The best series

If you were to ask me which series of the modern Doctor Who I like the best, I’d answer “Series 4” without hesitation. The Doctor has the best companion, Donna Noble, as well as the best overall quality of episodes. The series follows the Doctor’s development when he has a companion who can stand with him on an equal footing with strong morals and perception without being subservient or love-blinded, and with the subsequent specials, shows how lost he gets when he does travel alone, exploring his struggle with his inner darkness.

However, if you change the question and ask me which series I think is the best, that award goes to Series 3. What’s the difference? Series 3 is a beautifully constructed story, from beginning to end. Almost every episode in the run contributes to a long tale of revenge and domination set up over a year and a half behind the Doctor’s back, while in the TARDIS, the Doctor and his companion are both discovering things about themselves and growing, both together and individually. Here’s a list of  the episodes and how they were worked into the plot.

“The Runaway Bride”: This might seem to be a throwaway Christmas special (besides setting up the brilliant Series 4, but that was unintentional, as Donna was not intended to become a permanent companion), but it actually serves a very important purpose. At the very end of the episode, as the webstar is attacking, the tank commander says, “Mr. Saxon says fire!” This is the first mention of Mr. Saxon, the defense minister, showing that the Master was already starting his schemes during Series 2 (you don’t become defense minister overnight).

1“Smith and Jones” – This episode introduces Martha, showing that she’s level-headed, perceptive, determined, and smart. Some people, me included, are upset that she falls head-over-heels in love with the Doctor within thirty minutes of meeting him, and I do wish they had postponed this character development until later, but it actually has a narrative reason; see the next episode. Mr. Saxon is also mentioned here, and demonstrates that he has a belief in aliens. This is the first episode where we see the “Vote Saxon” posters.

“The Shakespeare Code” – While this episode doesn’t have anything overt to do with Mr. Saxon, it establishes both Martha’s and the Doctor’s low points. In the bed scene, the Doctor is pining for Rose, lamenting that he doesn’t know what to do because she isn’t there, and this demonstrates what happens when the Doctor allows an obsessive, immature companion to lead him by the nose: he loses his purpose, his confidence, and his independence. Martha, meanwhile, responds with disappointment and anger, and she’s lost a lot of the traits she had in the previous episode, because she’s more concerned with developing a romance with the Doctor. From here, both of them develop positively.

2“Gridlock” – This episode, of course, seeds the Doctor with the idea that there might be another Time Lord out there, with the Face of Boe’s “You are not alone.” There’s more to this episode, though, both addressing the idea of faith. Martha, trapped in a car in the fast lane, realizes that she’s put a lot of faith and love into a man she doesn’t know at all, and though she can’t act on that faith, being trapped, she continues to believe in him. The Doctor, on the other side, hears the hymn that the drivers are singing and realizes that while they sustain themselves with their faith, it’s also keeping them from trying to change things and improve their situation, and this spurs him to action, both to save the drivers and to heal himself from the loss of Rose, the one he was trying to rely on in the previous episode; his faith was also holding him back. He also realizes that he’s been stunting Martha by making her rely on faith in him, treating her more like a pet instead of actually relating to her on a personal level, and he begins to open up to her, as much as the Doctor ever can.

“Daleks in Manhattan”/”Evolution of the Daleks” – This is the only episode of the season in which I can’t find anything that contributes to the overall story arc, other than a brief discussion of Martha’s feelings for the Doctor between her and Tallulah.

3“The Lazarus Experiment” – This is the episode where we really start to see that something is going on. Mr. Saxon is attempting to attract the attention of and trap the Doctor by funding Dr. Lazarus’ work, knowing it’s something that the Doctor will want to stop. Tish is hired by Dr. Lazarus as another bait for the Doctor, and his operatives use this to get close to Martha’s mother Francine and start to seed her with distrust and hatred for the Doctor.

“42” – While the Doctor and Martha are traveling in the future, it’s election day in Britain, the day that Mr. Saxon gets elected Prime Minister. Meanwhile, his operatives are now tracking Martha through her mother. At this point, Martha is now working on a more equal footing with the Doctor, taking on tasks and doing her best to keep up the morale of the crew members. She becomes the Doctor-analogue in a mini-relationship with Riley; while he has the technical skills, she is the leader and the one who gives hope.

4“Human Nature”/”The Family of Blood” – This episode might seem like it has nothing to do with the overall story arc, but it provides two important things. First, the concepts of the chameleon arch/fob watch and the perception filter are introduced here, so that they aren’t foreign concepts to the audience just cooked up for the season ender two episodes later. Second, Martha enters into the first of three huge sacrifices she makes for the Doctor: she spends two months doing menial work and enduring racial and social discrimination to keep him hidden and protected.

“Blink” – In this episode, Martha makes her second major sacrifice, going to work in a shop to support herself and the Doctor while they’re stuck in 1969 (because you know he certainly wouldn’t do such a thing himself). We don’t know how long they were stuck there, but it must have been long enough for her to realize she needed to get a job and then for her to complain about it in the video.

The other thing that “Blink” does is deal with time travel’s effects. In most stories, if a time traveler goes into the past and changes something, that affects the future. For example, in “The Shakespeare Code”, it’s made very clear in the discussion between the Doctor and Martha that if the Carrionites succeed, the future that Martha comes from will never happen. This is the same in the Dalek episode, and in “Human Nature.” The conflicts in all of these episodes are about preventing these changes. “Blink”, however, primes the audience with a different concept of time travel: that the Doctor’s actions in the past (or the future!) can establish the normal series of events: everything that he does sets up the things that happen to Sally Sparrow. This is the concept that is used in season ender, that someone can go back and set up a chain of events to happen now.

“Utopia”/”The Sound of Drums”/”Last of the Time Lords” – And now we come to what the entire season has been building up for: the reveal that the Master has been hiding using a fob watch, and that after he returns, he’s gone back to modern-day Earth to set a big plan in motion to trap the Doctor and take over the planet to build a war machine to wage war with the universe. Even Martha’s been trapped by this plan: she’s favored Saxon due to his Archangel network of satellites. And the Master uses his manipulation of her family to force the Doctor and Martha to come to him.

6Once the Doctor is rendered powerless, Martha escapes and walks the Earth for a year to save her family and gather support for him, eluding the Master’s soldiers and spies and assassins (see the novel “The Story of Martha”). And this brings Martha full circle: while she still loves the Doctor, she realizes how much of herself she’s given up for him – how much she’s allowed him to shape who she is, even if it was unintentional – and how much her family has suffered, too, and she realizes she deserves more than that and leaves the Doctor. In this way, I believe that Martha is the strongest person the Doctor has ever had as a companion, because she establishes and maintains herself separate from him.

And this is why I think Series 3 is the best series of the modern show. The story is woven expertly through the entire season, even in episodes that don’t seem to have anything to do with it: the show maintains its episodic, random-adventure feel while there is something sinister going on behind the scenes. In addition, the Doctor and Martha’s characters change and grow all the way through, and this development is incorporated into the stories of the episodes, a natural progression in response to the experiences of the characters. It’s a beautiful story and season, and a wonderful example of what Doctor Who can really be.

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Beyond the realm of believability

Traffic is still a problem in the future.

Traffic is still a problem in the future.

I’ve mentioned a few times recently that one of the things I really like about the Doctor Who audios is that they have this surreal quality to them that doesn’t seem to exist in the new show. The problem is, if you don’t listen to the audios, it’s very difficult to explain what I mean. Well, I found that I was wrong, that this quality does exist very rarely in the modern show. The episode I’m thinking about is “Gridlock,” the second episode of Series 3. This is the one where the Doctor takes Martha to visit New Earth, where she’s kidnapped by a couple so that they qualify to drive in the fast lane on the motorway beneath New New York.

When I was new to Doctor Who and watching this episode for the first time, it baffled me. It seemed completely unrealistic that there could be a motorway so vast and so clogged that people would drive for years on it. Then, I found out that the motorway is completely enclosed and that the people on it never realize that they’re stuck there forever, and that compounded the disbelief. Add to that the weird people in the cars and the hymn they all sing together, and it added up to an episode that really rubbed me the wrong way.

When I rewatched it, I liked it a lot better, but I’ve found that is true for every Doctor Who episode I’ve rewached (which includes all of them except “Love and Monsters”, “Rings of Akhaten”, and all but two of the current season). Knowing what was actually causing the problem made it a lot easier to believe in the first place and I was able to pay a lot more attention to the story without the distraction of disbelief. This was the same problem I had with “Blink” the first time I watched it: the Weeping Angels that got frozen when anyone looked at them were so unbelievable to me that I couldn’t concentrate on the story; the episode was far better the second time I watched it and could ignore the implausibility. (Sadly, I’ve never been able to suspend my disbelief for any of the later Angel episodes.)

I haven’t seen “Gridlock” for a long time, and since then, I’ve listened to a number of audios and come to appreciate their feel. Then I watched “Gridlock” this weekend, and I found that it has that same surreal feel that I love so much, and, in fact, so did the previous episode set on New Earth (named “New Earth” of course), though “Gridlock” let you see New Earth a lot better. It has this undercity (which reminded me a lot of Final Fantasy VII) with street vendors calling out moods to sell, and this huge motorway full of horrible fumes and bumper-to-bumper traffic. The inhabitants of the cars are normal, perhaps a bit too over-the-top normal, even though this is set far, far in the future. There’s a cat married to a human, and they’ve had kittens, and this is perfectly fine.  The whole city is normal when it really shouldn’t be, and yet it’s not. And it’s all portrayed with overly-bright colors. It’s surreal.

That’s the quality that I love. The world could have been filled with futuristic science-fiction people like you find in any other imagined future society, but instead, they chose to make them too normal in a too-strange world, and it fits very well: with the exaggerated normality of the world, the exaggerated traffic jam becomes plausible. Probably the most obvious example of this in the classic series is “The Happiness Patrol”, with its legions of happiness officers arresting anyone who wasn’t happy, and its candy monster that executes prisoners by drowning them in syrup, but I’d also include “Logopolis” and its planet of mathematicians sitting in tiny huts, creating the universe in this category. I wouldn’t be surprised if the classic show opted for surrealism more often simply because they decided that since the viewers could tell that sets were flimsy, they might as well emphasize the unbelievableness of the settings.

This is something that Doctor Who has definitely moved away from. The only recent episode that wasn’t in a traditional sci-fi or historical setting was “The Wedding of River Song”, and it was surreal because the plot required it to be – time was imploding on itself. “Voyage of the Damned” and “Mummy on the Orient Express” provided great opportunities for surrealism, with their Earth vessels traveling through space, but they both opted to duplicate the historical contexts, rather than emphasize the anachronisms.

The surrealism was something that set Doctor Who apart from other science fictions shows, with their plausible settings and aliens. I’m definitely looking forward to more gems along those lines from the audio plays and the classic episodes I haven’t seen (which are a lot), but I’m always keeping up hope that we’ll get a good, nicely strange new world or society now and again in the future.

Introducing the Doctor

Come on, now: if you’re even reading this post, you know full well that the Twelfth Doctor will grace our TV screens in full glory on Saturday, or, if you don’t have TV service like me, you’ll have to wait until Monday to see the series 8 season opener, “Deep Breath,” in the theater. It’s been a long eight months to wait for the new season of Doctor Who, but the true excitement is in meeting the new Doctor, seeing what he’s like, and finally getting to see Peter Capaldi playing the role that he obsessed about when he was a kid. This is a scary time, though, because we don’t know what to expect. Will we like this Doctor? Will he capture our hearts like <insert your favorite Doctor here>? We don’t know, and this episode might not even answer the question: I know that it took me a number of episodes to warm up to the Eleventh Doctor, and anyone who’s seen “Time of the Rani” knows that a premiere episode could be really bad (not to mention, the Doctor can really change and develop after the first episode). Historically, though, the modern show’s Doctor introduction episodes have been fantastic, concentrating on showing us just what we’re in for.

The first episode of the modern Doctor Who had a hell of a lot to accomplish in just 45 minutes. First, it was the premiere episode of the reboot of a beloved TV show, one that was deeply rooted in British culture, and it needed to captivate that audience again. It needed to establish the feel of the show so that its audience would know what to expect and feel compelled to return the next week. However, it also needed to communicate the personality of the new Doctor, so that he felt like an extension of the classic show’s Doctor but still appealed to modern audiences, as well as give him a companion that felt like she belonged with him, without establishing them as a romantic couple. And lastly, it needed to show that it was keeping the whole history of the show in mind while not confusing or alienating viewers who had never seen it before.

doctorwhoroseHow do you do all that? How do you introduce an established, beloved character to new viewers while keeping him relevant to old fans? How do you throw back to 40 years of backstory and lore without losing the audience who knows nothing about it? You do it by telling the story from the viewpoint of the ordinary girl who’s meeting the Doctor for the first time, asking the questions that the audience has about him.  You throw them into a deadly situation where the Doctor gets to show his cleverness, quirkiness, knowledge, and non-violence, but have him get into a state where the girl has to help him win, to show that he’s not infallible. You give him an adversary that he’s met before, so that the audience knows that he has a history, but one that’s simple enough to understand without prior knowledge. And, to tantalize both old and new audiences, you give that adversary a reason for invading the Earth that mentions a war that the Doctor obviously had a big part in – enough to hint at a complete backstory for the Doctor, but not enough to derail the current story. “Rose” established the modern show and Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor brilliantly.

At the end of the season, the Doctor regenerated and David Tennant burst out of the golden glow, eager to fly Rose to Barcelona, but “The Parting of the Ways” ended, leaving the introduction of the new Doctor to “The Christmas Invasion.” This episode did not need to do nearly as much as “Rose” did, as the show was already established as a hit, but it had to convince us that anyone could possibly replace the superb Mr. Eccleston. The episode took a huge risk in hiding the Doctor away in bed for two-thirds of the episode, centering the story on Rose being worried about the Doctor and UNIT trying to deal with the Sycorax invasion. Then the Doctor woke up and stole the entire show.

172Mr. Tennant was the sole focus of the last twenty minutes of the episode, and he established the Tenth Doctor completely. An incarnation with a gob, he had machine-gun dialogue, was knowledgeable about galactic events and species, and very observant, with restless energy. While he wasn’t particularly skilled at physical combat, he made up for it with bravado and incredible dexterity. He avoided killing his opponent and gave him the choice of resolution, but not a second chance. Then, with Harriet Jones, he demonstrated his belief that his judgment is superior, the fury that he often would have trouble controlling, and his capacity for cruelty, foreshadowing his eventual downfall. And, at the end of the episode, he establishes this incarnation’s particular fascination with exploration and seeing new things. This was everything you needed to know about the Tenth Doctor, in twenty minutes.

rory-in-the-eleventh-hour-rory-williams-33471022-944-531Then, a little over three years later, Matt Smith emerged as the Eleventh Doctor, and “The Eleventh Hour” had to do exactly the same thing: introduce us to the new Doctor coming off of Mr. Tennant’s enormously popular run. And it did. This time, we had a new companion to see the Doctor through, a little girl named Amelia, and even she was rather appalled at his childish antics and insistent personality. Then she grew up and encountered him again, and she was unable to relate to him because of his alien mindset, until she trapped his tie in a car door and made him pay attention. But then, under threat of world annihilation, she watched him as he took charge of the situation, analyzing the data before him with mechanical precision, and dazzling the world leaders with his charm to effect the solution. Then, in order to warn the Atraxi off, he confronted them in what would see later was his signature style: a bombastic speech at the center of attention. Again, here was the Eleventh Doctor, spectacularly defined and laid bare for us to see.

And that’s what I’m hoping for from “Deep Breath.” For all that it’s a new season of Doctor Who and we’re all excited for new adventures and companions and universe-threatening situations, what I want from that episode is to walk away from it knowing exactly who the new Doctor is.

Three, no, five more days!

Five more days until “Deep Breath”! Yes, we’re going to see it in the theater. We don’t have TV service (we just don’t watch enough TV to justify that expense), and while I am planning to download the episode from BBC iPlayer on Saturday, we’re going to watch it for the first time on Monday. The theater experience on the 50th anniversary was just electric, and while we don’t expect it to be as wonderful this time, we definitely want to experience the episode for the first time in the same way.

By the time we see it, it will have been exactly eight months since the last new Doctor Who episode, and it’s been a long and agonizing wait. I am very excited to meet the new Doctor and see what he’s like and where he takes us. We’ve been promised more mature and dark, and if it’s fair to look back on old Doctors to pick out traits I’m hoping for, I’d like him to have the Third Doctor’s style and abrasiveness (and physical strength), the Sixth Doctor’s arrogance, and the Ninth Doctor’s disdain. However, I’ll be happy with the new Doctor, as long as he’s the Doctor.

I am, however, a bit apprehensive about this new season. Series 7 was a big disappointment for me, and I’m going into Series 8 with an open mind and as few spoilers as possible, but it was impossible to be completely deaf to all of the hype and there are a couple of things that I’ve heard that have bothered me. The first is the repeated assurance that this Doctor is going to be “dark.” Now, I like that idea, because it always seemed to me that the Eleventh Doctor was pretty much just goofy, with splashes of bombastic thrown in. He was a lot of fun to watch, but he was never a good Doctor in my mind. It will be nice to bring seriousness and severity back. However, the word “dark” has been repeated so much, I’m starting to wonder whether it’s the right direction. The implication is that this Doctor is supposed to throw back to personalities of the older incarnations, but actually, the Doctor has rarely been “dark”: I’d say the only incarnations that have been dark are the Seventh Doctor, the Ninth Doctor, and the Tenth Doctor (in Series 4 and the specials). Since the dark Doctors have been recent, the reaction of making the Twelfth Doctor “dark” is only a contrast against the Eleventh Doctor, and if they consider this such an important point that they need to repeat it in every statement about the series, they’re making me afraid they’re going to take it too far. I don’t want them to change the base nature of the Doctor, the reason why we watch the show, in the pursuit of adding darkness to the character.

The other thing that bothers me is the (again oft-repeated) announcement that this series is going to show that “there are consequences to choosing to live like this,” referring to the companions choosing to travel with the Doctor. The implication is that companions will find that they get hurt (physically or emotionally) and lose things in the course of their adventures. They announced this like it’s some huge revelation that the audience has never seen before, and yet this was the point of Series 1 through 4: all of these series were about the companions and their families getting tortured and torn apart by the storms that accompany the Doctor. It’s the classic show and Series 5-7 that have companions who barely have any lives, families, friends, concerns outside of the Doctor. Again, if they feel that this point, which was made so well and so subtly with the Tylers, Joneses, and Nobles, is so important that it’s part of their marketing, I’m afraid that they’re going to overdo it. One of the weaknesses of the recent storytelling is that they’ve felt the need to announce the moral of the story with big flashing lights to make sure the audience gets it, rather than demonstrating it as part of the story and letting the audience draw its own conclusions, and I’m apprehensive that this is the direction this new “consequences” emphasis is going to go.

So, I’ve resolved to go into “Deep Breath” with an open mind; it doesn’t help anyone to dwell on what might happen. What I’m hoping for is a fantastic Doctor-introduction episode which, like “The Christmas Invasion” and “The Eleventh Hour,” shows us all of this incarnation’s salient personality traits, with a bunch of action and humor on the side. And for future episodes, as long as they have good stories, I’m good with it. Despite my reservations, I’m looking forward to the next season of my favorite show and the new Doctor that’s on his way.

Enter the Third Doctor

The Doctor, the Master, and one of the dodgy monsters from "The Claws of Axos"

The Doctor, the Master, and one of the dodgy monsters from “The Claws of Axos”

We have finally gotten around to watching a few episodes with the Third Doctor! That took quite a while, after rewatching all of the Eleventh Doctor episodes, then getting distracted a bit with other things, then watching some Tenth Doctor (not too much). But we finally watched “The Mind of Evil” and “The Claws of Axos,” two episodes with the Roger Delgado Master.

So far, we enjoyed “The Mind of Evil” more than “The Claws of Axos.” The first had a more interesting plot, and the villain in the second was rather implausible and uninteresting. Unfortunately, both suffered a lot from uninspired direction, with characters standing immobile while delivering their lines, though it was much worse in the second. Another disappointment was Jo Grant, but not due to the actress or character; she just simply was not given anything to do. So far, her job is stand around and wait until the Doctor has a moment to have a deep conversation with her. She’s supposed to be a trained UNIT agent, and she does get one moment in “The Mind of Evil” where she shows her competence, but otherwise she’s very underutilized. We’re hoping this gets better when the Doctor finally gets his TARDIS back and they go off-planet, where there’s no Brigadier, Yates, and Benton to take up camera and plot time.

The Doctor himself has been very entertaining. He’s imperious, disdainful, and arrogant, and he outshines everyone on screen. The problem is that again, there’s so many people to deal with in each story, he’s not onscreen as much as he should be. However, he does have one thing that saves the show: the Master. When the Master and the Doctor spar with each other, the show simply shines. Delgado portrayed a wonderful villain. He’s not campy like Anthony Ainley was (not saying that the Ainley Master was bad; he was wonderful in his own way). The Delgado Master is always graceful and always in control of the situation; when he is defeated momentarily, he acquiesces, because he knows he’s going to get the upper hand in a few more minutes again.

At the moment, I think that of the classic Doctors that I’ve seen a fair amount of (that’s Three, Four, Five, Seven, and Eight), the Third Doctor is my least favorite, but you have to understand, I still really like him a lot; I just don’t like him as much as others. I am hoping to see him become more dynamic when he finally leaves Earth, and possibly when Sarah Jane Smith joins him.

Leading to the drums

s3_e12Lazy and messy are character traits you do not want to combine, but sadly they are prominent in both me and my husband, resulting in stacks and stacks of videos and games in no order, as well as some loose discs, sitting on any flat surface we can find. However, unlike my husband, I have a tolerance limit for this kind of thing, and I hit it on Saturday, and resolved to reorganize the entire mess. I now have all of the TV series videos together and in order, and all the Marvel cinematic universe videos together, and all the anime videos together and in order (not very many, true, but they’re at least ordered now). All of the video games are together, and at least grouped by system. And then all of the other stuff is at least piled nicely on shelves. No, I’m not going to alphabetize them. Only one disc didn’t have a case. (Note: This does not count the Doctor Who videos, which I keep in pristine condition, prominently displayed in order on their own shelves. When we watch one, as soon as it’s done, it goes back in its case, and the case goes back in the right place on the shelves. I know what’s important in my life.)

I knew that the task was going to take a couple of hours, and what better background noise for it than a two-part episode? I rarely watch two-parters (except for “Human Nature”/”The Family of Blood,” which I just have to watch every so often), because for some reason, when I sit down to watch the modern show, I always feel like I don’t want to devote enough time to watch two episodes. Of course, after I watch the first 45-minute episode I choose, I have to watch another, so why don’t I just choose a two-parter in the first place? It’s one of the mysteries of my life.

So, this Saturday, I selected “The Sound of Drums”/”Last of the Time Lords,” a set I haven’t seen in probably six months. It’s one of my favorite two-parters, except for the gnome Doctor at the end (I know I’ve said this before, but why couldn’t they just have relied on makeup and Mr. Tennant’s acting ability to make the Doctor older and older?), but I can overlook that because of the great story and the relationship between the Doctor and the Master. I’m a bit sad that they didn’t get the chance to have more stories with John Simm’s Master and Tennant’s Doctor, because they were fantastic together.

One thing that amazed me about the episode, though, was how much they used the season to prepare the audience for it, without actually letting you know they were doing it. Of course, the theme throughout the season was the repeated mentions of Harold Saxon, starting with his shooting down the webstar in “The Runaway Bride”; the RTD era is known for the theme that runs through each season that you only find out about at the end (“Bad Wolf” in series 1, “Torchwood” in series 2). Saxon is referred to both episodes that takes place in the modern time, but as a throwaway line, until his minions start to work on Francine in “The Lazarus Experiment.” Only at that point do you realize that something’s up with him, but his real identity is not even hinted at until these episodes.

But more than that, so many of the concepts and events in “The Sound of Drums”/”Last of the Time Lords” – and in “Utopia,” the lead-in episode – were explained long before, in other episodes, so that they didn’t have to be explained during the episodes.

  • The chameleon arch was introduced in “Human Nature”/”The Family of Blood,” allowing Martha to recognize the watch that Professor Yana carried, to create tension as she and the audience wonder which Time Lord he could possibly be.
  • The perception filter was first introduced in Torchwood, and then in “Human Nature”/”The Family of Blood.”
  • Saxon sponsored Lazarus’ de-aging research partially to attract the Doctor’s attention, but also because he wanted to reverse it to debilitate the Doctor.

It’s very obvious that the previous episodes were designed to support the season finale, and I’ve always loved how the RTD seasons were planned so that they didn’t seem like they were interconnected but then turn out that they were, with a story that you can only see in hindsight. I think part of it is that I prefer the concept of the Doctor as a traveler who gets into these odd situations and is  just trying to do his best, rather than a mythical figure that everything revolves around. In this particular season, the antagonist was targeting the Doctor, but on a personal level, and only as a small part of his grand evil plan; in the previous two series, the Doctor wasn’t the target at all – he just happened to be the person there to stop the bad guys’ nefarious schemes.

So, next weekend, I need a new task to do while watching another two-parter. Don’t worry, there’s plenty to clean up in our house. Sigh.

 

 

Playing with time

I was looking for a pic for this post, and just had to use this one.

I was looking for a pic for this post, and just had to use this one.

I spent a bit of time last night doing some research on the Last Great Time War, because I’ve got this idea for a fanfic set during the war and needed to iron out some details. I found it absolutely fascinating that I spend far more time researching Doctor Who history, both the lore as well as what we see in the episodes, than I ever did for papers and projects during school.  The same activity can be considered work or play, depending on the context.

I wanted to get a good feel for the history of the Time War, how events progressed, and it was completely fascinating – there’s so much that’s been established that’s not in the TV show (and I haven’t gotten to yet in all the audios). Here is a little bit of the history.

  1. The first event is the Daleks creating a virus that would corrupt Time Lord DNA to wipe them out.
  2. The Daleks then hack into the Matrix so that they can use it to invade Gallifrey. Romana traps them in the Matrix and shuts it down, to trap the Daleks in a time loop.
  3. Narvin (from the CIA), unaware that Romana’s fixed the situation, gets the Fourth Doctor to attempt to stop the Daleks from being created or delay their development.
  4. In retaliation, the Daleks try to create a clone of the Fifth Doctor to send him to assassinate the High Council.
  5. The Daleks then attempt to get the Hand of Omega, to gain mastery over time. They are stopped by the Seventh Doctor.
  6. At this point, the Daleks start the Last Great Time War.

In case you haven’t noticed, point 3 is “Genesis of the Daleks,” point 4 is “Resurrection of the Daleks,” and point 5 is “Remembrance of the Daleks.” Basically, while creating the history of the Time War, the showrunners went backwards and worked classic episodes into the timeline of the war. They’re no longer just random encounters the Doctor had with Daleks; there are now reasons for what happened, all part of the Time War’s history. The way they did this is just so cool, fitting this all in. It’s also wonderful to see the pre-Eighth Doctors having some hand in the Time War (it’s always bothered me a little that the Time War lasted for hundreds, probably thousands of years, but the classic Doctors were not involved in it at all [not that they could be, mind you, from a beyond-the-fourth-wall point of view]). I suppose this is one of the advantages of a show with a long history that deals with time travel: you can manipulate the history into loops, creating an even richer backstory than you originally intended.