William Shaw on Doctor Who, his new book about The Rings of Akhaten, and more (Part One)

will shaw doctor who rings akhaten black archive 42 neil cross farren blackburn chris chibnall jenna coleman leaf matt smith

I think The Rings of Akhaten is one of the boldest, most ambitious, and most radical episodes in all of Doctor Who. It’s a heartfelt story, lushly realised and beautifully performed. It’s a vital early step in the journey of Clara Oswald, the best companion (and arguably the best Doctor) the show has ever had. It’s an early commentary on the show’s fiftieth anniversary. And, as I talk about in the book, it’s a fascinating engagement with contemporary politics. I basically think it’s a critique of New Atheism (cf Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc) and its relationship to Doctor Who, but in doing that it necessarily touches on the legacy of colonialism, and Clara and Merry’s relationship in the story is an interesting way into some topics from feminist theory. Like Clara’s leaf, it looks simple, but it contains multitudes.

I spoke to William Shaw about his new book, the latest in the Black Archive series by Obverse Books, and the definitive account of The Rings of Akhaten. It’s a stellar book, full of all sorts of interesting things about New Atheism, feminism, orientalism, and Doctor Who – and Will had even more interesting things to say about them in the first instalment of our two part interview. So many interesting things! It’s a marvel he’s not run out yet.

Check back in a few days for Part Two, which covers Will’s thoughts on classic Doctor Who, ideas of faith in the Chibnall era, and how Neil Cross compares to Chibnall as a writing. (I told you – no end to the number of interesting things Will has to say about Doctor Who and associated.)

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Interviews Index

In appreciation of Clara Oswald

doctor who face the raven review clara oswald jenna coleman death raven tattoo sarah dollard justin molotnikov steven moffat clara who

So, the time has come for Jenna Coleman to move on from Doctor Who, after nearly three years, and two quasi-exits already. She’s been a fantastic companion, and frankly, an even better actress. So, then, in recognition of her departure, I’ve collated everything I’ve ever said about her acting over the course of the past few years, to form something of a tribute to this wonderful actress.

(This post was, in fact, originally going to be posted after Face the Raven, but then Clara’s eventual departure was a little more complicated than initially anticipated, and so I decided to retrofit the post for today – it’s Moffat Appreciation Week, and today is dedicated to Clara. So, yeah, this seemed like a nice idea. No idea if this post is actually applicable though, mind you.)

Series 7

doctor who clara oswin oswald jenna coleman asylum of the daleks matt smith steven moffat eleventh doctor

Now, there isn’t a huge amount here in terms of the series 7 episodes, because that series predates my blog, if I recall correctly. I did review the episodes on my personal facebook, though, which was a real hit amongst my friends; I can’t quite find them to quote them, so in this instance, you get a trip down memory lane.

When Jenna Coleman first appeared as Oswin in Asylum of the Daleks, I don’t think anyone was expecting it – it has to go down as Steven Moffat’s greatest twist ever, actually, because he pulled it off so well. Certainly, it was more effective than the John Hurt reveal the next year, given how well hidden it had been; I mean, when I first saw it, it was such a “what?” moment, really. Spent the first five minutes after the opening titles wondering if it was just someone who looked kinda like the new companion who wasn’t due to start for another few months… and by the time the credits rolled, it was a whole new source of confusion.

The Snowmen

I haven’t spoken much about Clara, mostly because I want to see where the story goes with her before talking about this too much, but I will say that Jenna-Louise Coleman might well be the best companion actress since 2005.

Admittedly, even for all my insistence that Clara (or Oswin, as we knew her then) could be the best companion of the new series, I wasn’t entirely enamoured by how the character was utilised throughout her introductory run. Willing though I am to acknowledge that the Impossible Girl arc was very clever, it’s one of those things I respect more than I actually enjoyed.

(At the time of series 7b, I thought that perhaps another interesting way to present the arc would have had Clara keep her memories at the end of Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, and know about her echoes for the rest of the season. Maybe The Crimson Horror could have been adjusted somewhat – the reason the Doctor and Clara went to the Victorian era was to investigate the other Clara echo, and so on and so forth. Obviously, however, that was not to be.)

The Day of the Doctor

The same goes for Jenna Coleman, who does a great job as the Doctor’s best friend, and later conscience.

But, to be honest, what we’ve got since Day of the Doctor has been rather excellent, so… I’m willing to call Clara the best companion once more.

Series 8

doctor who clara oswald jenna coleman doctor clara who sonic screwdriver flatline jamie mathieson douglas mackinnon steven moffat peter capaldi twelfth doctor

Deep Breath

I’ve already said how I enjoyed her scene with the Doctor in the restaurant, but I think if I had to choose her best moment of the episode, it was where she was talking to the robot. Clara really held her own there; it was a well written scene, with some pretty good acting to hold it up.

By the start of the 2014 season, Clara began to evolve differently; it was something of a soft reboot for the character, if you like – free from the intrigue and the mystery of the Impossible Girl arc, we were able to see certain of Clara’s characteristics in much sharper focus. While a lot of the basis of the “bossy control freak” had been laid over the course of series 7b, it was series 8 that really emphasised and developed this theme.

Into the Dalek

The writing is really concentrating on her now; it’s focusing on character traits she already had, but changing the way they look at them, and making them more central to her. She feels a lot more distinctive now, and it’s really encouraging. Seeing her hold her own with the Doctor, and making him re-evaluate his decisions and what he knows in a way that’s unique to her as a character? That’s brilliant.

Mummy on the Orient Express

It was another brilliant showcase for Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi. They’re so amazing together, it’s really compelling to watch, especially in episodes as well written as this. My favourite moments for the pair, actually, were the quietly awkward little exchanges towards the beginning; they’d both be trying to be nice, but then one of them would say something, and the facades would drop, and the sadness would be obvious. Moments like that were really touching, actually.

One of the reasons why I think Clara can be considered to be one of the best characters of the revived show is because of the development we see her undertake; across the three-ish seasons that she was the companion, we saw her evolve in a variety of different ways. Two of the key episodes for Clara’s arc were Kill the Moon and Mummy on the Orient Express – the possibility of her leaving the TARDIS made for some great drama, and was a really important part of the character’s development.

Dark Water

Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman were fantastic throughout; the confrontation scene between them, as I’ve already mentioned, was just electric. The Doctor, taking control, intimidating Clara and trying to talk her down. Clara, not listening, not moving, not losing any ground. One of the best scenes of the series, frankly, because of just how brilliant these two are. Please, please, let them both be around for series 9!

Death in Heaven

Same goes of course for Jenna Coleman. And in this case I’d also say Samuel Anderson. The scenes they had together were… they weren’t poignant, that’s not quite the right way to describe it, because that implies a level of serenity I think. Their scenes were a bit distressing sometimes. In a good way, I mean; they were all very emotional moments, and certainly quite impactful ones.

It’s also hard to talk about Clara without at least some reference to Danny Pink, though; the tragic love story that defined much of the eighth series. Danny was another great character, and when juxtaposed with the Doctor, provided an important foil for Clara. It was the relationship between the pair of them that provided the impetus for a lot of Clara’s development across this series, and I’m very glad we got to see Samuel Anderson’s performance as Danny Pink.

Last Christmas

I really liked the moment with old Clara, towards the end, where the Doctor helps her to pull the Christmas cracker. The parallels there with old Matt Smith in The Time of the Doctor from last year were, I think, rather perfect. Very poignant.

Series 9

doctor who clara oswald jenna coleman restaurant diner waitress tardis hell bent bisexual flag lighting rachel talalay peter capaldi steven moffat

The Magician’s Apprentice

It carries forth throughout, really – both Jenna Coleman and Michelle Gomez are excellent in this episode, and it’s brilliant to see the pair of them together, with Missy essentially in the role of the Doctor.

Of course, with the beginning of series 9, we established a new status quo for Clara once more – here, Doctor Who shrugs off the Coal Hill School setting it had worked so hard to establish last year. In part, it’s an entirely sensible creative decision, linked to the need to continually provide something new each year – but more than that, the departure from Coal Hill is emblematic of the changes in Clara’s own life.

Where adventuring had previously been her hobby, there’s now been a shift; for Clara, her life with the Doctor, from this moment on, took centre stage.

Before the Flood

Clara also had some interesting stuff to do this week; Jenna Coleman is a brilliant actress, and I am again inclined to suggest that Clara might be the best companion of the new series. Ordering the Doctor to “die with whoever comes next” was a really well done scene, and everyone involved deserves plaudits for that.

The Girl Who Died

Jenna Coleman finally got something substantial to do this week, which was nice. You could really see Clara’s development into a quasi-Doctor figure (was it just me, or was Jenna Coleman imitating Matt Smith’s body language during her confrontation with Odin?) and Jenna Coleman did a great job of portraying that. Very strong episode for Clara, there, both in terms of the writing and Jenna Coleman’s acting. Which is nice!

The Zygon Invasion

Jenna Coleman gave a brilliant performance, as ever, portraying Clara just ever so slightly off, in a way that doesn’t feel quite right but wouldn’t necessarily raise suspicion on its own…

Admittedly, in some regards, I felt as though Clara was underutilised once more at times throughout series 9; The Zygon Invasion and its similarly named counterpart could be considered a key example of this. Whilst providing an excellent role for Jenna Coleman as an actress, the two episodes didn’t have the most significant part for Clara to play. True, there was certainly much to see with thematic relevance, but I would still maintain that the lack of a prominent role for Clara across this two-parter is the only flaw in one of the strongest stories of the series.

The Zygon Inversion

Speaking of Jenna Coleman’s acting, she did a really fantastic job of playing Bonnie. I think it’s the mark of a great actor when they can play a dual role within a single story  and still make them feel meaningfully distinct – it was very easy to forget that Jenna Coleman was playing Bonnie here, as opposed to another actress entirely (albeit admittedly a similar looking one). She did an excellent job of completely altering all her mannerisms, even her voice and elocution, to create an entirely new character.

Face the Raven

It’s worth singling out Jenna Coleman though, particularly, given that this may well be one of the last times we ever see her as Clara. Her performance was fantastic; genuinely compelling, and it gave life to some absolutely fantastic scenes. Which is what we’ve become accustomed to from Jenna Coleman, really; I am pretty firm in my belief that she is the best companion we’ve had over the past ten years.

Face the Raven was, I think, a particularly strong episode by Sarah Dollard – it was the best was in which to frame a potential death for Clara, deftly avoiding any danger of a fridging, and ensuring that any tragedy that took place was very much a personal, character-driven and empowering one.

Hell Bent

Jenna Coleman is just as skilled, and gives just as compelling a performance. Once again, there’s a danger that I’d be reduced to simply listing scenes – “Don’t you trust me?” “Not when you’re shouting, no.” – so I want to highlight, once again, the final goodbye between the Doctor and Clara in the diner. Where the Doctor doesn’t even realise he’s saying goodbye, not to her. Jenna Coleman gives a great performance; she does a wonderful job of showing the audience Clara’s reluctance to let the Doctor go, and appearing to still want to tell him the truth. It’s very well done.

But then, in the end, it’s not a tragic ending. It’s the most ultimately triumphant ending a companion has ever received, and perhaps the most fitting of them all for Clara Oswald, the Impossible Girl. It’s a brilliant final twist; throughout the whole of this season, we’d been lead to believe that Clara becoming more and more like the Doctor would lead to her downfall. In the end, though, it lead to her becoming a Doctor in her own right, travelling the universe in a rackety old TARDIS, with a companion right by her side.

It’s beautiful in terms of what it implies, and allows, for Clara Oswald – just like in her first trip in the TARDIS, way back in The Rings of Akhaten, Clara ends will thousands of different possibilities ahead of her.

Related:

Doctor Who Series 8 Overview

Doctor Who Series 9 Episode Reviews

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Doctor Who Index

Doctor Who: Was there ever an ‘original’ Clara?

doctor who clara oswald impossible girl jenna coleman jigsaw name of the doctor mystery enigma steven moffat doctor who series 7

So, here’s a thought…

Was there ever an ‘original’ Clara?

The understanding we have now is that Clara was born, grew up, traveled with the Doctor, then created all her echoes in The Name of the Doctor.

What if that original Clara was also created through that action?

I mean, I don’t entirely understand exactly how she echoed throughout history. As far as I remember, there was a shot of a Victorian woman and a baby in the episode… so presumably that means Clara is born to lots of different people, rather than appearing as a 23-year-old woman. (Which is what happened with Scaroth, I think?)

Anyway, what if ‘our’ Clara was also born in this way? If she’s a self-creating paradox person? That’d be… interesting. Although there’s perhaps some narrative problems created.

(And, given that we had a presumably Time Lord Clara, does that mean we can have Claras of other races? Slitheen Clara? And is she always the same? Is there a Clarence Oswald out there? How do the different experiences shape the different echoes? Is one Clara less valid than another, if there was an original Clara? If the echoes are still out there, could we meet one in a future episode? How would Clara Prime deal with meeting an echo? How would the Doctor deal with meeting an echo after Clara Prime has left him?)

I… really rather love the idea of Clara splintering, now that I think about it. There’s a hell of a lot to it, isn’t there?

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Doctor Who Index

Doctor Who Review: The Time of the Doctor

doctor who the time of the doctor review eleventh doctor matt smith clara oswald jenna coleman steven moffat silence daleks cybermen handles poster

And now it’s time for one last bow, like all your other selves. Eleven’s hour is over now, the clock is striking Twelve’s.

This is it now, isn’t it? Matt Smith no more, it’s the time of the Twelfth Doctor. It seems oddly surreal – Matt Smith has been the face of the Doctor for the best part of four years now. He took the show to new heights, new levels, new countries – it was his Doctor, after all, that opened up the show to America.

So, yeah, it’s rather odd to think of him as gone now. To think that, from now on, there won’t be any more Matt Smith stories. No more bow ties. No more fezzes. None of that.

Still, at least The Time of the Doctor was a fitting send off, right?

Right…?

The episode starts out pretty much pitch perfect – the scenes in the Dalek and Cyber spaceships were very fun, very Doctor Who. They also set up the premise for the episode as well, and I think it was a pretty good one too – there’s a message, and everyone is here to look at it. It’s an interesting hook, although maybe too reminiscent of The Pandorica Opens.

Clara’s family were nice, I suppose, but generally relatively superfluous. They didn’t exactly add much, nor develop Clara’s character or personality to huge degrees. In fact, they really seemed to be there just for the nudity jokes – which were, to be honest, puerile at best.

Anyways, after we’ve picked up Clara and got to the planet (which isn’t Gallifrey, it’s not orange!) the plot starts to pick up. It’s nice to see the crack in time back, and the explanation for it was, I think, really very good – Gallifrey is trying to make it’s way back through. That’s a great, non-linear explanation. (I do wonder if that had been the idea from the start, or if it was just added in for this episode. I hope it was the original idea)

It’s around there, though, that the episode sort of starts to falter. The idea of the Doctor giving up his life to guard the people of Trenzalore is a fantastic one – it’s an entirely different sacrifice to the type we’re used to, yet still a very Doctor-y one. Perhaps that’s even a more difficult one for the Doctor – he’s not used to sitting still.

However, the idea wasn’t really explored as best as it could have been I felt. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, obviously; just that it could have been… better. It should have mirrored, say, the Star Trek: Voyager episode Blink of an Eye or the Big Finish story Rise and Fall (I’ve linked to Big Finish’s SoundCloud, you can download the story for free. It’s very good)

If we’d seen the culture develop alongside the Doctor, everything would have hit home a little bit more – maybe all their buildings are blue, maybe the all wear bow ties. If they’d progressed just a little bit past the Victorian style lives they had, maybe it’d have worked a little bit better…

But anyways, the Doctor, protecting the people of Trenzalore. It might have been nice if we’d seen a little bit more of it – show, don’t tell, after all – but it didn’t impact on things too much. What we got was nice, after all.

The only other gripe I had was the Daleks – I think the episode might have worked better without them, and with the Kovarian chapter taking their place. It would have rounded things off a little better, and kept the episode more… I want to say discrete, but that’s not quite the word I mean. Hm.

(Also was Tasha Lem meant to be River Song? A lot of it felt as though she’d been written as River Song, but then had to be changed because… Alex Kingston wasn’t available or something?)

So, yes, that’s all the story and script stuff out of the way. Generally very good, but could have been better. I think that’s probably the best way to sum that up.

The acting, was, of course, exemplary. Especially from Matt Smith. Obviously, it would be. As it should be, in Eleven’s final hour.

I often struggle with what to say about Matt Smith and his acting, because… well, to say Matt Smith gave a great performance is like saying water is wet. Or the sky is blue. Just… so ridiculously completely obviously true it’s not exactly worth mentioning really.

Finally, then, the regeneration. The end, yes, but the moment had been prepared for. We were ready, more or less.

Matt Smith’s final lines were nice, very much so. Poignant really. The hallucination of Amy was a nice touch, and a nice callback to the Fifth Doctor’s regeneration. It was a really good send off for Matt.

We’ll never forget when the Doctor was him.

Related:

Doctor Who Review: The Day of the Doctor

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Doctor Who Reviews Index

Doctor Who Review: The Day of the Doctor

doctor who the day of the doctor review poster hd matt smith david tennant john hurt jenna coleman billie piper steven moffat nick hurran

Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

I went to see The Day of the Doctor in cinema. It was one hell of an atmosphere, which was both brilliant, and, at times, completely surreal. (One of the strangest sights I’ve seen in a long while was a Matt Smith lookalike, in full purple frock coat costume, standing in line to buy a Big Mac)

There were so many people there – some in full costume, others with David Tennant T-Shirts (I personally preferred my Colin Baker shirt, but hey) and many more with sonic screwdrivers and scarves. It was a really, really fantastic sight to see – hundreds of people, who perhaps wouldn’t normally talk or know each other, all together because of one little TV show. That was one of the best parts of the evening, really – seeing, for example, someone who could have watched An Unearthly Child, way back at the start, here today to watch this 50th Anniversary special.

The opening titles were lovely; to see that old howlaround effect from fifty years ago on the big screen was fantastic, and a little bit heartwarming. There were plenty of other little moments like that as well, some more overt than others. My own personal favourite reference to the past was the Doctor’s promise – “Never cruel or cowardly. Never gives in and never gives up” being the maxim that Terrance Dicks used to describe the Doctor’s character. Other, more subtle ones filled the episode as well – Clara works at Coal Hill School, with Ian Chesterton, the code for the Vortex Manipulator is the date and time of An Unearthly Child’s first broadcast, etc etc.

From there, then, we’re introduced to our current Doctor (how strange it is to think of him otherwise), Matt Smith. Right from the off, he’s brilliant. As expected really; I don’t think Matt Smith has ever given a poor performance. The same goes for Jenna Coleman, who does a great job as the Doctor’s best friend, and later conscience.

The other actors all give stellar performances as well – Jemma Redgrave and Ingrid Oliver do great work as the new UNIT family. It was also really wonderful to see David Tennant back – he was my first Doctor, and it was really really exciting to see him back, as the Doctor, once again.

John Hurt, is, of course, the actor around whom all the questions were asked. Obviously, the questions weren’t going to be about his acting prowess – it’s John Hurt for goodness’ sake!

It’s his role in Doctor Who that people were, understandably, curious about. He was fantastic; he acted as the embodiment of the classic series, asking pertinent questions about just who he becomes (“Why are you so afraid of being grown ups?”) Mocking and sarcastic, his dynamic with Matt and David was what really made this special special.

In fairness, however, it may well have worked better with Paul McGann in that part – given that he was part of the Classic series, he could perhaps have better served as it’s voice. Given that has all been and gone though – and John Hurt really was amazing – there’s little point in wishing for what could have been…

Nick Hurran did a fantastic job with the direction – viewing it in 3D, there was a real depth to the visuals, which I think added another dimension (a third dimension!) to the episode. A few sequences which stand out would be the Eleventh Doctor under the TARDIS at the beginning, and the three Doctors together in the painting towards the end.

Steven Moffat deserves a fair amount of praise for this I think. He said a while back that this was the most difficult episode to write because there was so much riding on it, and so many people to please – for me, at least, the episode was a success. Every aspect of the plot linked in together perfectly – the story with UNIT and the Zygons mirroring the problem faced by John Hurt’s Doctor. (Some of the bits with Elizabeth I, however, were cringeworthy at best, and at other times completely inappropriate.)

My only gripe, I suppose, is losing RTD’s version of the Time War, a concept which I really loved. Still, I’m relatively sure there’s a way to reconcile the two interpretations – that’s what fanfiction is for, no?

Despite that though, the return of Gallifrey – through the work of all thirteen Doctors, no less! – was a moment of triumph which worked really, really well here. The montage of clips with previous Doctors was very nice, and rather fitting as well.

There’s a really lovely moment, which I think is worth mentioning. It’s at the point where Matt Smith tells his fellow Doctors that there is, in fact, another way to end the Time War.

David Tennant turns around and, in a moment of jubilation, high fives the TARDIS.

That’s absolutely fantastic, and it mirrors, I think, the way I reacted to this special –  I really, really loved it.

50/50, as it were.

Related:

50 Days of the Doctor Who 50th

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Doctor Who Reviews Index

The Thirteenth Doctor?

doctor who last doctor silhouette thirteenth doctor matt smith idea concept death

The 13th Doctor is one I’ve sort of been looking forward to for a while now. I think that there is a brilliant story to be told with this incarnation.

Barring The End of Time, regeneration has never been portrayed as a death. The Doctor is, essentially, always safe – he can risk his life in ways others can’t because it’s not the same risk for him, not quite. He can run in front of that Dalek because… well, if it does exterminate him, he’s going to come back from that. (It’s because of this we have jokes like the one in The Curse of Fatal Death, where the Doctor wastes four regenerations or so in one go)

So, obviously, someone who’s never quite had to be afraid of death in quite so literal a manner is going to have quite a shock when it is a permanent fixture of their daily life – particularly when living a lifestyle like the Doctor’s. For comparison, I suppose… if someone lived their life never getting ill, and never really believing that they could, their first sneeze would be petrifying.

It’s because of this I think the Thirteenth Doctor would be such an interesting one. For the first time, cliffhangers really do hang in the present tense. Where does one go with this in the narrative? What this is, essentially, is asking a character who’s spent thousands of years as an undying traveller to face up to their own mortality.

Who does the Doctor become? Never cruel or cowardly is wonderful to aspire to… but sometimes, you’re going to fear for your own life. The Doctor would learn to pick his battles, perhaps. Maybe… maybe he doesn’t run in front of that Dalek. If he dies saving that one person, he can’t save a thousand people later on.

Would the Doctor become even more arrogant? Does he stop taking on companions, because it’s going to be that bit more difficult to protect them?

Is this what the Valeyard is borne out of? “I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them” said Ian Fleming once. But… what if you’ve started to believe your days are worth their weight in gold? This isn’t wasting days, it’s investing them, surely?

Someone once described the Thirteenth Doctor as “a man dressed for his own funeral”.
If that doesn’t sound a fantastic opportunity for a nuanced, and new, story, then I don’t know what would.

Slight spoilers for The Time of the Doctor follow…

Now, it seems that a big plot point of Matt’s last episode is that he, the Eleventh Doctor, is the thirteenth incarnation.

Hmm. Okay.

Now, this is counting John Hurt, and presumably Tentoo as well. Little bit odd, but okay. (If there’s anyone particularly well versed on Gallifrey reading this, I have a question about regeneration limits. I’d always understood it to be, more or less, a psychological limit rather than a biological one – the problem was that a Time Lord would go crazy after thirteen lives, because of cluttered personalities in their heads? I suppose since the Time Lords are genetically engineered it’s related to the biology anyway but…)

Right, yes. Eleven as Thirteen.

I think this is a mistake. Essentially because we miss out on all stories, all the possibilities, the ideas that I spoke about above. We don’t get that because Matt hasn’t been the last from the start – he has become the last.

Now, obviously, it’s impossible to know what Steven Moffat was thinking. Maybe he was impatient, and just wanted to tell a particular aspect of that story as soon as possible.

Or maybe he’s gone in a completely different direction, and came up with something great – a perfect regeneration for Matt, that relies on the idea of a final death. (Again… after Tennant.. okay, struggling to see an upside to Matt as 13, but I’m biased because I’m quite so invested in the Thirteenth Doctor being a developed storyline.)

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Doctor Who Index

50 Days of Doctor Who 50th Celebration

doctor who all the doctors 50th anniversary day of the doctor orange matt smith david tennant steven moffat nick hurran tumblr 50 days of the doctor who 50th anniversary

So, this is something I did day by day on tumblr, as part of a celebration challenge type thing put forward by the official Doctor Who tumblr, which was a bit of a thing in those days. It might still be in these days, I don’t know, maybe there’s a 13 Days of the 13th Doctor thing going on, I should probably check. 

Anyway, fifty individual posts is a little unwieldy for the new blog, so I’ve collected them all together in one post. What follows is, then, as much a snapshot of 2013 Doctor Who tumblr culture as it is of my own opinions at the time – there’s a lot of stuff that varies from questionable to laughable, not least the probably unconvincing attempts to pretend I’d seen much more Classic Who than I actually had, or indeed still have. 

But, still, this is arguably sort of the first ongoing blogging project I undertook, and it was actually a bit of a big part of the 50th anniversary for me, so here it is, in all its glory, entirely unchanged, apart from correcting the spelling mistakes.

doctor who 50 days of doctor who 50th challenge tumblr bbc america adipose 2013 gif

October 4th | Who was your first Doctor?

Yeah, I know, I’m a little bit behind. But, as they say, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it has always been, will always be, and currently still is October 4th. So there.

I suppose, then, by that logic, all the Doctors are my first Doctor – after all, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint… well, you get the idea.

But if we mean properly, I’d say it’s Christopher Eccleston. Ish. He was the Doctor when I first heard about the show, so I knew him to be the face of the show, but the first episode I ever saw was Bad Wolf, and then a week later it was The Parting of the Ways, so… I didn’t really see much of him as the Doctor initially.

Which then, I suppose, makes David Tennant my first Doctor. I don’t know if I watched The Christmas Invasion on its first showing, but I definitely remember New Earth – which is worth revisiting on the 14th of October, methinks.

October 5th | Who is your favourite companion?

That’s favourite, by the way. With a u.

Having said that, not entirely sure I have an opinion on this. I prefer some over others, sure, but I don’t really have an overall favourite who’s ahead of the others. Hmm.

Yeah, that’s quite difficult actually. Especially since I would want to have seen every companion to have been able to make a judgement on them properly.

And then there’s the EU – there may well be 40 or so companions in the televised show (I’m guessing; the magazines all called Martha the 37th) but I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t include the like of, say, Fitz.

Um… no, I’m going to abstain from this particular question, sorry.

October 6th | Which cast or crew member has the best twitter?

Twitter? Really? Twitter is… not something that I follow. (Ha ha ha, it’s a twitter pun, get it?)

Um, yeah, I don’t think I have an answer for this. Paul McGann’s twitter appeals to my sense of humour, I suppose, in that it’s quite odd. That latte joke a few weeks ago was quite funny.

But… yeah, no, I don’t know.

October 7th | Favourite episode?

See, this is why I wasn’t doing these on time. I knew there was no way I’d be able to give proper answers for most of them, especially all of those “favourite” ones, where I have to give absolute answers, and can’t deal in the abstract.

But, go on then, I’ll try.

Classic Who = Trial of a Time Lord

Yes, this is a cheat. This is very, very much a cheat. But tough. Trial of a Time Lord is Colin Baker’s second, and final season – but it does, arguably, count as one long, drawn out episode. Personally, I quite enjoy it. The Sixth Doctor is my favourite Doctor, so this very long episode is certainly up there. It’s got some brilliant quotes as well, and the Valeyard is a fantastic concept.

New Who = Love & Monsters.

Guys, don’t shoot. Or unfollow. Love & Monsters is a good episode! It’s great! It’s hardly par for course Doctor Who, so it’s not an overall favourite – but it is my default answer for this sort of question. In fact, here’s something I wrote about Love & Monsters a while ago. Other New Who episodes that I like a lot would be, say… oh, all of them. (Apart from quite a few of series 7)

So, there you go. That’s the best I’ve got I’m afraid.

October 8th | Name an episode that made you laugh

“That made lol”

Guys… let’s not. Anyways. Or, anywho, ha ha ha. (See, because this is the one about laughter?)

Hmm, well… The Unicorn and the Wasp is pretty funny, although it’s been quite a while since I watched it. Um…  this scene is always very funny, but I doubt that it’s intentionally funny, and rather… just kinda odd.

Beyond that, well, there’s various one liners and suchlike that stand out – and with 50 years of them to laugh at, I think it’d be a bit difficult to list them all. (But I bet someone has)

October 9th | Invent a new feature for the Sonic Screwdriver

Ooh, now this is an interesting one.

I’ve always thought that when (not if. Never if) I become the showrunner for Doctor Who, I’m going to put a very strict rule on the usage of the sonic screwdriver: If you can make the argument that this could be done using sound waves, then it can be done in the episode.

So, that’s a yes to opening doors, and a no to shooting laser beams. (Ish, I’m wondering if there’s a way you could shoot laser beams with sound. Like, concentrated sound waves? Would that work?) It’s a yes to scanning people (ultrasound!) but a no to re-attaching barbed wire.

But, you wanted a new feature, so… something that could be done with sound? Well… tracking people, potentially? Like sonar!

I’m not entirely sure how it would display, although then again, how does anything display with the sonic screwdriver? Telepathy I assume.

October 10th | What’s the coolest planet the Doctor’s ever visited?

Ah, I know the one.

It’s appeared in many an episode, and is probably the most commonly recurring destination in the series.

It is, of course, Planet of the Quarries.

(Having said that, Thoros Beta was pretty cool.)

October 11th | Take a photo of something IRL that you think would be from Doctor Who

Um. I don’t even own a camera? I’m not entirely sure what to do for this one. Yeah, I’ve got nothing.

I imagine it’d have to be a clock or something. Yeah, that sounds about right.

October 12th | Bow Ties, Fezzes, or Stetsons?

Is that which one I’d want to wear in my own life, or I think is best on Doctor Who?

I’ve no opinion on this really. Uh, Bow Ties? Yeah, Bow Ties. After all, they are… cool.

(Yes, I’m aware that the purpose of the question is that they’re all, allegedly, cool.)

October 13th | Favourite Doctor Who Themed YouTube Video

So, this one was a little bit of a difficult choice. I did think it might be a good opportunity for a little bit of self-promotion, but this really is a very good video:

There’s a lot of thought gone into this, and it’s definitely a very interesting video. The discussion presents some thought-provoking ideas, and there’s a brilliant joke in there about the Doctor’s name.

October 14th | Name an episode that had you hiding behind the sofa

doctor who new earth the flesh sick people patients zombies disease cat nurse hospital tenth doctor david tennant russell t davies

2×01: New Earth

This was a pretty obvious choice – it’s actually the only Doctor Who episode I’ve ever been scared by.

Specifically, it was those infected zombie people. It was the way that they were approaching from all sides, and were quite unstoppable. I think it also played to my own claustrophobia as well – being surrounded like that would hardly be much fun.

Obviously, this was also my first proper episode – so, sat there, jumping every so often and being told “I didn’t have to watch it if I didn’t want to” was the very moment I decided that, yes, I very much did want to keep watching this. Forever.

October 15th | Come up with a name for a Doctor Who-themed recipe

Uh. Daleked Alaska?

I’m really not that good at this whole pun or play on words stuff. Admittedly, the fact that I don’t really know many food words or recipe names hardly helps.

How about… Jelly Babies?

No, I’ve really got nothing.

Bad WoLF | Bad Wolf Bad Wolf Bad Wolf

bad wolf bad wolf bad wolf

October 17th | Favourite one time companion

Hmm, interesting one this, since there’s quite a few one time companions who were very good. There are some sort of almost companions, like Rita from The God Complex, who could have been brilliant had they stayed on board properly. Others, like Astrid from Voyage of the Damned, are simply good examples of companions – they tick the boxes, and provide the correct story cues.

But that’s why it isn’t either of them. For a one off companion, they have to push the envelope, and be someone different – something different, that the show simply couldn’t always do.

That brings us to either Jackson Lake or Adelaide Brooke, I believe. Played by David Morrisey and Lindsay Duncan respectively, both of these people had stories and characterisations that were different to usual.

Jackson Lake believed he was the Doctor, and, for a time, the audience could too. Brave and dashing, he was every inch the Doctor – until he wasn’t, when he was brutally cut down and reduced. The false identity he’d found solace in was taken from him, and he became a man who’d lost his wife again. But in the end, he did get his happy ending – that man who’d lost his wife still had his son, and didn’t have to fly off alone.

Adelaide Brooke was a pioneer, and a pivotal character in human future history. And, through that, we had a historical story, one we couldn’t have with a genuine historical character – all the risk, but none of that certainty at the back of your mind that everything would be okay. And not everything was okay – she sacrificed herself to preserve history, and combat the Doctor’s growing arrogance.

Ultimately, I think my favourite of the pair would have to be Adelaide Brooke, because of the tragedy of her story.

October 18th | Favourite Song from the Soundtrack

This is one of my favourite pieces of music ever, let alone from Doctor Who. I’m not entirely sure why, there’s just something really nice about it.

October 19th |  Name a “Who-ism” you use in real life

Hmm. Well, it’s been a while, but back in… hmm, I think it would have been around David Tennant’s last year, I had adopted a fair few of his speech patterns.

It was “Well…” and then over-complicating the prior explanation.

I’ve stopped doing that now generally. And Matt Smith’s speech patterns aren’t so easy to emulate really.

October 20th | Cosplay time! Dress up as your favourite Doctor, but only with things you can find in your closet

Hmm. Not really into the whole dressing up/cosplay thing really, and I still don’t own a camera.

And, given that my favourite Doctor is the Sixth… well, as you can imagine, it’s a tad difficult to assemble a Sixth Doctor costume from just the contents of one’s cupboard. However, I do own this, rather brilliant, T-Shirt…

doctor who sixth doctor colin baker t shirt forbidden planet doctor who merchandise cosplay

Which is utterly fantastic and my favourite T-Shirt. I do, quite often, wear it out and about, and have worn it to school on occasion.

October 21st | If you could go anywhere in Time and Space with the Doctor, where would it be?

Ooh, now this is a nice question!

Hmm. Alright, we’ll ignore, for a moment, all the time altering stuff. If going to the past… hmm. Well, the Library of Alexandria sounds pretty cool, but I also find Bolshevik Russia quite interesting, and would love to take a visit. Not when it’s in a civil war, obviously. Watching the Moon Landing would be… phenomenal really.

On the other hand, if going to the future… well, obviously it’s difficult to put a specific date on things, since I don’t actually know the future yet. Having said that, I’d quite like to have a conversation with my 30-year-old self, just to see how things are doing in my life. I’d also like to visit the year 2075 or so, just so I can see what the state of the world is like – whether there’s been any wars, or if Global Warming has become a bigger issue. (Although, having said that, if there were wars, or Global Warming was a big issue, I’m not sure I’d want to return to our time with that foreknowledge, and knowing I couldn’t change things)

As to other planets… well, I’m not too fussed about that. I imagine there are plenty of planets out there that are absolutely brilliant, and that I’d love to visit.

October 22nd | If you were the Doctor, what would be your catchphrase?

Catchphrases?

Yeah, I’m not too big on catchphrases. I mean, it’s all well and good to have them in the show, but they do seem a bit… odd at times.

It’s actually rather laughable when people try and make photosets for all the Doctors which incorporate catchphrases – sure, it works for Nine, Ten, and Eleven, but it’s really pushing it with the classic Doctors. You can sort of excuse things like “Would you like a jelly baby?” for Four, and “Who am I?” is quite funny for Eight, but equally – “Fine” for Seven? Really?

[Interesting Factoid: In their earlier appearances, the Daleks didn’t actually say “Exterminate” very much. It was only with Day of the Daleks that they began to in the show – ‘Dalekmania’ had adopted “Exterminate”, and that phrase had entered into the public consciousness, as well as the writers’, by 1973ish. It was because of that it was used in the episode]

Anyways, my catchphrase.

Well, in real life, I say “Indeed” and “Quite” a lot. Those sort of non-committal affirmatives. Uh, I used to say “Tenfold” a lot, but I don’t anymore, and I’m not entirely sure why I did.

I’d probably do that thing that the Seventh Doctor did, of messing up phrases.

October 23rd | Who is your OTP?

Ooh, just one month left ‘til the anniversary. Sort of.

OTP? That’s “one true pairing”. I’m up on all the lingo y’know. It’s to do with “shipping”. Um, shipping isn’t something I’ve ever really been into. Not sure why really, it just doesn’t… I never see two characters and overwhelmingly think “Yes, these two should get together”.

Sure, there’s some I’m okay with (Ian and Barbara being an obvious example) but others I’m not so keen on (the Doctor and anyone, basically)

If you ship, good for you.

Not a very Romantic post, but it’s Hallowe’en, not Valentine’s.

October 24th | Name someone who you think is secretly from the Whoniverse

Well, there’s a few people actually.

  • But in telling you, it’s no longer a secret, so shh.

Actually, no, wait a minute.

Is to be from the Whoniverse meant as a good thing or a bad thing?

Could I say that Michael Grade is most likely from the Whoniverse – a Cyberman reject, with no emotions? Or just really poor taste.

Yes, I think I shall say that.

Michael Grade, failed Cyberman, is from the Whoniverse.

October 25th | What’s your favourite story arc?

Hmm, interesting one.

If I’m being honest, I’m not entirely sure I have a favourite as such. What I do find interesting is the different approaches that have been taken towards story arcs in New Who (I’ll mention Classic Who later).

RTD generally had lighter arcs, that weren’t too intrusive on the story. Things like Bad Wolf were very subtle at times – very blink and you’d miss it in fact. There wasn’t always a focus on these references – perfunctory dialogue such as a soldier saying “Saxon has approved the order, fire on the Web Star” is hardly going to stick in someone’s mind. But I’d argue that that is perhaps a good thing – keep it simple enough that it doesn’t alienate or confuse anyone, but still just noticeable enough that you’ll see it, apart from the odd scene or two.

I also think that the finales themselves were never built upon that prior knowledge; I’m relatively confident that you could watch, say The Sound of the Drums/Last of the Time Lords without having needed to see/hear the earlier Saxon references.

With Moffat, the general approach is a to make things very obvious and noticeable. In Series 5, attention was always drawn to the crack – lingering camera shots, references in the dialogue, and even becoming a plot point in one of the episodes. I remember thinking at the time that that was quite different, and indeed notable.

Series 6 pushed this even further; if you didn’t pay attention, you did miss out. Personally, I don’t find that particularly difficult – but I do focus on Doctor Who a lot. This did lead to a lot of people, fans and casual viewers alike, becoming disillusioned and indeed abandoning the show for a while.

That arc (does it have a shortened, trendy name? I’m currently referring to it as “all of that baby weirdness that went on in series six”) was at times trippy and cyclical. Good for a fan who is completely engrossed in the show, but not so much for anyone else. Or writers apparently, since there were many issues with logic and consistency and plot holes with that season.

Anyways, Classic Who. As I understand it, the only two arcs in the modern sense are The Key to Time and The Trial of a Time Lord. Key to Time followed a pretty similar idea to series 5; the arc was part of the plot, and a central part as well. There was a quest, an idea. Trial of a Time Lord, conversely, was essentially just serialised – one long Doctor Who episode.

Of the 3 styles- subtle mentions, driving the plot and serialisation – my own personal favourite is the driving the plot idea. No particular reason, it’s just something I enjoy. For television though, I think that the subtle mentions is probably best, for reasons I’ve already stated above.

October 26th | Favourite Quote or one-liner?

Doctor Who is eminently quotable so I do, in fact, have a couple of favourites here.

One brilliant “quote”, as it were, is the Doctor’s entire speech in The Rings of Akhaten. As an episode, it didn’t do much for me, but it was home to one of the best scenes in the entire series. I think perhaps a lot of that is to do with Matt Smith’s performance, and Murray Gold’s score, rather than the speech itself, so it doesn’t get to win this, the most coveted of honours.

There’s quote of the First Doctor’s, from The Edge of Destruction, which I’m quite fond of: “As we learn about each other, so we learn about ourselves.”

It’s a nice line, and one which says a lot about life, and indeed people.

But for a really meaningful quote, I always look towards Love & Monsters

doctor who love & monsters life so much madder so much better quote elton pope facebook cover photo

Incidentally, this tends to be my facebook cover photo. I really do like this quote.

 October 27th | Who is your favourite historical figure that has appeared?

This isn’t entirely based on their appearances in Doctor Who, of which only one I’ve come into contact with, but more to do with my own interests in that person as a historical figure…

Alan Turing

doctor who alan turing

Turing is a person who’s life I am fascinated by; his work in philosophy and computing is astounding, and I take great interest in it.

I actually recently attended an exhibition dedicated to his life at the Science Museum in London, which was held to mark the centenary of his birth.

Turing was a remarkable and inspiring person, and deserves to be remembered as such.

October 28th | Who would win in a fight? A Weeping Angel or a Silence?

A Silence, as in a group of Silents? That’s… yeah, this is kind of a weird question.

Okay, first things first. I’ve just gone back and checked a clip (specifically, the confrontation between the Doctor and the Silence in The Day of the Moon) and confirmed what I was pretty sure of before – Silents don’t blink.

Now, I’d say that’s key in the defeat of a Weeping Angel. As I understand it, the Angel is Quantum Locked when it’s seen. Now, this actually means something other than turn to stone, if you think about it logically. As a being which feed on time energy, and can send people through time, it stands to reason that Quantum Locking doesn’t just turn them to stone, it freezes them in time. I assume this means that, whilst they can be moved, the angel and everything it is made up of cannot change – which prevents it from being destroyed. (I’m ignoring that forest scene in Flesh and Stone partially because it was somewhat stupid)

I’d say Weeping Angels could be locked in a vault somewhere, or set adrift in space… and if a Silence, which doesn’t blink, never turned it’s back on them, I imagine said Silence could win the fight. Not exactly easily, but it’d be doable.

(I put far more thought into this than was required, didn’t I?)

October 29th | Which Doctor had the best costume?

doctor who sixth doctor colin baker costumer colourful coat fishing lake umbrella

Oh, was it ever in any doubt?

October 30th | Who is your favourite monster or villain?

Monster or villain you say? Monster and villain I say.

Monster

Okay, so, monster. Quick look at definitions tells me that monster is more creature orientated – so, for example, the Rani is a villain, whereas the Tetraps are monsters.

I think I’m going to have to stick to the perennial choice – Daleks. There’s a pervasive sense of evil about them; an unstoppable force, their only aim to kill you.

The design of them too factors into this choice; they really do look startlingly original. The pepper pot shape is now so iconic we sometimes forget just how different they are – there really isn’t anything remotely Dalek like in other forms of science fiction.

As well as this, you can achieve some pretty interesting stories when you play around with the idea of a Dalek – Dalek, for one, has a relatively unique take on the monster, and is all the better for it.

Villain

Here I’m going to have to say the Valeyard.

Despite having only appeared in a pretty limited capacity across one season, and sort of turning up in series 5, the Valeyard sticks in my mind a lot.

As a concept, it’s brilliant – he’s the Doctor, but evil. All the Doctor’s darker aspects, concentrated and distilled into one being – and the Doctor has one hell of a capacity for evil. As I understand it, he’s got a genocide count just shy of 175; imagine the Doctor without his rules, his ethics, his standards.

That’s the Valeyard.

I can’t wait for what must surely be the Valeyard’s inevitable return to the series – whilst the Doctor is alive, so must he be, at least on some level…

October 31st | Wholloween

doctor who happy halloween wholloween weeping angel silence empty child steven moffat scary monsters

November 1st | Anything Goes

doctor who knitted tardis arts and crafts crochet first doctor puppet

This here is a knitted TARDIS, as made by one of my best friends. As you can tell, she’s rather talented.

November 2nd | If you could write an episode, what would it be about?

If you could write an episode?

Well, you see, I already have. Sort of. I present unto you…

The Legacy of the Daleks

On the Agrippinsium Colony World, there are no Daleks. There has been an age of peace and prosperity since the end of the Tenth Dalek Occupation.

At least, that should be the case.

When the Doctor, Amy, and Rory arrive, they find an oppressed people, living in fear. Fear of the Daleks.

Why are the Daleks here? What’s really going on? And who is ‘Davros’?

From August 2011 to August 2012, I wrote a Doctor Who script, featuring the Eleventh Doctor, Amy, and Rory. I did, in fact, sent a copy to Steven Moffat – obviously not expecting it to be made, but perhaps read. (It wasn’t – basically, there’s a copyright thing. If they don’t read it, I can’t sue them if anything similar to my idea turns up on the actual show)

Certainly, there are issues with it. The premise is certainly sound, but the execution isn’t always. There’s also plot threads/ideas I set up, but never really did anything with, like the villain of the piece not having a proper name – it’s very much a first draft thing. (Or early second draft) I’ve read it again and it feels more Tennant than Smith in places – but I’m proud of it all the same.

Also, the synopsis isn’t great. I tried.

November 3rd | Who’s been your favourite guest star?

I think I’d have to say Brian Blessed as King Yrcanos.

doctor who brian blessed king yrcanos peri brown sixth doctor 1980s doctor who mindwarp

Yrcanos was a Krontep Warrior King who was captured by the Mentors, and met the Sixth Doctor and Peri on Thoros Beta in the story Mindwarp, which was part of The Trial of a Time Lord. That four part serial (or, sort of 4 part serial) was one of the best parts of the Trial series, with a clever plot and a really shocking ending…

Also, it’s Brian Blessed in Doctor Who! How cool is that?

November 4th | Which characters would make up your ideal Team TARDIS?

Hmm, interesting one.

I tried to put a fair amount of thought into this, hence the lateness. But I didn’t really have much in the way of opinions.

Generally, I find, each companion has been created for their Doctor… they match up and contrast quite well with said Doctor. But hey, worth a try.

Ian and the Third Doctor

It’s the premise of a fanfiction I read recently; what if Ian had been chosen as the UNIT scientific advisor rather than Liz Shaw?

I think it would have been a really cool dynamic – they would have known each other already, so there’s a shared history there. As well as that, it’d be really interesting to see how Ian would react to the ways in which the Doctor had changed since he’d last seen him; no longer does he avoid meddling, but he’s been punished for it.

The Brigadier and the Ninth Doctor

I think it’d be interesting to see how the Ninth Doctor would treat the Brigadier, as opposed to any of his other incarnations. After the war, 9 was in a lot of senses a soldier. While other incarnations condemned the Brigadier’s less diplomatic tactics, like Wenley Moor, I think 9 would be a much more easily persuaded of the necessity of the actions.

Anyone and the Sixth Doctor

The best Doctor would, naturally, be pretty fantastic with any companion. (In a more specific sense, it might have been interesting had Mark Strickson stayed on another season, and we’d had Six, Peri and Turlough)

November 5th | If you were a Dalek, what would you be called?

As in, a Cult of Skaro style name? Based upon my own name?

Well… Dalek Lex fits best. That sort of one syllable type thing.

I’d also be one of those silver and blue William Hartnell 60s Daleks, because they’re the best.

November 6th | Post the Best Who gifs you’ve seen

(it’s this thing of the Master? Idk how tf to sort that)

Relatively self explanatory, no?

Full credit to karlimeaghan, who made these gifs.

November 7th | Which TARDIS had the best interior?

I’ve actually got two favourite TARDISes; both are from Matt Smith’s time as the Doctor.

Number One: 

doctor who series 5 tardis interior matt smith eleventh doctor amy pond karen gillan rory williams arthur darvill steven moffat ed thomas the eleventh hour tardis interior

This is my favourite TARDIS interior – it’s bright, expansive, and it looks really… fun. For me, it encapsulates the spirit of Doctor Who. It really does feel alive and new and… it’s just really very brilliant. There’s an indefinable magic to it – from this TARDIS, I can readily believe that this is the home of a wizard, the inside of a mad man’s box. From here, every planet and every star, the whole of time and space – it’s only a hop, skip and a jump away.

Number Two:

doctor who series 7 tardis interior matt smith eleventh doctor twelfth doctor peter capaldi the snowmen series 7b clara oswald jenna coleman steven moffat michael pickwoad

I like this one for its callbacks to Classic Who, really. There’s a lot about it that I had in mind when designing a TARDIS myself. It’s very mechanical, and it shows that the TARDIS is very much a machine – it’s nice to see things as a magic box, but it’s even better for the TARDIS to be an achievable machine, something we can aspire to one day invent.

It seems a little contradictory to say this actually – first I’ve said how I like a TARDIS for being so magical, but then also another for quite so mechanical. In explanation, I present this Arthur C Clarke quote…

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

November 8th | Which character do you wish you could meet IRL and why?

Hmm. Difficult one that.

At the minute, I’m thinking Mickey Smith, Rory Williams, and Oswin Oswald.

Mickey and Rory are both quite cool people, and I think they’re the sort of people whom I’d gravitate towards in real life, and would be friends with. Same goes for Oswin Oswald – the one from Asylum of the Daleks, rather than the usual companion one. That’s simply because the funny, smart Oswin is more like my own friends that the dependable, enthusiastic Clara.

Obviously, I’d love to meet the Sixth or Eighth Doctors, because they’re both fantastic. However, given that the likelihood of my death would be pretty high in either of their presences…

Well.

November 9th | Plot Twist: Name a time you totally didn’t see that coming

You know, I think it’s pretty obvious which one it’d have to be…

Asylum of the Daleks

doctor who asylum of the daleks movie poster series 7a matt smith eleventh doctor steven moffat nick hurran

It had to be this one really. Twice! Twice in one episode, there was an absolutely… totally, completely unexpected twist. Both involving Jenna-Louise Coleman, in fact.

doctor who asylum of the daleks oswin oswald clara jenna coleman jenna louise coleman souffle eggs daleks steven moffat

First of all, her just being there was a hell of twist – she wasn’t meant to be around ‘till Christmas! You can’t interfere with casting like that!

And then… she wasn’t even herself! She died! That didn’t make sense either!

Why? What? What on earth was happening?

Now that was a twist and a half.

November 10th | Name an episode that inspired emotions

(I dislike the term “feels”)

Anyways. Generally, I tend not to get particularly emotional at television. Just doesn’t really occur. Certainly, I’ve never sat and cried because of Doctor Who. But, still though.

Fear – New Earth

Shock – Asylum of the Daleks

Disappointment – The Angels Take Manhattan

There’s others, obviously. Some more positive, some more negative.

Note: The above is meant to be “name an episode that gave you feels”; five years ago I, apparently, was an absolute grouch.

November 11th | Eleven Eleven!

Eleven Eleven?

I suppose this is a post to dedicate to Matt Smith, our wonderful, departing Doctor. I have no idea what to say though. To properly articulate thoughts about Matt Smith’s tenure as the Doctor, and to properly reflect on his impact in the role, I would need to write a huge great big essay.

I think for now, it’d be better to compile all the comments I’ve made about his acting over the course of his episodes…

The Eleventh Hour

Beyond that, there’s the acting – which I suppose is much more important here than it is in any other type of episode really. Matt Smith did a pretty good job of it actually (as we’d now expect) in the way that he slowly built up the performance; starting out quite Tennant-y and then becoming more… Smith-y. It seems a little subtle, at first, but when you think that it’s been shot out of order, then it becomes even more impressive.

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

The ending/epilogue thing, was the best part of the episode – where he sits on the TARDIS, with Rory and Amy with him… but the Doctor, while he’s so close to them, is so very far away from it. That scene was some of Matt Smith’s best acting.

Dr. Who and the Snowmen

And then in comes the Doctor! Despite misgivings about the idea of his retirement – and even now, still not entirely sure about it – Matt Smith does show the bitter side of it very well. And, in something which really subtly shows the change – he’s wearing a normal tie. Just to distance himself from how things used to be. That in itself leads into a brilliant scene later on – namely where he realises he’s wearing a bow tie, and everything that has changed really becomes apparent to him – you can see the impact that realisation has, and it’s portrayed with barely any dialogue. And there’s a funny joke about being “cooler.”

The Bells of Saint John

Matt Smith, Jenna-Louise Coleman and Celia Imrie were all brilliant, as expected.

The Name of the Doctor

Right now though, in the present, we have Matt Smith. (But not for much longer, sadly.) And as ever, he went from strength to strength with his portrayal.

So, yeah. Obviously, it’s not every episode. Nor is it every episode of his I’ve reviewed – there were a lot of times when I simply didn’t feel it necessary to comment on the calibre of Matt’s acting, that I could assume that would be taken as read.

And that, I feel, speaks volumes – Matt Smith and brilliant acting are, quite simply, part and parcel.

November 12th | What are your hopes for Twelve?

Ooh, good one.

With the casting of Peter Capaldi*, I had my main hope answered actually – an older Doctor. I believe that an older Doctor is exactly what the show needs right now.

First of all, he’ll be a direct contrast to Matt Smith. One of the most important parts of regeneration is, after all, change. Peter Capaldi is obviously different to Matt Smith, and with it so will be his portrayal – a breath of fresh air I think the show needs every so often.

However, the main reason I wanted an older Doctor was because an older Doctor should bring with him an air of maturity, one that I think the show has been sorely lacking for a while. Although it’s fun to see a wild eyed childish Doctor at times, it can be very awkward when this is over exaggerated, and made to be a singular defining trait. (That rarely happened on the show, but definetly in the EU with Matt Smith)

Anyway, Peter Capaldi. I think, personally, it’d be nice to take him back to the William Hartnell/Colin Baker style Doctor – initially a little morally ambiguous, you’re not entirely sure where you stand with him. I also think it’d be important for him to have some very alien sensibilities again, in the form of that Sixth Doctor style arrogance – he knows what’s best, and wouldn’t particularly care about offending or upsetting you if it meant saving your life.

Something I’d also like to see is the Doctor being totally in control of the situation – rather suave, very knowledgeable. The expert poker player. Perhaps that would feed into the arrogance I’d mentioned already.

I’ve also seen, on another website, someone mention a similar idea to this but push it further – the Doctor gets to the point where he has to appear to be in control, so much so that he’s willing to bluff and risk lives, when he really really shouldn’t. I think that’d be a fascinating character flaw to explore.

In regards to his relationship with Clara – the model I’m picturing is Six and Peri, specifically in The Mysterious Planet. Gentle teasing and affectionate bickering. Possibly bordering on the paternal as well, in the style of Seven and Ace. No… Whouffle. Not really a shipper.

Finally, a word on the clothes. I’d like the Twelfth Doctor to wear clothes again, as opposed to a uniform, like we’ve had recently. Something more like the Third or Fourth Doctors – yes, there was a clear cut silhouette, but there was a lot of variety as well.

Personally, I’m quite fond of the outfit that Rowan Atkinson wore for The Curse of Fatal Death, so it might be nice to see something along those lines. (Equally, I like that punk rock Twelve that’s going around on tumblr. Sort of reminiscent of Johnny-Lee Miller in Elementary…)

So, there we go. Thoughts on Twelve. I wonder how close I’ll be to the mark?

*I must admit, though, my first choice was Alexander Siddig.

November 13th | What do you think is the weirdest thing the Doctor keeps in his dimensionally transcendental pockets?

You know at the end of the Men In Black movies, they always have a moment where they flip your perspective on its head, and show you that the universe is not what you think? That there are different levels to infinity? You do not, in fact, know everything?

I love those moments, and I love the way in which they’re illustrated.

I think there’s something pretty similar going on in the Doctor’s pockets…

November 14th | Which room of the TARDIS would you most like to visit?

Hmm, interesting one.

I’m leaning towards the library. It’s an amazing looking place, and I’d absolutely love to take a look through it.

doctor who tardis library journey to the centre of the tardis clara oswald jenna coleman stephen thompson steven moffat series 7b

However, another room I think would be pretty interesting to see would be the Doctor’s Drawing Room…

doctor who the doctor's drawing room tardis adventure game james goss phil ford series 5

The Doctor’s Drawing Room is full of mementos of thousands of years of time and space travel – naturally, it’d be a pretty amazing place to take a look around. What’s in those books? What do those objects mean? Who else has walked through this room?

(The Doctor’s Drawing Room was introduced in the Adventure game TARDIS – not quite as fun as it sounds, given that you only had access to the console room and the Drawing room, which was a shame. The games are still free to download on the BBC Doctor Who website, but I understand that they do cost money in America…)

November 15th | If you could have your memory erased of any episode so you could watch it again like it was new, which episode would it be?

The Angels Take Manhattan, without a doubt.

With this episode, I had a pretty poor experience regarding spoilers. A few weeks prior, I’d read this online…

Episode 5 involves weeping angels and new York, (both present day and 1930s), and the doctor has a book called Melody Malone, which you can guess who it involves. The next bit is a massive spoiler so I’ll white it. So, then after a nice picnic, Rory goes to get some coffees and, Oh No!, he’s sent back to the 1930s by an angel. Amy and the doctor are all ready to go back for him when, lo and behold, an old Rory appears and dies, Eek! So big time paradox stuff and all that eventually theirs a scene in a graveyard where Amy, the doctor & River (how’d she get there?) exit a smoking burnt TARDIS and are confronted with an angel, Amy slowly walks towards it to be with Rory and river drags an angry doctor into the TARDIS saying their is nothing they can do. Then we have a scene with the doctor crying over a piece of paper (a letter from Amy & rory?) on a bench in present day new York, very sad

Which is, I think it’s fair to say, quite a spoiler, no?

Anyway, throughout the episode I felt quite detached from proceedings, which led to me not enjoying it very much. So, I’d like to be able to watch it with a fresh eye, so as to see whether or not it was genuinely a poor episode, or if my opinion was clouded because of the lack of… suspense, I suppose.

November 16th | Think of the last movie you saw. Would the main character be a good companion?

Oh. I have no idea what the last movie I watched was? I think it might have been Gattaca?

The main character in Gattaca was played by Ethan Hawke, and his name was Vincent Freeman – and I would say that he is an ideal companion.

The plot of Gattaca, is, in essence, the story of a man who works to overcome inestimable odds to achieve his dream. In the not-so-distant future, society has reached a point where people are genetically engineered before birth – those who haven’t undergone this modification process are members of a lower, less desirable class.

Vincent Freeman’s greatest dream unattainable because he isn’t “good enough” – he was born naturally, without a geneticists hand in proceedings. And thus, to achieve the dream,  he adopts the identity of another man, going through insurmountable tasks and trials all for the sake of his dream. (Something the Doctor would find commendable, no?)

But what was his dream?

It was to go to space.

“For someone who was never meant for this world, I must confess I’m suddenly having a hard time leaving it. Of course, they say every atom in our bodies was once part of a star. Maybe I’m not leaving… maybe I’m going home.”

If he’s not a brilliant companion, I don’t know who is.

November 17th | What’s the best piece of DW merch that you own?

doctor who character options action figures sixth doctor tardis third doctor unit first doctor daleks skaro zygons action figure theatre doctor who figure adventures doctor who figures o

This was going to be an easy one. These action figures (collectible figurines!) are something I’ve collected for a long time. I’ve shelves upon shelves of them in my room, all proudly on display.

They’re nice, really, because owning them is somewhat akin to owning a piece of the show, in a way.

November 18th | Name a minor character you’d like to see return

Minor character, as in not a companion? (I notice that’s the next one along)

Hmm. Minor characters, you say?

Difficult that. Generally, minor characters don’t tend to have a huge amount of story potential left after having been dispensed with – I liked the Elton Pope character, but I’d hardly suggest there’s another story to tell about his character really.

I’m still thinking, still thinking… uh, Bracewell, from Victory of the Daleks was quite an interesting character, who possibly has further mileage to him.

Not sure really.

November 19th | Pick a companion that is no longer travelling with the Doctor. Where do you think they are now?

Hmm. Well, there’s a few we already know about, like Ace and her charity, or Ian and Barbara at Cambridge.

I must admit, I’ve never really sat and thought about where a companion ends up after their time in the TARDIS. I suppose a lot of them would… well, obviously they’d be changed by their experiences (ordeals?) and that would affect how they lived the rest of their lives.

A lot of them would travel the world, wouldn’t they? Attempt to do charitable works, and follow in the example of the Doctor. In a way, really, I think they’d be trying to change their Earthly life to make it more like their… Unearthly life.

Some of them, I suppose, might struggle to deal with it, and become depressed or think it was all a hallucination. But to be honest that’s not a very nice thought, so… moving on.

I’m reminded of something RTD said in his book, The Writer’s Tale, when talking about Donna’s return in Partners in Crime. He compared companions leaving the Doctor to astronauts returning to Earth – some of them would fail to “walk in the dust”, so to speak.

And that, I think, is rather an apt way of putting it.

November 20th | How do you think the Eleventh Doctor will regenerate?

Hmm.

There’s a wonderful photo around, actually, of a set of bloodied footprints walking through snow towards the TARDIS. It’s a very haunting image, but still manages to retain a degree of Christmas-ness, weirdly enough.

That’s something I think would be interesting to see…

The Eleventh Doctor, simply shot. After everything he’s seen, everything he’s been through. Hordes of Weeping Angels. The Pandorica. The Impossible Astronaut. The Dalek Asylum.

In the end, all it took was a single bullet.

He trudged forward, leaning against Clara, the pair of them stumbling forwards. Towards the TARDIS. Gasping, he opened the door. He was faintly aware of a trail of blood, pools of it congealing on the metal floors.

He looks up. Looks at Clara, pale and frightened. Despite everything, he smiles.

A final whisper.

“Geronimo.”

November 21st | What do you think will happen during the DW 50th?

With each trailer, I’ve been totally and completely sure of what was going to happen. That idea just changes with each trailer. It reminds me a little bit of that Men In Black quote… “500 hundred years ago, we knew the Earth was flat. Yesterday, you knew we were alone in the universe. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow”

I’m paraphrasing, obviously, but you get the gist.

I felt as though I had it relatively figured out, more or less, but there’s some clips in one of the new trailers which have changed things a bit. Essentially, the words “NO MORE” are painted on a wall, in blood. And that’s… a little bit confusing. Did the Doctor put it there? Is there an revolutionary Time Lord group trying to end the war?

I’m also wondering what’s up with Rose, and indeed a few other little things about how it all fits together.

But I’m certain that’s it gonna be…

… alright at the very least!

November 22nd | Doctor Who?

Well, perhaps, if we just knew his name, we might have a clue to all this.

Related:

Doctor Who Review: The Day of the Doctor

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Doctor Who Reviews Index