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Doctor Who Thread of Space and Time: Discussing Twice Upon A Time (SPOILERS)


#3793

Yes, I always felt sorry for him getting so much stick for that, because I assume he has nothing to do with that and no control over the sound mix.

Oh, I’m sure that’s part of the plan. It’ll be a surprise if he doesn’t.

I think it could be quite poignant to have both regenerations happen at the same time within the episode. And obviously there is some great story material there to have a reluctant Twelve help to convince the First Doctor to go through with his regeneration at the same time as he’s struggling with withholding his own.

Those ideas of accepting change and progress - rather than resisting it and trying to hold it back - will help to set up the new era of the show nicely, I think.


#3794

Yeah that’s my favorite line too.


#3795

I don’t read this thread much, but the line caught me. I thought it was a music review of the band Traffic. :roll_eyes:


#3796

I finished series 6 today.

What a mess.

At the end of the last series, Steven Moffat backed himself into the corner of having to explain who River Song is. There’s any number of possible explanations he could have given to this. Somehow, he managed to come up with the most convoluted and underwhelming one possible. An explanation that has to retcon huge swathes of previous episodes to work, an explanation that has to tie itself into knots to make sense and even then doesn’t manage to be particularly interesting. Conceived in the TARDIS means she’s a bit Time Lord, because regeneration is rooted in being near the time vortex a lot? Right, sure.

Take the season opener, the Impossible Astronaut. It finds the Doctor waving through history at Rory and Amy (which is pretty silly, both in action and concept – surely they could stumble upon any of his previous actions in a history book) before inviting them and River to join him in Utah. There, they see the Doctor die, killed by a mysterious astronaut rising from the lake and are powerless to stop it. Except, it’s not quite the Doctor they know, but him from slightly further in the future. Except it’s not really Amy, it’s a Flesh construct of her being remote-controlled by Amy who is actually unknowingly being held captive in the future. Except River’s not really powerless to stop anything, because she knows what’s going on. Except it’s not really a mysterious astronaut, it’s River being sort of mind-controlled by the spacesuit. Except it’s not even really the Doctor, but a time-travelling, shape-shifting robot in which he’s hiding out.

Throw in the second episode of the story being completely disconnected from the cliffhanger of the first, filling in the viewer through a criss-crossing of flashbacks and time skips, all to achieve not a huge amount of story progression, it’s a needlessly baroque and over-complicated bit of television. The Doctor’s death and the mystery around Amy’s pregnancy/baby cast a long shadow over the series and it’s not a good one. For the first half of the series, every episode has to work in a shot of the Doctor looking at a TARDIS medical scan of Amy’s Schroedinger’s pregnancy, and also Rory reminding Amy they can’t tell the Doctor he’s going to die, for some reason. It’s really repetitive and tired. The series arc story of explaining River keeps coming back, with ever diminishing returns. A Good Man Goes To War has one of the worst conclusions to any episode, when River appears out of nowhere, tells the Doctor who Melody is and he babbles like a giddy loon before running off. It’s still a bizarre moment, as the Doctor gets over-excited at the prospect of getting it on with his best friend’s daughter that he’s just seen as a baby.

Let’s Kill Hitler is another episode that fails to provide anything beyond adding more knots to River’s backstory, with the idea that she grew up alongside her own parents (which is an interesting concept). The notion that she would become obsessed with her friend’s imaginary friend is bizarre though (even if you hand-wave it away as programming from the Silence). There’s yet more need for retconning as her complete absence in Amy and Rory’s previously seen life is explained away, as is how she’s able to regenerate here when she couldn’t in the story where she dies. Let’s Kill Hitler ends with the Doctor telling Amy and Rory that, they know how River turns out, mostly, so they’ll just have to write off their kid. It’s a weird moment, necessitated as so many others by the high complexity of the story. Someone really needed to sit Moffat down and say to him “this doesn’t work, it’s too incestuous. Come up with something simpler.”

By the end of the series, the whole River/Doctor’s Death story has become such a tangled mess that it gets shunted aside for about half an hour of alternate reality filler (complete with gratuitous cameos from characters from past episodes, the third time Moffat’s done that in two series) because he doesn’t really have any story to tell other than “the Doctor didn’t really die, he was in a robot of himself”. And even that doesn’t really work. Time breaks, apparently, when River tries to change a fixed point in time by not killing the Doctor. But given he’s in the Tessawhatsit, he never really died anyway. So she can’t be changing actual events, just people’s perceptions of them, which, frankly, isn’t the same thing (yes there’s probably a philosophical argument to be had about that). The Doctor’s plan comes down to faking his own death, so he can carry on living quietly. At the time I had a problem with this – it’s a stupid idea. He’s a time-traveller. Any enemy he encounters isn’t going to think “oh, well, no point trying to kill the Doctor, he’s already dead at some other point”, and they haven’t done previously. It maybe gets the Silence off his back (except it doesn’t, as future episode show and he’s told with the prophecy). The (implied) promise to the viewer is that there’ll be fewer stories about the Doctor going forward, that he’ll go back to being a mysterious stranger that ends up a footnote in history, except, with hindsight, that doesn’t happen either. So it’s just a huge waste of time.

The series ends with Dorian warning the Doctor about his future, through yet more prophesying. This is about the third time this has happened in Moffat’s tenure and it’s getting tedious. We’ve gone from “the Pandorica will open” and “silence will fall” to the tick tock thing about the Doctor dying, “the only water in the forest is the river” and now “the fall of the eleventh” on Trenzalore. It’s such a bore, being stuck in this continuous cycle of “but wait, something even more monumental is still to come”, as ever more weight and hype is thrown onto the character’s future. It reminds me of the DC film universe, as we’re constantly promised the next film will be the one where it starts to get good. This next prophesy is the one that’ll really count and be epic. Oh and the repeated use of the show’s title as “the question” is instantly annoying.

The saving grace for series six is that a few of the episodes not concerned with the series arc nonsense are pretty good. Ok, not Curse of the Black Spot, which is crap. The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People is a pretty dopey take on the doppleganger concept (Amy is required to be unduly prejudiced against the Flesh Doctor, it takes the humans way too long to get their head around the idea of being, essentially, cloned, and there’s a terrible TARDIS-ex-machina thrown in at the end). But The Doctor’s Wife is a lot of fun, Night Terrors is decent enough, Closing Time isn’t terrible (as a James Corden story, that is. As a Cyberman story it’s naff, but that’s hardly a first) and the Girl Who Waited has a lot going for it. The best episode of the series, for me, is The God Complex, which is bold and clever, with some great characters, an unusual setting and smart premise.

The copper kettle console room still feels a bit weird, which is underlined by the use of the RTD-era coral one in The Doctor’s Wife. As soon as Rory and Amy reach it, it feels right and natural, with a clear through line for the eye, from the door to the console.

Series 6 is easily the worst series of the modern era so far. The show has become overly self-involved and oddly pretentious. It’s definitely the point at which Moffat loses his credibility for intricate plotting, earned from Blink, and, generally, the benefit of the doubt at knowing what he’s doing long term. It feels increasingly like he’s echoing his earlier work – the Silence are, conceptually a variant on the Weeping Angels; the alternate timeline in the finale is conceptually similar to the broken timeline of the series 5 finale and roughly fills the same space in the plot. His contributions to the series are some of the weakest, balanced out by the freelancers.


#3797

Can you explain that a little more? I’ve seen the clips of the first regeneration but I’m not very well versed with the first two Doctor’s stories. (I did my big watch through the show starting with Pertwee as all the episodes were available).


#3798

When Moffat introduced the idea of the War Doctor and used the ‘Night of the Doctor’ short to show McGann regenerating into Hurt (and then Hurt into Eccleston in ‘Day of the Doctor’), he explained that it had always bugged him that you never had the continuity of seeing Eight regenerate into Nine, due to the way the series rebooted. He wanted to go back and fill in those gaps, and make sure the Doctor had a full set of on-screen regenerations so you could watch each one turn into the next.

Because the footage is missing for the regeneration of the first Doctor turning into the second, it wouldn’t surprise me if Moffat recreates that moment in the Christmas special so that fans have a version they can watch, even if it isn’t the original.


#3799

I think you’re spot on with series 6. The resolution of the mystery set up in the series opener is terrible and the finale overall is very weak. I also really disliked (and still dislike) the way that there’s no attempt to explore the grief of the Ponds for losing their child. Yes, we and they know she becomes River in the end, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have missed the entire childhood (and much of the adulthood) of their own daughter.

I think Moffat has spoken more recently about how he just didn’t know how to explore that in a way that worked for the show. But in that case, maybe it’s not an idea that should have been included. It just feels really weird for them to gloss over such a massive gap in their lives.

My daughter loves the Eleventh Doctor more than any other version, but it’s telling that in picking through series 6 for good episodes she could watch, there wasn’t much there that I thought was worth watching. The Doctor’s Wife, The Girl Who Waited and The God Complex are the only real standouts, as you say.


#3800

Yeah, that’s pretty much how I felt about that season at the time. That was when I lost faith in Moffat.


#3801

Dave pretty much nailed it. The Hartnell to Troughton regeneration only exists currently as a low quality film recording of the original clip (which does add to the mystery of the moment, in a way), because Tenth Plant 4 and Power of the Daleks 1 are both missing (though I don’t think the regeneration is in Power’s reprise anyway).

I can see Moffat wanting to do a shiny new replacement HD version of it to smooth over that, given he’s doing a story with the First Doctor about to regenerate. The question is, do they replicate the original effect, try and CGI in Hartnell and Troughton, or get Reece Shearsmith back to fill in as the Second Doctor?


#3802

I hope they don’t get Shearsmith. The likeness was nowhere near the level of Bradley.

Then again, he may only need to be in it for seconds even if they do show the regeneration.


#3803

Okay that was my question, I knew all the rest of it about 8, War and 9 as I saw the shows. I have seen the Hartnell one on Youtube complications so didn’t quite understand what was ‘missing’. Fair enough though the quality was pretty poor.


#3804

Yeah, those are usually put together from a filmed recording of the original (like Martin says) and still photos, I think.

My reason for mentioning that was to refer to Moffat’s acknowledgement that those moments were at least partly motivated by his ‘completist’ mentality towards regenerations, which adds weight to the idea that he might want to have a new ‘original’ version of Hartnell-to-Troughton for the show.


#3805

Here’s the quote:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/doctorwho/entries/41fd63f1-63ae-30b1-a302-bd6e59ddecbf


#3806

This is an interesting question too. The trailers and clips of the Christmas special shown so far include moments where we see the First Doctor exhibit the orange-glowiness effect that the show has used for regeneration since the reboot. I wonder if they will go the whole hog and apply the full ‘explosion’ effect to the First Doctor turning into the Second. It could risk being a bit weird and incongruous.


#3807

I’m kind of feeling I’d rather they didn’t do it.

If they do then don’t use a stand in actor for Troughton (even his sons are probably a bit too old and don’t look that much like him). Use effects like they did with War into 9.


#3808

IIRC they found a clip from an episode of Blue Peter which shows the actual moment of regeneration. This would have been around 25 years ago? Around the same time the missing episodes of Planet of the Daleks were aired on BBC2


#3809

It looks like it. The Youtube versions I can see seem to be pretty decent quality really (considering the time) but it looks restricted to just the 30 odd seconds of the regeneration, which make sense if it was a clip on Blue Peter.


#3810

The modern regeneration is one of my biggest disappointments with the new series. Part of the fun was that each regeneration was unique and different. That it’s just an explosion of light every time now is a major letdown.


#3811

I agree. I kind of hope that the new version of the show does something new with regenerations. They’ve become a bit too similar in the rebooted show.

I’m also with Gar - I’d rather they didn’t redo the original regeneration, I don’t think it’s necessary. I can see it happening though.


#3812

Well, of course he did…