Posts Tagged With: the girl who died

Have I Got Whos For You (Interlude)

All is not well in Planet Who, folks. There is discontent over the absence of a trailer, anticipatiion fatigue over the BBC’s continuing refusal to name a date, and a general sense of ambivalence about whether it’s going to be any good considering the writers they’ve got on board for next series. And over in a Viking village, Edgar’s let his sneeze get the better of him again.

I spent half an hour yesterday trying to interpolate footage from this year’s John Lewis advert into footage of explosions and disintegrating snowmen and the cracking of ice. It did not go well. My heart simply wasn’t in it, which is never a good beginning. So I cleaned the bathroom instead. There’s no video this week, but at least the house smells fragrant. We’ve done John Lewis before – more than once – and that comparative post I did back in 2016 really is due a revamp. Maybe next year. Maybe.

There was a pile of good things. Georgia Tennant posted a photo on Instagram of her new baby’s induction into the world of Doctor Who, although there was some concern over the episode that she was watching.

“HUNGRY,” said one FB user I occasionally interact with, to which the response from me was “Wrong episode.”

“Close, though, right?”

“Five years out. So in the grand scheme of things…”

If we’re talking series 12, of course, you have to work with what you’ve got. For example, a few weeks back we became aware of a suspected leaked image from an upcoming sequel to ‘Flatline’, although there was immediate speculation as to whether or not it was fake.

It’s not fake, surely? I mean it’s got lighting and everything.

One thing that definitely isn’t fake is the Dalek redesign, which was recently spotted on Clifton Suspension Bridge during a closed ‘maintenance’ slot which was actually booked for the BBC. There was immediate uproar over the apparent redesign, which served no purpose except to highlight the double standards inherent in the assessment of such things, because the Cybermen have been going for almost as long as the Daleks and the new ones are basically unrecognisable, whereas the Daleks have hardly changed at all over the years and the moment they do there’s wailing and crying and gnashing of teeth. Maybe that’s the whole problem. Perhaps a general evolution would have made the removal of the sink plunger an acceptable thing. Perhaps they’ve signed up to a twenty-four hour callout service and there’s no longer any need to do it themselves.

Anyway, it turns out there’s a reason for it.

I’ve been struggling a little bit with Thomas’s school this week, who have been perhaps less than understanding about some of his additional needs, even though they usually do a good job. We have explained to him that while copying out the question before you add the answer does seem rather pointless, you sometimes simply have to toe the line and pick your battles. We live in a system of assessments and targets and indecipherable lingo, and with four kids at four schools it really can be a bit of a minefield.

Anyway, Thomas is basically happy, but I do wish he’d read more. It’s Ripley’s Believe it or Not or a Beano annual or something in the Big Nate range, and while I’m not a reading snob of any sort there’s a wealth of great stuff out there he’s missing out on simply because he can’t be bothered. Occasionally – just occasionally – you can find something that’ll interest him, like we did when we found a Derren Brown book about hypnotism and the power of suggestion. He’d developed something of an interest in the man after regular visits to Thorpe Park this year where we all got rather attached to the Derren Brown ghost train – a ride I’m not allowed to spoil, because they ask you not to. Then this book showed up in a charity shop and he was riveted. It’s the sort of thing that makes me shudder, just faintly, because whether it’s genuine psychic ability or a simple confidence trick Brown is a piggin’ genius and the thought of Thomas going down that road makes me wonder what the consequences would be. It’s like giving the supersoldier serum to Red Skull. “No man should have that kind of power.”

I was trying to find something for him the other week when I stumbled upon this hideously inappropriate Doctor Who novel. I could still let him read it; the joke would probably sail over his head.

Audiobook available soon from all good streaming services.

Star Wars updates now – and cometh the man, cometh the Mandalorian.

It’s not just me, is it? Tell me it’s not just me.

I am trying to put my finger on the moment I lost interest in the Star Wars franchise. It might have been the Clone Wars movie. It might actually have been Shadows of the Empire, Lucas’ 1997 foray into episode 5.5 territory that tried several approaches, none of which really worked. The book was particularly disastrous. Years down the line and we’re bombarded with spin-offs no one asked for and comparatively few people watched and now there’s a TV series about a masked bounty hunter who may or may not be Boba Fett (is he Boba Fett? I haven’t bothered to find out) and oh look, George Lucas has changed the Greedo death AGAIN. If I’m grouchy about this it’s because Disney has announced this week that they’re pulling the Lego Star Wars exhibit from Legoland Windsor because for some unfathomable reason the sight of tiny brick men in a dimly-lit walkthrough will be enough to prevent people going to their own Star Wars-themed parks, most of which are in another country. I am one of the few people who objected to Disney buying the thing a few years back – as far as I was concerned they couldn’t come up with a bigger mess than Attack of the Clones, and thus far I’ve been proved right – but this annoys me. Next time I might just take the kids to a museum instead.

I mean honestly.

We conclude with politics, and Kay Burley has an empty chair in her studio.

I had a conversation with Trevor Baxendale about this: he’d said it didn’t work for him because the Silence wasn’t actually invisible (a mistake many Who fans seem to make when they’re making jokes about them online), so surely she’d be able to see it? We were back and forth for a bit, with me explaining myself and the two of us eventually agreeing that the actual concept of the Silence was so vague there is wiggle room. Better yet that we should concentrate on episodes of Doctor Who that actually work. Like ‘Heaven Sent’, for example, seeing as we seem to be on a bit of a series 9 kick this morning. I had cause to rewatch ‘Heaven Sent’ this week – for reasons that will become apparent another time – and one thing that strikes me is how meticulously constructed the whole thing is; aside from certain questions about where the first set of dry clothes came from it really hangs together quite well.

“What?”

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Have I Got Whos For You (part 354)

You know…you’d get these a lot faster if you visit and follow my Facebook page.

First: rejected monsters from series 10.

Meanwhile, in an art gallery in an undisclosed location, fandom implodes.

And in unrelated news, the Thirteenth Doctor’s companion is finally unveiled.

(You would not believe the fallout I had from that one.)

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God is in the detail (9-5)

This was very nearly a Back to the Future post. You know I’m always one to throw a grappling hook in the direction of a receding bandwagon, clinging on for dear life even as it disappears into the distance. I mean, I was going to write about how strange it was that Doctor Who‘s become a show about a middle-aged man who becomes fixated with a schoolteacher named Clara.

But we won’t do it. I’m bloody sick of the Back To The Future crap that’s been clogging my timeline for the past eighteen months, before the internet went into meltdown yesterday. We’re celebrating a fictional day visited by characters in an eighties movie and sneering about all the things the writers got wrong when THEY WEREN’T EVEN TRYING? We’re making fake products and producing trailers for fake films that got seven seconds of screen time? Is this really where our creativity’s taken us? I’m tired of it. I’m tired of all the memes that did the rounds two or three years ago warning that “The day they visited” was imminent, and which fooled about ninety per cent of the internet, when it should have been criminally obvious to anyone who ever saw the films that THEY DON’T GO ANYWHERE THAT DOESN’T END IN A FIVE. And I’m sorry, but the conversation between Lloyd and Fox just upset me, because it’s sad to see Michael looking so ill.

I mean, it’s a movie. It’s a big part of my childhood but this was just saturation point. Listen up, everyone: BTTF 2 isn’t even that good. It’s convoluted, confusing and Jeffrey Weissmann is crap. Moreover, it contains a whopping great paradox in that it would have been impossible for Biff to return the De Lorean to Marty and Doc’s 2015 timeline – he’d have gone to a parallel future where they’d have been somewhere else entirely. Once you realise that, absolutely nothing makes any sense.

No, we’ll look instead at ‘The Girl Who Died’, although I’ve ranted a bit so I may have to cut this one short.

Firstly: trees.

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Notice the white tree next to the Doctor. Those of you who know your Tolkien will have this figured out straight away: for the rest of you, the tree is (as the LOTR Wiki puts it) “fashioned in the image of Telperion, elder of the Two Trees of Valinor”: ‘Telperion and Valinor’ may be rearranged to form ‘Adopt Nonlinear Liver’, which is a CLEAR REFERENCE to Ashildr’s new hybrid form come the end of the story. (The flowering of the white tree also symbolises new hope and life, which is rather more obvious, and thus not the sort of thing Moffat would have done. No, this is right.)

Also note that there are two visible stumps in this picture, both to the left of the white tree. This, coupled with the fallen trunk on the right hand side, is a clear reference to cricket, and the IMMINENT RETURN OF THE FIFTH DOCTOR.

Now, have a look in the banqueting hall / lodge / whatever the Vikings called it and let’s be honest who cares because THEY HAD HORNS.

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The candelabra (centre) is a gift from Odin. Two tiers. Eight on the bottom, four on the top, corresponding exactly with the number of canonical Doctors. Beneath them, a dragon. And what does this have to do with Doctor Who? Well, those of you familiar with prime time fantasy costume drama that isn’t Game of Thrones will remember this:

Coincidentally, David Schofield – co-starring as the fake Odin in ‘The Girl Who Died’ – also appeared in Merlin as King Alined: a word that can be rearranged to form ‘Denial’, which is precisely how the Vikings spend half the episode before the Doctor agrees to train them, but which is also a river in Egypt, the home of Queen Nefertiti, who was in ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’, which also featured an appearance from Richard Hope, who was in Poldark, and A DARK POLE IS HOLDING UP THE CANDELABRA. LOOK AT IT. But not too long or it will etch certain words into your mind, making you a target for ghosts, or telesales pests.

Finally: farm animals.

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The chickens at the side have so many layers of meaning we don’t have time to unpack them all. Suffice to say that they appear in ‘The Fires of Pompeii’ (an episode referenced heavily) and also ‘City of Death’ (see below). However, most significant is the Doctor’s affirmation in ‘Blink’ that his Timey-Wimey Detector (which goes ding when there’s stuff) can also boil an egg from up to thirty paces, “so I’ve learned to stay away from hens”. This is one of two major scenes for the Doctor in ‘Blink’, the other being a video conversation in which he instructs Sally Sparrow to, among other things, to “Look to your left”.

How did you find those chickens? Where did you have to point your eyes? Yes, that’s right. (Or rather left.)

You will also notice three ducks, centre stage. Ducks are mentioned in the very first Amy Pond story, in which the newly-regenerated Eleventh Doctor enquires why there are no ducks on the Leadworth duck pond. Veterans will also note that the Ponds’ penultimate story was ‘The Power of Three’. Three ducks. Count ’em. THREE.

But there’s more. The Three Ducks is a hostel on Place Etienne Pernet in Paris, location for ‘City of Death’. Here’s the hostel on Google Maps, along with assorted locations from the shoot, including the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.

Paris_Map

(For more details, see here.)

Now watch what happens when we add the two parks (which are significant for obvious reasons that I won’t go into here) and then join the lines up.

Paris_Map2

IT IS CLEARLY AN UPTURNED TARDIS. As in the one that appeared in this episode.

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(Those of you who know your Big Finish will also be aware that Sophie Aldred voiced a military duck with an assault rifle in ‘Zagreus’, but I really thought that was a step too far.)

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Review: ‘The Girl Who Died’

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Warning: spoilers.

Before anyone says anything, I know that this isn’t a real review. At some point I will get around to actually writing proper reviews again. Consider this one more of a lighthearted redux of Saturday night’s episode – a story I enjoyed, even though the Vikings were essentially an irrelevance, there to provide historical context for certain things to happen. You will find assorted whining about historical detail, but this reflects what I’ve read online, rather than the way I actually feel about it personally. Seriously, complaining about period detail in Doctor Who is like whinging about the mixture of predatory and preyed-upon animals that populate the Jingly Jangly Jungle in Raa Raa the Noisy Lion. Don’t worry about it. Just enjoy the story, or don’t.

Besides, this is the way it went down, isn’t it? Right?

 

SCENE ONE

[The Doctor and Clara are being frogmarched into a Viking settlement. The Doctor is wearing Patrick Troughton’s trousers. Clara is wearing the same spacesuit she wore the last time she faced off against evil spiders.]

CLARA: But they’ve got horns. Vikings didn’t have horns, except when they’d been away from their wives a really long time.

DOCTOR: And you call yourself a teacher. Why’d you think they raided the monasteries?

CLARA: I’m just saying, we’re two days’ boat ride from the TARDIS and I can understand everything they’re saying. Why is the translation circuit still working?

DOCTOR: That’s the way the TARDIS works. Wide radius of effectiveness.

CLARA: Don’t give me that. By that rationale you’d have whole countries of people who could suddenly understand everything in other languages every time you parked. GCSE French lessons would be a nightmare.

DOCTOR: Must be that range extender I got on Ebay. More powerful than I thought. Look. Don’t mess with it. It suits the needs of the writers, it has never been consistent and it probably doesn’t matter.

VIKING: Grrr. [Snaps Doctor’s sunglasses.]

DOCTOR: I feel as though you’ve just killed an old friend.

CLARA: No, he’s killed a new friend that none of us really liked and everyone hoped you would eventually realise was a bad influence.

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[Ashildr comes out of a doorway, singing ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’, accompanied by random chickens.]

CLARA: Ooh look! It’s Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones!

DOCTOR: Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones? She’s in this week’s episode?

CLARA: Yes. Did you know she was in Game of Thrones?

DOCTOR: I did. But they don’t like to go on about it or anything.

CLARA: Does this explain the rough and ready quasi-historical setting?

DOCTOR: Yes, I think that was the intention.

CLARA: And this is the part where you dazzle them with a plastic toy.

[The Doctor reaches for his yo-yo, when – ]

WEIRD SKY GOD: BOO!

[There is a Star Trek special effect and half the men in the village disappear, along with Ashildr and Clara.]

 

SCENE TWO

[Spaceship corridor.]

CLARA: Ooh, look. A door. I bet we could-

VIKING: A moving wall! Quick! Push against it!

CLARA: Guys? There’s a door.

VIKING: Push! Push, we can brace it!

ASHILDR: THERE’S A BLOODY DOOR!

VIKING: If I could just…reach…my Viking…utility belt…

CLARA: Oh, screw it. Darwin was right.

[There is a close-up of a propellor, and then – ]

WEIRD SKY GOD / FAKE ODIN: Behold! I’m drinking Warrior Juice!

ASHILDR: Dude. Seriously kinky.

CLARA: I don’t think this ever happened on Game of Thrones.

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SCENE THREE

[Later. A recovering Clara is sitting in a barn, drinking ale. The Doctor is flipping through his diary.]

DOCTOR: I really can’t believe some of the stuff I wrote in this when I was younger. Listen to this: “Thursday. Dear Diary. I’m beginning to think that maybe Jack likes me, but – ”

CLARA: I still can’t believe they have horns.

DOCTOR: Oh, shut up. It doesn’t matter. You think people watch us because they want historical accuracy? The Robin Hood story we did was absolutely full of anachronisms. And A Town Called Mercy was like walking into a movie from the fifties. What we really should be worrying about is what we’re going to do when the Mire show up.

NOLLARR: We care not. We have lived full and epic lives. We shall die honourably on the blood-soaked battlefield, and WE SHALL BE TAKEN TO THE MIGHTY HALLS OF VALHALLAAAAAA!!!!!

VIKINGS: VALHALLAAAAAAAAAA!!!

DOCTOR: I’ll admit that this grates after a while.

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SCENE FOUR

[The Doctor is addressing a line of blacksmiths, farmers and generally weedy men. There are probably chickens.]

DOCTOR: Right, you lot! This is the comic relief bit, so I’m renaming you all. [He travels along the line, pointing as he goes.] You: amusing pop culture reference number one. You: amusing pop culture reference number two. You –

LOFTY: Can we have swords now?

DOCTOR: Oh well, what harm can it do?

 

SCENE FIVE

[Back in the barn. Everyone’s looking very glum.]

DOCTOR: Oh, thou bounteous mammary gland. I shall die in torment ere I see thee again. Break, heart, I prithee, break.

CLARA: This totally wasn’t what happened the last time you spoke baby.

DOCTOR: It’s a different period, Clara. They all speak like they’re in epic costume dramas. Even the kids.

CLARA: By epic costume dramas, you mean Game of Thrones.

ASHILDR: I was in Game of Thrones.

CLARA: Really? You were in Game of Thrones?

DOCTOR: Hang on. The baby’s given me an idea. We use the eels.

CLARA: You mean the electric eels that are native to the Amazon Basin, thousands of miles from anywhere the Vikings have pillaged?

DOCTOR: Maybe they were given them as a present. It’s a stretch, but it’s not impossible.

CLARA: They’re not even eels! They’re more like catfish!

DOCTOR: And you’re a whining like a puppy that just had to sit through The Twin Dilemma. Now, go and bond with the girl from Game of Thrones. I need to practice my Pertwee references.

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SCENE SIX

[Banqueting hall. The Mire have beamed down, set phasers to kill and are looking menacing, or would if we could see behind those helmets.]

CLARA: Ashildr. You set?

ASHILDR: Oh, I’d never have had to do this on Game of Thrones.

FAKE ODIN: YOU WILL DIE IN YOUR BEDS!

DOCTOR: Smithers! Release the hounds! And fire the electric eels we’re not supposed to have!

[The eels do their magic, and the Mire drop like flies. Then a giant CG snake appears, juxtaposed with the great big puppet thing.]

CLARA: That’s rubbish.

DOCTOR: It’s better than the one in Kinda.

CLARA: Anyway, here’s your MP4. I’ve added the Benny Hill theme.

DOCTOR: That was quick. Has it occurred to you that about half our audience have probably heard the Benny Hill theme on that rave video doing the rounds on YouTube, without having a clue who Benny Hill is?

CLARA: We should probably keep it that way, shouldn’t we?

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SCENE SEVEN

[The barn. A party is in full swing and has been for about half an hour. The Doctor is leading a conga round the room.]

DOCTOR: Lofty! Crack open another cask. Then I’m going to play you all a little song I know, called Stairway-

CLARA: Hang on. Has anyone seen Ashildr?

DOCTOR: Bollocks. She’s still wearing the helmet.

[They dart over and remove the helmet, whereupon Ashildr collapses to the floor, dead.]

DOCTOR: Oh dear.

NOLLARR: Oh, my sweet daughter.

CLARA: I once saw this exact same thing happen in a hair salon.

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SCENE EIGHT

[The Doctor and Clara, brooding over Ashildr’s corpse.]

DOCTOR: All this time, and I still can’t figure out why I look like Peter Capaldi. It just makes no sense. Why couldn’t I look like Tom Hardy? Or George Clooney? Christ, even Jeremy Renner would do.

CLARA: I think they wanted you as a grumpy father figure again. It’s one of those full circle things.

DOCTOR: You know what? I’m a Time Lord. I can fix this. DO YOU HEAR ME? I SAID I CAN FIX IT! AND I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK! I’M NOT LISTENING, DO YOU HEAR? DID YOU HEAR ME SAY I’M NOT LISTENING? I AM TALKING, BUT I’M NOT LISTENING! YOU CAN’T HURT ME ANYMORE! I…HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF…YOU!

CLARA: Do you realise you’re talking to thin air?

DOCTOR: To everyone else, it’s thin air. To me, it’s –

CLARA: Thin air.

[The Doctor does something clever, and Ashildr takes a big breath the way that revived corpses always do in films, unless they’ve been reanimated as zombies.]

DOCTOR: Right, we’re off before the implications of all this sink in. One thing, Game of Thrones girl: take this.

ASHILDR: What is it?

DOCTOR: The number of a friend of mine. He’s in a similar spot, and he’ll help you out.

ASHILDR: Ooh, thank you.

DOCTOR: You’re very welcome. Just – well, keep him away from your chickens.

[Roll credits.]

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