They'd Still Be Tapping Out Gibberish (Time Heist)

(43 comments)

"So despite the fact that the best known heist movie is called Ocean's Eleven and you're the twelfth Doctor, they called it Time Heist."

"I don't want to talk about it. Keep slow walking."

It’s September 20th, 2014. Calvin Harris and John Newman are at number one with “Blame,” with Ten Walls , Chris Brown, and Taylor Swift also charting. Since Listen bowed, the main news is that after a dramatic last minute intervention in which David Cameron, Nick Clegg, and Ed Miliband issued a joint statement called “The Vow” promising further devolution, Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom, to the massive relief of Cameron, who probably would have had to resign or something if he’d called a big showy referendum like that and then lost it. Microsoft paid two billion dollars to purchase the company that created Minecraft, while a man with a knife jumped the fence at the White House and made it to the East Room before being subdued, which is rather further than you’re supposed to get doing that.

While on television, the Doctor robs a whole bank in Series Eight’s weakest episode. There are two big things sabotaging Time Heist. The first is simply that it comes after Listen. For the most part the question of whether the ultra-cautious approach that characterizes the first half of the season was a good idea is fairly uninteresting; by and large this approach worked, and there’s no real way to know what a different approach would have looked like. But after Listen it clearly became unnecessary, and moving from the confident triumph Listen to another “safe pair of hands” script that’s running on old standards doesn’t feel cautious, it feels timid. This, of course, was unavoidable. In the planning stages, there was no way to know when the turning point for Capaldi’s Doctor would be and thus how many episodes of bedding in he was going to need. So there was always the risk of staying cautious for too long.

The other problem is that Time Heist is crap, and this was entirely avoidable. Stephen Thompson has never been a particularly compelling safe pair of hands; neither Curse of the Black Spot nor Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS were particularly good, and indeed a pretty strong case can be made that they were bad. And despite Moffat apparently performing rewrites, this does nothing to surpass those expectations. Indeed, it sails noticeably below them. Thompson’s previous two efforts were weak but at least suggestive of interesting possibilities. Whenever Time Heist comes to a moment in which it should signify something, however, it draws a curious and frustrating blank.

The problems start with the supporting cast. Psi and Saibra have essentially no traits other than their plot functions. They’re one dimensional characters, stretching from the one thing they can do in the heist to the one thing they want, with no further depth whatsoever. Psi is a hacker who wants his memories back. Saibra is a shapechanger who wants to not be a shapechanger. There’s nothing else there. Worse, these traits are simply told to the audience in dialogue, as though Thompson literally just copied the one-line character descriptions from his pitch into the script and called it characterization. On top of this, the traits don’t even make a ton of sense. Saibra’s explanation for wanting to be cured of her abilities, “could you trust someone who looked back at you out of your own eyes,” is just intense dialogue trying desperately to cover the fact that it’s not actually saying anything.

An even more frustrating blank comes around Clara, who is reduced to being an empty peril monkey in a way she basically never is anywhere else in the Capaldi era. Her only contribution to the plot is getting threatened by the Teller. And there’s no real reason to it. When it scans her, we cut to some weird stuttering close-ups of her, but it’s not clear what these are meant to represent. We’re told the Teller is locking in on her guilt, but the story gives no sense of why she has more of it than anyone else on the heist, or what she’s guilty about. (And how on earth does the Doctor, with his millennia of sorrows, not have more guilt? If Psi can aggro the Teller by looking at some pictures of bank robbers, the Butcher of Skull Moon ought to be pulling him from across the bank.) Again, it’s just an empty cipher of storytelling that’s declaring dramatic stakes it’s not even trying to earn.

I could continue. There is, after all, a bewildering lack of sane construction here. The fake-out where Delphox turns out to be a clone of Madame Karabraxos does not seem to have any purpose other than having Keeley Hawes playing a different character for most of the story than the one the actual drama hinges on. There’s no reason why Delphox needs to be a different character from the bank director, and if she weren’t then we’d actually be invested in the character enough to care about her face turn at the end. Instead we get one of the most bewildering wastes of a great guest actor in series history. And there’s tons of little idiocies like this. A great fuss is made about the fact that the Doctor has hated the architect from the beginning, and yet the first declaration that he does is around halfway through the episode. The solar storm upon which the heist hinges isn’t brought up until the 2/3 mark. And, perhaps most bewilderingly, the resultant declaration that this is a time travel heist is treated as a major revelation despite it literally being the title, which, at 28:30, actually manages to beat all of Terry Nation’s “oh no there are Daleks in a story with Daleks in the title” cliffhangers for time-wasting. This is just a lazily cobbled together bunch of set pieces and reveals with no interest in the structure of setup and payoff. Indeed, it falters even as a heist, failing to have any of the baroque complexity or brisk competence porn that constitute the genre’s main pleasures.

Worsening the problem is Douglas Mackinnon. We’ve previously engaged in a lot of damning with faint praise with him, suggesting that he’s an unremarkable and workmanlike director. But here he’s just plain bad. His attempt to reuse the same corridor set as multiple locations by throwing different lighting gels on it and cutting among them is one of the most pathetic uses of corridors in the entire series, which is frankly a breathtaking bar to trip over. And that’s just the most blatant example in what is generally a shockingly dull bank. There’s the pointless top-down shot while they’re fussing over the dimensional shift bomb, which actively encourages the script’s tendency to disengage from the characters. There’s the slow walk set piece in which the main character is pushed into the background and the primary focus is on the old white guy Saibra shapshifted into. The script is lifeless enough on its own, but Mackinnon seems determined to throw a wet blanket on it any time it even considers sparking.

What makes all of this emptiness infuriating, though, is the overwhelming sense that it shouldn’t have to be this way. Not just in the sense that after Listen we should have moved straight into the interesting half of the season, but in the sense that “heist movie” is a great genre for Doctor Who to invade. As we noted with Robot of Sherwood, the Doctor fits nicely into the grand tradition of heroic criminals. The heist movie—a genre that’s defined by such heroes—is thus obviously long on possibilities; robbing it is literally the only thing it makes sense for the Doctor to do with a bank. And given the inherent clever ostentation of a heist, Moffat’s idea of a time traveling heist (which he then handed off to Thompson) is self-evident gold.

Beyond that, though, this is just a really good idea. In 2014, banks are just a really good thing to put the Doctor up against. Inasmuch as Doctor Who is a history of Britain’s cultural concerns, an evil bank was just something that had to be done around now. Even aside from my obvious political investment in the idea, the increasing mainstreaming of anticapitalism meant that a story like this was an inevitability in the same way that evil corporations were in the 1980s and conformist squares were in the 1960s. A story about robbing a bank owned by the richest person in the galaxy to undo the brutal exploitation of an alien should burn with the furious brilliance of Planet of the Ood or The Happiness Patrol or The Sunmakers; it should be an impossible idea to screw up. And yet we get a story that can’t be bothered to actually be about anything.

There’s a pleasantly devastating phrase that I think Jack originated—visual Big Finish—that applies to stories like this. And it’s easy to imagine Big Finish making many of the storytelling decisions here. Psi and Saibra, in particular, are crap in almost the exact way Big Finish usually is. But for the most part, this is the rare story that probably would have been improved if it had come out of Big Finish. They can at least be bothered to do a basic Chekov’s Gun setup, and they are mercifully minimalist in their use of lighting gels. And more to the point, as a Big Finish release it could have just been politely forgotten in the way that Fiesta of the Damned, Moonflesh, and City of Spires are.

It’s not, obviously, that this is the first completely uninspired and pointless episode of Doctor Who ever made, nor is it the last. But generally there’s a reason for insipid phone-in jobs—they generally come as an era is running out of steam and the people making the show lack the energy to do anything other than the obvious. When they come at the beginning of an era, it’s generally a sign of an era that’s going to have an ongoing quality control problem. But at first glance neither of those apply here. There are a handful of exceptions—Revenge of the Cybermen is probably the most obvious. But usually when the show completely gives up on even trying early on it’s a sign of trouble to come. Except, obviously, this isn’t.

No, what we have here is a subtly different kind of bomb—the holdover from a previous era. Like The Highlanders or Time and the Rani, this is basically a script that belongs with the previous era. And more to the point, like both of those stories it’s a script that specifically embodies the tendencies that the new era is looking to move beyond. It’s ironic that Moffat has a co-writing credit here, because it fits seamlessly with his tendency in the late Matt Smith era to not really pay attention to most of the episodes that don’t have his name on them. More than anything else in Series 8, this feels like a reskinned Matt Smith episode. Indeed, the bank heist is probably more suited to Smith, who would look entertainingly out of place in one, than Capaldi, who is too cool and composed at baseline to make it feel like a particularly Doctor Who-ish heist. In two episodes time, Moffat will start uncovering the pool of writers that will actually define the Capaldi era. But this is not only basically a Smith episode with the Doctor rewritten to be crankier, it’s a crap Smith episode.

Does anything justify this exercise? I suppose there needed to be an episode of Clara and Danny dating to establish a baseline for The Caretaker. The Teller is one of the best alien designs of the new series. “Robbing a whole bank” is a decent laugh of a line. But for the most part, this is an episode that defies the idea that missing episodes are a bad thing; if this vanished from the archives, at least people would have something to wonder about.

Comments

Ciaran M 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Gosh, this ripping into Mackinnon is fun, hey? If we're looking at him in terms of other Moffat era directors, and in terms of his camera shots and lighting, he's certainly no worse than most of them. And I very much have a soft spot for his caustic lighting of the Sontaran Strategem(though I have very big soft spots for both Helen Raynor's two parters anyway). Give me workmanlike over the psuedo-film experience of Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon any day.

I also think someone in the original comments pointed out that this story has the visual grammar of a video game. I've never been bothered to rewatch it- because why would you- but that seems like some fun and creative flair in bland-as-batshit story.

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William Shaw 4 months, 3 weeks ago

There really is very little to say about this one, isn't there?

Random note: I love the obscurity of the three Big Finish titles picked to represent their output - that's a very nice literary device, and prompted me to google the titles myself. That none of them looked particularly noteworthy is an excellent, interactive demonstration of your point.

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Scriptscribbles 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I, of course, have heard all three.

Fiesta of the Damned starts somewhat interesting, then falls promptly apart into dreadful.

Moonflesh is a dreadful piece of indigenous American exoticism notable only because it introduces an entirely unlikeable big game hunter character who is suggested in the interviews to be a lesbian and who inexplicably returns for two further stories.

City of Spires is extremely mediocre, but unlike the other two, I'd call it a must-hear because it sets up the truly amazing Wreck of the Titan and Legend of the Cybermen. I just wish, you know, it was actually good itself. Has Georgia Tennant in it, though. That's always a fun fact.

Yeah, God, I've become a critical encyclopedia of mediocre Doctor Who audios. Oh dear.

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Prole Hole 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I hope you will all forgive the self-plug, but on the subject of Big Finish I (and my co-host!) have a podcast on those very people - it's called Talking Who To You and it's available in all the usual podcast-y places (iTunes, Soundcloud, etc). I'm the Scottish sounding one, and we seem to be somewhat out of step with fandom when it comes to covering recent releases, particularly things like the First Doctor box set, which received near-universal praise despite being often not very good. Anyway, we were, in the episode we just recorded on Flip Flop (it'll go up in a couple of weeks), lamenting that Big Finish simply don't take gambles on interesting experiments like that any more, which is a terrible shame. They are still capable of turning out brilliant stuff (the "Signs" episode in the first volume of The Diary Of River Song, for example), but it seems very much to be the exception rather than the rule, and the main range has been unspeakably bland for a while now. I do wonder if there's a commercial imperative there - if the "running up and down x 4 episodes" or "here's another stompy-stompy baddie from your childhood x 4 episodes" stuff sells better than the more daring stuff BF used to give time to earlier in their history then it's understandable why we get more stories of that ilk, but if that's true, it doesn't speak very highly of Doctor Who fans. I do also firmly believe that Big Finish produce way too much material now, and from a comparatively small pool of writers, the result of which is a large amount of material (and, we can assume, financial returns - they are a business after all) but little of which is especially memorable or creative.

Anyway here's the Soundcloud link. Please feel free to delete, El, if I overstep myself.

https://soundcloud.com/user-550680739

Great to hear some love for Wreck of the Titan and Legend of the Cybermen - the latter of which is just beyond amazing (is there even any point in mentioning just how stunning Colin Baker is there?).

As for Time Heist - well there's a reason I haven't said anything about it, because what's to say? Stuff happens. None of it's compelling. Next!

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Scriptscribbles 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm not sure I'd call Flip-flop a very interesting experiment, to be honest. It's a structural gimmick, but the content is pretty predictable, and the Slithergees are dreadful.

Agreed on the First Doctor set though, and said as much in my own piece on it. The Master story was okay in spite of itself, but the historical was flaccid.

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Prole Hole 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Oh yes, I mean certainly it's a gimmick that's for sure, but it's an extraordinarily intricate one nonetheless (compare and contrast to Creatures Of Beauty, which is a better overall play while still playing with structure). The Sligergee are unbelievably terrible though, you'll get no argument from me/us there.

Flaccid is an excellent description of the First Doctor historical (The Great White Hurricane). It's incredibly tepid and uninspiring. And, though I in no way think we actually need a story where the First Doctor meets the Master, at least The Destination Wars features a good guest turn and at some attempt at working with the era, rather than simply settling for recreating it.

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Gareth Roberts 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Big Finish do have a particularly unique ability to conjure up premises that often quite interesting and then promptly turn them into extremely anodyne pieces of sci-fi. The Nowhere Place is a particular example of this. The story's major concept is essentially a race that used to inhabit the alien race and was catapulted into a parallel universe of some description in a space travel accident is trying to trp humanity there as well out of spite. To me it epitomises everything Big Finish have ever done by taking a clever idea to the point it becomes ludicrous, and welding it to a plot that is crushingly dull.

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A Cat in A Hat 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Just to clarify I am not the Gareth Roberts who wrote "The Caretaker" (much to my own relief) before anyone deletes my comments...I just accidentally posted under my own name...

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Elizabeth Sandifer 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I mean, he's not banned from posting here or anything, but yeah, you'll want to be careful about that next week. ;)

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Scriptscribbles 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Agreed on all fronts there.

I'm honestly flabbergasted by Great White Hurricane. There's so much character work you can do with the original crew thrown into a survival situation; indeed, that's what most of early Hartnell does. A historical natural disaster is a great approach. But instead, it's basically set dressing for two generic save the human maguffin plots with no sense of stakes. Horribly miscalculated.

But yeah, Destination Wars at least got the era and how to comment on it from our time, despite the utterly inexplicable Master.

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Elizabeth Edwards 4 months, 2 weeks ago

From the DownTime post: "I don’t quite adore everything about these two stories, but these two stories signify a fantastic new approach for Big Finish to go in in representing one of my favorite eras." Has it simply aged poorly?

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Scriptscribbles 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I can't speak for my cowriter who liked Hurricane, but I found it quite a weak story at the time. Destination Wars offered a good model for how to do the range though, and there's a couple elements in Hurricane that should have been good.

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CJM123 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I think that this era of Doctor Who tried to put the rad and trad next to each other in the schedule so not to lose everyone.

Sometimes it works very well, with The Caretaker, Kill the Moon and Mummy on the Orient Express working well from a purely structural point of view. Sometimes one half is notably miles better than the other, such as Flatline and In the Forests of the Night, or Sleep No More and Face the Raven. And of course, if Toby Whithouse has the trad episodes after the rad episodes, just walkaway.

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Kat 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Interesting theory. I'll be looking for that alternating structure now on rewatch.

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Homunculette 4 months, 3 weeks ago

It's intetesting that Mackinnon has seemingly become El's bugbear over the past two posts. He's not as good as Nick Hurran or Rachel Talalay, but I think he tends to elevate the episodes he directs - Cold War, Listen, and Flatline in particular are all significantly better for Mackinnon's direction.

This is an episode (to return to the Marcelo Camargo days) that looked better in black and white. I agree the corridor lighting doesn't look good, but Thompson writes him into a corner by setting such a huge chunk of the script in corridors for no real reason.

To me this falls into the same trap as A Town Called Mercy - both are tedious genre exercises that make absolutely no attempt to understand the genres they're working in.

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Elizabeth Sandifer 4 months, 3 weeks ago

He became a bugbear in the reviews—I gently chide him in Cold War while acknowledging that it worked well that time. I generally find him fine. "Workmanlike" captures it nicely. He makes the most obvious choice and it generally works. He never drags down a good script, nor does he elevate a bad one. He's just there, being singular in his blandness.

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mx_mond 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I don’t really remember a lot about this episode aside from the fact that Keeley Hawes seemed wasted in that role, and in a year when she was absolutely brilliant in Line of Duty, too (then again, when are the actors of this caliber not wasted in one-episode guest spots? I feel like she would have to be a recurring character for me to feel the creators have used her talents enough).

I also recall being irritated that Karabraxos got an out at the end. This is because I generally tend to think that time travel stories of the “you cannot change the past” variety are actually about something, namely: accepting the passage of time, with all the loss and regret that it entails. This, of course, only works if they are read on a purely metaphorical level; if we start considering time travel as a concrete fact of the world, I think attempting to improve things in the past becomes a moral imperative (and, speaking as someone generally very content with how their life turned out, an act of bravery, if you risk changing it for yourself).

My thinking on the matter has changed somewhat since 2014. I’m still able to enjoy time travel stories where the past (particularly a personal past) cannot be changed, but I’ve also seen how awful such stories can turn out (I’m thinking of The Flash here, which by obsessively returning to the death of the protagonist’s mother turned it that event into a pornography of fridging). And I suppose I was influenced by Moffat’s stories and by El’s eloquent writing about them. So now when I think of Time Heist’s ending, I still get a bit wistful, because of course in real life we don’t get a chance to fix whatever we regret; we can only try to do better in the future and accept that some things we might not be able to mend. But then if anyone was going to offer such chances (I imagine one of the commenters on here would call it “grace”), it would be a Lord of Time, wouldn’t it?

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Przemek 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I think the "fixing past regrets" ending kinda works here (inasmuch as anything can be said to work in this episode) because Karabraxos is dying when she finally takes the Doctor's offer and sets the heist in motion. She doesn't get to live without her regret, she just gets to die knowing she wasted her entire life stubbornly refusing to something about it. It's properly dark and complex and it's a shame the episode just kinda rushes past it.

As for time travel stories, I can see your pre-2014 point. Certainly there's a huge risk of falling into pure wish fulfillment with stories about changing the past. (And, indeed, into death/suffering porn). But when well done, such stories can be about changing one's attitude towards one's past. That's how I choose to read "Day of the Doctor": the double genocide really happened and was only undone when the Eleventh Doctor, after 400 years of regret and personal growth, finally managed to find a better way. The past still looks the same, but its meaning is now different.

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Jesse 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I liked the lighting gels. Which is good, I guess, because four years later they are literally all that I remember about this story.

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taiey 4 months, 3 weeks ago

So did I.


...mind you it's also sort of "what I would have done" and no one would pay me money to direct a television episode.

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Yossarian, Duck! 4 months, 3 weeks ago

This had the "I was aiming for minimalism, but I think I landed on Magician" line right? That seems in hindsight a pretty good signpost between Capaldi's setup phase and subsequent stride and tone. Fitting that it's trying to be a Nolan-esque puzzle box in the vein of The Prestige or Memento, but failing.

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Przemek 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Yeah, this one's just kinda bad, isn't it? You did a great job of examining why, El. Thanks for the essay, your TARDIS Eruditorum posts are always the best part of my Mondays.

I think you're on point about "Time Heist" belonging to another era of the show. But although on the whole it does feel like a reskinned Matt Smith episode I've always felt that the final twist and the ending come straight from the Tennant era. "Saving the monster who's actually an enslaved alien and also the last of his kind" is just such a Davies plot. That shot of the Doctor and Clara standing by the TARDIS after saving the aliens even looks like it should have the Tenth Doctor and Donna in it.

It's such a pity we never got a proper time travel heist we were promised. I really, really hope DW will come back to this idea at some point and do it brilliantly. Especially since the idea itself is, as you say, perfect for the show. I think one of the bigger mistakes "Time Heist" made was putting the Doctor in the position of heist planner/unwilling but cooperating participant. Such a mercurial, anarchistic character should obviously be the wrench in the gears here, landing the TARDIS in the middle of an elaborate heist and royally screwing it up (and then teaming up with the thieves to try to salvage what's left of the plan by frantically improvising and being incredibly clever). This story basically writes itself... but, alas, not for Thompson.

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Jane 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree with pretty much everything Elizabeth said, especially that Time Heist isn't doing anything different. In fact, I think it's doing exactly what the other Steve Thompson scripts are doing... but where I differ is that I think his core concept is still very interesting, despite all the flaws.

Black Spot, Journey, and Time Heist are all ascension stories. They are stories of the rebirth that comes from the embrace of ego-death. For Amy Pond, it's embracing the death that the Siren brings in order to find Rory on the other side (a prelude to Manhattan). For Clara, it's making that "leap of faith" to reach the Heart of the TARDIS, and the Doctor's self-sacrifice to change time. And in Time Heist, it's Psi deliberately shredding himself (in a context of judgment, no less) to save Clara from the monster. All are reborn.

And all these stories are laden with interesting symbolism and such, which I don't want to elucidate here. Unfortunately, each of Thompson's scripts gets weaker with iteration. In Black Spot, there's a lot of specificity regarding Amy's relationship with Rory; there's personal, material motivation. The idea gets abstracted down in Journey to just the ill-executed Impossible Girl arc. Here in Time Heist, it's just a hero moment -- and though we get the Doctor's "judgment" here (playing into the Doctor's self-critique laid down in Into the Dalek), this in itself isn't positioned as death, nor is the moment specific to anything about him beyond this episode, just as it is when the monster chases Clara.

The stories are the same, but each one gets worse as it becomes more generic with respect to the characters themselves. Which is actually a kind of apropos lesson when it comes to ascension -- for it's always a specific experience, generated by specific people for specific purposes, in specific contexts... much like good drama, actually. At least it's a natural fit for Doctor Who, given the protagonist is perpetually caught in the cycle of death and rebirth...

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homunculette 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I was really hoping we'd get your take on this, and as ever it's fascinating! Thank you Jane!

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Daru 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Good to hear your thoughts as ever Jane. I do agree that his stories had decreasing success, even though some of the symbology still comes through when they are not so successful.

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Alex Moreland 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I remember quite enjoying it at the time, I think - though quite might be an overstatement - but I've never really felt the need to go back to it. Definitely would've been better to see something a little more in line with Planet of the Ood, though.

My main takeaway, really, is that we were quite lucky that Michelle Gomez was busy at the time of filming, weren't we? If she'd been cast as Karabraxos, the role they originally offered her, it would've been quite a loss.

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Set Spade 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Well, at least Clara looks incredibly cool in that suit, which kinda prefigures her becoming the Doctor later on in the series.

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Leslie L 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The main thing I really took away, aside from feeling like an unused script from Series 7, was how Clara was throughout the episode.

The interaction she had with Psy, and Sabria's interaction with Twelve, were mostly what the episode had going for it.

And what Psy said, about her being with the Doctor long enough to make excuses about him. That struck a cord with me when I first saw it.

Yet another episode showcasing the Doctor's detactment and self loathing, given his various comments to his disguised self.

Another piece that, with the benefits of hindsight, added as to what the Doctor was trying to achieve at the beginning of the story, which was to take Clara on a date. It is said as much in the text.

I can't of anything else positive, aside from John Hart appearing in the show, and The Doctor starting to show more of his Relaxed Rebel Grandad Time Lord self that is more in the later run of his era.




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Citizen Alan 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Probably way too late for anyone to even see this but here goes.

"Yet another episode showcasing the Doctor's detactment and self loathing, given his various comments to his disguised self."

This actually points to my biggest gripe about Time Heist -- was it just me, or was it not transparently obvious as soon as (a) the Doctor and Clara were shown to have amnesia and don't know how they got into this situation and (b) the mastermind behind the heist gave complex instructions while disguising his voice, that it was a future Doctor who set the whole thing up and concealed the knowledge from his earlier self? I find the whole thing just tedious because I was waiting forever for the Doctor to deduce what I already had.

It reminded me of playing Bioshock Infinite -- the first time we see Comstock (the main villain), he's too far away to see his face even as he's yelling at us through a megaphone, and immediately, I yelled outloud "God-dammit! That's me from the future!"

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Przemek 4 months, 2 weeks ago

For what it's worth, I didn't get it immediately but I got it pretty fast after the Doctor started vocally hating the Architect. Then again, I don't think the identity of the Architect ended up being that important to the plot anyway...

It sounds like you might benefit from learning how to put (some of) your analytical skills on standby while watching. It's a skill which I had to reacquire after getting my MA and it improves my overall reading/viewing/playing experience immensely.

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Rob 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Hi Elizabeth,
This is a Paul Cornell related query so nothing to do with the Time Heist! I love your writing and especially your stuff on the New Adventures and Cornell, Miles, Arronovitch, etc. I was just wondering if you have read Cornell's Chalk yet? It's set in 1981/1982 deals with school bullying, trauma, doubles, and magic derived from the UK Top 40 Chart. I'm nearly finished it and I think it's one of Cornell's best books. I would love to know if you read it and your view is on it? Rob

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Elizabeth Edwards 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Hi Rob,
Wrong Elizabeth, I know, sorry. I just thought I'd pop in to point out that you might be better off asking questions unrelated to a given Eruditorum post at the estimable Mrs. Sandifer's tumblr, elizabethsandifer.tumblr.com

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Aylwin 4 months, 2 weeks ago

In fairness, you do need a Tumblr account to do that (I don't know if anonymous asks are still a thing, but if they are she's got them turned off).

[Is there a construction of irony and/or self-deprecation which would make it possible to do the "I think you'll find it's Dr Sandifer, actually" thing at this juncture without being a supercilious arsehole, or at least without being recognisable as one? Asking for a friend.]

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Aylwin 4 months, 2 weeks ago

So now it's just occurred to me that the second part of my previous comment could conceivably be construed as a kind of obliquely snarky commentary on your comment, and I feel the need (probably irrationally) to say that it was not meant that way, and that I'm sorry if it came across as such.

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Elizabeth Sandifer 4 months, 2 weeks ago

These days Twitter is probably the easiest way to get ahold of me.

And no, I've not read Chalk yet, though I hope to at some point.

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Aylwin 4 months, 2 weeks ago

[Looks at Tumblr] Aaargh. I apologise in advance for contributing to the existence of any and all anonymous asks you may receive.

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Daru 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Thanks for the essay El, and for (as a Scot) completing the arc I have been following the last few essays, on the Scottish Referendum!

I found this story a little interesting and uninvolving initially, then disappointing on re-watch. Not much else to say!

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Comment deleted 4 months ago

Holl 4 months ago

Give me an episode about the notorious, greatly wanted criminal Sensorite instead, IMO.

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Rodolfo Piskorski 4 months ago

The Big Finish comment brings to mind the opposite thought experiment: imagining which novels or audios could be good as a TV episode.
The Torchwood audio Ghost Train would have been amazing as an episode.

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