Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

VerityEpisode88It’s an Erika-less Verity!, but there’s more than enough excitement to make up for it. Join Deb, Liz, and Lynne as they dig deep into everything Clara, Davros, Missy, Doctor, Daleks, and more! There are crack theories, lots of squee, and many astute observations about the second installment of series 9.

What did you think about this one? Did Steven Moffat close things off nicely? Or…not? Let us know in the comments!


Also covered:

Bonus links:
Liz’s thoughts on “The Magician’s Apprentice”
Erika on the TeeVee podcast about “The Witch’s Familiar”
Our Verity! Tumblr

Download or listen now (runtime 1:23:16) 

Comments on: "Ep 88 – Trials of the Witch’s Familiar" (45)

  1. I actually found out about your podcast through a penpal and I’ve been having a great time catching up on back episodes, particularly the discussions on classic Who (I’m just now getting into watching Tom Baker’s episodes and have seen a couple of PEter Davison’s but that is it as far as my classic Who knowledge).

    My take on the doctor’s banter is that he uses humor as a defense mechanism of sorts, though I could be reading too much into it. It just reminds me of friends of mine who always crack jokes or use their humor when they know something is about to go sideways, or they know I’ve had a bad day.

    Maybe I’m the kind of fan who annoys the heck out of purists, but I don’t have any preconceived notions about stuff like canon, or the Doctor/companion relationships, or any of that stuff. I just sit and watch and appreciate the storytelling and the brilliance of Peter Capaldi and Michelle Gomez’s acting skills. That probably means there’s stuff that should annoy and/or confuse me that doesn’t, but that’s just me. Soaking in all the Whovian goodies I can find without really thinking of it being a 50+ year old show. There’ve been storylines and characters I didn’t like, but I just try to come at it as enjoying a fun t.v. show. Anyway, I always look forward to you lovely ladies posting the podcast and am looking forward to your take on how the season unfolds.

    • So glad you found us! And we are all for enjoying Doctor Who with a minimum of annoyance over anything. Sounds like you’re doing it right. 😉

      • I have to admit, some of the arguements over the show confound me immensely. I’m all for critique and analysis like you do here but sometimes I can see why Williams Shatner felt the need to tell the Star Trek fans to get a life. I prefer to enjoy it for what it is and I’m happy to be here. Can’t wait for next week.

    • Oh, I SO agree with how you watch the show, and I’ve been doing it for more than 40 years! For example, so many fans tried to dismiss the Paul McGann TV movie because it foolishly stated that the Doctor was half-human. This not only contradicted decades of established canon but would have led the show down a horribly American-90’s-TV path. And that way lies bitter madness.
      So how do I continue to love the TV movie? Whenever that part comes up, I take a page out of Erika’s book, and I hand-wave it away. Then I just go back to loving Paul McGann’s brilliant performance.
      Besides, like Deb has said many times, “If you don’t like the way the show is going, stick around. It’ll change in a couple years.” That’s what separates Doctor Who from all other shows, sci-fi or other. That’s what keeps it fresh. Every few years it takes on a new leading man and COMPLETELY reinvents itself. Every time.

  2. Jim O'Brien said:

    “The 6th Doctor required no redemption in my eyes.” -Liz.

    As a massive fan of Colin’s television run, I often feel like I’m alone in the wilderness. This made my day! Thanks, Liz!!!

  3. sostorm said:

    A wonderful podcast for a really great episode. Thanks for highlighting to me why Clara trusted Missy so quickly. I had a slight problem with that in the previous episode, here I just assumed she took the bad with the good (trying to save the doctor) and went for it. Her finding Missy familiar and thus trusting her makes much more sense.

    I’m already sold on Missy but it was very nice to hear Liz articulate the way Missy tries to show her friendship. It’s pretty much what I’ve thought but my thoughts were much more incoherent.

    I fell for the Davros game up to a point but the more it went on, the more I had my doubts. It was very well executed and a lot of suspense. All in all I think this episode really redeemed the first part for me.

    I loved the chair. It was great. So many funny bits in this. The sonic sunglasses, I’m fine with them as long as they don’t use them as much as they do with the sonic screwdriver.

  4. Dylan Vega said:

    This week’s podcast made me think about how fascinating it is that Doctor Who is a show where two persons can love the same episode for completely different reasons. I’m referring to what Deb says about wanting to go back to Clara and The Master/Missy (I find it weird that the show keeps using Missy, to me it’s like if The Master kept calling himself Reverend Magister after the Daemons) during the Davros/Doctor scenes.

    Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved Missy and Clara here, and Michelle Gomez has quickly risen to my second favorite Master, but I found all the interactions between The Doctor and Davros so riveting that on first watch I just wanted to get back to them constantly. To me, this is where the heart of the story lies, and why I ended up loving it so much.

    Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I interpreted those scenes a little differently than most people. I think that Davros was at least partially honest, especially in the scene where he opens his eyes, while still intending the whole time to use The Doctor’s compassion against him. I don’t think you can say those kinds of things without having thought about them first, it must have crossed his mind, he has had those doubts. Because of that, that scene gets me on every rewatch even knowing Davros ulterior motive.

    And congratulations on the discussion, as interesting and entertaining as ever, you remain my go to podcast after every new episode of New Who!

    • Korina said:

      Dylan, I agree wholeheartedly. They say the best lies are mostly truth, and these scenes were a textbook example. Bravo to Peter Capaldi and Julian Bleach for such outstanding performances.

      That said, I also adored Missy and Clara; yep, I’d watch that show. 🙂

  5. Clara in the Dalek. Nano-tech anyone? That’s what Missy called it. CLARA: What about when it comes out? MISSY: No idea. Nobody knows. Is it possible that it takes time but eventually CLARA becomes a Dalek.

    DAVROS: There was a prophecy, Doctor, on your own world.
    DOCTOR: Please you must, you must stop this. You must stop this!
    DAVROS: It spoke of a hybrid creature. Two great warrior races forced together to create a warrior greater than either. Is that what you ran from, Doctor? Your part in the coming of the hybrid? Half Dalek, half Time Lord?

    I just want to point out that this doesn’t necessarily mean the hybrid is Dalek and Time Lord. The prophecy only mentions two great warriors. Davros made it about Daleks.

    The Doctor leaves Gallifrey to protect Susan from the Master’s influence. OK, maybe he is also bored with the whole Gallifreyan society and just wants to get away from it. They can be cold and uncaring. There can be multiple reasons for someone to leave their home. Rarely is it just one thing.

    Susan is the granddaughter of the Doctor and the Master…through her paternal and maternal blood lines.

    The Doctor’s son and the Master’s daughter have a daughter, Susan. Through some kind of conflict Susan’s parents die. The Doctor and Master are devastated at losing their child but the difference is the way they handle their grief. The Doctor withdrawals, the Master becomes angry, bitter, and out for revenge…no matter who it hurts.

    Susan is in the middle and the Doctor takes her away to get away from the Master and his plans for revenge (maybe trying to turn her evil also). They go to a remote planet that no Gallifreyan would ever think about. It takes time for the Master to find the Doctor. He keeps trying to destroy the earth because he is trying force the Doctor to reveal when and where Susan is living. Of course that’s a crazy idea because what if accidently kills Susan? But he/she is crazy like this!

    • Absolutely agree about the Master as Susan’s other grandfather. It’s so _obviously_ true.

      Am I the only person who thinks that the Sonic Sunglasses are a one-episode one-off and that we’ll probably be back to screwdrivers as usual next week?

      • Terry Nadeo, I tip my imaginary hat to you. Your theory of Susan as the daughter of the Doctor’s son and the Master’s daughter is the best and most exciting theory I’ve heard yet. And it would provide YEARS of drama! Moffat has often said that he stopped listening to fandom as soon as he became show runner. I hope that this time he is listening because this idea is a-ma-zing.
        However, I hope you turn out to be wrong about how Clara will leave the show, but I fear that you won’t be too far off the mark. I love Clara. I think she’s the best companion ever. And that’s a bold statement because I grew up with Sarah Jane as my Doctor’s companion. But both Coleman and Moffat have been making allusion’s to the tragic end that Clara will meet at the end of the season.
        I feel that this would be a horrible mistake. Firstly, we’ve seen Clara meet a tragic demise almost as often as Rory. And frankly, it’s getting boring. And secondly, what is also getting boring is how companions can only leave the Tardis through one form of tragedy or another. Why can’t the companion just say, “Ya know what, Doc? I’m just tired of running. I think I’d like to settle down and write a book or two.” After one angsty departure after another, I think it would be a refreshing change. And MOST importantly, it gives Jenna Coleman license to come back to visit the show some day.

        c_carol, I hope you’re right about the sunglasses. I’m hoping they become a sort of “break glass ONLY in case of emergency because we’ve completely written ourselves into a corner” type of thing. I’m hoping it will be immediately set aside only to be brought up two or three years from now as a sort of “oh! you all forgot that my shades can do THIS” sort of thing. Sigh. But then again, that’s how the screwdriver started out, too.

    • Korina said:

      I’m eagerly awaiting the rest of the season, to prove my new head!canon true. Brilliant speculation, c_carol, just brilliant.

  6. Emma E. said:

    I actually went to a Con on the 19th so naturally had to go as Capaldi and chose the hoodie/sunglasses look. Five minutes into the Con, I was deeply grateful for the shot in the trailer where Capaldi looks over the top of the glasses because that was my look for the rest of the day. And I tripped on a lot of stairs!

  7. Neil Ottenstein said:

    Was Missy the Witch and Clara her familiar? A nice concluding episode. The resolution of the Missy/Clara cliffhanger was predicted by many, but probably not in the actual way it happened. I’m glad I did almost correctly predict what was going to happen in The Doctor’s return to the young Davros.

    There were so many great one-liners in the episode.

    Remember to point out Stuart Manning’s wonderful posters are back this season.

    • Deborah Stanish said:

      Aren’t the posters fab?! My take is Clara is both the apprentice AND the familiar. Her behavior is directly relevant to who she is relating to. When she’s with the magician, someone who trusts her and whom she trusts in return she is definitely the apprentice, learning the ways of the magician (See Also: Clara at UNIT). And, well, let’s face it. A “familiar” is really just another word for “pet”.

      • Julia (@mizzelle) said:

        That was my take as well. Magician= The Doctor and Witch= Missy.

      • Korina said:

        I do find Steven’s use of ‘apprentice’, a student learning to become a master, and ‘familiar’, a tool to accomplish your goals.

        I wonder if Clara being an apprentice Doctor is pointing to how and why she leaves?

  8. Ashford said:

    I want more of Liz doing Davros impressions in every episode. : )

  9. A few more story strands that could tag onto Deb’s Lifetime movie ponderings…

    Perhaps the glimpse we got into the Doctor’s childhood during Listen is also part of the Moffat grande plan. It appeared that he wasn’t integrating well with the rest of the children. He as crying, alone, in a barn. Perhaps the Master befriended the Doctor very early on…

    The Confession dial… We may never hear about the confession again, but it would be logical for it to be tied into the reason the Doctor ran from Gallifrey and his role in the Hyrbid….

    The third idea that floated in was how terribly reluctant the second doctor was to return to Gallifrey-he was terrified and, if I remember correctly, there was great angst and running around in an attempt to avoid his fellow Time Lords. While this was somewhat resolved by his “hearing” before he was forcibly regenerated, perhaps there could be more to the story…

    Thanks for an awesome conversation! I am so loving this series!

  10. On thing I haven’t heard touched on yet regarding Series 9 and the Doctor’s future is: What has The Doctor done to his future regenerations by siphoning some his energy off?
    I like what I’ve heard of Verity. I just started listening, here at the start of Series 9 though I’ve know about you for several years from listening to RFS.

    • Yeah, he mentioned it costing him an arm or leg later, but who knows what it’ll really do. Wonder if that’ll come back to haunt him soon, or if it’ll just be a hook the next show runner can use for a plot line.

      And welcome! Glad you decided to give us a chance. 🙂 We’re happy to have you aboard, & hope you continue liking what you hear even half as much as we like doing it!

      • “Costing him an arm or a leg?” Or maybe just the difference in body mass that would differentiate between regenerating as a man or a woman? Hmmmmm…

      • sostorm said:

        I can’t reply to Michel J’s comment but I feel the need to address the question of a diverse Doctor in relation to this comment. The Doctor is essentially implying that he might come out less in the next regeneration. I’ve been all aboard the diverse Doctor train but I’m thinking of stepping off due to this.

        If the Doctor turns out female or with a different skin tone next time, is the canon then implying that this would be the same as loosing a arm or a leg? I feel uncomfortable with this. Just as uncomfortable that I feel about the comment with regards to reduced mobility. Is it implied that the timelord mold is white male and everything else that might come out is due to there not being enough regeneration energy?

        I’m much more aboard with the Romana model of choosing your regeneration. I’ll probably try to step back a bit and not analyse the comment too much, but it makes me uncomfortable.

      • Korina said:

        Thing is, ‘costing me an arm or a leg’ was referring to what he was going to voluntarily give up. Davros took much, much more, although the Doctor did seem to expect it. We may not find out for several regenerations, if at all.

    • Deborah Stanish said:

      And don’t forget, this isn’t the first time the Doctor has played fast and loose with regen energy. Tenth Doctor siphoned off a bit to refuel the TARDIS’ power cell in Rise of the Cyberman/Age of Steel. “I just gave away 10 years of my life, worth every second.” Of course, there is Rule 1…the Doctor lies.

  11. Thank you for talking about Clara and Missy and why Clara related with Missy the way she did. Watching Missy in these episodes teaches us so much about the Doctor. Missy has many of the Doctor’s characteristics, but without his benevolence. Missy highlights what the Doctor could be, but isn’t, shedding a whole new light on the “am I a good man” question. I agree that Clara was familiar with the way the Doctor works, and takes his goodness for granted, so when Missy came along and worked in the same way it led Clara to follow her without recognizing the danger. Or perhaps Clara could easily follow someone with grey morals as she could follow someone who was good, if she thought it the right thing to do.

  12. lbphilly said:

    Loved the podcasts on both episodes of this stunning and satisfying season opener. The sunglasses are almost certainly Ray-Ban Wayfarers, the shades of choice for Roy Orbison (thus adopted by many rockers during his rediscovery in the later 80s shortly before and after his untimely death). Because of the other elegant nod to Orbison in the series opener, I was happy to find that the Doctor’s Wayfarers had extra potency. I found myself gleeping about, declaiming, “I wear Wayfarers now. Wayfarers are cool.”

    (Except I don’t wear Wayfarers. They’re pricey. Also, I can’t wear them over my regular specs, like my geezer shades.)

    • Deborah Stanish said:

      As a fellow spec wearer – I feel your “cool sunglasses are not for me” pain.

  13. Ari B said:

    So, why do the Daleks and Davros sound like Yoda? 🙂

  14. Ari B said:

    Also, I like the sunglasses, but I like the screwdriver more. As such, I don’t want to replace the latter with the former. 🙂

  15. Katrina D said:

    I agree with your comments about everyone enjoying Doctor Who how they want to and that includes letting others have their opinion. There’s no ‘right way’ or ‘right era’ there’s just the show and our personal enjoyment of it.

    My theory about the Doctor’s departure is that something happened involving the Master that implicated Susan’s parents in a crime or political event, and perhaps implicated Susan as an accessory, and the Doctor fled with Susan.

    The Master’s daughter could be Susan or perhaps he’s referring to Nyssa. Or Romana!

    Liz, yes, Colin Baker needs no redemption. I’ve been an avid fan of his Doctor since the 80s.

    Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, David Tennant and William Hartnell all shone despite having some of the poorest scripts in Doctor Who to work with. For some reason its Colin who got the vitriol, which I think was in part created by a backlash to the move to 45 min episodes back in the day. My ‘its not that bad’ litmus test is “The Web Planet”. Any story that’s more watchable than seemingly endless, plotless running around with dodgy ‘acting’ giant floor mops ‘isn’t that bad’.

  16. […] Clara as the Familiar,  I was a little disappointed. I have heard some excellent commentary (Verity!) that Clara fell into the traditional “companion” role in the face of […]

  17. Mo Favo said:

    Only been watching dr who for a couple years so total newbie to your podcast which I really enjoyed on the parts I understood. Kind of glad to not have all the history and conflicts.

    So thes thoughts are probably simplistic but I assumed The Doctor needed Missy’s help with Davros so he sent the confessional disc-she would come and he did not have to ask- Part of his plan. Missy needed Clara because she has not spent time with The Dr and needed Clara to find him. Missy knows if she harms Clara There will be hell to pay which is why she tried to trick the Dr into harming her.

    Again I am new but it seems Clara has spent an inordinate amount of time inside/a part of Daleks.

    Really enjoy your podcast.

    • I hadn’t even thought of that possibility, but it makes perfect sense! Thanks for pointing it out. I like it!

      And thanks for listening. So glad you found us and are enjoying the show! 😀

  18. Richard S. said:

    Just caught the annual Sunday afternoon mention of DW on the BBC’s Points Of View (POV) show. As usual, the viewer reactions were chosen to reflect a balance of UK audience opinions about DW… balanced to the usual ridiculous & pointless degree.

    So, in their look on Twitter @ BBC POV, they highlighted a positive comment about DW, and a negative comment, and another negative one, and ANOTHER positive one…

    And now, because (according to POV host Jeremy Vine) you really get what you’re asking for when you ask a DW fan for their thoughts, here’s two intercut interviews featuring middle-aged male DW fans:

    One says the show is better than ever, whereas another says no, it was better in the past (1977? 1963? 2008?) and that it’s so complicated for adults to follow that how on earth can kids understand it, whereas first one says the only people who think kids can’t understand it are confused adults.

    Yeah, okay, so I have no problem with people offering their genuine opinions about DW when given a platform, and I understand POV is a weekly 15 minute reviews show covering the whole of BBC TV content in the UK… but with a single 5 minute Who segment per year, I wish POV could at least feature a few comments about DW that haven’t already been covered extensively in the letters pages of the Radio Times & other print media outlets.

    Oh, thank goodness for podcasts.

    This week’s ep: I expected ep 2’s title to have the double Moffat meaning of “The Witch IS Familiar,” but that pun was left for the back pages of Doctor Who Magazine to chew over. I’d agree that the Missy & Clara scenes towered over all the other content of the episode. I’m fine with the Master having a daughter, just as the Doctor had a granddaughter, but I’m not so keen on the idea that the Doctor was on Gallifrey experimenting with Daleks before he’d ever met or even heard of them (in Classic Who Season 1 episode 6, broadcast in New Year 1964). That’s a wimey too far in my book.

    Terrific set design. Superb direction. Lose the sunglasses. Oh, and NOW we know why Colony Sarff had to be Snakes In A Dress! Clever.

  19. Thought that occurred to me on my walk in this morning, pertaining to our discussion of why the Doctor keeps letting the Master go free (from previous ep, but the ANSWER was in this ep, and I don’t want to spoil the Magician’s Apprentice, so):

    Mercy. Always mercy. THAT is why the Doctor keeps letting the Master live. It’s an act of mercy.

  20. Clara was gulled by Missy because of her arrogance. She doesn’t believe she’s the show dog. She thinks she at least could be the equal of a Time Lord whereas Jo Grant would never make that mistake–she has more humility.

  21. I’m very pleased to hear that the Verities are enjoying the new series as much as I am, thus far.

    I’ve seen some surprisingly negative reactions in certain corners of the internet about the opening two parter, which frankly baffles me. I know it’s all a matter of taste, but I have to wonder if these people are watching the same programme I am! I should probably just learn to avoid certain corners of the internet…

    Today, I will listen to your thoughts on Under the Lake while I make my way home from work. 🙂

  22. […] And it’s funny to hear myself say that, because these first two episodes had amazing comedy. Michelle Gomez, playing the villainous Missy, stole the show. She’s an unapologetic, flamboyant murderer. She and Jenna Coleman, playing the Doctor’s companion Clara, passed the Bechdel test, then chopped it up into tiny pieces and had it for tea.  (BTW, there is some lovely commentary on how the Missy/Clara dynamic outshone the  Doctor/Davros dynamic in the Verity Podcast episode “Trials of the Witch’s Familiar.“) […]

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