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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.

33 Comments

  1. Stuart Ian Burns
    September 15, 2014 @ 12:27 am

    Of course the reintroduction of Doctor Who Extra could mean the metronome skipping in the opposite direction and a lack of any minisodes in the first Capaldi boxed set.

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  2. Alex Antonijevic
    September 15, 2014 @ 12:51 am

    The mini episodes are good fun, and I'd definitely take a few minutes here and there of extra bits to the several hours of worth of Doctor Who Confidential. I've never rewatched any Confidential segments. But something like Good Night with a line like this…

    "The thing is, Amy, everyone's memory is a mess. Life is a mess. Everyone's got memories of a holiday they've never been on or a party they never went to, or met someone for the first time and felt like they've known them all their lives. Time is being rewritten all around us, every day. People think their memories are bad, but their memories are fine. The past is really like that."

    I could watch that over and over.

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  3. Daibhid C
    September 15, 2014 @ 3:14 am

    Pointlessly trivial pedantry time: The "prequels" really annoy me because they're not prequels. A prequel is something released after the the thing it's a prequel to but set before it. These are preludes; released and set before the thing. (Except the prequel to The Name of the Doctor, which was released before and set after, and is therefore the exact opposite of a prequel. A selude?)

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  4. Alex Antonijevic
    September 15, 2014 @ 3:54 am

    The thing that annoys me the most on the DVDs is that these scenes don't play if you choose "Play All" so there's a lot of messing around in the bonus features before watching an episode.

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  5. Lewis Christian
    September 15, 2014 @ 4:02 am

    In usual Moff-style, he's addressed this somewhere by saying "eh, whatever they're called, doesn't matter." What niggles me is that some 'prequels' have titles, and some don't. It makes it a little trickier for those of us who love to have titles for everything :p

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  6. jane
    September 15, 2014 @ 5:10 am

    There’s a turn here, though, in which Doctor Who becomes a show that is about the pleasures of the text. It exists to be taken apart and read closely, so much so that there is almost no point at which the phrase “reading too much into things” applies. It is a show that is about reading extremely and perversely into things. When every single sentence can be as pregnant with meaning as this structure allows, what can “reading too much into things” even possibly mean?

    Thank you!

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  7. Spacewarp
    September 15, 2014 @ 6:25 am

    @Daibhid. So you're the one who keeps pedantically hammering this point home on the forums!

    No I agree with you. "The Hobbit" is a prelude to "The Lord of the Rings" (which is a sequel to "The Hobbit")

    While we're on things that annoy us, "Demons Run 2 Days Later" and "Clarence and the Whispermen" were only released on Itunes in the US I believe, which made it the first Doctor Who content not covered by the Licence Fee, and therefore unavailable for UK viewers to download.

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  8. Gallifreyan_Immigrant
    September 15, 2014 @ 7:42 am

    Now, commentors, what's alchemical meaning of Moffat's beginning credit scenes? Hmm…the current credits show the TARDIS moving through space and time, without the "inside the TARDIS" theme of the Season 7b. Perhaps it means that we are no longer inside the adventure, as active participants. This new Doctor, and by extension the show, is keeping us at a distance. To the point where even we are being invited to "Listen", it's a trick: our participation isn't narratively rewarded–actually, it's rather anticlimactic. There is no monster. The viewer's rug, and sense of balance, has been pulled out from under them. You are no longer allowed inside the TARDIS.

    Except that, I lied just now . Because, in the new credits, the TARDIS isn't travelling through space. It's travelling through symbols: clocks, reflections, symbols that move around like mercury. And with that realization, we realize that it's not that we've been locked out of the TARDIS. We've actually been let inside: the symbols and reflections are a peek into the special world as the TARDIS sees it. (After all, a alchemical time machine probably wouldn't see time the way we do.) We were able to accept the Doctor with a new face, and in return the beginning credits promise us an even more magical set of adventures. It doesn't matter that there's no monster. And if that makes you a little nervous– afraid even–well, fear makes companions of us all.

    Wow. Guess you really can't read too much into things…I actually believe my own crazy theory now (I started the post as a joke)!

    Reply

  9. Gallifreyan_Immigrant
    September 15, 2014 @ 7:53 am

    Sorry that my grammar is horrible above–I'll proofread before commenting next time.

    Reply

  10. encyclops
    September 15, 2014 @ 8:02 am

    Moffat increasingly writes to be rewatched, especially when he’s doing narrative substitutions, in which case much of the first viewing of a story is wasted being taken in by the red herrings, and it’s not until a second viewing that it becomes possible to watch an episode on its own terms.

    Yes! This has happened to me with four out of four episodes of this season — maybe least with "Into the Dalek," and most with "Listen," as I commented last night. It's challenging to watch the episode twice (usually before I go to bed in the small hours Sunday morning) and write some kind of coherent review before allowing myself to read anyone else's reviews or comments, but it's absolutely necessary if I want to get anything like the full picture and get my thoughts out unswayed.

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  11. Scurra
    September 15, 2014 @ 9:36 am

    I think that Moffat was also consciously trying to point out the limitations of the tv schedule. In a world in which we no longer need to watch things when they go out, then the constraints of an arbitrary fixed length become more frustrating than not. Having the opportunity to play around with different sorts of lengths must have been a little bit liberating (kind of like being able to write short stories as well as novels.)

    On a separate but related note, I am increasingly of the opinion that 50 minutes is almost entirely the wrong length for an episode of Doctor Who. Yes, strictly speaking it's the same running time as two of the old episodes, but that's about all they would have in common. Indeed, the period of "classic" Who when they tried this length showed how much of a problem it actually is – you'd think someone might have noticed!

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  12. 5tephe
    September 15, 2014 @ 2:28 pm

    Oh, very nicely done Gallifreyan Immigrant!

    Only… Well my gripe with the new credits (and it's a tiny one, but one that niggles every time I watch them) is that the Roman Numerals in spirals, numbering from I to XII are a very specific cultural method of measuring time. Not Time Itself. I'd prefer something much more… symbolic.

    So, can you help me square that away? (I think you can…. Go on – invent something even wilder than above. It'll be fun.)

    Reply

  13. Pen Name Pending
    September 15, 2014 @ 2:35 pm

    This isn't going to stop books from having short "prequels" at the beginning, is it?

    I suppose the words are interchangeable nowadays.

    Reply

  14. 5tephe
    September 15, 2014 @ 2:36 pm

    As a busy dad, on the other side of the world from where this is broadcast (I just CAN'T get up at 4am for a TV show, not even my beloved Doctor Who) I didn't even know these things were being made and posted online when they were going up.

    Kind of wish I had, now. I've seen the odd one or two, but didn't experience them while I was watching the era they were relevant to. I sort of assumed they were just alternate promos.

    So I've just watched "Good Night", "Bad Night", "First Night", and "Last Night" in the half hour I had at my desk before everyone else got in at work. Awesome stuff. Hadn't seen any of them before, and they have just lifted my appreciation of the whole Smith era.

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  15. ferret
    September 15, 2014 @ 2:39 pm

    They are heaps of fun. I wonder what their budget was like? There is a terribly bad edit in "Bad Night" just between the Doctor saying "I've got the wrong fish" and "River, we've got the wrong fish!" but it's such a funny and well delivered moment they get away with it easily.

    I'm assuming they did the edit for the timing of the gag, but normally you'd expect a reshoot or retake, as there are no other jump-cuts like it in the short.

    It's also an interesting one in that it has one of those supposedly "Problematic Moffat" scenes where the Doctor treats Amy in a belittling way by calling for Rory when she is "having an emotion", and apparently they collude about taking turns dealing with her behind her back. But the look on Rory's face when the Doctor says "it's his turn" is enough to sell to me that Rory is not exactly down with this either, and it's more likely something our non-human Doctor spoke at Rory one day. But he knows he's been dropped right in anyway, regardless of whether he was actually complicit.

    Anyway, I meant to talk more about how humour can cover a bad edit than bring up a problematic scene I don't find problematic.

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  16. ferret
    September 15, 2014 @ 2:45 pm

    @5tephe while I recognised the I to XII are very specific to a clock face, I assume they have a double meaning in that Timelords lives come in cycles of 12, reminding us each week that our Doctor is starting afresh on his I to XII

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  17. encyclops
    September 15, 2014 @ 2:57 pm

    Are they? I've heard "preface," "foreword," "introduction," and "prologue," but I don't think I've ever heard of a book having a prequel in the same volume.

    Regarding Moffat's "prequels," time travel is tricky, isn't it? I suppose the main thing about them is that they're intended to be watched before the thing they're ostensibly a "prequel" to, no matter when the events in them actually occur.

    Reply

  18. Gallifreyan_Immigrant
    September 15, 2014 @ 7:11 pm

    Well, off the top of my head, the Roman Numerals allude to Marcus Aurelius, and Caecilius. I to XII are also associated with clock faces in general. Actually, old time faces–we don't use those type of clocks anymore…now we're all digital. The TARDIS is literally moving through old faces…and into a new face.

    Reply

  19. TheOncomingHurricane
    September 15, 2014 @ 8:04 pm

    Doubtful, given there's been a behind the scenes bit on most if not all episodes of the Series 7 boxset, which was usually the stuff that was available online. Despite that, there are 3 minisodes exclusive to the boxset, as well as several others that were otherwise available.

    Reply

  20. inkdestroyedmybrush
    September 15, 2014 @ 8:30 pm

    I have been, and will continue, to make the point about screen time used to tell a story and how its been changing under Moffat's Doctor Who, and these small slices of story and life, and tiny chapters of a time traveller's life. They help add to the number of screen minutes that Matt's Doctor had, and also add to the complexity of his life.

    For a Doctor who, esentially, is the first to have his entire tenure written completely differently from the prior 47 years of the show. While we, as the omnicient observers, have gotten used to following the time traveller as opposed to the audience identificiation figures, the fractured aspect of Smith's Doctor spins us into new narrative terrain so to speak, because we finally get to see what it might be like to live life out of linear order. And not just once, but continuiously through two + full seasons. And freed from "the monster of the week" (or really menace of the week), Moffat writes tiny brilliant emotional moments right next to the comedy and Smith blends them seamlessly (in the most multi-layered TARDIS set ever, a shame that it couldn't have been kept). Seriously, without having to stretch for 45 minutes, those things are great. I would love to have an option on the DVDs to insert them where they belong into the stream of tthe season.

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  21. TheOncomingHurricane
    September 15, 2014 @ 8:35 pm

    I honestly think these are truly beautiful bits of Doctor Who – especially Good Night and its line about how people's memories are ever-changing, but 'the past is really like that'. It has a particular emotional resonance with me at the moment, as I try to to come to terms with something I've only recently realised about myself, but was signposted going back a fair while in my life. Or at least appears to have been. The past is indeed really like that.

    Also 'He’s taking me to the Singing Towers of Darillium. He’s been promising for ages.' is one of the most effective Moffat era gut punches. It's up there with 'Where are my mummy and daddy? They said they wouldn't be long. Are they coming back?'

    Reply

  22. Anton B
    September 16, 2014 @ 12:16 am

    Twelve Doctors. Also who says nobody uses analogue clock faces anymore? My watch is analogue. There are three clocks in my house, all have analogue faces; the largest one has Roman numerals.

    “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western spiral arm of the galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this, at a distance of roughly ninety million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet, whose ape descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea"

    Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    Reply

  23. inkdestroyedmybrush
    September 16, 2014 @ 1:30 pm

    since Doctor who has become about the power of text, a better, slightly less annoyingly on-the-nose moment, rather than having robin hood talk about it to the Doctor is a bizarrely post-modernist way, is the ending of the Pandorica, which is as much a metaphor for us fans who kept the faith and kept Doctor Who in the world with books and comics and fan fiction and reruns. We birthed Doctor who back into the world again, as Moffat did by writing text during the wilderness years and it has been as much about the pleasure of being able to decode the text for us long timers as it has been sharing that with, finally, the entire world. it takes guts and brains to figure out how to create a series with meta text that doesn't turn into a horrible continuity morass

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  24. Chris
    September 16, 2014 @ 10:56 pm

    I love the 90-minute format of Sherlock, and sometimes I feel like Doctor Who could benefit from that as well. But then I saw "Deep Breath" and while I acknowledge it's a story that deserves more than 45 minutes to tell, I really feel there was 10-15 minutes of padding in it. I have the distinct feeling that it began life as a sensible hour-long special, but got stretched out only because it was going to be a cinema event and therefore needed to be feature length. If I were someone with loads of free time, I'd probably do a fan edit and make a version of "Deep Breath" that has room to breathe but doesn't hold it in too long.

    Reply

  25. Lewis Christian
    September 17, 2014 @ 4:38 am

    It's interesting that they don't seem to have bothered with "prequels" this year (not counting Deep Breath – but that one, with Strax's rundown of the Doctors [wait, didn't they do that last year? sigh]).

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  26. Lewis Christian
    September 17, 2014 @ 4:41 am

    Interestingly, I find most of the classic series two-parters to be some of the best.

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  27. Lewis Christian
    September 17, 2014 @ 4:42 am

    (The 2x25mins ones, I should clarify.)

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  28. Jack
    September 17, 2014 @ 6:04 am

    My single favorite moment of the Matt Smith era, he says belatedly, is the moment when Eleven realizes just what night it is, and where he's taking River. He doesn't say a word, and it lasts a second, but there is a cosmos of grief in the Doctor's face. Matt Smith could do more with a two second expression as the Doctor than some actors could do in a ten minute monologue.

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  29. Daru
    September 17, 2014 @ 11:00 pm

    "When every single sentence can be as pregnant with meaning as this structure allows, what can “reading too much into things” even possibly mean?"

    Yes at last !

    Reply

  30. Daru
    September 17, 2014 @ 11:37 pm

    I love these mini episodes, as that's what I feel they are, rather than other names that get argued over. Quite brilliant experimental storytelling that it helping the format break out of the constraints of watching things when they air and expanding the possibilities of storytelling structures beyond discrete episodes.

    There's an interesting interview with Steven Moffat called 'A Nerdy Chat with Steven Moffat' by Officiallynerdcubed which took place in his own home I think at the request of one of Moffat's sons. There is lots of good stuff but the part relevant to this essay is where he discusses his views on ratings and how television is transforming and the role of such mini episodes in this process.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeCM7LiThEs

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  31. BerserkRL
    September 19, 2014 @ 4:15 am

    I would love to have an option on the DVDs to insert them where they belong into the stream of tthe season

    It's actually not clear when "First Night" and "Last Night" take place. Presumably after "Wedding"; but during a period when Amy & Rory are still in the TARDIS, since the Doctor tells River her parents are asleep. So apparently not before "Asylum."

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  32. BerserkRL
    September 19, 2014 @ 4:19 am

    One of the best things about Space/Time is that it takes the Heinleinesque causal-loop paradox that Moffat has been playing with ever since "Blink" and turns it into the tightest possible causal loop ever: the ultimate self-parody.

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  33. BerserkRL
    September 19, 2014 @ 5:45 am

    Did I say ever since "Blink"? I meant ever since "Time Crash."

    Reply

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