by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Doctor Who”

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Six: "The Wedding of River Song"

Posted 10 October 2011 in by Catriona

So here we are for the last episode of season six, and the last in a woefully delayed series of live-blogs. I’ve already made four typos (no, make that eight: I mistyped “typos” three times” and “no” once), which bodes well for the rest of this live-blogging.

Thank goodness it’s not actually live. (And there are typos nine to twelve. Actually, make that nine to sixteen.)

I’m going to stop counting my typos now (ironically, the first sentence I’ve typed without typos all live-blog).

Previously, the Doctor talks to a baby, and River is forced into an astronaut’s suit. Also, there are robots operated by tiny people.

In London, in 2011, there are steam trains. Also dirigibles. Dirigibles are cool now. Pterodactyls are less cool, but there are those, too. And Romans chariots. And Romans. The War of the Roses has entered its second year. And Dickens is on morning television. Winston Churchill is Holy Roman Emperor, and has his own mammoth.

I would like my own mammoth.

Churchill’s personal doctor is a Silurian, but he’s surprised that Churchill wonders why the time and date never change. Churchill’s bothered by this, and calls for his soothsayer, whom he’s previously thrown in the Tower.

Hand’s up who wasn’t surprised that the soothsayer was the Doctor?

CHURCHILL: Explain to me in terms I can understand. What happened to time?
DOCTOR: A woman.

Oh, Moffat. I love you, but sometimes I wonder why.

Credits!

Earlier, the Doctor is doing a voiceover. He’s also wearing a cowboy hat. And he’s taunting a Dalek. But it’s a bit safe, because the weapons system has been disabled. The Doctor’s looking for information—everything the Daleks know about the Silence. And it leads him to a place that I’m pretty sure was called Calisto Something-or-other, but I was typing and not really paying attention.

Either way, it’s the home space of someone who used to be an envoy of the Silence, but has been dead for six months. This Gideon is a robot powered by tiny people, which delights the Doctor as much now as it did in “Let’s Kill Hitler.”

The Doctor wants the Gideon-robot to tell him the Silence’s weakest link, and, oddly enough, the weakest link is playing Live Chess.

It’s live because there are massive electrical currents running through the pieces.

DOCTOR: I was going to lie down and take it. But, you know, before I do, I’d like to know why I have to die.

The Doctor concedes the game, and his opponent takes him to a place with horrifically animated skulls. And, really, being beheaded alive isn’t really enough of an explanation for why these skulls are still alive and surviving on a diet of rats.

But some heads are in boxes, if you’re rich enough to afford it, and the big blue guy from last season’s cliffhanger is rich, so he’s in a box.

Also, the Doctor’s chess opponent is being eaten alive by skulls, but this is a pretty fast-paced episode, so let’s leave it with the Doctor’s friendly chat with blue Dorian’s head.

Churchill isn’t really comfortable with this episode, and I’m not surprised.

Dorian’s not bothered by his situation, because he has a media chip in his head and excellent wi-fi, but the Doctor’s already moved on from that.

On the fields of something unspellable, at the fall of the eleventh (the Eleventh?), when no one can fail to speak or fail to speak the truth, the question will be asked. And that’s why the Doctor has to die. Because the Silence cannot have that question answered, or Silence will fall.

Dorian tells the Doctor the question, but we don’t hear it. We do see the Doctor run off with Dorian’s head in a box, as the head in a box tries to convince him that now he knows what the question is, he knows why he has to die.

Churchill also thinks that the Doctor should die. And even the Doctor seems a bit resigned to this.

Yet the really curious thing is that the Doctor and Churchill are now in the Senate chamber, though they don’t remember leaving Churchill’s office, and the Doctor has mysterious marks on his arms.

Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor wants to know why he has to die in Utah, but Dorian says it’s a still point in time, which makes it easier to create a fixed point in time. But the Doctor says he has a time machine, and he can go anywhere he likes. He’s on the phone, as though to prove this.

DOCTOR: I can go on all Jack’s stag parties in one night.

But he can’t see Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, because the nurse on the other end of the phone says that the Brigadier died some months ago. They’re sorry, but they didn’t know how to get in touch with the Doctor.

Whimper.

This is the breaking point for the Doctor.

He asks the robot powered by tiny little people to deliver his last messages (ominous blue envelopes) to his friends. The robot asks if there’s anything else it can do, but the Doctor doesn’t answer. He’s talking to Churchill, who wonders why he wanted his friends to see his death.

DOCTOR: Amy and Rory. The Last Centurion and the Girl Who Waited. However dark it got, if I turned round, there they’d be.

This Doctor reminds me of the Seventh Doctor in the strength and openness of his faith in his companions.

But I’m running behind the narrative, because now River has risen from the lake in her astronaut suit. She tells the Doctor that she can’t fight it and she can’t stop it, because the suit is in control. He reassures River, saying she won’t even remember this. He even points out that River from the future is watching his death, “So that you know that this is inevitable and you are forgiven. Always and completely forgiven.”

He says goodbye to River, as she raises her weaponry. But he doesn’t die, and he seems a bit surprised by that. This is, after all, a fixed point in time.

RIVER: Fixed points can be re-written.
DOCTOR: No, they can’t. Of course they can’t. Who told you that?

And now we’re back with Churchill, who wonders why the Doctor has never heard of downloads. But that’s not important. What’s important is that the invisible Silence creatures are clustered on the ceiling, and things are not looking good for our plucky heroes.

Until Amy Pond turns up.

But no: she’s wearing an eye-patch. That’s not good. Only evil people wear eye-patches. And that seems borne out by the way she knocks the Doctor out.

But then he wakes up again. And he’s on a chaise longue. Chaise longues aren’t evil, are they?

Turns out they’re not. This Amy’s not evil. She has all the old memories of the Doctor, but she’s still wearing an eye-patch.

(I like the little joke about the Doctor looking great in his toga. Oh, Amy and your soft spot for Italians.)

Amy is a secret-agent lady now, and she has an office on a train. The Doctor wants to know where Rory is, but Amy, showing the Doctor an idealised portrait of Rory, says that she doesn’t know.

AMY: I can’t find him but I love him very much, don’t I?
DOCTOR: Apparently.

Luckily, he turns up then as “Captain Williams”. Bless Rory. How did he become so sexy?

They’re heading for Cairo and also there was some important stuff about how time is fracturing, but I didn’t live-blog it because it was complicated and not as funny as the bits I did blog.

Then the train runs into a pyramid. This almost makes up for the lack of that Christmas special about an Egyptian goddess loose on the Orient Express in space.

One day, I will learn how to spell “Egyptian”.

Inside the pyramid are roughly one hundred of the Silence, who’ve been captured and held in tanks of liquid that insulate their control of electricity. And Amy tell someone, “We’re in. He’s on his way.”

He has to pause briefly to try and convince Rory to ask Amy out because Amy said, “You were a Mr Hottie, and she’d like to go out with you for texting … and scones.”

I would totally be up for texting and scones.

TMI?

And, of course, the mysterious woman behind this is River. But Madame Cavorian from Demon’s Run is also there.

MADAME CAVORIAN: Oh, why couldn’t you just die?
DOCTOR: Did my best, dear. I showed up. You just can’t get the psychopaths these days.

There’s some typical flirting, which makes Madame Cavorian feel ill, but then the Doctor tries to grab River—purely because this will cause time to collapse back in on itself, bringing them back to the moment when the Doctor should die.

And elsewhere, water starts dripping from the ceiling, as the Silence start breaking out of their cells. But River and the Doctor haven’t finished talking about the various stories circulating about him, and her, and them.

DOCTOR: Idle gossip.
RIVER: Archaeology.
DOCTOR: Same thing.

Still, a hundred-odd Silence breaking out of their cells is a bit of a distraction. That and the fact that the Silence can control the eye-drives that they’re all wearing, electrocuting the wearers.

Madame Cavorian stops being so delighted about this when her own eye-drive starts sparking.

The Doctor wants to end this now, but River and Amy ask that they can at least show him what they’re working on.

Rory stays behind to cover their exit. Amy reminds him to take off his eye-drive before it activates.

RORY: It has activated, ma’am. But I’m no use to you if I can’t remember.

He’s debilitated by his eye-drive as the Silence burst through the door, but luckily Amy shows up with a sub-machine gun. Or something semi-automatic, anyway.

As Amy and Rory leave, Madame Cavorian (whose eye-drive has fallen partway off) calls out to Amy, asking her for help.

AMY: You took my baby from me. And hurt her. And now she’s all grown up and she’s fine. But I’ll never see my baby again.
MADAME CAVORIAN: But you’ll still help me. Because he would. And you’d never do anything to disappoint your precious Doctor.
AMY: The Doctor is very precious to me. But you know what else he is, Madame Cavorian? Not here.

And she readjusts Madame Cavorian’s eye-drive.

AMY: River Song didn’t get it all from you. Sweetie.

As Amy and Rory leave, Amy tells Rory they should get a drink sometime. Fine, says Rory. And married, Amy adds. This is also fine by Rory.

At the top of the pyramid, surrounded by expensive special effects, River has been sending out a distress call to everything, in every time: “The Doctor is dying. Please, please help.”

The Doctor says that this is stupid, and worse than that, he finds her embarrassing. Oh, Doctor: self-loathing is hardly an attractive trait.

The Doctor says that he has to die, but River can’t let him die without knowing how much he is loved—and not just by her, though she obviously places a bit of a premium on that.

DOCTOR: River. River. Why do you have to be this? Melody Pond. Your daughter. I hope you’re both proud.
RORY: I’m not sure I completely understand.
AMY: Oh, we got married and had a kid and that’s her.
RORY: Okay.

Then the Doctor and River get hand-fasted, which seems a bit pagan for as advanced a civilisation as the Time Lords. I mean, even in Robin of Sherwood, people got married with a proper monk, and that show was all about the misty (and mystic) Saxon bollocks. Okay, except for that one time with Owen of Clun, and he was evil. And a bit Welsh.

Which show am I live-blogging again?

When I return from Sherwood, the Doctor and River are married (or hand-fasted) and the Doctor’s calling her “wife” (which I refuse to admit it a bit sexy), and then they kiss and time snaps back into place.

Which means the Doctor’s dead.

Oh, well. The show will probably come back after another sixteen-year hiatus, no?

But wait: River has popped in to visit her old mum, having just climbed out of the wreck of the Byzantium, and they’re sharing a bottle of white wine in some seriously gorgeous wicker garden furniture.

Was that a middle-class moment or a middle-aged moment?

They compare time streams, and Amy’s still flipping out over the Doctor’s death, but River says of course he’s not dead.

Amy says she didn’t mean the younger versions of the Doctor, and River says that she didn’t either. Because the thing is that while the Doctor lies all the time, so does River. She has to, she says. Pretending that she didn’t know that Amy was her mother, pretending not to recognise a space-suit in Florida. But this secret is something that has Amy and River and the newly arrived Rory dancing around the garden.

RIVER: Of course I’m sure. I’m his wife.
AMY: And I’m his … mother-in-law.
RIVER: Father dear, I think Mother might need another drink.

Because of course the Doctor’s not dead! We see that when he turns up with Dorian’s head. Again.

How could he be dead when he has access to a robot full of tiny little people? He barely got singed in that boat, he says.

DORIAN: And Dr Song? In prison all her days.
DOCTOR: Her days, yes. Her nights—well, that’s between her and me.

The head of Dorian says that the question still waits.

DORIAN: The first question. The question that must never be answered. Hidden in plain sight. The question you’ve been running from all your life. Doctor Who? Doctor Who? Doctor Who?

And I’m going right out on a limb and saying that I did not see that pay-off coming, and it might be the most satisfying thing that’s happened to me all season. I’ve always seen “Doctor Who” as indicative, and to have it flipped to the interrogative? Well, I’m looking forward to seeing how that pays off.

I’ll keep you all informed about any decision I make about the live-blogging for next season but rest assured: there’ll always be a discussion space here for Doctor Who, whatever else happens.

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Six: "Closing Time"

Posted 3 October 2011 in by Catriona

Back to your previously scheduled Monday-night, slightly delayed live-blogging. I really must come up with a more permanent solution for next season: I’m thinking about the options as we speak.

Well, no: not as we speak. But at other moments, when I’m not distracted by slightly delayed live-blogging.

We open outside a shop called Sanderson and Granger, where mysterious flickerings are occurring in the lights, and the sales assistant is whinging that her telly went off in the middle of Top Model last night. But she’s sent off to meet her boyfriend while her manager does the changing rooms.

Elsewhere, Sophie (from “The Lodger”) is being sent off to have a bit of a well-deserved rest, while Craig tells her she doesn’t need to label the food.

The changing rooms are a mess, which is no surprise.

Craig rings his mother to tell her that he can cope perfectly well without Sophie. But it seems a good thing that the Doctor has just turned up on his doorstep. He tells Craig that he doesn’t like the way they’ve redecorated (it’s a new house) and then freaks out that Craig isn’t on his own as he said he was.

Craig tries desperately to stop the Doctor opening a door.

The manager worries about mysterious noises in the changing rooms.

The Doctor wakes Craig’s baby—and hands up who saw that coming?

The manager is eaten by a Cyberman (well, sort of), and hands up who saw that coming? Okay, that’s a lie: I didn’t see that coming.

Credits!

Craig’s baby is rather adorable. And Craig is completely freaking out, because he can’t cope with the baby. But the Doctor can (he has, after all, been a father and a grandfather), and Craig wants to be taught how to cope with babies.

DOCTOR: What did you call him? Will I blush?
CRAIG: No, we didn’t call him ‘The Doctor’.

The baby calls himself Stormaggedon, Dark Lord of All.

You may call me that from now on. I’ll settle for “Stormy”. Actually, no: we have an awesome administrative officer called Stormy. I wonder if her full name is Stormageddon?

There’s some babbling about how the Doctor is being social and having a laugh, but, of course, as Craig points out, the Doctor has his “noticing face” on. But he doesn’t want to notice things, because he’s on his “farewell tour”. He shushes Craig (it’s a cute conceit, and I missed the first example of it), kisses Stormageddon, and leaves.

Next thing you know, he’s working in a toy shop, and being a big hit with the kiddies, including losing control of a toy helicopter.

It’s true: adults love lamps.

Well, I love lamps. And I’m adult. Chronologically, anyway.

DOCTOR: I’m the Doctor. I work in a shop now, and I’m here to help.

He introduces Craig to Yappy the robot dog (“Not as much fun as I remember”) and then a Cybermat runs across the floor. We don’t know it’s a Cybermat yet, but that doesn’t count as a spoiler, because it’s Monday.

It’s definitely a Cybermat.

And some people have been disappearing, though they’ve been bumped off the front page by a local girl who’s been kicked out off Britain’s Got Talent.

DOCTOR: But no one’s noticed yet, because they’re all too excited about Nina’s emotional journey, which, in all fairness, is quite inspiring.

There’s also lift-based banter (and, remember, lifts aren’t funny. George the cuckoo taught us that), and then Craig and the Doctor are in a mysteriously dark place, which the Doctor tries desperately to stop Craig from noticing.

DOCTOR: Because I love you.
CRAIG: You love me?
DOCTOR: Yes, Craig, it’s you. It’s always been you.

Then he offers to kiss Craig (“I’m a bit out of practice, but I’ve had some wonderful feedback”), but that’s not enough to stop Craig from noticing the Cybermen.

The Doctor wants Craig to leave, but Craig says that last time, people died, people who didn’t know the Doctor. He says the safest place to be is right next to the Doctor.

CRAIG: You always win.
DOCTOR: Those were the days.

But Craig’s faith is charming, despite the Doctor’s deliberate undercutting of Amy’s faith in him last episode, and the two of them head back into the shop to investigate, where they’re immediately mistaken for a couple by one of the Doctor’s co-workers.

DOCTOR: Partner. Yes. I like it. Is it better than companion?
SHOP ASSISTANT: Companion? Sounds a bit old-fashioned. No need to be coy these days.

The Doctor hears about the silver rat-thing (Cybermat!) and Craig gets mistaken for a pervert by asking a young shop assistant about lady’s wear.

Surely he can’t be that naive? Or can he?

After knocking over a rack of bras, Craig is rescued by the Doctor, who fortuitously hears about the missing supervisor, and they’re off to the changing room.

CRAIG: How do you do that? It’s a power, isn’t it? An alien power. I bet you exude some sort of weird alien gas that makes everyone love you.

After opening every possible curtain (“Sorry, madam! I’d try that in red if I were you!”), they find where Shona was snatched by a Cyberman, and then plan to stake out the shop to try and catch a Cybermat. But, first, they need to have a bit of a tiff, and Craig storms off while the Doctor rants about coincidence—just before turning round and seeing Amy (Rory trailing behind carrying the bags) giving a little girl an autograph.

Amy, it seems, is the new face of a perfume called “Petrichor” (“For the Girl Who’s Tired of Waiting”). That sounds like a nice scent to me, but then I’m currently wearing a perfume that smells like woodsmoke on my skin, so the smell of dust after rain seems quite appealing, and well suited to a Brisbane spring.

CRAIG: Can’t you put that on quiet?
DOCTOR: No. It’s a sonic screwdriver. Sonic means sound!

While I was ranting about perfume, the Doctor and Craig caught themselves a Cybermat, there was some moderately distasteful banter about Stormaggedon wanting a hot babysitter, and George was eaten by a Cyberman.

Well, not eaten, actually. Just killed and left on the floor.

And the Doctor takes a blow to the head, but is fortuitously rescued by George. No, not George. George is dead. Craig. He’s rescued by Craig.

He’s lucky to be alive (The Doctor, not George. He’s dead. And what’s with all the Georges in this show?), but the Cyberman’s arm was damaged and, since the Doctor’s not compatible, they’ve just left him on the floor and dragged George away.

Back at the base (Craig’s house), Craig nips down the shops and Stormaggedon starts crying. So the Doctor nips in to be completely adorable with him, thereby radically increasing Matt Smith’s female fan base.

DOCTOR: That was crabby. No, that was old. But I am old, Stormy. I am so old. So near the end. But you, Alfie Owens, you are so young. Aren’t you? And you know, right now, everything’s ahead of you. You could be anything. You could walk among the stars.

And then he turns Stormy’s star-light nursery decoration into a wonderful swirl of nebulas and real stars.

Seriously, that shot of the Doctor kissing Stormy will probably end up pinned to bedroom walls somewhere. And I say that as a woman who’s not particularly sentimental about babies. But it’s so damn sweet.

And then the Cybermat attacks.

The Doctor legs it out the back door with Stormy as Craig comes in the front door with the milk and it immediately attacked by the Cybermat.

So the Doctor sticks Alfie in the seat on the back patio and then throws himself through the glass kitchen doors, to the rising strains of the Doctor’s theme.

There’s much grappling with the Cybermat and some opportune jokes (“Don’t worry, I have an app for that”), and then the Cybermat is dead. This time, it’s definitely dead, whereas before it was playing possum.

You know, that baby’s awfully cute. Maybe that’s why the Doctor’s really beating himself up over the danger he’s just put them in.

DOCTOR: I am a stupid, selfish man. Always have been.

Craig tries to point out that the whole planet would have been fried without the Doctor, but the Doctor tells him that he’s going to die. The Doctor, not Craig. Tomorrow. The Doctor’s going to die tomorrow.

But Craig falls asleep in the middle of the Doctor’s soliloquy. And when he wakes up, the Doctor’s left a note on the fridge saying that he’s gone to stop the Cyberman.

Craig’s not thrilled about this, so he straps Stormy into his papoose and heads off after the Doctor, how’s currently trying out all his theories on himself, while randomly pressing walls until he finds the Cybermen’s ship.

Remind me not to try on any clothes in the changing room, just in case there’s a Cyberman behind the mirror.

Ooh, nice distance shot of the Cybership. And, of course, the Doctor lets himself right in. It’s a bit of a mess, though—I’ll have to remember that, in case Cybermen come in and tell me my house is a bit cluttered.

Craig leaves Stormy with the Doctor’s chatty co-worker, and dashes off into the changing room to help the Doctor.

Apparently, the ship has been re-awakened by the council’s plan to lay new power cables. Now that just goes to prove that the council shouldn’t bother doing any practical works at all. Just leave everything as it is, in case you wake up a Cybership.

The Doctor gives them a chance to deactivate themselves before he deactivates them, but he’s quickly over-powered (though fortunately not compatible for upgrade). Unfortunately, Craig (who has just burst into the Cybership) is compatible for conversion, and the Doctor’s best chance of stopping it has just been crushed by a Cyberman.

The Doctor talks frantically about his belief (in “all of you”—all humans or all people or all his companions?), but it looks as though the conversion is going ahead. And it is, until Alfie starts weeping and the noise comes through on the shop security cameras (though which, I assume, the Cybermen are looking for potential victims). And that noise triggers the emotion centres of Craig’s brain, which is only midway through the conversion process), and the Doctor does something clever and difficult to type, which basically means that the Cybermen and their ship are all destroyed by a baby’s screaming.

Well, we’ve all been there.

CRAIG: I blew them up with love.
DOCTOR: No, that’s impossible. And also grossly sentimental and over-simplified.

After a bit of casual shopping, Craig manages to accidentally use the Doctor’s staff discount.

SHOP ASSISTANT: It’s nice for baby to have two daddies who love each other.

Damn straight.

And then the Doctor disappears again, but only far enough to do all Craig’s house-cleaning for him, and also to repair the window that he’d smashed through.

DOCTOR: Even with time travel, getting glaziers on a Sunday—tricky.

After a bit of baby-related banter, the Doctor steps into his stoic persona, nicks Sophie’s familiar-looking, dark-blue stationery, and heads off to America, but only after Craig gives him a cowboy hat.

As Sophie knocks on the front door (she forgot her keys), the Doctor steps out the back door.

Just in time to miss Alfie’s first word (“Doctor”).

DOCTOR: Well then, old girl, one last trip, eh?

But he looks over from the TARDIS, and sees some kids. He heads over to them.

DOCTOR: Hey. I’m the Doctor. I was here to help. And you are very, very welcome.

He tips his hat, and he’s off.

And we’re with River, who’s wearing academic robes and reading accounts of the Doctor from the small children to whom he just tipped his hat. But she’s interrupted by the eyepatch-wearing woman from Demon’s Run, who congratulates River on her Ph.D (hence the robes) and tells her the story of the Doctor’s death. Because that story begins here, as we see as they force River into as astronaut’s suit, despite her struggles, and throw her into Lake Silencio to the sound of the eyepatch-wearing woman’s doggerel nursery rhyme.

Oh, well. That can’t possibly go wrong.

Can it?

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