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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.

60 Comments

  1. mengu
    August 23, 2013 @ 12:29 am

    …I'm on Team Martha.

    Reply

  2. Lewis Christian
    August 23, 2013 @ 12:48 am

    Well I'm team Racnoss. MYYY CHILLLLDREENNNNN.

    Thoroughly interesting post, Phil, and I largely agree with it. "The Runaway Bride is made, however, with an eye firmly on the future" is very true and, as usual, you've made me see an episode in rather a new light. It's very much Round 2 for the Davies era (although one could argue it's Round 1.5 since Round 2 comes with Martha and Series 3). It's extremely interesting, in hindsight, that Donna returned. And all the nuggets in The Writer's Tale (I presume and hope you've had a flick through at least) are wonderful in terms of Davies' decision to bring back Donna after this. He even notes with some glee that "HC Clements" is coming back and how Turn Left hinges on this story.

    Reply

  3. Sparhawk
    August 23, 2013 @ 12:52 am

    Aw, come on guys, it's Eruditorum! Let's not do this.

    Reply

  4. Lewis Christian
    August 23, 2013 @ 1:06 am

    Ooh, ooh, also a little surprised you didn't make more of "Gallifrey!" being in the new series for the first time. It's definitely a "punch the air" moment because it's emphasised and noticeably been missing. It's interesting since it happens post-Rose.

    Rose only ever knows about "my home planet" and that puts her in an interesting position, along with the likes of Ian and Barbara (who knew next to nothing – Time Lords, Gallifrey, regeneration… all came after their time) etc. School Reunion aside, it's also the first time the new show properly acknowledges a major element of the old show. It's almost a reward for sticking with it through the last two years as it reinvented itself.

    (It made me wonder about Skaro – there's the "Skaro degradations" in The End of Time and then we visit the planet in Asylum of the Daleks… and then it hit me that the first reference by name, if I remember correctly, is Doomsday ("the cult of Skaro"). The significance of that simply passed me by, unlike Gallifrey which was highlighted rather triumphantly.

    Just found it a fascinating little detail.

    And then when you consider this marks the first explicit Saxon reference (a nod to Saxon had already appeared in Love & Monsters), it's really quite fitting! Just as the Doctor gets to declare "Gallifrey!", the wheels have already started turning with regards to his best enemy – the other Last of the Time Lords – returning.

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  5. David Thiel
    August 23, 2013 @ 4:12 am

    And all of this without actually discussing the story!

    Rose, I'd argue, was a case of "how can we miss you if you won't go away?" This story, and all of Series 3, was about the Billie Piper-shaped void. Then, after a whole year of the adventures of the Doctor and his companion Not-Rose, we finally move on to Donna.

    And then Rose comes back! And now she has the power to randomly insert herself into the narrative, even if it makes no sense and is nothing more than a distraction!

    I get that Rose/Billie was hugely important to the relaunch of nuWho, and to the generation of fans brought on board. But the Rosicrucianism* on display through the remainder of the RTD era struck me as at odds with the nature of "Doctor Who," a show that embraces change like no other. It began to feel as if it was Davies himself who was unwilling to let her go.

    *Yes, I'm incorrectly using the term most flagrantly. I just liked the way it sounded.

    Reply

  6. Lewis Christian
    August 23, 2013 @ 4:31 am

    I agree, on the whole. And I'm a bit miffed that Donna's series is a little overshadowed by Martha… then Sarah Jane and Mickey and Rose and Jackie and Torchwood and… ahhh! Why couldn't the "RTD Era Celebration" episode/s wait just a little while longer?

    Oh well. It's a discussion for nearer the time, that.

    But yes, Martha (and, indeed, Freema) gets a raw deal with Series 3. Whoever took that place would always be the "but-you're-not-Rose" character.

    Reply

  7. David Thiel
    August 23, 2013 @ 4:34 am

    Now for the story itself. I think that it's worth pointing out that this is where the idea that the Doctor is too dangerous to be left on his own begins. It's a notion that seems to be an attempt to answer a question that hadn't yet been asked: "Why does the Doctor keep inviting companions on board when they end so tragically?"

    Now, I have problems with this line of thought, in part because the specific example used to illustrate the destructive force of a lonely Doctor–the extermination of the Racnoss–seems entirely justified in context. With the Empress unwilling to consider a peaceful relocation, and with millions of hungry Racnoss boiling up from the center of the Earth, minutes away from becoming an unstoppable, all-consuming wave engulfing the human race, how was flushing them back down the plughole an immoral action? It's similar to what we saw with the Sycorax; Harriet Jones' destruction of the fleeing spaceship is presented as the wrong choice, despite the fact that the Doctor had just laid out the case in which doing so was warranted.

    Unfortunately, this idea of the Doctor needing to be controlled is picked up later in Series 3, when he gets a whole bunch of people killed because of his attempt to be "merciful" to his foes…and then he goes well out of his way to devise a series of eternal torments for the Family of Blood.* Our hero.

    *And fandom loves it, which is an issue I have with fandom.

    Reply

  8. jane
    August 23, 2013 @ 5:03 am

    Team Wonder Woman?

    Reply

  9. C.
    August 23, 2013 @ 5:13 am

    Martha (and, indeed, Freema) gets a raw deal with Series 3. Whoever took that place would always be the "but-you're-not-Rose" character"

    agreed. wonder if in a timeline where there's no Torchwood series, if Jack could've been the companion for at least the start of Series 3, which might've worked as a firebreak between Rose and Martha (who could've been introduced halfway through, or perhaps subtly–a supporting character who's promoted to a companion).

    I'm sure we'll be getting to Martha much more, but one grievous flaw for me was RTD's decision to have her family life consist of Mrs Jones scowling at mention of the Doctor every episode. The potential was so rich–a middle-class black family, virtually unheard of in the world of Who before—and so underused.

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  10. jane
    August 23, 2013 @ 5:44 am

    It's not that the destruction of the Racnoss is immoral, it's that it's traumatic and damaging. I think it's kind of brilliant that the emotional weight of the choice is played to the hilt — no longer is the Doctor just blithely walking away from another genocide. And yet, even now, the Doctor doesn't get it quite right. He's going overboard in his emotional reaction, in his self-hatred.

    In this light, Donna's "you need someone to stop you" makes perfect sense. It's not that he needs to be stopped from averting apocalypses that have terrible personal consequences, it's that he needs to be stopped from taking it too personally — which is part and parcel of his hubris, his over-inflated ego. He can't fully revel in "Doctor Who is wonderful!" nor fully wallow in "Doctor Who is awful!"

    Interestingly, this rather goes back to the Pertwee era, and Barry Letts' infusion of Buddhism into the show. Like many spiritual traditions, Buddhism is largely a response to the Problem of Ego, hence the emphasis on the nicely paradoxical realization that "self" is "not self." Davies, however, uses the symbolism of Western alchemy to dress up the story — the combination of raging Fire and torrential Water is "Alchemy 101," the union of opposites which the Wedding Dress also symbolizes, not to mention the pairings of Doctor/Donna and Empress/Lance.

    Most interesting, though, is that the Ascension motifs are played in reverse. The story begins with Donna's ascension through the roof of a church (marked with hanging lights and an X motif) after the activation of her "Who-on" particles, and reaches its climax in the Underworld. The suggestion is that spiritual development doesn't come from on high, but rather from down below, or deep within if you prefer. However, self-awareness in of itself isn't sufficient — the Empress, who is "reddened" (the final stage in the Masonic or classical sense of alchemy — see Crimson Horror) and who is covered with eyes, who watches Doctor Who on TV and is completely self-possessed, has nonetheless sacrificed Mercy (the deceased HC Clements, whose name means "mercy," is explicitly described as having "black and white shoes," another example of the principle of fusion) and this consigns her to the role of villain.

    So the Doctor, who completely loses himself, and the Empress, who is full of herself, represent extreme ends of different spiritual paths. Donna walks the middle path, finding compassion for others while recognizing that she herself has a part to play in the small opera. Her ego is shattered with the realization that Lance has completely played her, but unlike the Doctor she doesn't drown in self-pity. In the end she embodies Self and NotSelf, and chooses (for a time) the Ordinary Life and all the mundane aspects it signifies.

    Not bad for a Christmas episode, actually.

    Reply

  11. Sparhawk
    August 23, 2013 @ 5:44 am

    Now you're talkin'.

    Reply

  12. David Thiel
    August 23, 2013 @ 6:48 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply

  13. David Thiel
    August 23, 2013 @ 6:48 am

    You've got the Racnoss Empress screaming "My childrennnnnn!" while the Doctor looks on pitilessly. And Donna says, "That place was flooded and burning and they were dying and you stood there like…I don't know. A stranger." I don't think there's anything nuanced in that. It's not about him taking it too personally…it's about him murdering children.

    Can't comment on the rest. I doubt that any of that symbolism was intentional, but I recognize that this blog is a place for such readings.

    Reply

  14. landru
    August 23, 2013 @ 6:54 am

    The Christmas Specials have always been worryingly Hit and Miss events. This one was a bit of a miss for me and I didn't even know why at the time. I mean, I know why I didn't like "The Next Doctor" and "The Lion the Witch and the total misuse of Bill Baily" episodes. This one just felt … off.

    The idea of Catherine Tate doing a comedic character with no punchline kind of nailed it, finally, for me. Rose leaving the show from the casual viewer's standpoint is a pretty big deal (although, it has lost of lot of it's weight since she keeps coming back!) I remember liking it, finding it fun and entertaining … and then after it was over feeling a little strange about it.

    I haven't gone back to revisit these episodes for sometime. I can only recall my general feelings as a long-term fan. I'm probably in the majority of fans who like the NuWho and find much to criticize. I can easily justify this because my old-school DW fans used to make fun of the classic series shortfalls. (How can you not laugh when the Cyberman trips on the steps in Earthshock, for example?) You are clearly making an interesting case for the "whys" of this period in the show and I appreciate that … clearly, as I've been following this blog for quite some time. However, it is impossible not to be a bit put off by the overtly emotional aspects of the program under RTD's rule.

    Anyway, fascinating article.

    Reply

  15. Adam Riggio
    August 23, 2013 @ 7:15 am

    This, to me, is one of the most fascinating elements of the 50th Anniversary show that I'm expecting to see. Yes, of course, there's John Hurt and whatever is going to happen with him.

    But what's equally noteworthy for me is the return of specifically Ten and Rose to the show. Here's Rose, the figure that was either the most dominating figure of the actual cast, or what haunted the show for the entire rest of the Davies era (whether that haunting took the form of her conspicuous absence, her image-appearances in various split-seconds of series four, or her place at the culmination of the "last dance with David" sequence in The End of Time. Just as you point out in the review, The Eleventh Hour systematically blows up every icon of the Davies era. There has probably never been as clean a break in eras since 1970. Even then, half the supporting cast of the Letts/Dicks era was introduced in a Troughton trial run.

    And now the Davies and Moffat eras directly collide.

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  16. David Anderson
    August 23, 2013 @ 7:23 am

    I wouldn't say that the problem with the Davies era is that it's overly emotional. The problem is that in the last analysis it's not emotional enough. It's sentimental. Compare The Girl in the Fireplace with Journey's End. One of them is all about emotions, and it's not the episode written by Davies.

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  17. David Anderson
    August 23, 2013 @ 7:31 am

    To what extent is team Rose vs team Donna a split within the Davies era? I'd have thought that a preference for Donna over Rose is one way in which someone might signal reservations without outright rejection about the Davies-era as a whole.
    Partners in Crime quite explicitly positions Donna as somebody who is not a challenge to the audience's affection for Rose.

    Reply

  18. BerserkRL
    August 23, 2013 @ 8:02 am

    She was the known attraction.

    As evidence of how heavily the show relied on Billie Piper's popularity from the very start, I offer this early ad for series 1, which presents Piper/Rose as the main attraction, the TARDIS as a secondary attraction, and Eccleston's Doctor as an afterthought.

    Reply

  19. C.
    August 23, 2013 @ 8:08 am

    a friend once cracked that the Davies Doctor Who was "Doctor Who: the New Testament," with Rose as the messiah and Eccleston/Tennant as the lonely God as supporting actor.

    Reply

  20. landru
    August 23, 2013 @ 8:55 am

    I have had this discussion with others. I through the term emotional out there because it covers the type of storytelling that requires you to have a certain feeling at a given time written specifically as "moments" in the storytelling. As far as the difference between those two stories under the way I'm defining "emotions" … I see no difference. It's meant to tug at our heartstrings. Whether it succeeds or not depends largely on the logic built up to the "moment" … and I don't disagree with you on that score.

    Reply

  21. Adam Riggio
    August 23, 2013 @ 10:56 am

    While I haven't done the surveys myself, I can offer my own point of view as an anecdotal example of how these preferences may have developed.

    The first time I saw Billie Piper acting was in "Rose." And from then on, I thought she was fantastic throughout her time on the show. I've seen her in several other tv programs, and I think she's an immensely talented actress. I think I can see where Phil is going for part of his analysis of series three, and can definitely get behind his analysis that Rose holds just as much pull over the general UK audience as Doctor Who itself. I can understand why she would have to cast such a shadow.

    But at the time, I thought: "Enough already!" She had an excellent two years, a beautiful tragi-happy ending to her character arc in Doomsday. Yes, the Doctor would be upset that he lost her in such wretched circumstances, he can have some moments like in The Runaway Bride when he's trying to deal with his own emotions while always being interrupted. But now it was over. Time to move on with a new beginning. Throughout season three, some of the most frustrating moments for me would be when Martha (and if it wasn't for series four Donna, I'd be on Team Martha) was overshadowed by literally just the shadow of Rose. So much about her was set up as a reaction to Rose that it kept Freema from playing a fully rounded character.

    It seemed illegitimate to me that Rose's echo would overwrite Martha, and her return was an explicitly teased part of series four, even though it had only been two years since she was last on the show. Her shadow over Martha's era meant that we the audience didn't even really miss her. We were so constantly reminded of her absence that it became her presence. So when Donna, a character so bombastic and powerful, appeared again, she was a breath of oxygen because she could overpower the shadow of Rose that just wouldn't go away. Even the Rose tease at the end of Partners in Crime was, at least as I watched it, less about the return of Rose and more about how Sylvia would get her car keys back.

    By the time we hit Turn Left, Donna was stealing the show from Rose better than Tom Baker would have. Rose had been stealing the show from Martha without even appearing, so I was happy to see the show stolen out from under her.

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  22. Theonlyspiral
    August 23, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

    Sorry, I'm on Team Captain Marvel

    Reply

  23. AuntyJack
    August 23, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

    Go Team Venture!

    Reply

  24. Matthew Blanchette
    August 23, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

    That sounds about right, actually. 😛

    Reply

  25. Chicanery
    August 23, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

    Team Discovery Channel!

    Reply

  26. Iain Coleman
    August 23, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

    I basically agree. I thought it was fine for the Doctor to mope over Rose during the Christmas special, but once Martha turned up I wanted him to get past that and have adventures with Martha. I wanted to find out how great Martha was going to be. Just as, once Leela turned up, the Dotor didn't keep harking back to Sarah Jane, we just got on with having new adventures.

    Instead, series 3 seemed hobbled by Davies' insistence on weighing it down with the psychological fallout of Rose's departure. Certainly plausible in character terms, but a drawback to the drama. Davies got so many things so right, but this, I think, was one of his few, genuine, unforced errors.

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  27. Galadriel
    August 23, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

    Although I may not agree with everyone this blog says, the posts on the revival have done an excellent job of articulating some of my misgivings in certain areas. First you brought up the assumed-approval of the Doctor's behavior, and now you reminded why Rose's departure is such a big deal.
    As someone who entered the fandom in 2010 with "The Eleventh Hour" and watched all the revived episodes (1-5, at the time) in less than two months, I never really felt a particular attachment to Rose. Even now, I feel that her departure is overplayed, but at least it makes more sense now.

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  28. Kyle Maddex
    August 23, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

    I definitely agree about the shadow of Rose. I actually started watching the show during season 3 (specifically this episode), so I didn't know who Rose was and I quite liked Martha, even though she was pretty much defined as "not Rose," which we were reminded of time and time again.

    Martha always got a raw deal. I've talked to people who hate Martha because she was "trying too hard to be Rose" and "the Doctor only loves Rose and Martha's trying to steal him away!" It was always frustrating that she was always defined in terms of Rose, and how she wasn't as good as her.

    And I think you hit on why I like Donna so much – by all accounts, she should have been overshadowed by Rose, considering that Rose actually showed up in her season… but she wasn't She was a fantastic character, and I even loved her in "The Runaway Bride" (but I was also a big fan of The Catherine Tate Show, and so that episode was pretty much what I wanted to see and it worked to get me interested in checking out the show)

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  29. Galadriel
    August 23, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

    "How can we miss you if you don't go away?-" Yeah, that's my main issue with Rose summed up nicely. And with her returning for the 50th–whether from some point in season two or from the alternate universe–viewers will have another example to deal with.

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  30. David Thiel
    August 23, 2013 @ 3:03 pm

    FWIW, I don't mind that she's appearing in the anniversary special. Aside from the brief cameo in "The End of Time," it's been more than five years since she was in an episode proper. Now it feels more like nostalgia, and less like a guest who is still sitting on your sofa long after you started yawning loudly and commenting on the lateness of the hour.

    Besides, Tennant. I could do with some more Tennant.

    Reply

  31. Matthew Blanchette
    August 23, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

    "I doubt that any of that symbolism was intentional"

    That's our jane, though; always pulling stuff from her arse. 😛

    j/k

    Reply

  32. Matthew Blanchette
    August 23, 2013 @ 5:01 pm

    Really? I could do with some more classic Doctors who are still alive and haven't been in an episode for 10 to 20 years.

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  33. Scott
    August 23, 2013 @ 6:02 pm

    Team Genie, lives on his back…

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  34. Ross
    August 23, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

    I dunno. It was okay for the fourth doctor not to mope over Sarah Jane because that's the way TV worked in the 70s. Chuck Cunningham walks up the steps at the end of the first season of Happy Days and is never seen or spoken of again.

    The first time I broke up with a serious girlfriend, it took me more than a year to get over it. It wouldn't have been a dealbreaker for me if the Doctor had just "got on with having new adventures", but I think it would have seriously undermined the whole point of the Rose era. The Doctor could literally spend centuries mourning those he loved. If this lonely ageless god gets over Rose in a couple of weeks*, that's telling me that this isn't going to be the sort of show where the relationships between characters is important.

    (* I suppose they could have spun it by having the Doctor declare himself to be twelve hundred years old in Smith and Jones)

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  35. Scott
    August 23, 2013 @ 6:17 pm

    I'm actually quite interested to see what Moffat does with Ten and Rose in the special, because Moffat, when he wrote Rose in the Davies era, always seemed to avoid the 'cult', for want of a better word, that surrounded her. I can certainly see why Rose's departure was a big deal, but I definitely got the feeling that Davies was perhaps a bit too attached to Rose and found it a bit too hard to let her go, which bled into the rest of the series, whereas Moffat always wrote her as likeable and heroic without tipping over into The Most Specialest Companion Ever Syndrome.

    As for classic Doctors… I'm torn. On one hand, yeah, I'd obviously love to see all the old Doctors back for another round of glory. On the other, I honestly can't see any way of them doing "The Eleven Doctors" or whatever without it becoming a complete mess.

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  36. Scott
    August 23, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

    I agree to a point. Certainly, "Doctor Who" — or at least the show that "Doctor Who" became in the Davies era — couldn't afford to just brush Rose aside like she was nothing. That would have been damaging.

    But it couldn't afford to wallow in self pity about her absence, either, because that would be equally damaging. Certainly, the Doctor can in theory brood for centuries about losing the people he loves, but leaving aside the fact that realism aside this wouldn't really be much fun to watch, while "Doctor Who" became the Doctor Who And Rose Show in the Davies era, it was still at heart "Doctor Who". Change is still a part of its DNA. Doctors and companions will come and go, and in order for the show to continue the creators, the audience and the Doctor must accept this. It can't afford to get locked into one mode of storytelling for too long; the Doctor Who And Rose Show was a massive success, but the Doctor Who And Rose Show couldn't survive long-term by itself any more than the Tom Baker Show could back in the 1970s.

    It's a balancing act, and to be honest I think Davies really struggled to get the balance right (and I'm not convinced he was entirely successful), to the point where it began to affect the series a little bit. Like David says above, it's hard to miss someone when they just won't leave, and certainly, like Adam points out, Martha certainly suffered as a consequence. There never seemed to be that much more going on than "She's Not Rose (And Don't You Miss Rose SO MUCH? We Sure Do)".

    To be honest, as much as I'm ambivalent about much of Season 4 had Donna not come back, knocked everyone's socks off and reminded everyone (including the producers) that Rose wasn't the be-all of companions, I'm skeptical that the series would have survived much longer after Davies and Tennant left. Modern "Doctor Who" can't afford to just forget companions, but it can't afford to be consumed by their absence either, and with Rose it came dangerously close to doing so.

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  37. David Thiel
    August 23, 2013 @ 8:44 pm

    Let me expand that previous statement. I could do with some more Tennant…and I would love to see all of the living Doctors as well. (Especially McGann.) I don't care if it would be a complete mess, if you can't wallow in nostalgia for the flipping 50th anniversary, when can you?

    But yeah, I miss Tennant. When he said, "I don't want to go," I said, "THEN WHY ARE YOU GOING?!?" I truly had hoped he'd be the one to beat Tom Baker's run. After all, he was the uber-fan; why would he ever want to leave? (I guess money and fame and getting to marry your own daughter and have your favorite Doctor as your dad is a pretty fair trade.)

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  38. Darren K.
    August 23, 2013 @ 10:42 pm

    But Billie Piper had no popularity. She was a punchline, better known for being a washed up pop star and tabloid fodder for her marriage to Chris Evans. Christopher Ecchleston justified her being there. She has some little seen acting work that people insisted was good, but for the good and greater public, she was the big question mark. That ad you source shows how the show presents Rose as the main attraction, because the BBC had seen what it was going to show and knew it could rely on what Piper and Davies created. But it wasn't selling Billie Piper. She was a damaged brand and pretty close to the "light entertainment"version of Who that existed in people's minds.

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  39. Scott
    August 23, 2013 @ 11:13 pm

    As well as Darren's point, it is also worth noting that there is an equivalent teaser for Eccleston from around this time ("D'you wanna come with me?") which focusses on the Ninth Doctor and the TARDIS quite heavily, with Rose/Billie Piper nudged into the background.

    Certainly, they were heavily emphasising the Doctor-companion dynamic as an important part of the show, but it wasn't like they were wholly promoting it as The Billie Piper Show (That Happens To Feature Doctor Who) either. While Billie Piper was central to the show's renewal and success, it is fair to say that she got as much of a boost from the show as the show did from her; it wasn't entirely resting on her shoulders.

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  40. Scott
    August 23, 2013 @ 11:28 pm

    Hence why I'm torn; even for the 50th anniversary, nostalgia only goes so far. "The Five Doctors" was pushing my personal tolerance-because-of-nostalgia limits and that only had to deal with four leading men (five is we count Tom Baker footage). I'd love to see the old Doctors in action again, but trying to tell a decent story with eight leading men fighting for the spotlight could either be glorious or disastrous. If they did do it, I'd be satisfied with brief cameos rather than getting them all to the centre of the Death Zone for the big team-up again.

    As for why David Tennant didn't even challenge Tom Baker's run, I think the fact that Tom Baker's career post-Doctor Who mainly consisted of small parts that mostly make the viewer think "hey, isn't this character kind of like Doctor Who?" probably helped as well. As much a huge fan as he might be, he probably doesn't want to be typecast as the Doctor forever; he's still a pretty young guy with a career to think of.

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  41. Triturus
    August 24, 2013 @ 2:38 am

    Really? I could do with some more classic Doctors who are still alive and haven't been in an episode for 10 to 20 years.

    It's too late for that, surely. There would have to be some contrived handwavy story device to explain why they've aged but Smith's doctor hasn't. Putting them on screen now would just be an exercise in unnecessary nostalgia IMO. I think the Name of the Doctor handled it about right.

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  42. Corpus Christi Music Scene
    August 24, 2013 @ 7:11 am

    I like the way Moffat handled this situation with the exit of the Ponds. As there is no way of knowing how much time has passed between "Manhattan" and "Snowmen" , most of the fallout and crying and moping happens offstage. By the end of "Snowmen" , the Doctor is over it .

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  43. Daibhid C
    August 24, 2013 @ 7:48 am

    Regarding "the obligatory anagram"; you can believe it or not, but RTD insists that it's not intentional and that if you insist on writing "Mister" out in full the way no-one otherwise does, it's probably easier to get a "Master" anagram than not.

    Out of sheer perversity, my theory was that he was the Meddling Monk: "Saxon" indicating the character's first appearance.

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  44. Matthew Blanchette
    August 24, 2013 @ 7:53 am

    "There would have to be some contrived handwavy story device to explain why they've aged but Smith's doctor hasn't."

    You haven't seen "Time Crash"? Moffat explained it there; it's the "time differential", rendering a past Doctor the age he would be of a later incarnation when he meets up with one. As good an explanation as any — and it helps, of course, that the current showrunner wrote it. 🙂

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  45. Ross
    August 24, 2013 @ 9:25 am

    I'd love to see how Colin Baker or Sylvester McCoy would handle a modern-style Doctor Who script, but I can't imagine that's what they'd actually do with them. If I just want a bit of "What would JNT-era classic who have been like if they'd allowed JNT to bow out in favor of someone who hadn't burned out, I've got Big Finish, and I doubt we'd even get that much from a guest role in the anniversary special. More of a "Walk on, deliver a catchphrase, and leave" sort of thing.

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  46. Ross
    August 24, 2013 @ 9:39 am

    Yeah, I don't at all buy the idea that the anagram is intentional. If nothing else the whole "No. Six" thing only makes sense at all if you start by assuming that 6 is a plausible answer to "how many masters were there?" and then work backwards to justify it. (I mean, it requires that you count exactly two of Beevers, Pratt, Tipple or Jacobi) I think it's far more likely that what happened here was "If you start with the word 'Mister', "Master" plus something else will fall out no matter what, unless you avoid using the third most common letter in the english language"

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  47. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 24, 2013 @ 9:41 am

    If the Master did not have a terribly overelaborate bit of wordplay to hide his identity, we would have to invent one.

    So we did.

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  48. Triturus
    August 24, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

    Matthew
    Moffat explained it there; it's the "time differential", rendering a past Doctor the age he would be of a later incarnation when he meets up with one.

    I didn't know that! Moffat's a proper clever clogs, isn't he? 🙂

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  49. Prandeamus
    August 25, 2013 @ 5:35 am

    It may be just me, but wasn't there a Saxon poster in the cafe scenes in Parting of the Ways? Or else it's my false memory syndrome again, as I remarked to Napoleon yesterday.

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  50. Seeing_I
    August 25, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

    Its worth pointing out that RTD went to great lengths to establish that there are lots of good potential companions out there. Right away we get Jabe, Adam, Lynda, Sarah & K9, Mickey & Jack. Donna (at this point) follows firmly in this tradition. Rose may have been special, but right from the start RTD took care to telegraph to the audience that she's not be around forever.

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  51. reservoirdogs
    August 25, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

    Team Ellis! (which oddly fits better in with the blog than all the others)

    Reply

  52. David Anderson
    August 26, 2013 @ 1:20 am

    With the possible exceptions of Jabe and Lynda, the script asserts one way or another that each one couldn't possibly replace Rose. Most explicitly in relation to Sarah Jane, when the Doctor tells Rose that he'd never leave her the way he left Sarah Jane.

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  53. Seeing_I
    August 26, 2013 @ 8:23 am

    Yes, but that's what you WOULD tell someone, isn't it? He was saving her feelings. When it came down to it, he very much did (intend to) send her off to Pete's World where she'd be safe and live out a normal life.

    To my mind, at least, the proliferation of pseudo and ex companions in the first two series played a dual role, first making Rose seem special, but also indicating to the audience that she can't and won't be around forever (which is a major theme of S2) and that the universe is full of fun and worthy companions for the Doctor.

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  54. Seeing_I
    August 26, 2013 @ 8:25 am

    I don't think so but I clearly remember a Bad Wolf poster.

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  55. Scott
    August 26, 2013 @ 8:17 pm

    Adam at least doesn't really seem to be an example of a 'good potential companion' who could replace Rose though, seeing as the whole point of his character is that he is, in fact, spectacularly crap at being a Doctor Who companion and doesn't even come close to measuring up to Rose.

    To be honest, from where I'm sitting it seems to me that any balance the series may make between 'Rose is irreplaceably special' and 'there are plenty of potential companions who could replace Rose' is very heavily skewed towards the 'Rose is irreplaceably special' side of the spectrum at this point in the series.

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  56. prandeamus
    August 27, 2013 @ 2:37 am

    I stand corrected, in the absence of access to the actual episode right now. I'm off to have a chat with Cleopatra and the Duke of Wellington.

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  57. Galadriel
    August 27, 2013 @ 6:47 am

    In light of the idea that Rose was the centerpiece of the show, I found this article interesting http://metro.co.uk/2013/08/24/doctor-who-belonged-to-billie-piper-says-steven-moffat-3936721/

    Reply

  58. Seeing_I
    August 30, 2013 @ 11:34 am

    Random thoughts, a bit late – I generally enjoyed this episode, but I have a hard time re-watching it, due to the totally frenetic pace of the direction, and the bash-boom-wollop of the soundtrack, especially at the end, when it becomes just a cacophony of music, explosions, and "My childrennnn!" They were really trying way too hard with the "whimsical fun" and it just became manic and overbearing.

    I was very unsure of Donna's character in her opening scenes, which again were too frenetically paced, and she was just so shrewish. However, her character was totally sold by the "Santa's a robot" line. How she managed to get notes of fear, disbelief, "isn't this just typical" self pity and "this is all your fault" accusation into three little words is just a marvel.

    And of course,

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  59. Seeing_I
    August 30, 2013 @ 11:37 am

    And of course, the concept of Donna being "a Catherine Tate character" who outlives her sketch totally worked for me. The "punchline" being when Lance reads her up and down, voicing everything the audience is probably thinking, which brilliantly voices their discontent while also moving them sympathy because he's just so cruel. "You don't deserve to be a Doctor Who companion" is basically what he's saying, and a large part of the audience probably thought the same. But everything after her "sketch" ends, her denoument, is when she becomes an actual character – and by far my favorite companion in the new series.

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  60. William Silvia
    October 7, 2013 @ 11:22 pm

    I knew the Master was coming, but only because I read it on Wikipedia. I was probably in the beginning of this season when I came across the Master and Davros in my research. Not long afterward I learned that they were both coming in my near future.

    Oh, and "teams"?
    Rose as meaning most to the Doctor and Doctor Who.
    Martha as being the quintessential companion and the only one tough enough to go through both Human Nature and The Sound of Drums.
    Donna as being the companion to go through the most obvious character growth.

    Reply

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