It is not once nor twice but times without number that the same ideas make their appearance in the world.
Or (if you want to be all obvious about it)
Don’t do your good deeds when there’s no-one watching you.
- Tom Lehrer
Me: Well, that was the, vastly time shifted, The Caretaker. We’ve just finished watching it and-
Him: Why was it ‘vastly time shifted’?
Me: Because it was on later anyway, apparently because of Strictly Come Dancing, which doesn’t affect you if you’re watching it on iPlayer, just means it doesn’t turn up until twenty past nine rather than… when it usually did. It’s coming up for twenty to eleven now, so that’s pretty late for both of us.1 We’d better rush through a couple of these things I’ve scribbled down.
(Pause. Shuffle shuffle.)
I think the theme’s been remixed again. I’m sure they keep changing it.
Him: I think you’re mental.2
Me: Okay. Jane Austen. Must we? Must we really? Do we have to?
Him: Isn’t she your favourite?
Me: No, she’s not. She’s terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible.3
Him: Interesting word choice there. Normally there are much stronger words used to describe the wonders of Jane Austen.
Me: I know. We’ll leave those for the time being. Her work’s truly wretched. In my opinion. Speaking of that… I’m going to get this out of the way.
In the end he didn’t, but Murray Gold came very close to spoiling The Caretaker for me.
Him: You need to stop blaming Murray Gold because he’s not even there anymore.
Me: I don’t know what that was. Some of it was effective-
Him: It’s not Murray Gold’s fault.
Me: It was really… Some of it was dreadful.
Him: He’s actually getting worse this series, isn’t he?
Him: And you loved him in the first four.
Me: Well, yeah. Back before it became maths and Promsbait. Tonight was like… Like it had the musical themes from Gremlins running through it. Which would be alright but… Not as audio description. Like a cartoon. I did find some of the scene-changes jumping from one section of Cardiff to another rather distracting. They jumped miles between shots when the Doctor was on the trail. That’s a personal thing.4 So, other than Jane Austen and a request to please, please, please sort the music out – the subtle stuff was so much nicer and more effective – I don’t think I’ve got anything negative to say about The Caretaker.
Him: I’m sure you do. You’ll think of something.
Me: I think it’s the best thing Gareth Roberts has written for the series.
Him: Who’s he?
Me: He’s the writer of The Caretaker. Along with Steven Moffat.
Him: Yeah, but what else has he done? You have to explain these things further. Especially since I’m a figment of your imagination-
Me: No! NO!
Him: -designed to further improve any statements you will or make.
Me: Ha! And I’ve got to type that up, have I?
Him: It’s you that’s saying it. In a completely different voice.
Me: Right, okay.
Him: I’m not real, I’m simply a figment of your imagination designed to further emphasise your thoughts and feelings.
Me: But how do I know that?
Him: You don’t know that. Other people have realised this.
Me: So this is all just one chap ranting to himself?
Him: That’s exactly what you’re doing. And what I’m doing.
Me: Gareth Roberts wrote The Shakespeare Code, which was based on a comic strip he wrote for Doctor Who Magazine. Then he wrote The Unicorn and the Wasp, then co-wrote Planet of the Dead. Then… The Lodger, which was based on a comic strip he wrote for Doctor Who Magazine.
Him: He wrote that strip?
Me: Yeah. It was changed for the screen, because in the strip it was-
Him: You preferred it when it was with Mickey.
Me: They still don’t count. In The Lodger, the Doctor has to pretend to be a human in order to-
Him: Save the world from an alien that no-one else knows is there.
Me: That’s right. And then, in Closing Time-
Him: The Doctor’s got to pretend to be human in order to save the world from aliens that no-one else knows are there.
Me: Yeah, that’s right. And then in The Caretaker-
Him: The Doctor’s got to pretend to be human in order to save the world from a robot.
Me: An alien robot. Which no-one else knows is there.6
Him: Well, in The Lodger it’s a warning protocol. And then, in Closing Time, it’s alien cyborg people, who aren’t aliens but kind of are.
Him: And then in The Caretaker, it’s an alien robot. So, none of the times is it an alien.7
Me: I’m still getting notes of pre-Genesis Terry Nation Dalek scripts here. Did you notice that in The Lodger, the alien menace is defeated by love?
Me: And in Closing Time, the alien menace is… um…
Him: Defeated… by love.
Me: And then, in The Caretaker, the alien menace is…
Him: Defeated by a somersault.
Me: Yeah! Wasn’t that good? And it had nothing to do with love at all. Even though the word ‘love’ was mentioned for the first time in a while and… Okay. In fact, love of different types. Which is interesting because that brings us back to the Greeks, but we won’t go into that at the moment.
Him: The Greeks! Why are we always talking about the Greeks?
Me: One thing I wanted to mention quickly. “Shut him up or shut him down, I don’t care which.” Remember when the Doctor said that to Clara about Danny?
Me: Remember The Power of the Daleks? I think he said something similar to Lesterson in that. “Up or down, I don’t care. Just destroy them.” I think that’s the line. It’s just an excuse for me to put a link to The Power of the Daleks, one of the greatest Doctor Who stories ever. Okay, was it Adrian? The teacher who dressed a bit like Matt Smith?
Him: Goodness knows.
Me: It was only after the scenes where that character got the Doctor’s approval, that I noticed how much the caretaker’s jacket reminded me of the coat David Tennant wore.
Him: Ha! And what about the shirt that seemed to be made from space?
Me: I love that jumper. He was wearing it in Listen. It’s lovely. Rev pointed out that that’s Peter Capaldi’s own jumper. Okay… There wasn’t a reference to Barbara, unfortunately. The odd otter agenda continues. It’s been threaded through Steven Moffat’s run.
Him: I like otters.
Me: And you noticed the Doctor humming – no, whistling?
Me: Go on…
Him: Doo doo doo doo, doo dee doo doo.
Me: Well, that’s going to look great typed.
Him: Doo doo DOO doo.
Me: Alright, it’s Another Brick in the Wall Part Deux. Apart from Arnold Layne, the only hit single the Pink Floyd ever really had.
Him: Do doo doo doo doo, doodoo doo.
Me: What did you think of the Scovox Blitzer?
Him: Well, for the purpose of emphasising your point, I’m going to answer this in the form of a question.
Him: What did you think of it?
Me: It reminded me of the M.A.R.K. 13 from a film by Richard Stanley called Hardware, also starring Carl McCoy from Fields of the Nephilim. That gives me another chance to mention Fields of the Nephilim here because Richard Stanley directed a couple of their early videos, Preacher Man and Blue Water, as well as being involved with their last live DVD. The M.A.R.K. 13 itself was… 2000AD took umbrage due to a similarity in storylines to, I think, a Future Shock – which ties in with Time Heist. Nah, I just wanted an excuse to mention Richard Stanley and Fields of the Nephilim.
Him: You don’t think it looked like a spider with the face of a catwolf?
Me: No, but I liked the way it moved.
Me: Yeah. What did you think of Courtney?
Him: Well, for the sake of further emphasis-
Him: What did you think of Disruptive Influence?
Me: She’s so much better than Angie. I like the way she’s been gently built up in the background. And the vomiting! She’s an interesting character. And the parent’s evening scene trod, just, the right side of comedy and they got away with it largely- It’s not hurt by the fact that Jenna Coleman and Samuel Anderson are so likeable and their performances are really good. You know when Danny does the somersault?
Me: I was thinking, “Is that the sort of thing that Harry Sullivan was supposed to be doing?”
Me: Well, they thought they were going to be having an older Doctor, so Harry would’ve done all the stunty stuff.
Him: Well, Tom Baker didn’t do anything-
Me: Tom Baker was much younger than they’d planned on casting.
Him: He also didn’t do any somersaults, despite being much younger.
Me: Not after that incident with the collarbone during The Sontaran Experiment.8
Him: Tell us this story.
Me: Trust me, anyone reading this already knows it. I thought there were some really good shots in The Caretaker. Some great cinematography. The bit where the Scovox Blitzer’s starting to return and that chair comes sliding up to the screen… I still think we’re building towards a character’s doom, that’s definitely happening. There was foreshadowing aplenty throughout. When Danny makes Clara promise to tell him if the Doctor makes her do something-
Him: “If he ever pushes you too hard.”
Me: Yeah, so what we’re looking at is when that happens and Clara doesn’t tell Danny. It’s not just Clara that’s making mistakes – I’ve said this before – the Doctor’s getting it wrong all the time. Courtney shouldn’t be in the TARDIS.
Him: That’s because he’s given up trying to…
Me: It’s a very dangerous thing the Doctor’s doing. He’s not listening, he’s not paying attention and someone’s going to get hurt, or lose an eye or something. I’ve started delving into Socrates,9 the themes and forms of Greek tragedy and the Aristotelian term ‘hamartia’, which I’m probably pronouncing wrong. I genuinely think this is what’s going on here. Moffat’s created something phenomenal and he’s getting a writing credit on these episodes because he’s plotted a course. Did you enjoy The Caretaker?
Him: Well, for the sake-
Me: No, seriously. Did you enjoy it?
Him: -of emphasising any points that you will or make, I’m going to ask you if you enjoyed The Caretaker.
Me: I did. I thought it was great.
Him: Bah! You haven’t hated any of them so far, have you?
Me: No. Not even Robot of Sherwood. Almost everyone involved – it seems to me – is bringing their best to it every week. Apart from Murray Gold.
Him: Who was doing better.
Me: Who was doing a lot better, but who’s now falling back into old habits and started digging a hole. I really feel like we’re heading for another Simpson/Horns of Nimon interface type affair, and it’s time someone buys him a lovely meal and then asks him to leave.
Him: What’s that got to do with The Horns of Nimon?
Me: Dudley Simpson got given his marching orders after that one.11 John Nathan-Turner took him for dinner and then that was that. Having said that, Dudley Simpson had been contributing to the series since, what, ’64? Sixteen years.
Him: So, maybe we’ll have Murray Gold for the next seven years.
Me: Well… Some of his music’s still good, but the fire’s gone out. I’ll be honest, I can’t not hear it now.
Him: Neither can I.
Me: I’m tuned in to it. And it really bugs me when it’s… Apart from Listen, which I don’t remember as having had any music, the excess had been toned down for the first four episodes. It’s as though someone’s struck a bargain and Listen was a one-off granted solely on the condition it was business as usual after that. Every time the orchestra start parping out comedy schmaltz, I feel like Ebenezer Blackadder opening the door to Doctor Fendelman and his Enormous Orphans on Christmas Morning: “Oh, surely not another totally unexpected rendition of `God Rest Ye Merry Mr Blackadder'...” It’s just not necessary. Having said that, some of the music in The Caretaker was good. I know that, because I didn’t notice it. It’s a shame the balance is wrong- Oh, and the Matt Smith music played over the next time trailer again.
Him: I was too busy noticing the fact that it was Alien.
Him: As were you.
Me: It looks alright. I’m looking forward to it. Are there any you haven’t liked?
Him: Are there any-
Me: I’ve answered that. Oh! There’s a bit we’ve got to talk about. At the end… With the policeman.
Him: Oh, yeah. That bit.
Me: That’s the first time the Nethersphere’s been mentioned; we’ve had Paradise and the Promised Land. It looks quite big. I wonder why Missy was so upset. She looked miffed.
Me: Ha! ‘Miffy’!
Him: Wasn’t that a rabbit?
Me: Miffy was, yeah. And Seb was-
Him: What happened to Miffy?
Me: I… don’t know.
Him: Doesn’t Miffy lose a doll and then… die?
Me: I think Miffy died. Wasn’t there a final book?
Him: No, no, no! That’s the cat! That’s Mog.
Him: Mog’s the one that dies, then the family get a new cat, and the new cat sees the ghost of Mog. Mog’s horrified that there’s a new cat in the house instead, but then the ghost of Mog realises that the new cat is what’s keeping the family happy and-
Me: Are you trying to make me blub?
Him: No, that’s the story.
Me: ‘Death of Mog’.
Him: I forget what the final book’s called. There’s ‘Mog and the Foxes’,12 ‘Mog and the Egg’ and I think this one’s called ‘Mog Snuffs It’.
Him: I don’t remember how Mog dies.
Me: Old age, isn’t it?
Him: No, I think Mog gets very sick.
Him: Yeah. Then, instead of telling the children that Mog’s gone off to live with-
Me: On a farm. In paradise.
Him: -Crazy Miss Glubberknwtcz on a farm.
Him: Why not? I bet you spell that wrong when you type it.
Me: Double ‘b’?
Me: Otherwise it’d be ‘Gluberknwtcz’.
Him: It’s the ‘knwtcz’ bit you’ll spell wrong.
Him: You’re so foolish. There’s a ‘k’ in there.
Me: Oh, right, sorry. Silent ‘k’.
Him: And there’s a ‘w’ after the ‘n’.
Me: Welsh is it?
Him: It’s mostly German. “Glubberknwtcz”. No-one ever pronounces it right.
Me: Anyway, talking of Missy. She started following us on Twitter…
Him: So, they tell the kids that Mog went to live with Mad Miss Glubberknwtcz, just down the street, and then they get a little ginger cat. And the ghost of Mog realises that this tiny cat is keeping the family happy where Mog can no longer do such a thing. Because she’s dead.
Me: Well, that’s lovely.
Him: I think it’s something to do with the fact that Mog was eating all the eggs. They used to give Mog eggs as a treat and I think that’s what makes her ill. They try and bring her an egg and she’s just lying there in the basket, too ill to eat it.
Me: This is terribly sad.
Him: And the next day the kids come home and they’ve got this new little ginger kitten instead.
Me: That’s quite a swift mourning period then. “Cat’s looking a bit peaky, dear. Better pick up another one just in case.”
Him: Mog died while they were at school, so they got another one.
Me: Right. Moving on. That ending there threw a lot of theories out of the water.
Him: Your ones in particular.13
Me: I didn’t think that Missy was only collecting people who’d sacrificed themselves nobly. And the policeman didn’t.
Him: That’s… correct.
Me: I thought Chris Addison was playing Seb a little oddly.
Him: It didn’t feel like him.
Me: No. It was too… Like I was saying last week when I was complaining about arch performances. We’ll see how it goes, he might get away with it. Did you like the parents’ evening scene?
Him: We haven’t talked about chess.
Me: So, do you reckon Courtney’s actually Fenric? That’s the only reason they’d have a chessboard in there.10
Him: She might end up being a Dalek, giving a reference to Death to the Daleks.
Me: Or whatever that Sylvester McCoy one is that begins with ‘r’. It’s either 'Remembrance', 'Revelation' or 'Regurgitation'.
Him: The Sylvester McCoy one’s ‘Remembrance’.
Me: That whole run of naming everything as ‘Something Arbitrary Beginning With ‘R’ of the Daleks’ still throws me. ‘Remembrance’ would make more sense being the Colin Baker one.
Him: It’s not though.
Him: She’s so doomed.
Me: She is. She’s so doomed. It’s gonna be messy.
Him: There was something I wanted to say. You’ve got the same brain as me, try and remember what it was.
Me: I think that’s everything.
Him: Let’s make remembering noises.
Him: Mmmm… Mrgh!
(None of this means anything.)15
1. That includes the time it takes to download an SD version of a programme as well as the moments spent rewinding to check if that really was The Pink Floyd as well as the missed opportunity to reference Barbara. I guess the Maggot of Patience is gone forever, crushed ‘neath the wheels of technological progress like a sandcastle under a tank.
2. Don’t write in.
3. The Bret Easton Ellis of her day, Austen’s one of the most over-rated authors in the history of literature. I could go into detail but that’s not why you’re here. Sometimes, you only think it’s satirical. Earlier in the year there were rumours that Mark Gatiss was contributing a pseudo-historical to the current run of Doctor Who in which Austen would appear. I’m not sure if Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat were delicately foreshadowing a season nine/series 35 script, but I really hope not. But then, I’m not expecting William Blake to turn up in the forthcoming one named after a line in one of his poems either.
4. Isn’t it all though? What else can it be? Anyone can whip out a thesaurus and some massive smoke-filled bellows and enthusiastically set to fundamentally inflating the ego of an innocent they’ve plucked from the rapidly rising rapids of social media.5 Personally, I’d rather have an opinion.
5. This is a double bluff as I couldn’t really, due to not owning a thesaurus. Horrible things. Wouldn’t have one in the house.
6. We’ll get back to the policeman, don’t you worry.
7. Are we still working on the basis that The Lodger’s full of the Silence then?
8. Not forgetting the nice stunt in The Seeds of Doom. Shame you can’t tell it’s him.
9. It’s been announced this week that there’s going to be a third Bill and Ted. Now, that’s synchronicity for you.10
10. It isn’t.
11. No, Shada doesn’t count. Bonus marks for the Gareth Roberts connection though.
12. Could this be a hidden reference to Episode 8? More synchronicity?10
13. Seb and Missy appearing together doesn’t scupper as many of mine as you’d think. We’ve had multi-Doctor stories before, so why not one with a character who meddles in time?14
14. blah blah blah it’s the Master blah blah
15. Any questions?