Archive for the ‘Piffle’ Category

Punjab, Demons thereof   Leave a comment



The demons of the Punjab are, naturally, not the alien kind.

Like Yaz, I am a child of immigration. Like hers, my family endured something that I, from my comfy sofa in my climate-controlled house in my free, peaceful, modern city, can scarcely imagine. Knowing their stories, I would never want to see for myself – but somehow I don’t think Yaz is sorry for the opportunity. New voices before and behind the camera bring her history to vibrant, cinematic life.

I’m grateful to Chibnall for bringing to Doctor Who writers who can tell these kinds of stories. Like the Thijarians, we can now witness histories that were cast aside or overwritten. We are reminded of the things that unite us – and those that ever threaten to divide us.

And of course because it’s Doctor Who, there’s just so much to love.

  • More gorgeous cinematography!
  • Yaz’s cranky Nani is a secret badass
  • “Not interfering!”
  • Graham being grandfather to Yaz and Prem
  • Punjabi-style closing credits music!
  • The Doctor serves not as savior, but as witness to history

Chibnall’s historicals are some of the best Doctor Who has ever been. More please!


Posted November 30, 2018 by Elisabeth in Piffle, Season 11

Tagged with , , ,

They Might Be Giants   Leave a comment

“Planet of Giants” is good clean environmentally friendly fun.


Don’t litter.

The Dicks/Letts era of the 1970s is famous for its environmental messages, but even in 1964 the Doctor and his friends were foiling the plans of Evil Corporations bent on destroying the planet. (I do wonder how the villain hoped to get away with it, but these people are not long-term thinkers.) The story is told in two parallel tracks: one full-size greed-provoked murder, and the inch-high struggle to solve it. The two interact delightfully, as Ian takes a ride in a matchbox, the Doctor and Susan are nearly washed down a sink, and the four friends save the day by knocking the phone off the hook and turning on the gas.

The sets are great fun – who doesn’t love giant insects and enormous notebooks? At only three episodes, the story moves at a good clip. Susan’s youthful exuberance is put to good use shoving corks and hauling matches. Barbara is nearly felled by Evil Poison, but refuses her friends’ assistance until after they’ve saved the planet. In the end, the Doctor saves Barbara, restores them all to size, and sets them off on their next adventure.

That adventure is “The Dalek Invasion of Earth.” Be afraid.

Posted September 2, 2018 by Elisabeth in Classic, Piffle, The Long Way Round

Tagged with , ,

The Sensorites   Leave a comment

This story features more development of the Doctor and Susan’s backstory than any previous. Susan longs for the burnt-orange sky and silver leaves of home; I’m curious as to how closely the Tenth Doctor’s words echo hers. She struggles with growing up in the Doctor’s shadow, while he tries to keep her safe in his own shouty and completely ineffective way. It doesn’t help that he’s almost as much a child as she is, accustomed to getting what he wants and pouting when he doesn’t. We’re reminded here that no matter how personable they may seem in the moment, the Doctor and his granddaughter are not human.

The Sensorites are an extraordinarily vulnerable race. Disabled by darkness, terrorized by noise, they’re justified in their fear of loud, brash, courageous invaders. Still, the main antagonist’s strategy of goading his fellows into irrational terror in his quest to grab power annoyed me a lot. A little too close to home, perhaps; I get enough of this garbage in real life, don’t need it in my show.

Barbara is clearly the queen of this story. She is calm, courageous, and perceptive throughout. She protects Susan while also offering compassion to the John. Her appearance in the final episode pretty much saves the day.

The ship sails on…

Next up is “Reign of Terror.” I remember seeing this one before, but I didn’t remember that two of its episodes were missing. I must have seen them animated, but I don’t recall it.

In fact we own the DVD. Perhaps when I watch it it will begin to seem familiar.

Posted August 23, 2018 by Elisabeth in Classic, Piffle, The Long Way Round

Tagged with

Le Guin crossover the 2nd   Leave a comment

Some time ago I observed a commonality between Le Guin’s “Omelas” and “The Beast Below.” Now, having just finished “Tehanu,” #4 in Le Guin’s Earthsea series, I’ve got another one.

In “Tehanu,” the wizard Ged is a secondary character. He arrives in the story fresh from losing his magic – magic he’s possessed since childhood, magic that has defined him all his life – in a battle to save his world and all its people. Without it, he no longer knows who he is, or what purpose remains for him. Wizard was everything to him; now, he has nothing.

I was reminded of the Metacrisis Doctor, sent off to live with Rose in Pete’s World – particularly, in a series of stories I wrote when the official version ran out.

The Metacrisis Doctor is a secondary character. He appears in the story having been split off from his Time Lord self – a self he’s been for 900 years, a heritage that has defined him – in a battle to save the multiverse and all its people. Human, he no longer knows who he is, or what purpose remains for him. Time Lord was everything to him; now, he has nothing.

But the man’s idea of himself is limited. Ged learns, as the Doctor must, that he is more than his magic. He still has his heart: his passion for teaching and learning, his goodness, his love for his people. Though the Metacrisis Doctor’s story stopped when he was left behind on Pete’s World, fans know that he too must come to terms with his new reality. He must find that he is more than his TARDIS and his extra heart. He still has his brilliance, his curiosity, his drive. Like Ged, he laments his loss – but in the end discovers a whole new life he never imagined before.

Like Ged, the Doctor is brought back to himself by the grounded, sensible, passionate love of a woman, and the real world in which she needs him.

They stand together on the beach
their last link with the old world
the old life
fading into mist
into nothing
She stares, empty
at a loss
her heart torn
he takes her hand.

Who is this man?
this man, this living man
not a dream or a spirit or a fantasy
not the one you pined for, the one that could never be
but solid and real
and loving you.
She looks into his eyes, questing
is this who you are?
do you love me
and can I love you?
Can we leave behind that old life
create something new here together?
can it be done?
He pulls her close, clutching, desperate
gods I hope so.

What now? they ask
as hand in hand they leave the empty shore behind
the old life, the past but a memory
a fantasy
as unreal as if it had never happened.
A new existence breaks in through their daze
a world of taxis and trains
miles across the continent
Can this be right?
The years since she met him
since she lost him
a blur
She casts a glance
again and again
each time startled to find him there
beside her
distant and sad but there
Can this really be?
She leads him, gingerly
into her family home
the family and the home so different
from the one she knew for nearly twenty years
yet somehow right.
Now strange again
with this new man beside her
clinging to her hand.
Safe inside she turns to him.
Can this be real?
Can you be?
Is it true, the words you said
the words I so wanted to hear
as if wishing made them so
did you mean them?
were they real?
The truth afire in his eyes
the love he had so long denied
the passion, newly aroused
his blood ablaze as blood ne’er burned in him before.

Too much to adjust to
this sudden need for sleep
and food
and you.
A whole new world
a body so alien, so strange.
Slowly I learn
what it must be like
to be you
how hard it is
to feel so much
by this body
victim to all its whims.
Is this what it is
to be human?
a constant struggle
a fight for dominance
of my own self
letting go, a challenge
impossibly difficult
so much more than I ever imagined
so much more than I can take.
I watch you sleep
envy you your peacefulness
your ignorance of any other way
pining for my own lethe
begone, the memory of immortality
the constance of that extra heart.
But then you turn to me
with your deep brown eyes and smile
a world of sensation overcomes
drowns me
I am lost
the joy of your smile
the intoxication of your touch.
Is this what it is
to be human?
new heights of pleasure
to balance the pain
Is this how you endure
day by day, so gray
so brief and all alone
and then, all of a sudden
resplendent color
beyond description.
No wonder you loved that life so much!
No wonder you grieve
I grieve for you
your loss as well as mine
your brief and minute world exploded
and then shrunk again to nothing.
I think finally I may know
what that is
how it feels
color, and then blackness
vision, blindness
love and loss


Transition,, 2/16/2012

Posted May 9, 2018 by Elisabeth in Piffle

Tagged with ,

The Doctor and the lawyer   Leave a comment

Recently it came to light that there may have been some conflict over use of the name Lethbridge-Stewart in the most recent Christmas special. While the parties involved downplay any kerfuffle, it brings to mind the odd status of many of Doctor Who‘s most beloved inventions, as described in this post shared by a lawyer friend:

The Strange Copyright of Doctor Who

The Daleks are of course the most famous example of shared ownership between the show and a writer: Terry Nation and his estate pushed for Dalek spinoffs, held up novelization of Dalek episodes, blocked several of those episodes from streaming on Britbox, and very nearly prevented the Daleks’ return to the show in 2005. But they are not the only ones. Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis, both deceased, are credited on every appearance of the Cybermen. The son of writer Anthony Coburn recently demanded credit and compensation for his father’s alleged invention of the TARDIS. Now, the Brigadier joins the parade.

On the other hand are the unsung, uncredited, uncompensated BBC employees behind these creations and many others. Delia Derbyshire, an employee of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, was denied ownership of her most famous contribution – the arrangement of Ron Grainer’s theme – and was credited only on the 50th Anniversary Special. Raymond Cusick, the mind behind the Daleks’ iconic look, has none of the control or compensation Terry Nation and his family have enjoyed. And who did design the TARDIS interior, some invisible employee suggested in An Adventure in Space and Time but unsung even today?

As mentioned in the post above, the TARDIS itself has been a point of contention between the BBC and the London Metropolitan Police. Unfortunately, that body waited too long to lay claim to their famous Police Box: by the time they came forward, the box belonged firmly in the minds of the public to Doctor Who.

Other entities may own a share of the Daleks, the Cybermen, or the Brigadier – but that doesn’t make them less a part of Doctor Who.


Posted January 30, 2018 by Elisabeth in Piffle

Tagged with , ,

Oops.   Leave a comment

Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie are coming to my town, and I have a previous commitment.

Time to make some alternate arrangements…


Be ready.

Posted August 24, 2017 by Elisabeth in Piffle

Tagged with , ,

How does he do it?   Leave a comment

We’ve been through a lot of Moffat season arcs by now. Some of them have been meh; some of them have been really terrible. At least one has even been amazing, but we know better than to expect it.

That expectation is key.

My husband and I both sat on the edge of our seats throughout “World Enough and Time.” The reveal of Simm’s Master blew our minds. (I saw it coming about 1 min before, my husband about 10sec.) Cyber-Bill broke our hearts. And Nardole – Nardole! Running away! I haven’t thought that much of him over the course of the season but somehow I knew him for no coward.

As a result, anticipation for this week was high. But we’ve been burned plenty before. Even after everything we’ve been through with this Doctor, we just didn’t know what to expect. We braced ourselves for disappointment. And when we didn’t get it – when instead we got everything we never knew we wanted and more – the reward is just that much sweeter.

He doesn’t have to be that good; just better than we expect. And then, when he IS good, he just seems that much greater.

Let’s keep going out on top. 🙂

Posted July 3, 2017 by Elisabeth in Piffle, Season 10, Writers and Writing

Tagged with , ,