My guilty secret was always that I’d been pretty big on Doctor Who and I’d seen pretty much every episode. Actually, this doesn’t seem so much of a big deal, if we’re just talking about the post 2005 run. However, prior to that, it wasn’t exactly something you spoke about at school in the mid to late nineties and early 2000’s. I used to watch the original series fanatically when I was eight years old on a Sunday morning on Sky. However, it becomes deeply problematic when you’re in Canada and trying to get BBC iPlayer to work.
I was born in 1987. The original series finished in 1989. The only Doctor Who up until the 2005 series, aside from the novels most of which aren’t canon was the 1996 TV movie, which contains some pretty controversial continuity.
The original series ended whilst the showrunners at the time were looking to reboot the character of the Doctor. However, many episodes towards the end of the shows run are effectively forerunners to the 2005 series, which is cleverly grounded by relatable working class characters. I digress.
The current season is interesting in that the first episode takes place on Skaro. A planet that was destroyed in the seventh Doctor episode ‘Rememberance of the Daleks.’ If you haven’t seen ‘Rememberance’ it’s basically on the same lines as the fiftieth anniversary episode, ‘The Day of the Doctor’ complete with anthropomorphic (or living) weapons. Nonetheless, Skaro was last ‘seen’ briefly during the TV movie, when the seventh Doctor went to collect the left overs of The Master from the planet, before it turns out much to everyones shock that The Master isn’t actually dead and has turned into some kind of snake. In this season after some jostling about by snakeman looking for The Doctor which includes an encounter with The Sisterhood of Karn (think intergalactic version of the witches from Macbeth, “Sleep no more!”)last seen in Paul McGann’s only other appearance as The Doctor prior to the fiftieth anniversary special, and who will feature in the final episode of the season, we head off to Skaro after the Doctor, Master (now going as Missy) and Clara are taken there by the man who turns into a snake, or the snake that turns into a man. This is Doctor Who, so who the fuck knows for sure. Eventually, after some talk about hybrids, The Doctor and Clara escape whilst Missy/The Master tries to strike some deal with the daleks.
The next two episodes contain amongst other things mention of ‘the bootstrap paradox’ as The Doctor breaks the fourth wall to familiarise everyone with the concept for what will ultimately be the ‘deux ex machina’ resolution to the season finale.
The next couple contain more on hybrids (as do the Zygon episodes) and introduce us to Ashildr/Me who will reappear in Face the Raven in order to capably assist in killing off Clara aswell as in the season finale. Intriguingly The Doctor proclaims at the end of Heaven Sent, which credit where it’s due to Moffat is a great piece of TV, “The hybrid is me” as he arrives on Gallifrey which is looking in remarkably good shape for a place that was last seen being frozen in time as a warzone. This seems too much of a red-herring from Moffat. We’re all familiar with his douchey ways and expect him to be all like, “Lol no the hybrid is Me/Ashildr.”
I actually half suspect that he’ll go down the road of trying to explain the line from the TV movie about The Doctor being half-human. There is an interesting insight relating to the latter part of the original series character arc which ties in with the present series. The latter part of the original series strongly alluded to The Doctor being more than a Time-Lord. Thankfully, as they are a group of people who are just an irritating bunch of bureaucrats (also pointed out by The Fisher King in an earlier episode of this season) and would thus make The Doctor a complete dullard and ratings killer.
“The Other was intended to be part of the backstory of the television series during the Seventh Doctor’s tenure and part of script editor Andrew Cartmel’s intention now known to fans as the “Cartmel Masterplan” to restore some mystery to the character of the Doctor. Cartmel felt that years of explanations about the Doctor’s origins and the Time Lords had removed much of the mystery and strength of the character of the Doctor, and decided to make the Doctor “once again more than a mere chump of a Time Lord”. Elements of this effort were liberally scattered through Seasons 25 and 26 of the series, and occasionally included hints about the Doctor’s past; for example, in Silver Nemesis, when Ace and the Doctor discuss the creation of validium, the Doctor mentions that it was created by Omega and Rassilon. Ace asks, “And…?” and the Doctor is silent. Cartmel has written that this was meant to indicate that the Doctor was “more than a Time Lord.”
Not to mention, “A possible origin for the Other is provided by Human Nature, a 1995 Virgin New Adventures novel by Paul Cornell. In the novel, the Doctor transforms himself into John Smith, a human with only fragmentary memories of his past life. Smith writes a children’s story about an old man in Victorian England who invents a police box larger on the inside and capable of travel through time and space. Lonely, the man visits the planet Gallifrey, where he finds a primitive tribe. He tells the Gallifreyans about science and the arts, teaches them to travel time and space, and advises them on how to be as civilised and law-abiding as England. When they grow dull and officious, he invents a way for them to begin new lives upon death, and gives them second hearts in hopes of making them more joyful. When this fails, he steals a police box and flees back to Earth, deciding that being free is better than being in charge. Smith’s story was plotted by Cornell’s friend Steven Moffat; Cornell stated, “He’s always had some radical thoughts about Who, and it was good to be able to give expression to some of them.”
I genuinely wouldn’t put it past Moffat – who has also made past allusions to being a fan of the Doctor Who movies of the sixties where the Doctor is an Earthly scientist – to have The Doctor use the bootstrap paradox to actually be the founder of Time-Lord society or something to that effect. Which would also in his world have the desired effect of shocking everyone senseless, granting him his typical self-adulation at how clever he is and to create more questions than he’s actually answered. He’s also effectively said as much in the sense that he shot himself in the foot with the fiftieth anniversary episode where he undid all of RTD’s good word in killing off Gallifrey. Not to mention, the series had failed to remotely explore the physical and emotional consequences of some genocidal lunatic roaming the galaxy, and the effect that would likely have on your personal relationships and how you interact with people. Actually, I have something of an inkling that no-one would want to interact you, let-alone the universe holding regular Doctor vigils at his hour of need, in season finales. Although, this could yet again be further proof of the antipathy held by everyone towards the Time-Lords. I liked Eccleston’s Doctor, however maybes it’s just me, but I would’ve been more interested in an exploration of such genocide beyond: The Doctor is angry. What the fuck is he angry about? No-one asked him to kill billions of people. Followed by, Doctor is happy now because he met a girl from a council estate. All is redeemed. It was an arc that had massive potential but ultimately became one that was never utilised to its maximum potential, nor one the show has ever fully moved away, or developed beyond in nine seasons. The show seriously requires a new direction.