Archive for April, 2007

Monday, April 30th, 2007


Some are classics, some are dogs, some are wildly different. But when it comes down to it, which season shines through as Doctor Who’s Best. Season. Ever?


So there haven’t been 32 seasons… to make this crazy game work, 3 seasons get a free pass to round 2. Here’s what was chosen and why:

SEASON 16This season was a wonderful idea for Doctor Who. Yes, there is still basically the same structure as in other seasons of differing stories, but they are all tied together under one ‘arc’ that has varying impacts on the stories involved. It added a nice extra layer to the stories (the Doctor had to do more than just ‘win’ the story, he had to get the next puzzle piece), as well as providing an important ethical moment in the last third of The Armageddon Factor which revealed a nice humanistic touch in dealing with Astra’s life. JE

SEASON 20 – Season 20 is often maligned for not bringing anything new to the table – most of its stories are sequels in one way or another and the season relies on the return of several villains – the Black Guardian, Omega, the Daleks, the Mara. The stories are fine, and some of them have some great moments, but to a good number of reviewers the season is seen as being somewhat less than the sum of those parts, and just too self-indulgent by far. It would be a tough call for any season to bear that sort of reputation, so I thought it needed a leg up. PA

SEASON 25 – It may not quite have delivered on its anniversary season promise, but Season 25 shouldn’t be hampered, just because it contains Silver Nemesis! Leaving that little nugget of joy aside, in terms of diversity, you can’t really beat it. Greatest Show is still in my mind a hugely underrated gem, and Happiness Patrol for all its faults was suitably bonkers. As an example of improvement on the season before it, Season 25 deserves a free run. The ride ahead may not be so smooth though… JP


We Should Be So Lucky…

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007


I’ll admit that when I first read on Outpost Gallifrey this week that Kylie Minogue was to star in the 2007 Christmas Special, my heart did sink a little. I mean, the idea of a pop star with little acting experience having a major role on Doctor Who is just inconceivable! Oh yeah… that’s right…

Thinking about it a little further though, whilst all the predictable calls of ‘stunt-casting!’ scream out from the message boards, perhaps, my fellow fans, it really wouldn’t be as bad as all that. We’ve had former Top of the Pops and Blue Peter hosts turn up and the sky hasn’t fallen in. We’ve had high-profile comediennes taking centre stage and the show hasn’t suffered (well.. some people think so, but I loved Ms Tate’s appearance).

We’ve even had the ultimate in Billie Piper – who would have thought, bar her turn in the The Canterbury Tales, that the same person who once sang the words ‘Honey To The Bee, That’s You For Me’ would be a hugely important part of the success of the new series.

So if, as unlikely as it may seem, Ms Minogue does end up having a role in the Christmas Special this year, Cyberwoman or otherwise, let’s hold fire on heralding the apocalypse until we actually see her.

And yes, I’ve seen Biodome.


Mister Boe Rambles

Monday, April 23rd, 2007


I’m loving the new series, but since The Runaway Bride I’ve had a vague feeling of sameness. Specifically – reheated final acts usually involving thwarted villainesses screaming their way into oblivion amidst Mill-concocted pyrotechnics, as panicked crowds point skywards.

So it was with some joy that I found myself surprised, absorbed and exhilarated by Gridlock, despite last years’ series opener leaving me wishing never to return to New Earth. Not only does it break the final act mould of the last three stories but reintroduces an environment and threat which feel real. Previously, fresh air had thoughtfully been provided in deep space, the lunar surface and apparently even surely-pungent Elizabethan London; whereas the first thing that happens to the Doctor and Martha on New Earth is a heavy shower of rain. The environment immediately impresses itself upon them and continues to do so. Smog replaces smug as the Doctor and Martha are both swiftly relegated to the status of helpless passengers, deprived of the TARDIS, one another and their own independence. There’s a true sense of desperation – Tennant even out-does McCoy in bellowing his companion’s name in one scene! Pleasingly, his Doctor initially seems less in control than usual, regretting ‘showing off’ and caught up in another of the new series’ ‘dead-end future’ scenarios.

But it’s not all grim and dystopian, in fact ‘road trip’ perhaps describes this stories ‘genre’ best. The plethora of eccentric characters and locations encountered along the way charm and engage as only Doctor Who at it’s very best can. As bizarre as many of the New New York inhabitants seem, they also present a very believable humanity – never more so than in the moving ‘hymn sequence’. Accompanying visuals are consistently good, including a truly thrilling ‘crab race’ and an arrival at the final destination straight from the Star Wars prequels.

The fact that the story concludes with the least surprising revelation in the new series’ history hardly matters, this journey hasn’t been so much about the destination as having fun getting there. So say what you like about Rusty Davies, and at Zeus Blog we always do, but at his best he is, to quote a certain Gridlock character:

“Insane and a little bit magnificent”.


From Bard to Verse

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Yeah, alright.

Our second story is a tale quite fair
To satisfy Jon Preddle’s wishes yet
As our heroes journey to meet Shakespeare
And duly help him out with his Hamlet

But this is not the play our tale concerns
Love’s Labours Won instead is the subject
And through the episode’s chicanes and turns
The Doctor strives its performance to eject

Martha is also active in the plot
Aiding the Doctor in defeating witches
She casts her own spell on the Bard so hot
To find the means to get into her britches

As story two’s always historical
Tis odd to see some magic in the mix
The power of words is metaphorical
And so the Doctor’s wise to these same tricks

But I foresee a rocky road ahead
A TARDIS friendship surely to be vexed
As Martha and the Doctor share a bed
He clumsily compares her to the ex

But still the visuals do please the eye
Elizabethan London looked a treat
With lovingly attended CGI
To outshine any 1980s feat

The nation’s history teachers will rejoice
To see such visual dedication here
And as a certain sexy theory’s voiced
Numerous scholars may well punch the air

Though it’s no Stoppard I’ll not make a fuss
There’s wit and wisdom evident in score
To such a balance guaranteeing thus
That Roberts will be back for Season Four.


Don’t Blame Me! Blame RTD!

Friday, April 20th, 2007

Don’t scroll to the post after this one if you’re wanting to remain spoiler free. (In fact, don’t even read this one!)

One week old, and already Zeus Blog is in hot water for publishing a major spoiler for the upcoming Daleks In Manhattan episode. It wasn’t our intention to create a furore so early on (that was going to be saved for next month), and our sincere apologies to whoever got their Episode 4 spoilt in our rush to get a quick joke online!

In our defense, it was pretty hard to miss. Apart from being all over the official website, thumbnails sprung up across the net before you had time to say ‘where’s its nose?’. Pity the poor ‘spoiler-free by choice’ folk in the UK who have to see it every time they go into a WH Smiths.

You have to ask – what were they thinking?! The publication of an upcoming monster on the front of the Radio Times is nothing new, but to give away the cliffhanger from an upcoming two-parter a week before the episode airs is pretty out of the box. There’s publicity and then there’s ‘spoil the ending’ publicity, which seems to go against what the production team have been trying to achieve this season, with their ‘wall of silence’ pact.

But maybe it’s just us fans once again getting precious about the little things when, in the scheme of things, it’s probably an excellent move on RTD’s part to get the public interested again, even if he himself seemed to think that he’s ruined the ending a little…

Oh and we promise not to spoil anything ever again. Not even the return of the Master.


Separated at birth..?

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007


The Curse of Peladon

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007


Poor Pertwee has taken a bit of a beating in recent years. Perhaps it is the Earthbound nature of the stories, or the repetition of UNIT or the Master, or maybe it’s just the lisp and the hair.

But amongst all this The Curse of Peladonis a bit of an oddball, not only for the season, or the Pertwee Era, but for Doctor Who as a whole. It is a political adventure, years before the likes of

Babylon 5, where a group of aliens gather together and try and sort out issues between them. Oh, there is action and adventure and daring-do, but it is basically murder mystery and a story of courtly intrigue. It’s period drama, and that is always what the BBC has done well. In fact, take away the colour and this studio bound, flambeaux lit adventure looks more like an 60’s historical adventure, than any of Pertwee’s other forays offworld. And as a result it has dated less.

Curse of Peladon is four episodes worth of good script and characterisation, on an alien world that is very well realised, with monsters who’s motivations are far more modern than there costumes, and tells a story that thoughtful without being preachy.

As for extra features, I’m not sure if there really is much to add, in fact it is an ideal candidate for the new stripped down, modestly extra-ed, near vanilla releases, although I’d love to see David Troughton sat down in front of a camera and asked about his recollections of his father and his time on the series. They could even push the boat out and do a joint release with the Doctor’s other adventure to Peladon, but the joy of this first story will be at the expense of it’s more bulky and unwieldy (more traditional) second.

Quite Right, too.

Sunday, April 15th, 2007


It’s a little early this time round, perhaps, but confirmation came last month that yes, a fourth series of Doctor Who has been commissioned. And David Tennant will, apparently, feature for the whole run. There are some who might applaud the first announcement but cry foul at its corollary. Here at Zeus Blog Terraces we say yah boo! Sucks to them! The really good news attached to this is that they are clearly in the minority.

This isn’t just an attempt to downplay the refined palette of a few individuals disillusioned with the current state of the show, it’s a simple fact. The series is doing very well indeed, and despite their minority report, there’s all evidence to suggest that in fact not only has the sky not fallen in since the departure of Christopher Eccleston, but the show has survived, carried on, made people laugh and cry, sold more annuals than the former reigning champion (The Beano) and clearly has a new, young audience who will with luck grow with the show and carry the flame on. Hopefully they’ll also grow old with the show; remember it fondly and long after its run ceases, one among those many might just rise up and start the ball rolling once more, win BAFTAs and Nebulas, and create a certified hit from a load of old cult. It’s the natural order of things. Our baby is doing well. It has a charismatic lead and a confident and powerful producer, both of whom deserve to return and entertain the kids for another year. Good on them and good luck to them for 2008.

On a more local note, you’ll notice that activity has returned about the blog and quite probably in not too tidy an order. We’ll run the broom around soon, and have a nice new logo to boot, but in the mean-time bear with us – the chaos is merely the product of enthusiastic minds at work!

Crash Start

Sunday, April 15th, 2007


Nice. The new season opens without a pre-credit teaser, and straight into a slice of the new companion’s life. As before. Thankfully, we’re not woken by a honking alarm clock and Murray Gold’s acid gerbil ‘techno’ soundtrack, but by something a little more real, a little more urban – some hippedy-hop.

I like the opener; it introduces Martha’s family deftly and in a light-hearted way, and with its sudden appearance of the Doctor sets up a time travel gag that the kids will love looking out for later in the episode. But my god, RTD’s all about the cellphones, isn’t he?

So much of this story has been either publicised through advance images or, in the case of the Judoon, fierce fan rumour. Here we see the result and the bits missing – and it’s pretty much as you’d expect. Some lifting of Virgin Books moments (stranded on the moon in a hospital rather than Timewyrm: Revelationschurch, but still…); a bit of the absurd mingling in with the sinister (a blood-sucking alien – with a straw!); a plucky companion not screaming; a plucky Doctor verging on OTT and, in a movement surely to be repeated in playgrounds across the Commonwealth, shaking radiation out of his shoe – like you do; oh, and mention of Rose again. Sigh.

But as it goes, Smith and Jones is fun and a great improvement on the smug and irritating New Earth. Not only does this hospital have a gift shop, but it also has some wonderful alien foils – rhino Judge Dredds with marker pens (the name must surely be a portmanteau of ‘Judge’ and ‘Goon’). The Plasmavore story strand didn’t work so well for me – I wondered later whether the villain of the piece might have avoided detection more easily by just borrowing a whiteboard marker from the nursing station desk; and having endured the novelty of an MRI scan myself the threat of its magnetic field seemed a little… overstated. Still quite enjoyable though, and with some wonderful effects and shots – the best laser beams in the series yet, and the Judoon spaceship landing sequence was just lovely. With some strong CGI behind it Doctor Who has entered the age of the ‘landing strut’ sequence anew, but in a good way.

So then – a fun story, some minor scares for the kids, the new girl looks sensible and resourceful but is sufficiently Not Rose, and the Judoon came off a lot better than I’d anticipated.

And a mention of Mister Saxon too. Who’d have guessed?



Saturday, April 14th, 2007


Another series, another chance to take a guess at what we think will happen in Series 3. 13 episodes = 13 theories:

  1. The Judoon will be the big surprise repeat monster of the last episode!
  2. To everyone’s shock, there will be a commentary with RTD involved in which he won’t say “Hoo-ray!”
  3. There WILL be a multi-Doctor story at the end of this season.
  4. The season cliffhanger will be companion-centred. Think an abducted Martha (allowing a bridging Martha-less yuletide romp on ice).
  5. Gallifrey will somehow be ret-conned back into existence.
  6. A well publicised spoiler will actually be a massive misdirection up a garden path (we wish)
  7. Captain Jack will return the happy-go-lucky character he left as, with no mention made of the dark and moody Torchwood version (or stopwatches please).
  8. Exodus Ark. Feel free to infer from that what you will…
  9. The series and spinoffs will encounter a backlash or scandal in the UK.
  10. Torchwood, SJS and K9 Adventures will all get name checked during Series 3.
  11. Despite a thousand rumours to the contrary, there won’t be an appearance by The Rani.
  12. Gridlock and 42 will generally be seen as the weakest episodes of the season.
  13. Two Christmas specials with mentions of Mars in them? In a row? You don’t fool us, Russell – Ice Warriors in December 07!