Posts Tagged With: fugitive of the judoon

Have I Got Whos For You (series 12 edition, part three)

This week? Well, among other things, I’ve been thinking about Terry Jones.

In the streets of Gloucester, Marcia is surprised when Colin Baker turns up early to collect his scarf.

I’m posting this one without comment, because I think we’ve all had enough of experts, haven’t we?

Meanwhile, Hollywood mourns the death of the legendary Kirk Douglas – who, at the age of 103, really seemed to be like one of those people you thought would go on forever…

Bodega Bay, March 1963: the TARDIS makes an unexpected stop that leaves the Doctor and her companions with a distinct sense of deja vu.

Dallas, November 1963: Atop a grassy knoll, the Lone Cyberman watches and waits and bides his time.

Madagascar, 2019.

And in a fictional hospital in Bristol, a certain Jo Martin does her rounds.

“Yeah, just ‘Doctor’ is fine.”

Categories: Have I Got Whos For You | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Review: Fugitive of the Judoon

Warning: many spoilers below. Read at your peril.

There are some episodes of Doctor Who that, when you examine them under a bright light, actually aren’t terribly good. ‘Extremis’ is perhaps the most obvious contemporary example. ‘A Good Man Goes To War’ is another. ‘Utopia’ a third. None of these stories is particularly memorable, in the grand scheme of things. ‘Utopia’ sees the Doctor and Martha (with an old friend in tow) explore the end of the universe while being pursued by the carnivorous remnants of what used to be humanity. ‘A Good Man Goes To War’ assembles a ragtag bunch of waifs and strays and pits them against a silent religious order, in more than one sense of the word. ‘Extremis’ marks the beginning of the Monk trilogy – the low point for series 10 – in a story that is memorable solely because it pulls the rug from under our feet in its closing minutes. (Well, that and the scene with the Pope. That was quite funny.)

But they’re all stories we remember because Things Happened. ‘Fugitive of the Judoon’ was event television. There was absolutely nothing special about it, in terms of the story it endeavoured to tell; it’s certain key moments that stand out. It starts innocently enough. Bereft and miserable, the Doctor is finally distracted from her hours of TARDIS console vigil by an alert from Gloucester: the Judoon have landed outside a cafe, and are in the process of throwing their monosyllabic weight around while they search for a dangerous fugitive. They’re still inflexible and brutal, and the Doctor is keen to intercede before things get too nasty – and intercede she does, although the can of worms she opens as a result is dark, slimy and full of entrails…look, basically it’s a complete dog’s breakfast. She should never have let them talk to Yas.

At first, it seems the Judoon are after an elusive, perenially nervous Stroud native called Lee (Game On‘s Neil Stuke, looking jumpy and perpetually hungover), nice enough but clearly hiding something. Lee is married to Ruth (Jo Martin, recently decorating the boardroom at Holby City), who is celebrating her birthday by handing out flyers for city tours that no one is booking – at least until the Judoon show up, all leather and pointed helmets, stomping through houses and cathedrals and killing anyone who gets in their way, while Whittaker makes awkward jokes about canals. That the fugitive turns out to be Ruth is no real surprise; that Lee meets an early demise twenty minutes in is predictable television; that Ruth is harbouring a buried past and hidden skills is more or less what everyone expected.

That she turns out to be the Doctor, of course, is something of a twist.

In a way, you have to hand it to Chibnall (the script is Patel’s, but this idea was almost certainly not) for actually surprising his audience. The buzzing about altered backstories has been an omnirumour since late 2018, but it wasn’t until last night that it appeared to actually have legs, and its unveiling was reasonably spectactular, Whittaker digging in the dirt for a buried TARDIS while Martin smashes the glass panel inside a lighthouse (the only thing that could have upped the symbolism levels would have been to make it a ceiling) and before changing her clothes. So catastrophic is the anticipated fallout from a move like this it’s tempting to disengage yourself from the fandom entirely: suffice it to say the decision to insert (or at least appear to insert) an earlier incarnation, with all that insinuates, and then cast a black woman in the role was not only a bold move but also an extremely savvy piece of trolling from the chief writer. Even if it’s not up there with ‘The Name of the Doctor’ – in terms of reveals, it’s more of a ‘Death In Heaven’ moment – it is, at least, guaranteed to get the internet talking about Doctor Who in a way that no one has for quite some time. I’d imagine it was a long night for bowlestrek.

At moments like these the temptation to shout “Bollocks!” (as I did during ‘Orphan 55’) is stronger than ever. But any doubts that Martin really is the Doctor (or at least a Doctor of sorts) are instantly dispelled by the synchronised, ‘Midnight’-esque conversation that follows – along with certain behavioural aspects that seem fairly authentic, albeit at the Colin Baker end of the scale. Acting is a big part of it: Martin’s demeanour change from human to Time Lord is powerful but understated; two halves of the same character, pompous and serious while Whittaker looks increasingly confused and out of her depth. It could still turn out to be an elaborate ruse, but honestly I’m not convinced that this current production team are capable of that sort of feint: this feels more like the sort of game-changing reveal that prompts an explosion of fan theory. She’s the Doctor from a parallel universe. A future Doctor with memory loss. A hidden incarnation sandwiched between Troughton and Pertwee. A buried secret past, Chibnall’s rumoured ‘Thirteen Previous’ cycle coming to fruition. Pick one.

It makes it a difficult episode to review. The story itself is bland and inconsequential, serving solely to advance the series arc: more than anything, ‘Fugitive’ feels not so much like the first part of a two-part story but a filler episode that we’ll revisit in a month or two, or perhaps even next year if the rumours have any substance. The TARDIS fam have next to nothing to do this week, to the extent that they’re removed from the narrative entirely by the most unexpected of guest stars, materialising in a gloomy spacecraft in the company of Captain Jack Harkness. Older, a little grizzled around the jaw but still as flirtatious as ever, Barrowman wastes no time in snogging Graham and complimenting him on his temples before evading a barrage of laser fire from the unseen monsters who want their ship back. As much fun as it is, the inconvenient truth is that Jack’s cameo serves absolutely no purpose, other than to have the fans squealing and jumping out of their seats, something I’ll admit I did. He’s there to deliver a cryptic message to the Doctor (disappointingly, the two never meet – perhaps they’re saving that for later), but surely he could have sent an email or something? On the other hand it’s lovely to see him, and it says something about the pace of an episode when a cameo from a long-departed guest actor is one of the least interesting things about it.

The other inconenient truth is that, despite its good intentions, ‘Fugitive’ wasn’t exactly a rug sweeper. It feels, more than anything, that those days are over: that the two-way feedback now supposedly deemed essential to the production process has rendered this a series of games and one-upmanships; television reduced to a series of “Gotcha!” moments. For all its jaw-dropping revelations (and there were several) it’s hard not to feel ever so slightly cheated; that this was an event, rather than anything of any substance. Moreover it was an event inserted purely for shock value, a cynical headline-grab in the manner of Moffat’s decision to tinker with the numbering (something no amount of garbage about writer’s block can ever really justify). Doctor Who isn’t produced in a vacuum, and while Whittaker maintains she doesn’t read the papers it should be fairly self-evident by now that Chibnall does. It is impossible not to conclude that this decision was made to deliberately upset certain people. And while I don’t object to big changes, as long as they work, and while I’d be happy to see Martin again on the strength of her performance this week, I’m not sure how I feel about the the BBC poking the fandom with a stick. Although let’s face it, that’s something the Doctor does particularly well.

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: