Once again this series of Doctor Who, Blogtor Who is looking at all the nods and references to adventures which have gone before. 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?
Pure Celebrity Historical
The Doctor and their companions meeting figures from history goes all the way back to William Hartnell’s first season when he wound up having his TARDIS impounded by Marco Polo. Back in the 60s Doctor Who these were what came to be known as ‘pure’ historicals. They largely saw the Doctor and co found themselves messed up in some sort of event in history. The narrative followed them trying to get themselves out again but, unlike in Rosa, they themselves were the only science fiction element.
In the 21st century we’ve seen the rise of the ‘celebrity’ historical. In these some famous figure gets rewarded for their general awesomeness by getting a window into the Doctor’s world. They help fight some space monsters and the Doctor inspires them with a rousing speech about how brilliant they are.
Rosa represents a fusion of the two approaches. Rosa Parks is absolutely the star of the episode and the crew – Ryan in particular – get to fanboy over her. There’s also a competing time traveller here to put wrong what once went right. So it all sounds like a modern celebrity historical. But the focus is absolutely on the real event and the educational value in informing a modern audience about it. Just like in the days of the pure historicals.
Krasko’s vortex manipulator is a tool with a long history in Doctor Who. We see one for the first time in 2005’s The Empty Child though it’s originally presented as a fancy multi-tool gadget owned by Captain Jack rather than a time machine in its own right. It’s only in 2007’s Utopia we find out its true name and purpose. Since then vortex manipulators have become the default non-TARDIS time machines of Doctor Who. Apart from Jack we’ve also seen them on the wrists of River Song, Missy, Captain John Hart and now Kraskow. Even UNIT had one locked away in the Black Archive for a while.
Mind you, Krasko’s is obviously from the cheaper end of the market – Captain Jack’s once survived having a bomb big enough to destroy the entire Torchwood Hub blow up right next to it, but the one here can’t even stand up to a Time Lord’s boot.
Krasko’s also got something else in common with River Song. They’ve both spent time in Stormcage the most secure (*cough*) prison in the universe. In fact, it’s an early sign that Krako might actually be a bit naff at this super-villain business that he winds up meekly sitting out his long sentence there. After all, River used to take her life prison sentence there as purely a suggestion and walk in and out all the time.
Up and Down
It’s true that we actually saw the new TARDIS console room for the first time last week’s Doctor Who. But Rosa is the first time we get a good clear look at the new, crystalline time rotor. While this central column has extended all the way to the ceiling even since 1996’s TV movie starring Paul McGann, the new one echoes earlier ones by being only extending part of the way. Other modern time rotors have had some sort of movement inside the mechanism but been otherwise static. However the 2018 model returns to the days of the whole thing actually rising and falling out of the console.
Father Christmas isn’t Banksy… or are they?
When the Doctor teases that she might be mysterious, faceless performance artist Banksy’s true identity it’s reminiscent of the Ninth Doctor’s joking about being Santa. Or was he joking? When Rose Tyler says he’s “like Father Christmas,” the Doctor shoots back “Who says I’m not? Red bicycle when you were twelve.” Rose’s shocked reaction makes clear she really did get a red bicycle off Santa when she was twelve so who knows? And if the Doctor is Santa… And the Doctor is Banksy… Mind blown, people.
And let’s remember the Doctor is the same person who once wrote “THIS IS A FAKE” in permanent marker on Leonardo Di Vinci’s blank canvas before the great artist painted the genuine Mona Lisa on top of it. Just so it would show up in X-Rays five centuries later as the ultimate post modern commentary on the authenticity of art. Being Banksy is totally the sort of thing she’d do.
Towards the end of Rosa, Ryan tries desperately to get as many white people to crowd the fateful bus as possible. He even resorts to running down the street after a certain couple down the street begging them to take the bus (yelling ‘Old people!’ at them might not have helped matters, to be fair). The husband, Arthur, is played by American character actor Morgan Deare. He’s actually been in Doctor Who before, as the CIA agent Hawk in the 1950s set Delta and the Bannermen. It’s even about a bus. Okay, it’s a time machine disguised as a bus which has crash landed in Wales but still. What are the odds?
These are the things that we noticed. Let us know what you saw if they don’t appear above.
The Doctor Who adventure continues…
Doctor Who continues this Sunday at 6.55pm GMT on BBC One and at 8pm EST on BBC America with Arachnids in the UK by Chris Chibnall. Series 11 stars Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Mandip Gill (Yasmin Khan), Bradley Walsh (Graham O’Brien), and Tosin Cole (Ryan Sinclair). Arachnids in the UK guest stars Chris Noth, Shobna Gulati, Tanya Fear and is directed by Sallie Aprahamian.
“Something’s happening with the spiders in this city.” The Doctor, Yaz, Graham and Ryan find their way back to Yorkshire – and Yaz’s family. Only something is stirring amidst the eight-legged arachnid population of Sheffield.
The first four episodes of Series Eleven, plus the ten previous seasons, are all available on iPlayer’s Doctor Who page.