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

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… Read more…

Doctor Who and the halfway point of 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.
Read more…

Doctor Who: Five ways that Steven Moffat has remade the Fifth Doctor

 11D 1980s

Yes, that’s right. I just suggested that Who supremo Steven Moffat is repositioning the show to repeat its 1970s heyday.  But what if he’s already recreated the 1980s with the Eleventh Doctor!? Actually, what if he’s simply recreated one specific story from 1983?

MATT SMITH’S PREMATURE EXIT LAST CHRISTMAS BROUGHT THE BIGGEST SHAKE-UP OF STEVEN MOFFAT’S TENURE AS NEW WHO SHOW RUNNER. While he’d changed companions, TARDIS interior (twice) and theme tune (twice) the incoming Twelfth Doctor (yeah, we CAN call him that) is the real deal – the chance to break or ensure his legacy as show runner after some incredible peaks and some unfortunate troughs.

Moff-Pros

A prestigious warm-up for this year’s Rebel Time Lord

On the definite plus side, some of the greatest stories of New Who have fallen under his stewardship! Even after Deep Breath, The Eleventh Hour remains the greatest regeneration story ever told. For me, Matt Smith is the greatest actor to grace the role in the modern era and whisper it, can easily throw his fez up with the classics. In 2013, the 50th anniversary year was a sparse but triumphant year. The customary special not only fused modern and classic Who, but creating the perfect warm-up for a different kind of Doctor in the process. The War Doctor, in the regal form of John Hurt, was a rather prestigious warm-up for the Rebel Time Lord hitting our screens this autumn. Read more…

Doctor Who: Change for a Time – ‘Deep Breath’ Reviewed #DoctorWho

Doctor Who Deep Breath

The Doctor Who Series Eight opener has the right name.  A deep breath is definitely required heading into one of the slowest burning openers of the new era.  Sinking its anchor into a reservoir of expanded cast and plot points, played out on well worn cobble streets, it’s a story that chooses safety to risk something new. 

The result is a tale obsessed with psychology, ambiguity, destiny and the mystery of a star Time Lord in the making who will take some time to unravel who he really is. Can we beat him to it… Is there enough oxygen to burn? 

AFTER A SET-PIECE OPENING IN THE HEART OF LONDON, FEATURING THE MOST REALISTIC DINOSAUR TO WALK THOSE STREETS IN THE SHOW’S HISTORY (ALONGSIDE SOME OF THE USUAL REGENERATIVE JIGGERY-POKERY), NEW TITLES AND A REWORKED THEME PERFORM THE ONE JOB IN TV MORE POINTLESS THAN A BRUCE FORSYTH RETIREMENT PARTY: TELL US THAT DOCTOR WHO HAS CHANGED!

The clock and time obsessed title sequence is new in the show canon – well, to those who haven’t seen some compelling fan efforts over the past couple of years. When bolted on to the show it’s a bit too quick, a bit too gratuitous in its temporality, but also it’s a fitting precursor to a feature length episode obsessed with age. From the lined face, the grey hairs, the hands pulling at a teasingly familiar strained visage… Deep Breath takes its extra-time to confront almost every issue of the Doctor’s newest regeneration clock-face first.

Regeneration

“Bed time, companion confusion and wardrobe sifting”

Regeneration stories always need to be bigger to accommodate the act, or the post-act, itself. The concept of whether a “regeneration show” is the build up or the aftermath can get muddled, but the first episode of a Doctor has been often proved a poor match to the death of the last. Not least because there’s generally a fair amount of bed time, companion confusion and wardrobe sifting. Read more…

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