At the zenith of the episode Planet of the Ood, the Doctor says his farewell to the titular aliens.
OOD: And what of you now? Will you stay? There is room in the song for you.
DOCTOR: (Slightly embarrassed) Oh, I've... I've sort of... got a song of my own. Thanks.
OOD: I think your song must end soon.
DOCTOR: (Stops smiling) Meaning?
OOD: EVERY song must end.
Following the end credits, my mum turned to me and asked, "Is that the end of Tarrant then?"
"Eh?" I replied, utterly mystefied and wondering if she thought Steven Pacey was in The Sontaran Strategem.
"Is he leaving at the end of the series?" she explained.
Right. She said, "Tarrant", but she means "Tennant".
But then I was struck that the above discourse had apparently struck her as foreshadowing of a regeneration. As it appears to have struck every single fan on Outpost Gallifrey and Behind the Sofa DESPITE the clear fact DT has been seen filming the finale scene for Season Four and the next Christmas Special. Barring some strange Wormwood-style multiple Doctor chaos, he's still in the show. So once again, an Ood story has cast a completely false shadow over the fate of the main cast. First Rose dying in battle, now the Doctor dying.
I say this because RTD's story arcs have, it seems, completely gone over the heads of my parents. While not hardcore fans like myself, they do enjoy the show and in my youth were able to explain the complicated sequelitis of Destiny of the Daleks to me, as I never saw Genesis of the Daleks. They also firmly knew Season Sixteen as The Key To Time Season, and they were happy to use the phrase "E-Space Trilogy" without a gun pointed to their heads. These were the people who could explain to me what the hell was going on in part four of The Curse of Fenric when the evil Russian dude Ace fancied started bitching about Iceworld, Cybermen, time storms and Lady Peinforte.
But any of the repeated memes?
1. Bad Wolf
I can't really speak for my parents' opinion of Series 1. Basically, they only saw the first two episodes before having to wait for the ABC to screen them. This meant that often their hectic lives would leave them dozing through the episode, knowing I'd tape it, and watching Dalek or The Empty Child was completely out of the question since my near-as-dammit brother Bindie turned up with a bundle of joy called Kiera who screamed, ranted and was so utterly cute the antics of Van Statten or Constantine were ignored. I still don't think they've ever really watched Dalek... after all, when you don't need to be convinced how hard the metal bastards are, a whole episode of them floating up stairs and shooting people doesn't grab the imagination. Also, Eccleston's quitting killed a lot of their enthusiasm for it, especially as they really liked his Doctor.
As for the story arc, it's amazing they didn't register it. Even the freaking obvious ones. When Bad Wolf was spray-painted on the TARDIS, they laughed because it was just some punk spraypainting a police box. Gwenyth freaking out about The Big Bad Wolf didn't garner a reaction. Nor did that bit in Boomtown when the Ninth Doctor screams, "OMG! RUNNING STORY ARC!" as he bounces up and down. Or Rose doing the exact same thing in the next episode. Innumerable times.
Our reception was ruined during the night Parting of the Ways was screened - a fact celebrated by Rage who played Orbital's version of the theme tune that night, followed later by Doctor'n the Tardis. So, at the first opportunity I bought the vanilla DVD, which for various reasons meant the last three episodes of Season 1 were the most they've seen of the whole reboot.
It clearly didn't stick in their memory, for both of them replied "Who?" at the announcement of Captain Jack getting his own show called Torchwood. When I finally got them to WATCH Torchwood, on my computer, turning the room into a mini-theatre, they still didn't recognize him. Despite the fact the only episodes they'd ever properly watched featured him in it, fighting Daleks and snogging the Doctor. They didn't even pick up on the Doctor Who connection, assuming that the references to Cybermen were just one-off gags. Even though the whole bloody show was called...
Torchwood was an arc poorly done, we all know that. Despite being even MORE obvious than Bad Wolf, my parents didn't react. They enjoyed the episodes, sure, and actually watched them. Definitely. But Harriet Jones whispering darkly didn't register. Queen Victoria ranting? Nothing. The Torchwood Archive? Not a flicker.
In fact, the only time they seemed to notice the arc word was the ABC ad for Army of Ghost - part of which featured the words DOCTOR WHO breaking up and reassembling as TORCHWOOD. They hadn't noticed that before. Worse, they zoned out halfway through Doomsday. I was amazed when they didn't immediately ask to watch it the next day, since they were delighted that the episode just EXISTED! They had assumed that it was the finale when the Daleks emerged from the sphere, assuming a season cliffhanger.
Nevertheless, despite ALL that, when a show called Torchwood arrived about Captain Jack and alien hunters, they didn't make any connection until Cyberwoman.
3. Mr Saxon
This one has worked, albeit postumously. Since I finally was able to show them episodes at times of their convenience rather than the ABC, they were able to watch the series while getting a re-scheduled Torchwood series to keep them going (for the record it was Everything Changes, Cyberwoman, Countryside, Greeks Bearing Gifts, Out of Time, Ghost Machine, Random Shoes, Small Worlds, Combat, Captain Jack Harkness, End of Days and Day One). They understandably missed the references in Love and Monsters, CJH or The Runaway Bride (though they noticed it on the last viewing).
But all those Vote Saxon posters were overlooked. The Lazarus Experiment's references were vaguely noted... but 42's weren't! It was only with Sound of the Drums they noticed.
Mind you, they got the joke when the next issue of DE came with VS poster. And they got the watch business without necessary explanation. Though the Face of Boe gag was totally lost on them. They had no idea why the Doctor and Martha reacted so much to what they (rightly) assumed to be one of Jack's gags. However, they managed to be surprised when
a) Utopia wasn't the season cliffhanger
b) The Sound of the Drums wasn't the season cliffhanger
c) Niether were the season cliffhanger when they saw it AGAIN on the ABC, and had already seen the rest of the season
Sometimes I wonder if they're just messing with me. Like the time they said they were excited about the TV movie.
4. Season 4...
But this time... it's difference. The bees they noticed. They twigged the soothsayer sequence as VITAL right away, though I doubt they got the references to the Medusa Cascade or Donna's back. And this ominous note from the Ood all lead up in my parent's minds to...
Season 4 ends with a regeneration!
Yet, scratching my head, I have to wonder... is there a precedent for this?
Eccleston didn't have any real build up to his departure, partially because it wasn't planned and mainly because they were desperate to keep it secret. Niether Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy or Colin Baker had a chance to do so. My parents, while watching the repeats of the show on the ABC, were startled when the Doctor perished in The Caves of Androzani (mind you, they hadn't watched it before, but my point is they were not expecting him to change any time soon). Tom Baker is an exception as he dressed in red, stopped smiling and hung around with Adric while visiting other universes - but there isn't a cameo of the Watcher in The Liesure Hive, nor does the Doctor mention his ability to regenerate in Full Circle. Jon Pertwee gets an episode of foreshadowing, including a passing Time Lord dying and regenerating to explain it all satisfactorily. The War Games works precisely because, even at the cliffhanger to part nine, there's no hint of what's to come. The Tenth Planet doesn't even manage that, with Hartnell ducking out, as usual, then saying he's feeling knackered in a story full of people feeling knackered. The regeneration is entirely haphazard.
Basically, my parents sometimes baffle me beyond words. They understood entirely the significance of Grey, but never twigged that Captain Spike was the same guy they saw in the first episode...