Wibbly Wobbly…

Mark McCullough examines the continuity of the Moffat Era so far. Does it all add up?


DISCLAIMER: The intention of this article is not to criticise Steven Moffat. A more apt description would be an analysis of the implications of one of his creative decisions. I would hope that the topic will be a source for lots of discussion in the comments section.

Throughout the Eleventh Doctor’s era, showrunner Steven Moffat decided to adapt a different approach in terms of story arc. Each of the three series whilst standalone in their own arcs, joined together to form one massive story setting up the return of the Doctor’s home planet Gallifrey. A fundamental aspect to this arc was the cracks in time. However, perhaps rather unfortunately in terms of continuity it doesn’t come together as well as one would have hoped.

The Cracks in Time

cracks-in-time-arcBefore I get into why the cracks don’t fit into the continuity of the show, let’s take an opportunity to remind ourselves what we actually know about them. Caused by an exploding TARDIS, the cracks represent two parts of space and time that should never have touched. It is established by the narrative of the show that once someone enters a crack one of two things can happen:

  • The crack opens to another part of space and time. This is evidenced by Prisoner Zero in The Eleventh Hour and by the so called Vampire in The Vampires of Venice. The implication is very much that travel through the cracks is a possibility
  • Anything that enters a crack can potentially be erased from time, meaning they have never existed. (This occurred to multiple characters in Flesh and Stone and then to Rory in Cold Blood. It was also implied to have happened to the Cybermen in Victorian London, and to the Dalek invasion of The Stolen Earth/ Journey’s end.

The Outcome

pandorica-big-bang-earth-universeIn The Big Bang the Doctor used the Pandorica to close the cracks in the skin of the universe. In theory the light from the Pandorica shone through the cracks in the universe and its restorative properties essentially rebooted the universe. According to the Doctor himself this was actually a complete reboot creating a new reality. This is evidenced in A Good Man Goes to War. Where the Doctor explains the first time the Ponds where on board the TARDIS in the rebooted universe was their wedding night. Incidentally this means that River Song was conceived within the new universe, something which I will focus on later.

The main question raised is why Moffat would want to reset the universe. Besides the obvious answer of giving him a clean slate to work with, there were other advantages too. Of these the biggest was the fact that humanity could go back to not knowing about aliens (Presumably that has now changed in lieu of Death in Heaven). In fact, Moffat himself used his personal twitter account to tweet the following: “The whole universe came exactly as it was. Except for any continuity errors I need to explain away.” Granted this was probably intended to be a little tongue in cheek, however the actual change in continuity is quite interesting to consider.

The Inspiration Conundrum

watersofmars3The Waters of Mars focuses on the story of Adelaide Brooke, and how her actions ultimately inspire humanity to begin their journey across the stars. Much of The Waters of Mars’ critical acclaim stems from the pathos of Adelaide’s sacrifice along with its chilling antagonists, and a great new take on the Doctor. So it’s more than fitting that it left a lasting legacy on the Whoniverse. Sadly it didn’t, Series Eight episode Kill the Moon replaced the impact of The Waters of Mars and gave humanity a new reason to venture into the stars. Surely there is a way to make them both work?

By my calculations it isn’t actually the case. As stated earlier in the article, Moffat’s universal reboot meant that the events of the Series Four finale either didn’t happen or Earth wasn’t involved. The latter is most likely due to the Doctor’s regeneration number, therefore the event still happened. The implications of Earth not being involved means that Adelaide was no longer orphaned and did not encounter a Dalek. By extension her timeline could have been changed to the extent that she never ended up on Bowie Base One (If that even existed in the new reality). Without Adelaide, that aspect of humanity’s inspiration to travel the stars would not have stood, leaving the Kill the Moon option as the real reason. This would fit with the in-universe description of time being fluid and capable of being rewritten, yet leading to the same outcome.

Gallifrey Returns?

clara-listen-end-barnI doubt it would be too much of a stretch to imply that the reason behind Moffat’s universal reboot was to set up his planned return for Gallifrey. Going back to his twitter quote, this provides an example of how he used it to explain away a continuity error, the Time Lock. Throughout the RTD era of the show, the events of the Time War and by extension Gallifrey were inaccessible. However by Series Eight this is shown to have changed, without any real explanation as to how. However you can apply the fact that the universe was rebooted to come up with a reason of sorts for how Clara was able to visit the Doctor’s past.


silence-riverThere are a couple of narrative issues which don’t quite fit when you look at the full picture. One of these is River Song, who appears to cross both versions of reality. In the old universe, she meets the Tenth Doctor in the library, the Eleventh Doctor in the Byzantium and the Eleventh Doctor again at Stonehenge when the Pandorica is discovered. In the new universe she is heavily involved in the Silence arc, but ultimately meets the same fate in the Library. This would be expected as Moffat claimed that the universe rebooted as it was. So River’s story is the same regardless of how the universe around her changed.

But it didn’t, we are led to believe that none of the RTD era invasions of Earth happened (yet UNIT somehow has knowledge – perhaps extracted from the Doctor’s companions.) This is not the only thing to have changed in the universe: Amy’s parents have returned (granted this was under special circumstances) and it has to be assumed that the Weeping Angels did not return to the Byzantium. So why have some events returned as they were whilst others have changed?

Control Freaks

crack-gallifrey-time-of-the-doctorPerhaps a spanner in the works is the fact that there is still a crack open in the so called new universe in The Time of the Doctor. This closes, but is shortly followed by the opening of another through which the Doctor is gifted a new set of regenerations before it too closes. The fact that cracks are still able to be opened and closed suggests that the boundary between the two universes may be a lot more subtle than we would think. Looking at time as a more fluid substance, it would follow that it could be moulded or shaped.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Moffat decided to create a universal reboot in order to bring back the Time Lords, because at the end of day what is a Time Lord? Based upon what the show have established for them, we can assume that they are capable of manipulating Time, which would make sense given their name. So with the Time Lords’ return imminent and the possibility of a reality in flux, it very much looks like the wider consequences could be fascinating.


To conclude I will suggest that the cracks will never be fully filled in in order to give one complete picture. This is not a bad thing though, as it means the universe in which the show is set is an ever changing mosaic. Again I would like to emphasise the point that I think this is an enormous positive that Moffat has introduced. It opens up an infinite number of possibilities for interpretation of the show. I’m really looking forward to seeing what you think in the comments section.


Earlier today on Twitter, actress Gina Beck (Wicked) revealed that actor Ben Freeman (Emmerdale, which also starred Jenna Coleman) was filming in the vicinity of shooting on Doctor Who Series 9 – which is currently taking place in Tenerife. Beck tweeted:

Very jealous that @BenFreeman20 was filming right next to Doctor Who yesterday!! Wahhhhhh!!!! 

Accompanying the tweet was a picture, above, which features Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Freeman and, what looks like, an alien creature. Currently filming are the Doctor Who Series 9 episodes, The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar which also stars Michell Gomez as Missy. Gomez has also been spotted filming in Tenerife.
The two episodes from the opening two-parter of the series, written by current show runner Steven Moffat. Filming is taking place in Teide National Park which is home to the third largest volcano in the world. As revealed previously, the episodes are directed by Hettie MacDonald (Blink).
Doctor Who Series 9 is set to air in the autumn.

Ferengi Invasion

exploitThis is the add from Wizard World Raleigh showing that ONLY the highest paying guests, not the peons, will be allowed to see arguably the most popular Doctor of the NuWho era live on stage. While this is capitalism at it’s finest because they will get their money and the actor will make a mint, I’m just not in favor of this much over-the-top Ferengi-ism (to borrow from another franchise).

The VIP is $375.00.

David Tennant Autograph (8″ x 10″ Photo) — $100.00
David Tennant Autograph (Premium Item; Everything Else) — $150.00

By comparison: William Shatner: $80

Actress Gillan, originally from Inverness but now living in Los Angeles, is charging around £110 for a VIP package at Wizard World’s Fan Fest in Chicago this weekend. ($175 for VIP). Autograph is $60.

I am not happy that the Ferengi have invaded my universe and I have been to two Wizard World Cons in New Orleans.

I think I’ll pass.







With two of pop cultures biggest sci-fi influences hitting their 50th year of existence, it’s no surprise the number of times that fans of both Doctor Who and Star Trek have considered what a cross-over of the two properties might look and feel like. Given that they both espouse themes of peace, inclusion, and helping others, the two shows have ample ways that their respective worlds might  conceivably intertwine. (Of course, we have an IDW comic strip already.)

YouTuber Theta Sigma Productions has imagined a new such merger. this time one that seems to pit Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan from Star Trek: Into Darkness as someone akin to the Master vs the Doctor, his companions, and the crew of the Enterprise in “The Battle For Gallifrey” The results look pretty good too. Like good enough that it sounds like an awesome plot line for an actual movie! Check out the trailer below.


Crossing Universes

thank you leonard

About to celebrate its 50th Anniversary next year, Star Trek lags behind that other science-fiction behemoth, Doctor Who. But you’d be surprised to see just how many times that long-running US franchise has mentioned on screen in the UK time-traveling show. Here are some of the finest mentions.

“Cloaking Device”

Back in the crazy days of 1996, Paul McGann spent a night being The Doctor but he did manage to upset fans with the use of the phrase “cloaking device” when referring to the TARDIS and its appearance. Whovians threw things at their screens shouting “IT’S CALLED A CHAMELEON CIRCUIT ACTUALLY!” The term is synonymous with Star Trek, when ships are rendered invisible. In 2011’s The Impossible Astronaut, the TARDIS is actually “cloaked” when in The White House.

Coincidentally, in the same episode, Joy, a member of staff, finds one of the Silence in the ladies room (how rude!) and asks, “Is that a Star Trek mask?” Sadly, Joy didn’t live long or prosper.

Vulcan Salute

In the much-maligned 2006 episode Fear Her, starring David Tennant and Billie Piper, The Tenth Doctor broke out the Vulcan salute, made famous by Leonard Nimoy’s Spock, when he met troubled kid Chloe Webber.

“Give me some Spock!” 

Tired of The Doctor’s slightly less than impressive “tech”, Rose Tyler bemoans, “Give me some Spock, for once!” in the classic 2005 gas-mask zombie episode, The Empty Child. Amusingly, Captain Jack Harkness is under the impression that the Time Lord’s name is “Mr. Spock”.

The Borg

We won’t mention how much Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Borg ripped off Doctor Who‘s Cybermen (oops, we just did), but The Borg have had a couple of nods. 2010’s The Pandorica Opens, a Cyberman is heard intoning “You will be assimilated!” when attacking Amy Pond whilst in last year’s Into The Dalek, Rusty (the titular Dalek) maniacally states, “Resistance is futile!” – both phrases associated with The Borg. In the same episode, Peter Capaldi uses the words “into darkness”, not a million miles off the 2013 film title, Star Trek: Into Darkness.

“Please state the nature of the emergency!”

In James Corden’s first episode, 2010’s The Lodger, “Please state the nature of your emergency,” is uttered by Matt Smith. In Star Trek: Voyager a hologram called, wait for it, The Doctor states, “Please state the nature of the medical emergency,” when activated. Corden’s next episode the following year, Closing Time, his character Craig Owens asks the Time Lord, “A teleport like, a beam me up teleport, like you see in Star Trek?” when told that people were being teleported from a shop in his town to a Cyberman ship.

Oddly, in the preceding story, The God Complex, “geek” Howie Spragg is asked, “What’s loser in K-K-K-Klingon?” by a girl when he opens “his” hotel room full of attractive young ladies.

A Christmas Carol

A more subtle nod here. In the 2010 festive special, a spaceship had a deck very similar to that of the Enterprise in the 2009 Star Trek film. To further compound the pastiche, numerous JJ Abrams-esque lens flares were used. (Metro)

This time it’s for real.



Gunning for Who

Watch out, “Doctor Who” — “CSI” is gunning for you. As part of the promotional campaign to launch the crime drama’s latest spinoff, “CSI: Cyber,” CBS is going after a Guinness World Record set by the British series.
Wednesday, March 4, will officially be “World CSI Day,” which will see CBS air the 2014 episode of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” that served as a pilot for “Cyber” in more than 150 countries starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. They’ll also be streaming the episode on CBS.com. Later in the evening, at 10 p.m. ET/PT, the premiere episode of “CSI: Cyber” will debut.
The event will earn “CSI” the Guinness World Record for largest ever TV drama simulcast. Unfortunately for Whovians, that’s a title currently held by “Doctor Who,” which simulcast the 50th anniversary special, 2013’s “The Day of the Doctor,” in 98 countries. The Doctor can always take the record back whenever the next anniversary special pops up, though.
“CSI” will also be celebrating the day on social media by sharing collectors’ edition art that has been commissioned for the event on the show’s Twitter and Facebook pages. (Zap2it)
While I’m flattered that CBS noticed, I’m not happy about it.
Mostly, politically because of Mrs. Arguette’s uninformed “feel food” elitist speech at The Oscars (don’t get me wrong I loved “Medium”).
I guess we’ll have to settle for the “first ones” to ever do it. Nothing ever lasts forever…
We’ll still be here when they finally run out of CSI’s to make. :)
Update: Starting at the same time, the episode will stream for eight consecutive hours in the U.S. at http:.//www.CBS.com.
Fakers! They are going to stream it online! Not show it on TV simultaneously!
We showed it simultaneously ON TV!
No Guinness for you!

The Trolley Problem

Guest contributor Maria Schmidt explores 5 times where there were no easy solutions.


After Series 8 there have been many talks about decisions and situations when ‘sometimes the only choices you have are bad ones, but you still have to choose’. I decided to write about it and remembered something I find really interesting – thought experiments. One of them, I think many of you might have heard of, is the trolley problem. Surely I’m not the first to apply this experiment to Doctor Who, as its characters, and the Doctor especially, face such a dilemma quite often.

The general form of the experiment is thus: a runaway trolley is barrelling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up. You’re standing next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. Unfortunately, there is one person on the side track. Important – under the conditions, you can’t sacrifice yourself jumping under the trolley, you can’t run and free any of those people, etc. There are only two options:

  • 1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track.
  • 2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.

What is your choice?

Utilitarians claim that you have to steer to the track with one man on it, and such a decision is not only permissible, but the better option. An alternate viewpoint is that moving to another track makes you partially responsible for the death when otherwise no one would be responsible. Some may also point to the incommensurability of human lives, others say that simply being present in this situation and able to influence its outcome obliges you to participate. In this case deciding to do nothing would be considered immoral if you value five lives more than one.

Now we can apply this to Doctor Who. There are several episodes that occurred to me as good examples:

The Parting of the Ways

As you may remember, the Daleks that survived the Time War spent a while recovering and using human genetic material to create an army. Now they are going to exterminate everyone on the Game Station, then on Earth and so on. The Doctor decides to create a delta wave, which can fry every brain, Dalek or human, within the blast radius.

Let’s assume that delta wave is our trolley. If the Doctor does nothing, the entire universe will be in danger. If he uses the wave, both people and Daleks will die, but the universe will be saved and humanity still can survive. The Doctor decided to act, and Jack Harkness supported this decision, while the Dalek Emperor tried to dissuade him saying he’ll be the one responsible for all those deaths.

At the crucial moment, the Doctor is given a choice – to press or not to press the button. And he doesn’t. In response, the Dalek Emperor says that Earth people will die now because of him, and the question arises – whether the Doctor really is to blame for the oncoming deaths, or the Daleks are. On the one hand, they’ll do the actual killing, but on the other, he let this happen. As we know, the case was resolved by the Bad Wolf saving the day, but it still is a good example of the problem, because the Doctor had to make a choice without expecting such a resolution. Anyway, 1:0 for saving one.

The Fires of Pompeii

The-Fires-of-Pompeii-eruptBefore we continue, I should mention an addition to this dilemma, known as ‘the fat man’. As before, a trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You can stop it by putting something very heavy in front of it. There is a fat man next to you – you can only stop the trolley pushing him onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed? Most of those who approved of sacrificing one to save five in the first case do not approve it in the second one.

So what’s the relevant distinction, if one person dies in both cases? One distinction is that in the first case you don’t intend harm towards anyone – harming one is just a side effect of switching the trolley away from the five. While in the second case harming him is an integral part of the plan to save them. You actually intend someone’s death to save the five, and this is wrong, whereas in the first, you have no such intention. The opposite viewpoint says there’s no big difference between bringing the harm to the one and moving the one into the path of the harm. This version is often more suitable for Doctor Who episodes, as the Doctor usually has to deliberately and directly sacrifice/kill the minority for the sake of the majority.

And now we recall ‘The Fires of Pompeii’. The Tenth Doctor and Donna face a dilemma – whether to cause the eruption of Vesuvius, destroy the city and themselves, thus saving the whole planet from Pyrovile invasion, or to do nothing and let the aliens convert all humans into their kind. The Doctor decides to destroy the city to save the whole planet. No happy endings. Donna supports him, and you may assume that it was easier for her to accept this choice, as the destruction of Pompeii was always a historical fact for her. Though, of course, it didn’t make anyone feel any better. 1:1.

The Beast Below

Doctor-Who-The-Beast-Below-(11)Starship UK travelled on a huge star whale, but the price was too high – people tortured and hurt it to keep going. Every 10 years Liz X faced the trolley problem – to free the whale and kill everyone on the ship or to keep on torturing it.

Once again, the situation was resolved by something the Doctor couldn’t expect – Amy chose to act believing there’d be no harm for anyone. But the Doctor decided to set up a massive electrical charge which would render the star whale braindead – which means he chose to sacrifice one to save many. And what he said about not being the Doctor anymore proves clearly that for him, saving the many doesn’t lessen the guilt for killing one. 2:1.

Another addition to the problem – the fat man is the villain who put these five people in peril. In this instance, pushing the villain to his death, especially to save five innocent people, seems not only morally justifiable but perhaps even imperative. It doesn’t have much to do with the next situation, but demonstrates the attitude of one of the participants.

Kill the Moon

kill-the-moon-abortedAnd here it is, ‘Kill the Moon’, the episode almost entirely addressed to the trolley problem. The Doctor, Clara, Courtney and Lundvik have to choose to kill the Moon creature and save humanity, or to let it hatch and endanger the planet. The Doctor holds aloof, Clara thinks they have to risk and deal with the consequences, so does Courtney and Lundvik, who’d never encountered aliens as Clara did and who’s used to putting humanity first, perceives the creature as a ‘villain’ that put her home in danger and must be killed for the sake of Earth.

Element of fatalism that probably helped Donna to deal with it, doesn’t work for Clara – she doesn’t know what lies ahead, the scales are equal, the choice is even harder. They let people of Earth decide what to do – and people decide to kill. At the last moment Clara stops the detonation, thereby choosing inaction. And again the resolution is unexpected – the moon lays an egg which becomes a new moon. Subsequently Lundvik thanks Clara for stopping her. If we count main character’s decisions, it’s 2:2.

It should be noted how the obligation to make such an impossible choice affected Clara. It proves once again that there’s no right choice and no matter what you choose or what happens – there’ll be consequences for you.

The Day of the Doctor

day-hurt-timewarAnd finally the last example, though it should probably precede ‘The Parting of the Ways’ or ‘Kill the Moon’. The War Doctor knows that the only way to stop the Time War is to destroy both sides, sacrifice the minority to save the whole universe. He decides to do so, persuading himself that it’s for the greater good, but he still hesitates. Moreover, even the weapon itself is against it and shows him what will happen if he chooses to act.

The War Doctor still decides to use the weapon, and there comes an unexpected wonderfully happy ending again – the salvation of Gallifrey and the end of the Time War. But the Doctor forgets, and since the very start of the new series we can see the consequences: future incarnations refuse to call him the Doctor, his behaviour suffers a change, and his companions help him to move on. I guess that’s why he couldn’t act in ‘The Parting of the Ways’ – he thought he’d done it not long ago and didn’t want to do it again.


The trolley problem appears in the show regularly, and while it often gets resolved by a sudden third option and a happy ending, and the action-inaction percentage is approximately equal (at least in these examples, you can also remember The Waters of Mars, The Time of the Doctor and other episodes where the problem is present), in many episodes, especially in ‘The Day of the Doctor’ the viewer is led to believe that human lives are incommensurable and if there is even a tiny chance for a better option, for a middle ground where ‘everybody lives’ – you have to do your best to find it.

What other Doctor Who trolley problem examples do you remember, and what would you choose?

Secondary Coverage

Another Radio Times quiz.

There was only 1 hard one on their for me.

How about you?



and then…

Lovarzi, official license holder of Doctor Who scarves, hats and more, has announced a new range of themed umbrellas!

While their best-selling Fourth Doctor Scarf keeps the winds at bay and their Fifth Doctor jumper will make sure you’re toasty, the time has come for a range of new Doctor Who umbrellas to keep you dry whether you’re on Marinus, sheltering from the siege of Trenzalore, or under the Earth’s overcast skies. “All of time and space; everywhere and anywhere; every star that ever was… Where do you want to start?”

The Automatic Open and Close Folding Umbrella utilises Time Lord technology: it’s bigger on the inside! All you have to do is push a button on the handle and the 21″/53.3cm canopy opens out. Made with a high quality fibre glass frame, aluminium shaft, and comfortable plastic and rubber-coated handle, the umbrella shows the TARDIS on an alien landscape, evocative of the Doctor’s home planet, Gallifrey, and comes in a specially-made carry case.

The 1960s Police Box is an iconic, beautiful design: an instantly-recognisable image that conjures up dreams of all time and space. That’s why our second exclusive umbrella displays the TARDIS with pride across its 23″/58.4cm canopy! Opening at the touch of a button, the Stick Umbrella is made from durable fibre glass, with a luxurious rubber-coated handle.

Both are ideal for keeping the rain off fans new and old – plus, of course, their companions.

Two umbrellas are available, Time Lord, as seen above, and the TARDIS umbrella below.

IMG_2136-1 (1280x853)

Both umbrellas can be ordered now for £34.99 from Lovarzi. Don’t miss them!


IMG_2147 (1280x853)

Ring of Time

tardis ringWhether you’ve found your companion to travel through space and time, or you prefer to battle Daleks on your own, here’s a Tardis ring to show off your love of “Doctor Who.”

The Tardis ring is available in various styles and prices. For $1,900 (about £1,235 or AU$2,440) plus shipping you can get the Tardis ring in 14K gold (rose, white or yellow).

The Tardis ring in sterling silver costs $1,100 (about £715 or AU$1,410) and the Tardis ring in Platinum costs $3,000 (about £1,950 or AU$3,850).

“Like the Doctor himself, this ring is trendsetting and lovingly unique,” says maker Dtekdesigns on Etsy.

Fans who would rather keep the Tardis closer to their hearts can get a pendant with a similar design from Dtekdesigns for $1,049 (about £680 or AU$1,350). (CNET)

It also comes in gold, which would be handy against Classic Who Cybermen! :)

Now that’s chic Geeky! :)



I do have to ask, then, have we seen the last of Shona in Doctor Who? Because she seemed to go down a storm?

With Shona, there’s been no talk of her returning.

But you’d be keen to return to the role if you had the chance?

Definitely! I loved working with the people. They’re wonderful to work with and incredibly talented. And Peter Capaldi! God, I fancy him so much. He’s amazing! The people, the production and the crew are the nicest people. And again, being really sycophantic, it’s a really nice set up they have in Cardiff, and really good people who care about the show. I would definitely go back and do more Doctor Who. Whether they’d have me back, I don’t know! No-one’s rung, so I’ve got to let it go and be thankful I was in it in the first place!

Ah, but you’ll always have the Shona Shuffle…

[Laughs] That’s it, that’s it! Which I reprised on Boxing Day in my home town!

Did you really?

(Den of Geek)



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