by Catriona Mills

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Five: "The Pandorica Opens"

Posted 4 July 2010 in by Catriona

This is bound to be a confusing, fast-paced, and complicated episode, but let’s see if I can keep up with it, shall we?

My peanut gallery is absent this week, because they’ve gone to attend a wedding (which, I suppose, has a higher priority than live-blogging Doctor Who, but I’m sure it was a tough choice).

We open in France in 1890, where Vincent is having some kind of attack. And he’s painted a picture that is “even worse than his usual rubbish.” But we don’t get to see what the painting looks like.

In the Cabinet War Bunker, Bracewell shows Churchill a “genuine Van Gogh” that “is obviously a message.” Churchill says he can’t understand it, but Bracewell says he’s only supposed to deliver it.

Then the phone rings in the Stormcage Containment Facility in a date that I memorised and then instantly forgot (sometime in the 5000s), where a phone rings. It’s Churchill, looking for the Doctor, but the TARDIS had rerouted the call to River Song.

She hangs up the phone looking worried, and then snogs the guard. He says to his fellow guards, as they come rushing up, that she had the hallucinogenic lipstick, but “Your tricks don’t work in here, Dr Song.”

Sadly, he’s saying this to a caricature she’s scribbled on the wall.

Then we flip to the Royal Collection, where River, in a fetching black catsuit, is stealing a painting before being challenged by Liz10: “This is the Royal Collection. And I’m the bloody queen.”

Elsewhere, River is buying something from a blue chappie in an expensive-looking pub.

BLUE CHAPPIE: A vortex manipulator. Fresh off the wrist of a handsome Time Agent. (Sigh) I said off the wrist.

He agrees to sell it for a callisto pulse, which will neutralise the micro-explosives that River’s just put in his wine.

In the TARDIS, Amy is staring at the engagement ring as the Doctor says they’re going to go to the oldest planet in the universe and use the TARDIS’s translation circuits to translate the oldest writing in the universe.

Which, if course, reads “Hello, Sweetie.” And some co-ordinates.

DOCTOR: Earth. Britain. 1:02 a.m. No, p.m. No, AD.

They’re facing a Roman legion.

AMY: Oh, I know. My favourite topic at school: “Invasion of the Hot Italians.” Yeah, I did get marked down for the title.

A legionnaire comes up and addresses the Doctor as “Caesar,” telling him that Cleopatra awaits. He’s smothered in lipstick.

Cleopatra, who is of course River, hands the Doctor a painting, Vincent’s painting, of the TARDIS exploding.


Post-credits, we’re cutting between the three of them galloping horses to an unknown destination—which seems risky, what with rabbit holes—and Cleopatra telling the Doctor about the Pandorica, about the painting, and about the co-ordinates on the painting.

The Doctor says that “if you’d buried the most dangerous thing in the universe, you’d want to remember where you’d buried it.”

That means Stonehenge.

At Stonehenge, River is picking up traces of energy weapons, but the Doctor doesn’t seem to think this is surprising, given what’s buried in the Pandorica. They need, he says, to get under Stonehenge, so River attaches some anti-gravity . . . thingies to a rock and floats it away, so they can access the “Underhenge.”

As they pass into the tunnels, we pan away to see a disembodied Cyberman head.

Underhenge, they come to enormous, barricaded doors, which River and the Doctor seem equally delighted to throw open.

Behind them is the Pandorica.

RIVER: More than just a fairytale.

And a Cyberman arm, but I’m sure that can’t be relevant to the plot, at all.

The Doctor barely glances at the Cyber-arm: he’s all about the Pandorica, an enormous, intricately marked box.

DOCTOR: There was a goblin, or a trickster, or a warrior—a nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared thing in all the cosmos. And nothing could stop it or reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky and destroy your world.

Hmm. Does that sound like anyone you know?

Amy asks how the creature was stopped, and the Doctor says, “You know fairytales. A good wizard tricked it.”

RIVER: I hate good wizards in fairytales. They always turn out to be him.

Amy mentions that this sounds like Pandora’s Box, which was her favourite book when she was a kid. The Doctor seems momentarily alarmed by this, but only momentarily: “Never ignore a coincidence. Unless you’re busy, in which case, always ignore a coincidence.”

More disturbing is the fact that, as River realises faster than the Doctor, Stonehenge is transmitting information about the Pandorica, which means other people are hearing and coming.

River folds the signal back, and we hear the voices of Daleks, Cybermen, and every other race that the Doctor has ever frustrated.

DOCTOR: Sontarans. Talk about cross. Who stole all their handbags?

The music is a bit jaunty here, isn’t it?

RIVER: You can’t win this one. You can’t even fight it. Please, Doctor, just this once, you have to run.
DOCTOR: Run where?
RIVER: Fight how?

She has a point, I admit. But the Doctor just suggests that the Roman army is a good place to start.

ROMAN COMMANDER: I return to my command after one week to find that we’ve been hosting Cleopatra. Who’s in Eygpt. And dead.

River is fairly convincing, though, since she obliterates the Roman commander’s writing desk. I hope his wife’s letters weren’t in there.

The Roman commander isn’t too keen on the idea, but a shadowed legionnaire offers his men.

With the Pandorica, the Doctor is trying to buy some time.

AMY: What good is half an hour?
DOCTOR: There are fruit flies on Hoppington 6 who live for half an hour, and they don’t even mate for life. There’s going to be a point to that. I’ll get back to you.

Amy, though, wants to know if the Doctor is going to propose to someone, and pulls out the ring. The Doctor says no: the ring is a memory. He tries to prompt Amy to use the ring to remember Rory, but she can’t quite grasp it.

He does, however, start to tell Amy why he asked her to run away with him. He gets to the point where he asks her if it ever bothers her that her life doesn’t make sense when they’re attacked by the Cyber-arm.

DOCTOR: Now the robot part is looking for fresh meat.
AMY: You mean us?
DOCTOR: Yeah. It’s like being an organ donor, only you’re alive and sort of screaming.

The Doctor manages to disarm the arm (I kill myself) but is electrocuted by it while Amy is attacked by the Cyber-head. There’s a bit here where the head splits open to show a desiccated human skull that is really quite revolting.

Amy’s doing quite well, despite being drugged, until the rest of the Cyberman’s body shows up. Well, the rest minus an arm.

She locks herself in a tiny room, and though the Cyberman is beating on the door, she seems safe enough—especially when a sword comes through the door.

Yeah, I know that sounds weird, but trust me.

The sword belongs to the shadowy legionnaire, who is, once he dramatically removes his helmet, Rory.


Amy faints at this point.

The Doctor comes haring in, screaming, “Amy!” He seems pleased to see the Romans, but seems frustrated by the mere fifty men that Rory has brought. Rory says River was persuasive, but it’s a tough sell.

DOCTOR: Yes, I know that, Rory. I’m not exactly one to miss the obvious.

And he’s not: it takes him a little while and at least one more instance of him calling Rory by name, but he realises that Rory is actually Rory.

He’s thrilled to see Rory, in a way, but mostly totally freaked out by the mere fact that Rory, in his words, “died and turned into a Roman. It’s very distracting.”

Rory asks if Amy missed him, but luckily the Doctor doesn’t have to answer, because the Pandorica reaches the final phase, and starts opening.

River tells the Doctor that he’s surrounded—as we can tell from the engine noises outside—and he tells her to go and get the TARDIS. She wheels the horse, and she’s off.

And the Doctor heads up to give a speech. I wish I could transcribe the whole thing, but I can’t type that fast. The Doctor sounds distinctly drunk at some parts of the speech, but it’s still marvellous.

DOCTOR: Hello, Stonehenge! Who takes the Pandoria takes the universe! But bad news, everyone. Because guess who? You lot, you’re all whizzing around. It’s very distracting. Could you all keep still for a moment, because I am talking. Question of the hour: who has the Pandorica? I do! Next question: Who’s coming to take it from me? [. . .] Just remember who’s standing in your way. Remember every black day I ever stopped you. And then—and then! Do the smart thing: let somebody else try first.

River leaps into the TARDIS, even though she’s acting a bit oddly.

The TARDIS, that is. Not River.

Amy wakes up from her knock-out drops, and the Doctor, seeing her coming in, tells Rory that he’ll have to be very brave. Rory, not surprisingly, is quite devastated to find out that, firstly, his fiancee doesn’t remember him and, secondly, that this is because he never actually existed.

The Doctor explains all this, and Rory asks how he ended up as a Roman. But Rory isn’t entirely sure.

RORY: And I was just here. A Roman soldier. A proper Roman. Head full of Roman . . . stuff. A whole other life.

He works himself up to a fine point of distress about the whole thing, but the Doctor tells him to shut up and then throws an engagement ring at him.

Rory still wants to know the meaning of his existence. Don’t we all, Rory? But the Doctor says it might just be a miracle.

DOCTOR: Now get upstairs: she’s Amy and she’s surrounded by Romans. Not sure history can take it.

Elsewhere, the TARDIS has landed River outside Amy’s house, thanks, it seems, to a creepy voice intoning, “Silence will fall.” There are the marks of landing pads on the grass—or aerosol, if you want to be uncharitable. (They’re not terribly convincing, it must be said.) And inside, River does the traditional, “walk through the house with a flashlight,” which always bewilders me.

I’d turn the lights on.

River realises that this is Amy’s house when she sees Amy’s childhood toys of the “Raggedy Doctor,” sighing, “Oh, Doctor. Why do I let you out?”

She stops worrying about that, though, when she finds a book about Roman Britain and another of The Legend of Pandora’s Box, which has a picture of the Pandorica on it.

Rory finds Amy upstairs.

RORY: You’ve got a blanket. That’s good. Who gave you that?
AMY: One of the fellers.
RORY: Which one?
AMY: I don’t know. Does it matter?
RORY: No. Forget him. It. Forget it.

Then she starts crying.

River rings the Doctor, telling him not to raise his voice or look alarmed.

Amy tells Rory that she’s crying because she’s happy (and more than a little manic), and she doesn’t know why.

River tells the Doctor about the Romans and the book in Amy’s room. She’s bewildered that her lipstick worked on them, but the Doctor says that they might think they’re real.

And then River finds a photograph of Rory in centurion dress.

Oh, dear.

Luckily, they’re distracted by the TARDIS going wrong. The Doctor thinks that River’s flying it wrong, until she says that it’s the 26th of June 2010, the fatal date. The Doctor tells her to shut everything down, but the creepy “Silence will fall” voice comes back, and River says someone else, an external force, is flying the TARDIS.

Elsewhere, Amy is trying to come to terms with whether or not she’s seen Rory before, when the centurions all shut down and the Pandorica begins to open.

The Doctor tells River to just land the TARDIS, as the centurions begin to converge on the TARDIS and Rory says he’s not going: “I’m Rory!”

The Doctor tells River to just get out, so that the TARDIS engines shut down automatically. We see that the centurions are Autons, as they flip their hands open to show their handguns. (Again, I kill myself.)

River can’t open the doors.

Amy finally recognises Rory, but he’s begging her to run because he can’t control himself.

And the Doctor is dragged along the floor by two centurions, as they say, “The Pandorica is ready.”

“You mean open?” asks the Doctor, who has his back to it.

Then a Dalek voice says, “You have been scanned.”

And three Daleks appear in the room.

Amy tells Rory to show her the ring.

And the Daleks are joined by Cybermen and Sontarans, who say that the Pandorica is ready.

DOCTOR: Ready for what?
DALEKS: Ready for you.

Over some oddly jaunty music, for the second time this episode, Rory shoots Amy (against his will), the Doctor is dragged, scuffing his feet the whole way, towards the Pandorica, and River tries desperately to open the TARDIS doors.

The Doctor, strapped in the Pandorica—and still saying, “And you’ve come to me for help?”, because he’s eternally optimistic—wants to know how all these creatures are working together as an Alliance.

The Alliance think they’re saving the universe, because only the Doctor can pilot the TARDIS. The Doctor says that the TARDIS is exploding as they speak, but they still seal the Pandorica.

And River finally gets the doors open, to see a wall of solid rock. “I’m sorry, my love,” she says, as the engines explode behind her.

We pan up from Rory, sobbing and hauling Amy’s body up in his arms to see the cracks spread, the stars disappear, and the Earth float away alone into the void.


Share your thoughts [16]


Tim wrote at Jul 4, 10:56 am

The Stormcage guards knew about River’s lipstick — you’d think they’d have confiscated it and/or set up more effective countermeasures.

‘Oldest planet in the universe’ seems a bit daft.

Stirrups on Roman-era horses can, I suppose, be forgiven for health and safety reasons. But some of the soldiers’ helmets looked decidedly fourth-century, which should have given the Doctor a clue. ;)

Unlikely that the Doctor and River would have missed bits of Cybermen lying around.

Why didn’t the Cyberhead start off with the dart?

I don’t think the plastic Romans should have made mechanical noises. (I am very sad that they weren’t real Romans after all and that we didn’t get to see a proper swordfight. On the other hand, the Doctor calling them the greatest military machine in the universe is a bit of a stretch, and it didn’t really go anywhere.)

Cracking good episode, though. The Doctor’s speech at Stonehenge is indeed marvellous, even though it’s undercut by subsequent events. Yay for Rory! Yay for an excessively complicated and devious trap planned across millennia! And some great (and some not so great) callbacks to previous episodes! (It strikes me that the Doctor’s words at the end of ‘The Time of Angels’ have come back to bite him and everybody else.)


Catriona wrote at Jul 4, 11:29 am

I thought it was a cracking episode. The one thing that really struck me was the music: it seemed entirely inappropriately jaunty in some places. But that didn’t stop my enjoyment.

Yes, I didn’t really mind the lipstick moment in the Stormcage until the guard revealed that he actually knew about the lipstick, at which point it seemed a little unlikely that they’d let her keep it.

I liked her caricature, though.

I’m just loving River. She’s a wonderful addition to the world, I think, and I love the fact that when we met her, she died, so now we’re experiencing her life in . . . well, not in reverse, but entirely out of linear progression. We’ve rather experienced the Doctor’s life in linear progression (from our perspective, anyway) as a function of the serial story-telling, so River complicates all that in a way that fascinates me.

You’d think they would have spotted the bits of Cyberman, but maybe the residue from the discharged energy weapons would have hidden any telltale Cybermen signatures?

I don’t notice the anachronisms, not in this period. So the stirrups didn’t register with me, at all. (Nor did the Cleopatra joke.) Maybe they weren’t Roman horses? Maybe the Doctor has them stashed in the TARDIS somewhere?

Okay, probably not.

Re. the mechanical noises from the plastic Romans—are these Autons entirely plastic? The guns certainly aren’t. Maybe they have some kind of mechanical skeleton? Or metallic joints? That would help explain the mechanical noises.

Ultimately, though, I loved so much about these stories that I’m happy to come up with odd and probably unconvincing explanations for some little bits and pieces, but nothing really destroyed the episode for me.


Melissa Graf wrote at Jul 5, 01:45 am

I hate two-parters. I should have recorded it and waited until next week to watch it. Argh! Well, at least we know River isn’t injured. I’ve warmed up to her since we first saw her.


Wendy wrote at Jul 5, 02:09 am

I got quite confused. Can you explain to me how if the whole thing was in Amy’s imagination that Rory the Roman/robot thingy was able to kill her? Or have I misunderstood that?
I did enjoy the Doctor’s speech and River is a wonderful character. I still find Amy a bit bland I’m afraid in spite of her snowy complexion and beautiful hair.
I feel a failure with this series…except for the Vincent episode which I adored.


Catriona wrote at Jul 5, 02:10 am

River is, though, trapped in an exploding TARDIS that is currently causing all stars to supernova at all points in the universe, so injury might be the least of her worries.


Catriona wrote at Jul 5, 02:15 am

Wendy, the scenario is derived from Amy’s imagination, but not taking place in her imagination. They’ve seeded England in 102 AD (or maybe a.m.) with plastic Romans (the same type of Autons we saw in the very first episode of the new series) who think they’re real Romans, and drawn the Doctor, River, and Amy there by seeding the legend of the Pandorica through history, deliberately inciting the Doctor’s curiosity. (And by using Amy’s childhood fascinations, I’m assuming they’re hoping to double that curiosity, maybe through the Doctor’s concern with Amy’s apparent abnormality, maybe through Amy inciting the Doctor to investigate this, because it interests her.)

So the scenario is actual enough (in that Amy can really be shot, the Doctor can really be taken prisoner), nothing is imaginary, but it’s based on a fictional premise.

Does that make more sense?


Tim wrote at Jul 5, 05:15 am

I’m a bit underwhelmed by River as a character, but I haven’t figured out why. I like her as an element of the story, though.

> Re. the mechanical noises from the plastic Romans—are these Autons entirely plastic? The guns certainly aren’t. Maybe they have some kind of mechanical skeleton? Or metallic joints? That would help explain the mechanical noises.

Good point. (They didn’t make the noises before activation, but maybe their joints weren’t assembled then or something.) Did they whirr and clank in the Eccleston episode?


Wendy wrote at Jul 5, 05:22 am

Yes it does thank you! I really did get quite lost last night sorry to say. I am hoping all will be neatly tied up next week.


Catriona wrote at Jul 5, 06:30 am

Glad to help, Wendy! The finales are always a bit tricky, because they dial the “complicated plot” setting up to eleven—I never catch everything important in the blogging, I know.

I don’t remember them clanking in the Eccleston episode, Tim, but then I don’t remember them not clanking in the Eccleston episode. But, as you say, they didn’t clank when they thought they were really Romans. Maybe there was some sort of (ahem!) perception filter in place, to stop them from thinking, “If I’m a Roman, why am I making this clanking noise?”


richard wrote at Jul 5, 02:21 pm

I adored this! A real rollercoaster ride, audaciously stretching a far-fetched thread across the whole span of the series. With a little more ambition Craig and Sophie’s call centre could have patched Churchill’s phone through to the time vortex!

Much of the fun was taking what we’ve come to expect – especially in end-of-season extravaganzas – and turning it on its head. We got the big idea threat (“the universe will never have existed!”); a Noah’s Ark of special guest villains; the Doctor’s Oncoming Storm™ speech; BUT: the threat is the Doctor! The Evil League of Evil is altruistic (kinda)! The speech is a bluff (as ever) but this time everyone knows it! Enough exclamation marks!

I loved, in particular, the Cyberman: when has a lone Cyberman posed any sort of a serious threat in the New Series? That one sequence redeems them from their merciless pwning at the hands suction cups of the Daleks, and their unfortunate association with the SteamPunkCyberKing. Mr Moffat even managed to redeem their awful knock-off war-cry with the rather plaintive “All universes will be deleted.”

To me the plot unfolded seamlessly. (Although, funnily enough, the seams on the Roman Uniforms seemed more characteristic of the Byzantine Empire than the Western Roman Empire ;-) ) It was executed so well that I was completely taken in by it all. For instance, I knew Rory would be back this episode (spoilers!), and they showed us the shadowy legionnaire, but when it was revealed to be him I was completely gobsmacked. (And wasn’t that scene played well: suspense, emotion, humour, pathos – brilliant!)

Similarly, the revelation that the Pandorica was an empty cell awaiting the Doctor – brilliant! Didn’t see it coming at all. The clues were there (“One day it would just drop out of the sky and destroy your world”), but elegantly hidden by misdirection (“I hate good wizards in fairytales. They always turn out to be him.”)

You got the thrill ride, but you also got great emotional depth. I genuinely love the interplay between the main players, so it surprises me when I hear that others don’t. It was only a shame that River was off elsewhere for most of the story (as Amy was in The Lodger) – leaving the difficulty, for instance, of building the suspense for three cliffhangers across two time zones via a communicator and some yelling.

Finally, having hijacked the blog long enough, I’m assuming we couldn’t hear the Roman’s earlier auton noises over the inappropriately jaunty music (or perhaps that’s where Teh Silence fell).


Nick Caldwell wrote at Jul 5, 11:45 pm

I did think for a while that the Doctor’s speech atop Stonehenge did cause some of the minor alliance members to have a bit of a wobble – he is the Doctor, after all. Perhaps it even delayed them a moment while they shored up their numbers. On the other hand, they were ready the moment the Pandorica opened, so perhaps they were just having a quiet chuckle in their starships. Nice way to undercut the big speech of the season there!

Richard, I think the Cybermen in this story were actually meant to be the classic Mondasian cyber-variety, but the production team ran out of money before they could redress the Cybus Industries costumes sufficiently. I wish they’d replaced the stupid “C” logo though.


richard wrote at Jul 6, 12:16 am

Thanks, Nick.

I’m sure you’re right about the speech throwing off the minor players. I love his ‘I dare you’ bluffs: to me the Doctor’s at his best when he’s holding off his enemies with a jammy dodger or, by preference, a jelly baby. What we’ve rarely seen before is his enemies bluffing him back.

I also wondered about which strain/universe of Cybermen they were, but the use of “Deleted” – and, in fact, the reference to “All Universes” – threw me.


Catriona wrote at Jul 6, 12:44 am

The Cybermen are a bit of a persistent problem to me. Setting them in an alternative universe was a clever idea to begin with: it set up the devastating ending to season two nicely, and it also gave Mickey some character development, though it was a shame none of that family history was even hinted at until those episodes. But it does mean that every time they appear in our universe, I start wondering a little about who they are and how they’ve crossed the void to get here.

I didn’t think these ones were Mondasian Cybermen (though I could easily be wrong), partly because of the costumes, of course, and partly because, as Richard says, the “all universes will be destroyed” but does rather suggest a cross-void Alliance.


Catriona wrote at Jul 6, 03:05 am

Another thing that’s just occurred to me, in light of your comment, Richard, is that this episode does what so many of my favourite episodes do, and just undercuts everything we recognise about the Doctor.

So there’s that big, gorgeous, bombastic (perhaps slightly drunk) speech where we’re all “Woohoo! Oncoming Storm FTW!” until the final plot is revealed. But there’s also the Doctor’s speech about what’s inside the Pandorica, where he’s presumably drawing on the language of the Pandorica legends that the Alliance have seeded back through time. And the whole time he’s giving that speech, I’m thinking, “But, Doctor, that’s you. You drop out of the sky and destroy people’s worlds. You’re the most feared thing in the cosmos. You know you are, because you’re about to bank on that to talk down a battlefleet—or, in fact, several battlefleets.”

But he can’t see it. Even when they’ve strapped him into the Pandorica, he still thinks they’ve come to him for help. Because he’s so blinded by his own self-image, sometimes, the Doctor. For every time he shows some sense of awareness of his own darkness (like in “Amy’s Choice”) there’s a “Midnight” where everything he is and does can be turned against him so quickly and he doesn’t even see it coming.

It’s one aspect of the new series that I absolutely love:yes, he’s a tall, dark, and handsome space adventurer, but he’s also a bit of a monster, and I adore it when the show acknowledges that.


Matthew Smith wrote at Jul 6, 02:07 pm

Highlights for me were Amy’s battle with the cyber-head and Rory’s heroic return.

I didn’t have a problem with River’s lipstick escape – the guard told her it wouldn’t work “in here”, she somehow obtained lipstick that got around their countermeasures (I can imagine a convoluted way of getting the lipstick using time travel to hide it in the cell etc…). She’s supposed to be a bit larger than life – hence the ability to subdue a Roman garrison using lipstick and a bad cover story.

I’m a bit sick of The Doctor’s overblown speeches so it was good to imagine the baddies tittering in their space ships while he made a fool of himself. They need to get him a new schtick – he never used to brag on so much back in the old days. If Tom Baker were dragged into the pandorica, he wouldn’t rave like a lunatic at them, he’d just do his big scary eyes face as it closed on him and then we’d find out in the next episode that he nabbed the key out of the head Dalek’s pocket on the way past.

I thought the horse-riding scene was particularly dumb and fake – except for Amy’s priceless expression. I think Karen will go into comedy (but I hope she stays with the Doctor for a long while first)

I’m looking forward to the conclusion with a mix of anticipation and anxiety. Anticipation because it’s such an impossible seeming cliff hanger and anxiety because they often balls-up the resolution to the two parters – especially the finales.


Catriona wrote at Jul 6, 09:04 pm

The horse-riding scene was a bit on the fake side, I admit. I’m not normally particularly perceptive about television fakery, but when you see the actors from the shoulders up, it’s quite obvious they’re not actually on horses. (Case in point: Arwen in The Fellowship of the Ring, though her stunt rider was fantastic.) It’s like watching an actor swaying around while “playing the piano,” when it’s obviously someone else’s hands. I didn’t mind the horse-riding scene as a concept, though: it’s nice to see the Doctor having to be a bit low-tech.

I also didn’t mind the speech. In fact, I thought it was marvellous, especially when it was all undercut. It’s true that the original series wasn’t quite so bombastic: the touchstone here, as always for me, is “Warriors of the Deep.” But the original series isn’t entirely without precedent: the Seventh Doctor could work up quite a head of steam when he got going. Usually it was more of a slow burn, like his speech from the balcony in “The Happiness Patrol.” But there’s also, as Nick’s just reminded me, his big speech to Davros in “Remembrance of the Daleks.” (Sigh. Whenever people bang on about the absurdity of the original series, “Remembrance of the Daleks” is always the first thing that comes to mind. Sublime.)

Plus, this is a whole new kind of Doctor. The Fourth Doctor might not have raved like a lunatic when he was locked in the Pandorica (though he did his share of lunatic raving at times), but the Fourth Doctor also found himself unable to commit genocide, despite being literally inches away. This is the post-genocide, post-war, post-Gallifrey Doctor, so I don’t mind a bit of bombast. I do mind sadism and a messianic complex, but we saw those effectively punished at the end of “Waters of Mars,” and so far they haven’t returned.

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