The Companion Exit Strategy

Traveling with the Doctor changes lives. History has shown us the many natures of such a change: lives that open to a new awareness and sense of purpose in a larger universe; lives that are reminded of the value and comforts of home; lives that end abruptly, or even tragically. As viewers, we may identify with certain companions over the seasons, and when the time comes that they leave the program, we might react positively or negatively to the way in which that departure is written.

This week, joined by Mike Solko of the TimeScoop podcast, we walk the list of modern Doctor Who companions, and discuss how fitting (or unfitting) their exit from the program suited the character. We agree on a few (Donna), disagree pretty emphatically on others (River), but as it happens so often on GPR, we gain a broader perspective of the impact these characters have on the audience, and how much the show has really come to mean to us all.

BONUS: We go around the room, and choose how we would want to leave the TARDIS, if we were companions ourselves. (Ah, fandom.)

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It’s About Time

Jodie Whittaker, The Thirteenth Doctor

For over 53 years, the Doctor Who program has gone through a number of changes and evolutions: sometimes written into the construct of the show; other times in reaction to circumstances unforeseen. It is a complex and often messy collection of stories and characters. Doctor Who promotes the intellectual pursuits, the defense of those who call for help, the ethics of brains over brawn. It has attempted to be both a reflection of the issues familiar to the viewing audience, and an escape from those issues into the world of pure science fiction. There have been omissions in these efforts, however, and one that is clear to both those familiar and unfamiliar with the program is that, despite the conceit that the titular character can completely change their physiology at a point of mortal ailment, at no point among the dozen (plus) actors blessed to portray the Doctor, has a single one been a woman.

Until today.

With a single minute video announcement that rocked the foundations of one of the most globally recognized science fiction programs in history, the role of the Thirteenth Doctor has been handed to Jodie Whittaker — and we could not be more thrilled.

Joined by fellow podcasters Danica and Brandon of Doctor Whooch, we spend a full hour on the subject of the Thirteenth Doctor casting decision, looking at the impact of such a momentous step in the evolution of the show, making sense the reactions of the public, reviewing the career and talents of Ms. Whittaker, and considering the ways we might keep ourselves from going insane waiting until as late as 2019 for Series 11, and the beginning of this bold new era.

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Series 10 In Review

Series 10 in Review

Christmas may be a painfully long way off, but when we think about it, we’ve actually been handed twelve days of gifts, courtesy of the BBC. (Sorry we didn’t get you kids anything in return…unless you count merchandising profits, in which case, you’re welcome.) Series 10 of Doctor Who was arguably a triumph, particularly for those who have been stalwart in Stephen Moffat’s defense, been overwhelmed by Peter Capaldi’s fanboy-earns-title-role portrayal of the Doctor, and the highly praiseworthy performances by Matt Lucas, Michelle Gomez, and the incomparable Pearl Mackie.

We may be in complete denial of the fact that the end of an era is nigh, and there may be those rabble-rousing few who grumble “good riddance” in troll-scented tones across cyberspace, but we here at the Citadel studios consider ourselves fortunate that we have a dozen entertaining, thought-provoking, sometimes amusing, and very often emotionally stirring episodes to add to the Whovian pantheon. It has been a stellar season, and we are the better for having experienced it.

This week, we look back at the breadth of Series 10, and reflect on its entertainment and emotional effectiveness. Joined by friend of the cast Kathleen Schowalter, we unpack the themes, tones, and conveyed message of the season as a whole, wherever applicable. Friendly disagreements ensue, and differing opinions are acknowledged and respected, but very little blood is shed, honestly.

BONUS: We run through the obligatory superlatives among the episodes, selecting our highs, lows, cheers and jeers among the twelve.

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The Doctor Falls

The Doctor Falls

How many times have we known that we were witnessing the waning moments of the current Doctor’s term, regeneration was nigh, and that heartache was imminent, yet we were riveted to the screen? And in those moments, how much time was spent in the episode where the Doctor himself knew that time was at hand? With few exceptions, these exercises in loss (for both character and audience) have been graciously brief, relatively speaking. The quick-pull of the bandage, if you will.

When your showrunner is also a showman, however, and knows that the fiercest arrows in his quiver are named “drama”, “emotion”, “witness”, and “time”. Moffat will ensure that hearts are laid bare by the events to come, the reactions will be profound and cathartic, they will seek to shake the core of all who take part, and — as we now see — they will not be brief. We will linger.

This week, we draw the incredible tenth series of the renewed Doctor Who to a close (if you will) with “The Doctor Falls”. We scream for respite from the pain of Bill’s predicament, and get a most unexpected response. We beg for the resolution of a millennia-old struggle between Doctor and Master, and are handed an outcome that leaves us agape. We hope for a closure to the Twelfth Doctor’s struggle to rediscover himself, a ‘good man’, renewed as the champion of those who cry out for help, anywhere and at any time, and find the most unlikely guide steps forward to aid in that last journey. Christmas of 2017 is going to be one very melancholy holiday, indeed.

BONUS: We step through the many and various responses to our tweeted question about Capaldi possibly emerging as some listeners’ ‘official’ Doctor after Series 10.

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World Enough and Time

World Enough and Time

We could not count the times over the course of the past five-plus years on GPR that we have come to the defense of Steven Moffat. His writing, his style of production, his casting choices, his vision for the series, his whimsical-bordering-upon-maddening way of talking about the program through vague words and red herrings. Through it all, we recognized that he is a consummate fan, like us in many ways, and he revels in putting forth stories and ideas that delight and astonish him — in hopes that we will share in that delight and astonishment.

With this most recent episode, he must be grinning like the cat who ate the canary at what he has accomplished…and he’s not quite finished with us yet.

This week, we release our grip on the edges of our seats long enough to reflect on “World Enough and Time”, the penultimate episode of Series 10, and the first of an unofficial trilogy leading up to the end of Moffat’s tenure as showrunner, and the close of Peter Capaldi’s time as the Twelfth Doctor. Given the perfect storm of a solid TARDIS team, the fascinating return of Mondasian Cybermen, and the baffling duo of Missy and the Harold Saxon Master, we had high expectations. We were not wrong. In fact, we were unprepared for how intense it would be. We discuss the emotions (many), the tone of Rachel Talalay’s direction (chilling), the complexity yet plausibility of the script (wonderful), and the questions left to be answered…or so we hope…with the series finale episode to come, and yet a regeneration that is reported to occur months later, but yet…BUT YET.

Oh, Steven; you brilliant, maddening, magnificent bastard, you.

BONUS: We announce the winner of our latest listener contribution contest, where we discussed the DW contributions of Mark Gatiss!

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