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.

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Mickey the Idiot

Watching “The Stolen Earth”/”Journey’s End” last night, I got to thinking about one of my favorite characters in the reboot series, Mickey Smith (played by Noel Clarke). He wasn’t always my favorite character – in fact, I really disliked him early on – but he developed, perhaps more than any other character in the show.

Mickey Smith

Mickey Smith

Mickey started out as Rose’s clingy boyfriend. He had a “thick” air about him, which is something that never appeals to me, but he really wasn’t stupid – he was at least of average intelligence, if not higher than average (he was a bit of a computer whiz, as well as a gamer). The thing about him was that he was just an average, non-adventurous guy that happened to meet the Doctor: he couldn’t handle the thought of the alien Doctor and the TARDIS at first, and he didn’t have any interest in the kind of life the Doctor seemed to live: he refused the offer when it was made. Rose wanting to travel with the Doctor was incomprehensible to him. His dislike of the Doctor was compounded by the fact that the Doctor had no respect for him: the Ninth Doctor routinely dismissed what he had to say, refused to say his name correctly, calling him “Ricky,” and nicknamed him “Mickey the Idiot.”

Of course, the biggest insult was that Rose left Mickey in the dust, running off with the Doctor without a second thought about their long-term relationship. He loved her deeply, enduring her absence of a year (during which he was suspected of killing her), and waiting for her through four seasons of the show, even during the time that they were both trapped in Pete’s World and she ignored him, pining for the Doctor and trying to find a way to blast through the dimensional barrier to return to him.

The thing is, Mickey could have remained a one-dimensional character, following Rose around with puppy-dog eyes every time she deigned to return to the Powell Estate, but instead, he grew. The first time Rose returns, in “Aliens of London”/”World War Three,” Mickey shows his resourceful and resolve. With help from the Doctor, he gains control of a missile and makes the decision to fire it into London and possibly kill a lot of people, in order to prevent a greater disaster. He stands up to Jackie when she begs him not to fire. The Ninth Doctor gains respect for him here, and the nickname “Mickey the Idiot” starts to become a term of camaraderie. Later in the season, in “Boom Town,” Rose summons Mickey to Cardiff, flirts with him and leads him on, but runs off to the Doctor as soon as trouble arises, and Mickey decides that it’s time to give it up, to move on. At the end of the season, Rose resolves to return to the Ninth Doctor, who is facing certain death against the Daleks, and, knowing that if Rose can’t return, they can live out their lives normally, Mickey instead sacrifices his wishes and helps her.

During the second series, Mickey begins to find his own life. He begins to try to do something important with his life and uses his computer skills to investigate possible alien activity on his own. He discovers a school getting record results not long after multiple UFO sightings in the area (this was shown in a Tardisode), and he  calls Rose and the Doctor to investigate, but makes it clear that it was the only reason he called, not some ploy to bring Rose home. Rose, being the heartless tease that she is, leads him on again. In this episode, Mickey realizes that he’s the “tin dog,” the one left behind and not cared about, and he asks to join the Doctor, so that he can see what’s out there. Part of his motivation was certainly wanting to be with Rose, but she, in typical Rose fashion, gets angry with him for responding in kind.

And then they land in Pete’s World. He meets his parallel Ricky and watches him die, and fights the rise of the Cybermen. The trapped Doctor uses the code words “any idiot” to signal to him what to do, and Mickey rescues them all as the Cyberman factory is destroyed. He chooses to stay in Pete’s World to fight the Cybermen, where he knows he can make a difference: he finds his strength as he cuts himself off from the poisonous Rose. He still loves her, but he knows that she doesn’t want him, though she’s immature enough to want to keep him as a plaything.  But he’s still human: when she gets trapped in Pete’s World with no hope of returning to the Doctor, he waits for her to return to him. She, of course, never does, and when the Meta-Crisis Tenth Doctor joins her, he is strong enough to admit that it’s done, and he returns to the main universe.

In a nutshell, Mickey started as a simple, average guy, then, enduring years of emotional trauma at the hands of the woman he loved, became a tough, courageous man who found his own purpose in life. He didn’t start with a strong character – unlike all of the main companions: Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy, Clara – but instead developed completely during his brief appearances on the show. A lot of the story in Doctor Who revolves around the story of the companion, but there are a lot of other wonderful personal stories to follow, and Mickey’s is one of the best.

Expectations, part 2

We started watching “Revelation of the Daleks” last night, but didn’t get to see more than the first part of it. So far, the plot is extremely complicated and we haven’t really been able to figure what’s going on yet. The weirdest thing though is that every so often, this DJ comes on and talks. He’s watching the events of the episode on video screens and commenting on them cryptically using an American accent, usually in some stereotyped style (one of his costumes is Elvis). He’s extremely annoying and his appearances completely ruin the atmosphere of the story. I hope he turns out to be something important, because otherwise he’s terrible.

I was browsing back to old posts and I saw my list of expectations for “The Day of the Doctor,” and I thought it might be fun to see how well I predicted what we might see. So, here we go.

I want to find out the War Doctor’s history.

Check!

I would have liked to see at least one scene in which the War Doctor was actually a warrior, fighting the Daleks, as in carrying a gun like a soldier and shooting them, something no other Doctor would do. No, crashing the TARDIS through the platoon of Daleks doesn’t count.

I want to see the War Doctor fire the Moment.

Check!

Ok, so technically he didn’t fire the Moment, but that was the whole point of the story. The Moment was there and he was going to fire it if they didn’t change their mind. Close enough.

I don’t want to see the Nightmare Child, the Skaro Degradations, the Would-Be King and his army of Mean-whiles and Never-weres, and other previously-mentioned denizens of the Time War.

Check!

On the other hand, I felt the depiction of the Time War was pretty weak: just a bunch of Daleks shooting at civilians. Where was the “war turned into hell?”  I suppose that Doctor Who has never been a truly violent show, but I would have expected Moffat to have come up with some scenes of terror, not just pathos.

I want the Tenth Doctor to have one really good, energetic, Tenth Doctor moment.

Bzzt!

The Tenth Doctor  had three focused moments – accusing Elizabeth I of being a Zygon, threatening the rabbit, and questioning who he thought was the Zygon commander – and he failed in all three of them; they were all simply comedy. In fact, most of the Tenth Doctor’s appearance in the show was only for comic relief. Disappointing.

I want the Eleventh Doctor to remain the focus of the show.

Check!

Perfect and well-done.

I want to see the War Doctor regenerate into the Ninth Doctor.

Bzzt!

Yes, he started to regenerate, and yes, his features started to change, but this is how it really should have been.

Actually, I had been hoping that they wouldn’t show the regeneration and then released a video like “The Name of the Doctor” which showed the full regeneration. I had hoped that while Mr. Eccleston had declined participating in “The Day of the Doctor,” he would have done a small video, like Mr. McGann had done. Oh well.

So there you have it, I got 4 out of 6. Not bad!

From a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint

People seem to be confused by the events in “The Day of the Doctor,” especially the part about how the Moment was never fired and the effects of this. In specific, there are a lot of questions on the internet about whether or not all the events of the past eight years of the show actually happened, and how does the events of The End of Time fit in at all. I think I pretty much understand and accept the new reality, but I decided to try and trace my thoughts through all of it and see if it came out coherently.

First, I want to point at a very famous quote which I think stresses the way we need to look at this issue: “People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff.” (Tenth Doctor, “Blink”) Couple that with another quote: “Every great decision creates ripples, like a huge boulder dropped in a lake. The ripples merge, rebound off the banks in unforeseeable ways. The heavier the decision, the larger the waves, the more uncertain the consequences.” (Seventh Doctor, “Remembrance of the Daleks”) In order to make all of this make sense, we have to view time like a Time Lord does: seeing not only the immediate effects, but the multiple time streams that can branch off from a single action.

The action in question is the refusal to fire the Moment and, instead, call all of the Doctor’s incarnations to freeze Gallifrey in an instant of time. From our viewpoint, Gallifrey stands and the Doctor no longer needs to mourn and regret his destruction of his people. Thus, the Ninth Doctor should not be angry and vengeful, and the Tenth Doctor is no longer the Man Who Regrets. This appears to invalidate the last eight years of the show. I posit that the last eight years of the show still stands, because from the viewpoint of a Time Lord, Gallifrey both stood and fell.

Here’s a visual aid for this. In it, I refer to the Doctors by their actors’ names rather than their numbers. Also, please note that the black arrows are the Doctor’s personal timeline, not the absolute universe time, though these blur into each other for a bit.

The horizontal timeline is the history we have seen in the show since 2005. Eccleston regenerates into Tennant, who deals with the Time Lords trying to come out of the time lock then regenerates into Smith, who will regenerate into Capaldi. The timeline is not to scale, as Eccleston and Tennant together didn’t live ten years, while Smith has lived over four hundred.

Just before Hurt regenerated into Eccleston, he fired the Moment, which obliterated Gallifrey and the Daleks (and a hell of a lot of other planets and species), creating the personal misery of the next three incarnations. In “The Day of the Doctor,” Tennant and Smith return to the Moment, just before it is fired, and with Hurt, come up with and enact an alternate plan to trap Gallifrey in an instant of time, obviating the need to fire the Moment. An alternate timeline is created, an alternate universe, in which the Doctor has no action to regret.

At the instant that Hurt does not fire the Moment, he becomes two people: the Doctor from both timelines. He returns with Tennant and Smith to the museum, but their timelines are not in sync. When he leaves in his TARDIS, the timelines re-sync: one with a War Doctor who fired the Moment (the horizontal line), and one with a War Doctor who didn’t (the vertical line). Neither can remember the actions of the other.

Which timeline does the show follow? It follows the original timeline. Smith went back and changed the fate of Gallifrey, but returns to his own timeline, the one in which it originally fell. He does not become the Eleventh Doctor from the timeline in which Gallifrey survived, and this is supported by the fact that when the timelines re-synced, he doesn’t have memories of a different past than what we’ve seen. (As this would be a huge plot point, I’d like to assume that the writers would have told us this if it had happened.) He does know that Gallifrey didn’t fall, because he knows what he just did.

Meanwhile, Tennant returns to the only timeline he knows, the one in which Gallifrey fell. When his timeline resyncs, he cannot remember what just happened either. You might argue that from the moment that the time fissure started opening, his timeline split in two, one in which the fissure didn’t appear and one in which it did, and he returned to the former, which is the “real” show timestream, thus forgetting.

A few other points about the figure.

  • Tennant appears in “The Day of the Doctor” sometime after “The Waters of Mars” and before The End of Time. In The End of Time, he lands on the Ood Sphere and mentions he had been traveling, one point of which was getting married to Elizabeth I.
  • Some people have wondered where the events of The End of Time fit into “The Day of the Doctor,” so I tried to indicate that. The attempt to escape the time lock could have happened at any time before the Moment was fired.
  • I marked alternate Eccleston with a (?) because I am not convinced that Hurt would have regenerated into Eccleston in that timeline. With the outcome of the war so different, his regeneration may have resulted in a completely different man.

Where exactly is Gallifrey in this diagram? It’s trapped in an instant of time, so it could be anywhere: it isn’t necessarily in either of the two timelines. In fact, I would say it’s outside of both, in its own little time pocket somewhere.

So there. Yes, it’s wibbly-wobbly as well as timey-wimey, but I think it makes sense and explains why we continue to regard what we’ve seen in the show as having happened. I definitely welcome any comments, feedback, and criticism, as I love working through theories like this and would love to see any holes that I’ve overlooked.

My fifteen favorite episodes

Today is the Eve of the Day of the Doctor! I pretty much have to stay off the Internet for the next three days to avoid being spoiled before the theatrical release. I actually considered having cable installed just for this month so that we could see “The Day of the Doctor” with everyone else, but I couldn’t quite justify that expense.

Everyone has been posting their lists of the best Doctor Who episodes, so I’m doing my list, though mine are my favorite episodes, not necessarily the best episodes. For example, I think “The Ark in Space” is one of the best episodes I’ve seen, but I wouldn’t rate it in my favorites. This list is very much entrenched in the new series, because I haven’t seen a whole bunch of the old series yet.

These are the episodes that I like to re-watch the most. I couldn’t pare it down to ten.

15. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang

This episode has three great things about it. First, Rory and his incredible devotion. Second, the time travel loops in the second half that end up saving the day. Third, the Pandorica speech. It’s one of the greatest monologues in the entire show. It’s too bad that the aliens leaving was just a bluff.

Favorite scene: The Pandorica speech. “Let someone else try first.”

14. The Eleventh Hour

I love regeneration episodes. Well, ok, “Time and the Rani” was terrible. But still. This one  introduces the Eleventh Doctor, in all his quirky, chaotic glory. It’s a fun romp, and ends with him walking through a montage of the ten previous Doctors.

Favorite scene: Um, the Doctor walking through the montage of the ten previous Doctors.  “Hello. I’m the Doctor. Basically, run.”

13. The End of Time

I also love direct references to the history of Doctor Who. This show has an incredibly intricate universe, so let’s see more of it! This episode has the Master, the Time Lords, Gallifrey, and Rassilon, maddened by the Time War. Oh, Rassilon, how far you have fallen!

I tried to be honest about how much I rewatch these episodes, so this one is rated low on the list simply because it makes me cry every time and I often refuse to watch it because I’ll be crying for the rest of the day.

Favorite scene: The showdown between the Doctor, the Master, and Rassilon. “The link is broken. Back into the Time War, Rassilon. Back into hell.

12. Vincent and the Doctor

And I love historical episodes. Poor Vincent. Amy and the Doctor really changed his life, even if they couldn’t change his destiny.

Favorite scene: Anything that references Van Gogh’s life and paintings. The re-creation of the bedroom at Arles was fantastic. (This is much like the insertion of Agatha Christie novel titles into the dialogue of “The Unicorn and the Wasp.”)

11. Rose

Christopher Eccleston introducing himself as the Ninth Doctor in a spectacular way.

Favorite scene: Rose enters the TARDIS for the first time and finds out about the Doctor. Rose: “Are you an alien?” The Doctor: “Yes.”

10. The Five Doctors

“The Five Doctors” is not a great episode; the plot is actually pretty terrible. But seeing the four Doctors (First, Second, Third, and Fifth – Tom Baker chose to not participate in this special) interact with each other is priceless, and makes this episode a whole lot of fun.

Favorite scene: The first three Doctors examine the inscription and try to show up each other. Second Doctor: “It’s Old High Gallifreyan, the ancient language of the Time Lords. Not many people understand it these days.” All three of the Doctors: “Fortunately, I do.”

9. Voyage of the Damned

A great adventure episode, and the look on Ten’s face when he sees where the Titanic is going to land is priceless.

Favorite scene: The Doctor promises to save everyone. “I’m the Doctor. I’m a Time Lord. I’m from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I’m nine hundred and three years old and I’m the man who’s going to save your lives and all six billion people on the planet below.”

8. The Lodger

Ever imagined what life would be like if Eleven moved into your house? This is it. Hold onto your hat.

Favorite scene: While there are tons of great Eleven scenes here, I love watching him play football.

7. The Doctor’s Wife

Written by Neil Gaiman, this episode has a great plot and sparkling dialogue, which is what Neil Gaiman always delivers. And it cements the relationship between the Doctor and the companion he’s been with the longest.

Favorite scene: The Doctor finds out who Idris really is. “Ah, it’s my thief.”

6. The Girl in the Fireplace

This episode touched me so much that I actually wrote a fanfic about it – my one and only fanfic ever, probably. The development of Ten’s relationship with Reinette is beautiful, and so sad.

Favorite scene: The Doctor returns to the bedroom to find that Reinette has grown up. “It is customary, I think, to have an imaginary friend only during one’s childhood. You are to be congratulated on your persistence.”

5. School Reunion

I could watch the scenes of John Smith’s introduction to Sarah Jane and Sarah Jane’s finding the TARDIS and the Doctor over and over again.

Favorite scene: Sarah identifies John Smith as the Doctor. “It’s you!”

4. The Christmas Invasion

This episode is excellent for so many reasons. It demonstrates very clearly how lost planet Earth is if the aliens arrive and the Doctor is not there to help. It deals with Rose realizing that the Doctor is far more alien than she imagined, and helps her accept this new person she thought she knew. And it lets the Doctor be the undisputed hero at the end, demonstrating all of the salient points of his character, so that we know exactly who he is when the season preview starts rolling.

Favorite scene: The Doctor’s monologue, up until challenging the Sycorax leader. “Or are you just a kalak pel gahsa kree salvak?” (Yes, I typed that without having to look it up.)

3. Smith and Jones

This is one of my favorite “sit back and hang out” episodes. It’s full of action, great dialogue, and the type of eccentric comedy that Doctor Who excels at. When I just want a quick injection of insanity, this is my go-to episode.

Favorite scene: The Doctor in bed, being examined by the medical students. “Perhaps a visit from psychiatric.”

2. The Next Doctor

Jackson Lake’s story is so tragic and yet so wonderful, I feel compelled to watch this episode over and over again, at least once a week. David Morrissey would have been a fantastic Doctor. Perhaps he will be, in the future sometime.

Favorite scene: The reveal of the new Doctor’s identity.

1. Human Nature/Family of Blood

There are so many reasons I watch this episode so often.  One is Mr. Tennant’s amazing performance as both the Doctor and the completely human, 1910s teacher John Smith. Another is Harry Lloyd’s performance as creepy Jeremy Baines/Son of Mine. And, of course, the story of John Smith, his beautiful life, and his sacrifice to save his village, his school, and the universe.

Favorite scene: The Doctor returning to ask Nurse Redfern to travel with him. This is the first time Mr. Tennant is playing the Doctor, rather than John Smith, and the Doctor’s alien nature is palpable, almost jarring and repulsive.

Honorable Mention 1. Time Crash

“Time Crash” is easily my most watched episode, though I couldn’t include it in the above list because it’s only a mini-episode. Beyond the fact that Ten and Five are my favorite Doctors, the dialogue and comedy are just fantastic. I’ll pop open YouTube any time and watch this really quick.

Honorable Mention 2. Doctor Who Children in Need (2005)

Another mini-episode, this adds a lot to the story, between Nine’s regeneration into Ten and the beginning of “The Christmas Invasion.” Rose doesn’t just accept that Ten is the Doctor: he has to convince her.

Honorable Mention 3. Midnight

I include this as an honorable mention because I love this episode but don’t watch it often because it is simply too intense. On my list of best episodes, it’s easily in the top three, but I can’t put it on a list of favorites because I can’t make myself watch it very often.

Honorable Mention 4. Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways

I’ve actually not watched these two episodes in their entirety more than a couple of times, but I watch Nine’s farewell to Rose all the time.

Honorable Mention 5. Enlightenment

“Enlightenment” is a very surreal episode from the Fifth Doctor’s period, and while it’s pretty good, it’s not great. However, it has this one scene in it that cracks me up every time. The Fifth Doctor and Tegan are attending a reception held by the Eternals, and one of the Eternals is talking to Tegan while Five is standing nearby. He spots a bowl of celery on the buffet table and spends the rest of the scene in the background, covetously inspecting the stalks of celery and eventually selecting one to replace the one on his lapel. I’ll pop in the DVD just to watch this, and even though I’ve seen this scene multiple times, I still don’t know what the Eternal and Tegan were talking about.

Expectations

My husband asked me an interesting question yesterday, one that took me a few minutes to think about before I could answer.  He said,

“Are you afraid that ‘The Day of the Doctor’ is not going to be as good as you expect?”

The thought hadn’t occurred to me before that, but I realized that to answer it, I needed to know how good I expected the episode to be. I am very excited to see the episode on Monday (we don’t have TV service, so we have to wait until the theatrical screening), almost to the point of distraction (in the modern sense and the Jane Austen sense), but how good do I expect the episode to be?

To be completely honest, I’m not expecting it to be good. I’m also not expecting it to be bad. I suppose I’m not expecting anything as far as quality goes. I would love it to be a brilliant episode, but really will only be disappointed if it’s terrible. If it’s average or even somewhat bad, it won’t bother me.

What I’m expecting is more along the lines of what we’ll see in it. This is what I want to see (and don’t want to see) in “The Day of the Doctor.”

  • I want to find out the War Doctor’s history.
  • I want to see the War Doctor fire the Moment.
  • I don’t want to see the Nightmare Child, the Skaro Degradations, the Would-Be King and his army of Mean-whiles and Never-weres, and other previously-mentioned denizens of the Time War. They need to stay in the audience’s imagination, for that’s where they evince their terror.
  • I want the Tenth Doctor to have one really good, energetic, Tenth Doctor moment.
  • I want the Eleventh Doctor to remain the focus of the show. It’s his show, after all. Much as I love Ten, he’s the guest here. I suppose I’m afraid that having to work Ten into the episode will take valuable time and narrative away from the main story, which is Eleven and the War Doctor.
  • I want to see the War Doctor regenerate into the Ninth Doctor.

I really want to see that last one, though it’s highly improbable, given that Christopher Eccleston declined participation in the episode. It’s pretty much already known that the Moment, like the De-Mat Gun it’s based on, destroys the memories of the person firing it, at the very least, so it’s possible the War Doctor will die when he fires it. However he does die, I want to see it, and I would like very much to see the regeneration. It’s possible that they’ve been lying to us all this time and that Mr. Eccleston will appear, for that one scene. It’s also possible that like for Paul McGann, who stated that he wasn’t going to be in the 50th anniversary episode, they’ll release a mini-episode after “The Day of the Doctor” that shows the death and regeneration.

Crossing my fingers.

Figured it out

We’ve finally made it to the end of the free episodes that we can get from Amazon Prime. Now we’re in the long wait until the box set brings the last half of series 7 in blu-ray form, just before the 50th anniversary special. And with these last episodes we’ve seen, we finally figured out the personality of the Eleventh Doctor.

He’s a child.

It became very clear in the episode “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe,” in which the Eleventh Doctor, posing as the Caretaker, furnishes the house to please the children, and does a fantastic job of it, because he thinks like they do. It explains his randomness, the ease in which he gets distracted, and his inability to think ahead, as well as the joyride he took through time, in which he left “Hi Amy!” messages throughout history, and the “I’m not going to save the world anymore” temper tantrum he threw in “The Snowmen.” And it explains why he can’t function without Amy – she’s his mother figure, the person he imprinted on when he emerged from the TARDIS immediately after regeneration. (It was established before that the Doctor imprints on whoever is with him when he regenerates, at least in the new series. The Tenth Doctor had an Estuary accent – rather than the traditional RP accent or Nine’s Manchester accent – because Rose spoke with an Estuary accent.)

And this explains why I don’t like Eleven all that much or connect with him at all, because I don’t really get children, or like them as main characters in stories. It’s one of my main gripes about many anime (Pokemon especially), and the Harry Potter books got a lot better once the main three got to about age 15.

I will admit, though, that the writing for the Eleventh Doctor’s stories got a lot better as time went on. Series 6 was a lot better than series 5, and the stories that I’ve seen with Clara are pretty good. (Amy got irritating after a while. Love Rory, though.)

One thing that does really bother me, though, is the Eleventh Doctor’s lack of control in the face of overwhelming odds.  I refer in specific to the episode “Asylum of the Daleks,” in which the Doctor, trapped in a room with Daleks waking up and coming for him, screams and scrabbles at the door, then collapses. Compare that to the Ninth Doctor episode “The Unquiet Dead,” in which the Doctor, trapped with Rose in a closet with the Gelth reaching for them, declares with Rose that they’ll go down fighting. Eleven didn’t even try to talk himself out of it, as Nine and Ten both had done with Daleks. Granted, he knew the Daleks in the room were insane (by Dalek standards), but other incarnations wouldn’t have lost it.

I saw another interesting comparison to this today, in the Tenth Doctor episode, “42.” In it, the soul of a sentient star is trying to possess the Doctor and he realizes that he can fight it for a while but won’t win.  Trying to keep up the fight, he says to Martha, “It’s burning me up. I can’t control it. If you don’t get rid of it, I could kill you. I could kill you all. I’m scared! I’m so scared!” It astonished me, because I hadn’t remembered any time that the Tenth Doctor admitted he was scared, or any time in which he started to panic. But there’s a reason for it. He’s not scared that he’s going to die – in the his next statement, he’s already trying to set Martha up for his regeneration. He’s scared because if he lost the fight, he would kill Martha and the rest of the people on board the ship. Eleven’s fear was for himself, but Ten’s fear was for the others with him, or for what he will do to them.

And I suppose this is really why I can’t really like Eleven.  In most of his incarnations, the Doctor may be arrogant and commanding, but what truly shines through it all is his compassion and selflessness. Eleven lacks these qualities, and it keeps him from being the truly heroic figure he should be.