Today we’re casting away the restraints of a theatre blog altogether and letting Jack Synnott write 700 words on something we’d all much rather be hearing about anyway: Doctor Who!
Doctor Who first aired on BBC1 at 5.15 P.M. on the 23rd of November 1963. From the first adventure, the eerie, creeping an Unearthly Child, fans were taken on an extraordinary adventure through time and space. Occasionally however, the opportunity presents itself for fans to dig deeper, to look deeper and ultimately to do what fans love best: theorise.
One such theory, and one that has particular grabbed my attention is one involving the entirety of Series 7A ( or Season 33 part 1, if we’re to be particular). These 5 episodes, originally screened in the latter part of 2012 see Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor and his then-companions Amy and Rory Pond travel from a dangerous Dalek asylum to a Weeping Angel filled New York, facing Dinosaurs, Cowboys and killer cubes along the way (it’s a lot better than I make it sound).
The theory goes, that the five episodes (Asylum of the Daleks through to The Angels Take Manhattan) take place in reverse order to that in which they were screened. In other words, from The Doctor’s perspective, The Angel’s Take Manhattan comes first, and Asylum of the Daleks last.
There is a huge amount of evidence to support this theory, all of which sadly trivial and in no way definitive, but it is evidence nonetheless. I’ll take the most obvious example, this exchange from episode 3, A Town Called Mercy:
RORY: It’s a street lamp.
DOCTOR: An electric street lamp about ten years too early.
RORY: It’s only a few years out.
DOCTOR: That’s what you said when you left your phone charger in Henry the Eighth’s en-suite.
This could simply be construed as a humourous throwaway line, a silly exchange thrown in for comic relief. And this would be an acceptable viewpoint, if it weren’t for episode 4, The Power of Three. In this episode, we see a montage of The Doctor and the Pond’s adventures. One of the clips takes place in Henry the Eighth’s bedroom, and what does Rory leave behind? A phone charger.
There are other clues as well. Lights continuously flicker without explanation in the first 3 episodes, a classic visual indication of a disturbance in time, and potentially, a visual clue that The Doctor is crossing his own timeline.
To flesh the idea out a bit more, the theory goes that The Doctor, after witnessing the eventual demise of the Ponds in The Angels Take Manhattan, travels back through his own past to enjoy a last few adventures with his good friends. This explains his melancholy nature in many of the series’ episodes, and also his new found viscous streak throughout this series. Having “lost” the two people closest to him, The Doctor becomes cold, unforgiving and harsh. This ideas are summed up in episode 2, Dinosaurs On a Spaceship, when The Doctor converses with the brutal space trader Solomon:
SOLOMON: Those are very emotive words Doctor.
DOCTOR: I’m a very emotive man.
Here we get a fleeting insight into The Doctor’s psyche at this late stage in his own personal Series 7 timeline. The Doctor knows that he has only a few trips left with The Ponds, in fact this could even be his last. He has no time for criminals or villains, so consumed is he by his grief that he will kill without a thought, and won’t let anyone stand in the way of his adventures with his friends.
To find more conclusive proof of what I will from here-on call the Angels to Asylum theory, we need to go beyond Series 7A. Or indeed, before.
Pond Life is a series of online mini episodes (later shown on the BBC Red Button) that details the everyday lives of Amy and Rory before in the run up to Asylum of the Daleks. In this mini series, The Doctor contacts Amy and Rory mainly by telephone ( barring one brief interruption, which I’ll get to in a minute). Through these telephone conversations we get a glimpse of The Doctor’s adventures, while seeing Rory and Amy’s home life in detail. We also, crucially, see The Doctor changing the bulb on top of the TARDIS. This may seem like an insignificant event but, when we consider the ending of The Angels Take Manhattan it becomes infinitely important.
In the final moments of Angels, River Song, The Doctor’s long time friend and sometime wife informs him that the bulb on the top of the TARDIS needs changing. This is the exact event that we witness in Pond Life. Also, it is during this phone call that The Doctor learns the Ponds have divorced, the event that leads into Asylum. The look of dismay on The Doctor’s face upon making this realisation could easily be read as sympathy for his friends, but it could also be seen as the realisation that he will never see his friends again. Upon phoning the Ponds during their divorce proceedings, The Doctor has reached a point in the Ponds’ timeline where he can never visit them again, he has gone too far, and sealed his own fate. Knowing that changing time would be catastrophic and aware that he has reached a point in the Ponds’ timeline where there are no more “gaps” for him to take them on a trip, The Doctor has finally lost his friends.
The Doctor can only travel with the Ponds’ at certain points in time, points when he knows that no established facts prevent him from taking them on adventures. In Asylum we learn that The Doctor hasn’t seen the Ponds since before they split up, so upon realising that their marriage is breaking down, The Doctor has sealed his own fate.
But this is not the only kernel of evidence that Pond Life offers us. The Doctor also bursts in on the Ponds in the middle of the night telling them that he needs their help. He is alluding to the events of Dinosaurs On a Spaceship, but when the Ponds respond in bemusement, The Doctor realises that he has come at the wrong time. He tells them that “It happens sometimes” but also seems to imply that he chooses the times to bring them on specifc adventures. The Ponds don’t require any prior knowledge to help The Doctor on this adventure, but he knows that in travelling back through their timeline he must tread carefully. All of this gels perrfectly with the Angels to Asylum theory, and if anything almost completely reinforces it.
To conclude, if we look to Pond Life, we can find hordes of conclusive evidence that the Angels to Asylum theory is true. And if it is, we can look on series 7A, and The Doctor, in an entirely new light.