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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

58 Comments

  1. frank fair
    November 10, 2014 @ 1:36 am

    Reading the Doctor Who Companion for Series 7b, you can see why Moffat had second thoughts about having a Victorian companion. While I'm sure that Moffat would've handled her well (e.g. Madame de Pompadour-RTD "Why can't she be a companion?") and Neil Gaiman says his "Beryl" version of NiS was much better, but I think other writers particularly the reliable "solid adventure" writers would've really struggled

    The magazine has a summary of Gattis's first draft of Cold War with a Victorian Clara, and Gatiss just can't make it work.
    "Beryl" has to have the idea of submarines explained to her, then she has to have the Cold War explained to her, and then she has to change out of her cumbersome Victorian crinoline on the sub, before she can start adventuring. It just slows down everything and doesn't really work as a juxtaposition. It's not that he makes her stupid, but it does create problems. And this was from Gatiss-who loves Victoriana. So imagine how other writers would've struggled

    Reply

    • TommyR01D
      September 18, 2016 @ 5:29 pm

      The Classic Series made it work with Jamie and Victoria.

      Reply

  2. Bennett
    November 10, 2014 @ 2:40 am

    "And it’s not entirely unfair to ask “why,” especially given that more or less everything distinctive is taken away from the Great Intelligence and he becomes just another kind of generic villain…"

    I consider the Great Intelligence to be an informed and ingenious choice for this story's adversary, irrespective of the 'snowman' joke. And I don't think it's unreasonable to tip a little heavily to the future here in explaining why, considering that is precisely where the meta-narrative of Doctor Who was focused at the time.

    By this stage the audience has been trained to expect the seed of a series' 'big bad' to be sewn in early, to muster sufficient momentum for the eventual climax. As this is the earliest point where this can occur without disrupting the draining of the Ponds, it is almost out of necessity that The Snowmen has to engage with that 'big bad'.

    We also knew that early 2013 would see a shortened run of eight episodes with Moffat penning just two – the premiere and the finale. And that that single episode finale must in some way tantalise the big event in its wake. If the 'big bad' is too big, the structure falls apart.

    So I think that Moffat is not ignoring the established characteristics of the Great Intelligence – but playing to the only characteristic that was ever really established for it. That it's nebulous – a shapeless, formless entity that can glance across the master narrative of the 50th without distorting it.

    And I think choosing a forgotten relic of the show's past is not about making an exclusive in-joke, but about providing a way to maintain relevance to this narrative. Doctor Who's past weighs more heavily upon it here than at any other point. So what else could the big threat looming in the anniversary's shadow be but having this past forgotten. For it to become a whispered babble of misremembered moments – shapeless and formless.

    Not for nothing was the part deliberately cast as Richard E. Grant, the Doctor twice dead. Doctor Who has an open wound that needs to be healed – the time when it was forgotten, abandoned in the wilderness. And I can think of no more appropriate villain to pull apart the scar tissue as we await its Doctor.

    Reply

  3. dm
    November 10, 2014 @ 3:34 am

    And the episode we got had so many interesting ideas and themes to explore! Thank god they trimmed the fat! A Victorian governess played by jenna Louise Coleman trying to navigate strange technology in a strange political climate sounds like SUCH a snoozefest! I shudder to think how it could have been any better than a beyond-generic action thriller with shockingly bad cgi and a couple of ultravox references.

    Reply

  4. Aylwin
    November 10, 2014 @ 3:47 am

    Ah, you say, that, but what about the…the…er…hold on, I can do this…er…no, I give up.

    Reply

  5. JJ Gauthier
    November 10, 2014 @ 3:48 am

    Equally, if there really is an episode where it's messing with the pacing or whatnot, it's a pretty easy fix, especially with a character like Clara who catches on fast. You just explain the submarine quickly (Eleven excitedly explaining that it's a boat that's entirely underwater), and she just deadpans, "Terrifying." (Alternately, given when she comes from, "Ooh, very Jules Verne.") Which can lead into a little banter or just move on, as required by the episode's pacing. But that sort of companion, as dm suggested, can lead to creating a sense of wonder for things we take as ordinary.

    It can pay off later, talking with the Ice Warrior, "I'm already on a boat that's made to sink, and they tell me it's absolutely safe no matter how much water leaks in from everywhere. You? Not so scary." (Which sounds a little more like an Amy thing to say than Clara, but given that Gatiss just writes "generic companion" every time out anyway…)

    Similarly, you can have a little fun with the Cold War, since an outsider can laugh or joke about the sheer absurdity of the concept of a war where we keep threatening to blow up the world if the other side doesn't stop threatening to blow up the world. The idea can be sketched out in a line or two, given a little banter, and even given a little extra thematic resonance within that banter.

    Really not a problem if you just let the companion be clever enough. I mean, once you have "bigger on the inside" out of the way, and put them on a spaceship, maybe give them a little scene to get the gist of a computer (and Clara turned out to not really get computers anyway), they should be able to accept pretty much anything. (robots may be some sort of "mechanical man" or whatever, but the basic concept shouldn't be any real problem)

    It's sort of like Anne Chaplet getting replaced with Dodo because they can't just say "clever, quick study", have a little fun with it, and move on. Except, in this case, Clara turned out to be awesome anyway. But yeah, the objection doesn't hold water at all.

    Reply

  6. mimhoff
    November 10, 2014 @ 3:49 am

    It doesn't make sense because Victorian Clara has never heard of "Hungry Like the Wolf".

    Reply

  7. frank fair
    November 10, 2014 @ 3:54 am

    Well judging from article you would've gotten the same beyond-generic action thriller, with bad cgi, only with an extra 5 minutes of the Victorian companion having to have everything explained to her, while she talks about her "Mamma". Oh and in one earlier version the Ice Warrior also hypnotized her into starting the missiles

    My point being, I honestly think writers like Gatiss, and Thompson and Chibnall are good at what they do. I can understand why Moffat keeps hiring them and likes their work. Sometimes they're even interesting. But based on reading about Gattss's script, I honestly think they'd have faltered with a Victorian Clara

    Reply

  8. jane
    November 10, 2014 @ 4:46 am

    The One-Word Game

    So let's take a closer look at the One Word Game, now that the visuals have been established. The construction of this scene is amazing. It is, above all else, a study in contradiction.

    STRAX: Do not attempt to escape, or you will obliterated. May I take your coat?

    It begins with a juxtaposition of opposites. On the one hand, the Sontaran offers violence. On the other, he offers etiquette, civility, manners. And he does it with two recurring memes: The Doctor is always engaged in escape, and since Amelia showed up, he's frequently told her to "get her coat."

    JENNY: Sit.

    VASTRA: There are two refreshments in your world the color of red wine. This is not red wine.

    Jenny tells Clara to sit (a Buddhist meme) and Vastra begins by offering the power of negation, which is at the heart of contradiction. Vastra does not offer the truth of what she is drinking. She only offers what it is not.

    JENNY: Madame Vastra will ask you questions. You will confine yourself to single-word responses. One word only. Do you understand?

    CLARA: Why?

    VASTRA: Truth is singular. Lies are words, words, words.

    Already Clara has demonstrated that's she's more than qualified to play this game. The first response she gives is a single word, but it isn't an answer, it's a question. She has already reversed the roles that have been established, while adhering to them at the same time. Clara is a walking contradiction. Vastra, on the other hand, speaks the truth and lies at the same time. Truth is singular, but it is also manifold. It exists and is denied by words, simultaneously, as we shall see.

    VASTRA: You met the Doctor, didn't you?

    CLARA: Yes.

    VASTRA: And now you've come looking for him again. Why?

    JENNY: Take your time. One word, only.

    Jenny stands in the background, behind Clara. While Vastra is the dominant one in the relationship, the "Doctor" to Jenny's "Companion," it emerges that Jenny has Doctorish qualities of her own. In particular, she is taking the role of Advocate. She encourages Clara, and eventually, as Clara reveals her qualifications, Vastra looks to Jenny to confirm that she's reading the situation correctly, that she's right to be impressed. So Jenny is both submissive and dominant, as is Vastra. Truth is singular and manifold.

    CLARA: Curiosity.

    VASTRA: About?

    CLARA: Snow.

    VASTRA: And about him?

    CLARA: Yes.

    Truth is bifocal. Clara is curious about the Snow, and she's curious about the Doctor. Vastra recognizes that one word may not be clear enough, and yet, it is. This story is called The Snowmen, but that's a misleading and revealing title. The Doctor is a Snowman. He is, in a sense, as much a mirror as the Snow. It's not a lie, or incomplete, for Clara to say Snow and mean more than one thing about it.

    VASTRA: What do you want from him?

    CLARA: Help.

    VASTRA: Why?

    This is not Vastra's first mirroring of Clara, but it's the first perfect reflection. Clara's first singular word in this game was "Why?" and now it comes back to her; Vastra has claimed it for herself, and she keeps coming back to it. It is, in fact, crucial to the climax of this scene.

    CLARA: Danger.

    VASTRA: Why would he help you?

    CLARA: Kindness.

    VASTRA: The Doctor is not kind.

    CLARA: No?

    Vastra negates Clara's claim that the Doctor is kind. "Kind," of course, has been a key word in describing the Eleventh Doctor. Back in The Beast Below, it was how Amy realized that the Doctor and the Star Whale were alike…

    (to be continued…)

    Reply

  9. jane
    November 10, 2014 @ 4:47 am

    Clara responds to Vastra's contradiction with another negation, and puts it in the form of a question. She disagrees, and asks for clarification, taking control of the situation again. Her "No?" is also a mirroring of the first word she uttered that was not a question, "Yes." She has demonstrated the ability to Reverse Polarity.

    VASTRA: No. The Doctor doesn't help people. Not anyone, not ever. He stands above this world, and doesn't interfere in the affairs of its inhabitants. He is not your salvation, nor your protector. Do you understand what I am saying to you?

    CLARA: Words.

    Perfect, absolutely perfect. Vastra is stunned that Clara has the kind of presence to take Vastra's own words and turn them against her. And this gets to one of the great points of this scene. Vastra says that singular words are more true than a multiplicity. Clara's rebuke of Vastra's description of the Doctor seems to be a confirmation of this philosophy.

    But in hindsight, Vastra has not lied. The resolution of this story bears out her description. The Doctor does not save Clara, does not protect her. He doesn't even save the world — Clara and the Latimer family are ultimately the ones who accomplish that task.

    VASTRA: He was different, once, a long time ago. Kind, yes. A hero, even. A savior of worlds. But he suffered losses which hurt him. Now he prefers isolation to the possibility of pain's return. Kindly choose a word to indicate your understanding of this.

    CLARA: Man.

    Vastra negates her previous words — which set of words are true, and which are false? Both, and both. However, she does point to the central concern of this story, which is the Doctor's reaction to loss. This is what the entire story is about, and the truth of it is spoken at the halfway mark of the episode, at the center.

    When Vastra asks for Clara's response, she asks Clara to do so kindly. This establishes Clara as someone who is kind, who possesses the lost aspect of the Doctor, who can function as his mirror. And her response is beautifully two-fold, not singular. On the one hand, "Man" can refer to all of humanity, that this propensity to avoid grief is an aspect of the human condition, and this is certainly true. But it can also be taken in a gendered fashion. In this scene, we have three women. They all care, they all engage in relationship despite the inevitability of grief. Back in Victorian times, at least, this was also a truthful way of distinguishing the gender roles expected of men and women.

    VASTRA: We are the Doctor's friends. We assist him in his isolation, but that does not mean we approve of it. So, a test for you. Give me a message for the Doctor. Tell him all about the snow and what fresh danger you believe it presents, and above all, explain why he should help you. But do it in one word. You're thinking it's impossible such a word exists,or that you could even find it. Let's see if the gods are with you.

    CLARA: Pond.

    We don't actually hear Clara give her response. In the climax, we get empty space, a beat before the reveal. The ultimate negation.

    There are two refreshments in our world the color of red wine. This is not red wine. Wine is a metaphor. To the Sufis, it is used to talk about divinity, the movement of God within us. And the gods are with Miss Clara. Pond. A single word, which carries so many meanings. The physical pond at the Latimer estate. The loss the Doctor has suffered. And also the Frozen Mirror, the central metaphor of the story. Perfectly perfect. The work of gods.

    Reply

    • Przemek
      October 20, 2017 @ 12:30 pm

      It’s probably very silly to respond to an almost three-year-old comment, but… how is Clara’s last answer “perfectly perfect”? I mean, it carries all the meanings necessary for the Doctor to come out of isolation… but Clara couldn’t have known that. To her, the word “pond” evokes only the danger she came to discuss. Why would she choose that word? If that’s the best answer she could’ve come up with then it was a desperate shot in the dark on her part. A measly one-note word that just happened to be the right one. It says nothing about Clara’s intelligence or abilities besides sheer luck.

      “Pond” as the conclusion to the one word test certainly impressed me during the first watching. But then it became apparent that it’s a narrative trick, a ruse. Unless there was some form of destiny at work here, which I don’t think is supported by the episode itself. Unless time-splintered Clara somehow can gain information about the Ponds from her other copies or something…

      Reply

  10. John
    November 10, 2014 @ 5:28 am

    Wasn't Ian McKellen the Great Intelligence in this story? I thought Grant was Dr. Simeon for the vast majority of the story here, with only a brief bit of playing the Intelligence. It's not until Bells of St John that Grant is playing the Intelligence.

    Reply

  11. Nyq Only
    November 10, 2014 @ 7:54 am

    What I really like about this episode is that it is really a story in River's continuity. This doesn't become clear until the Name of the Doctor, when we discover that River's death has caught up with the Doctor's timeline. In retrospect the Doctor's grief becomes ore understandable.
    Losing the Ponds was sad but it was not the most tragic loss of a companion. Losing River (having always known when and how she would die) is something else altogether.

    Reply

  12. BerserkRL
    November 10, 2014 @ 7:54 am

    between this and Into the Dalek, we actually see more of the Victorian era

    Do you mean "Deep Breath"? I'm not remembering the Victorian portions of "Into the Dalek."

    Reply

  13. BerserkRL
    November 10, 2014 @ 7:55 am

    Oh wait. I was misreading "between." Never mind.

    Reply

  14. BerserkRL
    November 10, 2014 @ 7:59 am

    One wonders what other classics the Doctor’s lost track of.

    Well, "Girl in the Fireplace," for one. A particularly odd one for him to forget, too.

    Reply

  15. Alan
    November 10, 2014 @ 8:17 am

    I was quite pleased with the reimagining of the GI and rather disappointed with how he(it?) was apparently killed off in Name of the Doctor. Moffatt wisely realized that the thing people remember about the two prior stories — the ludicrous-looking Yetis — were never nearly as interesting as the GI itself, a disembodied intelligence that wants to conquer the world by possessing all of its inhabitants. It was all wonderfully Lovecraftian … until one of the novelizations ruined all that by making it literally Lovecraftian.

    Reply

  16. Alan
    November 10, 2014 @ 8:26 am

    "This is by design a false start – the new companion is seemingly introduced and then killed."

    To me, a weakness of the episode was the manner of Victorian-Clara's death (and that's before we get to the "sad Victorian family's tears kill the evil snow" business). Oswin's death was a stunning plot twist. Victorian-Clara, OTOH, died because the Doctor forgot to close the door. Intellectually, I know the plot (and the metaplot) basically demanded her death. But stupid, casually avoidable deaths annoy me.

    Reply

  17. Jonathan Staal
    November 10, 2014 @ 8:26 am

    Although I think part of that could be attributed to the regeneration trauma of the episode.

    Reply

  18. Jonathan Staal
    November 10, 2014 @ 8:34 am

    Wonderful analysis. I love everything about that scene, with the exception of her final response. After the brilliance displayed through the entire conversation, Clara ultimately succeeds on pure dumb luck. Hell, even Vastra knows it going in "let's see if the gods are with you."

    She says Pond, only conveying where the danger is. It is only through the coincidence of it being the last name of the family he lost that it is able to convey to the Doctor (and of course the audience) why he needs to face the danger.

    Reply

  19. peeeeeeet
    November 10, 2014 @ 8:34 am

    The Doctor is a Snowman.

    Worth noting that "The Snowman" was a nickname given to the seventh Doctor in The Room With No Doors.

    Reply

  20. encyclops
    November 10, 2014 @ 9:13 am

    I was just about to ask if someone could explain to me what was so wonderful about this scene, which I have never liked. I don't think I could ever expect a better explanation.

    I still don't like it. But at least now I understand what other people like about it.

    Reply

  21. encyclops
    November 10, 2014 @ 9:18 am

    Clara tells the Doctor and us, point blank, that looking at appearances and going with initial assumptions about her is the wrong approach.

    I know what you mean, I think, but in fact isn't she exactly what she appears to be? It's looking past what she appears to be — just an ordinary 21st century Earth woman who's brave and clever — that turns out to be the error.

    Reply

  22. Lewis Christian
    November 10, 2014 @ 11:00 am

    One wonders what other classics the Doctor’s lost track of.

    Also, sliding into meta territory perhaps: isn't the Doctor struggling to remember the GI also just a cheeky nod to the fact the episodes are missing?

    Reply

  23. BerserkRL
    November 10, 2014 @ 11:22 am

    Clara ultimately succeeds on pure dumb luck

    In this scene future-Clara is cleverly disguised as the idea "Pond" flitting through past-Clara's mind.

    Reply

  24. Adam Riggio
    November 10, 2014 @ 12:23 pm

    If you're referring to the clockwork robots from Deep Breath, they were from the Madame du Pompadour's sister ship. And the Doctor never actually knew that name of the ship where the original clockwork robots from Girl in the Fireplace came from. All he knew in the 2006 story was that clockwork robots had fixated obsessively on Reinette; he didn't know that their confusion lay in the robots' confusion over their ship's name. So it isn't that the Doctor forgot about his relationship with Madame du Pompadour, it's that there was no immediate reason in his knowledge to connect the ship with the adventure. The comment in Deep Breath isn't so much about what the Doctor has forgotten, but what he didn't notice in the first place.

    Reply

  25. Adam Riggio
    November 10, 2014 @ 12:25 pm

    From the Doctor's perspective, Clara-prime initially appears to be a mystery, a strange signifier drifting across his timeline, an obsession that, as far as he's concerned, obscures her actual nature as an ordinary 21st century Earth woman who's extraordinarily brave and clever.

    Reply

  26. Bennett
    November 10, 2014 @ 12:34 pm

    Wasn't Ian McKellen the Great Intelligence in this story?

    I did say I'd be tipping heavily to the future. And I find it difficult to imagine it was ever the case that Grant was cast as purely Dr. Simeon without an eye on his upcoming availability.

    The choice of Ian McKellen for the Intelligence's initial voice feels like it comes from the angle of "let's get the most recognisable voice we can in for a day's work". Which is either a clever underlining of the theme of recognition, or a fun bit of yuletide stunt casting. (It's too much of a stretch, even for me, to claim that the Doctor's idea of himself as a 'Space Gandalf' from Meanwhile in the TARDIS has anything to do with it).

    Reply

  27. Bennett
    November 10, 2014 @ 12:56 pm

    Clara ultimately succeeds on pure dumb luck

    There's nothing 'pure' or 'dumb' about it. As jane says, truth can be bifocal. "Pond" is not just a lucky response, it is also a clever response irrespective of its double meaning (and Moffat takes care to have the Doctor emphasise this when he first scans the frozen pond).

    Reply

  28. Steven
    November 10, 2014 @ 1:33 pm

    death is often stupid and easily avoidable.

    Reply

  29. jane
    November 10, 2014 @ 2:42 pm

    And yet, Clara isn't exactly who she seems to be. She puts on a persona of cheerfulness to mask her inner control freak. So there is something hidden inside, but that too is simply an ordinary 21st Century woman.

    And the thing is, it was perfectly possible to discern Clara's temperament just by paying attention to her throughout Series Seven — hell, it's practically spelled in Bells alone, from the say she bosses the Doctor around for coffee in Bells, yanks the laptop away to find the shard, and sets boundaries for their "dates."

    Reply

  30. BerserkRL
    November 10, 2014 @ 2:43 pm

    True, but still ….

    "SS Marie Antoinette. Out of control repair droids cannibalising human beings. I know that this is familiar, but I just can't seem to place it. … Sister ship of the Madame De Pompadour. No, not getting it."

    Okay, so he didn't know the Madame De Pompadour was a ship. But seeing the name might have reminded him that he had a romance with the historical Madame De Pompadour, and that his adventure with her involved "Out of control repair droids cannibalising human beings."

    Reply

  31. BerserkRL
    November 10, 2014 @ 2:45 pm

    And in real life hours go by with nothing interesting happening. Not an argument for putting it in a story.

    Reply

  32. Alan
    November 10, 2014 @ 2:55 pm

    "After the brilliance displayed through the entire conversation, Clara ultimately succeeds on pure dumb luck." But that's the thing. Our immediate impression is that Victorian Clara succeeded through almost miraculous luck. Our second impression (well, mine anyway) is that she succeeded through cleverness — "pond" is such a strange non sequitur to the question asked that might have made the Doctor curious enough to investigate even without the Amy-Rory connection. It is only in hindsight that we know that Clara is the Impossible Girl and the seeming impossibility of her actions arises from the fact that she (subconsciously at this point, it seems) knows about the Doctor's past. The phrase "Impossible Girl" is not yet in our vocabulary, yet Clara has casually done something that Vastra has suggested is impossible.

    Reply

  33. 5tephe
    November 10, 2014 @ 3:23 pm

    I want Moffat to start hiring JJ Gauthier.

    Reply

  34. Jarl
    November 10, 2014 @ 10:44 pm

    It would be silly and perhaps a little tone deaf to suggest that he forgets every Master adventure within a few days time, but there it is.

    I'm also a little unclear about if he remembers Day of the Moon, even during the two parter they talk about how they can't remember the first part.

    Reply

  35. Adam Riggio
    November 11, 2014 @ 12:43 am

    Though I was only able to get it up a couple of days later and it's a bit of a non-sequitur to appear on the Snowmen post, I've started my series of wrap-ups for the first Capaldi season. I know it's your reminder to go read it anyway, Phil.

    It'll be the first of three this week, going through the core ideas Death in Heaven raised for me. I just didn't want it to be buried in the 8,403 comments to your review.

    http://adamwriteseverything.blogspot.ca/2014/11/you-will-sleep-safely-tonight-doctor.html

    Reply

  36. Nick Smale
    November 11, 2014 @ 1:18 am

    Clara is a "Victorian", yes — but as Victoria was on the throne for 65 years, that can mean a lot of different things. Clara comes from 1892, a modern and technologically sophisticated time. I don't think she'd have any difficulty comprehending what a submarine is (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea had been published in English 20 years before, and the Royal Navy started construction of its first submarines only 8 years later), while the Cold War wouldn't come as a surprise to anyone versed in the pre-WW1 great-power tensions between Britain, France, Germany and Russia.

    Reply

  37. Richard Pugree
    November 11, 2014 @ 2:39 am

    Yes, after Name of the Doctor we realise that victorian Clara is an echo, and imprint, a fragment of our Clara-prime, as is Oswin. She doesn't know who she is, but there is presumably enough of Clara-prime in there to be able to pick Pond, without consciously recognising its particular importance. So on first viewing that aspect seems like coincidence, but retrospectively it makes sense.

    Reply

  38. Aylwin
    November 11, 2014 @ 2:43 am

    Plus the prediction of a world thoroughly dominated by America and Russia had been around at least as early as Tocqueville's Democracy in America of 1835, and was widespread by the end of the century.

    Nuclear weapons might be harder to process, but for someone from an era familiar with high explosives, modern-style artillery and rapid technological progress it would really be just a matter of scaling up. The problem, if any, would be one of believability (in physical and psychological terms) rather than of comprehensibility, and, you know, Tardis etc.

    Reply

  39. mimhoff
    November 11, 2014 @ 4:04 am

    Yes that was a fascinating part of the River chronology for me too.

    We know where the story ends from River's point of view. But what about the Doctor's? One day, as you say, it "catches up with him". One day, he gets in the TARDIS after adventuring with River, and takes out his diary to record what happened… and all the pages are full. Because even though he's immortal and has a time machine, even though he can do things like run away for 200 years and be back in time for his scheduled death, the time they spend together is still finite.

    Reply

  40. Lewis Christian
    November 11, 2014 @ 4:04 am

    I believe Ian McKellen did all of his lines over the phone or something, and was just a day's work. I suspect that, as Bennett says, they cast Grant knowing they'd be wanting him to take the role onwards after the Christmas episode.

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  41. Anton B
    November 11, 2014 @ 5:11 am

    Surely a chance to do Victoria Waterfield with a Nu-Who spin was tempting for Moffat? How could Gattis screw that up?

    Reply

  42. Anton B
    November 11, 2014 @ 6:17 am

    Hamlet Act II scene1

    Lord Polonius: …what do you read?

    Hamlet: Words words words.

    Vastra is also emphasising that the 'one word answer' rule does not apply on her side of the interrogation.

    Reply

  43. Anton B
    November 11, 2014 @ 9:03 am

    "Well, for your information, I'm not sweet on the inside, and I'm certainly not little.”

    I've always taken this as a hint that she's 'bigger on the inside'.
    Victorian Clara is a fractal reflection of Clara Prime who is inside the Doctor's time stream which, in Name of the Doctor, will be shown as a visual effect inside the dimensionaly transcendental space usually occupied by the TARDIS console.

    Reply

  44. Froborr
    November 11, 2014 @ 10:55 am

    What IS the other refreshment that looks like red wine?

    Vastra is drinking the elixir of life throughout this scene.

    Reply

  45. BerserkRL
    November 11, 2014 @ 11:03 am

    Reply

  46. heroesandrivals
    November 11, 2014 @ 12:55 pm

    @Alan
    >I was quite pleased with the reimagining of the GI and rather disappointed with how he(it?) was apparently killed off in Name of the Doctor.

    You misunderstand, the Name of the Doctor is the final step in the ORIGIN of the Great Intelligence.
    In Lovecraft terms, the GI is supposed to be Yog-Sothoth, a being who exists in every point in space and time. That is what he BECAME in Name of the Doctor. His adventures against the Second Doctor came after NotD, causally speaking. Entering the Doctor's timestream is what transformed him into the Lovecraftian god worshipped my migu/yetis.

    It was actually incredibly clever of Moffat… but only in an abstract sense appreciated after it's explained. Actually watching it was dull, anti-climactic and disappointing. Having it explained that "No, you just didn't enjoy it right, look how clever I was!" doesn't do much to help how bad Name of the Doctor was.

    Reply

  47. Elizabeth Sandifer
    November 11, 2014 @ 1:01 pm

    I do not for a moment buy that Moffat was seriously attempting to engage with Andy Lane's 90s attempt to render a bunch of interesting Doctor Who stories H.P. Lovecraft fanfics.

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  48. sleepyscholar
    November 11, 2014 @ 1:12 pm

    I'd say it is an argument for putting it in a story. Not literally, as in having the story consist of hours with nothing intersting happening. But in the sense that we recognise that within the story hours have gone by with nothing interesting happening. Because for the viewer/reader that can actually be … interesting.

    I'd cite Michael Winterbottom's Everyday as a film which essentially employs this concept in order to weave a (fascinating) story.

    Reply

  49. Matthew Blanchette
    November 11, 2014 @ 1:21 pm

    The answer is above you: Badly.

    Stephen Thompson pretty much wrote Clara in Amy-Pond-mode, anyhow — meaning only Neil Cross really got to explore the character successfully (we see how Gaiman's went behind-the-scenes).

    Reply

  50. heroesandrivals
    November 11, 2014 @ 3:09 pm

    And yet; an incredibly contrived story to spread the Gi across every point in space and time, just like Yog-Sothoth.
    And Moffat's version of the GI was clearly MUCH less powerful than the GI is 'supposed' to be. It fits.

    Reply

  51. heroesandrivals
    November 11, 2014 @ 3:53 pm

    We know that Night and the Doctor (the last time he saw River before Silence in the Library, when gives her the screwdriver) takes place prior The Snowmen because the other Doctor was still using the first control room too. That means that after The Angels Take Manhattan the Doctor then had to see River off on their last meeting before her death. The double gutpunch is probably what led to his retreat in the Snowmen.

    Reply

  52. Herms
    November 11, 2014 @ 3:57 pm

    As I recall, in The Name of the Doctor the GI just spread himself all throughout the Doctor's personal timeline. Did they ever say anything about him spreading throughout all of time and space? And whatever the GI did, Clara did too. So if anything, Moffat's implying that Clara is Yog-Sothoth.

    For that matter, when in any of the classic GI stories was the GI described as being spread across every point in time and space? A quick read through the relevant entries in About Time Vol.2 just turns up the Doctor in The Web of Fear describing the GI as a "formless, shapeless thing, floating about in space like a cloud of mist".

    Reply

  53. Daru
    November 12, 2014 @ 3:33 am

    One thing I enjoyed about this episode was the difference in filming style – where even though the story was (apart from the Clara stuff) quite a self contained fairytale type – it was given a more serious tone. Brilliant reveal of the new TARDIS too!

    Reply

  54. Owlie
    November 13, 2014 @ 7:21 pm

    Why would it be odd? its well over a thousand years ago in the Doctor's timeline.
    In a recent interview, Moffat talks about how he wrote that to deliberately underline the tragedy of it, that the Doctor lives long enough to forget the times he fell in love.

    Reply

  55. Martin Fowler
    November 15, 2014 @ 6:48 am

    I was very struck by the double-resolution of this episode. Moffat sets up a puzzle box solution to defeating the Great Intelligence by using the memory worm. I found that a very satisfying resolution since he'd used introduced the memory worm with a nice comic scene, given us time to forget about it, and then brought it back to defeat the monster.

    Then having done such a good resolution, he then decides to arbitrarily toss it aside for the family crying resolution. I don't know why he did that, but I do find it interesting that he did it.

    That's why I disagree with you that the family crying resolution was unearned – it was earned by setting up a better (for me) resolution, saying "see I know how to resolve this well" and then just kicking it over for something schmaltzy.

    Reply

  56. darkspine10
    December 5, 2017 @ 3:00 pm

    “But given that The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear are both iconic classics, the fact that the Doctor doesn’t remember them is striking, in that it firmly establishes that his own sense of his history isn’t equivalent to his history as a television character. One wonders what other classics the Doctor’s lost track of.”

    This seems to suggest to me that the Doctor’s history is in some way co-existent with his paratextual history. As you said, both Great Intelligence stories were largely missing when The Snowmen aired. Additionally, both Abominable 2 and Web 1 don’t feature the Doctor encountering the Great Intelligence at all. He sees the Yeti, but never the animating consciousness behind it.

    This makes the Doctor not remembering the GI a link between the Doctor’s memories and the missing episodes. He simply cannot remember what happened, just like how we can’t watch those episodes.

    What makes this even better is the recovery of the 4 episodes of The Web of Fear, episodes which do feature the Doctor encountering the GI directly.

    So once the episodes featuring the GI are back (roughly, I’m not sure of the exact dates the eps were recovered), the Doctor once again knows him as a villain in Name of the Doctor. So the paratext of the recovery is reflected in the Doctor knowing about the GI, and him becoming a recurring villain again.

    Reply

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