The Blue Box Blog

Emma Lou's adventures in Doctor Who fandom

Archive for October, 2010

Continuity? Schmon-tanuity!

Posted by emmahyam on October 21, 2010

The thorny issue of continuity has always been a plague upon long running Science Fiction programmes, Doctor Who especially so, after all, in a production thats lasted nearly 50 years, been written by hundreds of different people with different visions for the future of the show and has (thus far) spanned 759 episodes and two spin-off shows is going to have the occasional problem keeping its ducks in a row.

Continuity has always been a special interest of mine, and in the wake of the latest episode of the Sarah Jane Adventures where Sarah Jane casually stops the peoples of Earth seeing a pyramid on Mars (see  the Tom Baker story “The Pyramids of Mars” non classic Who fans) reconciling the new with the old with the spin-off has created its own cottage industry of books and websites.

So heres a run down of my top ten pub argument causing Doctor Who continuity issues:

10 – What DID The meta-crisis Tenth Doctor say to Rose on Bad Wolf Bay?

Well this seems fairly obvious to me judging by Rose’s reaction to whatever it was he said (!) but with some of old Doctor Who fans violently opposed to The Doctor showing any hint of sexuality or indeed sexual attraction to his various hot companions a dispute ignited. This has run to the extent that people absolutely refuse to believe that he probably said “I love you” and will argue that he said ANYTHING else until they are blue in the face.

9 – Just how advanced is human science?

As I mentioned earlier, in the most recent episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures Sarah Jane and chums are watching a Mars probe sending footage to Earth, suddenly Sarah Jane has Mr Smith cut the transmission just before the probe sees the stonking great pyramid. Heres the rub friends, in the UNIT/Earthbound era of Doctor Who, humanity (specifically the UK) are sending men to Mars! So how have we taken the retrograde step of walking on Mars to just sending probes there for a glance? The issue is further muddied by the episode The Waters of Mars where we have a well established base on Mars by 2059, apparently now totally safe from the Pyramid next door. This also throws up the issue of who are Mars’ residents? The Osirans? Ice Warriors? The Flood? Search me squire….

8 – Where on Earth was Torchwood?

Torchwood was set up by Queen Victoria in the episode “Tooth and Claw with a remit to investigate paranormal events such as the werewolf in this episode, and (ironically) to guard against the Doctor should he return. A fine idea with one major problem, where the hell were they when The Doctor was working with UNIT on Earth FOR YEARS? Part of Torchwood’s whole mission is to capture The Doctor at almost any cost, they seem to know everything UNIT is up to at any given time so there is no way they had no idea he was there. The easy way to do it is to do some nifty ret-conning and say that >insert minor character from the UNIT era< was a double agent working for Torchwood and was under orders to observe The Doctor. But unfortunately this is an issue that is near impossible to reconcile.

7 – How old is The Doctor exactly?

One of the main problems that has been thrown up by having many different writers on the series is that The Doctor  has quoted his age as many different things, the main split has come up between the classic series and the new series, in “Time and The Rani” the seventh doctor gives his age as 953, come “Voyage of the Damned” hes back to being 903. A nice easy explanation is that The Doctor doesn’t really know himself, and since the Time War has screwed everything up everything is up in the air.

6 – Time may change me, but can I change time…?

In “The Aztecs” Barbara  desperately tries to change history and save the Aztec people from destruction by Europeans by trying to persuade the people to stop human sacrifices. However she fails and The Doctor famously tells her  “You can’t rewrite history! Not one line!”. The Doctor Who Wiki explains the dilemma best:

Although the nature of Time and its laws has never been fully explained, numerous later episodes would further explore them, showing that some fixed points of time are absolute, and others are indeed changeable. The Time Lords (including the Doctor) give clear indication of their position that they and they alone understand how to properly “rewrite history”.

But does The Doctor? See his colossal cock-up dethroning Harriet Jones in “The Christmas Invasion” which allowed The Master in the guise of Harold Saxon to become Prime Minister and conquer the Earth! The Doctor had previously told us that Harriet Jones was destined to be PM for three terms and usher in a ‘golden age’ for the UK, in a fit of anger The Doctor changes everything. And creates a massive headache for us continuity hounds.

5 – The Daleks…?

The timeline of The Daleks rise, fall, rise, fall and god-knows-what is a very tricky subject, and the Time War has only muddied the waters further, when The Daleks develop time-travel is a sticky issue so we never know when exactly The Daleks are from, The Doctors setting back of The Daleks development “1000 years” in “Genesis of the Daleks” creates yet more confusion. Just about the only thing anyone can agree on is that “The Evil of the Daleks” is The Daleks last canonical appearance…. probably.

4 – What even counts as “canon” anyway?

Most fans agree that what is on TV is “what really happened” in The Doctor Who Universe, most would accept K-9 and Company, Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures, The Infinite Quest and Dreamland as occurring in the same universe. There was quite some consternation amongst fans as to if the new series was part of the same canon as the classic series until episodes like “School Reunion” placed the new firmly in with the old. When it comes to things like the novels and audio adventures, the line is much more sketchy, for example Gallifrey has been destroyed in the novels and in the TV series, but for two entirely different reasons! There is also the phenomenon of “Fanon” a combination of the words “fan” and “canon”, these are facts that have been made up by fans over the years to fill gaps in existing continuity/canon, and which become accepted as canon by the fanbase, despite not being supported in on-screen continuity. See the entry below…

3 – Season 6B

This is a concept invented by fandom to explain continuity discrepancies in the Second Doctor’s life it expands 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. Such as why the second Doctor and Jamie look visibly older in episodes like “The Two Doctors”. As with all neat fan theories, its accepted by some, rejected by others, and also creates continuity problems of it own, sigh….

2 – Wait… The Doctor is half human??!!

Oh that bloody TV Movie, in it the recently regenerated eighth Doctor claims to be half human on his mothers side to howls of derision from fans everywhere. Until “Human Nature” showed the eighth Doctor as a previous face of The Doctor, most fans rather hoped to discount him entirely in the manner of the Peter Cushing movies just to remove this stupid line. Most fans now try to disregard it as a sarcastic quip. The BBC official website answers the question thusly in its FAQ’s

“Yes, on his mum’s side. It was established in the Doctor Who TV Movie; however purists tend to disregard this.”

To bloody right we do!

1 – The UNIT dating controversy..

When are the earth bound Pertwee era stories set, the 60’s? The 70’s? The 80’s? This issue has hundreds of websites, books and fanzines devoted to it, I’ve seen this debate descend into full blown arguments and flame wars, argument and counter-argument presented then disregarded. Even The Doctor isn’t sure when asked in “The Sontaran Stratagem” so I’m not touching this with a barge pole… now when I say run, run…

…..I think they’re set in the late 70’s…

RUN!!!!!!!

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