Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

VerityEpisode65Happy holidays one and all! This week it’s an oversized celebration, as we have all six Verities onboard for this ep! Join Deb, Erika, Katrina, Liz, Lynne, and Tansy as we celebrate the season by talking about the last new Doctor Who episode we’ll have for a while. It’s mostly Christmas cheer all up in here, so if you’re looking for a good rant, you’re (mostly) in the wrong place. We talk Capaldi, Clara, Danny, Santa, and more!

What did you think of this year’s Christmas outing? Was it Santastic? Or ho-ho-horrible? Let us know in the comments!

It’s been a great year here at Verity! Thanks to everyone for listening, supporting, and taking part in the conversation!


Also covered:

Verity! links:
Verity! on Patreon
Verity! on iTunes

Download or listen now (runtime 1:39:56) 

Comments on: "Verity! Episode 65 – I’m Dreaming of a Last Christmas" (28)

  1. Yes! We have SIX! I loved hearing what all the Verities thought of ‘Last Christmas’ 🙂 Thank you for the wonderful Christmas present, and happy new year too!

    • FYI, ‘The Stageplays 1-3’ were just added to the audiobook Humble Bundle. I’m sad they didn’t include anything from the main range, but it’s all for a good cause!

  2. “Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
    Life is but a dream.”

    Anyone who doesn’t have the Big Finish audios in the Humble Bundle is encouraged to get them.

  3. I only just started listening, so this is just a quick comment. There may be more to say later because I loved the Christmas episode.

    My two cents: He was totally wearing a hoodie.

    • I’m back after listening to the full episode. As usual I find much to agree with, several things to ponder, and one or two to take very minor issue with.

      Regarding the tangerine at the end, my take on it was as an intentional hook for Santa believers to hang their hats upon. By which I mean, for those who believe in Santa, they can interpret the tangerine as a clear indication that Santa exists in the real world. So, for some people Santa exists only in the dream, and for others he exists outside of the dream.

      I’ve now heard several parents criticize the open questioning of Santa within the story. I will share my own experience as a parent and as a child: Children start hearing their peers, as well as threads from popular culture, question the existence of Santa Claus starting as early as six years old (if not sooner). I’ve seen it discussed in cartoons, comic books, sitcoms, and even the wonderful story classic Miracle on 34th Street directly addressed doubt in Santa Claus. I don’t think it is a problem for the question to be vaguely raised in an episode of Doctor Who. I do understand the nervousness that Tansy describes, but I didn’t share it.

      Related to the extended part of that discussion: There is no character in all of popular culture more unpleasant with regard to body horror than the Cybermen. I think the no-face dream crabs are tame by comparison.

      Now, we all draw our own lines in the sand on such matters. I do not mean to criticize Tansy’s placement of her line, nor that of anyone. I just hope that my perspective can give such people a little something to hang on to in subsequent viewings to make it a more pleasant or less nerve wracking experience.

      Personally, I think Michael Troughton’s character was as real as Shona and the rest, and was probably found somewhere in London the next morning having died in his sleep. I’m in the camp of thinking that Shona was a great character, very fun and appealing. I don’t imagine there was any intent to make her a candidate for companion, but I’m a little puzzled at the strong reactions against her by a few of the Verities. I thought she was smart, funny, and clever. What’s not to like?

      Happy new year to the Verity ladies, and to my fellow fans!

      • Fwiw, my negative reaction was more about the possibility of her as a companion than it was about her in general. I’m okay with a character so in-your-face and silly at Christmas, but as a full-time companion? I think she’d ben a bit much to take. (Then again, I hated Donna at first for similar reasons, and she became one of my favorites, so who knows?)

      • Thanks for your two cents Erika. Feels to me like there have been a number of in-your-face companions like Shona in secondary media. Shona, in fact, reminded me quite a bit of Lucie Miller as played by Sheridan Smith (who received an OBE appointment today!) But Shona also reminded me of just about every comic book companion I am familiar with—working class, plucky, brash, and brilliant but previously under-challenged.

        Having said all that, I don’t wish to convince you or anyone else Shona should be a companion to the Doctor. I like Clara quite a bit, thank you, but when it is time for her to move on, I will enjoy seeing Capaldi’s Doctor with someone new, and I have no preconceived notions as to whom should be chosen. Unless he decides he wants to travel for a bit with Gwen Cooper (as played by Eve Myles). I’d buy a ticket for that ride, and no mistake.

      • I would love to see Gwen Cooper’s teenage daughter whisked off in the TARDIS which means Gwen herself, possibly armed with Jack Harkness, Rhys and a whole bunch of guns, basically hunt the Doctor down mercilessly to get her back.

      • I really enjoyed “Last Christmas” (and muse at some length about it here: and also, of course, enjoyed your discussion of it!

        If Michael Troughton’s character (Bellows?) wasn’t real – a thought that never struck me until I listened to your discussion – perhaps he is the “Dave” that Shona resolves to forgive when she wakes up? That would perhaps explain the sexual harassment she experienced at Bellows’ hands (and hairy nostrils) before the story started (a bit I thought was otherwise made rather light of). In her dream, she was so mad at him, he perished at the hands (well, claws) of the Dream Crab. What do you think?

        Also: Given that the solution to the crisis was “dream yourself home,” do you think that the Doctor ended up on Gallifrey before going back to rescue Clara? Maybe he was so concerned about Clara that he didn’t notice or it didn’t register (or Gallifrey is so changed for some reason – residual Time War damage?). If so, that would be quite a lovely character progression.

        Happy New Year to all the Verities!

    • he was definitely wearing a hoodie and he has worn it before (time heist) IMHO

  4. Clara name-checking the number 12 was part of a series of LOST-esque 12s sprinkled throughout the episode! The first page number Clara calls out is 57, whose numbers add to 12; when Ashley opens the door for Shona, the screen has, among a string of characters, “12 DR”; when the Doctor and Clara open the hatch at the end of Shona’s dance, the door reads “01-180-02,” whose digits again add up to 12.

    Also, I LOVED Shona and have my fingers crossed she’ll be the eponymous “Magician’s Apprentice.” She strikes me as a kind of update to Izzy, the longtime companion of the 8th Doctor from the comics. We’ve yet to have a true sci-fi/fantasy devotee in the TARDIS on tv, so I think she’d be wonderful to unsettle the new peace that Clara and the Doctor have struck with each other.

    Happy new year!

  5. I was so happy to download the podcast and see that it was an hour and a half. Huzzah! Team Hoodie here, though I missed the red lining. No red lining this episode, I’m assuming because they wanted to save red for santa. Loved this discussion. The only question I had that didn’t come up in the podcast is why did the other four dream crab victims also lose their identity (aka thought they were scientists but weren’t), but Clara and the Doctor maintained theirs throughout?

  6. First – I LOVED the episode. It answered my depressed state questions about where we left off in Death in Heaven. I also think it was absolutely beautifully shot. The framing of shots, the use of colors, the lighting of shots, and the direction was absolutely stunning. In re-watching it I would often freeze frame just to look at the ambiance of the scene.

    The Capaldi was in stunning form. He actually looked younger in this episode that some others. Not that I mind either way. He was in top form with his unspoken acting genius. And I am very pleased with the Clara/Doctor relationship. Which I still contend is a love that will never be physically realized but is deeply emotionally absolutely more than friendship.

    Jenna also really shone in this episode, and I think you can really see how working with Peter and the character development this year is expanding her acting chops.

    Also, The entore supporting cast was great, and unlike some of the regular season, they were fully realized characters who I found myself caring about. Nicely done in the short episode time frame.

    I’d rate it a 9.5 out of 10.

    But – I’m also a worrier at heart, so my worry-alarm was tingling a bit and here is why…

    CONJECTURE: The Doctor is still dreaming. And all or some of Season 9 will be The Doctor’s dream continuing, ending with Clara’s actual death.

    1. “Last Christmas” never addressed the REAL start of The Doctor’s dream – which was when Santa showed up in the TARDIS at the end of “Death in Heaven”. This is even though Clara points out to The Doctor as they are leaving the base (with the dream crabs still attached to four people) that he had not gone back far enough to when Santa showed up on her roof. If we have to go back to that scene to get to when it all started for Clara, why would we not have to go back to The Doctor’s first Santa encounter to get to where it all started for him?

    2. The Doctor, at the start of the “old Clara” ending scenes, states that the dream crabs attacked him first and then must have found Clara in his memories. So, theoretically ALL of “Last Christmas” is the Doctor’s dream. He also, curiously states that everyone else who was brought into the dream were just collateral damage (a phrase Missy used too – which raises a whole other curious possibility). But how were they pulled into the dream? We never really got an explanation of that. Could this point to some other non-dream thing that happened that caused these people to be known to The Doctor?

    3. There are several lines that seem to indicate The Doctor is having an internal dialogue, even though it seems like he is talking to another character/characters:
    a. When Clara is attacked by the dream crab and The Doctor is trying to figure out how to save her/get her out of the dream, he is frustrated that he cannot talk Clara out of the dream. He then goes into “how do we kill it?” mode – which is uncharacteristic for him. It is Ashley who questions his willingness to kill (a very Doctor-ish few lines there). In other words Ashley’s character is really an internal dialogue.
    b. Santa uses the exact same line “who you gonna call?” as The Doctor. And then Clara basically calls The Doctor her version of Santa. So is Santa a manifestation of the Doctor’s subconscious.

    4. The Doctor is talking about how difficult it is to separate fantasy/dreams from reality. Both he and Santa point out how ridiculous the concept of the Doctor is (magician/scientist) and also the TARDIS (phone kiosk/spaceship). It almost made me wonder if the story arc path is that The Doctor is not real – either in this episode or in the whole Doctor Who gestalt – hopefully not the latter – because if this ends up being that the whole Doctor Who thing back to Dr. #1 was just a dream – then I’m seriously pissed.

    5. There are NEVER any wounds on ANYONE’s heads. This one is really damning. Clara specifically points out that this is a way to tell they are still in a dream – then it gets dropped. The Doctor, old Clara, young Clara, all the other victims of the dream crabs, NO ONE has a head wound. WHY?

    6. We (think) we see The Doctor wake up on an unidentified volcano planet. This seems really weird, as it would mean that The Doctor left Clara in Glasgow and high-tailed it off to a place I would think he would hate to go. We know he thinks volcanos are rubbish – “just leaky mountains”. And after Clara’s volcano melt-down with the whole key throwing heart wrenching stuff, why would he choose to go visit a volcano? If that is the right timeline and not a dream, then after lying to Clara about not finding Gallifrey, The Doctor decided to go take a leisurely sojourn & visit a volcano. That just does not seem right. So why was he there? Or was that a dream?

    7. The scene where Clara and The Doctor admit that they lied to each other – at the very end of that scene Clara begs The Doctor to “just [sic] give me something to do”. The Doctor tells her, “trust nothing…accept nothing you see. Whatever happens, interrogate everything.” Clara responds, “In case it’s a lie.” The Doctor repeats that back to Clara confirming that point. But repeatedly does not take his own advice later in the episode, which makes it more likely that he is still dreaming right through the end of the episode. If he were to interrogate everything – he would unravel the dream back to its start.

    I hope this is proven completely wrong come Season 9. I am kicking myself for this, because if it is true it is so very sad, but if The Doctor was projecting what he wants to happen into his dream – versus the cold hard reality that he is no closer to finding Gallifrey and he lost Clara to Danny (or so he thinks), then all of the sentimental mushy-stuff (which I loved and hope is real) would make a bit more sense – it is what The Doctor desperately wants to happen, but would not allow himself in reality.

    Only time will tell…

  7. Michael J said:

    First, please allow me to get my obligatory “squee” out of the way regarding this delightful episode (my favourite Christmas special since “The Christmas Invasion” which is still number one in my book).

    It was totally a hoodie. If you have doubts, please just check out the BBC picture advertising the episode. It’s the one that shows the Doctor (hands on hips), Clara (in her nightie) and Santa (holding a tangerine to the camera) on Clara’s rooftop. Hoodie.

    I agree with Elvisomar. There is no greater body-horror monster than the Cybermen…circa the Russell T. Davies era. Steven Moffat took all the horror and fear away from the cyber-conversion process with “Closing Time.” In previous versions, the Cybermen mutilated your body to the point where you could no longer exist outside of the Cyberman armour. In Moffat’s version, the cyber-suit just forms around your body without actually damaging it. And if you want to beat the conversion process, a baby cry will do the trick. Lameness wrapped with a bow…
    In fact, throughout Moffat’s era, the Cybermen have been handled so very, very poorly. In fact, the only good Cybermen we’ve seen since “The Next Doctor” have been cyber-parts and not actual Cybermen. I am of course referring to the creepy cyber-helmet that tried to eat Amy, the Cyber-Controller program that tried to take over the Doctor’s brain, and the long-lasting companion known as Handles. But fully-formed Cybermen have been lame in the Moffat era. There was a lot of sturm and drang in “Dark Water” but no actual body count. And in the very next episode, we see two humans resisting the cyber-conversion process, this time without even a baby cry. And the only horrific murder in the episode was committed by Missy and not the Cybermen. But I digress…

    Also, to Tansy, if you’re that concerned about a TV show popping “the Santa Bubble” for your kids, then you really ought to be screening ALL Christmas-related programming before allowing your children to see it. Unless I’m not remembering it correctly, I believe that even an episode of Pinky & the Brain once called the existence of Santa into question. They quickly back-peddled, but the seed of doubt was planted.

    I don’t think Steven Moffat was copying “Inception.” I think everyone who has used this story idea has borrowed the idea from Edgar Allen Poe.

    I am a bit shocked and disappointed that so many of you thought that this would have been an acceptable way to write the character of Clara out of the show…without first making any efforts to redeem her character.
    There is a 12 year-old in my life. Over the past couple of years, she has had…let’s call it…”issues with the truth.” Now due to my influence over the past few years, she has become a big Doctor Who fan. And she knows very well that Clara is my all-time favourite companion (and since I have been a die-hard fan since the 70’s, that’s really saying something).
    Now over the course of Series 8, Clara became a pathological liar. I say “pathological” because she was lying even when there wasn’t any reason to lie. It became a sort of mania with her. At the end of the series, she was still lying. And it was still making everyone miserable. She hasn’t learned a damned thing. This has led to some very awkward conversations regarding our role-models and the value of truth around the dinner table. And a quick outpouring of the truth before breezing on to the next topic doesn’t make everything alright.
    I feel that it is imperative for Clara to rediscover the value of honesty and the importance of trying to live an honourable life BEFORE she leaves the show.

    I loved the Doctor’s criticism regarding the human predilection in film to depict aliens as invading monsters. Any species intelligent enough to reach us would have no interest in taking our planet from us. It’s just not that important, and there are much more abundant resources scattered among the uninhabited planets and asteroids throughout the galaxy. Our paltry resources just wouldn’t be worth the effort. Although to be fair, any species of carnivore or insect that we encounter on other worlds will most likely view us as prey, so there is that…

    I hated the character of Danny when he first came on the show. I’m not sure why, but I just didn’t like him. I think he just felt a bit forced, like I was SUPPOSED to like him. But then he earned my respect by for standing up for himself in “The Caretaker.”
    Deb, I know you don’t see it this way. But I think rather than dismissing everyone who disagrees with you, you should reflect on this and question why you have a problem with a man standing up for his right to not be lied to by his partner. Yes, there was a line of “white knight” weirdness in there that didn’t make any sense in relation to the rest of the conversation, but I see that as a writing gaff rather than an actual point of contention. The way I saw it, Danny was basically saying that if she lied to him again, he would be done with her. And then later, after he had a chance to calm down, he decided that he could forgive this aspect of her, after all. Some people are worth making a bit of compromise for.
    But by the time “Dark Water” came around, I also had Danny-fatigue. I agree with Tansy. I think it was because we never got to see a scene of them being an actual couple without the lies and arguments.
    This last little bit of Danny-as-seen-through-Clara’s-eyes was a delightful and refreshing change. For the first time, their love felt like a real thing to me. I adored his remark that the rest of us “just got lucky.” And for the first time, I see his death as an actual tragedy and not just a plot-point.

    I agree with Erika about the way the Doctor handled Santa so much better than the way he handled Robin Hood. Part of his petulance can be explained away as he was still trying to figure out who he was and how he would relate to the universe around him. But mostly, I think it’s because Mark Gatiss’ skills lie in writing docudramas. But when it comes to writing Doctor Who, he’s atrocious, and he needs to stand aside and make room for better writers. Mark Gatiss continues to write the worst episodes of each season (with the singular exception of “Fear Her”). He really ought to just move on and let someone else write an episode…maybe a woman for a change…

    Liz, thank you soooooo much (insert sarcasm here) for derailing the conversation with a full-on rant on coffee. But since Tansy brought up Tegan getting tea in “The Five Doctors,” might I remind you that she was a flight attendant before joining the Tardis-team? This was something she could do in her sleep. I could go on, but it’s a long story…

    For a while there, I was irritated that it looked like Moffat was going to eradicate Clara by cutting straight to the end of her life. He’s been doing this a lot, and I find it a bit hackneyed. So far he has killed off River, Amy, Rory, and even the Brigadier (who if he hadn’t been killed off off-screen, could have lived on in some other media). No other show-runner has a body-count of companions like this. Sarah Jane Smith proved that a former companion can be extraordinary without the Doctor. And if the writer doesn’t kill off the companion, they can return later on for more greatness…and maybe even a spin-off.
    By the way, I totally missed the parallel involving the Doctor, Clara and the crackers. I feel silly about my cracker-related-myopia.

    And lastly, I’ve seen some people casting their predictions regarding the first episode of Series 9 (even though all we have to work with is a title), so here’s my two-cents’ worth: The Doctor has been called a “magician” twice so far. Clara is obviously the “Magician’s” Apprentice. I think that this is going to be a Clara-centric episode…which makes me very happy. In fact, maybe (like Ace before her) the Doctor will spend this coming series grooming her to become a Time Lady…

    Wow, that was really verbose. I think maybe I’ve been holding a lot of this in. Thank you ladies for another WONDERFUL episode. As usual, you have given me a lot to ponder while making me laugh like a fool. Cheers!

  8. Philip said:

    My favorite episode of all Doctor Who is A Christmas Carol, and Last Christmas is just behind it out of the Christmas episodes. I’m excited we get Jenna Coleman back, and I’m looking forward to seeing the next phase of her character, sans love interest. I think Moffat has some fun adventures planned, probably with more off world sets. Capaldi’s first season was outstanding, he seems so natural to this role.

  9. terminuspodcast said:

    Yay, listening to this now!

    Like I said on Twitter, so far I’m even considering getting the Doctor Who Risk game and that’s big for me, because I’ve never liked the regular game very much.

    Also, I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one not head over heals over Shona (if anything, I preferred Ashley and Fiona). Shona was okay, I guess, but only in small doses, IMO.

    • OMG so many daleks and different sizes and THE SMALL ONES FIT INSIDE THE BIGGEST ONES.

      I will never play Risk again if Daleks are not involved. The only thing the game lacks is dalek saucers. And Robomen. I may have to make my own.

  10. […] was actually going to be a post about the Doctor Who Christmas Special (and I do talk about it on last week’s Verity!), but I’m currently in a little bit of a snit at Peter Capaldi as The Musketeers just came […]

  11. Regarding the tangerine: Clearly it’s the one David Tennant’s Doctor used to knock the Sycorax commander off the ship in The Christmas Invasion .

  12. I loved this episode (both of Doctor Who, and of Verity!) Definitely my favorite Christmas special afterThe Christmas Invasion. I was a bit worried, as Tansy was, that something would be said/done to bust the Santa myth for my two 6-year-olds, but it turned out fine. Mine are always very interested in actors vs. characters, so to them, it was clear that this was just an actor playing Santa/dreamSanta, because of course the real one would be resting up after Christmas Eve. 🙂

    Son #2 did take great umbrage at the suggestion that no one likes the oranges in stockings. He yelled at the tv “I like the oranges! I ate SEVEN!” Otherwise it was widely enjoyed in our household. Scary enough for the adults, not so scary as to send the kids running from the room. I felt much more uplifted now that we have some resolution to the ending of Series 8. I can deal just fine with sad/unresolved endings, but when it all could have been avoided with better communication, as in the Gift of the Magi-esque ending to Death in Heaven, I just want to shake everyone involved. Last Christmas cheered me up enormously. 🙂

    • Plus, there is even a suggestion from Nick Frost’s Dream Santa himself that the “reality” of the Santa situation is more complicated than most folks give it credit for – “Obviously, I have two sled teams.” Which one is “real”? Is one more “real” than the other? The Santa Twin Dilemma! 🙂

  13. I’m only half-way thru the podcast, but I can definitely say that I am “Team Hoodie with Spangles underneath.”

  14. chiles said:

    it’s a bit strange & somewhat distressing to me that people pick up on, harp & even complain about Shona’s neediness – but seem to miss the apparent reason for it: the loneliness & deep sense of loss suggested by her ‘waking’ scene. my reading of her final act in the ep was to forgive someone who ‘left her too soon’ – i.e. someone she lost. another parallel w/ Clara, & a sad (if also hopeful) reiteration of the ‘Last Christmas’ theme.

    • Ooh! Well spotted Chiles! Now I want to see Shona again even more! Although I wonder if Dave “left” her…or just did something that is very hard for her to forgive. Perhaps he was unfaithful, and now she is finding it difficult to trust again which has lead to a life of isolation and loneliness.

      • chiles said:

        sorry, i guess i wasn’t being clear when i euphemistically wrote ‘left her too soon’. what i meant was that my reading is that Shona was grieving – hence the parallel w/ Clara & the reiteration of the ‘Last Christmas’ theme.

      • Yes, that’s what I thought you meant. But I was thinking that it might be a bit “too neat” to have so many parallels running at the same time, ya know? So I was thinking that there could be the parallel of learning to forgive and having that feeling of abandonment…but for a different reason. But I could be way off the mark.

      • chiles said:

        i reviewed that scene, &…i suppose a literal death isn’t really necessary as far as Shona’s story goes – what’s important thematically is that she’s forgiving someone – ‘Dave’ – in his absence. but that scene really reads to me as someone emerging at last from the final stages of a protracted grieving process.

        not entirely unrelated, i feel like Moffat’s come full circle & has started writing characters – such as Shona – the way they used to be written (& the way he wrote them – cf. the brilliant way he used to sketch in characters such as Billy from Blink) in RTD’s era of Who.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: