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14 in 10

So, this confirms that – after the 2016 Christmas special – Doctor Who series 10 will consist of the standard-issue 13 episodes.

The Radio Times is reporting exclusively that Doctor Who series 10 will begin filming this May. Using some fag-packet maths then, a typical nine-month run should take it all the way to early 2017.

It’s currently understood that outgoing showrunner Steven Moffat will remain in place for a further fourteen episodes, including twelve episodes of season ten and the 2016 and 2017 Christmas Specials, before new head honcho Chris Chibnall steps in in 2018.

Additionally, “senior show sources” are reportedly yet to select who will be travelling with Peter Capaldi in the TARDIS as the Doctor’s Companion. “It is understood auditions for Jenna Coleman’s replacement have still not begun”, says the RT.

Doctor Who Magazine has asked Steven Moffat if he’ll present a plethora of two-parters again this time around, as served him pretty well in season 9. “Something else will happen [in series 10],” he said in response.

The Moff explained that “each year, we try to do something different – almost out of perversity, to make things more difficult for ourselves – so that we’re not getting into a groove, we’re not becomingly boringly expert at it, because there’s nothing so boring as when you get slick.”

“I was very happy to get rid of two-parters when I did, and [in series 9 I was] very happy to bring them back,” he added, leaving us to wonder what he’ll change this year.

And now, Peter Capaldi has discussed his own wishes for his new co-lead. Specifically, he isn’t particularly keen on having a male companion.

“With the best will in the world, I don’t want a bloke,” he told Radio Times, “because I’m frightened that they’ll give him all the action and I’ll be standing around spouting scientific gobbledygook… ‘Oh, Peter’s not up to chasing those Zygons down the corridor, let the chap do it.’ And that would be awful. I want to chase the Zygons!”

“I just think that combo of the slightly strange and alien Time Lord with the intelligent, enthusiastic and inquisitive girl is a good combo. I don’t know why – but it just seems to work,” he added.

Whether Capaldi gets his wish or not, we’ll keep you up to date as we hear more on Doctor Who series 10, and the incoming new companion.

Additionally Doctor Who Magazine #496 is now on sale. I know I just got mine in the mail yesterday.

Doctor Who Magazine 496 (Credit: Panini)

Sir John Hurt is appearing at Gallifrey One in LA this weekend.

SQUEE!

 

Free!

John Hurt (Credit: BBC)

Actor John Hurt has spoken of his delight on receiving the latest assessment of his fight with Pancreatic Cancer.

The actor, who played The War Doctor in the 50th Anniversary story Day of the Doctor, was diagnosed with the disease last Summer. However speaking at the Man Booker Prize ceremony on Tuesday night in London, he revealed he had recently been given good news by doctors.

I had a final scan and saw my oncologist and it’s all gone brilliantly. I am overjoyed, I am thrilled. It all looks great for the future, it’s fantastic.

His agent Charles Macdonald spoke to to BBC Radio Norfolk telling the station that Hurt had a very good meeting with his oncologist.

Sir John has been given very good news by his oncologist but it falls short of an all-clear. Nontheless it’s very good news.

The actor, who was knighted in the Queen’s New Year Honours list, said he was wary of using works like remission, even if true. Around 8,800 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK each year, making it the 11th most common cancer.

It was announced last week that Sir John will reprise his role as The War Doctor, in a new range of audio adventures for Big Finish Productions, the first of which will be released later this year.

Glad to hear it.

Putting the Hurt on Big Finish

John Hurt to return as The War Doctor in new Doctor Who audio plays

By Susanna Lazarus

John Hurt is reprising his role as The War Doctor in a series of 12 new Doctor Who audio plays. 

First introduced for Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, the War Doctor appeared alongside David Tennant and Matt Smith’s Doctors – a secret incarnation of the Time Lord who abandoned his name in order to fight The Time War against the Daleks. 

The 12 audio episodes will be released in four instalments, the first box set coming this December and titled Only The Monstrous. It is written and directed by Nicholas Briggs who said: “The story of the Doctor who refuses to call himself the Doctor in order to do the unthinkable upon the ultimate battlefield — all of space and time — was irresistible to me.

“Such a deeply disturbing and engaging character created by the formidable talents of writer Steven Moffat and actor John Hurt. It’s such a privilege to be working on this.”

The cast of The War Doctor will include Jacqueline Pearce (Blake 7, Doctor Who: Death Comes to Time) who will play Time Lord Cardinal Ollistra – an “arch manipulator who is waging the Time War against the Daleks”.

The War Doctor has not been seen in the television series since the 50th anniversary. However, Engines of War – a novel also set in the Time War written by George Mann– was released in 2014.

Big Finish seem to be doing their damndest to make fans’ wishes come true over the next two years. 2017 will see a prequel to Only the Monstrous starring the War Doctor’s predecessor, played by Paul McGann, during the early skirmishes of the conflict. He and River Song will also appear together for the first time early next year…and even Strax is getting his own turn in the audio spotlight this November.

10 Things about “Day of The Doctor”

From BBC America…

1. The original title for the story was “The Time War.” This, it was felt, might’ve given too much of the game away before the story had even got started, and so the title was changed during production.

2. There are an astonishing amount of hidden references to Doctor Who—classic and modern—littered throughout the story. Never mind that all 13 Doctors make an appearance, there’s Foreman’s scrap yard, where the TARDIS was first discovered in 1963, Coal Hill School with Ian Chesterton (the Doctor’s first companion) as the chairman of governors; Headmaster W. Coburn (a combination of W for Waris Hussein, who directed the first ever episode, and Anthony Coburn, who wrote it)… and that’s all in the first few minutes.

And Ian Chesterton was mentioned on the sign as well.

Also: The activation code of Captain Jack Harkness’s vortex manipulator is 1716231163. Which is the time and date of broadcast (17:16 on the 23rd of the 11th, 1963, using the British convention of arranging dates in day/month/year order) of “An Unearthly Child,” the very first episode of Doctor Who.

3. There are also nods to the future. Particularly the quote Clara is teaching as her lesson draws to a close at Coal Hill. It’s from Marcus Aurelius, the Roman philosopher that we will later find out—in “Deep Breath”—she’s so partial to he was the poster she had on her wall as a teenager. And what does the quote say? “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”

Which would be a decent response to the question the Twelfth Doctor asks her at the end of “Into the Dalek,” namely: “Clara, be my pal. Tell me: Am I a good man?”

4. The dialogue in which the three Doctors remind themselves of the Doctor’s core principles is based on this section from the 1976 book The Making of Doctor Who by former Who script editor Terrance Dicks: “He never gives in, and never gives up, however overwhelming the odds against him. The Doctor believes in good and fights evil. Though often caught up in violent situations, he is a man of peace. He is never cruel or cowardly.”

'Day of the Doctor' (Photo: BBC)

5. As the true name and circumstances of John Hurt’s character had to be kept totally under wraps, he was named on the call sheet for his first day’s filming as “Omega.” This was the Time Lord villain battled by the First, Second and Third Doctor’s in 1973’s 10th anniversary adventure “The Three Doctors,” a reference guaranteed to get fan tongues wagging should the secret have leaked out. The same trick was employed when Paul McGann turned up to film his prequel “The Night of the Doctor.”

And the character was necessary when Christopher Eccleston turned down an appearance in the episode.

6. In Steven Moffat’s first draft, Clara rescued the Doctors from the Tower of London by pretending to be a witch and scaring their jailor. The door the three Doctors were attempting to open was the entrance to the Black Archive, and inside the archive itself was a photo of Peter Cushing, who played a (non-canonical) version of the First Doctor in the movies Dr Who and The Daleks (1965) and Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD (1966). Kate Stewart even referring to those movies as being the work of the Doctor’s former companions, which is partly true (in a timey wimey way) since the second one starred a young Bernard Cribbins.

7. The section in which all of the Doctor’s previous selves report for duty uses audio and video footage taken from episodes from all eras of Who history. The First Doctor’s face is from “The Daleks”—with the voice provided by mimic John Guilor—while the Second Doctor’s face comes from “The Tomb Of The Cybermen” and voice from “The Seeds of Death.” The Third Doctor’s face comes from “Colony In Space” and his voice from “The Three Doctors.” The Fourth Doctor’s face is from “Planet of Evil” and the Fifth’s is from “Frontios” while his voice from “The Five Doctors.” Both the Sixth Doctor’s face and voice come from “Attack of the Cybermen” and the Seventh’s come from “Battlefield,” while the Eighth’s face comes from the 1996 TV movie Doctor Who. Which just leaves the Ninth Doctor, whose face and voice came from “The Parting of the Ways.”

'Day of the Doctor' (Photo: BBC)

8. Despite there having been a lot of music composed especially for “The Day of the Doctor” by Murray Gold, the production team elected to use some well-loved musical themes for certain sections. This meant some of the music came in handy for future broadcasts. So the theme called “Song for Four,” which had been intended for the moment when the Curator meets the Doctor towards the end of the story, was instead used in “Deep Breath” when the Twelfth Doctor and Clara return to the modern day and she receives a phone call from the Eleventh Doctor.

9. All three of the main Doctors in this story regenerate soon after it is finished (as far as we, the viewers are concerned, anyway): The War Doctor almost as soon as he gets into his TARDIS; the Tenth Doctor must have experienced these events while on his “farewell tour” in “The End of Time,” as he arrives talking to Ood Sigma about Queen Elizabeth I at the beginning of “The End of Time,” which ends in his regeneration; and the next time we see the Eleventh Doctor, he’s heading for Trenzalore.

10. “The Day of the Doctor” was shown at the same time around the globe on November 23/24, 2013. It was shown in 94 countries and in 1,500 theaters worldwide. The Guinness Book of World Records certified it as the largest ever simulcast of a television drama.

“The Day of the Doctor” airs on BBC AMERICA on Saturday, September 5 at 8:00 pm ET.

So relive a classic (even with the bloody commercials)…

Four Doctors #1

I just read it yesterday. Paul Cornell is a very good writer and quite the classic fan boy.

***SPOILERS***

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……………

………………

…………………

I mean who else would use Marinus, an obscure 1st Season Hartnell episode as the plot point in the story.

The bloody Voord!!

I wonder how many NuWho fanatics had to google them to find out what they hell was going on? 🙂

Then Clara tries to prevent them all meeting and ends up being the CAUSE OF them meeting. Loved it.

Companions from various Doctors rarely get to chinwag with each other. They sure as hell didn’t get much more than a sentence or two in “The Five Doctors”.

But, my one criticism was that I felt that the Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor was a bit off.I have been trying to think why that thought just kept popping up over and over again and I just lay my finger on it.

And also when they met Capaldi’s 12th I did wonder about in “Deep Breath” where the 11th on the phone to Clara from her past said, “Tell me I didn’t get old”.

(Paraphrase): “So we just caused a paradox at a fix point in time?”

My brain screamed “Reavers!” just as they appeared on the page.

Look forward to #2

*************************

Courtesy of Titan Comics:

BBC Fan Q&A with Doctor Who: Four Doctors writer, Paul Cornell:

Question from Floris:

WHAT IS A MODERN DOCTOR WHO MONSTER THAT YOU WOULD

HAVE LOVED TO SEE MATCH UP WITH A CLASSIC DOCTOR?

Paul: I think the Second Doctor would have a lot of fun running rings

round the Judoon.

Question from Julie:

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DOCTOR WHO STORY ON AND OFF TV?

Paul: On TV, I think it’s ‘Kinda’, this week anyway.  Off TV, I’d go for

one of Kate Orman’s New Adventures novels, probably Sleepy.  

Question from Chris:

IF YOU COULD DO A COMIC FOR ANY OF THE CLASSIC DOCTORS,
WHICH ONE AND WHY?

Paul: I’d love to do a Third Doctor comic, with all the UNIT stuff

widescreen and huge.  That’s the one case where I don’t think the

limitations of the TV show of the time should be applied to the comic,

in order to keep the style right.  The TV Pertwee era tried for big use

of vehicles and extras, and we can just do that a bit better in comic form.

Question from Alice:

WE’VE HEARD A LOT ABOUT HOW THE DOCTORS ARE VERY SIMILAR

ON SCRIPT AND IT’S THE ACTOR’S PORTRAYAL THAT GIVES THE

BIGGEST DIFFERENCE IN DELINEATING THEIR DOCTOR. THIS IDEA HAS

BEEN REINFORCED BY HAVING VARIOUS ACTORS WHO HAVE

PORTRAYED THE DOCTOR READING MATT SMITH’S SCRIPTS. HOW DO

YOU GO ABOUT DIFFERENTIATING THE DOCTORS WHEN IT IS IN

COMIC BOOK FORMAT?

Paul: It’s the writer’s job in a book or comic to bring all the tics of the

character, to do the acting as well.  I’m not sure that ‘all the same

dialogue’ thing is true for all Doctors.  I can’t imagine Troughton saying Capaldi lines.

Question from David:

WHICH OF THE FOUR DOCTORS DO YOU ENJOY WRITING FOR MOST?

Paul: It’s a joy to surprise myself with what comes out of the Twelfth

Doctor’s mouth.  Such an infinite well of new material.

Question from Joel:

IF YOU WERE A COMPANION TO THOSE FOUR DOCTORS AT LEAST

ONCE EACH, WHERE/WHEN DO YOU THINK THEY WOULD TAKE YOU

TO OR WHAT SORT OF ADVENTURE COULD YOU SEE YOURSELF IN

WITH THAT DOCTOR?

Paul: Phew, err, I think I’d avoid the War Doctor, marry the… no, wait

a sec.  I wouldn’t want to travel with anyone fighting in the Time War,

so I’d like to go exploring history with the Eleventh.  I couldn’t keep up

with Ten.  I wouldn’t mind being part of one of Twelve’s teams of

mates for some sort of heist.  

Question from George:

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO PEOPLE TRYING TO WRITE A

DOCTOR WHO STORY?

Paul: Sort out your ending first.  Use the shape of your plot to explore

some aspect of character for your leads.  Challenge the characters,

surprise them, hurt them.  

Question from Josh:

I JUST HAVE TO TELL YOU, I LOVED FATHER’S DAY SO MUCH AND

THE HUMAN NATURE 2 PARTER. QUESTION TIME – WHAT WAS YOUR

FAVORITE EPISODE FROM CLASSIC WHO AND WHY? IF I CAN SQUEEZE

A SECOND QUESTION IN, WHAT WHO BOOK AUTHOR DO YOU ENJOY

READING THE MOST?

Paul: Ah, well, it was ‘Kinda’ earlier, but now it’s become ‘The Mind

Robber’… no, ‘Horror of Fang Rock!’  And I love reading Kate Orman’s

books.  But I already said that, so, Jac Rayner!

Question from Pam:

DO YOU APPROACH WRITING DIFFERENTLY WHEN YOU ARE WRITING

FOR A COMIC VS ONE OF YOUR NOVELS OR SCREENPLAYS? I 

LOVE YOUR WORK!!!

Paul: Oh yes, and thanks, it’s a whole different set of rules.  You have

to get your head in order to write each different medium.  It takes

changing gears.  

Question from Jeffrey:

PAUL, WHAT IS THE ATOMIC WEIGHT OF THORIUM?

Paul: 232.03806 u ± 0.00002 u

Question from Jose:

WHICH OF YOUR VIRGIN NEW ADVENTURES WAS YOUR FAVORITE?

Paul: Love and War, I think.  

Question from Dylan:

HOW PROUD ARE YOU OF THAT “LAPELS THING” JOKE? BECAUSE YOU

SHOULD BE!

Paul: Thanks!  Very proud!  I’m very proud of the whole comic,

honestly.  I think it’s one of my best Doctor Who stories.

Cursed?

But first:
Doctor Who: Are Anniversary Specials Cursed?

“The Name of The Doctor”

In some sad news Sir John Hurt recently announced that he had been diagnosed with early stage pancreatic cancer. The veteran actor who portrayed the War Doctor in the 50th anniversary special “The Day of The Doctor” was optimistic when he made a statement about his condition on his Tumblr but even with early detection and treatment pancreatic cancer has only a 16 percent survival rate. Nonetheless, Hurt plans to keep working during treatment.

It’s got me wondering, though, if Doctor Who anniversary specials are cursed in some way. They often seem to be extremely hazardous to at least one of the Doctors who appear in them, and there are some rather odd parallels.

First there was “The Three Doctors”, which was the 10th anniversary special starring William Hartnell. Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee. The First Doctor barely appears in the special. One of the reasons that Hartnell had left the role in the first place was his increasingly poor health due to arteriosclerosis and he had not improved in the subsequent years. Still, he desperately wanted to be a part of the show, and shot prerecorded segments to be shown over the Tardis scanner. His lack of physical appearance in the special was explained as being trapped in a time eddy by Omega, though he, Troughton and Pertwee did take promotional pictures in Hartnell’s garden.

“The Three Doctors” was the final role of Hartnell’s life. He died two years later at the age of 67.

Doctor Who: Are Anniversary Specials Cursed?

Promotional picture for “The Three Doctors”

Ten years later another anniversary special was shot, “The Five Doctors”. Hartnell was obviously unavailable to play the First Doctor, so he was recast with actor Richard Hurndall, thus far the only time an incarnation of The Doctor has been replaced with a new actor on television outside body doubles and cameos. The move was somewhat controversial; Whovians tend to treat the actors who play The Doctor with severe respect and replacing one outside of regeneration is not a popular idea. Still, Hurndall did a pretty marvelous job in the role especially considering the special is a pretty slapdash affair plotwise.

Playing the First Doctor in a multi-Doctor anniversary special was Hurndall’s second-to-last role. He died of a heart attack less than five months after “The Five Doctors” was broadcast. According to Elisabeth’s Sladen’s autobiography he never even lived to cash the check for playing the part.

Now we have the 50th anniversary and Hurt’s diagnosis. At least he’s not playing the First Doctor, right? Not so fast.

Doctor Who: Are Anniversary Specials Cursed?

“The Five Doctors”

In essence the War Doctor is a kind of new First Doctor. He is a retroactive incarnation that takes place before Christopher Eccleston became the Ninth Doctor and the first of the revived series. Beyond that, the War Doctor fulfills many of the attributes usually held by the First Doctor in multi-Doctor specials. He’s is gruff, easily angered, paternalistic and in general the wisest of the incarnations on screen.

Here’s another similarity. Hurndall didn’t just replace Hartnell in “The Five Doctors”, he also in a sense replaced Tom Baker. Baker refused to return to the part of the Fourth Doctor after only a two-year absence (all his appearances in the special are culled from the un-aired episode “Shada”), and as a result the First Doctor’s part was increased to make up for the lack of the Fourth.

Initially “The Day of The Doctor” was hoped to include Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor, but Eccleston like Baker turned down the part and the War Doctor was created to make up for his lack of participation. Ironically, Baker would appear in person as a new incarnation of The Doctor called The Curator in the special and Eccleston would be seen only from previously shot footage. Still, in many ways “Day of The Doctor” and “The Five Doctors” are mirrors of each other, and in both cases the newest cast member soon found themselves either dead or very ill shortly afterwards.

Granted, in all three cases we are dealing with pretty old men. Hartnell, Hurndall and Hurt were all in their 70s when they were cast in anniversary Doctor roles, but Hurndall was still working regularly when he died as is Hurt right now. Neither was known to be sickly before appearing on Doctor Who.

Doctor Who: Are Anniversary Specials Cursed?

“The Day of The Doctor”

And there is one big flaw to the pattern I have to admit. The First Doctor actually was recast for “The Day of The Doctor”. All the Doctors appear in the climatic finale through use of stock footage and audio, but the First Doctor gets a new line he never said on the show when he appears, “Calling the War Council of Gallifrey, this is The Doctor”. Gallifrey hadn’t even been introduced to the series when Hartnell was playing the role, even in “The Three Doctors”.

That line was eventually revealed to be the work of voice actor John Guilor. Guilor is a talented impressionist known for playing Hartnell and Tom Baker in fan work. His First Doctor is so good he was picked to do an official audio recreation of lost episodes of “The Planet of the Giants” alongside original cast members William Russell and Carol Ann Ford for a DVD release, and then graduated to “The Day of The Doctor”. If the anniversary specials were cursed Guilor would be the most obvious candidate to be hexed, not Hurt, and yet Guilor seems to be just fine.

So maybe there’s no curse at all, and hopefully Hurt will recover and continue being awesome and Guilor will keep voicing the Doctors who are no longer with us in projects and we’ll get a 60th anniversary special in the magical-sounding year of 2023 and everyone will point and laugh at me for believing in something this silly for even a second. I hope so. Rassilon bless and protect you, War Doctor, we don’t want you to go. (Houston Press)

John Hurt

Sir John Hurt has revealed he has been diagnosed with early stage pancreatic cancer. In a statement released to the Press Association, he said:

I have always been open about the way in which I conduct my life and in that spirit I would like to make a statement.

I have recently been diagnosed with early stage pancreatic cancer. I am undergoing treatment and am more than optimistic about a satisfactory outcome, as indeed is the medical team.

I am continuing to focus on my professional commitments and will shortly be recording “Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell” (one of life’s small ironies!) for Radio 4

Alex Ford, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer UK, the only national charity fighting pancreatic cancer, said:

We were deeply saddened to learn of Sir John Hurt’s recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer – but eternally grateful for his openness in talking about the disease and his treatment. This can only help raise much needed awareness of pancreatic cancer and the importance of early diagnosis. Importantly, John Hurt’s attitude and optimism will provide hope for many others affected by this disease. We wish him the best with his treatment.
John Hurt was awarded a Knighthood for his services to drama in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

If you wish to make a donation to the charity, you can do so at pancreaticcancer.org.uk/donate.

In The US: http://www.npcf.us/donate/

Australia: http://www.pancreaticcancer.net.au/donate

My Best wishes as well.

The Trolley Problem

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

clara-the-doctor

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.

Conclusion

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?

The Time War

Excellent work.

The Story So Far…