Frenzied Poets and Sober Men.

Books Although I chose his as one of my books of the 2010s there was always a chapter outstanding, "Frenzied Poets and Sober Men" a pub crawl, which for someone who doesn't drink and can only have decaff coffee anyway was always going to be a bit useless. Bereft of company in the end and not wanting to leave a project uncompleted, yesterday morning I crisscrossed the city centre visiting all of the drinking houses chosen by the author.  Incredibly he ignores the Ship and Mitre, The Excelsior and The Cavern.

Only a couple were open.  About half way through I stopped into The Poste House on Stanley Street which was one of my Dad's haunts back when he was working, mostly famous for apparently being Hitler's local when he was reputedly in the city.  There's a photo of him on the wall to commemorate this under which I nursed a blackcurrant soda.  Later on, I stepped into the Globe near Clayton Square briefly (no Shakespeare connection as far as I can tell).  For once, no one was singing, which is rare.  I did not stay.

We Didn't Start The Time Lords.

TV No, it was one of the Shabogans apparently.  I've seen a few people on social media wondering who all of the people who were in the Doctor's memory blipvert in The Timeless Children so as a public service, here they all are.

The Eleventh Book I've Read This Year.

Books If Black Panther was a window into how colonialism obliterated the artistic and scientific achievements of a whole continent (and indeed the world), Don't Touch My Hair is the whole house.  As a middle aged white man I'm well aware of my privilege and also the guilt of being part of a cultural group which subjugated others for centuries.  But at no point did I consider just how pervasive it is that society expects non-white races to conform to our cultural norms and expectations and how in appropriating elements of black culture, rather than celebrating we're further suppressing it.  Consciousness raising.

The Coffee Collection:
Leaf Smithdown, Smithdown Road, Liverpool.

The Chibnall Masterplan.

TV Evening. Well, that was, as the teenagers say these days, a lot, wasn't it?  The social medias are currently split between those of us who thought that was one of the best episodes in years, those who're angry about the revelations and those who say they didn't understand a word of it (which is frankly bizarre).  That is absolutely fine and how it should be.  It's rare that an episode stacked up with more retcon than Gwen Cooper after visiting the Torchwood Hub for the first time isn't going to be divisive especially when it's designed as this is to be a continuity generating machine.  But I'm in danger of writing a review here so I'd best move on.

With tonight's episode, Chris Chibnall finally seemed like he'd realised why he wanted to be show runner in the first place.  In this franchise of multitudes, Doctor Who is at its best when its allowing its authors to transform it into whatever they want it to be or what they think it should be, for better or worse.  Up until now, one of the problems with his version of the show is that it's lacked an identity beyond not being what the other fellas have done.  It's lacked a proper authorial voice and although we've had hints of it this series (which has led to an upturn in quality overall) it's not until tonight that it finally reached its apogee.

The Brain of Morbius would have been broadcast when ickle Chris was about five or six.  Perhaps he watched it and if he did perhaps the famous scene of the Doctor seeing his earlier incarnations imprinted on his own brain.  Or perhaps he caught up with it later on VHS or DVD, at the forefront of his mind even when he was facing down Pip and Jane and Patty Caldwell.  The lack of a satisfactory explanation which didn't contravene established continuity gnawed at him, the notion that these were in fact earlier incarnations of the Gallifreyan war criminal for one thing not matching the intentions of the production team under Hinchcliffe.

Let's face it, given the choice, what else would you do if you were made show runner of your favourite TV show than use your power to tie up a continuity loose end from forty-four years ago?  Not only that, not just to imply it, but to actually have sodding footage of the event in all of its upscaled standard definition videotape glory splattered across your super high definition frame as part of a montage sequence that blipverts all of the show's history in seconds and frames which are sure to be poured over for the days and weeks to come?  Of everything CC has offered up in this past couple of series, this feels like the work of someone who's finally let themselves off the leash for better or worse.

All of which said, I really didn't think that while Chibnall was freebasing in Doctor Who's history that so much of what was put up on screen tonight would match my own doodlings from a few weeks ago.  That the Doctor had indeed been sent on missions and at the end of all that her memory had been wiped and she'd been turned back into a Time Tot.  Of course, with my limited imagination I assumed she'd had a whole previous single regenerative cycle although I reserve judgement on why the Jo Martin incarnation had a police box.  I'm still quite attached to the idea that it was the machine trying to get her to remember these past lives, perhaps attempting to ease her into the trauma.

Where does The Timeless Children leave us now in terms of what we know about the Doctor?  To summarise the episode:  The Doctor is an entity which appeared in the Whoniverse (or whatever we're calling it) through a dimensional barrier who became a genetic source for the Time Lords and their ability to regenerate.  She worked for a time in a forerunner to the Celestial Intervention Agency.  Unlike what are now her adopted people, she apparently has an infinite number of regenerations, dozens of which happened before what she and us thought was her first incarnation.  For some reason the past thirteen have been blokes but she had the capability to be either gender before that.

Like I said, a lot.  Surprisingly none of this breaks canon, especially in the spin-off media where there have been multiple proposed origins anyway all of which has been explained in novels like Unnatural History and The Blue Angel as being a result of the Doctor's "biodata" having been manipulated by the likes of Omega and the Faction Paradox.  Chibnall's new burst of incarnations also potentially explains the extra photographs inserted onto the walls of  Clive's shed in Russell T Davies's Target adaptation of Rose featuring the likes of "a tall, black female Doctor who used a flaming sword and a young Doctor of indeterminate gender in a hi-tech wheelchair."  If we want.

There's also the business of "the Other" although again nothing in the episode contracts that, with Chibnall's script carefully glossing over the invention of time travel, apparently accomplished (according to the penultimate Virgin New Adventure Lungbarrow) by this entity along with Rassilon and Omega (before he lost his head) (and the rest of his body).  Lord know what Andrew Cartmel made of tonight's episode, although I do have a suspicion that both Steven and especially Russell are having a right old giggle about all of this, given that one of them inserted a new incarnation of the Doctor between some old ones and the other irrevocably destroyed Gallifrey for a second time.

Some breaking news.  "The Brain of Morbius" is trending on Twitter.  Having confirmed all of those guys into the canon, who else can we add?  Sadly, the memory montage didn't go too far off-piste.  But what's to say the Shalka Doctor isn't pre-Hartnell, especially since he was apparently being sent on missions?  How about Merlin?  The version who appears in Jim Mortimer's From Eternity?  Big Finish now has scope to fill boxed sets with new incarnations of the Doctor played by whichever actor they please, with the Audio Visuals version also up for grabs not to mention whatever Bill Baggs was doing.  Mr Magorium might as well be canon now.  Not to mention the Cushing version.  For goodness sake.

There's more to be said here, but I want to get back to feeding my Arrowverse addiction.  As is right, apart from the Doctor being trapped in a prison on an asteroid, some things have been left hanging.  It's suggested that she now remembers some of her pre-Hartnell life, but is it all of it?  Does she know now who The Division was and the kinds of work she did for it?  How much will these revelations impact on her going forward?  Will she now want to discover what her actual origins are, try and find her true home planet?  Will she ironically discover that she's the loan survivor of that too?