Music, seasons 1-4

One of the things I truly enjoy about Doctor Who is its background music. I love orchestral music, and composer Murray Gold writes and arranges music that goes so wonderfully with the action on the screen. I’ve purchased the soundtracks for seasons 1-4 and the season 4 specials (maybe in February I’ll purchase the soundtracks for the rest of the seasons) and I selected a bunch of them for the playlist that I listen to at work – instrumental music is awesome for concentrating. I’ve selected my favorites below, listed in no particular order. The links take you to YouTube videos of the songs, and the tooltip on the link tells you what series the video comes from.

As a note, you can buy almost all of these songs on amazon.com individually, if you don’t feel like buying the entire CDs.

Doctor Who Theme

What fan doesn’t like the theme song? This is the only song on this list that wasn’t composed by Murray Gold. It was written by Ron Grainer, then realized by Delia Derbyshire using entirely electronic means, rather than conventional instruments, and because of this, was very striking – it was the first TV theme that was completely electronic. For the new series, Gold arranged it for orchestra, though the main melody remained electronic. The show has featured different arrangements over the years, and my favorite is the one used in series 2 and 3. (I’m not sure, but I think series 1 had a different arrangement. I could easily be wrong.)

I am the Doctor

If you’ve watched series 5-7, you know this song: it’s the one used for most of the action scenes in which the Doctor is, well, doing anything. In my opinion, it is very much overused, and I’m hoping that a new action theme is introduced with the Twelfth Doctor. However, I still love this piece. It was introduced in series 4, and to me, it means the Doctor is about to save the day. It’s very heroic, and also a bit alien, as the main part of it is composed in 7/4, throwing you slightly off the beat you’re expecting.

The Doctor’s Theme

The Doctor’s Theme was introduced in series 1 and was used through series 4; I’m not sure it was used at all for the Eleventh Doctor. It evokes the mystery and majesty of the Doctor, which to me doesn’t really apply to Eleven, but is definitely perfect for Nine and Ten.

The Doctor Forever

This song starts with a slow, sad, beautiful vocal section. Then, halfway through, it switches to fast and heroic. In fact, the second section was used for the Doctor’s action scenes before I am the Doctor took that over (one scene it was used in was in “Gridlock,” when the Doctor started jumping down from car to car to get to the fast lane).

The Dream of a Normal Death

One of my absolutely favorite songs on this list, this was the music that played over the scene in “The Family of Blood” when John Smith and Nurse Redfern saw the life they would have if John Smith could remain human. The music is both happy and sad at the same time.

This is Gallifrey: Our Childhood, Our Home

This was the theme for Gallifrey during Ten’s tenure, played whenever he talked about his home. It was also used during “Utopia” whenever Professor Yana was affected by his returning memories. The main theme was rearranged for The Council of the Time Lords, to add the feeling of majesty and corruption that characterized the High Council on the last day of the Time War.

Turn Left

This piece in itself evokes the despair of the world without the Doctor in “Turn Left,” and includes a sad, mournful, ghostly version of “The Doctor’s Theme” near the end.

Just Scarecrows to War

This is the drum-and-fife music that plays when the scarecrow army starts to move in “The Family of Blood.” It’s just so pretty.

Song for Ten

“Song for Ten,” performed by Tim Phillips, is the music that plays while the Tenth Doctor is choosing his wardrobe and the Tylers are having Christmas dinner in “The Christmas Invasion.” It’s one of my favorite songs, but my husband hates it, so I have to sing it on the sly. The version that you can buy on amazon.com is a different version than the one in the show. It is sung by Neil Hannon and includes extra verses, and in my opinion, is vastly inferior – while Mr. Hannon has a great singing voice, it doesn’t “fit” the Tenth Doctor. As far as I can tell, the Tim Phillips version has never been released commercially, but you can find copies of it on the internet. The link above is to the Tim Phillips version on YouTube.

Vale Decem

This song is not in my playlist, because it makes me tear up when I hear it. The title means “Farewell, Ten” and it’s the music that plays during the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration. It’s a gorgeous song, but I just can’t listen to it casually.

The Dark and Endless Dalek Night

I’m not quite sure when this song is played in the show, but I assume it’s during “The Stolen Earth”/”Journey’s End.”

Evolution of the Daleks

I prefer this Dalek theme, but the previous one is also good. This is from the episode of the same name, and I love the choral chanting in this piece.

The Master Vainglorious

This is a very schizophrenic piece of music, which fits the Master very well. It is also punctuated by the Master’s four-beat drumbeat, which can really make your heart skip.

All the Strange Strange Creatures

This is the music from the original trailer, but it’s used in the show sometimes.

Donna’s Theme

Donna’s Theme is very appropriate for her, being very spunky and jazzy. Love Donna!

The Runaway Bride

This is a longer piece from the episode of the same name, and includes the music that played during the taxi/TARDIS chase scene.

Slitheen

For some reason, though the Slitheen were pretty silly rubbery monsters, they got a great theme song with some awesome lower brass and timpani riffs.

A Noble Girl About Town

Another song that really captures Donna’s essence, this is the music that plays when Donna is investigating Adipose Industries in “Partners in Crime.”

A Victorian Christmas

I’ve always loved this song, the first one that plays in “The Next Doctor.” It has a very authentic Victorian feel. Unfortunately, since the episode moves directly from the Doctor delighting in the Christmas atmosphere to  running to respond to Rosita’s cries for the Doctor, the song transitions very abruptly into chase music with more of a 1930s feel, which kind of ruins the ending.

Martha Triumphant

This is a beautiful version of Martha’s theme. I’m not sure if it’s played at the end of “The Last of the Time Lords,” when Martha defeats the Master, but I know it’s played at the very end, when Martha decides to take control of her life and leaves the Doctor.

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More ramblings

A bit of stream-of-consciousness rambling today.

My husband and I bought some “The Day of the Doctor”  t-shirts off of one of those “a shirt a day” sites. Not sure which one, and I can’t find the design anymore, so I can’t link it. Basically, the shirt shows thirteen TARDISes flying around Gallifrey, and then at the bottom, the silhouettes of Sandshoes, Granddad, and Chinny. (That’s a lot easier to type than the Tenth Doctor, etc.) We each got one copy of the shirt, and my husband insisted that we wear them to work today (we both work at the same company). They’re awesome shirts, but I feel like those tourist couples in Hawaii that wear matching aloha shirts. Tacky.

I read a blog post a couple of days ago that had the premise of “how boring and horrible the world would be if we didn’t have Doctor Who.” It went along the lines of, if the show had been cancelled back in 1963, we wouldn’t know the Doctor and everything would be so much more boring, etc.  And I thought, “Hm, the Doctor Who universe is a world without Doctor Who.” I mean really, if that universe had a TV show which showed, word-for-word, the adventures of the Doctor, I’m sure the Doctor would know about it. So there’s a world without Doctor Who that is far from boring. (That was a pretty silly paragraph.)

On the other hand, maybe it does have Doctor Who. There’s one Seventh Doctor episode in which Ace walks through a house in 1963 England. As she’s passing through the living room, a clock shows it’s 5:16, and the TV starts showing a “new BBC drama.” The scene switches before the opening sequence of the show displays its name, but it looks like Doctor Who.

We are re-watching the Ninth Doctor at the moment, and Christopher Eccleston’s performance is a breath of fresh air. He is suitably alien without being goofy, and since his story is about his anger from the Time War and his redemption through Rose, he got the opportunity to play all of the extremes of the character. Every time I watch his shows, it makes me very sad that he didn’t do more.

We seem to have temporarily abandoned our progress through the classic series; the “Genesis of the Daleks” disc has sat alone for two weeks now. I think one of the problems is that this is the first of a two-disc set from Netflix and we’re reluctant to start the series only to have to wait for the second disk to arrive. Hopefully we’ll get it watched on New Year’s Day and mail the disc back soon.

A deeper look

It’s been a few days since Christmas, which is when I watched “The Time of the Doctor” twice. I haven’t had a single urge to watch it again since. You know, I liked the episode well enough, but as it has sat and stewed in my brain, it really hasn’t worked all that well for me. As I said previously, it was a good farewell episode for the Eleventh Doctor, because it summarized his Doctor very well, celebrating his life and being very, well, Eleven. Unfortunately, I don’t think it did anything else really well.

Spoilers again, by the way.

To me, the plot was followable (that’s not a real word), but I’ve seen a lot of people say that it was too obtuse. Looking at the storylines over the Matt Smith years, that’s pretty typical of his plots. Steven Moffat seems to like to surprise his audience, with twists and turns and timey-wimey  stuff. (He coined that term, by the way, in “Blink,” and it’s become his trademark. Sadly, I think it’s also becoming over-used. But that’s a discussion for another day.) Perhaps he tried to stuff too much into the episode: the completely gratuitous humor at the beginning, all of Eleven’s enemies (why did they waste time with the Weeping Angels at all – their appearance was pointless), feel-good scenes of Eleven and the children. There were only three things that the episode needed to do – celebrate Eleven, explain how he gets to regenerate a thirteenth time, and do the actual regeneration – and the rest shouldn’t have gotten in the way of that.

The one part of the episode that really bugged me was how he got the new regeneration cycle. After Eleven leaves to go face down the Daleks, Clara talks to the crack in reality and tells the Time Lord that if they love him, they need to help him – and they do! This flies in the face of everything we know about the Time Lords. They call the Doctor a “renegade” for a reason: because he’s not supposed to be off-planet meddling with other civilizations. From the very beginning, he ran away from Gallifrey because he thinks and feels differently than they do, and the Time Lords have been calling him back ever since, either to bring him to trial for what they consider his crimes or to make him do some task they don’t want to do themselves. More recently in the history of Gallifrey, the Tenth Doctor flew in the face of Rassilon and almost the entire High Council, damning them back into the hell of the Time War. The General of the War Council called him a madman, his worst nightmare. Now, granted, the Doctor brings a lot of this on himself, but it’s been well-established that the Time Lords do not love the Doctor.

Now, they do know that he’s singly responsible for their escape from destruction and that he’s the only person that can get them out of their current situation. That inspires gratitude in people, not necessarily love. The way this should have been pled is, “The Doctor is your only hope for deliverance from the pocket universe. If you want to escape, please help him.” This is the way to move Time Lord hearts: tell them how the Doctor’s continued existence benefits them. The way it was done was simply schmaltzy. I think it was done this way to tug at your heartstrings, but I don’t think people who watch Doctor Who in general are looking for cheap emotional highs. 

And there it is. I’m very glad this wasn’t the 50th anniversary episode, as this would have been anticlimactic for such a momentous occasion. I’m looking forward to the new season (omg, eight months away!) and I’ve got high hopes for Peter Capaldi. And I think Mr. Smith’s Doctor was a fine Doctor. But I think I’ll go watch The End of Time or “The Parting of the Ways” instead.

This and that

I was planning to write another post about “The Time of the Doctor” today, but I’m just not feeling inspired. Maybe it’s because I’m more in a music mood than a word mood today. Maybe it’s because I’m at work and about 75% of the office is on vacation and the rest of us are all kind of sitting around wishing we weren’t here. My boss and I spent the first hour of the morning just chatting about stuff. It’s that kind of a day.

My husband and I were watching “Utopia” last night. Now he wants a Hermits United t-shirt that says, “Meeting up every ten years to trade stories about caves.” The ones we found on the web are not adequate. I wish I had any artistic talent so that I could make it myself.

Sent a Doctor Who thing to the printer today, and it reminded me of a co-worker’s Facebook status earlier this year, when I was printing out reference pics for my Fourth and Fifth Doctor costumes:

Sadly, I didn’t have a pic of the Sixth Doctor ready to send to the printer.

It’s interesting what things will stick in your mind. We’ve watched “The Day of the Doctor” at least ten times now, and of course, being fans, we pick up on the classic lines and use them in casual conversations, or just blurt them out randomly. (“They’re not sandshoes!” “Yes, they are!”) That’s pretty much natural for people with brains as sticky as ours. For some reason, the one that’s taken over my mind the most is, “Is something funny? Did I miss a funny thing?” I get at least two opportunities to say it every day, and it never fails to make me giggle. And I’m not even sure why.

Ok, that’s enough stream-of-consciousness for now. Back to pretending to work.

 

Farewell, Eleven!

Christmas Day has gone, and with it, the Eleventh Doctor. Peter Capaldi has officially taken over the reins of Doctor Who from Matt Smith, and we have to wait about eight months to find out what this new Doctor is like. Depressing, isn’t it? *wink* “The Time of the Doctor” was definitely an entertaining episode and a great farewell to Matt Smith.

Spoilers ahead! Turn back now if you don’t want to know.

The episode encapsulated the personality of the Eleventh Doctor perfectly. It had slapstick comedy, uncomfortable flirting, charming of children, displays of bravura, and the schizophrenic dialogue that’s just so Eleven, as well as the general Doctorness of standing alone against armies to protect the innocent. It tied up some plotlines that were in danger of being completely forgotten (the origins of the Silence, for example). And the Doctor got one last chance to do a Pandorica-style speech. This episode did exactly what all regeneration episodes should do: it summed up the outgoing Doctor and celebrated his life.

The plot of the episode was fun: nothing particularly inventive, though through it all, you’re wondering how in the world is the Doctor going to solve the standoff. In my opinion, the most amazing thing about this particular regeneration is that Eleven died of old age, something that only the First Doctor was able to do (and you could argue that he died not of old age, but of the stress of an adventure combined with older age). Granted, Eleven didn’t die of old age the way Ten wanted to – having a normal life and a family. He aged while defending the town Christmas from hordes of aliens. However, he still got to live out his entire incarnation’s span, something that we know won’t happen often.

And of course, the whole “how many regenerations does the Doctor have left” debate was explained fully by Eleven, saying that Granddad counted for one and Sandshoes counted for two, bringing his total number of spent regenerations to twelve, which is the canonical limit. Then, when he’s granted more regenerations, he clearly states that he has a whole new cycle, paving the way to the 100th anniversary (wish I could be around to see that one!).

The Doctor seems to be gaining more control over his regenerations as he gets older: being able to use it as a weapon and holding it until he’s said his goodbyes again. His beautiful vision of Amy harks back to the Fourth and Fifth Doctors seeing visions of their companions before they died. He was granted a gorgeous ending sequence, with Clara, as is appropriate, there for him but not getting in the way of his final moment. I think the only disappointing thing about the scene was the quick switch to Mr. Capaldi; Eleven did not glow and morph into his new face like all of the other Doctors did before him (except Two’s forced change).

All in all, it was a great episode and a fitting tribute to the Eleventh Doctor. Thank you, Mr. Smith, for your wonderful performance, and all the best to you!

Merry Christmas!

Hey there! Just a quick post to say Happy Holidays to everyone! Have a wonderful and safe Christmas!

A couple of other quick things

  • If you’re playing Doctor Who: Legacy, they just released a promo code that gives you all of the Advent calendar content: 42M7-59EG-MV77-VRUW
  • I realized that I’m missing two Christmas specials from our holiday line up that we’ll need to watch: “The Snowmen” and The End of Time (which means I’ll spend the evening crying my eyes out again).

We know who you are

One of my friends is celebrating the approach of the Doctor Who Christmas special and the last episode of Matt Smith by changing his Facebook profile image to the Doctors, in order, while also posting a quote or bit of dialogue for that Doctor. Today’s Doctor is the Tenth Doctor, and the dialogue was from “The Christmas Invasion,” when the Doctor brings down Harriet Jones with six words. This reminded me of one of my absolute favorite characters in the show, Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North and later Prime Minister of Great Britain.

MP for Flydale North, with Indra Ganesh and a disguised Slitheen

MP for Flydale North, with Indra Ganesh and a disguised Slitheen

We meet Harriet Jones in “Aliens of London/World War Three,” when she’s the MP for Flydale North, describing herself as a “faithful back-bencher.” Being American, I had to look up this term: according to Wikipedia, it means that she serves her constituency without holding high office or having the power to influence policy. In other words, she’s no one important. She arrives at 10 Downing Street for an appointment with the Prime Minister, only to find that on that fateful day, aliens have crashed in the Thames and the government is running crazy trying to figure out what to do, as the PM is nowhere to be found. Her appointment with him has been cancelled, but she sticks around, hoping to get a word in with him anyway. As she’s waiting, she starts to notice weird things happening, and she discovers that the acting PM and his staff are disguised aliens. No one will listen to her, but she finally finds someone to talk to, the assistant of the “alien expert” brought in to deal with the situation – Rose and the Doctor.

Harriet is established in this episode as a woman of great inner strength who was content with making the best of her little corner of the world but stepped up when disaster struck. She began to panic when first confronted with green aliens who killed people and wore their skins as a disguise, but once she was able to deal with it by revealing what she saw to Rose, she took control of the situation: she sorted out the emergency protocols, helped the Doctor figure out what was going on and how Jackie and Mickey could kill the Slitheen that was attacking them, and fully understood the consequences of the Slitheen plot and the options they had for combating it. She was also completely willing to sacrifice herself for others: she offered herself for Rose when the Slitheen was about to kill her, and later, she made the call to fire the missile at 10 Downing Street in order to save the world from nuclear war. At the end of the episode, with the lack of effective leadership in the wake of the destruction of 10 Downing Street, Harriet steps

The Prime Minister and her right-hand man, Alex

The Prime Minister and her right-hand man, Alex

We meet Harriet again in “The Christmas Invasion,” in which the alien Sycorax intercepted a British space probe while on the way to invade the Earth; thus, they speak to the British government to ask for the humans’ surrender. Harriet was PM – she had ushered in Britain’s Golden Age and worked tirelessly for her country (“Never off-duty.”) – and took control of the UNIT operation speaking to the Sycorax. Teleported to the alien ship (without fear, I might add), she was placed in the unenviable position of choosing between killing 1/3 of the Earth’s population or selling 1/2 of them into slavery. The Doctor arrived to save the day, but after the alien spaceship left, she decided to have it blown up by Torchwood. Her reasoning was that she didn’t want the aliens to go out and tell the universe about the Earth, inviting more species to come and invade, because the Earth has to defend itself; it can’t rely on the Doctor who isn’t always available. The Doctor disagreed, of course, and had her removed as PM.

Manager of the Subwave Network

Former PM and builder of the Subwave Network

The thing is, she wasn’t wrong, and she stood by her decision. While she was sorry for murdering the ship full of Sycorax, she never wavered in her conviction that the Earth had to stop relying on the Doctor and learn to defend itself, and this brings us to her third appearance, in “The Stolen Earth”/”Journey’s End.” It was three years since she was deposed as PM, and she hadn’t been idle. With funding from the Mr. Copper Foundation (nice tie-in there), she built a communications network designed to stay hidden but allow the Children of Time to communicate with each other in the case of global catastrophe. When that catastrophe arrived, she contacted all of the major players, meaning that she’s been watching the Doctor’s movements and figuring out who the Earth can rely upon. If she had not done all of this, there would have been no way to call the Doctor back to Earth, and the Daleks would have won. All because of her strength and conviction. And in the end, when the Daleks were trying to shut the network down, she made sure that they found her and not the others, sacrificing her life to make sure the others would survive to fight on.

My favorite of her scenes has to be the showdown between her and the Doctor directly following the destruction of the Sycorax, because of its complexity. She and the Doctor were both right. The Doctor knew that there are protocols that the denizens of the universe follow, that the Sycorax acknowledged their defeat and were leaving in peace. He also knew that the humans killing the Sycorax would send the wrong message to the stars, that the humans were not civilized. He then deposed her because she disagreed with him, aborting “Britain’s Golden Age” that he had mentioned before, during “World War Three”.*   She knew that the Earth had to defend itself, that it couldn’t rely on a single man to always be there, no matter how powerful he might be. She knows killing the Sycorax while they were fleeing wasn’t right (the tears she choked back after she gave the order demonstrated that), but it conveyed the message she wanted to send, that the Earth does have the ability to defend itself. She and the Doctor throw into light that what’s right and wrong are not always cut and dried, that it’s possible to draw two conclusions from the same situation and have them both be right.

And that’s Harriet Jones: strong, courageous, caring, devoted, driven, not afraid to make the difficult decision, not afraid stand up for herself and her people. It’s very sad that she only got three episodes, but those were three fantastic episodes for a wonderful character.

* You might argue that he deposed her because she had committed murder, but his line was “Don’t challenge me, Harriet Jones, because I’m a completely new man. I could bring down your Government with a single word.” His anger and her defiant response goaded him into proving that he could bring her down, and in doing so, destroyed Britain’s prosperous times. In a way, this is really a low point for the Doctor, where he lost control. On the other hand, “The Christmas Invasion” was designed to show you who exactly the new Doctor was – a cheeky gob, a valiant champion, the man who gives his enemy a choice, no second chances, willing to spend Christmas with his family – and I would argue that this bit shows you another key characteristic of the Tenth Doctor: that he is going to have trouble controlling his dark side, and that he will eventually fail.