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May 12, 2013 7:35 PM   Subscribe

BBC America has shipped the ‘Doctor Who’ Season 7B Blu-Ray/DVD set early to those who pre-ordered it. Only one problem: it includes the season finale, which airs next week. The BBC confirms on Facebook (where people are having fun in the comments,) and Steven Moffat has promised that if fans keep spoilers off the net, they'll release a special video featuring the 10th and 11th Doctors after the finale airs.

More from Bleeding Cool. This article contains minor spoilers, and links to larger ones.

Meanwhile, the BBC has released a prequel video to next week's finale: She Said, He Said.
posted by zarq (144 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
SNAPE KILLS DUMBLEDORE
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:37 PM on May 12, 2013 [14 favorites]


That's what they get for shipping it via TARDIS: Time travel anomalies.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:38 PM on May 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


Gallifrey base wants a login. So my insatiable needs for big spoilers are not being met.
posted by jadepearl at 7:44 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been looking for spoilers on this since the first reports and nothing has materialized. It seems like a (clever) promotional stunt to me.
posted by gerryblog at 7:49 PM on May 12, 2013


I'm not going to be able to see it so I WANT spoilers. dammit.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:55 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Steven Moffat has promised that if fans keep spoilers off the net

Like "fans" are a single monolithic entity you can treat as a single block, and "the net" is something you can authoritatively survey.
posted by JHarris at 8:02 PM on May 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


A DVD extra if I wait to see it, instead of watching it ASAP?

I don't think they understand: I would shove my own mother into the mud to see this finale even a few hours early.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:02 PM on May 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


I only want it spoiled to the extent of someone telling me whether it sucks as badly as most of this demi-season has. Even the Gaiman one was only so-so. Strangely, the best and worst ones were both by Neil Cross, which is major Who'd a thunk it territory.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:06 PM on May 12, 2013 [13 favorites]


Why can't I find this on any of the usual, suspect sites? They're not exactly known for keeping things under wraps at the bequest of a producer.

Also, George_Spiggott, you can go suck lemons. Apart from constantly mispronouncing Clara's name, this season has been great fun.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 8:20 PM on May 12, 2013


To me, it's felt like the entire season was filmed using the first drafts of scripts.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:22 PM on May 12, 2013 [20 favorites]


Those Facebook comments are awesome. It makes total sense that the Stig would be the Doctor.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:34 PM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


post: "Steven Moffat has promised that if fans keep spoilers off the net"

JHarris: "Like 'fans' are a single monolithic entity you can treat as a single block, and 'the net' is something you can authoritatively survey."

Or maybe like "fans" are just a collection of normal human beings who form a very real community that one really can address respectfully as a group - I am pretty sure people sometimes address groups of humans, right? - and "the net" is a vast space that nonetheless has a hierarchy of information where certain of the most visible elements - like popular people on Twitter, major news outlets, and blogs and aggregators with sizeable communities - really can be effectively surveyed.
posted by koeselitz at 8:43 PM on May 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Re: The Doctor is __________; I saw this floating around facebook. I'm not really sure how it can't be fact.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:44 PM on May 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Apparently at one point the Doctor Who page on Wikipedia was pretty much completely wiped and the spoilers put on it.

It's been reverted back since.
posted by mephron at 8:46 PM on May 12, 2013


I only want it spoiled to the extent of someone telling me whether it sucks as badly as most of this demi-season has. Even the Gaiman one was only so-so. Strangely, the best and worst ones were both by Neil Cross, which is major Who'd a thunk it territory.


Oh, me too. I've been searching for spoilers SO MUCH because I don't care what the final "resolution" will be because it will be crap, and I want to be able to sit back and ignore the OMG DOOM nonsense, if possible.

But Gaiman's episode was actually very good and I finally found the Doctor and Clara's back-and-forth to be interesting and grin-worthy, which is an accomplishment. The bit where Clara and the woman commanding the military folks are looking at the "map" and the whole thing is played entirely straight is hilarious. "Drawbridge? Moat?" "Yes. But comical." "We'll go there."

This and the 70's ghost-hunting one has made this season pretty worthwhile, but I can barely remember the other episodes...
posted by BungaDunga at 8:58 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


gerryblog: "I've been looking for spoilers on this since the first reports and nothing has materialized. "

Egh. Some trolls were inserting them into the middle of random Wikipedia articles earlier today.

That's how I first learned of the leak. Fortunately, being Doctor Who, any kind of spoiler is going to require a ton of context to make sense, even if you're well-versed in the series.
posted by schmod at 9:04 PM on May 12, 2013


Oh well. I'm not sure it really matters.
posted by smidgen at 9:10 PM on May 12, 2013


Meanwhile, the BBC has released a prequel video to next week's finale: She Said, He Said.

The BBC finally discovered how to upload HD videos to YouTube! Took them long enough.

But that's actually a really goddamn good prequel. Understated, gorgeously shot, a bare minimum of catchphrases, and it felt real, even with the breaking the fourth wall.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:12 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why are they calling it a prequel? Looks like a flash forward to me. (A postquel?) Don't answer that... SPOILERS SWEETIE!
posted by Coaticass at 9:18 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why are they calling it a prequel?

To introduce the new companion, Jar Jar Binks?
posted by orrnyereg at 9:25 PM on May 12, 2013


Pirate Bay in 3...2...1...
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 9:38 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, is this like Downton Abby where 90% of the audience already torrented the entire season 9 months ago? I'm guessing yes since the DVDs are already being shipped.

If so, most of the people who would have lost their shit over spoilers have already seen it. Anyone left doesn't care enough the series to freak out if they are going to wait months and months for it.
posted by sideshow at 9:40 PM on May 12, 2013


If you try going to the Amy Pond or Rory Williams wikipedia pages, things still seem amiss. Spoilers there, but who knows how accurate or useful they are.
posted by LionIndex at 9:41 PM on May 12, 2013


So far, looking for spoilers is just diving down a rabbit hole of trollery and jumbled Wikipedia edits. There's not much to find that seems authoritative at all.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:53 PM on May 12, 2013


The spoilers are pretty easy to find, and sound completely believable in their dopeyness.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:55 PM on May 12, 2013


So, is this like Downton Abby where 90% of the audience already torrented the entire season 9 months ago? I'm guessing yes since the DVDs are already being shipped.

If so, most of the people who would have lost their shit over spoilers have already seen it. Anyone left doesn't care enough the series to freak out if they are going to wait months and months for it.


No actually, the UK episodes air only hours before the US ones. This supposed leaked episode hasn't even aired in the UK yet.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:55 PM on May 12, 2013


These are the most plausible, best-sourced spoilers I have seen so far.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:59 PM on May 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want the spoiler to be that his name is really "Myron Whovitch... but I shortened it because it sounded too Jewish and you know how those mashugina Time Lords are ..."
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 10:06 PM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Neil Gaiman gives Doctor Who's Cybermen what they need: a new legend
posted by homunculus at 10:16 PM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Skip to 0:38 to hear where guest star Daryl Hannah reveals the Doctor's name.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:17 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Doctor Who? Doctor Jew: The iconic sci-fi hero is the greatest Jewish character in the history of television
posted by homunculus at 10:17 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or maybe like "fans" are just a collection of normal human beings who form a very real community that one really can address respectfully as a group

You can address anything you like, but is that address useful? Doctor Who fans have only one fact in common, that they like the show. All it takes is one person to spoil it, and that person needn't even be a fan.
posted by JHarris at 10:38 PM on May 12, 2013


Welcome to the rest of the century, where "secrets" will become an increasingly quaint terminology.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 11:46 PM on May 12, 2013


I can't even begin to fathom how io9 identified a particular tree in the preview for the next episode. I mean, it's a tree! Who committed that tree to memory?

My best guess is that whoever wrote that article has seen that episode (or has an informant), and the scene's context acted as a guide.
posted by painquale at 12:28 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, "keeping secrets" is already being replaced by "spreading misinformation". Going back to "Dallas" filming multiple versions of the revelation of "Who Shot J.R."... I particularly liked the take they did in which J.R. shot J.R. (Larry Hagman was funnier in those ten seconds than in 5 seasons of 'I Dream of Jeannie'). But I digress.

This may be an appropriate place to address a bit of Whovian Trivia. The premiere episode of Doctor Who aired immediately after the end of BBC's coverage of JFK's funeral. The Beeb had pre-empted almost as much as the American networks did after the assassination and this new "sci-fi show for kids" was a deliberate choice to "return to normal programming". Anyway, the latest survey shows that more people believe in JFK Assassination conspiracies than any time since the '60s. So it's obvious that the Doctor Who Anniversary Special will show Daleks on the grassy knoll, right?
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:33 AM on May 13, 2013


The spoilers are pretty easy to find, and sound completely believable in their dopeyness.

I've been having trouble. I've seen about seven different ones, and they're all pretty underdeveloped.
posted by painquale at 12:40 AM on May 13, 2013


If the big reveal in the finale is the Doctors name, I will be happy. Not because I care in the slightest what the doctors name is, but because it means that moffat (and other writers for the least series, presumably) can finally quit it wuith whole Doctor? Doctor Who? nonsense.

We managed to forty odd years without really making that tedious joke more than once (i.e. an unearthly child, where it was a least warranted {Sub parenthases, there was also that computer in the tom baker episode that called him "Doctor Who" but that was a mistake}) and now every damn episode!! Gah!

He is not Doctor Who? In universe Doctor Who is not a thing at all. He is simply the doctor.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:27 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Soon he will be simply Doctor Bob.
posted by biffa at 2:48 AM on May 13, 2013


Soon he will be simply Doctor Bob.

Which, of course, is short for Doctor Kate.
posted by halcyonday at 3:09 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


So it's obvious that the Doctor Who Anniversary Special will show Daleks on the grassy knoll, right?

Clara's last name is Oswald...
posted by Rock Steady at 3:11 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


So it's obvious that the Doctor Who Anniversary Special will show Daleks on the grassy knoll, right?

Of course, the Silence are forgotten as soon as one turns away...
posted by jaduncan at 4:28 AM on May 13, 2013


Obviously, his name is Susan and he wants you to respect his life choices.
posted by petrilli at 4:36 AM on May 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


I've been having trouble. I've seen about seven different ones, and they're all pretty underdeveloped.

Yeah, that's what I meant upthread. I'd seen a bunch of people speaking authoritatively about what was going to happen, but no one who seems to have actually, truly seen the episode, and none who goes into specific, beat-by-beat detail or doesn't retreat into "I won't spoil [x]" stuff. When other episodes of popular shows have been leaked that's been easy enough to find.
posted by gerryblog at 4:46 AM on May 13, 2013


I find it completely implausible that there are people silly enough to pay more for Blu-ray than normal DVDs. Thus it's impossible that the anyone in the US has this supposed content. ;-)
posted by MikeWarot at 4:58 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been watching the show for decades and the questions, "Who is he? Why did he leave Gallifrey? What's he want?" are things the show HAS answered, in pretty much every episode for 50 years. These aren't burning questions or even worthwhile questions to me.

But that was back when the show was about a time-travelling guy in a box who helps save people and right wrongs when he can, and not a show about a show about a time-travelling guy in a box. I imagine next season's mystery will be, "Why is there always loud incidental music playing whenever The Doctor is around?"
posted by Legomancer at 5:04 AM on May 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


I imagine next season's mystery will be, "Why is there always loud incidental music playing whenever The Doctor is around?"

HOW ELSE WILL MURRAY GOLD TELL YOU WHAT IS HAPPENING
posted by Kitteh at 5:08 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


HOW ELSE WILL MURRAY GOLD TELL YOU WHAT IS HAPPENING

#DUR DUR-DUR DE DUR DUR DUR DUR
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:52 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


SPOILER - This is how it ends: The Doctor is really The Master.
posted by marienbad at 5:59 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


His name is Hugh, obviously.
posted by dng at 6:03 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Identity of the Doctor: (spoiler)
posted by lathrop at 6:10 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


What's unsettling about this current micro-season, is how it feels like I've somehow missed episodes. The Doctor/Clara relationship went directly from new-girl-with-lots-of-questions-before-she-agrees-to-get-in-the-box to we've-been-together-for-ages, at least as far as their banter and comfort goes.

She's become highly familiar with him seemingly overnight, and I keep thinking I've somehow slept through half the season and missed important character-development episodes.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:12 AM on May 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


I keep thinking I've somehow slept through half the season and missed important character-development episodes.

Are you on Tumblr?
posted by Legomancer at 6:29 AM on May 13, 2013


Even the Gaiman one was only so-so.

He has to write within the current confines of the show, which means every word and idea has to pass through a wall of shit and no matter how hard a writer tries to clean it off, at least the scent is still there. In this case of course, it's an entire galaxy or solar system eliminated because everything has to be huge, Huge, HUGE! in the new Who.

Why is there always loud incidental music playing whenever The Doctor is around?

No respect for the viewer. I can only assume that they feel the viewers are so fundamentally unfamiliar with narrative at all that they have to shove it up your ass. More of the huge, Huge, HUGE! nonsense.

I've somehow slept through half the season and missed important character-development episodes.

You cannot miss what was never there. The narrative arc is concentrated on a mystery with lots of hints, like a children's game. They've thoroughly embraced the children's show.
posted by juiceCake at 6:45 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is a live-fire mass polling exercise on the prisoner's dilemma, right?

Awesome.

*Gets popcorn, fires up Outpost Gallifrey.*
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:49 AM on May 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


He has to write within the current confines of the show, which means every word and idea has to pass through a wall of shit and no matter how hard a writer tries to clean it off, at least the scent is still there. In this case of course, it's an entire galaxy or solar system eliminated because everything has to be huge, Huge, HUGE! in the new Who.

You know, in the middle of an "everything has to be HUGE" season, making The Emperor Of The Star System a little person is a very Neil Gaiman thing to do. (And it's kinda cool to see Warwick Davis get a decent role without having to dress up as an Ewok or a robot or something!)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:52 AM on May 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


(Also, possibly Gaiman was a little thrown by there already being an enigmatic manic pixie dream girl in the cast, and thus not being able to introduce one of his own. Like putting a slightly different fuel mix in a finely-tuned race car before the driver starts the engine ...)
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:52 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Are you on Tumblr?

um...no. why?
posted by Thorzdad at 6:53 AM on May 13, 2013


Soon he will be simply Doctor Bob.

(spoiler)
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:01 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm really beginning to think this is a publicity stunt. So far the signal on this has been about 90% "OMG don't spoil me!", 5% "Where are the spoilers?" and 5% copypasta fan theories that have already been posted elsewhere. I LIKE spoilers. The tend to behave a certain way in the internet ecosystem but these so-called spoilers are no following that pattern.
posted by charred husk at 7:05 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't even begin to fathom how io9 identified a particular tree in the preview for the next episode. I mean, it's a tree! Who committed that tree to memory?


Related: I can't even begin to fathom how there's people in the world who didn't watch "The Five Doctors" approximately 300 times 25 ago.

A man is the sum of his memories. A Time Lord even more so.


What's particularly funny about this (I still believe to be) accidental leak and the Moffat/BBC reaction to it is that the end question/arc of EVERY SEASON (since 2005 at least) has been completely spoiled on Outpost Gallifrey/Gallifrey Base and probably many other places that are even worse for fans with little tolerance for bullshit. It's pretty much the reason I avoid places like that. (Well, that, and the chorus of 'the show completely sucks now compared to 12-18 months ago, even though I was complaining about it then too.')
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:08 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I read speculation elsewhere that the episode was originally written intended to be for the previous season, which makes an appealing amount of sense as explaining away some of the clumsy shoehorning-in feeling that the episode was rife with.

This season overall has convinced me even more that Doctor Who would benefit from changing showrunners every few seasons. Davies more than wore out his welcome for me, and Moffat's right there at the limit of it. I remain on record as being worried that Going Big BIG BIG BIG! all the time (if we don't solve the mystery, the Universe will EXPLODE! Again!) is now baked into the show's DNA, in Who's version of the "Roddenberry Box" that straitjacketed what writers could do with Star Trek.
posted by Drastic at 7:23 AM on May 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Random thoughts:

1. I'd be into a Paternoster spin-off, probably more than the original series or Torchwood which made "everyone is queer" more than a bit annoying.

2. Davis did steal the show, but I think that's often the case that the Doctor works best as a vehicle to introduce really interesting guests. Many of the best episodes involve the Doctor in a nice little horror bottle with human characters freaking out in characteristically human ways. (Midnight and the Library are two of my favorites.)

3. A nice little historical nod to The Turk, although it stretches belief a bit now that you can install software that can beat grandmasters on a smartphone.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:31 AM on May 13, 2013


Agreed on the "big big big" thing. Doctor drama IMNSHO works better when the stakes are smaller and more personal.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:33 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remain on record as being worried that Going Big BIG BIG BIG! all the time (if we don't solve the mystery, the Universe will EXPLODE! Again!) is now baked into the show's DNA

It seems to be the case. The thinking seems to be, if 1 - 5 people die that's sad, so if millions or billions of people die then it's millions more sadder/tragic. Why just have one planet explode and be destroyed when you can have it be way more tragic and have a solar system or galaxy explode and all the lives history within it be gone. Hence we have the mostly totally obliteration of the Time Lords until that can be over turned should a story need them again to aid in the logic of saving the universe yet again.
posted by juiceCake at 8:34 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Which is why "Logopolis" was such an important story to me as a kid. Not only does the Doctor actually die in it, but the Master's dicking around with the titular planet wipes out a large percentage of the universe, and it's treated (at least in the episode) like a Big Fucking Deal that they don't reset. Yes, eventually the universe as a whole is held hostage by the Master (rather hilariously) but there was actual damage.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:55 AM on May 13, 2013


Thorzdad, I was making a joke that animated GIFs and captioned screenshots on Tumblr are now what seems to pass for character development on the show. That and "prequels" and "webisodes" and other bullshit that happen between the shows, the latest of which, "She Said, He Said" is particularly gagworthy.

The "Clara Mystery" is a complete non-starter. There's nothing intriguing about this person, who is pretty much just a standard companion. Out of all the things the Doctor has seen in his life, I don't buy for a second that this is as captivating to him as the show makes it out to be. It also doesn't help that the constant shouting of, "SEE? SHE'S EVER SO MYSTERIOUS" only serves to underline how interesting she isn't.

There's also the inescapable fact that not a single "big mystery" that Moffat has presented to us has been revealed or resolved in anything approaching a satisfying way. Even if I could imagine someone really invested in the Clara thing, I can't imagine that person thinking there's going to be a solid payoff.

It is definitely time for Moffat to step down, but man, I don't know who should take it up. Maybe it's okay if the show takes another rest.
posted by Legomancer at 9:25 AM on May 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


The thinking seems to be, if 1 - 5 people die that's sad, so if millions or billions of people die then it's millions more sadder/tragic. Why just have one planet explode and be destroyed when you can have it be way more tragic and have a solar system or galaxy explode and all the lives history within it be gone.

This season doesn't seem to be leading up to something big big big, if that's the standard.
posted by painquale at 9:27 AM on May 13, 2013


A single death is a tragedy; a million voices crying out in terror before being suddenly silenced is a plot point in a science-fiction story.

Related: good time-travel is almost always personal, because it is only in one's personal life that one can have the confidence to right one's own mistakes. I can know what I should have done differently, but I can't really know how history should have gone differently. That's why the best time travel stories so often are about righting specific personal problems.

Neil Gaiman has a great story about the best advice a writer ever gave him, which came from Harlan Ellison. Moffat could stand to hear that advice.
posted by gauche at 10:01 AM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


possibly Gaiman was a little thrown by there already being an enigmatic manic pixie dream girl in the cast

I actually feel like Idris was more of a Mary Sue kind of situation from a geeked-out fanboy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:16 AM on May 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've found the latest series to be hit and miss. The stories that worked were actually the unexpected ones, whereas all the 'tentpole' ones came across as disappointing which suggested to me some of the ideas that work well with Dr Who:

- Get the right people for the cast, particularly the guests.
- Introduce an element of 'fan service' that's not going to alienate unfamiliar viewers.
- When using old enemies, introduce something new and interesting.

This is why 'Cold War' worked so well whereas 'Nightmare In Silver' (with the exception of Warwick Davis) didn't.

Also, anything with Vastra, Jenny and Strax wins every time.
posted by panboi at 10:34 AM on May 13, 2013


Not only does the Doctor actually die in it, but the Master's dicking around with the titular planet wipes out a large percentage of the universe, and it's treated (at least in the episode) like a Big Fucking Deal that they don't reset.

Now you see Logopolis isn't a favorite of mine for just that reason. (Disclaimer: it's been well over a decade since I've seen it, it hasn't come up yet in the tour of classic Who we've been taking.) It's very difficult to get across to the viewer the magnitude of that kind of thing, it's almost impossible to communicate it in a story where it matters in proper context, and while they don't reset it it also doesn't play a role in any later story so it might as well have not happened.

What's more, it reset the Master's character development. The Master has always been evil, and has tried taking over the universe and/or the Earth, getting absolute power, etc., the standard To Do list for any Who villain. But in the Pertwee years he was such a charming rogue, he genuinely admired the Doctor (and the Doctor, him!), and although he killed quite a few people certainly and hypnotized a good number too, he was also known to kindly explain his plans to his minions (and in the process the viewer at home) and treat them in almost a fatherly way. It helped to cement the idea that he was the opposite of the Doctor, right down to sort of having his own companions (although they never lasted out a serial).

According to the episode synopses on the BBC's website, the show runners were working towards giving the Master a kind of redemption where he'd sacrifice his own life to save the Doctors' to end his story arc. But then Roger Delgado (in my mind still the definitive Master) tragically died in a car crash, leaving a story arc unfinished in the process. Literally, the last we see of him he's just revealed to have partnered with the Daleks in sparking a war between the Earth and Dragonian empires, the Doctor and Jo escape in the TARDIS, but then go directly into a completely unrelated serial and that thread is left completely unresolved. I guess the Master won one, in the end.

Anyway, then the Master doesn't show up for several years while Tom Baker's brilliant and redefining take on the Doctor takes hold. Sarah Jane doesn't encounter him at all; he next turns up when the Doctor turns up, companionless, on Gallifrey, when the Master tries to finagle himself more regenerations. But from that point on (going by memory) the Master is a lot more generically evil, which is a tremendous shame as he had been possibly the most interesting of all the Doc's foes.
posted by JHarris at 10:37 AM on May 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


It is definitely time for Moffat to step down, but man, I don't know who should take it up.

I'll say this any and all times I am given the opportunity: The next showrunner should be Tony Lee, who wrote some AMAZING arcs for Doctor Who comics a few years ago.

Of course, probably still not going to happen, because he's said on Twitter a couple of times that he doesn't want to write for TV, that it's too different from what he does to feel comfortable. But still. Big-budget Who run by Tony Lee would be the best thing ever.
posted by jbickers at 10:49 AM on May 13, 2013


This is why 'Cold War' worked so well

I actually didn't like Cold War all that much; for some reason The Doctor seemed really, really dumb. That last scene, where the Doctor learns that the TARDIS is down at the other pole and sheepishly asks for a ride, sounded straight out of Charles in Charge or some corny 80's sitcom.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:50 AM on May 13, 2013


SNAPE KILLS DUMBLEDORE

Well, there goes my chance to recycle the "PRESIDENT SNOW KISSES DUMBLEDORE" joke that some mefite had posted not long ago.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:27 AM on May 13, 2013


You know you've spent too much time on the internet when you (mis)read the sentence "BBC America has shipped the ‘Doctor Who’ Season 7B Blu-Ray/DVD set early to those who pre-ordered it." and your first thought is "wait a minute, BBC America is writing Doctor Who fanfic? About/between Blu-Ray/DVD box sets and eager fans? Well, I suppose that there is weirder fanfic out there ..."
posted by Len at 12:02 PM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I suppose that there is weirder fanfic out there ..."

You really know you've spent too much time on the Internet when you read the above and instantly think of one such fanfic you've heard about that would qualify.

Jack Harkness/The Tenth Doctor's disembodied hand. And no, I didn't read it, I only know via hearsay. Thank God.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:15 PM on May 13, 2013


Empress – well, at least that one makes some kind of, erm ... anatomical sense. *bleaches mind's eye*
posted by Len at 12:20 PM on May 13, 2013


Len: "...and your first thought is "wait a minute, BBC America is writing Doctor Who fanfic? About/between Blu-Ray/DVD box sets and eager fans? Well, I suppose that there is weirder fanfic out there ..." "

"It's bigger on the insi-" Sorry, sorry.
posted by zarq at 12:24 PM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


zarq: "It's bigger on the insi-" Sorry, sorry.

Oh, man, if I'd have thought to go there ... I probably would have.
posted by Len at 12:26 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Len: " Oh, man, if I'd have thought to go there ... I probably would have"

Your "shipped" reference was brilliant. Wish I had thought of it. :)
posted by zarq at 12:31 PM on May 13, 2013


Without wishing to dispel the myth that my wit is, obviously, razor sharp, it was more a weird glitch of cognition than anything planned. I mean, I know arse all about fanfic (other than glimpses into its sociology as provided on MeFi), and I would normally associate "shipped" with "sent out", especially when it's shipped and not 'shipped, but for some reason – perhaps because it's Doctor Who and not, say, The Shield* – the fanfic meaning jumped into my head first. Weird, the way the brain works. 

*I bet Vic Mackey fanfic is out there. But someone else can go looking for it, because I won't.
posted by Len at 12:43 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually didn't like Cold War all that much; for some reason The Doctor seemed really, really dumb. That last scene, where the Doctor learns that the TARDIS is down at the other pole and sheepishly asks for a ride, sounded straight out of Charles in Charge or some corny 80's sitcom.

I have to admit, the clumsy removal of the TARDIS from the plot was a problem. But the appearance of both David Warner and Liam Cunningham made up for that. Plus, it showed you your actual Ice Warrior outside of the suit for the first time and played with the contrast between the 'honorable warrior' and the actual Cold War backdrop quite well. Like 'Dalek', Who becomes more interesting when you show classic monsters in a new light.
posted by panboi at 1:02 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The subject of Who both modern and past came up at a dinner party I was at and some people said that when they were young it frightened them, which it didn't for me and another friend. I got and mimicked an Ice Warrior chasing you (old Who version) and had I continued, it would have taken me about 10 minutes to travel from one end of the house to the other. I remember it was a Troughton episode I believe where a group of Ice Warriors were walking dead slow through foamy soap bubbles. A snail could run from those things. I can only assume the revised version can move a bit quicker.
posted by juiceCake at 1:14 PM on May 13, 2013


The monsters of the last few episodes (Cold War through Nightmare in Silver) have all been stellar. I really liked all them, both in concept and in their SFX execution.
posted by painquale at 2:04 PM on May 13, 2013


I was really looking forward to Nightmare in Silver but apart from the Cyberman redesign and Warwick Davis it was really limping. And honestly I'd really like to see some clunky Cybermen again, play up the whole body horror angle more. I'm not sure they should be sleek and fast moving, they're sort of lumbering unstoppable Frankenstien's Monster sort-of-things usually. Warwick Davis as Emperor of the Universe though, can we see that some more?

I could care less about the non-mystery of Clara, like River Song I think this is yet another thing that Moffat cares about more than we do. However if the show is finally going to acknowledge Original Who in a meaningful way, I may yet go mental with glee (I guess you youngin's call that "squeeing" or something) but New Who's track record with BIG SEASON FINALES has been pretty dire, for both Davies and Moffat.

As long as we're pretending Moffat is going to quit running his FAVORITE SHOW EVER, maybe someone with little-to-no Doctor Who experience would be nice. It needs a total change of pace, like the show used to get switching between Doctors/Show Runners. Switching from Space Jesus to Space Peter Pan started ok but it's grating now.
posted by davros42 at 4:04 PM on May 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


the whole body horror angle

Yeah, that's pretty much the only thing that made them actually rather scary. They're people who have been encased in metal and you can't get them back. All they did in this episode was kill people (boring) and implant them with controller bluetooth headsets that are also, for some reason, removable now.

Even if I could imagine someone really invested in the Clara thing, I can't imagine that person thinking there's going to be a solid payoff.

I could see Diana Wynne Jones getting it right, actually. She loved that sort of thing, and usually managed it. The Doctor is awfully close to a one-universe Chrestomanci anyway...
posted by BungaDunga at 4:58 PM on May 13, 2013


It's also interesting that the Doctor has moral qualms about killing large numbers of Daleks, but has no problem blowing up a planet of Cybermen.
posted by panboi at 5:28 PM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Obviously, his name will be Doctor Mr. Big, and the episode will end with him getting married to Sarah Jessica Parker.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:17 PM on May 13, 2013


It's also interesting that the Doctor has moral qualms about killing large numbers of Daleks

As I mentioned above we've been watching all the surviving original Who serials from the beginning, and as luck would have it a couple of weeks ago we hit one of THE all-time classics: Genesis of the Daleks, the one where the Time Lords sent still-new-to-the-role Tom Baker back with Sarah and Harry to Skaro to prevent the creation of the Daleks. It was the serial that gave us Davros, aka Space Hitler, still probably the greatest single villain of the series. (Second place I'd give to Omega, although he's only been used a couple of times he's a legitimately tragic figure, one who the Doctor found some empathy with.)

There's a place in Genesis of the Daleks where the Doctor has wired up the Dalek birthing room with explosives, but then frets and fidgets about blowing up a race in its infancy, committing genocide, in a way that seems kind of quaint in light of the modern show's events. Yes, genocide is bad against living thinking creatures, but how about creatures that, as was revealed by Davros, have had their genetics tinkered with so they would have no sense of remorse or empathy at all, becoming literal killing machines? In light of the Time Lords' eventual fate particularly it seems like a missed opportunity, although it should also be said that the bomb eventually went off anyway when a Dalek rolled over the trigger wires making the connection, Terry Nation's way of having the Daleks destroy themselves without the Doctor actually committing the fatal act, although at the end he was running back to do it himself anyway. It ended up not destroying them anyway, just slowing them down; it blocked off the only tunnel to the outside world that, in one of the more laughable bits of the show's plotting, the Doctor estimates will take the Daleks 1,000 years to get through.

Um. Anyway, my point is the Doctor has always had that kind of thing about wiping out the Daleks. Maybe he's sensible to lost merchandising revenue.
posted by JHarris at 8:11 PM on May 13, 2013


I think it would be awesome if it were revealed that the Doctor's true name is "Inspector Spacetime."
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:43 PM on May 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Er, didn't the 7th Doctor happily blow Skaro to smithereens? Hand of whatsit?
posted by BungaDunga at 9:57 PM on May 13, 2013


Different Doctors, different personalities, different moralities.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:09 AM on May 14, 2013


Doctor Minerva?
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:16 AM on May 14, 2013


Finally saw the Gaiman episode last night and here I am in the thread now. I quite liked this episode except for Smith mugging at himself, which was a bit too Robin Williams for my taste. He's really good, but there was a lot of it! Sure, I wish we'd seen more body horror--though not so much with children--but it made me jump at least once when I saw it coming.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm in the end of Who fandom that gets more enjoyment out of actually watching the show than from dissecting the spoilers and complaining about the episodes. I certainly hated some of the RTD stuff--Family of Blood, I'm looking at you, and the Genesis of the Daleks comparison is part of why--but I don't want to dwell on that. I want to love the good parts and ignore the bad parts.

Yeah, the end of the season is going to be a disappointment. Season finales always are. But this one might suck less than usual, and Moffat may not actually tell us the name of the Doctor or make it stick or whatever. Keep the expectations low and ignore the previews and just watch the thing. That's the ticket.
posted by immlass at 3:44 PM on May 15, 2013


io9: The Central Problem with Steven Moffat's Doctor Who
posted by zarq at 3:00 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man, CJA is hitting it out of the park today with her reviews. The star trek one was great, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:53 PM on May 16, 2013


I've seen lots of classic but very little of modern Who. zarq's link doesn't exactly make me want to remedy that situation.
posted by JHarris at 10:43 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Even though I think the article zarq linked to is spot on, I would still recommend watching the modern Who. Like you, I hadn't seen the new series (and really hadn't watched the classic series since the late 1980s), but my nieces really wanted to watch the show when they visited me this winter. They and I were instantly hooked from the start of the first new series. After three nights of total Doctor Who immersion they went home and I started watching at a more measured pace of 1-2 episodes most night. I'm now getting toward the end of series 6.

My take from the first 5+ series is that most individual episodes are highly entertaining. For my money there's a healthy mix of scary, silly, suspenseful and intense shows. Many of the shows move at the pace of the Bourne movies. Eccleston, Tennant and Smith were/are quite good at bringing out different aspects of the doctor's personality and there were a variety of companions each could play off of. As many have mentioned the big problem with the Davies-produced first four seasons is that Davies could not resist going big at every opportunity (why have ten Daleks when there could be a million, why have one companion when we can bring all of them back, etc.). I still found those episodes entertaining, but there was a level of ridiculousness to them that I could see would really bother people.

Moffat takes over with the fifth series and it's a much different show. He introduces a much stronger, series-long, story arc (Davies used story arcs but they did not impose themselves too much on individual episodes). Still plenty of good episodes but a couple of weak ones appear (Victory of the Daleks and Vampires of Venice) and the season-ending two-parter doesn't live up to what's promised by the story arc.

I'm most of the way through series 6 and it is a frustrating series. The story arc has become way more important than the episodes and Amy, who is central to a major story arc, is weirdly peripheral to many of the individual episodes. There's also lots of hand-wavy explanations and ad hoc backstories. It will be interesting to see how this wraps up.

Anyway, that's my long-winded way of recommending the modern series. There are several good seasons before it starts going off the rails.
posted by plastic_animals at 4:49 PM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man, CJA is hitting it out of the park today with her reviews. The star trek one was great, too.

You mean this one?
posted by homunculus at 11:29 AM on May 18, 2013


Well, I really enjoyed that (the episode that just finished). There isn't anything else on television doing anything as bonkers as that. This season has been remarkably consistent, I think. I've enjoyed all the episodes as they went by about the same (which hasn't really been true of previous series), and they've all been beautifully made. But I've not really needed to rewatch anything as I've done with previous big episodes.

But, as I said, there isn't anything else that can just scad off at a ridiculous tangent at a moment's notice the way that this series can, which is worth treasuring in itself. In a lot of ways, that episode was as strange as anything Twin Peaks or The Prisoner could throw at us, and I think it might have taken much of its audience with it.

The last thirty seconds or so are possibly hugely squee-worthy, and I'm looking forward hugely to seeing how they pay off in November. That said, Mr M's probably beaten fandom into a coma with his madness, so they might not be able to raise a squee.

I had fun, anyway.
posted by Grangousier at 12:01 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Grangousier: In a lot of ways, that episode was as strange as anything Twin Peaks or The Prisoner could throw at us

The Prisoner is, I think, a pretty apt reference point for the episode that just finished, in terms of the weirdness and the fucking around with identities (this week Number 2 is Leo McKern! The week after, Number 2 is ... oh, I forget; "Who is Number 1?" "You are (,) Number 6" ), and in terms of the overall "what in the fuck is going on?" quotient. I don't think it was entirely successful; I'm getting a bit tired of Moffat's constant "who is this mysterious and significant beautiful 20-something?" approach to companions, and at this point I'm thoroughly sick of River Fucking Song, but that last 30 seconds ... I'm hoping that means less of the hot infatuated companions and more of, well, summat else.

All that said, I've seen a few people on Twitter complain that the whole thing was basically incomprehensible to anyone who isn't a dyed-in-the-wool Whovian, and that the entire plot basically disregards one of the core Who audiences, namely young kids who love the drama and the excitement and the robots and the monsters and the fez-wearing, but by virtue of having been born in, say, 2003, don't have a clue who Sylvester McCoy is and why he matters.

There's also a related deus ex machina problem but it involves major spoilers, so I'll hold off for now.
posted by Len at 1:08 PM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I realized something the other day, for the first time, regarding a facet of classic Doctor Who.

When Sarah Jane gets sick of traveling and getting alternately shot at and hypnotized about a third of the way into Tom Baker's run, simultaneously the Doctor hears that he's being called back to Gallifrey to look into a situation developing there (which turns out to involve The Master), and he tells Sarah (conveniently) that he can't take her with him. Exactly why isn't said, but it is implied, heavily I realized, with Sarah and the Doctor's parting words to each other (quotes copied out of the BBC's episode guide):

Sarah Jane: "Don't forget me."
The Doctor : "Oh, Sarah... don't you forget me."

I didn't know it when I first saw it over a couple of decades ago because Georgia Public Television's showing of Doctor Who began with 3rd Doctor Jon Pertwee, but that was a reference to the end of 2nd Doctor's Troughton's run, when the Time Lords (in their first appearance other than by individual renegades like the Monk and the War Chief) forced the Doctor's regeneration (not yet called by that name), they also returned companions Jamie (echoing voice) SPACE SCOTTSMAN* and Zoe to their times and erased their memories of the Doctor in the process. If The Doctor had taken Sarah Jane to Gallifrey, it was more than likely that they would have done the same to her. By leaving Sarah behind, he was in fact preserving her experiences with the Doctor.

The point I'm making is, that's a wonderfully understated moment there, made possible because of continuity. And I think those moments are lost in the present age where what's impossible Wednesday happens five times before breakfast Thursday.
posted by JHarris at 1:38 PM on May 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


*Something else I realized is that, while Jamie is popular and terrific, he's not the most prominent Scott in Doctor Who history. That would be the Brigadier himself, who is prominently identified as Scottish, in what would be his last appearance for a long while in Terror of the Zygons. I'm surprised they passed up the chance to have the two be related.
posted by JHarris at 1:43 PM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Those last moments between the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane are some of the most touching moments in TV history.
posted by koeselitz at 4:02 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just saw the finale... wow. I have to say, I really enjoyed it.
posted by zarq at 6:11 PM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, after that reveal I am looking forward to the 50th anniversary episode.
posted by homunculus at 6:11 PM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a special plea - I am in Italy right now and the hostel didn't have a TV so can someone memail me what happened in that last 30 seconds that y'all are talking about?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:14 PM on May 18, 2013


Yeah, that finale was great. And not just because I always have been and always will be a huge sucker for Alex Kingston. I'm glad that aspects of the spoilers I read about and were worried about were wrong.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:27 PM on May 18, 2013


I just screamed loud enough to frighten my husband. Apparently I did a better job than he did of avoiding spoilers.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:33 PM on May 18, 2013


EmpressCallipygos: "I have a special plea - I am in Italy right now and the hostel didn't have a TV so can someone memail me what happened in that last 30 seconds that y'all are talking about?"

Done.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:37 PM on May 18, 2013


I wonder if the power of the Infinity Leaf could break the Time Lock on Gallifrey and free the Master.
posted by homunculus at 6:42 PM on May 18, 2013


The finale was the exclamation point on a point I've been kind of making about this entire back half of Series 7. As the (kinda) 7th season of a show, it's been okay, but it as the 50th anniversary of the phenomenon that is Doctor Who it's been very special.

And if this ends up being the last episode with River Song, I feel like they really (finally) sold me on how and why I should give a damn about her. (To be clear, I have never questioned the awesomeness that is Alex Kingston.) At any rate, the point where she was in her own timeline was really special, and I think worked really beautifully thematically with what was going on with the Doctor (and with Clara too I guess).

Finally (for now because I have a lot to say about this episode), I'm not sure if the 11th (?) Doctor is my favorite Doctor (and I don't really play favorites anyway), but I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that Matt Smith might be the "best actor" to play the part. (Granted, my opinion on "best acting" and $2 might buy you the latest episode on iTunes, but damn, does he sell it for me.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:59 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


And if this ends up being the last episode with River Song, I feel like they really (finally) sold me on how and why I should give a damn about her. (To be clear, I have never questioned the awesomeness that is Alex Kingston.) At any rate, the point where she was in her own timeline was really special, and I think worked really beautifully thematically with what was going on with the Doctor (and with Clara too I guess).

I'm hoping we get at least one last scene of them, which would be the Doctor taking her to Darillium (we never do find out how she knows his name), but I fear that the little snip we got in the shorts was all we'll get. Still, this would have been a satisfying ending.

They are so my OTP. Of many OTPs. No matter how stupid and mushy it's gotten in the middle, their chemistry and mutual wonderful acting just kills it for me.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:04 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


What the hell just happened I don't even
posted by miyabo at 7:16 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


And if this ends up being the last episode with River Song

That's what it felt like. I don't think the show ever did justice to that relationship and its potential, but I guess Moffat is more comfortable with the companions. Ultimately they made River a footnote to Amy and Rory. What a waste.
posted by homunculus at 8:09 PM on May 18, 2013


The Great Intelligence and his Victorian Chatterers seemed like an afterthought. Richard E. Grant's talents weren't put to much use.
posted by homunculus at 8:12 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ha...the finale was an almost Doctor-light episode. Who would have thunk.....
posted by asra at 8:59 PM on May 18, 2013


["The Name of the Doctor" spoilers ahead.]

homunculus: " Richard E. Grant's talents weren't put to much use."

His talents overall maybe. But the sound of his voice... well, let's just say if you think of Richard E. Grant as the alternate 9th Doctor and then consider what the Great Intelligence does to the Doctor's timeline... well, the fic making Scream of the Shalka fit into the canon of post-2005 Who pretty much writes itself.

Len: "All that said, I've seen a few people on Twitter complain that the whole thing was basically incomprehensible to anyone who isn't a dyed-in-the-wool Whovian, and that the entire plot basically disregards one of the core Who audiences, namely young kids who love the drama and the excitement and the robots and the monsters and the fez-wearing, but by virtue of having been born in, say, 2003, don't have a clue who Sylvester McCoy is and why he matters."

While it's possible that those who casually watch this series of the show may have been confused, I really think the plot, as it is, isn't that confusing or tied to the history of the show at all beyond a few clips -- except for "the Doctor has an important past" which isn't new. (To be, fair I am not at all a valid "control group", for this viewpoint and will accept that I'm wrong.)

But specifically, I do call foul on the idea that it somehow leaves the important core audience of young kids out. Kids, in my experience, aren't part of the "who's that? what's going on? I don't understand every bit of minutiae, so I can't enjoy this at all" brigade. When you're a kid, there's PLENTY about the world that you don't get, so not recognizing Sylvester McCoy just slides off your back as long, especially if somebody (as Clara does in her voiceover) lets you know that she's seeing the Doctor's past. In fact, I'd argue that, if you're going to show the type of run through of the past that they did, this was the ideal time -- there's been 3 Doctors in the last 8 years; there's probably never been a time where young kids were more aware that the Doctor isn't just the guy starting now.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:37 PM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Okay, one more thought before I turn in. The best thing about Clara (that is, the Clara that has been the Doctor's companion post-Christmas) is that it turns out that, despite the protestations of her voiceovers and Doctor's nicknaming, it turns out she's not a special Impossible Girl at all. She's the regular young woman who met the Doctor, travelled with him, and then made a sacrifice for him.

Yes, it's pretty similar to the same path that Rose took in her first season -- up to and including her role in snapping the Doctor out of a personal-loss-induced-funk AND a dead parent -- but though the character arc may be the same so far, it was revealed in such a way that it's only clear in hindsight. (And much like when Russell T. Davis made the decision not to have Rose be a "groomed from birth" special companion in the first season, another bullet was dodged to not have something like that be Clara's true origin as well.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:46 PM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have no idea what just happened.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:32 PM on May 18, 2013


Ha ha ha, the last thirty seconds were great! I am stoked!

Excellent episode overall. If only every finale had that much Strax.
posted by painquale at 1:50 AM on May 19, 2013


It seems like a perfect time to launch a Vastra/Jenny/Strax spinoff.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:25 AM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know which of them I like best! Jenny's puzzled reaction to the Doctor's "since I'm the only one who can see you..." line was priceless.

This episode really got me back in Moffett's corner. It was near perfect, and I'm excited about the show again. It's retroactively making me go back and reconsider what I've thought of the last three seasons. it's changing my timeline.

The best thing about Clara (that is, the Clara that has been the Doctor's companion post-Christmas) is that it turns out that, despite the protestations of her voiceovers and Doctor's nicknaming, it turns out she's not a special Impossible Girl at all. She's the regular young woman who met the Doctor, travelled with him, and then made a sacrifice for him.

Yes! I hate it when companions outsmart the Doctor. She wasn't preternaturally confident either... she was confused and worried most of the time. She won me over. The scene where the Doctor explains the significance of Trenzalore to her was especially good. I think the music was new? It didn't seem familiar to me. It was evocative but more understated than the usual bombast, and it really heightened the mood.

It's pretty funny to me that the Seventh-Doctor-needs-help scene they decided to use was the single dumbest cliffhanger in the history of the show.
posted by painquale at 9:29 AM on May 19, 2013


I remain on record as being worried that Going Big BIG BIG BIG! all the time (if we don't solve the mystery, the Universe will EXPLODE! Again!) is now baked into the show's DNA

Drastic predicted the future of this episode, what with the historical DNA like strand of the Doctor being a very convenient way to jump into a timeline and change the shape of the Universe. (and would that the plot had been to change it into a good show). Some interesting ideas but way too much entire Universe for me, but that is indeed the show now. Sacrifices aren't really sacrifices, etc. After being a fan for such a long time of at least the potential of the show I think I'll have to bow out and just bullshit my way through conversations about it in the family until another show runner comes along or until I hear there truly is no more River Song and actions have consequences, even if said consequences are unpleasant.

I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that Matt Smith might be the "best actor" to play the part.

Agreed. He stand behind Baker and Pertwee for me as a quintessential Doctor, it's just a shame he has the scripts he has.
posted by juiceCake at 12:01 PM on May 19, 2013


MCMikeNamara: While it's possible that those who casually watch this series of the show may have been confused, I really think the plot, as it is, isn't that confusing or tied to the history of the show at all beyond a few clips -- except for "the Doctor has an important past" which isn't new. (To be, fair I am not at all a valid "control group", for this viewpoint and will accept that I'm wrong.) [...] Kids, in my experience, aren't part of the "who's that? what's going on? I don't understand every bit of minutiae, so I can't enjoy this at all" brigade. When you're a kid, there's PLENTY about the world that you don't get, so not recognizing Sylvester McCoy just slides off your back as long, especially if somebody (as Clara does in her voiceover) lets you know that she's seeing the Doctor's past.

As per Charlie Jane Anders' criticisms on io9, linked upthread, Moffat's run, and this season in particular, has been all about the significance of the Doctor himself, and not what he can/does do in service of humanity. This entire episode (this entire season) has been Meta-Who, and the problem is not (just) that kids might not understand changing Doctors/regeneration, but the fact that show mythos/Doctor mythos has become the central driver of plot, rather than background information which supports/explains this or that action.

As for the deus ex machina thing I mentioned in my last comment, the idea that Clara has been there, watching and saving throughout the whole history of Who, as a result of the real, flesh-and-blood Clara throwing herself into the Doctor's timestream, feels like Moffat wanting to take possession of the entire history of the programme and claim it as his own, ascribing every deus ex machina in the show's history to his own brilliant bit of plotting invention. It's both an attempt to stake his claim on Who history – retroactively saying that every success the Doctor ever had is all down to him – and a horribly clumsy deus ex machina of his own, to justify shoddy plotting on the part of himself and his predecessors. It's bullshit straw-man plotting: create a situation in which the Doctor had never existed, show how bad that would be, and then pull the rabbit Doctor out of the hat, thus restoring the universe to its current state.

All of this is of a piece with the aforementioned problem of Moffat's Who being all about the character's background. Moffat treats Who history as a teleological process, rather than taking it as plain history. Everything, for Moffat, is a preview leading up to his own, inevitable (convoluted) conclusion, rather than a series of events in and of themselves; in short, the entire history of the programme exists just so Moffat can do what he's doing. It's facile, ridiculously arrogant, and a fuck you to everyone who's written the show for the past 50 years. It says "Ha! you thought you were writing a story of your own! More fool you. You were writing a preface to my great work!"

Of course, that's a pretty harsh/uncharitable take on Moffat, and I'm not sure how much of that is me being grumpy versus being right; it's more of a gut, instant reaction than a with-hindsight sober analysis. And all that said, I really enjoyed the episode, and while I might be grouching about the wider meta-aspects of it, I thought it was great, and I'm looking forward to where things go from here.
posted by Len at 12:01 PM on May 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


More CJA: Sarah Connor needs to tell Doctor Who there's no fate but what we make
posted by homunculus at 2:01 PM on May 19, 2013


I feel like the reveal in the last thirty seconds should, logically, have been Paul McGann, though...
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:41 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know. G.I. is probably the least charismatic/understood of the great antagonists for season closers, and other than being foiled twice, there wasn't the feel that events throughout the entire season were pushing The Doctor into the confrontation. There were too many plot devices being used mere minutes after the logic behind them were explained through expository monologues.

As much as I badmouth the end of series 4 for having Mickey, Jack, and Jackie wink at each other over the controls of the tardis, followed by a frantic reintroduction of The Master that felt like two episodes crammed into a few minutes before the credits, it at least felt semi-explicable given prior development of the Daleks, The Master, and more importantly the twin episodes of Midnight/Turn Left.

We've seen the companion as a figure of recursive self-prophesy with Rose, Donna, and River. Bad Wolf made a bit of twisted sense, and so did DoctorDonna following up from Turn Left. This time around I just can't quite connect the dots on either an emotional or storytelling level.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:59 PM on May 19, 2013


running order squabble fest: I feel like the reveal in the last thirty seconds should, logically, have been Paul McGann, though...

Oh, that would just be trolling. Though I'd have paid actual dollars for Richard E Grant, as The Great Intelligence, to bellow "DOCTOR, YOU TERRIBLE CUNT!" as he stepped into his timestream. Or for Strax to bark at him, in a high-pitched voice, "GETINTHEBACKOFTHETARDIS!"
posted by Len at 6:00 PM on May 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


It was nice to see Richard E. Grant but I have to say the Great Intelligence didn't think out his foiling of the Doctor and therefore the entire Universe at all well. I guess he has a limited sort of Great Intelligence that doesn't anticipate his actions being countered by others.
posted by juiceCake at 9:26 PM on May 19, 2013


As per Charlie Jane Anders' criticisms on io9, linked upthread, Moffat's run, and this season in particular, has been all about the significance of the Doctor himself, and not what he can/does do in service of humanity. This entire episode (this entire season) has been Meta-Who, and the problem is not (just) that kids might not understand changing Doctors/regeneration, but the fact that show mythos/Doctor mythos has become the central driver of plot, rather than background information which supports/explains this or that action.

On the other hand, if you happen to be the show-runner of a programme coming up to its 50th anniversary then that could well seem like the perfect time to get a bit introspective and meta. There'll be a plethora of efforts to dissect the show and its central character anyway, why not work some of that onto the screen in the show itself? It probably is the case that those are the themes that Moffat is interested in anyway and the timing is just coincidental but we'll see what happens once the 50th is done with.
posted by MUD at 5:28 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Len: All that said, I've seen a few people on Twitter complain that the whole thing was basically incomprehensible to anyone who isn't a dyed-in-the-wool Whovian, and that the entire plot basically disregards one of the core Who audiences, namely young kids who love the drama and the excitement and the robots and the monsters and the fez-wearing, but by virtue of having been born in, say, 2003, don't have a clue who Sylvester McCoy is and why he matters.

My daughter has never watched a whole Classic Who episode. We've tried via Netflix, but the pacing and the "ancient" special effects just make them unwatchable for her (and largely for me, too, though I do like watching episodes from the Hartnell/Troughton eras, as they make me feel like I am time traveling myself). That said, she understands very well the nature of the Doctor's regenerations and his past, especially the gaping hole that has been left in his history by the Time War that appears to have occurred in between the Classic Doctors and NuWho. She was just as excited about the last second reveal as I was (waaaall, maybe not "just as excited" -- I did audibly gasp), and she recognizes its significance.

I also want to say that I LOVED the finale, and I am so excited to see that the series is beginning to address a facet of the show that has been ignored basically since the beginning, and that is that for a show that has time travel baked into its DNA, there is little to no time travel in it! Sure, they use the TARDIS to get to the time/location of their next adventure, and there were some excellent little time travel hijinx in the Pandorica storyline, but up until this last half season we really didn't get much sense of the advantages (and disadvantages) that the Doctor's near-infinite command over time and space can provide. It will get ("willan on-get"?) confusing, but I think a little confusion will be worth it in exchange for the storytelling opportunities it will open up.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:44 AM on May 20, 2013


So this'll have some some spoilers in it.

I've found the whole season to be rather uneven; at the same time that I've loved all the callbacks to previous Doctors and the show's history ("Brave Heart, Clara"), I also think that the limits of the 45 minute format have been really highlighted, particularly in episodes like "Cold War" and "Nightmare in Silver" -- both of which would have really benefited from being 2 parters (I'll gladly trade in "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" and "The Power of Three" in exchange).

I did really like the finale, though. The Clara reveal was something of a bait-and-switch, but that's part of Moffatt's M.O., and I thought it worked well with the overarching theme of NuWho that the Doctor's companions humanize him and keep him (relatively) grounded, and the converse idea that while adventuring with the Doctor is life-changing and wonderful, it also takes a tremendous psychological and sometimes physical toll on the companions.

Yeah, Clara's never been as interesting of a character as Moffatt seems to think she is (cf. River Song), but Jenna Louise-Coleman has been lovely in her performances, making up for the weakness of the character somewhat (cf. Alex Kingston). The use of the INFINITY LEAF! as deus ex machina made a lot more sense here, also, as opposed to in 'Rings of Akhaten' (as someone in a previous thread mentioned, how is it that the infinite possibilities represented by a leaf somehow exceed the infinite possibilities of a series of 9 yr old girls that have been fed to Grandfather?). Had it not been already used in that episode, I think it would have been quite effective and moving in the finale.

I don't mind the MetaWho at all -- that is, as long as I never have to hear a character say, "Doctor WHO?" again -- and agree with MUD that now's the time to be Meta. As for the final twist, as I read somewhere else (perhaps upthread?) it would have been the ideal moment to bring in Paul McGann. It would have been a great treat for old school fans, and while McGann doesn't have the gravitas (or the name recognition, obviously) as Hurt, I think he can look and play sinister well enough to be a sort of "Dark Doctor," or whatever they're going for here. I always felt bad for McGann, who had the potential to be a great Doctor but was saddled with his only appearance being in that fucking terrible TV Movie (I'm not including the audio adventures, obviously). (Speaking of McGann -- did they ever have Clara running into him in any of those "flashbacks"? I don't recall seeing him). It could have been a nice way to tie some things up (or tease tying them up) -- go back to the Time War, show McGann's Doctor doing some horrible things that led to his death/regeneration into Eccleston, etc. That said, I understand why they didn't use him -- Hurt is a MUCH bigger name, and only those of us who are Classic Who fans would have known McGann anyways.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:28 AM on May 20, 2013


It could have been a nice way to tie some things up (or tease tying them up) -- go back to the Time War, show McGann's Doctor doing some horrible things that led to his death/regeneration into Eccleston, etc.

But that wouldn't have moved up the Doctor's regeneration timetable in quite the same way as this particular revelation. If Dr. Hurt is a hitherto unseen incarnation, then Eleven is actually the Twelfth of his line, on the cusp of his final regeneration.

Moffat must really really want to do the Valeyard arc.
posted by Iridic at 3:00 PM on May 20, 2013


(Speaking of McGann -- did they ever have Clara running into him in any of those "flashbacks"? I don't recall seeing him)

Definitely not one of the easier ones to spot on first viewing but he was included:

http://s16.postimg.org/ockb785ad/tumblr_mn0dqbg9_TK1qapfimo1_400.gif
posted by MUD at 3:21 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


then Eleven is actually the Twelfth of his line, on the cusp of his final regeneration

I seem to recall that RTD (or maybe Moffat?) said that the previous limit of 12 regenerations had basically been dropped, making the Doctor effectively immortal.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:08 PM on May 20, 2013


I thought that was RTD, and I thought he formulated it more as "eh, there are limits, but this is sci fi - we'll just make something up to make more regenerations possible." Which was basically RTD's approach to everything.
posted by koeselitz at 12:01 AM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Speaking of McGann -- did they ever have Clara running into him in any of those "flashbacks"?

The BBC doesn't own the footage, but some guy dressed as the Eighth Doctor ran by Clara in the cave at the end. (What was that place, incidentally? There was rubble everywhere and ruined buildings and bombs in the background. The remains of Gallifrey after the Time War?)

Paul McGann might well be my favorite Doctor. If anyone wants to test him out, I recommend listening to The Chimes of Midnight.

They shouldn't have had Clara say that she only saw eleven faces of the Doctor. She should be helping future incarnations of the Doctor too.

then Eleven is actually the Twelfth of his line, on the cusp of his final regeneration

Now that we know that Doctor number and regeneration number come apart, there's no reason to think that we only missed one regeneration. He might have taken the Doctor moniker late in life; when we met the First Doctor, he could have been on his fifth incarnation. (There might be something in the show that contradicts this, I guess.) Moffat and Davies have both suggested that they think the regeneration limit is a one-line fix; they don't take it seriously at all. Nor should they, I think.

The Valeyard is supposed to have arisen after the Doctor's twelfth regeneration. If the Doctor has already regenerated 12 times, the Valeyard could be in the Eleventh Doctor's past: he could be John Hurt's Doctor. I don't think the Hurt Doctor is the Valeyard though. They don't seem to act the same.
posted by painquale at 12:54 AM on May 21, 2013


God, if you think (as I do) that modern Who is needlessly convoluted, contradictory, whimsically plotted and terribly Messianic, judging from the Tardis Data Core Wiki it's nothing compared to the audio and prose stories. Prof. Farnsworth would have a stroke.

The Valeyard is something I remembered vaguely from GPTV's run of Doctor Who long ago as something I was wondering if they'd ever get around to addressing in the modern show.
posted by JHarris at 1:47 AM on May 21, 2013


The citation from the Peabody award presented to Doctor Who last night:

Seemingly immortal, 50-years-old and still running, this engaging, imaginative sci-fi/fantasy series is awarded an Institutional Peabody for evolving with technology and the times like nothing else in the known television universe.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:55 PM on May 21, 2013


Given what Clara saw in the TARDIS library in "Journey the Centre of the TARDIS" -- The History of the Time War and the Doctor's "name" in it -- and Doctor Hurt's statement that he didn't do what he did out of "choice" but "in the name of peace and sanity," I think the secret, the broken promise, will be something to do with the Doctor's actions in the Time War and how he ended it. So, he could end up being a much older version of McGann's Doctor. It would fit with the "survivor's guilt" angle that's been part of the Nu series.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:09 PM on May 21, 2013


Or maybe he's somewhere between McGann & Eccleston.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:19 PM on May 21, 2013


How Do We Like This River Song Timeline?
posted by Artw at 9:51 PM on May 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


JHarris:
The Valeyard is something I remembered vaguely from GPTV's run of Doctor Who long ago as something I was wondering if they'd ever get around to addressing in the modern show.
I've always loved the idea of the Valeyard and wished that he was used for more angst. There's been a lot of speculation that this is the direction that Moffat is taking the Doctor and the most recent episode almost clinches it. Not only is it made explicit that the Doctor goes bad at some point but the Valeyard is name checked as part of that future. My only concern is that he may be dragging out the "dark side of the Doctor" out a little too much. I kind of miss the days when he might as well have been a really smart space hobo.
posted by charred husk at 5:59 AM on May 22, 2013


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