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S12.E08: The Haunting of Villa Diodati

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Lord Byron and the Shelleys prepare for a night telling ghost stories, but their villa proves to have ghostly presences all its own. Location: Lake Geneva, Switzerland, Earth Date: 1816

Airing Sunday, February 16, 2020

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Longer synopsis:

The Doctor and her gang arrive at the Villa Diodati at Lake Geneva in 1816 on the night that inspired Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The plan is to spend the evening soaking up the atmos in the presence of some literary greats, but the ghosts are all too real, and the Doctor is forced into a decision of earth-shattering proportions.

Guest cast:

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin - Lili Miller

Lord Byron - Jacob Collins-Levy

Percy Bysshe Shelley - Lewis Rainer

Dr John Polidori - Maxim Baldry

Written by Maxine Alderton

Directed by Emma Sullivan

Next-time trailer, which is pretty funny

Longer trailer

Note they are all wearing period clothing, including the Doctor (or at least something different than her usual clothes)

 

 

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Ok, spoilers for US/Commonwealth;

1. God, everyone looks fabulous in their period costume.

2. Plus the guest cast were just perfect in their roles, straight out of a Jane Austen adaptation.

3. Speaking of whom, nice attempt by Graham to try some period speech

4. Not a fan of toilet humour although I always did wonder, I always imagined Martha nipping back to the Tardis bathroom in The Shakespeare Code etc

5. So who were the 'ghosts'? Just a cheap gag or do they have some greater significance weeping angel/Doctor's mum style. 

6. No sign of Byron's bear? I thought that's how they'd defeat the Cyberman. 

7. Which I called correctly as the inspiration for Frankenstein.

8. Great look for the 'lone Cyberman', a little bit Borg, to hear his emotion was just disturbing. 

9. That said, did no one propose to shoot him in the eye?

10. An ep where no one dies? 

11. Genuinely good atmosphere, this week, actually creepy.

12. Interesting trailer for next week, looks like a Garda (Southern Ireland's police force), is Doctor Who finally heading to the Emerald Isle? 

7/10

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That was fun! Lots of genuine laugh-out-loud one-liners woven together by a genuinely spooky story and a strong guest cast. Thumbs up.

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46 minutes ago, Joe Hellandback said:

Ok, spoilers for US/Commonwealth;

(snip)

 

10. An ep where no one dies? 

11. Genuinely good atmosphere, this week, actually creepy.

12. Interesting trailer for next week, looks like a Garda (Southern Ireland's police force), is Doctor Who finally heading to the Emerald Isle? 

7/10

#10 - the nanny and the valet both looked to be dead when they were found.

# 12 - if it was a Garda uniform, it looked to be a fairly old one. 

 

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30 minutes ago, Ceindreadh said:

#10 - the nanny and the valet both looked to be dead when they were found.

# 12 - if it was a Garda uniform, it looked to be a fairly old one. 

 

You might be right on second viewing. The man aiming the pistol was in old fashioned dress so this could be the 50s? 

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I really enjoyed this one. Nice creepy Victorian atmosphere and it moved the main plot along. Of course she gave the lone Cyberman what it wants. I really hope Jack is in this final arc somehow. I know they said he wasn't going to be on until next series, but people lie. 

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Great scary episode. I usually don't like scary. In fact, I called out Cybermen!!!! when I first saw him and woke my cats.  

Hasn't something invading human blood vessels happened several times before with the doctor? An episode about witches?...

Can't wait to see the finale!

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I really liked this. It was a good historical, spooky, funny, and wrapped in with Cyberman stuff. Plus we got a cold open

The Cyberman appearance was pretty expected by almost everyone given the spoilers, a Mary Shelley episode, Jack's warning, etc, but we didn't know how things would go down. I'm not sure I agree with the Doctor's decision to give the Cyberman the Cyerbium (or whatever it's called), but maybe she knew better about Shelley's influence on the world and figured she could deal with the Cyber Empire later

I really liked the directing and the look of the episode. The costumes looked terrific, including those of the companions. I don't quite get what the Doctor was wearing. I appreciated that we (or I for sure) could see what was going on in spite of it being night most of the time. According to the director's comments in Doctor Who Magazine, they used candlelight for light and bought special lenses for the cameras to let in more light.

I hope director Emma Sullivan (who also directed previous episode Can You Hear Me?) comes back for next season. She did a really great job on both her episodes. Ed Moore was the director of photography I think for this episode and he worked on several episodes this season. I hope he comes back too. Maxine Alderton wrote this (she writes/wrote for the soap opera Emmerdale) and I hope she returns as well

The stuff with the Cyberman was really great, though there were parts at the end I'm not sure I understood fully so a rewatch is in order.

I thought everyone performed really well here, both regular cast (especially Jodie) and the guest cast

Funny how Lord Byron kept trying to hit on the Doctor and she was like, nope. She also mentioned meeting his daughter Ada but not the circumstances

This could be said to be part of a trilogy with the 2 part finale, right?

Edited by DanaK
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18 minutes ago, DanaK said:

Funny how Lord Byron kept trying to hit on the Doctor and she was like, nope. She also mentioned meeting his daughter Ada but not the circumstances

Well she couldn't mention meeting his daughter who was being abducted by alien light creatures, bringing her to WW2 and then erasing her memory. 

Also is anyone else getting the impression that Yaz is in love with Doctor? Is that why she was being bullied at school. They also had Yaz's mom ask if the Doctor was Yaz's girlfriend in series 11. 

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4 minutes ago, Sakura12 said:

Also is anyone else getting the impression that Yaz is in love with Doctor? Is that why she was being bullied at school. They also had Yaz's mom ask if the Doctor was Yaz's girlfriend in series 11. 

It's hard to say as it seems Yaz's sexuality has not been spelled out. It's not been said why she was bullied at school. Yaz's mom probably asked because Yaz apparently hasn't had relationships or doesn't tell her family if she had and her mom was desperate and nosy to know. She also asked if Yaz and Ryan were together, so clearly she hasn't a clue what her daughter likes, in my opinion. My opinion regarding the Doctor is that Yaz has a bit of a crush on her and looks up to her as a woman to admire and be like, partly because she wants more out of her life

Edited by DanaK
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5 minutes ago, Gimmick Genius said:

Twenty years too early for 'Victorian'! 😉

Just looked it up. Regency, right?

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Hilarious episode, I loved it actually. Poor Clare Claremont, the script attempts to give her some agency, but IRL, she was pretty much a gushing Byron groupie with not a wit of common sense---she let Byron take their daughter who he packed off to a convent school where the poor little thing died. I thought that Shelly took the premonition of his death pretty well eh? And yes, I sort of assume Yaz is crushing on the Doctor? funny after the last 2 young romantic doctors who did have "romances" of a type the show runners have kept Jodie's doctor as pretty sexless, so I was surprised that they had Bryon hit on her, and then Yaz's cryptic comment.

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This episode had a great spooky atmosphere and the look of the half-human Cyberman fit perfectly. When Mary called him a “Modern Prometheus” you could see the moment Frankenstein was born. I liked the callback to Ada Lovelace and how the Doctor was 100% done with Byron. 

It’s cool how the arrival of the Cyberman was connected to the Year Without a Summer, which was a real event where a volcanic eruption in Indonesia caused extreme weather around the world, including extreme cold, storms, and famine. 

The Doctor saying she’s often alone at the summit, left to make the hard choices was some great acting from Jodie; it’s clear how much this burden weighs on her. 

I wonder if those two ghosts Graham saw were real and if so, why he was the only one to see them. 

Also curious if we’ll find out who it was that sent the Cyberium back in time. 

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2 hours ago, Sakura12 said:

Also is anyone else getting the impression that Yaz is in love with Doctor? Is that why she was being bullied at school. They also had Yaz's mom ask if the Doctor was Yaz's girlfriend in series 11. 

Heh, there’s a not-small sector of the fandom that will rebel if this doesn’t happen.

But why wouldn’t she tell Ryan in all this time?

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Well, we got one more bizarre yet awesome-looking element in the mix along with Jack and Ruth . . . the Lone Cyberman. And the Doctor gave him what he asked for. I'm sure Jack will understand.

I'm not into English history or the horror genre in general, so a lot of the episode was lost on me. But throw in a Cyberman with only half of his face covered, and I'm a happy camper. Weird, I know.

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What really surprised me with this episode was that the Lone Cyberman showed up about halfway through the episode and was the main focus for the rest of it. I had totally expected the Cyberman to show up in the last 5 minutes or so, probably like a lot of people who expected the Cyberman to show up in the episode

I had trouble understanding the part about Shelley seeing his death, thus causing the Cyber thing to leave him. From reading a couple of recaps, it appears the Doctor caused Shelley to see his future death and made the Cyber thing think Shelley was now dead and it was time to skaddle. I guess a rewatch or two will help me better understand the last few minutes of the episode

Edited by DanaK

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3 hours ago, phalange said:

I wonder if those two ghosts Graham saw were real and if so, why he was the only one to see them. 

I'm assuming they weren't real, since Dr. Who has always been science-fiction. Anything that at first glance appears to fall under the realm of fantasy, such as ghosts, has always had an explanation which firmly fell into the genre of science-fiction. 

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Just me but I hated the first part, but loved the part after Percy Shelley appears.

The first part reminded me of Scooby Doo where everybody runs through the house trying to escape the bad guy, except instead of running, everybody is walking.

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Is this the first time that the Doctor met both father and daughter historical figures with Lord Bryon this episode and Ada Lovelace in the premiere? 

I don't know why Yaz's background is so shrouded in mystery. Even her nightmare last episode wasn't as clear as Graham and Ryan's. They only implied she was bullied but not why and that her sister makes them have an anniversary dinner for it. 

 

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20 minutes ago, Sakura12 said:

Is this the first time that the Doctor met both father and daughter historical figures with Lord Bryon this episode and Ada Lovelace in the premiere? 

We've seen the Doctor with Elizabeth I, and there are mentions to encounters with her father Henry VIII, but we haven't actually seen the latter in an episode.

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53 minutes ago, Sakura12 said:

I don't know why Yaz's background is so shrouded in mystery. Even her nightmare last episode wasn't as clear as Graham and Ryan's. They only implied she was bullied but not why and that her sister makes them have an anniversary dinner for it. 

Presumably to celebrate the anniversary of her “rebirth” of deciding to turn her life around rather than running off to commit suicide.

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It seems to me that Doctor Who has generally sided with "everybody has some importance to them" over "some people are more important and more deserving of being saved".  So it was a bit jarring for Ryan to be slapped down for suggesting that the good of the many outweighs the good of the one (Percy Shelley).

Did people really dance-gossip back in that era?  Or walk a lap around a room while chatting?  When in Rome...

Edited by futurechemist
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Some other highlights:

- Just like Can You Hear Me's animation last week, the gossip via the dance was a fun way of getting an info-dump

- The Cyberman being half finished and with emotion was effectively creepy

- The Doctor's speech about the burden of having to make the decisions and her comments in a previous scene about not wanting to lose anyone else to Cybermen when she went after the Lone Cyberman

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I loved it. Historicals definitely seem to be this era’s most consistent-strong story type, and this was a great addition.

The companions looked great in their period dress again, and even the Doctor branched out a teeny bit. I laughed at Byron, Mary Shelley, and crew being such gossipy bitches during the quadrille, the banter over the duel with Dr. Polidori, and Graham being continually caught off guard by the arrival of the servants (and/or ghosts.) I also liked the Doctor having zero time for Byron’s flirting and that “no one snog Byron!” was one of the gang’s ground rules when they arrived.

Some nice creepiness too. I like how things came together with the Lone Cyberman and Percy Shelley, and Mary’s scenes with it were great. When the Doctor was so vehement in making everyone stay behind, saying she wasn’t going to lose anyone else to the Cybermen, I wondered if she was thinking of Bill.

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1 hour ago, angora said:

When the Doctor was so vehement in making everyone stay behind, saying she wasn’t going to lose anyone else to the Cybermen, I wondered if she was thinking of Bill.

Or Rose, in a manner of speaking. 

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1 hour ago, angora said:

ed it. Historicals definitely seem to be this era’s most consistent-strong story type, and this was a great addition.

Once the show runner decided to stay on earth this season/series the only way to be a TARDIS is to travel in time. Plus it seems every other planet they’ve been to has been decimated.  Last season it was the Stenza, this season it’s the Master and us, possibly, doing the damage to planets.

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19 hours ago, Sakura12 said:

Also is anyone else getting the impression that Yaz is in love with Doctor? Is that why she was being bullied at school. They also had Yaz's mom ask if the Doctor was Yaz's girlfriend in series 11. 

I was definitely feeling deja vu with Martha Jones' unrequited crush on Ten.

2 hours ago, angora said:

When the Doctor was so vehement in making everyone stay behind, saying she wasn’t going to lose anyone else to the Cybermen, I wondered if she was thinking of Bill.

Most likely, though as gonzosgirrl stated above, the Cybermen could also be partially blamed for the Doctor losing Rose. And Adric died because of the Cybermen as well (no big loss imho, but the Doctor might feel differently).

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3 hours ago, futurechemist said:

Did people really dance-gossip back in that era?  Or walk a lap around a room while chatting?  When in Rome...

They sure did in Pride and Prejudice, especially the BBC version.

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On 2/17/2020 at 8:06 AM, Joe Hellandback said:

5. So who were the 'ghosts'? Just a cheap gag or do they have some greater significance weeping angel/Doctor's mum style. 

Cheap gag and the only thing about this episode I really didn't like. 

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38 minutes ago, AudienceofOne said:
On 2/16/2020 at 4:06 PM, Joe Hellandback said:

5. So who were the 'ghosts'? Just a cheap gag or do they have some greater significance weeping angel/Doctor's mum style. 

Cheap gag and the only thing about this episode I really didn't like. 

IMHO, the Doctor has spent centuries showing that people’s “monsters “ are creatures from space; GITF, the creature in Vincent’s painting, and others. so, for Dr Who , the writers, to still keep human’s ghosts real for Graham is a deliberate statement not a gag.

I totally would have seen those creepy twin girls from the Shining and no Doctor would explain it away to me in that haunted house; so, different strokes...

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When Byron hid behind Claire I had to give the show some side-eye. While he did have his...er...flaws, I had never heard that being a physical coward was one of them.

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5 hours ago, CatWarmer said:

They sure did in Pride and Prejudice, especially the BBC version.

That's all I remember from the books. The Doctor dancing was super cute. And the butler was very much a butler.

Spooky Doctor Who is my favorite Doctor Who whether the past or future. The costumes were great too.

I know the 'doctor' had a short fuse, but Ryan never seemed like one to mouth off like that.

7 hours ago, angora said:

Graham being continually caught off guard by the arrival of the servants (and/or ghosts.)

He was thrilled that they brought food though. Good callback joke.

I thought Byron was a little on the smarmy side of cheeky, but the Doctor so *not* was funny. Maybe it was the actor's choice, but I like a Byron with a little dash and charm.

The only other take I have seen on tv for the origins of Frankenstein was on Highlander (a very Methos centric episode), but both shows I think have done well weaving their themes with Shelley and Frankenstein.

Here, the house was supposed to be a ghost house, but it basically wasn't.

Great line readings in this one too. Graham kind of stole his scenes.

The cyberman was some sort of reverse Terminator look.

8 hours ago, futurechemist said:

It seems to me that Doctor Who has generally sided with "everybody has some importance to them" over "some people are more important and more deserving of being saved".  So it was a bit jarring for Ryan to be slapped down for suggesting that the good of the many outweighs the good of the one (Percy Shelley).

I'm not sure that exactly what she was saying, but I do think it's fair for Ryan to bring up the point. The Doctor was saying that Shelley's words basically give birth to the universe as we know it, so it's weighing all those lives against the ones killed by the cybermen.

I did like the Doctor getting very old school and yelling at everyone. Though it seems like it's ok when the Doctor plays the angry god, than when the angry gods were doing it last week. 

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23 hours ago, DanaK said:

I really liked this. It was a good historical, spooky, funny, and wrapped in with Cyberman stuff. Plus we got a cold open

I appreciated that we (or I for sure) could see what was going on in spite of it being night most of the time. According to the director's comments in Doctor Who Magazine, they used candlelight for light and bought special lenses for the cameras to let in more light.

Glad you mentioned this!  I thought the lighting was fantastic -- no obvious electric lights on set, just the candles to make things really look the way they would have back in 1816.  Well done show.

Also loved the skeleton hand,  Glad it went straight for Ryan's throat, possibly to shut him up (and save his life?).  Too bad about the dead servants but thank goodness the main characters decided, for once, to acknowledge the background characters who didn't make it.

If every episode were of this quality I'd be a satisfied Doctor Who watcher.  It's been years, I think, since they've come anywhere near something like Midnight but I'll take what I can get.

Though really, who tries to crash a small private party emptyhanded?    I had a very hard time believing our friends would have been accepted the way they were.  If they had at least shown up with a case of fine Italian wine or something I could have bought it.  

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3 hours ago, DoctorAtomic said:

I'm not sure that exactly what she was saying, but I do think it's fair for Ryan to bring up the point. The Doctor was saying that Shelley's words basically give birth to the universe as we know it, so it's weighing all those lives against the ones killed by the cybermen.

She was saying that the literature of Shelley was influential enough that its absence would so radically change the future that it could lead even to her companions not being born. That she had a choice between a future being killed by the Cybermen or being destroyed by her in stopping them. She chose to keep that future intact for now in the hope she can stop the Cybermen later. It was, as always, her decision since she's the only one who can see the consequences of her actions in terms of the timeline.

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They have really been having a lot of success with their historical themed episode, I have really liked all of them, and this was a really spooky, fun outing, very Gothic romance, which is appropriate considering the guest stars! It had a good mix of humor, drama, spookiness, history, and of course, the Lone Cyberman. Plus, I love this whole era of British literature, so I got a real kick out of seeing Byron and the Shellys and company getting dragged into a Doctor Who adventure, especially during this very important party. 

I do admit that I kept thinking that Byron's pet bear was going to show up and attack the Cyberman! I did love the collection of skulls and helmets from battlefields (and the Doctors excitement for her hat!) and Byron hitting on the Doctor the whole time and her not having it. Rule number one, no snogging Byron! 

Also loved the reference to the Doctor meeting Byron's daughter Ada Lovelace in the premier, she doesent too often get to meet two historical relatives in two different time periods in two different episodes! Unless you count the various European royals, many of whom are some kind of related or another. 

I thought that them tying Mary Shelly's Frankenstein into the Cyberman was a cool idea, and I can certainly see the connection, with them being patchwork people and basically being the walking corpses of the people that they have converted, and the creature from Frankenstein, the sewn together parts of dead men given life. 

Gotta hand it to the romantics, they survive a crazy and nightmarish encounter with a monster from beyond the stars, and are like "I should write a book/poem about this!" You could see the moment that inspiration struck Mary when during the Postmodern Prometheus speech. It is interesting that apparently Percy and Mary lived the rest of Percy's life knowing that he was inevitably going to drown, even if they presumably dont know when. Its also sad to know that, while little William might have survived his Cyberman encounter, he only has a few more years before he dies of malaria. 

So does Yaz have a bit of a crush on the Doctor? It sounded like she maybe does, and she certainly wouldn't be the first companion to have romantic feelings towards the Doctor.  

Heheh, Mrs. Doctor. 

The gossip dance was funny, and an easy way to drop a ton of exposition really fast without it being super awkward. I guess it was the Regency equivalent to people in a room now texting each other about the other people in the room! 

The lighting and atmosphere was really great, very spooky and "a dark and stormy night", I am not surprised that they did so much work to get that look behind the scenes, and the effects blended in quite well. I am super interested in the Lone Cyberman and what his goal is, he looks really creepy and gives some major uncanny valley, its a creative new look for the Cybermen. So now that we are going into the Lone Cyberman plot, is Jack coming back?! 

The Doctor got some pretty intense scenes this week, especially her freak out about the Cybermen and her speech about making hard choices and being alone dealing with everything that she has to do. I thought right away of Bill and that that is one of the reasons that Cybermen are clearly such a sore topic for her, but there was also Rose, and even Adric going back, and what happened with them was also related to the Cybermen. I guess she would certainly have baggage, they are probably her second greatest enemy, after the Daleks. 

Edited by tennisgurl
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Along with Vinay Patel and Pete McTighe, I'd be happy for Maxine Alderton to come back and write for the show yet again. This was an excellent episode.

The Lone Cybermen was very well done, they had a good set up for the finale and the companions felt useful as well, even if Graham did have to go to the toilet.

The darker Doctor stuff works and her scenes with Ashad were actually interesting to watch.

Nice use of the Shelleys, Lord Byron, Dr Polidari and so on.

Easily the best historical episode this series has done so far, 9/10

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Apparently Nick Briggs voiced the Cyberman

Is this really the first time we see someone hitting on 13?

Surely the Doctor should have at least tried to kill the Cyberman at some point

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1 hour ago, darkestboy said:

The Lone Cybermen was very well done, they had a good set up for the finale and the companions felt useful as well, even if Graham did have to go to the toilet.

Heh, I'm not one for scatological humor, but ingestion and excretion is one of the required characteristics of any living being so,:

  • Do they eat food on the TARDIS? (I don't mean Star Trek, replicated, space food)
  • there must be toilets near the jacuzzi on the TARDIS, right?
  • there must be beds on the TARDIS?
    • I only remember the Eleventh trying to convince the newlywed Ponds to go with the bunk beds; "It's a bed, with a ladder, you can't do better than that", lol.
Edited by Eulipian 5k · Reason: toypo
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14 hours ago, Terrafamilia said:

When Byron hid behind Claire I had to give the show some side-eye. While he did have his...er...flaws, I had never heard that being a physical coward was one of them.

It's hard for me to reconcile a Byron hiding behind a woman with the one that goes off to help Greece fight for independence from the Ottoman Empire.

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I enjoyed it, even loved some of it! I'm a sucker for Goth and creepies.  And finally it didn't feel like the characters were just spinning their wheels. I may have been confused on plot points at times but at least the drama and melodrama took the attention away from the bits where I was thinking '...eh??' And I did laugh out loud at a couple of places, usually the humour feels forced. Having some real (?) ghosts was a nice touch. 

But I did realize that I wouldn't be nearly sophisticated enough for one of Byron's parties. Loved the eye-roll from the butler before he opened the door to whatever Byron and Claire were doing on the floor.  

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The Guardian's 2016 article may have inspired this episode:

How the year without summer gave us dark masterpieces,

Clouds from a huge volcano plunged the world into endless winter in 1816. Crops failed, famine and disease spread – and great poets and composers of the day responded with works of gloomy genius.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/jun/16/1816-year-without-summer-dark-masterpieces-beethoven-schubert-shelley?CMP=share_btn_link

Tooth & Claw The Unicorn & The Wasp did the same with Agatha Christie's fugue state disappearance; finding a historical mystery for the Doctor to exploit.

Edited by Eulipian 5k · Reason: ewwps

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So the Year Without Summer is a real thing, a fixed event in time. But the Doctor's idea of taking the fam to this particular day was seemingly random, an adventure. Does this imply that if they had not been there, the Cyberman would have killed Shelly to retrieve the Cyberium? Did the Doctor change the future by showing up and saving him?

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18 minutes ago, gonzosgirrl said:

So the Year Without Summer is a real thing, a fixed event in time. But the Doctor's idea of taking the fam to this particular day was seemingly random, an adventure. Does this imply that if they had not been there, the Cyberman would have killed Shelly to retrieve the Cyberium? Did the Doctor change the future by showing up and saving him?

We know from Jack's warning that, from his point of view, the Doctor encountering the Lone Cyberman had already happened, a fact of history, which Jack was trying to change, so...you could drive yourself mad trying to follow the convolutions of time travel shenanigans!

But since the Doctor knew the future in which Shelley did not die that non-summer's night in 1816, I guess her showing up and saving him was always a fact of history, even before she knew it, so to speak. She just didn't know she'd done it until she did.

Edited by Llywela
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I thought Thirteen was being pretty flippant about being so willing to bond with the Cyberium, after what happened with Eleven and Cyber-tech in "Nightmare in Silver".

Edited by QuantumMechanic
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I've enjoyed this whole season (except for the second half of Orphan 55, which was so friggin' lame) more than any since the pre-Capaldi days! This episode was no exception.

Never a big Cybermen fan, but the Lone Cyberman was wonderfully creepy, as was the entire episode.

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