The Doctor Falls Unr… on World Enough and Time Unr… greebohobbes on The Pilot Unreview theultimateguidetoth… on The Pilot Unreview greebohobbes on The Pilot Unreview theultimateguidetoth… on The Pilot Unreview
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The other day I went to a local shop in order to buy a broom. Yeah, I know, rock’n’roll lifestyle, right?
I go in, do the dance of the seven veils at the girl on the till who looked like she had the head of St John the Baptist on a platter down her top…um…if St John had been a twin. Ahem, and then leave with my purchase. Mischief managed.
So yeah, I bought a broom. I am Mister Cool, right?
Never have I ever felt like such an idiot as when I was carrying a broom over my shoulder through the town centre. Not surprising since everyone stopped and stared at the dog-faced boy with the long-handled brush.
I could have ordered a broom from Amazon but imagine the delivery. Knowing them, I’d receive a box three metres long, one metre wide, and half a forest of brown paper.
This is, of course, if I am lucky. Otherwise Amazon could use a drone to send me my broom. Everybody would think that I’m being visited by an invisible witch or worse it could knock out powerlines. Que horror!
Now, my broom is pretty high-tech. It goes forward, it goes backwards, and sideways too once I’ve mastered and passed the advanced techniques of the broom handling school.
When I’m not using it to bully dust from one side of the room to the other, I plan on using it to pretend I’m Harry Potter playing Quidditch. Happy days!
A broom literally equals hours of fun. Especially if you sing Hard Knock Life while sweeping.
Yeah. Um. That is it.
Someone recognised me the other day.
Somebody I went to school with, twentyish years ago.
This surprised me because I didn’t recognise him. And because he looked so old. Maybe ten years older than me. Not that I am old. I am young enough to be born in a year where The Clash, Yazoo, Bad Manners and Madness were in the music charts. That ain’t old. Is it old? Nah, I am still young. Youngish. Younger than most.
He called me by my name, my real name. I, very quickly, said my name was James. He looked confused and said sorry. My name isn’t James.
I doffed my straw boater and went on my way, relieved at avoiding a bullet from the past.
You may ask why I denied my own past. No reason really. I just don’t want to be associated with myself. If that makes any sense.
My childhood isn’t something I don’t care to remember or think about. I have spent way too many years coming to terms with it and I want to move on. I have drawn a line in the sand and then pretended that the line doesn’t exist. “What line? This isn’t my line? What is this Earth thing you call ‘a line’?”
This system (“What system? I don’t see a system. These are not the systems you are looking for”) works pretty well. The old-looking guy is the exception that proves the rule.
Perhaps I am ashamed of myself. I have a lot to be ashamed about.
Spinning her webs
Catching some flies.
Spinning her webs
Telling some lies.
Spinning her webs
Eating men like pies.
Spinning her webs
She’s love in disguise.
Repairing her webs
Bloated on flies.
The Doctor visits the holodeck. And unlike every holodeck-related Star Trek episode ever, it doesn’t malfunction.
Welcome to The Doctor Falls. His swansong. Kinda.
This story is a continuation of World Enough and Time where the Master creates the Cybermen, turns Bill into a Mondasian Cyberman (hate that term yuck yuck) and Missy does the fandango on both of the Doctor’s hearts. Oh, and Nardole eats Hula-Hoops. All of this is on a Mondasian spaceship. Nice.
Before I go on, may I register my disgust that Matt Lucas continues his bias against Monster Munch? Is he being paid to actively not eat them? Meh.
The story also features, spoilers alert, a guest cameo from someone who is in the coming-up Christmas episode. Yep, that bloke wot voiced Shansheeth Blue in Death of the Doctor. That being in the spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures. I know what you are thinking. Yes, him! Amazing isn’t it?
You may know this voice artiste as David Bradley who’d previously appeared in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, Dinosaurs on a VW Beetle, and Dinosaurs on a Bicycle. Oh, and he appeared as William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time, the Mark Gatiss docudrama which everyone remembers for the cigarette-smoking Mondasian Cyberman.
I made a prediction in my last unreview, several in fact, about how The Doctor Falls would end. Most of them was wrong. Except for one. And that one was probably a no brainer anyway. Below is my predictions and a link to the unreview, just so that you know I’m on the level:
“The Doctor is seen to regenerate at the beginning of the story, yes? Amidst snow. What if he is at the South Pole during the events of The Tenth Planet? Maybe a certain CyberPotts is there too? So theory time! The Doctor crosses his own timeline to find Bill. Bill is near the Snowcap base. He finds her and diverts his regeneration into restoring her humanity. Now either this kills him and Bill becomes the Doctor or they both go their separate ways. In any case, I predict the appearance of the First Doctor. Maybe I should bet money on this?
Second theory: it wasn’t the Doctor who was regenerating. Missy regenerates into a copy of the Doctor. Doctor rides off into sunset. The John Simm Master stamping his feet in frustration.
The second theory will be the one that might be right. Look at the clues. Missy is pretending to be the Doctor. And the Doctor says that of all the people in the universe, Missy is the most like him. Of course this might just be a giant bluff. All this foreshadowing being nothing more than fluff on a needle.”
Which one was right? Read on and find out. If you already know, read on anyway and try to look surprised.
As usual with the second episode of Moffat-helmed two-parters, this one starts off somewhere completely different. A little different. A hologrammatic rendering of the Welsh countryside on Floor 5707.
A bunch of farmers are attacked each night by the Cyberprototypes of Floor 1056 in a non-gory reenactment of Night of the Living Dead. Luckily none of them are done for copyright infringement since the film was never copyrighted. Small relief for these poor sons of the soil and daughters of the, um, yeah, anyway, they put up with this on a regular basis and stick the prototypes onto wooden crosses to act as scarecrows. Waste not, want not.
A child, possibly auditioning for the musical Annie, is surprised when a shuttlepod pops out of the ground and crashes back down again. From it comes a Cyberman carrying a drunk Doctor.
“I can tak’ all of youse on, ye cybersassenachs!”
“Of course you can!”
“Aye, and dinnae forget it!”
Cue flashback which isn’t really a flashback, and the Doctor awakes on a rooftop, the rooftop of the hospital where Bill lived for ten years.
This not-at-all-a-flashback is preceded by an actual flashback. In black-and-white and with a girl in a red coat so you just know that this is classy. Basically the Masters slapping the Doctor all about the surgery room. Flashback ends.
Missy and the Master are dancing on the rooftops along with Mondasian Cybermen whom are singing Step in Time. You may think that this is cheap reference to Missy’s Mary Poppins fixation and you would be partly right. But the song includes the words “It’s the master”. Not so cheap after all, eh? I wonder if the Moff knew of this link? Hmmmm…
The Doctor is restrained in a wheelchair and hung upside down by a gibbet. The Master and Missy are gloating over his deaths. Our hero is grateful that none of them witnessed the death caused by falling off an exercise bike.
CyberPotts stands nearby, watching without commenting, doing a sudoku. That tune she is humming is Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms) by The Detroit Emeralds, fact fans.
The Doctor, being the Doctor, did a thing earlier. When Missy knocked him over earlier, in the black-and-white classy flashback, he hacked the Cybermen to give them a new bit of information about what makes a human human. He has told them that now they, the Cybermen, will convert two-hearted beings.
Missy and the Master give each other panicked looks and immediately skedaddle towards the exits so that they can defend themselves from the Cyberhordes.
The Master whips out his laser screwdriver thingie and Missy brings up her umbrella sonic thingie and they proceed to zap splat kapow the Cybermen.
“Ach, it’d be braw if ye knew someone who had defeated armies of Cybermon hundreds o’ times. Aye, that’d be grand!”
“Shut it, grandpa!”
Missy sucker-punches the Master and releases the Doctor. Missy is still torn between good and bad and the Doctor has no idea whether she is AC/DC. Complicated.
Nardole, who’d wandered off to find a packet of Monster Munch (Yay!), has hotwired a shuttlecraft. Now, it looks good here but when we saw it at the beginning of the episode, well, quite frankly it was a load of old pants. Bad CGI. Now it is glorious CGI if it isn’t a physical model. Erm.
Nardole sends down a rope ladder. The Doctor goes to grab it but a random Cyberman electrocutes him, lighting him up like a Christmas tree.
CyberPotts blasts the Cyberman with her gunhead. And yes, Greybeard Whovians, that is a reference to the Target novelisation of The Tenth Planet I think. On the back cover, right? Too lazy to check so y’all have to take it as gospel.
Missy and the unknocked-out Master try to shuttlejack the shuttle but Nardole ain’t having it. Nor is CyberPotts who has gripped the rope ladder in her hand to keep it from taking off.
Which is where the good-looking shuttle becomes a bad-looking shuttle and crashes down into the soil of Floor 1056 where some humans and an extraordinary amount of kiddies are working on a solar farm.
Time is a lot slower here which is either because it is the countryside and there is nothing to do but be bored or it is because this level is nearer the black hole so therefore time is running a little slower.
Nothing to worry about here except for the prototype Cybermen who are too impatient to wait for their fully converted cyberchums.
Two weeks are spent here between the crash and the upcoming Cyberattack. The Doctor recovers slowly but surely. And CyberPotts? Ah, a tragedy there…
Bill now lives in a barn. Not a nice barn but it has an en-suite, pool table and a collection of Enid Blyton novels. Not too shabby. But our Billie is not content. She doesn’t know why people are scared of her. “Is is the afro? It is the afro, ain’t it? I know you guys are jealous but this is just how I roll, yeah? Get used to the afro. The afro is here to stay.”
It isn’t the afro,
It is the fact that she is a Mondasian *shudder* Cyberman with a frickin’ gun in her noggin. Which she doesn’t notice until a child hands her a mirror, little brat, and she sees that while on the positive side she will never need to moisturise, it doesn’t matter because she is a Cyberman!
The girl runs off, mischief managed, and the Doctor, who came in after the girl, reassures her that at least she still has her human brain in charge. Which is why she sees herself as herself rather than the butchered CyberPotts that she is.
This is a neat trick. Can you imagine emotional conversation with a Cyberman who, no insult to Cyberman voice provider Nicholas Briggs, has all the range of a Moog synthesizer falling down a wishing well? No, me neither. And while I am mentioning him, isn’t it about time Nicholas got to do a bit of acting in front of the camera?
CyberPotts is angry. And you wouldn’t like her when she is angry. Her gunhead starts blasting, which blows the barn doors into millions of splintery bits. Nardole, outside and eating more Monster Munch, tells the farmers not to worry. “Just an ickle door explosion, nothing to see here.”
Bill cries and the Doctor wipes it away. Note that this is a weird thing. Cybermen don’t cry although if it were their party, they could if they wanted to. But the weird thing is this, when we previously saw a Cybertear, it was oily. CyberPotts’ is watery. What does this all mean? Did the Master not upgrade her tearducts? Tut-tut, cutting corners, eh?
The Master comes up…
“Hello, gramps. Me and my sexy future self have done that specific thing we are not specifically going to describe at this specific moment in time.”
“Ye have done well.”
The Master turns to CyberPotts.
“Hey, roboknickers. Hows it like in that tinplate cranium of yours? Now, be honest, since I will be a girl next time. How do bras work? Magnets?”
“Master, ye nurk. Dinnae tell us ye forgot that you wore a bra all through that business with the Axons, and the Nestene, the Krankies, and that Azal fella…”
The Master stops mocking her when she tells him that he is not upsetting her. If only he could see her tears under her cloth…
Why isn’t her tears soaking through her cloth face?
The Doctor, the Master and Weepy McCyberface take a walk through the woods. The Doctor starts to regenerate but he stops it by slapping and pinching his ears. Nobody notices.
The Doctor, wondering how a Cyberman can cry, is limping so much that he requires a stick to help him get along. Whatever his injuries are, they must be pretty serious.
CyberPotts is upset that her conditon may not be able to be reversed. But the Doctor reassures her by saying, “With tears, there is hope, dinnae ye ken?” Wise words indeed. Prophetic too.
Wise words over, they come across Missy in the middle of the shoddy forest. She has found a lift hidden via some type of hologrammatic cloaking device. Now, it looks like one of those door marches seen in Star Trek holodeck episodes but this is just a coincidence, how else are they meant to represent a real door in a hologrammatic world?
Missy uses her umbrella to sonic up the lift. Not a good idea but not as bad as her previous attempt to steal Concorde.
The lift comes up along with a Cyberman who is sick and tired of the muzak. When CyberPotts, with the help of the three Time Lords, shoots it dead, I am sure that it thanked them.
Thanks to Missy’s impatience, the Cybernet has been uploaded with their location. The Cybermen will now be coming to get them. Battle is now on the cards. But it isn’t as bad as all that, Nardole has discovered that the floor below has lots and lots of fuel pipes, water pipes, ketchup pipes and many other pipes with similarly burniness inside them. These pipes can be ignited to explode the Cybermen.
Meanwhile the Doctor has a plan. No, not just a plan but a Plan. Find ventilation conduit, evacuate the munchkins to the next solar farm up yonder just so that they can survive a little while longer until the Cybermen reach them again. This is a plan that will probably not work but even if they survive an extra minute, they can do a lot of things in a minute.
The Mr and Mrs Master want to leave and allow the Cybermen to convert themselves silly. All they need to do is go back down to the lowest floor where the Master’s TARDIS is. Next stop: Mar-a-Lago!
The Doctor pleads with them…
“Och, I’m nae tryin’ tae win. I’m nae doin’ this because I want tae beat soomone, because I hate soomone, or because I want tae blame soomone. It’s not because it’s braw. The Tin Vagabond kens it’s not because it’s easy. It’s nae even because it werks because it hardly ever does. I do whit I do because it’s right! Because it’s decent! And above all, it’s kind! It’s just that… Just kind. If I run away todae, guid people will die. If I stand an’ fight, some of them might live. Maybe not many as a mickle or a muckle, maybe not fer long. Hey, ye ken, maybe there’s noo point tae any of this at all. But it’s the best I can do. So I’m going tae do it. And I’m going tae stand here doing it until it kills me. And ye’re going tae die too! Some day… And how will that be? Have ye thought about it? What would ye die for? Who I am is where I stand. Where I stand is where I fall.”
Shades of Braveheart I thought.
“Sorry, mate. I am washing my hair that night, sorry,” says the Master applying a final bit of lipstick. “Catch you on the flip side, duckie!”
Missy is torn by her former self and the Doctor but chooses the lesser of two evils. Or should that be the greater of two evils?
Missy and the Master get to where one of the lifts are. All is looking good for their escape but Missy stabs him with a potato peeler.
“Et tu, Missy?”
“Kiss ma umbrella, ye bearded sassenach! I’m going tae rescue the Doctor, marry him, and have lots of babbies with him! And none will have a wee goatee!”
“You devious moo!”
“Ah, shuddup! Now ye’ll be turning into me so ye might want to loosen ye clothes.”
But the Master shoots her with his laser screwdriver, on the top setting ‘Unregenerate’, and wounds her fatally.
Both of them, the same person, stabbed in the back by one another. How poetic.
They laugh. The Master travels down in the lift and following a brief incident on the floor that houses the Mondasian version of Are you Being Served, carries on down to his TARDIS which is disguised as a tin of pineapple chunks. Missy is on her back, dying, and wondering whether she has time to comb her hair before snuffing it.
It is somewhat sad that Missy’s redemption happened without witness. Barring the Master but he isn’t likely to admit to anything.
You’ll note that we don’t see the Master regenerating. So who knows if Missy was telling the truth about this being where he turns into her? I like to think he regenerates into how he looked when Roger Delgado played the part.
The Cybermen cometh. They have upgradeth themselves so now we have the Pete’s World Cybermen and the Neil Gaiman Cybermen togethereth. And then they explodeth as Nardole’s explosive trick smashes them up. The Cybermen retreateth but this is only so they can come up with a different plan. Eth.
The Doctor downloads the location of the conduits from Nardole’s laptop, neatly deleting his browser history at the same time. Goodbye Mondasian Milfs. Sayonara Telosian Trollops and bye bye Pete’s World Perky Women.
He tells Nardole to help everyone leave. He wants to face the Cybermen alone. After a brief moment where they arm wrestle, Nardole admits defeat and leaves. Leaving nothing but a half-eaten bag of Hula-Hoops.
CyberPotts gets to stay because gunhead and she doesn’t want to live as a Cyberlesbian. Especially when there are no other Sappho-loving Cybes.
All the humans have gone. Only the Doctor and CyberPotts remain. They fight their final fight. CyberPotts with her gunhead zapping, kapowing, kasplatting her fellow Cybermen. The Doctor does much the same with his sonic screwdriver and lists the times he defeated them in the past…
“Telos where I sealed ye althe freezer department! Canary Wharf which ye willnae remember ’cause it happened to an alternate set of Cybermon! Voga with the bling guns! Earth, half a dozen times! Planet 14 with the lead pipe in the library! I even beat ye on the Moon with nail varnish! Aye, ye wee numpties!”
But even the Doctor, alone, cannot face the Cybermen without being shot. And he is. Several times.
His body tries to regenerate but he refuses. “Oh no ye don’t!” With those words he ignites all the pipes below. The Cybermen all die. Adios, Doctor. Adios, Cybermen.
On Floor 0512, which looks exactly like the floor they escaped from, Nardole waits for the Doctor. But he isn’t coming. And he has run out of crisps. War is horrific.
Downstairs, it is all a vast wasteland of burnt trees, shattered Cybermen. CyberPotts is still standing though. She finds the Doctor’s body and searches it for some jelly babies but the jelly babies are also dead. Not a good day.
CyberPotts stands there and – poof! – in a cloud of smoke, finds herself as plain old Bill Potts. Human again. Next to her, the Cybersuit falls to the ground.
“Hello, stranger,” says a voice behind her. Bill turns and it is Heather the sentient puddle lesbian from The Pilot. Yay! And all the Whovians punch the air! Well, some of them.
Heather restored Bill. In case you thought it was just a fluke and that Heather just happened to be passing. Oh, and she isn’t human. She is now what Heather is, a lesbian puddle. Which is nice.
Heather, having gnarly spacepuddle superpowers helps Bill to take the Doctor’s body to the TARDIS. Being a pilot, or The Pilot, Heather knows how to fly the TARDIS.
Puddlegirl offers Bill the chance to join her. To explore the universe, time and space, and enjoy lesbian antics to boot. Bill immediately accepts.
Before they leave, Bill cries. A tear drops from her face and lands upon the Doctor. “Where there’s tears, there’s hope.”
The TARDIS lands where World Enough and Time started. An icy plain. Inside the Doctor dreams of his previous companions.
Cue clips! We see..
Rose Tyler from Disobedient Wolf, Martha Jones from Daleks in Milwaukee, Donna Noble from Partners in Aspic, Jack Harkness from Distopia, Madame Vastra from The Undercrackers of the Doctor, Jenny Flint from The Crimson Horror of Fang Rock, Strax from I, Sontaran, Sarah Jane Smith from The Half-inched Earth, Amy Pond from The Possible Astronaut, River Song from The Pandorica Closes, and even Clara Oswald from Last Khristmouse. All from the modern series. Oh, and we also see Adric from Earthshock floating above the Doctor’s head, wailing, “I never knew if I was right, woooooooooo!”
The Doctor leaves because Ghost-Adric is getting on his nerves. The Doctor’s fists decide to regenerate. “Och, no!” And with that he punches the snow until they start behaving themselves. “Pesky fists! I will nae change!”
He hears his words echoed back to him through the snow. he looks up and sees a figure.
“Who are ye? I am the Doctor and I have had all me Monster Munch eaten by a bald sassenach, so I am mighty dangerous!”
The figure comes closer and it is a total shock to nobody but the Doctor. It is the First Doctor and this must be the South Pole where he regenerated. And one of my predictions, most importantly, was right!
“I’m the Doctor. The original you might say. And this is my little friend, Mrs Norris. Say hello to my future self”
“She likes your hair.”
With that announcement, the episode ends and millions of Whovians tear out their hair in frustration at the wait until Christmas for the resolution of this not-such-a-shock-thanks-to-the-interwebs ending. Not to mention the horrific thought that Nardole and the solar farm Mondasians are ultimately going to be converted no matter how far they travel up the ship.
The Christmas episode will feature the First Doctor as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Miranda Hart as the Ghost of Christmas Future, and the Ghost of Christmas Present? Has to be the Fourth Doctor, doesn’t it?
Random idle thought: I would love it if the First and Twelfth Doctors swapped placed. Capaldi regenerating into Patrick Troughton and Hartnell/Bradley regenerating into Basil Brush. That’d pee off the Greybeard Whovians no end. Boom! Boom!
So… How was the acting? Yeah, it was alright, innit.
Samantha Spiro was celebrated in the days before the episode aired. Who was she playing? What would be her special role? And then the episode airs and she is a female farmer. Not a farmer who raises females but a farmeress. Which is what she does with little scenes scattered here and there which is why her character isn’t mentioned in this unreview. Her name was Hazran. Good acting but I would have expected a meatier role from such an actress of thie calibre. Oh, and Hazran fancies Nardole. Yes, quite. Barking up the wrong tree there.
Matt Lucas was unleashing his secret badass here. At last. No more comedy stooge. Some comedy, a little stoodiness but Nardole. Makes. A. Contribution. Yes, exciting stuff. I liked Nardole but I get the feeling we will not see him again.
John Simm as the evil Master, all beard and sinister chuckle with a dab of mascara. Was he good? Of course. Seemed to be on Bitch Mode for most of the story. Not sure I liked that aaspect but I laughed so something must be working. Probably not the last we will see of him.
Michelle Gomez as the Master who is redeemed (until the next Master who will be all snake pits, poisoned pizzas and replacing the Queen of England with a poodle). Missy’s journey, if I may be pretentious, has ended with her nasty Osgood-killing self now a sarky umbrella-wielding do-gooder. Is this a good thing? Yeah, I’d say so. Loved her in this (I also loved Simm in case you were wondering). As with Simm, I hope that we get to see her again.
Pearl Mackie has also undergone a, plummy pretentious voice, journey. From parentless girl with a fantastic afro to sentient puddle with a fantastic afro. Um. No, really, she has come quite a long way. I think that Bill was the only companion to be so normal, grounded in reality and chips. So much in fact that she makes Rose Tyler look like a walk-on part in Eastenders. Now she is a wanderer in space and time with her girlfriend. Nice work if you can get it.
Stephanie Hyam returns to Doctor Who as the girl who can’t stop dripping. Except that she stop when she is in the TARDIS. Oh well, it is all good. It was great to see her. Especially since the Heather part of the puddle symbiont, if that is what she is, seems in charge now. Good news for Bill Potts. Good acting but slightly Byker Grove.
Peter Capaldi. Brilliant as usual. Great hair as usual. Not sure I can say much about him without it sounding like hero-worship. So in the words of Dylan Thomas…
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
That is how Capaldi acted. And I love him all the more for it.
This story also introduces David Bradley as the First Doctor. Some of the Rookie Whovians, the ones unaware that the show started in 1963, thought that David was the new Doctor. Yes, really. Just think about that for a moment. The mind boggles…
Although imagine if David Bradley was the next Doctor? That would be interesting. Imagine all those cosplayers digging their old radiation gloves out of storage; excellent.
I’ve still to be convinced on Bradley. He was fine in the docudrama but he has big boots to fill. Good luck, sir.
So should you watch The Doctor Falls? Yes, why miss out on a good adventure? This is the penultimate story of the Twelfth Doctor and this is where the countdown starts.
Christmas is coming and so is a new Doctor.
Mondasian Cybermen, Steve Austin, black holes, oh my!
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a series of Doctor Who in possession of a finale, must be in want of Cybermen Yup, another finale featuring our favourite cyborgs. No, not the Daleks. Not the Ice Warriors either. Cybermen! As you’d know if you’d paid attention to the second word of this unreview.
World Enough and Time, the penultimate episode of the series. The Doctor is at risk of falling, if we can believe what the title of the next episode claims, and regenerating into Kris Marshall, Miranda Hart, Danger Mouse, Pearl Mackie, Rory Kinnear, Tilda Swinton, Zach Braff, Michelle Gomez, Scrooge McDuck, Actor McActorface… Blah, blah, blah!
The title comes from a Andrew Marvell poem. I could quote it but since every Tom, Dick and Blog will do it, I won’t.
Let me unravel the plot and make it more straight-forward. Ish.
Teaser shows the Doctor, if it is the Doctor, stumbling out of the TARDIS out into the snowy blowiness of outside. Collapsing onto a lamppost, he says, “Nae, nae, nae, ye is my bestest friend ye are. I bloody love ye. *hic* Whit is a lamppost doin’ in the middle of this snowy tundra? Ach, crivens, not Narnia again!” And with that he begins to regenerate…
But this is the future, the Doctor’s probable future. Now, or rather in the future, um, the Doctor has sent Missy to answer a distress call. Bill does not like the idea of this, Missy scares her. Nor does Nardole except for the version of Nardole that the Doctor keeps in his pocket. Don’t ask. We do not mention Pocket Nardole.
The Doctor will be watching to make sure that Missy behaves and doesn’t accidentally hold the universe to ransom. Again.
Ship, TARDIS. TARDIS, ship. Ship, black hole, black hole, ship. Just like that.
Missy erupts from the TARDIS like a snake in a can – BOING! – and introduces herself. “I am Doctor [expletive deleted] Who, mercurial jackanapes whit a TARDIS time machine. It stands fer Transporting A [expletive deleted] Rascal Dimensionally In Style. Aye,” turning to Bill and Nardole, “and these are my wee pets, Frick and Frack, Dick and Dom, Dumb and Dumber or as I like to call them; Comic Relief and Exposition. Now point me to the [expletive deleted] black hole and I will rescue ye or something!”
During this, Bill and Nardole wince. Embarrassing or what?
The Doctor is in the TARDIS, eating Marsh Minnow crisps, and telling Missy how to behave. “Nae shrinking and less insults!”
A blue man arrives.
“Would ye like a fried Mars Bar?”
“Missy! I dinnae offer crispy chocs. Try jelly babies instead!”
The blue man demurs. He has already eaten. Plus he’d rather know which one of them is human. Why? Because something nasty is travelling up in the elevator, something that wants to eat humans?
Bill admits to being human, “Yeah, I’m a human. Why, are you a racialist or something?”
The Doctor pops out like a snake in the can – BOING! – much to Missy’s disgust. “Ye cannae jist copy me. Find ye own style!”
The Doctor tries to stop the blue man, Jorj, his name is Jorj, from shooting at Bill. He fails. He shoots her. She now looks like she could appear in that 1990s movie Death Becomes Her, ragged hole through her chest. Bye bye, heart,. Bye bye, Bill Potts. Hello, rewatch of Death Becomes Her.
To lose one companion may be seen as being unfortunate, but to lose two smacks of folly. Is this a repeat of Face the Raven? Will the ravens and the crows join forces? “Kar!” “Klara!” “Kar!” “Klara!” What bird will echo Bill’s name down the ages? Pelicans? Puffins? Titpeckers?
The elevator stops. And out comes the, the… surgeons that moisturized Cassandra? They ain’t Cybermen! Boo! Hiss!
“We can rebuild her,” claim the bandaged figures in their Sparky the Piano voices, clearly fans of The Six Million Dollar Man. “Better, stronger, faster wifi connection.”
And they are gone. With Bill.
The Doctor sends Bill a psychic message but. really, he looks like he is trying not to fart.
Anyways, there is a big faff with Jorj and Missy but once they stop wrestling in jello, Jorj mentions how the skeleton crew went down to the boiler room two days ago to throw more puppies into the furnace but haven’t come back. And that loads of life signs have suddenly appeared. “Weevils, it is always weevils,” he moans.
The Doctor explains, with his red pen, how a black hole has weird temporal effects. So the part of the ship where they are is slower than the bottom of the ship. Time passes normally at one end and slooooooooowly at their end.
The bandaged Moog-voiced people are the descendents of the skeleton crew. Why they didn’t bother to come back is a mystery. But what we do know is that they decided to do it like they do it on the Discovery Channel. Voila! Population implosion!
Now, ahem, the people went down to make the engines reverse them from the black hole, yes? But surely the spaceship. 400 miles long, only has a finite amount of fuel. So why haven’t they run out of it in the hundreds of years that they have spent skimming along the black hole? One explanation is that the thrusters are located at the top of the ship and so, while they’ve run out of puppies, the puppies are still in abundance at the top. Does that make any kind of sense?
I am not advocating puppies as fuel by the way. I am making an obscure reference to a three-second scene from The Simpsons twenty or so years ago. Yes, I am that nerdy.
The Doctor shows Jorj a bit of the old Venusian aikido, a bit or Barsoom baritsu and his upped dukes (‘dukes’ being slang for ‘fists’, dear boxing muggles) so that the Doctor, Nardole and not-evil-at-all-nudge-nudge-wink-wink Missy go down in the lift to rescue Bill Potts.
Bill wakes up. Everything is blurry and faintly 1940s with a bit of steampunk thrown in for good measure. Her heart feels a little metallic. A blurry doctor looks at her, then some kind of hermit looks at her. So far, so League of Gentlemen (the comedy series and not the film starring, I think, Jack Hawkins).
When Bill wakes up again, she stumbles off the gurney and makes her way our of the hospital ward. Someone is calling out for help in an electronic voice. It sounds like Daft Punk.
She sees three wards: In, Out, Shake It All About. Interesting thing here is that the signs are in the same font as the white on black TARDIS font. Coincidence?
She finds a cloth-faced patient. His mouth isn’t moving but the word ‘pain’ is coming out of his drip/glowing box. Bill hears noises and ducks behind a curtain.
The hairy hermit enters with a nurse (matron?), and turns down the “Help”. They exit. Come back in. Exit again. Come back in, and exit for good this time.
Bill plays with more of the glowy light drips until the whole ward is shouting “rain”, “spain”, “drain”, “plain” except for one patient who says “Drink! Arse! Feck! Girls!”
The hairy hermit, who is a balding Hagrid lookalike with a dodgy Russian accent and not so tall, makes friends with Bill;
“Hello, I am very pleased to meet you, Billski. My name is Mister Razor.”
“No, no, niet, don’t bother trying to vork out if my name is an anagramski. Just accept it.”
Mister Razor is the caretaker/caketaker (he likes stealing cakes and cleaning up the evidence of cake thievery). In this hospital, he is the odd one out. Would any hospital employ someone who looks like they keep several disfiguring diseases just in their underwear alone? I think not.
Razor invites Bill to drink tea with him and watch the Doctor on TV. “Yes, I love Doctor Who but I think that the current one is not a patch on the sixth one, niet?”
Of course, the footage is from a security camera and because of the whole time dilation thing, the show proceeds one second every few days. But on the plus side, no commercial breaks.
And so Bill passes days, weeks, months, years in the hospital waiting for the Doctor. Plus she is now the tea lady for the entire hospital. Every now and then she sees an image of the Doctor telling her to wait for him.
A bit later, Razor and Bill go outside into the 1940esque city where the skies are paved with metal with the number 1056 stenciled on the underside, the people are made of meat and metal, and people are dying out. Razor tells Bill that people are being converted so they can survive Operation Exodus.
“Billski, this planski will take our glorious comrades up the liftski to the top of the ship vithout dying on the vay.”
“Why would you die on the way?”
“Ah, black holeski. Niet goodski for human lifespan, would take centuries to go upski.”
“But surely it didn’t take me centuries to go down?”
“Um… Oh, Billski! Lookski! A flying kitten!”
This conversion would also allow them to survive centuries of elevator muzak.
More years pass and Bill finally gets Razor to take her to the elevator but it is all a trap. Bill is to go through total conversion. “Sorry, Billski, was lie.”
The patients, under the control of the doctor, hold Bill down. The doctor pulls something out of his gladstone bag. She protests about the pain that they feel. “Ah, yes, but see this thing here? It will inhibit emotions so you won’t care about the pain of the conversion and your subsequent centuries-long existence,” the doctor reassures her.
“But I will still be in pain!”
“Yes, but it’ll save us a fortune in painkillers.”
The elevator finally arrives without the Doctor, Missy or Nardole looking visibly older. Lying Mister Razor. All that muzak has reduced them into primitive savages. A quick buzz of the sonic screwdriver sorts them all out although Nardole now says “ook” between every word he utters.
The Doctor tells Missy to update his Facebook page while he and Nardole venture off in search of Bill. “Nae pictures of kittens,” he warns her. “Oh, and see whit is goin’ on, aye?”
The Doctor and Nardole make it to the hospital, so the elevator must be quite close, and to a surgery room which is as close to cobwebs as can be without spiders. If that makes any sense. In a word; derelict.
In the room are clothed-faced bodies, the Doctor and Nardole look over these semi-converted patients. All we need now is Doctor Dorian and Turk to complete the ensemble.
Missy, let us not forget this raven-haired minx, the hairy layabout Mister Razor approaches her.
“Drokk off, frellface!”
Missy is not impressed. She has finished playing Angry Birds and ha discovered that the ship didn’t come from Earth. It came from Mondas
Mondas, dear Whovian Rookies, is where the Cybermen originated from. No, don’t mention Pete’s World or that Lumic guy, nuh-uh. Mondas is the Cyberhomeworld and also Earth’s twin planet. You know how twins typically have a good one and an evil one, yes? Mondas is the evil one.
Razor snips off Missy’s pigtails and aims a gun at her.
“Ye willnae shoot me, you southern jessie!”
“Niet, I vill notski.. It vould be likeski shooting meski, rightski?”
“Whit are ye jabberin’ aboot, beardboy?”
“Do youski notski rememberski being hereski beforeski?”
“Stop putting ‘-ski’ on the end of nearly every word ye utter, creep!”
“Sorry, love. You may recognise me from my previous job as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but tonight Matthew I will be…”
…and Mister Razor takes off his rubber mask to reveal, in actual fact, that he is Harriet Jones!
“I am Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister!”
“Aye, I know.”
Harriet Jones take off this new rubber mask to reveal a nondescript bald man.
“I would have gotten anyway with it if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids!”
After a brief scene where Missy slaps Mister Razor around the room, he takes off the mask to reveal the face of – duh duh DUH! – the Master! The one that wot was that Harold Saxon. Yes, him! Why isn’t his skull flashing on and off, curious. But he has that classic Delgado/Ainley goatee, so all is forgiven.
This would have been a bigger surprise if Mister Razor hadn’t sounded like John Simm doing a cod-Russian accent. Oh, also if ‘Mister Razor’ wasn’t an anagram of ‘Master Sizer’. Which, if anything, proves nothing much besides his identity unless the Master has adopted a stage name for his hip-hop music career.
“I’m M to the A to the S to the T to the E to the R, DJ Master Sizer, woot-woot!”
Yeah, and you thought Missy dabbing was bad enough…
The Master disguised himself so that Bill wouldn’t have recognised him as being ex-PM Harold Saxon by the way. Which speaks volumes about how much he overestimates young people’s interest in politics. Bill might not have known who he was anyway. I suspect it was just an excuse to stick on a disguise.
The Doctor, after pointing his sonic screwdriver all over the shop, opens up a door to reveal a Mondasian Cyberman!
Mondasian Cybermen? Really? Really? Aren’t all Cybermen, barring the ones made by Cybus Industries, Mondasian? No, Telos was more of a 24-hour service station/cemetery than planet of origin. To my mind, Mondasian is what all Cybermen are. Like all Jews are Jewish despite not being born in Jerusalem.
Anyhoo, the Doctor asks the Cyberman where Bill Potts is. The Cybe says, in its Moog-voice, “Bill is dans tous ses états. She waited for you. This Cyberman is Bill Potts. This scene is not ripping off that scene where Rose Tyler’s mother from an alternate world is converted. Honest! And as for a finale copying th the converted Danny Pink scene, I couldn’t possibly comment.”
The Master and Missy sweep into the room like royalty. “Hello, plebs. Basically this is genesis of the Cybermen. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!”
Beneath her mask, Bill Potts cries. And the Master laughs all through the closing credits and ten minutes into the programme afterwards. He likes a good maniacal cackle.
Bosh! The End! Or is it? Another episode to go, the conclusion to the series and the fate of CyberPotts.
This is the fourth genesis of the Cybermen if you take into consideration that the spin-offs are all canon. Now, don’t make me punch you. It is all canon! But this origin retcons the Big Finish audio Spare Parts and, thankfully, retcons the Voord evolving into Cybermen origin from The World Shapers (a comicbook story serialised in Doctor Who Magazine, comic fans). The only origin it doesn’t retcon is Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel since that took place in a parrallel universe and, therefore, doesn’t count.
The Doctor is seen to regenerate at the beginning of the story, yes? Amidst snow. What if he is at the South Pole during the events of The Tenth Planet? Maybe a certain CyberPotts is there too? So theory time! The Doctor crosses his own timeline to find Bill. Bill is near the Snowcap base. He finds her and diverts his regeneration into restoring her humanity. Now either this kills him and Bill becomes the Doctor or they both go their separate ways. In any case, I predict the appearance of the First Doctor. Maybe I should bet money on this?
Second theory: it wasn’t the Doctor who was regenerating. Missy regenerates into a copy of the Doctor. Doctor rides off into sunset. The John Simm Master stamping his feet in frustration.
The second theory will be the one that might be right. Look at the clues. Missy is pretending to be the Doctor. And the Doctor says that of all the people in the universe, Missy is the most like him. Of course this might just be a giant bluff. All this foreshadowing being nothing more than fluff on a needle.
World Enough and Time was celebrated as being the first multi-Master story but it isn’t. That was The TV Movie. And that beat this epsiode by one Master if you add the snake Master to the Eric Roberts and the unseen Master at start of story.
Oliver Lansley plays Jorj, blue janitor alien guy. Nuff said. Next!
Alison Lintott as the Nurse is practically an overweight Nurse Ratched. This, I thought, was pretty cool. Not in enough scenes sadly. Oh well…
Paul Brightwell as the surgeon. I liked him. Surprisingly given his lack of scenes. He plays a very good sinister surgeon with excellent bedside manners.
Matt Lucas as Nardole didn’t get to do much in this. I hope that his part will step up a notch for the finale. As such he did not set a foot wrong. Even during the dance number. Loved that umbrella-and-soapy-frog routine. Oh, and he was excellent when he wa eating that Jaffa Cake. Bravo, Matt, bravo!
Peter Capaldi, likewise, didn’t get to do much. He was great buty he wasn’t the real focus of the story. Nay, the focus was on the body horror of the Cybermen and the plight of Bill Potts.
Michelle Gomez excels as the Missy Master. Love her pee-take of the Doctor at the beginning of the story. And as for her claim that ‘Doctor Who’ is his real name, well. Love love loved that. No doubt, some people failed to see the joke but you can’t please everyone.
Pearl Mackie, this is her story. She shines as Bill, the girl who waited. Or should that be woman? Bill is much more adult than Amy Pond in so many ways. The demise of her character, if demise is the right word for someone who is still technically alive. Loved her performance. It had all the gravitas that Amy’s wait didn’t quite achieve. Loved it.
John Simm? Hidden behind a mask. Can’t really speak about his performance other than for what I have already alluded to in the main body of this unreview. Maybe next time…
So should you watch World Enough and Time? Yes. Simple as.
Roll on next week and the finale. Hold on to your hats, we are in for a bumpy ride, pardners!
The Ninth Legion of the Roman Empire, last seen in the Netherlands, and Bill wants the Doctor to show her what happened. So, of course, they travel over to Scotland which is over 700 miles away from the Netherlands.
What? Yes, it is true. There is no proof. archaeological or otherwise, that the Ninth Legion was destroyed in Scotland.
According to Wikipedia, that infallible source of information that is only second to the Matrix:
“Legio IX Hispana (“Spanish 9th Legion”), also Legio nona Hispana (“Spanish Ninth Legion”), was a legion of the Imperial Roman army that existed from the 1st century BC until at least AD 120. The legion fought in various provinces of the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire. It was stationed in Britain following the Roman invasion in 43 AD. The legion disappears from surviving Roman records after c. AD 120 and there is no extant account of what happened to it.
The unknown fate of the legion has been the subject of considerable research and speculation. One theory (per historian Theodor Mommsen) was that the legion was wiped out in action in northern Britain soon after 108, the date of the latest datable inscription of the Ninth found in Britain, perhaps during a rising of northern tribes against Roman rule. This view was popularized by the 1954 novel The Eagle of the Ninth in which the legion is said to have marched into Caledonia (modern day Scotland), after which it was “never heard of again”.
This theory fell out of favor among some scholars as successive inscriptions of IX Hispana were found in the site of the legionary base at Nijmegen (Netherlands), suggesting that the Ninth may have been based there from c. 120, later than the legion’s supposed annihilation in Britain. The Nijmegen evidence has led to suggestions that IX Hispana was destroyed in later conflicts of the 2nd century. Suggestions include the Bar Kokhba revolt (132–5) or Marcus Aurelius’ war against Parthia (161–6) in Armenia. However, some scholars have ascribed the Nijmegen evidence to a mere detachment of IX Hispana, not the whole legion. They continue to favor the British scenario, but concede that the legion’s disaster must have happened closer to 120 than 108.”
I am a qualified archaeologist, I know what I am saying. Now let me fetch my fedora, my whip and I will continue digging out the secrets of The Eaters of Light.
Rona Munro, her wot wrote Survival and some plays not featuring Time Lords, wrote this. Yes. Are there any similarities? Besides the fight for survival, no. At least the light eaters look a lot better than the Salem Saberhagen clone. Rona is also the only writer to have worked on both the classic and revived series, bringing her grand total to two.
The story begins with a bickering pair of siblings. Judy (who calls their kids ‘Judy nowadays?) wants to listen to the music of the ancient stones. Her brother wants to go back home so they can watch the reboot of Blake’s Seven starring Zach Braff, John Goodman, Vanilla Ice, John Simm, Miranda Hart, Donald Duck and Greyfriars Bobby.
But that is boring! So we go back in time where the Doctor and Bill are arguing on whether the Ice Warriors are the ancestors of the Silurians. An argument not helped by the fact that she hasn’t heard of the Silurians so changing topic to something she does know, she asks the Doctor what happened to the Ninth Legion.
Bill claims to be an expert having read Rosemary Sutcliff’s book The Eagle of the Ninth. A book which, as mentioned above, has been proven to be inaccurate. It is much like reading Fifty Shades of Grey and claiming that you are an expert on dreadful writing.
“What about Missy?”
“Aw, crivens, Nardole! I’m sure that she is fine where she is”
“Why are you winking at me? Are you having a stroke? Why is this crow speaking in an African-American accents ”
“Nardole, all crows can speak. They disnae speak in the 21st century because they are all sulking. Sulky sassenach crows…”
Second century Scotland, with Romans and Picts hanging about, and what do they do? Yup, they separate into two groups. The Doctor and Nardole to look for dead Roman bodies, and Bill to find the alive Legio. The crow flies away singing When I See A Roman Die.
It just occurs to me that some people may think I am being racist in making the crow African as in the Jim Crow stereotype. I’m not. I’m referencing the film Dumbo.
Bill walks thought a not-spooky-at-all forest. Fangorn it ain’t. She avoids the Blair Witch, the Miliband Witch and the Corbyn Witch and comes across a grieving Pict.
She asks if the Pict girl is alright. The Pict girl picks up a sword and starts chasing her. Just think Scooby-Doo with less Great Danes and more facial tattoos and fur clothes.
With a scream of “Jinkies!”, Bill runs away as quick as she can run and falls promptly into a hole. Nice.
A Roman is there with her. Trapped also. He sees her and explains that the Ninth Legion was all wiped out.
“Them fuzzy wuzzies didn’t like the cold steel of a Roman…”
“Stop, stop! We did the naff Dad’s Army jokes last week.”
“How about a ‘Allo ‘Allo parody?”
“Nah, never seen it, love.”
“So the fuzzy wuzzies – so racist, bruv, yeah – killed your lot?”
“Er, no. That would have been the monster.”
They help each other out and because who doesn’t love a Hanna-Barbera style chase sequence they are both chased by something with long black tentacles with blue stripes. And yes, that sentence was to grammar what a chicken is to an igloo, sorry.
The Roman is caught by the creature who covers him in sticky tentacles. “Good moaning, may I see your pissport? No, I will ate you instead!” And the Roman dies never knowing whether Bill survives or what TV show the beast was referring to.
Bill goes down another hole and meets some more Romans. Or at least she thinks they are Romans. They have Roman noses. How does she know they have Roman noses? They are roamin’ all over their faces (© Acme Cracker Company, 1899).
The soldiers are hiding from the blue-striped meanie which they call a “Light-eating Locust”. This thing is drawn to any light source and it will kill anyone or anything that is in its path. Why, call me stupid but I have to ask, are they hiding in an enclosed space which is brightly lit? Surely this isn’t so much a hiding place as a smörgåsbord for the Thin Blue-and-Black Line? And if it loves eating the light, why bother going after a few paltry fires when it can just eat the Sun? The big ball of fire in the sky and not the scaremongering tabloid which features headlines like:
LIGHT-EATING LOCUST COMES TO ALBION,
TAKES OUR JOBS,
CHEATS ON WIFE,
… and Boudicca on page 3, no doubt with the caption, “Our Boudicca, 27-33-40, says that Light-Eating Locusts were amazeballs when they were eating Romans but since they started eating Picts she is now opposed to their human-gobbling ways.”
For Americans and other British culture muggles, imagine that Donald Trump edited a newspaper. Yeah. Only not printed in crayon.
Above ground, the Doctor and Nardole discover the corpse of a Roman soldier and the other 5,400 odd soldiers. All blackened with rot or monster goo or something or nothing. Are they boneless or just so bone idle that they let themselves get deaded by whatever deaded them?
Say that the monster killed all the soldiers in one hour, yes? With 5,400 soldiers that would be at a rate of 90 legionaries a minute. That is one greedy monster. Unless it is monsters plural.
In any case, our dynamic duo make their way to a cairn which is being guarded by Pictish children.
“Where are the adults?”
“They were all killed wiping out the Romans. Our best warriors, Asterix and Obelix, defen…”
“Nae, nae, nae! Nae Asterix jokes, aye? It is bad enough that I am investigatin’ the disappearance of the Ninth Roman Sassenachs in Scotland when archaeological evidence proves that they were last seen years later frae now in the Netherlands but passing off Scottish Picts for Gauls? Nuh-uh, not on my watch!”
The Picts are waiting for the Guardian of the Gate. So are the Doctor and Nardole because swords and spears tend to make captives reluctant to leave.
The Guardian comes in, looks at the TARDIS two and says, “I am Groot!” Nah, just kidding, she comes up to them shakes their hand and asks whether they’d love a jam butty.
This is Kar, tattoos all over her face. And a teenager like the rest of the Pict survivors. Like all teenagers, sullen, miserable, likes to listen to Portishead and smokes spicy cigarettes when her parents aren’t watching. And by spicy I don’t mean paprika. I mean red peppers. Sorry, this paragraph got away from me. Much in the same way that the Doctor and Nardole get away from the Picts.
The Doctor, second-class vestal virgin, flings popcorn kernels into the fire and when they explode, they hotfoot it out. Nardole is overly pleased that he didn’t bring popping candy with him instead. That would have been anticlimactic. Tasty but anticlimactic.
The Doctor enters the cairn and approaches a wall which opens up to reveal a blue swirly light which he recalls from the Third/Fourth Doctor’s title sequence. He enters.
Nardole squeaks when the Doctor does this. And squeaks again when the Picts surround him and ask if he has any more popcorn.
This rift is a interdimensional pied-à-terre home to millions of tentacled nasties and one very lost kitten. These critters feed off light and they see this gateway as an entrance to a free lunch. The nasties not the cat. The cat just eats noodles.
When the Doctor reemerges a few seconds later, he is surprised to learn that he has actually been in the rift for two days. The Narnia Effect. Nardole has handily smoothed things with the Picts. He has gone native with facial tattoos and a woad-dyed dressing gown. Which his crow friend thinks is “so last year, dahling!”
“Do you think the monster will kill me, Mister Crow?”
“I’ve seen a Roman die. I’ve seen a Pict die. But I ain’t never seen a bald cyborg die.”
Incidentally, with that dressing gown, Nardole is bringing out his inner Arthur Dent.
Kar explains to the Doctor that once a generation, a warrior of the tribe goes into the cairn and the rift to defeat one of the eaters of the light. But Kar, being the stroppy teenager that she is, let out a light-eating locust to kill the entire Ninth Legion. Which it dead. And then it ate the Pict army as an apéritif (or do I mean digestif?).
The Doctor wags his finger at her and warns that if the creature is not put back through the rift, more creatures will come through and they will consume the Sun, the stars and your little dog too. Not good news.
Bill Potts leads the Romans through the underground where they battle a three-headed dog, a snarky skeletal ferryman and avoid paying to use the subway train which drops them off where the Picts are hanging out.
The Romans and the Picts start squaring up to one another. Because they are teenagers, they decide to have a rumble. Because the Doctor isn’t a teenager, he stops them before it all breaks out into Westside Story.
The Doctor has a plan but he doesn’t know where he can find a bucket of frogs so he makes a second plan, not involving a bucket of frogs, which consists of luring the Eater to the rift during the daylight. This will involve popping candy which Nardole found in his marsupial pouch. How lucky. Once the monster is trapped, they will taught it until the Sun drops below the horizon. One problem. Somebody needs to stay and prevent the beast from escaping.
As the humans live lives like mayflies, the Doctor volunteers himself for the job. His near immortality and regenerative abilities makes him the best candidate.
Then the story flashes forward seven thousand years, and the Doctor comes out of the rift. “Och, I am my twelfth self again. Crivens! I canae believe that I was a woman three times, black five times, Japanese once and a small furry puppy nineteen times. Pity naebody saw. Ah, well…”
This doesn’t happen. Bill whacks him on the noggin and the Romans and Picts take his place. Kar asks everyone to remember her and says, “smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast!”
And they are gone.
The rift suffers indigestion because of all the people tramping through it. It burps and causes the cairn to collapse in on itself.
The Picts, the ones too scared to enter the rift, honour the memory of Kar by carving some stones, headbanging to Kid Rock songs and teaching all the crows to say her name. Which explains why all crows say “kar” to this day.
Our heroes go back to the TARDIS and discover Missy. She has been doing some housework for the Doctor. She has arranged all his Beano annuals in order of funniness, fed Cthulhu and, because she is still a bit of a bad girl, threw the Doctor’s bondage trousers out into the time vortex. Nardole is not happy. It took him days to iron all those punk trousers. Sheesh!
We see Judy again and she is listening to the music under the ground. But she doesn’t like the Sugarhill Gang, so she leaves.
Nearby is the Doctor and Nardole.
“KAR! KAR! KAR!”
“The crows are remembering!”
Crow poos on Nardole head.
“Crivens, Nardole, they remember ye tae!”
I liked the scene where Bill suddenly, ten episodes in, realises that she can understand what the Romans and Picts are saying. “Shouldn’t y’all be speaking Esperanto or Latin or something?” Oddly similar to The Fires of Pompeii when Donna finds herself speaking Celtic (Celtish?). Ironic given that Peter Capaldi was in both episodes. And that they both feature Romans.
Rebecca Benson as Kar. She impresses. I really liked her. She plays Kar in a gutsy way. I admire her acting. Very good indeed. Sometimes when I see young actors I have horrific flashbacks to shows like Grange Hill, Byker Grove and every American sitcom involving small children. Not with Benson though, she is great as are the rest of the cast whom I can’t be bothered to mention.
Pearl Mackie in traditional companion mode. Liked her a lot. Can’t help feeling that Bill might be a little dense to that late realisation about the TARDIS translatory Babel Fish. But I still enjoyed her performance so it was all to the good.
Peter Capaldi and Michelle Gomez. Both were good, enjoyable to watch. Almost equals despite the amount of time Missy was on screen for, minutes! I won’t say anything but only this, that moment in the TARDIS with them silent near each other. Loved that. Probably won’t last, sigh.
So should you watch this episode. Yes, of course. If you love monsters with testicles and, um, sorry, tentacles (curses to the spellchecker!). I liked it and you might too.
Who is the Empress of Mars? Is she related to the Viceroy of Venus? Why are lyrics to punk songs written upon the surface of Mars? Will all be revealed or it is all a saddening bore?
This is Mark Gatiss and this story involves Ice Warriors. He likes them icy gits he does. He thinks they are champion.
Modern day Earth and things are awry at NASA. They have sent a gadget to Mars. What this gadget does is take really detailed pictures. But there is something weird. No, not the Doctor, Bill and Nardole crashing the party but the picture of the surface of Mars.
When the pictures fly through space back to NASA HQ, a picture loads up as slow as a picture would do on a 1990s computer. Yep, they literally wait hours to see what the picture is. Words appear, bit by bit…
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN
The TARDIS trio immediately run to the bust of Neil Armstrong, lift up the head to press the red button that is there. A wall slides back to reveal three fireman poles which they slide down.
If they had waited a few hours more, they would have seen the rest of the message. Which is…
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN
THE FASCIST REGIME
THEY MADE YOU A MORON
A POTENTIAL H-BOMB
And so on and so forth, etcetera etcetera…
And if they have scanned slightly to the east of the message, they would have also seen Sutekh’s pyramid, Sutekh’s patio and Sutekh’s barbecue pit with bespoke charcoal grill.
Again, so on and so forth, etcetera etcetera…
The title sequence starts. Ooh, new titles! Cartoon images of the Doctor and Bill punching Daleks, Cybermen, sentient puddles and Ice Warriors. Every time a punch lands, a weird sound effect appears in writing. ‘BOK!’ ‘KKLAK!’ ‘ECKY-THUMP!’ ‘KLOKEDA!’ ‘SPLINK!’ But the theme tune has gone downhill though. “Nananananana Doctor! Doctor! Doctor! Nananananananananananana Doctor!” Really! I ask you.
Sorry, just my small tribute to Adam West who died as I was writing this unreview.
Mars. What can I say about Mars?
Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it’s cold as hell
And there’s no one there to raise them
If you did
~ Elton John, Rocket Man
The TARDIS vworps vworps underneath the surface of Mars. A dingy red cave system. Our heroes are wearing spacesuits, not the orange ones from previous episodes, and would have a problem in seeing where they are going if it wasn’t for the flickering fire handily lighting up the caves.
Is there life on Mars? Well, yes. What with the Séroni, Mysterons, Ice Warriors, zombifying water plus Sailor Mars and the first homosexual Martians (Marvin and the Manhunter. Yes, I just outed them!), Mars is chock-a-block with life on Mars. It is, as the great David Bowie once said, “the freakiest show”.
This fire was probably lit by one of them folks I just mentioned. Not that Bill cares, no, she is too busy falling down a hole. Typical!
Nardole pops back to the TARDIS to fetch some rope and a copy of Buckaroo. And the TARDIS, flighty mare that she is, vworp vworps itself back to St Luke’s University of Boffins. Why? No idea.
The Doctor is impatiently waiting for the bald one when he hears clomping. Could this be the clomping of the Russell Thessalonian Davies Cybermen? No. It is an Ice Warrior. A battered thing. It bears down on the Doctor like a cat bearing down upon a plate of cow entrails. It is about to give him a cuddle and a kiss, I presume, when a soldier in red calls it off. Then he points his rifle at the Doctor.
Bill, lest we forget our raven-haired companion, also encounters a soldier in red. Bit more friendly than the one Old Two Hearts met.
Meanwhile, not quite meanwhile, Nardole is banging on the doors of the Vault.
“Missy! Missy! I need your help! The darn TARDIS has stranded the Doctor and whatshername on Victorian Mars! Again! What do I do?”
“Ach, ye wee [expletive deleted]. I’ll only be tae glad tae help ye, haggis-brain. Let me [expletive deleted] oot an’ I will show ye.”
Back on Mars, the Doctor and Bill are reunited. Huzzah! He is trying to keep her spirits up with stories of how him and John Carter went on a pub crawl of Barsoom. “That Yankee sassenach ended up kissin’ a coupla Ice Lairds.”
The British soldiers are in league with the rickety Ice Warrior whose name is Friday. When asked, Captain Catchlove (Or is he Godsacre?) and the soldiers explain. In song.
“Friday the Ice Warrior packed his ship
And said goodbye to the red planet
Off he went with a zoomety-zoom
Zoom, zoom, crash!
Friday the Ice Warrior was stuck in his ship
He’d said goodbye to living
Off he went freezety-freeze
Frozen, frozen, thawed!”
“And then the blighter said that if we helped it back to Mars, he would let us mine the planet for gold, silver and precious tin. Which was nice. So we did, and here we are.”
Catchlove and Colonel Godsacre are not friends. Catchlove makes orders when it is Godsacre’s job to give the order. Has the moustached Catchy got something on his superior officer? There is certainly no love lost there.
Friday is named after a character from Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. But you already knew that.
“May I be excused, sir?”
“It is rather a delicate matter, sir.”
“Oh. Oh! Go on but don’t be long.”
Friday, what with him being thousands of years old, has a weak bladder. Poor sod.
The Doctor doesn’t believe that Friday’s bladder is as weak as it seems. “That Ice Laird is up tae som’thin’ bad. I reckon he is planning’ on findin’ his hive. We’re doomed. Doomed I tell ye!”
This confuses Bill as she wasn’t aware that there was such a thing as Martian bumblebees.
No sooner has she thought this than the drill, the one that Friday built, cracks through into a tomb. A tomb belonging to an Ice Lady. Or rather the Empress of Malacandra, Iraxxa Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The Doctor warns them not to enter. “See that writin’ up there? It says ‘A curse for you and you and you if you enter.'”
Catchlove: Right, men. Guard the tomb. You and you, hop to it.
Godsacre: Excuse me, “Do you think that’s wise? I am the superior here. Would you kindly allow me to give the orders?
Catchlove: *glowers, falls over and adjusts askew spectacles*
Godsacre: You are most gracious. Now you and you, Vincey, guard the tomb.
Vincey: I’ll tell mum on you, Uncle Frank
So young Vincey and an older soldier guard the tomb. Vincey is worried. I blame all those war stories that he has read. The older soldier reassures him, “Them Greeny Weenies don’t like the cold steel of our British bayonets, Vincey. No, they don’t like it up ’em!”
Vincey smiles but is not persuaded. He just tightens his Aston Villa scarf. He thinks that a Martian mummy will grab him by the goolies and tear him apart. If only mumsy was there, she’d protect him.
Jackdaw, one of the more, erm, older soldiers, approaches the guards with a nice cup of rosy lee (that is tea to you American readers [hah, like they are plural, pft!]). Vincey gets none because as his fellow guard says, “Rank has its privilege.”
Rank also has privileged Mickey Finns. The tea was drugged. All part of Jackdaw’s plan which is this: steal gems from tomb, steal spaceship back to Blighty, enjoy living it large. This plan simply cannot fail. He has roped in Vincey because, well, he needs a stooge.
“Are you sure we should be doing this? Uncle Frank won’t like it.”
“Nah, it will be fine,” Jackdaw says, taking a drag on his cigarette.
“But the Doctor said the tomb was cursed!”
“Don’t listen to Taffy, Vincey. We can sell the gems on the black market, mate.”
“My mum says you are a spiv.”
“Hey, I prefer to be called a wholesales supplier, thank you very much. Now keep an eye out, eh?”
Jackdaw enters. Indiana Jones he ain’t. Dakota Smith, maybe. He looks to the left, he looks to the right,, and proceeds to the tomb. No poisoned darts fly from the walls, none of the flagstones drop down into a bottomless chasm but a stone ball does drop down but given thousands of years of erosion it is now just a pebble.
Jackdaw prises a carbuncle from the side of the tomb which is actually a cryogenic doohickey. The Ice Lady revives. Iraxxa awakens. And boy is she grumpy. Clearly not a morning person. She challenges Jackdaw to explain why he is there but all he can say is “Blimey” before she turns him into a round ball of drycleaned clothing.
Vincey screams. This brings all the boys to the yard and before somebody can make a reference to Kelis’ Milkshake, there is trouble between the pinkies and the greenies.
In the corner of the hive room, Friday wakes up. “I must have dropped off,” he says. “I was dreaming about the jam my sisters used to make thousands of years ago…” and he goes on to explain to Iraxxa Warrior Princess that she and the rest of their race have been asleep for five thousand years.
Iraxxa is aghast. She left the tap running downstairs. Then she remembers that rank has its privileges and makes a mental note to get Friday to pay the water bill.
The risk of war, a war of the worlds if you will, is close to breaking out. The Doctor asks Iraxxa to show mercy but she doesn’t know what mercy is. The Doctor show her his dictionary and tells her that the Ice Warriors can’t survive on Mars’ surface. Not with every Tom, Dick and Martian Manhunter gobbling up the real estate.
Iraxxa does something unexpected. She asks Bill for her opinion. Bill gives her consent to relent and all seems well but you know peace won’t last, not with twenty minutes to go until the show finishes.
Godsacre introduces himself and his men but Iraxxa wants him to surrender. Which is not good of her. Godsacre says no.
Iraxxa: I am making notes, Colonel Godsacre, and your name will go on the list; and when we win, you will be brought to account.
Godsacre: You can write what you like, You’re not going to beat us!
Iraxxa: Oh yes we are.
Godsacre: Oh no you’re not.
Iraxxa: Oh yes we are!
Vincey: [Singing] Whistle while you work, Iraxxa is a twerp, she’s half-barmy, so’s her army, whistle while you work!
Iraxxa: Your name will also go on the list, fleshbag! What is it?
Godsacre: Don’t tell him, Vincey!
Then the shooting starts. The British Army is hopelessly outmatched. So they make a quick exit.
Catchlove seizes control by stripping Godsacre so that everyone can see the wounds from the hanging that he survived. “See? He is a coward. Hung for it he was. But he wasn’t well hung, he survived. Yellow coward that he is. Don’t follow him, follow me. I have a better moustache.”
Catchlove uses the mining laser to collapse the entrance to the hive. Then he has the Doctor, Bill and the Cowardly Lion locked up in the brig. Brig being military speak for prison.
I have a question, why would they have built a brig? Did Godsacre expect trouble amongst the rank ranks? Or it simply there so they can escape from it later? Spoilers: they escape from it later.
Iraxxa doesn’t bother brushing her teeth after 5,000 years of slumber. No, she is a busy girl. With a flick of her Predatoresque dreadlocks, she revives more Ice Warriors from the hive. This is less impressive than it sounds since she is just placing a Mickey Mouse alarm clock next to their kipping heads.
I like the Ice Warriors but I also like the Victorian British Army. But which is better? Only one way to find out. FIIIIIGGGHHHHTTT!!!!!
Mars attacks (see what I did there?) from below in an attack which reminded me of the way the Silurians kidnapped people in The Hungry Earth.
Vincey is killed! I liked him. He is turned into a ball of clothing, freshly laundered. Not that Catchlove cares. He just looks at the remains of Vincey and mutters, “Stupid boy.”
Friday pops up through the ground into the brig. An alliance is made between him, the Doctor and Bill. Godsacre wants none of this because of his cowardice, see?
Friday and Bill distract Iraxxa while the Doctor takes control of the mining laser.
“Step back, ye Martian sassenachs! That’s gies dooble for ye soldier boys, aye? Noo, I will use this laser tae bury ye all under the ice of Mars’ north pole. Ye knows what that’ll mean.”
“Permission to speak, sir! But won’t all that ice kill us and the greenie weenies. None of us wants cold ice up us.”
“Nae! Not the ice! Nae presents from the Martian Father Christmas!”
This threat stops the fighting but it does rather allow Catchlove to hold Iraxxa at knifepoint. “Right, I think not. You can all bally well stay here. My moustache and I require this girly to pilot us back to Blighty where I will grow rich on the proceeds of exhibiting her in a freakshow. Now I would continue to tell you my plans but something seems rum…”
Catchlove falls to the ground. Dead. Godsacre, who got some courage from the Wizard of Oz, has killed him.
Iraxxa? That don’t impress her much. So Godsacre begs her to kill him. He explains about his cowardice, his hanging, and.. Hold on! Would someone, who was sentenced to be killed, allowed to continue active service in the British Army?
In any case, Iraxxa decides that she will call off the attack if Godsacre will pledge allegiance to the Ice Warriors. He accepts.
All that is left is for the Doctor to send an email and for a certain character to reappear after decades. Alpha Centauri! Cyclops in penile form! Loved this cameo and it is even played by the original actress, Ysanne Churchman. Which nicely sets up the Ice Warriors for their rols in the Peladon stories of the Pertwee era. Good old Mark Gatiss.
The Doctor and Bill help leave the message that NASA will find. And before you can say, deus ex machina, Nardole appears with the TARDIS. And Missy.
Missy, meek and mild, simply says she will go back into the Vault and then she asks about the Doctor’s health. Which is weird.
As they vworp away, the Ice Warriors sing their National Anthem…
God save the queen
She’s not a human being
and There’s a good future
And Mars’ awakening!
And that is it. There is no more. Nothing to see here, sir, please move on to some scathing critiques of the actors and other parts of the show.
Did anyone else note that the portrait of Queen Victoria showed Pauline Collins who has played her in Tooth and Claw. Very good nod to the past. As was the Ysanne Churchman cameo at which I punched the air. And Iraxxa’s command to “sleep no more”? Cheeky reference to the previous story that Mark Gatiss wrote for the show.
This is what the Greybeard Whovians would call a traditional episode, I guess. As such, the acting requires no frills. The acting is largely great but there are no real emotional scenes. Although Anthony Calf’s Godsacre deserves a special mention for the sheer quality of his performance.
Peter Capaldi is good. He always is. But I think that any Doctor could have been used in this story to no ill effect. The Doctor is written as generic Doctor. Good but, well, generic. Capaldi does his best and he does a wonderful job.
Pearl Mackie has less to do here than she has done in previous episodes. But this is all to the good. You always want to leave the audience wanting more. And I want more. Mischief managed, eh?
Matt Lucas is here and then gone and then here again. His only real role is to get Missy into the TARDIS and to have that odd confrontation with the Doctor. Again, mischief managed.
Michelle Gomez is… She was… She plays Missy as being almost humane. You wouldn’t know her to be the Master if you were unaware of her character’s history. I can’t wait to see how Missy will get her evil back.
A mention to Ferdinand Kingsley who is an utter git in this. Also, that moustache! I should like one like that.
Is Empress of Mars a great story. Um, not great but exceedingly good. If the Doctor had been a bit less generic than it would be a classic. In my eyes.
Should you watch it? Yes. It has Ice Warriors and a phallus with a huge eyeball. What more do you want? Dancing flamingos?