Timestamp #282: Twice Upon a Time

Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time
(1 episode, Christmas Special, 2017)

Timestamp 282 Twice Upon a Time

The (other) two Doctors.

709 episodes ago, the First Doctor faced the Cybermen. After the threat was over, the Doctor walked through the snow storms of the South Pole to his TARDIS. There he found someone claiming to be the Doctor.

He found the Twelfth Doctor.

The First Doctor is obviously confused by the new Time Lord and the confusing proportions of the TARDIS. The Twelfth Doctor realizes that the First Doctor is refusing to regenerate, and as he outlines the problems with that idea, time stops around them. They are soon greeted by a British soldier from World War I.

This soldier comes from Ypres 1914 where he was engaged in a standoff with a German soldier. Both hold the other at gunpoint inside a bomb crater and the British captain is startled when time freezes. He takes in the bizarre battlefield before encountering a glass avatar that deposits him half a world away with the two Doctors. When he greets them, the glass avatar appears and the Doctors approach it. When the Twelfth Doctor declares that the planet is protected, the avatar disappears and the First Doctor invites everyone inside the TARDIS for protection.

The First Doctor is astounded because he thought that this TARDIS was his TARDIS. Meanwhile, the Twelfth Doctor mentions that the British captain is from the First World War, which shocks him since he only knows of the War to End All Wars (which it obviously did not). As the captain tries to understand the wonders around him, the two Doctors come to terms with their mutual situation. The Doctors offer the captain some brandy to calm his nerves and the Twelfth is astounded by the First’s lack of decorum toward gender roles.

The discussions all halt when the TARDIS is pulled into an overhead spacecraft that holds the Chamber of the Dead. The First Doctor exits the TARDIS to face the chamber as the captain and the Twelfth Doctor watch from the console. The First Doctor doesn’t understand being called the “Doctor of War.” Meanwhile, when Bill Potts arrives from a portal, the Twelfth Doctor rushes to meet her before realizing that this being is not the Bill that he knew. In fact, she is a duplicate and his Bill is dead.

The Doctors wonder who has been stealing the faces of the dead and investigate the chamber. They find the glass avatar who explains that they chronicle the lives of beings in the moments before their deaths, becoming a living testimony. They explain that they tried to capture the captain’s testimony but a timeline error caused him to become misplaced. The captain offers to take Bill’s place, but the Twelfth Doctor proposes taking both Bill and the captain. The First Doctor demands to know who the Twelfth thinks he is, and the First is astounded to find out just how his future will play out as the avatar reveals his legacy. It is recorded as one of battles and bloodshed.

Technically, what the Testimony shows him is accurate. It’s just missing context.

The Twelfth Doctor opens the airlock and everyone jumps, holding onto the chains restraining the TARDIS as it drops to the surface. The Testimony retrieves the Twelfth Doctor’s TARDIS and the four travelers escape Earth in the First Doctor’s ship instead. As they run, Bill figures out how the two Time Lords are related.

The Doctors realize that the glass avatar’s face is asymmetrical, and they decide that they need to find a database to figure out who she represents. The Twelfth Doctor considers the Matrix on Gallifrey, but instead decides to visit Villengard at the center of the universe. There is a database there, but it wants to kill him. Unfortunately, the area is swarming with Kaled mutants.

The Twelfth Doctor insists that Bill wait in the TARDIS with the captain and the First Doctor, but Bill stands defiant as her Doctor considers her nothing more than a doppelgänger. The tension is broken when the First Doctor chastises her for bad language. With a laugh and the hope that she and the Twelfth Doctor can joke about this for years, she joins the captain while the First Doctor explores the surface with his future self.

They discuss their mutual decision not to regenerate. The First Doctor admits his fear of the future, but when he asks about the Twelfth’s rationale, the answer is pre-empted by weapons fire. The Twelfth Doctor stands in the open and demands that their assailant scan him. When the truth of the Doctor’s pending doom is revealed, the sniper allows the Time Lords to enter the tower.

In the meantime, Bill and the captain talk about his fate. The captain recognizes that he must die, but he’s no longer ready to do so. He’s shocked when Bill reveals herself as a glass avatar.

The First Doctor remains at the tower entrance for his safety as the Twelfth Doctor climbs to meet his assailant. The shooter is revealed to be the Dalek named Rusty. They come to a truce as Rusty tears off his own gunstick, and the Twelfth Doctor finds out that the glass avatars and their ship, the Testimony, were created on New Earth. This comes from the Dalek programmed to hate Daleks and his connection to the Dalek hive mind. Rusty agrees to provide the information since helping the Doctor harms the Daleks.

Bill’s glass avatar meets up with the First Doctor as he finds Dalek parts nearby. She talks to the Doctor, probing his past and his motivations, asking what he’s running toward. She declares that the Doctor is amazing and thanks him for his efforts. When he realizes that she’s a glass avatar, he comes to understand her motives as an agent of Testimony.

Bill and the First Doctor ascend the tower and time stops again. The Doctors realize that there is no evil to fight, and while Bill is an avatar, she reminds the Doctor that reality is merely a function of memories. The Twelfth Doctor tells her that he’s tired of losing people, hence the reason why he doesn’t want to regenerate. He decides to return the captain to his proper time as he considers how their decisions not to regenerate caused the timeline error that displaced the officer.

En route, he has a revelation and changes course, dropping the captain at the start of the famous Christmas Truce, ensuring that his life will be spared. The captain will not be able to remember his adventure and won’t be able to see the Doctors or Bill once his timeline restarts. He asks them to check on his family from time to time, introducing himself as Archibald Hamish Lethbridge-Stewart, an ancestor of the Brigadier. The Doctor is overjoyed at the prospect.

When time starts again, Captain Lethbridge-Stewart and the German soldier nearly pull their triggers, but they stop as both sides begin to sing Christmas carols. The truce was a miracle, a one-of-a-kind, but one that allowed everyone to stop fighting and be kind for a short time.

The First Doctor is happy to see how the “Doctor of War” solved the problem, to which the Twelfth responds that their place is to help when the universe isn’t a fairy tale. The Doctors decide that they are both ready to go on living and they part ways.

The First Doctor returns to the South Pole as the Twelfth bids farewell to Captain Lethbridge-Stewart. Ben and Polly find their Doctor on the TARDIS floor as he regenerates into the Second Doctor. Meanwhile, the Twelfth Doctor asks Bill if she’d like to take one last trip in the TARDIS. She tells him that the hardest thing about knowing him is letting him go then gives him a goodbye present as she kisses his cheek and turns into Clara.

The Doctor is overjoyed to remember her, as is the memory of his former companion. He also gets to say goodbye to Nardole, who encourages him not to die since it would mean that the universe would go cold. The Doctor refuses to offer his testimony to the avatars, stating that he must be left alone to face his fate. He thanks them for what they have offered and they agree with a hug.

The Doctor boards the TARDIS again, ready to leave the battlefield. As he engages the TARDIS, he gazes upon the universe and concedes that one more lifetime won’t kill anyone. Well, except him. He relays some advice to his future self in a powerful speech before falling to the floor. He picks himself up and utters his final words: “Doctor… I let you go.”

The regeneration process is so violent that it rips into every corner of the console room. As smoke fills the room, his ring falls from his hand and his face transforms into a younger version. As the smoke clears, the Doctor’s new face is visible in a reflection.

The Thirteenth Doctor is a woman. Oh, brilliant.

She smiles broadly for just a moment until the TARDIS suffers a catastrophic systems failure. The ship tilts to one side as the console room explodes around her. The doors fly open, and even though she holds on as tight as she can, she eventually falls out of the TARDIS as it hovers thousands of feet above Earth.

The Doctor can only watch in horror as the TARDIS is engulfed in flames and dematerializes, leaving her to plummet toward the planet below.

Starting with the good stuff, I adore this multi-Doctor special because the threat isn’t really a threat at all. Fans have been conditioned since 2005 to expect a monster of some sort each week, and this fake-out driven by that assumption is a nice change of pace. I also like how the story was carved out of a space in The Tenth Planet‘s finale, drawing a parallel between the two Doctors as they ponder their futures. The classical romanticism and vulnerability are touching.

The setup also ties off a narrative thread started in The Pilot, which showed us a Doctor fresh off losing two people close to him. The thread has run across this series and comes to a beautiful conclusion here as the Doctor faces the loss of three people in The Doctor Falls. In a sense, both Doctors share a fear of the future.

It doesn’t hurt that I have a soft spot for the Christmas Truce. The truce was not unique in general – World War I had quite a few “live and let live” moments like this where soldiers would stop hostilities and fraternize – but this was one of the largest and most memorable.

The biggest failing of this adventure was the writing for the First Doctor. This story treats the character as a sexist dinosaur, but it seems like Steven Moffat’s target was the 1960s in general and he used the First Doctor as an avatar for his grievances. Certainly, the era didn’t treat women fairly, but Doctor Who stood apart with more well-rounded characters in comparison to some of the portrayals and dialogue found in later decades. Yes, the First Doctor was the character who let a caveman die until Ian stepped in, threatened a “jolly good smacked bottom” for Susan after her clumsiness inconvenienced him, was generally irascible and cranky, and even said a few things in The Five Doctors that made his successors squeamish, but this representation betrays the progressive heart that this show has had since birth.

Don’t get me wrong: David Bradley’s performance is amazing. It’s Steven Moffat and his meta-commentary that failed here because his research into the character seems to have stopped at the First Doctor’s first adventure, which is a far cry from the character’s nature in his final adventure.

That huge downside is unfortunate because there’s so much to love here, from the regeneration being a good narrative cover for the change in actors, the First Doctor’s treatment of sonic technology, the transitions from 1966 archive footage to modern imagery and back, and the fantastic rebuild of the First Doctor’s TARDIS. I also didn’t notice that Bill’s wardrobe constantly changes throughout the episode, perhaps as a tip of the hand to her true nature.

Not bad at all for an episode that was supposed to be Jodie Whittaker’s first adventure. That would have been a sight to see.

Finally, the regeneration is probably one of my favorites of the modern era. I was visiting family on the other side of the country when this episode first aired and I stayed up late at my brother-in-law’s house after everyone else had gone to bed. Peter Capaldi’s final speech was perfect and brought me to tears then, as it still does today.

Even with the imperfect writing, this story still does it for me.

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”

UP NEXT – Series Ten 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.


Culture on My Mind – The Impact of Theatre Education

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
The Impact of Theatre Education
May 26, 2023

This week, I’m back to the performing arts with the Theater and Musical Lovers YouTube Channel.

The channel and its associated Facebook group were established as an unofficial gathering of Dragon Con attendees who love theater, musicals, and the performing arts. Their goal is to create a community of fellow thespians and fans at the convention. This time, they took on education.

“Learning is about much more than science and math. Doing theater, music, and art in school really helps children’s minds grow because they’re using different parts of their brains. Parents who care should insist on that.”

– Julie Taymour

Theater is often thought of as a hobby and relegated to the sides of education that are considered less important than math, science, and other technical fields. On May 16th, Gary Mitchel and Sarah Rose were joined by educators who disagree with that assessment and they discussed why theatre education is important in today’s world, the lasting impacts it makes, and why we all should encourage more arts education in schools and communities.

This panel’s guests included Jennifer Simmons, Primetime Steve, Alicia, and Charles Pillsbury III. 

Note: Depending on security settings, you may have to click below to see the video directly on YouTube. You should definitely subscribe to their channel for more updates.

The Theater and Musical Lovers Group will be hosting more of these panels. If you’re interested in participating or have some topic ideas in mind, head over to the group on Facebook and drop them a line. You can also find them on Instagram and coming soon on TikTok.

You can find Gary and Sarah on the socials: On Twitter, they are Gary_Mitchel, SarahRose_KPK, and Daisuki_Suu; on Instagram, they are Gary_Mitchel and Daisuki_Suu; and Gary’s horror-themed podcast that he hosts with Erin McGourn is A Podcask of Amontillado. Of course, the Theater & Musical Lovers channel can be found on YouTube.


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 #281: World Enough and Time & The Doctor Falls

Doctor Who: World Enough and Time
Doctor Who: The Doctor Falls
(2 episodes, s10e11-12, 2017)

Timestamp 281 World Enough and Time Doctor Falls

Powerful, surprising, and heartbreaking: A Doctor Who triple threat.

World Enough and Time

Upon a snowy landscape, the Doctor stumbles from the TARDIS and repeats the word “no” as he begins to regenerate. He falls to his knees as the energy overtakes him…

…and we flash back to a long cylindrical spaceship hovering at the edge of a black hole’s event horizon. The TARDIS materializes in the control room at the closest point to the phenomenon and Missy emerges. She describes herself as “Doctor Who” and introduces her companions. As alarms sound, we find out that this is a test of Missy’s resolve to be good. The Doctor watches from the TARDIS as Missy, Bill, and Nardole work through the puzzle and make contact with a blue-skinned humanoid named Jorj.

Jorj arrives at the control room with a gun and demands to know which of them is human. As three lifts race toward the control room, the Doctor emerges from the TARDIS and Bill admits to being human. Jorj declares that she is why the lifts are coming and shoots Bill, mortally wounding her. Figures with bandaged faces emerge from the lifts and take Bill, claiming they will fix her but will not return. The Doctor decides to trust them and leaves a psychic message for Bill to wait for him when she wakes.

Before the trip, Bill had disagreed with the Doctor about the rehabilitation test. The Doctor wanted Missy to be good, but Bill didn’t know if it was possible. They later had a discussion about the Doctor, the Master, and Time Lords and their flexible approaches to gender. Bill confided that Missy scared her, and the Doctor told Bill that he would do his best to not let her die.

This pressure now weighs on the Doctor. He let his companion die on his watch.

The Doctor tries to scan the lift with his sonic screwdriver, and when Jorj threatens him, he warns Jorj not to make him angry. The Doctor is borderline furious. Nardole finds thousands of life signs in the lower levels of the ship, leading the Doctor to understand that the different levels of the ship are moving at different times due to relativity.

On one of those lower levels, Bill wakes up in a medical facility with a cybernetic heart in her chest. She gets the message from the Doctor and meets a caretaker named Mr. Razor. She also hears a cybernetic voice calling out in pain. She finds the patient as screens show the time differential between Floor 0000 and Floor 1056. She can’t stop the voice from chanting “pain” over and over, and a nurse merely mutes the voice instead of tending to the pain. Bill finds that the others are also chanting about their pain but their voices are also muted.

Mr. Razor finds Bill and takes her to his room for tea. He explains that they are curing the people in the surgical  (conversion theater) suites and that she was saved from death with her new “shiny” cybernetic heart. She’s been on this level for months and passes the time watching the live feed of Level 0000. The Doctor literally takes a week to raise his eyebrow. Bill eventually recovers enough to work as a cleaner as she continues to wait. Meanwhile, the Doctor uses Venusian aikido to knock out Jorj and make his way to Bill.

Bill also cannot leave the hospital. Her heart will supposedly cease to function and the patients will raise the alarm. Mr. Razor explains that the people are being converted to survive Operation Exodus, a necessity since the human lifespan cannot survive the trip back to the top of the ship. Mr. Razor takes Bill outside one day, and sure enough, after a brief walk, her heart begins to fail.

The years pass and Bill continues to wait. She watches as the Doctor, Missy, and Nardole board a lift. They cannot take the TARDIS because the black hole with mess with navigation. Mr. Razor tricks Bill into one of the conversion theaters and condemns her to a full conversion. After all, people usually scream when they find out the real reason for surgery. They fit her for a headpiece that will inhibit emotion.

When the Doctor, Missy, and Nardole arrive on the bottom floor, Missy is left to explore the ship’s computer history. She soon meets Mr. Razor who is enamored with her and seems to know who she is. On separate paths, the travelers learn the truth: The ship’s origin was Mondas, the twin planet of Earth, and the conversions are the genesis of the Cybermen.

More shocking, Mr. Razor reveals that he is Missy’s predecessor, the Saxon Master. With that revelation in mind, Missy reverts to her cruel nature.

Even more shocking, this trip has turned upside down. The Cyberman standing before the Doctor is Bill Potts, and the former companion cries beneath the mask as she tells the Doctor that she waited for him.

The Doctor Falls

On Floor 0507, farmers and families face off against the scarecrows – the prototype Cybermen from Floor 1056 – shooting them at night and restraining them on wooden crosses by the light of day. One of those days, the relative peace is broken when a shuttle crashes through the ground near a girl named Alit. From the wreckage emerges a Cyberman carrying the unconscious form of the Doctor.

We flash back to the Doctor restrained to a wheelchair on the roof of the hospital on 1056. He was subdued by Missy and the Master, dancing and flirting as they discuss the Doctor’s deaths and how many regenerations he has left to spend. Notably, Missy cannot remember what happened that forced her regeneration. The Doctor ponders what happened in the Master’s life since he vanished while blasting Rassilon with his life energy.

Upon returning to Gallifrey, the Time Lords showed their gratitude for the Master’s help in preventing Rassilon from executing the Ultimate Sanction by restoring his body and kicking him off the planet. The Master stole a TARDIS and landed on the Mondasian colony ship where he lived like a king and killed at his leisure. When the colonist overthrew him and he attempted to run, he found that his TARDIS was burned out from being too close to the event horizon.

While they gloat, the Masters are shocked to find that the Cybermen are advancing on them. When the Masters attacked the Doctor, he was able to change the coding for humanity to read two hearts instead of one. With the Cybermen marching to convert the Time Lords, Missy knocks the Master unconscious and rescues the Doctor. She frees the Doctor and he calls for Nardole, who has successfully stolen a shuttle.

As the Masters and the Doctor try to board the shuttle, a Cyberman attacks the Doctor with an electrical shock. Bill kills the Cyberman but the Masters take over the shuttle as the Doctor falls. Bill stops the craft from taking off and ensures that the Doctor boards the shuttle.

That same shuttle has since crashed into 0507, leaving the entire group stranded. Two weeks pass as the Doctor recovers and Nardole prepares the families for war. Bill has been resigned to the barn since she frightens the children, and while she believes that she is still human, everyone else sees her as a Cyberman. Alit comes to her side with a mirror and Bill is shocked to see her true self. When the Doctor arrives, he rewards Alit for being kind to Bill. They have a brief discussion about Cybermen and what she’s become, Bill’s anger and grief boil over as she accidentally destroys the barn’s door.

The Doctor is amazed by Bill’s resiliency against the Cyberman programming. When Bill sheds a tear because everyone is afraid of her, he wipes it away and notes that she shouldn’t be able to cry. They meet with the Master, who mocks Bill and tells the Doctor about a plan that he and Missy have been working on. As they all walk across the farmland, the Doctor limps and stifles regeneration energy in his hand, revealing that his electrocution was fatal. When Bill worries about him and her future, he tells her that “where there’s tears, there’s hope.”

They reach the forest where the Master and Missy theorize that they’re out of temporal sync so they can’t retain their memories of these events. Missy reveals that the forest around them is a holographic wall disguising the lifts. Missy calls for one, not remembering that it is coming from the bottom floor and not empty. The lift reveals an evolved Cyberman, and despite killing it, the trio of Time Lords knows that the Cybermen now know where they are.

They cannot run because time is running faster on the lower levels. The Cyberman invasion would easily catch up to them. They have no choice but to fight as the Cybermen begin punching through the various floors. Nardole uses the fuel piping on Floor 0508 as weaponry and the Doctor finds a service duct that can be used to evacuate the children. Meanwhile, the Masters discuss running for their TARDIS on the bottom floor. After all, Missy once (now) threatened her former self into carrying a spare dematerialization circuit.

As night falls, the first wave of Cybermen appears. Nardole tricks them into believing that a single apple can destroy them all. When the Masters decide to leave, the Doctor delivers an emotional and passionate speech on why he helps people. It’s not easy and doesn’t always work, but it’s the right and kind thing to do. The Master ridicules the Doctor and continues on, but Missy is somewhat moved. She agrees that being the Doctor’s friend was what she always wanted, but she goes with her predecessor anyway. Within minutes, the two Masters arrive at the lift where the younger tricks the elder by fatally stabbing him and leaving just enough time to reach his TARDIS before regenerating. Unfortunately, the Master fires his laser screwdriver at Missy and mortally wounds her.

By all appearances, Missy dies. Her last intention was to return to the Doctor’s side.

The next wave of Cybermen arrives and Nardole’s tricks force them to retreat and develop a new plan. The Doctor downloads the plans for the floor into his sonic screwdriver and sends Nardole to escort the children to the service ducts. The Doctor convinces Nardole to leave despite the latter’s protests. After all, the Doctor is treating this like a suicide mission and Nardole owes him too much. The Doctor convinces Nardole that this will be penance for his crimes from before the Doctor rescued him. Bill stands beside the Doctor and Nardole admits that he’ll never be able to find the words for their sacrifice.

Now alone on Floor 0507, the Doctor and Bill prepare for a last stand by saying their farewells. They move to opposite sides of the floor and engage the Cybermen. The Doctor cites his numerous victories over them – Mondas, Telos, Earth, Planet 14, Marinus, Voga, Canary Wharf, and the Moon – before falling to several laser blasts. He nearly regenerates, but holds it back as he ignites the piping below the floor and engulfs the forest in fiery destruction. The Cybermen are destroyed.

As Nardole and his charges reach Floor 0502, he holds out hope that Bill and the Doctor will return. Alit convinces him to move on and focus on living with them instead.

Amongst the wasteland that is Floor 0507, Bill finds the wounded Doctor. She’s barely functioning, but her personality is nearly restored, and she mourns over the Time Lord’s body. She is surprised to find Heather emerging from a nearby puddle and learns that she’s real through a passionate kiss. Heather changed Bill into a being like her, and together they take the Doctor’s body back to the TARDIS. Heather sets the controls for a new location and offers Bill the choice to return to her old life or live a new one at her side as she travels the universe.

Bill chooses the latter, shedding a tear over her friend and telling him that “where there’s tears, there’s hope.” The two women depart as the TARDIS flies on and the Doctor heals, dreaming of Bill, Nardole, Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, Captain Jack, Donna Noble, Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint, Sarah Jane, Amy Pond, Clara Oswald, and River Song as they each call his name. The last voice is Missy’s, one which awakens the Doctor as he mutters some words of his former lives. He yells that he can’t keep being someone else and suppresses his regeneration as the TARDIS lands.

The Doctor is defiant, telling the TARDIS that he would listen to the lesson it’s trying to teach him, and steps into an arctic landscape. He screams into the snow and stifles his regeneration, pledging not to change as he hears a voice that echoes his concerns. When he demands to know who the other person is, he’s surprised to find the Doctor in the snowstorm. The original, you might say.

He finds the First Doctor.

Before this point, the televised history of the Cybermen was pretty simple: There were the Mondasian Cybermen from this universe and the Cybus Cybermen from Pete’s World. This pair of episodes complicate the evolution by introducing various origins for the Cybermen of this universe.

After Mondas was ejected from Earth’s orbit, the Mondasians were split into two groups based on the desire to fully embrace cyber conversion. The so-called Faction left Mondas to find their destiny in The Wheel in SpaceThe Invasion, and The War Games (with a cameo in Carnival of Monsters and brief nods in Dalek and Death in Heaven). The remaining Mondans would evolve into Cybermen in this episode – and in the audio drama Spare Parts and the comics The World Shapers and The Cybermen, if you count those – before proceeding to The Tenth Planet. It’s worth noting that the Cybermen in The Tenth Planet arrived with their rogue planet, so these Cybermen might not be those Cybermen.

Apparently, every other version of the Cybermen evolved independently and on parallel trajectories across time and space. At least, that’s how the story goes as of right now since Doctor Who‘s continuity is perpetually fluid.

As if that wasn’t enough, we get a quasi-confirmation that “Doctor Who” is a legitimate variation of the Doctor’s name. These days, fans will point to all sorts of sources to justify the character’s moniker of “The Doctor,” but there are several sources that also make “Doctor Who” just as legitimate: The computer WOTAN repeatedly called for “Doctor Who” in The War Machines; The Second Doctor used the alias “Doktor von Wer” – literally, “Doctor [of] Who” – in The Highlanders; The Second Doctor signed a note as “Dr W” in The Underwater Menace; Bessie’s license plate was WHO 1 and WHO 7; and Miss Hawthorne referred to him as “the great wizard Qui Quae Quod” – literally “Who Who Who” in Latin – in The Dæmons.

What about the show’s credits, you might ask. The character was credited as “Doctor Who” from An Unearthly Child all the way through Logopolis, spanning 18 seasons of stories. Starting with Castrovalva and the Fifth Doctor’s run, the character was credited as “The Doctor” through the TV movie (which also credited the Seventh Doctor as “The Old Doctor”). The name changed again to “Doctor Who” for the Ninth Doctor‘s run before returning to “The Doctor” in The Christmas Invasion. Rose also featured a website entitled “Doctor Who?”.

All that to say that either name is legitimate, really. Sure, Missy lies… a lot… but her lies always have a kernel of truth within. In recent years, the title has referred more to an ethos and mission statement rather than an actual name.

Considering the stories at hand, the horror film feeling of these episodes is amazing. The first half is edge-of-your-seat tension mixed with copious amounts of body horror, and the second half blunts the body horror for more battlefield tension. The tension follows the lighting, leading to more empathic storytelling in daylight and ratcheting tension during the night. The Doctor’s impassioned speech is truly a last-stand Hail Mary pass, and it serves up more tension before the final battle. The moment that truly sent shivers down my spine was “pain, pain, pain,” cueing the audience to just how monstrous the Mondasians were.

Another shocker was the identity of Mr. Razor, but this is only because I didn’t the “coming soon” teaser at the end of The Eaters of Light when this series was in first-run. If I had known that John Simm was returning, I probably would have seen right through the Mr. Razor disguise. Since I didn’t know at the time, it blew me away back in 2017.

As someone who earned a degree in physics, I love when science fiction shows play around with the subject and can explain it to the home audience. Gravitational time dilation is a real phenomenon related to special relativity that has been observed on Earth. Scientists placed identical atomic clocks at different altitudes (which relates to the pull of gravity) and noted significant differences in time between them. In this case, “significant” is on the order of nanoseconds, but imagine scaling that up beyond the fragile envelope of our atmosphere to a really long spaceship parked longitudinally on the event horizon of a black hole. That difference in gravity is pretty big.

I did have a question about fridging the black woman in this story – a terrible trio of tropes! – but Bill doesn’t really die and she’s not put in peril by the villain simply as a means to motivate the hero, so I dismissed the idea.

The video of Level 0000 looks like a paused classic black-and-white episode of the show. It added to the feeling of tension and was a nice callback to the era that this story and its cliffhanger were meant to evoke.

The two Masters working side-by-side in this story was pure joy. Notably, this is the first televised story to feature multiple Masters. It was also the third finale of the three in Capaldi’s run to feature the Cybermen.

In the end, I’m left in awe of the Twelfth Doctor’s resolve and strength. He survived all of that and still had the fortitude to hold back one of the character’s most primal forces, setting the stage for Peter Capaldi’s swan song in the next adventure.

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time


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 #280: The Eaters of Light

Doctor Who: The Eaters of Light
(1 episode, s10e10, 2017)

Timestamp 280 Eaters of Light

Last stand in Scotland.

In the present day near Devil’s Cairn, Scotland, little Judy tells her brother that she wants to hear the ghosts. Her brother warns that there are ghosts, but Judy hears music and defies his request for her to leave. A crow lands nearby a carving of the TARDIS on the stones, calling “Doc-tor!” into the cloudy day.

In Aberdeen, Scotland, circa 2nd century AD, the TARDIS materializes with the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole as they ponder the disappearance of the lost Ninth Roman Legion. The Doctor touts his experience amongst the Romans, including his credentials as a Vestal Virgin Second Class. Eager to prove herself and her research, Bill splits off and encounters a Pictish girl. She falls into an underground pit and (at swordpoint) finds a Roman soldier.

The Doctor and Nardole find a crow that says “dark” repeatedly, which the Doctor explains away as that crows can speak in the future, but humans are too daft to understand it. The crow is warning them of danger as the sun goes down, a fact reinforced by the discovery of the dead Ninth Legion, slain by extraterrestrial means that looks like a complete lack of sunlight. The pair is soon taken hostage by a group of Picts.

Bill introduces herself to the soldier and is amazed that the TARDIS is able to translate her words into Latin. The soldier she found is from the missing legion, and together they escape the pit. They encounter a being that attacks the soldier, but he is able to tell her where the Roman survivors are hiding. She races to the cave and narrowly escapes the monster, though not before the creature attacks her. Bill passes out amongst a group of Ninth Legion Romans.

The Doctor and Nardole meet the Keeper of the Gate, a woman named Kar. Nardole attempts to charm the Picts with popcorn but the Doctor loses his patience with the group. He is soon introduced to Kar, the woman who attacked Bill and claims that she defeated the Roman legion. Kar considers the Romans imperial plunderers who will steal and slaughter across the land. The Doctor is skeptical that Kar could kill 5,000 soldiers and points to the gatekeeper’s gateway weaponry. Using the popcorn, the Doctor stages a diversion, and he and Nardole escape.

The Doctor and Nardole return to the cairn while looking for Bill. The Doctor watches as a gate opens and reveals several hostile creatures. As he recoils, the gate closes, and Nardole tells him that he was away for two days. The cairn is an interdimensional temporal rift. Nardole also reports that he was unable to find Bill.

In the cave, Bill is awakened by a soldier named Lucius. He moves her into a beam of sunlight to burn off the creature’s slime and has a bite to eat. Bill decides to leave and find the Doctor, but Lucius asks her to stay. They have a frank discussion about sexuality, to which Bill is surprised by Roman progressiveness.

The Doctor and Nardole find Kar and ask if she knows what’s inside the portal. She calls the creature the “eater of light” and says that each generation elects a warrior to hold it back. The battle takes decades in the real world. Unfortunately, it got out and killed the Ninth Legion, but Kar thinks that it will die soon. The Doctor argues with her, but they both turn as a scream cuts the air. They find a slain Pict girl and the Doctor explains that the monster won’t stop until it decimates the world.

Bill tells the Romans about the Doctor. She also explains that being scared is human, but it isn’t cowardice. They develop a plan to find the Doctor. They use a passage to sneak past the beast and find a ladder. Meanwhile, the Doctor and Kar devise a plan of their own based on the mirrors that the Picts carry. They consider how the portal periodically opens, likening it to an oil gush that relieves pressure periodically. The Doctor does what he can to rally Kar and her people to action.

The ladder from the cave system leads into the space where the Doctor, Nardole, and the Picts are hiding. After some tense moments, Bill and the Doctor are able to negotiate a truce based on the TARDIS’s translation circuits. The Doctor chides the lot, demanding that they “grow the hell up” and stop the beast before it consumes the entire universe.

The plan is to use the creature’s desires against it. They lure it with light and music, then use mirrors (which poison the light) to hold it at bay and push it back into the portal. The gate has to be guarded, and the Doctor volunteers to guard it with his relatively infinite lifespan. Bill and Kar disagree, telling him that he has gates of his own to guard. Kar and the Ninth Legion survivors stand before him as Nardole knocks him on the head. Kar and the soldiers advance into the gate and the cairn begins to fall apart due to the strain. When the cairn collapses, the portal is closed forever.

Nardole urges the Doctor to not hold a grudge as Kar’s brother tells the crows to spread the word about who saved the world. A crow flies off screaming “KAR” into the cloudy sky. The Doctor admits that he was wrong about the Ninth Legion, and Bill does as well. They weren’t missing or killed but instead were always here.

As the trio enters the TARDIS, Nardole is surprised to find Missy in the TARDIS. The Doctor let her out to do maintenance on the engines, but he’s locked her out of every major function on the time capsule. She can’t even leave the ship. Later, she cries as she hears bagpipe music, presumably from the warriors in the cairn, and suggests that it’s time to rebuild their relationship. The Doctor remains skeptical, stating that it’s not the right time during her rehabilitation.

The writer of this phenomenal tale was Rona Munro. She was also responsible for Survival, which she also novelized, and therefore took the record for the longest gap between two Doctor Who television stories by the same writer. That gap was approximately 27 and a half years.

It’s understandable why this episode has the lowest ratings (to date) of the revival era. It is a dark episode, both in content and overall lighting. So much of the story is portrayed by firelight or in dark woods, and even the daylight scenes end up shadowed by mostly cloudy skies. But, it also helps to drive the claustrophobic and defeated mood that permeates the plot, and I think it adds quite a bit overall.

Missy’s redemption(?) arc remains shrouded in mystery, but the ongoing thread of human sexuality continues with better, more respectful discussions about the topic through history. There’s a nod to a “long story” about the Doctor being a Vestal Virgin Second Class – ‘twould be an interesting story to see since the Vestal Virgins were priestesses who vowed to remain virginal between the ages of 10 and 40, which makes me wonder how the Doctor pulled this off in a world (spoilers) pre-Thirteenth and pre-Timeless Child – and I smiled about Lucius being called “granddad” since he was the oldest soldier in the legion. That’s quite the thumb at the confluence of youth and war.

It may not be a popular episode, but I really enjoyed it.

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

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: World Enough and Time & Doctor Who: The Doctor Falls


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 – Catching Up With Space, Time, and Non-Binary Nature


STEAM Saturday
Catching Up With Space, Time, and Non-Binary Nature
May 13, 2022

In this edition, we’re playing catch-up.

It’s been a while since I published a STEAM Saturday edition – the day gig certainly picked up the pace in 2023’s first quarter – so this one will have some links stretching back to February. Sometimes science news gets lost in the shuffle and grind, so I’m okay sharing them regardless of age.

As always, 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 in future editions.


NASA – NASA Names Astronauts to Next Moon Mission, First Crew Under Artemis (Apr 3, 2023)
NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) announced the four astronauts who will venture around the Moon on Artemis II, the first crewed mission on NASA’s path to establishing a long-term presence at the Moon for science and exploration through Artemis.

Scientific American – Here’s Why Human Sex Is Not Binary (May 1, 2023)
Ova don’t make a woman, and sperm don’t make a man.

NBC News – Japanese company says moon lander unexpectedly accelerated and likely crashed (Apr 26, 2023)
If all had gone well, ispace would have been the first private business to pull off a lunar landing.

Science News – Mouse hair turns gray when certain stem cells get stuck (May 1, 2023)
Pigment-producing stem cells must keep moving and changing to give hair its natural color.

NASA – NASA’s Curiosity Finds Surprise Clues to Mars’ Watery Past (Feb 8, 2023)
Among other discoveries made by the rover, rippled rock textures suggest lakes existed in a region of ancient Mars that scientists expected to be drier.

Scientific American – Nuclear Waste Is Piling Up. Does the U.S. Have a Plan? (Mar 6, 2023)
We need a permanent national nuclear waste disposal site now, before the spent nuclear fuel stored in 35 states becomes unsafe.

NASA – NASA’s NuSTAR Telescope Reveals Hidden Light Shows on the Sun (Feb 9, 2023)
Some of the hottest spots in the Sun’s atmosphere appear in the telescope’s X-ray view.

Science News – Satellite data reveal nearly 20,000 previously unknown deep-sea mountains (Apr 30, 2023)
The find roughly doubles the number of known seamounts in Earth’s oceans.

Scientific American – Who Invented the Measurement of Time? (Apr 25, 2023)
The first timekeeping devices were probably natural materials lost to the ages, but the ancient Egyptians were the first to leave records of their timekeeping methods.


Be Smart – A PBS Digital Studios science show hosted by Dr. Joe Hanson (Ph.D., Cell and Molecular Biology).

Physics Girl – Hosted by Dianna Cowern, a science communicator and physics alumna from MIT, this show was part of PBS Digital Studios until 2020. She uses her platform to explore complex physics, astronomy, and science-related topics in simple terms.

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).

Brain Craft – Vanessa Hill (Master of Science Communication, Australian National University) talks about psychology, neuroscience, and why we act the way we do. Her series is part of the PBS Digital Studios family, and she has also contributed to research about the disproportionate amount of hateful comments directed towards women on YouTube.

Kyle Hill – Kyle Hill is a science educator with degrees in civil and environmental engineering and science communication. He previously hosted the popular Because Science YouTube series, but now runs The Facility.

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.

Johnny Harris – Johnny Harris makes videos about maps… and other things.



Becky Stern – Becky Stern is a maker living in NYC. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions!

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.

Nostalgia Nerd – The Nostalgia Nerd has an addiction to nostalgia & things often categorized as “nerdy”. He talks about software, hardware, games, toys, programs, magazines, and other things from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, sometimes with a liberal amount of dry humor.


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.

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).

CGP Grey – CGP Grey is an American-Irish educational YouTuber, podcaster, and streamer who creates short explanatory videos on subjects including politics, geography, economics, history, and culture.

Not Just Bikes – Stories of great urban planning and urban experiences from the Netherlands and beyond. There are a lot of reasons why Dutch cities are so great; it’s not just bikes.



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.

Shop Time – Peter Brown is a geek with a full set of power tools, and he uses that knowledge to experiment, craft, and have fun.

Ben’s Worx – Ben is a maker from Queensland, Australia who has always had an interest in woodworking. He makes all kinds of things from wood, metal, plastics, and epoxy resin, and loves to experiment in the name of entertainment.

Moonpie Creations – Ken is a woodworker and creator who likes to have fun. A combat veteran, he uses his tools as a way to relax and deal with everyday stress. He loves to try new things, think outside the box, and stay cool.

Boylei Hobby Time – A hobbyist just trying to make fun things and inspire you to be creative.


David Bennett Piano – David Bennett is a pianist and music lover creating educational music videos about all things interesting in music and music theory.


Mark Rober – An engineer and inventor, Mark Rober presents popular science concepts and do-it-yourself gadgets in easy-to-understand terms. He was previously a NASA engineer (where he worked on the Curiosity rover) and a product designer at Apple’s Special Projects Group (where he authored patents involving virtual reality in self-driving cars). One of his best-known series involves the development of a glitter bomb to combat porch pirates and internet scammers.

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.

Glen and Friends – Glen and Julie Powell of Toronto host this look into recipes from the Depression Era, including if those recipes still work or can be improved in the modern day. It’s a great look into history and how cooking is both science and art.

I Like To Make Stuff – Bob Clagett likes to make stuff, whether it be home renovations, fixing up a vintage car, or building an astromech droid.

Wendover Productions – Wendover Productions, run by filmmaker Sam Denby, is all about explaining how our world works. From travel, to economics, to geography, to marketing, and more, every video will leave you with a little better understanding of our world.


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 – Twenty

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
May 10, 2023

Despite growing up in Utah, I’m not particularly religious, but I do have a favorite section from the Bible. Today seems like a great day to share it.

Twenty years ago, I married my friend. Over the last two decades, we have lived in seven states, have provided loving homes for four pets, earned five academic degrees, and faced several life-changing challenges. The constant over them all has been each other.

There isn’t really a secret to success in relationships. Every one of them has different chemistry and dynamics that wouldn’t work in other scenarios. But if I had to pick one key, it would be communication. It sounds trite, but we talk about (almost) everything. The only secrets that we keep from each other are pleasant surprises (like gifts) or work-related requirements (like client confidentiality or things I may or may not have done in the Navy). We don’t engage in “bitch sessions” with friends about one another. We don’t talk about each other behind our backs. If we have problems with each other, we talk to each other about them.

We are a team challenging the world. We have faith in each other, hope for our continued journey, and love to bind it together. Always and forever.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

—1 Corinthians 13

Here’s to the decades to come.


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.

Schedule Update: The Timestamps Project (May 2023)

Schedule Update: The Timestamps Project
May 2023


The Timestamps Project will continue through the summer with Series Ten and Series Eleven. This will finish Peter Capaldi’s run as the Twelfth Doctor and begin Jodie Whittaker’s run as the Thirteenth Doctor.

After that, the series will continue until it catches up to the first-run episodes around the first quarter of 2024.

As always, the schedule is tentative. Thanks for your continued support.cc-break

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 #279: Empress of Mars

Doctor Who: Empress of Mars
(1 episode, s10e09, 2017)

Timestamp 279 Empress of Mars

Long live the ice queen.

In 2017, the controllers at NASA are watching with bated breath as the space probe Valkyrie approaches Mars. The Doctor, Bill, and Nardole appear in Mission Control as the countdown ends and the first images return. Everyone is perplexed when the first sight of Mars is a message: “GOD SAVE THE QUEEN.”

The Doctor tracks the message’s origins to 1881 and takes the TARDIS to Mars to find out how it happened. The Doctor, Bill, and Nardole explore the Martian underground and discover a campfire. Where there’s fire, there’s typically oxygen, so the trio removes their helmets. Bill accidentally falls down a hole to a lower level so the Doctor sends Nardole back to the TARDIS for climbing gear, but the TARDIS inexplicably dematerializes with him onboard.

As the Doctor rushes toward the sound of the departing TARDIS, Bill encounters a man in a primitive spacesuit and the Doctor encounters an Ice Warrior. The Doctor tries a ritual greeting – which seems to work – but is interrupted by a Victorian-era soldier who threatens the Doctor and calls the Ice Warrior Friday. The Doctor and Bill are treated to tea with Colonel Godsacre, Mr. Catchlove, and Friday. There they learn that the humans found the Ice Warrior’s ship in South Africa where they exchanged help in repairing Friday’s ship for rare gems. the Ice Warrior is named in honor of Robinson Crusoe, in which the title character rescues a native man who takes the name and becomes his servant.

The soldiers are mining with a Martian laser, but their efforts have borne no fruit. After tea, the Doctor relates his knowledge of the Ice Warriors to Bill – “They could build a city under the sand, yet drench the snows of Mars with innocent blood. They could slaughter whole civilizations, yet weep at the crushing of a flower.” – and Friday breaks his silence by telling them that he is old and wishes to die in peace. His statement is contrasted by his dexterity as he catches a falling plate with ease.

Nardole tries to pilot the TARDIS back to Mars, but the capsule refuses to budge. Reluctantly, Nardole releases Missy from the vault to help.

The mining crew bickers amongst themselves before finally breaking through to an ornate chamber. Inside lies the tomb of an Ice Warrior queen, and even though the Doctor wants to investigate, the soldiers are blinded by the riches within. They consider Mars part of the British Empire but the Doctor points out that they are the invaders here.

Sure enough, the sentries standing watch at the tomb are assaulted by the queen after they try to plunder the tomb. When they attack her, she dispatches them with ease. Friday arrives as a soldier named Vincey flees, and the Ice Warrior servant reveals that his people have slumbered too long. Mars is dead.

Vincey sounds the alarm and the troops rush into the tomb. The Doctor asks to speak, and Godsacre allows it despite Catchlove’s protests. The Doctor backs Friday’s claims as Queen Iraxxa asks Bill for her opinion. She and the Doctor explain how the humans saved Friday’s life, and even though she wants to fight for honor, the Doctor requests mercy. When one of the soldiers accidentally fires his rifle, the queen says that she’ll show mercy by way of their swift deaths.

The soldiers flee to the Ice Warrior superlaser that they used for mining, but only after Bill’s intervention does a fatal shot end up merely collapsing the tomb entrance. Catchlove takes command from Godsacre, revealing that the colonel suffered a failed execution for desertion and ordering Godsacre, the Doctor, and Bill to be imprisoned in the brig.

While the Doctor and Bill plan their escape from the brig, they obliquely explain themselves to Godsacre. Meanwhile, Catchlove plots an attack but is routed after the Ice Warriors emerge from the soil behind them. Catchlove uses Vincey as a human shield to escape. Friday burrows into the brig and asks the Doctor for help in ending Iraxxa’s madness as she awakens the sleeping warriors at her command.

Now free from the brig, Bill requests to speak to the queen as a distraction while the Doctor implements a plan. Bill pleads with the queen to stay her hand, but Iraxxa refuses. The Doctor aims the superlaser cannon at the cavern roof and threatens to entomb them all in the polar ice above. Catchlove interferes by taking the queen hostage so he can escape the planet. His cowardice is ended by Godsacre when the colonel shoots him.

Godsacre relates his story to the queen and is willing to sacrifice himself to save everyone else. She decides that he will die with honor in battle, but only at her side should he swear allegiance to Mars until his final days. When he does, the battle is done.

The Doctor hotwires the communication system to send a distress call to evacuate the Ice Warriors to a new planet. He is surprised to see that his old friend Alpha Centauri responds to help. The Doctor, Bill, and Godsacre return to the surface and leave the message on the Martian surface as a beacon for the incoming fleet. After that, the Doctor and Bill find the TARDIS as it materializes.

The Doctor is stunned to find Missy and Nardole inside. He’s even more stunned when Missy is compliant instead of defiant.

With the return of the Ice Warriors and the debut of the first female Ice Warrior on screen, we get far more connective tissue to the classic era than we did in Cold War. For one, the Doctor declares that he is an Honorary Guardian of the Tythonian Hive. For another, the Doctor finds yet another group of British explorers on Mars. Finally, we get the return of Alpha Centauri.

The amazing part about this very short character reprisal is that the producers were able to get Ysanne Churchman to voice her again. At the age of 92, she became the oldest actor to appear in the revival era, and her return was kept a secret until the episode’s premiere. In the age of the internet and fans who seek out filming locations to spoil casting and plot elements, I love it when Doctor Who can still keep secrets.

The story itself is a pretty standard exercise in the follies of imperialism and the stereotypical military mindset, both being mainstays of the franchise over the years. It’s not surprising considering that Mark Gatiss wrote this story as well as Victory of the Daleks and Cold War. This marks his final script (to date) for the franchise, but not his final appearance. The episode carries itself well with tense drama and excellent performances. It is a joy to watch.

I’m still curious about the TARDIS and her recent bout of autonomy. I wonder what she’s up to.

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

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Eaters of Light


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 – Phantom of the Opera: A Salute to the Music of the Night

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Phantom of the Opera: A Salute to the Music of the Night
May 1, 2023

This week, I’m back to the performing arts with the Theater and Musical Lovers YouTube Channel.

The channel and its associated Facebook group were established as an unofficial gathering of Dragon Con attendees who love theater, musicals, and the performing arts. Their goal is to create a community of fellow thespians and fans at the convention. This time, they took on a champion of Broadway.

For 37 years, The Phantom of the Opera has been there, inside our minds! From its debut in the West End through its legendary run on Broadway, Phantom has dominated what most people think about when you mention theater.

On April 21st, Sarah Rose was joined by guests Lauren, Max, Ashley, Kurt, and Jenn to discuss the sweet intoxication, the chandelier, the secret sewer lair, and the music of the night. 

Note: Depending on security settings, you may have to click through below to see the video directly on YouTube. You should definitely subscribe to their channel for more updates.

The Theater and Musical Lovers Group will be hosting more of these panels. If you’re interested in participating or have some topic ideas in mind, head over to the group on Facebook and drop them a line. You can also find them on Instagram and coming soon on TikTok.

You can find Gary and Sarah on the socials: On Twitter, they are Gary_Mitchel, SarahRose_KPK, and Daisuki_Suu; on Instagram, they are Gary_Mitchel and Daisuki_Suu; and Gary’s horror-themed podcast that he hosts with Erin McGourn is A Podcask of Amontillado. Of course, the Theater & Musical Lovers channel can be found on YouTube.


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.