Tagged: Sarah Jane Smith

Mindy Newell: Wibbly Wobbley Timey Winey Stuff

Doctor Who

As most of us Whovians and ComicMixers know, BBC America became the All Doctor Who All The Wibbly Wobbly Timey Winey Stuff network this past week in honor of the premiere of Season 9 – which, as I write this, airs tonight, Saturday, September 19. So I pretty much kept my TV tuned to channel 101 (the BBC America station on my cable system), except for some episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Hardball with Chris Matthews – oh, and the first half-hour of the Repugnantican debate on CNN, of which the less I have to say about that sorry affair the better, except that it disgusted me, and I returned to the All Doctor Who All The Wibbly Wobbly Timey Winey Stuff with relief.

So here’s a rundown of my opinions of random episodes in the lives of the Doctor.

Most Heartbreaking

There have been a number of emotion-walloping episodes since the reboot 10 years ago – see below – but The End of Time “had me at hello.” Much of the credit goes to the absolutely smashing and brilliant Bernard Gribbins as Donna Noble’s grandfather, Wilfred Mott; there were so many moments, but two stand out for me: Wilfred’s tearful pleading and urging to the Doctor to kill the Master and save himself – “Now you take this, that’s an order, Doctor. You take the gun, you take the gun and save your life. And please don’t die, you’re the most wonderful man on earth! I don’t want you to die!” – and his final salute to the Gallifreyan at Donna’s wedding.

Don’t worry; of course I’m not ignoring David Tennant. His acting chops came to the fore here, from his rage and bitterness towards Wilfred, the man he had just told he “would be proud if he were my dad” for being the instrument of his end – “Cause you had to go in there, didn’t you? You had to go in there and get stuck, oh yes. ‘Cause that’s who you are, Wilfred. You were always this, waiting for me, all this time…But me…I could do so much more…So much more!…But this is what I get. My reward…But it’s not fair!” – to his last poignant visits, his last literally life-changing gifts to the people who had journeyed with him through this regeneration: Martha and Mickey, Sara Jane, Donna, Captain Jack, and, of course, the woman he loved, the woman he could never have, Rose Tyler. His last encounter with her, that last promise of “I bet you’re going to have a really great year” was both an acknowledgement that, because of WWTWS, for Rose it was just starting, but that for him, it was truly over. And yet… “I don’t want to go.”

Best Exit of a Companion

Or, in this case, companions. The Angels Take Manhattan rated a close second as “Most Heartbreaking,” as Amelia Pond, the “girl who waited,” became the “woman who refused to wait” – “It’ll be fine. I know it will. I’ll be with him like I should be. Me and Rory together.” – grabbed at the chance of a life in the past with the love of her life, her husband, Rory Williams (synchronally speaking, “the man who waited”). Yes, it broke Matt Smith’s Doctor’s hearts, but still she managed to let him know they were okay with no regrets, trying to offer him some comfort and reminding me that she and he were not over, because of all the WWTWS:

“Hello, old friend, and here we are. You and me, on the last page. By the time you read these words, Rory and I will be long gone. So know that we lived well, and were very happy. And above all else, know that we will love you, always. Sometimes I do worry about you, though. I think once we’re gone, you won’t be coming back here for a while, and you might be alone, which you should never be. Don’t be alone, Doctor. And do one more thing for me. There’s a little girl waiting in a garden. She’s going to wait a long while, so she’s going to need a lot of hope. Go to her. Tell her a story. Tell her that if she’s patient, the days are coming that she’ll never forget. Tell her she’ll go to sea and fight pirates. She’ll fall in love with a man who’ll wait two thousand years to keep her safe. Tell her she’ll give hope to the greatest painter who ever lived and save a whale in outer space. Tell her this is the story of Amelia Pond. And this is how it ends.”

Hmm, here’s a WWTWS question: Did little Amelia Pond wait so long – 12 years! – because the Doctor was off having adventures with the grown-up Amy and Rory? Was everything that we saw actually a repeat of everything that had already happened?

Best Return of a Companion

Sarah Jane Smith in “School Reunion.” Elisabeth Sladen was my first companion (with Tom Baker), and for me she set the standard – and I believe for everyone who followed her. She broke the mold of what had come before. Rather than transcribe their meeting, here’s the link to the YouTube vid. And in honor of the late Ms. Sladen, here’s a link to her.

As always, YMMV.

Best Introduction of a Companion

Jenna Coleman as Oswin Oswald in “Asylum of the Daleks” – or is that as Clara Oswin Oswald in “The Snowmenor is that as Clara Oswald in “The Bells of Saint John?” Yep, it’s “The Impossible Girl,” who has saved the Doctor in all his incarnations since the very beginning, when she guided him to the right TARDIS: “Sorry. But you were about to make a very big mistake. Don’t steal that one; steal this one. The navigation system’s knackered, but you’ll have much more fun.” Here I am proud to announce that I guessed the identity of the Doctor’s (upcoming) new companion in a phone call with Editor Mike, even though you tried to tell me I was wrong, Mr. Gold. Yes, you did. No matter how you try to deny it, it is a fact.

Best Confrontation between the Doctor and the Companion

I’m watching it rerun right now. Clara Oswald, in the penultimate Season 8 episode, “Dark Water,” demands that the Doctor prevent her boyfriend, Danny Pink, from being killed in a car accident, blackmailing him by throwing the keys of the TARDIS, one by one, into the lava pit of an active volcano…sorry, I have to stop writing for a second…

Okay, I’m back.

Best Recurring Character

Make that “Characters,” with an “s.” Im-not-so-ho, the Paternoster Gang: The Silurian lizard lady, Madam Vastra, (Neve McIntosh), her human wife (who masquerades as her maid), Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart), and the “Mr. Potato Head” Sontaran Strax (Dan Starkey), their butler. Hah! I bet you thought I was going to say River Song.

Runner-up to Best Recurring Character

Jemma Richardson as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, first seen as UNIT’s (UNified Intelligence Taskforce, nee United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) Head of Scientific Research, and later its Director. Hah! I bet you thought I was going to say River Song.

Bravest Loss of a Supporting Character

Danny Pink, the soldier, killed in a car accident, turned into a Cyberman by Missy, and yet rising above his programming to turn certain defeat into certain victory in “Death in Heaven.”

Saddest Loss of a Supporting Character Runner-Up

Kate Stewart’s assistant, the asthmatic Osgood (Ingrid Oliver), became an instant fan favorite when she was introduced in the 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor,” sucking down on her inhaler and wearing the Fourth Doctor’s (Tom Baker) scarf, which she either knitted herself or “borrowed” from the archives hidden in UNIT’s Tower of London headquarters. We caught up with her in Season 8’s finale, “Death in Heaven,” in which she’s still sucking down on that inhaler, but now wears the Eleventh Doctor’s (Matt Smith) bow tie – again, she either went out and bought it or “borrowed” it from UNIT’s archives. But our reunion with her was brief, because The Mistress, a.k.a. Missy, The Master’s female incarnation, kills her.

But wait! It has been revealed that Osgood will be back in Season 9! How? Is she really the Zygon impersonator from “The Day of the Doctor,” or will be more WWTWS?

Best The Master

John Simm, especially in his last arc (“The End of Time.”) In his portrayal as the Doctor’s “Professor Moriarty” in “The End of Time,” Simm heartrendingly played to perfection the other side of the poor, wrecked mind of The Master; we got a glimpse of “what might have been.” Instead, it was revealed that The Master was a pawn of the Time Lord President Rassilon (Timothy Dalton) – who was responsible for the drumbeat in The Master’s head that drove him mad and onto the path of his many lives. Sorry, Missy fans, she’s okay, but I’m just not that into her.

Best Season Finale

“Death in Heaven.” Im-not-so-ho, this one had everything. Life and death, hope and resignation, love and hatred. There were final reunions and final sacrifices. And a season-long question was answered – “Am I a good man?” But the best part? Brigadier Sir Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart finally got that salute from the Doctor.

Welcoming Peter Capaldi

Peter Capaldi Doctor Who“And his name is The Doctor. He has saved your lives so many times and you never even knew he was there. He never stops. He never stays. He never asks to be thanked. But I’ve seen him, I know him… I love him… And I know what he can do.” – Freema Ageyman as companion Martha Jones

My geek is in overdrive.

Doctor Who’s premiere is on August 23rd on BBCAmerica this side of the pond (that’s the premiere date for much of the rest of the world, too) I’ve been hitting BBCAmerica’s website for news and sneak peeks. I’ve binge watched Matt Smith’s last seasons as the Time Lord. I’ve held off doing something else – like raiding the refrigerator or even going to the bathroom – during commercial breaks while watching the channel in case there’s a new teaser. And I switched my ringtone from Buffy The Vampire Slayer to the show’s opening music.

I was one of those who was sincerely pissed off and sincerely mourned the passing of the torch by David Tennant to Matt Smith – Tennant was just so superb (and sexy!) as the Time Lord; he brought so much to the role; humanizing (if you’ll excuse the expression) the alien. I wasn’t ready for him to leave – and as Tennant so brilliantly played his regeneration scene, it was obvious that his Doctor wasn’t ready to leave either. When he said, “I don’t want to go” in “The End of Time – Part 2,” I parroted (along with millions of fans, I’m sure), “I don’t want you to go, either.”

And to be honest, Smith’s premier episode, the one with the “fish and custard,” really didn’t do anything for me; Smith was so different, and the whole “going through this kid’s refrigerator” scene felt forced, not funny. But of course, Matt more than proved himself to me, so much so that I still feel that his Doctor was cheated out of a truly emotional regeneration scene – well, okay, Karen Gillian’s cameo as Amelia Pond (“Raggedy Man, good night.”) was brilliant and definitely teared me up, but overall too much time was wasted on destroying the Daleks…again *snnnnore*. Smith – and the fans he brought in, fans who made the show a truly worldwide phenomenon – deserved so much more.

But I did love Peter Capaldi’s first words (“Do you happen to know how to fly this thing?”) and Jenna Coleman’s – as companion Clara Oswald – horrified “what the fuck?!” look.

I didn’t know that much about Peter Capaldi – not that it bothered me, because I didn’t know Tennant or Smith either before their respective runs as the Time Lord. Well, let me rephrase that. It was more one of those “I know I know Peter Capaldi, but from where?” type of deals. Meaning that I didn’t recognize him as the actor who played the British Home Secretary John Forbisher in Torchwood: Children Of Earth. I didn’t realize that was he playing Caecilius in the Doctor Who season 4 episode, “The Fires of Pompei.” And it took a Google search to discover that he had been in one of my favorite films, 1983’s Local Hero, which starred Burt Lancaster and Peter Riegert. But I have been watching and mucho appreciating him as Cardinal Richelieu in this summer’s The Musketeers on BBCAmerica (Sundays at 9:00 P.M). In fact I think he’s brilliant in the role, and it’s whetted my appetite for his debut as the 12th (13th?) Gallifreyan.

So I’m ready to love Peter Capaldi, if no other reason that I don’t want the show to go away, to be cancelled, to end.

But I don’t know how the younger fans, most of who came in with Matt Smith’s Doctor, will react to him. Will the show lose that part of its fan base? My niece Isabel’s first words about Mr. Capaldi after seeing him for those few moments as the end of “The Time of the Doctor” were quote “He’s so old!” unquote.

Isabel will be fourteen in August.

I remember Mike Gold saying to me once, “Everybody loves their first Doctor best.” Or something like that. And it’s true. My first Gallifreyan was Tom Baker (I thrilled and tingled when he made a cameo appearance at the end of “The Name of the Doctor.”) My first companion was Elisabeth Sladen. (I loved her return as Sarah Jane Smith during Tennant’s run, and how she immediately recognized him despite his changed appearance,) It took me a long time to “catch on” to Jon Pertwee, who, although he came before Baker, was my second Doctor. (It took me even longer to get hip to a new companion – not until Billie Piper. That’s a long time.)

So I get it, Iz. Matt Smith was your first Doctor. And he was cute and funny and resourceful. You’ll always have a special place in your Whovian heart for him. You’ll naturally feel some resentment to Capaldi for daring to take the controls of the TARDIS.

But remember, Iz, without regeneration, you and me, and a whole generation or two, would never have even met the Doctor, never would have traveled in the TARDIS, never would have known Sarah Jane Smith or Rose Tyler or Amy Pond and Rory Williams, never would have known the Daleks or the Cyberman or The Master.

And remember, Iz, like I told you that day, and as I reiterated here, I didn’t like Matt Smith at first. But I grew to love him.

So, Iz, give Peter Capaldi a chance.

I will.

 

New Who Review: The Day of the Doctor

New Who Review: The Day of the Doctor

It’s not often you get to describe an event as being fifty years in the making. even less so do you get to mean it.  Three Doctors in three timelines converge to give them all a chance to change a terrible moment in their collective past.

The Day of the Doctor
by Steven Moffat
Directed by Nick Hurran

The Doctor is in the present, in his most recent incarnation, picking up Clara, when he gets picked up himself, by UNIT, to investigate a mystery at the National Museum.  Meanwhile (well, I say meanwhile…) in his previous incarnation, he’s investigating a mystery in Elizabethan Britain, an attack by the Zygons that could lead all the way to the Queen herself.  And in another part of the Universe entirely, The War Doctor is making a decision that will put the lives of countless innocents in his hands, a choice that will darken and color his life for centuries to come.

Considering that it is physically impossible to create an episode that has everyone and everything that every fan wants, this episode was as close to perfect as could be.  It embraced plotlines that were started in the Davies era, tied in moments and points in Moffat’s own time of running the show, and did a job of undoing a dark moment in The Doctor’s history worthy of Geoff Johns.  I screamed out loud three times, and it would have been four, if one fellow had been able to keep his mouth shut.

THE MONSTER FILES: The Zygons only got one appearance in the original series, the eponymous Terror of the Zygons, but it was enough to keep the popular in the alternative media for years.  Shapeshifting beings, they invade by taking over from within, taking the forms of important people.  They got an off-camera return in The Power of Three as they tried to invade during Amy and Rory’s second honeymoon.

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS:Trivia and production details

Oh my GOD is this gonna be a long one.  This episode is packed with self-references and tips of the hat, as well as calling back to points from many other episodes.  I’ll see if I can hit them all…

THE QUESTION ISN’T WHERE, IT’S WHEN: More precisely, from when.  Matt Smith’s Doctor is clearly experiencing this adventure in the “present,” as in after the events of the last season.  Considering Ten(nant) is traveling alone, and is having the adventure he refers to when talking to Ood Sigma in the beginning of The End of Time, he’s clearly from a period between The Waters of Mars and that episode.  We don’t know exactly how much time he spent gallivanting about between those episodes, clearly long enough for his memories of the details of this paradoxical adventure (while still remembering the bits about the Virgin Queen) that he still saw a need to re-imprison the Time Lords with the help of The Master.

Similarly, The War Doctor is experiencing this adventure at the end of this regeneration.  But while we saw his “birth” in the Paul McGann mini-episode, we don’t know exactly how long he has been around, fighting in (and against) the Time War.  He was in his seven hundreds at the end of the original series, and nine hundred at the beginning of the new, so there’s quite a lot of years to spread around between Seven, Eight, and The War Doctor.

So in brief, we’re seeing all three Doctors having this adventure very near the end of their respective regenerations.  So each of them have seen all they’re going to see through their eyes, and that’s about the best time.

CALL FOR THE DOCTOR QUICK, QUICK, QUICK: Kate Stewart, the head of UNIT, daughter of The Brig, has a custom ring for The Doctor on her phone.
Also, note that The Doctor’s number is once again 07700900461, as it was in The Stolen Earth. About 2500 people thought that might be a working number (at least for a tie-in recording or bit of marketing, anyway) when that adventure aired, and tried calling it.  no idea how many will try it this time.

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be: Be one”: They hit the ground running with the self-references.  I.M. Foreman‘s scrap yard was where we first met the Doctor, Susan and the TARDIS, lo those fifty years ago.  Susan attended Coal Hill secondary school, where she aroused the curiosity of teachers Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton, who as we see here, now serves as headmaster.  Sarah Jane Smith did a bit of investigating, and tracked down Ian and Barbara (now Barbara Chesterton), and reported to her son Luke that they no longer appear to age.  Also, notice that as we see Clara erasing the quote from Marcus Aurelius on her whiteboard, the words “NO MORE” are in the center of the screen.

“Draft”: The Triumph Clara’s driving is the one The Doctor drove up the side of The Shard in The Bells of Saint John.  When last we saw Clara and The Doctor, she was not getting along with the TARDIS, now she’d shutting the doors with a click of her fingers.  Clearly quite some time has passed since the events of The Name of the Doctor – enough time for her to get a job as a teacher, and to make peace with the TARDIS.  And yet she and The Doctor still keep their “See you next Wednesday” relationship, as it’s clear she’s not traveling with him regularly, tho she has no problem with picking up and running when he pops by.

“Tell Malcolm we need new batteries” – Malcolm Taylor is the acting scientific advisor for UNIT, and was played by Lee Evans in Planet of the Dead, and when I heard his name, I let loose with my third-loudest shout of the evening.  If you folks think you were upset that Rose or Eccleston didn’t appear…
And those are presumably the “Ravens of Death” she claimed to have in The Power of Three.

“Nice Scarf” – Considering what we appear to learn at the end of the episode, that scarf MAY not be a replica.  It might have been a gift. From the original owner.
There’s a bit of debate going on as to exactly who Osgood is. Rich Johnson at Bleeding Cool seems to believe that she’s Kate’s daughter – while her first line was her calling “Mum”, I took that to mean the honorific “Ma’am”, and not “Mom”.  But we both noticed there was a UNIT tech named Tom Osgood in The Daemons, and a few of the prose stories, so that seems a more possible guess on her father, anyway.

“I’d be brilliant at having a job”: Well, he really does work for UNIT, when he’s around, and he did pretty well in the two jobs he took when he was helping Craig Owen in The Lodger and Closing Time.

“The High Council is in emergency session, they have plans of their own”: Those would be the plans set into action in The End of Time. We first heard of The Moment in that episode, as it too took place (partly, in flashback) during the end of the Time War.

“The Doctor has The Moment”: In a delightful bit of ingenious design, the initial gear-like design for of The Moment somewhat resembles the Antikythera mechanism, an Out Of Place Artifact found in Greece that (theoretically) could plot the positions of the stars to astounding accuracy.

“The interface is hot”: For those who are grousing that Billie Piper is not playing Rose, not my comment above.  If we were watching an adventure where The Doctor was traveling with Rose, we’d be watching a Doctor who had not yet met Martha, Donna Noble, the crew of Bowie Base One, a Doctor who had, in short, barely begun to live.  This was a way to have Billie a part of the show, while still giving us the best Doctor to experience the story. Also note that it’s a lovely parallel to Ten meeting Rose at the end of The End of Time, before they’ve met in that first adventure, Rose. The War Doctor meets her (or at least sees her visage) before he regenerates and meets (and saves) her in that department store.  So once again, The Bad Wolf was guiding them all to fulfill the almost predestined moment so far in the future.

“Elizabeth the First…you knew her, then?”: Based on what we see here, and what Ten implies later, we shall have to leave tactfully alone the question of what definition of “knew” is being used here… This is England 1562, 37 years before The Shakespeare Code, where we “First” meet the queen, and The Doctor is totally unaware of why she’d be so angry at him.  I expect that happens a lot.

It’s a machine that goes “ding”: It’s presumably similar to The Machine That Goes “Ding” When There’s Stuff, as seen in Blink. While that one was more tuned to temporal anomalies, this one is attuned to physical ones, like the energy expended by a shapeshifting alien.

“Is it important?” “In 1,200 years, I haven’t stepped in anything that wasn’t”” Another callback, this time to A Christmas Carol, when he said it about people.

“I need you to send me one of my father’s incident files”: She is almost certainly asking for the files on the incident we know as The Three Doctors, the tenth anniversary adventure.  As they had to do in the past, they had to come up with a way around using one Doctor, but not for the same reason. William Hartnell was not well at the time, an advancement of the illness that cause him to leave the show in the first place.  So he was not able to take an active part in the story, instead relegated to appearing via the scanner screen.  Ten years later, Tom Baker wasn’t able to appear in The Five Doctors, so they used footage from Shada in his stead.  Hartnell had already passed, so Richard Hurndall took on the role of the First Doctor.
For all the grousing many fans are making that they “left out Eccleston” from this adventure, it’s been verified via the man himself and he chose not to participate in the episode.  His departure from the series was not entirely cordial; no firm details have come to light because he’s a professional, but it’s generally understood there was no small amount of bad blood.
The reference to “Seventies or eighties, depending” is a sly nod to the fact that the Pertwee years of the show were filmed in the seventies, but were supposed to be taking place an unspecified number of years in the future, to try and explain the higher tech items that were sprinkled around.

“Reverse the polarity”: “Reverse the polarity of the Neutron Flow” was one of Jon Pertwee’s legendary catch phrases, but like “Beam me up Scotty”, usually misremembered.  That exact phrase was only used once in the series, and as a hat tip in The Five Doctors”, it was the shorter quote used here that got used in numerous episodes.

“Why are you pointing your screwdrivers like that?”: The War Doctor gives voice to many of the complaints old-guard fans have had about the new series – all the kissing, the Sonic Screwdriver acting more like a weapon (and a magic wand), and much more.  Not to mock the fans, but more to point out the fact that the creators know full well how much the show has changed. And indeed, it’s the constant change of the show that has kept it alive.

“We’ll need access to the Black Archive”: Of all the stuff in that warehouse, I spotted River Song’s Manolos, a Cyberman head, a Sontaran blaster and the chair they had Ten trussed up in in The End of Time, which at this point in time…hasn’t happened yet.  The Black Archive first got mentioned on Sarah Jane Adventures, in the episode Enemy of the Bane, guest-starring Nicholas Courtney in his last appearances as The Brigadier.

“You have a top-level security rating from your last visit”: The question is, is that just a continuance of the fact that everyone has their memories wiped as they leave, one of the many times that Clara has appeared in The Doctor’s past, or a precursor to an upcoming story?  Also on that board with the more recent Companions are Tegan Jovanka, Nyssa of Traken, Kamelion, Five’s short-lived android companion, even Ian and Barbara.  Also, photographed with Captain Erisa Magambo is Rose Tyler…but there’s a problem there.  The only time they met were in the alternate timeline of Turn Left.  So…where did that photo come from?

“We don’t have the activation code”: The numbers The Doctor scratches into the wall of their cell is 1716231163.  Or more clearly, 17:16 23/11/63, the exact date and time that episode one of An Unearthly Child was originally broadcast.

“Same software…different face”: We’re not talking about the screwdriver any more, are we, blondie?  Because later on in the episode, we find out that in a very similar way, The Doctor has been mulling a problem over for the same 400 years, one that he gets to solve himself, not by someone just opening the right door at the last minute.
Moffat is so so good at playing with time as a plot point.  Sending the activation code into the future by writing it on the wall, and the idea of the scan taking the long way round and finishing up just as it’s needed.

“Oh, you’ve redecorated…I don’t like it”: A twice-joked joke, back for a third time.  Patrick Troughton said it about Jon Pertwee’s TARDIS in The Three Doctors, and Eleven said it about Craig’s home in Closing Time.

“At worst, we failed at doing the right thing, as opposed to succeeding in doing the wrong”: What this episode does is essentially undoes an act that The Doctor has regretted for centuries.  But as is always true of situations like this, it has to be undone in a way so nobody KNOWS it was undone, otherwise any events springing from it will not happen as they did, and you get paradoxes springing up like dandelions. So that, more than any other, is why all the Doctors from the time The Moment was supposedly used had to believe they DID use it.  Only until after the present Doctor lives through his portion of the history can he be allowed to remember.  It’s a temporal version of eating your cake and having it too.

“Wearing a bit thin”: Which is exactly how Hartnell described himself shortly before the first regeneration in The Tenth Planet, ushering in the miracle that would keep the show going for five decades.

“I don’t want to go”: Technically, this is the first time he says that – he’ll say it again in The End of Time.  They even worked it into the script of An Adventure in Space and Time.

“I could be a curator”: He is the Curator.  The letter from Elizabeth I appoints The Doctor as official Curator of the Undergallery, “to be summoned in the event of any crises concerning it.”  Now, how he gets all the way back around to the time, place and form we see here, well, that’s all the fun is finding out, isn’t it?

BIG BAD REPORT / CLEVER THEORY DEPARTMENT: For once, the arc of the upcoming season might be a positive.  Gallifrey Falls No More, and clearly The Doctor wants to find it.  But there’s a problem.  They may not have been destroyed, but this is clearly still the Time Lords who saw no problem with breaking out of their temporal prison by destroying the Earth, with the goal of controlling all of time and space.  Now one could argue that it was more the mad plans of the Lord President (played by Timothy Dalton in The End of Time) nd the rest of the Time Lords (save two) fell into line.  But that’s an argument we heard around the middle of last century, and it didn’t fly too well or too often.  If I have the timeline right, The Time Lords will be banished back into the Time Lock after EoT, and find almost immediately that their plan was unneeded, as The Doctor saves the planet and shunts it off somewhere.  So in the time that has passed, have they come to their senses and spent their time rebuilding, or have the grown even more enraged as they pounded at the walls of their temporal prison?  It’s the same question Wilf asked in EoT – will the Time Lords’ return be a good thing?  A lot of possibilities.

“No , sir…all thirteen”: In two seconds, Peter Capaldi premiered as The Doctor, and his eyebrows have already garnered their own fandom.  It also verifies what has been assumed to be true since new news of the New Doctor came out: The next Doctor is the last of his current cycle of regenerations.  Moffat has stated clearly that the 12-regeneration limit is still in place, whimsical comment in Sarah Jane Adventures notwithstanding. So in addition to the search for Gallifrey, we’ll certainly hear more than a bit about him reaching the seeming end of his lives.  One has to wonder if the resolution of one plotline will resolve the other.

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO

In the more short-term, Silence Will Fall.

See you back here at Christmas.

Mike Gold: Oh, Time-Lord! Abuse Me! Abuse Me!

Gold Art 130529Yeah, I’m gonna get political on your ass. Pop culture and politics; gasoline and fire.

I do not know which is worse: the self-victimization that we call being “politically correct” or the rampant naval-snorting of the cloistered elite. I do know there’s a book coming out this August called Doctor Who And Race, and it couldn’t be more full of shit if it had been printed on toilet paper.

Here’s the bird’s-eye lowdown on the book: a bunch of narcissistic holy-holy academicians got together to prove they are smarter than you are by writing a whole bunch of essays that definitively declare the 50-year old television phenomenon Doctor Who to be racist and, oh yeah, sexist.

What evidence do they offer? Their central point is that the lead character, the Doctor, is a white male and has remained that way despite many “regenerations.” To tell the truth, each incarnation of the Doctor also was humanoid, so it follows that the hundreds of producers, script editors, directors, actors and writers, lo these many years, are also anti-space alien. After all, the Doctor clearly favors Earth humans over such space alien races as, oh, say, the Daleks. When’s he going to regenerate into a being made of anti-matter?

(By the way, I am compelled to point out that the phrase “space alien” is amazingly stupid, and if you don’t use it when referring to all those outworlders out there, you are not necessarily prejudiced against Mexicans or the Irish.)

Verity LambertNow I don’t know if Gallifreyans are capable of changing sex and/or race upon regeneration. I’d be perfectly fine if Doctor Twelve were a woman and/or of a different race. Way back in 1963, the original producer of Doctor Who was a woman named Verity Lambert. Can we stop for a minute and appreciate just how revolutionary that was back in the day? She produced the first 86 episodes, moving on to other projects in 1965. There weren’t a lot of women producing television series back then. Or today, for that matter.

Integral to the show are its co-stars, often referred to as companions. Since Elisabeth Sladen was cast as Sarah Jane Smith in the early 1970s, the women who have labored alongside the Doctor have been strong professionals who were much more than set decoration and “save me” victims. Indeed, that tradition actually got its start with the very first episode, with the highly intelligent and cosmically capable Susan Foreman, played by Carole Ann Ford. That, too, was a big deal in 1963.

Since its highly successful revival in 2005, the TARDIS has opened its blue doors to black co-stars and to women co-stars, and even to a black woman co-star. And to many actors of differing origins, reflecting contemporary sensibilities.

This book also cites the 36-year old episode “The Talons Of Weng-Chiang” as proof of the program’s racism because the villain was a Chinese man who was played by a white dude. Well, there’s no argument that Asians have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to casting decisions, but in 1977 casting white people was more than merely the norm. It’s like slamming Kabuki for not having employed enough women.

Yes, indeed, the lead actor has always been a white male. That doesn’t mean it always will be, unless there’s something about Gallifreyan physiognomy that I don’t understand (and, doubtless, there’s a lot about Gallifreyan physiognomy that I don’t understand). But, deal with this absolute fact, you simpering monkeys of myopia and self-hatred: there is nothing inherently wrong with being a white male. If you are looking to create a new apartheid for that species, you are as disgusting and as morally diseased as those you blanketly define as racist and sexist.

Hey, do you know which other white British male has been around for a half-century? James Bond, as in the James Bond movie franchise. And in all those movies, not once have they cast anybody except a white British male in the lead. Not a single actor from Togo has been above the title. What’s up with that? Clearly, producer Barbara Broccoli is a racist, sexist pig.

Here’s the rub. Around the year 2063, bunch of professors and self-endowed intellectuals are going to rip you a new asshole because you were astonishingly insensitive to groups of people and to ways of thinking that presently are beyond your ken. This will happen; our history makes this perfectly clear. So pull your head out of your own vomit and realize you are no better than anyone else.

Bottom line: if you’re looking to feel your exploitation, start by looking in the mirror.

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON: Mindy Newell

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

 

New Who Review: The Crimson Horror

Gated communities are usually met with some suspicion and mistrust – in this case it’s rightly founded.  Something is wrong in Sweetville, and The Doctor is red in the face about it.  A bunch of friends reappear to help combat…

THE CRIMSON HORROR
by Mark Gatiss
Directed by Saul Metzstein

People are turning up dead in the canal in Victorian Yorkshire, their bodies in varied states of petrifaction and their skin a lobster red.  Madame Vastra and Jenny are asked to investigate, and when they realize that The Doctor is somehow involved, they hurry to investigate.  A woman is establishing her own ark on dry land, planning to survive the next torrent, not of rain, but of poison.

Mark Gatiss balances comedy and horror with a deft hand, being given the reins on the investigating Silurian and her companions.  This may be the closest we ever get to a completely solo Vastra and Jenny adventure, and it’s a delight.  The Northern accents alone are worth the price of admission.

GUEST STAR REPORT

Dame Diana Rigg (Mrs. Winifred Gillyflower) really should need no introduction, but there are young people who think The Avengers is only a comic book.  As well as playing Mrs Emma Peel (rightly described by comedian Rick Overton as “One generation of boys’ first serious erection”) on The Avengers, not to mention the Countess Teresa di Vicenzo (AKA the briefly Mrs. James Bond) in On her Majesty’s Secret Service) she started out at a high point, and kept on going higher,  In addition to a house favorite The Assassination Bureau (also starring Roger Delgado, the original Master) and a wonderful version of King Lear with Olivier, John Hurt and Leo McKern, she’s gone from Strength to Strength.  She also burning up basic cable in a popular turn on Game of Thrones.

Rachael Stirling (Ada Gillyflower) is Diana Rigg’s daughter, and this is the first time they’ve worked together.  She’s had an impressive career in acting, including a couple episodes of shows featured on Mystery!, which her mother was hosting at the time. Recently she was in Snow White and the Huntsman and the series The Bletchley Circle.

Two guests this episode have the distinction of playing several members of the same alien race, several times, over the course of the new series.
Neve McIntosh
and her delicious accent played sister Silurians Alaya and Restac in the two-parter The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood last year, and plays Madame Vastra here.
Dan Starkey (Commander Strax) also played two Sontarans in one story, The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky. He almost shot Mickey Smith and Martha Smith-Jones as Jask at The End Of Time, and first played the funniest wet-nurse you’ll ever see in A Good Man Goes to War. Since the Sontarans are a clone-race, having one actor play various members makes perfect sense. Christopher Ryan (Mike “the cool person” from The Young Ones) has also played two different Sontarans in different episodes. Dan also appears in Russell T Davies new series Wizards vs. Aliens as Randal Moon, hobgoblin extraordinaire.

THE MONSTER FILES – Mr. Sweet, a parasite species surviving from the Jurassic period, and possibly longer, is far from the first being getting the help of a human, though in this case it might be said that Mrs Gillyflower was the brains of the outfit.

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS – Trivia and production details

SET PIECES – Yorkshire was played by Cardiff in this episode, with a picturesque side-street getting a lovely touch-up, including a full set of gates and columns

…IS ONLY A MOTION AWAY – Dame Diana and Rachael Stirling are not the first parent and child pairing to appear on Doctor Who.  Mark Sheppard and his father William Morgan Sheppard both played the same role, that of Canton Everett Delaware III, in The Impossible Astronaut. David Troughton, Patrick’s son,  has appeared a couple of times, once as the Prince in The Curse of Peladon, once many years as Profiessor Hobbes in Midnight, and first, many years before, in his father’s last adventure The War Games.

WHOLOCK – With Gatiss and Moffat also being in charge of the oh-so-very popular Sherlock starring Bilbo and Smaug Benedict Cubmerbatch and Martin Freeman, there are ever going to be in-jokes that trickle through.  An unrecorded adventure of Sherlock Holmes was “the repulsive story of the red leech” as reported in The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez.

“Do you know what an optigram is?” – The Doctor used a process to read the last images off the eye of a Wirrn in a Tom Baker adventure The Ark in Space.  Rather than just one image, he was able to read several minutes of footage.

“Will you be preserved…when judgment rains down upon us all?” – One of the finest bits of foreshadowing i quite a while, Mrs. Gillyflower tells everyone her plans right then and there, and nobody catches it till much later.

“I once spent hell of a long time trying to get a gobby Australian to Heathrow Airport” – That would be Tegan Jovanka, long-time companion of the Doctor mainly during the Davison years.  Sarah Jane Smith investigated some of The Doctor’s friends, and said that at last report, Tegan was home in Australia, campaigning for Aborigine rights.  The reference is sent home with the following line “Brave heart, Clara”, paraphrasing Five’s motivational to Tegan.

“Doctor and Mrs. Smith…you’ll do very nicely” – Doctor John Smith was The Doctor’s go-to pseudonym when working on Earth during the Pertwee years.  He used it, or tried to, in Midnight.

“And you will have reached your destination” – I want to know how long Gatiss sat in his study giggling to himself over that wildly anachronistic reference to the TomTom GPS (Satnav) system.

“This one’s on me” – Can I just marvel in the delicious irony of a British woman kicking ass in a catsuit in an adventure featuring Diana Rigg?

“It’s you.. my monster” – Not the first time we’ve heard the word “monster” this season.  The line “Every lonely monster…needs a companion” in Hide was also clearly not just about the scary alien.

“Very enterprising” – There’s another parallel to The Snowmen here – in both cases, the antagonist finds something brand new, so different as to be alien (literally in the first case, figuratively here in Mrs. Gillyflower’s case), and in both cases, as The Doctor puts it in The Snowmen, both follow the Victorian ideal and try to find a way to profit from it.  Not even financially, but a way to achieve their ends.

BIG BAD REPORT / CLEVER THEORY DEPARTMENT

“It’s complicated” – The Doctor was aiming for London 1893, the year after the events of The Snowmen, where The Doctor first met Victorian Clara.  This is the first time Vastra, Jenny and Strax have met Modern Clara, and found her most confusing.  Her look at “herself” in London of 1892 will almost certainly cause some questions to be asked a week hence.

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – Neil Gaiman. I could stop there.  But I don’t have to, because there’s also Cybermen, Warwick Davis and Neil Gaiman.  Did I say that twice?  Nightmare in Silver, a week away.

SyFy Broadcasts “K-9” marathon on Christmas Day

SyFy (formerly known as the SciFi Channel) has acquired the US broadcast rights to the K-9 solo series, produced in Australia in 2010.  They will run the entire 26-episode series in a 13-hour marathon on Christmas Day.

Featuring an updated K-9 design and a new group of characters, the series has been shown in many countries since its initial premiere.  The US is one of the last regions to see the series on TV.  The series is live-action, featuring a streamlined CGI K-9, voiced by John Leeson, the original voice of the “tin dog”.

K-9 is one of the most popular companions from the classic series of Doctor Who, with two different “models” traveling with The Doctor from 1977 – 1980, and making quite a few appearances afterwards..  Making his first appearance in the Bob Baker / Dave Martin adventure The Invisible Enemy, K-9 was the creation of Professor Marius, who built him as a replacement for his own dog back on Earth.  After the adventure, Marius asked The Doctor to care for K-9, as he was returning to Earth and would not be able to take him on the ship.  The original K-9 traveled with The Doctor and Leela for some time, and chose to remain with her on Gallifrey after the events of The Invasion of Time.  The Doctor built a new model almost immediately, and he was a companion of The Doctor and fellow Time Lady Romana for another three years, until they chose to remain in E-Space with Romana at the end of Warrior’s Gate.

A third K-9 unit was sent to Sarah Jane Smith as a gift from The Doctor, and became her adventuring confidant for many years, up until she met The Doctor again in School Reunion.  K-9 Mark III sacrificed himself in that adventure, but The Doctor was able to salvage enough to build a mark IV, which he left behind for Sarah Jane.  The spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures was green-lit almost immediately after this adventure, but Bob Baker had already made the deal for this new series, which is why K-9 appeared only in limited cameos for the first two series of SJA.

K-9 has had quite a few appearances in the prose and Big Finish audio adventures as well.  In the Gallifrey series of adventures, Romana returned to her home planet with her canine companion, and came to meet Leela, and HER canine Companion.  K-9s Mark I and II, humorously, did not get along, and often argued with each other.

While Doctor Who cannot be explicitly be named, the K-9 of the new series is clearly the same K-9 from the original. Specifically he’s K-9 Mark I, who survives and escapes the Time War, and winds up on late 21st century Earth.  After a brief fight where he is seemingly destroyed, he “regenerates” (a new system apparently installed for him by the Time Lords” into a new streamlined design.  There’s a second series of the show in the planning stages, in which the producers have promised another redesign, responding to feedback from the fans.

Creators Bob Baker and Dave Martin collaborated on all the Doctor Who TV scripts, as well as numerous other projects in British television.  Dave wrote four K-9 solo adventure novels in the early 80’s, and passed away in 2007. Bob Baker has had some small success away from Doctor Who as well – he co-wrote three of the Wallace and Gromit shorts, as well as the feature film The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

With K-9’s appearance, we’ve seen every Doctor Who-related series in the US, save for the aforementioned Sarah Jane Adventures, starring the glorious Elisabeth Sladen.  While there’s no news of that show being picked up, needless to say it’d find a welcome audience.

The K-9 marathon runs Christmas Day from 10 AM – 11PM. The show is not yet scheduled for a regular time slot after the marathon. More info about the series can be found on its website, k9official.com.

A Doctor A Day – “School Reunion”

Using the new Doctor Who Limited Edition Gift Set, your noble author will make his way through as much of the modern series as he can before the Christmas episode,The Snowmen.

Dear Sweet Sarah Jane.  She was the queen of the companions, and when she showed up on screen again, decades vanished.  The Doctor and Sarah are up for a…

SCHOOL REUNION
by Toby Whithouse
Directed by James Hawes

“Oh my God…I’m the tin dog.”

Mickey has called The Doctor and Rose back to earth after learning about strange goings on at Deffry Vale High School. The Doctor is posing as a teacher, and Rose is posing as a lunch lady.  The Doctor has met students who possess knowledge that outstrips Earth Technology, let alone an eighth grade textbook, and Rose watches a fellow lunch lady taken into a back room after getting what looks like toxic waste poured on her.  So there certainly seems to be something going on.  But things take a nostalgic twist when journalist Sarah Jane Smith comes to the school to investigate the school as well. The Doctor doesn’t tell her who he is right away, but when she finds the TARDIS while snooping around the school at night, it’s not hard for her to connect the dots.  After a very emotional meeting, and a scream, they’re off and running.  Rose and Sarah start off quite catty, each making fun of the other’s age, what Mickey calls “Every man’s worst nightmare — The Missus and the Ex”.

The school has been taken over by batlike aliens called the Krillitanes.  The team makes their way out of the school, but The Doctor think he needs to head back in to analyze the mysterious oil the aliens have been sneaking into the food.  Sarah Jane has another alternative – in her car is K-9, albeit in need of repair.  While The Doctor repairs K-9, he and Sarah Jane have a heart to heart talk about what it’s like to travel the universe one day, and be back on Earth the next.  The Doctor looks guilty, but says nothing.

The Krillitanes’ plan is to use the mentally advanced schoolchildren like a massive shared-processing biocomputer, all of them running code on their PCs, attempting to crack the Skaksas Paradigm, AKA the unified field theory.  If they can do so, they will have the cheat codes to the universe.  And their leader comes to The Doctor, and offers him a chance to join them, letting his wisdom guide their new power.  He refuses of course, which starts the running up again  Chased to the kitchens, The Doctor realizes the oil they’ve been using on the kids is a perfect weapon against the aliens – their form has changed so many time, the product of their own planet is now poisonous to them.  K-9 volunteers to remain behind and set off the vats, an act that will likely result in his destruction.

There’s a lot of emotion in this episode. When Rose and Sarah Jane are introduced, the emotions are priceless.  They start off snipping at each other, and as soon as they get a chance to bond, they turn their commentary about The Doctor.  They’re perfectly written as if they’re the new and old girlfriend, each jealous of the other.  The explosive laughter when The Doctor bursts into the room after they start dishing was legitimate – David Tennant had a moustache painted on, which was hidden since his back was to the camera.

Mickey also goes through some changes as well — as he says himself, he’s not the tin dog, and he does do a good job of helping out.  But look at the look on Rose as Mickey asks to come along.  She’s not happy about it.  She’s just gotten used to the idea that she wasn’t the only person The Doctor traveled with, and she doesn’t care for the idea of Mickey sharing it with her.  It’s another sign of the rather new and unique vibe that she and The Doctor have.  But the part to realize is that no matter what he says about how he’d never leave her and all that, he does, and he’ll do it again, and come Christmas, we’ll see him find a new friend, and it’ll be off for another ride.

Elisabeth Sladen was glorious.  Coming back to Doctor Who connected the new series to the old better than any villain or baddie or witty reference ever could  Her spinoff series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, was glorious.  It’s amazing to realize that for a couple years there, we were no more than a couple months between new Doctor Who material.  she was taken from us too, too early.  But we had her for a time, and then a second time, and that’s more than we can say about a lot of people we like.

Mindy Newell: Doctor ????

Who’s your favorite Doctor?

I discovered the Time Lord back in the late 1970s (I think), when WNET, the New York PBS station, started running the Tom Baker episodes. Baker’s Doctor, with his floppy-brimmed hat, outback duster, and loonnnng, multi-colored, scarf – did Granny Who knit it for him? – was the itinerant cosmic hobo. Only instead of hopping the rails, he “tripped the light fantastic” across the universe in the TARDIS. Companions Sara Jane Smith (the late Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) were – seen with the advantage of hindsight –sort of “Mulder/Scully” prototypes, with Sara Jane as the believing Mulder and Harry as the skeptic. I can’t say that the British military operations called UNIT – Unified Intelligence Taskforce – was the FBI, although Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart did sort of act like the Assistant Director Walter Skinner, walking the high-wire tightrope between helping the Doctor and answering to his superiors.

Like every other Whovian, I mourned – and was really pissed off – when the BBC stopped producing the series.

And like every other Whovian with Cablevision, I watched the relaunch of Doctor Who on Sci-Fi, with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billy Piper – the call girl of The Secret Diary Of A Call Girl on Showtime – as his companion, Rose Tyler. I really got into Eccleston as the Doctor, and was incredibly disappointed when he chose to leave the role after only one season…until David Tennant took over the controls of the TARDIS and the wielding of the sonic screwdriver. Like Rose, I fell in love with Tennant’s Doctor.

And I was deeply upset when, after five years, Tennant left. The love story between the Doctor and Rose added new and deep emotional resonance to the series and I didn’t want their tale to end.  So I was stubbornly anti-Matt Smith as the as romanticism and emotional I was not prepared to like Matt Smith as the Doctor’s eleventh reincarnation. I thought his introduction was stupid and boring, not funny, going though young Amy Pond’s refrigerator and kitchen pantry, tasting everything, spitting out everything.

But then….

Bow ties are cool. So are fezzes.

The absolute brilliance – imho – of Smith’s first season as the Time Lord, and the introduction of Amy Pond as, first, a young girl, and then as a grown woman (Karen Gillan), with the addition of Amy’s fiancée-now-husband Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) won me over by the second episode.

Last night I watched The Science Of Doctor Who, which, like its predecessors The Science Of Star Wars and The Science Of Star Trek, explored how the show has influenced the scientists of today in making the science fiction of the Doctor science reality. Today I trolled BBC America’s Doctor Who web pages, watching sneak previews and reading about catching up on all things Whovian. Including the news that Gillan and Darvill will be exiting the show, and that it may have something to do with the Weeping Angels – to my mind the scariest and creepiest aliens to ever appear on Doctor Who. Yes, much more than the Daleks or the Cybermen.

But I do have one question.

Can someone please, please tell me when Season 7 starts?

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold and Cold Ennui

 

 

Elisabeth Sladen, 1948-2011

Elizabeth SladenThe BBC reports that Doctor Who actress Elisabeth Sladen, who joined the television series in 1973 as Doctor Who’s assistant Sarah Jane Smith and starred in the spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures, has died from cancer at the age of 63.

Elisabeth Sladen was born on February 1, 1948 in Liverpool, England. She attended drama school for two years before joining the local repertory theatre in Liverpool. She met actor Brian Miller during her first production there, they married in 1968. Early television work included appearances on “Coronation Street”, “Doomwatch”, “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em”, “Public Eye”, and “Z Cars”. Between 1974 and 1976, she had a regular role on [[[Doctor Who]]] as Sarah Jane Smith opposite Jon Pertwee and later Tom Baker, a part she reprised in K-9 and Company: A Girl’s Best Friend in 1981, “Doctor Who: The Five Doctors” in 1983, the radio serials The Paradise of Death & Doctor Who and the Ghosts of N-Space; the Children In Need skit Doctor Who: Dimensions in Time in 1993; the spin-off video drama Downtime in 1995, the new “Doctor Who” series, and most recently The Sarah Jane Adventures in 2007, which lasted for four series.

She is survived by her husband Brian and her daughter Sadie. Our deepest condolences to them.

Doctor Who’s Triple Crossover

Doctor Who’s Triple Crossover

It’s old-timers week on the next season of The Sarah Jane Adventures, due to begin airing this fall. The intrepid former companion will be reunited with the Doctor – for the first time. And her predecessor will be around to join in the action.

Matt Smith will be crossing over into Sarah Jane, marking his first time he’s taking the character to a different venue. Of course, the Doctor’s appeared with Sarah Jane Smith a great many times in a great many incarnations; in fact, she’s met and worked with most of the Doctors to date.

What’s surprising is that her immediate predecessor, Jo Grant, will also be involved in this two-parter. She left the side of the third Doctor to accompany her beau on a trip to the Amazon and was replaced in the Tardis by Sarah Jane. Katy Manning will be reprising the role.

Moreover, former Doctor Who producer Russell T. Davies, who remains producer of The Sarah Jane Adventures, has written this episode.

No word on the status of K-9 in this episode, although the little bugger will be appearing during the season. The Daleks will not be appearing, and it is therefore expected Katy will be keeping her clothes on.