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A State of Temporal Grace

By Neil Lambess

I was sitting in a small cafe in Whangarei, mulling over the loose threads posed by my viewing of the new Doctor Who telemovie the previous night, when suddenly my latte bowl flew up into the air just as the shop's CD player started skipping. 'Of course!' I yelled clearly to staff and patrons, 'if the Doctor's half-human then I know who his mother is!!!'

'Who?' queried the staff and patrons.
'Dr Grace Holloway,' replied I.

'Who?' re-queried the staff and patrons bemusedly as I began to dance on the tables.

'It's all quite simple, really,' I began, as I pulled up a chair and began to relate the following set of clues as a carefully presented chronology of the telemovie...

  • An early shot inside the TARDIS duplicates an opening shot (of clocks on a table) from Back to the Future (which as we all know is about a man going back in time to kiss his mother...).
  • The Doctor appears to be listening to an English version of the aria Un Bel Di ('One Fine Day') from the opera Madame Butterfly whilst sipping tea in the TARDIS.
  • We first meet Grace Holloway at the opera listening to Un Bel Di (surprise! surprise!) from Madame Butterfly - which incidentally is an opera about a woman in a far-off land (Japan) who falls pregnant to a sailor (from America) The sailor returns home and she has the baby. When the sailor returns with his American wife, Madame B kills herself and the boy goes back to a different culture with his father (i.e. the child is brought up in two worlds).
  • After regenerating, the amnesia-ridden Doctor rushes towards the woman who just 'killed' him, trusting her as 'safe' and sensing her as somebody who knows him; in the car park he remembers enough about her to tell her about her fear of dying, so they've met before (or maybe this is symptomatic behaviour of Puccini fans...).
  • At Grace's apartment there's a picture by Leonardo da Vinci on the wall - the Doctor's met both Leo and Puccini (people he knows because of his mother's influence, perhaps???)
  • In the apartment the Doctor confirms that he's met Grace before by referring to her 'childhood dreams' and revealing that she goes on to do 'great things'. (The Doctor could be psychic, but a later scene in which he recognises Gareth seems to refute this). Interestingly Madame Butterfly plays on the soundtrack again!
  • As the Eye of Harmony opens, the Doctor remembers who he is and kisses Grace with a look of apparent recognition (Mummy!!), either that or opening the Eye of Harmony cures celibacy!
  • Why is Grace on the board of the 'Institute of Technological Advancement and Research' (ITAR)?
  • Why is ITAR a partial anagram of TARDIS and why is the sign outside ITAR a big blue box!!!
  • Why does the beryllium clock have strong echoes of TARDIS console in its design (curiously the Doctor needs the beryllium to fix the TARDIS and it fits the time rotor perfectly).
  • Oh, by the way, the words 'Dr Who' are hidden in the name 'Dr Grace Holloway'. (Does he call himself 'Doctor' in memory of his mother?).
  • The Doctor is trying to tell Grace something important, but she doesn't want to hear it, so he mischievously tells it to a scientist while pick-pocketing a security pass. If he tells him the same secret, why was the Doctor so eager to tell Grace he's half human on his mother's side.
  • The 'size' joke is common to bath Earth and Gallifrey; did the Doctor's mother introduce it?
  • During their escape from ITAR we discover that the Doctor and Grace are both afraid of heights, and both hide keys in the same place prompting the Doctor to remark 'great minds think alike!' (hmm, as we all know both vertigo and key-hiding rivals are genetic traits). So is lying to make a point!
  • When repairing the TARDIS, Grace has a line of technobabble that reveals she knows a bit about spatial displacement and such like.
  • On the bike, the Doctor tells an inquisitive Grace light-heartedly that she doesn't want to know what happens to her. However by the end of the story the Doctor tells her that 'there's something she should know'. Grace doesn't want to hear it as she's happy with who she is. The Doctor gives her a short 'distant' kiss. Grace looks disturbed by this and then gives a look of realisation (she obviously took Method Acting 101). They part, and the Doctor leaves and resumes playing the same record inside the TARDIS.

'But if she's his mother, who's his father?' queried the staff and patrons of the coffee shop.

'I don't know,' I replied, but it's worth considering the following...

  • The Master's campy comment about the son he's always wanted.
  • The Master yelling 'You are my life!' at the Doctor.
  • The odd fact that he can possess Grace from a distance, yet has to snog her to 'suck the possession' out of her. This is doubly odd considering that the Master's 'snake form' enters through the mouth (perhaps that's why the Doctor only pecks Grace on the lips at the end??).
  • Is Grace somehow impregnated with a Gallifreyan child?

Whatever happens, the new telemovie has been one hell of a good rebirth for an old friend. Welcome back Doctor, I hope you stay a while.

Time will tell, it always does!

This item appeared in TSV 48 (August 1996).

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