While researching the costumes of the Time Lords last night, I came across this image and I had to share it. It’s genuine and not Photoshopped. Apparently, at some point during his tenure on Doctor Who, Mr. Tennant, the ultimate fanboy, expressed some desire to try on the garb of the Time Lords, and so the production team got one of the classic costumes for him, and this picture was the result. You can see his normal costume under the Time Lord collar thing. This is possibly the most awesome Doctor Who image of Mr. Tennant that I’ve ever seen.
Sixth Doctor released in Doctor Who: Legacy!! I’m stoked. First, it’s a new Doctor, yay! Second it’s a classic Doctor, double yay! There was a Reddit interview that had implied that the game was only going to be dealing with the reboot series for a while, so I am very happy that the statement didn’t apply to Doctors. My understanding is that the Seventh Doctor will be released soon. I am crossing my fingers for the Fifth Doctor in the next couple of months (though I hope he’s not a healer; I expect he will be, though). The Sixth Doctor is a gold character, and his special power is poison – does 3% or 6% damage each turn for five turns. I think it’s a very appropriate power for him.
One thing that I’m glad the show didn’t do is give the Time Lords too much psychic power. As far as I can tell, Time Lords have telepathy (ability to read a person’s mind and/or transfer thoughts to a person), but usually require touching the target to do it. They have some amount of mind control (the Doctor used it sparingly in the classic series, and the Master used it a lot), but they don’t have other psychic powers. The only instance of telekinesis happened when the Tenth Doctor was infused with the psychic energy of all of the people on the entire planet (“The Last of the Time Lords”), and there otherwise haven’t been instances of other Time Lord psychic abilities, though other species have demonstrated them (clairvoyance, precognition, psychometry, etc.).
This is a good limit. The Time Lords are more powerful than humans, but they’re not all-powerful and they’re certainly not perfect, giving them room to be good heroes and good villains. Moreover, even though their powers are difficult to use, requiring physical contact with the target, the Doctor limits himself with his power because he is morally opposed to reading another’s thoughts without a very good reason. This self-imposed limitation brings him closer to us humans, which makes what he is – the lone, vulnerable man doing everything he can to save the universe – even more heroic.
One thing that doesn’t come up much is that the different incarnations of a Time Lord can telepathically communicate with each other. It happens in “The Three Doctors,” and also happens in the graphic novel The Forgotten (though in that case, the separate incarnations were projections within the Matrix). The communication does take effort: in both cases, the all the Doctors had to concentrate to make contact; they can’t read each others’ minds casually. I think it might have also happened in “The Day of the Doctor,” though not nearly as formally. Once Eleven refuses to fire the moment, both he and Ten say that the Daleks don’t know that there are three Doctors now. Immediately after this, War and Ten concentrate, then say
War Doctor: Oh! Oh, yes, that is good. That is brilliant!
Tenth Doctor: Oh, oh, oh, I’m getting that, too! That is brilliant!
Ten already said that having three Doctors was a great advantage, and then he gets the final revelation. It could easily be that they thought it through and figured it out at the same time, but it really does sound like they read the idea from Eleven.
Who knows? I like the idea and choose to believe it. I love it when they use old ideas again, and I especially love it that they didn’t spell it out, leaving it as a fine story for those who don’t know, but a treat for those who do.
We watched “The Day of the Doctor” again last night, to fix it better in our minds and to get the bits of dialogue we missed while the theater audience was laughing or clapping. And I have to say, I still like it a lot. The scene where Ten and Eleven place their hands on the War Doctor’s on the Moment’s switch brings a tear to my eye.
Remember, by the way, spoilers!
Personally, I think my favorite scenes (other than the climax at the end; I always love scenes in which the situation is resolved by the appearance of multiple incarnations) are the ones in which Ten and Eleven play off of each other. The two Doctors are very different from each other, the One Who Regrets being the emo (for lack of a better word) who has been tormented both by the events of the Last Great Time War and, more recently, by the loss of Rose and Donna, and the One Who Forgets being the child who tries to forget the Time War and the loss of the Ponds. At times, they are in opposition, and at others, they are best friends. Either way, though, Mr. Tennant and Mr. Smith work together flawlessly. It saddens me to think that they’ll never be brought together like this again. (Unless the Powers That Be produce specials for them, the next multi-Doctor special will focus on future Doctors, not these. And if they only do this for major anniversaries, it will be ten years before the opportunity even comes up.)
The story was really about the War Doctor’s journey to find himself and decide what was the right thing to do. The Moment takes him to see his future incarnations to see what he becomes, and he sees what look like two children: both young and energetic, with glib tongues and an apparent inability to take anything seriously. The War Doctor is disgusted with them (a deleted scene has him lamenting that they never shut up) and wonders how they ever came to terms with the genocide of the Time Lords and the Daleks; he (and the Tenth Doctor) is further amazed that the Eleventh Doctor has willingly forgotten the horrors of the Time War, because he can’t bear to remember them.
But then the War Doctor watches them solve a situation very similar to his own: when it seems that the humans have to destroy a city to preserve the rest of their race, the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor force a solution in which the two sides of the conflict must stop the destruction and peaceably work out a solution. It’s this act that makes him realize that these two Doctors are great men doing what they must. They both deeply regretted obliterating the Time Lords and the Daleks, but doing so saved everyone else, and they continue to strive to save the universe that they once saved by activating the Moment. This epiphany gives the War Doctor what he needs to make his decision, and he returns to the Moment to do what he must.
The one thing that I didn’t like in this episode was the emphasis on the deaths of the Gallifreyan children. I felt that this plot point was played for its pathos, and ignored all of the other horrors of the war. First, as I’ve mentioned above, the Doctor commits at least two genocides when he activates the Moment. Both the Time Lords and Daleks are wiped out, but the Moment convulsed the universe, obliterating other planets and galaxies: far more than just two sentient races were destroyed. The power of the Moment to do far more damage than just destroy Gallifrey should have been at least mentioned.
Second, the show implied that the Doctor fired the Moment because the Daleks were about to destroy Gallifrey and if he didn’t destroy both, the Daleks would go on to destroy the universe. But this isn’t the real reason. In The End of Time, Rassilon reveals what the High Council was doing during the final attack on Gallifrey (mentioned in “The Day of the Doctor” when the general complains that the High Council is sequestered).
RASSILON: We will initiate the Final Sanction. The end of time will come at my hand. The rupture will continue until it rips the Time Vortex apart.
MASTER: That’s suicide.
RASSILON: We will ascend to become creatures of consciousness alone. Free of these bodies, free of time, and cause and effect, while creation itself ceases to be.
DOCTOR: You see now? That’s what they were planning in the final days of the War. I had to stop them.
The Doctor didn’t fire the Moment just to stop the Daleks, sacrificing his own people in the process. He fired the Moment to prevent the immediate destruction of the universe by the High Council of the Time Lords.
Now, perhaps Mr. Moffat took the easy route with the narrative, since focusing on the children is a lot simpler (and quicker) for the audience relate to than dredging up the complicated backstory last seen three years ago. (Though, one might argue that the children were doomed in any of the three possible outcomes: killed by Daleks, destroyed by the Moment, or erased by the Final Sanction, since the majority of Gallifreyans are not Time Lords, who are the ones who would ascend.) Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to narrative flow.
The change to the end of the Last Great Time War takes a bit of getting used to, but I think it’s great that the Doctor now has something of a quest to work towards. Eventually he will find Gallifrey and bring it out, and then the Time Lords will be back. The Time Lords are jerks. They always have been. They’ve insisted on non-interference in other planets’ affairs and enjoy taking the Doctor to task for it, and then go off and interfere themselves, to their own selfish ends, sometimes on a planetary scale (see Ravolox). When they go bad, they go really bad (see Borusa and Rassilon), and the Last Great Time War corrupted them even more (only two of them voted against the Final Sanction). I can’t imagine that Rassilon is going to be very happy to see the Doctor when Gallifrey reappears.
I’m also enjoying the mental gymnastics needed to really grok this storyline; the analysis has been fueling the conversation between me and my husband for the past two days (one outcome of which I’ll elaborate on in the next post). I find it difficult to really see how the Ninth and Tenth Doctor (and most of the Eleventh Doctor) comes out of the events here. The Moment wasn’t really fired, but up until the events in “The Day of the Doctor” in Eleven’s timeline, the Doctor thinks the Moment has been fired. Whaaa-? I know that the takeaway is “Everything in the last seven seasons of the show really did happen – just go with it,” but I’m a fan of the backstory and I must understand how it all fits together. Yes, I know, this is Doctor Who and it doesn’t all fit together, but I try.
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
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.”)
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
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.
I’ve been trying to stay away from “The Day of the Doctor” spoilers, so much so that I haven’t watched the two trailers and am very careful about what articles I read. My friend told me that the first of the two recent trailers had no spoilers, but my husband watched it and said that she was wrong. We think that she doesn’t really know enough about the Last Great Time War to recognize that the object in front of John Hurt was the Moment, and that’s a spoiler.
Today, BBC released the new mini-episode, “The Night of the Doctor.” Here’s the link, because I really hate embedded video.
I’ve only watched it once, because I’m at work and yes, I’m trying to be productive, but I think I’ll watch it a few more times at lunch. I was very pleased to see the Eighth Doctor again. Not that I know him at all – I saw his movie when it was first broadcast in 1996, but don’t remember a thing about it. It’s been moved up to the top of Netflix queue, though.
I know that people will take away from the episode that it’s now proven that the War Doctor (his name in the credits) is the missing incarnation between Eight and Nine, but the most important thing to me about this episode is the Time Lords. They used to be the custodians of the universe, managing time and making sure everything happened as it should, but this episode shows how far they’ve fallen. They are now as hated and feared as the Daleks. The End of Time showed us their corruption in person, but this episode demonstrates their effect on the rest of the universe – how horrible the war was, and how the other races despised them. And, through the voice of Cass, the Doctor realizes that he must get involved, to right all of the wrongs that his own people have perpetrated.
And it’s the Eighth Doctor who stops running from the war, from the responsibility he has as a Time Lord and as the Doctor, and chooses to sacrifice himself to create a Doctor who can save the universe from his corrupted race. For the incarnation that we, as the audience, remember the least, what an incredible legacy.