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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.


  1. Melissa Robertson
    October 31, 2014 @ 12:51 am

    Wow. That was a pleasure to read. Thanks for summing up why I like Rory and Danny so much.

    Continuing the theme that the Doctor needs a nurse, Clara certainly seems to fill that role, especially in the beginning of her time as companion. She was a nanny in The Snowman, as one example. However, as Clara becomes more Doctor-like, a theme which has been running through season 8, she also seems to be loosing some of those nurse-like qualities. Contrast her in Rings of Akhatan and in In the Forest of the Night. In Rings of Akhatan, her focus is mainly on Merry and her safety. She noticed a scared child and chased after her to comfort her. In In the Forest of the Night, however, she looses one of the children, often seems more interested in finding out what's going on than protecting the children, and generally leaves the role of nurse to Danny, who fills it well. She still has these nurse-like qualities, but they are diminishing.

    This makes me concerned for her fate. All I can think is: Pride comes before a fall.


  2. SK
    October 31, 2014 @ 2:25 am

    The Doctor is not a medical doctor. Lister joke notwithstanding.

    Now can we get on and finish this thing?


  3. Daibhid C
    October 31, 2014 @ 3:09 am

    The Doctor is not a medical doctor, apart from having a medical degree, and the fact that, whenever the origins of his chosen name are mentioned, it's always described in terms of healing and making people better.


  4. Aylwin
    October 31, 2014 @ 4:21 am

    He didn't spend 60 years at Time Lord medical school to be called "The Mister", thank you very much.


  5. Aylwin
    October 31, 2014 @ 4:26 am

    Thinking about it, "Mister" is just a slightly slipped version of "Master", and of course surgeons insist on being called "Mr". Ah-HA! That's why they're arch-nemeses!


  6. Aylwin
    October 31, 2014 @ 4:48 am

    Great post, by the way.


  7. Elizabeth Sandifer
    October 31, 2014 @ 6:16 am

    The doctor/nurse parallelism between the Doctor and Rory is explicit and deliberate, so the suggestion that there's no substance to this is rather farcical.

    Beyond that, I'm uncertain why you're so eager for the blog to end.


  8. Monicker
    October 31, 2014 @ 6:36 am

    "Danny Pink who, even upon finding out that Clara has been lying to him for weeks about traveling with the Doctor does shout or get angry or expect an immediate answer"

    I think that that should read "does not shout" or "doesn't shout".


  9. John
    October 31, 2014 @ 6:49 am

    The nature of the Doctor's doctorate has been inconsistently described. Sometimes he says he's not a medical doctor, other times that he's a doctor of everything. But I'd say that at least from Pertwee onwards, the Doctor has been treated as effectively (among many other things) a medical doctor.


  10. Jarl
    October 31, 2014 @ 7:32 am

    Intestinal parasites sounds like a medical degree to me. Also, basketweaving, and temporal rocketry(?). And, given how he keeps getting called to act as an attorney, maybe of Law too (which would, by lore, actually make him a valeyard, in addition to being the Valeyard?)


  11. Alex Antonijevic
    October 31, 2014 @ 10:34 am

    I'm not eager for this blog to end, but there's been a few times I've come here hoping to see the next episode entry (which I have to assume is Pandorica/Big Bang) and there's another post instead.

    Still, these have been some good essays, so I don't mind.


  12. Alan
    October 31, 2014 @ 12:25 pm

    In "The Ark In Space," Four said rather definitively that his doctorate was honorary and that he had no particular medical training. Then again, he was still quite young at the time, and most of his successors could have found time to get a medical degree. Eleven did age over 300 years between "The God Complex" and "The Wedding of River Song." Surely he didn't spend all that time blogging.


  13. jane
    October 31, 2014 @ 1:07 pm

    Cheese-making. He's a Doctor of Cheese.


  14. jane
    October 31, 2014 @ 1:10 pm

    Absolutely. A compelling look into caregiving, through the lens of TV shows, and with a sideways stare at Doctor Who as well (loved that bit of "narrative substitution" btw).


  15. elvwood
    October 31, 2014 @ 2:02 pm

    Thanks for that – my wife Alison is a midwife, also a casual fan of Call the Midwife (though she read the book version first) and Supernatural, while my daughter writes Superwholock fanfic – so you couldn't have picked a better topic for the female half of the family! I'll give it to them to read after they get home on Sunday night.

    Alison gets really frustrated at One Born Every Minute, and annoyed at the Leeds hospital where it is filmed (and where she trained), because it gives such a distorted picture of life as a midwife. It's as much a reflection of reality as any other reality TV, in fact.

    (Those of you outside Britain may not know that the Royal College of Midwives went on strike for the first time recently. Alison was quoted in this Guardian article.)

    Thank you for pointing out the contrast between nurses and doctors, and the relevance of this to the show. Rory becoming a doctor in Amy's Choice always felt a bit "off" to me, because they are such different professions. I'm a bit sensitive to any hint of the attitude that "nurses are just doctors who couldn't make it" which crops up occasionally in the media – my mum was a great nurse who would have made a lousy doctor, and had to deal with some great doctors who would have made lousy nurses. Now my wife's in a similar position.

    Not that long ago Alison was involved in a birth where a particular intervention could have saved the child, but the parents took the (fully informed) decision not to agree because it clashed with their beliefs. Everyone was upset at the tragedy of the child's death, and some of the staff felt like there should have been a way of overruling that decision. Others – Alison included – disagreed. I wasn't there and don't know the details (such as whether the groups split along doctor/nurse/midwife lines), but it feels like the sort of difference in outlook you are talking about here.

    Starting to lose concentration – anyway, good post, thanks again!


  16. sleepyscholar
    October 31, 2014 @ 2:45 pm

    My connection with childbirth is simply that of having been present at one, and yet even I get annoyed by the routine portrayal on TV of childbirth as a pretty speedy activity. My son's birth was normal, but spent literally hours rubbing my wife's back, and wishing I could do more. Then you see shows like Doc Martin in which a woman pops out a baby in a spare few moments out on an open hillside…

    Call The Midwife didn't always draw attention to the duration, but it seemed nevertheless to be a bit more accurate to observer myself and former participant my wife.

    Added to which, it manages to combine its unashamed sentimentality with a fairly unblinking portrayal of the harshness of life in poverty.

    I felt the better for having watched it, and I feel the better for having read Jill's reflections on it.


  17. Pen Name Pending
    October 31, 2014 @ 3:05 pm

    This is so far the only slightly-in-depth critical thing I've read about Supernatural, and as such it's practically my introduction. I don't know. It still sounds like an X-Files knockoff for teens to me, except it lacks the best part of The X-Files: Scully. (But of course, I'm probably in the minority as a straight young woman who is more interested in inspiring female characters instead of the eye candy).

    Danny really is fantastic, except he has is own hatedom already based on some first impressions. Apparently he's still trying to control her even though he pretty much gave her the opportunity to break up with him at the end of "In the Forest of the Night." Clearly they've been set up to have differences and conflicts of interest, but abusive? It baffles me. Especially since Danny (and Rory too) is really not the male love interest typically seen in media.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this; Jill's voice is great.


  18. SK
    October 31, 2014 @ 5:28 pm

    It's over seven months since The Eleventh Hour; that's longer than the seventies.

    The nineteen-seventies.


  19. Elizabeth Sandifer
    October 31, 2014 @ 5:44 pm



  20. Jarl
    October 31, 2014 @ 10:50 pm

    Well, the seventies were situated between the Long Sixties and the Long Eighties, they barely had time to be themselves.

    I actually don't know what we're talking about.


  21. Daru
    October 31, 2014 @ 11:34 pm

    What a wonderful essay, thanks Jill! This piece is right up there with the greats of the Eruditorum for me – I was genuinely surprised when you started discussing Rory and the idea of the Doctor and their relationship between the two roles. Brilliant.

    And when I am reading something such as the blog or a book that absorbs me, I genuinely don't want it to end. I'm not sitting here wondering why this is dragging on, I am utterly absorbed, and I don't understand why anyone else who was also enjoying Phil and his companion's writing would want it to stop.


  22. unnoun
    November 1, 2014 @ 6:07 am

    The seventies didn't have Torchwood, the Sarah Jane Adventures, or Sherlock to deal with. Which, side-note, should maybe get their own tag given that they're going to be in a book with each other and not with the Tennant, Smith or Capaldi essays.

    …And it seemed like the blog spent over a year in the Nineties.

    It seems to me like the side-essays are like half the point to the blog. The Pop Between Realities are probably more important than the episode essays. There's no real point to this project without them, in my opinion anyway.

    I mean, I've certainly learned a lot. It's hard to argue that the shows in question aren't relevant culturally.


  23. unnoun
    November 1, 2014 @ 6:23 am

    I think this is one of if not the best posts in, I'm going to go ahead and say the entire Eruditorum.

    …I want more of this. Can you guys do like some more stuff like this for future books?


  24. BerserkRL
    November 1, 2014 @ 7:07 am

    Intestinal parasites sounds like a medical degree to me.

    Excellent! Why spend four years in medical school when you can get the equivalent in a few minutes via one unsanitary meal?


  25. Adam Riggio
    November 1, 2014 @ 8:55 am

    Oh, SK, you're such a delightful troll.

    TARDIS Eruditorum isn't just a project with a specific endpoint to finish ASAP. It's a material creative series of essays and books that have, in a literal sense, made Phil's second career. It's a wonderful piece of interpretive artistry that I think is a trail-blazer not just in Doctor Who criticism, but in progressing the form and audience of media studies beyond the disciplinary academic context. When TARDIS Eruditorum finishes, I'll feel like there's something missing from my own life; it's been a regular part of my morning routines and thinking processes for over three years now. I'll miss it profoundly, and encourage any attempt to drag the project out as long as possible.

    Also, the longer TARDIS Eruditorum runs, the more opportunities it will have to grow Phil's fanbase and the audience for his books. So roll on.


  26. SK
    November 1, 2014 @ 2:55 pm

    The seventies didn't have Torchwood, the Sarah Jane Adventures, or Sherlock to deal with.

    Oh yes. Those months of nobody-cares that eventually got to the point where you could pay money to get them over with faster.

    At least they're all over with now.

    …And it seemed like the blog spent over a year in the Nineties.

    Seven months and four days.

    But there was a lot of Doctor Who in the nineties. Eighty thousand words, once (or twice if you count Missing Adventures, which I don't, but some do) a month.

    Bit more than the thirty-three episodes from The Eleventh Hour to here.


  27. Elizabeth Sandifer
    November 1, 2014 @ 3:10 pm

    This is increasingly reminding me of that old joke where the person complains how much they hate a restaurant: "the food is terrible. And the portions are so small!"


  28. SK
    November 1, 2014 @ 3:31 pm

    Oh, it's not your fault. It was interesting in the sixties, when it was turning a fresh pair of eyes on stories that had previously been kind of critically ossified, it got less interesting in the eighties when it basically started to go along with the consensus, and since it reached the new series it's been just another website writing about new Doctor Who and the Lord knows there are enough of them.

    It's my own mental defect that is the problem, the one that makes me incapable of stopping something I've started until it's finished. It's just that every time that finishing line, the one that means I can finally disengage, seems to be coming up on this website, it gets pulled further and further away.

    But that's my weakness, my problem. Ignore me. The end will come, eventually.


  29. Spoilers Below
    November 1, 2014 @ 8:40 pm

    That seems like an invitation to keep the blog going forever, if you ask me. ;p

    Shall I get that guest entry "Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea: Virginia Woolf" ready? Because we can't really discuss The Snowmen without discussing every single BBC Dickens adaptation, and thus of course Dicken's novels, and therefore Woolf's objections to Dickens, and her support and enthusiasm for early science fiction, would will lead into articles about the Bloomsbury group, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, the JFK Assassination, the films of Oliver Stone, David Icke, conspiracy culture in the 2000s, The Office, Parks and Recreation, onwards and outwards…

    (I have no intent of actually doing this)


  30. Whittso
    November 2, 2014 @ 11:10 pm

    Spoilers below You're cruel for raising the prospect and the dashing our collective hopes. That set of diversions sounds fab.

    Great essay Jill btw.


  31. Daru
    November 3, 2014 @ 3:36 am

    Wonderful essay Jill!


  32. 5tephe
    November 4, 2014 @ 12:25 pm

    I know we've already moved on, but I wanted to come back and thank you Jill, for saying so well a hell of a lot of what I've felt and known about Doctor Who, Rory, doctors and nurses.

    The Doctor's comment about Rory's desire to be a doctor in Amy's Choice always really rankled me, too.

    But then, you and I were always going to agree on a lot of this.

    – Stephen Brewer (Bachelor of Nursing).


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