Doctor Who: The Ghost Monument
October 14, 2018 11:53 AM - Season 11, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Still reeling from their first encounter, can the Doctor and her new friends stay alive long enough in a hostile alien environment to solve the mystery of Desolation? And just who are Angstrom and Epzo?
posted by fearfulsymmetry (79 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Custard Creme
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:56 AM on October 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


Love the intro, love the new TARDIS interior.
posted by Pendragon at 12:07 PM on October 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


A lot of plants for a planet with no lifeforms apart from microbes… that bit of pedantry aside, I liked the new titles, I liked the idea of the intergalactic rally, I’m still not sure about the companions.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 1:20 PM on October 14, 2018


Well this was all over the place. We went directly to sad, giving-up doctor, then tardis-ex-machina. And what the shit was that about timeless child? If this ends up being an arc about the doctor having a kid and they make this doctor be the one to explore that. Well. I might get violent.
Like the new tardis tho, very alien, quite old school, much custard creme!
posted by Iteki at 1:30 PM on October 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


Things I liked:

The start, with Graham being surprisingly resourceful when suddenly finding himself on a spaceship. And the Doctor and Yaz on another spaceship with several long tracking shots circling around them as they figure out how to crash land. Those shots were good.
Not knowing what was going on was good, and then as the setup was revealed, the two competitors not being able to kill or sabotage each other was an interesting touch. And the Ghost Monument being the Tardis, of course.
A lot of the landscape shots were lovely. They shot this in South Africa if I read the credits correctly.
Liked the tardis design.
Liked that the Stenza got a mention. Perhaps they'll keep cropping up, and we'll meet Tim Shaw again in the finale (he teleported home while melting, perhaps he got to fix himself).

Things I'm not sure about:

When Ryan does his Call of Duty bit, had his dyspraxia suddenly disappeared? Or does it not work like that? I'm not sure if thats me not understanding the condition, or the writers only remembering about it when it suits them.
The decision to finish as joint winners: it seems like a scene was edited out here or something. Mr never-trust-anyone-not-even-your-mum was obviously due for a turnaround at some point, and all the building blocks for the turnaround were there, but it just suddenly happened off-screen. Would have been interesting to actually see the two contestants reach that decision. And the writers aren't afraid to hit us over the head with some obvious character moments so why not do it with that one? Just seems like something was missing there. I did like the bit where he threatens the racemaster, like he's still grumpy af but being grumpy as part of a team now.
When they're at the end, as mentioned above the doctor is suddenly despondent. Like we'd already established that the tardis was disappearing and re-appearing at that point, so as a viewer I didn't understand why it not being there was such a problem. If they'd shown us just missing it and it disappearing or something it would have made more sense. But it not being there just meant it was probably due along soon. And indeed it was. So why all the anguish.

Something I'd like to discuss:

The guns thing. As a long time viewer I know the doctor's not keen on guns - Tennants last episode had some great plot points around that. But what exactly is the philosophy behind that? Because, say, in this episode, The Doctor looks down on Ryan for using a gun but then is quite happy to EMP all the robots and incinerate a load of apparently sentient cloth-beings in acetylene. So the guns thing can't be about pacifism exactly. It is more about the personal taste of the doctor? Or some preference for cleverness? If a gun got used in a particularly clever way would that then make it OK again? Obviously on the wall of the writers room there's a note saying 'NB: Doctor does not like or use guns'. But is there anything more to it than that?
posted by memebake at 2:42 PM on October 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


Shocked at not a single reference to Venusian Aikido yet
posted by hobgadling at 4:20 PM on October 14, 2018 [8 favorites]


what the shit was that about timeless child? If this ends up being an arc about the doctor having a kid and they make this doctor be the one to explore that. Well. I might get violent.
That's the bit I am stuck on, too.

Obviously, it has to be this season's long arc/mythology-building set up, which... Ugh. Feels early. Not even sure I wanted that ever. We're like a couple of hours out of the RTD/Moffat years. Do we have to apply their bag of tricks already?

I sort of expect the Doctor will be the Timeless Child. Which, okay, the Doctor's childhood is a mostly untapped bit of backstory and may as well give 13 something substantial to work with. But holy shit, is this going to be another Written in the Stars, The Most Important Person Ever thing? Because by Grabthar's Hammer, I am not feeling that.

I hadn't even thought of the possibility that it would be about the Doctor having a kid. That seems less likely somehow, but I share your revulsion.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:22 PM on October 14, 2018 [12 favorites]


The Doctor has previously said that he had been a father, though he also said his family were lost to the Time War, IIRC. His granddaughter was her first companion, after all. And Jenny might still be out there somewhere.

I sort of expect the Doctor will be the Timeless Child.

That was my feeling too.
posted by homunculus at 7:14 PM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


It felt a bit uneven to me, but it was pretty much a vehicle to a) Get back to the TARDIS, and b) Estabish the long theme of the Timeless Child. But, I have no idea if BBC America chopped out anything that might have helped weld it together better (and, great jeebus, does any network play more commercials than BBCA?)

I would really like them to write the Doctor a little less frantic and hyper. There were moments I felt like they were doing an old Tennant script. This doctor hasn’t found her own voice as of yet, I feel.

I really loved the emotions the Doctor expressed to the TARDIS when they are reunited. There was a true sense of connection and gentleness expressed there. Very touching.

Love the new interior, though I was hoping for a less gadgety console. Still, pretty cool.

One odd point...The sunglasses she pulled from her coat and gave to the old guy (sorry...haven’t gotten the names down yet) The Doctor said they belonged to...someone. It was obvious she was saying she had them from a past life/encounter. But, unless they were in Capalidi’s jacket when the regeneration happened (and they were obviously women’s frames, so I doubt it, unless I missed something in Capaldi’s last episode) there’s no way she could have had them, since her current wardrobe was from the charity shop.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:43 PM on October 14, 2018 [2 favorites]




The sunglasses she pulled from her coat and gave to the old guy... It was obvious she was saying she had them from a past life/encounter. But, unless they were in Capalidi’s jacket when the regeneration happened (and they were obviously women’s frames

I think those might be River's sunglasses.
posted by homunculus at 12:00 AM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


She said the glasses either belonged to Pythagoras or Audrey Hepburn.
posted by Pendragon at 12:01 AM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think those might be River's sunglasses.

They don't look the same.
posted by Pendragon at 12:10 AM on October 15, 2018


Oh, you're right. Never mind.
posted by homunculus at 12:14 AM on October 15, 2018


I am a blackbelt in Venusian Feng shui
posted by memebake at 1:16 AM on October 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


Hunger Games much (yes I know its history as well :-) )
posted by Lesium at 2:46 AM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Bit of an error to burn all that sentient Manchester, chuck.
posted by hawthorne at 6:28 AM on October 15, 2018


Yeah so I still like the Doctor, and am reasonably happy with the companions, but I think this episode really highlights the problems with too many companions. This was a busy story that seemed to want to do a lot and didn't really accomplish much of it. The central race never felt urgent, and the failure of the two sole surviving racers to actually really actively compete rather undersold the dead heat conclusion (and honestly, given they had to share a boat, it didn't feel obvious how they could race separately anyway!)

The part where they threatened the hologram guy didn't feel remotely plausible, given they had already admitted to having run out of fuel.

Some of what felt like gags just ended up odd, the whole call of duty scene was just dumb and tonally at odds with the rest of the episode. Having Ryan run out, then just run away again, completely undermined any threat we were meant to feel from the robots, not that they had much. I don't mind too much that the bad guys can't hit, but it felt super egregious in this episode, with the doctors method for avoiding the robots was literally not running in a straight line.

I also didn't really get the psychic bandages scene, it felt really out of nowhere?

I'm also amused that despite multiple claims that all the episodes were going to be standalone and there would be no season arc, this seems to not be the case at all so far, with the bad guys now cropping up in two episodes, and whatever this timeless child thing turns out to be.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 6:50 AM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


She said the glasses either belonged to Pythagoras or Audrey Hepburn.

Right. So...How did they come to be in her charity shop coat? It just seems like an odd mistake to make.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:36 AM on October 15, 2018


I just figured it was a random thing in 12's coat pockets and she transferred the contents of that coat to the new one. Lots of things bothered me more than the origin of the sunglasses.

I, too, thought the Timeless Child was a reference to the Doctor herself, but I don't think I want any more of the Doctor's origins.

Both of the first two episodes have been B-/C+ material, and I feel like this season is getting off to a shaky start, but that's largely overcome by just how delightful Whittaker is in the role and how refreshing it is to have a female Doctor for a change. It really makes this creaky old show feel fresh again.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:27 AM on October 15, 2018


I just figured it was a random thing in 12's coat pockets and she transferred the contents of that coat to the new one.
This would make sense, except that in the last episode, while still wearing 12's coat, she rifled through its pockets and groused, "AH! Empty pockets! I hate empty pockets!!"
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:31 AM on October 15, 2018


Susan Lynch, who played Angstrom... where do I know her from? I can read her iMDb, same as anyone, but nothing there is jumping out. And yet, I know her face, and she must have been a semi-noteworthy character in something I liked.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:32 AM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


The episode addresses the Doctor's pockets. She says, just before Graham complains about the sand in his eyes, "Oh, I forgot I put stuff in these pockets."
posted by painquale at 8:33 AM on October 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


Not to get stuck on a minor point, but that doesn't help the continuity. She checked her pockets on-camera and complained loudly nothing was in them. Then later, she was carrying personal items, without having been to the TARDIS in the interim. That the script mentioned she put stuff into her pockets she had no way of having on her in the first place does not really help.

Their timeline is:
1) She complains loudly she has nothing in her pockets, while away from the TARDIS with no other stuff or access to other stuff.
2) She moves this stuff she doesn't have/can't get to her new coat.
3) She produces the stuff out of her new coat.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:52 AM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Susan Lynch, who played Angstrom... where do I know her from? I can read her iMDb, same as anyone, but nothing there is jumping out. And yet, I know her face, and she must have been a semi-noteworthy character in something I liked.

I've seen her in a lot of things, most notably Nora and most recently Killing Eve. She has a very distinctive face and presence, so she leaves an impression, even in minor roles.
posted by homunculus at 9:12 AM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


She was disoriented from regenerating and falling into the train while complaining that her pockets were empty.

Alternatively, she is still disoriented, those sunglasses were just random sunglasses in the pocket of the charity shop coat, and she was confused.

Alternatively, Pythagoras's sunglasses really did end up in that charity shop coat pocket! Maybe it's just a coincidence, or maybe it's because the Doctor went back in time and placed them there later.

Alternatively, a wizard did it.

Everybody wins!
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 9:37 AM on October 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


She checked pockets, but did she check ALL the pockets !!!

Yes, I agree it's weird...
posted by Pendragon at 9:37 AM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Ohh, I've got another one! While she checked the pockets, she didn't consider the sunglasses important, and therefore considered the pockets to be "empty".
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 9:39 AM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Does the BBC have an equivalent of the Marvel No-Prize?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:41 AM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I believe you become a BBC4 showrunner....
posted by Mogur at 10:11 AM on October 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


She was making a funny time travel joke (to people who had no idea she was a time traveller).
posted by dng at 11:30 AM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


i dunno why it's such a stretch for you all to consider that between having empty pockets when she first got the clothes to where they got back to the warehouse to build the transporter, that she randomly grabbed stuff either also at the charity shop or on the way and put them in her pockets.
posted by numaner at 11:54 AM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


i dunno why it's such a stretch for you all to consider that between having empty pockets when she first got the clothes to where they got back to the warehouse to build the transporter, that she randomly grabbed stuff either also at the charity shop or on the way and put them in her pockets.
Because the "stuff" she has later is a pair of sunglasses that she says came from either Pythagoras or Audrey Hepburn and it seems exceedingly unlikely that she ran into either at or on the way to or from a charity shop in Sheffield in 2018. She seems to be describing them as something she picked up on an earlier adventure.

She specifically says she has nothing in her pockets. She has no other luggage and nothing in her hands. Later, she has stuff from her old life despite there being nowhere she could have gotten it from. This is indeed, a stretch.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:07 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


If the argument being made is "Weird stuff happens on a sci-fi show and there may be an offscreen explanation," okay, sure. Or if the argument is "It hardly matters" that is also quite reasonable. I'm cool with either of those. But there was definitely some crap continuity control in play in any case.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:12 PM on October 15, 2018


she probably threw in that bit about the glasses belonging to Pythagoras or Audrey Hepburn for fun. the doctor lies. like all the time.
posted by numaner at 12:15 PM on October 15, 2018 [13 favorites]


I also didn't really get the psychic bandages scene, it felt really out of nowhere?

they're creatures of destruction the scientist on the planet made for the Stenza, they were all over the place lying dormant until night time.
posted by numaner at 12:16 PM on October 15, 2018


I am wary of authorial tics after years of Enemies Who Repeat Catchphrases and Can't Be Reasoned With(tm), so I wonder if the new thing is Monsters That Look Ridiculous to Adults, But Would Give a 5 Year Old a Complex(tm). IDK, I'd have been freaked out by Tim Shaw's toothface and the strangly scarves.

It's early to call it, so this is not a serious calling-it.
posted by cage and aquarium at 1:08 PM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


There was nothing in the jacket pockets! Maybe they were in the trousers?
posted by Karmakaze at 1:35 PM on October 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


Jodie Whittaker is wonderful in these first two episodes. Although she's still refining her performance, she already feels definitively the Doctor, much faster than Tennant or Capaldi gelled for me. I did love me some grumpy Twelve, but it's nice to have a Doctor who's casually empathetic and warm without pulling teeth.

I also enjoy that the show looks more sumptuous and detailed than it ever has, but despite some great still shots I did not get the direction choices for this episode. The story is (half-assedly) promoting the Importance of Teamwork when half the time you don't even see characters in the frame with each other because of all the Les Mis-style extreme close-ups.

Yaz/Ryan/Graham also felt more generic than last week. Getting to know a Doctor, three new companions, and two guest stars in one episode is too much -- Yaz had almost nothing to do, even though she was one of the more proactive characters last week. I'm baffled there were obvious narrative parallels between the two contestants/Ryan and Graham/team TARDIS as a whole all learning to work together, and yet it was all just left there on the table? So strange.

(When Graham asked what Grace would say, my immediate thought was, "I dunno, but probably something more interesting than what you're saying right now!" I'm sorry, but killing off an interesting black female character the episode you introduce your new white lady Doctor is such Peak 2018 White Feminism and I'm not going to stop being mad/tired about it just because it happened last episode.)

A friend of mine proposed that this episode would have been better with just team TARDIS, and I think they're right -- imagine how much higher the stakes would be if it was a trial-by-fire story about four people who don't know each other that well trying to survive on a mysterious death planet, without the rally plotline and characters in the way? I really liked Angstrom's actress, but they could have used her in another story.
posted by bettafish at 3:51 PM on October 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


Yeah, the bulk of this episode did not work for me either. I don't think we learned anything new about the companions, and I don't think the companions gained any great insights on/devotion to the Doctor that they didn't already have from her actions in the premiere, so it felt like just an entire hour of filler before the only important bit -- the reveal of the new TARDIS design. I'm still liking Whitaker's Doctor, but, I imagine they could have just as easily had the episode open with the TARDIS materializing around the four of them floating in space and gotten on with whatever the next detour on returning to Earth than to have a 2nd TARDIS-less episode.

I'm not sure about the new design yet - though I don't think I ever love the new one at first sight, I was especially worried at the entrance because it seemed extremely dark (lighting-wise), because dark scenes look pretty murky on my tv, and the combo of a dark set and most shows' seeming inability/unwillingness to light black people properly wouldn't bode well for Ryan, but I guess there was enough glowy orange at the control center that it shouldn't be too bad. All those crystals were giving me a real 'Fortress of Solitude' vibe though.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:53 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Hmm, I agree with some of the comments here. I really like the idea of multiple companions, but I now realise that that in combination with giving story time to any episodic characters makes for a somewhat more chaotic and blander character development. I really did not care and had no interest in the two contestants.

I'm hoping from next episode we get to see more of the companions and the Doctor working together as a team.
posted by liquorice at 5:06 PM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


I thought this was a strong episode - well paced (it covered a huge amount of ground without feeling too rushed) and well written.

I loved the little throw backs to 70s doctor who - the new titles are great, as was the interplay between the multiple companions. And the return of Venusian Aikido made me smile. I even like the dubstep drop in the new theme.

The creepy fabric monsters were awesome but the scenes with the killer robots were a low point. The gunplay was badly staged and their marksmanship would make a stormtrooper blush with shame. Also, that stuff about the lost child or whatever seemed crudely shoehorned in, the swirling fabric would have been scarier if it didn't talk.
posted by AndrewStephens at 6:23 PM on October 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Really enjoying the aggressively retro theme tune. This plot wasn't amazingly gripping but I enjoyed the characters and am totally sold on the new Doctor. Peter Capaldi was the only Doctor I liked instantly before, because I really liked the actor, but I had no opinion on Jodie Whitaker and she's totally nailed it straight away.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:15 AM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I agree that the concepts of this episode - two opposing competitors at the end of a galaxy-spanning death-race, alternatively friends and enemies, and a planet composed entirely of automated weapons tech - were pretty interesting, but the execution wasn't always great (the water was never a threat even when traversing dripping tunnels, the "sniper-bots" had terrible aim).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:18 AM on October 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


Tom Baker’s Doctor was always pulling convenient stuff out of his apparently bottomless pockets; it feels to me like that’s going to be a thing for this Doctor too.
posted by EarBucket at 3:55 AM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have bought custard cremes because I am, apparently, still a colossal nerd
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:31 AM on October 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


I didn't have a problem with a less confident Doctor so soon after her regeneration. In fact, I'm surprised that the companions had so much confidence in her given that someone important to them died during their last adventure. Of any group of companions, I would think these would be more suspicious of the Doctor.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 6:10 AM on October 16, 2018


oh yeah the custard cream thing confused me because some of you say "creme" even though it's spelled "cream" officially, and "creme" is definitely not a solid thing in america, and neither is "cream"; in america we just call those "cookies", unless it's a specific thing like oreo, and the one in the show is not something that has a specific name. i do remember the Doctor liking custardy things (#11 eating it by the spoon in young Amy Pond's house), though, so i'm glad this is a continuation of that. but i like learning more about british culture in this very british show.
posted by numaner at 12:16 PM on October 16, 2018


We are very good at biscuits in Britain (cookies are available, but are a specific subset).
I think it's because a lot of biscuit types became popular quite a while ago so they have since become generic.

Oddly, I don't think custard creams and custard are very similar.
They are basically like an anaemic bourbon.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:09 PM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


The closest American equivalents to custard creams are vanilla sandwich creme cookies.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 2:04 PM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Just on the sunglasses thing, here are the subtitles from BBC iPlayer for that exchange:

DOCTOR: Oh! I forgot I put stuff in these pockets.
GRAHAM: All this sand is getting in my eyes something rotten.
DOCTOR: Want to borrow my shades?
GRAHAM: Oh, ta.
DOCTOR: Like an old pair of mine. I say mine, can't remember who I borrowed them off now. It was either Audrey Hepburn or Pythagoras.

So she's saying the sunglasses she gives to Graham aren't the actual ones she borrowed, they're only like them. So no need for the Doctor to get back to the TARDIS in the interim to collect them.

It is a weird conversation though, and it's noticeable that for the dialogue above, up to and including "I say mine", you can't see the lips of whoever is speaking. I wonder whether they only realised after they'd got back from South Africa that Graham couldn't have had the time-travelling sunglasses that he's wearing in a significant proportion of the footage, and that the easiest solution was to overdub some new dialogue to explain them away.
posted by Beverley Westwood at 4:00 PM on October 16, 2018 [14 favorites]


Also, could a mod please change the show description on this page? Thank you.
posted by Beverley Westwood at 4:02 PM on October 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


[Done; "his" out, "their" in.]
posted by cortex at 5:22 PM on October 16, 2018 [11 favorites]


I know part of the point of discussing shows is to be nit-picky, but I think Chibnall is going for something different here. Moffat thrived on complicated plots that would have people picking apart the little details and looking for clues (despite the fact that he was less leaving a trail of crumbs and more scattering birdseed at random). But Chibbers' show feels more like a kids' show that adults can enjoy if they're not too uptight. I love that JW's Doctor just straight-up tells you the moral of the story. I love that the villains are "scary" and the companions are a little at a loss for words. I have a good feeling about this season. There are definitely things that could knock it off the rails, but do we really have to anticipate that of course it will turn out to be terrible? (Maybe we do, we are Doctor Who fans on the internet)
posted by rikschell at 8:30 PM on October 16, 2018 [12 favorites]


So, I really liked our side characters stories, I connected with Angstrom and like her contrast to her competitor . But, the whole thing felt rushed and at the expense of our compainion set. I feel like I need to know more especially about Yaz who at the moment is just sort of around and nice .

I love the new Doctor, though I felt her moment of dispair at the end just felt out of character too fast and there for suspense purposes only.

I liked the gun scene. It made me laugh. It silly humor was worth it to me.

I've kind of gotten use to the very tiny details mattering, and then the sunglasses and the coordination issues, no coordination issues bothers me. The plants not being life, the mentioning that the air is toxic but them all breathing just fine, sort of made me think and this is for suspense instead of it being the world. So basically, I've had trouble being immersed in the storyline, I stay as the TV observer instead of really being invested this time around.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:31 PM on October 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's occured to me that this episode would have worked much better with more contestants. While this makes the episode a bit busier, more contestants allows it to be more a race, and, more importantly, makes a deadly planet actually feel deadly. With some extras, you can get some killed by the water, the robots and the psychic bandages. It would have given a sense of urgency and maybe made the final two survivors teaming up with the companions make more sense. You could cut the boat scene entirely, as it added nothing, maybe just make everyone have to cross the stream over a wobbly pass. As it was, it was a deadly planet that didn't kill anyone, and made the race feel like an amble.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:08 AM on October 17, 2018 [11 favorites]


I got a definite Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy vibe at the beginning of this episode. First, they're miraculously plucked from deep space death by a random starship, then we find they've had Babelfish-style universal translators implanted in their necks.

It's interesting to see these Douglas Adams ideas adopted with a straight face by the very medium he was using them to parody.
posted by Paul Slade at 1:35 AM on October 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


I didn't like this very much. It feels like they're still bedding down Whittaker's Doctor, and for that matter The Doctor in general - there's some very obvious whimsy/seriousness discord that seem written for a Matt Smith, while Whittaker's pushing the two very far apart in her portrayal. Whittaker's pushing the whimsy on her own, guys, you can dial it back a bit in the writing.

I think this episode needed to get rid of the race. We don't really get an emotional core and part of it is we don't have time. There's a big theme of 'we're stronger together' that doesn't mesh with the conflict of 'how do we cross this planet' or the goal of 'reuniting the Doctor and the Tardis'. I think it would have been a lot stronger if they'd leaned harder on the abandoned settlements to drive the plot, and make the emotional core 'we survive the unknown together' because then you can talk about what the Tardis means to the Doctor as part of that. Also have to change the hazards a bit: something about some kind of catastrophic change, and instead of uniting they divided and fought over the spoils. Something real on the nose.

It's fine for the show to be more appropriate for children, but that doesn't mean you can't write the thing properly. There's a lot of kids shows that still work for adults; The Last Airbender (The Legend of Aang for the Brits) worked because even though the plots were simpler the emotional core was still there most of the time, and they could still have a pretty decent range.

Also I'm annoyed that they don't spell out for the new people that the Doctor's thing is called the Tardis because she only ever refers to it as 'my tardis' and it's a made up word, how are people supposed to know it's not 'mitartis' or something.
posted by Merus at 4:45 AM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's interesting to see these Douglas Adams ideas adopted with a straight face by the very medium he was using them to parody.

Hmm, I dont know about that. Universal translators are pretty rife in sci-fi, its hard to have any dialogue otherwise. The unique thing about Douglas Adam's Babelfish was that it was a natural fish that just so happened to feed off brainwaves and as a side effect act as a universal translator. Something so mind bogglingly useful and unlikely that it represented final and clinching proof of the non-existince of God.
posted by memebake at 6:20 AM on October 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


It's interesting to see these Douglas Adams ideas adopted with a straight face by the very medium he was using them to parody.

This isn't exactly fresh territory for Dr Who -- Capaldi's last season, using a university professor as cover, was a riff on Professor Chronitis. (Which is self referential as Adams lifted the character from one of his un-filmed Dr Who scripts)
posted by nathan_teske at 8:39 AM on October 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


> "It's interesting to see these Douglas Adams ideas adopted with a straight face by the very medium he was using them to parody."

Eh, it's not like the Doctor Who episodes written by Douglas Adams stuck to cold hard science. ("The tyrant Queen Xanxia and the Captain use the hollow planet Zanak as a spaceship that surrounds smaller planets, including Calufrax, the second segment of the powerful Key to Time in disguise, to plunder the planets' resources that help keep Xanxia alive.")
posted by kyrademon at 9:01 AM on October 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


Re: about the doctor's kid, we know he has one. In S04e06 of the 2005 series, titled "The Doctor's Daughter." Jenny. The Doctor thought Jenny died, and sent her corpse off into space in the rocket for her funeral after he assumes the cloning couldn't duplicate regeneration. Then we the viewer get to see that she does start to regenerate.

And yeah, she's not a traditional daughter in that she was quasi cloned from him and became a functional being in a minute, but it's his DNA and he eventually accepted her.

A number of times (I can't remember specifics) I've thought that "This will be the episode that has Jenny's reincarnation..." only to be disappointed. The character evolution of River Song quickly got icky enough that I was so glad that this was not Jenny.

Beyond the obvious, last-seen-alive, daughter Jenny, I seem to recall that he mentioned having kids that had died... on a quick web search, it seems that again in the 2005 series, episode Fear Her (s02e11), the Doctor said he had kids, "sons or daughters, or both." So yeah, beyond Jenny, there's mistaken death to allow the timeless child to be of the Doctor's line. (cite search: the Doctor had, in the Tenth Doctor's own words, been "a dad").

But hopefully not.

I also agree that it feels cheap and ugly if they waited 7 seasons after Jenny's intro for the first female incarnation to have the Doctor explore parenthood on screen beyond one episode. I'm hoping the timeless child to be the Doctor (discovering part of themself?), the Master/Mistress, or something new entirely as opposed to a child for the female doctor.

Beyond that, I'm liking this season for looking like it's going to keep multiple companions. It feels a bit less ... icky for the thousand year old doctor hanging out alone with the single member of the opposite sex of an alien race that looks remarkably similar. I liked the very clearly non-romantic relationship started with Donna, even if I didn't like Donna so much. Once Rory joined in with Amy that rounded things out nicely and kept things less creepy. Especially given the age of Amy when she first met the Doctor.

These three companions seem like a good set. After s11e01 I thought Graham was a bad fit - he was an outright dick to Ryan at many points. In S11e02 he was less disparaging and more adventurous/going with the flow as is needed to survive time with the Doctor.
posted by nobeagle at 2:37 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Sorry, homunculus - somehow I missed you directly mentioning/linking Jenny.
posted by nobeagle at 2:40 PM on October 18, 2018


Surely the “timeless child” is his abandoned granddaughter Susan, yes?
posted by EarBucket at 8:12 PM on October 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


On the one hand, I would much prefer the Timeless Child to be the Doctor than a child of hers, for all the reasons outlined above.

On the other, if it is her, didn’t we already play with this “is the Doctor [ominous sounding title]?” with the Hybrid, a mere two seasons ago?
posted by bettafish at 8:40 PM on October 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


I would love it if the Timeless Child just turned out to be some random kid who lost his watch like five thousand years ago and the story blew up into some massive legendary thing.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:51 AM on October 19, 2018 [10 favorites]


Interesting that the universal translator was another blinky-lighted non-consensual implant.
posted by hawthorne at 6:20 AM on October 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


I was a tad confused when the racers claimed the Doctor and company as "bonuses". So, if I'm understanding it right, the racers picked up our heroes out of mercy and then (trying to deny it was mercy that motivated them) they were trying to claim them as "bonus" helpers, like when a competition reality show brings in extra assistants for the contestants as a reward for beating some challenge. Was that what the "bonus" thing was about?

I liked this one fine, although my girlfriend was awful snarky about what she called the "dirty rag monsters." I did think the Call of Duty bit was unfortunate but otherwise the new companions all seem OK with Graham standing out the most this time. This Doctor seems fine so far, although if "giving in prematurely to despair" is going to be an ongoing thing that could get old fast. It has been said that the Doctor is basically always the same character but the actor playing him makes all the difference, but, gender aside, this Doctor does seem like a definite departure from the last. She does have a real Tennant/Smith vibe, much more frantic and empathetic than Capaldi. This is definitely not a Doctor who needs flash cards to remember how to show appropriate emotion.

I wonder if this version of the Doctor will have the capacity for romance, or if they won't go there. They've backed off on romance a lot since the Tennant era, but it hasn't totally gone away. (Even Capaldi's Doctor still got swoony for River Song.) Who would THIS Doctor flirt with?

I'm kind of hoping we'll get some sort of Capaldi cameo, like we had for Matt Smith early in Capaldi's run. That served to kind of pass the torch, and this time we've got a new Doctor and a new Tardis and no carry-over companions, so it'd be nice to have SOMETHING as a call-back.

It is a weird conversation though, and it's noticeable that for the dialogue above, up to and including "I say mine", you can't see the lips of whoever is speaking.

There was another scene where they were all walking down a corridor and one of the guys, Graham or Ryan (I think it was Graham), was at the back throwing up his hands like he was making some despairing wisecrack, but there was no dialogue there.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:33 PM on October 20, 2018


Re: bonuses—they thought it was a bonus challenge within the Rally. How many of these people floating in space can you scoop up on your way to the planet? They lose interest the moment they realize the Doctor and company aren’t part of the race.
posted by EarBucket at 5:38 PM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


I don’t care, I LOVE that the Doctor keeps talking about pockets. Pander to me more, Chibnall.

Previous NuWho Doctors have talked mournfully about their family, more than 2 through 8, iirc, so I’m fine with the Timeless Child being Susan, her parent, Jenny, or the Doctor herself. If they hadn’t showed the Doctor expressing his paternal side, I’d be bothered by making this Doctor express her maternal side, yeah. But they did, so I’m not bothered. (I am still salty about Donna’s exit, though. Sigh.) Of course, the Timeless Child could also be the TARDIS herself, what with the “Come to Daddy, er, Mummy” bit, which I liked, because it would be weird for the Doctor to NOT be referencing herself as male at this point. Has the Doctor seen herself yet? I assume there was a mirror at the charity shop, but I still want a scene where she bemoans not being ginger still.

I liked the episode. I love the new interior. I love the little nods to the original series. I love that the show remembered that it’s for children. And I’m still all glowy that there might be a little girl hiding behind a sofa somewhere, dreaming that someday SHE will be the Doctor. Like I said, pander to me more.
posted by Ruki at 11:21 PM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


I agree with a lot of the comments here.

Misc. notes:
- During the new intro, I said, "Um, it looks like ... female genitalia," and my husband said, "It looks like a uterus." (Please tell me we're not the only ones.)
- So far, we're yelling a lot of horror-movie-audience things at the TV, e.g., in the first episode, "Don't TOUCH that!" and "What are you doing?! Don't go TOWARD it!" and this time, "Why are you running where the crashing ship is GOING?!" (I also said to the screen, "Snap your fingers!" when the Doctor didn't have a TARDIS key. Did Capaldi's Doctor do this? I forgot.)
- I wish the companions were still just called "companions."
- People keep saying Whittaker is acting like Tennant, but I disagree. I think of the Tenth Doctor as showing all sorts of emotions with lots of facial expressions, and running around the console pushing buttons and levers, and speaking/yelling at various tones and volumes, including in a single sentence. That is not Whittaker's Doctor at all. And she does say, "I'm really smart" at one point, but I'd like to see her with more confidence/arrogance/swagger (even when it backfires). Yes, she's just regenerated, but we see all of this pretty soon after Ten regenerates.
- Everyone was in danger at different points, but I never got that feeling of, "Oh no! How are they ever going to get out of this one?" (even though you always KNOW they will, or at least the Doctor and the companion will).
posted by trillian at 11:00 AM on October 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's interesting to see these Douglas Adams ideas adopted with a straight face by the very medium he was using them to parody.

Don't panic.

I liked that the Doctor finally remembered that the TARDIS is a sentient being as well as a spaceship. This feels like the first time the Doctor or the show itself has actually treated her that way. And, no, I haven't forgotten about that godawful Gaiman episode.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:55 PM on October 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Seeing as my son forbade me from watching the next episode because my wife didn't make it home until after his bedtime, I'll have to stick to this thread. Which is fine.

People keep saying Whittaker is acting like Tennant, but I disagree.

She reminds me of Two (seemingly querulous, chummy but a bit secretive), Four (chat disguises evasion) and Seven (active leadership disguises Machiavellian threads).
posted by hawthorne at 3:44 AM on October 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also! I like that the Doctor continues to refer to Tim Shaw as Tim Shaw despite the fact that she definitely remembers the actual pronunciation of his name.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:45 AM on October 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


During the new intro, I said, "Um, it looks like ... female genitalia," and my husband said, "It looks like a uterus." (Please tell me we're not the only ones.)

You're not. It's not at a Georgia O'Keeffe level, where you'd kind of have to be blind to not see it, but it did immediately strike me as weirdly... anatomical. I wish that aspect wasn't there, because it's really not a great look to have the weekly adventures of the first female Doctor begin with something that kind of looks like some abstract labia display. It's not like the male Doctors had a bunch of space dongs in the credits!

I'm also not crazy about the new theme. Some of the themes of the revived Who have struck me as kind of bombastic, but this version seems kind of underwhelming.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:21 PM on October 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


Ha, space dongs! That’s my new band name.
posted by trillian at 12:58 PM on October 24, 2018


I believe the new intro is heavily based on the original 1963 one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75V4ClJZME4
posted by memebake at 3:49 AM on October 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


I was really hoping to have a Romana II type companion instead of the cookie-cutter fish-out-of-water, permanently quizzical humans. Romana was perfectly capable of going off and doing her own thing, and could remain quite nonplussed by The Doctor's anctics.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:15 AM on October 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


From i09's recap: Last Night's Doctor Who Gave Some 'Who' Back to the Doctor
But the Stenza’s weapon research, in the form of choking, sentient, psychic rags that prey on fear (named in the credits as the Remnant, fact fans), also gives the Doctor another big mystery to tackle, one more intimately related to herself: “The Timeless Child,” a fear of which is so deep and powerful that the Doctor’s new incarnation has been denied knowledge of it by herself, by the regeneration process.
And the recap for the latest episode mentions it and describes it as "—a secret hidden from the newly-regenerated Doctor by her past selves—".

I didn't pick up on that aspect of the TC when I watched the episode.
posted by homunculus at 9:28 PM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


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