looks down at his Brother and sees a lost little boy. In the light of the finale, we fully comprehend and have context for all this. Magnussen may have had access to a file marked Redbeard, but he couldn’t have comprehended the psychology he was dealing with. He’s threatened to take away the best friend of Sherlock Holmes.

    The final act of this story becomes apparent in Series 4, Watson shows that he can redeem ridiculous spies to the point they can make a sacrifice themselves. Bond can never be redeemed because the authors Fleming used to formulate Bond didn’t understand the power of Sherlock Holmes. They underestimated the requirement for a Watson. A Watson can redeem a Spy to the point that they will sacrifice themselves for friendship. Bond is not Sherlock Holmes because he has no real friends.

    I ask you. Imagine going to the trouble of putting all that together, underlying the obvious narrative, and being presented with a Guardian article saying Sherlock is becoming Bond and this must not stand! Were they taking the piss, do you think? Gatiss wrote a poem. Presumably after screaming in frustration for three continuous hours.

    I won’t bore you with the meta for Series 2, just point out that we explore the idea of Sherlock through the eyes of one of his earlier cultural successors. Gotham’s Dark Detective, Batman. Remember the ‘Hat Man and Robin’ headlines in Scandal? The feline quality of Irene Adler, seeing her through a filter of Selina Kyle, Catwoman (The Whip Hand, indeed). With Lestrade as Jim Gordon trying to work out which side of the law Sherlock stands. All a cunning trap weaved by a Moriarty seen through the filter of Batman’s own archenemy, The Joker. This last part, some may remember, was my whinge. “Why him, again!”, I despaired. Then is saw the Bride. Well yes, she is the bloody Joker with her white face and smeared lipstick. Lestrade’s description as he calms his nerves with a drink is straight from the comics. She’s the avatar for Sherlock to work out how Moriarty survived. Nuff said.

    It’s just another layer of intertextuality weaved in the mix. The cultural inheritance of ACD. Another part of The Great Game. Did you spot the Alan Moore references, future followers of the game may ask? What could they mean? Did he write for Sherlock Holmes!? (He did, as it happens, in a work that made these points by imposing modern ideas from pop culture on their earlier counterparts). There are others and the game can lead you to many interesting destinations. I’m still being rewarded with other references.

    Yep – they did it. They delivered. All of their promises with wit, style, grace, adventurous direction and writing that befit something based on the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

    When the initial overreactions have calmed down and the increasingly vitriolic internet takes a collective deep breath I think these episodes will be re-evaluated and increasingly celebrated. The message will sink in and the ramifications considered. Just how much popular culture has ACD influenced? The mind boggles. He deserves the tribute, and the fact that fans of caped crusaders, super spies and wandering travellers in time and space and huffily saying that it’s a bit comic book/Bond like/Doctor Who-ish just means that they haven’t got the message. ACD started all this.

    Remarkable TV.

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    @lisa (and others)

    I think he may have been a tad disingenuous

    I think ‘disingenuous’ is an interesting word to use in the wider context of this debate.

    For example, your Oncologist friend, who is complaining that the EU limits her working hours, may be being a little bit disingenuous in her presentation of the issue. Because I know it to be a fact that she, along with her entire noble profession, has the ability to opt out of the EU Working Time Directive that limits her time to 48hours per week.

    If you disbelieve me then consider the guidance issued by the British Medical Association (BMA), your friends Professional body that actually have the power to strip someone of their Medical Practice certification.

    It is not possible to opt out of the rest requirements, so doctors will still need to ensure they take the necessary breaks, and their employer will still need to monitor the hours they work. The opt out provision is available to all doctors, however the CC strongly recommends that doctors do not opt out of the collective agreement and are afforded full protection under this health and safety legislation. If you do opt out, make sure you get paid the appropriate number of PAs.

    So you can opt out and work more hours as long as you acknowledge the breaks suggested. That’s pretty fair isn’t it? Would you feel comfortable with primary care delivered by a health professional who was obliged to remain on call for 36 continuous hours? That was the situation before these hard won rights were delivered by the EU. Tiredness and stress are big killers, as the health profession continually remind us. It’s probably for that reason, whenever this issue comes up at BMA conferences, Medical practitioners vote overwhelmingly to support them these days. And that the Consultants Committee (CC) advise people like your friend not to take that route. It remains her right to disagree with the consensus. And opt out.

    The video you posted is highly disingenuous, having been funded by the backers of UKIP. I smiled at the sight of some old ‘friends’ that have since left the building. Don’t you find it odd that videos produced in the 2000s rely so much on video and issues from the 1970s? Seriously, to put this into context, in the horrible event of a Trump victory, it would be like saying to a Democrate “naaah mate. Don’t worry. It’ll be alright! Just look at this!!”. And then post a Youtube link to one of Trumps speeches.

    Finally, the dredging question. I’ve said on many occasions that I am an environmental consultant. It’s what I’ve done for the best part of twenty years. My original discipline was Chemistry to degree level. My MSc is in Environmental Science. I’ve conducted flood risk assessments (site specific, so some supported, some refused), developed mitigation methods and flood defences, investigated flood events in four countries, provided expert witness testimony in Civil and Crown Courts, and contributed to numerous research projects for insurers and regulatory bodies such as the Environment Agency and Scottish Environmental Protection Agency. This is my turf.

    My considered opinion on the question of dredging is that it is offensively simplistic to allocate any blame on mass flooding events to a lack of dredging. It’s a simple sound bite for simplistic politicians to be spoon-fed by aligned media to a credulous audience who cannot, or will not, face the true ramifications of global warming coupled with our failure to adequately plan development on River catchment areas.

    Any housing, industrial or retail development (with roofed or paved areas) that we add to the mix simply collects water. A lot of it. Whereas before it would percolate slowly downwards through soil to join the aquifer and flow underground to the nearest water body, we efficiently collect it, and send it at high velocity directly towards the nearest surface water. Couple that with changing climate that tends towards short but devastating periodic volumes and you have a disaster. Home government places a low priority on the EU led call for Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) which stop this type of thing (the UK MEPs watered (ho-ho) down the original Directive which would have made SUDS in development a priority). Apparently it was down to us retaining our Sovereignty. Or something.

    In over 40 major flooding events I have studied (including two big ones in Carlisle) the damage that could have been prevented by dredging amounts to a fraction of 1%. It is perverse to blame this on the EU when there is no prohibition on the dredging of Rivers AND the UK regularly dips into the EUs emergency budget when it looks like they, and insurers, are going to fail to deliver effective remediation.

    On our beloved Sovereignty. I’m led to believe by Politicians with their tongues firmly in their cheeks that this is what they campaigned upon, and not demonising foreigners.

    I thought our Sovereignty was pretty much intact to be honest. We and France insist on maintaining a ruinous nuclear deterrent no matter how many of the other EU members laugh at us. We maintained the right to join an ill thought out Invasion of Iraq in spite of our European partners having some serious concerns. We’ve been allowed to implement policies and foster a system where social mobility becomes less likely, and conduct periodic fire sales of our assets to multinationals while more sensible European Partners jealously hang on to theirs.

    But no – we’ve truly taken back control, my friends. I have a dream! We will finally have our freedom. Our freedom to be potentially misdiagnosed or mistreated by a junior Doctor Who hasn’t had much sleep in the last week. And blame them. Our freedom to, once again, become the dirty man of Europe. We can let our children paddle in shit infested coastal waters (never did us any harm), breath freely on airborne pollutants (put hairs on your chest) and roll back the many social and environmental benefits we’ve taken for granted! Let us march proudly backwards to the 1970s!

    Funny how some dreams turn so rapidly to nightmares, isn’t it?

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    During my absence I’ve contributed to a Doctor Who Kickstarter campaign (The campaign is fully funded now, so no pleading for your hard earned dosh). If you’re currently twiddling your thumbs as you wait for the next series of Doctor Who, this may give you a thumb alternative from September.

    The campaign was to help pay the licensing costs for a full conversion of the Bally Doctor Who pinball table of the early 1990s into a digital format to play on a device of your choice through Farsights Pinball Arcade App.

    I’ve long been a fan of the silver ball and encountered the Doctor Who table in a Bradford pub in 92. It was a marvellous experience for a number of reasons. Primarily because this was post cancellation and the future of the series seemed to lie solely in book form with the New Adventures. This was new, fun and strangely comforting. Perhaps there was life in the old dog yet?

    @jimthefish wrote a great blog about the troubled history of Doctor Who computer games (although I don’t seem to be able to find it at the moment), and some of the reasons for the difficulty in translating the Doctor to your computer screen. It’s a problem the more abstract arcade pinball table never had.

    It has a plot of sorts, separated into three episodes. That naughty Master has trapped all the incarnations of the Doctor at various points in their history with his devilish Time Expander. The Seventh Doctor and Ace manage to escape and must try to free other incarnations of the Doctor (you select a Doctor at the start of each ball). It later emerges that the true power behind the plan is Davros and his Daleks. The Doctors must unite in multiball madness mode to throw waves of invading Daleks into the Time Vortex.

    The table really was a gem. Both the Mechanical and Electrical Engineer involved were big American fans of the show from the PBS era. Sylvester McCoy, Anthony Ainley and Terry Malloy recorded dialogue for the soundtrack, and there were lovely little flourishes. One of the interesting things was the selection of Doctor changed the rules (or perhaps the personality) of the table and therefore you could develop different strategies for gaining the most points for those beery as hoc tournaments we indulged in at University.

    So, in the run-up to the 30th anniversary in 1993, we had The Seven Doctors anniversary special delivered through the anarchic medium of the silver ball. Much better than Dimensions in Time.

    Pinball Arcade is available for just about every device format available today. I tend to play on a relatively inexpensive Acer tablet running Android. Download is free and comes complete with complete access to the Tales of the Arabian Nights table. You can also download trial versions of any of the other tables which let you play to a score limit. You can buy full access to any table or Seasons of table thereafter if you are interested. A new digitised table is released each month and there is a table of the month feature in which you get unlimited plày on one of the older tables.

    I’ve found it a great way to revisit some old favourites like Funhouse, Addams Family and Twilight Zone while getting a chance to experience many tables I’ve just heard about by reputation (both good and bad).


    Due to the relative success of the Kick-starter and the cooperation of the BBC the developer has gained not only the rights to the various actors, writers and estates of those involved in the original table, but additional ones as well.

    They intend to release Doctor Who Pinball: Regenerated to bring the table up to date with post 7 Doctors and features. The layout of the table (ramps, ball runs, etc) will be the same but it sounds very interesting. An image of John Hurt as the War Doctor was released as “how he will appear on the playfield’ to suggest they are going for a more photorealistic backdrop.

    The teasing blurb for the game reads:

    The Doctor’s existence is fading… and only you can save him!

    After reshaping the events of the Time War, paradoxical fissures have created a causal nexus by ripping the very fabric of space and time. Taking advantage of these anomalies, the Doctor’s most devious adversaries have entered these tears in an effort to defeat him across various points in his life.

    Like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff…

    As his newest companion, you can relive all the best moments from the Doctor’s most recent incarnations and adventures.

    Revisit old friends. Battle against terrifying villains and monsters. Save the universe with attack eyebrows.

    Come on pudding brains, what are you waiting for?

    Will Missy be replacing the Delgado image and Ainley voice? Will Cybermen be demanding an upgrade to include them? Will the Eighth Doctor be looking ” like a great big Ponce” ( (c) Lucie Miller) or in Night of the Doctor garb? Will there be Fez bonuses?

    I can’t wait to find out!

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    We had a series of electrical brownouts last night (probably caused by storm whateverhisnameis) and so I’ve only just managed to watch the episode. If you happened to hear random swear words cursed into the night, possibly curdling milk and disturbing sleeping children then it was probably me. Even if you were in Australia.

    As many know, like @jimthefish I’m pretty resistant to the ‘charms’ of the Time Lords. As such I think this is the second best use of them after Deadly Assassin. It shares some characteristics with that story as well, which is probably why it worked. It focused on the hopelessness and fear of the most powerful race in the Universe. And the corruption of their ruling class.

    I loved the Western vibe of the drylands. The Doctors foot drawn ‘line in the sand’ then becoming a line of guns in the sand as ‘old Gallifrey’, in the form of Rassilon is humiliated. I also liked the riff on ‘the Mountain must come to Mohammed’ as Rassilon is drawn down the path to his own defeat.

    The regeneration of the General was a first. Seriously, in all the Time Lord deaths in the old series we never saw one of them attempt regeneration. And it’s into a black woman, who is relieved her ‘one off’ as a man is over. Take that, conservative fandom. Suck. It. Up.

    Loved the idea of the Matrix Wraiths. I was sure I saw a couple of familiar faces in their ever changing screaming Faces. The Castellan from Five Doctors for one.

    The idea that something deleted can be determined by the holes it leaves behind is a nod to Nightmare in Silver. Neil Gaiman. He really has got a lot of references this series, including meeting an immortal at the end of time (see his Books of Magic). I loved the knocking on that old (squee inducing) TARDIS door referencing Listen. Awesome Pink lived in fear, potentially, of Maisie Williams who wanted someone to talk to.

    Ah, that old TARDIS. With a dodgy chameleon circuit. My headcanon now reads that they stole a museum piece type forty. After countless Adventures with Me she drops it off on Gallifrey, in the past and recommends it to Doctor one. “It’s navigation is knackered, but it’ll give you a lot of fun”. Two careful owners. Stolen as seen. No returns.

    So we leave Gallifrey to stew at the end of time. Good riddance. Someone will bring it back, no doubt.


    I would have preferred the sadder ending

    I think I asked for optimism for Clara, and I think this works. Like the Doctor retreating into his mind palace, she can accomplish so much between her heartbeats,and then face the Raven as you say. Definitely having your cake and eating it. And cake is nice in moderation. 😀

    Definitely agree with @jimthefish about the corrective nature or counterpoint to Donna in this. Yes, 10 gave Donna a life and saved her, but destroyed the person she had become with no choice on her part. This inverted that choice and left Clara to plead the case she would rather die than change. Can the people who regularly call Moffat a misogynist please STFU?


    The answer to who the hybrid is was written all over the series, but articulated by Missy. ” We’re all hybrids, in one way or another”.

    Congratulations to @blenkinsopthebrave for calling my speculation that Missy was involved a load of old tosh. I still think Michelle Gomez would have been a fab guest in the last half of this though.

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    So, here we are. Facing the end episode. Time for one last spin of the roulette table of bonkers speculation?

    Reading people’s theories, I’m inclined to believe that Missy is behind the Raven and Confession Dial scenarios and will make an appearance tonight. I think my reasoning comes down to:


    Missy has the advantage of knowing the Doctor ‘since he was a little girl‘. Hence the construction of the veil as a childhood terror of his.

    The choice of Rigsby could be Me’s watching events, but I can’t help but remember that Missy appeared to be watching the events of Flatline from the Nethersphere. “Clara, My Clara. I have chosen well.” I think Me may genuinely not have known that Clara would make her sacrifice. Missy may have engineered it though, knowing the bond that they shared on that first encounter.


    Missy could touch the Confession Dial and had it for an unspecified time prior to meeting Clara in Magician’s Apprentice. Ample opportunity for tampering. Whether she acted alone or as an agent of the Time Lords or a mixture of the two, she’s in play … they are not.

    She’s the one person who could give Me the rather cynical view of the Doctor we saw in The Woman who lived. The one who told Me he ‘ran away’ and about his marvellous Space/Time ship (Me neatly sidestepped the Doctor asking ‘who told you that’ both times).

    And generally it just makes sense that if Heaven Sent is an attempt at the Matrix episode of Deadly Assassin, and that we’re going to explore Gallifrey, then both of Gallifrey’s most notorious children will be in the mix. Probably with Missy acting as Time Lord agent, but with her own goals in mind. Having the Doctor grief stricken, and with the knowledge of what his other selves endured to get him out of the Dial must leave him in a delicious place for someone who wants to corrupt him.

    Needless to say, I’m really excited for the episode tonight. Will this be that rare beast? A good Gallifrey set tale?

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    I hadn’t seen @django s comment on The Prisoner when I typed this on the G, but just to echo @jimthefish:


    So, @phaseshift was right last week about Gallifrey returning, because what else could have been about to happen? But it isn’t clear whether links between the “Skaro degradations”, the “Could’ve-Been King” and the Knightmare Child were co-incidences, insanely detailed continuity or so many Theories More Bonkers Than What’s Actually Going On.

    Look, with my track record of being a Cassandra, I’m claiming a win and doing a lap of honour at the moment!

    You know, when I was in my teens in the 80s I got to see The Prisoner on C4. I watched the final two episodes with my father, who had watched the first transmission. I thought it was spellbinding TV. Audacious, bizarre and challenging. He hated it on first transmission and repeat and confessed he wanted to kick the TV screen when the final episode was shown. Such is life, and opinion.

    I just want to make the point that on a Saturday night, before the watershed, after a celeb dance show and with a singing competition on the other main channel we’ve been treated with something similarly audacious. A one hander. A 55 minute contemplation on mortality and sacrifice.

    Just incredible. Doctor Who. I want to kiss it to death. Thank you to all involved. I wish more TV could dare to be this different.

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    I’d also suggest The Veil as a death figure. I think at the end of the series we should take time to reflect on the Tarot issue for series 8 and 9 because there are some interesting notions going on here.

    For instance, in series 8 we have the Doctor initially positioning himself as The Magician, before ending the series declaring himself ‘The idiot'(or fool). An inverted journey perhaps?

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    Yeah, Howard Burden was the costume creative from Asylum of the Daleks till Death in Heaven (he did Red Dwarf earlier in his career as well). He says he inherited the blue-red convention from his predecessor, rather than coming up with it but says he enjoyed mashing up styles and influences for the Doctor and Clara during his time with clues for the fashion conscious (Clara dressing anachronistically during season 7, poppy print dresses for Remembrance, etc.)

    A fun guy.

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    so the time lords spend 2 billion years trying to torture information re. the hybrid out of the doctor, he breaks out and apparently confesses almost immediately

    Interesting that. Did he say ‘The hybrid is me’ or ‘The hybrid is Me’ (meaning Ashildr). I still think the hybrid is Clara though, and that is misdirection

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    There is a philosophical debate about teleportation that has been explored in sci-fi for decades from Star Trek onwards. Every time someone undergoes it, the ‘original’ is destroyed and conveyed as digital information to be reconstituted at the destination. The uncertainty over this process led Doctor ‘Bones’ McCoy to distrust teleportation.

    If this is your view, then the Doctor hasn’t been the ‘original’ since 1969 when he first teleported.

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    Bloody hell!

    Now, as high concept Episodes go, the Doctor gets condemned to hell for an eternity and riffs on the torment of Tantalus is pretty strong stuff.

    It was an astonishing piece to watch. Lots of callbacks to the Moff era in general, but an awful lot of that surrealness that stuff like Mind Robber, Deadly Assassin and Kinda could generate. I can’t think of any other show that would contemplate doing something like this. My jaw actually sagged when the meaning of the Skulls became clear.

    And to borrow an idea from Sherlock – the Doctors mind palace is a deathtrap filled fortress. Of course that makes sense.

    I still can’t quite get over that. Oh, and Gallifrey!

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    Just on Sarah Dollard, I thought I’d mention I’ve been watching the Sky comedy ‘You me and the Apocalypse’ and, while it’s not perfect it has raised a few laughs with a very varied cast. I particularly enjoyed Rob Lowe’s turn as a priest. And Pauline Quirke lusting after him. She’s on the writing team and credited with episode 5.

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    Oooh – I’ve never come across that correlation with suits. The only stylistic theory I’ve come across with 10 was that his hair height indicated his mood. Happy? Quifftastic! Sad? Flat and plastered down. 🙂

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    I commend you on the trouser research. It reminds me of @juniperfish and her dedication to bow tie colours. Her theory that they were linked to Time travel (red and blue shift) was actually confirmed by the costume designer after his departure.

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    Just on the Soul question, @juniperfish pointed out in the early days of the site (on the Faces of the Doctor thread) the rise in references to soul under Moffat. It doesn’t particularly concern me because it has been used in the old series and as a concept is mixed up with the animating principle and consciousness, not the particular everlasting soul concept of religion. Take this from The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe:

    Describing trees:
    DOCTOR: They’re pure life force. Souls, if you like.

    And the fate of said trees:
    DOCTOR: The life force of the whole forest has transmuted itself into a sub-etheric waveband of light, which can exist as a
    (He is stopped by a Look.)
    DOCTOR: The souls of the trees are out among the stars, and they’re shining, very happy.

    I think @ichabod asked about the BG years, and The Savages with William Hartnell sees The Doctor’s life force being referred to as soul, and there are a few other instances with Troughton, Pertwee and Baker. Image of the Fendahl is the last that comes to mind. The Fendahl consumes life force. The Doctor agrees with the Witch who helps them that the thing ‘wants her soul’.

    I think the Doctors decision to upload River to CAL was based on responding to his later self’s wishes @juniperfish and given her convoluted story may not be at an end (and her echo came in very useful in Name of the Doctor) the future version may have his own perspective. Even so though, uploading to the Gallifreyan Matrix was the natural end for Time Lords. A good foreshadowing of her nature.

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    I had a feeling you weren’t quite feeling it for this series (or the last with a couple of exceptions). A bit like the way you talk about the Eccleston year? If it’s any consolation, while I appear to be enjoying it more than you, I don’t think Peter Capaldi has topped the peculiar and mad personification of the Eleventh in my eyes.

    The one aspect I think he is extraordinary at is monologues and keeping my attention. This goes back to Into the Dalek and Listen, and have only increased this series. He is really good at that stuff. So I’m particularly interested by the sound of tonight’s episode.

    Right now, I’m not even sure I want to watch next Saturday’s episode. 🙁

    With your acting background I can’t help but think you’ll watch it just to see if they can pull off an entire 50 minutes of Doctor single hander. The nearest they came to that was the Matrix in Deadly Assassin. I’m hooked by the prospect.

    Just on Clara’s fate, I don’t think I agree with the assessment that she couldn’t be the Doctor. She was too good at it in some regards. Reckless it may have been, but the desire to save her ‘companion’ and agree to take the fall echoes Five and Peri, and Ten and Wilf. The Doctor just has that get out of jail free card. Regeneration.

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    I’ll have a pint of Hobgoblin please.

    I don’t know how it is around your place, but the wind is lashing rain against the window and it’s pitch dark here. The perfect night for a creepy episode, so I hope SM has obligingly written one in anticipation. Timey Wimey.

    I should be around a bit more tonight as my internet hasn’t been throttled down, which happened last weekend.

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    Oooh. I’ll nip over in a second and have a look.


    I’m guessing Time Lords. I think a lot of us thought that Ashildr had gained knowledge of the Time Lords from Missy. What if Missy is acting as an agent of the Time Lords?

    Looking at CapDoc in this, I can’t help but remember the furious eyebrows in Day of the Doctor.

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    OK, that was….startling.

    A couple of things occur that I’ll blab on about so the meat of the post doesn’t show up in the activity thread.

    Wasn’t it hilarious that casting had managed to find an Eric Pickles look-a-like to play the ‘Earth normalised’ Sontaran? I laughed.

    I’m guessing most of the usual internet blarney will mention Harry Potter, but there are an awful lot of nods here to Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Gaiman has had an awful lot of references this series.

    I mentioned Janus in connection with Osgood a couple of weeks ago. The keys of Janus would make a great Doctor Who title, but they are an instrument of the Hierophant in Tarot. And the Janus was released by a key.

    OK – Clara and her fate. Emotionally involving and well played by all. Jenna superb. Peter terrifying. Maisie actually looking appalled at the ramifications of her choices.

    Astonishing stuff, but amazing that this was penned by a newcomer to the writing team. This is integral to the arc and feels like the Utopia to Last of the Time Lords in season 3. Hopefully SM will exceed that particular trilogy over the next two parts.

    It does feel like a false ending in a way though. As @bluesqueakpip says “I don’t quite believe it”. The story of Clara leaves questions unanswered. It reminds me of God Complex in Series 6. A false ending for Amy and Rory that in that case that paid off two episodes later (and ultimately 6 beyond that).

    Just glorious stuff though. So much to pick through.

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    It’s as well to remind people on the spoiler front as we approach the end of the series, and I’ll apologise myself for using the title of tonights episode late last night. I’ve given myself a stern talking to.

    I’d had a few beers on my night out. 🙂

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    On the hybrid issue, I’m pretty convinced that the eventual realisation of that Plot is that it is nothing to fear, despite its build up as something terrible. It goes back to my thoughts on what it is to live in a multicultural society and the place we find ourselves currently in.

    This is going to be pretty long as it’s series to date, so apologies in advance.

    We start the series with the Doctor having a party in a fairytale castle with lots of references to Arthur and the Grail. Pure mythology and a story of how Arthur united the tribes of ancient Britons under noble and just laws.

    A myth, and one that has, on occasion, been seized on by the extreme right with their obsessions about racial purity. They are a bit like Davros in that regard. Whose entire shtick is based on Nazi philosophy. As the Doctor says:

    The Doctor: Davros is the Child of War. A war that wouldn’t end. A thousand years of fighting ’till nobody could remember why. So Davros, he created a new kind of warrior. One that wouldn’t bother with that question. A mutant in a tank that would never ever stop. And they never did.
    Clara: The Daleks?
    The Doctor: How scared must you be, to seal every one of your own kind inside a tank

    Last season we considered fear as a superpower, this season the dark paths it can lead you down.

    We know the Arthurian legend to be a myth because that period is documented to the extent we know that the Britons were still divided into Kingdoms when the Vikings rocked up and started looting, pillaging, and more importantly settling in the UK. We have no idea of Ashildr’s route. Did she come with the initial Norse settlers? Or did she come via Normandy with William in 1066. Those Vikings who had settled in France to defend against their own kind? We certainly know she fought in the 100 year war to defend against another incursion.

    Largely, the difference is immaterial these days. After a 1000 years does anyone hold any of these distinctions against people anymore? It’s part of our Great British heritage. We remember them, but the differences don’t matter anymore. We’ve been hybridised as a culture so many times. We have Roman and Norse Gods as days of the week.

    We skip forward again and see the Zygons attempting to assimilate on the world. An analogy for so many groups in the multicultural society we live in. With its conflicts and pressure points. A message of tolerance, but above all, breaking the cycle of violence. To strive in hope until, as Osgood says about her status:

    I’ll answer that question on the day it doesn’t matter anymore.

    Skipping forward centuries we find the underwater base. The references to Star Trek perhaps a direct reference to the aims of that series. Deliberately cast to show that humans had gone past the absurd pressure points of the time it was filmed in. Black and Russian members of the crew. Looking at the makeup of the Drum crew we have an afro caribbean Captain saving his deaf second in command and a British Pakistani character offering love advice to British Indian character. A message of hope, because in the face of love (like Osgood for her dead sister) the differences don’t mean a damn.

    And in this episode, even further into the future, we see a hybrid of the IndianJapan cultures. With a Geordie accent. With a trans actor whose gender shouldn’t really matter. Differences that shouldn’t really matter because surely it is the character’s actions that should define them?

    So given what we’ve seen this series, and that the hybridisation or fusion of cultures and people that have led inexorably towards us, do we really think that the hybrid will be archvillain material? Or will they be someone a bit like us? As Missy (the Master is inherently an evil but largely truthful character) said “We’re all hybrids in one way or another”.

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    @bendubz11 @bluesqueakpip

    Sorry for the delay. I’ve spent the evening being entertained by Ed Byrne in a comedy gig.

    I’ve removed that bit in the post. Now to catch-up on stuff before we Face the Raven!


    Put your back into it son. That’s lousy trolling.

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    Well said. I think Clara and Jenna will always hold a place in our affections because it was Christmas 2012 (and her appearance in The Snowmen) that led to The Doctor Who Forum being formed (you can look at The Snowmen forum and see us staggering, drunkenly, into the light of a new dawn). That’s almost three years of debate and cogitating on Clara and her astonishing relationship with The Doctor.

    Whoever our personal favorite companion may be, Clara and Jenna will always be special here.

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    I think the eye booger monster (thanks @drben) objections passed me by, because once you have got past the Adipose (your fat just walks away!) and the total conversion of bodily material to fat in the shape of small cute alien blobs, you are in a mindspace to accept anything! 🙂

    I do think they missed a trick here though. If it turns out this is truly a stand alone episode for this series, then I think they should have broadcast it on Halloween in the place of the first Zygon two parter. I think promoting it as a quirky take on horror movies (like the Amicus films @whisht and I referenced) would have put people in a better mood for it.

    Just on the Halloween subject alone, you could make a case for this referencing Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. It was the one that John Carpenter, bored of the slasher flick they became, sought out Nigel Kneale of Quatermass fame. He came up with a bizarre anti corporation and TV parable that saw a witch in charge of a toy making conglomerate trying to unleash a spell by technomancy.

    Any kid wearing a mask subjected to one of his adverts would convert to your worst nightmares. As Gatiss is a known fan of Kneale’s works, I can’t help but feel this could have been a minor inspiration.

    Also @whisht, that Sandman animation is still brilliant and disturbing stuff.

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    Many thanks, and hopefully it may. @danmartinuk is very kind to us in that regard and has often referenced us in blog. It continues to be appreciated.

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    I know it’s a bit early to mention Christmas, but I thought I’d highlight something that’s definitely gone on my personal list and it originated from dialogue in a Mark Gatiss episode.

    Remember his Night Terrors, in which the Eleventh Doctor tried to reassure young George?

    When I was your age—about, oo, a thousand years ago—I loved a good bedtime story. The Three Little Sontarans. The Emperor Dalek’s New Clothes. Snow White and Seven Keys to Doomsday, eh? All the classics.

    Well, Penguin are publishing a collection of those ‘Classics’ as Time Lord Fairy Tales, by Justin Richards who knocked out quite a few good books in the Eighth Doctor range. It seems to be getting good reviews with some praise for the sinister edge and giving some of the Tales less than happy endings. Looks lovely as well.

    I genuinely have enjoyed some previous works which have touched on extrapolating the Doctor into old storytelling styles. Things like the Arabian Nights-esque story of how The Doctor trapped Fenric in the flask in the novelization of Curse of Fenric. In a similar style, Paul Magrs novel The Scarlet Empress sees the Eighth Doctor become fascinated by a book called the Aja’ib (wondrous or miraculous one). It leads to some great in jokes as the Doctor recounts the latest exploit he’s read about, declaring it preposterous and not getting it’s about him. It’s actually a great book about the necessity of storytelling in relation to fleeting memory. It also has Iris Wildthyme, which is a bonus. I think storytelling avenues like this are ripe for exploitation by authors who can get the right style.

    Back to fairy tales and just as enticing is the audio book, released next week which features a host of Who actors tackling a story each. I can’t think of anything better than lying in bed on a winter’s night having Dan Starkey narrate The Three Little Sontarans (preferably as Strax), or Tom Baker waxing lyrical. Like a Doctor Who Jackanory (and there lies a big omission – a project like this would have surely benefited from the mighty Bernard Cribbins).

    Here are teasers of the fifteen Tales, and the narrators for the audiobook.

    Little Rose Riding Hood (Rachael Stirling, Ada in Crimson Horror)

    Deep in the woods, Rose is travelling to her grandmother’s cottage. She’s careful to watch out for the Bad Wolf, but what about the strange woodcutter she meets, wearing a black leather jacket? And why does Grandmother suddenly have such sharp teeth?

    The Gingerbread Trap (Samuel Anderson, Danny Pink)

    Lost in a forest, Everlyne and her brother, Malkus, find a house made out of gingerbread and sweets. But the kindly old woman who lives there is not all she first seems – in fact, with her strange metal craft and mysterious barrels of oil, she might not even be human . . .

    The Scruffy Piper (Nicholas Briggs, voice of just about everything)

    Space Station Hamlyn is under siege. Thousands of small metal creatures are flying through space, sent by silver warriors to burrow inside the station. The crew’s only hope is a slightly scruffy-looking stranger, with a recorder and a mysterious blue box . . .

    Helana and the Beast (Pippa Bennett-Warner, Saibra in Time Heist)

    Kept captive in a castle by a terrible beast, Helana befriends the castle’s only other resident – it’s grumpy, grey-haired librarian. Will the Beast and the librarian turn out to be more than meets the eye?

    Andiba and the Four Slitheen (Yasmin Paige, Maria in The Sarah Jane Adventures)

    Out walking in the hills one day, a young woman called Andiba hides when she sees several strange creatures beside an odd metal craft. Can she stop their dastardly plans for the local distillery, before it’s too late?…

    The Grief Collector (Michelle Gomez, Missy!)

    Melina and Varan are childhood sweethearts. Their wedding day should be the happiest of their lives – but when it all begins to go horribly wrong, can they trust a mysterious stranger in a pin-striped suit to set things right?

    The Three Brothers Gruff (Paul McGann, yer actual Eighth Doctor)

    Three brothers are walking home to their village. One brother is very strong, one is very brave, and the third – although weak and small compared to his brothers – is very clever. What will happen when they encounter a short (but fierce) member of a military clone race?

    Sir Gwain and the Green Knight (Andrew Brooke, The Gunslinger, Town Called Mercy)

    The Court of King Halfur is in session, attended by the greatest and bravest knights of the realm, when they have an unexpected visitor. A huge, green warrior clad in reptilian-like armour smashes his way into the chamber – but why does he need their help?

    Garden of Statues (Joanna Page, Elizabeth I)

    Children have always played in the garden of the Big House – though sometimes, the stone statues there seem to move about of their own accord.

    Frozen Beauty (Adjoa Andoh, Martha’s Mum, Francine)

    A spaceship crash-lands on a mysterious planet, the crew frozen in cryogenic suspension, unable to save themselves from the slithering dangers that lurk outside. Can a handsome Space Captain find the sleeping travellers before it’s too late?

    Cinderella and the Magic Box (Ingrid Oliver, Osgood)

    Cinderella has lost all hope of attending the royal ball with her stepmother and sisters, when a strange man in a blue box arrives and begins to grant her every wish. But at the palace, Cinderella soon discovers not all the guests are as noble as they seem . . .

    The Twins in the Wood (Anne Reid, Plasmavore)

    The Emperor of Levithia has been murdered, leaving his two children as heirs to the throne. With treason and traitors around every corner, the children are soon forced to flee into space. What will become of them when they crash-land on a strange planet, full of it’s own surprises?

    The Three Little Sontarans (Dan Starkey, Strax)

    In an epic battle against a lone Rutan, three Sontarans take up very different strategies to defeat their interminable nemesis, once and for all.

    Jak and the Wormhole (Tom Baker, who needs no introduction)

    After burying a strange device on his farm, Jak finds himself whisked away on an incredible adventure. Faced with a mysterious, horned enemy, it’s up to Jak to save the world from total destruction.

    Snow White and the Seven Keys to Doomsday (Sophie Aldred, Ace)

    The planet Winter was once ruled by an evil tyrant who built a Doomsday Machine. When he was defeated, the machine’s seven vital operating keys were hidden across the planet. Now, a villainous queen is plotting to locate the keys, but Snow White is determined to stop her . . .

    All in all, it sounds a treat.

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    I find the easy way to do it is to find the post you want to link to and then click on the number on the top right. This changes the http address in your browser to that of that specific post. Copy that address (ctrl + c) and use the link function in the text box as usual when you format the post, pasting (ctrl + v) when directed to input a web address. It takes you directly to that post.

    Hope that helps.

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    I should have possibly mentioned that I made a rare excursion to the G on Saturday, taking Dan’s “Theories even more insane than what’s actually happening” as an invite to bang the drum, as it were.

    The last time I really had an opportunity to do that was in S7b. While this may bring a few ‘one hit’ moaners who don’t particularly get the site ethos, we’ve also pulled more than a few valuable members along the way. Swings and roundabouts. And hey! I got an excited “OOOOOOOOOH!” From @danmartinuk . I may have titivated his fronds. 🙂 Always a pleasure.

    What’s kind of interesting is that the response BTL on the G for this one reminds me of Rings of Ankhaten which got a bit boisterous with a lot of “worst episode ever” comments. Read about it in retrospect these days and most people seem complimentary. Perhaps the Episodes that are constructed differently do need time to bed in?

    Like “In the forest..” Last year I don’t think this is ever going to appeal to everyone, but I think there should be at least one experimental episode per season. This does have a few cheeky subversions which set it apart.

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