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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.

89 Comments

  1. SK
    April 19, 2013 @ 12:12 am

    Actually, what Davies realised with the Toclafane (as Miles had earlier: doesn't Interference have a bit where the Enemy's homeworld is identified; but which Richards missed) is that there is only one other species in Doctor Who with equal cultural weight to the Time Lords and the Daleks:

    Us.

    Reply

  2. Scott
    April 19, 2013 @ 12:33 am

    This exactly.

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  3. Stuart Ian Burns
    April 19, 2013 @ 1:50 am

    Isn't the Soul and Zezanne thing portrayed more as a kind of "one possible past" affair. It seems to me that post The Ancestor Cell of the strands of the books is that the Doctor doesn't have a past or rather a multitude of different origins, allowing for whatever the New Adventures have in mind or the messing about on Barnes Common as other potential origins, the point being that time is constantly in flux anyway (which also neatly means everything is canonical even the Cushing Movies).

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  4. Daibhid C
    April 19, 2013 @ 2:46 am

    One could also argue that, rather than be so deluded they thought they could change continuity, they realised they were so niche it didn't matter if they changed continuity.

    It's like superhero comics. There's a difference, because unlike the EDAs they're the original medium for the characters, but they're still not where the general public knows them from. And so they're free to have Clark Kent quit the Daily Planet, or Spider-Man's brain get taken over by a villain, aware that, after the initial burst of publicity to remind people these characters exist, everyone who isn't a comic reader will continue to have the "default" version of the character in their heads.

    The reason Soul and Zezanne didn't work for me was that it seemed so pointless; if the Time Lords had never existed (which I wasn't convinced was the case) then the currently existing Doctor couldn't have had half the recorded adventures. So what's the point in carefully recreating the "Susan and her Grandfather" setup, which the Doctor doesn't even remember anyway? How do you get from there to here?

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  5. Ross
    April 19, 2013 @ 3:56 am

    Except, of course, that the Toclafane don't actually do that when they finally appear. They're just… The Master's henchmen. We get one good scare out of them when they cuisinart the "president elect", and another when several billion of them fall into a time-hole, but then little if anything. And that's really for the best, since the whole "They are very deadly but utterly childlike" thing is really only good for one big scare and some delicious savory irony along the lines of a clever Fan-Audio I once heard ('The Hugs of Death', in which the Doctor and his companion are taken prisoner by the Teletubbies).

    The concept is interesting, and they're good for a scare, but they've got the same basic problem as the Time Lords: the more we see of them, the less we're impressed by them. Only they have it worse, because the audience, most of them, already know several humans.

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  6. Prole Hole
    April 19, 2013 @ 4:21 am

    Yea that's pretty much what I remember it being presented as also, though I'll admit it's been a few years since I read it. The Totters Lane stuff epilogue I never felt was meant to be the ultimate retcon of the Doctors origins, or a complete attempt to explain how there's still a Doctor out there despite the elimination of all the other Time Lords (except for the ones who aren't eliminated), it's just one possibility, a hint of what mind have been or could have been. The whole book is concerned with the fixed aspects of the past and how the Doctor actively resists this against the Council of Eight's desire to establish One Timeline, so it would seem especially perverse to tack on an ending that then locked in an origin story which becomes a fixed point.

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  7. Tom Dickinson
    April 19, 2013 @ 4:35 am

    This is an odd claim because the Cybermen are also "Us."

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  8. SK
    April 19, 2013 @ 5:00 am

    The Cybermen aren't 'Us': they are the product of parallel evolution either on another planet, or in a different universe. They are no more 'Us' than any other race which happens to look exactly like humans.

    And indeed, the actual execution of the Toclafane is disappointing and doesn't live up to the idea. But the only satisfying answers to 'Who could take on the time Lords?' are 'the Daleks' and 'humans'. But in both cases the idea is better than any possible execution, so the canny creator will leave it in the background.

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  9. Theonlyspiral
    April 19, 2013 @ 6:04 am

    Ah Hell.

    I had just picked this for my essay in the McGann Book and here you've already done it. This is going to be more difficult than I originally anticipated.

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  10. Elizabeth Sandifer
    April 19, 2013 @ 6:11 am

    If you want to fill in more of this general theme you could pick Timeless or one of the books that feeds into this.

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  11. Froborr
    April 19, 2013 @ 6:14 am

    I dunno, I think the "utterly childlike" thing could have worked really well if it were executed better. Children have an incredible capacity for vicious bloodthirstiness that no adult can match.

    The main issues, I think, are their annoying voices, the fact that they never hurt any characters we care about, and their bland appearance. If they looked either very menacing or very silly or a hybrid of the two, had harsher, more "grown up" voices, and killed, say, one of Martha's family members, they'd have been downright chilling.

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  12. Froborr
    April 19, 2013 @ 6:19 am

    Wait, the Toclafane? The Time Lords' enemies in the Time War was going to be the TOCLAFANE!?

    That's brilliant! Not just because of what SK points out, though that's an excellent point. It also does amazing things to how the war would have played out for the Doctor (obviously, not on screen, but in fan imaginations): instead of the fairly interesting thread of "Doctor opposes Daleks, slowly realizes the Time Lords have gone from decadent and corrupt to megalomaniacal evil, destroys both species" we get the utterly gripping thread of "Doctor caught in the middle between his biological and adoptive species, both of which spend the war transforming into something unrecognizable and horrifying, and his desperate attempts to save both fail and he is forced to destroy them."

    Not to mention that it has thematic resonances all the way back to The Tenth Planet…

    On the other hand, is it worth not having the Ninth Doctor's best episode, Dalek? Probably not.

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  13. ferret
    April 19, 2013 @ 6:40 am

    Would also have put a new spin on his whole relationship with Rose and later companions "I killed all your decendents, you lot all become something horrible".

    Somehow this gives some more resonance to the Masters Wife's hollow attitude of "what's the point in anything" once she had been to the end of the universe and seen the human race become the Toclafane. Wonder how Rose would have coped?

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  14. Theonlyspiral
    April 19, 2013 @ 6:44 am

    My problem is I borrowed many of these from a friend as they came out, and didn't have a great understanding of what was happening. I haven't managed to get my hands on that many and so I'm working from the discontinuity guide and hazy memories.

    Right now I might just default to Revolution Man because for some reason it has a soft spot in my heart. Also revisiting the Psychedelia of the Troughten era through a little more cynical lens interests me.

    Of course I just spent my Tax money on a pile of EDA's from amazon. So we'll see.

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  15. Theonlyspiral
    April 19, 2013 @ 6:46 am

    You mean Father's Day right? Ninth Doctor's best episode?

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  16. Ununnilium
    April 19, 2013 @ 7:00 am

    But Justin Richards is up to the task, answering for all of the negative four people who were really interested in what the Doctor’s origins were in the new post-Time Lord universe.

    See, this could have been awesome. I mean, you could do anything here – you could work in the Master of the Land of Fiction in Exile, easy. Sure, it would have been marginal, but so what? Today's marginal is tomorrow's mainstream.

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  17. Tiffany Korta
    April 19, 2013 @ 7:01 am

    Cause we are assuming that the Toclafane would be as is if they had been the Big Bad. It's possible they'd have been written differently as a series wide threat.

    It possible with the right set up that they you could have set up a totally new villain, after all several of the nuWho monsters are iconic, but the Dalek's just have that built in factor. A Dalek factor if you will ;).

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  18. Theonlyspiral
    April 19, 2013 @ 7:02 am

    I agree the childlike attitude could have been utilized to greater effect there…but what do you cut to make room and expand their role in the episode? Do we cut the human element somewhat? Do we roll back the Master? I almost feel like the Toclafane AND the Season ender would have been served by splitting them up. Make the Toclafane a two parter earlier in the season and then play up the Master and tweak his scheme a little.

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  19. Ununnilium
    April 19, 2013 @ 7:02 am

    The Cybermen were "Us" in their first appearance. Indeed, the Tenth Planet Cybermen basically are the Toclafane – a future humanity whose journey through the endless abyss leaves us monsters.

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  20. Elizabeth Sandifer
    April 19, 2013 @ 7:03 am

    You've got plenty of time to think about it too – I'm well over a year from starting on the book version of this era.

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  21. Ununnilium
    April 19, 2013 @ 7:05 am

    Revolution Man was one of two I actually read when they came out, so I'd be interested in that. I found it terribly underwhelming at the time, but I wouldn't be surprised if I missed something.

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  22. SK
    April 19, 2013 @ 7:24 am

    No: the Cybermen in their first appearance were not 'us', they were a dark mirror reflecting us back at ourselves.

    More importantly, though, since then the cultrual baggage of 'Cybermen' has become 'another alien race'. Familiarity has bred contempt.

    They wouldn't have worked. Not like,

    'Doctor, you never told me… this war that killed your people, who was it against?'

    'Don't ask stupid questions, Rose. Especially not when they're outside trying to kill us.'

    'Yes, but if they're going to kill me, I'd like to at least know their name. It's not a stupid name, is it? I'd hate to be killed by the Flaxitorians. Or the–'

    'No. It's not a stupid name. now hut up. I'm trying to deadlock this door.'

    'Who, then? I mean, they way you talk about them, they're, like, the Nazis and Genghis Khan and Margaret Thatcher all rolled into one. Who are they, Doctor? Who–'

    'You! You want to know who tore the universe apart, who split time itself in their petty little quest to put themselves at the centre of everything? Who turned my own people into monsters until I had to damn both sides and my own soul, just to end the slaughter? It was you. Ha. Humanity. I used to praise your ingenuity, your spirit. I stood in front of the High Council and I defended you. And… now. This door.'

    '… Sorry?'

    … would have worked.

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  23. Christopher Haynes
    April 19, 2013 @ 7:57 am

    In Terry Nation's short story "We are the Daleks!" the Daleks are revealed to be descended from humans who were abducted from Earth by alien scientists and taken to another planet.

    I'm sure there are negative four people who consider that story canon — even Nation didn't reference it in "Genesis of the Daleks" two years later — but much like Froborr I've always liked the notion that an offshoot of humanity became the Doctor's arch-enemies and ultimately went to war with the Time Lords.

    It also makes for a nice 'in-universe' explanation for all the times Daleks have been made from humans (or in Sec's case, physically merged with one).

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  24. Theonlyspiral
    April 19, 2013 @ 8:13 am

    It's so bitter. The Doctor and Sam especially look at the Psychedelia and Anarchists through a lens of wasted potential. But at the same time the Doctor thinks on the positive aspects in the same paragraph that he condemns them for being angry youth. It's…very strange.

    I know I have lots of time. But to be honest this blog is often the highlight of my work day. I am quite excited by this, and want to make a "Good Choice". I wouldn't want to inadvendently stick you with something like "The Fall of Yquatine" or something equally horrid.

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  25. Theonlyspiral
    April 19, 2013 @ 8:15 am

    [Fanboy] That would explain why the Thal radiation drugs worked on the TARDIS crew! [/Fanboy]

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  26. Theonlyspiral
    April 19, 2013 @ 8:16 am

    I could hear the Ninth Doctor saying that. Bravo sir.

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  27. Froborr
    April 19, 2013 @ 8:49 am

    Oh, VERY nice SK. I agree, I can totally hear Eccleston saying that.

    And a nice touch with Rose naming three very human, real-world villains as a bit of last-minute foreshadowing.

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  28. Froborr
    April 19, 2013 @ 8:56 am

    Somehow this gives some more resonance to the Masters Wife's hollow attitude of "what's the point in anything" once she had been to the end of the universe and seen the human race become the Toclafane. Wonder how Rose would have coped?

    Yes! It really does, doesn't it? As for how Rose would have coped, I suspect she would have collapsed into a useless pile of suck, only to somehow serve as the nexus for a deus ex machina that almost (but not quite) makes us forget how utterly useless she is.

    You mean Father's Day right? Ninth Doctor's best episode?

    No, that's Rose's best episode.

    Dalek is the Ninth Doctor's best episode–the one where Eccleston gets to ACT, the one where we get a glimpse of what's going on under the surface, and an absolutely excellent story to boot.

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  29. Froborr
    April 19, 2013 @ 8:58 am

    In Terry Nation's short story "We are the Daleks!" the Daleks are revealed to be descended from humans who were abducted from Earth by alien scientists and taken to another planet.

    …So giving away the twist in the title was some sort of bizarre compulsion he suffered from, I guess?

    (Still wants to write "Conspiracy of the Daleks" someday, in which the big twist is that the Daleks never actually show up.)

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  30. Theonlyspiral
    April 19, 2013 @ 9:29 am

    I did think about it as the best Story of his Tenure. In my opinion of course.

    In terms of the Doctor's best episode, pure from an Eccleston point of view? I'd go to "Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances". We see so much from him there. He acts the hell out of that…and we see happy. Actually JOYFUL. Something we hadn't really gotten at that point.

    I think Rose's reaction would have been similar to her reaction in "The End of the World". She'd realize that there was a point to everything after having a conversation with the Doctor.

    I think you're slamming Rose a little harshly here. She has her highs and her lows. She's not close to my favorite companion but it's not like she's Adric or anything.

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  31. Alan
    April 19, 2013 @ 9:46 am

    I have often toyed with a fanwanky explanation for all this weirdness that is borne of the unnamed Time Lady's comment at the council meeting at the start of End of Time pt 2 — "Millions of people dying every second, and then being reborn to die again in some other way." I wondered if the Time War became so destructive to Time itself that causality started to break down. The inconsistencies in the Eighth Doctor's biography and the fact that (according to some people) there have been three Ninth Doctors are actually the result of the chaos of the Time War generating multiple, inherently contradictory time lines, some of which — like "the Doctor was never a Time Lord but rather a rogue member of the Council of Eight" — are just nonsensical. Certainly, changing the Doctor's very origin sounds like a possible result of causality damaging weaponry.

    It was only after the Doctor gained control of "The Moment" (and what a perfect name for a Time Lord WMD) and used it to trap all of the Time War participants in a Time Lock that the disruption stopped and the rest of the Universe returned to a linear temporal progression, Result: Now, there is only one Doctor and we can now follow his adventures in a linear progression without wondering how to reconcile it with his completely different and unrelated adventures in a different medium. At this point, I would be prepared to accept the theory that the Time War started five minutes after Survival, and every single book, every single audio, and every single minute of the TV movie, are all the result of disruptions to the Doctor's time line caused by the Time War. Everything "happened" including the stuff that contradicted itself, but only because Time itself was under assault.

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  32. Ununnilium
    April 19, 2013 @ 10:04 am

    That would indeed work well. <3

    (And yeah, the Cybermen had lost that by 2005, easy.)

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  33. Blueshift
    April 19, 2013 @ 10:20 am

    What? No, Earth is the home planet of the Enemy because the enemy is in fact GIANT SPIDERS, deflecting the Doctor off course from Metabelis 3 so their ascent to godhood would be unchallenged, and allow them to weave their own WEB OF TIME.

    Ahem.

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  34. Froborr
    April 19, 2013 @ 10:24 am

    Adric was annoying, yes, but Rose is actually a terrible person. Never once does she show any interest in the worlds or people she steps out of the TARDIS into. She's a tourist, there for the sights and tagging along behind the Doctor. Part of the role of the companion, possibly the primary role in the new series, is to be the Doctor's conscience, and Rose fails utterly at it because she has zero empathy and zero interest in anyone but herself and the Doctor.

    I can't think of a single instance of Rose doing anything to suggest she even sees the people she encounters outside the TARDIS as real or cares about them in the slightest. She's utterly self-centered, cares about nothing but what she wants, and I don't understand why she didn't get chucked out after she demonstrated it in Father's Day.

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  35. Ross
    April 19, 2013 @ 10:24 am

    I rather like the idea of "Now that the Time Lords are gone, causality is a bit buggered, and time itself is just trying to make the best of it by shoving the remaining bits and pieces wherever they will fit to fill the gaps–" it's an element I rather liked in the fallout from The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang. But this storyline with the crystal skeletons and Zezanne and the Doctor's new backstory all feels very much like Justin Richards was just trying to win an argument with someone on the internet (An argument that goes "Oh yeah? But if Gallifrey never existed then the Doctor can't POSSIBLY still exist since EVERYONE KNOWS that time travel DOESN'T REALLY WORK THAT WAY!").

    And, of course, if, as has been claimed, it was "always" the plan to have things turn out the way The Gallifrey Chronicles says it does, and reveal that the Time Lords did still "ever existed", the whole thing just seems a bit extra pointless. (Though I no more believe that they'd "always" planned to go to where the EDAs went any more than I believe Big Finish had "always" planned to have it turn out that the Doctor's Absolutely Irreversible Uncurable Anti-Time Infection would be cured within a few seconds of him entering the Divergents' Universe)

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  36. Froborr
    April 19, 2013 @ 10:26 am

    Five minutes after Survival? Don't be silly. The Time War started five minutes into Genesis of the Daleks. Or arguably even as far back as The Chase.

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  37. Elizabeth Sandifer
    April 19, 2013 @ 10:54 am

    As far back as The Chase?

    Come now. The Doctor flees Gallifrey, his TARDIS breaks down on Earth where he waits for two companions who will teach him to be a hero, and then where is the first place he goes?

    The Time War clearly begins five minutes prior to An Unearthly Child.

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  38. Rob Shearman
    April 19, 2013 @ 11:20 am

    Ah, yes! The Toclofane draft! (In the oh-so-wittily titled 'Absence of the Daleks'. I was so sure I was going to get sacked, and I decided that if I were going to be consigned to a footnote in an Andrew Pixley archive, I'd go down with a funny joke.)

    I think the cleverness of Russell's idea is as exactly has been said – that the only other Big Bad that would have worked as the opponents in the Time War was humanity itself. But my draft of it was sold upon the mystery of their identity. The idea was that somewhere, out of the blue, this unknown alien race had appeared and attacked all sentient life – wiping out in the process races like the Daleks, and decimating ones like the Gelth. When the Doctor annihilated both Time Lords and enemy alike, he still would have had no idea what they might have been. He'd have destroyed them without ever knowing what it was that had cost him his own planet, and that would have haunted him.

    So… the main thrust of the drama of my story was that the Doctor becomes aware (as he does in the Dalek version) that there's an enemy survivor, the presence of which mocks the sacrifice of his own people. But his desperation would have been channelled more into demanding to learn their identity. "Just tell me what the hell you are!" And the sphere would have eventually died refusing to give the Doctor that extra consolation. The Doctor doesn't want it dead until it knows what it might be – and it forces the Doctor to kill it to save Rose's life. It dies laughing at his ignorance.

    We'd only have learned about the fact they're future humanity in Chris' very final episode – and it would be that knowledge, that his greatest enemy was also the very species he had always protected, that would have made his regeneration all the more tragic. As far as I know, we'd never have heard the name Toclafane. I never heard that until season three aired some years later – when (inevitably) the spheres had been robbed a little of their forced iconography, and turned into henchmen for the Master.

    I think Russell's idea was amazing – but it would have inevitably been less audience-pleasing than bringing back the old pepperpots. He wanted them to be silent, originally – I found it far too hard to write my Dalek equivalent monster unless it could speak (otherwise, where do you go with the emotional journey of Rose?), so I resorted to using my 'evil giggly child' villain from my first Big Finish play. I was rather chuffed watching Sound of Drums to see that element to them had been retained.

    Oh, and SK? That was brilliant dialogue. 🙂

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  39. Froborr
    April 19, 2013 @ 11:30 am

    Hmm. I guess it depends on how you define "began." I see either Genesis of the Daleks or The Chase as the opening shots, though like many wars both sides were drawing up their lines and preparing themselves long before hostilities began.

    Can we agree that it most likely went from a cold war fought by spies and agents and proxies to an all-out hot war in the last episode of Remembrance of the Daleks?

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  40. Theonlyspiral
    April 19, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

    The Time War is. This is why we have so much trouble with Susan, and the incompatibility of so much of the earlier lore and the late, as well as the Doctor's other two grandchildren. The Time War has been raging forever and as it's battles are fought time is rewritten. That's where the Time Lord's second heart came from. That's why the Weeping Angels appear in the legend of Gallifrey later rather than earlier (A Dalek Weapon?) There is no Beginning or Ending. Until the Doctor set what was in stone by using the Moment the war had been raging forever and would rage forever.

    As an Aside: Does anyone else REALLY REALLY badly want a Fourth Doctor/Sarah Jane/Harry story with the Weeping Angels?

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  41. Theonlyspiral
    April 19, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

    I can think of a couple off hand: her concern over the Gwyneth in "The Unquiet Dead", and her humanizing sympathy for the Dalek in "Dalek" doesn't really gel with the "utterly self-centered" view of her.

    Yes she and David Tennent are absolutely insufferable in "The Idiot's Lantern" and "Fear Her". But I mean….she partially dissolved the walls of creation to get back to the Doctor. That's pretty freaking impressive. If "Tourist Following the Doctor Around" is a problem…then is there a Companion you do like? Because most are way, way more passive than Rose.

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  42. Ununnilium
    April 19, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

    Ooooooh. That's very interesting.

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  43. Ununnilium
    April 19, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

    Yes, please!

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  44. Froborr
    April 19, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

    You raise a good point, which is that Rose had glimmerings of humanity early on which faded rapidly after "Dalek." By the Tennant run she's utterly insufferable IMO.

    Rose dissolving the walls of creation is pure Davies ex machina, it has nothing to do with her as a character or any sort of natural progression. There is absolutely nothing about her to suggest she ought to be capable of pulling something like that off except her magical ability to pull new powers out of her ass every time she leaves the Doctor for a little while. I imagine that in the 50th Anniversary she'll be able to fly and shoot Dalek rays from her eyes.

    There's plenty of companions I like who do more than tag along after the Doctor. Here's four of my favorites, in chronological order:
    Barbara
    Sarah Jane
    Ace
    Donna

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  45. Froborr
    April 19, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

    Does anyone else REALLY REALLY badly want a Fourth Doctor/Sarah Jane/Harry story with the Weeping Angels?

    Well, I do now!

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  46. Theonlyspiral
    April 19, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

    Or it's a matter of her being resourceful, finding the right people and working towards a goal. Which is what we see from her in "The Satan Pit" after the Doctor disappears, or what we see her doing in "Turn Left". Rose figures out what she CAN do, even if it isn't much. The moment when she shows she has what it takes is in "Rose" when she swings on the chain and knocks the Anti-Plastic into the Nestine. She doesn't have much but she'll make what she has work for her.

    I will admit she is insufferable in Series 2 more often than not. But she's no worse than Victoria, Tegan, Peri, Mel or Martha in terms of touristing around. She's at worst a mediocre companion who got a little too much screen time. Part and Parcel of the ethos of this blog is redemptive readings. Isn't it better to note the things about her that fail, but find a way that she works? Dr. Sandifier made the Collin Baker years work. How hard can it be to find a way that Rose is palatable?

    I find it interesting our lists of competent companions have similarities but are different:
    Stephan
    Sarah Jane
    Donna
    Rory

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  47. Theonlyspiral
    April 19, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

    There are a lot of NuWho monsters – Classic Doctor pairings I want to see:

    Third Doctor and Jo with the Ood Corporation
    Sixth Doctor/Peri against the Slitheen
    Seventh Doctor/Ace against the Silence

    I think there is a LOT of potential there.

    Of course I also want to see an Ice Warrior story with every Doctor so I might have a problem.

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  48. encyclops
    April 19, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

    But let’s back up to an even more fundamental point – if not the Daleks, then who?

    If we're going to get fundamental, can we also ask "if not a Time War, then what?"

    Obviously I mean in the BBC Wales series, not in the books. Why a war? I mean, I guess there are a few things it accomplishes:

    1. Cuts the umbilical to Gallifrey and the Time Lords.

    2. Gives the Doctor a reason not to want to talk about the more ostensibly dull areas of continuity.

    3. Provides an emotional burden to lend gravitas to our protagonist.

    I can see the value of #1, and I guess it's a cleaner way to do #2, but #3 is the only one I really find fully rewarding since it's something we really haven't seen before.

    I'm not 100% convinced it's the only way to have done this, though I might be convinced it's the best.

    What it doesn't do is get rid of the Daleks, and there was never a need to do so. They've always just appeared and disappeared, and they've done so several times since the new show started, rather less convincingly each time.

    So how about this? Is there any reason there HAD to be a Time War? Could it have been a Time anything else? If the war is a given, okay, it's either the Daleks or us (and how much more fascinating, as in SK's terrific scene, if it had been us). But is it a given?

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  49. John Seavey
    April 19, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

    You know, I was going to post a comment about how the Toclafane sounded just amazing in Rob's draft, and how awesome that version of the first season would have been, and how great of an idea it was because it was a prior Doctor Who monster, the most frequently-appearing Doctor Who monster…the human race.

    And now there's no need. Oh well. Back to work! 🙂

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  50. HarlequiNQB
    April 19, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

    That's extremely interesting Rob, thank you for sharing. I'd not previously been aware of the possibility of this; I know they were a possible substitute for the Dalek in, well, Dalek, but not that they were to replace them in the central role of the Time War's antagonists as well. Up until today I was under the impression that the Daleks had been specifically chosen for that role not just because they made the most sense, but because it was also a great reason for never having to depict them if the rights beyond the name could not be secured. I actually prefer the plan as you've stated it, even given the inclusion of Daleks in the reborn show.

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  51. SK
    April 19, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

    Um. Thanks. All. Especially Mr Shearman.

    (Makes me feel ashamed for what I wrote at the time, about Daleks and trick shots. At length. Tell you what, if we ever meet again, I owe you at least one pint, yes? Now you probably know who I am.)

    I think though that's hitting the nail on the head: it would have been awesome from an aesthetic point of view, but much less crowd-pleasing. I wonder if, in that might-have-been, Doctor Who is still on air…

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  52. Froborr
    April 19, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

    Man, I thought I was the only person happy to see the Ice Warriors come back last weekend!

    Especially since I'm wondering if the whole "long-dead leader appears after 5,000 years, first thing he does on returning to his people is spare his enemies" thing might have something to do with their heel-face turn in Curse of Peladon…

    Also, SO MUCH YES to Seven and Ace vs. the Silence. I think I want that more than Four and Angels.

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  53. Elizabeth Sandifer
    April 19, 2013 @ 7:43 pm

    I rather agree on Four/Angels.

    Though it's actually a quite weird one I've never been able to get out of my head: One, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki on Starship UK.

    Reply

  54. Ununnilium
    April 19, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

    Yes, yes, and yes. <3 Also, the Second Doctor and the Dream Lord, in a sequel to The Mind Robber.

    Reply

  55. Ununnilium
    April 19, 2013 @ 7:46 pm

    Well, I have a #4, which is "provides a clean break between old series and new". Which probably means it had to be either an apocalyptic war or an apocalyptic… something else?

    Reply

  56. Froborr
    April 19, 2013 @ 7:49 pm

    I've never watched any Stephen, so that's why he's not on my list.

    Rory… I dunno. There are moments I love him, and then there are moments when he and Amy are acting out Moffat's twisted notions of gender politics and I want them both to die in a fire.

    I can enjoy almost all of the episodes with Rose in them. (Not The Satan Pit two-parter, Idiot's Lantern, or Fear Her, but other than that.) That still doesn't make me like Rose. As I think I said, either here or in another thread, Rose is a crap companion who got great stories, while Martha is a companion with a lot of potential who got no opportunity to demonstrate it.

    Reply

  57. T. Hartwell
    April 19, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

    Well, given the amount of vocal detractors who try and claim the new series isn't "real" Doctor Who because of that break, I'm not exactly sure that's quite a good thing.

    Reply

  58. Froborr
    April 19, 2013 @ 10:37 pm

    If the break weren't there, they'd claim some other excuse for it not being "real" Doctor Who. Probably the fact that BBC Wales is making it, would be my guess.

    Reply

  59. encyclops
    April 19, 2013 @ 10:54 pm

    That's the interesting question to me: did it have to be a war to provide that clean break? I don't think it's a rhetorical question; the answer could very well be yes. I'm just curious about why.

    For example, is it crucial for the Doctor to have been involved? It seems like the answer is "duh," and yet "my home planet was destroyed by marauding Daleks…a shining civilization, peaceful and neutral with respect to all around it, wiped out by the forces of hatred and death" only sounds pukey-twee to us because of what we know of the old series.

    We know Gallifrey was an effete, ossified place and we presume he left because he was bored out of his skull because of The Deadly Assassin and The Invasion of Time and Arc of Infinity and Trial of a Time Lord. Even so, RTD could have made up anything he liked if he really wanted a clean break. Instead he went for what in practice is a seamless transition, even going so far as to show us, in The End of Time, the logical conclusion of the devolution from The War Games to ToaTL and through the novels — thoroughly corrupt Time Lords, barely distinguishable from Daleks in their schemes and goals.

    It seems like there are probably a lot of ways Gallifrey could have burned out or faded away. My gut says this must have been the most dramatically interesting and satisfying one, but my head says that there's something a little gauche about it. Dr. Sandifer's framing it as the bug-eyed monsters vs. the overshares (was it part of Newman's original concept also that we not find out where the Doctor is really from?) helps a little, but I look forward to hitting the question harder when we get into the new series proper.

    Reply

  60. Froborr
    April 19, 2013 @ 11:04 pm

    Remaking "Empty Child/The Doctor Dances" with Five and Turlough would be interesting…

    And part of me wants to watch Four and Romana meeting the Judoon. Those poor, poor Judoon.

    Reply

  61. Froborr
    April 19, 2013 @ 11:07 pm

    The only other thing I can see working is that they just vanished, and the Doctor doesn't know where, how, or why.

    But that would require the new series to fully embrace the cult SF model, and that would not be good for the show long-term.

    Reply

  62. Scott
    April 20, 2013 @ 1:13 am

    "Well, given the amount of vocal detractors who try and claim the new series isn't "real" Doctor Who because of that break, I'm not exactly sure that's quite a good thing."

    To be blunt, though, who cares about them? Like Froborr says, that type would latch on to any excuse not to accept the show as "real" Doctor Who. They're the very definition of whingers who can't move on from the past.

    Reply

  63. Scott
    April 20, 2013 @ 1:33 am

    [self promotion time]

    I actually wrote a fanfiction where the Fourth Doctor, Leela and K9 met a Weeping Angel.

    I regret nothing.

    Reply

  64. Scott
    April 20, 2013 @ 1:39 am

    As for the Time War, it's also the reason we have so many adventures popping up between the gaps in the TV series, why depending on your interpretation the Fifth Doctor and Peri have either only just met before he chooses to sacrifice himself for her or are old friends by that point, why there's lots of fuzzy patches in the Doctor's memory where he can't remember quite what happened in his first and second incarnations, and more.

    They used to call them "Missing Adventures" for a reason, after all.

    Reply

  65. Scott
    April 20, 2013 @ 1:57 am

    With regards to the alternate stand-in of the Toclafane … to be honest, I'm torn. On one hand, SK wrote a hell of a scene up there and Rob Shearman's outline above is teeth-clenchingly "why do we not have this I WANT THIS RIGHT NOW" awesome.

    On the other hand, the Toclafane as is are already pushing the boundaries of Doctor Who's more-or-less ultimately optimistic approach to humanity as far as I think they can be pushed in many ways. I think making humanity the monsters of the Time War and the killers of the Doctor's people on top of already being the horrific fate that awaits all of us at the end of time runs the risk of pushing Doctor Who into a too-dark little corner that it would ultimately struggle to get out from. Because when you get down to it, for all the horror and monsters Doctor Who is in many ways a hopeful, optimistic show, and I think this approach would run the risk of damaging that in ways that could be quite off-putting for most of the audience. At the very least, humanity would have had to have one hell of a redeeming moment at some point down the line to resolve the issues this plotline would throw up, such as the big "why would the Doctor bother to keep helping the species that become the monsters that kill his entire race if he's that cut up about his race dying" question.

    It also strikes me as a very cult sci-fi approach in many ways; it's the sort of thing that sci-fi fans love (humans are the ultimate Doctor Who monsters!), but that other audiences might find a bit too off-putting (oh great, it's another dark sci-fi show about how horrible humanity is; pass). Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, of course, and I've not doubt we'd get some cracking stories out of it, but I DO doubt that we'd get the successful TV show we have today out of it. Honestly, much as I would like to have seen this approach, I can't help but think that what we might have got was ultimately the better option. The Daleks have been might be the safer bet, but sometimes taking a risk just means it's easier to shoot yourself in the foot if things go wrong.

    Although Rob, if you're still reading this: "Absence of the Daleks"? Awesome. If you think you're on the way out, go out with style. 😀

    Reply

  66. Adam Riggio
    April 20, 2013 @ 2:10 am

    Even beyond the question of whether such a more bleak show would have caught on with the British public the way it did, that idea would have completely changed the direction of the show. Because when the Doctor learns the identity of the enemy in the Eccleston season finale, that wouldn't be the last of what he'd do with the knowledge. Because it isn't within the nature of the show (or given the unfortunate dearth of actual extra-terrestrial actors in the UK television world) to abandon humanity after learning it.

    So you'd have this paranoid new dimension to Tennant's Doctor after that regeneration: Now that he knows who the Enemy was, every interaction he has with humanity is either tainted with that knowledge of our future, or may be a pre-planned interference with our history to prevent us becoming the Enemy. It's an even more intense version of the Waters of Mars question (What gives you the right to dictate terms to history itself?), only spread throughout the entire rest of the show. It would have resulted in a show totally incompatible with the optimistic vision the Davies era laid out.

    Reply

  67. Seeing_I
    April 20, 2013 @ 5:37 am

    I was always disappointed that the series didn't follow up the Toclafane revelations. Knowing what's to become of us, and knowing that we are still out there, at the end of the universe, becoming THAT… shivers It's just not like the Doctor to just leave it that way. But perhaps it's too big in scope and too dark in tone for the series to really tackle.

    Reply

  68. David Ainsworth
    April 20, 2013 @ 5:51 am

    Now I'm curious as to how the Toclofane would have worked with this build-up. As it was, I think their biggest problem isn't that the "childlike insanity" doesn't play, it's that we have to be told they're human beings and the claim doesn't seem quite believable. It's a similar problem to the Cybermen, post Tenth Planet, where they stop being like us and turn into machine-men who want to make us like them in a mechanical sense, not a spiritual one.

    If we can look at the Toclofane without immediately recognizing their humanity, we can reject the deeper point behind them.

    Of course, the "humanity can be the enemy, but how to make that work" problem goes back a long way. Witness the Vardans and Kelner's disappointed realization that they're just humans, that despite the fact that so far as we can tell, they manage the only (temporarily) successful invasion of Gallifrey ever. (There's absolutely no case to be made that the Sontarans could have managed on their own.)

    I really think the only way to pull off the surprise without allowing for the "they aren't really us" response would have been to duplicate the Koquillion trick from The Rescue. Show us something we rationalize as "human in suit" in a literal, not fictional, sense, and then demonstrate that we're wrong.

    I could see an alternative, though: make humanity the other side on the Time War but give both sides a reason for us to support their cause, and a reason to condemn them as monstrous. Make the Time War tragic on a different scale, an inevitable confrontation between the Masters of Time and those destined to succeed them.

    The Daleks work really well, and I appreciate the ways the new series generally (and Dalek specifically) has developed their characterization, but in some ways they're a little too facile as villains. And the "genetically designed to be evil" element sometimes comes uncomfortably close to making them racially evil.

    Reply

  69. jane
    April 20, 2013 @ 6:04 am

    I strongly prefer the Daleks, on pretty much the same grounds I object to "pure historicals," as oxymoronic as that is.

    Monsters are us. All monsters, but they are aspects of the subconscious mind, the interior. They are the language by which we can communicate up and down that particular ladder. Having the Time Lords square off against the Daleks, well, that's a set of images that will easily percolate down to the subconscious without resistance.

    The Toclafane, on the other hand, have a historical aspect to them — they are a projection of our future. They're not who we are yet while monsters like Daleks and Time Lords are emanations of who we are now. And, I dunno, considering Who is a mirror to the present, and the Time War is something that cuts us off from the past, I'm not sure the Toclafane are as apt a metaphor.

    Plus, the Daleks are way more awesome and iconic.

    Reply

  70. David Ainsworth
    April 20, 2013 @ 6:06 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply

  71. David Ainsworth
    April 20, 2013 @ 6:08 am

    Why stop there? Why not accept all those faces in The Brain of Morbius as past incarnations of whoever the Doctor was before he was the Doctor? The Time War "begins" with whoever that guy was fleeing Gallifrey in a TARDIS (or the TARDIS fleeing Gallifrey with that guy), and turning into One. He's so entangled in what went down that his own past gets caught up in the uncertainty. "Doctor Who" becomes an expression of that uncertainty, the impossibility of this person's existence.

    This event that erases his name and his past and makes him the Doctor triggers the Time War, but also places him in an odd position where his history exists simultaneously inside and outside of that War, while the rest of the Time Lords and the Daleks are entirely circumscribed by it. That makes it only natural that he can "resolve" events and survive.

    Now that I think about it, the Problem of Susan could get an interesting inflection if she's entirely OUTSIDE the Time War, the only remnant of the Doctor's life before he was the Doctor. No wonder he abandons her. And no wonder, after being reunited with her in the Five Doctors while trapped in a maze with a Dalek, he hardly seems happy to see her and she spends the remainder of the story marginalized, a bigger outsider in a story supposedly about her own people than any of the Doctor's human companions.

    She's from whatever Time Lord culture was like before the Time War overwrote it, while the Doctor's both of and not of the new culture.

    Reply

  72. Ununnilium
    April 20, 2013 @ 7:08 am

    It would have resulted in a show totally incompatible with the optimistic vision the Davies era laid out.

    I don't know; I think it could have gone in an optimistic, "This is the destiny of humanity – but destiny can be changed" direction.

    Reply

  73. Ununnilium
    April 20, 2013 @ 7:18 am

    Well, given the amount of vocal detractors who try and claim the new series isn't "real" Doctor Who because of that break, I'm not exactly sure that's quite a good thing.

    A break from people like that is most assuredly a good thing.

    That's the interesting question to me: did it have to be a war to provide that clean break?

    If RTD wanted to stay in-continuity with the old series (and IMHO there's no way that wasn't the right decision), he needed something that both evolved out of the old series and changed it thoroughly. And if you need a giant, all-changing event that's actually driven by people's decisions, I can't think of anything better than a war. (But that doesn't mean something better doesn't exist…)

    Reply

  74. Ununnilium
    April 20, 2013 @ 7:39 am

    As for new stretch goal ideas (holy crap)… a special graphical interactive version of the Logopolis essay? An analysis of a fictional Inspector Spacetime episode? An mp3 of you covering "Doctor in Distress"?

    Reply

  75. Ross
    April 20, 2013 @ 8:32 am

    On the other hand, "but destiny can be changed" adds a certain mercenary quality that I think undermines the show a lot. If we start from "The Doctor's race was wiped out by Evil Future Humans, but time can be rewritten," we're in the tricky position of asking ourselves "Is the Doctor saving the world because he's a good sort of fellow like that, or is this a desperate stab to make humanity evolve into something less evil so he can get his planet back?"

    And that might make an interesting story, but it'll have stopped being Doctor Who a while back.

    Reply

  76. encyclops
    April 20, 2013 @ 8:41 am

    The fact that I don't want this to be true doesn't make it any less fascinating.

    Reply

  77. Matthew Blanchette
    April 20, 2013 @ 9:34 am

    Dear god… I actually agree with Froborr on something! (Rose, specifically.) :-O

    Is it Opposite Day?

    Also… the whole thing of the Time Lords being villainous? That was a VERY late retcon, written into "The End of Time" late in the process:

    "During November, the global financial crisis raised the spectre that the BBC might have to trim the budget allocated to the Doctor Who specials. At first, it appeared that the final story might have to consist of two 45-minute episodes rather than hour-long installments. Subsequently, consideration was given to dropping the preceding special, "The Waters Of Mars", altogether. By the end of the month, however, sufficient funding had been arranged to avert any of these concessions. Around the same time, Davies and Gardner had independently decided that Gallifrey should figure prominently in the final adventure, bringing full circle the Time War arc that Davies had introduced when he resurrected Doctor Who in 2005. However, Davies was unhappy with his initial idea — that the Master's ultimate goal would be to trap Earth in the Time War in place of Gallifrey — and considered dropping the plot strand.

    Nonetheless, Gardner encouraged Davies to find a way to make Gallifrey work, and as 2009 dawned, Davies began formulating a new set of ideas. Around the same time that Matt Smith was announced as the Eleventh Doctor on January 3rd, Davies had developed the idea that the Time Lords would actually be villainous — that they had been corrupted by the aeons-long Time War, and the Doctor had destroyed both them and the Daleks because they had become equally monstrous. As formal scripting got underway later that month, Davies also decided to introduce a mysterious female Time Lord whose identity would not be made explicit onscreen, but whom he intended to be the Doctor's mother — brought back to life during the Time War in the same way that the Master had been."

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  78. Ununnilium
    April 20, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

    Well, that assumes that making humanity less evil would get his people back. One would probably want to foreclose on that, perhaps doing something End of Time-ish.

    Reply

  79. Daniel Tessier
    April 20, 2013 @ 11:56 pm

    If I remember rightly, the Doctor wasn't going to be aware that the Toclafane were human; they were just some unknown evil from the end if time. He'd discover their true identity over the course of series one.

    Reply

  80. Theonlyspiral
    April 21, 2013 @ 6:48 am

    I would pay extra for that MP3. I would pay a good $5.

    Reply

  81. Wm Keith
    April 21, 2013 @ 11:20 am

    A giant, all-changing event that's actually driven by people's decisions?

    "Referendum of the Daleks"

    Reply

  82. Ununnilium
    April 21, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

    The Time Wiki! At the end, the Doctor locked all the pages.

    Reply

  83. Theonlyspiral
    April 21, 2013 @ 5:51 pm

    I've written a couple different paragraphs trying to respond to your criticisms or Rory…but Doctor Sandifier sums it up best in the "Cure of the Fatal Death" : Moffat isn't perfect but he's better than most. On one hand: Rory and Amy are a straight white couple with desires to have a child. But we also get Vastra, Jenny and Strax (a pair of lesbian women focused on their careers who live with their ambiguously gendered bodyguard/butler. Moffat just isn't a bad enough writer for me to get up in arms about. I mean he's one of few professional writers where we can see him change his writing when people complain about his lack of gay characters.

    In terms of being a capable and competent companion: Rory is game for basically whatever is asked of him, he can work independently of the Doctor or Amy, he can work with people, and he's capable in a scrape. I mean, is there another companion that checks all the boxes like that?

    Reply

  84. Theonlyspiral
    April 21, 2013 @ 5:55 pm

    The Ice Warriors are my favourite classic Who monster. I compulsively collect novels and audios with them. I have an iTunes playlist that is all Ice Warriors all the time.

    I wonder if at any point will Big Finish will get a hold of limited New Series monsters…it might scratch an itch. I kind want a Jack Harkness/Fifth Doctor adventure.

    Reply

  85. Christopher Haynes
    April 22, 2013 @ 5:10 am

    I'd say Ian Chesterton checks all of those boxes.

    Reply

  86. neroden@gmail
    December 14, 2013 @ 9:30 pm

    The trouble is, #3 is dumb and cheap, #1 doesn't actually work, and #2 can be done simply by the Doctor being who he is — the guy who outright refuses to explain things to Steven in the middle of Daleks' Masterplan.

    Reply

  87. GeneralNerd
    December 15, 2013 @ 9:52 pm

    I think you missed a chance to tie this with an earlier entry by not saying "levitate the Pentagon."

    Reply

  88. Katherine Sas
    August 1, 2014 @ 8:19 am

    Brilliant insight, SK, and brilliant to hear what might have been from Rob Shearman himself!

    Reply

  89. Stiven McGreat
    June 18, 2015 @ 9:31 am

    He has given over 300 lectures at national and international conferences, and published more than 20 scientific papers in international journals. Dr. Martin Devoto is one of the authors of the study guides of the American Academy of Ophthalmology for US residents.

    Reply

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