back to article Doctor Who's good/bad duality, war futility tale in The Zygon Inversion fails to fizz

Readers please note: THIS IS A POST-UK BROADCAST REVIEW – THERE WILL BE SPOILERS! "I'm me", says Osgood, in response to the Doctor's question: is she Zygon or human? This got me thinking about Me. No, not me, but Me! Ashildr is another would-be companion to the Time Lord, except that – like Osgood – she remains stuck on Earth …

  1. AndrewInIreland

    Best line...

    "5 rounds rapid"

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: Best line...

      One of them.

      But isn't "Sonic specs? Isn't that a bit pointless?" more with the general feeling among Reg commentators.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Best line...

        I liked the speech in the safe containing the Osgood box.

    2. Bob Vistakin

      Re: Best line...

      Nahhh! Best line of the series was in this episode:

      "I'm old enough to be your messiah!"

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Best line...

        From the recap.

        "Yes, we know who you are. "

        Harking back to poor dead Harriet Jones and her temporally inverted Ronnie Pickering gag.

      2. DJO Silver badge

        Re: Best line...

        Nahhh! Best line of the series was in this episode:

        "I'm old enough to be your messiah!"

        He's not a messiah, he's a very naughty boy.

  2. x 7


    It needed a nice violent ending with lots of blood, mayhem and death. And all we got was a crappy pseudophilosphical guilt trip cop out. A bit of a modern morality play from CBeebiesland about how we are all equal and should be nice and play with each other, which is fine for five year olds but doesn't work for anyone with a brain. This episode needed a big bang ending, and didn't get one.

    Also....I'd love to see how the authors think two people are going to parachute from a missile-hit twin jet'd never get the doors open, and even if you could then you'd hit the tailplane

    1. Electron Shepherd

      Re Parachutes

      The more important question is why were there only two parachutes that made it to ground - what about the crew?

      1. x 7

        Re: Re Parachutes

        The military would not provide parachutes on an aircraft like that, for the very simple reason that they couldn't be used.

        RAF passenger-jet derived aircraft such as the Nimrod and VC10 flew without them.

        The plotline is totally unrealistic - just as bad as that military advance last week where the UNIT squad just walked up the road to the target...

        1. Grikath

          Re: Re Parachutes @ x7

          "The plotline is totally unrealistic "

          Welcome to the world of Fiction, where Narrative Imperative and Poetic License occupy the dual throne of reality.

          You could say the same for James Bond, the slew of American Hero action movies, and incidentally most, if not all of the works of Shakespeare. Just to touch a couple of highlights.

          If you want realism, I suggest you stick to Nordic Art-house.

          1. Tac Eht Xilef

            Re: Re Parachutes @ x7

            There is however a subtle yet definite line between "narrative imperative"/"poetic licence" and "no, that's just forkinitwe'redone stupid".

            (I haven't seen it yet, though it doesn't sound like the parachute / plane bit steps over the line - but NuWho repeatedly shits all over then rubs your face in the former by opting for the latter. At a rate of about once per episode...)

          2. censored

            Re: Re Parachutes @ x7

            "The plotline about the shape-shifting aliens hiding in peace amongst us, and the memory-wipe device which has to keep resetting that peace, is all fine. But frankly, jumping out of a plane that you can't jump out of is going TOO FAR"

        2. Horridbloke

          Re: Re Parachutes

          Perhaps they were sonic parachutes.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re Parachutes

          "The plotline is totally unrealistic"

          Whereas a time travelling alien in a box that's bigger on the inside is completely normal !!!

        4. Deryk Barker

          Re: Re Parachutes

          "The plotline is totally unrealistic "

          Unlike the notion of a 1200-year-old travelling in time and space in a police box?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re Parachutes

        The parachutes were in Clara's memory which is not infallible. As for jumping out of a missile hit plane, that's not the interpretation I got. I figured they dropped between shots and my real question is why they deployed chutes so early. Fall clear first.

        1. x 7

          Re: Re Parachutes

          but you'd kill yourself jumping out of that would hit the tail. Especially if the aircraft was manouvering to avoid the missile

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Re Parachutes

            Given the role of this aircraft, the "if" and the assumption that it hadn't been modded with bailing out in mind are both massive unfounded assumptions.

            Just saying, you know. Pretensions aside, it's a UNIT plane built to carry the Doctor. Everybody related to it believes, rightly or wrongly, that he is key to the survival of humanity.

            1. x 7

              Re: Re Parachutes

              " the assumption that it hadn't been modded with bailing out in mind are both massive unfounded assumptions."

              no its not - such a mod couldn't be carried out without structurally weakening that aircraft to the point of making it unsafe. And even if you could exit, you would hit the tail. If you want to avoid that problem, you need an aircraft with a T-tail like a Galaxy, or else a rear ramp exit

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Re Parachutes

                "such a mod couldn't be carried out without structurally weakening that aircraft to the point of making it unsafe."

                Citation required.

                1. Vinyl-Junkie

                  Re: Re Parachutes

                  "Citation required."

                  Don't hold your breath waiting for that; x7 is the master of posting unfounded opinions as facts and then being totally unable to back them up with references.

                2. David M

                  Re: Re Parachutes

                  The prototype Concorde at Duxford Air Museum has an escape hatch in the floor. If that stood any chance of being usable, then something similar in a modern airliner should be fine. You'd still have to cut airspeed as much as possible, but you'd at least fall clear of the tail.

                  1. x 7

                    Re: Re Parachutes

                    "If that stood any chance of being usable"

                    and thats part of the was generally accepted that using it gave little chance of survival. But little was better than none...

                    For an indication of how high a chance there was of survival, check out the rate of survival of back-seat crew from crashed V-bombers (only the pilots had ejection seats). Not high.

                    What you have to remember is those exits were built into the four prototypes 002/001/02/01 from the design stage, which were considerably different from the production aircraft. To have fitted the same to the production birds would have required cutting out structural ribs and making a big hole in the fuselage - a significant weakening which probably could not be safely done.

                    Certainly it couldn't be safely done given the time-scale indicated in the story: in the last episode it had already been established that the aircraft was a leased/borrowed standard commercial aircraft - not the "usual" military jet - as no military aircraft were available due to the emergency. (Kate says that in response to a question from the Doctor). fit in with the storyline you'd have to draft, plan, design, cut hole, and build in a day or two. Not possible to do safely. Probably not possible to do at all, but certainly not safely.

                    1. Patched Out

                      Re: Re Parachutes

                      Hello! Time Machine! At sometime during the production of the aircraft in question, a certain someone shows up in a blue box and makes some "minor" changes to the design specs and drawings, allowing for an escape hatch "just in case".

    2. jonathan keith

      x 7, allow me to introduce you to a concept common in fiction: Suspension of disbelief. Try it - you might find it helps you to enjoy TV drama a little more.

      1. x 7

        " Suspension of disbelief"

        that phrase delinates the distinction between fiction and fantasy.

        If you are saying that "suspension of disbelief" should apply when watching Dr Who, then you are placing the program into the realm of fantasy fairy tales - not the SF the authors would have us believe.

        FFS even Thunderbirds back in the 1960's didn't require the suspension of disbelief - all the technology there was theoretically feasible, even if many many years away

        Its all very well hypothesising and guessing about future technology developments, but showing current technology doing the impossible is simply wrong, cheap, bad scriptwriting.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Doctor Who has always fallen in the space between sf and fantasy, although since the revamp it has tended more towards the latter - hardly surprising considering the relative commercial success of the two genres on tv & film.

          Maybe one day they'll make a film of the Alastair Reynolds Doctor Who book (nah, they wont).

        2. jonathan keith

          Every single thing about the Doctor requires you suspend your disbelief. Unless you honestly think there really is a time travelling alien who travels the galaxy in a blue box that's smaller on the outside with a variety of human companions in tow.

          1. muddysteve

            My gut instinct is to agree with you, but Isaac Asimov said that you can get away with the big things (like time travel) if you get the details right. It's like the Bond Lotus - I can accept it turns into a submarine, but how did the fish get inside?

            1. ravenviz Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Bond fish in Lotus

              Pure Moore Bond camp humour, the expression on his face when he drops it out of the car is priceless!

        3. Stephen W Harris

          "that phrase delinates the distinction between fiction and fantasy."

          I think any SciFi story that requires FTL would disagree with you.

          "Suspension of disbelief" is the willingness of the reader/viewer/consumer to allow the story to work on its own terms.

          I don't think there's _any_ SciFi that doesn't require some level of suspension. It may be minor (eg Allen Steele's near space stories) or it may be major (Star Trek, Babylon 5),

          Or even your Thunderbirds; really, a rocket ship launching from the swimming pool without setting fire to the whole island? Have you seen how far back the safety area is at Kennedy Space Center? Tracey Island would be obliterated first time Thunderbird One launched.

          We ignore these "errors" because they don't get in the way of the story. We deliberately suspend our notions of reality to aid in the story telling process.

          And it doesn't matter the genre. If it's fiction then it requires some level of suspension of disbelief. Do you really think that any best selling book doesn't require acceptance of the universe? Even a Barbara Cartland "romantic" novel requires the acceptance of some super-stud Italian... and let's not get started on '50 shades of grey" :-)

          1. Vinyl-Junkie

            "And it doesn't matter the genre. If it's fiction then it requires some level of suspension of disbelief."

            Absolutely right; or maybe x7 actually believes there are that many murders among the dons of Oxford colleges, or that a medieval monk used modern policing techniques to solve (again the abnormally large number of) murders around Shrewsbury.

            1. mstreet

              the abnormally large number of) murders around Shrewsbury

              It's that Midsomer place you need to stay away from. They must have a higher murder rate than San Pedro (

          2. Dan 55 Silver badge

            And Thunderbird 2 should scrape off the platform in a shower of sparks then slowly tilt and fall nose first into the sea.

            1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

              ...and even then, it'd barely make it to the disaster site before everything had already gone pear-shaped.

              I mean, what was the point of having both TB1 and TB2 in the original series? TB1 could do Mach 22 (according to the usual sources), but could do little other than set up a command post on arrival. TB2 was much slower, capable of no more than 5000 mph, with 2000 mph being the 'official' cruising speed (again according to Prof. Bing O'Google). So, unless the disaster in question was taking place very slowly, or within several thousand miles of Tracy Island, most episodes would consist of TB1 turning up, Scott Tracy saying "Hey Thunderbird 2! Hurry up!", followed by everyone dying spectacularly thanks to Derek Meddings and his exploding models.

              The rebooted series actually does a much better job of this, as well as fixing the glacial pacing and excessive padding in the original. Someone clearly sat down and thought rather more of this through.

              (A much clearer illustration of the problem with some of those Gerry & Silvia Anderson shows is "Joe 90": that show is basically built on truly horrific child abuse. How the hell that ever got as far a pitch, let alone commissioning, I've no idea.)

              1. IsJustabloke

                And praise be...

                that there was onyl ever one disaster at a time!

        4. frank ly

          "... Thunderbirds back in the 1960's didn't require the suspension of disbelief ..."

          They managed to keep the location of Tracy island secret despite regular rocket launches and the purchase and delivery of large amounts of rocket/jet fuel? etc ....

          1. Allan George Dyer

            @frank ly - Maybe the Tracys just labelled it "rum" and "fireworks" and said they were having another playboy beach party...

        5. Neil Wilson

          "FFS even Thunderbirds back in the 1960's didn't require the suspension of disbelief"

          That's because they used up all the suspension on the puppets.

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "If you are saying that "suspension of disbelief" should apply when watching Dr Who, then you are placing the program into the realm of fantasy fairy tales - not the SF the authors would have us believe."

          So let me see - a time travelling man who has lived for 2000 years, turns into a completely new person every few years, has two hearts, and said time travel vehicle is 'bigger on the inside, powered by an exploding star caught in a time loop, whose arch enemies include gangion aliens stuck inside a mechanised shell that have no hands or claws that for many years could not go up or down steps, yet somehow manage to be the biggest menace in the universe?

          Did i mention that he has a police box that travels back and forth in time, and has a sun trapped in it?

          In case you haven't noticed, Doctor Who is firmly in the Science Fantasy genre. along with Star Wars and a lot of the Super Hero stuff, like Superman or Thor. It's not remotely the same as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Battlestar Galactica, or Interstellar, or Star Trek.

          Nothing in Doctor Who is remotely feasible, even in a few years. It's just made up stuff to advance the plot.

          Get past that, and you'll enjoy the show more.

          1. Simon Harris

            @ac Batllestar Galactica.

            At least, the reboot, was pure fantasy by the final series when it went all mystical.

            Even the relatively sensible earlier episodes needed suspension of disbelief over minor things - how did 20th century motor vehicles find their way to their world? In a system with limited resources, how could it possibly be more economical to make notepaper with chamfered corners rather than rectangular?* (did they use the offcuts to power the engines?)

            * I know that one was actually an in joke about the production team always cutting corners.

            1. x 7

              Re: @ac Batllestar Galactica.

              "notepaper with chamfered corners rather than rectangular"

              obviously notepaper made by Apple

              1. Simon Harris

                Re: @ac Batllestar Galactica.

                '"notepaper with chamfered corners rather than rectangular"

                obviously notepaper made by Apple'

                You're thinking of filleted corners.

        7. Grikath

          "FFS even Thunderbirds back in the 1960's didn't require the suspension of disbelief - all the technology there was theoretically feasible, even if many many years away"

          Now that is some proper suspension of disbelief right there...

        8. Rich 11

          FFS even Thunderbirds back in the 1960's didn't require the suspension of disbelief - all the technology there was theoretically feasible, even if many many years away.

          Perhaps you don't remember the very first episode, where Thunderbird 1 has a sensor which tells Scott when his ship is being secretly filmed (they don't want knowledge of Brains' technology getting into the wrong hands).

          1. DJO Silver badge

            Thunderbird 1 has a sensor which tells Scott when his ship is being secretly filmed

            Why not? A laser spinning should be able to get distinctive reflections from the curvature of a lens pointed in its direction, it might even be able work out if it was filming from the slight vibration detectable in the reflection.

            I'm saying that in theory it might be possible, not that it is actually possible but sufficiently so for Scott Tracy.

            1. Martin Budden

              Re Parachutes: It has been done. At least twice.

              A passenger jet HAS been modded to allow exit with parachutes. It was Concorde, no less! You can even see the mod for yourself: get thee to the Fleet Air Arm Museum at RNAS Yeovilton, go to Hall 4, and look for Concorde 002 (you can't miss it, it's the huge totally awesome one). Go inside (yes! you can go inside!!!) and look for the emergency escape hatch in the floor. From memory the hatch is on the right side near the rear of the cabin, but it's been a while... anyway, the hatch is in there somewhere. The hatch also features a handy metal plate which slides down to disrupt the airflow so you can exit reasonably un-mangled.

              And, of course, there was Dan Cooper.

              1. x 7

                Re: Re Parachutes: It has been done. At least twice.

                @Martin Budden

                Yes, I know 002 well. I'm fairly familiar with Yeovilton.....

                read my earlier posts: the escape hatches were incorporated into the prototype Concordes at the planning stage and were specifically designed not to weaken the fuselage. If you tried to retrofit such a device to the production birds you'd end up destroying several frame sections and irretrievably weaken the fuselage.

                Such hatches were included in the V-bombers for the back seat crew. The success rate in using them as an escape method was low

                And just as a point of clarification, 002 wasn't a "passenger jet": it was a flying laboratory and while superficially similar, was actually very different in design from the production Concordes

      2. admiraljkb

        Reality Distortion Field / Suspension of Belief

        Well, the problem is the reality distortion field can only be maintained if the field isn't breached by something so out of character, or out of "universe" that causes your disbelief suspension to cease. Once the Reality Distortion Field collapses, every little loose thread becomes apparent and causes you to keep looking for more. A Military Aircraft that is UNIT's equivalent of "Air Force ONE" without fancy UNIT extraterrestrial countermeasures, armaments and enough parachutes (or escape mechanism) for the crew was one of those, the UNIT unit with Bonnie under London not killing Bonnie and all the Zygons present was another. The UNIT contingent going into the church and being slaughtered instead of just killing the hostiles (who looked like family members) would also be uncharacteristic of UNIT soldiers. Sure regular Army, but UNIT's trained to deal with these sorts of things. All of those things seemed to me to be lazy writing, because had the characters actually done their normal/believable thing in the Whovian Universe , there wouldn't have been a 2 episode arc. It would have been a quick 30 minute done and DONE. Instead we had a complex circuitous route taken to a) get us back to having an Osgood, and b) get us back to having 2 Osgoods.

    3. illiad

      Blood and death??

      IDIOT, you are missing the message!! If you dont like it just go and watch 'saw' again, you **hopeless** creep...

      The moral message is that yes, war, death, etc, etc, may be nice for a start....

      B U T after that, WHAT will you do, after you have gloated that everyone is dead .... what will you do , sitting in the poisoned heap of dirt... ???

      GO ON, WHAT??

      1. Archie Woodnuts

        Re: Blood and death??

        Froth at the mouth, apparently.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Blood and death??

        Build a new civilization with out any pesky humans to mess it up. So we can live in our natural state not always hiding and in disguises.

        that line of argument is pointless since one side would by definition of the conflict would be wiped out. does not matter what condition anything is in afterward as that can be rebuilt/cleaned up. Unless you used a death star.

        There simply is no way for this treaty to work long term without the OsGood box as the threat to end the hostile force. since the treaty was forced on the humans by the Doctor i guess the idea of a box that would wipe out one side or the other if they should try and break it. But then again it is an empty threat.

      3. Connor

        Re: Blood and death??

        Is that what happened after WWII? I am not sure it is or indeed after any war. I thought the moral was that after some 'splinter group' not supported by the majority, yet were apparently everywhere, had slaughtered hundreds if not thousands of innocent humans - as well as your UNIT colleagues and friends - you were meant to work harder to understand them, and most importantly forgive them. After all they were doing what they believed in and were forced into that position as humans are so awful wouldn't accept who they really were. So you forgive them and let them get off scot-free for all the murder and mayhem because they are all nice people really and it is all your fault for not understanding them.

    4. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Dr Who: Worst Documentary Series, Ever

      To fit in with the storyline you'd have to draft, plan, design, cut hole, and build in a day or two. Not possible to do safely. Probably not possible to do at all, but certainly not safely.

      I imagine the Doctor simply pulled something out of his arse pocket in order to save the day.

      If you are watching Dr Who and complaining about lack of realism and credibility I think you may be watching the wrong programme. After 50 years of Whovian entertainment I would expect there's a list of "that's just not possible" which could fill a number of books.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I enjoyed this story overall, but I do worry about the impact of the Zygon birthrate on global warming - they seem to have raised a new generation of 20 million from egg to adulthood within a couple of years.

    1. h4rm0ny
      Thumb Up

      They're a technologically advanced species though. Maybe they have birth control. They might just have settled on twenty million as a good number to have. Large enough to absorb epidemics or to ensure the survival of some pockets if the humans one day decided to launch a surprise attack, small enough to not be a burden on the Earth or to make the human governments feel over-threatened.

      Anyway, this was a very good episode. Capaldi's speech was very impressive. Both the delivery and the writing with little bits like "this is a scale model of war, you never know who's going to die...". I was impressed.

      It did occur to me that if Zygon's went public it would revolutionize the sex industry for several interesting reasons. But I suppose Doctor Who wouldn't cover that.

  4. Uncle Slacky


    ...wasn't Bonnie's real name, it was just the Doc's way of winding her/it up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Zygella...

      and to point out how attached she was to her human name as her identity (presumably a bigger issue for creatures who can change their appearance)

  5. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up

    I wasn't impressed with last week's episode...

    ... but this one made up for it!

    The first part was, as I posted, laying the modern-day analogies on with a shovel (or maybe a JCB) and there were too many instances of people doing silly things just to advance the plot, but it was almost like this episode had been written by a completely different script writer.

    Capaldi made the extended "War (Huh!) What is it good for?" speech absolutely brilliantly, you could feel the way he's suffered with all the deaths that he has been responsible for (or, even, just feels responsible for) and why he doesn't want it to happen again.

    There were lovely touches such as the Zygon, forced out of Human form, who says "I never wanted to fight anyone – I just wanted to live here", neatly skewering the "You're either with us or against us" nonsense that idiotic demagogues come out with (on both sides *cough* David Cameron *cough*) and how Kate Stewart got away from the "Not a cop" Zygon (cue loud cry of "Oh YES!" from me at the "Five rounds rapid" :-) )

    Also some nice touches like the Union Flag parachute (who else has used one of those?) and Osgood saying "The first thing I'd do if I wanted to invade the world would be to kill you [...] I wouldn't even let you get talking".

    Ok, minor niggles like the Presidential Plane being shot down (what, no laser jammers, flares, chaff, ECM, decoy systems...???) and those Sonic Specs (although I liked Osgood's "aren't they a bit pointless, like a visual hearing aid?), but I can forgive those for a much better episode than the last one and one that, as the Doctor says, really makes you THINK!

    1. Hazmoid

      Re: I wasn't impressed with last week's episode...

      I loved his comment "don't check my browser history" and then Osgood going and doing it anyway. :)

  6. Uncle Slacky

    "How long can the ceasefire last?"

    Presumably about as long as the previous 15...

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: "How long can the ceasefire last?"

      Wouldn't the passionate plea for peace get a bit boring after the 5th time?

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: "How long can the ceasefire last?"

        Repetition is never boring if you don't remember it. Some of my family have the luxury of dementia, but I am stuck with the vermouth and brandy that they forgot to hide.

        Besides, don't your constant wars bore you? The shocking awe fireworks are good TV for the first five minutes, but all that failed nation building, forgotten heroes, 'collateral damage' stuff is deadly dull.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: "How long can the ceasefire last?"

          ...and then you hire Kissinger!

  7. Danny 2 Silver badge

    A Complex Messiah

    The first two episodes of this series were a religious experience for me. Disappointing since then but this morning (no TV licence) made up for it. I'm sold on all this forgiveness stuff rammed down my throat and may even start trying it.

    For the next UK census, if there is one, I'm going to list my religion as Whovian, and I'll try and convert all the Jedi. Who is with me.

    1. Simon Harris

      Re: A Complex Messiah

      Does watching Dr Who make you a Je-Who-vah's Witness?

    2. h4rm0ny

      Re: A Complex Messiah

      >>"Who is with me."

      I love that you ended that with a full stop, not a question mark. Lovely touch and I have to say, a great slogan for your new religion. :)

      Though I have to remind you of a comment by the Ninth Doctor: "Don't worship me, I'd make a very bad god. No day off for a start!".

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: A Complex Messiah

        I resisted the question mark after great temptation. To be honest my favourite character is Missy, Michelle Gomez, so my religious symbol should be ¿ rather than ?. I guess I'm an anti-Whovian at heart, but I need Whovians to prosper before I can oppose them

        I'm a recent convert myself, although a life-long viewer, so before I start evangelising I do need some religious education as someone, probably me, wiped my memory repeatedly.

        I also love the latest Pope but it took them 266 regenerations to get a good one, and their script writer still isn't up to speed. Still, the Jedi are the lowest-hanging fruit so let's start converting them first.

        ?Who is with me¿

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A Complex Messiah

          "?Who is with me¿" ... does that mean you are on first?

          1. Danny 2 Silver badge

            Re: A Complex Messiah

            ?Who is on first¿

            You need a certain number (<14,000) before the census recognise your stated religion as a religion. This may be controversial but I bet there are more Whovians than Jedi living in the UK. Except of course in their Scottish HQ, Jediburgh.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bloody good, but it wont please everyone

    Good god, the comments sections are on fire. The Love/Hate relationbship some hold with this show is incredible.

    Don't see this with MidSommer Murders or Casualty.

    I enjoyed it, - it was good Doctor Who, good fantasy telly.

    (And yes, Doctor who is firmly Science Fantasy. What is the distinction between fantasy and Scifi?

    is scifi defined by the presence of space ships, aliens and gadgets?

    Is Fantasy defined by calling people who do extraordinary things sorcerers/magicians/wizards, and heroes having swords and living in medieval times?

    If we changed the location of Game of Thrones to an alien planet, called the White Walkers the Geth, and instead of horses and sailing ships, they had spaceships - would that make it any less fantas?

    Star Wars is the ultimate Science Fantasy.

    Darth Vader is an evil wizard, Luke Skywalker is the swashbuckling reluctant hero, the force is basically magic.. it's a classic Swords and Sorcery in space.

    Think about it - how different would Harry Potter be if it were set in space?

    Doctor Who, therefore, is basically Dungeons and Dragons in space.

    Enders Game, 2001,Star Trek (mostly), Logans Run, The Hunger Games, Divergent, Blakes 7, Defiance, Interstellar, etc, are Science FICTION, (some blur the lines more than others).

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Bloody good, but it wont please everyone

      Duggans and Drashigs.

      Duggan was great. Another almost companion.

    2. Simon Harris

      Re: Bloody good, but it wont please everyone

      I think Silverberg's Lord Valentine series pretty much fills the brief of a Game of Thrones genre fantasy, but set on an alien world with a mixture of aliens and some SF technology.

  9. TRT Silver badge

    What I don't get is...

    That with 20 million Zygons, where are all the skarasen? Or have they genetically modified cows to provide their nutrient milk?

    1. lorisarvendu

      Re: What I don't get is...

      "...where are all the skarasen?"

      Shhh!! They've been hastily brushed under the retcon carpet!

      1. Chris King

        Speaking of retcon...

        ...has anyone else noticed that the "Classic Series" website has been archived and all references to it have been removed from the main Dr Who web site ?

        It probably happened a while ago, but every page on now has one of those "This page has been archived and is no longer updated" banners at the top.

        1. graeme leggett

          Re: Speaking of retcon...

          Sounded rum so I went and had a look. You can still find some classic Who content by going through the characters or episodes tab.

          But not the material based on The Discontinuity Guide.

  10. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Thumb Up

    At last!

    Capaldi acting instead of marking time.

    That was good.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: At last!

      to be fair - he's had other good moments - but that was probably his finest acting hour as the doctor.

  11. Martin 63

    Im just wondering

    If we are bouncing up and down through time, why does part two always follow part one?

    1. gerdesj Silver badge

      Re: Im just wondering

      If part 2 preceded part 1 then it would become part 1 and 1 would become 2. The switch would happen instantaneously (indeed it always was thus) and you would be unaware of it, in effect part 1 was always part 1 even though it might have been part 2 down the other leg of the trousers of time.

      1. pstiles

        Re: Im just wondering

        That is actually a really good idea for a two-parter.

        The first part shows you how it ended, but you've no idea what happened in the first place, then the second part shows you how it starts. I think the trick would be getting enough into the first part (the end) that made sense internally but making sure that the second part (the beginning) was absolutely necessary to understand what was going on. And I'm not talking about the "one minute of preview then overlay text 'two days ago'" I'm meaning a whole episode. Must be doable...Oh yes - a bit like River's arc but shorter...

      2. Tony Paulazzo

        Re: Im just wondering

        switch would happen instantaneously

        Already happened, Parts 4 & 3 - it starts off in the underwater base then goes back to the cause of the situation and resolves it in the past.

        Also, OP, what was the joke about the names? I totally didn't get it...

    2. graeme leggett

      Re: Im just wondering

      Simply because average non-fan watcher would be as confused as fan-watcher would be delighted.

      You can play around with scene order within 45 mins but across a week - I'd guess the audience figures and AI would plummet.

    3. hplasm

      Re: Im just wondering

      Just wait until it goes on late-night Dave or UK Gold... you'll be lucky to get the same Doctor each episode.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Im just wondering

        Too late, they're already showing the classic series on the "Horror" Channel.

    4. Simon Harris

      Re: Im just wondering

      "If we are bouncing up and down through time, why does part two always follow part one?"

      Give them to E4, then see what random order they play the episodes in.

  12. David Fetrow

    For what it's worth....

    (and it may not be worth anything). I liked this episode. A LOT.

    That peace is at least as hard and sisyphean as war is not message we get to hear much. I love that the maintenance of the truce requires effort and cleverness and even people who can't quite manage to do the job, do what they can within their limits (e.g. Kate agreeing to a memory wipe).

    ...but that ending. Wow.

    --- If you haven't seen it yet, please skip this until you do ---

    Bonnie needed the Osgood box. To use the Osgood box she needed to understand how the Doctor thinks. To understand how the Doctor thinks is to: 1) Realize the Osgood box won't get her what she wants and 2) To lose the desire to use the Osgood box even if it did give her what she had wanted.

    The initial feints and misdirects and strategies largely serve to get Bonnie thinking in new ways so she's open to changing her mind.

    That's not just pretty people, that's elegant.

    1. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: For what it's worth....

      The Sermon on the Mount is pretty, the Book of Job is elegant; save your understatement.

      That scene was divine.

      Who will rid me of this troublesome priest.

  13. Trollslayer

    This series has fluctuated a lot and there are valid comments here but the last five minutes of this made it the best for a quite a while, good basic drama.

    1. Danny 2 Silver badge

      "but the last five minutes of this made it the best for a quite a while, good basic drama"

      A former girlfriend of mine once told me, "Well, you are not a bad lover", and I was overjoyed, it was the least negative thing I'd heard her say about anything. Please tell me that is you too, that "good basic drama" is your best review of the year and at best you consider Shakespeare "hit and miss"?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Truth or Consequences

    In part 1 we first see 'Truth or Consequences' appear in a scrolling text message on the tablet in UNIT HQ and we're told that "the encryption system has already been hacked." The implication being that the Zygons have hacked it.

    This is confirmed when the two schoolgirl Zygon leaders are forced to normalise and are killed: the killer appears, gives his ultimatum and finishes by saying: "Truth or Consequences".

    So how did the Zygon rebel know that phrase was written inside the Osgood boxes? Or how did someone know to write that phrase in the box?

    1. TheProf

      Re: Truth or Consequences

      Time Travel!

      1. TheProf

        Re: Truth or Consequences

        Or psychic labels next to the buttons.

  15. mike white 1

    As regards jumping out and hitting the tailplane the back seat crew of the RAF Victor had to make emergency exit via a door located just forward of the engine intakes, only the pilot & co-pilot had ejector seats

  16. mike white 1

    William Hartnell

    Am I the only person to Notice that the Picture over the safe which Bonnie opened thinking the Osgood box was inside was actually a portrait of William Hartnell?

    1. hplasm
      Thumb Up

      Re: William Hartnell


    2. TheProf

      Re: William Hartnell

      No, it was the 'First Doctor'.


  17. Bucky 2

    We got our Osgood answer, though

    If you think about it.

    A Whovian of her calibre asking what TARDIS stands for? There's suspension of disbelief and there's suspension of disbelief. Obviously, this is a factoid about the doctor she never thought to ask her "sister" before she was killed.

    1. RDW

      Re: We got our Osgood answer, though

      I think she's geekier than you - she's heard 'a couple of different versions', which sounds like a joke about whether the 'D' is for 'Dimension' or 'Dimensions' (both have been used in the series, which some people stay up all night worrying about).

      Best episode for a while, with the speech that everyone will probably remember Capaldi's Doctor for. Nice exchange at the end, too ("I'll be the judge of time").

      1. jonathan keith

        Re: We got our Osgood answer, though

        Speaking of, did anyone else find the "judge of time" line to be particularly ominous?

        Is the Doctor going to be going full Dredd on us?

      2. Bucky 2

        Re: We got our Osgood answer, though

        Crap. Touche.

  18. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    El Reg cutback?

    When Weekend El Reg started the Dr Who reviews, we used to get three pages, one from each of three reviewers. After a while it dropped to two. Now there can be only one.

    Unlike Dr Who, where we get a new one every so often, the reviewers are degenerating rather than regenerating.

    I quite liked the competing reviews, especially when they disagreed.

    1. Vinyl-Junkie

      Re: El Reg cutback?

      In case you hadn't noticed; "Weekend" has disappeared from the menu bar...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: El Reg cutback?

        I hadn't noticed. Thanks.

        What I had noticed was that the number of Saturday stories had dropped and Sunday stories are almost non-existent. I suppose the only reason we see any weekend stories is because of time zone differences in the SF and Australian offices where it may not be the weekend when they are posted.

      2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Re: El Reg cutback?

        URL works, though.

    2. x 7

      Re: El Reg cutback?

      "Now there can be only one"

      Either someones getting ideas from "Highlander", or the reviewers are getting bored

  19. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    "How did The Doctor get out of the exploding plane?"

    Did all of you who asked this forget the (in)famous sonic sunglasses? No need for a hatch: just punch a suitable hole in the fuselage where desired using the patented SonicSpecs(R) Setting 451.

    It's right there in the manual's index, under "Fuselage (Aircraft, Jet, Terran) > Hole (Suitable) > Punching." (The chapter on determining the value for "Suitable" is quite a complex read, and gets very philosophical in places. Still, The Doctor's had plenty of bathroom reading time in which to plough through it all and watch the umpteen tutorial videos available on WhoTube.)


    "Doctor Who" is Fantasy, not SF.

    Since the series returned in 2005, "Doctor Who" has occasionally texted Science, depending on the writer, but she hasn't been returning the series' calls since Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis worked on the show in the late '60s.

    Think of the TARDIS as like the titular wardrobe in "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe", only the TARDIS isn't limited to just the one fantasy world, which is how they've managed to keep the show going, more or less, since 1963.

    Just because it has spaceships and aliens, it doesn't automatically mean it's SF. After all, "Gulliver's Travels" is very clearly Fantasy, but has none of the trappings associated with Tolkien's fantasy world.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "How did The Doctor get out of the exploding plane?"

      A slight thawing of relationship under Christopher H Bidmead?

      1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Re: "How did The Doctor get out of the exploding plane?"

        Bidmead's predecessor was Douglas Adams who was also very much a technology and science nerd, also with a particular interest in computers. He was also the better writer.

        Douglas, though most famous for his comedy writing skills, actually got it right. He took the Arthur C. Clarke tenet to heart: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Douglas absolutely nailed that side of it, and this is why I have no problem with the sonic screwdriver (or, most recently, sonic sunglasses), which is just an "indistinguishable from magic" version of the Swiss Army Knife. Lazy writers do tend to abuse it, but the same thing used to happen with K9 in Tom Baker's day, so at least they're being consistent.

        If you try and shoehorn a developing technology like IT into an SF show, you are guaranteed to date it, so Douglas was right to avoid going down that path.

        Bidmead was present when a new "Chameleon Circuit" prop was added, displaying BBC Micro graphics on a CRT that rose rather clumsily out of the TARDIS console. Even at the time, it looked stupid. It's a perfect example of how not to write SF for visual media. Even "Blake's 7" showed futuristic computers less ham-fistedly than that.

        "Doctor Who" is a great learning tool: you can really see how acting, production, writing, direction, etc. have evolved over the last 50-odd years.

    2. pstiles

      Re: "How did The Doctor get out of the exploding plane?"

      "Gulliver's Travels" - There was I thinking it was a political/sociological commentary.

      1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        "Gulliver's Travels" - There was I thinking it was a political/sociological commentary.

        It is. It just happens to use a fantasy setting.

        Indeed, SF and Fantasy are very vague indicators of setting, not story genre. Every other genre label – Romance, Mystery, Thriller, etc. – describes what the story is about.

        Anne McCaffrey's "Dragons of Pern" series is SF. "Star Wars" is Fantasy. As labels, both are so spectacularly vague and hand-wavy as to be functionally useless. I don't use these two labels myself.

        And, again, this is another reason why "Doctor Who" has survived for so long: its supposed "genre" doesn't shackle it to a particular subset of stories.

  20. Neil B

    Better than the first half, which I honestly thought was an embarrassment, but still some of the weakest Who for a while. I think Moffat used up all his Mojo in Matt Smith's breath-taking first season (although having said that, Day of the Doctor was pretty fab).

  21. Yugguy

    Suspension of disbelief is complex

    There's varying degrees of suspension of disbelief.

    Doctor Who the character, and his Tardis etc. are completely outside of the real world, so it's easier to suspend disbelief over what they are and do.

    An aeroplane is something familiar, earthly. So I need whatever happens to it not to be too far away from that familiarity - unless of course, the event is CAUSED by the unearhly..

    1. Groaning Ninny

      Re: Suspension of disbelief is complex

      The aeroplane exploded; the Doctor escaped. Works pretty well.

  22. juice

    We've been here before...

    'm starting to regret being so hard on RTD back in the day, as this felt fairly similar to some of the stuff turned out back during his reign. The Doctor bumbled around without actually achieving anything, there were some heavily telegraphed "plot twists", and lots of people died because the Doctor was faffing around. Then too, the entire ending hinged on a macguffin/Deus Ex Machina and the story fizzled out with an implicitly contradictory message, a plot hole large enough to migrate the entire Zygon race through and nothing was done to address the consequences of the various events (e.g. lots of dead people) [*]...

    On a brighter note, the dramatic speech actually was quite dramatic.


    1) The cease-fire has failed /fifteen/ times, and given that Kate doesn't look to have aged drastically, this has happened within the space of no more than a couple of years. I.e. things keep breaking down to the point of a full-blown MAD scenario within 3-6 months. Surely that's a sign that the peace treaty is a complete failure?

    2) As much fun as stealing the plotline from Sunshine of the Spotless Mind must have been, the memory-wipe only affected the people in the room. What about the millions of Zygons outside the room and the unknown number of humans who knew that the uprising had occurred? Is there to be no justice for people affected by the atrocities carried out by the splinter group? If nothing else, the Zygons are going to have to choose some new leaders...

    3) Similarly, even if the Doctor did manage to magically erase the memories of everyone on the planet, what about all the people who died - all their friends, family, medical and legal records, etc. If the Doctor is prepared to go back and wipe out people's memories of their loved ones to artificially maintain a demonstrably unsustainable peace, he's a much bigger monster than anyone else could ever be!

    4) Why did the Doctor keep clumsily asking if Osgood was human or Zygon? Of all the entities in the universe, he should be the one most aware of the power of an anonymous symbol (e.g. such as a question mark...). It would have made more sense for Clara or possibly even Kate to ask that question - Kate especially had good reason to demand an answer!

    5) And since someone will no doubt spark up with a "you don't have to watch it" comment: I've actually enjoyed some of the episodes this season; it does feel like there's an effort being made to steer things towards a more interesting path. And with some fairly rare exceptions, there isn't exactly a huge amount of British sci-fi to pick from!

    1. Artaxerxes

      Re: We've been here before...

      1) I took away that it had been 15 attempts for Bonnie to not just up and press the button.

      2) The memory wipe was merely to ensure that noone was aware the box was empty, a bluff.

      1. juice

        Re: We've been here before...

        1) Maybe - looking back now and reading the wikipedia summary, I guess it can be taken either way. But even if that is the case, it still feels unethical - the Doctor is basically refusing to take "no" for an answer and forcibly wiping people's memories until they agree with him!

        2) True, but that doesn't address the issues which led to the splinter group becoming terrorists.

      2. Allan George Dyer

        Re: We've been here before...

        As River Song said, "The Doctor lies". Maybe it was the fifteenth, maybe the first, but it's more likely to hold this time if they are not sure.

    2. fendjinn

      Re: We've been here before...

      I'd have to watch it again but my impression was that it was the peace *negotiations* that had failed 15 times ? I.e. 15 times previously either Kate or Bonnie had pressed one or other of the buttons. Nothing happened (because the Osgood boxes are empty) but the Doctor had had to reset the scenario because the negotiations had failed, he hadn't managed to change their minds towards believing in/desiring peace.

    3. Toltec

      Re: We've been here before...

      4) It occurred to me that he was checking to see if she was really an Osgood and not a Zygon copy. His specs could probably tell him which version of Osgood she really was, though that would imply that she was actually the Zygon. However that would mean that when Bonnie became an Osgood they are both Zygons. But then that would mean...

      I give up :)

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1) this referred to the then-and-there negotiations and its possible the "15 times" was a joke

    2) the Zygons were calmed/reassured by Bonnie via the central squelchy thing; very few humans (who survived) were aware the Zygons existed.

    OTOH its not clear how they handled the disappeared in New Mexico

    "justice" maybe, revenge no

    3) didn't happen so n/a

    OTOH, how much did the people in the pods remember between capture and release ?

    5) there is a lot of recent/current British SciFi - sadly most of it gets overlooked when it comes to TV and film

    1. admiraljkb

      "OTOH, how much did the people in the pods remember between capture and release ?"

      How many fish remember that? Surely there is something in the Shadow Proclamation against a capture/release program of sentients? :)

  24. Bob Dole (tm)
    Thumb Up

    One of the best episodes

    I think this is perhaps Capaldi's best episode. The monologue at the end regarding war had an excellent delivery and should be required viewing by anyone thinking they are a better leader.

    10/10, will watch it again a few more times.

  25. Deryk Barker


    The name is spelled Petronella not Petranella.

    10 seconds of googling would have revealed this.

  26. xeroks

    1200 years?

    Does that include 140 years recently spent underwater? Or does suspended animation not count?

    1. illiad

      Re: 1200 years?

      You are not thinking 'fifth dimensionally' :)

  27. ShadowDragon8685

    I'm late to the action, so I suspect this will never be replied to, but...

    The Doctor was wrong. Really, really wrong.

    Wrong to forgive Bonnie so readily; has he forgot the MURDERS she committed? Off the top of my head there's the UNIT pilot and other staff from his poncing-about plane, since we sure as hell didn't see any of them make it off the plane (not to mention the other Zygon in there,) not to mention all the murders she was INDIRECTLY responsible for, like the middle-aged woman and all those UNIT guys.

    She doesn't DESERVE to be Osgood. More, she can't really be TRUSTED, even if her entire reasoning behind this uprising was, as the Doctor pointed out, childish and flawed.

    Secondly, wiping Kate's memory? Repeatedly? About things vital to the security of the UK and Earth as a whole? The Doctor doesn't deserve the trust she places in him, and quite frankly, he's the one who needs to grow up: sometimes, to keep the peace, to serve the greater or greatest of goods, killing has to be done. Like, well, with the freaking Daleks. They only EVER go on a murderboner, exterminate countless people. You'd be entirely justified in annihilating each and every last one of them, because no matter how many times he tries, no matter what face he's wearing, they NEVER turn nice. They're genetically incapable of it.

    Also, he gravely miscalculated. Kate didn't have a 50% chance of getting what she wanted and a 50% chance of not getting what she wanted. Setting off the nuke under UNIT Black Archive would have stopped the Zygon rebellion just as readily as the nerve gas would have done, and the last time this situation came up, she was ready to pull the trigger on that, too. She had a 100% chance of averting the war, and a 50% chance of the cost of so doing being the entire population of London.

    She also could have just, I don't know, quickdrawn her pistol and shot the three Zygons in the room. We already know she's faster on the draw than a Zygon, and two of them had their hands full with Clara at the time.

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