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Bye Clara. Miss Ya.

jennaSo Clara, the formally ‘Impossible Girl’, is soon to be no more. Whether she will walk of her own free will, or meet a dastardly end, Jenna Coleman’s companion is to leave during season 9.

So here’s a few heat of the moment thoughts on that.

Yeah.

Let’s get this out of the way first: I LOVED Clara. Okay, I’m easy. I may be alone in fandom in that I don’t hate any main cast member with the fury of a white-hot Sun. Oh, I have my faves, but I don’t really dislike anyone. Adric may find it difficult to remember how to walk across a room believably at times, but I still don’t mind him.

I’m such an easy trollop.

Doctor-Who-stars-Jenna-Louise-Coleman-and-Matt-Smith

There have been some complaints here or there about Clara, especially about the consistency of her character. I see the same character start to end, but it’s certainly true that she was developed massively when Capaldi appeared. For example, that ‘control freak’ aspect was always there, just not directly pointed out until Capaldi did so. I mean, Clara dictated the terms of her travels with Eleven. She would not be travelling full-time, he would come and collect her on the day of her choosing each week. Nothing control freaky about that, right…?

You could even make a case for it in her first appearance, in Asylum of The Daleks. Even trapped and alone, she ‘s leading Eleven a merry dance. She’s IN CONTROL. He’s the one running after her.

cap 9

Was she hamstrung a little by being a mystery when she first appeared? Not for me. Some said they found it difficult to get to grips with someone who is THE BIG MYSTERY THAT MUST BE SOLVED. But it was only ever there for half a season, and then tidied away. Solved. Done. Plus, it was only really a mild focus in, what, a couple of the episodes? I don’t buy that the character was only defined by the mystery. I think the real problem is that the mystery was SO at the forefront of many peoples minds, that they focussed on that and overlooked the character. When it was all done with, they suddenly just had Clara and perhaps hadn’t taken her in fully as a person. For me, there was more to her than the mystery right from the start.

Jenna-Louise-Coleman-oswin-oswald-33847351-487-609

But enough of all that, let’s remember all the ACE STUFF. That attack on Twelve at the end of Kill The Moon. The restaurant convo with tramp Twelve in Deep Breath. How she talked the Doctor’s into doing the right thing in Day of The Doctor. ALL THE OUTFITS. The speech to Young Doctor Who in Listen. The phone call with an almost-gone Eleven at the end of Deep Breath. The surprise of her appearance in Asylum, falling for her, then realising she’s a blooming Dalek! Old Clara in Last Christmas. Hugging Twelve against his will. Jumping from Doctor to Doctor at the start of Name Of. And on, and on, and on. So many brilliant moments, stories and performances.

c tardis

Jenna is one of the finest actors to ever grace the main cast. TRUTH. And, the lucky so-and-so, she got to appear in two of the finest, all time top ten stories in the shows long history: Day of the Doctor and Listen. I for one am thankful for her time on the show, and can’t wait for another series of her and Capaldi, running through all of time and space.

And then… and then… as Who must always do… things will change…

@doctorwhothing

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Listen: or ‘HOLY CRAP-ON-A-CRACKER, IT’S AMAZING-!’

Listen

Listen…

LISTEN

Good Lordy Lord. As I believe the kids would say, ‘I can’t even?!?!’

Ladies and gents, we have a new classic on our hands. For me, this is one of the finest episodes of modern Who. In fact, of all Who. After the credits rolled I actually had to stand and pace the room, my insides were juddering; this was something special. With this episode, Moffat once again confirms why, when he’s firing on all cylinders, he’s one of the very best writers Who has ever had. Perhaps even the best. Yeah, you heard me Holmes fans..! (Yes, yes, Holmes is bloody brilliantly amazing too, alright?! They’re both champs! Holding hands (perhaps kissing) atop Mount Who)  He can just make any surrounding episodes look resolutely ordinary.

‘Listen’ is all about fear; more specifically it’s about childhood fear, fear of the nothing, fear of the illogical, fear of the dark and what might be quietly waiting in there, looking back at us. Childhood fears can be irrational, imaginary, and grip like a vice. They can bubble up and affect us as adults, you never fully leave them behind, and in the Doctor’s case it seems it can actually shape who you are and how you choose to live. The Doctor became a man who rather than give in to fear, rather than spend his life crying in the dark, will make a point of leaping into shadowed corners waving a stick around, just to see what might come slithering out. He’s learned to refuse to let his fear debilitate him, for the Doctor fear is a superpower. In this episode he can’t quite accept that his fear is potentially irrational, that he may only be afraid of the imagined, and so tries to put a face (or tentacle) to his terror.

listen clara

Now this won’t be for everyone, because there’s no monster at the end to clearly identify, only the monsters of the mind (OR ARE THEY?! *WOOOOOOOO…!*). No CGI or rubber creature to pull into the light and dispatch, the monster exists in the Doctor’s imagination (OR DOES IT?! *WOOOOOO….you get the idea). ‘Listen’ is basically an exploration of the Doctor’s psyche, into just what makes him tick. What makes the Time Lord scared? What makes him jump into the dark to see what’s there? This is absorbing, brave stuff for Saturday night family entertainment. Despite the fact Who fans like to trumpet the elasticity of the shows format, when it actually does attempt to step outside of it’s usual boundries, a section of fans don’t like it (Hello ‘Love & Monsters’..!). Well TOUGH.

Many complain that there’s no clear resolution to the episode, was there a monster or wasn’t there? Perhaps there was. Perhaps there wasn’t. Perhaps there was one under that blanket, but not outside the door, or vice versa. But you’re missing the point. As I said, this is about childhood fears, the fear of the irrational, for that to keep its potency it must remain forever under the bed, forever in the closet, forever just out of view and shrouded from the absolute. Maybe it was all in the Doctor’s head. Maybe it wasn’t. But the FEAR was real, and will remain so.

OH! And the Doctor himself? He’s amazing, and brave, and wonderful…. and he was also a small boy, alone in his bed, crying because he was afraid of the dark. What a wonderful thing to show children watching this show, that there’s nothing to be ashamed of, even a man as marvelous as the Doctor once wept whilst curled up alone and frightened in bed.

‘Listen’; it’s creepy, thought provoking, moving, clever, funny: in short,  it’s the very best of Who, and I love it. 

listen dan

So what did you think of Listen? And did you fall for it as hard as I did?

@DoctorWhoThing

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‘Buried Treasure’

doctor-and-clara1907. A field somewhere. Probably Cumbria.

Billings was crouched in the dirt at the bottom of a five foot deep trench, methodically scraping layers of soil aside with a trowel. Local people spoke of a falling star crashing to Earth and burrowing into the ground; nonsense of course, but most tall tales have a basis in fact. Billing’s was certain something was down here, and he refused to stop until he uncovered just what.

Yes, he was sure that this would be a significant find, something that would finally make his name back at the-

… the thought remained unfinished as his trowel scraped against something solid. His heart beating fast, Billings took out his brush and swept the dirt aside to reveal… words?

‘Free for use of public.’ Said Billings aloud.

Within thirty minutes he’d uncovered the whole surface area of the buried object. Doors. Blue doors. The thing must have been nine or ten feet long.

‘It’s a police box. Why on Earth would anyone bury such a thing?’

‘Well, it’s a bit of a long story.’ Came a voice. It was a man’s voice, slightly muffled. It was, Billing’s was unhappy to realise, coming from within the police box itself.

‘You’re going to have to shove the doors open!’

Billings blinked twice.

‘I..? Could you repeat that?’

‘The doors, give ’em a shove, I’m on lockdown in here ‘cos of the power drain, give them a stamp and they might dislodge!’

Billings faltered, unsure what to do.

‘Come on then, stampy-stamp time!’ Came the voice once again.

‘Right. Right then.’ Billings breathed in and out heavily, then kicked down with the heel of one boot. The police box doors beneath him swung inwards, Billings leaping back at the last second to prevent himself from falling inside.

He staggered backwards until he was pressed up against the trench wall, the ladder to his right leading to sanity. A moment passed, a long, silent moment, and then something poked out of the police box: a hat.

It looked like a fez, but seemed to be adorned with hundreds of tiny red, blue and green jewels.

Finally a young-old face appeared. ‘Trowel man, man with a trowel, thank you for digging up my TARDIS.’

Billings jaw flapped wordlessly for a few seconds before the power of speech finally returned. ‘You are… welcome?’

‘Am I? That’s good! So often when I turn up places things are trying to eat me or shoot me with lasers, or shoot me with lasers and then eat me.’

‘You are… welcome.’ Said Billings once again, his brain cowering back inside his skull as the man pulled himself fully out of the Police Box and stood before him.

‘You’re late!’ Said the man.

‘Yeah, it took me a couple of days to track you down.’

Billings turned in surprise to see a short, dark-haired woman in unusual dress clambering down the ladder to join them.

‘A couple of days? A couple of days! I’ve been down here for-’ The man checked his watch. ‘Ninety three years!’

‘No…’

‘Yes!’

‘Ninety three?’

‘Ninety three! And eleven weeks! Almost!’

‘Right.’ The woman seemed to be contemplating the best thing to say next. ‘Oops..?’

‘Oops? Do you have any idea how bored I got?’ Said the man.

‘Bored enough to cover a fez in rhinestones?’

The man snatched the fez from his head and shook it at the woman. ‘Yes! Rhinestone bored!’

‘What else did you rhinestone?’

The man smiled and softened. ‘Ooh, a jacket, some mugs, a scarf, part of the console, she didn’t like that, shoes, bow tie naturally-‘

‘-Naturally.’

‘-Hat stand, chair; ooh-! And my underwear! … that was a bit of a mistake in retrospect. Trowel man, never cover your underwear with rhinestones; the chafing..!’

Billings threw down his trowel. ‘Enough!’

The strange pair stopped and turned to him, surprised. ‘What’s up with trowel man?’ The woman asked.

‘You can’t be in there, down there, under all of this Earth. That is an impossibility! Or at best a gross improbability.’

‘But I was, you just dug me up, so rather a stupid thing to say.’

‘You’re being rude.’ Said the woman to the man.

‘Am I? Yes, sorry, I suppose being on your own for the best part of a century makes you lose your social niceties.’

‘I said I was sorry.’ Said the woman.

‘Can you please, one of you, explain to me what is happening here, before I go completely stark raving mad!?’ Said Billings.

The man rubbed his hands together. ‘Right. Sorry. Long story short, partially invisible trans-dimensional TARDIS eating monsters from before the dawn of time. Actually from before, before the dawn of time-‘

‘-Basically really, really, really ancient and weird.’ Said the woman.

‘-Really weird; they snuck into my TARDIS, hunkered down inside the console-‘

‘-had babies-‘

‘-babies hatched, ate bits of her insides, emergency phase shift, actually two emergency phase shifts, underground, knackered ship, ergo: shiny rhinestone fez. Ergo, am I using that word right? Love that word. ‘Ergo’. That about cover it?’

‘More or less.’ Said the woman. ‘Though you completely missed out what happened to me.’

‘I’m the Doctor by the way, and the small person next to me who I’m furious at is Clara.’

‘Hello!’ Said Clara

‘And you are?’

Billings looked at The Doctor and Clara, a pair of grinning, impossible fools.

‘I am… considering a long holiday and then a change of vocation, good-bye.’ Billings made his way quickly up the ladder and out of the trench.

‘You left your diggy trowel thing!’ Called the Doctor from below.

‘Keep it!’ He strode onwards, not turning his head back even for a moment, already looking forward to forgetting the whole, worrisome affair.