TARDIS Thoughts: December 2012


Classic Who: Update, plus Series 7 Part 2 Release Date

So about the "Classic Who" thing I posted about before. I finally got around to actually reading the Doctor Who blogs I subscribed to (I followed all the blogs listed in the "Doctor Who Blogverse" blogroll in the sidebar - I highly recommend the official Tumblr in particular) and learned that some of the classic eps will be re-aired on TV next year as part of the 50th anniversary celebration. Unfortunately, that probably means UK TV, and I'm a Yank. But hopefully I can still watch them somehow; either that or hopefully BBC America will hook us Yanks up with something.

Another thing I learned from the blogverse is that Series 7 Part 2 does indeed have an announced date: April 2013. I saw this on a couple blogs - including the one on the official BBC website. No more specifics than that have been given as of yet.

Oh and according to The Fourth Dimension (the special behind-the-scenes info section BBC One does for each Doctor Who episode on their Who website), the exterior scenes of the asylum planet in "Asylum of the Daleks" were actually shot in the deserts of Spain while the crew was on location in Spain shooting "A Town Called Mercy." I thought that snow looked weird!

Well just wanted to post that! Will get back to the episode analyses soon.


Series 7, Episode 6 (Christmas Special) - "The Snowmen"


That spoiler warning is key this time, so BE WARNED.

It's here, ladies and gents...the 2012 Christmas Special!!!! All those Countdown posts have been leading to this.

I swear, I have never been so excited to write an analysis for this blog. I mean, I liked writing the other posts, but for some reason this one makes me really excited. I don't know why. Maybe it's the Christmas spirit?


Now, granted, I literally just finished watching it a short while ago, so I'm still in that mood you get when you've just seen/watched/experienced something cool and exciting. But I'll try to remain calm.

So anyway, this episode is set in Victorian London and looks like it could've come from Dickens or Sherlock Holmes or something. Which is pretty awesome. Even the Doctor's "Victorian" outfit looks Dickens-like, as I said before. A good setting for the storyline. It just goes to show you don't need the future and alien spaceships to make a Doctor Who episode cool. (Then again, "The Power of Three" totally proved that anyway by being set almost entirely in our world and our present).

The episode begins with a little kid who won't play with the other kids, and is instead making a snowman alone. One thing I noticed is that, as the scene comes on, it says "England 1842" on the ground. Is Doctor Who taking cues from Fringe now? (Fringe is famous for its text that hangs in the middle of the air to announce location changes).

And just as the kid is making the snowman, the snowman starts to talk to him. Notice that it just repeats what the kid says. That's important for later.

We fast-forward fifty years to 1892. The boy we saw has now grown up and is now Dr. Simeon. And played by this guy named Richard E. Grant, who I have never heard of. Apparently, he has been in a lot of things, and he's no stranger to the Doctor Who universe: he played the "Quite Handsome Doctor" (a version of the Tenth Doctor) in the parody sketch Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death in 1999 and later played a Shalka version of the Ninth Doctor in the 2003 webcast Scream of the Shalka, which was intended to continue the continuity from when the show stopped in 1989 as well as the 1996 TV movie, but which was shelved as "unofficial" once the series was revived in 2005. Here he is a villain. It's interesting later on that a Moriarty reference is made in his presence, because he does strike me as what Moriarty is like in the original Sherlock Holmes stories, as well as in the new Sherlock Holmes films with Robert Downey, Jr and Jude Law. Anyway, we see him collecting some snow in jars with swing tops. He then brings them into a room with a huge clear globe inside filled with snow.

That "office" of his (as the Doctor calls it later) is a really nice set. Cause of course it's a set; we all know this. It looks very historically appropriate. Even the clear globe thing looks historically accurate (though for today's purposes it's probably made of plastic or plexiglass...while early forms of plastic did exist in 1892, it was not as common as it is today, so it's unlikely Dr. Simeon would have made that globe out of plastic). They did a really good job there.

I nearly squeed when I heard the voice of the snow. IAN MCKELLEN!!! (Though BBC America screwed up in the credits and credited him as "Iam McKellen"...oops). My family and I just saw The Hobbit last night (as I mentioned), so his voice is fresh in my head. This voice is more like McKellen's "angry Gandalf" voice, or maybe his Magneto voice. It actually sounds a lot like Christopher Lee, strangely. So some people may have thought it was him. It's odd to see McKellen in a villain role -- the only one I primarily know him for is of course Magneto from X-Men, in which he was up against the equally amazing British actor Sir Patrick Stewart as the main hero, Professor Xavier. But he does a really good job.

So anyway, this far into the episode we know this guy is bad news and so is that snow. Not to mention we already saw some scary snowflakes falling onto Earth. Oh and he then summons snowmen to eat all the working-class men he hired to help him collect samples of the snow. Nice fellow, isn't he?

I also noticed that Simeon says "winter is coming," which of course automatically made me think of Game of Thrones - "Winter is coming" is the motto of the House of Stark in that series and the book series it is based on, George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. Odd that I noticed that since I only got through about 1/4 of the first book before giving up on the series.

Oh and we meet the Doctor's friends in this scene - Vastra, her assistant Jenny, and Strax - who are seen briefly trying to figure out what Simeon is up to. They do confront him, but Simeon scoffs at them, and suggests that "Dr Doyle" (a reference to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) is basing his stories about Sherlock Holmes on Vastra's exploits, but that people would be shocked to learn "Holmes" is really a woman. (The multiple Sherlock Holmes references in this episode are great, especially since this is 1892; Sherlock Holmes debuted in 1887 and was truly becoming popular at around this time due to the Holmes short stories Doyle was publishing in serial form at the time. It's also been noted by people that the Holmes references are likely in reference to the fact that Steven Moffat, writer of this episode and current showrunner for Doctor Who, is also lead scriptwriter for Sherlock, another recent popular British series that has found a strong American audience).

I think this is where the new opening sequence comes in. People have noted it's similar to some of the older sequences, and that showing the Doctor's face in the sequence hasn't been done since the original 1963-1989 run. Mostly I just thought it was pretty cool, especially the end where the TARDIS flies toward you and then opens its doors onto the scene. That kind of reminded me of the scene transitions in the English dub of Sailor Moon. For some reason. The theme music is also remixed, supposedly, and you can hear some difference though it doesn't seem like a huge change to me.

We then switch to another scene, a shot of a tavern/bar called "The Rose and Crown." A door opens, and out steps...JENNA-LOUISE COLEMAN! I recognized her face immediately from "Asylum of the Daleks," though in this case she's dressed in a fancy, red Victorian dress. I was excited when she showed up, because I knew Jenna was going to be the new Companion moving forward, so I wanted to see what she'd be like in her first episode as a Companion. She steps outside and sees a snowman that wasn't there before, and asks a passing man if he made it. The man turns around...and it's the Doctor! Matt Smith looks a lot better when his face doesn't look like it was carved out of marble. I don't know if it was the lighting, the makeup, or what. Anyway, he checks out the snow with his trusty Sonic Screwdriver and a pair of glasses after Jenna's character brings it to his attention, and decides it has some kind of memory. (Some people have pointed out that the glasses he's wearing are Amy Pond's reading glasses from "The Angels Take Manhattan"...it's kinda cool that he still has them!) Jenna's character wants to know more, but apparently the Doctor's not in the mood for adventure. He asks for her name and she introduces herself as Clara. He says that's a good name and to keep it, before striding off. He gets in a carriage and Clara follows him. Through the Doctor's conversation with Vastra through some sort of primitive telephone, she learns he is called "the Doctor," and drops in on him from the top of the carriage, asking the classic question (supposedly called the "First Question"): "Doctor who?"

Realizing Clara has followed him, the Doctor locks her in his carriage and asks Strax, who he meets at another location, to retrieve a special worm that, when touched, erases about an hour of your memory - though if it bites you, it can take lots of your memory away - so that Clara will forget she met him. Unfortunately, Strax is kind of a buffoon and forgets to handle the worm with the proper gloves, resulting in him losing his memory instead. The Doctor and Strax then try to get the worm back while Clara watches, only for Strax to lose his memory again when he forgets to use the gloves again, as shown when Clara finds the gloves herself.

Unfortunately, at this moment the mutant Snowmen attack the Doctor and Clara. Because the snow has a telepathic field that responds to the thoughts of those around them, they keep multiplying because Clara is thinking about them. The Doctor realizes this and tells Clara to imagine them melting. She does, and soon the Snowmen have melted and they are drenched with water. The Doctor then realizes if he uses the worm on Clara, she will forget his advice on how to stop the Snowmen, so he lets her go.

Then there is a pretty funny scene where the Doctor heads off and Clara follows him to some park. He then puts up his hands and jumps and a ladder comes down, which he then ascends a short distance before disappearing into thin air. Who knew the TARDIS had a ladder? Clara, ever the curious one, attempts the same maneuver. For some reason, I thought I'd seen a scene like this before in a movie, but I can't remember what movie. Anyway, somehow she manages to jump in the right way and the ladder descends for her as well. She climbs it until she reaches its top, at which points she waves to the people on the street before realizing they can't see her. She then turns to find a spiral staircase going up, which she ascends. I liked the spiral staircase for a couple reasons. One, because it was completely period-appropriate for the setting in its styling. And two, because, as you can see very well in the wide shot of the stairs against the sky, the design resembles the double-helix shape of DNA - and DNA is a key part of the bad guys' plan in this episode.

Clara reaches the top of the staircase and finds the TARDIS. I like that it retained the wear and tear it sustained in "The Angels Take Manhattan." I think it shows the depth of the Doctor's sulking over the loss of the Ponds - he hasn't even addressed the issue of the damage to his own precious spacecraft. It also goes with his declaration that he's basically retired. Anyway, the ever-curious Clara dares to knock on the TARDIS door, though after doing so she hides so the Doctor can't find her (which he tries to do) and finally runs back down the stairs, though she leaves her shawl behind, which the Doctor finds.

This adventure apparently inspires Clara, and she leaves her job at the bar to go back to her old job, from which she had been temporarily absent, as Alice Montague, governess to the children of Captain Latimer. (Given her curiosity, that her cover name is Alice is interesting, because Alice from Alice in Wonderland was curious too, and that book was around in 1892. Queen Victoria's daughter's name was Alice also, so the name would've been popular during this period. The meaning of it is "noble, of the noble kind." The name Montague has literary ties too, of course, from Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. Its meaning is "from the sharp or steep mountain"). I liked the contrast between her barmaid attire, which was bright and colorful, and her governess attire, which was dark and black and proper. Actually, the style of her dress is very period-appropriate; if you watch movies about governesses of the 1800's - like Jane Eyre, for example - this seems to be the type of attire governesses wore back then. It's also mentioned in the scenes that follow that Clara switches her voice for this job, using a more proper British accent, her "secret voice" being more of a Cockney accent. (It may be a play on the fact that Jenna-Louise Coleman is from Lancashire, just like Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston - if you ever wondered why the Ninth Doctor had a North Country accent, that's why. It may also be a reference to the Cockney character Coleman played in the 2011 mini-series Titanic). She finds out Francesca, Latimer's daughter, has been having bad dreams about their previous governess, who died after falling in the pond outside the house about a year previously. The kids show Clara the pond and she notes that it's still frozen over even though all the other snow has thawed.

Francesca's brother mentions that she "needs a Doctor," which gives Clara an idea. She returns to the park where she found the ladder to the TARDIS and starts yelling for the Doctor, despite the fact that people are looking at her funny. Just then, Madame Vastra's assistant Jenny notices her, and realizing what she is trying to do, takes her to see Vastra. Strax is funny here with his line to Clara about not leaving because she will get obliterated and then offering to take her coat. Clara then talks to Vastra, but because Vastra believes truth can only be spoken in single words, Clara is forced to get creative with her answers to Vastra's questions in order to answer using only one word. I also liked Vastra's line "lies are words, words, words," because it made me think of a scene from Hamlet (which, as I said before, is my favorite Shakespeare play) where Polonius asks Hamlet what he is reading, to which Hamlet replies "words, words, words."

I have to say, that must've been a tough scene to write, finding a way that Clara could respond to the questions using only single words. But Jenna-Louise Coleman pulls it off. And Vastra explains the Doctor's situation to Clara: that the Doctor was once a hero, a savior of worlds, but that he suffered great losses that hurt him, and he has now chosen isolation to avoid "the possibility of pain's return." This is interesting, because throughout Series 7 we have seen how the Doctor traveling alone has a bad effect on him, and at the end of "The Angels Take Manhattan" Amy Pond's final message specifically tells the Doctor to not travel alone, because she can see what it does to him. River Song also warned him at the end of that episode not to travel alone. Yet in this episode the Doctor has done just that - chosen isolation. And we see the effect it has on him even more clearly in this episode - he is a moody, bitter old Scrooge, lost in his thoughts and memories (when Clara says "but we were just getting acquainted," he says sadly, "Those were the days"), and seems to have lost his old sense of adventure. It's only when he actually dares to be with people that his better nature starts to come out again. 

Vastra decides to test Clara. She asks Clara to give her a message to give to the Doctor to explain the danger she is facing and why she needs his help - but she can only use one word. We see Clara's face, then the scene jumps to later that day (as it is night where the Doctor is), with the Doctor taking a call (on a very traditional phone) from Vastra. And that's when we learn the word that Clara chose:


Now of course she means the pond that the governess drowned in. But think about it: the word "Pond" would be an extremely important word to the Doctor at this point in time, since he just lost Amy and Rory. Somehow, without knowing it, Clara chose the one word for her message that would be sure to get the Doctor's attention. Which I love. I love that that word was the key word in all this.

Then comes a funny scene where the Doctor visits Dr. Simeon pretending to be Sherlock Holmes, wearing the classic deerstalker hat and matching coat and carrying the classic Holmes pipe (none of which are Holmes canon by the way; they came about due to movie and TV adaptations). He attempts to do deductions like Holmes, but fails miserably. Which is kind of funny for someone who supposedly knows everything because he is aware of all of time at once. He manages to wake up the snow monster and learns that it is the Great Intelligence. Apparently, this is a throwback to the era of the Second Doctor, the first time the Great Intelligence appeared as a villain, and this episode contains many canon elements about the Intelligence and supposedly resolves the mystery of how they got on Earth, which was unanswered back then (making this episode a sort of prequel to the Great Intelligence adventures of the Second Doctor's era). Simeon demands that his servants seize the Doctor, but the Doctor escapes through a window. Oh, and we also discover in this scene that the Sonic Screwdriver, famous for unlocking doors, can also lock doors. 

The Doctor then heads to the Latimer house to examine the pond, where Strax makes fun of him by calling him "Mr Holmes," which is pretty funny. Clara sees him from the window and tries to gesture for him to come in, but the Doctor, fighting his urge to get involved in an adventure, decides he's going to gesture that he's leaving. Instead, somewhat unconsciously, he gives her a thumbs up. Clara then comforts the children by telling them about the Doctor, calling him a man who lives in the sky and makes sure no children have bad dreams. Francesca mentions she's had bad dreams, to which Clara responds that he's been on holiday, but he's back in business now. But just when Clara thinks the Doctor's coming, she and the children are instead confronted by a weird woman made out of ice, a reanimation of the children's former governess who drowned in the pond. They flee but are trapped in what seems to be a parlor. Just when the Ice Woman seems to have the upper hand, a puppet in a nearby puppet theater starts talking, and we see the familiar green light of the Sonic Screwdriver. The Ice Woman breaks into smithereens, and the Doctor pops up from behind the puppet, declaring that "that's the way you do it" and telling Clara his Screwdriver has a new "antifreeze" function. He examines the floor and confirms the ice creature is destroyed. 

But, unbeknownst to him, Simeon is waiting outside, and using a device connected to his carriage, sprays the house with snow, reanimating the Ice Woman just as Vastra, Jenny, and Strax arrive. In the meantime, the Doctor happens to catch a glimpse of himself in the mirror, and realizes he is wearing a bow tie. I thought this was cool, since a bow tie is a signature part of the Eleventh Doctor's outfit. He attempts to dismiss it, saying he must've just put it on out of habit. But I thought it was cool that he was unconsciously going back to his old habits. Just goes to show the Doctor has certain irresistible urges that crop up even if he's trying to suppress them. Which makes him very human. At any rate, this moment includes a funny scene where Clara looks out the window and sees the snow hitting the house, while the Doctor is still looking in the mirror:

CLARA: It's cooler.
DOCTOR: Yes. It is, isn't it?
[He admires himself in the mirror]
DOCTOR: It is very cool. Bow ties are cool.
[He smiles]
(Lines obtained via this post from the Doctor Who official Tumblr)

Of course, Clara is talking about the temperature - the temperature in the room is getting colder due to Simeon's snow. But the Doctor thinks she's talking about his tie. Which is absolutely hilarious. And it brings about the return of the Eleventh Doctor's catchphrase, "Bow ties are cool," which originated in his first episode (Series 5 episode 1). It was also nice to see the Doctor smile, seeing how serious and sulky he is for most of the episode. 

Anyway, the ice governess reanimates and begins chasing Vastra, Jenny, Strax, the Doctor, and Clara. The Doctor, Jenny, and Vastra trap the Ice Woman temporarily. The Doctor leads Latimer, his children, his friends, and Clara to a side room and tells them to stay there, but the defiant Clara instead follows him, even kissing him (he'd explained his presence earlier by saying he was Clara's gentleman friend). The two lure the Ice Governess to the roof, since they need to get her out of the house, but he also doesn't want to deliver her to Simeon and the scary Snowmen outside, since the Ice Governess is what the Great Intelligence needs to achieve a true human form. After a funny moment where Clara's bustle gets her stuck in the window, the Doctor tests her by asking her if he has a plan. After some hesitation, she explains that he must have a plan because if they were escaping or hiding, they'd have gone to a different part of the house. Satisfied, the Doctor calls up the TARDIS ladder, and he and Clara ascend, though Clara gets in a final word of smugness to her governess predecessor before she gets pulled up.

The Doctor then leads her to the TARDIS, after sealing the top of the stairs with water vapor to keep the Ice Governess from following them. He opens the doors and excitedly introduces her to his beloved spaceship: "It's called the TARDIS. It can travel anywhere in time and space." Then, turning around and with a proud smile on his face, he adds, "And it's mine." I love how proud he is of the TARDIS, actually. I mean, why wouldn't he be?

While we're at it -- here we see the promised interior redesign of the TARDIS. I like it actually. Some fans are saying it resembles what the TARDIS looked like back in the '70's, though I wouldn't know myself. I just thought it was cool that the TARDIS interior actually looks like a spaceship now. It didn't have that vibe before. I mean, I'm not a fan of the "stark, white modern style" that is so hip right now. I can't stand it in home design and I especially cannot stand it in web design. But I mean, at least it looks like a spaceship. Cause, after all, it is.

Clara does the classic Companion thing of seeing how big the TARDIS is inside then running outside to look at the outside again. The Doctor prompts her to make the classic "first-time-in-the-TARDIS" comment ("It's bigger on the inside"). But she surprises him by saying "It's smaller on the outside" instead, which I thought was fun. She also asks if the TARDIS has a kitchen (another first) and then says she doesn't know why she asked that, but says she guesses it's because she likes making soufflés.

The Doctor does a double take. "Soufflés?"

That was a big moment for me. I knew from the TV Guide article that Clara and Coleman's earlier character, Oswin Oswald from "Asylum of the Daleks," were supposedly connected. But this nailed it for me. Anyone who saw "Asylum of the Daleks" remembers the running gag about Oswin and her soufflés. Thus I was intrigued.

After some conversation, the Doctor presses a key into Clara's hand. I wasn't sure what the key was supposed to be for but then remembered the Doctor opens the doors of the TARDIS with actual physical keys, and realized he was giving her a TARDIS key. She asks why, but he replies
"I never know why — I only know who," implying that he considers her a potential Companion at last.

Unfortunately, just as this occurs, the Ice Governess breaks through the barrier and grabs Clara, pulling her down off the cloud where the TARDIS is parked, and Clara drops the key on the TARDIS floor. The Doctor, in shock, calls her name.

Vastra and company look outside the window to find Clara on the ground, having fallen from the sky. Vastra does a scan with some device and determines that Clara is dead. This made me sad, because I was afraid that this was going to be the end of her time as a Companion, and it had barely started. But then I knew that couldn't be right. At any rate, the Doctor arrives just then, materializing the TARDIS around Clara's body. He brings her into the house, where Strax is able to bring her back to life temporarily using some sort of technology. The Doctor manages to wake Clara up, and they briefly talk. Clara mentions how Vastra told her he had been a savior of worlds, and asks if he is going to save this one too. He asks if she will go away with him if he does. She says yes.

This moves the Doctor to action. He kisses Clara on the head saying, "Well then, Merry Christmas." He then collects fragments of the Ice Governess in a tin box and shows it to Simeon, who is still waiting outside, and tells him "I'll see you at the office." Simeon then departs, heading back to his office, only to find the Doctor and Vastra already there. A confrontation ensues, in which the Doctor realizes the Intelligence has been using Simeon all this time, and flashbacks of Simeon's original encounter with the Intelligence are shown. Remember how I said to take note that the snowman only repeated what the kid said? Well, this is why: the snow only mimics what others say. (The Intelligence itself does not seem to do this, however). Seeing the connection, the Doctor prompts Simeon to grab the tin, only to reveal that the tin does not in fact hold the ice crystals but the Memory Worm from before. The Doctor assumes that, by erasing Simeon's memory, the Great Intelligence, which got its foothold for this attack through a parasitic connection with Simeon, will also be obliterated - much like how in "The Angels Take Manhattan" Amy and Rory created a paradox that erased Winter Quay from existence.

Well, for once, the Doctor is wrong. The Great Intelligence somehow manages to hold on to existence, and takes control of Simeon's body in a weird, scary zombie-esque fashion. Zombie-Simeon gets the better of the Doctor and attempts to strangle him while also freezing his face.

Meanwhile, back at the mansion, Clara is dying, and begins to cry. She tells Captain Latimer that his children are scared, and that he should comfort them. He insists that children aren't his expertise, but she says they are now.

Outside, the snow turns to rain. The snow in the globe starts going ballistic, and Zombie-Simeon loses his control over the Doctor, eventually dying. Vastra and the Doctor realize the snow in the globe is turning to rain, and go to the window. Opening it, they taste the rain, and Vastra comments that it's salty. The Doctor realizes it's not rain, but tears (tears are salty? Since when?). He realizes the snow was still psychically connected to Clara, and that something must have happened at Latimer's house. He and Vastra rush back.

When they arrive, Strax informs the Doctor that Clara has only moments left to live. He runs to her side, comforting her, and gives her the TARDIS key back. And then, with her last breaths, she says:

"You clever boy."

This phrase sparks a moment of recognition in the Doctor. Because, of course, the last thing Oswin said in "Asylum of the Daleks" before the Doctor left her was, "Run, you clever boy."

Unfortunately, Clara still dies. At her funeral, the Doctor realizes he never knew her full name. And then he reads it on the tombstone:

Clara Oswin Oswald.

"It was Soufflé Girl again!" he exclaims, realizing that Clara and Oswin Oswald are the same person ("Soufflé Girl" was his nickname for Oswin in "Asylum of the Daleks"). He then realizes that many of their mannerisms were the same, as were their last words ("Run, you clever boy. And remember"). He also remembers that he never did see Oswin's face when they were on the asylum planet - he only heard her voice. And Oswin and Clara's voices are the same. (Of course they are, silly Doctor - they're the same actress!) He then declares it impossible that there could be two versions of her, but runs off gleefully to the TARDIS anyway, eager to investigate the impossibility. Jenny and Vastra look on, with Jenny confused because Clara, as far as she's concerned, is dead. But Vastra is more understanding. (Oh and also notice Clara's birthday on the tombstone - November 23, the same day Doctor Who debuted on TV in 1963. Nice little homage).

The Doctor heads back to the TARDIS, joyfully activating the controls, and yells: "Clara! Oswin! Oswald! Watch me run."

And then, we return to the same graveyard, but in modern times. A black girl calls after a friend, "Stop! Where are you going? Don't you think this place is creepy?"

The camera zooms in on a girl with familiar-looking hair. She then turns around - and it's Jenna! Or Clara or Oswin or whatever her name is. She then says, confidently, "No. I don't believe in ghosts."

And...the episode ends. Well, actually it led right into a "Coming Soon" trailer highlighting what's to come in Part 2 of Series 7, all tied together with the tagline "Right then, Clara Oswald. Time to find out who you are." (Well, and also the tagline "I'm the Doctor. I'm an alien from outer space. I'm a thousand years old, I've got two hearts, and I can't fly a plane!" LOL). It also features the Doctor's classic question to Companions, which he asked to both Rose and Amy, among others: the question of where the Companion wants to go and what she wants to see, which is a nice touch. Here's the trailer:

This episode got me really excited. Like the Doctor, I am really curious to find out who Clara really is and how she could possibly have multiple lives. Is she like River Song, someone who can encounter the Doctor in multiple places in time? Or is reincarnation involved? (I don't believe in reincarnation; I'm just putting the idea out there). Or could she have some Time Lord traits (again, like River Song) and be able to regenerate into different people? We won't know for a while yet.

So the official Doctor Who Tumblr confirmed Series 7 Part 2 will be coming to us in 2013, but didn't give an exact date. (One commercial on BBC America, highlighting all the new shows coming up in 2013 on the channel, also confirms this, and even has a cameo at the end from Matt Smith, where he says "It's going to be epic"). But "the offseason belongs to the fans," they have declared, and they're going to be posting every day till the show returns to keep the fandom active. I like how appreciative they are of the fandom, not just in England but everywhere in the world. I'm definitely going to use the offseason to become even more of a Whovian. Soon, I think I won't be as much of a novice. :)

Well, that's it. Hope you enjoyed this analysis. I can't wait to see what Series 7 Part 2 brings!

(Oh, and given the revelation of Clara's full name in this episode, I have edited the "Companions: Clara" label for this blog accordingly. It is now "Companions: Clara Oswin Oswald." Sorry if that spoils anyone. I also updated the "Next Doctor Who Episode" section of the footer).

Started writing around 3pm, then took a break and finished later.


Classic Who

Hi there. In case you're wondering, yes I am going to write an analysis of the 2012 Christmas Special. In fact, I am probably going to watch it right after I write this. My family and I are going to go see The Hobbit tonight at this fancy movie theater, and we're leaving at about 9:30. I've already seen it - I saw it last week in the 48 FPS (a.k.a. "High Frame Rate" or HFR) version - but this time I'll be able to see it properly, without having to deal with the theater having a blackout and the audio cutting out in an important scene near the end due to the movie running over its scheduled end time. Hopefully.

So the reason I am posting this is because I found out something on the internet - on GetGlue, I think - that is worth mentioning on this blog. Apparently, the old, classic pre-reboot Doctor Who episodes - the episodes from the 1960's and early 1970's that were thought to be lost - are not as lost as we thought. While some of them remain missing (most notably the last serial of The Tenth Planet, which features the First Doctor becoming the Second Doctor), apparently some of them have been found. Some of the early episodes can be seen on the video streaming/uploading site Dailymotion.com. Dailymotion is basically like YouTube in that you can watch videos on it as well as create an account and upload your own, but less well-known. It originated in France, so I think it's more popular in Europe.

You can find these episodes by going to Dailymotion and searching for "classic who doctor who" or "doctor who classic." They have been put up by multiple users. I have not done a full investigation to see which episodes are available, though the very first episode of the show, "An Unearthly Child," is among them, as are episodes from the second serial that ran from December 21, 1963-February 1, 1964, which is notable because it featured the debut of the Daleks. These early episodes all seem to be in black and white, though some color versions of the same episodes are also listed. For the search result "doctor who classic," stick to the first 3 pages of results - after that it devolves into a list of totally irrelevant stuff. For "classic who doctor who" only the first page of results is relevant.

I mention this here because, since the episodes do indeed exist and are viewable, I think I may attempt to analyze them for this blog! It would be fun, right? After all, I added a bunch of pre-reboot Doctor Who stuff to my Netflix queue along with the reboot seasons, since there was some pre-reboot stuff on there.

Well, think about it.

And...it doesn't look like I'm going to have time to watch the whole Christmas Special before we have to leave for the movie. Darn. Guess the post on it will have to wait till tomorrow. Maybe I can watch half of it right now? Nah, I'd rather watch it all in one go. So tomorrow it is!

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!


Countdown to Christmas, Day 7 (Final): "Vastra Investigates" (2012 Christmas Special Prequel #2)


Merry Christmas Eve! Welcome to the seventh and final Countdown to Christmas post (since tomorrow's Christmas after all). Since my family has plans for tonight, I figured I'd post this early in the day. This time I'm analyzing the second of the two prequels for the 2012 Christmas Special, "Vastra Investigates."

Again, there's not a lot to say about this prequel, since it's really short. But it is more like a proper episode, with a title card and everything. Basically, it involves Vastra, Jenny, and Strax investigating...something. We're not shown what, except that it seems that in this scene they've caught their culprit, with the help of the police, since Strax is shown handcuffing somebody at the very beginning. Strax mutters some stuff about his dislike for humans (to comedic effect) and threatens to hurt the guy he's handcuffing until the policeman tells him not to, saying he has officers on the way. The policeman then thanks Vastra for her help and inquires if her "skin condition" hurts (Vastra is Silurian, so she has reptilian skin). Jenny explains that it's not a skin condition -- it's just skin, and Vastra explains that she is from an intelligent reptilian race that lives under the Earth's crust. Jenny adds that Vastra was accidentally awoken by an extension of the London Underground being built. The policeman takes this in stride (somehow). Vastra then mentions that she made the mistake of falling in love. The policeman asks if she fell in love with the "Turkish fellow" (meaning Strax, who this guy thinks is Turkish). She says no, and then he realizes she means his daughter (not sure what that means).

Vastra and Jenny get back in their carriage and laugh about the previous exchange. They then discuss the Doctor and Jenny says she wishes he would help, and that he can't sulk in his box forever. Vastra, however, sympathizes with the Doctor, and says that we all experience heartbreak, so "imagine if you had two" (referring to the Doctor having 2 hearts). They then ride away.

Again, an interesting setup for the Christmas Special. Can't wait to watch it tomorrow. Turns out my DVR has it set to record at 6pm even though it's advertised as at being on at 9pm, so I may have the post up earlier than I thought. It depends on what plans my family has for tomorrow night.

Once again, Merry Christmas Eve! Cheers!

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Countdown to Christmas, Day 6: "The Great Detective" (Christmas Special Prequel)


Welcome to Day 6 of the Countdown to Christmas series! It's the home stretch, people. Just tonight, then Christmas Eve, then Christmas!

So tonight I am analyzing "The Great Detective," the prequel for the 2012 Christmas Special that debuted at the Children in Need event. Doctor Who has been known for doing some special for this event every year, and this year they kept up that tradition. Thankfully, this prequel and the next one got captured by my DVR at the tail end of the recording of the Doctor Who Brit List special, so I didn't have to go online to watch it.

There's not a lot to say about this prequel. It's like the length of a teaser trailer for a movie. Basically, it shows a short scene featuring the Doctor, Silurian Madame Vastra, a Cockney maid type named Jenny Flint who acts as her assistant, and this Sontarian named Strax whose face is said to be "too horrible to be photographed." The opening narration says that in Victorian London, there was a story about someone called "The Great Detective," that being Vastra. Vastra, Jenny, and Strax are introduced. Then the narrator tells us of a mysterious fourth member of the group - and in walks the Doctor, in an outfit straight out of Dickens. And he is in a foul mood. Vastra and her lackeys try to get him interested in investigating some strange phenomena, but he won't have it and leaves. That's really all that happens.

I think this was a good setup for the special, based on what we know of the special. During the sneak peek of "The Snowmen" during the Brit List special, it's mentioned that the Doctor is in a Scrooge mode, since he's still devastated about losing the Ponds. And this bit shows that beautifully.

I have to admit, Strax was pretty hilarious. He kind of reminded me of Gru from Despicable Me, who famously wants to steal the moon. His naming of the people of the Moon as "Moon-ites" may be a reference to early sci-fi stories in the 20th century which referred to people from the Moon as "Selenites," the name deriving from the Greek moon goddess Selene.

Well, that's all for this post. Check back tomorrow for the last prequel and the last Countdown post (since the next day would be Christmas itself). Merry Christmas!

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Countdown to Christmas, Day 5: Series 7, Episode 5 (Series 7 Part 1 Finale/Fall Finale) - "The Angels Take Manhattan"


Deep breaths, everyone. It's Day 5 of the Countdown to Christmas series - over the halfway mark - but probably the saddest day out of all of them. Because this time, the episode being reviewed is "The Angels Take Manhattan," the Series 7 Part 1 finale (a.k.a. the Doctor Who Fall Season Finale, as it was advertised on BBC America). And even Matt Smith says (in the BBC America Inside Look) that if you don't have a lump in your throat by the end of this episode, you're an alien (to which he adds, in a typical Doctor tone, that if you are an alien, he's coming to get you).

Because if you ever cared for Amelia "Amy" (Pond) Williams and Rory Williams (a.k.a. "the Ponds"), even a little bit, you will be really sad once you watch this episode. I haven't even seen Series 5 and 6 yet, but I had gotten so fond of Amy that at the end of this I wanted to cry so bad, but I'm one of those people who can't just cry on command. My lip was trembling toward the end, though (though I don't know if it was from emotion or from how cold it is in my room right now), and I had to watch something happy right afterward. (Ironically, they followed this episode in its original airing with a sneak peek of the then-upcoming show Chef Race: UK vs. US, as if Doctor Who fans were actually going to still be watching TV after seeing that episode instead of wallowing in grief...cruel. Though I will say, I watched Chef Race: UK vs. US - which is basically a twist on cooking reality-competition shows like Bravo's Top Chef and the Food Network's Chopped and The Next Iron Chef, hosted by Food Network star Claire Robinson and Michelin star chef and London restauranteur Richard Corrigan - and it was pretty interesting, even if the two team captains were both jerks...but be careful saying that online. The UK team captain, Johnnie Mountain, has an active Twitter account, and he was following anything said on Twitter about the show while it aired, which resulted in me having a couple awkward Twitter conversations with him).

Ok...so let's get rolling.

Despite the sad parts of this episode, there were things I liked. The whole film noir vibe of the episode, starting from the cold open, was pretty cool. I've haven't seen a lot of film noir, but I'm familiar enough with it to recognize it when I see it, and I do really like detective stories. Plus, 1930's America - the Great Depression aside - is an era I have always had an interest in, though I couldn't tell you why. So it was cool to see that. I even was able to pinpoint the setting as 1930's before finding out the exact date. How? Well, in one shot after Rory is sent back to the '30's, the Empire State Building is visible, and that was completed in 1931 and is a testament to the art style of the period (as is the Chrysler Building). Not to mention the car he rides in with River is clearly a '20's or '30's-style car.

I was also delighted to hear the song that plays leading into the first scene after the title sequence. The song is by one of my favorite artists, Sting (who you might know primarily for his work as lead vocalist of The Police), and is called "Englishman in New York." The part that plays is the chorus: "I'm an alien/I'm a legal alien/I'm an Englishman in New York." And the funny thing is, seeing as the Doctor and the Ponds are in New York in that scene, the song totally fits -- because the Doctor is an alien - and, IRL, an Englishman - in New York. Cool, huh?

This episode was also the first time I got to see Alex Kingston truly in action as River Song. I'd only seen her before in the specials. And I can see why she's really popular in the fandom; River Song is freaking hilarious. She pretty much provides the comic relief in this episode - what little there is. River's chemistry with the Doctor is just great. Kingston and Matt Smith play off each other quite well, actually. Matt Smith's line "Sorry I'm late, honey. Traffic was hell" was easily the funniest line in this episode. I had forgotten the Doctor and River were married, though I had read it online before; they do kind of act like an old married couple. Still, River seems concerned for him -- she warns Amy:

Never let him see the damage. And never, ever let him see you age. He doesn't like endings.

Before that, when the Doctor learns she lied about her wrist not being broken, she says:

When one's in love with an ageless god who insists on the face of a twelve year old, one does one's best to hide the damage.

Also, I didn't notice this at first, but while Amy and the Doctor were on the bridge, she was playing "Pooh Sticks"! If you have no clue what that is...you're either way younger than me or you never watched Winnie the Pooh when you were a kid. This video explains it better than I can:

But on to more serious things. First off, the Weeping Angels are the villains in this episode. I knew about them from the specials, but again, this was the first time I'd seen them in an episode. They are easily the creepiest villains in this series. Sure, the Daleks are the Doctor's archenemies, but they are nowhere near as creepy as the Weeping Angels, those statues that move when you're not looking. In this episode, we learn they are more dangerous than we once thought - they can basically displace you in time, sending you back in time and forcing you to live out your natural life from whatever point you were sent back to, until you die. And that's exactly what they do in this episode, first to this detective named Sam Garner and later to Rory.

Once the Doctor, River, Amy, and Rory learn of Rory's fate (by Rory witnessing his own future), Rory decides he's going to defy that fate. The Doctor warns him that the Angels will continue to pursue him, but Rory insists, and Amy decides to join him after River reveals that Rory running from the Angels could cause a paradox that would destroy the Angels. Together, they make a break for it, while the Doctor and River hold off the Weeping Angels now converging on the couple.

But Amy and Rory find themselves trapped on the roof of the building, confronted by the Statue of Liberty, which is now somehow a gigantic Weeping Angel. (And I thought the bronze Statue of Liberty on the Other Side in Fringe was weird). While Amy keeps an eye on it, Rory looks for an escape route. Finding none, he decides the only way to truly defy his fate is to jump off the building. If he dies now, he figures, he won't be able to die later like they just saw. Amy of course tries to talk him out of it, but for once someone actually does not give Amy Pond what she wants. Rory reaffirms his love for her and reminds her he's come back to life multiple times (he's assuming his jumping off the building will cause the paradox, and due to this he will not really die). Then Amy does the crazy, courageous thing - instead of simply pushing Rory off like he asks her to, she GETS ON THE LEDGE WITH HIM.

The scene between them is great, as is the moment right after when the Doctor and River find them and the Doctor begs them not to jump:

RORY: To save you, I'd do anything.
(Amy gets up on the ledge next to Rory.)
AMY: Prove it.
RORY: No, I can't take you too.
AMY: You said we'd come back to life. Money where your mouth is time.
RORY: Amy, look.
AMY: Shut up. Together, or not at all.
(The Doctor and River arrive via the fire escape.)
DOCTOR: What the hell are you doing!
AMY: Changing the future. It's called marriage.
Luckily, the paradox thing works and Amy and Rory come back to life, in the middle of the graveyard where the Doctor and Amy found themselves earlier in the episode. The Doctor seems happy (even while River is telling him he needs to give the TARDIS a paint job and possibly replace the bell), since the place the Angels were using to trap their victims in has been erased from time. Rory suggests they all go to a pub, and the Doctor agrees, calling it a "family outing" (which reminded me that River is Amy and Rory's daughter, which I also forgot). But then, Rory looks back and spots a gravestone with his name on it (I noticed, interestingly, that Rory's middle name is Arthur - and his actor's first name is Arthur. Coincidence?). He calls to Amy, pointing it out, but then, as he turns around...

Whoops. Guess not ALL the Weeping Angels were destroyed. Rory gets sent back in time AGAIN. And, unfortunately, they can't just go back in time in the TARDIS this time and rescue him - there were already time distortions around New York to begin with (as pointed out by River earlier in the episode), making it impossible to land the TARDIS there even for River, but now time is even more unstable there due to the paradox Amy and Rory created, meaning the Doctor can never return to that point in time anyway. And then, the gravestone changes, showing that Rory died at age 82. The Doctor sees this and tells Amy he is so sorry. Amy insists they try to go back for Rory--create another paradox--but the Doctor says it's too dangerous and doing so would rip New York apart (similar to how reality was nearly ripped apart at the end of Series 6 when River refused to kill the Doctor).

Then comes the saddest scene in the whole episode. Amy faces the Angel head on, and makes a decision. (I also love that she calls River by her birth name, Melody, and that they have a nice mother-daughter moment here).

DOCTOR: Amy, what are you doing?
AMY: That gravestone, Rory's, there's room for one more name, isn't there?
DOCTOR: What are you talking about? Back away from the Angel. Come back to the Tardis. We'll figure something out.
AMY: The Angel, would it send me back to the same time? To him?
DOCTOR: I don't know. Nobody knows.
AMY: But it's my best shot, yeah?
RIVER: Doctor, shut up. Yes. Yes, it is.
AMY: Well, then. I just have to blink, right?
AMY: It'll be fine. I know it will. I'll be with him, like I should be. Me and Rory together. Melody?
DOCTOR: Stop it. Just, just stop it!
(River takes Amy's hand and kisses it.)
AMY: You look after him. You be a good girl, and you look after him.
DOCTOR: You are creating fixed time. I will never be able to see you again.
AMY: I'll be fine. I'll be with him.
DOCTOR: Amy, please, just come back into the Tardis. Come along, Pond, please.
AMY: Raggedy man, goodbye!
(Amy turns her back on the Angel, and vanishes. Rory's gravestone gains more words - And His Loving Wife Amelia Williams aged 87.)
The Doctor, naturally, is devastated:

We then go back to the TARDIS, with River at the controls, where the Doctor is in that same inconsolable numb state he was in after losing Rose in "Doomsday." The Doctor apologizes, since Amy and Rory were River's parents after all (don't ask me how that works), but River doesn't seem to be grieving at all, at least not outwardly. (In retrospect, I think it's telling that River is wearing a black dress in the scene where her parents disappear - as if she knew what was going to happen ahead of time). She simply warns the Doctor not to travel alone (because we all know what happens when he does), and he offers her the chance to accompany him. She says she will - but not all the time, saying, somewhat jokingly, that there should only be "one psychopath per TARDIS." She then goes off to write the book that the Doctor has been reading from this whole episode, knowing that she will give it to Amy to be published, and says she will ask Amy to write an afterword to it, just for him, before she leaves.

The Doctor then jumps up, remembering he had torn the last page out of the book earlier - when he told Amy he always tears the last page out of books so that they never end. He runs back to Central Park (pretty fast for coming from Queens), where, surprisingly, his picnic basket is still sitting there, the last page still inside.

Donning Amy's reading glasses (which he took from her earlier), he reads the last page, which now has Amy's afterword on it:

Afterword, by Amelia Williams. Hello, old friend. And here we are, you and me, on the last page. By the time you read these words, Rory and I will be long gone. So know that we lived well, and were very happy. And above all else, know that we will love you always. Sometimes I do worry about you, though. I think once we're gone, you won't be coming back here for a while, and you might be alone, which you should never be. Don't be alone, Doctor.

Flashbacks of the seven-year-old Amy the Doctor first met back in the Series 5 premiere are shown, and Amy's voice-over continues:

And do one more thing for me. There's a little girl waiting in a garden. She's going to wait a long while, so she's going to need a lot of hope. Go to her. Tell her a story. Tell her that if she's patient, the days are coming that she'll never forget. Tell her she'll go to sea and fight pirates. She'll fall in love with a man who'll wait two thousand years to keep her safe. Tell her she'll give hope to the greatest painter who ever lived and save a whale in outer space. Tell her this is the story of Amelia Pond. And this is how it ends. 

And that truly is how it ends. How the Ponds' story ends, and how the episode ends. It's a good ending, with closure for the Ponds, but still a sad ending. A very sad ending.

I'm going to go recover now. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post. Tomorrow I tackle the first of the two Christmas Special prequels, "The Great Detective," which was shown at the Children In Need event. Monday I tackle the other prequel, "Vastra Investigates." There is apparently a third prequel, "Songtarian Carols," but as it is only 50 seconds long and is really just a sing-along made as a Christmas joke, I don't think I'll cover it.


I have a bit of a confession to make. Any of my posts that are time-stamped "11:59 PM," like this post, are actually not posted at that time. They are posts I finished after midnight on the day after I started writing them, but which I changed the date and time on so they would post on the day I meant to post them on. Just wanted to come clean about that.
Episode quotes taken from The Doctor Who Transcripts. Screenshots are from Sonic Biro.


Countdown to Christmas, Day 4: Series 7, Episode 4 - "The Power of Three"


Welcome to Day 4 of the Countdown to Christmas series! The world is still here, apparently. Today, I'm analyzing episode 4 of Series 7, "The Power of Three." (A title which I said last post made me think of Charmed - in that series there is a power called The Power of Three that the three main characters possess, as well as a spell that activates it).

This episode presents an interesting scenario: The Doctor has made the Ponds so much a part of his life/world, but what would happen if he became part of their everyday lives for a change? As Amy narrates in the beginning:

Every time we flew away with the Doctor, we'd just become part of his life. But he never stood still long enough to become part of ours. Except once. The year of the slow invasion. The time the Doctor came to stay.
Therefore, unlike most Doctor Who episodes, this episode takes place primarily in our world. It's interesting to see how the Doctor acts when he's out of his element like this. He gets antsy when he's not busy (a lot like me, actually). We see him passing the time by kicking a soccer ball with his knees about 5 million times, painting the fence in the Ponds' back garden, doing something with the yard, vacuuming the living room, and playing Wii Tennis (complete with the Wii Tennis Racket accessory).

But why does he have to do that at all? Well, because the Earth has been invaded by these small, mysterious black cubes, and the Doctor wants to monitor them. But they're not doing anything as of yet, so he needs to pass the time.

There is very little time traveling in this episode. At one point, the Doctor takes the Ponds on a little 7-week adventure (in which the previous episode apparently took place) resulting from him trying to take them to the Savoy in the 1890's for their wedding anniversary. In the process, Amy accidentally marries Henry VIII (and, as we learn from the previous episode, Rory leaves his mobile phone charger in Henry VIII's en-suite), among other things.

Most of the episode, though, is about the cubes. I like the comic relief through Rory's dad keeping a video log of what's happening with the cubes. Sounds like something he would do. Meanwhile, through all this, the Ponds' normal lives go on, sometimes with the Doctor and sometimes without, resulting in Rory being asked to be full-time as a nurse and Amy getting invited to be a bridesmaid, which is weird for them because they don't usually commit to anything long-term due to them never knowing when the Doctor will show up and whisk them away somewhere. (Oh and Amy's a journalist now, which means she got a job between "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," when she confessed she was unemployed, and now).

Finally, randomly, the cubes activate, doing all sorts of weird things. This results in the Doctor getting called to UNIT, a scientific/military organization headed up by a blonde-haired lady named Kate Stewart, whose base is located under the Tower of London. Amy accompanies him, while Rory heads to the hospital, having been called in to help due to the crisis with the cubes, accompanied by his dad, who decides to tag along. Rory's dad, however, gets captured by a couple weirdo orderlies with cubes for mouths and transported to a spaceship in another dimension via a portal in an elevator, and Rory, seeing them do so, follows them.

The Doctor decides to confront the cubes and heads into a bunker to face one UNIT has captured (among many, including one that does nothing but play "The Chicken Dance" in an endless loop LOL) while Kate and Amy look on. The countdown on the cube gets to zero, and anticlimatically, nothing happens. Except that the top of the cube opens, and nothing is inside.

But just when you thought things were back to normal...people who were exposed to the cubes start collapsing due to heart failure. And the Doctor, who was just with one of the cubes, starts experiencing cardiac arrest as well, but manages to stay conscious because he has two hearts, so at least one is functioning. The group - Kate, Amy, the Doctor, and UNIT's resident techie - pinpoint the nearest energy source for the cubes as coming from the hospital where Rory works. Throughout this whole scene, the Doctor keeps having close-calls with his heart, and he wonders aloud how humans ever manage with just one heart.

Amy and the Doctor head to the hospital, ready to find the source of the energy, when all the sudden he semi-collapses again from his heart trouble. Amy, always the quick thinker, spies a nearby defibrillator and uses it on him, even though he protests. It does the trick and the Doctor is back to normal (though with a unbuttoned shirt), though he warns Amy to never do that to him again. They track the energy down to this girl we kept getting glimpses of earlier in the episode, who it turns out is an android. The Doctor deactivates her with his Screwdriver. Then he and Amy find the portal in the elevator and step out into the dimension beyond. (As an avid fan of all things Alice in Wonderland, I appreciated the Doctor's reference to Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, where he says the portal is a "looking-glass" before stepping through it with Amy).

It turns out the ship belongs to the Shakri, a race the Doctor believed was just a myth, a sort of boogeyman for Gallifreyan kids to keep them in line. The Shakri intend to use the cubes to exterminate (to use the Daleks' catchphrase) the human race before they start colonizing space. But the Doctor's not about to let that happen, so he reconfigures the cubes to turn people's hearts back on - the way Amy restarted his hearts with the defibrillator. Therefore, the world is saved, and after the three return to Earth, the Doctor is thanked by Kate Stewart, then proceeds to dinner with the Ponds and Rory's dad. At the end, the Doctor says he must get going, and acknowledges that the Ponds have normal lives they don't want to give up (this is in response to a conversation he and Amy had earlier), so he is more than willing to leave them behind this time. But then Rory's dad speaks up:

Actually, it's you they can't give up, Doctor. And I don't think they should. Go with him. Go save every world you can find. Who else has that chance? Life will still be here.

So, basically, after all this time, Rory's dad has given his blessing to his son and daughter-in-law's adventures. The Doctor offers Rory's dad the chance to come along, but he refuses, saying someone has to water the plants, and asks only that the Doctor bring them back safe. The Doctor and the Ponds then head for the TARDIS once again, as Amy narrates:

So that was the year of the slow invasion, when the Earth got cubed, and the Doctor came to stay. It was also when we realised something the Shakri never understood. What cubed actually means. The power of three. 
I found that last shot notable, because, despite being the second-to-last episode of Series 7 part 1, this episode was actually the last to be filmed of the five. Therefore, this was the last episode in which Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill played the Ponds - their true goodbye to their roles.  And what a great episode to leave on. Granted, I haven't seen "The Angels Take Manhattan" yet, so my opinion on that might change. But I can imagine it must've been tough for them to film this episode, knowing it was the last. (The three getting in the TARDIS was the last scene Karen, Arthur, and Matt Smith shot together, apparently, according to BBC One - and in an interview Karen said they cried after the doors shut. In the same interview, Matt Smith admits he's going to miss Karen and Arthur but acknowledges that "all good things must come to an end").

The episode does a great job exploring the Doctor's love for Earthling humanity and his love for the Ponds. The Doctor's catchphrase "This planet, these people, are precious to me. And I will defend them to my last breath" shows up again when one of the cubes activates in front of the Doctor. And as if that weren't enough, the Doctor launches into a monologue about humanity in front of the Shakri:

So, here you are, depositing slug pellets all over the Earth, made attractive so humans will collect them, hoping to find something beautiful inside. Because that's what they are. Not pests or plague, creatures of hope, forever building and reaching. Making mistakes, of course, every life form does. But, but they learn. And they strive for greater, and they achieve it. You want a tally. Put their achievements against their failings through the whole of time, I will back humanity against the Shakri every time.

The Doctor's love for the Ponds comes up in a conversation he has with Amy while trying to figure out what the cubes want. He asks Amy if she and Rory are planning to stop traveling with him (something he's sensed). She says they haven't decided, and admits the traveling seems like running away. The Doctor points out that Earth is just one tiny bit of a huge universe and that there's so much more to see. But he admits that he's known for a while that they will stop traveling with him one day. And then the kicker:

AMY: Then why do you keep coming back for us?
DOCTOR: Because you were the first. The first face this face saw. And you're seared onto my hearts, Amelia Pond. You always will be. I'm running to you, and Rory, before you fade from me. 

Aw. That is just such a great line. By "the first face this face saw," by the way, he's referring to the first episode of Series 5. Amy's face was the first face the Doctor saw after regenerating into the Eleventh Doctor, seeing as he crash-landed in her backyard. Hence, the connection. That episode is also referenced in this episode, by the way, in a scene where the Ponds and the Doctor eat fish custard, the fish fingers-custard thing the Doctor kind of invented in that episode, while watching the UK version of The Apprentice. I also noticed things that were like the end of Series 2 - the android girl looked kind of the possessed girl in "Fear Her," and the way the cubes just appeared and people just accepted them as part of their lives was a lot like how people just welcomed the ghosts and ghost shifts in "Army of Ghosts."

We're almost to the end of Series 7 Part 1. I've come to like the Ponds, especially Amy, a lot. I almost don't want to watch the next episode, knowing their fate. I just might cry. We'll see.

Tomorrow's Day 5, so time for the Doctor Who fall season finale, "The Angels Take Manhattan"! Look forward to it!

I just realized I miscalculated the days, and Day 7 at this rate would end up being Christmas Eve and not Christmas Day like I thought. But I think it'll work out. I'll just split up the prequels, doing prequel 1 on Sunday and prequel 2 on Monday (Christmas Eve). Then Christmas Day will, of course, be devoted to the actual Christmas Special. I will likely do a live analysis as it is airing here, if possible, so be prepared for a BIG spoiler warning there.

Well, that's it for now. Cheers!

Episode quotes taken from The Doctor Who Transcripts.

Facebook page? Twitter? Too soon? Plus a rearranged sidebar

Hi everyone! Hope you are enjoying my Countdown to Christmas post series.

I have a question. I would like to promote TARDIS Thoughts as much as possible. And one way to do that might be through social media. I have the option to do it easily on Google+ via my Blogger dashboard. But I am thinking Facebook and Twitter for this question.

Do you guys think it is too soon for me to make a Twitter account and a Facebook fan page for TARDIS Thoughts? This blog is only a couple months old, and I don't want to rush into things. On the other hand, I have experience running a Facebook fan page (I have one for my website Myu Corner and co-admined one for this YouTube band I was part of for a little while) and run three Twitter accounts currently (personal, writing promotion-related, and web design portfolio-related; I also technically run the Twitter for that YouTube band still though I never check it now...if you want to see our lame attempts at a band go to ReiliaAmyLara on YouTube - I'm the "Lara" in that name. I'm thinking of turning all our social media accounts - Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, YouTube - over to the girl who started the band in the first place, since she's the only one who still cares about it). So I could make it work. Going to think about it.

In other news, I re-arranged the blog's sidebar slightly to make it neater and also to accommodate the AdSense widget I added. I blocked any categories I thought inappropriate, so hopefully no inappropriate ads will show up here (I blocked all the sensitive categories and a few in General - including video games because some ads for online games are not very appropriate). I'll keep an eye out though.

So anyway, just putting the question out there. Enjoy your happily Mayan apocalypse-free day (so far) and enjoy the Doctor Who specials marathon on BBC America, leading up to the List of Lists special tonight. I'm going to get ready to do some Christmas shopping. Cheers!

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Countdown to Christmas, Day 3: Series 7, Episode 3 - "A Town Called Mercy"


It's Day 3 of the Countdown to Christmas series! Surprised this is being posted earlier in the evening? Well, I worked early today so I got home early. And I am in a better mood than the last two days. I just wish it wasn't so cold. It's like someone - or something - decided to remind Southern California that winter is upon us by sending some super-duper cold weather. But that's neither here nor there.

So...next up (or "ep" ha ha): Series 7, Episode 3: "A Town Called Mercy"!

This episode takes us to a very new place for Doctor Who: the American Wild West! Apparently, the Doctor, Amy, and Rory were en route to the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico and because, as the Doctor puts it in an annoyed tone, somebody spilled toast crumbs on the TARDIS console, they've ended up in the middle of the desert about 200 miles north of their destination instead. (Not sure who spilled the crumbs...though Rory's dad WAS eating a sandwich in the TARDIS at the end of the last episode... maybe the Doctor whisked Amy and Rory away while they were eating breakfast?). I have to say, the setting looks spot-on. Not that I know much about the Wild West - SoCal is not the Wild West, clearly - but I have seen some Westerns and know some history. Who knew they had replicas of the Wild West out in the deserts of Andalucia, Spain? (That's where this episode was filmed, by the way. It was filmed at the Parque Tématico del Desierto de Tabermas-Almería, also known as Parque Oasys or Mini Hollywood, and at Fort Bravo, formerly known as Texas Hollywood, a former movie set-turned-theme-park of sorts. Both places are located in the province of Almería in the Andalucia region of Spain and have both been used for shooting Westerns).

The crisis de jour is that 3 weeks prior, some weird cyborg cowboy called "The Gunslinger" showed up and has threatened to shoot anyone who crosses over the border of stone and wood placed around the town (called Mercy, hence the episode title) unless the town agrees to give up this alien doctor that The Gunslinger wants to kill. But the town wants to keep said doctor around because he saved the town from cholera and has given the town electric streetlamps and modern (for the time) heating via power from his crashed spacecraft. The problem with this arrangement is that, with The Gunslinger's ultimatum in place, no supplies can get to the town from the surrounding area, meaning that sooner or later the people of the town are going to starve to death.

And this is where the Doctor, Amy, and Rory come in. Even though Rory warns the Doctor of the "Keep Out" signs, the three end up stepping into town, where the Doctor notes the electric streetlamps, which are "ten years too early," and the fact that people are staring at them. Ironically, he finds this amusing, saying, "Anachronistic electricity, Keep Out signs, aggressive stares. Has someone been peeking at my Christmas list?" He also makes a comment to Rory about Rory leaving his phone charger in Henry the Eighth's en-suite (which, according to The TARDIS Index File, actually happens in the next episode, "The Power of Three," meaning that chronologically this episode takes place after that one).

The Doctor then saunters into the local saloon like nothing's wrong, pushing open the doors just like in an old western. He then goes up to the bar and orders tea. Unfortunately, trouble ensues once the Doctor introduces himself and confirms he is an alien. Thinking he is the "alien doctor" the Gunslinger is after, they drag him out of town and dump him over the border. The Gunslinger then appears from some subspace or other and is about to kill the Doctor, when the town sheriff/Marshal Isaac intervenes. Isaac was very well played I thought. He's played by American actor Ben Browder, famous for his role as John Crichton on the Australian series Farscape and as Cameron Mitchell on Stargate SG-1. I've never seen him in anything but this though.

It turns out that the sheriff/Marshal knows who the real alien doctor is - this guy named Kahler-Jex. Kahler-Jex is played by Adrian Scarborough, an English actor primarily known for his role as Barnes in the film Gosford Park, his small role as a BBC Radio Announcer in The King's Speech (which is probably where I've heard/seen him, because I've seen that movie), and his role as Mr. Pritchard on the popular TV series Upstairs, Downstairs. He does a great job in this episode playing a scientist who regrets what he has created but fears having to deal with his past. In many ways, he is in the same position as Dr. Frankenstein from the book Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyll in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - he created a creature that was supposed to be used for good (in Kahler-Jex's case, ending the civil war on his planet) but instead it became a monster and did things he did not intend. And apparently, the people on Jex's planet believe that when you die, your soul must climb a mountain while carrying the souls of all those you've wronged - which is why he doesn't want to die for his crimes, because he can't bear to face the afterlife consequences. Pretty odd afterlife concept if you ask me, but it works.

The Doctor originally comes up with a plan to evacuate the whole city into the TARDIS to save everyone from the Gunslinger, but changes his mind when he finds Jex's ship and learns who he truly is. He then heads back to town to confront Jex about his crimes. And then Jex has the nerve to tick the Doctor off:

Looking at you, Doctor, is like looking into a mirror, almost. There's rage there, like me. Guilt, like me. Solitude. Everything but the nerve to do what needs to be done. Thank the gods my people weren't relying on you to save them.
That's the last straw for the Doctor, and he angrily pushes Jex out of town, more than ready to let the Gunslinger finish him off, while the townspeople look on.

And this is where the amazing Amy Pond steps in and takes charge once again. She basically tells the Doctor off:

AMY: Let him come back, Doctor.
DOCTOR: Or what? You won't shoot me, Amy.
AMY: How do you know? Maybe I've changed. I mean, you've clearly been taking stupid lessons since I saw you last.
(Her gun fires again.)
AMY: I didn't mean to do that.
(So Isaac fires to get everyone's attention.)
ISAAC: Everyone who isn't an American, drop your gun.
DOCTOR: We can end this right now. We could save everyone right now.
AMY: This is not how we roll, and you know it. What happened to you, Doctor? When did killing someone become an option?
DOCTOR: Jex has to answer for his crimes.
AMY: And what then? Are you going to hunt down everyone who's made a gun or a bullet or a bomb?
DOCTOR: But they [keep] coming back, don't you see? Every time I negotiate, I try to understand. Well, not today. No. Today, I honour the victims first. His, the Master's, the Dalek's, all the people who died because of my mercy!
AMY: You see, this is what happens when you travel alone for too long. Well, listen to me, Doctor. We can't be like him. We have to be better than him. 
You have to remember, the Doctor is traditionally a pacifist. So for him to act the way he does in this scene, bent on violence, is unlike him, and Amy knows it. So she does the right thing and tells him he's wrong. And apparently not even the Doctor can say no to Amy Pond.

DOCTOR: Amelia Pond. Fine, fine. We think of something else.
The Inside Peek into the episode, a BBC America-exclusive feature shown during one of the commercial breaks for each episode so far of this series, actually deals with this. In it, Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill discuss the different side of the Doctor that we see in this episode. Here's the clip:

Still, the Doctor's "betting on the Gunslinger," and sure enough the Gunslinger shows up to take Jex out. But Isaac won't have it and takes the shot himself to save Jex. Before dying, he appoints the Doctor the new sheriff/Marshal and asks him to take care of the town and of Jex. The Doctor pins on the Marshal badge, orders that Jex be returned to his cell, and confronts the Gunslinger, who agrees to give the townspeople till noon tomorrow to give up Jex - otherwise, he's going to shoot up the town.

I love Amy's reaction when it sinks in that the Doctor is now the Marshal. I think she's thinking "Oh crud, what did we just get ourselves into now?" Rory's reaction in the following scene to being called "fella" is pretty funny too. In the following scene, the townspeople try to convince the Doctor to let Jex go out into the desert for the whole town's sake, but he refuses. The Doctor's line at the end of the scene is very revealing of his current mood:

DOCTOR: Frightened people. Give me a Dalek any day.

The Doctor and Jex then have a conversation, where Jex points out that he still suffers mentally because of what he did. This conversation is actually a lot like the final conversation between the Doctor and Oswin in "Asylum of the Daleks." The hyper-rational Doctor has an opinion and he won't let go of it, even when someone tries to present another side to the situation or another point of view. In "Asylum of the Daleks," the Doctor was convinced Oswin had been fully converted into a Dalek and was only dreaming she was still human as a way of denying the reality of her new life, because that was what seemed rational to him. But Oswin, on the other hand, was trying to present him with another possibility, the possibility that she was still human, but trapped inside a Dalek - a possibility the Doctor rejected because, like emotion to Spock on Star Trek, it was illogical from his point of view. In this case, Jex is presenting his point of view, that he regrets what he did but would not consider it shameful if the Doctor handed him over to the Gunslinger. The Doctor, on the other hand, doesn't believe him, and claims Jex has chosen life in Mercy as his "punishment" for his crimes, a sort of penance more or less. Yet, the Doctor seems to show a moment of his own crisis of conscience at the same time:

DOCTOR: ...You committed an atrocity and chose this as your punishment. Don't get me wrong, good choice. Civilised hours, lots of adulation, nice weather, but, but justice doesn't work like that. You don't get to decide when and how your debt is paid. 

I find this line interesting because of the Doctor's character. Remember, in the reboot continuity, the Doctor is the last of his kind. He was forced to destroy Gallifrey, and all his fellow Time Lords with it, during the Time Wars that happened prior to Series 1. If anyone would have war guilt, it's him. And I'm sure he has a debt to pay for many things throughout the 1,200 years of his existence (he states he is 1,200 years old in this episode). I mean, think of the Pandorica episodes, where all his enemies basically blamed him for the cracks in the universe. Does the good he's done outweigh the bad in the end? I think this situation - as well as the other episodes of Series 7 so far - point out a key point: whether the Doctor is a hero or a villain depends on your viewpoint. It's been shown so far in Series 7 that the Doctor can get pretty nasty when he's been alone for too long, and even Matt Smith points this out in the Inside Look (clip above), saying "I would imagine, you know, the Doctor with not that much patience and tolerance...could be complete carnage." It's also notable that the opening line of the episode, given by an unknown female in voice-over, is "When I was a child, my favourite story was about a man who lived forever, but whose eyes were heavy with the weight of all he'd seen. A man who fell from the stars."  I think that describes the Doctor to a T. Just goes to show that the Companions may be more necessary than I thought. They are what keep the Doctor from going over the edge. As Jex points out to the Doctor:
We all carry our prisons with us. Mine is my past. Yours is your morality.
The Doctor scoffs at that line, but Jex is totally right. The Doctor's morality is what makes or breaks everything he does. It reminds me of this bit from Hamlet, my favorite Shakespeare play:


...Let me question more in particular: what have you,
my good friends, deserved at the hands of fortune,
that she sends you to prison hither?

Prison, my lord!
Denmark's a prison.
Then is the world one.
A goodly one; in which there are many confines,
wards and dungeons, Denmark being one o' the worst.
We think not so, my lord.
Why, then, 'tis none to you; for there is nothing
either good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to me
it is a prison.

 (Text source)

The Gunslinger's ultimatum leads to a classic trope of Western movies: the shootout. Watch any Western movie and it is bound to have one of these scenes. For some reason, they are always at high noon, just like in this episode. The scene plays as usual, and unsurprisingly, the Doctor pulls out his trusty Sonic Screwdriver rather than a gun. I also liked the little trick the townspeople did by running around with Jex's facial marking painted on their faces to confuse the Gunslinger, which reminded me of the movie Three Amigos where the townspeople dressed up like the Amigos to confuse El Guapo and his men (which you can see in this clip; the action starts around 3:47). I thought it was funny that Rory's mark was identified as incorrect according to the Gunslinger's scanner. Guess he didn't draw his right. Oops.

Meanwhile, while the decoys confuse the Gunslinger, Jex escapes to his ship. But he realizes that even if he leaves, the Gunslinger will just pursue him to another planet and they'll have to go through this again somewhere else, as the Gunslinger isn't going to stop pursuing him until Jex is dead. Reminds me of the song "Confrontation" from the recent Jekyll & Hyde musical I saw, in which Hyde threatens Jekyll and says Jekyll will never be free from him:

So Jex decides to face justice and end the war for both him and the Gunslinger. He activates the self-destruct on his spaceship, blowing himself up. Now why the Doctor didn't run off and try to stop him or something I'm not sure. Normally, he would. But he doesn't. Why, I wonder?

At any rate, the Gunslinger is kinda stuck now, his revenge being complete. The Doctor offers to take him home to his home planet, but the Gunslinger says he has no place in a time of peace and says he's going to go off into the desert and self-destruct. But then the Doctor stops him and says he might still have a purpose. In the scene that follows, we see the townspeople seeing the Doctor, Amy, and Rory off. The Doctor suggests they go on another adventure, but Amy objects, saying their friends might start to notice she and Rory are aging faster than they are (apparently all this travel through space and time does that to you). So the Doctor agrees to take them home, though he engages in a mock gun draw with the young guy who tried to shoot him earlier before they leave.

The lady who narrated at the beginning closes out the episode with a great closing:

By the time the Gunslinger arrived, the people of Mercy were used to the strange, the impossible. Where he came from didn't matter. As a man once said, America is a land of second chances. Do I believe the story? I don't know. My great-grandmother must have been a little girl when he arrived. But next time you're in Mercy, ask someone why they don't have a Marshal or Sheriff or policeman there. We've got our own arrangement, they'll say, then they'll smile like they got a secret. Like they've got their own special angel watching out for them. Their very own angel who fell from the stars.
As she narrates this, we see a little girl (assumedly the narrator's great-grandmother) run to the edge of town and look up at a nearby ledge. And there stands the Gunslinger...with the Marshal badge on. I thought that was a nice touch. Cause obviously the Doctor couldn't stay there and be the Marshal.

This was a pretty good episode, in my opinion. Still not convinced whether I like Matt Smith as the Doctor or not. Given the side of the Doctor we're seeing in Series 7, it's not the best introduction to the Eleventh Doctor, I suppose; I may have to see Series 5 and 6 before I decide. It's not like with David Tennant where after a couple episodes I warmed up to him.

Tune in tomorrow for Day 4 and episode 4, "The Power of Three" (why does that make me think of Charmed?). That is, if the world is still here. Since tomorrow's December 21st and all. (Honestly, I don't believe the apocalypse will happen tomorrow. Never did). Bye!

Episode quotes taken from The Doctor Who Transcripts.

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