Thursday 11 June 2020

Doctor Who: The Final Lockdown

So, Emily Cook's lockdown extravaganza has come to a close, after a host of special stories and video events. I haven't talked about "The Descendants of Pompeii" or "The Zygon Isolation", which are really just little asides to bring some of the actors back for their respective episodes' watchalongs. It's the final two stories, written by the two previous showrunners in their last ever Doctor Who stories, honest, but I'll believe that when I don't see it.

"The Secret of Novice Hame" acts as a sequel to "Gridlock" from series three, released after the New Earth double-bill watchalong. It's a rather beautiful final memoir from Novice Hame, the redeemed Cat Person who cared for the Face of Boe, with Anna Hope reprising the role after thirteen years. Murray Gold is back to provide the music, and David Tennant lends his voice as the Doctor.

It's a sweet coda for a character who inhabits a world that's the most fairy tale RTD's Doctor Who ever got. There are all manner of races inhabiting New Earth now, five billion and a whack years in the future. My favourite element is Hame reminiscing about all the other Doctors she's bumped into over the years, men, women and animals. Maybe Paul Hanley's Silurian Doctor can exist after all. JuanMao's artwork is really lovely and absolutely matches the feel of it.

Placement: During the Doctor's fairwell tour in The End of Time.

"The Best of Days" is the last of the lockdown specials and would have gone out after the "World Enough and Time"/"The Doctors Falls" watchalong, except that was scrapped due to all the horror going on in the news. Perhaps the fridging of a black companion, however temporarily, wouldn't have been the right message right now. Still, the story itself is uplifting and topical, and I don't care what you say, Doctor Who is intrinsically political and you can't escape that. Of course Bill is going to talk about the pandemic and BLM marches, for crying out loud. Doctor Who exists in a sort-of parallel world where current events from the real world happen, but are usually overshadowed by fictional events. Real life is what carries on when the Doctor's away.

I love the idea that Nardole and Bill kept in touch after the Doctor vanished into the Vortex, with Bill living her long afterlife with Heather (even if they are on a break) and getting back to some normality after seeing the stars together. Hearing that things are pretty quiet near her is funny though. Bill's uni was in Bristol, and the story was released shortly below the protesters there righteously tore down Edward Colston's statue and dumped it in the harbour.

And that woman with beautiful eyes who Bill has a crush on - she has to be the Thirteenth Doctor, right?

Placement: After "The Doctor Falls" for Bill and Nardole. After "The Ghost Monument" for the Doctor?

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