by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Doctor Who”

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Six: "The God Complex"

Posted 27 September 2011 in by Catriona

Nick and I can’t agree on whether this is a good name or a bad name. I have my own opinions about this episode, but I think I’ll keep the main one for a witty and pithy joke at the end of the live-blogging.

We’ll stick with calling this live-blogging, despite the heavy delay this week, on the grounds that “not-quite-live blogging” makes me sound like a zombie.

We open somewhere on the Isle of Wight. Or something like that. It’s a hotel, anyway. Terribly retro. Apparently occupied solely by a policewoman.

During her soliloquy (in which she tells us she’s the last one left), she opens a variety of hotel rooms, finding a clown, and a person taking photographs, and a gorilla. The gorilla’s intended for her, apparently, going by how she screams. And as she sits to write down her experiences, she shifts, between one sentence and the next, from a panicky desire to notate something strange to the repeated phrase “Praise him.”

Something comes storming down the corridors towards her, and she smiles us into the opening credits.

Apparently, the Doctor promised to take Rory and Amy to a place where the people are six hundred feet tall (you have to talk to them in hot-air balloons and the information centre is made out of one of their hats), but instead they’re “in a rubbish hotel on a rubbish bit of Earth.”

No, the Doctor says: this isn’t Earth. It’s just made to looks like Earth.

DOCTOR: The same way that ex-pats open English pubs in Majorca.

The Doctor’s thrilled by this, though the photographs of people with mysterious phrases under their names (“That brutal gorilla”, “Plymouth”, “Defeat”) aren’t so comforting, especially as one of them is that nice policewoman Lucy, who we last saw being terrified by a gorilla.

Then a bunch of people come pouring into the reception area, and it’s all a big moment of confusion and fright, in which the Doctor develops a crush on one of the people, an attractive female doctor.

DOCTOR: Amy, with regret, you’re fired.
AMY: What?
DOCTOR: I’m kidding.

Then he mimes “Call me.”

NICK: Down, boy.

There’s a great deal of discussion about the shifting nature of the hotel, and the nightmares in the various rooms, and the most invaded planet in the galaxy, but the important things are that the TARDIS has disappeared and that’s a really huge number of ventriloquist’s dummies.

Basically, these people are starting to go the way of the people who arrived in the hotel with Lucy, all raw and terrified to begin with, but coming around to a state of grace and praise.

Joe (the fourth member of the trapped party, currently tied up in a hotel room and surrounded by ventriloquist’s dummies) demonstrates this by making an Archie Andrews joke and laughing uproariously. (Know Archie Andrews? He was a ventriloquist’s dummy who had a long-running and highly popular radio programme in England. Yes, I said “radio.” Yes, I said, “ventriloquist’s dummy.” No, no one knows why that was a good idea. But at least they’re less frightening over the radio.)

Joe tries to tell the Doctor to leave, and the Doctor does, but he takes Joe with him.

At Howie’s request, they “do something” about Joe, which basically means putting tape over his mouth. And then they traipse around the hotel, while Howie talks to Rory about conspiracy theories.

RORY: Amazing.
HOWIE: It’s all there on the Internet.
RORY: No, it’s amazing that you’ve come up with a theory even more insane than what’s actually happening.

But Howie is drawn towards a door, behind which are some completely awful girls, who mock him until he shuts the door, stuttering that this is all some CIA thing.

The Doctor says he’s right but it’s a little worrying that Howie is already saying, “Praise him.”

Rory finds an exit, but no one’s paying attention to him, because something is coming down the hallway towards them.

They all scatter and hide in various rooms.

In one, Rita (the clever doctor on whom the Doctor has a bit of a crush) is terrified by her father, who castigates her for a B in mathematics. And in another room, Amy is terrified by some stone angels, but they’re no more real than Rita’s father.

There’s something more real in the corridor, though, and Joe’s seeking it.

When the noise dies down and the others head out into the corridor, Joe is being dragged down the hallway, and the Doctor goes haring after him, only to find his dead body propped up against a wall.

In the ballroom, the Doctor shrouds Joe (watched over by the now silent dummies), while Rita makes tea, and Rory and Howie barricade the door.

And Amy explains to the guy from the oft-invaded planet how she has faith in the Doctor.

AMY: The Doctor’s been part of my life for so long now. And he’s never let me down, not even when I thought he did, when I was a kid and he left me. He came back. He … saved me.

He’s not much comforted, just telling Amy that if the stone-angel room wasn’t for her, then her room is still out there somewhere.

Meanwhile, Rita and the Doctor get pally.

RORY: Every time the Doctor gets pally with someone I get this overwhelming urge to notify their next of kin.

Amy laughs. Rory flinches.

RORY: Sorry. Last time I said something like that, you hit me with your shoe. And you had to literally sit down and unlace it first.

Rita isn’t too sure about the Doctor, though. She says, “You are a medical doctor, aren’t you? You haven’t just got a degree in cheese-making or something?”

The Doctor says it’s both, actually, and I decide not to write my pro-Ph.D. rant in here, because I just remembered how awful Rita’s father is, and decided she’s probably just a warped product of her abusive family environment.

DOCTOR: And this is a cup of tea!
RITA: Of course. I’m British. It’s how we cope with trauma.

Rita talks a little to the Doctor about her (Muslim) faith and her belief that this is Hell, though she is a bit surprised by the whole ’80s-hotel vibe.

Rita’s not too bothered by finding herself in Hell, because she knows that she’s tried her best to live a good life. But the Doctor’s conversation with her is cut short by Amy remembering that she has Lucy the policewoman’s notes in her pocket.

The Doctor reads them out loud, but Howie starts saying, “Praise him.” It’s what happened to Joe, and everyone’s completely freaking out, including Howie (or Howard? I’m just going to call him Howie. We’re mates, me and Howie), who really doesn’t want to be eaten.

But the Doctor thinks that once Howie is possessed again, they can ask him some questions.

For example, why aren’t they all being possessed? Howie says the others all have too many distractions. Too much going on in their heads.

The Doctor tells the others (out of Howie’s hearing) that the creature feeds on fear, so they have to cling on to whatever gives them strength. And then they can catch themselves a monster.

They hide in various locations, including Amy and Rita in one of the rooms, though not their own nightmare.

RITA: How’s it going?
AMY: Don’t talk to the clown!

And using Howie’s voice over the sound system, they manage to trap the monster in a distant room. Howie, meanwhile, is in reception, being watched over by the alien from the oft-invaded planet, which seems a poor choice of guard to me.

The Doctor, interrogating the prisoner, realises that this is a prison.

Howie continues trying to convince the alien (who I’m just going to call “The Coward”) to let him go to seek his glorious death.

And the Doctor continues interrogating the minotaur, which is what this creature (this creature of instinct, with no name) is.

Lord Nimon! It is I! Soldeed!

Nope, wrong episode. In this episode, Howie manages to get away, and the minotaur breaks loose to chase him down.

RORY: Oh, somebody hit me. Was it Amy?

The Doctor finds Howie’s broken glasses and Amy finds a room that calls to her—which she opens, despite being told repeatedly not to do that.

And then we pan past poor Howie’s body, slumped against a wall, just as Joe’s was. The Doctor’s not pleased with The Coward, but now is not the time for recriminations.

Howie’s picture appears on the wall in reception. The Doctor and Rory both stroll up to contemplate it, and the Doctor asks Rory if he’s found his room yet.

DOCTOR: Maybe you’re not scared of anything.
RORY: Well, after all the time with you in the TARDIS, what was left to be scared of?

And here’s the bit that I think sums up Rory. He tells the Doctor about Howie’s being in intensive speech therapy, and overcoming a massive stammer. And that’s not a huge shock, because we saw the girls mocking his stammer, asking him if he was speaking Klingon, and Howie stammering in response to their mockery. But the thing is that of all these people, only Rory would know that. Only Rory has the kind of conversations with people that elicit that sort of information. And only Rory cares enough to remember these kinds of details and to value them. Because he thinks people are important, does Rory. He thinks minutiae and personal victories (big and small) and daily life are important things.

I love Rory.

I bet he’s an excellent and beloved nurse.

The Doctor tells Rita that he’s very close to getting them all out of there.

RITA: Why’s it up to you to save us? That’s quite a God complex you’ve got there.
DOCTOR: I brought them here. They’ll tell you it was their choice, but offer a child a suitcase of sweets and they’ll take it. Offer someone the whole of time and space, and they’ll take that, too.

But Rita’s starting to praise him (not the Doctor). And the Doctor’s found room 11, and opened the door, despite instructions. Whatever’s inside, we don’t see, though we do hear the tolling of the Cloister Bell.

But the Doctor—and the rest of us—are distracted by Rita, who has walked off into the depths of the hotel, feeling the rapture coming on and wanting to “be robbed of my faith in private”. She asks the Doctor not to watch, but he waits long enough to see the monster come into view before he turns off the security cameras.

And then they go and find Rita’s body, to lay her out alongside Howie and Joe. And the Doctor’s more furious than we’ve ever seen him, a smashing-crockery kind of fury.

But he has come to a realisation of what the beast is feeding on. It’s not fear, because Rita wasn’t frightened: she was strong and brave. No: it’s feeding on faith. Because when you’re confronted with your primal fear, you fall back on what you have the most faith in. So the Doctor telling them to dig deep and stay strong is actually making them vulnerable.

And, he says, the beast doesn’t want Rory, because Rory’s not religious or superstitious. It wants Amy, because of Amy’s faith in the Doctor. That’s what brought them to the hotel.

And now Amy’s praising the beast.

They run, because that’s what Doctor Who is: all running-sexy-fish-vampire-minotaurs.

And they end up in a room, where the Doctor tells Amy that he stole her childhood, and led her by her hand to her death. And he knew it was going to happen. Because it’s what always happens.

DOCTOR: Forget your faith in me. I took you with me because I was vain. Because I wanted to be adored. Look at you. Glorious Pond. The girl who waited—for me. I’m not a hero. I really am just a madman in a box. And it’s time we saw each other as we really are. Amy Williams: it’s time to stop waiting.

I’m not touching the “Amy Williams” bit (comments!), but I will point out that Amy flips between Amy and young Amelia (who is sitting on her suitcase, staring out the window, in this room, the room of Amy’s greatest fear), and it’s rather lovely and sad and sweet.

Out in the corridor, a minotaur is dying.

Sorry: not a corridor. It’s a holodeck. Will people never learn? Those things malfunction all the time.

The minotaur is a distant cousin of the Nimon, who set themselves up on distant planets and are worshipped as gods. So my “Horns of Nimon” joke earlier was even wittier than it seemed at the time.

There’s much technobabble here about how the prison works, but I’ll ignore it all in favour of this next exchange.

MINOTAUR: An ancient creature, dredged in the blood of the innocent, drifting in space through an endless, shifting maze. For such a creature, death would be a gift.
DOCTOR: Then accept it. And sleep well.
MINOTAUR: I wasn’t talking about myself.

And now we’re at a house (which is a real house, without any goblins or minotaurs), and, outside it, a car that happens to be Rory’s favourite car. And Rory is sent off to investigate the house (RORY: She’ll say we can’t accept it because it’s too extravagant and we’ll always feel a sense of crippling obligation. It’s a risk I’m willing to take), while Amy comes to the realisation that the Doctor is leaving.

DOCTOR: And what’s the alternative? Me standing over your grave? Over your broken body? Over Rory’s body?
ME: Well, you’ve already done that last one at least twice. Maybe three times.

Amy lets him go with a good grace, in the end, though she’s clearly quite broken up about it. She tells him that if he runs into her daughter, he should tell her to visit her old mum occasionally.

And then he’s off.

RORY: What’s happened? What’s he doing?
AMY: He’s saving us.

But it’s not quite that simple, because, alone in the console room, the Doctor definitely has something else on his mind.

Well, that was “Curse of Fenric.” I mean “The Fenric Complex.” I mean “The God Complex.”

Next week: Craig versus the Cybermen.

Live-blogging Postponed Due To Parental Incursion

Posted 24 September 2011 in by Catriona

The third postponement in as many weeks, but the Monday-night blogging seems to be working for people (including me), so let’s hope it works this time, as well.

My parents are up for a visit (bringing with them the pretty Edwardian sewing cabinet that I bought on Ebay and had sent to them), so I’m a bit busy having conversations like this one:

ME: Didn’t my sister teach herself to crochet out of a book?
MOTHER: She taught herself to crochet out of that book with my help. And she doesn’t give me enough credit for that.
ME: When is she supposed to give you credit?
MOTHER: Constantly! “Oh, I couldn’t have crocheted this without my mother’s help!” “Wasn’t it kind of my mother to teach me to crochet?” How hard could that be?

I promise that’s verbatim.

So you can see we’re a bit busy.

But we wouldn’t miss out on live-blogging an episode like this.

See you in this space in the not-too-distant future.

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Six: "The Girl Who Waited"

Posted 19 September 2011 in by Catriona

ME: I’m sure this is at least the third episode called “The Girl Who Waited”.
NICK: It does seem like that, doesn’t it?

And in that spirit, we approach this episode. Stay tuned after the live-blogging for a public-service announcement.

They’re heading towards a planet that I can’t pronounce, let alone spell. But, apparently, it’s a beautiful world and a beautiful word. And it has soaring silver colonnades. Which would be nice.

But it’s mostly doors, though the Doctor has time for a bit of a bitch about Twitter and a reference to the pile of DVDs on the counter.

NICK: Ah, the domestic TARDIS.

Of course, the doors are accessible through two different buttons: Rory and the Doctor push one, while Amy pushes the other. And yet they can see Amy through some kind of giant, steampunk magnifying glass.

They’re already freaking out about this before the robot with human hands turns up.

Rory freaks out about the mildly sinister robot-with-human-hands, while Amy spends a week in her alternate room in the space between heartbeats. Two time streams, says the Doctor, running parallel but at different speeds.

Sounds like time for the credits.

Oh, after the patronising voiceover.

Back in the alternate time streams, the Doctor explains that the robots see through their hands, though, as he points out, it would be easier to give them eyes. And then Rory realises that Amy has pressed the wrong button, though no one ever told her which button to press, and the Doctor realises that they can’t follow her directly into the red waterfall room.

Basically, the planet is under quarantine, because of a plague that only affects two-hearted people. Amy’s in the infected part of the planet, while the Doctor and Rory are in an alternate time-stream that allows the families of the infected to watch their family members live out the twenty-four hours they have to live. It’s all a bit sad and strange, and I wish I had more time to cover it.

But I don’t.

The Doctor sends Amy out into the facility, just for a bit. I don’t really understand why, actually. But he has a permanent lock on Amy’s signal through the steampunk magnifying glass. And he tells Amy not to let the robots-with-human-hands give her anything, because they don’t accept that she’s an alien, so it will kill her.

So why is she going out into the complex? Did I miss the reason for that?

Anyway, Rory’s heading out to find Amy, while Amy is wandering around the facility and bonding with the interface, which allows her access to multiple entertainment facilities available to her as a resident.

Of course, that’s not going to help if that robot-with-human-hands touches her and infects her against some kind of presumably necessary Earth bacteria.

There’s much running in this scene. I like running. It saves my fingers.

Running, and creepy robots. That’s pretty much what’s happening at this stage. Until Amy leaps into some kind of—I don’t even know what that is, but the robots can’t see her as long as she’s behind that chickenwire.

Meanwhile, Rory and the Doctor are in red-waterfall time, but Rory isn’t sure that it’s the same red-waterfall time as Amy’s in.

I sure hope you’ve all seen this episode, or this live-blogging is never going to make sense.

That garden is lovely. I hope Nick learns topiary at some point. I’m certainly not going to be able to master it myself, so it’s all down to Nick.

Amy’s asking the interface where she can hide from the handbots, and realises that they can’t detect her when she’s near the temporal engines. Luckily, since two handbots turn up right then, she finds a way to disable them, and then hides near the temporal engines, leaving a note for the Doctor in the interim.

In passing, those pants are really unflattering. Karen Gillan is a lovely, slender girl, and those pants are really unflattering.

Then Rory is ambushed by someone who turns out to be his wife—but slightly older than she was when he left her behind.

He asks the Doctor what’s going on, and the Doctor says that the time-stream lock might be a bit wobbly.

This Amy knows how to make the handbots ignore her existence, how to disable them, how to make their disabling look like an accidental death. She tells Rory not to let them touch her with their hands, because it’s an anaesthetic transfer and will knock him out.

This Amy’s deeply angry. She waited for thirty-six years, alone, struggling to stop the handbots from recognising her existence. And now she hates the Doctor, more than she’s ever hated anyone else in her life.

RORY: Hey. I don’t care that you got old. I care that we didn’t grow old together.

I love Rory.

But Amy is uncomfortable around Rory: she’s reluctant to let him touch her.

NICK: She gets even more Scottish as she gets older.
ME: Something to look forward to.

In her bunker, Amy has a pet robot called Rory: she cut its hands off, so that it’s no longer a threat. She’s a strange, bitter, lonely, fascinating woman. But the Doctor’s troubled by this.

AMY: Don’t you lecture me, blue-box man, flying through time and space on whimsy. All I’ve had for thirty-six years is cold, hard reality.

Amy takes Rory to the gardens, so that the Doctor can talk to the interface. He needs Amy to wear the glasses for this.

AMY: They look ridiculous.
RORY: That’s what I told him him. Still, anything beats a fez, eh?

They laugh together, but Amy stops abruptly, because she realises that this is the first time she’s laughed in thirty-six years. Then Rory wanders off, and gets ambushed by the handbots. Amy rescues him, but tells him not to get used to it.

The Doctor says that he has a chance to fold two times together, and bring the Amy of thirty-six years ago into this present.

But Amy doesn’t like this idea.

Rory finds the sign that Amy left for the Doctor, but when he asks the current Amy why she won’t help them, she says that she’ll die. The Amy who grows old with Rory won’t be, in thirty-six years, this Amy who was trapped in the two streams. She wants Rory to take her instead.

Rory doesn’t want to take this Amy, because he can’t cope with the idea that Amy has to spend thirty-six years fighting for her life in the two streams.

RORY: You should look in a history book once in a while, see if there’s an outbreak of plague or not.
DOCTOR: That’s not how I travel.
RORY: Then I don’t want to travel with you!

Rory has a point.

Rory manages to talk to Past Amy through the steampunk magnifying glass, but Past Amy doesn’t cope well with discovering her older self in the glass. Amy talks to her past self, explaining why she won’t help Past Amy. She challenges Past Amy to try anything to convince her to change her mind.

And, of course, what changes Amy’s mind is Rory. Because Amy really loves Rory. Because Rory is adorable.

OLDER AMY: All those boys chasing me. But it was only ever Rory. Why was that?

And Amy explains just why Rory is the most beautiful man she’s ever met. And, I’ll be honest here: I was uncertain about Rory to begin with. But I absolutely adore him now. He’s a fascinating, complex, gentle, lovely character, and I didn’t think they could do that with Rory, as relatively two-dimensional as he was in the beginning.

The swelling music here is lovely.

OLDER AMY TO RORY: I’m going to pull time apart for you.
NICK AND I: Whimper.

Now we have the Doctor’s theme, because Amy plans to take her own future into her hands, to re-write her own history—on condition that they take her with them as well.

RORY: Two Amys. Can that work?
DOCTOR: I don’t know. It’s your marriage.

The Doctor says that, provided he gets rid of the karaoke bar, the TARDIS could sustain the paradox. And we’ve seen it sustain a more complex paradox, so why not?

Rory has to flip some levers, in the meantime.

DOCTOR: C’mon, Rory. It’s hardly rocket science. It’s only quantum physics.

And as both Amys think a deeply important thought—the first kiss she and Rory shared—the Doctor folds time in on itself and brings both Amys into the one time-stream.

As both Amys struggle with speaking at the same time, the TARDIS flips out over the paradox, and the Doctor tells Rory to get back the TARDIS within eight minutes.

Both Amys are pretty good at getting rid of the handbots who are chasing them, but Past Amy is a little uncomfortable with the idea of older Amy travelling with them. Older Amy says it’s fine: she’ll go travelling on her own, and come back for Christmas.

But now the doors into the gallery, where the TARDIS is parked, are jammed, and older Amy flirts a little bit with Rory as they’re trying to open them. Rory (and Past Amy) are moderately uncomfortable with this, but it’s actually strangely sad to see this bitter, lonely woman relaxing in her husband’s company.

Then the handbots attack, and though Older Amy kicks backside, the handbots still manage to touch Past Amy and anaesthetise her. Rory rushes her into the TARDIS—and then the Doctor slams the TARDIS doors in Older Amy’s face.

He tells Rory that it was all a lie: there could never be two Amys in the TARDIS.

Oh, Doctor. You’re a cold man, sometimes.

And just to make it colder, he tells Rory that it’s Rory’s choice: there can only be one Amy in the TARDIS, and he has to choose.

Oh, Rory. You’re too soft for this.

Rory talks to Amy through the door, and Older Amy realises how much she loved all the things she’s been pretending, for thirty-six years, weren’t important to her.

And just as Rory breaks, and realises that he can’t leave this woman, his wife, outside the TARDIS to die, Older Amy tells him not to open the door, if he loves her. Because, she says, she doesn’t want to die. And she’ll come in, if he lets her.

OLDER AMY: Tell Amy, your Amy, I’m giving her the days. The days with you. The days to come.
RORY: I’m so, so sorry.
AMY: The days I can’t have.

Then the handbots arrive.

AMY: Interface?
INTERFACE: I’m here, Amy Pond.
AMY: Show me Earth. Show me home. Did I ever tell you about this boy I met there, who pretended to be in a band?

And the handbots anaesthetise her, and, as she falls, prepare the injections that will kill her.

And Amy wakes in the TARDIS, and asks where her other self is. And we fade out before anyone can answer that question.

Next week: a hotel on the Isle of Wight.

And now, a public-service announcement. I’m increasingly realising that I can’t sustain the live-bloggings. They’re exhausting, and frequently take time away from work I really need to do (albeit, on a Saturday night, that’s usually marking), and I don’t want to come to resent them.

But neither do I want to abandon the weekly space for talking about Doctor Who during the season.

So, readers, what do you think? I have my own ideas about what might replace the live-bloggings next season, but what would you like to see in this space? Are you interested in talking about Doctor Who here? Or interested in seeing what other people say about Doctor Who here? If so, let me know what you’d like to see in this space once a week for the duration of the Doctor Who season.

Liveblogging delayed again

Posted 17 September 2011 in by Nick

Tune in on Monday for delayed reactions to “The Girl Who Waited”.

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Six: "Night Terrors"

Posted 12 September 2011 in by Catriona

[Note: apologies for the late uploading, folk. Shouldn’t happen again, but we might have a blog-wide discussion about a change to the live-blogging format for next year’s episodes. In the meantime, live-blogging will continue on the usual schedule for the rest of this series, excluding (with any luck) my untimely death.]

Nick’s just brought it to my attention that “Let’s Kill Hitler” didn’t actually have an exclamation mark, but honestly! Who says, “Let’s kill Hitler” as a simple unmarked declarative sentence? There’s got to be an implied exclamation mark, at least.

And now, on to the point.

These apartments are kind of wonderful to look at, but I imagine horrific to live in. Still, at least the lifts work.

Elsewhere, George is being made to go to bed, despite his terror of the lift. His mother tells him that if he doesn’t like something, he has to put it in the cupboard. As his mother follows the requisite “turning the light on and off five times”, George repeats “Please save me from the monsters.”

His parents comment on George’s issues, as George himself freaks out (even though he’s safely in bed, and we all know that monsters can’t get you in bed, as long as you have all your arms and legs under the covers and you’ve written the magic words on a piece of paper and put them under your pillow).

Ahem.

Anyway, George’s mother says he needs a Doctor, and she probably didn’t use a capital letter, but I know what she meant.

On patronising voiceover and the credits later, we’re watching the TARDIS materialise in a puddle of water (we watch it happen in a puddle. It doesn’t materalise in a puddle. Or does it? Damn you, dangling modifier) and the Doctor says they’re answering a cry for help from the scariest place in the universe: a child’s bedroom.

Even scarier than when I have to walk down the hallway in the middle of the night and there’s that mirror at the end of the hallway and it’s 3 am and I think, “What if, this time, the person walking towards me in the mirror isn’t me?” and then I wonder if I really need to go to the loo or if it wouldn’t be safer to go and wake Nick up and make him check that there’s nothing there?

Ahem.

Anyway, the Doctor’s getting into a lift. Lift aren’t scary.

Except that did you know that there’s no point jumping up just before a lift crashes because it’s not going to help anyway? So, really, you’re better taking the stairs all the time, because what if the cable breaks?

Ahem.

Right. Back to the show.

George’s father is looking at photos of George and listening to some (BBC!) voiceover about Rolf Harris (talk about scary) while elsewhere, Rory, Amy, and the Doctor door-knock in an attempt to find the small child who was so traumatised that his plea for help managed to get through to the TARDIS.

Nick and I have a brief argument about whether the landlord is “the boy who killed himself” (to quote Nick) in Press Gang, which leads to a brief argument about which of three possible suicides/accidental deaths Nick might mean, and also a brief lecture (delivered by me) on the post Press Gang career of Christien Anholt.

This sequence is moderately creepy, but remarkably hard to live-blog, so I’ll just say that they don’t find George, but they do get a sense that apartment blocks are full of nutters.

They all meet briefly, but split up again to check the next level. But didn’t Rory and Amy just walk right past George? So they aren’t knocking on every door, then? So how do they expect to find the kid?

Oh, wait: they’ve just died in a horrible lift accident. So that’s that solved.

(See? See?! You can’t trust lifts.)

Wait, now the Doctor’s knocked on George’s door, to meet George’s father Alex. Now, this seems like the worst organised search of a set of apartments ever. Weren’t Amy and Rory just on that floor?

Oh, hang on: an old lady’s being eaten by a pile of garbage bags. I don’t really have time to go off on philosophical, or even geographical, sidelines.

Alex tells us that George is eight in January, never cries, and should have grown out of stuff like this.

(Grown out of stuff like this? Let me tell you about my fear of … no. No, let’s pretend to be a rational adult on the Internet, like all the other children playing on here.)

Alex says that George is frightened of everything.

DOCTOR: Pantophobia. That’s what it’s called. Not fear of pants, if that’s what you’re thinking. It’s a fear of everything—including pants, I suppose, in that case. Sorry.

(Matt Smith, I would like to apologise right now for ever doubting that you could play the Doctor. It was just anxiety because you’re the first Doctor who’s younger than me. You get that, right? No? You will when you hit 30, you young whippersnapper. And, no, I’m not talking to you, Matt-Smith-who-thinks-I’m-talking-to-him.)

ALEX: He hates clowns.
DOCTOR: Understandable.

Oh, man: I can’t wait until “Greatest Show in the Galaxy” is out on DVD. We did just buy “Paradise Towers”. I may have squealed out loud in JB Hi-Fi when I saw it.

Elsewhere, Rory thinks he and Amy are dead, which is understandable, given how often Rory has died. Then he comes up with an alternative theory involving time slips and the year 1700-and-something.

George isn’t thrilled by the arrival of the Doctor, because he thinks the Doctor has come to take him away.

Poor George. I had an uncle named George, who died many years ago, but was one of those incandescent personalities that you don’t forget easily. I’ve been especially fond of the name George ever since my Uncle George died.

Amy and Rory find a wooden pan painted to look like copper and a lantern that turns on with a button.

At this point, I said they were in a doll’s house.

ME: Is this the point where I said, “Hey, they’re in a doll’s house?
NICK: Yeah. And I was all, “Why you got to be so crazy?” But you were right.

Spoilers!

Elsewhere, the Doctor is diagnosing George’s issues.

DOCTOR: When I was your age, about, ooh, a thousand years ago, I loved a good bedtime story. The Three Sontarans. The Emperor Dalek’s New Clothes. Snow White and the Seven Keys to Doomsday.

George is particularly scared of the cupboard, because “anything that frightens him, we put it in the cupboard,” says Alex.

The Doctor goes to open the cupboard, and Nick shouts, “Sonic it first, Doctor! Sonic it first!”

See, Nick knows what the Doctor doesn’t get: the cupboard is the scariest thing of all. Any adults here who are happy sleeping with their cupboard doors open, raise your hands.

Humph. I doubt your veracity, adults with your hand up.

Anyway, speaking of monsters, the landlord has come round to demand his rent—with menaces. “Money with menaces” is one of the phrases that Adrian Mole taught me. One of the many useful things that that text taught me.

The Doctor’s making George’s enviable collection of robots wander around the room. Then he goes to open the cupboard again, but he clearly heard Nick, because he sonics it first this time, and when Alex comes back in and tries to open the cupboard, the Doctor freaks out and tells him that George’s monsters are real.

Elsewhere, Amy and Rory find that the doors where they are don’t have doorknobs and the hands of the clock are only painted on. Something runs past giggling, and Nick says, “Oh, for god’s sake.”

Alex is trying to kick the Doctor out on the grounds that the Doctor is making things worse (and just making tea when he should be helping). The Doctor heads into a lovely, lovely monologue about what he’s seen and how far George’s message had to travel to reach him.

DOCTOR: See these eyes? They’re old eyes. And one thing I can tell you. Monsters: they’re real.
ALEX: You’re not from Social Services, are you?

Amy, Rory, and now the old lady who got pulled into a pile of rubbish are still being menaced by giggling voices.

Oh, okay. First creepy doll of the episode.

RORY: This is weird.
AMY: Yeah, says the time-travelling nurse.

Well, it was fine until it started moving.

Don’t get me started on creepy dolls. You know what? Dolls are just wrong. They’re little tiny inanimate things that look just like people but don’t move or talk, unless they do move or talk, in which case they’re even more wrong.

While I was typing out that rant, the Doctor was deciding to open the cupboard in a rather charming scene and the landlord was being sucked into his carpet in a moderately unconvincing special effect.

The Doctor opens the cupboard, revealing the doll’s house in which everyone is obviously trapped, but he doesn’t find anything particularly horrifying in there, and he can’t understand it. So he can’t comprehend what’s happening, and he goes back through the photo albums (he looked earlier, and I didn’t note it at the time), pushing Alex into revealing that Claire can’t have kids, even though they have a little boy.

The Doctor confronts George, asking him who he is, which isn’t a good idea in retrospect, because the Doctor and Alex get sucked into the cupboard. George doesn’t seem to be doing this deliberately, because he’s chanting “Please save me from the monsters” as they gets sucked in. But deliberation isn’t really an issue, because they get sucked in anyway.

Then the landlord gets turned into a doll right in front of Amy and Rory, which prompts Amy to give Rory permission to panic. You know, Rory’s a nurse. I doubt he’s prone to panic as a regular thing. Maybe, if he’s panicking, there’s a good reason for it?

ALEX: Where are we?
DOCTOR: Obvious, isn’t it?
ME: Yes. You’re in the doll’s house.
ALEX: No.
DOCTOR: The doll’s house. We’re in the doll’s house.
ME: I said that.

Alex wants to know how he could forget that Claire couldn’t have kids. Hands up who said “perception filter” either before or at the same time as the Doctor? It’s always a perception filter, isn’t it?

This whole situation get a bit complicated for me at this point. There are lift noises and creepy dolls and flickering candles. Amy convinces Rory to let the dolls in so they can try and squeeze past them, even though we know that they can turn people into dolls with a single touch, which, in fact, they do to Amy.

Well, that were a daft decision, weren’t it?

The Doctor tells Alex that they’re inside a psychic repository for all George’s fears. So it’s probably not a good thing that a giant doll just turned up right then, is it?

The sonic screwdriver doesn’t have any effect.

DOCTOR: I’ve got to invent a setting for wood. It’s just embarrassing.

The Doctor then realises what George is, but I can’t spell it, so I’ll just leave it out. He’s, essentially, a cuckoo and an alien. And something’s happened to frighten him, so he’s started this cycle of monsters, unconsciously, and he isn’t even aware that he’s controlling it.

Rory and the Doctor meet up, though Rory’s being tracked by doll-Amy.

The Doctor’s still trying to convince George to end this, and George does open the cupboard door, which initially stops the dolls from moving—until they start moving towards George.

Because George thinks that his parents are rejecting him. Because George thinks he’s being rejected, since his parents talked about sending him away, since they couldn’t cope with him unaided.

But Alex isn’t worried about the fact that George isn’t human: he’s Alex’s little boy, and Alex isn’t going to send him way.

Aw. That would be heart-warming, that would, if I weren’t currently curled up in a foetal position so I can’t see the dolls coming for me.

Everyone wakes up right where they should be, and when Claire arrives home from night-shift, Alex and George are making kippers, and the Doctor kisses her awkwardly but charmingly.

George is fine now.

He’s easier to reassure than most eight year olds.

Alex is moderately worried about George, what with him being an alien, but the Doctor says that George will adapt perfectly, and be whatever Alex wants him to be. Except perhaps around puberty. Always a funny time, says the Doctor.

Then it’s back into the TARDIS, and off to somewhere more historical and interesting—at least until the Doctor hits the death date that we just saw pop up on that monitor.

Next week: Amy kicks backside.

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Six: "Let's Kill Hitler!"

Posted 3 September 2011 in by Catriona

We have one half of our usual peanut gallery with us tonight: Michelle is being conscientious and working tonight, but Heather’s sitting here with a beer, watching the football coverage on the news, and saying things like “Was it really a miraculous goal? Did Jesus descend?” and “He turned the field goal into wine.”

Remind me not to watch football with Heather.

Word of warning: I’ve been marking all day and I haven’t live-blogged in ages and this is a tricky one and I’m a bit worried about how it will all work out, as you can tell by the way I just strung all those independent clauses together with co-ordinating conjunctions.

Did I mention I’ve been marking all day?

Heather’s explaining the significance of the Birdsville Races to me.

Heather’s from Florida.

I’m a bit ashamed of myself for not already knowing this.

Also, this happened:

NICK: I don’t like prequels! As a narrative form, I would prefer people went forwards than backwards!

Then Nick said he didn’t like Planet of the Apes and Heather accused him of being “such a humanist.”

It’s all a bit weird in here, actually.

Previously, on Doctor Who: I’m not blogging that. You’ve all seen it. If not, I’ve already live-blogged it.

But now, we’re in a cornfield. And I already had this pegged as a corn circle. Then Heather pointed out that this is actually barley and that the term is “crop circle”. She’s all about making me feel foolish tonight.

Also, I went to an agricultural high school and should have known that.

Then we see the newspaper that the Doctor’s holding, and Heather says, “CROP circle.”

Amy’s worried about Melody, and Rory’s worried about something unusual in the crop circle, but it’s just some nutty friend of Rory and Amy’s.

MELS: You said he was funny. You never said he was hot.

The Doctor’s more worried about them not saying he was hot than he is worried about the police sirens. He’s also a bit worried about not having met Mels before when she claims to be Amy and Rory’s best friend.

DOCTOR: I danced with everyone at their wedding. The women were brilliant. The men were a bit shy.

Mels suggests they kill Hitler, and then we all swear at the patronising voiceover. Except for Nick, who doesn’t have a problem with it and tells us so at length.

We ignore him.

We flash back to Mels’s childhood with Amy and Rory.

AMY: You’re the most in trouble at school except for boys.
MELS: And you.
AMY: I count as a boy.

Heather labels this as “a brief history of Mels who we’ve never heard of before but who is very important to Amy and Rory. Apparently.”

I wish I could do justice to this heart-breaking, gorgeous scene where Mels pushes Rory and Amy into admitting their affection for one another.

AMY: I’d love to. He’s gorgeous. He’s my favourite guy. He’s gay.

Oh, poor Rory’s face when he finally legs it.

I admit it: I deeply love Rory now. I was unsure at first, but I deeply love him now.

And, as Nick points out, that’s a beautiful cut between Amy’s toy TARDIS and the actual TARDIS spinning helplessly out of control. And Mels’s shot the TARDIS console, so we don’t like her already.

Oh, but Nazis. We like them even less.

NICK: Nazis!
HEATHER: And their Nazi cleaners!
NICK: Nazi cleaners. I hate those guys!

The Nazi cleaner, under the control of other guys whose position hasn’t been made quite clear yet, is confronting the actual Nazi who, as Nick points out, looks more like a Nazi than any actual Nazi could.

This is a fascinating sequence, and Moffat’s playing it close to his chest, which I like. But it’s almost impossible to live-blog, so I’m just going to assume that you’ve all seen it.

ME: I love that they have little miniature cups of coffee.
HEATHER: They have miniature everything!
ME: Including Nazis.
HEATHER: And antibodies.

And, sure enough, the miniature Nazis is destroyed by jellyfish-like antibodies who say, “Welcome. You will experience a tingling sensation and then death.”

Meanwhile, the robot/Nazi cleaner/Nazi is trying to kill Hitler.

HEATHER: I like how all the Nazis speak English.
ME: TARDIS translation circuits?
HEATHER: Except that it’s not there yet.
ME: Shush.

Luckily for Hitler, it’s too early in his timeline to kill him (it’s only 1938) and also the TARDIS just landed on the assassin.

I do love the moment of complete speechlessness when they realise that they just saved Hitler’s life.

DOCTOR: Believe me, it was an accident.

But that’s all right, because the assassin is back on his feet. Luckily, Hitler has a gun and Rory gets to punch him in the face and then pull a gun on him (and say, “Shut up Hitler!” and put him in a cupboard).

HITLER: But I am the Fuhrer.
RORY: Right. In you go!

They’re moderately worried about the assassin fainting, but only until they notice that Mels has been shot. And then the tiny people inside the assassin notice that the TARDIS is listed as stolen and they’ve found the worst war criminal of all. Not the Doctor, though—someone they call “her”.

Mels’s dying, and the Doctor proposes to her.

MELS: Shouldn’t you ask my parents’ permission?
DOCTOR: Soon as you’re well, I’ll get on the phone.
MELS: May as well ask them now, seeing as they’re both here.

And then she starts regenerating.

Let’s talk about how this works with Amy and River’s established timelines in the comments, shall we?

Anyway, Mels regenerates as River.

I just won’t stop loving River. Except she’s a bit too obsessed with her weight at this stage.

MELS/RIVER: Who’s River Song? Hang on, I just need to check something.
DOCTOR: Is anyone else finding this day just a bit difficult? I’m getting a sort of banging in my head.
AMY: Yeah, I think that’s Hitler in the cupboard.

Then River tries to kill the Doctor, but the Doctor has already thwarted her six ways from Sunday (is that the idiom?) and she’s pulling a banana on him instead of a gun.

River explains a little bit about what’s happened to her since Demons Run. Then she kisses the Doctor and calls him “Sweetie”, but he says that only River Song gets to call him that.

She’s about to head out into Berlin, much to the Doctor’s surprise. But she says she’s already killed him.

That’s why we don’t snog women, Doctor.

Well, there might be some provisos to that statement. I’ll leave that up to you.

Nether Amy and Rory nor the little miniature people can believe that the Doctor is dying. He sends Amy and Rory after River, who has run into a group of Nazis, who demand to know her business.

RIVER: I was on my way to a gay gipsy bar mitzvah for the disabled, when I suddenly thought, “Gosh, that Third Reich’s a bit rubbish. I think I’ll kill the Fuhrer.”

Of course, you shouldn’t shoot someone who’s regenerating. Duh.

Rory’s punching a lot of people today, isn’t he? But they’re all Nazis, so that basically makes him Indiana Jones.

AMY: Can you ride a motorbike?
RORY: I expect so. It’s that sort of day.

The Doctor, meanwhile is trying to enable the voice interface for the TARDIS. First it gives him himself. But he asks for someone he likes. Then it gives him, sequentially, Rose, Martha, and Donna, which he says is just a litany of guilt. He says that there must be someone in the universe whom he hasn’t screwed up yet, and they give him young Amelia Pond.

There’s much Scottish humour in this section, including “Scotland’s never conquered anywhere, you know? Not even a Shetland” and “I’m going out in the first round. Ringing any bells?”. And by “Scottish humour”, I mean “humour directed at the Scots. By a Scot. So that’s all right.”

Born in Perth, me. But not really Scottish.

Elsewhere, in a restaurant.

HEATHER: Man, that Third Reich. They could cook up a fancy feast.
ME: Isn’t that a cat food?
HEATHER: Yeah.

The robot stuff is actually really creepy in this. I say this as Amy and Rory are trapped inside a giant robot replica of Amy (RORY: I’m really trying not to see this as a metaphor). Amy wonders how they got there.

RORY: Miniaturisation ray.
AMY: How would you know that?
RORY: There was a ray, and we were miniaturised.
AMY: Okay.

They’re about to be destroyed by antibodies, but an employee says that they’re not guilty of anything, and welcomes them aboard a Justice Department vehicle.

Elsewhere, robot Amy is planning on holding River to account for the Doctor’s death, but the Doctor turns up in a tuxedo with a sonic cane.

HEATHER: Sonic cane? SONIC CANE!

He’s rather excited about the robot with the miniaturisation field, and asks Rory and Amy to signal him if they’re okay. Amy has the sonic screwdriver, and the Doctor has a severe leg cramp.

The justice robot tries to attack River again, and the Doctor says they’re not to harm her. They wonder why, since she’s the woman who kills the Doctor.

DOCTOR: At least I’m not a time-travelling robot death machine operated by miniature cross people, which, I have to admit, I did not see coming.

The justice robot explains what it does, and it’s actually quite interesting, but I didn’t have time to cover it all. Except that Amy (real Amy, not robot Amy) has “privileges”, because she’s River’s mother, so she can make the Doctor’s records available. About all it tells us is that the Silence is not a species, but a religious order. They believe that silence will fall when a question is asked, but they don’t know which question.

The Doctor’s kidneys are done for, and so the Justice Department want to “do what they do” and “give her Hell.” This literally means burning River alive, it seems. The Doctor insists that Amy and Rory stop them, however they do it.

It’s lucky Amy has the sonic screwdriver, then, isn’t it?

What she can do is withdraw their privileges, so that the anti-bodies think they’re unauthorised people and try to kill them all.

I wonder why they even have anti-bodies on the ship, and Nick and Heather explain why at some length, until I ask them both to shut up.

Amy and Rory are soon the only people left alive in the robot, though, as the others all beam back to the mothership. They scream for the Doctor, but he can’t really help—he’s pretty much dead at this point.

He’s asking River to help him, but River still doesn’t know that she’s River. So she’s bewildered and a bit jealous, and she wants the Doctor to explain. But he just wants her to help him, because he’s almost dead.

And so are Amy and Rory, it seems. Until the TARDIS materialises around them—but it’s flown by River. The TARDIS taught her how to fly, and the Doctor told her that she was the child of the TARDIS.

RIVER: What does he mean?
HEATHER: He means you’ve got a big Time Head.

The Doctor’s actually dying this time. But it’s all right, River will sort it out.

(We got a bit distracted there, discussing how many regenerations the Doctor might have. Apparently, Nick tells us, the Sarah Jane Adventures set it at 504, and that would be canonical. So no worries about the show needing to be cancelled in two Doctors’ time, then.)

Meanwhile, the Doctor whispers something to River (about River), and Amy finally shows River (through the justice robot) who River Song is.

So River uses her regenerative energies to bring the Doctor back to life.

DOCTOR: River. No. What are you doing?
RIVER: Hello, sweetie.

And she snogs him. Which Nick and Heather thinks removes the poisoned lipstick, but that would have spread through his system already, surely?

Oh, we’ll save it for the comments.

RIVER: He said no one could save him. But he must have known I could.
DOCTOR: Rule one. The Doctor lies.
CAT-NURSE: She just needs to rest. She’ll be absolutely fine.
DOCTOR: No, she won’t. She will be amazing.

And he gives her a diary that looks like the TARDIS.

Rory, Amy, and the Doctor have a serious discussion about who River is and why she’s in prison in the future.

DOCTOR: Well, she did kill me. Then she used her remaining lives to bring me back. As first dates go, I’d say that was mixed signals.

Apparently, River finds the Doctor through the power of archaeology, but I admit that by this point I’m a bit drunk and not really paying attention.

Next week: creepy dolls!

Strange Conversations: Part Three Hundred and Eighty

Posted 9 August 2011 in by Catriona

Strange things happen during Doctor Who:

ME: Why is one of that man’s eyes so bloodshot? Is he having an affair?
(Pause)
ME: I mean, a stroke. Is he having a stroke?
NICK: What?
ME: Sorry.
NICK: Well, that was a Freudian slip.
ME: I’m not having an affair!
NICK: So you say.

Strange Conversations: Part Three Hundred and Seventy-Six

Posted 4 August 2011 in by Catriona

In which we discuss the horrible, horrible music in the Jon Pertwee episode “The Sea Devils”, which had already prompted Nick to complain, “That video game conference they’re holding next door is really distracting”.

NICK: This is a picture of the machine that made those horrible noises.
ME: That’s terribly interesting.
NICK: I don’t think you’re treating this with the appropriate level of interest.
ME: Oh, I think you’ll find that I am.

Strange Conversations: Part Three Hundred and Seventy-Five

Posted 4 August 2011 in by Catriona

NICK: Katy Manning’s stunt double was actually Stuart Fell.
ME: But I said on Twitter it was Terry Walsh.
NICK: I know.
ME: Well, if you want to out me on Twitter as not recognising Terry Walsh when I see him in a ladies’ pantsuit …
NICK: Not at all!
(Pause)
ME: Dammit, I’m going to have to do it myself. The curse of being an academic.
NICK: What, having a sense of intellectual honesty? I can see where that might be inconvenient.

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Six: "A Good Man Goes To War"

Posted 11 June 2011 in by Catriona

In this cold little side dimension in which Doctor Who doesn’t clash with a birthday party, Nick and I and our entire peanut gallery are all set to live-blog the last episode of Doctor Who for this mini-season.

Heather’s doing an Izzy Stradlin-style guitar solo at the moment, without the guitar. But we’ll start, shall we?

HEATHER: Are we going to have that really [redacted] intro? Because I hate that.

Previously, Amy is not Amy. That’s really the only important thing.

Elsewhere, at Demon’s Run, Amy has an adorable baby girl, called Melody Pond. She tells Melody that this isn’t a time for lies.

HEATHER: It’s a time for breastfeeding.

Amy tells Melody to be very very brave, but not as brave as they’ll need to be, because there’s someone coming.

Elsewhere, the Cybermen are not happy.

AMY: There’s a man who’s never going to let us down. And not even an army can get in his way.

But an army comes for Melody right then.

The Cybermen are still not happy.

AMY: He’s the last of his kind. He looks young, but he’s lived for hundreds and hundreds of years. And whereever they take you, Melody, however scared you are, I promise you, you won’t ever be alone. Because this man is your father. He has a name, but the people of our world know him better as the Last Centurion.

Rory confronts the Cybermen, saying he has a message from the Doctor and a question from him.

The question?

RORY: Where is my wife?

The Cybermen want to know what the Doctor’s message is, and some cyber-ships blow up.

RORY: Do you want me to repeat the question?
HEATHER: He’s a little bit sexy when he does that.
ME: So it’s not just me!
HEATHER: Oh no. Lesbian peanut gallery gives the thumbs up to Rory.

Elsewhere, two members of the waiting army are praising the Doctor and wondering about the creepy headless monks. A cute girl Marine from the Gamma forests can explain that, though. Apparently, the monks believe the head is the seat of doubt and the heart is the seat of faith, so they follow their hearts. That’s all “headless” means.

The Marines all introduce themselves.

MARINE: We’re the thin-fat, gay-married Anglican Marines. Why would we need names as well?

The fat Marine has to head off for his conversion training with the monks, while the thin Marine asks how the Gamma-girl Marine knew the Doctor already.

FAT MARINE: What’s in the little boxes?

The boxes are about the right side for a head.

MICHELLE: No!
HEATHER: He’s gay, honey. He has to die.
MICHELLE: The gay ones always die.

Elsewhere (again), we’re in Victorian London, where someone has just killed Jack the Ripper.

MAID: How did you find him?
SILURIAN: Stringy. But tasty all the same. I won’t be needing dinner.

Silurian-Victorian female detective? Awesome.

Of course, she has a TARDIS in her drawing room, which doesn’t come as the shock to her it would be to me. Then again, I don’t have a drawing room.

Elsewhere elsewhere, there’s a Sontaran nurse (a nurse? Really?) helping in the American Revolutionary War of the future.

Or something.

Apparently, his working as a nurse is a penance imposed by the Doctor. So when the TARDIS arrives, he leaves happily.

In Stormcage, River is coming back to her cell, in what looks like Victorian dress. She tells them to turn off the alarm, because she’s breaking back in. And then Rory turns up.

River says it’s her birthday, and the Doctor has taken her ice-skating on the Thames in 1814. (But that’s not particularly Regency dress. Looks like they raided the Charles Dickens adaptation wardrobe again.)

Rory says he’s come from the Doctor, too.

RIVER: Yes, but from a different point in time.
RORY: Unless there’s two of them.
RIVER: No, that’s a whole different birthday.

Rory wants River to come with him, but she says she can’t. She can’t be with the Doctor at the battle of Demon’s Run until the very end, because this is the day he finds out who she really is.

MICHELLE: Who is she?

Elsewhere elsewhere elsewhere, the blue chappie who sold River Song her time-wrist-thingy is closing up business, knowing what’s coming. The eye-patch woman says that they’ve waited a month and the Doctor’s done nothing. But the blue chappie says that the Doctor’s been calling in favours. And god help them. And the people who owe the Doctor favours.

He asks if they know why their asteroid is called Demon’s Run.

BLUE CHAPPIE: A very old saying. The oldest. “Demons run when a good man goes to war.”

And then the Doctor comes for the blue chappie, despite his protests.

The cynical army chappie whose name I don’t know is rousing his troops, while Amy watches from her prison window. As she watches, the Gamma-girl Marine comes in. She should be at the parade, but she’s brought Amy a prayer leaf, on which she’s embroidered Melody’s name.

AMY: Can I borrow your gun?
GIRL MARINE: Why?
AMY: Because I’ve got a feeling you’re going to keep talking.

They compare Doctor memories, and Amy tell the Gamma girl to make sure she’s on the right side when the Doctor gets here. Not for Amy’s sake: for the Gamma girl’s sake.

The Marines are doing that “Boo-yah!” thing that Marines do.

Their commander says that the Marines should wonder why the headless monks are called “headless.” He says it’s time to see what they’ve sacrificed for faith.

MICHELLE: Their heads?
ME: Yes, but you’re not supposed to know that.

Sure enough, they don’t have heads. That’s foul.

Except for the last one, because he’s the Doctor.

DOCTOR: Hello, everyone. Guess who? Please. Point a gun at me if it helps you relax. You’re only human.

The commander tells the Doctor to relax and the Doctor starts counting down.

DOCTOR: Amelia Pond! Get your coat!

The Doctor’s disappeared at some point while I wasn’t paying attention, and the panicked Marines start shooting the monks, who start shooting back.

The eye-patch woman thinks that this is a good time to leave.

The Silurian detective and her maidservant (Jenny) are taking control of the station’s communications.

MAIDSERVANT: Clever, isn’t he?
SILURIAN: And rather attractive.
MAIDSERVANT: You do realise he’s a man, don’t you?
SILURIAN: Mammals. They all look alike.

The commander is still trying to bring his troops under control.

COLONEL: I’m discharging my weapon pack.
HEATHER: Is that what you call it?

Meanwhile, the Marines (they’re the Clerics, actually, from the earlier episode with the stone angels, but I didn’t have time to note that) are chanting, “We are not fools.”

The Gamma-girl goes running off, only to find the Doctor’s discarded robe.

HEATHER: Oh. I was hoping she’d turn out to be the lesbian.

The jets (they’re not jets, I know) from the Winston Churchill episode turn up and shoot the asteroid. We all groan, because we hated that the first time. Then Rory stops the eye-patch woman from getting on her ship (with the help of some eighteenth-century pirates), the Gamma-girl Marine shrugs off her weapons pack, and the Doctor tells the commander to give the order to run away.

He wants people to call the commander “Colonel Runaway”, so that people know what happens when they try to get to the Doctor through the people he loves.

The eye-patch woman, escorted in by Silurians, says that the anger of good men is not a worry, because good men have too many rules.

DOCTOR: Good men don’t need rules. Today’s not the day to find out why I have so many.

Elsewhere (elsewhere elsewhere elsewhere), Rory turns up to rescue Amy, and he’s holding Melody.

Amy’s happy to see a crying Roman carrying a baby.

DOCTOR: Hello, Melody Pond.
RORY: Melody Williams.
AMY: Melody Williams is a geography teacher. Melody Pond, now she’s a super-hero.

There’s gratuitous hugging.

DOCTOR: Really, you should call her “Mummy” and not “Big Milk Thing.”
AMY: What are you doing?
DOCTOR: I speak baby.
AMY: No, you don’t.

Everyone’s happily reunited at the TARDIS, except Melody who won’t stop crying. (There’s some nice dialogue from Amy there that I didn’t have time to transcribe.)

After the Sontaran claims to produce impressive amounts of breast milk, thanks to gene splicing, the Doctor comes out with an old cradle, and Amy tries to get him to talk about his own family.

During some impressive hugging, the Doctor explains that Amy must have been taken some time before America, and that she’s been simultaneously on the TARDIS and at Demon’s Run.

After a bad fake-out about the Doctor being Melody’s father (when he means that the cradle is his old cradle), the Doctor heads off to find out what they’ve found in the computer systems.

The Silurian wants to know if Melody is human, because she has Time Lord DNA. That’s what they’ve found in the computer systems.

The Gamma-girl, who’s been captured by the Sontaran, is trying to convince them all that this is genuinely a trap.

The Doctor is surprised that Melody has Time Lord DNA, but the Silurian says that Time Lords became Time Lords after billions and billions of years’ exposure to the Time Vortex.

MICHELLE: This is so, like, queer, and polyamorous, and stuff.

The Silurian wants to know if Melody could have been conceived in flight.

DOCTOR: No, no: impossible. It’s all running-about sexy-fish-vampire stuff.

Then he remembers that the first time these two were together on the TARDIS (when Rory wasn’t dead, plastic, or in another reality) was on their wedding night.

I can’t really follow all the stuff about DNA, the Doctor, cooking your own Time Lord, and so forth. Let’s discuss it in the comments, shall we?

The eye-patch woman, coming up on the comms to speak to the Doctor from a distance, says that the child is hope: hope in the long, bitter war against the Doctor.

Did I mention that the headless monks don’t register as life-forms, so they’ve stayed behind to spring a trap?

They’re singing the “attack prayer”.

HEATHER: See, they are Enigma!

Melody and Amy go into hiding, while centurion-Rory heads out to fight. The blue chappie thinks he can talk some reason into the headless monks, but that noise definitely sounded like someone’s head being struck off with a sword.

The Doctor, still speaking to the eye-patch woman, says that he’ll never let her get near Melody again.

But the eye-patch woman says that fooling the Doctor once was a joy, but fooling him twice, in exactly the same way, is a privilege.

Over a furious battle, River’s voice recounts the old proverb about Demon’s Run, and Melody collapses into flesh.

She was an avatar all along.

By the time the Doctor bursts in to reveal this, the battle is over, and not everyone is still standing. The Sontaran, for example, is dying.

SONTARAN: It’s all right. I had a good life. I’m nearly twelve.

Amy is nearly catatonic, and the Doctor has no idea how to apologise for this. Amy knows it’s not his fault, but she’s still devastated.

And elsewhere, the cute Gamma-girl Marine, Lorna (don’t correct my spelling: it was that Silurian’s pronunciation), is also dying.

The Doctor thanks her for helping his friends.

She sys they’ve met before, but he probably doesn’t remember.

DOCTOR: Of course I remember. I remember everyone. Hey: we ran. You and me. Didn’t we run, Lorna?

She dies.

DOCTOR: Who was she?
SILURIAN: I don’t know. But she was very brave.
DOCTOR: They’re always brave. They’re always brave.

And then River turns up.

But the Doctor is furious.

DOCTOR: Where the hell were you? Every time you’ve asked me for help, I was there. Where the hell were you today?

But River’s having none of it. She tells the Doctor that he’s become something that he should never have become. And she comes back to a nice point that I missed earlier, where Lorna could only understand the word “Doctor” to mean “mighty warrior.” It’s a good point.

(There’s also the question of whether this contradicts River’s rapturous description of “her” Doctor in her original two-parter, where she thought the Tenth Doctor was but a pale imitation. Or was that perhaps not quite so rapturous as I remember?)

But River comes back to the idea that all this is coming out of fear of the Doctor.

HEATHER: Everything’s so intense!
MICHELLE: And thanks for the info-dump. That was really useful.

River’s distracted by the cot, but the Doctor wants to know who she is. And she says she’s telling him, but we can’t see what she’s showing him. He seems quite delighted by it, though, in a gangly schoolboy way.

(Seriously, I can’t even imagine being married to the Doctor—as I assume River is—when he’s in this kind of mode. It would be like marrying a first-form Etonian schoolboy.)

He heads off in the TARDIS, telling River to get them all home.

And Amy’s furious to be kept out of the loop. She wants to know—at gunpoint, if necessary—what River told the Doctor.

River says that the TARDIS translation circuits take a while with written text, which is why we’re only now seeing that the prayer leaf reads, in the language of the Gamma Forest, “River Song.”

Because they don’t have a word for “pond.”

Because the only water in the forest is the river, just as the TARDIS told us back in “The Doctor’s Wife.”

And that’s it for three months. Have at it in the comments!

Doctor Who: "A Good Man Goes to War" Spoiler Discussion Post

Posted 4 June 2011 in by Catriona

As with the end of season four, when we were all really cranky and wanted to talk about Donna’s lobotomy before the ABC aired the episode, I’m thinking a spoiler thread about the mid-season finale of season six might come in handy here.

It’s just an idea I had …

I think I might be right …

So, keep the spoilers in the comments below.

Anyone who’s keeping themselves free of spoilers, ‘ware the comments thread.

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Six: "The Almost People"

Posted 4 June 2011 in by Catriona

Moderately late for the live-blogging after spending the day at a belated 40th birthday party (which was flooded out in January).

So I can’t guarantee the coherence of this live-blogging, but, eh—what’s new?

I’m not going to live-blog the previouslies, because I think we all remember those. Gangers, acid, monasteries, etc.

So now we have a ganger Doctor, but he doesn’t seem to be coping well. Our Doctor says that the flesh is struggling to cope with the past regenerations. That would explain why he just offered us a jelly baby. But he seems a bit violent and hysterical. I don’t trust red-rimmed eyes.

Credits.

Oh, Amy-Pond voiceover. How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways, when I have a minute.

We come back from the credits where we left off: the ganger Doctor isn’t coping and the rest are barricading the room. But the gangers have stopped banging on the doors, which isn’t a good sign.

Except, of course, that the factory mines acid. Which, as it turns out, is a really good thing if you need to get through a locked door.

But now the ganger Doctor has calmed down a bit, been interrogated by our Doctor, and now the two are BFFs.

But they are wearing different shoes, which will no doubt come in handy at some point and not be at all confusing.

Our Doctor points out that there are conduits running under the floors, so they all manage to escape before the gangers break in. One of the gangers has a splitting headache, which I’m sure is relevant.

Elsewhere, ganger Jennifer is painting circles of flesh on the walls, and being quietly stalked by Rory.

Our Doctor wants to scan for Rory and Jennifer. But the main thing is to get above the choky gas that’s being caused by an interaction between acid and the stone walls. They head for the evac tower.

But the gangers know that they’re heading for the evac tower, because ganger Cleaves points out that they are, after all, the same people.

Jimmy and ganger Jimmy both reminisce about their son, whose birthday it is. But ganger Jennifer bursts in, saying she remembers the suppressed memories of their previous lives, all those creations and deaths. The other gangers don’t remember their previous lives, but ganger Jennifer does, and now she’s talking about revolution.

That was a bit quick, wasn’t it? Leaping from desire to live to full-blooded, bloody revolution in about half an hour?

In the evac tower, the Doctors are working together to fix the computers, and insisting that they’re both the Doctor. But Amy is showing an oddly xenophobic streak, saying that “being almost the Doctor is pretty damn impressive” but that one of them is definitely the real, proper, here-first Doctor.

Power comes up, and Amy wants to scan for Rory. But Cleaves’s first step is to call the mainland. She wants to be evacuated from the mainland, and the gangers to be wiped out. She also attaches a codeword to future messages, but types it, so that the listening gangers can’t hear.

Elsewhere, Jennifer is trying to operate some technology with her hand print, but they won’t recognise her as an authorised user.

The Doctor sets up a delayed phone call, while Amy goes wandering off towards a stone wall—which slides open to show the eyepatch woman, and then slides shut again. This time, she’s willing to talk to the Doctor about it. The Doctor says that it’s a time memory, like a mirage, and nothing to worry about. But the ganger Doctor, in the foreground, definitely looks worried.

And, indeed, he runs out of the room, and Amy follows him. She apologises for calling the ganger Doctor “almost the Doctor”, but says that she’s been through so much with the Doctor. And she tells him that she might have seen the Doctor die. The ganger Doctor asks why, and Amy says that he invited them to see his death.

But the ganger Doctor doesn’t mean why did she see the Doctor die. He means why do the gangers have to die over and over? And he slams Amy up against the wall as he rants about this.

Amy runs, but the ganger Doctor, bursting back into the room, says that he’s connected to the flesh (our Doctor felt it, too, but not as strongly). He can feel what they feel and what they want.

The end result of this is that the ganger Doctor is isolated on a barrel in the corner, even though our Doctor says that he is him and so on.

Rory finds Jennifer, but there are two Jennifers, which makes things a bit tricky.

RORY: So one of you is human, and one of you I’ve sat with and talked with.

He’s a such a sweetheart, Rory.

He says that the Doctor wants the gangers to live, and he’s with the Doctor all the way.

But the Jennifers fight, and one (the one that’s not limping) falls into a pool of acid, and melts into a puddle of flesh.

In the evac tower, they spot Rory and Jennifer heading towards the thermostatic chamber, and send someone out to find them.

DOCTOR: Am I crazy, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Well, you did once plug your brain into the core of a planet to halt its orbit and win a bet.

In the thermostatic chamber, Jennifer gets Rory to turn the machine on.

JENNIFER: It’s this wheel. It’s just too strong for a girl to turn. Are you feeling strong?
RORY: I’ll break out the big guns.

And he makes an adorable bicep-flexing gesture. Say again: such a sweetheart.

She uses Rory’s hand to get a the machine to recognise a human user.

Hmmm.

Of course, the machine has actually turned off all the cooling vents, so that the entire island is now sitting on litres and litres of boiling acid.

That can’t be good.

Elsewhere, the gangers have guessed Cleaves’s codeword, and Cleaves has an inoperable blood clot in her brain. The gangers re-route the rescue shuttle.

In a locked (or formerly locked) room, deep underground, Rory and Jennifer find a room full of discarded flesh, left to rot still conscious, because it was faulty.

That is actually pretty cold.

On their rescue mission, the ganger Doctor and Buzzer find Jennifer—human Jennifer—who slips into death just as they find her. She’s been lying out in the cold for hours and hours, waiting for someone to find her.

Poor Jennifer.

And who’s with Rory?

Buzzer knocks the Doctor on the head, and leaves him to lie in the yard.

The others, running for the thermostat room and safety, pass the wall that ganger Jennifer was marking with circles of flesh earlier, to find the wall peppered with eyeballs—accusing eyeballs.

Ganger Jennifer, speaking to the discarded flesh, finds Buzzer and kills him in another slightly unconvincing special effect.

But the main group meet up with Rory, who says that Jennifer has a way out of the monastery, a tunnel that isn’t on the schematics.

The gangers find the injured ganger Doctor, and take him under their wing.

He says that they should call him John Smith.

Rory and Jennifer lock the main group into a secure room. Rory isn’t happy about this, but Jennifer tells him a story that the ganger Jennifer originally told him. She flashes ganger eyes at him, and drags him off, over Amy’s insistence that he should open the door again.

Rory’s completely furious that Jennifer’s dead and that the ganger Jennifer created (and killed) another ganger Jennifer just to gain his confidence.

Jennifer’s preaching revolution again, and Nick wonders how the gangers know that this is the ganger Doctor. Perhaps because they left him in the yard with a bump on his head?

The group locked in the secure room are facing an exploding tank of acid, any minute now.

The Doctor’s delayed phone call (which I can’t remember mentioning before, but I might have) comes through: it’s to Jimmy’s son. And since ganger Jimmy is there, he gets to have a cheery birthday phone call with his son. But he doesn’t—he runs off to rescue actual proper Jimmy. And ganger Cleaves tells ganger Dickens to drain the acid pit in whatever room the others are in.

Jennifer, though, says she’ll take revenge on humanity with or without the others, and storms off in the middle of the Doctor’s heartwarming speech about the other, non-revenge options.

Ganger Jimmy gets there just in time to see Jimmy take a litre of acid to the sternum. Since the acid has “reached his heart”, there’s nothing they can do to save him. But he still has time to make a long, dying speech, and pass his son (and wife, presumably. Ew.) over to his ganger’s keeping.

Is that really how hearts work? Or, for that matter, acid?

The annoying child is still on the phone when the others come back to the main dining room, so ganger Jimmy—who is now the only Jimmy—has time to have a lovely birthday conversation with his new son.

Now they need to move, says the Doctor.

And it’s true that ganger Jennifer—who is now the only Jennifer, of course—is a bit hysterical and, well, monstrous now.

I have a bit of a problem with this monster, and it’s not just because, once again, the special effects aren’t very convincing. But I don’t really have time—in fact, Dickens died while I was typing that I didn’t have any time to discuss it.

Everyone discusses who will stay behind to hold the door shut, while the TARDIS (which has just dropped through the roof) dematerialises. But it looks as though the Doctor’s planning on staying behind. Until the ganger Doctor points out that they swapped shoes, and he’s been the real Doctor all along.

Amy tells the ganger Doctor that he’s twice the man she thought he was. And he tells her to push, “but only when she tells you to.”

The Doctor tells the ganger Doctor that his molecular memory might survive, but his flesh has definitely gone, as he uses the sonic screwdriver to collapse himself and ganger Cleaves.

The TARDIS, says the Doctor, has stabilised the gangers. They’re people now, he says.

And he cures Cleaves’s blood clot.

And drops Jimmy off with his son.

And drops Cleaves and ganger Dickens—now the only Dickens—off to give a big press conference for their company.

They head in, to questions and flashbulbs. And the Doctor tells Amy to breathe—just in time for some apparently crippling stomach cramps.

Oh, sorry: contractions. She’s going into labour.

With that flat stomach? Really?

The Doctor says that he needed to see the flesh in its early days, that’s why he scanned it, and why he tried to drop them off for fish and chips.

He needed enough information to block the signal to the flesh, to Amy.

He tells Rory to stand away, and Rory (who trusts the Doctor with both his life and his wife) does so.

The Doctor says that given what they’ve learnt, he’ll be as humane as he can be, but he has to do this. “I promise,” he says, “we’re coming for you.”

AMY: I’m right here.
DOCTOR: No, you’re not. You haven’t been here for a long, long time.

And he dissolves her into flesh.

And Amy, waking up in a tube, looks down over her own enormous stomach to see the eyepatch woman telling her to push, and screams us into the “To be continued” screen.

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Six: "The Rebel Flesh"

Posted 28 May 2011 in by Catriona

So here we are, for a new Matthew Graham episode. I admit, this episode fills me with trepidation, given that I loathed loathed loathed “Fear Her”. But Matthew Graham is a good writer, so let’s hope he hasn’t mis-judged the audience again for this one.

Also, our peanut gallery is back! Well, one half of the peanut gallery is here.

Of course, the peanut gallery is currently distracted by a tennis player’s biceps, but I’m sure she’ll be paying attention again in a minute.

In other exciting news, I have been marking forever (and a day), so I can’t promise that this will be either funny or, indeed, coherent.

Ooh, Alcatraz! Or something. It’s oddly creepy, even for Alcatraz, and it’s full of people in boiler suits.

HEATHER (whispering to Nick): Is it a parking garage?

They head into a room with a giant vat of something. Something smoking. Something that requires hazmat suits. As they take readings on the “acid”, one of them, Buzz, climbs up onto the vat, and is accidentally pushed in by his co-worker.

WOMAN: I shouldn’t have nudged him. Sorry, Buzz, my bad.

But he’s actually melting, as his co-workers leave him behind, complaining about the cost of the hamzat suits.

But there he is outside!

He says he could get worker’s compensation, but apparently he’s not dead but is melting at the same time. And he’s not worth as much as a hazmat suit.

Credits!

In the TARDIS, there’s Muse playing. Why? Oh god, why? Amy and Rory are playing darts, and Rory is either losing or being cheated by his missus. The Doctor runs another pregnancy test.

NICK: Doctor, stop pregnancy testing Amy. It’s creepy.

The Doctor tries to drop Amy and Rory off for fish and chips, but Amy resists, and then they’re hit by a solar tsunami.

Chaos ensues.

They land.

DOCTOR: A cockerel. Love a cockerel.

Rory says they’re not in the thirteenth century, because he can hear Dusty Springfield.

HEATHER: Well, she’s pretty old, isn’t she?

They head in, to satisfy the Doctor’s “rabid curiosity.” Rory burns himself with acid, but luckily it’s old acid, or he would have lost a finger.

Then they trigger an intruder alert, but luckily, as Nick points out, the security is pretty rubbish. That’s because most of the people are locked into some sort of harnesses.

Well, except that they’re also simultaneously running in, holding a variety of weapons.

The Doctor pretends to be a meteorological expert, blaming the solar storm for his presence. But they scan them for bugs—since this is a military base and they’re contractors—and when they come up clean, the Doctor talks them into letting him see their “critical systems”.

WOMAN: Which one?
DOCTOR: Oh, you know which one.
NICK: Total bluff.

Well, it’s a giant vat of fake flesh. Or, as Heather would have it, cream of chicken soup.

NICK: Cream of human soup.
(Pause)
ME AND HEATHER: No.

They’re a long description here about the “flesh” and the “gangers” (doppelgangers), but it’s too complicated to translate here, especially since the Doctor just stuck his hand in the flesh.

Why, Doctor? Why?

NICK: Doctor, you know by now, if there’s something interesting around, you shouldn’t stick your hand in it.
HEATHER: Even if it’s papier mache paste.

Luckily, another solar storm is about to hit.

Jennifer (the cutely accented girl who knocked her co-worker into the acid) climbs into her harness, as they form a ganger for her out of the flesh, in front of Amy, Rory, and the Doctor.

It’s a creepy process, all right. Especially before the face is fully formed. But when it’s done, the ganger looks exactly like Jennifer.

The group prepare to continue pumping acid until the mainland tells them to stop. Especially since they get their power from a solar rotator. The Doctor’s quite enthusiastic about their need to prepare for the storm, but the woman in charge says, well, she’s in charge.

The Doctor heads out to find a monitoring station. But he barely gets there before the solar storm starts shaking the building. The connection to the solar power is the problem.

DOCTOR: I’ve got to get to that cockerel before all hell breaks loose. I never thought I’d have to say that again.

The storm roaring overhead is absolutely gorgeous. Wouldn’t want to be in one, though.

The acid pipes start breaking and the TARDIS starts sinking.

The gangers watch their counterparts, who are helpless in their harnesses. And the Doctor barely reaches the cockerel before the storm hits it and he’s thrown loose. Bit of an echo of “Vampires of Venice” there, but at least this is the beginning, not the end.

The Doctor, coming back to consciousness, finds the manager, and asks her why she isn’t in her harness.

Why does he assume she isn’t the ganger? We have a brief spirited debate on that topic, and I miss some stuff. As I pay attention again, they’re letting everyone out of their harnesses, and the manager explains that once the link is broken, the gangers return to flesh.

But the Doctor didn’t know that, so my question still stands.

Plus, someone is playing Dusty Springfield, so the question still (still) stands.

The Doctor says that the storm has animated the gangers, and the people whose gangers they are freak out completely at this idea.

MANAGER: Stolen lives.
DOCTOR: Bequeathed. You gave them your lives.

The staff still seem uncertain that the gangers can work when they’re not plugged into the harnesses. But Jennifer’s feeling unwell, and she heads off to the toilets. Rory runs after her, saying that the Doctor’s first rule is “don’t wander off”.

HEATHER: ‘I’ve had too many marshmallows”.
ME: What do you mean?
HEATHER: You’ll see.

Then Jennifer throws up a dollop of “flesh”.

ME AND NICK: Ew!

I’ll never eat another marshmallow.

Jennifer, fleeing into a cubicle, sticks out a snake head and tells Rory they just need to live.

It’s not the most convincing effect.

Then the Doctor proves that the manager (Cleaves) is a ganger, as well, by handing her a red-hot plate from the microwave. Then her face goes all funny, she shrieks, “We are living!”, and runs out of the room.

Amy wants to know where Rory is, but, of course, he’s chasing after Jennifer, because she’s distressed and Rory is soft. (And I mean that as a compliment.)

Much running around the castle ensues, as the ganger Jennifer goes looking for Rory. The others manage to follow Rory into the toilets, realising that Jennifer is a ganger, too.

The Doctor clearly knows something about the flesh (as another man points out, he called it “early technology”), but he won’t tell them what it is. He just says that he can fix it. They agree that he’ll head back to the TARDIS and the others will wait in the dining hall.

Amy, though, heads off to find Rory, apparently walking straight through acid to do so.

I only know about three character names at this point, and we’re more than halfway through the episode.

Rory, elsewhere, comes across ganger Jennifer, talking about a time when she wandered away from a picnic and got lost on the moors. At the time, she imagined another Jennifer, a strong Jennifer, a tough Jennifer, who could lead her home. She’s looking at a picture of her child-self as she talks about this, and at her own, partly formed face in a hand mirror. She’s trying to reconcile the fact that she is Jennifer and a factory part at the same time.

Rory doesn’t help, asking where the real Jennifer is.

Ganger Jennifer says that she is Jennifer. “I’m me … me … me,” she says, beating herself on the chest. Every time she strikes her breast, she flips into warm human, and then back to greyish flesh. Lovely, lovely effect.

“Help me, Rory!” she says.

NICK: Help me, Rory. Help help me, Rory.
HEATHER: Stop it, Nick. It’s a very sentimental scene. We don’t need your Beach Boys references.

The TARDIS has sunk into the ground, the flesh in the tank is talking, one of the human crewmen keeps sneezing (relevant?), and the gangers have the acid suits. That means they can strike at will, and they will.

Ganger Jennifer gets excited when Rory says the Doctor wants to help Jennifer. “You used my name!” she coos, and she kisses him on the cheek.

HEATHER: Yeah, well, I wasn’t actually talking about you.

Amy opens a mysterious door, and see the eyepatch woman looking out of what seems to be a blank wall. As she slams the door shut again, Rory and the ganger Jennifer are on the other side. Rory offers ganger Jennifer protection, even though Amy says dismissively, “It’s a ganger.”

Elsewhere, the Doctor find the other gangers, and offers them assistance. He tells them that if they can hold their fully human forms, the others will be less scared. Not if they can see how you can turn your heads 180 degrees, they won’t be.

Ganger Jennifer, in the dining hall, is trying to convince the others that she is Jennifer Lucas, but they’re resistant. They’re even more resistant when the Doctor marches in with a bunch of gangers behind him.

Cleaves, elsewhere, isn’t thrilled about this, mumbling to herself, “Make a football team, why don’t you?”

Well, you can’t make a football team with nine people, for a start.

The Doctor offers to take everyone off the planet, humans and gangers alike. But when one of the gangers starts talking about his son, there’s a strange tension between the groups. The man who knows he’s the father is deeply uncomfortable with this.

Then Cleaves comes back in with a circuit probe, which carries about 40,000 volts (and, which the Doctor points out, Cleaves calls “she”).

GANGER CLEAVES: Oh, that is so typically me.

Ganger Buzz charges Cleaves, and she kills him.

CLEAVES: We call it decommissioned.

The gangers, not surprisingly are not the slightest bit happy about this. They flee, but Cleaves is immune to the Doctor’s reproaches. “If it’s war, it’s war,” she says. “It’s us and them now.”

Elsewhere, ganger Jennifer is saying exactly the same thing. It’s interesting that she’s in charge, and not ganger Cleaves.

Ganger Jennifer says that she’ll take care of the spare running around, and we see Jennifer for the first time since she put herself in harness, limping badly, and being scared by something groping around in the darkness.

The Doctor wants the most defensible room in the castle (the chapel), warning that the gangers are coming back in a big way.

They certainly are, in the acid suits.

Rory refuses to enter, saying that he can’t leave Jennifer alone. And he dashes off down a side corridor as the gangers, in their suits, appear.

The others barricade themselves into the chapel, but something else is already there.

DOCTOR: Show yourself! Right now.

Amy says that this is a horrific mess, and the Doctor agrees. But he’s not the Doctor.

GANGER DOCTOR: Trust me. I’m the Doctor.
HEATHER: I’m a pillow!

I think she means the ganger Doctor, rather than herself.

Next week: more gangers!

Strange Conversations: Part Three Hundred and Sixty-One

Posted 25 May 2011 in by Catriona

While watching the Fifth Doctor story “Kinda”:

ME: Our reactions to this story rather sum up our different approaches to the genre.
NICK: Why?
ME: You said, “It’s anthropological science-fiction in the vein of Ursula Le Guin!”
NICK: And you said?
ME: I said, “Those aliens look a bit Welsh.”

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Six: "The Doctor's Wife"

Posted 21 May 2011 in by Catriona

Right, things got a bit fraught there for a minute, but now I’m all set to live-blog the Neil Gaiman episode of Doctor Who.

All set, but a bit nervous. Understandable, under the circumstances. I’m anxious to make a good thing out of this, but also anxious that I’ll get completely flustered and the whole thing will become one long fangirl squeal.

Ooops, spoilers.

We open on a creepy, green-tinged planet. A woman who looks like Helena Bonham-Carter says, “Will it be me, Uncle?” And Uncle says, yes: it’s Idris’s turn, and it’s going to be really painful, as Nephew (an Ood) drains her mind and soul from her body, leaving her body empty for a new soul.

“There’s a Time Lord coming,” says a woman.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor tells an unsavoury anecdote about a robot king who wasn’t a robot king, and then someone knocks at the door.

The scrumptious little beauty knocking at the door is a Time Lord emergency message system (a little box) from a Time Lord called the Corsair.

DOCTOR: Didn’t feel like himself unless he had that tattoo somewhere. Or herself, a couple of times. Ooh, she was a bad girl.

Well, that’s Time Lord gender change made canonical, then.

Time Lords are all but extinct in our galaxy, but this is coming from outside our universe, and the Doctor is burning up some spare rooms (including the swimming pool, the scullery, and squash court 7) to get through the Rift and out to a small, greenish planet.

But once they land there, the TARDIS starts to power down. Everything’s draining, says the Doctor, though this is impossible. The soul of the TARDIS has vanished. “Where would it go?” asks the Doctor.

And then Idris comes gasping back to life, but her gasp is the TARDIS dematerialisation sound.

Ooh-er.

Credits.

The Doctor steps out of the TARDIS, into a planet that looks like a junkyard.

RORY: What is this place? The scrapyard at the end of the universe?
DOCTOR: Outside the universe, not the end of it.

The Doctor explains it as being not anything like a soap bubble with a tiny bubble clinging to the end of it. Then he shifts to the universe being a plug hole.

Then Idris turns up and kisses him, calling him her thief.

UNCLE: Strangers. Welcome. Sorry about the mad woman.

He introduces himself, the motherly woman introduces herself as Auntie, Nephew keeps in the background, and Idris is casually restrained.

UNCLE: Keep back from this one. She bites.
IDRIS: Do I?

And she bites the Doctor.

IDRIS: Biting is excellent. It’s like kissing, only there’s a winner.

Idris is clearly not entirely comfortable with language, and keeps trying to snog the Doctor. She tells him that the little boxes will make him angry and that his chin is hilarious. She defines “petrichor” for Rory, telling him that he will need to know what it means at some point, and then faints.

The Doctor spots Nephew, and manages to fix his communication device, which then broadcasts dozens and dozens of messages from Time Lords.

The Doctor’s noticeably staggered by this, though Auntie says that there’s only the four of them, and House.

The Doctor wants to know what House is, and they say it’s the world. They offer to introduce the Doctor to House, and he accepts because he’s fascinated by the fact that somewhere nearby, there are lots and lots of Time Lords.

In a cage elsewhere, Idris is struggling to think of a word, a big word and a sad word.

But the Doctor is realising that the asteroid is sentient—sentient and creepy. I wish I could manage, in the time I had, to express how creepy it is when Auntie and Uncle shut down.

House says that there have been many TARDISes on his back in days gone by, and the Doctor points out that he’s the last one. No more TARDISes here. The Doctor asks whether he can look around, and they say, yes, he can look around all he likes.

Idris calls for her thief.

The Doctor wants to save his friends, though Amy objects.

AMY: You want to be forgiven.
DOCTOR: Well, don’t we all.

The Doctor sends Amy back to the TARDIS for his screwdriver, and then sends Rory off to look after Amy, much to Amy’s annoyance.

RORY: He’ll be fine. He’s a Time Lord.
AMY: It’s just what they’re called. Doesn’t mean he actually knows what he’s doing.

Of course, the Doctor has his screwdriver, so it’s not a good sign when the TARDIS door automatically locks behind them.

The Doctor traces the voices to a little cupboard. He says, “They can’t all be in here”—but they are, because they’re just the cubes. Auntie and Uncle appear behind him.

DOCTOR: Just admiring your Time Lord distress-call collection.

He challenges Auntie and Uncle, realising that they’re cobbled together from bits and pieces from other people. Auntie, for example, has the Corsair’s arm.

AUNTIE: He was a strapping big bloke, wasn’t he, Uncle? I got the arm, and Uncle, he got the spine and the kidneys.
DOCTOR: You gave me hope and then you took it away. That’s enough to make anyone dangerous. God knows what it’ll do to me.

He tells them to run, but Uncle says it’s too late: House is too clever.

Amy rings, and the Doctor reveals that he locked the doors behind them. But the Doctor has remembered that Idris knew that the boxes would make him angry. He goes to find Idris, while the TARDIS is surrounded by a mysterious green light.

The Doctor doesn’t know who Idris is, until she makes the dematerialisation noise.

IDRIS: I’m the TARDIS.
DOCTOR: No, you’re not. You’re a bitey mad lady.

Idris says that the Doctor stole her, and she stole him.

DOCTOR: I borrowed you.
IDRIS: Borrowed implies an intention to give back. What makes you think that I’d ever give you back?

She talks the Doctor into letting her out of the cage.

IDRIS: Are all humans like this?
DOCTOR: Like what?
IDRIS: So much bigger on the inside.

Through a complicated conversation that I can’t repeat, they realise that House removes the TARDIS matrix so that he can feed off the remaining Rift energy without being destroyed. And as the Doctor runs to try and save Amy and Rory, the Cloister Bell starts ringing.

Not the Cloister Bell!

Amy and Rory hold hands, and the TARDIS dematerialises.

Rory says that they’re safe because they’re in the TARDIS, but House says they’re half right—they’re in the TARDIS—and asks why he shouldn’t kill them straight away.

The Doctor runs off to find Auntie and Uncle, but it’s time for them to die, which they do promptly after explaining that House is off to our Universe, to find more TARDISes.

Idris, whose body is failing under the stress, tells him to be calm.

DOCTOR: How? I’m a madman with a box, without the box!

But then he realises that it’s a junkyard of dead TARDISes, which gives him some hope.

DOCTOR: Do you have a name?
IDRIS: 700 years, finally he asks. I think you call me … Sexy.
DOCTOR: Only when we’re alone!

In the TARDIS, House is thrilled by his new corridors, but still wants to know why he shouldn’t just kill them. Rory’s best idea is that killing them quickly wouldn’t be much fun. Which is a fair point, but a bit silly.

House tells them to run.

The Doctor and Idris find the valley of half-eaten TARDISes.

DOCTOR: Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
IDRIS: I’m thinking all my sisters are dead; they’ve been devoured, and we’re looking at their corpses.
DOCTOR: No, sorry. I wasn’t thinking that at all.

No, the Doctor is thinking that he can build a new TARDIS, even though it’s impossible. Idris accuses the Doctor of being like a nine-year-old rebuilding a motorcycle in his bedroom and never reading the instructions.

IDRIS: There’s a sign on my door. You’ve been walking past it for 700 years. What does it say?
DOCTOR: That’s not instructions!
IDRIS: There’s an instruction at the bottom. What does it say?
DOCTOR: ‘Pull to open’.
IDRIS: And what do you do?
DOCTOR: I push.

He says that Idris wasn’t reliable, because she didn’t always take him where he wanted to go. No, she says: she always took him where he needed to go.

She did! says the Doctor. And he thinks it would be brilliant if they could always talk like this. But the TARDIS isn’t built that way. And at this point, they need to keep working, because Idris’s body is failing and the universe they’re in is also failing.

Elsewhere, Amy and Rory keep being separated by the doors in the TARDIS corridors, as House plays with them.

The Doctor has half a console room built, but it doesn’t work.

IDRIS: Did you ever wonder why I chose you, all those years ago?
DOCTOR: I chose you. You were unlocked.
IDRIS: Of course I was! I wanted to see the Universe, so I stole a Time Lord and I ran away. And you were the only one brave enough.

House continues to terrorise Amy and Rory, showing Amy an ancient, tortured, brutal Rory.

The Doctor can’t power his console room up, to his frustration. But he still has the TARDIS, in Idris, and she has the power to get them started.

They dematerialise.

On the TARDIS, Amy stumbles across Rory’s corpse and his anti-Amy graffiti. But as she’s weeping over him, the real Rory comes around the corner, and the corpse and the graffiti all vanish.

They run again.

The Doctor and Idris are locked onto the TARDIS. But the TARDIS needs to lower the shields, and the Doctor asks her to get a telepathic message to Amy.

IDRIS: Which one’s Amy? The pretty one?

Of course, she messages Rory, but she gets the message through, sending him to her collection of archived control rooms. She has about thirty, though the Doctor has only “changed the desktop” about a dozen times.

House keeps messing with them; Amy can’t see and Rory seems to have banged his head. But Amy moves towards his voice, past his unconscious body … towards Nephew. She realises who he is when she grasps the tentacles, and she and Rory run.

The Doctor and Idris tear through the Rift.

DOCTOR: You’re doing it, you sexy thing!
IDRIS: See, you do call me that! Is it my name?
DOCTOR: You bet it’s your name!

Rory and Amy reach the old control room, and Amy realises that the key is telepathic, hence the need to know the meaning of petrichor.

They arrive in an old control room: it’s the Ninth Doctor’s control room, though I’d have liked an older one. They lower the shields, but Nephew works his way into the control room, and, on House’s orders, moves to kill them.

Then the Doctor and Idris rematerialise.

DOCTOR: Amy, this is … well, she’s my TARDIS. Except she’s a woman. She’s a woman, and she’s my TARDIS.
AMY: She’s the TARDIS?
DOCTOR: And she’s a woman! She’s a woman, and she’s my TARDIS.
AMY: Did you wish really hard?

Nephew is dead, and Idris isn’t in good condition, either. But House can still kill them, if he wants.

Rory looks after Idris, while the Doctor tells House that if he deletes 30% of the TARDIS rooms, he can achieve enough thrust to make it through into their own universe.

House says he’ll start by deleting the room they’re in, thus ridding himself of vermin.

And he does.

But the TARDIS has a failsafe. And they rematerialise in the main control room.

HOUSE: Fear me. I’ve killed hundreds of Time Lords.
DOCTOR: Fear me. I’ve killed them all.

And, as the Doctor points out, though Idris is dead, the TARDIS matrix, whom he ripped from her home and forced into Idris’s body, is back in the control room now. And she’s free.

The TARDIS matrix drives House out of the TARDIS, as the Doctor watches and encourages her.

And then Idris calls to the Doctor. She’s glowing with golden light. She tells the Doctor that she’s been searching for a word, a big complicated word, but so sad. And she’s found it.

DOCTOR: What word?
IDRIS: Alive.
DOCTOR: Alive isn’t sad.
IDRIS: It is when it’s over. I’ll always be here. But this is when we talked. And there’s something I wanted to say to you.
DOCTOR: Goodbye.
IDRIS: No. Hello. Hello, Doctor. It’s so very, very nice to meet you.
DOCTOR: Please. I don’t want you to.

But she has to. She’s back in the TARDIS now, but she’s gone, too. She can’t talk again.

Rory says that at the end, she kept repeating, “The only water in the forest is the river.” She said they’d need to know that at some point.

Rory’s bothered by Idris’s death, despite having seen death many times.

DOCTOR: Letting it get to you. You know what that’s called? Being alive.

He asks the TARDIS where they should go this time.

DOCTOR: What do you think, dear? Where should we take the kids this time?
AMY: Look at you. It’s always you two, long after the rest have gone.

The Doctor tells them that he’ll make them a new bedroom, and Amy and Rory ask if they can have something other than bunkbeds this time, despite the Doctor pointing out that they’re beds with a ladder.

They head off to bed, and the Doctor’s left, as always, with his TARDIS.

Next week: a Matthew Graham episode, but it looks much, much better than “Fear Her”.

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