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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. Scott
    December 29, 2014 @ 12:17 am

    Baddiel, Skinner, and Lightning Seed also chart […] with a hilarious belief that England might not crash pathetically out of the World Cup.

    It says a lot that when you read the lyrics of what has basically been England's premier World Cup pop anthem for the last twenty-odd years or so, they can essentially be summed up with "Well, we might not get utterly humiliated this time."


  2. Thomas Lawrence
    December 29, 2014 @ 12:46 am

    Wonderful. Worth the wait. Worth the blog.

    Wait, is that title quote actually from Capaldi in "Last Christmas"? If so, there's a tremendous act of providence for you. The patterns of magic…

    Gods, but I love the "something old, something new" bit. that's just so desperately clever and perfect, so much so that I have the nasty feeling someone's going to pop up in the comments to tell me Lawrence Miles came up with it first somewhere (except that his version would have been far less moving and beautiful, natch).

    It's interesting how two series of Moffat's Who end with a wedding. I wonder if Jane's going to have thoughts on the alchemical significance of the idea of marriage.


  3. David Anderson
    December 29, 2014 @ 1:38 am

    The title quote also fits a plot element in Name of the Doctor, for what it's worth.


  4. mengu
    December 29, 2014 @ 1:39 am

    'Time travel is always possible in dreams' was first voiced by Madame Vastra in The Name of the Doctor.

    A wedding is a union, though usually between two people with both similarities and oppositions.


  5. David Anderson
    December 29, 2014 @ 1:42 am

    I wouldn't be utterly surprised were Moffat to say he'd basically written the entire season arc so that he could use the 'something old something new' motif.


  6. David Anderson
    December 29, 2014 @ 1:46 am

    I gather that Walt Simonson wrote a Fantastic Four story in which,among other non-linear time travel plotting, Reed Richards escapes Doctor Doom's impossible death trap by travelling back in time and letting himself out. Simonson's justification being, 'of course he escapes the impossible death trap: he's Reed Richards'. Which I think fits very much with Moffat's attitude to Doctor Who (and Phil's attitude).


  7. Kit
    December 29, 2014 @ 1:55 am

    While Ian Broudie is the only consistent member, The Lightning Seeds are plural.

    (Indeed, the total gap between Amelia’s long night and The Beast Below is, at fourteen years, in the same general ballpark as the Wilderness Years.)

    The parallel is designed even more specific than this — Amy is born in 1989, the year Doctor Who disappeared from television; he reappears for one night only in 2006, before disappearing again and leaving her wanting and waiting to know more, for years to come – her formative life is defined by an absence of Doctor Who in our world as well as hers…


  8. David Anderson
    December 29, 2014 @ 2:02 am

    I've worried away at Phil's use of 'narrative collapse' before; may I do so again?

    I still think that using 'narrative collapse' to cover every threat to the possibility of future Doctor Who stories is widening the concept too far. Any cliffhanger that threatens the Doctor fits that description (except arguably between Ribos Operation and Warrior's Gate).
    Phil originally introduced the term to cover extra-diegetic threats to Doctor Who, which I think is a more original and more useful term. So the threatened narrative collapse in the Big Bang (and in Last of the Time Lords) isn't, will the Doctor and companions save the day and put everything back the way it was (of course they will), but will they do so in a way that doesn't feel like a cheap use of the Big Friendly Reset Button.

    Alan Moore's reason for not making Alec Holland Swamp Thing is then that the nature of the story is the protagonist trying to provoke a narrative collapse, and that's inherently unstable and unsatisfactory for an ongoing story.


  9. Froborr
    December 29, 2014 @ 2:38 am

    I am fairly certain you have your years wrong, as that would make Young Amelia 17.


  10. Froborr
    December 29, 2014 @ 2:41 am

    Wait, is this… it? Is this the last TARDIS Eruditorum? It can't be, can it? There's still a few more, right?


  11. Jarl
    December 29, 2014 @ 2:56 am

    It's better than that. Amelia was born in 1989, and never knew the Doctor growing up. The Doctor appeared for one night in 1996. The Eleventh Hour is an ersatz Eighth Doctor story. In fact, in 1996 Easter fell in early April, which is when previews for the movie apparently started airing, it wouldn't actually air until mid-May.

    The next time he shows up is 2008, which was the last time the show was regularly on the air, and then he vanishes for two years to do some Shakespeare or something and then voila, season five begins!


  12. Jarl
    December 29, 2014 @ 2:59 am

    Still got Day of the Doctor and Silence in the Library to work through. He said he had a few climaxes to go through. And besides that we've got the rest of the Doctors Revisited. I'll be interested to see his take on 9's, it was a strange choice of episode.


  13. Jarl
    December 29, 2014 @ 3:07 am

    For my money, this really is the biggest, most audacious cliffhanger the show ever has and probably ever will pull (not necessarily equal to "the best" but still, top three or five easy). The entire cast is dead and the universe is destroyed. Silence falls, literally cutting off the music before the show ends. The only thing that could make it any better is if they'd left out the "To be continued".
    I have a pretty hefty takedown of the Kovarian plan that I could share now, but the time has either passed or not yet come for it, and it's very much trying to straighten a spring to see how it works. Suffice it to say, it's extremely interesting that the Pandorica alliance is made up primarily of the forces that the Silence are trying to keep away from Trenzalore.
    Well, okay, one more thing regarding the Silence and the TARDIS and the whole plan. Whodunnit has pretty well been established at this point, and Whydunnit followed closely, but the remaining key piece missing, the one that bugs a lot of people (myself, sadly, included) is Howdunnit. It bugged me for ages until I just… stopped thinking about it, one day, and it came to me. Who's in the TARDIS when it explodes? Who's working the controls, right before it explodes? Who's the only one that hears the voice? Who's the one we know is an agent of the Silence?

    … well, okay, starting those sentences with "Who" doesn't really work since she kept her maiden name, but…


  14. Lewis Christian
    December 29, 2014 @ 3:22 am

    Interesting also is the piece in DWM where Moffat talks about a Tennant-led Series 5 (which he re-works into what became Series 6 with Smith). I definitely get the impression he planned both Series 5 and 6 very carefully.


  15. Lewis Christian
    December 29, 2014 @ 3:25 am

    The only thing that could make it any better is if they'd left out the "To be continued".

    I thought it was neat that they didn't even give us a teaser/trailer for The Big Bang. Again, it's the team going one step further. RTD was careful not to show any Doctor moments in the trailer for Journey's End, so as not to ruin the cliffhanger. Here, however, Moffat and co. just decide not to give us any trailer at all.


  16. Lewis Christian
    December 29, 2014 @ 3:27 am

    I fear I'm in a very small minority here – whilst I do like the Ponds and some of their future adventures, I also feel that The Big Bang would've been the perfect place to end their era. (Going with the cracked mirror of an RTD series – had RTD been at the helm, it would've been perhaps likely that the Ponds would've made an exit here. By taking them beyond, into more series, it could be argued that Moffat is further 'breaking' the RTD formulas and making the show his own.)


  17. jane
    December 29, 2014 @ 4:24 am

    The alchemical wedding is the union of opposites — in Big Bang (which implies a honeymoon, of course) it's the union of finality and eternity, the small scale of which Phil describes so eloquently in Amy's storytelling.

    Writ large, of course, it the tension between a Universe with a single beginning and end, versus one that perpetually renews itself in a kind of Eternal Return. We humans live in the former; the Doctor is of the other one.

    One is a Line, the other a Circle. And those principles inform the Pandorica, the Circle in the Square (for squares are constructed of discrete lines) that represents the union of the Divine and the material Body, without which there would be no material social progress.


  18. unnoun
    December 29, 2014 @ 5:07 am

    That last paragraph is the best.


  19. Marionette
    December 29, 2014 @ 5:55 am

    I think this is perhaps the point where Phil and I fundementally part ways. I didn't feel that The Pandorica Opens earned its climax, so it didn't resonate with me. Having a lot of the villains gang up on the Doctor? Great idea, but here it came across more as digging through the prop box to see what costumes were available than some grand conspiracy.

    I don't see the Daleks teaming up with anyone, least of all the Cybermen, without good reason, and nothing was actually established about how they all got together and why the Autons had a copy of Rory two thousand years before he died, or what the stupid crack had to do with any of it.

    To me it was all superficial flash and fireworks, to distract you from the lack of solid storytelling underneath. Like far too much of Moffat's work.


  20. xec tilus
    December 29, 2014 @ 7:07 am

    Roman Rory is explained pretty succinctly – he is a reproduction based on psychic residue from Amy's room. When River discovers the house having been broken into, among the things she finds is a photo of Rory and Amy in their fancy dress costumes. (His unintended faithfulness to the original is attributed to the power of Amy's memory from long-term crack exposure.)

    The Daleks' team up was prompted by all of time being about to go splat, even Daleks don't want to un-exist and they're not above feigning helpfulness. The cracks were damage from the 'splat' spreading outwards.


  21. William Silvia
    December 29, 2014 @ 7:32 am

    I ENJOY this episode, but if one looks remotely critically at it there are some irksome things. A friend of mine cannot bring himself past his hatred of the scene where a Dalek pleads for mercy at the mere mention of River Song's name. I have a similar distaste for the same character's ability to be taught to fly the TARDIS in a sequence of events not unlike every child's first attempt at self-insert Mary Sue fiction. Years later, the most problematic thing about this episode is that the TARDIS still does not have a feasible reason for exploding, other than some vague hand-wavy-ness that a bad person blew it up despite having absolutely no method of doing so.

    On a more minor note, the fact that the Daleks managed to travel back in time to convince races that had no beef with the Doctor at this point that he needed to be sealed away for all eternity is rather head-scratching. The fact that the Doctor's speech is ultimately pointless also hurts the episode's integrity on a fan-only level.


  22. prandeamus
    December 29, 2014 @ 8:00 am

    Excellent, @Jarl. I'm not going to look this up to check every last detail, because I want it to be correct.


  23. David Anderson
    December 29, 2014 @ 8:03 am

    Jarl's post above has one solid method for a bad person to blow the TARDIS up. Otherwise, we could blame it on a Silence confessor slipping on board. (I'd rather blame it on a Silence confessor personally, but I think Jarl's explanation is the one Moffat had in mind.)

    If the Daleks can travel back in time, they can ferry other races along with them.


  24. ReNeilssance
    December 29, 2014 @ 8:07 am

    We finally made it to the fireworks factory.

    I don't personally find this story to be quite everything this essay says it is, but given that I disagree that the Moffat era is the pinnacle of Who it would be literally impossible for that to be the case. It has, however, finally given me a justification for the 'Doctor goes back in time and rescues himself' resolution – although the concept of the Doctor being able to do that fundamentally breaks the show, he can only do it when the show is already fundamentally broken. That makes sense to me.


  25. Leslie Lozada
    December 29, 2014 @ 8:27 am


    Seeing all of this series in a marathon, it did pay off for me.

    Even if watching certain episodes of the RTD era or Clara's (which she is a great charater in her own right), this two parter solified that, even if I end up watching beyond this era of the show, this version of the TARDIS will be seared in my heart.


  26. Ombund
    December 29, 2014 @ 8:34 am

    I think you'll find those are highly personal "irksome things" – as I love both of those parts. The TARDIS conspiracy as outlined by Jarl above is also the one I subscribe to, so I have no problem with the TARDIS blowing up either.

    The point of the Pandorica speech is to correspond with the speech on the hospital roof in The Eleventh Hour. We're tricked into thinking that the Doctor is yet again "The man who can turn an army around at the mention of his name", but (as great as the speech is) it's all very unsatisfying. What, again? I could accept this working on the Atraxi, but with all this lot as well? How rubbish. But then it's meant to be: the Doctor's being arrogant here, and a speech really isn't going to cut it this time. We soon see him punished for his hubris as he's dragged into the Pandorica, feet kicking uselessly at the ground. But the audience is punished along with him, punished for allowing ourselves to be suckered, and forced to watch our narrative collapse in front of our eyes. No more Doctor Who for you.

    Well…perhaps something'll turn up next week.


  27. David Anderson
    December 29, 2014 @ 8:55 am

    The speech sounds like hubris, except that when we get to the conclusion, it isn't run away, but rather the bathetic 'let somebody else go first'. Followed by the Doctor's even more bathetic 'that should buy us half an hour'.


  28. Alex Antonijevic
    December 29, 2014 @ 9:15 am

    I gather it's gonna be like the last half hour of Return of the King.


  29. encyclops
    December 29, 2014 @ 10:26 am

    the protagonist trying to provoke a narrative collapse, and that's inherently unstable and unsatisfactory for an ongoing story.

    I dunno — it worked for Quantum Leap, and probably quite a few other more obvious "I just wanna be normal again" examples I'm failing to think of offhand. But I get your general point.


  30. encyclops
    December 29, 2014 @ 10:27 am

    I gather it's gonna be like the last half hour of Return of the King.

    If you mean frustratingly light on Sam/Frodo makeout sessions, I fear you're probably right. 🙁


  31. prandeamus
    December 29, 2014 @ 10:49 am

    All this comment and no one has mentioned the Fez? Fezzes are cool.


  32. encyclops
    December 29, 2014 @ 10:53 am

    Looking back at my own commentary, which was really underwritten on account of being mainly for my own benefit at the time, it seems that I really enjoyed "Pandorica" but was left kind of cold and perplexed by "Big Bang," wondering and worrying about what events of Season 5, if any, had been negated. It's probably at least down to the influence of this blog that it seems silly of me to have cared so much.

    When I think about it now, I find I'm not all that excited by the prospect of rewatching "Pandorica" (even at the time I remarked "For about 34 minutes it seems pretty silly…big, fast, loose, very kitchen-sink with the monsters and the gratuitous CGI"), but I remember "Big Bang" as a hell of a lot of fun followed by a pretty legitimately moving sequence starting with the Doctor tracking back through his adventures and then the speech to Amy.

    About that speech: those are the ones I treasure. I'm clearly "not in my right mind" because I can't abide the grandstanding speeches; when I think about moments in New Who that make me cringe, it's typically stuff like "what do you never put in a trap? me," "basically: run," or "the Doctor’s speech to the assembled fleet of bad guys." Though, to be fair, as David noted above it's nicely undercut by the Doctor's own comments and the fact that they're all up there like "ha ha, shit, he has no idea what's coming." It's the quiet speeches that do it for me. That bedside monologue is the one, man.

    In hindsight, then, though I'll never like this as much as Phil does (who could? I guess Moffat, maybe), I heartily agree it's one of the best finales and some great fucking television.

    Even if I'm still not sure, as I wrote back then, "what good is a prison any idiot with a sonic screwdriver can open from the outside?"


  33. David Gould
    December 29, 2014 @ 11:19 am

    She's not only in the Tardis, she's messing around with two big tubes in a scene very reminiscent of when she dies in Forest of the Dead. I'm guessing that's deliberate. And, in the loop, she's saying "I'm sorry my love". At the time, I assumed she was apologising for not having fixed it, but this is a better reading.


  34. Kit
    December 29, 2014 @ 1:07 pm

    Yes, sorry: typo obviously.


  35. Matthew Blanchette
    December 29, 2014 @ 3:46 pm

    "I definitely get the impression he planned both Series 5 and 6 very carefully."

    Series 6, perhaps less so, but those highs… oh, they are SO high. And then we reach the tedium of Series 7, and oh do I still wish Matt Smith hadn't ended his run with such a blah series. 🙁


  36. Matthew Blanchette
    December 29, 2014 @ 3:56 pm

    I remember, watching "The Big Bang" for the first time (on Dailymotion — SORRY! — because this was before American and British broadcasts were synched up); the recap ends… and I gasped at the opening shot. It was "The Eleventh Hour" again!

    And at that moment, I felt… magic. I felt possibilities, unlimited… I felt an awe come over my soul. And I knew, at that moment, that Moffat had me. Hook, line, and sinker.

    I've wriggled off his line since, but that moment… I am still amazed at what awe it brings me. The child at heart, the joy of infinity


  37. Jarl
    December 29, 2014 @ 6:15 pm

    The Doctor describes it further than that, it's literally Rory's soul in the robot, which is why he remembers it when it comes back. Remember, in the show's cosmology, one of the few consistencies is that souls exist as a real, physical phenomenon. This is what Cybermen steal from humans, what Regeneration batters and deep fries but never destroys, what the Library saves, what the Autons captured when they made a Rory duplicate. In fact, the soul is so real that it can likewise be duplicated, as we see in the Rebel Flesh and Name of the Doctor. Remember, the souffle isn't the souffle, the souffle is the recipe.

    Also, as far as I'm concerned, this episode gives further insight into the Time War, via the Doctor describing the remains of creatures that can never have existed as "footprints of the never-were". So that's one half of the Could-Have-Been King's army, creatures who have no past and thus are perhaps immune to being rewritten by time travelers. Tamun Shud, perhaps?


  38. Alan
    December 29, 2014 @ 10:43 pm

    I also disliked the scene where the Dalek begged River for mercy. I don't have a problem with a weakened Dalek being afraid of River Song and understanding that among all the Doctor's "associates," she is the one most likely to have both the means and character to kill a Dalek. I just have a problem with it begging for mercy, because to me, it undermines one of the most iconic moments in Dalek history — when the head Dalek coldly informs Davros that it has no understanding of the word "pity" because it was never programmed into their vocabulary banks.

    Also, in retrospect, the TARDIS explosion bugs me because I am an anorak and in hindsight it is a serious plothole. Either the Silence did not realize that blowing up the TARDIS would destroy the entire universe (in which case they are incompetent) or they did … in which case they believed that the outcome of Gallifrey's return would be so bad that the total annihilation of the entire universe would be a preferable outcome which, frankly, seems extreme even for an insane religious movement.


  39. Alan
    December 29, 2014 @ 10:49 pm

    I got to see Sylvester McCoy deliver that speech at DragonCon a few years back. The crowd ate it up, but I didn't think it worked for him any better than it did for Smith. It didn't have either Seven's wry understated sarcasm or any of his righteous anger. Honestly, it felt like a Tennant speech. Or possibly Colin Baker if they added a few more 25-cent words.


  40. Daru
    December 29, 2014 @ 11:17 pm

    "That tone coinciding with the beautiful moment of everything snapping together around the “something old, something new” rhyme, is an emphatically well delivered catharsis."

    "But it’s not all of it. There is something else – something slightly ineffable that refuses to simply be explained. Something that, after all of this buildup, I have to admit that I simply cannot quite capture or depict. And I think that is because it is something that embraces two beautifully contradictory viewpoints."

    I think it's utterly perfect this story. Perfect also that the climactic scene is at a wedding, always making me tear up too, as we feel wedded to the show as Amy in her soul felt wedded to the story of the Doctor. But also as Jane mentions above, this is an alchemical wedding of the two viewpoints of the the story, the two types of story happening in that moment.

    "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." Perfect.


  41. Jarl
    December 30, 2014 @ 12:58 am

    The third option is they knew the Doctor would save the day and end the conflict, but they assumed he would be trapped on the other side of the Crack when it finally closed.

    That's definitely giving them way too much credit, but the choice literally being end the universe or the Next Great Time War, honestly I can see the logic behind ending the universe.


  42. Adam Riggio
    December 30, 2014 @ 2:09 am

    The plan for Series 6 was immaculate. You can tell from how well the complicated structure of the season's story fits together, at least when you're dealing with summaries of each episode that are four or five sentences long.

    As we will have seen when Phil examines the production background of Series 6, its major problems weren't in the plan itself, but in the execution. Moffat and the rest of his creative team were just overworked because they were producing Sherlock in such close proximity to Doctor Who, so couldn't put the necessary work in to polish the scripts to relative perfection, as in the previous season which they could prepare and even film concurrently with the broadcast of Tennant's Specials year.

    The season begins with an epic two-part adventure as a Doctor from the future is apparently killed by an unknown figure with whom River seems familiar. The Doctor's assassin is linked to the strange child in the astronaut suit who resembles River and who regenerates like a Time Lord at the end of the story. It also explicitly introduces the Silence, which was teased in the previous season through the catchphrase "Silence will fall" and the TARDIS-like ship from The Lodger (the fate of the ship mirrors the structure of the season, where we see it after wrecking before seeing the cause of the wreck, the TARDIS crew's rescue of Amy). The following several episodes include several brief moments where it seems that something is very wrong with Amy.

    We then discover, as an epilogue to a haunting story of human duplicates in a gothic castle retrofitted into a refinery, that Amy has been a duplicate herself since the second episode. Rescuing her results in an apparent confrontation with the Silence, though its leader Mme Kovarian escapes with Amy's daughter, who is revealed to have been the mystery child from the premiere and River.

    The Doctor sets out to track the child River while the Pond family gets to know each other properly at last. But he's only able to find her once she's a young adult, when the form into which she regenerated at the end of Day of the Moon had been Amy and Rory's close childhood friend. This unstable young girl commandeers the TARDIS and, Kovarian's programming activated by her latest regeneration in the Doctor's presence, tries to kill him and rampages through WWII-era Berlin. But she's psychologically healed with the help of the TARDIS and her mother Amy, and gives up the rest of her regenerations to save the Doctor, to make up somehow for what she did under Kovarian's conditioning.

    But the Doctor has still learned of his own death at River's hands at Lake Silencio, and spends the rest of the season facing up to this inevitability. His knowledge of his own future pre-determines the events. So he eventually says goodbye to Amy and Rory, and does one last round of his old friends. Despite a last moment of pique, he accepts the inevitable. But River, kidnapped from her university and forced into the astronaut suit, must act as history determines. Except she doesn't, breaking history to find another way. The Doctor, meanwhile, has figured out his own way to cheat history, and they marry happily at last. River agrees to live out her prison sentence for his murder to help maintain the lie of his death, while they periodically adventure together and her parents Amy and Rory are the only ones who also know the whole truth.

    Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?


  43. Richard Pugree
    December 30, 2014 @ 2:19 am

    But the Kovarian faction – the breakaway group responsible for all the River stuff, but not the ones at Trenzalore – are supposed to be pretty flat out bonkers aren't they? They're fundamentalists.


  44. Richard Pugree
    December 30, 2014 @ 2:38 am

    I'd never heard of the Taman Shud case, and just went on a little wikipedia adventure. Having come to it from here with my Doctor Who hat on (when isn't it?), I was giddily excited by this sentence:

    "Victorian detectives disproved all the claims and said that "other investigations" indicated it was unlikely that he was a Victorian."

    Until I realized they meant detectives from Victoria, Aust. and not the Paternoster gang…


  45. Lewis Christian
    December 30, 2014 @ 3:20 am

    I recall the "hanging on to the TARDIS" scene at the top of The Eleventh Hour was a very last minute decision, to help bridge the gap between eras. When The Big Bang rolls around, it's a bit of a shame when you look at it because, if you were to take that 'bridge' away, the last episode's beginning would directly mirror the opening episode's beginning.


  46. Jarl
    December 30, 2014 @ 4:05 am

    Torchwood conducted an investigation and concluded they could neither have sex with him nor use him for drugs. Furthermore, he had a tangential at best connection to the Tenth Doctor, and therefore was irrelevant to their charter.


  47. BerserkRL
    December 30, 2014 @ 4:12 am

    Gilligan's Island, Lost, Star Trek: Voyager, The Incredible Hulk, Battlestar Galactica … it's not uncommon for stories to be about people who are trying to undo the premise of the story.


  48. BerserkRL
    December 30, 2014 @ 4:18 am

    Of course Moffat uses the Time Loop in "Blink" and "Space/Time" too.


  49. Aylwin
    December 30, 2014 @ 5:48 am

    Indeed – really, it applies to any ongoing story underpinned by a theoretically soluble problem, whether that be toppling the evil empire, finding a way home from this crazy Technicolor country/galaxy/time period, escaping the trapped life of a British sitcom character or whatever. Holy Grails and one-armed men can be very elusive.


  50. Aylwin
    December 30, 2014 @ 5:57 am

    Hey, now that we know the order of the River posts, does it match anyone's predictions from way back when (and hence perhaps confirm their rationale)?


  51. Nick Smale
    December 30, 2014 @ 6:53 am

    Surely the speech is there to fulfil River's "prophesy" in Forest of The Dead? When she says "I've seen whole armies turn and run away" it's the events at Stonehenge that she's thinking back on.


  52. elvwood
    December 30, 2014 @ 6:54 am

    I loved Pandorica – well, except for the Doctor's big speech, but now it's been pointed out that this is a callback to the one in The Eleventh Hour which is then undercut, even that improves – but most of The Big Bang left me cold. Much as I found with Midnight, I was sitting there admiring how it was all put together, kept totally separate from the action. It was a neat puzzle-box that engaged my analytical brain when I was looking for something to engage my emotions. I have found this each time on re-watch too.

    It all changes once we actually get to "Big Bang II", though – the Doctor's bedside conversation with Amelia brings me back. And then there's the wedding – which is pretty close to perfect.

    So, I can't feel for it the same way as Phil, but still prefer it to most or all of RTD's finales (which are flawed in different ways) – and the mere knowledge that it brought us the TARDIS Eruditorum gives it a new, warm glow. I think I'm going to enjoy it that little bit more next time I rewatch.


  53. Katherine Sas
    December 30, 2014 @ 7:31 am

    Beautiful post for a beautiful story. The fact that you've said all or most of what you wanted to say by the time you got to this story only proves what a success TARDIS Eruditorum has been. Congratulations! I can't believe we're winding down.


  54. David Anderson
    December 30, 2014 @ 7:40 am

    I think all of the modern examples above did eventually resolve. Also, I think in each case there's a body of opinion that they outstayed their welcome.
    It's easier to keep the kind of story going with a merely episodic structure, in which nobody ever refers to the fact that David Banner was in a different small town last week and almost succeeded in curing himself in a different way.


  55. encyclops
    December 30, 2014 @ 8:09 am

    I'd agree that after a certain point, if you don't want to end the story, you need to find a way to come to terms with the status quo or take it in a different direction. Moore's move makes a lot of sense in that light.


  56. Nyq Only
    December 30, 2014 @ 9:47 am

    I thought that we'd had Day of the Doctor already – we had but it was a 'Time Can Be Written" entry rather than a standard entry.


  57. Nyq Only
    December 30, 2014 @ 10:05 am

    I don't think so. This is the order (I think) with correct order first then the order they appeared in and the relevant Clara disguise 🙂

    ## replace Order Clara Disguise
    1 Silence in the Library The Name of the Doctor River Song
    2 Time of Angels The Time of the Doctor Number 2
    3 The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang A Good Man Goes to War Restoration field
    4 The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon The Wedding of River Song Empty room
    5 A Good Man Goes to War Lets Kill Hitler duplicate of Amy Pond's infant daughter made out of synthetic flesh
    6 Lets kill Hitler The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon Swastika
    7 The Wedding of River Song The Angels Take Manhattan Frankly alarming haircut
    8 The Angels Take Manhattan The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone (a new caption joke)
    9 The Name of the Doctor The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang (TARDIS Erootitorum)
    10 The Time of the Doctor Silence in the Library (TBA)


  58. Nyq Only
    December 30, 2014 @ 10:17 am

    Also I think Eric Gimlin's first guess was close http://www.philipsandifer.com/2014/04/saturday-waffling-april-12th-2014.html


  59. ScarvesandCelery
    December 30, 2014 @ 12:55 pm

    For all its flaws, it was wonderful


  60. ScarvesandCelery
    December 30, 2014 @ 1:12 pm

    The reasoning for the Nine's episode choice made sense, really – the stories chosen were all 90 minutes, considered "Classics" (even if I didn't approve of some of the choices, they've at least gained that reputation) – but were also nice template episodes for that Doctor's era. The choice that leaps out, is of course, "The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances", but it probably doesn't make sense to use a story by the current showrunner when introducing a Doctor written by the previous showrunner. Therefore, we're left with "Bad Wolf/ Parting of the Ways" (I dearly love AOL/ WW3, but it's not a story that's ideal for showing someone what makes the Ninth Doctor's era great). Obviously, a regeneration story is flawed for the purposes of introducing a Doctor to people, but process of elimination, really.


  61. ScarvesandCelery
    December 30, 2014 @ 1:17 pm

    That's actually genius. Far better than my Garbled "Multiple Lodger TARDISes placed strategically around the Earth during different points the planet's history are all activated at the same time." It throws up a whole bunch of new questions, but who cares? It's awesome


  62. Robot Devil
    December 30, 2014 @ 4:44 pm

    The speech reminded me of John Constantine's speech in Neil Gaiman's Books of Magic, when he bluffs his way out of a room full of supernatural villians with just his reputation:

    Zatanna: This boy is under my protection. Anyone who wishes to hurt him must first reckon with me.
    Tannarak: My dear Zatanna. Face facts — there's one of you, and over a hundred of us. The child is history.
    John Constantine: The boy's mine. And in thirty seconds, me, and him, and the witch, are going to walk out of here. You know who I am. Or you ought to. You know my reputation. Now… does anyone here really want to start something?
    Zatanna: John, you don't have any power to speak of. Any one of them could have torn you to shreds. But they… were scared of you. I don't understand what happened back there.


  63. encyclops
    December 30, 2014 @ 9:08 pm

    It's interesting, isn't it, how much New Who's conception of the Doctor shares with Constantine. In addition to the "look me up" speeches, there's also that ongoing accusation that the Doctor puts everyone around him in danger all the time. And of course the long coat.


  64. Scurra
    December 31, 2014 @ 12:14 am

    Well I went a step further – I always assumed that the Silence only came into existence because the Doctor "reset" the Universe – they weren't in the old one. In other words, they created an even larger-scale version of the Pandorica resolution – they couldn't exist until they caused the problem for which the solution would have the side-effect that they come into existence…


  65. Brent Holmes
    January 3, 2015 @ 4:47 pm

    Philip, thank you for your passion and insight into Doctor Who. While I have problems with the glib resolutions to some stories in the Moffat era (I got out of the inescapable Pandorica by escaping to help myself properly escape) the grandeur, humanity and narrative complexity are only laudable. Companions as equals or even superiors, the equal ease with which he uses the past to inform the future (the Crack is the Time Lords giving the Doctor a fresh set of downs) and the future to inform the past (the 39 minute mark of The Big Bang and how it ties into the 19 minute mark of Flesh and Stone; he does wear the jacket in both episodes, perhaps as a reference to a book jacket binding a narrative?) Looking forward to more great insights from you.


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