The Smith Era

December 28th, 2013

“I’ll be a story in your head. But that’s okay, we’re all stories in the end.
Just make it a good one, eh? Because it was, you know. It was the best.
A daft old man, who stole a magic box and ran away.”

Of all the modern Doctors perhaps the Eleventh Doctor represents the greatest gear-change between two adjoining series and iterations. A new show runner and production team, new lead and companion, not to mention new TARDIS inside and out, The Eleventh Hour ushers in a deliberate reinvention of the programme. Most Doctors take perhaps a full season to ‘find’ their character; the Matt Smith Era finds its Time Lord within its first episode.

Much of this of course is due to the resetting of the Doctor and who he is. Having played his hand as an angry survivor, then a lonely god, this new Doctor is first and foremost a figure of legend; literally, in some cases, a living story. He is the raggedy Man, brought into being by The Girl Who Waited, then is apparently deconstructed and brought back to reality by the same girl’s memories, his return in The Big Bang a more convincing turn than Last of the Time Lords‘ stab at a faith-based resurrection (mobile technology notwithstanding). This season does, however, insist on being a story told on its own terms – that of, for want of a better term, a ‘fairy story’. Following Amy Pond of course is another companion who also in her way ‘tell’s the Doctor’s story to life through her own selfless and self-denying actions. More than ever, the Eleventh Doctor is a ‘reactive’ hero in essence – an independent hero who nonetheless relies on the versions told to him by companions and strangers alike (viz the doomed Lorna Bucket) – he even coordinates his adventures for a period to his sometime wife’s diary. No other version of Doctor Who has asked so much of its viewers to buy into on a narrative scale.

If you can buy into that, then what follows should be easier still, because Smith’s first season also ramps up Doctor Who following a blueprint set down in Steven Moffat’s previous stories: temporal chicanery, eerie (rather than warlike) monsters, formidable enemies (often with strong female proponents) claiming powers to equal those of the now absent Time Lords, and the Doctor fighting for the certainty of his very existence, defending the entire universe and all of time itself simply by being. Such audacious concepts set the stakes infinitesimally higher than the series’ first years of random, almost anonymous adventures in a broad and unknowable universe. The Doctor is now famous, and his fame has created his greatest challenge: he can never know peace – ironically only coming close to this when trapping himself in a rather nebulous stalemate during the Siege of Trenzalore. In fact, for its own inconsistencies, The Time of the Doctor never abandons the central theme of the Doctor as the hero of a thousand stories – perhaps more potently in this story, evoking variations on the ‘Drifter’ or ‘Gunslinger’ characters of Western stories. Once again, in returning to a heroic ‘legend’ context the final acts and regeneration of the Eleventh Doctor can only be seen as the culmination of an era that, inconsistencies and fumbles aside, stays true to its storytelling roots. For its triumphs and failings it can’t be said that the Smith Era is not thematically strong.

Do you believe in fairy stories, immortal heroes and the inevitable triumph of good over evil? If you can, then here you have one hell of a show – surprising, shocking, suspenseful and utterly charming. Whatever will come next?

PA

Fast Return – November 2013

December 23rd, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look, you and I know that November is now a distant memory and that nothing happened that month (yuk yuk!), but here we are and there is is. Roll ‘em:

Number Eight, Wired
Ooh! Ooh! The Eighth Doctor returned for more than one night only! An he regenerated on Karn – too awesome, and to think it had its genesis in the fan genes of the current showrunner. he didn’t have to, but he did. And it’s one of the best things of 2013, really.  We know that 2014 is another year and that there’s a brand new fiftysomething Doctor to bed in, but can’t we have Paul back again, maybe for a flashback, pleaaase?

Here’s One I Made Earlier, etc
Not that the fan-fare was restricted to fan circles and sad old gits what wish for the return of Kamelion and the like. Here’s Doctor Who: Pertwee Logo‘s writer Matthew Jacobs blogging enthusiastically on Night of the Doctor See? The 50th Anniversary really is now for everyone!

Tom’s put it in, now
And you can say what you like about The Five-ish Doctors (we did, of course), but big ups to the elder statesman of Who for cameoing so wonderfully, so distinctively, and so enigmatically. “Who nose” simply knocks all possible spots off “Good luck, my dears!”. And yet, it’s impossible to divorce either line from the other, isn’t it? And that’s the magic of Tom.

I Can Hear You Lalla Lalla Lalla!
And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Big Finish go and announce a Doc4/Romana2 series on audio for 2015 as well. Satan just bought a snowplough!

Barrowman! Smith!
Time Agents and Time Lords get everywhere, apparently, as these official historical photos from der web show quite clearly (hat-tip to Al and Deb for the Captain Jack)

Here’s Captain Jack – or is it…? and Here’s the Eleventh Doctor with a little help from his friends…

Bye Bye, Iris
Ah, but it weren’t all good audio news last month, as Paul Magrs had the sad duty to report the demise of Fig Bin’s Iris Wildthyme series, noted of course for putting Katy Manning in gainful and scandalous employment. It’s a crime that Aunty Iris never got a story with Tom or (for that matter) a full story with Sylv. But never say never, eh?

And finally…

I believe that Children are- Oh My Dear God!!!
You’ve heard enough from we barnacle-encrusted ‘classic’ fans to actually sink a ship from this year, so let’s have some words from the series’ future. Its bright-eyed, inquiring, fact-hungry, pants-wetting, weird, somewhat over-eager future…

The Tennant Era

November 28th, 2013
“Oh, I am brilliant!”
In order to understand the era of the Tenth Doctor, perhaps it helps to see it in context with its successor.
This breaks the rules of Eras, somewhat; but such is the effect of the Smith Era, the reinvention of the character of the Doctor under Steven Moffat (of which, surely, another post to come) and most recently The day of the Doctor. This anniversary special pits the Tenth Doctor against the Eleventh, and both together against the hitherto unseen Ninth/War Doctor. The latter difference are plaint enough, but it’s the former which are the more surprising.

Both post-Eccleston iterations share common characteristics – they are young, dashingly geeky, physical and outwardly emotional, and they rely heavily on the companionship and friendship of their (mainly) female fellow adventurers. Both struggle with mixed messages picked up by said companions, and in turn the companions of both the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors are largely defined by the intensity of this relationship. The Doctors, however, are different men; each gradually distanced from that epochal catastrophe of the new series – the Time War and destruction of Gallifrey, they react and encounter the universe that remains with them in contrasting ways. The Eccleston Doctor carries a palpable air of survivor guilt, while Smith’s Doctor has made new and deadly enemies through his gradual mastery of time and space; Tennant’s Doctor occupies territory between these poles – having regenerated past his immediate shell shock he is constantly testing himself against the cosmos in which he now inhabits (or imagines he does for the majority of his life) as the last of his kind.

Thus, the Tenth Doctor as the “lonely angel”, a man cut off from his past and his home, at first seeking to enjoy an unfettered life, before crucially overstepping the mark and edging towards something as terrible as the world he first escaped, the self-titled ‘Time Lord Triumphant’. Tennant’s Time Lord is a character of exuberant energy anchored in a universe of sadness and regret, his cries of action and enthusiasm (“Allons-y!” the aforementioned “Brilliant!”) matched by an equal, apologetic refrain (“I am so sorry”); little wonder that this anti-hero with his peaks and troughs of emotion would find a ready-made audience in adolescent viewers.

The Tenth Doctor’s first two companions are ready-made audience identifiers – perhaps we could also add others to this list – Astrid Peth, in particular; young women with varying degrees of infatuation for this outwardly young, outwardly exuberant and vivacious adventurer in time and space. Within, we know there is melancholy, and a sense that even these companions may not be able to fill the space left by the disappearance of his own people – witness the Doctor shrinking inwardly in The Impossible Planet, shuddering at the thought of ‘settling down’, and the cool eagerness with which he maroons his mortal second self on Pete’s World with Rose. Indeed , watch how those relationships are broken down with each companion: separation, estrangement, irreversible trauma, with the Doctor compelled to move ever on as he always has. If Eccleston’s Doctor was a reluctant survivor and reluctant hero, then Tennant is a hero still trying to free himself from responsibility, newly-reborn and finding fun in the Universe, before finding it a sometimes cold and empty place. Tennant’s Doctor is a complicated figure, often eulogised in lofty terms (“fire and ice”), but in turns paradoxically and remarkably tactile, chummy, brotherly.

All of which helps to create through his reactions and interactions and impression of the Universe of the new Who era, where for a while the remote and alien territory of the Hartnell and Troughton Eras are reduced and made occasionally very domestic (New Earth in Gridlock), or even silly, with silly names and faces. Indeed, the Universe is probably the most exciting and occasionally slapstick it’s been since the Graham Williams stories, as though showrunner Russell T Davies is imprinting his childhood era over the resoundingly successful relaunch. The remarkable turnaround of the Doctor in his final two years is therefore a story that probably does more to roll out his next incarnation than speak of the exuberance of the Tennant Doctor we might otherwise envisage. In short, here is a Doctor in microcosm; the most successful of Davies’ visions of the show, and in four varied and contrasting years we bear witness to the rise and fall of a pretty interesting and memorable incarnation.

PA

Perfect Day

November 25th, 2013
Being a Doctor Who fan in 2013 presents such a vast array of experiences, such a broad variety of access and media in which to enjoy the series that in its semi-centenary this fan was able to watch three celebratory programmes across a terrestrial channel, pay-TV channel, and finally the internet.
When I was a lad of 18 Doctor Who turned 25. It seems now that there was one holy week dedicated on New Zealand television (which at the time comprised of two channels) dedicated to the show. The truth is, the coverage of the show was handsome, but not actually that exhaustive, contained as it was to largely non-primetime transmission hours. Twenty-five years on, and an entire weekend of back to back Who on UKTV, plus Prime’s twice-screened broadcast of The Day of the Doctor (not to mention those 3D cinema screenings for fans lucky enough to get the tickets), plus of course the monolithic internet coverage sees the 1988 marathon seem positively quaint. If Steven Moffat’s promise of Doctor Who ‘taking over television’ were to have been a promise made real, then surely it happened here. What follows then is a potted review of three individual celebration shows from the past weekend.
An Adventure in Space and Time [UKTV 5:50pm November 23]
If Mark Gattis ever considered a tilt at the position of Doctor Who showrunner, then consider this his  major frontal assault. AAISAT is a visual feast, not only for Sixties-philes such as myself (and I was as much enthralled by the real-life period detail as I was the faithfully-replicated shooting scenes), but for anyone interested in the history and miraculous birth of a TV legend, this 70-minute docudrama comes highly recommended. David Bradley is in turns virtually indistinguishable from a version of William Hartnell which surely resides in the collective living memory of those who witnessed Verity Lambert’s days of pass and vinegar. Doctor Who’s series creation myth proves to be as enthralling as the series’ first episodes themselves, and Bradley’s Hartnell is a portrayal of studied restraint.  In stark contrast to the hyperactive man-child of the Twenty-first century Doctor, Gattis’ Hartnell is a man plagued with self-doubt, seeing all too clearly the opportunity of a lifetime slipping from his grasp, and becoming with every year more reliant on the indulgence, the patience and support of his producer and co-stars. The end, inevitably, is heartbreaking. A work of devotion, this drama is the clear highlight of the anniversary weekend reminding us of how close we came to having nothing to celebrate at all, and of the fragility at the heart of Doctor Who’s most critical years. Consider me a Gattis convert.
The Day of the Doctor [Prime 9am November 24]
Simulcast bar-ten minutes (probably enough time for Strax’s pre-screening announcement then), this special is a strange beast. Not entirely the all-in celebration some fans may have wanted it to be, yet possessed with the confidence to build not on a fifty-year old myth, but an eight year old one instead. TDOTD unashamedly looks forward, doffing its coat-tails to the series heritage, but determinedly pushing into the future, where even the reinstated elder statesman of Doctors has been recast as a possible future incarnation (a clever trick – wonder if there are three to six other future Doctors with oddly-familiar faces out there?) It’s an unconventional special, and an anniversary sometimes in name and cameo alone – a former Doctor is brought back (verdict? Too soon!) , and a new former Doctor installed; numbers get juggled, doubles are played off against one another (the story’s Zygon gambit being one strand I felt was less than essential), and via John Hurt’s War Doctor some curious reinventions of the show have been wrought – as some are calling it, a ‘soft-reboot’. Outside of the Time War the story, too, is a little static, recalling the quieter moments of The End of Time during the Tower scenes, where three incarnations of the same Time Lord get to play a game of  ‘Won’t somebody think of the children?!‘ over fallen Gallifrey and its late, lamented may poles. But, churlishness aside, this is a nice diversion, and doubtless the central picture would have looked brilliant in 3D. Onl;y one real niggle: for all of his darkness and terrible nature according to Moffat, how did John Hurt’s incarnation end up so damned sympathetic and  lovable?
The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot [On that Internet from Sunday 24th]
 I’m so glad I saved this for last. Peter Davison’s irreverent story of Time Lord irrelevance is an equal and equally affectionate tribute to the parent series and its triumphs, failures and just odd lineage as Gattis’ earlier feature. Everyone in this production is clearly up for more than a little self-parody, and the result is blissful. I can’t decide who was gamer, between a certain late companion, John Barrowman or Russell T Davies, but I watched this with a near-constant grin on my face and a giddy sense of empathy for yesterday’s heroes, aching in limb, frequently out of breath and distressingly squeezed into increasingly ill-fitting costumes. I’m even smiling looking at the above picture as I type this. Did the three musketeers really pull it off as depicted? I want to believe they did!
And so, comedy, drama, flash and verve, with some nostalgia and humanity in the mix. Truly, to get the full Who anniversary viewing experience you didn’t just have to be there, you had to be everywhere.

Fast Return – October 2013

November 23rd, 2013

[Quick - cover October before November runs out!]

Audio… Go
Go no more, alas. Sad news that AudioGO, holders of the license to new series audio fiction (and the odd classic series reading, plus of course the series that got Tom back behind [the] Mike) has gone into voluntary administration. There’s always Big Finish, it seems, but there is of course now less choice for new series fans –and that’s not a good thing.

Missing Presumed Found

So in October nothing hap- whaaa?

Alright, we’re late to the party again, but hell, what a party! TWO (or one and three-quarters if you must) Troughton stories back, soon to be available on DVD but more importantly immediately available to see on ITunes!!! What’s that? So long as you don’t live in NZ (and some other countries) Grr! Why, if it weren’t for the ever-regurgitating Omnirumour on GB’s Missing Episodes Forum (currently a locked thread because… because… hmmm) we’d have nothing else to hope for and would be scaling the walls of BBC Worldwide demanding The Lion back as recompense!

Suffice it to say: more please. Best. Anniversary. Present. Ever!

Clara’s Mud
Hey, Crooked Dice have made a figure that you could use as Clara if you want. If you squint, that is. How long til we get a Hurt Doctor figure then, eh?

Avoid LATE disappointment – be disappointed early!
Yeah, FigBin’s Light at the End has been released early! An odd thing, to be marking the anniversary a month early (apparently it was “always part of the plan” oh yes), but in this day of internet leaks and moles and other things you can pull out of your garden, it’s a reality of life, innit? Nothing stays secret for long, and premature releases will sometimes occur. In this case, BF swear that’s not what happened, and in any case L.A.T.E is, well, e.a.r.l.y. Plus, it comes amidst a pretty decent 1963-themed triptych of stories (they’re not linked, so it’s not a three-parter0 for BF Doctors 5, 6 and 7 that by all accounts have restored what has been a truly mixed year quality-wise for the audiomeisters. So that’s a Five Doctors for the post-classic series but with classic Doctors (including Tom!), and more companions than you could shake a sonic at. And it’s even come out on vinyl! Enjoy!

On the other hand, that cover looks a bit ropey.

Ticket to Riot
Aand just in time for the Anniversary weekend, tickets on sale for the big screening of The Day of the Doctor. In 3-D! Sigh. Didn’t get any, would have missed out anyway. Sounds like it would be a blast!

Still, there’s always the boundless world of imagination to explore…

[Phew. Think we got away with it this time...]

‘Night’ Fever

November 22nd, 2013

It’s very difficult as a fan brought up on the old series to remain objective about Night of the Doctor, simply because it delivered so much with such economy. To date, the Paul McGann iteration of the Doctor marks the longest-ever break in a televised role for the series’ lead character yet. Furthermore, the paucity of McGann’s in-character appearance outside the TV Movie lends it extra significance. For a publicity-shy, costume-dodging actor any reappearance would be a boon; a return to round out his own “mayfly” TV role is nothing short of a wonder – for me easily one of the three most exciting, unexpected and utterly brilliant revelations of Doctor Who‘s 50th year.

And it fits so well; that aforementioned economy tells us so much about the Eighth Doctor that props (a sonic screwdriver, novelty headgear) often don’t. His heroism, his doomed reluctance to take sides in an escalating Time War, the battered exterior of his TARDIS (though no interior shot – my only compliant!). When it arrived, his death, resurrection and regeneration were aptly Messianic, book ending with references with which the character was introduced. His final words are an echoing from the New Testament book of Luke, but for him no grand cruciform pose or Roman candle regeneration, but something more understated, something (dare I say it) redolent of the ‘classic’ series, bar all that lying down. “Is this death?”, his Fifth predecessor asked before his regeneration; for the Eighth Doctor it most definitely was, and it’s remarkable to observe now how the most marginal of previous Doctors has been planted at the heart of the new series’ world-building and of the Eleventh Doctor’s last days.

From this fan, then, to Steven Moffat heartfelt appreciation. The Eighth Doctor is now ended, in an act of self-sacrifice that in its non-epic, personal context immediately recalls the old series’ most celebrated regeneration story (Androzani), and in doing so hits the spot Moffat’s immediate predecessor himself vied for (the Doctor spending his last moments saving the life of one of “the little people”) but was unable to hit.

On his blog Al draws attention further to the Eight Doctor’s new costume, an approval I must echo. Past posts tell too well that I’m no fan of the WETA/Big Finish ensemble; Night‘s rendition – nodding to the Partisan, the brigand, the Romantic hero, retains the kernel of McGann’s US costume, while deftly pushing it along to something truly ‘lived in’. True to McGann’s naturalistic performance, you hardly notice the outfit at all – it’s a master stroke.

The rest is just wonderful fan service – Karn (the Eighth Doctor has a history here already thanks to Big Finish), audio companions name-checked, and some knowing Moffat lines pitched perfectly, that show that the current show runner has a good ear for the timbre of the McGann version, and I for one would welcome another appearance by this pair.

In all, Night was a magnificent surprise, and a brilliant gift for McGann fans as well as fans of the previous series. Rumour has it that higher heads at BBC Worldwide have taken note of the minisode’s success – we can only hope. Could the Eighth Doctor return again for another brief adventure yet? It’s a question I’d stopped asking a long time ago; how strange to be revisiting it now with such optimism!

PA

Zeus Plug flashback: issue one

November 18th, 2013

To mark November being Tennant month, here’s a return to Zeus Plug‘s debut, and a Tenth Doctor focus straight outta The Christmas Invasion. Oh, we were all so optimistic back then, weren’t we? Feel that youthful hope…

X the Unknown

Illustration: Alistair HughesIn the year 2000 BBC Books, saddled with a Doctor four years into his tenure and carrying a history about him like a tortoise does a shell, took a drastic measure. It made the Eighth Doctor forget who he was, not just for one story, but for a year. Eschewing his companions, temporal knowledge and TARDIS, and for nearly a hundred human years experienced the world and his environment fresh and unaided. This wasn’t the first time such a thing had been done of course – Virgin Books had done a similar thing with the Seventh Doctor in Paul Cornell’s Human Nature; but that story, like every story before it and the ‘Caught on Earth’ cycle, returned the Doctor to his present history-steeped, continuity sodden ‘familiar self’. Of course, what Richards needed, most likely wanted to do that no story before had been able to do, and what he could never hope to achieve, was not making the Doctor forget who he was, but his audience.

Five years later the idea would seem moot, because now most sensibly, Doctor Who is made for a new audience, not a curmudgeonly and shrinking fan base tied to the old series and its continuity. Played from the outset very smartly, with few instances of a ‘restart’ button having been pressed, and (thankfully) no strange desires to make the Doctor half-human, the Eccleston series has been a smash hit. The issue at the end of his supposed first season? The short televised life of the Ninth Doctor, gazumphed in a BBC plot (sort of).

With that in mind, and the how’s return neatly assured, the real gambit would surely be the first regeneration – hardly the surprise that it was in 1966, but still an effective show changer. The Tenth Doctor, therefore, is RTD’s newest gamble, and The Christmas Invasion saw him arrive in style. David Tennant – young actor, a board-treader recently tested with some RTD-produced top shelf BBC fare. But what of the new Doctor himself? The Christmas Invasion, whatever individual fans may review it as, is a master-stroke, and it’s all in the imagery. Blood, shades of the occult, lots of shouting and visceral reds courtesy of the Sycorax, tribal paraphernalia recalling some aspects of the Lord of the Rings movies, and then there’s the Doctor himself. It may well be that in this story the quintessential image of Tennant’s Doctor – of any Doctor for the new century, has been achieved.

And this may be a scary thought if we’ve peaked this early. Nevertheless, can there be a more Doctorish image than that of our hero wielding a sword high above London in his pyjamas? It’s both sublime and ridiculous, projecting bravado and peril as well as delivering a knowing nod to the British tele-fantasy heroes of old as well as those more recent – Arthur Dent’s dressing gown, Harry Potter’s sword. It’s also a neat reflection of Davison’s Doctor’s first moments in Castrovalva; incapacitated, rendered all but useless while some greater peril gathers strength about him. In all its vulnerability its also a symbol of confidence – the polar opposite of Tennant’s predecessor with his tough leather-clad and cropped hair exterior but soft, guilt-ridden centre.

Indeed, if rumour is to be believed, that this season’s theme is of the new Doctor’s over-extended confidence and perilous self-assuredness, then its initial story neatly galvanises both ideas – of the handing down of some very British hero archetypes with an internal motif being developed. What to make of the Satsuma? Is it the ‘Torchwood’ of the new series, appearing as it does in two stories to date (if you care to include Attack of the Graske)? Probably not.

PA

The Eccleston Era

October 20th, 2013


The Unlikely Lad

An unprecedented emotional relationship with his companion, a reckoning with the unexpected survivors of the Dalek race and the loneliness of being the last of his own, encounters with one of the most famous writers in history, an alien spacecraft over London and a wicked Zoe Wanamaker – all met with his whooping catchphrase…

The Tenth Doctor, right?

Well, yes, but I’m talking about the bloke who came before him, and did it all first.  And on the face of it, ‘bloke’ is the operative word: leather jacketed, booted, close-cropped and determinedly not RADA-yadda.  The first time I saw a picture of Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor, I actually wondered what his costume was going to look like…

Although it’s never been a good idea to judge any of the Doctor’s by their appearance, Eccleston’s portrayal probably succeeded in doing more than any other in convincing us that the cleverest man in any room, on any planet, fizzed behind that deceptive exterior.  “Doctor?” snorts Charles Dickens during their first encounter, “More like a navvy!”

And yet, in the Ninth Doctor we first see that guile-less fascination and joy in encountering something new for the first time, which let’s be honest, has possibly become a little strained of late. And we even see this ‘hard man’ shed a tear in his second episode, a tiny moment which did so much to establish the tone of this new incarnation of the character and programme.  Much has been made of the ‘romance’ between the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler, (particularly in multitudinous fan-made compilations on You Tube), but watch those few moments between Eccleston and Piper in Number 10 Downing street before its destruction and you’ll see chemistry so intense that you even forget the awesome Penelope Wilton is there too.

To continue with the same unfairly maligned episode, the sequence involving the Doctor instructing ‘Mickey the idiot’ on how to save the world not only cemented my young nephew’s love for the programme, but I think conveyed the Ninth Doctor’s modus operandi, that with his nudge any one of us can make a difference.

Sadly, Eccleston’s too-short tenure and gradually emerging news of behind the scenes difficulties sometimes taint memories of a brave and exciting portrayal. But although not necessarily planned, sometimes it’s good to ‘keep it short’. By the time Tennant finally regenerated I was looking at my watch, but when Eccleston threw back his head and arms to blaze out of existence like the northern star he was, more than any of the other splendid chaps; I really didn’t want him to go.

AH

Fast Return – September 2013

October 10th, 2013


Ah, September. Remember September? Nothing happened!

SCHROEDINGER’S EPISODES
It’s hard to believe on this day, Recovery Eve, that there was a time when old fans and young fans weren’t maybe marveling over what’s possibly the greatest fumbled pass since some sports game, and that we weren’t all wondering whether we’d get news of recently-rescued 60s Who episodes from the Beeb or (as has happened already) some other news outlets. Yep, life was pretty dull for us back in September. Even the Missing Episode board on OutGallyBase looked like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


WHAT’S BLACK AND WHITE AND RED ALL OVER?

And our conversations about watching the Hartnell era went all like this (sorry, shrunk because it contains adult situations. Click to embiggen, as it were):

 

 

 

 

I WANT A PHOTO OPPORTUNITY, I WANT A SHARP REDEMPTION
Meanwhile, a little closer to the modern day old Doctors who aren’t dead in black and white or in the anniversary TV special (okay, bad analogy – sit down, Pertwee and Eccleston) all assembled in the drawing room for a group shot, like the band of elder statesmen they all are for the cover of DWM 465. There’s President Colin, looking all avuncular and presidential (yay!), there’s Syl with his cane, Tom operating his special new life-size Grumpy Pete puppet, and yay there’s Paul! We think. Well, we know he’s ickle in real life, but smaller than Syl?! Truly, bad Photoshop compositing has become the waxwork Doctor twenty-five years on.

Still, at least it’s not a patch on the oddball action figure theatre that is Big Finish’s ‘Light At The End lenticular cover.

MAKING A HASH, LIKE PAMELA NASH
Seriously, what the hell is the point of an advertisement advertising a hashtag? Is that not the quintessential not-getting-the-point of viral media? You don’t tell people what your hashtag is, you create the buzz and let the hashtag form itself in the process of it being shared and perpetuated (yes, like the dog, illustrated, above)!!! Honestly, call us on the 24th of November and we’ll see about that ‘buzz’, but in the mean-time Auntie, maybe think about suggesting a formal hashtag for something that’s already being discussed and really really needs focus and not misdirection and hearsay like, oh I dunno, missing episode recovery rumours? Aargh!!

I’m sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of Malcolm Tucker videos on YouTube today. Where were we…?

Oh yes, finally:

OBLIGATORY SWEARY CAPALDI VID CONTAINS SOCK AND AWE

Jamas said we should put this up. It contains swears and socks – you have been warned!

The McGann Era

September 29th, 2013

  In 2005 the Doctor changed. For Doctor Who‘s new audience this meant little to nothing, while for a likely majority of the old series’ fans the casting of Christopher Eccleston merely meant the continuation of what had always been – the inexorable restoration and reinvention of the series’ lead character. And yet,  even a year on, there were fans who clearly saw the seeds of this bold, new direction for Doctor Who and its hero in the brief TV tenure and its extended multimedia afterlife of the Eighth Doctor.

It’s not a bad achievement, really. Consider how the series and Doctor might have been interpreted had it lived on as novels and comic strips only after Spearhead from Space [no Master, no name Gallifrey, no Sontarans, no Sarah Jane] or Robot [no Davros, Leela, K9, Romanas or Hinchcliffe/Holmes or Williams/Adams eras ], let alone The Twin Dilemma or Time and the Rani in their respective portrayals of the Doctor. Doctor Who the TV Movie may in its eighty-nine minutes say little new about the series beyond a hastily papered-over half-human parentage and a squirmed-at Doctor-companion kiss, but few would argue that its version of the Doctor, and particularly its choice of leading man, was absolutely perfect.

This perhaps ought to be surprising; Doctor Who the TV movie is itself the product of mixed parentage, being a US production with UK and US names behind it. Its pitch at the renegade Time Lord is the closest the series had come to casting the Doctor as an Englishman Abroad – novelty factor included, Remington Steele in a TARDIS. Add to that the Doctor’s own ensemble being a collision of sartorial nods to archetypes from both countries [the Byronic antihero, the Wild West gunslinger] and the resulting impact and the longevity of its half-life is quite remarkable.

The Eighth Doctor was, more than any other incarnation, designed and extended by committee. Beyond the TV Movie the fan writers who took up the baton for the most part (some older hands – Dicks and Peel, excepted) invested a lot of their impressions of Paul McGann’s Doctor, rather than his predecessors, into their continuations; and so we know that in preparing their BBC Book Vampire Science Jon Blum and Kate Orman watched as many McGann films and programmes as they could to retain his mannerisms in their prose, while in Endgame on Alan Barnes seeded his comic strip Eighth Doctor with nods to the likes of Withnail & I. The success of the TV Movie in the UK is well enough known (it wasn’t actually a flop in the US, either, it simply wasn’t the remarkable success needed to become a series), but it’s as much a sign of good faith in Paul McGann’s role in the movie that his caretaker creators from 1996 to 2005 took great pains to keep his interpretation of the Doctor intact.

And yet, 2005 is not where the Eighth Doctor’s story ends; the Eighth Doctor’s story is still being written. We know that it does of course have an end somewhere, and that this may involve the Time War. Thanks to Big Finish and the continued involvement of Paul McGann himself we have an audio and visual acknowledgement of the Eighth Doctor’s evolution  leading up to that catastrophe, the stripping away of his carefree, Romantic exterior to reveal a more desperate, death-haunted loner – perhaps an early indicator of the Ninth incarnation to come. And there’s more to tell and not be told, because the Eighth Doctor is still a largely unfilled page, available to be read and added to by new custodian creators while his legacy, the revived series, forges on.

“Humans,” the Doctor explains, are “always seeing patterns in things that aren’t there.” And so it is that the vivid impression cast by Paul McGann and his co-creators have allowed the ‘not there’ post-TV Movie life of the Eighth Doctor to continue, faithful indeed to the pattern set by eighty-nine miraculous minutes broadcast in 1996.