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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. Anton B
    May 3, 2013 @ 11:50 pm

    I work Saturdays, getting home around 9.30 pm. If I'm not going out the first thing I'll do when I get in is make myself a snack and watch that evening's recorded Doctor Who. This will be the first episode in a while that I'm really not bothered about catching, mostly for the reasons Dr. Phil details. Gattis really bugs me. His adopted smug and hubristic attitude of 'Custodian of the Classic Who Experience' coupled with his inability to actually follow through in his many attempts to write a 'Classic Doctor Who' (A term that is surely meaningless applied to anything other than a previously existing episode). Who should be about innovation and experiment not reactionary nostalgia.

    I note though that Dame Diana Rigg and her daughter are returning in the season finale so I must assume they have some importance to the season arc (mothers, daughters, granddaughters being the only theme I've gleaned so far) l'll be watching for that reason.


  2. Iain Coleman
    May 4, 2013 @ 12:16 am

    Writing, mainly.

    I've started a new blog about the science of Doctor Who, inspired partly by Tardis Eruditorum and partly by my wanting to get back to doing some proper, sustained science writing. So far I've done how a box can be bigger on the inside than the outside (An Unearthly Child) and what we know about paleolithic religion (The Tribe of Gum). The first was popular, the second has basically been met with tumbleweed so far. It will be interesting to see how the upcoming posts about radiation sickness and people going crazy in space fare with the great reading public.

    Anyway, as it's a bank holiday weekend here in England, and my wife is working crazy shifts with the NHS for the whole three days, I'm going to work on the next batch of posts: finding water in the desert (Marco Polo), teleportation (The Keys of Marinus) and eclipse prediction in the ancient world (The Aztecs).

    The blog's called Relative Dimension. If anyone wants to check it out, here it is:

    I am indebted to Phil for showing the way on this. He's done a pretty uncompromising blog based on his academic expertise and trusted an audience to follow along with that. I'm taking a broadly similar approach, but from the sciences rather than the humanities. I've already got season 26 sketched out, and that's going to be the biggest and deepest of them all.


  3. T. Hartwell
    May 4, 2013 @ 12:46 am

    I'll be mostly working on hashing out a final draft for my screenwriting class and working out all the minutiae (storyboards, overheads, costuming, set design, etc.) for my short film in my production class. So a more busy weekend than usual, which is actually rather nice.

    Will also be seeing my sister's Senior Showcase at my old high school- we were both heavily involved in my high school's drama department and at the end of every year they have a 'showcase' where each of the seniors comes up and does a song, monologue, or whatever symbolizing the end of their time there. Should be fun. And emotionally devastating. But, you know, mostly fun.


  4. Lewis Christian
    May 4, 2013 @ 4:03 am

    Cold War was solid? I didn't think it was too water-tight. It was, on the whole, a basic runaround on a submarine with an Ice Warrior which was only recognisably so for 10 minutes. But each to his own.

    Gatiss' best script, for me, has actually been The Idiot's Lantern. Possibly because it was the first story I saw from start-to-end when I first became a fan and found the show. Hence nostalgia. But none of his scripts fill me with glee.

    That said, this weekend does look good. But, on the other hand, Vastra/Jenny/Strax. God help us.


  5. Lewis Christian
    May 4, 2013 @ 4:05 am

    Since we're just kicking back and talking… I've also been inspired by you, Phil, to make my own Doctor Who blog. In a similar vein to the Eruditorum, actually, except mine's a lot more silly and out-there. I'm posting custom DVD covers, theories, reviews, and miscellaneous. 🙂


  6. Theonlyspiral
    May 4, 2013 @ 5:19 am

    I'm the complete opposite. I cannot stand Idiot's Lantern but Zi think Cold War is likely the best thing he's produced.


  7. Theonlyspiral
    May 4, 2013 @ 5:26 am

    I saw Iron Man 3 last night with my mother (her insistence I want to add). I'm a bit of an Iron Man nut so I'll likely go again on Sunday. Anyone else seen it? I thought it was excellent. More of a coda to the other Marvel films, but hen again a film franchise this big has room to play with one.

    Today is reserved for educating. My cousin and one of my best friends have significant holes n their cinema experience. Specifically between them they have seen not a single Tarintino or Coen Brothers movie. Today is a double feature: Pulp Fiction followed by Sushi Dinner and crowned with The Big Lebowski (Which remains the greatest detective story ever made in my humble opinion).


  8. Nick Smale
    May 4, 2013 @ 5:34 am

    I'm in two minds about Vastra, Jenny and Strax.

    I loved them in "A Good Man Goes To War". In that story, Vastra, Jenny and Strax showed us that the Doctor's world was enormous, bigger even than we could have guessed in fifty years of watching his adventures. The fact that the Doctor could have great friends, friends he'd shared adventures with, friends who were prepared to lay down their lives for him, but who we'd never before heard of, showed us that there could still be depths and mysteries to the Doctor that we didn't know or understand.

    But now we keep meeting Vastra, Jenny and Strax, and they're starting to mean the opposite — that the Doctor's world is small, and predictable, and repetitive. I don't want to meet them again, I want to meet new characters who would seem as fresh and unexpected today as Vastra, Jenny and Strax did two years ago.


  9. doublethreatmagee
    May 4, 2013 @ 6:07 am

    I had beef rillettes once, cos I was trying to impress a date. They were bloody awful and covered in some sort of lardy, tasteless butter substance, but I had to choke them down to save face. 'Orrible.


  10. elvwood
    May 4, 2013 @ 6:07 am

    "my wife is working crazy shifts with the NHS for the whole three days"

    I sympathise – my wife's got two 12-hour shifts, Saturday and Sunday (boo!) – but happily for us she's got Monday off (yay!).

    I will check out your blog, sir, but with the warning that I'm unlikely to be able to keep up.


  11. elvwood
    May 4, 2013 @ 6:16 am

    I'm another who was inspired to actually start a blog by the Eruditorum, though mine's a lot less…ah…erudite. It's just me reviewing everything I can lay my hands on in a cross-media marathon; the unusual thing, I suppose, is that I review individual episodes. Doing it has spurred me to keep going with the marathon, but it's also made me wish I had some critical training.

    Oh, and I include the odd fanfic too. Which instantly makes my audience vanish…


  12. elvwood
    May 4, 2013 @ 6:18 am

    This weekend I am mostly discussing permaculture with a bunch of like-minds at the chapel in Burngreave Cemetary. Like you do. And recovering from the stress caused by my ESA appeal (which I won, for the second time).


  13. Froborr
    May 4, 2013 @ 6:22 am

    I want Vastra, Jenny, and Strax to get their own spinoff series where they fight crime in Victorian London and shock the sensibilities of their contemporaries and hang out with their buddy Oscar Wilde and generally be awesome, because they're awesome.

    But agreed, their presence in Doctor Who is getting to be a bit much.

    It's a tough call for me whether "Night Terrors" or "Cold War" is his best Who episode, but I definitely think his Moffat-era episodes are much better than his Davies-era episodes.


  14. Pen Name Pending
    May 4, 2013 @ 6:26 am

    Considering we haven't had recurring characters in Doctor Who in a while, I really like the idea of occasionally popping in on them, especially since two are aliens (well, even if a Silurian isn't technically an alien). It's different.

    They're also a bit connected to Clara, although what's interesting is that next week (Gaiman's episode) will, according to the cast list, have the two kids Clara babysitted for.


  15. Froborr
    May 4, 2013 @ 6:26 am

    I saw Iron Man 3 last night as well, and I adored it. Instantly catapulted to one of my favorite superhero movies ever.

    Oddly, the audience didn't seem hugely enthused when I was there, and while everyone I've talked to loved the film, they also all said I was the only person they knew who liked it.


  16. Pen Name Pending
    May 4, 2013 @ 6:28 am

    @Froborr: They were actually brought back because of fan reaction, and Moffat said he'd love to do a spinoff but didn't have time.


    May 4, 2013 @ 6:35 am

    Since we're discussing Sandifer's influences, I kind of stole the date thing he does at the beginning of his essays for my recent video on Neil Gaiman's Sandman:


  18. Froborr
    May 4, 2013 @ 6:37 am

    Long as we're talking about blogs inspired by TARDIS Eruditorum, I was inspired to try my own hand at what Dr. Sandifer does, though not having gone to grad school and not being a bloody mad genius it's really only a pale shadow. Anyway, since he has Doctor Who covered, I went with the other family series with a massive adult fanbase that just got big in America and hides subversive tendencies under an institutional surface, My Little Pony:

    This weekend, I saw Iron Man 3, which I said elsewhere felt more comic-booky and less action-movie than any superhero movie I'd ever seen. I chalk this up to its structure (feels more like a serial edited into a movie than a typical 3- or 5-act screenplay) and to the fact that it recognizes (as good comics do) that we're here for the characters, not the fights and explosions.

    Today is Free Comic Book Day, so I'll be heading out as soon as I quite bopping around the Internet. This afternoon is also an engagement party for some friends, but I may not be able to go–they live way outside of public transit range, and my friend with a car just bailed, so I'm not sure how I'm going to get there.

    Tomorrow I'm dedicating to panel prep–I've got several at Anime Boston this year, and a couple are on topics I've never done before. I think I'll mostly do AKB0048, which means I need to do a couple hours refreshing my memory of Jung before I start writing.


  19. Lewis Christian
    May 4, 2013 @ 6:52 am

    I hate the Paternoster gang. Worked as a one-time gimmick, but that's about it. Give me recurring characters, but not 1-note 1D silly aliens.


  20. Nick Smale
    May 4, 2013 @ 7:32 am

    It occurs to me that there's a big difference between my attitude to the Paternoster gang and my attitude to RTD's year five billion. Whereas I'm beginning to hate the re-appearances of Vastra, Jenny and Strax, I loved the fact that we kept going back to the world of new Earth and was really disappointed when that element of the series was dropped. Why would I hate one but not the other? Maybe it's because Vastra, Jenny, and Strax live in Victorian England, Doctor Who's most cliched era, whereas the year five billion was entirely new and fresh…


  21. Sean Daugherty
    May 4, 2013 @ 7:42 am

    I'm actually more interested in your thoughts on "The Unquiet Dead" than I have been about any story since "Lungbarrow." I remember it getting quite a positive reaction at the time online, with only a few negative nellies (most famously, Lawrence Miles, at a time when Larry was still being quite positive about the new series). Over the years, though, opinions seem to have soured, and a lot of the criticisms voiced by Miles and his ilk have been taken more seriously.

    As for today's episode, I probably won't have a chance to see it until tomorrow, since I'm one of those Americans who doesn't have a cable TV subscription and relies on Amazon Instant Video for his DW fix. And they don't add the new episode until early Sunday morning, IIRC. But I love the idea of a discussion thread, even if I'll likely be a late contributor to it.


  22. Josh Marsfelder
    May 4, 2013 @ 7:46 am

    I celebrate May 4 as Alice Day, a special Synchromystic extension and emanation of Beltane, to commemorate the birth of Alice Liddell and Alice the Dream-Child and the date of the events of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I spend it mostly doing things related to the Alice works and reflecting on their legacy and influence. I wrote a special post for my Forest of Illusions blog today, if anyone is interested and would care to read it:

    This has sort of turned into an annual tradition for me. I did a similarly long-winded thematic exploration last May 4:

    I plan to spend some time later replaying Alice: Madness Returns on Steam and the Disney Alice in Wonderland for the Game Boy Colour, and I'll also be watching my favourite film adaptation of the books tonight, the 1966 BBC TV play.

    Since others have brought it up I too actually have a science fiction television blog of my own in the works, but it's not ready for prime time yet. I hope to get that launched in a few weeks, and after the weekend my primary focus is going to be getting that shaped and ready to go. Should anyone be interested in that, please keep in touch and stay tuned, as it were.


  23. Lewis Christian
    May 4, 2013 @ 7:49 am

    Fair point, Nick. Also, 5-billion also had new species and characters. It didn't have to rely on nicking an old alien and putting a comic spin on it for the hell of it. The cat people were original (for Who, anyway), the Face of Boe was a great addition, Cassandra was fun, etc.


  24. HarlequiNQB
    May 4, 2013 @ 7:52 am

    Oddly enough, I felt the exact opposite about Iron Man 3 – More like an action Movie, less like a super hero movie. Not just any action movie, but a specific subset of 80's actioners featuring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, but with a superhero plot (they too were bout the characters as much as the explosions). Given the director that's not terribly surprising though.

    Could have done without the VO, but other than that very enjoyable.

    As to my weekend, I need to do some painting as I've been putting it off for the last month, and I've been pondering over an infographic illustrating different forms of conceptual time travel. Sadly I probably can't include Who on my chart as the Time Travel type tends to change depending on who's writing it and what's convenient for the plot. Timey-Wimey and all that.


  25. Ross
    May 4, 2013 @ 8:26 am

    I think there's a certain center-of-gravity problem; Vastra, Jenny and Strax are each interesting characters, and they are interesting together, because of their contrasts. But when you put them in Victorian England, there's this heavy-handed social message that boils down to "Victorians are so rigid/shallow/greedy/whatever that they barely even register that Vastra is a lizard-woman and Strax is an alien potato, but the idea of an assertive woman freaks them out" which is so powerful that it pulls the characters into its orbit.

    It's basically why the Doctor can't practically have a companion who doesn't pass as human: because suddenly two thirds of your likely settings only work if you make a major element of your plot to address the question of why the locals aren't freaking out about the blue guy. The Paternoster gang's answer to "Why aren't the locals freaking out?" is "Because they're Victorians", which is almost too clever, as it's basically this one really clever joke ("Victorians don't care if you're a silurian but will flip their shit if you bare an ankle!") that they keep shouting over the dialogue, and there's only so many times you can tell the same joke and have it be funny.

    (Also, it's the same joke as the Big Finish audio where C'rizz becomes a sideshow freak in Victorian England. Yep, them Victorians still be whack.)


  26. Pen Name Pending
    May 4, 2013 @ 9:56 am

    I just found this article with teasing pictures of the 50th anniversary special and got excited.

    If only Jacqueline Hill was still with us…


  27. Lewis Christian
    May 4, 2013 @ 10:41 am

    Turns out I liked them in this episode after all. Strax, though, is so one-note and unfunny it's shocking.


  28. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 4, 2013 @ 10:44 am

    I thought "Horse! You have failed in your mission!" was lovely, actually.


  29. Ross
    May 4, 2013 @ 10:56 am

    The thing is, they're playing them like kids' show characters. With the passing of Elisabeth Sladen and the subsequent ending of The Sarah Jane Adventures, I'd rather like a new kids' show in a similar vein, and they could almost be it were they given that spin-off. But the whole "Our heroes are also Comedy Over-The-Top Sociopaths whose solution to everything is ultra-violence" thing is not a particularly good fit.


  30. Lewis Christian
    May 4, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

    Philip: I like the line, but I'm not a fan of Strax saying it. I understand Sontarans were always designed as silly and comical, but never to the degree that Strax is. He's from the race who once managed to invade Gallifrey, for heaven's sake. If he did that, he'd bumble in by accident and make a load of one-liners before being told to wait at the door by the rest. It's just all samey, in terms of what they're making him do and say and how he acts.

    Ross: Agreed. They'd be at home in SJA, and I could see Vastra being Sarah's neighbour or something. In fact, I do like Vastra and Jenny (even more so now Gatiss refrained from explicitly stating, again, that oooh-they're-lesbians). But I still think Vastra should've been a Draconian.


  31. Jesse
    May 4, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

    Gatiss's last two scripts (Baskerville and Cold War) have been solid.

    I found Cold War awfully dull. "The Doctor meets some Soviets in 1983" should have been much more interesting than that.


  32. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 4, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

    But the whole point of Strax is that he's a crap Sontaran, no?


  33. Nyq Only
    May 4, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

    Dr Who and the Soviets…I'm trying to think of other encounters between the Doctor and representatives of the USSR. Curse of Fenric? Any others? And while he has met many quasi-Nazis was his only encounter with actual historical Nazis in "Let's Kill Hitler"?
    If the Daleks are Nazi stand-ins are the Cybermen communist stand-ins?


  34. Nyq Only
    May 4, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

    Oh…for those who like William Blake allusions, I think the blog's influence has started to infect the 'captcha' anti-robot check when you post. I got "ancient Israeal" for my last post.


  35. Anton B
    May 4, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

    Well, against all expectations I really enjoyed 'The Crimson Horror'. I'd love to elaborate but for the sake of those who haven't seen it yet I'm going to instigate my own Spoiler policy and wait til Dr. Sandifer gives the okay to discuss it in detail. though I would like to say I suddenly have a new favourite secondary character and it isn't Clara.


  36. Lewis Christian
    May 4, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

    Yes, but he's also getting tired. There are only so many "laser monkeys" and "zoomy grenades" and "boom enhancing ratchet clamps" (or whatever he has) before it gets samey and one-note. I get that he's crap and child-like, but it's too much. IIRC, Strax was never this child-like in A Good Man Goes to War!


  37. Nick Smale
    May 4, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

    So, okay, yes, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting; but question remains, why do it at all? Why bring Vastra, Jenny and Strax back?

    This is what I was expecting, going in…

    Somewhere this season, there needs to be an episode where Clara finds out about the other Claras. I'd actually expected this to happen earlier on, to give the show time to work through the consequences of the discovery before the finale, so I wasn't surprised when the Doctor gave the game away last week; I was surprised when that revelation was reset, however.

    So the need for Clara to learn this still exists. The Doctor is clearly in no mood to tell her yet, so how is she going to find out? An episode where she meets someone who knew one of the previous Claras would seem to be the perfect place…

    So, I thought, Moffat has been clever, he wrote Vastra, Jenny and Strax into the Christmas special specifically in order to establish that they knew Clara #2, and now he's getting his Lieutenant Gatiss to write another story where they meet Clara #3 and reveal to her the existence of the earlier Clara. Good plan!

    Except that that didn't happen – and indeed, the story tied itself into knots in order to prevent that from happening. So the question remains, why bring Vastra, Jenny and Strax back? Was it just because Gatiss wanted to write for the characters?


  38. T. Hartwell
    May 4, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

    The fact that its getting such a mixed response is very promising to me- the Marvel films are generally such inherent crowd-pleasers that anything other than general praise is bound to mean something interesting.

    I mean, my favorite superhero films are still the Burton Batman films, which aren't exactly enormous crowd-pleasers (at least not the second one).


  39. Ross
    May 4, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

    @Nyq: There's some russians in a non-speaking part in The Invasion, though the Doctor never meets them personally. I think there might have been a soviet ambassador in one of the Pertwee-era ones that had ambassadors, but I don't know offhand.


  40. Lewis Christian
    May 4, 2013 @ 2:56 pm

    I have a suspicion it's because they want to make a spin-off. Best way to do that? Bring them back, on the basis of fan reaction, in the hope they then get yet another appraisal and they get a green-light for a spin-off. Or maybe they can't get a spin-off, so they brought them back just for the fans who like them.

    It does seem odd, though, as you say, that Clara isn't yet aware of her other selves. Though it's been hinted at with the end of 'Horror'. Instead of assuming it's a photo from her future (which, surely she should've done!), she sees that photo of Victorian London Clara… gotta be a hint that she's about to find out soon. But I, too, expected it earlier.


  41. Lewis Christian
    May 4, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

    Of course, there's also the major possibility that they simply wanted to a) remind the audience these characters exist and b) to allow them to meet Clara due to what will happen in two weeks time. (I won't write it out, due to the spoilery nature, but this episode and the characters within will / could / may seriously impact on the finale and how the characters interact etc.)


  42. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 4, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

    I find most of Strax's jokes mediocre. I liked the horse because it highlighted the way in which this is just a crap Sontaran who's slumming it. I wish the whole nurse thing came up more though.

    As for why these characters, I assume this was the Doctor-light episode, although there was rather a lot of him for that. Very Clara-light though. But using a reasonably popular set of recurring characters for that slot is a sensible approach.


  43. Daru
    May 4, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

    Hey Phil – Cheers for the post. Was out all day enjoying the sun with my partner away on a beach in the East of Southern Scotland not far from where we live doing some beachcombing. had dinner afterwards bought for us by my Forest Schools friend – both my partner and I are outdoors educators (also I am a storyteller and my partner a nursery practitioner). Enjoyed the episode later on catch-up – an interesting and odd alchemical mix. Social material progress being inhibited, with a hollow factory, parasites and a poisonous ascension….


  44. GKyleScott
    May 4, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

    Longtime listener, first time caller… My girlfriend works Saturday nights, I work early on Sundays, so I enact my thai food, beer, Doctor Who and Toronto Maple Leafs followed by mindless xboxing ritual. I think Warren Ellis practices that kind of magic.

    I would also like to extend my commendations to Phil on the work of his blog. Following since early Troughton, and it's something I look forward to every post. While getting through the Wilderness Era was a bit of a slog, and I very nearly started posting in rebuttal to your dismissal of League of Gentlemen, I have been given a dangerous amount of knowledge about narrative, post-structuralism and the like. People smarter than me whom I will annoy at parties shall curse all of your line.

    As for The Crimson Horror, pretty damn good episode. The fainting Englishman never quite impressed me, and perhaps Strax's jokes needed a few more rewrites in places, but it was a fun, brisk adventure. Perhaps it swung a bit quickly from Monster Doctor to Doctor Getting a Boner From Jenny, but that swing is just a formality, and what we really want is "I'm the Doctor, you're crazy and I'm going to stop you."


  45. Pen Name Pending
    May 4, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

    I think this was the "stand in for spin-off Vastra/Jenny/Strax detective show" episode.

    As for Clara, I think this episode really showed that the Doctor doesn't want to bother her until he knows for himself, as he wants her to remain as happy as possible without worrying about "what's going to happen to me???"

    Also, I think the "I've got a chair!" thing was a reference to Coleman's character on Emmerdale, in which she accidentally murdered someone with a chair.


  46. Jesse
    May 4, 2013 @ 5:22 pm

    Good for Gatiss: Tonight's crazy steampunk adventure was certainly good enough to make up for "Cold War."


  47. HarlequiNQB
    May 4, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

    Does her name begin with J by any chance?


  48. Froborr
    May 4, 2013 @ 6:04 pm

    Good episode tonight!

    So… in "Rings of Akhenaton" we had the Doctor mentioning his granddaughter, in "Cold War" we had a base under siege and Ice Warriors, in "Hide" we had the 1970s and Metebelis 3, and tonight we had references to an Australian stewardess and "Brave heart, Clara."

    Was there a Fourth Doctor reference in "Journey to the Heart of the TARDIS" I missed? Because the rest of this is looking like a pattern.


  49. BerserkRL
    May 4, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

    More of an 8th Doctor reference.


  50. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 4, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

    The whole thing was a redemptive remake of Invasion of Time's coda.


  51. Jesse Smith
    May 4, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

    Well, it was kind of a strange episode, wasn't it? I enjoyed it (more so the first half than the climax), but it pretty much straddled the thin line between acceptable Doctor Who comedy and that point where the script is no longer taking itself seriously. I mean, "Thomas Thomas", really? That's good for a groan, but it really stretches one's suspension of disbelief.

    Along those lines, how do we feel about a prehistoric leech coming up with the working plans for a giant rocket in 1893? I mean, Jules Verne had the idea 30 years earlier, but it's one thing to write about it and another thing to build it.

    Clara continues to be disappointingly underused, IMO. In this episode she guessed the purpose of the chimney (in a way that was too much "tell" and not enough "show") and had the "I've got a chair" moment, but otherwise she pretty much just followed the Doctor and Jenny around. Jenny was really the one who got to move the plot forward. There are plenty of criticisms to make about Russell T Davies' era, but one thing he was good at was making the companions important to every episode. Glad she is staying for another series. Hopefully, once her mystery is resolved she will be allowed more room for development.


  52. Jesse Smith
    May 4, 2013 @ 8:00 pm

    That, and the Eye of Harmony.


  53. BerserkRL
    May 4, 2013 @ 8:16 pm

    "This time Diana Rigg says stupid things about feminism just in time for his episode."

    She's been saying that crap for decades, though.


  54. BerserkRL
    May 4, 2013 @ 8:17 pm

    Well, it was a companion-lite episode.


  55. BerserkRL
    May 4, 2013 @ 8:20 pm

    The whole thing was a redemptive remake of Invasion of Time's coda.

    Ah, good point.

    That, and the Eye of Harmony

    That's what I meant about the 8th Doctor. But of course yes, it was introduced in the 4th Doctor era. (And "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" is the first onscreen attempt to reconcile what Classic Who said about the Eye of Harmony with what the TV movie said about it.


  56. Froborr
    May 4, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

    Was the leech even sentient? I never quite figured out whether it was just this weird critter that pooped poison and everything was the crazy old lady's doing, or if it was actually whispering advice to her or something?

    I was SURE that Thomas Thomas would turn out to be something significant. The way he ended his first speech with "arrive at your destination" made me think he was a robot.


  57. Froborr
    May 4, 2013 @ 9:16 pm


    So I guess now the question is what the Sixth Doctor reference is going to be next week.


  58. Anton B
    May 4, 2013 @ 11:47 pm

    Indeed it does. Looks like the Doctor's quite smitten too. Does the fact she's married preclude him inviting her for a trip or two in the Tardis? I'm beginning to tire of the winsome Ms. Oswald and wishing for her big secret to be that she's a (disposable) pawn of the Great Intelligence.

    I also liked the fact that the Doctor had become not only a victim of the 'Horror' but also effectively monstered before the episode started and thus became the subject of a good old fashioned and very scary cliffhanger reveal.

    I agree with the comments above that Strax and Vastra have become too one-note and should be rested.

    And another clunky,tacked-on arc progressing but totally unbelievable end scene rather spoiled an otherwise excellent episode.


  59. Anton B
    May 4, 2013 @ 11:52 pm

    He was a bad pun. Thomas Thomas shortens to 'Tom Tom' a popular brand of Sat Nav. There, I bet that's made you feel better.


  60. elvwood
    May 5, 2013 @ 2:05 am

    So, an Emmerdale reference; and I know she's got form, but it was still fun seeing Jenny go all Emma Peel here.

    This episode was just fun. I don't mind Strax's crap humour, to be honest, but the horse bit was certainly better than most. And I liked it that he finally got some "saving the day" shooty action.

    I still want a musical episode on TV. For now, though, I've got The Scorchies in my downloads to look forward to…


  61. William Whyte
    May 5, 2013 @ 2:09 am

    I haven't watched last night's episode yet, but I thought that "Cold War" was the first Doctor Who I've ever seen that had no ideas whatsoever.


  62. Lewis Christian
    May 5, 2013 @ 2:41 am

    Well, from what we know, the Sixth Doctor references could be:

    The Cybermen back in full force (we get them in Attack after they were rather crappy in Five Doctors) and Hedgewick's World (The Nightmare Fair?).


  63. Cdog Zilla
    May 5, 2013 @ 2:47 am

    I think the reference to Mrs. Gillyflower being a prize-winning chemist and mechanical engineer were meant to identify her as the brains behind the rocket.

    Thomas Thomas was truly groan-worthy though.


  64. Cdog Zilla
    May 5, 2013 @ 3:39 am

    I found Matt Smith's tribute to rubbish children's cereal character Frankenberry deeply moving and wonder why the production team couldn't devise an excuse to dye him blue for a Booberry homage in Hide.


  65. jane
    May 5, 2013 @ 4:37 am

    "Thomas" also means "twin" — and there was that "conjoined twin" image in the last episode. The Spoonheads allowed the Doctor to twin himself. Clara's the woman twice dead — she's been twinned.


  66. jane
    May 5, 2013 @ 4:44 am

    The Doctor is monstered, and Clara's made into some kind of puppet: Some lovely metaphors! And all kinds of recurring imagery/motifs that made me very happy.

    I agree the Vastra/Strax humor wasn't as sharp — the pen of Gatiss is just not as a sharp as Moffat's.


  67. jane
    May 5, 2013 @ 4:55 am

    I noticed Metzstein used another A-frame shot for Jenny, and again (as in Snowmen) in a way that subverts the visual trope. Good on, that.

    The Paternoster Gang is great — how could they not be, with a name like that? — and anyone who says otherwise is obviously, patently wrong. But this episode shows just how much better Moffat is as writing jokes; a much sharper wit.

    Gatiss seems everyone's favorite whipping boy, but I think he delivers solid results. Unquiet Dead has a great dickens, and remembering that the Gelth are primarily a metaphor for the Doctor's lost people and desire to bring them back from the dead blunts the immigration issue. Idiot's Lantern has some great imagery and meta-commentary, and I can't ever complain about cheese in Doctor Who. Night Terrors is an obvious coming-out metaphor, but one for kids and their parents, and that's also something I can't complain about. (Victory, well, isn't.)

    Even Cold War, for all its standard-ness, has the "Clara-died-twice" metaphor in it, and some very interesting mirroring of the characters, going so far as to offer a critique of the philosophy of mirroring — it's got more under the hood than appears at first sight.


  68. jane
    May 5, 2013 @ 5:06 am

    Maybe yesterday's show should've been titled The Crimson Alchemy? With references to the Golden Dawn, and The Great Work, a twist on the "rosy heart," empty chair as throne-of-god as That Which Saves — literally, the Chair saves Clara from her bell jar and destroys the Rocket console and provides escape through a window; I couldn't be happier!

    Plus the recurring Red-Person-inside-an-Eye motif (see Hitler and Byzantium, plus Lodger, Library, and Asylum) and lots of Eye imagery in general. The Hatch makes a return; love a hatch. Also making regular appearances are "Sweetness," being LOST, and references to Rose and Donna.


  69. Iain Coleman
    May 5, 2013 @ 5:44 am

    Matt Smith will get a fabulous new coat.


  70. HarlequiNQB
    May 5, 2013 @ 6:00 am

    I got a very pantomime vibe of Strax in this episode (given this version of the character first appeared at Christmas I guess that's appropriate). The Thomas Thomas gag was exactly the sort of groan worthy one a panto character might encounter. Eye rollingly bad puns being part of the tradition.


  71. jane
    May 5, 2013 @ 6:54 am

    There's a advertisement for pantomime in the episode, one of many posters on the brick walls of Vastra's neighborhood. (Another hawks a Circus behind the Rose and Crown tavern, IIRC.)


  72. Ross
    May 5, 2013 @ 7:17 am

    Along those lines, how do we feel about a prehistoric leech coming up with the working plans for a giant rocket in 1893? I mean, Jules Verne had the idea 30 years earlier, but it's one thing to write about it and another thing to build it.

    Verne came up with the idea of interplanetery rocketry; she was just building a big honking firework. Rocketry is ancient. Metal cylinder rockets date back to the 18th century. By the 1890s, she wouldn't so much be doing something new as scaling up existing military rockets, which moves it pretty squarely into the realm of "stuff an action-adventure villain can do for their masterplan"

    (That said, I was really hoping that the Doctor would utterly fail to foil her plan, she'd launch, and the plague rocket would go up about 10 feet then fall straight back down because making a rocket that big out of cast-iron is a terrible idea)


  73. David Anderson
    May 5, 2013 @ 7:17 am

    Vastra had rather little to do. (And the script could have done something with the fact that she recognises the perpetrator. It doesn't do anything.)
    I suppose a Vastra-lite meant that we got to see rather more of Jenny, about whom we know rather little. I keep wondering if there's a connection to the other new-Who Jenny?


  74. Ununnilium
    May 5, 2013 @ 7:19 am

    So how does your "People seem to like these posts" thing work, anyway? Because Rose has a crapload more comments than the Buffy and Firefly posts, yet it's not at the top…


  75. Ross
    May 5, 2013 @ 7:31 am

    but it was still fun seeing Jenny go all Emma Peel here.

    It's even better when you realize that "Wipe out humanity with a giant plague-rocket to build a new humanity from my hand-selected Superior Specimins" is essentially an Avengers plot, with Diana Rigg playing a Spy-Fi villain.

    (Actually, the plot of this episode is more or less a Victorian adaptation of 'Moonraker', which means that the former Bond Girl gets to be a Bond Villain too)


  76. T. Hartwell
    May 5, 2013 @ 7:54 am

    I think it's a matter of how visited the page is and if it's particularly been linked to from other sites- from memory both the Whedon posts were linked to from a big Whedon site, which is why they're so popular.


  77. Alan
    May 5, 2013 @ 8:22 am

    I am just so … ambivalent about Season 7. It feels like Moffatt intentionally decided not to do a season long arc, even though "Wedding of River Song" and "Asylum of the Daleks" both set up season long arcs. So now, the Doctor has spent most of the season steadfastly ignoring the Fields of Tranzalore and half-assedly investigating the mystery of Clara Oswald. It feels like an entire season's worth of filler episodes on the way to the finale.


  78. Anton B
    May 5, 2013 @ 8:24 am

    I'd like to throw this into the mix regarding the recurring theme of the TARDIS locking Clara out. The only previous companion that the Doctor physically locked out of the TARDIS was his granddaughter Susan. If he's never rescinded that order the TARDIS would still prevent her from entering. Just sayin'…


  79. Anton B
    May 5, 2013 @ 8:40 am

    there's clearly a bias toward the red end of the spectrum this season. As well as the eponymous Crimson Horror there were the red lights for danger in the TARDIS, the red planet/red menace dichotomy in Cold War plus the sonic's new 'red setting' (didn't River's sonic have a red setting?) plus of course the little red fella nestling in Mrs. Gillyflower's bosom.


  80. Alan
    May 5, 2013 @ 8:48 am

    I just want to see Vastra-Strax-Jenny outside of the Victorian milieu. How many times do we need to see the same joke that Victorians are narrow-minded and react to the existence of lesbianism and the existence of lizard women with pretty much the same degree of shock? Give the three of them a space ship and send them off somewhere (or somewhen) more interesting.


  81. Ross
    May 5, 2013 @ 9:12 am

    I'm of two minds about that, because while I am getting tired of watching Victorians react to the Paternoster gang, I really like the Paternoster gang being Victorian. There's something really cute about Strax and Vastra trying their darndest to act like proper Victorians.

    Tangentially, what does anyone make of the fact that Strax correctly identifies Mrs. Gillyflower's gender? I think it's the only time he's correctly identified someone as a woman.


  82. elvwood
    May 5, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

    Ross: "It's even better when you realize that "Wipe out humanity with a giant plague-rocket to build a new humanity from my hand-selected Superior Specimins" is essentially an Avengers plot, with Diana Rigg playing a Spy-Fi villain."

    Oh, yeah – how did I miss that? I'm liking this episode better and better the more nuances get highlighted in this discussion (I missed the Tom Tom reference too).

    Alan: "It feels like an entire season's worth of filler episodes on the way to the finale."

    To me, it just feels like an opportunity to focus on individual stories without an arc intruding so often. But then, what is a filler episode anyway? Something like Blink or The Doctor's Wife would certainly count, I would think, but they're among the most popular. So maybe it's just that you don't like disconnected (or loosely connected) stories as much as I do.


  83. Pen Name Pending
    May 5, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

    I think it just depends whether you are expecting it to be arc-driven or not. I knew going in this season was intended to be as stand-alone as possible and I've enjoyed sitting down in front of the TV Saturday nights thinking, "Where will we go next?" On the other hand, you have the Internet forums trying to make more of an arc than there is (back in the first part, they insisted that eggs, lights flickering, and mention of "Christmas" were something really important).

    I really admire the idea to go as stand-alone as possible, and I think most of the episodes have largely worked. However, I'm not quite sure it's been largely successful on the public, if the ratings drop since "Hide" is anything to go by (I hate saying this, but ratings have been consistent in the revival up to "Cold War", and then they've started dropping unusually). It seems people are wandering away until the finale. It's just really frustrating that the stand-alone structure doesn't work in sci-fi TV anymore. The first part of the series worked well because of Amy and Rory, and Clara started off well but then it all got stuck somewhere, because no one seems to know what to do with her yet.

    Incidentally, "Blink" was the lowest-rated episode of the third series, probably because it was viewed as unimportant.


  84. Pen Name Pending
    May 5, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

    So, either we link this to every new series fan we can, or we each refresh the page very often.


  85. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 5, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

    Yeah, it's raw page views, and the Buffy one got a link from whedonesque, which meant a lot of those. Rose has, at this point, pretty solidly separated itself from the rest of the pack of Doctor Whos, but still has a ways to go before unseating either Whedon post. Current numbers.

    Buffy: 6731
    Firefly: 4470
    Rose: 3580
    Mind Robber: 2874
    Logopolis: 2666
    Curse of Fatal Death: 2580
    Alien Bodies: 2559 (This one surprises me most)
    Doctor in Distress: 2559
    TV Movie: 2543 (This used to be ahead of Mind Robber, but Mind Robber must have gotten a big link recently where everyone has abandoned this one. That makes me a hair sad, as I think it may be the best thing I've ever written.)
    The League of Gentlemen: 2539 (Probably there entirely because, at 146 comments, it kept getting reloaded.)


  86. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 5, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

    More to the point, Victorian Adventure Stories are a genre. A Doctor Who spinoff (and at this point the Paternosters are a spinoff, even if one that doesn't actually have any of its own episodes) can't really be as multigenre as Doctor Who itself – it needs to have a home genre. Penny dreadfuls are a fairly generative one, I should think.


  87. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 5, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

    Part of it, I think, is that for so long, especially last season, the seeming appeal of Moffat's Doctor Who were the intricate arcs. Still is, in many ways – look how the news that Name of the Doctor and the 50th have been teased and built to for years is presented. But this season the Moffat era seems to, in part, be reacting against its own excesses and stepping back from the arc a bit. Which Davies did from time to time as well – Donna is very much a reaction against the Rose/Martha love plots, for instance, and Midnight was consciously a reaction against Voyage of the Damned.


  88. HarlequiNQB
    May 5, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

    I've never understood the'people seem to like thing being based solely on views, partly because it becomes a self perpetuating link unless something major occurs.

    The top rated page on my blog is one about how difficult it can be to draw something you see all the time, with Mickey Mouse as the example, which is a little embarrassing.


  89. Froborr
    May 5, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

    groans at the Tom Tom gag now that I get it


  90. T. Hartwell
    May 5, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

    I'm also rather sad that the TV movie isn't in the top 5 anymore, as it's far and away my favorite post you've written (thought there's also a Nintendo Project post, curiously enough, that comes close). Just fantastic in so many different ways and one I just had to share with some of my friends after reading it,


  91. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 5, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

    I am curious which Nintendo Project post. Although the blog eventually floundered and was, I think, correctly abandoned, I remain terribly fond of several of those.


  92. T. Hartwell
    May 5, 2013 @ 8:32 pm

    Adventures of Lolo, I believe. Really affecting on a large number of levels and a great encapsulation of those sorts of crystallized and unfinished memories.


  93. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 5, 2013 @ 8:41 pm

    Oh, wow. Yes. I remember that post, but I hadn't thought about it in years, and I was far enough away from it to get to reread it relatively fresh just now, and it was a really moving experience. Strange as it sounds, it had been a while since I really mourned him, and I appreciated getting to do it again. Thank you for reminding me of it. Seriously.


  94. elvwood
    May 5, 2013 @ 9:37 pm

    When the bar against Big Finish using new series elements eventually breaks down, maybe there'll be a fan-pleasing Paternoster/Jago & Litefoot crossover. I can see several pairings of characters where the dialogue almost writes itself.


  95. elvwood
    May 5, 2013 @ 9:49 pm

    I quite like the most-viewed post on my blog, a review of The Escape (seventh episode of the show, third of serial B). But I don't understand why it's got over three times as many hits as its nearest rivals! I think it's got to be the disability discussion, but since nobody commented on it that's just a guess.


  96. Sean Williams
    May 5, 2013 @ 11:15 pm

    I'll definitely check out your blog. Looking forward to your teleportation post!


  97. Multiple Ducks
    May 6, 2013 @ 12:22 am

    Something that struck me throughout the episode was the amount of kissing the Doctor got up to – first a post-revival snog with Jenny ala the tv movie, a peck on the forehead for Clara upon her release and deduction, and a goodbye kiss for Ada. Perhaps Clara proclaiming the TARDIS as a snogging box has something more to it?


  98. Ross
    May 6, 2013 @ 3:06 am

    I hadn't really thought much of it until now, but you might be on to something. When I learned to start liking Matt Smith's Doctor, I came to realize that he's playing the Doctor as a little boy pretending to be a grown-up (Visually signalled by his wardrobe: he's wearing more or less a random assortment of "grown-up" clothes which don't quite fit and topped it off with a bow tie because "bow ties are cool". He's a little kid latching onto what he perceives as the trappings of adulthood, but because he's doing it through a child's eyes, his image of what "looking like an adult" should look like is distorted). Maybe the kissing is meant to symbolize the Doctor going through adolescence?


  99. Jesse
    May 6, 2013 @ 5:16 am

    I don't suppose there will ever be a Nintendo Project book. (Though there must be enough on that blog to fill a book, even if you never did finish what you set out to do.)


  100. Alphapenguin
    May 6, 2013 @ 6:15 am

    I would like to point out at this juncture that I would in fact read Rillettes Eruditorum.


  101. BerserkRL
    May 6, 2013 @ 7:47 am

    Re the upcoming Cybermen episode — has anyone else noticed what the title is (probably) a reference to?


  102. BerserkRL
    May 6, 2013 @ 7:50 am

    Clara's chair is the Siege Perilous! Evidently the nature of the peril has been historically misunderstood.


  103. BerserkRL
    May 6, 2013 @ 7:53 am

    I doubt that we'd get all the flirting (and one bit of snogging) between them if that were the plan.


  104. jane
    May 6, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

    Kissing's been way underlooked as an esoteric motif in the Revival…


  105. ferret
    May 6, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

    The "I've got a chair" line would have been funnier if she'd been already running with the chair, passing the Doctor, as she said it.

    Also, surprised we didn't see Strax actually climbing the chimney, or taking pot-shots at the rocket – would have been a nice little triumphant moment for him if he shot it down.


  106. ferret
    May 6, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

    They made it work it for Luke and Leia!

    Still gross though.


  107. Anton B
    May 7, 2013 @ 12:16 am

    Surely, as in the Luke and Leia case, it's only icky and gross if they know they're related; otherwise it's just drama (see Shakespeare et al).


  108. Anton B
    May 7, 2013 @ 12:27 am

    It's an extension of the Peter Pan trope. Wendy had to teach Peter about kissing, which he mixed up with thimbles and then got quite enthusiastic about demanding thimbles when he wasn't off fighting pirates. Kissing is of course a sublimated symbol for sex so is Moffat preparing the way for the 'shock' suggestion that the Doctor has a sex life and by inference a family? see my suggestion re Susan above. (and please nobody mention looms).

    The Peter Pan thing may also suggest that the Tardis is jealous of Clara as in the relationship between Tinkerbell and Wendy.


  109. Daru
    May 7, 2013 @ 11:40 pm

    @ Anton – Yes the red has I think been very significant, especially in the stories connection with alchemy. Gillyflower herself talks about 'The Great Work' – which is of course the spiritual goal of alchemy, an Ascension as represented in the rocket and her drive towards some kind of 'perfection' – albeit a twisted version where she only works with part of the whole alchemical cycle and does not aim for full transmutation of the self, herself and remains stuck and poisons the world around her.

    In alchemy, Red is sulphur representing fiery male element the opposite of the female element. Red sulfur relates to a mixture of mercury (perfect image for this blog!) and sulfur (soul), the blending of these two representing the spiritual Great Work.

    Ah! – and just discover that the three heavenly are sulfur, mercury… and salt! Remember what the parasite was fed? I have not seen an episode, more than any other in the current run be more verbally and visually in your face about its alchemical connections. I do wonder though if there are other hidden motivations or figures behind Gillyflower's work – what is it that motivated her to carry out this twisted alchemical vision?


  110. Matthew Blanchette
    May 8, 2013 @ 2:53 pm

    You forgot the Blake reference with "Jerusalem"


  111. Daru
    May 8, 2013 @ 10:06 pm

    Yeah totally Matthew! The whole episode is dense with such references. That one being a biggie – was almost a scream and shout moment for me having Blake, one of my heroes directly referenced in the show – especially relevant after the journey we have shared with reading philip's blog here.


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