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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. Sean Case
    December 16, 2013 @ 12:42 am

    All the writing seems to say BAD WOLF because the TARDIS is panicking and using its translation facility to warn them and us that Rose is returning.

    I wonder what Sexy makes of Rose, the woman who ripped her apart with heavy machinery and nearly killed her Time Lord.


  2. Spacewarp
    December 16, 2013 @ 1:24 am

    Speaking as an Englishman, the idea that we would descend into fascism isn't that far from the truth. The UK is never really more than a heartbeat from fascism, much as the US may like to see us as either panty-waisted liberals, or mother country of the Free. George Orwell understood this perfectly, and Nineteen Eighty Four is a perfect extrapolation of Britain in 1948.

    We would ghetto-ise and imprison our immigrants (we did it in the 1940s), and we will demonise our minorities, as we did with the Blacks during the 60s, the Irish during the 70s, the Argentinians during the 80s, and we are starting to do with the Muslims and the Eastern Europeans nowadays.

    Phil's correct that this plays like a dry run for "Children of Earth", but it has even more resonance with "Miracle Day", and shows that Davies does understand Britain and the British people here. He knows that although individuals are capable of the most heroic and selfless acts, the human race as a whole is capable of the most despicable.


  3. Gareth Rees
    December 16, 2013 @ 1:45 am

    There are some beautiful touches in this episode. Rocco's relentless cheerfulness in the face of privation seems irritating when we meet him for the first time, but then full of pathos when he and his family are taken away. Donna tries (and fails) to get a job with the army, despite having seen what they are becoming, because what else can she do?

    (There are some minor production missteps. The time beetle model is a disappointment when revealed. It could have been much nastier, or at least shot to be more menacing. And there's a too obvious case of shooting summer-for-winter when they are watching the mushroom cloud on Christmas day, and all the trees have leaves.)

    Davies' use of world-impacting more-or-less contemporary events, without much resort to the reset button, was a major innovation for the program, and one that's been pretty much abandoned by Moffat. The only story in series 5–7 with a contemporary setting but no form of plausible deniability or reset button is The Power of Three. I suspect that this is a consequence of caring about continuity. Davies clearly cares about drama and spectacle much more than he cares about continuity, and so he's happy to just keep throwing in new stuff, taking it for granted that the audience is sophisticated enough to understand that Doctor Who isn't a documentary, and so it doesn't matter that London keeps getting invaded by aliens in the most public of ways, but nothing really seems to change as a consequence. Whereas Moffat seems to worry at some level that there might be someone who is confused by this, hence the multiple reset buttons. (I'm with Davies here—if you're a sophisticated enough viewer to follow the "explanation", say, that the giant cyberman from 1851 was erased by the cracks in time and that's why no-one seems to remember it, then surely you were sophisticated enough not to need it in the first place?)


  4. Nick
    December 16, 2013 @ 1:50 am

    I was hoping that this would be one of the experimental posts, with Phil writing about the series that might have happened with Penny instead of Donna (or the world where Who was cancelled after The Runaway Bride).

    I don't think Donna's ignorance of what's really happening in the labour camps scene is meant to imply she's thick, though – the way I see it, the country's in a complete mess, no one really knows who the Government is anymore and there's likely little or no functioning national media after London's been destroyed. I think the implication is that she's too busy trying to stay alive to notice everything that's going on, rather than old-Donna's ignorance of everything around her.


  5. dm
    December 16, 2013 @ 1:55 am

    I have to agree. I've only lived in London a year, but it's difficult not to detect a barely-hidden desire for fascism coming from a lot of people here, you can even hear it on the news and on opinion programs like Free Speech, with ultra-conservative anti-immigration views being presented as part of the colourful cultural make up of the UK. It's a disturbing trend that has taken over my homeland of Australia as well. Similarly, albeit indirectly, it reminds me of Orwell, via Bowie's Big Brother; a sense that people want a strong, morally culpable fascist leader to negate their responsibility in doing horrible, racist, xenophobic things.


  6. Jenda
    December 16, 2013 @ 1:55 am

    I'm surprised you had nothing to say about the sinophobic Evil Planet China.


  7. John Voorhees
    December 16, 2013 @ 1:59 am

    Sean, this is so clearly the answer that I can't believe it never occurred to me. Thank you!


  8. dm
    December 16, 2013 @ 1:59 am

    This is our Donna? Neighbor dragged off to death in a labor camp, well, keep calm and carry on, but when there’s a sci-fi plot like “the stars are going out” it’s time to go get involved?

    I'm not convinced, but this could surely be read as affirming Donna's faith in humanity. She's sure these problems can be fixed from within, that the human race can't go on acting like this, that a human solution is preferable to a science fiction one. It's only when the stars go out, that she sees the scale of what's wrong with the universe, that a science fiction solution is necessary- until then it wasn't a science fiction problem.

    Again, I'm not entirely convinced, this theory doesn't really seem to be supported by the episode, but I'm enough of a Davies and Donna fanboy that I'm determined to make this work.


  9. Daibhid C
    December 16, 2013 @ 2:01 am

    Regarding Rose's mythic status preventing her from ever being "random previous companion", I think it's significent that when Moffatt brought Billie Piper back, he decided to come up with a way of having her play the powerful, mysterious Bad Wolf without being Rose Tyler.


  10. Alan
    December 16, 2013 @ 2:57 am

    At this point, I genuinely believe a majority of Republicans would prefer a fascist dictatorship to a Democratic president.


    • David Moran
      October 4, 2018 @ 11:43 pm

      You were correct. Alas.

      President grabs women by the (cough cough) ? So what ?

      His Supreme Court nominee may have raped a woman? Meh…

      He took money and assistance from Putin ? Part of the democratic ( small d) process


  11. Alan
    December 16, 2013 @ 3:03 am

    Planet China didn't seem very evil. It just had that one evil fortune teller (played by an actress who was born in Zimbabwe).


  12. Alan
    December 16, 2013 @ 3:04 am

    And I a so, so glad he did.


  13. Lewis Christian
    December 16, 2013 @ 3:18 am

    "I was hoping that this would be one of the experimental posts, with Phil writing about the series that might have happened with Penny instead of Donna (or the world where Who was cancelled after The Runaway Bride)."

    That would've been interesting!


  14. Lewis Christian
    December 16, 2013 @ 3:20 am

    I wonder if you'll be digging into the idea of the reality bomb/stars going out, or whether it'll be background context. Because, ultimately, this is fantasy and doesn't make a jot of sense. It always bothered me: so in Rose's world, 3 years ahead, stars are going out… implies the reality bomb has gone off. But then surely the whole idea is the reality bomb wipes out every timeline, every universe, every reality, unable to be stopped. Yet it clearly is stopped by the Doctor later. Uh?


  15. Gareth Rees
    December 16, 2013 @ 3:28 am

    I thought it was ugly and disappointing. Ugly because Doctor Who keeps drawing on sinophobic stereotypes when it should know better. Disappointing since so very few actors with east Asian backgrounds have had decent parts in new Who. There was Naoko Mori, of course, but who else? (In this 2008 interview Mori compared the casting situation in the US vs the UK: "In the United States it's normal to see Asian and Hispanic actors. I've been very fortunate to play parts that are not written specifically for Asians. In the UK there is a bit of an island mentality; we don't have a lot of black people or yellow people and other races (on the television).")


  16. Seeing_I
    December 16, 2013 @ 4:42 am

    That's exactly what I thought as well. It's of a piece with the TARDIS' oddly elliptical, symbolic, and mostly unhelpful warning signals which go back to "Edge of Destruction"

    Wait, is the possessive TARDIS' or TARDIS's?


  17. Seeing_I
    December 16, 2013 @ 4:50 am

    I honestly really loved this episode. I thought it was a brave high-wire act that never should have worked and mostly did, and it was amazing to see RTD tackle the idea of what might happen if all these crazy, high-concept sci-fi conceits were not simply averted or hand-waved away, but actually fulfilled their premises. And it's pretty effin' grim. Even the Adipose kill millions, and those comedy Judoon murder our Sarah Jane and her gang. And yet somehow the most devastating thing is that close-up of Sylvia, devoid of affect, telling Donna she's a failure. No wonder she's willing to kill herself in order to escape back to the safety of Doctor Who! A taste of a quasi real-world context where there's no magical mad man with a box to save us all is just too awful to contemplate – thus explicating RTD's theory on why we need stories and religion and songs to keep us from looking too hard into the darkness. I know some people who count this episode as the biggest waste for 45 minutes RTD ever perpetrated, but personally I feel it's one of his finest moments.


  18. Seeing_I
    December 16, 2013 @ 4:53 am

    Looked like a sinophillic planet to me – colorful and crowded and full of life, where Donna and the Doctor seemed to be having a whale of a time. I mean, why shouldn't a colony planet founded by Chinese astronauts end up like a futuristic Shanghai? This is a fictional universe that includes Starship UK and things like that.


  19. Prole Hole
    December 16, 2013 @ 5:05 am

    Yea I'm with you on thinking that Donna's not being think when she doesn't reailze that people are being shipped off to camps – in fact I think it's telling that the people who do realize it are all older (her mother, Bernard "Greatest Living Human" Cribbins), positing it more as ignorance than stupidity. And also, I would agree, that there's just so much going on it possibly doesn't even occur to her what might be under her nose, which is going back to the "evil flourishes when men of good conscience do nothing" approach that many believe is how fascism would assert itself in the UK.


  20. jane
    December 16, 2013 @ 5:07 am

    TARDIS's. The only time the additional 's' isn't adding is when it's a plural noun ending in 's' — like, the Doctors' plan was teach the sonic screwdriver how to do wood.


  21. jane
    December 16, 2013 @ 5:13 am

    He also foreshadowed the stars going out in The Library — not only does the Library exert constant influence on the current run, it helped shape the Series Four finale.


  22. jane
    December 16, 2013 @ 5:14 am

    Interesting that it's the Pompeii set, redressed.


  23. Gareth Rees
    December 16, 2013 @ 5:43 am

    That would be a fair comment if the episode had included a cross-section of characters from the society. But all we got in Turn Left were extras, one greengrocer, and one stereotypical evil fortune teller. Stereotypes are a quick way of sketching setting and character, so they must be tempting when an episode has only a minute or so to establish a scene. But it is nicer when the temptation is avoided. (Compare the similar market scene in Fires of Pompeii where at least the greengrocer gets a joke.)


  24. jane
    December 16, 2013 @ 6:03 am

    Of I love me all those mirrors, but the alchemy of the Daleks isn't the only thing invoked by that particular circle. It's also reminiscent of the alchemy of Kinda, where a circle of mirrors is used to drive out the Mara and send it back to the dark places.

    It's also notable that the monster is in the form of a Beetle. The beetle was an important symbol in Egyptian mythology, representing rebirth and regeneration, a natural shorthand for the apparent rebirth of the sun every day. In their hieroglyphics, the beetle glyph was attached to words oriented around the concept of being — existence, becoming, change, happening, form or shape, and time. But this one is conflated with another Doctor Who monster — the Spiders of Metebelis 3, who latch onto your back, invisibly, Crowleyian monsters of Western esoterica.

    And then there's how all the symbolism in Turn Left reflects LOST. In this particular story, Rose tells Donna she's going to travel in time, but here it's conflated with death; in LOST, death releases the consciousness to travel in time. Of course there's all the mirrors, but there's also a convergence of Water and Light, presaging Jack's final encounter at the heart of the Island, the water standing for Faith (as well as being another kind of reflective surface) and the light representing divinity. Of course, the alternate reality of Turn Left is a "bad twin" or "mirror twin" of the past few seasons of Doctor Who (it's a left/right dichotomy that brings it about) and this too presages the twist of LOST's final season.

    So, Donna's trip becomes yet another way of expressing the way to divinity — her self sacrifice stands for the loss of ego, and the admonishment not to change anything in one's past (turning right instead of left essentially made Donna the cause of all her suffering) and to accept the choices one has made signals the way towards spiritual enlightenment.

    Because this is mythology, I think it behooves us to interpret Donna's mother as standing for Donna's underlying psychology, as well as more literally being the likely source it. Of course the moment that Donna changes occurs with her mother; Donna's character arc is all about overcoming that persistent source of doubt and self-hatred; giving into that voice leads to that voice completely renouncing her.

    Which makes it very interesting to see how Sylvia acts towards Donna at the end of the finale. The relationship has changed, and Donna's confidence is now real, not a facade. Her memories will be lost (heh, memory again) but her development is retained, and indeed the adventures she had with Doctor still reside deep in her subconscious — which where all mythology lodges itself.


  25. elvwood
    December 16, 2013 @ 6:21 am

    Seeing_I, I agree entirely. I admired the cleverness of Midnight but couldn't engage with it; whereas, while I knew intellectually that Turn Left was just as much artifice, it still got to me. Particularly that scene with Sylvia.

    Philip's right that the way they handled the stars going out was a misstep; and yes, Gareth, the beetle looked rubbish (didn't notice the trees). But these weren't enough to damage it for me. Just wonderful.


  26. Stuart Ian Burns
    December 16, 2013 @ 6:57 am

    "It’s not the concentration camps that disturb Donna so much that she’ll sacrifice her life to stop it, it’s the stars going out?"

    I stumbled on this on first viewing on the many, many subsequent viewings because along with Blink this is one of nuWho's greatest achievements, I realised that if you watch the writing of that scene when Donna finally decides to go and see Rose — and notice it's her choice and Rose essentially waits for her to make that choice — and the performances, there's an element of acceptance from Donna that she's now willing to embrace the mythology and embrace the fact that whatever's happening on Earth is minor in the grand scheme of things and that whatever will happen, including her suicide, isn't just about saving the human race who are just doing what they always do, or the planet Earth, but the universe. Which is a whole different order of things.


  27. Gareth Rees
    December 16, 2013 @ 8:04 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  28. inkdestroyedmybrush
    December 16, 2013 @ 8:07 am

    you saved me from having to write this all out. This was my take on it as well. there is a moment that i believe that we all reach when the horrible things become too much and we move from the micro, the problems that we're having, to the macro, to seeing just how big the disaster is becoming. And at that moment, we gain some new insight. Its takes donna beyond just the horror of her everyday life (which is pretty frikkin' bad by that point) and moves us to, "OK, what do i need to do"?


  29. inkdestroyedmybrush
    December 16, 2013 @ 8:18 am

    Turn Left is,frankly, the level of dystopian that I one day expected the series to come up to, but to edge away from, which is why i believe that htey went away from the scary beetle on Donna's back. Like the more realistic spiders from the Pertwee's last episode, it was a level that they just didn't want to go to. Easier to back off from the implications of fascist Britian and not have Donna ridden by a horrible, gut wrenching bug. Save the gut wrenching for the rest of the country.

    Donna Noble becomes the perfect cahracter for the dystopian future however, since she's the companion that wouldn't try to change the world for the better. We know that Sarah Jane smith would, but Donna (the opposite of) Noble wouldn't, as she's patently oblivious to much of what goes on outside of her personal failures. We can't stomach the idea of SJS not trying to do the right thing, but when Donna doesn't, we become the surrogate mother to her, reaching a point in the episode where WE'RE as disappointed in her for doing nothing, and practically begging her to become more than she is. Accept the Noble hero role, for all of us. Rose finally did, becoming more than the shop girl, SJS did, becoming more than the journalist. Rose is there to point out Donna's failure to become more once she entered the orbit of the Doctor Who show. the mirrors are not just a nice call back to the alchemy of Troughton's Daleks, but to holding Donna's face up to herself. See yourself for who you are; know theyself.

    Had Hinchcliffe had the time, this is what he would have put together for Tom Baker to show SJS in Pyramids of Mars. Once all life could be destroyed, it comes to great men and women to make any sacrifice necessary to do soemthing, anything.

    There is a relentlessness to Turn Left that is hard to watch, but is necessary, perhaps cautionary. Davies is holding a mirror not just up to Donna, but to his adudience, and they shouldn't like what they see. After all, its being paid for by their license money.


  30. Nyq Only
    December 16, 2013 @ 8:26 am

    "Neighbor dragged off to death in a labor camp, well, keep calm and carry on, but when there’s a sci-fi plot like “the stars are going out” it’s time to go get involved?"

    Hardly a mistep – as horrible as labour camps are they literally aren't the end of the universe. And Donna isn't being thick she is being oblivious and that is the point of the creeping fascism – the obliviousness of the middle-classes to the evil of such things [e.g. Australia's treatment of asylum seekers who arrive by boat]. If only bad people ever went along with such things they wouldn't happen.


  31. Iain Coleman
    December 16, 2013 @ 8:29 am

    I didn't notice the trees, but the fact that the blast wave from the explosion seems to arrive at the Noble's hotel only about a second after the impact was always a bit jarring.


  32. Nyq Only
    December 16, 2013 @ 8:32 am

    Yes. Donna sans the Doctor is a good person with narrow horizons – so she seems to be only shallow and self centered. Her view of the world is constrained. With the Doctor she retains her capacity to see the immediate and personal (a family in Pompeii, Miss Evangelista) but as part of a bigger picture.
    In turn left she becomes big-picture Donna also when the horrors become too much and via the mentoring of Rose.


  33. Seeing_I
    December 16, 2013 @ 9:08 am

    Thanks Jane. And, oh yeah, does that mean that going forward, the sonic will work on wood?


  34. Seeing_I
    December 16, 2013 @ 9:14 am

    Could this be a case where RTD trusts the audience to be smart enough to get that one evil fortuneteller stereotype does not an evil Chinee planet make?


  35. jane
    December 16, 2013 @ 9:23 am

    The sonic will work on that particular wood door in the Tower of London.


  36. euryale000
    December 16, 2013 @ 9:41 am

    Hmmm, I'm totally with Moffat on this one. I find the Doctor way more interesting when he operates on the fringes of our world than when he becomes a central figure with sort of celebrity status. That changes him from being a character (which is interesting) to an icon (which is boring). I mean, I'm also pretty against reading the Doctor as a hero. It limits him, hobbles the agency of the other characters, and leads to damsels in distress, messianic hyperbole, and not having to come up with an ending more clever than "everything is fine because magic". I watched with glee in early season 5 as Moffat went around ripping all of the stupid pages out of RTD's playbook. (God, that mecha-cyberman. Kill it with fire and wipe everyone's memories so that we may never speak of it again.)

    Also, the more lasting impact that the events of episodes of Doctor Who have on the world in which those episodes take place, the more that world diverges from ours which lessens its ability to function on that material social progress level.


  37. Anton B
    December 16, 2013 @ 10:22 am

    The question that continues to nag me about Turn Left is – where is it supposed to be taking place? If it is a parallel time-line like the Lumick Cybus Industries Earth that Rose lives on with her parents (and later handy Doctor) then I believe it was established that these parallels have no parallel Doctor in them. I suppose they might have a Gallifrey but let's leave that for a moment. If that is the case then who exactly is the Doctor that is killed by the Racnoss in this reality? I think what I'm asking is – is the Doctor unique in the multiverse or are there parallel Time Lords and Doctors in each alternate universe and/or time-line? Could we then have a story where the Doctor meets an alternate version of himself from a parallel time-line? I'd be intrigued to hear any thoughts on this.


  38. J Mairs
    December 16, 2013 @ 10:54 am

    Time can be rewritten?


  39. 5tephe
    December 16, 2013 @ 11:09 am

    Really euryale000? You don't like "everything is fine because magic" and you seem to be saying you prefer Moffat to Davies? I get what you are saying about iconic and mythic vs character driven, but that issue has never bothered me too much. Tom Baker was MY Doctor as a child though, so that probably goes some way toward explaining that.

    Personally, I think this episode is wonderful, like seeing_I and elvwood.


  40. Anton B
    December 16, 2013 @ 11:11 am

    Hmmm… I suppose so but if you can just have your death rewritten why do the Time Lords bother with regeneration? I think RTD was clever enough to not show the dead Doctor in Turn Left to be Tennant. We only see his hand fall from under the sheet on the gurney and drop the sonic. This could easily be an alternate Doctor. The alternative is that there is only one Gallifrey and one set of Time Lords who preside over the entire multiverse. Actually this . must be the case otherwise why all the fuss about destroying Gallifrey when there,are an infinite number of potential time-lines where Gallifrey survived. I prefer this explanation to an infinite number of parallel Doctors. Unless that's how Moffat's going to wriggle out of the thirteen incarnations conundrum.


  41. elvwood
    December 16, 2013 @ 11:12 am

    I agree with all of this, except that I can't see why it makes it not a misstep? The emotion in this story comes from the human scale, and bringing in the cosmic at the last minute kind of derails that. Not fatally in my opinion, but it does. And showing that Donna is on the level of "no worse than anybody else" when dealing with that human scale is pretty cutting.


  42. Matthew Blanchette
    December 16, 2013 @ 11:35 am

    No. Because RTD has never trusted his audience, and also because he has professed his unapologetic love for "The Talons of Weng-Chiang". That alone should explain everything.


  43. Matthew Blanchette
    December 16, 2013 @ 11:36 am

    Yes… methinks Russell The Davies did not think that one out. Quel dommage.


  44. Ross
    December 16, 2013 @ 11:54 am

    It's no different than all the stars exploding at the end of 'The Pandorica Opens' Or the whole of that season, really. Or the heartbeat in that episode. Or Bad Wolf. Because it destroys time itself, effects can precede the cause.


  45. Ross
    December 16, 2013 @ 11:58 am

    @jane: I have asked twelve grammar books and gotten thirteen answers on that point.

    (No one actually seems to be entirely sure whether or not to drop the S when making a singular noun that ends in S possessive. And this being grammar, history is no help since people pretty much made up whatever they liked until the late Victorian era.)


  46. Seeing_I
    December 16, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

    It was clearly Tennant – we saw the suit. I think the episode makes it clear that everything happens the way we saw it up until "The Runaway Bride," but he drowns along with the Racnoss. Everything up till that point, including the fight with the Cybermen at Canary Wharf, still happened.


  47. breyerii
    December 16, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

    "Interesting that it's the Pompeii set, redressed."

    You mean, they were filming this in Cinecittà, Rome?


  48. breyerii
    December 16, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

    Am I remembering it wrong, or did the Cybermen theme really play out when the Colasantos were being taken away?

    And if it was indeed, then maybe "labor camp" is actually an euphemism.


  49. Ross
    December 16, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

    The Doctor also says outright something like that the universe she was in was in was made by taking their universe and more-or-less ripping a chunk off around Donna and growing a new universe up around it.


  50. Adam Riggio
    December 16, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

    It always seemed to me that Republicans believe having a Democratic president is equivalent to fascist dictatorship, and that they would accept all the horrifying security and surveillance actions of the government as coming from a righteous morally upstanding place if they were done under a Republican presidency.


  51. BerserkRL
    December 16, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

    this being grammar, history is no help since people pretty much made up whatever they liked until the late Victorian era

    My workaround is to peek into the nearest alternative universe where historically there were rules, and to follow those. It works well except when the rules require flazzl'mokh'pauplutri'iia.


  52. BerserkRL
    December 16, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

    It always seemed to me that Republicans believe having a Democratic president is equivalent to fascist dictatorship

    They're right, since the Democratic party has always stood for fascism. But of course the Republican party has always stood for fascism too.


  53. BerserkRL
    December 16, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

    Whereas Moffat seems to worry at some level that there might be someone who is confused by this, hence the multiple reset buttons

    I don't think an aversion to inconsistency and incoherence in a narrative counts as "confusion" on the part of the audience.


  54. BerserkRL
    December 16, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

    In the United States it's normal to see Asian and Hispanic actors

    Well, by comparison with the u.k., sure. But it's rare (albeit less rare than it used to be) for them to get starring roles.


  55. BerserkRL
    December 16, 2013 @ 2:03 pm

    the Spiders of Metebelis 3, who latch onto your back, invisibly, Crowleyian monsters of Western esoterica

    Another comparison: the usually-invisble "keepers" that the Drakh attach to their human thralls in B5.


  56. jane
    December 16, 2013 @ 3:05 pm



  57. Bennett
    December 16, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

    " jane: Interesting that it's the Pompeii set, redressed.
    breyerii: You mean, they were filming this in Cinecittà, Rome? "

    I believe jane's referring to the inside of the fortune teller's shop*, which was a redressing of the Pompeii family home if memory serves me right.

    *Fortune tellery? What is the word for this?


  58. Galadriel
    December 16, 2013 @ 7:08 pm

    I agree with everyone who said Donna wasn't being thick–she honestly didn't believe that was even an option, so it didn't cross her radar until the people were being driven off. I mean, if we think about the amount of government gobblygook that goes on every day without raising an eyebrow, it's rational that something could be shoved under the rug, especially if they're trying to


  59. Elizabeth Sandifer
    December 16, 2013 @ 7:11 pm

    For me the plausibility isn't the issue – I mean, plausibility is a tough thing to read in a melodrama. To me the signifier is that Donna is shown to not understand what every other character in the scene does understand. That's the thing that communicates Donna as thick – that she's presented as behind all the other characters and the audience in realizing what's going on. In a show where knowledge is much more about understanding what kind of story you're in than about actual thought processes, that says a lot.


  60. Nyq Only
    December 16, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

    Well that is why it isn't a misstep. It is ordinary good people, like Donna (nice people, honest people) who go along with things that are just deeply wrong because of a failure in perspective. It takes a cosmic crisis to push Donna into a new view of the world – just as in the real timeline it took the Doctor, a lying boyfriend and an ancient evil spider monster to do so.
    The story of fascism isn't people suddenly realizing that labour camps are fundamentally wrong or that the erosion of liberty is evil. It takes either a crisis or a long unraveling.
    People ring fence the people they know as exceptions (the racist who is perfectly nice to their neighbor of another color because somehow they don't count, the homophobe who thinks all gays are evil except the ones they know).
    I'll go back to the example I mentioned earlier – the mandatory detention of asylum seekers who arrive by boat to Australia. The lots of perfectly nice, even progressive Australians who go along with it as a policy.
    Donna undergoes a transcendent crisis. She is transformed whilst still being the same person she was – and this happens because she perceives a new scale of events.


  61. Nyq Only
    December 16, 2013 @ 9:38 pm

    Well Wilf seems to be only making the connection there and then – and this is in the context of all the people in the scene already having gone through government mandated mass relocations.


  62. Daru
    December 17, 2013 @ 12:16 am

    "All the writing seems to say BAD WOLF because the TARDIS is panicking and using its translation facility to warn them and us that Rose is returning."

    Yeah agreed Sean.


  63. Daru
    December 17, 2013 @ 12:30 am

    Yes I agree – for me it never seemed that she was being portrayed as thick, or even a shallow version of a Catherine Tate Show character. To me she did in a lot ways feel like a pretty straight forward person – albeit with their vision skewed and blinkered by their need to survive on a very simple level. And I don't even mean surviving the disasters, but before all of that – she reminds me of some people I know (British – I live in Scotland) who drive themselves so hard that they pay little attention to the world around them. In quite a desperate way they put work at the foreground of their mind and seem to link their identity to it.

    Donna herself says that she is no one, not important and just a temp from Chiswick. How can she have an effect? Well she can, and we all can, that's what the story says to me. Success can be great, work can be really fulfilling, but if we expend ourselves at the risk of ignoring the world around around us, of course we will feel like we are no one.There is a bigger narrative to who we are.


  64. Mark Patterson
    December 17, 2013 @ 12:33 am

    I don't think that's untrue, but on the other hand I don't think an aversion to inconsistency has been especially compatible with being a fan of Doctor Who since at least 1964. As for incoherence…well, that's something largely, if not entirely, determined by the degree to which the audience is able to make sense of the narrative, and I think there's ample evidence that the vast majority of viewers considered it, if not 100% coherent at all times, close enough as to present few if any challenges to basic comprehension. As the sort of people who enjoy picking through the details and implications of every story, we tend to vastly overestimate the degree to which this sort of inconsistency presents any sort of problem for the actual comprehensiveness – or, more importantly, enjoyability – of the show.


  65. Daru
    December 17, 2013 @ 12:52 am

    Additionally, the Spider, the Crowleyian monster as with insects within the culture of animal totems are seen as untrustworthy or in the main as Tricksters (obvious one, Anansi). The Trickster is often a magical figure, opposing their culture or story and upending conventions around them. Sometimes powerful, sometimes a fool, a joker and often a destroyer. Often though working for and supporting the journey towards some kind of healing, a renewed sense of 'realness' or authenticity – painful to experience though.

    Thus the Time-Beetle comes direct from the 'Trickster's Brigade', an example of the narrative of another TV show, The Sarah Jane Adventures invading the Doctor/Donna narrative, which in turn is also bent by Rose/Bad Wolf AND another figure as we are about to see in the finale…


  66. deriksmith
    December 17, 2013 @ 10:36 am

    People complain that RTD uses magic endings, but Moffat does a lot more "and then it worked because timey whimey" than RTD did.
    And Moffat told 3 stories about the universe and time collapsing around a single point in the span of only 3 years, all as his season finales.

    There's a lot more loosey-goosey magic resets in Moffat's era than RTD's, he just dresses 'em up different.


  67. David Anderson
    December 17, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

    It may be just a personal reaction, but it feels to me that Moffat's better at setting things up so that it feels as though the story has all along been Quest for the Magic Reset Button. If you announce that there is a Magic Reset Button and the characters are setting out to find it that's a different matter from the characters stumbling across the magic reset button at the last minute.
    The closest Davies finale to Moffat is Season Three. The Archangel network's been set up, it turns out that Martha has a plan but not the plan we thought, and so on. (And then we get glowing shiny Doctor, which throws away all the hard work.)
    Also, the transition between Davies and Moffat is like that between Pertwee and Hinchcliffe. As Phil describes it in the book, Pertwee fights monsters in what passes for a realistic earthbound setting in this kind of genre (one can sum up the triumphs and problems with the Pertwee era by saying that the most realistic setting is the customs bureau in Carnival of Monsters); Baker fights monsters in the realm of ideas. Moffat's Doctor is closer to the Land of Fiction. Consider the difference between Tennant vs the Master and Smith vs the Dreamlord. So that remembering things back into existence feels more possible, because remembering an idea just is bringing it back into existence.


  68. Mark Patterson
    December 18, 2013 @ 3:07 am

    Last of the Time Lords really is just a few minor changes away from being phenomenal. Structurally the whole three-parter is brilliant, paying off plot strands set in motion as early as The Christmas Invasion, but then it all sort of falls apart catastrophically. But script-wise, it's so nearly there – there's little more needed than a few lines altered here or there, replacing the CGI Dobby Doctor with something less silly, or at least more convincing-looking, and rework the sequence where Tennant is restored to make it less…well, less sh*t. That would be enough to make it one of my favourite Who stories ever.


  69. liminal fruitbat
    December 18, 2013 @ 6:52 am

    I remember that as well.


  70. encyclops
    December 18, 2013 @ 8:08 am

    That's more or less my take as well, and very nicely put. Fascism is horrible but humanity has seen it come and go, and rarely if ever has it been reversed by nothing more than a timely suicide.


  71. Alan
    December 24, 2013 @ 7:25 pm

    One of the most astonishing moments of recent memory was reading about Glenn Beck comparing FDR and Henry Ford and claiming that FDR was the fascist instead of, you know, the guy who actually received an Iron Cross from Hitler.


  72. Alan
    December 24, 2013 @ 7:44 pm

    There is also the fact that Wilf remembers the Nazis in a way that Donna does not. Just like in the Avengers when the only human willing to stand up against Loki was the old man who was obviously coded as a concentration camp survivor standing up against the Teutonic villain and is then saved by the guy wrapped up in the American flag.


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