Once again for this series of Doctor Who, Blogtor Who is looking at all the nods and references to adventures which have gone before. This time its the turn of Demons of the Punjab. So even if you are not already a Mastermind expert on all things in the Whoniverse, you can appreciate the little detail as well. Perhaps you are a very knowledgeable Whovian already but did you spot them all?
The TARDIS’ telepathic circuits have been an element in Doctor Who long before Demons of the Punjab. In fact, you could argue they go right the way back to 1964’s The Edge of Destruction. Then the Doctor and Susan both suffer from confusion and headaches when the ship tries to warn them of disaster. (No wonder if the Doctor later installed the Cloister Bell as an alternative.) But it wasn’t until 1973’s Frontier in Space they received their name.
But the idea of being able to set the TARDIS’s destination with them is a relatively new idea. It was in the DVD extra Good Night that the Eleventh Doctor, with typical whimsy, revealed the telepathic circuits can locate the exact time and place of a passenger’s saddest memory – and uses it to allow Amy to buy her childhood self a replacement ice cream after her own falls.
It became more important in episodes like The Name of the Doctor, where the Doctor uses them to find Trenzalore. And then Listen, where they bring the Doctor and Clara on a tour of the Pink family’s past and future. In Dark Water, their function is stretched further, when Clara’s thoughts of Danny are used to try and locate him in the afterlife.
Demons of the Punjab stretches the telepathic navigation circuits still further. Here they’re almost more like ‘psychic circuits’. They can pick up impressions left on an object by the owner to track them back to a crucial moment. In this case, the Doctor uses Yaz’s Nani’s broken watch to travel back to see the young Umbreen in the 24 hours before its screen was smashed.
Father’s Grandmother’s Day
The Doctor is troubled by the idea of bringing a companion back into her own family history for a look. It’s understandable, really, given what happened when she brought Rose Tyler back in time to meet her dead father Pete. That time Rose couldn’t resist the temptation to change a fixed point in time and broke open Time itself to let the Reapers in. The whole world is devoured except for the holdouts in a single old church. And in the end, Pete has to make the ultimate sacrifice to put things right. On that occasion, the Doctor claims the Time Lords would generally prevent the Reapers from breaking through.
So what that does mean for Demons in the Punjab? Perhaps the Reapers couldn’t come back even if Yaz somehow had prevented Prem’s death? Or do the Time Lords’ current low profile mean they wouldn’t intervene? However, she expresses her concern about Yaz accidentally writing herself out of existence (an idea the Twelfth Doctor pooh-poohed in Thin Ice).
Listen carefully to the Doctor’s inner conflict about whether to bring Yaz back in time. She keeps moving between the possible dangers and her desire to be kind. In fact, she later grumbles that her problem is that she’s only brought the TARDIS to the Punjab because she’s “too kind.” “Be kind,” said the Twelfth Doctor just before he let the Doctor go. It’s a nice parallel that Demons of the Punjab sees the Thirteenth Doctor trying to live up to that commitment. Even despite her better judgement to the contrary.
Prem and Umbreen enlist the Doctor to provide a non-denominational blessing to their marriage after their previous officiant got murdered by the groom’s brother. Apart from sounding like an EastEnders Radio Times listing, it’s not the first wedding the Doctor’s been to. In The Wedding of River Song, the Doctor even acts as both minister and groom in his eponymous wedding to the giant haired space archaeologist. Neatly, the Time Lord ceremony echoes the hybrid Hindu/Muslim one in Demons of the Punjab. It too combines the bride and groom’s hands being bound together and a treasured possession of the groom. Though in Wedding both making use of the Doctor’s favourite bow tie. The Doctor’s also gotten married to Elizabeth I (and also, as only he could manage, was two of the wedding guests).
And the Doctor was also a guest at both the wedding of Rose’s parents and of Jackie’s friend Sarah to her fiance Stuart. He also turned up to his former companion Sarah Jane’s wedding to Peter Dalton in The Sarah Jane Adventures. But as it turned out that Dalton was already dead and the whole thing a trap set by the Trickster (the same being responsible for the attack on Donna Noble’s timeline in Turn Left) so Blogtor Who isn’t sure that counts. Similarly, he gatecrashed the wedding of his companion Romana to Count Grendel of Tara before it could be completed.
Something borrowed, something blue
The Doctor was rather more enthusiastic when his companions Amy and Rory married each other to become ‘the Ponds’ (yes, it absolutely worked like that Rory). He even invented ‘the Drunk Giraffe’ dance to celebrate. In his Tenth incarnation doesn’t quite attend the (second) wedding of Donna Noble. But he holds back on the margins of the church grounds to give her mother and grandfather his gift to the couple – a winning lottery ticket bought with a pound from her late father.
Offscreen, the Doctor claims to have gone through a wedding ceremony with Marilyn Monroe but that it was annulled. It’s also lightly implied that they were a guest at the Master’s daughter’s wedding (though Missy is distracted before she can finish the thought).
Death is Getting Crowded
Consider Prem’s last day in Demons of the Punjab. What a strange day it is, when you think about it. First, a pair of bat headed blue aliens arrive to stand witness over his death. Then suddenly, time freezes and a woman made of glass comes along to whisk him into a giant spaceship to make an exact copy of his memories and personality. Then he gets dumped back in Punjab just in time to get shot. And then he wakes up in the Nethersphere with Missy explaining how he’s arrived in the promised land. Sixty years later he digs his way out of his own grave, after being turned into a Cyberman. All before throwing himself into the sky and exploding on Danny Pink’s say-so. And five billion years later he wakes up again, this time cast in glass rather than steel.
It’s a funny old afterlife, really.
The adventure continues…
Doctor Who continues this Sunday at 6.30pm GMT on BBC One and at 8pm EST on BBC America with Kerblam! by Pete McTighe. For further broadcast times in your region, check local listings. Series 11 stars Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Mandip Gill (Yasmin Khan), Bradley Walsh (Graham O’Brien) and Tosin Cole (Ryan Sinclair).
Kerblam! guest stars Julie Hesmondhalgh and Lee Mack and is directed by Jennifer Perrott.
“Delivery for the Doctor!”
A mysterious message arrives in a package addressed to the Doctor, leading her, Graham, Yaz and Ryan to investigate the warehouse moon orbiting Kandoka, and the home of the galaxy’s largest retailer: Kerblam!