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S11.E08: The Witchfinders

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The Doctor, Ryan, Graham, and Yaz arrive in 17th century Lancashire and become embroiled in a witch trial, run by the local landowner. As fear stalks the land, the arrival of King James I only serves to intensify the witch hunt. But is there something even more dangerous at work? Can the Doctor and friends keep the people of Bilehurst Cragg safe from all the forces that are massing in the land?

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Not sure King James' reign was particularly noted for its witch hunts* (though it's about the right period for it), though I guess the ending would sort of explain that, in a hand wavy kind of way. Good historical accuracy in saying they would hang the witch rather than burn her, which was accurate for England at the time. Also good historical accuracy in pointing out just how precarious James I must have felt his throne was, given all the deaths he was surrounded by (including the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, which they referenced). And the perils of waving around the old psychic paper were shown as it's all very well claiming you have authority, but you'll be in trouble if the real authorities show up. Also, I don't know how King James managed to recognise Ezekiel 25.17 - whatever Jules Winfield says, the quote from Pulp Fiction is nothing like the actual verse.

Also, as an old school fan, I was wondering if The Malice was involved (a few years later, but it is an alien war machine). And nice continuity on the Doctor having met Houdini - Jon Pertwee (Three) always said he had.

* OK, I was wrong, Apparently James I of Great Britain (when he was still just James VI of Scotland) got personally involved in the North Berwick Witch Trial of 1590 and wrote a book on the subject. So kudos to the writers!

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Strong episode. I've always liked a good historical.

I do miss the days when the companions made an effort to dress appropriately, when they knew they were going back in time, instead of just strolling around in their anachronistic jeans and leather jackets with no one commenting on it.

I like how the show is handling the Doctor's gender change, just being completely matter of fact about it - I was worried how it would pan out, given how nudge-nudge-wink-wink they always were about the Master turning into Missy.

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Christ!! THAT performance by Alan Cumming!!! I started laughing everytime he opened his mouth. Even Anthony Ainley would be looking at that performance and saying it was a trifle florid.

Alan certainly raised what would otherwise be a rather ho-hum episode into a giggle-fest. All this episode was missing was a final "Zoicks!!" as James watched the TARDIS dematerialise.

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31 minutes ago, HauntedBathroom said:

THAT performance by Alan Cumming!!! I started laughing everytime he opened his mouth. Even Anthony Ainley would be looking at that performance and saying it was a trifle florid.

Not entirely historically inaccurate either - it was said on the death of Elizabeth I and accession of James I that, "England has lost a King and gained a Queen". He was also "rather fond" of the Duke of Buckingham. That said, he did manage to produce several legitimate heirs, which is more than Elizabeth ever did. But yes, Alan Cumming was clearly having fun with the part (and why not)!

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Okay that wasnt perfect, it had flawed (pacing issues I mostly blame on schedule and budget).

But damn, it was good.

Yeah, the ending was rushed and campy (but we love Doctor Who for the occasional campiness right ?), but otherwise, the scenery, the characters, the acting, the themes... I truly believe this will remain a memorable episode of the series.

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Yes it is accepted pretty much that King James preferred men (believe me I have known a couple of gay men who produced children that you would never guess had ever touched a woman let alone have intercourse with her, James was expected to do his job and father heirs and so he was clearly up for it--pun intended!) Cummings being camp and mildly flirting with Ryan is about as close as they could get to the essential truth of King James considering that DW is still a children's program technically, Speaking of which, I don't believe that historically James I is considered a bad Monarch so I was slightly offended by his portrayal (I am a Yank but I love history so have watched various docs on the British Monarchy). I did not like this episode, too preachy and the Doctor seemed shocked on how women were treated in previous time periods---even though he/she has traveled for centuries and has landed back in various centuries where women were subordinate and expected to keep quiet and keep docile? The clothing issue really bothers me too especially Yaz with her trousers, believe it or not in the 19thc and early 20thc women could be cited for indecency if they wore trousers. Just blech on this one as far as I am concerned.

Edited by LiveenLetLive
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That was a highly entertaining episode, with good bits of comedy and drama. The guest stars, especially Cumming, did a really nice job

Poor Doctor can't always bull her way through situations now that she's a woman and the writing did a nice job of the historical problems that a woman would face

27 minutes ago, LiveenLetLive said:

and the Doctor seemed shocked on how women were treated in previous time periods---even though he/she has traveled for centuries and has landed back in various centuries where women were subordinate and expected to keep quiet and keep docile?

True, but maybe she thought she could just force her way into authority as she typically does and didn't think it would affect her like normal humans. Maybe as her former Doctors, they just didn't think about it until it was happening to her

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I wouldn't mind seeing Cumming make a return. You really had to feel sorry for the King given all the tragedy in his life. He just took things too far given his sorrow and fear

I'll admit the resolution was a bit quick. The accused women who were killed weren't returned alive were they? That was a bit confusing during the battle. I'm pretty sure the grandmother remained dead

According to at least one review, the weather was pretty miserable during filming. Poor Jodie obviously was wet much of the episode so that's taking one for the team

Edited by DanaK
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Definitely Jodie's strongest episode to date.  Really enjoyed the scene with The Doctor and King James where she tries to appeal to him to let her go.  Liked the end and I liked the Willa (was that her name?) character.  She would have been an interesting historical companion although sadly I don't think the show will ever go in the direction again.

That being said, I was disappointed with this episode once again.  It had many of the weaknesses of this season...unmemorable and poorly-developed villains/monsters, excessive and dull exposition and poor use of the companions.  The Doctor had little interaction with them throughout most of the episodes and one-on-one scenes with her and the companions seems to be virtually non-existent.  I thought (and hoped) that the villain would turn out of be a Krynoid (from The Seeds of Doom) but I should have realized that wouldn't be the case.  I don't mind new villains for this season but why do they have to be so unmemorable and boring?

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21 minutes ago, benteen said:

Really enjoyed the scene with The Doctor and King James where she tries to appeal to him to let her go. 

That for me was probably the strongest scene in the episode. Even though the Doctor is an alien, her contention that, essentially, all beings want security and love rang felt pretty real

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30 minutes ago, DanaK said:

According to at least one review, the weather was pretty miserable during filming. Poor Jodie obviously was wet much of the episode so that's taking one for the team

You could see her steaming when wet in one scene. Had to have been miserable.

36 minutes ago, DanaK said:

That was a highly entertaining episode, with good bits of comedy and drama. The guest stars, especially Cumming, did a really nice job

Poor Doctor can't always bull her way through situations now that she's a woman and the writing did a nice job of the historical problems that a woman would face

True, but maybe she thought she could just force her way into authority as she typically does and didn't think it would affect her like normal humans. Maybe as her former Doctors, they just didn't think about it until it was happening to her

The Doctor has always forced his way through things. He ignores decorum rank, and rules. I suspect, as a woman, she felt like she could do the same. 

I agree that the odd decision not to dress to the period is a bit strange. Perhaps they want to keep the Doctor in trousers, but it is a strange choice and they don't even try to justify it. They were trying for a historic adventure, so it isn't like they thought they were heading to the 1980s. 

I loved this one. Enjoyed the bad guys. The creepy zombie makeup and makeup for the queen were really cool. We finally got some helpful and interesting Yaz content. i really liked Willa and I was glad the Doctor's insistence that she stay didn't get her killed. Also, agreed that King James was great as written and acted. 

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2 minutes ago, The Companion said:

I agree that the odd decision not to dress to the period is a bit strange. Perhaps they want to keep the Doctor in trousers, but it is a strange choice and they don't even try to justify it. 

I'm fanwanking that, just as the Tardis gives them the ability to speak the language of whatever country they're in, it also makes their clothing appear appropriate to the time period. It gave Matt Smith's doctor clothing that only Clara saw, for a while, so it has the capability.  Actually, I'm surprised there hasn't been a throwaway line about it. 

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This was a fun episode. Basic "Protagonists stumble upon a witch hunt" plot, only aliens are involved, and it still worked. Bonuses: the Doctor being dubbed "alluring," and Graham wearing the Chief Witchfinder Hat. It did not go with the rest of his clothes, and that's why it was funny.

I kept wondering what King James was doing in the Colonies, then I had to remind myself they were in England. Looks like witches were a "problem" on both sides of the pond.

Only two more episodes left? Where does the time go? Don't answer that. While I haven't been blown away this season/series, there have been enough good moments to sustain me.

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I could sense the Doctor's frustration every time she got condescended to by King James or was relegated to being the assistant witchfinder. "Being patronized to death" is, unfortunately, still so relatable. Also, her increasing exasperation every time King James or Becca blamed issues on "satan." 

Alan Cumming was clearly having a great time in the role, and it showed. His scenes with Ryan, in particular, were great. I laughed at Ryan's, "Okay, that's worse."

I'm not too bothered about the lack of historically appropriate clothing. Given the time period, they probably just assumed the Doctor and co. were people from a far away location with strange fashion sense. Or the TARDIS somehow makes them appear as though they're wearing accurate clothing the same way it translates languages and the Doctor's magic paper says whatever it needs to. 

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2 hours ago, LiveenLetLive said:

The clothing issue really bothers me too

 

1 hour ago, rur said:

I'm fanwanking that, just as the Tardis gives them the ability to speak the language of whatever country they're in, it also makes their clothing appear appropriate to the time period. It gave Matt Smith's doctor clothing that only Clara saw, for a while, so it has the capability.  Actually, I'm surprised there hasn't been a throwaway line about it. 

 

1 hour ago, The Companion said:

I agree that the odd decision not to dress to the period is a bit strange. Perhaps they want to keep the Doctor in trousers, but it is a strange choice and they don't even try to justify it. They were trying for a historic adventure

 

I agree with y'all regarding the series, but that was actually addressed in the dialogue of this episode. King James looks the crew over -- I may be transcribing this a little wrong because his accent was unclear to me -- and says "Peculiar rags there, silks. And such strange garments. Are you actors?" Though a throwaway line lampshading the issue isn't enough to make the issue go away.

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I guess the story was fine, I did enjoy the overt performance of Alan Cumming. The alien energy blast and only Graham lying on the ground had me thinking I had missed a scene, so a rewound to make sure I hadn't. The explanation of why chopping the tree up, setting it on fire and shoving the flaming log into the tree stump reactivated the locking mechanism of the prison left me even more confused. I could have accepted that if the top of the tree, which held the power source, was brought back to the trunk, the nanites would knit the tree back together. Lightning strikes kept the artificial tree's power source charged through the millennia.

Were they saying duck or dunk the witch? Close captions said duck.

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23 minutes ago, AnimeMania said:

I guess the story was fine, I did enjoy the overt performance of Alan Cumming. The alien energy blast and only Graham lying on the ground had me thinking I had missed a scene, so a rewound to make sure I hadn't. The explanation of why chopping the tree up, setting it on fire and shoving the flaming log into the tree stump reactivated the locking mechanism of the prison left me even more confused. I could have accepted that if the top of the tree, which held the power source, was brought back to the trunk, the nanites would knit the tree back together. Lightning strikes kept the artificial tree's power source charged through the millennia.

Were they saying duck or dunk the witch? Close captions said duck.

They were saying "Duck" which is the historically correct term. We've changed it to "dunk", here in the Colonies, lol.

Honestly, I hated it.  First one I've really disliked.  Couldn't handwave the clothes or the fact that a woman--who would NEVER have been a "surgeon" (historically correct term) in that time period, just couldn't. And get pissed off every time they just ignore the fact that no woman would be seen without a bonnet on, let alone running around in pants/culottes or whatever it is.  Stop it, show.  Get around it by dressing them in somewhat proper costume or at least for those shows where it's obviously way in our past--if she says shes the Doctor--have them correct her and address it better, right there and then...women just were not doctors before the 1900s, anywhere in the world.  Bothers me when Outlander does it, bother's me in Doctor Who, too.  Women didn't chop down trees, or act as chief inquisitors, either.  We had no personal power, and hand waving it doesn't make it so.  Even if it's a kid's show, the premise was good, but it was just not a good one for me. 

ETA-I've been on this earth as long as The Doctor (1960s), times have changed a whole lot for us. 

I really like Jodie's character a lot, love the team but stories have sucked a bit.

Edited by whoknowswho · Reason: had more to say
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The above post was my first of this new season. 

Graham slays me sometimes with his "The Doc" . lol. Have liked this season as a whole, I just didn't love this episode.  Jodie is killing it, she's a female Matt Smith to me (I loved him), all new, elbows and corners, and not angsty. She has no dark notes in her and that is a shame, the character is now funny, brilliant, anti-everything that was Peter Capaldi!  The Doctor needs to have some darkness within him or her. Whether male or female, he's still an old soul who's lived a long and storied life.  I miss a bit of darkness in my Doctor.

Edited by whoknowswho · Reason: ARGH I need sleep sorry...
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3 hours ago, rur said:

I'm fanwanking that, just as the Tardis gives them the ability to speak the language of whatever country they're in, it also makes their clothing appear appropriate to the time period. It gave Matt Smith's doctor clothing that only Clara saw, for a while, so it has the capability.  Actually, I'm surprised there hasn't been a throwaway line about it. 

Don't mistake a throwaway gag in one episode for a permanent feature of the show. The TARDIS has never 'disguised' its occupants to look appropriate in any given timezone before - if they know they are going to the past, they usually dress accordingly. And have fun doing so - remember Rose's excitement at dressing up for the Victorian era, her first trip to the past.

I have decided that the biggest problem I have with Thirteen is her overuse of the word 'presumably'. She says it All. The. Time. Like, twice in one short speech, so that it really stands out. And sure, the Doctor is usually guessing, extrapolating, making explanations up as they go along, but they aren't usually so obvious about it! It makes her seem really uncertain, where the Doctor would more normally project confidence.

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Alan Cummings was having an obviously great time playing King James, and I also hope he makes a return kind of like how the show used to bring back Churchill now and again.  Siobhan Finneran was also at her nasty best, she was great in Downton Abbey as the similarly treacherous Sarah O'Brien.  During the dunking scene I couldn't help but think of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and was waiting for someone in the crowd to shout out, "She turned me into a newt!  ...I got better."

Edited by Dobian
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Not entirely historically inaccurate either - it was said on the death of Elizabeth I and accession of James I that, "England has lost a King and gained a Queen". He was also "rather fond" of the Duke of Buckingham.

I could see the subtext Cummings was putting in the performance and wondered if in real life James was supposed to be not quite hetero or if Cummings was playing around, but if that was the score, then Cummings nailed it. Thanks for the info.  

Enjoyed the episode and liked the alien possession of the dead etc.  Not quite as creepy as "are you my mumy?" but then what is.

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3 hours ago, owenthurman said:

 

 

 

I agree with y'all regarding the series, but that was actually addressed in the dialogue of this episode. King James looks the crew over -- I may be transcribing this a little wrong because his accent was unclear to me -- and says "Peculiar rags there, silks. And such strange garments. Are you actors?" Though a throwaway line lampshading the issue isn't enough to make the issue go away.

I missed that line. 

Still though, even if the characters don’t want to wear fully period appropriate clothing (because it’s not always going to be the most comfortable or practical), at least have the TARDIS rustle up a coat or cloak or something that looks ‘right’, so they don’t end up standing out so much. 

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1 hour ago, Dobian said:

Siobhan Finneran was also at her nasty best, she was great in Downton Abbey as the similarly treacherous Sarah O'Brien

I laughed out loud when I recognized her then had to explain to the family what I had found funny.  I had hoped she would play against type but not to be.

Who was the actress playing Willa?  She looked familiar but I could not place her.

6 hours ago, LiveenLetLive said:

even though he/she has traveled for centuries and has landed back in various centuries where women were subordinate and expected to keep quiet and keep docile? The clothing issue really bothers me too especially Yaz with her trousers, believe it or not in the 19thc and early 20thc women could be cited for indecency if they wore trousers

I pointed this out to my daughter as I did during the Rosa Parks episode that they were really hand waving the issues with costuming and how women were generally treated.  It bugged me way back when Martha was running around with Ten and Shakespeare.    I can understand the writers not wanting to be "bogged down" by having it come up every historical episode but they really need to address the elephant in the room.  They finally did in this episode have the Doctor make a comment about "when I was a bloke..."

2 hours ago, Llywela said:

Don't mistake a throwaway gag in one episode for a permanent feature of the show. The TARDIS has never 'disguised' its occupants to look appropriate in any given timezone before - if they know they are going to the past, they usually dress accordingly. And have fun doing so - remember Rose's excitement at dressing up for the Victorian era, her first trip to the past.

That was such a cheap and gag-worthy gag.  We know that the TARDIS has an extensive wardrobe, it has been mentioned more than once or am I mis-remembering?

I recall Rose seemed to enjoy dressing up in 50s style clothing too.  My favorite of the nuWho was when Donna got to dress up in "The Wasp and the Unicorn".

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8 hours ago, LiveenLetLive said:

Yes it is accepted pretty much that King James preferred men (believe me I have known a couple of gay men who produced children that you would never guess had ever touched a woman let alone have intercourse with her, James was expected to do his job and father heirs and so he was clearly up for it--pun intended!) Cummings being camp and mildly flirting with Ryan is about as close as they could get to the essential truth of King James considering that DW is still a children's program technically, Speaking of which, I don't believe that historically James I is considered a bad Monarch so I was slightly offended by his portrayal (I am a Yank but I love history so have watched various docs on the British Monarchy). I did not like this episode, too preachy and the Doctor seemed shocked on how women were treated in previous time periods---even though he/she has traveled for centuries and has landed back in various centuries where women were subordinate and expected to keep quiet and keep docile? The clothing issue really bothers me too especially Yaz with her trousers, believe it or not in the 19thc and early 20thc women could be cited for indecency if they wore trousers. Just blech on this one as far as I am concerned.

 

I didn't think he was portrayed particularly harshly, he was quite a sympathetic figure, especially the scene where he spoke of his families epic bad luck. Nice to see him use the term lassie too as he was actually Scottish but became the king of England upon his cousin Elizabeth's death, an important step towards the UK. . 

Great fun, the best ep so far with Alan Cumming stealing the show in no uncertain terms. Nice Arthur C Clarke quote at the end too. First of this season I've watched twice. One failing, the Doc's hair seems to recover awfully fast from her duckings but maybe that's a Gallifreyan thing?

Edited by Joe Hellandback
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1 hour ago, MDKNIGHT said:

I could see the subtext Cummings was putting in the performance and wondered if in real life James was supposed to be not quite hetero or if Cummings was playing around, but if that was the score, then Cummings nailed it. Thanks for the info.  

Enjoyed the episode and liked the alien possession of the dead etc.  Not quite as creepy as "are you my mumy?" but then what is.

It's pretty much all speculation, people have said the same about William of Orange but truthfully there's no proof one way or the other. One thing I did like was when the Doc accuses James of hiding behind his identity as the King and he accuses her of the same. And she doesn't reply, just gives him a little look, echoes of the McCoy era.  

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30 minutes ago, Joe Hellandback said:

It's pretty much all speculation, people have said the same about William of Orange but truthfully there's no proof one way or the other. One thing I did like was when the Doc accuses James of hiding behind his identity as the King and he accuses her of the same. And she doesn't reply, just gives him a little look, echoes of the McCoy era.  

We will never know for sure, sure - but given the existence of letters in which James referred to Buckingham as his 'husband', 'sweetheart', and the one he loved 'more than anyone else', explicitly writing that 'I desire to live in this world only for your sake', not to mention constructing secret tunnels to connect their bedchambers...it does seem pretty safe to presume that they were more than just good friends!

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Well, it’s nice to see the doctor didn’t let the abuse dampen her spirits at all. She seemed to just take it all in her stride.

She’s accused of being a witch. But she’s still gonna give the king a good speech. The silly humans just tried to drown her. Never mind. She just pops out of the water next minute “looking for me?” And gets on with the job.

It’s not like she hasn’t been through worse.

Edited by rogvortex58
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2 hours ago, elle said:

<snip>

Who was the actress playing Willa?  She looked familiar but I could not place her.

I pointed this out to my daughter as I did during the Rosa Parks episode that they were really hand waving the issues with costuming and how women were generally treated.  It bugged me way back when Martha was running around with Ten and Shakespeare.  <snip>

I recall Rose seemed to enjoy dressing up in 50s style clothing too.  <snip>

Tilly Steele, the actress who played Willa, was also in "The Crown". She played Cleary. Is that where you saw her? 

According to IMDB, she also acted in two other series; "Doctors", and "C.B. Strike" (I'm not familiar with those programs).

Regarding Martha and Shakespeare: didn't Shakespeare call Martha a "Nubian princess" (or Nubian something?). My memory was jogged when King James called Ryan a Nubian Prince...

Rose and her joy at wearing the 50's garb was exactly what I was thinking, too, in reference to companions dressing for the time period.

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25 minutes ago, rogvortex58 said:

She’s accused of being a witch. But she’s still gonna give the king a good speech. The silly humans just tried to drown her. Never mind. She just pops out of the water next minute “looking for me?” And gets on with the job.

The Doctor get plenty of practice holding his/her breath every time he/she gets thrown out of the TARDIS into space.

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Add me to the list of those getting increasingly annoyed by the clothes issue. The show has never been consistent about that though. While the episode with Rose getting excited about her Victorian gown was during Ten's tenure during Nine's one and only (sniff) season it was Rose's not period-appropriate Jeans IIRC that spiked Captain Jack's interest (among other things).

I liked that they placed the witch hunt in the correct time-period and not the Middle Ages. A reference or shout-out to Macbeth would have been neat - but maybe it was there and I missed it. Dialogues are often quite frantic.

And it's about time the show addresses the fact that 13 has to face problems none of the other Doctors had to deal with when travelling to the (patriarchal) past.

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I really loved this one. Very creepy, would've been an absolutely perfect Halloween episode if we're being honest.

A welcome change this series having a female antagonist with Becka Savage and the Morax Queen. The Mud Witches looked pretty fantastic too if I'm being honest.

King James - love that he fancied Ryan and their scenes in general. I also liked that he then chose to listen with the Doctor as well. Alan Cumming was on absolutely fine form here as well.

Great moments with the Doctor struggling with the era and being accused of being a witch. Yasmin and Graham had some lovely moments as well. 9/10

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I really enjoyed it.  I would've preferred the Doctor to seem a little less SURPRISED by the sexism, and the companions felt a bit underused in terms of contributing to the actions, but I liked how the mystery rolled out and resolved.  Alan Cumming as King James I was such a blast, but the character brought some definite nuance too - that one-on-one scene between him and the Doctor was worth the price of admission.

As soon as they lifted the ducking stool and the Doctor wasn't there, I hoped we were in for a Houdini reference.  The Doctor didn't disappoint!  I liked Yaz opening up about having been bullied at school, and I enjoyed Ryan low-key bonding with King James (I also appreciated that he mostly just took the flirting in stride.)

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I don’t think The Doctor was surprised by the sexism as merely annoyed by it.  All this could be handled allot quicker if you just listen to me.....

Took me a second to realize that King James  was hitting on Ryan.   The clothes issue doesn’t bother me at all.   The Doctor has never/rarely changed out of whatever outfit chosen....why has it sudden become an issue now??????   It’s a minor nitpick a d not really even relevant to the story. 

Edited by Chaos Theory
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1 hour ago, Chaos Theory said:

I don’t think The Doctor was surprised by the sexism as merely annoyed by it.  All this could be handled allot quicker if you just listen to me.....

Yeah, I didn't think the Doctor was necessarily surprised by the sexism, so much as taken aback to suddenly find herself on the receiving end of it. It simply never applied to her before - as men, her previous selves would have known it existed, in an intellectual sense, but never directly experienced it, therefore never really internalised what it could mean for those who do experience it. The Doctor has always been able to just stride in and take over, has done even in historical adventures so far this season, so experiencing the rougher end of being a woman in history came as a short, sharp shock to her here. Like, it had simply never occurred to her that she might have a problem in a place like this, because she never has before. And I like that, I like that different aspects of the gender switch are being explored, and in such a down-to-earth way. A few episodes ago, we saw the Doctor full of delight at Umbreen's hen party, a female bonding experience that she would never have had access to before, so here she found herself face-to-face with the flipside, so to speak.

Although even the male Doctors have had times when they struggled to exert their authority over certain situations, in various places and times - just never before because of their gender. Except for that one time when the First Doctor came up against an intensely matriarchal society...

1 hour ago, Chaos Theory said:

Took me a second to realize that King James  was hitting on Ryan.   The clothes issue doesn’t bother me at all.   The Doctor has never/rarely changed out of whatever outfit chosen....why has it sudden become an issue now??????   It’s a minor nitpick a d not really even relevant to the story. 

Period appropriate clothing has never really been an issue for the Doctor, partly because so many of them have worn eccentric and old-fashioned outfits that just about passed muster almost anywhere they went and partly just because things are Different For Men - but it often has been an issue for female companions. Remember how shocked Queen Victoria was to encounter Rose, wearing dungaree shorts. And here, they were aiming for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, where they had to know they would stand out like so many sore thumbs. They should and could have dressed appropriately, because not doing so was just asking for trouble. If you want to blend in and experience history without interfering in it...then it helps if you make some effort to, you know, actually blend in. And the TARDIS has an extensive wardrobe, so why not play dress up? Many companions in the past have had fun dressing for historical adventures, and it does add something to the realism of an episode when they do so - women walking around in trousers was hugely anachronistic in early 17th century England, something that would have shocked most people they encountered, and pointing that out is entirely relevant to this story.

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Add me to the list who enjoyed this episode, all the more for Alan Cumming's King James. Confession time: I am thoroughly non-religious and admittedly slept through many a history class in school - as such, I never really knew that the "King James Bible" referred to an actual king. Doh!

I continue to love Jodie's Doctor and for me she gets better with every outing. I will be sorry to see this season end - something I honestly haven't felt since Ten - and even sadder to know there won't be a Christmas eppy. :'( 

I thought the mud-filled corpses were creepy in the extreme. Scarier than any gruesome zombie of the gaping wound/rotted flesh sort. Eeep!

For me the only weak link is Yaz. Sorry (not sorry) but I find her too earnest and self-righteous. That kind of character always walks a fine line for me, and she is way over it. I just don't believe it.

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4 hours ago, MissLucas said:

Add me to the list of those getting increasingly annoyed by the clothes issue. The show has never been consistent about that though. While the episode with Rose getting excited about her Victorian gown was during Ten's tenure during Nine's one and only (sniff) season it was Rose's not period-appropriate Jeans IIRC that spiked Captain Jack's interest (among other things).

The Unquiet Dead had Rose stepping out of the TARDIS in a Victorian gown and Nine looking gobsmacked. I loved that scene. 

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3 hours ago, Llywela said:

Yeah, I didn't think the Doctor was necessarily surprised by the sexism, so much as taken aback to suddenly find herself on the receiving end of it. It simply never applied to her before - as men, her previous selves would have known it existed, in an intellectual sense, but never directly experienced it, therefore never really internalised what it could mean for those who do experience it. The Doctor has always been able to just stride in and take over, has done even in historical adventures so far this season, so experiencing the rougher end of being a woman in history came as a short, sharp shock to her here. Like, it had simply never occurred to her that she might have a problem in a place like this, because she never has before. And I like that, I like that different aspects of the gender switch are being explored, and in such a down-to-earth way. A few episodes ago, we saw the Doctor full of delight at Umbreen's hen party, a female bonding experience that she would never have had access to before, so here she found herself face-to-face with the flipside, so to speak.

Although even the male Doctors have had times when they struggled to exert their authority over certain situations, in various places and times - just never before because of their gender. Except for that one time when the First Doctor came up against an intensely matriarchal society...

Period appropriate clothing has never really been an issue for the Doctor, partly because so many of them have worn eccentric and old-fashioned outfits that just about passed muster almost anywhere they went and partly just because things are Different For Men - but it often has been an issue for female companions. Remember how shocked Queen Victoria was to encounter Rose, wearing dungaree shorts. And here, they were aiming for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, where they had to know they would stand out like so many sore thumbs. They should and could have dressed appropriately, because not doing so was just asking for trouble. If you want to blend in and experience history without interfering in it...then it helps if you make some effort to, you know, actually blend in. And the TARDIS has an extensive wardrobe, so why not play dress up? Many companions in the past have had fun dressing for historical adventures, and it does add something to the realism of an episode when they do so - women walking around in trousers was hugely anachronistic in early 17th century England, something that would have shocked most people they encountered, and pointing that out is entirely relevant to this story.

I agree with all of this. Sadly, I wonder if they just didn't want the Doctor in a dress. It would be nice to at least have the Doctor explain why she is choosing not to blend or have her companions blend. Perhaps the two are related. The Doctor has never really had to think about how others would perceive her clothing. However, the companions very frequently dress in period appropriate clothing. It just feels really inconsistent.

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1 hour ago, tessaray said:

The Unquiet Dead had Rose stepping out of the TARDIS in a Victorian gown and Nine looking gobsmacked. I loved that scene. 

Ah, right - I was thinking of the episode with Queen Victoria herself, but Rose is wearing Denim dungarees there *sigh* 

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If they'd arrived at their intended destination, it would have been before Elizabeth I met (and eventually married) the Doctor, right? All that happened while she was the reigning monarch?

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10 hours ago, MDKNIGHT said:

I could see the subtext Cummings was putting in the performance and wondered if in real life James was supposed to be not quite hetero or if Cummings was playing around, but if that was the score, then Cummings nailed it. Thanks for the info.  

Enjoyed the episode and liked the alien possession of the dead etc.  Not quite as creepy as "are you my mumy?" but then what is.

James 1 is commonly accepted as being homosexual, love letters between James and the Duke of Buckingham still exist and pull no punches that their relationship was sexual.

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The alien energy blast and only Graham lying on the ground had me thinking I had missed a scene, so a rewound to make sure I hadn't. The explanation of why chopping the tree up, setting it on fire and shoving the flaming log into the tree stump reactivated the locking mechanism of the prison left me even more confused. I could have accepted that if the top of the tree, which held the power source, was brought back to the trunk, the nanites would knit the tree back together. Lightning strikes kept the artificial tree's power source charged through the millennia.

That was all a bit odd. I got the impression that King James' actions didn't re-imprison the soldiers, but rather killed them, The Doctor did not seem happy with him, saying something like "Well, you got what you wanted"

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I could see the subtext Cummings was putting in the performance and wondered if in real life James was supposed to be not quite hetero or if Cummings was playing around, but if that was the score, then Cummings nailed it. 

Subtle as a flying mallet, Alan Cumming is, and being who he is, had to throw in a touch of bisexualty. Doesn't he speak admiringly of her "form?

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So my understanding of the intricacies of historical time periods is pretty vague but I thought that the 17th century was particularly "risqué" by later standards. The borders were open, trade was vibrant and people were used to weirdly-dressed strangers showing up - especially in places like London. It's probably why things like the witch trials started around this period (and also why they chose to showcase it this season, since their theme is strongly about tolerance, racism and xenophobia).

So I had no problem with them not changing - they didn't change during the Shakespeare episode either and for the same reason.

I admit I was really enjoying this episode until the Morax showed up. Suddenly we had monologuing aliens ranting about global annihilation and it felt weird coming after the Doctor's "there is no good and evil, just people" speech. I guess they wanted aliens that would look like demons to fit with the witch/Satan/Hell theme but it's the one thing that didn't work for me. I would have preferred it if this was something else they'd disturbed - an alien spore maybe. Something that looks evil and demonic but is just a lifeform struggling to deal with the world. 

23 minutes ago, basil said:

Subtle as a flying mallet, Alan Cumming is, and being who he is, had to throw in a touch of bisexualty. Doesn't he speak admiringly of her "form?

Very common theme of the Renaissance to have an admiration for "beauty" and that included the male and female forms

Also common was King James' desire for knowledge combined with an inadequate understanding of the world that tended toward superstition. Although, seeing what's happening in the world today, that's maybe not just a Renaissance thing. You could have had him say "I didn't know much about this witch thing but then I spent days on Google and YouTube and now I know that witches are responsible for autism" and it would have worked just as well.

Edited by AudienceofOne
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2 hours ago, LiveenLetLive said:

James 1 is commonly accepted as being homosexual, love letters between James and the Duke of Buckingham still exist and pull no punches that their relationship was sexual.

 

1 hour ago, basil said:

Subtle as a flying mallet, Alan Cumming is, and being who he is, had to throw in a touch of bisexualty. Doesn't he speak admiringly of her "form?

I don't pretend to be an expert on King James I's love life, but I think it is theorized by many that he was bisexual. He had male lovers, but also a wife and a mistress. The wife, of course, probably doesn't mean much in that time period as he had an obligation to produce an heir, but the mistress seems to indicate an interest in both men and women. 

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I could see the subtext  [bolding mine] Cummings was putting in the performance 

My "subtle as a flying mallet" referred to Cumming's performance. I have a love/hate relatonship with him as an actor (and I have worked with him a fair amount). He is absolutely a fine actor, but so very often goes for the cheap laugh. I kept waiting for him to twirl that moustache,

I have never understood his popularity.

That said, he was perfect in this role, as the villain you love to hate..

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I don't pretend to be an expert on King James I's love life, but I think it is theorized by many that he was bisexual. He had male lovers, but also a wife and a mistress.

I've no doubt that is likely true, but Cumming tends to inject pansexualism in everthing he does, and then tends to go over the top with it - am I am a British bisexual man myself.

A little of him goes a very long way with me. I think they let him off the leash with this one, and possibly even wrote the role with him in mind.

jmo, ymmv.

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I am not bothered by them not wearing period appropriate garb as much as I'm surprised because, for me, one of the best parts of going in the past would be to wear the awesome clothes! 

Loved this ep. But then, I've loved this season so far.

I adore Alan Cumming so was very excited to see him and he did not disappoint. King James was both a joke and a tragedy and he played both sides perfectly. Interesting story with the tree being the key and Becka's selfish desire for a tree free view being the reason "satan" was unleashed. Stupid twat! I really liked Willa. Liked the companions playing along, especially Ryan's casual acceptance of the King hitting on him, constantly. That's got to be a trip, a historical figure I'm sure he read all about in school has a crush on you. lol Graham in the hat. Overall great ep. 

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