Archive for the ‘Guest stars’ Category

The Web Crusade   Leave a comment

“The Web Planet” is mostly unbearable. The story creeps along like cold syrup. Ridiculous aliens wave their hands and hop inexplicably. Giant ants shriek like evil emergency services. Six episodes seem to last ten hours.

“The Crusade” is nearly its opposite. Tight pacing and spectacular performances by Julian Glover, Jean Marsh, and Bernard Kay make four episodes fly. A pure historical, it’s free of badly costumed monsters, and even the villains leave the scenery mostly unchewed.

The companions follow essentially the same script for both. Barbara, self-rescuing princess, is captured and escapes ad nauseum, while gallant (Sir) Ian mostly hurts himself trying to save her. Vicki fills the granddaughter role more effectively than the granddaughter ever did, putting her faith in the Doctor and receiving his earnest affection in return. The Doctor lies, cheats, and steals, occasionally giggling like a lunatic, and everyone has a good laugh (at Ian’s expense, generally) at the end.

“The Crusade” is half missing; the Loose Cannon version includes a delightful introduction by an elderly William Russell as Ian looking back on his adventures. The telesnap reconstruction is hard to follow in places, but the available video – and Julian Glover – more than make up for any shortcomings.

Seriously, though, this cast:

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No hopping Opteras here.

It’s not without its flaws, of course. The Crusades were a campaign of religiously motivated destruction that set Arabic civilization back hundreds of years. Did Richard really travel all that way to sue for peace? Or did he partake eagerly of the spoils of murdering the infidel? Glover’s Lionheart of course is full of the glory and honor of Great Britain, even as he offers his sister’s body as currency. Colonialist undertones are difficult to ignore – as is the little extra shading in Bernard Kay’s makeup. I’m grateful now for Malorie Blackman, Vinette Robinson, Vinay Patel, and Leena Dhingra, among others, but we still have a long way to go.

Nor is “The Web Planet” entirely without merit. In spite of the costumes and characterization, it’s hard not to feel something when a felt-footed Optera gives her life to save another race. It’s hard not to be inspired when a bunch of fuzzy butterflies call their comrades home to rebuild. With 1965 technology and a BBC budget, the DW team set out to tell a grand story, alien but humane. I for one can forgive them for falling short.

Next, we depart Earth once more for “The Space Museum.”

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Time Ladies!   1 comment

I may have a new favorite blog: The Time Ladies

Not only do they have an excellent interview with DWM’s Emily Cook, with a “behind the scenes” series promised to follow, and of course a whole host of other lady-focused DW goodness, but they had a thing I didn’t know! A thing I was so excited to learn!

Black Panther‘s delightful Shuri was once on Doctor Who!

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Ok, maybe not that exciting for anyone but me. Still, I felt I knew her when I saw her, but my (obviously too cursory) review of imdb did not turn anything up. I feel vindicated – not to mention thrilled that such a favorite was once a part of my show! ❤

As far as the Time Ladies go, the writing is quite good* and the topics interesting and varied. I expect to lose lots of time down that rabbit hole.

 

*ETA in spite of some flagrant apostrophe abuse…

Posted March 29, 2018 by Elisabeth in Cool Stuff, Guest stars

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Eaters of Light and other monsters   2 comments

Lady creators are on my mind of late. I’ve seen Wonder Woman twice, with a possible third pending later this week. Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot are heroes of the hour. Rachel Talalay’s third two-part season finale blasts into space next week. And now, I’ve finally spent some time with Rona Munro.

First, “Survival.” The ironically-titled final serial of classic DW is – like much of the rest of DW – a good story marred by questionable effects and costumes. Still, its heart is there. The final line – written not by Munro but by script editor Andrew Cartmel once he learned that the show was definitely not coming back – is a lovely bittersweet conclusion to 26 years of madcap adventure. The influence of Ace on Rose is glaringly apparent. Costar Anthony Ainley and showrunner John Nathan Turner would not live to see the show’s return. Lisa Bowerman, who played furry Karra in blazing heat, returned as Bernice Summerfield for 50-plus (and counting) Big Finish audio stories – a few with Ace and the Seventh Doctor, but most on her own. Rona Munro went on to a full and fruitful career writing stage plays and radio dramas. And now she’s back.

“The Eaters of Light” features a strange segment of history with which I was not previously familiar: the disappearance of the 9th Roman Legion sometime in the second century. The episode makes fun use of the popular (if slightly out of date) theory that the 9th was annihilated by Celtic tribes in northern Britain. The tribes, in this case, had the assistance of an inter-dimensional photon vampire.

(I’m not sure about the physiology of this. There was a bit of hand-waving.)

First of all, I love the bookends of this episode. The Scottish setting (actually Wales according to guest star Rebecca Benson) is brooding and ethereal. The little girl who hears music coming out of the ground sets a creepy stage – and the truth about that music is at turns inspiring and sad.

I also really enjoyed the crows. (We replayed that one bit – it DID say “Master!”) Our neighborhood is full of crows: waking up to cries of “Kar” the following morning made me smile. I’ll certainly never listen to them the same way again. I also enjoy that the Doctor was wrong about them – “They’re not brooding, they’re remembering!”

I did wonder if the non-white Roman soldiers were going to cause a flap among that more annoying segment of fandom. I know very little of history generally, but given how widespread Rome’s impact and influence was, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that their garrisons would include people from all sorts of backgrounds. And if I’m wrong about that, I still think a show that features an inter-dimensional photon vampire can get away with a couple of black Romans. I appreciated that they weren’t both killed right away; I had my doubts after the first one.

The side characters in this episode get some wonderful depth. Of course to the Doctor all humans are children: our lives too short, our experiences too limited. But these “soldiers” are children even to Bill, young people far out of their depth and with a weight of responsibility on their untested shoulders. Together Bill and the Doctor take their hands and help them grow – and in the end, when the Doctor wants to keep holding on, to save them from the burdens of adulthood, Bill and the young people themselves demand that he let them go, to make their music under the hill for eternity.

(Again the precise logistics are mystifying – the Doctor claims his lifespan, his regenerative ability, make him the better choice to guard the gate, but somehow a handful of human soldiers can do the same job? Wave-wave.)

“I can’t promise you won’t die. But I can promise you won’t die in a hole in the ground.”

Other high points are the popcorn distraction and Nardole’s instant adaptation and acceptance into the community. I enjoyed Nardole more this episode than any since the Christmas special. The coming together of enemies as friends and partners is a trope I’ll never get tired of – and the Doctor’s speech on the topic is perfectly on point.

The denouement with Missy remains a mystery. I still don’t buy that she’s going to turn good, whatever the Doctor does. I think she’s fooling him on some level. But I also think she’s maybe going through something a little unexpected. Perhaps she’s really experiencing remorse or compassion in ways she thought herself safe from. Perhaps if not a full shift, she may still make a small one.

Husband and I expect her to sacrifice herself for the Doctor or a companion in the finale. (Will we see that regeneration – a new Master? or will it be a surprise for next time?)

Or will it be John Simm! When I first heard that he would return, I thought it unlikely; when I learned it was true, I realized we’ve had many multi-Doctor stories but never a multi-Master one, and how much fun would that be? We don’t know how the Master got from Simm to Gomez, or whether there were any versions in between, Simm’s Master having been sent back to the Time War with Rassilon in “The End of Time.”

On a related note, Derek Jacobi is returning as the Master for Big Finish. And in further speculation, there is the theory that in honor of Missy’s sacrifice the Doctor will next regenerate into a woman.

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PS   Leave a comment

MISSY.

Is she genuinely remorseful? I doubt it. Can she make a lasting change? Ditto. She will give the Doctor what he wants, right up until the moment she is free. Will she make an unexpected choice, in opposition to herself for once?

Quite possibly.

Gomez is magic under any circumstances. I’m heartbroken she won’t return after this series. I can’t wait to see her chew scenery with John Simm. When this is all over I’m rewatching every Green Wing and DW scene of hers in a row.

Every little thing…

Posted June 7, 2017 by Elisabeth in Guest stars, Piffle

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The Doctor’s (Late?) Wife   Leave a comment

I’ve always wondered about Idris. Before she became the vessel through which the TARDIS speaks, who was she? How did she end up on House? Was she a collection of mismatched limbs like Aunt and Uncle? Or a whole being, transported, like Nephew? How did she alone retain her name?

Of course she was bait: the fragile frame in which to trap a timeship’s soul. But how did House come by her? What life was left behind? Who loved her, mourned her, missed her? Who searched for her? What place did she fill on that unknown world, before she was stolen from her life, and her life stolen from her?

Imagine:

EXT: MARKETPLACE

THE DOCTOR ambles among the stalls, hands in his pockets, taking in the sights and sounds and smells. Ahead of him, a slim, dark-haired woman moves quickly from merchant to merchant, her back to him as she haggles for her flowers and her fruits. He pays her little mind – until abruptly she turns, and they find themselves face to face.

THE DOCTOR: You!

IDRIS: I’m sorry. Do I know you?

THE DOCTOR is speechless

CUT TO: MAIN TITLES

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“THE DOCTOR’S GHOST”

Are you afraid?

Other fun   Leave a comment

I recently stumbled across a show from a few years ago featuring not one but two of DW’s fabulous lady guest stars: Suranne Jones (Idris, “The Doctor’s Wife”) and Lesley Sharpe (Sky Silvestry, “Midnight”). The two co-star as police detectives in ITV’s Scott and Bailey: Jones as erratic but brilliant DC Rachel Bailey, nicknamed Sherlock, and Sharpe as her steady family-woman partner and best friend, DC Janet Scott. Just watching them together is treat enough, but the show as a whole fills a role rarely seen on television: police procedural drama led entirely by women, in front of and behind the camera.

The two main characters are women. Their boss is a woman. Most of the writers and directors are women. Minor characters – cops, victims, perpetrators – may be men or women. But the major male characters are love interests, exes, and comic relief. It’s a big switch for the genre, and a welcome one. The scripts are strong, the acting flawless. This isn’t a bone thrown to women: it’s the real thing, done really well. It’s a model for what half of all television should be.

Recommended for fans of police drama, as well as fans of these two spectacular actresses.

Posted March 17, 2017 by Elisabeth in Cool Stuff, Guest stars

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3fer   Leave a comment

The latest piece of DW news is full of win.

The Return Of…

On the surface it’s all about the baddies. Capaldi has not been shy about his hopes for an encounter with the original Cybermen of Mondas. They of the spooky cloth faces introduced their race in the First Doctor’s final episode, and were never seen again. Until now…

But the buried lead is even more fun. A while ago I observed the empty space where a director’s name ought to go on the final two episodes of the season. Given how the last two seasons ended, I was hoping for another round of Rachel Talalay. And indeed, my hopes are answered.

Last but not least is the inclusion of one final name in the major cast: Michelle Gomez. Of course I’d already heard that she’d be back – but to have her for the final two-parter – very nearly the final of this Doctor’s career – is extra bonus fun.

More here, in the Who’s Day roundup.