Talking with Peter Davison, Jemma Redgrave, and Nicholas Briggs at L.I. Who 4

Bonus Paul McGann. Photo by Jen Clapp

Bonus Paul McGann. Photo by Jen Clapp

Posted by Kim and Sage

Once again, the Whovians descended on Ronkonkoma, New York this November for a weekend of discussion, parties, and bumping into hallway Daleks. LI Who is a convention we never miss, and its fourth edition was one for the books. We still owe you a recap of the experience, including a couple of HOF-led panels. But first, we bring you our conversations with three notable members of the Doctor Who family. We had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Peter Davison, Jemma Redgrave, and Nicholas Briggs in the LI Who press room. And though we of course discussed the show, our interviews also touched on musical theater, glitter makeup, and how to tell a British crew member from an American one. (Hint: they react when you yell “Exterminate” at them.) We hope you enjoy our conversations as much we did. –Sage

Peter Davison – The Fifth Doctor

Photo by Jen Clapp

Photo by Jen Clapp

Sage: So I have my DVR set and I was in London last year and I saw you in Gypsy with Imelda Staunton…

Peter: Oh, really? (leans into the microphone) Yes, it airs tonight at 9 o’clock on PBS.

Sage: We were saying they should have done a screening party for us and you could have done live commentary. But it was so joyous and wonderful and you were fabulous, so I just wanted to hear a little bit about that experience and working with her.

Peter: It was great. The production was originally done at Chichester and when it came to the West End, they re-cast the part of Herbie, fortunately for me. I went off and I watched the black and white film version, which although it’s good, it gives you no clue as to how great of a musical it is. I thought “Oh this would be a good thing to do.” I didn’t realize what a great PART it was until I did it. I’d not worked with Imelda before and it was a slightly intimidating experience because she was so amazing all at once. She was very supportive and we got on really well and it was wonderful to do. I used to just sit in admiration of her and her energy.

Sage: I had no idea she had that voice. No idea!

Peter: She trained, she told me, she trained for a year before she started so her voice would be up for it. From my point of view, Gypsy is a play, a really good one when you take out the songs. The story is so well written. It was such a great acting opportunity. It worked really well and audiences seemed to love it. And all these famous people came to see the show! I would meet them after, they would usually just be asking me the way to Imelda’s dressing room. Meryl Streep! “Can you tell me where Imelda is?” She had no idea who I was! But THEN she said something rather nice about me and my performance, so I was happy. Put it on my tombstone.

Sage: As you should, if you got a compliment from Meryl. That’s such a great part too. In musicals, you have the romantic lead or you’ve got the character role. Herbie is just such a KIND person who is in over his head. It’s such a rare kind of part to see.

Peter: It is!

Kim: You just had your book (Is There Life Outside the Box?) come out. I LOVE the title.

Peter: I had such trouble with the title! I was working with a publisher, who shall remain nameless, before the one who eventually published it, who didn’t like the title and just wanted to have a picture of me standing outside the TARDIS on the cover. They named it on their own. I gave them the title and they changed it and advertised it on Amazon with a completely different title. I was a bit cross about that! I wanted to have the subtitle be “An Actor Despairs,” which is a play on the Stanislavski book An Actor Prepares. They didn’t like that, they said people might think it’s a miserable book. Eventually we decided to part company and we went with a publisher who just said “Call it whatever you want!”

Kim: Titles are important! I look at that title and I would pick it up. Is There Life Outside the Box is enough of a nod to Doctor Who

Peter: I think for Doctor Who fans maybe there’s not quite ENOUGH about Doctor Who in there. I thought it was enough; it covers everything, conventions and events like this. But I didn’t want to make it just about Doctor Who, I’ve done other things as well, so I tried to give it equal space.

Sage: When did you start to get the idea “Hey, I would really love to write this down.”?

Peter: A friend of mine who had formerly written a radio series actually came to me and said “Why don’t we do your autobiography?” Meaning, “Why don’t I ghost write your autobiography?” He had done it before and he was very good at it. Because I knew him, I felt I was able to say “I would love for you to act as a go-between the publishers, but I would like to do it myself.” So he said fine and that’s what I did. I started with the book exactly where I said I started, which was the year I began to do Gypsy. I was about to fly to Australia, so that’s why there’s a kind of diary thing that goes through the book. I finally finished it last April.

Kim: And it just came out in October, yes?

Peter: Yes. You know, I’m really glad I did it. Because I tried to not make up stuff. I think sometimes actors tend to embellish.

Sage: Did you have to check in with people? Say, “Am I remembering this correctly?”

Peter: Yes! And sometimes their memories were different from mine and we would have to ask other parties. But quite often my memory was better than theirs! I was very gratified by that. I’m pretty sure it’s all pretty accurate.

Kim: And then going to David to write the foreword…

Peter: Yeah, well how could he get out of that? (Laughs) It was so easy for him! I wrote a highly fake foreword for him, which was based kind of on The Fiveish Doctors and the character I had for him there. So it was basically David complaining that he had been forced into writing the damn thing. But when he sent me his actual foreword, it was so much better that I just dropped the fake one completely. I wanted to put them both in!

Kim: We demand the outtakes for the next one.

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“Keep the secrets, keep the peace.” – Doctor Who Recap

Doctor Who Series 9, Episode 8
“The Zygon Inversion” 

Posted by Kim

All I have to say is thank GOD this episode was kinder to me than the last Peter Harness penned episode I had to recap was. Everyone pour one out for not having to talk about thinly veiled abortion metaphors!

There is a beauty and a frustration (from a recapping standpoint) in the way Series 9 is being presented as six two-parters. It allows the stories to BREATHE but at the same time it’s hard to judge one half without seeing how the story resolves itself. So when the “Zygon Invasion” left me a bit cold, I told myself we were not done with this story yet.  Everything hinged on the resolution.  And boy…what a resolution we got.  These two episodes are truly meant to flow into each other and “Invasion” will benefit from a Netflix binge right into “Inversion”.  I find “Invasion” to be a bit clunky, and I probably always will.  But everything about it was set up for the gloriousness of “Inversion”, so I can forgive its flaws for the most part.  I still don’t think it needed the whole UNIT soldier confronting his Zygon Mum business.  Not when we could have been spending time with Bonnie/Zygella.  ANYWAY.  Sage recapped “Invasion” beautifully, expressing all of her qualms with it.  Now I get to recap what will be one of THE defining episodes of Peter Capaldi’s tenure as The Doctor.  Let’s get to it, shall we?

“The Zygon Inversion” rewinds a little bit, as we flash to Clara’s consciousness waking up in her Zygon pod.  This whole opening reminded me very much of “Last Christmas” (remember how that episode is real?) with Clara in a familiar environment that juuuuuuuust this side of off kilter to where she knows it isn’t real (how creepy was that black toothpaste though?).  Unlike “Last Christmas”, Clara fights against this environment immediately.  She hears the Doctor on the phone with Bonnie, as their consciousness are tied.  She turns on the TV and is able to see from Bonnie’s vantage point (I LOVED that).  She sees Bonnie aiming her bazooka at The Doctor’s plane and she manages to make Bonnie move, causing the missile to swerve off course, missing The Doctor’s big plane.  Bonnie will not be deterred though.  Despite Clara’s efforts to control her body telepathically, Bonnie’s will is stronger. She gets off a second shot and this time, the missile hits the plane. Kaboom. So long, Doctor.  Bonnie walks off triumphantly, a smirk on her flawless red lips.  She’s running things now.

Being that this is Doctor Who though, The Doctor and Osgood escape thanks to the emergency parachutes (The Doctor’s being a Union Jack one because it’s camouflage in England).  They land on a beach (thankfully NOT the location used for Bad Wolf Bay because that would be too much for me) no worse for the wear, other than Osgood’s spectacles being snapped in two.  The Doctor hands her the sonic sunglasses (because they are prescription, natch) and warns her not to look at his browser history (because he was in the middle of a particularly smutty fan fiction? Head canon accepted).  Osgood comments that Sonic Sunglasses are “a bit pointless, like a visual hearing aid” because Steven Moffat KNEW that a faction of the fandom would hate the sonic specs and he can never pass up an opportunity to bite his thumb at fanboys.



Back to the matters at hand, Osgood ponders why Zygon!Clara hesitiated when it came to killing The Doctor.  If it were her, she would have killed the Doctor immediately, not even giving him the chance to speak (“Thanks.”).  But the Zygon hesitated.  Osgood ponders that since the Zygon had Clara’s memory print, she would know not to let the Doctor speak, that he gets all heroic and dangerously convincing when he speaks.  I would argue that Bonnie having Clara’s memory print is EXACTLY why she hesitated, even without us seeing Real!Clara trying to stop her. Why? BECAUSE THE DOCTOR IS THE LAST PERSON SHE WOULD EVER KILL.  We’ve been hit on the head with that concept over and over this series, so much that I am terrified that we’re going to be faced with it in the finale.  Why else would this be a recurring theme? Ugh. I hate everything.

In last week’s recap, Sage shared her annoyance that Osgood, an ordinary girl who was a stand-in for the fans, had been turned into one of Steven Moffat’s extraordinary mysteries.  I share this annoyance becauseit’s not about The Doctor meeting extraordinary people or people he needs to solve/debunk.  It’s about ordinary people finding the strength within themselves to rise to extraordinary circumstances and it’s been a concept Moffat has missed since he took over the series.  Anyway, extraordinary girl though she may be, the one thing that hasn’t changed about Osgood is her HEART and her capacity to empathize.  “You’ve gone quiet because I’ve mentioned Clara,” she says.  “You think she might be dead.”  Osgood KNOWS what it’s like to lose half of herself, having lost her “sister” (I keep wanting to say “seestra” but wrong show!).  She knows that The Doctor sees Clara as an extension of himself, that she’s as essential to him as his limbs are, as the very air that he breathes.  “Are you okay?” she asks and I HURT because she’s so concerned about his emotional well-being.  “I’m still in the hope phase,” The Doctor replies. “How’s that going?” “Hell. Please talk about something else.” This is your obligatory reminder that THIS Doctor is going to be devastated at the loss of his companion and won’t be someone who takes a new one easily.  Sure, he often asks people like Osgood to come along with him but that’s BECAUSE he still has Clara.  Without her, I’m afraid he’s going to be way less willing to open up his hearts again.  I’d like to freeze time please and thank you.

In her Dream State, Clara analyzes the footage of the plane explosion.  Her little smirk when she sees the parachutes gives me LIFE.  She takes advantage of her connection with Bonnie to make her text The Doctor without her counterpart even realizing it.  The Doctor’s phone goes off and when he SEES that he has an incoming message from Clara, he passes the phone off to Osgood because he CANNOT BEAR that this is probably Bonnie taunting him.  BABY.  Osgood reads the message, which says “I’m awake.” The Doctor initially brushes this off as Bonnie rubbing her victory in his face, but Osgood takes it at face value.  “Never really met Clara,” she says. “Pretty strong, yeah?” “She was amazing.” NOPE.  I can’t take The Doctor without hope.  “No. Not was. IS,” Osgood urges.  She deduces that Clara is fighting back in her pod.  “She’s trying to take control, piece by piece.”  Bless her.  “How’s that hope phase now?” “Worse than ever.”

Meanwhile, Bonnie continues going about her evil plan.  She forces a human Zygon to reveal his true self against his will. Between Sleepy Hollow and this episode, it was a banner week for DISGUSTING make-up because that transition is horrifying. “I’m going to set you free,” Bonnie smirks, but what she’s really doing is trying to strike fear in humanity because she KNOWS that the first human instinct is to fight back against something or someone who is foreign and they don’t understand. So we’re still sticking to that slightly heavy-handed metaphor then. Good to know. She makes her way to the UNIT headquarters to retrieve the Osgood box.  She passes by a mirror, where she sees real Clara for the briefest of moments.  At Headquarters, she doesn’t find the box but a laptop.  She queues up a video where the Osgoods reveal that they lied about the location of the box because really…would they be so obvious.  They urge the viewer to stop looking.  “There’s a reason it’s called the Osgood Box. Haven’t you guessed?”  Bonnie throws a temper tantrum and destroys the laptop, which is my exact instinct whenever I am met with the spinning beach ball of doom.

Doctor John Disco, clinging to the glimmer of hope, facetimes Bonnie.  He tries to get a handle on her plan (“You don’t invade planets without having a plan. That’s why they’re called planets, to remind you to plan it.” BLESS HIS DAD HUMOR.) even though she claims she doesn’t have one.  He also calls her Zygella, which marks the second time this series he calls a villain by their actual name instead of the name they chose for themselves.  I find that SO interesting because of this moment from “Day of the Doctor”…

CLARA: Look at you. The three of you. The warrior, the hero, and you.
DOCTOR: And what am I?
CLARA: Have you really forgotten?
DOCTOR: Yes. Maybe, yes.
CLARA: We’ve got enough warriors. Any old idiot can be a hero.
DOCTOR: Then what do I do?
CLARA: What you’ve always done. Be a doctor. You told me the name you chose was a promise.

The Doctor knows more than anyone that we are defined by the choices we make as opposed to the circumstances we are given. So why did he refuse to call Ashildr “Me”? Why does he call Bonnie Zygella?  At first I was going to say he does this because he wants them to remember who they are but that goes against the whole philosophy of CHOICE.  And if there is one thing the Doctor believes in, it’s the power of choice. So I don’t have an answer to this.  I just think it’s interesting and something to ponder.

Using her connection to Bonnie, Clara manages to WINK at The Doctor to signal to him that he can’t give up hope on her and he realizes that she can communicate with him nonverbally.  He gets Clara to confirm where she is and then takes the chance to warn Clara not to let Bonnie into her memories.  It is a very intentional move, one that he points out to Osgood when she calls him out on that.  “The mind of Clara Oswald…she’ll never find her way out,” he says with a dazzling grin.  Can we discuss how much The Doctor loves Clara’s MIND? This is too much for me to deal with.



Bonnie does exactly what The Doctor intended her to do: she immediately goes to Clara’s pod and demands an audience with her counterpart.  Thus, Jenna Coleman gets her chance to do her best Tatiana Maslany and act opposite herself.  I love how Jenna Coleman differentiated between the two, making Bonnie’s voice clipped and her posture severe as if Bonnie can’t quite figure out how to really BE Clara.  At first, Clara is emboldened by the Doctor’s orders that she can’t let Bonnie in.  She’s cocky and self-assured and full-on Doctor!Clara as she taunts Bonnie that this connection between them works two ways.  It’s very reminiscent of “Deep Breath” where she tells Half-Face man to go ahead and kill her.  She’s not afraid of calling Bonnie’s bluff because that’s exactly what it is.  She knows she has something Bonnie needs and as long as she does, she is safe.  Also, she would rather die than betray the Doctor, so there’s that.  What Clara doesn’t count on is that, despite being a brilliant liar, her heart is linked with Bonnie’s.  “The one thing we can never do is lie to each other.” Clara visibly deflates, all her bravado gone. Now there is only fear. Clara tries to give roundabout answers to all of the questions, but that’s the problem with playing “Truth or Consequences” with yourself…Bonnie knows exactly what is going on and Clara is forced to tell the truth.  The Osgood box is in the Black Archive, and the Osgoods, The Doctor, and Clara are the only ones with access to it.  All Bonnie needs to do is just show up because the door is keyed to each of their body prints.  “You can’t give me access because I have access already.”  Clara warns Bonnie that this is a war she can’t win.  What’s worse is that Bonnie knows that she doesn’t have the right to speak for all of Zygonkind…but she’s so laser focused in regards to her own desires that she doesn’t care.  She’s appointed herself to decide what’s right for the rest of her people, damn the consequences, damn what they all claim to want.  She knows better.  “It’s time we stopped giving them a choice.”  Sounds like how political leaders decide whether or not they want to go to war, doesn’t it? (YA BURNT.) Clara warns Bonnie that when she finds the Osgood Box, she will want to speak to her again. “Why is it called an Osgood Box?”  I don’t know, show, but clearly you’re trying to tell us something.

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“It’s not paranoia if it’s real.” – Doctor Who Recap

kill the traitors

Doctor Who Series 9, Episode 7
“The Zygon Invasion”

Posted by Sage

Okay, Doctor Who. Quit mucking about.

I was promised Clara Oswald, full-tilt TARDIS-crazy, taking in all of time and space with the Doctor. There are precious few episodes left before Jenna Coleman’s departure (not-so-friendly reminder that we actually don’t know when that will be), and she’s sending Twelve’s calls straight to her voicemail? I understand that it might not always be practical for the Doctor and Clara to fight the monsters together, but I actually groaned when he instructed his companion to stay and defend her country while he jetted off to the alien-controlled village in Turmezistan in “The Zygon Invasion.” I’m a Doctor Who fan, so I’m a pro at ignoring plot holes. But no one has bothered to explain to me why Clara is maintaining her life on Earth when all the pre-season press previewed exactly the opposite. Worse still, the Clara we spend most of “The Zygon Invasion” with wasn’t actually Clara at all but Bonnie, the high command of the rebellious Zygon splinter group. HEAVY SIGH. At least she’s hot.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Osgood is alive. Kind of.

my sister

The episode opened with a flashback to the 50th anniversary special, and Ten and Eleven joining sass-forces to persuade human-Kate and Zygon-Kate into establishing a peace treaty between their species. “The key to perfect negotiation?” Eleven asks. “Not knowing what side you’re on,” Ten answers. Boys, just taking a minute to let you know: I love the new guy, but I still miss you all the time. xoxo, Sage.

Anyhoo, the crux of the peace treaty is secrecy. 20 million Zygons are distributed around the world, with the promise that they’ll stay under cover in their human form. Operation Double is on a need-to-know basis, even within UNIT. And our Osgood is the embodiment of the spirit of the treaty. The Master destroyed Osgood in the Series 9 finale because she was jealous that the Doctor admired her. Her “return” proves Osgood to be even more brave than we or the Doctor imagined. She volunteered to share a “live-link” with her Zygon double, and the result was an entirely symbiotic relationship that left the surviving Osgood “mad with grief” after her “sister’s” death.

As pleased as I am to have Osgood back on screen and sharing the President Of The World’s personal plane, I feel cheated by the circumstances. Osgood became a fan favorite after her very first scene in the 50th, because she was – and Moffat claims is still – a stand-in for the audience. The UNIT scientist was an out-and-proud Doctor fangirl, who charmed the man himself with her brilliance and courage. She always asked the right questions, never hesitated to put herself in danger if it could serve the greater good, and confidently donned the Doctor’s favorite accessories in his presence. Bow ties are cool, and there was no shame in Osgood’s game. Now, she’s another victim of Moffat’s “extraordinary woman” habit, as if we ever needed her to be more than just a really smart, cool human who the Doctor could count on.

The Osgoods explain the treaty in a video that they recorded in case of an emergency, whether that’s one of their deaths or what they call “the nightmare scenario” – the end of the human/Zygon ceasefire. They have a large cube on the table between them that they call “The Osgood Box.” The Doctor left it with them after hands were shaken on the agreement. What’s in it is still up for debate, but it’s powerful enough that the rebels want it bad. Bonnie has possession of The Osgood Box at the end of this episode. We can rule out it containing a weapon (at least in the traditional sense) because the Doctor doesn’t just hand over WMDs to people who already have too much firepower for his liking. In fact, he’s more likely to confiscate those WMDs like the neighbor whose yard became a graveyard of your old frisbees and softballs. (“I keep it now!”)

dna dna 2
There’s an outside chance that the box could contain Z67; if it came down to choosing, the Doctor would always pick humans over Zygons. (He’s snogged more humans, anyway.) But that’s counter to his pacifist agenda, and besides, what would the Zygons do with a weapon that only kills their own? High command has already achieved dominance over the less radical factions. The Zygon-v-Zygon battle is over. It’s the Zygon-v-human war that’s about to begin.

I used the word “species” above, but I’m sure you noticed that the Osgoods use a different qualifier to describe Zygons and people. “Every race,” they say, is capable of the best and the worst. Because this is a Peter Harness episode; and if “Kill The Moon” taught us anything, it’s that you should be wearing a hard hat to guard against clunky symbolism. “Their shape-changing abilities should not be considered a weapon,” they continue, which basically means, don’t be afraid of people who are different than you. In the words of Cher’s debate teacher Mr. Hall, “Tolerance is always a good lesson, even when it comes out of nowhere.” But the racial undertones of “The Zygon Invasion” quickly take a confusing turn when the conflict escalates. If this story is about the dangers and the injustice of forced assimilation, then who’s in the wrong? Was the Doctor wrong for encouraging the humans and Zygons to choose peace over conflict? Are the rebel Zygons wrong to want to “live as ourselves”? Not every Doctor Who story draws a clear line between good and evil, but let’s face it: the rebel Zygons are seen manipulating human fears with no remorse and zapping quite a lot of people dead. I don’t know why a writer would want to force a metaphor so zealously that simply can’t be resolved in a way that isn’t problematic. Ugh, my head hurts. Can I talk about the planets now?


Living Osgood interrupts the Doctor’s “Amazing Grace” guitar solo (Let Me Live, Peter Capaldi, Part 3/?) to alert him to the Zygon crisis. And because Clara won’t answer her damn mobile (EVER SINCE I LEFT THE CITY YOU), Doctor Disco is left alone to address the UNIT-recognized Zygon High Command. Under the treaty, they’re two primary school girls named Jemima and Claudette; the Doctor doesn’t need to see their true shape to know it. (“It’s a splendid way to conceal your blobbiness. But let’s not pretend: you two are very blobby.”) The girls reject the Doctor’s offer of help for dealing with the rogue Zygons, claiming that their race are part of their own jurisdiction. And look: the racial parallel gets weird and uncomfortable again, because these two are eventually destroyed by their own, and, in this case, should have allowed an outside entity who doesn’t share their experience to police them. *headdesk*


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“Death is for other people, dear.” – Doctor Who Recap

doctor who little boy

Doctor Who Series 9, Episode 1
“The Magician’s Apprentice”

Posted by Sage

For better or for worse, Steven Moffat has never been afraid to touch the Doctor Who mythology and mold it as he likes. This is good. It’s necessary. Fans are particular and no media-maker in the English-speaking world knows better than Moffat that you can’t please everyone. But we can’t keep putting pieces of the show behind glass and swatting away any hand that dares get close. Not if it’s going to survive another 50 years.

Now that a Doctor Who series premiere is a full-fledged international event, there are certain expectations of scale. These expectations are automatically filled when there’s a new companion to introduce and certainly, a new Doctor. But for a run like Series 9 with a returning team, the stakes have to be raised through the story itself. In this case, Doctor Who doubled down on classic villains. The last time that happened, Rose Tyler got trapped in an alternate universe. Gird your loins, Whovians.

Of all the surprises in “The Magician’s Apprentice” (and holler to the preview audiences for not spoiling them!), I was most thrown to see Clara Oswald in a classroom again. (We talked about this, Whouffaldi.) After “Last Christmas” and coming to terms with Danny’s death, Clara was all in for time and space, 24/7/365. (All units of time measurement that should, ironically, be irrelevant to her now.) No more of this “every Wednesday,” companion-lite business. Wednesdays are for suckers. Need I remind you that Twelve and Clara ostensibly eloped in that episode and that Clara didn’t even pause to change out of her jim-jams before their giggly, hand-in-hand run to the TARDIS? Ohhh, I’ve given myself the “Last Christmas” feels. I need a cold compress. Lead me to my fainting couch.

That the Doctor is going through some shit was apparent in both prequels to “The Magician’s Apprentice,” but we never were told why exactly he and Clara were separated. We all agree that the first trip they took after the credits rolled on the Christmas special was to Bath to take a turn about the ballroom with Jane Austen, yes? Continued head canon: the Doctor always suspected that Jane and Clara would get on well, ever since he listened in to Miss Oswald lecturing her class about Pride & Prejudice. He just didn’t expect them to get on that well. He got lost on the way to the toilet and walked into an otherwise occupied drawing room instead. What he saw in that other room – the drafty one that the family never uses – left him a little pink, and Clara didn’t stop teasing him about it for three weeks. Mostly because she was pleased to learn that this regeneration does get embarrassed sometimes. Actual canon: Clara Oswald is bisexual.  Doctor Who is back, and Clara Oswald is bisexual. Sometimes, I can’t believe our luck.

If I don’t get my Jane episode soon, I’m writing it myself. Looking at you, Gatiss.

OH YES. This episode.  So…the planes have stopped. And presumably there’s a shortage of airline customer service professionals, because every last one of them quit.

you so fine

UNIT’s got Clara Oswald on speed dial, and the President can wait, thank you very much. This scene felt a little extraneous, to be honest. Surely Missy (who’s not dead, naturally) could have gotten Clara’s attention any old way. But the old girl loves it when all eyes are on her, and Kate’s involvement gave Missy the extra satisfaction of taking out a few of her best men in front of her. And I would like to take this moment to officially declare that no amount of Missy will ever be too much Missy for me. This statement may well be tested to its limit in the future (*shakes fist* Moffat!), but Michelle Gomez is a casting boon for this show and this Doctor. Usually when “The Master” is in a Doctor Who story, it’s “The Master” show. How tremendously brilliant to make her an honorary TARDIS team member for an episode, to explore how her friendship with the Doctor looks when she’s not in the middle of a scheme and to give Gomez free rein to smirk, play, and fondle a Dalek’s balls. I’m a sucker for “we don’t trust this person, but we need their help” stories across all genres, and this is a fun one to add to the list.

love claralove missy
Credit where it’s due: Missy may have alerted Clara to the fact that the Doctor is in need of their help, but it’s Clara who knows him well enough to track him down. It’s always been the Master’s unwillingness to acknowledge the fundamental differences between the Doctor and the rest of their race – the impact that his travels and his other “puppies” have had on him – that prevents her from being able to fully ensnare him in her web of toxic co-dependency. She’s so smug when she explains to Clara the difference between “a friendship older than your civilization” and “the reproductive frenzy of your little food chain” (and why does she assume that Clara cares about his romantic capabilities, hm?), yet it’s Clara zeroing in on another point of contrast between the Doctor and other Time Lords that lead the ladies right to his going away party. (“Do not go gentle into that good night.”) Human emotion and human company aren’t worth the pin on the back of Missy’s cameo brooch; the Doctor thinks we look like giants. They will never agree on this, and that divergence gives the companion all the power.

doctor guitar doctor guitar 2
Meanwhile, in other centuries, I don’t know why Peter Capaldi won’t just let me exist in peace. (I saw a guy today wearing a shirt that said “Long Live Death” and my reaction to this scene was the first thing I thought of.) A split-second of Twelve’s “axe fight” made it into the Series 9 trailer, and the entire fandom knows by now that our current Doctor is authentically a rock star. Still, a Time Lord guitar solo could have gone so wrong in so many ways. And it certainly wouldn’t have fit anywhere in Series 8. That tank may as well be draped in a giant “CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT” banner as it rolls into the arena for the way it heralds the Doctor’s new confidence in this version of himself. (Me: “He’s just so warm now.” Kim: “Because he finally got laid.”)

In all seriousness, this performance just gets better the more Capaldi settles into it. The way that he interacts with people now is markedly different than it was in Series 8, but it’s not jarring. The need to relate, befriend, and even to entertain come from the same place that his hesitation once did. “Who frowned me this face?” he asked that tramp back in “Deep Breath.” And Davros too makes a crack about how he’s grizzled since the last time they met. (GLASS HOUSES, DAVROS.) But over the course of the last year, the Doctor decided to show that face who’s boss. He’s not a cranky, old man who wants to be left alone to contemplate his role in the sorrows of the universe; he’s Keith Richards, and he wants to rage, rage against the dying of the light.

pretty woman

pretty woman 2

Ummmm, who’s going to tell these three actors, Steven Moffat, and Roy Orbison himself via seance if necessary all that official jazz about Whouffaldi being a “fatherly” and platonic relationship? ‘Cause I don’t think they know. At the BAFTA Wales screening and Q&A that we got to attend in New York this spring, Moffat explained once again the motivation behind all of the Doctor’s clueless remarks about Clara’s appearance. (“Clara Oswald, you’ll never look any different to me” was pay-off enough for this shipper trash, but I’ll take these additional comments too.) “It’s fun to see these early episodes and watch the Doctor pretend he doesn’t fancy Clara,” the showrunner said. “He’s very ‘You’re gross, I don’t like you, but really stop looking so good.'” In other words: “mmmMMMOHMYGOD. Stop fuckin’ lyin’.”

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“Pain is a gift.” – Doctor Who Recap

doctor who mr president conquer the universe

Series 8, Episode 12
Death in Heaven
Posted by Sage

Pain is a gift. Fear is a superpower. And the only man you’d possibly want in charge of all the world’s armies is an idiot.

I watched “Death in Heaven” on a bed full of friends in my hotel room at L.I. Who, with a sippy cup full of wine in my hand and Paul McGann, Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and other Doctor Who royalty just a few doors down the hall. And no matter their content, I almost always enjoy the episodes I watch in company more than those I watch alone. This is a series that’s meant to be shared. So, kindly indulge my rosy take on things and blame it on the 3-day Whovian love-in.

I’m not alone in my feelings. After the episode, we booked it downstairs to an instant reaction panel moderated by our girl Deb Stanish (and almost got kicked out, but that’s a story for another post) and the response from our fellow fans was pretty positive, across the board. Maybe it’s because Moffat was working with an established villain, but the series 8 finale buttoned up story in a way his past season-enders have not. There are ends that remain untied, but time will tell which are continuing mysteries and which are plot holes, cheerfully skipped right over. Obviously, we’re all hoping for more of the former.

doctor who cyberman graves

Absolutely NOT.

After the show totally went there with Danny Pink and revealed Missy as the Master, the time came to reveal her devious bat-ass-shit-crazy-as-frick plan. And in the TARDIS team (and friends) response to that threat, all the questions swirling around this series joined hands and formed a giant chain of THEME. Is this regeneration a good man? What does being a soldier tell you about a person? What doesn’t it tell you? Why are we so obsessed with the concept of an after-life? Why do people without a clue continue to call this a kids’ show?


We’ve been teased with visions of the Nethersphere all season. (And wondered right here on this blog why only people who gave their lives for the Doctor or to ensure his eventual victory seemed to end up there.) Now we know that this place is actually a data cloud of consciousness – “hell” to some, “the promised land” to others. Missy has been traveling (presumably since John Simm’s Master dusted himself off after “The End of TIme”) back and forth along the Doctor’s timeline, “saving” unwitting accomplices to her Cyberarmy. (“Bit of an upgrade.”) She preys on vanity, on fear of death, and on sacrifice. While the Doctor is constantly chasing opportunities for humans to surprise him, the Master uses what she knows of humanity against us. She’s good.

But why, the Doctor keeps asking. Why, why, why? He needs motive. Motive is usually his way in. Most of the villainous species he runs up against are trying to survive, to protect, to grow. But The Master? The Master only ever thinks of the Doctor. (“I need you to know we’re not so different. I need my friend back.”) She has no other motive. Not money, not power. Her plans are always designed to draw the Doctor in, which makes them difficult to avoid and impossible to predict. I wrote in my “Into the Dalek” recap that if anything, the Doctor defines himself by what he is not. And every one of his personal codes is tested when he runs into his childhood friend. Because, on the other hand, the Master is the only creature in this dimension who also knows what it’s like to feel the turn of the Earth.

doctor who payrollon the payroll doctor who
Missy had to have foreseen UNIT’s getting involved in this whole global Cyberman takeover, though I’m not sure that she anticipated the President of the Earth business. Me? I’m just happy to see lady Earth defenders extraordinaire Kate Lethbridge-Stewart and Osgood swoop in for their first (and in SOME horrible cases, last) adventure with Twelve. Ingrid Oliver remains adorable, especially since Osgood has traded her multi-colored scarf for a new, more streamlined accessory.

doctor who osgood bowtie

*ugly cry*

Osgood’s death hurt like hell. I’d never pretend otherwise. She represented the fan girl in all of us and we could have used her clear-headed assistance a few dozen more times. Some audience response has decried her death as pointless and cruel. Well…yeah. Isn’t that just the Master’s way? I do believe that’s the point – that she didn’t go out in a blaze of glory, and that Missy didn’t need to kill her to advance her scheme. “Why does one pop a balloon?” Missy asks her. “Because you’re pretty.” One might also pop a balloon to ruin a child’s day. The Master sees the Doctor’s companions as his distractions – his playthings. And she’s forever jealous of them. Osgood died because the Doctor admired her, and we have yet another TARDIS pair that could have been but never was.

time and space doctor whodoctor who i'm sorry
Frankly, it’s the only item on my bucket list, Doctor. Anyway, Osgood’s death is quick and dirty because the real linchpin of Missy’s operation is Miss Clara Oswald. Moffat knew his “master” plan (rimshot please) at least as early as series 7B. Missy was the “woman in the shop” who gave Clara the Doctor’s number in “The Bells of St. John” and the “needy ego-maniacal game player” who placed the “Impossible Girl” advertisement in the newspaper in “Deep Breath.” Since she’s been stomping all over the Doctor’s timeline, isn’t it possible that Missy saw several shades of that impossible girl along the way? She hand-picked Clara for this job, just like The Moment hand-picked Rose Tyler as its interface. This was the one who would lead the Doctor right where Missy wanted him.

doctor who control freakdoctor who go to hell
And here’s where all the “control freak” comments pay off. My mom said to me on the phone the other day, “You have high standards for people, and sometimes they’re impossible to meet.” That’s the kind of control freak I am, and the kind Clara Oswald is as well. It’s why she puts the Doctor through his paces like few companions have and why she won’t sit and be chastised by Madame Vastra when she smells hypocrisy. Missy knew that Clara simply wouldn’t accept the death of someone she loves, especially one so mundane and unworthy of him. This means that Missy or one of her “boys” definitely killed Danny Pink, right? I imagine her behind the wheel, looking like something like this.

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Day of the Doctor: A Comprehensive List of All the Times We Overreacted

David Tennant Excited

Posted by Sage

It’s been a beautiful week to be a Whovian.

Not that it isn’t always. But it’s not every week that we get to celebrate the five-decade history of our most precious show. The plans have been in motion and anticipation building in the back of our minds for so long that, by the time the anniversary finally came around, it almost took us by surprise.

Obviously, we still had the wherewithal to plan a little viewing soiree complete with authentic Jammy Dodgers, marshmallow Adipose, “fish fingers and custard” and a whooooooole lotta vodka for five girls. (Check out blog/IRL friend Kelly’s piece on the party over at the TV Mouse!) Emotions were high. Expectations were higher. And, oh my Gallifrey, did “Day of the Doctor” deliver. And so we give you a comprehensive list of all the times we overreacted during Doctor Who‘s 50th Anniversary special.


Billie Piper Day of the Doctor

If you don’t have anything nice to say about Rose Tyler, kindly show yourself out of the HOF door. Kim and I had an insane caps-locky text conversation the morning the BBC announced that Billie and David would be returning for the special. But the elation soon took a turn into fear and even dread. Moffat doesn’t like Rose. He’s called her a “needy girlfriend.” (Continuing his campaign to be named Male Showrunner Feminist of the Year, I see.) When last we left Rose, she was snogging TenToo on a beach, heading towards a happy life in Pete’s World with her half-human Doctor. What if Moffat blew holes in our ship? Or worse, minimized Rose and her importance in the canon?

Those fears were unfounded. Even though Billie wasn’t playing Dame Rose Tyler of the Powell Estate and there was zero interaction between her and Ten, we’re actually quite pleased. Why? Because The Moment chose Bad Wolf Rose as the form to take to appear to the Doctor. Out of any companion from his past or future, THIS is what it chose. And though the misalignment of the time streams mean that the War Doctor won’t remember any of these events once he regenerates into Nine, you cannot convince me that some vague flash isn’t triggered the first time he hears “Bad Wolf” in Series 1. Or could it even be that it’s this latent memory that actually leads him to the basement of Henrick’s that night? I NEED A MINUTE.

Doctor Who The Interface is Hot

I’ll say.

Did I mention that Billie was AWESOME? That outfit. That voice. We saw the special again in theaters on Monday night and – with the absence of our own screams – were able to hear her dialogue that much better. It was intense and mysterious and SO Time-Vortex-Rose. RTD must be proud. “You know the sound the TARDIS makes? That wheezing, groaning. That sound brings hope wherever it goes.” It felt good to see Bad Wolf Rose again as a guardian angel for her Time Lord love. “I want you safe, my Doctor.” Sigh. Thank you for respecting our favorite companion, Moffat. A basket of mini-muffins is on its way.

David Tennant’s Entire Being

Day of the Doctor Tennant Glasses

I love Matt. I love Eccles. There are no flaws in either of their performances and I accept them both 100%. But every single time David Tennant was on screen, my body (and my mouth, as our friend Jaime pointed out), would scream, “MY Doctor.” Everyone has one, and he is mine.

After almost four years, Tennant stepped easily back into character (and into the same suit). And it was just like he never left. He’s still got the face, the sass, the unmistakable body language. And an “Allons-y!” has never sounded more beautiful. His joy is palpable, and I hope this won’t be the last time Ten runs into himself. Speaking of…

Eleven + Ten = BROTP

Day of the Doctor Ten and Elevent

Screw paradoxes. Can’t these two join forces and travel together forever? Chinny and Sandshoes to the rescue? No? Fine.

If we had to settle for this one glorious buddy-comedy of a special, then at least it gave us plenty of gif-able moments. Ten popping on a fez. Eleven ribbing Ten for being so emo and girl-crazy. Let One Direction try in their entire career to generate the amount of squeals that David and Matt did when they put on their glasses at the same time. As a pair, they were everything we fangirls could have possibly wished for.

The War Doctor Meets His Future Selves

Day of the Doctor His companions

We assumed that John Hurt’s Doctor would be dark and intimidating and no fun at all, really. But despite being the one regeneration that he never speaks of, he’s still the same man. And that man is a cheeky old bastard.

You can imagine how this grizzled warrior-type must feel when he runs into these dreamy, nattily-dressed whippersnappers. And that dialogue was some of the best in what I think is one of Moffat’s finest scripts. “Am I having a mid-life crisis?” Hee.

“No, sir. All thirteen.”

Doctor Who Peter Capaldi Eyes

Apologies to anyone in a half-mile radius of our viewing party because we LOST OUR DAMN MINDS when Capaldi showed up onscreen. Any qualms anyone had about the decision to cast him should have been blown TO TINY PIECES by this split-second preview. That’s our Doctor, you guys. And I can’t wait to meet him.

The Easter Egg Hunt

Day of the Doctor Nice Scarf

Modern and Classic Who references were everywhere and we’ll probably find new ones every time we watch it. Spotting each one was a little thrill, from River’s shoes, to the sign from “An Unearthly Child,” to Jack’s vortex manipulator to the machine that goes “ding” when there’s stuff. We FINALLY know why Elizabeth I has a vendetta against the Doctor. And Four’s scarf couldn’t have landed on more worthy shoulders than Osgood, the heroic and science-y asthmatic who represented the entire fandom. For as much grief as we give Moffat, he made US a character in the 50th Anniversary. And an incredibly important one too. Aw. Deep down, he loves us. He really loves us.

That Moment Where Ten’s Hearts Pounded Right Out of His Chest

Did You Just Say Bad Wolf

This Ten/Rose close-call was our second loudest reaction of the day. How could we not when David’s face was doing the thing? Look at him. He has literally forgotten everything else that’s going on (you know, the pending genocide) and only cares where and how and from whom the War Doctor got those words. And just like that, the moment passed.

Day of the Doctor Bad Wolf GirlDay of the Doctor Yep That's Going to Happen


May we also point out that, while Ten’s hair was relatively (and disappointingly) flat throughout the rest of “Day of the Doctor,” he has a noteworthy “hair boner” (copyright Kim Rogers) only when he’s sharing the frame with Rose? And don’t you dare say that the height and placement of David’s hair is not significant, because it is the most reliable barometer of Ten’s emotional state that we have. You know this is true.

The Doctor Forgives Himself

Don't Have to Do It Alone

I don’t want to say that I spend a lot of time thinking about Steven Moffat’s balls, but he sure must have some big ones to completely flip the script on the show’s mythology. In Modern Who, the Doctor’s entire character and thereby the plot of the show is built on the foundation of his guilt over destroying the Time Lords with the Daleks on the last day of the Time War. Though “Day of the Doctor” didn’t change anything for Nine or Ten (who are still miserable, womp womp), it DOES rescue Gallifrey from certain doom and set Eleven (and Twelve, I’m sure) on a mission to find it. And it gave the Doctor the opportunity to forgive himself for what he did when he couldn’t find another solution. Freezing Gallifrey could ONLY have worked with every regeneration working together, so there’s no reason to hold the War Doctor’s actions against him any more.

And let’s not forget Clara’s role in this momentous decision. The “Impossible Girl” finally got a little character and it’s looking really good on her. What she did wasn’t mystical or alien or fantastic. She simply empathized with her Doctor. She couldn’t stand to watch him push the button, knowing how it would break him. In as unbiased a way as I can, I’ll say that she reminded me so much of Series 1 Rose in that scene. I’m so glad her mystery is solved and we can get to know Clara Oswald as a person.


War Doctor Regenerates

Yes, yes, we all know that Eccleston has vowed never to return to Doctor Who. But I wasn’t going to give up hope of seeing him until the very end of the closing credits. When the War Doctor started to regenerate, all five of us watching together stood up, held hands, and screamed at the top of our lungs like we were trying to conjure him. Were fangirl powers worth the strength of our love for Nine, he probably would have appeared in the middle of that very room. Alas, he did not. Maybe he’ll get over his issues by the 75th.

Ten’s Last Words – Again

Day of the Doctor I don't want to go

No. Nein. Nyet. Nope.

Our theater was relatively quiet until this scene, when all the “aw”s broke loose. How could we forget that seeing Ten again meant we’d also have to say goodbye to him again?

Tom Baker Melts Your Cold, Dead Heart

Day of the Doctor Tom BakerDay of the Doctor Tom Baker Perhaps I was you

The fourth Doctor returned to Doctor Who for the first time ever as “The Curator” (hmmm….) and shared a scene with Matt Smith that could not possibly have been more sentimental or affecting. I’m jealous of young fans who watched with their parents, who I’m sure feel the same way about Baker as we do about Tennant. He is the ORIGINAL Mad Man with a Box (look at those eyes, still!) and again,Moffat hit it out of the park with this scene. It was a gorgeous tribute to the show’s history and I can imagine that there wasn’t a dry eye on the set when it was filmed.

Day of the Doctor ending

Happiest of birthdays, Doctor Who, from Head Over Feels. We wouldn’t exist without you. Here’s to 50 more years of space and time.