Sunday, August 05, 2007

Hmm...

Should I just put up an open thread here every week for Doctor Who discussion in the comments? I know several folks here are watching the episodes as they air in the US, and people do seem to like discussing them. (Er, not least of all me, of course. But if you will encourage me...)

47 comments:

  1. What episode are they up to on the Sci-Fi Channel?

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  2. Apparently Friday was "Evolution of the Daleks."

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  3. Pretty good episode too.

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  4. I didn't actually like this particular two-parter all that much on first viewing, but as I said to Kathy, I think, in one of the previous posts' comments, it's grown on me.

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  5. Ok well I've finished watching part II and honestly thought part I was better despite what you were saying. At the beginning I thought "Evolution of the Daleks" was sort of ridiculous. It got quite a bit better by the end I must say :)Overall, though the 2 parter ended up not being as horrible as I had thought and I can understand how Dad liked part 2 there were a lot of cool things. However, I am really looking forward to some of the later episodes. I have to confess...... I ... may have spoiled myself reading the reviews. I couldn't help it!!!!!!!!!!Not surprised thought

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  6. whoooppssss though not thought

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  7. It was sort of ridiculous... If you think about the plot too hard -- or at all, really -- it makes absolutely no sense. But I did rather like some of the issues it touched on.

    And what the hell are you doing, reading spoilers?! Damn it! Which episodes did you go and spoil yourself for? Because if the thing you're not surprised at is the thing I imagine you're not surprised at, I bet you would have been surprised! I was surprised! Even if it wasn't surprising in theory. :)

    (There. How's that for me being vague and not spoiling anybody for anything? :))

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  8. Ok it is the thing that you are thinking and of course I would have been surprised reading the circumstances that it came up in. However I'm not surprised that the certain surprise came up?
    Make sense hehehehe
    I know I know I feel like I'm cheated myself out of that one. That's the last I'm going to say on the blog because before are pretty smart.

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  9. Yes, that's exactly what I meant. And, yes, you did. And, yes, that's all I'm going to say. :)

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  10. I was pleasantly surprised by "42". (played last night on CBC) I thought it was going to be a very boring ship-about-to-ram-into a-celestial-body-and-oh-no-the-crew-gets-possessed-story. But it was more like Solaris on steroids. Looking forward to the next two parter.
    BTW, as my own computer cannot handle bit torrent, I am trying to get a friend of mine to download "Intelligence" so I can send it off to you. The Ceeb doesn't have the money for its own Sci-Fi, but it does put out a great cop/espionage show.

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  11. "42" isn't one of my favorite episodes, and it does feel a bit filler-y at that point in the season, but it's not bad, and it's got a couple of particularly good moments. And, man, do you have some good stuff coming up!

    As for "Intelligence," I confess to never having heard of it. Eep, that's all I need! More to watch! But when people recommend stuff to me, more often than not it turns out to be worthwhile, so, hey. :)

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  12. There are non bit-torrent options aplenty, but I hesitate to mention them...lest they disappear...

    I liked "42". I even liked "The Lazarus Experiment." But yes, they both feel very much like filler episodes. But, really, doesn't the fact that we're complaining about "filler" at all suggest just how good the rest of it is? And is there really anything wrong with a stand-alone adventure-of-the-week every now and then?

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  13. Betty is turning into a Doctor Who snob :) j/k

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  14. Fred: Oh, I have nothing whatsoever against stand-alone adventures-of-the-week. In fact, I think I'd like to see a few more of them next season... I'm generally a huge fan of story arcs, but part of the fun of Doctor Who is the fact that you really can go to different, completely unrelated places in time and space every week, and I'd hate to see that sort of episodic fun disappear. Some stand-alones are better than others, though. Alas, they can't all be written by Stephen Moffat.

    Kathy: Dude, I don't even begin to qualify as a Doctor Who snob. My love for the show is far too unconditional. When I say something is "not one of my favorite episodes," I only mean that I'd rather watch it than 99% of what's on TV, rather than 99.99%. ;)

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  15. I love Moffat as much as the next guy, but I worry that he wouldn't seem quite as brilliant if he was writing more than just one episode a year.

    I mean, Jekyll was a lot of fun and everything, but it was a little messier.

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  16. That's a risk I'd be prepared to take. :)

    Still haven't seen Jekyll, but I'm definitely intending to check it out eventually.

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  17. It's weird, but worth it. James Nesbitt is pretty terrific in it.

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  18. I love Moffat as much as the next guy, but I worry that he wouldn't seem quite as brilliant if he was writing more than just one episode a year.

    We may find out next season. According to rumour, Russell T Davies may give up the role of series producer and Moffat is his possible replacement. Presumably that would make it likely that he would write more episodes.

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  19. I've heard that rumor, too. I've also heard denials of it, I think. I'm not at all sure what the truth is, but I'm not putting too much stock into it at the moment.

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  20. I've also heard the rumor that Davies is leaving altogether after the fourth series. Which, while I think he's getting a bad rap in a lot of quarters, doesn't trouble me as much as the idea that Tennant's rumored to be going with him.

    Which brings up a question I've been having, that maybe you can answer. How old is the Doctor supposed to be? Hundreds and hundreds of years is what I've read, but if none of his regenerations seem to survive more than so many years, does that mean the First Doctor was just really, really old when he was first introduced? I know time is a relatively concept (wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey as it is), but are there supposed to be hundreds of years of adventures we just never see between episodes and series? Am I thinking about this completely wrong?

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  21. I know there was a rumor that Tennant was going to be leaving and some actor from Jekyll was going to be replacing him, but that was pretty firmly refuted, I think.

    And, ah, you have asked a complex question which Doctor Who fans can debate about for ages, and which I could probably write a whole article on, myself. :)

    OK. The Fourth Doctor, IIRC, claims to be something like 750. The Sixth Doctor refers to himself as being 900 years old, though he was likely rounding off. The Seventh Doctor says he's 953, which is actually an important plot point in the episode, so it can be assumed to be correct. You'll notice that the Ninth Doctor repeatedly claims to be 900... My personal theory about that is that the Doctor, having passed the Big One-Triple-Oh and being a bit sensitive about it, is lying about his age, which doesn't seem at all out of character. (In fact, I think the Fourth Doctor was a bit touchy about being considered "middle-aged" and shaved off a few years at one point when talking to a much younger Time Lord.) The only difficulty with that interpretation is that there's a reference to the 900-year figure for the Tenth Doctor from, erm, an entity that you'd really think ought to know the actual number. Although even that's not a real problem, given that we're talking about a time traveller and how long he's subjectively been alive, which isn't exactly something one can calculate simply by subtracting his birthdate from the current date. (Which in turn creates a problem with the Seventh Doctor's aforementioned plot point, but I think this is probably confusing enough already without getting into that. :))

    Anyway, there are two main points here: 1) The Doctor is at least 900, probably well over 1,000. And 2) His stated age increases by a number of centuries over the course of the show (if you ignore the fact that he now appears to be going backwards). In fact, I just did a quick reference check, and the Second Doctor claims to be 450, so that's a lot of time to account for!

    We don't know how old the First Doctor was when he left Gallifrey, but he appeared to be a very old man when we first met him, and Time Lords do appear to age much, much more slowly than humans, even without regenerating. (Romana, for example, was something like 125, IIRC, but the actress playing her was in, I think, her late 20s.) So he could have and probably did spend several centuries on Gallifrey before we ever met him.

    The 600 years or so since then are harder to account for, especially given that he almost always has human companions and they don't appear to age significantly during their travels with him. There are a few companionless gaps that you could figure take place over a much longer period than they seem to, although that seems like a bit of a stretch. It's also entirely possible that he sometimes pops off for very long periods and then returns ten seconds later with his friends never knowing the difference. (I personally like the idea that he mopes around a bit on his own in between the time he leaves Rose in "Rose" and when he comes back and says "Did I mention it also travels in time?") There's also a period where he's traveling with a fellow Time Lord, which could plausibly hold a century or more of untelevised adventures.

    Basically, though, the question of his age a really odd thing, and not one that easy to make sense of. But, of course, Doctor Who is full of those sorts of thing. They're fun to make up crazy theories about. :)

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  22. Oh, and it's probably also relevant to note that he seems to be constantly making references to stuff we've never seen on screen: famous people he's met, interesting places he's been, etc. And he displays close familiarity with a hell of a lot of races, time periods, technologies, etc., even when they're new to the audience. Even if some of that is due to exaggeration and fake over-confidence, which is possible, there's a strong implication that he's really been around, a lot more than we've seen. Of course, a lot of that could have happened pre-series.

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  23. Thanks. That clears things up...as much as they probably can be cleared up.

    Of course, even if Timelords age much more slowly, the First Doctor is the only one that appears to have actually aged to the point of looking like an old man.

    By comparison, he's been almost careless with his other regenerations.

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  24. Which isn't actually very much clearing up, I'm aware. Welcome to Doctor Who. Pretty much everything is like that. :)

    Some of the other Doctors were moderately old-looking, but they started out that way, and none of them has been as down right elderly as the first. He was certainly the only one to regenerate due to old age.

    But then, the first Doctor did probably spend a lot of time on Gallifrey, which was very possibly one of the safest places in the universe. Well, until it wasn't.

    He was also, I think, a lot less likely to engage in noble acts of self-sacrifice or deliberately throw himself in harm's way than later Doctors. Wander absently into harm's way out of idle curiosity, yes... :)

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  25. I'm sure a lot has to do with the realities of whomever was playing or writing the character at the time.

    I do like the idea you suggest with "Rose," however. That he could have gone off, had years, maybe centuries, of adventures, then thought, "you know, hang on, that Rose Tyler, she was nice. Maybe I should have told her the TARDIS could travel in time, too. I'll go do that now."

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  26. I kind of doubt, just for character reasons, that it was centuries. His whole survivor's-guilt thing over the time war feels too fresh. But I do like the idea that maybe he went off by himself for, oh, a few months maybe, realized that being alone was no fun, and went back for the last promising companion-candidate. :)

    It would explain the fact that, in that episode, Doctor-spotter Clive has lots of records and pictures featuring the Ninth Doctor in places we never saw him, with no Rose in sight.

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  27. No telling how long the 3rd Doctor as trapped in the Time Vortex before he regenerated in Planet of the Spiders.

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  28. I forget exactly, but doesn't the novelization say it took, like, years and years and years? I'm not entirely sure I can swallow that, though, if only because it's so awful.

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  29. Betty:
    In the book it doesn't actually state years and years. I always got the impression seriously that it was a long time, years. Even though I too think it's horrible, I don't feel it's inappropriate to be considered cannon.
    Anyway, I hope you don't think I was implying it was for our 400 years, but just an example of the type of thing that could plug in some of the gaps. If you want not disregard anything from prior episodes rather than just either continuity issues or the show deciding that he should be much older.

    I can see you pulling out your copy of Planet of the Spiders now :)

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  30. I found this little blurb with someone's take on it the age issue. I'm not buying it though:

    How old is The Doctor?

    This question is difficult to answer, especially considering that The Doctor tends to lie about his age. Though the subject rarely has a bearing on specific events, I address it for the sake of completeness. While there must be gaps between stories to account for unseen events, I don't believe The Doctor aged 500 years between his second and seventh incarnations. My assumption is that he uses different dating systems depending on the circumstances. The Second Doctor tells Victoria Waterfield that he's 450 years old "in human terms" (The Tomb of the Cybermen). The Fourth Doctor, in a conversation with Sarah Jane Smith (Pyramids of Mars) which specifically highlights the differences between Time Lords and humans, says that he's around 750, and several of his subsequent stories confirm this. Since these later references are usually in conversations with Romana, another Time Lord, it seems obvious to me that, in these cases, he's using Gallifreyan dating. To further support this idea, at the time of his trial by a Gallifreyan tribunal, The Sixth Doctor is 900 years old, and The Seventh Doctor says that both he and The Rani, who'd certainly use the Gallifreyan calendar, are 953. (I'm aware that The Third Doctor hinted on occasion that he had been around for "thousands of years". I'm assuming, based on his habit of mentioning historical figures as personal friends, that these statements are meant to indicate the range of history that he'd witnessed, rather than being literally true.)

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  31. Oh this is really unrelated to the age of The Doctor but it made me think about it.
    When The Doctor tells Martha the truth that he the "last" of the Time Lords. He is king of lamenting and mentions his family, friends etc all gone and had earlier but describing Gallifrey. I thought it interesting to see that side since he always felt like the Time Lords were pompous, rule following etc. etc. and of course no one knows what his back story exactly is(well maybe Betty does hehehe) I get the impression that he was a rebealous sort and that the life was not for him. But makes we wonder when he mentions family and friends.

    I'm off to the doctor's(my physician that is :))

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  32. The book doesn't actually say that? Hmm. Where is it that I read that idea, then? Because I know it didn't occur to me when I first saw "Planet of the Spiders." I remember being utterly shocked at the thought. (And I would so be reaching for the book right now, if I weren't actually writing this at work and don't have it with me.)

    I do wonder how much time it's possible to account for with those kinds of canonical gaps... Probably not 500 years, but there are enough of them that they could add up to a substantial percentage of that.

    Different dating systems is definitely one explanation, but you'd think he'd at least be consistent when dealing with other Time Lords, and that still leaves a damned big gap between Romana giving his age as 750 (or 760, or whatever it was) and declaring that he and the Rani were both 953. On the other hand, why the hell he'd figure that he and the Rani must be the same age, simply because they were born in the same year, given how much time travel both of them have done, does make me wonder if there isn't something else, possibly something much stranger going on there.

    As for your last point... Yes, I do find that extremely interesting. Oh, heck. This comment is hugely long already, and I've got to stop and do some work right now. I'll address that in another comment, because it's a fascinating piece of characterization, IMHO.

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  33. All right. I'm back. Where was I? :)

    Yeah, it kind of bemuses me that if you come into the new series as a newbie viewer -- as a lot of people have -- you'll never get the impression that he had anything but the deepest affection and love for his planet and his people. When, of course, the reality is that most of the time when he had to go back home, he couldn't get away from the place fast enough! And he was deeply critical of Time Lord society. "Decadent, degenerate, and rotten to the core," the Sixth Doctor called them at his trial. Of course, it was Six, and he was pretty pissed off, but still.

    That seems like it might be kind of weird and contradictory, but I do think it's actually very interesting and believable characterization. It is too often true that you don't appreciate what you have until it's gone. The analogy I like to use is that the Doctor is sort of like a rebellious teenager who never got along with his parents, and now his parents are dead. The fact that he fought with them all the time doesn't make it easier to deal with, it makes it harder.

    I think, also, that the Doctor's always sort of defined himself by his rejection of the Time Lord way of life, and now that they're gone he's in the weird position of not having anything to rebel against any more. Which has all sorts of interesting implications that I won't bore you by yammering on about right now. :) But I think that before he always knew in the back of his mind that a different kind of life was possible, that Gallifrey was always there for him if he ever did want to go back. Now that that's not an option, he finds himself missing it, and possibly missing all the opportunities he turned down to spend time there while it still existed.

    Oh, and as far as his family goes... Well, we know pretty much nothing, of course, and even the current Doctor's occasional offhand references haven't changed that fact much. The Second Doctor did once mention having a family, and said he loved them but tried not to think about them much. ("They sleep in my mind.") Who knows what that means, but, hey, presumably Susan came from somewhere. As discussed above, it is likely that he lived on Gallifrey for centuries before he left.

    I also saw an interesting speculation somewhere that the Time War may well have taken a very, very long time and proceeded very, very slowly at first, and that he might have spent a fair amount of Time on Gallifrey before the end, and come to appreciate it again. There's no reason to believe that's not true, either. But, man, what a sad thought: the Doctor finally coming home to stay and then losing that home. *sniffle*

    By the way, on a slightly different (but related) note, his description of Gallifrey to Martha is interesting, because he does describe it as such a beautiful place, using some of the same words that Susan did in describing her homeworld, way back before it even had a name. Which amuses me a bit, because whenever we actually saw it, it looked just like another English quarry. :) I'm trying to tell myself that it really was beautiful, and was just misrepresented on screen, in exactly the same way that all those rubber monsters were in fact realistic and scary. :)

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  34. But didn't everything on the older Doctor Who look like a rock quarry?

    And, when time travel is involved, isn't something like "Last of the Timelords" sort of a relative concept? I mean, wouldn't Timelords still exist somewhere in time, the same way that past incarnations of the Doctor have? Or did the Time War somehow erase Gallifrey from existence, except for the Doctor?

    Or has that not even been answered?

    It's funny, but even after the first year of the new series, I don't think I was as interested in these questions.

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  35. Yes. The universe consists almost entirely of quarries, apparently. :)

    As for your second question, that hasn't really been answered, but the reasonable conclusion is that, yes, something in the nature of the Time War did, indeed, erase Gallifrey and the Time Lords from reality, and that no matter where or when he goes looking for them, he won't find them. How the hell that works and exactly what it means for the nature of cause and effect in the universe, I don't know. I suspect my brain might implode if I did.

    It's funny, but even after the first year of the new series, I don't think I was as interested in these questions.

    Ah, but you are one of us now. :)

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  36. Ok a little checking shows that one of the Laws of Time says that you can't travel into Gallifrey's past anyway.

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  37. I know that's been widely assumed, but did they ever explicitly say that in the show itself? And it's also sort of implied several times that the Laws of Time are less physical laws and more, well, things the Time Lords want to keep people from doing. Still, I'm entirely willing to buy that one.

    But what about Time Lords who weren't on Gallifrey? Even if they all went back for the War, they'd still exist in all the places they had been before, if you get what I mean. Now, I could see the Doctor avoiding them according to the principle that it's a really bad idea to cross their timelines, but that doesn't seem to fit with the fact that the Doctor claims not to be able to sense any of them anywhere in the universe (which he seems extremely certain he would), and the fact that they really don't seem to exist any more except as vague myths and legends.

    I suspect this is just one of those not entirely unusual Doctor Who things that just really doesn't make much sense if you think about it too hard. Which in itself we can handwave away by saying that, well, as 21st-century humans we're just not capable of understanding this stuff in ways that make sense to us. :)

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  38. 3. No Gallifreyan shall meet another Time Lord whose incarnations is out of sync with there own timestream. This prevents damage to space time.

    I saw this one as a sub section of one of the laws. that people are extrapolating I guess

    The whole thing makes my head hurt

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  39. Now, I'm quite sure that one was never stated, although it certainly seems reasonable, and would explain why the Doctor never does seem to encounter other Time Lords out of sync. Except, in a few unusual cases, himself. And I think those cases were in fact orchestrated by the Time Lords, who frequently do seem to feel quite free to break their own rules.

    That still doesn't account for the Doctor's insistence that they're all gone and he can't sense them anymore, though. Or maybe it does. I don't know. My head's starting to hurt, too.

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  40. In the send-up of English history teaching entitled "1066 And All That", it was famously stated that "history is what you can remember". I think that the Doctor Who scriptwriters' attitude has always been that continuity is what you can remember. Other shows may have carefully documented such things for future writers to use, but I don't think that Doctor Who ever has. Or if it has, no-one has ever made use of it.

    It's no accident that some fans once wrote a book entitled "The Discontinuity Guide".

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  41. Ok let's say they were all removed out of time because of whatever the Time Lords did to "end" the time war by destroying themselves.And let's say The Doctor wasn't because he pushed the button that did it? Although, that would change history. I don't know just a thought. And other "things" could be accounted for in other ways that may have already been addressed in episodes I haven't seen. I guess I have to rewatch the first Season to see what The Doctor actually says.

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  42. I tend to agreed with John on his take on the how old is The Doctor discussion.

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  43. John: Well, yes, of course. Doctor Who has always taken an extremely, er, casual approach to continuity. And it actually gets away with it to a remarkable degree, too. That doesn't mean it isn't an interesting exercise to try to figure out how it might all fit together. It just means that I don't worry too much when I fail. :)

    (The Discontinuity Guide, by the way, is very cool, and I recommend it.)

    Kathy: Yes, something like that is exactly what I was thinking. And you'd think it would change history. Which it certainly could have, although you then run into the fact that, say, Sarah Jane still remembers the Doctor dumping her to take off for Gallifrey, which means she remembers Gallifrey existing.

    It's never really been spelled out at all.

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  44. I get the distinct impression they're working their way towards showing us more of Gallifrey, if not more of the Doctor's youth and family...

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  45. I don't mind the occasional flashback to Gallifrey or something, especially now that it no longer looks like a quarry. :) And they actually did show us quite a bit of it in the old series. I'm not sure I ever want to be handed the Doctor's life story, though. The character's mystery is part of his appeal.

    It is interesting that, after not so much as mentioning the name of the planet for a full season, we're getting a fair bit of discussion of Gallifrey. In character terms, that might be attributable to the Doctor finally being ready to talk about it a bit, and to the fact that Martha (unlike Rose) is willing to push him when he clams up. In terms of what the writers are doing... I dunno. They might simply have exactly those character points in mind. They might be working up to showing us a bit more, delving into the Doctor's past or something, or they may just be dropping random hints about things for fun. It's also quite likely that... Damn. There is no way for me to make this point without spoilers. How about: it's possible they've already done the thing they were working up to.

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  46. Well, my impression is based on both bits that have been mentioned in the episodes, and in a couple of the BBC commentaries. Still, I could be wrong. We might not get anything more than the occasional "I was a dad once," sort of comment from the Doctor.

    And those comments may just be the writers having fun -- writers who, by and large, grew up watching Doctor Who and are now making sly comments and inside jokes. They might not necessarily be any attempt to add to the canon or demystify mysteries.

    There's a part of me that wants to know, but I think you're right: much of the character's appeal comes in our not knowing.

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  47. One thing that Doctor Who has always sort of done when it comes to the Doctor's backstory, etc, is to reveal or hint at things that leave you with another big batch of questions for every answer. Somehow, one way or another, I don't really expect that to change. :)

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