The Great Intelligence

You know those moments where you realise that you probably know too much about something? I get that with Doctor Who all the time. All the ******* time.

(I finally got the internet reinstalled a few days ago, and finally downloaded the Doctor Who Christmas special and finally watched it. With my cousin, in Greenock, yesterday afternoon.)

Partly, it's because of a natural tendency to spot some details. The "G.I." logo kept turning up in the Christmas special, so I knew right away that it was going to be relevant. Now, that's not due to having an intimate knowledge of the series. It's due to being aware of the concept of foreshadowing. I could tell that it had some significance.

But as soon as I heard the words "The Intelligence", it immediately hit me. I went "ooh" in that kind of way that lets the room know that you've just made some major breakthrough. It's completely involuntary, and sometimes you wish you hadn't made it, because then people are curious and you don't know whether they want an explanation or not. And since that explanation can disrupt the show, or can include spoilers, you have to be careful.

My cousin was there at the time. He'd already seen the episode, so I didn't have to worry about spoiling anything. We paused the episode and I explained.

"The second Doctor went up against the Great Intelligence twice in the series and again in the books. It was just a disembodied voice, mostly, but it used yetis." And then I groaned, when I made a connection with what we were just watching. "Yetis. Snowmen. Abominable ******* Snowmen - these Christmas specials always get a bit too cute. Anyway, first time they went up against him in the Himalayas. The yeti kind of made sense in that episode in a 1960s kind of way. The second time was in the London Underground and that made no ******* sense at all."

We're laughing, by now. We can enjoy the series, but we both get irritated and frustrated by the camp elements, sometimes. So we have most fun when we find ourselves remembering that it's always been a bit camp - just in different ways. And the only thing camper than yeti in the London Underground in the 1960s is... I don't know... John Barrowman wearing drag and fairy lights or something like that.

Anyway, about a month ago, I read something really cool about Matt Smith's interpretation of the Doctor. He's based his performance on Rowan Atkinson in old episodes of Blackadder (which is moderately cool) and on Michael Crawford in old episodes of Some mothers do 'ave 'em (which is seriously ******* cool). So the other highlight of that episode was spotting nods to those characters. And the Frank Spencer moment - once we were aware of it - was unmissable.

Watch the moment where Clara kisses the Doctor. Look for his affronted and slightly huffy response, just after she lets him go. It's brilliant. Absolutely note perfect. Matt Smith... the kid is a genius. He's going to go a long way in his career.


I watched Some mothers do 'ave 'em when I was young. I was a little boy when it was first shown. So I missed most of the subtexts. But because I took it at face value back then, I never thought to look any deeper, as I got older. I was into my thirties, before someone pointed out that Michael Crawford portrayed Frank Spencer as being gay and in the closet (although I'm not sure if the term "in the closet" even existed back then). I didn't even have to rewatch anything when I was told that - it was just instantly, blindingly obviously. Of course Frank was gay. How could I have ever missed it?

I love that series even more, now. It's very underrated. I want to buy it all and have a DVD marathon session.

Sub subnote...

Richard E. Grant was perfect in this story. One of my favourite moments was that note of frustration and indignation when he realised the Doctor had locked the doors to his... his study, or office, or den, or whatever it's called. I should really learn these words. For most of the episode, he simply looked mean and angry, but in that moment he reminded me of Withnail.

And if you've never seen Withnail and I, then track it down. One of the classic British films and Richard E. Grant's finest ever performance.
TheNakedPoet TheNakedPoet
46-50, M
1 Response Jan 19, 2013

What an awesome review...I think it's cool you know so much about it! I totally cracked up laughing at, "John Barrowman wearing drag and fairy lights or something like that." :D

Actually, I don't think there are many things where I'm more knowledgable than this. Although I still learn new things all the time, because there's usually a bunch of different continuities going on and it's impossible to keep track of them all. Sometimes they converge, but usually they contradict each other, which is a shame. You have to wait until they get referred to in the TV series, before you can consider them to be canon. The Great Intelligence - as an example - has an entirely different origin going on, somewhere. One of the stories said it was one of the Old Chulhu Gods. The Christmas special shafted that one right up the arse.

I think it's cool how you pick up on all these different angles and where the themes are headed and if they make it there or not. A lot of very critical thinking goes into something like this and I always admire folks who are good at that.