that appears in The Doctor Dances

TV But then, Doctor Who hasn’t really ever had a character like John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness either, at least on television. Freelancers like Glitz and Lytton perhaps, but neither of them burned quite as brightly as Jack or were played by actors who inhabited their character to such a degree that it’s impossible to see were the joins are. Guest judging on So You Think You Can Dance last week, Barrowman’s comments were so constructive he not only made a contestant cry, John Lythgoe and Arlene Philips looked reasonable by comparison, the latter on stage within seconds theatrically giving the broken dancer a hug. The darkness of the later Harkness burned behind John’s eyes that night.

The younger, mortal version of the Captain that appears in The Doctor Dances is already a morally ambiguous figure; a self professed con artist, it’s his carelessness that leads to the whole sorry business and as we discover later he’s even stolen his identity from a dead pilot. He’s raffish and charming and the Doctor makes him a better person, but ultimately he was always going to relapse, become the kind of figure who could sacrifice some children to alien invaders or whatever other nastiness. Yes, the Doctor makes him a better person, but the Doctor isn’t always there keeping him check and is later, once the Captain’s been immortalised, scared of him a little bit. That’s one of conversations missing from Journey’s End, “So Rose, about that time you made me immortal …”

Imagine if the Doctor knew that just before the events of The Doctor Dances, assuming we follow the assumption that there’s a predestination element to time in the Whoniverse and it isn’t just some unfolding text, there were four version of the Captain on the planet at the same time. This one. The Harkness reliving the twentieth century thanks to a dodgy time ring and working for Torchwood. The Harkness who accidentally travelled back in time during the Torchwood episode Captain Jack Harkness and the one biding his time in the vaults of Torchwood Cardiff having been knocking around for a millennia. Never mind volcano day, it's a Sellafield of omni-sexual energy. He’s almost on a par with the Doctor for ramshackle character development and that’s even without the Boe thing.

Or those troubling two years stolen by the time agency. On the dvd commentary, Moffat says he add it in “just for the hell of it”, Davies telling him that he’ll get to it later. Steven chides him for forgetting and we’re still waiting. Perhaps the next Torchwood will have some answers but I doubt it. As Bad Wolf ultimately demonstrates, Russell’s the kind of writer who makes things up as he goes along, whereas Steven’s massive brain is layering in material which seems innocuous at first glance, or a continuity error, but then becomes massively important. We might speculate after the fact that when the Face of Boe offers You Are Not Alone, he’s hazily remembering his time with the Doctor fighting the Master. But we don’t know.

In other words, we’re left to speculate after the fact, attempting to make the stories work. In Moffat’s era, our speculation is an attempt to work out what our leader is thinking. At this point, I’m convinced there are two narratives running side by side in his era and that what we’re seeing is only half the story. At some point we’ll be able to sit and watch the River Song episodes in order from her point of view and a whole different story will emerge. The new enemy is called The Silence. The first episode River appeared in is called The Silence in the Library. This cannot be a coincidence. Or it might. I don’t know. No spoilers please.

Perhaps I’m being unfair about Russell’s planning abilities. Certainly he had clear idea of the arc of this particular Doctor, the emotional peaks and troughs, the despair of Dalek to the elation in the climax of The Doctor Dances. Like Father’s Day, it’s a hankie moment and one of the rare occasions in this first series when a beat is happening completely from the Doctor’s point of view. My suspicion has always been that when the Doctor says, “Just this once, Rose, everybody lives” he’s also talking to us fans (Moffat taking advantage of the companion as audience viewpoint character trope) and all the times we’ve reached the end of story were the timelord has succeeded but has a mass of corpses at his feet.

And there’s one of the best exchanges the franchise has ever produced for some secondary characters. Beautifully played by Richard Wilson and Vilma Hollingbery it’s right up there with anything Robert Holmes and Douglas Adams produced in their prime:
An old lady - Mrs Harcourt - hobbles towards Constantine.
Doctor Constantine.

Mrs Harcourt - how much better you are looking!

My leg's grown back! When I come to the hospital, I had ONE leg.

(observing this)
Well - there is a war on. Is it possible you miscounted?

“A mouse in front of a lion”

TV It’s probably quite difficult for those of us already in thrall to the spin-off fictions, to Edwardian Adventuresses and amnesiac Doctors living through a century of Earth’s history, to really appreciate how much of a departure an episode like The Empty Child must have been to an audience with memories of the earlier series, especially if they departed not long after The Twin Dilemma broadcast. The show had often steeped itself in period detail, albeit on a tight budget, but for all the alien technology, this is indistinguishable from the so-called more mainstream drama and with only slightly different content could happily exist in a nine o’clock slot on BBC Four.

But even for those of us who know our Faction Paradox from our divergent universe, Moffat brings something fresh to the series and by the end of this first episode I knew two things: (a) that he was clearly so busy with other things that we should enjoy this single story he’s giving to us while we can and (2) it’s so good that it falls into the category of story that is near impossible to review because there’s nothing to be funny about. Which was rather the pattern that weaved through all of the later Moffat episodes. Imagine my mix of elation and fear when we discovered that he turning down Spielberg and more Tin Tin so that he could to produce his favourite series.

I’ve heard The Empty Child is still being used in some schools to help teach kids about conditions during the blitz. When I was at juniors, we enjoyed ITV's How We Used To Live, which shows somewhat how Doctor Who has moved on because I can’t believe Mark of the Rani educated anyone much about the industrial revolution. There’s something especially nu-Who, which prides itself on providing a twist on expected formulas, about Moffat focusing not on the evacuees, but the experiences of the kids left behind or who returned because it was probably safer to risk being hit by a bomb than exist in the home they’d been sent to.

With the best will in the world and accepting the work of Ian Briggs and Ben Aaronovitch in the very later years, children were an overlooked "group" in the first thirty. For a show with a family audience the Cbeebies to BBC Three demographic made only infrequent appearances, generally as extras (cf, the Kinda) or annoyances (cf, The Twin Dillema). Across the years fairly stringent character types developed, scientists, army men, industrial workers, henchmen but very rarely young citizens simply getting by with what they have, never homeless and certainly not on screen for long enough not to be killed.

The Confidential which was broadcast after this episode went some way to demonstrating why that was the case with kids only allowed a limited time in front of the camera and difficult to direct in groups - so not ideal for the old rehearse/record production methods. Yet it’s not until we see so many of them crowded around that table (“Good eer init?”) that we notice what a huge omission they were. The only time even schools seemed to feature was in order to introduce companions of ambiguous ages played by older actors (Coal Hill from An Unearthly Child and Brendon in Mawdryn Undead) almost as though Who wanted to distinguish itself from Grange Hill (which is odd considered the many appearances from Michael Sheard).

"All" they would have needed was a figure like Florence Hoath’s Nancy, someone for the Doctor to communicate directly with rather than having to deal with the group dynamic. She's a figure head slash matriarch for these non-evacuees, a civilising influence, the kids keen to accept the parental order that she brings or at the very least her keen ability to sniff out a decent roast. But the faceting of Moffat’s writing doesn’t allow for her to simply doing it out of the goodness of her heart as a two dimensional character might; she’s fulfilling a psychological need in herself to fill the vacuum left by as we later discover her son. On second viewing can also we see how expertly Hoath is playing parental grief from the start.

The Doctor’s attitude to Nancy is important too. He doesn’t patronise her and perhaps even sees within her a kindred spirit having experienced such a loss too. When he talks about this “tiny, damp little island” saying no to Hitler, “A mouse in front of a lion” he could equally be talking about himself on oh so many other desperate situations, presumably even the one he’s just lived through, in which as we discover much later he wasn’t only fighting the Daleks but his own people as well. Sometimes Eccleston looks as though he’s glossing a bit, still getting a feel for the character. This isn’t one of those occasions.

[To be continued.]

"a love letter"

Film Woosh. Woody's already casting his next film which continuing his European grand tour is set in Rome. Penelope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page and Jesse Eisenberg. Well of course they are. Says Woody
"I love these sophisticated and civilized metropolises. Each time it's been like writing a love letter to these places and projecting my feelings for them on the screen. I hope to be able to do the same with Rome."
Berlin next? Prague? Reykjavik?

this revisit to Father’s Day

TV Sob. I’d expected to begin this revisit to Father’s Day with a thesis on the use of time travel in the episode, and that will come later, but it’s important first to remind ourselves of just how emotional the episode is, Paul Cornell’s tender writing spilling poignancy, heartbreak and tragedy across every minute. One of the key components of the spin-off fictions during the show’s television production break was the development of a much stronger emphasis on character over plot and how a companion's domesticity reflected on their time with the Doctor and even the Doctor's own past motivating his choices of destination.

When it came to writing this first season, Russell T Davies specifically asked his writers to create stories which tapped into the work they’d already been doing in the franchise which led Paul Cornell to produce an episode with a strong vibe of this spin-off trend in which the Doctor and especially Rose are the cause of the action, and in this case put us directly in the path of an emotional morris minor. We can absolutely understand why Rose couldn’t stand by and watch her daddy be run over but also, and this is a paradox as strong as any in the episode, take the Doctor’s view that she’s just another stupid ape for not considering the consequences.

Sob again. But what I’ve not noticed until this evening is how Cornell cunning shifts the timelord/companion relationship backwards in time slightly from making the Doctor a kind of love interest to the more traditional role of father figure. Which means that at the opening of the episode in saving, Pete, her own father, Rose loses her adopted father or at least his respect for her and despite their brief reconciliation the only way the proper order in her life can be repaired is if Pete sacrifices himself again. There’s a subliminal undercurrent, beneath this church under seige about Rose trying to regain the approval of her adopted father.

Blub. The scene which always hits me front and centre or at least was the beginning of the first wave tonight is when Stuart and Bev ask the Doctor if he can save them. Such incidents would become the hallmark of the Tenth Doctor’s era, and indeed an extended version appears on the bus during Planet of the Dead (“Chops and gravy”) but there’s something especially vivid yet absolutely mundane in series terms about how the couple first met, sharing a taxi home. Television, even in soap opera is inherently all about romances sparked through grand gestures, yet this is an experience we can all relate to.

Film director Richard Linklater (Slacker, Before Sunset) said once that he’s always tried to appreciate even small moments like a visit to the shop as being as important as perhaps those that could be considered life changing because there are more of the former than the latter and if we always seek the latter we’ll never be satisfied. Although there’s an element of “a pessimist is never disappointed” (cf, the audience), it pitches the Doctor as the exact opposite. If someone spends their life enjoying marvellous exciting adventures in marvellous exciting places with marvellous exciting people, they probably spend their life seeking small moments like a visit to the shop or sharing a taxi home.

We’re back to the role of the companion again, of course and their vicarious importance to the Doctor (“I can smell chips. I want chips…”) which I’ve already covered when talking about the non-deleted scenes from the fifth season box set. But you could speculate that one of the reasons the Doctor’s miffed with the Rose in this episode isn’t just that she destroyed the world, but that she broke out of her role of being his touchstone with the normal. But you could question why the Doctor so gleefully agrees to take her to such a sensitive point in time anyway. Was it perversely so that he could draw from her grief so that he didn’t feel quite so alone after destroying his own kind?

The wikipedia page for the episode ties itself in knots attempting to justify why the portrayal of this kind of reverse grandfather paradox and more specifically the appearance of the reapers contradicts similar time changing events seen before and later in the series. Despite being the one of the people who tweeted Blinovitch’s name in the aftermath of A Christmas Carol, I’ve never found Father’s Day that troubling because Cornell layers into the Doctor’s dialogue enough side notes to suggest this situation is simply different.

When Rose saves her Dad, the original version of her and the Doctor are obliterated from history, and since her action was as a result of her inaction the first time around, both she and the Doctor and the TARDIS became inexplicable, paradoxical occurrences. It’s that which makes this a sensitive point in history, why the Reapers appear to fix the wound, this already a paradox within a paradox. It’s also presumably why the TARDIS lost its extra-reality capabilities though it doesn’t explain the problems in audio and Mike Skinner making his first cameo in the series, though as we saw in The Big Bang, when the web of time is damaged, there also bits left over.

Plus and this looks backwards towards Aliens of London, as Philip Sandifer noted on his blog when reviewing Simon Guerrier's novel The Time Travellers (blog via Neil) each and every time the Doctor opens the doors of his TARDIS, he changes history and in doing so it means that the next time he lands its in a new and different version of the universe. Even after Pete introduces the concept of benevolent suicide to any kids watching, when the TARDIS team leave at the close of the episode, Rose has in fact got her original wish, her father doesn’t die alone. History has been changed, again, just in a more subtle, meaningful way and probably in a more subtle, meaningful way than usual.

“Bless The Long Game.”

TV In his exit interview for Doctor Who Magazine, Russell T Davies when asked about those episodes that didn’t quite work out said “Bless The Long Game”. Its always been considered something of a runt in the litter of the first season. Too traditional for some, too at variance from proper Doctor Who for others, it’s not the episode I’ve been particularly looking forward to viewing again despite the opportunity to see Anna Maxwell Martin dressed in combat fatigues long before she became the face of period drama at the BBC.

Detailed general production information was still fairly thin on the ground when the episode was originally broadcast. There wasn’t much talk of the need for “double banking” style episodes with minimal participation from the timelord or his plus one or both. So one of the main focuses for criticism was the basically minimal participation for the Doctor and Rose, who effectively, save for a visit to the information room thingy, hang around outside a diner for the first half of the episode then visit the top floor to face down the villain then letting someone else save the day.

Now of course we understand, that because of the horrid work schedule in Cardiff, some episodes are shot simultaneously. In later seasons, the production team took the opportunity to try something a bit special, leading to Love & Monsters, Midnight, Turn Left and of course the Blink, which ironically then went on to voted the second best episode ever in the most recent Doctor Who Magazine poll. Now that we’ve accepted that, we can see that though The Long Game is no classic, as an episode fulfilling a difficult brief, it’s perfectly acceptable piece of entertainment.

For a start, along with Maxell Martin it features a stonkly strong, eclectic cast what with Simon Pegg camping about as the albino controller, Christine Adams who subsequently went to America and became the guest artist de jure notably as Simone Hundin, Emerson’s love interest in Pushing Daisies and oddly, and it really is oddly considering the size of the role, Tamsin Grieg whose benign massage of Adam's ego and everlasting credit is my favourite of the episode, particularly her reaction to the frozen sick (which has a piece of carrot in it – nice touch prop pickers).

Russell at least uses the opportunity to demonstrate to new audiences why the Doctor is careful when choosing his companions (slightly undermined by the next episode Father’s Day but nonetheless), showing us what happens when an opportunist travels in the TARDIS rather than someone essentially benevolent in spirit. He very deliberately intercuts between Adam’s investigation of the station for his own ends and Rose helping the Doctor without a thought for herself or her own safety, the former asking what the future can do for him, the latter doing what she can for the future.

The episode is also a strong allegory for what happens when information stops being democratic, from multiple sources and when people stop questioning the veracity of it. This is the kind of top down conglomerated news control is slowly sapping plurality of thought and as we can already see in large parts of the world, having a drastic effect on our welfare simply because a subset of people don’t realise that they’re being controlled to the point that they think they still have free will even though they really don’t (not naming any particular beverage related movements).

Plus it’s a (not very much any more) secret prequel to the closing finale, with the piqûre dans le conte that despite stopping Max (phew) the course of history still isn’t repaired and in some respects the Doctor's made matters worse. It’s probably worth it for that nuanced moment from Eccleston in Bad Wolf when his character realises the consequences of his actions, something which I don’t think we received later when Tenth stopped the new Golden Age by stuffing up Harriet Jones’s historic premiership leaving room for the Master to tuck himself in (and later tuck into a turkey).

Yet The Long Game isn’t a winner. I used to think it was because of Brian Grant’s direction, but on review he captures nicely the bustle of the space outside the café with verite style shot choices, there are some rather good establishing shots and the moment when the Doctor persuades Cathica to save the day via the reflection is gorgeous. Perhaps it's simply because the rote predictability which is a feature of so much Doctor Who, but usually well hidden beneath the moments of charm and short skirts is too close to the surface in an episode pinioned around trying to get a lift to work. Bless it.

Ten pounds extra

Life Another Monday, another replacement piece of technology. The LG BD350 I won in that competition last year gave up the ghost last night, wouldn't you know just outside the warranty period, refusing to play most blu-rays at all, and dvds only with a kind of weird juddering sound from the player and in the picture.

It's not been the best player I've ever owned, weird and plasticy and unreliable even after accepting firmware updates so now it's in silicon heaven. Nevertheless there was a certain poigniancy as I scrapped it, remembering the excitement of the day we first met. Or rather met the original player for which this was already a replacement.

In its place is a Panasonic DMP-BD45K which like all "Pannys" is metal and has a robustness. It's also much quieter, has what seems like superior picture quality and actually plays discs, which is an improvement. We'll see how this new relationship develops.  Ten pounds extra at Richer Sound makes this five year commitment.

Sympathy for the Dalek

TV This episode could well be the best of the series so far. At no point during Dalek did you feel like you had to make allowances for moments designed y'know for kids. No farting or burping here. This was a story sleekly designed to frighten the bejesus out of everyone and was all the better for it. Arguably, for the first time, the series held its back story on its sleeve throwing references for long term viewers and fans all over the place, to Davros and Cybermen, without needing to name any names. But new mythology was created for new fans, with the adversaries in the Time War spelt out for the first time and The Doctor's part in it.

The scariest moments for me were the scenes in which this story was told as The Doctor confronted the Dalek. He just ranted at it, face red with anger, veins popping out all over. We've seen Eccleston do comedy in the series, but this was the first time we saw his out and out anger and I just sat clutching the armrests of my chair. I jumped as we saw The Doctor's face bending around the Dalek's line of sight. Hartnell smirked, McCoy underplayed, Eccleston boiled over. Billie Piper was at it again too bringing even more dimensions to her work. The moment when we were led to believe the Dalek had killed Rose, even though having seen spoilery clips of later episodes we know she'll still be around, was heart breaking because the histrionics and screams which could have greeted her end are replaced with a quiet seeya to The Doctor.

But it wouldn't have worked if Nick Briggs, in his voice work as the Dalek, hadn't been there giving as good as he got. I've been following Briggs' Daleks for years in the Big Finish audio dramas but I haven't witnessed anything like the performance he gave tonight. In the diary in this month's Doctor Who magazine, he talked about how he was asked to loosen his intonation slightly and he comments that he'd been wanting to do that for years (perhaps constrained before by expectation). It really showed. This Dalek had an emotional range which made it even creepier -- as it tricked Rose into caring for it to the extent that she would touch and reinvigorate -- with that quiet whisper. Terrifying.

Much like The Unquiet Dead the episode benefited from having a small number of humans. It's tricky for the main guest cast to make an impression in circumstances such as this, but Corey Johnson's Henry van Statten had just the right level of smarm, Anna-Louise Plowman (who was previously in the Stargate tv series) oozed charisma and Bruno Langley had to just the right amount of charm without you wanting to throttle him. I like that he'll be travelling to another adventure -- he's a good counterpoint to the now slightly darker Doctor. Also want to mention Jana Carpenter who I think was the guard on the stairs who stood her ground against the Dalek -- along with Beccy Armory who played Raffalo the plumber in the second episode its an example of someone really making you care in only a few moments of screen time.

But again, to demonstrate what an intricate jigsaw this episode was, none of their work might have been as good had Rob Shearman not produced another gem. I'd thought it would be a more traditional work than Big Finish's Chimes At Midnight and particularly Scherzo. So it was with all the action and chase sequences. But there was still something else going on. You have an episode with a Dalek. What to do with it. I mean you could just drop it in a city and letting it go on a killing spree, and that might be exciting and scary (and expensive) but what would be the point we'd need to do something new. And as has been the case with this new series and Shearman's past work it was bound to subvert expectations.

They've invaded Earth, the universe and time on countless occasions. We've seen their beginning and now and then their ultimate end. What next? Make us care for them. Actually make them the wounded and The Doctor the aggressor, wanting their ultimate destruction. No crouching on the floor with two wires debating whether they should be destroyed. They just needed to die at all costs, the hero standing almost over one with a giant gun hoping to finish the job of wiping out their race for the final time. And we didn't want him to. Actually the Daleks have been given feelings before, way back in the Troughton era in The Evil of the Daleks when they were infected with the human factor leading to them inploding in on themselves in a civil war. Then it was a cool way of ending the adventure in some excitement. We never heard of that faction again (give or take a comic strip).

The programme makers knew that if you gave them feelings it took away the one thing which made them different. That they just wanted to kill everything else. Watching tonight I was reminded of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode I, Borg in which that series' version of the unstoppable killing machine was drawn away from its kind, spent time with humans and started to question its purpose. In that series it had the ultimate effect of weakening the foe for years afterward, because we knew that under their organo-metal exterior they still had the capacity to care. And even when it returned to its own kind there was that little wink at the end that it had taken the experience with it. They became too human.

Doctor Who didn't make that mistake. The Dalek might have absorbed some of Rose's DNA and was beginning to have new ideas, thoughts and feelings but it didn't know what to do with them. It could have gone either way and made it even better at its job. Instead it just wanted to die. And there it went, imploding in on itself. But we know its just that Dalek and no matter what The Doctor says it was the last of them, in our heart of hearts we know they'll back, and judging by all the flying, plungering and electricuting, deadlier and scarier than they've ever been.

Some will question whether its right that our hero would go on the offensive in that way -- all of the jellybabies and telling Leela to put away her knife out the window. But we've seen this kind of thing already this series from this incarnation with anti-plastic, withholding moisturizer, gas explosions and hunking great missiles. What people probably won't like is how direct it is, in a moment when the enemy is already effectively defeated. Which is an idea entirely inkeeping with Shearman's canon -- the deconstruction of what we know -- in previous cases through the restructuring of story, this time the audiences reaction to a Doctor who becomes an anti-hero bent on revenge.

The jigsaw continues with Joe Aherne's direction. His vampire series Ultraviolet was one of the best looking and written genre series of the past twenty years so I was delighted to hear he was directing some Who. In television series like this, it's less easy to see the individual contributions of the director, editor, photographer and producer. But for me this show seemed to flow much better than the rest. It had a fairly linear story, certainly, but the pacing seemed perfect, and it didn't throw in a camera angle to be flashy. Everything seemed in service of the story. I'd include in this Murray Gold's score which demonstrated what he is capable of, pulling back when he needed to in a very Howard Shore way.

But, finally what of the realisation of the Dalek? Considering the horror stories in the past of Spider-Daleks and humanoids I was amazed and overjoyed at actually how respectful this design is. There is something of the Battle-Dalek from their last tv appearance about it, all gleaming metal. The rationalising of the sink plunger as part of its killing armoury worked very well, as did it's new approach to the electronic keypad. The CG effects really demonstrated how far tv has come, especially as the exterminated not only went negative but also transparant, shocks flying through skeleton.

After the disappointment of the film version of The HitchHiker's Guide To The Galaxy, I feel blessed that my actual favourite franchise is being rendered so perfecting in the next century. It took that familiar jigsaw, all of the icons of the series, and cut its own pieces out to fit. Our perception of The Doctor and those Daleks will never be the same again, and that's an extraordinary thing.

[Originally written, as you can see, on the night of broadcast. I was giddy.]

disastrous in the context of World War Three

TV God, I hate the Slitheen. I hated them on first appearance and I’ve hated them in every single revisionist attempt to turn them into a decent foe for the Doctor and his friends, on The Sarah Jane Adventures, in novels, comic strips. Even revisionist efforts like bringing in different but similar families like the Blathereen hasn’t helped much either.  Each and every time, they’ve been about as menacing as the actor hired to play their skin suit is capable of, but at soon at the giant floppy puppet lumbers into view they become symbolic of the short hand that comedians of a nineties vintage used to disparage the franchise, that it’s just about cheap looking rubber green aliens. Especially since the Slitheen are basically killable through a variation of precisely the kind of method later parodied by Ricky Gervais.

They’re especially disastrous in the context of World War Three which is supposed to be the first big global alien invasion story, the nu-Who equivalent of Dalek Invasion of Earth. While there is an intellectual argument to be had about whether their ridiculousness and matter of fact approach to the destruction of the planet’s inhabitants adds to their evil, outside of the context of a human form they’re just not scary, icky perhaps, but not scary, mostly funny too whenever they explode.  The massive zip affair doesn’t help much, something Julie Gardener picked up on as a mistake as early as the dvd commentary (though trying be ever so diplomatic about it bless her) or the inter-cutting with the rather more agile CGI versions.

Otherwise the episode is a rather clever twist on the base under siege genre of story in that special forces don’t know that the base is under siege and the Doctor has to save the day from within a locked room. The situation is somewhat similar to the later Tooth & Claw, but whereas with a wolf slathering on the other side of the door their main weapon was books, a library, everything here is from the Doctor’s intellect and the deductive reasoning of his companions. If you were being unfair, you could unfavourably compare Euros Lyn’s kinetic shooting of Tenth’s thought processes with the side on shots and bits of steady-cam Keith Boak affords Ninth as he narrows things down, yet Boak does manage to drags things back a bit at the close with the iconic shot of Eccleston gleefully realising the planet of origin.

It’s in these scenes as Eccleston jumps from goofy comedy to poignancy to the horror of knowing that in smacking a missile at the room he’s standing in he could be allowing Rose’s mother to listen to the death of her daughter, that us Eighth Doctor fans should probably consider ourselves a bit spoilt in comparison to Ninethers. True, our hero only received an hour of screen time, but we’ve dozens of novels and comics to read and ongoing audio adventures. Once Ninth left the screen, the merchandising teat stopped giving. Beyond the thirteen television episodes, the Tardis Index Files lists just six novels, four short stories and five comic strips and few cameos here and there. Post-The Christmas Invasion, a different face was appearing on book covers.

Why aren’t we able to buy new adventures featuring the Ninth Doctor? The “classic” Doctors are more visible now than they’ve ever been, and there’s enough good Tenth merch around to still be catching up even though he too has been rested in The Eleventh Hour. Even Hartnell is being serviced by Big Finish when the Eccleston version is lost. Essentially, since Big Finish are only licensed to cover the classic series and AudioGo and BBC Books are always focused on the present incumbent anyone desperate for some Ninth/Rose action are stuck rereading The Clockwise Man for the umpteenth time, which is a shame considering he was the most innovative version of the character and there must surely be enough publicity shots knocking around.

Or rewatching World War Three. The closing scene, opening as the Doctor hands Mickey the virus and offers to take him away from the Powell Estate only to be rebuffed is one of my favourite in Ninth’s whole era. Noel Clarke has clearly realised the understated approach which works best for Mickey and the mutual understanding between the characters is beautifully played. It’s the kind of non-plot character based scenes which found itself cut out in the last season – reminds me of the infamous marriage chat that didn’t appear in The Hungry Earth. As this next series seems to be tilting towards the “big revelations” model of storytelling, I do hope they continue to remember that often the quietest moments are the most affecting.

" the drive was not working"

Technology Magical Hard-Drive:
"A couple of days ago a customer has brought a broken 500Gb USB-drive that he had bought in a Chinese store across the river, for an insanely low price. But the drive was not working: if you, say, save a movie onto the drive, playing the saved movie back resulted in replaying just the last 5 minutes of the film."
The reason why is ingenius, if also useless.

Sorry if you're one of the three million people who've already seen this ...