Radio Free Skaro #203 – The Pipes of Pandorica


Radio Free Skaro #203 – Click here to listen

Well, what about that, then? The Pandorica Opens exploded onto TV and computer screens the world over in dazzling and impressive fashion, seemingly including visual references to every monster in the entire history of Doctor Who, presenting us a trio of equally impossible cliffhangers, and throwing in at least three kitchen sinks into the bargain. And yet, it still made for staggeringly compelling viewing, and only whets our appetite for The Big Bang, the final episode of Matt Smith’s and Steven Moffat’s sterling first series of Doctor Who. The only question now…how can The Big Bang possibly top this?
Show Notes:

Skaro Shop…Buy Our Stuff!
Episode Twelve…The Pandorica Opens!
The Pandorica Opens…Ratings!
The Lodger…Appreciation Index!
Vincent and the Doctor…Final Viewing Figures!
The Big Bang…Transmission Time!
Eccleston…Speaks About His Departure!
City of the Daleks…Download Numbers!
Adventure Games…Episode Two Synopsis!
Adventure Games…Episode Two Details!
Series 5 DVDs…Exclude Next Time Trailers!


33 Comments on “Radio Free Skaro #203 – The Pipes of Pandorica

  1. “Silence will fall.” I don’t know why, but that voice sounds very familiar. At first, i thought it was Davros, but the voice isn’t quite right.

  2. An interesting episode to be sure, and I hope the payoff is really good. For some reason this one felt more like an RTD story, and I can’t help shaking that feeling, even re-watching it.

    As far as the voice behind “Silence will fall!” my usually excellent audio memory is letting me down. It’s not a voice I’m familiar with.

    And I don’t know why, but the ending felt like some kind of DWM toony “all the villains” Christmas thingy. But I loved how it just went totally silent on the incidental music.

  3. Here’s a fun fact you probably already know: Moffat originally wanted the cybermen redesigned to be Mondas cybermen, but the budget ran out. FACT.

  4. About the ring and photo – this was explained clearly in the episode (and I’m surprised so many people are still asking about this)! Here’s the quote: “People fall out of the world sometimes, but they always leave traces. Little things we can’t quite account for. Faces in photographs, luggage, half-eaten meals. Rings. Nothing is ever forgotten, not completely. And if something can be remembered, it can come back.”

  5. I am all for good criticism, but RTD saved the show, gave us characters we loved, celebrated obscure characters and brought them back with respect and love, went out of his way with commentaries and documentaries, brought back Graham Harper, made Doctor Who so powerful we would be hard pressed to think of it being cancelled, gave Moffett free reign to write some magnificent episodes, raved about them(he even wrote some great ones like Midnight, Utopia, and Partners in Crime), then passed on the show to him with a respect and enthusiasm like I have never seen, wrote one of the best behind the scenes journals ever, and just obviously loved Doctor Who.

    It’s great to give criticism. Even not being a fan is fine. But Chris just sounds like a douche. Say someone wasn’t the greatest writer and it didn’t work for you is great, that’s what a podcast is all about. But to be openly so hostile to the man is the reason I think this Podcast is hurt by Chris. I know other people in life who are like him, or at least how he represents himself on your show. Someone who happily shouted “Die Tennant Die!” which, though a joke, was one of those “I am really taking delight in mocking other people’s enjoyment of something I don’t like” sorta half-truth jokes. I got no time for that, or him.

    Man, now I sound like a douche. Oh well. Warren and Steven, I think you two are amazing and are the reason I still listen. You have real talent. Thank you and sorry for the bitchin’ about the other guy.

  6. @Todd – I shall say no more other than much of what you mention falls under RTD’s duty as a producer, something for which I’ve given him heaps of praise in past. He is, was, and presumably always will be, a hack writer who can’t plot his way out of a wet paper bag.

    (As for Moffat’s free reign, that was a contractual stipulation of him writing for the show.)


    The Douche. ❤

  7. Yeah, I don’t know why Steve and Warren have hitched themselves to Chris either. I’m sure he’s a great guy, good to his family and friends and an all round nice chap. Listening to him is like pulling teeth though. And he does tend to talk out of his backside a bit.

    Moff wanted Mondas Cybermen but the budget ran out??
    Must’ve spent too much making the Daleks look laughable. Or the TARDIS look like it was a toddler play set. Or make the Silurians look worse than their previous appearances in Who. Should get a medal for that one.

    I do chuckle though at the finale, so far. Had RTD been behind this, the “right on” commentators would be howling in disgust. Moff does it and he’s about to be canonised!

    Moff: Great writer. Average showrunner.

  8. I have commented on previous podcasts about the negativity regarding RTD and wondering if the hosts do indeed like Doctor Who. I took a break from listening for a while and came back now that it’s been Steven Moffat and Matt Smith and am still bothered by the RTD bashing. I know they are popular podcasters, but it just isn’t for me. I hope they continue their success though!

  9. I couldn’t agree with you more Wendall and Glenn. Nothing wrong with not connecting with someone’s writing, but to call someone who has done so much for Who a “hack,” etc. pushes me away too.

    RTD made me fall in love with Who again and introduced me to people like Rose, Martha, Jack and Donna. To hear someone just be so mean and dismissive to him just ticks me off.

  10. Wow. Such hostility for some guys who want to talk about Who.

    I think the three of them balance each other out fairly nicely, RTD has some high points (characters) and some low points (which I will not mention for fear of offending just about everybody), many of which were discussed by the guys indepth over the course of the gap year and in a lovely RTD send off. tired of hearing about RTD? thats fine,
    But RTD was the most recent showrunner, who else can SM be easily compared to? Classic who? Yes, eventually, but its easier to compare to the most recent example, so that;s what you get.

    Now, can we get back to talking about The Pandorica Opens please?

    Revisiting previous companions, and a big world-ending season closer. both well done, prehaps (maybe) the best done I have seen in 5 series, but I am tired of it after all this time. Some good laughs in the first two acts, even better acting through out the episode.
    Poor mysterious Amy! All this time I’ve been thinking shes a child who has refused to grow up, Now I’m wondering if maybe Amy herself is an Auton. A extrapolation of Amelia Prehaps? All of leadworth’s population may be living plastic. . .

  11. Alright, folks, I believe there’s points to be made here on both sides, but I think everyone here needs to do a little growing up.

    Calling Chris (or, by extension Warren or Steve) a douche over their criticism of Russ Davies and Dave Tennant is probably taking it a bit far. They are entitled to their opinions just the same as you folks are entitled to yours, and I am entitled to mine. If you really don’t like what The Three do, then why in the world do you keep listening to them?

    Now, that being said, o Three Who Rule, perhaps now would be a good time to take the hint and back your expressed dislike for both RTD and DT down a couple notches. You didn’t like what they were doing. Fair enough. Pounding it into your listeners’ collective skulls with nearly each and every podcast you do is probably a bit much. There’s a line between honest criticism and the nursing of (perceived) wounds, and even I have to say you may have crossed it.

    I appreciate and respect RTD for successfully bringing Dr. Who back and making it viable again as a vehicle for entertainment. And, for what it’s worth, I think the issues I had with Dave Tennant’s tenure as The Doctor largely lies at the feet of RTD and the writers. There’s an old saying in the acting business: “If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage.” But all that being said, I don’t watch every episode with the thought in my mind about judging how much better Steve, Matt and the writer(s) did this episode than how RTD, Dave, et al *would* have done it. If I approached episodes like that, I’d go completely batty.

    As a U.S. citizen and a conservative, there were a number of things which drove me nuts about Dr. Who previously, pretty much all of which have since been eliminated by the current set of folks. But do you hear me bitch about that incessantly? No! I think we all “get” that there are a number of things which Steve and his cavalcade of writers routinely do better than the previous crew. But could you possibly not try to beat it into your listeners’ heads quite so? We’re not little children and we can see it for ourselves. Frankly, taking this tone over and over again in your podcasts makes them far less professional than they would otherwise be.

    Now, in an effort to turn this discussion again to the proper matter at hand — namely, the discussion of The Pandorica opens — I would like to finish by adding I’m not sure I much cared for this episode, particularly upon having re-watched it. This is a first, since I really liked all the other episodes from this season. It was just too “Christmas Card-ish” for me by having this throng of bad guys all standing there. I agree with whomever on the podcast who said “Why didn’t they just off him?” because that would, in the real world, have made so much moor sense. And what everyone — including The Three — should take away from this comment is that Steve and the writer didn’t do a good enough job selling *why* it was written to happen the way it did.

    Peace, y’all.

  12. Very well written Mike. I am not even close to a conservative but I agree with a great many of your points (but not all, as a straight bleeding heart liberal, one of the reasons I love RTD so much is that he embraced the LGBT community in a way I have not seen done on a mainstream sci-fi show). I apologize for the douche comment. It is silly name calling and I didn’t want to lower the level of this conversation. However the argument itself remains.

    In regards to this episode. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. For much of this season each episode has left me with a “why did that happen?” question at the end. Why can the Doctor reach through the crack? How did whatever happened at the end of the Lodger fix anything? Why don’t they just shoot the Doctor (for this episode and Victory of the Daleks)?

    These are not new questions, but for some reason they have been bugging me this season. Also I agree with the comments that it is hard to believe it is the same guy with a differant personalily and outlook. It really seems he has lost some memories or something. In the lodger I really couldn’t believe this was the 9th or 10th Doctor’s brain in there. He seemed like he had never been on earth before.

    Also it was surprising that the Daleks were happy to work with anyone, especially with their stance in with the Cybermen in the second series.

  13. AND ANOTHER THING (tee hee, always wanted to say that).

    Just a couple other points and then I will leave this forum alone. Sorry for all the messages.

    1. I really really appreciate all the hard work that is done on this podcast. It has a very professional sound and is usually one of the first out of the gates after an episode airs. Your work, insight and research is much appreciated, and much of your episodes I love. This is free to me and your work should be celebrated. Thank you.

    2. Now I have had some negative feedback before (but hopefully balanced), and I want at least explain my intent, whether I was successful or vaild is a whole other question. It’s like when you go to a restaurant where the food is sometimes off. Most people just never say a word and just don’t come back. But sometimes criticism can be a positive thing. Who knows if people are leaving because of this overly negative RTD stuff, but they might be, myself included. And I know if I had the time or skill and had a podcast like yours I would like to know what people liked or don’t like before they disappeared.

    All the best,

  14. Thanks, everyone, for your comments!

    I agree, we do tend to bring up our demons with RTD a bit too much, to varying degrees (Warren seems to have been the best at being able to move on). I’m particularly annoyed when I do it because I went on about how Matt Smith’s performance deserves to stand on its own instead of being compared to those of past Doctor actors, yet here I am comparing Moffatt’s era to that which came before it.

    I don’t dislike most of what RTD did for who, myself – far from it. However, The End of Time Part One probably ranks as one of the worst episodes of Doctor Who ever made, in my opinion (yes, ever!). Part Two partially pulled things out of the fire, but both parts were a thoroughly disappointing end to what was a ground breaking era in the show’s history. The End of Time is also the most recent RTD contribution that we’ve seen, so it sticks in the brain far more prevalently than the previous four and a half years’ worth of Doctor Who that RTD worked on. I really must go back and watch from 2005 on again to get a better perspective!

    Anyway, Warren and I very glad to have Chris as part of the Three Who Rule. We feel we all bring differing opinions to the table which make for interesting debates and discussion, even if our passion for the show goes a little too far at times. One thing is for sure – we are all united in our belief that the current Steven Moffat series is stupendous, and we all look forward to watching it on Saturday and talking about it at great length on the next episode of RFS.

  15. Lmao to all this mumbo jumbo. If all of us on this thread met in a room or tavern I have a feeling all of this misplaced criticism would evaporate in a matter of minutes. Something psychological about the blinders of the interwebz that encourage people to pipe up about nonsense sometimes…

    KBO Burgess, not that there was ever any doubt you would.


  16. Hi guys, love the podcast. I like RTD, but I equally enjoy hearing Chris’ opinions. RFS wouldn’t be the same without him.
    I listen to a lot of DrWho podcasts and RFS is one of the most generally positive ones anyway, as well as being the funniest. I hope you don’t let a few crazily critical comments change your style.

    Regarding the episode, I thought it was excellent, but quite shockingly dark. MS was superb, and is now my favourite Doc. I wonder if Moffat wrote this with DT in mind originally? It would have made a pretty devastating regeneration story.
    I really hope Amy comes through ok. I think with Torchwood series 2 and 3 they did a really good job of keeping the main charactor deaths under wraps, so maybe the talk of KG doing the Christmas special is just a cunning ruse by the BBC!

    Murray Gold has really excelled himself with the music this year, especially in this episode. I’m so glad they kept him. I just hope they bring out a soundtrack cd for this series.

  17. I agree wholeheartedly with Todd on the points he raises about the production and technical values of RFS. It’s otherwise a damned good podcast and the rest of us armchair quarterbacks would be lucky to do a podcast half as well as you guys do.

    I know a concern you might have is in thinking “Oh God, we’ll get in trouble with ’em this week if we A or B or C (or whatever)!” While I stand by my comments earlier about not driving this into our skulls, I also want to take this opportunity to sound a warning of common sense and hopefully a word to the wise: If you sit there from now on fretting over what you could say or should say or might anger someone if you did say, then you are of no use to yourself and no good for anyone else. Consider our collective comments from the perspective of someone who’s fallen off a horse. The best advice for such a person (barring injuries, of course) is you get back up on the horse and keep riding. Don’t allow yourself to become gunshy.

    I’m not sure I totally understand Eric’s comments, but one thing he said I believe is the case: If we all met in person, misplaced criticism would definitely disappear. Guys, we’re not all out here demanding Chris’ (or any of your) head on a pike (a la Vir Coto and Mr. Morden). We, to use the vernacular, “love you guys” and I don’t think any of us would be here offering comments if we didn’t. I know I offered some rather strongly worded criticisms a couple of podcasts back, and on reflection I think I took my comments just a little too far, and would like to apologize. I still have to say I didn’t get the criticisms you folks had for that particular episode, but how can I stand here now like the bastion of reason and sense if I’m also not willing to play by the rules?

    Anyhow, just my 2¢.


  18. For my opinion, I’m pretty much in Chris’ court so far as writing is concerned. I’m not that convinced that RTD is as good as others say he is. He has brilliant ideas but there are times when the execution is horribly flawed and the resolutions are illogical and questionable. That said, there’d be no Matt Smith or David Tennant or maybe even RFS were it not for RTD. BUT it doesn’t excuse travesties such of “Last of the Time Lords”, “Journey’s End”, and the aforementioned “End of Time” two-play of ineptitude.

    Sidenote to the Three: I was actually disappointed during your EOT2 commentary that when Tennant regenerated no one said, “Play him off, Keyboard Cat!”

    @Steven: I see nothing illogical about wanting Matt Smith’s performance to stand on its own and comparing to previous Doctors. If you criticized, say, how Colin Baker would’ve done the Stonehenge speech, I’m sure several C.Baker haters would applaud you. Every Doctor is going to be compared to every other Doctor. It’s our way of making sense of the whole mishmash that is Doctor Who.

    @Todd: I guess it’s a good thing you never listened to Tachyon TV’s podcasts if you’re that sensitive about RTD criticisms. Your head would’ve probably exploded.

  19. PS I don’t thing Riversong has the manipulator wrist band. It was last seen at the base of the Pandorica.

  20. Ok, I lied. I am back, but I think this is a fun discussion. Another thing I have never really done online, but Who has proven to be a gateway for (I managed to see Tennat, Davies and the gang at Comicon last year. Never been before and had a blast waiting outside at 5am. Also a first.

    Couple points that I hope I am not being to repetative on.

    @Eric / Bullitt33-It is ironic that I do not understand your message which follows you are laughing at the “mumbo jumbo.” Maybe I am too old to understand your hip jive talk.

    @Eric / Bullitt33- I don’t think my comments are crazy. And Mike, Wendell and Glenn have made some really great points. Just my opinion though.

    @David from Calgary. Who you calling hostile. [he said angrily clutching an angry stick of, um, anger]

    @Odd Brian- I love criticism. LOVE IT. But dismissive stuff is just annoying. I mean we praise RTD for the amazing characters, for Torchwood COE, for many amazing episodes (even the 3 who rule agree there are some great ones), but when he is brought up casually we just call him a “hack” (or worse) and move on? That isn’t criticism, that is just dismissive, and I just don’t think it’s cool. My opionion and I am often wrong I don’t have to listen, but I think it is worthy to critique that. Much as we could critique Doctor Who elements but still love the show. If I refered to the Doctor Who as a “hack” character you would probably not be impressed. No that I know you.

    And comparing is great. I think I mentioned eariler that I was having a hard time reconciling Smith’s Doctor with the last two after “The Lodger.”

    And don’t get me started on illogical or questionable endings. This new season has had light that sometimes erases you sometime not sometimes only partially leaving pictures and rings, holographic vampite clothes you need to take off, love defeating robot programing and a sorta-TARDIS, aliens who REFUSE just to try and shoot the Doctor (even when they have surrounded him at the Pandorica)when it would be the most obvious thing, lizard people who built it into a city that they could fatally gas themselves if they wanted to, a space whale under a ship that vomits out the Doctor and Amy into some kind of corridor but which is shown outside to have no aparatus over its mouth, the Doctor setting up negotiations between a race of lizard people and a person who designs mining tools and a goofy early 20s person who is from the past. I could go on.

    I am not saying I don’t love Moffat. I do. But to say that RTD’s era had illogical conclusions or questionable plot points on the seasons or episodes he produced and/or wrote are now behind us is going a bit far. Moffat has carried on that tradition. It is kind of what make Who what it is. RTD may have had goffy endings, but he explained them enough for me. Again, just my opinion.

    I had plenty of criticisms of the RTD era myself. Often minor ones like why the end of Torchwood series 1 did not match up with the start of Uptopia, and why when he came back Jack kept saying he had been to the “end of the world.” When did he go there? Rose and the Doctor went there, not Jack. He went to the End of the Universe. These are many issues, I could go on. The point is I love criticism. But in my world it should be something you could argue with the person who wrote it. Imagine Chris or anyone going up to RTD and calling him a hack. They wouldn’t. Why? Because it isn’t valid criticism. It’s just rude and a low blow. But so was my “douche” comment. Apologies again.

    And my head has still not exploded. Though I was thinking of renting Scanners next weekend….

  21. Oops, my fault for typing too fast. Second response should have been to EdwardH.

    All other typos, and bad grammar are the computer’s fault. I will reverse its polarity now.

  22. I think it’s fair to say we all have had issues with RTD’s Who. Where this podcast (Chris) lets itself down is when you get such “expert” commentators STILL ranting about RTD shortcomings. The hatred levelled at RTD is only going to alienate fans of 05-09 and invite name calling of the “douche” variety. You’re only reaping what you’ve sown.

    Here’s an idea. Before you dump shit on RTD from on high, how about you doing some research about the show yourself? For instance, I was somewhat surprised to learn “realistic” Autons were first seen in “Terror Of The Autons”! Were they? I thought it was “Spearhead”

    At least attempt a little research. They call it “professionalism”

  23. Todd, you can’t bring up the crazy, illogical stuff that Moff has done because the perceived wisdom is…..

    Moff=Genius. His work is “stupendous” apparently…….

    RTD=Crazy man.

    I know…..mind boggling. “Stupendous” work on the Dalek redesign….

  24. “Why are you people still talking about this?!”

    Because we choose to.

    Sucks, don’t it

  25. @Glenn – Nothing was said about the first appearance of realistic Autons being in 1971; I stated there were realistic-looking Autons in Terror of the Autons, no more, no less. Timestamp 16:50-17:03.

    Transcription from the noted time period: “Or, actually, in a way, they’ve gotten… they got worse and then they got better again, cuz you know, they had the human-looking ones in Terror of the Autons in 1971 and then they didn’t in Rose.”

  26. Hang on, nice try……

    They didn’t have “realistic looking ones” in “Terror”, did they? They were only your garden variety “drone” Autons wearing rubber masks pretending to be cops. Genuine “realistic” Autons are only found in “Spearhead” and “Pandorica Opens”

    …..although to be precise, re “Rose”, “Auton Mickey” was only realistic enough to fool his girlfriend…….

    …..and they call Chris “Pedantor”!

  27. This is Radio Free Skaro, not Gallifrey Base.

    @Glen 20: That Auton Mickey fooled Rose, what does that say about here? Heck, if it was that simple, Pete and Jackie should’ve just plastered a picture of the Doctor’s face on Mickey and pretended it was him. That way, we would have had to deal with all of that angsty Rose stuff in Series 4.

    @Todd: Maybe the RTD bash is heavy at times but I think it’s because there were elements about his era that really irritated some people. As for justification for “hack”, the proof is in the pudding. He suffers from the same malaise Douglas Adams suffered from: Great ideas, great characters, great dialogue, but great plot — not so much. DNA hated writing and always wrote to (passed) deadlines and his work suffers slightly for it. RTD ramps up the cliffhanger to dizzying heights and the resolutions are disappointing. Doctor aged to the point of being a shriveled dwarf? Make him into an amalgamation of Twinkerbell and Jesus Christ.

    Maybe “hack” is too strong since he has achieved far more than any of us have. Instead, let us to resolve to using “bad, BAD writer” in future.

  28. “This is Radio Free Skaro, not Gallifrey Base.”

    Then goes on to post something straight out of Gallifrey Base!

  29. @ Odd Brian: fair enough. Like I said, I had my own criticisms, but disagree with the Hack comment. Even the bad writer argument. Not that we still can’t be friends. I think RTD’s strength is in creating wonderful characters that you care about and want to see make it. Sure he often spent less time on resolving things logically then of having character moments (but not as much as others, I’m looking at you LOST finale), but damn he made Who fun. And it’s not like DW was ever known mostly for it’s logical plots. I still stand behind Utopia, Smith and Jones, Torchwood COE, and Parting of the Ways as amazing stories full of amazing moments. Casanova, QAF, and Bob & Rose were also wonderful. To me at least. But I guess we are arguing more subjective stuff now.

  30. Should really confine myself to listening and lurking, but felt compelled while cooking to respond to this:

    Glenn: “The hatred levelled at RTD is only going to alienate fans of 05-09 and invite name calling of the “douche” variety. You’re only reaping what you’ve sown.”

    As someone who still thinks the 2005 season’s the best since the show’s return, and who doesn’t share Chris’ low opinion of RTD’s writing… that is utter baloney. I seem to remember you saying on previous comment threads that RFS should ditch Mr Burgess so that they could be more professional… why on earth would Messrs F &S want to go in that direction, even if they agreed with your assessment?
    As I recall, all Chris has done is been disdainful of RTD – unfairly so in my view – but I don’t think you can say he’s been hateful.

    In any case, I don’t listen to RFS so I can hear people I agree with validating my opinions (I mean, I saw Talons for the first time recently and think it’s been over-rated). I listen to them because I like the dynamic/ambience and because I find their points of view interesting/entertaining.

    So please, Glenn, less of the outrage on behalf of others.

    [Full disclaimer: I have drunk pints with Mr Burgess, and most agreeable it was too. He’s still *wrong* about chunks of 2005-2010 DW, mind; but strangely I didn’t feel the need to start calling him a shower.]

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