Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

VerityEpisode46-210This week we do lots of talking about villains who don’t. Join Deb, Erika, Lynne, and Tansy as we discuss what makes silent villains so creepy and effective. We also discover just how many Moffat-baddies are non-talkers (or mostly non-talkers). And do stick around for a particularly interesting tangent about gender roles and power dynamics in communication. This Verity! ep gets positively analytical! Almost scholarly! Almost.

And of course, let us know who your favorite quiet killers are–or weigh in on the deeper debate about communication in general. Or both!


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Download or listen now (runtime 1:12:31) 

Comments on: "Verity! Episode 46 – Communication Breakdown" (9)

  1. Hello!

    I just released my interview with Liz talking about breaking bubbles.

    Thought otghers may like to hear it.

    Click the link to hear it. Lasys about 20 mins!


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  2. What a great podcast! I’ve just recently jumped into the world of podcasts and am currently working my way through all your episodes (I’m about 20 episodes in so far) and I’m really enjoying them. I love that you don’t all feel the need to agree on everything and that you aren’t shy about sharing your individual opinions. 🙂

    Looking forward to hearing more!

    • Deborah Stanish said:

      Welcome aboard, Jeff! And I think you’ll find “not agreeing” is our motto. 😉

  3. microtoast said:

    I’ve been waiting for this topic for a while! I remember commenting at length back in January when the topic was first suggested…we had the start of a thread going. You mentioned most of the main ideas I had, so I won’t repeat them all here (this was the Year in Preview extra on 1/08,, and I commented as Emily). One thing I mentioned there that you almost-but-not-quite brought up in the podcast is the idea that you could think of actual forces of nature, natural disasters and viruses and things, as another type of silent villain inasmuch as you can’t talk your way out of danger with them. Non-sentient enemies are silent enemies, too.

    I’ll just add that I rewatched Ambassadors of Death literally last night (it is one of my absolute favorites, for some reason) and one thing that occurs to me from that is that silence leaves itself open to interpretation, which can be exploited. If you’ve got big scary aliens hanging around not saying what they’re up to, nefarious types can get on with the business of fearmongering and telling the people what they expect to hear – that the aliens are here for conquest and death, etc. – and they can use that to achieve their own purposes.

    This makes me think of the Slitheen in their first appearance, when they crash the ship in London but don’t actually make an appearance as aliens. They send in the pig mermaid instead, which can’t communicate, and they leave it up to the people to reach the worst conclusions so the Slitheen can use our own nukes to blow up the planet. This isn’t the typical example of a silent villain, but it is using the idea of silence/non-communication in the same way as Ambassadors of Death.

    The Big Finish audio Bang Bang A Boom (which is a fantastic homage to Star Trek, and loads of fun) also does a great job of playing with the idea that being unable to communicate leaves you vulnerable to the baddies…I’d say what I mean more explicitly, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone! Speaking of audios, have any of them actually had silent villains? I can’t think of any…is it even possible in audio format? At first it seems highly impractical, but then on the other hand silence vs. talking might be a very natural thing to manipulate in an audio drama. It makes me want to try and write it, just to see if it’s possible.

    Oh, just a final note – all the talk of the Ood made me think about other silent non-villains, such as the Hath in The Doctor’s Daughter, where they never actually did talk throughout the whole thing. And they were indeed seen as monsters for a while, before it became clear that the situation was more complicated. So I guess the main point of this post is that while it’s true in my opinion that silent villains are the scariest, it’s also true that silence itself (as an abstract concept) can be a great source of conflict whether or not it is in the form of your typical unspeaking monster.

    • “The Big Finish audio Bang Bang A Boom (which is a fantastic homage to Star Trek, ”

      Um, I think you mean Space 1999. Not to mention the Eurovision Song Contest. =:o} But yes, it is fantastic, and hilarious!

  4. A really thought-provoking episode. I think the silent/non-communicative villains & monsters in Moffat’s episodes may well be why his best stories give me nightmares…! There is certainly a nightmarish quality to an inexorable silent villain.

    And I’d like to share my happy things this week:
    1. the OodCast! I squealed with delight when the new episode turned up on my podcast app. Now I’ve heard Tansy’s beautiful synopsis/description, I think I will have to start at the beginning of this podcast (previously I only went back as far as the beginning of Series 7).
    2. I just bought my ticket to the Doctor Who World Tour event in Sydney!
    3. [not DW, but related to the Verities] I read Tansy’s 2011 novel “Love and Romanpunk” (Twelfth Planet Press: and LOVED it. More Romanpunk, please Tansy! 🙂

  5. Just saw a nice promo for Liz’s “Breaking Bubbles” by Colin himself.

  6. […] The Verity podcast discusses silent villains. […]

  7. While ‘Midnight’ might not involve an entirely silent villain, it’s definitely an interesting look at the Doctor’s reliance on his power of speech. In the first half, even when he could speak, his words did not have their usual effect – he expects people to listen and obey at all times, or at least be persuaded, and those people would not. In the second half, he’s still ‘speaking’, but he’s no longer communicating – the words are not his, not generated by him, and he has no power over them. I’m not sure the Doctor would find absolute silence any more terrifying than that! (Though a ‘Hush’ – style episode would still be hilarious.)

    Regarding the Angels and other silent things, I do think they lose their power by recurring. I’ve seen Blink 3 or 4 times and it’s *still* scary. I’ve only seen the other Angels episodes once each, but I found them much less scary than silly. The two-parter felt forced, as in ‘how can we make this more awful for Amy? I know, make her close her eyes!’ ‘Blink’ was designed to be scary and succeeded, where ‘Time’/’Flesh’ tried too hard and failed. ‘Manhattan’ too was a gimmick taken too far. I personally loved the Statue of Liberty appearance, but only because it was ridiculous. It didn’t serve the story or the monster at all.

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