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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.

46 Comments

  1. Sean Case
    November 15, 2013 @ 12:23 am

    I was fairly sure Jack and Ianto were involved as early as They Keep Killing Suzie. There's a remark about uses for a stopwatch that I always read as sexual.

    Reply

  2. Assad K
    November 15, 2013 @ 12:33 am

    Just a moment.. shouldn't we be talking about Night of the Doctor….??
    Just when did Jack go to Pakistan? Egad.
    It's interesting that UNIT's actions here are considered nasty because.. well, Tosh is clearly guilty. To the extent that she actually improved on the supervision for the bad guys. Though of course, being held in a super secret prison is not the best way to be made an example of.
    Davies approach to UNIT always seemed a little scattershot. There's a distinctly negative air to them in the Sontaran two parter. They're tremendously helpful in 'Turn Left'. They are allies in Planet of the Dead, but a scant two episodes later they're not good enough for Martha to belong to (warrior woman with a BFG being a better option). Happily, UNIT now seems to have returned to the Definitely Good category now.

    Reply

  3. Assad K
    November 15, 2013 @ 12:35 am

    Supervision should be superweapon.. thanks for correcting, Mr Kindle!!

    Reply

  4. elvwood
    November 15, 2013 @ 1:04 am

    I think Pakistan was that flashback in Small Worlds.

    While I thought this was overall a strong episode, I strongly disliked the total demonising of UNIT here. It should be ambiguous, but not (as Philip puts it) Guantanamo Bay.

    Reply

  5. Prole Hole
    November 15, 2013 @ 3:00 am

    Night Of The Doctor is both awesome and completely unexpected, and awesome, and also awesome. There we go, that's it covered!

    Reply

  6. Simon Cooper
    November 15, 2013 @ 3:01 am

    Forget 'Torchwood' (the rest of the world already has), 'Night Of The Doctor' needs to be tackled before Day gets here.

    It's pretty amazing that it less than seven minutes it makes McGann a legitimate Doctor for 21st Century Television, gives and takes away a new Companion in about thrity seconds, provides a convincing reason why we needed John Hurt's non-Doctor (officially making Capaldi the last incarnation in the process), tosses in the most fanwanky character return so far and canonises the Big Finish Audios.

    Reply

  7. prandeamus
    November 15, 2013 @ 3:30 am

    Not sure it makes Capaldi the13th. The circumstances on Karn are exceptional (death, temporary resurrection, forced regeneration) so as to render the 13th-is-last business even murkier than usual. That's my canon, anyway. 🙂

    Reply

  8. Ross
    November 15, 2013 @ 3:54 am

    Careful you don't read too much into it. We don't know yet if it follows that Capaldi is the last incarnation, given that this regeneration is explicitly different from his others in nature.

    (It's a shame Eccleston wouldn't sign on, because based on the trailers, I think a great twist for the punchline to be that the Warlock couldn't end the Time War, and he had to turn himself back into The Doctor in order to finish it.)

    Reply

  9. Assad K
    November 15, 2013 @ 3:56 am

    I'm pretty sure you understated the awesomeness.
    Let's say it… Moffat, you sneaky, secretive, magnificent bastard.. how was this kept a secret? How can I hate you and love you at the same time???

    Reply

  10. Simon Cooper
    November 15, 2013 @ 4:28 am

    Triggered differently but not a different end result. (Like Romana chosing her next body or what the Time Lords did in The War Games.)

    And given Moffat's comment about wanting the "complete box set" of Regenerations I imagine we'll be get getting a CGI Eccleston (or something along those lines) either at the end of Day or in the second minisode to complete the process.

    Reply

  11. Seeing_I
    November 15, 2013 @ 4:54 am

    Yeah, the stopwatch thing, which I interpreted as being in competition with Ace's "Fenric" speech for the title of most bafflingly obscure seduction lines ever committed to film (temporal metaphors category).

    Reply

  12. Seeing_I
    November 15, 2013 @ 5:05 am

    You know, I never thought about it before this essay, but Ianto is the only character whom we never see at home. It's as if he hangs himself up in a closet at night along with his suit. It was almost a shock to find him talking to his sister in a kitchen in "Children of Earth" (in a scene that plays especially well to RTD's strengths). Gareth David-Lloyd plays the character with a drily ironic ingenuousness that's charming, and he's given some decently amusing one-liners and a Jeeves-like omnicompetence, but honestly, I never got the overwhelming fan-love for the character. Not to the point of mass hysteria on his death, and JACK+IANTO 4EVA macros, anyway.

    As for Tosh…why on Earth did Torchwood utterly ignore her character having met the Doctor in "Aliens of London"? I know they make a throwaway reference to it at some point, but it's odd they never make more of it, not least because she's the only one who's met that mysterious Doctor Jack keeps hinting at.

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  13. Adam Riggio
    November 15, 2013 @ 5:27 am

    I have a feeling we'll discuss "Night of the Doctor" formally in late 2014 when we get to the 50th Anniversary celebrations and media, the end of the Matt Smith era, and the end of TARDIS Eruditorum.

    But Phil gets straight to the problems Torchwood was facing here at the end of its second season, and the problems I discussed in my comment to Wednesday's post on Adrift. Torchwood stops being a diverse adventure show where a variety of strange spaces and beings slip into or otherwise occupy some part of the everyday normal world. This original format has the legs to last a very long time; I'd say the best case scenario would be a run equal to that of the X-Files. Nine or ten years including a long decline after the substitution of cast members whose characters are critical to the premise.

    Adrift was probably the best episode of the problematic second season, and a production that was straining latched onto it as a premise for the next epic season. But the problem is that it makes Jack into a villainous character. He's at the heart of an enormous and violent conspiracy because of the horrifying actions that he did himself, and ends up committing an equally horrifying action. Turning Torchwood into a mystery/conspiracy show about uncovering terrible secrets in Jack's past makes Jack a supervillain, having taken part in dozens of evil acts over the last century, and his current leadership of Torchwood the organization is an attempt to earn forgiveness.

    This episode has the intriguing function, in light of future developments, of showing all that the cast could do in this new model. Jack becomes a figure constantly falling into corruption no matter how hard he tries to escape (I'm intrigued to see how Phil perceives the tension that exists between the corrupt Jack of Children of Earth and Miracle Day, and the heroic Jack of his Doctor Who appearances). Ianto becomes a foil to show Jack's limitations. Owen and Tosh literally have nowhere to go, which is where they go next week.

    The only characters with any potential for positive improvement at this point are Gwen and Rhys. They're the only people left in the world of Torchwood who can escape the limitations these last few stories of season two establish and behave unexpectedly. They're the only characters on Torchwood at this point who escape becoming purely programmatic.

    I'm especially sad to see this happening to Jack, because the character Steven Moffat introduced in The Empty Child had the potential to do so much. The Doctor Who universe never really had a character who was a loveable rogue before (The Doctor himself is more of a loveable elf). The popularity and potential of the character of Jack Harkness was rewarded by giving him a starring role in a spin-off show. I remember seeing hints about this development dropped in some of the Eccleston season dvd extras. John Barrowman was so happy that his character was getting this prestigious treatment. Yet as Torchwood developed, all that potential disappeared.

    Reply

  14. prandeamus
    November 15, 2013 @ 6:34 am

    Right now, pointers to Hurt being canonical doctor #9 are ambigious. It is a biological regeneration (+) but it is triggered by the "more advanced" Sisters of Karn (-), far away from the TARDIS (-), and after a period in which the Sisterhood declares his body to be functionally dead (-). Moreover, he's sipped from "the elixir of life" so that could be used to change/abandon the 13 lives limit. Actually it's given Moffat and other future writers another hand to wave when he eventually goes to the 14th televised Doctor.

    When Sheridan Smith expires as the 13th Doctor, while Romeo Beckham and Ramona Marquez look on helplessly as Russell Brand's Sh'Frozz leads the Martian Orange Pontificate to glorious victory over the last Frock Legion … I for one do not want the show to die. I want a new Doctor to rise from the ashes.

    Reply

  15. Elizabeth Sandifer
    November 15, 2013 @ 6:42 am

    Actually, Night of the Doctor won't get a formal post. It's way too tempting as a book extra.

    Reply

  16. Prole Hole
    November 15, 2013 @ 6:46 am

    This!

    Reply

  17. Prole Hole
    November 15, 2013 @ 6:50 am

    Not that I disagree with anything you have said, but the Doctor was functionally dead at the end of Planet Of The Spiders right? Without K'ampo giving the process "a little push" that would have been the end of him, so there is a precedent for the Doctor being dead, then brought back to life by something Time Lord-y but not the normal regeneration process. Yet we still call Tom Baker's Doctor the 4th.

    Reply

  18. Daibhid C
    November 15, 2013 @ 7:00 am

    Part of the way it was kept a secret was by someone posting increasingly bizarre things on Twitter until we all concluded he was just yanking our chain.

    Reply

  19. Daibhid C
    November 15, 2013 @ 7:05 am

    But does she know that? She met a weirdo in a leather jacket, very briefly, while she was rather more concerned about the pig alien and pretending to be a doctor herself. She didn't see the TARDIS, or have an adventure as a pseudo-companion, or anything like that. She's probably never made the connection.

    Reply

  20. BerserkRL
    November 15, 2013 @ 7:05 am

    It wasn't all that secret or unexpected. Rumors of a prequel/minisode in which McGann regenerates into Hurt have been flying online for weeks.

    Awesome it certainly was, though. I predict (and advocate) a massive fan campaign to get more onscreen McGann Doctor, whether through a guest spot, a standalone adventure, or whatever.

    Reply

  21. Aaron
    November 15, 2013 @ 7:07 am

    Booo. Why do you say that? You've covered Time Crash, Dimensions in Time, the Pudsey Cutaway, etc, and Night and the Doctor is just as, if not more, significant than those. While I'm usually fine with what you choose for book extras, this feels like you're purposely leaving out an episode on the blog just so we go get the book.

    Reply

  22. Elizabeth Sandifer
    November 15, 2013 @ 7:10 am

    I didn't actually do Pudsey Cutaway. But I've never done a story out of order for the Doctor's timeline. And thus Night of the Doctor goes between the TV Movie and Rose.

    Reply

  23. BerserkRL
    November 15, 2013 @ 7:11 am

    It seems reasonable to bet that part of Moffat's reason for inserting Hurt is to bump Capaldi from 12th to 13th is so that Moffat can be the one to address the "final regeneration" issue (and possibly the Valeyard plotline too).

    My prediction: Capaldi's Doctor will believe that this is his last incarnation, and his approaching end — and how he ends up getting more regenerations after all — will be a major plot arc.

    Reply

  24. prandeamus
    November 15, 2013 @ 7:20 am

    Prole Hole – not disagreeing with you. It's very possible. Mind you, pretty much every regeneration we've seen has its own unique points into which plot points could be squished.

    1st Regenerated his clothes with him clothes
    2nd regeneration was forced by the Time Lords and possibly away from the Tardis
    3rd as you say "needed a little push"
    4th had the Watcher, never seen before or since
    5th caused by poisoning
    6th was a wig allergy (or whatever)
    7th was shot – and also spent a lot of time "dead" as I recall – an interesting mirroring of McGann's initial appearance
    8th as yet unseen
    9th full of timey-wimey-vortexy-worty
    10th exploding TARDIS

    Now, explaining away additional lifetimes because of something happened in, say, 1974, isn't going to be satisfying. But the Doctor has lived a life different to most of the other Time Lords, and who's to say? Last time we saw him he was mired in his own timeline…

    I'll stop posting pointless fan theories now; I can't imagine that anything new can be said until the 23rd, and then Christmas.

    But to wrap this up, it is SO nice to have something so unexpectedly nice that goes a little way to redeeming the TVM. It was released on McGann's birthday, no less.

    Reply

  25. prandeamus
    November 15, 2013 @ 7:21 am

    8th -> 8.5th above, mutatis mutandis

    Reply

  26. BerserkRL
    November 15, 2013 @ 7:21 am

    Heck, the next time they need to do a Doctor-lite episode they can just do a McGann story instead.

    Reply

  27. Matthew Blanchette
    November 15, 2013 @ 10:29 am

    Oh, yes you have; you did both "The Two Doctors" and "Time Crash" our of order in the Second Doctor's and Fifth Doctor's timeline's respectively.

    Fess up, Phil. 😛

    Reply

  28. Elizabeth Sandifer
    November 15, 2013 @ 10:32 am

    I did both exactly where they fit in those Doctors' timelines.

    I mean, I don't think putting Night of the Doctor in amongst the Smith era would be the right call at all. It's not really about Smith. It's a Time Can Be Rewritten for the McGann era that came out too late to put in the McGann era. So into the book it goes.

    Reply

  29. Russell Gillenwater
    November 15, 2013 @ 10:37 am

    He can't be a 8.5 because at the end it is a younger John Hurt that McGann regenerates into.

    Reply

  30. Theonlyspiral
    November 15, 2013 @ 10:47 am

    I would be 100% in favor of that.

    Reply

  31. Ross
    November 15, 2013 @ 11:00 am

    As I was saying recently, it's not all that far-fetched to hypothesize that they were in fact thinking about setting the Doctor up to be out-of-regenerations and lining up potential ways to give him extras as far back as 1974. Kinda seems unlikely that it's a pure coincidence that the Brain of Morbius tries to make Tom at-least-the 12th Doctor and a year later they tell us that Time Lords can regenerate 12 times. (if you want to go REAL crazy, maybe the original idea was for the Degado Master to be the 13th Doctor…)

    My wishful thinking for the special is that it's gonna end with John Hurt crossing his own timeline to make McGann pick a different cup.

    "What do you need? Fat, thin, fast, strong, wise, angry?"

    "Northern."

    Reply

  32. BerserkRL
    November 15, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

    OK, there's another clip from the 50th up:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zn9Ss9rZMcU

    Reply

  33. Matthew Blanchette
    November 15, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

    You put "Time Crash" after "Resurrection of the Daleks" when, by all rights, you should've put it before or during "Mawdryn Undead". And it makes no sense that you review "The Two Doctors" during the Troughton era and then neglect both "Pudsey Cutaway" AND "Time Crash" during the Tennant era.

    Reply

  34. Bennett
    November 15, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

    Referring to the War Doctor as '8.5' perplexes me. Surely we should call him 8b?

    Reply

  35. BerserkRL
    November 15, 2013 @ 4:53 pm

    You should really do them all in objective chronological order, beginning with the last part of "Edge of Destruction" and ending with "Utopia." Any other choice is clearly depraved to the point of Nazism.

    Reply

  36. BerserkRL
    November 15, 2013 @ 5:08 pm

    Also the Hurt Doctor needs his own volume. You can fill it out with the ALIEN movies. Is it a coincidence that John Hurt is in ALIEN and Paul McGann is in ALIEN 3? Or that all the ALIEN movies are base-under-siege stories? I think not.

    Reply

  37. encyclops
    November 15, 2013 @ 7:59 pm

    I'm predicting the War Doctor is chronologically undone at the end of Day, such that whatever shenanigans he and/or his later selves pull turns Hurt into a never-was and McGann regenerates into Eccleston after all.

    Reply

  38. encyclops
    November 15, 2013 @ 8:02 pm

    I admit I haven't heard a lot of Alex's choices (except for "Boss of Me," unfortunately) but I could fill up a top ten from Miscellaneous T without breaking a sweat OR including "Manhattan" or "Detective." Chacun a son gout, obviously.

    Reply

  39. encyclops
    November 15, 2013 @ 8:05 pm

    Well, okay, maybe I'd break a sweat. But there are some songs on there I love SO much.

    Reply

  40. Alan
    November 15, 2013 @ 8:25 pm

    Returning to the episode at hand, while most of us grew up with the fairly wholesome interpretation of UNIT, we should not forget that these were the same people who casually attempted genocide against the Silurians, even if the Doctor himself did the next episode. And IIRC, the Brigadier was regularly threatening to arrest people for some nebulous violations of the Official Secrets Act.

    Reply

  41. Alan
    November 15, 2013 @ 10:01 pm

    True, but the Doctor's presence was practically broadcast by UNIT when they seconded him and Rose to participate in the meeting at Downing Street. Presumably, though, Jack suppressed info about it so the London branch of Torchwood wouldn't stick its nose into the Doctor's business.

    Reply

  42. BerserkRL
    November 15, 2013 @ 10:07 pm

    UNIT is like SHIELD. Heroic one minute, creepily totalitarian the next.

    Reply

  43. Prandeamus
    November 16, 2013 @ 2:52 am

    Re 8.5 was intended to be represent something between 8 and 9, as part of a quick and scribbled brain dump. I wasn't striving to be canonical.

    Reply

  44. Ross
    November 16, 2013 @ 4:15 am

    Personally, given the recent hubbub about the name of a certain US military person, I'm disinclined to call the Hurt incarnation the anything Doctor until he stops saying that he isn't The Doctor.

    Reply

  45. encyclops
    November 16, 2013 @ 5:22 am

    I thought it was going to be "the Warrior" there for a bit. "War Doctor" sounds a bit like "King Hat." I'm looking forward to seeing how he self-labels, without oppressive credits rewriting his identity.

    Reply

  46. Chris
    November 18, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

    Regarding the Big Finish companions and stories becoming part of the official storyline… I hope that the return of the Zygons doesn't bring us a "haven't seen them since I was a wee lad of less than 500 years old" because it was Zygon city with McGann's audio adventures. If it does, then we have to assume the companions named in "Night Of The Doctor" are completely different companions with the same names.

    Reply

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