Tag Archives: Doctor Who

Guest Blog Posts

With my monthly column for legendary women and occasional posts on Thought Catalog, I guest blog more than I blog on my own site. The thought occurred that I and others might want to find them all. So here they are:

Legendary Women

Game of Thrones Season Six Wrap Up June 2006

DC Bombshells Rewrite History Mar 2016

“Is it more sexist not to hit you?”- The Women of Deadpool Feb 2016

Comparing Rey Amberle and Wonder Woman Jan 2016

2015 Geek Girl Power Comics Shopping Guide Part 1

2015 Geek Girl Power Comics Shopping Guide Part 2

2015 Geek Girl Power Comics Shopping Guide Part 3

Skye’s Heroine’s Journey 2015

Supergirl Pilot 2015

Joss Whedon’s X-Men 2015

Doctor Who and Missy 2015

CW’s Vixen 2015

The MCU Black Widow 2015

Game of Thrones Season 5 2015

 

Also article and interview about my Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey:

http://www.legendarywomen.org/content/buffy-and-her-journey-heroine

http://legendarywomen.org/content/valerie-frankel-author-buffy-and-heroines-journey-interview

Thought Catalog

Hot Teen Vampires And Werewolves: How Did They Start, And More Importantly, Who Gets The Girl? 22 Mar 2016

Game Of Thrones Season Five Wrap Up: The Book vs The Show And Where We’re Going

One of the big disappointments for me (and I’m not the only one) were the Sand Snakes.

28 Jul 2015

How Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Is Very Joss Whedon

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has returned, and to no one’s surprise, Skye’s new plot expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe while simultaneously transforming her into a superhero.

8 Apr 2015

The “Strange, Young-Old” Peter Capaldi Will Bring Doctor Who Back To Its Origins

More to the point, this Doctor is on a mission to find the Time Lords and restore the balance, returning the series to, perhaps, its mid-series premise of a “secret-agent-man” Doctor taking orders from the higher-ups and interpreting them to his rebellious liking.

20 Aug 2014

12 Game Of Thrones Mysteries That Are Going To Drive You Crazy

Who will win? Who will finally take the Iron Throne?

11 Jun 2014

“The Day Of The Doctor” And The Hero’s Journey

“The Day of the Doctor” is a perfect Hero’s Journey arc…if “The Night of the Doctor” (the brief online minisode available here) is included.

26 Nov 2013

Game Of Thrones Recap: Thoughts On The Season 3 Finale And Beyond

After last week’s WHAM! of an episode, viewers approached with trepidation. However, this episode was mainly wrap-up. Walder Frey gloated, Joffrey gloated, Tyrion and Tywin debated ethics, Tyrion broke the news to Sansa, Arya took a very small revenge.

10 Jun 2013

Other Websites

Hogwarts Professor: Aug 21, 2013 – Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Alchemy

Denise Derrico’s Key of Dee: Jan 2016  Why Rey Needs a Light-Chakram 

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Filed under Books, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Comics, Doctor Who, Films, Game of Thrones, Heroine's Journey, Star Wars, Superheroes, Uncategorized, Young Adult Fantasy

Thoughts on The Day of the Doctor

Thoughts on Day of the Doctor

Day of the Doctor delighted fans across the world.

The Classic Who opening on “The Day of The Doctor” was perfect as the original credits and scene of the junkyard panned over to see Clara teaching in Susan Foreman’s old school. With Ian Chesterton listed as Chairman and the clock showing the exact time the first episode “The Unearthly Child” was broadcast, there are plenty of in-nods in just the first few minutes.

In some ways this episode is meant to be a blessing from old Doctors to new. John Hurt represents the old style of Doctor—a grouchy curmudgeon like the first who’s repelled by the fresh-faced young Doctors kissing girls and showing off. “Am I having a mid-life crisis?” Hurt wonders. The banter is fun as eleven calls his “coconspirators” sand shoes and granddad and Ten calls Eleven “chinny.”

Ten: “Allons-y!”

Eleven: “Geronimo!”

War Doctor: “Oh for God’s sake! Gallifrey stands”

The duplicate mannerisms emphasizes how Ten and Eleven aren’t just both Doctors, they’re the popular young New Who Doctors who have much in common.

However, by the end, the War Doctor gives them his approval, using their age gap to escape from prison (or so he plans). They stride into battle side by side, blowing up daleks and finding the way to peace. At episode end, the Fourth likewise blesses the Eleventh as he embarks on a new stage of his quest.

As such, the 50th was sweet and charming. However, other aspects are more problematic.

The Zygons make an awkward villain. They’re new for New Who fans but they’re not terribly classic, appearing in a total of ONE classic episodes (fittingly, “Terror of the Zygons,” a Fourth Doctor episode). Their body takeovers are more laughable than threatening. Admittedly, the Doctor’s solution of confusing the humans and Zygons and forcing them to thus negotiate is clever (though similar to “The Almost People”). But this doesn’t feel like a true apocalypse from the sucker people. Likewise, Elizabeth manages to slay one all on her own with a small dagger.  The battle with one’s double and the game of who is real has appeared in many Who episodes already.

So the Elizabeth plot is pure fluff. The Zygon plot isn’t much threat. The Doctors exchange snark but basically trust each other. The Time War is barely seen.  

In fact, the Time War, a war through time and space, is shown more dramatically with the aftereffects in the Eighth Doctor prequel than in anything from this episode, with Gallifrey scenes that indicate a very conventional war, in fact. People are shooting and screaming, the Gallifreyan high command is giving orders, they have a cellar of doomsday devices. It’s a scene of “insert standard war” rather than the more unusual mythos and interesting Gallifreyans of “The End of Time,” for instance. The Doctor invades Gallifrey only to leave a desperate message, then walks off with the Moment with no trouble at all. Gallifrey felt like it should have been an entire episode in itself, not this shorthand.

Then comes the War Doctor’s conflict. For the John Hurt Doctor, this episode is a question of when he’ll press the button and what it will do to him. The Big Ideas, mostly about the Doctor’s guilt and responsibility for destroying his own race, are dealt with but briefly and somewhat shallowly.

The weapon as mass destruction that would stand in judgment of its user is a clever touch, forcing morality into even an attempt at genocide. Bad wolf tests the War Doctor to his core, forcing him to face what he’s planning and how it will affect him as well as the galaxy. As the Gallifreyans note, only the Doctor, who tries to be a good person and is quite self aware, could withstand such a challenge. The main arc of the plot thus is meant as a psychological study, as the War Doctor faces his future and the 11th Doctor faces the incident he has denied and forgotten. When Ten insists, “This is a decision you won’t be able to live with,” he makes it clear what destroying Gallifrey has done to him.

Most Who episodes don’t actually use time travel tricks after arriving at the destination in space and time. In this episode, Matt Smith and friends appear Time Lords, those who have mastered time and can use it to advantage, as in “The Pandorica Opens.” Granted, this might get convoluted and painful if used too often, but it’s nice to see the time travel tricks being used well.

This is meant to be an Eleventh Doctor episode, happening after the evens at Trenzalore when he was forced to confront the War Doctor in his memory. As such, he’s the one with a companion and his theme music plays. While the other two have their memories wiped, he is expected to grow and change from the encounter.

Clara doesn’t seem right as the episode’s only genuine companion (aside from Bad Wolf of course). Her immaturity on Who and in general are stressed as she has little to offer in this great conflict. With all the humor and ego bruising, someone like Donna Noble would have been the perfect snarky companion watching these scenes play out, yet filled with the maturity of “The Fires of Pompeii” to help the Doctors make the ethical choice. And for once, there was even a plot that would allow her to come back.

Speaking of “The Fires of Pompeii,” the end of this episode felt like a colossal cheat. The Doctor can destroy millions to save billions, in a decision much like his at Pompeii, or others he’s faced, in “Genesis of the Daleks” and “The Parting of the Ways,” for instance. He’s been suffering from his choice for seven years (that we’ve seen) or over 400 (that we haven’t). The Pompeii story, with the horrors of letting people die, or the other two, where the Doctor chooses to find another solution because he can’t bear to save through killing, all have the emotional ring of truth. But how seriously could anyone take a movie about the people who can go back in time, save Hiroshima, and find a no-consequences method of ending WWII? It just feels wrong.

Of course, this does spin off Eleven and Twelve’s next story arc (one presumes): the search for Gallifrey. It’s likely no coincidence that by Christmas the Doctor will be on his last life (For Nitpickers, that assumes the John Hurt Doctor’s odd regeneration with help from the Sisterhood of Karn DOES count, whether he calls himself “the Doctor” or not, and his metacrisis mess in which the Tenth Doctor did APPARENTLY die and regenerate DOESN’T count). As shown in the series, the High Council can award people with an entire new set of regenerations, among other rewards. It promises to be a fun storyline…despite the dramatic feel of “undestroying” the tragically lost Gallifrey.  

Unraveling the science in science fiction tends to never end well, but I must ask: Nine said Gallifrey is time-locked, so he can’t interfere. Is that so different than “locked in an alternate dimension”? While they may be quite different, the concepts feel the same. Either way, it’s mostly impossible to get to and a fitting quest for the Doctor. Is it worth mentioning that all the Daleks being under Time Lock and destroyed from all of time, space, and history really isn’t working out?

Certainly everyone loved the hoard of Doctors rushing in to help, and the Fourth giving his bit of advice to a purposeless Eleven. The fangirl in the Fourth’s scarf was also a lovely touch, as we, the asthmatic, gushing viewers, got to be in the episode too.

If anyone’s aiming for a final count this episode offered…Three TARDISes. Two companions (counting Bad Wolf but not Queen Elizabeth). One companion’s descendent (the Brigadier’s daughter). One crazed fangirl, times two. Two 4th Doctor scarves. One fez (that bounces between many timestreams). The second wedding a Doctor has had onscreen.  More of the Time War than ever seen. Zygons, Daleks, a Cyberman head. Two giant rooms of doomsday devices. Several time loop paradoxes. 13 Doctors (with some as old footage) 5 Doctors with new footage for the show (and an additional one in Night of the Doctor). And the count can go much higher if one includes the lovely scenes from The Five(ish) Doctors (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01m3kfy ) (with John Barrowman getting a bonus for the driving). If 5, 6, and 7 are indeed hiding in the episode, the count can go up to a whopping NINE Doctors, from 4 through the one who doesn’t yet exist, with John Hurt as a bonus in the count. And Doctor #9 is present in spirit as John Hurt regenerates into him.

So happy 50th to all and to all a good night. It was fun, it was delightful, but it was more of a giggle than the great confrontation with the Time War.  All in all, it felt a bit like the Stargate 200th, more fan nods than great epic plot for the ages.

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Day of the Doctor Easter Eggs and In-Joke References

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  • The original credits, then 76 Totter’s Lane and the Coal Hill School begin the episode as they began the series.
  • The school sign reads “Headmaster: W. Coburn” and “Chairman of the Governors: I. Chesterton” … Anthony Coburn wrote that episode, “The Unearthly Child.” Ian Chesterton was a teacher at the school and the Doctor’s companion…he might even still work there.
  • The clock Clara motorcycles past shows the exact time the Unearthly Child was broadcast. And she writes No More on the whiteboard. Hmm….
  • They don’t dwell on the bit where Clara has met Hurt and Ten before during her splintering into souffle girl adventure, but that could just be confusing and awkward.
  • Smith hanging from the TARDIS mirrors his own first episode The Eleventh Hour. Both times dramatic and fun.
  • 11 wears Amy’s reading glasses. 10 wears his own “cool” glasses.
  • “Reverse the polarity” is the Third Doctor’s line.
  • The fangirl is wearing 4’s scarf of course. She also uses it as a weapon, as he frequently does.
  • Zygons hail from the 4th Doctor and Sarah adventure “Terror of the Zygons” (in which people dramatically back up when menaced by them, as in this one). This is their first New Who appearance.
  • Clara uses Jack Harkness’s vortex manipulator. River Song presumably has a different one.
  • Elizabeth the First and 10’s courtship and wedding (teased in several episodes) are finally shown.
  • Even the War Doctor uses a gun to shoot the wall, not the enemy.
  • The sealed message from the past, paintings as messages, etc, are seen in “The Pandorica Opens,” among others.
  • The escape from a dungeon scene nods to many moments, especially 3 and Jo scenes.
  • The oft-mentioned Time War described by 9 and 10 is shown.
  • Gallifrey and the Time Lords’ terrible collars. Also their vault of doomsday devices.
  • The fez of “The Pandorica Opens,” itself a nod to the fez 7 wears, returns (many times over!). Even 10 wears it.
  • In “Night of the Doctor,” 8 meets the sisterhood of Karn from “The Brain of Morbius,” toasts his audio adventures companions, and transforms.
  • Earth is doomed to fall to alien invasions, a nod to many many episodes.
  • The Moment comes to life with a personality very similar to the TARDIS of “The Doctor’s Wife.” They’re both even wooden boxes.
  • Bad Wolf played by Billie Piper
  • 11’s signature high-energy theme music
  • In UNIT, Clara sees a cyberman head and a wall of old companion photos, starting with Susan’s. River’s red sparkly high heels are also there and Amy’s “Angels Take Manhattan” pinwheel.
  • Hurt: “Timey wimey?” 10 “I don’t know where he gets it from.” 10 first said this in “Blink.”
  • The concept of the Doctor protecting children is emphasized in “The Beast Below” and “The Doctor the Widow and the Wardrobe” among others
  • John Hurt regenerates, noting he’s “Wearing a bit thin,” the words 1 used on changing to 2.
  • This show uses several of Moffat’s signature loops and paradoxes.
  • The concept that the Daleks will be terrified of three Doctors. Also, the plan to move Gallifrey so the Daleks all shoot each other is similar to the solution in “Blink.”
  • Rewriting and preserving timelines
  • Obviously, “The Three Doctors,” “The Five Doctors” and “The Two Doctors” all dealt with the same sort of paradox and snarky comments towards the other Doctors’ dress, mannerisms, etc. It’s no wonder 10 isn’t shocked to see 11 after all that.
  • This one particularly mirrors The Three Doctors, with the old crochety one complaining about the ridiculous clown and the “cool” charmer. In fact, that was a Brigadier episode, as this is a Brigadier’s daughter one.
  • 11 mentions Trenzalore and their fate there
  • The need for a Big Red Button
  • Daleks daleks daleks
  • 10: “I don’t want to go.” 11: “He always says that.” 10’s last words on the show are…still his last words.
  • 11 warns 10 about SPOILERS! for the future…by this point in Ten’s life, he’s met River and heard her catchphrase in the Library.
  • On the Doctor getting kissed: Hurt: “Is there a lot of this in the future?” 11: “It does start to happen, yes.” A reference to the asexual attitude of the first seven Doctors in contrast with New Who.
  • “They’re getting younger all the time,” Hurt notes (though he thinks 10 and 11 are companions).
  • Eleven has the same phone number as Ten had in “The Stolen Earth.” Seems he still has Martha’s phone.
  • The Tardis is switched to its original white circles décor. The museum had a similar wall pattern.
  • “Is it important?” “In twelve hundred years I’ve never stepped in anything that wasn’t.” This actually seems a parody of Eleven’s Christmas Carol line that he never met a person who wasn’t important. While the latter was sweet, the former just seems silly.

  • Kate wants a file from the seventies or eighties. It’s murky when UNIT events of the Third Doctor era happened as they were meant to be in the near future (80s), not the present (70s). Hence the date. 
  • The end credits, with the Doctors’ faces, is reminiscent of the old style.

  • The motorcycle ridden into TARDIS echoes similar stunt riding in “The Bells of Saint John.”
  • Kate Stewart, daughter of the Brigadier from 3’s era (also seen in “The Power of Three”) and UNIT. Their Tower of London base was also in “The Power of Three” There’s a picture of her father and the Doctor sends a “space-time telegraph” for him.
  • The code 11 scratches into the wall is the time and date Unearthly Child aired. 17-16-23-11-63, and the first Doctor Who episode aired at 5:16 p.m. on November 23, 1963.
  • Kate is horrified by “Americans with the ability to rewrite history”…this could be a dig at the American Doctor Who movie or Torchwood season four among other things.
  • 11 mentions he lies about his age. This nods to a few inconsistent counts through the series.
  • Finally all the Doctors unite to save Gallifrey (which is described by 9 and 10 as “time-locked” so this may actually have already worked. They’re seen on screens along with a glimpse of Capaldi, Doctor #12, the first time a Doctor is seen on screen before his regeneration.
  • “Hopefully the ears aren’t as prominent this time.” This nods to the fat that he will soon be Eccleston.
  • The Moment is mentioned in “The End of Time” and several comic books, modified from the De-Mat gun of 4’s “The Invasion of Time.”
  • And of course, number 4…

river-song-shoes-650x364  1466303_10202765631531867_2078523940_n

I wrote an entire book of these sort of references….available free today through Monday at    http://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Who-The-What-Where-ebook/dp/B00GMWKBUE/ Doctor Who: The What Where and How.

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Thoughts on The Night of the Doctor

Today marked the broadcast of a short YouTube prequel to The Day of the Doctor. And social media went nuts. It’s at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-U3jrS-uhuo&feature=youtu.be if you missed it.

The big surprise of course is Paul McGann reprising his role as the Eighth Doctor. “I’m a doctor…but probably not the one you’re expecting,” he smirks to the audience as well as to his potential new companion. Many incorrectly believe he only starred in the 1996 TV movie, but actually he’s been “the Doctor” in much more: his actor starred in many Eighth Doctor audio dramas, and Eight had an extensive life in comics and novelizations, considering There was no television series from 1996-2006.
As such, this is a particularly special moment for long-time fans, shared by Moffat. “Well, we had our new ‘hidden mystery’ Doctor and I was thinking, what else can we do for our anniversary year… I thought… Why don’t we get Paul McGann in and regenerate him into John Hurt? I’d like to see that! I’d love to see that!” Moffat explains.

The Eighth Doctor was certainly a lover not a fighter, in fact, he was the first Doctor to share a kiss with someone, and he spends the movie amnesiac and needy, looked after by the gorgeous physician Grace. Moffat adds, “The Eighth Doctor is perhaps the first of the sexy, romantic Doctors. I don’t mean he’s the first sexy Doctor – he’s not. But he’s the first one who kisses a lady, for example. He’s obviously dashing, terribly handsome and quite romantic. I always found it hard to imagine him fighting in the Time War. I’d always imagined the ‘Time War Doctor’ would be more grizzled, somehow, you know?” (Moffat)
With the creation of a Doctor between 8 and 9, many are speculating about the limit of twelve regenerations, established in the 1976 “The Deadly Assassin.” John Hurt might not call himself the Doctor, but surely he counts as a biological life spent, if not literally a Doctor (if he can’t be called the Ninth or 8.5th Doctor because he’s not a Doctor, relieved fans won’t have to recount and rewrite all of continuity). The Metacrisis Doctor of “Journey’s End” is never inserted into the count after all (though he too seems to count as a spent life).
Since the science fiction adventures of the Gothic Tom Baker years offered the original series rule that Time Lords are stuck with only twelve regenerations, it’s fitting that the episode with all the controversy over this returns to that planet. Nonetheless, the list of the Doctors is well-established (after fifty years, no one wants to renumber them all!) and television has supported the official count. In “The Name of the Doctor,” for instance, Clara says, “I saw all of you. Eleven faces, all of them you! You’re the eleventh Doctor!” The numbers surely will stick around, and Moffat appears to have included this line as a promise that he won’t wreck things too badly.
The twelve regenerations rule doesn’t actually seem firm though. The Master and the Valeyard are bribed with extra lives and try to steal them from the Doctor. Is gifting them permissible? It certainly seems possible, as River gives hers in “Let’s Kill Hitler,” and the Eleventh Doctor in turn offers some of his to heal her wrist later on. Visiting The Sarah Jane Adventures, the Eleventh tells Clyde he can regenerate 507 times, but he’s most likely quipping. Some fans have noted one can add the digits and get twelve – he may be hiding his vulnerability in code. Tennant noted when he took the role, ‘Time Lords can only have 13 bodies, but I’m sure when they get to that they can find some storyline where he falls in a vat of replenishing cream or something” (Merritt, Kindle Locations 652-654). Neil Gaiman explains his take on it:

“It’s interesting, that rule. It was obviously bendable to begin with (the Time Lords gave the Master a whole new round of regenerations). So I’ve always thought that it was more a law like a speed limit is a law than like Gravity is a law. And if there are no longer any police to make you observe the speed limit, you can drive as fast as you like. Although it’s a lot more dangerous. And that’s my opinion. As to what Mr Moffat thinks, he may either have a plan, or he may figure it’s not his problem, but is one for eight or ten years down the line.” (Q & A: Neil Gaiman)

In The Brain of Morbius, the renegade Time Lord by that name visited there to steal the Elixer of Life. It’s fitting that another renegade has come there now, not to preserve his own life, but to preserve the entire galaxy. The old series story resembled Frankenstein, unnaturally preserving life at the cost of others, while the Eighth doctor lays down his life as the Doctor to become a warrior on behalf of others. As always, a companion spurs him to the adventure, though it’s a dead companion, silently remonstrating him for his people’s actions. The Brain of Morbius reveals what might be earlier faces of the Doctor (in a self-referential moment, they’re actually photos of directors Christopher Barry and Douglas Camfield and script editor Robert Holmes, among others). How fitting then that we see an unexpected old face there as well as the War Doctor’s new face.
On the hero’s journey, the Chosen One frequently retreats into nature and meets the female guardian there, like the oracles of Greek myth, Galadriel with her seeing pool or Harry Potter’s white doe by the lake. The Doctor meets the sisters with their eternal flame and potions, and they change his mind, reminding him of his responsibility to the galaxy. Doctors are traditionally noncombatants. But as the sister tells him, “You are a part of this Doctor whether you like it or not,” he accepts his fate. Calling himself the Doctor and “one of the nice ones” isn’t enough to set him apart. In the hero’s journey tradition, the Doctor dies but returns more powerfully as a warrior and strides into battle.
There’s another delightful insertion of fan service for the serious participators. As the Eighth Doctor regenerates, he salutes his past companions from the audio adventures McGann voiced, establishing them as canon: “Charley [Pollard], C’rizz, Lucie [Miller], Tamsin [Drew], Molly [O’Sullivan]” (“The Night of the Doctor”). “Of course, Paul is not only known for the telemovie but for all his wonderful audio adventures. I’m always telling the Doctors and companions, as they come through the show, that they’ll never be quite done with it – Big Finish is expecting them,” Moffat concludes.

This was certainly a delightful surprise for all the Who fans prepping for the 50th anniversary…and I’ve sure prepped—my book Doctor Who: The What Where and How came out today (sorry, couldn’t resist. ‘Tis the season. http://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Who-The-What-Where-ebook/dp/B00GMWKBUE/) and my Doctor Who and the Hero’s Journey: The Doctor and Companions as Chosen Ones should be out any day from Thought Catalog, who keep telling me how excited they are.)

It’s certain the War Doctor’s adventure the next “day” will be terribly exciting. Hoping all your fannish activities this week proceed happily. Here’s to another 50 years!

 

Citations

Belam, Martin, Ed. Who’s Who? The Resurrection of the Doctor (Guardian Shorts). UK: Guardian Books, 2011. Kindle Edition.
Gaiman, Neil. “Q & A: Neil Gaiman” The Guardian 16 May 2011. Belam.
Merritt, Stephanie. “Tennant’s Extra.” The Observer 11 Dec. 2005. Belam.

“Steven Moffat on The Night Of The Doctor” BBC 14 November 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/doctorwho/articles/Steven-Moffat-on-The-Night-Of-The-Doctor

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The Faithful Companions

Rose Tyler ends her story with a version of the Doctor, with a mission to heal his battle scars. But a Companion’s job is greater than healing her Doctor and keeping him grounded, or even saving his life on occasion. In fact, the Companion must have perfect faith in the Doctor, one that transcends all obstacles. This belief gives him the responsibility to stay ethical in all situations. Donna Noble insists he acknowledge his daughter Jenny, and she demands that he save a single family from the fires of Pompeii. The Doctor asks Martha to watch over him when he turns human but her greatest task comes during the year that never was. She travels the world, inspiring everyone, person by person, to believe wholly in the Doctor, as she does. As she insists he can save the world, the belief makes it happen.

Even traveling with the Doctor takes a tremendous amount of faith, as a stranded passenger would never make it home. In fact, when Adam Mitchell (with a zipper in his head) breaks the rules, the Doctor honorably returns him to his old life. Even returning Sarah Jane to Scotland instead of her old home is a minor inconvenience.

Katarina, who worships the First Doctor as the god Zeus, is an unfortunate example, who was quickly written out.  But the other Companions show faith in not just the Doctor but all of humanity: Barbara Wright believes the Aztecs can change (“The Aztecs”). As Amy Pond sits, eyes closed, resisting the weeping angels, she exemplifies the perfect faith and belief required of a Companion. She shows faith in others as well, trusting the Star Whale, and invoking the humanity in a World War II android.

Faith leads to faith and trust to trust, inspiring the Doctor in his quest to exemplify the best of humanity, with the best of humanity by his side.

 

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The Companions and the Heroine’s Journey

Captain Jack grows from his adventures with the Doctor, from a lighthearted playboy into a serious leader of Torchwood. But what of the female companions?

The heroine’s journey involves facing one’s hidden side (as Romana does in “The Androids of Tara,” or Nyssa does in “Black Orchid” for instance). Romana and Princess Astra are strangely linked in this way, each reflecting and needing the other. The heroine also dies and returns to life with new wisdom, the guardian and protector of the next generation. However, she must do all this as more than a helpless damsel. As shown through the alternate time episode “Turn Left,” Donna actually is the most important person in existence, as her one choice makes her the savior of earth. Amy Pond, too, is presented as the most important, as she must restart the universe with the Pandorica.

Essential to the heroine’s journey arc is an existence and story ending independent of the Doctor. The Doctor’s daughter Jenny (“The Doctor’s Daughter”) achieves this sort of liberated wisdom, as she rises from death to become a great traveler like her father. Melanie Bush, leaves the Seventh Doctor to likewise continue her adventures. Dr. Grace Holloway of the 1996 movie has an equally interesting twist. Called a “doctor,” she dies and returns to life. She also refuses to be a companion, inviting the Doctor to stay on earth instead. Martha Jones, like Sarah Jane Smith, becomes a defender of earth.

Though River Song’s identity is tied to the Doctor’s, she overcomes her origins to become far more than the child of Companions or the Doctor’s perfect mate. She goes on adventures and challenges the Doctor at every turn. She also battles her programming, determined to become an agent of good in the world. This is the heroine’s true test.

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The Doctor and the Detective: Doctor Who and Holmes’ Hidden Link

Steven Moffat isn’t the only link between BBC’s top shows. “There’s documentary evidence that in the formulation of The Doctor, there’s an awful lot of Sherlock Holmes influence,” producer Mark Gatiss notes. In fact, both these thin, eccentric mystery-solvers have much in common. They have gadgets, immense intellects, and wisdom far beyond their sidekicks. And the authorities beg them for help when they’re out of their depths. The introductory episodes, “Rose” and “A Study in Pink” do much to emphasize the hero’s briskness, mysteriousness, and uniqueness, while updating the classic stories with the internet, cellphones, and modern storylines. Likewise, the shadowy threats of Moriarty and “Bad Wolf” provide a season arc and an unseen manipulator.

They have a strong ethical core independent of conventional laws but are mostly asexual with awkward social skills. Both seem oblivious to women, especially those like Martha or the hapless mortician Molly who are actively interested. The Doctor clings to his moral center,  offering warnings to his worst enemies and allowing them to leave in peace. The point appears several times that nothing is more dangerous than a good man fighting for those he loves. Holmes, too, offers mercy to sympathetic criminals in the (original short stories) The Devil’s Foot, The Blue Carbuncle, and The Three Gables. At the same time, he threatens to horsewhip a cruel seducer. His television reincarnation chooses his problems by their colorfulness, not their seriousness of crime. He tries to avoid helping Britain’s rulers, stubbornly arriving at the palace in only a sheet. He also suggests paying off Irene Adler and saves her more than once. A threat to his beloved Mrs. Hudson, however, reveals a shockingly cruel side to his personality.
While both these characters appear heroic to readers, there’s a darker edge not shared by the
more innocent companions or even Doctor Watson. Watson and the companions are the ordinary characters, dragged into the world of the unusual and even supernatural. Watson and all the companions, especially Rose, represent the analytical hero’s heart—his link to the people he’s determined to save. Both heroes would be lost without their sidekicks, the ones who remind them that trust and love are the greatest of emotions. “That’s the frailty of genius—it needs an audience” as Holmes notes. But this friend is far more: Holmes and the Doctor are terribly isolated for their uniqueness and “the only one in the world,” as it’s often pointed out—only their one trusted friend can keep them grounded and morally upright.

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