Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

VerityEpisode95It’s a live-in-person (though not live-in-front-of-a-studio-audience) episode of Verity! Join Deb and Erika as we sit in a hotel room at LI Who and talk about the con and what we liked (and didn’t) about Mark Gatiss’ latest story, “Sleep No More”.

What did you think of this story? It seems to be a divisive one. Which side of the divide were you on? Let us know in the comments! (And remember to be civil.)



Download or listen now (runtime 49:36) 

Comments on: "Ep 95 – Sleep No More Than Words" (27)

  1. Squib said:

    I liked the theme they were continuing here of picking up threads from Tom Baker’s first season.We’ve had references to ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ and ‘Terror of the Zygons’. Now we’ve got lot of mirror references to ‘Ark in Space’.

    – People in sleep chambers,
    – Creatures attacking them while they slept
    – The scientist is wearing Noah’s ‘Ark in Space’ costume but its black instead of white
    – The space station rushes towards the surface of the planet
    – There are nasty things sneaking onto the rescue ship
    – The dust monsters hands look like they’re wearing bubble wrap,
    – Clara/Sarah Jane is dragged into a sleep chamber
    – There’s been a disaster on Earth, etc, etc.

    So, will we see cybermen on the space station in future?

    I like it but it does suffer from coming after two of the best episodes in years.

    • Squib said:

      P.S. there are apects of the Revenge of the Cybermen too. The monsters were rather like feral Vogons in look. And the crashing spacestation scene was from that story

  2. terminuspodcast said:

    I definitely didn’t like this episode very much, mostly because to me it was just a hot mess plotting and structure-wise (seriously, I felt like I had no idea what I’d just watched at the end).

    The thing I found most problematic though was the character of 474. Now, to be fair, as I’m genderqueer and my wife is trans, we were REALLY looking forward to seeing Bethany Black in the episode (especially as she was so great in RTD’s ‘Banana’), so to see the character she ended up as was very disheartening. In fact my wife almost stopped watching by about 10 minutes in, as she was so angry.

    Now, it was definitely a microagression and I’m sure Gatiss did not mean anything by it (in fact, I’ve since learned that Black and Gatiss are friends, as apparently Black used to be a roller derby skater and a friend of my wife’s — who is also in derby — knows her personally and opened a dialogue about the episode on my wife’s Facebook when she saw her ranting about the episode). But it was still problematic in my opinion. 😦

    This is what my wife said on her Facebook about it:
    “Turns out her character is a “grunt”–a barely-human, literally-grown-in-a-vat, genderless, nameless, mostly-brainless wall of muscle. The character had few lines, none of them complete sentences. One minor subplot of the show was literally about one of the characters making fun of this one for barely even being human and calling them “it”. The basic role of the “grunt” character was to be the subject of this abuse, and then later in the show use their muscle in an act of self-sacrifice to try–and fail–to save the character that abused them most. And apparently the casting director thinks that the best actor to play this character just happens to be trans, and isn’t it especially progressive of them to have a trans actress in a role that’s not the token trans character.

    Oh, and it was so incredibly cliché that it was obvious what they intended to do with the character like maybe three minutes into the episodes.

    Basically it takes the widespread notion that “Hey, maybe trans people can occasionally be OK at playing trans people instead of needing cis people to do it for them (but certainly letting them play anything other than a trans character is impossible)” to “Oh, but I guess they can play dehumanized genderless brutes, too,” and presents that as somehow progressive.”

    Yeah..not happy-making in our household. 😦

    • John Noonan said:

      Thought you might be interested in what the actress has to say about the role:

      ‘When Chopra called me it? No, there were no knowing references to me being trans in the show at all. That was just him hating clones same as he hated the morpheus pods, he was just a bit of a luddite, the character is cisgender, she’s a clone, it’d be pointless to have a trans clone, terrible waste of money.

      I wasn’t cast because I’m trans, there were no references to it in the script, nothing was altered because they’d cast me, they were just casting women for the role, most of the cast and crew didn’t realise I was trans until I told them.’

  3. Alsike said:

    I didn’t know anything about Bethany Black, so I didn’t even think of the character in any terms besides ‘white slave’ which made me really uncomfortable. I was waiting for the reverse racism storyline to crop up — oh look, POCs can totally be oppressors, and I was hugely grateful that it did not obviously go there. But the set up was unfortunate.

    Honestly, there are two things about this season that are getting me down.

    1) is that all the minor characters are very, very skantily characterized. Yes, it’s great that we have trans-actresses, and POC actors, and Deaf actors, but can we give them some personality and individual goals? Can they be the center of the story? Can the Doctor and Clara care about them, rather than just joke around in the middle of a serious situation?

    2) Is it just me, or is there a dark filter over every episode in this season? Everything is dark and grim and grey and I have a really hard time following what’s happening visually.

    I’m really interested in how Clara is going to leave and why the doctor does seem to be mourning her! I love the fan theory about her having died in the Dalek, because it’s so horrible and sad. I hope whatever it is is done well.

    I’m a little sad for Mark Gatiss in regards to this episode. I know he cared about it a lot, and there were so many places where it could have been awesome, but technically it fell apart. The plot didn’t make any sense, and the reveal at the end didn’t shed any light on what the truth was. That’s what an end reveal is supposed to do, to give you enough info that the clues that have been dropped all along can be put back together to let the viewer grasp the real story. But this reveal made the narrative seem like a lot of pointless running around. The episode could have been really good, but it needed some work.

  4. sostorm said:

    First I’d just like to say that I love how positive you are/try to be. I generally like this series and I absolutely LOVED the last one. I adore the Clara/Doctor relationship and I’m occasionally dragged down with the despise/hate that’s thrown towards this series/the last one/Clara. You are my absolute anchor in all this, helping me find my way back to all the stuff I love about this series.

    That being said I did not like this at all. I think it was hard to see what was going on and I saw a definite parallell to the Blair Witch project, the way they also use handycam to amp up the tension because the real substance is lacking.

    I loved all the hints to the society and which they’d explored that more. I’m fascinated by an advanced society that needs people to work more. How does that work? We are going towards a society where more and more things are mechanised, what did they use their labour for? Our society will have to have people working less if where not going to have huge unemployment. Obviously they don’t use it for war because they have grunts for that. What are all these people doing with their time?

    I really like the monster of the week concept but I still want the monster to feel real. I want it to feel believable. This didn’t. I just don’t buy it.

    As for the ending. I recently listened to the Big Finish short story Special Features so I might be mixing things up, but I thought it was clear from the footage that he hadn’t yet managed to put in whatever was supposed to be spreading. So I just imagined that something happened which foiled his plan. I’ve just watched this once though and I had pretty much zoned out by the end of this episode.

    I didn’t realise this was the episode with Bethany Black in it and I’m pretty disappointed in the character she played. I have to agree with Deb on this. Very problematic.

    On a more positive note. The radio times has a clip of Big Finish Ten and Donna up:–but-weve-got-the-exclusive-first-clip-of-david-tennant-and-catherine-tates-return-to-doctor-who

  5. Steven said:

    One thing that jumped out at me, watching this, that I haven’t seen anyone else mention, was the tie-in with the end of Zygon Inversion.
    There you’ve got – Clara: you must have thought I was dead. Doctor: longest month of my life. Clara: it can only have been 5 minutes. Doctor: I’ll be the judge of time.
    Which fits rather too well with Morpheus concentrating a month of sleep into 5 minutes.

  6. I was similarly perplexed/grossed-out by the monsters this week. I did love those two moments between Clara and the Doctor. I also enjoyed the lost footage format. While not my favorite episode this series, in the end I am always just grateful there is new Who.

    I keep wondering why Clara is always being put inside things? She’s been in a Dalek three, the Zygon pod, the Morpheus machine. I’m probably forgetting some. And then, as Erika pointed out, things keep getting out inside her. What’s up with that?

    Thanks for another lovely conversation!

  7. Neil Ottenstein said:

    I thought it was a worthwhile experiment, but I don’t want to see them do it again.

    I did spot a few of the character names in the “word search” at the beginning. As soon as some of the characters were being introduced I thought I had seen that name and went back to the “word search” and saw some of them (I remember as least Chopra and Clara).

  8. Jeffrey said:

    As my girlfriend and I watched the episode she turned to me and said she would forever call this episode “The Eye Booger Episode”.

    I really wanted to try and defend it but could not bring myself to actually do it. At least the science part. I did enjoy the found footage aspect but the monsters just caused me issues.

  9. Madelyn said:

    Was it just me, or did Reece Shearsmith’s costume look like a Babylon 5 uniform?!

    • Paul A. said:

      It wasn’t just you. I thought the same thing.

      • Kirsten said:

        I’m quite late to the conversation- finally catching up on 12’s stories now- but I thought that immediately too! I’m really surprised that Erika didn’t mention it.

      • Hah! I can now reveal why I didn’t say anything! Steven is our “Control Group” over on The Audio Guide to Babylon 5.

        At that time, he hadn’t seen the new B5 “army of light” uniforms. I didn’t want to spoil him.

        He’s now seen them, so I can talk about it. But we’re only barely getting started with season 5 of B5, so no spoilers for anything after that! 🙂

  10. django said:

    I loved the episode. I think it’s through it’s similarities with ‘The Usual Suspects’ that lead people to think nothing we are shown actually happened. When the narrator is that unreliable, how can you know for sure that whatever they tell or show you is actually correct? Unlike some of the previous comments, I didn’t find the structure confusing. Yes, there are times when we didn’t know what was going on, but that was the point; we weren’t supposed to. I loved the audacity of the story we were being told not being the actual story, but an element of it.

    As for the sandmen (I find the US “eye booger” term hilarious. In the UK we just call it sleep which probably seems just as daft to you!) I liked their appearance, especially when parts of them turned into sand and when that happened to Rasmussen at the end, I found it more chilling than anything else we’ve seen since 2005. (But there again, as a child I was scarred by Horror of Fang Rock & could only watch The Ark In Space from the hall, through a frosted window, so I couldn’t see what was actually going on!)

    So far, this has been one of my favourite episodes this year (Along with Before The Flood). With the series having episodes that appeal to so many disparate tastes without totally alienating others, this has to be the strongest series since it’s return.)

  11. I actually loved this episode. I remember thinking that Doctor Who will make monsters of anything! Hey, Weeping Angels? Still my favorite. I think the reason Deb liked it first when she saw it was because she wasn’t trying to analyze it at the time and just watch it. I think after that when she tried to make sense of it (why??) it started to Dall apart for her. But I love the Doctor Who monster stories, so I’m fine with it leaving me hanging and unresolved.

    About using a Trans actress for the Grunt character, I had no idea the person was male or female or Trans. I think she played the part as given, so that’s a win for me. I think anyone could have played the part.

    Finally, if this entire season is all Clara still dreaming from the Last Christmas episode, I’ll be really disappointed! I don’t ever make fan theories about where Doctor Who is going, but I really think Moffat has gotten into my head! This idea just popped in a couple weeks ago and I can’t get rid of it. I’m shaking my fist at you, Steven Moffat!!

    • critchie17 said:

      I agree with you- I hope this isn’t all a dream for Clara! NO!

  12. Thanks for Face to Face variation. As for the monster problem…
    When the Doctor was first explaining them, I screwed up my face a little and thought “Huh?” But then I thought that must be a more metaphysical explanation than a science one.

    Maybe we were just never given the technical.
    Monstrous things can be the by product of trying to shortcut every natural process, assuming there is nothing too important to escape being sacrificed on the altar of …. what altar would that be? Efficiency? Greed? I’m thinking that the elites of that culture did not lose their full night of natural beauty rest. It’s odd how none of the crew saw the Morpheus process as an abomination except Chopra.

    I wonder if this process, named after the god of dreams, could really provide all the benefits of natural sleep. Such as dreams. Maybe the love the crew had for the Mr Sandman Bring Me A Dream song was born out of their need for the dreams they were lacking.

    So perhaps the eye boogers represent what Rasmussen’s artificial sleep cannot achieve. Monsters are born out of this deficiency.

    I’m thinking about the connections that the name Morpheus suggests. The god of sleep in mythology, Morpheus in the Matrix, and the Neil Gaimen Sandman. I’m sure there’s something interesting to be drawn from those connections. I’m also thinking I’d like to go back through the episode scene by scene to find the meta morsels.However, I am still wiping sleep from my eyes after a night of BiPap assisted sleep, and, alas, my day job calls.

  13. I have a pet theory about this episode. What if it was deliberately bad, in a way meant to bring attention to a failing in the way the ratings system dictates content? I am thinking about conversations around “The Greatest Show In The Galaxy.” Either way, I am glad the show is still willing to take risks.

  14. Kathy said:

    I enjoyed this episode so much that I didn’t notice that it didn’t have opening credits until the 3rd time I watched it. One complaint though – why do a lot of the monsters currently seem to have vagina-esque faces. I mean, the Fisher King, the sandmen – really (and don’t get me started on the Ood)

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