Fixing Doctor Who - Season Five Edition

Fixing Doctor Who – Season Five Edition

Let’s make this past season make sense, shall we?

Season Five Redux

Behold!  A rewritten version of season five… now enriched with delicious, coherent themes and the omega-3 fatty acid known as character development!  Obviously, the following is not the only way to fix season five; it’s just one way.  It’s AU fan-fiction, is what I’m saying.  Enjoy.

“The Eleventh Hour Redux” – Once upon a time, there was a little immigrant girl named Amelia, and she has no parents.  Some weird bloke with a police box crash lands into her backyard and eats some fish custard.  He tells her he’s traveling alone, and she asks if he’s lonely.  The Doctor says, no, obviously not!  (Lonely god?  That was the old guy!)  No, relationships are overrated–it’s having fun that matters!  Who would want to remember a tragic past when there are galaxies to see?  Mmm, fish custard!

Little Amelia latches on to the Doctor.  The Doctor doesn’t know it yet, but Amelia has no parents because they’re dead.  Not sucked into the Void.  Dead.  In fact, they died only a week ago.  The Doctor inspects the Crack in Amy’s wall, we learn about Prisoner Zero, yadda yadda, and then the Doctor abandons her.  See, his TARDIS keeps disappearing and reappearing in the backyard, so he flies it to the moon to recalibrate it.  In the meantime, Amelia grows up to become a kiss-o-gram, because then she can be something new every day and not have to remember that, on the inside, she’s Amelia, the sad, lonely child.

Now for some major differences.  Instead of growing up to be a snarky shrew, Amelia grows up to become Revised Amy.  Revised Amy made herself in (what she saw as) the Doctor’s image.  She’s wacky and spontaneous and takes nothing, especially relationships, seriously.  She is, essentially, all of the Eleventh Doctor’s good qualities (at least on a superficial level).  This will make her a much more interesting and fun-to-watch character than the jaded snark machine we actually got this season.  Revised Amy also kind of a Doctor super-fan, which makes her a good audience stand-in, and interesting on a meta-level.  Revised Amy and the Doctor save the Earth from Prisoner Zero and the Atraxi, and gung-ho revised Amy rushes into the TARDIS, hoping never to come back.

By the way, Rory’s still in this episode, but he’s now Revised Rory.  As in real season five, he represents what Amy could have been if she actually grew up, but the growing up part doesn’t have to do with settling for a passive, milquetoast Rory and popping out boring babies on a boring farm.  Instead, Rory is a really awesome, likeable guy who Amy clearly wants to be with—but she can’t let herself because she’s afraid of getting hurt.  Therefore, Amy and Rory are not engaged in this version.  Also, in this new version, it was Amelia who wanted to be a nurse when she was a kid, so she could save people (like her dead parents, perhaps?), but she didn’t go through with it after the Doctor came into her life.  Due to little Amelia’s influence, Revised Rory grew up to become a nurse, making him a symbol of what Amy could have been and can still become.  New Rory keeps trying to convince Amy that she’s smart and driven enough to go to nursing school—she’s too good for kiss-o-gramming.  Amy explains to Rory (and the Doctor, and the audience) that she enjoys being a kiss-o-gram because it gives her power.  She can change her identity almost at will, and she can always walk out the door when things get too real.

“The Beast Below Redux” – Because our big theme for this season is about identity, storytelling, and memory, we’re going to use our red pen on the Starwhale and focus on the Protest/Forget buttons.  That was a really, really cool idea that was not developed enough.

In this new “Beast Below,” Revised Amy disembarks the TARDIS legitimately excited to be in the future instead of snarking about like an annoying teenager.  And instead of lecturing Amy like a professor, the Doctor actually has a little bit of fun with her before the plot starts rolling.  He also asks her if she’s afraid.  She asks, “Are you afraid?”  “Never!” he answers. “Well, sometimes.”  “Then I won’t ever be, either!  Or only sometimes.”

Amy and the Doctor soon realize that the children in this futuristic spaceship society are being treated badly, and they go to investigate together.  The Doctor and Amy are eventually caught and stuck in identical Protest/Forget rooms next to one another.  Amy freaks out at what she sees and immediately pushes the “forget” button, but we don’t see the video just yet.

Then we see the Doctor’s POV.  He hears Amy freaking out and tries to calm her by shouting through the walls: “Push the Protest button!  Whatever you see!  You’re with the Doctor now, and people who travel with the Doctor always protest!”

But then he sees the video.  From this video, we learn that the Earth was made to be inhabitable (maybe by nuclear war or some other Very Bad Thing), and this new spaceship society is run not by a Starwhale but by child slave labor (the slaves being the kids who do badly in school, like in the pre-credits sequence of the original episode).  The Doctor is about to hit the Protest button, but then he sees a bunch of kids that look very similar to some of his old Companions.  One of the child slaves is called “Rose” or “Adric” or something, and the Doctor completely loses his shit and hits the Forget button.

The next part of the episode plays out exactly the same way as the beginning, but faster.  The now-memory wiped Doctor and Amy realize there’s something weird about this society, and they’re caught again.  This time around, the Doctor’s weird alien biology kicks in, and he remembers a little bit of what happened earlier in the episode.  He’s like, “Um, I think we shouldn’t go into these rooms.  There’s a button or something in there.”  So they fight off their captors and end up in the slave labor plant.  Queen Liz is there, and she explains that this slave labor is necessary to the survival of Space-England.  It’s hard for her, too, which is why every so often she presses the Forget button herself.  The Doctor asks, “Don’t their parents care that their kids are being taken away?”  And Liz is like, “Yeah, so they press the Forget button.  Got it?”  The Doctor tries to get the child-slaves to run away, but they’ve forgotten their humanity and freedom.  They’ve been told the story that they suck and are only worthy as slaves.  Amy and the Doctor try to get them to remember who they really are, and who their parents are.  Then the evil robot thingies come and capture Amy, asking the Doctor if he will sacrifice his Companion for the children.

The Doctor angsts for a mo’, but then the now-revolutionary slave children come up behind him and kick the robots’ asses.  The Doctor and Amy convince Liz 10 to help the children find their parents and rebuild their society.  The Doctor replaces their society’s old story with a new one: The human race is ingenious enough to save themselves without the need for child slave labor.  It is a Happy Ending.  Everybody lives.

“Victory of the Daleks Redux” – Doesn’t exist, because I’m not having a Dalek episode in my imaginary season.  It doesn’t fit in with our Big Theme, so it’s getting ex-ta-min-ated.  Instead, we’re going to put “The Lodger” here, because such a fun episode doesn’t belong so late in the season.  (Dear Who writers: Write more episodes like “The Lodger.”  Thanks.)

“Time of the Angels/Flesh & Stone Redux” – This two-parter is going to be reduced to a single episode, because original version was padded up the wazoo.  It was like Moffat had so much time to fill that he was like, “Oh, let’s make it so Angels can move now!  Too short still?  Well, make it so Angels can kill people now!  STILL too short?  Okay, the Angels can also talk through dead bodies and put creepy countdowns in people’s heads.  Wait—what do you mean it’s STILL too short?!”

For me, the best part of this two-parter was the first fifteen minutes of the first part, which were totally sweet.  We’re keeping that.  If we’re going to make up new rules regarding how the Angels work, let’s make only one new rule, and let’s make it one that has to do with our theme.  Therefore, the new rule we’re going to keep is the one learned at the beginning of “Time of the Angels”: The image of an Angel becomes an Angel itself.  This new rule fits our “Stories Becoming Real” theme and our “Identity” theme, and it also allows us to keep Amy’s best moment: the moment when she pauses the Angel tape and thus destroys it.

So, “Time of the Angels Redux” starts the same way the origial version started.  River calls for a pick up, everyone enters the cave, and Amy is attacked by the video-taped Angel.  Amy saves herself, and the Doctor reads the new rule: “The image of an Angel becomes an Angel.”  Father Octavian intones, “Whoever battles Angels should take care not to become an Angel herself.”  In short, if you stare at an Angel for too long, you will become an Angel.  If you even think about (or remember) an Angel for too long, the same may happen.  River directly ties this theme back to the Doctor, telling Amy that a Companion should also be careful not to stare at the Doctor for too long, because who stares at the image of the Doctor may become that image herself.  Amy gets a little uncomfortable at this statement, but she says she’s glad she’s like the Doctor.  River jokes, in sing-song, “The abyss stares back also!”  River insinuates that she is the way she is because someone taught her to be that way.  She flirts, “But I bet you do that to all your Companions.”  The Doctor and Amy are Uncomfortable.

Anyway, the Angels attack the Doctor, Amy, and the rest.  Amy stares at them but is freaking out because she knows she can’t stare at them for too long.  While the Doctor and River work to defeat the Angels with the gravity balls/Cracks, Father Octavian falls into a Crack.  Amy and River don’t remember him, but the Doctor does because of his weird Time Lord biology.  As the Doctor and River work to defeat the Angels, Amy starts crying sandy tears like in the real episode.  She feels like she’s missing something (and she is: the memory of Father Octavian).  The Angels get sucked into the Crack, and Amy and River forget them, and Amy is cured of her sandy tears.  The Doctor is a little scared by the fact that Amy has just forgotten an entire episode, but he jokes, “If only we could do that with the Daleks!”  What Daleks?  Amy has never heard of the Daleks.  The Doctor is Concerned.

“Vampires of Venice Redux” – Amy wants to have more fun, because she doesn’t remember anything from the previous episode.  The Concerned Doctor takes her home and checks out her town, noticing the duckless duck pond and asking Rory if he’s ever heard of the Daleks.  (He hasn’t.)  Rory tells Amy he picked up some applications for nursing school for her, but Amy drags him and the Doctor into the TARDIS, ‘cause it’ll be more fun adventuring in early 20th century (not Renaissance) Venice than worrying about the future and the past in small town England.  They find some fake vampires, shapeshifters who were forced off their planet by the Time War (the Doctor’s like, “Whoops, my bad”).  These aliens wanted to fit in on Earth, so they read the only Earth book they had—Dracula—and shapeshifted into vampires (of Venice).  The Doctor’s all, “Could you stop being vampires?  The ‘killing people by drinking their blood’ thing isn’t working for me.”  The vampire queen says, “But this is all we remember.  We don’t know how to shapeshift anymore.”

Meanwhile, in the B plot, Amy tries to make Rory have fun in Venice, and he does.  They fight off vampires together, and there’s chemistry like whoa, and they have sex.  (Off-screen, obviously; this is a family show!)  Afterwards, Rory asks Amy why they keep having sex but not actually being boyfriend and girlfriend.  Amy doesn’t know how to answer, so she jokes, “Who would want to be the girlfriend of a nurse?”  Rory tries to get Amy to remember her old childhood dream of becoming a nurse so she could save the lives of people like her parents.  Amy doesn’t want to remember any of this, so she runs off to find the Doctor.  She sees that the Doctor is captured by sexy Vampire Queen, so Amy stakes her in the heart and drags her into the sunlight, killing her and all of her children (because they’re psychically linked or something).  Amy tells the Doctor how to properly bury a vampire.  The Doctor asks, “How are you so knowledgeable about aliens all of a sudden?”  Amy says, “‘Cause I’ve read a lot of vampire books, obviously!”  They leave with Rory.

“Amy’s Choice Redux” – This episode is basically the same as the original “Amy’s Choice,” except that Rory doesn’t die in fake England, because he’s going to die for real soon, and we don’t want to ruin it by killing him off early like the real show did.  Another minor difference is that, in this version, Revised Amy doesn’t believe that either dreamworld is real, instead of her believing that both worlds are equally real.  She turns out to be right, of course.  Oh, and another big change: the episode was not caused by the Doctor and psychotropic drugs.  It was caused by the Valeyard.  The literal Valeyard.  At the end of the episode, the Doctor, Amy, and Rory wake up to find that the Valeyard has taken control of the TARDIS.

This evening the part of the Valeyard will be played by Mr. Toby Jones.

“The Hungry Earth”/“Cold Blood”: Are getting rewritten completely, because I seriously hated “Cold Blood.”  Instead, we’re going to have a much more fun two-parter.

The Doctor, Amy, and Rory are trapped in a room on the TARDIS by the freaking Valeyard, because how cool would that be for real!  The Doctor sees through a security camera that the Valeyard has taken over his ship.  The Doctor explains to his Companions that the Valeyard is the Doctor’s twelfth (i.e., next) regeneration, and he’s nutso.  The Doctor, Amy, and Rory have to break out of their prison and get to the TARDIS’s control room, except the Valeyard has locked every room in between.  The Doctor’s easy tricks don’t work—the Valeyard stole his screwdriver, and also he has the Doctor’s memories.  Also, we get to see a lot more of the inside of the TARDIS, which makes me squee.

As the trio works to break out of their TARDIS prison, the Valeyard continues taunting the Doctor about how awful he is and how awful it is that he ruined Amy’s life by crash landing on her doorstep.  (The idea is that Amelia would have grown up normally had the Doctor not landed there, but his visit completely altered her personality in a negative way.)  Plot-wise: The Valeyard explains that he has a device that can rip Cracks in space-time and make things and their memories disappear into the Void.  Amy whispers to the Doctor, “The Cracks!  He made them!  But wait: that means this plan already worked!”  The Doctor whispers, “Well, don’t tell HIM that!”

The Doctor asks the Valeyard why he hasn’t completed his plan yet—on the viewscreen, it looks like the Valeyard is looking for something in the control room and can’t find it.  He’s looking for the TARDIS self-destruct key, which will create a Big Bang that will spread the Cracks throughout space and time.  (He also explains he was the one who tried to build the TARDIS-type thing we saw in “The Lodger,” because, hey, maybe that should be explained?)  After a while, the Valeyard gives up trying to find the self-destruct key; he knows where to get another one.  The Doctor et al break into the control room, but it’s too late.  The Valeyard has already landed the TARDIS in River Song’s time so he can get her TARDIS key (which the Doctor has given her in the future).

The Doctor, Amy, and Rory follow the Valeyard, who has tracked down River.  He says, “Hello, sweetie,” and takes her hostage.  The Valeyard takes her self-destruct key and starts marching back to the TARDIS with River in tow.  The Doctor blocks his way, so the Valeyard takes one of River’s guns and aims it at him: “I think it’s time you regenerated.”  But Rory jumps in the way and totally bites it.  He doesn’t fall into a Crack or anything.  He actually, literally dies.  While the Valeyard is cackling over his dead body, River grabs his gun and kills the Valeyard.  The Doctor is shocked but is like, “Well, she did highly imply earlier this season that she was going to kill me.”  Amy is sobbing over Rory, and River tells the stunned Doctor to take her away from here.  The Doctor drags Amy back to the TARDIS, and she tantrums at him, “This isn’t part of the story!  You’re the Doctor!  You save people!  You go off on adventures and have fun!  People don’t die!  Everybody lives, right?!  Right?!”  (And the audience is like, “Um, honey, have you ever seen this show?”)

The Doctor tries to console her, but she is inconsolable.  He stares at the self-destruct key.  Amy says, “The Valeyard told me I wasn’t the first person you’ve traveled with.  Is that true?  Those others you traveled with: What happened to them?”  The Doctor won’t answer.  Amy asks, “Are they dead?  Are they dead like Rory?”  The Doctor’s all, “Better to have loved and lost than never loved at all.”  Amy says that’s not true.  She takes his hand and puts the self-destruct key in the TARDIS for him.  “We can make it all go away.  All those bad things.  They’ll never have happened.  We can start over.”  “A true regeneration,” he says.  And he knows he already did it, because no one remembers the Daleks.  He sets a course for all of the things he doesn’t want to have existed: Skaro, Rory’s corpse, lots of things from earlier episodes that would best be forgotten by everyone.  (The point is to prevent some of his Companions from ever meeting him.)  The last course set is for Amelia’s room, where her parents were standing the day before they died.

They turn the key.  The TARDIS explodes.

“Vincent & the Doctor Redux” – The Doctor wakes up near Amelia’s house in the 1990s.  Amy is unconscious next to him.  The Doctor marvels that he and Amy are alive.  He guesses that the TARDIS exploded and spat them out the last place it was.  The Doctor wakes Amy up and asks her about Rory and her parents.  She doesn’t remember them.  The Doctor is happy.  He sees his TARDIS crash land in Amelia’s backyard, a la “The Eleventh Hour.”  While past-Doctor is inside eating fish custard with Amelia, present-Doctor steals his own TARDIS, which is why it had disappeared momentarily in “The Eleventh Hour Redux.”  He’ll bring it back later.  He asks Amy where she wants to go.  She doesn’t know.  She’s acting strange.  More subdued than usual.  She says she wants to see Van Gogh.  She’s always loved Van Gogh.

From this point, everything goes the same way it did in the original “Vincent & the Doctor”—Amy crying but not knowing why; everyone fighting invisible monsters; the big speech at the end about happy art being made by sad people; etc.—except that Amy’s personality has clearly changed due to her not remembering her dead parents or Rory.  If we want to be really obvious about our themes, we can even have Amy say something like, “Do you think if Van Gogh had been happy he would have made these paintings?”  And the Doctor muses, “Would Van Gogh be Van Gogh?”  Too on-the-nose?  Maybe.  But it’s better than being so subtle with your themes that no one gets it.

The Doctor and Amy take Vincent back to his time, but they don’t notice that there’s a Crack near him, and it’s getting larger.  They take the TARDIS back to the present-time museum, and instead of Amy seeing a painting of sunflowers with her name on it, they find that Van Gogh’s paintings aren’t in the museum at all.  The Doctor asks the curator, but the curator hasn’t ever heard of Vincent Van Gogh.  Amy hasn’t either.  She starts crying in the museum but she has no idea why.  She’s in great pain–like there’s something missing inside her.  Something is definitely wrong.  The Doctor GOBs, “I’ve made a huge mistake.”

“The Pandorica Opens Redux” – Is basically the same as it was in he original version, with the Rory-bot, and River looking at Amy’s Roman history book, etc., etc.  Differences: The monsters that trap the Doctor don’t include the monsters the Doctor erased from history (i.e., the Daleks), and Rory-bot doesn’t kill Amy, because seriously that’s ridiculous.  Why do that if you’re just going to bring her back to life two seconds later?  C’mon!

“The Big Bang Redux” – The Doctor stays in the box.  Really, if you trap a Doctor in a box during a cliffhanger, you can’t free him in the first five minutes of the next episode, especially if he frees himself due to timey-wimey timeline crossing.  That’s against the rules.  We’re not playing Calvinball here.  The rules are sacrosanct.

Instead, the Doctor remains trapped in the Pandorica, and the aliens are going to throw him into a Crack (because, as we learned from the “Angels” episodes, a space-time event as complex as the Doctor would sew up the Cracks for good).  Amy, however, doesn’t want to forget the Doctor.  She already forgot Rory, and she doesn’t want to forget things again.  They have to save him.

So, Amy becomes all heroic and takes Rory and River via TARDIS to gather an army.  She goes back to all of the settings of the previous episodes and brings along a bunch of people whose lives have been touched by the Doctor.  She even goes to pick up her younger self while she’s waiting in the backyard for the Doctor to return.  (We can even get some old Companions like Sarah Jane and Martha Jones in on this lovefest.  Nice time for some cameos, why not?)

Amy’s army goes back to the aliens who are about to chuck the Pandorica in the Crack, and her army argues that the Doctor is a hero, not a villain.  The aliens, at first, are not convinced, but then Amy (with the help of little Amelia) retells the story of Pandora’s Box, saying it has all of the bad things in the world in it, yes, but it also has hope, too.  If you want to really destroy the Cracks for good, you need to let out the hope (i.e., the Doctor).

The Roman robot guards holding the Pandorica are swayed by these myth-based arguments, put down the Pandorica, and free the Doctor.  The Doctor is overcome; he’s heard everything everyone’s said, and now he’s ready to be a Happy-Go-Lucky hero again.  Aww.

The Doctor has an idea.  He takes the TARDIS back in his own timeline to when the Valeyard took over his ship.  The Valeyard’s like, “This is against the rules!  You can’t cross your own timeline!”  And Past!Doctor is like, “Yeah, future me!  Don’t cross your own timeline!  You’ll cause a paradox!”  And present!Doctor says, “Yes, and a paradox is a complex temporal event–exactly the thing we need to destroy the Cracks in space-time!”  And Past!Doctor is like, “Oh, future me!  You’re so clever, and you look so good in a football jersey!’  Present!Doctor’s all, “You’re not so bad yourself.  I’ve seen you in the shower.”  And both Amys say, “Get on with it already!”

So present!Doctor totally pushes his past!TARDIS (with Past!Valeyard, Past!Doctor, Past!Amy, Past!River, and Past!Rory in it) into one of the time Cracks.  The Cracks get sewn up, Rory lives, and everything goes back to how it was before the Valeyard took over the TARDIS.  Hooray!  Everybody lives!  Happily ever after.

Or is it?  Amy asks, “So if everything’s reset, does that mean the Valeyard’s still out there?”  And the Doctor’s like, “Yes.  Yes, he is.”  DUN!  DUN!  DUUNNN!

But back to our happy ending.  The Doctor, River, Amy, and Rory are on the TARDIS, and the Doctor says, “Where to next?”  Amy’s deep in thought about something Amelia said earlier in the episode.  Amelia met her older self and said, “So, did you become a nurse like I wanted to?”  And Amy said, “No, not exactly.”  So Amelia said, “Why not?”  And Amy couldn’t answer.

In the present, the Doctor says, “How about we go to Space Florida?”  And Amy says, great idea, but there’s something I have to do first.  She has the Doctor drop her and Rory off at home in 2010, and then she writes a note, hands it to the Doctor and says, “Wait five seconds, then meet me here.”

After Amy and Rory leave, the Doctor reads the note, smiles, sets the course in the TARDIS, and meets her several years in the future, at her nursing school graduation.  Rory is there, and the Doctor notices he’s wearing an engagement ring.  Amy tosses her cap into the air, and the Doctor catches it.  He says, “You’re a nurse now.  Sure you still want to travel in space-time with me?”  And Amy’s like, “Hells yeah!  You’ll need someone to fix up all the people you accidentally injure!  And Rory gets to come, too.”  The Doctor relents, and they go off in the TARDIS to have new adventures in season six.


It’s not perfect, I’ll admit, but I wrote this thing in two hours.  For two hours’ work, it’s pretty decent, wouldn’t you say?

As for you, Mr. Moffat–Steve–can I call you Steve?  I’m still a fan.  Really.  The other day I watched “The Doctor Dances” with some friends, and I fell in love with you all over again.  That shit is beautiful, man.  Absolutely beautiful.  So I’m asking you, when you write season six, could you write more “Doctor Dances” and less “Blink”?  I know everyone likes “Blink” better, but they’re wrong.  To non-writers, that timey-wimey stuff looks really hard to write.  It’s not.  It’s really easy–too easy.  It’s all smoke and mirrors and sleight of hand.  Character development, well-handled themes, emotion that feels earned, plots that make sense and that follow the rules you’ve already established: those are hard.  “The Doctor Dances” is better than “Blink.”  Objectively-speaking.

24 Comments on “Fixing Doctor Who – Season Five Edition”

  1. Timothy J Swann #

    (So everyone can read it):
    Wow, what an endeavour – you ought to send it in to the BBC, get yourself a job over here just kind of poking Moffat to get him on the straight and narrow. (Not sure why the comments are closed on this one) Also, if you find the time, do see if it’s possible to find his show Jekyll, which I think holds themes together a fair deal better. Was going to counterpoint that I liked Amy’s Choice as foreshadowing, but then you hit me with the Valeyard (whom I’d been insisting was in the Pandorica – at least so much as it would be the Doctor himself). Also, I don’t know if you’ve heard for your Cold Earth rewrite that Moffat intends to have a purely Tardis-based episode next season. I only wish I had some Overthinking to offer, except to say a) wow and b) I knew the themes of the novel far before I’d made sense of the plot, and I had to make the plot fit those themes, which slowed me down often, but hopefully it was worth it, by which I mean, there must be writers out there who intentionalise themes and make them work and happen, right?


  2. Count Spatula #

    Brilliant! I especially like your moving the Lodger nearer the beginning and introducing the Valeyard. I was convinced that guy was some old school baddie, but nope he was just a hallucination. Damn.

    If I was writing it I’d have had the little girl as the companion, with the main theme of Children vs. Adulthood. Never Grow Up would be the point of the series. Amelia was interesting and funny and she complimented the Doctor brilliantly in the fish custard scene, and “Never Grow Up” is a great theme for Doctor Who, especially with all the “The Doctor’s seen too much suffering” thing going on. Also it would have been different: the little girl and the ancient Lord of Time. The Doctor would have shown her how the Universe can be more terrible and more incredible than she could ever imagine, and she would have shown him how to be a child again. I might write up a list of how I’d change each episode a bit later on, but for now this is just the jist of my season.

    I’d have made it so the stories Amelia told people weren’t dreams she had waiting for the Doctor to come back, they all happened that night but nobody believed her because how could anything like that be real? And at the end the Doctor leaves her back at her house the same night they left, forgets something or makes a promise to see her again or whatever, and then turns up years later on her wedding day and older Amy gets to be his companion for season 6, like a brand new Amy Pond. The Amy we got for real didn’t have a personality I felt jumped from the screen and shouted “This is who I am! These are my quirks and nuances! This how I make a difference to the Doctor!” But I loved little Amelia from the get-go.

    And at the wedding when the Doctor turns up, a huge smile lights up her face, or she raises an eyebrow or something and turns around to everyone and goes, “Here he is, my Raggedy Doctor, only [however many] years later!” I’d have loved that scene to happen to me when I was a kid – I’d love it now. When I was little, I was always annoyed by that adult cynicism that those amazing people on TV were “just fictional characters”. So I think the wedding scene fits in with my idea of “Never Grow Up”. The last big triumph: “See, I told you my imaginary friend was real!”


  3. Rob #

    Nice. Very Nice. I think you have an excellent series there and have picked on why series five – whilst enjoyable when being watched – felt a little flat as a whole.

    To play devil’s advocate, however, I think there are two points to be made

    Firstly, the story from the last series isn’t over yet. It will probably be put on hiatus for the Christmas special – Christmas Day stuffed with turkey and wine is not the best time for intricate science fiction plotting – but the final episode implied that some of the open questions, most notably who was piloting the Tardis and controlling the alliance, will be answered. Here, then, I think Moffatt has extended the season-long plot arcs of the RTD era and replaced them with an even longer-term story. Some of the episodes which at the moment seem rather throwaway and unconnected might yet be retrofitted into a bigger arc. Your arc, whilst excellent, wraps the whole series into itself (character development excluded).

    Secondly, too, its easy at the end of a series to look back and wish for a complete narrative. But that’s not the way that episodic television is told. Each episode is a stand alone narrative and there’s no harm in having episodes which don’t, in retrospect, fit. One of my bugbears with a lot of sci-fi/fantasy series is that they begin with a rough premise and plot arcs which allow for stand alone episodes early/mid-season. By their latter series, they’ve created such complex set-ups that every episode is a ‘we must save the world and defeat the big bad’ story, which means they often loose the aspects that made them fun (Tru Blood seems to be going this way).

    So an interesting re-write, but I wonder if what you’ve actually produced is a film/three part-television special rather than an episodic series.

    PS Actually then – wouldn’t this storyline have worked brilliantly for the David Tennant 2009 specials?


  4. vegie #

    I’m with Rob to me this season felt more like a first act, the beginning of a larger story. There is no real enemy or at least no confrontation with one. The season rather revolves around a disaster that the doctor has to fix that may or may not have been caused by a mysterious foe.
    The first time I watched the final I thought rivers last line about everything changing was a bit wanky, but the second time around it occurred to me that large changes in the next season would give the fifth season allot more purpose. From that angle It looks to me like setup of charters specifically the doctor and river to provide starting points for the next seasons arc’s or ending points in rivers case as well as possible future villains and the beginnings of future themes .
    This season had a lot of left overs from the RTD seasons and I think after the end of the tenth doctor moffat needed to recreate the baseline to start a story where everything changes from.


  5. Brimstone #

    i thought i liked the last season, but i was wrong

    you’re a genius


  6. Nexxus9 #

    Finally watched the rest of the season last night so I could read this. Good stuff. I like a lot of your ideas… especially bringing back the Valeyard.

    I think you missed a recurring theme, though. The Doctor being “dangerous”. The big reveal with the Pandorica being the obvious example, but there were other instances. Rory outright states it in the Vampires of Venice, but in many episodes the Doctor is a catalyst for bad things happening. It wasn’t mentioned after Rory disappeared. I feel like the Valeyard would have fit in well with such a theme.


  7. Hana S-Smith #

    I agree with you on a lot of points here (especially the relative worth of creativity, but that wasn’t the main objective admittedly) however I’m inclined to state the obvious a little here.
    Not to be too on-the-nose but surely the key theme tying together this season (and every season) of Doctor Who is, well, time? Your past catches up to you (River Song, The Pandorica, The Doctor, Amy), Memories are our link to the past (Amy, River, Rory, The Doctor…) The future is a formidable thing (The Lodger, Van Gogh, The terrible Silurian bit). I know it’s the central device, but I keep feeling like every other theme ties centrally and derives centrally from that point. What happens when we look at Time a bunch of different ways? Moffat loves messing around with time.

    Also, just a nit-pick, but the whole ‘can robots feel love?’ theme doesn’t really exist. Ostensibly that was what was happening in the episode but that doesn’t make it the theme. It came up again with the whole Roryisanautomaton thing. It’s just identity/memories again. Both are replicate of a real person, who has memories of that person that define their identity. As soon as you start denying their personhood/identity they are dangerous. Memories are the connection to a human past and to a human life. I’d argue that theme doesn’t exist at all. Although I agree it is completely unnecessary.

    I personally like this season’s arc extending beyond a season, it doesn’t make it feel so… capsuled. There’s plenty of time to make the themes tie together.

    Either way, it’s definately a fun take on the series (done in 2 hours?!) that I would have rather watched, but I don’t mind it as it stands.


  8. toasterhedgehog #

    Here, I fixed the basis for your thesis so it more accurately reflects the TV show we both watched:

    “The Eleventh Hour” (Moffat): We are our connections to other people.
    • “The Beast Below” (Moffat): ignorance is consent; Moral courage vs status quo
    • “Victory of the Daleks” (Gatiss): You are your connections with other people. (I’ll elaborate, the Daleks are defined by their relationship to the Doctor, as the Doctor is defined by them, Amy is defined by her relationship to the Doctor and in absentee Rory, and Paisley is defined as a man by his love. Choosing to be a man in his mind makes it so, and saves the world.) who you want to be effects who you are.
    • “The Time of the Angels”/”Flesh & Stone” (Moffat): faith vs. reality; the limits of trust; and secrets
    • “The Vampires of Venice” (Whithouse): Genocide; how far do you go to survive; sacrifice for those you love; Fantasy Vs. Reality (that means Doctor Vs. Rory)
    • “Amy’s Choice” (Nye): Fantasy Vs. Reality (Doctor Vs. Rory), You are your connections to other people, aging, What will you do to stay youthful (The doctor carts around young humans to keep from feeling old?) self deception, childishness vs. maturity
    • “The Hungry Earth”/”Cold Blood” (Chibnall): Violence begets violence; We are our connections to other people.
    • “Vincent & the Doctor” (Curtis): The relationship between madness and genius; We are our connections with other people. (Vincent realized how he affected people, and was changed by that knowledge)
    • “The Lodger” (Roberts): stasis vs. progress; how low self esteem effects our relationships and lives; the power of love (I know, blech); who you want to be effects who you are
    • “The Pandorica Opens”/”The Big Bang” (Moffat): We are our connections with other people (literally); who you want to be effects who you are; the power of love (blech)

    The sexual politics you brought in as themes have nothing to do with the actual story as presented, and are more about your baggage than what actually happened. You shouldn’t run around accusing people of sexism without cause. It’s no better than calling everyone a racist or a homo-phobe, and is fairly insulting to any moderately evolved person.


  9. josh #

    See? You DID make sense of it! I knew that would happen.


  10. life 'n things #

    This was a nice reworking of a season that felt hastily cobbled together. I for one would have liked to see 11’s Raggedy Doctor identity more firmly established before Matt Smith threw it off so vocally.
    The theory that Moffat plans to tie together this season’s themes sometime next year is a bit ridiculous; this is television where the next season is never a given thing. And while every episode doesn’t need to tie directly into the overarching season theme, there at least needs to be a point at the end of the season where the obvious loose ends are tied together.


  11. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @toasterhedgehog: I’ve been thinking about how to respond to you for a while, and I think I’m just going to quote Roger Ebert:

    “[Steven] Boone’s review [of Inception] fits my definition of usefulness. It doesn’t matter whether I agree with him. He helps me see things … There’s a human tendency to resent anyone who disagrees with our pleasures. The less mature interpret that as a personal attack on themselves. They’re looking for support and vindication.”

    I am not calling you immature, don’t get me wrong. But please know that I did not mean this article to be an attack on any fans of the past season, and I hope in the future you will avoid attacking others by saying they have “baggage” and lack “evolution.” We’re just talking about Doctor Who here. No need to bring out the ad hominem attacks. We can disagree and still consider each other intellectual equals, right?

    Just to be clear, I do not believe that Doctor Who is sexist in general. In fact, you folks can read my ode to earlier seasons’ progessive gender dynamics here.


  12. Dr. Bob #

    Ok, short and sweet. If you look at the series finales since the beginning of the NEW Dr. Who they have been one upping each season, more at stake, more to lose, bigger solution. I was wondering how the writers were going to one up towing the Earth back how through hyperspace. Well they did with the Big Bang 2.0.

    They have jumped the shark I am afraid. Where do you go after you reboot the universe and no one notices. They would have done better to go with the “I stole the Tardis” theme, and had the current Doctor Reboot and become the First Doctor. Time Lords are alive. Whats a Dalek? Cyber-who? I don’t like what they did.


  13. toasterhedgehog #

    I apologize for attacking you. I should have chosen my words more carefully.

    I would like to clarify, if I had read that a work of mine’s theme was ‘women are shrews’ I would feel as if I had been called sexist. By ‘evolved’ I meant that any ‘evolved’ person would be offended by being called sexist.

    Rereading my post, I can see how I might have seemed angry. I was just writing quickly, and I was a bit excited.

    I enjoyed reading this post, and your blog.



  14. oldskool138 #

    It’s “Hopelessness” that Pandora traps inside the box not “Hope” itself. If the only thing left in the box was Hope then there would be no Hope in the world.


  15. manwhoneverwould #

    I really enjoyed your post. I agree with just about everything you said. However, though your take on Eleven’s character’s development is a brilliant idea, I think that Moffat would never have Eleven reference Ten to that degree as it would be tantamount to Moffat linking himself to something RTD-related, as he seems determined not to do with his desire to distance himself with new titles, Tardis (interior AND exterior – because the Tardis needed a new coat of paint?) and Sonic. From my perspective, Moffat seems to be saying that the older seasons were rubbish and that he would like to shed the franchise of that mess before he can tell the story that he wants to tell. Which to me seems unnecessary as a clear point of demarcation can clearly be drawn with just the new Doctor and new stories. Improving on what came before doesn’t have to mean erasing as many traces of your predecessor as possible…in my humble opinion…


  16. Claire #

    Absolutely fantastic. I want to rewrite time and space to make this the real season 5.


  17. Gab #

    Alright, I don’t have a lot of overthinking to do in re: your new episodes, because, frankly, I think you did a bang-up job. Many, many props to ya.

    But to overthink the reasons *for* your rewrites, *that* is something I can do, I think. I find a lot of the relationships in this season to be harmful or unhealthy, or at least abnormal or unbalanced. Not just between the Doctor and Amy or Amy and Rory, but even minor characters that show up for their lone episode. And the Doctor doesn’t always fix them, nor does he even notice them a lot. The Ninth Doctor usually picked up on that sort of thing and acknowledged it, but I feel as though this one, even if he does see them, doesn’t speak up enough. So this means two things for me. First, the politics nerd in me wants to postulate that RTD is a federalist/Big Government-type (because his Doctor tends to get more deeply involved and invested in what’s going on around him, meddling in peoples’ personal lives beyond what is necessary to get the job done), while Moffat is an anti-federalist/Small Government-type (because his Doctor tends to do the opposite); and second (which is a separate theory and not to be equated with government at all), that the Tenth Doctor has lost some of his humanity this time around. I believe the latter has been tossed about or alluded to on other comments pages here before, but suffice to say that he’s much more cynical, dark, distant, and callous than before. I have lost a lot of faith in the Doctor’s hearts (not abilities), to the point where when he made the remarks about Amy to test botRory in “The Big Bang,” I believed he meant them- and thought, “Holy shit, the Doctor would NEVER have said that when he was played by David Tennant!” and when he got up after being punched and stuff, I still had trouble believing he hadn’t meant it and wasn’t covering up for what he realized was a very hurtful thing to say (so as to avoid apologizing). The first little theory would probably be a lot harder to work and feel more contrived if hashed out in more detail, but I like leaving it vague so as not to spoil the fun for myself. The second wouldn’t be as hard, I don’t think.


  18. Freshly Squeezed Cynic #

    The theory that Moffat plans to tie together this season’s themes sometime next year is a bit ridiculous; this is television where the next season is never a given thing.

    The next series was a given thing. It was commissioned before this series was even aired. The BBC would have to be absolutely mental to cancel their biggest money-spinning cash cow. So Moffat knows that unless he fucks up, badly, he’s probably got a lot of time to play with. It’s not ridiculous at all that he’d want a multi-series-long arc.

    From my perspective, Moffat seems to be saying that the older seasons were rubbish and that he would like to shed the franchise of that mess before he can tell the story that he wants to tell.

    “Holy shit, the Doctor would NEVER have said that when he was played by David Tennant!”

    Both of these comments are somewhat Missing The Point, as it were. Above all, Doctor Who is (or at the very least, has become) about change. The passage of time. The inevitability of aging versus the flux of the choices we make. Everything ends, but that is only so things can begin anew. Moffat, by starting afresh is not devaluing the RTD seasons any more than NuWho devalued Andrew Cartmel’s attempts to put the series back on track in the late Eighties, or Jon Pertwee’s action-and-gadgets focus devalued the whimsical cosmic fool of the Patrick Troughton years. They complement each other, different spins on similar characters.

    The Doctor is an archetype. I’m not sure entirely what of, but he is. A trickster god, a lonely wanderer, an anti-authoritarian? But within this (or these) archetype(s) a myriad of personality types can be expressed. He becomes, literally, a different person from time to time.

    People change. The Doctor changes more than most. Welcome it.


    • Gab #

      About the change. I could “accept” it if it was shown as a progression, but it was done too abruptly for me to be comfortable with it. I understand he went through a lot in losing Rose, but there was absolutely no time to see any sort of development when the actual personality change happened- there was no path from point A to point B, he teleported (or Tardised himself, heh) over, and it has no cohesion. See, the series with Martha wasn’t enough to create said cohesion- he was kind of transitional then, still grieving, and even so, he still wouldn’t have said something like what I was referencing during that series, either (or at least not in a way nearly so cold or callous or flippant- it would have been in the middle of a serious heart-to-hearts (get it, hearts, with an ‘s’? (which, by the way, is something this Doctor does not do, or at least not very well, and this is, again, an example of a change in personality I’m troubled by!). And the way he ended up regenerating before Amy was not enough of an explanation for the drastic upheaval of his personality. Again, it jumps too suddenly, and even the change between Eccelston and Tennant made more sense and felt more like a drive to the lower level as opposed to a fall off the cliff. If it’s supposed to be the same character, I’d like to see the change and not just be expected to accept it. Maybe this is because I’m viewing the show on that aspect of writing the same way I view others: I need reasons for actions and personality traits, otherwise it feels cheap and lazy to me. And having already seen a good transition between Doctors, I’m disappointed I didn’t see one this time, which makes accepting this Doctor’s personality a lot more difficult.

      So yeah, I’m kind of petulant about it, but I think it’s bad writing, even for a Dr. Who series, and I simply just can’t sit back and “accept” bad writing on a show I loved previously. I get indignant. So it’s not you, it’s the writing. To me, it’s not about the fact that he’s different so much as how and why. Admittedly, I haven’t seen more than a few random episodes from the pre-Eccelston eras, so if the transitions were jerky back then, I’ll concede that my problem is completely my own because I’m holding the show to a standard it can never fit if evaluating the arc of its entire run. However, like I said, Eccelston to Tennant felt smoother, so I’m basing my assumptions on that versus the newest regeneration; and thus, I admit I could be focusing too much on an anomaly of the series.

      But (and I realize I’m rambling) in today’s television-viewing world, is it really acceptable to have a character become so different so suddenly anymore? If they’re trying to make it new and for a modern audience, it should adhere to what modern audiences tend to want- and I don’t think I’m all alone in wanting my characters to make sense when I’m watching TV or a movie. Since the change in his personality doesn’t make sense to me, I don’t like it.

      Yup, I think I sort of made a point.


      • Freshly Squeezed Cynic #

        I could “accept” it if it was shown as a progression, but it was done too abruptly for me to be comfortable with it.

        Are you meant to be comfortable with it? Regeneration is one of the more fundamentally alien aspects of The Doctor, so I’m not surprised if some people get, well, alienated by it; maybe I’m just looking at this in the context of the old series, as you say, but I see this transition as a lot smoother than the infamous regeneration into the Sixth Doctor (first line: “Change! And not a moment too soon.”), where (spoilers?) he goes into a bit of a post-regeneration fugue and attempts to strangle his companion. Yes, you read that right. Thankfully, he gets better, but initially he’s written as an arrogant, self-satisfied coward (with a terrible suit). It was meant to be a redemptive arc as he slowly regains his more heroic nature, but the writing in that period was never good enough to pull that off (people complain about the writing now have… The Sixth Doctor’s Big Finish Audio stories are much better, though.)

        So there’s certainly meant to be a continuity of traits there, but focused through the prism of a different (sometimes radically) individual. You can see Six’s egoism dialled down somewhat in Ten, especially in The Waters of Mars, or Eleven’s deceptively goofy, disarming persona in Two and Four. Or Nine’s irascible nature and slight condescension of humanity paralleled in One and Six.

        Eleven’s not callous or cruel, I don’t think; you have to set aside a lot of things (the spacewhale, for all that was a bit of a messy episode, did show Eleven burning with righteous, compassionate anger). He’s less inclined to take humanity’s side automatically, like Ten seemed to be, and he’s a lot less empathetic and sometimes blunt when making observations. But cruelty? I’m not seeing it, to be honest.

        I’m also confused by who you’re talking about here; you mention Eleven by talking about this season, but you’re calling back to events of Ten’s, as if the personality change from Ten to Eleven should have been foreshadowed (forgive me if I’m misreading you, but that’s how it seems to me). Eleven never regenerated before Amy, for one thing… In any case, I get that traits should be shown, not told, but I’m honestly perplexed by why you think that’s not been the case in general with Eleven, unless it’s more to do with the nature of regeneration sort of jumbling up the personality of the Doctor in one fell swoop. To me, that’s not a problem; regeneration for the Doctor has been shown to be traumatic. Why wouldn’t that affect the way he thinks and acts, in sometimes drastic ways? Not all personality traits are earned in slow, fulfilling character arcs.

        Looking back, to me, Ten is a lot different from Nine, from the very start. He’s established right out of the gate as a different man, but with the same drives and impulses. What he becomes three series and three specials later was even more different, and special, but then, Eleven hasn’t had three series and three specials under his belt, yet.

        As for this season’s writing, at times it was patchy, definitely, but I don’t remember anything as singularly awful or pointless in terms of the arc, in this series, as say Fear Her or the god-awful Daleks In Manhattan. Or The End of Time, for that matter…


        • Gab #

          Sigh, I need to convey myself better. No, I realize I’m not necessarily *meant* to be “comfortable” with the change in itself; however, the difference I see is this: if the progression had been shown and I was uncomfortable with it, I could still accept it. Got it? Please, stop being hung up on my dislike of the personality because that’s not where the beef I have comes from: it comes from what I consider to be poor writing. If it had not been jerky, even if I hadn’t liked it, I could have accepted it. I mean, I absolutely couldn’t stand Kate in Lost, but I accepted that her character was so annoying and selfish because she was written that way and written well– it made sense, or was at least shown as how she always was, all the time, no matter what, so I didn’t question it. I question this Doctor because he doesn’t make sense. Even between/among episodes within this series, his personality jumps around, and I do not know what Doctor to expect each time a new one starts. I could totally go with a plot like the older one you described where he strangles his companion at first- if it is shown right, but whatever Moffat wants the Doctor to “be” this time around, or whatever personal, introspective journey the Doctor is supposed to go on, it’s very, very unclear to me, so it makes me uncomfortable. Am I being clear this time? I’m sorry, I guess I either can’t say it in terms someone else can understand, or you’re arguing side details instead of my main point.

          And speaking of side details, though (sorry), I didn’t mean Eleven is always cruel, but that I felt what he said and how he said it at that particular moment was delivered cruelly and callously- whether that was Rory or not, he/it was at least programmed to love Amy more than him-/itself, so to be so flippant about her life’s value to him/it was a cruel thing to do.

          Looking back, to me, Ten is a lot different from Nine, from the very start. He’s established right out of the gate as a different man, but with the same drives and impulses. What he becomes three series and three specials later was even more different, and special…

          Exactly! And as you imply, it’s shown gradually, not abruptly and jarringly, these overall changes. Ten started out different, yes, but there was still Nine in him- and that Nine slowly faded away until Ten became his own. Eleven hasn’t had as much screen time, as you say, but, as such, his screen time hasn’t been enough to justify how different he is. And again, he changes from episode to episode, so… well… yeah. I’m still not convinced it’s done well, even if I ignore any comparisons to Ten or Nine because Eleven sea-saws so much between episodes in this series- one he’s happy, the next he’s chaotic, the next he’s brooding, the next he’s chaotic, the next he’s close to dull, etc. The writing is too inconsistent.

          Bottom line: I’m not disliking the Doctor for his traits this time around in themselves, but for how inconsistent they are and because they are a reflection of the sloppy writing for this series.


          • Caroline #

            I do understand why you’re saying about the transition, but I feel like Ten alluded to the potential for dramatic change in his last special. When he was explaining regeneration to Wilf, he said something along the lines of “It really is like dying. I’m gone and a new man walks away.” Nine, as a very different personality, was not hesitant about dying and eased the transition for Rose (and the audience) by downplaying the change. But Ten REALLY didn’t want to die, which I feel contributed to the jarring nature.

            Also, I felt there was a good flavor of Ten in Eleven’s first couple of episodes. The first seen between Eleven and Amelia felt strongly like Ten to me, as did a lot of his interactions in The Beast Below. After that, he definitely went in his own direction. But that’s what the Doctor’s always done, and it’s what Ten told us would happen. With that in mind, it seems unfair to hold it against the series too much.

  19. Freshly Squeezed Cynic #

    Also, token nerdery, The Valeyard is not the Twelfth Doctor, but a possible future incarnation of the Doctor somewhere between his Twelfth and Thirteenth selves. A sort of avatar of possibility, much like The Watcher between the Fourth and Fifth Doctor, only an expression of malice and hatred, given a semblance of self by the Time Lords.

    You could (and I do) easily argue that that was The Valeyard, since the psychic pollen awoke that aspect of the Doctor and gave him voice, made him as real as he ever was. Why shouldn’t he be The Valeyard just because he called himself by a different name? The Doctor wasn’t always called The Doctor…


  20. Quin #

    That was outstanding. Steven Moffat would be wise to take you on his staff. And P.S., you’re not the only one who smelled a faint whiff of sexism this season.


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