Friday, 26 May 2017

FIXING CONTINUITY GLITCHES - QUICK FIXES 4: SERIES 8 SPECIAL

In an effort to brace myself for the departure of Doctor Twelve, I cracked open the DVDs I have from his era. I even purposely re-watched Time of the Doctor just to observe his first few seconds of life at the end of the story. 

At the time of writing this, I just wrapped up Series 8. I couldn't help but notice a couple of plotholes that end up presenting themselves' over the course of the twelve episodes. I thought I'd take a shot at trying to explain some of them. 



WHAT HAPPENED TO ORSON?

This is probably the biggest one of the season. Listen is all about travelling up and down the timeline of Danny Pink to discover things about his past and future. As we get to the latter part of the episode, it's heavily implied that Danny and Clara will get together and have kids. Those kids will, in turn, have kids of their own. After a few more generations, one of those descendants will be Orson Pink -an astronaut in a time travel experiment that the Doctor and Clara will rescue when he's caught in the far-flung future.

All this is quite pretty until we get to the end of Series 8 and discover that Danny Pink dies. A season later, Clara also passes on (sort of). So how can they have descendants when both are dead without actually procreating before they went?

The simplest answer would be that this is another branch of the Pink family. That Danny and Clara never have kids but some other people with the last name Pink, do. This theory only holds together so well, though. Orson definitely looks to be related to Danny but Danny grew up an orphan. There seemed no indication that he had siblings or any sort of immediate family that he knew about. The heirloom that Orson has kept shoots down the idea even more. Why would he have it unless he was directly descended from Danny Pink?

Another theory might be that we have not seen the full story of Clara and Danny. Clara has been extracted from just before her death and is now travelling around with Me in a stolen TARDIS. Perhaps she finds some way to finally get Danny back and they have a family. Again, the idea only works so well. It is difficult to believe that a woman who no longer has a pulse would still be capable of becoming pregnant.

The most likely explanation is that Orson Pink is now an aborted timeline. The Doctor did say he'd shut off the TARDIS' safeguards. Perhaps this enabled the ship to explore possible futures rather than true ones. Particularly since she was being steered through the telepathic circuits. When Clara plugged herself into the console, she was going to marry Danny and have kids. So the TARDIS followed that eventuality. But as her and Danny's timelines actually progressed, things took a more tragic turn. There would be no Orson Pink, after all. Another astronaut would be recruited for the mission because the Pink family line was cut off when Danny died.

So the future Clara saw during Listen only existed during that particular moment. The TARDIS doesn't usually travel through time in such a manner. But with safeguards off and telepathic circuits in control, these things can happen.


ANNABEL? WHAT?!

I will be the first to admit, In the Forest of the Night is far from being one of my favorite Doctor Who stories. Most of fandom seems to agree with the sentiment. One of its biggest problems, of course, is the sudden re-appearance of Maebh's sister, Annabel, at the end of the episode. Annabel had gone missing but is, suddenly, returned to Maebh and her mother. Apparently, she'd been hiding behind some bushes the whole time!

How does this happen?

Much of In the Forest of the Night is highly subjective and not a lot of clear answers are given about anything. The bit with Annabel, however, is a bit too unexplained. So let's see if we can come up with something.

The story seems to imply that there has been an ancient race or energy or intelligence that has existed on the Earth since the dawn of its creation. This race protects the Earth from certain natural disasters from time-to-time. In the case of extreme solar flares, it can cause trees to rapidly grow and use the oxygen those trees produce to deflect the harmful rays of the sun. My guess is that the race can control energy to such an extent that they can use it to re-form matter. Hence, their ability to produce and remove forests at a moment's notice.

Since Maebh helped out significantly during the whole crisis, the ancient race decides to reward her. They see that her greatest desire is to get her sister back. So they re-create Annabel. The original was probably abducted and met some kind of untimely end. The body was never found. But the copy is probably instilled with the memories Annabel had up to the moment where she was taken. She re-joins her family and they pick up where they left off.

And everyone lives happily ever after....


WHAT CAME FIRST? THE GIANT SPACE CHICKEN OR THE MOON EGG?

This one seemed to almost outrage fans. They seemed convinced in Kill the Moon that it was an impossibility of physics and/or biology that a giant alien can suddenly leave behind a new egg in its place immediately after it has just hatched from its own egg.

I'm not entirely sure why this is so upsetting as it doesn't seem particularly impossible to me. This is an alien we're talking about so its life-cycle can be very different from ours. I do see the explanation given in the episode as a bit of an over-simplification. I've come up with something a bit more specific. My science might still be just as wonky - so I apologize in advance if it still offends you.

I'd like to think that, as the creature was nearing its hatching, a sort of mitosis occurred. A second much younger creature was formed from it and started gestating in the egg with it. When it was time for the older space-chicken to finally emerge into the Universe, it broke through its shell but then quickly re-wove it around the younger embryo so it could continue to gestate (Erato was seen to do something similar in Creature from the Pit to create a spaceship for himself).

Of course, as this younger embryo in the re-sealed egg nears maturity, it will go through a similar process. The mitosis will happen inside the egg again and the mature creature will hastily re-assemble the shell after it hatches to keep the younger embryo alive. This just how the species survives in this particular alien race.

That's how I see it, at least. It seems slightly more plausible, this way.


That's my take on some of the bigger problems of Series 8. It would like to emphasize that, even with the plotholes, I think the season is particularly brilliant. I've been very happy with the Twelfth Doctor era and I will be very upset to see him go. I'm also quite sad that Moff is leaving, too. Chris Chibnall has some big shoes to fill...



Enjoying "Quick Fixes"? Here's another one: The original, you might say!
http://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2015/08/fixing-continuity-glitches-quick-fixes.html

Friday, 19 May 2017

ANALYTICAL: MISSIONS FOR THE TIME LORDS

At the time of writing this, the Doctor undertaking missions for his people is strictly a Classic Series Thing. It could be entirely possible that we will see this phenomenon taking place at some point in the New Series - but it hasn't happened, yet. It doesn't help that, during most of the New Who Era, the Time Lords were believed to be extinct. It's hard to receive missions from a civilization that you think has been destroyed! But now that they seem to have returned to our Universe - the Time Lords may start dispatching him again. In fact, it's entirely possible that whatever is in that mysterious Vault might have something to do with a favor that Gallifrey needs him to do. We'll find out soon enough, of course. But, at this point, when we speak of Time Lord Missions - it will relate to stories strictly from the Classic Series. 


PROTOCOLS AND MOTIVES

With the exception of a few flashback sequences, the whole of the Doctor Who series concerns adventures that have transpired since the Doctor left his home planet and became a renegade. For the first six seasons, he appears to be flying completely under the radar of his people. When they do finally catch up with him - the Doctor is given his freedom at a price. Even during his exile on Earth, he is allowed some travelling privileges if he's willing to accomplish certain tasks on their behalf. After his full mobility is restored in The Three Doctors, the High Council (or, perhaps, the CIA - it's difficult to ascertain) continue to give the Doctor missions. A bargain seems to have been struck after the First Omega Crisis where he is allowed to break one of the greatest laws of his people but only if they can use him from time to time for their own purposes. We see him accomplish a few missions for the Time Lords during his Fourth Incarnation and one more time during his Sixth.

From the viewpoint of the audience, these missions for the Time Lords appear to start for the Third Doctor and carry through to the Sixth. The Fifth Doctor never seems to have to do any jobs for them and the work seems to finally completely peter out during his seventh incarnation. But, if we look a bit deeper, we see that this special arrangement between the Doctor and his people extends much further than first realized.

Another important point that I will try to raise is that these missions all seem to have a certain pattern to them. The Time Lords go about recruiting the Doctor in a certain manner and only engage him for very specific reasons. Essentially, his missions all have a certain set of protocols and motives within them. We'll break all of this down into very specific categories as the pretentious essay progresses. But first, let us define what a mission for the Time Lords actually is:


DEFINITION:

As usual, one of the best ways to define my point is to state what it isn't (if that makes any sense!). There are any number of occasions where the Doctor interacts with Time Lords and even goes about trying to accomplish something with them - but this does not constitute a specific mission given to him. In Deadly Assassin, for instance, the Doctor decides he must discover who the true killer of the former Lord President is. But it is a mission he chooses to undertake rather than one that is handed to him. That scene in Terror of the Autons where a Time Lord meets with him briefly on the radio tower to tell him that the Master is at work on Earth, very much, feels like he's being assigned a mission. But, technically, he's just receiving a warning. There's a difference.

To be more specific: a mission from the Time Lords is when the Doctor goes out on an adventure that his people want him to have. Certain things will be accomplished in that adventure that will advance an agenda of some sort for the inhabitants of Gallifrey. Oftentimes, (but not always) the Doctor is actually being told that he's on a mission. That he's doing some sort of handiwork for them.

As he points out in The Two Doctors, using a renegade to accomplish such tasks allows the Time Lords to maintain their stance of non-intervention. If the Doctor's true identity is ever discovered, his people will deny that they even sent him. Officially, he's there quite unofficially.


THE FIRST MISSION: ODD MAN OUT

Okay, now that we have the definition in place - let's get into some serious analysis. As I have already stated, these missions seem to follow a very specific set of patterns. The one exception to this pattern is the very first mission that he undertakes.

To all intents and purposes, the very first mission the Doctor is given seems to take place in Colony In Space. It is only in later stories that we learn there were other adventures where the Doctor was working on the Time Lords' behalf. We need to take a bit more of a retro-active stance to truly identify his first mission.

Strictly as the chronometer flies, the Doctor's first true mission for the Time Lords takes place way back in his first incarnation. At the behest of the Lord President, the First Doctor is brought forward in his own timeline to help his second and third incarnation deal with a Black Hole that is draining all power on Gallifrey. It's safe to say, then, that the next time the Doctor is sent on a mission for the Time Lords would be in his second incarnation. I would guess that it would happen sometime before the conclusion of Season 6. Again, the recruitment process is done in the same way. He's plucked from the proper place in his timestream and brought forward to assist his third incarnation.

When both incarnations are brought back to their proper location in time and space, it is most likely that they forget the whole incident. It may be that the Time Lords erased their memory or it may be because this just naturally happens when too many versions of the same person start meeting up (as is mentioned in Day of the Doctor). Whatever the case, the Doctor's first true mission for the Time Lords will only be remembered after it has happened to the Third Doctor.

It is interesting to note that the High Council explain to the Master during The Five Doctors that they could not find the Doctor in any of his incarnations. It seems likely that the whole trouble with the Death Zone was going to be another mission for the Doctor. That, because power on Gallifrey was being drained again, they might have been observing similar protocols to the ones they had used during the First Omega Crisis. They may have been considering using multiple incarnations of the Doctor to solve the problem, again. Otherwise, why would they look into locating all of the different versions of him? Silly postulation, of course. But still entirely possible.

For more silly postulation about memory issues during The Three Doctors, check out this entry:
http://robtymec.blogspot.ca/2015/06/fixing-continuity-glitches-double.html



AFTER THE THREE DOCTORS

So, if we keep things linear in a weird retro-active manner, the next mission the Doctor goes on that we are able to see is in The Two Doctors. Most fans see this adventure as taking place in what is commonly referred to as Season 6b. This is believed to be a series of adventures that were, hitherto, unseen by the audience until Season 20. The basic premise is that the Second Doctor was snatched away from his trial during The War Games just before he could regenerate. He was secretly granted his freedom to travel in his TARDIS - provided he would occasionally perform secret missions for his people. It's a theory fandom came up with so that certain continuity glitches that occur in The Two and Five Doctors will make sense. I know it's a bit weird to have to look at continuity in such a weird wibbly wobbly manner - but it's something that the show does from time-to-time. Just look at what happened during the 50th Anniversary when we were asked to accept a whole new incarnation that we never knew existed! Doctor Who just likes to re-write it's own history now and again.

For all the confusion it creates, The Two Doctors does follow the patterns that all other Time Lord missions move along. So, from this point onwards, anytime the Time Lords enlist the Doctor's aid - we will see a certain level of consistency to how things operate.

Just so we're clear, here are all the stories that fit into this pattern:

The Two Doctors
Colony In Space
Curse of Peladon
The Mutants
Genesis of the Daleks
Brain of Morbius
Attack of the Cybermen


PROTOCOLS:

The first pattern we'll point out is how the Doctor is actually recruited to perform these missions. Aside from the weird way in which he is plucked out of his timestream in The Three Doctors, the Time Lords always seem to respect Gallifreyan Mean Time. They approach the Doctor in the most current position of his timeline and enlist his aid. The actual recruitment, however, occurs in one of two distinct manners:

Overt:

We see this approach in The Two Doctors, Genesis of the Daleks and, to a large extent, The Mutants. The Time Lords make it very clear to the Doctor that the next adventure he is about to have is on their behalf. The best example of this is in Genesis of the Daleks - where a Time Lord briefly appears to the Doctor to explain to him that they want him to interfere with the early development of his greatest foe. The Doctor is under no illusion that this is not some random landing that he's having - the Time Lords are revealing to him that they have guided him to this point and they specifically want him to accomplish something for them. It's made even more clear that the Doctor is on a mission in Genesis because he doesn't even get to take his TARDIS there. The transmat beam he was travelling along was intercepted and he's brought to Skaro. It could not be made any clearer that he's working for his people in this story.

In the other two stories I've listed, the recruitment process is still overt. The Doctor still knows he's doing a job for the Time Lords. But it's not quite as clearly implied. At the beginning of The Two Doctors, we assume he's just had a similar confrontation to the one we saw in Genesis of the Daleks - it just didn't happen onscreen. But from the dialogue he has with Jamie, we can see that he knows he's undertaking a mission. So we assume a Time Lord communicated directly with him in some sort of manner to tell him what he had to do.

In The Mutants, a pod appears to the Doctor from out of nowhere. The Doctor immediately recognizes its purpose and knows he's about to embark on another mission for the Time Lords. This is why I consider this another Overt dispatch. He's been made clearly aware of the purpose of his next journey. The fact that he knows what the pod represents indicates to me that he has dealt with them before. Perhaps he's been assigned these pods during an unseen adventure or two in Season 6b. 

Covert

This is the most frequently-used method for assigning the Doctor his missions. Right in the first few minutes of Colony In Space, we see a group of Time Lords discussing the need to employ the Doctor to stop the Master on Uxarieus. But they suspect the Doctor is too bitter from his exile and is unlikely to cooperate if they approach him directly about it. They just choose to manipulate the situation so the Doctor believes he's arriving at his next destination by his own free will. In some cases, like Curse of Peladon or Attack of the Cybermen, the Doctor works out the truth as the adventure proceeds.

During Brain of Morbius, he immediately suspects his people are interfering with his travels. He does, later, admit to Maren that he's not entirely sure that it wasn't just a technical fault that landed him on Karn. But, from other clues that we see, this probably was a mission from the Time Lords.

Although it's never stated onscreen, we do guess that the Doctor works out that Colony In Space was a Time Lord mission. When he sees that his TARDIS no longer works once the Master has been thwarted, he probably puts Two and Two together. Which is probably what helps him make the educated guess that he leaps to at the end Curse of Peladon. He now recognizes the pattern of Covert Recruitment since he's seen it done to him once before. This may also be why his next few missions are Overt. The Time Lords realize he won't fall for their tricks, anymore.



MOTIVES:

The reasons why the Time Lords decide to use the Doctor to break The Laws of Non-Intervention also follow some pretty distinct patterns. Once more, The Three Doctors is the one exception to the rule. The Black Hole that Omega is using seems to be a threat that really only affects Gallifrey (Omega does start talking about destroying the Universe in later episodes but the Time Lords aren't, necessarily aware of this). Aside from this one story, the Time Lords always enlist the Doctor's help for one of three reasons:

Massive Threat To The Universe

In terms of the Doctor's personal timeline, this one was displayed for the first time in The Two Doctors. The Doctor is sent to Dastari to discuss the suspension of the Kartz and Reimer time experiments. The Time Lords are sure that this particular branch of time travel technology will punch a very dangerous hole in the Universe and, quite possibly, snuff it out of existence.

In terms of how we've been watching the show, the first time we see this motive being employed is in Genesis of the Daleks. The Time Lords foresee a time when the Daleks will succeed in controlling the entire Universe. So they send the Doctor to the Dawn of their Creation to alter this timeline.

Finally, the damage the Cybermen would do to the timelines by preventing the destruction of Mondas in Attack of the Cybermen would be catastrophic. He is covertly maneuvered into preventing the catastrophe


Cleaning Up Their Messes

This problem occurs a few times with the Time Lords. While the Doctor chose to leave Gallifrey for benevolent reasons, other defectors didn't have the noblest of intentions. Sometimes, these evil renegades develop a plan so nasty that the Doctor's course must be specifically diverted to deal with them.

Colony In Space is the first time we see this. The Master has stolen some secret information that the Time Lords were safeguarding about a Doomsday Weapon on the planet Uxareius. Should he actually get his hands on the weapon, it could prove devastating for all civilizations in the Universe. So they temporarily free the Doctor from his Exile to deal with it.

The other time we see this motive is in Brain of Morbius. Certain that the former Lord President has survived his execution on Karn, the Time Lords re-direct the Doctor's TARDIS to take him there and deal with it.

Intergalactic Politics

This one is, perhaps, the most mysterious of all the motives. Every now and again, the Time Lords seem to see certain political moves that need to be made to keep the Universe the way they want it to be. We have no idea, exactly, why these things must happen the way they do. We just know that it's important to the Time Lords that they occur.

For whatever reason, the Time Lords deemed it necessary for the planet Peladon to join the Intergalactic Federation (Curse of Peladon). Just as they needed the Solonians to truly break free of the exploitation of the Earth Empire (The Mutants). We can hypothesize all we want for why these changes needed to be instituted, but we'll never know for sure.


OTHER MISSIONS?

Of course, these are the stories where it was made clear to us that the Doctor was being dispatched by his people to handle certain problems. But we know that the Time Lords can be very covert in the way they manipulate his travels.

Ever noticed how it seems almost too coincidental that the Doctor shows up at certain places and certain times to right certain wrongs? Could it be that there have been other missions that he has been sent on where the Time Lords were manipulating him so deftly that even he couldn't tell?

They might just be the only race in the Universe who could outwit him to the point where they could use him without him knowing. And they understand better than most how moral of a creature he is. They don't need to tell him to interfere and influence things for the better. They just need to plop him down in the proper environment and he'll initiate the necessary changes without any prompting. Perhaps my definition can be broadened. Perhaps the Doctor has been on far more missions for his people than any of us can know.

Points to ponder...