Timestamp #252: Deep Breath

Doctor Who: Deep Breath
(1 episode, s08e01, 2014)

Timestamp 252 Deep Breath

The last chance for the Paternoster Gang to play Sherlock Holmes.

A tyrannosaurus rex stomps through London as the Paternoster Gang responds to investigate. Madame Vastra assumes that the dinosaur traveled through time, a suspicion that is confirmed when she coughs up the TARDIS. The blue box, which Police Inspector Gregson mistakes for an egg, lands on the bank of the Thames.

Vastra orders the inspector to place sonic lanterns along the river’s banks to confine the tyrannosaur while the Paternosters make contact with the Doctor. Strax knocks on the door and briefly meets the Twelfth Doctor. The Time Lord, still dressed in his predecessor’s clothes, is experiencing confusion and memory issues after his difficult regeneration.

With a bong of the cloister bell, the Doctor collapses on the river bank as Vastra remarks, “Here we go again.

Everyone moves to Vastra’s house where the Doctor is overstimulated by the concept of a bedroom. He also remarks that the mirror looks “absolutely furious”. When the Doctor reacts to typical British accents, Vastra adopts a Scottish accent like the Doctor’s new persona and uses his telepathy to put him to sleep. When Clara demands to know how to change the Doctor back, Vastra retires to her study with a request for her veil. After all, she realizes, there is a stranger in the house.

As the Doctor sleeps, he murmurs translations of the dinosaur’s moans. The tyrannosaur is alone and laments the lost world. Clara leaves the Doctor’s side as Strax arrives to escort her to Vastra’s study.

On the streets below, people look upon the dinosaur as a man named Alf wonders if it is a government conspiracy. He chats with a mysterious clockwork man who admires Alf’s eyes to the point of taking them.

Vastra interviews Clara about the events of and following Trenzalore. Vastra challenges the companion about her impressions of the Doctor, alluding to her veil as an analogy for the Doctor’s faces: She wears it to be accepted among those who wouldn’t understand her life and values otherwise. She also suggests that the veil is a judgment upon the character of those she meets. The Doctor trusted Clara enough to regenerate in her presence, showing her his weakest side and moment, and this revelation spins Clara into a fury. Vastra is amused by the anger, and explains that the Doctor needs all of them – especially Clara – to anchor himself as he finds his identity again. In the exchange, Vastra has removed her veil, remarking that it disappeared when Clara stopped seeing it.

The Doctor wakes up and finds a piece of chalk. He then proceeds to write Gallifreyan calculations around the room. He scrambles onto the roof and promises to return the dinosaur home, but the tyrannosaur spontaneously combusts and collapses into the river. The Doctor leaps from the roof and liberates a horse from its carriage before riding off into the night. The Paternoster Gang pursues him to the river’s edge.

The Doctor is apologetic toward the dinosaur’s remains and furious at everyone else around him, but his detective mind raises questions. First, have there been any similar murders? Second, who is the one man not gawking at the spectacle? The Doctor dives into the river with a mind to investigate.

The next morning, Strax has the TARDIS delivered to Vastra’s home. Clara dresses in Victorian fashion after being knocked out by a newspaper thrown by Strax and meets up with Jenny. It seems that Madame Vastra is having the Camberwell child poisoner for dinner… after interrogating him, of course. Strax gives Clara a medical examination as a prelude to her joining the Paternosters in case the Doctor never returns.

The Doctor is wandering about in an alley, obviously freezing in his wet state. He finds a homeless man and asks about his own face, musing about how it seems familiar, including the “attack eyebrows”. He wonders who did the frowning to wrinkle his new face so. He is delighted by his Scottish accent and how it relates to his cross-looking face.

He then remembers reading about a case of spontaneous combustion in the newspaper. Vastra is also following the leads as Jenny inexplicably poses in her underclothes. The Silurian remarks that burning the bodies would be a great way to hide what was missing from them, but this train of thought is derailed when Clara enters to show them an advertisement in the paper addressed to the Impossible Girl. After some puzzle-solving, Clara figures out that she should meet the Doctor at Mancini’s Family Restaurant.

When Clara arrives at the restaurant, she is confronted by a terrible smell. It is the Doctor, who soon joins her at a table in a coat he pawned off a homeless man. They discuss Clara’s reaction to his regeneration through his response to her advert in the paper. They soon realize that they’ve both been tricked into coming to the restaurant.

The Doctor measures the air disturbance using one of Clara’s hairs. They watch the other patrons and realize that they’re not actually eating. They’re also not breathing. When the duo stands to leave, the other patrons rise to block their exit. The Doctor and Clara sit down again and the patrons follow suit.

They are soon met by a clockwork waiter who categorizes the organs that the newcomers have to offer. The Doctor rips off the waiter’s face, noting that an automaton lies beneath, and the duo is locked into their chairs and lowered into a tunnel below. The Doctor notes that it appears to be a larder and, after some cooperative hijinks, is able to free them with the sonic screwdriver.

The Doctor and Clara tour the larder and find the Half-Faced Man – the eye thief from before – recharging in a chair. The automatons are stealing body parts to appear more human piece by piece. The cases of spontaneous combustion hide the butchery conducted upon the victims.

The Half-Faced Man begins to wake up, so the Doctor and Clara attempt to escape. The Doctor thinks that he’s seen something like this before, but the escape is thwarted as a door slides between the duo. The Doctor leaves Clara behind and she evades the automatons for a little while by holding her breath. As she walks to the exit, she’s confronted by a memory from the past and collapses as her body rebels.

Captured by the automatons, she awakens to the sight of the Half-Faced Man. Clara refuses to tell him where the Doctor is, calling the automaton’s bluff. After all, killing her will leave him without information, which is the same place he is now. Instead, she offers an information exchange, question for question, and finds out that the automatons killed the dinosaur specifically for parts so that they can reach the Promised Land. They have been working toward this goal for millions of years.

When the Half-Faced Man threatens to torture Clara for information, Clara declares that the Doctor will always have her back. Sure enough, he has been hiding as an automaton, and with a keyword – Geronimo! – the Paternoster Gang arrives as backup.

He also determines that the Half-Faced Man did not post the advert summoning the travelers to the restaurant.

The Half-Faced Man retreats upstairs with the Doctor in pursuit, attempting to leave via an escape capsule. Vastra had summoned the police, but the automaton chases them out and leaves an opportunity for the Doctor to pour two drinks for a discussion. He now remembers that the automatons are from the 51st century and continues to extract information as the escape capsule is deployed. It is powered by a hot-air balloon made from human skin.

The Doctor examines a control button and finds that the pod belonged to the SS Marie Antoinette, sister ship to the SS Madame de Pompadour. The ship fell through time and crashed into England millions of years earlier. The only survivors, the service robots, began their cycle of repairing themselves over and over again. The Doctor assures the Half-Faced Man that humans are never small to him. That he will always fight for them.

As they struggle, Clara and the Paternosters finally defeat the robotic warriors in the larder by holding their breath as Clara uses the sonic screwdriver to open the door. Meanwhile, the Doctor and the Half-Faced Man reach an impasse. Suicide is against the automaton’s programming, but murder is against the Doctor’s nature.

Only one of them is lying, and they both know who it is. In the end, the automaton falls from the capsule and dies impaled upon the spire of the Clock Tower.

Clara and the Paternoster Gang return to Vastra’s home only to find the Doctor and the TARDIS are gone. Clara offers to join the household, but Vastra points out that Clara has already dressed in her modern-era clothing in preparation for continuing her travels. Sure enough, the TARDIS returns and Clara joins the Doctor in a revamped console room.

The Doctor tells her that he’s not a boyfriend, noting that it was his mistake to lead her on in his previous life. He’s also made many mistakes over two thousand years and is keen to do something about them. He places the TARDIS in flight and asks about the advert in the paper. The Doctor ties it back to the strange woman who originally gave Clara the TARDIS’s phone number as a computer help line, deciding that someone really wants the two of them to travel together.

The TARDIS lands at Clara’s home time, and she expresses regret that she doesn’t know who the Doctor is anymore. At that moment, Clara’s mobile rings, and she steps out to head the Eleventh Doctor in the line. He leaves her a message from Trenzalore – before she found the exterior phone dangling – imploring her to put aside her fear in order to help the Doctor find his way. With that, the Eleventh Doctor says goodbye.

Clara returns to the Twelfth Doctor’s side. The Time Lord asks her to look beyond the appearance and just see him. Clara examines him before giving him a hug, thanking him for the guidance. This Doctor’s not a hugger, but he offers to go for chips and coffee. They’ll work through the change together.

The Half-Faced Man awakens in a mysterious garden. He is greeted by a woman named Missy who refers to the Doctor as her boyfriend. She tells the automaton that he has reached his goal. He is in the Promised Land.



This episode is a rough start to a new era, but it plays well because it reflects the rough regeneration and the turmoil in the relationship between the Doctor and Clara.

On its face, Clara’s reaction to regeneration doesn’t seem reasonable. One could argue that she doesn’t remember her fragmented trip into the Doctor’s timeline in The Name of the Doctor, however, she readily recognized the War Doctor in The Day of the Doctor and remembered the salvation of Gallifrey during The Time of the Doctor. Therefore, she obviously knows about regeneration having directly interacted with three distinct incarnations of the Doctor during her travels.

Her confusion, therefore, seems to be linked to how the Doctor appears after regeneration, which makes her appear shallow. This is an unfortunate change of character for Clara that only gets a bit of smoothing over by suggesting that the Eleventh Doctor led her to believe that their relationship was more romantic and/or intimate. There is a point to be made here, of course, because the Eleventh Doctor was pretty obsessive over Clara’s “Impossible Girl” mystery, but her knowledge of regeneration should have overridden that.

The smoothing at the end of the episode also gives a bit of promise to the new somewhat antagonistic dynamic between the Doctor and Clara. She has been requested specifically by the old Doctor to help the new Doctor find his footing, and I can get on board with that as long as the transition doesn’t take too long. I am eager to have a Doctor that doesn’t have romantic entanglements with his companions.

The roughness of this episode also results from smashing elements of three previous adventures into one: Invasion of the Dinosaurs, The Snowmen, and The Girl in the Fireplace. To that end, it plays as a “greatest hits” story in the background of this Doctor’s character introduction. It works, but it is awkward, especially with some of the more slapstick comedy elements like the boing effect when the Doctor is put to sleep, the car alarm on the Paternoster carriage, and the strange underwear modeling by Jenny while Vastra works. These comedic beats fell flat for me.

On the upside, I love this Doctor’s outfit and mannerisms once he returns to pick up Clara. Between these elements and Vastra’s “here we go again”, Steven Moffat is obviously trying to tie the Twelfth Doctor to the Third Doctor.

Speaking of the Doctor’s return, this is typically seen as the moment where the Twelfth Doctor joined the Siege of Gallifrey.

Peter Capaldi’s eyebrow cameo in The Day of the Doctor has never been explicitly placed within his run on the show, but the visual clues point to this moment. The console room in the cameo clearly shows the Series 7 console room coloring (which has changed upon the Doctor’s return here) and Capaldi has his shorter haircut. The piece that seals it for me is the chalk equations, which aren’t explained within the story but make sense if he’s still processing the plan put in place by the Tenth, Eleventh, and War Doctors.

There is a possibility that the Twelfth Doctor’s inclusion in the Siege of Gallifrey is a paradox that takes place outside of time, which typically happens when multiple Doctors appear in the same story – see The Five Doctors and Time Crash for prime examples – but the effects of The Day of the Doctor have shown to be pretty significant, so I’m keen to side with the theory that the Twelfth Doctor’s role in the 50th anniversary special happened here.

Finally, this episode brings us the final appearance (to date) of the Paternoster Gang, and Steven Moffat really hammed up the Sherlock Holmes connections (which we started seeing in The Snowmen). Inspector Gregson, “the game is afoot!”, the Conk-Singleton forgery case, the Camberwell poisoning case, and Vastra’s use of the agony column are all significant in the universe created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

(Though I did learn that “the game is afoot” originated with Shakespeare’s Henry V.)

While this story was rough and awkward, it was far more engaging than The Time of the Doctor and lays some groundwork for the adventures to come. Recall that, per the rules of the Timestamps Project, regeneration episodes pick up an extra point. That pushes Deep Breath from above average to top marks.

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Into the Dalek


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.

Culture on My Mind – TV Vampires and Saturday Cartoons

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
TV Vampires and Saturday Cartoons
June 20, 2022

I’m playing a little catch-up this week, so here’s the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track talking about TV vampires and Saturday morning cartoons.

On June 2nd, Joe Crowe and Gary Mitchel were joined by Tom Morris (The Good, the Bad, and the Nerdy Movie Podcast) Lacee Aderhold (on Twitter), and author Lucy Blue (official site) to discuss Forever Knight, Dark Shadows, Kindred the Embraced, and more. They might even mention that famous California cheerleader…

On June 16th, it was Funshine Saturday time! There was once a time when cartoons and weird live-action shows defined Saturday mornings, complete with drum-playing sharks, snickering dogs, sentient buggies, superheroes, and more. Joe was joined by Kornflake (The FlopCast) and Sherman Burris (on Twitter) as they poured a bowl of cereal and sat way too close to the television screen.

These Classic Track Quarantine Panels will be held once every two weeks (or every fortnight, if you will). If you want to play along at home, grab your internet-capable device of choice and navigate the webs to the YouTube channel and/or the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

If you want to connect with the track, Joe, and/or Gary on the socials, you can find them on Twitter (ClassicTrack, JoeCroweShow, and sneezythesquid) and Instagram (SciFiClassicTrack, JoeCroweShow, and Gary_Mitchel). And, of course, to celebrate more pop culture awesomeness, you can find Dragon Con all year round on the internet, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

The next panel will be on June 30th. The future of these panels includes a classic game show, some television mashups, and a 30th anniversary celebration. We’re entering the home stretch of livestreams before all of these panelists convene in person at Dragon Con. You can find all of this and more every other Thursday as the American Sci-Fi Classics Track explores the vast reaches of classic American science fiction.

The episode art each week is generously provided by the talented Sue Kisenwether. You can find her (among other places) on Women at Warp: A Star Trek Podcast.


Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

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

Timestamp: Series Seven, Specials, and Eleventh Doctor Summary

Doctor Who: Series Seven, Specials, and Eleventh Doctor Summary

Timestamp Logo Eleventh 2

The Eleventh’s senior showing was a good wrap to the run.

For the purposes of the Timestamps Project, Series 7 and the specials that wrapped up Matt Smith’s era are treated as a single group, and among them were very few disappointments. In fact, of the normal episodes, only Hide and Nightmare in Silver scored average or lower – Nightmare in Silver was the big loser there – and they were accompanied by the collective mini-episodes that were in-universe bonus material.

I’m not a big fan of the mini-episodes or the prequel shorts. They’re fun, but they don’t really add much to the narrative. The prequels really could be added to the episodes that they supplement, or they could be left out overall since the information that they convey is already part of the story.

This set did explore some fascinating territory, from the emotional departure of the Ponds to the introduction of the “impossible girl”. The downside to the Pond story was the disjointed timeline, a problem that carried over into Clara’s tenure as a companion with odd jumps and missing adventures in time between episodes. That latter offers plenty of room for novels, games, and audio adventures, but doesn’t play well for audiences who only pay attention to the television side of Doctor Who.

The big highlight, of course, was the 50th-anniversary celebration. The major milestone provided a big reason to pull out all the stops with a multi-Doctor story that added new context to the adventures that we’d seen since 2005.

The series comes in at an average of 4.1. Over the Eleventh Doctor’s run, that marks a steady decline year-to-year, down from 4.3 in Series Five and 4.2 in Series Six. Also notable is the increase in story quantity year-to-year which might point to the reason for the sliding scores. That said, the era still remains over 4.0 overall.

Series Seven comes in at tenth all-time for the Timestamps Project, tied with Series Two, the Eighteenth Series, and the Fifth Series. It comes in behind the Eleventh Series, Series Six, Series One, Series Three, Series Five, the Tenth Doctor’s specials, the Eighth Doctor’s run, Series Four, and the Ninth Series.

The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe – 5
Good as Gold & Pond Life – 3
Asylum of the Daleks – 5
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship – 5
A Town Called Mercy – 4
The Power of Three – 4
The Angels Take Manhattan – 4
The Snowmen – 4
The Bells of Saint John – 5
The Rings of Akhaten – 4
Cold War – 4
Hide – 3
Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS – 4
The Crimson Horror – 5
Nightmare in Silver – 2
The Name of the Doctor – 5
Clara and the TARDIS & Rain Gods The Inforarium – 3
The Day of the Doctor – 5
The Time of the Doctor – 4

Series Seven and Specials (Revival Era) Average Rating: 4.1/5

Timestamps Eleventh Doctor

Following tradition…

The First Doctor was a wise grandfather, the Second a sly jester, the Third a secret agent scientist, the Fourth an inquisitive idealist, the Fifth an honorable humanitarian, the Sixth a squandered cynic, the Seventh a curious schemer, the Eighth a classical romantic, the Ninth a hopeful healing veteran, the Tenth a bargaining humanitarian…

…and the Eleventh Doctor is an irascible runner.

The Eleventh Doctor readily displayed his desire to forget his place in the Last Great Time War. He just wanted to move on from the horrors he perpetrated as the War Doctor, and when things did not go according to plan, his fury was right at the surface and ready to burn.

Death and defeat reminded him of his failure at Gallifrey, something that he finally came to terms with when he met his predecessors on that same battlefield. Following the Kübler-Ross model of grief that each of the revival era Doctors has followed in its very real non-linear manner, this Doctor finally found acceptance thanks to his weary warrior forebearer.

To that end, he truly found happiness at the end of the race he ran.

Series 5 – 4.3
Series 6 – 4.2
Series 7 – 4.1

Eleventh Doctor’s Weighted Average Rating: 4.17

Ranking (by score)
1 – Eighth (4.50)
2 – Tenth (4.34)
3 – Ninth (4.30)
4 – Eleventh (4.17)
5 – Third (4.00)
6 – Second (3.67)
7 – Fourth (3.67)
8 – Seventh (3.54)
9 – First (3.41)
10 – Fifth (3.20)
11 – Sixth (2.73)
N/A – War (No score)

Ranking (by character)
1 – Tenth Doctor
2 – Second Doctor
3 – Ninth Doctor
4 – Eighth Doctor
5 – Third Doctor
6 – Fourth Doctor
7 – War Doctor
8 – Eleventh Doctor
9 – Seventh Doctor
10 – First Doctor
11 – Fifth Doctor
12 – Sixth Doctor

As I’ve mentioned before, the top nine spaces on the character ranking are really, really, really close. I’m always tempted to simply rank them all as a first-place tie, but I find the real challenge to be actually thinking it through and ranking them.

Next up, we change Doctors but keep the same showrunner in charge.

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Deep Breath


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.

Timestamp #251: The Time of the Doctor

Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor
(1 episode, Christmas Special, 2013)

Timestamp 251 Time of the Doctor

Death and birth in Christmas.

A fleet of ships respond to a tri-tone signal echoing in the cosmos from a seemingly unimportant planet. The Doctor is among the respondents and transports aboard a Dalek ship. When they start shooting, he transports back and scolds a disembodied Cyberman head named Handles.

His rant is interrupted by a ringing telephone. Unfortunately, it is routed to the handset on the outside of the TARDIS, but fortunately, the caller is Clara. She invented an imaginary boyfriend and needs the Doctor to pose as him at Christmas dinner. He materializes the TARDIS on a newly arrived ship, this time a Cyberman ship, and then scampers off as Clara calls again.

Clara’s trying her best to host Christmas dinner, but she’s having difficulty with the turkey and her family. When the TARDIS arrives, she runs down to meet the Doctor but finds him naked. It seems that he’s going to church. He puts on some holographic clothes and runs up to meet the family, but failed to extend the holographic projection to the family. Clara explains her issues with the turkey and the Doctor takes her to the TARDIS to cook it in the temporal engine.

Meanwhile, Handles has calculated the planet’s identity: Gallifrey. The Doctor refuses to believe the analysis even though he has recently saved his homeworld. His thoughts are interrupted by the arrival of Mother Superious Tasha Lem and the Papal Mainframe. Clara dons holographic clothing – nudity is the order of the day at church – and the pair board the new ship.

Tasha is pleased with the Doctor’s new body and offers a private consultation while Clara waits outside the chapel. While Tasha and the Doctor confer, Clara encounters the Silence, repeatedly forgetting the confessors once she looks away from them. She interrupts Tasha and the Doctor in a panic, forgetting why she did, and then joins the Doctor as he teleports to the planet surface. Tasha demands the TARDIS key so he can’t summon the time capsule and requests that he return in one hour.

Once the travelers arrive on the surface, they find a group of Weeping Angels buried in the snow. The Doctor summons the TARDIS by removing a surprise wig and revealing a key hidden beneath. The TARDIS materializes in a nearby village where the freshly re-dressed travelers meet the residents and a field that forces people to tell the truth.

The town, by the way, is called Christmas.

As the Doctor and Clara explore, they find a glowing crack in the wall, something he hasn’t seen for some time. The Doctor detects evidence that someone is trying to break through this weak point, and Handles suggests that it is Gallifreyan in nature. The truth field and the signal are coming from the Time Lords, and the signal is a question being transmitted through time and space.

It is the oldest question. You know, that inside joke about the show’s title. If he answers the question with his name, the Time Lords will know that it will be safe to return. Unfortunately, that means that everyone in orbit will open fire to destroy their enemy. The Time War will begin again.

The Doctor sends Clara to the TARDIS as Tasha reveals the true name of the planet. Turns out that Christmas is on Trenzalore. As the Doctor negotiates the problem with Tasha, the TARDIS returns Clara home. The Doctor places the planet under his protection, forcing Tasha to begin the Siege of Trenzalore and order the Doctor’s silence to fall.

The Doctor defends against Sontarans, Weeping Angels, and even wooden Cybermen as the years march onward and begin to show on the Time Lord’s body. The town celebrates every victory and comes to love the man who stayed for Christmas.

Eventually, the TARDIS returns to Trenzalore. It has been gone for 300 years, but it has returned Clara as she clung to the outer shell through the temporal vortex. They yell at each other and then embrace. Clara learns about the Doctor’s exploits and joins him for sunrise. Sadly, it is the last sunrise for Handles as the Cyberman head has developed a fault over time and succumbs to inevitability. The Doctor and Clara discuss the nature of his work on Trenzalore. Everyone gets stuck somewhere eventually. Everything ends.

The Doctor also reveals that he’s out of regenerations. Eleven Doctors, the War Doctor, and the Tenth Doctor’s vanity regeneration mean that this regeneration is the end of the line, but every life saved is a victory for him. His musings are interrupted by a request for a parley from Tasha. The Doctor and Clara take the TARDIS to Papal Mainframe. As Tasha and the Doctor negotiate, she reveals that everyone aboard has been replaced by Dalek puppets in order to snare their greatest enemy. The Daleks also know who the Doctor is thanks to information downloaded from the mainframe.

The Daleks try to use Clara as a bargaining chip, but he’s able to restore Tasha’s memories so she can fight back. The Doctor and Clara take the transmat back to the TARDIS. The turkey is finally done and Clara forces the Doctor to promise that he’ll never send her away again. Of course, the Doctor lies – rule number one, right? – and he tricks Clara into returning home while he stays on Trenzalore.

The years continue on as the fleets above continue the siege and the Doctor continues the fight. On Earth, Clara’s family consoles her as they celebrate Christmas. She hears the TARDIS returning and rushes to meet it. Inside, she finds Tasha, who then returns her to Trenzalore so the Doctor doesn’t die alone.

Clara returns to the room with the crack, marveling at the Doctor’s exploits and advanced age. They share a Christmas cracker and find a poignant message inside. The moment is broken by the arrival of the Daleks, and the Doctor ascends the belltower to make his last stand. This is how it ends.

Clara promises to remain behind as the Doctor bids her farewell. She turns to the crack and begs the Time Lords for assistance, offering the Doctor’s reputation as proof of who they seek. They respond by sealing the crack.

The Doctor faces the Dalek ship from the belltower. He admits that he has nothing left to offer, but the Dalek assault is disrupted by the crack opening in the sky. A burst of regeneration energy floats down to the Doctor and he begins to glow in a familiar golden light.

A bit of advice: Never ever tell the Doctor the rules. Regeneration number thirteen begins as the Time Lord uses the power rushing through his body to tear through the Dalek forces and Clara shepherds the villagers to safety.

After the battle, Clara returns to the TARDIS as she searches for the Doctor. She hangs up the phone and enters the time capsule to find the Doctor’s clothes on the floor and a bowl of fish custard on the console. He appears to her with his restored face, claiming that this is the reset. He sets the TARDIS in motion as he prepares to regenerate.

He talks to Clara as he begins to glow, seeing visions of Amelia Pond running around the TARDIS. He promises never to forget when the Doctor was him, then says farewell to a vision of Amy Pond.

He drops his bow tie, which he donned on his first day, then regenerates in a snap. As the new Doctor – an older Scottish man with familiar attack eyebrows – muses about the color of his kidneys, the TARDIS begins to spin out of control. Unfortunately, he doesn’t remember how to fly it.

This story bounces all over the map, and that is truly unfortunate. It was an attempt to tie everything off for Matt Smith’s era, including the Silence, the cracks in time, Trenzalore, and the fate of Gallifrey, but it was just too much and the sheer volume of concurrent story elements made for a muddled send-off for the Eleventh Doctor.

The mystery of the time crack was pretty well wrapped up back in Series 5, and the Silence arc came to a suitable end in Series 6. Bringing both of these elements back for this story seemed more of vain conceits than meaningful plot threads, particularly trying to redeem the Silence as religious confessors when they previously served as murderous foot soldiers.

The fate of Gallifrey was handled quite well in The Day of the Doctor, and while their minor influence here was welcome, I feel like the ending wasn’t quite earned. It’s Clara who begs the Time Lords for help, and historically the Time Lords have looked down on the Doctor’s interference in universal affairs. They even forced him to regenerate as punishment at one point, remember?

Sure, he saved them from utter annihilation, but is that enough to look the other way? I don’t know. The stakes seem awfully high since they’re perfectly safe in the pocket dimension… unless the goal is to ensure that the Doctor is indebted to them and obligated to free them.

The final element – the Doctor’s regeneration limit – takes a few turns here. This story firmly establishes that the limit is purely arbitrary, dictated at a whim by a higher power. Similar to the Master’s offer in The Five Doctors and the brand new set of regenerations gifted to him before The Sound of Drums, the Doctor’s potential is unleashed by the Time Lords with a snap.

The regeneration limit itself was mentioned three times before this point – The Deadly AssassinMawdryn Undead, and the TV movie – and given how regenerations are treated by other Time Lords like Runcible (The Deadly Assassin), the Council (The War Games, wherein the Time Lords didn’t even bat an eye at what was effectively capital punishment), and Romana (Destiny of the Daleks), I have long considered the limit to be very flexible if not completely artificial. The Doctor and the Master may believe it (at this point in the series progression), but others have shown us that the limits of regeneration are capricious at best. They are a way for the Council to keep the lesser Time Lords in line.

By extension, this also adds more credence to the Morbius faces being those of the Doctor before the First Doctor, but we’ll get there soon enough. (Breaking the Timestamps Project timeline, this story is exactly why I didn’t have an issue with the Timeless Child revelation during the Thirteenth Doctor’s run.)

It seems that this regeneration was the first in a whole new set of twelve, provided that the Eleventh Doctor didn’t burn all of them off with that over-the-top light show. It also offers a reset, so in that way, it was suitable for Steven Moffat to tie everything off in a sloppy bow. I have already talked about how this whole regeneration limit discussion could have been pushed into the next era by replacing the War Doctor with the Eighth Doctor, but again, Moffat and vanity conceits.

Taking a look at other elements of series mythology, we saw a nice list of “guest” aliens in orbit of Trenzalore, including the Judoon, the Silurians, the Terileptils, and the Raxacoricofallapatorians. In the Doctor’s hall of fame, there is also evidence that the Sycorax, the Monoids, the Racnoss, the Pyrovile, the Ood, and the Adipose also came to play.

It’s one hell of a finale for this era of Doctor Who. I only wish it was better. The ending was emotional, but the rest of the story was uneven. It definitely needs to take advantage of the Timestamps Project’s +1 handicap for regeneration episodes.

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Series Seven, Specials, and Eleventh 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.

STEAM Saturday – The Hole at the Center of the Galaxy


STEAM Saturday
The Hole at the Center of the Galaxy
June 4, 2022

In this edition, the big item is the black hole at the center of our galaxy.


NBC News – Black hole at center of Milky Way pictured for first time (May 12, 2022)
First-ever image released of the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole, providing the first direct visual evidence of “the gentle giant” that lies at the center of our galaxy.

More on this in the videos below from Veritasium and Curiosity Stream.


Veritasium – A combination of the Latin for truth, veritas, and the suffix common to many elements, -ium, this show is literally an element of truth. It is hosted by Australian-Canadian science communicator, filmmaker, and inventor Derek Muller (Ph.D., Physics Education Research).

Curiosity Stream – John S. Hendricks, Founder of Discovery Communications, has spent his life seeking the answers to our most enduring questions and creating ways for television viewers across the globe to satisfy their curiosity. In 2015, Hendricks harnessed this passion to create Curiosity Stream, a streaming service meant to inspire ardent learners with the most curious minds of our time: visionaries in every major field of human endeavor, tackling the greatest challenges of our era.

The Science & Entertainment Exchange – The Science & Entertainment Exchange is a program of the National Academy of Sciences that provides entertainment industry professionals with access to top scientists and engineers to help bring the reality of cutting-edge science to creative and engaging storylines.

Steve Mould – Steve Mould is a Master of Physics from the University of Oxford. He’s a British author and science communicator who hosts educational videos on his YouTube channel. He co-hosted ITV’s I Never Knew That About Britain alongside Paul Martin and Suzannah Lipscomb and previously appeared as a science expert on The Alan Titchmarsh Show, The One Show, and Blue Peter.



Jerry Rig Everything – Zack Nelson has used his love of repairing, simple explanations, and brief tutorials to help millions of people with repairs of their own. Outside of YouTube, his ‘to-the-point’ style of teaching has created instructional and informational videos for manufacturers and factories around the world.


Practical Engineering – Grady Hillhouse is a civil engineer in San Antonio, Texas. His channel aims to increase exposure and interest in the field of engineering by highlighting the connection between the world around us and the energy, passion, and thought that goes into making it a nicer place to live.



Nick Zammeti – A woodturner and artist based in the United Kingdom, Nick Zammeti thrives in funky and creative projects fueled by a healthy love of pop culture, especially Back to the Future.

The Smugglers Room – Building something out of nothing with a Star Wars flair is the order of the day in the Smugglers Room.



8-bit Music Theory – This YouTuber loves music, video games, and analyzing and talking about music from video games. He promises that if you are a big nerd, you’ll love it too!



Frank Howarth – A Portland, Oregon-based architect and woodworker, Frank Howarth uses stop-motion animation to demonstrate his design and building process for a variety of projects and art pieces.


If you have any suggestions for STEAM Saturday, please leave them below in the comments. If your suggestion is used, your name will be credited.

Disclaimers: Any sponsored content or advertising presented in videos and/or links highlighted in STEAM Saturday are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Creative Criticality. Pursue such content and offers at your own risk. The links and videos attached to this post were publicly available at the time of publication, but there is no guarantee of availability after publication.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope that something inspired you to get out there and explore the universe.


STEAM Saturday is a celebration of curiosity and imagination through science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics, the very building blocks of the universe around us.

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

Culture on My Mind – Execute Chapter 66

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Execute Chapter 66
June 2, 2022

This week, the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track talks about Star Wars on the franchise’s 45th anniversary.

On May 25th, Joe Crowe and Gary Mitchel were joined by the crew of Execute Chapter 66, a podcast that celebrates the literary side of the Star Wars universe. These podcasters included Beth Van Dusen (on Twitter), Chad Shonk (A Feat of Lunatic Daring), and Ryan Schweck (whose primary internet presence is the podcast). They were also joined by filmmaker John Hudgens (IMDb).

These Classic Track Quarantine Panels will be held once every two weeks (or every fortnight, if you will). If you want to play along at home, grab your internet-capable device of choice and navigate the webs to the YouTube channel and/or the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

If you want to connect with the track, Joe, and/or Gary on the socials, you can find them on Twitter (ClassicTrack, JoeCroweShow, and sneezythesquid) and Instagram (SciFiClassicTrack, JoeCroweShow, and Gary_Mitchel). And, of course, to celebrate more pop culture awesomeness, you can find Dragon Con all year round on the internet, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

The next panel will be on June 2nd. The future of these panels includes some vampires and a discussion of Saturday cartoons. You can find all of this and more every other Thursday as the American Sci-Fi Classics Track explores the vast reaches of classic American science fiction.

The episode art each week is generously provided by the talented Sue Kisenwether. You can find her (among other places) on Women at Warp: A Star Trek Podcast.


Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

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