Our (almost) Daily Doctor Who Routine

I have been watching through original Doctor Who with my kids from the very first William Hartnell episode. We’re enjoying it, so I thought I’d share our DW routine to maybe inspire other parents, fans, or New Who folks to give it a try.

My pair are 7 and 9, and we’ve been watching from the very beginning for a while now. At this point we’re into Patrick Troughton’s last season. In fact, we’re now up to part three of  The Space Pirates.

Watching is a part of our morning school routine – get up, eat brekky, get dressed, brush hair, one 25 minute episode, then out to catch the school bus. If they’re going a bit slow I remind them, “If you don’t hurry up, there won’t be time for today’s Doctor Who!”

That gets them moving!

Every month or two they ask for some old Warner Brothers cartoons or My Little Pony for a few mornings, then I find them slightly more reluctant to break that habit and go back to DW. Kids like routine, so if the routine changes they quickly become comfortable with the new one. But after a few mornings I tell them that I’m watching the next episode of Who, if they don’t want to they can do something else. Within minutes of it starting they’re back in the groove and it’s our schoolday routine once more.

In fact, it’s too much a school routine. Come the holidays we’re flat out getting around to a single episode. But that’s okay, the break just makes us more eager for it when school starts again.

Now with showing them stories, I do my best to keep all the surprises. I don’t tell them anything about the episode we’re watching – except for when a companion dies. They like to know in advance on that stuff because they find it really upsetting. So I usually warn them at the start of the story, and again when the actual episode comes around.

With regards to hiding the surprises, I take the hiding info to silly extremes.

So episode 10 of The War Games is S06E44 and… wait… E45?!

I dump my DVDs down to the computer, and then across to a flash drive. On the flash drive the only info they have is what season and what episode number it is – no names. That way they have no idea of story lengths, which works especially well in the early era when episode length varied quite markedly. Not knowing when a story will end adds to the thrill for them. [1]

When starting a new story I’ve gotten into the habit of skipping the opening titles, too. That way they don’t get told it’s a Dalek story in the title, then have a bunch of characters talking about the evil enemy they’re up against, that they never quite get around to naming, only to have a “shock reveal” at the cliffhanger – Yes, I’m looking at you, Terry Nation!

I also refuse to tell them when a regeneration story is coming. Oh, the number of stories where the Doctor gets hurt and they start to worry that it’s a regeneration story. And of course that meant they were completely blindsided by Hartnell’s regeneration when it came about.

I suspect Troughton’s is going to shock them too, when the time comes. Of course now I’ve taken to pretending to film them towards the end of random episodes. First time I did it, they thought it was a regeneration, which was the point. Doing it a few more times before his last episode.

As an aside, I also managed to keep the Doctor’s regeneration into a woman quiet from my daughter.  Son found out three months out, but he did a great job of not telling his sister, so she got the full effect at the end of Capaldi’s run.

For me the lengths are worth it. When I was a kid, the only way to experience the majority of these stories was to read about them in novelisations, articles, or books. So when one finally, and often unexpectedly, got the chance to see them, you already knew that it was the first appearance of whatever, or that such and such left, or that the Doctor regenerated.

I’m trying to give them all the surprises I was denied.

I do it with films, too. Showed them Planet of the Apes as soon as they were old enough to understand the significance of the ending, but before it could be ruined for them because it’s a pop cultural touchstone. Same with the reveal in The Empire Strikes Back. I’ll do the same with Citizen Kane, Psycho, and Fight Club one day.

You might notice I’m avoiding spoilers here for everything I’m talking about. There’s always somebody for whom the thing you’re discussing is new. I feel in a more general discussion it doesn’t hurt to talk around such details because everyone who has seen it knows exactly what you mean, and you’re still saving the surprise for those that haven’t had the chance.

Some folks might think that kids wouldn’t take to the old show. Sorts of things I hear are the effects are too crappy for modern day kids, or the stories are too slow.

First up, my children are sci-fi savvy. They’ve seen a range of stuff including most of the Star Wars films, and when they recently saw this spaceship in Wheel in Space

Yes, this spaceship blew away kids who’ve seen Star Wars – you have to check your preconceptions

Their reaction was a genuine and enthusiastic “Oh wow!”

Children don’t view these things the way we do. We’re denying them a chance to connect with something if we decide for them that they won’t like it. It’s one thing to cater to their tastes and avoid things they find distressing, it’s another to hamstring storytelling variety without giving them the chance to experience it.

They have also seen various Ray Harryhausen films and the first Jurassic Park film. Shortly after Jurassic Park we watched Invasion of the Dinosaurs because I’d mentioned a DW story had dinosaurs. Here’s one of the dinosaurs –

This dinosaur is kinda the star, it appears all through the story, often in close up.

My children’s reaction? Well, initially there was a bit of “They look a bit rough,” but in a very short space of time, they were caught up in the story. They were scared for the characters, even though they could easily identify the use of puppets and Chromakey, and they got really upset when one dinosaur was being hurt.

This is the thing many adults forget. Children love stories. Effects and budget are only a delivery system for the storytelling.

Most kids are wonderfully empathic and thoughtful about appreciating a story on its own terms. That’s why even if you’re not good at reading stories aloud, they still love you doing it – they don’t care about the medium, they care about the story and characters.  You reading it to them adds an extra layer of special to that.

If the story and characters are good, it doesn’t matter to kids if it’s told with sock puppets, stick figures, or shadows. Yes, they like pretty graphics, but they care about good storytelling a lot more.

This also addresses the storytelling pace of old Doctor Who. Many children I know of like the slower pace. Old DW is told at a pace and in a way where everything is quite clear. The nature of television from that period demanded it because it was only ever made to be seen once and never again. Kids have time to take in the characters and the story and really get a handle on what is happening.

Children want to understand as much of the story as possible and the slower storytelling makes them feel more in control as an audience member.

Don’t get me wrong. My kids love fast paced stuff, but they seem to enjoy slower storytelling a lot more. And I don’t get anywhere near as many questions about what is happening. When I do get questions the answer is almost always, “Watch and listen, and you’ll find out.”

Also, with regards to pacing, even the slowest story is easy to take when only watched at the rate of one 25 minute episode per day. We’ve had a lot of stories that many adult fans consider boring (usually they’ve watched them in one sitting), where my kids have been demanding the next episode immediately, because they didn’t want to wait until the next day. I made them wait, of course!

I suppose the last element to address is watching reconstructions of the missing episodes. I go for telesnap reconstructions because, well, it’s usually photos from the actual story. Combined with the existing soundtracks, and occasionally a bit of existing footage, this is pretty much as close as one can get to watching a missing episode.

Again, this is something that a lot of adults seem to think kids won’t like. But it’s really no different to those Read-Along books that come with a CD (or tape, or record, if you’re an old bugger like me) where the story is told and you turn the page at the sound. They still sell these and it’s because children love them!

The telesnap reconstructions often have text on screen to explain bits of the action that aren’t obvious. When we started going through these stories I had to read out the actions for my daughter, but she’s old enough that she’s reading them all herself now.

The first story we watched that was reconstructed was Marco Polo, of course. Out of the first four stories, Marco Polo was my daughter’s favourite – even over the first Dalek story. The kids quickly got used to telesnap reconstructions to the point where my son would occasionally be halfway through an existing episode of a mostly missing story before he came out with, “Hey, this episode has footage!”

Much as I’m a Doctor Who fanboy, Marco Polo is one of the very few stories I’ve ever rated 10/10

There are of course official animated reconstructions of a few stories and episodes available on DVD. I haven’t shown the kids any of these as I personally find them highly variable. Some are very good, some feel somewhat lacklustre. I think Power of the Daleks is one of the best there is, but I still prefer the recon.

That said, I will let them watch the animated ones on later viewings, if that’s their preference.  For now, I want them to get the as close as possible to the original experience.  Many of the telesnap reconstructions can be found on Youtube now!

There are also numerous fan animations on Youtube. I steer clear of most of these as I just found too many that decided to make things cooler by adding in elements that wouldn’t have been doable in the original show, such as flying Daleks in the jungles of Kembel, or sweeping impractical camera moves.

And as I said, my kids have been completely fine with the telesnap recons. They react to revelations and excitement at about the same level as they do with existing stories.

So that’s it. That how we’ve been approaching watching from the beginning. It’s also been good because there were a handful of Troughton stories I’d never gotten around to seeing, and I got to watch a couple of them for the first time ever with my kids. Have seen two of them, now just have Space Pirates and War Games[2] to go!

If you’re someone with children who has been thinking about watching the classic series, I’d recommend it. Experiencing these stories with my children has allowed me to view the show through fresh eyes, which has been something of a gift in itself. Seeing their excitement, the way they connect and get scared or elated – it’s really a lovely thing to share.

Cheers,
Danny

 

 

 


 
1. In fact, as we near the end of season 6, I’ve actually labelled the first few episodes of of the seventh season as S06E45, E46, E47 just to further muddy the waters. Kids are smart, they soon learn to pick up on little clues. BACK TO POST
  
 


  
2. Yes, I haven’t seen War Games. Some years ago I decided I wanted to see it in the context of the other stories. But every time I was working through all the Troughtons, I’d get most of the way through season 5 and something would happen to stop me watching for months and months.

So, when I was finally ready to go again, it’d been that long I either started again at the start of the Troughtons, or in one case, back at the Hartnells. And then life would blow up again at some point in season 5! BACK TO POST

Advertisements

Adventure in Space and Time, and Day of the Doctor

After dreading The Day of the Doctor because of Steven Moffat’s highly variable writing, I have to say I was very happy with it.  It’s a solid 8 out of 10 from me, which means it’s good.  It was fun, and humourous, and not overwrought or full of false drama.

An Adventure In Space and Time is harder for me to rate.  I know the history of that period fairly well.  And I really know about how the role of the Doctor changed Hartnell, brought so much joy to him, and also how he struggled.  And all that is captured so beautifully by the writing of Mark Gatiss and the acting of David Bradley.

So it’s hard for me to rate because I had to, literally, stop the vid at least seven times as I bawled uncontrollably.  Seriously, I was a giant mess.  Most of that crying was at the sweetness and kindness shown to Hartnell, and a bit was at those heartbreaking moments when you knew an ill and insecure man was about to be hurt.

In all honesty, I have never had any film affect me as deeply as this one.  I typed the last paragraph and this one with tears in my eyes at the memory of it.

So, I think it may be a 9 or a 10 out of 10, but I’ll need to rewatch it first and I’m not sure I’m quite up to it again yet.

But I will rewatch both, because it’s become obvious I need to run through references and Easter Eggs for people.  Not sure when I’ll get them done, though I’ll try to get to them as soon as I can.

Here’s just a couple…

In The Day of the Doctor, when the character of the Doctor is getting described, there is at least one quote from the 1972 book, “The Making of Doctor Who” by Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke – “He is never cruel or cowardly.”

IMG_3356

Glass Daleks, everlasting matches, and a car crash on a dark night – this book has it all.

Also, the very start of An Adventure In Space and Time has Hartnell pulling up on Barnes Common on a dark and foggy night, and pausing to look at a real police box.  In the very first Doctor Who book, “Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks,” David Whitaker tells a different version of how Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright meet the Doctor and Susan. And it all happens on Barnes Common, on a dark and foggy night.

The opening location from Adventure in Space and Time is also replicated for The Day of the Doctor.  It’s not the same location (I thought it was but closer inspection showed houses in the background of the Hartnell scene), but they’ve gone for as close a match as possible.  It’s way too close to be a coincidence.

There were many other references, of course, so I’ll get on it.  But until I do, I’ll try to finish my edit of the Series Six Moffat’s Master Plan article within the next few days to hold you over.

The People the Doctor is Building…

So two years ago I wrote this piece about the overall impact Doctor Who has had on my life.

I said most of what I had to say back then, but being a couple of years later, life moves on and there’s some new thoughts to add on the subject.  The link to Doctor Who this time may not be as immediately obvious, but it’s just as strong.

Verity Lambert - all it took was a little faith and belief, and 50 years on we're still reaping the benefits of her vision.

Thank you Verity – the show you helped create has made countless lives better and richer.

The education in equality I got through my time in Doctor Who fandom has stayed strong. My daughter has certainly been given the same opportunities as her brother, while being allowed to grow and develop as her own person.

So before she was three years old, she’d helped me change the headlights on my car, helped me saw, nail, and screw wood together, and has been up in the roof with me.  She’s no good at any of it, but she enjoys herself nevertheless.

I’ll come back to that attitude later.

She’s even more unstoppable than my son. A month or two back, while climbing along the log-pile after being warned that she could get hurt, but being allowed to do it anyway because kids should be allowed to take risks, she took a truly epic fall. It involved an accidental somersault, a falling log, and a hefty bump on the noggin.

Naturally I went to her, held her, and explained again as I have a few times in the past that sometimes doing the good stuff means risking harm. One has to accept that some things have the potential to come with a price we’d rather not pay, but it’s hard to live the life one wants, or become the person one wishes to be, without accepting the risks and inevitable damage that may sometimes occur.

After a couple of minutes, still crying a little, she disengaged my arms and climbed back up onto the woodpile at the point where she had fallen. I asked her what she was doing.

“I want to see if I can finish.”

And she continued her climb all the way to the end. There’s a reason I call her GodZoe. Like Godzilla, she’s more a force of nature than anything else.

My 5yo son is growing and changing. He loves learning for the sake of it, and testing himself, though he’s a lot more likely to give up on things than his sister. We’re teaching him it’s okay to ask for help, but you should be willing to have a good try too.  He’s starting to be able to read, and the other day he counted to a thousand, because he’d never done it before. I had to keep reminding him what number he was up to, but he got there.

He still likes his hair long, and he wears dresses occasionally, which naturally leads to some confusion as people mistake him for a girl. When this happens he politely tells them he’s a boy. He’s had one or two people tell him boys don’t wear dresses, or have long hair. His reply is very matter of fact.

“Are girls allowed to have short hair?”
“Yes.”
“Can girls wear pants?”
“Yes.”
“Then boys can wear dresses and have long hair.”

My post-stroke health continues to improve, mostly because I know my limitations.  What I mean by that is that I know there’s stuff I have trouble with, and shouldn’t do, and I regularly try to do those things anyway.

And I fail, a lot.

Knowing my limitations doesn’t means staying in my broken little box. It means that those times when I can’t function, or I try to push past the boundaries of the box and fail, that’s okay.  Most failure isn’t a bad thing unless you let it be, the rest of the time it’s simply another way of learning.

Knowing my limitations means I try to choose my battles carefully. I don’t mean I go for the battles I can win – where’s the fun in that?  I mean I choose the things worth fighting to achieve, no matter the odds, what value others assign to the goal, or how likely I am to fail.

It’s the trying that matters, not the success.

Accepting my failure to cope or succeed is only a problem if I let the lack of success define me and what I attempt to do.  As long as I keep trying to do the things that add to my life or the lives of others, that’s what’s important.  If I’m never be able to sing, or dance, or run, or write, or paint, or build, or do any one of a hundred other things as well as I’d like, so long as I want to do them, as long as I don’t hurt others, I should keep going.

Some folks find me confronting.   I’m not entirely safe.  I’ll get naked to dance in the outback or pose with a Dalek.  If I like people I don’t hold anything back in my love and enthusiasm for them, even if I’ve known them five minutes.  Male or female, I want to hug them, to let them see themselves through my eyes for a change so they can see how beautiful and amazing they can be.  I want to stretch them, show them the huge gulf between who they define themselves to be, and who they could be.  You don’t do that by being safe and comfortable. I want them to know their limitations so they can start kicking at them.

People are awesome.

Oh, there are always some individuals who aren’t, but the vast majority want to be better than they are.  They want to learn and grow.  Most only need someone to believe in them.  That can be me, you, or some random person they meet for two minutes at the bus stop.

We aren’t born afraid to try.  We don’t start out with a fear of failure.  As children we learn through success and failure.  And tears, and frustration, and joy, and because others encourage us.  We only learn to be afraid of what people think later, just as we learn to be afraid of how we perceive ourselves, or how others may perceive us.

Find the people who believe in you, and use that belief to fight for the things you want, for yourself and others.  Embrace the risks knowing full-well you are going to fail some of the time, but that that doesn’t matter because at least you’ll fail doing something that matters to you.

Life isn’t about reaching the destinations you’ve got your heart set on, it’s about how you live during the scary and fun-filled adventure on the way.  Embrace the fear, accept the detours, and just go with it.

We can all be somebody’s Doctor, just as we can all be somebody’s companion.  Both roles are equally important in finding out who we really are, and becoming who we have the potential to be.

Remember how to be that curious, delighted, and unafraid child once more.  Embrace it, start running, and don’t ever stop.

Cheers, my freaky darlings!

Mickey and Martha – a new angle that makes my skin crawl…

Talking with my lovely wife about some of the issues with New Who and the unlikely destinies of its companions, and Martha got brought up, along with the fact that she married Mickey.

Now it’s been well documented by many folks that it was an annoying thing to happen, partially because she already had the lovely Tom Milligan as her fiancé, but mostly because the only two black members of the cast got married off to one another.

However, talking about it just now Sharon mentioned an angle I hadn’t thought of and I haven’t seen mentioned before – Martha couldn’t get to be with the Doctor because, in her mind, he was still in love with Rose.

So then Martha went off and eventually got married to Rose’s cast-off.

You got rejected by Rose, I got rejected by the Doctor – Of Course we got married!

There is no way the internet can contain the level of ick I am currently feeling.

The Moffat Master Plan – Series 5

Warning – Some spoilers for Pyramids of Mars, Image of the Fendahl, Mawdryn Undead and Father’s Day. Major spoilers for City of Death, all of series five, and bits of series six and seven.

Steven Moffat’s first season, series 5, blew me away. I still think it’s his strongest by far and it seemed a very canny and clever beginning to his run. It was enough like Russell Davies’ era Doctor Who not to alienate the fans who had come on board in the last few years, while at the same time gradually shifting the mythos.

The theory I quickly developed, as I watched that season for the first time, was that Moffat was going to slowly remove the seeming godhood that had been bestowed on the Doctor. To take him back to being a simple wanderer who wasn’t known to absolutely everybody. I suspect he’s still heading in that direction, but it’s become more distorted with time, and Moffat’s admitted fear of the audience becoming bored, so he seems to keep straying back and forth.  I may well be wrong.  I hope I’m not.

After becoming disenchanted during series six, to the point where for the first time in my entire life I didn’t care about the show by the end of the season, I went back to look through series five again to get the taste out of my mouth.

While I knew it was not a perfect run, it was solid, held together, and made sense.

Or did it? Continue reading

The Moffat Master Plan – Prelude…

Since coming back in 2005, Doctor Who has become a show based firmly on the Buffy model. An over arcing story for the season, with episodes that build the arc peppered throughout the run, usually building up to a major conflict and/or big bad.

The original series had done arc story-lines before, but generally handled them differently. The very first Hartnell season when viewed as a whole is about the first Doctor learning to be a hero from his human companions. Other seasons had ongoing stories or themes. Season sixteen was all about the Key to Time. Season eighteen had the constant theme of decay and stagnation, and also incorporated two trilogies of stories before it put the universe itself in direct peril for only the third time in the show’s history.

For instance, the arc for season 8 was about how the Master loves being a complete dick to the Doctor. I didn't say it was a complex or clever arc.

For instance, the arc for season 8 was about how the Master loves being a complete dick to the Doctor.
I didn’t say it was a complex or clever arc.

Since coming back, the enforced arcs building to big end of season showdowns have given us the potential end of the universe five times in seven years. Where the original series was contented to simply try to end the series with a solid story, admittedly not always successfully, the new series by its nature has to try to give us a massive, ‘important’ story to finish the season with.

One of the problems with this is the perceived need to build-up to that finale. Russell Davies’ way of handling this was to have a word or phrase pop up throughout the season, keeping the audience guessing until the end where we would then find out what it referred to.

It wasn’t always successful, and as story or arc building goes, it really is a bit light on. It makes a show of knowing where it’s headed, while really not doing much in the way of work toward actually layering hints or clues. Indeed, the very first year Bad Wolf wasn’t originally intended to be anything special. Before the series aired, the fans went nuts over leaked pictures trying to figure out what the graffiti on the TARDIS meant, figuring it had a deeper meaning. Davies decided to start layering it in to bait them, without any real idea where it was headed. The truth is, Bad Wolf originally had no more importance to the show than than being a one-off piece of random graffiti on the TARDIS.

I am Bad Wolf.  I reached this conclusion in a completely illogical way, but I'm allowed to do that because I'm Bad Wolf.  So Blah!

I am Bad Wolf. I reached this conclusion in a completely illogical way, but I’m allowed to do that because I’m Bad Wolf. So Blah!

The problem with constructing an arc is, you have to be on your game. If you’re really going to build up an over-arcing mystery to a satisfying conclusion, one that will hold up to basic scrutiny, you need to think about where you’re headed and plan carefully for that future destination.

Instead of being a show about the adventures and the people the Doctor and his friends meet, it has become a series about the Doctor and his companions. Hence the continual need to have companions who idolise, fancy, or romantically love the Doctor, and the end of season stories often involving things that directly affect members of the TARDIS crew on a personal level, usually leading to unlikely destinies for those characters.

The destinies of the companions these days make some of the surprise sudden departures due to unforeseen romances and the like from the old series look brilliantly restrained.

K9 and Leela elope together leaving the Doctor alone once more.

K9 and Leela elope together leaving the Doctor alone once more.

Doctor Who as a series now isn’t about the stories, it’s about the season’s clues. Fans obsess over any little detail that might have something to do with that season’s arc. All too often stories are treated by fans a means to get the hints to the finale, rather than having a point in and of themselves. The fact that the story may be an excellent stand-alone is considered less important than the arc. Indeed, some stories are badly hurt by having aspects of the arc poorly grafted in.

Once Steven Moffat took over, he made a show of having a better idea of how to layer in hints and clues that would pay off. Certainly his first season had some very clever story-telling scattered and hinted at throughout. But for every bit that pays off and works, there are several other bits that don’t hold together.

Now, in fairness, virtually no series can hold up to close inspection. There will always be bits where things are a bit hand-wavey, or simply don’t add up or hold together. However, in turning Doctor Who into a show where the clues scattered throughout are meant to be of crucial importance, in actively inviting the audience to pay close attention and to treat all manner of things and moments as potentially being vital story elements, it also invites us to be more critical of when these things don’t add up.

Moffat’s storylines are full of glaring inconsistencies. While it’s painted as an incredible layered puzzle, in fact it’s even less well constructed than Davies’ run.

I’m usually the guy who is surprised by all the plot holes and such I haven’t spotted that my friends have. Minutes after watching something, when others are saying, “But what about the such-and-such?” I’m sitting there amazed that I missed the errors that seemed so obvious to others. In fact, it’s become one of my judging criteria – if I don’t spot an issue until after the film or episode is over, I figure they’ve done a good job. But if I spot it while watching it for the first time, if it’s something so glaring that it spoils my suspension of disbelief, then they must have been pretty bloody slack for someone as clueless as me to spot the issue.

I’ve spotted a lot of issues with Moffat’s seasons on a first viewing.

And in going through them to research for this little run of posts, I’ve found even more inconsistencies. So over the next few articles I’m going to run through the season arcs in detail, since the new series wants us paying such close attention.

I’ve suffered for my obsession, and now it’s your turn.

Here are a few of questions that have yet to be answered.

  • When will we see the fall of the Eleventh on the Fields of Trenzalore? Because surely the events in The Name of the Doctor don’t count as the fall…
  • The Silence wanted to stop the Doctor from answering “the question that must never be asked.” His name. But he didn’t answer that question at Trenzalore when asked it, so is that arc now over?
  • Why does the “Most Important Leaf in the Universe” change to a radically differently shaped leaf? (Actually I know the answer to this one, and it’s both really annoying and quite telling)
  • So who was it wanted to blow up the TARDIS in the first place in Pandorica Opens?
  • Who was saying, “Silence will fall,” in the TARDIS?

Except for the leaf, I can actually see a couple of ways to tie these questions together and give some satisfactory answers. And I really hope Moffat does just that. I’d love to have all those elements that have annoyed me be explained or retconned in a way that works.

It’d be nice to have faith in the writing again.

Classic Who – Enemy of the World & Web of Fear!

I wrote the previous time some episodes were found about my feelings on the discovery of any episode, no matter how good or bad.  I also included in that piece advice for those wishing to experience the complete series even though so much is still missing.

This time I want say a brief word about the stories, and simply enthuse about things I’m looking forward to seeing.

d2-2p-006

Enemy of the World – Troughton gets to show off his acting chops in this story, as he plays the Doctor and the villainous Salamander. It’s a 60’s spy thriller Doctor Who story, with a strange sf twist towards the end. It also handles things differently, by having most of the cliffhangers be about moments of surprise and emotion, rather than actual danger.

Looking forward to – I think if I were to pick only one, I’d most want to see the part six Salamander/Doctor face-off in the TARDIS. From the telesnaps it looks like they used rear projection to have Troughton facing himself, and I sort of want to see that in action.

Other than that, episodes one and five have a fair bit of action going on, so that’d be nice to actually see.  But the real strength of this story is as a character piece, and I’m so looking forward to seeing the actors in action, rather than just hearing them.

d2-2q-020

Web of Fear – It’s the weaker of the two Great Intelligence stories, but that doesn’t make it bad. This is one that I think is likely to be majorly helped by getting returned, given its real strength seemed to lay in its visuals and atmosphere.

Looking forward to – Oh if only part 3 were moving footage so we could have Colonel Lethbridge Stewart’s first appearance, but can’t complain. Well I can, but given I never expected to see any more of this story, that seems churlish.  Besides will hopefully be able to see that next year.

On audio the last 10-15 minutes of part 4 is utterly brutal, and while it may be that the realisation on screen will be less intense than it was on audio, the surviving clips from that episode are pretty scary and left me literally open-mouthed in shock.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how it is shot.

And needless to say, while I’ve waited my whole Doctor Who fan-life to see these, I’m only going to watch them one episode a night – the way they’re meant to be seen 🙂

Classic Who – The Valeyard and Regenerations

There are two things you need to know before we can talk about the Valeyard as being or idea. The first is that the concept for the character builds on, and is inspired by, the handling of regeneration from as far back as the second Doctor.  The second and more important, is that the character came up at a time when the script editor and producer were at odds with one another – drastically affecting the quality of the whole season in which the Valeyard was featured, and the way he was eventually handled.

I’m going to try to minimise spoilers, so if I’m oddly vague about something that you think is common knowledge, be aware I’m trying to let people less well versed in the show’s history still have some of these surprises.  Personally, if I know I’m going to read a specific book, or watch a specific film, I will usually avoid reading anything about it just so I can experience it as freshly as possible.  That said, some spoilers are going to be unavoidable, especially when I talk about the Trial of a Time Lord season, and the Valeyard.  There will almost certainly be spoilers in any comments.

One of the genius ideas with regards to Doctor Who was the whole concept of the lead character being able to change appearance, allowing the show a longevity far beyond what most actors would be able to achieve. Continue reading

Classic Who – The Martian Legacy

(A delayed post – I started writing this last year, then suddenly it’s the day before a new Ice Warrior story.  So here it is with a quick final edit, for those of you who want a taster for what went before.)

d2-2o-037

Given they only ever had four televised stories (until tomorrow), it says a lot about the Ice Warriors that 38 years after their last televised adventure, they are still a popular alien race. They’ve been given a lot of life beyond those original TV tales with numerous appearances in comics, novels, and audio plays.  Here I’ll just concentrate, in as non-spoilery a way as possible, on their televised appearances.

I think the key to the Ice Warriors’ popularity is that they are a rare race within the Doctor Who universe in that their plans and motivations are different in each of the stories in which they featured.  While Daleks and Cybermen have more appearances, their stories are substantially less varied – those creations stopped being a race of aliens and became monsters – whereas the Ice Warriors changed organically over the course of their stories. Continue reading

The Rings of Akhaten, and the importance of clarification in writing…

Major Spoilers below the cut for The Rings of Akhaten, as I complain about how people miss the stuff that is spelled out clearly, and talk about the importance of clarity with regards to a story’s finale, and how modern Doctor Who seems unconcerned with such things. No major spoilers for Citizen Kane, though there are a couple of minor thematic ones.

Let me start by stating one thing very, very clearly – I really liked The Rings of Akhaten.

People talk about Doctor Who having a sense of wonder, but seldom is that evoked as clearly and beautifully as it is in this story.  Forget the visuals, there are some conceptual ideas within this tale that are wonderful and lovely, and the main story does justice to them. I think this is another Dinosaurs on a Spaceship[1], where people get so caught up in one or two details, they cheat themselves out of appreciating just how beautiful the core of the story is.

Continue reading