Eruditorum Presscast: The Pilot

(20 comments)

Right! So apparently we're doing podcasts after all! Thanks to everyone who backed the Patreon and made this happen. That link there where it says "backed the Patreon" is a link to the Patreon, btw, and you can click it and give me even more money. 

Anyway, I'm joined this week by our very own Jane Campbell to talk about "The Pilot." That link is to the podcast. You know, if you were confused.

Comments

CJM 4 months ago

If the show does bring Susan back, I wouldn't expect for Carol Ann Ford to come back, but a flashback to her regeneration or some other brief scene with Carol Ann Ford would be a good way of moving on but trying to appease everyone (though that would be impossible)

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mr_mond 4 months ago

Very happy about the podcast being back.

It was interesting what Jane said about Moffat’s mystery boxes, i.e. that they tend to turn into puzzle boxes. That’s certainly the case sometimes (I think I got the feeling that the only answer to the question of “Who is River Song?” to make sense is “She’s Amy and Rory’s daughter” some time at the beginning of season 6), but I think that a move Moffat likes even more is revealing that the mystery box is empty and that it was never really the point. That was the case with the hybrid last season, with Clara in season 7 and, of course, with the literal mystery box of Pandorica back in season 5*. I think this is definitely a possibility, although the vault seems to conspicuous to just be empty. I think both of your suggestions for the contents are likely, and if it is a Shada analogue, surely it contains a certain returning character...?

* Now I’m thinking that Moffat alternates between empty mystery boxes in odd-numbered seasons and puzzle boxes in even-numbered ones.

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Kyle Edwards 4 months ago

What was Season 8's puzzle box?

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Chris Andersen 4 months ago

Danny Pink?

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mr_mond 4 months ago

I was thinking: Missy. Or you could argue tge whole afterlife.

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homunculette 4 months ago

Jane and Phil: the montage sequence with the Doctor's lecture isn't a flashback. It's an ellipsis – during the Doctor's lecture we see his first meeting with Bill as a tutor ("Am I on time?"), Bill's graded papers, and so on – it's spanning the time between Bill's first meeting with the Doctor (presumably near the start of term) and Christmas. That doesn't mean Jane's wrong about it being confusing, but it's at least not as bad of a decision as is made out on the podcast.

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Philip Sandifer 4 months ago

Yeah, I rewatched it after doing the podcast, and I stand by my original reading of it.

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Jane 4 months ago

See, I was so confused I thought it was a frame story.

It is an interesting sequence, though. It actually begins with Bill's opening eye, not the Doctor lecturing (as I'd wrongly remembered). And this one is really original -- it starts with an angle on Bill's left eye, and then she turns her head so we only see her right eye, opening. The motif of the Opening Eye indicates the growth of spiritual understanding, of self and other. Orchestral music comes in, we cut to the Doctor's lecture, and then we get flashes of Bill's life while the Doctor voices over.

We flit back and forth between a Bill clip and the lecture hall, and only as it unfolds does become apparent that the lecture scene is a single scene, whereas the Bill clips are throughout a single day, the day she started her tutelage under the Doctor... and the day she locked eyes with Heather.

I think the lecture is also from that day. There are two spots in the montage where we see columns of film strips, and these are all(ish) shots from the montage itself... and one of the strips has the lecture in it.

One part that tripped me up was when we cut from Pearl catching the book to her foster mom complaining about the stack of school papers that Pearl labors over at the kitchen table. The soundtrack has ceased, it seems like the montage is over... and then we jump right back into the lecture, and an extended scene of Pearl and Heather meeting at the bar.

And sure, it's all very clever with the Doctor talking about time all happening at once. The lecture is kind of an anchor, a hub, around which the rest of the day revolves. But it was still pretty confusing the first couple times through. That said, something like Ghost Light can be awfully confusing the first few times through it, and then it really seems to come to life (the "ghost light" of the mind), and I'm starting to feel that way about this montage now. (Not to say it's anywhere near Ghost Light in content or depth.) It's a fun thing, and sometimes rendering someone confused is entirely intentional. It's certainly given me the chance to let the abstract thoughts of the lecture sink in.

(The next opening eye is her left eye, nothing fancy, and then we're to realize we've jumped a season into the future, as Bill's now wearing a winter jacket that looks like a stack of chips. The montage is over.)

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AntonB 4 months ago

If we take the Doctor's lecture as part of the montage rather than a framing device it's clear that it's intention is to demonstrate the passing of time using the themes from the lecture as it's structure. I found it (apart from the Dalek scene) one of the most effective parts of the episode.
The opening scene is really lovely. The perfectly symmetrical framing of the shot of the Doctor's study. The mirroring of the right and left sides of the shot with the two doors. One for Nardole and Bill one for the Doctor.
No chair agenda? What about the empty spinning chair left by the Doctor as he runs toward the puddle? There are numerous shots of the Doctor and Bill each on their own chairs facing (mirroring) each other across the desk.
Surely it's Susan in the vault. It's a cocoon.

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prandeamus 4 months ago

"What about the empty spinning chair left by the Doctor as he runs toward the puddle?"

I just read this as a semi-comic trope to indicate "while Bill was talking he suddenly ran to the puddle". Mind you the timing doesn't quite work: Bill would have to have run extremely fast to the college front door to catch up with the Doctor as fast as she does.

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prandeamus 4 months ago

One minor quibble (or am I just looking for deliberate continuity errors like the missing Jacket in Smith's first season?) is that the Doctor works in historic building and yet the dialog with Bill/Heather leading up to the discovery is the puddle is shot in a grubby red-brick university. Of course, no doubt the dreaming spires of Oxbridge have some ghastly 60's blocks just out of view of the nice bits.

Landing pods of the ship reminded me of the Dalek shuttle in Remembrance of the Daleks.

The hexagon motif on the redbrick building caught my eye but I'm just getting obsessive now.

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Sleepyscholar 3 months, 4 weeks ago

This university is clearly flagged as being in Bristol. Perfectly possible to have old buildings and 60s buildings side by side.

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AuntyJack 4 months ago

Any chance we can contribute to your Patreon for transcripts of the podcasts?
I'm one of a minority who has neither the time or the inclination to listen to podcasts.

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Philip Sandifer 4 months ago

As a fellow member of said minority, my sympathies. Alas, I can't see a way to make transcripts cost/time effective.

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CC0 4 months ago

My two cents bout Twelve's regeneration: what if Marshall's casting really is a smokescreen, but instead of showing up and immediately regenerating for nothing he will be (brace yourselves) playing the Valeyard? Like some rogue regeneration that breaks loose from the cycle, with a new regeneration just following?

About Susan: bring in Carole Ann-Ford. Pretty please.

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CC0 4 months ago

Also, "What, in the end, are any of us looking for? We're looking for someone who's looking for us." is just beautiful.

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ScarvesandCelery 4 months ago

100% certain the sequence Jane feels was unclear was all time passing between the Doctor taking on Bill as a student and their Christmas celebrations, and not a flashback. And I've seen no one else interpret it any other way, so I'm not convinced by the argument it was unclear (though I wouldn't want to devalue your personal feeling that it was).

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BuckTwenty 4 months ago

Glad these are back! The ones you did for the 2014 series were actually how I found the site, which led to me reading the blog and buying the books, which led to me watching the entire classic series, now I'm finally a Patreon, etc. Enjoyed this episode as usual. Looking forward to next week!

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mr_mond 4 months ago

Could anyone tell me who's going to be the guest next week? I can't make it out.

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The Flan in the High Castle 3 months, 4 weeks ago

Anyone have any thoughts on the episode's mirroring of the Doctor and Bill's families? It seems significant that we've got three characters who appear only via photography: Susan, River, and Bill's mother. All women, all close relatives of the heroes, all (effectively) dead, and – this is the thing I keep thinking about – all manifesting as active voices in the heads of their loved ones. The version of Bill's mum that lives in her head has a saying which Bill applies to the Doctor, just as the versions of Susan and River in the Doctor's head urge him to offer Bill a place in the TARDIS.

I can't think of any diegetic way to tie all this together, but it does seem a bit suspicious, doesn't it? Like there's something hiding in plain sight. If "The Pilot" were my first Doctor Who episode, I'd be 90% sure we were in for a revelation that the Doctor is Bill's manipulative biological father, a bit like the one that comes late in a certain Neil Gaiman work. That doesn't actually seem too likely, but there's clearly *some* sort of twist in the offing. None of the upcoming episodes seem like they could accommodate a potential "Mother's Day" storyline, and the woman in those pictures isn't in the announced cast, so any reveal will probably not lean on the mother dramatically (ie, she's definitely not a past companion whose death the Doctor is responsible for or anything).

OK, here's my wild and inevitably wrong prediction: that woman isn't Bill's mother. She's just a model hired by the Doctor, and the photographs are a hoax to prevent Bill from digging too deeply into her own past, because she's not really from Earth – she's Susan Foreman, regenerated and placed under a chameleon arch. The end-of-series twist will be that Moffat solved the Problem of Susan twelve episodes ago.

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