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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Doctor Who thing: “The Name of the Doctor” prequel minisode

It’s called “She Said, He Said”:

Have we gotten a sense that Clara is “perfect” for the Doctor? Or that Clara has been tricking herself so as not to fall in love with the Doctor? I’m not sure I’ve seen that. I think we’d need a lot more than the few epsiodes we’ve had with them together to see such things.

There are a lot of promises implied and outright made here — We’re going to learn all the Doctor’s secrets! — that it will be almost impossible for Moffat to satisfy. If he tells all, the mystery is gone, so he can’t do that. But if he doesn’t tell all, we’re gonna feel cheated. Again.

What on Earth is he thinking?

(My blogging on “Nightmare in Silver” probably won’t be ready till tomorrow. Sorry!)

(If you stumble across a cool Doctor Who thing, feel free to email me with a link.)

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daily doctor | tv buzz
  • SHE’S GARTH OF IZAR! No wait, wrong franchise.
    SHE’S THE MASTER! No wait, wrong plot twist.

  • RogerBW

    I agree; this level of hype can’t be anything but self-defeating in terms of the fan reaction. On the other hand, I think Moffat has consciously tried to put fandom behind him and instead make a popular, indeed populist, programme. One fan viewer is worth just as much to the BBC as one casual viewer.

  • Jem

    The fact that it is necessary to have this prequel to tell us IN CAPITAL LETTERS with appropriately dramatic musical flourishes that their relationship is so remarkable and deeply felt simply underlines that this hasn’t successfully been conveyed in the storyline itself.

    Good thing The Doctor didn’t whip out his sonic as well given his behaviour (and roving eyes) in the last couple of episodes. Apparantly he particularly likes those tight little skirts that add to her perfection as his companion.


  • b.lynch black

    i can only say… yuck!

  • Will Clara be as conveniently unmade as she has been constructed? Will we get a new assistant after the season finale?

  • Clara seems to be around for the 50th anniversary episode, so I would think not.

  • Danielm80

    The episode won’t meet everyone’s expectations (how could it?) but I’m still looking forward to it for one reason: I have no idea what’s going to happen next. I’m happy that Moffat is trying something that’s risky and unpredictable. I wish more showrunners were trying this hard to surprise the audience and break convention. My guess is that he’ll answer some of our questions but do it in a way that creates even more mysteries. I’m perfectly okay with that: I like mysteries. And maybe the episode will work and maybe it won’t, but for now, I’m glad to be along for the ride.

  • I rolled my eyes at the “try not to fall in love” bit.

  • MisterAntrobus

    His name is Cosmo, right?

  • A little, naughty bit of me hopes she is the 12th Doctor.

  • soily

    The Radio Times review does seem to indicate that Moffat finally delivers on his promises.

  • Danielm80

    I’m picturing the fanfic about Eleven and Twelve in a dark corner of the TARDIS, and it makes my head hurt.

  • Joanne

    There was a Culture Club documentary on JJ Abrams on Saturday night (BBC2, it’ll be on iPlayer) in which the interviewer Mark Kermode asked Abrams about his “mystery box”. Apparently it’s a $15 box of magic tricks Abrams bought when he was young, which he’s never opened. Because there’s more joy in wondering what’s inside than actually finding out. I kind of feel that way about the Doctor’s name and his “greatest secret” – I have a horrible feeling it’s going to be a let-down, despite the fact I do like Moffat’s stuff.

  • Jem

    Yes – all of the pre-episode buzz from critics who have seen the episode are extremely laudatory – not seen even one minor quibble about the episode. Seems to be that this may challenge ‘Blink’ critically as Mr Moffat’s greatest episode.

    If Mr Moffatt *can* satisfactorily wrap up the Clara story, finally resolve The Doctor’s relationship with River Song and explain most of the loose plot threads going back through all of his episodes in 45 minutes – very well done indeed Sir! Further, if this can be done without recourse to reset buttons and wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey plot devices, then the audacious game changing episode promised will have been delivered.

    Mr Moffat is a clever enough writer to pull this off, but if all of this can be done AND it is emotionally satisfying WITH consistent characterisation of the main characters, then my hat will be well and truly doffed.

    I am certain that there is a reason that Clara’s emotional responses have been so öff” since her introduction and The Doctor’s reaction to her is also so odd. I have to now assumed that the uneven tone of this season has been down to poor script editing and editorial oversight. I do hope that after the “reason” is disposed of, Clara becomes a more straightforward companion who can share the wonder of space and time travel, rather than a quip machine with great hair and a cute-as-a-button wardrobe.


  • Paul

    Huh! Call yourself a fan? You should be ranting about John Hurt and how Moffatt deserves to die. How can you be so reasonable about it?

    (This, by the way, is my perverse way of saying that I completely agree with you)

  • Bob

    I’m trying to ignore the hype, so my expectations aren’t too high for this episode-but both parts of Season 7 have been so much fun, that I’m pretty sure whatever Moffat does with the Clara mystery is going to be okay with me. The individual stories have been satisfying, and consistently entertaining, with the Clara story kept as a bit of background intrigue, rather than being too central. I’m having trouble believing my own ”reasonableness”!

  • Paul

    There’s a lot to be said for being reasonable. The etymology is interesting, too, with the difference in meaning with the French raisonable being illuminating. In English culture, the idea of something being logically deducible became intertwined with the ideas of moderation and co-operation. There are critiques which can be levelled at this notion, but I think the current fan hysteria demonstrates where it’s coming from.

  • DuffPaddy

    I think you mean Culture Show, unless Boy George was the interviewer.;-)

    But yes, I tend to agree. The Clara reveal may well be good, but I can’t see what could possibly be thrilling or shocking about the Doctor’s name. Either it’s a generic so-what name we’ve never heard before, or he’s the alter-ego or relative of a known character., which would risk pulling the rug from underneath the whole show. For a show with this much backstory, any game-changing revelations at this stage risk undermining a lot of the previous history, and would very likely mean that a number of previous episodes no longer make sense.

    Of course it’s only fair to give Moffat a chance, but I’ll be stunned if he pulls this off.

  • I’m arming myself against disappointment.

  • I’m a little worried about speculating about the series finale when the truth is already out there. One only speculates about things that one thinks are true, but what if they really are true and people then assume that you’ve been peeking and blagging?

    Still, I’m stuck in a conference in Rio, and my mind is wandering to things Doctory. Do we know for certain that the first Clara that we met was actually a genuine Clara? Or was that Dalek a genuinely mad genuine Dalek who was placed into the asylum after it was accidentally imprinted with real Clara’s memories and personality? After all Darla von Karlsen was a human who was ’emptied’ and imprinted with a new personality. Presumably this technique was tested on Daleks first…

  • tinwatchman

    Just really, really hoping that the Doctor’s name isn’t John Smith. *Hasn’t* been John Smith, this entire time.

  • RogerBW

    What words for the name wouldn’t seem like a massive let-down? Wondering about it has always been more interesting than knowing it.

  • Paul

    I watched The Politician’s Husband last night and was amused to note that “John Smith” was the pseudonym David Tennant’s character chose when he set up a fake Twitter account.

  • Paul

    And surely this makes it obvious that we aren’t going to learn some literal “Name of the Doctor”? Those who will feel “let down” if we don’t learn it seem to me akin to those who are “let down” when a hero in a continuing series survives a given episode. We know they’re going to survive. But the fun of watching is suspending this knowledge in order to be thrilled. In this case we know we’re not going to get a literal name. The fun is in what tricks are going to be played with the idea of the Doctor’s name.

    I may be wrong, in which case I think Moffat would have made a misjudgement akin to the movie’s “half-human” line (or the thankfully unproduced Leekley version with the Master being his brother). But I’m going to wait and see what he does before criticising him!

    What’s happening at the moment is that a lot of people are jumping to their own conclusions, and then attacking Moffat based on those conclusions. This is the kind of thing that led to fans being studied for a long time only by psychologists and scholars of social deviance. Less academically, it’s damn stupid.

  • RogerBW

    Quite so. But since the BBC presumably has some idea by now what its fans are like, all this build-up seems like a recipe for negative fan reaction.

  • innpchan

    Well, you know that was when The Doctor sent her back to stop the Winter Soldier program, but… Fixed point in time. I’m so sorry…

    Oh, where was The Doctor? Nearby, talking to Dr. Phineas Horton about a potential use for his Artificial Man project. The Doctor believes it will be urgently needed in the wake of a future Chitauri invasion. You might say he has a vision.

  • b.lynch black

    exactly… i am actually debating not watching the show, as no matter what name they come up with, it will remove the mystery that makes DW the fabulous, infuriating show that it is, and why it attracts so many adult fans.

  • I’m not so sure that telling us the answers and getting past the mystery is such a bad thing… I get why writers fear it, because how can their answers possibly live up to the suspense? But fear is a lousy reason to do anything. The trick is, know the answers before you reveal the mystery in the first place, allude to them, build up clues that a clever audience can pick up on, such as the ones Gaiman dropped in last week’s episode: which of us didn’t know who Porridge was instantly, just based on Warwick Davis’ performance?

    Anyway, the answer is twofold: trust your audience, and have something better ready for next.

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