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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.

66 Comments

  1. Christopher "Peaky" Brown
    October 20, 2014 @ 2:12 am

    Amen.

    Reply

  2. Scott
    October 20, 2014 @ 2:30 am

    Does anyone seriously buy the whole "The Doctor's as bad as the villains!" stuff anyway? I mean, sure, there's ethical criticisms to be made of the Doctor as a character, and maybe some of them have a point (I mean, it's practically built into the Master) but usually it just seems a tad too simplistic IMHO. Bad enough when it's mostly forgettable types like Kahler-Jex, but it really gets silly when it's Davros — i.e. a character who the show has repeatedly pointed out is an utterly bonkers evil faux-Nazi maniac with next to no moral credibility whatsoever over forty-odd-years — who we're supposed to take seriously when he tries to paint the Doctor as being exactly like him.

    It's one of the key things that tends to irritate me about the new series (as well as the whole "Doctor's utter self-loathing" thing, which could be dialed back a teeny bit as well).

    Reply

    • Kyle
      December 23, 2015 @ 5:35 am

      It’s ridiculous! It’s a trope that’s never been executed well. Good, even great writers like Russell T. Davies have fallen prey to the trap. No criticism the new series has managed to throw at the Doctor has ever been so substantial that it couldn’t be hand waved away with one sentence.

      Reply

  3. Lee Shelton
    October 20, 2014 @ 3:39 am

    I've always struggled to put my finger on why Series 7 seems quite as unsatisfying as it does and this is the best articulation I've seen yet as to why that might be – although, to be fair, most of the other critiques I've seen of this series don't seem interested in rising above the level of "worst series ever, Moffat is evil, etc, etc" (the Eruditorum comments section excepted of course and there have been tentative discussions of this series here). I always wondered if the series also suffered from being caught between the big ambitious and inventive series 6 arc and the build up to the anniversary. This series was always in danger of coming across on the one hand as an anti-climax with the River Song story mostly done and dusted, and on the other as time-serving while we waited for the 50th celebrations to come around. I wonder if this becomes particularly exposed in series 7b once the Ponds have left. Especially given the great stuff we've seen from Clara – via the writers and the now regular show-stealing performances from Jenna Coleman – in series 8, the "impossible girl" thread increasingly does seem like filler trying to get us from A to B with minimal fuss.

    Reply

  4. Heath
    October 20, 2014 @ 5:09 am

    I'm not going to argue any of the major points, and actually reiterate Phil's comment about this being very much an RTD style story, (which would have been a lot of fun with 10 and Donna, I'd offer).

    However I remember this one (at least the first half) as being hilarious. Indeed it is Matt Smith bringing his A game to an otherwise Ok plot, but the confusion at the beginning about being an alien doctor, the line about "no trespassing" being a suggestion "like dry-clean only", and even the horse scene crack me up to this day. This one starts off as a truly funny romp.

    Even the Susan/Jacob horse thing. I get the response that its gotten from many about the insensitivity to trans issues. However I love it because of the running season 7 joke that the Doctor speaks everything, inlcuding horse. And in the end, horses are not known for adhereing to strict gender norms, so I always chalked it up to run of the mill Who zaniness, and another opportunity for the Doctor to assert that he knows more than you.

    Reply

  5. Froborr
    October 20, 2014 @ 6:14 am

    From 2005 to 2013, yes, it made complete sense. The Doctor committed genocide. He judged the universe would be better off without two entire races of people, so he wiped them out. The question of whether he's any better than his villains was absolutely worth asking.

    Now that he never actually committed genocide, it's not much of a question, he is definitely better than the villains. But, you know, that's not a high bar to clear, so we move on to the more complex question of whether he is (or has ever been) a good man. (To which the answer is "eventually, yes, arguably, probably not, yes, no, arguably, probably, no, mostly, debatably, probably, ish.")

    Reply

  6. Alan
    October 20, 2014 @ 6:15 am

    Agreed. And the problem was exacerbated, IMO, by the fact that everyone not living under a rock at the time knew that the Ponds were leaving. However, Moffatt bafflingly decided not to do any kind of arc leading up to their departures in favor of a set of standalone adventures before an abrupt and somewhat arbitrary departure episode. All of which left me with the unmistakeable feeling that we were treading water for most of 7a.

    Reply

  7. Alan
    October 20, 2014 @ 6:21 am

    My main recollection of this story was that it just felt so damned boring. Which, coming after DoaS, an episode that existed solely so that Matt Smith could exclaim "Dinosaurs! On a Spaceship!", and before "The Power of Three" which was explicitly about an alien invasion so boring that humans stopped paying attention to it, was sort of the theme of Season 7a. Even Ben Browder, who was often electrifying in Farscape, was boring here, trapped as he is in his current status of "that guy who used to be in Farscape so we can slot him into the lantern-jawed leading role of any sci-fi show."

    Reply

  8. jane
    October 20, 2014 @ 6:26 am

    This is the second story directed by Saul Metzstein, and if there's one account on which to acquit Mercy, it's this. Even though the story is as bare and stale as Phil suggests, at least the direction is interesting.

    First, it's continuing with the reiterating of certain motifs that have been played with since at least Asylum. The flickering of lights, for example, but even more so the fact that Jex's spaceship is shaped like an Egg. That his vehicle becomes a place for self-sacrifice reminds of Oswin's self-sacrifice after her invocation of eggs. And of course there's lots of nods to Westerns — from the deployment of A-Frame shots to the final High Noon showdown.

    More interesting, I think, is the visual juxtaposition of the townspeople with the monster — that is, with Jex. And, curiously, for once this doesn't involve Amy, who's been the focus of "monstering" since The Pandorica. This time, it's Rory, but not just him — all the men in town take on Jex's appearance; all of them are implicated. If there's any justification to the lack of female casting in this story, it's to implicate men in a certain kind of machismo-driven revenge story.

    Not that Moffat hadn't already done that in A Good Man or anything.

    Another beat I'd like to point out — the significant resolution to the story. It isn't just that Jex immolates himself. It's how that suicide takes place, or rather, how it doesn't take place. If Isaac hadn't sacrificed himself at the midway point, Jex would have died at the hands of the Gunslinger. In the end, the Gunslinger doesn't get to participate in the violence — this, then, is what Isaac's sacrifice ultimately permits.

    One last thing that's interesting — Jex's voice ringing out throughout the town and countryside. It's almost like the voice of God, and indeed Jex played that role in his own war, though truly more the role of a Demiurge. The death of the creator-deity, then, is what ultimately brings peace to Mercy.

    Reply

  9. Lewis Christian
    October 20, 2014 @ 6:37 am

    This is just me projecting on to Moffat and the team but, looking at Series 7 as a whole, it seems to me that a lot is just treading water. It's as though nobody quite knows what to do in 2012 or 2013, prior to the anniversary. 7B feels more cohesive, imo, than 7A, but I don't feel it's any good. It feels like a string of episodes with a hollow mystery/arc and just there to throw various shout-outs to/for fans. 7A, as you say, is just a string of barely connected episodes. If I could redo those 5 eps, I'd have expanded the divorce aspect over maybe 2 or 3 episodes and go to town on a character arc for them. (And, personally, I would've had The Power of Three as their final hurrah. Manhattan, for me, just felt like an excuse to bring back the Angels and give the Ponds a sad death because eh. The Power of Three would've felt more satisfying as an 'endpoint' for 7A, imo. But that's probably a discussion for another time.

    Back to the original point, yeah, I do think 7A is treading water. I think it's strong, but ultimately a bit hollow. Maybe giving us Clara/Oswin from the off, for all of Series 7, no split, would've been a better option?

    Reply

  10. Lewis Christian
    October 20, 2014 @ 6:40 am

    There's also a theory which places A Town Called Mercy during the events of The Power of Three isn't there? Because Rory's phone charger in Henry VIII's room is mentioned in both episodes, or something.

    Reply

  11. Lee Shelton
    October 20, 2014 @ 6:50 am

    All that said, I wonder if we are seeing in series 7 an edging towards the sort of primarily character-based arc that we're seeing in series 8. There's the germ of an idea that series 7 might be following a story where the Doctor moves from sweeping in to throw people's lives in to chaos (Asylum of the Daleks, Power of Three), facing the consequence of that (Angels Take Manhattan), taking on Clara as a part-time companion who still lives her own life outside of the TARDIS and finally learning to settle down for thousands of years defending Trenzalore. But I don't think they really hit that theme hard enough. So I think there is almost an arc there but its hard to tell whether this was part of a plan or not as it isn't really articulated. I must confess I enjoyed series 7a more on a re-watch than I did originally but the series as a whole is definitely the weakest run of the Moffat era (which in the main I love, I should clarify).

    Reply

  12. Eric Gimlin
    October 20, 2014 @ 8:34 am

    This one played oddly for me in no small part because my brain felt the need to remind me "Damn, I miss Farscape" every 10 seconds or so…

    Reply

  13. Melissa Robertson
    October 20, 2014 @ 8:49 am

    I agree with you about the theme running through series 7. It could be applied to Eleven's era as a whole, but it's definitely strongest in series 7.

    I find 7a to be okay, but only if watched as standalones. I don't mind standalones, but after 6 series of arcs it was jarring. I personally subscribe to the theory that the rest of 7a takes place after Angels Take Manhattan, because then it just seems like the last couple that Eleven took with Amy and Rory, even though he knew he shouldn't, because he didn't want to lose them, which ties in nicely to the themes of series 6 (and, to an extent, series 7).

    I will forever love 7b, though, mostly because of Rings of Akhatan and Name of the Doctor. Also Bells of Saint John.

    Reply

  14. David Anderson
    October 20, 2014 @ 8:55 am

    I felt that the run up to the punchline of the Dry Clean Only joke was laboured. No doubt there were people watching for whom this was their first series of Doctor Who, and who were therefore unaware of the Doctor's attitude to Keep Out and No Entry signs. But I think they would have managed to grasp the point even if it were briefer.

    Reply

  15. David Anderson
    October 20, 2014 @ 8:57 am

    One of my few criticisms of The God Complex is that it also felt much like a holdover from the RTD-era's themes and concerns.

    Reply

  16. Nyq Only
    October 20, 2014 @ 9:07 am

    Yes, the Doctor can't help but be ethically dubious because of the effect he has on whole societies that he visits. The the government/power structures/villains he topples and disrupts are bad is a given but that only gets him as far into an ethical justifications as George Bush Jr versus Sadaam Hussein – actually worse because the Doctor doesn't hang around for the consequences.

    Reply

  17. Nyq Only
    October 20, 2014 @ 9:10 am

    Hmmm – an ex-soldier, a broken down cyborg, a dark Doctor? Shouldn't a Town Called Mercy be in the current series? 😉

    Reply

  18. Lewis Christian
    October 20, 2014 @ 9:16 am

    I'm not sure if it fits, but I quite like the notion that for the Doctor, Manhattan comes before 7A does. It's quite a neat idea. As for the standalones being jarring, I get the impression it was an extreme knee-jerk reaction to the fact Series 6 had been so arc heavy, and so here was a half-series without much arc at all.

    Reply

  19. Anton B
    October 20, 2014 @ 10:51 am

    Surely one of the subtexts of this story was pitching it as a kind of riposte to The Gunfighters? In effect, it's the answer to an argument that had actually long been laid to rest (well, certainly on this blog); that the one genreDoctor Who can't crash effectively is the Western. The solution it finds is to release it from its studio confines and film on location, in fact the, location of many real spaghetti Westerns. It's ironic then that, given that brief, it fails so spectacularly. I'd bet it'll be a long time before anyone attempts a 'Doctor Who and the Cowboys' story again. Which is a pity as I'd love to see Capaldi rock that Brett Maverick look again that he carried off so well in Mummy on the Orient Express. Perhaps a story set on a Mississippi riverboat Isn't out of the question. It could be a celebrity historical with Mark Twain. In fact I've got the perfect title. A River Song Ending

    Reply

  20. Christopher "Peaky" Brown
    October 20, 2014 @ 11:15 am

    The most disappointing thing about this one is that it could have been great, and indeed the comments here do a good job of illustrating that, especially the bit about how The Gunslinger was redeemed by not killing Jex. I really dislike the cop out ending though – I mean, if Jex hadn't blown himself up in an act of desperate writingahemheroic sacrifice, what would have happened? The Gunslinger and he would have continued their chase somewhere else, and it would have been the Doctor's fault.

    Reply

  21. Matthew Blanchette
    October 20, 2014 @ 11:27 am

    It was not pitched as a riposte to "The Gunfighters"; Moffat, following time-honoured and unquestioned fan dictum, specifically told Toby Whithouse to not watch that story.

    In the event, it might've been better if he had, don't you think?

    Reply

  22. encyclops
    October 20, 2014 @ 1:15 pm

    I liked series 7 just about as much as series 5 and a lot more than series 6, for what it's worth. Apart from this particular story, which I found appalling on just about every level, I enjoyed it immensely.

    Reply

  23. encyclops
    October 20, 2014 @ 1:19 pm

    Philip, I'm slightly shocked to see that you and I agree so thoroughly about this episode, both in general and in some of the details that bother us (e.g. Jex's exasperating characterization). Peaky's "Amen" really said it all (so here I am throwing useless words at it like a dunce).

    Reply

  24. Anton B
    October 20, 2014 @ 1:44 pm

    I wasn't suggesting it was literally 'pitched' rather that the comparison is inevitable. The fact that Moffat banned the writer from watching The Gunfighters to me kinda reinforces that.

    Reply

  25. Elizabeth Sandifer
    October 20, 2014 @ 1:57 pm

    Well, I mean, neither Moffat nor Gatiss are really people I'd expect to take the "the Gunfighters is an unrecognized classic" angle. Moffat's interest in the Hartnell era ends twenty-five minutes in, and Gatiss is the epitome of the conservative taste fan.

    I bet Whithouse would have enjoyed it, ironically.

    Reply

  26. TheSmilingStallionInn
    October 20, 2014 @ 2:34 pm

    Okay, Froborr, trying to figure out here–One is eventually, Two is yes, Three is arguably, Four is probably not, Five is yes, Six is no, Seven is arguably, 8 is probably, War Doctor is no, Nine is mostly, Ten is debatably, Eleven is probably, and Twelve is ish (right now). Okay, not sure about Four, although Six during his televised run may be a given, but I have yet to hear his audios.

    Reply

  27. TheSmilingStallionInn
    October 20, 2014 @ 2:38 pm

    Hmm, interesting. Another theory I've heard is that after the Ponds were taken back in time, the Doctor went back to see them–that the episodes between Asylum and Angels actually took place after the Doctor lost them.

    Reply

  28. jane
    October 20, 2014 @ 2:40 pm

    Doctor Who on a Mississippi riverboat better be invoking Herman Melville…

    Reply

  29. Matthew Blanchette
    October 20, 2014 @ 4:42 pm

    Or, at the very lease, Creedence Clearwater Revival.

    Reply

  30. dr.jimmy72296
    October 20, 2014 @ 9:23 pm

    I've never gotten the dislike for 7A. For me, it's the last time I consistently enjoyed and looked forward to the show. Everything since has been a disjointed mess. You have these moments of flawed brilliance (Name of the Doctor, Listen) sprinkled in among mildly entertaining crap (Day of the Doctor, Flatline, Nightmare in Silver) and downright unwatchable, completely irredeemable train wrecks (Time of the Doctor, The Caretaker, Kill the Moon).

    It was the last time that the show actually revolved around the Doctor as opposed to the least likeable companion since Mel. It was the last time Matt Smith played the Doctor instead of playing Matt Smith playing the Doctor as a one note slapstick joke.

    I get that the horse joke is offensive, and even worse, it's painfully unfunny, but it's nowhere near as off-putting as making the central premise of an entire 45 minute episode "Abortion is Murder."

    Reply

  31. Carey
    October 20, 2014 @ 11:10 pm

    I rather liked A Town Called Mercy myself, but I guess a lot of it has to do with whether you like westerns or not. The problem with the western genre is that it has already been massively deconstructed (arguably something that started with The Searchers, but definitely from Rio Bravo, Howard Hawks' reaction to High Noon) so, strictly speaking, it is a genre that Doctor who finds difficult to deform into a Doctor Who story. Having said that, Whithouse picks upon the same trick as Moffat himself does with that other well deconstructed genre, noir detectives and The Angels Take Manhattan, and has the genre distorted before he actually gets there, and then Whithouse goes on to mirror that story (which was already mirroring cliches from westerns) with the Doctor's recent backstory.

    So we get the comedy of the Doctor being out of place in the old west, but we also get the subversion of the western genre in which the day is won not with a shoot out, but with the guilty character (once again, see Rio Bravo) taking himself out of the equation. Yes, it could be argued that plot wise, had he done so earlier, or simply been given to the Gunslinger the programme would have ended far quicker, but this is a story investigating guilt and responsibility (as with many westerns), and in this way Doctor who does subvert the genre: the big bad gunslinger instead of leaving town having brought havoc to the families he wanted to protect (see Shane) doesn't need to kill, and instead is adopted by the community. And in this way it does conform to the deconstruction of the genre in that it is the formation of the community that caused the archetypal western protagonist to die out (see the Unforgiven).

    If there is a flaw (and this would be my greatest criticism of series 7) it is that the almost total absence of female characters in the story: understandable because of the genre conventions Whithouse is aping, but not forgivable.

    It's interesting to hear Whithouse himself talk of his Doctor Who writing, as he's on record as saying that stores such as A Town Called Mercy and Vampires of Venice are very much stories outside his comfort zone, and he's far more at ease writing stories like The God Complex.

    I liked A Town Called Mercy: it set out to write a typical Doctor Who genre mash up and did so with surprising sophistication. But what would I know: I like Planet of Evil for exactly the same reason.

    Reply

  32. Anton B
    October 21, 2014 @ 12:08 am

    The more I think about it the more I want to see it. Alex Kingston in full Southern Belle drag, Capaldi in the aforementioned floppy tie and long jacket, Clara playing the schoolmarm somehow having to take a trip down the Mississippi. The plot involves aliens gambling with planets for chips and Time and Space as the stakes. Oh and of course they'd make a complete mess of the racial subtexts giving us all something to talk about for weeks.

    Reply

  33. Lewis Christian
    October 21, 2014 @ 12:08 am

    It was the last time Matt Smith played the Doctor instead of playing Matt Smith playing the Doctor as a one note slapstick joke

    This is important. I feel the costume change he was given for 7B was totally pointless. I read (so I'm not sure how/if true) that they changed his costume so it was more 'classic series-esque' as a nod for the 50th. And, in-universe, it kinda works since the tweed reminds him of the Ponds. But when he lost the old tweed, some of the magic was lost. And then Matt Smith… I dunno… he wasn't quite the Doctor in 7B.

    Reply

  34. Anton B
    October 21, 2014 @ 12:19 am

    @Philip Sandifer
    Well, I mean, neither Moffat nor Gatiss are really people I'd expect to take the "the Gunfighters is an unrecognized classic" angle.
    I agree, that's why A Town Called Mercy struck me as an attempt to 'fix' their perception of that story's 'faults'.

    Reply

  35. Scott
    October 21, 2014 @ 12:21 am

    … You know, the whole 'genocide' thing really does seem to be something that I should have probably remembered about before posting my OP.

    But nevertheless (he says in what is no doubt a slightly foolhardy and ill-advised attempt to claw back some dignity and credibility after such an obvious oversight) while the question may have been worth asking, I'm still not convinced the answer would ultimately have ever been anything other than a 'no'. A 'no' that was not unqualified or unambiguous, perhaps, but a 'no' nonetheless. If nothing else, given the series's (relatively) simple depiction of morality and the narrative weight of 40 to 50 years of the Doctor being pretty clearly the hero (if not an infallible or unflawed one), the Daleks being fairly unambiguously the epitome of evil (and, let's be fair, only very rarely even coded as 'people' by the series) and the Time Lords being fairly clearly presented as (in their latter years especially) ambiguous at best, I think a verdict of 'justifiable genocide' was ultimately always going to be the likely bet even if "The Day of the Doctor" never happened.

    And yes, 'justifiable genocide' was one of those things that felt as weird to write as it no doubt does to read, but hey ho, I've been dipping my toes into the moral relativistic pool in this entire thread, might as well leap all the way in.

    Reply

  36. IG
    October 21, 2014 @ 1:47 am

    I thought the change of outfit came about because of the original plan for Victorian Clara to be the new companion, with the Doctor based in Victorian London as per The Snowmen. Not sure where I heard that though. Matt Smith's love of dressing up may also have been a factor 😉

    Reply

  37. jane
    October 21, 2014 @ 4:00 am

    Seriously, "The Confidence Man" would make a great Doctor Who story.

    Reply

  38. Anton B
    October 21, 2014 @ 4:56 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply

  39. Anton B
    October 21, 2014 @ 4:57 am

    A Melville /Who mash-up fanfic? I say do it! It'd make a great April first blog post.

    Reply

  40. BerserkRL
    October 21, 2014 @ 5:12 am

    Justifiable genocide is pretty easy to come up with. Suppose that for some reason there are only two Hittites left, Hadam and Heve. And they're serial killers, And they attack you with their machetes. So you shoot them in self -defense. There you go.

    Reply

  41. elvwood
    October 21, 2014 @ 5:14 am

    encyclops, I agree except that I would say "weakest" rather than "appalling on every level" – it some redeeming features, just not many.

    One surprising discovery reading here is the dislike of series 7 – I always thought series 6 was seen as the poor relation of Matt's era. Perhaps if I dared venture into the TV sections of Gallifrey Base I'd have found this out earlier!

    Reply

  42. BerserkRL
    October 21, 2014 @ 5:16 am

    solely so that Matt Smith could exclaim "Dinosaurs! On a Spaceship!"

    They should have give him Samuel Jackson's line.

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  43. BerserkRL
    October 21, 2014 @ 5:25 am

    I'd bet it'll be a long time before anyone attempts a 'Doctor Who and the Cowboys' story again.

    You've had some cowboys in here. Not actual cowboys. Though that can happen.

    Reply

  44. Jarl
    October 21, 2014 @ 5:51 am

    It especially helps when both races are constructed with particular morals baked right into their genetic code by megalomaniacs like Davros and Rassilon. See also: The Vervoids.

    I'm sure there's even more examples out there, but I'm struggling to remember which ones were genocide and which were merely wiping out an invasion/occupation force.

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  45. Jarl
    October 21, 2014 @ 5:58 am

    The commonly accepted chronology places this episode in one of the adventures during the party in The Power of Three, where they were gone for 7 weeks. Fittingly, it's that scene that most makes me think that it must take place before Manhattan, because of the Doctor's conversation with Brian about "what happened to the others".

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  46. Jarl
    October 21, 2014 @ 6:05 am

    A lone wanderer comes to town and shakes up the status quo with his eccentricities. The townspeople make him sheriff and ask him to kill the monstrous madman who's coming to shake them down and wipe them out. There's a dramatic showdown, the wanderer wins through guile, cunning, and speed. Somewhere, in the distance, a train explodes.

    I have no idea why anyone would think Doctor Who and a western could coexist.

    For that matter, imagine the TARDIS "disguised" as a fanciful carriage by tipping it on its side and putting it on a horse-drawn wagon. "Come one, come all to the Doctor's Magnificent Medicine Show! Behold, the sonic screwdriver! It mends barbed wire, it re-braids rope, it removes bothersome teeth, it deletes posts on tumblr! Wait, no, you don't have that yet. It deletes posts on MySpace!"

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  47. Jarl
    October 21, 2014 @ 6:17 am

    This episode continues the "Back into the shadows" arc that's been allegedly rumbling along since The Wedding of River Song, specifically the ongoing subversion where both a character and the tone of the show mistakes the Doctor for another, unrelated doctor or kind of doctor, a subversion first seen with Solomon the Trader. This is, shamefully, my favorite part of the arc, the mistaken identity bit, because I am a sucker for comedic misunderstandings. If two people are in a room conversing while a third's listening through a door, I'm on the edge of my seat.
    Ultimately, this arc doesn't really go anywhere. The last proper engagement we get with it is the tantalizing hint in Nightmare in Silver that the Doctor's existence can be inferred by the holes he leaves in history and records, which I was sure would set up the plot in which the Daleks would regain their memories of the Doctor. This didn't happen, of course. In fact, the very next episode features someone recognizing the Doctor by reputation and handheld x-ray, and the episode after Nightmare in Silver is all about someone who knows the Doctor so well and hates him so much that they're willing to commit suicide and destroy the universe just to be rid of him. So much for "I got too noisy".

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  48. Anton B
    October 21, 2014 @ 7:10 am

    @BerserkRL
    That's a nice catch. Do you have that phrase in the States though? "you've had some cowboys in here." As in – "some amateur chancers have done work for you."

    I wonder where the conflation of cattle herders with sly ineptitude came from?

    I remember some time ago the Duke of Edinburgh getting into trouble on a royal visit when, upon being shown some faulty electrical wiring (I don't recall why) he observed that. "I don't know about cowboys this looks like it was done by an Indian!" I'm prepared to believe that, rather than the typically racist Prince Phillip comment this sounds like, the Queen's husband was just attempting a rather I'll thought out joke involving reversal and substitution by association. In this case 'cowboy' for 'Indian'. Oddly then it is racist but not in the way the royal sponger intended.

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    • David Moran
      October 9, 2018 @ 12:15 am

      That last paragraph is now blindingly ironic.

      Reply

  49. encyclops
    October 21, 2014 @ 8:42 am

    It's true that as a rule I'm turned off by westerns (though I can enjoy the cream of the crop if I try), but you're the first person so far who's actually almost convinced me it's actually a western at all.

    Am I the only one who saw it instead as a Star Trek episode?

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  50. David Anderson
    October 21, 2014 @ 9:06 am

    Not the only one.That said, it's an example of the type of story that consists of a moral dilemma that has to be all tied up by the end of the episode. That genre is particular associated with Star Trek, but I think it is always going to be a pull for any sf-y (or fantasy) series in which the regulars visit a different planet each week.

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  51. BerserkRL
    October 21, 2014 @ 9:15 am

    No, it's not an expression here.

    Reply

  52. heroesandrivals
    October 21, 2014 @ 10:55 am

    I actually think the recent Flatline is incredibly RTD-ish, insofar as the location and invasion themes.
    But you can tell it's not a RTD script because it leaves the inherent classism issues of the setting at the door, paying only lip service to them in 2 lines. Russel would have been VICIOUS….

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  53. Adam Finch
    October 21, 2014 @ 1:07 pm

    I agree: the 2012 episodes are a return to form after the sustained disaster of 2011. Proper, slut-it-up event TV week on week. Then The Snowmen is the best Christmas special since 2008. Funny how it turned out in 2013. Still, The Day of the Doctor was fun!

    Reply

  54. Jarl
    October 21, 2014 @ 2:46 pm

    I've never heard it except from the Doctor. I assumed it was due to cowboys having a reputation for roughness and roughousing and horsing around and other things that kinda sound like cowboy puns.

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  55. Jesse
    October 21, 2014 @ 6:48 pm

    As a western fan, I thought the first half or so of this was a nice genre mash-up. It kind of went downhill after that.

    Still, I appear to like it (and 7A in general) better than most people here do. It's definitely one of the top two Doctor Who westerns of all time.

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  56. Anton B
    October 22, 2014 @ 1:55 am

    So, another example of cross-cultural dissonance. Interesting that we've taken a stateside term and re-configured it to our own usage.
    From http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=cowboy+builder

    Cowboy builder
    A tradesperson, normally a builder, plumber, roofer etc who performs shoddy work at an inflated price.
    "This cowboy builder asked me a very big price for that shoddy work"

    Reply

  57. Jarl
    October 22, 2014 @ 4:27 am

    Cowboys were, at least in modern mythical thinking, rough-housers, usually amateurs (or, at least, working outside their professional field), and somewhat untrustworthy on a good day. I can see the lineage from there to "Cowboy builder". There's a similar saying over here of "cowboy cop", only with a more lethal implication.

    Reply

  58. SK
    October 22, 2014 @ 4:49 am

    Justifiable genocide is pretty easy to come up with. Suppose that for some reason there are only two Hittites left, Hadam and Heve. And they're serial killers, And they attack you with their machetes. So you shoot them in self -defense. There you go.

    That's not genocide.

    Genocide is when you set out to destroy an entire class of people, because of their membership of that class.

    So, Hitler with the Jews (obviously) or Stalin with the kulaks: people were targeted because of their membership of a class, and the aim was to wipe that class out of existence.

    Simply doing something that happens to result in the destruction of an entire class (such as killing the last two in self-defence), but without the intent to wipe out that class, has the actus reus of genocide, but because it lacks the mens rea it is not genocide.

    Reply

  59. Alan
    October 22, 2014 @ 8:00 am

    I was just in the process of writing a reply about how much that scene bugged me because canonically only three companions have died in fifty years. The vast majority of the Doctor's companions travel with him for a time and then leave, so that guilty attitude he demonstrated towards Rory's dad seemed out of place. And then, it suddenly struck me for the first time — he was talking to Rory's dad and Rory would have been the fourth companion death had he not been resurrected by a bizarre plot contrivance. I need to go rewatch that episode (which I didn't care for the first time) before Phil covers it.

    Reply

  60. Daru
    October 22, 2014 @ 10:13 pm

    On balance, I enjoyed series 7b more than 7a – for the reasons suggested by Melissa. I absolutely adored the feelings of Bells, Rings (which holds a special place in my heart for me), Hide, Crimson and Name. These episodes showed ways forwards that have been expanded in Series 8, as Lee suggests above, of the character development becoming the arc. But yes that's a thing that is still seeming to be half formed here – but I still love the back half of 7.

    7b I did find a lot of fun, apart from A Town Called Mercy, which story wise left me feeling a bit empty, it felt out of place somehow seeing the tortured Doctor mirrored with his foe. Didn't work for me. I would have enjoyed a lot more an all-out comedy Western which just revelled in the joy of the setting in the style of The Gunfighters.

    Reply

  61. Daru
    October 22, 2014 @ 10:16 pm

    "And in the end, horses are not known for adhereing to strict gender norms"

    I am intruiged at how you know this 🙂

    Reply

  62. Daru
    October 22, 2014 @ 10:25 pm

    I'm a big lover of The Gunfighters, shame this story was something of a reaction against that. How about the Doctor and the Tardis rocking into Deadwood on the Deadwood Stage with big show tunes an'all?

    Reply

  63. gatchamandave
    October 24, 2014 @ 3:21 am

    …with Ian McShane glaring from behind the bar ?

    Reply

  64. Owlie
    November 15, 2014 @ 1:59 am

    Bit late commenting on this one, but… as a trans person myself: it was a male horse named Susan. Not a trans horse. People with traditionally feminine names don't necessarily identify as female.

    And I thought it was a pretty obvious reference to ''A Boy Named Sue''.

    Reply

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