Today is Doctor Who Day, the anniversary of the first ever episode of Doctor Who. And seeing as it’s also the day that my Reston Writers’ Review meets, I decided I should try my hand a fan fiction once again.
For 2020, I wanted to use the Sixth Doctor again only this time with his second companion, Melanie ‘Mel’ Bush, a software engineer—and in my story, a cyber-security expert. I teamed her up with Yasmin ‘Yaz’ Khan and the Thirteenth Doctor. And for fun, I had them fight Missy, with cameos from all the other Masters. Of course, I did need one final cameo to make the multi-Doctor story complete. I added the Doctor’s Granddaughter, Susan Campbell and her husband David as well.
But, let me be honest. The story was total rubbish. I rushed to write the whole thing on my phone on Sunday night just to get it uploaded in time, and like my feeble attempt at a Halloween story with only 101 words, it sunk like a lead balloon. I guess I’m just not on my writing A-game these days. I just need to find the time… does anyone have a TARDIS!
EDIT 2020-12-10: Forgot to post this on Doctor Who day. It was originally scheduled for posting on Monday, 23 November, 2020. Sorry for the delay.
My good friend Gordon Rutter has started a new series of Doctor Who oriented Science Videos. Learn about Diversity and Variation in the evolution of the Daleks. Yes, I did say Evolution of the Daleks because they may be psychopathic killers of all that’s different but there is variation in the species—or at least fashion in its preference of casing, but let’s not pick nits, shall we?
Gordon give a great little overview of the basic ideas of individual differences, and how that relates to speciation. Have a watch and enjoy some science presented by the DAL-EKS!
YOU WILL O-BEY! YOU WILL O-BEY! WATCH IT!
Okay, I better get back in the TARDIS before these guys EX-TER-MIN-ATE ME!
Well, no new Doctor Who for a while now so I thought it might be fun and topical to review a story from the third series in the classic run as a tie-in with the modern Covidapolis. The Ark was is the modern name for the collection of 4 stories which ran in March 1966, pretty much 54 years ago from today. In a sense, though, it is precinct because in The Steel Sky and The Plague (parts 1 and 2 of The Ark), Dodo Chaplet gives a race of humans and Monoids a coronavirus. Yes, technically that’s exactly what she had since the common cold is a coronavirus. But it’s easy to speculate the variety she has is actually some form of SARS-CoV-2, so let’s just say it’s SARS-CoV-13—we’re skipping 3–12, which is just as well as SARS-CoV-7 was really nasty. But I digress.
The Steel Sky
The story starts out with the TARDIS landing in a jungle with a mix of animals from Central America, South America, and India. The Doctor, Steven Taylor, and Dodo Chaplet even pet an Indian Elephant’s trunk.
The problem is, Dodo has SARS-CoV-13, or so I assume. The story takes place four billion years, or ten million years, or whatever this story misinterprets the age of the Earth to be at the time the Sun becomes a Red Giant (hint: it’s four to five billion). In that time, the human race has lost all immunities for most illnesses, having long ago eradicate them.
Meanwhile, the rather docile Monoids have also lost their home planet and are friendly companions to the last humans. The do act subserviently but the humans also see the Monoids as friends and defend the Monoids when, Niash, a human, is negligent in the beginning of the story and sentenced to suspension for seven hundred year of miniaturization. Strangely, this red herring is never seen again, even in the later episodes that take place when his sentence would have been served.
Also, why do they all drive hovercrafts on a spaceship? Wouldn’t an electric car work better? But I digress.
The Doctor and his companions—we called them companions in those days, though I’m sure they were friends—are brought by the Monoids to meet the humans. The leader of the humans welcomes them. However, Zentos—the Freshmaker—remains uneasy and fails to trust the travelers. Zentos is the second in command, and was the prosecuting attorney in the trial above.
The Leader takes a shining to the strangers and even shows them a statue they’re building of a human holding a globe. The statue, though, is barely built, with only its feet complete.
So Dodo goes around touching a lot of things, failing to wash her hands, sleeping with her head on the table, spreading her SARS-CoV-13 everywhere. Eventually, the leader gets the virus and the Zentos hears the Doctor tell Steven he feels guilty for bringing the virus there. Heck yeah, Doc!
As if things weren’t bad enough, the Doctor, Steven, and Dodo are put in jail and forced to watch a sham trial lead by Zantos. Everyone seems to be coming down with SARS-CoV-13, Monoids and Humans alike!
When Steven is called to the stand, he is shown—having clearly touched Dodo too much—to have contracted SARS-CoV-13. He collapses on the stand. Zantos assumes this to be an admission of guilt but saner minds agree that the Doctor wants to help cure the plague and they agree to let him try to experiment with a cure on Dodo.
Meanwhile, the Monoids start stroking animals in order to get samples for the Doctor to formulate his cure.
One wonders just what form of virulation he was trying to conduct. After all, can Iguanas get SARS-CoV-13 even? But I again digress.
Some timey wimey jiggery-pokery stuff happens and the Doctor’s cure works. First, Steven thrashes about, but then he his fever is down and he’s alright. The Doctor then orders the virulation to be performed on everyone.
I think it’s important to stop here and get a little sciency for a moment. Virulation is a form of early vaccination and vaccines only work on people who don’t yet have the virus. or who are at an early stage of infection such that the antibodies for the virus can have time to build up before the virus reaches a critical threshold. If someone is already at an advanced stage of SARS-CoV-13, like the leader, would the virulation even work, or would the disease have progressed too far already.
Anyway, the Doctor’s cure works and Zantos is not longer getting fresh with the time travelers. He thanks them and a Monoid takes them back to the TARDIS.
The Doctor, Steven, and Dodo are off on their next adventure, which just happens to be the same jungle environment from before. They’re back on the Ark. Only this time, the that statue of feet is complete. The whole body is as normal and originally designed, but the head is the head of a Monoid.
We learn that the Doctor and his companions have arrived seven hundred years later, when the Ark is near its destination of Refusis-II. We don’t know where Refusis-II is as the story Refuses tell us, but we guess it’s close to Spiradon. Niash is nowhere to be seen. He must have been trapped in a plot hole.
The Monoids can talk now, and they have taken over and are lead by a ruthless leader, Juan. Juan wants to claim Refusis-II for the Monoids and leave the now enslaved humans on the Ark to wither and die. Juan captures the Doctor, Steven, and Dodo and puts them to work in the kitchens, the most menial of slave labor jobs. Apartnely, the Monoids have huge appetites. Then again, cooking seems to simply consist of a bullion cube being dropped in water to turn the contents into potatoes or chicken. I guess Rey had the same thing on Jakku. But I again digress.
Some humans are considered collaborators and work more closely with the Monoids. The regular humans don’t like them.
Steven tries to attack Monoid number 2 but fails and a human dies. The Monoids are brutal since they stopped using Sign Language.
Juan is worried about landing on Refusis-II, so he sends a collaborator, Monoid-, the Doctor and Dodo to the surface to make contact with the natives and figure out if they will be easy to subdue.
The Refusis-II people though, you never see them. Turns out, they’re invisible. Monoid-2 is no match for the Refusian and is easily disarmed, though he escapes and tries to warn Juan and the others. Unfortunately, the collaborator human dies in the struggle.
Monoid-2 makes it to the shuttle only to have the ship detonate with Monoid-2 on board.
The Doctor and Dodo are stranded. And Juan has left a bomb on the ship, to detonate when all the Monoids have left and only humans remain.
Juan is suspicious and he and Monoid-3 decide to execute the Monoid Evacuation plan. They’re convinced the bomb in the head of the statue will never be discovered.
Juan’s personal servant hears about the bomb and decides to join the resistance. Steven uses him to help him and the other humans escape from the kitchens.
Meanwhile, Monoid-4 is not happy with Juan’s leadership. When all the Monoids get to Refusis-II, they try to find the Refusians but they only find the Doctor and Dodo. Juan is irate but Monoid-4 rebels and takes half the Monoids back to the ship to return to the Ark. Juan warns them about the bomb but Monoid-4 doesn’t care.
Juan decides to ambush Monoid-4’s party on the way back to the ship and a civil war erupts. Monoids are dying left and right. Eventually, only Monoid-4 is left. The Doctor, Dodo, watch the battle and find out the bomb is in the head of the statue. They return to the ship and message Steven, then return to the ship.
The thing you need to know about Refusians, they’re hecka strong. The Refusian lifts up the megatonne statue and chucks it in the airlock, then the prop just sort of teeters out of the ship, falling down toward Refusis-II before exploding in space.
On the ship, all is well. Juan is dead, and Monoid-4 and two of his companions are captured. The Refusian chastises the humans for enslaving the Monoids and the humans agree to treat the Monoids as equals.
Having made they agreements and prepared their landings, they take a hovercraft back to the TARDIS and get on their way. Steven wears my favourite striped shirt, and Dodo wears her zero camisole and skirt. But the Doctor disappears, captured by The Celestial Toymaker…
Well, that was a wild ride. To be honest, I think the tension was right, but the number of questions left unanswered still leave me uneasy. I think the start of the episode with the Doctor following the Master was a powerful opening and the Graham and Yaz interaction as well as Graham continuing to be the expert idea man was awesome. Hiding in the Cybermen armor was genius and had a wonderful payoff.
My only nit there was that the Cyberman ship seemed to enter the portal right after they were seen being examined by the half-Cyberman with no ship showing the four of them descending or appearing on the planet. This made it seem, cinematographically, that the four of them were still on the ship when it got to Gallifrey. While the payoff of surprise when they show up and rescue Ethan. Kind of like when Chewbacca from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Not so much Deus Ex Machina, but cinematic misdirection. Not that I per se approve, but like I said, the payoff was kind of cool.
Meanwhile, the end of the half-cyberman was kind of anti-climatic. Using the Tissue-Compression Eliminator to defeat him was very dissatisfactory and I feel the drama and difficulty could have been played out more.
The Matrix was a nice throwback but the whole Time Lord origin story was just weird. What’s more, having the Shobogans be native Gallifreyans and Time Lords be a hybrid with another, non-Gallifreyan race was a bit peculiar. Will this form a quest for the Doctor to look for the origin of that race in future episodes?
More confusing was the use of the idea of the Timeless Child name. Who was the Timeless Child. Was she Tecteun, or was she the orphan that Tecteun tested on and discovered Regeneration from? We are told the Doctor is the Timeless Child, but does that make the Doctor Tecteun or the unnamed orphan? And what happened to Tecteun? Overall, this aspect of the story could have been clearer and more direct in terms of the conclusions we’re expected to draw.
What’s more, we’re left with so many unanswered clues and questions. Why does the Master call himself O in Spyfall when clearly Omega was the Time Lord with the most O in his name? And why did the aliens in that episode look like the monsters from The Three Doctors and Arc of Infinity? And why did the aliens from that episode come from a place that looked kind of like The Matrix? Where was Rassilon when Gallifrey fell to the Master, and how did Captain Jack Harkness know about the lone Cyberman?
The resolution was rather predictable. Obviously someone besides the Doctor would pull the trigger on the Cyber-Time Lords destruction. It could have happened inside that TARDIS or outside, but overall the fact that the Doctor escapes is natural, and that the Master isn’t seen in the destruction in the final scene is also quite expected. He will be back. It’s still unclear if he still has the Cyberium though.
The Cyber-Time Lords were cool, though. Those costumes were awesome!
Overall, I enjoyed the episode, despite its unanswered questions and inconsistencies. It just seems weird to end with the Jadoon invading the TARDIS and putting the Doctor in prison. What’s up with that!?
Next time, Revolution of the Daleks. Thus begins the long wait.
The Cybermen are back and they mean business! So, who’s that orphan then?
Tonight’s episode was quite a wallop with non-stop danger interspersed with a tranquil orphan story in a quaintly Georgian or Edwardian, Northern Irish village where the only jobs seem to be farmer (appropriate when following CountryFile and tonight’s series [season for the Yanks] finale of Call the Midwife) and the Garda, the local constabulary.
I’ll get back to the farm boy constable in a moment but first this episode immediately follows The Haunting of Villa Diodati. The half-man, half-Cyberman is back, the Doctor having traced his position from the data left in the previous episode. There, they meet the last seven humans in that part of the Universe.
At this I want to stop. I mean, we got that at the Utopia, one of my all-time favourite Doctor Who serials! In that story, Captain Jack Harkness grabs the TARDIS as it’s taking off from Cardiff. They land on a planet trillions of years in the future, where the last of humanity is protected from total annihilation from lack of resources by a Professor Yana—You Are Not Alone—who turns out to be… the Master.
But I’ll return to that in a moment.
So, our intrepid time travellers, the Doctor, Yaz, Graham, and Ryan, arrive on the planet with the last humans and proceed to totally fail in their rescue attempt. When the Doctor tries to cover everyone so they can escape, Ryan is separated from Yaz and Graham, and he, the Doctor, and one of the human wunderkinds, who is able to hack cyber-ships and able to save the Doctor and Ryan.
Meanwhile, Graham, Yaz, and three more humans—three of the original seven having died—blow out their escape ships engines. But as luck would have it (can you say Deus Ex Machina) they’re in a cyber-war graveyard. They are able to pilot the ship into a Cyberman Troop ship and instead of doing the intelligent thing, knowing that the ship is full of Cybermen, of piloting it back to the planet with the TARDIS, they go and take it to the gateway to try and bring their problems for her to solve.
Screaming Cybermen? What’s that about. It’s mentioned once and then never again? But again, I digress.
Anyway, so the Doctor, Ryan, and the Wonderkind make it to the gateway and meet the last guardian of the gateway. He shows them the portal and the Doctor is aghast to see her ruined home Gallifrey beyond.
At the same time, Yaz, Graham, and a about a million Cybermen have arrived.
To add insult to injury—I told you I’d get back to him—The Master is back, stepping though the portal to Gallifrey.
Meanwhile, remember that orphan Garda? Well, it turns out, he has the same power as Captain Jack Harkness: he cannot die. He’s shot and falls off a cliff. He dies for a moment, and then he gasps, and recovers. On his body is no sign of his injury.
And does a Garda have to have his mind erased when he retires? Are they a cyber-nursery?
So many questions! How does the orphan relate to Captain Jack? How did Jack know about the lone Cyberman? How are the orphan and the half-Cyberman connected? Why was the half-Cyberman rejected for upgrade? Who is the Doctor from The Fugitive of Jadoon? Where is Omega? What happened to Gallifrey? And what was the Master doing there?