Archive for May, 2007

Wellington Doctor Who pub meet 20/5/2007

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Our meeting on the Sunday was attended by six on a windy Wellington evening with special guest star JP – no, not Jono nor Jacqueline Pierce but Jon Preddle. With all of us crammed into the snuggest snug of all, it was a little tight, but we managed, just.

 Our conversation dallied over many topics including: 

  • Lost, Heroes, The Sopranos as well as focussing on the new Who series
  • The template that the new series seems to take and what we can perhaps expect next year
  • The way the new series is planned out compared to how the classic series was done (paint by numbers versus inviting submissions and picking the best ones)
  • The New Beginnings DVD release incl. commentaries
  • A reassessment of Matthew Waterhouse’s acting abilities!
  • Torchwood
  • Who the next Doctor might be…
  • Big Finish’s Doctor Who audios
  • The next TSV and David’s EDA article
  • A quick whip around of desired DVD releases:
    • Image of the Fendahl
    • The Silurians
    • Time and the Rani
    • The Krotons
    • The Happiness Patrol
    • Anything first or second Doctor that has been cleaned and Vidfired
    • A yearning for good looking Pertwee stories with better video quality wise then the early to mid nineties video releases.

  • Our Torchwood discussion focussed on the fact that David Lawrence‘s favourite episodes was Out of Time and this seemed to be a popular episode all round. There were queries as to what is the point of Torchwood, the unevenness of the plot, the role of Jack as a Doctor figure as opposed to the comic hero (though admittedly Torchwood Series One is post his resurrection so this can be explained). Overall the feeling is that Torchwood was a little disappointing, but there is hope that the second series is going to be a lot better, especially with the later starting date (meaning more time to get it right).

  • Who would be the next Doctor after Tennant – following the idea that The Second Coming was an audition for Christopher Eccleston, Casanova was Tennants’ and The Unquiet Dead was Eve Myles’ for Torchwood, where could we expect the next Doctor to come from? Perhaps a guest star in Torchwood, the Sarah Jane Adventures or even Who itself will be number Eleven.

  • Jon expressed relief that he didn’t have to pick as many holes (continuity errors or just goofs) in series 3 as he wasn’t writing for the Telos third series book. A definite case of enjoy the episodes first, analyse them second.
  • Jon also tried to make us do a drabble on the spot – you can lead horses to water but we didn’t seem thirsty and politely declined…maybe next time Jon!

  • The increasing number of Doctor Who audios that are sitting on shelves not being listened to, probably due to the inundation of the new material at the moment. This led us to discuss the fact that the Big Finish audios may not be doing so well since Who has been back on our screens, as people can get their fix for free rather then paying for audio consumption. By all accounts Jon seemed to enjoy The Companion Chronicles, specifically – The Blue Tooth and The Beautiful People – with The Beautiful People sounding like it had a lot of in-jokes and a Douglas Adams sort of humour.

  • The next part of David Lawrence’s BBC EDA book article is being worked on although he is having trouble locating Time Zero. If anyone can find this, I’m sure he’d be appreciative. It was noted that it’s always the same books that seem to come up regularly on second-hand book shelves. SFX magazine is currently selling their magazines with free Doctor Who ‘Target’ novels (in reality BBC PDAs) as freebies – obviously there’s a fair bit of PDA stock floating around out there!

  • With David Lawrence in attendance we talked about his upcoming King Lear production which almost clashes with the other King Lear production (which has a certain Who actor as well as some Wizard from LOTR).

  • David and Jon explained away Tim’s question re: the Macra in Gridlock. Tim had wondered why the Doctor didn’t deal to them. It seemed that it was implied that they would either die out due to the lack of polluting fumes or the New Earth population would deal with them themselves. I guess the Macra could make a nice snack for hungry New Earthers (although polluted crab meat is probably highly carcinogenic).

All in all, a great meeting and we managed to get five food orders on a small table, balance all the plates, eat our meals and talk. And they say guys can’t multi task!!


Sec’s Bomb

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

 Evolution logo

Hi. I’m one of the people who liked Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel, so this year’s classic-creature-based-two-part-Art-Deco-extravaganza should appeal to me – right?

There’s a heavy sense of ‘seen it all before’s to this year’s Dalek epic, which is a pity, as inside with, beyond the showgirl and her pig of a boyfriend, Hooverville and the Back to the Future in Manhatten! storyline , there’s a rather interesting development in the character of Cult of Skaro leader Sec. But as I’m loath to admit, being a visuals junkie and all, this time the look of the story gets in the way. 

Evolution of the Daleks looks fantastic. It looks especially good being on the telly, and it copes admirably with having followed King Kong so recently. Watch the Confidential of the story and you’ll see the work that went into the establishing matte shots, but beyond that there’s great lighting and set design, wonderful music, fantastic period costumes and some really very decent dressing of Cardiff for New York’s Sheep Meadow. This aside, and it really must be aside, the story squanders its big reveal, its guest villains, and Martha. 

So what’s the problem? The Daleks are one. More directly, the Cult of Skaro is the problem. Great idea, and the ‘sacrificed’ skirting panels were a cool touch, but I think a ball was dropped in making the non-Sec members of the group so identical. Caan was the survivor at the end of the day? I had to wait for the dialogue to tell me that, and that’s a shame because for a group of free-thinking Dalek Machiavellis there’s little visually that distinguishes each from the others. Granted, being a litle more ‘Dalek’ than Sec was, this was probably intended, but it struck me as a return to the episodes of the Sixties, where anonymous Daleks waggling their eyestalks at each other was all we got. The Cult was an opportunity to relax this idea without resorting to the Davros character (or a Davros character), and instead this is what we got. Sec’s dream is an intriguing one, but the execution shortsells it – the hammy accent and the party balloon hat don’t help either.

By the time we get to the notion of a new Dalek race of hybrids created by a very Frankenstein lightning storm, things have collapsed somewhat, and the combination of classic enemy and bat-arsed scheme signal a return to the excesses certain Eighties stories have been accused of going to. I thought the Doctor climbing a radio mast in The Idiot’s Lantern was a nod to the past too many; to have him do it again here strikes me as just unneccesary. And to transfer Time Lord DNA? I’m not the kind of fan to let some implausible science get in the way of a good story, but I genuinely have had trouble trying to work out how that could happen: ”From the people that brought you spray-on intravenous drugs comes a new adventure in improbable physics!”

I’m rambling, and the last thing I want this review to be is a two-parter as well, so I’ll sum up. Interesting idea, looks nice, daft conclusion. Supporting cast not bad (liked Tallulah, Lazlo and Solomon), but either there were too many of them (adding Frankie plus Sec and others) or they were given too much to do, because apart from reading some schematics I can’t think of what Martha was given to do in this story. Except bring up Rose and rescue the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver – both quite unneccesary.

 So then, not a terrible story, but not one I’ll return to quickly. I didn’t like the two-parter as much as I enjoyed last year’s first Cybermen one (the Mickey arc was what sold that to me), and I liked that less than Army of Ghosts, which had a really effective reintroduction to the Cybermen AND a shocking return of the Daleks as its cliffhanger. So for all the advance spoiling of images and teasing of Helen Raynor’s first script, Evolution‘s a bit of a flop to me. Here’s hoping it’s only a blind alley.


Battle of the Seasons – Round Two

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007


16 seasons made it through the first brutal round to find the best season of Doctor Who ever. Now they go head to head…

An intriguing face-off. In Season 1 we have adventures that neatly alternate between Earth’s History and Outer Space, laying down the framework for what was to be the standard range of stories. By Season 14 everything’s different, and the format is tighter, faster, more generic. Tellingly, the best of Season 14 involves pastiche, be it Sherlock Holmes and Fu Manchu, Agatha Christie or the remaining Hammer Horror of the previous year. Season 1 has no previous year and no source inspiration. But we know which one we’d rather sit down and watch again – it’s hard to beat the original but stylistically its counterpart is far superior. Season 14 by a whisker.

SEASON 2 VS SERIES 1 (Eccleston)

Okay, the gloves are coming off now. Season 2 gives a range of stories, including several stories set nowhere near Earth, a feat Series 1 never accomplished on-screen and only teased us about. Season 2 is the first year the show began to laugh at itself with outright comedies and farcical episodes supporting more heavyweight community-based thrillers like ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ and ‘The Crusade’. The adventure is high, but strangely aloof – the departures of Susan, Ian and Barbara already seeming routine and survivable. Eccleston’s season is the opposite, with the emotional investment between Doctor and Companion – and Viewer, at an (at that point) unsurpassed high. With that as its vital ingredient, the ride of Rose’s first year far surpasses that of Vicky’s.

The Monster Season versus the Anniversary Season! Both continuity-heavy, Season 5 will always wear the crown of not only reinventing the Cybermen just when they needed it most badly, but also including every iconic Yeti story (i.e. both of them) and introducing the Ice Warriors for future generations. It’s the attack of ‘sequalitis’ for Season 20 as innovative ideas are passed over for recycling previous elements of the show. Season 5 manages to recycle even within its own season, but starts trends more than continues them. Win to Season 5.

Season 24 offers an aborted version of the Seventh Doctor, created almost in absentia from a collection of showman gimmicks and question mark motifs – kill it, kill it now. Season 16 is the Fourth Doctor about to reach full swagger, with only one companion’s regeneration away from total indulgence. Each season is settling into a dangerous rut. Though it has its flaws and sloppy internal structure (‘Tara’ dispenses with the umbrella theme in five minutes!), Season 16 is the bolder season – it presents a better range of stories and had an overarching theme to boot. Season 24 goes down in a bubble-gum-esque heap


The end of the Fourth or the end of the Seventh, eh? The Burgundy and the Brown. Which to choose? The answer is in the wearer, it seems, for while the mental image of the Seventh Doctor is one of an actor enjoying his newly empowered role, Tom Baker’s maroon ensemble is quite plainly a straitjacket, and so it’s a slow lonely shamble for him towards the radio telescope while Sylvester slyly strolls off optimistically into some bushes with Ace at his side. It’s the end for both of them, but the Seventh Doctor, perhaps the one who is simultaneously most and least prepared, is the one that goes out with a song.

Serious versus silly! Both Doctors are at the height of their game story-wise (has any Doctor since had such a strong opening as Pertwee?), but it’s the stories that make these seasons so utterly difficult and different. Season 7′s world is ultimately a cynical one of human failure and folly, with the Doctor mankind’s last hope against himself. Season 17 is an intergalactic romp around time and space with an unbeatable team. It’s safe, and it’s fun. You know where you are, and it’s the perfect tea-time treat. Even sawn-off as it is, Shada-bereft, Season 17 still takes some beating. Season 7 is glorious, but not what you think of when you think of Doctor Who. In fact, it almost feels like a completely different show. It’s controversial, and one of us will be crying for a while, but majority rules – Season 17 it is.

Oh, the silver anniversary season. Only problem is, it absolutely failed to be that spectacular, though it did contain some interesting stories and arguably Sylvester’s finest in ‘Remembrance’. Season 19 has an arsenal of Quantel, Paddy Kingsland, Christopher Bailey and the best surprise return of any classic monster in the old series’ history (Silver Nemesis – the least surprising?). Season 25 is good – but it’s not there just yet.

Terror and evil mark both seasons, but where 8 has claws, 13 has a brain. Can we just say Season 13 “because”?! No, the reason Season 8 falls behind season 13 is the same reason it starts and ends strongly – it has a flabby middle while the latter year’s work is really only the less for one story. The result? Season 13′s Gothic quality is the better all-rounder.

The Welcome Return of the Moustache Twirl

Monday, May 14th, 2007


I got seriously excited by the latest trailer for the second half of Series 3, so excited in fact that we’ve spent most of the last week posting about it. And whilst scarecrows, Derek Jacobi and Captain Jack are all very exciting, that’s not the reason why I went into a fizz at the end of the minute-long preview.

No, it’s Mr Saxon that got me going. And it’s not even because it’s John Simm or that maybe he’s the Master or the Monk or whatever – it’s because New Doctor Who looks like it’s finally getting itself a proper villain.

We’ve had close – Van Statten was a bit one-note but was heading in the right direction, as was Margaret Blaine. Neither seemed particularly nasty though, which may have been perhaps due to the Ninth Doctor being quite dark and dangerous himself. Move on to the Tenth Doctor’s era, and there’s even fewer non-monster threats. Anthony Head seemed like he had the right stuff in the few real moments of tension in School Reunion, and had he been given an extra episode or two, might have been the new series’ first real baddie.

But Saxon looks like he’s going to be something different. After two season finales with ‘the big-gun monsters’ being wheeled out, it’s damn exciting to have what looks like a real human(oid) foil for the Doctor arriving on the scene. It’s a scene that’s been set up rather well so far, with some welcome restraint (who else was expecting a Mr Saxon reference to be crowbarred into 1930s New York?), and if all goes to plan, it should pay off magnificently in a few months time.

Of course, there’s no proof that this is actually going to happen. It could all end up being a mess, with Simm coming off as being another ‘could almost have been good’ villain. But somehow I doubt it, especially considering the chilling final images in the trailer. Never has a smile for the cameras been so creepy.

Yes, whatever the outcome, whether he turns out to be the Master, the Monk or just a plain old evil politician, we definitely have a villain of note on our hands, And that to me is eminently more exciting than a ‘surprise’ return of an old monster…


The Concept of Zero…

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

The Concept of Zero Revolutionised Judoon Culture

Back Into The Fold

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

Even though the paper version of Zeus Plug has gone the way of Dodo, we’re happy to say that Zeus Blog continues the tradition of a neatly folded read.

Now, thanks to the technical abilities of Mr Enright, some of our longer articles (such as Battle of the Seasons) will be ‘folded’, thus giving the spindle wheel on your mouse a bit of a break.

Zeus Blog – bringing you nice long articles (but not too long).

7 more things to notice about the new trailer…

Sunday, May 6th, 2007


WordPress is in full-on hate mode right now, so no images. But here are the descriptions and questions, so chances are they may play out better in your head anyway :)

1. Re: Girl and balloon

I’m saying this is probably Aphasia – a significant character from the novel of Human Nature. The balloon has very definitely a part to play as well >:)

2. Re: Keys around necks

I’ll stick out mine and say they’re TARDIS keys. is there anything more to comment no other than the Doctor may have anticipated the three of them to be separated at some stage?

3. Re: Saxon’s other ring

Check out also the gold band around Saxon’s left hand. Is there a Mrs Saxon? Maybe Brad is right – and Aaronn! Perhaps Kate O’Mara’s at home right now, cooking up a casserole for her man about the House?

Or is it Martha?

You didn’t mention the ’sound of drums’ theselves Jono. It looks like folk have been quick to declare that the rhythm is that of the series title music (as also lampooned in the Doctor Who Night Pitch of Fear skit. But maybe it’s just a martial (or execution?) drum beat and we’re hearing patterns that aren’t there? The best theory I’ve read to come out of that is that the ‘dat-dat dat-dat’ rhythm of both relates to a double heartbeat. I like it! Even moreso than (was it Lance Parkin’s?) the suggestion that the ‘wwoooeeooooo’ of the title music is the sound of the Vortex opening up.

Whatever, it’s a bloody sinister image. Simm just looks for all the world like Evil, biding its time…

4. The upstairs room blowing up

It’s the modern day! Is it the Doctor or Jack in the foreground? Is it Martha’s family home blowing up? Of note though is the taxi – the self same one as seen in The Runaway Bride and Rose!

5. The Doctor’s dressing gown

 Not the same kit as in The Christmas Invasion, but rather like Clark Kent’s signature colour clothing in Smallville (the clothes are always a combination of blue or red, no matter what), the colour scheme in brown ‘overcoat’ and blue ‘shirt’ underneath is reassuringly that of ‘our’ Doctor – even if, like Superman in the chief inspiration for Human Nature, Superman II, he’s not quite himself.

6. Derek Jacobi’s choice of telly

Is lovely and retro, reminiscent of The Idiot’s Lantern (is it a Magpie model?) and… the TV Movie TARDIS scanner!

7. The Doctor’s bright eyes (burning like fire)

There’s not much I can add to this – it’s an arresting image and brings to mind Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart video, but I’m sure RTD has his heart in the right place. So, is the Doctor possessed, or is it time energy leaking out again? Or are his contacts really starting to get to him?


9 Things about the New Trailer

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

It’s just over a minute long, but there’s loads to take in during the latest trailer, previewing the last 7 episodes of Series 3. Here’s a few notes that we’ve come up with:


FROM: Most likely, given the timeframe, Human Nature / The Family of Blood

Cool! World War One action! Having been down the WWII road in Series 1, it looks like we’re in for barbed wire, trenches and gunfire aplenty.


FROM: Either Human Nature / Family of Blood or Blink

The rumour going around that Blink is shot from the point of view of the monster leads us to think that this might be from that episode. Who’s the girl, and is the balloon significant (let’s face it, probably not!)?


FROM: No idea…

BUT we do love this shot and the preceding shot of the Doctor as the colour grading is really cool, making the scene look very filmic. Nice work!


FROM: Utopia (?)

The ending of Torchwood made out like the TARDIS had landed inside the Hub, but given that RTD says that Jack has the best entrance ever of a companion, perhaps it instead lands upstairs, and Jack has to do a flying leap to catch it? This seems even more likely given that the TARDIS sound effect runs over this scene.


FROM: No idea

This season’s ‘Emergency Protocol’-hologram scene?


FROM: Human Nature / The Family of Blood

Surely the oddest-looking villain for a while. We love the way he says ‘RUUUUUUUN’. Sea-horse powered guns though?


FROM: Final episode?

Action shot – what are the keys around their necks for?


FROM: ???

Forum speculation already has this being the reforming of Gallifrey, though we doubt it (even if that’s one of our predictions for the year). Whatever is out there has some shape – a piece of machinery perhaps? What we want to know is… where’s Martha in all of this? Pete’s convinced that Martha and the Doctor get separated before the season is out. Will we have a companion-less finale?


FROM: The Sound of Drums

The coolest image from the trailer, bar none. There’s at least two dead (or drugged) people in the room, with Mr Saxon breathing through a gas mask. It’s the same room as in Aliens of London (the Cabinet Room), so we presume that this is Downing St. Check out the ring as well – the same markings that were present in The Lazarus Experiment, and which bear some resemblance to…


Thanks to Freema Agyeman’s fansite for the screen caps above

Dalek, I don’t love you no more

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

Daleks in Manhattan logo

There was a time when the Dalek stories were the ones to look out for each season, especially during the new series. Their appearances in Dalek, and the two series finales have been must-sees. As such, it was surprising to watch the first part of this season’s Dalek story and not feel anything. Where’s my Dalek love gone?

To sum everything up (there’s already been more than enough written about this episode), visually it’s very impressive (1930s New York looks stunning – it’s as though The Mill have nicked a few gigabytes worth of WETA material left over from King Kong), but the episode (and the main villains for that matter) does seem a little… well… by-the-numbers.

It’s fine and all, but there doesn’t seem to be anything that special about the episode. We’re treated to a song and dance number sure, but that could quite easily have been dropped. The hybrid storyline is interesting, but am I the only one who found the ‘walking out of the Dalek casing’ to be a bit naff?

It already feels like DiM is going to be one of the lesser-remembered episodes of Series 3, and we’re only halfway through. My thought – give the Daleks a rest for a few years and then bring them back as the truly evil little bastards that we know and love, with an master plan that doesn’t involve property construction.

Oh and the accent isn’t that bad.


Coming (not) soon (enough!)

Sunday, May 6th, 2007


I love a good tease!

The latest Coming Soon trailer is a doozy – action, explosions, Jumping Jack, Derek Jacobi, burning eyes, scarecrows and perhaps most importantly a real indication that the second half of this season is going to be darker than anything we’ve seen before in the new series.

And another Mr Saxon ending… this time with him tapping out the theme tune on a glass table…. weird! Roll on June 30!