Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

VerityEpisode89It’s the first episode of another two-parter! (Though not everyone remembered that.) Join Deb, Erika, Katrina, and Tansy as we talk about bases under siege, horror/suspense tropes, ghosts, a sea turtle named Clyde, and more!

What did you think of this one? Too horrorey? Too base-under-siegey? Or not enough? Let us know in the comments!

Also, we’re doing another GIVEAWAY! Be sure to comment over on that post to enter. Though if you’re one of our lovely Patreon sponsors, you’re entered already!


Also covered:

Bonus links:
Erika’s blog post on the BBC’s Class announcement
Kat’s post about a space gerbil
Abandoned amusement parks
Our Verity! Patreon

Download or listen now (runtime 1:31:02) 

Comments on: "Ep 89 – Down Under the Lake" (27)

  1. Tatiana said:

    Ad. Class and Patrick Ness: I’m sorry Deb, but you’re seriously unfair there. Patrick Ness isn’t writing Doctor Who. He’s writing a BBC3 show, and even if it’s a spin-off, it’s a completely different case. BBC3 is precisely a place for new talents to debut on TV, it’s one of the main aims of the channel (it even says so on the second page of BBC3 service licence). No-one’s ever argued that you have to have experience to work in TV, only that you have to have experience to work on a flagship BBC1 show which hugely influences general budget of the BBC (like Doctor Who). And everything that’s ever been said about how technically difficult it is to write Doctor Who (mostly: you have to establish new world, new characters and new tone for the show and dispose of all of that within 45 min) doesn’t apply to a show set in a modern London school.
    From the point of view of BBC3 commissioners it was a really straightforward case – they wanted an established writer who would bring something new to television, who could write a supernatural series set in school. J. K. Rowling wasn’t available, so they asked Partick Ness. And from the point of view of Doctor Who production team it’s one of milion other things under Doctor Who brand, which may be very nice, but has no bearing on how they choose people to work on the main show. Whatever you think about their practices of hiring people, the case of Patrick Ness has exactly as much relevance as the case of Peter Davison writing Five(ish) Doctors.

    • Deborah Stanish said:

      Thanks for your response but there’s nothing in your argument that negates the fact that a man with no experience was, once again, chosen over women with buckets of experience. And while it may be a BBC3 production, it is the first spin-off since SJA, being touted under the Doctor Who umbrella, co-produced by Steven Moffat and being given, at the very least, American distribution which means most major Doctor Who markets will likely get this show. This isn’t just some training-wheel project or one of a million things under the Doctor Who brand.

      I’d love the link re BBC asking J.K. Rowling and her declining because that is exciting, but I think you’re doing a disservice to the thriving YA genre field to say if it’s not Rowling then there are no other female authors up to the task. Let alone women currently writing genre television. With actual television experience.

      I’m not saying Ness isn’t an exciting choice – his fiction is fantastic – but the institutional sexism inherent in the film and television industry is blatant and well-documented. Women aren’t offered these opportunities and, if by your argument, this is just one of a million things, surely giving a qualified, experienced woman *one* of a million things isn’t too much to consider.

  2. Henrik said:

    That was an OK episode, right?

    So far they’ve handled the idea of “ghosts” fine. It’s kind of spooky. It’s not too ridiculous even for Who. This first part seemed much better paced than ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’. The mystery is intriguing.

    A few niggles, though.

    Did the village become submerged because a dam broke? Is that how that works? I’ve heard of lots of villages flooded because a dam was built, since they obstruct a river forcing the water to build up etc. Villages have been temporarily flooded and/or washed away because dams have broken. But wouldn’t the water just subside? They specifically said the dam broke and that it happened ages ago, right? I don’t really get the mechanics of how this village ended up under a lake as the result of a dam breaking. Was the dam holding sea water out or something and due to global warming rising sea levels it would have flooded a valley that was mostly below sea level except they had a dam to protect it? Is that then technically a dam?

    We haven’t come up with a better solution to deafness than signing and a human interpreter by the year 2119? Really? I would be a little disappointed if degeneration of hearing and eye sight and so on due to age hadn’t been significantly mitigated by 2119. I’d kind of expect we’d be looking at actually improving the baseline by then. Not hearing? At all? In 2119? And the interpreter isn’t even a robot of some sort?

    Sticking with the fact that it’s 2119, they’re looking for oil? For extraction? For profit? In an underwater NUCLEAR base. Why exactly? Never mind “exactly”, is there any at all reasonable vague explanation for that?

    It’s not that I expect all the world’s problems to have been solved some 100 years from now, just that the ones that are being actively worked on with moderate to good success right now will be somewhat further along. This episode showed a very pessimistic vision of the future.

    Finally, those are terrible coordinates.

    But it’s a good start to a two part story. It’s atmospheric for sure. The O’Donnell character managed to scoot right up to the line of being a silly and annoying fan without crossing it. I’m slowly growing cautiously … not quite optimistic, but I’m growing slowly not disinterested in the show again. I still might just skip the Zygon one. For my health.

    • Submerged villages are a very real thing, and something that’s fascinated me for a long time. When dams are built, they often create a plain of livable land where there was a lake previously. So when the dam breaks, the lake comes back. If you Google “submerged villages”, you’ll get all kinds of neat info. Or you could watch the Robert Downey Jr/Annette Bening film In Dreams. Its plot also hinges on a drowned town.

      • Henrik said:

        Well that’s great! I had really only heard about the ones that flood from the damming part.

        I mean, it’s not great that villages are submerged and sometimes in flash floods. It’s tragic assuming there might have been people in those… when the dam…

        I meant that it lets me enjoy the episode more. I’m sorry about the potentially dead people. Obviously.

      • ‘Village of the Dammed’ has to be your next episode title!

        I enjoyed this very much, both the episode and your discussion. The insights that you brought made me appreciate just what a fine piece of writing the script for this episode was. This could have been a very standard story.

        On Clara’s eventual departure, I think that they will have to address Gallifrey before she goes. She has been so much a part of the Gallifrey story in recent years that for her to be left out of its return would leave the story incomplete. There could of course be a terrible ‘Clara or Gallifrey’ dilemma, but that doesn’t bear thinking about!

        Final thought: the other day I listened again to your first episode and was amazed at how fully formed the podcast was right from the start. Verity! really is a first rate production.

  3. terminuspodcast said:

    Just starting to listen, but wanted to pause to say to Deb (in case for some bizarre reason she didn’t know) that David Tennant is also meant to be at NYCC (for ‘Jessica Jones’ on Saturday).

    I’m way down in Atlanta, so I won’t be able to attend, but I know she loves David muchly, so I thought I’d mention it. 🙂

  4. terminuspodcast said:

    Oh, and I’m with Tansy — I love ’42’ more than ‘Impossible Planet/Satan Pit’ as well! I always find ’42’ a very underrated story and am always surprised by the hate it gets. It is definitely one of my favorite Martha stories (who is my fave companion, so that helps), but it is also one of my favorites of the new series as well. 🙂

    • Deborah Stanish said:

      Now I think I may need to rematch. I certainly don’t hate it, I just don’t remember much of it which, as a viewer, is never a good sign.

    • sostorm said:

      I completely agree. 42 is a great story. So many details I love about it.

  5. George Machin said:

    I agree that there were Impossible Planet vibes but surely that can only be a good thing!

    • Deborah Stanish said:

      Like I said on the ep – if it’s going to be reminiscent of something, Impossible Planet isn’t a bad choice. And, as Tansy reminded us, Impossible planet was EIGHT YEARS AGO. My did THAT happen?!

  6. I’ve steered clear of the series synopses but I did go to the RadioTimes Festival and Moffat said that all the episodes are ‘potential’ two-parters. He just wanted to remove the certainty nearing the end that everything will be wrapped up. I was left thinking that at least one will be basically stand-alone with the linked titles as a tease. So I think Erika should keep her open-minded approach and ignore Deb’s ‘there all two-parters!’ (even if she turns out to be correct).

  7. James McCrory said:

    Regarding flooded villages, my take would be that there was need for a reservoir and a suitable valley was chosen in which they was unfortunately a village. The valley was dammed, the villagers evacuated, and the valley flooded – so that the stored waters could be used for a nearby city or industry… E.g. in the Highlands of Scotland some high valleys were dammed to act as a source of hydro-electric power, for times when there was an emergency need for extra power over and above that which could be supplied by the Scottish grid.

    At times of space capacity electric power was used to pump water uphill in preparation.

  8. One small thing that really stood out for me in this episode is that, for the first time in Capaldi’s run (as far as I can remember), The Doctor really looks like he’s having fun at a couple of points. I have only watched it once, but I recall a scene of him running down a corridor with a giant grin on his face. The Capaldi Doctor is finally striking a balance between grumpy and delighted. I love him even more than I did last year – and I really loved him last year. He is making a serious run at supplanting my default favorite Doctor (Pertwee).

  9. John Müller said:

    This is a completely self-serving remark to qualify for the Amazon gift card.

    …oh, and really enjoy your podcast, too!

  10. Loved the discussion ladies…and thought I’d add a little remembrance that occurred to me…I kept trying to remember why the suspended animation chamber seemed so familiar – been thinking for the last few days…and I remembered I read the CS Lewis space Triolgy last year …and space travelers in his books traveled in the same way…some useless FYI…but who else could I share it with? 👽

  11. Chuck C said:

    I have decided that I want Morven Christie to be the next companion. Loved her on Grantchester and loved her in this.

    Also, 42 rocks. 🙂

  12. Katrina in Oz said:

    Loved this ep. It might be my imagination but is the Doctor and Clara friendship seems very reminiscent of the First Doctor and Vicki.

    I also loved how they’re referring to classic episodes in the set design.

  13. Rodney said:

    I must say that I was a little taken aback by the usually thoughtful Deb in this episode when talking about her dislike for the new writer of “Class”. Funnily enough, it wasn’t her general comment (that once again a woman was overlooked for a man) that bothered me but rather the dismissal of a rather important argument- that you give the job to the person best qualified for it. It was the throwaway line that “I think it reflects more on the person saying it” was a tad disingenuous. I actually think that as an idea, it’s a pretty good one don’t you think? You know, you pick the best person available to you to do the job regardless of sex, religion, race, creed etc. I can’t speak for the specific case in point (and WERE a more suitable female writer available then I think Deb has a right to be miffed), but to blindly the dismiss the argument as a whole seems very thoughtless.

    Please don’t get me wrong, I love this podcast, love all the ladies on it, love the way it makes me think about the program, just think perhaps Deb was a bit careless here…..

    • Paul A. said:

      Rodney, when it comes to Doctor Who screenwriters we’re looking back at a seven-year streak in which “the best available person regardless of sex” has been male every single time. Either there’s something terribly wrong with the state of female screenwriters in Britain or there’s good grounds to be dubious of anyone who says that the makers of Doctor Who are just picking the best person for the job. I know which I think is more likely.

      • Rodney said:

        If you actually bothered to read what I said, you would see I had no issue with her bringing this obvious problem up. It was the rather dismissive way she made the sweeping generalisation that if you argue “you pick the right person for the job” then you are somehow lying and that ‘it reflects more on the person saying it”. I don’t doubt either yours or Deb’s argument IN THIS INSTANCE but to basically dismiss the argument all together seems remarkably churlish for someone who is usually on point and fair handed.

      • Paul A. said:

        I don’t think Deb’s dismissal was a “sweeping generalisation” in the sense of saying that “they pick the right person for the job” is never true anywhere. I saw it as fitting into the context of Doctor Who, where – as you yourself say is obvious – there’s a long-running problem of the show’s decisionmakers not actually using that as their guideline. Anybody who, after the seven years we’ve had, still uses “they pick the best available person for the job” as their go-to explanation is clearly not engaging with the evidence.

        I don’t say “lying”, by the way, and I think it’s only fair to Deb to point out that she didn’t say “lying”, either. They might just not have really thought about it enough to notice the pattern, which doesn’t make them a bad person, though it does mean their opinion doesn’t carry as much weight as somebody who has thought the issue through more deeply.

  14. Okay – no one mentioned this in either this episode or the next: but there was a moment during an exchange between Cass and the Doctor where the camera stayed completely focused on Cass and her hands and although you could hear Lunn you never saw him and it was WONDERFUL. I was SO pleased to see them do that: to acknowledge who the conversations are between so very well. (And I’m a little surprised Erica didn’t mention it given the similar situation in the B5 ep with the Ivanova Dance, that the Audio Guide covered a few weeks ago. But then, no one can mentioned everything.)

    But yeah, I loved that moment so very much.

    (On Class – I’m still miffed that I didn’t get the Paternoster Row spinoff I wanted, so all new spinoffs are currently dead to me. 🙂 )

  15. Paul A. said:

    Brief responses to a few of the episode’s asides:

    – I don’t agree with Tansy about “The Mythmakers” being a classic base-under-siege story, because in the classic base-under-siege story the Doctor is inside the base trying to keep the besiegers out.

    – This isn’t the first time the Twelfth Doctor has had a Sherlock-like line about deleting things from his memory: he had one in the Christmas special. It annoyed me then, too.

    – The sonic sunglasses remind me of RTD’s decision to make the TARDIS key an ordinary door key instead of a visually-distinct (and merchandisable) prop, reportedly because he thought it would be nice for child viewers to be able to play at being the Doctor with something they might actually have around their homes.

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