Doctor Who 6 - 10


Now Peter Capaldi is in his last season as Doctor Who. He's has already played 'WHO Doctor' - a doctor from the World Health Organization, in the movie, World War Z. That's too precious!

Note that the index below is alphabetical, not chronological, with the season and episode in parenthesis. The reviews themselves are chronologically arranged, with the season starting with the 2005 reboot, not with the original 1963 series. This page covers season six onwards. Seasons 1 - 5 are covered on a diferent page, and only for my favorite episodes.


6.0 A Christmas Carol by Steven Moffat (index)

The Doctor Who Christmas show has become something of a tradition in Britain since the series was rebooted in 2005. This ep pulled a total audience of about a fifth of the British population!

This one opens with Amy and Rory enjoying their honeymoon on a space liner, which becomes dysfunctional on approach to a very cloudy planet. The crew lose control and the captain announces to them, "The ship is going down! Christmas is canceled!" They detect a distress signal being sent from the honeymoon suite and Amy shows up on the bridge (where's their security?!). She's wearing the police officer's outfit from The Eleventh Hour.

Amy: I've sent for help
Captain: "Who the hell are you?
Amy: Look, there's a friend of mine, okay? And he can help us. He'll come!
Captain: "And what are you wearing?
Amy: Uh, that doesn't matter!
Captain: Are you from the honeymoon suite?
Amy: Oh...shut up!
[Rory arrives wearing his Roman soldier outfit from The Pandorica Opens]
Rory: Amy! The light's stopped flashing! Does that mean he's coming?
[The pilot glances at Rory]
Pilot: Honeymoon suite?
Rory: Oh! Oh the clothes! Um...it is...just a bit of fun!
Amy: Shut up!

How can you not be in love with this ep already?! And note that this is the first ep to feature Arthur Darvill in the credits right up there with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. Now he's official, and after the last two eps, he's most definitely earned it.

Down on the planet's surface, we see a huge electrical arc discharging into the sky from the tallest building, and everywhere is set up for Christmas, but there is no snow. We learn from a speech by Sardick, who lives in the tallest building, that this isn't Earth, and he's worse than Ebenezer Scrooge. A family is trying to persuade him to let an aunt out of stasis just for one day, but he refuses because they owe him 4,000 Gideons, and until it's paid, they won't let her out. He does have her stasis chamber in the room so they can see her frozen face.

As they're talking, the TARDIS materializes somewhere within earshot. Right after Sardick tells them they have a surplus population, and they should pray for a miracle, The Doc drops down the chimney and starts rambling about Santa Claus, "...or, as I've always known him, Jeff." The Doc then notes that there's a "big, flashy, lighty thing"! "Big, flashy, lighty things have got me written all over them. Not actually, but give me time...and a crayon!" he gushes; then he notices the woman, Abigail, in stasis. She's actually played by Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins in her acting debut.

Sardick tells The Doc she's no one important, and The Doc responds, "You know, in 900 years I've never met anyone who isn't important." Sardick tosses the family out and the young boy throws something at him, but at the last minute Sardick can't hit him. The Doc is impressed by this and compares Sardick with Christmas: halfway out of the dark.

Back in the street he talks to Amy and tells her he got nowhere. One of the guys in the street shakes his hand and congratulates him on standing up to Sardick. Then he tells The Doc that there's a fish warning and he should get indoors. The Doc looks up and sees fishing swimming in the fog around the street light. He hears a Christmas carol and decides that A Christmas Carol is exactly what Sardick needs.

Sardick is fast asleep in his chair by the fire dreaming of when he was a kid pursuing a special project - that of filming the fish. His dad comes in and is angry with him for wanting to see the fish, eventually slapping the boy across the face. Sardick awakes and sees the image being projected in the room, and he feels the slap even in his old age. The Doc shows up, and Sardick demands an explanation. The Doc apologizes for the picture quality saying he had to retrieve it from an old drive using "quantum enfolding and a paperclip"!

As Sardick watches the image, he sees The Doc arrive in it. The Doc starts talking to the younger Sardick, watched by the older Sardick, and he produces his psychic paper to prove to the kid that he's a real babysitter:

The Doc: I think you'll find that I'm universally recognized as a mature and responsible adult.
[Young Sardick looks at the psychic paper]
The Boy: It's just a lot of wavy lines!
[The Doc looks at the psychic paper]
The Doc: Yeah, it's shorted out. Finally, a lie too big!

Classic stuff!

The Doc admits he's not a real babysitter, but he's ideal for Christmas Eve. As he stands in the open window, his back to the outdoors, we see a large, scary, shadowy form flit by. He tells the kid, "We're boys and you know what boys say in the face of danger? Mummy!" He sets up the sonic to emit a pulse which ought to attract fish. One shows up and is quickly consumed by a large shark, along with The Doc's sonic. He manages to get it back, but part of it stays in the shark and now the shark appears to be dying because it cannot stay out of the ice clouds for long.

The boy tells The Doc where he can find an ice box. The stasis boxes are all full, but the boy says they can let her out for a short time, and use her box. The boy explains to The Doc why these people are in stasis. The shark homes in on them and chases them around the stasis boxes, but they hear singing! Here's Karen Jenkins's chance to shine. She got out of the stasis box when it was knocked over and now she can charm the fish by singing to them.

The Doc figures out how this works, but he's bitten by the fish because he's talking over her performance. He loads the shark, Abigail, and the boy aboard the TARDIS and takes them into the clouds, which are filled with fish,. They release the shark. The Doc asks what the number means on her stasis chamber, She doesn't explain. When they replace her in her box back in the basement, the boy tells her that they will come every Christmas Eve, and they return the next year, but as they run off to have fun, the number on her door drops from eight to seven (when I first typed this, I mistyped 'fun' as 'fin' which is particularly appropriate given the story line, don't you think?!

The Doc attracts the shark, which still has a part of his screwdriver in it, and uses it as a reindeer to pull their sleigh through the clouds. Meanwhile Sardick is gaining memories as they're created, including the photographs which the Boy takes. With each visit, the Boy ages until he's as old as she is. They seem to have far more Christmases than Abigail had days left on her countdown, and as they pass more of them, she finally becomes sad and tells Kazran her secret at a party at Frank Sinatra's home. The Doc accidentally gets engaged to Marilyn Monroe, and they don't tell him what the problem is.

Kazran puts her back in her box, and Kazran tells The Doc he doesn't want to do this any more because Christmas is for kids. He grows older and older and eventually Amy appears to him as the ghost of Christmas present. When Kazran micks her outfit (the police woman's outfit) Rory appears and tells him to take his eyes off the legs! Next he hears carolers, and goes to look. Amy reappears and tells him it's the passengers on the crashing space liner who are singing for their lives.

Kazran finally tells Amy what's wrong: Abigail is dying, and if Kazran let her out she would live for only one more day. They show him the space liner, but he's unmoved. The Doc resolves to show him the future, but he means letting young Kazran see what he turns into. Kazran the elder almost hits himself and cries at his violent streak. He goes to his machine to save the space liner, but he cannot control it now - the machine doesn't recognize him. The only way to save them now is to use the sonic to transmit Abigail's voice. Her voice unlocks the clouds and it snows. You can listen to her song here. It's beautiful.

6.1 The Impossible Astronaut by Steven Moffat (index)

Sadly, this ep opens with a dedication to Elisabeth Sladen, 1948 - 2011. Unfortunately, Sladen was born in 1946! Oh well. We immediately move to a period which looks like the 17th century, with three men bursting into a room (which holds a rather risqué painting of The Doc, still on the easel) demanding, 'Where's The Doctor?" to which a young woman responds, "Doctor Who?" She might have got away with it if The Doc didn't sneeze from his hiding place under her voluminous dress.

Next Amy is reading a history book to Rory, who is putting two bags of groceries onto the kitchen counter. The book details that as a result of his capture in those circumstances, The Doc was incarcerated in the Tower of London. Next he's in an escape tunnel being dug out of a German PoW camp. Amy, back again, observes that "...it's like he's being deliberately ridiculous...". They happen to be watching (again, as Amy observes) a Laurel and Hardy comedy, in which The Doc appears. Just then, the mail arrives and in it is a TARDIS blue envelope with the number 3 on the back, containing an invitation with nothing but a date, a time, and a map reference, which happens to be in the USA.

Next we see River Song, still apparently in Storm Cage, opening an envelope which looks exactly like the one Amy had, but we do not see the back of it. It seems that she has received the same invitation. Suddenly the alarms are going off in the prison and one of the guards is telling the warden that he needs to get down there because Doctor Song is packing. "It seems," he says, "that she's going to some planet called America"

Rory and Amy arrive on a yellow school bus emblazoned with "San Juan School District" along the side, and this time Rory is wearing shorts and Amy long pants. Weird! As the bus drives off, they see The Doc sitting on the hood (bonnet!) of a 1959 Edsel Villager station wagon. He greets them with hugs and announces "I wear a Stetson now. Stetsons are cool!" whereupon it's promptly shot off his head by River Song.

Immediately they're in a cafe and River is going through her TARDIS book to place where she's at with The Doc. "Have we done Easter Island yet? They worshiped you there!" she says hilariously. The Doc mentions Jim the Fish and River is excited, asking how he is. The Doc replies that he's still building his dam. The Doc then announces that he's been running his whole life and now it's time to stop, and tonight he's going to need them all with him. They're going on a trip to 1969, but next they're on a sandy hook by a placid lake, drinking wine. Amy asks him since when does he drink wine, and The Doc replies that he's 1,103, he must have drink it some time. Amy informs him that he was 908 the last time they saw him, which should tell us there's something seriously adrift here.

The Doc spits out the wine and complains that he thought it would taste more like the gums. Amy sees an alien over on the dunes, and asks "Who's that?" but when Rory asks her who is what and she looks at him, she's forgotten the very existence of the alien. They talk about 1969 and The Doc tells them a lot more happened then than anyone remembers and he repeats his line, "Human beings, I thought I'd never get done saving you!" (note the tense) and as he's saying that, an old guy shows up in what looks like a 2005 Ford quad cab diesel pickup truck. The Doc recognizes him and waves.

Right when Amy asks The Doc who it is, River spots an astronaut emerging from the lake. Space suits are actually water-tight, and astronauts practice underwater in them because by weighting themselves properly, they can simulate the gravity of the Moon or the free-fall of Earth orbit. The Doc is evidently expecting this, because he warns all of them to stay back and not to interfere whatever happens.

River, Amy, Rory, and the old man watch as The Doc talks with the astronaut, who lifts the gold-leaf sun shade but we don't see who's inside the suit. Then the astronaut shoots The Doc, and as he begins to regenerate, shoots him again, thereby destroying his regeneration. The regeneration aspect of this might be a problem (we'll consider it later. Much later! Spoilers!)

No one seeks to grab the astronaut, who retreats into the lake. River scans The Doc and immediately stands up and fires six shots from her revolver into the retreating astronaut without effect. The old man delivers a can of gasoline (petrol) and they put The Doc onto a rowboat, soak the body in the fuel, and set fire to it, watching as it floats away. River asks the man who he is. He's Canton Everett Delaware the third, and he already knows who all the others are. He has a blue envelope, number 4. River has number 2. Amy and Rory have number 3, so where is number 1?

Amy is despairing, River is telling her they need to focus, and Rory focuses on a blue envelope sitting on a table, with the number 1 on the back. Rory, responding to River, says The Doc would send the envelopes to those he trusted, so who did he trust the most? Right then, out of the bathroom, comes The Doc! He hugs Amy and Rory and says to River, "Oh you bad, bad girl! What trouble have you got for me this time?" whereupon she slaps him so hard across his cheek. He says he was there because he got an envelope. River makes The Doc tell Amy how old he is and he announces 909, which is really interesting because next year he'll be a Beatles song!

River asks him if they've done Jim the Fish yet, and The Doc replies, "Who's Jim the Fish?" The Doc demands to know what they are all doing here, and River tells him "Space, 1969, and a man called Canton Everett Delaware the third." In the TARDIS, they set off and The Doc is still trying to get a handle on what's going on. He says, "Canton Everett Delaware the third! How many of those can there be? Well, three, I suppose...!" he turns to Rory and asks him if everyone is cross with him for some reason. Rory says, "I'll find out" and hastens away!

The three of them have a confab in the engineering space under the TARDIS console. River is insistent that they cannot tell The 909 Doc anything about what they witnessed with The Doc 1103. The Doc yells down, "I'm being extremely clever up here and there's no one to stand around looking impressed. What's the point in having you all?" River swears she wants to slap him. Again. Amy asks River how she can be okay with this. River replies, "The Doctor's death doesn't frighten me. Neither does my own. There's a far worse day coming for me."

The Doc grills River about who she is and why she's in prison. He won't trust her, so Amy asks that he trust her. She tells him he has to do this and he can't ask why. The Doc demands that Amy swears to him on something that matters and she replies, "Fish fingers and custard." They discover that Canton Everett Delaware the third is ex-FBI, but the president is trying to recruit him to help find out who is calling him. He gets calls every day on his private phone no matter where he is. Everett asks, "Man or woman?" and the pres replies, "Neither!" He tells Delaware that he's his second choice for this job to which Everett replies that Nixon was his second choice, too.

The Doc goes around his console pressing levers (since this is in the US, is that a Levver or a lea-ver?) telling them that he's going to land silently. River follows behind and corrects his error, but denies to him that she touched anything. The Doc announces that he will also make the TARDIS invisible, which is a real drain on power. River follows behind and corrects his error again, and again denies to him that she touched anything.

The Doc steps out to finds he's actually in the oval office of the White House (not to be confused with the oval room!). The caller is neither a man nor a woman. It's a young girl, but Nixon thinks it's a boy based on three names the child gives: Jefferson Adams Hamilton which happen to be all names of presidents. Then they spot The Doc.

The Doc tries to beat a not-so-subtle retreat but dings himself on the invisible TARDIS, Delaware wrestles him to the ground, and a bunch of Secret Service agents comes tumbling into the room. The Doc tells River to make the TARDIS visible,and that stops everything dead in its tracks.

Next The Doc is sitting in the president's chair, feet on the desk, telling Nixon that the child told him everything he needs to know, but he'll take the case anyway. He's surrounded by by agents with guns drawn on him. He tries to make the point that he just landed the TARDIS undetected right in the middle of them, and says, "Do you think you can just shoot me?" To which River urgently responds, bursting out of the TARDIS, "They're Americans!" Perfect!

The Doc introduces himself as the new undercover agent from Scotland Yard, adding, with regard to his companions, "And these are my top operatives: 'The Legs', 'The Nose', and 'Mrs Robinson'" to which River responds, "I hate you!" One of the agents, Peterson, keeps warning everyone not to interact with the intruders, warning them that The Doc is "...a clear and present danger...," but Everett says, "Mr President, that man walked in here with a big blue box and three of his friends, and that's the man he walked past. One of them is worth listening to!"

Amy sees another alien in the doorway to the oval office, but she forgets about it as soon as Rory steps in front of her and asks her what she remembers. She says, "Nothing", but when she goes to the rest room right afterwards, she encounters this same alien in there. Another woman comes out of the stall and almost screams at the alien and then thinks it's a joke. When Amy tells her to get back from it, she turns and forgets the alien immediately, asking Amy. Get back from what, honey?" The alien disintegrates the woman and Amy snaps a pic of it on her cell phone. The alien tells Amy she must tell The Doc what he must know and what he must never know. But Amy forgets.

The Doc takes them to the only place in the USA the child - whose name is not Jefferson Adams Hamilton - could be: at the intersection (junction) of Hamilton Avenue, Jefferson Street, and Adams Street. As they explore the warehouse at this intersection, the astronaut watches them. Rivers tracks some piping to a metal hatch in the ground. She goes down to investigate. The Doc tells her to shout if she gets in trouble, to which Rivers responds, "Don't worry! I'm quite the screamer. Now there's a spoiler for you!" and she disappears down the hatch. Delaware asks, right after, "So what's going on here" concerned about the warehouse and The Doc guiltily says, "She just a friend!"

River encounters the beat below, but forgets she's seen it, and tells everyone that it's all clear down there. The Doc sends Rory with her this time. They explore more deeply into the tunnels which River says are really old, wondering why no one has noticed them. They find a door and River sets about picking the lock, saying, "How's a girl to resist?" Rory tasks her with "Is this sensible?" and River replies, "God, I hope not!" As she picks away Rory asks her what she meant when she said there was a worse day coming for her.

River: When I first met The Doctor, long, long time ago, he knew all about me. Think about that. Impressionable young girl and suddenly this man just drops out of the sky, and he's clever, and mad, and wonderful, and knows every last thing about her. Imagine what that does to a girl.
Rory: I don't really have to.
River: Trouble is, it's all back to front. My past is his future. We're traveling in opposite directions. Every time we meet, I know him more, he knows me less. I live for the days when I see him, but I know that every time I do, he'll be one step further away. And the day's coming when I'll look into that man's eyes...my doctor...and he won't have the faintest idea who I am. And I think it's going to kill me.

Brilliant speech; not strictly true! The enter the locked hatch and find something remarkably similar to the console on the TARDIS - or more accurately, remarkably similar to the space ship in The Lodger. Back up top, they hear the girl calling, and Amy feels stomach cramps and insists that she has to tell The Doc something really important: she's pregnant! They find Delaware lying on the floor, knocked out, and Amy insists upon telling The Doc something, but before she can, the astronaut shows up, and when the mask is lifted this time, we see it's a young girl, but Amy has already pulled Delaware's gun and fired a shot at the astronaut.

6.2 The Day of the Moon by Steven Moffat (index)

Amy is running - chased by Canton Everett Delaware the third (the younger). She captured and ends up in a body bag. The Doc is a prisoner in Area 51, surrounded by armed guards, chained (literally) to a chair, and sporting a beard - the first doctor to have one! Workmen (presumably with immensely high security clearance) are building what looks to be a wall made from large, closely-fitted black blocks all around him. Everett drops some photos on the floor of Amy's arm. It's covered in short black lines that look like she was tallying up something with a marker pen.

In New York, River Song sports those same black markings. She's exploring a room, sees the aliens, and makes two marks on her arm. Everett arrests her, but instead of going quietly, River (as Everett explains to The Doc) she runs "off the fiftieth floor". Rory is shot on the Hoover Dam. The black block room is finished and is sealed by Everett. He says not even the smallest particle can get through. I guess he never heard of neutrinos. But as soon as the room is sealed, Amy and Rory climb out of their body bags, and the four of them enter the TARDIS. Everett says, "What about Doctor Song? She dove off a rooftop!" to which The Doc responds, "Don't worry! She does that! Amy! Rory! Open all the doors to the swimming pool!" (I guess he found it again after it got lost in The Eleventh Hour?

We see River still falling back first down the side of the building, flipping into a hands-first dive, into the TARDIS, parked sideways on the side of the building, and a small splash of water pops up. Next she's walking into the console room drying what is obviously already dry hair. When are movie-makers going to get that wet-dry transition right? Cut to the titles!

It turns out the hunt was nothing but a farce for no reason other than drama. The Doc injects some device under their skin with which they can record their observations so they will not forget that they;ve seen the aliens. They have spent their time trying to work out how many aliens there are, and it turns out that they're all over the world, but people keep forgetting them. The Doc is interested in tracking down this girl, so Everett and Amy go on a search of children's homes. In one particularly disgraceful looking one, they find a shabby place with an odd caretaker who tells them they plan to close the place in 1967. He obviously doesn't realize it's already 18 months beyond that.

Amy calls The Doc and lets him know the home is very suspicious. She asks where he is, but he won't say. he's discovered by two guys in hard hats and white coats. He says, "Don't worry! I put everything back where I found it!" he looks at the piece left in his hand and adds, "Except this! There's always a bit left over, isn't there?" The camera pulls back from him to reveal that he's in the command module (aka Columbia) of the Apollo 11 space vehicle as it sits on launchpad 39A on Merritt Island at Cape Canaveral, Florida. You can get a kick-A view of it on Google maps - you can stand right under the launch tower!

Don't worry, you'll be safe - they're not launching anything from there any more. Sorry to say.

The Doc is being grilled at the Kennedy Space Center over what he was doing. Nixon shows up and busts The Doc loose. He's accompanied by River and Rory looking extremely prim and proper. Meanwhile Amy has escaped the room in which she had been trapped and is now laking down a hallway when a slide opens in a door and a woman with a patch over one eye looks out at her, and then closes the hatch. When Amy inspects the door closely, there's no hatch in it. We're to see this again several times through this season. We don't get to learn who she is and what's going on for a while. Spoilers!

In the room, Amy finds pictures of the girl form the space suit. She also finds a picture of herself with a baby. As she's looking, the astronaut arrives in the room, lifts the visor and Amy sees the girl clearly for the first time. The girls asks for help , and then a pair of the aliens shows up. Amy screams. In another room, Everett sees an alien, he starts recording and asks who they are and what they want. The alien replies that they have ruled Earth since the wheel and the fire. They have no need of weapons, so Everett shoots the alien and says, "Welcome to America".

The Doc tells Nixon - yes, Nixon - that he has to record everything or he won't remember what happens! He gets a call From Everett about Amy and takes the TARDIS to the orphanage. They can hear Amy calling from inside a room, but when they break in, She's not there. The little girl is hiding around the corner breathing heavily. All that's left of Amy is the recording device which is recording her live, but they don't know where she is. They talk to the alien which Everett shot, and it tells them that the aliens are "The Silents" and "The Silents will fall".

They examine the space suit which was as left behind and find all kinds of different alien technology in it. The Doc is still trying to figure out who sent the envelope. River won't tell him anything about it, but offers to answer any other question, The Doc asks, "What are the Silents doing? Raising a child?" Meanwhile, the Apollo 11 flight is getting ready to take off.

The Doc thinks that the US started on their space program because the Silents needed a spacesuit. Everett records The Silents representative saying people should kill them on sight, on a video-phone "Whatever that is"! And while River and The Doc are trying to figure out the spacesuit, Rory is listening to the last message Amy left on her implanted recording device: "I love you. I know you think it's him; I know you think it ought to be him, but it's not. It's you, and when I see you again, I'm going to tell you properly, just to see your stupid face. My life was so boring before you just...dropped out of the sky, so just get your stupid face where I can see it, okay?" Rory thinks she's talking about The Doc. Later, when she refers to his stupid face, he realizes she meant him all along.

The Doc arrives in the Silents HQ. He brings a TV. He asks The Silents about the girl. They tell him nothing. He turns on the TV and shows them the Moon landing. Embedded in the transmission is the recording of one of The Silents telling everyone they should kill them on sight. The whole world now rebels against them. Problem solved.

Nixon wants to know if he'll be remembered a president. The Doc assured him he will never be forgotten; then he reminds him to let Everett get married (his wanting to marry was why he was thrown out of the FBI in the first place). Nixon says, "This person you're wanting to marry...black?" Everett replies "Yes...he is!"

Amy kisses Rory. River kisses The Doc. Then she realizes that she kissed him too early - it wasn't supposed to happen there and then. In the TARDIS, The Doc discusses Amy's pregnancy which may not be a pregnancy. He asks why she didn't tell Rory about it, and she expresses concern that she's been living in the TARDIS for so long, it could have affected a baby she was carrying. She doesn't want a 'time-head' baby! Neither of them know that Rory is listening on the transmitter he has. Eventually Amy calls him upstairs and tells him he shouldn't be listening in secretly like that. While those two are making up, The Doc runs a scan on Amy surreptitiously and it comes back positive for pregnancy. Then negative. Then positive. Then negative....

In New York City, the young girl from the astronaut suit walks down a dark alley. She is coughing and doesn't feel well. Some hobo asks her is she's OK and she says no, she's dying, but she can fix that, and she starts to regenerate, just like The Doc does.

6.2 The Curse of the Black Spot by Steve Thompson (index)

It's like they wanted to punch all the buttons this season, so one of them was pirates! We find a crew returning to the ship (the Black Albatross?) with one of them sporing a minor injury. They seem to think it's a death warrant, and the captain agrees. They leave him out on deck and retreat down below, leaving a silver medallion on the door handle as some sort of amulet. We hear siren-song and then a scream, and the rest of the crew come back to find the injured pirate gone. Next there's a knocking on on of the hatches. They open it to find The Doc, Rory and Amy!

We learn that the captain's name is Avery, which, as wikipedia points out, is a name which was used in a very early ep of Doctor Who which featured the original doctor, but which is now lost apart from its soundtrack and a few stills.

Captain Avery assumes the three of them are stow-aways, and he send 'the doxy' (Amy) down below, and make The Doc walk the plank, but before he can be made to jump off, Amy comes back up from below in dull pirate regalia, brandishing a cutlass (that's a pirate cutlass, not an Oldsmobile Cutlass BTW)and threatens them all. They live in great fear of having any kind of injury which would draw blood, so her ploy is particularly effective, especially when she actually (and pretty much accidentally) cuts one of the pirates who declares that she has killed him, at which Amy scoffs as only a true Scot can.

A black spot appears on the guy's palm. As they tackle Amy, Rory gets cut by accident, too. Captain Avery tells Rory that 'she' has marked him for death. Soon, they hear the siren song, and Rory and the injured pirate start to become very happy and joyful about everything. A glow appears in the ocean and the siren appears played by the stunning Lily Cole. She comes out of the water, oh-so-gently lands on the deck, and holds out her hand to the pirates. The injured guy goes right to her and is turned into smoke.

When Amy steps in front of Rory and tells the Siren he is spoken for, the Siren turns into a rather demon-like form and blasts Amy backwards.

When The Doc grabs Rory and drags him away from her, The Siren seems to take this with more aplomb. They retreat hastily into the ship's hold, and are tramping around in the bilge. You may notice by this point that we have seen a lot of reflections and reflective surfaces. Hold that thought. One of the pirates pulls his foot out of the bilge to find a leech stuck to his leg. Yes, there are marine leeches. Whether they're likely to be found in a ship's bilge is another matter. But of course, he now has blood showing! In fact it's leaching out of him....

Right after The Doc states confidently that no curse is going to get through three solid inches of timber, up pops The Siren. They retreat to the magazine which is purportedly the driest part of the ship. They find a real stow-away there: the captain's son, Toby. He tells Toby that his mother will be missing him, but the son relates that his mom is dead, which is why he wants to join the crew. The captain tells him he can't: it's dangerous because there's a siren who leaves a mark. Toby, who has been coughing rather a lot, reveals he already has the mark on his own hand. They realize that the Siren comes for all who are sick or injured. The Doc and the captain elect to go get the TARDIS, where the captain declares that this ship is a ship like any other, and indeed the comparison is apt because The Doc can't make it fly!

The Siren arrives inside the magazine where there's no water at all, and they realize that she can use any mirror-like surface. They start breaking every reflective glass surface, and The Doc starts throwing all the pirate treasure overboard. Laying down to try and sleep, Amy once again sees the one-eyed woman looking a her through a hatch which disappears when she closes it. A storm comes up and they rush to rig the sails and start the becalmed ship moving once again, but the captain failed to ditch all the treasure, and now a shiny surface remains. The Siren takes Toby and then Rory, so the captain, Amy, and The Doc resolve to prick their own fingers and go with The Siren.

They find themselves on a spacecraft, but all the crew are dead, killed by a bacterium or a virus from Earth. The space craft exists in a parallel universe but access can be had between the two via reflective surfaces. They discover all of the crew as well as Rory and Toby, on beds. It's the ship's hospital, and The Siren is the doctor. If they remove Rory from life support they'll have to resuscitate him. He tells Amy to do it. I have no idea what that's supposed to be all about given that he was talking to them just instants before. The captain remains on the space craft with his son. The Doc sends Amy and resusci-Rory to bed and stands there examining the positive negative pregnancy scan once again. Not my favorite Doc Who ep!

6.4 The Doctor's Wife by Neil Gaiman (index)

We've had The Doctor's Daughter, so why not his wife?! Author Neil Gaiman makes a watershed contribution to the cannon. In the TARDIS, there's a knock on the door. While they're in deep space. Very deep space. The Doc opens the door and there's a small glowing cube which flies in and knocks him over. He says, "I've got mail!" The message is from another Time Lord called The Corsair, as identified by the Ourobouros on the message box. And I think it's time for a word or two about the Time Lords (Be warned: spoilers big time at that URL!).

Between the lapse of the older set of series in 1996, and the reboot in 2005, there was (so we learn in series one of the reboot) a time war between the Time Lords and the Daleks. The Time Lords' home planet, Gallifrey, was destroyed, and the war was brought to a screeching halt by The Doc when he sealed time and locked it - supposedly permanently. What that means is a mystery, but this explains why he's described as the last of his kind, although even that isn't actually true.

Why writer Russell Davies chose to reboot the show in this way has never been explained - not anywhere I've seen, at least. But this time lock is not as secure as we were led to believe, which is why the Daleks were able to return, and in one story arc, the Time Lords themselves were set to return before The Doc himself stopped it. Again, this makes no sense. if the Daleks were such a deadly threat that The Doc was forced to seal them up even at the cost of effectively banishing his own people, but they are now free once more and stronger than ever, what is the point of the time lock any more? Why not free the Time Lords, too? Talk about time paradoxes! lol!

Actually, now I've related all that, I want to watch The Doctor's Daughter ep again! Maybe I'll blog that too, even though it isn't in the Steven Moffat cannon - and maybe one or two others over time (!) that are not exactly within Steven Moffat's purview but which are, nonetheless, great eps. Before I get back to the story at hand, a word about Jenny, The Doctor's daughter.

Jenny, played by Georgia Moffett, who is no relation to Steven, but who is the real life daughter of Peter Davison, who played the fifth Doctor! - is also a Time Lord because she is a kind of a 'clone' of him. How that works, exactly, given that he's male and there is usually a significant chromosome difference between the male and female of a species (in humans defined by X and Y), is a mystery! It would have made more sense had The Doc been a female (which can happen, as Matt Smith relates in this very ep), but we have to remember that the Time Lords are not human, and they have a bizarre regeneration (only 13 of these, we've been told, so the current doctor has two more to come. After that, the writers will have to do a thing. What thing? I don't know; they haven't thought of it yet! Respect the thing!

Anyway, at the end of that ep, she is killed, and the tenth doctor leaves the planet, but after he has gone, Jenny regenerates and takes off herself in a space craft, intent upon doing the same good work which The Doc himself does. Since then we've heard nothing about her, but she is out there, and the current doctor is no longer the last of his kind. He actually never was, because during the tenth doctor's reign, we discover another Time Lord called The Master, who was a renegade just like The Doc, but who went to the dark side. He was most recently played by the remarkable John Sim, but is apparently dead now.

In addition to this, other Time lords have appeared in the older series. The very first doctor traveled with a girl who was described as his granddaughter, which is true means that he also had a daughter or a son, whom we;ve never met. There's no word on whether or how Susan was involved in the Time War, nor whether the time-lock applied to her. Another dark side Time Lord was The Rani played by the delicious Kate O'Mara.

The Doc also had, for a while, a traveling companion who was a Time Lord named Romanadvoratrelundar or Romana for short, played by Mary Tamm and then by Lalla Ward. Romana is another possible extant Time Lord, since she was last seen in E-Space (regular space is known as N-space), which may not have been affected by The Doc's time lock, but we don't know. Yet another Time Lord from the past is The Monk played by Peter Butterworth, who is better known for his parts in the renowned British romps which went under the generic title of Carry on.... There are several more Time Lords listed at the above URL (along with spoilers!).

Back to the present! The Doc takes the TARDIS outside the universe in pursuit of The Corsair, where they've never been before, and all power drains from the TARDIS. The Doc says it's impossible - the matrix - the soul of the TARDIS has just vanished. But where would it go? We move immediately to a woman who's had her soul removed, and hear the familiar TARDIS landing noise, which rather gives the lie to River Song's claim that the noise comes from The Doc's habit of landing the TARDIS with the brakes on! The woman perks up and we see The Doc's regeneration particles fly from her mouth and fingers. Clearly whatever the core of the TARDIS is, it's inside her. When The Doc and his companions exit the TARDIS, they are greeted by three characters, 'Uncle', 'Auntie', and Idris, the woman who swallowed the TARDIS. There is also living on this place, whatever it is, an Ood named 'Nephew'. It was this Ood which we saw removing Idris's soul at the start of the show (yeah, I kept that a secret!).

Idris adores The Doc but cannot keep her tenses straight: it's like she exists in all times at all times. She has a habit of making predictions. Uncle warns The Doc that Idris bites, and she asks, "Do I?" and immediately bites The Doc. She declares "Biting's excellent! it's like kissing only there's a winner!" When The Doc sees the Ood, he realizes it can't talk. He fixes it's ball whereupon he starts hearing scores of distress messages from Time Lords.

The asteroid they're on speaks to them through Auntie and Uncle. It knows he's a Time Lord. The Doc wants to look around. Meanwhile Idris is incarcerated and rambling, saying a bunch of odd and apparently meaningless things. She grabs the hexagonal bars of her prison and says, "Thief! Where's my thief?" Clearly she's referring to The Doc. The Doc sends Amy and Rory back to the TARDIS supposedly to get his screwdriver, but he has it with him. When they arrive back at the TARDIS, Amy expresses disappointment with Rory for not staying with The Doc. Rory says, "He'll be fine! He's a Time Lord!" Amy replies, "It's just what they're called. It doesn't mean he actually knows what he's doing!" Once they're inside the TARDIS and Amy calls him to let him know, The Doc takes out his screwdriver and locks it. it start to become swathed in green smoke.

He looks around and finds a cupboard full of message cubes. He turns on the Uncle and the Aunt and discovers that they're composed of body parts, including parts of The Corsair. He hurries to visit Idris and asks her how she knew the boxes would make him angry.

The Doc: How did you know about the boxes? You said they'd make me angry; how did you know?
Idris: Ah! It's my thief!
The Doc: Who are you?
Idris: It's about time.
...
The Doc: I don't understand. Who are you?
Idris: You really not know me - just because they put me in here?
The Doc: They said you're dangerous.
Idris: Not the cage, stupid. In here. [she touches her face] They put me in here. I'm the...Oh, what do you call me? We travel! I go [she makes the TARDIS landing sound]
The Doc: The TARDIS!
Idris: Time and Relative Dimension in Space. Yes, that's it. Names are funny. It's me. I'm the TARDIS.
The Doc: No, you're not. You're a bitey mad lady. The TARDIS is up and downy stuff in a big blue box.
Idris: Yes, that's me. A type 40 TARDIS. I was already a museum piece when you were young. And the first time you touched my console, you said-
The Doc: I said you were the most beautiful thing I'd ever known.
Idris: Then you stole me. And I stole you.
The Doc: I borrowed you.
Idris: Borrowing implies the eventual intention to return the thing that it was taken. What makes you think I would ever give you back?
The Doc: You're the TARDIS?
Idris: Yes!
The Doc: My TARDIS?
Idris: My Doctor! Oh, we have now reached to the point in the conversation where you open the lock.
[The Doc unlocks the cage and Idris steps out]
Idris: Are all people like this?
The Doc: Like what?
Idris: So much bigger on the inside.

Perfect! The Doc runs back to the TARDIS calling Amy to tell her to get out, but the TARDIS dematerializes. The Doc says he doesn't know what to do. That's a new feeling! Rory is telling Amy they're in the TARDIS and says they're safe. The House consciousness which is now in the TARDIS says Rory is half right, and Rory and Amy are reduced to running the TARDIS corridors (note the hexagonal pattern), where, BTW, the anti-grav has been disabled. Meanwhile The Doc and Idris are having a lover's tiff.

The Doc: You know, since we're talking with mouths, not really an opportunity that comes along very often, I just want to say, you know, you have never been very reliable.
Idris: And you have?
The Doc: You didn't always take me where I wanted to go.
Idris: No, but I always took you where you needed to go.
The Doc: You did!

As Amy and Rory run, they become separated by a closed door, and Amy hears Rory calling from the opposite direction. He says she's been gone for hours. They become separated again, and when she finds him again, he's ancient and has been suffering alone for decades.

Once the ramshackle replacement TARDIS is completed (this isn't the first time the Dc has rebuilt the TARDIS), Idris powers it up and a spherical bubble forms around it. They take off. In the real TARDIS, Amy finds Rory's skeleton and breaks down only to have Rory show up looking like he always does. Idris contacts him and tells him to go to the TARDIS console room back up and when he gets there she gives him the pass key to it which is Crimson 11 delight petrichor (but I'm sure he's changed it by now). They enter the console room followed by the Ood Nephew, right before The Doc lands the makeshift TARDIS right on top of him. The Doc tells the House how to generate speed, by deleting 30% of the rooms in the TARDIS, so he chooses to delete the one they're in and this immediately transports them to the main console, which is what The Doc wanted all along.

The House says it doesn't matter which room it kills them in and adds, "Fear me. I've killed hundreds of Time Lords," to which The Doc responds, "Fear me. I've killed all of them." Idris dies, after passing a cryptic message to Rory, but her TARDIS spirit escapes and re-enters the TARDIS. Rory relays the message she gave him: "The only water in the forest is the River". Pond-er that.

The Doc tells them he will need to recreate the bedrooms for them, and Amy asks if this time they can dispense with the bunk beds...!

6.5 The Rebel Flesh by Matthew Graham (index)

Three people walk into a room and raise the lid of a vat containing something highly corrosive. One of them slips, falls in, and melts; the other two seem largely unaffected by it, and heading out again, they meet the one who dissolved. On the TARDIS, just as The Doc is trying to get rid of Rory and Amy so he can "do things" (concerned as he is by Amy's positive-negative pregnancy), they're hit by a solar tsunami and end up outside a castle which The Doc thinks means medieval time, but which Rory identifies as more modern because he can hear Dusty Springfield singing You Don't Have to Say You Love Me.

As they enter the castle, an alarm goes off.

The Doc: There are people coming. Well, almost.
Amy: Almost coming?
The Doc: Almost people.

Rory wants to leave so of course, they go to investigate. The end up in a room where several people are in what they refer to as harnesses - laying back at a steep angle on 'people-shaped trays'. As they look, those same people come into the room, brandishing antique weapons. Amy and Rory look around startled to see these doppelgängers (or gangers as the gangers call them), but The Doc is entirely unsurprised by any of this. It's almost as though he brought them there on purpose!

The Doc tells them that there's another solar storm on the way, and he needs to see their critical systems, whereupon he's taken to a room which has a bubbling off-white fluid which they tell him is programmable matter. it Can be used to replicate people, which the person replicated can then control from the harness room, "driving" them "just like a forklift" Indeed, the only one in the room with them who isn't fake is Jennifer. The leader, Miranda Cleaves, tells them it was too dangerous to "mine the acid" (?!) using real people so they use the gangers. She sends Jennifer back to the harness room so they can create a new ganger for her. I guess the robot era is well and truly over by this time period!

The Doc scans the fluid with his sonic and comments that it seemed like it was scanning him. He lays his hand flat on top of the fluid and then tells that that it's alive, and they're programming it with their own lives and minds, but another warning comes to him about the impending solar storm. Miranda is not perturbed by the storm warning since she's receive no official warning. She tells The Doc and Amy and Rory to stand back and prepare to be impressed.

They stand around a coffin-like tub full of the fluid, and as the fluid slowly drains, we see Jennifer's face rise out of the fluid, and eventually, her whole body, fully-clothed already, appears, replicated by the fluid flesh. One of Miranda's people and The Doc both try to suggest that they get into shelter with the impending storm, but Miranda won't listen because they have an order to finish up. The Doc hurries out to the "weather vane" on the roof, which is actually a solar collector. He fears that if the storm hits it, it could cause a disaster.

While The Doc is doing that, all the gangers appear in the harness room standing in a creepy row staring at their controllers. Acid starts spraying out of broken pipes and the TARDIS starts sinking into the dirt. The Doc falls from the solar array and in unconscious for a while. When they wake up, Cleaves assures The Doc that the gangers would all return to pure flesh when they lost the connection to their operators, but then the Dusty Springfield record starts playing. They discover that the gangers now have lives of their own.

Jennifer has to run to the bathroom, and Rory escorts her, but when his back is turned, her face reverts to the smoothed out version it has right before the final features are molded. She's a ganger! Part of her face drops into the sink. She runs into one of the stalls, and when Rory asks if everything is okay, an elongated arm reaches out and hits him. He looks round to see Jennifer's face on the end of a hugely elongated neck coming towards him saying, "Just let us live!" He runs.

The Doc proves that the Miranda who is with them is a ganger. She reacts angrily and reverts to the semi-finished state before running away. Amy, The Doc, and Jimmy run off to find Rory, but are blocked by leaking acid. Rory, who is somehow outside now, is trying to make his way back to them, but is being tailed by Jennifer. At first he runs from her, but then he encounters her in her room, very upset, and he hugs her. She's distraught because she has all Jennifer Lucas's memories.The Doc scans the fluid flesh again with his sonic and after he leaves, a pair of lips appears in it and says, "Trust me." Outside he discovers that the TARDIS has sunk up to its roof, and he realizes he standing in leaking acid. He hastily doffs his shoes. Meanwhile Buzzer and Dicken discover that all of the acid suits have been taken by the gangers.

Rory assures Jennifer that The Doc will protect her and they go off to find him. Amy is looking for them, and encounters, briefly, the one-eyed women with the sliding door. Amy finally runs into Rory but doesn't trust the ganger. Eventually they all meet up gangers and originals, and then the real Miranda shows up with a kind of taser. When Buzzer tries to disarm her, she kills him. Both teams individually agree that it's now war. Fake Jennifer hunts down real Jennifer and kills her. The real people barricade themselves into the chapel - the most solid and defensible room in the castle, and who should come out from the shadows, but the doppelgänger doctor?

6.6 The Rebel Flesh by Matthew Graham (index)

The Doc's ganger is struggling to copy with his physiology and the ten regenerations he's already undergone. At one point his ganger asks "Would you like a Jelly Baby" in Tom Baker's (The Doc the fourth) voice. Eventually he stabilizes and the two of them get along famously, highly entertained and amused by each other. Note that the only way to tell which is which at this point is that they're wearing different shoes. Amy takes note of this. When the gangers break into the room, all of those who were there are gone.

Rory is trailing Jennifer, and the crew are trying to get to their destination, but they run into toxic gas generated by the escaping acid. We hear the clock striking midnight, and both versions of Jimmy wish him a happy birthday. Meanwhile, the meekest one, Jennifer, is the most militant one amongst them, and she has a plan to destroy them all.

Amy is showing a strong bias against the doppelgänger doctor. Miranda sends out a distress signal and arranges to be picked up on the roof. She tells them to heed her password, which she types in because she knows her ganger will be listening. Amy continues to suck up to the real Doc and she again sees the Eye Patch Lady looking at her through the sliding panel, but The Doc dismisses her concern.

The doppelgänger doctor leaves the room rather hastily, and Amy follows him to apologize, but he gets angry with her when she mentions his impending death. Miranda tells the doppelgänger doctor to go sit with the other flesh and away from the real people. Amy maintains she can tell one Doc from the other.

The two Jennifers fight and one of them falls into the acid and dissolves. The other leads him to the filtration room so that she can stir up the oxygen and clear the air, but she claims she can't turn the wheel, so Rory does it for her. They enter a room which is normally sealed, and it has a bunch of slightly melted gangers, which are evidently still conscious.

The Doc and Buzzer find the real Jennifer dead. Buzzer knocks him out for some reason. He encounters ganger Jennifer and she kills him. Jennifer ganger then locks the real crew in the acid room. The acid is overheating and will kill all of them. The Doc prevents Rory from getting out to help those in the acid room and takes a call from Jimmy's son. Ganger Jimmy talks to him and becomes human. He runs to free the real crew where he finds that real Jimmy has been killed by acid. Ganger Jimmy has to be the real dad now.

The now mixed crew of humans and gangers tries to make a break for the TARDIS but they encounter Jennifer, who is morphing into some weird elongated monster. The TARDIS finally finishes sinking through the floor, and Amy discovers that the two doctors exchanged shoes. The one she was biased against was the real doctor all along. They escape. The doppelgänger doctor dissolves Jennifer and himself and Miranda.

The Doc takes Miranda and Dicken to the HQ if the corporation for which they work. Amy starts feeling stomach pains, and they re-enter the TARDIS. The Doc says she's going into labor, but she's clearly not visibly pregnant. The Doc orders Rory to move away from her and he points his sonic directly at her.

Amy: Doctor I am frightened. I'm properly, properly scared.
The Doc: Don't be, hold on. We're coming for you, I swear that whatever happens, however hard, however far, we will find you.
Amy: I'm right here.
The Doc: No, you're not. You haven't been here for a long, long time.
Amy: Oh no!

The Doc dissolves Amy as the ganger doctor did with himself, Jennifer and Miranda, and we see another Amy start as though she's been shocked awake, and she's lying in a hospital bed, in a gown, and very visibly pregnant. A hatch opens and the Eye Patch Lady appears and says, "Well dear, you're ready to pop, aren't you? Little one's on its way! Here it comes. Push...."

Great ending, but it makes little sense given The Doc's intense fight which we have just witnessed, to treat gangers a human and give them the same rights - then he murders Amy ganger? Doesn't work for me. But cruel as it was, this cliffhanger set up the following week's show a treat.

6.7 A Good Man Goes to War by Stephen Moffat (index)

Amy Pond is telling her child that she will have to be brave but not as brave as her captors, because there is someone coming. She tells Melody that he is her father, and he's known as the Last Centurion. Twenty thousand light years away, which is about one fifth the way across the Milky Way galaxy, The Last Centurion enters the command deck of a Cyber ship and Announces:

Rory: I have a message and a question; a message from The Doctor, and a question from me: Where is my wife?
[the Cybermen do not react]
Rory: Oh, don't give me those blank looks. The Twelfth Cyber Legion monitors this entire quadrant. You hear everything. So you tell me what I need to know. You tell me now, and I'll be on my way.
Cyber Leader: What is The Doctor's message?
[through a view port we see the Cyber fleet exploding, one ship after another]
Rory: Would you like me to repeat the question?

Perfect!

On the Demons Run asteroid station a marine by the name of Lorna Bucket is sewing something. Two guys are trying to learn to recognize psychic paper. Two headless monks walk past as an overhead voices warns "Do not interact with the headless monks without divine permission" The "thin, fat, gay, married, Anglican marines" are working on something when the "fat one" has to go for his conversion tutorial with the headless monks. He asks what's in the little boxes. A voice announces that he has been selected to make a donation to the order of the headless monks.

In London, in 1888, a woman descends form a carriage and enters a house:

Jenny: You're back early, mum. Another case cracked, I assume?
Vastra: Send a telegram to Inspector Abberline of the Yard. Jack the Ripper has claimed his last victim.
Jenny: How did you find him?
Vastra: Stringy. but tasty all the same. I sha'n't be needing dinner.
Jenny: Congratulations, mum; however, a matter has arisen in the drawing room.
[The TARDIS is in the drawing room]
Jenny: It just appeared. What does it mean?
Vastra: It means a very old debt is to be repaid. Pack the cases, Jenny; we're going to need the swords.

Brilliant!

Next we're picking up Commander Strax in 4037, who is doing penance as a nurse on a battlefield. Finally we're back at the Storm Cage prison:

River: Oh turn it off! I'm breaking in, not out! This is River Song back in her cell. Oh, and I'll take breakfast at the usual time. Thank you!
[sees Rory in his legionnaire outfit]
River: Oh! Are you boys dressing up as Romans now? I thought nobody read my memos!
Rory: Doctor Song...it's Rory! Sorry, have we met yet? Time streams...I'm not quite sure where we are.
River: Yes, yes, we've met...Hello, Rory.
Rory: What's wrong?
River: Uh, it's my birthday. The Doctor took me ice skating on the River Thames in 1814; the last of the great frost fairs. He got Stevie Wonder to sing for me under London Bridge.
Rory: Stevie Wonder sang in 1814?
River: Yes, he did, but you must never tell him.
Rory: I've come from The Doctor too.
River: Yes, but at a different point in time.
Rory: Unless there's two of them!
River: Now, that's a whole different birthday.

There's no such thing as an ep with River Song which doesn't sparkle! But she refuses to go with Rory because this is the day The Doc finds out who she is. She can't be with him until the very end. Madame Kovarian, the woman with the patch over her eye, accompanied by Colonel Manton, in the meantime is visiting with Dorium Maldovar, the blue guy from whom River Song got her hands on a vortex manipulator.

Dorium: The asteroid - where you've made your base - do you know why they call it Demons Run?
Manton: How do you know the location of our base?
Dorium: You're with the Headless Monks. They're old customers of mine.
Kovarian: It's just some old saying.
Dorium: A very old saying! The oldest: Demons run when a good man goes to war.

Back on Demons Run we see Colonel Manton giving a pep talk to the troops while Lorna visits Amy and gives her the thing she's sewn. Lorna has met The Doc before, very briefly, when she was a child. Manton announces, "...by the Divine Grant of the Papal Mainframe herself, on this one and only occasion I can show you the truth." whereupon he pulls the hoods back one by one of three monks on the stage with him revealing that they literally have no heads, their neck being tied off. Except for the third one which is The Doc! He advises the assembled troops to put their guns on him if they're nervous. Then the lights go out courtesy of Vastra, and The Doc disappears.

Madame Kovarian hastily leaves the room. One soldier shoots a headless monk and the monks retaliate. In order to regain control, Manton removes the power pack from his weapon and lays it down. His troops follow him whereupon a squadron of Silurians and Judoon cover them with their weapons, and Danny Boy destroys their communications array. Heading out with the baby, Kovarian says, "The Doctor must thing he's winning right up until the trap closes." but when she enters the escape ship, Rory hold a sword to her neck. She insists that she has a ship of twenty, so how doe she hope to hold it, and in comes Captain Avery announcing that he's secured the ship

Rory returns the baby to Amy and The Doc brings a cot - a really old cot (crib). It's The Doc's own cot from when he was a child. Commander Strax offers to breastfeed the child! They have a confab about why there was such an interest in kidnapping Melody Pond, but have no real answers. Vastra, who has known The Doc for a long time, offers one. Melody has mostly human DNA, but here is some Time Lord DNA in there!

Meanwhile, Lorna is trying to convince them that this is some sort of trap. She says the only reason she joined the marines was to meet The Doc - because how else do you meet a great warrior? Amy tells her he's not a warrior, and Lorna asks, "Then why is he called 'The Doctor'?" The lights suddenly go out. As the headless monks attack, the child Amy is holding reverts to flesh. It was a fake just like Amy was.

Strax is dying, the Silurian warriors are dead, the baby is gone and Amy is in tears. Vastra tells The Doc that Lorna wants to speak to him. Lorna dies as he's speaking to her. The Doc is angry when River shows up.

The Doc: Where the hell have you been? Every time you've asked I have been there! Where the hell were you today?
River: I couldn't have prevented this.
The Doc: You could have tried!
River: And so, my love, could you.
[River turns to Amy]
River: I know you're not all right, but hold tight Amy, because you're going to be.
The Doc: You think I wanted this? I didn't do this! This...this wasn't me!
River: This was exactly you, all this. All of it. You make them so afraid. When you began all those years ago, sailing off to see the Universe, did you ever think you'd become this? The man who can turn an army around at the mention of his name? Doctor the word for healer and wise man throughout the Universe. We get that word from you, you know, but if you carry on the way you are, what might that word come to mean? To the people of the Gamma Forests, the word Doctor means Mighty Warrior. How far you've come! And now they've taken a child; the child of your best friends, and they're going to turn her into a weapon just to bring you down. And all this, my love, in fear of you.
The Doc: Who are you?

River insists that she is telling The Doc who she is. She asks him can't he read? The Doc suddenly gets it. he finally knows who River Song is. He says, "Hell" and River responds in kind. The Doc takes off in the TARDIS by himself, promising Amy that her daughter will be safe. Amy gets a gun and points it at River, and demands that River tell her the truth about what's going on.

Amy: Where is he going? What did you tell him?
River: Amy, you have to stay calm.
Amy: Tell me what you told The Doctor.
Rory: Amy! No, stop it.
River: It's okay, Rory. She's fine. She's good. It's the TARDIS translation matrix. It takes awhile to kick in with the written word. You have to concentrate.
Amy: I still can't read it.
River: It's because it's Gallifreyan. It doesn't translate.
[River passes the sewn good-luck charm, the one which Lorna created, to Amy]
River: But this will. It's your daughter's name in the language of the forest.
Amy: I know my daughter's name.
River: Except they don't have a word for 'pond', because the only water in the forest is the river. The Doctor will find your daughter, and he will care for her, whatever it takes, and I know that; it's me. I'm Melody. I'm your daughter.

Just how exactly grade A-1 prime perfect is that?!!!

So Amy and Rory are driving a Mini - a real Mini, not the new style Mini which really isn't mini at all if you've actually taken a good look at it - creating a maze in a corn field: a maze in a corn field of field corn which the Brits call corn; what the Americans call corn is really called maize....

They seem to be driving a very complicated pattern leaving a trail behind them and suddenly they halt, and we see that they've stopped in a large, flattened circle, at the center of which is the TARDIS and The Doc waiting for them, holding up a copy of The Leadworth Chronicle, the blaring front-page headline of which is Leadworth's Crop Circle! The camera zooms out above the scene to reveal the message "Doctor" which they've written in the corn. Rory's excuse is "Well, you never answer your phone!"

Amy's question is, "Have you found her?" To which The Doc responds by asking Rory for permission to hug her! They hug, and The Doc tells her that she knows who her child turns out to be, so she also knows that he will find her. Rory is reading the newspaper and he interrupts with "Hang on! What's this bit?" He points to a straight line right through the word 'Doctor' that they've written and Amy says, "That wasn't us!" As they try to figure out what this means, they hear the powerful engine of what looks like a mid-70's Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe, a Little Red Corvette, and baby it's much too fast causing the three of them to dive out of its way. It spins and halts inches from the TARDIS.

A young black woman gets out, looks at The Doc and says, "You said he was funny; you didn't say he was hot!" Rory says, "Where did you get the car?" and Mels, their lifelong best friend says, "It's mine!" until she hears police sirens in the distance, and then she adds, "-ish!". As the police draw nearer, Mels says, "That's me, out of time!" and she draws an automatic on The Doc and demands an exit. The Doc asks, "Anywhere in particular?" and Mels replies, "Well, let's see: you've got a time machine; I've got a gun! What the hell? Let's kill Hitler!" Cur the titles!

Immediately after the titles we find young Amy and her young friend Mels opening a box from which Amy removes her model TARDIS. Young Mels says, "Is he hot?" and young Amy answers, "No, he's funny!" An even younger boy bursts in on them and says, "I thought we were playing hide and seek? I've been hiding for hours." Amy tells him they just haven't found him yet, so he heads out determined to keep hiding. As he leaves he says, "Hi Mels!" and she says, "Hi Rory!".

Next we're in a junior high school where the teacher is asking if anyone can tell her why the Titanic sank, and young Mels responds, "Because The Doctor didn't save it! Except that you don't know about The Doctor because you're stupid!" Coming out of a dressing down in the head master's office, Mels finds Amy waiting for her Amy remarks that Mels is the most trouble in the school except for boys, to which Mels responds "And for you" to which Amy retorts, "I count as a boy!" They walk past Rory who is evidently playing blind man's buff with them (theoretically) and he asks, "Am I getting warm" to which Amy leadenly replies, "Yes Rory!"

In High school Mels is telling the teacher that a significant factor in Hitler's rise to power was the fact that The Doctor didn't stop him!" Again we see her leave the head master's (in this case mistress, I guess) office and Amy is waiting, telling Mels that she can't keep doing this. Next, Amy's bailing her out of a jail cell. Back in Amy's room, Mels explains, "It was late! I took a bus!" to which Rory responds, "You stole a bus!" Then he adds that he has to go, he's on 'earlies' tomorrow, whatever that means.

Mels: It's all right for you; you've got Mr. Perfect keeping you right.
Amy: He's not even real; just a stupid dream when I was a kid.
Mels: I wasn't talking about him.
Amy: What, Rory? How have I 'got' Rory?
Rory: Yeah. How has she 'got' me?
Amy: He's not mine.
Rory: No! No, I'm not hers.
Mels: Come on. Seriously. It's got to be you two. Oh, cut to the song, it's getting boring!
Amy: Nice thought, okay, but completely impossible.
Rory: Yeah! Impossible.
Amy: I'd love to. He's gorgeous. He's my favorite guy, but he's, you know...gay.
Rory: ...a friend.
[Rory looks at Amy]
Rory: I'm not gay!
Amy: Yes you are!
Rory: No! No, I'm not.
Amy: Course you are, don't be stupid. In the whole time I've known you, when have you shown the slightest interest in a girl?
Mels: Penny in the air.
Amy: I mean I've known you for what, ten years? I've seen you practically every day. Name one girl you've paid the slightest bit of attention to!
[Rory hastens from the room. Amy suddenly realizes which girl Rory has actually has paid far more than the slightest bit of attention to]
Amy: Oh my god! Rory!
[Amy hastens from the room]
Mels: And the penny drops!

In an amazingly good segue, Mels tosses the toy TARDIS she's been playing with into the air and it transforms into the real TARDIS flying out of control through the sky because Mels has shot it with her automatic! Next we're in Berlin in 1938, following a German Wehrmacht officer. As he walks the hallway, a janitor watches him. When he enters an office, the janitor follows and approaches him, slowly growing to reach the officer's height, whereupon his entire outer shell changes by means of tiny flaps reversing, until he has the exact appearance of the officer. The last thing to change is the face after the skin color is verified, and he takes the officers eye glasses. The officer finds himself shrunken and transported into the Teselecta, aka Justice Vehicle 6018, a robot-like vehicle which is controlled by scores of humans who have been miniaturized to fit inside.

When the controller of the Teselecta is informed that this officer is a war criminal, he says, "Well then, leave him to the antibodies. Mechanical jellyfish-like machines rise up from bumps in the floor and announce to him, "Welcome! You are unauthorized. Your death will now be implemented. Welcome! You will experience a tingling sensation and then death. Remain calm while you life is extracted." and he's vaporised.

Meanwhile, the Teselecta version of the officer enters Hitler's massive office and informs him that he will be terminated. As Hitler is being scanned for reasons unknown, the controller of the Teselecta realizes they are too early in his time-stream. Right then is when the TARDIS smashes through the wall of the office. The Doc hurries them out because there's dangerous gas in the TARDIS from the damage Mels did with her gun.

The Doc: Out! Out! Out! Everybody out! Don't need to smoke to death. Get out!
Amy: Where are we?
Rory: A room.
Rory: What room?
The Doc: I don't know what room! I haven't memorized every room in the universe yet; I had yesterday off!

The Doc sneaks Mels's gun into a bowl of fruit. Never mind that it's an anachronism! Then he apologizes to Hitler for bursting in on him. Hitler says, "Thank you, whoever you are. I think you have just saved my life!" he asks them what this blue box is and The Doc says, "It's a police telephone box from London, England. That's right Adolf, the British are coming! Right then, the Teselecta gets up, having rebooted, and Hitler pulls out his revolver, and starts shooting at it, whereupon Rory punches Hitler in the face, turns his own gun on him and orders him to sit still and shut up! Eventually the put Hitler in a cupboard and as The Doc is questioning the Teselecta, the controller orders his crew to make it faint so they can spy on what's happening. The funny thing here is how Hitlers office Can endure a huge explosion and gunfire, and yet not a single person comes running in to see what's going on!

Mels is now revealed to be wounded. She says, "Hitler...lousy shot!" and falls down.

Amy: How bad is it, Rory? What can we do?
Rory: Just keep her conscious! Stay with us Mels!
The Doc: Hey! Look at me! Just hold on!
Mels: I used to...dream about you! All those stories Amy used to tell me.
The Doc: What stories? Tell me what stories! Vampires in Venice: that's a belter!
Mels: When I was little, I was going to marry you.
The Doc: Good idea. Let's get married. You stay alive and I'll marry you. Deal? Deal?
Mels: Shouldn't you ask my parents' permission?
The Doc: As soon as you're well I'll get them on the phone.
Mels: Might as well do it now...since they're both right here. Penny in the air...penny drops!
Rory: What the hell's going on?
The Doc: uh! Back! Back! Back! Get back!
Mels: Last time I did this, I...I ended up a toddler, in the middle of New York.
Amy: Okay, Doctor, explain what is happening, please.
The Doc: Mels. Short for....
Mels: Melody.
Amy: Yeah, I named my daughter after her.
The Doc: You named your daughter...after your daughter.
Mels: It took me years to find you two. I'm so glad I did. You see? It all worked out in the end, didn't it? You got to raise me after all.
Amy: You're Melody?
Rory: But if she's Melody, that means that she's also...
Mels: Oh shut up, Dad. I'm focusing on a dress size...

It was quite remarkable how Mat Smith sounded just like David Tennant when he talked about the vampires in Venice!

Mels goes into regeneration and turns into River song. Whilst this has been going on, in the Teselecta, they have been realizing that they have on their hands a bigger war criminal even than Hitler: River Song, who, as we know, killed a very good man.

Rory: Does anybody else find this day just a bit difficult? I'm getting a sort of banging in my head.
Amy: Yeah, I think that's Hitler in the cupboard.
Rory: That's not helping.

River is her usual perky self, checking out her new body and being thrilled with it. She doesn't know who River Song is. Meanwhile, Rory, The Doc, and Amy are completely stunned by this turn of events. River announces that she's going to wear lots of jodhpurs. Then she pulls a revolver on The Doc and says "Let's get down to business!" She fires the revolver, but it's completely empty. She closes in on The Doc and reaches for the automatic in the fruit bowl, but The Doc spins the bowl and she pulls out a banana instead. She says, "Goodness! Is killing you going to take all day?" to which The Doc retorts, "Why, are you busy?"

She tries to slit his throat with an envelope opener, but he deflects it from her hand with his sonic. The Doc says, "If you were in a hurry, you could have killed me in the corn field to which she replies, "I'm a psychopath; I'm not rude!" She finally grabs the automatic, but it too, has been emptied by The Doc.

Amy: You are not a psychopath! Why would she be a psychopath?
River: Oh mummy, mummy, pay attention! I was trained and conditioned for one purpose: I was born to kill The Doctor.
The Doc: Demon's Run. Remember? This is what they were building. My bespoke psychopath.
River: I'm all yours, sweetie.
[River kisses The Doc]
The Doc: Only River Song gets to call me that.
River: And who's River Song?
The Doc: An old friend of mine.
River: Stupid name.

River makes her usual exit through the window telling The Doc that the deed is done. Her kiss was poisonous. The Doc stumbles. He gives Amy his sonic and enters the TARDIS alone. Meanwhile, down on the street blow, River runs into some soldiers headed by a German SS officer

Officer: What are you doing here?
River: Well, I was on my way to this gay gypsy bar-mitzvah for the disabled, when I suddenly thought, 'Gosh. The Third Reich's a bit rubbish. I think I'll kill the Fuhrer.' Who's with me?
Officer: Shoot her.
River: Tip for you all: never shoot a girl while she's regenerating. Now that hit the spot. Thanks boys. Call me.
Amy: What are you doing?
River: New body. New town. I'm going shopping.

Having disabled all the Germans with a blast from her regeneration, River takes off on a motorbike having stolen two MP40 sub-machine guns from the Germans. Rory and Amy follow on another bike. Amy asks him if he can ride a motorbike and he says, "I expect so! It's that sort of day!" Back in the TARDIS The Doc requests a voice interface and a hologram of himself appears. He says, "No, someone I like!" and the hologram changes to Rose. The Doc says Thanks! Give me guilt! whereupon the hologram changes successively to Martha and to Donna. When he declares, "There must be someone left in the universe I haven't screwed up yet, the hologram changes to young Amy. She announces that his system has been contaminated by the poison of the Judas tree; he will be dead in 32 minutes.

Out of the blue, young Amy says, "Fish fingers and custard", and this somehow revitalizes The Doc. In a high class restaurant in Berlin, the dining is interrupted by River shooting her guns and speaking English. How anyone understands her is a mystery. Amy and Rory pull up outside wondering how to find her. Amy suggests they look for Clues and Rory does an hilarious impersonation of her. When a bunch of half dressed Germans comes running out of a nearby hotel, they realize they've found her. As they watch, another Amy pulls up on a motorbike right beside them.

Inside the hotel, River is trying on outfits. Again, gunfire and screaming people yet not a single German soldier shows up, nor do any of those inside the hotel try to take her on! Amy comes running into the hotel, and we realize this isn't the real Amy but the Teselecta impersonation of her. Meanwhile the real Amy and Rory are now miniaturized and inside the Teselecta, being stalked by the antibodies! Rory says, "Okay. Okay, I'm trapped inside a giant robot replica of my wife. I'm really trying not to see this as a metaphor."

As three mechanical jellyfish are about to terminate them, one of the controller guys shows up and slaps bracelets on them which provide immunity, Why they would have bracelets rather than an implant is a mystery. Why the jellyfish cant be defeated by simply grabbing them by their tentacles and swinging them to smash then against the wall is another mystery, but let's suspend our disbelief just a bit more and press on, shall we?

As the Teselecta is about to take down River, The Doc shows up thereby ostensibly refuting the Teselecta's claim that River killed The Doc. The Doc is dressed in top hat and tails and carrying a sonic cane! River reacts to this with "Seriously?" and he replies, "never knowingly!". In a conversation with the Teselecta The Doc learns that a religious order called the silence wants him dead because silence will fall when the question - the oldest question in the universe - is asked. But the Teselecta doesn't know what the question is. As The Doc seems to be on the verge of death, the controller orders her to be given hell whereupon she appears to be burning. The Doc asks Amy to stop them torturing her daughter.

Amy starts disabling the bracelets on everyone threatening them all with death. They can't shut down the Teselecta, but the entire crew escapes by beaming out. Amy begs The Doc to get them out. River watches him crawl to the TARDIS. He begs her for help. She's intrigued by The Doc's persistence and his reference to her as River. She demands that he tell her about River. As Amy and Rory are about to be vaporized by the Teselecta antibodies, the TARDIS materializes around them, but it wasn't The Doc who flew it, it was River. River tells them that the TARDIS showed her how to fly her, so we discover that it was the TARDIS who taught her, not The Doc.

They return to The Doc who is not even on his last legs, lying dying. He tells them no one can help him. He asks to talk to River. He tells her to find River Song and tells her something. She asks Amy and Rory who River Song is, and Amy instructs the Teselecta to show them River song, whereupon it changes into River. River Song asks Amy and Rory if The Doc is worth it and Amy tells him he is. The Doc tries to stop her but she says, "Hello Sweetie and inputs all of her regenerative power into The Doc.

Next she's waking up in a hospital run by the Sisters of the Infinite Schism (probably in the 51st century!) and The Doc leaves her there with a brand new, unmarked TARDIS diary book. Back in the TARDIS, The Doc reveals that he's downloaded some data from the Teselecta. Amy is a bit concerned about leaving River, but The Doc says she has to find her own place now. He says she will find them, and Amy asks how she will manage that but gets no answer. Back in 5123, we see the Luna University, where River Song explains why she wants to study archeology. She tells him she's looking for a good man.

6.9 Night Terrors by Mark Gatiss (index)

Well after the altitude of A Good Man Goes to War and Let's Kill Hitler, this ep was somewhat of a descent, even though it was written by the estimable Mark Gatiss.

We begin in a disgustingly huge and nondescript block of flats where a nurse, getting ready to head out on the night shift is facilitating her young son George's obsessive compulsive disorder. Somehow the child's chant of "please save me from the monsters" reaches The Doc who decides to make a house call. Once there, the three of them are reduced to going door-to-door because while The Doc's psychic paper can trace the plea to this specific block of flats, it can't get any more fine-tuned than that! Weak! Meanwhile, the poor kid is literally terrified in his dark bedroom, shining a flashlight around and making things look worse.

As Amy and Rory go into a terrifying plunge in the lift, an old codger Elsie gets sucked into the rubbish pile down in the yard, The Doc happens upon the right flat. George's dad Alex tells The Doc that he's scared of everything.

Alex: Yeah. We talked about getting help; you know, maybe sending him somewhere? He started getting these nervous tics. You know: funny little cough, blinking all the time, and now it's got completely out of hand; I mean he's scared to death of everything.
The Doc: Pantophobia.
Alex: What?
The Doc: That's what it's called: pantophobia. Not fear of pants though, if that's what you're thinking. It's fear of everything; including pants, I suppose. In that case...sorry! Go on.
Alex: He hates clowns.
The Doc: Understandable.

So Amy and Rory wake up thinking they might be dead but find themselves inside a house wherein everything's made of wood, including the frying pan which Amy takes as a weapon. They start exploring to find a way out. The Doc is talking with George and discovers that he's terrified of his wardrobe which is where his idiot parents have put anything and everything from George's room which scares him. Way to go parents! The Doc moves to open the wardrobe, but before he can open it there's a loud insistent knock upon the front door.

It's the landlord with his nasty bulldog Bernard, coming for his 'payment'. In the bedroom, The Doc sonics the wardrobe and its reading is off the scale. After the landlord has left, Alex comes back into the bedroom and immediately tries to open the door to the wardrobe, but The Doc refuses to let him, saying George's monsters and real. In the dark house, Elsie is wandering around as well as, separate from her, Amy, toting her wooden frying pan and Rory. They hear young girls' voices and find a life-size dummy in a cupboard, which wakes up and starts following them as soon as they turn their backs, of course.

After a cup of tea, The Doc decides they should open the cupboard. The landlord is bemoaning the fact that there's nothing on TV, and as he walks across the carpet, he's sucked down into it. The Doc opens the cupboard and there's nothing in there but a few toys and an elaborate doll's house. Alex suddenly remembers that his wife can't have kids, but how had he forgotten that? And how to explain George? Evidently he's a alien, deposited upon the humans by a cuckoo-like alien species. This revelation results in both The Doc and his dad getting sucked into the cupboard. Meanwhile Rory and Amy see the landlord captured by one of the dolls and turned into a wooden doll himself.

The Doc immediately realizes that they're inside the doll's house. He's pondering out loud how this could happen - and what kind of son Alex and Claire have garnered for themselves.

The Doc: So! Claire can't have kids and something responded to that; responded to that need! What could do that?
Alex: Well I thought you were the expert, fighting monsters all day long. You tell me!
The Doc: Oy! Listen, Mush: old eyes, remember? I've been around the block a few times; more than a few. They've knocked down the blocks I've been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks - super blocks! And I've been round them as well. I can't remember everything; like trying to remember the name of someone you met at a party when you were two.

Amy and Rory get trapped in a room and Amy decides they should open the door and rush the dolls to escape, but when they do this, Amy is captured and turned into a doll. The dolls start chasing The Doc and Alex. They run into Rory and are surrounded by dolls, The Doc calling to George for help. When he enters the closet, the dolls freeze, but then they unfreeze. The Doc tells Alex that George is an alien and he's reacting this way because he's afraid of being rejected. Once Alex tells his son that he loves him, it all works out. Elsie wakes up in the rubbish, Amy and Rory come out of the lift, the landlord is back in his flat, hugging his dog. Weak! Fortunately, the next ep is a good one, although the opening premise is weak and hackneyed.

6.10 The Girl Who Waited by Tom MacRae (index)

The three arrive on a planet called Apalapuchia, which is supposed to be beautiful and Amy immediately gets separated from The Doc and Rory because she goes back into the TARDIS in search of her phone. Rather than wait for her, Rory and The Doc hit the top of two buttons (the green one marked with an anchor and the English phrase, Green Anchor) on what looks like an elevator, and rather than wait for her, they go right in, whereupon the doors slide shut behind them. When Amy comes out, she has no idea where they are. She calls through the door and Rory tells her to push the button, so of course she pushes the red one (marked with three wavy lines and the English phrase Red Waterfall), and when the door opens and they're not here, she walks right in like an idiot and the door closes and seals her in there. Okay, so, so far, really stupid, but it gets better.

Rory opens the door and Amy is not there. There is a giant magnifying glass on the table in both rooms, and they can see each other through it, and talk, but they have no idea where they are in relation to the other. Some sort of robot enters the room where The Doc and Rory are, and holds its hand up to communicate, asking them if they will be visiting long. It's a perfectly innocent and simple question, but The Doc and Rory panic. After a few seconds, they start talking to Amy again, who asks them where they've been. She tells them she's been waiting for a week! Now we know why it's called "The Two Streams facility" I guess!

When Rory goes out and presses the red button, but when the doors open, Amy is nowhere to be seen. The robot with the hand tells them that the planet is under quarantine because of the virus Chen 7 which is a one-day virus (kills you in 24 hours) and they speed up the victim's life so in 24 hours you can spend a lifetime with them. Weird. This is called a kindness facility! Fortunately, Amy and Rory are immune to the virus, The Doc is not. The Doc locks the magnifying glass onto Amy and takes it back to the TARDIS so they can trace her and reclaim her from the facility. The Doc tells her to go into the facility (why?!) and he will come and get her with the TARDIS. He tells her not to let the aliens give her anything because her alien physiology will not do well on it.

The Doc fits out Rory with a pair of eyeglasses with a camera built in. He is to go in and find Amy. Meanwhile, Amy is greeted by two things - one, a light from the ceiling which offers to be her guide, and the other a TV image of someone dressed like an airline flight attendant who suggests Amy might like to go to the mountain zone or the roller-coaster zone modeled after a Disneyland death ride. What?! There is no processing, no charges, no guidance, nothing!

When Amy wanders off somewhere, she's described as an unexpected visitor and advised to seek assistance. She hails a robot and it immediately identifies her as carrying harmful bacteria, pulls out a syringe and tries to inject her. When she tells it she's not from this world it rejects her claim (see, health insurance is the same bullshit no matter which planet you're on!). When she flees, we discover why it has no face - the entire head opens up revealing a host of little missiles. Four other robots appear out of nowhere and Amy has to duck down into the mechanical and environmental area to escape. A robot pursues her and shows how useful it would be to be able to see through your hands!

Several other robots appear down below and Amy is running around and unaccountably enters a cage which has steam rising/ In there, the robots cannot see her and they leave. Rory enters the facility. Amy starts talking to the guide in the roof. Amy finds herself in a white room with half a dozen portals via which she can go to one of several entertainment zones. She chooses garden, and enters the portal to find herself in a weird and beautiful garden area. Amy asks the interface in the ceiling where she can go where its safe. Failing to get an answer, she starts quizzing the interface about the steam and learns little. Two more hand-bots appear, and Amy disables them by pushing their hands together.

Amy finds herself next in the area of the temporal engines which she feels will protect her from the hand-bots. Rory is wandering the facility, looking through the magnifying glass which, when The Doc adjusts it, shows him all the overlapping time streams as a blur of bodies moving around. Right when he drops it from his line of vision, someone in makeshift armor attacks him. It's Amy. She says, "I waited for you." but when she lifts up her mask, she's much, much older than the Amy we last saw.

Amy has a sword which she raises and aims at Rory's head, telling him to duck as she stabs it right through the head of a hand-bot behind him. Then she places something she calls a sonic probe into the hand-bot to make it forget it saw her. She tells Rory that he didn't save her and Rory loses it with The Doc and yells, "This is the saving...The Doc got the timing a bit out!" Amy tells him she has been there for 36 years 3 months and four days, and it's hard now to feel charitable thoughts towards The Doc.

Rory tells her he doesn't care that she got old, he cares that they didn't get old together, and she tells him not to touch her. Rory follows her back to her little camp inside the temporal engine room, where she has a pet hand-bot called Rory with a kind of smiley face painted on it! She tells Rory it's safe - she disarmed it, and Rory sees that it has no hands! Amy is about to put on lipstick, but she changes her mind. She glances at her watch and says, 2:23, the garden will be clear now" She looks at Rory and says, "Stay or go."

In the garden, The Doc wants to talk to the interface and download some data, so Rory hands Amy the eyeglasses ("Rory-cam") and she says that they look ridiculous. Rory remarks "Still, anything beats a fez, eh?" and she and Rory share a laugh. Amy says, "I think that's the first time I've laughed in 36 years." There's an awkward, frozen moment and then Rory tells Amy he'll leave the two geniuses together and he takes a stroll in the garden. He finds a lone portal and wonders how there can be a door without a wall, but he walks into the wall as he tries to go around the door, and remarks, "Oh, holographic wallpaper!", when a hand-bot touches him and he's knocked out from the anesthetic in its hand.

Just as it is about to inject him, Amy cuts off its head with her sword. She's angry with The Doc and refuses to listen to him, storming back into her lair, but Rory, following behind, notices a smeared hand-written sign on the door. When he looks at it through the magnifier, it clearly shows Amy's handwriting in red lipstick, telling The Doc that she's waiting. Amy tells The Doc that he needs to take her, leaving Rory in the position of having to choose between the original Amy, before she grows old, which means the present Amy will be wiped out of existence, or take the present Amy, which means the original Amy has to endure 36 years of this.

Rory gets pissed off with The Doc and tells him he should check once in a while to see if there's plague where he's going and The Doc tells him that's not how he travels, to which Rory responds that he does not want to travel with The Doc is that's the case. This begs an interesting question because what we see here is a negation of what the TARDIS herself said in the ep The Doctor's Wife where she told him she always takes him where he needs to be. There was no need to be on that planet or go through this at all. No one is suffering here (other than the regular viral victims, but The Doc has never shown himself interested in preserving life from plague and disease). The only one suffering here from the PoV of the TARDIS crew is Amy, and she would not be in her position had the TARDIS not landed.

Rory tosses The Doc's eyeglasses to the ground, but The Doc can hear Amy crying. Rory enters the lair of the older Amy with the magnifying glass raised and he can see original Amy crying. Older Amy declares she will not help her younger self, but Rory does something with the magnifying glass so that original Amy can see him through it. Older Amy can also see her younger self. Younger Amy slowly realizes that she's looking at an older version of herself. The two Amy's have a long and emotional conversation after which Amy the older decides to blow time apart and get the older Amy back with her younger self. She will do it on one condition: that The Doc rescues both Amys!

Amy: Okay, Doctor. Two Streams is back on-air. Right, okay, so this is big news. This is temporal earthquake time: I'm now officially changing my own future. Hold on to your spectacles! In my past, I saw my future self refuse to help you. I'm now changing that future and agreeing; every law of time says that shouldn't be possible.
The Doc: Yes, except sometimes knowing your own future is what enables you to change it, especially if you're bloody-minded, contradictory, and completely unpredictable.
Rory: So basically if you're Amy then?
The Doc: Yes, if anyone could defeat predestiny, it's your wife.
Amy: It's not about what I'm doing, it's about who I'm doing it for.
Amy: I'm trusting you to watch my back, Rory.
Rory: Always! You and me, always.
Amy: 'Cause here's the deal: you take me too. In the TARDIS; me too.
Rory: But that means there'll be two of you...permanently. Forever!
Amy: And that way we both get to live.
Rory: Two Amys together: can that work?
The Doc: I don't know; it's your marriage!

The Doc advises Rory on which wires to cross and which levers to pull in which order, and eventually the two Amy's both appear in the same time-space. It's really shocking how easily the public can get into the operational areas in this facility! The two Amy's keep saying the same things in sync with one another. The TARDIS evidently doesn't like this paradox (how exactly it's a paradox isn't quite clear - yes, there are two Amy's but both came from this facility - they were not picked up from separate time periods by The Doc flitting around in his TARDIS. Until a few moments ago, they were both in coincidental existence at the same facility along with perhaps many other Amys at different points along that same time stream! Oh well!).

The Doc tells Rory he has to get them back to the TARDIS and there's little time to do it. As they run they are pursued by scores of hand-bots. Older Amy tells Rory and younger Amy to run - she's got their back. A hand-bot tranqs younger Amy. Rory picks her up and carries her, followed by older Amy, but older Amy hesitates, and then when she runs to the TARDIS, The Doc locks her out, telling Rory the TARDIS can't handle two Amy's which is bullshit because more than one version of The Doc has been in the TARDIS at one time.. She has a really emotional moment with Rory and tells him not to let her in. She wants young Amy to have those days with him. Amy wakes up from her sleep and asks, "Where is she?"

6.11 The God Complex by Toby Whithouse (index)

PC Lucy Hayward is patrolling the corridors of a hotel with a really cool staircase, opening the occasional room door (without knocking!). Lucy is narrating, telling us she is the last one left. In the first room she opens, room 214, sits a clown on the bed with a balloon and sad makeup. She closes that door and continues her patrol. In room 215 is an old-fashioned photographer. She claims that you can't know what's going to be in your room until you see it, and then you realize it could never be anything else.

For some reason (perhaps because of bad continuity!) she re-opens room 214, and there's a guy in a gorilla suit, no clown. Lucy screams and falls backwards out of the room onto the floor of the hallway. A beast with a guttural groan opens its eyes. PC Hayward notes in her notebook that the gaps between her worship are getting shorter. The last thing she writes his "Praise him" and the beast comes stomping hard down the hallway towards her smiling face.

The Doc and the "assembled Ponds" are looking around the hotel, the TARDIS parked on the landing by the staircase. There are photographs all over the walls in the stair well, one, for example, of a Sontaran with his name and the single word, "Defeat" under it. Another shows the police woman with her name and the caption "That brutal Gorilla".

In an effort to learn more, they ring the bell at the reception desk and are immediately almost assaulted by three people, only two of which are human.

The Doc: Woah! That was quick.
Gibbis: We surrender.
Rory: No, it's okay.
Gibbis: We surrender!
The Doc: A chair leg!
Rory: We're nice.
The Doc: She threatened me with a chair leg!
Rita: Who are you?
Howie: Oh god, we're back in reception.
Gibbis: We surrender.
The Doc: I've never been threatened with a chair leg before. No, hang on, I tell a lie.
Amy: [To Rory] Did you just say, "It's okay, we're nice"?
Rita: Okay, I need everyone to shut up now!
Howie: Rita, be careful, yeah?
Rita: Their pupils are dilated; they are as surprised as we are. Besides which, if it is a trick it'll tell us something.
The Doc: Oh you're good. Oh, she's good. Amy, with regret, you're fired.
Amy: What?
The Doc: I'm kidding. [whispers to Rita] We'll talk.

The alien is a Tivoli, and he and the other two explain that there are no windows or doors, only walls that are disguised poorly as windows (metaphor for Microsoft?!) and doors. The rooms move, and there is no way out. There are things in the rooms like "bad dreams". The Doc responds, "Okay, this is bad. At the moment I don't know how bad, but certainly we're three buses, a long walk, eight quid and a taxi from good."! There's one more human. His name is Joe and he's tied up right now. Quite literally. When they find him he's in the dining room surrounded by laughing ventriloquists dummies which all shut up and turn their heads when The Doc and his party enter.

As they're wheeling Joe around on a luggage trolley, a guy in his underwear comes out of room 158 and tells The Doc he'll have to do PE in his underwear. Then Howie opens 155 and finds a bunch of high school girls who make fun of him, and he's gone. Despite The Doc's earlier warning that they not look in any of the rooms, as soon as they hear the beast coming, they split up and go into two different rooms, ignoring Rory who's telling then that there's a fire escape right there. In Rita's room, where she took Joe, there's a doctor, evidently Rita's dad, who is angry with her for getting a 'B' in mathematics, and she's gone.

In the room where The Doc and Amy go, and eventually Rory when he's dragged in there, are two weeping angels, but they turn out to be holograms. The Doc spies on the beast as it stomps past his door and he says it's beautiful. The ropes tying Joe to his chair slip off him like magic. He goes out into the hallway, and the beast drags him away, The Doc gives chase but cannot locate him at first. When he does find him, he's dead of an unidentifiable cause. There then takes place a really interesting conversation whilst they drink tea. Amy begins it by professing her faith in The Doc to Gibbis. This will be important later. She tells Gibbis that she thought the Weeping Angels were her nightmare, not his.

Gibbis: Of course, if the Weeping Angels were meant for me, then your room is still out there, somewhere.
Rory: Every time The Doctor gets pally with someone I have this overwhelming urge to notify their next-of-kin. [Amy laughs] Sorry! Last time I said something like that you hit me with your shoe, and you didn't try to sit down and unlace it first.
Rita: [Referring to Joe] What exactly happened to him?
The Doc: He died.
Rita: You are a medical doctor, aren't you? You haven't just got a degree in cheese making or something?
The Doc: No! Well yes, both actually. I mean there is no cause; all his vital organs simply stopped as if the simple spark of life, his loves and hates, his faiths and fears, were just taken...and this is a cup of tea!
Rita: Of course! I'm British! It's how we cope with trauma. That, and totting.
The Doc: How did you make it?
Rita: All Hotels should have a well-stocked kitchen: even alien fake ones. I heard you talking when you arrived.
Rita: Look it's no more ridiculous than Howie's CIA theory or mine.
The Doc: Which is?
Rita: This is Jahannam.
The Doc: You're a Muslim!
Rita: Don't be frightened!
The Doc: [Laughs] You think this is hell?
Rita: The whole eighties hotel thing took me by surprise though.
The Doc: And all these fears and phobias, wandering about, most of them completely unconnected to us. So why are they still here?
Rita: Maybe the cleaners have gone on strike.
The Doc: Ha! I like you! You're a right clever clogs, but this isn't Hell, Rita.
Rita: You don't understand. I say that without fear. Jahannam will play its tricks and there'll be times when I want to run and scream, but I've tried to live a good life and that knowledge keeps me sane, despite the monsters and the bonkers rooms. Gibbis is an alien, isn't he?
The Doc: Yep. Sorry!
Rita: Okay. I'm going to file that under 'freak out about later'.

Howie begins to say "Praise him!" and the beast starts stomping. The Doc plans to use Howie as bait to catch the beast. They use Howie's voice through a speaker to trap the beast, which is now revealed to be rather like a minotaur. Talking with it, The Doc discovers that the minotaur is in prison. It escapes when it discovers Howie is on the loose, and takes him. Amy, in search of The Doc finds room number 7, and opens the door. We don't see what she sees. Rita shuts the door and leads her away. The Doc finds Howie's body outside room 152, although why there is a mystery.

Howie's picture is on the wall. The Doc asks Rory if he's found his room yet and Rory says he hasn't. Later, The Doc finds himself outside room 11 and looks inside. We see nothing, but we hear the TARDIS cloister bell, and The Doc smiles and says, "Of course. Who else?" He hangs a 'Do not disturb' sign on the door. Rita is wandering off to face her fate and even a phone call from The Doc doesn't sway her. The Doc gets angry at her death and starts smashing up the hotel.

The Doc suddenly realizes that it's not fear, but faith which is driving the minotaur. He realizes it doesn't want Rory because he has no faith in anything but himself. The beast wants Amy because of her faith in The Doc. She starts saying, "Praise him". They run into a room to hide from the beast, and it's Amy's room: what she saw was young Amy with her deep faith that The Doc would return. The Doc tells young Amy that he's not a hero, he really is just a mad man with a box and it's time they each saw the other as they really are. He calls her Amy Williams for the first time and tells her to stop waiting.

Outside in the hallways, the beast has collapsed and is dying. The entire hotel breaks down to reveal nothing but a bare room with the TARDIS and a control panel. The Doc returns Gibbis to his own planet, and we see the three of them again on Earth, outside a house with a TARDIS blue door, the same color as Amy's nails, and a bright red E-type jaguar parked outside - The Doc's parting gift to Amy and Rory. He doesn't want them to die with him.

Once again he's alone in the TARDIS. If only he'd stayed that way.

6.12 Closing Time by Gareth Roberts with Steven Moffat writing the final scene (index)

This takes place some time into the future form when The Doc dropped off Amy & Rory. It's an "Amy & Rory lite" ep since they were doubtlessly off filming The Power of Three at the time, which was a "Doctor lite" ep. In the Sanderson & Granger Department store, we see they're having a problem with the power on the fritz. Kelly wants to get out of there because she has a date. Poor Shona is left to take care of cleaning up and cashing up. Meanwhile Sophie and Craig are fussing over her trip leaving him alone in charge of the baby. The Doc shows up. He almost assaults Craig's baby, thinking it's an alien. Shona draws back a curtain in the changing room to find a Cyberman!

Craig has assured Sophie he can cope, but he's in a panic which he confesses to The Doc. The Baby, so The Doc says, calls himself Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All, but his real name is Alfie. The Doc is on a farewell tour, refusing to be drawn into saving humans any more. Then we find him working in the toy department of the S&G store. His name tag says, "The Doctor"! He notices an odd "creature" zoom by down on the floor. They enter an elevator and The Doc actually says, "Someone has been using a beam-me-up Star Trek teleport"!

They end up aboard a Cyber ship. They escape and Craig volunteers to be The Doc's companion. The store assistant thinks they're a couple, she mentions a "silver rat". The Doc sends Craig off to investigate. He runs into Kelly and spooks her th his questions, but The Doc comes to his rescue. They end up in the changing rooms. The Doc explains that the silver rat is in fact a Cybermat - a small machine which is deadly and which sucks up power for the Cybermen to use. This is in line with the new series bring back features from the older series.

When Craig goes off to change Alfie, The Doc sees Amy & Rory shopping, although why they're in Colchester is a mystery. Amy's career as a model has taken off and kids are asking her for her autograph. As Amy leaves, the little girl directs her mom's attention to the giant poster on the wall where Amy's face appears next to a perfume called "Petrichor" (reference The Doctor's Wife ep) with the blurb, "For the girl who's tired of waiting"!

The Doc and Craig hide out in the store until it's closed and then begin snooping around - with the baby in tow! Craig straps Alfie to him with a "papoose". The Doc captures a Cybermat and the guard is taken by the Cybermen. The Doc rushes to investigate but is knocked out by a Cyberman. That it evidently doesn't take him is explained by his being "incompatible". They retire to Craig's house where Craig leaves The Doc in charge while he goes for milk.

The Doc reprograms the Cybermat to track down the Cybermen, but it doesn't help him. In the end he all but blunders into a tunnel behind the wall in one of the changing booths which leads down to a Cyber-ship that had crashed some time before. The Cybermen and trying to generate enough power to resurrect their men. Craig chases after The Doc, leaving his baby rather irresponsibly with the store assistant who is a stranger to him.

Craig is captured - his store scanner weapon bluff failed! They fasten Craig into a converter to change him to a Cyberman. Just when it seems that Craig is converted, a video image arrives of his child crying, and the emotional contact is enough to spur Craig into reversing the Cyber conversion. The feedback from this into the other Cybermen overloads their system and destroys them. Craig arrives home to discover that The Doc completely redecorated the house. The Doc leaves with a present from Craig - the stetson that he wears in The impossible Astronaut.

Next we're in the 51st century where River Song is studying archaeology and Kovarian shows up with two Silents. They drug River and place her under Lake Silencio in an astronaut's suit.

6.12 The Wedding of River Song by Steven Moffat (index)

We open on a London of totally mixed time periods where Charles Dickens lives alongside pterodactyls, steam engines, and Roman soldiers, and Winston Churchill is Caesar. The date ands the time have never changed - so Churchill wants to see the soothsayer - which is The Doc with a beard again. When Churchill asks him what happened to time, The Doc responds, "A woman." Roll the titles!

At some unknown point in space and time, The Doc finds an injured Dalek and accesses its data core to find out what they know about The Silents. Later, on The Docks of Calisto B, The Doc is sitting reading a magazine about knitting for Girls, waiting on the arrival of Gideon Vandeleur, which happens to be a famous name in British history - the Vandeleur part, not the Gideon part. But this guy turns out to be a Teselecta, and from it, The Doc learns, indirectly, the location of Dorium Maldovar, who is headless, but still alive.

Maldovar tells him, "On the Fields of "Trenzalore at the Fall of the Eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a question will be asked; a question that must never ever be answered." The Doc takes Dorian's head along with him. He seeks a strategist, but he learns that Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart has died. He can't visit him at an earlier time because of course, the actor who played him, Nicholas Courtney, has died. It was a nice memorial to him, though.

And we find ourselves back on the shore of Lake Silencio in Utah, and the astronaut reveals herself to be the mature River Song in her current incarnation. She somehow manages to avoid shooting The Doc, and this is why time has broken down. The Doc tells all of this to Churchill, and just when they realize they're being watched by Silents on the ceiling, Amelia Pond shows up in a suit and an eye-patch, which is really an eye-drive as Rory later explains, and takes The Doc prisoner. Actually, she rescues him and they ride the train to Cairo.

Amy reveals that she has to keep writing things down or she forgets. She doesn't know where Rory is. She remembers The Doc's death in two different ways. The Doc explains that the problem is that he's still alive. He talks with Rory away from Amy to try and figure out why Amy can't remember him and why Rory doesn't appear bothered by that. Amy takes him to meet River, who refuses to touch him because if she does that, it will short out the time stasis she put in place and he will die.

Meanwhile, with the arrival of The Doc, The Silents are breaking out of their tanks and using people's eye drives to kill the soldiers. As they are about to break into the room where they're holding Kovarian prisoner, River and Amy persuade The Doc to go with them to the top of the pyramid, where River has set up a distress beacon calling people to aid The Doc. Amy rescues Rory, and up on the roof, The Doc and River hold his bow tie between them and get consent from Rory and Amy. He tells River his real name in a whisper and they're married. On the beach, he's killed, and all time reverts to where and when it should be.

Amy's sitting out in her yard and River gets back from The Wreck of the Byzantium and they sit and chat in the back yard. River whispers a secret to Amy and then they tell Rory. Amy realizes she's The Doc's mother-in-law. Meanwhile, a monk returns Dorian's head to the caverns, and Dorian realizes the monk is The Doc. He tells him that the question is still there to be asked, and the question is: Doctor Who?

The Doc survived his own assassination by hiding inside a Teselecta of himself!

7.0 The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe by Steven Moffat (index)

Another Doctor Who Christmas Special! I have to say that this one begins with the completely asinine contention that The Doc can survive in outer space, put on a space suit, and live through the fall to earth, being recovered from a six foot deep crater and be essentially just fine. That was nonsense! He's rescued by Madge Arwell who is married to a pilot of an Avro Lancaster Bomber, the mainstay of the British retaliation against Nazi Germany. Yes, The Doctor Who series really needs to get past its obsession with World War 2 and move on! Madge takes The Doc to his police box - but they encounter the wrong one at first, and for the first time we get to see what the police box actually looks like inside!

Three years later, Madge's husband Reg is flying his Lancaster over the English channel trying to get home for Christmas, but it's not looking good. Then we enter a shameless rip-off of The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe. Madge, and her daughter lily, and younger son Cyril, arrive at a house in the country expecting to find the caretaker, Mr Cardew, but they find The Doc who welcomes them into the house and shows them around all the fantastical improvements he's made (one of which is a toy house which looks just like the one from Night Terrors. Madge becomes angry with this because she knows her husband is dead and hasn't told her children yet. She doesn't want them to associate Christmas with their father dying. She'll tell them later.

Downstairs is an amazing Christmas tree and a giant present which of course obsesses Cyril to the point where he sneaks down that night to open it and see what's in it. He finds he can crawl thorough the present to come out in a world of snow and pine trees, one of which grows two silver balls that look like Christmas ornaments. When Cyril takes one from the tree, it grows, at which point he drops it and retreats back into the box. Lily finds The Doc up in the attic fixing his TARDIS, which he tells Lily is a wardrobe just painted to look like a Police Box but she doesn't believe him.

When Cyril plucks up sufficient courage to return through the box, he discovers that the Christmas ornament was an egg which broke open and whatever was in it has gone. He follows the footprints. The Doc and Lily discover he's not in his hammock and follow him through the box. Lily asks, "Where are we?" to which The Doc replies, "In a forest, in a box, in a sitting room. Pay attention!" They notice that whatever Cyril is following, it's growing.

The trees appear to be communicating with each other using snow particles. Or maybe it's ash...! The Doc decides there's something wrong. Back in the house Madge has discovered the box tunnel, and in the forest, Cyril has discovered a tower, reminiscent of a light house. He enters and finds a huge wooden man, seated on a throne. His hair looks like a crown. The tower is hollow, but around the wall are stairs leading all the way to the top. Cyril ascends.

Madge by now is in th forest and both she and The Doc and Lily pair start hearing loud bangs like something huge walking. She runs into - almost literally - a three-legged robot containing people dressed like stormtroopers from Star Wars. The Doc and Lily continue towards the tower. At the top of the tower, Cyril discovers a room where there's a wooden queen hold a crown over a wooden throne.

Madge breaks down crying and the three troopers eventually put their arms down on the ground to try and calm her down whereupon she pulls a gun out of her coat and takes the three troopers hostage! They beam up to somewhere leave Madge alone in the robot with an acid rain warning. The plan is to melt the forest and use it for fuel. The king and queen plan to use a human to transport their forest life force to safety, but Cyril is weak. The wooden monarchs can communicate using Cyril, and explain all this to The Doc. He volunteers to be the transportation, but he is weak. Lily puts on the crown, and she is strong but too young.

Madge arrives in the robot and the crown suits her. All the life forms converge on the tower, which then releases the geodesic dome on top, which is a space ship. The Doc tells the kids to do what he does - hold tight and pretend it's a plan! Madge has to think her way home in this ship, and she clutches the war department telegram informing her of her husband's death. The projected image on the screen in front of her shows her her husband's plane. The pilot, Reg, her husband, sees a blinding light and follows it to safety, so Madge not only saves the forest people, but also her husband.

She talks The Doc into revealing that he's alive to his friends, so he visits Amy & Rory in time for Christmas dinner, and they have a place set for him because they always do. They knew he was alive, of course since their daughter, River Sing, has already told them. The Doc learns how to cry because he's happy. But it's not going to last.

Note that prior to the start of season seven, there was a short series of 'webisodes' called 'Pond Life' (not to be confused with the Brit cartoon series of the same name). The BBC for reasons inscrutable has chosen not to make this available, but it's on YouTube, all in one block. Frankly, they're a bit pointless and flat, although the Ood one in the middle is mildly amusing. And there's this highly inappropriate erection of a toasting fork when The Doc relates an encounter with Mata Hari in a Paris hotel room. How that got past the BBC censors is a mystery!

7.1 Asylum of the Daleks by Steven Moffat (index)

Finally, we get to the current season (current when this was written!). The Doc meets an intriguing redhead, Darla von Karlsen (played by the charming award-winning Romanian actor Anamaria Marinca in improbably high heels!), who wants The Doc to rescue her daughter Anna, who is in a Dalek prison camp. They meet on Skaro, which is an amazing feat because the seventh incarnation of The Doc destroyed the planet completely! Skaro was the original planet of the Daleks, and an environmental disaster - always has been! The Doc knows it well; he's been there before. The Doc is suspicious, but not suspicious enough. Her story makes no sense until a Dalek eye stalk comes out of her forehead and a Dalek weapon out of her right hand (this is intriguing since the weapon is exclusively the left "hand" in real Daleks. She zaps The Doc and we see a Dalek saucer and hear a Dalek voice announce, "The Doctor is acquired."

Next we're at a model photo shoot and the model is Amy Pond. She has a visitor. It's Rory with divorce papers for her to sign. She signs Amelia Williams, thereby destroying all pretense that her husband is Rory Pond! He's not at all happy with her and she's tries to talk to him but he wont. After he leaves, her assistant turns into another human Dalek and zaps her. On the bus ride home (what happened to his Jaguar?!), Rory is also zapped in a like manner and he wakes to find himself with Amy again, but in a white, cylindrically shaped room with a porthole which looks out onto a Dalek fleet in space!

The Doc joins them and the floor pushes them up into the center of The Parliament of the Daleks. There was a huge fuss made about this ep when it was first announced, in that there would be examples of every kind of Dalek we've ever met in the show, but in the end it was pathetic, with a few shadowy shapes, yet with most of the Daleks not even the new improved variety, but the common or garden variety we've become used to with the series reboot in 2005, which rather betrays the ep where they regenerated.

The Doc tells the Daleks they have him so go ahead and exterminate him, but the Dalek leader tells The Doc he will save the Daleks! After the titles we unexpectedly meet Oswin Oswald, the companion who is to replace Amy & Rory when they bow out in the mid season show. She's narrating her existence. It's day 363, and she's barricaded in a room outside of which we can hear Daleks, she's baking soufflés, and she's listening to the Habanera aria from Georges Bizet's opus (opera is actually a plural) Carmen. Here's Katherine Jenkins singing it.

They arrive at a planet where asylum is given to insane Daleks, where millions are housed. The Doc tries to communicate and ends up talking to Oswin. He's concerned about where she gets the milk to make the soufflés! The Doc realizes that the Daleks are scared to go down there which is why they've recruited him. The Predator of the Daleks is required to help them. Darla explains that this is the Daleks name for The Doc. I guess they don't call him "The oncoming Storm" any more.

He and his two companions are fitted with bracelets which provide protection against the nanite defenses, and are tossed unceremoniously into a beam down which they fly onto the planet's surface which is snow-covered. Amy encounters a guy there, apparently carrying on some maintenance. Rory is of course separated from Amy and The Doc. He's deep underground and when he wakes up, he finds himself surrounded by apparently derelict Daleks, old, dusty, corroded, and fortunately for him, inanimate.

The Doc and Amy are led to the space shop "Alaska" in which Oswin supposedly lives, but she claims she's been there for a year, whereas the guy claims they arrived only recently. In the space ship, his entire crew are dead and mummified. it seems like Oswin was telling the truth and Harvey is delusional. The corpses reanimate and become Dalek-human hybrids like Darla. Amy and The Doc escape. Amy asks, "Is it bad that I've really missed this." Oswin contacts them and makes fun about The Doc's chin. Oswin, extolling her virtuosity at hacking asks, "Is there a word for total screaming genius that sounds modest and a tiny bit sexy?" and The Doc replies, "They call me The Doctor". Oswin points them to an escape hatch and signs off. As they break through it The Doc asks Amy what's going on with her and Rory. She tells him they split up: "It's not one of those things you can fix like you fix your bow tie. Don't give me those big wet eyes, Raggedy Man. It's life. Just life, that's thing that goes on when you're not there."!

When The Doc sees that the mummies have a wrist bracelet, he wonders where they got it and Amy realizes that it's hers. They took it from her in a tussle as the two of them were escaping. It means that she will begin to change to a Dalek human combo just like Darla and Harvey. Amy keeps asking The Doc about the changes she's undergoing, and he tells her she's asked him before and keeps forgetting. She tells him she's scared now, and he's pleased with that because scared isn't Dalek.

Meanwhile, instead of getting the heck out of there quietly, Rory starts to touch the Daleks and one of them revives. He misunderstands its attempt to say "exterminate" and gets into a weird and hobbled conversation with it about eggs. Oswin comes to his rescue. She comments, "Lovely name, Rory. First boy I ever fancied was called Rory. Actually she was called Nina. I was going through a phase. Just flirting to keep you cheerful." She directs him to a room where he's safe and closes the door, then she tells him "Okay, you're safe for now. Pop your shirt off, quick as you like!" and when Rory asks, "Why?", she says, guilty, "Does there have to be a reason?"!

Oswin informs The Doc that she has a visual on him and ascribes his lack of visual on her to bad hair. She directs him to Rory, but Amy is hallucinating and seeing Daleks as people, including one who is a young ballerina! Trapped by a Dalek which apparently has insufficient power to use its gun, The Doc taints the Dalek, calling it a tricycle with a roof, and asks what it's going to do. The Dalek chooses to self-destruct in order to kill him, and as it begins a countdown (why?!) The Doc puts it into reverse and sends it out to the other Daleks where it destroys them instead!

Rory discovers the destroyed Daleks and The Doc comes out carrying Amy. When she recovers, the first thing she does is slap Rory after he asks if she remembers him. For him, that confirms that she does, but it makes no sense at all since she was the one who initiated the break up of their marriage, not him! Oswin asks, "Do you know how you make someone into a Dalek?" and she goes on to answer her own question: "Subtract love, add anger. Doesn't she seem a bit too angry to you?" Amy immediately retorts, "Well, somebody's never been to Scotland." which is funny but it betrays what she said to The Doc as Amelia Pond, when The Doc first met her.

Oswin tells The Doc she will only help him with his escape plan is if he comes to get her. He sets off along dark corridors hearing distant, frantic Dalek voices. Rory and Amy get into it over their marriage problems.

Rory: Okay, look at me! I'm going to be logical: cold and logical, okay? For both of our sakes - for both of us - I'm going to take this off my wrist and put it on yours.
Amy: Why? Then it'll just start converting you; that's not fair!
Rory: Yeah, but it will buy is time because it will take longer with me.
Amy: Sorry, what?"
Rory: It subtracts love - that's what she said.
Amy: What's that got to do with it? What does that even mean?
Rory: It's just arithmetic: it will take longer with me because...well we both know, we've both always known that...Amy, basic fact of our relationship is that I love you more than you love me, which today is good news because it might just save both of our lives.
Amy: How can you say that?
Rory: Two thousand years, waiting for you outside a box! I'm saying it because it;s true, and since you know it's true, give me your arm...Amy!
[Amy slaps him. Again]
Amy: Don't you dare say that to me! Don't you ever dare!
Rory: Amy, you kicked me out!
Amy: You want kids; you have always wanted kids, ever since you were a kid. And I can't have them!
Rory: I know.
Amy: Whatever they did to me at Demons Run, I can't ever give you children. I didn't kick you out...I gave you up.
Rory: Baby, I don't...
Amy: So don't you dare talk to me about waiting outside a box because that is nothing, Rory, nothing compared to giving you up.
Rory: Just give me your arm, and I'll put this on!
Amy: No!
Rory: Just give me your arm!
Amy: Don't touch me!

I have a problem with this, brilliantly written as it is. The slapping: how come it's fine for a girl to slap a guy? We see it all the time; we see it so often that we don't even notice how unjust it is. We see it so often that we think it's fine for kids to see this abuse. How come it's fine for a girl to slap a guy, but not vice versa? I mean it shouldn't be okay for either, so why do we tacitly condone this when girls do it? We even think it's funny, but it's really not. Equality means no slapping, not for either gender or anyone in between. It doesn't mean it's fine for girls but not for guys.

Anyway, The Doc proceeds towards Oswin's location, but he wakes up the Daleks - the intensive care Daleks - the ones who survived The Doc. They start converging on him, but Oswin fixes even this. She deletes the master files on The Doc from the Dalek archives. They no longer know who he is and (unaccountably!) lose interest in him. Finally he gets through the door and meets Oswin. And she's a Dalek who is merely dreaming she's still human. She realizes she cannot become human again, so she removes the force field and allows the Daleks to bombard the plant. Meanwhile The Doc teleports with Amy & Rory directly into The TARDIS. None of the Daleks remember him. he flies his companions home, where Amy flashes her eyes at Rory and he's dancing around thrilled that she wants him. We hear her voice saying, "I can see you" and Rory guilty follows her inside.

You know what would have been cool, is if The Doc had taken Oswin with him in her Dalek form and had a Dalek companion for a while. That would be so amazing, especially given that it's her Dalek he could have taken. Unfortunately, he has to meet her as his new companion after Amy and Rory leave, so she has to die here. But if she's dead, then how can she be his companion? Well, did I mention that he's a Time Lord? We won't see her again until the Christmas special. Until then, just remember that it is only we who have seen her. The Doc never did. All he saw was a Dalek. Finally, we know something The Doc doesn't.

7.2 Dinosaurs On A Spaceship by Chris Chibnall (index)

So we start this one in Egypt in 1334BC with Queen Neferneferuaten Nefertiti, except that Riann Steele, the actress who plays her looks African, not Egyptian per se, and rather younger than Nefertiti would have been in 1334! Oh well. Whoever she is, she's definitely putting the moves on The Doc; then we're in 2367AD looking at radar of a ship the size of Canada heading towards Earth.

The Doc decides he needs to recruit help - from 1902. Why, is a complete mystery. The guy he recruits looks like a cross between Indiana Jones and Keifer Sutherland. Next he drops in on Amy & Rory - or more accurately, materializes around them (as Rory points out later) and immediately takes off, not noticing that Rory's dad is with them. Interestingly enough, Rory's dad is also Ron Weasley's dad! All of them wander out of the TARDIS onto the spaceship, leaving Rory behind to explain to his dad what the heck is going on. Then they meet dinosaurs...on a spaceship! I know! Roll the titles!

The great white hunter wants to kill off the dinos. The Doc looks up their location on a video monitor and accidentally transports himself, Rory, and Rory's dad to a beach (which looks suspiciously like south Wales...!) by a cliff face. Actually it looks suspiciously like the cliff face which was featured in The Time of Angels but it isn't - it's Dunraven Bay which you can visit on Google maps. It has the most amazing geology. The Doc warns them that they need to get away from the Pterodactyls, but they look more like Pteranodons to me. They find shelter in a cave only to be visited by a pair of feisty argumentative robots which are evidently recycled aliens from The Fifth Element. The beach is merely the engine room and the robots are taking them to meet their leader.

Meanwhile The great white hunter, Amy and Neffy are wandering on their own, when Amy digs up some information from a terminal which reveals that this ship is a Silurian vessel. Back on the ship proper Rory's dad tosses a golf ball for a triceratops to chase. Yeah, right. Amy discovers that all of the Silurians are gone, and there's another spacecraft on board this spacecraft. The Doc and his pair have arrived at this spaceship, only to find that it's under the charge of Filch, from Hogwarts school!

The Doc is expected to treat Filch under threat of his killing Rory's dad. Amy calls Rory and passes on the information she has gleaned. The Doc Rory and his dad escape on the back of the triceratops which is completely absurd, of course. Chris Chibnall can do better. He wrote The Hungry Earth - Cold Blood duo, and will write the excellent and upcoming Power of Three ep which I shall review shortly.

When Filch realizes that his ship has been targeted by Indian central command to prevent it crashing on Earth, he offers to buy Neffy from The Doc in exchange for their lives. The Doc refuses, but Neffy volunteers. Next we get raptors showing up which are direct rip-offs from Jurassic Park - including being the wrong size. Riddell the great white hunter is tasked with fending them off, but he complains.

Riddell: Doctor, this is a two man job.
[Amy gets a gun and heads out]
Riddell: What are you doing?
Amy: I'm easily worth two men! You can help too, if you like.

The Doc switches the ships IDs so that the incoming missiles destroy Solomon's ship instead of the Silurian ship. The Doc grants Rory's dad's request to sit on the step of the TARDIS eating a sandwich and drinking tea and gazing down on Earth. The Doc then takes him on a whirlwind tour of the globe, from which he sends all kinds of postcards back to Amy and Rory.

7.3 The Time Of The Doctor by Steven Moffat (index)

This was the 800th episode of Doctor Who, and I have to say I'm rather disappointed in Steven Moffat and the Doctor Who writers at this point. I wait all year for the 50th anniversary special and I was thrilled with that (I saw it in the movie theater in 3D and it was excellent); then I discover that instead of getting the second half of the season, we're forced to wait for the Xmas edition, and when that comes, it's rather less than I'd hoped for. It wasn't quite a disaster, but it wasn't anywhere near enough to make up for five or six missing episodes. And as it that wasn't bad enough, I discover that we're to get no more Doctor Who episodes until after the summer? Seriously? Does Moffat deliberately intend upon pissing-off his fans and followers, and driving them away from the show? At least we will get all thirteen plus a Christmas special towards the end of next year.

So in Matt Smith's last appearance, we start with The Doctor in possession of the head of a Cyberman, ending up surrounded by Daleks, and then surrounded by Cybermen and then notified that he's to appear at Clara's Christmas dinner as her boyfriend, an event to which he arrives butt-naked. Clara declares that he's Swedish, but in fact, he was planning on going to church....

They end up at a planet which is emitting a signal which even the Doctor can't decipher. It turns out, so the Mother Superior of the Church of the Eternal Mainframe informs the Doctor, that he's arrived at "Trenzalore, the planet where he died and was buried. Or will die and be buried. Or is dying and being buried.... It also turns out that the crack in Amy's wall - the one he was supposed to have closed, is still there, a scar on the fabric of the universe. And the message drifting through it comes from the Time Lords, and reads, "Doctor who?". This is why all the alien races are there. they want to destroy the Time Lords if they come back into this universe. No explanation as to why, since the Time War was only between the Daleks and the Time Lords. No on else. Why would all the other races care?

So the Doctor is sent down to the planet by the Mother Superior (who has blocked all movement to and from the planet) to discover what's going on: how this message is being sent, what it means, and why it has attracted so many space-faring races, including Daleks, Cybermen, and Weeping Angels. It's actually becoming a little tedious to discover that no matter how many times the Weeping Angels, the Daleks, the Cybermen, etc., are wiped out, they still return and in huge numbers in the case of the Daleks, but what's even less appreciated is why Moffat bothered to resurrect the Daleks in a new form, making them supposedly less defeatable, less predictable and more threatening, and then completely abandon his new format Daleks in favor of the old format Daleks for every single episode thereafter wherein they're still defeatable, predictable and less threatening! Maybe the planet will offer some truth - there is a truth filter seeping out of the crack in time, and no one on the planet can lie - except for the Doctor, evidently, as we shall see.

Down on the planet's snowy surface, The Doctor and Clara discover that they're in the town of Christmas. Clara asks "How can a town be called Christmas?" to which The Doctor replies, "I don't know. How can an Island be called Easter?" which was the first real laugh in this ep for me. They discover what's going on and the Doctor wants to answer the question "Doctor Who?" and let the Time Lords in, but the Mother Superior refuses him for fear of a universal war. Thus begins the Doctor's residency on Trenzalore as their guardian. If people try to kill him, he will unleash the Time Lords. If he unleashes the Time Lords, the Doctor will be killed by the aliens. Thus detente begins. He sends Clara home and grows old, but 300 years later, Clara returns in an improbably short skirt and equally improbably high heels to find an aging Doctor. Seriously why do women of modest stature seek to lend themselves unnatural height by artificially elevating their heels? Do they have no respect for their spine at all? Shorter women are actually better proportioned, so please, the hell with heels and enjoy your perfection!

Meanwhile the Cybermen try to breech the planet's defenses by sending a wooden Cyberman! Cool. I wanted to see a wooden Dalek, but none were to be found. After defeating the Cyberman by breaking the rules of the show (no one can lie) The Doctor takes Clara up to the top of the village tower to watch the sun rise. It apparently only rises for a very short time. No explanation as to why (even though they're in Christmas, the month is actually July). The Doctor relates the story of his regenerations to Clara, and we get a confirmation that the War Doctor was actually a true regeneration and so counts against his life expectancy, but he bases his life on thirteen regenerations (counting the Hartnell to Troughton regeneration as number one). This would only give 12, but he explains that Tennant's regeneration in the middle of his, er, tenancy, was a true regeneration, even though he maintained his appearance, ergo he's had thirteen.

So when the Daleks call him out, having won the inter-racial battle which has been going on, he expects to die; until, that is, Clara speaks through the crack in time to the Time Lords and begs them to help him by giving him another one. They give him a whole new cycle, and he uses his regeneration energy to destroy the Daleks. This begs a big question, because when River Song used that much regeneration energy to save The Doctor's life (in Let's Kill Hitler), she lost all her remaining regenerations. Did the Doctor? I'm guessing not, but the inconsistency count building up here is becoming quite startling! There's a bit more to this ep that I won't relate, and then comes the expected regeneration which happens in an unexpected way.

I didn't like this regeneration. The Doctor remained in his current form and then suddenly flipped without any fiery morphing at all. Unfortunately the new Doctor doesn't know how to fly the TARDIS! Equally unfortunately, we have to wait seven months before we can find out what plans Moffat has for the series. They had better be as good as he's intimating they will be for this long of a wait. I think I'd rather be restricted to one Doctor Who per month and see them all year long than have to wait months for a mere handful of them.

Bu think about this: the fact is that 800 episodes in 50 years works out to 16 episodes per year. Every. Single. Year. On average. And this includes many years when no episodes were transmitted. So why are we being so severely robbed and stiffed of episodes with such precision regularity these days? I guarantee you it's not for want of writers who can write good eps.

And what of that dramatic ep where Clara stepped into the time vortex to go back through The Doctor's history and change his past to rectify the damage done by the Great Intelligence? I was fully looking forward to some really cool episodes in the second half of this year featuring the older Doctors and Clara doing interesting things amongst them, but that's all gone. So disappointed, and paradoxically looking forward to new episodes, hoping they will be as exciting as the special episodes to which I looked forward and of which I was robbed!

7.3 A Town Called Mercy by Toby Whithouse (index)

You know, Chris Chibnall and Toby Whithouse might be talented elsewhere and/or elsewhen, but they really have put in some poor eps for The Doc this season. At least this is the last of them before we start cruising into the new era of Oswin Oswald, so let's get it over with! One of the best things about this ep is Murray Gold's score. It's kickin'! And Chris Chibnall rather resurrects himself with the next ep after this.

The basic premise is that there's an alien bounty hunter stuck outside a western town (which is actually in Spain) waiting to get in and kill the alien doctor which is a cheap red herring because it's not The Doc they want to kill. Nor does the bounty hunter want to incur any collateral damage. The bounty hunter can't get in and people can't get out because of a barrier around the city, but they can't get any supplies in either. The Doc resolves to go talk with the bounty hunter and/or fix the alien doctor's ship.

The Doc: Can I borrow your horse, please? It's official Marshall business.
The Preacher: He's called Joshua. It's from the Bible; it means 'the Deliverer'.
The Doc: No he isn't!
The Preacher: What?
The Doc: I speak horse. He's called Susan, and he wants you to respect his life choices.

The Doc meets the bounty hunter and learns the truth about what the alien doctor, Kahler-Jex did to win the war on his home planet. The bounty hunter is a weapon which went wrong. The Doc loses it and tosses Kahler-Jex outside the circle, but Amy talks him out of it. As the bounty hunter shows up to terminate Jex, the sheriff jumps in the way and dies in his place. The bounty hunter tells The Doc, now acting sheriff, to turn over Jex by high noon or the whole town is going to die. Eventually, Jex decides to kill himself in his spaceship and the bounty hunter becomes the new sheriff, The end.

7.4 The Power of Three by Chris Chibnall (index)

Amy narrates the pre-title sequence bemoaning how they're always giving up their life to go with The Doc, but he never comes to stay with them. Until strange black cubes begin appearing by the millions, all over the world in July. The Doc shows up to investigate the cubes and moves in with them. Shortly afterwards, the house is overrun by black-clad police with guns, and a woman arrives.

Rory: There are soldiers all over my house, and I'm in my pants.
Amy: My whole life I've dreamed of saying that, and I miss it by being someone else.
Kate Stewart: All these muscles and they still don't know how to knock! Sorry about the raucous entrance; spike in Artron energy reading at this address. In the light of the last twenty-four hours we had to check it out and uh, the dogs do love a run out. Hello! Kate Stewart, head of scientific research at UNIT, and with dress sense like that you must be The Doctor.
[Reads The Doc's chest with a scanner to verify two hearts]
Kate: I hoped it'd be you.
The Doc: Tell me, since when did science run the military, Kate?
Kate: Since me. UNIT's been adapting. Well I dragged them along, kicking and screaming. Which, which made it sound like more fun than if actually was.

Kate tells The Doc the cubes are a sensation and wants to get them all and lock them all away. The Doc advises withing them, and then gets bored out of his gourd doing nothing so he ships out in the TARDIS. It's October and Chibnall slips in a line or two in the Doctor Who/Torchwood campaign to make gay relationships as normal as they ought to have been all along, without anyone having to make a huge effort to make them so. So we're in October and Amy is in a pub with a girlfriend and she says, "I'm so pleased for you two! It's about time you made an honest woman of her!"

Rory's dad is faithfully vlogging the cube every night and day. Next it's December, and there has been nothing new on the cube front for half a year. Everyone takes them for granted. And therein lies a story. In the hospital where Rory works, the cubes begin to glow faintly blue. Two guys, twins, with weird mouths steal a patient. Next it's March, and then June, and The Doc steals Amy and Rory for a wedding anniversary night in a luxury hotel...which happens to have been invaded by Zygons. Next the three of them are hiding under a bed while Henry 8th stalks around trying to find Amy who has accidentally agreed to marry him. Back safely at their wedding anniversary, Rory's dad, who has noticed that Amy and Rory have been gone (for 7 weeks, although it's only been a few minutes at the party, but they changed clothes!) corners The Doc and starts asking pointed questions about what happened to his other companions.

The Doc tells him that some left him, some got left behind, and some - not many, but some died. He's lying again - either that or he's had adventures with companions we never learned about, because he had only one companion die, which was Adric, who died under the protection of the fifth doctor in ep 19.6 of the old series, titled Earthshock.

On day 361, watching the Brit equivalent of The Apprentice called, The Apprentice, The Doc, Amy, and Rory are sitting on the couch eating fish fingers and custard. Rory's dad is sitting in another room falling asleep watching his cube when it moves. A cube in the kitchen opens and closes before Rory can notice. Amy is in the bathroom and gets spiked by a cube there. The cube in the lounge, where The Doc is, opens a barrel and starts shooting at him. Rory gets called into the hospital because cubes are attacking people. His dad goes with him. The Doc gets called to the Tower of London where they meet Kate again.

Kate: Every cube across the whole world activated at the same moment.
The Doc: Now we're in business. You sent me a message to my psychic paper. You know what, I'm almost impressed.
Amy: Secret base beneath the Tower. I hope we're not here because we know too much!
Kate: Yes, I've got officers trained in beheading...also, ravens of death.
Amy: I like her.

The Doc has figured out who Kate is: she's the daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. She tells him that every cube is behaving differently. After 47 minutes, however, the cubes all shut down. The Doc and Amy have a heart to heart about whether she and Rory want to keep traveling with him. They're undecided. The Doc is decided - that the cubes shut down because they got what they wanted - whatever that was. Suddenly all the power goes out and the cubes start counting down from 7.

Rory's dad gets kidnapped by the creepy twins who disappear - literally - into a disused elevator. When Rory follows, he finds himself aboard a spaceship in orbit miles and miles above Earth. All the cubes open and people close by them suddenly have heart failure. The Doc has it too, but only in one heart. He discovers a young child who seems to be built of the same material as the cubes. Amy shocks The Doc's failing heart back into service and they find their way onto the spaceship with Rory.

It turns out that the Spaceship belongs to the Shakri, who are determined to wipe out the infestation of Earth by humans. The Doc reverses the cubes' power and shocks everyone's heart back into working again. The Doc says he's off again, and he plans leaving the Ponds behind, but Rory's dad talks them into going with him. Big mistake. I'll leave the last words to Amy: "So, that was the year of the slow invasion, when the Earth got cubed and The Doctor came to stay. It was also when we realized something the Shakri never understood: what cubed actually means: The Power of Three."

7.5 The Angels Take Manhattan by Steven Moffat (index)

This one opens with the story narrated in the style of a detective story, about statues which can move, in 1938 New York City. I have a feeling that this is going to be the last weeping angels story for a while, but it's a doozy. One of the best scripts, especially the interaction between River and The Doc. And props to Murray Gold again for his score.

The detective, Garner, is hired by a man named Grayle to go to the Winter Quay hotel "where the statues live". No word on what he's supposed to do when he gets there, but rest assured he's taken care of. He rides the elevator up to visit room 702 - the name on the door is S. Garner. There is an old man in there - it's Garner himself! Garner is taken by the angels and sent back to live in the hotel and grow old.

The Doc, Rory, and Amy are sitting in central park. Rory is laying back relaxing, Amy is reading the newspaper and wearing eyeglasses which The Doc fails to figure out for a while, and The Doc is reading a cheesy detective novel written by Melody Malone. I wonder who she is?! Rory goes off to get coffee and Amy tells The Doc to read to her from the novel. He tears out the last page because, he declares, he hates endings. That wasn't a good idea, as we shall learn shortly. The Doc's narration then becomes the story, and it's night, and it's 1938, and River Song is there with Rory, who has never met the angels, and the two of them are then picked up by mobsters.

The Doc and Amy try to follow, but are bounced back to 2012. As they wait for the extractor fans to remove smoke from the TARDIS, Amy starts reading ahead in the novel, and tells The Doc he has to break something. The Doc freaks out and tells her not to read any more because once she's read it the timeline is fixed. Now he will have to break something. Amy is arguing that it's better to know what's coming but the The Doc silences her by asking her what if she reads that Rory dies? As they re-enter the TARDIS to leave, we see a tombstone in the graveyard where they parked, and on it is engraved "In Loving Memory Rory Arthur Williams". Ulp!

River and Rory are taken to meet Grayle. River is fascinated by vase which she identifies as Qin Dynasty, but they're much more reminiscent of the much later Qing Dynasty. Grayle tells his henchmen to give Rory to the Babies and he's unceremoniously flung into the basement. The guy tells him that the lights are out and he'll last longer with the matches which are tossed to him. When River discovers that Grayle has a weeping angel chained into his room, she texts The Doc, but Grayle engineers things such that the angel grabs River's arm; then he demands that she tell him everything she knows about the angels - and quickly.

Rory is desperately lighting matches to keep the babies - cherub statues - at bay. Grayle tells River he's a collector, and how could he resist these statues. Suddenly the TARDIS arrives very roughly, breaks one of the "Qin dynasty vases", and knocks Grayle out. Is that the thing The Doc had to break? No!

The Doc: Sorry I'm late, honey. Traffic was hell.
[River laughs. The Doc checks if Grayle is alive]
The Doc: Shock; he'll be fine.
River: Not if I can get loose!
The Doc: So where are we now, Doctor Song? How's prison?
River: Oh I was pardoned ages ago; and it's Professor Song to you.
The Doc: Pardoned?
River: Hm!. Turns out the person I killed never existed in the first place. Apparently there's no record of him. It's almost as if someone's gone around deleting himself from every database in the universe.
The Doc: Hm! You said I got too big.
River: And now no one's ever heard of you. Didn't you used to be somebody?
The Doc: Weren't you the woman who killed The Doctor?
River: Doctor Who?

Now here's the deal: if these statues quite literally turn to stone when they're being observed (as The Doc himself declared in his tenth incarnation), and this one has River trapped, why can they not simply break the stone and free her? In fact, why can they not defeat the angels by breaking them? Or is Moffat holding that in reserve for a future scary episode?

Amy is made to feel guilty that The Doc has to break River's wrist to free her, but we were never told that! Why can't it be the angel's wrist? Amy suggests, if they can't actually read the novel ahead of time, they can read the chapter titles and maybe get a few hints from those, which leads to them discovering that Rory is in the basement. Unfortunately the last two chapter titles, as The Doc discovers, are: "Death at Winter Quay" and "Amelia's Last Farewell"

The Doc gets very angry and orders River to get her wrist out without breaking it, thinking this will "break the spell" and save Amy. Amy arrives in the basement and finds Rory gone. Poor Rory was zapped back again! But he wasn't! River appears, freed from the angel, and tells them that Rory is zapped in space but not in time. He's still in the city still in their time zone, but he's outside Winter Quay hotel! But why on Earth does he feel the need to enter the hotel? No explanation.

River: He isn't back in time. I'm reading a displacement but there are no temporal markers. He's been moved in space, but not in time, and it's not that far from here by the look of it.
The Doc: You got out.
Amy: So, where is he?
The Doc: Well come on, come on, come on! Where is he?
River: If it was that easy I'd get you to do it.
The Doc: How did you get your wrist out without breaking it?
River: You asked, I did. Problem?
The Doc: You just changed the future!
River: It's called marriage, honey. Now hush! I'm working.

Is she priceless or what? But when The Doc grabs River's wrist to go get the car and find Rory, she cries out in pain. She broke her wrist to escape! But this should work, since it was supposed to be The Doc who broke something, not River, so even though she had to break her wrist, it still should change time.

Rory not only inexplicably goes into the hotel, he inexplicably takes the same elevator upstairs, and he inexplicably enters the room. The Doc, River, and Amy chase off in the car leaving the door open to Grayle's house, through which the angels can now get. They arrive at the same place Rory materialized and stop the car. I thought they were going to where Rory went - the Winter Quay hotel which is in the opposite direction from which they arrived!

The 'Death at Winter Quay' is Rory - but as an old man. He sees himself die, as do Amy, River, and The Doc who have inexplicably found their way to Rory's room. Rory decides to run and Amy goes with him but instead of goign down, they go up to the roof where they encounter the biggest angel ever - the Statue of Liberty which is not appropriate since it's made of copper, not stone! Rory decides the only way out is to jump off the roof. Amy says he'll die, and he replies, "Yeah, twice. In the same building on the same night. Who else could do that."

Amy says, "You think you'll just come back to life? and he responds, "When don't I?"! Classic! Amy says she will jump with him or he doesn't go. They both jump together. The paradox kicks in and they all find themselves back at the cemetery. As they enter the TARDIS, Rory sees the gravestone with his name on it. He calls Amy to look at it and he disappears. An angel was right behind him. The gravestone is now engraved "In Loving Memory Rory Arthur Williams Aged 82" but there's no date on it. The Doc and River tell Amy they can't go back and get him because it would tear New York city apart with another paradox.

Amy asks if she would go back to the same spot if she lets the angel take her. The Doc panics and tells her not even to think of it, but River encourages her. The gravestone is now engraved "In Loving Memory Rory Arthur Williams Aged 82 And His Loving Wife Amelia Williams Aged 87". The Doc is grief stricken. He sits moping on the steps inside the TARDIS, while River competently flies it off. She tells The Doc never to travel alone. He asks her to travel with him and she says whenever and wherever, but not all the time. One psychopath per TARDIS is the rule! The Doc runs to Central Park to retrieve the last page of the novel that he had previously torn out. It reads:

Afterword by Amelia Williams. Hello, old friend! And here we are; you and me on the last page. By the time you read these words, Rory and I will be long gone, so know that we lived well and were very happy, and above all else: know that we will love you always. Sometimes I do worry about you though; I think, once we're gone you won't be coming back here for awhile, and you might be alone, which you should never be. Don't be alone, Doctor, and do one more thing for me: there's a little girl waiting in a garden. She's going to wait a long while, so she's going to need a lot of hope. Go to her. Tell her a story. Tell her that if she's patient, the days are coming that she'll never forget. Tell her she'll go to sea and fight pirates. She'll fall in love with a man who'll wait two thousand years to keep her safe. Tell her she'll give hope to the greatest painter who ever lived and save a whale in outer space. Tell her, this is the story of Amelia Pond, and this is how it ends.

I'm going to miss Rory and Amy. They redefined what The Doc's companions should be, but I have a feeling that Oswin Oswald will keep up that tradition, and we're about to embark upon on Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary. How wonderful is this year going to be?!

7.6 The Snowmen by Steven Moffat (index)

There was a Children in Need Christmas special offering a very brief "minisode" that gives a few teasers about this ep. It's in two parts. You might want to check that out if you haven't seen it.

So, There's snow falling on Earth - from space - and each flake has some nasty little teeth! Here's the question: How does it survive the heat of re-entry? A little boy is building a snowman by himself because he doesn't want anyone else to play with him - they're too silly. The snowman agrees with him - in a voice that sounds remarkably like Sir Ian McKellen! As an older man, the boy looks remarkably like Richard E. Grant, who actually played Doctor Who in an hilarious comedy special written by Steven Moffat for Britain's Red Nose Day.

A serving girl from the Rose & Crown, who looks remarkably like Jenna-Louise Coleman, who, as Oswin Oswald is The Doc's new companion, asks a passer-by if he built this snowman which wasn't there a minute ago. The passer-by, who looks remarkably like Matt Smith, who actually plays Doctor Who, stops and looks. Is he interested in the mystery? The Doc still has Amy's eyeglasses and he wears them! Clara doesn't know The Doc because she's only just met him from her perspective. The Doc doesn't know Clara because he's never seen her face (and apparently doesn't have much of a memory for voices. The Doc gets in a carriage and rides away and Vastra talks to him, asking him about making an impression. He says he didn't; the girl doesn't even know the name "Doctor" and at that point Clara drops her head down through the roof of the carriage and asks, "Doctor Who?"

Dr Simeon visits captain Latimer and tells him whatever is growing in his pond belongs to him. Apparently whatever it is now, it used to be a governess. As he walks the alleys on his way home, Simeon is accosted by Madame Vastra and her associate, Jenny Flint, one in front of him, the other behind.

Jenny: Well, Dr Simeon, you're out very late tonight.
Vastra: Almost makes you wonder what you've been up to, but then, I have often wondered about the activities of Dr Simeon and his exceptionally secretive institute.
Simeon: Well, I am honored this evening. The veiled detective and her fatuous accomplice.
Jenny: At your service.
Simeon: You realize Dr Doyle is almost certainly basing his fantastical tales on your own exploits? With a few choice alterations, of course. I doubt the readers of The Strand magazine would accept that the great detective is in reality, a woman, and her suspiciously intimate companion-
Vastra: I resent your implication of impropriety! We are married!

Meanwhile, The Doc and Commander Strax, the Sontaran, are talking about the odd snow. Strax is all in favor of grenades, as well as a full frontal assault with automated laser monkeys, scalpel mines and acid! As they argue back and forth we see the carriage shaking in the background and hear Clara's voice complaining loudly. Strax can't handle her, being a girl as she is, since he's a male clone from a long line of male clones. The Doc tells her he's going to erase the last hour of her memory and asks Strax to get the worm. Strax returns without the worm and without his last hour of memory. Clara is highly amused by this. So entertained is she that she doesn't even try to run away when she gets out of the carriage.

Suddenly snowmen start to erupt around them because, evidently, Clara is thinking about them and they reflect human thought and emotion. There are suddenly many of them until The Doc tells Clara to picture them melting and they suddenly melt. The Doc decides not to erase Clara's memory but orders Strax to take her home. As he leaves, the departing carriage reveals Clara standing there. She follows The Doc to a small park in a square which looks remarkably like the one by Sirius Black's house! In the middle of the park he jumps up and grabs a ladder which extends down for him to climb. Behind a tree nearby, Clara watches him.

She tries to jump up and pull down the ladder but she's not quite tall enough. Eventually she snags it and climbs after The Doc. Atop the ladder is a spiral staircase which goes up fifty feet or more into a cloud. As she arrives at the top, she sees the TARDIS. She steps excitedly but wearily across the cloud, placing her feet carefully, and knocks on the door. Then she loses her nerve and walks slowly around the TARDIS as The Doc tries to see who knocked. He fails. She hurries down the stairs, but drops her shawl, which The Doc finds.

Next morning, Clara wakes up and leaves the pub, taking a carriage. Inside, with the window blinds drawn down, she changes from serving wench to Miss Montague, the governess in time to get out at Captain Latimer's house. Latimer is concerned about his young daughter Francesca who is having nightmares. She greets the kids in the garden and does her secret voice for them: the voice she adopts as Clara, but now she's Miss Montague, she speaks in proper Queen's English. Jessica's nightmares are about the previous governess who drowned in the pond, and who Jessica believes is going to come back for Christmas. Her brother says she needs a Doctor, and Clara runs back to the park to find The Doc, but she encounters Jenny, who takes her to Vastra's house.

Clara is rather shocked to be led into a room where a "lizard lady" is sitting, especially one who licks her lips as though she's contemplating indulging herself in a fine meal. Jenny bids her sit. Vastra is drinking something that looks like red wine.

Vastra: There are two refreshments in your world the color of red wine. This is not red wine.
Jenny: Madame Vastra will ask you questions. You will confine yourself to single word responses; one word only, do you understand?
Clara: Why?
Vastra: Truth is singular; lies are words, words, words. You met The Doctor, didn't you?
Clara: Yes.
Vastra: And now you've come looking for him again. Why?
Jenny: Take your time. One word, only.
Clara: Curiosity.
Vastra: About?
Clara: Snow.
Vastra: And about him?
Clara: Yes.
Vastra: What do you want from him?
Clara: Help.
Vastra: Why?
Clara: Danger.
Vastra: Why would he help you?
Clara: Kindness.
Vastra: The Doctor is not kind.
Clara: No?
Vastra: No. The Doctor doesn't help people; not anyone, not ever. He stands above this world and doesn't interfere in the affairs of its inhabitants. He is not your salvation, nor your protector. Do you understand what I am saying to you?
Clara: Words.
Vastra: He was different once, a long time ago. Kind, yes; a hero, even, a saver of worlds, but he suffered losses which hurt him; now he prefers isolation to the possibility of pain's return. Kindly choose a word to indicate your understanding of this.
Clara: Man!
Vastra: We are The Doctor's friends. We assist him in his isolation, but that does not mean we approve of it. So! a test for you: give me a message for The Doctor. Tell him all about the snow and what fresh danger you believe it presents, and above all, explain why he should help you.
[Clara takes a big breath, but Vastra places a finger on Clara's lips)
Vastra: But do it in one word. You're thinking it is impossible that such a word exists, or that you could even find it. Let's see if the gods are with you.
Clara: Pond.

I can't tell you what a delight it is to hear Neve McIntosh's Scots accent beneath her Silurian persona! But moving right along, Clara's one word is "Pond" which of course grabs The Doc's attention as soon as Vastra conveys it to him. The Doc dresses as Sherlock Holmes and enters Simeon's inner sanctum where he has a giant snow globe. The Doc's first line is "I see from your collar stud you have an apple tree and a wife with a limp. Am I right?" Simeon: "No!"

The Doc whacks the globe with his cane and The Intelligence speaks up: "We are The Intelligence...You are not of this world." to which The Doc responds, "It takes one to snow one!" Groan! The Doc deduces that the pond at Darkover House (Latimer's residence) is connected with this and with Clara's one-word answer. He visits there next (where is that immensely bright, shadow-casting light coming from in Victorian times? It couldn't be a camera light could it?!). Strax shows up wondering if he'll be needing any grenades! Strax leaves and The Doc and Clara have a silent conversation through the window of the house. It's not quite up to that between the tenth doctor and Donna Noble, but it's pretty good.

As Clara is putting the kids to bed, she tells them a story about a doctor who lives in a cloud who drives bad dreams away and he's about to arrive any minute. When the bedroom door opens, the visitor is, unfortunately, the ice woman from the pond and she's a teensy but miffed. Clara scoots the kids out of the room to the next one, and as the woman breaks in and approaches them, The Doc does a Punch & Judy show and zaps her with the sonic, held in Punch's hands!

Outside, Simeon sets up a snow blower - which quite literally blows snow from nowhere into the yard of Latimer's house. The chilling temperatures encourage the regrowth of the evil snow lady. They head down the stairs and run into Captain Latimer. The Doc explains his presence as the governess's gentleman friend, telling him that they have just been kissing, but before he can become apoplectic over that, the maid opens the door excitedly to show him the snowmen growing out of the ground, and finds Vastra and Jenny there. Vastra says, "Good evening! I'm a lizard woman from the dawn of time, and this is my wife." The maid loses it and runs right into Strax who says, "This dwelling is under attack! Remain calm human scum!

After all this when The Doc asks Captain Latimer if he has any questions, his only one is directed at Clara: "You have a gentleman friend?" Then the ice lady appears at the top of the stairs. As Captain Latimer becomes yet more confused, asking who is 'Clara', The Doc explains, "Your current governess is in reality a former barmaid called Clara. Meanwhile, your previous governess is now a living ice sculpture who's impersonating Mister Punch." Jenny throws a force-field grenade at the ice lady who becomes trapped by a force field at the top of the stairs, chanting "That's the way to do it," after the manner of Mister Punch.

The Doc: Stay here.
[Clara immediately exits right after The Doc]
The Doc: Oy! I told you to stay in there!
Clara: Oh. I didn't listen!
The Doc: You do that a lot.

Clara: That's why you like me.
The Doc: Who said I like you?
[Clara kisses him passionately]
Clara: I think you just did.
The Doc: You kissed me!
Clara: You blushed!
The Doc: And with this...shut up!

They rush past the ice lady up to the roof, and she chases them. The Doc exist the window, but Clara gets stuck with her bustle. She should have taken a cue from Doc Holliday's partner in Tombstone (reviewed elsewhere on this blog)!

Clara: Ah!
The Doc: What're you doing?
Clara: My bustle is stuck!
The Doc: Your bustle?
[The Doc tugs on her and they fall backwards, face to face, Clara on top]
The Doc: You're going to have to take those clothes off...I didn't mean-
Clara: I know.
The Doc: I just-
Clara: I understand, I do.
The Doc: Good.
Clara: Now, what's the plan?
The Doc: Who said I've got a plan?
Clara: Course you got a plan, you took that!
[Clara holds up an umbrella he took from downstairs]
The Doc: Maybe I'm an idiot.
Clara: You're not! You're clever; really clever!
The Doc: And you...if I've got a plan, was is it? You tell me.
Clara: Is this a test?
The Doc: Yeah!
Clara: What will it do to us?
The Doc: Kill us.
[The ice lady disintegrates into a swarm of particles which float through the window and start to reassemble on the other side.]
The Doc: So, come on then: plan, do I have one?
Clara: Oh, I know what your plan is! I knew straight away!
The Doc: No you didn't.
Clara: Course I did.
The Doc: Show me.
Clara: Why should I?
The Doc: Because we'll be dead in under thirty seconds. Do I have a plan?
Clara: If we'd been escaping, we'd be climbing down the building. If we'd been hiding, we'd be on the other side of the roof, but no; we're standing...right here.
The Doc: So?
Clara: So, after you.
[Clara reaches up with the umbrella and pulls the ladder down from the TARDIS which is now evidently parked right above the roof of Darkover House]
The Doc: After you!
Clara: After you! I'm wearing a dress! Eyes front, soldier!
[The Doc climbs the ladder]
The Doc: My eyes are always front.
Clara: Mine aren't!
The Doc: Stop it!
Clara: No!
[Then she addresses the ice lady whose been chanting "That's the way to do it!" throughout this exchange. Clara coughs to clear her throat]
Clara: I understand you're the previous governess. I regret to inform you the position is taken.
[She taps the ladder and is hauled up]
Clara: Good night!

As they climb, The Doc explains to Clara that the staircase is taller on the inside! They step out onto the super-dense water-vapor clouds. They enter the TARDIS and The Doc waits for her to say it's bigger on the inside, but after a quick trip around the TARDIS's exterior, she says it's smaller on the outside! The TARDIS has had a complete makeover and looks much more clean, sharp, and modern than it did before. Clara asks if it has a kitchen. The Doc remarks that that's another first, and she says she doesn't know why she asked that, but she likes making soufflés. Now The Doc pays attention.

Clara is very, very sharp.

The Doc: Soufflés
Clara: Why are you showing me all this?
The Doc: You followed me, remember? I didn't invite you!
Clara: You're nearly a foot taller than I am.
[The Doc turns to face her and Clara holds up the umbrella]
Clara: You could've reached the ladder without this. You took it - for me.
[She tosses it to him]
Clara: Why?

The Doc hands her a key to the TARDIS, but the ice lady suddenly appears behind her and drags her off the cloud where she falls to the ground. The Doc materializes the TARDIS around her and Strax uses his Sontaran skills to revive her even though Vastra has determined she was dead. Vastra tries to talk sense into The Doc, telling him that the equipment Strax used can revive her for a while, but can't bring her back permanently.

The Doc visits Clara and talks with her. She agrees to go with him if he will save the world. He tells Simeon he will meet with him back at his lab. The Doc hands him a box which contains not a piece of the ice lady but the memory worm! Simeon's memory is erased, the snow turns to rain, and all is well. except...

Clara has only moments left, everyone is crying and their salty years changed the snow to salt water rain. her last words are, "Run! Run you clever boy, and remember!" This is exactly what Oswin said to him in Asylum of the Daleks! Looking at her gravestone, The Doc sees Clara's full name: Clara Oswin Oswald. Now The Doc remembers her voice and her love for soufflés. The Doc takes off and as we watch the grave marker, it ages dramatically until we see it in the present day.

Oswin's friend: Where are you going?
Oswin Oswald III: Shortcut!
Oswin's friend: Through there? I hate this place, don't you think it's creepy?
Oswin Oswald III: Nah! I don't believe in ghosts.

The Doc runs into the TARDIS and sets off after her wherever and whenever she may be. It's been a long road to haul but we've made it to the present! We're all caught up and I cannot hardly wait until the next ep this weekend!!!!!!

7.7 The Bells of Saint John by Steven Moffat (index)

There's a cute prequel to this which rather telegraphs the "surprise" twist at the end, and which you can see here. Unfortunately, the child's accent rather betrays that twist.

I have to confess somewhat of a disappointment with this ep because it was interesting but fell far short of the excitement of The Snowmen. However, given how long it's been since we've had new Doctor Who to play with, it'll do! This ep appears to start an arc, and it's obsessed with wi-fi, like wi-fi itself is an entity rather than merely a means to hook up to other computers remotely, including, of course, the Internet.

After the titles roll - the new titles! - we find The Doc in a monastery for some peace and quiet. Why he couldn;t get that in the TARDIS, I don't know! There was probably a thing! Respect the thing! I was a bit disappointed in the titles, too. I thought that perhaps, since this was the fiftieth anniversary year, they would start each ep with the title music and graphics used in various eras of the show. Since there have been 11 doctors, we could show 11 episodes with a typical title style for each of them. The actual anniversary is 23 November this year, so we have to face the possibility that we may not actually see any fiftieth anniversary material until the second half of this season, which won't play until after the summer. I do know that David Tennant and Billie Piper, playing the tenth doctor and Rose Tyler respectively, will be in an episode to be transmitted in 3D on 23rd November 2013.

A monk comes and tells The Doc that the Bells of Saint John are ringing, which is amusing because those bells are the telephone in the TARDIS door, and the blue police box has a circular sign on the right-hand door which is the symbol of the St. John Ambulance. John is also the name The Doc uses on occasion, as in 'John Smith'. When The Doc answers, he's connected directly to Clara Oswin Oswald who thinks he's the computer help line. He's confused because the year is 1207, but when he mentions that, Clara remarks that the time is half past three! The password for her Internet connection is an acronym for 'Run You Clever Boy And Remember 1-2-3!'

The Doc shows up, still in his monk's outfit, right outside her door. She's wisely freaked out by this and eventually closes the door only to be confronted by a strange young girl descending the stairs, who looks exactly like the girl on a book cover she saw earlier: a book written by Amelia Williams! It's the same book a kid was reading earlier, when Clara had remarked that the best chapter in the book is eleven - the number of the current doctor's incarnation.

The child's head turns completely around to reveal some sort of small dish antenna which starts sucking her into the Internet using a wi-fi connection. Again we have the sad and inaccurate cliché that if you are uploaded, this same action also automatically erases you in your body. No, it doesn't work like that unless you deliberately want to erase the original, which these people presumably wouldn't want to do, because by doing so, they kill the person they upload and this leaves a suspicious trace of their activities. We know this is a concern because of something which one of he characters says in a previous scene. I don't like that Clara panics at this. Yes, it's a disturbing experience for her, but this blind panic completely betrays her character from both her previous appearances. OTOH, maybe she's not that sterling character yet - maybe she's that character but in an embryonic stage!

There's a wi-fi presence which is trying to download Clara into its system for reasons unexplained. The Doc hacks into it and reverses the download, bringing her back, as it were. He puts her to bed and leaves flowers and Jammy Dodgers by her bedside! Unfortunately, he takes a bite out of one and them puts it back on the plate. And yes, these really are Jammy Dodgers this time!

When Clara awakens and they talk, they notice the lights going out in London (except that Clara draws attention to it before it starts happening!), but coming on in their neighborhood, and an airplane is heading down from the sky straight towards the illuminated target: them! The Doc pulls her into the TARDIS and they materialize in the airplane and save it Actually this is in Britain so I should probably call it an aeroplane!

The Doc is so thrilled at saving it that he asks if they should pull a a barrel roll. That's not what commercial airliners are designed to do, but it has happened, so it's not as far out of the question as it might seem. Here's Tex Johnson in an old Boeing 707 doing it (although the video is poor). Here's an AWACS (note there is no singular AWAC as we see in more than one clueless movie - such a Independence Day), which is a The Boeing E-3 Sentry, based on a commercial Boeing 707 flying upside down evidently (although the close-up view doesn't preclude the possibility that it's the video that's being shown upside down!). The pilot on the plane looks remarkably like Riddell from but it's not.

Here's an amusing quote:

Clara: Are you going to explain what happened to me?
The Doc: There's something in the wi-fi.
Clara: Okay.
The Doc: This whole world is swimming in wi-fi; we're living in a wi-fi soup. Suppose something got inside it? Suppose there was something living in the wi-fi, harvesting human minds; extracting! Imagine that: human souls trapped like flies in the World Wide Web, stuck forever, crying out for help!
Clara: Isn't that basically Twitter?

I love it. I'm neither a fan nor a follower of Twitter. I think people who tweet incessantly are twits, which is why Clara's observation amused me so much. The Doc and Clara head out for breakfast close by St. Paul's and various characters speak to him on behalf of the Great Intelligence, which we met in The Snowmen. It takes over Clara again and completely uploads her this time. Before it does, she's managed to outperform The Doc, and hacked the wi-fi soul-stealers, discovering that they're located quite close by on the 65th floor of a really tall building.

The Doc takes a motorcycle to The Shard, the second tallest building in Europe, to do battle with the soul-stealers. But it's not really The Doc: it's the walking base-station version of The Doc which the Intelligence sent to trick Clara and upload her.

The fake Doc arrives at his destination and uploads Miss Kislet, who is running the operation for the Intelligence. He knows that once she is there, she'll demand to be downloaded - which for some unexplained reason cannot be done without downloading everyone - and once that's done, Clara will be free along with everyone else. Again props to The Doctor Who production team for continually hiring older women (in this case Celia Imrie) to play key roles. It's a tragic fact that TV and the silver screen have little time for the silver haired, especially if they're female, but not Doctor Who, which hires for the needs of the show, regardless of whether someone is young and beautiful or very young, or much older, and it works and works well.

The download is successful, but the Great Intelligence withdraws from the team in the computer room leaving them with no recollection of how they got there. Miss Kislet has evidently been there for a long long time since she returns with the mentality of a very young girl asking for her mummy and daddy.

The Doc tries to lure Clara into his "snogbox" as she derisively calls it. She tells him to "ah-sk" her tomorrow and she might say yes. He takes off with a vow to find out who she is.

7.8 The Rings of Akhaten by Neil Cross (index)

Cool! Reading a book written by Julie Cross and watching a Doctor Who ep written by Neil Cross! I assume they're no relation and there's no conspiracy going on here! The ep is some three hours away from being transmitted in Britain, so it's going to be some time before I can review it, but I'm primed and ready!

At last, I've seen it! So it's autumn, not fall. This is Britain; there, they have autumn! This begs the question as to why The Doc is reading the summer 1981 edition of The Beano special, but it's about time...!

Clara Oswin's dad-to-be is walking along a residential street trying to read a map as the wind blows it back and forth. A leaf from what looks like some sort of maple tree blows down into his face. There's some really bad continuity here with the British Leyland Morris Marina behind him apparently moving back and forth randomly in the street! How the heck he gets into the middle of the road is another mystery, but he's saved by Clara Oswin's mum-to-be. That's how they met, and The Doc was watching it all. And the Marina has an odd number three on the "number plate"!

Have you ever noticed the consistent factor in these near misses in the road? The driver of the the vehicle, no matter how near the miss is, never ever ever ever ever ever stops. Clara's mum says, "Oh my stars!", just like Clara does! So they fall in love, marry, and have a daughter who grows up to be Clara Oswin Oswald. But Ellie, her mum, dies at the age of 45. Next we're in the TARDIS with The Doc asking the fully grown-up Clara what she would like to see. This is how we end up at the bizarre Akhaten system where everyone lives on airless asteroids, but have no trouble breathing, even when flying out in space.

The Doc shows Clara an asteroid with a city on it, and another, nearby, which has a pyramid on it. The odd thing about this is Matt Smith's eyes! His pupils are different sizes. But then he is an alien....

They go to the asteroid city and there is a gazillion different types of alien there, which The Doc claims are mostly from this system, but clearly they cannot all be from the same system - especially not given the poor environment we've seen so far. When Clara asks him if he's been there before, he says he did visit it with his granddaughter, which shocks her. The original Doc, played by William Hartnell traveled with his granddaughter, Susan Foreman, played by Carole Ann Ford.

They meet an alien who talks like a dog and wants to know if Clara wants to rent a moped, but the price isn't monetary; it's something valuable in terms of personal value to the owner (preferably steeped in memory). The moped isn't really a moped: it's a short range space bike, which evidently provides air for its rider, since neither The Doc nor Clara need any when they're flying on space later! The Doc, of course, disappears, and Clara runs into The Queen of Years who is herself running away from her duty to sing to the god to prevent it from awakening. After helping the Queen escape, Clara finds out more about her and talks her into overcoming her fears. They go back to the people trying to find her and then The Doc shows up and he takes Clara to the show.

Merry Gillel, The Queen of Years, sings and some dude in the pyramid sings and the crowd sing, but the alien in the glass box wakes anyway. Evidently these guys don't grasp that sound can only travel through a reasonably dense medium and there is no such medium in space through which it can propagate! Merry gets sucked over to the pyramid in a bubble, and The Doc and Clara give chase on a moped. Why that instead of the TARDIS is only explained by the urgent need to make the sad plot a bit more exciting, I suppose.

It turns out that the god isn't the alien - the alien is merely the god's alarm clock. The alien is the gas giant - or the sun. It looks far more like a gas giant than it does a sun to me, and if it were a sun, the radiation coming off it would fry those aliens at that range.

The Doc tries to beat the sun/gas giant by offering it all his memories thinking that he has so many that it will over-feed it, but he fails. Clara comes to the rescue with the memories of her mother's future, which will never be created because the infinite possibilities she had available to her will never be experienced, yet because they are infinite (which frankly is a bit of a stretch: she was in her mid-forties and married with children, so that had to crimp the possibilities somewhat, I have to say!) they prove too much for the sun/gas giant and it implodes. Yet everything keeps on orbiting around the empty space.

Yeah, this ep was nonsense and it sucked. That makes two eps in a row which have been sub-standard. But next week brings back the Ice Warriors for a make-over. Hopefully that will be fun.

Here's an interview with Steven Moffat about this season which hopefully will perk you up a bit while we wait for next week and hope things will improve significantly!

7.9 Cold War by Mark Gatiss (index)

We start at the North Pole in 1983, a time when there was actually ice at the pole, which there won't be within the next half century with global warming running away like it is. We fly over the peculiarly glass-smooth sea that the frozen north (and south) seems to precipitate, and enter a Russian submarine running a nuclear launch exercise. This is interrupted by the incomparable David Warner's character listening to the excellent Vienna by Ultravox.

The captain asks him what they've pulled out of the ice this time to show for their otherwise fruitless efforts, and they both agree that it's probably another mammoth. No, it's an Ice Warrior! A prime objective of Russell Davies, when he resurrected Doctor Who in 2005 was to reintroduce updated versions of favorite Doctor Who adversaries from the original era: the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Sontarans and so on. This was also an objective of Steven Moffat's, but the Ice Warriors was a bit problematical for him, until Mark Gatiss came up with this story-line.

A soviet sailor decides to thaw their discovery before they get to port, which is plain foolishness even in real life. He pays for his stupidity when an arm crashes through the ice and grabs him by the throat! After the titles, the submarine is suddenly sinking. How and why are not explained, but The Doc and Clara arrive, expecting to step out at Las Vegas, and The Doc tells the captain to use lateral thrusters to land the submarine on a ridge so it stops sinking. The Doc and Clara are restrained and searched, resulting in The Doc being deprived of his sonic; then the sub shifts and water starts coming in, and the TARDIS dematerializes!

As if things couldn't get worse, just as The Doc is reasoning with the Captain about the non-threatening nature of his presence, the Ice Warrior shows up right behind him. The Professor, Grisenko, tells The Doc they found this thing while drilling for oil, and he estimated its age as 5,000 years (yes, it could have been a mammoth, technically speaking since they were still in existence up to 4,500 years ago, and indeed, some still dwarf mammoths lived as (relatively) recently as 1650 BC on St. Paul Island, Alaska, USA.

The Doc tries to get the Ice warrior to communicate and learns that it is Grand Marshal Skaldak, which is unfortunate, because he knows that name. An officer tasers the warrior and knocks him out, and The Doc immediately demands that the warrior be locked up. Apparently they have no brig on soviet subs because the best they appear able to do is to chain him to a conveniently exposed girder! When left alone, Skaldak sends out a distress call to summon other warriors who might be in the area. The Doc reveals that the warriors appearance is because of the cold which took over Mars; he's wearing an armored survival suit.

Clara is elected to speak to him because she's neither one of his enemies (the soviets, since they attacked him) nor The Doc, since the captain refuses to let him, yet it's The Doc who tells Clara what to say. They talk briefly, but then the warrior's suit opens and it's empty! Skaldak has escaped!

So now we have flashing alarm lights, water dripping, a ship with a scary stalker who evidently can creep around in the narrow confines totally undetected, and people wandering around alone in tiny groups searching for it! Yep, you guessed it: it's Alien all over again! Why Skaldak left his armor is unexplained because later he summons it to him and gets back in it. As he's about to initiate a global thermonuclear war (where's David Lightman when you need him?!) his fellow Ice warriors return and tractor beam the nuclear submarine up from the depths and then tractor beam Skaldak up from the submarine.

I have to say I'm a wee but disappointed in this ep, too. Maybe my expectations for the new season with a new companion were too high? Maybe I'm just getting old and cranky? Maybe I'm undergoing Amy & Rory withdrawal?! Maybe, on reflection at a later time, I'll adjust my perception of this season? I don't know, but at present, I have to say that it hasn't looked up to par to me so far!

7.10 Hide by Neil Cross (index)

OK! I have my cup of English Breakfast tea, and I have on my blue TARDIS T-Shirt: I'm ready to blog! And finally we get to a good ep this season! That's pretty impressive given that this is another one written by Neil Cross, who delivered us the Abhorred of the Rings ep not so long ago! This one was much better. The Doc is still trying to figure out what the deal is with Clara, who has stopped dying every time she meets him and has now officially become his traveling companion, of course, but she's still a mystery.

In pursuit of his quest, The Doc takes them back to 1974, to a supposedly haunted house. It isn't actually haunted of course! It never is in Doctor Who. Professor Alec Palmer and his assistant Emma Grayling, a psychic, have the house all set up with all kinds of electronic gizmos to track down this ghost, which appears, appears to enter Emma, but apparently doesn't and then there's a knock at the door, and it's Clara and The Doc. Alec and Emma also have a huge undeclared romance budding.

The Doc pretends he's from 'The Ministry' (some secret government operation to which Palmer once belonged. Palmer believes him and explains about the Caliburn ghast. It's named after his home, Caliburn House, but the ghost has haunted the location since before the house was ever built. The 'ghast' seems to be asking for help. She's known as 'The Witch of the Well' but there's no well on the property.

The Doc drags Clara off to search for this ghost with a three-stick candelabrum rather than a 'torch' for reasons unknown. Emma informs them that the music room is the heart of the house, and on arriving there, they find a harp and a cold spot. Given that this is the 50th anniversary year of Doctor Who, I can't believe The Doc didn't play a few notes on the harp in memory of The Five Doctors which actually only featured four doctors in practice!

So as Clara and The Doc wander around the house we see a rather scary looking deformed creature lurking in the shadows behind them. At one point it holds Clara's hand, but in her blissful ignorance, she assumes it's The Doc, and when she learns it isn't, they both flee back to the company of the Professor and his assistant in the main room. This holding hands trick is taken directly from the movie The Legend of Hell House itself taken from a Richard Matheson novel.

As soon as The Doc and Clara arrive in the room, there appears a dark, shiny disc floating and twisting in the air, which appears to develop cracks through which blinding light can be seen. At the same time, Emma has another vision of the ghast, which everyone else can also see. It's trapped in a forest (which looks suspiciously like the one featured in Flesh and Stone"!). Recovering afterwards, Emma turns down whiskey, which Clara declares is the "eleventh most disgusting thing ever invented". They both very sensibly agree to have some tea instead. Clara tells Emma that the professor has the hots for her. Emma tells Clara that The Doc has a sliver of ice in his heart (she doesn't specify which heart!). This revelation causes some friction between Clara and The Doc later.

The Doc hustles Clara back to the TARDIS where they travel through time, but stay in the same location, and photograph what's outside the door from the inception of Earth (the age of which is erroneously given as six billion years instead of the measured ~4.5 billion). Upon his return The Doc gives them a slide show which shows what Clara noticed earlier: the ghast does not appear to change or move very much. From this, The Doc concludes that it's a real person; a time traveler a bit like him, but from Earth's future, trapped in a bubble universe, where time is moving exceedingly slowly in comparison with their universe. How he knows this woman is called Hila Tukurian is a mystery - but it turns out that she's the great great great great great granddaughter of the professor and Emma!

Clara is greatly disturbed by their trip through Earth's history and takes The Doc to task over it: over the fact that she has both not been born yet, and is also lying out there in the ground. The Doc answers very diplomatically, given that he knows that she actually is lying out there in the ground - he met her in Victorian London!

Clara asks The Doc why they have to put the psychic at grave risk to get Hila out - why they can't just use the TARDIS. The Doc tells her that the bubble universe would suck the energy out of the TARDIS and effectively kill it - yet they actually do send the TARDIS in to rescue The Doc after he gets Hila out but is trapped himself due to Emma's collapse from the strain, and then again to rescue the grotesque alien creature because they discover that he's the partner to the female alien who is stalking around, and all he wants is to be reunited with her!

7.11 Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS by Stephen Thompson (index)

A bit of a disappointing trip through the TARDIS, but interesting nonetheless. And I liked Clara a lot better in this one than I have of late. She seemed much more like the Clara in Asylum of the Daleks. We start out with this massive salvage ship out in space apparently trolling around blindly looking for salvage. Given what it costs to get a ship into space and power it, where is the profit in space salvage? It's cheaper to create the materials from scratch!

But in the act of trying to trap and salvage the TARDIS, the van Baalen brothers manage to damage because the TARDIS shields are down! You'd think The Doc would have learned his lesson after 2007's Voyage of the Damned! One of three brothers thinks he's an android. During this, Clara, for reasons unexplained, disappears. The Doc hires the three brothers for salvage - but he means salvaging Clara. Why he needs them is a complete mystery, but they sign on, and once he gets them inside, he fakes a countdown to self-destruct to ensure that they help him.

Meanwhile, with the TARDIS cloister bell sounding out in the background, Clara is wandering the innards of the TARDIS trying to get back to the control room. She encounters some interesting things, including The Doc's crib, and discovers that she's being stalked by some weird-looking alien-looking humanoid. Running from it she sounds like she's laughing. Eventually she makes her way into the library which is a huge multi-storied arched extravagance. Finally we get to see the library - but there's no swimming pool in it!

The Doc and a couple of the brothers are in the TARDIS machine room, where one of the bros tries to steal one of the modules. The TARDIS reacts by blocking the door and then allowing them out but putting them into a self-looping maze. Why The Doc continues to follow the guy, knowing he can't get out of the loop, when Clara's life is possibly at stake, is a complete mystery.

Still in the library, Clara finds a leather-bound book titled "The History of the Time War". It contains The Doc's real name, which she now knows - the only one of his companions ever to have known it! The creature stalks her again and she escapes and finds herself back at the TARDIS console. The Doc is also in that same room, but neither can see the other because they're slightly separated in time-space. The Doc manages to zero in on her location and so is able to grab her and drag her through to his zone. Once that's done, he reveals that he faked the self-destruct - the engine isn't going to explode, but he immediately discovers that it is indeed going to explode!

He leads Clara and the two brothers who didn't get attacked by the weird-looking alien-looking humanoid into the heart of the TARDIS, which is a sun which is about to implode into a black hole. This is the core of the TARDIS and that which empowers it to time-travel, which begs the question as to why The Doc #9 had to stop in Cardiff to refuel from the rift energy there in Boom Town. The weird-looking alien-looking humanoids trap them there and it becomes apparent that for once, I guessed right - the weird-looking alien-looking humanoids are in fact future versions of The Doc, Clara and the van Baalens - if they don't escape their present predicament.

Next they go to the true heart of the TARDIS (how many hearts does it have?!). They run through a door and appear to be outside standing at the edge of a huge precipice. The Doc finally loses it and confronts Clara about all her incarnations, but she doesn't have any idea what he's talking about - she's not a conspiracy, she's just Clara. This is a great scene. I loved this - this was the best part of the last several episodes. Clara says, "Okay! I don't know what the hell this is about but the hug is really nice!"

The Doc thinks the precipice is an illusion, so they jump through it, into the precipice and find the actual engine of the TARDIS trapped in mid-explosion. The Doc tracks down the rip in space-time which is at the heart of this (another heart!), and he reaches through it into the TARDIS prior to all this happening and passes on a message to himself back then, and all is fixed. Doctor Who is the only fiction ever to have a deus ex machina and have it be an acceptable part of the story! lol!

7.12The Crimson Horror by Mark Gatiss (index)

For the one hundredth Doctor Who episode since the 2005 reboot, Mark Gatiss talked Diana Rigg (best known for The Avengers fame), to appear in this ep with her real life daughter, actress Rachael Stirling. And how Holmesian it is! You can see the affection Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat have for the Holmes adventures, since this one is a riff off of an unwritten Holmes adventure: The Repulsive Case of the Red Leech, which was mentioned in another of Conan-Doyle's Holmes stories.

This was the best ep yet of the current season; I spent so much time laughing, that it almost hurt. It featured a return of Vastra, a Silurian warrior woman who now resides in Victorian London with her kick-ass wife, Jenny Flint, who often poses as her maid, and their "man" servant, Strax, a Sontaran warrior clone. The ep is told from their PoV to begin with, and I swear if BBC is looking for a show to replace The Sarah Jane Adventures, they need look no further than this trio.

The ep takes place in Yorkshire (from whence my parents hailed!) in 1893 (although it's actually filmed in Wales as usual!), and begins with Edmund, a newspaper reporter kissing his wife goodbye as he sets off to resolve The Crimson Horror a fearful series of episodes in the town whereby people are turning up dead, with their skin colored crimson. He's been gone only 30 seconds when Mrs Winfred Gillyflower, a wizened old woman shows up (this is Diana Rigg, for once in her life dropping her charmingly elegant "BBC English" and assuming her native Doncaster dialect). Mrs Gillyflower brings her condolences on the death of the woman's husband. The woman protests in disbelief, and then we hear her husband scream. How melodramatic, but perfectly in keeping with this drama!

Next we find the dead man's brother viewing his body and subsequently visiting London detective Madame Vastra (whose front door is remarkably similar to the door of the TARDIS, in both design and color). He shows her photos taken from an image on the retina of his dead bother (that old trope whereby a dead person is nonsensically supposed to retain an image of the last thing they saw before they died; however, Mark Gatiss supplies a cool explanation for it in this particular case: when the body is processed by The Crimson Horror, it changes sufficiently in physiology that it can indeed retain that last image. Madame Vastra is so intent upon seeing the image that she removes her veil, and upon seeing this, Edmund's brother faints! Jenny develops more photographs taken by Edmund, and in one of them, an image from Edmund's dead eye, we see The Doc! Roll the titles.

Up in Yorkshire, it's resolved that Jenny will pose as a person interested in Mrs Gillyflower's new age cult, which is supposed to protect her followers from th coming apocalypse: "When the end of days is done and judgment rains down upon us all." Sitting in the audience, she learns of Mrs Gillyflower's blinded daughter, Ada, and we discover that Ada has a secret. One of the crimson's which apparently was a reject and should have ended up dumped in in the River Don (or at least in a canal connected with it, but because it touched Ada's hand as she was walking past, she preserved its life and now keeps it chained in a quiet room where she feeds it stew passed through a sliding door set in the main door which is always kept locked. I had thought they were going to end up turning Mrs Gillyflower's daughter into Ada Lovelace but when I looked her up just now I realized that this wasn't possible, because her era was impressively, a generation or two before 1893.

Mr Thursday, Edmund's brother, follows Vastra to Yorkshire, and calls on her, knocking on the blue door. Strax answers and Thursday faints again! meanwhile Jenny has signed on to become a member of Mrs Gillyflower's Sweetville retreat. As soon as she's inside, Jenny starts picking locks and wandering into places the public should never go. Through the first door, she discovers three loudspeakers making factory noises in a large, empty building. Two guys appear carrying a large jar of red liquid.

While she's doing that, Vastra is with the morgue attendant looking for evidence from the victims of The Crimson Horror. She's shown a jar containing a crimson liquid which she last saw about 65 million years ago! In the next scene, Winfred and Ada Gillyflower are eating together. Her mam knocks over a silver bowl of sugar, and sprinkles some down inside her bodice. While they are thus occupied, Jenny is ascending the same stairs up which Ada went to feed her pet monster. When she peers through the sliding door, a crimson hand comes out and grabs her wrist. She negotiates with the monster that she will free it if it behaves, and inside she finds The Doc, alive and well, but he's crimson and unable to speak or even walk properly.

Jenny helps him out, and they sneak away to a facility which The Doc apparently knows will fix him. On the way, she sees six people being slowly lowered into crimson fluid. Jenny locks The Doc into the closet-like device, and he produces his sonic and does his magic, popping out a moment later as his old self. He leans Jenny back in his arms and pops a huge smacker on her lips, whereupon she slaps him harshly, and he says, "You have no idea how good that feels!" He mentions Clara which causes Jenny some serious consternation since she knows that Clara is dead (from The Snowmen ep).

The Doc relates what happened in a flashback where he and Clara arrive supposedly in Victorian London but are, in fact, in Yorkshire. The Doc explains that this happens sometimes: "I once spent a hell of a long time trying to get a gobby Australian to Heathrow airport!" He's referring to Tegan Jovanka companion to the fifth doctor, who arrives in the TARDIS shortly before the fourth doctor regenerates. You can see her with the sixth doctor in a very short one-off special here. The Doc leads Clara on, modifying his phrase "Brave heart, Tegan." which he used in her era, but here he substitutes Clara's name for Tegan's.

Strax meanwhile is threatening to execute his horse for failing in its mission to get him to Sweetville. Fortunately a kid helps him out and the horse is spared. The kid's name is Thomas Thomas, evidently a reference to TomTom, a modern GPS service! Jenny is having conniptions about The Doc's evident delusion that Clara is still alive, and elsewhere, Winfred and Ada Gillyflower are having a disagreement, Ada suddenly discovering that as a blind woman, she lacks the perfection required to share in Winfred's vision of the future. This plot, of course, is straight out of the James Bond movie Moonraker, with the same betrayal. In James Bond, the betrayed is Jaws and his diminutive girlfriend.

So as The Doc and Jenny are reviving Clara, who was apparently accepted as perfection and subsequently preserved in a huge glass jar with what is presumably intended as her future husband. While they wait on the process completing, several "supermodels" as The Doc describes them (from Gillyflower's perfect population) arrive to confront him. Jenny states confidently,"This one's on me" and she drops her outer clothing to reveal a black leather and lace form-hugging outfit not too far removed from some of the outfits sported by the Emma Peel character (portrayed by Diana Rigg) as she appeared in the Avengers. She lays a couple of the "supermodels" out, but the numbers are too many. Fortunately, Strax has arrived and he chases them off. Vastra has to send him outside when be becomes too excited, and Strax storms off mumbling that he's going to play with his grenades.

Clara finally emerges from the regeneration chamber and asks The Doc what's going on. Matt Smith laid me out when he said, with a broad Yorkshire accent, "There's trouble at t' mill!". I can't begin to explain how funny this is to me. It's well known from a Monty Python sketch but maybe it arose originally from the Inheritance TV series.

Clara draws their attention to the chimney which doesn't blow smoke, and inside it, they discover Mrs Gillyflower's plan. She's going to launch a rocket which will explode, delivering the crimson horror venom into the upper atmosphere, where in reality, sunlight would break it down, but in this case, it's supposed to infect everyone who isn't protected, and thereby wipe out humanity, leaving the planet free for Mrs Gillyflower's perfect couples to repopulate. Mrs Gillyflower appears not to understand very much about evolution! The Doc rescues Ada, and then tricks Gillyflower into revealing her plan to Ada, who until then was loathe to betray her mother even after all she'd done. Gillyflower reveals that she has the Crimson Horror attached to her chest. It's a little crimson creature not too different from the one in Alien when it burst out of Kane's stomach.

Ada, listening in secretly, discovers that she wasn't blinded by Winifred's husband's drunken rage, as she had believed, but by the crimson horror! She loses it and starts attacking her mother with her white stick, and Clara slams a chair into the launch control device, which is reminiscent of Charles Babbage's difference engine in some regards.

In a showdown on the stairs to the rocket, Gillyflower falls to her death, and Ada slams her stick down on the parasite, killing it. Ada is not quite given the send-off she deserves, but The Doc urges them all to have some yummy Pontefract (or Pomfret) cakes on him. Mr Thursday arrives just in time to see the TARDIS dematerialize and faints again!

In the finale, The Doc drops off Clara at her home, and the two kids she's babysitting (Angie Maitland and her brother Artie, seen in the season opener) start taunting her about these old photographs they've discovered which feature her! She's denying it all, but the kids quickly hit on the idea that her "boyfriend" is an alien (it's the chin which gives him away, causing Clara to smirk) and that she herself is a time-traveler. They show her one more photograph: the one taken in her persona as Miss Montague, the governess from 1892 as seen in the Christmas special, The Snowmen. Clara realizes that she has never traveled to that time with The Doc and is now immensely intrigued!

7.13 Nightmare in Silver by Neil Gaiman (index)

Crimson horror? Nightmare in silver? Are we entering a Sherlock Holmes era?! This ep is from Neil Gaiman, who gave us the excellent The Doctor's Wife! It features the Cybermen which are frankly being overused IMO! It also features Angie and Artie Maitland; they get a ride in the TARDIS. They land on what looks remarkably like the Moon, with the US flag on its spring to keep it from drooping, and a overly large Earth looking down on North America, but as The Doc assures the kids, it isn't the Moon.

A man, Webley, pops out from behind a concealed door to ask them if they're his ride home, and a platoon of soldiers shows up (from which Webley hides) forcing The Doc to "identify" himself, which he does with psychic paper establishing his credentials as pro-consul. Why a captain is in charge of a single platoon goes unanswered, but we later learn that this is a punishment, so maybe her being reduced to commanding one platoon instead of several is part of the punishment. The platoon trots off and Webley reappears only to inform the deflated kids that the massive amusement park which used to be there has fallen into disrepair and the entire planet is closed! However, he has an alternative: Webley's World of Wonder!

This consists of a few cheap models of aliens, but he has three Cybermen, one of which, though empty, seems to be able to play chess! The Doc discovers that it's not really the Cyberman but a midget called Porage who is operating it from a concealed space underneath. Porage takes them to ride the anti-gravity and then Clara decides it's time to get the kids home, but instead of doing that and then returning, The Doc puts the return trip on hold and beds the kids down on a couch in Webley's place while he goes to investigate the mini Cybermats (which he calls Cybermites!). He sternly warns them not to wander off, so the first thing Angie does is wander off, leaving her phone behind. Eve de Leon Allen, who plays Angie, made a far worse error - she left behind in a taxi, the script for this show, which someone else discovered and posted on the Internet! This is what probably tipped off the Cybermen! As the kids make it clear, right after The Doc told them not to wander off, he wandered off, so Angie has no problem with this.

Meanwhile, Webley is trapped by the (non-)chess-playing Cyberman, and the Cybermites invade him and start "upgrading" him in a shameless rip-off of the Borg from Star Trek. They do the same to Artie. Angie has found her way into the barracks, and suddenly there's a Cyberman there, so technologically advanced that it can move exceptionally quickly. it abducts Angie. I notice that the Cybermen, which have never before had a light on their chest, now sport a light similar to the one the early versions of the Iron Man prosthesis has! What's up with that?!

The Doc uses his "authority" as Imperial Pro-consul to remove the captain's authority to command and puts Clara in charge instead! Then he runs off in search of Angie. Clara determines that the best place to form a defensive line is in the amusement park's castle, which is evidently a real castle. Both she and The Doc are very much of one mind in that there will be no blowing up of the planet!

As the platoon with Clara and Porage along are entering the castle, Clara informs them that the only reason she's still alive is that she does what The Doc says; she trusts him. The old captain asks the new captain if she thinks The Doc knows what he's doing, and Clara says, "I'm not sure I'd go that far!" Thank goodness for the good scripts again! I was beginning to get worried about this season!

The Doc finds Artie, Angie, and Webley, and all of them are just like Borg starting to convert, with bits of technology on their faces. What a rip-off! Apparently the Cybermen have been appropriating children for some time and using their fresh unrestricted minds to improve themselves. Webley tosses some Cybermites onto The Doc and then he gets similar technology on his face. We get treated to yet another quick flash through all of The Doc's incarnations so far. The Doc goes back and forth rather like Gollum, arguing with himself about who is in control. The arrive at a stalemate and agree to play chess for the remaining, controlling percentage of his brain.

Missy, one of the ragtag platoon, is patrolling the power station and encounters a Cyberman and asks permission to run away! She hides, and we see what seems now to be an established power of the Cybermen: they can detach hands to go running around rather like the "placenta" in the Alien movies. It latches onto her face rather like that thing did, too. Another rip-off! The Doc meets up with Clara who is freaked that her kids are being assimilated. The Doc continues to play chess with himself, and during the Cyber Planner's turn, he reveals to Clara that The Doc is obsessing on her, the Impossible Girl, so now she's even more intrigued by what that means.

The Cyber Planner triggers the waking up of all the Cybermen which have been constructed over a period of many years. Apparently no one noticed all the kids going missing. Despite the fact that the moat around the castle has been electrified, the upgraded Cybermen can cross it, but The Doc comes up with a plan - he claims he can mate in three moves, and the Cyber Planner is forced to call in the resources of all the Cybermen to work out how he can do that, which locks up the Cybermen and allows The Doc to set the planet-destroying bomb, and they transmat to the Emperor's spaceship (Porage is the emperor, it turns out, played amazingly by Warwick Davis) in time to see the planet become a fireball. No more Cybermen - except, of course, for the one head, floating in space....

The Doc takes them all in the TARDIS to Earth, and the kids romp off to bed. Clara exits, too. Evidently she doesn't travel continuously with The Doc, but only visits with him on Wednesdays! After she has left, The Doc, paraphrasing Winston Churchill, says of her: "The Impossible girl. A mystery wrapped in a enigma, squeezed into a skirt that's just a little bit too tight...." Then he catches himself with that last highly uncharacteristic thought and is disturbed. Unfortunately, Clara happens to be wearing a very loose skirt which might be described as a little bit too short, but never too tight! Weird! Her top might be described as too tight, but it looked very cool.

7.14 The Name of The Doctor 14 by Steven Moffat (index)

This ep features the return of River Song, who has yet to meet The Doc's newest companion (the one in the tight skirt!), as well as the addictive trio of Madame Vastra, Commander Strax, and Jenny Flint. We also see the reappearance of Dr Simeon. We meet new villains: The Whisper Men. And we go to the Fields of "Trenzalore where the question is asked which must never be answered!

So on Gallifrey, some nine hundred or so years ago, we see the original doctor, along with his granddaughter Susan, stealing his TARDIS, but he pauses as he hears someone calling to him. The person calling him is Clara Oswald - the impossible girl - and she advises him that he's about to make a very big mistake! We see several short clips as Clara tells us she has to save the doctor, and the sixth doctor walks past, behind her. She calls and runs after him and we see her following the fourth doctor. She finds the seventh doctor hanging by his umbrella. We see the third doctor ride past her in his little antique car. We see the eighth doctor go quickly past, followed by the second going in the opposite direction. We see the fifth doctor followed quickly by the current doctor, but as the sequence ends with him, we realize we've seen neither the ninth nor the tenth. This sequence was so cool!

Next we're in London in 1893, in a prison which features a prolific serial killer reciting a poem about the whisper men. Vastra is there, telling him there are no words which can save his neck, until he says, "The doctor". Vastra goes home and tells Jenny that a conference call is required. They set up a pentagonal (not hexagonal!) table and call Strax, who is fighting in Glasgow, they call Clara who is babysitting, and they call River Song.

Everyone in the conference call needs to be unconscious, so they can meet without having to travel, so Vastra and Jenny fall to sleep to the strains of Vivaldi's Le quattro stagioni, La primavera movement one. At the conference, after introducing River to Clara, Vastra shows images in the center of the table created from white particles, which all those "present" can see. Jenny can hear whispering but says nothing about it. One of the images is a space-time coordinate from the murderer, and when River asks what verification he offered, Vastra says, "Trenzalore").

Jenny starts to panic because she failed to lock the door. Vastra tries to calm her down, but Jenny tells her that she's dead, and she disappears from the conference table. River tells everyone they must wake up immediately. Vastra does so and discovers Jenny dead, surrounded by The Whisper Men. Clara wakes up to find the Doc playing blind man's Bluff with her charges, but she tells the Doc that it was a trick, and the kids actually went to the cinema. As they head out, the Doc tells Clara that "Trenzalore is where he is buried - in the future - a place he must never go. So off they go to "Trenzalore.

The Doc has to fight the TARDIS because this means he has to cross his own time line (like that's never happened before lol!). The eventually arrive in a graveyard, and the Doc's tomb is the TARDIS - not a model or a representation of it, but literally the TARDIS. The Great Intelligence shows up, and forces the Doc to let him into the grave by threatening to stop the hearts of his companions, including Jenny, who has been is revived by Strax (not dead yet!). Inside, we discover that where the control console used to be is a twisting spiral of light, rather like DNA made out of barbed wire, itself made out of light! It's beautiful. The Great Intelligence reveals that in order to exact revenge upon The Doc, he's going to enter the time stream and screw up the time line for every doctor in every time.

He disappears and The Doc starts to writhe on the floor in pain. Clara decides that the only way to fix this is for her to enter the time stream and undo what The Great Intelligence has done, even though it will cost her her life. She does so and The Doc begins to recover. In turn, he decides that the only way to fix what Clara has done is for him to go into his own time stream and rescue her.

This very brief summary tells all the essential basics of this ep, but it doesn't do the beauty of the ep any justice at all. The story is gorgeous and beautiful to look at. The dialog is cool and of course, this is only a prologue to season 8, where the fiftieth anniversary of the Doctor Who sci-fi series truly kicks off. I can hardly wait: it's going to be the entire summer before we see the next ep on November 23rd! Ulp!


8.1 The Day Of The Doctor by Steven Moffat (index)

I saw this in 3D in the movie theater - in the USA! That's how big Doctor Who has now become! The show was preceded by an onscreen quiz which I got correct on every question but one - I'd forgotten that Pater Capaldi is not the only doctor who had appeared as a different character in an earlier episode in the series. (The other was the sixth doctor played by Colin Baker). This was followed by a warning - from a Sontaran - that puny humans must turn off their cell phones and be quiet or else! It was hilarious. This was followed by David Tennant and Matt Smith horsing around as the 2D image switched to three D; then came the 76 minute movie.

Note that to get the most out of the movie, you need to see the two mini-episodes The Night of the Doctor, and The Last Day. I have to say, without question or hesitation, that The Day of the Doctor is the best episode I've ever seen of Doctor Who, the funniest, the most exciting, the most surprising, and the most inventive. So who could have possibly written this but Steven Moffat?

In a reference back to the start of the very first episode, transmitted by the BBC on Saturday, November 23rd 1963 at 5:16pm GMT, the story opens with a policeman's shadow on a wall, in black and white, passing the I. M. Foreman scrap yard, and then transforms to color as we see Coal Hill School, the school which the first doctor's granddaughter attended. Note that the chairman of the school board of governors is Ian Chesterton! A new teacher at the school, Clara Oswald, gets a note asking her to be at a certain place (and time?!) and she ends up in the TARDIS of course, which is summarily air-lifted to Trafalgar Square, where Kate Stewart of Unit meets him and shows him a painting from the Elizabethan era. The painting is in 3D, and can only have been done by a Time Lord.

No-one seems to know the name of the painting, but it's thought to be either "No More", or "Gallifrey Falls". Kate has something else to show the Doctor, though. In a secret vault (in the Tower of London sub-basement) where The Doctor shows a great deal of interest in the dust and sand on the floor, Kate shows him many more such pictures all of which have the glass broken - from the inside out. The suggestion is that Zygons have broken through to take over earth, but if so, then where did they go? No one has seen any. But we learn that Zygons can shape-shift, so maybe the lab assistants - one of whom is wearing a remarkably long, gaily patterned scarf... - aren't human?

Realizing that the only way to save billions from the Zygon subjugation of Earth is to sacrifice millions in London, Kate plans on detonating a nuclear device which lies under the Tower of London, which the Doctor cannot remove or turn off, because the Tower has been TARDIS-proofed to prevent the Doctor from getting his "grubby little protuberances" (as Sylvester McCoy might have put it) on any of the advanced alien weaponry which resides there, including the 'Moment' - a destructive device of galaxy encompassing power.

Unfortunately, this device is missing. It's in the hands of the ninth doctor: the real ninth doctor - not the misleading Eccleston doctor, but the Hurt doctor known, appropriately enough, as the War Doctor (hurt, war, get it?!). He sees Gallifrey falling to a massive attack by a billion billion Daleks, and the Moment will destroy both races (including The Doctor himself), ending the war and saving the galaxy. He arrive son Gallifrey and borrowing an energy bean weapon form a nearby soldier, he stencils No More on a wall as he decides that radical action is needed here. The Ninth Doctor has the Moment, and as he tries to figure out how to trigger it, he's visited by the sentience of the Moment, in the form of former Doctor companion Rose Tyler, whom the ninth doctor doesn't know. "She" starts to make him think long and hard about the consequences of what he's contemplating doing. As they talk, a portal opens through space-time and a fez comes through.

Back at the Tower, a portal between the now England and the Elizabethan England opens, and a fez comes through. All this fezzing around ends up with the ninth, eleventh and twelfth doctors (Hurt, Tennant, and Smith) all deposited in Elizabethan England where the tenth doctor, having helped Elizabeth escape a Zygon, has proposed to her and she's accepted. The problem is, did he agree to marry a Zygon posing as Elizabeth, or Elizabeth herself? In the confusion, the three doctors end up stuck in the Tower of London, where they run around like idiots with their respective screwdrivers, (the interactions between Tennant and Smith are hilarious and Hurt makes it even funnier as he dourly comments on their juvenile attitudes and behaviors). The Twelfth doctor spends a lot of his time scratching graffiti onto a pillar in the dungeon while the ninth doctor spends his scanning the door trying to figure out how to break out of the cell. He's scorned by the eleventh doctor because the door and lock are too old for the sonic screwdriver to be able to manipulate them (which is patently untrue, but go with it!).

Their combined conclusion is that the only way to open the door would be to disintegrate it at the atomic level and the calculations even for three sync'd screwdrivers, would take centuries. Fortunately, the ninth doctor (the war doctor) has been doing these calculations since he scanned the door, and he predates the other two by some four centuries, so it's done already. How does that work exactly? Go with it!

Kate reveals to Clara back at the Tower, that Jack Harkness bequeathed a vortex manipulator (so now we know where River has been getting hers!) to the Tower. The only problem is that they don't know the code to unlock it - until someone arrives with a photograph of some old graffiti from a dungeon pillar. As soon as Clara realizes that Kate is really a Zygon, she snatches up the vortex wrist band, dons it, and uses the graffiti code to send herself back to Elizabethan times where she walks right into the dungeon since the door was never locked!

They three time lords plus Clara return to the Tower in the present using one of the 3D paintings, just as the Zygons did and the eleventh and twelfth zap the memory wiping devices in the Tower to erase both versions of Kate's memory so neither of them knows if they are human or Zygon. Now they're forced to stop the nuclear countdown.

The ninth doctor now decides he can return to Gallifrey and finish his destruction, but the other two doctors travel quickly behind him to stop him. They argue for a while and then all three decide to press the button together to share responsibility, but since they're all the same guy, this seems odd to say the least! But the three of them arrive at a different decision. If they can time-lock Gallifrey, using the Moment, they can dematerialize the entire planet, causing the attacking Daleks to destroy each other in cross-fire. All thirteen incarnations of the Doctor are seen zooming in to Gallifrey to help carry out this plan, and they succeed. But their home world is now locked in a moment, in stasis.

The Twelfth Doctor watches Clara enter the TARDIS and sits for a moment of contemplation by himself in the museum, gazing upon the painting with two names. He wonders what he will do with his life, and thinks he could well become a brilliant museum curator. Right then an aging curator arrives and it turns out to be the Fourth Doctor played by the original Tom Baker. The curator tells The Doctor that the painting only has one name - not 'No More', and Not 'Gallifrey Falls', but 'Gallifrey Falls No More'. As he walks away, the Twelfth Doctor realizes that Gallifrey is still there, somewhere, and he can bring it back!

The show ended with a brief, but excellent documentary - narrated by Colin Baker - on the making of the 50th anniversary special. It was worth every single penny for this show. Never have I felt movie money was better spent! I would have sat through the entire show again if I could! Now I'm looking forward to a great eighth season and a new doctor for Xmas! And the fiftieth anniversary special is out on Blu-Ray in time for Xmas, too!

If you get a chance, take a look at The Five(ish) Doctors reboot directed by Peter Davison, as the fifth, sixth, and seventh doctors try to sneak onto the set where the 50th anniversary special is being filmed, so they can get a part in the show. It's hilarious, and full of Who-related celebrities, but I don't see it on You Tube so I can't offer you a link.

8.1 Deep Breath by Steven Moffat (index)

I could barely wait for this episode - the first of the new season, and featuring Peter Capaldi along with Jenna Coleman, Neve McIntosh, Catrin Stewart, and Dan Starkey. Those latter three need their own spin-off show. I can't believe they don't already have it. The BBC lost Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, so why there is a complete lack of effort to replace those with something else related to Doctor Who is a complete mystery. I suspect it's because Russell Davies has rather retired from sci-fi to pursue other writing interests, but the Beeb really needs to get its head out of its corporate ass and start looking elsewhere for writing talent.<.p>

This ep begins with a dinosaur strolling through Victorian London, with Madame Vastra, her wife Jenny, and their faithful - if rather psychotic manservant - Strax hurrying to the scene upon which the dino vomits out the TARDIS, which in turn vomits out a rather amnesiac new doctor and a rather pissed-off Clara.

I must admit it took me a while to get into this. It's effectively part two of The Girl in the Fireplace, and I'd been so excited to see it and waited so long that my expectations were probably way too high, so it felt like somewhat of a let-down for the first ten minutes. After that, I got into it and the writing got into it and it turned around completely. I ended up loving it.

The new doctor also comes with a brand-new new opening title sequence, evidently based on someone's concept posted on You Tube. I am not impressed with it. It's too simplistic for my taste, but it isn't disastrous either. The same goes for the music. It's okay, but I've heard better themes for this show.

At first I thought Clara was perhaps an imposter, but Moffat didn't take it that way. Instead we have The Doctor speaking now in a Scot's accent (and being charmed when Vastra imitates it to calm him), and Clara really confused about where the young version went - and how can they change him back! There was some interesting writing here with Vastra comparing the doctor's change in appearance with her own use of the veil to disguise her reptilian features.

Just about the time that The Doctor is promising to return the dino to its own era, it bursts into flames and is consumed completely. The Doctor is interested in knowing if there have been any other deaths by apparent spontaneous combustion. There follows an hilarious scene with Strax and Clara, and is it me, or is she suddenly reverting to her origins? Jenna Coleman was born in Blackpool, Lancashire (not to be confused with Blackburn, Lancashire where there are four thousand holes - indeed, enough to fill the Albert Hall). Her voice is quite delightful to listen to, though.

Strax's exchange with Clara parallels the later one between Vastra and Jenny, which is so charming. Again, we need a spin-off with these two and Strax. It could be really amazing. But I digress. Clara eventually ends up at a restaurant in London, thinking the Dcotor published an ad in the Times inviting her to meet him there. He thought she had placed the ad. This is yet another dialog which is remarkably good.

Before you know it, they're in the basement of the restaurant with several clockwork characters who are in some sort of suspended animation - until, of course, The Doictor and Clara arrive, but fortunately, Madama Vastra and Jenny, dressed fetchingly in leather body-suits styled similarly to the one Jenny wore in The Crimson Horror show up and help save the day.

I have to say that the Balloon gondolier is way too small to properly represent the restaurant it was supposed to be! But quibbles like that aside, I have to rate this ep highly. Plus we finally get to see Vastra and Jenny kiss on screen! Their whole interaction on this scene was heartening.

I have to say that Jenna Coleman was outstanding in this episode. I don't think I've ever seen her act so well. And don't miss that all important phone call she takes at the end.

8.2 Into The Dalek by Phil Ford and Steven Moffat (index)

Writer Phil Ford has written episodes of ITV's Captain Scalett and the BBC's The Sarah Jane Adventures. he also co-wrote the Doctor Who episode The Waters of Mars with Russell Davies.

This ep left me feeling slightly disappointed. I had initially thought that it was going to be some kind of follow-up to Asylum of the Daleksthe one where we first encountered Clara, but it was not. It opens rather sadly with a lone tiny space craft trying to outrun a massive Dalek empire vessel - Star Wars fashion. I thought this kind of thing was pathetic in Star Wars - that something as advanced as Republic technology couldn't nail a raider craft with the first shot just like the Dalek empire cannot do it here. Eventually they hit it and the pilot is rescued aboard the TARDIS. Her brother, Kai, her co-pilot, was already dead.

This is how Lieutenant Journey Blue of the Combined Galactic Resistance meets the Doctor. Combined galactic resistance? How arrogant and pretententious! There comes a time when you have to let it go or be driven nuts by it, so I let that one slide. Journey picks up her gun and threatens the Doctor but he eventually gets her to ask nicely to be returned to the mother ship.

It's funny that The Doctor is carrying two cups of coffee that no one ever drinks. It's also funny that the commander of the mother ship, Journey's uncle, says they don't take prisoners when they actually have one: a Dalek which is so sick that it's nice!

Here's where my next problem came up: Moffat made a huge issue of introducing the new Daleks - the rainbow Daleks - yet never once since then has he really availed himself of them - so what was the point? In every ep since that, he's continued using the brass Daleks - the ones which have been a staple since the series was rebooted, despite the fact that the rainbow Daleks destroyed all remaining copies of the brass Dalek in that very ep. I don't get this at all.

The Dalek prisoner has some sort of malfunction which has made it hate Daleks, but not, apparently, itself. It wants to exterminate the others, but not, apparently, itself. The Doctor can't help but be drawn into this one - literally. The raiders have a technology which can miniaturize equipment and people - as long as they don't hold their breath during the process. I don't get that. This is also an idea with multiple issues, for example, where does the extra mass go after minaturization, and if it's still there, how can their tiny muscles move their massive bodies?

Imaigne a five-pound (or kilo) weight in the shape of a sphere. YOu could more than likely hold that in your palm without too much trouble depednign on your age and considerate of physical infirmity. Now imagine the same mass but as a needle, not a sphere, and still sitting in your palm, point down. Same mass, different footprint. What do you suppose would happen? But there's a more important issue, beleive it or not: why do they not avail themselves of this miniaturization technology in their fight against the Daleks? It's the ultimate in stealth and they don't use it? It made no sense.

Neither did the Dalek 'attack anti-bodies'. The assault team's escape into the digestive system was really nothing more than a rip-off of Star Wars and a retread of the events in The Beast Below.

I found the low-level radiation to be rather high as judged by the reaction of the soldier's geiger counter, but moving right along: the thing that's weird is that the soldiers monitoring the trip have a detailed schematic of the Dalek, so why was it necessary for anyone to enter it? Nevertheless, the internal team discover that a radiation leak is all that's changed the Dalek's morality, so, of course, the Doctor fixes it and the Dalek is as good as new - as good as its evil self. It embarks upon a rampage to destroy the mother ship's crew.

Clara discovers that some lights in the memory are out(!), indicating that those memories are not in play. Once she fixes that, she returns the Dalek to its sickened state - with those beneficial and moral memories intact. At that point it turns upon its fellow Daleks. I found the internal architecture of the Dalek far too convenient for human travel - massive empty areas with flat, smooth 'floors'. Real machines aren't like this. I found it interesting that the printed circuits inside the Dalek were just like the ones that humans design: flat copper 'wires' printed onto a substrate. Why would Dalek technology be exactly like ours, and it if is, then why is it so hard to beat them?

This ep wasn't really very good. I liked that Clara was so proactive, but it meant that The Doctor took a back seat which wasn't at all like him. So yes, I'm still not convinced that Capaldi has what it takes. He's nowhere near as bad as Ecclestone was, but he's not won me over yet. On this same subject of disappointments, Clara's 'romance' fell completely flat for me. Both Jenna Coleman and Samuel Anderson are fine actors, but I wasn't feeling any chemistry here - not in this ep.

And regarding the ending: I found it incredible that Journey requested to travel with the Doctor. Zawe Ashton really has a problem with eye contact. In this scene she couldn't fix on one eye or the other, so instead, her eyes are flicking left and right as she tries to focus upon one, then the other, of Capaldi's eyes. She's too close to look at both, so she ends up jumping back and forth like she's having an epilpetic attack or something, and it's really distracting, but the real problem here was that it was out of character for the dutiful soldier she'd shown herself to be to go AWOL like this. The Doctor turned her down because she was a soldier. Anyway, I actually want to see the Doctor travel with a Dalek companion!

8.3 Robot Of Sherwood by Mark Gatiss (index)

Mark Gatiss is the co-writer (with Moffatt) of the BBC TV series Sherlock, the next of which is due to begin filming in January 2015.

I warmed up to this season of Doctor Who rather late, and it took this episode to get me there. Once again I cannot speak highly enough of Jenna Coleman who has stolen every show this season and who has outshone the Doctor repeatedly. She does not fail here, with the best lines, the best attitude, the best action, and what's with the dress?

Or should I say skirt, because as charming as the red dress was, Clara's signature tartan skirt, which looks like it's a variant on the Munro clan tartan, was soooo short - and as if that wasn't enough, it was split so far up that you could almost see Sherwood Forest. I've seen broader belts on a broad! I can't believe everyone made such a fuss of Karen Gillan's skirt and legs during her tenture and no one has said a thing about Jenna Coleman?!!

But I digress. So the Doctor offers to take Clara to any place, any time, and she choses Robin Hood. They end up in 1190AD despite The Doctor's insistance that Robin is a legend (and there are good arguments either way) - right up to the point where an arrow shoots past him straight into the TARDIS's frame. Fortunately the hole disappears when the Doctor pulls the arrow out. How convenient that they landed within shooting distance of Robin Hood! I have to say that Tom Riley is outstanding as Robin.

It doesn't take long before they're attending the fabled archery contest, and Robin, Clara, and The Doctor are captured and imprisoned, but not before they discover that the evil villain's soldiers are robots. Someone needs to tell Mark Gatiss that Tae Kwon Do isn't known for fighting with pole; it's all about the power of kicking. It turns out that the castle they're in is actually a space craft, and gold is needed to repair it, hence the Shire Reeve's passion for looting. The exchange between Robin and The Doctor in the prison is completely hilarious, but once again Clara shows her superiority.

While she's being "interrogated" (over dinner!) by the Shire Reeve of Snotingaham (named after a Saxon chieftain named Snot, believe it or not. You may think that's funny, but it'snot), The Doctor and Robin escape and discover the space craft, Robin defeats the Shire Reeve in a sword-fight, the local peasants find a very nifty way to defeat the robot death rays, and the spacecraft is launched without blowing up half the countryside.

All in all a great romp despite some large plot holes. I loved it. The fact that Jenna Coleman is carrying these shows this season is really sad in light of the rumor - started in a mid-August edition of Britain's Daily Mirror that she will be retiring as the Doctor's companion after the 2014 Xmas special. There's nothing official about it yet, so we'll have to wait and see what happens there, but I fear for the series itself if she leaves and all we have is Capaldi and an untried new companion.

8.4 Listen by Steven Moffat (index)

I have no inside information, but this one feels to me like it will be another of Moffat's signature episodes along the lines of Blink (still for me the best Doctor Who ever), and others of that nature such as The Empty Child, The Doctor Dances, The Girl in the Fireplace, Silence in the Library, and Forest of the Dead.

Doctor Who sitting on the roof of the TARDIS meditating. Consider that. Out in space. Surrounded by stars, of course, contemplating why we talk to ourselves when we're alone. Because we're really not? And he talks about evolution. So far so wonderful. As I predicted (and I don't get those right very often) this was the start of what was to be another classic Steven Moffat episode, along the lines of those discussed above, and it was BRILLIANT! Probably my second favorite Doctor Who of all time after Blink.

This was the best episode this season so far. It tied the 50th anniversary special to The Doctor, to Clara, and to Clara's love interest - who will probably take her away from the show come Xmas, which is really, really sad, because Jenna Coleman is carrying this season single-handedly. She has been outstanding in every episode, and never more so than in this one.

We meet her meeting Danny Pink in a restaurant. And they're not getting along very well. Not in the end. Samuel Anderson is amazing as Danny - one of the best new characters in the show lately. Clara is so upset from her date, that she storms off and goes home to find The Doctor waiting for her with his TARDIS in her bedroom, which is appropriate because he tells her a tale of no-one ever actually being alone - all are accompanied by a silent companion. We see several different people wake, startled, and put their feet on the floor and then.... A feminine hand grabs their ankle from under the bed?

Clara is connected to the TARDIS's circuits so she can transport them back to a time when she dreamed there was someone under her bed, but her date is still on her mind, and she ends up not back in her childhood, but back in Danny's! The West Country Children's Home. Where Clara has never been. She tells the Doctor this, but he won't listen. He demands that Clara stay in the TARDIS so she won't meet herself, but she doesn't. Not either. She's seen a young boy looking out of the window, name of Rupert Pink, and she sneaks inside to talk to him.

Meanwhile The Doctor is posing as an inspector - at 2am (when's better?) and looking at his creepiest. He ends up in Rupert's room with Clara - and a shape under the blanket. Remi Gooding is awesome as the young Danny (Rupert) who had a dream that someone was under his bed. So Clara invites him under there to prove there's no one there, and suddenly the mattress above them drops down as though someone sat on the bed....

The Doctor is very cool in this scene, turning his back and urging Clara and Rupert to do the same so the shape can escape without being seen. Clara builds a plastic army of toy soldiers to guard under Rupert's bed. Dan the soldier man is in charge. Rupert goes to sleep courtesy of The Doctor, and he and Clara leave.

But Clara wants to return to the restaurant to see Danny right after her original self has left. She apologizes to Danny and they resume their date, but unfortunately, the date is interrupted by a man in a space suit appearing from the restaurant kitchen, and Danny starts perceiving Clara's bizarre behavior, including her knowledge that his childhood name was Rupert, as weird. Unfortunately when she pursues the astronaut back into the TARDIS to discover that it's not the Doctor, but Orson Pink - from one hundred years into the future, when time-travel has apparently been discovered and Orson was the first Chrononaut.

Unfortunately, he had lost control of the machine and traveled to the last planet in the universe. The physics of that is more weird than Danny ands Clara's date, but I'll let that go. The Doctor comes up with the fiction that the TARDIS has to recharge. He wants to see why Orson has written on his door "DON'T OPEN THE DOOR" and why the text can only be seen under the night lighting. Danny has a toy soldier - a family heirloom which brings luck.

With awesome Orson inside the TARDIS, The Doctor and Clara sit outside listening to the weird noises, and it's all explicable until there comes a triple tap on the door - several of them in succession. The Doctor unlocks the external door because he has to know if there's something outside. He forcefully orders Clara to return to the TARDIS and she complies. The door opens and the air is sucked out. The Doctor is almost sucked out too, but Orson grabs his hand at the last minute and stops him.

With The Doctor temporarily unconscious, and a fear rising that something might be trying to enter the TARDIS, Clara does a thing - it's not a plan it's a thing - and she reconnects herself to the TARDIS's circuits, piloting it away from the end of the universe to another location where a child sleeps restlessly in fear in a barn, and it slowly becomes apparent that the child is the young Doctor. Disturbed by two people coming in tro try and persuade The Doctor to return to the house, Clara hides under the bed and later grabs his leg to stop him walking away. She then realizes that she's the source of The Doctor's nightmares! She comforts this child and leaves.

Hands down the best ep this season. The second best ever for me, and a classic Moffat scary ep. I am so on-board with this season now after this one!

8.5Time Heist by Stephen Thompson and Steven Moffat (index)

Stephen Thompson wrote The Curse of the Black Spot, and Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS.

This ep begins with The Doctor trying to talk Clara into going on a trip with him while she gets ready for a date with Danny (Danny Boy?!). Clara is wearing pants!!! She must read my blog. She's also wearing ridiculously high heels. The Doctor is amazing in his lack of comprehension, but while it's funny, you have to wonder about his mentality given that he's spent the bulk of his time on Earth or with human companions, and still doesn't seem able to grasp the simplest of human activities.

The TARDIS phone rings. Maybe it's some woman in a shop? He still doesn't know who she is. As soon as he picks up the phone, he finds himself and Clara with two other people on planet Karabraxos - supposedly the most secure banking facility in the galaxy. All four of them have held the worm and lost memory of how they got there. The other two are a hacker/bank robber named Psi (really?) and a human who has a parasite which allows her to assume the shape of any person she touches. A recorded voice from the briefcase, which identifies itself as the Architect, tells the four of them that they must break into the bank. It seems pretty obvious at this point that the bank's director, Karabraxos, is being held prisoner in his own bank and wants them to free him.

Her name is Saibra, and she gets them into the bank proper by impersonating a known bank customer. Once they're inside, the alarm goes off and the doors all close, but the bank security chief, Ms. Delphox (played by Keeley Hawes, well-known for her appearance as a regular in another time-travel series...), approaches a different customer with an alien known as the Teller, who sucks the customer's brain out, leaving a huge indentation in the front of his cranium. Once the all-clear is given, the Doctor and his team use a device to displace the floor of an elevator to get down into the vaults, closing it after themselves and thereby eluding the pursuit, which has been initiated once again after Delphox discovered that the customer they had de-brained was not the one they were after.

Down in the guts of the bank, they discover another steel briefcase. There are devices in it which are reminiscent of antique syringes, but of which The Doctor denies knowledge. Saibra calls him a liar. They are actually atom extractors and The Doctor knows this - they literally disintegrate people The Doctor splits-up the team, leaving Clara with Psi to interface with a device on the wall, while he and Saibra go down another level into what appears to be a prison area. This gives us a chance to get the know Psi and Saibra a bit better, and it seems they have some back-story which is endearing and heart-rending - but could they be lying?

The four meet up again, and they're detected on the Service Level. They escape once again through a really convenient vent, and end up on the level where the Teller resides in a huge glass box. They try to sneak through, but Clara's thoughts are detected and then it locks on Saibra, who asks for help. The Doctor gives her a disintegrator and she promptly disappears.The Doctor appears completely unconcerned with her disappearance which suggests that she's not really dead.

Delphox turns the Teller loose in the vaults to capture The Doctor and his team. When it zeroes in on Clara, Psi saves her by downloading the history of every thief in the bank's memory core into his own memory and thereby attracts the Teller to him, whereupon he 'disintegrates' himself with the syringe device. Clara believes he died for nothing because the last lock on the vault remains intact Just as the Doctor is trying to figure out how to get through it, a message comes down that a solar flare is coming - obviously the Architect knew this - this is the only thing which could open the last lock.

In the vault there is something for everyone - a parasite remover for Saibra, a memory restorer for Psi, and what, for The Doctor? Well, it turns out that the Teller was working under duress - trying to protect its mate - the last of their kind. I was right in every guess I made in this show which is quite the opposite of what I usually do! This was fun and enjoyable, but nowhere near up to the standard of the previous episode.

8.6 The Caretaker by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat (index)

Gareth Roberts has written or co-written The Shakespeare Code, The Unicorn and the Wasp, Planet of the Dead, The Lodger, and Closing Time

I know I am really late getting this one up! This ep was inevitable in that Danny Pink, Clara's boyfriend, had to be introduced to The Doctor and the TARDIS at some point. This is, IMO all tied-in with Clara leaving this coming Xmas.

The Doctor is trying to neutralize a Skovox Blitzer, which is a mechanical creature looking like a cross between a Cyberman and the skinners from the Falling Skies TV series. The Doctor, of course, runs into Danny, not knowing he's Clara's boyfriend, and disses him because he is a soldier. You may recall he had the same response to the soldier (Journey) in the Into the Dalek who wanted to join him in the TARDIS. This makes me wonder, a bit, if she's going to end-up being Clara's replacement, because the Doctor warms to Danny over the course of this ep. They did this before, remember: in a Dalek ep when Amy & Rory were leaving and we met Clara for ther first time?

The Doctor tries to temporally displace the Blitzer a billion years hence, but due to Danny's unintentional interference, it gets displaced only a couple of days. Fortunately, when it returns, The Doctor is able to use commands, reminiscent of the commands used on the Mechanoids in the old series (first Doctor) ep titled The Chase, and save the planet - again. Once more at the end, we see a character who supposedly died in the show turn up in the 'promised land' with the mysterious woman.

This was an acceptable ep. Nothing fantastical or outstanding, but a solid Doctor Who show. One interesting event is that high-schooler Courtney Woods (yeay family name - nearly!) discovers the Doctor is an alien with a time machine, and she gets a ride in the TARDIS. I'm not sure what that's all about. She seems too young to be a potential companion (at least as measured by the ages of his recent companions), but it’s a rare event that some random person gets such treatment. Portentous for the future? I don’t know. I guess we'll see.

8.7 Kill The Moon by Peter Harness (index)

Well the title, it turned out, was quite literal! This was an interesting and mixed feelings ep. Interesting because Courtney Woods has now become a legitimate companion of The Doctor, disappointing because the science sucked in this ep. Shame on Peter Harness. At least, Courtney's a companion if you define 'companion' as someone who has traveled in the TARDIS and shared a complete adventure with The Doctor. This made me wonder even more if she's being groomed as Clara's replacement.

This was a Danny-light ep, and from the previews, next week's looks like it's a companion-light ep, which makes me wonder if Flatline is going to be a Doctor-light ep. This story opens dramatically with Clara speaking to all of Earth and telling them that they have only 45 minutes to decide Earth's future - all human life versus an innocent life. This is actually nonsense as we shall see.

After the opening titles, we rewind to an earlier point when we see Clara chewing-out the Doctor for his unfortunate effect on Courtney due to his harsh reaction after she threw-up in the TARDIS on her first trip. Clara wants the Doctor to tell her she's special, and he counters by asking her if she'd like to be the first woman on the moon - is that special enough, he wonders.

On arrival in the Moon's vicinity The Doctor immediately starts wondering why the Moon's gravity feels exactly like Earth's, but he's not actually on the Moon - the three of them are in a space shuttle about to land on the Moon, and I have to say that it stops in an amazingly short distance. I also wondered about the Moon's increased gravity once I discovered the "reason" we were given for it. Writer Harness seems not to understand that mass and weight are not the same thing. As wikipedia explains it, a person on the Moon (which is exactly the situation in this episode!), would weigh only one sixth of their Earth weight, but they would still have the same mass.<.p>
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The only way their weight would increase would be if the mass of the Moon increased, thereby exerting more force upon them, which is what we're told is happening, but the explanation for this is that the Moon is an egg, containing a living thing, which would suggest that its mass is actually less, not more than before, unless the living thing was more dense than Moon rock!

There's a bad continuity error here, too, and this centers on the Doctor's space suit. When he first steps out of the TARDIS, his helmet is connected to his suit via a tube coming out of the back of the helmet. Later, this tube disappears from the helmet, as though he actually doesn't need to breathe!

The Doctor discovers that the "room" they're in is in fact a modified space shuttle (no explanation on how they actually got it to the Moon!), containing several nuclear bombs. It turns out that the Mexicans (how the Mexicans developed a space program and made it to the Moon by 2049 when they're not even remotely interested in space travel in one in 2014 is miraculous.

A second continuity error pops up when The Doctor is threatened by three British astronauts (no word on how or why they were trusted with the US shuttle!) led by Commander Lundvik, a woman, and he tells them he's an alien who can regenerate indefinitely. The Doctor is on his last reincarnation now and will not regenerate unless Steven Moffat comes up with some magic. Obviously he will, otherwise the series is over, but unless I missed something, he hasn't yet.

It turns out that the three astronauts are on the Moon to discover why the Mexicans were all wiped out. They brought 100 nukes with them in order to destroy whatever alien presence is there - whatever it is leaves webs everywhere. They hike over to the Mexican compound and power it up, and immediately remove their helmets. No word on whether there is enough air, or whether the air is bad, or how it managed to pressurize immediately, or why it isn't freezing in there! Bad science Peter Harness.

They encounter a large spider-like creature which naturally attacks them. The spider cannot see but detects movement. how this works on an airless body like the Moon goes unexplained. The Doctor determines that the spider is a single-celled organism. No word on how it grew so large and managed to develop jointed legs. They use the "spider"'s attack on one of the other astronauts as a chance to escape the room, but Courtney is left behind.

As the door shuts on her, gravity is magically suspended, and she immediately floats upwards. Why? Yes, there's no gravity, but she wasn't moving - there is no reason at all why she would immediately float upwards! I've seen this dumb happening in too many sci-fi shows. Lack of gravity does not equal floating. It 'equals' inertia. If you'e not moving anywhere, you remain not moving when gravity is switched off. if you're moving, then you continue in that same direction until you collide with something, or until you manage to change your direction with a gas gun or a tether, or something!

Why catching the Doctor's Yo-Yo would return gravity to the room is as much a mystery as why gravity vanished! But kudos to Courtney for killing the "spider" with what looked like window cleaner, but was supposedly disinfectant! However, at this point, Courtney has had enough and wants to go home. They take her back to the TARDIS where she starts asking about video games and reception, which was hilarious, although practically she would have asked this much earlier than here and now.

Clara, the Doctor, and the only remaining of the three astronauts go in search of the "spider" den out on the Moon's surface, and when they approach it, the Doctor is attacked by one of the critters. Clara fights it off as Courtney did - with the spray disinfectant. WRONG! The spray works with a pump which pumps air into the bottle which in turn forces the liquid out. It worked for Courtney because there was air in the building, but there is no air on the Moon's exposed surface (not that you'd notice without lab instruments). The spray would never work! Bad, bad Peter Harness!

The Doctor screws up again when he describes the organism that;s gestating inside the moon as weight 1.3 billion tons, but if the moon is nothing but a shell filled with this creature, then it's several orders of magnitude shy of a Moon mass! The Moon "weighs in" on the order of scores of quintillions of tons, not billions. This was a major, major screw-up. Even if this creature had grown and added a billion tons to the Moon's mass (how?!) it would be so small a change as to make no real difference to Earth-Moon interaction.

The Doctor, in danger of becoming a minor character in his own show, once again diminishes himself by leaving the decision over whether to destroy the creature to Clara and Lundvik, the astronaut commander. He literally leaves the Moon (or so he leads them to believe), and Clara and Lundvik argue it out.

This is when Clara gets on the world-wide broadcast and asks people to leave their lights on if they want to save the creature, or turn them off if they want it killed. This, of course gives only 40 minutes time - a chance for only a tiny fraction of people to "vote", and it excludes pretty much everyone in Africa unless they're well off and live in a large city and the vote is dumb because people can control only their house lights - they can't control street lighting, etc, yet all the lights start going out en masse! Ridiculous!

Lundvik decides to set the bomb, Clara immediately stops it, and the creature emerges - and flies away leaving a disintegrated moon behind. The Doctor immediately re-materializes and spirits all of them to a beach on Earth (probably near Cardiff!), where they can see a full moon in the sky - yet their shadows are falling slightly in front of them. I don't see how the sun at that angle can give a Moon that's pretty much full! Bad science!

The best part of the entire ep is the end where Clara sets upon The Doctor saying, "Tell me what you knew Doctor, else I'll smack you so hard you'll regenerate." Clara owns the Doctor! I swear to god, she was magnificent here. The Doctor seems to indicate that the female president of the USA in 2049 was in fact Courtney Woods herself! How an English born woman could ever get to be president is a complete mystery.

The ep ends with Clara telling the Doctor to go away - a long away away, and then hugging a warm and helpful Danny for some comfort after being forced into a decision about saving Earth. So a sub-standard ep with some really great character dynamics.

8.8 Mummy On The Orient Express by Jamie Mathieson (index)

Jamie Mathieson has written for the Brit TV series, Being Human. He's the writer behind both this and next week's episode.

Despite swearing (not quite literally swearing, but near as dammit is to swearing...) off The Doctor and his cynical view of life and people, and his lies, we start this ep right off with The Doctor and Clara arriving on the Orient Express - which is, like the Titanic in one of David Tenant's Xmas eps: it's an Earth means of transportation which has been replicated as a space craft, but which retains its Earth appearance - in this case as a steam train.

Immediately prior to The Doctor's arrival, a mummy appeared, focused on the oldest passenger, and killed her by applying its hands to either side of her head. No one but she could see the mummy, and everyone thought her time had simply come.

Post-ceding The Doctor's arrival, another person on the train is attacked in the same manner, but this time it's an employee in the kitchen, someone relatively young this time, who dies.

The Doctor discusses the legend of "The Foretold" with an expert who happens to be aboard the train. This mummy appears, is seen only by the victim, and takes precisely 66 seconds from appearance to the death of the victim. The Doctor focuses on what kind of thing it is which recycles in 66 seconds, and what the connection is between the victims.

The answers to these two questions come quickly - the teleporter used by the mummy takes this amount of time to recycle, and the victims are the weakest ones amongst the possible candidates because of health conditions. At this point, the train's AI, which insists upon being called Gus, announces that it has brought the world's foremost experts on "The Foretold" to try and capture it, and that it will continue to claim victims until they solve the puzzle.

Meanwhile, Clara, who for the first time this season, takes a backseat to the Doctor, finds herself locked in a storage car with another young passenger, Maisie, companion to the old woman who died at the start. As it happens, this passenger is the next victim to be chosen, and the lock on the storage room automatically releases, providing Clara and Maisie with a means of egress.

They join The Doctor, who manages to wangle a thing which transfers the criteria from the originally intended victim to himself, so that the mummy rests and starts tracking him. His comment, “Are you my mummy?” was LoL hilarious! He quickly runs through all manner of possible explanations for its behavior and motive, and hits upon the truth. The mummy is an ancient wounded soldier who thinks the war is still going on, and is killing off the enemy per orders. When The Doctor surrenders, the soldier steps down. When The Doctor announces that the soldier is discharged from his duty, he immediately turns to dust.

This is when Gus goes psycho and starts extracting all the air out of the train. Deus ex machina time, wherein The Doctor is the deus, and the TARDIS is the machina. Everyone is saved (except those who already died, and for some reason this time traveler can never go back and fix the problem with his new-found knowledge, can he?

This was okay, but rather average when all is said and done. There were plot holes galore - most notably in the problem of the 66 second recycling time. If it took that long, how was the mummy able to teleport several times each trip out? Having said that, the Doctor finally came to the fore, and the humor was good. He and Clara seem to have not so much resolved their difficulties as called a truce, so she's back on board, literally. There was no end-of-show visit to The Promised Land this time out. Why not? And why am I asking you? We'll see how Flatline goes next week - it's by the same writer.

8.9 Flatline by Jamie Mathieson (index)

Jamie Mathieson has written for the Brit TV series, Being Human. He's the writer behind both this and last week's episode.

So ignoring the pointless pre-credits scene and rolling right into one of the most fascinating episodes I've seen in a while, The Doctor and Clara, having come back from a trip to which we haven't been a party, discover that not only are they 120 miles away from their targeted landing, the TARDIS has shrunk to about a third of its normal size - on the outside. It's still the same size on the inside. The two of them can squeeze out through the smaller doors only with difficulty.

It turns out that people are missing - many of them - and the police aren't really doing much about it. While The Doctor tries to figure out some things, Clara wanders off to try and find clues. She hooks up with a guy name Riggsy who is on a work detail cleaning up graffiti, some of which is quite attractive - but weird - like the one inside an under-street tunnel which features a line of people on each wall, all facing away from the viewer.

Clara returns to discover the TARDIS has shrunk even further - to the size of a small loaf of bread, and The Doctor is inside, unable to get out. Riggsy takes Clara - set up with technology so The Doctor can see and hear everything she can - to the home of one of the disappeared. There's a strange mural on one wall which looks like a close-up of a parched lake-bed showing cracked irregular patterns.

At a second home, they run into a police woman who quickly disappears into the carpet, which we see, but neither Clara nor Riggsy witness. All that remains is a pattern on the wall, but this time it's not the lake bed, it's a map of the human nervous system. The Doctor realizes that the lake bed is actually an extreme close-up of human skin.

Whoever is doing this is studying human anatomy in detail. As Clara and Riggsy look around the empty room, they see these beings slithering across the carpet and up the walls. They get into a chair which is suspended on a chain from the ceiling, and by swinging it, they break the chain and fly out the window.

They return to the work detail in the tunnel where the human murals were, and the murals suddenly start turning around on the wall. The party flees into a diesel train repair shed, and tries to make a plan. Clara suddenly realizes that she needs to behave like The Doctor: taking charge, lying, getting people to do what she needs them to do to keep them safe.

The Doctor tries to communicate with these beings, which he now realizes are two-dimensional, but the only communication seems to be one way - with the 2-D beings announcing who their next victim is from the number on his uniform.

When the 2Ds take over another of the party, they take the only exit from the building down into the underground rail tunnels, but the door they would take next has been flattened - the wheel they would turn to open it is now 2D, not 3D and thus unusable. The Doctor's 2D reverser fails to work, and suddenly a giant 3D hand grabs yet another of the party.

After employing version two of The Doctor's dimensional reverser, they manage to get through the door, and Clara flattens it, but the 2D beings 3D it again. Meanwhile the tiny TARDIS falls down a shaft - and ends up on the underground railroad line. It's so weak now that if the oncoming train hits it, it will be destroyed. The Doctor has to stick his hand out the doors and "walk" the TARDIS clear!

Stuck in the tunnel, the TARDIS shrunk to a cube and out of power, Clara decides to use the train to ram the oncoming 2D people. It fails. The train ends up like a mural and the 3D people keep on coming. Clara comes up with a brilliant solution, and manages to trick the 2D people into recharging the TARDIS.

This enables the TARDIS to return to normal and the Doctor to power a barricade preventing the 2D-ers from reaching the 3D people. Then he destroys them. This was the best episode so far this season and one of the best Doctor Who Episodes ever.

8.10 In The Forest Of The Night by Frank Cottrell Boyce (index)

This is one of my favorites already. We begin by observing Maebh, a young student at Coal Hill school, running through a forest rather weirdly until she stops dead at the TARDIS. The Doctor appears when she knocks, and he discovers that London is awash with trees and other vegetation.

Moving to the Natural History Museum, we see that teachers Clara Oswald and Danny Pink are chaperoning some supposedly 'gifted and talented' students on an overnight stay, but when they awake and leave, they, too, discover that London is covered in vegetation which wasn't there the previous day. Clara is a bit peeved that The Doctor already knows of the phenomenon. Danny is a bit peeved to discover that Clara is still in touch with The Doctor. It turns out that the entire globe is covered. How it is that trees are growing all across the ocean is a mystery, though.

The teachers lead the small group to Trafalgar Square to pick-up Maebh. The Doctor's working theory is that this is some sort of invasion and he and Clara try to figure out who could be behind it and what, exactly, they're doing. All through all these exchanges we get dished out small clues as to what’s really going on.

The students are the kings of this ep. They're delightful and hilarious, and their comments are the wisest coming out anyone's mouth. Harley Bird, who plays Ruby, is a stand-out. She easily steals this show. Ellis George, who plays Cortney Woods was really subdued in this ep.

In the TARDIS, Danny discover's the homework books from Clara's class, and knows she's been marking the books while hanging out with the Doctor. The top one in the pile is Maebh's, and in it she depicts a solar storm striking Earth. The date of the "homework" is the current day's date. She has evidently somehow been in communication with the "invaders"! Clara and Danny keep telling everyone that Maebh's traumatized when her sister Annabel disappeared, and that she has to take special medication to control her extravagant behavior.

Noting that Maebh has once again wandered off (these teachers are chronically lousy at minding their kids), The Doctor and Clara (much to Danny's annoyance) wander off after her. They discover that she's leaving a trail of her personal items so they can follow her. She encounters across wolves (evidently escaped from the zoo), making her reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood in her red hooded jacket.

The Doctor and Clara find Maebh, who spurns Clara's dramatic attempt to haul her over the fence which separates them, by sauntering along and using the nearby gate! This kind of thing happens repeatedly, the adults being embarrassed each time. The wolves which she feared were chasing her, jump the fence, but do not attack. They’re running from something themselves and aren't interested in humans because they're being pursued by a tiger. Just as The Doctor, Maebh, and Clara are wondering how they'll fare with the tiger, Danny arrives and shines his flashlight into its eyes, scaring it away. Hm!

The Doctor uses his sonic to increase gravity around Maebh somewhat, which slows down what she's seeing, just enough to let everyone see them - they're tiny lights, like fairies or fireflies, and they speak through Maebh, explaining that they've been here forever, and will be here long after The Doctor has gone. They come out at times like this to protect the Earth.

The Doctor thinks Earth is doomed by the solar flare that's beginning to erupt. The science is really bad here. A solar flare isn't the same as fire. It's potentially dangerous radiation, which can screw up satellites, but it tends not to be dangerous to Earth or humans. It's not like a flame coming down and burning-up the planet. A flame couldn't survive in space where there's no oxygen!

Everyone concludes that Earth is going to be destroyed, and The Doctor offers to save the children, but Clara asks him what he would do with them, and he has no answer. He offers to save her and Danny. She says Danny would never leave the kids. He offers to save her and she says rather cruelly that she doesn't want to be the last of her kind (like him!).

When the flare hits, the excess oxygen produced by the excess trees somehow "eats up" the flare and Earth is spared. Then the trees magically turn into fireflies and disappear. None of the kids see this because they all want to go home. When Maebh returns home with her mom, they discover that Annabel has magically re-appeared or no apparent reason.

Yes, there were plot holes galore and appalling science, but this ep was hilarious. I loved it. It just goes to prove that you can tell a really bad story in a really good way and I'll be on board!

8.11 Dark Water by Steven Moffat (index)

This one is a weird and wonderful ep. In which we finally discover who Missy is - the woman who has been collecting bodies throughout this season so far, and who has appeared at the end of every ep but one.

We begin rather disturbingly with the death of Danny, caused by Clara! He's walking through a park on his way over to her flat when she calls him. She has a gazillion things to discuss, all listed on an array of yellow post-it notes in her flat. She tells him this can't wait until he arrives, and she picks the most important one first, telling Danny that she loves him - that this isn't just words, but it's the last time she will ever say this to anyone, because he now owns that phrase from her.

Danny is so bemused by what she's saying that he walks right out into traffic and is hit and killed by a car. Clara loses it and visits The Doctor, but instead of simply asking him to go back in time and fix it, she surreptitiously steals all seven of his TARDIS keys and then threatens him. He's on a lava-strewn plant and she slowly tosses the keys into the lava until there are none left, demanding that he fix this. The Doctor refuses to accede to her blackmail. Good for him.

This makes absolutely zero sense since The Doctor can open the TARDIS with a snap of his fingers (as indeed can Clara). However, it turns out that the controller patch she thought was controlling The Doctor doesn't work on him. Instead, he applied one to her, so none of this actually happened outside of Clara's imagination - she never left the TARDIS. Despite The Doctor's anger and feelings of betrayal, he agrees to help her, but inexplicably, he doesn't do this by piloting the TARDIS to the park and keeping Danny from ever going into the road. Instead he attaches Clara to the TARDIS telepathic circuit and she pilots it to where Danny is now.

He is, of course in the same location as Missy. This location (the promised land is now known as 3W for 'three words' - don't cremate me) appears to be a sort of mausoleum, where what appear to be skeletons (although not human as judged by the rib cage configuration) are sitting in large tanks of some sort of blue-ish fluid called dark water, but the skeletons can move their heads. Exploring, The Doctor and Clara encounter Missy - supposedly an android - who kisses The Doctor on the lips!

Meanwhile Danny, at the same facility, is being interviewed by Seb, who introduces him to a young Arab boy he killed unintentionally, while trying to ferret out terrorists in the Middle East. He next learns that he has an unusual call - from Clara! Clara and The Doctor are being entertained by a Mr Chang, who shows them that the liquid which houses the skeletons shows only organic material - he tells them that the skeletons are encased in a protective suit which doesn't show.

As she talks to Danny, and on The Doctor's advice, she tries to ask him questions which will reveal if it's really him. Danny isn't helpful because he doesn't want Clara to join him in his death. Seb leads Danny away with the offer of removing his emotions. As The Doctor leaves with Chang, we note the peculiar pattern on the twin doors to the room - two circular windows with smaller circles on the lower edge looking just like Cyberman eyes! The tanks begin to drain and we see the Cybermen now revealed.

Missy leads The Doctor outdoors to show him where they actually are - and it turns out it's St Paul's Cathedral (which was also used in a much older episode featuring the Cybermen). As the Cybermen start wandering outdoors, Missy reveals to The Doctor who she is. Missy is short for Mistress because she explains, since she's now female, she cannot continue to refer to herself as The Master! Too cool!

8.12 Death In Heaven by Steven Moffat (index)

This is part two of the previous week's story wherein we discover that the Master has regenerated as a female, now calling herself The Mistress, or 'Missy' for short. Missy is quite insane. She exhibits a lot of traits in common with the previous master, and both of them have more in common with The Joker of the Christopher Nolan Batman movie trilogy than they do with previous incarnations of the Master from the show!

Clara's shock announcement that she is The Doctor is seemingly supported in the opening credits as her eyes appear in place of The Doctor's, and even the credits are reversed, giving her top billing. But it's all a fraud. Clara is simply trying to fool the Cybermen with a little misdirection as she recounts The Doctor's history - which she knows better than anyone, having been all up and down his time-stream.

She says she (as The Doctor) has been married four times, which would be to the grandmother of his original companion (Susan Foreman), to Marilyn Monroe, to Elizabeth 1, and to River Song. Clara further declares that The Doctor's children and grandchildren are missing except for his cloned child Jenny.

Outside the cathedral, The Doctor is still trying to assimilate Missy's revelation when apparently innocent bystanders reveal themselves to be agents of UNIT, with Kate Lethbridge-Stewart coordinating everything. The Cybermen reveal a new trait: on par with the Dalek revelation that they can levitate, the Cybermen have rocket boots, and take off into the sky, each of the ninety-one of them heading for a different British population center.

The group discovers that every major city in every nation is being similarly invaded. The Cyberman in the air over London suddenly explodes, turning into a thick, black cloud, which starts spreading all across the city. The cloud eventually begins to rain, and The Doctor figures out what's going on: each Cyberman is constructed of cells which can in turn, create a new Cyberman. Missy and the Cybermen were working together to find a way to resurrect the dead as Cybermen, and thereby take over Earth. From that launching pad, they could not lose any battle because every one they killed would join them.

At Kate's signal, the UNIT people shoot both Missy and The Doctor with tranquilizers and load them onto a airplane. Later it's explained that this is the new protocol for Earth invasion - secure The Doctor and make him president of Earth. He's now in charge of every army on the planet.

Meanwhile, back in the Nethersphere, Danny, has chosen not to delete his emotions despite the emotional pain. He's informed that all of the captured souls are now being released to take over the resurrected bodies. In another area, Clara is still trying to convince the Cybermen not to delete her since she's The Doctor. Just as she's about to fail in this quest, a fourth Cyberman arrives and kills the other three. Clara wakes up in a graveyard with Cybermen wandering aimlessly around. They're in process of "booting up". One Cyberman is much more focused and motivated, and when he takes off his mask, a very dead-looking Danny is discovered underneath. He demands that Clara pull off the circular plate on his chest, to reach the control which will delete his emotions. In a continuity error, this plate alternately appears on his chest and is then missing, depending upon the camera view.

Osgood - the scientist from the 50th anniversary up is also on the plane, and she's not too smart. In a pointless bit of subterfuge, the Mistress tricks her into coming close so she can whisper a secret, but the secret is only that Osgood will be killed. When she walks away, she's distracted by finding handcuffs in her lab coat pocket and this gives The Mistress sufficient time to teleport over to her and kill her along with the two security guards.

When Kate and The Doctor arrive in the cargo bay, Missy blows the main door and Kate is sucked out into the air. Missy dematerializes, and The Doctor is also sucked out when the plane explodes. He is able to plummet to the falling TARDIS and enter it before he hits the ground. For The Doctor, this is conceivable - he has a different physiology, but for Kate to survive, is nonsensical. She would have suffocated from lack of air at that altitude long before she ever died from hitting the ground! With The Doctor, Clara, Danny in the graveyard, it's time for Missy to arrive, and she does so floating down with an umbrella like Mary Poppins, which was hilariously inspired, and which made me LOL.

She presents control of the Cybermen as a birthday present to The Doctor, but he hands it off to Danny who leads the Cybermen into the sky to destroy the 'cyber-pollen' which is threatening now to turn all living humans into Cybermen. Clara finds Kate lying in the cemetery, alone. They ponder how she survived when The Doctor realizes that one last Cyberman who is watching them is actually the resurrected Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, her father, who did not turn off his emotions either, and saved his daughter from death by falling.

Missy, condemned to death, gives The Doctor the coordinates to Gallery, claiming it's still in the place where it originally was. As Danny blasts her, it seems that she dematerializes and escapes. The Doctor visits the coordinates and there is no Gallery. Missy lied! This business of his inability to find his home world is nonsensical when he could simply connect with the TARDIS's telepathic circuits - as Clara did to find Danny - and go straight home!

Clara wakes up one night to hear Danny's voice. He has a transportation device to return home, but he uses it to return the young boy he accidentally killed when he was a soldier, meaning that he's still trapped there (why The Doctor cannot go get him is another question which remains unanswered). When she later meets with The Doctor, she assumes he has found Gallifrey, and he assumes Danny has returned, and neither corrects the other, so they part in mutual ignorance.

Back in the TARDIS, someone knocks on the door and then it opens to reveal Santa Claus. I wonder if The Doctor will ask for Danny to be returned, or if he will ask for Gallifrey to be revealed? This was a rather disppointing finale to what has been a slightly less than thrilling debut for the new Doctor. It's been OK, but nothing special - with the exception of one or two eps which I really enjoyed as detailed above.

Moffat has done an interesting job of bringing back every major player this season: the Victorian London trio headed by Vastra, the Daleks (although I'm still left wondering why we had the new rainbow Daleks introduced, when they've never been used since), the Cybermen and so on, but not a single visit from, or mention of, River Song. I wonder why? Is she, in the last analysis to be only the bride of the young Doctors? Is Capaldi too old to have a flirty and vivacious partner like River? I guess we'll see in the coming seasons.

8.12 The Last Christmas by Steven Moffat (index)

In a story which borrows heavily both from the movie Aliens and the movie Inception This year's Xmas special begins with Clara waking-up on Xmas eve to unidentified noises, eventually winding up on the roof of her home, where an apparent Santa and two elves are trying to get Santa's sleigh airborne again after it evidently crash-landed on the roof, littering it with tangerines - a fruit which becomes an ongoing joke throughout this show.

The Doctor arrives and whisks Clara away to the North Pole where they encounter several scientists who are ensconced in a research station which is under assault from creatures known as 'dream crabs' which, just as in the Aliens movie, cover the victim's face, but in this case they do not lay an egg in the victim's stomach. Instead they make the victims dream whatever fantasies they have whilst turning their brains to mush as their life energy is sucked out.

As a new attack begins, Santa shows up and rescues them. He hands over a 'crab in a jar' - a sample of the organism which is attacking them. It's at this point that The Doctor and Clara fess up about the lies they told to each other in their last meeting: Danny has not returned from the after-life, and The Doctor did not find Gallifrey.

As they turn their attention to investigating the crabs, one of them takes over Clara and the Doctor voluntarily allows himself to be taken over so he can 'go into Clara's dream' and rescue her. Clara is dreaming that Danny is still alive and she's spending Xmas with him. She doesn't want to go back to reality, and ignoring all entreaties to do so, but eventually he gets through to her, and Clara accepts the reality of Danny's death. Both of them return, seeing the crabs turn to dust after being rejected by their host.

It's at this point that the Doctor belatedly realizes that the four inhabitants of the research station and the four victims of the crabs are the same people, and that they are in fact, in a dream already. One of the original four succumbs to the crabs, but the other three, plus The Doctor and Clara, escape on Santa's sleigh. Clara reminds The Doctor that they saw Santa before they ever arrived at the Arctic base, and so must all still be dreaming. One by one, they wake up and disappear from the sleigh.

The Doctor visits Clara who it appears, is now old. Once free of the crab, they pull a Christmas cracker together and Santa arrives. Realizing this is still a dream, The Doctor wakes up, seeing his crab dissolve. He rushes to Clara's flat and frees her, too, discovering that it hasn't been over half a century since he last saw her, but only a short time, and she still looks very much the same. They resolve to continue traveling together, dispelling all the rumors that Clara would be leaving the show after this ep. A very welcome sign appears on the screen at the end announcing that the two of them will be back in a new series, which has already begun filming (yes, I'm, shamefully late in posting this!).

I have to say that this is the second Xmas special in a row which has left me feeling a wee bit flat. It wasn't bad by any means, but it wasn't really thrilling, either. Moffat has announced a spectacular new season to come, so I'm looking forward to that, hoping it will be better than last year which again, for me, was fine, but which wasn't anything remarkable.

I have to remark upon what a great Santa Nick Frost was. He was perfect in the role, and one of the few actors to portray Santa who has a really appropriate name for the role! He and the shop girl, Shona McCullough, played by Faye Marsay were the stand-outs. The Christmas dance award goes without question to Marsay for her bizarre gyrations through the medical bay where the 'crabbed people' are lying - designed to distract her from thinking about the crabs, which would then attack her. Let's quietly ignore the fact that there was absolutely no reason for her to be in there in the first place!

9.1 The Magician's Apprentice by Steven Moffat (index)

Doctor who is back and better than ever. This was a double-episode, but shown over two weekends. The story begins on Skaro (which is pretty obvious to anyone who has been following the show, and especially if you had seen the fourth Doctor story Genesis of the Daleks). A boy finds himself trapped in a field of 'hand mines', and the soldier who is trying to help him is suddenly pulled down as a hand which has risen from the mud sucks him in. The boy is now surrounded by hands, and The Doctor magically appears, tossing him a sonic screwdriver and advising him to take that one chance in a thousand, and get himself out of there. .

When he asks the boy his name, and is told 'Davros' The Doctor leaves abruptly. I think it would have been so cool had this doctor been played by Peter Davison, who is the Fifth Doctor and the one who lost his sonic screwdriver, but it was played by Peter Capaldi. Much later in time, an agent working on behalf of Davros - the creator of the Daleks, and going by the name of Colony Sarff - visits the Moldanarium and the shadow proclamation looking for the Doctor. he has a message from Davros, and finally delivers this when he arrives on Karn, birthplace of the war Doctor. Sarff leaves without knowing that the Doctor is actually there on the planet listening to him, and returns to Davros, who advises him that the best way to find the Doctor is to find his companion.

Still teaching the works of Jane Austen in the classroom, Clara, that very companion notices that an airplane is paused in the sky. She gets a call from UNIT and leaves immediately on her motorbike. There, she gets a message from Missy who invites her to, maybe, Spain, for a meeting. Missy is her usual evil self, but Clara, who is looking older and tired, learns that Missy received the Doctor's last confession, a disk a Time Lord will deliver to a close friend upon the event of his impending death. Clara can't deal with the idea that Missy, his arch enemy, is also The Doctor's best friend, but she finally figures out where The Doctor is likely to be and travels there via Missy's vortex manipulator.

Landing in Essex, England, in 1138, Clara and Missy are intrigued to discover the doctor arriving in an arena, on a tank, playing an electric guitar (and yes, that's actually Capaldi playing it). Colony Sarff is there, and we discover the meaning of his name - he's a snake colony posing as a person, hence the oddly layered nature of his face. This is an idea right out of Greg Bear's 1993 novel Anvil of Stars (which I recommend reading after reading its prequel The Forge of God), where he depicts an alien species known as braids, which are sentient beings comprised of cords, which themselves are snake-like or centipede like beings which are not so smart when separated. The Colony Sarff builds upon that.

When the Doctor is taken aboard a ship, Clara and Missy go along for the ride only to find themselves abandoned in what appears to be an orbiting prison, but both the Doctor and Missy have realized that the prison is actually a building on a planet - Skaro as it turns out - where the entire planet has been hidden from view, but which comes crashing back as soon as Missy and Clara step out and think about it. Now Clara is looking younger and more playful again. Missy realizes where they are and she gets scared, which is a weird sight to see. Skaro looks in a lot better shape here than it did during the Asylum of the Daleks episode. No explanation is offered for that. The two are taken prisoner and apparently executed, but we all know that's not going to happen. Missy used the same trick here are she did in the Cybermen episode - she used the energy fired at her to power her vortex manipulator and escape. She also rescued Clara, for reasons unknown, but we do not learn of this until part two of this story.

Meanwhile, the Doctor is with Davros, and the two are almost like old lovers. The Doctor had begged ion his knees for Clara's salvation but been denied, and he also saw his beloved TARDIS apparently obliterated, but this doesn't bother him. Davros is trying to get the Doctor to Admit that compassion is a fatal weakness. As the episode ends, the Doctor is shown back on that field of battle with the trapped kid, and as he points a Dalek gun towards the boy, he calls out, "Exterminate!"

I loved this ep, despite having some issues with the unpredictable behavior of Missy. Yes, she's insane, but there's method to her madness, yet here she seems way too concerned about The Doctor's welfare, and she saves Clara. This made no sense. It wasn't like this gained her anything or fit into any plan, and in part two, she deliberately tried to get Clara killed. That aside, the portrayal of Missy was a constant delight She completely stole this entire show even away from the estimable Clara.

9.2 The Witch's Familiar by Steven Moffat (index)

The Witch's Familiar

This closes the opening two parter for season nine. As expected, both Missy and Clara survived the Dalek attack and are now back outside the city again, Clara hanging upside down via a rope, which missy cuts her down from when they decide to go back into the city. No word on whence the rope materialized!

The only way to get back in is to go through the Dalek sewer, which is full of Dalek waste - literally Decomposing Daleks - but has a curiously clean and flat floor. Missy uses Clara as bait for a Dalek and then forces her into the empty casing, where she's locked in and her voice is now curiously Dalek distorted. She can't say her name - the voice translates it as "I am a Dalek" not as "I am Clara".

The Doctor meanwhile yanks Davros out of his wheelchair and rides in it to visit the Dalek control center. They can't harm him because of a force field, yet the Doctor never once thinks of stealing that technology and spreading it amongst the stars so people can protect themselves from Dalek attack. He is trying to discover where Clara is, but the Daleks think she is dead. Colony Sarff appears, disintegrates in his own non-Dalek destruction fashion, and overpowers The Doctor, bypassing the force field.

Davros tells The Doctor that the life support he's on is failing him, and the Doctor volunteers to share a fraction of his regeneration energy - although how he can now summon it at will is a bit of a mystery. He used to be able only to get it when he was newly regenerated. Davros then reveals his real plan all along - to use The Doctor 's energy to empower the Daleks to make them even more powerful than they have been, but the plan backfires as the Doctor's energy leaks into the sewers and revitalizes all of the Dalek decomposition, which leaks up and destroys the Daleks in the City.

Not having been present when the Dalek asked for Mercy during the episode in the British Museum (before River Song killed it), The Doctor could not grasp how the Dalek in which Clara resided, could have asked for mercy. it should not be a concept they even grasped, and it's this which prevents him from killing it, and how he discovered Clara was inside. Realizing it's something he did, he returns to the Skaro of the past, and rescues the little boy, using the Dalek gun to wipe out the hand mines surrounding him.

9.3 Under the Lake by Toby Whithouse (index)

Set in 2119 on the bed an artificial lake in Caithness, a county on the very north-eastern tip of the mainland of Scotland. It used to be a village and a military facility, and then the area was dammed, if not damned, and flooded. Inexplicably, an underwater research facility was then built, but the facility, like the one on Mars in the ep. The waters of Mars is unbelievably badly designed, with long useless corridors which occupy space that serves no purpose other than, in this case, to grow mold from the incessant condensation.

When the Doctor arrives with Clara, he notes that the TARDIS does not want to be there, which begs the question as to why it flew there in the first place. It soon becomes apparent that the problem here is the visitation of apparent ghosts, connected with an alien spacecraft which was found under the water, and brought into the base - and which curious fits precisely onto the raised pad where it sits. The spacecraft appears to be empty; it has no seats and a large raised area in the middle rather like an altar. It also has four unintelligible characters crawled on the wall, which the TARDIS cannot interpret. As it turns out, everyone who sees these characters is subject to being overcome by the "ghosts" and turned into a ghost themselves, which explains why the Doctor and Clara escape such attention: they had not seen those characters when they first encountered the ghosts.

Soon they meet with the crew of the facility, and it becomes apparent that the ghosts are chanting four words or phrases. Later this turns out to be really obscure and idiotic "directions" to Earth from some interstellar location. They are idiotic, because, as the Doctor explains, the direction refer to the belt of the Orion constellation, which supposedly points like an arrow directly at Earth. The problem with this is that there's no such belt. there are stars which appear, from Earth, to form a slightly crooked line are light years apart from any perspective other than near our sun. The line quite clearly does not point to Earth, and even if it did, it wouldn't even remotely tell visitors exactly where the craft was located!

If the belt did point to earth, it would not look like a belt or in this case a direction arrow to us! We wouldn't see three stars since they would be aligned behind one another. As it is, they're perpendicular to a direction to Earth! In reality, the belt consists of three bright "stars" Zeta, Epsilon, and Delta. Zeta is actually a triple star roughly 800 light years away, Epsilon is 1,340 light years away, and Delta is 1,200 light years away, so the stars don't even form a straight line. In short, these "directions" are completely nonsensical!

We learn that these ghosts only come out at night - when the base is switched to night mode, but no explanation is offered for this, nor is one offered for their ability to both walk through solid objects, and carry/manipulate solid objects. Nor is any explanation offered for why the base was not long ago evacuated. The Doctor proposes to travel back to an earlier time in the area so he can find out what the history of the ship is, but he ends up at the end of this double-episode appearing in the lake looking like a ghost himself. This story was one of the most boring stories I've ever seen on Doctor Who, reminiscent of the worst of the stories form the older version of this long-running show.

9.4 Before the Flood by Toby Whithouse (index)

The Doctor breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience, explaining the time-travel paradox whereby something happens in the past that could only be explained with knowledge of the future which was then applied in the past to create the future event. In his trip to the past, he arrives in 1980 at the army base before it was flooded. he meets with the funeral director - who is one of the ghosts in the future, but here is still alive. There is no writing on the wall of the spacecraft, which is sitting on the grass outside a building. He learns that the spacecraft is actually a hearse, and the dead body is that of a character known as the Fisher king.

Meanwhile, back in 2119, the Doctor's ghost is not saying the same thing as the other ghosts. Instead, he's listing the names of the people in the research facility - presumably in the order they will die and become ghosts themselves. From this point on, for me, the ep went into terminal cancer mode with everything and everyone chasing their own tails. Eventually it becomes clear that The Fisher King is planning on the ghosts - their message magically amplified by their increasing numbers, sending a message to order his minions to come and conquer Earth. Good luck getting there with those direction! LOL!

The Doctor tricks the Fisher King in the past into entering his spacecraft, and uses the power cell he stole from the ship to blow the dam, thereby damning the village.... We quickly learnt he Doctor wasn't a ghost after all but a hologram projected into the water from his sonic sunglasses.

Seriously this was the worst ep of Doctor Who that I've seen in a long time, and it didn't surprise me at all to learn that the show is now getting its worst ratings since it was rebooted in 2005. Lousy eps like this, with poor writing and bad science, are going to kill the show again if something dramatic isn't done. Hopefully the next double episode, which I think may be the pone in which Clara exits the show, will be considerably better, even though the premise is yet again rooted in boring and ancient English history.

9.5 The Girl Who Died by Jamie Mathieson and Steven Moffat (index)

Well after a lackluster pair (the 3rd and 4th eps), the old high-quality Doctor Who came roaring back in this one - one I thought would be boring because TV and movies have an awful way of making Vikings utterly tedious and drab. I haven't seen a good representation of Vikings in either medium since Terry Jones's Erik the Viking which was excellent.

Sadly we started with a bit of a cliché - The Doctor and his current Companion (in this case Clara) in the dangerous but closing stages of an adventure we will never get to see. Clara is in space, in a space suit - which isn't sealed, and which has no oxygen attached - with some creature crawling up her leg (how it got in a sealed suit remains unexplained). Of course she's rescued, but the Doctor unaccountably stomps the little creature to death - something the older incarnations would never have done.

After that is when the show glows. They're captured by Vikings and marched back to the village for reasons unexplained, but we're back to the Matt Smith first ep, where he has to solve a problem without having access to either the TARDIS or to his sonic screwdriver, so good for the writers! traditional Doctor Who with a modern veneer. Can't ask for better than that.

Just as The Doctor tries to get out of their predicament by claiming to be Odin, a contender for that title appears in the sky - just a face, but giant sized, and complete with horned helmet and eye-patch. Not that Vikings ever wore helmets with horns in them for goodness sakes. Suddenly we have large and imposing robot-like armored warriors tagging healthy virulent Vikings and hauling them upstairs to "Asgard" we're told, in some sort of transmat beam. Clara decides quickly - thinking quicker than the Doctor - to go with them. She puts the remaining half of his sonic sunglasses on Ashildr, the village bard, and the two of them are transported - because they are wearing technology that's out of place - Clara still in the spacesuit, and Ashildr the sunglasses. Exactly why Clara did this is unexplained, but she finds herself inside a space craft.

She tries to talk the "Odin": character out of taking any more people - and just leaving, instead but Ashildr, misunderstanding her, challenges the invaders to a fight, which is promptly arranged at ten am on the morrow. How anyone back then in this village would have any clue when 10am arrived remains a mystery. Vikings were not big on clocks and precise time-keeping. It turns out that this guy isn't Odin, of course (as The Doctor delightfully challenges them: when does a god ever actually appear? This guy is one of the Mire, one of the most feared warrior races in space. He feeds on the adrenalin and testosterone the warriors generate which begs the perfectly good question as to why he's there at a peaceful village and not at a battlefield or a sports event somewhere.

As part of the battle plan, Clara and Ashildr are returned to the village, where the Doctor advises the villagers to run away, Monty-Python style: run like a nose! Being Vikings, and even though their warriors have been taken, the remaining villagers refuse to run, and the Doctor despairs about helping them, until a pep-talk from Clara jolts him into action - almost literally. The Vikings, curiously, have vats of electric eels. Since these are found only in South America, there is no way (even Norway) Vikings would have them or even have heard of them, yet here they conveniently are.

With the ability to produce electricity and channel it using metal threads from Clara's space suit, the Doctor finally comes up with a plan. They electrocute some of the warriors, steal one of their helmets. and use the helmet's VR facility to feed in a story from Ashildr of dragons, which scares the crap out of the Mire, who all retreat. Their leader is embarrassed by how a bunch of farmers and fisher-folk have beaten this army, so he retreats in shame, vowing that this isn't over.

The effort of feeding that story into the system has cost Ashildr her life though, and the Doctor is debilitated by it until he gets another pep-talk from Clara. he suddenly realizes why he has this face - which was a neat bit of writing by Steven Moffat no doubt. He recalls the guy in Pompeii whose family he saved, and now he realizes that he took this face to remind him that he can do whatever he wants. He's rather scary here, reminiscent of Tennant's Doctor during his final year before regeneration - arrogant, feisty and defiant. He creates a small device using medical technology from the helmet they stole, and implants it in Ashildr's forehead, whereupon she revives.

As he leaves the Doctor remarks that barring accidents, Ashildr is now functionally immortal, and we see her at the end, in a remarkable scene, days and nights and seasons flying past her, the camera orbiting around her, her face turning from benign to malignant as the centuries pass and she remains the same while everyone else passes on. evidently someone forgot to give her the extra chip that she could use to give to her chosen partner so he or she could live forever with her. Either that or it failed. Or the partner met with an accident.

This was a welcome return to old form for me. This was very much the humor, irreverence, inventiveness and aplomb of previous Doctors. All three main characters, The Doctor, Clara, and Ashildr were excellent. Peter Capaldi completely inhabited the Doctor's shows for once. Clara returned to her form, feisty, assertive, and inventive - in my opinion the best companion so far - and Maisie Williams was appropriately feisty and vulnerable by turns in her role as the young Viking bard. I place this as third best ep this season, between the first and second eps.

9.6 "The Woman Who Lived" by Catherine Tregenna (index)

This is a 'Clara light' episode - where the Doctor is pretty much companionless throughout the episode, with Clara appearing only at the end. It's understandable, because the Doctor doesn't seem to be able to handle more than one female companion at a time, and his effective companion throughout his ep is Ashildr - the Viking girl whose life he saved in the previous ep, using Mire technology. Additionally, there isn't a lot which Clara could have done had she been present. Her absence is waved away with vague mutterings of studying martial arts.

The chip which was implanted in Ashildr's forehead gives her the ability to renew her cells indefinitely, and barring disaster, effectively endows her with eternal life. Consequently, when The Doctor shows up in 1651 England, there is Ashildr, now known as Lady Me in her regular life, and the highway'man' known as the Knightmare in her clandestine life. Lady Me isn't in need of ill-gotten gains - she's rich, and pursues her secret life only for the thrill. She's also, it turns out, looking for a specific amulet which is actually alien technology that just looks like a brooch. It's this same technology which the Doctor is seeking when he encounters her in process of robbing a stagecoach.

Ashildr only barely remembers that name. As she has accumulated new memories over the eight intervening centuries, older ones are pushed out. She has isolated herself from mainstream life, the pain of close relationships and lost children being unbearable to her. She takes The Doctor back to her mansion, encountering fellow highwayman Tom Swift the Quick, with whom she banters and tussles, eventually sending him packing. At her home, she pretty much begs The Doctor to take her with him aboard his 'ship', but he's adamant that she live her own life. She becomes very angry with him and eventually reveals that she has found her own means of travel - curtesy of an alien named Leandro, and it is on his behalf that she seeks the amulet, which he will use to open a portal. She doesn't need the Doctor.

The problem with the amulet is that it can only be used when someone dies. Initially, she has chosen to use it on her aging manservant, but the Doctor objects to this murder. When she learns that Swift has been captured and is scheduled to be hanged, she decides to travel to London and visit the Tyburn gallows, to take advantage of this death, one in which she has played no part. She insists the Doctor cannot object to this, but he follows her.

On the stage, Swift performs well, entertaining the crowd with dark humor. When he spies The Doctor - also a wanted man in 1651 England, The Doctor joins in with the banter, playing off Swift's comments. Ashildr loses patience and slaps the amulet on Swift's chest, causing his skin to darken and a bean of purple light to shoot into the sky, opening a portal similar to the one formed over New York City movie, and through which aliens are aiming to travel and attack Earth. When she sees what she's done, and how she has put everyone at risk, Ashildr changes her mind. She finds she does care about life, and asks the Doctor how this can be remedied. He advises her to use the Mire chip - the spare one he gave her. She applies it to Swift's forehead and this reverses the portal, closing it. Leandro begs his alien compatriots not to leave him, and they vaporize him. Swift recovers.

Later, in a tavern, sitting with the Doctor, Ashildr discovers that Swift will probably not live forever. The power of the Mire chip was drained in closing the portal and will not serve him as it does her. Ashildr reveals that she now has a new purpose in life - as The Doctor looks out for Earth, she will look out for him, but in a regulatory way - keeping his activities under surveillance, and really looking out for those he leaves in his wake. Rumor has it that Maisie Williams is to make three appearances in this season, so perhaps she will return at the end of the season in the Hell Bent episode.

This one was without question the best ep this season so far! Maisie Williams was a-Maisie-ng! She took charge and her lines and the way she delivered them really lifted this ep above the run of the mill and made it a truly deep and philosophical one. She really put down a line in the sand in the life of The Doctor, too. Whereas in the previous episode he had claimed, as he resolved to save her life, that he could do whatever he wanted, we now discover that Ashildr has vowed to prevent him running amok by keeping a close watch on him. I loved this episode.

9.7 "The Zygon Invasion" by Peter Harness (index)

This ep takes off from the fiftieth anniversary ep where the three Doctors took on the Zygons, shape-shifting aliens. It was agreed, at the end of that ep, that Zygons, whose home planet had been destroyed during the Time War, could live in harmony with humans. Twenty million of them have been living on Earth ever since. I find it hard to believe that humanity - especially feisty organizations like Unit, headed by the rather militaristic Kate Stewart - haven't worked on developing ways to detect Zygons who are shape-shifted into human form, but they have not, which is what leads to this double episode wherein a faction of Zygons has decided it doesn't like the status quo and wants it changed favorably for them.

There was one safety factor developed however, known as the Osgood box, and it's maintained by the science assistant to Kate Stewart, and her Zygon clone, both known as Osgood, both considering themselves sisters, and neither willing to reveal whether she is the human or the Zygon. When one of them died - evidently killed by Missy in an earlier episode, she slipped out of our consciousness, because we forgot there were two of them. Now the remaining one (or are there still two? When Missy "killed" Clara, she managed to survive!) has been captured. She won't say which Osgood she is, but she did reveal to The Doctor that the Nightmare Scenario has taken place.

The Doctor, having failed to contact Clara, meets up with two Zygon commanders, who are disguised as young girls, before meeting Kate Stewart. The two girls have been abducted, and UNIT has received a video of the two commanders being killed in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Osgood, meanwhile is seen on a video evidently recorded in Turmezistan. She's reading the Zygon invasion plans. Kate visits Truth or Consequences, while The Doctor goes to Turmezistan. Why the head of UNIT goes is unexplained. It's like the Star Trek captains always going on every single away mission! She does look good with a gun though. Rather James Bond-ish! I could see her as an agent in a British TV show. Simone Templar, anyone?

The Doctor is told by the local UNIT commander that the Zygons prey upon soldier's emotions by appearing as their loved ones, so instead of a boots on the ground approach, they're simply going to bomb the town. The Doctor manages to rescue Osgood, and take A Zygon captive. Truth or Consequences is deserted, except for the local sheriff. Of course, it's no surprise at all that she's a Zygon.

What is a surprise is that when Clara is exploring Zygon tunnels under London, they find pods of all the humans who have been replaced, and in one of the pods, is Clara. We're meant to believe that the Clara we've been following and trusting is a Zygon, but I was not won over by that. Maybe she is, maybe she isn't! The soldiers accompanying Clara are all killed and when Clara is contacted by the New Mexico sheriff, it's confirmed that Kate Stewart has been neutralized. Frankly, I think that the local sheriff is either a human sympathizer of the redoubtable Kate neutralized her instead.

The cliffhanger ending is that an airplane supposedly carrying The Doctor is shot from the sky. great episodes - full of tie-ups from, and tie-ins to other episodes, the ground shifting under our feet, trust destroyed, unable to believe our own eyes. My guess is that the doctor has a plan. We'll see!

9.8 "The Zygon Inversion" by Peter Harness (index)

The closure of this, the fourth double episode in season nine left me feeling rather deflated. the Zygons are about the worst of the resurrected Doctor Who Villains for me, beaten only by the Martian ice warriors for being uninteresting and unengaging, so this perhaps was the cause of my malaise. Obviously we know that Clara isn't going to die here, because she's to appear in more episodes this season, so the fact that Clara was a Zygon bizarrely named 'Bonnie', and the real Clara was preserved in a pod was no big deal, as neither was the airplane exploding - you know the doctor wasn't in it. Osgood wasn't a surprise either, even though she died at Missy's hands, because a Zygon replacement is easily found. However, can the Zygon really replace the previous one? Or has the human Osgood died, and now both Osgoods are Zygons (and one of them is Bonnie!)? Who can tell? Maybe not even Who. We knew that it was highly unlikely that Kate Stewart had died too, and neither were the Osgood boxes a mystery - we knew the Doctor would never actually create a doomsday weapon, so this entire episode was really a bluff and a bag of hot air.

Given all this foreknowledge, it wasn't a surprise to discover Clara reliving her Dalek experience, where she is, as she was in the Asylum of the Daleks ep, living in an apartment and contacting the outside work through a view screen - in this case a TV, which is the mirror of Bonnie's eyes. As Clara texts the Doctor to let him know she is safe (given that she had to have Bonnie do the texting, how Bonnie managed not to know about it is unexplained), Bonnie discovers that the Osgood box is under the Tower of London, and it's no surprise that there are two of them given that Osgood is now effectively twins.

We get the same stand-off between Zygon and human (in this case, Bonnie and Kate) that we saw in the fiftieth anniversary edition, and the same ending. Bonnie the Zygon actually determines for herself that it's unwise to pursue the course she was following towards all-out war, but then the Doctor wipes both hers and Kate's memory, which effectively undoes all that good. Apparently he's done this fifteen times before and yet he's learned nothing from his experiences, while both Kate and Bonnie the Zygon have been denied the opportunity to learn form theirs. I thought The Doctor was smarter than that. Rather disappointing. Hopefully the last four eps of the season, which are all hopefully single-shot eps, will pick up the slack.

9.9 "Sleep No More" by Mark Gatiss (index)

Sleep No More

This ep is without doubt my least favorite Doctor Who ep. I can't say it's the worst ever, but it sure is the worse I think since Christopher Eccleston blessedly left the role. It's a found footage episode which is the worst means ever of presenting a movie or a show in my opinion, because it's so fake. I don't know why they chose to do it this way. It seems like it was to really only to try and make it scary, but it wasn't remotely scary. It was just stupid.

It begins with a supposed video recording made by Gagan Rassmussen, who was the lead researcher into sleep, at the Le Verrier Space Station orbiting Neptune. Why there is a station orbiting Neptune isn't explained. Why this research is being done there rather than on earth isn't explained. The guy playing Rasumussen isn't even remotely talking like someone who is in the position he's in, and there's no reason whatsoever given for him making this video, and it doesn't fit in with the rest of the story, and his role in it. Yes, I get that there was supposed to be a valid reason, but it made no sense, which leaves only the 'scary' excuse and it wasn't scary.

The thing that really was ridiculous was the special effects added to make this seem like a video recording - the screen, whenever we were seeing video, had cathode ray tube lines across it. I've noticed this frequently and it's become such a trope that people ten d not to see it, much less remark on it, but we dispensed with cathode ray tubes long ago. No modern video has those lines on it. Worse, there was video noise added form time to time which was just annoying. Some video was B&W whereas other was color. it quickly became apparent this was tied to certain persons, but there was no explanation for the B&W video.

A rescue ship arrives from triton, with very few crew on it, all military! There's an absurd "clone" strong-arm soldier which is evidently lots of muscle and little brain behind it. that made zero sense, especially since it almost kills another of the team. Pathetic. I was excited to see transgendered woman Bethany Black on this show, but she was assigned the role of the clone, known as 474, and so have next to nothing to do, which saddened me. I know she can give more than this if she had the chance.

The rest of the show consisted of these people slowly being killed off by these 'monsters' made of nuggets of eye gunk - the kind you have in the corner of your eye when you wake up. They were stupid, and harked back to the crappy 'monsters' of the old style Doctor Who shows. Maybe the bad video was so we couldn't see the zippers? It was completely ridiculous, and I'm wondering if the only reason they let this through is that it has some bearing on Clara's exit from the show. I guess we'll see, but this one was a both thumbs all the way down from me.

9.10 "Face the Raven" by Sarah Dollard (index)

I would rate this ep second only to Blink, despite a glaring flaw in the plot that we will get to - one which would have destroyed the entire ep had it not been there! It was one of several, but overall the story was so good that I was willing to let them go. This one was written by Australian Sarah Dollard, who has written for several shows of which I've been a fan, and this story was, overall, kick-ass. I loved Clara's exit - although has she really exited in the way we think she did?

This one begins with the pair (The Doctor and Clara) reminiscing about a recent adventure. This seems to have become a standard prologue and is a bit annoying - that there have been scores of Doctor Who adventures which we've not been allowed to see. The show - in its old incarnation - used to run for forty weeks of the year. Now it runs for the other twelve, or so, and we have forty weeks without It. It's not fair!

This is also the start of a three story arc, and it begins with Riggsy calling the TARDIS phone. He has a tattoo, but this tattoo isn't one he requested, and it's counting down, minute by minute. Riggsy now has a wife and daughter (so he's probably not going to be the new companion!), and when they meet with him, Clara and The Doctor quickly learn that he's missing a day. Eventually it boils down to ripping-off Harry Potter, as the thee of them locate a hidden alley in London.

I loved the image of Clara hanging half-way out of the TARDIS's open door as they fly over London in search of this street, and she's laughing. No longer does she live in fear. She takes adventure in her stride, and she will need that here.

'
It turns out that this street is a sanctuary for aliens. Why they would hide this in London rather than in a remote place, or even on a hostile planet given the technology they have access to, is a mystery, but there it is. The sanctuary is run by Ashildr for aliens. Given that it's hidden, why the aliens have to appear as human is both an insult to them, and a mystery, but still. Ashildr has a cunning plan and both Clara and the Doctor fail to see it, and walk straight into her trap - it really was a trap street.

'
The tattoo is a countdown to Riggsy's death for his killing of Anah, Janus female, whose forward-facing face see the future, and her backward facing one, the past. How she did not see her own death and why no one asks about this is a mystery. In order to save Riggsy, the two of them must find the real killer. Here’s the flaw. The Doctor is a time-traveler. He can take the TARDIS back to the murder and uncover the truth. Indeed, if he wanted to help Earth, he would come up with a way for all police organizations to see murders so the perps were always caught or the victims saved, even, but he doesn’t. Earth isn’t defended.

No-one thinks to ask the The Doctor to go back and find out the truth. Instead he and Clara wander around wasting time interviewing the aliens in a half-hearted manner. Clara takes the tattoo from Riggsy once she realizes they're transferable (why are they?!), thinking, since Ashildr has guaranteed her safety, she can't die. She's wrong.

It turns out that the entire thing was a plot to capture The Doctor. Ashildr made a deal and cooked-up a fake murder. Clara pays the price and dies a brave death, going out to face the death-dealing raven instead of running like everyone else (and I think this is what will save her). The scene between her and the Doctor is dramatic and heart-warming as she lays down the rules - no revenge on Ashildr, no rampage. Find yourself a new companion because you do badly on your own!

The Doctor is pissed off with Ashildr, and though he tells her that he will try to respect Clara's wishes, she should stay out of his way because the universe is a small place when he's angry! Love it! So Ashildr isn't going to be his companion either and she's effectively kicked off of the show!

At the close of the show, we see Riggsy putting graffiti on the TARDIS as a memorial, but it’s now inexplicably sitting in a completely different location from where The Doctor landed it - bad continuity! Despite the issues, this was still the best show after Blink, and I'm hoping the rest of this rather sorry season is as good. It would be tragic if this was the best episode of the season, and now it's all downhill!

9.11 "Heaven Sent" by Steven Moffat (index)

This, for me, was probably the worst Doctor Who episode ever since the series rebooted, and this includes all of the Christopher Eccleston season! Yes, Christopher Eccleston finally gets out of the basement!

This story is the result of the actions taken by Ashildr in the previous ep, Face the Raven and is the first to kick Jenna Coleman off the credits, even though she appears in a speaking role in the story - and not as a flashback. The Doctor appears inside a glass teleportation chamber, although why he needs one in which to arrive when he needed none to start the journey went unexplained. His location appears to be a castle, but really, he's inside his own confession dial (CD!) which first appeared in episode one of season nine (this season). I saw a Christmas tree ornament which looked remarkably like the CD. It was the same color, but had sparkly bits on the back and a Christmas message on the front. I thought briefly of getting it so I could change it a bit to look just like the CD, but I decided not to, and after this ep I was glad I didn't.

Coming out of the teleportation chamber, The Doctor sees the word 'bird' written in sand which coats the floor of the chamber, but he erases it. Then we get forty minutes of him wandering endless around the castle, doing dumb stuff, "dying", then reappearing back in the teleportation chamber like he's been reset, and doing exactly the same shit over and needlessly over again. We're supposed to believe he's eventually spent two billion years in the dial because he keeps forgetting what he's done, yet he can write the word 'bird' every time before he dies in the chamber, and he can remember the passage of time. None of this made any sense whatsoever. What this ep taught me is that the doctor is a moron, and Steven Moffat needs to get a grip.

The Doctor eventually gets out because he's been slowly chipping away - by hand - at this wall that looks like a giant block of ice, but quite evidently is not. despite it being blatantly obvious - even if you've lost your memory - that someone is digging their way out through here, he fails to focus solely on that, and does the same stupid-ass time-wasting things he's done before. It's T-E-D-I-O-U-S. This ep as a disaster.

9.12 "Hell Bent" by Steven Moffat (index)

This episode brought a brilliant end to a really spotty season of Doctor Who. It begins in (we're told!) Nevada, where The Doctor revisits a diner he was in in an earlier incarnation, although he (rightly, more than likely) remembers it as being "on the other side of the hill." The diner is empty except for him and the waitress, who bears a marked resemblance to Clara Oswald, although neither of them appears to recognize the other. As they converse however, it becomes clear that while the Doctor has no idea who she is, she very much remembers him.

He tells Clara a story which we are shown (interleaved with brief spells back at the diner). A story, we're told, is what a memory becomes when it's forgotten - about how he visited Gallifrey - although he disguises his space traveling ("I travel from time to time"!) after spending some four billion years (not half the age of the universe contrary to his claim! More like a fifth.) hammering his way out of the Confession Dial. Inside the city, the cloister bells ("all of them"!) are ringing, giving the Time Lords, including Rassilon, grief. Several members of the sisterhood of Karn are also present, if unwelcomed by the Time Lords.

The Doctor sits down to a bowl of soup provided by people who both appeared and disappeared out of nowhere, since there are no dwellings or other buildings near the barn where the Doctor stops outside the city - the same barn he slept in as a child and in which he almost unleased The Moment during the Time Wars. He's interrupted by the arrival of a huge gunship. The pilot orders him to drop any weapons he may have, at which point he drops his soup spoon, harking back to his sword-and-spoon fight with Robin hood in an earlier season.

Rassilon wants the Doctor Executed because he's convinced that the Doctor is the prophesied 'hybrid' who will stand over the ruins of Gallifrey. As for The Doctor, he won't even give anyone the time of day until Rassilon himself shows up with a firing squad, but the squad considers the Doctor a War hero and after they shoot, there is a set of burn marks on the wall behind the Doctor, marking his shape, where they all deliberately missed. It would have been better if they had spelled 'No More', but still! After this, they refuse to shoot, dropping their weapons and joining him on the side of a line in the sand opposite Rassilon.

This made no sense, since the Doctor didn't serve with any soldiers, so none of these can have "served with him" as we're told. This all ends with The Doctor ordering Rassilon to "get off my planet" and that's the last we see of him. The next actions made no sense to me. The Doctor ends up - after inquiring which regeneration he's on - shooting the general, who actually sided with the Doctor. The white male general then regenerates as a black female general. I think it's wonderful that the Time Lords can regenerate with their make-up already in place.... The Doctor then demands that Clara be "extracted'; form her time stream to join him. Curiously he makes no reference to the Time Scoop used in The Five Doctors for this purpose. He then descends, with Clara into the cloisters.

The cloisters is a huge database, guarded by wraiths and featuring some creatures - a dalek, a cyberman, and a weeping angel - which have tried to break in and become entombed. The Doctor tells Clara that they won't be attacked or bothered unless they try to leave, but he also reveals that there is a way out - a young man made it out once, although some say it turned him mad. Clara realizes that the Doctor is referring to himself. As Ohila and the regenerated general arrive at the entrance to the cloisters, Clara keeps them distracted long enough for the Doctor to escape in a stolen TARDIS, materializing around Clara to take her with him. I think ti was great how at Clara's sharp voice, both Ohila and the general deferred and bowed! He explains to Clara that she's "frozen" between one heartbeat and the next until she returns to her place in time - the moment before she died. he believes he can fix that for her by taking her to the end of the universe, but even there, she is not freed. Instead, the Doctor meets Ashildr, who is sitting alone, watching the stars die out.

He accuses Ashildr of being the hybrid - a human modified using Mire technology, but she dismisses it. So if it isn't the Doctor and it isn't Ashildr, who is it? Ashildr suggests that it's not one person but two - the Doctor and Clara - wo have been running amok through time and breaking laws and rules, and the Doctor begins to realize she is right. he plans to wipe Clara's memory of him and their travels, but when he and Ashildr reenter the TARDIS, they discover that Clara has been listening, and has reversed the polarity on his memory altering device, so it will alter his memory instead of hers. He tells her he can't be sure that's possible, and if they trigger it, it could remove his memory or hers. There's no telling. They decided to leave their future to luck, and they both trigger the device at the same time. it affects the Doctor, not Clara. This, of course, begs the question as to how he ever remembered all of this story he's been relating to Clara!

As The Doctor gets up to leave, Clara disappears through a back door inside of which we can see the TARDIS which the Doctor stole. Wonderfully, inside, it's exactly like the original TARDIS from when the entire show began! When it dematerializes, the Doctor is left back in the desert - right next to his own TARDIS still decorated with paintings of flowers, and a picture of Clara. All of this burns off as he dematerializes it, and we see his TARDIS in space going one way, and the other going a different way. Inside it are Clara and Ashildr, and Clara decides she doesn't have to go back to meet her death yet - she can take the scenic route. This is as perfect of an ending as you can get for Clara.

Of course, this is time travel so it begs some questions as to why the Time Lords are cowering at the end of the universe instead of going back to the start and fixing things. But Time lords have proven time and time again that they're not the smartest beings in the universe. That's why they need companions. I was sorry to have to say goodbye to Clara, but if she had to go, this was the best send off she could get. I'll miss her. This was a wonderful end to a sorry season.

9.13 "The Husbands of River Song" by Steven Moffat (index)

The Doctor conveniently happens to be on the same planet (Mendorax Dellora) as River Song, who is living there married to the irascible, if not psychotic, King Hydroflax. When servant Nardole is sent to get a doctor for his majesty, he brings The Doctor by mistake. River Song doesn't recognize him, which is confusing for The Doctor. The most precious diamond ever, the Halassi Androvar, is inside the King's brain, and River's only mercenary purpose in being involved with him is to get it for herself.

In a highly improbable turn of events, Hydroflax removes his head for no good reason except to allow The Doctor to kidnap it, and Nardole ends up with his head on the robotic body Hydroflax employs for mobility. Apparently several heads can be accommodated, rotating into top dead center as needed. A chase ensues. On the lam with River, The Doctor discovers she's borrowed his TARDIS several times without his knowledge. He thinks she is trying to pull the wool over his eyes about not recognizing him, but she really doesn't. She does not have his head in her gallery. Yes, this episode is all about heads - a ruse somewhat over-used during the Moffat administration, I fear!

It turns out that River is also married to handsome young stud Ramone and has purposefully crashed Hydroflax's ship near where she knew the TARDIS would be, since she plans to use that for her escape with the diamond. Unfortunately the TARDIS will not fly when it detects a being who is not fully inside the craft - as is the case with Hydroflax, whose head is in the TARDIS, but his body is not. it's safety cut-out, and is a cool idea, but makes no sense since Hydroflax's body is entirely robotic; then no one ever said Doctor Who has to make sense!

Ramone ends up also inducted into the robotic body, sharing it with Nardole, while the robotic body manages to home in on Hydroflax and manages to get inside the TARDIS. Head and body being reunited, the TARDIS can now fly, and River takes it to a the starship named Harmony and Redemption where she has the vault where the TARDIS landed, locked my the starship restaurant's maître d' who she knows well.

River was evidently supposed to get the diamond and return it to its owner, but she plans on selling it. While sitting at a dining table, River opines that her Doctor doesn't love her because he's incapable, and as she talks, she slowly realizes The Doctor is right in front of her in an incarnation she does not recognize, which is unnerving. Here's where the Doctor gets to use one of two signature River lines: "Hell Sweetie!" The other is of course, "Spoilers" which is uses later.

The planet they happen to crash on when things go south, is Darillium, where River knows she will spend her last night with The Doctor. He's been avoiding this for as long as he can and now is finally forced to confront it. Seeing a man who is first on the scene looking to help survivors, the Doctor tells him there are none, and gives him the diamond, suggesting he use it to fund building a restaurant on the site, in view of the singing towers. This completes the relationship with River, as the Doctor books (years ahead!) the best room in the hotel, and enjoys a night of twenty-four years with his wife, their last night together. He has a present for her - the sonic screwdriver she shows up with in episode Forest of the Dead.

This was fun and although I was sorry to see River go (technically she could appear in future episodes!), it made for a great ending to their story.

9.14 "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" by Steven Moffat (index)

Doctor Mysterio is of course another pseudonym for Doctor Who. In a departure (portended by the previous two Christmas episode) from the stagnating Christmas invasion shows, this penultimate Moffat Christmas outing really climbs out of the mold, and that was appreciated. Set slightly in the past to begin with, we find the Doctor in New York City, trying to fix a time-line snafu referred to in the episode where Amy and Rory were lost (Angels Take Manhattan). A young, and slightly sickly boy named Grant wakes up to find the Doctor hanging upside down outside his window. Grant helps him, thinking he might be Santa Claus.

The Doctor takes the boy up onto the roof and shows him this klutzy device he's constructed. All it needs is a rare gemstone to get it working. Unfortunately, he handed the stone to the boy, who thought it was medicine (the guy is a doctor after all). The stone gives the boys super-powers, and the Doctor has to make him promise not to use those powers. The stone will pass, he declares, and leaves. Almost a quarter-century later, the Doctor is back investigating the Harmony Shoals (a name with ties to 'Melody Pond' and 'River Song') corporation in NYC, when he unexpectedly encounters The Ghost - a man with super powers.

The Doctor is with Lucy Fletcher, a news reporter, who is also investigating Harmony Shoals. The company has aliens in a vault - aliens which consist of brains with eyes, and which are looking to take over human bodies. They are the ones really in charge here. On the verge of being disposed of because they know too much, the Ghost arrives to rescue them in the nick of time. He takes Lucy home - at least near enough to give him time to change back into his "mild-mannered" persona as her babysitter. He's rather surprised to discover the doctor is there - with Nardole, from the previous Christmas episode, who is now the Doctor's new companion, the latter having rescued him from Hydroflax's robot body and reconstructed him.

The alien plan is to crash their spaceship onto New York City, destroying it. The only survivors will be those people who were sheltered in the Harmony Shoals building. The idea is that leaders around the world will then see these building as safe havens, flocking to them, and thereby making it convenient for the aliens to switch out the human brains for their own, and by this means take over Earth. Discovering when the space craft is set to crash, The Doctor brings the impact time forward, thinking the aliens will stop it when they realize it's premature.

Conveniently, the impact point happens to be the very rooftop where Lucy is Interviewing The Ghost, and Grant saves the day, revealing his true identity to Lucy in the process. This was a fun adventure, and I enjoyed it. I was a heck of a long wait, though, with no Doctor Who Episodes other than this transmitted in 2016! I really don't get why we're so deprived of episodes! It's not like the show-runner has to write them all himself.

Back in the day - the original run of the series - it ran almost the whole year long. Granted that the stories were sub-divided into half-hour episodes, but the stories also usually ran longer: two to three hours all told. I can't believe that there are so few writers today who can do justice to a Doctor Who story. There have to be scores of them - far more than there used to be, yet we're on a Doctor Who diet! And was if that isn't bad enough, we were starved almost unto death last year! In this regard, I will appreciate Chris Chibnall coming onboard next year (and maybe having a hand in the Christmas episode?). Is it too much to hope for an expanded season?!

10.1 "The Pilot" by Steven Moffat (index)

At last a new season! It's going to be short, but it's here, and for three months life is special!

I really liked this episode, and I liked Bill, the new companion, who comes in right up front in the first scene, accompanied by Nardole, still the Doctor's companion. I notice that some critics have remarked how slow or lethargic this ep was, but to me it was perfect. It was Moffat in fine fettle and Capaldi's Doctor looking better than ever, ironically, since this is his last season. I've never been a huge fan of Capaldi in the role, but he's grown on me over the years, and he seemed perfect in this ep.

Bill is brought by Nardole to the Doctor's study at the fictional St Luke's University in Bristol. A study in which a police box sits in one corner. The Doctor and Nardole have apparently been there for some improbable amount of time, watching over something deep in the bowels of the university, known as The Vault, which is evidently the series arc Macguffin. I wonder if it's the ring belonging to John Sims's Master? I don't know what capacity Nardole is employed in, if any, but the Doctor is a highly popular lecturer who says he made promises he has to keep.

Bill Potts, on the other hand, works at the university's canteen, but she sneaks into The Doctor's lectures, which is why she's been called to his office. He's noticed her. She smiles when confused, instead of frowning, for one thing. She immediately denies that she sneaks in, but is forced to admit it, and she launches into a story about doling out extra chips (fries) to a woman in the cafeteria who, Bill now realizes, has gained weight because of this. "I fatted her!" she exclaims - and all because she had a crush on the woman. The Doctor is curious as to how that explains her coming to his lectures, and she fizzles out with a vague - "I hoped it would go somewhere." This all ends with the Doctor agreeing to tutor Bill privately, every weekday at six, no cancellations, no excuses.

Much of this episode is focused on Bill, who becomes a companion (or in this case a companion-to-be) in peril because she develops a crush on another girl she meets when out one night - a girl with a defect in one eye in the shape of a star. It's because of this defect that Heather notices something very odd about a puddle. Why she's been hanging around this out-of-the-way fenced-off area goes unexplained, but Bill fails to see what Heather sees. Bill does extract a promise for the girl not to leave her, but then the girl disappears, and her promise will come back to haunt Bill.

Meanwhile Bill is spying on The Doctor and Nardole, as they check on The Vault - the series arc or this season. I suspect it has to do with the Master (storing his ring?) or with Nardole himself. There was a nive memorabilia touch down there - the sign for the Mary Celeste, which was featured in one of my favorite Doctor Who eps: The Chase, which was broadcast in May and June 1965.

Time passes and Bill buys The Doctor a rug for Christmas. When he says he got her nothing, he realizes there is something he can get for her. Bill has no photos of her mother, who died when she was a baby. Bill lives with her foster mom, who finds a box of photographs of her mom, which they did not know existed, and which make Bill cry. The distant relationship with this girl seems to have continued without growing any closer, and the puddle still intrigues Heather. It's only when wearing an oddly-patterned shirt that Bill sees what Heather saw in the puddle - the reflection is wrong. It's not a mirror reflection, it's a camera view. When Bill relates this to the Doctor, with whom she's been getting tutelage for some time at this point, he hares off to see the puddle for himself. Bill follows. When they leave, the puddle follows them.

After a scary non-encounter in her bathroom - with water sounds and shadows when no one is in there, Bill discovers the puddle is following her. She seeks refuge in the Doctor's office, and the puddle starts coming under the door, where it reforms into Heather. The Doctor invites Bill into the TARDIS, and they take off for another location, and then to Australia. Each time the water-being follows, and takes only one minute to find them on the other side of the world, so the Doctor decides to really test it and moves across the universe and several million years into the future, but it only takes a few minutes for Heather to find them again.

The Doctor decides they have to run the water being through the fires of hell, and takes them into the middle of a Dalek firefight with the Movellans - a scene from the Doctor's own past. The being follows them there, and when fired on by a Dalek, seems to suffer no damage at all. Just when they think they're safe from the Daleks at least, another one appears, but it's weird and it doesn't shoot. They realize it's Heather, but this time mimicking a Dalek.

They realize at this point that the being doesn't want to harm Bill. It wants her to travel with it. Bill, against the Doctor's advice, makes physical contact with Heather, and briefly sees what it can show her, but she lets it go, and the being disappears. Back in the Doctor's study, he's about to wipe Bill's mind, but she talks him out of it, asking him how he would feel if someone did that to him. He tell her to leave before he changes his mind, but when Bill is walking towards home across the university grounds, she's confronted by the Doctor with the TARDIS, and she agrees to travel with him, but when she asks him why he wants this, he says, simply, "It's time"! Perfect!

10.2 "Smile" by by Frank Cottrell-Boyce (index)

After a really great start, a disappointing second ep follows! The Doctor is excited at having a new companion he can show off to, but Nardole dislikes Bill and reminds the Doctor of his promise to stay on Earth protecting the vault. I'm starting to wonder if the Doctor isn't protecting anything in the vault, but is actually protecting Nardole himself instead. The Doctor sends Nardole off to make tea, and then absconds with Bill, telling her they can be back the moment they left. Ri-ight!

Bill wants to visit the future to see if everyone is happy, which is a typical Bill idea. Somehow they end-up on a planet which is being prepared for colonization by the last remaining humans who are apparently going to have nothing to eat but wheat. Discovering no humans anywhere to be seen, The Doctor incorrectly assumes the humans have not arrived yet. This 'last remaining humans' to me is a problem because we already met a whole different group of "last-remaining humans" in an earlier show (The Beast Below). So will the real last remaining humans please stand up?!

In that ep, we learned of many refugee ships traveling with humans aboard - so did they all founder? Why didn't the Doctor help them? If there was a catastrophe on Earth, why didn't the Doctor prevent it or fix it? He vehemently declared that the planet is defended in the tenth Doctor's first adventure. Is he no longer defending it? Or does he arbitrarily mean to defend it from aliens but not from itself?! If he didn't care then, why does he care now? It made little sense, but then this entire episode made little sense and I did not like it. It was essentially a rehash of the Vashta Nerada from the episode Silence in the Library, mashed with the psycho-bots from The Girl Who Waited and a dab of the ridiculous 'mood heads' in the glass cases from The Beast Below ep. The only thing which saved it was Bill's performance again.

On this world there are dwarf robots which cannot speak. they understand English, but respond only with emojis. This was utterly nonsensical. If the Vardy (which is what either the robots or the nanobots were called (we were told that the robots were merely interfaces with the nanobots, but this made little sense given the interactions which came afterwards) were programmed to learn who come they did so bad a job? We're told they were supposed to ensure the colonist were happy. How does killing them even remotely fit this programming?!

The first thing the robots do is hand Bill and The Doctor emoji buttons which sit between their shoulder-blades and display the emotion the person is feeling. Why it's felt important not to let the person themselves know how they're feeling is a mystery. Bill, who is supposed to smile when confused, didn't display that here. In this new world, only happiness is allowed. Failure to be happy is punishable by being rendered into bone-meal for fertilizing the plants. Who programmed that? It's utterly nonsensical! Seriously there was no grief before this woman died? No mom missed her child who was still in stasis? No one hurt themselves working out in the fields and needed a Band-Aid(tm)? No one got depressed about having to leave Earth? No-one got a stomach-ache or a headache or an aching back? None of this made any sense.

Bill learns that an older woman died, and this caused grief, which caused the pycho-bots to kill those grieving, which caused more grief until all the humans who were setting up the residence had been killed. I can't see, even if the bots had not been programmed to understand grief, how this lack of understanding automatically led to murder! It made zero sense or really, really stupid programmers. And if grief was never dealt with, then who programmed the skull emoji which the bots frequently displayed??! If the Vardy were an emerging species, then how come they didn't emerge with empathy since they were a highly-social species?

The Doctor's brilliant plan is to blow up this death trap and save the incoming colonists from it. Why? He seems to have forgotten that he has a time machine! He can fix all of this, and give the child back his mom if he only goes back a few days and warns the colonists of the problem, fixing it then! Yet he never does. It's Bill who saves the day, by learning about the colony and discovering that the colonists are already here. In their meanderings around this spacecraft, both of them seem to have a fascination for a bust of Nefertiti, which is evidently a reference to the ep Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.

The humans begin reviving, triggered by the Doctor and Bill invading their spacecraft. The Doctor merely orders them to stay in the craft and not go outside without even saying a word as to why. When they learn why, they grab guns (with which the craft seems remarkably well-stocked) , and plan revenge by wiping out the bots. Apparently not a one of them has a clue as to how the system works. Why is this? Why doesn't everyone know about the nanobots? Their leader is a medic who apparently never heard the Hippocratic oath.

In the end, the Doctor reboots the bots and this fixes the problem, but he still doesn't go back and fix the problem at its root, so now these colonists are left at the mercy of the ruthless Vardy. meanwhile, The Doctor returns to earth, confidently assuring Bill that it's like they never left. They discover they are not in Bristol, but on a frozen Thames in the historical past, and with an African elephant strolling around during an ice fair. What, the TARDIS doesn't have GPS so that he'd at least know if he was geographically, if not temporarily, in the right place? Pathetic. Hopefully next week's ep will be better than this idiotic one was. It was written by the same guy who wrote In the Forest of the Night which I thought was beyond credible, but at least it was funny! This one, I can't recommend at all. It was a sorry effort, nonsensical, and amateur in the extreme.

10.3 "Thin Ice" by Sarah Dollard (index)

Well, this is a season which started out great but seems to be quickly going downhill! This particular ep was not bad per se, except that it seemed to be using exactly the same locations as were employed in Capaldi's very first ep as The Doctor. Maybe Moffat is getting tired as showrunner after all. The two eps following this were less than thrilling and even more derivative. Sarah Dollard wrote the excellent Face the Raven, which saw companion Clara Oswald depart (kinda!), so I expected better than I got here.

Returning from the colony planet of the previous ep, the Doctor planned on arriving back in Bristol where lies his gig of guarding the mysterious 'vault' which - it seems pretty obvious at this point - has to be imprisoning either The Master, or Missy, or both. The Doctor of course overshoots - or maybe undershoots - and ends up on the Thames in 1814, conveniently at the last of the great frost fairs. He seems confused. Evidently the TARDIS doesn't have any sort of GPS which would have at least told him he wasn't in Bristol and his trick of licking his finger and holding it up to the air seems to have been forgotten here! The Paternoster Gang are not available either, because this is several generations before their era of the late nineteenth century.

The Doctor has his sonic screwdriver stolen by a pickpocket kid who is (shades of the ninth/tenth Doctor's ninth episode) an orphan in a group led by an older girl: Kitty. Nothing new here. Bill notices lights under the ice, but fails to notify the Doctor immediately although he's already seen them (they're so obvious that they ought to have been the talk of the Thames by the time the Doctor arrives.)

The lights zero in on Spider, the pickpocket, and they circle him and somehow drill through the ice. He's pulled through the hole and the ice miraculous seals up without a trace. Rather than go back in time and deal with this problem long before Spider is taken, the 2,000 year old time-traveler acts like there's nothing he can do, until he's berated by Bill, whereupon he equips them with diving suits and thus they encounter some sort of eel of a gargantuan nature occupying so much of the river that it had to interfere with shipping, unless it only arrived with the ice. There's so little water though, that it's hard to see how this thing would not have melted the ice or frozen solid itself.

Apparently it's the pet of the callous Lord Sutcliffe who sells the creature's manure as a coal substitute, which is patently absurd since there would be relatively little of it compared with demand. Sutcliffe plans on blowing up the ice for reasons unexplained, but the Doctor uses his bomb to blow the chains and free the creature. Finally back in Bristol, the Doctor is chewed out by Nardole for abandoning the vault. Someone in the vault is knocking, which conveniently leads to the title of the next episode. Frankly, this episode wasn't awfully bad, but neither was it very special.

10.4 "Knock Knock" by Mike Bartlett (index)

Bill finally leaves her stepmother and foolishly moves into an ancient, creepy house at absurdly low rent with five fellow students who all sign the contract without a single one of them reading it. The landlord is even more creepy than the house, and is played charmingly by Hercule Poirot actor David Suchet. The kids will regret not reading the fine print.

The Doctor, who "TARDISes" Bill's things to the street outside (but not to the room?), becomes immediately suspicious of the house and starts poking around even after the others think he's gone. At this point it's a toss-up as to who is most creepy - The Doctor or the landlord. Everyone is frequently split-up and so don't notice when the first student disappears, but they do notice the second and subsequent ones. They seem to be disappearing into the walls.

The doctor and one of the male students discover strange lice-like arthropods scurrying around, and the student is "dissolved" by a swarm of these right in front of The Doctor and the landlord. The Doctor concludes these things are reminiscent of 'dryads' - spirits of the forest - so once again we're back to the Silence in the Library, although by a different agent here. It turns out that the landlord employed the creatures to preserve the life of the girl who at first appears to be his daughter but who is actually his mother. She's entirely made of wood - a motif which has been used at least twice before in the show (The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe and Jabe formt he Forest of Cheem in The End of the World), so once again, boring derivative stories, I am sorry to report.

Everything is magically set straight as the mom feels guilty and causes the creatures to dissolve herself and her son, and then restores the missing students. The Doctor reports to the vault with food, and calls into through the door that he has a story to tell about a house that eats the residents, whereupon we hear jaunty piano music from inside the vault.

10.5 "Oxygen" by Jamie Mathieson (index)

This was an awful story, almost a remake of the series 9 ep Sleep No More with The Doctor and Bill (and Nardole for a change) on a space station where most people have died and zombie-like corpses, propelled by automated space suits, are pursuing everyone they can, and killing them with a jolt of electricity.

The suits are oxymoronically named 'smart suits' and they've killed their 'organic component' as a business cost-saving measure. Rather than go back in time and fix this problem, The Doctor chooses yet again to put himself, Nardole and Bill at risk against Nardole's better advice, by continuing to explore. They end up, of course, trapped in the space suits, which are the very means used to kill people through a jolt of electricity. Fortunately Bill's suit is malfunctioning, which saves her life when the "suits" manage to zap her.

Unfortunately, she cannot breathe like the Doctor can, so he gives her his helmet and exposes himself to space, which leaves him blind. He lies to her about his blindness being cured. Slowly Moffat is setting him up for a regeneration. Frankly, this ep sucked. The worst of the season so far. At this point, I'm sincerely hoping the down-slide of the season will be better than the up-climb. Seriously how hard can it be, given the poor quality we've had so far?

10.6 "Extremis" by Jamie Mathieson (index)

This ep starts with The Doctor, as a fellow timelord, being sent to execute Missy, since only one of the condemned's own species can do for this job. At first it looks like the Doctor is the condemned, but we no sooner know we got it wrong than the Doctor is freeing Missy and escaping with her, spending the next few decades trying to maintain his promise to keep watch over her for a thousand years.

It was obvious who is in the vault from the start, pretty much. What's not so obvious is why no-one, not the Doctor, not even Bill, so much as comment son, let alone raises the issue of how grotesquely cruel it is to keep someone imprisoned in a vault for a thousand years!

The Doctor is still blind, but only Nardole knows this. That;s why Nardole has to explain who his visitor, the Pope, is. The part with Bill and her potential girlfriend, Penny, is adorable, and far too short, but it's expanded on in the next ep, a little bit, where it's even more adorable.

The Pope, pocne again exhibiting his lack of faith in his god, as he does every time he rides the bullet-proof pope-mobile, wants The Doctor to help him with a document called Veritas, which is said to be cursed - causing people to kill themselves when they read it. This is what happens to the scientists at CERN, who receive a translation. Why this was included is a mystery because it's really irrelevant to the story.

In The Vatican vaults, The Doctor zaps his brain with something which temporarily restores his sight. Meanwhile, Bill and Nardole discover a room of portals which link The Vatican, the Pentagon, and other places - which they do not explore. One of these palces is the White House Oval Room. Nardole discovers that if they step outside the projectors, they cease to exist and he dissolves into a series of blocky, dusty pixels.

Bill enters the Oval Room to find the president having committed suicide and The Doctor sitting at his desk. She starts to tell him about the projectors and the simulated world they live in, but she herself is pixellated into dust. When a corpse-like alien appears to the Doctor, he tells the guy that he's emailing The Doctor (the one in the real world) presses a fingertip to his sunglasses.

This was a much better episode than Oxygen, not that that takes much doing.

10.7 "The Pyramid at the End of the World" by Jamie Mathieson (index)

As soon as Bill manages to get back with her date, Penny, she's interrupted again, this time in real life as opposed to a simulation, and not by the Pope, but by the United nations military who break into her apartment to deliver the UN secretary general who is trying to reach the president. Bill doesn't know The Doctor is Earth's president.

On board a jetliner, they fly to "Turmezistan" where three armies - the Russians, the Chinese, and the Americans, are at a stand-off when a pyramid suddenly appears. It's described as five-thousand year old pyramid, but how they determine this remains unexplained. Bill correctly surmises that it's really a spaceship.

Of course it contains the aliens from the previous episode who announce that Earth is doomed. they can save it, but Earth must submit to their permanent rule - and they must do it willingly and with love for their overlords.

When Bombing fails to destroy the pyramid, the three military leaders go to surrender to the aliens, but their hearts are not pure, and each of them is rendered into dust. The Doctor refuses to submit, but when he finally figures out what the real danger is, and fixes it, thereby saving Earth, he finds himself at risk of dying, In order to save him, Bill, and irritatingly and completely out of character I have to say, strikes a deal with the aliens. The Doctor is saved, but Earth is now owned by the aliens.

This was a much better episode than Oxygen, too. I have to say that Ronke Adekoluejo as Bill's girlfriend, Penny, and Rachel Denning as a scientist, Erica, were stand-outs. It's a pity Bill just joined the Doctor, because I could see Rachel Denning in the role of companion very easily.

10.8 "The Lie of the Land" by Tony Whithouse (index)

After Bill's out-of-character behavior last week, we get even more uncharacteristic behavior this week. The Monks are now in charge of Earth. How that works is a complete mystery because the one thing the Monks stressed is that they have to be accepted and loved otherwise it doesn't work, and there is no acceptance or love here. There's dictatorship and terror, so this completely gives the lie to the previous week's episode. Except for Missy's all-too-brief appearance, I did not like this ep at all, because it felt completely wrong and none of it made any sense whatsoever.

In 1984-style, the Monks are rewriting history to make it appear that they've always been on Earth fostering humankind's evolution and development. Those who deny this are summarily executed without trial by the 'memory police'. This was far too easy. I don't see how this kind of thing could come into being in so short a time (six months), and I sure can't see so many people buying into it so readily and offering so little opposition and all of them wearing a standard dark-blue coverall 'uniform', even given that there's brainwashing going on.

Bill has taken to talking with (and making tea for) her dead Mom, paradoxically to maintain her sanity and to avoid the brainwashing the monks are employing which is transmitted via countless statues of Monks throughout the world. Meanwhile, The Doctor is appearing on television, delivering propaganda in favor of the Monks' rule. This made zero sense given that he has a time machine and could have traveled back easily to a prior time and prevented all of this. One thing after another made no sense. Why did the Monks, for example, still look like corpses? They explained that in a previous episode, but whey does the pretense need to be maintained now? Or is their appearance unchangeable, and this is how they really look?

Nardole shows up at Bill's door intent upon delivering her to The Doctor. This made no sense either. It was like the Doctor was waiting on her showing up before he acted, yet he doesn't need her to fix things! We do have the fiction though, that she's the only one who can fix them because she was the one who sold out to the Monks in the first place. When Bill meets the Doctor (on a ship normally at sea, which has only docked to pick-up supplies), he tells her he joined the monks to save humanity. Believing he's sold out, Bill finally grabs a gun from one of the guards and shoots the doctor, but this is all a set-up to 'test Bill" and see if she's been brainwashed.

This is complete bullshit and made zero sense. It made zero sense that the Doctor couldn't simply read Bill's mind and know if she was brainwashed. It made no sense that Nardole had to go find her given that the Doctor could have saved her immediately after she made the deal with the Monks. It made no sense that Bill, who the previous week sold out the entire planet to save the doctor, would now shoot him dead. Unless of course this is a heavy-handed overture to how Capaldi's Doctor will depart the show, but even so, the event did not traumatize her at all. It was poorly done. Bill is being sadly wasted in the series at this point. She took off like a rocket in the first episode, but now seems to be fizzling after her starburst, in just the same way. This ep sucked big time. I expect better than this from Toby Whithouse. The farcical 'hey, look, I'm regenerating!' scene was ridiculous and has been done too many times already.

After all this The Doctor still has to go talk with Missy - in the vault as I'd previously surmised, so no surprises there - and she advises him to Kill Bill! He has to sacrifice the one who made the deal - the only one who can unmake it. This 'Bill must die' bullshit made zero sense. If she was that critical to the monks' holding on to power, how come she wasn't being held captive somewhere by the Monks for their own protection? Anyway, The Doctor doesn't believe this but he and Nardole and Bill infiltrate the Monks' pyramid starship (shades of Stargate the movie) with no effort at all, and find one lone Monk (who was so reminiscent of the aging Leonard Nimoy as Spock that it was a bit creepy) who is being used to transmit the brainwashing. The Doctor believes he can tap into the brainwashing and free everyone, but he fails.

Only Bill can do this, and she can only do it by thinking of her mom. This again is a signature Moffat retreat into all-powerful womanhood, with Whithouse employing the selfsame theme Moffat had already used in the Christmas special, The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe. But here's the question: why did images of Bill's mom fix the problem? It made no sense. If thoughts of mom could fix the problem, why wasn't everyone already free from thinking of their own mom? Why would thinking of someone else's mom (and a black woman at that - given how many racist are still among us) fix it? And finally, why was The Doctor the propaganda minister? Almost no one on Earth had a clue who he was, so why would they care what he was saying?

Finally, don't trust Missy's conversion - her apparent remorse over her past victims. She claims she could have escaped at any time, but could she? Why would she voluntarily stay there? She wasn't remotely remorseful when she was first placed in the vault. She would have felt resentment and anger and a need to escape, so why did she really stay and why would she start feeling remorse now after all these years of none?

I've been a big fan of Moffat's tenure, but I do believe now is past high time he left because this season is one of the most disappointing, lackluster, and derivative seasons of all. We had to wait over a year for this?! I know he didn't write this episode, and I know he doesn't write next week's - a Mark Gatiss ep revisiting the tired Martian ice warriors - but this season, the show is starting to feel lackluster and devoid of the originality and invention I'd come to expect from Moffat. I hope the down-slope of the season is better than the up has been!

10.8 "The Empress of Mars" by Mark Gatiss (index)

Steven Moffat's departing season is a losing season. It's now official. This was a pathetic little waste of time unworthy of Moffat's tenure or Gatiss's writing. Bring on Chibnall. ASAP.

The Doctor, Nardole, and Bill show up at the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building), which is in Florida, but inside, we're shown the Chris Kraft Mission Control Center, which is in Houston. Someone doesn't know their stuff!

But this is just so the TARDIS crew can see a message on Mars - 'God save the Queen' - written in rocks. Somehow they miraculously date the message to the same year as the gunfight at the Ok Corral: 1881, and two years after the British defeat at Isandhlwana, and subsequent 'against the odds' victory at Rorke's Drift, in South Africa. I mention this because the same kind of soldiers who fought there, are now living on Mars, underground, with an Ice Warrior for a servant!

Magically, there's air on Mars, but only in an extensive underground tunnel network. They know this because there's a fire burning in one of the tunnels - apparently for no other reason than to show that there's oxygen available. Lousy writing.

The empress is called a queen. Doesn't Gatiss know the difference? Queen Iraxxa is played by Adele Lynch, who very ably evoked Sarah Parish's Empress of the Racnoss in The Runaway Bride Christmas episode, and was just as annoying. Uninventive casting.

The soldiers are described in other reviews as "a regiment from the British Army" but no - it's not even a squad! It's a section, which is typically composed of about a dozen men. They discovered the boring Ice Warrior (never been a favorite of mine, but they're better than the tedious Silurians.) on Earth and agreed to help him get back to Mars if he would show them the precious stones and other valuables, they could mine there. He lied.

He shows them how to build 'gargantua' - a machine they think is a weapon, but which is really a drill to mine his way through to his queen, who is of course awakened, struts and poses, makes threats, and is defeated. There are loose threads here which go nowhere and dumb-ass revelations which offer nothing. If anyone other than Moffat's buddy Mark Gatiss had turned this script in it would have been wisely tossed out.

The Doctor's sonic screwdriver has "no setting for wood," we're reminded, but the question unasked here is startling: we're on Mars - so where did the wood come from? The Doctor has the foresight to ask "Where did you get the eggs" when he first meets Clara Oswald who is making soufflets, but here he isn't concerned about the wood which makes up the door to the cell in which he's confined?

Bill is wasted in this show as is Nardole. Neither contributes a damned thing. The only interest was, once again, Missy, whom Nardole now decides to free from her vault in order to pilot the TARDIS which inexplicably flew to Earth of its own accord with Nardole on board, to go back to Mars and Rescue the Doctor and Bill.

I had thought things could not possibly get worse, but this is the worst ever episode of Doctor who in the rebooted series, and a contender even counting the old series, too. The acting was atrocious, the script risible, and the point of the story a complete and utter mystery.

10.10 "The Eaters of Light" by Rona (index)

It seems to be the thing that I am completely out of step with other reviewers this season. Most of the eps I've not liked. This one was an exception, whereas at least a few other reviewers have suggested this one was a bit less than thrilling. Oh well. You don't get anywhere by always agreeing with everyone else, now, do you?!

I noticed that the other reviewers I read seemed to get a few things wrong, as well. The "barbarian" tribe in this episode was not the Picts, despite them being associated in the show with the Pictish doodles on the monoliths. The Picts were resident in the dark ages, but this episode was set prior to that, around the time the Hispanic Ninth legion disappeared from the record books, which was around 108 - 120 AD, before the Picts became a coherent entity. My belief is that the Ninth was indeed destroyed in a fatal battle with northern tribes, but that explanation is disputed by some authorities.

No one knows what the Picts actually called themselves! The name Pict (as in picture) is thought to come from a Roman term indicating that the people were tattooed, but whether this meant vine-like swirls on their faces as depicted here, or simple designs stamped on the body à la woad, is debatable.

Also the alien creatures were never described as being locusts which they clearly are not; they were compared with locusts by The Doctor. He was referring only to their behavior of scouring all before them. The creature apparently ate light. How this worked goes unexplained. How this required feeding on animals (as opposed to say, plants, or reflective surfaces) goes unexplained. Why did the creatures not simply sit out under the sun all day long like the reptiles they seemed to be? How this translated to bodies showing up with no bones in them is a complete mystery which was never explained. The idea of bones being extracted from bodies comes from the 1967 movie, Night of the Big Heat, which itself came from a 1959 novel of the same name by John Lymington. It made more sense in that work of fiction than it did in Doctor Who!

Also since the creature apparently had to make physical contact with its victim in order to 'extract the light', how the Doctor leapt from that to them eating all the stars is a complete and unexplained mystery. Any living thing which makes contact with the sun is going to be burned up and irradiated to hell in short order. I think the stars are safe. But The Doctor lies, so maybe he was just trying to scare the warring parties into cooperation?

So why are the three time travelers here? It's to settle a supposed dispute between Bill and The Doctor about what happened to the Ninth. Bill read a book, whereas The Doctor claims he lived here, which makes you wonder why it is that he doesn't know for sure. Nardole, unprepared in a dressing gown, is concerned only with why, once again, they're leaving Missy unattended in the vault.

When Bill says she's going to wander off down to the river to find the army - and bring back a Roman - the Doctor inexplicably lets her go unaccompanied, which seems to belie his caution in keeping her by his side in earlier episodes, where she's supposedly safe! The first person Bill encounters is a "barbarian" leader named Kar, a young woman who is making an offering in a small fire. Why she had to do this in the middle of a forest rather than where the others in her tribe were goes unexplained. Kar immediately charges at Bill, sword in hand, for no apparent reason, and Bill flees, ending up plunging into a hole in the ground which has also swallowed a Roman soldier, who is young - in fact, everyone in this episode except the Doctor and Nardole are inexplicably teens, and not a one of the Hispanic Ninth is actually Hispanic.

Bill discovers she can talk with the Roman and figures out that the Doctor or the TARDIS is translating for her. Why she didn't figure this out the previous week when she could understand Martians is as much of a mystery as why the TARDIS didn't translate the Pope's rant in the Extremis ep. Anyway, the soldier, ho initially appears trapped there along with Bill, isn't trapped at all. So why he's there in the first place goes unexplained.

He delivers Bill to several other soldiers who had fled the carnage on the battle field, which the Doctor (in another scene) has just discovered. The soldiers are sitting around bemoaning their cowardice, but when Bill arrives, they curiously begin discussing gender preference which seemed out of place to me. We have already comfortably established that Bill is gay. I don't see how there is any value-added in continuously belaboring it for no good reason.

Meanwhile Nardole and The Doctor are prisoners of the locals who await the return of Kar. When she arrives she gives a great speech which in a way compares the predations of the Romans to the behavior of the very creature the Doctor is about to discover. Why no one picked up on this in the ep (and no reviewers did either) is remarkable. Distracting them by tossing un-popped corn kernels onto the fire, The Doctor and Nardole escape their captors, and make their way to a cairn on a hilltop. Since Kar is known as the Guardian of the Gate, The Doctor is evidently seeking out this gate for investigation.

When he enters the cairn conveniently at sunrise, and the sun shines through the entrance, a wall at the back splits and reveals another dimension. After a few seconds observing, The Doctor steps out of the cairn to discover he's been gone for two days and Nardole has all but assimilated himself into the local tribe. It is revealed that Kar, who is responsible for keeping the Eaters of Light penned up in the crack in the wall(!), actually loosed one to take care of the Romans, but now the creature is running wild and dangerously so.

The Doctor has a plan to pen it back up, which involves luring it into the cairn. When it's forced into the crack again, using 'poisoned light'(?!), Kar goes into the crack to keep it there. Why this is necessary is unexplained. The remaining members of the Ninth conveniently go with her. There is some nonsense about crows carrying Kar's name as a memorial, which is why they make the noise they do, but the most interesting thing came at the end, when we discover that Missy is not only running loose in the TARDIS, she's also been working on the engine.

There's a really interesting exchange between her and The Doctor at the end, which is quite romantic, but which shows at the same time how little he trusts her, and how annoying it is to be never sure whether she's faking it really well, or truly is experiencing remorse and on the way to reform. I guess we'll see next week when we apparently have the master show up. We've had several shows with more than one doctor, but never one with more than one master!


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