Tag Archives: matt smith

5 things I learned from The Name of the Doctor

1. THE NAME OF THE POSTAL DISTRICT

chiswick

I love a season finale. It’s a chance to tie up loose ends and deal with all the nagging unanswered questions from the past year. One thing that was troubling me was where exactly in London Clara lives, that has a row of semi-detacheds overlooking a sweeping view across the City (see: Doctor Who and the Horrible Broadband). So it’s good to find out it’s Donna Noble’s old stomping ground of Chiswick. Hope any fans visiting enjoy those panoramic vistas!!

2. THE NAME OF THE RANDOM OLD TAT

space spectacles

A very long time ago, these two lads were toiling in the Spirograph factory that we always knew must be hidden deep beneath Snowglobe City the Capitol on Gallifrey when suddenly– oh never mind that, look at those honking Space Spectacles! Even Kanye West might draw the line at those. The Time Lords have always had a proud history of filling the place up with cheap tat, though, as a glimpse of 1978 Gallifrey moments later reminded us. You can’t go wrong with that inflatable plastic furniture in the corridors!

inflatable tat

3. THE NAME OF RIVER SONG

river snog

I bloody love River Song, and her final goodbye was the highlight of the episode for me. That might have been the tenderest kiss we’ve ever seen in Doctor Who. River SNOG more like, right lads? Meanwhile in case you thought they’d forgotten about the Gay Agenda, Madame Vastra tricked Clara into her special magic teapot room with a scented candle. I mean, really.

4. THE NAMES OF ALL THE CLARAS

Cushion Clara

Fans have been having fun imagining Clara working her way through all the Doctor’s previous adventures, as this picture shows. But if she’s been reborn thousands of times after setting off “to put right what once went wrong”, by my reckoning there are several dozen of her loose in 1980s England alone. I wonder if they all meet up regularly and swap notes. Perhaps sometimes they have a special guest – Old Welsh Clara, the one who threw the jars of honey at the Bannermen in 1959.

5. THE NAME OF THE ENDING

the naughty doctor

I absolutely hated that ending. Not because it failed to reveal the Doctor’s name, because who cares. But because it was convoluted, anticlimactic and failed to make sense even in its own context. The Doctor’s greatest secret is… that there’s a naughty Doctor? Except he’s not called the Doctor because Matt Smith says so. Except he is, because a big caption flashes up saying that he is. “So he’s the future Doctor?” shrugged my fella, which seems like a reasonable assumption. But apparently completely wrong. Here’s a very helpful blog post explaining what Steven Moffat’s intentions seem to be. But, you know, if you need to read a blog post to make sense of a hugely hyped ending, then it’s failed as mainstream entertainment. And the last time Doctor Who stopped being mainstream entertainment it shrivelled up and died.

5 things I learned from Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

1. JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF DISCO

journey

You might think the title and themes of this episode are based on Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth. But think on – there wasn’t a dinosaur or giant mushroom in sight. Donna Summer’s Journey to the Center of Your Heart is a much more relevant text. “Baby, wanna travel ‘cross the borders of your mind!” sang the first lady of disco to a thumping Moroder & Bellotte beat. In an episode featuring another song-based climax it was a shame the salvage vessel wasn’t blasting out Donna instead of whatever horrible old racket that was.

2. JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF UK GARAGE

asher d

And I can hardly believe they went to the trouble of getting an original member of So Solid Crew on board the TARDIS (Ashley Walters, looking as fit as a butcher’s dog, still), setting a big countdown clock running, and AT NO POINT have anyone say there were twenty-one seconds to go. Never mind the pronunciation of obscure planets, this is the sort of thing they should be picking up in production meetings. “Did you see me in the console room? Oh, no! Operate the blue switches? Oh, no!”

3. JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF STAR TREK: VOYAGER

Press here for immediate relief

It was a bold move to take a plot device as roundly and universally mocked as a reset button is, make it into an actual physical button and then have it as the hard-won climax to the episode. Still, this sort of thing isn’t unheard of in TARDIS-based shenanigans. Who can forget 1996’s Temporal Orbit? It was a leading brand of Time Lord chewing gum with magical time-reversing properties.

4. JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF w6

swimming pool

I used to work in Hammersmith in the 90s, in a building called Thames Tower which had previously been the home of British Oxygen and which housed the original TARDIS swimming pool, seen in The Invasion of Time, in its basement. Reader, I used to swim in that pool and I’m very proud. This modern one looks rubbish – what are the changing arrangements? Seems like you have to drop your towel in the vestibule, and there’s no Cup-a-Soup machine either. You can say what you like about the 1978 TARDIS chase, at least the swimming pool had roundels.

5. JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF CARMINE SEEPAGE

straws and stars

Roundels aren’t the only thing missing in the new-fangled TARDIS. We were promised a nostalgic tour through the programme’s history as Clara penetrated deep into the heart of the Ship. But where was Nyssa’s curly straw? Or Adric’s star chart? No sign of Tegan’s lipstick on the walls as that bloody time-cot was dug out of storage either. On a serious note though, never give a teenage boy black sheets. What were they thinking?

5 things I learned from Hide

1. WHOSE 1974

It’s the idea of 1974 that we visit in Hide, rather than the year itself. In the real world Britain was all bombs and death and concrete. But for Doctor Who it’s a time of toggle switches, stolen glances and tweed jackets, and a lovely metatextual jab at the difference between a companion and an assistant. Mind you, on telly, Jon Pertwee was rigging up a psychic to a contraption powered by a blue crystal from Metebelis 3, so not that much has changed.

2. FOR MASH GET SMASH

For mash get Smash

You can’t argue with a nice bit of product placement to set the scene. The BBC props department was in heaven sourcing tins of Carnation milk and bottles of Stone’s ginger wine to recreate that specific period feel. All that was missing was some white dogshit.

3. THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER’s CLIMAX

Is YOUR haunted house a metaphor for your own subconscious fears? Call now! Or is your ghost a symbol for your repressed sexual desires? Our researchers are waiting to speak to YOU!

kyle

Ever since haunted house stories were invented, the best of them have really been about the dark inside spaces of the participants – mental, sexual or otherwise. This one went down all the classic routes and then topped it off with a surprise comedy finish about lovestruck monsters. More of this sort of thing, please. Imagine the tense, earnest finale of, say, The Doctor’s Daughter being lampooned by immediately re-enacting it at comedy speed, with the same shots and everything. It could only be an improvement.

4. YOU PRESS THE BUTTON, WE DO THE REST

Chase me

Speaking of mucking about with structure, the Doctor’s quick trip through all of known history to take some snapshots felt beautifully right. I suppose you couldn’t do it every week but I gawp when I see those beautiful effects shots spunked out to appear for only a couple of seconds.

5. THE CHIMERON OF THE WELL

Look, it wouldn’t be the first (or even the second) time I’ve shoehorned a reference to wildcard 80s story Delta and the Bannermen into one of these chats about modern episodes, but they’re really handing it to me on a plate now. When the lost lady cosmonaut appeared on the slide projector I sat up with a jerk. It’s her! It’s definitely her! (It wasn’t.)

delta

5 things I learned from The Rings of Akhaten

1. THE ACCESSORIES OF AKHATEN

clara necklace

That necklace that Clara’s had on constantly for the last two weeks looks a lot like the Zoroastrian Faravahar to me. It represents the fravashi, the eternal guardian spirit who sends your soul out into the material world to join the battle between good and evil, and then receives the soul back after death to collect those experiences. I’m sure this has nothing to do with Clara at all.

2. THE MOPEDS OF AKHATEN

mopeds in space

Well here we have this year’s repeated meme. Last week, the Doctor and Clara rode a motorbike around London. This week they straddled a moped across space!! Hopefully in next week’s 80s-set episode, they ride a space hopper round a submarine.

3. THE UNFORTUNATE TIMING OF AKHATEN

clara's mum's grave

According to Wikipedia, the day Clara’s mum died was the same day the first TV trailer for the new series of Doctor Who starring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper aired. Well it was a shock for all of us.

And speaking of that series…

4. THE “IT’S A NO FROM ME” OF AKHATEN

song of the bee child

“What happened?” asks Rose woozily after the cathartic climax of The Parting of the Ways. “It’s like there was this singing.”

“That’s right,” replies the Doctor. “I sang a song and the Daleks ran away!” It’s a brilliant joke. No-one expected it would be used as an actual plot resolution. I mean there was Delta and the Bannermen, and Steven Moffat just about got away with Katherine Jenkins singing to a shark a couple of years ago – well it was Christmas for one thing, and it was a satisfying, cleverly constructed story for another. But this gloopy hymn on Akhaten had me shouting FUCK OFF at the screen throughout. If I want to see a terrified, charmless kid singing for their life in front of a malformed monster on a podium, well The Voice is on straight after Doctor Who, thanks very much.

5. THE TOURIST BOARD CHALLENGE OF AKHATEN

Lovely sunset, shame it's the last one!

Exciting to learn that the Doctor visited Akhaten long ago with his granddaughter! I use the word exciting advisedly. Presumably on that occasion he DIDN’T overturn the entire society, leaving them without a culture, religion or – oops – a sun. Still I’m sure it’ll be a lovely place to visit next time around.

5 things I learned from The Bells of Saint John

1. The BELLS of GROOMING

clara kiss

When the Doctor’s not busy licking leaves or running around the TARDIS with his Spirograph and a ballpoint pen, he likes to pick up girls. The prequel to the episode reminded me that it’s not exactly the first time that the Doctor’s met someone as a child who, in their later life, he’ll go on to snog.

amy kiss

Not even the second.

river kiss

I blame The Time Traveler’s Wife for all this.

reinette kiss

They’re not even safe in their prams. Especially now we know from Closing Time that the Doctor “speaks baby”.

rose kiss

It was all the other way round with Captain Jack, but there you go.

captain jack kiss

2. The BELLS of EVERY GOOD BOY DESERVES CLARA

Of course, companions these days are generally predestined to meet the Doctor anyway, by dint of sending themselves messages from the future, being the future mother of the TARDIS-child or the TARDIS-child herself, and so on. Even lovely, ordinary Donna – who escaped the gallery of shame above – lived under an anvil of cosmic coincidence. And Clara’s story is the most extreme of the lot. The wireless password forming a reverse-engineered mnemonic of her deathbed catchphrase is the sort of contrivance even Jacob from Lost might have thought a step too far.

3. THE BELLS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Kislet's tablet

Regular readers will know I like to analyse classic Doctor Who villains through a prism of businesss jargon, invoking client/agency relationships at every step. How thoughtful of Steven Moffat to save me all the work on this one, with a classic ruthless PM versus terrifying client set-up. The four key qualities that Miss Kislet controls in her employees are Conscience, Paranoia, Obedience and IQ. It’s not exactly The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, but then what is? I like that she has a little weather forecast handy on her tablet of terror too.

4. The BELLS of OBSCURE CONTINUITY REFERENCES

At this rate I wouldn’t be surprised if the fact that Clara nannies for a family called “Maitland” turns out to be a link-in to The Sensorites.

5. THE BELLS OF WHAT AMY DID NEXT

summer falls

Exciting to learn that Amy became a writer after leaving the Doctor! What sort of a book IS Summer Falls? From the cover it looks to be a Famous Five sort of adventure – and I wish it had been the little white dog that came to life on the stairs rather than the snooty girl – and yet Chapter 11 will have you crying your eyes out, apparently. Of course, in going from model to children’s author, Amy’s career path is closely following Katie Price’s. Did Amy ghostwrite any of Katie’s books? This Mermaids and Pirates series looks a lot like a better-lit The Curse of the Black Spot.

mermaids and pirates

5 things I learned from The Snowmen

1. …AND REMEMBER

john lewis doctor who snowman

First, Steven Moffat introduced the Weeping Angels – creatures that can only move when not observed – to Doctor Who. Then, John Lewis took this principle and applied it to snowmen in their terrifying Christmas advert. Now, Doctor Who counters with horrific snowmen who DO move about, and snarl with gnashing fangs, and eat people, with the explanation that they’re made of “memory snow”.

The logical conclusion of all of this – with Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary next year and John Lewis’s 150th the year after – will be a forthcoming crossover spectacular in which the Doctor saves a branch of John Lewis from sentient carnivorous versions of those “memory foam” mattresses that are so popular nowadays. It would not be a big leap for a programme that once made an evil plastic armchair the monster of the week.

2. CHEKHOV’S WORM

memory worm

Among all the funny lines that Strax hogged were mentions of automated laser monkeys, scalpel mines and projectile acid fish. And there’s a video game I’d happily play for hours. He also hopes for a “full frontal assault.” (Is this the first Doctor Who story to use the phrase “full frontal”? In the same episode that has someone say “enter by the back door”?!) But the must-have toy for 2013 will be the Torchwood-tinged “memory worm”. Especially if it actually lets you wipe an hour’s worth of memory. It would come in handy if you’ve just accidentally sat through the live episode of The Only Way Is Essex or something.

3. He can’t sulk in his box forever

Face!

There was a lot of gorgeous imagery in The Snowmen, with the TARDIS sitting on a cloud at the top of an impossible spiral staircase the obvious centrepiece. But to a childhood fan like me it was the revamped title sequence and TARDIS control room that had me all a-quiver. I think they’re the perfect mix of old and new.

4. GOR BLIMEY!

Practically Perfect

The governess and her two young charges caught up in impossible goings-on is a nicely familiar set-up. The children terrified of the late former governess comes to us via The Turn of the Screw, but thankfully Clara doesn’t. With her cleverness, wonder and Gladstone bag she’s clearly Mary Poppins. She even gets a scene in which she ascends cheekily into the air while holding an umbrella. And as for her wild stories…

5. THE CENTURIES THAT DIVIDE HER SHALL BE UNDONE

Coincidence?

In Doctor Who terms, the most easily reached answer to Clara’s existential mystery is that she’s splintered in time like City of Death‘s Scaroth. Her claim (one of her “definitely true stories”) that she was born behind the clock face of Big Ben sounds like a nice symbolic lead-in to that sort of thing. But somehow I can’t see her recreating the most iconic cliffhanger of my childhood by pulling off a rubber mask to reveal what my sister and I always called “The Twiglet Monster”. And this is Steven Moffat we’re talking about. Previous climactic revelations have centred around Rivers and Ponds, preferably by the side of a lake. So watch out for Clara’s claim that she “invented fish”.

5 things I learned from The Power of Three

1. The Power of Ninety (miles a second, so it’s reckoned)

The Doctor’s heartfelt speech to Amy offering perspective on ‘one corner of one country in one continent on one planet that’s a corner of the galaxy that’s a corner of the universe that is forever growing… ‘ as they sat looking at the stars reminded me very much of Eric Idle’s lovely song in Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life.

2. The Power of Pertwee

I really liked this story and the way it balanced a vibe reaching back through various Torchwood scenarios to the feel of the global invasions in Russell T Davies’ Doctor Who all the way back to the nostalgic glow of the Pertwee era. Mind you I mean the good Pertwee era of my childhood imagination – the one based on the Target novelisations and what we were told by the guidebooks and magazines, where everything was cosy and action-packed at the same time and it felt like a family – before the videos started coming out and it turned out the Third Doctor was really just a horrible thankless old bully.

3. The Power of other mobile networks are available apart from Three

4. The Power of KIRSty

Implacable cubes make great enemies, from Dungeons & Dragons‘ Gelatinous Cubes to the Borg, the world of the film Cube and those remorseless advancing blocks in the old PlayStation game Kurushi. There’s something about geometric perfection that inspires unease, even when they’re not blaring out The Birdie Song. And I wouldn’t go so far as to ask Is Doctor Who’s The Power of Three a Shot-For-Shot Remake of Hellraiser?, but you know –

There’s this girl who can make the cubes work

And the wall in the hospital turns into a dimensional portal

And the cube reconfigures itself on its own

And who the FUCK’s this?

– and this is all very welcome to me.

5. The Power of Poultry

Could they be alien eggs? asks Brian. Oh Brian. If only they were.