a real world point of view
|Silence in the Library|
|Main enemy:||Vashta Nerada|
|Main setting:||The Library, 51st century|
|Premiere broadcast:||31 May 2008|
|Premiere network:||BBC One|
|Format:||1x45 minute episode|
|Doctor Who television stories|
|The Unicorn and the Wasp||Forest of the Dead|
|Turn Left||Forest of the Dead|
Silence in the Library was the eighth episode of the fourth series of Doctor Who. It marked the first appearance of River Song, a mysterious person with an important role in the Doctor's personal future. The enemy of the episode is once again created by Steven Moffat by using the childish fear of the dark; Vashta Nerada.
Donna's departure at the end of the series is hinted at in this episode; River is shocked to learn who Donna is, but refuses to answer why she doesn't know her in the future despite knowing the Doctor.
The Doctor is acting odd. Well, odder than usual; he takes himself and Donna to The Library, a literal planet-sized one, apparently answering a call for help. However, they're met with a world of terror upon arrival; the library is abandoned and there is only one warning: "Count the shadows".
Charlotte Lux is in a session with her psychologist, Doctor Moon. She says she has a library, a whole world, which she sees whenever she closes her eyes. It is a peaceful place, entirely empty of human life... but suddenly her imaginary world is interrupted by the arrival of two mysterious strangers.
The Doctor and Donna arrive in the 51st century on a planet-sized book repository called simply "The Library". It is a world, holding every book ever written, powered by the most powerful computer ever. Though the Doctor has received a message for help on his psychic paper and the Library's computers claim over "a million million lifeforms" are present, they find the Library deserted. A Node, a statue with a strangely realistic human face, warns them to beware the shadows... just as the lights begin to go out around them. They race through the Library stacks until they reach a well lit room.
There they see a football-shaped security camera hovering in the air. Charlotte opens her eyes and at the same moment the camera shuts itself down. The Doctor scans it with his sonic screwdriver. The girl screams, terrified by the sound of the sonic screwdriver inside her head and the camera sends the Doctor a message that begs him to stop the noise. As the Doctor and Donna try to figure out the Node's enigmatic warning, they encounter a team of explorers in spacesuits led by archaeologist River Song. She seems to know the Doctor well, though from some point in his own personal future. Professor Song explains that her team are there with Mr. Strackman Lux (whose family built it) to learn why the Library has been sealed for the last hundred years.
The Doctor quickly organises the team to make sure the area is well lit. He says the shadows are occupied by the Vashta Nerada, microscopic, carnivorous creatures which use shadows to hunt and latch onto their prey. The team work to find a way out of the Library. River Song merrily opens a diary with a cover that looks like the Doctor's TARDIS. It seems to be about his life. She tries to find out in which part of the Doctor life she's in, but realises he is so young he does not know her.
One of the team activates something on a computer and causes a steadily repeated sound exactly like a ringing phone. At the same moment, the girl hears the phone in her house ringing though her father doesn't. She hesitates to answer and the phone stops ringing. The Doctor hacks into the computer. The young girl sees the Doctor and the team on her television instead of the cartoon she was watching. A disturbance occurs and the Doctor loses the image of the girl. As he hacks into the computer, he sees River Song's diary and picks it up, but River Song stops him. She says it's against his rules.
The girl fiddles with the television's remote. Books fly into the air from the shelves in the Library. Donna calms Mr. Lux's assistant, Ms. Evangelista. The word "CAL" appears at times on the Library screens. The Doctor asks Mr. Lux about it. Mr. Lux refuses to help, claiming that he is protecting his family's pride. The Doctor berates him and tells him that the team is in grave danger.
Ms. Evangelista sees a secret door when the girl pushed a random button from the remote. She tries to tell the others, but they don't listen. She wanders off and the Vashta Nerada devour her in seconds. The team find Ms. Evangelista's skeleton. The Doctor and Donna learn that the exploration team each wears a communication device which has a glitch called "Data Ghosting"; a copy of a person's consciousness is temporarily held in it for a short time after death, allowing them to communicate briefly with the living. Ms. Evangelista speaks briefly to the "kind woman", Donna, just before her consciousness is lost and her last words, "ice cream", are repeated.
Dr. Moon, the child's psychologist, appears to have significant knowledge of the situation of the Doctor, Donna and the exploration team. He tells her that her reality is an illusion, that her nightmares are reality and only she can save all the people trapped in the Library.
The Doctor proves the Vashta Nerada's existence by throwing a chicken leg from River Song's lunchbox into the "shadow". The chicken leg becomes a piece of bone instantly. When he mentions Donna's name, River Song knows it and seems shocked that it's her. Donna asks where she is in this future when River knows the Doctor. River goes silent. The team's investigation is interrupted when the pilot, "Proper Dave" - in contrast with the other "Dave" - acquires an extra shadow. The Vashta Nerada have attached themselves to him. The Doctor orders everyone's helmet on and finds that River Song possesses a more advanced version of his sonic screwdriver, which she claims was a gift from the Doctor.The Doctor attempts to teleport Donna back to the TARDIS before he leads the rest of the team to safety, but something goes wrong in the teleport and Donna doesn't materialise properly. He tries to save proper Dave, but Dave is quickly eaten away. As proper Dave's data ghost echoes his last thoughts, the organisms take control of his suit and approach the rest of the group. River uses a sonic blaster to make a hole in the wall, and they race away from the possessed suit. They run down a dead-end hallway as the suit approaches. The Doctor is horrified to find a Node with Donna's face on it... which claims that Donna has left the Library and has been "saved"...
- The Doctor - David Tennant
- Donna Noble - Catherine Tate
- Professor River Song - Alex Kingston
- The Girl - Eve Newton
- Dr Moon - Colin Salmon
- Strackman Lux - Steve Pemberton
- Proper Dave - Harry Peacock
- Other Dave - O-T Fagbenle
- Anita - Jessika Williams
- Miss Evangelista - Talulah Riley
- Dad - Mark Dexter
- Node 1 - Sarah Niles
- Node 2 - Joshua Dallas
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner|
|Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.|
This episode won a prestigious Video Effects Society award for its digital matte paintings by Simon Wicker, Charlie Bennett, 2D artist Arianna Lago and the uncredited Tim Barter. It was the only visual effects award during the RTD era of Doctor Who, despite several nominations.
Cultural references from the real world Edit
- When he and Donna arrive at the Library, the Doctor makes reference to author Jeffrey Archer, the Bridget Jones franchise, and Monty Python's Big Red Book.
- A model of Robby the Robot is visible in the young girl's home.
- The relationship between the Tenth Doctor and River Song is similar to the novel The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. That story is about a man who travels in time, so that the first time he meets his partner she has already met him before. That meeting also occurs in a library, and, like River Song, she gives him a diary of their time together.
- The girl watches Pedro and Frankensheep on her television. When she changes channels (causing the books to fly around in the Library) a brief snippet of dialogue from an episode of Ren and Stimpy can be heard.
- On the little girl's wall are two drawings: a blond and a wolf.
- River and the Doctor will share/have shared a picnic at Asgard.
- River mentions having "been to the End of the Universe" with the Doctor.
- Vashta Nerada are said to exist on a billion worlds, including Earth, but in small numbers and mainly feeding on road-kill.
- The Doctor notices (and says so) that River Song has a squareness gun.
- The Doctor receives a message from River Song on his psychic paper.
- The Doctor uses a teleport to attempt to send Donna to the TARDIS, but mentions that he could only do this for Donna as the TARDIS wouldn't recognise the others.
- The sonic screwdriver doesn't work on wood. Some very strong signals and certain types of hairdryers can interfere with it.
Story notes Edit
- Transmission of this episode was delayed by one week due to the Eurovision Song Contest, as was the case with the Series 3 gap between The Lazarus Experiment and 42.
- Russell T Davies feels this episode is more frightening than Steven Moffat's series 3 episode Blink, which rated a 5.5 out of 5 on the official Doctor Who website 'Fear Factor' feature.
- While the Doctor is hacking into the girl's TV, she is watching the CBBC show Pedro and Frankesheep. Previous real-life kids shows whose clips have been shown on Doctor Who include the Doctor watching Tommy Zoom in The Poison Sky, the Master watching The Teletubbies in The Sound of Drums, and the Master (again) watching The Clangers in The Sea Devils.
- Excluding the Children in Need specials, this is the 50th episode of Doctor Who since the series returned in 2005.
- Steve Pemberton is the second of The League of Gentlemen to appear in Doctor Who, the other being Mark Gatiss who appeared in The Lazarus Experiment as Richard Lazarus.
- When the girl collapses due to the Doctor's tampering with the security camera, the pattern of the rug she collapses on is the same as the red pattern on the computer screens reading "Access Denied". It also can be briefly seen on the lens cap of the security camera, and repeated in the metalwork in the background of the circular room much of the library scenes take place in.
- Additionally, when Doctor Moon and her father rush to her side when she collapses, a plastic tag reading "CAL" can be briefly seen on Doctor Moon's briefcase.
- The security camera appears to have angel wings carved on its sides.
- Steven Moffat continues his theme of highlighting childhood fears: in Blink, it was statues coming to life; in The Girl in the Fireplace, it was monsters under the bed; and in The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, it was the fear of war and bombardment.
- Talulah Riley is the second major cast member of the 2005 film Pride & Prejudice to be featured in a Steven Moffat story, the first being Carey Mulligan in Blink.
- The spoilers theme may be an in-joke about DW spoilers (especially online). Additionally, the word "spoilers" is said twice in rapid succession in the trailer for the next episode, which may be a comment on the nature of the trailers themselves.
- There is, perhaps, unintentional irony to the Doctor's line, "No, I never land on Sundays. Sundays are boring." Given that Saturdays are "good", according to The Stolen Earth, it could also be a reference to the fact that the day after a new episode of Doctor Who is broadcast is comparatively boring. Former companion Ace also once mentioned that she found Sundays boring in Survival. In PROSE: Wetworld, the planet that he and Martha visited was called Sunday.
- The Library's front desk looks like a redecorated version of a control console from The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky or the teleport control unit from Voyage of the Damned.
- In the associated Doctor Who Confidential episode, Steven Moffat says that he imagined River found the gun (as left behind by Jack) in the TARDIS during her future travels.
- Steven Moffat stated that British newspaper The Sun got a hold of the script for the episode and threatened to publish it. Moffat jokingly told them to do it; he later remarked, "I'd like to see The Sun publish that many words in a day."
- As is routine for post-2005 Doctor Who, a "NEXT TIME" trailer for the next episode is shown at the end of the episode.
- Official BARB - 6.27 million viewers
Myths and rumours Edit
- The mystery of River Song led to much online fan speculation over her identity. Possibilities cited ranged from River being an iteration of Bernice Summerfield (as the two share similar personalities and are both space archaeologists) to a disguised Time Lord like Romana. Additional ideas abound. In TV: A Good Man Goes to War, it was revealed she wasn't an older character, but the human (with Time Lord DNA) daughter of Amy Pond and Rory Williams.
- Evangelista's last words have occasionally been misinterpreted as "I scream." On the official BBC subtitling, her final words are, "I... Ice cream. Ice cream," which is in keeping with her (initially) childlike demeanour.
Filming locations Edit
- Upper Boat Studios, Trefforest
- Hensol Castle, Hensol
- Victoria Park, Cardiff
- Palace Road, Cardiff
- Crwys Medical Centre, Cardiff
- St Mary's Of Angels, Canton
- Dyffryn Gardens, Vale Of Glamorgan
- Brangwyn Hall, Swansea
- Alcoa Emp Swansea, Swansea
- Swansea Library, Swansea
Production errors Edit
- After River Song greets the Doctor with "Hello, sweetie", in the next shot of the Doctor, Donna and River, a boom mic is just barely visible in the top left corner above River's head.
- After the shot in which Proper Dave is seen to have two shadows, there is a short shot from a different camera angle where in the Doctor passes Dave his helmet. In this short shot, Dave is seen to have but one shadow. When the shot returns to the previous camera, Dave has two shadows, as before.
- When the Doctor and group are talking to the little girl on her TV you can see them all standing around the console but when the shot pulls back and they all back away from the console you can see that half of them have changed positions. Mr Lux, Proper Dave, Anita and Miss Evangelista have all changed from their positions seen on the TV to when you cut to the group. Also Donna who is clearly close to the Doctor's right is not shown leaning to look into the console but jumps back like everyone else as if she had been looking into it.
- A similar species which could take over the light but weren't hostile were the Cimmerians in the AUDIO: Embrace the Darkness.
- As shown on the BBC Doctor Who website, there are a number of books in the library that reference previous episodes. Those seen are the operating manual for the TARDIS, Origins of the Universe, (TV: Destiny of the Daleks) The French Revolution, (TV: An Unearthly Child) A Journal of Impossible Things, (TV: Human Nature/The Family of Blood) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (written by Douglas Adams, former Doctor Who writer and script editor), Everest in Easy Stages, (TV: The Creature from the Pit) and Black Orchid (a book first seen in the Fifth Doctor serial TV: Black Orchid).
- The Doctor makes mention of 'Emergency Programme One' which would return Donna home. This was first seen and used in TV: The Parting of the Ways.
- The last time the Doctor received a message on his psychic paper was in TV: New Earth.
- This is the second time the Doctor has arrived 'too early' (or rather the TARDIS has brought him too early). This previously occurred in TV: The Doctor's Daughter.
- The Doctor once again expresses his affinity for little gift shops of the type found in museums and hospitals, having mentioned them in TV: Smith and Jones and TV: New Earth.
- The previous episode ended with the Doctor showing a traditional paper-bound book dating from the far future, a thematic lead-in to this visit to the Library (although dialogue indicates that he and Donna were originally travelling elsewhere).
- River Song, although she never confirms it, appears to know about Donna's memory loss in TV: Journey's End.
- The story also has considerable commonality with a Fifth Doctor illustrated text story, "Catalogue of Events", from the 1983 Doctor Who Magazine Special.
- When River Song goes through her diary to check wherabouts the Doctor is in his timeline, she mentions "The Crash of the Byzantium". (TV: The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone) Later, she claims to have gone "to the end of the universe" with him. (TV: The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang)
- When River displays her sonic screwdriver, she says, "Snap," a reference to the card game Snap, in which players must say "Snap" when two identical cards are played. The Second and Sixth Doctors said "Snap!" to each other upon meeting in TV: The Two Doctors. The Tenth Doctor also used this expression to the Fifth Doctor when he put on glasses in TV: Time Crash .
- One of the archaeologists says that River and The Doctor are bickering away like an old married couple... which they technically are. (TV: The Wedding of River Song)
- One of the incarnations of Clara Oswin Oswald was present during those events but went unnoticed by the Doctor. (TV: The Name of the Doctor)
Home video releases Edit
- This story was released in the Series 4 DVD box set in November 2008 along with the rest of the series.
- It was released as Series 4 Volume 3 in a vanilla edition with Forest of the Dead and Midnight.
- Official BBC Website - Episode Guide for Silence in the Library
- Silence in the Library at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- Silence in the Library at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Silence in the Library at The Locations Guide