Sunday 31 March 2013

That Was The Week That Was 31.3.13

First of all, I hope you are all having a nice Easter.
The Bells of Saint John debuted last night on BBC1 and the overnight viewing figures are a healthy 6.18 million. It was the third most watched programme of the evening. It is already doing very well on i-player - so expect a huge increase when the consolidated figures are released in a week or so's time.

The biggest news of the week is obviously that David Tennant and Billie Piper are returning for the 50th Anniversary story. This was supposed to be a big exclusive for DWM - due in the shops on Thursday 4th April - but subscription copies went out early and the BBC were forced to issue a press release.
Everyone is assuming that this means the Tenth Doctor - but of course it might be Doctor 10.5 - the half human one from the alternative universe.

Matt Smith is now stating that he will be playing the Doctor in 2014. I wouldn't read too much into this as David Tennant played the Doctor into 2010. One day of 2010 that is, as he regenerated on January 1st.

Thursday saw the issue of 12 Doctor Who stamps to mark the 50th Anniversary.

Amazon customers who ordered the unintentionally hilarious "Doctor Who Character Encyclopedia"  received their copy yesterday. See my post of 30.3.13. On the same day I received the latest issue of SFX magazine - which contains a feature on Doctor Who in the 1970's.

Bad news of the week was the postponement of the much anticipated DVD release for The Terror of the Zygons. (Again, I have posted about this already). I sincerely hope the delay is in order to finalise a CGI Skarasen. I am still waiting to see what the make up of the "Regeneration Box Set" is.

Further bad news with the announcement that The Mill will no longer be contributing to Doctor Who. They are having to cut back to their core business of advertising, after losing out on a couple of contracts for new shows. A great shame. This is the second FX house connected to the programme to hit financial hard times this year.

Lastly, I would just like to say that this little blog of mine got a mention on the Guardian newspaper website through the week. Their TV blog was looking at The Mind Robber as part of their countdown of the top 50 Doctor Who stories and they were kind enough to refer readers here for my own review (posted back on 7th December).
Next week we have the new issue of DWM to look forward to, and the second episode of the second half of Series 7 - The Rings of Akhaten - and there is that e-book release on Thursday for "Summer Falls" by one Amelia Williams.
Remember that tomorrow is April Fools Day - so don't believe everything you read on other sites. No doubt every lost episode will have been found and everyone who appeared in the classic series will be joining the anniversary story...

Saturday 30 March 2013

The Bells of Saint John - initial musings...

As always - best not to read any further until after you have seen the episode yourself, though I've tried to avoid overt spoilers....

First of all, that title. One of the most tangential, irrelevant story titles we've ever come across. Significant only in that they bring the Doctor and Clara together. The woman in the shop who gave Clara the Doctor's number is obviously River Song, as we already know she features in the finale in which the mystery of Clara is revealed. Her mum was also referenced in the book we saw - "Summer Falls", written by Amelia Williams. (Apparently this is going to be released as an e-book by the BBC on 4th April).
The monks featured prominently in the Christmas trailer, but proved simply to be a bit of background as to what the Doctor has been up to since The Snowmen.
As it is an introduction to a new character, there is quite a bit of time expended in introducing the contemporary Clara and setting up the threat. The pre-credits sequence luckily gets the audience up to speed on what that threat is, thanks to someone basically telling us.
The villains rather stupidly give Clara IT knowledge, which she subsequently uses to track them down. This at least helps move the story along as we only have 45 minutes - and there is all that introductory stuff to squeeze in.

I wouldn't say it was the most original of stories. The people being absorbed, trapped in an electronic limbo, was reminiscent of the Wire in The Idiot's Lantern - which also featured the Doctor driving a bike out of the TARDIS. The revolving heads of the Spoonheads recalled the Smilers in The Beast Below. The TARDIS telephone ringing has been used once before as well - and by Moffat - in The Empty Child. There was also the use of the Spoonhead Doctor to infiltrate the enemy base - which made me think of the Tesselecta. There were shades of Matron Cofelia / Miss Foster in Miss Kizlet. And of course the alien intelligence had already tried to use the internet to attack mankind in the unofficial production Downtime.
The true enemy behind the scenes I might have guessed at - though I didn't need to bother due to it being leaked by the BBC themselves earlier in the week.
I loved the Earls Court joke - but does everyone know there is a real Police Box outside the underground station?
Also liked the way the BBC ident was incorporated into the start of the story - something I'm not sure anyone outside the UK will get to experience.

Overall, a good (half-) series opener - but not a great one. The actual substance of the plot is a bit thin and resolved all too quickly. We don't learn anything yet of who - or what - Clara is. I've said I thought the woman in the shop was River - but it could easily be someone like Madam Kovarian and Clara is some kind of a trap for the Doctor. Then again, that would just be River all over again.
What was the thing about the leaf? "It's not a leaf. It's the first page..." Didn't quite get that. Leaf as in leaf of a book?
I will give The Bells of Saint John another viewing tomorrow, and report back on any further musings in due course...

Comfortable trousers for watching TV...

No, I haven't taken leave of my senses (yet), but have instead taken delivery of the latest Doctor Who book from DK Publishing. The presence of one of the DWA team in the writing credits points to this being firmly aimed at a younger readership. All 11 Doctors, their companions, and around 200 allies and enemies get a page each of (apparently) essential information. Katarina features, but not Sara Kingdom. Jackie Tyler and Sylvia Noble get a page each - but not Francine Jones.
There is a large central image for each, plus one or two smaller photographs. The main images have little arrows pointing to key features. In the case of Craig Owens, his "cosy cardigan" and those trousers are his pertinent features. Rory's sole attribute is his "casual, scruffy jeans".
A Sea Devil handgun is bizarrely referred to as "Gun from their large stash". Characters' personalities are generally indicated by an arrow pointing to their head. However, Jackie Tyler's right leg is, apparently, a big fan of Cliff Richard, Jo's left arm is naturally enthusiastic, and Mickey Smith's stomach loves football.
Steven Taylor wears a "fitted jumper for ease of movement in spaceship". There are many more unintentional laughs to be had, as the editors struggle for something to say about the characters and fail to get past inane.
As I said, it is aimed at a younger audience, but I think it is demeaning to 5 year olds to point to horns and tell us these are "horns" - for all of the horned beings that are featured. And does anyone of any age really need to have it pointed out to them that Astrid's drinks tray is, well, a drinks tray?

Thursday 28 March 2013

The Bells of St John - the spoiler-free round-up

Sometimes a new story comes along which is nigh on impossible to work out regarding the general storyline. The images and clips are like a jigsaw where you've lost the box lid. Then there are stories which seem to be quite straightforward and, coupled with the BBC synopsis, you can get a good idea in advance what it is about - roughly. The Bells of Saint John seems to fit this latter type of story.
Naturally, we've no idea of hidden menaces or the resolution to the tale. This is what I've gathered so far about Saturday's episode - from a variety of sources. No spoilers, but a wee bit of speculation.

The Monks. Seen in a couple of clips in the Christmas trailer. We know they are from this story as DWA has a behind the scenes picture of them today; the Doctor is seen wearing a habit in a couple of clips; and there is a character called the Abbot in the Radio Times listings.
In one of the Christmas clips the monks are seen to have a painting of Clara. I am going to assume that the monks know something about her, and they point the Doctor towards finding her. (Update: Got this wrong for a start. It is the Doctor who has the painting and he is staying with them - in Cumbria, 1207 AD).

Clara. A child minder living in the suburbs. Despite having met him in a playground as a child, she thinks he's a madman (which of course he is - one with a box). The Doctor realises turning up on her doorstep dressed as a monk was a mistake - hence the clip of him changing in the TARDIS. He then camps out outside her house. Clara has a dad who has a lot to say about the government (then don't we all...). (Forget the living in the suburbs bit - the house belongs to the family she child-minds and isn't her's).

Miss Kizlet. Played by Celia Imrie. The villain of the piece - but not the main one. She is seen reporting to someone else - a male character. The London Shard seems to feature a lot in the publicity images - so might she be based there?

The threat. An alien intelligence (described as an ancient enemy) is stealing peoples' minds via Wi-Fi. Social networks get dissed. Whatever they're up to, the London riots were their responsibility. "Don't Click It" - referring to an alien symbol which appears on tablets, laptops, smart phones etc. If you do click on it, the alien(s) infiltrate your computer.
We're led to believe that it is a villain that has been seen before in the new series - but it isn't. (You're an Idiot if you can't work this one out...).( I'm referring to the Wire, of course, when I say you might think it is a recent enemy - hence "Idiot").

The Spoonheads. Robotic creatures who are conspicuous by their absence from the publicity. When the Motorbike / Shard image was released and we caught a glimpse of them, I suggested that there was the hint of a face. The unknown alien intelligence? (There were faces, but they are of the victims - not the baddie).

Overall, several previews have stated that this has the feel of a fast paced contemporary RTD season opener (Partners In Crime has been mentioned). It also has an equally high "Moffat / creepy" quotient.
There's a reference to one of the Williams - and UNIT get a look in. (Amelia's book - and the woman in the shop...?).
There's a running gag about a cup of tea. (Think about it...).
The Doctor has a mobile phone... (The TARDIS of course).
Doctor in Bond / Bourne mode.
An implausible stunt... (The anti-grav motorbike, obviously. I assumed from the publicity picture that the bike burst out of the Shard - not the other way round).

DWM 459 Cover

So the new Ice Warriors have three digits on each hand. Still would have preferred the classic series pincers. Next issue is due on Thursday 4th April and will cover the new stories The Rings of Akhaten to Journey to the Heart of the Tardis in the previews section.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

The Postponement of the Zygons

Amazon are now saying that The Terror of the Zygons DVD won't be released until September. This means that it has been pushed back due the mysterious "Regeneration Box-Set". You may have noticed a post I did a few days ago containing some concerns regarding this release.
I find it really annoying that, with only a handful of new releases left to them, classicdw are embarking on a fan rip-off exercise - no doubt using the 50th Anniversary to make a fast buck out of irrelevant re-releases.
(The Inferno SE has only one new extra of note - Toby Hadoke messing about with the now geriatric stunt team).
If the "Regeneration Box-Set" does include The Tenth Planet, and if there isn't a simultaneous stand-alone release for it, I will be very angry indeed.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

So just how did Strax survive Demons Run?

And, just why do exclusive American clips get released through Amazon and i-tunes, in this You Tube age?
Yes, I've just watched Demons Run - Two Days Later free in the UK. A very funny scene that really ought to have been a prequel to The Snowmen. Some people will not like this as it undermines the emotion of the story as screened, but they'll get over it. I shan't give the plot away - best track it down for yourselves.

Nightmare In Steel

The new Radio Times was released today - and it revealed that the story previously known as "The Last Cyberman" is actually going to be called Nightmare In Steel. The title for the finale is still being kept under wraps, but Moffat teases that there will be a major revelation about the Doctor - something we never knew and which will come as a shock. It is confirmed that Madam Vastra and Strax will be joining River Song in this story.
The front and back inside gate-fold covers open up to reveal a wonderful Monster poster. Strangely, Celia Imrie's Miss Kizlet is featured - but no Spoonheads. Apart from a cryptic glimpse in the motorbike / Shard image, they have been conspicuous by their absence from the publicity so far. The poster also confirms that the eyeless top hatted creatures are the Whispermen and are from the finale.
The goggle-eyed creatures are the Vigil, from The Rings of Akhaten, and the mummified creature in the glass case is, well, the Mummy. Another robotic red eyed being is also pictured from this story.
Delving into the text, there isn't a huge amount of new information. Apparently there is more to Cold War than an Ice Warrior on a nuclear submarine under the Arctic ice.
The Crimson Horror (title now confirmed) features the Paternoster Gang investigating on their own and coming across the Doctor accidentally. Nightmare In Silver has a particularly creepy idea from Neil Gaiman.

Sunday 24 March 2013

That Was The Week That Was 24.3.13

Let's get the negatives out of the way first.
Sometimes being newsworthy can be a curse. British newspapers have been printing various stories about Matt Smith leaving after the 2013 Christmas episode - and Steven Moffat is following him out of the TARDIS door. The Sun ran a poll for who should replace Smith, and Benedict Cumberpatch came top. Ladbrokes, on the other hand, have him at odds of only 6-1, with Rory Kinnear in the favourite position, followed by David Harewood.
Conspiracy theorists are claiming that Being Human's abrupt conclusion is a sign that Toby Whithouse is taking over from Moffat.
All this based entirely on rumour and supposition - as both Smith and Moffat have refused to comment on their involvement on the programme beyond the anniversary year.
More alarmingly, a chapter in the new JNT biography has been turned into a "news" story by another paper. I'm not going to go into it here, but SFX have a review which will tell you what it is all about.
Anyway, onto other things.

Entertainment Weekly offered a choice of 2 Doctor Who covers. There are some photographs of the new Cybermen contained within.
Matt Smith confirmed that the Doctor's bedroom won't be seen in Journey To The Heart Of The Tardis.
An unexpected guest star for The Bells of Saint John was revealed by the BBC this week - then hastily withdrawn... I expected the return of the character - but not necessarily the actor.
More photographs were released for the series opener, as well as a couple of clips and a trailer. Yesterday the prequel was revealed - in which the Doctor has his first (or is it the third?) meeting with Clara Oswald (though he does't realise it).
After reports that the 50th Anniversary story would start filming on Monday, it is now going to commence next month. John Barrowman confirmed on Twitter that he is not participating.
Something which Matt Smith has said suggests the story is episodic in nature - a single adventure made up of smaller elements.

Thursday saw the release of the latest DWM Special - featuring telesnaps from a number of missing Hartnell stories / episodes. There are some excellent photographs from the stories also, including a fine portrait of Julian Glover as King Richard. A Troughton edition is not a foregone conclusion, so do go buy this.

Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed Pointless Celebrities last night. Congratulations to the Mott-Noble partnership for not only winning the competition, but for securing the jackpot for their respective charities.
As for the week ahead, don't forget the Radio Times on Tuesday. And watch The Bells of Saint John at 6.15pm on Saturday of course.

Saturday 23 March 2013

Eleven Not Out...

A lot of stories suddenly doing the rounds that Matt Smith will be leaving the programme, regenerating at the end of the 2013 Christmas episode - all coming from the usual programme "insider". For all I know maybe he is. However, the story won't be filmed until after he has completed the movie he is due to make in the States after the Anniversary Special, and the Christmas story probably hasn't even been written yet - knowing the way that Mr Moffat works.
So not sure just what or who this "insider" might be.
All I'll say is: if it happens it happens, but for now this is just simply a rumour. Give it a few weeks and there will be a "time to rest the programme" scare as well no doubt.

Story 65 - The Three Doctors

In which the return to Earth of a research balloon in a bird sanctuary heralds a crisis for the Doctor and the Time Lords. Dr.Tyler is surprised to find the warden, Mr Ollis, gone. His X-Ray exposures of a Black Hole reveal a jagged streak of light emanating from it, so he goes to see UNIT. The Doctor discovers that this superlucent beam has scanned the Earth. The latest plate to be developed shows a man's features superimposed on it - and he deduces that this is Mr Ollis. Whilst the Doctor and Jo visit the bird sanctuary, Tyler vanishes from the UNIT lab and an energy being slips out of his equipment box and disappears down the plughole of the sink. On returning to the HQ, this creature emerges from a drain and causes "Bessie" to vanish. Soon Gel creatures start to appear all over the grounds and lay siege to the building. The Doctor and Jo take refuge with Sergeant Benton in the TARDIS. The Black Hole, meanwhile, has been identified as the source of a crippling energy drain on the Doctor's homeworld. In desperation, the Time Lords decide to remove the Second Doctor from his time-stream and send him to Earth to help the current incarnation. He materialises in the TARDIS, and the two Doctors telepathically update each other regarding events on Gallifrey and on Earth. When they proceed to argue over what to do next, the Time Lords send the First Doctor to assist. With power low, he can only advise over the TARDIS monitor.

The First Doctor suggests that the light beam represents a bridge - which one of them ought to cross. The Doctor elects to go, and Jo joins him at the last moment. Both vanish. The Brigadier manages to reach the lab - to be confronted by the Doctor looking as he first met him. At first he refuses to accept both Doctors can be present at the same time, and assumes that his Doctor has somehow changed back. They also take refuge in the TARDIS, and the First Doctor (confusing the Brigadier even further) advises they follow the Third. The Second Doctor turns off the ship's forcefield - and UNIT troops are amazed to see the entire HQ building disappear. The Doctor and Jo have found themselves in a barren wasteland, where they find "Bessie" and parts of the lab, as well as a bemused Dr. Tyler. They are captured by the Gel creatures and taken into an underground complex. Here, the Doctor meets the being responsible for everything that has happened - the Time Lord Omega.

Omega was the brilliant stellar engineer who created a supernova which provided the Time Lords with the power needed to master time travel in the first place. It had always been thought that he perished in the attempt, but he was actually thrown through a Black Hole to the Universe of Anti-Matter. Over the millennia, he created this world with the power of his mind. He has harnessed the energies of the Singularity to create at will, and has to wear metallic robes, helmet and gauntlets against the corrosive effects of its radiation. The Doctor tells him he is regarded as a great hero - but centuries of isolation have driven him mad and he is convinced he was abandoned, and so seeks revenge. He plans to leave this Universe and take over Gallifrey - but to do so he needs someone to take his place. This is why he deliberately sought out the Doctor. Benton and the Second Doctor are captured after the Brigadier goes to get help - thinking UNIT HQ has been transplanted to some other terrestrial location (probably Norfolk).

The two Doctors are reunited - Omega realising who they are. The Second Doctor notes that Omega's temperament affects these surroundings. The Brigadier joins forces with Mr Ollis and they plan an attack on the complex. The Doctor challenges Omega, and finds himself in a black void fighting a creature which represents the dark side of the Time Lord's mind. Losing, he is forced to agree to help him. The two Doctors help Omega remove his protective costume - only to discover that there is nothing physical left of him. Realising he can never escape this Universe, Omega loses control and the prisoners escape - reuniting with the Brigadier and Ollis. They return to UNIT HQ and the TARDIS. Here, it is found that the Second Doctor's recorder has become jammed inside the forcefield generator - and has not been converted into Anti-Matter. A plan is devised. The Doctors offer to travel by TARDIS to Omega's lair and give him his freedom - on the condition that everyone else is sent back to Earth. Once they have gone, they hand over the  forcefield generator. Omega throws it to the ground, and the recorder falls out. The Time Lords see the Black Hole turn into a supernova as the energy drain is halted. Omega has been destroyed. UNIT HQ returns to its rightful place - along with everyone else. The TARDIS arrives home soon after. The first two Doctors are returned to their correct time-streams, and the Time Lords give the Doctor a new dematerialisation circuit and unblock his memory of the complex time equations. His exile is at an end.

This four part adventure was written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin, and was broadcast between 30th December 1972 and 20th January 1973. It is the first story of the tenth season. Producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks had often been asked about the possibility of a story featuring all three Doctors - and both had smiled, said it was a nice idea, and they would maybe think about it. With the programme now about to celebrate a significant anniversary, they suddenly realised that it might not be such a bad idea after all.
Patrick Troughton was happy to return, enough time having elapsed since his departure and the worries of type-casting having proved totally unfounded. William Hartnell was contacted in person and also agreed, so the story was commissioned from the reliable Bristol Boys.
Things started to look bad, however, when Heather Hartnell contacted the production team and revealed the full extent of her husband's illness. They had caught him on one of his infrequent good days. He would not be able to contribute beyond a very limited appearance - and only then pre-filmed. His role was therefore cut right back and he became stuck in a time capsule - only able to advise over the TARDIS monitor. Despite this limited appearance, he does deliver one of the series' most famous lines - dismissing his replacements as "a dandy and a clown".

For a villain, the obvious choices of Daleks and Master were set aside - as they would be participating in an epic adventure of two connected six-parters later in the season. The production team also needed to facilitate an end to the Doctor's Earthbound exile. The previous season had only featured UNIT in two stories (the first and last) and even the contemporary Sea Devil story had used a surrogate military partnership for the Doctor. As the Time Lords needed to be included in some capacity, it was decided that the villain would be another "rogue" from that race - but this time a powerful one from their legends. Thus Omega was created - to be played by Azal actor Stephen Thorne.
There are only two other significant guest roles - Mr Ollis (Laurie Webb) and Dr. Tyler (Rex Robinson, in the first of three roles in the programme, all directed by Lennie Mayne).
Two of the three Time Lords with speaking roles have played Gallifreyans before (Graham Leaman in an almost identical role in Colony In Space, and Clyde Pollitt, who had officiated at the Second Doctor's trial).
I like to think they are the same Time Lords. Roy Purcell (the President) had previously been seen as the chief prison officer in The Mind of Evil.
It is lovely to see Hartnell again, and fitting that his last ever performance was as the Doctor. Due to his illness, he was furnished with his script on boards to read so he wouldn't have to memorise the lines. Script boards don't have anything to do with delivery, however. It is as if he has never been away.
The same can be said of Troughton, who slips seamlessly back into character and proves what an exceptional actor the man was. Pertwee was worried about being upstaged - with good cause. He was famously thrown by Troughton's rather cavalier attitude towards the scripted dialogue.

Regarding the UNIT regulars, it is surprising to note the absence of Richard Franklyn's Mike Yates. John Levene has a very good share of the action, but it is Nicholas Courtney who stands out - mainly thanks to a couple of famous humorous lines. Some people have a problem with the way that the Brigadier is used in this story - that humour undermining him and marking the beginning of the deterioration of the character. It's not an opinion I subscribe to.
Episode endings are:

  1. The Doctor exits the TARDIS to confront the Gel creatures, and Jo rushes out to join him. Both vanish...
  2. The Second Doctor turns off the TARDIS forcefield. UNIT troops see the Gel creatures disappear - followed by the entire HQ building. It is seen hurtling towards the Black Hole.
  3. In his fight with the personification of the dark side of Omega's mind, the Doctor finds himself losing the struggle...
  4. The Doctor's exile is at an end. Jo frets that he will now leave her - but he reassures her that won't be the case. Mr Ollis, meanwhile, has no stomach for explanations to his wife about where he has been.

Overall, a fantastic start for the anniversary season, with a memorable villain. Great to see Hartnell and especially Troughton again. I'm glad they kept to a tight four-parter, which fairly rattles along. Future producers should take note of how not to over-bloat an anniversary tale. Shame about the Gelguards...
Things you might like to know:

  • Troughton fought hard to have his companions Jamie and Zoe involved, but the idea was strenuously argued against by an insecure Jon Pertwee - who wanted it made clear that it was his programme now. Frazer Hines would have been unavailable anyway due to Emmerdale commitments.
  • Omega was originally going to be called Ohm - which looks like "Who" upside down and in reverse.
  • Despite having no physical existence, we do see Omega's (or rather Stephen Thorne's) hair and mouth at times.
  • Talking of his lack of substance, does this prove that Time Lords (like the British monarchy) never go to the toilet...
  • An early version of the story had the Time Lords enlist all three Doctors to fight an entity called Death, who had gathered a "Federation of Evil" (i.e. some classic monsters). It would have been called "Deathworld". This sounds closer to The Five Doctors of course.
  • There was a long-running myth that Hartnell's scenes had been filmed in his garage. They were actually filmed at the BBC's Ealing studios.
  • Another myth was that the images of the Second Doctor viewed by the Time Lords was a clip lifted either from The Macra Terror or The Krotons. It was specially filmed.  
  • We have a new TARDIS interior - the last one seen in The Time Monster having proved unpopular. It had also suffered badly in storage.
  • It is made quite specific in the Time Lord dialogue that there haven't been any other incarnations of the Doctor before Hartnell's version. They clearly state that his is the "earliest" incarnation. Makes you wonder what all the fuss was about when the final episode of The Brain of Morbius was shown.
  • Do see my earlier views on Season 6(b).

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Whispermen - and the Vigil...

Lots and lots of snippets about the new / second half series filtering through. Steven Moffat has been talking about a couple of new alien races - the Whispermen and the Vigil. We may, of course, have already seen these in the trailers. Whispermen would be a good name for the top-hatted eyeless creatures. Then again they might be something we've yet to view.
A recent clip seems to confirm that the monks seen in the Xmas trailer are from The Bells of Saint John, as the Doctor turns up at Clara's house wearing a habit. The BBC synopsis for this story mentions an ancient enemy. Some people have taken this to mean the return of an old foe from the programme, but it doesn't necessarily follow.  Fenric was an ancient enemy, but hadn't been mentioned, let alone seen, before The Curse of Fenric.
Other synopsis information worth noting is that there is a Festival of Offerings going on at The Rings of Akhaten, and the little girl seen in the trailer and on the poster is the Queen of Years. The creature in the glass box breaks free and demands a sacrifice.
Cold War is set in 1983 and the Ice Warrior has broken free from a block of ice. It tries to get its pincers
on the crippled submarine's nuclear arsenal.
The "ghost" in Hide is known as the Witch of the Well.
A number of non-spoilery photographs have been released - mainly for the opening story.
The images accompanying this post I spotted at Blogtor Who, and represent a choice of covers for Entertainment Weekly. As it looks at 50 years of the programme, the inclusion of a Dalek doesn't necessarily mean anything for the new series - though that is obviously a new Cyberman.
The UK's Radio Times had a brief behind the scenes piece this week, and informs us that there will be a free Monster Wall Chart with next week's series launch issue, which we can safely bet will have a DW cover. Steven Moffat will also give his usual series preview.

Monday 18 March 2013

The Relatively Spoiler Free 7(b) Round Up...

Time for a round-up of what we know so far about the forthcoming episodes, which commence on Saturday 30th March with:

The Bells of Saint John
A present day "urban thriller" story revolving around alien infiltration of Wi-Fi and social networks - written by Moffat.
Celia Imrie guest stars.
Robots called Spoonheads.
Clara is a present day nanny.
Doctor and Clara on a motorbike.
Doctor and Clara on a 'plane, after the TARDIS materialises there with the crew and passengers unconscious.
A prequel to be shown from the Saturday before transmission.
An implausible stunt? Is the image of the Doctor and Clara bursting out of London's Shard building actually part of the story?
Speculation: The monks seen in the Christmas trailer. Might they point the Doctor where to go to first find Clara?
SFX have some spoiler-free hints here (they saw the  preview):
They say this has the most "striking" pre-credit sequence ever...

The Rings of Akhaten
Written by Neil Cross.
The dessicated alien in a glass container, and the goggle-eyed aliens.
Egyptian imagery.
The trailer clip with the Doctor and Clara entering a room full of different aliens.

Plot-wise, still a bit of a mystery. Is Akhaten the alien, or the planet? No significant guest stars either.

Cold War
Mark Gatiss' tale about an Ice Warrior loose on a Soviet submarine under the Arctic ice.
Liam Cunningham is the commander.
David Warner appears in the background of part of the US trailer in civilian clothes - so maybe a scientist?
Base under siege story-telling. Nothing wrong with that...

Neil Cross again.
Was previously "The Hider In The House" or "Phantom of the Hex".
Haunted house / ghost story.
Characters in Victorian costume seen during filming.
Dougray Scott some kind of paranormal investigator.
His dufflecoat implies not contemporary - maybe 1950's or 60's?

Journey To The Heart Of The TARDIS
Written by Stephen Thompson.

Lots of scenes in the trailers of the Doctor running down corridors - perhaps TARDIS ones?
Moffat says he was very disappointed by the TARDIS interior seen in The Invasion of Time - so expect much better.
I have read somewhere about a salvage crew called the Van Baalens.
Ashley Walters guests - I'm assuming he's a Van Baalen.
Does the TARDIS crash and the Doctor has to fight off salvagers taking his ship?

The Crimson Horror
A tentative title for Mark Gatiss' second script.
Victorian era.
Dame Diana Rigg and her daughter, Rachel Stirling, guest.
Return of the Paternoster Gang.
A melodrama, so expect lots of dark, twisted humour.

The Last Cyberman
Written by Neil Gaiman.
Cybermen - obviously.
New design, plus a new Cyber creature.
Alien world containing an abandoned theme park.
Jason Watkins, Tamzin Outhwaite and Warwick Davis amongst the guest cast.


Maybe this?

Or maybe this lot?
The top hatted creatures might well be from "The Crimson Horror".
All we do know is that Moffat has come up with a new scary monster that moves very slowly.
River Song is in this.
A clip in the new trailer has the top hatters beside a headstone on which we can just glimpse the last three letters - "ONG". If it's River - we already know she dies in The Library. Or does she...?
Moffat has said something about someone going into the Doctor's past to kill him. River, in this, or is he going on to talk about the 50th Anniversary tale?
Moffat has also hinted the return of an old villain - but not sure of which story (or which villain) this could refer to.
We know that this story is (at least partially) set in Victorian Glasgow.
By this point we will know what Clara is all about.
The Doctor's greatest secret is going to be revealed, according to Moffat.
He also reminds us that he lies.

Sunday 17 March 2013


I've now had a chance to watch the Galaxy 4 episode "Airlock" a couple of times - as well as the thorough recreation of the missing episodes which surround it.
There was a lot more of parts 1,2 and 4 than I had expected - using the off-air soundtrack coupled with photos and CGI material. The lengthy clip from part 2 which we have had for a while is also included, naturally. It is not the full soundtrack (about 45 minutes worth) but it does give you all the plot you need.
As for the episode itself, it has been wonderfully restored. We finally get to see the enigmatic Rills - glimpsed only through a window. They appear more fully in the missing fourth part, recreated here using CGI.
When it was first announced that this and Part 2 of The Underwater Menace had been found, we had mixed feelings. We were glad that any missing episode had been found, but deep down regretted it hadn't been episodes from Power / Evil of the Daleks, The Web of Fear, or Fury From The Deep.
"Airlock" was considered merely a middling episode of a middling story.
Watching it now has made me re-evaluate this story - in a positive way. Whilst we have lots of episodes featuring Maureen O'Brien, there are very few with Peter Purves - so it's nice to see a bit more of Steven, even if his character is somewhat sidelined. It has been reported that he felt he had been given the Barbara role, as this story was commissioned at a time when the TARDIS line-up was changing.
Best thing about the episode without doubt is Maaga - played by Stephanie Bidmead. She has a wonderful one-sided talk with her Dusty Springfield-clone warriors - practically a soliloquy. She bemoans having her aspirations for conquest and glory stifled by being lumbered with these dim-witted soldiers.
We also get to see a are example of a flashback sequence in the classic series. Maaga has stated that one of her soldiers was murdered by the Rills, but the walrus-like aliens reveal that it was Maaga herself who cold-bloodedly executed her wounded subordinate - and we get to see this rather than just hear about it.
The title is one of those which refers to an element that only appears at the end of the episode - as with The Sensorites episode "Kidnap", for instance. Steven gets stuck in the titular airlock as he doesn't trust Maaga and doesn't know that the Chumblies are really benign.
If you already own the DVD of The Aztecs, and don't want to buy the Special Edition, I would urge you to reconsider - if not for the remastered adventure set in 15th Century Mexico then for the chance to enjoy this often overlooked Season 3 opener and view it in a new light. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

That Was The Week That Was 17.3.13

First of all, hope you have had (or are having) a great St. Patrick's Day.
Doctor Who was represented during this year's Comic Relief event, with Matt Smith joining the Call The  Midwife team for a sketch. David Tennant also snogged comedian John Bishop during the proceedings.

Movie-style posters for the first 4 episodes of Series 7 Part 2 were released prematurely by the Radio Times (more on this in my next post), and we had two new trailers - one UK and one US. Three story titles were revealed in the process.
A prequel for the first episode will be available on the red button service from 23rd March.
Matt Smith appeared on The Jonathon Ross Show and a clip from The Bells of Saint John was shown - featuring the TARDIS arrival on an aircraft in flight. Smith also hinted the word "paintings" as having some significance for the anniversary show.
He was very evasive about his contribution to Doctor Who beyond this year.
One person who will not be around is Exec-Producer Caro Skinner, who has announced she has resigned from the show to concentrate on drama production roles in London.

We finally got to see the long-lost Galaxy 4 episode "Airlock" from Monday, as part of The Aztecs SE DVD (another separate post to follow also).

Lastly, Richard Bacon of Radio 5 Live visited the BBC Cardiff studios for a look around, and interviewed JLC.

Saturday 16 March 2013

Series 7b News

The new trailer for the second half of Series 7 was released today. There is also a BBC America version, and you'll find both on You Tube. Combom has also reported "leaked" low-res movie-style posters for the first four episodes. Compared with last year's they are a bit underwhelming. They state that the second episode is called "The Rings of Akhaten, and features the goggle-eyed aliens; the third episode is called "Cold War"; and the episode previously called The Hider in the House (or Phantom of the Hex) is now simply titled "Hide". 
One other item of note from today's news is Matt Smith talking about the 50th Anniversary story, stating that "paintings" are highly significant...