This is my Doctor Who blog.   Leave a comment

So, hi.

Sometimes I just want to babble about Doctor Who and not torment my friends. Sometimes I’m not interested in other people’s opinions. Sometimes no one cares what I think. And so I created my own place to put that stuff, where no one else has to see it and I can say what I like.

SPOILERS, SWEETIE!

I talk about what I see, when I see it, and I’m not waiting for you. If you don’t want to spoil anything, check the Categories for stuff you already know.

You have been warned.

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Posted September 8, 2014 by Elisabeth in Piffle

“Run!”   Leave a comment

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Two years ago I took terrible pictures of Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie at my city’s very own Comic Con. Last year, David Tennant and Catherine Tate took their place on that same stage – but I, for an assortment of personal reasons, was absent. This year I resolved to attend, buying my pass nearly 10 months in advance. My boldness was richly rewarded.

It was my Doctor’s first US con. He was charming, gracious, sincere, authentic, and funny. He told stories from his life and from his heart. He teased gently and with love. He spoke honestly of his difficulties after the show, difficulties that US fans never witnessed but only heard about third-hand. We, the audience, finally got to show him who he was for us: our Doctor. He was wonderful, delightful… fantastic.

In a strange twist, Rose Tyler also appeared at the con, a last-minute billing after Matt Smith canceled. I was as thrilled to see her as I was my Doctor, but the experience was far from the same. She was sweet, kind, appreciative, but superficial. I didn’t feel like I knew her any better afterward than I did before. Nor did the two ever share the stage like Capaldi and Mackie did. If I’d just seen Billie Piper, I’d have been disappointed.

Good thing the Doctor was there to save the day.

Following the con, I felt compelled to rewatch “Rose” again. (#6? #7?) It’s still delightful; the childlike humor offsets the horror and the honest heart of it makes the whole thing real. The performances shine as they did the first time I watched them. It’s dated, yes – “Rose” will be 15 next year – but gold never loses its glow.

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And I love it.

End of an era   Leave a comment

Terrance Dicks died today.

The pairing of Dicks and producer Barry Letts oversaw one of the most successful stretches of DW stories. Together they cast both Third and Fourth Doctors; made the Doctor both action hero and pacifist; told stories about environmentalism, feminism, and the dangers of capitalism; created Sarah Jane Smith; made UNIT a major character. Dicks also adapted a large majority of Target novelizations, making DW accessible to latecomers in a time when a show aired once and then disappeared forever. His interviews appear in many DVD special features. He literally wrote the book on the Doctor: “never cruel or cowardly” are his words.

I was going to buy the Third Doctor box set anyway; now it will be extra special.

ETA Obituary by Toby Hadoke

Posted September 2, 2019 by Elisabeth in Classic, Writers and Writing

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First, Last   Leave a comment

And so we come upon the end of the First Doctor.

“The Tenth Planet” is notable for its firsts: first among them, the first regeneration. In spite of reported low ratings the previous season, decision-makers felt the show important enough to keep, even via drastic measures. Even if it meant recasting the lead. William Hartnell’s illness had become untenable; the show could not go on with him, and so it would have to go on without him.

Thus for the first time the Doctor fades away before his companions’ eyes, and some new person takes his place.

The other big first in this finale is the Cybermen. At last the duo of Kit Pedler – spelled wrong again, in a different way – and Gerry Davis combine in the manner that would make them famous and see them credited together unto the end of time. Fabric-faced, modulator-voiced metal people from Mondas arrive aboard their ambulatory, dying planet and attempt to steal the life of Earth. It blows up, literally, in their faces – but not before the terror of it threatens the Doctor and his companions and the safety of every living thing.

A few bits of fun:

  • The story takes place in 1986, and travel to the moon has been just recently achieved. Writers in 1966 did not realize how much closer that vision was to reality.
  • In a 180 from the previous serial, this story’s token black character is a lead astronaut. He still gets killed though.
  • The Doctor himself is fairly minimal in this one. He naps for an episode; begs for peace and patience; is proved right, as always; and quietly passes away on the TARDIS floor. His last conscious act is to open the door, literally and metaphorically, to his friends.
  • The bits of overlap with “Twice Upon a Time” are beyond delightful. So glad Peter Capaldi got his wish – and David Bradley made his return!

Next: Patrick Troughton makes possible more than 50 years of fandom and history, in “The Power of the Daleks.”

Posted August 29, 2019 by Elisabeth in Classic, The Long Way Round

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Smugglers   Leave a comment

“The Smugglers” is not very exciting. Even though the final episode is one big swordfight, the reconstruction suffers from poor quality source material and a particularly bad racial stereotype.

It was, however, the first story directed by a woman: Julia Smith, future co-creator of EastEnders.

A few items of interest:

  • The Doctor doubles down on his inability to control the TARDIS, so Ben and Polly find themselves unwilling passengers after all. (I guess Dodo was just lucky.)
  • The Doctor refuses to leave when the opportunity arises, feeling responsible for the safety of the village threatened by pirates. I’m not sure it’s the first time he’s made such a decision, but it’s far from the last.
  • It’s hard to be sure given the poor audio quality, but I believe the Doctor also tries to help the main villain, giving him one last chance to surrender peacefully before the law. Of course the villain chooses death.
  • Ben and Polly are wonderful. Courageous, clever, determined; Polly sees adventure in everything, and Ben can really fight! I ship it.

Posted August 17, 2019 by Elisabeth in Classic, The Long Way Round

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Eleventh/Breath   Leave a comment

“Deep Breath” is not very.

I watched the 12th Doctor’s first story at least three times when it first came out. I loved Capaldi, and I loved the continuity jokes. Even then, though, I recognized that it wasn’t much of a story.

It does set up a couple of things. One, the Doctor’s fascination with his new face, which comes up later when Moffat decides to reference Capaldi’s first appearance, but which makes no sense when combined with Two: the Doctor’s face blindness. This odd characteristic may serve for a few jokes, and to explain why he doesn’t recognize his old frenemy when he meets her, as other incarnations have done. But it isn’t explained properly, and ends up coming across throughout the season as inappropriate commentary on Clara’s appearance.

Overall, it’s less a launching point for a new Doctor than an apology for the previous one: we don’t flirt (except that we do), this isn’t a show about sex (never mind the crotch shot), and Clara attempts to deflect charges of shallowness by being even more shallow. Eleven’s phone call from Trenzalore is almost the best scene, and the only one that rings true for both the Doctor and Clara.

“The Eleventh Hour,” on the other hand, is a cracking good story. Amelia, Amy, and Rory are wonderfully developed, solid characters. This Doctor’s first outing is all Doctor Who.

Its only detriment, which as can be seen from “Deep Breath” Moffat was hard pressed to shake, is the sexual element: crotch shot over Big Ben, leg shot introducing Amy, porn on the laptop, ogling the Doctor. Leave these out and the story is perfect. I can even accept Amy as kissogram; on its own, it’s a component of the character, and doesn’t have to be sexualized so strongly.

If I had to rank them, so far “Eleventh Hour” and “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” would be neck and neck. “Deep Breath” isn’t even in the race.

Posted August 17, 2019 by Elisabeth in Commentary

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Machines of War   Leave a comment

On my second pass through “The War Machines,” the first thing that strikes me is the setting: 1960’s London.

The Doctor picked up Ian and Barbara there, and their entire arc consisted of his repeated failures to get them home. Once they’re gone, however, it doesn’t take him long to land there again, picking up Dodo in the same time period.* Worse, he then returns her with no difficulty, only a few months (if that) after she left. Has he gotten the hang of the TARDIS? Or have the writers gotten tired of not being able to use their own era, and taken advantage of the non-hostage condition of later companions to exercise some “contemporary” ideas?

The story is a good one, as I’ve touched on before. A few new observations:

  • The team behind the Cybermen appear together for the first time. Gerry Davis has been script editor since “The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve.” Kit Pedler, science adviser, receives an idea credit for the story – though his name is misspelled.
  • Contract expiration is to blame for Dodo’s awkward off-screen departure.
  • Ben and Polly are instantly charming, and instantly inseparable. Each has the qualities expected of modern companions: self-assurance, passion, kindness, courage, and an interest in the world outside themselves.
  • The story’s computer-inspired titles are entirely unique and very of their era.
  • The War Machines, and their human co-conspirators, strongly resemble Daleks in the manners and single-mindedness.

Up next: “The Smugglers,” entirely missing and nearly the end of the First Doctor!

*It isn’t stated, but “An Unearthly Child” is presumed to take place in 1963. Similarly, the appearance of Dodo at the end of “The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve” is suggested to be contemporary, taking place in 1966. However, upon arrival in London at the start of this story, Dodo notices the nearby Post Office tower, commenting that it’s been finished. It was finished in 1964, implying that Dodo must have left then or slightly earlier – that is, just about the same time as the Doctor originally collected Ian and Barbara.

ETA In “The Smugglers,” Ben insists on 1966, so presumably that’s when they left Dodo.

Savage is…   Leave a comment

“The Savages” is a cracking story.

I expected cringeworthy 60s racism, but I did not expect that racism to be so self-aware or current. Instead of cavemen, the savages are in fact the elevated, educated elite, their culture sustained by the unwilling sacrifice of the powerless – a condition we can all recognize.

I’m reminded again of Omelas.

In spite of its problems – one-woman syndrome, poorly thought out companion exit, reconstruction scraped up from very low quality source material – the story is captivating, fast paced, well told, and overall, a vast improvement on its predecessors. In its clumsy, somewhat simplistic way, Doctor Who tries to do something important. It’s an effort worth making – and worth watching.

And once again, pay attention to the teenage girl. She’s not making this up.

Posted August 8, 2019 by Elisabeth in Classic, The Long Way Round

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