SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who and Torchwood:Miracle Day; Steven Moffat on River Song

Night Terrors was an enjoyable,  99 percent stand-alone, episode of Doctor Who written by Mark Gattis. We were first led to believe it was about a boy who feared  monsters in his closet. We ultimately found that the monsters were real and that it wasn’t Narnia in his cupboard. It turned out that the most important fears were not really of the monsters but a child’s fear (even if the child wasn’t human) of being rejected.

I have one complaint about the episode. Although it seemed to deal with problems George had his entire life, everything major happened one night. This included getting the distress call to the Doctor to save him from the monsters to George making people in his apartment complex, along with the visitors from the TARDIS, all disappear. There was no indication that he did this to people he feared before this night. Gattis should have worked in some reason to claim that George’s powers were stronger that night to explain these things.

In an episode dealing with children’s fears, Mark Gattis was asked to write a nursery rhyme to tie into the season’s arc:

Tick tock goes the clock
And what now shall we play?
Tick tock goes the clock
Now summer’s gone away?

Tick tock goes the clock
And what then shall we see?
Tick tock until the day
That thou shalt marry me

Tick tock goes the clock
And all the years they fly
Tick tock and all too soon
You and I must die

Tick tock goes the clock
We laughed at fate and mourned her
Tick tock goes the clock
Even for the Doctor

Tick tock goes the clock
He cradled her and he rocked her
Tick tock goes the clock
Even for the Doctor…

This season’s arc is even more remarkable as River Song’s story goes back to well before this season. Viewing Let’s Kill Hitler suggested that, while Steven Moffat may have had a general idea for River Song’s story, he hadn’t planned it all out ahead of time. If he had, it would have only made sense to have such a good friend of Amy’s be seen in previous episodes. Some idea of how the storyline came about can be seen in Maureen Ryan’s interview of Steven Moffat. Reading the full interview it is obvious that it occurred before Let’s Hill Hitler.

I’m interested in the conception of the River Song story. In ‘Silence in the Library,’ did you already know she was going to be the daughter of a companion?
Oh no, no. I mean, it was one possible theory. Why is it somebody who’s got such connections, who would that be? Is it just a future companion? What if it’s somebody’s got a lifelong commitment to the Doctor or his companion? So when I introduced Amy, I kept my options open [and used the name Pond]. I thought I was doing [the name thing] in plain sight and nobody [caught] it for a long while. But I didn’t know at the time Karen was going to stay long enough for that story to come off. I didn’t know if Alex would keep coming back.

So Plan A held, but there were other ones, including the [Plan B] that maybe River never came back at all and you could just imagine that she knows the 59th Doctor in the far future.

Actually I, and I’m sure many others, were suspicious of a connection between the names Pond and River for quite a while, and there was considerable speculation that River was Amy’s daughter before this was confirmed.

Later in the interview:

With River Song and her meeting the Doctor “backwards,” is that important to the character? Is that something that needs to be explained?
When she says that, she’s being poetic, to some degree. The broad sweep of how she meets the Doctor is out of sequence. It’s not necessarily always exactly out of sequence. It’s been taken to mean, by some people, but that every time they meet, it’s the exact reverse. We already know that’s not true. And we’ve seen it not be true.

But look at it from River’s point of view — it feels as though every time she meets him [it’s backwards], and she knows the day is coming when he won’t know her at all. There’s an adventure she hasn’t had yet where the Doctor doesn’t know her. She knows it’s coming. She is generalizing: “Most of the times I meet him, generally he’s younger and knows me slightly less well.”

Will we ever know why that was the case? Does it matter for her character?
Why should we always meet people in the right order?

I don’t know, it might help time-travel dummies like me.
But who says you would [meet people that way]? It’s actually highly improbable that if you traveled around in time — why would you meet people in the right order? What law, what ticking clock is making that [happen]?

With River Song and her meeting the Doctor “backwards,” is that important to the character? Is that something that needs to be explained?
When she says that, she’s being poetic, to some degree. The broad sweep of how she meets the Doctor is out of sequence. It’s not necessarily always exactly out of sequence. It’s been taken to mean, by some people, but that every time they meet, it’s the exact reverse. We already know that’s not true. And we’ve seen it not be true.

But look at it from River’s point of view — it feels as though every time she meets him [it’s backwards], and she knows the day is coming when he won’t know her at all. There’s an adventure she hasn’t had yet where the Doctor doesn’t know her. She knows it’s coming. She is generalizing: “Most of the times I meet him, generally he’s younger and knows me slightly less well.”

Will we ever know why that was the case? Does it matter for her character?
Why should we always meet people in the right order?

I don’t know, it might help time-travel dummies like me.
But who says you would [meet people that way]? It’s actually highly improbable that if you traveled around in time — why would you meet people in the right order? What law, what ticking clock is making that [happen]?

I’ve been suspecting that Russell T. Davies pitched the general idea of Torchwood: Miracle Day and was given ten episodes before he had any idea as to how he would fill this many episodes. Some episodes felt like they were just filler. Even this week’s episode, The Gathering, seemed to be killing time when they had the authorities search Gwen’s home not once, but twice. It would have been better to limit to one search, and spend more time showing events which were limited to discussion this episode.

I am having difficulty figuring out the motivation here for such aggressive action against Category 1 individuals. I can see the justification (ignoring the moral issues) of burning them if they are using up limited hospital facilities, but it wouldn’t be worth extensive police resources to hunt out people kept at home. It would be different if they knew that Gwen was robbing pharmacies for supplies, but they clearly have no suspicion of that.

The episode did show a move towards despotism. Rather than searching out Category 1 individuals, I would suspect that instead we would be seeing forced sterilizations to offset the population growth from the near-absence of death.

An even bigger complaint about how the series has been playing out has been that the Torchwood team might some discoveries, such as about the stock pile of pain medications and what was happening in the camps, but the really important clues seem to just occur.  The episode ended giving the appearance that Jack and Gwen might find the Blessing not due to their own detective work but from a drop of Jack’s blood showing the way. Plus we learned that it is possible to dig all the way to China.

How the series concludes, and how it answers the many remaining questions, will ultimately determine how the show is evaluated. Here’s is the extended UK/Australian trailer for next week’s concluding episode:


It is not known if Torchwood will return for any future seasons, but there is hope now that Starz and the BBC have entered into a multi-year agreement.

Be Sociable, Share!

1 Comment

  1. 1
    Dr Who News says:

    SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who and Torchwood:Miracle Day; Steven … http://t.co/gfHRWzu #Torchwood

Leave a comment