Doctor Who #948: Deep Breath

"He is lost in the ruin of himself, and we must bring him home."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Aug.23 2014.

IN THIS ONE... An introduction to the 12th Doctor, with clockwork robots in Victorian London.

REVIEW: It is perhaps inconsequential what the plot of this is, because Deep Breath's whole reason for being is making Clara, and thus the audience, accept the new Doctor. After long stints from pretty boys, the Doctor is back to being an older man, and a more improbable sex symbol / 'shipping target. For a generation drawn into this universe by the strong 'shipping opportunities offered by Tennant and Smith, Capaldi was a hard sell. So take a deep breath, New Who fans (it's right there in the title), the ride might get a little bumpy. The episode is thus built around making Doctor Who's wide general audience accept this new version of the show, which goes through the audience identification figure, Clara. She is reticent to accept the Doctor's new looks, and is called superficial for it, and it angers her. The audience is dared to defend its own stance on the matter. Madam Vastra, Jenny and Strax are over-used, but here are required to create familiarity that doubtful fans will accept. And though I don't particularly like it as an idea, the call made to Clara by surprise guest-star Matt Smith - Capaldi shouldn't have the previous Doctor crash his first episode like that - it's part of the same scheme. If you loved the 11th Doctor, can't you do him a favor and like the 12th? For him? Please? And I don't think it's the fact Clara hugs this new Doctor at the end that endears you to him; it's really how awkward he looks when being hugged. That's the selling point.

It's hard to gauge this new Doctor after one episode, because he spends most of it as a raving lunatic in the throes of regeneration instability. What will stick, and what is just a manifestation of his regenerative amnesia? The big shift is in his relationship to the companion. The flirting is over and done with; he can't even tell Clara and Strax apart on account of their similar heights. His brains are scrambled, obviously, and for this same reason, he doesn't seem to know what a bedroom is, but as we'll discover, an inability to recognize Clara's attractiveness will be a major component of his character. To its credit, the script actually comments on the last 9 years of flirting Doctors. First, by making the Doctor flirt with a dinosaur, showing how ridiculous it all actually is when you consider the age and species difference between him and any given companion, Second, and less superficially, Vastra makes the point that his youthful appearance in past regenerations were a form of flirting, and a way to be accepted. Even the Doctor fesses up to one of his mistakes being that he liked to imagine himself as the companion's boyfriend. It's plain that the era is over. At the same time, the episode also makes clear that it's NOT because he is played by an older actor, making sure to show Doc12 as an action man, jumping out of windows, onto horses, off bridges and so on. Questioning established beliefs will be part of parcel of his character in the same way, whether it's bedrooms, conclusions or the Doctor/companion relationship.

We were also promised a darker Doctor, one that is already seeking redemption, almost before the fact. On the surface of it, he thinks he has "cross eyebrows", and his Scottish accent migration (something we can only assume he took from Amy, even if it's not the first time he's been a Scot) gives him even more license to be angry at the world. He's rude too. And abandons Clara a number of times without so much as a by your leave, or an explanation. They bicker, but it doesn't seem pointless like his relationship with Tegan or Peri often did. They are both truth-tellers, headstrong and opinionated, but ultimately accepting of each other's flaws. Over the course of the season, I'll have better occasion to discuss their relationship which I thought was a highlight of Series 8. The Doctor's innate darkness creates a bit of a tug of war within the episode. It's asking us to accept him, and yet not trust him. It culminates in the climactic scene aboard the "escape pod", in which the clockwork man either jumped out or was pushed out. We're not allowed to see which, and the Doctor looks right into the camera afterwards, shockingly, daring us to judge him. The makeover is complete in the duo's last scene, with a slightly redesigned TARDIS interior - I love the book cases and homier feel - and a costume harking back to Pertwee's stage magician look. His personality has settled down, and we have before us a man who wants to be accepted as much as his previous selves did, but finds he has no real way to express it. When the TARDIS lands and Clara asks if she's home, she means to leave and go to her house; he answers, if you like, telling her the TARDIS is still her home, if she can accept all the changes. After Doc11's phone call, Capaldi shows a real vulnerability, and still words fail him. There's just enough heartbreak there to make us fall in love with him, I think, and Clara does.

We should discuss the new opening sequence, directly inspired by (and credited to) a fan-made video which also used clockwork and clock motifs to create the usual time vortex imagery. Personally, I love it. It's a different take, but recognizable. It's retro and steampunk (and in this episode actually relates to the monsters), and features the Doctor's eyes, as seen in the 50th Anniversary special, his trademark. I'm just not sure about the music, which seems to have returned to its 50-year-old roots, more spare and strange than the orchestral versions the last decade has made us used to, but being old-fashioned, it lacks punch. Visually, the program seems more bleached out than previous Doctors' adventures have been, though this may have to do with the setting. We're certainly a far cry from RTD's acid greens and purples, and glowing golds. Tonally, it's like the Doctor. It hasn't yet settled down. There's darkness and tension, and as before, winks to the past (my favorite bit is Capaldi's face in a silver tray, a literal mirror of a sequence from the very first post-regeneration story, though I'm also partial to the joke about the usefulness of Amy's long legs), but also dumb jokes that spoil the mood, like the automatic lock chirping on Vastra's carriage and Vastra's ridiculous attempts at getting all the female characters to disrobe for her.

Likewise, the plot is complete hogwash of what I call the kitchen sink variety. The TARDIS gets lodged in a giant T-Rex's throat and it time travels to Victorian London with it (shades here of Invasion of the Dinosaurs, perhaps to put us in 3rd Doctor kind of mood). The clockwork men from The Girl in the Fireplace are back and have taken their ship's modus operandi as their own, replacing their own parts with human and animal ones for millions of years. They run a restaurant that's actually their ship, are seeking the "Promised Land" or Paradise (what?), and only recognize living beings when they sense their breaths (it makes for a harrowing sequence when Clara tries to run from them without breathing, but seeing as there's a "control node", it should know who's in the hive and who isn't). And then there's the idea that they harvest organs through a process that causes spontaneous combustion, which isn't really explored or used very well. Oh, and Vastra and Strax are now walking around London without anyone saying anything, and the police are complete morons at her beck and call... Truly, the plot is definitely the weakest aspect of Deep Breath.

At least Moffat has a way of interweaving the episode and season's themes into the action. The most important of these is identity. The Doctor is in search of his new one, of course, but it's also about what part outside appearances play in that quest. Faces become a leitmotif, as does the inability to recognize people. The Doctor looks different, but at one point, even wears one of the clockwork men's faces. He also wonders where he "gets" the faces, because this one seems familiar, a wink at Capaldi previously playing a Roman in The Fires of Pompeii, but also broaches the idea that the subconscious "choice" is a message with deep meaning. If, as I've always contended, the new Doctor is always a reaction to the previous one's weaknesses and death, then Doc12 rejects the role of beloved community leader Doc11 had become on Trenzalore. The broom metaphor he uses on the clockwork men applies equally to himself; how much can you change of anything until it is no longer itself? How much can the production team change the show and still be allowed to call it "Doctor Who"? Conversely, the Doctor cannot recognize Clara at first, a shtick shared, redundantly but he did it first, with Strax, who could never tell if Clara was a girl or a boy (and ridiculously - see dumb jokes again - if she's wearing clothes or not, etc.). Vastra and Jenny putting on the appearance of an employer/maid relationship is likewise couched in that theme, as the pretense has a way of becoming the truth. There's transference between Clara and the Doctor that's part of this idea, and which will be sustained through to episode 12. She's the old veteran and he's the newbie, which isn't just a matter of casting, but of personality. When they find an ad in the paper, each thinks it's from the other, and their less-than-glowing evaluation of their partner creates an amusing misunderstanding. Each thinks of the other as an egomaniacal control freak. Over the course of the series, we'll see Clara acting as the Doctor's proxy, taking HIS traditional role, and the seeds are sown here. And of course, there's Missy from the final scene, teasing the Series' arc (see Theories), a character whose identity is shrouded in mystery, and who most certainly has had another identity. Another theme is abandonment. The Doctor abandons Clara no less than three times in Deep Breath and Clara tries to do the same at the end. As we'll discover, it's a game they BOTH play several times over the course of the series. There's more foreshadowing of future episodes too (especially the finale), from the use of cannibal cyborgs (the idea will return) to Vastra getting one of the Brigadier's most famous lines, to the Doctor's mistrust of beds and Clara's job as a school teacher getting play (note the first appearance of her difficult pupil Courtney).

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - The plot is unfortunately nonsense, but the two principals put in excellent performances - I feel like Clara's character is better revealed than she ever was, for example. The exercise in making us accept an entirely new Doctor, whether you think it was necessary or not (and Classic Who fans will likely think it wasn't), creates coherent and sometimes illuminating themes, which is where Deep Breath's logic rests, as opposed to the nuts and bolts of its plot. Obviously, introducing a new Doctor will always jack up the score. Put this same story in the middle of a season, and it would fall on the weaker side of Medium.

A NOTE ON SPOILERS:
These reviews will spoil the featured episode, and make mostly veiled allusions to what's coming. Because it's all very fresh still, with some fans still trying to catch up and others waiting for the DVD set to be released, let these fans be wary. If you read each review just after you've watched the episode, you may get spoiled on some details. If not by me (and I'll be careful, especially with the chosen pictures), then quite possibly by the comments section. If you're up to date and chomping at the bit to discuss a particular aspect of Season 8, do try to address it when the proper episode rolls around to avoid this kind of thing happening to less current readers. Thanks!

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

"My" old series Doctor was Jon Pertwee, so I had no trouble at all warming to Capaldi. (Makes me wish Moffat and crew had been able to write some Pertwee adventures ... I wonder if we can slap a wig on Sean Pertwee?)

What's strange to me is that this Doctor is the most insecure and haunted Doctor yet; this is the Doctor who needs the most reassurance that he isn't a callous monster, and he needs to know that from Clara most of all. Perhaps it's because this is the first "new" Doctor whose psyche was not formed under the awareness of having destroyed Gallifrey; the capacity for doubt and self-examination is greater in Capaldi because it had been suppressed in 9, 10, and 11 just to allow him to function. I can't imagine 9, 10, or 11 being quite as unflinchingly candid: "I have the horrible feeling that I'm going to have to kill you. I thought you might appreciate a drink first. I know I would."

As with all of RTD's and Moffat's Doctors (even 8 and the War Doctor with their one-shots), I fell for Capaldi almost immediately; no settling-in period is required the way it was for most of the old series Doctors. I very much buy him as a man with a cranky side but also a real vulnerability, going through a lot of self-doubt but not letting that stop him from doing his best. But as much as I enjoyed 8/War/9/10/11, 12 hit me with a new sensation: I want to see Peter Capaldi star in every single TV show. Obviously not a realistic wish, but it speaks to Capaldi's watchability and rewatchability.

As for the plot of this episode, a bunch of stuff happened. I'm content to leave it at that, because really it was less a story and more an opportunity to set this season in motion.

Anonymous said...

It also occurs to me that the Doctor had just left his longest regeneration yet (something like 1000 years, give or take) and he was probably very settled into Matt Smithness by the end. Suddenly not being Matt Smith must have been more jarring than, say, suddenly not being Tom Baker (only seven years or so, barely enough time to get acquainted).

Siskoid said...

True, though your example is perhaps not the best. There's every indication that a couple hundred years pass between The Deadly Assassin and The Face of Evil.

What IS the shortest stint for a Doctor? The 9th's, presumably?

Ryan Lohner said...

Anon: Sean Pertwee actually did dress up as his dad for Halloween this year.

The first thing I should say is that I liked a lot of this season. So the majority of my comments won't be as negative as this one unfortunately is.

The only thing I'm familiar with Capaldi from (besides his previous Who guest spot) is the film Local Hero, which if you haven't seen is well worth the watch. "I'm still HERE, Happer!" And I found myself instantly accepting him, which made a lot of this episode feel a bit unnecessary. Moffat handled this sort of thing perfectly in Eleven's first episode, with him begging Amy and by extension us to just trust him for half an hour and he'd show us he was worth that trust. This is far more overbearing by comparison and just comes off as very insecure.

And now for something anyone who's read my Babylon 5 comments probably suspected was coming: I grow more and more consternated with Moffat's portrayal of lesbianism every time it comes up. He almost always treats it as nothing more than a cheap gag, something that will render each and every male character in everything he writes near-catatonic (this is especially weird in Sherlock, where you'd think Watson's gay sister would have made him used to the idea). At first Vastra and Jenny were a welcome reprieve from this, presented as a genuine and quite sweet couple, but it's now quite apparent that Moffat has run out of ideas for them and here he returns to his comfort zone with scene after scene of "They're GAY! Isn't that WACKY?" At least Strax is still awesome as usual. I want him to have his own show.

I never cared much for the Missy story. Her identity was quite easy for me to guess and there's so little forward movement on the story until the finale that I spent the whole season just watching the clock and waiting for the show to catch up to where I already was, hoping against hope it would actually surprise me. But no, it really was just that obvious.

We never did find out the significance of the Doctor forgetting the clockwork robots, did we? I mean, I'd be happy to put it down to just one more piece of regeneration weirdness, but the moment where he fails to make the connection is so clearly played as a Big Important Scene that it's just bizarre not to have any follow-up.

Siskoid said...

Local Hero? I'll look it up. I knew him from The Thick of It, obviously.

I didn't attach any important significance to his amnesia regarding the clockwork men. It's far from the only connection he couldn't make in this episode. His brains were scrambled. metaphorically, it also acts as a severed tie with past interpretations. Or we can just say that the events of The Girl in the Fireplace are so long ago (more than a thousand years), it now escapes him.

Ryan Lohner said...

It's now perhaps best known as the favorite film of Kevin Murphy of MST3k, causing it to be referenced in the episode Monster-a-Go-Go as the film they would presumably get to watch if they won the rigged karaoke contest.

Randal said...

Whoa...I looked up that Sean Pertwee Halloween picture. Awesome. David Troughton has already aped his dad for a Big Finish production...seriously, let's get Sean to go the distance!

Strax I enjoy. Jenny's fine. This episode made me loathe Vastra, though.

LiamKav said...

I also have some issues with the portrayl of homosexuality on the show, but you have to remember who it's aimed at: the family (including children) watching together at dinnertime on a Saturday. This isn't an "adult" show where we can have Proper Serious Conversations about it. I think the approach of RTD and Moffat has always been to portray sex in general as something a bit silly and fun. It's an automatic defence mechanism against the moral guardians claiming that two women kissing is Corrupting the Children.

Regarding longest lifespans: We don't know how long the 9th Doctor was the 9th Doctor. He seems to be newly regenerated in "Rose", but he's apparently been on lots of adventures according to Clive's research. Also, if you want, you could easily put in a big gap of several hundred years between him disappearing at the end of the episode and then returning with "did I mention that it also travels in time?"

The 10th Doctor said his age on several occasions, and if we believe him and a line by the Eleventh in "Flesh and Stone", then the 10th was around at maximum for less than 7 years.

Of course, this does bring up the whole weirdness of why RTD stuck with 900 years even thought it conflicted with the 7th Doctor's age, but then we always get back to the standard excuse him and Moffat give of "he doesn't know how old he is". The 1,000 years on Christmas has to be fairly accurate though, since he wasn't travelling in time for them.

Personally, I expect Missy to turn out to be Byron. That's why we've been told to remember him. It's to combat against regeneration amnesia!

Anonymous said...

LOL, LiamKav, ya big goofball!

Siskoid said...

I predict that joke may get old, but it will always be remembered.

Martin Léger said...

"an inability to recognize Clara's attractiveness"

Most unbelievable aspect of Doctor Who so far.

LiamKav said...

"I predict that joke may get old, but it will always be remembered."

Unlike Draal...

Anonymous said...

""an inability to recognize Clara's attractiveness"

Most unbelievable aspect of Doctor Who so far."

Which, perhaps, says something about why this incarnation of the Doctor is old. The previous few Doctors regenerated under the impression that they were no longer part of one of the oldest races in the universe (said race being gone), and so 9/10/11 gravitated towards being human in ways that don't make the same sense to 12. While 9/10/11 perhaps considered making a new life and a family among humans at some time, 12 has internalized the "half your age plus seven" rule, so Clara isn't even a candidate in his head. Now a tyrannosaurus ...

Nicholas Yankovec said...

This season also has a new time slot in the UK, around 8.30pm, way past tea time. I expect this is the main reason for the drop in ratings this year. This time of year in the UK is when all the top reality shows drop, so it was moved later as Strictly Come Dancing has the tea time slot, so then it has to compete against X-Factor, another reason for losing ratings.

I could almost believe that the BBC is trying to cancel the show.

LiamKav said...

"I could almost believe that the BBC is trying to cancel the show."

Only if you're basing that on a complete lack of understanding of the TV landscape and listening to the nonsense the tabloid press sprout.

Moffat has said, pretty much from day one that he prefers Autumn timeslots, because Doctor Who feels like a show that should be watched when the nights are getting darker. Strictly Come Dancing will always have priority with the BBC, so it's basically in the only place it can go. As only half of the viewing audience actually watch the show "live", I'm not sure how much difference a specific timeslot makes. Besides, if anything SCD should be a hell of a lead-in, considering the number of families that are probably watching it.

The "drop in ratings" story has been trotted out every year since Tennant's first season, and it's continues to be varying degrees of nonsense. It is simply impossible to rate TV nowadays the same way we did 5 years ago. Almost all TV has lower ratings than it used to. Downton Abbey and X-Factor's ratings are 10% less than they were in 2013, for instance. This season is Doctor Who is the first time EVER that the first four episodes of a season have all been in the top ten of the ratings charts.

This series averaged 7.35 million viewers. The prior one averaged 7.45 million, and the one before that was 6.98 million.

And, of course, none of these ratings include people watching on iPlayer, and it's known that Doctor Who is the most watched program on iPlayer. Each episode average about 1.6m requests.

So if the BBC are trying to cancel one of their most profitable exports, they're going about it in a really bad way.

Nicholas Yankovec said...

Maybe you're right about the ratings, it's hard to know for sure. But that doesn't change the fact that many families I know with young children have stopped watching, or at least the children have. Still seems peculiar to take a popular family tea time show then show it two hours later up against one the UKs most (unbelievably) popular shows.

There's a great routine about sitting down with the family to watch Doctor Who that so many of my friends enjoyed with their family. And I don't think its an experience that can be replicated by iplayer. In fact, I know it's not, hence why I know about 20 young kids that don't watch it anymore, and any way you look at it, that's a huge shame.

Anonymous said...

At this point, I imagine they would need a really good reason to cancel "Doctor Who". There is something iconic about "Doctor Who" that I have to believe offsets whatever perceived ratings underperformance one might accuse it of. There is probably no BBC programme that is better recognized throughout the world, or (I would bet) as warmly received.

Even "Trial of a Timelord" probably would have been a ratings smash if it had been immediately available to international audiences back in the day.

Toby'c said...

The line "Nothing is more important than my egomania!" had me giggling for a very long time. And personally I loved most of the jokes from Strax.

Madeley said...

A rock solid episode, and Capaldi is brilliant from the outset. Oddly enough, though, the high quality of the rest of the series has lowered this episode in my estimation in retrospect- it seems to still have a few hangovers from the Matt Smith era (including Matt Smith himself of course) that are a little too backwards looking, and not really in keeping with the excellent new vibe of the show. I mean, unlike some I like the Vastra trio, and I understand using them in a transitional episode, but it's a lot more satisfying when the series ploughs a new furrow.

Speaking of which, the line about needing a drink is so *adult*, particularly with an older doctor following a more childlike one (not to mention drinking not being something we associate with any incarnation of the character), that it really struck hard.

The direction for this episode is absolutely excellent, as well. I'm not someone who usually notices that kind of thing, but the way the episode is shot is striking. The decision to have Capaldi stare straight at the camera isn't only a shock in context for the viewer, but also a confrontational and ambitious way of calling back to similar shots in Caves of Androzani; audacious indeed for the Moff to bring to mind the story rightfully considered Who's best ever.

Regarding the show's ratings: the British tabloid press are lying liars who lie, not fit to be used as toilet paper. The show's detractors who've said that the ratings have dropped are talking utter nonsense, as noted above. On the other hand, what has been a disappointment is that the new series was unable to capitalise on the boost in viewers and interest from the 50th Anniversary. All in all, neither damaging nor encouraging, but business as usual for the show. The programme's going nowhere, and the BBC aren't trying to kill it off.

It should definitely be on earlier, though.

LiamKav said...

Moffat gives an interview where he compared Deep Breath with The Eleventh Hour, specifically how Smith's first episode jetisons EVERYTHING. A guy succeeding the most popular Doctor since Tom Baker, with a new production team, and what do they do? Give us a new Doctor, new companion, new Tardis interior, new Tardis exterior, new title sequence (first replacement the new series ever had), new "home" base (sleepy countryside vs London estate). It was daring. It was also, Moffat admits, a slightly bonkers thing to do. Partly as a result of wanting to do something different, and partly because they are probably aware that selling an older Doctor is a much harder deal, Moffat said that this series is a more deliberate transition piece. There are lots of Eleventh Doctor style things in Deep Breath (and, to be fair, there are Tenth Doctor mannerisms even in The Eleventh Hour). The show will take on more of it's own identity as we go forward.

This episode also marks the beginning of the "roughening up" of Clara's character. Someone on here (I forget who, sorry), mentioned that the problem they had with Clara was the overwhelming feeling that we were being told to love her. She had her little theme tune, she saved Every Single Doctor Ever, she was amazing. For series 8, that's changing. She has issues with the new Doctor even though she knows he's had lots of faces. She also gets a bit more comedy abuse, such as Strax throwing the newspaper at her face (which, I'll admit, made me laugh out loud).

Side fact: My 70 year old parents never got on with Matt Smith. They found him a bit wet. They loved Tennant though, and they're liking Capaldi so far. Different strokes...

Siskoid said...

Madeley: Other Doctors have been drinkers, most notably Hartnell's, and Pertwee's. 10 has a drunk scene but he's probably faking it. Jackie asks if 9 drinks and Rose confirms he does. But you're right, the whole "have a drink, I'm about to kill you" is rather more adult than all that.

Liam: Thanks for the behind the scenes info... did you guys pick up any habits from the B5 reviews, or what?

LiamKav said...

Behind the scenes info, cheap jokes about Higgs-Byron, we cna do it all.

9 also has a pint in front of him during the dinner scene in Boom Town. Moffat has answered the question as to whether the Tenth Doctor was drunk or not is deliberatly amgbiguous... he's either faking it, or Time Lord psysiology enables him to get rid of the effects of alcohol.

Cradok said...

Hrmm. First off, even though it belongs back in the review of 'Name', I'm very much not a fan of this being the first of a new regeneration cycle, and even less so with the whole 'Am I a good man?' thing that 12 has going on. It seems to me to be more someone looking at the end of their life thing, rather than the start of a whole new existence.

Other than that, I wasn't a fan of the Doctor up until about the three-quarter point - when he removed the Matt Smith mask he's wearing - at which point I really liked him, the coldness, the ambiguity, the 'I'm going to have to kill you'. The whole senile, 'pudding-brain' insult hurling version really didn't appeal.

The rest of the episode I could mostly take or leave. Some of the Strax bits were funny, the paper and the 'men doing sports' in particular, and Jenny's always done something for me. Vastra, yeah, not pleasant. The plot, it's almost both too referential and not referential enough at the same time. Why copy a previous plot if it's not actually going to mean anything?

And then we have 'The Impossible Girl'. It vaguely annoyed me that that whole aspect was dropped for the Anniversary and Christmas specials last year, but I figured that with Day being the big event and being released in cinemas, and Time being the Christmas episode and Smith's last, they didn't want to over-complicate things and that it would get dealt with in the new season, but not a word of it. Does she even remember anything? Lots of things in this episode suggest no, but it's not brought up.

LondonKdS said...

Unfortunately I think that's going to be an ongoing flaw of Moffat's work. This is the guy, remember, who kept the important revelation that Amy could remember all of her many alternate pasts for a DVD extra.

Cradok said...

See, that bit I didn't know. We knew Rory did, but nothing about Amy.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

Very weak plotting indeed, but the character interaction- when they could tear themselves away from the Paternosta Gang to let the Doctor and Clara have it- was strong, at least. Not a promising start, for me... but things got much better.

"They run a restaurant that's actually their ship, are seeking the "Promised Land" or Paradise (what?),"
It makes even less sense when they finally reveal the 'promised land.' It makes no sense for robots to be seeking it at all, or setting course for it as if it were a physical location several episodes since, or seeking it by prolonging life...

"Strax I enjoy. Jenny's fine. This episode made me loathe Vastra, though." - Randal
Agreed! She was like a fortune cookie, saying all these supposedly 'wise' things that were total doublespeak. The episode especially failed on metaphors- wearing a veil in judgement on men's evil hearts for thinking... that she has a skin condition, which is a natural assumption considering their only experience is with humans. Yeah, it's supposed to represent something else, but as presented, is nonsensical (plus, she is JUDGING them, which si apparently okay, for the crime of JUDGING her, which is bad). Or Jenny responding to Clara's question about if Vastra was suddenly different by saying 'And different? Well, she's a lizard.' It's supposed to sound clever, but Clara was clearly asking about the theoretical situation in which Vastra became a different person from who she currently was, not if she was 'different' from Jenny.


"The 10th Doctor said his age on several occasions, and if we believe him and a line by the Eleventh in "Flesh and Stone", then the 10th was around at maximum for less than 7 years. "
Didn't he reference 'running' for something like 200 years between Waters of Mars and End of Time in the latter?

I think the strongest candidates for shortest-running Doctor are the 2nd (contiguous companions all the way through with no major signs of aging, but possibly ameliated by the Series 6B theory) and 3rd (contiguous real-world relationships all through his run, unless you postulate a long period of TARDIS trips in-between Green Death and Time Warrior). Fifth is also possible. He had a contiguous run, though it squeezed a few years in between Time Flight and Arc of Infinity that could bump him higher than 2 or 3, possibly. But I'd say those three are the best candidates for probably-shortest-lives. (Factoring in, as you say, the evidence of trips from Clive for the 9th... which could still only be a few weeks' worth and make him the shortest incarnation- or years and years worth, leaving his status uncertain).

Siskoid said...

The robots' interest in the Promised Land can be explained. They may have been misled by Missy or rumors laid by Missy. And after all, the Clockwork Man DOES arrive in Heaven by episode's end, because it's not souls she's collecting, it's operating systems.

Ten doesn't reference 200 years of running, no. You might be taking that figure from the gap between the two versions of Doc11 in The Impossible Astronaut.

3rd could definitely have had side-adventures in the Sarah Jane era, because she wasn't a live-in companion. And the way he is killed adds hundreds of years on his "age", but I suppose that doesn't count in relative time. I think you're right about 9. Even Clive's research could realistically span only days or weeks, and onscreen evidence supports a very short time span.

 

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