Tag: Daleks

Doctor Who: Silents I – “You should kill us all on sight” (Whovember #11 Sigma)

Eleventh Doctor and Handles #Whovember

Doctor Who and the Silence 

They appeared in a – what was I saying? Oh yes, they appeared with a bang in the bolder and more ambitious sixth series of Doctor Who. It would take a few years to find out who these all too familiar aliens were. The mid-point of the Eleventh Whovember looks at the appearance of the Silents in Doctor Who

THE FIRST PART OF THIS WHOVEMBER #11 LOOKED AT THE SILENCE THAT QUIETLY HOUNDED THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR’S TENURE. BUT THAT’S ONLY HALF THE MYSTERY. To uncover the rest you need to go singular. Yes the Silents, who first appeared in the Sixth series opener and went on to stage a number of invasions, and difficult sentences, until the fall of the Eleventh. They don’t appear in every episode of the Silence arc, but their presence was felt earlier than it appeared:

These mysterious, lanky monsters in their sharp suits, all memory clouding and random electricity, could be called a classic Moffat creation. Horrific, scary and with a special monsterish twist. They may look like typical Grey aliens, but you won’t remember them when you turn away. From the lofty view-point of the Twelfth Doctor it seems that the Silents’ story has definitively ended, possibly in extinction. But you can never say never, especially if you can’t remember it. There was always the risk they could be a one-trick pony; on their short journey much fun was had with their memory-evading powers so perhaps it’s not surprising that their presence was felt before they first appeared…

The Lodger (Series Five, 2010)

Since the first full appearance, there has been countless speculation on the possibility of Silent incursions into Doctor Who throughout the Eleventh Doctor’s life and indeed beyond. And why not? He may have thwarted their countless appearances before his Earth exile in the 1970s (or yes, the 1980s, UNIT pedants), but the Doctor will quite reasonably have encountered them many times during his travels on Earth and beyond. Particularly worth thinking about, are the fog covered streets of the East End in 1963. But, sadly, this is a television show. When a billionaire buys Doctor Who from the BBC, he may take a George Lucas approach to retconning Silents into the classic series (while he seamlessly recreates lost episodes, perfectly recolours the black and whites, and up-scales to 3d). But until then, the Silents must be viewed in their specific time. Yes, Amy and River both gasp and stare while uttering non-sequiturs during Series Five, but that’s not necessarily anything to do with the Silents. It’s some kind of web-felled, self-perpetuating retconning – something Moffat’s show-running lends itself to perfectly. But considering some of the clear logic breaks in the Silence arc, it’s difficult to believe that such things could be planned enough in advance. I’d certainly swap them for clearing up some other points of the arc. No, the lanky aliens don’t enter the universe until The Impossible Astronaut, opening Series Six.

Except, that’s not true. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Silents I – “You should kill us all on sight” (Whovember #11 Sigma)”

Doctor Who: The Late 1970s, The Fourth Doctor and Stitches in Time

Doctor Who and the late 1970s

Doctor Who and the late 1970s

 

40 years on from his first full appearance, there may not be a better time to look at the Fourth Doctor, still the very real and lasting giant of the series.  As Last Christmas showed, there’s a lot to be said for a snappy, irritable, aloof and alien Doctor in this universe. It’s not just the Glam side of the 1970s that will play a key role in the future of Doctor Who?

THE START OF THIS WEEK MARKED ONE OF THE GREAT ANNIVERSARIES IN ALL WHODOM: 40 YEARS SINCE THE FOURTH DOCTOR’S FIRST FULL EPISODE. He’d already appeared at the tail-end of Planet of the Spiders in June 1974. But lying prone on the floor, there was precious little indication of what was to come, even in that first rather simplistic serial Robot. In hindsight, after a staggering seven seasons, encompassing 41 stories and 172 episodes Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor remains the most prolific of the Time Lords. The Tenth and Eleventh incarnations would come close with 36 and 39 stories respectively, thanks to 2005’s format change. But still, despite the strong and sterling headway the last two made in America, it’s often the famous grinning, long-scarved figure of the Fourth that pops up in popular culture.

Repetition

Losing his hat where Pertwee would pick up his cape…

Jokerside’s Whovember series took a long look at the Fourth Doctor’s debut season, reasoning that it’s the single finest series of Doctor Who. And when it came to his debut appearance, it was clear that “Tom Baker… did something different”:

“Immediately, Baker’s Doctor isn’t as attached to UNIT as Pertwee’s had been, even during his last season. He can’t wait to escape but as he says, “I hate goodbyes”. Watching it, I can’t help but think what any other Doctor would have done. Had it been the Sixth, he may well have buckled down a lot sooner. Still, the Fourth had his own slightly too silly costume selection to make. Overlong and reaching, fortunately once chosen, it’s the speed and comfort that’s the punch line. Years of familiarity have enhanced the joke. And then the more telling phrase for this Doctor: “There’s no such word as can’t”.

“Hanging between that and “No point in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes” the Fourth Doctor comes straight out of a peculiar Gallifreyan can. One that’s bigger on the inside obviously. They are words to live by, and live he does. Lounging around Bessie in a way Pertwee would have tutted at, losing his hat where Pertwee would pick up his cape – but still carrying off the role of the scientist when he needs to.”

Doctor Who: A Fresh Scarf – “Harry Sullivan is an imbecile” (Whovember #4)

Though resolutely still in the UNIT set-up, albeit one softened by the Third Doctor’s recent mobility, and written by Third Doctor stalwart Terrance Dicks, the Fourth Doctor’s initial appearance is an instant tide-turner. Almost immediately – far more than his predecessor, a noted comic actor – Baker is happy to lets loose with laugh out loud moments. True, he’s nominally not ‘acting’ a new persona as much Pertwee had, but he’s instantly engaging.

To summarise the Whovember breakdown, Tom Baker’s arrival got everything right. Though cast by outgoing producer Barry Letts the new Doctor couldn’t have hoped for a better incoming producer and script editor. While he may be losing an increasingly sparse UNIT family, Baker was incredibly lucky in the companion stakes. Sarah Jane Smith really came into her own when paired with this incarnation of the Time Lord, possibly his perfect foil. But she wasn’t alone, with a season of (lovable) public school idiot Harry Sullivan rounding off one of the all-time classic TARDIS crews. That’s fortunate, as the first full season story arc in the history of Who saw them propelled across five adventures over 20 weeks with very little TARDIS in sight. Continue reading “Doctor Who: The Late 1970s, The Fourth Doctor and Stitches in Time”

Doctor Who: Countdown to New-Whovember – The Classic Whovember Recap!

Whovember - classic Doctor Who retrospective

Whovember - classic Doctor Who retrospective

AKA. A warm-up to…  New Whovember: Three Doctors, Two show runners and War Doctor in a right state…

The sequel to the classic Whovember is brewing like the Oncoming Storm…While New Whovember will bring us bang up to date with the 21st century adventures of the Mad Man in a Box, a recap of Classic Whovember’s delves into that happy time before the Great Time War.

WHOVEMBER WAS A MONTH-LONG LOOK AT CLASSIC DOCTOR WHO. THE MONUMENTAL 26-YEAR RUN STRETCHING FROM TOTTER’S LANE IN EAST LONDON ON A  FOG-BOUND NIGHT IN 1963 TO…  THE SUN-DRENCHED, CAT-STALKED STREETS OF PERIVALE.  Though that may be preferable to the Albert Square of, er, the East End that popped up (so-un canonically) in 1993, those original, halcyon years covered far more ground than those eight or so miles suggest.  It almost seems a shame to consider the show’s Millennial trip to San Francisco. But in the midst of the show’s hugely successful 21st century relaunch, the Eighth Doctor can’t be allowed to sit in the middle.

With more than a few highs and lows over the years, as you might expect from a show designed to test the limits of what television formats can do, Who managed to retain some form of stiff upper lip throughout its run at least.  And #Whovember wasn’t just a retrospective.  In the anniversary month of 2013, it was a series that set out to take an individual Doctor and a different, crucial aspect of the show’s myth, and look at them through the prism of a plot arc or set of serials.  As usual with these things, much like piloting a TARDIS, it wasn’t an exact art. The original series was issued unchronologically, ensuring that no Doctor sat adjacent to another. For this summary, we’ll straighten out the time stream… Let’s start at the beginning.

#1 – “We’re trying to defeat the Daleks, not start a jumble sale” 

 Serials that mark one of the definitive actions of the classic run1

The First Doctor provided the perfect opportunity to look at the show’s  legacy through two successive serials, 1965’s The Space Museum and the Dalek romp of the same year, The Chase.  These could also be considered the serial with far too much ambition and the serial with absolutely no plot.  But one strong element in the defense of both is that they do both feature Daleks. And a young Boba Fett – young Jeremy Bulloch as part of a revolution so pathetic it probably triggered the Time War in disgust.  Yes, coming two years into the show’s early, heavy schedule, both serials receive their fair share of negative criticism it’s fair to say. But both also throw up some interesting ideas and not just in terms of their production.  Perhaps their stand-out role in shaping Who’s legacy is that they they stage a show first, a definitive action of the classic run that remains a challenge and opportunity for the show today: the loss of the last two original companions, Ian and Barbara.  Undoubtedly important, could it be, as remarked in Whovember #1, that… Continue reading “Doctor Who: Countdown to New-Whovember – The Classic Whovember Recap!”

Doctor Who and the halfway point of Series 8

Doctor Who Half Face Man and Series 8

Doctor Who Half Face Man and Series 8

A quick stop and listen now Dr Who series 8 has reached the fixed point of half-season. Spoilers for the six broadcast episodes are guaranteed, but no conspiracy and little speculation – just as look at how The Twelfth’s bedding in… 

NO JOKE, BUT IT’S ALREADY A SERIES OF TWO HALVES.

Moffat has clearly settled on the direction for his period of showrunning

The overall impression is that it’s an outstanding series so far, but for all the great direction, cinematography and music and fine acting there are non-sequiturs and narrative glitches abounding.  The Dalek that wants to fix itself, who rates the destruction of Daleks as exclusive to killing humans, the chalk that disappears, the writing that appears, Cousin It in the bed, why Orson walked into a restaurant in full garb to beckon a girl he didn’t know and didn’t pick something up from the kitchen…

SHUT UP!

There’s no point picking on these.  Steven Moffat has clearly settled on the direction for his period of showrunning, and this series is its golden age – Like early Hinchcliffe and Key to Time Williams… It simply doesn’t matter if it makes sense.  I can see why. An irascible and hard-working writer-producer, he’s endured criticism. So you may as well pile up the plot-holes as it’s impossible to torpedo an absence of logic..  In any event, picking plot holes in a work of fiction, especially one with such a broad format, built on impossibility… Is a  thankless task isn’t it?

Strands of Time and Space

Searching for logic here is pointless

Away from that, there have been three strands to what’s certainly been an involving series.
Continue reading “Doctor Who and the halfway point of Series 8”

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