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Escape from the Planet of the Dead?


planet dead poster

CARMEN: Something is coming. Riding on the wind, and shining.
DOCTOR: What is it?
CARMEN: Death. Death is coming.


After stealing an ancient chalice from a London museum, Lady Christina de Souza slickly escapes by jumping on a #200 bus. Co-incidentally, the Doctor, who is tracking a worm-hole, boards just before the bus passes through said worm-hole to appear on the desert planet, San Helios.

I will get you homeThe Doctor and Christina head off to scout the planet leaving Angela, Barclay, Nathan, Lou and Carmen on board the damaged #200 (BTW did you know the bus really was damaged in Dubai when a shipping container landed on it, necessitating some fancy rewriting).

A pair of Tritovores (fly people) also shipwrecked, assist the Doctor to probe a sinister storm revealed to consist of millions of metal sting-rays, creators of the worm-hole, bent on devouring San Helios before moving on to Earth for afters.

No wonder Carmen’s premonition of death causes panic among the passengers who quickly lose hope of seeing home again. Christina and the Doctor try to encourage them, each in their own way.

CHRISTINA: Stop whimpering, all of you.
DOCTOR: All right now; stop it…. Angela, just answer me one thing. When you got on this bus, where were you going?
ANGELA: Just home.
DOCTOR: And what’s home?
ANGELA: Me and Mike. And Suzanne. That’s my daughter. She’s eighteen.
DOCTOR: Suzanne. Good. What about you?
BARCLAY: Don’t know. Going round Tina’s.
DOCTOR: Who’s Tina? Your girlfriend?
BARCLAY: Not yet.
DOCTOR: Good boy. What about you, Nathan?
NATHAN: I was going to stay in and watch TV.
DOCTOR: Brilliant. And you two?
LOU: I was going to cook.
DOCTOR: What’s for tea?
LOU: Nice couple of chops and gravy. Nothing special.
DOCTOR: Oh, that’s special, Lou. That is so special. Chops and gravy, mmm.
DOCTOR: Chops and gravy. Watching TV. Mike and Suzanne and poor old Tina.
DOCTOR: Just think of them. Because that planet out there, all three suns, wormholes and alien sand, that planet is nothing. You hear me? Nothing, compared to all those things waiting for you. Food and home and people. Hold on to that, because we’re going to get there. I promise. I’m going to get you home.

flying homeThis proves to be no empty promise after Christina steals a crystal from the Tritovore spaceship and the Doctor uses the clamps that held it as anti-gravitation aids enabling good old #200 to fly them home in the nick of time to London .

The Doctor’s promise reminded me of another promise made to men and women trapped dead on planet Earth.

Jesus said,
‘Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go and prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.’ John 14:1-3 ESV

And Paul affirmed this hope to first-century Christians in Rome facing the prospect of death for their faith.

‘For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.’
Romans 6:5 ESV

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Spreading the message of the Man who saves

master and dopctorAt the end of series 3, we learn many important facts about the Doctor as he faces the maniacal Master and tackles his desire to rule the world.

One thing we learn is that the Doctor chose his own name.

Unlike the Master, who is bent only on dominating others (and chose a most appropriate name for that), the Doctor desires to save, to heal, to rescue, and to make people better… Or at least the best versions of themselves. This is the Doctor’s attitude to the Master as well. The Master has been driven mad by the drumming in his head, a consequence of gazing into the untempered schism as a child. This was something chosen for him. It was shown to him, for what purpose we are not sure. Even though the Master wants to destroy the Doctor, the Doctor’s aim is to fix him, to look after him, to forgive him.

YoungMasterTSODBut let’s get down to the story that unfolds here in this double episode: The Sound of Drums (3/12) and The Last of the Time Lords (3/13)
It is filled with incredible timey-wimey issues! The Master has captured the TARDIS, and ‘cannibalised’ it, in order to create a time paradox. He has been to the end of the universe and ‘saved’  the human race – in a way. Now he’s brought them back, in the form of ‘tochlophane’ (think lethal, flying metal balls with human brains inside), who will kill their own ancestors. (The Master says if he tells the Doctor who they really are his “hearts” would break!).

While this situation should create a paradox and cancel out their existence, the TARDIS is holding the future and past together. And so the Master, aka Harold Saxon, can rule the planet, build rockets to destory other civilisations in the galaxy and oversee the rise of a new Time Lord empire.  As for the Doctor, well the Master has aged him, suspending his capacity to regenerate so he experiences all 900 years at once. But the Doctor has a secret weapon which he entrusted to Martha before she embarked on her year long journey around the globe: the power of the spoken word.

doctor-master-cagedThough planet Earth is ‘closed’, bound for imminent destruction, Martha has become famous. Legend says she alone can kill the master! But not with a weapon; she will do it with words. She has been walking the earth, telling the story of the Doctor who saves, who has been saving humans for hundreds of years.

MARTHA: “I travelled across the world, from the ruins of New York to the fusion mills of China, right across the radiation pits of Europe. And everywhere I went, I saw people just like you, living as slaves. But if Martha Jones became a legend, then that’s wrong, because my name isn’t important. There’s someone else. The man who sent me out there. The man who told me to walk the Earth. And his name is the Doctor. He has saved your lives so many times, and you never even knew he was there. He never stops. He never stays. He never asks to be thanked. But I’ve seen him. I know him. I love him. And I know what he can do.”

By telling everyone this story Martha unites the human race together, creating a telepathic field focused on the name of the Doctor. This is what unlocks the Doctor from his cage and brings about the Master’s demise. The Doctor is reborn, empowered, and offers forgiveness and healing to the Master (who incidentally is unwilling to accept the offer).

I almost feel there is no need to spell this out, but how much is this like the Gospel of Jesus, the message of the Word of God, who died for the world? How much is this like the Great Commission, the Gospel handed down and entrusted to the followers of Christ. We have a message far greater than any excellent Doctor Who adventure, a real story of love and sacrifice and rescue. Might we (I) never be more excited to share these stories than the most important story of Jesus Christ, who saves sinners.

For this gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher,and therefore I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
(2 Timothy 1:11-14)

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

(Matthew 28:18-20)

You may also enjoy:

The Titles of Christ in the midst of a whirlwind (from Seven Notes of Grace)

The Name of the Doctor, such a promise                           The Power of a Name

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New Anniversary trailer

There seem to be a multitude of official and unofficial trailers for the upcoming specials. This one seems BBC made, and has some great still 3D images! Enjoy.

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The Peter Capaldi era begins . . .

day of doctorThough I have no “bluebox parable” to share today I thought I’d stop in to show you an amazing potential opening sequence for the Peter Capaldi era of Doctor Who. I’m pretty sure it is not a BBC certified production – just something a clever fan has whipped up (or slaved over for hours or days). They have done a brilliant job! What do you think?

You can also read more about the upcoming anniversary special (which will be 76 mins of fun!). Or check out Capaldi’s fan page on facebook (which is where I found this clip).

You may also like:
The name of the Doctor – such a promise                       We are all ghosts to you

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Give me a day like this one!

everybody livesSome of the best Christopher Eccelston moments occur in this double episode from series 1, set in London’s World War 2 Blitz (The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, series 1/9 &1/10).

Rose Tyler: Look at you, beaming away like you’re Father Christmas!
The Doctor: Who says I’m not?. . . red-bicycle-when-you-were-twelve?
Rose Tyler: What?

But the thing I like most about this story is that the Doctor gets a day when “everybody lives!” For this once he does not have to compromise or sacrifice someone for the greater good. So what is the threat to humanity this time round? Well, if you have forgotten, the problem is that some clever little nanogenes, (escaped from a Chula medical transporter – hijacked by Captain Jack) are trying to convert people to match the form of a wandering, dead child, killed during an air raid. This un-dead child has the power to transform anyone he touches, to match his un-dead state.

DOCTOR: Getting it now, are we? When the ship crashes, the nanogenes escape. Billions upon billions of them, ready to fix all the cuts and bruises in the whole world. But what they find first is a dead child, probably killed earlier that night, and wearing a gasmask. . . They do what they’re programmed to do. They patch it up. Can’t tell what’s gasmask and what’s skull, but they do their best. Then off they fly, off they go, work to be done. Because, you see, now they think they know what people should look like, and it’s time to fix all the rest. And they won’t ever stop. They won’t ever, ever stop. The entire human race is going to be torn down and rebuilt in the form of one terrified child looking for its mother, and nothing in the world can stop it!”

But when the child finally approaches (with that ominous question “Are you my mummy?”) mother Nancy courageously embraces him. The cloud of “clever little nanogenes” surrounds them and figures out that she is the mother. Instead of making her dead they repair the child.
DOCTOR: Oh, come on. Give me a day like this. Give me this one. . . .The nanogenes recognised the superior information, the parent DNA. They didn’t change you because you changed them! Ha-ha! Mother knows best!”
And “everybody lives” –  with relatively little effort from the Doctor.

For the sake of this bluebox parable I’d like to focus your attention on the way our heavenly Father changes us, by a remarkably similar process. To explain this I’ll take you to a concept I recently discovered in Tim Chester’s book You can change (2008):

“Without Jesus we can never really break free from sin’s grip. But Jesus came to set us free from sin and destroy Satan’s power. He’s begun a process in us that will end with our becoming like God: ‘now we are children of God . . . we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is’. That process isn’t yet complete, so we still fall into sin. But we’re no longer enslaved by sin. We can change.
More than that, John says holiness has now been written into our DNA! . . . Not-sinning is in our DNA . . . Love is in our DNA.
As I grow older, I look more like my father. It’s not that I’m making a special effort to look like him. It’s in my genes. It’s the same, says John, with our heavenly Father. John didn’t know about DNA so he uses the word ‘seed’. . . When we were born we received a nature with an in-built tendency towards sin. When we were born of God we received a new nature with an in-built tendency towards holiness.”
(p. 61) (You can also watch a clip about the book here)

So just like those clever nanogenes, the parent DNA of God surrounds us and works in us (in the form of his Holy Spirit) to make us like Him! He brings us from death to life, he repairs our sinful selves, and over time transforms us into the likeness of his Son.

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No eye has seen, no mind has conceived
                          One Doctor, Two Hearts
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Two Natures, One Heart

scare crows

‘I don’t think scare crows knock!’
The episodes ‘Human Nature’ and ‘The Family of Blood’ (3:8, 9) are my favourites. David Tennant won the Constellation Award for Best Male Performance in a 2007 Science Fiction Television Episode for the two-part story and I won’t argue with that. Tempting as it is to retell the entire story (for my enjoyment more than yours, I am sure) I will suggest instead just a thought or two, in a Blue Box Parable sense.Family of Blood

In hiding from ‘the Family’ (aliens, not Martha’s Mum, though she scares the socks off me) the Doctor embeds his Time Lord consciousness in a pocket watch to become the ‘entirely human’ John Smith, a teacher at the Farringham School for boys in 1914.
Martha as his maid copes well, even with the Doctor’s incomplete instructions (‘you didn’t tell me what to do if you fell in love’) staying alert for the Family who soon sniff him out, threatening the world with destruction unless he gives himself up.

Doctor NatureJohn Smith, the teacher, refusing to accept his true nature as the Doctor, must be convinced by Martha and School Nurse Joan Redfern (whom Smith has fallen in love with) when the Family begins attacking the village. Smith breaks but then uses the watch to share a vision with Joan of what their lives would be like together as humans; touching. Really!

Now, there are obvious comparisons to be made with Jesus, who ‘emptied himself, taking the form of a servant’ (Philippians 2:7) though as always the contrasts between the ‘Time Lord’ and the ‘Lord of Time’ are more telling than any comparison; to me at least.

I was affected more by John Smith’s struggle in deciding to fulfill his Time Lord nature and save our little planet from yet another alien threat. In this I did see a comparison with Jesus and his even more intense struggle in the garden of Gethsemane; whether to fulfill his purpose in ‘coming to Earth’ (to save us from the death our sin demanded and to reconcile us to his Father and ours).

Jesus 2‘Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”’  Matthew 26:36-39

John Smith chose, in the end, to give up his life (at least the life he might have had with Joan) to save us Earthlings. Jesus chose, from before the foundation of the world, to give up his life for us; not any imagined Earthly life, but the life he shared with his Father eternally, so that we might share it as well.

‘For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.’ Romans 5:10, 11

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The name of the Doctor, such a promise!                          We are all ghosts to you


The power of a name

episode2theshakespearecodedoctorwhofdc2007The Shakespeare Code (3/2) is Martha’s first time-travelling adventure with the Doctor. She’s already tried space travel, not by choice but because the hospital she worked in was plucked from earth and dumped on the moon. (You see, the Judoon were seeking justice against a blood sucking alien disguised as an old woman. A classic episode!)
But now Martha is promised ‘one quick trip’ through time. The Doctor takes her to Elizabethan England 1599. What they find there is most reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Macbeth! Three troublesome witches are interfering with the affairs of men, and in particular the Bard himself! They are controlling him, making him write an unannounced sequel, ‘Love’s Labours Won’. They hope to use his powerful words to bring their alien sisters through a rift in time. These ‘Carrionites’ (a word which refers to decaying flesh) are forcing his hand to pen coded words which will open the rift and allow them to wreak havoc on earth. They had previously forced the architect, now in Bedlam Asylum, to build the Globe Theatre to their 14 sided specifications!

SHAKESPEARE: Doctor, can you stop her?
DOOMFINGER: No mortal has power over me.
DOCTOR: Oh, but there’s a power in words. If I can find the right one. If I can just know you.
DOOMFINGER: None on Earth has knowledge of us.
DOCTOR:: Then it’s a good thing I’m here. Now think, think, think. Humanoid female, uses shapes and words to channel energy. Ah! Fourteen! That’s it! Fourteen!
DOCTOR [in cauldron]: The fourteen stars of the Rexel planetary configuration!
DOCTOR: Creature, I name you Carrionite!
(Doomfinger screams and vanishes in a slow flash of light.)
MARTHA: What did you do?
DOCTOR: I named her. The power of a name. That’s old magic.
MARTHA: But there’s no such thing as magic.
DOCTOR: Well, it’s just a different sort of science. You lot, you chose mathematics. Given the right string of numbers, the right equation, you can split the atom. Carrionites use words instead.
SHAKESPEARE: Use them for what?
DOCTOR: The end of the world.

Now of course the Carrionites do not succeed. Martha and the Doctor foil their plans. Shakespeare lends a hand with his powerful words:
SHAKESPEARE: Close up this din of hateful, dire decay, decomposition of your witches’ plot. You thieve my brains, consider me your toy. My doting Doctor tells me I am not!
LILITH: No! Words of power!
SHAKESPEARE: Foul Carrionite spectres, cease your show! Between the points

Ultimately the Doctor traps them in a glass ball – which interestingly makes an appearance at the end of the Agatha Christie episode (4/7). This is another story which highlights the power of words! (The Doctor has kept them hidden away in the Tardis, in a trunk labelled C:  C for Christie, C for Carrionites.)DocWithPaperback

But in this adventure our parable is clearly seen in the power of a name. And this works in two ways. Firstly, by naming his Carrionite foes the Doctor disarms them. Yet they can’t name him. The Doctor’s name remains hidden and he has victory!
In some ways this is the effect of confessing our sins. When we name our specific foes (or sins, like jealousy, anger, discontent, envy) we disrupt the power they have over us! As we speak to God and seek forgiveness his power comes to defeat these enemies in our life. Imagine the further effect of naming and confessing our sins to one another?
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16

Secondly, the power of a name has the power to save. We call on our mum, our dad, the Doctor (well, his companions do) – knowing that calling on their name will bring the help we need. But the name of the True Time Lord, Jesus, is the only one that has the power to save completely those who trust in it. Jesus is the only name by which we can be saved – and we can call on His name any time, any where!
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

God has revealed the name of His promised Servant King, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. If you are have found forgiveness in Jesus you will know something of the power of Jesus’ name (read more here at my other blog). Yet I’m sure this is something it takes a whole life time (and more) to fully appreciate.

God bless you – in Jesus’ name!

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The Name of the Doctor – such a promise         Enduring power of the written word
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