Series 8, Episode 1
In which Steven Moffat very carefully explains to fangirls everywhere that, yes, the Doctor is old now.
We open with a shot of a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex terrorizing downtown Victorian London. Well, not so much terrorizing as… pacing back and forth. Big Ben strikes the hour, and I fully expect the T-Rex to take that irksome clock down in a blaze of fire, before remembering that this is the BBC and not TNT. Meanwhile, a crowd of Londoners has gathered to observe and mutter bemusedly to one another instead of, you know, running for their lives. British people really do know how to repress their emotions.
A veiled woman pushes her way through the crowd like she means Business, and approaches the officer in charge of “controlling” this decidedly unruffled crowd. She lifts her veil to speak to him, revealing a lizard-like face, and eliciting no visible reaction from those around her. Although I suppose if you’re already actively suppressing the urge to flee from a T-Rex, one lizard woman probably isn’t going to rattle you.
Lizzie utters a series of delightful patronizations, such as “Your grasp of biology troubles me,” whilst her companion (apparently a normal human female) scans the dinosaur with some sort of steampunky gauntlet device. Why, out of all the attempts that various people have made to get me to watch this programme, has no one thought to show me an episode featuring these two?
Lizzie surmises that the dinosaur was brought along from its own era when it accidentally swallowed the TARDIS, which it has now vomited up on to the bank of the Thames. She sends a third companion, this one shaped like a giant big toe, to politely inquire whether the Doctor is inside. Peter Capaldi bursts forth, spouting all sorts of nonsense, gesticulating wildly, clearly not quite in his right mind. It is, verily, a grand first entrance.
A disheveled Clara emerges from the TARDIS next, wearing a tiny plaid skirt and a black sweater literally covered in bowties. So it seems like she’s adjusting well to the loss of Matt Smith. Fangirls everywhere begin a frantic scramble to determine whether they can purchase an identical sweater anywhere online, or if not, how they can go about knitting one of their own. (Oh, who am I kidding? We all know these sweaters sold out months ago, the first time the Internet saw a photo of Jenna Coleman wearing one on set.)
The Doctor continues to speak nonsensically, flirting with the dinosaur (who is a Lady, don’t you know?), and having difficulty distinguishing Lizzie from her human companion (“The green one and the not-green one”), himself from Clara (“The not-me one”), and most amusingly, Clara from Big Toe (“Well, you’re very similar heights”). He then collapses in an authentic Victorian swoon. Everyone demands to know where Matt Smith is (including the characters onscreen). Clara woefully informs all present that the feeble old man fainting before them is, in fact, the Doctor. CREDITS.
Back at Lizzie’s house, Clara wants to know how to “fix” the Doctor, asking such insightful questions as “How do we change him back?” and “Why does his face have lines on it? It’s brand new.” Lizzie goes all brusque and demands that her companion, Jenny, fetch her veil. She then sweeps grandly from the room, leaving Clara to have a little heart to heart with Jenny. Jenny exposits that she and Lizzie are lovahs, and Clara very nearly confesses to loving the Doctor. The Matt Smith Doctor, that is. Not this gross wrinkly one.
Jenny leaves and the Doctor begins muttering in his sleep, apparently translating the T-Rex’s growlings.
She feels all alone and the wind is bitey and no one can see her and oh the agony. It’s some bleak stuff, people. (Also it’s pretty clearly a reflection of how the Doctor himself is feeling, and we never do get confirmation that he really is translating. Sorry if I just blew your mind.)
Elsewhere in London, a cyborg with a half-human half-machine face goes shopping for some new eyeballs.
Back at the house, the ladies have a catty little chat about how the Doctor is, alas, old now. Lizzie explains that the Doctor made himself look young before to be accepted by others (Clara, female viewers aged 18-34, whomever), and directly accuses Clara of flirting with him. “You might as well flirt with a mountain range,” she sniffs.
Clara goes all girlishly indignant, junior high style. “Shut up!” “I did not flirt with him.” “Are you judging me?” “How dare you??” (No dear, Moffat is judging us all.) But Clara’s not done. She launches into a diatribe in which she claims to have no interest in “pretty young men” and to have had a pinup poster of Marcus Aurelius in her bedroom as a girl, which manages to make teenage Clara seem conceited, pathetic, and deeply, deeply twisted all at once.
She concludes that if anyone could be capable of flirting with a mountain range, it would be her. So there. Lizzie and Jenny are inexplicably impressed with Clara’s little rant (Jenny, to the point of applause), and poof! Lizzie’s veil magically disappears. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.
Meanwhile, the Doctor has woken up, escaped through the bedroom window in his nightie, and is now off galavanting across the rooftops of London like a deranged chimney sweep. He yells what are meant to be calming platitudes (complete with rudimentary sign language) to the displaced dinosaur, who promptly bursts into flames. Whoops.
Distraught, the Doctor tumbles to the ground by way of a tree, horse-jacks a very confused cabbie, and arrives at the dinosaur bonfire just about the same time as the ladies and Big Toe. They deduce, Sherlock-style, that this is no accident, but in fact a Muuuuurder.
Before they can get any further, the Doctor spots a suspiciously disinterested bystander across the river. It’s the cyborg from before! DUN! Lizzie notes that he seems “remarkably unmoved by the available spectacle.” So, exactly like the rest of these uptight English gentlefolk then? The Doctor swims off across the Thames in pursuit. None of the ladies seems interested in getting her hair (and/or scales) wet, and they head back to the house for the night.
The next morning, we are treated to some wacky hijinks between Clara and Big Toe, who tells her she looks terrible (despite a fancy new dress, and her hair having magically curled itself into an elaborate coif in mere minutes), offers her a bucket of mop water to drink, and proceeds to scan her brain with some sort of device. He claims to see “a lot of muscular young men doing sport” in her subconscious, which would seem to refute her earlier disavowal of interest in pretty young boys.
Elsewhere, the Doctor is busily digging through street garbage, still wearing his now filthy nightie. He encounters a grizzled tramp who appears to have spent the night drinking, which really is the most sensible reaction I’ve seen thus far to the sudden appearance of a combustible dinosaur in downtown London. This fellow, probably used to being the craziest person in this particular alley, becomes increasingly alarmed as the Doctor flaps about exclaiming things like “Why did I choose this face?” and “Oh, I’ve gone Scottish!”
Back at the house, the ladies are putting together a list of recent deaths by spontaneous combustion, when suddenly Clara bursts in with a newspaper containing a Clue! It’s an advertisement that simply says “Impossible Girl: Lunch on the Other Side.” “The game is afoot!” Lizzie declares with perhaps a bit more glee and over-the-top Britishness than is strictly necessary. “We’re going to need more tea.”
They solve the riddle before the aforementioned tea has even been poured, and Clara dashes off to the restaurant listed on the other side. Of the paper. The Doctor arrives shortly thereafter, and they commence bickering like the old married couple they still clearly are. Among other things, Clara is cross because the Doctor pawned Matt Smith’s favorite watch for the tramp’s smelly old coat, which he is now sporting. “If I hadn’t changed my face would you be cross?” he demands. “If I got new hair and it was grey, I would have a problem,” she snots. Oh, these two.
They are so busy airing their grievances that it takes quite awhile for them to realize that: 1) Neither of them actually posted the lunch invitation in the newspaper, and 2) All the other patrons in the restaurant are, in fact, some of the most unconvincing animatronic creatures created since Chuck E Cheese left the business.
These cyborgs surround them, preventing their escape and forcing them back to their booth. Two pairs of metal straps, complete with quaintly period-appropriate hand-shaped clasps, trap them in place, and the entire booth descends into the cyborgs’ lair. Hijinks ensue as they work to maneuver the Doctor’s screwdriver from his pocket to Clara’s hand, and then back into his own lap. (“Oh the symbolism.”)
Freed from the booth, they dash to the next room and discover the half-faced, new-eyed cyborg we met earlier sitting lifelessly in a chair, recharging. “Oh Captain, my Captain!” the Doctor calls to him. I’m pretty sure that’s Lt. Commander Data, buddy. (Specifically Data from the end of First Contact.)
Ye Olde Data suddenly starts to wake up and our heroes try to escape, but Clara isn’t fast enough and a door slams down between them. The Doctor stares at her in horror through the window for about two seconds, refuses to lend her his screwdriver, and then just straight up books it down the hallway without her. Heh.
Clara goes for the old “pretend to be a robot so the robots don’t notice you” trick, but as the Doctor pointed out earlier, this requires her to hold her breath. So, much like the T-Rex from the opening scene, cyborgs can’t see you if you don’t… breathe?
Clara can’t quite make it past all the cyborgs without a breath, and is eventually knocked out and dragged off. While unconscious, she has a random vision of her first day teaching school. (One kid even helpfully shouts “Ha, it’s her first day!”) A wise young pupil then teaches her a valuable lesson about empty threats, which probably won’t be at all relevant to her current situation.
Back in the control room, she firmly refuses to tell Evil Data (so I guess actually Lore?) where the Doctor is, confronting him with a bizarre mixture of bravado and terrified whimpering that completely flummoxes him. He puts away his blowtorch / torture attachment (standard issue for all evil cyborgs), answers her questions regarding his evil plan, and starts going on about the Promised Land. Whoops, looks like he might have ingested a bit of evangelical preacher back there at some point.
Clara doesn’t have time to hear about cyborg eternity, though, because she’s having a Moment. She tells Reverend Lore that if the Doctor is still the Doctor, then he will somehow have her back. She slowly reaches behind her, and after just a beat too long, another hand grabs hers. It’s the Doctor, disguised as a cyborg and wearing a full-coverage skin helmet mask! If those are available, how come their leader doesn’t get one? Also, I swear that the mask looks a little bit like Matt Smith right before Capaldi rips it off, which just seems like a deliciously unnecessary knife to the heart of the poor fangirls.
Also at some point during all this, it comes out that Reverend Lore didn’t set the newspaper trap to lure the Doctor and Clara to the restaurant. Someone else must have! The game is still afoot! First, though, they have cyborgs to defeat. At a signal from Clara (which is “Geronimo!” because of course it is), Lizzie and Jenny drop down from the ceiling like badass Victorian ninja warrior princesses (which, incidentally, should be the title of their spinoff series). Big Toe tumbles after them with decidedly less badassery.
Reverend Lore declares his intention to leave in his escape capsule, still muttering about the Promised Land. The Doctor tells him it will never fly, but he hasn’t factored in the cyborgs’ freaking enormous Skin Balloon. Just go with it. They float off across London, cyborg and Time Lord seated respectably at a restaurant table for two. Just to make chit chat, the Doctor dusts off the old joke about how robots don’t understand contractions (“Droids and apostrophes, I could write a book,”) and then compares his dinner companion to a broom that has had all its parts replaced. Is it still the same broom? “There’s no trace of the original you left!” “You probably can’t even remember where you got that face from!” This echoes something he said earlier to the tramp in the alley, so now we know it’s Not Really About the Cyborg or the Broom Anymore.
Just to drive the point home, the Doctor holds up a silver tray that reflects his own face in one side and the cyborg’s in the other. However instead of bashing the good Reverend over the head with it, he lets it fall to the floor, leaving his interlocutor considerably better off at this point than the viewers.
Down in the basement, Clara, Lizzie, Jenny, and Big Toe continue to fight their increasingly hopeless battle against the cyborg army. After far too long, Clara remembers their opponents’ key weakness and tells everyone to hold their breath. Just as they are all on the verge of collapse (and after one very passionate lesbian lizard mouth-to-mouth breathing session), all the cyborgs suddenly shut down. Their leader is dead, impaled rather dramatically (and not at all symbolically) on the cross of a nearby cathedral. (So this makes him the Borg Queen then?) It is left ambiguous as to whether he fell, jumped, or was pushed.
Back at the house, Clara has once again donned her bowtie mourning sweater. “I don’t think I know who the Doctor is anymore,” she pouts. After a brief pep talk from Lizzie, though, the TARDIS appears in the front yard and Clara dashes off, all smiles. Inside, the Doctor gives a little speech he’s clearly been practicing, ending with “Clara, I’m not your boyfriend.” “I never said you were,” she scoffs in the manner of a teenage girl who clearly thought he was, indeed, her boyfriend.
He asks her to stay, but she just doesn’t think she can make it in the Friendzone. She’s about to walk out on the Doctor forever, when suddenly her phone rings. “Better get that,” he teases, twisting the knife, “it might be your boyfriend.” “Shut up, I don’t have a boyfriend,” she retorts. Well, not anymore anyway.
But wait! The caller turns out to be Doctor Smith himself! Calling from the PAST! He gives Clara yet another pep talk, sprinkled with fun little jabs about Capaldi’s age. “Tell me I didn’t get old! Anything but old!” (Also, don’t be afraid, please help him, do it for me, goodbye forever, blah blah). It’s all very much like that movie where the ghost of Gerard Butler writes letters to his widow to help her move on. (Don’t worry, I didn’t watch it either.)
Except, of course, the Doctor ISN’T DEAD. “I’m not on the phone, I’m right here,” Capaldi pleads. “Please, just see me.” Please, just keep watching the show! I’m a pretty good actor! I have a fancy new coat! Don’t go! Clara has herself a little Beauty and the Beast moment where she looks into Capaldi’s eyes and finally understands that THIS GUY IS THE DOCTOR NOW, AND HE’S THE SAME PERSON AS BEFORE EVEN THOUGH HE LOOKS DIFFERENT, BECAUSE THAT’S THE WAY THE SHOW WORKS, SO SHUT YOUR WHINING FANGIRL MOUTHS, ALL OF YOU!!
Followed by the most awkward hug in the history of hugs. Well done, everyone.
EPILOGUE: The creepiest Mary Poppins the world has ever seen has somehow magically saved Queen Reverend Lore and transported him to a beautiful garden which she tells him is the very Promised Land he has been seeking. She goes on about how the doctor is HER boyfriend (love triangle!), and how she just loves his new accent, and then prances around with her umbrella in the most disturbing way possible.
The poor Reverend is utterly bewildered and gives her a priceless look of, “Dear god woman, you are clearly not right in the head.” I believe we can all agree that when the cyborg who murders people to appropriate their body parts is creeped out, things have truly taken a turn.
by Jesse Ulrich (@rant9space)
Welcome back everyone! I hope you enjoyed our Doctor Who Series 8 crazy theories, and I hope you enjoyed the premiere episode “Deep Breath.” Or if you didn't enjoy it, that's fine, I just question why you are wasting time reading recaps of an episode you hate (Actually I totally get that, forget I said anything, let's be friends!)
Anyhoo, instead of recapping this episode, which I leave in much better hands (Thanks Michelle!) I wanted to examine what makes a good "New" Doctor episode. It seemed strange that in terms of Nu-Who, this is only the 3rd "New" Doctor Story (not counting the pilot, which I don't count because we don't know for sure when the 9th Doctor regenerated.)
Before, we really only had two episodes: “The Christmas Invasion” and the “The 11th Hour.” Both are excellent episodes, yet very different from each other. As a fan of the 10th Doctor, I tend to forgive the “The Christmas Invasion” for all of its flaws, which are many, because David Tennant kills it when he finally wakes up towards the end of the episode.
“The 11th Hour” is more highly rated episode by fandom, and after re-watching it post getting over the loss of the 10th Doctor, it really is a fantastic introduction episode. But two episodes do not a pattern make nor an outline. “The 11th Hour” has the benefit of not having to deal with companion acclimating to the feel and sound of a "New" Doctor, as it introduced a new companion as well. So comparing and contrasting the two episodes other than on quality would not answer our question, what makes a good intro Doctor episode?
From a set of two, we add a third, which now allows us not only to compare and contrast, but to look for overarching themes. So if a perfect "New" Doctor episode existed, what would it include? I ask this question, because between the three we have seen, they all share certain characteristics, themes and motifs. Let's break them down and see how “Deep Breath” compares.
Working out the kinks (with Zaniness):
The Doctor post regeneration is always wonky and discombobulated and that works best when played for comedy. The 10th Doctor was figuring out his personality as he went, the 11th Doctor had issues with his taste buds and body, and the 12th Doctor was having issues with his memory, his balance and his Scottishness.
This is one of the rare times in this 50 year old series, where we the audience know more than the Doctor, not only about himself, but about his current situation. It is not only enjoyable, it makes us feel sympathy for the new Doctor, which, usually, in turn makes it easier for us to want him to succeed.
Doctor Who fans when faced with a new Doctor usually sound like this:“WE DON'T WANT A NEW DOCTOR, WE LOVED THE LAST ONE!”* So having the Doctor be vulnerable, eases us into not only accepting him, but rooting for him. Did “Deep Breath” succeed in this regard? Oh Yes It Did! It takes 16 minutes for Peter Capaldi as the Doctor to convince me, and that was when he wanted to leave the bedroom (which as a room certainly will never make sense) and this happened:
I like my Doctor to be humorous when necessary and severe when it is time to lay down the law and he handled both of these with aplomb.
Trust Issues for the companion and the audience:
This one is tricky. While I am not usually a fan of companions questioning that the “New” Doctor IS the Doctor, if done correctly, it reinforces it for the audience as well.
Take Rose and Clara. Both were present during the regeneration (unlike Amy) both have long and complex relationships to the Doctor pre-regen. Both have to deal with the Doctor having a new face and a new voice (which I feel never gets enough play in these episodes, the voice of someone you care about and trust is very important, imagine your parents or your best friend sounding completely different, it would be weird.)
I have come to appreciate and understand why, from a narrative perspective, as frustrating and repetitive as we the audience might find this trope to be, having the companion feel uncomfortable around the Doctor is a necessity.
It is both clever and incredibly manipulative, follow me as we go inside the Doctor Who writer's room. What happens to the audience after twenty to thirty minutes of the companion questioning if the Doctor really IS the Doctor? We, the audience, are automatically put in a place where we want the companion to trust the Doctor, hence at this point WE trust the Doctor.
The amazing part is, it always works. By the time the 10th Doctor wakes up, gets a little cheeky with everyone and kicks some ass, we are on board. By the time the 11th Doctor puts on his new clothes and not only boots the Atraxi out of orbit, but brings them back for a scolding, we are on board. When the 12th Doctor pours a glass of scotch (I hope it was scotch) for the villain and himself and declares “I'm thinking I am going to have to kill you.” We are on board (it might have happened for you earlier, like the window scene from earlier, I really was on board very quickly). So obviously “Deep Breath” succeeds here.
Emotional Agenda of the Doctor:
The third characteristic of a "New" Doctor episode is that an emotional agenda for that particular Doctor is set in motion.
So how to judge “Deep Breath?” I don't like to judge episodes like this so quickly after they air, but having had the chance to watch this episode 3 times, with someone who knows very little about Doctor Who (Thanks again Michelle!), really encapsulates my feelings toward this episode. It was a great one, not THE GREATEST, but great. It has faults, it has plot holes, but that is not why we all love this show. We love this show because we want to go on wacky adventures with a madman with a box. And this madman, I feel, is about to fuck some things up.
*On a personal note, I had truly come to love Matt Smith as the Doctor and as a person. Watching him in San Diego, interacting with fans, loving being the Doctor and more than happy to be with his fans signing his autograph and taking pictures, I worried about his replacement. It took me all of Series 5 to get over my love for the 10th Doctor, so I figured it would take me a while to acclimate to Peter Calpaldi. But man, was I wrong.
More on the Drink:
I love the mature nature of that drink offer, and for the Doctor finally verbalizing, at least to me, the Doctor's rationale for having to occasionally kill people (whether he did or not we will have to wait to find out.) While we all wish the Doctor could fix every problem without killing, you just can't keep writing those stories,eventually the Doctor has to put a cap in someone's ass. If the Doctor is always able to save the day without killing any of the villains, the stories will get bland real quick.
Something I didn't like. Some of the pacing and editing of the episode seemed off to me. I know that Moffat and others said these new episodes would be a little slower, but you can't jump from slow to crazy and expect the audience to keep up. It took multiple viewings to understand what Vastra and Clara were actually saying when they were yelling at each other.
Important question, who taught the robot waiter to crack jokes? “Yes, we do have a children's menu.” Hilarious.
If you were not a fan of his eyebrows rant, stay away from Tumblr. Probably forever.
by Jesse Ulrich (@rant9space)
The fifth episode of Series 8 is called "Time Heist." Here is a description:
Written by Steve Thompson. Directed by Douglas Mackinnon.
A Doctor Who “heist movie”. The Doctor and Clara come face to face with the mysterious Ms Delphox (Keeley Hawes) when they arrive on a strange and puzzling planet. Delphox is a powerful out-of-this-world character with a dark secret and she happens to run the most secure bank in the universe. Jonathan Bailey plays a cyborg. Features a minotaur-like monster.
Guest starring: Keeley Hawes (Ms Delphox), Jonathan Bailey, Pippa Bennett-Warner.
A Mysterious Ms. Delphox you say?
With a dark secret you say? Interesting. Now, it is completely possible that this woman is not the new Master. So maybe it is this other mysterious woman in a later episode...
the mysterious Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere, who is featured in two parter that ends Series 8 titled Dark Water/Death in Heaven. These episodes are described thusly:
A two-part finale. Features a Cybermen invasion of earth and the return of UNIT, Kate Stewart and Osgood. The Doctor also has to contend with the mysterious Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere.
So, we have two mysterious powerful women characters, with pasts we don't know and who seem very formidable. But, I can hear you know internet, saying that Steven Moffat said he was not bringing the Master back (for one example go here.) But remember children, rule 1: Moffat lies!
So enjoy Tyler, Chris and myself being wrong and enjoy the return of our favorite Time Lord, The Doctor!
DOCTOR WHO IS BACK! REJOICE!
By Christopher Miller (@IRISH_WHISKEY)
To start, I have to confess that I am choosing to going into series 8 relatively blind. Unlike Tyler, I have done only some cursory research into what to expect. Not only have I avoided the leaked scripts, but I haven’t even studied the episode titles and descriptions. The one place I have done a little more research has been a tantalizing new character…
Danny Pink. Is he a lighter-shade-of-red herring sent by the diabolical Steven Moffat to distract us or can he become a true male companion? An equal partner rather than another companion’s plus one. Now don’t get me wrong. I love me some Rory, but he will always be Amy’s Rory. Sure Mickey went from sad comic relief to hero, but he was never the Doctor’s companion. And Captain Jack is no man’s companion…at least not the Doctor’s.
Peter Capaldi is clearly an older, darker Doctor than his two predecessors. By all appearances, he is beyond romantic dalliances with a female companion.
This seems like the perfect situation to introduce a strong male companion. Cue Danny Pink’s entrance music.
Moffat all but confirmed that Danny Pink will be a companion in a statement, ""For the fourth time in Doctor Who history, Coal Hill School is coming to the aid of the TARDIS. In 1963 teachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright accompanied the First Doctor. These days it's the turn of Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald. And very soon now, Sam Anderson as Danny Pink will be entering the world of the Doctor. But how and why? Answers are coming later this year in Peter Capaldi's first series of Doctor Who!"
Ian Chesterton seems like an obvious parallel for Danny. Ian was the fighter for the first Doctor, another older and more serious Doctor. Danny, like Ian, is a teacher at Coal Hill. He also embodies a physicality that is not represented by our new Doctor.
This is not meant to disparage Peter Capaldi. He looks to be much more of a scrapper and, dare I say, more fun than Ian’s Doctor, William Hartnell. And let’s be honest, the fan girls (and some fan boys) need something new to lust after now that Doctors McDreamy and McSteamy are gone. Samuel Anderson could be just the prescription for what ails them.
I could see Danny Pink playing the more traditional hero role as a foil to the new Doctor’s potential anti-hero status. Or maybe he’ll dive all in to the dark side, while Clara tries to play the role of a sexy Jiminy Cricket.
Regardless, a darker Doctor needs a partner to fight alongside rather than a damsel needing to be rescued or an annoying voice of reason reminding him what a good man he is.
This meandering post finally leads to my big prediction…Clara dies at the end of Series 8 and Danny Pink joins the Doctor as his solo companion for Series 9.
Whatever happens I will enjoy the ride, ever hoping for the day when the TARDIS lands at 221B Baker Street for Sherlock vs. Who: Dawn of Nerdgasms.
Jesse Ulrich (@rant9space):
The majority of the Rant9 are big Doctor Who fans, myself included. With the Season premiering this Saturday, it time for us to throw our crazy theories, angry rants, rumors that may or may not be true and questions and thoughts out there into the ether for other Doctor Who fans to either agree with or hate.
Personally, as per usual, as soon as a Doctor leaves, I realize how much I liked him and I don't want him to go, but considering how good the episodes have been lately, I am very interested in seeing an older Doctor. If the rumors are true that this is going to be a darker Doctor, count me in!
First up, TYLER DAWSON (@tylderdawson)!
Doctor Who? A Series 8 Theory
Rejoice fellow Whovians! The long wait is over and we finally get to see Peter Capaldi's Doctor in a few days. I'm as excited as the next guy as this is my first live Doctor transition after just barely missing the Tennant to Smith regeneration by a few months on Netflix. But is it just me or does something seem very different about Series 8? First the promotional materials are very, shall we say, limited which I really don't remember being the case. Of course Moffat always plays his cards close to the vest but they have gone to great lengths in order to keep the audience in the dark as much as possible going in. This leads me to believe that we are in for a truly game changing series of which would make this series be one of the biggest gambles in Who history!
Before we go any further the rest of this post MAY contain spoilers. If you wish to go in 100% blind, you might want to go check out some of our other Doctor Who postings instead. Also worth mentioning: I haven't read or sought out any of the leaked scripts, so it's entirely possible (and likely) that I am wrong. What I have seen, however, are set photos/videos/reports and the episode titles with the descriptions as well as all of the official promotional material. But I'm not claiming to have any inside information, this is just my own fun theory about where they could be going with Series 8.
You've been warned on the 0.01% chance I am right...
Are you still with me? Alrighty, let's dive in headfirst to this insane theory (I'm a madman!): Peter Capaldi is not playing the Doctor, he is going to be the Valeyard. That's right, you heard it here first folks! If you're unfamiliar with the Valeyard he's a character from the classic series who we later find out is actually a future version of the Doctor. The cliff notes version is that the 6th Doctor was on trial by the Valeyard for messing up the space time continuum too much. It is later revealed by the Master that the Valeyard is a representation of the Doctor's darker sides and his “penultimate reincarnation... Somewhere between your twelfth and thirteenth regeneration". As we know from the events of Day of the Doctor and Time of the Doctor, Matt Smith was actually his 12th and final regeneration while Peter Capaldi will be his 13th and start of a new regeneration cycle. What we don't know is how the Timelords granted the new cycle and the particulars of how it works. Now that we have a foundation for the theory, let's dive into the evidence.
First up, the theatrical Series 8 trailer:
First, notice it is darker in tone. We already know from interviews with Moffat, Capaldi, and Jenna that 13 is darker and “less user friendly” than what we are used to. Second, and you will notice this in the other trailers, there are questions of who the Doctor is and if he is a good man. More on this later. The Doctor also mentions correcting some past wrongs. Recall that the Valeyard was involved in putting the Doctor on trial for messing with the timeline too much. If you are paying close attention during the trailer, you can see glimpses of some episodes that look very familiar if you are a classic Who fan, the first being Deep Breath which we know involves a T-Rex running around what looks like Victorian London. This could be either a reference or have a more direct link to a Pertwee episode with a similar premise called Invasion of the Dinosaurs. There are potentially others from the trailer, but that is the most obvious one. The other evidence of revisiting past adventures is set photos of a shrinking TARDIS which may or may not be related some how to an early William Hartnell episode Planet of Giants.
Next we have the BBC Radio trailer:
It sounds like the Doctor is for the first time (that I know of) trying to determine the origin of his new face. Does that strike anyone else as strange? Combine this with the revelation that we know Moffat is addressing Capaldi's past Whoniverse appearances and Russell T. Davies had a plan for if/when they cast Capaldi on how to explain his appearances. They claim that it is a short sweet explanation that is low key, but from that trailer it sounds like more. “I didn't do the frowning. Who frowned me this face?” isn't the typical post regeneration Doctor antics. Combine that with his short regeneration scene at the end of Time of the Doctor where he appears to have no idea what is happening, who Clara is, or how to fly his TARDIS we could have an entirely new identity on our hands. If you recall towards the end of Name of the Doctor, the Great Intelligence also teased that he would be known as the Valeyard at some point before he dies.
Last, but not least, remember those Series 8 episode descriptions toward the top of the posting? I won't go through them one by one but I would like to point out three big hints as to why I think he turns out to be the Valeyard.
So,the Doctor starts out as a darker version of himself who appears to get progressively darker as the series goes on, resulting in him getting disowned by Clara? I suspect this leads to him giving into his dark side, which we already know is The Valeyard. From there, who knows?
One of the reasons I think Doctor Who has become so popular since Matt Smith took over is that, let's be honest, it appealed to the “fan girl” crowd. Not that it's a bad thing, but it was constructed, especially early on, for that demographic. I mean, Series 5 had a fairtale theme. A genius move in hindsight because shortly after that it exploded. Now they have a huge built in audience with an even MORE obsessive fan base that continues to grow so why not reinvent the series once again? So if this theory holds any water, my last point is that anti-heroes are incredible popular right now especially in TV. Look no further than Breaking Bad's Walter White, Dexter, or Moffat's own Sherlock or any number of other shows. Why wouldn't this work for Doctor Who? Keep in mind that they were originally going to offer Capaldi the role after Tennant but Moffat said it wasn't the right time. Now, the television landscape is perfect for this kind of story and people will tune in, both new and old fans.
Well, that's it. That's my grand theory. As I said, I'm probably wrong and I'm OK with that but it would be an interesting plot twist and I don't think anyone would bat an eye with the tonal change in the show. We've only got a few more days of suspense, but in the mean time let's speculate! Do you fellow Whovians think this theory holds any water? Am I nuts? What are your theories?
By Tyler Dawson
Dinosaurs… on a spaceship! There are many great Doctor Who episodes and story arcs but none are as perfect as this series 7 gem. It’s got something for everyone: Action, adventure, romance, sorrow, and darkness. I love everything about this episodes from start to finish. All of the dialog is crisp and intelligent, somehow managing to balance witty humor, darkness, and gut wrenching sadness. Also, dinosaurs! On a motherfucking spaceship! You really can’t go wrong with that, I don’t care what you say.
The premise is simple enough: The Doctor stumbles upon a spaceship hurtling toward Earth sometime in the distant future and of course they are going to blow it up with missiles because humans (those assholes ruin everything right?). So the Doctor recruits Queen Nefertiti of Egypt, some generic, sexist, big game hunter, and of course the Ponds (while unwittingly bringing along Rory’s dad, Brian, for the ride). Hilarity ensues! Because did I mention fucking dinosaurs?
So once he gets his gang together, the Doctor pilots the TARDIS to the spaceship and then BAM! A door slides open and we get our first look at fucking DINOSAURS! The Doctor then says with the delight of a five year old, “dinosaurs… on a spaceship!” Thus the adventure begins. As the Doctor begins to doctor the situation, he inadvertently transports himself, Rory, and Brian to a beach which he quickly surmises is the engine room powered by the waves (it is a prehistoric vessel after all!) then instructs Brian and Rory to dig. Brian obviously has this covered because he is a badass and literally has everything with him at all times including a trowel. But of course Rory doesn't have one which leads to the Doctor proclaiming “I do!” when Rory says he is too old to have a Christmas list. Classic Rory. And then they are chased by a motherfucking pterodactyl, because dinosaurs! Which leads to them being captured by two Marvin-esque robots who are really quite entertaining in a Douglas Adams way (fun fact: He was a writer for Who back in the day). Speaking of fun facts, the gentleman who plays Brian “Pond” also was Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter movies, further intertwining the two franchises (David Tennant as Barty Crouch Jr., anyone?). The robots take them to their leader, but on the way they encounter a motherfucking TRICERATOPS… who loves Brian’s balls. His golf balls, you sick bastards! Because what triceratops wouldn’t like to play a game of fetch with some grass scented golf balls?
Finally, after all of these fantastic scenes the episode gets to the real heavy handed meat and potatoes: We meet Solomon, who is a real piece of shit if I’m being honest. Another fun fact! David Bradley, the actor who portrays Solomon, was also in Harry Potter as Argus Finch. It’s like a Harry Potter reunion in here! Additionally he portrayed William Hartnell in the excellent An Adventure Space and Time, which I highly recommend if you are a REAL Whovian. Anyway, he bullies the Doctor into stitching him up from injuries sustained courtesy of raptors by having the robots shoot Brian. What a dick. Fortunately Rory has a nurse pack and fixes Brian right up in a lovely father-son moment. This of course angers the Doctor, but what pisses him off even more is that Solomon confesses to killing all of the Silurians because they wouldn’t give him the dinosaurs. This is one of the only moments in recent Doctor Who memory that you can literally see the disgust in his eyes (very similar to the scene in Runaway Bride when he is flooding the chamber). It is here where we get a glimpse into who the Doctor REALLY is inside and what he is fighting every day of his life, especially in the Matt Smith era.
After exchanging threats, they are then chased by the two robots and they escape by riding our friend the triceratops before arriving to a control panel. The Doctor seems to be without a plan until Rory suggests to check for defense systems and this happens:
Of course there are no defense systems (it’s a fucking ark!) and Rory is once again left looking stupid. Classic Rory. Suddenly Solomon and the robots teleport in, demanding the Doctor give him Nefertiti as she is more valuable than the dinosaurs. Of course the Doctor refuses and Solomon shoots the triceratops. Several times. And it dies. This fucking guy is literally the worst person in the universe. Pretty sure he is worse than the Daleks or Cybermen. And on top of that he fully intends on leaving everyone else on board the ship to die; remember this missiles? Yeah, they launched and shit is getting real.
Inevitably the Doctor finds a way to save the day but here is the kicker and why this episode is my favorite despite it’s silliness: The Doctor kills Solomon. Not directly, of course, but purposefully. He doesn’t even attempt to save him. He doesn’t even offer to. In fact, he is gleeful about it. In his mind this guy is so irredeemable that he doesn’t even grant him the same courtesy that he would his mortal fucking enemies. He just teleports into his ship and explains that he is going to kill him via redirecting the missiles toward him as he escapes and as Solomon begs for mercy the Doctor, who basically tells him to fuck off and enjoy his bounty with a smile on his face. Not only is it a reminder of why exactly he needs companions, but also a great build up to the end of the Pond era. At the end of the episode, the Doctor invites them to drop the dinosaurs off but Rory and Amy decline. This is the first time we see them start to grow apart. Brian, on the other hand, relishes the opportunity and the Doctor takes him literally everywhere. The old man companions are the best (Wilf!).
In conclusion… dinosaurs! On a spaceship!
By Chris Miller
After the thoroughly detestable slop that is “Fear Her,” I needed to cleanse my mental palate. “A Good Man Goes to War” is an easy choice. It takes a couple of views to catch everything in this almost overstuffed episode (classic Moffat!), but it is well worth it. Rory gets to be a bad ass, we get to meet the Paternoster Gang and we find out who River Song really is. And let’s not forget my new favorite poem:
The episode opens with Amy talking to baby Melody Pond, describing the man that will come to save them. At first, it seems she is describing the Doctor, but really she is referring to Rory the Last Centurion, which leads to maybe my favorite Rory scene of the series:
The Doctor travels the galaxy collecting favors and raising an army, bringing back old favorites and introducing us to new ones. Danny Boy returns from “Victory of the Daleks” to knock out the communications on Demon’s Run and Henry Avery and his son Toby return to take Kovarian’s ship. We meet Commander Strax, seen serving penance as a lowly male nurse (no offense to Rory), and Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint , seen discussing the end of Jack the Ripper as a light snack for a certain Silurian detective. Rory goes to the Stormcage Containment Facility to find River Song, returning from a birthday trip with the Doctor. River cannot come to Demon’s run until the very end, when the Doctor will finally learn how she is. She ominously intones that the Doctor will rise higher than ever before and fall even further. The Doctor rounds out his army with Dorium Maldovar and some Silurian and Judoon forces.
The enemy is numerous, lead by the eye patch woman: Madame Kovarian. Colonel Manton leads an army of clerics with the cooperation of the Headless Monks. They are stationed on Demon’s Run awaiting the inevitable arrival of the Doctor. The Fat One and the Thin One provide a measure of humor and a bit of humanization for the enemy. Cleric Lorna is less an enemy, more a fan of the Doctor. She even provides a crucial plot piece, a prayer leaf with Melody’s name in her native language. Lorna had a brief encounter with the Doctor on her home world.
The Doctor arrives with his band of extraordinary gentlefolk and takes Demon’s Run without a drop of blood spilt (the Doctor rising higher than he ever has before). Eleven forces Manton to tell his troops to “run away.” He wants the universe to know what happens, when you come after his friends. Dorium hacks into Kovarian’s files to determine why they want Melody. Melody has Time Lord DNA (another clue), having been conceived in the TARDIS. It seems that Kovarian wants her as a weapon against the Doctor. It is at this point when the trap closes. The headless monks return, taking out the Silurians and Dorium, whose decapitated body joins the monks in their attack. Kovarian reveals to the Doctor that Melody is a Ganger and he runs off to warn Amy. Rory, Lorna and the Paternoster Gang battle the headless. Though all the monks are killed, Lorna and Strax receive fatal blows. Melody dissolves into flesh at Kovarian’s signal. Strax dies, happy knowing he died in battle. The Doctor goes to Lorna, telling her that he remembers running with her as she dies. At this point, the Doctor has fallen even further than he rose.
River finally appears and Eleven confronts her in anger. She explains that the Doctor has brought this on himself, because his exploits have created a sense of fear in many. The word doctor, meaning healer, comes from him, but its meaning is changing. For Lorna and the people of the Gamma Forests, doctor means mighty warrior. The Doctor demands to know who River is. She directs him to his cot and asks him to read something inside it, revealing who she truly is. He immediately enters the TARDIS and leaves, asking River to get everyone home.
Amy angrily demands to know what River told the Doctor. She hands Amy the prayer leaf and asks her to read it. In the language of the Gamma Forrest, there is no word for Pond, as “the only water in the forest is the river.” The TARDIS translator finally kicks in revealing the words “River” and “Song”.
This episode is full of excitement, twists and big reveals. It sets up the rest of the River arc and ties all through the remaining of the Eleventh’s tenure. We get a last look at old friends and a first look at new ones. And to tie back to the Fear Her post, let’s check our checklist for a bad episode:
1) Annoying kid? No
2) Lame Monster? No
3) Irredeemable cheesy finish? No
4) Written by Mathew Graham? No
Ok, I added that last one. I guess I’m still angry about Fear Her.
By Tyler Dawson
Here’s the thing: I don’t hate any episode of Doctor Who. They are all watchable and entertaining to some degree. It’s not like if one of my least favorite episodes pops up on my Netflix queue I automatically skip it. So when I say Let’s Kill Hitler is my least favorite episode it’s like saying Coors Light is my least favorite beer. I love beer and I will drink Coors Light for $1 beer night during Happy Hour but it’s not my go to beer and you’ll never find it in my refrigerator. Let’s Kill Hitler is the equivalent of being forced to drink Coors Light right after finishing a glass of your favorite expensive beer; you’ll drink it because it’s there and it’s still beer but what you really want is more of your favorite because it’s so damn delicious.
Let’s Kill Hitler was the mid-season premier (thank God they are doing away with that nonsense for Series 8 http://www.doctorwhotv.co.uk/moffat-reaffirms-no-split-for-series-8-56617.htm) after the stellar mid-season finale A Good Man Goes to War. Then after months of anticipation for the follow up, we get the goofy and clumsy Let’s Kill Hitler which feels like everyone trying to get back into the swing of things, more specifically Matt Smith as the Doctor. As Mels is driving her sweet Corvette Stingray through the cornfield, The Doctor, Amy, and Rory are hiding behind a newspaper and let out a collective (and highly unconvincing) “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!” then scatter.
Then we meet Mels. Mels, Mels, Mels. I don’t really even know where to begin with her except… why? Why go that route with her? She’s over the top, obnoxious, and only exists as a River Song plot device. The Doctor even makes light of the fact that no one has ever mentioned her or seen her before now (after uttering the God-awful and uncharacteristic “Doctor very lost” lines… really Moffat? What the Hell?). Mels then proceeds to point a gun at the Doctor, who again makes a goofy uncharacteristic face, as he meekly asks where she wants to go… To Nazi Germany, of course! The titles roll and for some reason we find ourselves watching a series of flashbacks chronicling Mels’ and Amy’s “friendship” since childhood (which again has NEVER been mentioned up until this point)… essentially Mels has always been obsessed with the Doctor and breaking the law, but I’m really not sure why we needed to know that since it was pretty obvious from the get go. But anyway…
So here we are in Nazi Germany and the Tardis crashes into Hitler’s office (thanks to Mels who shot it for some reason because the Doctor lied to her about some technobabble?) and they inadvertently save his life by knocking over the Teselecta. This leads to highlight of the episode: Rory punching Hitler in the face and putting him in the closet.
Before he can do that, however, Hitler fires off some shots and hits Mels, who reveals that she is Melody Pond after the Doctor proposes to her for some reason. She then begins to regenerate and finally shows up in the body of River Song, thus mostly unravelling the mystery of the character set up years ago in Silence in the Library. After bouncing around and “exploring” her new body, she asks about River Song and the Doctor (again, with a goofy face and odd inflection in his voice) replies “spoilers”. Afterwards a battle of wits involving a banana between Melody and the Doctor ensues until finally she kisses him on the lips. It turns out that the kiss somehow administered Time Lord killing poison that only kills the Doctor but not Melody even though she is also kind of a Time Lord but not really. Then she jumps out the window and kills some Nazis (which was admittedly was pretty cool). This is roughly the halfway point of the episode and it picks up from here.
It’s almost as if they wrote and shot the second half, took a few months off, then wrote and shot the first half and edited the two together. But the first half is damn near unwatchable as far as Doctor Who goes and it seems just so out of sync with the rest of the series. I’m not sure what happened but as soon as The Doctor starts dying the episode didn’t miss a beat. The Melody Pond character was still awful until she “transformed” into River, but at least Matt Smith recovered and started playing the Doctor we know and love instead of what seemed like a poorly done fan film that was the first half of the episode. However despite the relevance to series, “Let’s Kill Hitler” still ushered in a mostly mediocre finish to Series 6 and start of Series 7 which is strange because Series 5 and the first half of Series 6 were so strong. That said, “Let’s Kill Hitler” was pivotal in setting up “The Wedding of River Song” and it does pose some interesting questions as to the future of the Doctor which, rumor has it, will be directly answered in “The Time of the Doctor” Christmas special (http://www.doctorwhotv.co.uk/matt-smith-is-final-doctor-56627.htm). For instance, we are to believe that the Doctor can regenerate from absorbing the Time Vortex or a blast from a Dalek laser beam but not a simple poison? Could Moffat have been implying way back in Series 6 that he was out of regenerations? Is that the reason why the Silence is just now trying to kill him? Is that why in each of the 11th Doctors seasons he has gone to great lengths to fake or prevent his death? We will find out soon enough!**
“Let’s Kill Hitler” will always be the episode that, for me, was the biggest let down of the entire NuWho series for its horribly campy, uncharacteristic beginning and its heralding of the Great Moffat Slump. Sure there were a few great episodes after it (my favorite comes in this time period!) but things really didn’t pick up until very close to “The Day of the Doctor”. Hopefully Moffat gets back to his tempered self with Capaldi’s run, but as much as I loved Matt Smith’s Doctor most of the writing toward the end absolutely hamstrung him. It needs to get back to being your favorite beer and not Coors Light.
** Update post Christmas Special! It appears the rumors were correct and Time of the Doctor mostly cleared everything up. I very much enjoyed the special and I am very much looking forward to Capaldi. Hopefully we will have a legit write up of it soon.
by Chris Miller
What makes a Nu-Who episode awful? I don’t have a list, but I’m pretty sure you can just list everything wrong with Fear Her and build a solid list.
1) Annoying kid √
2) Lame monster √
3) Irredeemable cheesy finish √
Fear Hear had all of the above. But the worst offense is that the episode is truly dull, despite the council employee (played valiantly by Abdul Salis) doing his best to inject some much needed humor.
The episode opens on a quiet neighborhood opening day of the 2012 London Olympics, preparing for the Olympic torch to pass by. Some boring stuff happens and then a kid disappears. At this point any possible suspense has been wiped out, as it is all but reveled that Chloe (the neighbor girl that won’t leave her room and loves to draw) is the culprit.
DW10 and Rose show up for the opening ceremonies. They are quickly distracted by several missing kid posters and begin to investigate. DW10 notices that it’s colder than normal, somehow. I’m sure that won’t be important later. The Doctor begins to detect an energy signature with his hands, because apparently he can do that now. Chloe continues to talk in an annoying voice to her drawings. I think maybe she drew a cat, or something. I’m not sure; I think I might have nodded off a little. At some point Chloe starts to draw something and then scribbles it out. This results in the ever so frightening scribble monster that takes a solid fifteen seconds for Doc Ten to deactivate or whatever you do to scribbles that come to life. If another attacks, he can always erase it.
After a strange leap of logic, they figure out that it must have been Chloe. There is a quick tacked on back story, where Chloe’s dad was abusive and died. I suppose this was designed to create sympathy. As with most everything else this episode tried to do, it was an utter failure. She drew her dad on a closet wall for no apparent reason other than some bizarre, nonsensical moment at the end of the episode. Chloe turns out to be possessed by some alien flower thing that got knocked off course by a solar flare. It is explained that these things have a family of millions and create make believe worlds to entertain themselves. I’m not sure why this space flower doesn’t do whatever it normally does to create an alternate reality, instead of relying on a child to draw people. Also, the bizarre whisper talking Chloe does when the space flower is talking made me want Chloe to draw the writer, director and producer of this episode and then throw that drawing into the passing Olympic torch. Chloe draws the Olympic stadium and steals everyone there. The acting of the announcer is beyond atrocious. You would think he was describing someone getting a skinned knee and not tens of thousands of spectators and athletes vanishing in thin air.
Doc and Rose head back to the TARDIS to find the flower pod to send the space flower home. Shockingly (not actually shocking at all), Chloe follows them and then heads back home to draw the TARDIS and Ten. Now Rose has to save the day all alone. She figures out the ship is in a filled in pothole. She digs out the ship, while Chloe is drawing the whole world. (Quick philosophical aside: If Chloe draws the whole world; wouldn’t Chloe and the space flower also disappear into the picture? Is that its end game?)
The ship doesn’t run on heat alone (aha! That’s why it was important for the Doctor to be able to detect that the temperature was slightly below normal), it needs…love? Thankfully the awful announcer mentioned that the torch is a symbol of love so that Rose knew to throw the ship into the torch, because that all makes tons of sense. The drawing of the dead, abusive dad comes to life and the only thing that can stop him is Chloe and her mom singing. Everyone begins to reappear, except for the Doctor...until the torch bearer falls down and DW10 is there to pick it up and carry it to the stadium.
This powers the alien flower’s ship into space and we assume home. It was all truly dreadful. It was boring, poorly written and poorly acted. GFY, Fear Her. And GFY, Rant9* for making me watch this episode again.
* Editor's Note: You are most welcome.
First a note. As someone who constantly enjoys things while also questioning them, my internal monologue is in italics.
This will not and can not be a full review and recap of the episode. It had too many timey-wimey intense and confusing implications of the past and future of the show. What it was, was a fantastic episode of Doctor Who. Now, I am a new fan of Doctor Who, after only being introduced to it about a year ago. I have not seen any of what would be considered “Classic Who.” The oldest thing I have seen was the 1996 Doctor Who movie, which by any definition is a terrible film. But being a nerd like I am, once I became a fan of something, I have to become an obsessed fan of whatever it may be, so, I tried to learn all I could about Classic Who without spending the months it would have taken to watch all of the episodes. So I know enough to pick up, I would say, at least 70% of references to Classical Who, whether it be a scarf or a location or a phrase that an older Doctor would have used, what I miss are mentions from specific episodes, for example all of the UNIT stuff the Doctor did when he was stuck on Earth and working for them.
I should also say that the 10th Doctor, played by David Tennant, is my favorite, probably because he was the one I spent the most time with as I was becoming a fan of the show. But I will admit that I have truly come to love the 11th Doctor, played Matt Smith, but the 10th will always be my favorite, even though some of his episodes are horrendous.
What Matt Smith has been able to show as the Doctor is the amazing ability to both look and act young while at the same time communicate almost non-verbally the fact that he is over 1,000 years old. It was incredible, especially in the episode the Name of The Doctor, where you can physically see all those years and all those adventures and all the lives he has saved and lost, and how they have weighed on him as he stands at his burial site, staring at his own timelines.
So you can tell I love this show. So, what happened in the 50th Anniversary episode?
Well let’s start at the beginning. (Remember when I said you couldn’t recap or review the entire thing that was a lie, rule 1. The Doctor lies)
We get the intro music and images from the first Doctor Who episode, which is makes me feel nostalgic for a time period I didn’t even live in or watched (how did they accomplish that?), it already makes me feel like this episode is going to be a great celebration of the history of this great show. We get a policeman walking by a scrap yard just like in the first episode leading to a school where the first Doctor’s granddaughter went to school, which now Clara is a teacher at. (So she is a teacher now? Ok, also how did she get out the Doctor’s timeline? Obviously we are not going to resolve “The Name of the Doctor” in this episode.)
She gets a message that the Doctor is looking for her and with an address in hand she jumps on her motorcycle to meet him. (You got to love modern CGI that allows Clara to ride her motorcycle right into the Tardis. Also, she can close the doors of the Tardis now? When did that happen?) The Doctor, who is reading a book on quantum mechanics in his ugly glasses that he took from Amy, talks about an adventure they can go in ancient Mesopotamia but at that moment the Tardis is picked up by a helicopter with them in it.
We soon find out it is UNIT who has ordered the Tardis to London and that they are sorry because they assumed the Doctor was not in it. Kate Stewart, daughter of the Brigadier, makes her second appearance in nuWho and explains to the Doctor that there is trouble in the British Museum and she has sealed instructions from Queen Elizabeth the 1st. We are then shown some awesome 3d paintings, the first being a painting of Gallifrey taken from the last day of the Time War. This picture is not only awesome, when seen in 3-d it looks amazing. I am beyond myself that we are going to get to see parts of the Time War, it is called the Time War! How can it not be epic! If you looked up epic in the dictionary it would look something like this...ex. The Time War from Doctor Who.
We zoom in on the painting and are taken inside “Last Day of the Time War” and we see some great action sequences of Daleks beating the living daylights out of the Time Lords. TIME WAR! SQUEE!!!
It looks like the Time Lords were about to lose the Time War, it being the last day and all, which changes the equation we have always been presented with, which I feel is important but I am too excited to concern myself with that at this particular moment.
We see the War Doctor borrow a gun from another Gallifreyan solider and shoot No More into a wall, for some reason, as some Daleks surround some Time Lords and Time Lords in training (what do you call Time Lord children?), but they are saved from the Daleks as they sense the Doctor, and the Doctor knocks out all of the Daleks with his Tardis and of course one Dalek explodes for no reason.
We go to the Gallifrey War Room where they explain that someone has broken into the secret room where they store all their secret weapons. Someone has stolen “The Moment” a weapon so powerful that gained consciousness and could judge you (So it is a Jewish mother? ZING!). They have never used it, but the Doctor is going to try.
The War Doctor is on some far away planet, where is going to set off “The Moment.” He starts tinkering with it and Rose appears, but it is not Rose, it is the machine using her image as the interface to the machine, and not even Rose’s image but Bad Wolf (RTD shoutout!). They have some fun interactions. “Stuck between a girl and a box, the story of your life.” She would know. She wants to show him what his future looks like, and she opens a portal to the future, and a fez falls out (which surprises them but not the audience) and we are back to the National Museum.
We get to hear what is in the letter, where Queen Elizabeth the 1st tells her husband, that’s right husband, that he is now curator of the under-gallery, where they hold all the weird stuff, and we get to see a painting of Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the 10th Doctor! BOOM! Mic Drop for the David Tennant!
We go back to England in 1562 as DT and the Queen ride out of the Tardis on a horse and have a picnic. All of sudden the 10th Doctor proposes to the Queen to test her because he is hunting Zygons. He has a machine that goes ding. The problem is that he is wrong, it is his horse that is the Zygon, and he realizes that he will now be King of England. They go running off in different directions, and we get the 10th Doctor giving his epic speech to a bunny that at first he thinks is a Zygon. “I’m the Doctor, I’m a Timelord, I’m from the planet Gallifrey, in the constellation Kasterborous…” I have to pause here, because they are certainly using the 10th Doctor as comedic relief, and I must say, I am on board with it. When DT was funny, he was fantastic. He really had the most comedic situations of any of the nuWho Doctors and I love him for it.
He finds two Queen Elizabeth, when the portal from the past appears and a fez comes out.
Back to the under-gallery, where all the public art too dangerous for public consumption is held. “Are you Sciency?” The Doctor, the 11th, gives a great speech to the science girl about making her study the stone dust on the floor and to give him a report in the morning on his desk, problem is he has no desk. We get to a room of those 3d paintings that have broken glass, but it has been broken from the inside as if something has gotten out. Then the portal to the past shows up, and after complaining about it, he vaguely remembers what it means and he he throws the fez and himself in it and he is back in England with the other Doctor. Both Doctors together! Hooray! Time for a GIF PARTY!
I imagine this is what the perfect drug would feel like. Just stare at Carlton dancing for awhile….
The first few minutes are brilliant. They stare at each other, they compare peni…sonic screwdrivers, and then they try to figure out what the portal is for and what it does. I love the fact that when DT tells MS that one of the Queens is a Zygon, he looks disgusted and then tells DT, “I’m not judging.” So great.
DT orders that both Queens run off in opposite directions and they start communicating with present day England and the fez gets thrown back in and lands in the past with the War Doctor. Returning to the B-Plot, the Zygons are now copying UNIT members. Back in merry Old England the War Doctor appears with the other two Doctors. He confuses them for Companions. He is aghast at their young age. One has to love the meta-commentary happening right now, it both tickles new fans and gives something to the fans of the Classical Series as well, well done everyone.
After being surrounded by old timey British soldiers, one of the Queens reappears and has them all arrested and taken to the Tower of London, which in modern times is the headquarters to UNIT.
In prison they finally talk about what they are all doing here, because 10 and 11 were surprised to see eacher but the War Doctor was looking for them, and they want to know why.
Back in present times we get a visit to the Black Archives, where apparently people get their memory wiped everyday. The Black Archives is Tardis proofed, for reasons.... Here Clara is shown a Vortex Manipulator by Captain Jack. WOOT! CAPTAIN JACK SHOUTOUT! The painting of Gallifrey is now in the Black Archives (how did it get there?), Stewart gets a call that they have found the code the Doctor left all those years ago, when Clara realizes everyone is a Zygon. Whatever is she going to do? Clara steals the vortex manipulator and uses the code to go back in time to England. We all saw that coming didn't’ we?
Back in Prison...The War Doctor wonders why they talk like children, and they look at him with so much hatred and dread. He has not done it (it being murdering billions of Daleks and Time Lords) yet so he does not realize how much they hate themselves/him. Bad Wolf/Rose/UI System asks him to ask them what he really wants to know. He asks if they every counted how many children were on Gallifrey. The 11th doesn’t remember, the 10th remembers and is angry that the 11th has forgotten. 2.47 Billion he says. The man who regrets and the man who forgets Rose/Bad Wolf/Machine says (She is quite the witty conscious isn’t she?). She also tells him it is same screwdriver, so the calculations to get past the door, because the sonic can’t unlock wood doors but it could disengrate the entire door but it will take awhile (This might be important later) so they start scanning the door and, because of time rules or something, so the 11th Doctor’s screw driver should have it ready. They are incredibly clever they say, as Clara opens the door because it was not locked, hehe. This is a fantastic bit of Doctor Who humor and it is funny every time I have seen, which is now 5 times.
The Queen left it opened because she wanted them to find out what the Zygons were up to. The Zygons, apparently had their planet destroyed in the first days of the Time War. The Zygons are putting themselves into paintings because Earth is still too primitive for them at the moment.
Another funny 10th Doctor moment, when he verbal accosts the Queen, because why would she tell him their plan, she must be a terrible villain or…. She is real, she killed the other Zygon in the forest, and their arrogance, being men, they didn’t even question that she was not one of them. She still forces the Doctor to marry her. Great joke about the amount of kissing in his future when the War Doctor and 11 see the Queen kiss 10 to which 11 replies that it does start to happen. They all get into the Tardis. The Tardis starts to glitz because they are 3 of them in there, finally landing on the 11th doctor’s desktop. The Doctors love of the different Tardis configurations is so lovely and wonderful and makes me smile while I watch it. It is very hard to describe all these scenes, because they are truly fantastic and full of inside jokes, and I know that they are not coming out in the review, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry)
We have a standoff in the Black Archives between UNIT and the Zygons, where UNIT has threatened to blow up half of London to stop the Zygons from getting the stuff in the vault, it is really just a excuse to get the Doctors to talk about decisions that you can’t take back. They can’t land because of the Tardis proofing of the Black Vault, so they put themselves into the Gallifrey Falls painting and call UNIT dude from the beginning and have him move into the Black Archives (Ohhh, that explains that). Where they kick some Dalek ass and walk into the Black Vault like pimps. Seriously, this part is amazing, with the Doctor’s theme getting louder and louder…ahhh GIF TIME!
The War Doctor sees the two other Doctors coming up with this great idea and realizes that he does not turn out so bad, so he has decided to end it, to kill everyone. He has seen all he needed to see, the Bad Wolf/Machine takes him back the planet where it all started, and he gets his big red button. He stands over the button, “Great men are foraged in Fire, it is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.” I now officially love the War Doctor, John Hurt delivers this line so well, it reminds me why I love the character of the Doctor. As he is about to push it, Rose reminds him that the Tardis noise brings hope, even to him, as the other two Tardises (Tardii for Michelle) shows up with the 10th and 11th Doctors. Getting a bit weepy here.
They have decided that he should not do this alone, they now realize that he was right, and they no longer believe they need to forget him, they should not forget him. The War Doctor wants them to go back and make their lives worthwhile. There is something in my eye is all But they are convinced that he is more The Doctor than they could ever be, because he had an impossible situation where there was no way to be the Doctor. But Clara does not want them to do it, she always knew that the Doctor did this horrible act, but she never imagined her Doctor doing it. It is a fantastic moment of why the Doctor needs a companion, to remind him of his, I wish I could come up with a better word, humanity. The machine, teaming up with Clara, shows them all the people on Gallifrey who they are about to kill. There is nothing they can do they believe, it has to been done, it has already been done. But Clara believes there is always another way, she has to remind him/them of who they are, especially the 11th, that they are the Doctor.
At this it appears on Gallifrey like the battle has ended, and Clara asks them why they took the name Doctor and what was the pledge they made when they took that name, “to never be cruel or cowardly,” says the 10th, “never give up, never surrender, I mean give in” says the War Doctor.
They realize that they can change their own history and that they could do something far more risky. I am loving not only this plan but their excitement in coming up with it. The 11th closes the machine, and as they all become excited as the plan sortof comes to them right down the line. The Daleks are surrounding Gallifrey, but what if they froze Gallifrey, then the Daleks would all murder themselves, killed by their own weapons. They send a message to the War Room, all 3 of them, and explain their terrible plan to the War Room, explaining what they are going to do. They are going to freeze Gallifrey in a single moment in time, in a parallel pocket universe, but the War Room says the calculations would take forever to calculate, “They would,” says the 11th Doctor, “But I started a long time ago.” as all the versions of the Doctor appear, all 12 of them, all 13! CALPALDI!
The Daleks increase their firepower, as all the Doctors swoop in their different, but the same, TARDIS, they say their catch phrases as things explode!
They are back in the museum staring at the painting of Gallifrey, discussing the fact that they might never know if they succeeded in saving Gallifrey, but the War Doctor at least feels like they did the right thing, as he figures it is his time to go, at this there is some hand waving to explain why no one will remember this, but the War Doctor is happy to be the Doctor again as he gets in his Tardis and begins to regenerate as we get a digital version of Christoper Eccelston’s eyes. I was hoping for a quick cameo, but oh well.
The 10th doctor knowing he wont remember any of this, he asks the 11th where they are going since he won’t remember, and the 11th tells him about Trenzelore and how that is where they are going, at this the 10th says goodbye, and he says that he doesn’t want to go, apparently they realize how silly that saying was from DT’s last episode. When I saw this in the theater there was a loud ahhhh from all the ladies in the house.
The 11th wants a few minutes alone with the painting, Clara says an old man, the curator wanted to see him, the 11th sits and says he would love to be the curator of the museum, he could retire and be the “Great Curator” as the curator appears and it is Tom Baker! He tells him that the painting doesn’t have two titles but one, Gallifrey Falls No More, what does that mean he wonders, as the 11th Doctor realizes that not only did their plan work, but he should go looking for Gallifrey. As we move into the TARDIS and the espiode is going to end, we hear the 11th say that Clara often asks him if he dreams, and he says that he does, that everyone dreams, and he dreams about where he is going, as we see him exit the TARDIS and stand with all the other Doctors as their stare up at Gallifrey, as the music comes to a crecendo and the episode ends. I imagine Stephen Moffet dropping a mic somewhere.
Maybe it is was all the buildup, maybe it was all the anticipation, but this episode was incredible. It is serious, it is funny, it celebrates where the show has been and sets a coarse for where it is going. Are there plot holes? Yes. Do all of time travel aspects and their implications work? No. But I am a Star Trek nerd, and if that has taught me anything, it is sometimes you just need to enjoy the story. I will save my nitpicks for another time. Excuse me while I call every one of my fellow Doctor Who fans to squee about this episode and Doctor Who in general. Allons-y!