Monday, August 11, 2014

A Purely Personal Top Ten Doctor Who Stories (Classic)

I thought, whilst this blog is at a loose end, the time had come for a Patient Centurion Top Ten Doctor Who stories. This is, of course, a temporary Top Ten. Ask me again in a month and it will probably change but nevertheless here goes...

Oh and there in no particular order of Top Ten-ness. I've chosen them on the basis of...well...I'll explain...

The Web Planet: I know. I can hear all your whinging now. It's so slow. It's direction is so slipshod. But you know I don't bloody care. I love it's vaulting ambition. It's attempt to show an utterly alien world on a budget that can barely cover the cost of a single moth costume. I love this period in the Hartnell era when the Doctor Who production team kept trying everything. Some things work. Some things don't. And I still maintain that there's a couple of moments in it that are among the most horrible and heart-breaking in the series history. Honestly it's a magnificent effort. It doesn't all work but I love it anyway.

The Gunfighters: Once head of the cavalcade of the unloved in Doctor Who terms this is actually rather wonderful. Hartnell's wonderful in it. There's some comedy accents. It's tone shifts rather dramatically when Johnny Ringo arrives. It's historically inaccurate and it has a song. A chorus rising above the action. That's I suspect because the writer had recently seen Cat Ballou. It's a fine parody of television and film westerns. But really it is worth watching for Hartnell's comic timing. Just don't take it too seriously.

The War Games: Ten episodes long. Ten. It shouldn't keep us glued to our seats but it does. Yes, there's lots of escaping, getting captured and escaping again but it is done with such panache that how can you not love it. Really. It's majestic. Troughton ends his time as The Doctor on a high note. Jamie and Zoe get possibly the saddest departure of any companions ever. We finally meet the Time Lords. And the scene where the Doctor and The War Chief set eyes on each other for the first time - and in an instant recognise each other - is rather brilliant. The Troughton era suffers from a lot of missing stories, which is a shame for a lot of reasons but mostly because it deprives us of Troughton himself.

Invasion of the Dinosaurs: If you can ignore the rather dodgy T-Rex - which is the worst of the dinosaurs by miles - this is all rather brilliant, even if the whole thing seems to be a massive grandfather paradox waiting to happen. It's got a deserted London, it's got UNIT, it's got Sarah Jane, it's got Pertwee at his most majestic and it's got Captain Yates, whose story is perhaps the most complicated of any 'companion' in the series history. It's a story arc before Doctor Who was supposed to do story arcs. It manages to feel epic despite the short-comings of budgets and effects.

Horror of Fang Rock: I could pick lots of Tom Baker but this is the first one I remember with absolute clarity as a child. It's the first one that I can remember being genuinely frightened of and it is still rather wonderful now. It's claustrophobic, relentless and dark. Everyone - almost - dies. It's got Louise Jameson as Leela in a rather fetching wooly jumper*. Tom is brilliant. It has some fine lines in it and it is still rather creepy. Age has not - quite - withered it. Definitely a story for winter's evenings.

The Horns of Nimon: This is where I will lose a lot of people. I can hear the tutting from here. But I don't care a jot. This is my comfort Doctor Who. The story I reach for to cheer me up on those horrible days when nothing seems to go right. I'll admit now that I have a soft spot for all of Season Seventeen. That might be nostalgia but I love the Fourth Doctor - Romana combination, even if they are dangerous close to be too smart-arsey for their own good. I like K9. I like Graham Crowden's mad, mad Soldeed. I find it utterly joyful to watch from the first 'weakling scum' to the very end. How any Nimon have you seen today?

Kinda: Utterly unlike most other Doctor Who stories this is all a little weird. Too weird for some people but I love it. I love the fact that it has layers. I like the fact that Janet Fielding gets to be more than just a walking Aussie whinge - at least for a bit. I like Simon Rouse's performance. I love Nerys Hughes understated Todd. I love Richard Todd's appearance as a sort of representative of a England lost in the mist and is the perfect actor for the bumbling colonial chap. It's a story you can watch over and over again. A story to get lost inside. Just be careful you don't find the Mara inside.

Vengeance on Varos: The Colin Baker era gets a constant kicking. It's usually the butt of jokes. And yes, it has its problems. The Sixth Doctor's costume is ridiculous, he stays dark and unsympathetic for too long - something that must surely weigh upon Moffat as he plots a darker, less sympathetic Capaldi incarnation - and there's just not enough joy to out-weigh the death and bleakness in some of the stories. This story has moments where the Doctor isn't behaving as the Doctor should - or the version of the Doctor in our heads - but it is still rather well-written and directed. Writer Philip Martin wrote the marvellous Gangsters, which I recommend to your perusal - and plays with the fourth wall here a little too. Add Nabil Shaban's memorable Sil and you've got a winner.

Remembrance of the Daleks: Anyone who thinks Sylvester McCoy isn't a good Doctor should be strapped to a seat and made to watch this. Over and over again. This is a real tour-de-force and I remember this as the story that restored my shaken faith in Doctor Who after Season Twenty-Four (which in retrospect has more positive moments than I felt it did at the time.) It's well-acted, well-directed and well-written. This is the moment Ace and the Seventh Doctor establish themselves up there with Leela and the Fourth Doctor and Romana II and the Fourth Doctor as my favourite Doctor/Companion pairings** It really is better than it probably had any right to be at this point. If you've not seen it you really should stop reading this immediately and go and watch it. Go on.

The Happiness Patrol: I love this story. For similar reasons to why I love The Web Planet. Only Doctor Who could - or would - do this kind of thing. Only Doctor Who would make such a wonderful parable on the wonders of melancholy and what it means to be a minority in a tiny studio with pink wigs and a villain that looks not unlike a certain Bertie Bassett. People get rather sniffy about this story. It's too obviously sets. Of course it is. Terra Alpha is a Potemkin Village writ large. It looks artificial because it is artificial. Terra Alpha is an illusion. It's the creation of a woman who tried to do the right thing but couldn't understand why her people weren't happy with this right thing. It's pink and fluffy and all rather lovely.

There you go. That's my ten.

I'm sure you'll viciously disagree with some - or all - of my choices. You'd be wrong of course. My life in Doctor Who fandom has taught me that however bad a story is seen to be by fan consensus it is always someone's favourite. And however brilliant a story is there's always someone out there that hates it. Sometimes to a baffling degree of rage.

That's another of the fun bits of being a Doctor Who fan.

Be seeing you.

*I may have become obsessed with Louise Jameson in knitware since watching The Omega Factor
**Companion-Doctor favourites is a blog for another day.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Fun Stuff

Picture From Dorkly's 12 Types of Doctor Who Fan

I've been a Doctor Who fan for a long time and there has never been a better time to be a Doctor Who fan. The show is popular, possibly more popular than it has ever been, and it has a genuine global reach. There's enough merchandise out there to sink a battleship. You can watch it any time you like in a myriad of formats. There are websites and podcasts. You can interact with fellow fans on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even in the real world. Being a Doctor Who fan is acceptable. We're fans of one of the most popular shows on British television. The Doctor is one of the few genuinely mythological characters created by television whose existence passes beyond just television.

It's great.

And I have to remind myself of this periodically because I remember being a Doctor Who fan in the dark days. When watching Doctor Who was like raging against the dying of the light. When 'it's not as good as it used to be' was regularly repeated like a mantra by Doctor Who fans and non-Doctor Who fans alike. When being a Doctor Who fan made you an acceptable target not just for ridicule but actual bullying at school. [As an example of how this worked watch the conversation between Paul Cornell and Dr Matthew Sweet in the latter's excellent Culture Show Doctor Who Special. If you can find it. That, my friends, is what it could be like at its worst]. 

Mostly, of course, it was mockery or bafflement that you were on the receiving end of, which are still quite common even today. If I had a pound for every time someone said "Yeah, but it's a kids show", I'd have £3,966. 

I was lucky. I never cared about how people felt about my Doctor Who obsessions to the point of being belligerently upfront about it. But I can understand why some Classic Doctor Who fans can come across as overly defensive and angry at new fans. The atmosphere in the tale end of Classic Doctor Who within fandom could be poisonousness. We learnt our debating styles when things were ugly (and very, very male). That doesn't excuse shitty behaviour but it does explain it a little.

Me, I always hung on to the joy that Doctor Who bought (and brings) me. It is still one of the few things that can make me deliriously and childishly happy. I watch every episode as two versions of me. The one is the now me. The bitter, cynical 43 year old git who is archly critical and capable of spotting a continuity error at a thousand yards. The other is the 11 year old me. Fresh-faced, excited and just in it for the FUN. He's the one that doesn't care about dodgy special effects, gaping plot holes, UNIT dating controversies or any of that kind of stuff. He just wants to escape. Sometimes the 43 year old me wins but mostly the 11 year old me does. 

And I try to hang on to that feeling because it is easily lost in all the criticism and cynicism and shear bloody smart-arsery of the modern 24/7 online culture.  We sometimes forget amongst all the words and noise to just have fun.

Doctor Who has never been more popular. It's never been more accessible in either Classic or New Who form (and I'm not going to rant on here about how much I hate the artificial seperation of Classic and New Who, even though I've fallen into the trap of using them myself all the bloody time).

It's fun being a Doctor Who fan now more than ever. Let's not lose that.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Telling Different Stories

So, I've been thinking about the 'Great White Saviour' that is the Doctor, although I usually don't think of him quite like that. There's a couple of reasons for that. Firstly Doctor Who is just a television programme so why would I think that deeply about the central character. [Yes, I know but imagine I am writing this as someone else who doesn't actually do that kind of thing.] Secondly it is embarrassing to admit that as a white, middle-class, straight man of a certain age I try to avoid thinking about the more 'old-school' aspects of the Doctor. Thirdly - and I apologise for coming over all Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition here - the Doctor's alienness seems to provide an excuse for excluding him from tedious Earth-bound questions about gender and race. He's from Gallifrey after all.

I blame the Verity Podcast for getting me thinking about this again. Having a voice outside my own head with experiences unlike my own and therefore perceptions of a different kind makes you think. And I hate questioning my own ways of privileges. 

Anyway...let's put a line of thought together. Let's assume Gallifreyans have a flexible approach to skin colour and sex. Let's assume that a Time Lord can be male in one incarnation and female in the next. Let's not get too hung up for the moment on how that affects sexual relationships.* And let us assume that your first incarnation is pretty much a lottery, although with a tendency towards the Caucasian - if stories set on Gallifrey are anything to go by.**

Tilda Swinton - Perfect for The Doctor?

So The Doctor's first incarnation is - by fluke - a white male. He ends up spending a lot of time on Earth. He likes it and it so happens that being a white man seems to be a pretty safe thing to be in most periods of Earth's history. So when he regenerates he sticks with the white male outfit. After all being white and male avoids a lot of tricky questions most of the time. (Lewis CK, the American comedian has an amusing routine along a similar line). Therefore the Doctor is a white male most of the time out of convenience.

There. I have provided a semi-logical reason for the Doctor's perpetual white maleness.

Now, let's step back into the real world - or what passes for the real world. What if we were to cast a black actor as the Doctor or a woman? I have no strong opinions on this any more. I did once. I think I might have got over it. But let's assume they do. 

We immediately have a potentially very different television series. Not just because we've got a different Doctor but because we now have a political issue to deal with. Does the production team ignore the change - except to make one or two jokes about it - or do we confront a genuine issues: power and who has it. In any Earth based story set in either the present or past does the production team behave as people are colour or gender blind to the Doctor's appearance (as they kind of did with Martha in the Shakespeare Code) or do we confront this head on?

What if a Black Doctor found himself in the US during the Civil War? How would the powerful of - most - eras of Earth history react to female Doctor? Would the silencing of the non-white and the non-male be reflected in the stories? The Doctor's opinions dismissed because of his colour or her sex? Does every story require the new Doctor to do something impressive to emphasise his or her credentials in order to get over this problem or does it become a running issue? Does Doctor Who confront these things or gloss over them?

It's a big question. 

The 13th Doctor?

Personally I'd love Doctor Who to get its teeth into these issues if we still have time for tea-time adventure. These issues can be tackled without being tediously politically correct or dull. The key is always the power of the story. And I'd prefer that to ignoring it all together.

I don't know whether these things will ever happen. It does seem more likely we'll get a black or asian Doctor before we get a female Doctor. But even that step - as I hope I've outlined - brings with it political decisions. It's wouldn't - couldn't? - be business as usual. The world doesn't give an equal hearing to people of colour or women (without a fight) and to pretend otherwise might be a grievous fault.  

It would though be an interesting choice. And a chance perhaps to tell some different stories. 

*For theories on the sex lives of Gallifreyans I think another blog would be required. Well, not required as such. 

**Although perhaps this all white male thing is a phase Gallifreyans are going through at the time, like a fashion. Even it does appear to have lasted a bloody long time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

An Earthly Child

An Earthly Child is one of Big Finish's special releases. It's set on Earth. Thirty years have past since the Dalek Invasion and Susan Campbell is calling out to the Universe for help to re-build the Earth. An Earth that is suffering from a global post-traumatic stress disorder. They - we - are afraid of more aliens. Afraid of technology. Earth seems to be marching backwards into the future.

Susan's actions draw the attention of the Guldresi and another mysterious traveller in time and space: The Doctor.

I enjoyed it. It's an interesting postscript to The Dalek Invasion of Earth. It's surprisingly realistic. This feels like how Earth might react post-invasion.

That's certainly the case for Alex Campbell. He's Susan and David Campbell's son. He's half-Gallifreyan. On his mother's side. On heart. And he hates aliens. He's caught between the machinations of his mother and of Faisal Jensen of Earth Unity but eventually he tries to find his own way, despite Susan's intentions to send him off to Gallifrey for a proper education. He's played by Jake McGann, who is Paul McGann's son, which is interesting. It's a good performance as Alex struggles to come to terms with what is happening and who it is. We don't know - at this point - how things will end but it seems a fairly realistic take on what might happen.

Susan is played by Carole Ann Ford. Obviously. It's nice to have a Susan story forty years later that gives her something useful to do. This isn't the Susan of the television series. Obviously. She's older. She's a mother. She's stuck on a backwards planet with nowhere to go. It's almost like the Third Doctor's exile but with the additional burden of a family. She's very good. I particularly like the scene when she's first re-united with the Doctor in a police cell in Bristol. It's rather sweetly done.

The Doctor's on his own this time. So I've slotted this review in here assuming he's just left Lucie Miller at the end of Death in Blackpool. I'm not sure if this is correct or not. But it's my blog, my rules etc.

Paul McGann's brilliant as usual and there's something about his performance now that makes it seem like he's more comfortable with it. Happier being the Big Finish Eighth Doctor. Occasionally - back in some of the Divergent Universe stories for example - he did sound a bit like his heart wasn't in it as much. Perhaps I'm wrong.

Also worthy of applause is Leslie Ash as Marion Fleming. Fleming is a teacher at Bristol University. She's teaching Alex Campbell and ends up assisting the Doctor. It's a nice performance.

The story is written by Marc Platt, who seems to have an interest in the Doctor's family life going all the way back to Lungbarrow, and I like the story, which I think is about fitting in under all its science-fiction pretensions. It's not the most action packed of tales. It's about politics and families so there's a lot of talking* but it's all rather enjoyable.

And it is nice for the Doctor to finally pop back to see Susan, even if it has taken him a long time to do so.

*I KNOW it is audio so it is bound to be wordy but there's wordy and there's wordy. Pfft. I know what I mean. Even if you don't.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Script Doctor: The Inside Story of Doctor Who 1986-1989 by Andrew Cartmel

Andrew Cartmel's book Script Doctor: The Inside Story of Doctor Who 1986-1989 is a niftily written account of his time as Script Editor of Doctor Who as the series came stuttering to the end of what is now pointlessly called 'Classic Who'. It wasn't the best time to be working on the series as those in charge of the BBC had gradually come to find the whole existence of Doctor Who something of a tedious embarrassment. Having tried and failed to kill it off once during the Colin Baker era they wisely decided that instead of going through the hassle that resulted from that debacle they'd kill off Doctor Who by a thousand cuts: moving it to go head-to-head with Coronation Street for example.

However that didn't stop the production team from doing their best to turn things around. This is Andrew Cartmel's account of those events and his - and other writer's attempts - to freshen up Doctor Who with new writing blood and a restoration of mystery. In some ways the template they laid in Season 25 and 26, which carried on through to the Virgin New Adventures, is the template for New Doctor Who. After all, as I've said elsewhere in this blog, who is Rose but Ace without explosives and Survival could very easily have slid into New Who with hardly a word changed.

There's a set of people who claim that the Sylvester McCoy era of Doctor Who is rubbish. That Sylvester isn't properly Doctor Who-ish. I think these people are wrong. Now I'll admit Season 24 isn't the series finest hour - and Andrew Cartmel looks far more fondly upon Delta and the Bannermen than I do for example - but Seasons 25 and 26 contain some of the series all time great stories: Remembrance of the Daleks, The Happiness Patrol, Curse of Fenric and Ghost Light.

It's good to get an insight into some of the ups and downs of that period. To hear about how each story was nursed through production to the screen. It's definitely a book about writing and writer's. Naturally. But Cartmel comes across as much more hands on as a Script Editor than usual: visiting sets, organising meetings between actors and writer's, looking for new writing blood etc.

This book is also, mainly, a positive look at the period. It's certainly a nice contrast to the much more depressing JNT : The Life and Scandalous Times of John Nathan-Turner* by Richard Marson. Indeed it makes an interesting companion piece to that book (or vica versa) as John Nathan-Turner is a key figure in Cartmel's book too. Obviously. There are battles fought here between JNT and Cartmel but the book handles them without bitterness, which I like. Even Cartmel's dislike of Pip and Jane Baker's Time and the Rani script (and their attempts to undermine Cartmel) isn't reflected in anything over-acerbic. It's rather refreshing.

It also makes an interesting companion to RTD and Benjamin Cook's The Writer's Tale. The Classic Who v New Who story. Although personal this doesn't feel as personal as RTD's book. That's probably for a couple of reasons: partly because RTD is showrunner, which gives him broader responsibilities and stresses than Cartmel and partly because RTD's book is written in the heat of battle whereas there is some distance between the events in Cartmel's book and the present. The interesting thing is the amount of common problems the two  books highlight. Even with its increased budgets some of the problems with producing Doctor Who never seem to change.

The book covers each story of the Seventh Doctor's era and has insights into the whole production process: from casting through to broadcast but with a clear focus on the writing side. I was also mildly amused by Cartmel's wistful fondness for attractive ladies, which occasionally pops up.

I also like the fact that whilst this is Cartmel's story he doesn't get too egotistical. Indeed one of the other heroes of this book might be Ben Aaronovitch whose two stories Remembrance of the Daleks and Battlefield meet interestingly different fates. This is definitely a story of how what the writer wants to do and what eventually gets delivered is often a very different thing. Battlefield is the classic example of a potentially great story let down massively by its production values - especially sound design.

This was first published - I think - in 2005 but is out in a new edition now via Miwk Publishing**. My copy comes with autograph and some rather natty freebies : including a Silas P Business Card (which I adore).
If you like Doctor Who this is a great introduction to the series final three seasons. It's surprisingly positive, well-written and a fine insight into the process of turning ideas into scripts into programmes.


*Miwk also published the JNT book, which I also recommend but which can be a horribly depressing slog at times. Not because the writing is bad but because there is behaviour and events in there that can only be described as a bit sad and pathetic. A lot of people don't come out of the story well. If you don't want your illusions shattered I'd stay away but

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Patient Centurion : What Happens Now?

So having reached The Time of The Doctor the Patient Centurion has hit the present day so what's next? There's two likely strands: blogging the stories that weren't covered previously & blogging the new series when it starts on August 23rd.

If you go back to the first post on The Patient Centurion you'll note I only started blogging the individual stories from Season 8 so I shall be going back to the beginning and covering those stories, from An Unearthly Child to Inferno that I haven't already covered. This will be a slower process as I'm expecting to cover one story a week (roughly) due to real life commitments but that should keep me busy.

Plus I'm intending to do a massive Shada special covering the surviving television material, the McGann audio version, Gareth Robert's novelisation and the Lalla Ward reading of it. This might be a bit of over-kill but it is my blog, my rules. The other likely special will be on The Gunfighters, which I've been working on for a while in a half-arsed way.

I'll also blog immediate post-episode blogs for Series 8. I'll make these spoiler free. I'm obviously excited about Capaldi's Doctor but I'm beginning to worry that I'm letting my expectations reach an impossible to satisfy levels. Perhaps it'll be rubbish. But I can't quite convince myself of that, even though The Moff's still in charge.

I have my issues with The Moff's version of Doctor Who but whilst the BBC remains happy with what he's doing then I can't see him changing. The danger for us - and for The Moff - is that he finds himself turning into the New Doctor Who JNT. However a new Doctor gives The Moff a chance to take the show in a new direction. I'll probably be more concerned if at the end of Series 8 the same Moffat clich├ęs are being trotted out, just with a slight Capaldiesque spin.

I half-jokingly suggested before that Capaldi himself might end up as the next Showrunner. I'm going to suggest it again here, even though it is highly unlikely to ever happen. After all an actor with so much power might be dangerous.

I'll also be starting to blog more Big Finish and Book reviews too. The sister site to this is The Audio Centurion and that's a bit dusty and unloved at the moment. The book reviews will go here in the Patient Centurion blog. I've got a pile to read at the moment, mostly from Miwk Publishing including The Quest For Peddler by Michael Seely, Script Doctor by Andrew Cartmell and Unnatural Selection: The Natural History of the Natural History of Fear by Jim Mortimore.* Plus Telos Publishing's Robert Holmes: A Life in Words by Richard Molesworth. So watch this space for reviews of these books. Eventually.

I'm also hoping, now I've got the equipment properly set up, to add more interviews to the sites. So far only India Fisher has been interviewed. I hope to add some more soon.

Finally I may also throw in a one-off Podcast when I can find a reason to justify it.

So there you go. A list of plans and schemes. But, as the poet once said, the best laid plans o' mice an' men gang aft agley.

Be seeing you.

*I should declare that Unnatural Selection features a quote from my review on its cover & my full review of the story inside (alongside many others), which obviously makes me a potentially biased reviewer.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Time of the Doctor

So I've finally reached the end. The moment has been prepared for, which will mainly involve going back to the beginning again. But more on that later.

The Time of the Doctor sees an end to the Matt Smith era of Doctor Who. In my 'umble opinion he's been a fine Doctor. He's up there with Tom Baker and Pat Troughton as one of my favourite actors to have played the part.

The problem is it isn't the best of stories. The Moff has too many threads to tie up to which he has added a final problem: how is the Doctor's final regeneration not going to be the Doctor's final regeneration. The Moff's painted himself into this corner because he decided that Tennant got two and created the War Doctor.

The problem is that The Moff throws everything into this story including a kitchen sink and a turkey. We find out who blew up the TARDIS, what the Silence were up to and our friendly neighbourhood crack in the Universe pops up for a final bow. It turns out that the crack is now Gallifrey calling. They're asking the question that we have been pinging backwards and forwards for a while now and that seems to be a particular Moff fascination: Doctor Who? Pfft.

Then there's the usual 'every villain in Doctor Who history' is hovering above a planet. There's Cybermen who are being as rubbish as usual even though the wooden one is quite cool - if pointless. There's a couple of comedy Sontarans, which reminds me once more that The Moff has forgotten that Sontarans aren't supposed to be jokes. There's throwaway mentions of other species. And then there's the Daleks. Again.

Fundamentally the problem with this episode is that it isn't a proper farewell to Matt Smith more a Moff greatest hits. In a way it does Matt Smith a disservice. There's a few moments that shine: the scenes with Barnable (Jack Hollington), the end of Handles, the final reunion with Clara and the moments before the regeneration. The moment he drops the bow tie did genuinely bring a tear to my eye. But perhaps I'm going soft in my old age.

There's too much going on. Take a deep breath Mr. Moff and drop a couple of tricks. Do we need to throw another feisty mysterious psychotic female into the Whoniverse? This is Tasha Lem* (Orla Brady) who is apparently head of the papal mainframe. Now Orla Brady does a great job with the part and the 'I died screaming your name' moment is genuinely dark. But these kind of women are becoming a Moff cliche. I suppose River Song wasn't available. And I say that as someone who actually likes River Song.

It's not meant to be about the writer showing off his cliches and tricks this stuff it's supposed to be a farewell to Matt Smith and it just doesn't work for me. The first time I watched it I actually got quite annoyed about the whole thing because it doesn't do Matt Smith justice. This time round I was less annoyed just because I let it flow over me. I tutted at certain points. The naked stuff still doesn't work for me. It's gratuitously silly as opposed to gloriously silly - which is how I describe Season 17 btw.

I've no complaints about any of the performances. Jenna Coleman does a wonderful job, especially as she has to spend a lot of this story being sad. Can we have a bit of happy Clara in the new series please, although I'm not going to hold my breath. Matt Smith does what he's done throughout his time in the series and that's raise the quality of a story through his brilliance. So whatever my rants about this episode are I'll never forget when the Doctor was him. *Sniff*

Next up Peter Capaldi.

And yes I am excited.

*There is still some possible mystery about the identity of Tasha Lem and her relationship with the Doctor, which the Moff might come back to. Or not. I suppose we don't need ever loose end tied up do we.