Steven Moffat writes new Doctor Who story for Jodie Whittaker

Former showrunner Steven Moffat has returned with a new story for current Doctor, Jodie Whittaker. The story is full of Moffat’s well known witticisms and features Easter eggs hinting at other adventures (another well known Moffatism). It’s just the thing to tide you over until Doctor Who returns to BBC One in late 2020/early 2021.

The Terror Of The Umpty Ums

The reeking flesh mass was silent for a moment before twisting and stretching its upper, frontal skin lumps into a new configuration. Karpagnon’s visual circuits processed and pattern-matched the configuration within two nano-seconds: apparently the human was smiling. Karpagnon considered for a moment and elected not to retaliate.

“Did you hear me?” emitted the Human from its flapped aperture. “Did you understand? Do you understand what I’m saying?” The encoded sound stream was accompanied by a fresh flow of smells also emanating from the aperture. Karpagnon’s sensory filter began processing the new odours, while his tactical monitor noted that they were unlikely to be directly significant to the Human’s communication. The light spray of moisture was similarly dismissed. “I’ll be back tomorrow morning. Dr. Johnson and Dr. Ahmed will be here too. Do you remember them?”

No explicit threat detected, noted the Tactical Monitor, while the Strategic Oversight Junction added that an implied, non-explicit threat was still possible – but then the Strategic Oversight Junction was like that. Beef and onions advised the Sensory Filter.

Karpagnon scanned the habitation box again, but there was no new information of tactical value. There was the little bed (which he had to pretend to sleep in) the window (which was barred) and the door (which was open at the moment.) His scan ended on the Human (Dr. Petrie proffered a Context Activated memory bubble) who was sitting on the chair by the bed and clearly expecting a reply. Karpagnon sifted among the options presented by his various Diplomatic Interface Modules and selected appropriately. “Yes,” he said, “I received and understood your communication and I remember Dr. Johnson and Dr. Ahmed. I shall destroy your world and all who breed here in fire and anguish. I hope you enjoyed your beef and onions.”

“I’ll be seeing you then,” said Dr. Petrie, and rose to go. “I shall eviscerate you at the first opportunity,” replied Karpagnon. “Good night.”

As Dr. Petrie moved to the door, the Tactical Monitor advised: escape must be initiated in 2.7 hours in full darkness.

The Strategic Oversight Junction further advised: all humans in the installation should be destroyed before departure. The human designated as Dr. Petrie is the priority target.

The Sensory Filter noted: the sweat gland emissions from the human designated as Dr. Petrie reveals significant adrenal content. This indicates Dr. Petrie has a fear reaction in the upper quartile.

“And a big bottom,” added another voice.

… If Karpagnon could have frowned, he would have. Where did that come from? He did a quick internal scan but couldn’t source the unexpected data stream.

“I mean you wouldn’t expect it from the front, but then he turns round and boom!”

“Identify untagged data stream!” demanded Karpagnon.

“I mean, size of that thing! Could take your eye out.”

“Identify untagged data stream!” repeated Karpagnon.

No untagged data stream detected replied the Internal Data Relay Monitor.

Karpagnon considered for a moment. The additional stress of maintaining his holographic shell (currently projecting an image of a 12-year-old boy called David) could conceivably be causing glitches in the logic junctions. Perhaps it was no more than that. A temporary shutdown would fix the problem, and in any event it would be wise to refresh his systems before the escape.

For appearance’s sake, Karpagnon swung his legs round so that he could lie down on the bed and switched his hologram eyes to the closed position. As he lay there, he listened to his internal relays shutting down one by one.

Tactical Monitor going off-line.

Strategic Oversight Junction going off-line.

Sensory Filter entering sleep mode.

Internal delay on alert mode only.

For a moment there was only the ticking darkness.

“N’night fam!”

The Karpagnon awoke. 2.7 hours had passed according to his chrono-register. He swiveled his head to look at the window and confirmed that darkness had fallen, then got up from the bed and checked his hologram status in the mirror. The shell was holding. He waited a moment, allowing his systems to come on line. As usual the Tactical Monitor was first.

Recommendation. Human casualties to be avoided during escape. Karpagnon notices his hologram shell was frowning in the mirror- which was odd because he didn’t know it could do that. “Sorry, could you repeat your last recommendation?”

Human casualties to be avoided during escape repeated the Tactical Monitor.

In the mirror the hologram shell was looking positively bewildered, which was definitely a new feature. “Why?” asked Karpagnon.

New protocol, replied the Tactical Monitor. Cruelty and cowardice to be avoided. Destruction of humans within this installation now designated as cruel and cowardly.

“What new protocol?” demanded Karpagnon.

“Oops, sorry that was probably me.” It was the voice again – the untagged data stream. But where was it coming from? “I got bored, you see,” the voice continued, “Thought I do a bit of housekeeping, long as I’m here. Love a bit of rewiring, me, and I get bored when I’m asleep. I can’t be doing with all that sleeping, there’s too many planets. What if you sleep and miss a whole planet. Nightmare, yeah?”

“Who are you?” demanded Karpagnon.

“Just a friend, who wants to help. We’re doing an escape, right? I’m top at escaping.”

“I require no assistance,” said Karpagnon. “Strategic Oversight Junction, please run a diagnostic on the Tactical Monitor. There seems to be some kind of interference.”

Karpagnon waited but there was no response. “Strategic Oversight Junction, please run a diagnostic on the Tactical – “

Can’t we at least discuss this? asked the Strategic Oversight Junction, with a new tone in the digital overlay that could only be described as cross. I mean why has it always got to be what you say? What if anyone else has an opinion? Did you ever think about that?

“Oh dear,” said the voice, “My influence, I’m afraid. You see, I do like a flat management structure. Always run one myself – from top to bottom. Obviously I have to be top. No offence to anyone else, it’s just a thing.”

“You are interfering with my systems??”

“Tell you what, I’ll just switch them off, shall I? Then we can get on with escaping.” There was a soft clicking as Karpagnon’s internal systems started shutting down.

“Who are you??” he demanded.

“Shouldn’t we be getting on with it, the escaping? Time to start sneaking downstairs, I think.”

“Who are you and what are you doing in my head?”

“Well who are you and what are you doing in this place?”

Karpagnon was about to refuse to answer the question, when, to his surprise, he found himself answering the question. “I am Karpagnon. A DeathBorg 400, warrior class. I was forged in the weapon groves of Villengard, and I am on a surveillance mission on 21st Century Earth.”

“In a children’s home?”

“The details of my assignment are forbidden knowledge.”

“Well I better not ask you about it in case you start telling me everything for no particular reason.”

“I am not so compliant,” snarled Karpagnon. But he couldn’t help noticing he had left the room and was now sneaking down the stairs – just as the voice had wanted him to.

“Deathborg 400,” she was saying, “Did they have 399 before you that didn’t work out? It’s not a reassuring number, is it?”

“Who are you?” he asked.

“Oh, Karpagnon, you know who I am. You’ve known all along.”

“Tell me!”

“I’m the Doctor.”

Karpagnon came to a halt four steps from the foot of the stairs. Had he been programmed for any kind of shock he would have been experiencing it now. The Doctor!

“Ooh, look at your memory banks lighting up! Heard of me then?” Heard of her?? “The Ka Faraq Gatri,” replied Karpagnon. “The oncoming storm, the bringer of darkness, the imp of the Pandorica! The final victor of the Time War.”

“A few of my hits. I’m glad you’ve been paying attention.”

“You are known to many as the greatest warrior in the universe.”

“I’m not a warrior, but have it your way.”

“How can you be in my mind?”

“What if I were to tell you, I’m talking to you through an earpiece?”

Karpagnon rapidly processed this intelligence. “How could my defences be breached and an earpiece applied?”

“Wrong question.”

“How could an earpiece rewire my internal logic relays?”

“Still the wrong question.”

Karpagnon reached up to locate the earpiece, but –

“Don’t touch it,” snapped the Doctor. “Touch the earpiece, and this is over. I will not help you.”

“I do not take orders!” thundered Karpagnon – though he couldn’t help noticing he’d lowered his hand. “Why would a DeathBorg 400 need your help?” he protested, in a slightly higher register than he really intended.

 “Because you want to get out of here,” replied the Doctor. “Which is fine by me, because I don’t want a DeathBorg 400 wandering around a children’s home. The front door is 20 feet in front of you, shall we get going?”

“First I must destroy this installation, and all humans within it.”

“It’s not an installation, it’s a children’s home.”

“First I must destroy this children’s home and all the humans within it.”

“Well that seems a bit mean to me, but okay. Better go to the kitchen, yeah?”

“Why the kitchen?”

“It’s where they keep all the burny stuff. You know where the kitchen is, don’t you, Karpagnon?”

“Of course!” Karpagnon descended the rest of the stairs and headed through the shadowed, silent corridors to the kitchen.

“Why are you so afraid of humans?” asked the Doctor.

“I do not fear humans. I despise them.”

“Oh, come on, I’m sitting in your ear, I can see your whole brain. Of course you fear them.”

“I hate all humanity.”

“Yeah, but that’s the point, isn’t it? You hate them. Hate is just fear out loud.”

“I know nothing of fear,” said Karpagnon, as he entered the deserted kitchen.

“Well I know everything. I’d have to, me. What with the Daleks, and the Cybermen, and the Weeping Angels.”

“These creatures are known to me.”

“Of course they are, everyone’s scared of them. And the Sontarans and the Slitheen. And of course, the Umpty Ums.”

Karpagnon scanned his data banks twice. “The … Umpty Ums?”

“Oh, they’re the worst. Nothing scares me like the Umpty Ums.”

“They are unknown to me!”

“Oh, if you know about me, you know about the Umpty Ums. But never mind that now. We’re in the kitchen! What are we actually going to do?”

Karpagon stood in the middle of the large, dark kitchen and found himself reluctant to do anything at all. Finally, he said: “This house must burn.”

“Oh, do you think so? Isn’t that a bit much?”

“This house must burn,” he insisted, louder this time

“All the people will burn too. That’s a bit unfair. There’s a lot of kids here, you know.

“I care nothing for humanity. This house will burn.”

“But the thing is … you don’t really want to do that – do you, Karpagnon?”

Karpagnon scanned his Function Drives. It was true, he was detecting … what was that? Reluctance? Had this strange, prattling woman, who was also the most dangerous warrior in the universe, interfered with his base programming?

“Do you want to know why you’re reluctant, Karpagon?”

“I am not reluctant,” he lied.

“Strategy! That’s all. Proper military strategy. I mean, you’re a DeathBorg 400 on an undercover mission on planet Earth – burning this house down will only draw attention to you.”

Karpagnon considered. “Correct!” he declared.

“So. Here’s a compromise. Instead of burning the house down, why don’t we …… turn the heating up really high!”

“The heating?”

“Yeah. That’ll show ‘em! They’ll be sweating all night, the human fools! Oh, those sheets will de dripping.”

“But I require vengeance,” protested Karpagnon. “Vengeance isn’t turning the heating up.” But he couldn’t help noticing he’d already twisted the heating control dial right up to maximum.

“Well done, Karpagnon! They’ll know better than to mess with you in future. Now let’s get out of here and leave these puny humans to get uncomfortably hot!”

“No!” said Karpagnon.

“Oh, come on! This escape is taking forever. I mean, I like to draw them out a bit, but this is ridiculous.”

“First I must destroy the human known as Dr. Petrie.”

“Oh, okay. If we must, we must. Let’s pop along and destroy Dr. Petrie then. Where would we find him this time of night?”

As usual, Dr. Petrie had been working late in his office. When Karpagnon slipped silently through the door (maximum stealth mode) he saw Petrie sprawled in his chair, with his head hanging over the back. He was snoring so heavily it almost seemed to rattle the tea cup on his desk. Under the tea cup Karpagnon noticed a scatter of papers, mostly with photographs pinned to them. The photographs were all of David – Karpagnon’s hologram disguise.

“Well then, what shall we do with him?” asked the Doctor. “Melt him? Miniaturise him. Random phase his atomic structure? I don’t really know how to do that last one, but it sounds cool.”

Again, Karpagnon found himself reluctant to act. What was wrong with him? He hated Dr. Petrie more than any other living thing – and he hated quite a lot of living things.

“Why do you hate him, Karpagnon?”

Karpagnon hesitated. “He … humiliated me.”

“Oh, I don’t think he meant to. He was trying to help. Remember, he thinks you’re a little boy called David with a dissociative personality disorder. Not a DeathBorg 400 from the weapon groves of Villengard.”

“David is a fiction.”

“Oh, yeah, course he is. I know that. But you see you put so much detail into the disguise. Abandoned by his parents, all those people being so cruel to him … I don’t think Dr. Petrie was humiliating you, I think he was trying to help. He just didn’t know you were a DeathBorg – you must get that a lot.”

“No matter. I will not be pitied, I will have my vengeance. He will be destroyed.”

“Fair enough. Your call. On you go then – melt away.”

But once again Karpagnon found himself strangely reluctant to act.And Dr. Petrie just kept on snoring, louder and louder.

“You know what the problem is,” said the Doctor at last. “It’s strategy again. If you destroy Dr. Petrie, it will draw attention to you. You can’t blow your cover like that. So what we need is another clever compromise.”

“What do you suggest?”

“Well. Instead of boring old destroying him, why don’t we do the one thing human beings really can’t stand? Why don’t you … go with me on this … draw a moustache on him!”

“Drawing a moustache is not proper vengeance,” said the DeathBorg 400 as it reached for a marker pen.

At last the front door stood in front him – unguarded, noted Karpagnon, with grim satisfaction. Freedom was now only inches away.

“What are you waiting for?” said the Doctor in his ear. Karpagon reached for the door handle. Hesitated.

“Don’t worry, it’s quiet out there,” said the Doctor. “No Cybermen or Daleks. Not even a trace of an Umpty Um.”

Karpagnon steeled himself and opened the door. The cold air filled his lungs. The wind rushed in the trees, and distantly there was the sound of traffic. The sky was packed with clouds but the moon peeked through.

“Lungs?” said the Doctor, “what do you mean lungs?”

Karpagnon took another breath. So cold. He found himself shivering.

“How can you have lungs if you’re a DeathBorg 400. DeathBorgs don’t have lungs.”

A cat was slinking along a wall. It glanced at Karpagnon and flicked out of sight. The traffic sighed, and a train rattled, and the wind stirred in his hair.

The Doctor’s voice was gentler now. “Close the door, David. You’ll catch your death.”

“No!” roared the mind of Karpagnon. “No, this shall not be!” He strode out into the night. The concrete was freezing on his bare feet and the wind tugged at his pyjamas. He stumbled to a halt, and found himself rooted to the spot. He wasn’t programmed for terror, but somehow he was feeling it now.

“Come on, David,” said the Doctor. “You understand now, don’t you? I know you do!”

“Cease your words of lies!” cried Karpagnon.

“If you’re tired of my words, David, why don’t you take out the earpiece.

David reached to his ear. Then he tried the other ear. “There is no earpiece.”

“More to the point, there are ears. Why would a DeathBorg have ears, David? A DeathBorg with ears and lungs? What kind of cyborg are is that?”

“But I hear your voice.”

“I’m not in your ear, David. I’m in your head. And you’re not a DeathBorg, you are a little boy called David Karpagnon and it is way past your bedtime.”

“This is not true. You are using your Time Lord powers to disable and corrupt my data systems.”

“No, I’m not. And I couldn’t if I wanted to. Do you know why I couldn’t, David?”

“The Doctor is known to have telepathic skills beyond that of ordinary mortals.”

“Who told you that? How do you know so much about me? Where did you learn it all from?”

“I … “

Kapargnon broke off, as a terrible truth unfolded in his mind.

“I … “

It couldn’t be true. It simply couldn’t. And yet as he stood there in the cold and the dark he saw that it was as true as anything ever could be. He took another breath of the freezing air and said the words out loud. “I watched you on television.”

“Yeah. Great show, isn’t it?”

“Doctor Who.”

“That’s the one. That’s me. But I’m not allowed to call myself that on screen. I don’t know why, it’s a brilliant name.”

“You’re … not real.”

“Well not in the limited sense of real, no. But I kept you straight tonight, didn’t I. I’m real enough for that.”

“You’re a character … in a TV show.”

“Yes, that’s right, I am. But really, I’d like to direct.”

David stood in silence. He barely felt the cold now.

“Do you like the music by the way? Always scares me. Umpty-um umpty-um, umpty-um umpty-um.”

“I don’t understand …”

“Well it’s a scary noise, isn’t it? I always get wound up when I know I’m about to hear it. That’s why I start shouting towards the end of episodes.”

“But how can you be in my head?”

“I go where there are monsters to fight. We’ve been fighting monsters tonight, you and me. You see, that’s the story of the music, I always think. The Umpty-Ums, that’s the noise of the monsters. But then it goes Woo-Hoo. I think the Woo-Hoo is me riding to the rescue.”

“You can’t rescue anyone. You’re just a story.”

“We’re all stories in the end. But do you know what a story is, David? It’s an idea. And do you know what an idea is? It’s a thought so big and so clever it can outlive you. It can fly out of your head, and into other people’s. Like I’m in your head, right now. Keeping you right. Never cruel, never cowardly. Always the Doctor.”

David sighed. He was starting to feel the cold again. He looked back at the house, which suddenly looked so warm.

“It won’t be easy,” said the Doctor. “None of it will be easy, ever. But I’ll always be there.”

David walked back into the house, went up the stairs, and got into bed.

A few hours later David woke up and stared at the ceiling for a while, thinking about things.

“I get very scared sometimes,” he said.

“Woo-hoo,” said the Doctor.

New Doctor Who short story reunites with granddaughter

Yet more fiction has arrived to keep Doctor Who fans company during the coronavirus. This one is from author Pete McTighe (Kerblam!) and reintroduces a long forgotten character to the 13th Doctor.

Doctor Who – “Press Play” by Pete McTighe

The Doctor was feeling lonely. Most of the time, she could suppress those feelings and distract herself by saving a planet, averting a war, or emergency-deep-freezing Krynoid hatchlings. But not today. Today was different.

Today, she sat on the steps of the TARDIS console room, munching her last custard cream, watching the glowing control crystal rise and fall.

Rise and fall.

Rise and fall.

While her space/time machine was in Artron II Recharge Mode, the Doctor couldn’t allow anyone else on board, especially humans – the artron pulses played havoc with their DNA. She guiltily remembered that time with David Bowie, when his left pupil permanently dilated.

The Doctor sighed, savouring her final mouthful of biscuit. Her brain was still working thirteen million to the dozen, in the background, backing up like the biggest and best hard drive in the universe, but it felt dulled and distant. If mardy was an emotion, she was feeling it.

Then the TARDIS beeped. A friendly, quirky little sound she hadn’t heard before. It was like it knew what she was thinking (which of course, it secretly did). Curious, the Doctor scrambled to her feet, and in response a jet of steam hissed out of the console. Projected onto the steam was a line of old Gallifreyan text:

You have one unread message.

“What message??” the Doctor blurted out loud. “Since when did you start taking messages?”

Since ages ago, the TARDIS replied in a petulant series of hums and whistles.

“Well aren’t you chatty! Where were you last September when I ran out of monologues?”

Just read the message, the TARDIS seemed to say.

The Doctor jabbed a button on the console, then turned as a hologram fizzed into life. She felt a surge of emotion as she stared into the face before her.

The girl was in her mid-teens, with a shock of jet-black hair, a striped top and eyes twinkling with mischief. The sight of her cracked the Doctor’s dark mood like an egg.

“Hello Grandfather,” said the hologram.

The Doctor’s voice caught in her throat. “Hello Susan” she finally replied.

This was clearly a recording made when her granddaughter was still a teenager. When they were travelling together, so many lifetimes ago.

Susan’s image crackled as she continued talking: “I’ve built a message bank and retrieval system into the TARDIS data core, for a rainy day. In case you need cheering up. I know what you’re like when you get bored, or lonely.”

“What am I like?” snapped the Doctor defensively.

“Grumpy,” Susan replied.

The Doctor clutched her braces and frowned.

“I know nothing lasts forever,” Susan continued, “and that eventually we’ll have to say goodbye. But when that day comes, I want to leave you with some memories of our time together.”

The Doctor’s eyes misted over. There was a lump in her throat.

“Not just of me, but of future friends. Future times and places. I’ve activated the TARDIS record mode, telepathically linked to your data extract. So if you’re ever feeling bored, or lonely, or sad, all you have to do is access the data bank, and retrieve a favourite memory. It’ll keep on recording until you tell it to stop. All your adventures, all your stories won’t go to waste. They’ll always be here, waiting for you, like an archive. Alive for eternity.”

Stunned, the Doctor watched a stream of text appearing on the screen. Old adventures, logged in a long list that seemingly scrolled forever.

“Some of the early ones might have gaps, sorry about that. You know what the TARDIS is like with integrating new systems.”

The TARDIS grumbled disapprovingly.

“Anyway, I’d better go or I’ll be late for school. I hope this message gets to you someday. When you need it most.”

With a final smile, Susan’s image flickered, then evaporated. The Doctor stared at the empty space for a very long time. Seconds, at least. Then she snapped into action, scrolling through the endless list of titles, unsure where to begin. ‘Crisis on Poosh,’ ‘Genesis Of The Daleks,’ ‘Attack Of The Postmen’, ‘The Timelash’, ‘100,000 BC aka An Unearthly Child aka The One In The Stone Age.’

“Intelligent labelling system’s a bit random,” thought the Doctor, her finger hovering over the activation button. Finally, she made her selection – and pressed PLAY.

The TARDIS console pinged again. Result! The custard creams had been replenished! The Doctor eagerly plucked one from the dispenser and settled back to watch hazy images form on the screen.

As she chewed, she decided she’d FaceTime Graham, Ryan and Yaz later, but for now she was happily distracted with the gift that Susan had left behind; an endless supply of stories; a comfort blanket of fond memories and old friends.

And a reminder.

That she was never, ever alone.


Read the first thoughts of the 13th Doctor

Giving fans a gift while they are shuttered in doors due to the dreaded coronavirus, Chris Chibnall has provided a short story giving a view inside the Doctor’s head as she falls from the exploding TARDIS after regenerating.

Hello! We’re living through some strange times right now.

With people staying home, and families stuck together, I thought maybe a few little presents from Doctor Who might help. Something to read, together or alone. New treats, from the people who make Doctor Who.

We’ll try and post things here once or twice a week. Tomorrow, we’ll have a never-before-published piece written by Russell T Davies.

To start us off, I’ve written a few words about what went through the Thirteenth Doctor’s head, immediately after she regenerated and was thrown out her TARDIS.

Stay safe.
Chris x

Via DoctorWhoTV

Things She Thought While Falling

She was cold.

The Doctor was cold.

The ragged clothes weren’t helping. She was cold, and in someone else’s ragged clothes.

She felt a little peeved that the ragged clothes did not include a built-in parachute. That felt like an error.

Wait, she thought. Why would I want a parachute? Oh yes, that’s right. She remembered.

She was falling.

Air was rushing past her. Or more accurately, she was rushing past air. Tumbling through the cold night sky.

Also, she was fizzing.

Remnants of regeneration particles were still skittering off her. The process was still… in process. Her newness still in train.

The Doctor looked up, mid-plummet. Oh dear, she thought.

Far above her, the TARDIS was exploding.

That is very unhelpful, she thought.

No, wait, not just exploding. Now the TARDIS was dematerializing – while it exploded. Dematerialexploding, thought the Doctor. That’s not a word, chided the Doctor. Alright, replied the Doctor, I’m only a few minutes in here – you’re lucky I’ve got any words at all. Will you two stop arguing, chimed in the Doctor. Only if you stop sub-dividing us, replied the Doctor, this is all the same brain. Don’t confuse matters.

As the blue box vanished, leaving the Doctor looking up at a starry black sky, the Doctor wondered if she’d ever see her TARDIS again. No time to feel sorry for yourself, she told herself. Too much going on!

Yes, she thought. There was a lot going on. A large dark painful ground mass was rapidly approaching, and inside the Doctor’s body her cells continued to burn and reshape and reform.

Well, thought the Doctor. All of her. This is a conundrum.

Her newly minted mind had already had three thousand and seven thoughts over the course of three seconds. She knew because she counted, and she only realised she’d counted once she’d finished counting, and then she wondered whether the counting made three thousand and eight thoughts and then she realised that the ground was another second closer, and a plan would probably be in order.

She saw the ground and calculated her own velocity. Ooh, this is going to hurt, she thought. Even with a soft landing. And it probably won’t be a soft landing. She crossed her fingers and hoped she was heading for an open air trampoline factory.

Like that planet, what was it called, Fintleborxtug! Fun fact about Fintleborxtug, she told herself, the creature that named it did so when it was hiccuping and just before it was sick. Nobody knows if it was really the name or just the sound it made.

You don’t have to tell me that, thought the Doctor tetchily to herself, I know! I know the planetary surface of Fintleborxtug is as soft and bouncy as a trampoline, because I went for a long bounce there once among the mountains, and the purple sky. I’d just had ice cream sundaes. That was a mistake. Can you please concentrate, the Doctor thought to herself again!

She concentrated. She confirmed she was still falling. Disappointing, but not that much of a surprise given her circumstances hadn’t changed in the second since she last checked.

She wondered where exactly she was. Which sky she was falling through. Which ground she was heading for. She stuck her tongue out. It was buffeted by the air. Tickled. Ah. That tasted like Earth. Northern Europe. Britain. Wood smoke, diesel, grass, fast approaching concrete, lot of moisture and attitude in the air. Yorkshire. Possibly South Yorkshire.

She snuck another look down. A train track. A stationary train. She tried to recognise the livery on the outside of the train, so she could absolutely nail precisely where she was but it was distant and dark and regeneration had once again failed to deliver the super powered, see in the dark, X Ray vision she had always craved. Ah well, she thought, maybe next time.

Now, the train below was insisting on getting even closer. The train, or the tracks, were where she was going to land. She pondered her limited choices – tracks would hurt. Mouth full of gravel and two big metal lines all the way down her new body. Ouch. Train might be better – the roof, if she could crash through it, would soften her landing a bit (though smashing through was most likely going to hurt a lot).

With a bit of luck any injuries would be taken care of by the still fizzing regeneration process. Like those injuries the Doctor had got after he’d crashed through the roof at Naismith manor. Or the hand he’d managed to grow back after the Sycorax had lopped one off. Watch out Doctor, she thought, your personal pronouns are drifting.

That roof was super close now. She flapped her arms a bit to make sure her trajectory was bang on. As she did so, she saw that the train lights were out. She saw sparks of a light flashing in one carriage towards the back of the train. Something was wrong. And if something was wrong, she was the man to sort it out.

You’re assuming you’re going to make it through this fall alive, she reminded herself. Now, don’t be gloomy, she chided back. Things will be alright. Right now, they’re not ideal. But I can muddle through. Probably.

That’s interesting, she thought. I seem to be an optimist. With a hint of enthusiasm. And what’s that warm feeling in my stomach? Ah, I’m kind! Brilliant.

This was going to be fun, thought the Doctor, as she crashed through the roof of a train, on the outskirts of Sheffield, not far from Grindleford.

Then, having hit the floor of the train, and felt extra little regenerative energy particles heal where things had scratched and broken and hurt — newness, in train, on a train — she thought to herself: this is going to be a very interesting night!

The Doctor jumped up, zapped a creature she couldn’t quite understand and immediately made new friends.

Doctor Who and The Timeless Children

Story 12.10
Written by Chris Chibnall Transmitted 1 March

“Look upon my works and despair.”

The finale to the twelfth series of Doctor Who is simply maddening. Building upon clues left behind in previous episodes about The Timeless Child, The other Doctor and the lone Cyberman, the story delivers the goods on closing the gap on these mysteries. It also brings back the new version of the Master at his giddiest. I haven;t seen him this pleased since the Anthony Ainley days. Constantly laughing to himself and guffawing at the blood drenched carnage surrounding him, this Master knows how to be truly evil. The Doctor, meanwhile, is out of her depth. Her companions are in danger and the few survivors of the human race are being hunted by Cybermen. It’s a mighty conflict of cliffhangers to resolve.

The Master has totally annihilated Gallifrey and brings the Doctor through the barrier to revel in the destruction and reminisce over old times (Deadly assassin is referenced). He then captures the Doctor in a stasis field and drags her consciousness into the Matrix to reveal the dark secrets of the Time Lords.

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SPOILERS FOLLOW

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The Matrix tells the tale of a Gallifreyan explorer named Tecteun who wandered the universe far from her home world. During her travels she encountered a breach to another universe/reality and at its base a lone child. Taking pity on the child, Tecteun took her along on the trip and eventually returned home to Gallifrey. She examined the child, attempting to discern where she had originated from but had no luck. One day the child and another youngster were playing and the child was knocked off a cliff to her death, or so it would seem. The child spontaneously regenerated and was alive once more. Tecteun experimented on the child to identify how this was possible and after several more regenerations pinpointed the solution. She injected herself with the particles that allowed for regeneration and it was a success. The Gallifreyans built the mighty citadel and the inhabitants were injected with the particle thus the Time Lords were born.

The Doctor takes all this on in with some shock and trepidation (The Master lies all the time in his devious ways) but demands to know what happened to the child. The Master gleefully informs the Doctor that SHE is the child. The Doctor, after all, always acted superior and other even among her own people and here was the proof. She was not Gallifreyan at all but from somewhere else. What’s more, she had an indeterminate number of lives before her ‘first’ incarnation and childhood on Gallifrey. It’s all a bit much and she kind of shuts down in the rush of information.

Meanwhile Graham and Yaz are on the Cyberman mother ship with three of the survivors of the human race. One is killed during their escape into a rather enormous air shaft and they are left with few options to survive. Graham comes up with a brilliant if risky plan to impersonate Cybermen to escape the ship. The Lone Cyberman Ashad comes to investigate the area they are hiding in. It’s a hair raising sequence in which the humans try to remain still and not breath under his scrutiny. The gamble pays off and the trip escape to the planet surface to reunite with Ryan and two other human survivors who are fending off a troop of Cybermen.

Luckily the Cybermen can barely move, cannot open doors and have the aim of a blind granny with a potato gun. Seriously these Cybermen look great but are woefully ineffectual. A swift walk would outpace them.

Meanwhile The Master makes a deal with The Lone Cyberman Ashad to raise the Cybermen higher than their loftiest goals. Ashad had planned to enhance the Cybermen to robots and take over the universe or else use the “Death Particle” housed within his chest to destroy all life. The Master using his tissue compression eliminator (remember that!?) and draws out the Cyberium into his own body, thus fusing Time Lord and Cyberman life and bringing about the myth of the two bonded life forms or Hybrid that would bring about the destruction of Gallifrey. Yes, that plot thread from season 9 is finally resolved.

Inside the Matrix, the Doctor is shown the creation of a super secret organization on Gallifrey called the Division. She is clearly involved (in yet another unknown incarnation) but no details are recoverable as that portion of the Matrix is empty. The Master explains that during his hacking of the Matrix he could not recover that data. The Doctor is reminded of flashes of memory of a life by the seaside of a policeman named Brendan and The Master theorizes that Tecteun left this memory as a clue to her former life before a massive memory wipe resulting in a return to childhood as the “First Doctor.”

Using the bodies of fallen Time Lords kept in storage, The Master uses the conversion tanks on the Cyberman vessel to create a new form of life, a fusion of Cybermen and Time Lord. With this army he vows to stomp across all of creation and rule all of life. As one does.

The Doctor manages to overload the Matrix with her allotted lives and memories, freeing her from the stasis field. She is reunited with her fam and finds the shrunken Ashad in a hallway where she expected to find The Master. The evil Time Lord left her a false psychic trace to lead her to Ashad’s corpse. The Doctor bundles her friends into a nearby TARDIS to get them off Gallifrey and back to 21st C Earth and makes a bomb from the shrunken body of Ashad containing the “Death Particle.” After some convincing the humans depart and the Doctor confronts her foe face to face.

It’s a tough call. If the Doctor lets The Master and the Hybrid army depart she will have let all of creation down. Yet if she uses the “Death Particle” and destroys all life on Gallifrey she will have become like The Master. In the end, one of the surviving humans, Ko Sharmus arrives to take the bomb from her and do the dirty deed himself. The Doctor escapes in a TARDIS to beyond the barrier and is soon home to her own TARDIS.

… where she is immediately arrested by the Judoon for her crimes as a member of the Division. The entire story ends with a cliffhanger showing the Doctor in lockup in some distant space prison.

The Timeless Children is a controversial episode. It manages to bring together several plot threads, tell a compelling story with plenty of action and drama and it looks marvelous. The effects and costuming are spot on and the acting is above par. So what’s the problem? The problem is this myth of the Timeless Child being the Doctor. It removes so much drama from the character as it is now established that the Doctor has infinite lives and is something wholly other than a Time Lord. This was hinted at as far back as Remembrance of the Daleks in which the Doctor insinuated that he worked alongside Rassilon and Omega in the creation of the Eye of Harmony which powered the Time Lord Citadel.

It was also signposted in Brain of Morbius that the Doctor had several lives before the First Doctor when the two Time Lords brain wrestled. This was deemed not part of canon by fans for decades even though the production team intended it to be so. Now it is finally and officially part of Who canon along with a nearly infinite number of Doctors who worked for a super secret organization that viewers and the Doctor know nothing about.

The Timeless Children also makes the Doctor too powerful and a never ending Russian doll of possibilities. While new ideas are almost always good and I like to see Doctor Who shaken up I do miss the days when the show was just about the Doctor being a limited hero with limited resources pitted against insurmountable odds. Now the Doctor is even more of a magical character than he was under Russel T Davies when he could simply refuse to regenerate and tie people to dying stars as punishment.

So what’s my opinion on this one? Only time will tell. I hope the program doesn’t take another year off to develop the next season since the momentum will be broken up. I know that ratings aren’t great for the new season and the finale did poorly. I think overall that the new series under Chibnall has been a success but he has to be careful to not fall into the Moffat trap of ropy scripts and overlong plot threads. We don’t want that again.

Doctor Who “Fugitive of the Judoon”

Story 12.05
Written by Vinay Patel and Chris Chibnall Transmitted 26 January

The Doctor is glum and introspective, having just seen firsthand the destruction of Gallifrey due to the actions of her oldest foe, the Master. She cannot bring herself to allow her companions into this part of her world, preferring to keep their travels light and adventurous. But after they collectively pry, she breaks down and lets them in. Suddenly they are interrupted by an automated message from the Judoon announcing a quarantine around Gloucester on Earth (yes, that Gloucester). Giddy with a problem to solve, the Doctor intervenes as she suspects that the Judoon are over stepping their jurisdiction. However things are not as cut and dry as they seem.

SPOILERS
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In the city below, Ruth and Lee are planning Ruth’s birthday. It’s a rather normal day as Ruth attempts to draw in customers for a guided tour of the area and Lee hastily arranges for a cake from a baker who wants him out of the picture. Honestly, the love triangle between Ruth, Lee and the baker is one of the weirdest parts of this story for me. He produces a cake with “You can do better” written on it and challenges Lee to a fight outside. All of this domestic business is cast aside, however, when an army of Judoon beam down and start cataloging all of the city-folk. When anyone resists, they are disintegrated. Hardcore, they are.

The Doctor and her crew arrive in the bakery/coffee shop and while Graham stays behind to take in the wares of the shop, especially the dreadful cake, he is transported to a spacecraft and we hear a familiar voice tell him to stay still. Meanwhile, Lee (who seems to know far more than he lets on) has learned of the Judoon’s assault and is trying to get Ruth to pack her belongings and get out of Dodge. Back on the alien craft, Captain Jack Harkness, who thinks Graham is the Doctor, tries to impart a vital message. But nothing is going as planned and the ship is under attack.

In Ruth and Lee’s apartment, the Doctor has identified the pair as suspicious. They find a mysterious box that Lee, again, knows more about than he lets on. The group splits up, and leaves Lee to face the Judoon. Their supervisor beams down and confronts Lee who is revealed (surprisingly) to not be the fugitive the Judoon are after all along. Before he is disintegrated, he passes on a text to Ruth who is waiting in a nearby cathedral “FOLLOW THE LIGHT. BREAK THE GLASS” which has a strange effect on Ruth, turning her into a martial artist and rhino horn kicking machine. She makes short work of the Judoon who try to incapacitate her and is drawn to a lighthouse that she sees in a vision.

The Doctor and Ruth race to the lighthouse while Captain Jack passes on a vital message to the TARDIS crew about a ‘lone Cyberman’ and to ‘not give it what it wants.’ At the lighthouse, The Doctor makes a discovery outside while Ruth is drawn toward a fire alarm with the message “BREAK GLASS” on it. A familiar effect occurs as orange energy emits from the fire alarm and Ruth becomes the Doctor. Finding a large laser rifle hidden in the lighthouse, Ruth heads outside. The (other) Doctor has meanwhile found a Police Box buried in the grounds. The new Doctor transports ‘our’ Doctor into the TARDIS buried in the ground and the pair compare notes, both finding that they know nothing about each other. Despite the Ruth Doctor appearing to be in ‘our’ Doctor’s past, neither has any memory of each other which is quite impossible.

The Ruth Doctor reveals that she had taken on a ‘job’ for the Judoon’s supervisor, the Gat and has been hiding on Earth using the chameleon arch (previously seen in Human Nature/The Family of Blood). The TARDIS is brought on board the Judoon ship and The Ruth Doctor’s laser rifle is confiscated by the Gat, who the Doctor discovers is Gallifreyan (also from the past). Despite numerous demands that she not hold the rifle towards her, the Gat fires and the rifle backfires. The Ruth Doctor seizes control of the situation and threatens the Judoon with red tape, drawing them off her.

The Ruth Doctor’s TARDIS

Having dealt with the Judoon, the Ruth Doctor drops off ‘our’ Doctor back in Gloucester. Still reeling from her experience, the TARDIS crew passes on Jack’s message which has its own mystery. The Doctor began her adventure with a feeling of defeat and dismay and ends it with a sense of doom as something from her timeline is headed her way, something she cannot fathom.

In her second year as the Doctor, Whittaker is hitting it on all cylinders. While I found her performance a bit too much like ‘Tennant-lite’ in her first few stories last year, she has hit her stride in this season. Matching exuberance with pathos, anger with playfulness and action with whimsy, she is making her mark on the role and despite the appearance of a new Doctor, I hope she will reign for a long while yet.

The special effects and camera work were top notch! The Judoon looked especially impressive and the animatronic rhino head was very expressive. I was very excited to see the Ruth Doctor’s TARDIS console room, and seeing it beckon back to the first two Doctor’s eras was a treat.

A surprising and head scratching story, Fugitive of the Judoon is a fun adventure. Jo Martin is magnificent as the other Doctor who brings with her more questions than we have had since John Hurt was introduced many moons ago. Her appearance from the Doctor’s past hearkens back to Brain of Morbius in which we see past incarnations of the Doctor that predate the First Doctor, William Hartnell. It turns the entire program on its head and it can go in so many directions from here.

Is this new Doctor from another dimension? An alternate life-cycle much like the 11th Doctor received in Time of the Doctor? Is she from the in between stage where the Second Doctor is forced to regenerate into the Third (often referred to as season 6B). If so, why does she have no knowledge of the sonic screwdriver? It’s all a bit mad, isn’t it? And it’s all a bit Who.

Next time: Praxeus