To Be Continued…

Closing out ‘Dark Water’ with a ‘To Be Continued’ harks back to one of the greatest traditions of Doctor Who. While the two-part story has been seen only once this series, it used to be the case that every Doctor Who story would end on a cliffhanger, the scream of the theme-tune overlaid on the last moments of action, before the howling would start over the end credits.

It’s now a little-used tool in a Doctor Who script. There’s no need for a story to automatically run over four Saturdays, six Saturdays (or even over twelve or fourteen nights, both of which have been attempted in the life of this British sci-fi show). Instead Doctor Who follows the trend of the ‘arc’, with elements from one story dotted through the stories over an entire series of the show, only to tie them back up in the final episode

At this point the hardcore fans can point to ‘The Key To Time’ to show Doctor Who was there long before the current fascination with plot arcs outside of soap operas – and I’ll point out that this was an exercise that was never repeated until Russell T. Davis looked to ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ to shape the return of the show in 2005.
Doctor Who, ‘Dark Water’ (image: BBC PRess)

Doctor Who, ‘Dark Water’ (image: BBC Press)

The show now has, like most television, a faster pace than the older seasons. Try introducing older stories such as ‘The Brain of Morbius’ or ‘City of Death’ to a modern audience and the slow and deliberate pacing (in modern eyes) will make it harder for those brought up on a diet of slick and speedy shows such as The West Wing, Spooks, and Spaced.

That pace was slowed even more by the cliff-hanger, asking the audience to think about what might happen next for the whole week.

The chat of the playground from those early shows is replaced with a flood of arguments on social media and online forums. Doctor Who fans are even more engaged than every with their show, but they are engaged at a level that would be unrecognisable even ten years ago.

The question is never ‘how does The Doctor get out of this trap’, but what does The Doctor do next? It’s noticeable that in the majority of recent cliffhangers on Doctor Who, very few of them place The Doctor in peril – instead they reflect a change in the storyline, the reveal of information, or a new focus on an existing storyline.

Moffat manages all of these in the first part of the two-part finale.

Looking at ‘Dark Water’, and looking beyond what is essentially a reworking of ‘The Invasion’ from 1968 (except Tobias Vaughan’s lead role has been replaced by Michelle Gomez’ this is what I see. A show that is confident in its past to look to it for inspiration and key moments, confident to look to other genre shows and take the elements that work for those programmes into the DNA of the show, and the utter confidence that it has that this is the way to tell a complicated story that deals with death, resurrection, power, emotion, hopes, fears, and body horror… to a family audience on prime time television.

Doctor Who tells stories. It tells them well. It knows it. And that makes it the most adept and adaptable television show in the world today. (Forbes)

And as person who grew up with TV as very different animal and no internet whatsoever (oh no! how ever did he survive such primitive conditions! 🙂 ) I see his point and as I concluded yesterday I liked the old fashioned “OMG!” kinda cliffhanger. It does remind me of Caves of Androzani Part 3 or Pyramids of Mars or other great cliffhangers.

The Cliffhanger is a dying and nearly lost art form because of the hyper-caffeinated nature of TV nowadays where everything has to finished PDQ because I have other things that require my hyper-activity.

I am happy but then again, TV was different back in the day. If you had 7 channels when I was growing up you were lucky. Cable had barely started when I was teenager and the big one was, if you didn’t see the program live– that’s it. Either don’t get to see AT ALL or you have to wait until thing calle Summer Re-runs when they would show some but not all of the episodes from the show during the summer before starting a completely new season in September (usually).

That’s it.

There was no after-life. No Nethersphere were you could download or stream the episode later on.

That was just it!


Which is why I find shows that I watched as a kid coming out on DVD so damned amazing because I really haven’t the in decades.

They may not be as great as from the eyes of child, but damn, it’s great to see you again anyhow.

But still many more than that still live only in my head and will probably go to dust with me some day.

There was this thing that was invented in the 1970’s called syndication, where they would show old show that were before your time or that you missed but you had to a) know about it and b) wait and see if the episode or show you wanted to see was going to come around in the first place. And if you missed it, you have to wait until the rotation came around again or watch for it because the rotation wasn’t rarely in order to begin with.

It was a complex game of cat and mouse, and usually you were the mouse! (And I’m not talking Jerry The Mouse either).

So, yes, kids today do have it incredibly easy. So do I. I don’t have to deal with things like missing an episode and having to wait for re-runs and the like. I like that.  I just have the experience of not having had it, which makes me the more grateful I think.

So we all get to sit back, talk, chat, and social media or little hearts out until next week to find out what happens next.

I like “To be Continued”.

I appreciate it’s vintage feel.

Much like the record albums of my youth…Vinyl, of course! 🙂


About mydoctor1962

Doctor Who fan like few others. Also a fan of Science Fiction, Cooking Shows and more.

Posted on November 3, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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