The Thing About Today – March 23

March 23, 2020
Day 83 of 366

 

March 23rd is the eighty-third day of the year. It is World Meteorological Day, celebrating the establishment of the World Meteorological Organization on this day in 1950.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Chia Day, National Chip and Dip Day, National Near Miss Day, National Melba Toast Day, and National Puppy Day.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1775, during the American Revolutionary War, Patrick Henry delivered his famous speech – “Give me liberty, or give me death!” – at St. John’s Episcopal Church, in Richmond, Virginia.
  • In 1857, Elisha Otis’s first elevator was installed at 488 Broadway in New York City.
  • In 1889, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was established by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in Qadian, British India.
  • In 1904, Joan Crawford was born.
  • In 1910, Japanese director and screenwriter Akira Kurosawa was born.
  • In 1956, Pakistan became the first Islamic republic in the world. This date is now celebrated as Republic Day in Pakistan.
  • In 1965, NASA launched Gemini 3. It was the United States’ first two-man space flight, crewed by Gus Grissom and John Young.
  • In 1976, Michelle Monaghan was born.
  • Also in 1976, Keri Russell was born.
  • In 1977, The first of The Nixon Interviews was videotaped with British journalist David Frost interviewing former United States President Richard Nixon about the Watergate scandal and the Nixon tapes. It was the first of twelve to be recorded over four weeks.
  • In 2001, the Russian Mir space station was disposed of. It broke up in the atmosphere and fell into the southern Pacific Ocean near Fiji.

 

In 1940, Truth or Consequences was first broadcast on radio.

Truth or Consequences was a game show mixing the quiz show element with wacky stunts. It was originally hosted on NBC radio by Ralph Edwards from 1940 to 1957. It later moved to television with Ralph Edwards (1950-1954), followed by hosts Jack Bailey (1954-1956), Bob Barker (1956-1975), Steve Dunne (1957-58), Bob Hilton (1977-1978), and Larry Anderson (1987–1988).

Contestants received roughly two seconds to answer a trivia question correctly. It was usually an off-the-wall question that no one was expected to answer. If the contestant could not complete the “Truth” portion, there would be “Consequences,” which usually meant a zany and embarrassing stunt. Strangely enough, most contestants preferred to answer the question wrong to perform the stunt.

One of the more popular segments involved an emotional surprise for a contestant, such as being reunited with a long-lost relative or with an enlisted son or daughter returning from military duty.

Ralph Edwards got the idea for a new radio program from a favorite childhood parlor game called “Forfeits”. Truth or Consequences was the first game show to air on broadcast television, although it was initially a one-time experiment on July 1, 1941. When the television medium caught on nine years later, it returned to television.

Ralph Edwards also pioneered several technologies for recording live television programs. When Truth or Consequences established itself as a permanent television presence in 1950, he arranged to have it be recorded on 35mm film while using multiple cameras simultaneously, making it the first televised program recorded before a live audience to do so. Desilu would later use a similar process for I Love Lucy.

On January 22, 1957, the show became the first program to be broadcast in all time zones from a prerecorded videotape, a technology that was only a year old and used for time-delayed broadcasts to the West Coast. In 1966, it became the first successful daily game show in first-run syndication (as opposed to reruns) to not air on a network, having ended its NBC run one year earlier. This version continued through 1975.

The show and its concepts maintain a lasting presence in pop culture, especially in Hot Springs, New Mexico. The town agreed to host a radio episode in 1949 in exchange for changing its name to Truth or Consequences. It continues to use that name today and remains a tribute to the program’s impact on popular culture.

 

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

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

 

 

The Thing About Today – March 22

March 22, 2020
Day 82 of 366

 

March 22nd is the eighty-second day of the year. It is World Water Day, a United Nations observance that highlights the importance of freshwater and sustainable management of freshwater resources.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Bavarian Crepes Day, National Goof Off Day, and National West Virginia Day.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1630, the Massachusetts Bay Colony outlawed the possession of cards, dice, and gaming tables, even in private homes. Because… Puritan theology.
  • In 1638, Anne Hutchinson was expelled from Massachusetts Bay Colony for religious dissent. She was a Puritan spiritual advisor and religious reformer whose convictions – she believed that the local ministers were focusing too much on a “covenant of works” rather than a “covenant of grace” – placed her at odds with the establishment clergy.
  • In 1765, the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act that introduces a tax to be levied directly on its American colonies. This unpopular move gave rise to the slogan “No taxation without representation.”
  • In 1829, the United Kingdom, France, and Russia established the borders of Greece via the London Protocol.
  • In 1871, William Woods Holden became the first governor in the United States to be removed from office by impeachment. He was the governor of North Carolina.
  • In 1872, Illinois became the first state to require gender equality in employment.
  • In 1873, the Spanish National Assembly abolished slavery in Puerto Rico.
  • In 1908, novelist Louis L’Amour was born.
  • In 1930, composer and songwriter Stephen Sondheim was born.
  • In 1931, William Shatner was born.
  • In 1941, James Stewart was enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps, becoming the first major American movie star to wear a military uniform during World War II.
  • In 1948, composer and director Andrew Lloyd Webber was born.
  • In 1960, Arthur Leonard Schawlow and Charles Hard Townes received the first patent for a laser.
  • In 1972, the United States Congress sent the Equal Rights Amendment to the states for ratification. It still hasn’t been ratified.
  • Also in 1972, the United States Supreme Court decided in Eisenstadt v. Baird that unmarried persons have the right to possess contraceptives.
  • In 1976, Reese Witherspoon was born.
  • In 1993, the Intel Corporation shipped the first Pentium chips.
  • In 1995, Cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov returned to Earth after setting a record of 438 days in space.
  • In 1997, Tara Lipinski became becomes the youngest women’s World Figure Skating Champion. She was fourteen years old.
  • In 2019, Robert S. Mueller III delivers his report on the Russian government’s influence on the election of Donald Trump in the 2016 United States presidential election.

 

In 1975, a fire at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant in Decatur, Alabama caused a dangerous reduction in cooling water levels.

The fire started when a worker used a candle to search for air leaks, watching for the movement of smoke to determine airflow through seals. The candle’s flame was pulled into a temporary cable seal and ignited the foamed plastic that was covered on both sides with two coats of a flame retardant paint as a firestop. The fire spread and caused significant damage to the reactor control cabling in the station.

From the NRC bulletin concerning the event:

The fire started in the cable spreading room at a cable penetration through the wall between the cable spreading room and the reactor building for Unit 1. A slight differential pressure is maintained (by design) across this wall, with the higher pressure being on the cable spreading room side. The penetration seal originally present had been breached to install additional cables required by a design modification. Site personnel were resealing the penetration after cable installation and were checking the airflow through a temporary seal with a candle flame prior to installing the permanent sealing material. The temporary sealing material was highly combustible, and caught fire. Efforts were made by the workers to extinguish the fire at its origin, but they apparently did not recognize that the fire, under the influence of the draft through the penetration, was spreading on the reactor building side of the wall. The extent of the fire in the cable spreading room was limited to a few feet from the penetration; however, the presence of the fire on the other side of the wall from the point of ignition was not recognized until significant damage to cables related to the control of Units 1 and 2 had occurred.

This event later resulted in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission making significant additions to the standards for fire protection through the publication of 10CFR50.48 and Appendix R, and later the NFPA 805 fire protection standard. The event was pivotal in fire protection for the nuclear industry and beyond, including commercial and industrial construction.

 

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

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

 

 

The Thing About Today – March 21

March 21, 2020
Day 81 of 366

 

March 21st is the eighty-first day of the year. It is a big day on the international stage, including World Down Syndrome Day, World Puppetry Day, and World Poetry Day.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National California Strawberry Day, National Common Courtesy Day, National Countdown Day, National Fragrance Day, National French Bread Day, National Single Parent Day, National Corn Dog Day, and National Quilting Day. National Quilting Day is typically observed on the third Saturday in March, and National Corn Dog Day is typically observed on the first Saturday of March Madness.

As a trivial aside, the NCAA has six annual basketball tournaments in March – one for each division, divided into men’s and women’s competitions – but only one is officially known as March Madness: The  NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. The term was popularized by CBS sportscaster Brent Musberger in the 1980s, and Bob Walsh of the Seattle Organizing Committee started the official March Madness celebration in 1984. Of course, the NCAA loves cold hard cash, so they trademarked the term in the 1990s.

Unfortunately for corn dog fans, March Madness has been canceled due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but you can still enjoy them at home if you can find them in stores. It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world right now, so good luck.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1685, German Baroque composer and musician Johann Sebastian Bach was born.
  • In 1768, French mathematician and physicist Joseph Fourier was born.
  • In 1800, Pius VII was crowned as Pope in Venice, Italy. The church’s leadership had been driven out of Rome during armed conflict, and the ceremony was conducted with a temporary papal tiara made of papier-mâché.
  • In 1844, the Bahá’í calendar began, making this the first day of the calendar and an annual celebrated by members of the Bahá’í Faith as the Bahá’í New Year or Náw-Rúz.
  • In 1925, the Butler Act was made law, prohibiting the teaching of human evolution in Tennessee. It was challenged later that year in the famous Scopes Trial and was finally repealed in 1967.
  • In 1928, Charles Lindbergh was presented with the Medal of Honor for the first solo trans-Atlantic flight.
  • In 1935, Shah of Iran Reza Shah Pahlavi formally asked the international community to call Persia by its native name: Iran.
  • In 1946, actor Timothy Dalton was born. He was one of my favorite James Bonds.
  • In 1952, Alan Freed presented the Moondog Coronation Ball in Cleveland, Ohio. It was the first rock and roll concert.
  • In 1958, actor, filmmaker, musician, and author Gary Oldman was born.
  • In 1962, Matthew Broderick was born.
  • In 1963, Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, located in San Francisco, California, closed.
  • In 1965, NASA launched Ranger 9, the last in a series of unmanned lunar space probes.
  • Also in 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led 3,200 people on the start of the third and finally successful civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
  • In 1970, the first Earth Day proclamation was issued by Joseph Alioto, Mayor of San Francisco.
  • Also in 1970, the first San Diego Comic-Con International opened at the U.S. Grant Hotel.
  • In 1980, United States President Jimmy Carter announced a United States boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet-Afghan War.

 

In 2006, Twitter was founded with a missive from Jack Dorsey: “just setting up my twttr”.

 

Twitter is a microblogging and social networking service designed to mimic the Short Message Service (SMS) format. Each post is known as a tweet, following from the definitions of the word twitter as “a short burst of inconsequential information” and “chirps from birds”, and they were initially limited to 140 characters in length. The developers considered the platform to be more of an information network than a social one.

Twitter experienced explosive growth, credited to a presentation at 2007’s South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference, eventually reaching into the hundreds of millions of active users.

Users are known by their handles (usernames) and can mention one another by tweeting those names preceded by an @ sign. Twitter also gave birth to the idea of hashtags, which group discussions by user-defined topics that are flagged by using the # sign. A user’s tweets can be liked, replied to in threads (basically, a collected discussion), and retweeted (basically, shared or automatically copied and credited) to someone else’s audience.

Twitter users can also see trending discussions in local regions and across the globe. Certain users can be granted “verified” status, shown by a special blue checkmark next to their name, in order to limit impersonators.

In 2009, San Antonio-based market-research firm Pear Analytics analyzed 2,000 tweets for content over two weeks and determined that roughly 80% of content on the site was divided nearly equally into conversations and pointless babble. The rest of the tweets were spread across news, self-promotion, pass-along value, and spam.

In 2017, Twitter expanded the character limit to 280 and removed Twitter handles from the overall character count.

Twitter is pretty much the wild west of social media with few sheriffs to keep the peace. I often call it a larger hive of scum and villainy than the Mos Eisley Spaceport.

You can find me there, for better or worse, as @womprat99.

 

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

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

 

 

Culture on My Mind – Moving Pictures in Isolation

Culture on My Mind
March 20, 2020

 

This week’s “can’t let it go” is really just an update on the movie scene.

Box Office Mojo posted a quick note on Tuesday about the state of cinema during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the same day that AMC and Regal announced that all of their United States theaters would be closed for six to twelve weeks, encompassing over 1,200 locations overall. As a result, several films have been either postponed or removed from the upcoming slates. Today’s post is an attempt to capture some of those for you.

  • No Time to Die (James Bond #25) has been postponed to November 25, 2020.
  • My Spy has been postponed to April 17, 2020.
  • Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway has been postponed to August 7, 2020.
  • A Quiet Place Part II has been removed from the schedule.
  • F9 (Fast and Furious 9) has been postponed to April 2, 2021.
  • Mulan has been removed from the schedule.
  • The New Mutants has been removed from the schedule (which is the latest in a series of moves for this once-Fox-now-Disney Marvel film)
  • Antlers has been removed from the schedule.
  • Black Widow has been removed from the schedule.
  • The Personal History of David Copperfield has been removed from the schedule.
  • The Woman in the Window has been removed from the schedule.
  • Antebellum has been removed from the schedule.
  • Run has been removed from the schedule.
  • Minions: The Rise of Gru has been removed from the schedule.

 

Because of the theater closures, studios are trying to recoup some of their investments while stoking goodwill with audiences. To that end, Universal has announced that they are making recent releases like The HuntThe Invisible Man, and Emma available On Demand.

Meanwhile, Disney has announced that Pixar’s Onward will be available for immediate digital download and for streaming on their Disney+ platform by April 3rd. This is in addition to the early digital release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and the early streaming release of Frozen 2 on Disney+.

Universal’s Trolls World Tour is still scheduled for release on April 10th, but Universal has added an On Demand option for that film as well.

 

What will be particularly interesting is how these moves affect the film industry going forward, both in how the release schedule gets sorted out and how studios treat their titles with respect to digital availability.

It’s also interesting to me that drive-in theaters are increasing in popularity with the COVID-19 pandemic according to the Los Angeles Times, especially since they had recently been considered a dead cinema format. Social distancing has some benefits beyond killing off the virus.

 

As a special note, I hope you all stay safe and healthy out there. I know that physical isolation can take a toll, and I hope that you can take some time to touch base with loved ones through video, chat, email, or phone. I also hope you can find time to care for yourselves during these stressful times.

 

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.

The Thing About Today – March 20

March 20, 2020
Day 80 of 366

 

March 20th is the eightieth day of the year. It is the International Day of Happiness, a United Nations-sponsored day to advance happiness as a fundamental human right. It is also National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the United States, designed to increase knowledge and education about the one percent of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS who are among the American Indian and Alaska Native populations.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as World Flour Day, National Proposal Day, National Ravioli Day, and National Kick Butts Day.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1602, the Dutch East India Company was established.
  • In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published. This anti-slavery novel had a profound effect on attitudes toward African Americans and slavery, and it helped lay the groundwork for the American Civil War.
  • In 1915, Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity.
  • In 1922, the USS Langley (CV-1) was commissioned as the first United States Navy aircraft carrier.
  • In 1928, Fred Rogers was born. He was the creator, host, and producer of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood for its entire run from 1968 to 2001. If you have the chance, learn all about his extraordinary life in the 2018 documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  • In 1937, author Lois Lowry was born. She won Newbery Medals for Number the Stars and The Giver.
  • In 1948, actor John de Lancie was born. Among other roles, he was Q in the Star Trek franchise.
  • In 1950, actor William Hurt was born.
  • In 1957, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Spike Lee was born.
  • In 1958, actress and producer Holly Hunter was born.
  • In 1963, actor David Thewlis was born.
  • In 1979, actress Freema Agyeman was born. She portrayed Martha Jones in Doctor Who.
  • In 1986, Ruby Rose was born. She portrays Batwoman on the CW show of the same name.
  • In 1987, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved the anti-AIDS drug, AZT.
  • In 1999, Legoland California opened in Carlsbad, California. It was the first Legoland outside of Europe.
  • In 2015, a Solar eclipse, equinox, and a Supermoon all occurred on the same day.

 

 

In 2015, a solar eclipse, an equinox, and a supermoon all occurred on the same day.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, effectively obscuring the Sun from an Earth-bound observer’s point of view. Since the Moon is closer to the planet, it appears to be larger than the Sun. This solar eclipse’s totality – when the Moon appears to completely cover the Sun – lasted two minutes and forty-seven seconds, and the path of totality passed over the North Pole. It was the last total solar eclipse visible in Europe until the forecasted eclipse of August 12, 2026.

As mentioned on March 19’s post, the vernal equinox is the day when the duration of night and day are equal and the subsolar point appears to leave the Southern Hemisphere and cross the celestial equator. On the Gregorian calendar, this can occur between March 19th and March 21st, and it typically marks the transition of seasons from winter to spring in the Northern Hemisphere and summer to autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.

A supermoon is a full or new moon that nearly coincides with the perigee – the closest that the Moon comes to the Earth in its orbit – so that it looks larger-than-normal to an Earth-bound observer. The proper (technical) name is perigee syzygy, but supermoon sounds cooler for the general populace. The term also comes from astrology. In 2015, the supermoon was a new moon, so it appeared dark in the night sky.

Personally, I think syzygy – pronounced ˈsizijē, meaning a conjuction or pair of connected things – is much more fun to say.

Witnessing all three events at the same time isn’t unusual in of itself, but the confluence of events is fun to talk and learn about, especially if you’re lucky enough to be in the path of solar eclipse totality.

 

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

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

 

 

The Thing About Today – March 19

March 19, 2020
Day 79 of 366

 

March 19th is the seventy-ninth day of the year. It is Kashubian Unity Day in Poland, a commemoration of the first written mention of Kashubians in Pope Gregory IX’s Bull of March 19, 1238. So, who are the Kashubians? They are a West Slavic ethnic group native to the historical region of Pomerelia in modern north-central Poland.

It’s also the vernal equinox, a day when the duration of night and day are equal and the subsolar point appears to leave the Southern Hemisphere and cross the celestial equator. All that science to say, “Welcome to Spring!” Unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, then “Welcome to Autumn!”

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Certified Nurses Day, National Chocolate Caramel Day, National Let’s Laugh Day, National Poultry Day, and National Farm Rescuer Day. That last one is typically observed on the third Thursday in March.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1848, Wyatt Earp was born.
  • In 1918, the United States Congress established time zones and approved daylight saving time.
  • In 1928, Irish-American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Patrick McGoohan was born.
  • In 1931, gambling was legalized in Nevada.
  • In 1936, actress and model Ursula Andress was born.
  • In 1947, actress and producer Glenn Close was born.
  • In 1955, actor and producer Bruce Willis was born.
  • In 1962, Bob Dylan released his first album, Bob Dylan, for Columbia Records.
  • In 1979, the United States House of Representatives began broadcasting its day-to-day business via the cable television network C-SPAN.
  • In 2018, the last male northern white rhinoceros, named Sudan, died. Sudan lived at the Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic from 1975 to 2009. After that, he lived at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia, Kenya. He was one of the last three white rhinoceroses in the world, and his death ensured a chance of extinction for the species.

 

In 1863, the SS Georgiana was destroyed on her maiden voyage. The wreckage was discovered exactly 102 years later, in 1965, by teenage diver and pioneer underwater archaeologist E. Lee Spence.

The Georgiana was reportedly the most powerful cruiser built for the Confederate States of America. She was a brig-rigged, iron-hulled, propeller steamer with room for fourteen guns and over four hundred tons of cargo. After being built in Scotland, she was en route to Charleston, South Carolina to be outfitted and crewed, carrying a cargo of munitions, medicines, and merchandise then valued at over $1 million. She was commanded by Captain A. B. Davidson, a retired British naval officer, and had 140 men on board for the transit.

On March 19, 1863, the Georgiana attempted to run past the Federal Blockading Squadron at Charleston. She was spotted by the yacht America, the first winner of the America’s Cup racing trophy, which alerted the blockade fleet with colored flares. After a desperate chase, Georgiana was sunk by the USS Wissahickon. Captain Davidson surrendered and scuttled the ship before escaping with all hands on land.

Lieutenant Commander John Davis, commanding the Wissahickon, set the wreck afire to prevent guerrillas from salvaging the valuable cargo.

In 1965, E. Lee Spence discovered the wreck only five feet under the surface of the water. She is currently home to various fauna and flora, including coral. Spence recovered sundries, munitions, and medicines valued at over $12 million, but did not locate the rumored 350 pounds of gold that the ship carried. If found, Georgiana‘s value could easily top $50 million.

 

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

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

 

 

Timestamp #195: Partners in Crime

Doctor Who: Partners in Crime
(1 episode, s04e01, 2008)

 

Only this diet plan can help repopulate a society.

After the introduction of a new electric theme mix, we find Donna Noble walking down the street toward a high rise office building. The Tenth Doctor is also arriving, though he breaks in through a back door instead of the lobby. Both of them are posing as officers from Health and Safety, and they crash a press conference presented by Miss Foster of Adipose Industries.

Penny Carter, a science journalist from The Observer pushes for more details while our heroes independently make their way through the call center, inspect the gold pill-shaped necklaces presented as subscription gifts, and look to the printer for a copy of the client list.

The duo track down separate Adipose clients. Donna chats with Stacy Campbell while the Doctor interviews Roger Davey. At 1:10am every morning, Roger wakes up to the burglar alarm but there’s no movement in the house. The Doctor presumes that the cat flap (but not cat people) has something to do with it. Meanwhile, Donna gets personal with the problem as Stacy’s fat literally pops off into an adorable little blob.

The incident triggers a tracking device in the Doctor’s pocket as Miss Foster initiates full parthenogenesis after Stacy witnesses the creature’s birth. In short, she dissolves into a herd of the little guys who jump out the window. Miss Foster’s security team arrives at Stacy’s house to capture the little guys as Donna and the Doctor search for them in a series of near misses. Neither of them catches up to the security van.

Miss Foster reviews the security footage and figures out that they have a spy in their midst. The necklace that Donna took triggered the event. Meanwhile, Donna goes home and suffers through nagging lectures from her mother. Donna takes her leave and joins her grandfather Wilf as he stargazes with his telescope. The pair are great together, and Donna makes Wilf promise to let her know if a blue box appears in the night sky.

She’s never told her family about what happened at her Christmas wedding, but she knows that she’s waiting for the right man.

On the TARDIS, the Doctor is talking to himself as he analyzes the necklace. He’s a lonely man, still missing Martha.

The pair return to Adipose Industries, both in blue vehicles, and make their way upstairs. Donna hides out in the restroom and waits for the office to close. The Doctor does the same, but in a utility closet in the basement. While Donna waits, she’s interrupted by Miss Foster and her hit squad. They find Penny Carter and take her to the corner office for interrogation.

The Doctor and Donna both follow, one outside on a window washing rig and the other just outside the main entrance…

…and then we come to one of my favorite scenes in the revival era of Doctor Who as our heroes cast their gaze on the pill that gives rise to the creatures of living fat.

Let’s leave this comedy gold to the shooting script:

The Doctor lifts his head up… looking left, to the desk.
Donna lifts her head up… looking right, to the desk.
Then the Doctor looks straight ahead, seeing –
Donna looks straight ahead, seeing –
The Doctor!!!!
Donna!!!??!
Big long moment, both just boggling, open-mouthed. Then, all shot through the glass, in silence, big gestures:

The Doctor: Donna???
Donna: Doctor!!!!
The Doctor: but…what? Wha… WHAT??!?
Donna: Oh! My! God!
The Doctor: but… how???
Donna points at herself! It’s me!
The Doctor: well I can see that!
Donna: oh this is brilliant!
The Doctor: but… what the hell are you doing there???
Donna’s just so thrilled, she waves! Big smile!
The Doctor: but, but, but, why, what, where, when?
Donna points at him – you!! I was looking for you!
The Doctor: me? What for?
Donna does a little mime: I, came here, trouble, read about it, internet, I thought, trouble = you! And this place is weird! Pills! So I hid. Back there. Crept along. Heard this lot. Looked. You! Cos they…

And on ‘they’, she gestures and looks towards Miss Foster.
Who is staring at her. As are the guards. Penny, too.
Donna freezes. Oops.

Miss Foster sics her goons on the duo, so Donna and the Doctor run. They rendezvous in the stairwell and head to the roof where the Doctor rigs the window washing crane while Donna talks about her efforts to track down the Time Lord, the Titanic buzzing Buckingham Palace, and the disappearance of bees.

The Doctor and Donna descend, but Miss Foster uses a sonic pen to sabotage the car and break the cables. The Doctor and Donna dangle during feats of derring-do as he disarms Miss Foster and takes her sonic pen. He opens a window, dives inside, and rushes down to rescue Donna and free Penny.

The Doctor and Donna run into Miss Foster – who is really Matron Cofelia of the Five-Straighten Classabindi Nursery Fleet, Intergalactic Class – and learn about the adipose. She’s been hired by the Adiposian First Family to breed the next generation from the people of Earth after losing the breeding planet. When Foster threatens to kill them, the Doctor uses both sonic devices to stage a diversion.

They rush downstairs as Foster captures Penny and accelerates her plan. After all, the Doctor has notified the Shadow Proclamation of her illegal plan to seed a Level Five planet. The Doctor hacks the building’s induction core while he and Donna discuss Martha, Rose, and Donna’s quest to find him.

A series of miscommunications result in Donna being invited to travel on the TARDIS. Meanwhile, one million customers across Great Britain start decomposing into adipose. The human witnesses look on as the adipose march through the streets toward their wet nurse. As Foster doubles the power of the signal, Donna comes to the rescue with her necklace and disables the inducer.

In the end, ten thousand aidpose walk the streets as Foster’s ride arrives to take them all home.

Hilariously, Wilf is listening to music and looking in the opposite direction as the nursery ship enters the atmosphere.

The nursery ship uses levitation pulses to take the adipose aboard. The Doctor recognizes this and runs with Donna to the roof, refusing to blow up the ship with all the children aboard. Martha has done the Doctor well, Donna remarks. Unfortunately, he knows that the First Family plans to eliminate Foster to cover their crime. Sure enough, they cut the levitation beam and she goes splat.

The Doctor drops the sonic pen in the trash as he and Donna head to the TARDIS. Donna begins pulling luggage from her car – she’s been planning on this since Christmas – but loses her head of steam as the Doctor looks on with a forlorn gaze. He draws a line in the proverbial sand: He just wants a mate.

No, not to mate, Donna! A friend. A traveling partner.

A companion.

Donna agrees and rushes off to leave the car keys for her mother. She finds a trash bin and phones her mother, leaving instructions with a nearby observer.

That observer is Rose Tyler. She vanishes just after Donna leaves.

Donna’s first request is a fly-by over Wilf’s hill. She waves at him as she leaves on her trip through space and time.

After all, she’s finally found her man.

 

This episode fires on all cylinders. The humor keeps an otherwise by-the-numbers plot entertaining – particularly the classic comedy trope of characters missing each other by fractions of a second, just like the companions in The Romans, and the aforementioned miming skit, which echoes the Third Doctor and Jo Grant in The Sea Devils – and Donna Noble’s obvious homage to sneaky investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith is a nice nod. Donna has a bucket load of character development here, and it’s refreshing after the last two companions.

Donna doesn’t want a relationship with the Doctor. She wants an adventure with the Doctor.

And with these two and their amazing chemistry, it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

 

 

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”

 

UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Fires of Pompeii

 

 

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.