Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

It’s a rare on-location Verity! with an even-rarer special guest! Join Erika, Liz, and returning guest, Caroline Symcox as we discuss part one of the season finale story. It was some intense Doctor Who, and we have some intense reactions to it. We also have some wacky theorizing.

Warning: Wacky theorizing may cause disappointment when the show doesn’t do what the wacky theory said it might. Or, at least, it will if you’re Liz.

How did this part-one-of-two strike you? What are your theories? Tell us in the comments!


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Comments on: "Episode 143 – Cool World Enough and Time" (14)

  1. […] And finally, I just had my 50th birthday party (though my actual birthday isn’t until July), which was a lovely, sprawling weekend of fun, featuring several house guests, many of whom had to record podcasts.  So I ended up guesting on Radio Free Skaro, and Caroline ended up on Verity! […]

  2. Reblogged this on Confessions of a Curator, Editor, Geek and commented:

    New Verity!

  3. Re: Timing

    There are two times we see the comparison clocks for Floor 0000 and Floor 1056. The first time is right after Bill wakes up, and the clock is on Day 365,034 for Floor 1056 (it’s been 1000 years since the black hole encounter down here!). Later, right before Bill stares pensively out the window and asks, “How much longer, Doctor? How many more years?” it reads 365,433. That means Bill has been on Floor 1056 for just over a year (399 days since waking).

    It can’t have been too many months after that when the Doctor finally arrives (though that dang magic elevator and how the time dilation affects it have been driving me batty trying to figure it all out…).

    • I’ve been having trouble with the time difference between a person’s head and their feet! At the extreme scales that are present, there would be a readily discernible difference before not too much time had past.

      On the look of floor 1056, in the opening tracking shot you see into that chamber through the window, and it’s all but deserted. So they have had 1000 years to build and rebuild. Given that the ship is demonstrably filled with soil, water, rock etc, it’s quite plausible that buildings of brick and stone abound. Indeed this could be the result of a technological decline – a civilisation once capable of building a 400 km long colony ship is now reduced to early industrial building techniques. All of their technological resources are now being poured into their macabre medical works.

  4. Dave in Chicago said:

    I actually thought this episode was fairly inspired by the 6th Doctor era – it was relentlessly grim, and the whole “companion is murdered, abandoned for years, and then murdered again” is exactly the kind of thing they’d make Peri endure.

  5. Wahiaronkwas said:

    I thought the opening was more of an internal battle for the Doctor. Maybe Simm!Master tries to take over the Doctor’s body and the Doctor starts regenerative process to rid his body of the hitchhiker.

  6. Wahiaronkwas said:

    Also I agree Peter Capaldi is magnificent.

  7. A general question: was this too grim? The sequence when Bill was first exploring the hospital was perhaps the most horrifying thing ever shown on Doctor Who. And it was sustained for so long! Is this really what Doctor Who is supposed to do? Could the horro have been communicated without being *that* horrifying?

  8. stranger said:

    I have a theory. Doctor Who (the person we have known since 1963 with 13 different faces) is actually a persona or role adopted by a Gallifreyan individual. The Master is another persona. In the same way a visitor to Westworld may chose to be a black hat or a white hat when he enters the games arena. The 13th doctor as played by Peter Capaldi may regenerate into a black hat character (Derek Jacobi?) so Missy will have to assume the white hat role of Doctor Who. Hence Michelle Gomez trying on the role in a mocking way. Just as you might externalise your doubts before trying on a daring new item of clothing you know everyone will comment on. This might be a parting mind fuck from Steven Moffat before Chris Chibnall takes over. We know Chris Chibnall writes women roles very well so may be happy to let Michelle Gomez go further on as the new female Doctor Who.

  9. Richard S said:

    One overwhelming reaction and quite a few (too many?) smaller ones coming up.

    I’m lucky enough to be the exact right (Cornell-specific) age, and the right temperament that, whenever I saw the original cloth-faced Cybermen on a book cover or a rare TV clip in the 1970s, I always found them quite… uncanny. My biggest fear, coming into this episode, was that the New Mondasians would look as silly as they appeared in that comedic double-take from the pre-series trailer. But, oh, my, goodness, Proper Scary or what. All thanks to the genius direction by Rachel Talalay, and a setting that reminded me, more than anything, of the dream sequences in the original version of Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective.

    Loved the use of the black hole, as suggested to Moffat by his son Joshua. I’ve been thinking about their comment in DWM, that the concept of Time Dilation is hardly ever touched in science fiction. I came up with a couple of examples: the Hugo-winning, Vatican-centric novel series The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons… and, on TV, The One Where Joey Got Dumped By His Co-Star From That Critically Mauled Stage Play.

    Overall opinion of this week’s episode: I would have liked to hear more of Erika’s initial reaction to the show from her first, proper, actual, official watch. When the end credits rolled, I didn’t know what to think either. Apart from an overwhelming feeling of: “…bill? …bill??… Noooooo!…… MOFFAT!!!!!!”

    Came away from that cliffhanger with pretty much the whole rest of my Saturday night and the past 10 episodes ruined. Irretrievably. FOR EVER. Possibly. I don’t know. Afterwards, I watched the funny & pragmatic interview with producer Brian Minchin on The DW Fan Show, which helped me put the episode into perspective & calm down. A bit. But, ohhhh… MOFFAT!!!!!!

    I know exactly where this reaction comes from. It’s rooted firmly in a place you visited on last week’s podcast around the 20 minute mark, during your discussion about peril:

    Tansy: “I liked that the peril was… Bill has got separated and they don’t know where she is….”
    Deb: “But did you really think that was peril? Because that’s such a Classic Trope in Doctor Who.”

    Hmmm, well, I see it as peril. Don’t know if other phobia-prone viewers ever feel this way, but… Whenever a companion becomes separated from the TARDIS, especially when they’re separated in a particularly thorough and more permanent-seeming-than-usual way, I start feeling an unpleasantly edgy sense of agoraphobic tension.

    It’s not a full-blown panic attack, had enough of those in the real world, thank you. It’s more of a sympathetic feeling of shock & isolation, that agoraphobic belief you’ll never be able to return to the place or person you regard as safe. Fortunately, as the episode progresses, and the companion begins to engage with the inhabitants of her/his new temporary home, that feeling of mine tends to fade.

    Didn’t fade this time. Nuh-uh. Instead, the consequence of the Doctor’s (IMHO) exasperatingly misplaced faith in Missy, and the effect of time dilation on Bill’s predicament filled me with a growing sense of dismay which made the majority of the episode unnerving and very unpleasant to watch.

    I know, that was the point of the story. I’d certainly name this as Moffat’s Most Effective DW episode. In order to think of it as his Best Episode Ever, I need to be in a position where I can actually enjoy watching it. Which will (hopefully) be the mission of this weekend’s entirely satisfying and uplifting finale. I’m expecting a unique take on the reset button trope, possibly even a return to factory settings. And, on the subject of Moffat-y trolling, I would be so filled with glee by the following hypothetical nugget of scripted banter:

    “You don’t even have a PLAN, do you? You’re just making it up as you go along!”

    “Of COURSE I’m making it up! We ALWAYS make it up! Have you forgotten? All those years we lived as the Master of the Land of Fiction…”

  10. This is probably delving into the too-geeky realm, if that’s allowed…
    Just before this ep aired, I had looked up the simulations on population numbers to repopulate humanity with an Ark spaceship, for a friend who was wondering if she could get away from anti-feminist commenters by creating her own Foundation population (as one does, long story). I came up with a couple of articles, one in Popular Mechanics (, the other in peer-reviewed literature ( The short version is, to account for genetic diversity and possible catastrophic events, you’d need way more than 20-50 people to repopulate, more like 10,000. So I ended up spending part of the first part of the story wondering where all the others came from, given that they started with too few. Is it possible that there were colonists in stasis? Or that someone (Evil Scientists, CyberSurgeons, the Master…) brought more people to initiate the Cyber conversion experiments? Or maybe they were enforcing breeding (artificial wombs?) to populate the space? Or recruiting from people responding to help calls? Hence the collection of humans from the black hole end, since you’d always need more breeding stock?

    Possibly overthinking there.

  11. Rhys McIntosh said:

    Just a beautiful episode. Very much looking forward to how it all wraps up. I really hope Bill is saved and given some agency in her departure or ending.
    I’ve been feeling the “Nardole is made of scrap parts” vibe was a subtle hint to the Cyberman finale all season, or even clues hidden in plain sight, but now I’m thinking his link to River is much more important. Like she’s downloaded herself into his body and it’s been River (or a version or pseudo regeneration) trolling/keeping an eye on the Doctor this whole time.
    All scenes with Missy and the Master will be utterly delightful, I’m curious if Moffat will show Simm regenerate into Missy. Maybe Missy will cause herself? Maybe there’s a Master in between!
    One thing I’d like to see is Doctor Who and Missy dying together in some sort of completed arc or self sacrifice and both regenerating at the same time. But because of post regeneration amnesia they (and we) don’t know who is who! Are there any identical twin actors they could cast in both roles? If not I think one of them needs to be Georgia Moffett to make that whole relationship even more nerdishly doctorish.

  12. Missy says being friends with anyone other than a fellow Time Lord is cradle-snatching….guess she’d like this video to the song “Does Your Mother Know”!

  13. […] especially recording last week’s Verity! with Caroline […]

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