Archive for December, 2013

The Smith Era

Saturday, 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?


Fast Return – November 2013

Monday, 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…