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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.

62 Comments

  1. James
    December 9, 2023 @ 8:17 pm

    It’s fascinating how the second Gatwa arrives, suddenly Tennant feels like an old man, yesterday’s doctor being put out to pasture after one last job, free to enjoy retirement, whilst Gatwa gets to do the fun stuff. Tennant is having middle-class dinner parties with his friends, all Pertwee anecdotes, whilst Gatwa is charismatic, cheeky, and camp – and heading straight for the club.

    Wonderfully ridiculous references – who’d have thought we’d be getting callbacks to Sabalom Glitz, Mavic Chen, and the trial of a timelord?? If there’s one thing I love about Davies, it’s his embrace of the fun in the more obscure niches of Who history.

    Reply

    • Kelly
      December 11, 2023 @ 1:27 am

      Middle-Class dinner parties?! I never!!! That, sir, is an honest working community’s potluck!!

      Reply

  2. Richard Pugree
    December 9, 2023 @ 8:21 pm

    14 and Donna will be back in the Unit spin off, I’m assuming? Which seems a shame, really, would he good to let it/him lie now, but I think they won’t be able to resist.

    Gatwa is going to be phenomenal. I’ve generally veered more in the ‘no hanky panky in the tardis’ direction, but if you’re going to cast Gatwa, then having him queer, camp and in his pants is absolutely what you should do. Beautiful acknowledgment in this episode too of the quirk of earlier doctors being treated as if they’re older (though I fear RTD has picked up an unfortunate habit from the Chibnall era of stating the point directly in dialogue…) : Gatwa’s shift between the ‘older’ /’younger’ types of response to Tennant was incredibly deft and one of the moments where he was able to counter the weight of having his first outing potentially undercut.

    Reply

    • Ziggy
      December 11, 2023 @ 12:16 am

      though I fear RTD has picked up an unfortunate habit from the Chibnall era of stating the point directly in dialogue…

      I’ve been waiting for somebody to say things along these lines. This episode has ridiculous amount of expositions, infodump and outright preach, loads of tell not show. I’m scratching my head for many’s love for the episode. This feels like a Chibnall episode just with better pacing and characterizations.

      Reply

      • Elizabeth Sandifer
        December 11, 2023 @ 1:15 am

        You say “better pacing and characterizations” like that’s a small thing.

        As for subtext-as-text, that’s been a standard mode of SFF for decades. Blame Neil Gaiman. Within Doctor Who terms, it was the crux of how Paul Cornell established himself as the biggest Doctor Who writer of the 90s. So I’m largely unbothered by it. I appreciate other ways of doing it, and broadly think it’d be nice if they re-emerged, but I don’t find this the wrong way to do it either.

        Reply

        • Ziggy
          December 11, 2023 @ 2:50 am

          When Toymaker made the speech about how humans love to play games and win, it strikes to me eerily similar to Barton’s speech in Spyfall. And I remember hating Spyfall, not just part 2, part 1 as well, while many were calling it quite adequate. Idk so I guess I may be just no longer capable of enjoying certain things. That said I still enjoy RTD1 stories, even the first 2 installments of these specials. I suppose the two speeches aside, what also bothers me are all the dull sequences of endless corridors and supposedly dollhouse horror (none of those worked on me), and that one minute of namedropping, a series of nostalgic empty signifiers, not unlike the holograms in POTD, not to say they don’t serve a little bit of narrative purposes here, but I am surprised RTD2 writes it this way.

          Reply

        • prandeamus
          December 12, 2023 @ 7:25 am

          Tell-not-show has virtues when you’re dealing with complex concepts, especially science fictional ones which are not only complicated but a change from the previous order (“it feels different this time”, “bigeneration”).

          The worst excesses of tell-not-show are spending a lot of time and money to explode a spaceship on screen, and then having characters says “Look! In the sky! That’s spaceship, isn’t it? I’m sure it’s an alien spaceship! And by alien, I mean something not of this world. I don’t mean a person without citizenship of this nation. Which is the UK, by the way. Is it in trouble? I’m not an expert on alien spacecraft, but, yes, look, I think it’s crashing”.

          Now, the memory may play games with me, but I recall Chibnall-era scripts being full of people narrating the CGI as if it were an audio description track. Or maybe I’m being unfair to the era and it was there all along and I just didn’t notice it.

          Reply

  3. Corey Klemow
    December 9, 2023 @ 9:53 pm

    I love the cheek of RTD finally having Bonnie Langford sing in Doctor Who – the 1987 production team having missed the obvious opportunity in “Delta and the Bannermen” – and it’s just a damn arpeggio. (Though I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t full-on sing at some point in the upcoming season – likely the Jinx Monsoon episode, but maybe she’ll also be in that goblin song at Christmas, if she’s in that episode?)

    Reply

  4. Tobias Carroll
    December 9, 2023 @ 9:56 pm

    The sheer joy of watching Tennant and Gatwa play off each other – and the way that each makes it eminently clear that they’re both playing the same character – was “chef kiss,” as they say.

    Reply

  5. James P
    December 10, 2023 @ 12:43 am

    Wow. What a wonderful episode. Still have mixed feelings about the Tennant Doctor’s ending, but I’m gonna ponder that a bit more. Two moments I loved:
    1. The climax of the episode was Gatwa, Tennant and Harris playing catch. Beautiful.
    2. As soon as I heard Mel was coming back I hoped we’d get a Sabalom Glitz reference, and Davies did not disappoint. 🙂

    Reply

    • Steven Bailey
      December 11, 2023 @ 1:11 am

      I can’t agree on the “catch” sequence. I thought it was baffling.

      It feels like the entire third act was just chopped out and replaced with a Twilight baseball sequence.

      We spend an incredibly long sequence in the first act setting up the fact that the whole world has lost their minds, the technology to stop that, the origin of it with the Giggle, the UNIT team who are fighting against it, etc, etc, etc. That’s all parked to investigate, but then when we return to the scene of all that for the third act, for the final battle…

      It all turns out to be completely irrelevant. It’s not even mentioned. You could start watching from the start of the second act and have literally no idea that everything is taking place in a world where eight billion people have been driven insane. You get no battle of the Doctor figuring out how to save humanity from itself. You get no clever tie-back to John Logie Baird, or the puppets, or the dude who was turned into a puppet. All of that is dropped like a hot plate.

      So that they can play a game of catch.

      And even there, no clever resolution. They don’t trick him, or anything.

      He just fails to catch the ball. He’s, like, not good enough at catch.

      And that’s that. The entire first act set-up has literally no effect on anything that happens in the story. None at all.

      Bizarre. Genuinely feels like an all-time great ninety-minute Doctor Who story which was chopped down to an hour and had all the important scenes deleted by mistake, so they had to rush out and film a catch sequence to fill it again.

      Reply

      • Elizabeth Sandifer
        December 11, 2023 @ 1:16 am

        And what’s wrong with a Twilight baseball sequence?

        Reply

        • Steven Bailey
          December 11, 2023 @ 2:16 pm

          Nothing!

          But would have also have enjoyed, you know, a third act.

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          • Steven Bailey
            December 11, 2023 @ 2:24 pm

            Imagine a world where NPH hoists himself up to the Big Dick Laser at the end of Act II, and says:

            “Ah, zis is our deciding game, Herr Doctor, and ze ball is already in play! Save humanity from their biggest threat of all – zemselves! You are in good practice with zis world-saving business, I think, so let us be making it challenging: you have fifteen minutes!”.

            And then we get a rollicking fifteen minutes which ties back to the world-gone-mad set-up, or the mind-pacifying technology, or the social commentary, or John Logie Baird, or the Giggle, or the robot, or the screens, or Mel, or Kate, or any of the plethora of beats that were established at length in the first act, before the Doctor finds a clever win to bring us to a final climax. And if you want the camp Twilight catch scene here as well, for a fun final beat, have at it!

            But to just have the catch, on it’s own, with no other “game” being played?

            I mean, as has been suggested, at least have Fourteen throw NPH a satsuma which he clutches at as the ball goes sailing past him; at least make it elegant or a nice tie-in. But no. The Doctor wins because the Toymaker, for inexplicable reasons, is just bad at catch.

            I get it: fun, campy, silly, Doctor Who, hoorah. But I can’t help but lust for that more complete eighty-minute story we could have gotten instead. I feel like we got two acts of genuinely top-tier corking Doctor Who, and then the third act was left in a sock drawer somewhere.

      • Ziggy
        December 11, 2023 @ 3:14 am

        I’m with you here. And I think your original post already explained the “what’s wrong” question. But I think this is RTD signifying the change of course for the show, the whole loosening of the rules, and leaning into the realm of fantasy and magic and with overall a much less serious tone. I suspect those of us who would like to stick to certain story-telling rules and reasonings will get lost even more with the new new who, and I’m prepared to, well let go. I’d like to think it’s a generation thing, much like I don’t like most of the gen Z music out there these days. There’s no reason this show, when pivoting to young people in this time, would maintain older audiences automatically, they (us) would either adapt or leave.

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        • Steven Bailey
          December 11, 2023 @ 2:34 pm

          I’m Gen Z!

          And, to be clear, I loved all the fantasy-tinged romping of the first two acts; I’m a Silence arc afficianado, I don’t need nuts-and-bolts sci-fi to press my buttons. At the same time, I’ve never quite seen such a confident narrative so completely abandon such a plethora of fantastic set-up concepts in favour of such an inexplicably weak resolution. Well, erm, not since the Silence arc, at least, but shush.

          It’s a funny one. I feel like I was served a delicate seafood started, a steaming dish of hot penne arabbiata, and then just as the scent of a sticky toffee pudding comes wafting through the kitchen doors, the waiter comes and tosses a half-eaten lardy cake on your plate instead.

          Overall, I still enjoyed The Giggle on account of it’s various brilliant moments (God, that companions-dolls scene), but IT’S NOT FAIR. IT COULD HAVE DONE SO MUCH MORE. SO MUCH MORE!!

          Reply

          • Ziggy
            December 11, 2023 @ 4:14 pm

            Haha cool, I was thinking narrowly through my lens, sorry if that seems to have assumed the demographics you’re in! I feel that inadequate resolution was quite prominent in classic Doctor Who, and that overtime this becomes a “poor writing that’s so bad it becomes a charm actually” kind of deal that now here it’s also intentionally done to echo that tradition.

          • James P
            December 12, 2023 @ 1:41 am

            To be honest, my first post above is my initial reaction. My thoughts will develop. I think that a) RTD finales are often pretty messy and always about big emotions more than conventional logic, and I’ve come to accept that (to an extent), and b) I like the catch scene because so often this type of thing ends in a big fight/explosion/shoot-out/race to stop the bomb etc and I’ve seen that so often it’s boring. What show other than Doctor Who would/could resolve a plot like this? (Maybe there are others, my TV viewing has been pretty minimal of late). Also it’s interesting that the Doctor solved the problem in a physical (but not violent) way, rather than an intellectual solution. Maybe this gives us a hint to the type of Doctor Ncuti Gatwa will be?

  6. VinegarMike
    December 10, 2023 @ 1:17 am

    Even though I try to avoid such things, I’d heard inklings of the bi-regeneration as a spoiler, and I sympathized with those who were concerned that having Tennant still be around as part of Gatwa’s opening scenes (and his Doctor possibly still being around in universe) would take away from folks accepting 15 as “the real Doctor”, and I even wondered a little about it myself. Imagine my delight when it all happens and instead strengthens Gatwa’s debut.

    Standing next to the actor who, in 2023, is arguably the most famous and beloved to have ever done it (as a fan who met the show in episode 2 of “The Ribos Operation” at age 10 when it aired on Iowa Public Television, it pains me to say this – sorry Tom Baker), Gatwa isn’t overshadowed by Tennant but just simply IS the new Doctor to me.

    And the “I’ve got you hug” after the battle is one of the best multi-Doctor moments there could ever be. Just years and years of history in one moment that also makes sense to casual viewers from a dramatic perspective.

    (And personally, Ncuti defining it so well, so quickly is special, because, even though I hate being that guy, I’m always worried that I’m going to have problems identifying with a current Doctor younger than me (even though he’s the 3rd so far), but that also wasn’t something I should have worried about.)

    And an unapologetically faggy Doctor is something 10 year old me… or 30 year old me… or honestly 40 year old me wouldn’t have dared imagine, so the more I see it play out, the more I feel like the show that has been there for me in my darkest times is somehow, even more, for me. And always has been.

    Bring on Christmas on Ruby Road!

    Reply

  7. VinegarMike
    December 10, 2023 @ 2:05 am

    Also the villain formerly known as the Celestial Toymaker for racist reasons battled UNIT while lip-synching “Spice Up Your Life”, the Spice Girls song I can’t do at karaoke for racist reasons (“yellow man in Timbuktu”); that popped into my head almost immediately and I can’t decide if I’d rather it have been done on purpose or not.

    (If RTD acknowledges this please let me know.

    Reply

    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      December 10, 2023 @ 2:19 am

      He talks about mixing it out in the commentary track and about the racism on Unleashed but doesn’t connect the two

      Reply

  8. Paul Fisher Cockburn
    December 10, 2023 @ 2:49 am

    Sorry: can’t let you get away with those “pantless” 15th Doctor references.This is still, fundamentally, a British show – copyright the BBC, not Disney+ – so Gates was trouserless, while Tennant was (presumably) pantless. Weirdly, I found the idea of the 14th Doctor going commando much more distracting than the bivouac visual delight of Gatwa’s muscular thighs…

    Reply

  9. Paul Fisher Cockburn
    December 10, 2023 @ 2:51 am

    Apologies: no idea where that “bivouac” came from. My spellchecker is clearly more imaginative than I am.

    Reply

    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      December 10, 2023 @ 3:21 am

      Oh don’t worry, the “Gates” autocorrect error was far worse 🤣

      Reply

  10. Anton B
    December 10, 2023 @ 3:51 am

    Amazing! Doctor Who is watchable again.
    RTD says the show’s new stories will be more fantasy based under his second tenure. To misquote Alan Moore “weren’t they all?”
    I remember Steven Moffat replying to a question about what he’d do when the Doctor reached their 13 regeneration limit with “We’ll make something up!”
    There’s a convincing argument to be made that ‘Doctor Who’ has been making stuff up, improvising plots and creating canon on the run since its first episode. It’s become the longest running fantasy series in the world because the Doctor just won’t stop running and I’d guess ‘What would happen if he decided to stop running’ was a plot device waiting to happen.
    A staple trick of improvisational theatre is the “yes and…” ploy, otherwise known as “acceptance”. Your on-stage co creator/actor gives you a concept and you accept it and run with it.  “An elephant just walked on stage!” They say. “Yes and… he has a letter for you.” You reply. “Oh, yes and…it says I’ve inherited a zoo, would you like a penguin?” “Why of course!” and so on. In other words the trick is to keep running. The worst sin would be to reject the offer. You must keep that ball in the air by making stuff up.
    Long may Doctor Who continue to make stuff up on the run.

    Reply

    • Ross
      December 11, 2023 @ 8:46 am

      Yes, and… The sheer unbridled joy of, after months of THOSE fans hoping and praying that RTD would come back and “erase” all the things they hated, he says “Yes, and”. He says “It’s ALL true. All of it. Even the lies. Especially the lies. Not only is all of it true, but so is everything else. Evertything. All of it.”

      I even wonder if there is some element here of a nod to the weird old Peter Cushing interview (which I have never verified myself, it being more fun not to) where he proposed that the ’60s Dalek movies were in fact canon, featuring a future Doctor who’d had his identity manipulated by the Toymaker.

      Reply

      • Martin Porter
        December 11, 2023 @ 1:25 pm

        (Context for the general populace: The Peter Cushing interview was almost certainly not, in fact, an actual interview that was conducted by him, and appears to originate from a random WordPress blog. Peter Cushing was by no means a sci-fi fan, and it therefore seems unlikely that he would be making up theories about the Toymaker.)

        Reply

        • Aquanafrahudy
          December 11, 2023 @ 1:26 pm

          Very sorry about that, I seem to have accidentally published a comment under somebody else’s name and email address.

          Not sure what’s happened to the magical thing that makes the comments work, but I don’t think it’s good.

          Reply

          • Elizabeth Sandifer
            December 11, 2023 @ 1:36 pm

            It’s an extremely weird bug that we’re having trouble understanding, but are working on.

        • Ross
          December 12, 2023 @ 8:47 am

          The reason I never verified it was that it always seemed so wildly unlikley that I knew verification could only lead to disappointment :-). It’s one of those weird old lies that embedded itself in reality. There was a cool art project I saw years ago (a big inspiration for my own series of faked artifacts from a timeline where the Americans rebooted Doctor Who in the 90s) that seemed to have been spun off of it – reconstructed telesnaps and press articles about a “lost” fifth anniversary special multi-doctor story featuring Cushing (It was, quite naturally, titled “Day of Doctor Who”.

          I found myself thinking, “Oh, now this means that RTD can bring back any past Doctor he wants whenever he feels like it, just as a lark.” But then I realize: This has always been true. They never needed any sort of reason to justify doing that, any more than they needed to justify The Two Doctors. This is an imaginary story…. Aren’t they all?

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  11. magpiesovereign
    December 10, 2023 @ 4:09 am

    This was maybe the busiest episode of Doctor Who ever? It had ‘evil puppet haunting television’, ‘humanity becomes a youtube comment section’, and ‘toymaker plays sinister games’, which are treated as part of the same idea but surely aren’t really? This isn’t a bad thing, but since I thought all three were really cool ideas it’s a shame that each got such little focus. The games, for example, were pretty dull in practice. I’m a sucker for ‘games but deadly’ as a premise (love squid game etc.), but high-card and catch didn’t really scratch that itch. There just wasn’t time to do the stuff I assumed would be the bread and butter of toymaker as a villain. On top of that, we’ve got the backdoor UNIT pilot, the introduction of Fifteen, and the conclusion of Fourteen and Donna.

    For my money, I did feel like Ncuti’s first moments were overshadowed by the persistence of Tennant. It felt like Fifteen became, for these few minutes, a supporting character for the emotional journey of Fourteen, while I’m ready to dive into the emotions of Fifteen instead. Ncuti was excellent, as was Tennant, but I would have far preferred ten minutes of ‘new doctor saves the day’ to what we got. (Also I’m not an authority on this, but how did ‘do you come in a range of colours?’ land for others?). I didn’t love the metacrisis Doctor in Journey’s End either, but the difference seems to be that 10.2 was clearly never intended to appear on screen again, while 14.2 surely is? To be honest, I’m not sick of Tennant yet. He’s great in the role, and I would probably enjoy him continuing to return, but for me the most important aesthetic of Doctor Who is change, and it doesn’t seem healthy for future of the program to be holding on to the past like this.

    Obviously Doctor Who must be allowed to repeat emotional beats, or it would quickly run out of things to do, but I did find it strange that the Doctor slowing down and living a mundane life was treated as a grand revelation when it was one of the major thematic concerns of the Moffat era. This episode invokes the ‘deaths’ of the Moffat companions as unresolved trauma which the Doctor never stopped running for long enough to process, but that just isn’t true. After Amy’s ‘death’, the Doctor retired for an indefinite period, then shortly afterward chose to stop running and grow old in a decision clearly contrasted against the ‘The Eleventh Hour’ and ‘The Power of Three’. After Clara’s ‘death’, the Doctor settled down with River for 24 years, then lived through 70 years of history at St. Luke’s in basically the right order. This could hardly matter less, of course, but it did bother me!

    Just to offer my cold takes on the hot fandom topics of late 2022: I’ve fully come around to Tennant’s second go at the Doctor getting his own number, but I just think Davies made the wrong call with losing Whittaker’s costume in the regeneration. The costume overlap is always charming (it continued to be charming here in ‘The Giggle’), and the optics around the transition from ‘first female Doctor’ to ‘old favourite male Doctor’ are important. Especially since we now know that the in-universe explanation for Tennant’s face returning was an impulse to seek comfort after trauma. (Considering Whittaker’s regeneration, “I wanna know what happens next!” sits poorly for me with a trauma-driven return to an old face, and would have fit well with a direct transition to Ncuti.)

    Like last week, I think this was probably a good episode of Doctor Who? I liked lots (everything that happened while Stooky Bill was on screen was fantastic, Ruth Madeley had a lovely bit on the ‘behind the scenes’ about the accessible tardis, the performances were great, and ‘zingo’ could easily become tropey shorthand for ‘thing fans think needs an explanation, but doesn’t need an explanation’), yet I’ve somehow become the sort of fan who’s too invested to enormously enjoy it. I’ll try to adjust my expectations before Christmas and next year, and see how it goes.

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    • JPJG
      December 10, 2023 @ 8:40 am

      I think “the Toymaker plays games” and “humanity becomes a comment section” are closely linked, if only because I actually agree (and did then too!) with that now decade+ old take that Twitter, and social media broadly, are MMOs, where players take on roles (some based on themselves, some not) and compete for attention in exchange for the same kind of dopamine triggers that games produce. The Toymaker makes every interaction one of those, and makes everyone feel like they’re winning all the time. The guy in the street who we actually hear explain himself appears to be almost high on the experience, and the government guy is clearly enjoying himself immensely – they’re experiencing a ludic victory instead of a conversation or interaction.

      Reply

    • Malbec
      December 12, 2023 @ 7:36 pm

      I liked the high card game, because once it was established that the Toymaker doesn’t cheat it took all the skill out of the game and gave the Doctor a 50/50 chance. But wouldn’t the Master of Games be uncannily good at catch? Why would he drop the ball? At least have the two doctors team up against him. Why were they throwing the ball to each other at all?

      Reply

  12. Bedlinog
    December 10, 2023 @ 5:01 am

    ‘the Chibnall shade is “I made a jigsaw of your history. Did you like it?”’
    Oh, and also, when the Doctor says ‘when I was young’ and we then see William Hartnell pop up.

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  13. ChewieKen
    December 10, 2023 @ 6:45 am

    Just had a thought (and curious if Davies addresses this in his commentary.) Can the bi-regeneration actually retcon Season 6b to make more sense? Troughton regenerates into Pertwee while also continuing to work for the Time Lords? Wild!

    Reply

    • Scurra
      December 10, 2023 @ 7:49 am

      I’m not sure it does work for 6b because that regeneration was enforced by the Time Lords so they wouldn’t think “bi-regeneration” was a myth? Then again, the Doctor is clearly different to the rest of them, so it’s possible that it’s an effect that is unique to the Doctor and that it has happened in the past – perhaps even with e.g. the Fugitive Doctor being able to interact with 13.

      Reply

  14. Richard Pugree
    December 10, 2023 @ 7:50 am

    I also had a good chuckle at Tennant’s and Tate’s valiant efforts, to sell, with some not very nuanced dialogue, how desparate and unlike anything else we’ve seen before the Toymaker’s domain was, when at that point it was literally just some corridors. Donna being completely flummoxed by some twisty corridors after everything she’s seen? Felt like some placeholder dialogue he forgot to go back to, or a victim of an earlier weirder scene being cut.

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    • James P
      December 10, 2023 @ 3:22 pm

      Yes, I noticed that dialogue too. It seemed unnecessary; I think the audience would have quickly figured out that normal rules don’t apply to The Toymaker.
      I’m not sure if it’s symptomatic of a broader trend of TV creators thinking modern audiences need to have everything explained to them, or just slip-up, as you say.

      Reply

  15. Przemek
    December 10, 2023 @ 11:29 am

    Weirdly, this episode made me realize that my culture doesn’t really have a toymaker figure as part of its imaginarium. Same goes for a puppetmaster figure. They only exist as popcultural imports. So the Toymaker as a villain was doubly interesting (and weird) for me.

    Aside from that, all I have to say is that I really, really liked the episode. And that I am very excited for Gatwa. What a joy to be able to feel like that about Doctor Who again.

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  16. Cyrano
    December 10, 2023 @ 1:44 pm

    Wrote a longish post but accidentally deleted it. And all that’s really worth salvaging is a tip of the hat to how deft RTD’s massage is from “The Celestial Toymaker is a racist character” to “The Toymaker is a racist person”, and therefore does horrible things (which we disapprove of).

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  17. Martin Porter
    December 10, 2023 @ 2:31 pm

    So, bi-generation was RTD’s way of dealing with the Timeless Child. Not ignoring it, not retconning it, but retiring it doing a soft reboot.

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    • Laurence Price
      December 13, 2023 @ 1:05 pm

      If you’ll permit me a decade-long de-lurk…
      Yes, I agree the game of catch was slightly odd (even though it gave us lots of opportunities to luxuriate in seeing Ncuti and David together. But it fits with the character of the Toymaker- he doesn’t actually make games that are unwinnable, nor does he cheat. Just like the ultimate game the Toymaker used first time round was Towers of blooming Hanoi (I think El might have used a stronger word back in the days…)- a game that is totally winnable, and as simple in its own way as catch.

      Reply

  18. TheMagister
    December 10, 2023 @ 4:45 pm

    I have a theory that The Doctor didn’t correct Mel when she mentioned being the first redhead companion was because thinking of Turlough would have instantly brought out 15.

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    • Kit
      December 12, 2023 @ 4:27 am

      tee hee

      Reply

  19. Jesse
    December 10, 2023 @ 5:16 pm

    My favorite fannish wink was the rather blank look the Doctor gave Mel when she mentioned her backstory and said, “Remember?” He snipped off that bit of her timeline when he flew off with her for the “first time” at the end of “The Trial of a Time Lord”, so no, he doesn’t remember their original first meeting.

    Are they really making a UNIT spin-off? I can’t say it interests me. Every time UNIT comes storming out with their prop assault rifles and helicopter TARDIS transport it just bores me. Kate Stewart doesn’t really have the charm of the Brigadier IMO, and there’s no consistent side characters like Benton and Yates to form a “UNIT family”. I think Torchwood already did the “humans with guns confronting aliens” thing better anyway (again, because of an excellent cast of distinctive characters).

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    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      December 10, 2023 @ 5:36 pm

      They’re likely to make some sort of spinoff, and they have a very expensive UNIT set already built, but past that who can say.

      Reply

  20. Jane
    December 10, 2023 @ 8:39 pm

    “One thing you need in this place is a Chair.”
    That’s the new Doctor’s first line in the TARDIS. Thank you, RTD.

    “All the people we Lost.”
    Mm Hmm. Tell me more. 🙁 The acknowledgment of one’s suffering is key to letting go. To moving on.

    To complete the mirror-twinning of the Doctor, where the bifurcation cleaves between staying and going, a mirror-twinning of the TARDIS had to take place as well. So that staying would be a choice instead of a trap.

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    • Jane
      December 10, 2023 @ 9:00 pm

      Also, and maybe I’m being choozy about this, I’m taking this as a promise of the spookiest Master yet — because that gleaming gold tooth is totally an intrusion of Palmer Eldritch into the Whoniverse.

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  21. Kelly
    December 11, 2023 @ 1:14 am

    I liked this episode the least of the 60th specials, mostly for reasons that AREN’T the things everyone is discoursing about (I always like the Dr Whos about space geopolitics better than the cosmic mystical ones, even if the latter is more quintessentially Who-y (maybe I like DW best when it pretends to be Star Trek), and I found the “social media makes you crazy” themes quite preachy and annoying.

    But I quite like, actually, that the sequence of the Dr’s regenerations is muddled and confused, now, with this episode and the Timeless Child arc both. The Dr is not just a linear progression; they’re a super-object, occupying an uncertain number (infinitely many?) of possible and actual positions in time-space, both in sequence, and not, and simultaneously, and not. Sometimes one doctor succeeds another, sometimes they fork in two, or maybe both, or maybe neither, and maybe they all exist at once, and maybe there’s only really one, and maybe it’s all just how our limited human minds perceive a four-dimensional intelligence. There’s always been something eldritch-without-being-scary about the doctor, something basically beyond human comprehension– the regenerations are, indeed, rather like the Trinitarian conception of God: a whole which is divided into parts, which are fractions of the whole, and yet NOT fractions, because each IS the whole. To our mortal minds this is paradoxical; to them, it’s only natural. And I think the last few years of stories have added to this that really makes the Doctor feel mythic and big-a Awesome as a concept.

    Also, Zingo is gonna be a thing now right? Like how ATMOS and Archangel were the new technologies in the human world that turned out to be a thing? I wonder if it’s related to The Boss/The One Who Waits…

    Reply

    • Kelly
      December 11, 2023 @ 1:29 am

      The Curator also plays into this, and the Morbius Faces, and all the rest of the idiosyncrasies. The Doctor works best as something beyond human understanding– that includes the narrative structure of their life. They’re adventuring forever, but also retired in a museum, but also living with Donna, and also the Lord President of Gallifrey, and also (according to Lawrence Miles), eventually, a corpse, etc. etc., and on the level of Eternity where a Time Lord really operates these are all simultaneous, while we mere linearly living mortals may try to put them in an order– but we’ll never get an order that makes sense

      Reply

    • Anton B
      December 11, 2023 @ 4:48 am

      I like this take on the multi-dimensional aspect of the Doctor(s). It reminds me of the denouement of Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” where we discover the true, horrific nature of, possibly the silliest of his adversaries, Mr Mxyzptlk, who turns out to be a pan-dimensional being whose shape we can never truly comprehend.

      I’ve been advocating for an end to numbering the Doctors for some time. The idea that 4 followed 3 and was replaced by 5 only serves to foreground the actors themselves rather than explain anything ‘in universe’ as it were. We are only really reciting the litany Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, Baker etc. Now we’ve got to 14 (10’s slight return) and the bifurcated 15, the Fugitive and War Doctors, not to mention whatever the hell happened to Whittaker and the Master in Flux it’s surely time to just say the Doctor (“as played by… if we must).

      This certainly makes sense if we’re going to have a completely clean slate with the Gatwa Disney+ audience in mind. Sure, mention there are numerous incarnations of the Doctor out there but there’s no need to linearly number then anymore.

      Reply

  22. Luke M
    December 11, 2023 @ 5:43 am

    The bigeneration drew a line under the 1963-2023 Who run for sure.

    I think it also was an audience-management tool to have Tennant face-to-face with Gatwa saying “You’re the Doctor”. Similar to how they had Smith call Clara to tell her that Capaldi (an older classic Doctor after a run of younger actors) was “the Doctor”.

    I wonder if it has the added benefit that if the Disney thing goes completely sour, the BBC can effectively silo the Disney Doctors without any contractual issues (ala Grace and Chang from the Fox Movie) as they can effectively point to the 14th Doctor as literally completely split off.

    Anyway, looking forward to the show looking forward! It has really turned inwards too much!

    Reply

  23. Leslie L
    December 12, 2023 @ 1:55 pm

    I was just blown away from this episode. I was spoiled a bit about the Bi- Generation, thought I thought they were going to do what they did with Whittier in her last episode with the doctors in the mind scape. Gatwa’s doctor hit it right out of the park, not only in his actions but also being more emotionally human.

    I know Tennant’s has often been considered the most human Doctor, by the fans, but I always thought he had a distance to his character, the whole Last of the Time Lords bit that of course would put immense weight on anyone’s shoulders. But now, this seems like an era, marked by Tennant regenerating into a more emotionally expressive Doctor, that is focused on emotionally fulling what it means to have humanity.

    In the last three episodes we’ve had with Tennant, we had more emotional declarations of love with the fourteenth than we ever had with the Tenth Doctor. Even with themselves with the whole two doctors. And I’ve realized I’ve missed having moments like that in Doctor Who. While they were there in the Chlipnel Era, the last time I really emotionally connected to the companions was with Bill in the Moffat Era.

    Also, Donna went from one of the worst endings for a companion to have, to having an happy ending, with her family, and the Doctor as her brother. That is amazing to see that for her, I cried from her ending so many times, and now she’s healed, same for her Doctor.

    From the Man who regrets to the Man who heals

    Reply

  24. John Binns
    December 14, 2023 @ 8:27 am

    Musing on whether a bi-regenerated Doctor means two separate cycles from now on, or whether they might somehow re-join together at some point, I realised we have already seen a regeneration where two Doctors join together, in Logopolis/Castrovalva…

    Reply

    • Daibhid C
      December 17, 2023 @ 12:11 pm

      The line “I’m fine because you fixed yourself. We’re Time Lords, we’re doing rehab out of order.” suggests that Fifteenth already remembers what happens to Fourteenth next, somehow. I would guess that this implies a remerging of some sort, at some point.

      Reply

  25. Corey Klemow
    December 14, 2023 @ 9:14 pm

    On reflection, the real baller move would have been if George and Martha had shown up at the end.

    Reply

    • Corey Klemow
      December 14, 2023 @ 11:56 pm

      …Margaret, dangit, not Martha. A decent joke blown on an unchecked fuzzy memory.

      Reply

  26. Daibhid C
    December 17, 2023 @ 12:05 pm

    So, um… Tennant and Tate pretty much have to come back some day, right? Like, Davies has season finales to execute, and he’s not going to leave a gun that big just sitting on the mantlepiece, is he?

    Yeah, it doesn’t seem very likely that RTD would send a duplicate TennantDoc off to be part of a former companion’s family, and then just never mention it aga… oh.

    Reply

    • Daibhid C
      December 17, 2023 @ 12:54 pm

      Unnecessary sarcasm aside, it occurs to be that “The Bi-generation Doctor meets the Metacrisis Doctor” would at the very least make a fun Children in Need sketch.

      Reply

  27. Rei Maruwa
    December 24, 2023 @ 3:01 am

    Was shocked at how eruditorum-core these episodes have been, but maybe I shouldn’t be! The idea of the medium of television being cursed and haunted from its inception is so perfect a loaded metafictional conceit for Doctor Who to use that it almost feels wasted in an episode where there’s so much other stuff going on (even if it is nicked from the telephone avatar from Morrison’s Doom Patrol(!)). And the Doctor even refers to his original encounter with the Toymaker as a “mistake” – hard not to see that as not suggesting on some level that this is a story about Doctor Who being haunted by its own early-day racism, coming home to roost by psychically bringing out the bigotry in all mankind.

    The bi-generation feels like it should be a terrible idea on many levels but Gatwa convinced me (and 14) that it works. Doubling the TARDIS feels much more troubling to me, though – seems like 14 isn’t really giving up anything, and potentially nor are the viewers. Looking forward to watching the obvious UNIT show though.

    Reply

    • Rei Maruwa
      December 24, 2023 @ 1:29 pm

      And to follow up on myself, with 14’s time of healing presenting a clean split between 1-14 and 15, of course the final villain of 1-14’s Doctor Who would be the show’s own racism, exorcised from the TV set just in time to usher in a POC Doctor.

      Reply

  28. Juno
    December 27, 2023 @ 2:52 pm

    I knew about the bigeneration so the biggest twist for me was the return of Mel which made me giggle (pun intended) with glee. Having her and Donna pull apart Tennant into is such a mad idea only RTD could have thought of it.

    Reply

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