The Witch’s Familiar
26 September 2015
As he’s trapped in a terrifying Dalek city, The Doctor is without his sonic, and without his TARDIS and is all on his own. Can The Doctor resist his greatest temptation, and will he show his greatest enemy compassion?
The read through for the Witch’s Familiar took place on Monday, 9 February, 2015, in Cardiff. Filming for the episode took place in Wales with an overseas shoot in Tenerife – the Canary Island that doubles for Skaro.
The footage that can be seen on the screen in Davros’ sanctum early on in the episode is from Genesis of the Daleks, the 1975 six-parter that’s heavily referenced throughout this adventure.
In episode 5 of Genesis of the Daleks, Davros becomes enthused by a concept suggested by Fourth Doctor. ‘To hold in my hand a capsule that contains such power [to destroy all other forms of life], to know that life and death on such a scale was my choice. To know that the tiny pressure on my thumb, enough to break the glass, would end everything… Yes, I would do it! That power would set me up above the gods!” This line is brought to mind during this adventure when Davros says, ‘Imagine… To hold in your hand the heartbeat of every Dalek on Skaro… they send me life. Is it beyond the wit of a Time Lord to send them death… Such slaughter… Are you ready to be a god?”
It’s a Special Weapons Dalek! First Seen In 1988’s Remembrance of the Daleks, one was glimpsed more recently in the Eleventh Doctor episode, Asylum of the Daleks.
The distinctive Dalek ‘heartbeat’ sound is heard several times in this episode. It’s featured in many previous stories including Destiny of the Daleks and Victory of the Daleks and was originally used in the very first Dalek adventure. In fact the the Dalek ‘heartbeat’ was heard before their familiar battle cry of ‘Exterminate!’
Another familiar Dalek line – ‘My vision is impaired! I cannot see!’ – makes welcome return in The Witch’s Familiar. The squawk of distress was first heard in the Third Doctor adventure, Planet of the Daleks, back in 1973.
‘The only other chairon Skaro…’ Daleks aren’t big on making their cities accommodating for strangers! In the very first Dalek adventure, one of the Doctor’s companions, Barbara, tried to describe the Daleks’ world and noted, ‘Well, there wasn’t any furniture, now I come to think about it…’
There are more echoes of the first Dalek story… In that adventure anotherof the Time Lord’s companions, Ian, squeezes inside a Dalek’s casing in order to attempt an escape. And The Doctor concealed himself in what appeared to be a Dalek’s shell during episode 2 of The Space Museum.
The TARDIS defence mechanism known as the Hostile Action Displacement System, or HADS for short, was first used in the Second Doctor adventure The Krotons and more recently in 2013’s Cold War. It kicks in when the time machine is in danger and moves it to a safer location. The mechanism that operates here is slightly different – the craft’s Hostile Action Dispersal System redistributes the TARDIS although The Doctor is easily able to reassemble it with ‘a quick blast’ of his sonic!
When Davros asks, ‘Am I good man?’ he’s repeating the question the Twelfth Doctor put to Clara in the previous season’s story, Into The Dalek.
‘I’m over screwdrivers…’ The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver has been spoiling the line of his jacket since the 1968 story, Fury from the Deep. One version was destroyed in 1982’s The Visitation leaving the Time Lord apparently screwdriverless until the Seventh Doctor’s final adventure in 1996. Different Doctors have used different-looking versions of the device, a fact directly referenced in The Day of the Doctor where it served as a metaphor for his changing appearance. (‘Same s oftware… different case!’)
The Doctor’s ‘sonic shades’ are the latest in a long line of sound-based devices to feature in The Doctor Who universe. Others include Sarah Jane’s ‘sonic lipstick’, Captain Jack’s sonic blaster and, of course, the sonic screwdriver. The Sixth Doctor also used a sonic lance in 1985’s Attack of the Cybermen, whilst the Ice Warriors came armed with sonic canons and in Partners in Crime the ill-fated Miss Foster carried a sonic pen.
Daleks are incapable of saying anything that contradicts the parameters of their existence.
Daleks are genetically designed to never die even as their bodies degenerate.
Daleks channel their emotions of hate to fire their weaponry, and repeat the word “exterminate” in order to reload their guns.
Missy claims she had a daughter.
The Doctor donates some regenerative energy to heal an injured associate. (The Angels Take Manhattan)
Clara, trapped inside a Dalek, tries to identify herself to The Doctor, but actually says”I am a Dalek”. A previous version of herself was locked inside a casing for so long it conditioned her to say only things that a Dalek would speak. (Asylum of the Daleks)
The Doctor is surprised to know that the Daleks know the word “mercy”. (The Big Bang)
Davros asks the Twelfth Doctor if he himself is a “good man”. He also tells The Doctor that he’s “not a good Doctor”. (Into The Dalek)
Davros ponders over the idea of “to hold in your hand, ” something precious. (Genesis of the Daleks)
Davros is in possession of the Doctor’s confession dial and his sonic sunglasses. (Prologue, The Magician’s Apprentice)
Davros utters the phrase “No! This cannot be correct!” upon learning that The Doctor has tricked him. (Remembrance of the Daleks)
The Doctor reveals that he has replaced his traditional sonic screwdriver with a pairof sonic sunglasses. The sunglasses were seen in the previous episode. (The Magician’s Apprentice)
The Doctor tells Davros that Gallifrey is alive and somewhere in the universe, and that he saved it. (The Day of the Doctor, The Time of the Doctor)
The Fourth Doctor and the First Doctor momentarily appear in a flashback told by Missy.