Friday, April 20, 2007


I don't have many O'Bservations this week re: "Gridlock", the latest episode of 'Doctor Who'. It was an enjoyable adventure that could be perceived as a stand-alone - if you wanted to ignore the dying message from the Face of Boe. (I'm surprised how many times I saw that simple name misspelled over the last few days in other posts. It's not like it was never printed out on screen! Check "The Long Game" for a screen cap of it.)

Speaking of "The Long Game", the caption for the news report on him said that the Face of Boe was pregnant back in 200,000 AD. So apparently the Face of Boe outlived his/her/its offspring, since he (I'll stick with that gender, thanks) claimed to be the last of his kind.

The prophetic message that the Face of Boe delayed in giving to the Doctor and which had become the stuff of legend over time?

"You are not alone."

Why do dying messages have to be so cryptic? Why couldn't the Face of Boe just said, "Look, mate. There's another Time Lord still running about and you'll find him down at Trader Vic's. But just in case, he's staying at the Hotel Taft on 28th...."

You know, something a bit more specific.

That was just an example, of course. Everybody is expecting another Time Lord to show up before the season is over. After all, the last episode is to be called "Last Of The Time Lords".

But if so, who's it to be? The rumor is that John Simm has been cast in the role, but is he going to be appearing as The Master? The Meddling Monk? Professor Chronotis? A very butch Romana?

I've heard it said that RTD hates the idea of The Master, but if they're going to be reviving at least one great villain from the old Series each season (and the guest villain of 'Gridlock' doesn't count!), then The Master would be perfect. (Although I would have preferred that the Doctor tangled with an earlier incarnation of his old foe, instead of having to keep dealing with that "no more regeneration" stuff that got tiresome and even illogical.)

And with the mention earlier this season that the Doctor had a brother ("not any more"), it gave birth to the idea that the Doctor's and the Master's enmity for each other goes back to the nursery!

Here's another interpretation for "You are not alone": there's a new Face of Boe. And it's already in a symbiotic relationship with the Doctor - as the mole on his back that appeared with the newly regenerated tenth body.

Okay, that's a bit out there......

Is anybody else as tired as I am by this incarnation of the Doctor always yelling at people? Maybe the shopkeepers weren't the most ethical of entrepeneurs, but they really weren't hurting anybody. Certainly not enough to get the threat of being wiped out by the Doctor, in a "moneychangers at the temple" sort of backlash.

As the Second Doctor is my favorite, it was nice to see that a connection was made to one of his past adventures, especially as that story has been lost to the ages. Only a few seconds of footage remain from that episode featuring the Macra. (And my friend Michael says there's an audio track of the entire story with accompanying picture book.)

Without existing video, I bet most of today's audience would just dismiss Television's past as being apocryphal. For them, this gave the Macra some legitimacy, even if the King Crabs have devolved since last seen.

I figure the Macra ended up on that planet ages before - if it wasn't their original home planet - and over time, lost all the prior knowledge their species had, becoming the beasts that their ancestors once were. (If the castaways of 'Lost' were stuck there for generations, I'm sure the same thing would happen to their descendants without some influx from the Others.)

In May of 2006, I wrote about the race of sentient cats that were running the hospital of "New Earth" and connected them to 'Red Dwarf'. Now we've met Brannigan and I think the theory still holds up. You can read it here.

The marriage of Brannigan and Valerie - with the litter of kitties - certainly illustrated the Doctor's claim that humans went out into space to "dance" with alien races. It's just too bad some CGI couldn't have been employed to make those kittens have some human traits.

And for my last note, a bit o' Toobworld fun:

Like the reference to Emmeline Pankhurst, we got a historical reference to somebody who had an impact on the Doctor's life. This time we found out that the overcoat he's currently sporting was a gift from blues/rock legend Janis Joplin.

Janis Joplin has been portrayed by several different actresses over the years on Television. (And several times for the movies, but the Cineverse isn't our focus here.) And even though we generally give a pass to historical characterizations when it comes to the differences in appearance due to recasting, some of these Joplins had to be relegated to other TV dimensions.

The portrayal I would keep in the main Toobworld would be in a tele-flick called "Sweetwater". It chronicled the nearly true-life story of a band at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. (A big divergence from the real world Sweetwater - the movie claimed that they opened the festival. In real life, Richie Havens opened, and Sweetwater was the fifth band onstage. But for Toobworld, the difference can be allowed in much the same way we accept that Bette Ford actually talked to Mary Richards in an episode of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'.)

Erin Wright played Janis in "Sweetwater", and the main reason I like her for the official televersion of Janis Joplin is that she later played her in an episode of the Stephen King anthology mini-series 'Nightmares And Dreamscapes' from last summer. It was the perfect coda to Joplin's life from a Toobworld perspective. (The name of the episode was "You Know They Got One Hell Of A Band", and if you can't find the anthology yet in DVD, try reading the story to find out what happened.)

Now, if 'Doctor Who' has switched back to showing us the Doctor of Earth Prime-Time, then I would say that he met the Janis Joplin of "Sweetwater" and 'Nightmares And Dreamscapes'. But if the show is still stuck in the alternate dimension in which Harriet Jones was the Prime Minister and Big Ben was destroyed, then I'd sugggest that the Janis Joplin who gave that coat to the Doctor was played by Bonnie McKee in an episode of 'American Dreams' ("Shoot The Moon").

'American Dreams', the story of a family in Philadelphia against the backdrop of the old 'American Bandstand' TV show, had far too many Zonks to make it worthwhile fighting to keep it in Earth Prime Time. (Paris Hilton as Barbara Eden filming 'I Dream Of Jeannie' was the breaking point for me!) So off it went to another dimension where it might as well have a passing acquaintance to the current 'Doctor Who' incarnation.

There's another movie, a short directed by Griffin Dunne called "Duke Of Groove", which starred Tobey McGuire, Uma Thurman, Kiefer Sutherland, Kate Capshaw, Elliot Gould, and Udo Keir. It was a man's remembrance of when he was a teenager and was taken to a Hollywood party by his Mom to avoid finding out that his father was abandoning the family. Janis was one of the guests he encountered there.

The (not always the most reliable of sources) lists the short film as being a TV product. And yet it says it was also nominated for an Oscar. To be nominated, the movie has to premiere first in a theatre, so I think the Cineverse has to claim this version of Janis Joplin. (And based on that cast list, I'd say "Duke Of Groove" is definitely from the movie universe!)

So that's the Toobworld take on the episode. For someone who originally claimed to have not much to say about the episode, I did ramble on, didn't I?

Toby OB

1 comment:

MediumRob said...

The BBC's Doctor Who podcast this week is quite helpful: RTD apparently was thinking of the "alligators down the sewer" urban myth, and imagined the Macra were in a zoo and escaped down below.

As for "You are not alone", David Tennant says that the Face of Boe is both right and wrong at the same time. This suggests that maybe John Simm isn't playing The Master, but is playing the Doctor - but maybe one from the alternate universe of series two, or an earlier Valeyard type version. But Who knows?