by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Doctor Who”

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Two: The Girl in the Fireplace

Posted 24 February 2009 in by Catriona

I feel some sort of disclaimer is necessary. Perhaps I should have made such a disclaimer when I began live-blogging these repeat episodes. But better late than never . . .

Disclaimer: Had I live-blogged these episodes when they first aired, the results would be very different. My reaction to these season two episodes is tempered by my viewings of season three and four, and my frustrations (and, in some cases, my delight) with the way in which characters have developed over the past two seasons. I enjoyed this season very much (well, except for “Fear Her”), but I do see that my commentary might be crankier than it would have been two years ago.

I’m still not finding this Jack Dee comedy very funny. Perhaps if I watched an entire episode?

So this is the Steven Moffat episode for season two? I seriously love Steven Moffat, but I didn’t think this one was as brilliant as “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances,” “Silence in the Library/Forests of the Dead,” or—most brilliant of all—“Blink.”

It’s still great, though.

It’s also running late.

No, hang on: Project Next is asking me if I have an “18—30-year-old outlook.” What the hell does that mean?

No, wait: the palace at Versailles is under attack by, according to the king, creatures that may not even be human.

But the terribly pretty blonde woman whom I may as well start calling Madame de Pompadour says it’s fine: the clock is broken and the only man she’s ever loved (save the king) will soon be coming to help them.

Then she leans into the fireplace and shouts, “Doctor? Doctor?”

Meanwhile, the TARDIS lands on a spaceship—and Mickey is thrilled to get a spaceship on his first go—while the Doctor swears that there’s nothing dangerous (though he’ll just do a scan to see if there’s anything dangerous).

Mickey eyes the starscape outside the window and sighs, “It’s so realistic!”

Then they find an eighteenth-century fireplace up against the side of the ship—but on the other side of the fireplace is another room, occupied by a little blonde girl called Renette, who says she’s in Paris in 1727, while the ship is in the 51st century.

The Doctor claims to be a fire inspector, which leads to my favourite line—“Right. Enjoy the rest of the fire.”

Then, by fiddling with the mantlepiece, he finds himself in Renette’s bedroom, but months later: there’s a loud ticking from the clock on the mantlepiece—but the Doctor notices—while chatting to a not-at-all-frightened Renette—that the clock is actually broken.

He says the ticking is too loud, too resonant: whatever’s making it is at least six feet—and it is, an amazing clockwork man who leaps up like a spring from beneath Renette’s bed.

The Doctor says the robot has been scanning Renette’s brain, but when Renette asks it whether it wants her, it says no: “Not yet. You are incomplete.”

The Doctor tells Renette it’s a nightmare, that even monsters have nightmares.

RENETTE: What do monsters have nightmares about?
THE DOCTOR: Me.

He tricks the monster into coming back with him through the fireplace, and freezes it.

MICKEY: Cool. Ice gun.
THE DOCTOR: Fire extinguisher.

When he sees the robot without its wig, the Doctor goes into full monkey-with-a-tambourine mode, exclaiming about how beautiful it is, what a crime it would be to
destroy it, but that he will anyway—but the robot teleports away.

The Doctor forbids Rose and Mickey to hunt it down (they do, anyway), and flips back through the fireplace, to find that young Renette is now Sophia Myles—they have an enthusiastic discussion that I can’t transcribe, and then she snogs him.

It’s at roughly this point that the Doctor realises this:

THE DOCTOR: I’m the Doctor, and I just snogged Madame de Pompadour!

Mickey and Rose, meanwhile, are traipsing around the spaceship armed with fire extinguishers, and finding that the ship’s parts have been replaced with human organs, with eyes and hearts.

The Doctor is being followed around by a horse, which allows the Doctor to step out into eighteenth-century Versailles, to see Renette and her companion discussing the imminent death of the king’s current mistress and Renette’s ambitions to replace her.

MICKEY: What’s a horse doing on a spaceship?
THE DOCTOR: Mickey, what’s pre-revolutionary France doing on a spaceship? Get some perspective.

I really don’t think, Rose, that Madame de Pompadour is comparable to Camilla, or that their positions are comparable. On the other hand, you are being truly adorable in this episode, so I won’t pick on you.

As Renette stares into the mirror through which Rose, Mickey, and the Doctor are watching her, she become aware of another clockwork robot standing in a corner: the three on the spaceship leap through the mirror to her defense.

Renette orders the robot to answer the Doctor’s questions, and the robot explains that they used the crew to repair the ship.

THE DOCTOR: What did the flight deck smell like?
ROSE: Someone cooking.

The robots are opening the time windows to check on Renette’s development: they want her brain, the final part, but she is not done yet. But when Renette tells it to go, it teleports away, and the Doctor tells Mickey and Rose to chase after it.

THE DOCTOR: Take Arthur.
ROSE: Arthur?
THE DOCTOR: It’s a good name for a horse.
ROSE: No, you’re not keeping the horse.
THE DOCTOR: I let you keep Mickey.

Rose and Mickey are taken prisoner by the robots (and in a discussion, Rose mentions that the Doctor mentioned Cleopatra once, which contradicts her claim last episode that he never discusses his past adventures).

The Doctor, meanwhile, is mucking around inside Renette’s mind, but she reads his mind, too—she pities his lonely childhood, and insists that he dance with her.

Rose and Mickey are strapped to gurneys; they’re compatible, apparently, but before they can be cut up for parts, the Doctor bursts in—“Have you met the French? My god they know how to party!”—with a pair of sunglasses on and his tie tied around his head as a bandanna, singing a song from My Fair Lady and claiming to have invented the banana daquiri.

ROSE: Oh, great. Look what the cat dragged in. “The Oncoming Storm.”

He does, however, manage to release Rose and Mickey, to overcome the robots (temporarily), but he can’t close the time windows—one of the robots is still out in the field. That robot sends a message saying she is complete—that Renette is thirty-seven years old, and therefore the same age as the ship—and that it is time to harvest her brain.

Rose pops into a time window behind which Renette is thirty two, to warn her that the robots will return in five years, that Renette can keep the robots occupied (but not stop them) until the Doctor arrives to help her.

Meanwhile, Mickey and the Doctor have located the time window behind which Renette is thirty seven, and Renette takes advantage of Rose’s distraction to nip through into the spaceship—she goes back to France, though, telling Rose that they both know that “the Doctor is worth the monsters.”

We flip back to the shot from the teaser, of Renette shouting into the fireplace, but this time it goes further, showing the robots taking Renette and the king through to the ballroom, which is full of terrified people screaming.

Renette refuses to accompany the robots, but they point out that they only need her head, and push her down—at which point a whinny is heard, and the Doctor crashes through the time window on Arthur, despite having told Rose that once the time window is smashed, there’s no returning to the ship. And, in fact, we can now see that behind the smashed mirror is nothing but brick and plaster.

Rose knows what the Doctor has done and is, obviously, devastated, but Mickey’s still not entirely sure.

The Doctor convinces the robots that now they are unable to complete their mission, since they cannot return to the ship, they have no purpose, and they all stop working and slump down.

Rose is still speechless, though Mickey hopes the Doctor will return.

The Doctor says that breaking one time window breaks them all, so he can’t use another to return: he seems quite resigned to the idea of being on the “slow path” with Madame de Pompadour, but she takes him through to a room that contains her old fireplace from her childhood bedroom, the one through which they first spoke. The Doctor says that it was off-line when the link with the ship broke (because she broke the connection when she moved it), so it should still work.

It does, and the Doctor finds himself back on the ship—but he tells Renette she has two minutes to pack a bag (while he tells Rose he’s back) and then she’s coming with him.

But when he comes back through the fireplace, he finds the king, who says he’s just missed Renette—she’ll be in Paris by six. He hands the Doctor a letter that Renette wrote, and we hear horses—and see that they are pulling a hearse.

Renette has died aged forty three.

The king asks what Renette says in her letter, but the Doctor tucks it in his pocket and leaves without a word.

Back in the TARDIS, Rose wants to know why the robots thought they could repair the ship with the head of Madame de Pompadour, and the Doctor speculates, but he’s subdued, and Mickey tactfully takes Rose off, asking her to show him around the TARDIS.

The Doctor takes Renette’s letter out of his pocket and reads it.

From the TARDIS console room, he turns off the fire, severing the last link with eighteenth-century France, and as the TARDIS dematerialises, we see behind it a portrait of Madame de Pompadour, and—with the camera moving outside the ship—we see the name “S.S. Madame de Pompadour” as the ship begins to drift in space.

Next week, Cybermen!

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Two: School Reunion

Posted 17 February 2009 in by Catriona

This live-blogging is brought to you by four things:

1. I completely forgot that this was on tonight, and was all prepared to watch the last two episodes of Slings and Arrows so I can return it to Drew this weekend when Nick reminded me that Doctor Who was starting in fifteen minutes.

2. Had I known that Doctor Who was on tonight, I wouldn’t have used my heavy-duty moisturiser, but I did—now I have palm oil on my hands.

3. Nick still can’t remember that the small Tibetan coffee table is kept in the spare room now and has been for a year—ever since I decided that twelve tables was really too many for one living room.

4. I’ve only just remembered which episode this is, and now I’m excited about live-blogging it.

Also, though this doesn’t really qualify as a fifth thing, I need coffee.

Coffee is forthcoming, but meanwhile I’m sitting through the Jack Dee comedy that I’m still not finding very funny.

Feet coming down stairs—ooh, feet belonging to Anthony Stewart Head. I lose concentration slightly, but only a for a minute.

He comes across a sickly child leaning against the wall, and determines that she’s an orphan—at which point he declares that “It’s nearly time for lunch” and shuts the door to his office before we hear high-pitched screaming.

And then the Doctor walks into a classroom and declares, “Good morning, class. Are we sitting comfortably?”

Credits.

The Doctor, wearing his glasses, is teaching physics, but it mostly involves saying, “Physics, physics, physics, physics” over and over, and occasionally interspersing “Correctamundo.”

He has one student called “Milo,” who has knowledge that he should not have, including information on how to travel faster than the speed of light.

Rose, meanwhile, is wearing a cap and apron, and working in the school canteen. They’ve infiltrated the school on Mickey’s advice. The Doctor’s intrigued: he thinks the school should be all “happy, slappy hoodies with ASBOs and ringtones.”

Meanwhile, a sinister teacher is wandering around calling students into “extra classes” and the headmaster is hovering over all, looking even more sinister.

Torchwood reference! Drink!

While Rose is chatting to Mickey on the phone, a barrel of mysteriously labelled oil being manhandled into the kitchen falls and drenches a kitchen worker, who burns horribly and is hustled off into another room. Rose tries to call an ambulance, but another worker claims the woman is fine, even when the injured worker combusts with a scream: “She does that. It’s fine.”

The students in the “special class” are typing improbably fast in a closed room.

And there’s Sarah Jane, schmoozing the headmaster—but she knows that something odd is going on.

Sarah is brought into the staffroom, and the Doctor sees her—and he smiles and blushes and burbles as he introduces himself as “John Smith.” She once knew a man who went by that name, a very unusual man.

Oh, the look on his face makes me smile just to see it. He’s so pleased to see she’s doing so well and just as nosy as ever.

Even on his way back to class, he can’t stop himself grinning.

A little fat kid (why is it always the little fat kids?) called Kenny sees—in the special classroom—a monster who transforms into the sinister teacher, but the teacher simply warns him off.

Meanwhile, Sarah Jane is breaking into the school at night, as are the Doctor, Mickey, and Rose, each of whom have their own tasks. Mickey, of course, talks himself up and is made to look a fool.

The school is filled with strange screechings and flapping of wings, audible even to Rose, testing the oil in the cafeteria. But Sarah: Sarah has walked into an unused corridor—and straight into the TARDIS, which shocks her. But when, backing away from it, she walks into “John Smith,” she knows him for who he is, straight away.

When they hear a scream, the Doctor and Sarah both rush out—and straight into Rose, who’s not happy to see Sarah. Sarah, meanwhile, is overly pleasant to Rose, telling the Doctor that “You can tell you’re getting older, because your assistants are getting younger.”

The scream was Mickey, surprised by hundreds of freeze-dried rats—which allows some further bitching between Sarah and Rose—but when they find all the teacher-monsters hanging upside down in the staffroom, they all leg it.

Sarah says she has something that could help the Doctor—and pulls away a blanket in her boot to reveal—K9!

Hey, K9! The Doctor cooes over his old dog, until Rose snaps, “Could you two just stop petting? We’ve got work to do!”

They all repair to a cafe, where the jukebox is, conveniently, playing “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”

Rose is as jealous as hell, while Sarah and the Doctor sit at another table, the Doctor trying to fix K9 while Sarah tries to explain just how hard it is for a companion left alone by the Doctor.

They could only have done this episode with Sarah Jane—all the other companions died or left voluntarily, except for Teegan, and she did come back before leaving voluntarily.

Sarah explains that she was dropped in Aberdeen, not Croydon, before K9 disrupts the conversation, waking up and saying “Mas-ter?” The Doctor’s delighted: “He remembers me!” Mickey mocks K9’s voice—and later mocks him as “the tin dog”—before Sarah says, “Excuse me, that’s my dog.”

K9 identifies the bat people as Crillotanes (oh, I’ll check the spelling later) [it should be “Krillitanes,” so I’ll acknowledge that but I’m not correcting them all], which the Doctor says is bad: as bad as can be, plus another suitcase of bad.

Mickey has a moment of realisation that he, himself, is a tin dog. Now, I’m going to say this once: Rose and Mickey, you both lay off K9. Now. K9 is off-limits.

Rose and the Doctor talk about the limits of their relationship, which is rather a touching conversation, except that Rose’s indignation that other people preceded her annoys me no end.

A Crillotane sweeps down on them, but flies off without doing any damage.

ROSE: It just flew off! Why would it do that?
NICK: To make a lovely silhouette against the moon.

The next morning, the posse rides up to the school.

The Doctor, sending the others off to their designated tasks, confronts the headmaster at the poolside: the headmaster derides Time Lords as “dusty senators” and “peaceful to the point of indolence,” but says that the Doctor is something new. The Doctor agrees, saying age has worn down his peaceful intentions: “Now you get one warning. That was it.”

Mickey is talking to K9 and mocking himself for talking to a tin dog.

(Rose, I’ll say this once: lay off Sarah Jane. Just, seriously, stop bitching at her. Because Sarah way outranks you on my list of favourite companions.)

Rose and Sarah, meanwhile, are trying to access the computers in the special classroom and comparing their own adventures with the Doctor, and the odd monsters they’ve met:

SARAH: The Loch Ness monster.
ROSE: Seriously?

Next thing you know, they’re mocking the Doctor’s foibles, and when he walks in, they’re in hysterics, much to his discomfort.

DOCTOR: What? Stop it!

While this is happening, the monster-teachers eat the remaining normal members of staff and start the children on the final phase of the programme—except for fat little Kenny, who is trapped outside the classroom but can’t exit the school, because the headmaster has locked it down.

The Doctor realises what is happening.

Kenny alerts Mickey to what is happening, and Mickey wakes K9, asking him how they get into the school:

MICKEY: Do you have, like, a lock-picking attachment?
K9: We are in a car.
MICKEY: Fat lot of good you are. Wait! We’re in a car.
NICK: “Fat lot of good”—I bet that’s exactly what Tom Baker used to say.

The Doctor tells Sarah and Rose that what they are using the children for—their abilities enhanced by the oil in which the chips are cooked—is to break the “God Paradigm,” which will give them access to “the building blocks of the universe.”

The headmaster appears, again, to seduce the Doctor, telling him that with access to the God Paradigm, he could recreate the Time Lords, and keep Sarah and Rose young forever. But Sarah says no: the universe needs to change. And the Doctor heaves a computer through the main display (we don’t know whether that did anything) as Mickey drives through the front doors.

The teachers all change to their bat form—except the headmaster—and corner the posse and Kenny in the cafeteria—but K9 appears, saying to Sarah Jane, “Suggest you engage running mode, Mistress.”

K9 manages to hold them off—though the headmaster tells them to “ignore the shooty dog thing”—while the others barricade themselves in the kitchen—they escape past the monster-teachers thanks to Kenny hitting the alarm.

Mickey goes off the unplug the students, though he can’t get them to listen. The others run to the kitchen, where they find the barrels dead-bolted. The sonic screwdriver won’t open them, but K9 suggests they won’t survive a direct blast. Mickey frees the children by literally unplugging them, bless him.

K9 has to stay behind to ignite the barrels, though it means his death.

DOCTOR: You’re a good dog.
K9: Affirmative.
ME: Whimper.

The monster-teachers arrive in the kitchen, but K9 ignites the barrels, and the school blows up, a series of events that rapidly increases Kenny’s standing among his peers, since they know he had a hand in the explosion.

Sarah is devastated by the loss of K9, and Rose annoys me by pouting when the Doctor puts his arm around Sarah as she cries.

The aliens defeated, the Doctor invites Sarah into the TARDIS for a cup of tea. The Doctor invites Sarah to travel with him again, but Sarah says she can’t do it again—she needs to find a life of her own.

Mickey asks if he can come instead, and Rose once again demonstrates that she really can’t stand Mickey, can she? But the Doctor agrees that Mickey can come.

Rose asks Sarah whether she (Rose) should stay with the Doctor, and Sarah says yes: “Some things are worth getting your heart broken for.” But she says that Rose should come and see her if she ever needs to.

When Sarah forces the Doctor to actually say goodbye this time, he grabs her and lifts her right off the ground in a bear hug.

NICK: Tom Baker never used to do that.

But as the TARDIS dematerialises, behind it is K9, rebuilt by the Doctor and left behind—again—for Sarah: the two of them walk off into the (metaphorical) sunset. Well, K9 rolls.

Next week: Madame de Pompadour!

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Two: Tooth and Claw

Posted 10 February 2009 in by Catriona

Note: This is an odd live-blogging experience. About two hours ago, the server that hosts Circulating Library went down for emergency repairs. It went down without warning, which suggests that there’s some problem in the underlying hardware. This is exceptionally annoying.

I asked Nick what the options were, and he suggested that I simply couldn’t blog it tonight. But I’m quite fond of this episode, and I don’t really want to miss one episode out of the season if I can avoid it.

So I’ve reached a compromise that suits me: I’m live-blogging this in Microsoft Word—which is a whole ‘nother story. I’m blogging it as I would if I could access my actual blog, but it’ll be posted later—as soon as the site is up and running again. So consider this a live-blogging under unusual live-blogging circumstances.

It’s also given me the opportunity to discover that Microsoft Word doesn’t recognise the word “blog.” Microsoft Word is so far behind the times.

That was fifteen minutes ago, and the blog’s still not up.

Here, though, we have a Scottish vista—most beautiful country on earth, bar none—and a carriage crossing the heath.

And monks! Vicious monks, threatening crofters. Damn! Ninja monks. They don’t believe in the hand of God: they have the fist of man—and some excellent bullet time. Was this episode directed by Yun-Woo Ping?

NICK: These chaps are a little underexplained, I have to say.

I don’t think they need explanation, since these guys have quarter staffs, and a giant scary box, which even the head ninja monk seems a little frightened of. We don’t get to see what’s in the box, though the terrified inhabitants of the stately home (or Scottish equivalent thereof) that they’ve attacked do.

The Doctor claims they’re heading for the late 1970s, for which he thinks Rose is over-dressed in her cut-off overalls and dusty pink T-shirt. Of course, it’s unlikely to end that way—they seem to be listening to Ian Durie, by the way. And the Doctor loves the Muppet movie, but hates Margaret Thatcher.

Instead, they’ve landed in Scotland in 1879—and there’s David Tennant’s real accent (and the Robbie Burns quote). Rose, on the other hand, is firmly instructed not to attempt a Scottish accent.

The Doctor trained under Doctor Bell? Ha! (That would be the model for Sherlock Holmes, for those of you who don’t read Golden Age detective fiction.) On the other hand, that’s Queen Victoria. Nick and I are secretly quite fascinated by the fact that Doctor Who keeps coming back the Victorian era. But I don’t really have time for that angle right now.

Instead, they’re heading to the house of a Sir Robert McTeesh (and I’m sure I haven’t got that right) [it’s “MacLeish,” as it turns out. I checked later. So I was close. In a manner of speaking], thanks to a tree across the train lines (which the queen is suspicious about), which has prevented them getting to Balmoral.

Sir Robert, of course, is the man whose house has just been overtaken by ninja monks.

Meanwhile, Rose bets the Doctor ten quid she can make the queen say “We are not amused.” (She tried for five quid, but the Doctor said at that price it would be against his responsibilities as a time traveller.)

Wait, Sir Robert’s estate is called Torchwood? Now, I bet that’s not a coincidence.

There’s a running joke about Rose’s relative nakedness, but I’ve not had a chance to reproduce any of that. Funny, but mostly because of the delivery.

Sir Robert’s wife is super pretty, but she’s not happy with the guy in the mysterious crate, who we see shushing the terrified group. (Apparently, David Tennant went to acting school with the chap in the crate, who was a bit weird even then.)

Meanwhile, the Doctor’s being shown a gorgeous steampunk telescope—Rose is still trying to get the queen to say, “We are not amused.” This is starting to annoy me, actually. The Doctor thinks the telescope is rubbish as a telescope, but beautiful. It is truly beautiful.

There’s a local myth about a wolf that fascinated Prince Albert, but before Sir Robert can explain the story, the head ninja monk, now masquerading as a butler, cuts him off. There’s something mysterious being done in the kitchen by numerous semi-identical monks, involving herbs, which they then feed to the queen’s soldiers.

Who promptly collapse.

Well, they’re not getting their Christmas bonuses.

Rose, meanwhile, is hearing about the problems in the house, the over-running by the ninja monks, from a terrified housemaid called Flora. She convinces Flora to tell the Doctor, but they come across the drugged soldiers in the interim, and are snatched by ninja monks.

The Doctor is told that Rose has been delayed by the complexities of nineteenth-century clothing, which the Doctor finds convincing.

Hang on, my server’s back up! I’ll cut and paste.

Ah, now this is proper live-blogging. Hurray!

(The fact that Nick didn’t tell me the server was back up is another story.)

(I’ve missed the queen talking about missing Albert.)

Rose is now with the other prisoners—and we see the terrifying eyes of the creature in the crate—while Sir Robert tells the story of the local legend of the wolf. Rose, showing the bravery we see in other episodes, approaches the crate, recognising the content as not human. Well, the boy in the crate is human, but something else has taken a local boy, a “heartsick boy,” and taken over his body.

And the Doctor mentions the word “werewolf” for the first time.

Rose offers to take the werewolf—the essential wolf—back to its home planet, but it wants to take over the queen, and begin “the Empire of the Wolf.”

The wolf, meanwhile, recognises something of a kindred spirit in Rose, presumably a hangover from the Bad Wolf events of last season.

Sir Robert is trying to warn the Doctor of the nature of the ninja monks—that they turned from God and worship the wolf.

Meanwhile, the moon has risen, and the creature in the crate is changing. Rose is trying to motivate the prisoners to pull simultaneously on the chain holding them, though they are, not surprisingly, distracted by the man turning into a werewolf in front of them.

The ninja-monk-butler openly admits to wanting the throne, and kills the queen’s last bodyguard—just as Rose and the prisoners release themselves, as the Doctor leaps into the room and, seeing the werewolf, proclaims, “That’s beautiful!”

(It is, in a way. The transition looked intensely painful: I can’t blame the prisoners for being distracted.)

The queen has her own pistol, though I doubt it would work against a werewolf. We don’t get to see how it works against a ninja-monk-butler, whom she shoots.

The werewolf, meanwhile, is roaming the house, entirely comfortable in its plan to kill everyone. The house is ringed with ninja-monks, by the way. The Doctor tries to convince the man I called the crofter earlier—who is, of course, the steward of Torchwood, though whether the house steward or the land steward is another story. I’m betting house steward—that the werewolf is not that easy to kill, but the steward goes ahead and is grotesquely eaten.

The werewolf enters the kitchen where Sir Robert’s wife is hiding with the maids, but disappears without eating them, which is odd and suggestive.

Oh, apparently ninja-monk-butlers are susceptible to bullet wounds.

Much frenetic running through the house ensues.

Hang on, there’s a soldier still alive and conscious. Where’d he come from? Anyway, he plans to hold the corridor, despite knowing that bullets can’t stop the beast, to give the queen time to get away. He’s eaten horribly, as well—after talking to the queen about the mysterious content of the chest she brought with her in the carriage.

The werewolf is stopped by the door to the library, for some reason. The Doctor is uncertain why, though they all look quite relieved not to be eaten. The Doctor, of course, is overtaken with intellectual curiosity about why the werewolf can’t enter the room.

(Oh, and there’s some indiscriminate hugging, going on. And Rose tries to make the queen say she’s not amused, but now is really not the time.)

The queen seems to have lost faith in the Doctor, partly because of his gobbledegook but mostly because he’s dropped out of the Scottish accent at some point.

The Doctor and Sir Robert’s wife both realise that the wolf won’t touch or pass mistletoe—the wife sees the monks garlanded in mistletoe, while the Doctor has to lick a door. I know which one I’d rather be.

(The Doctor suggests that the wolf only thinks it’s allergic to mistletoe, a belief instilled by the monks as a means of controlling it.)

The Doctor’s also quite rude to Sir Robert, although it seems a little unnecessary. Even if he’s not as bright as his father, that’s hardly his fault. He, Rose, and Sir Robert flip frantically through the books in the library, looking for information they can use.

The queen, meanwhile, whips the Koh-i-noor out of her pocket. The Doctor wonders why she’s carrying it with her, and the queen acknowledges that Prince Albert never liked it. The Doctor knows that Prince Albert had the stone cut down by 40%, which seems a shame.

This sets the Doctor off. He knows the wolf is trying to trap the queen in the house, but the Doctor thinks that Sir Robert’s father and Prince Albert may have planned a counter trap for the wolf, which conveniently falls through a skylight at that point, but is doused with mistletoe-infused water by Isabel (finally, we get a name for Sir Robert’s wife).

The party head towards the conservatory, followed closely by the recovered wolf.

Sir Robert stays outside, hoping to buy them some time and, perhaps, to absolve himself of his sense that he has committed treason. Luckily, he has some swords stored on the wall outside the observatory, but that doesn’t seem to have helped him last long against the wolf. He dies off-screen, but I’m not too worried about that in this context.

(Remember, he’s one of the people the Doctor flashes back to in the final episode of season four.)

Meanwhile, the Doctor has put the diamond in the telescope, magnifying the light in some way I don’t understand and using it against the wolf right as it grabs the queen. (The question of why the queen was standing right in front of the door instead of at the far end of the room, when they knew she was the target, goes unanswered.) The telescope immobilises the beast, who transforms to human shape, begs for the light to be made brighter, and disappears with a howl.

The queen has been bitten, but she won’t acknowledge it.

The queen knight the Doctor and makes Rose a dame, but simultaneously banishes the Doctor from her empire, never to return. She claims that they consort with stars and magic and think it fun, but their world is steeped in terror, and blasphemy, and death. She won’t allow it. (She’s also not amused, so Rose wins her bet.)

I’d like to see some pay-off to the Doctor being banished, myself.

The Doctor, meanwhile, indulges in some entirely scurrilous rumours about Queen Victoria’s haemophilia. I’m no expert, but my understanding is that you don’t actually have to inherit haemophilia: it can be caused by a mutation in a single individual, who then becomes a carrier of the disease, passing it on to their descendants.

But I’m not getting into a debate about Queen Victoria’s haemophilia.

The queen, finally, founds Torchwood in remembrance of Sir Robert and to guard against the Doctor’s return. I wonder if there’ll be any pay-off for that?

And next week, Sarah Jane comes back! Hurray! I hope the server doesn’t go down next week, as well.

Live-blogging Doctor Who, Season Two: New Earth

Posted 3 February 2009 in by Catriona

This live-blogging extravaganza brought to you by the fact that I still don’t know how to turn my television on (and we must have owned it for nearly a year) and by the fact that I forgot to unplug my external mouse from the laptop before moving it into the living room, causing wackiness to ensue.

Oh, and by the mysterious person on my television who looks almost exactly like Marcus Grahame in a low light but who is apparently Jack Dee, British comedian.

He doesn’t seem very funny, judging from the ten minutes of the programme I’ve just seen.

In other news, I know it’s been nearly eight years, Aaron Sorkin, but I still haven’t forgiven you for killing off Mrs Landingham just to give the President a reason to run for a second term.

I’m sure the episode will begin airing soon.

. . .

Ah! Here we are! That’s a man in a pin-striped suit turning dials in the TARDIS—yes, that’s the Doctor, all right. While Rose, outside, is once again demonstrating that she really doesn’t seem to like Mickey, at all.

And yet it’s Mickey who waits and watches for the TARDIS to leave: Jackie, who knows how things are going to go, is already walking away when it dematerialises.

And, credits!

The Doctor and Rose land on a mysterious planet in the year five billion and three. Which is just silly. And there’s New Earth—complete with apple grass. And Rose is being slightly odd in this scene . . . I can’t explain why.

And she’s being watched by a strangely tattooed man, who is keeping an eye on her through a crystal ball. Well, it looks like a crystal ball.

The Doctor is explaining about the Earth-nostalgia movement and how New Earth and New New York came about: they’re very flirty in this scene, but the Doctor is easily distracted by the hospital and the message he’s received on the psychic paper. Someone in Ward 26 wants to see him.

The Doctor, on the other hand, is showing his first obsession with the little shops that you find in hospitals (and, later, libraries).

Ah, the disinfectant scene. I’m quite partial to this scene. Rose settles down into it soon enough, and she’s really having fun in this episode, Billie Piper.

Though that’s not Ward 26—and Rose isn’t stupid (though, as Nick says, she can be bloody annoying), or she wouldn’t have picked up that metal pole. Did I mention that the nurses are giant humanoid cats? Because it seems as though that would be an important thing for me to say.

The Doctor has found the patient he has come to visit: the Face of Bo, asleep in his jar, alone with the novice who is taking care of him. The Face of Bo sleeps most of his time, these days—the Doctor claims that he only met the Face of Bo once, but those of us who have seen later episodes have our own suspicions about that.

And Rose has wandered into a different place, playing endless movies of someone she rapidly identifies as Lady Cassandra—and his tattooed human, Chip, who is a “force-grown clone.”

Ew, they salvaged her eyes? That’s . . . well, that’s not quite right, is it? Or am I being human-normative?

Well, Rose isn’t human-normative, although she did seem hung up on the whole “human” thing in the last episode—just because the Doctor can regenerate, and grow new limbs, and has two hearts, you’d think that was odd in some way.

While I’ve been nattering on about that, though, the Lady Cassandra has been transferring herself into Rose’s body: she’s quite manic in this role, Billie Piper.

ROSE/CASSANDRA: Oh my god: I’m a chav!

Flipping back to the Doctor and the Face of Bo, the novice is explaining some of the legends around the Face of Bo, especially the imparting of his last message to the lonely god. (Hint: we know what that is!)

I do laugh every time Rose/Cassandra describes herself as “living inside a bouncy castle.” And her attempts at doing “old Earth cockney.” Apples and pears? Hee!

Hang on, the Duke of Manhattan got better! I thought that petrifold regression wouldn’t be curable for another thousand years? Did I mention the Duke of Manhattan before? It’s terribly difficult to keep track of all the plot points.

(Would the Doctor honestly say, “How on earth . . .?” Wouldn’t it be more likely that he’d say, “How on Gallifrey?”)

ROSE/CASSANDRA: Never trust a nun, never trust a nurse, and never trust a cat.
NICK: These are the archest cats ever!
ME: Have you ever met a cat?

I admit, though, that these cats are creepy. Or should I say these nuns are creepy? Anyway, they’re (wow! Cassandra shows much more decolletage than Rose does) performing cures well ahead of their time, and keeping people in cells in the basement, not to mention incinerating them when they show signs of sentience.

Rose, in the interim, has found the Doctor and, seeing his new face, enthusiastically snogged him, to the apparent satisfaction of both of them. Is it just me, or does David Tennant look insanely young in this episode? Maybe it’s the relatively short hair.

The Doctor, working with advice that, coming from Rose, should make him highly suspicious, has found his way to what the nurses call “intensive care,” which is full of people suffering, apparently, every single disease in the galaxy. Which seems a little improbable to me, but what do I know?

The Doctor recognises immediately that these are not patients, but lab rats.

Ah! Rose asks the same questions as I do, and the Doctor (non)answers that plague carriers are always the last to die.

Now the Doctor is shouting at a poor novice—at least, I think she’s the novice. I find it hard to tell the nun-cats apart—who probably doesn’t actually have an active role in hospital administration. Shouldn’t he be shouting at the abbess? Or matron? Or whatever she is?

Meanwhile, the Doctor decides at this point to reveal that he knows there’s something wrong with Rose—apparently not because she snogged him while Rose has been shilly-shallying around for months, but because she doesn’t care about all these sick people.

Cassandra, however, only toys with him for a very short period of time before knocking him out with her perfume. That’s not a euphemism, by the way.

Cassandra is planning on infecting the Doctor with all the diseases that the poor people in the cells in intensive care are suffering—they’re “topped up” every ten minutes, and the Doctor’s been shoved into a spare cell.

The nurses, though, aren’t susceptible to Cassandra’s attempted extortion, and she releases all the ill patients on her level—who rapidly release every single person in intensive care.

(I wish the nun-cats wouldn’t call them “the flesh.” It’s . . . it’s just creepy.)

Nick’s of the opinion that releasing “the flesh” worked better as a threat than as “Plan B,” and I have to agree with him. Especially since these zombie people can infect you with every disease under the sun with just one touch.

There’s a lot of infecting, and running, and screaming at this point, so I’m going to ask two questions (Chip looks like dying, by the way, but he jumps in a barrel of waste):

a. How do they harvest the samples from these patients, if they can’t touch them?
and
b. How can these nun-cat nurses isolate the required antibodies to treat a particular disease, if the patients are simultaneously suffering from all of these disease?

Anyway, back in the episode, Cassandra is now in the Doctor’s body, but his taunting of Rose (“So many parts! And hardly used!”) is brought to an abrupt end by the arrival of the zombie patients.

Poor Chip, meanwhile, is stuck in one of the cells formally occupied by the zombie patients. And Rose has a psychotic nun-cat hanging off her ankle—but the nun-cat is infected by one of the zombie patients, without transferring the diseases to Rose. I’m not sure how—presumably Rose is wearing socks?

After a little back and forth, Rose manages to transfer herself to a zombie patient climbing up after Rose and the Doctor, but frantically sends herself back into Rose before the patients reach the top of the ladder—Cassandra experiences something usually described as a “character moment” before she and the Doctor reach the safer, quarantined sections in the general wards.

The Doctor calls for the intravenous solutions to every single disease, and straps them around his body before ravelling down the elevator shaft. He’s a busy little bee, this Doctor. And he talks Cassandra into going with him.

(Another question: Cassandra needed complicated technology to transfer herself into Rose’s mind, but once it’s been done once, she can just flip between people’s brains without any technological intervention and with no side effects?)

The Doctor, meanwhile, is mixing up his chemicals in the lift, and inducing the zombie patients to come into the lift for the disinfectant process—where they’re cured and can then pass the cure on to others by touch.

Wait, what?

Surely intravenous drugs don’t cure when they pass through the skin, do they? If they did, why would they be called intravenous drugs?

And, then, how can intravenous drugs and cures to horrible diseases that take at least two days to cure in the wards (as the Doctor mentioned in an earlier case, though I’ve forgotten its name already. Not the petrifold regression: another one) occur immediately?

Oh, I’m sure it’s not important.

But it is another instance of the Doctor becoming complicated with the idea of a medical Doctor, which Nick finds fascinating.

Meanwhile, the Face of Bo is feeling better, and tells the Doctor that they will meet again, for the third and final time, when he will impart his message, and then teleports off.

DOCTOR: Now that is enigmatic. That is . . . that is textbook enigmatic.

Cassandra, meanwhile, transfers into Chip’s body, but it’s all too much for him. He only has a half life, apparently, and presumably the excitement of hosting his “mistress,” who he loves, is too much for him.

So the Doctor bundles him into the TARDIS and takes him back to the party for the Thracian ambassador, the video of which Cassandra was watching earlier in the episode. She said, then, that it was the last night that someone told her she looked beautiful—and Chip/Cassandra wanders up to his/her older self, and tells her that she looks beautiful, and then collapses.

It’s rather sweet—but also strangely narcissistic. Although, since the original Cassandra doesn’t know that she’s speaking to herself, does that count as narcissism?

Either way, the Doctor and Rose wander silently into the TARDIS and off to their next adventure—which is “Tooth and Claw,” starring David Tennant’s actual Scottish accent! Hurray!

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