So I've realized that, if you look at the original series TARDIS teams from season 11 on...

…there are a lot of parallels with the new series TARDIS teams. Check this out. You have:

Team Underappreciated 1

A more reserved, less eccentric Doctor that sometimes gets overshadowed by his more charismatic successor. One of the all time great companions but not with her Doctor. Pertwee doesn’t have the anger of Eccleston, but they both have a strong sense of dignity to them.

Team Iconic

For many people, this IS the TARDIS team. This is the iconic Doctor with the iconic companion. A highly eccentric and well dressed Doctor. A capable and inquisitive companion. Both Baker and Tennant made the role their own by basically being themselves. And hell, Sarah Jane was in an episode WITH Rose and they made the parallels pretty explicit.

Team Underappreciated 2

The companion that unfortunately gets left out of the conversation of great companions more often than not, despite the fact that she’s in some of the greatest stories of the whole run of the show. Martha and Leela as characters don’t really have much in common. Instead, what they have in common is that they are sandwiched between two more well-liked companions and thus still deserve their due.

Team Mates

I feel like I’m cheating by including both Romanas, but they’re both the same Time Lord, so I’m not cheating by much. Plus, Donna combines the best traits of both Romanas. Like Romana I, she basically gets plopped onto the TARDIS for the first time without the Doctor expecting it and isn’t super happy about it. And, like Romana I, she calls the Doctor on his shit and keeps him from getting too pompous. At the same time, Catherine Tate and David Tennant have the same great chemistry that Tom Baker and Lalla Ward had. Plus, the DoctorDonna was the closest thing that the new series has to a Time Lord as a companion.

Team TARDIS Family

The most crowded that the TARDIS ever got. The babyfaced Doctor with the curious outfit. The strong willed redhead who doesn’t take anyone’s shit. The curly haired other one who’s only sometimes there. The male companion that’s mostly famous for dying. (After Rory dies the first time, he’s reborn as Turlough, I guess.) Matt Smith and Peter Davison were both incredibly young at the time and following the most popular Doctor in the history of the show. They also took over around the time of a major sea change in the production of the show.

Team We Hardly Knew Ye

The companion who wasn’t as strongly characterized as her predecessors and shows up right before the regeneration. 

Team Argue Mainly

The prickly, argumentative Doctor. The companion who becomes more of a character as she’s paired with this Doctor. The actor who was already on the show as another character before playing the Doctor. The show taking a consciously darker turn after the fireworks of the anniversary year.


OK guys. This moment does not have enough love. In fact, it has some unfortunate anti-love that I aim to resolve here.

Yes, this episode heavily references Girl in the Fireplace. And yes, that episode is pretty much the most anti-shippy thing to happen in canon for Doctor/Rose.


Twelve can’t remember Clara’s name at first. Nor Vastra nor Jenny nor Strax. He leaves Clara in danger and he won’t even give her the screwdriver. He does questionable things—he’s darker, I get that.

But even so, and even though he’s trying to figure things out with the bad guy, and does not have all his memories intact (‘Handles’? Really, Doctor??) he CANNOT leave the bunch of roses on the floor.

The bunch of yellow roses—yellow which signifies remembrance. There are centuries-old ballads (‘Round Her Neck She Wears a Yeller Ribbon’) and old movies (‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon’) and folk songs (‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree’) all about yellow being the color of remembrance—specifically in all these pop-culture cases, remembrance of a lost love.

And as he’s struggling to remember why droids harvesting parts rings a bell with him, does he look at the droid? No. Does he have flashbacks to women making double entendres with cleavage spilling out? No. (And the eventual reference to MdP is blah blah bland). But what does he do? He twirls the roses and holds them just a little bit closer. This is so reminiscent of the Journal of Impossible Things, where even as a human Ten can’t remember the name of the TARDIS, or the sonic screwdriver—but he keeps drawing roses in his journal and hers is the only face he can canonically put a name to.

Moffat may be many, many things, and do many, many things that I do not particularly like, but this… this is pretty awesome guys. This isn’t anti-shippy at all. This is shippy and sweet and subtle in the extreme.

And I love it and I really think you should too <3


The Chess Metaphor: The Doctor as the King and River Song as the Queen of the set

"The Wedding of River Song"

"The queen is your only legal move. Except you’ve already moved it 12 times which means there are now 4 million volts running through it."

The Silence has moved River one too many times and she is now sparking and deadly; she refuses to be manipulated any more and cannot be moved by them again. The Doctor is winning the game, but to get what he truly wants— information, both during the chess game and in reality— he must concede the game. He concedes to River, allowing himself to trust her, and marries her, thereby winning his life, information, and her. 

Nightmare in Silver/The Name of the Doctor

"You could sacrifice your queen."

While the game in TWoRS has the Doctor facing an outside enemy, the game in “Nightmare in Silver” is his battle against himself. This sacrifice gives up the queen, the most powerful piece in the set, for some positional benefit. The Doctor sacrifices the queen during the game to win in general, and saves the children and Clara. However, in doing so he had to face a darker, more painful part of himself. In the next episode, he faces his tomb, an internal attack on himself, but cannot bring himself to rescue Clara until he lets go of his wife, who he had been holding on to for years— so he “sacrifices his queen.”

what went wrong with doctor who series seven? (part one)

(part two)  (part three)

The latest Christmas special, the Time of the Doctor proves it. There’s no way to sugarcoat it, series seven was probably the creakiest run of Doctor Who episodes since the show hit its nadir in the 1980s. It hasn’t just been noted by tumblr fans or reviewers for the sci-fi section of websites; casual fans when asked just didn’t warm to Clara - “she’s cute but doesn’t do anything,” “she’s just there to be pretty for the doctor” and "she’s the impossible girl but the doctor does everything." These are genuine complaints from fans who aren’t on tumblr; some watch the show religiously whilst others are more casual viewers. So what went wrong with series seven? Was it the split in episodes? Was it the departure of Gillan and Darvill, both of whom had magnificent chemistry with Matt Smith? Is it the (apparently) gargantuan boner Steven Moffat has for convulsion, paradoxes and overcomplicated plot threads?

Let’s have a look shall we, and ask - what went wrong with doctor who series seven? And then, how do we fix it?

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You know, Howie had been in speech therapy. He’d just got over this massive stammer. Quite an achievement. I mean, can you imagine? I’d forgotten not all victories are about saving the universe.

Rory Williams
Doctor Who - “The God Complex

I watched this episode several times before I picked up on this quote. I didn’t think it was possible for me to love Rory more but here he is, proving me wrong again. He says a lot of really important things. Plus, he absolutely fascinates me in this episode. Two other moments stand out for me: when he talks about travelling in the TARDIS in past tense; and when the Doctor is in his rage after Rita dies… Amy looks at Rory almost afraid and clearly upset and Rory just glances at her and shakes his head a tiny bit as if to say “I’m upset too but just leave it. I can’t fix this, and neither can you. Give him space to be upset and angry for now.”

Sometimes I feel like Rory has understood the Doctor in interesting ways for a very long time. From his first trip in the TARDIS to Venice, when he tells the Doctor that he’s dangerous because he makes people want to impress him. Here, he was an outsider; he was able to see these things in the Doctor because it was his loved ones that were being put in danger.

I have absolutely loved seeing Rory grow as he travelled with the Doctor and Amy, and as he became friends with the Doctor. His understanding of all the goodness, pain and darkness in the Doctor has grown as well, and I love seeing that. I love awkward Rory and badass Rory to pieces, but this Rory - the Rory who has such a great handle on the world, or at least tries to understand it - is probably the reason I love him so much (it fits his awkwardness and badassery perfectly).

The wisdom of Doctor Who will forever be my favourite thing about this show.


I’ve been putting together the shots of all the post-it notes that Clara has at the beginning and I’ve noticed something.

Clara is telling Danny everything. Absolutely everything. Not just the truth he asked her for, corrections of her previous lies. She’s telling him everything he doesn’t know, about the dinosaur in London, about Courtney on the moon, about Robin Hood. Back before she even knew him, to Vastra and Jenny and the half-faced man. She’s telling him about her interference in  his past. She’s telling him loads of things that put her in a bad light, but she’s telling him the truth.

This is a complete and total loss of control, which is what Clara is absolutely terrified of. This is the biggest sacrifice she can make for someone, bigger than jumping into a timeline. Something simple but so difficult, and something very very human.

I’m so proud of her.

clara isn't going dark, she's becoming something much more interesting

Okay, so pretty much everyone is going nuts about Clara and say she’s going evil. And they are even pointing to the Steven Moffat quote from the Doctor Who Extra as proof. But here is what Moffat actually says:

I think in his darker hours [the Doctor] would always comfort himself with the idea, the old idea, that he makes people better. In this episode, he’s forced to conclude that maybe he’s making Clara worse. She’s picking up from him things of which are necessary but of which he is not proud.

The language here is very important. 

This isn’t something that the Doctor has realized with empirical evidence, this is what the Doctor thinks.

Here are some other things that the Doctor has thought this season:

  • That there is no promised land.
  • That Daleks couldn’t change or learn goodness and beauty
  • That Robin Hood wasn’t real
  • That there was a monster under his bed, when it was Clara who would actually inspire his entire existence
  • That Danny was a PE teacher, that Adrian was Clara’s boyfriend, that Orson and Danny looked nothing alike
  • That it was good idea to leave Clara alone on the moon, and that he was respecting her when he did it
  • that there was no Mummy, that Clara wanted to be left out of the adventure, that Perkins was in on it

And yet with all this evidence that the Doctor is having trouble with his judgment this season, somehow when he becomes convinced that Clara is getting worse because of him…he is suddenly right?

Once the TARDIS went into Siege-mode, the Doctor missed everything that Clara did, such as:

  • Thought quickly and saved the life of the train driver by using the sonic
  • Saved Rigsy’s life when he wanted to heroically sacrifice it by saying “You’re not getting off that lightly, there’s work that needs doing.”
  • She saw what was special about Rigsy, and convinced him to use his talents to help save the day

At the end of the episode, Clara says the phrase “on balance.” To which the Doctor replies that he thinks that way so other people don’t have to. 

Clara isn’t becoming dark or evil. She is becoming the Doctor’s equal.

In the bad ways and the good.

  • First Doctor:
  • First words:What are you doing here?
  • Last words:It’s all over’. That’s what you said. No, but it isn’t. It’s far from being all over. I must get back to the Tardis immediately! I must go now… I must go at once. Ah yes, thank you. Keep warm.
  • Second Doctor:
  • First words:Araagh, slower…slower! Concentrate on one thing…one thing!
  • Last words:Is this some sort of joke? No, I refuse to be treated in… What are you doing? No! Stop! You’re making me giddy! No! You can’t do this to me. No! No! No! No! No! No! No!
  • Third Doctor:
  • First words:Shoes, must find my shoes. Unhand me, Madam!
  • Last words:A tear, Sarah Jane? No, don’t cry. While there’s life, there’s…
  • Fourth Doctor:
  • First words:Typical Sontaran attitude…stop Linx… perverting the course of human history… I tell you, Brigadier - there’s nothing to worry about. The Brontosaurus is large and placid.
  • Last words:It’s the end… but the moment has been prepared for…
  • Fifth Doctor:
  • First words:Ah, you’ve come to help me find the Zero Room. Welcome aboard. I’m The Doctor, or will be if this regeneration works out.
  • Last words:Going soon. It’s time to say goodbye. Might regenerate, I don’t know. Feels different this time. Adric?
  • Sixth Doctor:
  • First words:You were expecting someone else?
  • Last words:Carrot juice, carrot juice, carrot juice…
  • Seventh Doctor:
  • First words:No Mel! Myah… that was a nice nap… now down to business. I’m a bit worried about the temporal flicker in sector 13.
  • Last words:Got to stop him.
  • Eigth Doctor:
  • First words:Who am I? WHO AM I?
  • Last words:Physician heal thyself.
  • Eight and a half:
  • First words:Doctor no more!
  • Last words:Oh yes, of course, suppose it makes sense. Wearing a bit thin. I hope the ears are a bit less conspicuous this time.
  • Ninth Doctor:
  • First words:Run!
  • Last words:Rose, before I go I just want to tell you, you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And d’you know what? So was I.
  • Tenth Doctor:
  • First words:Hello. OK, mmm. New teeth. That’s weird. So where was I? Oh that’s right… Barcelona.
  • Last words:I don’t want to go.
  • Meta-Crisis Doctor:
  • First words:Oh Yes.
  • Last words:I've only got one life, Rose Tyler. I could spend it with you. If you want.
  • Eleveth Doctor:
  • First words:Aaargh! Legs! I’ve still got legs. Good. Arms, hands, ooh fingers, lots of fingers. Ears, yes eyes, two, nose…I’ve had worse. Chin…blimey! Hair! I’m a girl! No! No, I’m not a girl… and still not ginger! There’s something else, something important, I’m…I’m…I’m… crashing! Haha! Woohoo! And… geronimo!
  • Last words:I will not forget one line of this. Not one day. I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me.

The Character Development of River Song

The Wedding of River Song

A lot of the criticism (or hate) of River Song prevalent in the Doctor Who fandom finds its roots in a misunderstanding of her timeline, and the implications it has for the character. All too often it is assumed that the new aspects of her personality, motivation or actions discovered as we progress through the episodes can be applied to River at all points of her timeline, whether she is a student, a prisoner, or a professor. Because River’s timeline is running more or less opposing to the Doctor’s (and therefore ours), what is in fact character evolution over the course of her life is quite often misjudged as Moffat messing up her character as he went along. To show that the latter could not be further from the truth and that we instead are watching the development of River in reverse it is useful to examine the events of the series in the order they happened to her. Here I will look at The Wedding of River Song, but – as usual with River – spoilers abound, primarily for Season 6.

Seeing that TWoRS already completes River’s journey from trying to murder the Doctor in Berlin to becoming his wife, I’d like to address the issue of agency here. “River has no agency in her relationship with the Doctor” is a misconception that people seem to repeat without giving much thought to it. If some explanation is given, it is usually pointed out how her life has been shaped by the Doctor, starting with her birth and continuing with her choosing her profession. This is, however, a complete misrepresentation of how their relationship evolves – in both of their timelines. In fact, River is the one who displays a much greater agency with regards to their relationship.

From the Doctor’s point of view he gets more or less pushed into a relationship with River. She saves him in the Library, largely ignoring his own wishes. It is her who seeks him out in The Time of Angels and The Pandorica Open. She initiates their first kiss (from his point of view) in Day of the Moon. She confronts him at the end of A Good Man Goes to War and reveals her identity. Up to Let’s Kill Hitler the Doctor moves from distrust and suspicion to fascination and ultimately love but except for a growing confidence with regards to their flirting, he does so largely as a passive participant not as a driving force. The first major step he takes in deepening their relationship is his offer to travel together in Day of the Moon - that is one and a half seasons after first meeting her in the Library, about six years for the Doctor.

River, on the other hand, shows initative from their very first meeting on. Yes, the Doctor plays a significant role in changing her mind in Let’s Kill Hitler, but it is River who decides to give him her remaining regeneration. She chooses to study archaeology, going against everything she was taught before. Ironically, while the Doctor is spending many episodes wondering and asking who she is, River actually takes active steps to find out who he is, whether he is a “good man”.


In the context of The Wedding of River Song it is sometimes argued that her behaviour does not display any true agency because she does what she does for the Doctor. Quite frankly, this is ludicrous in itself: Acting because one cares for a person does not negate the act itself. River is hardly standing to the side nodding meekly at every suggestion the Doctor makes. Instead, River Song is in the process of destroying time and the entire universe in complete defiance of the man she loves. “Passivity” is something entirely else, and rest be assured that River Song has never possessed it. 

Moreover, River’s motives in TWoRS are not one-dimensional. Over the course of the episode, River gives three reasons for going against this fixed point in time:

  1. She does not want the Doctor to die
  2. She does not want to kill the Doctor 
  3. If it is inevitable, she wants him to know that he is loved

I singled out the second motive as separate from the first, because experiencing the death of a loved one is not the same as having to kill him yourself. River – who just broke her conditioning in Let’s Kill Hitler, who is starting to come into her own – does not want to kill the Doctor. She is done with being used by the Silence and when she is forced into this situation, she rebels against it. This is impulsive and reckless, and done with a certain disregard for anyone but the Doctor and herself (as supported by her admission that she would suffer more than any living thing in the universe). Her agency was constrained by the Silence, and she claims it back, against all the odds – even against the very rules of time.

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Moffat Appreciation: Ditching The Wise Man

Working in a male-dominated field of science, I have grown slightly weary of  “wise old man” characters. Every great story has one, a Dumbledore, a Gandalf, a Master Hora - and don’t get me wrong, I love those characters! And I even take comfort in the thought of having that one grandfather-like figure who has all the answers. But as a woman, it does form a problem to me that intelligence is still expected to appear in the form of a white-haired old guy.

Doctor Who used to cater to an über-version of this stereotype. The grandfather, the doctor, the lord of time - how much more of an authority figure can one be? Mind you, when the show first aired, this was a good thing. Less than twenty years after the war, people yearned for characters that would reign the world with wisdom, rather than tanks. And what is more: considering where the show started, it has adapted amazingly well to the changing notion of female characters throughout the decades.

And yet, even in RTD’s era, forty years later, we still have that wise old man who has the answer to everything. Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, Donna Noble - they all are important, they all are intelligent and, yes, they all save the day at some point. But they all need the Doctor to show them that they are special. They need the wise old man to single them out and make them realise what they are capable of. (I know that this is a very harsh summary of what are actually brilliant characters.)

But compare this to Moffat’s writing: Remember Sally Sparrow, who figures out absolutely everything on her own, including how to make the Doctor figure out everything. Or Madame De Pompadour who remains in charge of Versailles even when under threat of being beheaded, and who finds a way for the Doctor to return when he has already given up. Also note that, while the Doctor and Rose are taken aback by her wit, she never is. Her intelligence is the most natural thing in the world.

No wonder the aliens want her brain! Did you notice the choice Moffat made there? She is a courtesan and it would have been an easy joke to use any part of her body. Her heart would even have been a somewhat okay and probably more poetic option. But it is her brain that the aliens want. And only her brain will do, forget the Timelord.

Whether it is Amy, who knows the Doctor better than he does himself, or Clara who outwits the Doctor in so many ways - the list goes on and on. Culminating, of course, in a wonderful Professor Song, who challenges the Doctor on a whole new level: Not only is she the Doctor’s equal, she is actually frustrated with him being “not done yet”.

Flying the TARDIS, speaking Gallifreyan, being a doctor - all that which used to distinguish the Doctor from his companions, that entitled him to have the final word - none of it can impress River Song. She does all of these things and she does it better than him. And she shows him how much he still has to learn. Who cares about a degree in cheesemaking, when you have no idea how to be in a marriage.

But does this take away from the Doctor? No. Again, Moffat is very smart about this. The Doctor is still a wise man. He still knows what really matters, still makes us see life with different eyes. But it is no longer because he is a man, or because he is a thousand years old, or because he has a degree in everything - it is because he is a person who has lived their life with open eyes and an open heart. A person who never ceases to learn new things.

Moffat stripped away everything that would give the Doctor intellectual authority by default. He ditched absolutely anything that might relate wisdom to gender. He added new dimensions to the notion of intelligence, some of which create a struggle for the Doctor. He gave him new things to learn and people to learn it from. And all it did was to make his wisdom more genuine. All it did was to make the Doctor better. 

(image sources: x, x, x )

Cardinal Rassilon believes humanian life - the basic physical form exemplified by Gallifreyans - to be the only essential form of life. He rationalises that for the universe to continue existing beyond the 10’000 millennia indicated previously, the unnamed creatures should be destroyed. All life not conforming to Gallifreyan standard should be destroyed. To this end, Cardinal Rassilon researched life on 278’000 planets. Of those, 69’000 contained sentient life. To those Cardinal Rassilon sent, via manipulation of the space-time vortex, a self-eradicating set of biogenic molecules with enough power to rearrange the cellular structure of each planet’s dominant life-form, so it would take on Gallifreyan physiology and would continue to evolve along those lines. All other lifeforms will become extinct within 6’000 spans.

"Zagreus", Big Finish Productions - Doctor Who

Really though, if you ever wondered about the in-universe reason for why so many aliens look humanoid, this is why.


What’s so great to me about this line—I had to pause afterwards and hyperventilate for a few minutes, and about half of that wasn’t the fault of Paul McGann being on-screen—is that it references not only Looming, but the War Looms.

See, Time Lords aren’t really big on having physical forms, or, in fact, being involved in anything at all that has to do with leaving Gallifrey or interacting with lesser species in any capacity.

Deprived of organic evolution, deprived of the spur of mortality, the the last ten-million years of their existence the [Time Lords] have been locked in a form of cultural stasis. They see themselves as monumental, as the severe, stone-faced guardians on the walls of eternity. They have no interest in progress: they consider it beneath them. They have no interest in high culture: they consider it incomprehensible. Their own biological heritage bothers them… yet at the same time they lack the will to reshape (or even leave behind) their bodies, unless the War should demand it.

Well, the War did demand it, and so some more genetic variations were made. Looms were built purely for a new caste, one of warriors. They started the War in humanoid forms. They did not end it that way.

[There was a notion of military regeneration:] field-agents whose biologies were engineered so that with every re-birth their bodies would become stronger, faster, and better-equipped for whatever tasks may lie ahead. […] Although at first these [regenerations] merely left the soldiers with enhanced bodies, with built-in resistance to the more blatant forms of post-nuclear warfare (for the frontline troops), or special temporal lobes designed to enhance communications [with Gallifrey] (in the case of comms officers), the process was soon refined. It wasn’t long before soldiers were primed so that with every transformation they’d become less and less hominid, their bodies armoured against all known forms of enemy attack, with biological weapons systems “fitted as standard”…the ultimate regenerative forms of the soldiers would…be entirely non-hominid; no limbs, no visible head, each agent a self-contained and blast-proofed unit laced with sensitive tripwire nerve-endings.

Even before the utilisation of the War Looms, there were many parallels between the Time Lords and the Daleks: they’re both starkly xenophobic and change-resistant races which can’t quite be called “species”; they propagate themselves not by biological procreation but with highly-advanced machinery which places a living consciousness within a casing, whether that casing be metal or flesh; they both lack a real sense of individuality, with Daleks nameless clones and Gallifreyans a hivemind; even the Matrix and the Pathweb share many similarities!

Who can tell the difference anymore indeed? One of these is a Dalek mutant: the other is a Time Lord soldier. Can you tell which is which?