TARDIS Thoughts: 2013


So, so sorry...

Hello everybody! Long time no post...

I'm really sorry. I planned to write posts ahead of time and schedule them to be posted throughout November, while I was busy with NaNoWriMo. But that did not happen. I didn't even get my 50th Anniversary Special post up (though I did watch the special - it was awesome!).

I am going to try to make up for it. As of today, I have finished Series 3 by watching "Voyage of the Damned." I am now going to skip Series 4 and the 2008-2010 specials temporarily and move on to Series 5 and 6. The reason for this is that the 2013 Christmas Special, "The Time of the Doctor," is coming up, which is also Matt Smith's last episode as The Doctor. And Steven Moffat has said loose ends from all of Matt's run, even back to his debut episode "The Eleventh Hour," will be dealt with in this special. So I have decided I am going to try to get caught up with the rest of Matt's episodes by Christmas. It will mean more than one episode a day (since there are only 15 days till Christmas), but I can handle it, I think.

So here is the plan for now. I will finish posting the posts for Series 3, while starting to watch 5 and 6. I will also get caught up on other posts, like my analyses of the 50th Anniversary Special and its two prequels and analyses of other specials (like "Time Crash," "Death is the Only Answer," the minisodes on the   Complete Seventh Series set, etc) I have not yet covered. 

When Christmas comes, I will have the Christmas Special (and its prequel(s), if any) to analyze. I will aim to be caught up with all pending New Who posts by the end of the year (Lord willing). This will allow me to focus on just new posts come January. Series 8 - starring Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara - is not set to begin airing till August 2014. So I am going to spend the 7-month void catching up on Classic Who, as well as Series 4 and the specials if I have not got to them yet, and possibly also watching the spin-offs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures (I watched the pilot for SJA and liked it a lot), which I don't intend to cover for this blog. 

Best case scenario, I'll be all caught up by next August and ready to tackle whatever is to come in Series 8 and beyond.

For now...Allons-y!


NaBloPoMo (catchup): Series 2, Episode 9: "The Satan Pit"


Yes! Finally, after this post, I will be done with my catchup from the disastrous thing back in February known as NaBloPoMo.

Here we go - episode 9 of Series 2, and part two of the 2-parter begun with "The Impossible Planet," "The Satan Pit."

I said in the previous post that I have issues with this episode, bad memories. But more about that later.

So...picking up from where "The Impossible Planet" left off, The Doctor, Rose, and the crew of a deep-space Sanctuary Base must deal with the fact that some demonic force called The Beast has just possessed the crew's language expert Toby as well as the Ood, a service-oriented race of normally peaceful aliens that are essentially the work staff of the base. And it seems to be all tied to this dark pit down near the center of the planet on which the base is located, which The Doctor and base crew member Ida have discovered.

Rose and the crew members try to run from the now possessed Ood. The Doctor confirms he and Ida have not seen anything escape the pit, and volunteers to rappel down into the dark, seemingly bottomless pit to investigate further, but Captain Zach has other plans, and orders everyone back up so he can activate "strategy 9," a policy to open the airlocks and flush the possessed Ood out. As The Doctor and Ida prepare to ascend, The Beast detects The Doctor's presence and begins communicating directly with The Doctor:
DOCTOR: If you are the Beast, then answer me this. Which one, hmm? Cos the universe has been busy since you've been gone. There's more religions than there are planets in the sky. The Archiphets, Orkology, Christianity, Pash Pash, New Judaism, San Klah, Church of the Tin Vagabond. Which devil are you?
VOICE [OC]: All of them.
DOCTOR: What, then you're the truth behind the myth?
VOICE [OC]: This one knows me as I know him. The killer of his own kind.
DOCTOR: How did you end up on this rock?
VOICE [OC]: The Disciples of the Light rose up against me and chained me in the pit for all eternity.
DOCTOR: When was this?
VOICE [OC]: Before time.
DOCTOR: What does that mean?
VOICE [OC]: Before time.
DOCTOR: What does before time mean?
VOICE [OC]: Before light and time and space and matter. Before the cataclysm. Before this universe was created.
DOCTOR: That's impossible. No life could have existed back then.
VOICE [OC]: Is that your religion?
DOCTOR: It's a belief.
He then plays the typical Satanic accuser role by playing on each crew member's deepest fears and weaknesses, as well as Rose's. The Doctor understands what The Beast is doing and warns everyone, saying not to fall for what The Beast is saying, that The Beast is just trying to demoralize them by messing with their heads. The Beast retaliates by snapping the cable of the elevator The Doctor and Ida are about to use to ascend to the base, trapping the two underground.

Meanwhile, Captain Zach gets surrounded by the possessed Ood, so Rose and the remaining crew members decide to sneak into Ood habitation to turn off the telepathic field the Ood use to function, in hopes of stopping them. Unfortunately, they are forced to get there by climbing through ventilation shafts meant for robots:

What's more, the oxygen on the base is running out. Captain Zach can provide them with breathable air, but only intermittently. And to make matters worse, the possessed Ood catch on to the crew's plan and enter the shaft in pursuit:

The group manages to evade them eventually, though at the cost of Jefferson's life, since he chooses to stay and hold off the Ood at one junction of the shaft, and Captain Zach can't provide oxygen to both him and the others who are moving on. They make it to Ood habitation and turn off the telepathic network.

The Doctor and Ida, meanwhile, decide to investigate the pit, using the snapped elevator cable, while talking about The Beast's claim to be the Devil. The Doctor concludes that maybe the Devil is just an idea, manifested in different ways across the universe. He and Ida soon realize the cable doesn't go down quite far enough. The Doctor says he would rather explore what's down there than sit around waiting to die, so he decides he will detach the cable from himself and free fall the rest of the way, despite Ida's protests. Just as he does this, though, the rest of the crew restores their communication ties with Ida, and she tells them of The Doctor's decision. Rose is devastated.

Zach tells Ida that they cannot get to her, meaning they must leave her behind, a fact she accepts. The crew prepares to escape the planet. Rose begs to be left behind as well, but Zach refuses, saying he's lost too many people already, ultimately knocking Rose out to get her to come with them. They make their way to the escape rocket, unaware that the Ood are starting to reawaken.

Meanwhile, The Doctor wakes up on a large, rocky ledge overlooking a vast chasm, his helmet cracked open:

He is, quite naturally, shocked he is even alive, and moreover, that he can breathe. (Time Lords, like humans, breathe oxygen). He deduces that there must be an air pocket in the pit, and that said pocket broke his fall. 

We then switch back to the crew, who have reached the rocket. Just as the rocket is about to launch, Rose wakes up and asks to be taken back, even stealing Captain Zach's gun and threatening him with it, but he tells her it's too late to go back. Toby seems almost eerily amused that they are escaping the planet, and Rose begins to wonder herself how they were able to get off - considering all the ways The Beast could've killed them, that he would simply let them go seems too easy.

The Doctor finds cave drawings depicting The Beast and a battle to defeat and imprision it in the cave in which he now is:

He finds two jars on pedestals on the edge of the ledge that match jars in the cave drawings, and touches them. They glow, illuminating the dark cave. He then finds himself face to face with a monstrous, chained creature, which looks a lot like the Balrog from Lord of the Rings:

The Beast, however, seems like just a dumb animal, rather than the intelligent, articulate being The Doctor communicated with earlier, and The Doctor figures out the creature in front of him is just The Beast's physical body - his mind is elsewhere. He also determines that the planet was a very intentional prison: the planet would fall into the black hole if The Beast ever tried to free itself. Therefore, the breathable air in the cave is not courtesy of The Beast, but of those who imprisoned it, intended to discourage The Beast from trying to escape.

The Beast, The Doctor realizes, knew this all along, which explains his mind having escaped. He also realizes if the gravity well balancing the planet were broken, the rocket Rose and company are on might be drawn into the black hole also. But, since he believes The Beast's mind has used the rocket to escape, he takes the risk, believing Rose will come through and save the day. He breaks the jars, collapsing the gravity well and causing the Beast's body to convulse:

Back in the rocket, The Beast's mind fully possesses Toby again. Rose, realizing the danger, grabs Zach's gun and points it at him:

Then, with a "Go to hell" line for good measure, she shoots out the rocket's front windshield before unbuckling the possessed Toby, sending him flying out into space toward the black hole:

But now another problem presents itself: both the rocket and the planet are getting pulled into the black hole too. The Ood, now free of the Beast's control, cower anxiously, while Ida collapses, having used the last of her oxygen.

The Doctor, meanwhile, is trying to escape The Beast's cave, which is collapsing due to the black hole. To his surprise, he finds the TARDIS nestled among the crags!

Those on the rocket prepare for the inevitable, but then all of a sudden, things go still and they realize they are being pulled away from the black hole. The Doctor's voice then comes over the speakers, informing them that he and the TARDIS are towing them away from the black hole, and also that he rescued Ida but had no time to rescue the Ood. Rose, who thought he was dead, is overjoyed to hear his voice.

Once the rocket reaches open space again, The Doctor swaps Ida for Rose, and the two have an emotional reunion. 

Rose then asks him about who The Beast really was, and about The Beast's prediction about her (more on that below), but The Doctor says it's enough for him that they beat The Beast, and that the prediction is a lie. As the TARDIS is about to dematerialize, however, Ida asks who they are:
IDA: Hang on though, Doctor. You never really said. You two, who are you?
DOCTOR: Oh, the stuff of legend. 
The episode ends with the Sanctuary Base crew heading back to Earth and Zach recording the base's final report, noting that Toby and all the Ood died with honors. He lists their names for the report, his voice trailing off as he begins to list each and every Ood.

And that's that!

Now...I promised I would tell the story of why I dislike this episode. So here goes.

Technically, this episode is actually the first I ever saw. It was several years ago. I was home alone and waiting for some other show to come on. As we didn't have a DVR at the time, I had to stay downstairs so as not to miss the show I was waiting for. And I had a half hour to kill. So I decided to channel surf, and found Doctor Who in the guide under Sci-Fi Channel. (This goes to show you how long ago this was - not only was Doctor Who airing on SyFy in the U.S., rather than BBC America, but also SyFy was still going by its old name). I decided to watch it, since I had heard of it online somewhere. (Being a geek online at the time, it was kind of hard not to...as a result of this I've actually known of River Song for years, though all I knew about her was that she traveled with The Doctor and was apparently really popular among fans, seeing how much people were talking about her). I got scared out of my mind watching that episode. Plus I missed whatever show I was waiting to watch, because I didn't realize Doctor Who episodes were more than a half hour long. So after that, I decided I would never watch the show again. Obviously, that has changed. Not sure what changed...time, I guess. (Ironically, this being a time travel show). Basically, I just decided to give the show a second chance...and the rest is history.

Well that's it for this post...till next time!


NaBloPoMo Special: 
The Love of the Doctor and Rose Tyler 
Part Twenty-Three: I Believe in Her

Since the theme of NaBloPoMo this month is "Love and Sex" (probably because of Valentine's Day), I feel compelled to write something about love in my posts. Hence, since I am exploring Series 1 and 2 in this challenge, I am going to write a little special essay throughout the month about the growing love between the Doctor and Rose. Please note I am in no way an expert on relationships. 

There is so much Doctor/Rose stuff in this episode! They begin with Rose's reaction to finding out The Doctor free fell into the pit:

Also, of course, when the crew are about to depart in the rocket, Rose begs to be left behind, as she can't fathom leaving The Doctor behind, and has to be knocked out to get her off the planet.

Then there's the famous "I believe in her" moment from The Doctor:

And, of course, Rose is ecstatic when she hears The Doctor's voice over the speakers of the rocket:

Their reunion is pretty emotional and happy, yet it has a somber tinge with Rose's question about The Beast saying she will "die in battle" soon:
DOCTOR: I don't know. Never did decipher that writing. But that's good, Day I know everything? Might as well stop.
ROSE: What do you think it was, really?
DOCTOR: I think we beat it. That's good enough for me.
ROSE: It said I was going to die in battle.
DOCTOR: Then it lied. Right, onwards, upwards. Ida? See you again, maybe. 
I have reached the end of my catchup...but Series 2 doesn't end here. How will The Doctor and Rose's relationship continue to grow as we hurtle toward the finale? Next post I will post the remainder of this "essay series" (if it can even be called that...it's certainly not the most coherent essays I've ever written) to tie things up.


Now that the NaBloPoMo catchup is done, I will post the aforesaid "The Love of The Doctor and Rose Tyler" post and the post for the Series 7 special "P.S." I also intend to cover the Series 2 TARDISodes (if I can find them) and the interactive episode "Attack of the Graske," if I can figure out a way to film my computer screen.

Pictures from Sonic Biro. Quotes from The Doctor Who Transcripts.

NaBloPoMo (catchup): Series 2, Episode 8: "The Impossible Planet"

Welcome to yet another NaBloPoMo catchup post...almost there. Almost done.

Next up is Series 2, Episode 8 - and part one of a 2-parter with episode 9, "The Satan Pit" - "The Impossible Planet."

This episode is very intense, though not quite as intense as the next episode. Not the best episode to watch at night.

Basically, in this episode, The Doctor and Rose find themselves on a "Sanctuary Base" somewhere in deep space in the 42nd century. (There are a lot of 42s in this episode). As if it wasn't bad enough that the TARDIS didn't want to land, they are greeted by this haunting message:

(It says "Welcome to Hell" by the way...Rose's head is blocking one of the words)

Plus, there is this strange writing, resembling Ancient Chinese or maybe Arabic, that is apparently so ancient even the TARDIS can't translate it:

The two meet up with the base's crew, from whom they learn the base is on a planet orbiting a black hole - something which should be scientifically impossible. The Doctor is impressed by their daring, though:
TOBY: There was some form of civilisation. They buried something. Now it's reaching out, calling us in.
DOCTOR: And you came.
IDA: Well, how could we not?
DOCTOR: So, when it comes right down to it, why did you come here? Why did you do that? Why? I'll tell you why. Because it was there. Brilliant. Excuse me, er, Zach, wasn't it?
ZACH: That's me.
DOCTOR: Just stand there, because I'm going to hug you. Is that all right?
ZACH: I suppose so.
DOCTOR: Here we go. Come on, then.
(The Doctor hugs Zach.)
DOCTOR: Oh, human beings. You are amazing! Ha!
We also meet the base's other inhabitants, the Ood - an alien race inclined to servitude by their very nature (kind of like the house elves in Harry Potter), who are connected by a sort of hive mind, communicate using little globules, and look like they belong in the Mos Eisley cantina or something:

But all is not well on the base. The crew's work to drill down into the planet to investigate the power source of its gravity well has awakened something no one on the base understands. Plus, stuff on the planet is becoming unstable, causing parts of the base to periodically break off and fall into a massive chasm. And exactly that happens - and that isn't good for The Doctor and Rose. Cause one of the parts that gets lost is exactly where they parked the TARDIS. Which means...they are now stranded. Indefinitely. Oops.

The Doctor and Rose try to process this possibility:

The Doctor is devastated at losing his precious ship, and is equally worried about Rose being trapped with him, since he had apparently promised Jackie he would always bring Rose home. Rose is a little more optimistic, saying they can just wait till the crew leaves the planet (which we have learned they are going to do soon) and get a ride back to Earth with them and go settle somewhere, even suggesting she and The Doctor could get a place together (which makes The Doctor awkward, although we all know how much he would love that). 

Meanwhile, whatever it is the crew awakened with their drilling is on the prowl - and its target is Toby, the crew's archeaology specialist:
VOICE [OC]: Toby. Don't turn around.
TOBY: Dan? That's not Dan.
VOICE [OC]: Don't look at me.
TOBY: Who are you?
VOICE [OC]: I have so many names.
TOBY: If if I could
VOICE [OC]: If you look at me, you will die.
TOBY: But who are you?
VOICE [OC]: I'm behind you, Toby. I'm right behind you. Don't look. Don't look at me. One look and you will die. I'm reaching out, Toby. I'm so close. Don't turn around. Oh, I can touch you.
The evil entity, who we gradually learn is called The Beast, possesses Toby, and he goes on a rampage, killing fellow crew member Scooti:

It is determined soon after that someone needs to check on the drilling. Ida from the crew is chosen for this, and The Doctor volunteers to accompany her, despite Rose's protests. She kisses him before he goes down. Toby, now unpossessed, realizes he can better understand the mysterious writing he had been studying (the same writing The Doctor and Rose had found when they first arrived) as a result of his possession and begins trying to decode it. Everyone is now suspicious of him, though, because of what he did to Scooti under The Beast's influence, and tries to keep an eye on him.

The Ood, meanwhile, are acting funny too, mystifying their "caretaker," Danny. They occasionally make cryptic remarks to Rose about The Beast too, which they subsequently don't remember saying.

The Doctor and Ida reach the bottom of the cave created by the drilling and discover a stone, seemingly the cover for something, with strange markings on it:

They decide to investigate it, but just as they do so, The Beast jumps into action, repossessing Toby while simultaneously possessing all the Ood that are on board.

The Beast then properly introduces himself, saying they will all die, while the Ood proclaim they are the Beast's Legion:

And...the episode ends. To be continued. 

Like I said, this episode is intense. And not one of my faves personally, though I like it better than part 2 of this 2-parter, which I have negative memories attached to (more on that in the next post). 

This episode and the next features a voice long-time Doctor Who fans may recognize - The Beast is voiced by Gabriel Woolf, famous for playing Sutekh in the popular Fourth Doctor episode "Pyramids of Mars." I watched this episode long before I saw "Pyramids of Mars," so I didn't catch the connection myself. When I did finally watch "Pyramids of Mars" as part of the Fourth Doctor Doctors Revisited special, I tried to pay attention to Sutekh's voice to see if it sounded the same. It does sort of sound similar, but it's hard to tell. 31 years of time ("Pyramids of Mars" aired in 1975) can do a lot to the voice. (Not to mention a lot has happened in sound technology since 1975). Watch this clip and decide for yourself:

The idea of an ancient power using a human to escape his confinement (which we learn at the end of this episode is The Beast's goal) also hearkens back to "Pyramids of Mars," as this was also Sutekh's goal. 

The episode does play on the sort of "demonic possession" tropes you might expect - someone awakens a demonic power by accident, hears strange voices, then is possessed and does horrible things. The Doctor's reference to some equation involving three sixes also references the Biblical "number of The Beast," 666. But I don't buy the idea that you are led in this episode to believe the Ood are the bad guys. I mean, yeah, it's usually the token aliens in the episode - which the Ood are in this case - that are the bad guys of the episode, but if that's what they're trying to do in this episode, they're not fooling me. Clearly, The Beast is much more sinister; heck, even the Ood make cryptic warnings about him, as if they can sense something the rest of the crew can't (which is highly probable, given their reliance on low-level telepathic energy to communicate with others of their race; technically The Beast takes advantage of this telepathic connection to possess all of them simultaneously anyway...also we know from later episodes, like "Planet of the Ood," that the Ood are known to make cryptic prophecies, and that they're usually right - they were right about The Doctor's song "ending soon" anyway). 

Next post, we go to part 2 of this 2-parter, and an episode I really don't like, "The Satan Pit." Till next time!


NaBloPoMo Special: 
The Love of the Doctor and Rose Tyler 
Part Twenty-Two: "The Mysterious Couple"

Since the theme of NaBloPoMo this month is "Love and Sex" (probably because of Valentine's Day), I feel compelled to write something about love in my posts. Hence, since I am exploring Series 1 and 2 in this challenge, I am going to write a little special essay throughout the month about the growing love between the Doctor and Rose. Please note I am in no way an expert on relationships.

The Doctor and Rose definitely bond in this episode, especially when they are faced with the possibility of being stranded on the titular "impossible" planet:
ROSE: I've seen films and things, yeah. They say black holes are like gateways to another universe.
COMPUTER: Close door 18.
DOCTOR: Not that one. It just eats.
ROSE: Long way from home.
DOCTOR: Go that way, turn right, keep going for er, about, er, five hundred years, and you'll reach the Earth.
(Rose turns her phone on.)
ROSE: No signal. That's the first time we've gone out of range. Mind you, even if I could. What would I tell her? Can you build another Tardis?
DOCTOR: They were grown, not built. And with my own planet gone, we're kind of stuck.
ROSE: Well, it could be worse. This lot said they'd give us a lift.
DOCTOR: And then what?
ROSE: I don't know. Find a planet, get a job, live a life, same as the rest of the universe.
DOCTOR: I'd have to settle down. Get a house or something. A proper house with, with doors and things. Carpets. Me, living in a house. Now that, that is terrifying.
ROSE: You'd have to get a mortgage.
ROSE: Oh, yes.
DOCTOR: I'm dying. That's it. I'm dying. It is all over.
ROSE: What about me? I'd have to get one, too. I don't know, could be the same one. We could both, I don't know, share. Or not, you know. Whatever. I don't know. We'll sort something out
DOCTOR: Anyway.
ROSE: We'll see.
DOCTOR: I promised Jackie I'd always take you back home.
ROSE: Everyone leaves home in the end.
DOCTOR: Not to end up stuck here.
ROSE: Yeah, but stuck with you, that's not so bad.
ROSE: Yes.
It's worth noting that Rose is actually comfortable with the idea of moving in with The Doctor (in the Earth sense, that is; technically she is already "living with him" by virtue of living full-time in the TARDIS except for occasional visits home). This shows that she at least views their relationship as quite serious, since not even Mickey got that honor from her (and they were supposedly in quite the steady relationship). Rose would not suggest that sort of thing lightly. By this point, I'd say it's become clear that her primary object of affection has always been The Doctor, despite her pretense of a continuing relationship with Mickey (mostly in Series 1) and her seeming infatuation with Jack Harkness (then again, even I would admit he was a lot more romantic with her than The Doctor was being at that point...plus Captain Jack just has that effect on most people, if you know what I mean).

Rose is also very concerned about The Doctor going down in the drill shaft with Ida - not because Ida is any sort of romantic rival or anything, but simply due to the inherent dangers in going down there. Before he goes down, she gives him a kiss in front of everyone:

And once he goes down, she ends up pretty much in charge of the radio which is their one communication link to The Doctor and Ida, and takes great advantage of it.

Others note The Doctor and Rose's closeness too; Danny calls them "the mysterious couple."

But with the dangers of the Pit looming in the near future...will The Doctor and Rose's love survive? We'll see.

Pictures from Sonic Biro. Quotes from The Doctor Who Transcripts.


Plans for November

So, as I did last year, I am going to be devoting the month of November to participate in the great and wild ride that is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I'm actually going to work on my Doctor Who fanfic-in-progress, "The Companion's Diary of Alyson 'Alys' Reed," one of the "other projects" you may have seen mentioned on the TARDIS Thoughts Twitter, even though I have already started writing it, which would break the NaNoWriMo rule that you must start your "novel" from scratch. Eh well, I have already won by following the rules, and last year I said I would try at least once to win as a rebel (i.e., breaking the rules), so here's my chance. Also, it's just the kick in the pants I need to get this darn thing finished.

Knowing I will be quite busy working on that, I have made a plan in regards to posting on this blog during November. Cause with the 50th Anniversary Special next month and the mad dash I must now make in order to finish New Who by then, I obviously don't want to take a break for the month like I did last year.

So here is what I am going to do: I will write posts ahead of time that I will then schedule to publish each day next month. There will be a slight deviation from this on the 23rd when the Anniversary Special airs, obviously. I will attempt to get a post up on the special the same day it airs (it's being simulcast worldwide, so spoiler risk on this special will be rather low), if not by the day after.

I will probably focus my posts primarily on New Who, which I am trying to finish, but I may do some Classic Who posts in there too. Particularly in wake of the rather exciting recent discovery/release of the Patrick Troughton serials "The Enemy of the World" and "The Web of Fear." (I, like Matt Smith, enjoy Patrick Troughton). I will definitely try to do one post per day, but I might do more than one a day if I decide it's worth it.

Anyway, just wanted to give you a heads-up. Cheerio!


TARDIS Thoughts Turns One!

One year ago today, I began TARDIS Thoughts and posted its first post.

I can't believe it's been a whole year!!

(Not Doctor Who-related, I know, but it works).

To be honest, I hoped to have posted much more often than I have been doing, but I guess that sort of discipline takes practice. Plus, I didn't meet my goal to be caught up by today, but that's my fault. Eh well, maybe by tomorrow I'll be caught up.

Hopefully, by this time next year, I will have covered all of New Who up through Series 7 and covered a fair amount of Classic Who as well. Fingers crossed!

Speaking of Classic Who, my copy of the Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited 5-8 DVD arrived today. So soon I will likely be able to write about the episodes on that set ("Earthshock," "Vengeance on Varos," "Remembrance of the Daleks," and Doctor Who: The Movie).

Anyway, happy first birthday, TARDIS Thoughts! Here's to many more!

NaBloPoMo (catchup): Series 2, Episode 7 - "The Idiot's Lantern"


Welcome to yet another post of NaBloPoMo catch up...almost done. Just the "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit" 2-parter after this, and I'll be caught up. Whew. Anyway, this post is about Series 2, Episode 7, "The Idiot's Lantern." 

This is one of those middle-of-the-season episodes that lets us take a breather between more intense episodes. Typically there are at least two such episodes in a Doctor Who season - one toward the middle and one near the end, right before the finale. (It depends on the season though). The episode is not without its conflict and action, of course, but it's much lighter than the Cybermen 2-parter that precedes it or the "Impossible Planet" 2-parter that follows it.

So the story takes place in 1953. First we look in on a family about to watch TV. Strange noises come from upstairs, worrying the son of the house, but his father tells him to ignore it. Elsewhere a frustrated shopkeeper, Mr. Magpie (his name, and the implied connotation of that word, was not lost on me) is checking his books and realizes he's in the red trying to sell his electronics, especially TVs. Some TV show with a very proper woman addressing the audience is playing on one of the TVs. Suddenly, some sort of strange lightning strikes, and the woman starts speaking directly to Magpie. He is, naturally, alarmed, but when she agrees to help him if he helps her, he gladly agrees. His face then starts getting sucked into the TV screen and...cue the opening credits.

When we return, the TARDIS has landed on a city road. Rose steps out in a very 1950's outfit, complete with a poodle skirt (rose-colored even!) and a '50's updo. It's hands down my favorite of Rose's outfits:

The Doctor is not so period-appropriate; he just has his suit on (minus the trenchcoat) as usual. She asks where they're going, and we learn they're going to some TV studio to hear Elvis play. Or at least that's the plan. He pops back into the TARDIS and emerges with a very nice scooter:

The two then address each other in stereotypical '50's fashion, complete with not-half-bad American accents:
DOCTOR: You going my way, doll?
ROSE: Is there any other way to go, daddy-o? Straight from the fridge, man.
But it becomes increasingly obvious that they are NOT in New York, as they planned, but London. So right decade, wrong city. Eh well, that's the TARDIS for you.

Rose comments on the large amount of TV antennas on the local rooftops, which she says doesn't seem right for the period. She and The Doctor question some people unloading TVs, and learn they have arrived on the eve of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation. Mr. Magpie, it seems, is selling TVs for £5 (an extremely low price) to people so they can watch the momentous event.

Just then, they see someone get pulled out of a nearby house with a blanket over his or her head. Unable to stop the abduction, they decide to question the Connellys, a nearby family, posing (via the psychic paper) as inspectors from the government. Mr. Connelly seems suspicious of them, though, and acts antagonistic towards them throughout the whole scene. The Doctor tries to get info out of the son Tommy while Rose throws her weight around telling Mr. Connelly he has his Union Jack streamers hung the wrong way. Suddenly, noises are heard from upstairs. Mr. Connelly tries to dismiss the noises, but The Doctor sees through the ruse, and Connelly begrudgingly leads them upstairs. He opens a bedroom, where sits a woman we learn is the grandmother of the family. Like the person we saw abducted earlier, she has a blanket over her head. They pull the blanket off, only to see she has no face!

Just after this, the police arrive to take Gran Connelly away, to the protests of everybody. The Doctor and Rose split up, The Doctor pursuing the police on the scooter while Rose goes on foot to investigate Magpie.

The Doctor traces the police to some sort of warehouse. The door is locked, but we all know that's no problem for our intrepid Time Lord. :) A few Soniced doors later, he comes across a sort of cell or cage, in which stand a large number of faceless people. But before he can do anything, the police find him.

Rose, meanwhile, is at Magpie's shop. Magpie tells her to leave, as he's closed, and to come back tomorrow. She points out that he'll be closed tomorrow because of the coronation. (The days such events occur are usually declared public holidays in the UK, meaning people don't have to go to work; the day of Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding in 2011, for example, was declared a public holiday). She then begins to question him about the TVs and the faceless people, making him agitated. The mysterious lady on the TV pops up again, asking Magpie to "feed" her. Rose, naturally, finds this suspicious and confronts the woman. This does no good, however, and we soon see the lady go on the attack once more.

The Doctor is undergoing questioning by the police inspector but manages to convince them he's not suspicious and probes them for information on the faceless persons case. The Police Inspector says they just wanted to get the faceless people out of the way, to avoid controversy what with the coronation going on, and adds that Torchwood is going to have their necks if anything happens in public during the coronation (this being Series 2, of course there has to be a Torchwood reference in the episode). Just about then, another police officer brings in another covered figure. We can't see the face, but a certain familiar pink skirt gives it away:

It's Rose. The police lift the blanket, and sure enough, her face has been taken as well. The Inspector asks where she was found, and the other officer says they just found her lying in the street.

The Doctor is now VERY furious:
DOCTOR: They did what?
BISHOP: I'm sorry?
DOCTOR: They left her where?
BISHOP: Just in the street.
DOCTOR: In the street. They left her in the street. They took her face and just chucked her out and left her in the street. And as a result, that makes things simple. Very, very simple. Do you know why?
DOCTOR: Because now, Detective Inspector Bishop, there is no power on this Earth that can stop me. Come on!
Motivated by his righteous anger, The Doctor heads out with the Inspector to confront Magpie, somehow also adding Tommy Connelly to the party along the way. They reach the store and question him, but he blames it on the woman. The woman reveals herself as a being called The Wire, who escaped the destruction of its people by turning itself into a being of pure electrical energy. But it needs nourishment to live (don't we all?), and apparently it feeds off of faces. The Wire's plan, it seems, is to feed off the faces of the people watching the coronation, via the cheap TVs Magpie was selling. 

The Doctor, obviously, is not about to let that happen, and says so. The Wire gets angry and attacks him, Tommy, and the Inspector, trying to take their faces, but the Doctor stops her with his Sonic. 

The Wire then transfers herself to a portable TV and demands Magpie go forward with the next part of the plan, which involves heading for the TV transmitter at Alexandra Palace, which will be broadcasting the coronation. The Doctor and Tommy team up to stop him (the Inspector got his face stolen by the Wire). They cobble together a device using parts from the TARDIS and from Magpie's shop before pursuing Magpie to the transmitter. Some guards try to stop them, but the Doctor just flashes the psychic paper as they run past, and the guards let him through. This moment shows a rare case of the Doctor not even knowing what the psychic paper is showing:
GUARD: Wait, wait, wait! Where do you think
(The Doctor shows him the psychic paper.)
OFFICIAL: Oh! I'm very sorry, sir. Shouldn't you be at the Coronation?
DOCTOR: They're saving me a seat.
TOMMY: Who did he think you were?
DOCTOR: King of Belgium, apparently.
The Doctor sees Magpie climbing up the transmitter antenna to connect his portable TV, containing The Wire, to the antenna. He initially succeeds, and The Wire begins gleefully stealing faces from the people watching the coronation:

But The Doctor has other plans. He confronts The Wire with his own contraption, and connects it to the transmitter, dragging The Wire into it instead of the TV. Those whose faces The Wire had stolen get their faces back, and everyone watches the newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth II leave Westminster Abbey. (We don't actually see footage of her being crowned; in the commentary we learn that, while they were allowed to use original TV footage of the coronation for this episode - meaning that all the footage we do see is actually real-life footage - they were not permitted to use footage of her actually being crowned).

The Doctor rejoins Tommy (who stayed downstairs to operate the main part of the Doctor's machine) and shows Tommy what he trapped The Wire on - a VHS tape. Essentially he's created a primitive VCR about thirty years early.

The Doctor then reunites with Rose, and they walk down Florizel Street, where a street party is taking place in honor of the coronation. (It seems that street parties are common in the UK for events like this). She asks him what he's going to do with The Wire, and he spouts some technobabble solution, which ultimately just means he'll tape over it. They are later joined by Tommy, to whom The Doctor gives the scooter he's been riding throughout the episode. Tommy sees his father leaving the house, clearly thrown out by his mother, and says "Good riddance," as if he had been expecting it. Ultimately, though, with Rose's encouragement, he goes and joins his dad, and they walk off together. Rose and The Doctor stand and watch, sharing a toast of orange squash.

Well...that's it for this episode. Next up, an adventure in deep space with a planet orbiting a black hole, and the introduction of the mysterious Ood -- "The Impossible Planet."


NaBloPoMo Special: 
The Love of the Doctor and Rose Tyler 
Part Twenty-One: No Power on This Earth That Can Stop Me

Since the theme of NaBloPoMo this month is "Love and Sex" (probably because of Valentine's Day), I feel compelled to write something about love in my posts. Hence, since I am exploring Series 1 and 2 in this challenge, I am going to write a little special essay throughout the month about the growing love between the Doctor and Rose. Please note I am in no way an expert on relationships. 

There is a lot of Doctor/Rose love in this episode. The two act like a happy couple throughout the episode, and they clearly play well off of each other.

The real evidence of their love in this episode, though, comes when Rose gets her face stolen by The Wire. The mere thought of her getting her face stolen and getting thrown out into the street is enough to get The Doctor really, really angry, to the point that he tells the Police Inspector that "now...there is no power on this Earth that can stop me." Also, he is overjoyed to reunite with Rose once it's all over:

Clearly, their relationship is moving toward something serious! How will it continue to develop? We shall see!

Pictures from Sonic Biro. Quotes from The Doctor Who Transcripts.


Plans for the near future

So I realize the posting of analyses has been a little slow. I am trying to finish up Series 2 so I can move on to Series 3 and beyond.

With just under two months until the anniversary - the date by which I wanted to be caught up with New Who - I am beginning to think I should just focus on watching the episodes and get around to the analyses later. Because a main reason why I'm not watching episodes is because I know as soon as I watch an episode, I will feel compelled to post about it shortly thereafter, and the posts take quite a bit of work, work I don't always feel like doing some days. Plus, it was tough to do both for Countdown to Christmas and for NaBloPoMo. I am not used to blogging every day. And when I started this, I didn't realize it was going to take almost 2 hours to write each post. Not to say the amount of time spent on it isn't worth it. It is. You have to spend time on something if you want it to be thorough. But it is a LOT of time, and lately I've been tired a lot because of work and not felt like doing much of anything other than play with my phone and watch TV.

However, I just realized the blog's 1-year anniversary is coming up very shortly. I can hardly believe the blog has been around that long. And with that milestone, I really want to ramp stuff up and get this blog on a good posting discipline, etc.

So I think this is what I will do: I will try to get caught up with Series 2 and with a few other New Who posts I have in draft by October 1, the site's 1-year anniversary. For Series 2, I just have the posts on "The Idiot's Lantern," "The Impossible Planet," and "The Satan Pit" left to do. Other than that, for New Who I just have the post for the Series 7 special "P.S." to write, and a few posts for the Series 3 eps I have watched recently. I may hold off on the Series 3 episode analyses for a bit yet, till I'm caught up with other stuff.

I also have posts in draft for the Classic Who episodes I have seen; however, I think I am going to hold off on those until I am caught up with New Who, as I will have time between the 50th Anniversary Special (which we now know will be called "The Day of the Doctor") and the Christmas Special to catch up on those, and definitely time between the Christmas Special and Series 8, since the latest news says not to expect Series 8 till the autumn of 2014.

I am also going to ramp up promoting the site; I will finish the Google+ page, make a Facebook page, and become more active on the Twitter again. And I will make sure all three of these are properly connected here. I have also just conducted a "affiliation request" contact blitz tonight with a number of sites and blogs; as of yet Doctor Who Online is the only one who has responded, and while they refused to affiliate, they are offering me the chance to advertise via a banner on their homepage, which I may do instead.

I just ordered the Complete Seventh Series DVD set; I will do analyses of the mini-sodes included on that set ("Rain Gods," "Clarence and the Whispermen," "Clara and the TARDIS," and "The Inforarium") as soon as possible after I receive it (which should be next Monday). Just took a peek at them on the TARDIS Data Core to find out about them, they look good. I also went ahead and pre-ordered the DVD for the 50th Anniversary Special, which is currently available to pre-order pretty much everywhere, which actually surprised me when I first heard of it. If that DVD comes with any mini-sodes, I will analyze those too. We don't know as of yet what features it will have.

At any rate, I am going to focus on watching episodes and meeting my catchup goal for the moment, and not post analyses of New Who eps for a while once I get caught up with the posts I mentioned before. After all, I am watching the older New Who episodes via Netflix, so I can always go back and rewatch them if I need to for the analyses. Or via DVD, since after watching each season I have been buying the season sets. So never fear, I haven't given up. I just need to lighten the load a little, that's all.

(Next up for me, btw, is "Daleks in Manhattan." Which is set in the 1930's, which has been one of my favorite eras of history since I was a kid...hooray!)

Have a great day...Fantastic, Allons-y, Geronimo, and all that timey-wimey stuff.


NaBloPoMo (catchup): Series 2, Episode 6, "The Age of Steel"

Continuing the NaBloPoMo catchup...the second part of the 2-part story begun in "Rise of the Cybermen" -- Series 2, Episode 6, "The Age of Steel."

So last episode, we left The Doctor, Rose, Mickey, the parallel Pete Tyler, and the resistance group The Preachers surrounded by Cybermen seeking to subject them to "maximum deletion." The episode recaps this and the other events of "Rise of the Cybermen" before heading into the opening credits.

After the opening credits, we return to The Doctor and company, who are still surrounded by Cybermen. The Doctor scares off the Cybermen with blasts of energy from the currently recharging TARDIS crystal, which apparently can also be used as an impromptu weapon. The group decides to go figure out what is really going on. Pete is hesitant, knowing Jackie is still in the house, but The Doctor persuades him to come along. The group load into The Preachers' van, where we learn the parallel Pete Tyler is actually a double agent and has been sharing information with The Preachers via Mrs. Moore. Pete is disappointed, though, when he realizes the group he was sharing info with is just a rag-tag group of revolutionaries; apparently, he was expecting something much more professional.

Lumic makes his next move: luring victims for conversion to him via the EarPods. In the process, he also lures away Jackie Tyler, who had been trying to hide from the Cybermen in the cellar. She gets a glazed expression and starts walking off.

The Doctor, Rose, Mickey, Pete Tyler, and the Preachers make their way through the city, losing Ricky in the process when he is shot down by Cybermen while trying to climb a fence. They eventually reach a hill overlooking the factory where Lumic is making the Cybermen. (If the exterior looks familiar, it's because it's Battersea Power Station; they couldn't film inside the station, however, so the interior scenes in the factory were filmed in a brewery instead). They make plans for who will do what. The Doctor and Mrs. Moore will try to infiltrate the factory via a secret tunnel, Mickey and Jake will try to disarm the computers on Lumic's zeppelin (an assignment Mickey doesn't seem to like). Pete and Rose will investigate the main complex by posing as candidates for conversion. Jake provides the two with dummy EarPods for this purpose, and The Doctor warns them to show no emotion, as that will give them away as intruders. The group then splits up.

Pete and Rose successfully make it in the factory, but are given away when confronted by a Cyberman who recognizes Pete - it's Jackie! Or rather it was...she's been converted. Pete becomes distraught at having lost his wife, which alerts some other Cybermen to their intruder status, and they grab the two.

The Doctor and Mrs. Moore creep down a dark, narrow tunnel filled with inactive Cybermen. Not having any danger to fear for the moment, they get acquainted. But soon, Lumic realizes they are there and activates the Cybermen. The two run out and take down the Cybermen chasing them. The Doctor opens the chest of one fallen Cyberman, showing Mrs. Moore the emotional inhibitor chip the Cybermen put in their converted human victims. He deactivates it, and the human within the suit briefly returns, confessing that she was young and about to be married, before passing away. But before The Doctor and Mrs. Moore can mourn, another Cyberman shows up, electrocuting Mrs. Moore. The Doctor is shocked, but knows he must move on; he takes the inhibitor chip with him and departs to find Lumic.

Mickey and Jake reach Lumic's zeppelin. After taking out the guards, they make their way in and up to the control room. There they see an armed Cyberman and panic, only to realize it's just a test dummy (very similar to the one in "The Tomb of the Cybermen"). They then try the computers, trying to figure out how to cripple Lumic's operation, without much success.

The Doctor ends up getting captured and taken to Lumic. Rose and Pete are already there. Lumic reveals himself to them and is shortly after crowned Cyber Leader by his loyal army. The Doctor realizes Lumic is dying and intends to use the cyber conversion process to extend his life. The typical "Doctor speech" follows, in which Ten praises Lumic's genius while silmultaneously telling him what an idiot he is. In the meantime, Mickey has gotten a hold of Rose and gotten updated on the situation at hand (he and Jake are also watching the proceedings in Lumic's room via a security camera monitor). The Doctor continues to taunt Lumic, saying that if ever his humans-turned-Cybermen got their emotions back, it would be chaos. But the only way that'll happen, he says, is if someone figures out the deactivation code, adding that it's probably so simple "even an idiot could figure it out." This last phrase is for Mickey's benefit, since The Doctor knows Mickey is watching. (The Doctor's nickname for Mickey is "Mickey the idiot"). Mickey gets the hint and starts putting his hacking skills to work, finally figuring out the code and sending it via text message to Rose. Rose alerts The Doctor, and The Doctor takes her phone and plugs it into a console. This activates a mass deactivation of the emotional inhibitor chips, and, just as The Doctor predicted, it causes mass chaos -- we see Cybermen throughout the factory suddenly grab their heads and cry out in horror at what they've become. Lumic too, realizing what's going on, is pretty ticked off. An explosion begins in the factory (caused by what I forget). 

The Doctor, Rose, and Pete escape to the roof, where Mickey and Jake fly in the zeppelin to pick them up. The Cybermen try to pursue them up the rope ladder dangling off the zeppelin, but the quick-thinking Doctor hands Pete his Sonic, with which he cuts the ropes of the ladder below him, sending the Cyberman into the massive inferno of the factory.

We switch to a park near Big Ben, where the TARDIS is now located. The Doctor, Rose, and Mickey say a quick goodbye to Jake and Pete, as The Doctor must conserve enough power to get the TARDIS back into the Vortex. At this point, Mickey reveals that he is staying in the parallel world to take the place of his fallen double. He says he's realized Rose is a lot happier with The Doctor than with him, and wishes her well. Rose says they can always visit each other, but The Doctor negates this, saying they have to close the hole in space-time between our universe and this one. Therefore, if Mickey is going to stay behind, Rose will never see him again. They consider this and have a more permanent goodbye. Pete Tyler states his intention to travel the world, shutting down the other Cyberman factories worldwide. Rose and he have a moment, and he wonders aloud why she seems so familiar to him. But before Rose can tell him she's his daughter, he interrupts, saying he can't take this right now, and leaves. The Doctor then calls for Rose to hurry, and she runs back into the TARDIS. Mickey and Jake watch it dematerialize (Jake is particularly surprised to see it do so). The two then head back to the Preachers' van, and Jake asks Mickey if he can really handle it, taking Ricky's place. Mickey says he can, adding that "I once saved the world with a big yellow truck" (a reference to him helping Rose pry up the cover over the Heart of the TARDIS in "The Parting of the Ways"). 

And...that's the end of that.

This episode is more action-packed than its predecessor, which makes it a little more palatable. It also has some similarities to "The Tomb of the Cybermen," though I may just be saying that because I have seen that episode twice and listened to the audiobook of it. The Cyberman dummy is a clear homage to it, and the scene with Jake and Mickey is similar to the one with Haydon and Jamie in that episode.

Other than that, I'm afraid I don't have much to say about this episode. Sorry.

More next time, when we explore an episode I like much better, "The Idiot's Lantern."


NaBloPoMo Special: 
The Love of the Doctor and Rose Tyler 
Part Twenty: The End of a Love Triangle

Since the theme of NaBloPoMo this month is "Love and Sex" (probably because of Valentine's Day), I feel compelled to write something about love in my posts. Hence, since I am exploring Series 1 and 2 in this challenge, I am going to write a little special essay throughout the month about the growing love between the Doctor and Rose. Please note I am in no way an expert on relationships. 

There's not much to say about The Doctor and Rose's relationship in this episode. Not as much as the last episode anyway. 

This episode is significant, though, in that the Doctor/Rose/Mickey love triangle ends in it. Mickey officially breaks up with Rose, seeing that she is happier with The Doctor:

ROSE: What about me? What if I need you?
MICKEY: Yeah, but Rose, you don't. It's just you and him, isn't it. We had something a long time ago, but not anymore. 

MICKEY: Thanks. We've had a laugh though, haven't we? Seen it all, been there and back. Who would have thought, me and you off the old estate, flying through the stars.
ROSE: All those years just sitting there, imagining what we'd do one day. We never saw this, did we?
MICKEY: Go on, don't miss your flight. 

MICKEY: That's the Doctor in the Tardis with Rose Tyler. 
With Mickey out of the picture, how will The Doctor and Rose's love develop? Or will it? Stay tuned!

Quotes from The Doctor Who Transcripts.


NaBloPoMo (catchup): Series 2, Episode 5, "Rise of the Cybermen"

Next up in my NaBloPoMo catchup...an adventure involving alternate worlds and big steel robots! Welcome to Series 2, Episode 5, "Rise of the Cybermen," part of a 2-parter with Episode 6, "The Age of Steel."

To be honest, this isn't one of my favorite episodes. I don't like the Cybermen; they scare me. The commentary on this episode is good at least, featuring Noel Clarke (Mickey Smith), Andrew Hayden-Smith (Jake Simmonds), and Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler).

So the episode starts with a scientist named Dr. Kendrick revealing to his wheelchair-bound boss, John Lumic, that he has created a new form of life via a humanoid metal robot. But he advises Lumic that they will have to inform authorities in Geneva of the development. Lumic doesn't like that idea, though, and orders the robot to kill Kendrick, which it does, then orders his massive zeppelin to set sail for Great Britain.

The opening credits follow. We then head to the TARDIS, where The Doctor and Rose are laughing and talking about various adventures they've had, completely ignoring Mickey, who has his finger on some button that he has been apparently pushing for the last half hour. All the sudden, there is a huge jolt in the TARDIS, and The Doctor goes running to the console, only to discover they've somehow fallen out of the Time Vortex entirely and into the no-man's-land of the Void. Which is really bad because it means they're outside of our universe (Normal Space or N-Space, as it's called in Doctor Who parlance), from which the TARDIS draws energy. When they come to a stop, all the TARDIS lights go out and emergency gas masks (like the kind you see on airplanes) drop down from the ceiling. (It's worth noting there are six; assumedly one for each pilot the TARDIS is supposed to have). The Doctor is distraught, saying that the TARDIS is dead, that they crashed in the Void, and that they're basically doomed.

Or at least he thinks they are. Mickey opens the door and reveals that they are in...London.

They quickly realize it's a parallel London, with zeppelins flying about. (Fringe fans may find this notable, as the "Other Side"/parallel Earth in Fringe also features zeppelins as a major form of transportation). And then Rose sees a poster with a familiar face.

She realizes that, in this world, her father is still alive, and at least one of those harebrained schemes he was always dreaming up took off. The Doctor senses what she is thinking and warns her away from the poster, saying that the Pete Tyler there isn't her Pete Tyler, her father who died when she was a baby, but just another version of him, who might have his own Jackie and his own Rose, and that she can't see him ever.

To understand the significance of this moment (and the other "Rose and her father" stuff in this episode and the next), you really have to have seen "Father's Day" and understand how much Rose really misses her dad. As it happens, I had, so I got it.

The bulk of the episode involves trying to revive the TARDIS, which The Doctor is able to do by giving 10 years of his own life to a small crystal hidden under the console:

Most of the episode is also about the whole thing with Rose and her dad, and how she really wants to see him, even running off to find him against The Doctor's orders. After all, recharging the TARDIS is going to take 24 hours, so she figures she has time. Mickey decides he's going to take off too, maybe check on his grandmother who just might be alive in this universe. The Doctor is faced with the dilemma of who to run after, and unsurprisingly, he chooses Rose.

The Doctor eventually catches up with Rose, and they realize the fashion here is to wear Bluetooth-like "EarPods" through which information is downloaded directly to the brain. Rose gets the same transmission on her cell phone, which has connected to the parallel world's network. They discover the EarPods are made by Cybus Industries, which also owns Pete Tyler's drink company, Vitex. (We as the audience discover this through a meeting with Lumic, Pete, and the President of Britain, in which the President expresses disgust for what Lumic intends to do with his cybernetics). They find out that the President of Great Britain, among many other high officials, will be attending the parallel Jackie Tyler's birthday party that evening. Hoping to find out more about the EarPods, The Doctor decides to attend the party as well, with Rose in tow, since he knows how badly she wants to see her dad.

Mickey has, meanwhile, gone off on his own and found out his gran is alive (though he notes that the carpet on the stairs is worn - his universe's Gran died by tripping over the worn carpet and falling down the stairs). Shortly after, he is pulled into a strange van by two unknown individuals - including a blond-haired guy who we saw earlier spying on a group of Lumic's lackeys loading a bunch of homeless people into a big truck. The two people - Jake Simmonds and Mrs. Moore - seem to think Mickey is actually someone named Ricky, the leader of their resistance movement, The Preachers. 

The Doctor and Rose crash Jackie's party by pretending to be servants, much to Rose's chagrin (she was hoping they could have been somebody more fabulous). The Doctor protests that being on the staff is the best way to find out stuff. They observe the party, during which Rose sees the parallel versions of her parents for the first time (and later ends up speaking to them both, having better rapport with her dad than her mum, as usual). Sometime during this, Lumic crashes the party himself (having downloaded the details via Jackie's EarPods earlier) remotely and threatens those who doubt his work, including the President. The Doctor has, in the meantime, sneaked into a side room and used a conveniently-placed computer to find out exactly what Cybus Industries is up to - which is pretty shocking, judging by the look on his face (his expression is somewhat similar to Eleven's in "A Town Called Mercy" when he found the files in Kahler-Jex's spaceship about Jex's work). 

During all this, Jake and Mrs. Moore take Mickey back to Preachers HQ, where they run into...the real Ricky!

Apparently, a case of mistaken identity has taken place, and Ricky is Mickey's parallel world double. He's none too happy to see Mickey either, and questions him (which apparently requires him to be tied down and stripped down to his boxers, not sure why). This scene in itself is interesting, as both Mickey and Ricky are played by Noel Clarke. (Noel reveals in the commentary that the two sides of the scene - Mickey's and Ricky's - were filmed separately for the most part, except for certain shots where he had to switch between the two characters in real time). 

The Doctor rushes back to the party, where Lumic is launching his attack. Off in the distance, shrouded in mist, is a line of marching soldiers. They come into focus, revealing...the Cybermen.

The Doctor is, quite naturally, horrified - after all, he has quite a history with the Cybermen. (Notably, this episode aired on the 40th anniversary of the airing of "The Tenth Planet," the Doctor Who episode in which the Cybermen first premiered). The Cybermen, meanwhile, crash through the windows of the Tyler manor and start attacking people, in particular killing the President as an example. The Doctor and Rose escape the mayhem, only to be joined by Pete Tyler, and later Mickey and the Preachers, who are themselves raiding the party. The Cybermen surround them, and The Doctor attempts to surrender, seeing no other viable option at the moment. The Cybermen say they are incompatible for the conversion process and will instead be subjected to "maximum deletion." They prepare to do this...

...and the episode ends. To Be Continued. 

Like I said, not my favorite episode, but definitely has a better commentary than "The Age of Steel" (which features the director Graeme Harper, the actor who played the Cyber Leader [whose name I forgot], and voice of the Cybermen Nicholas Briggs, and is really boring, especially if you aren't into the Cybermen).

The episode does have some great "Rose and her father" stuff though, and Mickey is pretty good in this episode. Camille Coduri does a good job as the parallel Jackie, a role she says in the commentary that she liked playing.

Part of what I'm not terribly keen on is that the story doesn't seem THAT original. It has elements of the typical "parallel world" formula - meeting parallel versions of oneself or one's family, someone in power that makes the parallel world oppressive, a resistance movement looking to topple that powerful person. These elements also appear in Fringe (in which the concept of parallel worlds plays a HUGE part), among other stories. It doesn't seem quite right for Doctor Who somehow.

Now Doctor Who has dealt with parallel worlds before, in the Third Doctor episode "Inferno" and in the "E-Space Trilogy" in Season 17, Tom Baker's second-to-last season (and probably in various novels and audios too; the Gallifrey audio drama series suggests the possibility of 8 parallel Gallifreys). Having not seen "Inferno" or the "E-Space Trilogy" yet, I can't really compare them to this episode. But from what I've heard of the E-Space Trilogy, they're basically just regular old adventures that happen to take place in E-Space, with the connecting thread of The Doctor, Romana II, and K-9 trying to find a way out of E-Space. (One of them, "State of Decay," gives us great background on those age-old enemies of the Time Lords, the Great Vampires, and - bonus! - introduces Adric to the show). "Inferno" is more of an alternate history sort of story, set on a parallel Earth that happens to be fascist and militaristic. I almost wish this episode had been more like that, less formulaic, but I guess it couldn't, what with the setup of Lumic's plans for artificial life and the apparent "death" of the TARDIS making things much more urgent.

Eh well. More next time, with the second part of this story, "The Age of Steel."


NaBloPoMo Special: 
The Love of the Doctor and Rose Tyler 
Part Nineteen: Love in a Parallel World

Since the theme of NaBloPoMo this month is "Love and Sex" (probably because of Valentine's Day), I feel compelled to write something about love in my posts. Hence, since I am exploring Series 1 and 2 in this challenge, I am going to write a little special essay throughout the month about the growing love between the Doctor and Rose. Please note I am in no way an expert on relationships. 

In this episode, the Doctor/Rose/Mickey love triangle is played up quite a bit. Though to be fair, I think Mickey has been feeling he's lost Rose since "Boom Town" (in which he confessed he was dating another girl). Anyway, we see this from the beginning of the episode, where Rose and Ten are talking and laughing and completely ignoring Mickey. He is clearly ticked off that they forgot about him. Later, when The Doctor must choose whether to run after Rose or Mickey, Mickey seems pretty sure The Doctor will run after Rose, and when he does, the pained expression on Mickey's face says it all.

We get more Doctor/Rose scenes as the episode progresses. He clearly understands her desire to see her father, but warns her away from seeing him anyway. Personally, I think he was trying to protect her from the disappointment she might face from doing so. Which just goes to show how much he cares for her, and how he wants to protect her. Sometimes though I wonder if he realizes how strong she is at this point, and that she can withstand a lot more than he thinks. (He definitely realizes it by "The Satan Pit" at any rate). 

The Doctor also ultimately gives in to Rose's desire to see her dad, which builds off of what we saw in "Tooth and Claw" of Rose's persuasive power over him.

What will become of this romance as this adventure with the Cybermen continues? We'll see!

Pictures from Sonic Biro.


NaBloPoMo (catchup): Series 2, Episode 4, "The Girl In The Fireplace"


Welcome back to TARDIS Thoughts! Next on the dock for my NaBloPoMo catchup, my absolute favorite episode of Series 2, "The Girl in the Fireplace"!

This episode has so many good things in it I can't even begin to describe. But clearly there is a reason it was shortlisted for a Nebula Award and won a Hugo Award in 2007 for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. It was also this episode that convinced me Steven Moffat was a brilliant writer, and is the main reason I just can't hate him like some fans do.

Sophia Myles does an amazing job as Madame de Pompadour/Reinette (an actual historical character). I really enjoyed her performance, and she and David Tennant worked really well together. (The fact that they were actually dating at the time in real life probably helps). She's very good in the commentary as well (the commentary crew for this episode consisting of her, David Tennant, and I think either the director Euros Lyn or Moffat).

Anyway, plot!

So, this episode runs backward plot-wise. It starts at the end, then goes back to the beginning and works its way to the end again. However, we don't realize this as an audience until later, when we see the opening scene in its proper context.

The episode begins in 18th-century France, at the beautiful Palace of Versailles. Chaos is raging at the palace, for what reason we know not. A young woman in a fancy dress kneels before a fireplace, while a man tries to urge her away from it. She will not leave, insisting that help will come, and calls for it:
REINETTE: Listen to me. There is a man coming to Versailles. He has watched over me my whole life and he will not desert me tonight. 
REINETTE: Are you there? Can you hear me? I need you now. You promised. The clock on the mantel is broken. It is time. Doctor! Doctor! 
The opening credits play, and all the sudden we've flashed forward 3,000 years to the 51st Century. The TARDIS materializes on board a spaceship floating all by its lonesome in space. Mickey is excited, since this is his first trip in the TARDIS:
MICKEY: It's a spaceship. Brilliant! I got a spaceship on my first go.
The Doctor and Rose encourage his sense of wonder:
DOCTOR: Fifty first century. Diagmar Cluster, you're a long way from home, Mickey. Two and a half galaxies.
ROSE: Mickey Smith, meet the universe. See anything you like?
MICKEY: It's so realistic! 
They suddenly smell something burning and go to investigate. They find...an old French fireplace:

The Doctor realizes it's double-sided and peeks through, seeing a little girl in a nightgown on the other side:

They speak briefly, and he learns her name is Reinette. Soon after, he finds something on the fireplace and presses it. It rotates, and he finds himself in Reinette's room.

He reassures Reinette, saying he is the man she spoke to through the fireplace, but she insists that was months ago. Soon after, he hears a loud ticking noise in her room. He looks around, and finally spies the cause: an android with a 18th-century wig and court dress and a carnival-style mask for a face:

He confronts and later dodges the android then eventually activates the fireplace so it rotates back to the spaceship. But he has brought the android with him, and he deactivates it with a fire extinguisher. He then takes off its wig and realizes it is just clockwork inside (with a face and body that resembles the Trade Federation battle droids from Star Wars Episode I):

Various events transpire, and The Doctor finds himself in different parts of Reinette's life. Meanwhile, Rose and Mickey wander the spaceship, trying to figure out what's going on, and finding human body parts among the machinery, like a camera with an eye on it and a beating heart in the wall. Eventually The Doctor catches up with them, and they watch a moment from Reinette's life through a large window, which appears to be mirrored as they can see Reinette but she cannot see them.

MICKEY: It's France again. We can see France.
ROSE: I think we're looking through a mirror.
(Louis enters the room beyond, with two men.)
MICKEY: Blimey, look at this guy. Who does he think he is?
DOCTOR: The King of France.
ROSE: Oh, here's trouble. What you been up to?
DOCTOR: Oh, this and that. Became the imaginary friend of a future French aristocrat, picked a fight with a clockwork man.
DOCTOR: Oh, and I met a horse.
MICKEY: What's a horse doing on a spaceship?
DOCTOR: Mickey, what's pre-Revolutionary France doing on a spaceship? Get a little perspective. See these? They're all over the place. On every deck. Gateways to history. But not just any old history.
(Reinette enters the room and curtseys to the King.)
DOCTOR: Hers. Time windows deliberately arranged along the life of one particular woman. A spaceship from the fifty first century stalking a woman from the eighteenth. Why?
ROSE: Who is she?
DOCTOR: Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, known to her friends as Reinette. One of the most accomplished women who ever lived.
ROSE: So has she got plans of being the Queen, then?
DOCTOR: No, he's already got a Queen. She's got plans of being his mistress.
ROSE: Oh, I get it. Camilla.
DOCTOR: I think this is the night they met. The night of the Yew Tree ball. In no time at flat, she'll get herself established as his official mistress, with her own rooms at the palace. Even her own title. Madame de Pompadour.
(The King and his servants leave. Reinette checks her appearance in the mirror/window.)
ROSE: The Queen must have loved her.
DOCTOR: Oh, she did. They get on very well.
MICKEY: The King's wife and the King's girlfriend?
DOCTOR: France. It's a different planet.
(Rose's line about "Camilla" is apt, as this episode aired in 2006, a little over a year after Camilla Parker Bowles married Prince Charles and became Duchess of Cornwall. Their marriage was, as some people know, a little controversial, because evidence suggests she and Charles were a couple before and during Charles's marriage to Princess Diana, and that this relationship may be part of what led to Charles and Diana's divorce).

Shortly after this, yet another Clockwork Droid tries to attack Reinette, and The Doctor, Rose, and Mickey break their way into the room. We learn from the Clockwork Droid that the ship broke down in an ion storm and it and the other droids have been trying to fix it but lack the necessary parts. Therefore, they used the crew (hence the human body parts in the ship and the burning smell). But one more part is needed, and for that they need Reinette, and they are going to keep opening time windows and scanning her brain until she's compatible.

The Doctor sends Rose and Mickey back to the ship while he reads Reinette's mind to try to figure out what the Droids want with her:

He doesn't seem to find anything, but all the sudden, Reinette starts mentioning memories of his, and he realizes she is reading his mind. He asks her how she is doing that, but she only says that once a door is open, it may be walked through both ways. She then invites The Doctor to join her at the ball she is about to go to.
REINETTE: ...Oh, Doctor. My lonely Doctor. Dance with me.
DOCTOR: I can't.
REINETTE: Dance with me.
DOCTOR: This is the night you dance with the King.
REINETTE: Then first, I shall make him jealous.
DOCTOR: I can't.
REINETTE: Doctor. Doctor who? It's more than just a secret, isn't it?
DOCTOR: What did you see?
REINETTE: That there comes a time, Time Lord, when every lonely little boy must learn how to dance.
Rose and Mickey, meanwhile, get captured by the Clockwork Droids and strapped to tables:

But just before the Droids can chop them up, The Doctor saunters in, looking rather ridiculous and acting rather intoxicated:

While rambling on in his seeming drunkenness, he reveals that he knows what the Droids need Reinette's brain for:
DOCTOR: ...Do you know what they were scanning Reinette's brain for? Her milometer. They want to know how old she is. Know why? Because this ship is thirty seven years old, and they think that when Reinette is thirty seven, when she's complete, then her brain will be compatible. So, that's what you're missing, isn't it, hmm? Command circuit. Your computer. Your ship needs a brain. And for some reason, God knows what, only the brain of Madame de Pompadour will do.
The Doctor sends Rose to warn Reinette ahead of time. When Mickey comes rushing in to get Rose back, Reinette follows, emerging into the ship:

Screams are heard from where The Doctor has found the time window to Reinette in the future. Reinette is puzzled by the sounds, especially when she hears her own voice, and becomes afraid:

ROSE: Are you okay?
REINETTE: No, I'm very afraid. But you and I both know, don't we, Rose, the Doctor is worth the monsters.
Reinette runs back through the window she entered the ship through. We then return to the opening scene of the episode (see, told you this episode goes backwards!), and see the aftermath. The Droids come for Reinette, but she manages to lure them to the ballroom and stall them momentarily.

The Doctor, Rose, and Mickey realize the time window to Reinette is blocked off - the Droids knew The Doctor would be coming. He can go through, but the connection between the ship and the ballroom will be cut off, meaning he won't be able to come back. Still, Reinette must be saved, so he risks it, crashing through the window on the horse he found earlier wandering around the spaceship:

He confronts the androids, and they break down once they realize they have no purpose anymore. The only problem is, now both they and The Doctor are trapped in the 1700's. Oops.

Rose and Mickey realize this, and a tear rolls down Rose's cheek. Mickey is worried, knowing they can't fly the TARDIS without The Doctor.

The Doctor and Reinette look out at the starry sky together:

He laments being trapped, but ultimately accepts it:
REINETTE: In saving me, you trapped yourself. Did you know that would happen?
DOCTOR: Mmm. Pretty much.
REINETTE: Yet, still you came.
DOCTOR: Yeah, I did, didn't I? Catch me doing that again.
REINETTE: There were many doors between my world and yours. Can you not use one of the others?
DOCTOR: When the mirror broke, the shock would have severed all the links with the ship. There'll be a few more broken mirrors and torn tapestries around here, I'm afraid, wherever there was a time window. I'll, I'll pay for any damage. Er, that's a thought, I'm going to need money. I was always a bit vague about money. Where do you get money?
REINETTE: So, here you are, my lonely angel, stuck on the slow path with me.
DOCTOR: Yep, the slow path. Here's to the slow path.
She then says, regretfully, she would have enjoyed being on the slow path with him. He insists he's not going anywhere, but she has other ideas. She takes his hand and leads him into a bedroom, where stands -- the fireplace they met through!

The Doctor finds the catch to rotate the fireplace and goes back. But before he leaves, he calls back to Reinette:
DOCTOR: Madame de Pompadour! Still want to see those stars?
REINETTE: More than anything.
DOCTOR: Give me two minutes. Pack a bag.
REINETTE: Am I going somewhere?
DOCTOR: Go to the window. Pick a star, any star.
She runs to a nearby window, while he runs back to Rose and Mickey, who have been waiting 5 1/2 hours for him to come back. He sends them back to the TARDIS while he runs back for Reinette.

But remember...these are time windows. Leading to various points in Reinette's life. And so, when he returns, the palace is empty and cold. An older Louis XV is standing there, watching a hearse cart drive away. Reinette, it seems, is dead. Louis greets The Doctor, saying he just missed Reinette, but hands him a letter from her, saying she talked about him all the time. The Doctor sadly makes his way back to the TARDIS with the letter, where he meets Rose and Mickey. Rose asks why the Droids needed Reinette's brain specifically, but The Doctor says he has no idea, that maybe their computer messed up. Rose and Mickey leave, and The Doctor, leaning against the console, unseals Reinette's letter, which we then hear the contents of in a voiceover:
REINETTE [OC]: My dear Doctor. The path has never seemed more slow, and yet I fear I am nearing its end. Reason tells me that you and I are unlikely to meet again, but I think I shall not listen to reason. I have seen the world inside your head, and know that all things are possible. Hurry though, my love. My days grow shorter now, and I am so very weak. God speed, my lonely angel.
(In the commentary, we learn that the prop letter David Tennant is holding is actually in French; the letter was translated into French and written out all nice by someone from the prop department. The recording of Sophia Myles's voiceover reading of the letter in English was piped into the set live via speakers so David would understand what was being said. Also, the recording of the letter was one of the last things Myles did for the episode, according to the commentary).

We see the fireplace go out on the TARDIS scanner screen. The TARDIS dematerializes, and where it stood we see a portrait of Madame de Pompadour. As we zoom out from the ship, it turns, and we the audience (but not The Doctor, Rose, or Mickey) see its name -- and the reason Reinette's brain was needed for the ship:

Yep, that was the reason all along!

Anyway, like I said, this episode is really awesome. It is so well-written and so well-acted, and the set and costume design is just amazing too. A great episode all around. Good one, Moffat!

Next time we go into the Series 2 Cyberman 2-parter. Allons-y!

As a sidenote, given that the letter was translated into French for the prop The Doctor holds, I tried translating the letter into French myself, since I took French in high school (and minored in it in college). Now I don't know if the person translating it used modern French (which I used) or French as would be spoken in the 1700's. But this is what I came up with:
Mon cher Docteur. Le chemin n'a jamais semblé plus lent, et pourtant je crains que j'approche sa fin. Le raisonnement me dit c'est peu probable que tu et moi recontrerons à nouveau, mais je pense que je n'entendrai pas de raisonnement. J'ai vu le monde dans ta tête, et je sais que tout est possible. Mais dépêche-toi, mon amour. Mes journées presse maintenant, et je suis si très frêle. Bonne voyage, mon ange solitaire.
(I used the more familiar tu for "you" because of how close they became; it's possible Reinette could have used the more formal vous instead).

Also, as a video game fan, I loved Mickey's NES controller shirt. "Know Your Roots" indeed.

Till next time!


NaBloPoMo Special: 
The Love of the Doctor and Rose Tyler 
Part Eighteen: I Snogged Madame de Pompadour

Since the theme of NaBloPoMo this month is "Love and Sex" (probably because of Valentine's Day), I feel compelled to write something about love in my posts. Hence, since I am exploring Series 1 and 2 in this challenge, I am going to write a little special essay throughout the month about the growing love between the Doctor and Rose. Please note I am in no way an expert on relationships. 

This is the first episode where Mickey is a true Companion, so there is obviously the Doctor-Rose-Mickey love triangle to consider when thinking about The Doctor and Rose's relationship in this episode. But there's another relationship to consider in this episode: The Doctor and Madame de Pompadour/Reinette.

Although The Doctor is aware Reinette has (or will have, depending on the scene) a lover (Louis XV, the King of France) and respects that, they do almost have a bit of romance in this episode (and people behind the episode have called it "a love story for The Doctor"), though the affection seems to be coming more from Reinette than from The Doctor. It is she who initiates their kiss when he first meets her as an adult - he only reciprocates. But afterwards, he's overjoyed about it:
DOCTOR: Poisson? Reinette Poisson? No! No, no, no, no, no way. Reinette Poisson? Later Madame Etoiles? Later still mistress of Louis the Fifteenth, uncrowned Queen of France? Actress, artist, musician, dancer, courtesan, fantastic gardener!
SERVANT: Who the hell are you?!
DOCTOR: I'm the Doctor, and I just snogged Madame de Pompadour. Ha, ha!
Later, Reinette is somehow able to read The Doctor's mind when he is reading hers to try to figure out why the Clockwork Droids want her head so badly, much to his surprise:
REINETTE: Oh, such a lonely childhood.
DOCTOR: It'll pass. Stay with me.
REINETTE: Oh, Doctor. So lonely. So very, very alone.
DOCTOR: What do you mean, alone? You've never been alone in your life. When did you start calling me Doctor?
REINETTE: Such a lonely little boy. Lonely then and lonelier now. How can you bear it?
(The Doctor breaks the link.)
DOCTOR: How did you do that?
REINETTE: A door, once opened, can be stepped through in either direction.
They definitely kindle a close relationship, and he is even willing to stay with her when he breaks the last time window into her time and finds himself stranded in the eighteenth century. She, however, has other ideas, and shows him a way home - the original fireplace through which they met:
REINETTE: It's a pity. I think I would've enjoyed the slow path.
DOCTOR: Well, I'm not going anywhere.
REINETTE: Oh, aren't you? Take my hand.

REINETTE: It's not a copy, it's the original. I had it moved here and was exact in every detail.
DOCTOR: The fireplace. The fireplace from your bedroom. When did you do this?
REINETTE: Many years ago, in the hope that a door once opened, may someday open again. One never quite knows when one needs one's Doctor. It appears undamaged. Do you think it will still work?
The Doctor is also willing to take Reinette with him to see the stars, but sadly, when he goes back to fetch her, he's too late - she has died. He is clearly quite sad to hear this, and her lover Louis XV tells The Doctor that she talked about him all the time.

So, while there are no indications of any immediate threat to The Doctor and Rose's relationship from Reinette (like there was with Sarah Jane in the previous episode), The Doctor and Reinette definitely connect on a deep level. Reinette herself expresses this depth when Rose goes to warn her about the Clockwork Droids and tells her she must stall them, keep them talking, when they arrive:
ROSE: Until the Doctor can get there.
REINETTE: He's coming, then?
ROSE: He promises.
REINETTE: But he cannot make his promises in person?
ROSE: He'll be there when you need him. That's the way it's got to be.
REINETTE: It's the way it's always been. The monsters and the Doctor. It seems you cannot have one without the other.
ROSE: Tell me about it. The thing is, you weren't supposed to have either. Those creatures are messing with history. None of this was ever supposed to happen to you.
REINETTE: Supposed to happen? What does that mean? It happened, child, and I would not have it any other way. One may tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel.
 And how will Rose and this "lonely angel" fare with their relationship? Wait and see!

Oh, P.S. Rose cries when she realizes The Doctor's not coming back. If that doesn't show she cares for him, what does?

Pictures from Sonic Biro. Quotes from The Doctor Who Transcripts.

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