Monday, 25 November 2013
I was woken up at 4 o'clock this morning by a large black limousine, continually driving slowly and noisily past my bedside window. Now that is very odd I thought - living as I do on the 9th Floor...
I opened the window and found it was one of the new BBC Cardiff hover cars - the latest extravagant misuse of licence payers' money - and I'm sure not the last.
Sitting in the back, glaring malevolently, was a certain Mr Gatiss...
"So, we play the game again, Mr D" he hissed.
"Sod off. I've had 8 cans of blackcurrant cider and have to blog about The Day of the Doctor later today!"
"So you've seen my anniversary special then? I hope you liked it. Moffat has still got the old writers block. I've had him committed. I've got an android Moffat prepared to do interviews and show up at the Convention. Jenna Coleman is working it from the back when it starts to go wrong. I got the idea from The Androids of Tara."
"Why the heck are you here?"
"To tell you all about my new BBC3 sitcom, of course. Making "An Adventure In Space And Time" gave me the most wonderful idea. Imagine what would have happened if the Time Lords couldn't get the Three Doctors back to their proper time-streams?"
He paused. "Why is my anniversary special only in inverted commas, whereas the other thing gets bold?"
"It's an idiosyncrasy of this blog. Get on with what you've got to say".
"Well, the Three Doctors are played by my best mate David Bradley, and my other best mate Reece Shearsmith and, of course, my very best mate of all - Me! I do have to be in everything these days, you know. We get stranded in a two-up, two-down in Surbiton in the 1970's, and lots of comical happenings ensue. Bradley plays the grumpy old one, who never leaves the house. He's always stopping Reece and me getting girlfriends and having fun. Reece and I always bicker and get up to scrapes as we try to compete with each other. There's a lovely scene in episode three where I've spent ages redecorating the spare room - and he doesn't like it.
"A lot of the comedy derives from the arguments we have with the next door neighbour - Omega. He's also stuck in 1970's suburbia, and realises he was better off in the Universe of Anti-Matter, so he's always complaining about us. Especially when Reece and I try to get off with his buxom daughter..."
"Omega has a buxom daughter? So it is canonical then?"
"Of course! We've also got the Rani in it. She runs the local pub and Bradley ends up having the hots for her - though it's never reciprocated. (He sneaks down there without us knowing about it). She's also quite buxom. I understand young people quite like that sort of thing..."
"You'll be telling me the Meddling Monk is in it as well."
"He's at No. 37 - on the other side! Joins Reece and me on our scrapes. My best mate Rory Kinear has agreed to do it."
"Anything else you need to tell me about this, before I get my antique fowling piece and blast your anti-grav engines?"
"Only that Nick Parsons has agreed to play the vicar in a couple of episodes. In the pilot episode, he walks in just as Reece and I accidentally lose our trousers -and just as a couple of ladies from the Women's Institute come round for some jumble (Wendy Padbury and Debbie Watling have agreed to cameo. They lose their knickers when a window cleaner mistakes them for drashigs - sorry, dish rags. He's played by Frazer Hines, by the way. Didn't want to do it, until I mentioned Wendy and Deb's knickers. Then he was totally up for it, for some reason...).
"And, of course, Nick Briggs plays the voice of the Daleks -"
I took one look at the antique fowling piece. Made in Birmingham. That was good enough for me.
But, by the time I took aim, the hover car had flown off into the night - its occupant laughing maniacally and muttering about season 2 of his new series, in which the Three Doctors go on a package holiday to Spain....
Sunday, 24 November 2013
|The cast of The Three Doctors sitcom spin-off pose for the cameras...|
1. The Time Lords were first name-checked in the Radio Times six weeks before Episode 9 of The War Games.
2. And Gallifrey was named in TV Comic a whole five months before Episode 3 of The Time Warrior.
3. The Cybermen were supposed to have the Ogrons' role in Frontier In Space.
4. I always thought the Walls Sky-Ray Doctor was a poorly drawn Troughton, whereas it was supposed to be an entirely new Doctor (Troughton not giving permission for his likeness to be used).
5. That Julian Glover as King Richard wore the same tunic that Mark Eden had worn as Marco Polo.
The latter three are from "The Vault" book, which I finally got round to reading, the first two from this week's Radio Times anniversary issue.
With the third and final day of the official Convention closing today, the celebrations come to an end. All of the TV and radio programming will be available for the next week on i-player, or is already out there on You Tube.
The two big highlights were The Day of the Doctor and An Adventure In Space And Time. I enjoyed them both. Lowlights were the BBC3 items - which tended to trivialise with their use of third rate comedians. I gave up on the "Afterparty" as soon as One Direction were announced - switching to the "Behind the Lens" feature on the Red Button service. Also on the Red Button was "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot" - another highlight of the week. So 5, 6 and 7 did make it into the special after all - if only covered in dust sheets.
Matthew Sweet's Culture Show Special was also well worth watching.
Of the CBBC stuff, 12 Again was my favourite, as mentioned yesterday. This involved interviews with Louise Jameson, Sylvester McCoy, Warwick Davis, John Culshaw, Dan Starkey, Neve Mcintosh, Tommy Knight, and the annoying CBBC presenter who also does the DWM Time Team feature - all giving their memories of watching Doctor Who when aged 12. For some it was Hartnell, others Tom Baker, and for young Tommy Chris Eccleston.
A couple of snippets of news from the Convention - Series 8 commences filming in January, and the contents of Room 11 (from The God Complex) are going to be revealed - presumably in the Christmas Special. Colin Baker is still banging on about not getting into DOTD properly in an interview today - his nose out of joint that his namesake got to appear. Sorry Colin, but Tom is, and always will be, a hundred times more popular than you and you will always be propping up the bottom of the polls. Stick to BF.
Last night, straight after DOTD, we got our first teaser trailer for the Christmas story. Bells tolling, Trenzalore, Daleks, Cybermen, Silents and Weeping Angels. Silence Will Fall.
Lastly, with the anniversary out of the way, and before things start to build up towards that Christmas Special, I am taking a little break. I'll be back next Sunday, ready to start musing on the next 50 years of Doctor Who...
Let's get the obvious thing out of the way first. Coal Hill School has moved location at some point in the last 50 years. Either that or Ian and Barbara were extremely lazy - taking the car just to go round the corner. No wonder Susan had no problem with walking home, even on the foggiest of nights.
In 2013, Ian Chesterton is Chairman of the Board of Governors at the school, so he probably knows the new teacher, Clara Oswald.
The opening of The Day of the Doctor wasn't what I expected. First of all, we had the Hartnell opening titles - and no 2013 ones. This story's titles were simply played over the footage of the TARDIS being brought by helicopter to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery. A couple of nice gags early on - my favourite being that the Tower of London ravens are battery operated. High visibility UNIT operations are put down to Derren Brown. We don't see him, but Malcolm is still scientific adviser.
We have two stories going on. One in the present day involving an invasion attempt by the Zygons - invading the present from the Elizabethan past via some paintings. This all proves to be a bit of a McGuffin of sorts - giving the Three Doctors the means by which they can change the course of events of the Last Great Time War, and therefore their own lives. It's the moment of the Moment that the story is really about. We all thought Billie was back as companion Rose, but she's really the device's interface with its user. It has selected an image from his future (Bad Wolf Rose) to reason with him. The Moment is a sentient device, hidden in the Omega Archives on Gallifrey, and stolen by the War Doctor. It basically makes you think about the consequences of using it.
The true nature of Billie's role is one of the big surprises. There are two others which should have got everyone dancing round the room - the appearance of the "Thirteenth" Doctor, and the Curator. Quite who the latter was we don't know. He implies he is an older Fourth Doctor but equally says things which contradict this.
Quite what the numbering of Doctors actually is, I am a bit lost. We were told beforehand that this wouldn't affect the present numbering, but Hurt was quickly added to the Doctor profiles image, and he clearly comes between McGann and Eccleston. We saw both regenerations - between this and The Night of the Doctor. Having now not used the Moment, he is also entitled to the name of Doctor.
The interplay between the Three Doctors very much reminded me of that particular 1972 / 3 story. Hurt took the Hartnell role (the exasperated "older" man who is not wholly impressed by his successors) whilst Tennant & Smith indulged in some Troughton / Pertwee friendly rivalry (even reusing the TARDIS redecoration joke).
Nice to see Moffat being a little self-deprecating ("timey-wimey" sounding childish etc). The increased amount of snogging in the new series was also referenced, but the War Doctor should have known about this - his immediate predecessor having started this (unwelcome) tradition.
That "game changing" phrase was bandied about prior to transmission, and I suppose this actually applies for once. The Time War arc has been wrapped up for now - Gallifrey frozen in time and deposited in a pocket Universe somewhere. The Doctor has had the burden of guilt lifted from him, and now has a new goal in life - to finally go home. Unfortunately, we might have to wait another 50 years to see the homecoming.
Bottom line: did I enjoy it? Yes I did. Was it perfect? No. I do think that casual viewers would have been confused. There were quite a lot of continuity references to plough through. I would personally have preferred it to have concentrated on a single story-line.
Was it a celebration of 50 years of Doctor Who? Partly. There were plenty of nods to the past - from the photographs of the old companions, Tom and the Zygons, props in the UNIT Black Archive, Hurt's TARDIS design, the events of The Three Doctors having a UNIT file code-named "Cromer"... We were also left with that wonderful image of all 12 Doctors standing together.
In a way, however, The Day of the Doctor was much more the End of Part One for "Nu-Who".
You're probably wondering what a picture from Marco Polo is doing, heading this post. Where's the review of The Day of the Doctor? Tomorrow. I'm still cogitating. Am I going to say I liked it? Yes, I did.
I also loved the brilliant The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Hilarious. It was on the BBC Red Button service. I sincerely hope everyone gets a chance to see it. To have roped in so much talent - including Sir Ian McKellen and Peter Jackson - was amazing.
The BBC3 "Afterparty" was so-so. Of the items on CBBC, 12 Again was very good and certainly worth watching on their i-player service. Blue Peter had the second of two Doctor Who specials this morning (the previous one was on Thursday 21st). They have the Series 8 design a sonic device competition, and over the last couple of days had a design a new monster comp (not to be featured in the series).
The reason for the Marco Polo picture? You may recall the same people who accurately predicted (i.e. knew about) the return of The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear also stated that this had been found. This morning, two UK newspapers (Daily Mail & The Mirror) both had stories today saying that all seven episodes of Marco Polo have been recovered in an unusual way. One which does cause a certain degree of uncertainty as to the truth of it all. The story goes that the episodes are silent cine-recordings, made by a fan directly off his TV screen in 1964. These are going to be coupled with the existing soundtracks. The big suspicion is, obviously, why has it taken so long for this person to have come forward? (Had they mentioned it in 2006, Blue Peter would have given them a life-size Dalek as a prize).
In a few day's time, the "Missing Believed Wiped" event has promised an episode of Doctor Who. One of the already released Nigerian finds seems a bit unlikely to me, so maybe there might just be some truth in these news stories.
Friday, 22 November 2013
The Name of the Doctor.
Significant mostly for the appearance of the unknown Doctor in the closing seconds.
Also for that opening scene featuring the Doctor and Susan stealing the TARDIS from a workshop on Gallifrey.
The mystery of Clara is explained - and we get to see her encounter all of the Doctors.
The Doctor's final resting place is shown. Perhaps.
Old friends and a very old enemy meet up on Trenzalore.
With a day still to go until the screening of The Day of the Doctor, at the time of writing, we already know quite a bit about the mysterious Doctor. He's the "War Doctor" - born on Karn to take part in the Last Great Time War after the Eighth Doctor had long evaded it. He will go on to do something which is shameful enough for him to be suppressed. He doesn't deserve the title of Doctor. I think we can all guess what that something was - if you take a Moment to think about it.
Clara enters the Doctor's time-stream and interacts with the Doctors - sometimes in known adventures and sometimes those unseen. With the First Doctor, she nudges him towards a particular TARDIS, one with a wonky navigation system. Susan is with him, and he appears exactly as he was first seen in Totters Lane.
This sequence does seem to contradict what is said in The Doctor's Wife - but then again she may simply be pointing to the TARDIS that wants to "steal" the Doctor anyway.
Does Clara's intervention change the Doctor's time-stream, or was she there during all those adventures all along?
The Paternoster Gang are back. Jenny is the latest character to be killed and then be brought back to life - something Moffat does with tedious regularity.
We perhaps thought we might have seen the last of River Song for a while, after the departure of the Ponds. Here, we get a post Library non-corporeal version - though the Doctor still manages to snog her.
Was the Great Intelligence brought back just to be killed off, before we get to see new versions of the Yeti? I hope not.
It is unlikely that what we are seeing on Trenzalore really is the Doctor's final resting place. Clara only sees 11 incarnations (prior to the War Doctor) in his time-stream, and the TARDIS is clearly the current version. Seems this is only one possible final resting place.
So there you go. My 50 landmark Doctor Who stories. Not the best 50. Not my favourite 50. I said at the outset that they would be stories which have been significant in the great scheme of things - that have developed the story of the Doctor and hence of the programme over the last half century. Here's to the next 50 landmarks. I sincerely hope that The Day of the Doctor will be No.51...
Best not to read until you've seen it yourself.
If that didn't move you, you've got the heart of a Weeping Angel. Often funny, full of little nods to the series' history, increasingly tragic, but ultimately uplifting. I've been looking forward to Mark Gatiss' An Adventure In Space And Time probably more than Saturday's anniversary episode - and I wasn't disappointed. The Day of the Doctor is sure to be epic, funny, sharply written - but will it really come close to the emotional impact of this?
AAISAT begins at the end - with Hartnell (a quite exceptional performance from David Bradley) stopped in his tracks by the sight of a Police Box on Barnes Common, one evening in 1966. Our first visual reference to the series is that Box, with a Policeman in the fog. Hartnell has just discovered that he is going to replaced in the role of the Doctor, a role he has created and made his own. He's shell-shocked. After a disappointing career, he is now loved by millions - especially children. Now it's all being taken away from him.
We won't see the decline until the final third of the programme. Before that, we watch as Sydney Newman, Verity Lambert and Waris Hussein pull Doctor Who together, fighting against the BBC stuff-shirts.
Now, this is a drama-documentary. Gatiss forewarned us that certain characters (such as Donald Wilson) would not appear, and certain events would be compressed in time. We see the creation of the titles, music and sound effects simply as little cutaways as Hussein and Lambert wine and dine Hartnell in an attempt to win him over. To have attempted to show the whole creation in all its minutiae would have damaged the drama. It is the story of Hartnell's time as the Doctor that is key, and the programme wisely sticks to that.
I loved the way that Hartnell came to own the TARDIS - knowing exactly how it ought to operate and what every switch did. He insisted that the kids would notice if he got it wrong.
The TARDIS Yearometer records the passage of time - as does the neat idea of showing the press introductions for later companions - held outside TV Centre. As first Vicki, then Steven and Dodo, then Ben and Polly are introduced, Hartnell's face tells it all.
The recreations of TV studios - and glimpses of classic episodes - are a delight. We see Hartnell prepare for his final scenes - with a smoking Cyberman named Reg (Whitehead, of course) in attendance. The TARDIS control room, Totter's Lane junkyard, Kublai Khan's palace, Revolutionary Paris, Daleks in their city and on Westminster Bridge, and the planet Vortis are all faithfully recreated, with suitable props and costumes. The dialogue is full of well known phrases from interviews and from the programme itself.
One scene in particular stands out - where the current version of the series is nicely referenced. Hartnell has returned home and is telling wife Heather that he is leaving the show. He leans against the fireplace. Bathed in the glow of the flames - illuminated like a regeneration - he says "I don't want to go". It's the end of Ten.
William Russell cameos as a jobsworth BBC Commissionaire, Carole Ann Forrd as a mum calling her kid in off the street to watch the Daleks on TV. Present at Verity Lambert's leaving party are Jean Marsh and Anneke Wills. Toby Hadoke (he of the "Moths Ate My Dr Who Scarf" show, and countless DVD commentaries) is the barman of the BBC bar, and Nick Briggs gets to portray his hero - Peter Hawkins.
I'm sure there will be a lot of comment about the ending - especially the scene where old meets new, which I'm not going to elaborate upon as it is a spoiler of sorts. Personally, I thought it was wonderful and brought yet another lump to the throat. It was lovely to see the real man himself in the closing moments as well.
The other day I commented on Hartnell only coming second from bottom in the Radio Times poll. I was gob-smacked. Hopefully, people will reappraise him after watching this. If you can't appreciate his contribution after this, and I meet you in the street, I will happily kick you up the arse. You'll deserve it.
Wednesday, 20 November 2013
Tuesday, 19 November 2013
A Good Man Goes To War.
The River Song mystery finally explained - and the news makes for a big impact on current companions Amy & Rory.
The introduction of what will become the Paternoster Gang - Madam Vastra, Strax and Jenny Flint.
Certain characters from earlier in the series (and the previous one) return.
Exposition about Kovarian and the Silence (though most will come in the following episode, which forms a sort of Part 2 to this).
One of the best pre-titles sequences ever.
Companions can't just be people who want to travel with the Doctor for a bit, as they were for many years. Nowadays they have to want to meet their dead dads whilst falling in love with the Doctor before being trapped in an alternative universe then nabbing their own personal version of him. Or exist in multiple versions across the Doctor's whole time-line. That sort of thing.
River Song turns out to be the child of Amy and Rory, conceived aboard the TARDIS and somehow imbued with Time Lord capabilities (like being able to regenerate). Poor Amy, wants to have sex with the Doctor on the eve of her wedding (even poorer Rory!). Gets married. Gets abducted. Only finds out she's pregnant just as she goes into labour. Has baby stolen and then meets her 15 minutes later as a mature woman whom she's already met and knows also has the hots for the Doctor.
Oh for someone who just wants to travel and see the Universe again...
The Paternoster Gang are certainly popular - especially comic Sontaran Strax. Mr Moffat continues his tendency to actively ignore his predecessor's era - so no Captain Jack or Mickey & Martha when he's looking for a team to rescue Amy. This still jars with me. (Actually, Ood Sigma was due to appear, but he got cut - RTD still gets a credit for creating the Ood in the end credits).
I still say the Gang should get a CBBC spin-off series. Had the Sarah Jane Adventures continued, one of the characters would have been gay (Luke was due to come out). Let's have Vastra and her wife instead.
The space-flying Spitfires from Series 5 appear, and Captain Avery and his son reappear from earlier this series.
As for that pre-titles sequence on the Cybership. You might think there are loads better, but this particular Rory fan still rates it highly.
Monday, 18 November 2013
Earlier today, the Countess of Wessex (whose husband JNT had unsuccessfully tried to recruit for Silver Nemesis) hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace to mark the 50th Anniversary. Present and past TARDIS incumbents were in attendance.
A lot of new photos released from The Day of the Doctor - mostly from scenes already seen, and nothing spoilery.
This morning's BBC Breakfast News had a video set report, which did feature some new clips and interviews. It's on the BBC news website, as well as on You Tube (surprise, surprise).
BBC3 showed the 2 hour "Ultimate Guide". I was pleasantly surprised with this. Not as bad as most clip shows. A heavy emphasis on post 2005, of course, but each Doctor did get their mention. Some annoyingly unfunny "guests" un-associated with the programme. All quite unnecessary as there were enough relevant participants. Some glaring omissions - such as no Ian or Jamie when they were looking at the male companions. Katy Manning was the earliest person interviewed - so no William Russell or Carole Ann Ford from the very beginning. This will be on i-player, but also gets a repeat on Friday evening on Three.
Lastly, if you are a fan of Matt Berry, you will have seen a Tom Baker era Doctor Who piece during last night's Toast of London. That'll be on 4OD.
Sunday, 17 November 2013
And what a momentous week it was - especially with that wholly unexpected appearance by Eight in The Night of The Doctor. Not just him but the Sisterhood of Karn as well. If McGann couldn't be in the Special itself, this was the next best thing. In some ways it was a return just to die - so a bit of a shame. In other ways, it was good as at least he gets an ending.
I have been thinking about the other extra we have been promised - The Last Day - which is due to feature on the DVD release of the anniversary tale. Who's last day? Maybe the War Doctor's? I know that Christopher Eccleston has ruled himself out of any of these proceedings, but might his image be used in the same way footage of the younger John Hurt was employed in the prequel clip? Or it might refer to Smith's impending last day, and act as a prelude to his regeneration.
Lots of new images released for both The Day of the Doctor and An Adventure In Space And Time. The former had its Children in Need clip shown on Friday evening, and the latter finally got a trailer. Very little new information, though. The CiN clip informs us that figures have broken out of paintings in the National Gallery, and we see what appears to be the first meeting between 10 & 11.
Thursday's DWM gave one other little snippet of information - namely that UNIT has been infiltrated by Zygon duplicates. I read a bit of speculation the other day that suggests Rose and Clara also get duplicated at some point.
Whilst in the shops buying the latest DWM I was pleased to come across the third and final DWM "Magazook" - covering the Doctors. Haven't had a chance to read it yet but the most interesting features look like they'll be the Anniversary stories that never were - Deathworld, The Six Doctors and The Dark Dimension.
As for what has been on the box so far, I have already given my thoughts on The Science of Doctor Who. I watched about three minutes of BBC3's weekend of top ten monsters then gave up. If you own the DVD's then it makes for quite redundant programming.
And so to the coming week. After all the anticipation, it had better be an excellent one. Lots of stuff on the radio, including some BF and Audiogo items on Radio 4Xtra. There's the two hour "Ultimate Guide" on BBC 3 tomorrow night - though that might just be the ultimate clips show... Tuesday sees the so-called Radio Times Anniversary edition - really just an ordinary issue with a few extra pages devoted to Who and 12 covers to collect. Sadly no proper RT Special. Thursday night has the long anticipated AAISAT followed by a screening of An Unearthly Child. The official convention commences on Friday, and that evening we have the Culture Show special on BBC2. And then on Saturday it will be The Day of the Doctor, followed by a BBC3 "after party".
Saturday, 16 November 2013
The Doctor / Companion poll on the Radio Times website makes for interesting reading. Some wholly expected placings, but also some rather bizarre ones. David Tennant is favourite Doctor. This is a surprise, as current incumbents often seem to win polls. Youngsters in particular always think the current companion / Doctor is the best. Smith comes second. Troughton and Tom Baker are the only classic Doctors in the top 5. Poor Colin Baker brings up the rear. I was quite shocked to see Hartnell second from bottom. Hopefully the anniversary programming will illustrate just how wrong that is.
Rose topped the companions poll. Sarah Jane Smith came second. Clara could only manage number 9. Quite how anyone could think Kamelion made for a better companion than either Victoria or Zoe beggars belief. The Troughton ladies each scored 0%.
Of course, you could run a poll on the same website 6 months later and get quite different results (though this is the second time this year that Smith has lost out to Tennant). Personally, I think present incumbents should be excluded from such polls. After all, we haven't seen their entire oeuvre yet. We can only judge how good a Doctor really is, in comparison with others, after seeing their complete performance from beginning to end.
The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang.
Unlike previous series finales which had tied up their story arcs, this one seems to leave more questions than answers. The main thing we are still waiting for is: who is behind it all? This we should finally know on 25th December 2013.
It is the first episode which is most significant, with elements from earlier in the series reappearing to bring the Doctor into the story. Van Gogh paints the exploding TARDIS. The picture is found in WWII and Churchill rings the Doctor. The call is diverted to the Stormcage facility and to River Song. She goes to Starship UK to steal the painting from the Royal Collection - only to be given it by Liz 10.
The Doctor and his companions gather at Stonehenge where they encounter the Pandorica Alliance - so we see Daleks, Cybermen, Silurians and Sontarans united against them. Other races are name-checked - Drahvins, Draconians, Zygons and Chelonians (from the books). Other less likely races feature - just because the costumes were available (Hoix, Uvodni, Weevils, Roboforms). Amongst the assembled spaceships we clearly see Invasion-style Cyberships.
Rory makes his first proper return from the grave (the deaths in Amy's Choice not being real). He was shot dead by Silurian Restac then erased from time by the crack. Here, he's actually an Auton replica. When the Universe is reset, he comes back as flesh and blood - and it isn't entirely clear how he can still have memories of his plastic existence.
The second episode is mostly clever-dick timey-wimey stuff. Worth watching for Matt Smith's "drunken giraffe" dancing, though.
Friday, 15 November 2013
A very quick round-up of some of the character portraits from The Day of the Doctor, plus that amazing Night of the Doctor video, and - finally - the An Adventure in Space and Time trailer.
And we finally get to see, with only a week to go, the trailer for An Adventure In Space And Time...
After all, that's where this all started...
The "Never Mind The Buzzcocks" (featuring David Tennant, Catherine Tate & Bernard Cribbins) Repeat - Musings thereof...
As a youngster, I used to love the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. Mind you, in my day, it was Michael Faraday - on 405-line telly. I actually saw him singe those notes with that candle, and was one of the first to post the clip on Ye Olde You Tube. The lectures didn't do much for me, academically. I successfully failed both Chemistry and Physics at school.
It was therefore with a certain degree of trepidation that I watched Prof. Foxy Coxy's Who-related science lecture on BBC2 tonight.
A celebrity audience (including Mr Moffat) and name-checking of Einstein, Maxwell, Davy. Frequent interruptions from the Doctor. A Silent gag. That's a gag featuring a Silent - not one without any words.
By the end of it, I can now say I fully understand the science behind time travel, know the probability of life on exo-planets, and know what Charles Dance was getting up to back in the 1960's.
I now also know that I am a time traveller. Usually at a rate of one hour per hour, but capable of travelling at a half hour per hour on Friday afternoons and during most team meetings...
The one thing I didn't understand, however, was why on Earth this was shown at 9 o'clock at night. The closing moments were all about how this sort of thing could inspire youngsters. So I sincerely hope this gets a proper screening for that particular audience.
Thursday, 14 November 2013
Usually, prequels and pre-transmission minisodes are rather inconsequential little things. Not so The Night of the Doctor. Six and a bit minutes of incredibly significant material. The return of Paul McGann at long, long last - only to meet his fate. We hoped he would be in the Special, and the idea that he might be seen regenerating into the Hurt Doctor was high on our wishlist. And here it happens. It all takes place on Karn (last seen on TV in The Brain of Morbius) and the Sisterhood are present with their Elixir of Life. Leader Ohila has a range of flavours to choose from - fat, thin, young, old. Who'd have thought it? Eight chooses "Warrior" flavour (tutti-frutti obviously not being much in demand during the Last Great Time War).
For BF fans, the companions are mentioned. (And if you're not a BF fan, he might well be referring to unseen travels with Charlie Chaplin and Molly Sugden perhaps).
We learn that the Eighth Doctor has been avoiding the Time War rather than fighting in it. Events here force him to take part. The War Doctor is not born as a grizzled old man. Rather, it appears that the Hurt Doctor goes on to live a long and eventful life in the War.
If there is one slight misgiving about this, it does mean that future writers of books and audios are denied an epic finale for the Eighth Doctor. They can't have him fight to the death in the Time War (or anywhere else). He meets his end on Karn...
Wednesday, 13 November 2013
AKA The calm before the storm. The next 10 days sees a plethora of Doctor Who 50th Anniversary items appearing across different BBC platforms. There are a few publications to look forward as well. I've just pre-ordered from Amazon the Mirror newspaper's photographic archive book (84 pages of rare pictures, very reasonably priced at £4.99). Today saw the latest issue of SFX hit the shops, which has features on both An Adventure In Space And Time and The Day of the Doctor (a joint interview with Smith & Tennant). Both articles feature new photographs, according to the previews on the SFX website.
Tomorrow sees the latest DWM, with its extended page count, art cards and 1960's style mini-mag.
The BBC TV celebrations kick off with Prof. Brian Cox's Science of Doctor Who lecture at 9pm on Thursday night. This is followed on BBC2 by a repeat of the Tennant-fronted epition of Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Friday then sees the start of three night's worth of Greatest Monsters & Villains Weekend - a top ten countdown as voted by the public on the official website - on BBC3. The presenter is that most dreaded of things - a comedian whom I have never heard of. (I had assumed this might just be a clips show but it did state in the RT last week that full episodes would be shown featuring each of the monsters / villains).
Radio 2 also features a programme of time-travel related music (such as themes from other sci-fi shows).
Friday night is also Children in Need night (do give generously and don't just watch for the DOTD preview clip).
BBC3's clips show proper is on Monday night.
Thursday obviously brings us the screening of AAISAT, which is immediately followed on BBC4 by a showing of the first ever story. Unfortunately this latter clashes with the extensive Russell Tovey narrated documentary on Radio 2.
Friday 22nd sees the Culture Show Special. Over the course of the week, various people will be turning up on chat shows and news programmes, and this is where we will get to see new clips from both AAISAT and DOTD.
I was disappointed that the Radio Times did not feature AAISAT on the cover (as had been implied by the preview section of the previous week). The latest issue does sport a cover featuring Professor Yana dancing with Florence the Plasmavore (sort of). Next Tuesday's issue does promise full-on Doctor Who coverage, though sadly there is no specific RT Anniversary Special (mind you, they were still trying to sell the so-called "exclusive" Companions Special until quite recently - first available 2 years ago).
Am very pleased to hear that the screening of AAISAT went down so well, with excellent reviews. I am also loving these new photographs featuring the Menoptra. I always thought they were yellow and black, for some reason. (Sad to hear that no Zarbi appear, as the budget didn't run to them).
Monday, 11 November 2013
I'm sure the eagle-eyed amongst you will have already pored over every image from the new trailers. I just took a closer look at this particular one. In the background, on the right, you'll see a lot of photographs. There's Ace with Brigadier Bambera, Mel and Kamelion (now who thought he would feature in the anniversary special?). Above Kamelion it looks like Colonel Mace and Private Jenkins from The Sontaran Stratagem / Poison Sky. Seems there will be a lot of little nods to the past to look out for.
The Eleventh Hour.
Not just a new Doctor, but a lot more as well.
The Steven Moffat era begins.
New TARDIS - inside and out.
New titles and music.
The beginning of a story arc that's not quite finished yet...
Unless you count those occasions when the programme was off the air and then brought back, there was usually some sort of bridge between Doctors. This was generally down to the presence of the companion(s). Ben & Polly were there to welcome in Troughton, the Brigadier was there for Pertwee, Sarah with Tom Baker, a whole trio of companions with Davison, Peri with Colin Baker, and Mel with McCoy. Rose helped the audience accept Tennant. Moffat dispenses with everyone from the previous era and introduces the Doctor (and us) to Amy Pond. We also get to meet Rory Williams, Amy's fiancé, whose role will become more significant as the series develops.
The TARDIS was wrecked during the recent regeneration, and it refurbishes itself (even locking the Doctor out whilst it does so). Gone is the organic, coral theme, and in comes copper and bronze. It also changes its external appearance - Moffat having a liking for the Peter Cushing movie version.
The ship also throws in a new Sonic Screwdriver (much to the delight of merchandise licencees).
The new titles took me some time to get used to. The visuals were fine, but the arrangement of the music seemed a bit weak.
One thing that isn't new is one of those rare appearances by an actor who had previously appeared in the classic series - The Dominators' Arthur Cox. (Nick "Aggedor" Hobbs will feature later in Series 5).
As for the story arc, Moffat has promised us that some of those loose ends will be tied up come 25th December 2013. (My money's still on Omega...).
Saturday, 9 November 2013
The accumulator has been updated with the trailer and the National Gallery teaser - plus those behind the scenes pictures, which have prompted a little theory in my mind. If you want a really good laugh, take a look at some of the theories that are currently doing the rounds on other blogs and websites. Convoluted nonsense based on obscure continuity points for the most part.
And here's the longer second TV trailer...
The trailer has already been released, and it certainly looks impressive. Today's Telegraph newspaper also had some behind the scenes pictures featuring what might well be "The Moment"? (These scans courtesy of blogtorwho).
And the trailer itself:
Thursday, 7 November 2013
Three new images released today for The Day of the Doctor, along with a number of brief interviews. (The fourth image was just an expanded version of one we've already seen). These add nothing other than that the Tenth Doctor and Queen Elizabeth get a bit romantic.
An Adventure In Space And Time will be getting a DVD release on the same day as DOTD (2nd December). No Blu-ray announced for this, however. The extras look very interesting - with some of the recreated scenes and a making of documentary narrated by Carole Ann Ford. There will be a reversible cover - utilising both of the retro-style images released last week.
AAISAT will be get the Radio Times cover next Tuesday. As the RT runs Saturday to Friday, it means that DOTD should get the following week's cover. No news of any RT Anniversary Special as yet.
According to the current RT, BBC3's weekend of celebrations actually clashes with the DW element of Children In Need next Friday (15th).
Yesterday's Celebrity Antiques Road Trip featured two Series 3 guest artists - Anne Reid and Thelma Barlow, and their involvement in the programme was mentioned. Remember that tomorrow's edition (Friday 8th) features Colin Baker and Peter Purves.
A trailer for Brian Cox's DW-themed lecture has been released. DOTD finally gets its own trailer as of this coming Saturday (9th) just before Atlantis (which is still rubbish).
Finally, Strax has issued another one of his Field Reports - this time covering the Zygons. The stuff about my native Scotland is quite funny. It's on the official website as well as You Tube.
The End of Time Parts 1 & 2.
The end of the Tenth Doctor.
The return of the Master, and of the Time Lords.
The last appearance of the "Children of Time" and some other Tennant characters.
Our only glimpse (to date) into the Time War.
The RTD era comes to a close.
Matt Smith makes his first appearance - ushering in the Moffat era.
David Tennant had the option of staying on for a further season under Steven Moffat, but chose to bow out with Russell. Before he leaves us, he gets to have a tour of some of his old companions - including seeing Rose before she had first met his Ninth incarnation. Martha has left UNIT and married Mickey, and they have set themselves up as a freelance alien fighting outfit. Donna finally makes it up the aisle. There's closure of sorts for his relationship with Joan Redfern, as her descendant publishes her book. Captain Jack gets set up on a date with Midshipman Frame.
Wilf becomes the full companion for this story - and proves to be the one who will knock four times.
Tragically, this marks Lis Sladen's final appearance in Doctor Who.
Rassilon and the Time Lords appear, in a ruined Capitol littered with crashed Dalek saucers. The War has corrupted them completely, so it is not a joyous occasion for the Doctor to see Gallifrey live again.
As a story it is a bit bonkers. Instead of enslaving everyone on Earth, the Master becomes all of them. The manner of his resurrection is, quite frankly, stupid. His madness is fully explained at last.
When last seen, the Master is dragged back into the Time War with the rest of Gallifrey. Have we seen the last of him? I very much doubt it.
Sadly, Moffat will throw the baby out with the bathwater, seemingly determined not to use any of the RTD characters - even Jack. He'll make changes across the board - some successful, others less so.
Monday, 4 November 2013
I've updated this with the official synopsis. I've had a look at what was going on in 1562, courtesy of Peter Ackroyd's The Tudors (Volume 2 of his History of England - Macmillan 2012). In the autumn of that year, Elizabeth fell seriously ill - she had contracted smallpox. A failed incursion by the English in France - to take Le Havre as a prelude to regaining Calais - resulted only in scores of soldiers bringing the plague home with them. The Queen's illness might actually be down to some alien (Zygon) intervention.
Also in the news today is confirmation of the UK broadcast for An Adventure In Space And Time. It's 9pm on Thursday 21st November. As previously mentioned, the US broadcast is on the evening of Friday 22nd. As this will be the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination, there is a concern that it will not get very good ratings in the States, as I imagine the big networks will be marking that event? Perhaps BBCA know they just can't compete and so are simply offering an alternative.
Sunday, 3 November 2013
The Stolen Earth / Journey's End.
The return of Davros.
A new Dalek Supreme.
The end of the Cult of Skaro.
The Children of Time.
The "death" of Donna.
The short-lived return of Harriet Jones.
Torchwood & Sarah Jane Adventures crossover.
So much of significance going on in this story, which marked the close of Series 4 - David Tennant's last full season.
Kudos to RTD for not bringing Davros back sooner. That would have been an easy - and lazy - thing to do. Dalek marked the first Dalek story not to feature their creator since Death to the Daleks in 1974. Russell made the Daleks strong in their own right once more - not emasculated heavies. In that 2005 story he was referred to but not actually named. There were a couple of "false alarms" regarding Davros' return - knowing the Daleks were involved in the first series finale, a lot of people thought he would turn out to be Bad Wolf. He was also thought by many to be lurking inside the Genesis Ark (RTD deliberately toyed with us - the shape and the name) .
One of my favourite behind-the-scenes Doctor Who moments is Tennant seeing Julian Bleach in costume for the very first time. In one of the Confidentials for these episodes, there is also the lovely reactions from Lis Sladen and John Barrowman as they watch Bleach relax between takes.
Personally, I prefer my Dalek Supremes black and not gaudy red & gold - but they had already used that colour scheme for Dalek Sec. The Cult of Skaro could have had a longer innings. They are destroyed a bit too quickly - three of the four being killed in the rather underwhelming Manhattan story, two of them in a throwaway fashion.
The big selling point of this story after Davros is, of course, the grand reunion of companions. We've already seen Rose a few times this series, but now she is properly back from the alternative universe, her ex-boyfriend and mother in tow. Martha is shown still working for UNIT, and we get to see Francine again. Sarah Jane is naturally involved - and we see her son Luke, K9 Mark IV and computer Mr Smith. Companions Clyde and Rani are absent, but do get mentioned. Captain Jack is joined by Gwen and Ianto, and they refer to the recent demise of Owen and Tosh. When the Doctor and Rose see Gwen, they mention Eve Myles first appearance in Who - the ill-fated maid Gwyneth (The Unquiet Dead).
It's nice to see the three RTD shows firmly linked.
Also returning is Harriet Jones. I'm sure you know who she is. She refers to Mr Copper (Voyage of the Damned). The Doctor destroyed her career the last time we saw her, and here she makes a noble sacrifice.
Talking of noble sacrifices, Donna's ending is truly heartbreaking - more than if she had actually been killed. A lot of people don't like Donna, but you only need to look at this, & The Fires of Pompeii & Planet of the Ood & Forest of the Dead & Turn Left to see how wonderful she was.
And then there was that cliffhanger, which managed to slip past the spoilerphiles. It even made the news that week. We knew Tennant was leaving - but surely not so soon? Rose gets to have a Doctor all to herself - one that will grow old with her.
Friday, 1 November 2013
Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead.
Love her or loathe her, River Song enters the Doctor's life.
Love her or loathe her, River Song exits the Doctor's life.
Over the last three years, it sometimes feels as though the Doctor has been a guest in someone else's show - namely the enigmatic archaeologist Ms Song. When first seen in this, we know that she knows the Doctor from his future. She has a sonic screwdriver and a diary (with a TARDIS design) containing "spoilers".
She even knows his name.
Before we get to know anything else about her, she dies - sacrificing herself to save the Doctor - but her consciousness gets downloaded into the Library, so that she will continue to live on.
Whether Steven Moffat already had her great story arc planned out at this stage or not, who knows?
She'll go on to become an integral part of his tenure as show-runner - continuing to pop up even after her origins have been explained and her mother has left the series. I'll be very surprised if we've seen the last of her.