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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Doctor Who blogging: “Death in Heaven”


[previous: “Dark Water”]

warning: spoilers!

Okay. So, Missy was specifically targeting the Doctor because she missed her friend and wanted to pull his pigtails. And her grand plan to get him to a specific place to do a specific Thing was indeed — as I lamented last week appeared to be the case — all built on a pile of suppositions based on events that were unlikely to happen and, even then, would further require that the Doctor behave in ways he is not inclined to behave.

Okay then.

But you know what’s even worse? Steven Moffat is now stealing plots from Ed Wood-esque parodies of science fiction. Because this:


is pretty much this:


(Chubby Rain is the hilariously awful movie-within-a-movie in Bowfinger. It’s about an alien invasion in which the aliens hide themselves in the raindrops. Really.)

I guess snuck in the Cyber-rain were instructions for transfiguring the organic matter of dead human bodies — some centuries dead —


into Cybermen? But are 250-year-old corpses really that different, on an atomic level, from other organic matter? Why not turn, I dunno, cows into Cybermen? Or pigs? Why not turn trees into Cybermen? (Missy could have gone to town when the trees had taken over the planet. Imagine all of them transformed into Cybermen!)

But Danny Pink is magic and can resist Cyber control, a handy coincidence, both randomly not getting his emotion inhibitor turned on and then also by it not working when it is finally turned on. (And I don’t think we can chalk this up to “just part of Missy’s plan,” as so many other implausibilities and contradictions seem to be getting justified as. She’s surprised to discover that Cyber-Danny is not obeying her.) And it has nothing to do with fresh brains or anything, because Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart — who isn’t quite so freshly dead as Danny — is also able to resist Cyber control, and so save Kate when she got sucked out of the UNIT plane.

Is love saving the day? But didn’t all those other dead people have people they loved, too? Why aren’t all the new Cybermen rebelling?

And let’s talk about UNIT. They need the Doctor’s help during a time of immense global crisis… so they knock him out — during the presumably vital early hours of the crisis, when the situation might be handled or even diffused before it gets worse — and kidnap him. Who wouldn’t be predisposed to help when people ask so nicely? They can get the TARDIS out of whatever dimensional pocket Missy is using in St. Paul’s, but not Clara? (And are we really to believe that China, Russia, and North Korea all agreed to turn over command of their armies to an alien “president” of Earth, one who appears to be all pally with West? Surrrrrre. I can totally see Vladimir Putin agreeing to that. I bet Kim Jong-un was a barrel of laughs at that meeting.)

None of my nitpicking would have been worth nitpicking if I had been the slightest bit emotionally engaged. But I didn’t believe any of this:


I didn’t believe “You’d go to hell if she asked.” (The Doctor can’t even show up when Clara calls till two weeks later!) I didn’t believe the Doctor and Clara lying to each other about how awesome their lives are going to be now that Danny is “back” and Gallifrey is “found.” I didn’t believe one moment of Clara making yet another outrageously selfish demand on the Doctor: “Either you help me,” she says when she wants to turn on Cyber-Danny’s emotion inhibitor, “or you leave me alone.” Sure, it’s the middle of a global crisis, but let’s distract the Doctor with petty personal needs. She’s not even conflicted about it! Are we supposed to not like her? Because this makes me not like her very much. “Do as you’re told”? That is no way for anyone to speak to anyone, unless that other person is, like, two years old, and mostly not even then, either.

Except I didn’t believe any of it, so that makes it okay, I guess…?

Then, after all the unconvincing emotional wrangling and blackmailing and accusations and threats, both Clara and the Doctor are saved from having to make the tough decision about whether to kill Missy or not. How nice for them. And what a big cop-out.

As I wrote in a comment following my blogging about last week’s episode:

If Moffat wants to turn DW into a big emotional drama, he has to actually write the emotion.

This was all supposed to be very moving, and I felt nothing at all.

Random thoughts on “Death in Heaven”:

• “Hey, remember that time, just a few years ago, when all those ghosts appeared all over the planet and everyone thought their grandpa was visiting from beyond the grave, and it was such a huge deal that people who loved ghosts were on talk shows and there was even a ghost character on Eastenders, and then all the ghosts actually turned out to be Cybermen crossing over from another dimension, and then they had that big battle at Canary Wharf with the Daleks?”


“Nah, me neither. Here, take my picture with this giant menacing metal man.”

Seriously, does no one on Earth have any memory of all the weird shit that has been happening on a regular basis for the past few years? The sky filled with alien planets? A gazillion little black boxes that gave millions of people heart attacks? That year that nobody died? Anyone? If any of the weird shit has been benign, we haven’t seen it… so why would everyone think the sudden appearance of these enormous robots is awesome?

• So Cybermen can fly now why not.


So St. Paul’s has a sunroof now why not.


(I hope the body of Christopher Wren rose from his tomb — which is right there in St. Paul’s! — in a Cyberbody with the intent of hunting down Steven Moffat.)

Evil Mary Poppins why not.


A bracelet can be used both for transdimensional travel and a Get Out of Death Free card why not.


I swear to God, Moffat has a giant fishbowl in his office filled with crumpled up bits of paper on which are written snippets of random “coolness” — “haunted earrings chew your ears off (literally)”; “what if tea was an alien plot?”; “The Great Gatsby but with robots” — and he just pulls a few out each episode and tosses them in.

He even tells us as much here: “Nethersphere is just a cool name we came up with during a spitball.”

• If the Doctor wants to find Gallifrey


then why doesn’t he just plunge his hands into the psychic goo that now takes up an entire panel on the TARDIS console and wish really hard to be there? You know, like how it friggin’ found the building that housed the computer on which deceased Danny’s consciousness had been downloaded. Geez.

• Worse. Guards. Ever.


Missy is undoing her handcuffs and applying lipstick and these dimbulbs don’t even notice. They don’t even move after she gets herself 20 feet across the hold of the plane. Unbelievable.

• “Just point and think, yeah?”


So the sonic screwdriver is a magic wand. Great. Oh, and it can summon the TARDIS when you’re freefalling through the atmosphere after being sucked out of an airplane. (That was pretty much the moment when I started yelling at the TV during this episode.)


• Osgood!


Killing her off is just cruel and pointless… especially after the Doctor hinted that she would get a chance to travel with him. Another potentially really great companion, one who would have loved traveling with him, eliminated.

[next: “Last Christmas”]

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  • Chris Lockard

    Not really surprised at your opinion at this point. Maybe it’s time for MaryAnn to move on from Doctor Who. I believe also when the Doctor was free falling he didn’t use his sonic screwdriver to summon the Tardis, he reached into his coat to get the key to the Tardis. As far as my own opinion, this was actually one of the better Doctor Who season finales.

  • Maria Niku

    Cyber-Danny and love conquers all. Kill me now. I’m not a cynical person, I really am not. I want to believe.

  • Michael

    Agreed. At least she has removed her “this is a a lovefest” disclaimer, since this has been a Moffat hate-fest for quite some time. Doctor Who has ALWAYS been a “relax and go with it” kind of show. If you don’t have the ability to do that, as MaryAnn clearly has not been able to do since Moffat took over, it is not a show you will enjoy.

  • David_Conner

    This season, I started watching Doctor Who for the first time since midway through Tennant’s first season (long story short, I learned that the American versions were getting mangled by Sci Fi Channel editors, so decided to follow the show on unedited DVD… and didn’t get around to actually doing that.)

    So anyways, as I’ve been watching the new season, I’ve also been “catching up” from the other direction, watching the Tennant episodes I missed the first time.

    And while I have been enjoying the new season, I can definitely see what MaryAnn has been going on about. A *lot* of this season echoes stuff that was done before, and better, with the 10th Doctor. MaryAnn mentioned *Chubby Rain* (great pull!), but there’s also a ton in common (especially obvious since I just watched both today) with “The Sontaran Strategem”/”The Poison Sky”.

  • Lisa

    maybe it’s time for you to stop reading her reviews? I thought it was the Tardis key too – why are they so important all of sudden why have the finger clicks stopped working? Since when has he locked it? I don’t mind him losing the Tardis and calling it back to him like that (He basically did a version of that in Blink). I mind that it means he can never lose the Tardis again. And how many Dr Whos have that as a plot device?!

  • Lisa

    I think I really hated this

  • Sadly, my reaction is getting too predictable. There was just so much wrong or ridiculous that it was hard to ignore.
    So now we have magical raindrops that can turn dead people into cybermen? Huh? I thought before the human was “upgraded” with a metal shell or whatever, but now we have organic matter turning into non-organic? And what about the long decomposed bodies coming back? Or do they get to stay dead?
    The whole Danny/Clara thing JUST DIDN’T WORK. I felt nothing at the end when the show was trying to get me to feel something.
    Once again, we have Clara being a demanding bitch and putting her own needs above humanity. WTF?
    What was up with those 2 guards behind Missy on the ship? talk about Worst Guards EVAR! they didn’t see her breaking out of the cuffs, then did nothing after she did.

    I could go on and on.
    I did grow to kind of like The Master this go around. The actress was obviously having a lot of fun with the role.
    I’m relieved that this terrible season is over. Capaldi notwithstanding.
    I can’t wait for the terrible Christmas episode. They always are.

  • Kit Ramsey

    I am a huge fan of “Bowfinger”, and found your blog when looking for anyone who saw Chubby Rain in “Doctor Who”. Good catch!

  • I love Michelle Gomez. She was wasted here.

  • Yeah, this episode is so not-cynical… until a hug is just a way to hide your face. *facepalm*

  • Ah, so the TARDIS key is what’s magic. Got it.

    Whatever it is that makes the Doctor able to call the TARDIS to him would have been *so* useful in the past *so* many times. I wonder why he’s never done it before…

  • You don’t think I wouldn’t love to be able to “relax and go with it”?

    And please stop with this:

    as MaryAnn clearly has not been able to do since Moffat took over

    There have been several episodes this season alone that I have loved and said as much. Is it really necessary to pretend otherwise?

  • RogerBW

    In the old series it was pretty much an unspoken convention that ordinary people either didn’t notice, or forgot about, the alien invasions. In the new series it’s been made explicit that they do notice. (Or at least Bernard Cribbins does.) So there’s even less excuse for this sudden forgetfulness.

  • Andreas

    I don’t think that he calls the TARDIS. The TARDIS is in free fall after the explosion of the plane. The Doctor got the key from his coat and then tried successfully to reach the TARDIS in free fall by changing his posture.

  • Andreas

    The reason why I’m in love with this Moffat’s interpretation of Doctor Who is simple: I’m in love with many of the moments he creates. Sometimes it’s the complete episode, sometimes only three or four moments in an episode. But these moments are great, unforgettable, magic. These moments can be hilarious, frightening, badass or visually stunning, but they excel in what they are trying to achieve. They excel in a way that’s exciting ans surprising for me. And Moffat and his writers create more of these moments in Doctor Who than I find in most of the other shows (or in older seasons of Doctor Who). That makes it easy for me to be emotionally engaged.

    But I have to agree that the team of Doctor Who isn’t as great in every aspect of storytelling as they are in creating these moments. If I’m analyzing the episodes, the stories or the dramatic construction of a whole season there are definitely flaws in this season of Doctor Who, especially in the writing. Most of the time I would say there is not enough build-up and consistency, especially for some of the stories they want to tell and points they are trying to make. That’s a big flaw and I can understand why someone has a hard time with it.

    But for me it’s not more distracting as the many flaws of the older seasons. Or, as MaryAnn said: »None of my nitpicking would have been worth nitpicking if I had been the slightest bit emotionally engaged.« I am more than engaged, I’m in love as I was during the complete Moffat run.

  • David_Conner

    The “forgetfulness” of the people outside the cathedral is a put-on, though. They’re (apparently) all undercover UNIT personnel, right? Which admittedly raises even more questions, but the idea was they’re acting like dumber-than-usual humans to set the “trap.”

  • Wow. That did not occur to me. That seems even less plausible.

  • That may be even more ridiculous.

  • Chris Lockard

    More ridiculous than him driving a motorcycle up a building? This honestly felt more like a Bond or Mission Impossible type moment. It’s fan boy service and it’s fun to watch. Either way in the world of outlandish things Doctor Who has done through the years, two objects falling out of a plane and then meeting each other in mid air isnt that hard to believe.

  • RogerBW
  • Anthony

    DW has set the atmosphere on fire so many times (and twice this season!) that I wonder how Earth can still support life that requires oxygen. At least in The Poison Sky and Turn Left you could argue that the converter burned up more Atmos gas than it did oxygen…

  • Anthony

    That was my first thought, that the Tardis was already on the plane and the Doctor just dove at it with the key outstretched just to shave off some seconds, but I was so annoyed with the rest of the episode that by then I was only half-watching while doing other stuff. I might have imagined the Tardis being brought on board.

  • Anthony

    I’m 100% sure that Missy rigged both her disintegrator as well as Cybermen weaponry to NOT work on her. Or to teleport her away, or project an illusion, or SOMEthing. She’s too fascinating a character to just dump like that.

    It’d really be a waste if this is the last we see of her, considering the myriad questions that it raises about Time Lord/Lady views on gender and sexuality and how they affect a TL’s personality (or, at least, beyond how they affect a narcissist, previously misogynist megalomaniac like the Master :p)

  • Danielm80

    If I remember correctly (and I’ve tried pretty hard to repress portions of this episode), there were clips of people all over the world tossing coins to the Cybermen and posing next to them for photos. The UNIT personnel were imitating them.
    If you like, you can imagine that all those people were posing ironically, like Prince Harry dressing up in a Nazi costume, but:

    (a.) That’s a pretty horrible thing for them to do.

    (b.) It makes the audience work really hard just to find a convoluted, unsatisfying explanation for a pretty basic plot point. I’m not sure the episode is worth the effort.

  • Danielm80

    Apparently, switching genders turned her into an irrational, hyperemotional person who made terrible decisions. She’s a fascinating character, but mostly because she demonstrates Moffat’s very odd ideas about women.

  • RogerBW

    Hmm. I have to confess that even the Delgado Master was prone to making terrible decisions, usually involving the Alien Race of the Month that he’d brought to Earth. (Though I agree with your other points.)

  • David_Conner

    You’re right, come to think of it. And this two-parter particularly excels at delivering convoluted, unsatisfying explanations for basic plot points.

    I’m getting increasingly annoyed by what looks like an extreme lack of *basic* plotting skill by screenwriters these days. I don’t think it’s just me getting old and curmudgeonly, but a genuine deterioration in storytelling ability (or more tolerance for crappy storytelling by audiences, perhaps.)

  • Stephen Robinson

    I’ve noticed that the people who love Moffat’s stories love the BIG emotions. And I can’t dispute anyone’s legitimate emotional reaction to a story. I accept that what he does is working for them. But unfortunately, it means that Moffat will *never* learn to plot a proper sci-fi story. And it’s frustrating because even BUFFY/ANGEL, which existed in a world of magic and the supernatural, often made far more sense. For example, Xander would not suddenly be able to use a “magic wand” just because Willow — an accomplished witch — handed it to him and said, “Just point and think.” It would never happen because Whedon understood that it would break the rules and insult our intelligence.

    Your CHUBBY RAIN allusion is hilariously on point. However, I don’t think the *idea* of “weaponizing the dead” is that bad, it’s just executed poorly. I always come away from a Moffat script thinking that he never actually sat down and plotted out the villain’s plans and motivations and instead just threw in fascinating ideas.

    Idea 1: 3W was Missy’s front organization to “exploit” the vanity of the living, who are so afraid of dying that they’ll not just believe in an after life but fear the possibility of continued suffering in that after life (“don’t cremate me”). This would then explain *how* Missy is able to upload the minds of the recently deceased (without the use of unexplained Time Lord magic — I refuse to call it “technology” as Moffat depicts it). They volunteer for the process, which gives her access to their minds. And they pay for the “protection” of their bodies after death, but the “twist” is that the protection is a Cyberman suit. This fits nicely into the overall theme of the Cybermen as originally introduced.

    But there’s no need for 3W given what we later see: Missy can upload the consciousness of *all* dead people through a method we’re never actually shown. There’s no evidence that Danny and the Brigadier for example would have had anything to do with 3W. So, if Missy can “upgrade” corpses into Cybermen who have never been to 3W then why bother with it in the first place?

    This reminds me of what frustrated me about the first NuWho Master storyline from RTD: The Master using mass hypnosis to install himself as Prime Minister and eventually even leader of the entire world would be interesting. How does the Doctor “overthrow” an elected official? How does he prove to perfectly happy (but subtly brainwashed) people that their leader is evil? This could be a very complicated position for the Doctor… something we’ve rarely seen… but instead, let’s just confine him to a wheelchair and have the Master enslave Earth using billions of psychotic aliens, which of course means he doesn’t *need* to have become Prime Minister at all.

    Idea 2: Missy is using a TARDIS (notice that the existence of another TARDIS is thrown out randomly when it’s actually a very big deal) to actually *invent* humanity’s concept of an afterlife — perhaps she’s even responsible for the “near death” experiences that help perpetuate the “myth.” This allows her to download minds and potentially create her zombie army. (And that’s how the Cybermen were used — as zombies, which is *not* the Cybermen. The Cybermen work as a dramatic concept because they all *chose* to become something inhuman — remove that choice and, well, you don’t have Cybermen anymore. I’ve argued for years that the Borg were not just a warmed-over copy of Cybermen because they were thematically much different. Oh well)

    Oh, and Missy is deliberately going through the Doctor’s timeline and greeting the people who die to protect him — this allows her to realize that the two of them aren’t that different… I guess.

    These are two separate ideas — both potentially interesting if executed correctly — but never once connected logically.

    We are told that Missy chose Clara but we are never *shown* how Missy knew to pick Clara or how she even knew anything about her. Was this a result of her iPad Crystal Ball?

  • Stephen Robinson

    Unfortunately, I think Moffat did a lot of “mind-wiping” of WHO continuity during Season Five when the universe was reset by the Doctor and Amy Pond. Ultimately, the “cracks in the universe” are Moffat’s way of explaining plot holes like this.

    It also punctures the veil of fantasy for a cheap joke. Yes, if we saw the Cybermen or even Weeping Angels in public — without the careful lighting and CGI — we wouldn’t be scared and instead we probably want to take selfies with them. But the *reality* of Cybermen should be flippin’ terrifying. It wasn’t worth the joke to present them as otherwise.

  • Stephen Robinson

    The villain escapes custody and the hero narrowly escapes death are both conventions of the genre we willingly accept if well executed.

    Instead we get the following:

    1) Missy is revived so the Doctor can interrogate her (pointlessly it seems) but she’s also not rendered unconscious again immediately afterward. There is no good reason for this.

    2) Despite all of UNIT’s protocols, interrogation of Missy is not delayed until they land — surely having her awake while the plane is in motion is the most dangerous thing they can do. How long is their flight? And what can Missy possibly tell them? She’s the “Queen of Evil.” She will probably lie.

    3) While Missy is unconscious, these Keystone Cops do not remove her bracelet. Even if they don’t recognize it as advanced technology, isn’t it standard procedure to remove *anything* a prisoner might use to escape?

    4) We’ve already addressed that Unit’s guards are apparently blind and don’t notice anything Missy is doing.

    5) Osgood is too stupid to live. Plain and simple. And what’s frustrating is that since Missy had already escaped, the only point of Osgood being depicted as so dumb as to get that close to Missy was to have the handcuffs reveal. There were at least a couple other ways to write the reveal without making Osgood stupid, especially since Missy teleported over to her anyway.

    6) And finally, the moment when my blood pressure reached critical levels: The Doctor discovers Missy is free and Cybermen are attacking the plane. Yet he never says, “Hey, I have a time machine with me. Let’s all get into it and leave safely.” Kate even makes a call that there will be no survivors of the crash while The Doctor is chatting with Missy and later Clara over the phone.

  • Jamie

    I’ve come to find that DW under Mr. Moffat and Co. really is pretty much a ‘make the icing look tasty so people won’t notice there isn’t any cake underneath’ storytelling style. They give us hints and epics and pretty stuff, but if we think about it at all, it falls apart, and if we expect more than that, it’s a disappointment. I can’t connect with the emotional bits either. They feel forced and about as deep as see-through glass. It’s like it’s being written by guys with very short attention spans who hope nobody will notice. I used to have fun writing up fake summaries to stories I’d never written when I was a kid. But that didn’t last long when people got excited over the idea of reading the actual stories such great summaries seemed to promise. Even at 12, I realized that story telling would take structure and thinking things out, and depth, and that a summary alone was just a pretty package that doesn’t really mean much if the package is empty. That’s how DW feels to me these days. I don’t want it to, but it does. Still holding out hope though!

  • Stephen Robinson

    Moffat has stated as much that Missy is probably not dead, alluding to the Ainley version of the character who tended to die at the end of each adventure and return without any explanation.

    There were at least a dozen ways that she could have escaped. They even threw in the non-genre savvy move of Clara choosing to wear Missy’s bracelet — presumably to remember Danny but if you’ve seen any fantasy film, that’s often an easy way for the bad guy to “possess” you.

    As for the Master’s previous misogyny, I think it’s been shown that regeneration is almost like reincarnation. The new incarnation tends to view itself as a superior model. For instance, despite having been the War Doctor, the 11th Doctor never walks around feeling like he’s now trapped as a glib young pop culture loving guy who thinks he’s “cool.” No, this is just who he is now.

  • Stephen Robinson

    Simm’s Master was also irrational and hyperemotional. My defense of Gomez’s Master is that she is far more interesting as a “Satanic” figure who wants the Doctor to “join her” (shades of Darth Vader). This makes the Master interesting to me and distinct from all the other foes the Doctor faces. The Simm Master hated the Doctor and wanted him to suffer horribly but so did the Daleks and the Cybermen and the Weeping Angels and so on. This new spin on the villain, especially as played by a woman as none of his other enemies are female, is at least different.

  • Stephen Robinson

    I thought I hated THE LAST OF THE TIME LORDS for pulling the “power of love trumps evil” card but that made far more sense (though still not much) than what we saw. I found myself agreeing with Missy when she said that Danny’s refusal to follow her orders was impossible. Yes, it was. What made Danny different?

    And it can’t be his love for Clara. If that’s what Moffat thinks is love… good God.

  • Stephen Robinson

    In BLINK, it was difficult to call the TARDIS back to him — he had to use a DVD that was inserted into the TARDIS itself. There was no defiance of physics.

    I prefer a DOCTOR WHO that doesn’t function like an action movie.

  • Stephen Robinson

    This frustrates me.

    I will “relax and go with” the idea that the alien world The Doctor and his companions have landed on is an obvious quarry in England. Or that the monster of the week is a cheap puppet. These are all budget challenges and the imagination and performances allowed me to overcome them. That is an artistic triumph, I think.

    I won’t “relax and go with” plot holes and contrivances and poor dramatic storytelling because it costs exactly the same to write a script without those aspects.

  • David_Conner

    Nice summary of the mess. There are a bunch of secondary/tertiary ideas, too, all thrown in with the above two and largely thrown away just as quickly. Such as (but not limited to):

    Idea 3: The Doctor as “President of Earth.” Which is an idea rich in dramatic and/or comedic potential, but nothing is done with it.

    Idea 4: “The Doctor’s Army” – which, first off, ignores the fact that Idea 3 already *gave* him an army. But moving on, it’s an interesting idea that could maybe explain or complete the weird “The Doctor doesn’t like soldiers” thread. But doesn’t. (And insofar as it does, the show seems to endorse the idea that all military officers are callous, indifferent butchers like the largely inaccurate but popular caricature of World War I generals.)

    Idea 5: “The Master’s a girl now.” Done, of course, but not really explored.

    Et cetera.

    But the most irritating thing is that there are some good stories buried in this mess. Idea 1, for instance, would make a nifty little episode – “The Doctor Goes to Hell,” perhaps. Probably better done on an alien world and/or the far future, though, and without the Master being involved.

  • FSLB

    MaryAnn, reading your reviews of the RTD era is one of the reasons I got into Who back when, so I’m always sorry when you don’t like a new episode since I know you love the show so much and want it to be something you can get behind!

    While I generally agreed with you as the Matt Smith era kinda fell apart (thanks for deciding multi-season arcs could be resolved via throwaway dialogue Moffat!), I liked this season much more than series 6 and 7 and indeed would probably rank it as one of my faves since the revival. In my opinion, Moffat largely jettisoned the convoluted plot mechanics that eventually ended up eating those series alive and changed the focus to developing the characters over the course of the season. I personally thought the thematic arc of this series – the Doctor (re-)discovering who he is, Clara becoming ever more like the Doctor (and if this is a good thing) – payed off wonderfully. I was totally onboard for the big graveyard confrontation and the wistful farewell between the Doctor and Clara.

    I’m really optimistic about the future of the show at this point – I adore Capaldi’s Doctor and hope this new character-based approach that I at least see will continue into next series. I of course also hope it develops in a direction you love again! These things are so subjective though, I thought Kill the Moon was perhaps the best ever episode of nu-Who, so who knows :)

    I do really adore your reviews and hope you keep covering Who. Particularly when I don’t agree with what you have to say, I appreciate your voice and the perspective you lend to things I might otherwise unquestioningly love or hate. You always state your case eloquently and from a place of love, and what more could a devoted reader and Who fan ask for!

  • Lisa

    but if the Tardis was on the plane why not rescue everyone on the plane?* If I was on that plane, I just would have run to the Tardis?

    *because Clara’s emotional state was more important?

    Also why was she so determined to turn Danny into a Cyberman who would then kill her?

  • David_Conner

    The “escape” was just plain insulting. I can buy some elements of it as presented (e.g., letting her remain conscious, or not being able to use the TARDIS as a lifeboat), if you try to make *some* effort to sell them to me.

    But the “not bothering to search the rogue Time Lord who you KNOW is extremely dangerous and tricksy” bit and the “UNIT guards with ONE. JOB.” bit are inexcusable.

    Especially since you don’t need to work all that hard to make it feel *somewhat* plausible. For instance, this is one way to stage it off the top of my head. What’s different about the Master now? She’s a girl. Who has long fingernails, unlike (I assume) previous incarnations. Maybe she hides a Galifreyan Lockpick or somesuch under a fingernail, which nobody would think to search for. And she has flash powder or some high-tech equivalent hidden somewhere, which she uses to momentarily blind the guards so they don’t immediately kill her like they’re supposed to. And then she’s off to the races.

    Now, my staging is kinda stupid too, and I’m sure there are more clever ways to do it, but it’s *some*thing. Something that acknowledges “Hey, escaping from an organization that knows who you are and is specifically built to deal with your kind, that should be a bit of a hard trick to pull off.” And that encourages the audience to think of Missy as tricky and clever instead of just lucky to be surrounded by UNIT incompetence all of a sudden.

  • Stephen Robinson

    Thanks! I’d forgotten about Idea 3. Yeah, that seemed thrown in for two jokes between The Master and The Doctor (“piece of cake” and “happy birthday, Mr. President”*). MaryAnn explained how mind-boggling absurd the idea is of all the nations’ leaders willing granting total authority to a time-traveling alien (were they even aware that the current threat was the brainchild of the other survivor of the Doctor’s own race?). Suddenly, DOCTOR WHO made less sense than THE TRANSFORMERS, when the Earth’s governments washed their hands of even the Autobots because of the damage the Decepticons (and a traitorous Autobot) had done.

    And really, total power given to The Doctor as “President of Earth” and his chief liaison is English? Forget Putin agreeing to this, no U.S. President would.

    And as you say, Moffat does nothing with the set-up. The Doctor never has to make a decision like a commanding officer of the world. He merely functions as UNIT’s scientific adviser. And the plot works just as well if that’s the role he played.

  • Lisa

    Yeah I get that but it sets a precedent for the fact that the Tardis can be called back to him, much as Time Crash explains why he didn’t realise the Master was the Prime Minister! (or vice versa possibly – whichever can first)

  • Maria Niku

    I can’t quite decide if Moffat genuinely thinks that Danny’s love for Clara has been successfully depicted in this season’s stories and particularly in the finale, or if he just didn’t bother to put much thought to it. Certainly, the fact that Danny (ok, and Cyber-Brigadier) is the only one able to resist cyber control would seem to say that Danny’s love is greater and nobler and more all-conquering than anybody else’s love in the past few hundred years. On the other hand, it could simply be that Moffat couldn’t be bothered to think through that particular plot theme.

  • Lisa

    To be honest, I assumed the crack in the wall- big bang rejumping the universe season meant that Moffat reset all that people know about Aliens stuff (he seemed to want to basically wipe out what RTD had done with it and start again, which is his right as a show runner) So I always take that people don’t know about them in this universe.

  • Stephen Robinson

    I agree with you about Season 6, but I enjoyed Season 7A, which had no grand arc other than the exit of the Ponds, far more than Season 8. Season 7B* was a mess, though I attribute much of that to the blank slate that was Clara — making your identification character a “mystery” is not ideal.

    (I will go to my Cyber-converted grave arguing that Season 7 is actually two separate seasons: The first has the Ponds and their last episode even feels like a season finale. There’s a Christmas special in between Part A and Part B, which is usually how the different seasons are separated, and 7B has a new opening sequence, a new companion, a new wardrobe for the Doctor and even a new Tardis interior!)

  • Lisa

    Also Dr Who is always doing publicity stunts like Cybermen on the tube so they probably thought it was something like that! Yeah it does give Moffat a cheap writing excuse for plotholes – altho 50 years of continuity is a lot to keep in your head.

  • Stephen Robinson

    I think you already “out-plotted” Moffat, David. The idea of Missy escaping *because* she’s a woman now would be a brilliant comment to make on The Master exploiting human sexism. It would be *so* in character, after all.

  • Lisa

    He doesn’t do enough work to get there. I always feel why am I supposed to care? I was frankly delighted they got rid of creepy child murdering Danny!

  • Lisa

    Off topic but re Chuuby Rain – when I saw the lightening strikes in War of the Worlds, I laughed and thought that is so Chubby Rain. Given the plotline of Bowfinger, esp the Eddie Murphy’s character involvement in a certain church & the Spielberg/Cruise alleged falling out over Wotw, it does make you thin that Scientologists are completely bonkers, if you didn’t think that before!

  • Stephen Robinson

    CLOSING TIME used the “parent’s love” trope, which as tropes go is effective because you really don’t have to “sell” it beyond showing us that the person is a parent. We are inclined to believe a parent will overcome anything for his or her child. But romantic love *has* to be convincingly sold. Yet Moffat only presented us with a dysfunctional relationship.

    Not to belabor the “Moffat and woman” issue but I think he does depict women in a way that I don’t think he’d present a male character or at least one he wanted us to believe was otherwise noble. Amy Pond runs off with The Doctor on the night of her wedding (not revealing she’s engaged) and then makes a pass at him, which he has to stop. She later even tries to kiss him (romantically) at her own wedding. Really, try to imagine that playing out with a female Doctor around Smith’s age and a male companion. We would instinctively find this guy to be the biggest jerk in the world. The same goes for Clara lying to Danny about her continuing relationship with The Doctor.

  • Lisa

    which is why I hated closing time! Stormaggedon, dark lord of all was quite funny tho. It’s hard to like Amy because of her behaviour the night before her wedding but to be fair, they did sell the love between Amy and Rory, mostly because who wouldn’t love Arthur Darvill?

  • Maria Niku

    True, I actually believed in Rory’s and Amy’s relationship, and was moved to tears about Rory the Roman keeping guard for 2000 years, etc.

  • bronxbee

    i will never forgive moffat for this episode. especially for killing Osgood (and what’s with him and names starting with “Os”?) who was smart (except for getting close to Missy, obviously), funny and independent minded but adventurous in spirit. as soon as the Doctor said “start thinking about your bucket list” i knew she was a goner. and if he could resurrect the dead, why couldn’t he do a re-set for Osgood. i’m done, like a baked potatoe. well, except for the Christmas episode. then… i don’t know if i can go on with Doctor Who as it is.
    also: Sherlock, Season 3. Come on, people. Moffat is determined to ruin what started off great — maybe he’s got that thing where he wants to self-destruct when things are going well. he’s like those Egyptian pharohs that destroy all the monuments and sculptures and likenesses of all who went before them so that even their name and memory are obliterated. that’s Moffat.

  • bronxbee

    and i’m getting a wee bit tired of all the “American” jokes — i in no way think we’re perfect or even nearly so — i have a *lot* of complaints about my government and “elected” officials — but using American as a cheap joke all the time is just typical of Moffat — lazy, thoughtless and out of original ideas.

  • Aarchman07030

    I am a huge fan of NuWho, and I have, generally, been a big fan of Mr. Moffat’s choices and his writing. At his best, he has a gift for identifying ways in which the mundane can be terrifying. His command of the self-fulfilling implications of “Timey-Wimey” narrative can be extraordinary–I think ‘Blink’ is a masterpiece.

    BUT, lazy writing is lazy writing is lazy writing, and ‘Death in Heaven’ was, in my opinion, unforgivably lazy, for all the reasons MaryAnn identified in her essay, and several others.

    Gotta give it a “D”, and it would have been an “F” were his record not so strong.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I’ve noticed that the people who love Moffat’s stories love the BIG emotions. And I can’t dispute anyone’s legitimate emotional reaction to a story. I accept that what he does is working for them. But unfortunately, it means that Moffat will *never* learn to plot a proper sci-fi story.

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. Holy hell, that’s condescending. It’s not my fault you don’t enjoy the show anymore. It’s not my fault Moffat doesn’t write the show the way you’d like. He doesn’t consult me any more than he consults you. He keeps his own counsel, and that of his bosses at BBC, on what direction to take the show he runs.

    Your Buffyverse analogy falls down on two levels. There were plenty of artifacts (read: plot devices) on the show that provided non-magical people with magical powers. And there are several standard plot devices, like stakes and crosses, that worked for everybody, not just the Slayers. Besides, given that the sonic screwdriver is a device with innumerable effects and no apparent interface save an “on” switch, and given that Time Lord tech is known to work telepathically, “point and think” is as good an explanation of how it works as any you could offer. And better than most, because it’s consistent with most of what we’ve seen on the show, it requires the least explanation, and it imposes the fewest restrictions on later writers.

  • Tonio Kruger

    As opposed to her male self, when he was the most rational and even-tempered person in the history of the universe. ;-)

    Because nothing says rationality and emotional discipline like the last ten minutes of “Utopia”…

  • The motorcycle thing was ridiculous too.

  • Thank you for your kind words about my work.

  • Stephen Robinson

    I confess to not being a big fan of Osgood. She is a tribute to the Doctor’s vanity, and while cosplaying is fun and all in the real world, in the Whoinverse, it just seems strange to me that a grown woman (especially if Osgood was intended to be the same age as her actress, so a woman in her mid-to-late 30s) would dress up in such an idolizing way as a man she has now met twice.

    And all that aside, I never liked the idea that The Doctor chooses companions the way someone might choose a date. There was something somewhat endearing about the 4th Doctor declaring, “I’ve never chosen the company I keep.”

  • Tonio Kruger

    But you know what’s even worse? Steven Moffat is now stealing plots from Ed Wood-esque parodies of science fiction.

    Not just that. He also steals from George Romero’s zombie films and Iron Man III, to boot.

    Not to mention his “borrowing” from both the original Mary Poppins and Neil Gaiman’s version of the same.

    Though I suppose I should give him credit for adding some unintended irony to Clara’s line in “Nightmare in Silver”:

    “Can Cyberman fly?”

    The original answer to that was, of course, no, but now…

    Oh, Clara, you’re such a tease.

    And Moffat, I’d like to be able to call you a tease as well but in my experience, a tease usually comes from a place of affection and after seeing this episode’s pre-credit sequence, I’m not sure “affection” is quite the right word to use in regard to this week’s episode. I will give you credit for chutzpah, though.

  • Cate Elswhere

    Dr Who is a kids show. Not an adult geeks Tolstoy.

  • Stephen Robinson

    I didn’t mind the “mind wipes” at first, because I thought RTD had moved in a direction of people being too “genre savvy” (e.g. no one being in London on Christmas because something bad always happened). But removing the memory of Cybermen from people’s minds just so that you can have a cheap “selfie” gag is disappointing. At least with RTD, the characters were behaving like human beings, even if it potentially limited story opportunities.

  • Stephen Robinson

    Yeah, but I’d like to think that in the actual Whoniverse, Cybermen would be freaking terrifying. Sure, zombies from the WALKING DEAD on the streets of New York would just look, well, like actors in makeup. But you wouldn’t get people posing with the *real* things.

  • Tonio Kruger

    I can’t imagine Anna Karenina on the Tardis but I would not mind seeing her friends Kitty and Levin on board. :-)

  • Stephen Robinson

    Moffat accomplished a lot with just the scenes in ELEVENTH HOUR between Amy and Rory and especially VAMPIRES IN VENICE and AMY’S CHOICE (which he didn’t write). I felt like a lot of Season 8 was devoted to Clara and Danny but it never felt convincing to me.

    Perhaps, for me, there was a cloud of ‘rebound’ around the couple. There was a lot of flirtation and romantic tension between 11 and Clara, and part of this season was supposedly about Clara accepting 12. The phone call between 11 and Clara in DEEP BREATH is supposed to be heartbreaking but she then meets Danny in the next episode. Yes, 11 is gone but for Clara, he only recently regenerated. So maybe putting her in a romantic relationship so quickly was a misstep.

  • Danielm80

    There are good kids’ shows and there are awful kids’ shows. A really good children’s show can have intelligent plotting and meaningful themes and still be understood by young kids. (Plenty of adults watch kids’ shows that are clever and funny and moving.) Some people try to cover up for bad writing by saying, “It’s for children. Children don’t know any better,” but that’s a lazy excuse, and it’s pretty condescending to children.

  • Maria Niku

    Adult geeks Tolstoy. I wanna read that :)

  • Maria Niku

    Yep, kids are smart and discerning viewers.

  • Chris Lockard

    I believe he didnt go back for people on the plane because the Cybermen and Missy had literally either killed or tossed everyone on the plane out the window. As far as Danny, she simply turned him into a Cyberman because he died same as anyone else who had died recently.

  • Chris Lockard

    Yes it was…ridiculously awesome. :)

  • Jack

    I’m glad the “from a place of love” guidance / warning has been removed!

    Long-time lurker here, but ironically I’m just coming on to say goodbye as I think my days here are over. Why? I get that you don’t like the way the program’s gone since Steven Moffat took over, but I used to come here for fun reviews and interesting analysis. Now it tends to be complaints about Moffat, emotion and/or lack of emotion, Moffat, the way Moffat writes women and occasionally Moffat. I always appreciated how you’d accentuate the positive, even in stories you didn’t seem to like very much. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like everything about the programme currently but for me personally its a hell of a lot better than it was under Russell T.

    Don’t want to go on too much longer so will simply say I loved Michelle Gomez’s portrayal – certainly the most interesting the character has been for me since Survival and his struggle with the Cheetah virus.

    Also whatever you may think about the Brigadier’s “cameo,” I loved that he appeared to be a Cyberleader.

  • Lisa

    I meant why was Clara so determined to turn off his feelings so that he would then turn into a cyberman that would then kill her? Especially when the Dr told her this would happen?

    If people were falling out of the plane, why didn’t he try to catch them? It’s not clear what happened to them. It’s not clear that the Tardis was even on the plane. It’s not clear whether he called it to him and just fell through the air after it. That’s bad storytelling. Moffet doesn’t care so why should we?

  • Lisa

    I thought that was fair enough that Danny still could feel. The last episode ended with him deciding whether or not to delete his feelings and then the invasion started which meant that he really didn’t have time to make a decision. Clearly hitting the delete button turned you into full cyberman and I thought that was a pretty insidious idea. Burn, rot or sell your soul to the devil! I found it hard to believe that the Brigadier would have made the same decision. He would have either have been cremated or his body would have been rotting in a grave. If you could feel this happening to your body, you would hit the delete button pretty quickly. I thought that was nonsense.

  • Sum1

    I think the reason Danny and the Brigadier didn’t get properly cyberized is because they didn’t “delete” their personality in the
    Nethersphere. However, that doesn’t address why the hell the Mistress
    would upload people who she knew were a. brave, and b. personal friends
    of the Doctor, and then make them into powerful robots. And why give
    them choice anyway?

  • Then why the heck are you reading an adult geek’s intensive blogging about it?

    If you have nothing to contribute to the conversation, please don’t bother to post a comment.

  • This explanation would imply that all but two — Danny and the Brig — of the millions of consciousnesses in the Nethersphere chose to delete the emotions, which seems wildly unlikely.

  • So all the other millions of people decided to delete their personalities? Seems unlikely.

  • Jack

    Who says they’re the only two?

  • Tonio Kruger

    Yes, it would be in character, all right, but in a world where female law enforcement officials routinely find all sorts of dangerous items on female suspects while frisking them, it would also seem a bit anachronistic.

    Such a development might have made sense back in the 1970s when the idea of a woman in law enforcement was still a novelty but today, the assumption that the top female law enforcement official in the world would be more naive about how to check a female suspect about possible weapons and escape devices than your average female police officer would seem a bit silly, to say the least.

    Then again, I’m surprised that Ms. Stewart did not assign a couple of female guards to watch her since it would have been so easy for Missy to conceal a weapon in a place where a male guard would be reluctant to search. Indeed, female police officers in real life are often assigned to search female suspects for that very reason.

  • Danielm80

    There is a children’s version of Anna Karenina:


  • Chris Lockard

    Well I believe Clara turned off his feelings for the same reason that some Cybermen have died when they are reconnected to their feelings…its very painful. In this case Danny, her true love, was in pain and she wanted to end his suffering. And true to form she rejects reasonable logic and bases her actions on emotion instead…in other words she acts very human.

    Just something to think about, did it ever occur to you that maybe he didn’t have time to catch them? The Doctor can’t save everyone. Your concern is primarily for characters we haven’t seen, who were ripped out of the plane well before The Doctor began falling or are background characters that who likely died shortly after the folks started getting ripped out of the plane. Not to mention the fact that he has no idea where they are when he starts his descent as he had been in another area of the plane with The Master.

    The point is that the Doctor can’t save everyone and he’s expressed that multiple times. His goal is to save as many as possible and more importantly to him, saving those closest to him. It shouldn’t be so surprising that he would run to Clara as soon as possible simply because doing so fills two needs. She is the person he most wants to protect at this point and Danny presents his best bet of explaining The Master’s plan.

  • So where are all the others, and why don’t they have a negative impact on Missy’s plan?

    You’re assuming that the offer to delete his emotions that Danny got was real (and not just some sort of bizarre ploy that was directed only at Danny), and that the reason that he remained human once he was transformed into a Cyberman is because he refused to delete his emotions.

    Given that: We must also assume that Missy knows precisely how many uploaded consciousnesses refused to delete their emotions. (It’s all a big computer, right? The AI running it would be keeping track of how many people refused to delete.) We can assume that Missy would not have downloaded people who refused to delete their emotions into the new Cybermen, because then they would be bad Cybermen.

    Yet, even though she must know that neither Danny nor the Brigadier — the latter of whom she must certainly know would help the Doctor! — deleted their emotions, she let them be downloaded anyway.

    But she’s still left with millions of consciousnesses that — according to you — willingly deleted their emotions. Does that sound like something a huge number of people would do? It doesn’t to me. Anyway, Missy has control over these uploaded consciousnesses and is already altering them (necessary to turn them into Cybermen), so it would make sense that deleting emotions would be part of that package regardless of whether people pressed any button they were offered.

    (Further, we can presume that deleting emotions is NOT something that was offered to the corpses-turned-Cybermen in the dark-water tanks, because these were supposedly people whose vanity and desire to live forever was something Missy was taking advantage of, so they would not willingly give up their emotions. Therefore, she deleted their emotions as part of her plan, because they were most definitely “good” emotionless Cybermen when they walked out of the tanks.)

    The other option — which seems more likely, especially considering that Missy is *surprised* that Danny does not obey her commands to the Cyber-army — is that by pure coincidence, two people known to the Doctor just randomly failed to have their emotion-killing chip kick in.

    But even via your theory, Danny *and* the Brig retaining their humanity makes no sense at all.

  • RogerBW

    I don’t object to complex stories that give rise to discussion, but it seems to me that one which requires this much backfilling merely to try to explain how the climax worked hasn’t really done its job.
    (And I’ve just rewatched Earthshock. I’m no stranger to plotholes.)

  • Allen W

    We see the Tardis being loaded onto the plane before takeoff. Lots of things don’t make sense in this episode, but the skydiving sequence (mostly)wasn’t one of them.

  • Allen W

    Nah. Danny was saved by fortuitous timing (downloaded to his body automatically as part of the system shutdown while his choice was still up-in-the-air; if he had actually chosen not to delete his emotions, I assume he wouldn’t have been downloaded). And the Brig was saved ’cause he’s awesome. ;)
    And we don’t actually know (beyond Missy’s hyperbole) that everyone else was Cybered; just that some large segment was.

  • That Random Guy

    Most of your random thoughts are actually wrong, objectively. The selfie-taking people were actually undercover UNIT operatives, first of all. Secondly, there is no problem with Cybermen flying, since we already knew that they can upgrade now. Also, Missy was acting like Mary Poppins on purpose to take the mickey out of Earth entertainment, the bracelet was previously established to be able to transport people between dimensions, the UNIT guards were hypnotised by Missy, the Doctor didn’t summon the TARDIS (the TARDIS was on the plane and it fell down with him, he simply took out his key) – oh, and don’t you know about this thing called killing off characters that people like for emotional and dramatic impact? Yep, Osgood’s death was a great scene.

  • Stephen Robinson

    I mentioned previously that I don’t think Moffat plots out the specifics of a villain’s “plan” before writing the script. I think the point of having the deceased “choose” to delete their personalities — through an elaborate con intended to prey on their fears and regrets — fits with the larger theme of the Cybermen (unlike the Borg, humans “choose” this fate worse than death). But if you’re going to have exceptions out of the billions of dead, then we need to know *why*. And later, the necessity of “deleting” emotions is rendered moot because the “cyberpollen” will change all of the living and dead. And if Danny could resist Missy simply because of “love” — then what about every other person with loved ones?

    Also, I don’t think we are actually shown Danny choosing to *not* delete his emotions, and Seb later doesn’t seem to care whether he did or not. I’ve noticed that Moffat will introduce cliffhangers that are never directly resolved. I know many fans disagree, but I think that it was a cheat to *not* show The Doctor and Clara escaping the Doctor’s timeline, when it’s set up as a very difficult thing to do.

  • Stephen Robinson

    Moffat never makes it clear that Missy killed Danny (did she?), and if he just wound up in the Nethersphere because that’s where people go when they die, then we are talking about millions of people who died around the time Danny did. What percentage of them would have their choices “still up in the air”? Why the sudden rush? Just for The Doctor’s birthday present? It just doesn’t make sense. I’m not a Time Lord but even I know not to risk upgrading bodies whose minds still have emotions and might defy me. She didn’t need to shut down the whole nethersphere — even just 10% of the recently dead could still enslave the planet.

  • Stephen Robinson

    I could buy some MATRIX-ey explanation for why a person would have to “choose” to delete their emotions (sort of like the red pill vs. the blue pill). I could even buy the Nethersphere “con” convincing people to delete their emotions. You’re dead and faced with an eternity of pain. It’s essentially an afterlife version of euthanasia. But we aren’t shown *how* this works. We’re only given cute scenes that don’t build up to anything.

    Dramatically, Danny’s death and experience in the Nethersphere should provide the audience with an idea of the mind games Missy and Seb played on the recently deceased — a general sample of the overall experience. And the choice Danny is given is the one everyone else received and we should see a compelling reason for his rejecting that choice. Instead, we never got a follow-up to that decision. Honestly, Danny was an emotional wreck at the end of DARK WATER. But when we next see him in DEATH IN HEAVEN, he’s remarkably calm — enough so that many viewers online thought he’d already deleted his emotions.

    A critical gap, I think, and evidence of almost two divergent schemes for Missy is that Seb is the one who greets Danny. Let’s think about this: Missy personally meets with the Half-Face Man, who died after an encounter with the Doctor, and with the solider from INTO THE DALEK, who died for the Doctor’s sake. We see Seb interacting with a random guy the Doctor never met. Thematically, why wouldn’t Missy meet with Danny when she’s been shown to not only have some “magic” awareness of people who die after interacting with The Doctor but she’s been watching Clara the whole time? And was even responsible for Clara meeting the Doctor in the first place? Yet the death of Clara’s boyfriend — someone who distinctly dislikes the Doctor — is delegated to Seb? That is idiot plotting. It’s not consistent with what we’ve seen and only functions in convenience with the script.

    The reason so many fans online speculated that Danny was working with Missy or was an unwilling plant of Missy or something along those lines is because it made more sense than the random set of coincidences we got.

  • Adam Stevenson

    I’ve just seen the Children in Need Christmas preview, and Clara is back.
    If there was ever someone who was a placeholder for a character, it’s Clara.

    In the Christmas preview she tells Father Christmas that she doesn’t believe in fairy tales…except that a few weeks earlier her biggest wish was to see Robin Hood and she refused to listen when the Doctor said her wasn’t real so they went anyway…because Robin Hood was her utter favourite character when she was a child…though as a child her only hero, and the only poster on her wall, was Marcus Aurelius.

  • I don’t think there was any doubt that Clara was going to be in the Christmas special.

    I predict her sense of wonder will be rekindled by the baby she is pregnant with by Danny. Which has to be the case, considering that we saw that astronaut from the future who is obviously supposed to be her and Danny’s descendant.

    Prepare for maximum sappiness… and another Christmas episode about motherhood as the highest aspiration for women.

    (I really hope I’m wrong about this.)

  • James john

    MaryAnn, I think you have done an excellent job reviewing this episode. The sense of wonder is gone. I used to try to watch every episode as they aired. Now I can wait weeks before I go to my pvr to see the latest episode. It’s just not fun any more. I never get tired of watching classic who, seems the quality of stories and character were better developed, there was also a great sense of wonder and adventure. These days there are more stinkers than classics. I don’t know if Moffat is to blame entirely but I do believe that the show needs to take more risks and tell more intelligent stories. Thanks again for the great review.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Next: Nick Frost as Santa Claus. Nick. Frost.

    Santa. Claus.

    Not Father Christmas (the traditional British name for Santa Claus).

    Santa Claus.

    For a series whose writers like to make fun of Americans so much , I can’t help but notice how Americanized it seems to be getting.

    Unless, of course, they’re afraid of a copyright infringement suit by singer Ray Davies if they use the name Father Christmas. :-)

  • All of the UK is getting Americanized.

  • RogerBW

    We shall fight in colours, we shall fight with Father Christmas, we shall fight with tea made with boiling water, we shall fight with alcohol at age 18, we shall fight for present perfect over simple past; we shall never surrender…

  • Reginald Anselm Leppik

    Oh dear, FINALLY someone who doesn’t go all “awwwww” over the who is easily the worst companion – Clara and who is obviously failing as a dramatic writer of any kind – the Moff.

    With the exceptions of Robot of Sherwood and the Mummy On The Orient Express(neither of which were written by him), all the episodes this season ranged from “mildly nice” to “abysmal”.

    The plot is complete nonsense(I keep expecting the Doctor to one day suggest that trees are computers with root code. Cause roots, y’know?) the continuity changes every day, things are wildly out of perspective(how many episodes can Clara call Danny or discuss Danny in the middle of a very serious situation that he has no business being in, also Danny accusing the Doctor of wanting him to save the world) and the relationship between the characters is more poisonous as the infamous one in 1985.

    If Doctor Who didn’t have 50 years riding on its back(50 infinitely more enjoyable years) and I didn’t know that Moffat had to leave eventually, I would immediately wipe my hands clean of this. It’s a disgrace to what made the show good, it’s a disgrace to the incalculably wasted performance of Peter Capaldi and it’s a disgrace to me as a viewer.
    Also, it’s a disgrace to previous writers who set up all that has now been torn down or is being cracked jokes about.

  • bronxbee

    how do you know Moffat has to leave? do you have some inside information? (any idea on WHEN?)

  • Reginald Anselm Leppik

    I’m just saying he can’t stay there forever. Either the show gets cancelled(like with JNT) or he moves on(like everyone else).

  • DoctorQ96

    Hi MaryAnn, I don’t know if anyone really cares but I have read your Doctor Who reviews among others for a long while and have to say that I completely agree with your views. People saying that you are harder on the show are wrong. There are some things that can be dismissed but not when a major character such as the Master is only the Master in name. When I watched this finale it was like watching an original Moffat 2 dimensional villain and not the amazing arch enemy of old.

    Incidentally when can we expect your review of Last Christmas?

  • Soon! (Probably not till after the Oscars this weekend.)

  • Jurgan

    Okay, not good. Better than part one. “The Power of Love” is not a good way to beat Cybermen. It happened a couple of years ago with the schlubby guy from The Lodger, but that was fluff. This was the climax of the entire series. Missy is okay, but her campiness went too far this time. And while a ridiculously convoluted plan centering on the Doctor may be in character, there were a lot of unknowns and uncontrollables in this one. Giving the Doctor an army just to see what he’d do is kind of clever, and it did build on the development and the “good man” plot. For once, Moffat acknowledged stuff from before he took over. UNIT exists and has files on The Master (“not even our worst prime minister,” okay that’s funny) and there’s a clip of Davros. And at least there was an explanation for how the graves were coming to life and what 3W was about, even if it didn’t make much sense.

    I’ve now seen all of Capaldi’s first season. Typical of Moffat, it had a few good one-shots, a few not so good ones, one terrible one (“Kill the Moon”), and an overall story arc that’s big on build-up and weak on resolution. I could give thumbs-up to Robin Hood, Flatline, Mummy, and maybe a couple others. But I don’t buy Clara and the Doctor’s relationship at this point. Clara kidnapping the Doctor and threatening him because of her codependent relationship with Danny was when it jumped the shark. I like elements of Clara, but I can never trust her again, and so I can never believe her relationship with the Doctor is anything worth admiring.

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