by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Liveblogging”

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).


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?


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?


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.


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.
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.

Technical Issues

Posted 10 September 2011 in by Nick

Live-blogging is delayed tonight due to technical issues. We hope to have it up within the next day or so.

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?

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.


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!

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.

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?
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!

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.


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.


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.


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.

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”.


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!

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.



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.

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.

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”.

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Six: "The Curse of the Black Spot"

Posted 14 May 2011 in by Catriona

Here I am, in a little side dimension in which Doctor Who doesn’t clash with the second semi-final of Eurovision. You can’t say I’m not a dedicated live-blogger.

In this side dimension, it’s a bit cold and my back really, really hurts. I don’t dare take muscle relaxants, lest the live-blogging degenerate into unfocused gibberish. (I do aim for focused gibberish.) But I’m here, and the episode is here, and my back pain is here, so let’s see if they can all play nicely together, shall we?

I’ll be honest: I’m inclined to dislike this one just on the basis of its title. It seems as though it’s intended to be funny without actually being, you know, very funny.

We open on a misty ocean, with swarthy pirate types rowing towards a ship. They’re not thrilled, and Kenny from Press Gang asks what’s wrong. A man’s wounded, apparently.

They wake Captain Hugh Bonneville.

The captain checks the sailor’s hand, seeing a slight scratch.

He tells the sailor he’s a dead man, just like all the others. And we hear a woman’s voice singing ethereally. The sailor says he can escape, but instead he just disappears into a scream and some off-cuts from the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack.

The sailors whine about being shark bait, before the Doctor leaps out of a hatch.

DOCTOR: Yo ho ho! Or does nobody actually say that?


The TARDIS is below decks: the Doctor claims that his sensors picked up a ship in distress.

Kenny thinks they’re spirits, and the captain doesn’t seem convinced by the Doctor’s modern gibberish. He thinks they’re stowaways, since the ship’s been becalmed for eight days.

KENNY: What do we do with them?
CAPTAIN: Oh, I think they deserve our hospitality.

That means walking the plank.

The sailors all roar with laughter.

DOCTOR: I think doing that laugh must be in the job description. Can you do the laugh? Great! Grab yourself a parrot. Welcome aboard!

They take the doxy (that would be Amy) below decks, over Rory’s faint protests that “She’s not a doxy, all right?” And the Doctor’s ready to walk the plank, after asking the sailors to do the laugh again.

Amy, below decks, find some cutlasses and a truly awesome coat.

She shows back up deck just as the Doctor is rambling about the small number of crew members.

The captain says a sword could kill them all, and they do seem quite terrified of it. Mind, Amy’s surprisingly good with it.

She manages to slice one of the pirates in passing.

PIRATE: You have killed me.
AMY: No way. It’s just a cut!

That’s good, because Rory’s got a cut as well. And now he has a black spot on his palm, too.

Apparently, the ocean-borne demon can smell the blood, and now she’ll rise from the depths and take Rory and the other pirate.

But the song has an unusual effect, and Rory’s gone all soggy and sentimental, telling Amy that she should dress as a pirate more often.

RORY: Everything is totally brilliant, isn’t it? Look at these brilliant pirates. Look at their brilliant beards!

And then there’s a strange glowing patch on the waters, and the siren rises from the depths, singing (or maybe bringing the music with her).

NICK: I’m sure you could see her knickers at one point there.

Amy holds Rory back, but they just let the pirate walk forwards, touch the siren’s hand, and burst into a puff of dust.

Amy tells the siren that Rory’s spoken for; the siren turns red and fierce, and throws Amy across the deck. And they all flee below deck.

The Doctor raves about Freud and his comfy sofa for a bit before someone is fortuitously bitten by a leech, which distracts everyone. The Doctor says they’re safe from the siren here, before she appears in front of them.

They retreat even further, behind another door. The Doctor says that she’s using the water as a portal, so the captain says that they should retreat to the magazine: since the powder’s kept there, the place is bone dry.

The key to the magazine has gone, but the door is open. Someone else is hiding there.

The door’s barricaded behind them, just in time for them to hear a suspicious coughing from an empty barrel. It’s a small boy, who turns out to be the captain’s son.

The captain says that the boy’s mother will be searching for him, but it’s all right: she’s dead.

This bit I find confusing. The captain recognises this boy as his son, but the boy is talking as though he’s never seen his father, as though he doesn’t know anything but what his mother’s told him. So, if he hasn’t seen his father since he was a toddler (the boy was a toddler, not the father: stupid pronouns), would the father immediately recognise him? And if that’s a stupid question, how would the boy know where to find his father, since this man is clearly not—as the boy’s mother claimed—an honourable man and a navy officer?

Never mind all that. Let’s get back to the killing.

The boy keeps coughing. I’m sure that’s not important to the narrative.

The captain says it’s too dangerous for the boy to stay, but he’s already been marked by the black spot, so that’s all right. The boy hasn’t bled, but he does have a fever. She’s coming for all the sick and injured.

The Doctor says that they can all leave in the TARDIS, just before the boy opens a barrel of water and the siren sticks her hand out.

Leaving the boy and others behind, the captain and the Doctor head out to find the TARDIS, to get them all away.

DOCTOR: We’ve all got to go sometimes. There are worse ways than having your face gnawed off by a dodgy mermaid.

The captain copes quite well with the weirdness of the TARDIS, before Amy nags Rory a bit.

Kenny and the other pirate decide to leave the magazine, while elsewhere the Doctor explains the TARDIS’s workings.

TOBY: He told you to wait, you dog. He’s your captain.

Kenny tells Toby that his father is a pirate, which is maybe a bit mean, but then Toby did call him a dog. He also tells Toby that his father has gunned down a thousand innocent men.

The TARDIS is becalmed.

DOCTOR: You had to gloat, didn’t you?

Toby stops Kenny from leaving by slicing his hand open with a cutlass.

Oh my god: you killed Kenny! You bastard!

(I had to. You understand, right?)

Seriously, that’s pretty cold for a ten-year-old boy. Even a seventeenth-century ten-year-old boy. He really takes this chain of command thing seriously, does Toby.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor can’t get a lock on the plane. And then the TARDIS throws a complete fit.

Elsewhere, Kenny is furious, but recognises that he can’t really shoot them, not with all the powder around, and he can’t leave. But Mulligan, the last pirate, can and does leave.

The Doctor can’t bring the TARDIS under control. She’s about to dematerialise, so the Doctor gives the order to abandon ship. The TARDIS disappears in a familiar green haze with a sick wheeze.

They dash back to the magazine, meeting Mulligan on the way. He has the supplies, but the captain is more worried about his treasure and gives chase. Hiding, Mulligan burns his hand on a lamp. Up pops the siren: bang goes Mulligan. But there’s no water in that room. So how did she get in?

DOCTOR: I was wrong. Please ignore all my theories up to this point.

Apparently, she’s coming in through reflections. So this seems a good time for Toby to polish the medal his father left him.

The Doctor and the captain rush back to the magazine, to warn Amy, Rory, and Toby.

Wait. Where’s Kenny? Did an entire pirate just disappear?

The Doctor smashes everything reflective that he can find, and tries to throw the captain’s treasure overboard. Luckily, the captain seems to listen to reason, and heads off to grab the crown.

A breeze comes up, rippling the surface of the ocean.

Seriously, Kenny’s completely disappeared. How did they lose an entire pirate? Did the siren grab him off-camera? Wouldn’t someone mention that to the captain?

Now Toby says that there’s been no word from his father for three years—presumably, that’s when he turned pirate. But that doesn’t mean that’s the last time he was home. That bothers me.

Amy, dreaming (or not), sees the woman with the eye-patch again, who tells her that she’s doing fine, and to stay calm.

On deck, the Doctor and the captain talk about their experiences as captains. The Doctor’s a bit nosy about how the captain turned pirate, but the captain’s a reticent man.

Where’s Kenny? Does anyone care?

A storm comes up, with what seems like surprising suddenness to me—and I live in a sub-tropical city. The captain demands everyone climb up into the rigging so they can cut loose the sail. Or furl it. Or something nautical. I remember reading somewhere that you cut sails loose in a storm so the ship doesn’t capsize. But then aren’t you short a sail? Maybe you only cut them loose in an emergency?

Note to all: don’t get stuck with me on a sailing ship in a storm. You’ll all die.

CAPTAIN: Heave ho, you bilge rats.
RORY: “Rats” is all I heard.

Toby grabs the captain’s coat … and out rolls the crown. That’s not ideal.

And sure enough, the siren pops out of the crown and draws Toby towards her. He touches her hand and explodes into dust. Amy holds Rory, to keep him from the siren.

The Doctor lambasts the captain for his greed, but Rory’s knocked overboard when the sails (or mast or something nautical) swings round.

Amy wants to leap in, but the Doctor says that Rory can only be saved by the siren, and releases her from the barrel.

DOCTOR: That thing isn’t just a ravenous hunter. It’s intelligent. We can reason with it. And maybe, just maybe, they’re still alive somewhere.

But why would you think that? There’s been no reason to think that, given her past behaviour.

So they all prick their fingers.

Now that’s an insane leap of faith, right there.

Also? Where’s Kenny? How do you lose a pirate?

Seemingly, they’re in an alternative dimension, which overlaps with the captain’s ship. But didn’t the captain say that the siren had been preying on other ships? Were they all becalmed in the same spot, then? Or was that just myth and this is reality?

This episode confuses me. And are we doing the corner-of-the-eye/world-in-the-mirror schtick again?

This alternative ship is the one that was sending the distress call. And there’s some humour about mucus that I’m not transcribing.

In a mysterious room full of floating beds, they find all their loved ones.

AMY: Rory!

The pirates are there, too. And there’s Kenny! Hey, we found Kenny!

That’s one giant flaw in the editing, right there.

Hiding and looking at the siren as she wanders among the beds, the Doctor decides that her song is an anaesthetic, by which she puts the patients into stasis.

And at this point, Nick guesses what’s going on.

Yes, she’s an emergency medical hologram, just like in Voyager. She won’t let them take the patients out of the sick bay, but apparently her programming is intelligent enough that she can recognise Amy’s prior claim on Rory. Do they have marriage on her planet? How would she understand marriage just from watching a bunch of seventeenth-century pirates? Were they marrying one another to pass the time?

Actually, how did she model herself on an attractive human woman when all she’s come across are pirates? (There’s no one else in the sickbay but the pirates, apparently.)

Never mind that.

They can’t move Rory, because he’s at the point of death, what with the drowning and all. So he has to stay, or Amy has to learn how to do CPR well enough to save her sort-of-drowning-on-dry-land husband once they unlock him.

The Doctor, meanwhile, wants to send the ship back into space, to stop the siren getting to dry land and forcibly healing everyone. (Shades of “The Empty Child”/“The Doctor Dances” now.)

The captain decides to stay with his son, whom the Doctor quickly diagnoses with typhoid fever. And the Doctor and Amy drag Rory into the TARDIS, where they perform CPR on him for roughly twenty years before giving up. But that’s all right: maybe because he used to be an Auton, Rory can be saved by the power of love alone. Remember how that worked in the Winston Churchill episode?

Now, why is this episode reminding me of the Winston Churchill episode, I wonder?

Anyway, he’s alive.

The captain and Toby sail the ship through space, supported by a pirate crew, including Kenny the Amazing Disappearing Pirate.

NICK: Yes, let’s give a bunch of pirates a spaceship.

Amy and Rory head off to bed, while the Doctor checks a scan of Amy’s appearing/disappearing pregnancy and wonders what she’s got herself into this time.

Next time: Neil Gaiman! Neil Gaiman! Neil Gaiman!

Live-blogging Eurovision: Semi-Final 2, 2011

Posted 14 May 2011 in by Catriona

Reminder: the Doctor Who live-blog for “Curse of the Black Spot” will be posted immediately after I finish live-blogging this semi-final, not after Doctor Who finishes airing.

This live-blogging brought to you by my abject failure to meet today’s marking quota.

Also brandy and lemonade.

Once again, Nick will be moderating the comments while I sit over here and bitch about the performers.

I like Julia’s dress! It’s tres funky.

I hope someone punches that male co-host properly this time.

I love the way they recognise the patriotism and the voting blocs. Just vote now! You don’t need to wait for the end or even until your country has performed! Vote! Vote like the wind!

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA: “Love in Rewind”, Merlin
Now, why are we mocking this man’s age when we could be mocking his yodelling?
Nick’s loving the guitar, but I’m actually a bit attracted this this song. It’s boppy and Euro-flavoured without being cloying. Just the way I like my Eurovision.
Also, I’d like to see more of the backdrop, because what I can see is intriguing.
I actually don’t hate this.
I know: I’m as surprised as you are.
We liked that. We’re voting for that, only not really.

AUSTRIA: “The Secret is Love”, Nadine Beiler
I’m automatically biased against anyone who just has themselves on stage.
Purely on the grounds that they’re less likely to have women rise out of grand pianos, or maybe ice skaters.
Disney lite, this.
But excellent legs, as always.
And “Disney lite” is a pretty damning inditement, given how light Disney itself always is.
NICK: I’m a bit worried about her eye shadow. From that angle, she looks like a Silent. So if we look away, we won’t remember what she’s singing.
ME: Let’s look away!
Key change!
Oooh, did she hit that?

Oh, whoa.
That hair should have a public health warning attached to it.
NICK: It’s times like this I’m pleased I’m bald.
I’m having terrible flashbacks to early high school. I swear I heard this exact song in 1989.
But I did my maths homework! The dog ate it!
I’m simultaneously bored and traumatised.

BELGIUM: “With Love Baby”, Witloof Bay
Wow, I’m bopping along to a song for the second time tonight!
NICK: He’s doing a bass line too! Crazy bastard!
The worst thing I can say about this is that the suits are truly, truly terrible. So is the hair, actually.
But the beatboxing is brilliant.
Two beatboxers! Okay, I’m loving these guys. I won’t remember the song in five minutes, but I’m loving them right now.
NICK: Bravo! I think the problem is that the presentation is hideous.

SLOVAKIA: “I’m Still Alive”, Twiins
So, they’re twins, right?
Hideous dresses, excellent legs.
Legs are to this year’s Eurovision what hair was to last year’s Eurovision.
NICK: They’ve got capes. Capes and boobs.
This seems a bit nasal to me, but then I know nothing about music.
Also? I really hate the modern fashion for Madonna partings and slicked-down hair.
NICK: I said capes and cleavage! Not capes and boobs! You’ll have to correct that!
We’re totally underwhelmed by this song. Even the fireworks aren’t winning us over.

You know what’s great? Brandy. Brandy and lemonade. I need more brandy!

Also? I’m been marking since 9 am. Hooray!

I want to go to tilt-shift Germany!

UKRAINE: “Angel”, Mika Newton
Ooh, sand painting!
I’ll be honest: I’m more interested in the sand painting her than in the song. The song is dull. The sand painting is incredible.
Nick’s digging the Cruella de Ville look on the sand painter.
I hope they get through so that I can watch the sand painting properly without having to type at the same time.
Seriously, how does she bring those subtleties of light and shade with just sand?
I paid no attention to the song at all.

MOLDOVA: “So Lucky”, Zdob si Zdub
I have no attention if I got that name right.
Wow, what’s with the wizard hats?
Is this actually happening, or is it a brandy hallucination?
There’s a unicycle.
This is definitely a brandy hallucination.
NICK: That girl on the unicycle looks a bit like Lucy Lawless. So I approve.
I would like this go through. We need psychotic gnomes in Eurovision.
That was insane.

SWEDEN: “Popular”, Eric Saade
We need that Viking to sing.
I would never have guessed he used to be in a boy band.
NICK: He’s got one glove! Oh my god: Dr Claw!
Well, it’s energetic.
NICK: This is well-aged Euro-cheese.
As Nick points out, it is good choreography, but the white sneakers are distracting.
Is that one dancer wearing braces but no shirt?
Now that would have been the perfect place for a key change.
NICK: I’m holding out for a key change!
Wait, was that a key change? Or even two key changes?

CYPRUS: “No chance I was going to catch that”, Christos Mylordos
Nick’s still singing the Swedish entry.
We’re pre-disposed in this entry’s favour, because they’re Cypriot Goths.
I ca’t even repeat what Nick just said about the set dressing.
Are they on wires? Or are they on foot wires?
NICK: It must be those foot braces. Like Michael Jackson used to use.
ME: No, he did not!
Wow. Ball-and-chain swinging.
This is a bit lacking in energy, but I really want them to go through anyway.

BULGARIA: “Na Inat”, Poli Genova
ME: Heidelberg!
NICK: Yeah.
ME: That’s where Hamlet was studying! That’s how old that university is!
I mean, I love my campus, but Hamlet never studied there.
Why don’t I remember Poland? Have they performed?
What? Bulgaria? Well, it’s not Great Uncle Bulgaria, that’s for sure.
NICK: Watching this making me realise how good Pink is at what she does. And I don’t even necessarily mean that sarcastically.
Nope, flames can’t save this. It’ll probably get through, though.

FYR MACEDONIA: “Russinka”, I’m sorry: I missed that
Ack! Underwater elephant!
NICK: Who’s he trying to gun down with that Telecaster?
ME: Capital T for Telecaster?
NICK: T-e-l-e-c-a-s-t-e-r.
ME: I know how to spell it. I just don’t know if it’s a proper noun.
This is not winning me over.
NICK: This is better than the last seven James Bond themes. Which it’s channeling.
Bored out of my skull.
Nope. Even an accordion can’t win me over.
NICK: Accordion and megaphone! Two most annoying things in the universe! In one song!

ISRAEL: “Ding Dong”, Dana International
Ding Dong?
Ding Dong?
That dress is incredible. I mean, it’s ugly. But incredible.
Her biceps are fantastic. Aren’t they?
Key change!
NICK: It’s a musical education. Before Eurovision, I wouldn’t have been so confident identifying a key change.

SLOVENIA: “No One”, Maja Keuc
Another power ballad? Oh no!
How can she even move in that dress?
Of course, she’s not moving much.
I read somewhere today that women over 35 shouldn’t wear knee-high boots. Screw that. But thigh-high boots are another issue.
This song is so boring I think it gave me cancer.

ROMANIA: “Change”, Hotel FM
NICK: You’re as cooold as ice!
NICK: Back-up singers are crying out for a costume change.
I think I once heard this in a hotel elevator. In 1986.
Then we decided we didn’t hate it.
NICK: I like the Han Solo vest.
ME: It’s tartan!
NICK: Really?
ME: On the back!
NICK: Well, Han Solo never had that.
I am bopping to this. But I am tipsy.
Aw, it’s just so cute. I can’t hate this.
Am I out of booze already?

ME: I know I come across as a drunken slapper in these.
NICK: No, you don’t.
ME: I try my best.

I will really cranky when SBS went commercial. Now I’m just deeply grateful for the toilet breaks.

I always figured that Jedward was what Bella Swan would name her child if she’d had a son.

Wow, lips on her chest. Subtle. Subtle.

ESTONIA: “Rockefeller Street, Getter Jaani
I may have mis-spelt the singer’s name there.
Again with the same hair! The centre part and the slicked-down hair! What is with this?
Did she just sing 1-2-7-3? She did!
I’m assuming that’s an address? Or a bus number?
Why am I over-interpreting this?
NICK: I once played a game of Sim City that was a bit like this. But I think I was on cold medication.
I can’t type without snorting on my keyboard.
Still, good to see she’s keeping Europe’s hair-extension makers in business.

BELARUS: “I Love Belarus”, Anastasia Vinnikova
Well, it starts well.
NICK: They start like they mean to go on. In fire.
Once again, truly exceptional legs.
I like the way the bak-up singers’ mic stands act as modesty panels.
NICK: Belarus. Only slightly hellish.
This does nothing for me, but, then, I’ve never been to Belarus.
ME: I don’t even know where Belarus is.
NICK: All I can think of is Donald Belasarius, creator of Magnum PI.

LATVIA: “Angel in Disguise”, Musiqq
He does look like Elvis Costello!
NICK: He’s playing guitar like Oliver’s Army is chasing him.
The music to this is quite interesting, but the lyrics are killing me slowly.
Now he’s rapping? Rapping Elvis Costello? That is not right.
I actually have no opinion on this. Someone could ask, “Should we kill the Latvian entry to Eurovision?” and I’d be all, “Who?”

DENMARK: “New Tomorrow”, A Friend in London
Okay, I went to a boarding school. Semi-boarding. You know which band came out of that boarding school? Human Nature. Let that be a lesson to you.
NICK: Some Dragon Ball Z haircuts in this.
What is with these hand gestures?
You remember I mentioned a song that was so boring it gave me cancer?
(I’m glad you remember. I don’t remember which song it was now.)
This is even more boring.
The hair is truly awful in this.
NICK: I’m not hating this. Maybe I should be, but I’m not.

IRELAND: “Lipstick”, Jedward
NICK: I think I might need to start following them on Twitter.
I am making no comments about sexual orientation, whatever the Internet says.
When did Ireland decide to stop trying to lose?
Seriously, though, there is no justification for that hair.
NICK: They’re wearing Judge Dredd shoulder pads!
Secretly, they’re kind of awesome, aren’t they?
Also, those legs are way too gorgeous to be on stage with teenage boys.
Oooh, acrobatics!
Okay, I declare myself pro-Jedward.

Oooh, break!

Back soon, I promise, for the results.

Remember: only fifteen minutes remain for woting.

Seriously, what is with these green rooms? Who makes them? What building on Earth has room for them?

I think I might regret all this brandy and lemonade we drank tonight, come tomorrow.

ACK! Underwater elephant again!

I still love Bosnia & Herzegovina. And I’m a lot less sober than I was the first time we watched them perform.

NICK: The Ukrainian singer is also pleasingly diaphanous.
ME: You’re a pervert!
NICK: Yes.

I hate this male co-host with the fiery fury of a billion suns.

NICK: The fiery fury of a billion suns? Shout out!

MALE CO-HOST: Two things that do not go together? England and penalty shoot-outs.

Oh, I hate him even more now.

But seriously? Classical music and break-dancing? Oh, you wacky Germans!

The acts in the breaks are way, way better than the actual Eurovision acts this year.

Okay, I’m a bit over the classical break-dancing now.

United Kingdom, please don’t get nil points. Everyone laughs at me at the Eurovision party, and it’s kinda hard to pretend I’m not embarrassed.

Oooh, results!

1. ESTONIA. Oh, really? Wow. I mean … wow.
2. ROMANIA. We liked him! Hooray!
3. MOLDOVA. Ooh, the gnomes!
4. IRELAND. No surprise there.
6. DENMARK. Oh, we had no opinion about them.
7. AUSTRIA. No, really?
8. UKRAINE. Sand painting!
9. SLOVENIA. Did we like them? I can’t remember. Oh, yes! Hooray!
10. SWEDEN. No surprises there.

Oh, I’ll be able to watch the sand-painting tomorrow night, without having to type. I am glad about that.

And that’s it for the live-blogging for Eurovision 2011. No live-blogging for the final. But I’m sure we’ll all be hoping that the male host gets repeatedly kicked in the shins tomorrow night.

See you here next year for Eurovision 2012!

Live-blogging Eurovision: Semi-Final 1, 2011

Posted 13 May 2011 in by Catriona

And here we are for the first of the Eurovision semi-finals! Well, here I am. I don’t actually know where you are. But I’m just going to assume you’re here; otherwise, I’d just be talking to myself.

In the interests of full disclosure, I’ve forgotten to write out the song titles in advance. Again. For the third year running. So there are bound to be a few songs called “Damn, I can’t type that fast.”

(Nick will be moderating comments while I’m typing, as per usual.)

I rather regret not watching this entire Eurovision doco now. The bits I’m seeing here are actually quite interesting—and disturbing, given the bit about the Russian police attacking that gay rights march.

Encouraging Nick to go and get a beer. He can’t abide watching Eurovision sober.

Ooh, I think we’re actually starting! Yep, this looks German all right.

I know this is probably unAustralian, but I miss Terry Wogan. Come back, Terry! All is forgiven!

As usual, Eurovision is being hosted by a staggeringly tall woman and a man with what looks like a handlebar moustache. Actually, that last one might be a bit new. I do like the swirly stage.

Ooh, look! The traditional Eurovision misogyny!

NICK: The banter is even more forced than usual.

I was really, really hoping someone would punch that host; I only hope someone punches him properly in a minute.

This misogyny schtick is wearing thin for me already. Punch him! Punch him!

(Wendy, Nick was trying not to make a German comedy joke. Thank you for taking the responsibility out of his hands!)

Punch him!

Punch him now!

Reverse sexism doesn’t make the misogyny funny!

Oooh, it’s all tilt-shifty! How lovely!

POLAND: “Jeslem”, Magadelena Tul.
Quoth Nick, “I’ve got to say; the new TARDIS control room is looking good.”
Oh, I see Poland just decided not to bother with pants. I suppose it saves them from the costume change.
Oh, wait: two are wearing pants.
NICK: Okay. Those two in the back better be taking their gear off.
This song is deeply, deeply boring, but the legs are exceptional.
Are we even getting a key change here?
And no, I don’t count those weird puffs of steam as proper fireworks.

NORWAY: “Haba Haba”, Stella Mwangi.
The Norwegians are singing in Swahili? Is that a Eurovision first?
The stage, despite those nice swirly bits, is really quite dull, don’t you think?
The song’s not grabbing me so far, but that dress is a bit wacky.
Oh my god: it’s not a dress. It’s formal shorts with a bustle.
Who said Eurovision wasn’t wacky this year?
Still, at least the front row can’t see up her skirt.
But it’s like her bottom is wearing a cape. It’s distracting, and not in the way a bottom is supposed to be distracting.

ALBANIA: “Feel the Passion”, Aurela Gace
Isn’t it strange how much Germany looks like Brighton?
Well, Albania seem to be doing something a bit more interesting with the staging than the last two acts tried to do.
Flamethrowers! That’s more like it.
NICK: Dry ice and flame? I mean, seriously. It’s got everything.
We don’t care so much about the actual music. You might have noticed that.
This sounds a bit like an’ 80s European metal band decided to do an album of covers of ’50s pop songs. But I like it more than the last two.

ARMENIA: “Boom Boom”, Emmy
I need a chair that looks like a boxing glove.
NICK: Lady Santa in a giant glove. I can think of at least three fetishes right now.
This is staggeringly awful.
I hope it gets through!
Believe it or not, the male back-up dancers are showing even more cleavage than the singer.
Nick hasn’t been commenting because he can’t stop laughing.
Where did that boxing ring come from? I only looked away for a second!
Oh, she didn’t hit that note. Not by a long shot.

Wow, the commentators are trying really, really hard not to be bitchy about that one.

I’m loving the tilt shift.

TURKEY: “Live it Up”, Yuksek Sadakat
I don’t mind the back drop and I love his gold fringy shirt and their whole-hearted commitment to flamethrowers.
Nick thinks it sounds like the opening to the Beverley Hills 90210 theme song.
They have a female contortionist in a sphere. That’s definitely something new.
This is not staggeringly awful, but to be honest, it’s a bit dull.
More than a bit dull.
And that contortionist in a sphere is worrying me a bit. What’s the purpose of that, do you suppose?
No, the wings don’t actually answer my question.

Oh, I cannot wait for Portugal!

They really didn’t get that Les Murray joke.

SERBIA: “Caraban”, Nina
Well, they’ve already won me over with the funky pink background and the funky dresses.
The orange back-up singer’s dress is a bit short, isn’t it?
NICK: That orange singer’s trying to hypnotise the audience! It’s … working.
I wouldn’t listen to this voluntarily, and the white tights are as wrong now as they were in the ’60s (and again in the ’80s). But the song’s cute. We haven’t had much cute yet.
This is definitely the liveliest thing we’ve seen all night.
Nick and I both liked that one. We want Serbia to go through.

RUSSIA: “Get You”, Alexej Vorobjov”
Okay, if I had to visualise a Russian stunt man, this is what I would have visualised.
NICK: Back to The Outsiders, Pony Boy.
Nick is fascinated by this one.
NICK: He has two George Michael impersonators and a Zac Efron impersonator!
That line “I lost my mind somewhere between your …” is a bit too risque for Eurovision, isn’t it?
I don’t know what’s happening here, but I wouldn’t mind watching it again on Sunday night.
There was a back flip? I missed the back flip!

SWITZERLAND: “In Love For A While”, Anna Rossinelli
Oh, dear: I hate this already.
In fact, I might hate the entirety of Switzerland for somehow managing to make a ukelele horribly twee.
This is like the musical version of blank verse: nothing seems to scan or fit the rhythm.
The back drop is gorgeous, though. I’m warming to this staging, after the boring first couple.
Don’t these songs go for about three minutes? They couldn’t stretch to writing the full complement of verses?
NICK: We’re getting short-changed on lyrics here!
I know, I know: I sound bitter. I just have a really low tolerance for things that are hatefully twee.

GEORGIA: “One More Day”, Eldrine
I really don’t want to think of Offspring and rappers at the same time, thanks.
They’ve got an interesting stage, too.
Nick’s fascinated by the dress.
NICK: Is she holding out for a hero?
We’re more impressed by the guitarist’s awesome jacket than we are by the song, which we’ve decided is like an Evanescence tribute band.
Okay, I’m rooting for them to go through.
The singer is single-handedly filling Eurovision’s hair quotient.

FINLAND: “Da Da Dam”, Paradise Oskar.
Moomins! Moomins!
Nick thinks the lead singer looks like Michael Cera.
I’m going to change my name to Paradise Catriona.

No, I’m not. Not now I see it in print.
Can’t type. Laughing too hard.
Oh, he’s so sincere, and he’s got such a cute accent, and it’s so bad.
I wish it were in Finnish. That would be better.
I hope he gets through. He’s so sincere and the back-drop is pretty.

MALTA: “One Life”, Glen Vella
I would like Malta to win. But only because they’ve never won before. This song itself is not grabbing me.
Why are the back-up singers wearing fetish gear and the singer’s wearing jeans?
NICK: More traditional national costumes should be in rubber.
I had no idea that the ’80s were back so … so … unironically.
Key change!
I’m a bit besotted with those two male back-up dancers. No, not for that reason. They’re just so cheerful!
They do look like Cate Blanchett in Indiana Jones!

SAN MARINO: “Stand By”, Senit
More dry ice. They’re really loving the dry ice this year.
Well, I hope there’s not a zombie attack. She’ll never be able to flee for her life in that dress and retain her dignity.
As Nick pointed out, there’s not much energy in this. Which is why I’m visualising zombie attack instead of blogging.
Also, fraught love ballads should never include the lyrics “if you don’t mind”.
Except for Canadian ballads, natch.
Oh my: that was dull.

CROATIA: “Celebrate”, Daria
NICK: Oh, they’ve got a prat in a hat!
ME: Nick, you have a hat just like that.
NICK: No, I want a hat just like that. There’s a difference.
The quality of legs in this year’s Eurovision is excellent.
The DJ looks like he’s from The Mighty Boosh. He also approves the legs.
Magic costume change!
The DJ is also a magician!
NICK: But the dress is longer! It doesn’t work that way round!
The song has made no impression on me at all, but they have a DJ-magician. I want them to go through.
And another magic costume change!
I vote for Croatia.

ICELAND: “Coming Home”, Sjonni’s Friends
I probably shouldn’t be bitchy about this one, should I?
I do wish it wasn’t in English, though.
I like the steampunky background.
This is cute and boppy. I could say some acerbic things about it, but then I’d feel bad.
I do like the way they slow it down at the end. Is there a word for that?

At last, a little breather for the fingers.

A very little breather for the fingers.

Oh, this Russian chap is fairly confident in himself, isn’t he?

Oh, no! Not more Finnish song! Please!

HUNGARY: “What About My Dreams?”, Kati Wolf
What does she have on her hand?
NICK: It’s a hand fascinator.
I had a Barbie with that exact dress, except in pink. You could unwrap the sleeve bit and wind it round her knees to make a fetching evening dress. I hope that happens here.
I’ll give it this much: it’s lively.
Also, she seems to have a ninja.
I’m not convinced she’s hitting all the notes, though.
I don’t like that asymmetrical skirt. It looks like her dress is tucked in her knickers.
She’ll probably go through, though.

PORTUGAL: I missed all of that, because I was trying to work out the accent over the “e”
I have to admire them for their whole-heartedness.
But I’m having horrible sympathetic acid flashbacks to a year before I was even born.
I’m sure I saw Sarah-Jane Smith in that outfit with the red beret.
I have a feeling I might engage with this song better if I had the faintest idea about Portuguese history (or Portuguese, for that matter).
It seems so chirpy for a song with so many placards and fist salutes.

LITHUANIA: “C’est Ma Vie”, Evelina Sasenko
NICK: It’s always “my life”. It’s always “It’s my life” or “what about my life?” or “oh, I left my life over there”.
Full disclosure: I’m automatically going to hate anything described as an “operatic ballad”. This is no exception.
NICK: She’s definitely got the chest of an opera singer. There’s no need to put that on the blog.
The sign language has won us over a bit, but apparently it was only relevant for that one verse.
NICK: They’ll be like “where’s the chorus? You just boned us out of a chorus!”
I hope someone bursts out of that piano. That would be the only thing that would reclaim this.
Too late.

AZERBAIJAN: “Running Scared” Ell/Nikki
Sam is being really unpleasantly bitchy about the women in this competition. He might be bitching out the men as well, but I’m really noticing it with the women.
Oh, there goes the hair quotient, up again.
With those skirts, they want to be a bit careful with the wind machine.
Does this one sound like an inexpensive Kate Bush tribute band to anyone else?
Oh, good: flaming rain.
She better watch her hair extensions.
They’re the favourites? Wow, I’m out of touch on Eurovision trends.

GREECE: “Watch My Dance”, Lukas Yiorkas feat. Stereo Mike
Yes, but can you sing?
A rapper and breakdancing?
I am partial to breakdancing, it’s true.
Wait, why are they all just standing over in the corner during the serious ballady bit of the song?
I have to say, this isn’t really working well as a single unified song.
I’ve warmed very much to the set design, though. I thought the sets were boring, but really it was just the first couple of acts who were boring.
Nope, even the fireworks aren’t winning me over with this one.
And wow: it just ended. I mean, just … ended. With no warning.
Oh, I didn’t think the genres came together well at all.

Back soon for the results!

The automatic entries:

FRANCE: Nick thought it was Benedict Cumberbatch for a minute there.
SPAIN: Oh god! Clowns! Or something!
ITALY: I’ve forgotten it already.
UNITED KINGDOM: Awful. But did you expect anything else?
GERMANY: Is that Lena again? Or just a Lena clone?

Is there a company somewhere that specialises in just making these Eurovision green rooms? They all look the same.

And why does everyone only have one sleeve?


1. SERBIA. We liked them: they were boppy and adorable.
2. LITHUANIA. Oh, the opera singer … and her chest.
3. GREECE. Really? I didn’t care for that at all. Anthemic? Really?
4. AZERBAIJAN. No surprises, but I wasn’t a big fan. Kirsty’s right: it’s a bit Twilight.
5. GEORGIA. We liked them. Hooray!
6. SWITZERLAND. Oh, the horrifyingly twee one.
7. HUNGARY. With the hand fascinator. It’s is a perfectly Eurovision song.
8. FINLAND. Paradise Oskar. Oh, well there’ll be more laughs on Sunday night.
9. RUSSIA. Nice to see the ’80s are still popular.
10. ICELAND. I bet it was Iceland, and (for once in my life) I was right.

I’m sorry not to see the giant boxing glove back, but, let’s face it, it was terrible.

Well, that’s all for tonight. I’ll be back here tomorrow night for the second semi-final. Pop in if you’re passing!

Eurovision and the Doctor

Posted 12 May 2011 in by Catriona

Once again, the Eurovision Song Contest is upon us.

And once again, I’m going to be live-blogging the semi-finals: not the final, but most definitely the semi-finals.

But, I hear you say (or maybe it was me), what about Doctor Who? Now that’s on a Saturday night, how ever will you manage to live-blog both it and Eurovision?

Since I wouldn’t miss live-blogging a Doctor Who episode about pirates for the world, I will simultaneously occupy two positions in space and time on Saturday night, in order to cover both. The Doctor Who live-blogging won’t be posted until after the Eurovision semi-final is finished, to avoid confusion on the front page, but the minute the last spangle has been swept from the stage, the TARDIS will appear.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to mark 60 first-year assignments.

But, if you have a mind to cheesy pop songs, join me back here this evening. You have to bring your own drinks, but it’s still a pretty good party.

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Six: "The Day of the Moon"

Posted 7 May 2011 in by Catriona

No peanut gallery for this live-blogging, and the longer Doctor Who is on a Saturday night, the less likely we are to have a peanut gallery, I think.

Still, I’ve livened the evening up by trying to convince Nick that he really doesn’t need to try and find Vampire Diaries right now, since we’re watching Doctor Who and all. I failed, but I did my best.

And if you’re not watching Vampire Diaries, why not? So awesome, so fast-paced, so funny, and so likely to kill off a major character at least once an episode. Who could not like that?

Am I the only person in the world who finds yachting to be the most boring pastime that rich people could ever come up with? Yes? No?

I suppose there’s always golf. That’s a bit boring, too.

ME: OMG, Moby Dick!
NICK: Do you want to watch it?
ME: Yes! It saves me reading the book, doesn’t it?

Previously, we had Space 1969, a Viking funeral, Richard Nixon, and some creepy aliens who liked killing people.

Also, Amy is pregnant.

This episode, we open with Amy running down a road in the desert, pursued by men in black cars. It’s Utah, which is just so beautiful. Unfortunately for Amy, she comes to the end of a ravine. Canton, calling her “Miss Pond”, pulls up in a car.

AMY: Is that a body bag?
CANTON: Yes, it is.
AMY: It’s empty.
CANTON: How about that.

Amy challenges Canton to remember the warehouse, but he just shoots her.


Canton approaches the Doctor, chained to a chair and hidden behind an enormous beard, in Area 51. He tells the Doctor that Amy had strange markings on her hand and asks what they were.

DOCTOR: Why don’t you ask her?

Then he looks again at the spreadeagled hand in the photo.

Elsewhere, River confronts an alien and adds a mark to the one on her arm. But she’s confronted by Canton, at the edge of a high skyscraper, one that’s still being built.

CANTON: You’re coming with us, Dr Song. There’s no way out this time.
RIVER: There’s always a way out.

Then she throws herself off the 50th floor.

At Area 51, the Doctor is being bricked in by dwarf-star alloy. Oh, wow: Warriors’ Gate reference! So awesome.

Then Canton corners Rory.

RORY: What are you waiting for?
CANTON: I’m waiting for you to run. It looks better if I shoot you when you’re running. Then again, looks aren’t everything.

In the dwarf-star cell, Canton—dragging Amy and Rory into the cell in body bags—reveals that this is all a complex plot, and the invisible TARDIS is in there. The Doctor opens it by clicking his fingers—ooh.

Then (purely coincidentally, I’m sure), he goes to rescue River.

DOCTOR: Amy! Rory! Open all the doors to the swimming pool!

So awesome.

The Doctor reveals that his secret weapon in the war against the occupying aliens is Neil Armstrong’s foot and then we finally go to credits.

Post-credits, we drive up to Arkham Asylum. I mean, some creepy orphanage. It’s Canton and Amy, and they check both their palms are clear before heading in.

Because, as we learn in a flashback, not only is Amy not pregnant, the aliens are everywhere. But people can’t remember them after they (people, not aliens) turn away. Hence the creepy markings on their hands and arms.

The Doctor points out that they’re not fighting an alien invasion; they’re leading a revolution.

What’s been punched into their hands is a nano-recorder, which can be used to record their experiences with the aliens. If they’ve left themselves a message, their hand will flash. That’s a bit creepy, frankly.

Then Canton straightens the Doctor’s bow tie, and everyone stares at him—because his hand is flashing. Because he’s just seen one of the creatures in the TARDIS: it’s a hologram, based on Amy’s camera-phone photo. But even the hologram wipes itself from people’s minds. The aliens, it seems, are ruling the word by post-hypnotic suggestion.

The aim, it seems, is to find the little girl—so we loop right back to the children’s home, which seems a likely place for the aliens to have taken a small child.

This whole section is so Southern Gothic: the walls are slathered with graffiti reading “Leave! Get Out!” And it was supposed to have been closed in 1967: I can’t quite work out if the home is called “Greystoke” or “Greystark”, but it’s creepy, either way.

Canton and Amy separate. It should be required for all the Doctor’s companions to play Dungeons and Dragons: then they’d know not to split the party. Amy, heading upstairs, chats briefly to the Doctor, but he’s a bit distracted by having just been caught sabotaging the cockpit on Apollo 11. So Amy just wanders around this creepy place, leaving herself secret message on her hand recorder and marking her own hands and forehead in the seconds between cuts, before she realises that the entire roof of this deserted dormitory is a nesting place for the aliens.

But as they realise she’s there, she forgets them as the dormitory door swings back open.

The Doctor, under arrest by military police, tries to convince the MPs that he’s on a secret mission for Nixon, which doesn’t really work until Nixon turns up (in the TARDIS, flanked by River, in a killer suit and Rory, also in a killer suit) and sweet-talks them out of it. Well, a combo of sweet-talking and bullying, really.

(Rory breaks the model of the lunar lander, salutes awkwardly, and then follows everyone else into the TARDIS.)

Canton, confronting the head of this creepy, deserted children’s home, hears that “The child must be cared for. It’s important. That’s what they said.”

And Amy, wandering the corridors, sees a woman with an odd, metallic eye-patch, peering through a hatch in a door, saying, “No, I think she’s just dreaming.” Amy pushes through the door, now sans hatch, to see a series of framed photographs set out in a twee room: one of them is Amy herself holding a baby. And then the astronaut clomps into the room. Amy demands an explanation, but then the astronaut lifts its visor; it’s a small girl whose face shield has a bullet hole in it.

Amy apologises (a bit of a non-apology) and the child pleads for help before the aliens come into the room behind the astronaut and Amy screams.

Elsewhere, Canton’s interview is interrupted by someone whom the custodian forgets almost instantly. As Canton challenges the alien, he can hear Amy screaming somewhere else.

Canton asks the alien if it’s armed.

ALIEN: This world is ours. We have ruled it since the wheel and the fire. We have no need for weapons.
CANTON: Yeah. Welcome to America.

Then he shoots it. Natch.

Canton calls for the Doctor, who is advising Nixon, and everyone rushes to the creepy room in the creepy children’s room, where they find an empty spacesuit and Amy’s hand recorder, lying on the floor and broadcasting everything an obviously terrified Amy is saying.

Rory is kinda sweet and sexy in this scene. But, of course, as soon as he says he’ll always find Amy, she starts calling for the Doctor.

The injured alien that Canton’s shot is still in the superintendent’s office. The Doctor challenges it, and the alien says that they are “the Silence.” We’re treated to a quick flashback to key moments last season, just in case we’ve forgotten it.

Then Canton strolls out of the dwarf-star cell, trailing Nixon behind him to support his requests for a doctor.

Apollo 11 prepares for lift-off.

River and the Doctor examine the spacesuit, which is filled with alien tech. Apparently, the suit defaults to the highest authority possible, which is why the president keeps getting phone calls.

The Doctor’s a bit distracted by the blue envelopes, but River won’t answer any questions.

RIVER: Our lives are back to front. My future is your past. Your firsts are my lasts.

Rory wonders why the Silence need a human spacesuit, but the Doctor says this is all because the Silence needed a spacesuit.

Apollo 11 lifts off.

The injured Silence, now in the dwarf-star cell, gets medical treatment, and seems bewildered by this.

SILENCE: We have ruled your lives since your lives began. You should kill us all on sight. But you will never even remember that we were here. Your will is ours.
CANTON: Well, sorry to disappoint you. But thanks. That was exactly what I needed to hear. This is a videophone … whatever a videophone is.

In the TARDIS, River wonders if the spacesuit could actually move on its own, and eat its chosen occupants. And Rory listens to Amy talking through the hand recorder, where she talks about the person she really loves, who has a “stupid face” and just dropped out of the sky into her boring life.

That’s cold, even for you, Amy.

DOCTOR: This is kicking the Romans out of Rome.
RORY: Rome fell.
DOCTOR: I know. I was there. (The Romans reference!)
RORY: So was I.

Rory talks a little about his life as a centurion, but we’re all more interested in the impending landing of the lunar module on the moon.

Elsewhere, Amy is apparently about to be subjected to alien experiments.

ALIEN: You are Amelia Pond.
AMY: You’re ugly. Has anyone told you?

She’s no Winston Churchill, that’s for sure.

They tell her that she “will bring the Silence” but the TARDIS turns up, and the Doctor brings out a television. Plus River and Rory.

DOCTOR: She has her own gun and, unlike me, she doesn’t mind shooting people. I shouldn’t like that, but I rather do.
RIVER: Thank you, sweetie.

Then they flirt adorably.

But Amy stops the flirting, and the Doctor moves right back into bombast mode. He tells the Silence that half a billion people are watching the moon landing, and they will never ever forget it.

And right there, after Armstrong says “That’s one small step for man”, they splice in the captured, injured Silence saying “You should kill us all on sight.”

ARMSTRONG: One giant leap for mankind.
DOCTOR: And one whacking kick up the backside for the Silence!

And that would be the downside of post-hypnotic suggestion.

Then the Doctor tells them to run, but he means himself and his companions, because the Silence are powering up their Force lightning.

River has a gun, but the Doctor only has a screwdriver.

RIVER: What are you doing?
DOCTOR: Helping!
RIVER: You have a screwdriver. Go build a cabinet.
DOCTOR: That’s really rude!

The Doctor runs into the TARDIS, and River dispatches the rest of the Silence.

RIVER: My old feller didn’t see that, did he? Because he gets really cross.
RORY: What kind of doctor are you?
RIVER: Archaeology. (Shoots another alien.) Love a tomb.

Me? I love an archaeologist.

Amy reveals that she really meant Rory was the one she loved, while I was busy typing up awesome dialogue, and then the Doctor tells Nixon to let Canton get married and reassures Nixon that he’ll never be forgotten.

NIXON: This person you want to marry. Black?
NIXON: I know what people think of me, but I’m more liberal …
CANTON: He is.

So Nick called that, and I missed it.

The Doctor drops River back at Stormcage, and she snogs him. The Doctor, unsurprisingly, is a bit rubbish and shaky, but mostly because he’s never kissed River before, much to her surprise and horror.

DOCTOR: You know what they say. There’s a first time for everything.
RIVER: And a last time.

In the TARDIS, Amy is suffering after-effects from her time with the Silence, but the Doctor, while happy to be Amy’s best friend, wants to know why she didn’t tell Rory that she was pregnant. Amy says she told the Doctor because she was worried that the time travelling in the TARDIS might have given the baby a time head, whatever that is.

Then she tells Rory that she’ll take the hand-recorder off him if he doesn’t stop secretly listening in.

The Doctor says that this is all about the little girl, but he’s rather have adventures.

And on the streets of New York, the little girl comes stumbling through an alley six months later, coughing and clutching her stomach.

STREET PERSON: Are you okay?
LITTLE GIRL: It’s all right. It’s quite all right. I’m dying. But I can fix that. It’s easy really. See?

And she regenerates.


Next week: pirates!

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Six: "The Impossible Astronaut"

Posted 30 April 2011 in by Catriona

This is my first live-blogging with the new computer, and my first since I drank three glasses of wine.

One of those is a lie.

Still, we’ll see how we go, shall we?

As always, please excuse typing errors until I have a chance to read through the live-blogging after the episode ends.

Discussing the rapture with my father:

DAD: I thought the dead were the first to go? And then the living followed?
ME: Not the unrighteous dead. They rise from their graves and try to eat our brains.
DAD: Bloody hell.
ME: So you should buy a shotgun. Or at least some good running shoes.
DAD: Maybe I should just start going back to church?
NICK: Well, they make a compelling argument.

Nick’s just pointed out that we paused the TiVo. So if you’re wondering why we’re not already five minutes through Doctor Who, that would be it.

Still: gratuitous rapture conversation. That’s worth being about five minutes behind the broadcast, surely?

Aw, in memory of Lis Sladen. Whimper.

But now we have people in wigs chasing after the Doctor: Mam thinks he’s Charles II. Not the Doctor: the main be-wigged chap. Anyway, the Doctor is under some woman’s crinolines.

Elsewhere, Amy is reading something from a history book to Rory, while Rory puts the groceries away.

Apparently, the books also contains the Doctor’s attempts to escape from a POW camp. Amy thinks he’s being “deliberately ridiculous” to attract their attention—and she might be right, since she just got an invitation in TARDIS blue.

So did River Song.

And this leads to the best line ever, as a security guard says, “You better get down here, sir. She’s doing it again. Dr Song, sir. She’s … packing.”

I love River so much.

They’re all off to America. Somewhere in the depths of the US, where the Doctor, reclining on an old convertible, says, “Howdy.”

He’s wearing a Stetson: “I wear a Stetson now. Stetsons are cool.”

But River shoots it off his head, anyway.

Elsewhere, River and the Doctor sync their diaries. They have a lot more in common than the usual.

Amy asks the Doctor what he’s been doing, and he says he’s been running. “Faster than I’ve ever run. And I’ve been running my whole life.”

He says that tonight, he needs them all with him.

The Amy voiceover for foreign markets is awful and patronising. We know this. We know this already.


Utah is pretty. Very very pretty.

The Doctor claims to be 1103, and to have drunk wine, but he spits it out anyway, saying he thought it would be more like the gums.

Amy sees something on the horizon, something with a domed head, and Dad says, “Oh god: what’s that?”

But that’s a story for another time.

A four-wheel drive pulls up, and Dad says, “Oh god: what’s this?” He’s easily startled by television programmes.

At the same time, an astronaut climbs out of the lake, and the Doctor tells them to stay out of whatever’s about to happen. What happens is that the astronaut lifts his visor, they talk for a while, and then the astronaut shoots the Doctor. Amy tries to run, but the others grab her. The Doctor starts regenerating, apologises, and then is shot again in the middle of his regeneration cycle.

This time, it’s River who screams and runs towards the Doctor. She knows what this means. And after she scans the Doctor, she empties her revolver into the astronaut, who doesn’t pause in his slow descent into the lake.

As they grieve over the Doctor, the man in the four-wheel drive comes down with a can of gasoline, says that this is most definitely the Doctor, and that he said they’d need the gasoline. River says they have to cremate him, because “a Time Lord’s body is miracle, even a dead one.”

River says, “We’re the Doctor’s friends, and we do what the Doctor’s friends always do. As we’re told.”

So they give him a Viking funeral.

MAM: I didn’t think he’d stay in the show for such a short time.

I love my credulous, easily frightened parents.

River asks who the mysterious, gasoline-carrying American is, and he says he got an envelope. It’s number 4.

“I won’t be seeing you again,” he says. “But you’ll be seeing me.”

River’s distracted by the envelopes. She, Amy, and the mysterious man (Canton) got numbers 2, 3, and 4. So who got 1?

Luckily, they walk into a diner where the number 1 envelope is sitting on a table.

RIVER: When you know it’s the end, who do you call?
MAM: Ghostbusters?

Of course, number 1 is the Doctor. River says this is cold, but Amy hugs him, and then the Doctor hugs Rory. And then River slaps the Doctor.

DOCTOR: Okay, I’m assuming that was for something I haven’t done yet.
DOCTOR: Good, I’ll look forward to that.

Of course, this Doctor is only 909. And he hasn’t done all the things that he and River had done when they first met in this diner.

River won’t tell him what’s going on, defaulting to “Spoilers”, but they all pile into the TARDIS.

DOCTOR: Rory, is everyone cross with me for some reason?
RORY: I’ll find out.

Instead, they have a secret discussion about how they can’t let the Doctor know he’s been recruited by his future self, because he’s interacted with his own past self.

AMY: He’s done it before!
RORY: And in fairness, the universe did blow up.

Amy can’t cope with the idea of the Doctor’s death, but River says neither the Doctor’s death nor her own frightens her: there’s a much worse day coming for her.

The Doctor is basically letting the TARDIS have her head. She wants to land in Washington in 1969, but the Doctor wants to try knitting or bi-planes instead.

DOCTOR: Don’t play games with me. Don’t ever, ever think you’re capable of that.

The Doctor wants more information before he jumps into this, but he won’t trust River.

DOCTOR: Why are you in prison? Who did you kill? Now, I love a bad girl, me. But trust you? Seriously?

He will trust Amy, though, because she swears on fish fingers and custard.

And then we get a Western version of the Doctor’s theme, and it’s fabulous.

Canton Delaware (Badger!) is being recruited from a pub, by a man who’s representing President Nixon.

RIVER: Richard Milhouse Nixon. Vietnam. Watergate. There’s some good stuff, too.
DOCTOR: Not enough.
RIVER: Hippy.
DOCTOR: Archaeologist.

The Doctor is trying stealth mode, but River is having to run after him fixing all his mistakes. Have I mentioned lately how I love her?

The Doctor leaps out of the invisible TARDIS into the Oval Office, right as the President gets his nightly mysterious phone call from a creepy child. Oh, creepy child, do you add anything to society in general? Or are you just creepy?

The President turns around in the middle of claiming that he can’t trust anyone to find the Doctor in the middle of the Oval Office. He turns to flee back into the TARDIS, but knocks himself out on its invisible door.

The Doctor has River turn the TARDIS blue again, and then tells the President that he’ll take the case. But the Secret Service want to shoot him, anyway.

The Doctor claims to be on loan from Scotland Yard, and introduces his associates: the Legs, the Nose, and Mrs Robinson. But Canton steps in to support the Doctor against the Secret Service agent who tells him “Mr Delaware, don’t compliment the intruder.”

CANTON: Mr President, that man walked in here with a big blue box and three of his friends, and that’s one of the men he walked past. One of them is worth listening to.

As the Doctor’s looking at maps, Amy spots another one of the weird people she originally saw at the lake. But as she turns back to Rory, she forgets what she’s seen. She asks to go the bathroom, and the Secret Service reluctantly comply.

In the loo, Amy sees another of the creepy intruders. She challenges this one, and asks him why she forgot. Also? The toilet is really fancy.

Someone comes out of the loo, and seems to think the alien is a co-worker called “Ben.” But she forgets the alien as soon as she turns her back on him: twice. And then the lights flicker, and the alien electrocutes her to death.

It’s probably not Ben, then.

Amy, figuring that they can only remember the aliens while they see them, takes a photo with her camera phone.

AMY: Why did you have to kill her, anyway?

Ooh, creepy.

The alien tells Amy to tell the Doctor what he must know and what he must never know, but by the time she leaves the toilet, she can’t actually remember anything.

Still, she manages to freak the Secret Service agent out with her tiny, futuristic phone.

Meanwhile, the Doctor works out where the child is calling from, declares that there’s no time for a SWAT team (or, though he doesn’t say so, a fez) and dematerialises.

DOCTOR: Canton, on no account follow me into this box, and shut the door.

The Doctor points out that the girl is not giving the President her name: she’s giving him the street address.

DOCTOR: Dr Song, you’ve got that face on again.
RIVER: What face?
DOCTOR: The “he’s hot when he’s clever” face.
RIVER: This is my normal face.
DOCTOR: Yes, it is.

Canton is mostly impressed that Scotland Yard has a machine that can travel in space and time.

AMY: Cool aliens?
DOCTOR: Well, what would you call me?
AMY: An alien.

The phones are cut off, but there’s a little girl around here somewhere, with all the alien and human tech, and the Doctor wants to find her. Amy mainly wants to try and save the Doctor in 1969 so that he doesn’t die in 2011.

River finds a tunnel and immediately heads down it, though the Doctor warns her to be careful and they flirt with each other a bit.

CANTON: So what’s going on?
DOCTOR: Nothing. She’s just a friend.

I absolutely love the growing relationship between these two for reasons that I don’t have time to cover here.

The tunnels are full of aliens, but River forgets them as soon as she turns her back on them. And then she heads straight back down the tunnels.

DOCTOR: Rory, would you mind going with her?
RORY: Yes, a bit.
DOCTOR: Then I appreciate it all the more.

I also like Rory’s “British tourist” look. Shorts FTW!

Rory and River explore the mysteriously old tunnels, and as River unlocks an irresistible locked door, Rory asks what the “worse day coming” for her is.

RIVER: When I first met the Doctor, long long time ago, he knew all about me. Impressionable young girl. Think about that. This man falls out of the sky, and he’s mad and impossible and wonderful, and he knows everything about her. Imagine what that does to a girl.
RORY: I don’t think I have to.

River explains that they’re travelling in opposite directions. Some day, she’ll meet the Doctor, and he won’t know who she is, and she thinks it will kill her.

And we know it will, because we’ve seen that day.

I love her so much.

But they open the door, and though Rory can’t remember the aliens any more than anyone else can, they find a control room that shows that the tunnels run under the surface of the entire world.

Wait, Canton is gay? Nick reckons that’s the reason behind the “I just wanted to get married”/“That’s not a crime, is it?” discussion. I did not get that.

Also, a child is screaming somewhere, Canton is knocked out, and Amy is pregnant.

DAD: Well, why is that so important now?

Dad doesn’t really get “sexual tension”, thank goodness.

But the astronaut turns up, and Amy grabs Canton’s gun and shoots … what turns out to be a child.

DAD: But it’s not a real child?
ME: Well, we don’t know.
DAD: It’s too much for me, this.

Me too, Dad. Me, too.



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