They appeared in a – what was I saying? Oh yes, they appeared with a bang in the bolder and more ambitious sixth series of Doctor Who. It would take a few years to find out who these all too familiar aliens were. The mid-point of the Eleventh Whovember looks at the appearance of the Silents in Doctor Who…
THE FIRST PART OF THIS WHOVEMBER #11 LOOKED AT THE SILENCE THAT QUIETLY HOUNDED THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR’S TENURE. BUT THAT’S ONLY HALF THE MYSTERY. To uncover the rest you need to go singular. Yes the Silents, who first appeared in the Sixth series opener and went on to stage a number of invasions, and difficult sentences, until the fall of the Eleventh. They don’t appear in every episode of the Silence arc, but their presence was felt earlier than it appeared:
These mysterious, lanky monsters in their sharp suits, all memory clouding and random electricity, could be called a classic Moffat creation. Horrific, scary and with a special monsterish twist. They may look like typical Grey aliens, but you won’t remember them when you turn away. From the lofty view-point of the Twelfth Doctor it seems that the Silents’ story has definitively ended, possibly in extinction. But you can never say never, especially if you can’t remember it. There was always the risk they could be a one-trick pony; on their short journey much fun was had with their memory-evading powers so perhaps it’s not surprising that their presence was felt before they first appeared…
The Lodger (Series Five, 2010)
Since the first full appearance, there has been countless speculation on the possibility of Silent incursions into Doctor Who throughout the Eleventh Doctor’s life and indeed beyond. And why not? He may have thwarted their countless appearances before his Earth exile in the 1970s (or yes, the 1980s, UNIT pedants), but the Doctor will quite reasonably have encountered them many times during his travels on Earth and beyond. Particularly worth thinking about, are the fog covered streets of the East End in 1963. But, sadly, this is a television show. When a billionaire buys Doctor Who from the BBC, he may take a George Lucas approach to retconning Silents into the classic series (while he seamlessly recreates lost episodes, perfectly recolours the black and whites, and up-scales to 3d). But until then, the Silents must be viewed in their specific time. Yes, Amy and River both gasp and stare while uttering non-sequiturs during Series Five, but that’s not necessarily anything to do with the Silents. It’s some kind of web-felled, self-perpetuating retconning – something Moffat’s show-running lends itself to perfectly. But considering some of the clear logic breaks in the Silence arc, it’s difficult to believe that such things could be planned enough in advance. I’d certainly swap them for clearing up some other points of the arc. No, the lanky aliens don’t enter the universe until The Impossible Astronaut, opening Series Six.
Except, that’s not true. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Silents I – “You should kill us all on sight” (Whovember #11 Sigma)”
It was the interminable, twisting arc that spun from the birth to the death of the Eleventh Doctor… Stay tuned for a Whovember look at the Greys of the Whoniverse, those oh so forgettable Silents themselves. Er, those oh so forgettable Silents themselves. But first… Comes a look at the quiet when they weren’t around: The Silence that constantly threatened to fall on number Eleven…
JUST HOURS AFTER ONE OF HIS MOST EXPLOSIVE REGENERATIONS, THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR WAS EAR TO THE WALL, SONIC RAISED TO A CRACK IN THE PLASTER THAT WOULD BECOME ALL TOO FAMILIAR. Alright, it wasn’t quite exciting as it sounds – but it was confusing and it was everywhere: it was the Crack/Silence/Silents/River/Melody/Drop-off/ Generation game. But I think it’s safe to say that it finally ended when the Eleventh Doctor died on 25th December 2013. With many-a-head scratched.
He was the longest lived Doctor and he hardly had any respite from the Silence. All his scraps with the Daleks equate to a trip down the shops by comparison, Time War included. In fact, his only break came when he met the Impossible Girl and reintroduced himself to the Great Intelligence (which proved itself to be anything but).
When it came to the Eleventh Whovember, the complexity of this Doctor’s life posed a problem. But then thought Jokerside: Why not split the impossible riddle of the Silence in two: Betwixt the episodes featuring Silence and those featuring the Silents themselves, maybe there’s something interesting to find… And yes, she may glance on and off it, but that means the River Song arc is secondary.
First up, it’s all Silence, no Silents:
And it all began where it should, in the beginning…
The Eleventh Hour (Series Five, 2010)
This is a fairy tale and it’s glorious
You know, The Eleventh Hour might still be show runner Steven Moffat’s finest hour…. And that’s quite understandable considering it’s the one story he must have been writing for decades (and is tellingly on record as saying it’s the most difficult script he’s ever written). Sadly, little of the brilliance of this Smith opener was carried through Series Five. Second episode The Beast Below, despite intentions strong enough to form the basis for the Doctor Who Experience in London then Cardiff, managed to slow this new Doctor in his tracks and set an all too dreary direction for the majority of the series. Oh, there’s plenty to enjoy in those 13 episodes, but its washed out colour and change for change’s sake is a difficult adjustment after the pinnacle of the Davies, Gardner and Collinson years in Series Four. Although for the best part of an hour on 3 April 2010 you wouldn’t have guessed…
Continue reading “Doctor Who: Silence – “Fooling you twice the same way” (Whovember #11 Alpha)”
New Whovember continues. The second of two Tenth Doctor retrospectives looking at the strangely linked world of his celebrity historicals. As the knocks tolled for this Doctor it was clear that he still had a thing for Royals. But would we ever find out what?
IN THE FIRST PART OF THIS RETROSPECTIVE WE VISITED THE SECOND AND THIRD SERIES OF NEW WHO – TACKLING WEREWOLVES, FIREPLACES AND BARDS. When Martha left, halfway through the Tenth’s chronological tour of duty, there was no way that trips to the celebrated past would leave with her. Series Four presented two historic adventures, both with celebrities of sorts and both landing in the top half of that year’s most viewed. While they proved to be excellent farewells to the Russell T Davies era of historical adventures but they left some plot strands… Although the Eleventh Doctor may have upped the stakes with Marilyn Monroe and River Song, the riddle of Queen Bess was asking for a conclusion. And what better time than the Doctor’s Golden anniversary?
In this installment a look at:
A mixed bag of Fire, Myth and gold. But are there any other patterns? “No, no, don’t do that…”
The Fires of Pompeii (Series Four, 2008)
Capaldi isn’t alone…
Series four still sticks out in the run of New Who. It’s resplendent, with only Series Eight matching its appearance. The fifth series would take a strange decision to mute the colour palette and it would take some time to return to this sheer variety. Companion-wise, initial disappointment that Donna reneged on her excellent choice not to join the Doctor gives way to undoubtedly the best character development seen in the show. And yet, it never quite hits the high-points of Series 3 despite serving up two celebrity histories.
Again, The Fires of Pompeii ramps up the production quality with astonishing set design thanks to BBC co-production Rome. Ancient Rome on Doctor Who once again, except it isn’t – it’s Pompeii and “it’s volcano Day”. Once again this is the first main trip for the Doctor’s companion and a rough ride of conscience and choice awaits. It may be the weakest grasp at celebrity, but its warranted. Lucius Caecilius Lucundus’s house still stands in Pompeii. And with the actor portraying him latterly rising to the rank of Time Lord it’s got to be a cert. Capaldi isn’t alone, sitting in a fine cast that also features Phil Davis, Phil Cornwall and Phil ‘The Power of Kroll’ Taylor. I might have made one of those up. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Celebrity Histories – “I’m Going to be King. Run!” (Whovember #10 Omega)”
New Whovember continues with the first of two Tenth Doctor retrospectives. To begin, the strangely linked world of celebrity historical that prove, if nothing else, that there are few people the Tenth Doctor likes to hang around with more than Royals.
IT’S NOT EASY TO FORGET THAT THE DOCTOR’S FIRST ADVENTURE TOOK HIM BACK TO THE DAWN OF HUMANITY, BUT THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF TIME VORTEX UNDER THE BRIDGE SINCE THEN. When it returned in 2005 the new series established a formula it’s virtually kept to of kicking off each series in the present day, then speeding forward in time before dipping back into the past for the third episode. While purely historical adventures may not have existed in the show since the early-1980s, the successful return has shown that they remain a crucial part of the show. Indeed, few things sum up the Russell T Davies era of New Who like the celebrity history. And as the longest serving Doctor of both Davies’ tenure and New Who it seemed natural to look at the Tenth Doctor’s brushes with the celebrity shoulders of times past…
In this installment a look at:
Broadly, if you’re not royalty of the writing or properly regal kind you’ll have trouble getting in. Things have changed considerably since the Seventh Doctor couldn’t quite place Queen Elizabeth II’s face in Silver Nemesis. But are there any other patterns? “No, no, don’t do that…”
Tooth and Claw (Series Two, 2006)
A Victorian household named Torchwood
Tooth and Claw unmistakably kicks off in the Highlands. The setting for the Second Doctor adventure The Highlanders, where it was ably doubled by Surrey. Here it’s Merthyr’s turn to stand in for the timeless landscape. Timeless that is until… Slow-mo kung fu monks appear to commandeer a Victorian household named Torchwood. It’s a strange but thrilling start to the Tenth Doctor’s first historical, climaxing in a classic cage reveal pre-title cliff-hanger. The clue to cage’s the inhabitant is in the title you know…
Set loose from introducing this incarnation, Davies shows a playful and confident hand. Ian Drury makes an unexpected but welcome appearance aboard a TARDIS heading for 1970s Sheffield while Rose calls the Doctor a big old punk. But amid the fun of a vortex crash and the Doctor’s astute use of his Rhythm Stick, they end up in 1879. The Tenth Doctor’s first historical makes more than a nod to the Second Doctor’s 1966 Scottish outing – the last completely historical serial of any real length – when the Doctor introduces himself as Dr James McCrimmon. That takes in the PhD the Second Doctor once established that he’d earned and as a cover it gives David Tennant the chance to use his own accent (and then when Rose matches him, start the “Don’t do that” trope that will become very familiar). It’s fun but it’s also a sign that things are about to become a little too coincidental. The auspicious bump into Queen Victoria send the TARDIS crew into a tale of werewolves, long laid plans of revenge and assassination set mostly on the Torchwood Estate. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Celebrity Histories – “Stepped through in either direction” (Whovember #10 Alpha)”