The Caretaker Review

(204 comments)


So, since it seems to be the standard opening rhythm for these things, twenty minutes past transmission we’re at 59.7% at 8-10, with 8 being the most popular pick at 29.25%. Thread titles include "this years arc sucks," "A thing! again," "Clara's skirt!," and "Peter C was on fire tonight," which, really, seems so utterly standard it's hard to draw any conclusions. Twitter seems positive. For my part, I liked this a lot, although it definitely took the second viewing for me to really grok it, because I was busy being surprised by its tone on the first pass. I suspect it will watch much more smoothly to people who weren’t foolish (or fannish) enough to have expectations, however.

Ah, yes. Expectations. You know what, let’s take stock of where we are. First episode of autumn proper, halfway point of the season. It’s a good time for taking stock. 

In the UK, it’s well past night-time, to the point where this review is posting after people are largely gone to bed. Here, it’s a bit before sunset. My wife’s just left for her last night of work on the Oncology floor, before she transfers to a different floor to broaden her experience a bit. I’m up for a while yet, planning on writing some of the V for Vendetta chapter after this, after I walk the dog and grab some dinner. The episode’s not on for another three or four hours yet, so this is going to go out into the void to an extent, really playing only to the Americans who pirate it from the UK streams and late night Brits.

Based on the most current news, the program is on a ratings hot streak like it hasn’t seen in a while. All four episodes with final ratings have been in the top ten for the week, and there’s some high-powered competition on the air. This week is particularly dicey for ratings obsessives, as the BBC is confident enough to throw it up against The X-Factor. To be honest, expect a panic tomorrow when people start reporting the overnights, although it’s almost certainly going to stabilize out, whether through time-shifting (which always adds a healthy couple million to Doctor Who’s ratings) or through iPlayer (which doesn’t get counted yet in ratings, but adds another million or so).

There’s several ways in which the program feels like it’s genuinely in a different place than it was a year ago. This is worth noting explicitly in an episode that is, as much as anything, about reaffirming the end of the Eleventh Doctor era. This is the last episode of the half of the season where it was relatively easy to guess what you were going to get. It’s not that it’s been devoid of surprises - hello Listen - but the surprises have generally been within episodes. Every week after Deep Breath, you basically knew what you were going to get if you were paying attention to writers, episode titles, the Doctor Who Magazine descriptions, or, let’s be honest, the script and screener leaks, which vented an awful lot of spoilers into the atmosphere.

Which is to say that the central gamble of The Caretaker, which is that it’s not the remake of The Lodger that it initially pretends it’s going to be, is well-timed. As I said, this is an episode about reaffirming that the Eleventh Doctor era is over. It feels very conscious, as a transition point between Act One and Act Two of Season Eight, like it’s meant to relaunch the series.

It’s worth noting that Moffat did something very much like this with Matt Smith. Over-sized opening episode, a series of episodes that revisited past approaches to the show, all by Moffat save for one entrusted to Gatiss, and then an episode that serves as a jumping on point in which the companion’s boyfriend joins in the TARDIS fun, although that’s seemingly already being subverted as part of this transition into a string of six episodes we really don’t know a ton about. (Spoilers based only on information made public: scary space thing, scary mummy thing, weird-sounding one, really weird-sounding one, finale involving UNIT, Missy, and some Cybermen, and then Nick Frost at Christmas, possibly without Coleman. That’s a lot less than we could immediately infer from something like “Gareth Roberts is writing an episode called The Caretaker in which the Doctor takes a job as the caretaker at Coal Hill School.” We know exactly what to expect from that, much like we did from “Mark Gatiss does the Doctor meets Robin Hood, and it’s called Robot of Sherwood” or “Steve Thompson. Time Heist. It’s a bank robbery thing.” 

But that’s how new Doctors work. You dress them in the trappings of what went before and let them steadily replace anything they don’t like. And what Gareth Roberts does is write an episode that confidently assumes that the program isn’t going to feel like it did under Matt Smith. And it doesn’t, but let’s put off why for a moment and start with Roberts. And I do suspect this is mostly Roberts - I think Moffat was probably mostly just nipping and tucking at the character bits for Danny. There’s almost two Dannys in the story, although this is largely deliberate - I think there’s a real extent to which Moffat is keeping the character to himself, and that’s worth talking about too.

But let’s note the first half of the episode first, for somewhat obvious reasons. It, at least, is a fairly straight remake of The Lodger. Except, and this is key, everything is played ever so slightly off. The Lodger was a series of jokes about how ridiculous the Doctor was in a number of situations. The Caretaker is a series of jokes about Clara’s desperate attempts to keep the Doctor from intruding on her normal life. It’s mainly cringe comedy, which is a perfectly viable strain and still fairly in vogue. (I’m not quite sure about the white Doctor assuming the black man can only be a P.E. teacher, though. I know it’s written and played as being entirely about how Danny is a soldier, and there’s a satisfying return to the consciously diverse casting in this story, and I think every given contributor ends up being blameless, but I still worry about the optics on that. Let me put it this way - it’s a scene where you end up accurately imagining the #moffat hate tag on Tumblr in real time, as it plays.) But there’s a subtle change to how it plays out, with the Doctor being a secondary character in a comedy about Clara. 

But more importantly, this is only the first half of the episode. At the halfway point is a conscious change to a very different sort of story - one that’s basically a three-hander remake of An Unearthly Child in which Susan and Barbara’s roles are combined. I suspect this second part is the part on which Moffat earned his co-writing credit, although the only two scenes I’m confident were mostly him are the TARDIS scene where Danny accuses the Doctor of being an aristocratic officer, and the couch scene where Danny makes Clara promise to tell him if the Doctor ever pushes her too far. (I certainly don’t think this was a full Moffat-penned redraft in the way that I suspect Into the Dalek and Time Heist were.) 

Here we further develop what is clearly a major theme of this season in the Doctor’s dislike of soldiers, although as mentioned, Danny complicates that a lot by pointing out that the Doctor is an officer, which is, you know, pretty much fair all told. The final scene is deft, using the shared experiences of Clara and Danny as having gone through psychologically intense experiences under amazing and brilliant officers. 

But much of the credit for why this works is that Roberts has spun a spot-on adventure in which these plot points can be resolved. The trick to a Doctor Who story about relationships is that everybody has to solve their interpersonal problems by blowing up aliens. Roberts is more than capable of setting that up. Ultimately, the second half of this story is about Danny figuring out what it’s like to live in a Doctor Who story. Pointedly, he never does that badly. His initial guess that the Doctor is Clara’s space-dad was, notably, more or less the exact right guess the last time this sort of thing happened in Coal Hill School. His plan that the authorities should probably be contacted is sensible, if wrong-headed in this instance. He does well throughout, in other words - it’s just that he and the Doctor don’t get on. This is all well-structured, effective stuff into which the big emotional scenes can be inserted (and I include the “Danny and Clara at the window” scene, which I’m guessing Roberts as the primary author of). Roberts gets how this is played, with the Doctor as a slightly peripheral figure. His mixture of oblivious and clever is well-done. 

But as I said, the focus is really on what’s different. The new visual style, with longer scenes and shots, is very much in play here. Watch how many dialogue scenes are done as long takes that shift the camera focus among the actors, as opposed to done with shot-reverse-shot cutting. Doctor Who is trying not to look like everything else on screen again, in a satisfying way. 

And, of course, there’s Capaldi. In the lead-up to the season there was an absurd rumor that went around suggesting that Capaldi and Moffat were at loggerheads, or that Capaldi secretly hated the direction of the show and was trying to sabotage Moffat to save it, or that Moffat was on the way out and being replaced by Anthony Horowitz, or whatever. It was all very silly. But one increasingly suspects that there was a grain of truth in it, albeit one based on completely misunderstanding how collaboration works.

It’s not a terribly controversial statement to point out that Moffat is a very cerebral writer, whose work assumes a genre-aware and actively analytical reader. Not what you’d call surprising from someone with a graduate degree in English who taught for a few years before becoming a writer. But in Capaldi he has a very similar figure who’s an actor. Capaldi has directed, is very much a methodical, classical actor, and has a similar background to Moffat’s, including a degree of obsessiveness over Doctor Who.

I talked two weeks ago about how there’s a way in which Capaldi is Pertweeesque, in that he’s confident in simply playing the Doctor by picking an approach to the character for a given scene and just building it up out of the sorts of things Capaldi likes to do as an actor. A corollary to this is that he’s very much Troughtonesque, in that he dictates the tone of a scene by deciding how he’ll pitch his performance and requiring everyone else to respond to that, even if he doesn’t have a ton to do in the scene. (Watch the scene at the halfway point where the plot temporarily wraps up for a stellar example, particularly his “you can explain him to me,” which he delivers stunningly well. I quite like the decision to include all the emotional investment of a romance between the Doctor and Clara and none of the actual romance, and that line pays that approach off beautifully.) Such that in a real sense, every script gets one final rewrite from Capaldi, who redoes it via his performance.

And Capaldi does use this to pitch the entire thing slightly off kilter. He spends the first half, even when he does have comedic scenes, mostly underplaying them, with occasional bursts of excess, doled out carefully, so that they’re surprising and at times unsettling. It’s a good approach that so far has done a good job of making the show feel fresh and like it still can find new ways of doing its old tricks. Which, after fifty-one years, one sort of suspects can actually be done more or less continuously, but the fact that it’s possible doesn’t make it easy.

So there is a sort of tension between writer and actor, but I daresay that’s the point. That’s how collaboration works. I have zero doubt it’s why Moffat hired Capaldi - to get an actor who would do interesting things with his material and push him to write interesting things to do. Which is why the little touches of Smith - the River mention, the Lodger structure, Adrian, the frost fares - are all so apropos. Because they feel as much like a nod to what the show used to do as the tacit references to An Unearthly Child do. 

It’s fresh and exciting, and I can’t wait to see what the next chunk of episodes are like. I expect a lot more like this - ones where the first watch is in many ways spent being surprised as to what sort of show it is. There’s a fair case to be made that surprising the audience with what show it is in a given week is what Doctor Who is for. I think this may be my favorite season ever. 
  • Love, love, love Courtney. “Disruptive influence.” “NICE TO MEET YOU!” That’s the Doctor in a six word scene. Really thrilled she’s back next week. I think taking her on a scary episode is a really interesting move.
  • It’s not fair to say that Danny is a remake of John from Sherlock, but you can see the way that Moffat’s previous experience in fleshing out a character who’s defined in part by being a soldier informs the ways in which he’s sketching Danny quickly. He knows how to give this type of character a lot of depth very quickly.
  • Allow me to in no way be the first to be sad that there’s no Ian Chesterton cameo. Still, it’s surely not the last visit to Coal Hill. Although I rather like the way the past is nodded to here, with a mention that there’s been rather a lot of artron energy through Coal Hill over the years.
  • Rankings!

  1. Listen
  2. Deep Breath
  3. The Caretaker
  4. Time Heist
  5. Into the Dalek
  6. Robot of Sherwood

Comments

arcbeatle 2 years, 12 months ago

Adam already jumped on it, but if he falls through I can do it:

arcbeatle at yahoo dot com if it comes to i!

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Lewis Christian 2 years, 12 months ago

It's a shame Steven Moffat has "co-written" this.

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Tymothi 2 years, 12 months ago

A school-based episode seems like a good place to ask this again: Phil, have you seen the 2011 Joseph Kahn movie Detention? It's a genre mashup that includes, amongst many other things, a time travel via pop music montage scene, a ursine TARDIS stand-in, and more meta than you can shake a stick at. I'm curious to know what you think of it.

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Philip Sandifer 2 years, 12 months ago

I fear that I have not.

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Philip Sandifer 2 years, 12 months ago

Thanks to both you and Adam. May e-mail you, but my copy-editor also e-mailed to volunteer, and for a variety of obvious reasons, that's somewhat easier and more straightforward.

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Matthew Blanchette 2 years, 12 months ago

No, but it's a shame a certain Mr. Chesterton probably won't appear in this.

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Tymothi 2 years, 12 months ago

I do highly recommend it, and it's on Netflix streaming now, if you have that. It's brash, loud, initially off-putting, funny, and thematically juicy. It takes the "everyone is the star of their own movie" idea and just runs with it.

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jonathan inge 2 years, 12 months ago

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Melissa Robertson 2 years, 12 months ago

Anyone know any good streaming links for BBC1? I don't have cable, and I need to see it live today because I have a busy evening and a busy Sunday. I know a couple, but they all lag a lot because so many people are on them.

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Philip Sandifer 2 years, 12 months ago

I wish you luck finding something, but I'm afraid I'm not comfortable with directions on how to effectively pirate taking place on my blog.

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Lewis Christian 2 years, 12 months ago

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Lewis Christian 2 years, 12 months ago

I'm glad, to be honest.

If Ian were ever to reappear, I'd hope the episode would focus on him. (In a similar manner to how Sarah Jane took the focus of School Reunion.)

Ian's rich with potential, and an exploration of him and the Doctor over 45mins would be great. He never heard of "Time Lords", of "Gallifrey", of Cybermen, of regeneration even. And our Doctor is now many incarnations away from the man Ian once knew. There's so much story potential there, in my view, and this episode seems set on Clara/Danny as its primary focus. I feel throwing Ian into this particular mix would result in a small cameo just for the 'squee factor', IMO.

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heroesandrivals 2 years, 12 months ago

Part of the problem with Chesterton appearing is that over in SJA Moffat canonized the idea that Steven and Barbra got de-aged. (And are working at Cambridge, not Coal Hill.)
If they don't have at least a PICTURE of Mister Chesterton on the wall though I'm gonna be properly steamed.

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Melissa Robertson 2 years, 12 months ago

I get it. Thanks anyway.

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Pen Name Pending 2 years, 12 months ago

What necessitates co-authorship on this series? It's rarely happened before, and in the cases of "Into the Dalek" and now apparently this episode, it wasn't really announced beforehand that these episodes were a collaboration. I understand (and almost expect) that Moffat might do a rewrite, but RTD reportedly did that all the time and he wasn't credited nearly as often. Hmmm

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jonathan inge 2 years, 12 months ago

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Scurra 2 years, 12 months ago

I have to admit that I am liking the episode titles this season very much - only Time Heist has really let the side down. This one might be the best so far though, given the levels on which it works

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jonathan inge 2 years, 12 months ago

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ScarvesandCelery 2 years, 12 months ago

Excellent episode - very funny, full of some excellent character moments. I especially loved Danny Calling out the Doctor on his privileged background. There seems to be a thread running with this since Robin Hood linked his Background to the Doctor's in 'Robot of Sherwood', with Danny calling out the more negative aspect of the Doctor's roots here. More Gareth Roberts writing for Doctor Who, please. Actually, am I the only one who thinks he could be a good future showrunner?
Oh, and I'm pulling at straws here, but is there anything to be made of the fact that the Skovotz Blitzer was the third robotic antagonist of the Season?

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Bennett 2 years, 12 months ago

If anything suggests to me that this is a case of a union or BBC policy decision necessitating a change in how things are done, it's that all of the post-production scripts credited single writers only (a fact we only know courtesy of the leak we are now thankfully in the clear from). Such a last minute change is surely more likely to come from external pressure than internal whim.

Just my own dubious guesswork and fanciful speculation, of course. All those who are actually privy to this kind of behind-the-scenes information would also have the professional tact not to gossip about it.

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Nick Smale 2 years, 12 months ago

I'm guessing it reflects Moffat's personal oversight of the 'Danny arc'.

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ScarvesandCelery 2 years, 12 months ago

I did feel like Danny was being a little possessive when he said he'd to leave Clara if she wouldn't let him help her. It felt a little like he didn't like the idea that she can take care of herself. At least, that's how I guess it could be seen as misogynistic - it is also a sweet scene where he offers her support because he can empathize with the way she relates to the Doctor. It really depends where the writers take that plot thread.

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Daibhid C 2 years, 12 months ago

Immediate thoughts:

1) The bit about the Doctor assuming Clara's ideal man was the professional Matt Smith lookalike was cute, but could have done with being pointed out in dialogue a bit less.

2) Was the Doctor's inability to comprehend that a former soldier might become a maths teacher a dig at criticism of Mardwyn Undead, or is that me reading stuff into it? Because if it is, I'm not sure it works. The criticism of Mardwyn isn't "a soldier can't be a maths teacher", it's "this particular career soldier, who we know well, has no particular reason to suddenly become a maths teacher".

3) Courtney is ... well, she kind of feels like they had another story planned for Angie and didn't want to waste it, so they introduced Almost Angie. (To go with my sister's characterisation of Clara as Almost Amy.) And I found Angie pretty annoying in the first place.

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Lewis Christian 2 years, 12 months ago

Moffat never did SJA. And the line can be interpretative in different ways anyway. I always took Sarah saying "rumour has it, they haven't aged" as kind of poetic, just in the same way people say "you don't look a day over X".

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Lewis Christian 2 years, 12 months ago

"Was the Doctor's inability to comprehend that a former soldier might become a maths teacher a dig at criticism of Mardwyn Undead"

Someone drew the parallel (used to be in the army, now a maths teacher) up on Twitter and Gareth Roberts replied saying he didn't even realise whilst writing.

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Lewis Christian 2 years, 12 months ago

Okay, hands up, I really loved that. Also loved the school "motto" -- "Great spirit of adventure." Lovely touch.

...apart from the very forced "hating soldier" stuff and the scene at the end - that 'arc'/idea isn't really working for me at the moment.

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Richard Pugree 2 years, 12 months ago

Yes, that scene was pretty uncomfortable. As you say, it could go either way really. But something Moffat said on Extra was concerning, if I heard him right. I think it was something along the lines of: 'the Doctor shows off in front of girls and doesn't like it when there are other men around who might get their attention. He has to be the alpha male'.

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ScarvesandCelery 2 years, 12 months ago

I've just seen that clip, and sort of agree, though I think Moffat may have a point - think about the difference between the third Doctor's relationships with Jo and the Brigadier, or the difference between the way the Fourth Doctor treats Sarah Jane and Harry. It's never as explicit as it is here, but it is there. And Moffat does add that "it's not straightforward jealousy"

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ScarvesandCelery 2 years, 12 months ago

Also, my Rankings:

Listen
Deep Breath/ The Caretaker
Deep Breath/ The Caretaker
Into the Dalek
Robot of Sherwood
Time Heist

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Anton B 2 years, 12 months ago

Oooh I missed the motto. That's a much better call out than a William Russel cameo. I'll watch out for it on my second viewing. Thinking about it, every episode this series has demanded a second viewing but this is the first one where I'm actually looking forward to it.

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macrogers 2 years, 12 months ago

Race is kinda huge in this episode, to the point where I’m really wondering how it’s gonna play for US viewers. (I don’t have much knowledge of Brit race representations/anxieties.) You’ve got the Doctor refusing to believe a black man can be anything other than a PE teacher (which is a whole other issue in itself), the Doctor telling a black teen girl to go to her “shoplifting” class, and a white police officer hassling two black teens. My guess from a production standpoint this is Roberts & Moffat writing the ep the same way they would if all the actors were white, and then on the casting end laudably working for more diversity on the show. And then having these things come together in perhaps not the most careful, thoughtful manner. Again, as I say, this stuff may resonate completely differently in the UK, and I’m nothing but glad to see more black principal characters on Doctor Who, but as the show gets increasingly international it’s going to run up against the race triggers of other nations.

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macrogers 2 years, 12 months ago

Also, I really liked this one. Maybe i should've led with that?

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Anton B 2 years, 12 months ago

Wow! What a series this is turning out to be. I really enjoyed the pacing and the dialogue in this one. Demands to be watched again before I comment in depth. One observation- The Doctor's attitude to Clara' s 'boyfriend mistake' is interesting. He approves of her apparantly choosing a Matt Smith lookalike but is appalled when she seems to have chosen someone closer to the War Doctor, the soldier persona he himself had to reject. He wants Clara to be like him. Could he be training her for high office? Is Clara destined to leave Coal Hill for the Time Lord Academy? If so, I wonder if the anti-soldier thing is an ingrained Time Lord requirement rather than just a quirky phobia?

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Spacewarp 2 years, 12 months ago

In "The Writers Tale" RTD states that he co-authored loads but because he never co-credited himself from the start he couldn't then begin doing it later on, as viewers might assume that the main author's work wasn't up to scratch, so he kind of painted himself into a corner, even thought Julie Gardner kept badgering him to take credit where it was due. Perhaps Moffat has learned from that mistake and is making sure that he is now credited for what he does anyway.

On the ratings front I fully expect "Time Heist" to crack at least 7.1 million on consolidated as the timeshift is bigger this season than last. "Listen" got the largest timeshift of the new series so far - 31.5%. Sky boxes in the UK have such large capacity now that it's almost a matter of course for viewers to record loads of things that they may or may not delete in the next week, and word of how good a programme was on the night probably persuades more people to watch rather than delete. With the good press that this series is getting, the overnights may stay down but the finals will keep going up.

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Spacewarp 2 years, 12 months ago

Danny's race is pretty much transparent to UK viewers I suspect, in the same way as Mickey's was back in the day. It will be interesting to see what the US feels about it. I remember the fury from some US posters on Gallifrey Base over the 9th Doctor's comment on "no domestics in the TARDIS". UK viewers of course knew this meant "domestic argument" between Rose and Mickey, but US viewers seemed to think the Doctor was calling Mickey on being black (as in "domestic servant").

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Anton B 2 years, 12 months ago

Speaking as a teacher, none of those concerns occured to me on initial viewing. The, mostly, succesful multi-cultural mix in the majority of British inner city schools would provide equal opportunities for shoplifting and trespassing behaviour amongst black, white and Asian students. I'm sure the 'P.E. teacher' jibe was in no way intended by the writers to be taken as a racial slur by the Doctor, merely a reiteration of his prejudice against soldiers. I think we're getting a similar case of trans-Atlantic crossed cultural wires here as the black 'scrap metal merchants' caused in Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS last series.

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Richard Pugree 2 years, 12 months ago

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Richard Pugree 2 years, 12 months ago

This was meant to be a reply to Anton B, above.

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Richard Pugree 2 years, 12 months ago

Well, certainly the implication in Listen was that the military was where young Gallifreyans who wouldn't make it into the Academy were sent. So while it might not be an ingrained Time Lord *requirement*, it would certainly be an ingrained result of a hierarchical education system - not a phobia of soldiers as such, but of superiority to them.

But in the Doctor's particular case, it seemed he went to the Academy for the opposite reason - precisely because he didn't want to be a soldier - even though he wasn't perhaps an obvious choice for there - whether that was because of a lack of academic ability, or the wrong attitude, or his class background.

(This is all assuming that the young Doctor didn't want to be a soldier for moral reasons, rather than that as a result of the tiered system he just didn't want to go to the second best)

So, there's a some sort of private education critique going on here as well as the overt anti soldier one.

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Anton B 2 years, 12 months ago

Indeed. It's reminiscent of the British upper class hierarchical tradition of first sons joining the army (as officers of course) before coming into their inheritance, second sons going into politics and third sons joining the clergy. Danny's put down of the Doctor as recognizably officer class really hit home. I don't recall him ever being so angry with a human before.

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Dustin 2 years, 12 months ago

The "shoplifting" bit was screamingly uncomfortable. And I don't think it's "crossed cultural wires" to wonder about the unexamined class-and-race assumptions of a writer who'd pen a line like that.

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John Peacock 2 years, 12 months ago

I recently watched Season 7 and it looks like he's been doing these character inserts for a while - each episode of 7b has a bit where Clara is learning to deal with travelling on the Tardis. Second time around, by the way, the episodes are much better, possibly because now I know where they're going and can just let them happen, something which works very much to the benefit of Clara, the character, and Jenna Coleman's performance. And second time around, The Time of the Doctor is wonderful.

W/r/t the ratings: there's very little point to watch the X Factor at any other time than broadcast, and I'd guess that very few people watch it twice. On the other hand, Dr Who doesn't suffer from being time shifted and a number of people watch it several times, so as far as ratings are concerned, they're very different creatures. So, I'd be surprised if the X Factor lost in the overnight ratings battle. People will still be watching these episodes years from now, long after the eventual X Factor winner has been completely forgotten.

(That seemed a bit meaner than I intended it to.)

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You Know Who... 2 years, 12 months ago

Actually, the cop hassling the two black kids seemed deliberate and sly - notice how the two boys realise there isn't much point in arguing, and just leave. (And the patent teacher conference between Danny and Courtney's parents worked much better than it would have of Danny were white.)

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Carey 2 years, 12 months ago

The "shoplifting" bit was screamingly uncomfortable. And I don't think it's "crossed cultural wires" to wonder about the unexamined class-and-race assumptions of a writer who'd pen a line like that.

Actually, I'd say the scene is supposed to be uncomfortable and reinforced by Danny's summing up of the Doctor as a Lord and an officer used to giving orders.

I think there is a US/UK culture clash here: the UK are far more critical of their officer class soldiers than the US, mostly dating back to World War 1 and the initial ineptitude of the career officer who were totally unprepaired for the carnage of the western front (taken to its furthest with Stephen Fry's general Melchet in Blackadder goes Forth, but equally in many cinema works from the 60's onwards. And the War Games, of course).

And this is the latest in a series of scripts this series that is about examining the Doctor's character and finding fault. In particular, there is a deliberate class conflict going on between the working class Danny and the upper class Doctor. Interestingly enough, this is reinforced by the acting styles of the two main leads: Samuel Anderson is very much a naturalistic actor, and a contrast to Peter Capaldi's non-naturalistic style of playing the Doctor. Anderson's acting reflects the solidity and steadiness of Danny's character, while Capaldi, as Doctor Sandifer points out, picks his approach on a scene by scene basis, and reflects the mercury inherent within. The revelation this series has been Coleman, who has he ability to fit in with both acting styles, and more than that, cope with both simultaneously.

Finally, something that occurred to me a while back, and has great ramifications in this episode. Doctor 11 was always described as an old man in a young body (reinforced by Smith's approach to playing him), and the presumption is that 12 is very much a young man in an old body. But what was never made clear, but has revealed itself over the series, is Capladi's Doctor is a teenager in an old man's body. This first occurred to me on a rematch of Deep Breath when it became apparent that the whole character arc of the Doctor in that story was "accept me for me." The"Am I a good man" scene in Into The Dalek is something only a teenager would think of asking; and the attempt to pop the heroism of another in Robot of Sherlock is similarly something a teenager would do (the only thing missing was the Doctor saying Robin Hood was childish). On a metatextual level this is an especially interesting road to take considering the youngest of viewers introduced to Doctor Who in 2005 would now be teenagers themselves and at an age they would grow out of supposedly childish things such as Doctor Who.

As to the Caretaker?Not my favourite story so far, but incredibly enjoyable and, I think, a story that will need to be reassessed at the end of the series as I think it's latin a lot of groundwork for the finale.

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Dustin 2 years, 12 months ago

I was referring to the Doctor's line to "Disruptive Influence," the student whose name I can't remember. The military politics between Danny and the Doctor, I'm sorry to say, could not be of less interest to me.

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Carey 2 years, 12 months ago

I forgot to add this earlier, but favourite scene in The Caretaker? Danny standing in front of the Tardis, taking it all in, framed by Clara on one side, and the Doctor on the other. And the Doctor looks at Clara, but Clara looks only at Danny, and he doesn't look at her at all. And the hurt in the Doctor's eyes is palpable.

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Carey 2 years, 12 months ago

Yes, but you seem to be judging it as the writers thoughts. They're not. They're the Doctor's, and I think, given context within the episode, that you're supposed to question him saying them, not the writers.

And her name is Courtney: it was said several times within the story, and several times in stories previous to this.

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Alex Antonijevic 2 years, 12 months ago

I think people viewing the whole "black man P.E" teacher thing are perhaps still stuck in a racist mindset. It seemed very clear that the Doctor was only saying that in regards to him being a soldier. The Doctor doesn't seem like the sort of guy to make comments like that based on race. I feel like that scene would play the same if Danny had been played by a white man.

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Brightcoat 2 years, 12 months ago

"PEOPLE WHO SEE RACIAL SUBTEXT ARE THE ~REAL RACISTS~"

Sod off.

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Pen Name Pending 2 years, 12 months ago

I was thinking the same thing...a shot at him being a soldier. Which is still a prejudice, but not a racial one, and not one anyone sides with the Doctor on.

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BerserkRL 2 years, 12 months ago

COAL HILL HEADMASTER: I'm the Headmaster here. Doctor, eh? Well, you're a bit over-qualified for the position, but if you would like to leave your particulars and references --
DOCTOR: References?
COAL HILL HEADMASTER: You are here for the job of school caretaker?

-- Remembrance of the Daleks

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Philip Sandifer 2 years, 12 months ago

I really shouldn't need to say this, but telling other posters to sod off is kind of the exclusive privilege of the guy who owns the blog. Everyone else gets to express their disagreement in more polite ways.

All of which said, I think Alex has the complete wrong of it. As I said, the intent was absolutely clear. I don't even think the scene should necessarily have been played any differently. But... oof.

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TheSmilingStallionInn 2 years, 12 months ago

Personally, I'm thrilled that there is a Courtney because that is my name and I like her last name Woods as well.

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Jarl 2 years, 12 months ago

When the Doctor is standing in the caretaker's, uh, "office", lamenting the fact that he hangs out with humans, I thought for sure "Okay, here it comes, Ian shows up and they have a big hug-it-out." And then Courtney showed up and I was bummed out.

That intergalactic killing machine sure was adorable, wasn't it?

The Doctor knowing Jane Austen's story because he read the biography feels like a really obvious punchline to a fifty year running joke that, try as I might, I can't remember them ever doing before.

The Promised Land and Heaven are conclusively described as the same location, meaning my Mondas/Cyberiad theory is somewhat battered, but not yet deep fried.

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Brightcoat 2 years, 12 months ago

sorry. I've run into that particular sentiment far too often and in boils my blood something awful. Sincerest apologies.

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Jarl 2 years, 12 months ago

This is the second time (at least) since An Unearthly Child that the Doctor's blown up parts of Coal Hill School. Ian probably wants to deck him by now.

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UrsulaL 2 years, 12 months ago

Danny's pretty much the opposite of John in Sherlock, at least so far.

John is someone who was in the military, in combat, and misses it. The adrenaline, the danger, etc.

Danny was in the military, but what he misses is not the excitement of combat, but rather digging wells and helping people. He can and will face danger, and do so successfully. He knows the temptation of a commander who can help you be a better and more powerful person, and the danger of being pushed too far, either physically, emotionally, or into danger.

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Matthew Blanchette 2 years, 12 months ago

How would Ian even recognize the Doctor, much less know it's the same man he traveled through time with?

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Philip Sandifer 2 years, 12 months ago

There are, I agree, huge differences. But there's also, in both cases, the idea of soldiers as people who have, in a very fundamental way, been pushed to the limits of human experience. Both Danny and John are post-traumatic characters in a very fundamental way.

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UrsulaL 2 years, 12 months ago

Is Danny post traumatic? He's certainly frustrated that all anyone else cares about is whether he's killed. But that's not PTSD.

From what I've seen, so far, Danny seems to be in a good place, when it comes to mental health.

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Philip Sandifer 2 years, 12 months ago

The crying in Into the Dalek suggests at least something he has trouble dealing with.

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inkdestroyedmybrush 2 years, 12 months ago

this should be no secret. look no further than the end of last episode where the Doctor basically says, "We robbed an entire bank. Lets see a date top that." yes, the doctor has always been the alpha male in the TARDIS. its not a moffat thing, its a Docotr character trait that has been there since Pertwee's era, or even earlier. Its not misogyny, its moffat continuing a thread on the character that has been there for 40 years. You may not like it, since it does paint the Doctor in a negative light, but it has been there.

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inkdestroyedmybrush 2 years, 12 months ago

this episode was braver than i thought, almost as brave as i wanted the Rings last season to be... but they decided, for whatever reason, not to pull it off. nicely done here. after the initial fumbling of the Incredible Journey and Robots of whatever out of the way, we're moving to meat of the season. This is a far more complex emotional journey than we've seen before from the companions of the TARDIS and significant others. Whether they can pull it off i don't know, but they're clearly trying.

I predict right now that Moffatt will have to deal with accusations of sexism and a degree of misogyny because neither of his male protagonists will be perfect. there will be jealously and some lying and some unflattering sides comign out along the way. And it will be seen as his voice, as opposed to the characters. And its going to make me want to opt out of a lot of the comments sections because you can only make the case so many times that imperfect characters are far more dramatic than perfect ones. I predict that it will get ugly by season's end in that regard. Shame,since we're seeing a good run of a couple of episodes here. I hope that it continues.

The intro to the TARDIS scene here is interesting, with Danny deciding not to walk in. how many people, having seen how big it is on the inside decide not to test the theory and not walk in? Danny, as much blindsided by Clara's lies to him as the nature of the TARDIS itself decides to walk away and process. that is not the usual reaction. We've had a lot of "red herring" companions, since the soldier in Into the Dalek, and taking Courntey on a trip at the end of this shows a transition as well. We no longer have a firm grasp on the Tardis and what and who will travel in it.

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BerserkRL 2 years, 12 months ago

This is obvious, but I'll say it anyway: at least in the religious systems that prevail in our society, "Nethersphere" is a more plausible synonym for Hell than for Heaven.

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Ed Azad 2 years, 12 months ago

This is the first episode since "Into the Dalek" that I entirely liked. Yes, it began "Time wimey" and clever, clever". But I think Danny acquitted himself well, and is a worthy successor to Ian. He brings out the best in the main duo, who are pretty insufferable when left to their own devices.

I especially liked the score with its space age flutes. It's a really good hook and a nice contrast from Eleven's bombast.

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Adam Riggio 2 years, 12 months ago

I found this episode quite brilliant, not just because I love the tone and style of Gareth Roberts' comedies, but because The Caretaker tackled so explicitly issues of race and class. I say some more about it on my own blog, which I like to show off on Phil's comment threads because I give him credit every post as such an inspiration to me, and because folks from here seem to like what I have to say.

http://adamwriteseverything.blogspot.ca/2014/09/the-officers-club-doctor-who-caretaker.html

But in short form, Danny takes charge of how his conflict with the Doctor is coded: in terms of class. The Doctor is a Lord, an officer, and his goose-stepping when he first enters the TARDIS very effectively gets on the Doctor's nerves. It's a short fuse for the Doctor, because he's always identified with the working classes, because they're so frequently oppressed or controlled by a self-interested ruling class. The Doctor fights decadent immoral people, and his heroism is defined by his role at a catalyst of social upheaval and liberation of the oppressed.

Yet the Doctor is also a figure from the ruling class. Mark Gatiss put the matter explicitly (because he's not the best at subtext) in Robot of Sherwood. The Doctor is a man of privilege who gave up his privilege as unjust. But he always looks like he's privileged. He wears nice suits, he's absurdly well-educated (at least compared to humans, and he didn't always get along with his teachers). The only Doctor who explicitly dressed in the trappings of the lower class was Eccleston, who wore a simple leather jacket and spoke with an accent explicitly associated in the UK with a working class region, Manchester. But Hartnell, Pertwee, both Bakers, Davison, the early McGann, Smith, and Capaldi all dress as aristocrats. Tennant dressed like a nouveau riche geek, and Troughton dressed like a professor (albeit an underemployed prof). He'll never be able to escape his privileged upbringing and manners, no matter how hard he tries. And it grates on him.

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nimonus 2 years, 12 months ago

As, I think, does his over-the-top discussion with Clara at the end of this story, in which he makes her promise to tell him if the Doctor ever pushes her too far, won't accept "it's a deal", but insists on "I promise" and makes it an explicit condition of any continued relationship.

I think the critical part of that conversation is when he follows "If he ever pushes you too far, I want you to tell me" with "[I]because I know what that is like.[/I]"

In his first appearance, the very first thing we learn about Danny is that he killed a civilian, and deeply regrets it. And in this story, I think, it is implied that like all war criminals, he was "just following orders".

I think his discomfort with the Doctor comes from much the same place that the Doctor's discomfort with him: They remind each other far too much of parts of their past that they want to forget. And the stridency of his final conversation with Clara comes from imagining her potentially facing the same pressures he did, and being desperate for a different outcome.


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nimonus 2 years, 12 months ago

It is an obvious tactic to normalize and justify racial power imbalances in society, by claiming that any acknowledgement that they exist is "divisive". Obvious in the sense that it is transparent to anyone with any sense what the real objective behind such claims is - to justify the unconscionable status quo - but not so obvious that lots of less than clever people with a vested interest in that racist status quo aren't able to talk themselves into actually believing it.

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nimonus 2 years, 12 months ago

ScarvesandCellery:

I agree, that scene comes off as possessive. We will have to see, though, if that dynamic shows up in other contexts, or only in this one. Because I don't think it even really about Clara. I think it is about himself, and his own guilt over what he did when he let the officers under whom he served push *him* too far. He's being unreasonable, and it is icky that Clara is getting caught up in it, but I don't think this scene is indicative of their relationship as a whole so much as it is of his PTSD and guilt at killing a civilian.

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Nick Smale 2 years, 12 months ago

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Nick Smale 2 years, 12 months ago

a simple leather jacket

That's a German U-Boat commander's deck coat -- an officer's uniform.

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Dave Workman 2 years, 12 months ago

I'll add to the praise of Courtney. Working in a school in South London, the characterisation was spot on accurate to me (although watching Doctor Who Extra makes me think the actress brought lots of herself to the role)
I should probably also admit that the actress who played Angie is a member of the Saturday morning youth theatre I run. To be fair, she didn't tell any of us she was appearing in the show (we're not the kind of group who gets casting directors in or stuff like that), but I should probably take some of the blame, although obviously I'll deflect that onto the writers and directors...

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Prandeamus 2 years, 12 months ago

I'm a white middle aged English professional who tries not to be racist. I think I do a fair job of that but I have failings like the rest of us do.

My only conscious race related thought during the episode was "lots of black faces this week. Oh I suppose that would be realistic given the location" I then just watched the episode. The pe teacher jibe I felt was entirely based on being an ex soldier. Sure, your mileage will vary.

The policemen/kids scene did not seem like a race thing either. He calls them out for truancy, they offer a lame excuse which they know he won't really believe, and they shuffle off (kids under 17 don't get free periods during the school day and free periods are usually spend in study rooms, to my knowledge)

Now the thing that could be debated is "is Courtney disruptive because she's black?" Even so I think that would be a tenuous argument at best.

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Spacewarp 2 years, 12 months ago

@John Peacock. Far from it, I thought that was very charitable of you. I can't even remember who won last year's X Factor (if I even cared).

"The Caretaker" garnered 4.89 million last night, and as usual it'll pick up Phil's missing 2 million over the week.

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Richard Pugree 2 years, 12 months ago

Inkdestroyedmybrush:

"Its not misogyny, its moffat continuing a thread on the character that has been there for 40 years. You may not like it, since it does paint the Doctor in a negative light, but it has been there."

That doesn't mean it's not misogyny.

Nimonus:
I agree and I hope that it's followed through properly, is all.

What I found unsettling about the Clara/Danny scene at the end was not so much his behaviour, but Clara not calling him on it, which seemed out of character. Although it quite possibly fits with her caregiving/making-excuses-for role with the Doctor so far (itself potentially very dodgy but has just about worked so far I think), given that we've seen so little of Clara and Danny's relationship on screen it 's difficult to know how much of Danny's trauma she has picked up on and is responding to.

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Daru 2 years, 12 months ago

The Doctor fixating on Danny being PE teacher could have been him acknowledging his physical prowess - which comes out later with the astonishing somersault over the robot.

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Daru 2 years, 12 months ago

Dunno, for me I didn't feel the discussion of the sofa from Danny was possessive. It felt like real fear for Clara and being honest about the possible consequences of putting one's absolute trust in an officer type that danny already does not trust. I read the 'not being able to stay together' as darkly hinting at his fears that Clara may be damaged or experience worse. Real fears as he's seen what wars can do to people.

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Daru 2 years, 12 months ago

Good call BerserkRL!

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Burk Diggler 2 years, 12 months ago

Nice article!

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Daru 2 years, 12 months ago

Adore the direction the show is going in. For me this feels like the strongest run of episodes in a new season that we have had for ages. Love the way that the show is slowed down and shot so differently to allow for the relationship interactions to unfold. Danny - amazing character and the confrontation between him and the Doctor in the Tardis is maybe one of my favourites ever - a scene that has been waiting to be spoken for so long. Love it. His intelligence and insight is written as very acute, and his ability to understand the motivations of the Doctor gets underneath his skin.

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Matthew Celestis 2 years, 12 months ago

What other subject would the Brigadier have taught at a public school? PE might have been a challenge at his age.

Mathematics is a relevant subject for a man whose career has involved administration and logistics.

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Daibhid C 2 years, 12 months ago

As the person who brought up Angie as being annoying, I should clarify; the actress was great, she was just great at playing a character who had been written as someone who would get on my nerves. And that probably says more about me than the character anyway. (I'm not comfortable around kids IRL, with the exception of my niece and nephew.)

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Daibhid C 2 years, 12 months ago

Oh, hey, regarding how much of the Danny story was written by the Moff, it's just occurred to me that "it's like they've got minds of their own" is a line from Coupling.

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Spacewarp 2 years, 12 months ago

I'll reiterate this. Phil's comment on being not sure about "the white Doctor assuming the black man can only be a P.E. teacher" is 100% misunderstanding. The vast majority of UK viewers watching this will not even see a "black man". If they even acknowledge that he's of mixed parentage, the concept of him being "black" wouldn't even occur to them. In the same way as Colin Powell being referred to as "a black man" in the US mystifies us in the UK (how can he be black when he's not actually "black"?).

We've had nigh on 50 years in this country where people of different races have been marrying and bringing up children, who in turn have been doing the same, so now we have a society where mixed-race people are our friends, our work colleagues, our husbands, wives, lovers, parents and our children. I suspect it is to do with the UK being a far less isolated country than the US, with lots of us half-French, German, Swedish, Polish, Russian, Nigerian, Jamaican, Indian, Kenyan...

Trust us on this. The Doctor doesn't notice Danny's skin colour. Clara doesn't notice it. The kids in the school don't notice it, and the rest of the teachers don't notice it. There's no issue with Clara going out with him, and there hasn't been for at least 30 years now (though ITRL Clara's parents might still feel lingering unease). The writers don't notice, the Directors don't notice. Moffat doesn't notice and the viewers don't notice. Samuel Anderson didn't get the audition because they were looking for a "black" man, but because he acted well and fit the character descriptions. and I'd go so far as to say I bet there was no mention of his skin colour in the scripts (which is something some posters can probably check). The same goes for the "cop" telling off the black kids, although I'll admit that they were in the scene possibly to reinforce Coal Hill's "inner city" status, and because for some weird reason black child actors do "cheeky" better than white ones.

With the shoe on the other foot, "Asian" means something different to a US viewer than it does to a UK one, probably something that we Brits don't appreciate. It always cracks me up when I see references to "Asian Porn" because it obviously means Japanese, but it just says Indian women in saris to me.

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John 2 years, 12 months ago

I'm not sure Colin Baker dressed as anything recognizable in human class terms. McCoy's style, which you don't mention, seems pretty middle class (certainly not working class, but not upper class, either).

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Daru 2 years, 12 months ago

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Richard Pugree 2 years, 12 months ago

Spacewarp: thank you for answering something I've been pondering for a while! I've noticed that over the years a number of my friends adopting the American usage of Asian (more than other Americanisms), and wondered whether I'd missed a meeting. But of course - It's a straight porn thing!

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Aylwin 2 years, 12 months ago

I suspect it is to do with the UK being a far less isolated country than the US, with lots of us half-French, German, Swedish, Polish, Russian, Nigerian, Jamaican, Indian, Kenyan...

Maybe I'm missing something here, but...seriously?

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TheOncomingHurricane 2 years, 12 months ago

@Spacewarp You'd be right. The description given in Into the Dalek is 'DANNY PINK. Late twenties, a strapping big lad, handsome.' That's all there is.

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Lance Parkin 2 years, 12 months ago

'as the show gets increasingly international it’s going to run up against the race triggers of other nations'

Let's be honest, here, the issue is not that - to pick three countries that got same-day broadcasts of The Day of the Doctor - Slovaks, Somalians and the Nepalese are being triggered. What the anxiety is here is that American viewers are encountering attitudes that are not American attitudes.

The poster who went on to say that Gareth Roberts has 'unexamined' issues around race and class ... I can sink that battleship really easily. Gareth used to be my boss on a soap opera. He wrestled literally every day with issues of depictions of class, race, gender, representations of minorities, issues with casting, with 'realism'. I was in the room when he did that examining.

He's examined this stuff, he's just coming to different answers. And why is that? Is that because there's one answer and he's got it wrong?

The makers of Rose did not 'make the bold choice to depict an interracial relationship', they 'cast Noel Clarke'. The assumption that an inner city kid is a shoplifter is class prejudice, not racial prejudice - and it's clearly a story about the Doctor's 'unexamined' class issues, and it's clearly a story where the Doctor is found wanting.

The way American shows train you to view television will hinder as often as it helps when you're watching Doctor Who. American TV is routinely misogynistic, violent, tokenistic and values conformity, mistakes the status quo for utopia. Exhibit A; TNG. Exhibit B: The West Wing. And those are the *good* shows. But that's not the main problem. The main problem is that American shows all work at face value. They say what they're doing, they do it. You're meant to accept that Picard or Bartlet have come up with the best answer. You're meant to *like* them. The drumbeat behind every American show, without exception, is deference and obedience. If not to the state - and it's usually to the state - then to the family.

That is, basically, the entire and complete opposite of how all British television works. Well, except Downton Abbey. Doctor Who is a show about disobedience being good, about how the status quo is an illusion or a cage. Clue's in the title - it's about questioning, not answering.

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Lance Parkin 2 years, 12 months ago

As is his wont, Gareth said what I just said far more succinctly, in the episode itself: the very highest form of praise in Doctor Who is 'disruptive influence'. That's what means you win.

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Aylwin 2 years, 12 months ago

We've had at least one implicit nudge that way already, on Missy's first appearance: "Welcome to...[weird, perversely amused and knowing look of ironical bliss]...heaven." Mind you, the terminology of a "netherworld" or "underworld" is perhaps most typically applied to systems where all the dead end up broadly in the same place, even if there are different departments for different sorts of people.

Interestingly different glimpse of it this time - more bureaucratic and much more functional, with echoes of A Matter of Life and Death and, well, all the other things that have borrowed from A Matter of Life and Death.

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Aylwin 2 years, 12 months ago

Liking the Dirk Gently dialogue lift.

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dm 2 years, 12 months ago

1) The bit about the Doctor assuming Clara's ideal man was the professional Matt Smith lookalike was cute, but could have done with being pointed out in dialogue a bit less.

Agreed. The look on Capaldi's face was all that was needed to sell that lovely gag. The dialogue was surplus to requirement. Writers take note: this doctor really can do it all with a look.

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dm 2 years, 12 months ago

@Lance: I'm with you 99% of the way, but have you given Orange is the New Black a go? It is really remarkably ambiguous, questioning and anti-authoritarian for an US show.

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Pen Name Pending 2 years, 12 months ago

I also thought he was mostly worried about her being safe and not being there if she wasn't. Not being able to be with a loved one when they are in danger and instead hearing of all the awful things that happened to them while you were powerless is a fear in any relationship from any member of the relationship. And Danny didn't seem to be ordering her to not travel with the Doctor, and certainly not because he was afraid she'd get too friendly with the Doctor when he wasn't around, which would be the real offense. He just wants their relationship to be honest, and if he was constantly worrying about her being in danger, he wanted her to know that maybe that was the sort of relationship he was not ready for and could not honestly continue.

(Also they have never been portrayed as the best relationship ever, either.)

Mostly I am just going to say that based on interviews, this seems to be foreshadowing for something with next week's episode.

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Daru 2 years, 12 months ago

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Aylwin 2 years, 12 months ago

American TV...mistakes the status quo for utopia...Exhibit B: The West Wing.

How's that? The West Wing presents the status quo as essentially viable and susceptible to reform, but that's a long way from presenting it as utopia. Oh, for sure, pretty much every episode in the early seasons has its lump-in-the-throat, tear-in-the-eye, flag-saluting moment with stirring, swelling music, which it's virtually impossible to watch while not being American without rolling about on the floor weeping with laughter. It comes from a, "the system isn't broken" viewpoint. But the conclusion it draws from that is that it is unacceptable to shrink from acting boldly to right wrongs and reform society and to excuse this timidity by protesting that a rotten system will not permit serious change.

In so far as the world of the Bartlett Administration is conceived in ideal terms (which is by no means completely), it is idealised as a contrast to the status quo, part wistful, part exasperated - the central message throughout is "It doesn't have to be like this! Look!". Some utopias are more radical than others, but all are necessarily critiques of the status quo.

And aside from the merits of particular cases, the problem with presenting an example or two as proof of a sweepingly generalisation is that it tends to be all too easy to come up with counter-examples. Exhibit A: The Wire. Exhibit B: Oz. Exhibit C: Mad Men. See how this goes?

Mind you, even if I had never seen a minute of American or British television, I'd know enough to dismiss out of hand statements containing phrases like "all British television", let alone "every American show, without exception". Now just maybe that was all ironic hyperbole, but it really doesn't read that way. And if it is meant sincerely then it's complacent nonsense.

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dm 2 years, 12 months ago

God, doesn't Deep Breath feel a million years ago now? Now that the new house style is so firmly entrenched, that first ep feels a lot like a band's awkward transitional album- think The Cure's The Top (although, really, I think it is one of the most consistently interesting things Robert Smith has ever done)


1. Listen
2. Into the Dalek
3. The Caretaker
4. Robots of Sherwood
5. Deep Breath
6. Time Heist

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Daru 2 years, 12 months ago

Yeah thanks. It does feel like the fear of seeing someone you love giving maybe too much of themselves to another you perceive that could put that loved one at risk. And yes I'd agree that in no way does he imply that he doesn't want her to stop travelling with the Doctor.

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Lance Parkin 2 years, 12 months ago

"@Lance: I'm with you 99% of the way, but have you given Orange is the New Black a go? It is really remarkably ambiguous, questioning and anti-authoritarian for an US show."

As a Weeds fan, I watched the first two episodes, but haven't yet been able to shut up the voice in my head going 'Weeds Season 6B'.

Weeds is a pretty good example of subversion on US TV, come to think of it.

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Lance Parkin 2 years, 12 months ago

"And if it is meant sincerely then it's complacent nonsense."

There's only one T in 'Bartlet'.

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C. 2 years, 12 months ago

Seeing a lot of back-patting and rather enormous generalizations about American culture and politics from some UK commenters in this thread.

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Daru 2 years, 12 months ago

@ C - To clarify for myself what I was agreeing with was really Spacewarp's comments on the Doctor's responses to Danny. I don't have any comments to make about things UK vs US. Don't like generalisations.

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Pen Name Pending 2 years, 12 months ago

I mean maybe it wasn't as clear as it could have been--or we are so worried it's going to be problematic that it takes the forefront--but it wasn't nearly as terrible as I had been promised. I'm also of the belief that most relationships aren't pitch-perfect, an argument that is best made from the female perspective, but regardless I think this is more foreshadowing than anything. Danny was clearly amazed at how capable she was and allowed her to travel as much as she wants, as long as she keeps a level head about it, and her attempt to "call him out" on that would read more like "How dare you tell me you're uncomfortable with me being in danger," at least from my perspective.

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Spacewarp 2 years, 12 months ago

@Alwin. I think I get what you mean there. Yes the US is made up almost totally of mixed-race immigrants (Dutch, Spanish, English, Irish, Scottish etc), but those major immigrations are at least a hundred years in the past. The UK has had a constant and far more recent influx of foreign immigrants since at least the late 40s (starting with the Windrush), altering the cultural makeup of our towns and cities by the decade.

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Richard Pugree 2 years, 12 months ago

"and allowed her to travel as much as she wants"

That was good of him...

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lasthussar 2 years, 12 months ago

Yes, the Doctor did make an assumption. Squaddies become PE teachers, not Maths teacher. That was it - his prejudice was stereotyping soldiers. Race had nothing to do with it. That was purely viewers watching mapping their own prejudices on- specifically "Any negative comment about a character who is being portrayed by a non-white actor is racism."

I bet every teacher watching was smiling about Courtney, before the character was introduced - from friends who are teachers there is always one. The fact Courtney cheerfully introduces herself as 'Disruptive Influence' immediately put the Doctor on her side without any consideration of race. And it's obvious why she is disruptive - she bored because she's too bright.

Why did the PCSO pick on the 2 black schoolkids out of school during school hours?
THEY WERE SCHOOL KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL DURING SCHOOL HOURS. This means they were Up To Something. Lots of newsagents and convenience stores have a sign in the window - "No more than 2 schoolchildren at any one time". That is race-blind; that is because can you trust 8 kids in a sweet shop? They don't.

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Spacewarp 2 years, 12 months ago

I rewatched "Deep Breath" this morning, and was surprised to see that Courtney was in that too, in Clara's blink and you'll miss her dream sequence where the class is out of control.

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Aylwin 2 years, 12 months ago

those major immigrations are at least a hundred years in the past

Those ones, yes. Other ones, emphatically no.

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C. 2 years, 12 months ago

in re "no major immigrations in the US," there is this to consider, from Wikipedia:

"The United States admitted more legal immigrants from 1991 to 2000, between ten to eleven million, than in any previous decade...By 1970, immigrants accounted for 4.7 percent of the US population and rising to 6.2 percent in 1980, with an estimated 12.5 percent in 2009. As of 2010, 25% of US residents under age 18 were first- or second-generation immigrants."

That last percentage is the big one. Essentially, this is America of 2050, which is going to be a much different country, demographically, than the US of my childhood in the '70s.

Whether there will be assimilation among immigrants and "older" American nationalities (such as the Irish and Italians etc) to the extent of (apparently) the UK is another question, of course. But the US is quite certainly undergoing a demographic change at present.

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Adam Riggio 2 years, 12 months ago

Good eye, Nick! I'd forgotten that Eccleston dressed as a Navy officer.

John: If you watch a Colin Baker show on a black and white screen, he has a frilly tie, a vest, and a pocketwatch. McCoy dressed kind of like G. E. Moore to my eye.

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macrogers 2 years, 12 months ago

Mr. Parkin, I feel bound to respond because you seem to have called out my comment specifically. You seem to be saying that “The Caretaker” only triggered American racial anxieties, and not those of any other nation. This may well be true. I can’t speak for other nations, nor do I know what your qualifications are for doing so. Still, as you yourself quoted, what I wrote was “as the show gets increasingly international it’s going to run up against the race triggers of other nations”. You oddly seem to be reading a cultural observation as a criticism, either of the episode or Gareth Roberts himself. Some other episode may bump up against the racial anxieties – or some other anxieties – of some other country. This blog has often concerned itself with understanding Doctor Who’s cultural context over straight-up-or-down reviewing, and my comment was very much in that spirit. I wasn’t saying “It’s evil that these scenes are in the show” but rather “these scenes, in another cultural context, conjure vivid, pressing, relevant associations in the United States.” (In the wake of attempts by the Ferguson, MO police to minimize the shooting of Mike Brown by suggesting he’d stolen some cigars just before his murder made the “shoplifting” moment particularly fraught for this one American viewer, though it’s possible that I overstate the case for others.)

I don’t know what – if anything at all – Doctor Who showrunners and writers should do in response to knowing that their material is being increasingly exported to countries with different ways of reading things, culturally. Honestly, the answer may well be “nothing.” I’m no fan of anodyne Hollywood epics with all the idiosyncrasies boiled out of them so they can play roughly the same I any foreign market. As a lifelong fan of Doctor Who, I’d never want it not to be, first and foremost, a British show, though of course how that’s defined will evolve over time. When I was a kid, I had to stay up until 11PM to watch Tom Baker re-runs on a public broadcasting station, and now virtually everyone I know at least knows the show well enough to post Dalek jokes on Facebook. Whether or not Doctor Who is beholden to any national cultures other than the one in which it is made, there’s no doubt that it is increasingly present in those other cultures, and that’s worth thinking out loud about.

To your point about American vs. British television: I’ve been watching both in roughly equal amounts my entire life, and your “without exception” generalization strikes me as bizarre. The Wire, Parks & Recreation, Scandal, Battlestar Galactica, and Rectify – just to name a few off the top of my head – are all scathingly skeptical of state and family authority, while something like Spooks, which I watched every episode of, is – despite a few bits and bobs of dialogue here and there – incredibly deferential to those structures. It’s entirely possible that there’s much more conformist entertainment in the United States, but there’s no reason for someone who grows up here to have their thoughts utterly colonized by it, or their judgment impaired by it. It’s possible to simply disagree with me without needing to believe that I reached my opinion through brainwashing.

The UK racial culture described by some in this comment thread does sound remarkable, and quite likely out of reach for the US, at least for a very long time.

In any case, as to Gareth Roberts himself, I presume to know nothing whatsoever about his mind other than that it has generated some truly terrific stories, and "The Caretaker" is one of them.

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Froborr 2 years, 12 months ago

So Eccleston wore upper class clothes easily mistaken for lower class clothes? So he was slumming? That's almost too on the nose.

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Iain Mew 2 years, 12 months ago

Those are much bigger numbers than the UK equivalents.

As someone else from the UK, I do not recognise Spacewarp's picture of a colour blind attitude to mixed race people in the slightest, and the facts for racial disparity in many different outcomes do not suggest such an equal place.

To pick a high profile example, I don't remember ever seeing anyone's response to the John Terry racial abuse case being "but Anton Ferdinand isn't even black!"

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Philip Sandifer 2 years, 12 months ago

I would take the various comments suggesting that the UK is an enlightened post-racial society where nobody "sees race" more seriously if I had not, in the last week alone, read a news story that notes that the Racist Fuckhead party is polling at 17% and another about Mario Balotelli getting racially abused for having the same reaction to Manchester United snatching defeat from the jaws of victory that everyone else did.

Quick poll - how many of you saying that the UK just doesn't have a racism problem like the US does are actually a member of a non-white racial minority?

I don't think The Caretaker is racist, although as a white American I'm not entirely the best person to make that judgment. And I think it bizarre that nobody is highlighting some of the more important ways in which the story gets it right. Coal Hill is as racially diverse as an East London school should be. The white policeman harassing black kids is all too common, defensible as it may be in any given instance. And Courtney, the troublemaking black girl, gets to be a companion, and gets to be a companion precisely because she's an unrepentant "disruptive influence." These are all tremendously good things that the story handles confidently and without making a fuss about it, almost as if some of the people working on it have experience doing racially diverse casts where race is part of characterization but not a defining trait on The Sarah Jane Adventures or something.

I suspect the shoplifting joke would have been better cut or reshaped. I think the "you must be a PE teacher" joke works, though I understand why people would be thrown by it as well. (For my part, I didn't notice it at all until the second watching. I guess I just didn't see Danny as a black man at first glance. Or something.) I don't think the episode is racist. I think it has one line that plays weirdly in amidst an episode that's actually doing some fairly lovely things with race.

But I think a lot of its defenders in this thread are coming off as blinkered by privilege and with their heads in the sand.

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David Anderson 2 years, 12 months ago

As a UK commenter, I think Spacewarp is being a bit optimistic about whether we notice that Danny (or Micky or Martha) is black. At the same time, I think it's true that it's not foregrounded if the writers don't want it to be. And I think for the UK viewer the Doctor's PE teacher mockery is sufficiently overdetermined that race doesn't come into it.

(One of the mistakes the Musketeers made was to cast a black man in one of the roles, and then be unable to decide whether it wanted to be colour blind about it, or foreground it. So we have two stories where it matters that Porthos is black, and six where it doesn't, and because of the contrast both approaches feel off.)
Utopia gets the balance right, where it makes sense for Ian to be more concerned about potential racism than the other characters, but the actor's race isn't otherwise highlighted.

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Froborr 2 years, 12 months ago

I really liked this one.

I enjoyed the scene of the white police officer harassing the black kids, because hey, that's what cops do, at least when they're not shooting the black kids instead.

The Doctor's "P.E." thing was a little uncomfortable. Yes, it's about the Doctor's distrust of soldiers, but it's still an upper-class white man pretending to be lower-class and refusing to accept that a lower-class black man--no matter how caring and intelligent he has consistently been depicted to be--is anything but a thug.

But depiction is not endorsement. Capaldi plays the "P.E. teacher" thing with the same sort of prickly confusion that he brings to his lines about Clara's appearance, and of course Pink HAS been consistently portrayed as an intelligent, sensitive, and caring man, as unlike your typical P.E. teacher as it's possible to be.

And of course it's just setup for Pink to get his own, in that absolutely glorious scene in which he calls out the Doctor as an officer, which is to say for being a privileged upper-class twit who expects to be obeyed because of who he is without bothering to try to earn respect first. It's a glorious scene, played brilliantly by all three actors, and I think surpasses Rory's speech about how dangerous the Doctor is as my favorite instance of a companion giving the Doctor a much-deserved dressing down.

So yeah, this was fantastically acted, tightly written, funny, and delivered some great new characterization for all three of the principals (pun intended). Clara has finally emerged with a distinct, fully formed personality! Pink is developing into something really interesting! The Doctor continues to be an entertaining asshole!

Haven't rewatched anything yet, so this is tentative, but I think this might have been my favorite of the season so far.

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C. 2 years, 12 months ago

the other thing I found a bit wince-causing (though it's obvious it was not the writers' intent) was the Doctor approving of Clara's relationship with a white, posh-seeming man and being hostile to her relationship with a black man. Yes, of course it was meant to show up the Doctor as being vain and approving Clara dating a human version of him, and his disapproval of pink is about Pink's ex-profession. But the optics of it---Doctor visibly delighting in a Clara/white guy pairing and pissed off that she's actually with a black ex-soldier---are not great, to put it mildly.

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BerserkRL 2 years, 12 months ago

You're meant to accept that Picard or Bartlet have come up with the best answer. You're meant to *like* them. The drumbeat behind every American show, without exception, is deference and obedience. If not to the state - and it's usually to the state - then to the family.

Which character in, e.g., Battlestar Galactica is clearly always right and never abuses authority?

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Daru 2 years, 12 months ago

Ok thanks Phil. Myself I do not think at all that the UK is racially enlightened, I live in Scotland where race problems are often through the absence of a wider mix of race (yes I am white).

I'll take it on the chin if I am blind because of privilege, but I just when I was watching I got a different hit from the scene as being about Danny's physical prowess. Now I won't defend myself as I am happy to be more than wrong in my responses.

Love the episode by the way!

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BerserkRL 2 years, 12 months ago

Seriously?? I'm surprised that you're surprised -- since after the "Deep Breath" scene I expected Courtney to be a recurring character, and indeed she has been. In "Into the Dalek" Courtney makes fun of the secretary for flirting with Danny. In "Listen" Clara complains about Courtney to Danny; and Courtney is the one responsible for the face-too-wide remark. Then of course she's back again in "The Caretaker."

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Iain Mew 2 years, 12 months ago

It's not a question of why the characters acted as they did within the story. It's a question of decisions to create those characters and put them in those situations, which exist in a wider context of the programme, UK TV (where ethnic minority characters are under-represented) and a society full of institutional racism. You can set up a situation which is perfectly justifiable in the story but still has the effect of reinforcing existing prejudices.

Personally I took the police scene as a commentary on the well-known racial bias of the police and a good thing! (I didn't feel like I was meant to be on his side in that scene)

I also thought that although Danny didn't mention race, his scene confronting the Doctor was affected by the strong likelihood that his officers would also have been white, as well as upper class. That was enough of an implied response against the Doctor's apparent prejudices to make the earlier scenes less uncomfortable in retrospect than if the Doctor had never been confronted. I can see why people would think differently there though.

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TheSmilingStallionInn 2 years, 12 months ago

Definitely something could be made out of the Skovotz Blitzer being a robot.

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BerserkRL 2 years, 12 months ago

That's a German U-Boat commander's deck coat -- an officer's uniform.

That's why the Dalek tells him "you would make a good Dalek." He was confused by his uniform.

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BerserkRL 2 years, 12 months ago

I wonder if Lauren Cooper is in this school somewhere.

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Monicker 2 years, 12 months ago

I don't think that frock coats, waistcoats and cravats were exclusively the dress of the aristocracy. In the nineteenth century, plenty of middle class men could have dressed like that, without coming across as unusual or remarkable.

Hartnell especially... he wears a black jacket, checked trousers, a shirt, a waistcoat and a floppy tie... someone working in an office in the Victorian and Edwardian eras could have gone to work dressed like that and probably not looked particularly out of place.

They were aspirational sort of clothes, I'll agree, hence the comment about middle classness earlier, I think that describing all the costumes as simply 'aristocratic' is narrowing the scope a little too much though.

Pertwee and Colin Baker's have a Dandyish quality that recalls the likes of Brummell or Disraeli to some extent, yes... and perhaps also James Bond, Adam Adamant and Jason King in the case of the former too... so there are upper class roots, often of the pop-cultural kind.

I think also there's the angle of non-conformist eccentricity, similar to someone like, say, Viv Stanshall. Applies quite strongly with Tom Baker's kind of costumes, which are more of a mix of college boy casualness and an artist favouring a loose and over the top flamboyance.

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Monicker 2 years, 12 months ago

I'd also say that Matt Smith's costume, at least with the tweed jacket, is a bit like that of a professor or lecturer of a certain era. It was a similar sort of image to Frank Muir.

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TheSmilingStallionInn 2 years, 12 months ago

Personal Favorite Rankings:

Listen
Robot of Sherwood
The Caretaker
Deep Breath
Into the Dalek
Time Heist

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Daru 2 years, 12 months ago

Just for fun - ranked episodes so far:

1. Listen
2. The Caretaker
3. Deep Breath
4. Into the Dalek
5. Robot of Sherwood
6. Time Heist

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David Anderson 2 years, 12 months ago

Yes - Lance Parkin's generalisation, while it may work as a description of trends is clearly false when you add 'without exception' to it. I think he's right about The West Wing, which is utopian only if you strictly limit the range of what is thinkable. But there are quite enough counterexamples already on the thread (macgregor is right about Spooks on the UK side).

Something like Dollhouse is interesting in that it plays with the protagonists are obviously working for the good guys in the first four episodes. Agents of SHIELD tries the same trick, although you might think it leaves it a little late to explain what it's really up to (it suffers in that it has to let Captain America have the big reveal).

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BerserkRL 2 years, 12 months ago

Yes, Tom Baker's costume and manner suggest "Bohemian" above all, Of course the Bohemian style began in largely upper and upper-middle class circles, but it spread across class lines somewhat over time.

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Ed Azad 2 years, 12 months ago

All of the Doctors qualify for what we'd call "limousine liberals". They like to keep up the pretense of being men of the people.

Capaldi captures that, I think, rather well with his delivery of "certainly not". Rarely has the Doctor exhibited such pride in his breeding and background. We've seen him waxing nostalgic over Gallifrey, but only after he couldn't go back. This is a new side to him and one worth exploring.

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BerserkRL 2 years, 12 months ago

To me West Wing is a nightmarish dystopia; but then I'm an anarchist.

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Aylwin 2 years, 12 months ago

The UK racial culture described by some in this comment thread does sound remarkable, and quite likely out of reach for the US, at least for a very long time.

I wouldn't worry too much about that - it's basically not true. In general, I think most people agree that the US is a lot better at accommodating immigration than Britain (or anywhere else in Europe, for that matter). And as Phil observes, in party-political terms the atmosphere is getting worse rather than better.

In terms of television and film specifically, it's noticeable that most non-white British actors with enough profile to get work there spend an awful lot of their time working in the US these days...

There are one or two grains of truth to the upbeat portrayal, though, and this story could be said to photograph the country on the better side of its face in that regard. British society probably is more relaxed than some about mixed-race relationships, at least where the white and African-Caribbean populations are concerned. While the latter is generally one of the least well-off groups economically and has particular social problems, the cultural barriers between them and the white population are low, social mingling is very extensive and there are extremely high levels of mixed partnership, such that those two groups can reasonably be expected to merge into one another in a matter of decades. The frequency of mixed relationships involving other non-white minority groups is very low, though the barriers there are as much religious as anything else.

The story is also set in London, which has a phenomenally diverse population and which despite racial tensions (notably between young black men and the largely white police), can most days do a passable imitation of multicultural harmony, or at least amicable coexistence. Most other racially-mixed parts of the country tend rather to self-segregation and mutual resentment.

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Nyq Only 2 years, 12 months ago

The line "I thought you were from Blackpool!" made me laugh so hard my drink went up my nose.

The Doctor being a bit of a git: I thought that was the point. The Doctor is shown to have prejudices (although not racial ones - well his anti-human prejudices are racial in a sense...) We aren't meant to approve of the Doctor's numerous anti-PE teacher put downs.

Coal Hill: While it seemed a bit small to be a secondary school, overall it felt like an authentic portrayal of a school in the East End (within the bounds a silly story about cybernetic war machines)

Courtney: A great extra character. Naughty enough for people to see how she might thoroughly exasperate her teachers but not obnoxious, stupid or thuggish.

Samuel Anderson: gets to shine again.

Pure entertainment - funnier than The Lodger.

Nethersphere sequence: no idea what to make of that.

Robots/cyborgs: every episode so far (although only a brief appearance in Listen)

1. Listen/The Caretaker
2. Deep Breath
3. Time Heist
4. Into the Dalek
6. Robots of Sherwood - the only humdrum episode so far.

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Lance Parkin 2 years, 12 months ago

"I would take the various comments suggesting that the UK is an enlightened post-racial society where nobody "sees race""

No one has said that.

It's not a question of the UK being 'more evolved', or the US being 'more evolved'. They're different. The history, legal framework, economic circumstances and even the imperatives of network television drama are all different.

Race relations, in both countries, are extremely nuanced. An American watching a British TV show is essentially translating it. Extreme nuance is the first thing to go in translation. This is, I think, an example of mistranslation. That's all.

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Lance Parkin 2 years, 12 months ago

"Which character in, e.g., Battlestar Galactica is clearly always right and never abuses authority?"

I got two and a half episodes into the new Battlestar Galactica. I just thought it was a mess.

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Spacewarp 2 years, 12 months ago

I feel a bit bad about causing this to kick off a bit. My comment was really aimed at Phil's noticing of what appeared to be the Doctor specifically noticing Danny's race. My feeling is that the UK has kind of moved on from a purely "black" issue, mainly because Black and Carribean members of UK society have been pretty much integrated over the last 20 years or so. This may well be my own perception of things as I've grown up with people of Carribean descent since my teens and I just see them as part of the British culture that I live in. There is terrible racism in the UK, but it seems to have progressed from "the blacks" towards "the muslims" via "the Irish". As a culture we seem to demonise certain races in each decade. In the 70s if someone spoke with an Irish accent you kind of assumed they were a terrorist. Now that mantle has been passed to anyone with an Asian (Indian) accent who has a beard and appears to be Islamic. I fully expect in 20 years or so that Islam will become a non-issue, but that we will move on to the next immigrant race that we love to hate. It seems to be just the way that human beings are, helpfully fuelled by whichever political party happens to be in power and how they can progress their own agenda by riding the latest wave of religious or racial disquiet. I try to do my own bit by pointing out cases where I don't think racism exists, and I apologise to any US commentators if I've made comments about your country where I've got it wrong. Racism and xenophobia seems to be hard-wired into the human psyche, and I think the best we can do is recognise it in ourselves and our culture and do our best to sit back and think twice about how it has affected us all personally. Growing up through the 70s and 80s I'm not perfect, but I try each day to rise above my inherent prejudices, and at the end of the day it's the best we can all do.

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Spacewarp 2 years, 12 months ago

I'll be honest, I've let my Whovian side slip a bit, and I haven't re-watched at lot of this series. Moffat's obviously got plans for Courtney and a good thing too because she's a watchable actor.

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jauntyalan 2 years, 12 months ago

I don't think in the first instance Phil was saying the doctor does notice it. (he later confirms this in a comment "For my part, I didn't notice it at all until the second watching")

You were reacting to ""I’m not quite sure about the white Doctor assuming the black man can only be a P.E. teacher, though. I know it’s written and played as being entirely about how Danny is a soldier…"

And that 2nd half of the sentence is pretty clear that the character 'The Doctor" and indeed anyone engaged with the story and his character will also not notice it (as did you, me, Phil and doubtless the majority of viewers.)

The cognitive dissonance the Dr is experiencing it is made abundantly clear is "soldier!=maths teacher". BUT, for the here-and-now viewer it's relevant to comment that the situation presented is in some sense playful - EVEN IF the dialog was never rewritten post casting. (It is not about, perish the thought, intention - just the selfish viewer - but admit it, it would be interesting to know if the writing had been done over to overload our responses so well to guide us past all this.)

That the scene is about two characters with different prejudices - neither racial in tone - only adds to the relevance/playfullness/comment-worthiness of the scene.

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jauntyalan 2 years, 12 months ago

(signing in and editing comments here isn't great is it?)

I failed to correct that to "It looks like you were reacting to the 1st sentence" and "But the 2nd sentence following". Otherwise I look too rude and presumptuous (of what happened!) and mistaken that there were 2 sentences at all :-(

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Alex 2 years, 12 months ago

It's worth noting that, costume-wise, Capaldi's look is very much a working class look, especially that done-up top button with no tie - I saw a few young lads sporting that look at the social club I used to work at a couple of years back.

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macrogers 2 years, 12 months ago

I just want to come back to this thread, long after everyone's moved on, because that seems like a great use of time. I watched "Caretaker" again, and Phil's totally right that the big headline should be the interesting stuff the show's doing (and may yet do) with Danny and Courtney more than the bullet points I and others have mentioned - though those points were still worth mentioning. So much of the American headspace/bandwidth (and by extension *my* headspace/bandwidth) right now is so packed with Ferguson and its echoes across the US that this stuff tends to jump to the fore. And likely none of it was on Moffat's, Roberts', or the casting department's minds when putting "The Caretaker" together. Part of me regrets bringing up those points without writing more general thoughts on the episode first, which despite what it looks like on this thread, I 97% loved. I think when I visit this blog, a lot of times I'm in the TARDIS Eruditorum mentality, where I'm thinking more about Doctor Who as a cultural force bouncing off different contexts in different ways rather than as a weekly show where I'm giving thumbs up or down. My OP comment here was intended as one element of the story's cultural context I thought worth discussing on by far the safest Doctor Who discussion site of which I'm aware, not as my verdict on its quality. But as far as the latter goes, watching it a second time confirms how fantastic it is on nearly every level. When I think of episodes 2, 4, and 6 as one developing inter-personal and celestial epic, I get very excited for the possibilities.

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unnoun 2 years, 12 months ago

@Spacewarp: "I try to do my own bit by pointing out cases where I don't think racism exists"

You. Do not. Have. That Right.

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Matthew Blanchette 2 years, 12 months ago

"Have I that right?"

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unnoun 2 years, 12 months ago

No. You do not.

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unnoun 2 years, 12 months ago

I don't think anyone's mentioned the bit at the end where it zooms in on the "officers and cars respond to all calls" bit on the Police Box sign. I liked that bit. It was a nice bit.

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Nicholas 2 years, 12 months ago

"And I do suspect this is mostly Roberts - I think Moffat was probably mostly just nipping and tucking at the character bits for Danny."

I'm surprised you said this, this is the first episode of Doctor Who that I thought really evoked Chalk.

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BerserkRL 2 years, 12 months ago

I got two and a half episodes into the new Battlestar Galactica. I just thought it was a mess.

Well, a show where everyone abuses authority and no one is clearly always right is going to seem a bit of a mess. That's why BSG was the best new sf show in many many years.

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Lance Parkin 2 years, 12 months ago

"Well, a show where everyone abuses authority and no one is clearly always right is going to seem a bit of a mess."

I thought it was a bit of an lukewarm mash up of various neocon power and persecution fantasies. It retained the original's Mormon DNA and contempt for peacemakers, glorification of men in uniform over silly civilians and their ludicrous demands to have a say in things, and added layers of Cheney playbook nonsense about 'tough decisions', ie: let's torture all our enemies and send all our friends on suicide missions. And, oh good god, the pompous religious nonsense.

Not to my taste. If it's to yours, that's good. You gained pleasure from something I couldn't, and that means you're up on the deal.

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storiteller 2 years, 12 months ago

I think the "you must be a PE teacher" joke works, though I understand why people would be thrown by it as well. (For my part, I didn't notice it at all until the second watching. I guess I just didn't see Danny as a black man at first glance. Or something.)

I'm American and I didn't notice it at all while watching, but I think it's because my conception of "PE teacher stereotype" is incredibly white. I imagine the stereotypical white Southern meathead jock football coach when I think male PE teacher. Perhaps that's because I grew up in a very suburban school with no black teachers that I can remember, but that's a different perspective from America.

The "shoplifting" comment was weird, especially because the way he said it was dismissive and as if that was a bad thing. The "disruptive influence" conversation was marvelous though.

As for the policeman harassing the black kids, I literally said with a level of glee after he started walking in the building, "Oooh, the racist cop is going to get it!" In the wake of the over-militerized, trigger-happy racist police in the news, having a racist cop zapped by a trigger-happy, militarized robot felt a little more just desserts than if it was some totally random person.

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brownstudy 2 years, 12 months ago

Speaking of bureaucratic afterlives - do check out a 1998 Japanese movie "After Life," all about what happens to the souls before they go to their final destinations. It sets up a set of rules -- you can take only one memory from earth with you to the afterlife, which you can see recreated for you on a movie screen -- and then rings changes on those premises. So much there about narrative, film-making, and, of course, what single memory would you take with you to the afterlife. Great, great movie.

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Alan 2 years, 11 months ago

It's odd, perhaps, but the thing that sticks out most to me from this (very good, IMO) episode was Danny's Olympic quality somersault over the robot at the end. It looked so bizarrely out of place and improbable that (given the themes of the season) I wouldn't be surprised that there's some twist coming that Danny's a robot or cyborg or some damned thing and doesn't know it.

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Spacewarp 2 years, 11 months ago

@unnoun. You. Do not. Have. That Right

I beg your pardon? Are you telling me I don't have the right to say something in conversation, on the Comments section of a blog? Providing I keep within the accepted rules of decency and are not abusive towards other posters, surely I am allowed a modicum of free speech?

Do you accept that in some quarters telling another poster what they can and cannot do (while inserting periods between each word a la "Comic Book Guy") could be considered abusive, unless you are the blog owner or a moderator appointed by such?

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jonathan inge 2 years, 11 months ago

This comment has been removed by the author.

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unnoun 2 years, 11 months ago

You do not have the right to whitesplain. When it comes to issues of racism you have the right to shut up and listen. I'm the mixed race kid of mixed race parents and I grew up in the UK and lived there for twenty years of my life and you cannot tell me that people in the UK don't see or notice whether or not somebody is black.

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Spacewarp 2 years, 11 months ago

OK I'm off of here. I don't come on blogs like this to be told to shut up. Enjoy your life.

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Philip Sandifer 2 years, 11 months ago

If you were expecting that I, as the blog owner and sole moderator, were going to in any way support the use of the term "abusive" to describe unnoun's emphatic but polite observation that it is probably not your place as a white dude to discourse at length on what your culture does and does not "see" in race is, you are sorely mistaken.

Your comments indeed have not crossed over the limits to the freedom of speech I allow people in this comments section. I do not think, however, that this was the specific right unnoun was disputing. I think the right was more a moral right than one based in the technicalities of comments policy. And I'm certainly not going to object to commenters politely telling other commenters that their comments were offensive, ill-advised, and ethically troubled.

And to be honest, I rather think unnoun has the right of this one.

As it were.

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brownstudy 2 years, 11 months ago

The AVClub reviewer liked the episode a lot (http://www.avclub.com/tvclub/doctor-who-caretaker-209787) and spent a good bit of time dealing with the Problem of Clara, namely the question Danny asked her: why does she do it? She's rather like Martha in that, unlike Rose, Donna, and Amy, she had no vacuum in her life that required the Doctor to fill it.

And she does run around like a MPDG in the first 20 minutes and lies to Danny constantly -- what *is* going on with her? The thought that occurred to me is that she resembles the Clara of "Snowmen," leading (and enjoying) a double life because...why? Shades of "Importance of Being Earnest" and Bunburying.

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Whittso 2 years, 11 months ago

This is rather trivial in contrast to the above conversation, but I just wanted to pick up on Carey's point about the 'teenage' doctor... I see what you mean. It's sort of underlined by his goth-style jumper as well.

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Whittso 2 years, 11 months ago

re: Colin Baker's costume it makes me think of the Marquis of Bath. That kind of loud you get away with if you're seriously posh.

I think the central point - the Doctor's clothes move between upper-middle to out-and-out posh - is right. As Alex notes Capaldi's is one of the least upper class we've seen.

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Whittso 2 years, 11 months ago

The Police scene is interesting. It would be not unreasonable in real life, or in the scene for their to be a racist motive, but equally as lasthussar said the mind set could just be 'anti-kid'. That said, I think the idea that automatically school children out of school are 'up to something' or that is justified to assume more than 2 school children together are a problem is a worrying one that I don't think should go without challenge. Of course some kids shoplift and some skive, some bully and some are a nuisance - I don't think we make anything any easier by tarring all children with the same brush.

Also, if that scene was intended as a commentary on racism it was very muted. Which is fine, I guess, not everything has to be rammed down your throat...

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Whittso 2 years, 11 months ago

@nyq only +1 on your listing which I think is the same as mine.

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Scurra 2 years, 11 months ago

Phil, I'm not disputing anything you say here but, as usual, pretty much every argument on the internet turns out to be a definitional argument.
Unless we can all start from the same agreed understanding of what each of us precisely means when we use a certain term (which is, itself hedged around with personal experience that is impossible to encapsulate often even to ourselves), then our misunderstandings are going to massively outweigh our positive conversations. Especially when our own individual "red lines" are not only unique, but often vary from day to day.

However, in this instance, I can't see how unnoun can be seen as making anything other than a statement of personal superiority and seemingly denying another person the right to make any comments about a specific moral issue. To me that seems qualitatively different to politely telling someone that they are ill-informed or whatever. (Especially when couched in apparently sweeping terms by omitting qualifies such as "some" or "most".)

Please don't get me wrong here - I am not suggesting that unnoun's personal experience doesn't give them a unique insight. It's just that it seems moderately clear to me that Spacewarp has a unique insight as well.

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IG 2 years, 11 months ago

Of course there's racism in the UK. I live in a very ethnically-mixed part of London and most of the time people manage to rub along fine, but it would be silly to suggest ethnic tensions don't flare up sometimes, and not always in a straightforward 'white/Other' way. For example, between black and (south) Asian people, or between Muslims and Everyone Else.

Anyway, my girlfriend is mixed-race, and she scorned the idea that there was anything racist in The Caretaker when I put the idea to her. (She enjoyed the episode.) Of course this is one person's view and purely anecdotal evidence, but when it comes to this sort of thing I generally put more weight on the opinion of someone who's actually experienced anti-black racism, than on the opinion of a well-meaning white person who's taking imagined offence on behalf of another group (which I suspect applies to an awful lot of the online complainers).

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Alex 2 years, 11 months ago

I'm a mixed-race Londoner and, on first viewing, didn't see any racism (apart from the bit with the copper hassling the kids, where we're obviously not to meant to sympathise with him).

On second viewing the bit where the Doctor flatly refuses to believe that Danny is a maths teacher did seem a bit more uncomfortable - perhaps because it reminded me of a 'funny' story told to me by some Polish friends where they encountered a black Pole in a bar and found themselves unable to speak Polish to him, because the very idea of a black Pole was so anathema to them. It also reminded me of the small minority of people who refused to accept that I'm English, on account of also being brown.

However, any discomfort from those scenes is washed away by the brilliant way that Danny gets the measure of the Doctor and takes him down a peg or two.

There's plenty of racism about in Britain today. even if a lot of it is more subtle (and often class-based as well) or focused on groups that no one likes such as travellers or Roma peoples, and plenty of problems when it comes to racial representation on British telly, but on the whole Doctor Who (since 2005) has done pretty damn well.

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Alan 2 years, 11 months ago

One possibility (and I haven't decided if it's troubling or not) is that Clara doesn't want Danny to know about the Doctor because she's afraid he'd get jealous, even though she's not attracted to the Doctor in the same way she is to Danny. I have a sense that Danny, like Rory, would disapprove of the girl he loves recklessly endangering her life by continued association with the Doctor and his lifestyle. (Assuming, that is, that Danny does actually love Clara. She said the L-word, while AFAIK, he did not.)

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Alan 2 years, 11 months ago

It is striking to me that since the new show started, the overwhelming majority of companions have had long term interracial romances. Rose and Mickey. Martha and Dr. Whatisname (before she inexplicably ended up with Mickey). For that matter, Martha and her flirtation with Shakespeare and her unrequited love for the Doctor. Donna and BOTH of her fiances. And now Clara and Danny. Also, arguably, the Doctor and River, who was black before regenerating into Alex Kingston.

The UK racial culture described by some in this comment thread does sound remarkable, and quite likely out of reach for the US, at least for a very long time.

Indeed. As I write these words from Oxford, Mississippi, the local story of the day is about the Sons of the Confederacy suing the University of Mississippi to enjoin it from renaming Confederate Drive into something less ... Confederate. A plurality of the state in which I live cheerfully tells telephone pollsters that they would support anti-miscegenation laws. And last spring, two students were expelled for hanging a noose around the statue of James Meredith (the first black student admitted to Ole Miss). I can understand why someone with a particular background and set of personal experiences might find elements of The Caretaker to be racist. It's just that I can't help finding such interpretations to be bizarre against the backdrop of my own life experiences, which includes exhibitions of racism so outrageous that most people here would consider them unrealistic and two-dimensional if they occurred as plot elements on Doctor Who.

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Spacewarp 2 years, 11 months ago

"I really shouldn't need to say this, but telling other posters to sod off is kind of the exclusive privilege of the guy who owns the blog. Everyone else gets to express their disagreement in more polite ways."

But another commentator telling me to shut up and listen is OK I guess. And no Phil I didn't expect you to support my use of the word abusive. But I also didn't expect you to exhibit the double standards you have here. Yeah yeah I know I said I was off, and I am, which is a shame because I do enjoy your blog. I just don't want to get embroiled in any more discussions where my favourite programme is found wanting in terms of sexism and racism. On the one hand Doctor Who is praised for having multi-racial casting, on the other it is castigated when one of those cast members says something to another that is construed as suspect. Sometimes a line of dialog between two people of different genders and races is just that, a line of dialog.

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unnoun 2 years, 11 months ago

For the record, no, as someone that has been on the receiving end of discrimination against dark-skinned people of African descent in the UK, I don't have a problem about The Caretaker's depiction of race. It mostly presents racial bias as subtext, and is critical of it.

But that wasn't exactly the point I was making to begin with. My point was that, first, the UK is definitely not a place where television viewers don't see race, and the idea that criticism of race in British television is just American viewers projecting is awful. And it's also not something white British people really have any business talking about.

[italics]"I just don't want to get embroiled in any more discussions where my favourite programme is found wanting in terms of sexism and racism."[/italics]

I mean, the fact of the matter is that everything can be found wanting in terms of sexism and racism. It's kind of a reality of the world we live in. And, yes, that includes Doctor Who. And I don't think pretending that isn't the case is very productive.

And I think espousing cultural relativist tripe about how it isn't a problem in the UK is something that is incredibly myopic at best.

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encyclops 2 years, 11 months ago

I'd be over the moon if Gareth Roberts took over. Apart from "The Shakespeare Code" (which still was far from awful) I've really enjoyed everything he's done on the programme.

As for the robots, I thought that was interesting as well. You could even make the case for the Dalek as a cyborg (rather than just a blob in a tank); they've been treated as robots often enough. It could be just Phantom Menacing -- it's okay to kill them, they're just machines -- but I'm sure you're right that there's more to it.

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elvwood 2 years, 11 months ago

Late to the party - I only got to see it today, having been away attending a writers' workshop (at Pan Macmillan - it was a prize for the winners of a short story competition) - but I just wanted to say that this was the first story of the season that my wife and I enjoyed significantly more than the children. They both adored Time Heist (and actually I appreciated it more on second viewing because of their enthusiastic presence), but found this to be one of the weaker stories in a strong run.

Everything else I would have said has already been mentioned by other people.

Rankings as of today:

1. Listen
2. Robot of Sherwood
3. The Caretaker
4. Deep Breath
5. Time Heist
6. Into the Dalek

It's a sign of quite how much I'm enjoying this run that the lowest-rated so far is still only a little below my halfway mark for DW TV stories. Early series 5 did almost as well (with, again, the Dalek story trailing, and that one would have been lower still if I hadn't enjoyed the Power pastiche at the start so much), but none of the other series since the revival have come close. Fingers crossed the run continues!

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encyclops 2 years, 11 months ago

Are we thinking Clara = Barbara, Danny = Ian, and Courtney = Susan? I can't see them running with four people in the TARDIS alongside the Twelfth Doctor's gigantic ego for very long, but the idea's fun.

I'm gonna go:

1. The Caretaker
2. Listen
3. Deep Breath
4. Into the Dalek
5. Time Heist
6. Robot of Sherwood

"Listen" is really excellent, but the pure enjoyment factor of a Gareth Roberts script just puts it over the top for me, and I would say it gets in quite as much character development with less glibness. They're very very close, though, and I might change my mind by the end of the season when I see the threads play out.

I still think the soldier thing is very heavy-handed. It's as if, freed from some of the guilt of having been a warrior himself, he's free to direct his self-loathing outward at the real soldiers again, but even that doesn't quite gel for me. I guess we'll see where things end up.

I no longer think Missy is the Master. Which means she'll probably turn out to be.

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Alan 2 years, 11 months ago

I could see a very athletic ex-soldier dodging ray blasts and leaping over the robot. It's a little different to see a character -- who at no point has been flagged as having a background in gymnastics -- execute a near perfect somersault in a way that I'm pretty sure real-life gymnasts couldn't have done without the aid of a trampoline.

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elvwood 2 years, 11 months ago

As someone who is in a position of privilege in most of these cases (white, male, cis, gentile, etc) my goal is to speak up, but with the proviso that

(a) I am prepared to be told I've screwed up, probably quite often, by people who don't share my privilege;
(b) I need to assume they are right when they do so; and
(c) I need to accept that they may well be angry at me for the screw-up.

Oh, and if I don't understand what I've done wrong and ask for clarification, I also need to accept that they may not feel up to giving it - particularly if what I've said or done has been painful. At that point it's best to simply apologise, shut up and try another tack another time. (It's also the case that I might not be able to take in what I've done wrong at the time, being too shook up at having Got It Wrong.)

I kind of feel without doing that, I can't become a better ally. I often don't manage it, frequently resort to silence instead of speaking out. Short-term that's better than spouting something crap, but doesn't really progress anything.

It's an evolving position - I only figured out some of it after getting shook up and defensive after friends got angry with me when I was only trying to help them, goddammit!, and no doubt it will change again - but I hope it's not heading in completely the wrong direction.

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tom jones 2 years, 11 months ago

Writing as someone who's white and middle class, and works in Shoreditch, I've got to agree with unnoun; a couple of the comments from other British posters have been bizarre, frankly.

But ironically, the problem isn't race, it's humour. Apart from the Clara/Danny stuff, just about all the scenes between white and black characters are at least partly played for laughs. And that's not going to change any time soon.

One of the things I've noticed in Phil's blog is that he, and a lot of the non-UK commenters, really don't get how important comedy is in British culture at the moment. And I mean absolutely, all-conquering, vitally important. There often seems to be a real fear of being seen to be too serious in primetime TV. They'll do serious stuff, very serious stuff, but they'll often try to lighten it up; everything has to have the sting taken out. Other countries do this, sure, but not to the extent the UK does.

That scene with the cop is so generically Insert-Your-Cliche-Here - you could watch it with headphones and a blindfold and still recite the dialogue - that I genuinely can't tell if it's meant to show a racist cop or if they wanted to do a fluffy, throwaway little the-jobsworth-gets-what-he-deserves scene and just ended up with both kids being black. I'm guessing the latter.

On the other hand, those two kids should have been in school; they're not going to become English grads by bunking off.

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Lance Parkin 2 years, 11 months ago

"That scene with the cop"

OK ... another thing that's clearly been lost in translation. He's not 'a cop'. He's very clearly, as clearly as can possibly be, as he's *fluorescent yellow and wears a label saying it* a Community Support Officer. This is not some armed, Judge Dredd type, he's basically, in American terms, one down from a mall cop. He wouldn't have a baton, or handcuffs. He probably walked or cycled to his beat. He's not picking on kids as some abuse of power, he's doing exactly what he's meant to be doing, which is basically a truancy patrol and making sure no one's breaking into abandoned buildings. I don't think there is a US equivalent that's quite as ... well, crap. They get guys like that to do truancy patrols precisely *because* no kid could possibly feel threatened by him.

As for an abuse of power, *PCSOs don't even have the power to arrest someone as a policeman*. If they arrest someone, it's a citizen's arrest.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_community_support_officer

Not one person here is saying that Britain has gone beyond racism. But attitudes to race are different. And no one is saying that the police in Britain can't be racist or they've never picked on a black kid, or that the police haven't provoked riots with rough handling of minorities ... but policing *is* different in the UK.

If you equate that scene with Ferguson then you're getting your sums wrong, it's as simple as that. I understand why it would have that resonance to an American viewer, but that's precisely my point - it's a mistranslation. If you want a US equivalent, then riddle me this: which cop in the US would go to prison for ten years for possessing pepper spray? Not using it - having it. Not having it on him, having it at home. OK. *That's* how dangerous this cop is. He's not a faceless stormtrooper, the nearest US equivalent is probably 'hall monitor'.

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Daru 2 years, 11 months ago

Yeah Pen Name Pending - think certainly there's a likelihood of this being foreshadowing.

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Daru 2 years, 11 months ago

Yeah! Loved seeing Courtney again, brilliant character.

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Daru 2 years, 11 months ago

Mm yes "Clara = Barbara, Danny = Ian, and Courtney = Susan" looks really possible. Had already felt the Barbara and Ian vibe going on but had missed Susan in Courtney, so well spotted.

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unnoun 2 years, 11 months ago

...In fairness, looking at the scenes from the episode the character didn't seem to have the "community support officer" label anywhere on his vest. Just the word "police" a few times. One on the front and one on the back.

And I could have sworn that, in some of the (relatively) recent stuff with the riots, I saw police officers wearing fluorescent yellow uniforms and also wielding batons.

...I also remember a thing about a Community Support Officer using his job as a means to target women in order to commit sex offenses. So. I mean, power is power. Abuse is abuse.

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unnoun 2 years, 11 months ago

I mean, fair point otherwise.

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Lance Parkin 2 years, 11 months ago

"...In fairness, looking at the scenes from the episode the character didn't seem to have the "community support officer" label anywhere on his vest."

It says it on his epaulettes:

http://kissthemgoodbye.net/doctorwho/displayimage.php?album=94&pid=126852#top_display_media

It says it on his hat:

http://kissthemgoodbye.net/doctorwho/displayimage.php?album=94&pid=125079#top_display_media

There is no reason for anyone in the US to know what a PCSO is. But that doesn't take away from the fact that if you think that's anything like an American 'cop' (or much like a British one for that matter) it's a serious misinterpretation of what you're looking at.

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unnoun 2 years, 11 months ago

Huh. Okay, I didn't see that, I guess.

I mean, I'm pretty sure the PCSOs aren't the only ones that wear that shade of yellow.

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Philip Sandifer 2 years, 11 months ago

While I agree that comparisons to Ferguson are probably slightly overblown, nothing here is suggesting to me that comparisons to, say, New York City's stop and frisk policy aren't in order. Which is to say, sure, he's not a threat... but the resigned yet defiant "we're on a free period" speaks volumes about the degree to which one suspects the kids he talks to are rarely white.

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Richard Pugree 2 years, 11 months ago

Without wanting to get involved in the above too much (and having only seen the episode once on transmission) just on your last point Phil: speaking as a UK viewer I read the 'free period' line as a cheeky attempt at a lie to get away with bunking off. Kids that age don't generally get free periods - but it's definitely the kind of thing they might try to pull. What you read as 'resigned yet defiant', I interpreted as 'they know they're probably not going to get away with it, but it's worth a try anyway'.

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Alex 2 years, 11 months ago

To be fair, 'stop-and-search' is still a big problem in London, with ethnic minorities overwhelmingly targeted. Under a 'Section 60' search, which is only meant to be used to combat terrorism, the police don't even have to provide 'reasonable grounds'.

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storiteller 2 years, 11 months ago

I don't think it's a direct comparison to Ferguson, so much as something that (perhaps unintentionally) evoked the general issue of the toxic mix of racism, police-like authority figures, and being militarized / trigger-happy.

But no, we don't have anything like that role in the U.S. Even Community Watch folks can carry guns and can even shoot if they can claim it's "self defense" (aka George Zimmerman).

Also, to me, the issue if the kids were really lying or not is irrelevant. The question is if white kids in the same position would be yelled at by the officer or not. Now, it being a fictional universe, there's no way to say. We'd like to think that racism is not an issue in the Doctor Whoinverse. But in the real world, it is far less likely that white kids would have gotten the same treatment.

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Daru 2 years, 11 months ago

Hey storiteller, I can't comment on the US of course, but I think in the UK it is possible for white kids to get the same treatment, especially if a particular school has a 'reputation' for kids regularly bunking off.

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Anton B 2 years, 11 months ago

The kids are in school uniform but are not not in school on a school day. The PCSO is not doing anything like 'stop and search' he's telling a couple of truant kids to get to school. To read this as a 'racist cop hassling two black dudes in the street' is simply to culturally misread the signs.
That this and the Doctor's, exaggerated for comic effect, anti PE teacher attitude has been been the subject of such strongly felt emotional debate here certainly teaches us something about the ways in which dramatic cues can be interpreted through different cultural lenses and in that respect has been worthwhile. I find it sad though that a regular commenter has decided to leave this blog because of the way he was (rightly in my opinion, for what it's worth, but perhaps in the heat of the debate rather impolitely) asked to check his privilege.

I agree that 'whitesplaining' is wrong even when it is motivated by the best of intentions and perhaps some commenters here have veered into that territory. It would be useful to hear from more people of colour in the UK and US as to their reaction to these scenes and whether they found them racist or abusive. I would suggest everyone else keeps their opinions to themselves.

Declaration of interest. I am white cis gendered of Jewish descent whose grandparents were born and brought up in east London near the area where the fictional Coal Hill school is located. I have personally experienced anti semitic, and racist abuse and fought fascism and racism all my life. I have also taught in Secondary schools like 'Coal Hill' and can affirm that the kind of racism claimed to be portrayed here would not be tolerated for a second ether from a caretaker or a PCSO.

I do hope however that Spacewarp will reconsider his decision and return to these boards. I for one will miss his contributions.



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Prandeamus 2 years, 11 months ago

Lauren Cooper? I ain't bovverred tho, is it?

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UrsulaL 2 years, 11 months ago

Why keep her double life secret?

As Victorian Clara said, "you'd never believe me if I told you."

The child Amy bit four psychiatrists, because she insisted that her real experience were real, and no one believed her.

Unless the Doctor was willing to show up and prove she's telling the truth, actually telling the truth will only lead to her being thought delusional.

And Clara has, from the beginning, been someone who likes things orderly, and who kept her chaotic travels with the Doctor strictly separate from her daily life and responsiblities.

And after a while, the double life becomes habit, the need to lie becomes automatic. Which I think is why Danny had such a problem with it - even if he understands that she felt she had to keep her travels secret, lest she be thought insane, constant lies are a really bad way to start a relationship, and this is a problem that needs to be talked through and fixed, if things will ever work out.

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brownstudy 2 years, 11 months ago

Thank you, UrsulaL. That was a wonderful reply. Clara has sort of slipped into this double life and seems to enjoy the frisson of being able to leave whichever one she chooses when she wants/needs to.

I find it interesting that a Caretaker role is assumed by Clara for the Doctor rather joyfully, by the Doctor for Clara (in limited circumstances), and by Danny for Clara (in other circumstances). The Doctor takes care of the Earth as sort of his weary duty, he doesn't really enjoy it. Clara seems to want someone to take care of her in ways the Doctor can't or doesn't, and wants to care for someone in a way that can be reciprocated, but isn't sure how to move forward with that.

Neat episode.

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5tephe 2 years, 11 months ago

An unusual one for me, being a Gareth Roberts script I actually really enjoyed. LOVE the Doctor is an officer bit - nice pick up by Moffat, being an aspect of the character that is obvious and rings true once pointed out, but doesn't feel like it has been brought up before.

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ferret 2 years, 11 months ago

This "officer" business for me points more and more to the possibility that Moffat is going to explore the Doctor's early years and reasons for leaving Gallifrey - because he certainly wasn't an officer in the Time War.

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dr.jimmy72296 2 years, 11 months ago

Have to admit to feeling left out as I seem to be the only one NOT enjoying Series 8.

Seems like every episode either requires you to forget a well established character trait in order to make the slightest bit of sense (Deep Breath, Listen, The Caretaker), or it’s dumb and dull (Into the Dalek, Time Heist) or a completely irredeemable train wreck (Robot of Sherwood).

Moffat’s always been more of a magician than writer as far as I’m concerned. At least on Doctor Who he employs sleight of hand where the dialogue is so snappy that it carries you along and keeps you from realizing that 90 percent of his scripts make absolutely no sense if you stop to think about them for 30 seconds.

Clara’s known every one of the Doctor’s incarnations but in Deep Breath she’s horrified that he’s old and cranky?

The Doctor, who counted the Brigadier among his closest friends, hates soldiers?

The Doctor has spent roughly 2000 years in the company of human women, married two (River, Elizabeth), and wanted to marry at least one other (Rose), maybe two (Reinette) suddenly has no idea what high heels and makeup are, and thinks Clara looks as old as he does?

Everyone here is arguing over whether the Doctor thinking Danny is a PE teacher is racist because Danny is black, even though that obviously wasn’t the intent. But the actual intent is just as ugly. Prejudice is prejudice. Danny’s not even a soldier anymore. There are undoubtedly people watching the show though who have parents, siblings, or friends in Afghanistan or Iraq and are probably hoping Doctor Who will give them 40 or so minutes a week where they don’t have to think about whether they’ll ever see those people again. Instead they get to hear how bad those people are.

And what happened to the sand piranhas? Since they’re on the moon next week I’m guessing how they got out of those chains will be left to the imagination just like how they escaped the Doctor’s time stream on Trenzalore at the the end of Name of the Doctor.

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Katherine Sas 2 years, 9 months ago

"The thought that occurred to me is that she resembles the Clara of "Snowmen," leading (and enjoying) a double life because...why? Shades of "Importance of Being Earnest" and Bunburying."

YES. That is a gorgeous comparison, and you're right that she's back to her roots as Victorian governess Clara (which was Moffat's original concept for the character, so it makes sense that he's steered her back there.)

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theHamstertronic 2 years ago

Only watched this episode 11 months later, but thanks, Dr. Jimmy. I was amazed no one was noticing these things.

I'd like to add one: perhaps the most defining trait of the Doctor, through every incarnation, is his endless welcoming curiosity. He seeks to learn about everybody and persuade every enemy; he's even kind to monsters, given any kind of chance ("Curse of Peladon", "the Creature in the Pit", "Frontios", even as recently as the dinosaur in "Deep Breath" when he was still unstable). He spends half his life trying to charm the people busy jailing him. Suddenly, Capaldi is playing a nasty, abrasive, dismissive bigot.

Capaldi is doing a wonderful acting job, but his character is not the Doctor. "The Lodger" starred Matt Smith playing the Doctorest Doctor ever. "The Caretaker", by the same writer, is every bit as tight and well-written a script, but its central character is so close to opposite that I'm trying to figure out whether I actively hate it.

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theHamstertronic 2 years ago

(And no, I didn't mean "bigot" racially. He was just as instantly, nastily intolerant to Robin Hood, say. Amusing-ish. But nothing like the Doctor as I know him.)

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hari 1 year ago

good Kodi formerly known as XBMC is an award-winning free Kodi Fusion the programs into iDevices, we will be applying the same nice.

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TommyR01D 12 months ago

I'm going to throw my support behind dr.jimmy72296 and say that Series 8 was mediocre bordering on poor overall. In particular I found that Listen was extremely pretentious with an ill-considered ending. The romance of Clara and Danny did not enthuse me at all as I found both of their characters to be very badly written and just generally uninteresting.

I also found the arc about the Doctor hating soldiers to be just as pointless and stupid as the Ponds' divorce sub-plot in Asylum of the Daleks, except that it didn't even have the decency to die a quick death.

As for the supposed racism - I barely even remember the police scene. Posters here are making far too much out of it.

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