Before the Flood

Before the Flood

In 1941, esteemed science fiction author Robert Heinlein published a short story titled “By His Bootstraps”. In it, a scholar Mr. Wilson writing a thesis on metaphysics and time travel, is met by individuals claiming to be from the future. After a series of argumentative and even physical confrontations, Wilson is brought to the future and becomes a man of great power, and realizes after some period that he must inherently become one of those individuals venturing back to meet his former self, and ensure the process occurs as it had. The story concludes, however, with his reflection on who (if anyone) first set him on the path to future greatness, if he himself was the one who continually circles back to assist his ‘predecessor’.

Toby Whithouse has taken this inspiration and forged a conclusion to the previous “Under the Lake” ghost tale that is not only unexpected, but when viewed as a two-episode set, makes for a most glorious return to the timey-wimey story manipulation that so many Whovians revel in. What we thought we understood of a deep-sea siege with spectral overtones suddenly becomes a paradoxical challenge to the Laws of Time, and our good Doctor once again has to stare hard at the immutability of the “known future”, the morality of “risking one to save all”, and other elements of Doctor Who that make for most enjoyable episodes…and series.

This week, we stare into the dead eyes of our own electromagnetic residual images in “Before the Flood”, and wonder if the Bootstrap Paradox and its seemingly inescapable causal loops are the greater villain than the underutilized Fisher King.

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Comparing Timepieces: Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel

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So, what’s your ideal job? No, not that one. You know, the one you could have if nothing were impossible. Of course…Timelord, naturally. Is it any wonder that a comedic romp through the dangers, pitfalls and ripple-effect repercussions of time travel would be written about a group of science fiction geeks, in a film for science fiction geeks, and penned by a science fiction geek (who just also happens to be a current writer for Doctor Who)? It’s as if this were all some sort of predestined, inalterable course of events…

This week, we celebrate our 150th episode, not with champagne and caviar, but with pints of bitter and stale crisps as we close our temporal appreciation arc with the 2009 comedy Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel. Written by Whovian alumnus Jamie Mathieson (Flatline, Mummy on the Orient Express, and the upcoming The Girl Who Died), we remark on the clever balance of comedy and scientific theory, remark on the fact that 2/3 of our GPR cast had never seen the film before (much to the remaining third’s astonishment), and gain a sense of certainty that Series 9, Episode 5 is going to be nothing short of spectacular.

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Comparing Timepieces: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

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There are pivotal moments, singularities if you will, that not only define who we are in the annals of history, but within our own identities. We learn that we are part of a greater purpose, and that our actions — however seemingly trivial — are the beat of a butterfly’s wings that eventually cause the rise of a hurricane. The realization of our interconnectedness, the holistic relevance of all things we say and do, opens our eyes and awareness to a universe vastly greater than we had even imagined. In the face of this incredible and overwhelming epiphany, we have but one reaction — EPIC AIR GUITAR RIFF!

This week, we continue looking at popular film examples of time travel with the late 1980s comedy, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. With a time machine in the guise of a phone booth, a sagely guide from the future and a pair of human companions learning the black-and-white rules (and gray margins) of causality, we can’t help but draw more than a few comparisons to the methods and mechanisms within Doctor Who.

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Comparing Timepieces: Back to the Future

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Exactly 30 years ago, the world was introduced to the McFly family, and the amazing (albeit scattered) mind of Doctor Emmett Brown. From that day forward, the notion of time travel in the American mind would never be the same. But after three decades and as many films in the franchise, how does the story line up with the way we theorize about theoretical time travel today?

This week, we discuss the Back to the Future trilogy and the way it portrays both the mechanisms and ramifications of time travel. Being good Whovians, we also dive into how the films’ treatment of these concepts compares to the same within the world of Doctor Who as we know it.

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