Posts Tagged With: before the flood

God Is In The Detail (12-05)

Give me a minute here, folks. I am running around the internet frantically trying to cram all these worms back into their can. Good grief what a week it’s been. You drop one little reveal and everyone and their sister thinks they have all the answers about where Chibnall’s going with his New Doctor. I’ve heard every single theory on offer – she’s Jenny, she’s Romana, she’s the Rani, she’s before Hartnell, she’s the Metacrisis Doctor – and I think we can agree on one thing and one thing alone, and that is that the eventual explanation will be a crushing disappointment, irrespective of how and when it occurs. Whatever happens next, you’ll all feel let down. I won’t say “I told you so”, except I probably will.

In the meantime the press have also got in on the act. Half the journalists writing are also fans (it makes, in my experience, for the very worst kind of reviews, but let’s not go there) and nothing gets people nattering like a bit of speculation. For better or worse, ‘Fugitive of the Judoon’ may have been the most talked-about episode since ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’, and it’s given Radio Times the perfect opportunity to tell us all how clever it was, when they published a list of hidden clues and hints as to Ruth Clayton’s real identity.

I mean, I’ve taken a look, and it’s pitiful. It’s the work of a rank amateur – probably an unpaid intern with access to Wikipedia and a copy of The Doctor: His Lives and Times. They didn’t even pick up on the clock face, beyond the most cursorary of glances. My grandmother could have managed better, and she’s been six feet under since 2003. No, listen: if you want to know what was really going on, beneath all the bluster and the talk about the Timeless Child and the secret history of Gallifrey, you just need to dig a little deeper than the cryptic remarks these hacks think will suffice. Because if you examine ‘Fugitive’ – I mean REALLY EXAMINE it – there’s a shedload of hidden information and secret signs that reveal Ruth’s identity right from the get-go.

Let’s start at the very beginning – with the very first shot, in fact.

Ah, yes. Time, the enemy in us all. But you’ve noticed the hand positioning, haven’t you? Let’s break it down: the minute hand, you’ll see, is stuck at twelve, while the hour hand is firmly at eight, alluding to Doctors Capaldi and McGann respectively. Superficially this makes little sense until we look at the second hand, hovering between ten and eleven – alluding both to the Metacrisis Doctor, but also a meeting between Tennant and Smith.

You can see where this is going, can’t you? This is all about 2013, and ‘Day of the Doctor’ – the ‘Night of the Doctor’ minisode providing the McGann connection – and is a CLEAR AND TRANSPARENT suggestion that there were more than thirteen TARDISes in orbit round Gallifrey. Remember, just because you didn’t see Doctor Ruth’s TARDIS, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. You know, like genital herpes. Apparently. According to a friend of mine.

We move on, with rampant swiftness.

It’s the candles I want you to look at here, because their placement is not random, nor is it without significance. In order to understand the varying lengths, we need to do a little detective work, because each candle corresponds to a different Doctor, according to the number of episodes in which they featured. Hence the tallest candle (the second one from the left) refers to Tom Baker – who, at 172 episodes, is the longest-running Doctor of all time. And so on and so forth.

It took a little time, and I had to physically count the pixels, but we got there, and the end result looks like this:

(If you’re interested in where I got my information, by the way, you can take a look at the IMDB reference here. It’s a little out of date, as it doesn’t feature Whittaker’s Doctor, but it works for the purposes of what we’re doing.)

With me so far? Good. Written down from left to right the numbers look like this:

10  4  12  3  11     7  2  6  1  5

The first half – thrown together it reads 10412311 – is a product number for a bead collection produced by a company called Grace Lampwork Beads (I know. I know!!!). The product in question is a cluster called Deep Sea Wonder. Are you ready to see it? And before you do, have you ever wondered what an inside-out TARDIS console room might resemble? Because if you haven’t, think about it right now. Your mind is about to be literally blown.

You see what I mean.

The second half refers to a date – 7/26/15, an Americanised version of 26 July 2015. It’s the date Chris Froome won the Tour De France, but it’s also the date Leif Ove Andsnes performed Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms season. This works on two levels: superficially, it’s a nod to ‘Before The Flood’, specifically the moment the Doctor monologues about Beethoven’s Fifth (symphony, rather than piano concerto, but the cat’s still out of the bag). However, you’ll be stunned to discover that ‘Leif Ove Andsnes’ is an anagram of ‘invade onself‘, WHICH IS LITERALLY WHAT HAPPENS IN THIS EPISODE.

That’s enough numbers: let’s look at some of the more visual stuff. Very early in the episode, Ruth’s seen having breakfast, in a single shot that’s so loaded with detail I’ve had to annotate it.

There’s nothing much else to say about this, except for a health and safety observation: seriously, who keeps a wooden chopping board right next to a hob?!? I mean really. It’s all fun and games until the kitchen burns down. I just hope her smoke alarm batteries are working.

Finally, here’s a map. Ostensibly useless, but there’s a very, VERY big thing happening in this one.

Now, I want you to pay very close attention to that blue line. It takes its cue from the Soup Line, a concept Bill Drummond (of the KLF) envisaged a few years back. You draw a line on a map of the British Isles, intersecting Belfast and Nottingham (if you’ve done it right, you’ll end up at Ipswich). Should your house fall on the line, Bill Drummond promises to pay you a visit and make soup, simply because he likes soup. I have no idea whether he still does this, but I would like to hope so.

Now let’s take a look at this particular line, transposed to real world locations.

You can’t see it clearly, but having examined Google Maps I can confirm that the line intersects the following:

A – Aberdyfi

B – Knighton

C – Moreton-in-Marsh

D – Gravesend

And you don’t need me to tell you what this means, but for the sake of anyone who’s just wandered in here (help yourself to sausage rolls by the way; they’re still warm) then we’ll elaborate: the much-discussed “More than a Time Lord” scene from ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ is coming to fruition, via knights from Knighton and Arthur’s Morgana (a corruption of ‘Moreton’) in a pitched battle on the Welsh coast, leading to the eventual revival of THE SEVENTH DOCTOR. Which is obvious, really – we always knew he was Merlin; it’s just there’s no reason why Merlin had to be a man. Lest you’d forgotten, it’s all building to a revisit to Trenzalore (Gravesend), and the question that must never be answered, which is not “Doctor Who”, but “Should Great Britain leave the European Union or…”

Need we mention that Drummond was also partially responsible for ‘Doctorin’ The TARDIS’? We need not. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Radio Times.

Categories: God is in the Detail | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

God is in the detail (9-4)

I really didn’t want to have to think too hard about this episode; it’s on my list of things I may get round to seeing again if I ever run out of X-Files, the likelihood of which is minimal. But a gentleman’s dedication to his crusade to find the SERIOUS AND IMPORTANT CLUES in these stories knows, it seems, no bounds, or at least relatively few. Pay attention, class: we could be here for the duration.

In the first instance, look at this opening image of the Drum, as used in the recap.

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The word ‘Previously’ is in the process of forming, but it’s no coincidence that when I was scanning for clues and subtleties, my image grabbing software stopped on this THREE TIMES. Clearly this image is watermarked in some way. But what does it mean? Well, for a start the word ‘sly’ is derived from the Old Norse word ‘sloegr’, meaning ‘cunning and crafty’, and as we’re all aware VIKINGS ARE GOING TO FEATURE IN NEXT WEEK’S EPISODE.

But let’s leave the etymology aside, and look at the word as an acronym. An acronym for Safety, Liquidity and Yield – stock market lingo, but also a CLEAR AND TRANSPARENT reference to the contents of the episode (Clara and the others in the Drum spend the whole time trying to find a place of safety; the Doctor is almost forced to yield to his seemingly inevitable death; and the whole thing takes place underwater). And, of course, SLY is the airport code for Salehard. WHICH IS IN RUSSIA. (Salehard is, coincidentally, the closest town to the Polar Circle, WHICH IS WHERE THE LAST CHRISTMAS SPECIAL WAS SET.)

Here’s the Doctor, in the abandoned military town.

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Look at those twin dolls. Are they Russian? No, they appear to be standing still. Note their twin-like appearance. This is an UNAMBIGUOUS reference to the Grady twins, who appeared in The Shining, a film set in a haunted hotel – just like another episode of Doctor Who that happened to have been written by Toby Whithouse. I’d say “You couldn’t make it up”, but that’s because NOBODY DID – IT’S ENTIRELY DELIBERATE.

shining_2twins

Twins also feature in The Parent Trap, the 1961 Disney comedy in which Hayley Mills played twins Sharon and Susan, which also happens to be the names of two of the Doctor’s companions (yes, there was a Sharon; look it up). The songs for ‘The Parent Trap’ were written by the Sherman brothers, both of whom also provided songs for Mary Poppins – a film that has strong ties with Doctor Who – while rearranging the letters in ‘Sharon McKendrick’ leads to ‘ark mensch dornick‘, both a reference to ‘The Ark In Space’, and its immediate successor, ‘The Sontaran Experiment’, in which the Doctor goes off to look at rocks.

Here’s a spookily empty lounge.

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One word: snow globe. And we’re back with St. Elsewhere (see this entry) and the conviction that this is NOT REAL. Note also the presence of the Autons in the back – human pretenders who are NOT REAL. Note also the lampshade, which is pink. Note that the last time we saw Danny Pink was in an episode where things are NOT REAL. I don’t think we need elaborate any further. I’ve got a nagging feeling somewhere in the back of my head that we should, but I am dismissing it, as it is NOT REAL.

Next: El Doctor, wandering once more through the town.

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The poster – as you might have guessed – is our focus here. The six tanks evoke six different stories:

‘The Magician’s Apprentice’, in which the Doctor rides into a medieval banqueting hall on top of a tank

‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’, in which the Monk’s TARDIS briefly assumes the shape of a tank

‘The Power of Three’, in which UNIT roll a tank over a Shakri cube

‘Robot’, in which the Brigadier unsuccessfully endeavours to destroy the K1 robot with a tank (and in which an organisation entitled Think Tank features prominently)

‘The Runaway Bride’, in which the Webstar is annihilated with the aid of tank fire

‘The Time of the Doctor’, in which a broken tank is spotted on Trenzalore.

What do all these stories have in common? Well, I think you know that, don’t you? So we needn’t dwell on it. It is obvious to anyone who isn’t an idiot. Suffice to say that the THREE Dalek stories, not to mention the POWER OF THREE, the fact that ‘The Runaway Bride’ is the first episode of series THREE, and the fact that the newly regenerated Fourth Doctor tries on THREE costumes before deciding upon his iconic scarf and hat combination should give you some clue.

But it’s the chap on the right that is of particular interest. Clearly his pose is meant to mimic this one.

Angels_River

River Song, of course, and her triumphant entry into the TARDIS. The longest river in Russia is the Yenesei-Angara-Selenge River – words that can be rearranged to form ‘Venereal energy series, again’. Those of you who have not blanked the first series of Torchwood from your heads will recall ‘Day One’, the early episode that dealt with Carys Fletcher, sexual predator in a quite literal sense, as her victims exploded at the point of climax. THIS IS A CLEAR SIGN THAT CAPTAIN JACK WILL COME AGAIN.

Of course, this chap also looks a little like the Mandarin, so…

9_4 Detail (5b)

Well, you know, red and all that.

Finally, to the TARDIS.

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OK, kids. Here’s where it gets complicated.

The trick here is to examine the shapes. The circles are a dead giveaway, although we must ignore the one at the bottom, which is a red herring, for obvious reasons. But the presence of the Doctor himself is significant, and suggests an obvious arch-type shape. Hence, with a bit of trickery:

9_4 Detail (4b)

Note also that there are two Doctors in this scene, necessitating the doubling of such a thing. Look, to cut a long story short, if we mash all this together we get this:

9_4 Detail (4c)

Case closed, and padlocked, and lost on a luggage carousel somewhere in Bulgaria. Or maybe Salehard.

Categories: God is in the Detail | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: ‘Before the Flood’

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Warning: this is not exactly a review. Not really. I mean, I just gave up this week. But it does have spoilers.

Once upon a time there was a race called the Weeping Angels. Their in-universe title was The Lonely Assassins, which sounds like an American alt rock pub band. They spawned a wealth of t-shirts, desktop wallpaper and supposedly iconic phrases. They worked for one story. The last time anyone saw them for more than a couple of minutes, they were trashing Manhattan, in a jumbled, confusing narrative about predestination, cheating death and avoiding fate, and dying and dying again. It was like watching bad film noir, but was for some reason hailed as a classic. Some people prefer to think of it as a once good idea, badly squandered.

Once upon a time there was a writer called Toby and he wrote stories that were either wildly good or wildly dreadful. And then he surpassed expectations by managing both in the space of one two-part story. And the result was Schrodinger’s Doctor: both alive and dead at the same time, in more than one sense.

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Once upon a time there was another writer – not famous, or even particularly good – who sat on the sofa one evening with a small child who probably had head lice and wondered at what point Doctor Who could have been said to lose its way. And he wondered whether it was the multiple deaths, the moment it became a show about time travel rather than a show that simply featured time travel, or the moment Billie Piper tried to do an American accent.

Once upon a time there was a film called Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, in which two guitar-playing time travellers go back in time in a phone box and meet Beethoven, who does a mean Turkish Rondo, performed on a Yamaha.

9_4 Flood (Beethoven)

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Once upon a time there was a writer called Toby and he invented a comedy alien that sort of worked in one story but then turned up again in another where he was clearly not welcome and didn’t fit, and where he only became watchable once the monster-of-the-week had killed him. And he had a single scene where he wasn’t playing a ghost, and even that was too much. And lo, the Mr Tumnus comparisons were uncanny.

Once upon a time there was a film called Back to the Future where a young time traveller got to see himself wandering around simply by going back in time a few minutes. And there was a Doctor Who episode where this happened, only history was changed, on the first of many occasions, which resulted in monsters coming out of the woodwork to sterilise the wound, only to be never seen again in any other story. Once upon a time there was another episode of Doctor Who where this happened and the two groups of people didn’t meet because one group was having a homoerotic wrestling match behind a dustbin.

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Once upon a time there was a Time Lord who was prepared to let other people die, including himself, but not his companion, because she was a BBC commodity, and that’s the way they do it since 2005.

Once upon a time there was a writer called Toby, and he had a deaf girl wandering down a corridor pursued by the ghost of a black man carrying an axe, which threw up all sorts of questions about emancipation and empowerment. And it was good. And then the deaf girl managed to sense the presence of the ghost by feeling the vibrations, which was fair enough. And then we saw the axe rendered in some kind of low light enhanced vision mode, WHICH WAS LIKE SOMETHING FROM FUCKING DAREDEVIL.

Once upon a time there was a chiselled adventurer who escaped the destruction of a mocked-up town by hiding inside a large plastic box. Once upon a time there was a monster in a Predator mask who was in one scene and who killed two people, both off-screen, and whose biggest selling point was celebrity voice casting. And lo, there was relief that it was not, at least, the omnipresent Nicholas Briggs.

Indiana Jones Crystal Skull Refrigerator

Once upon a time there was a time traveller who cheated death by hiding inside a life-sized robot, and then managed it by psychologically manipulating his not-girlfriend to have a nice word with his employers, who immediately granted him a whole new set of continues. Then he cheated death by not actually dying at all, but just making it look as if he had, in order to frighten children, impress his not-girlfriend and keep the Twitter feeds buzzing. And by this point nobody actually cared anymore.

Once upon a time there was a writer called Toby and he took a fantastic idea and then turned it into a time travel story that it didn’t need to be. Once upon a time there was an episode of Neighbours where a character called Lance thought he was getting a surfboard for his birthday, and it turned out to be an ironing board. And this was a similar experience, with similar levels of colossal disappointment.

Once upon a time there was a media management team who spent hours building up to a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT about Doctor Who, leading to wild speculation about missing episodes, new companions or new audio material, and it turned out to be a spin-off that nobody asked for and most people didn’t want, and you could feel the collective sigh of apathy when the Coke bottle turned out to have no fizz whatsoever.

Once upon a time that other, not-famous writer sat on his sofa with the aforementioned small child, watching him applaud the end credits of the episode they’d watched, which is cute because he’s a toddler, but wondering what he’d just watched, and whether indeed they’d watched the same thing. And he scratched his head in what he presumed was puzzlement, but then again it could have been the lice.

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Categories: New Who, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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