Thoughts and Opinions on "The Timeless Children" (spoilers)

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DukeNukem 2417
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Thoughts and Opinions on "The Timeless Children" (spoilers)

Post by DukeNukem 2417 »

I've seen at least a few videos and forum posts claiming that the season finale was "the end of Doctor Who", etc., and I personally don't get it. I didn't hate the episode; the series had been building towards the idea of the Doctor having a monumental, dark secret for a while, and the Time Lords have always been portrayed as somewhat morally ambiguous. The big reveal didn't piss me off in the slightest, put it that way....yet the entire idea seems to have created this massive, gaping chasm in the fandom between those who don't have a problem with it and those who see it as a symbol of everything wrong with the franchise now.

Basically, my question is this: why do some people have such a problem with the episode?
Last edited by DukeNukem 2417 on Fri Jun 19, 2020 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on "The Timeless Children"

Post by Doctor Gamer »

I rewatched it recently. It’s very exposition heavy imo, which gets tiring after a while. But I have no problem with the timeless child arc. I also feel I didn’t use the Cybermen enough after all the build up they had for two episodes. Still a cool episode and an 8/10 for me
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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on "The Timeless Children"

Post by TARDIS23 »

I think the problem was a lot of people were already looking for more of what not to like ever since series 11 so anything that changes the show in that way is going to cause more of a fandom issue than it would have in the past. That being said I don’t mind it at all. I imagine the secret incarnation and new regeneration cycle plots point may have gone down similarly if they happened now.

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on "The Timeless Children"

Post by Spannerintheworks »

So, I can answer this with regards to my opinion:

It doesn't make sense in some ways, and the execution is garbage

Honestly, the reveal, The Time Lord deception...sure. I'm ok with this being an origin for Regeneration ability. And really, a Regeneration cycle prior to Hartnell does not bother me either. There's media to support that with Morbius, vague comments by 1 and 7, etc.

Here's my issues:

*The episode makes this reveal meaningless for the Doctor. Nothing is gained, learned, or enabled. No personal conflict is resolved, and it changes nothing about the episode. Don't believe me? Remove the Timeless Child reveal, replace it with some generic villainy/typical "Look what I did to what you love, Doctor" and the episode's events would play exactly the same.

*The Master's motives are garbage. Pure Snidely Whiplash. It's easy to say, "But he resented the Doctor basically making him what he is." Sure, but the Master just as easily (or has previously) gloated on being able to take advantage of the Doctor. Many times. Why does that change now? No explanation given.

Also, accepting the Master's annihilation of Gallifrey requires a massive suspension of disbelief and this is waved away. A thing like this works when it's played for laughs or is a "joining a story in progress towards its conclusion". (Think the beginning of "The Doctor, The Widow, & The Wardrobe") But this requires us to accept Gallifrey (itself a major motivator and lore source) died offscreen, in ways that go against what we know about it.

Think of it this way: If an episode opened and Jack had been killed permanently offscreen, you'd immediately question how. And if no explanation was given, you'd be suspicious or expect more from it.

Gallifrey and the Master and their reasons for why they are as they are have been a massive part of Series lore. If you're going to change them or their motivation you should define that. If Yaz woke up one episode and screamed at the Doctor that she hates her for being so aloof and ignoring her, you'd question it. You'd need to know why she felt that way. And if she said a reason that ran against what you've been shown previous, you'd want to know why she changed her view.

*The Doctor is undercut in motivation and character within and outside the episode. Yes, there's that "It's more character building and inspiring to have the Doctor just do what he originally did because of his own conclusions/motivation...." And it's true; Making the Doctor a "Chosen one/Special person" creates some narrative and moral issues. That can actually be made to mean something or be done well; That's not even what I'm talking about here.

The episode did not create a conflict or threat to the Doctor. It created narrative drama by endangering....canon. This isn't me being butthurt, it's how the production crew/show promoted it! If I'm tuning in with more concern for canon changing than I am the actual story, that's a huge problem. And that is literally how the show made people tune in. I would credibly argue that more people that tuned in did so to see how canon altered, not "How the Cybermen will be resolved". In fact, I'd argue that people DIDN'T tune in (the numbers do support me on this) because the story DIDN'T matter, and if canon was important to them they could catch up with Digital Spy later or something.

How bad is the individual story towards the Doctor? The Doctor doesn't matter. She....frees herself. That's it. You could argue that she hooks her crew up with a TARDIS, but I'd counter they probably would've done ok as (hilariously considering context) an old white male character helps insure the companions' survival and sorts out the Master and the Cybermen. With no help from the Doctor.

The episode that basically institutes massive change involving the Doctor does not require her to participate. I sat the whole story, assuming that she'd a trick up her sleeve or would outwit the Master, and instead not only did she need not participate, but she could've been found unconscious, dragged out of there, and the episode would've resolved the same. Better, probably, as she would've avoided arrest if she'd been cared for.

*Finally after building up a Cybermen threat and an actual individual Cyberman character, these are dropped like a hot potato for a canon reveal, because that's all that apparently matters. The Cybermen are then seconded to the Master, as it has been since 2014.

If I'm being snarky, "The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos" had more at actual stake and involved the Doctor directly. She even had prior grief with T'zim Sha and had to deal with Ryan/Graham's feelings on the matter. "Hell Bent" gave the Doctor more to do and made his motivations clear. It also addressed him needing to let go of "saving" his companions more for himself than for them, a theme that the New Series has made clear he struggled with. Both prior finales paid off or tried to pay off ideas that actually involved onscreen character struggles. These weren't perfect in their execution, but at least I can see what they were doing and the finales communicate it to the audience.

All "The Timeless Children" communicates is an info dump. The actual conflict is dropped, neutralized, or doesn't involve the Doctor. Thinking about how it's put together only makes it more suspect.

The "Timeless Child" angle absolutely could be redressed and made to make sense/dramatically mean something for the show and its characters, but as a finale wrapping up its characters and arcs it lacks on many levels, imo.

Also, I applaud you for starting what could easily become a pretty inflammatory discussion. My opinions are mine, and I certainly don't discredit any enjoyment you got from the episode or Series 12 as a whole. Also, while I'm happy to discuss these points, I'm less interested in someone being "right" or "wrong" about this and don't intend to debate that. But you asked, so.....here ya go. ;)
Last edited by Spannerintheworks on Wed Jun 17, 2020 9:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on "The Timeless Children"

Post by skifflebits »

Very astute.

(Yeah, that's as much as I have time type at the moment.)
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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on "The Timeless Children"

Post by Valeyard »

DukeNukem 2417 wrote:
Wed Jun 17, 2020 2:41 pm
I've seen at least a few videos and forum posts claiming that the season finale was "the end of Doctor Who", etc., and I personally don't get it. I didn't hate the episode; the series had been building towards the idea of the Doctor having a monumental, dark secret for a while, and the Time Lords have always been portrayed as somewhat morally ambiguous. The big reveal didn't piss me off in the slightest, put it that way....yet the entire idea seems to have created this massive, gaping chasm in the fandom between those who don't have a problem with it and those who see it as a symbol of everything wrong with the franchise now.

Basically, my question is this: why do some people have such a problem with the episode?
The main issue many have is that it breaks canon, as it had always been established that the First Doctor was that. The First Doctor. They also take issue with The Doctor no longer being a rogue Time Lord from Gallifrey that ran away. Personally, I'm not bothered by the change for the simple reason that it's not been fully explained. I strongly believe that The Doctor is a reincarnation of The Child, and that they aren't exactly the same person. However, Chibnall may throw us for a loop. We'll have to see what happens over the next few series and the explanations that Chibnall gives.
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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on "The Timeless Children"

Post by Neon Wolf »

It's just bad storytelling, the idea, the execution and the performances all compound to give us this utter trash.

It's not just the episode on its own either, since Chibbs took over it's been all down hill leading to one of the steepest declines in a show I've ever seen. A lot of fans have seen this dumbed down era as a speed bump to just 'get over' before we get back to the good stuff however now with this story its disease has spread to the core of the show that every writer from now on has to build off of. It ruins stories like 'Time of the Doctor' Clara's desperate plea to the Time Lords to grant the Doctor a new life cycle is forever tainted and that's not to mention the plot holes it throws up. If the Time Lords didn't gain the power of regeneration through exposure to the time vortex then why did River Song's conception aboard the TARDIS cause her to be able to regenerate? If Doctor Ruth is pre Hartnell then why does she have the police box? Why didn't Clara uncover this while travelling down the Doctor's time stream? Etc...

This was a terrible move to make as it was only ever going to bother the fans and since the fans are the only people watching this show anymore that division created by this episode is devastating. I've seen people around various forums trying to to get past it by saying 'maybe they'll change their minds', they won't, or 'a new show runner will fix it'', they won't, some are even fan casting the 'next Doctor' in a desperate attempt to look past this. However I think it's time we entertain the real possibility that there won't be a new show runner or even another Doctor, this is it and after the heights the series reached since its revival, are you happy with it ending like this?

Pre COVID it was clear to me that we were on the home stretch, the viewing figures are down significantly, the merch doesn't sell and the overall quality of the show is poor and as we'll likely see not paying the licence fee decriminalised in the next few years the BBC won't have the money to make Doctor Who to a reasonable standard if they can't capitalise on it. After COVID things are even more bleak because now the rules of the game have changed.

Doctor Who is partially funded by HBO and they're owned by AT&T who are 200 billion dollars in debt, they are looking to make a quick buck any way they can which means they're cancelling anything which in their eyes doesn't make enough money. I believe the phrase used was 'nothing is sacred' in regard to DC comics and that sentiment is shared with their other investments. It's been rumoured that they are looking to sell WB Interactive Entertainment for about 4 billion and this pressure from AT&T is likely what caused DC comics to split from diamond distribution because they can't wait to get their books back out there as if they can't prove that they're financially viable by they end of the year then they're toast.

In this talk of billions how do you think Doctor Who fits in? Because as it stands I don't see this deal sticking as from our side the show will probably miss deadlines mandated in the contract because they can't film due to social distancing and from their side it's not a worthwhile investment as a dwindling show is probably not much of a pull for their new streaming service, so even if we get 13 and 14 I can't imagine them renewing the contract. You also have to take into account that the only reason it's on HBO is because Netflix and Amazon didn't bid for it because they weren't interested.

Doctor Who could have been in a much stronger position if it had been handled with more care, it used to be one of the best written and most beloved programmes on TV but in a relatively short amount of time it's been reduced to a shadow of its former self.
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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on "The Timeless Children"

Post by Doctor What »

I didn't really have much of a strong reaction at all, it didn't really bother me.

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on "The Timeless Children"

Post by Kaldor »

If I started, I don’t know where I’d stop.
To keep it concise, it’s a dumpster fire. It’s exposition, beginning to end- and not even good exposition at that.
Bearing in mind that it’s also the second part to... (Blimey- side point here- I NEVER thought the day would come where I couldn’t remember the title of an episode of Doctor Who. Which in itself is a comment on Whittaker/Chibnall Who, really. Wow.)
Well, it’s a second part to whatever crap came before it. And what came before it had an entire plot point around that weird simulation story, which was nonsense, and turned out to be a non starter anyway. I feel like that’s important to mention. So immediately it was a let down from the off.
The whole aspect of the Doctor being this god like creature from another world also doesn’t sit well with approximately 99.9% of the fanbase. Hilariously, pro-Chibnall & Whittaker and pro-actually good episodes of Doctor Who fans with decent, non forced casting actually find that the one thing they’re agreeing on, from what I’ve seen. Having a heroic character have a predetermined destiny is just rubbish. Additionally, it doesn’t even make sense within canon??! It just doesn’t.
There’s SO many (heck, sodding too many) stories I could point out that this doesn’t line up with, and if the BBC pull the plug after their recent comments of “the current quality is unsustainable” I’d be fine and dandy than see the show I love pounded into the ground and it’s corpse jumped up and down on any further. Twice upon a time wasn’t even that amazing but at least it was a serviceable ending. Additionally, the current quality? Well, don’t get me started on that one. Politely put, “current quality” would be the last phrase I’d use to describe the series.
Overall, it’s pure garbage and doesn’t make sense, and has outright destroyed canon. (Oh, But canon doesn’t exist!) Oh yeah? Sure. Neither does electricity, the sky, gender or Coronavirus. Of course it bloody exists. It exists if you have common sense, at least.

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Re: Thoughts and Opinions on "The Timeless Children"

Post by Spannerintheworks »

In the interest of finding common ground:

A lot of people who liked/are indifferent to the episode assume those who dislike are opposed to the canon change or "First Doctor" issue. However...

Everyone indicating dislike (self included) is either indifferent to the idea or ultimately critical of the writing. I'd even posit that had the episode been (I'll be diplomatic) more considerate of its characters and arcs/themes, it may have been better received or considered in return.

Look at "The Deadly Assassin". Not everyone liked it on release and questioned what arguably retconned the Time Lords. And I'll even posit the resolution requires a couple leaps in logic (Showing Gallifrey ignorant of how Rassilon put things together is...either simplified for the young audience or a big logical leap, depending on your opinion). But it has a coherent plot. It honors the Doctor's character, resolves its narrative strands well, and also dared to change mythology when the show was at a writing peak and well-received (Numbers back this too). I love the "War Games" Time Lords and wish we'd had more creepy demigod versions of them too, but "Assassin" makes them stuffy, droll policy makers concerned with appearances- Which at least actually suits the Doctor's character and reasons for leaving right to this day, so it's easier for me to accept. And being sandwiched between stories showing show firing on all cylinders certainly probably helped; A bit of goodwill goes a long way: I'd charge this is how the Davies and Moffat eras got away with things like this. Tennant had the show at a popular peak, so it was easy to overlook a bum episode or questionable resolution. Moffat came in for stick with "Hell Bent", but "Heaven Sent" certainly softened that blow.

I'd charge if Series 12 had the considered and connected flair with its writing and arc that other shows (Who itself on many occasions) often do, we might not be having this conversation. Instead, we'd probably be wondering where it goes from here and how it will resolve.

It's telling that all of us treat it like it could be a done deal; No further depth or revelation. But, I'd argue, the canon change was all that mattered and the only reason to watch communicated, rather than it being part of a larger story still developing that we should care about.

But regardless, it really seems like a lot of us feel better writing could've sold or done this better, regardless if we liked, didn't care for, or hated the reveals.

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