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Lindsey Alford , Toby Haynes , Steven Moffat

Doctor Who (Series, S05E12-13): The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang

YEAR: 2010

COUNTRY: United Kingdom

Cateogry icon

Title of the work

Doctor Who (Series, S05E12-13): The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang

Studio / Production Company

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

Country of the First Edition

Original Language

English

First Edition Date

2010

First Edition Details

June 19, 2010 / June 26, 2010

Running time

50 min (each)

Date of the First DVD or VHS

September 6, 2010 (DVD [Region 2]); July 26, 2016 (DVD [Region 1])

Awards

Hugo Award, Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Film (2011)

Genre

Science fiction
Television series
Time-Slip Fantasy*

Target Audience

Crossover

Cover

Missing cover

We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.


Author of the Entry:

Richard Scully, University of New England, rscully@une.edu.au

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Elizabeth Hale, University of New England, ehale@une.edu.au

Daniel Nkemleke, Universite de Yaounde 1, nkemlekedan@yahoo.com

Female portrait

Lindsey Alford

Script Editor


Male portrait

Toby Haynes (Director)


Male portrait

Steven Moffat , b. 1961
(Screenwriter, Scriptwriter)

Steven Moffat (1961- ) is an acclaimed Scottish TV writer and producer, who has been a significant force in British television and film since the late 1980s. Having studied at the University of Glasgow, he began writing creatively for the stage while working as a teacher in Greenock (near Glasgow). A play – War Zones (1985) – and a musical – Knifer (1989) – garnered some acclaim, but his big break came with a sample script for a show about a school newspaper. This was picked-up by ITV as Press Gang (1989-1993), showcasing much of Britain’s up-and-coming young talent. From there, he worked on the series Joking Apart (1993-95) and Chalk (1997), before having a huge hit with the relationship-themed comedy Coupling (2000-2004). Moffat was a long-time fan of Doctor Who – writing a comedy spoof for Comic Relief entitled The Curse of Fatal Death (1999) – and when it was re-launched under Russel T. Davies from 2005, he contributed scripts for perhaps the best episodes of the revamped series: The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (2005). He contributed The Girl in the Fireplace (2006), and Blink (2007), as well as the short charity episode Time Crash (2007). Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead (2008) followed; and on the strength of this – and his reputation with the outgoing showrunner, Davies – Moffat took over as executive producer from 2010. Moffat hired Matt Smith to replaced David Tennant as the Doctor (the Eleventh incarnation of the Time Lord), writing or editing in some form on almost every series of the programme from 2010 to 2017. Concurrently, Moffat collaborated with Mark Gatiss on the series Sherlock (2010-2017); six episodes of Jekyll (2007); and worked with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson on feature-film The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011).


Bio prepared by Richard Scully, University of New England, rscully@une.edu.au


Casting

Matt Smith – The Doctor

Karen Gillan – Amy Pond

Arthur Darvill – Rory Williams

Alex Kingston – River Song

Tony Curran – Vincent van Gogh

Bill Paterson – Bracewell

Ian McNeice – Winston Churchill

Sophie Okonedo – Liz Ten

Marcus O'Donovan – Claudio

Clive Wood – Commander

Christopher Ryan – Commander Stark

Ruari Mears – Cyber Leader

Paul Kasey – Judoon

Howard Lee – Doctor Gachet

Barnaby Edwards – Dalek

Simon Fisher-Becker – Dorium

Joe Jacobs – Guard

Chrissie Cotterill – Madame Vernet

David Fynn – Marcellus

Caitlin Blackwood – Amelia

Susan Vidler – Aunt Sharon

Frances Ashman – Christine

Barnaby Edwards – Stone Dalek

William Pretsell – Dave

Halcro Johnston – Augustus Pond

Karen Westwood – Tabetha Pond

Nicholas Briggs – Dalek voice

Summary

‘The Pandorica Opens’ and ‘The Big Bang’ contain numerous mash-ups of Classical myth and history. The two-part story opens with the Doctor (in his Eleventh incarnation, played by Matt Smith) and his companion, Amy Pond, arriving in Roman Britain in AD 102, where they find the Doctor’s past and future wife, River Song, impersonating the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra VII. The ‘Pandorica’ of the title is a direct reference to Pandora’s Box: an advanced prison wherein the universe’s most dangerous being is to be incarcerated. Faced by an attack from the combined armies of his deadliest enemies (the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, and more besides), the Doctor is backed by a cohort of Roman legionaries, commanded by Amy Pond’s fiancée, Rory Williams. As ‘the Last Centurion’, Rory stands guard over the Pandorica for centuries, down to the present day. In a remarkable intertextual narrative device, the whole scenario in which the Doctor finds himself is revealed to be a construct, drawn from Amy’s childhood memories of a book The Story of Roman Britain (inspired by the real-world The Romans, from the Ladybird Story of Britain series). The Doctor himself is revealed to be the universe’s most dangerous being, and thus is destined for the Pandorica.

Analysis

‘The Pandorica Opens’ and ‘The Big Bang’ are significant examples of early-21st century British television drama. Watched by close to 7 million viewers during its initial broadcast (and an additional million or so on catch-up services and other media), the episodes are notable examples of a science fiction appropriation of Classical myth, and history. The time-travelling theme of the program was a handy device for justifying the incursion into Roman Britain; and the Doctor and his companion serve as useful avatars for the audience-members as they are introduced to and familiarised with the historical and mythical context of the storyline (or, rather, reacquainted with matters with which they may already have been; with Latin language and Roman history still being widely-taught in the British education system in the 2000s).


Further Reading

Harmes, Marcus K. Doctor Who and the Art of Adaptation; Fifty Years of Storytelling, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014, esp. pp.68 ff.

Keen, Anthony G. ‘It's about Tempus: Greece and Rome in “Classic” Doctor Who’, in Space and Time: Essays on Visions of History in Science Fiction and Fantasy Television, edited by David C. Wright, Jr., and Allan W. Austin, Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010, pp.100–15.

Keen, Anthony G., ‘Sideways Pompeii! The Use of Historical Period to Question the Doctor's Role in History’, in Impossible Worlds, Impossible Things: Cultural Perspectives on Doctor Who, Torchwood, and The Sarah Jane Adventures, edited by Ross P. Garner, Melissa Beattie, and Una McCormack, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2010, pp.94–117.

Potter, Amanda, "Classical monsters in new Doctor Who fan fiction", Transformative Works and Cultures, 21 (2016), at journal.transformativeworks.org (accessed: August 17, 2018).

Addenda

Recorded viewers:

‘The Pandorica Opens’ – 7.57 million

‘The Big Bang’ – 6.696 million

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Leaf pattern

Title of the work

Doctor Who (Series, S05E12-13): The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang

Studio / Production Company

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

Country of the First Edition

Original Language

English

First Edition Date

2010

First Edition Details

June 19, 2010 / June 26, 2010

Running time

50 min (each)

Date of the First DVD or VHS

September 6, 2010 (DVD [Region 2]); July 26, 2016 (DVD [Region 1])

Awards

Hugo Award, Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Film (2011)

Genre

Science fiction
Television series
Time-Slip Fantasy*

Target Audience

Crossover

Cover

Missing cover

We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.


Author of the Entry:

Richard Scully, University of New England, rscully@une.edu.au

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Elizabeth Hale, University of New England, ehale@une.edu.au

Daniel Nkemleke, Universite de Yaounde 1, nkemlekedan@yahoo.com

Female portrait

Lindsey Alford

Script Editor


Male portrait

Toby Haynes (Director)


Male portrait

Steven Moffat (Screenwriter, Scriptwriter)

Steven Moffat (1961- ) is an acclaimed Scottish TV writer and producer, who has been a significant force in British television and film since the late 1980s. Having studied at the University of Glasgow, he began writing creatively for the stage while working as a teacher in Greenock (near Glasgow). A play – War Zones (1985) – and a musical – Knifer (1989) – garnered some acclaim, but his big break came with a sample script for a show about a school newspaper. This was picked-up by ITV as Press Gang (1989-1993), showcasing much of Britain’s up-and-coming young talent. From there, he worked on the series Joking Apart (1993-95) and Chalk (1997), before having a huge hit with the relationship-themed comedy Coupling (2000-2004). Moffat was a long-time fan of Doctor Who – writing a comedy spoof for Comic Relief entitled The Curse of Fatal Death (1999) – and when it was re-launched under Russel T. Davies from 2005, he contributed scripts for perhaps the best episodes of the revamped series: The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (2005). He contributed The Girl in the Fireplace (2006), and Blink (2007), as well as the short charity episode Time Crash (2007). Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead (2008) followed; and on the strength of this – and his reputation with the outgoing showrunner, Davies – Moffat took over as executive producer from 2010. Moffat hired Matt Smith to replaced David Tennant as the Doctor (the Eleventh incarnation of the Time Lord), writing or editing in some form on almost every series of the programme from 2010 to 2017. Concurrently, Moffat collaborated with Mark Gatiss on the series Sherlock (2010-2017); six episodes of Jekyll (2007); and worked with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson on feature-film The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011).


Bio prepared by Richard Scully, University of New England, rscully@une.edu.au


Casting

Matt Smith – The Doctor

Karen Gillan – Amy Pond

Arthur Darvill – Rory Williams

Alex Kingston – River Song

Tony Curran – Vincent van Gogh

Bill Paterson – Bracewell

Ian McNeice – Winston Churchill

Sophie Okonedo – Liz Ten

Marcus O'Donovan – Claudio

Clive Wood – Commander

Christopher Ryan – Commander Stark

Ruari Mears – Cyber Leader

Paul Kasey – Judoon

Howard Lee – Doctor Gachet

Barnaby Edwards – Dalek

Simon Fisher-Becker – Dorium

Joe Jacobs – Guard

Chrissie Cotterill – Madame Vernet

David Fynn – Marcellus

Caitlin Blackwood – Amelia

Susan Vidler – Aunt Sharon

Frances Ashman – Christine

Barnaby Edwards – Stone Dalek

William Pretsell – Dave

Halcro Johnston – Augustus Pond

Karen Westwood – Tabetha Pond

Nicholas Briggs – Dalek voice

Summary

‘The Pandorica Opens’ and ‘The Big Bang’ contain numerous mash-ups of Classical myth and history. The two-part story opens with the Doctor (in his Eleventh incarnation, played by Matt Smith) and his companion, Amy Pond, arriving in Roman Britain in AD 102, where they find the Doctor’s past and future wife, River Song, impersonating the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra VII. The ‘Pandorica’ of the title is a direct reference to Pandora’s Box: an advanced prison wherein the universe’s most dangerous being is to be incarcerated. Faced by an attack from the combined armies of his deadliest enemies (the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, and more besides), the Doctor is backed by a cohort of Roman legionaries, commanded by Amy Pond’s fiancée, Rory Williams. As ‘the Last Centurion’, Rory stands guard over the Pandorica for centuries, down to the present day. In a remarkable intertextual narrative device, the whole scenario in which the Doctor finds himself is revealed to be a construct, drawn from Amy’s childhood memories of a book The Story of Roman Britain (inspired by the real-world The Romans, from the Ladybird Story of Britain series). The Doctor himself is revealed to be the universe’s most dangerous being, and thus is destined for the Pandorica.

Analysis

‘The Pandorica Opens’ and ‘The Big Bang’ are significant examples of early-21st century British television drama. Watched by close to 7 million viewers during its initial broadcast (and an additional million or so on catch-up services and other media), the episodes are notable examples of a science fiction appropriation of Classical myth, and history. The time-travelling theme of the program was a handy device for justifying the incursion into Roman Britain; and the Doctor and his companion serve as useful avatars for the audience-members as they are introduced to and familiarised with the historical and mythical context of the storyline (or, rather, reacquainted with matters with which they may already have been; with Latin language and Roman history still being widely-taught in the British education system in the 2000s).


Further Reading

Harmes, Marcus K. Doctor Who and the Art of Adaptation; Fifty Years of Storytelling, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014, esp. pp.68 ff.

Keen, Anthony G. ‘It's about Tempus: Greece and Rome in “Classic” Doctor Who’, in Space and Time: Essays on Visions of History in Science Fiction and Fantasy Television, edited by David C. Wright, Jr., and Allan W. Austin, Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010, pp.100–15.

Keen, Anthony G., ‘Sideways Pompeii! The Use of Historical Period to Question the Doctor's Role in History’, in Impossible Worlds, Impossible Things: Cultural Perspectives on Doctor Who, Torchwood, and The Sarah Jane Adventures, edited by Ross P. Garner, Melissa Beattie, and Una McCormack, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2010, pp.94–117.

Potter, Amanda, "Classical monsters in new Doctor Who fan fiction", Transformative Works and Cultures, 21 (2016), at journal.transformativeworks.org (accessed: August 17, 2018).

Addenda

Recorded viewers:

‘The Pandorica Opens’ – 7.57 million

‘The Big Bang’ – 6.696 million

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