SAN FRANCISCO, 1969
The wailing cries and patter of tiny feet were music to a nurse’s ears and the key to warming her heart.
There was tangible outburst of mixed emotion at the hospital; there was much caution, concern, as well as joy.
Only a few days ago, man had recently touched down on the moon, and now seemingly another miracle had occurred in the form of several new arrivals, all left on the doorstep of the hospital, and their birth certificates listing names and addresses that belonged to patients that had recently experienced miscarriages.
It was a mystery as to why this was, who was behind the arrival of these miracle babies?
How did they know which parents had experienced their own personal tragedies?
As the staff prepared the new arrivals wing of the maternity ward, these questions were at the forefront of everyone’s minds, even as the nurses thrilled to the cradling and care of newborn life.
Someone else had caught wind of this too, a trim and slim looking man with a fetching tweed jacket and bow tie who had popped in to say a couple of things.
He was looking for someone.
The babies in the ward, some of them girls, were most excited, more than usual.
It was one of the first times they gazed upon a man.
A slim looking man with a fetching tweed jacket and bow tie had popped in to say hello.
“Hello sweetie” he said.
The babies cried, and kicked, and screamed, and gurgled, but the look on the man’s face became gloomier with each outburst of emotion on their part.
It wasn’t producing the desired result.
And the nurses were staring at him, making small talk among themselves as to why he was in the ward seemingly chatting up infants.
“Ok, not one of you knows what I mean by that, and this probably looks very wrong right about now, but before I take my leave, I’d rather an adult in the room answer a question for me”
“Can I help you sir?” asked the nurse.
“Yes, very much so…what is he doing here?” The Doctor responded.
“Excuse me?” the Nurse asked, a little perplexed
“And him, and him, him, him and him” The Doctor said, pointing to six of the babies in a row.
“I don’t know what you mean by this, these are new arrivals; you do know your way around this hospital don’t you?”
The Doctor produced his ‘credentials’ on the psychic paper, informing the nurse he was a Doctor from a local clinic sent to check on a specific arrival by the name of Melody Pond.
“I’ll talk to the orderly in charge Mr. Smith, he’s around here somewhere”
“Take your time”
The nurse took her leave to fetch the orderly.
“You shouldn’t be here; none of you should be in here…not in this place or time, who decided you of all people, ought to be made vulnerable?”
Several of the babies in a row stared at him with a mesmerising expression.
“Don’t give me the eye, I know you’re not regarded as average Joes” The Doctor responded.
“Sir? The orderly in charge of new arrivals as you requested” came the kindly voice of the nurse.
The Doctor turned only for a cold shiver to travel down every fibre of his being.
“Bruce, this is Doctor John Smith” the nurse said, making the formal introductions.
“Trying to pick out your favourite Asian child Doctor?” Bruce said, extending his hand for The Doctor to shake it.
The Doctor, not wanting to make too much of a scene, at least as long as the nurse was present, gripped Bruce’s hand lightly. He could feel Bruce tighten his grip in a vice like manner.
The Doctor did not cave in to the pressure, though his face was clearly strained by the pain.
Satisfied with this, Bruce released his grip.
The Doctor scrambled to think of what to best do next once the nurse had disappeared.
He had met this orderly before, in the same city, only several decades into the future. Bruce was a free man then, an innocent ambulance orderly who had become the latest in an endless list of victims at the hands of The Doctor’s arch rival.
This was no longer Bruce, he was forever The Master.
“Are you looking for someone Doctor?” Bruce asked.
The Doctor was hesitant to answer, if ‘Bruce’ knew that he was looking for the child that would become River Song, it would be quite a catch for him were he to intercept her before he could. The havoc they would wreak together scarcely bore thinking about.
“That can wait, I’d like to know where all these babies came from” The Doctor responded.
“Can I tell you a story of the birds and bees over a glass of fruit juice?” Bruce taunted.
“You know what I mean, we can speak baby, both of us, and we know these children are touched with darkness, some of them are a bit ego-centric, already telling me everything they’d like to do, babies always have some negative impulses to work through, but I unfortunately recognise some of them based off their voices and mannerisms. What do you see when you talk to them?”
“I see a bright future Doctor, I see good men”
“Really? You’ve picked a fine motley bunch. Let’s list them all shall we?”
The Doctor strolled along the ward, naming each child as he went.
Additionally, he also listed their crimes, or rather, their future crimes.
“Gian Lugi Ferri, in 1993 he will walk into the law offices of Pettit and Martin on the 34th floor of 101 California Street. Put on a pair of orange ear protectors, and will commence shooting at random with three semi-automatic pistols”
The Doctor looked over at the small group of babies that had given him a gander earlier.
“These boys are all members of the Joe gang, who on September 4th 1977, raided what was then the Golden Dragon restaurant in an attempt to assassinate the leader of Wah Ching, a rival gang. They killed five and wounded eleven with a barrage of bullets. It was labelled the bloodiest massacre in the annals of city history”
“Let’s not forget Dan White, who in 1978 acted under the influences of misunderstood pressure from conservative departments and constituents, and had a couple of spills with bad junk food. He assassinated Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. Infamously convicted of manslaughter and not murder after mounting what was known as the Twinkie Defence” Bruce added.
“He also dealt with severe depression” The Doctor snapped back.
“He was also once hailed as a hero in the news for saving a woman and her baby while on the job. He was already capable of the most incredible good, I almost refused to consider sending him back to start again, but then I remembered the strains life had put on him”
The Doctor walked back up to Bruce and grabbed him by the lapels of his black jacket.
“Some of the most heinous crimes committed in San Francisco, or will come to occur in San Francisco, monsters each of these children will become, and they’re all lined up, ready and waiting to be returned to their parents, but not their actual parents, by new ones. You’re trying to alter the course of history”
Bruce pushed The Doctor back with a firm ferocity.
“This is my good deed for the day Doctor; I’m giving these monsters a second chance before they have the opportunity to squander their first ones. They’ll go to people that can raise them well, people who thought they’d lost on their own chance to do right by a child”
“And I suppose you scouted them before hand? Followed them along their personal timeline and found they had perfectly inoffensive lives?” The Doctor said, his anger steadily growing.
“Are you proposing that they are effective in their own history by being who they are? Lost souls? Killers?” Bruce continued, knowing precisely which buttons to press where The Doctor’s morality was concerned.
“In a way, they sort of are. They are established in the web of life, they are fixed points, and they are historical fact. Unravelling the web of time is dangerous, but that’s never been lesson you appear to have ever learned”
“You think in such linear terms” Bruce said dismissively.
“Somebody has to, our people lost sight of it, you lost sight of it, and I’ve come close to losing sight of it, but in the end whatever will be, will be”
“Did your mother teach you that?” taunted Bruce.
The Doctor chose at this moment to turn the subject back to the delicate matter of how to best handle the situation going forward.
“I think you’d best leave, you know I won’t stand for this, I have to take these babies back” he said.
“Your good deed is to ensure evil carries on…a fitting karmic punishment for your sins that have been and for your sins yet to come” Bruce said, taking his leave.
The nurse returned to the ward just as Bruce departed, she looked at the haunted expression on The Doctor’s face, his features were paler, and his hands were visibly shaking, tightened into knotted fists.
He knew what to do, he would take them all back in the TARDIS, but first he had to get them off site in a most professional manner.
“Put in a phone call for me to the FBI, ask for Canton Everett Delaware, inform him an old friend needs help in shifting most of this ward’s contents with as minimal fuss as possible. They’re not meant to be here, and tell the expectant parents I’m sorry, but they’re going to have live out their lives wrestling with what could be, not will be”
After trying delicately to spin the awkward and tragic situation as best he could to her without creating the impression he was mad or complicated, the nurse held back fresh tears and took her leave to do as requested.
The Doctor looked on at the babies, all of them speaking in their infant language, some of them already tinged with the dark impulses that would later overtake them in life.
The Doctor pondered why The Master had, in the most twisted of fashions, opted to try his hand at a ‘good deed’, but with no consideration for the kind of rules good men like The Doctor maintained for themselves.
Perhaps it was to show the absurdity of trying to maintain rules in a universe that permits the very concept and execution of rule-bending, that it was steadily becoming easier to be right more in the well intentioned sense. He was trying to prove good men no longer needed rules, or at least not that many.
The Doctor felt like he was the last of a noble breed, and he had come close to abandoning all sense of that before, prior to the sacrifice of Adelaide Brook, the woman who stopped a time lord victorious in his tracks.
To honour her memory, her sacrifice, the rules would be maintained.
He just hoped that when the time would come for him to depart from this reality, his light and apposite footprint would not be washed away by the tide of those well intentioned, but morally in flux.
In the final hour, all good men must abide by the law.
Be it the law of time, life, or otherwise.
When certain events in history happen, people always reflect on where they were at the time.
For me, I recall exactly where I was when Let’s Kill Hitler went out…it had been my parent’s silver wedding anniversary, we had a grand old tea at a swank little inn and many family members came back to the family homestead for a few drinks and a bit of chatter. I had to watch the episode in my bedroom along with my cousin and little brother. At one point, an uncle joined in.
This, for many, is where not only series six went wrong, but you got the distinct feeling DW’s days as the “cool” thing to watch were numbered in the years to come.
It took a year for it to sink in, but this was it. The first post-hiatus episode following the gripping “A Good Man Goes to War” and what did we get? A flipping River Song rom-com disguised as an origin story. If anyone watching the show had a pre-existing distaste for Alex Kingston’s performance, their tempers were not quelled by this.
And yet, I quite like it.
For all the ham, the comedy, the “clever lie” bit which deconstructs the temporal grace of the TARDIS, and the gimmicky misleading title which doesn’t involve the tantalizing time travel conundrum of what to do with Adolf if you met him, it’s a very energetic script, it does offer some insights into what the Silence are, and the Tesselecta is a great concept, albiet more for the time travel modus operandi than ripping off the Numbskulls in the Beano.
I may enjoy a lot of this episode, but make no mistake, this is where series six died a gurning death over the course of 45 minutes and the Moffat era was never regarded in quite the same light again.
You can enjoy something, but you must always be aware of it’s faults so you can understand the side who trash it and not callously dismiss them in the name of the 10/10 club mentality that think the whole series is sunshine and rainbows. You see this all the time in certain Whovian podcasts on Youtube and reaction channels, save for maybe two (Zaredit personally recommends Blindwave and Seskasays for some proper analysis)
Ah, but there wouldn’t be an edit if there wasn’t something to cut now would it? And there was a lot to go, making this, the second of my World War II themed edits, to run at a considerably shorter run time, this one clocking in at 35 minutes.
The episode begins with the way it should have, with Hitler at the front and center of the action. If you’re going to mishandle the furher, at least make it seem like he’s important…set up a bit of a mystery as to what the Tesselecta want with him, and give the Doctor a massively impactful entrance with the TARDIS crashing through…then have the titles come as Hitler, sodding Hitler, thanks our intrepid travelers for saving his life. DUN-DUN-DUNNNNNNNNNN.
Gone too is the creation of the crop circle summons and the introduction of Mels in the stolen car, and the flashbacks to her childhood with Amy and Rory. All you need to know from the moment Mels is released from prison is that she’s a friend of the family, she set Amy and Rory up together, and she’s trouble.
Afterwards, one of the last things to go was the ultimate in time-wasting filler, where Matt Smith does a little bit of self-sabotaging and diminishes the enigmatic performance of his Doctor by indulging in a childish tantrum about guilt and yelling out fish fingers and custard a gazillion times to really emphasize to the whole audience that Doctor Who serves the children’s whims above the adults or the family.
And that’s your lot. Episode ends on the Doctor handing River her diary and the Doctor/Song ‘ship era is well and truly set to sail in a few filler’s time. Hello Benjamin.
EDIT TEMPORARILY DOWN
Another edit revisited…with a lot more experience under my belt, I was able to put this together with a bit more finesse.
For those new to the blog, this is a minimalist 30-minute cut of Victory of the Daleks, Mark Gatiss’ first major script for the Moffat era and the second big letdown of the series one episode after The Beast Below. The signs were all there from the two that trouble was brewing, but fortunately the rest of the series was top notch quality and spared such thoughts from manifesting in most fans’s minds until the mass bungling of the latter half of series six.
Victory of the Daleks biggest crime is the New Dalek Paradigm, aka the Teletubby Dalek Rangers…which I couldn’t remove. If I could, I would, I swear[/George Micheal], so I decided to make do with removing the other big misfire of the story…Bracewell, the Dalek-enginerred scientist who “develops” the gorgeous looking Ironside Daleks (why didn’t Moffat keep them on?) is revealed to be a living bomb.
What happens next is a truly despicable bit of emotionally manipulative storytelling where the power of love saves the day for the first time in the Moffat era. It’s time consuming filler designed purely to drag out the Daleks’ inevitable escape and nothing more, so off it goes.
Also gone is the ending with Amy’s crack forming just as the TARDIS dematerializes, just to give this episode more of a one-and-done feel.
Do your worst Adolf!
“We picked the mystery box…hop in”
(To download, please join FE.Org and PM Zarius)
I put together a version of this in the past, but with a little more experience and a few new ideas, I’ve chosen to revisit it. Think of this one as the “Page One Edit”, named so because we get to find out just what “page one” and that whole deal with the leaf was all about before the episode ends, rather than wait for a filler pre-titles when you reach Rings of Akaten.
You might think I’m robbing Clara of any and all intrigue by tossing in her origin at the very end of this episode, but not only does her character have very little of that to begin with (as well as any sort of trait to go along with it), I thought it makes for a nice little subversion of the triumphant way the original cut ends, with The Doc having gained a new companion and the thrill of new adventure and mystery on the horizon. Here, he solves the mystery and is utterly perplexed by it. I think that serves as a better ending…don’t leave it with the feeling the Doctor WILL get to the bottom of things, point out very clearly that he CAN’T.
A mystery The Doctor can’t solve makes us worry, and makes us wonder. That is how you kick off a new series of adventures, that is what we call a jumping on point.
In addition to the new ending, I’ve gone in and added the prequel minisode from the series seven DVD as part of the pre-titles. While it’s a little too on-the-nose and doesn’t add much, I still think it’s a nice refresher course if you’re not too familiar with this stretch of the series or Clara.
A few scenes have been rearranged too. Clara accessing the wi-fi now comes before the helpless man’s ominous warning to the internet community, and I removed the whole talk about the Woman Twice Dead and The Doctor’s madness to better seaugeway into him receiving the phone call.
Change was coming.
He was coming.
The Doctor. The madman in a box, now even madder than ever before.
He knew it had been on the horizon for a while, the moment he saw his TARDIS join in with the others in co-ordinating the preservation of Gallifrey at the very edge of the time war.
The Eleventh Hour was winding down, however would he break this to Clara?
He would’nt, he would just break, and she would break with him, unless she was fully prepared.
It’s a silly notion he thought, she’s already seen all of me, all of my faces
He wondered if she would continue to see him. See through him, see all of him, the way he ought to be.
He felt this time that everything would hinge on her being able to know who he was, he was a good man, but how good could she be when faced with the reality of change?
That was the challenge facing him and her. Her bravery would be tested like never before. It would be a most trying Christmas for her, adjusting to the shock of the new, coming to terms with the loss of someone he knew she cared deeply about, and taking in the fresh coat of paint.
The truth field around Trenzalore compelled him to come clean about the consequences of regeneration, how the process can startle even the most well prepared individual, and how it can be the making of that person if they can adapt.
He knew Clara could adapt, he felt it, just as he felt everything come apart, he knew in his ancient bones that the Impossible Girl could make all things possible.
He would die, he would change, and if he were to live again, it had to be through her eyes. He had to be taught through her eyes.
He pondered aloud if he had chosen Clara knowing sub-consciouslly her career would take her into teaching.
He stared up at the burning belltower, he looked on at the wreckage of the Dalek mothership, he smiled, he could hear hyms being performed inside the church, the music tinged with a compelling sadness.
It made sense, he had caused a lot of damage with his regenerative energy in a bid to save the town of Christmas.
A part of him wondered if he was truly finished with Trenzalore as he picked up the TARDIS phone and dialed Clara’s number. He wondered if he had contributed to massive paradox by averting his fate here, or if the planet was always waiting for him in his twilight age, whenever that would be, however that would come.
Nothing can prepare you for death, so his mind was concentrated on preparing himself, and Clara, to live.
Time enough he thought.