Catchphrases in DOCTOR WHO - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Catchphrases in DOCTOR WHO

Stacy Embry looks at some of the phrases which keep cropping up on Doctor Who. Allons-y...

Catchphrases. We all seem to have a desperate and disparate psychical addiction to catchphrases. Everyone likes 'em... from "bow ties are cool" to "would you like a jelly baby?". We feel cool saying the same phrases. We feel closer to the Doctor.

Artificially inserted wording has been a growing element in Doctor Who over recent years. Clearly within our genetic code there is a predisposition to enjoy spoon-fed aphoristic inspirational phrases (as used by many American protestant church call-boards - I actually saw one last Easter that read: "Jesus is coming, Resistance is Futile"). The showrunners of our favorite programs know this, and use these repetitive sayings, these catchphrases, as buoys for the season's story-arc. They become a part of our collective consciousness and eventually, and only after their myriad repetition, some may become precious and a comfort of sorts. Other may have the opposite effect, and like bad hashtags they never really trend. Let's look at some of each...

Hello Sweetie
A condescending repeated act of sexual harassment, River's phrase even defaced the oldest cliff face in the universe. The deliberate repeating of it, grating and distorted, set my teeth on edge. And yet, I will concede hearing it a last time... said with the talent only Alex Kingston could bring even as a data ghost, was authentically sweet. But from seeing Matt Smith's hackles raise on the back of his neck outside the crashed Byzantium, through until that release outside his time stream on Trenzalore, this phrase was an open wound. Healed now, the continual re-injury did pay off.

He Will Knock Four Times
As an audience we became paranoid every time someone would knock on anything during Tennant's final year. We had the prophecy, we knew he believed it - therefore would have a self-fulfilling denouement - but I've never focused on the mundane act of rapping a door quite so much! The end, with Wilf made it worthwhile. I knew it was coming, but was forced to care. Perhaps because it was subtle? Perhaps the only time RTD was subtle around the Tenth Doctor. It worked well... a lovely end.

Don't Blink
I could hear it now and still, and always, shiver. Worked 100% of the time.

Silence Will Fall
Cool when the silence were a race. Cool, we forget them. Cool they were caught on the Apollo 11/Man on the Moon broadcast. So, we started well with Prisoner Zero saying it at the start of Eleven's journey.... and then over three seasons I got to where I just wanted to scream! Perhaps we should have made a drinking game of it, since this one did not pay off at all. By the end, "Silence Will Fall" was reduced to some kind of confessional tool which is the opposite of what confession is... i.e., atonement can't happen if the resolution and the sin are forgotten. A parlor trick for the Papal Church of the Mainframe and completely useless. Was just dumb.

Bad Wolf
And for me, the least of all. Other than some pattern set across time and space by the TARDIS, I still can't tell you why or what 'Bad Wolf' actually was. Okay, it was a sign from Rose & the TARDIS.... to follow and believe in the unification of the Doctor's intent to be positive across all time and space?  Why this phrase and why so heavy-handed, Davies? Sloppy, childish writing that was laughable and then homaged in the Fiftieth... Bury the Wolf. I tried to make it an anagram, I tried to put it in some context... it just don't work.

Ultimately, these phrases, sometimes clumsily written to intrigue the viewer do usually pay off. So let's see if series 9 will "Make it worthwhile." A phrase spoken by the War Doctor towards Ten and Eleven in The Day of Doctor, and by Clara when she took Twelve back to the TARDIS during In the Forest of the Night. "Make It Worthwhile", a catchphrase/story-arc in the making?

Risk adverse, Stacy would never even enter the TARDIS, but admires those who do. Happily watching and writing from the distance of Indiana, USA. She enjoys writing and discussing her observations and critiques.

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