The Blue Box Blog

Emma Lou's adventures in Doctor Who fandom

Update on the future of The Blue Box Blog

Posted by emmahyam on March 26, 2013

Just to let everyone who reads my scribblings here know that I will be amalgamating this blog and my other one over on blogger into one, whole new enterprise called “Emma Talks Nerdy” which you can find at all my articles here will be reedited and re uploaded to my new blog, all reviews for new Doctor Who episodes will be there too. Eventually this blog will be deleted. I hope everyone who enjoyed reading my writing here will follow me onto my new thing.

Many thanks to everyone who has ever read and commented!

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Doctor Who: “The Snowmen” Review

Posted by emmahyam on December 26, 2012

I’ll come straight to the point with this review and say that I feel that with “The Snowmen” that the Doctor Who Christmas Special has finally come of age. This was an episode that struck the ideal balance of humour, scares and pathos so that it was not only a great hour of family entertainment but a fabulous episode of Doctor Who first and foremost.

Matt Smith, striding about Victorian London Town looking like an overgrown Artful Dodger was his usual excellent self, Vastra, Jenny and Strax were not only very welcome comic relief but also served as a great foil for a Doctor in the depths of grief over the fate of the Ponds. Special note must be made of the striking performance of Jenna Louise Coleman. Wether being a prim and proper governess or bouncing off the Doctor as a cheeky London barmaid she simply flies off the screen. Moffat has triumphed once again in setting up a fabulous little mystery to kick off the second half of series 7. Also for the old fans we have an interesting origin story for The Great Intelligence, foe of The Second Doctor. I’m looking forward to seeing if they reoccur, Moffat is the only producer of the show to really play with causality in Doctor Who and really treat out main character as existing outside of time. With all sense of restraint thrown off, he’s freed to do anything. It also helps when the show seems this effortless and the dialogue so witty, It shows the incredible popularity of the show these days that within minutes of the episode finishing “it’s smaller on the outside” tshirts were available to buy online. Once again the wait for spring and the return of Doctor Who seems a very long way away.

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Doctor Who: “The Angels Take Manhattan” Review

Posted by emmahyam on September 29, 2012


Scream, cry, kick the house down in excitement and reach for a box of tissues its time once again (all too soon it seems) for another Doctor Who mid series finale.

And what a finale, Moffat promised us a blockbuster every week and the past four episodes certainly stuck to that promises, going into this show it seemed we were being set up for an Al Capone type noir adventure full of tommy guns and fancy cars but as always The Moff put a swerve on us. This was very much an emotional story about our core four characters of Amy, Rory, River and The Doctor with everyone else pushed out to being somewhat extraneous characters, there to get our heroes to the right place at the right time.

That seems to be my main criticism of Who these days, if you can call it one, that we never seem to have quite enough time, I wish we could have spent some more minutes with Grayle and The Weeping Angels, surely Moffat’s finest monster creation, they were horrifyingly creepy as always with those nasty little cherubs another nice, if skin crawling addition to the monsters pantheon. That being said they felt a little bit off their game here, not quite as scary or horrible as they have previously been in stories like “Flesh and Stone”. I even began to feel a tiny but of sympathy for the one Grayle had been torturing, it reminded me somewhat of the eponymous Dalek from “Dalek”. I think the Angels are something that works best if they’re kept to being an occasional treat rather than a once-a-series regular, here’s hoping we don’t see them again for a little while.

On to the main meat of the episode then, The Ponds, as Moffat promised there were tears a plenty as Amy and Rory went to happily “live to death” courtesy of the Angels, never to see The Doctor or their daughter, River again. Blimey didn’t it seem a dark prospect, not many Saturday evening family telly shows where a couple commit suicide together! It all came good for them in an odd sort of way though, they got to live a long, happy life together and Moffat gave us a wonderful coming of full circle as we finally got an explanation for that odd little moment from “The Eleventh Hour” with the young Amelia. What he takes away with one hand he gives back with the other, it was a remarkably bitter sweet but fitting ending. That’s not to say that the episode had the air of a funeral as some previous departure episodes have had, there was plenty of humour and running around to be done, I particularly liked the sniping between The Doctor and River and their behavior towards each other raised a smile from me, check out The Doctor fixing his hair before he sees River again.

Our core regulars gave marvellous performances across the board, Alex Kingston was smashing selling River’s combination of grief and happiness at the fate of her parents, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill continued their good work from the previous episodes as did the wonderful Matt Smith, being particularly effective at portraying The Doctor’s rage and loneliness as once again The Doctor is left alone, albeit with River’s warning not to stay that way for long.

So what next for the good Doctor? It’s on to the Christmas Special and once again we’ve got the prospect of an unsettled, dark Doctor left to forge on through the universe alone, The Doctor says he hates endings and while its all said and done for The Ponds The Lonely God must move on and I for one can not wait to see what adventures and scrapes he gets himself mixed up in next. Roll on December.

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Doctor Who: “The Power Of Three” Review

Posted by emmahyam on September 22, 2012


Three: it’s the magic number, it’s a hat trick and according to Pythagoras it’s the noblest of all digits but what can it do for The Doctor and his companions? And more importantly what on Earth has it got to do with a plethora of small black cubes? The Power Of Three,  is an extremely good episode, that benefited from a lighter feel than the morality play of “A Town Called Mercy”. There were two story threads at work, the mystery of the cubes and the everyday life of Amy and Rory.

Chris Chibnall has come in for sometimes heavy criticism for his Doctor Who work in the past, something I touched on in my review of “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” but once again he has come up with another Douglas Adams like idea of an extermination via the medium of small, black cubes, at first bewildering as the populace search for meaning in them but then slowly they are integrated into everyday life, only when people accept them as part of the furniture that the cubes strike. It turns out that the cubes are just as avatar of the Shakri, a Timelord fairy story made real come to wipe out the plague of Humanity. Bill Hicks once memorably described people as “a virus with shoes” and it seems the Shakri feel the same way, you wonder why, with the Shakri able to perceive all of time, Earth is due for the exterminators. It struck me as a little simplistic that the episode turned into another “are humans all that bad?” argument. I wonder if this is something that we will be revisiting at some later date? Especially as humanity is supposed to spread throughout the cosmos, as seen in Series One. I hope so. It’s a shame that Steven Berkoff’s baddie felt thrown away in the speed of wrapping everything up.

Chibnall gave the viewer plenty of treats, the now traditional celebrity appearances in the shape of ubiquitous cool science guy Professor Brian Cox and perpetually grumpy Sir Alan Sugar and for long time Doctor Who fans Jemma Redgrave led the return of UNIT to the show, and it was a lovely touch that it turns out she’s The Brig’s daughter. However as I mentioned to my other half, does this mean that “Dimensions In Time” is now canonical? God forbid. The dialogue was mile a minute, almost verging into screwball comedy in some of “lounge” scenes as The Doctor, Amy and Rory affectionately yelled at each other and it was just as laugh out loud funny.

Then there’s the other side of the episode: Rory and Amy, and a glimpse into their lives. Given that the pair are soon to leave the TARDIS, this was a chance to see what they do when the Doctor isn’t around to dump an Ood in their loo and run off again. It turns out The Doctor has been in their lives for ten years, a fact that actually took me back a little, it makes you wonder just how long some of his other companions knocked around the universe with our favourite Timelord. It’s probably not surprising then that a more domestic existence has appeal and an urge to settle down permanently has arisen. we also see the consequence that Rory and Amy’s lifestyle has on the people around them. We’ve had the families of companions taken into account before, but to spend some time deepening their lives was a great move, it’s nice that Rory’s career as a nurse, a flipping good one at that, is given plenty of airtime.

Hauntingly though we got Brian Williams’ realisation of what may be ahead. It was lovely to see a parent react to The Doctor without giving him a slap, unlike previous parents, Brian believes The Doctor is worth the risk but in between some excellent comedy work that sense of foreboding lingers. Mark Williams has for me been the revelation of this mini series of  Doctor Who. In just two episodes, he’s had a real impact on me. Matt Smith was fabulous as always, like the cubes I’m beginning to take him for granted, the episode asks lots of different things of him. He shows off his excellent physical comedy skills once again and in his delivery of the dialogue, for example when he’s getting in a grump about being bored, he’s mesmeric. As well as comedy he also manages to get across things like loneliness, guilt and sadness without any of the changes seeming clunky or forced.

There was a problem with the episode, for all of it’s quality ” The Power Of Three” just had a bit too much going on, it hit a stumbling block come the end of the episode. It felt there was plenty here for a two parter, the slow invasion storyline is wrapped up ridiculously quickly in a simple “reverse the polarity” solution. That being said “The Power Of Three” was enormous fun, very much in the manner of “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” I feel kindly enough towards the sheer fun of it all to excuse the plot wobbles.

Now though begins the wait for the mid-series finale. The promised tear jerker in our series of blockbusters. This is the end of  The Three, the Doctor, Amy and Rory are apparently closer than they’ve ever been. And with The Moff around that’s a sure sign that things are about to go horribly wrong.

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Doctor Who: “A Town Called Mercy” Review

Posted by emmahyam on September 15, 2012



Amongst the best episodes of the last series of Doctor Who was for me Toby Whithouse’s The God Complex, a beautifully made piece of television that was happy to steer the Doctor towards much darker places. Whithouse has history with Doctor Who, having also previously written School Reunion and The Vampires Of Venice. But with A Town Called Mercy, he’s put together something very rare, a Doctor Who Western which actually works, the previous attempt in the shape of  “The Gunfighters” is not an all together well regarded effort, this is a vastly superior episode.

And this is a slightly darker proposition, too. After the comparable lightness of Dinosaurs On A Spaceship, A Town Called Mercy pushes the Doctor to more uncomfortable emotional places than we’ve seen this series thus far. The cracks and strain on the Doctor are starting to show. Series 7 has demonstrated the comedy skills of Matt Smith extremely well and we also get to see his strengths when things go more serious. Smith is just terrific, his faux swagger as he asks for something strong (a cup of tea with the bag left in) while he nearly chokes on this toothpick is in wonderful contrast to his rage at Jex (him shouting at him to sit down nearly caused my eyebrows to fly off my forehead). Its also interesting to compare Jex and The Doctor, deep down they both seek the same thing.

The Doctor, being shown this reflection of himself can’t cope and does something that may make some fans uncomfortable, it takes a simple statement of “this isn’t how we roll” from Amy to bring The Doctor back to Earth and to remind us that The Doctor seeks his redemption through the actions of his friends. Gillan and Darvill are still at their best, with another unspecified period away from The Doctor our companions relationship seems once again to be on an even keel but if the episode has one major flaw its that Amy and Rory don’t get a great deal to do, this very much being a tale of The Doctor’s conflicted nature.  This being said it does bring Amy Pond a little further forward than we’ve seen her the past week or two. It also exists pretty much as a standalone piece, even though there’s the odd hint of undercurrent developing, Jex’s comments on motherhood being both touching and ominous.

The production values ate absolutely terrific, Doctor Who has taken on three different genres this series so far, and each of them has looked outstanding. That’s no small feat, and A Town Called Mercy looks the best of the lot so far. The wild west landscapes look appropriately sunblasted and desolate, A Town Called Mercy is the most cinematic of the three episodes we’ve seen this series to date.

As for the episode itself, Whithouse certainly knows his onions when it comes to westerns. He throws in a few more ingredients, too, with a sense of The Terminator in places, and a tip of the hat to the mighty Westworld in The Gunslinger with a healthy dose of humour chucked in, the horse who really prefers to be called Susan especially amusing. The early part of the episode, where he’s having fun with the genre and exploring it, is arguably when A Town Called Mercy is at its strongest, as the episode progressed I found myself wondering why The Doctor didn’t just use the TARDIS to solve the whole problem, this is addressed somewhat within the episode however its a little dissatisfying, much as in “The God Complex” Whithouse tends not to let a slightly shonky plot holes get in the way of the message he’s trying to get across.

There is a small sense for me that there was a slightly better episode that could have been made out of the mix of ingredients here. That’s not to say A Town Called Mercy is a bad piece of Saturday night telly, far from it. As it stands, though, A Town Called Mercy is a very good episode, with some excellent moments, all draped in utterly lush visuals, another success for the much vaunted “flexible format” of Doctor Who and another blockbuster delivered with confidence and appropriate Wild West swagger.

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Doctor Who: “Dinosaurs On A Spaceship” Review

Posted by emmahyam on September 8, 2012


Like a lot of fans, when I heard the title of this episode, I said “really? Dinosaurs… on a spaceship? What is it actually called?” but no that was the title, so amid many raised eyebrows this episode bursts forth, and how, within minutes you’ve been whipped through multiple timezones and settings at such a dizzying pace that you feel slightly overwhelmed, but that’s Doctor Who these days, keep up or turn over and watch The X Factor instead.

This may read as a criticism but it is not, with an episode this bonkers you need an appropriately bonkers start to hurl you straight in, the madness reflects the chaos that is The Doctor and the whirlwind that is his existence, but anyway on with the episode as The Doctor assembles a motley crew of an Egyptian queen, a big game hunter and the Ponds plus Dad to save a ship full of dinosaurs from being blown up by the Indian Space Agency. This is most definitely a story aimed at the family audience rather than “The Fans” but is that really a bad thing? It’s hard to be cross with an episode that is just this much fun, the humour doesn’t always hit, some of the ‘Carry On’ style jokes will have you groaning but the more subtle joking raised a laugh from me, in particular the lovely touches of the ship being powered by waves from an internal beach and the tantrum throwing useless robots, beautifully voiced by comedy duo Robert Webb and David Mitchell.

The tone is also helped along by the guest stars playing it absolutely straight, it would have been easy for them to mug at the camera, falling about and overacting but they’re extremely believable, I particularly enjoyed Amy taking on the role of The Doctor with two ‘companions’ in Nefertiti and Riddell. Our regulars are on excellent form as always with Arthur Darvill really getting his teeth into the comedy aspects, Matt Smith is great, his face is mesmerizing to watch but also subtle, check out his little smirk when he goes unidentified by Solomon’s scanner, however the stand out performance in the episode is that of Mark Williams as Rory’s Dad Brian, I think we may have found a new Wilfred Mott in him, a man obsessed with golf who carries a trowel with him at all times who in the end of the episode just wants to sit quietly with a sandwich and a cup of tea and gaze down at the Earth, wonderful.

My fears that this episode was just using the Dinosaurs was just a gimmick were quickly allayed by the clever touch of having the ship be a Silurian ark invaded by a sneering villain in the shape of David Bradley’s Solomon and here in lies some of the problem with this episode, while it’s a ton of fun while our heroes are running about the ship, riding on very nicely realised dinosaurs once it gets down the core the episode becomes less interesting, Solomon is a pretty generic baddie, all full of threats and concern only for profit and the ending is a little pat with The Doctor casually blowing up his ship. Chris Chibnall has had a somewhat checkered history with Doctor Who, writing the good but not great “42” and the underwhelming “The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood”, not to mention being largely responsible for the atrocious Torchwood series one. That being said I believe that this is his best work so far, a good, solid episode that’s lots of fun but with some nice, deeper moments being mixed in, the little exchange between Amy and The Doctor sends hair standing up on your arms and gives us some heavy foreshadowing of what is to come and I’m ever so grateful he resisted the temptation of having someone say “I’ve had it with these *expletive deleted* dinosaurs on this *expletive deleted* spaceship!”

This is a story which is most reminiscent of episodes like “The Unicorn and The Wasp” and “The Lodger”, an entertaining romp perhaps let down slightly by not having much of a plot to pin it all on to, that being said I enjoyed watching it tremendously and as a slice of Saturday night entertainment it can’t be beat, I’m very much looking forward to watching it over again to pick up the little bits of dialogue I missed. In a series where Moffat promised us a blockbuster every week this episode certainly delivers.

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Doctor Who: “Asylum of the Daleks” Review

Posted by emmahyam on September 2, 2012


I’m beginning to think Steven Moffat might be some sort of  evil genius, thank goodness that The Moff has turned his mega mind to writing Doctor Who because if not, he’d have probably hollowed out a volcano and held the world to ransom by now. It’s not often that a sofa full of cynical Doctor Who fans, all of over 20 years standing, are shocked into total silence by what they’ve just seen.

We had been lead to believe that we wouldn’t be seeing Jenna-Lousie Coleman, the incoming Doctor Who companion until the Christmas episode but as always we had forgotten the mantra of Matt Smith’s tenure “Moffat Lies”. Companions have gotten out of  tight spots before, but it’ll be interesting to see how Coleman’s character, going by the name of Oswin here, manages to get out of being a Dalek, but is she even the woman we think she is? I expect we will find out soon enough but what another marvellous Moff creation, all full of snarky cracks about the Doctor’s chin and throwaway lines about sexual experimentation (“Actually it was Nina – I was going through a phase…”) there’s a deeper vulnerability there too, which makes her eventual fate in this episode genuinely upsetting.

Meanwhile back with our regulars Arthur Darvill and Karen Gillan are on top form, delivering scenes of the like we’ve never seen between Doctor Who companions before. They sell the fact that the horrors that Rory and Amy have been through have both torn them apart, and left them inseparable. They’ve both actually needed each other as much all along, and only on the precipice of them splitting once and for all can Amy finally admit that to him. Those complaining about a lack of consequences from last year get something meaty to chew on here as it’s reveled that Amy cannot have any more children, heavy stuff for a Saturday evening. You also get the feeling that having reunited them, Moffat is about to put them through the ringer all over again. Matt Smith was once again brilliant as the Doctor, imbuing him with whimsy but also ancient, suspicious and struggling with guilt, look at his reactions to the Daleks throughout, he hates them not only because of what they do, not only because of what they did to him but also because of what he did to them as a consequence of his actions in the past.

I was impressed by everyone’s favourite malevolent pepper pots here, the Asylum is a genuinely unsettling, that the insane Daleks are almost being kept as a exhibition of beauty by the others as well as it being a handy prison, wrapped up in that is the implication that The Dalek’s perversely find The Doctor’s hate beautiful. Having The Daleks forget The Doctor is a wonderful idea, much like the beginning of the series in 2005 where some of the shackles of past continuity were thrown off we get to start all over again with the Daleks, opening up new story possibilities. For me this was very much Moffat’s take on the episode “Dalek” trying to inject tension and pathos back into them. If I have one complaint for this episode its that we didn’t get to see enough of the Daleks, with old models like The Special Weapons Dalek only being glimpsed in the background, it would have been amazing to see them in action again. Mind you the aforementioned sofa full of cynical old git Doctor Who fans were punching the air at the shout outs to past Dalek encounters, the worlds of Spiridon (Planet Of The Daleks), Kembel (Mission To The Unknown) and (The Daleks’ Master Plan) and Exxilon (Death To The Daleks).

It was an impressive opener, it’s a confident, ambitious, bombastic start to a big series for Doctor Who. It packs a lot in, and you can sense that there’s been a real effort to deliver the kind of one-off weekly blockbuster that we’ve been promised and we have to the Oswin questions. Amy, at one point in the episode, has her mind clouded, and sees people where there are actually Daleks. Has the Doctor fallen prey to that, too? Is that why he can hear Oswin’s voice, rather than the sound of a Dalek? How is she going to get from the inside of a Dalek to the Christmas special? Mister Moffat it’s over to you, and I can’t bloody wait.



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Doctor Who “The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe” Review

Posted by emmahyam on December 26, 2011


The Christmas Special as a concept is stuck in a weird catch 22 position, does it go for a intense, plot driven episode which is very much part of the overarching mythos or does it try a fluffier, more simplistic story?  The Doctor Who Christmas Special, despite only being in its seventh year has become enshrined as “traditional” now in the UK and Steven Moffat’s previous Christmas episode effort definitely favoured being “Christmassy” rather than just another episode that was the norm in RTD’s reign. This years effort was more of the same from Moffat’s preferred Christmas story telling, with “The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe” being a standalone, simplistic tale with and strong emotional core at its heart.

While the story itself was probably too simplistic for its own good, lacking in Moffat’s usual head scratching plot twists and favouring the crowd-pleasing ending of having Alexander Armstrong’s character being saved its emotional center and the outstanding cast carried the day to result in probably the most satisfying Christmas Special to date. It was funny yet heartbreaking without being maudlin, the story worked well and the effects work, particularly the wooden King and Queen, who were eerily effective.

The credit for the episode’s overall success must go to Claire Skinner as Madge Arwell, who was utterly compelling as a heartbroken mother desperately trying to keep Christmas sacred for her children and deal with the grief of cruelly losing her husband to war, she hit every note perfectly, in particular the scene where she is forced to witness her husbands death brought tears to my eyes. The two actors playing her children must also be recognized, I loved Maurice  as Cyril, being very believable as a kid mostly stunned into wide eyed silence. Matt Smith is always so good that these days you take his excellent performances for granted, the scene at the very end where he wipes away an all too human happy tear upon being reunited with The Pond’s was simply beautiful. If I have a complaint about the episode is that it almost seem to go by too quickly, the hour absolutely tore past at breakneck speed, Bill Bailey, Arabella Weir and Paul Bazely seemed to be barely on screen as the three tree harvesters from Androzani Major (a very pleasing shout out for us old hands, along with a lovely reference to the Forest of Cheem) and so it sadly seemed like a waste to cast them at all.

It is surprising, looking back on previous Christmas Specials how important they have been to the larger world of Doctor Who, take for example “The Christmas Invasion”, it establishes David Tennant as The Doctor, sees one of the first glimpses of Torchwood in action and prematurely ends Harriet Jones’ reign as Prime Minister, opening the door to The Master’s eventual take over of the world two seasons later. Even “A Christmas Carol”, on the face of it a fluffy modern interpretation of the classic Dicken’s tale has proven to be immensely important, establishing the eleventh Doctor’s willingness to use time travel to manipulate people to his own benefit and obliquely setting up The Silence, don’t believe me?  Go back and listen to Katherine Jenkins’ song at the end, doesn’t she say Silence a lot? In particular the line “when you’re alone/Silence is all you’ll know” seems pretty haunting in retrospect. So this being said what can we infer is coming for series 7? For me The Doctor’s assertion to Madge that he can’t feel as deeply as she does sticks out for as a possible future plot point, also the episodes underlying theme of motherhood and strength is ripe for further exploration, Amy Pond referring to River Song with a very maternal “shes a good girl!” is full of potential.

In summary, “The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe” was perfect Christmas fare, emotional and beautifully made and for us ubernerds, full of intrigue for the future as the long wait for series 7 begins.

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Top Ten: 10 Mad Fan Theories (That Might Actually Be True)

Posted by emmahyam on December 9, 2011

Doctor Who has been with us now for 48 years and naturally in a show with such a long run somethings just don’t make sense. With thousands of hours of televised adventures, hundreds of novels and audio plays, some considered canonical, some not. Some events enshrined into accepted continuity and then retconned back out, some gaps will appear or indeed things that the fans plain just don’t like will be enforced by the producers. Where they do fan theories will step in to fill the holes, here are my top ten favourites, of course your mileage will vary about how convincing they are, as always please read with caution as there be SPOILERS below…

10) The “Five Peri’s” Theory.

After the revelation of Peri’s fate in “Trial of a Timelord” what subsequently happens to her has become somewhat of a mystery with various novels and audio plays either trying to entirely retcon the bizarre decision to marry her off to Yrcanos or have her leave him and somehow get back to Earth. The recent audio play “Peri and the Piscon Paradox” has proposed the idea that there are no fewer than five versions of poor old Peri in existence due to the Time Lords interference in her personal time line, one who was killed in “Mindwarp”, one who married Yrcanos, an older version who only remembers the events of “Planet of Fire” and two others of which nothing is known.

9) The War Chief is a prior regeneration of the Master.

The War Chief is a powerful renegade Time Lord, during the events of “The War Games” he conspires with a very powerful alien race bringing his knowledge of time travel and hypnosis to the table, sound familiar? In terms of personality The War Chief certainly could be the Master, hes arrogant, ambitious, lusts for power and exhibits a fondness for elaborate facial hair. The idea that The War Chief is in fact an earlier incarnation of the Master certainly hold some weight on this basis, the idea first came about when “The Doctor Who Role Playing Game” claimed that The Meddling Monk, The War Chief and The Master were all different incarnations of the same Time Lord. This idea has been accepted as unofficial canon and then contradicted in equal measure with some novels using it as an established fact and some directly stating that this is not the case.

8 ) The Doctor was being metaphorical when he said he was half-human.

This idea originated in fan circles in reaction to the Eighth Doctor’s statement that he was “half human on his mothers side” in the TV Movie. The TV Movie aka “The Enemy Within” presented many problems with canon to say the least but The Doctor coming out with this ‘revelation’ lead to fandom nearly imploding with rage. The implications of The Doctor not being entirely Time Lord were massive, how did he regenerate? How was he brought up Gallifrey if he was partially human? Who on Earth was his mother? The questions raised seemed endless, however a way out presented itself by dismissing the statement as being entirely factious. The Doctor, especially in his later incarnations, is a pretty sarcastic and the king of the wind up and as such the remark can be interpreted as affectionate or a joke. Just as the Eleventh Doctor’s remark to Clyde in The Sarah Jane Adventures episode “Death of the Doctor” that he can regenerate 507 times has been filed under “disregard as joke” by fandom so has The Doctor’s claim to half-humanity.

7) Time Lords only gain their second heart after their first regeneration.

When the first Doctor claims to Ian Chesterton that he is not from Earth, the long suffering science teacher puts his ear to the Doctors chest… and hears nothing unusual, the Doctor must only have one heart beating. We know from the third doctor that having two hearts is the norm for Time Lords, his medical tests during “Spearhead From Space” confirm it and many times since then it has been explicitly stated or shown, after all the seventh Doctor is killed because of Grace’s misunderstanding of his binary hearts. So something must change between the first and third Doctors, the most popular explanation is that a Time Lord only gains a second heart once they’ve regenerated for the first time.

6) Claire Bloom’s character in “The End of Time” is The Doctor’s mother.

The mystery of who exactly Claire Bloom’s character is in “The End of Time” will probably never be resolved on screen and as such the wild speculation as to her precise identity began almost as soon as the credits rolled on the episode. The most popular explanation amongst fans is that she is The Doctor’s mother, in his book “The Writers Tale” Russell T Davies stated that this was his thinking behind the character but he left it deliberately ambiguous. The tenth Doctor’s reaction to her certainly backs up the hypothesis but now RTD has left the series and he did not give an in-episode explanation she could be given any number of alternative identities. Other popular alternative identities include Romana, Susan, Susan’s mother (i.e. The Doctor’s biological daughter), Jenny or even Chancellor Flavia the former Time Lord President.

5) The Third Doctor has a prisoner tattoo

In the third Doctor’s first episode “Spearhead From Space” we are treated to the sight of the Doctor getting out of the shower, while he holding a towel a tattoo of a cobra can be seen on his right forearm (see picture above) in reality the tattoo was Jon Pertwee’s which he got during his days in the navy. No explanation was ever given on screen but the novel “Christmas on a Rational Planet” and fandom at large theorised that it was a criminal brand given to him by the Time Lords and that once they rescinded his exile they stopped it appearing on his next regeneration. A possible interesting (but quite tangential) moment in “The Doctor’s Wife” that could lend the theory further credence is that The Doctor’s fellow Time Lord The Corsair wears a tattoo on all his/her regenerations, a Oroborus, a snake eatings its own tail. When The Doctor discovers it on Auntie the tattoo is on the left arm, is it possible that The Corsair was also a criminal and first given that mark by the Time Lords?

4) The fifth Doctor is the final incarnation of the original Doctor. The Sixth Doctor is a reincarnation, and the beginning of a new 13 body lifecycle.

In the episode “The Brain of Morbius” The Doctor challenges the renegade Time Lord Morbius to an ancient, dangerous Time Lord challenge, a Mind Bending Contest (see picture above). They square up at the machine and The Doctor’s previous incarnations flash up on a screen, the third, the second, the first… and then an unfamiliar face flashes up, then another and another as Morbius screams “back! Back through your past!” Eight in all flash by. If all those faces were previous Doctors then that means that the person who we all thought was the fourth Doctor is actually the twelfth! When the fifth Doctor (or should that be thirteenth?) regenerates he says “it feels different this time” and then transforms into the sixth Doctor… or begins a brand new lifecycle and is in fact the first Doctor… again. This theory has also been used to explain the sixth Doctor’s unhinged behavior and total confusion. This theory has been utterly debunked by virtually every other piece of Doctor Who canon, “The Brain of Morbius” was written some time before the 13 regeneration limit was established and the series (especially post 2005) has gone to great pains to establish that The Doctor we are watching is either the ninth, tenth or eleventh and that William Hartnell was the very first Doctor. The faces that we see in the mind bending machine have been explained away as being previous faces of Morbius and that he was just ranting when he said “how long have you lived?”… or was he?

3) The Time War was the cause of the 8th Doctor regenerating into the 9th.

This is an idea that has now been generally accepted into the canon, the tenth Doctor implies in “Journey’s End” that the ninth Doctor was “born into battle”, its easy to imagine the eighth Doctor sacrificing himself to time lock the Daleks and Time Lords and leaving an emotionally scarred, newly regenerated ninth Doctor to walk away. This is one of the theories that will probably be an accepted albeit unstated part of the canon until we get an alternative presented on screen.

2) Series 6b

This is the big one, the granddaddy of all fan theories, first raised by Paul Cornell, writer of Doctor Who novels, audio plays and episodes for the new series. It explains continuity discrepancies in the Second Doctor’s life as it expands on televised Doctor Who canon and places new adventures for the Second Doctor between The War Games and the first appearance of the Third Doctor at the start of Spearhead from Space. There are two continuity errors in “The Two Doctors” which can only explained by the existence of a series 6b where The Doctor was working for the Time Lords, firstly why the second Doctor and Jamie look visibly older and secondly why the Doctor had a remote controlled TARDIS which no other Doctor has had before or since. Despite series 6b being a neat explanation it also raises plenty of problems on its own if accepted as part of official canon.

1) The “Take 5” Theory.

This theory proposes that every incarnation of the Doctor is most like the incarnation that came five changes previously, so the sixth Doctor is like the first Doctor, the seventh is like the second, the eighth is like the third and so on. On the face of it this theory makes quite a lot of sense, for instance the seventh Doctor is a mysterious trickster of short stature who people constantly underestimate, quite like the second doctor. The theory seems especially convincing in the case of the tenth and fifth Doctors, just watch “Time Crash” which is essentially ten minute long proof of this theory in action! Unfortunately this theory hits a major roadblock in the fourth and ninth Doctors as the ninth Doctor could not be further removed from the fourth Doctor if you tried, I await the twelfth incarnation of the Doctor with baited breath, if only to see if they’re anything like the seventh Doctor…

Have you got any strange theories? What do you think of these ones? Let me know in the comments!

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Top Ten: The Weirdest Companion Exits

Posted by emmahyam on November 21, 2011

In the world of Doctor Who the friends The Doctor travels with are just as important to the story as the good Doctor himself, they are our window into the fantastical world he inhabits. When a companion decides to leave the Doctor’s company its a sometimes a sombre occasion, or sometimes a cause for bittersweet happiness as someone take their chance to spread their wings away from The Doctor and every so often the manner in which the companion leaves is just downright strange. In this post I’ll explore the ten strangest ways in which some of our faithful friends have moved on from the Who-niverse. As always I wont be shying away from SPOILERS for this post so please read with caution, also I’ve picked this list based purely off what we see of the Doctor’s televised adventures, not any of the books or audio plays.

10) Liz Shaw

Liz Shaw is a strange case all around, although generally regarded as a companion of The Doctor by fans she never gets to travel in the TARDIS as The Doctor is confined to the Earth by the Time Lords, she is there as she’s on attachment to UNIT and ends up being The Doctor’s assistant by default as shes the only one who can keep up with him, having several degrees across several disciplines. Her odd status very contributes to her equally odd exit, she never gets one. Sometime in between the end of series seven’s “Inferno” and the beginning of series eight shown in the events of “Terror of the Autons” she just disappears, sending a message via The Brigadier that shes gone back to Cambridge to continue her own studies, stating that all the Doctor needed was “someone to pass him his test tubes and tell him how brilliant he was.” Considering that Liz is replaced by Jo Grant, perhaps the archetypal ‘ask-stupid-questions-and-get-kidnapped-a lot’ companion I don’t think she was too far off the mark.

9) Leela

Leela, daughter of Sole, warrior of The Sevateem, blasphemer, stowaway and ultra violent Eliza Doolittle, what fate would befit her? Glorious death defending her people? Leaving the Doctor to lead the Sevateem or perhaps another tribe in need of the knowledge she could bring? Nope, she declares that shes in love with someone she has virtually no screen time with. In “The Invasion of Time” while Leela traipses around the hinterlands of Gallifrey trying to jolly together support for The Doctors throughly bonkers plan, The Doctor is lumbered with dragging around Andred, the nice-but-dim Commander of the Chancellory Guard. After The Doctor’s plan somehow comes together and its time to be off on the next adventure, Leela declares that shes staying on Gallifrey because shes in love with a just as surprised as we are Andred, to which The Doctor just shrugs his shoulders and leaves. While the “falling in love with a random person from the story” exit strategy is by no means unusual for companions, Leela’s is so out of character its embarrassing and its someone she has no time alone with, she might as well as shacked up with Castellan Kelner! Also for those of us who care about such things it directly contradicts previous canon that stated the aliens are not allowed on Gallifrey, which after all why Sarah Jane Smith has to leave The Doctor!

8 ) Tegan Jovanka

Everyones favourite stroppy mouth on legs Tegan always seemed like a somewhat reluctant TARDIS traveller, she spends most of her time aboard wanting to leave and having passive-aggressive arguments with some of her fellow travellers, Tegan’s final departure from the TARDIS comes after months of painful events, the death of Adric, her possession by The Mara, Nyssa’s decision to leave and the bloody beginning of the Dalek civil war all prove too much. Tegan seemingly decides on the spot at the end of “Resurrection of the Daleks” to leave The Doctor’s company, says a extremely perfunctory and accusatory goodbye to The Doctor and Turlough and runs out of the warehouse, but then almost immediately seems to change her mind, only to see that the TARDIS has already left. I think this departure is odd as it seems to come out of nowhere and Tegan leaves the Doctor on a fairly bitter note, a pretty unusual choice.

7) Romana I

After her adventures searching for the Key to Time with The Doctor everything seems fine and dandy with our resident Time Lady, as the fourth doctor chats to her from the console room Romana enters, looking completely different she apparently decides to regenerate just for the hell of it, eventually settling on a form resembling Princess Astra. This is an odd exit for me as not only do we  not get a chance to say a proper goodbye to a character but there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the regeneration at all.

6) Peri (Perpugilliam) Brown

Peri’s adventures with the Doctor were always a bit… troubled to say the least, poor old Peri could make lists like this several times over, its not many companions who are nearly throttled to death by the Doctor, however its when we get to her final appearance in “Mindwarp” part of the infamous “Trial of a Timelord” series that things get really weird. At the end of the episode Peri is killed when Lord Kiv replaces her brain with his and Kiv-in-Peri’s-body is killed by Yrcanos (as played by a typically bombastic Brian Blessed). Just as you’re getting over this out of the blue death of another companion, it is revealed to the Doctor, in a pretty “oh by the way” style by The Inquisitor, that Peri was rescued from the time stream at the last second and allowed to live out her days as a warrior queen alongside Yrcanos. As if that wasn’t demented enough the episode “The Ultimate Foe” chooses to portray this by showing Peri and Yrcanos in the only scene they’re in together in “Mindwarp” inside a pink loveheart (see picture above), and the Doctor never bothers to go back for her.

5) Dodo Chaplet

I guarantee that anyone playing the “name all the companions of The Doctor game” will probably forget one along the way and that one will probably be Dodo, although she travels with The Doctor for all of series 3 most details of Dodo’s life, her childhood, the reasons she started and stopped travelling with the Doctor, and even her death are shrouded in a confusion created by several highly contradictory and speculative accounts. Her departure is extremely bizarre, in “The War Machines” after being brainwashed by WOTAN The Doctor sends Dodo away to recuperate in the country, however she never returns, sending her key to the TARDIS back with Polly, no explanation, no goodbyes, very strange indeed.

4) Adam

There isn’t really a lot to say about Adam, the forgotten companion of the new series (I think its telling that Adam is just about the only character that doesn’t make a return appearance in “The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End”) however is exit is remarkable as he is the only companion that has ever been ‘fired’ by The Doctor for not being good enough and messing up. Lots of companions make mistakes or disobey The Doctor, indeed quite a few stories would never happen if it wasn’t for a companion wandering off somewhere or touching something they shouldn’t, I think The Doctor just plain didn’t like the guy.

3) Kamelion

Poor, poor Kamelion, the unfortunate, malfunctioning, weak willed android disaster, seemingly realising he was just too rubbish to live, he asks The Doctor to put him out of his misery and kill him, which the Doctor does, if the Doctor effectively murdering one of his companions isn’t weird, then I don’t know what is.

2) Adric

Oh goodness me, Adric. He dies heroically saving the Earth, crashing into the prehistoric planet, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs, the reason why I find this one a weird exit is The Doctor’s reluctance to save him from his fate, the TARDIS is damaged in “Earthshock” but he still chooses not to travel back in time and save him once its started working again. The introduction of the “fixed points in time” concept in recent series actually lends us a nifty piece of possible retcon, if Adric’s death is a fixed point in established history then it would cause a paradox if he saved Adric, however the Doctor doesn’t bring any of his up at the time so it really seems like he just can’t be bothered.

1) Susan

Put yourself in Susan’s shoes, you go to an Earth devastated by a Dalek Invasion, you’re separated from your Grandfather and friends and meet a freedom fighter called David Campbell, you fall in love with him and your Grandfather, deciding from completely out of nowhere that you’re far too dependent on him, locks you out of your home and leaves you with a near total stranger in a destroyed, terribly dangerous city after making some half hearted promises that he’ll pop back and see you sometime. Couldn’t The Doctor have least dropped them off somewhere nice instead of leaving them in a post apocalyptic wasteland? Susan’s enforced exit is made all the weirder by the fact that The Doctor is stranding his own grandchild in a total hellhole with someone shes only just met!

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