The Thing About Today – November 30

November 30, 2020
Day 335 of 366

November 30th is the 335th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Barbados (which separated from the United Kingdom in 1966) and South Yemen (which separated from the United Kingdom in 1967).

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Personal Space Day, National Mason Jar Day, National Mousse Day, National Meth Awareness Day, Computer Security Day, Stay Home Because You’re Well Day, National Mississippi Day, and Cyber Monday (typically observed on the Monday after Thanksgiving).

Historical items of note:

  • In 1667, Irish satirist and essayist Jonathan Swift was born.
  • In 1786, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, under Pietro Leopoldo I, became the first modern state to abolish the death penalty. The date was later commemorated as Cities for Life Day.
  • In 1835, novelist, humorist, and critic Mark Twain was born.
  • In 1872, Canadian physician, soldier, and poet John McCrae was born. He wrote In Flanders Fields.
  • In 1874, English colonel, journalist, politician, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Nobel Prize laureate Winston Churchill was born.
  • In 1927, actor Robert Guillaume was born.
  • In 1929, television host and producer Dick Clark was born.
  • Also in 1929, screenwriter and producer Joan Ganz Cooney was born. She co-created Sesame Street.
  • In 1934, the LNER Class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman became the first steam locomotive to be authenticated as reaching 100 mph.
  • In 1936, in London, the Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire.
  • In 1937, English director, producer, and production designer Scott Ridley was born.
  • In 1954, the Hodges meteorite crashed through a roof in Sylacauga, Alabama and hit a woman taking an afternoon nap. This is the only documented case in the Western Hemisphere of a human being hit by a rock from space.
  • In 1955, actor Kevin Conroy was born.
  • In 1962, computer programmer and author Daniel Keys Moran was born.
  • In 1979, Pink Floyd’s rock opera, The Wall was released.
  • In 1982, Michael Jackson’s sixth solo studio album, Thriller, was released worldwide. It ultimately became the best-selling record album in history.
  • Also in 1982, Canadian actress Elisha Cuthbert was born.
  • Also in 1982, Richard Attenborough’s 1983 Best Picture film Gandhi premiered.
  • In 1985, actress Kaley Cuoco was born.
  • In 1993, Steven Spielberg’s 1994 Best Picture film Schindler’s List premiered.
  • In 2000, NASA launched mission STS-97 with Space Shuttle Endeavour, the 101st Space Shuttle mission.

In 2005, Cyber Monday was established by Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation and Scott Silverman.

Cyber Monday, also known as Blue Monday, is a marketing term for a day created by retailers to convince people to shop online after Black Friday. It’s original purpose was to offer a way for smaller retail websites to compete with larger chains.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped major retailers like Amazon from engaging as well.

In 2017, Cyber Monday online sales grew to a record of $6.59 billion. That’s compared with $2.98 billion in 2015 and $2.65 billion in 2014.

The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.


The Thing About Today – November 29

November 29, 2020
Day 334 of 366

November 29th is the 334th day of the year. It is Unity Day in Vanuatu, a day dedicated to finding unity among the 270,000 citizens, 113 indigenous languages, and various unique customs and traditions across the 83 small volcanic islands.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as Electronic Greetings Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1777, San Jose, California, was founded as Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe by José Joaquín Moraga. It was the first civilian settlement, or pueblo, in Alta California.
  • In 1832, novelist and poet Louisa May Alcott was born.
  • In 1877, Thomas Edison demonstrated the phonograph for the first time.
  • In 1898, British novelist, poet, and critic C. S. Lewis was born.
  • In 1918, author and poet Madeleine L’Engle was born.
  • In 1935, actress Diane Ladd was born.
  • In 1961, The Mercury-Atlas 5 mission was launched. Enos, a chimpanzee, was launched into space. The spacecraft orbited the Earth twice and splashed down off the coast of Puerto Rico.
  • In 1964, actor and producer Don Cheadle was born.
  • In 1972, Atari released Pong, the first commercially successful video game.
  • In 1976, actor Chadwick Boseman was born. He died this year from colon cancer. He was taken from us far too soon.

November 29th is Liberation Day (Dita e Çlirimit) in Albania. It commemorates the day in 1944 when the country was liberated from Nazi Germany forces after the Albanian resistance during World War II.

After Italy was defeated by the Allies, Germany occupied Albania in September 1943. Paratroopers dropped into Tirana before the Albanian guerrillas could take the capital, and the German army drove the guerrillas into the hills and to the south.

Berlin subsequently announced it would recognize the independence of a neutral Albania and organized the Albanian government, police, and military. Many Balli Kombëtar units (an Albanian nationalist anti-communist paramilitary movement and political organization) collaborated with the Germans against the communists, and several Balli Kombëtar leaders held positions in the German-sponsored regime.

The partisans entirely liberated Albania from German occupation on November 29, 1944. The National Liberation Army, which in October 1944 consisted of 70,000 regulars, also took part in the war alongside the antifascist coalition. The Albanian partisans liberated Kosovo, and assisted Tito’s communist forces in liberating part of Montenegro and southern Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

The Thing About Today – November 28

November 28, 2020
Day 333 of 366

November 28th is the 333rd day of the year. It is Independence Day in Mauritania (which separated from France in 1960) and Panama (which separated from Spain in 1821). It is also Albanian Flag Day, which celebrates the independence of Albania from Turkey in 1912, the first Albanian flag raise by Skanderbeg in 1443, and for the new parliamentary constitution in 1998.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National French Toast Day and Small Business Saturday (which is typically the Saturday after Thanksgiving).

Historical items of note:

  • In 1582, in Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway paid a £40 bond for their marriage license.
  • In 1811, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, premiered at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig.
  • In 1814, The Times of London became the first newspaper to be produced on a steam-powered printing press, built by the German team of Koenig & Bauer.
  • In 1843, Ka Lā Hui (Hawaiian Independence Day) was established when the Kingdom of Hawaii was officially recognized by the United Kingdom and France as an independent nation.
  • In 1893, women voted for the first time in New Zealand with the 1893 New Zealand general election.
  • In 1919, Lady Astor was elected as a Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Countess Markievicz was the first woman to be elected to Parliament, but she refused to sit, so Lady Astor became the first woman to sit in the House of Commons.
  • In 1943, singer-songwriter, composer, and pianist Randy Newman was born.
  • In 1946, director and producer Joe Dante was born.
  • In 1950, actor and producer Ed Harris was born.
  • In 1952, actress S. Epatha Merkerson was born.
  • In 1961, Mexican director, producer, and screenwriter Alfonso Cuarón was born.
  • In 1962, comedian, actor, and television host Jon Stewart was born.
  • In 1964, NASA launched the Mariner 4 probe toward Mars.
  • In 1967, the first pulsar (PSR B1919+21, in the constellation of Vulpecula) was discovered by astronomers Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish.
  • In 1972, Claude Buffet and Roger Bontems were guillotined at La Santé Prison. They marked the last executions to occur in Paris. Capital punishment was abolished in the country overall in 1981.
  • In 1984, actress and producer Mary Elizabeth Winstead was born.
  • In 1987, Scottish actress Karen Gillan was born.
  • In 1988, actress and singer-songwriter Scarlett Pomers was born.

November 28th is Hōonkō (報恩講) in Japan, a holiday in the tradition of Japanese Jodo Shinshu Buddhism that observes the memorial of its founder, Shinran Shonin.

Depending on whether the old Japanese lunar calendar or the western Gregorian calendar is used, this holiday is typically observed either around November 28th (as in the Higashi Honganji) or early January from the 9th to the 16th (as in the Nishi Honganji) respectively.

This holiday is among the most important observed in the Jodo Shinshu tradition. The observance began after Shinran’s daughter, Kakushinni carried on administration of Shinran’s mausoleum, as did her descendants, who ultimately became the Monshu of Jodo Shinshu.

In the word hōonkō; ‘hōon’ means “return of gratitude” and ‘ko’ means “to clarify the meaning of” or “gathering”‘. A typical service will consist of reciting Shinran’s hymn, the Shoshinge, and a reading from the life of Shinran. Followers will sometimes observe a strict diet that day, preferring to eat shōjin ryōri or “Buddhist cuisine”, though this is strictly optional. Temple services will often serve Buddhist cuisine after service including vegetarian ozōni, adzuki and mochi.

The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

The Thing About Today – November 27

November 27, 2020
Day 332 of 366

November 27th is the 332nd day of the year. It is Teacher’s Day in Spain.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Bavarian Cream Pie Day, and National Craft Jerky Day. It is also recognized as a slew of events set on the day after Thanksgiving: National Day of Listening, National Native American Heritage Day, Black Friday, Buy Nothing Day, Flossing DayMaize Day, and You’re Welcomegiving Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1835, James Pratt and John Smith were hanged in London. They were the last two people to be executed for sodomy in England.
  • In 1895, at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament. It set aside his estate to establish the Nobel Prize after he died.
  • In 1896, Also sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss was first performed.
  • In 1911, vegetables were thrown at actors by an audience for the first time in recorded American history.
  • In 1924, in New York City, the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held.
  • In 1935, English television and film producer Verity Lambert was born. She began her career as a producer at the BBC by becoming the founding producer of the science-fiction series Doctor Who from 1963 until 1965.
  • In 1940, American-Chinese actor, martial artist, and screenwriter Bruce Lee was born.
  • In 1945, actor James Avery was born.
  • In 1951, director, producer, and screenwriter Kathryn Bigelow was born.
  • In 1952, astronaut Jim Wetherbee was born.
  • In 1955, engineer, educator, and television host Bill Nye was born.
  • In 1956, actor William Fichtner was born.
  • In 1957, game designer and author Michael A. Stackpole was born.
  • In 1961, English actress Samantha Bond was born.
  • In 1963, actor, director, and producer Fisher Stevens was born.
  • In 1968, Penny Ann Early became the first woman to play major professional basketball for the Kentucky Colonels in an ABA game against the Los Angeles Stars.
  • In 1971, the Soviet space program’s Mars 2 orbiter released a descent module. It malfunctioned and crashed, but it was the first man-made object to reach the surface of Mars.
  • In 1976, actor and screenwriter Jaleel White was born.
  • In 1978, San Francisco city mayor George Moscone and openly gay city supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated by former supervisor Dan White.
  • In 1985, Canadian actress Alison Pill was born.
  • In 2001, a hydrogen atmosphere was discovered on the extrasolar planet Osiris by the Hubble Space Telescope. It was the first atmosphere detected on an extrasolar planet.
  • In 2013, Disney’s Frozen was released. It became the highest-grossing animated film of all time.

November 27th is Lancashire Day, a county day for historic Lancashire in England.

It commemorates the day in 1295 when Lancashire first sent representatives to Parliament. This was to attend the Model Parliament of King Edward I. Lancashire Day was first held in 1996.

Curated by the Friends of Real Lancashire, it is observed with the loyal toast to “The Queen, Duke of Lancaster”, and is celebrated from everywhere within the county palatine. The day is marked throughout the historic county by town criers announcing the Lancashire Day proclamation which declares the historic regions boundaries of the county, and finishes with “God bless Lancashire, and God save the Queen, Duke of Lancaster”.

The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

The Thing About Today – November 26

November 26, 2020
Day 331 of 366

November 26th is the 331st day of the year. It is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, typically observed on the fourth Thursday of November.

In the United States, today is also observed as National Day of Mourning. This day was organized by the United American Indians of New England (UAINE) since they consider Thanksgiving Day as a continued reminder of the democide and suffering of Native American people. Since 1970, participants in the National Day of Mourning have honored Native ancestors and their struggles to survive today. Part of the mission behind the event is to educate Americans about the history of Thanksgiving, and the event has brought about revisions in the depiction of United States history and government and settler relationships with Native American peoples as well as a renewed appreciation for their culture.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1842, the University of Notre Dame was founded.
  • In 1863, United States President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed November 26 as a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated annually on the final Thursday of November. Following the Franksgiving controversy from 1939 to 1941, it has been observed on the fourth Thursday in 1942 and subsequent years.
  • In 1917, the National Hockey League was formed, with the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs, and Toronto Arenas as its first teams.
  • In 1922, Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon became the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in over 3000 years.
  • Also in 1922, The Toll of the Sea debuted as the first general release film to use two-tone Technicolor. The Gulf Between was the first film to do so, but it was not widely distributed.
  • In 1939, American-Swiss singer-songwriter, dancer, and actress Tina Turner was born.
  • In 1942, Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, premiered in New York City.
  • In 1956, The Price is Right debuted on NBC.
  • In 1965, France launched Astérix, becoming the third nation to put an object in orbit using its own booster.
  • In 1981, English singer-songwriter and producer Natasha Bedingfield was born.
  • In 2003, the Concorde made its final flight, flying over Bristol, England.
  • In 2011, the Mars Science Laboratory launched to Mars with the Curiosity Rover.
  • In 2018, the robotic probe Insight landed on Elysium Planitia, Mars.

November 26th is unofficially known as National Cake Day in the United States. While cakes have origins from both Greek and Norse cultures, the day itself is rather inconsequential.

Add a cake of some sort to your day, whether it be Thanksgiving related or not. If you plan on celebrating today, I hope you have a good and safe holiday.

If you’re not celebrating today, enjoy your Thursday. I’ll see you again tomorrow.

The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #209: The End of Time

Doctor Who: The End of Time
(Christmas Special, 2009)
(New Year Special, 2010)

“It is said that in the final days of planet Earth, everyone had bad dreams…” Everyone forgot these terrible dreams, except one man.

London is gearing up for Christmas, and Wilfred Mott is no exception. However, when he sees flashes of the Master laughing maniacally, he seeks the sanctuary of a nearby church. In the stained glass, he spots an image of the TARDIS. A mysterious woman tells him that it’s called the mystery of the blue box, driven by a sainted physician who smote a demon and vanished. She muses that he may be coming back, but when Wilf tells her that it would make his Christmas, she vanishes.

And the Master laughs.

The TARDIS materializes on the Ood Sphere, a full century after the Doctor and Donna freed the Ood. The Doctor struts into the snowy landscape in a tropical get-up, trying to get a laugh from Ood Sigma with a remote car lock on the time capsule. It doesn’t work. Neither does the Doctor’s boasting that he named a galaxy Alison, saw the Phosphorous Carousel of the Great Magellan Gestalt, and married Queen Elizabeth I.

The Doctor is troubled by the rapid nature of the Ood evolution. The Ood are troubled as well, though their burden is bad dreams of a return. The Doctor joins their vision and sees the laughing Master. The Doctor protests since the Master is dead, sharing his memories of The Year That Never Was, but is troubled as he sees visions of Wilf, Lucy Saxon, and a mysterious couple.

He recounts the tale of the Master’s demise and funeral, but the Ood note how he missed a woman picking up the Master’s ring. There’s also a shadow falling over creation. The end of time is coming.

The Doctor runs for the TARDIS. Lucy Saxon is set free from her jail cell in Christmas Eve. As the Doctor flies the TARDIS apart, Lucy is introduced to Miss Trefusis, the woman who retrieved the ring, and a group of fanatical disciples of the Master. The ring is placed into a vessel among potions and the biological signature from Lucy’s lips. The disciples surrender their life energy as the Master rematerializes in a burst of energy. The drumbeat echoes in his head as he muses to Lucy, but Lucy stymies his plans by throwing a potion of her own into the mix.

The prison explodes.

The Doctor arrives a day too late.

But someone survived the inferno, and that unknown couple celebrates. They are Joshua Naismith and his daughter Abigail, and they give orders to prepare the gate.

Meanwhile, Wilf joins a group of friends for drinks, but ends up giving them informational packets to keep an eye our for the Doctor. When they question him, he reminds them of their bad dreams and that the Doctor can help them.

In a junkyard, two men pick up meals from a food truck. A third man in a hoodie arrives and reveals himself as the Master. He devours a hamburger with the other two men, and after he’s identified as Harold Saxon, he chases them back to the food truck while phasing in and out. The food truck has been destroyed, and the two men are consumed next.

The Doctor stands over the junkyard, which the Master senses. The Master begins pounding a drumbeat on a steel drum. The Doctor runs to find him but arrives just in time to watch the manic Time Lord jump away with superhuman power. The Doctor pleads with him, asking to help him before he burns up his lifeforce, but the Master disappears.

Wilf arrives right away with his Silver Cloak network, and the Doctor is beside himself as they fawn over him. The Doctor returns to town with Wilf and they sit down over tea. The Doctor wonders why they keep meeting, musing about the prophecy of his own death. Even upon regeneration, he says, each incarnation dies as the next carries on.

They spot Donna, and while the Doctor reinforces that she can never remember him, he’s pleased that she’s moved on. She’s engaged to Shaun Temple, but Wilf knows that she knows that something is missing in her life.

Wilf asks about his companions and the Doctor tells him that he’s traveling alone. Sadly, he notes, without a companion he’s made some bad choices. The Doctor starts crying, burdened by the guilt of his recent actions which also devastates Wilf. He asks if Donna could make him smile again, but by now she is gone. The Doctor moves on as fate places all of the players on the field.

The Doctor finds the Master. The Master generates some kind of electrical blasts and pours energy into the Doctor, forcing the Time Lord to the ground. The Doctor realizes that the Master’s body has been torn wide open, enabling him to weaponize his life force at the expense of his own time. It’s a resurrection gone wrong and the Master is insane.

The Master remembers back to their childhood, where they would play on pastures of red grass, stretching across the slopes of Mount Perdition. The Doctor talks of the prophecy and the Master of his drumbeat. The Master shares the sound with the Doctor, forcing the Doctor to recoil in fear. The Master rockets away and the Doctor gives chase. The Master stops and asks what is calling him. Then a helicopter arrives, shoots at the Doctor, and abducts the Master. The Doctor is left unconscious in the junkyard.

Christmas arrives. Donna has given Wilf a copy of Naismith’s book, Fighting the Future, which troubles Wilf. Donna has no idea why she picked it out. It just felt right. Shaun arrives and Wilf tries to watch the Queen’s address, but it is preempted by a message that only he can see. The mysterious woman warns that, even though he fought in the war and never took a life, he will need to take up arms. He should also not warn the Doctor of this.

He goes to his bedroom and retrieves his service revolver. He looks up as the Doctor tosses a rock at his window, and goes out to talk to him. The Doctor is trying to connect the dots and finally does when Wilf shows him Naismith’s book. When Donna comes calling, the Doctor and Wilf take off in the TARDIS, leaving Sylvia yelling at the wind and Donna amused.

It’s Wilf’s first trip in the TARDIS. He thought it would be cleaner.

Meanwhile, the Naismiths celebrate the arrival of the Master. Wrapped in a straitjacket, the Time Lord is introduced to the Immortality Gate, which Naismith found after the fall of Torchwood. The gate’s power supply includes two booths connected to a nuclear device so that it has to be manned all the time. Naismith wants immortality for his daughter, who is aware of the disciples of Saxon.

Naismith has moles in his staff. Two of his scientists, Addams and Rossiter, are undercover Vinvocci disguised as humans. They want to take the gate for themselves.

The Doctor and Wilf arrive, and the Doctor pushes the TARDIS one second out of sync to hide it. They sneak into the Naismith complex and find the Vinvocci as the Master repairs the gate and brings it online. As the Master is restrained, the Doctor questions what is going on.

The Vinvocci are a salvage team and the gate is a medical device that repairs entire planets using a genetic template. They are also not the Zocci and take offense to being compared to cacti. With this knowledge, the Doctor rushes upstairs as the Master jumps into the gate. The Master’s genetic template is transmitted across the planet into every human being.

The Doctor and Wilf jump into the control booths. The radiation shielding protects Wilf from the transmission, leaving the Doctor free to work. Meanwhile, the planet is panicking.

Everyone begins transforming into the Master and Donna has witnessed it since she’s immune due to the metacrisis. Unfortunately, she’s begun to remember all of it as the Master celebrates the rise of the Master race.

And that unknown narrator who has been chronicling the story? He’s happy, because the return of the Time Lords and Gallifrey is at hand. He’s also the current Lord President.

In Doctor Who fashion, this story is taking place in two distinct temporal zones. On the last day of the Time War, the High Council tells the Lord President that the Doctor still has the Moment. Once he uses it, Gallifrey will fall as the Daleks are destroyed. One adviser suggests that it might be for the best since billions are dying and being resurrected over and over, but the President vaporizes her for the suggestion.

He will not surrender.

He learns that the Doctor and the Master will survive the Time War and will end up on Earth, so the President sets his sights there.

On Earth, the Doctor and Wilf are restrained as the Master checks in with himself around the world. The Master is surprised as Donna calls, demanding to know why she hasn’t changed. Wilf warns her to run as the Master pursues, but when Donna is cornered, the Doctor-Donna power is unleashed. The Masters and Donna all collapse.

The Master ungags the Doctor. The Doctor offers to let the Master travel with him, but the Master is concerned about the drumbeat in his head. Wilf asks about it, and the Master shares the story of how he was forced to look into the Untempered Schism. That was when it began.

The Lord President learns of this story at the same time, correlating the rhythm of four with the heartbeat of a Time Lord.

The Doctor realizes that the Master is still dying even with the Gate’s influence, but the Master is otherwise obsessed. The drumbeat is now amplified billions of times and coming from the end of time. The prophecy concerns him.

When the Master order Wilf to be executed, the guard turns out to be Rossiter. The Master is knocked unconscious and Wilf and the Doctor are rescued by Rossiter, Addams, and a teleport to the orbiting Vinvocci ship.

Once freed from his restraints, the Doctor rushes to save them from a planet of missiles aimed toward the skies. Oh, and a starstruck Wilf who has never been to space.

The Doctor’s solution? He turns the entire ship off by destroying the ship’s systems. It has stranded them in orbit, but Wilf has faith in the Doctor. As the Doctor begins to rebuild the ship’s systems, the mysterious woman appears to Wilf again and orders him to give his gun to the Doctor.

As the Masters listen for the drumbeats – which are now revealed to have been planted by the Lord President at the end of the Time War – the High Council sends a White-Point Star through the link. The size of a diamond, it is small enough to break the temporal lock, and when it lands in London with a giant crater, the Master laughs hysterically.

Wilf talks with the Doctor as the Time Lord works on the ship. He recounts his memories of the war and learns that the Doctor is 906 years old. He supposes that the Doctor sees humans as insects, but the Doctor admits that he really sees them as giants. The Doctor refuses the gun, but tells Wilf that he would be proud to be his son.

The Doctor wonders if Time Lords live too long, but realizes that killing the Master would only mean that he starts down that dark path. While he’s made some bad choices and taken lives, he won’t kill the Master to save himself, even if Wilf pleads with him.

The Master sends an open broadcast to the Doctor, revealing the existence of the White-Point Star. The Doctor realizes with fear that the Time Lords are returning, and he takes the gun and rushes to the control room.

On Earth, the Master uses the White-Point Star to establish a link and open a pathway. Contact is made, and the High Council chooses life over the fall of Gallifrey.

Wilf is confused. He thought that the Time Lords were wise and peaceful, but that’s how the Doctor chooses to remember them. In reality, the horrors of the Time War had changed them, irrevocably corrupting them and making them far more dangerous than any of his enemies.

The Doctor restores power to the ship and takes control. With an old Earth saying, a word of great power and wisdom and consolation to soul in times of need, he drives the ship toward the planet: “Allons-y!”

Using the ship’s salvage lasers, Wilf and Rossiter destroy the planet’s missiles as the ship races to England. When they arrive, the Doctor dives from the ship, falling through the glass dome into the chamber below at the President’s feet in a battered mess.

That’s right. The Time Lords have arrived.

The President greets the renegades as “Lord Doctor” and “Lord Master”, noting the paradox of having been saved by Gallifrey’s most infamous child. When the Master tries to change the Time Lords into himself, the President reverses the effect worldwide and demands that humanity kneel before him.

Then Gallifrey materializes in Earth’s orbit, bearing down on the planet and causing it to quake. Shaun goes in search of Donna as everyone panics in the street. Wilf finds his way to the surface and enters the Gate’s control chamber.

The Master is excited that the Time Lords have returned, but the Doctor reminds him that he wasn’t there in the final days. All of the other horrors born in the last days of the Time War, which he had sealed away in the Time Lock, would also be released. The Daleks would be joined by the Skaro Degradations, the Horde of Travesties, the Nightmare Child, and the Could’ve Been King with his Army of Meanwhiles and Neverweres. Hell has come to Earth, and the Time Lords, who had planned to deal with these horrors with the Ultimate Sanction – an ascension above the physical form while creation tears itself apart – would be enacted here.

All of this chaos was happening at the same time as Dalek Caan breaking through the time lock to rescue Davros. Apparently, while it was primarily a battle between the Daleks and the Time Lords, the Time War engulfed the entire universe in both space and time.

The Doctor draws Wilf’s gun on the President, then on the Master. Both are the ends of the link, but the Doctor cannot kill either. Finally, he spots the mysterious woman in the President’s retinue. She was one of the two advisers who disagreed with the President and was forced to hide her face like a Weeping Angel. Her tear-streaked gaze focuses on the White-Point Star, and when the Doctor shoots it, Gallifrey returns to its rightful place on the last day of the Time War.

The President, now revealed as Rassilon, threatens to take the Doctor with him, but the Master unleashes his energy in fury. Rassilon falls to his knees as Gallifrey, the Time Lords, and the Master vanish.

The planet and her people are safe once again, and the Doctor is certain that he’s dodged the prophecy.

But someone knocks four times.

Wilf is still in the control booth, and the only way out is if someone replaces him and takes the brunt of the nuclear blast of 500,000 rads as the energy source goes into overload. Wilf offers to sacrifice himself, but the Doctor cannot allow that. Even in his anger because he could do so much more!

The Doctor pushes his own darkness aside because he knows the right answer and enters the booth. Wilf is saved as the energy pours into the Doctor. The Time Lord collapses in pain, and once the energy release is complete, the Doctor exits the now dead booth.

Wilf thinks that the Doctor made it out okay, but the Doctor shows him the injuries from his skydive. His regeneration has begun. The Tenth Doctor is dying.

All Wilf can offer is a hug.

Shaun and Sylvia tend to Donna as the Doctor drops Wilf at the house. The whine of the TARDIS awakens her, and she seems to be no worse for wear. The Doctor promises that he’ll see Wilf one more time, but he has a reward to find.

Here we find the Tenth Doctor seeking redemption for the dark things he’s done since losing Donna.

First, he saves Martha and Mickey from a Sontaran sniper. It turns out that they’re married now. To each other.

Next, he saves Luke Smith from being struck by a car. With a glance, he says farewell to Sarah Jane. She knows what’s coming next.

Next up? An intergalactic bar where he introduces a despondent Captain Jack Harkness to Midshipman Alonso Frame. You know what happens next.

After that, he buys a book from Verity Newman. Her great-grandmother was Joan Redfern, the woman who fell in love with John Smith. He asks if Joan was happy in the end. She was. Silently, so was he.

He returns to Wilf at Donna’s successful wedding. He offers a winning lottery ticket bought with a pound from Sylvia’s late husband. Once they cash it in, all of the family’s financial troubles will be history. The Doctor leaves with a final look at Wilfred, the man whose life he saved at the expense of his own. Wilfred cries, realizing that he’ll never see the Doctor again. It’s one salute that the Doctor doesn’t mind.

Finally, we come to New Years Day 2005. From the shadows, he talks to Rose Tyler at the Powell Estate, promising her that she’s going to have a really great year. When she meets the Ninth Doctor in a few months, she certainly will.

With that, he struggles back to the TARDIS, guided by Ood Sigma. Sigma tells him that the universe will sing him to sleep, and while this song is ending, the story never ends. The Doctor musters his strength as the Ood sing “Vale Decem” in chorus.

He enters the TARDIS, discards his coat, and looks upon his glowing hand as the TARDIS reaches orbit. He laments, “I don’t want to go,” and then erupts in violent regeneration energy.

The explosion rips through the TARDIS, toppling the coral supports, tearing apart the console, and blowing out the windows.


You know, I actually feel sorry for the Master. When Professor Yana regenerated into this version of the Master, I was pleased. Professor Yana was a little crazed due to his identity crisis but also a whole lotta evil. The Harold Saxon Master was diabolical and slightly insane due to the constant drumbeat in his head. When the Master was defeated and killed by Lucy Saxon, I thought it was a good ending for the character, even with the knowledge that the Master never dies.

This resurrection gone wrong takes the character in an entirely wrong direction. I can understand the increased mania, since we’ve seen regenerations gone wrong before, and I loved the dynamic of the Doctor trying to save the Master from self-destruction, but the flight and speed superpowers were way over the top. It shifts a nefarious nemesis into a parody, and thankfully the powers were limited.

What’s really intriguing is the Gallifery connection. We know Rassilon, from his origins as a founder of Time Lord civilization to the manifestation of his quest for power in The Five Doctors, and we know just how aloof and disdainful the Time Lords are in general. So, it really makes sense that they would willingly torture one of their own to save their civilization.

The Doctor knew it, too. Throughout the classic era, the Doctor wore his displeasure on his sleeves. Whatever happened in the Time War – whatever mighty burden the Doctor carries in the aftermath – was powerful enough to change his anger into rose-colored nostalgia.

Shifting gear, Wilf is just too precious. He is the perfect embodiment of Doctor Who, from his wide-eyed wonder upon going to space (having dreamed about it since Partners in Crime) to his delicate balance of self-sacrifice, love, and understanding that darkness is necessary to balance the light. He claims that he’s lived his life to its natural conclusion, but he has so much more to give the world in his honesty and sincerity. One of my favorite character notes is that he was a veteran, but he never killed anyone in the war and sees that as a badge of honor.

I am really going to miss him.

His moment in the “final reward” farewell tour was touching. It was also a fitting ending to Donna’s story as she gained so much happiness after losing so much. I was also pleased with the emotion and scope of the farewell tour, from Sarah Jane and Captain Jack – that scene was also a farewell to Russell T. Davies as well, given all of the creature cameos in those short minutes – to Rose and even Mickey the Idiot. The nod to the franchise’s origins with Verity Newman was a very nice touch.

The scene with Martha and Mickey was pretty cool, but their marriage comes out of pretty much nowhere. Last we knew from The Last of the Time Lords, Reset, and The Sontaran Stratagem, Martha was engaged to Tom Milligan. You know, the pediatrician working in Africa who was a resistance leader in The Year That Never Was? But somewhere between The Sontaran Stratagem and The End of Time, she hot-swapped Tom for Mickey.

The final farewell with Rose was a perfect place to end the tour, promising her a fantastic year to come from the shadows. She obviously disregarded the whole meeting as one with a New Year’s drunk, but the promise is heartwarming.

Then we come to the part where Murray Gold hits it out of the park. “Vale Decem,” which premiered at the end of The Waters of Mars, is a near-perfect farewell for the Tenth Doctor. It combines the Doctor’s theme with a Latin love letter that literally says “Farewell Ten”, and since the Doctor’s theme is the base melody and the Doctor can hear the song, it can be assumed that the Doctor’s theme exists in the “real world” of the Doctor Who universe.

Finally, the regeneration. It is heartbreaking from both the in-universe and production aspects. The Tenth Doctor was the most popular incarnation of the character since the Fourth Doctor, greatly owed to each of them being an entry point for the franchise. You never forget your first Doctor, after all. But from production, the regeneration was the coda to an era of the show which heralded the resurrection of the franchise.

In the phoenix flames of rebirth, the title character destroys the console room (which was iconic for years) and ends the Russell T. Davies era of Doctor Who.

And, yeah, that regeneration makes a lot of sense. He’s been holding this process back for who knows how long. Effectively, he’s been dying the entire time. The explosive destruction should be expected.

The end result on this story? It is a fun adventure when the tempo picks up, but I remember the first time that I watched it. I had only seen the series from Rose forward, and with very little knowledge about the show’s history or the Time War, the story was confusing and convoluted. It made a lot more sense on this watch thanks to my detailed trip through Doctor Who, but I wonder how much I would have enjoyed this a decade ago if Russell T. Davies had addressed more about the Time War in the course of his run.

That mystery will continue for several seasons.

Based on the rules of the Timestamps Project, regeneration episodes get a +1 handicap since they tend to be a little rough. Without that bump, this story would have settled at a high 3 or low 4, primarily from the Super Master effect.

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Specials and Tenth Doctor Summary


The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

The Thing About Today – November 25

November 25, 2020
Day 330 of 366

November 25th is the 330th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Suriname, celebrating their separation from the Netherlands in 1975.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Play Day with Dad, National Parfait Day, Blasé Day, Shopping Reminder Day, Tie One On Day, and National Jukebox Day. Those last two are typically observed on the day before Thanksgiving.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1487, Elizabeth of York was crowned Queen of England.
  • In 1491, the siege of Granada, the last Moorish stronghold in Spain, ended with the Treaty of Granada.
  • In 1783, the last British troops left New York City, commonly known as Evacuation Day, three months after the signing of the Treaty of Paris.
  • In 1844, German engineer and businessman Karl Benz was born. He founded Mercedes-Benz.
  • In 1914, baseball player and coach Joe DiMaggio was born.
  • In 1915, Albert Einstein presented the field equations of general relativity to the Prussian Academy of Sciences. These equations relate the geometry of spacetime to the distribution of matter within it.
  • In 1920, Mexican actor Ricardo Montalbán was born.
  • In 1926, actor and producer Jeffrey Hunter was born. He was the first Captain Christopher Pike on Star Trek.
  • This day in 1940 marked the first flights of both the de Havilland Mosquito and Martin B-26 Marauder.
  • In 1947, the “Hollywood Ten” were formally blacklisted by Hollywood movie studios for defying Congress.
  • Also in 1947, actor John Larroquette was born.
  • In 1950, English-American author Chris Claremont was born.
  • In 1952, Agatha Christie’s murder-mystery play The Mousetrap opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in London. It would become the longest continuously-running play in history.
  • In 1965, Scottish television and film actor Dougray Scott was born.
  • In 1968, twin sisters Jacqueline and Jill Hennessy were born. Both are Canadian actresses. Jacqueline is also a journalist and Jill is also a singer.
  • In 1971, actress Christina Applegate was born.
  • In 1984, thirty-six top musicians gathered in a Notting Hill studio and recorded Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in order to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia.
  • In 1986, actress Katie Cassidy was born.
  • In 1996, the Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade closed after twenty-four years of operation.

November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

This United Nations day is designed to raise awareness of the fact that women around the world are subject to rape, domestic violence, and other forms of violence, and that the scale and true nature of the issue is often hidden.

The event is related to the 1960 murder of the Mirabal sisters. Patria, Minerva, María Teresa, and Dedé Mirabal were Dominican women who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo (known as El Jefe) and were involved in clandestine activities against his regime. Patria, Minerva, and María Teresa were assassinated on this date in 1960. The last sister, Dedé, died of natural causes on February 1, 2014.

The assassinations turned the Mirabal sisters into symbols of both popular and feminist resistance, and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was designated in 1999 in their honor.

The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

The Thing About Today – November 24

November 24, 2020
Day 329 of 366

November 24th is the 329th day of the year. It is Lachit Divas in Assam, a state in northeastern India. Lachit Day commemorates the heroism of Lachit Borphukan and the victory of the Assamese army at the Battle of Saraighat, an event that thwarted a drawn-out attempt by Mughal forces under the command of Ramsingh I to take over the Ahom kingdom.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Sardines Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1835, the Texas Provincial Government authorized the creation of a horse-mounted police force called the Texas Rangers. The force is now the Texas Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
  • In 1868, pianist and composer Scott Joplin was born.
  • In 1877, Anna Sewell’s animal welfare novel Black Beauty was published.
  • In 1925, Dutch-Swiss particle accelerator physicist and engineer Simon van der Meer was born. A Nobel Prize laureate, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1984 with Carlo Rubbia for contributions to the CERN project which led to the discovery of the W and Z particles, two of the most fundamental constituents of matter.
  • In 1926, Chinese-American physicist and academic Tsung-Dao Lee was born. A Nobel Prize laureate, he is known for his work on parity violation, the Lee Model, particle physics, relativistic heavy ion (RHIC) physics, nontopological solitons, and soliton stars.
  • In 1947, actor Dwight Schultz was born.
  • Also in 1947, the United States House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities found the “Hollywood Ten” in contempt because of their refusal to reveal whether they were communists. The group of screenwriters and directors included Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner Jr., John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Robert Adrian Scott, and Dalton Trumbo.
  • In 1957, actress and producer Denise Crosby was born.
  • In 1962, the influential British satirical television program That Was the Week That Was was first broadcast.
  • In 1965, Scottish actress Shirley Henderson was born.
  • In 1966, English tenor and actor Russell Watson was born.
  • In 1971, during a severe thunderstorm over Washington state, a hijacker calling himself Dan Cooper (also known as D. B. Cooper) parachuted from a Northwest Orient Airlines plane with $200,000 in ransom money. He has never been found.
  • In 1974, Donald Johanson and Tom Gray discovered the 40% complete Australopithecus afarensis skeleton, nicknamed “Lucy” (after The Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”), in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia’s Afar Depression.
  • In 1977, actor Colin Hanks was born.
  • In 1978, actress and producer Katherine Heigl was born.

November 24th is Evolution Day, commemorating the anniversary of the initial publication of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin in 1859.

Such celebrations have been held for over a century, but the specific term “Evolution Day” is a neologism which was coined prior to 1997. By highlighting Darwin’s contributions to science, the day’s events are used to educate about evolutionary biology.

It is similar to the better-known Darwin Day, the commemoration of his birth on February 12, 1809. It is unrelated to the secularization campaign by the Giordano Bruno Foundation to have the German public holiday of Ascension Day renamed to “Evolutionstag” (Evolution Day).

The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

The Thing About Today – November 23

November 23, 2020
Day 328 of 366

November 23rd is the 328th day of the year. It is Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan. Known locally as 勤労感謝の日 (Kinrō Kansha no Hi), it is an occasion to commemorate labor and production and give one another thanks.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Cashew Day, National Eat a Cranberry Day, and National Espresso Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 534 BC, Thespis of Icaria became the first recorded actor to portray a character on stage. Hence, one imagines, the term thespian.
  • In 1644, John Milton published Areopagitica, a pamphlet decrying censorship.
  • In 1887, English actor Boris Karloff was born.
  • In 1888, comedian and musician Harpo Marx was born.
  • In 1889, the first jukebox went into operation at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco.
  • In 1916, Malaysian-English actor Michael Gough was born.
  • In 1924, Edwin Hubble’s discovery that the Andromeda “nebula” is actually another island galaxy far outside of our own Milky Way was first published in The New York Times.
  • In 1925, composer and conductor Johnny Mandel was born.
  • In 1959, English-American actor Maxwell Caulfield was born.
  • In 1963, Doctor Who premiered on the BBC. The pilot episode, An Unearthly Child, began the first four-part serial of the franchise and started the world’s longest running science fiction drama.
  • In 1970, Israeli-American actor Oded Fehr was born.
  • In 1976, apneist Jacques Mayol became the first man to reach a depth of 100 meters undersea without breathing equipment.
  • In 1992, the first smartphone, the IBM Simon, was introduced at COMDEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • In 2013, Doctor Who celebrated its 50th anniversary with multiple television events in the week surrounding the event. Paul McGann returned as the Eighth Doctor in The Night of the Doctor, the origins of the franchise were explored in An Adventure in Space and Time, and most of the surviving classic-era lead actors starred in the parody The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. The crown jewel of the celebration was the multi-Doctor episode The Day of the Doctor.
  • In 2015, Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle became the first rocket to successfully fly to space and then return to Earth for a controlled, vertical landing.

November 23rd is the Repudiation Day in Frederick County, Maryland in the United States.

In 1765, the judges of Frederick County became the first to repudiate the British Stamp Act, a tax which was designed to cover the costs of keeping British troops in the American colonies. Frederick County judges decided that they were not going to charge the tax and refused to stamp the documents. Furthermore, the stamps had not arrived from Britain, and the colonists had not been properly notified. The late Judge Edward Delaplaine called the 12 Frederick County judges who repudiated the Stamp Act the “12 immortal judges.”

Each year, the Frederick Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) hosts a tea party to celebrate Repudiation Day. Tea and crumpets are served, and the Clerk of the Court reads the original proclamation passed by the judges and the Maryland Provincial Assembly in November 1765.

The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

The Thing About Today – November 22

November 22, 2020
Day 327 of 366

November 22nd is the 327th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Lebanon as they celebrate the nation’s independence from France in 1943.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Cranberry Relish Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1574, Spanish navigator Juan Fernández discovered islands now known as the Juan Fernández Islands off Chile.
  • In 1921, comedian, actor, rapper, and screenwriter Rodney Dangerfield was born.
  • In 1928, Ravel’s Boléro had its premier performance in Paris.
  • In 1932, actor and director Robert Vaughn was born.
  • In 1935, the China Clipper inaugurated the first commercial transpacific air service, connecting Alameda, California with Manila.
  • In 1940, actor, director, animator, and screenwriter Terry Gilliam was born.
  • In 1954, the Humane Society of the United States was founded.
  • In 1958, actress Jamie Lee Curtis was born.
  • In 1963, United States President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and Texas Governor John Connally was seriously wounded. Upon leaving the scene, alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald killed Dallas Police officer J. D. Tippit. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States afterwards.
  • In 1965, Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen was born.
  • In 1967, actor and activist Mark Ruffalo was born.
  • In 1968, Star Trek episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” was first aired. The episode features a passionate (but forced) kiss between James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) which is usually described as the first scripted interracial kiss of that kind between a white man and a black woman on American television.
  • In 1977, British Airways inaugurated a regular London to New York City supersonic Concorde service.
  • In 1984, Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers Neighborhood presented one of his famous sweaters to the Smithsonian Institution.
  • Also in 1984, actress Scarlett Johansson was born.
  • In 1987, two Chicago television stations were hijacked by an unknown pirate dressed as Max Headroom. They interrupted Doctor Who, y’all.
  • In 1989, actor Alden Ehrenreich was born.
  • In 1990, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher withdrew from the Conservative Party leadership election, confirming the end of her Prime-Ministership.
  • In 1994, the Sega Saturn was released in Japan.
  • In 1995, Toy Story was released as the first feature-length film created completely using computer-generated imagery.
  • Also in 1995, actress Katherine McNamara was born.
  • In 2005, Angela Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany.

November 22nd is the Day of the Albanian Alphabet.

Prior to the this date in 1908, the Albanian language was represented by a combination of six or more distinct alphabets, plus a number of sub-variants.

Between November 14th and 22nd of 1908, the Congress of Manastir (Kongresi i Manastirit in Albanian) was held as an academic conference in the city of Manastir (now known as Bitola). Their goal was standardizing the Albanian alphabet.

The day upon which the Congress was adjourned is now a commemorative day in Albania, Kosovo, and North Macedonia, as well as among the Albanian diaspora, known as Dita e Alfabetit.

The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.