Tagged: The Doctor

The New Who Review – The Bells of Saint John


How many times have you been told not to use wifi you don’t recognize?  This week’s episode takes the threat of identity theft to an all new degree.  And the only reason The Doctor found out about it at all is cause he got a call from a lady who said she couldn’t find the Internet.  Spoiler shields up, watch for falling planes, and listen for…

By Steven Moffat
Directed by Colm McCarthy

The Doctor is in the early 13th century, meditating over the living (well, living somewhere) mystery that is Clara Oswin Oswald.  So when he’s told “The Bells of St. John are ringing”, he races back to his hidden TARDIS, (with its “St. John’s Ambulance” label) where the phone in the door is ringing.  He’s getting an impossible call from modern day, from the impossible Clara Oswald, who thinks she’s calling tech support.  In London, people are mysteriously dropping dead shortly after using a rogue wifi feed.  Clara is having trouble with her wifi, and even after The Doctor comes to help, the troubles only get worse.

A great start to the series, with another trademark move of Moffat; take something common place, and make it terrifying.  He’s done it with shadows and statues, and now he’s made wifi something to be feared.  Jenna-Louise Coleman makes her (official) debut as the new companion Clara

THE MONSTER FILESThe Spoonheads are another example of a new monster that don’t actually get to do much.  Like the antibodies of Let’s Kill Hitler, they’re a physical effect that doesn’t even get to move.  The CGI head-spin thing is wonderfully unnerving, and it’s a great visual cue that something creepy is about to happen.  We’ve had any number of robots masquerading as humans, including the Teselecta from the aforementioned episode, the titular creations from The Android Invasion, not to mention The Androids of Tara.

The episode has clear similarities and parallels to Mark Gatiss’ episode The Idiot’s Lantern – an unseen force stealing people’s minds via new technology, faces trapped on TV screens, even The Doctor and his companion tooling about on a motorbike.  Many (myself included) expected to see a return of The Wire, the energy-based being from that episode, only to be happily swerved by the actual baddie.


Celia Imrie (Miss Kizlet) worked with Jenna on the recent Ttianic mini-series, appeared as the matron in both recent St. Trinian’s movies (films which have reached Kevin Bacon levels for Doctor Who connections), and was Lady Gertrude in the Gormenghast adaptation.  She brings a quiet menace to her role, and the final twist was quite tragic.

Geff Francis (George Maitland) actually does spell it like that. He was a regular in the Life on Mars spinoff Ashes to Ashes, as well as on the The Singing Detective.  Doctor Who is not afraid to get very good actors for even the smallest parts, but I’m rather hoping that the Maitland family appears again before the end of Clara’s story.  There’s a lot of story going on here, and each of the three actors had clear emotions built into their portrayals. Eve De Leon Allen (Angie), star of Nuzzle and Scratch, did particularly well at playing a young girl who has lost her mum, even in the brief moments she had on screen. Eve is the actor whose copy of the Neil Gaiman script was lost in a cab, which suggests that she, and hopefully the rest of the family will indeed be back, at least in that episode.

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS – Trivia and production details

CREDITS WHERE CREDITS ARE DUE – The credit sequence is largely unchanged from the Christmas episode, but the theme has undergone another slight tweak.  the strings are pushed to the background, possibly gone altogether, and the four-beat theme has been pulled more to the front.  The song is a lot deeper, more in the bass range. Some of the sound effects have been edited – the electric twinkly bits have been softened as the Doctor Who logo disintegrates. It’s been shortened slightly – a couple of the motifs are missing as the sequence races to the episode title and the opening of the TARDIS doors, which I must say I love.

SET PIECES – We get a longer look at the new TARDIS in this episode, including the space under the main control floor, which has a wooden storage chest that resembles the design of the short-lived wooden TARDIS set first seen in The Masque of Mandragora.  We’re supposed to see a great deal more of the ship’s interior in an episode later in this series.

“He’s definitely not a monk” – The Meddling Monk was the first Time Lord other than The Doctor seen in the series, way back in the Hartnell days, even before the term “Time Lord” had been coined.  The Doctor also disguised himself as a monk, a headless one, during the Battle of Demon’s Run in A Good Man Goes To War, and briefly at the end of The Wedding of River Song.

“Eleven’s the best – you’ll cry your eyes out” – The book Summer Falls is written by Amelia Williams, AKA Amy Pond.  This is a further clue into her life in New York after the events of The Angels Take Manhattan – she clearly got into both writing, and later publishing, as she was also responsible for publishing the Melody Malone adventures.

Summer Falls will be made available as an e-book tie-in as the Melody Malone adventure was, via BBC E-books on April 2nd.

“That is NOT supposed to happen!” – The Doctor does get calls in his TARDIS, but usually on the phone on the console. The phone on the outside door is not supposed to ring.  The last time it did was in The Empty Child, when the mysterious young boy was able to communicate through it.  I hasten to add that the young Melody Pond had the same ability to communicate through any phone, as seen in The Impossible Astronaut. I also love the fact that the handset’s cord is comically long.

“You know, I never realized how much I enjoy hering that said out loud” – The Question, “Doctor Who?” has been a recurring theme since the very beginning of the series.  It’s become an important plot point since the end of The Wedding of River Song, when it was connected to The Question, asked on the Fields of Trenzilore, at an event know eerily as The Fall of the Eleventh.  There have already been teaser ads suggesting that in the anniversary episode, we would learn The Doctor’s true name. Fan rage has risen to high levels over that, and we shall have to wait till November to see how that works out.

“Fine, let’s do it together” Fans of Douglas Adams will recognize that gag from The Hitchhiker’s Guid to the Galaxy as Zaphod and Ford attempt to pilot the Disaster Area sun-dive ship (Or if you’re a REAL fan, the Captain of the Haghunemnon fleet).

“Earl’s Court was an embarrassment” – Earl’s Court is the location of the last police box in London, and yes, it’s blue, and yes, it’s quite the tourist attraction for Who-fen.

“I never take the TARDIS into battle” – The Doctor is driving a Triumph motorcycle, a brand as beloved to the UK as Rolls Royce.  The “Trusty Triumph” was the model of choice for soldiers in World War II.  Plus, now we know the TARDIS has a garage as well as a swimming pool.

Old friends…very old friends” – UNIT was founded after the second televised appearance of The great Inteligence, thought its leader, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart was instrumental in its defeat in the Underground in The Web of Fear.  Presumably it kept tabs on The Doctor and his friends in any way it could.

“You don’t run out on the people you care about…wish I was like that” – I’m starting to get actively annoyed with this idea that The Doctor is such a horror to be with.  It’s become a recurring idea since The Stolen Planet, and it flies in the face of the experiences of very nearly all of his friends.  Yes, the ends have been tragic for a small few, and the rest leave his company as far better people, who go on with their lives doing all they can to make the world a better place.  The level of guilt he feels is out of place.  He feekls bad about losing Amy and Rory to the Angels, but he knows for a fact they ended up fine.

BIG BAD WOLF REPORT – This may be the fastest reveal of the Big Bad in the new series’ history.  The Great Intelligence, generally suspected to be making a quick return after the Christmas episode The Snowmen, were revealed as the mysterious “Client”. It had been announces that Richard E. Grant would be appearing in the series again, tho the BBC was quite mum as to exactly who he would be playing. We can see why.

“The Girl Twice Dead” – Clara’s story is clearly and obviously going to be the biggest puzzle of the series.  The three iterations of her we’ve seen so far have delightful parallels, and surely more will be found as the episodes roll on.

We already have more than a few Clara-parallels…Clarallels, if you will:

She was a governess in The Snowmen, with a penchant for helping others. She’s helping a family cope with the loss of their mother in present day, and while her title was “Junior Entertainment Manager” on the Starship Alaska, that could be read not as an assistant to the manager, but the person in charge of entertaining the “juniors” as in, watching the children on the ship.

“RYCBAR123” – Aside from the fact that Whovians everywhere are updating their wifi network names and passwords, this was modern Clara’s inspiration to repeat the phrase across time “Run you clever boy and remember”, uttered by both past and future Clara at their passing, and get him interested in her.

“I call him Nina” – The pet name Oswin gave Rory, after a past paramour (“I was going through a phase”) pop’s up again, as the name of one of Angie’s friends.  Yes, it’s a common name, but this is Doctor Who – there are no coincedences.

Just Clara Oswald, what was that middle one?” – Clara comes up with the name “Oswin” as a username when she starts hacking Miss Kislet’s network, but it’s the same name the other two versions of her has.

“The girl at the shop gave it to me, said it was the best help line in the universe” – With the announcement that David Tennant and Billie Piper are returning to the series for the anniversary, Clever Theories are running amuck that Rose was the aforementioned girl in the shop.  It might be, and it might not be, but the point is, SOMEONE gave her the number to the TARDIS, and helped her get found.

“101 Places to see…” Even thought the book is designed to resemble The Daring Book for Girls (a sequel to The Dangerous Book for Boys), the traditional end of that title is “…before you die”.  Also, if you look about her room, ALL her books have to do with traveling and foreign lands.  Many brain cells have been spent on the significance of both the 16 and 23 being skipped in the years in the book.  It could be waved off as simply a brief lack of interest in the book those years; last year would have been the time her friend died, and she may have been distracted, for example.  But the 23 is a significant number – it’s popped up as Victorian Claras’s birthday (specifically, Novenmer 23rd, the date of the show’s first broadcast) and she mistypes “123” earlier in the episode.  And of course, since by delightful coincidence November 23rd is a Saturday this year, the anniversary episode will screen on the exact right day.

Page One may contain a leaf (Maple, I believe – are there many maples trees in England?), but page two contains a letter appearing to be from something or someone named “Delsa”.  No ideas who that is yet, but again, they don’t put things in by mistake.

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – The Doctor is SICK of…well, no, he seems quite excited by the idea of Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. Lestrade finds his division, Ron Weasley’s did is also Rory’s dad (so…related?) and also Queen Nefertiti. Seven days away…you busy?

David Tennant, Billie Piper in Doctor Who 50th

David-Billie-billie-piper-and-david-tennant-27911403-250-400Announced just hours before the series premiere this evening, the BBC confirmed the first casting information for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, and they started big.  David Tennant will make his return to the series, as will Billie Piper, reprising her role as Rose.

Tennant’s Doctor regenerated into Matt Smith on January 1, 2010; Billie was last seen in a cameo as Rose on the same adventure.  Rose left the Doctor two years previous, on “Pete’s World” a parallel Earth, in the company of a human clone of The Doctor, created as a result of the fight with the Daleks in The Stolen Planet / Journey’s End.  At this point, there’s no definite verification whether Tennant will return as The (original) Doctor or his Pete’s World clone.

Also announced as a member of the cast is John Hurt, British acting icon with quite a long resume in genre work, including Merlin, V For Vendetta, Elephant Man, Harry Potter, and 1984.

Tennant and Piper have spent much of the past months denying vehemently and whimsically their appearance in the series. David reported in a recent appearance on The Graham Norton Show that a representative arrived backstage to remind him not to talk about the special, “…and I don’t even know anything!”

Other actors associated with the show have been equally reticent about their appearance, and the few that have dropped tidbits have been rapped on the proverbial knuckles.  John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness) announced that he was “talking” to the BBC to appear, only to have to retract that comment, followed by a tweet some weeks later stating definitively that he would not be appearing.

Filming for the new special begins this week, directed by Nick Hurran and written by Steven Moffat.  Odds are that news of additional casting will filter out over the next weeks, either officially or via the hordes of fans which will certainly descend on each location shoot.

Marcus Sedgwick Writes Third Doctor Who Anniversary E-Book

This month’s anniversary Doctor Who e-book will be penned by British author Marcus Sedgwick, writer of the acclaimed novel Floodland,

The Spear of Destiny features The Doctor in his third incarnation and his assistant Jo Grant as they attempt to retrieve Odin’s spear Gungnir. Marcus notes an interesting parallel between “mythology and legend”, as he puts it – Odin was hung on the World Tree for nine days, until finally his side was pierced by his own weapon, the spear Gungnir. This same even would re-appear in Christian dogma as part of of the Crucifixion.

Braking from the previous two books, Mr. Sedgwick has elected to bring back a classic Who villain.  And this being the Pertwee era Doctor, there could be no more iconic villain that The Master.

Mr Sedgwick’s response to writing for the classic her is appropriately calm and reserved. from his Blog:

Doctor Who is iconic. There is no other word for it. It’s now been a part of British culture for 50 years. 50! That’s a lot. So I admit that when I finally sat down to write the opening words of my story, I had a sudden freeze. Hands poised over the keyboard, I thought “Holy -insert-your-own-expletive-here-, this is Doctor Who! Doctor Who!”

Following the practice of the previous releases, The Spear of Destiny will be released on the 23rd.  Pre-orders are available at Amazon.com.

Second “Doctor Who” anniversary e-book by Michael Scott

The BBC and Puffin books are continuing the monthly releases celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. The second adventure, starring the second Doctor (played by Patrick Troughton) will be titled The Nameless City, written by Michael Scott, author of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel.

The synopsis promises new adventures and a new foe for The Doctor:

“When Jamie McCrimmon brings the Doctor a mysterious book, little does he realise the danger contained within its pages. The book transports the TARDIS to a terrifying glass city on a distant world, where the Archons are intent on getting revenge on the Time Lord for an ancient grudge.”

Apparently featuring Jamie as The Doctor’s Sole companion, it is likely this adventure takes place in the fan-theorized “Season 6B”, a period of time after the events of Troughton’s last adventure The War Games, but before the first Pertwee adventure, Spearhead from Space.  Many fans, including now Who writer Paul Cornell, surmised that for a period of time, the Time Lords  had The Doctor perform certain tasks for them, before his eventual regeneration.  The Tardis Data Core wiki has a good run-down of the theory, which has effectively been accepted into continuity by the BBC.

The book will be released on 2/23, and can be pre-ordered via Amazon.com.

Mindy Newell: Today’s About Yesterday

Newell Art 130128Last week I told you about my family’s celebration of my dad’s 90th birthday. This week I’m going to talk about another birthday.

The Doctor’s.

Doctor who?

That’s right.

He turns 50 years this year, plus another 1000 – give or take. And tonight – uh, last night, actually – all us Whovians are – uh, were, actually – being treated to the first of a series of special events celebrating his golden anniversary, with The Doctors Revisited: The First Doctor, which is going to be – uh, was, actually – on at 9:00 PM, to be followed – uh, was followed – by a re-airing of the sixth episode, The Aztecs. I’m surprised – I mean was surprised – that the producers didn’t choose to air the first episode, An Unearthly Child.

In that episode, schoolteachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright become – became – curious and concerned about their 15-year-old student, Susan Foreman. Although the girl is – was – brilliant in science and history, but she doesn’t – didn’t – know how many shillings there are – were – in a pound. In fact, she says – said – that English currency is – was – on the decimal system. And she argues – argued – that she cannot – couldn’t – solve an equation about dimensions with only “a.” “b,” and “c” – there must be a “d” and an “e,” she insists – insisted. They follow – followed – her home one evening and discover – discovered – that Susan apparently lives – lived – in a police box sitting in the middle of the junkyard. Shortly afterwards, Barbara and Ian break – broke – into the police box and meet – met – Susan’s grandfather, a churlish old man who introduces – introduced – himself as the Doctor.

And that’s when they discover – discovered – that the police box is – well, actually, the police box is still the – a TARDIS, a strange machine which is bigger on the inside than it appears on the outside – well, actually, it still is – and which travels through space and time – well, actually, it still does, though it can’t return to fixed points in time, as we saw in this season’s The Angels Take Manhattan. The Doctor is – was – afraid that Barbara and Ian will – would – tell the authorities what they have seen, so he activates – activated – the TARDIS and takes – took – them all to the Stone Age.

I’ve never seen any of William Hartnell’s episodes – uh, well, actually, now I have – and I’m really looking forward to seeing The Aztecs – uh, I mean, I was looking forward to it.

It was really good.

Wasn’t it?





REVIEW: Eoin Colfer kicks off Doctor Who 50th anniversary with new 1st Doctor adventure

320921_582666958414002_1737952903_n-290x446-3066346Some things we now know about the Doctor thanks to Eoin Colfer, writer of the Artemis Fowl books:

The Doctor hates Blakes 7.

The Doctor has lost a hand before.

The Doctor’s first stop on Earth was not 1963.

Colfer’s e-book, A Big Hand for the Doctor, is the first of eleven monthly releases, each featuring a different Doctor.  Eoin (“Owen”) chose the first Doctor, as played by William Hartnell, and takes advantage of that by doing an end-run around continuity and setting his adventure before the first adventure of the series.  In it, he is in Victorian London, recuperating from a battle with a band of organleggers who kidnap children from their bedrooms, wasting “not a molecule” of their biomass, resulting in their fearful moniker, the Soul Pirates.  The Doctor lost a hand in a sword fight with their leader, and while a new one is grown for him, a helpful alien surgeon fits him with a functional if unattractive metal claw.  His granddaughter Susan has disobeyed (of course) and set off after the Soul Pirates herself, only serving to get herself caught in their glittering tractor beam.  The Doctor must fight off the hordes of slow-witted pirates to save the children, as well as match wits with their leader, a young man who has chosen to wear The Doctor’s severed hand around his neck.

The short story (only about 5,000 words) is witty and charming, with wonderful tossaway details of still more adventures unseen and yet to come.  The story is laced with parallels to a certain classic of children’s literature, all tied up with a cameo by the author at the end, once again showing that even when he’s not aware of it, The Doctor can’t help but to help.

The authors of the rest of the anniversary adventures are a closely-guarded secret  Each will be revealed around the beginning of each month.  A number of names have been floated by numerous websites with little evidence or basis in fact, mainly to draw clicks to their pages.  The first book is available at many e-book dealers including Amazon.com.

New Who Review: “The Snowmen”

Oh, Steven Moffat, you magnificent bastard. The return of a villain before it and The Doctor have ever met, a reunion with a character The Doctor’s never actually met, the team-up of three characters, one of whom died in the far future, and a couple of surprise guests.  A nice little Christmas present, and what’s Christmas without…

By Steven Moffat
Directed by Saul Metzstein

A young boy is met by a talking snowman, one who promises he can help him.  Fifty years later, and Dr. Walter Simeon has become quite a successful man, head of a prestigious institute, and still working with the sentient snowstorm to prepare for a coming assault on the earth.  Madame Vastra and Jenny are curious as to Dr. Simeon’s plans, but get nowhere.  Meanwhile, a young barmaid named Clara has noticed a snowman pop up out of nowhere, and though the man she asks randomly about it seems disinterested, his curiosity is piqued, something The Doctor has been trying to avoid.

Clara is quite a mystery – she’s living a double life as the Governess for two young children.  Their previous governess drowned in a pond outside their manor last winter, which froze over so quickly and thickly they never even found the body for a month.  During that time, the Snow had time to analyze her DNA, providing them a perfect blueprint with which they plan to use to create more sturdy and permanent forms for itself.  The challenge is not for The Doctor to defeat the Snowmen and its secret leader…but to get The Doctor interested enough to care.

Brilliant episode from head to toe.  The chemistry between Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman is positively captivating, as we saw in Asylum of the Daleks, but here, with both on screen at once, it’s explosive.  Dan Starkey pulls in a leaves-you-breathless comedic performance as Strax, one so good it’ll be hard to take him seriously if (when?) he appears again.  Unlike most of the previous Christmas specials, this one has a more direct connection to the narrative of the show.  They’re usually a rather done-in-one story that can be enjoyed on its own. But here, as with The Christmas Invasion, the story leads right into the start of the new semi-season this Spring/Summer.

Once again, Moffat has created a character rippling with mystery.  Why was she working for Captain Latimer, and more importantly, why does her face seem to be spread across time?


The Great Intelligence has been rumored for a return to the show for at least two years. Of course, so has damn near every other villain.  Appearing twice during the Troughton era, it was a disembodied consciousness that was able to remotely animate constructs, created with the help of wiling human compatriots.  Its favorite form in past battles have been giant robotic Yeti, also know as Abominable Snowmen, which was also the title of their first adventure.  It appeared again in London in The Web of Fear, the adventure that also introduced us to then-Colonel Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, who would soon receive a promotion, and assignment to U.N.I.T.

The prose novels added a great deal to the history of the Intelligence, as it did for many of the villains of the series.  In them it was revealed that it is in fact Yog-Sothoth, one of the Old Ones chronicled in the H.P. Lovecraft stories.  Neil Gaiman revealed in an interview that he had initially intended House, the villain from his previous episode The Doctor’s Wife, was to have been the Great Intelligence, or at least was to have been heavily hinted as such.  While none of those allusions remained, its modus operandi is sufficiently similar as to still make the connection possible.

Madame Vastra is a Silurian, an ancient lizard race who escaped under the Earth’s crust to save themselves from what they saw as an extinction-level threat in the form of an asteroid heading for the planet.  When the asteroid was instead captured by the Earth’s gravity and became our moon, it allowed other races to rise to planetary dominance, namely Humanity.  The Doctor has faced the Silurians several times both in the new and original series.  Madame Vastra and her human partner Jenny, were introduced in A Good Man Goes to War, as was Strax, the Sontaran clone warrior, sentenced to the ultimate shame, to  serve as a nurse.


dwchristmas04-300x199-3196543Richard Grant (Dr. Simeon) has been a staple of British comedy and drama for years.  He first came to note in Withnail and I, co-starring with the future Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann. He’s been in mad satiric comedies like How to Get Ahead in Advertising and Hudson Hawk, has played the Scarlet Pimpernel, starred in the underrated Warlock, and been in far too many more to list.  He has also had quite a history with Doctor Who.  He’s played The Doctor twice, once in Moffat’s oft-referenced Comic Relief sketch The Curse Of Fatal Death, and once in an animated adventure The Scream of the Shalka. That had been intended as a sort of pilot for a new Who series that never materialized.  It was quiet shuffled out of continuity when the new series started with a different ninth Doctor.

Ian McKellen (voice of the Intelligence) is Magneto and Gandalf. Get Over It.

Juliet Cadzow (voice of the ice governess) has had a long career on British television and on film, but is likely best known as Edie McCredie from the cult favorite children’s show Balamory.

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS – Trivia and production details

CREDITS WHERE CREDITS ARE DUE – New credit sequence, and a new mix of the theme, but even then, a return of some old motifs.  The Doctor’s face has been missing from the opening sequence ever since the new series began, but its made a happy return here.  Also, The TARDIS seems to traveling through space for more of the sequence than through time.  The vortex has gone through some changes as well.  In the initial credits sequence it seems made of energy, much resembling a “laser tunnel” effect.  In the first Matt Smith sequence, the vortex took on a more smoky look, one that became progressively more violent in the episodes of this season.  Now it’s taken a look of a column of flame.  One theoy has suggested that the change represented a change in The Doctor’s mood and experiences, rather than mere a change in the vortex itself.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION – The episode was filmed in Bristol, which features a number of Victorian style locales, and makes for easy conversion.

THE ROSE AND CROWN – well, “Rose” is rather obvious, but one could also argue that a Crown is worn by someone who is…Noble.

YOU DON’T NEED THEM, YOU JUST THINK THEY MAKE YOU LOOK CLEVER – The Doctor is wearing Amy Pond’s glasses, last seen in The Angels Take Manhattan. It’s the only bit of clothing or accessories remaining from his previous costume.  Even the bow tie is different.

DON’T KNOW WHERE, DON’T KNOW WHEN… Note Clara’s birthday – November 23rd, same day Doctor Who premiered in 1963.

“Those were the days” – What’s interesting is that we have NO clue exactly how long The Doctor has been out of the Saving The Universe business.  Take a look at the TARDIS – the exterior is a weather-beaten mess.  And even though the interior has a brand new design, I’ve already suggested that it is in fact the ship’s “default” setting, indicating that he didn’t care if it had any character anymore.

‘You realize Dr. Doyle is almost certainly basing his fantastical tales on your own exploits” – And that sound you hear is reality folding in upon itself.  Moffat is, of course, also the showrunner on the new Sherlock series starring Smaug and Bilbo Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, and fans have been doing crossovers between the two series for some time now.

“And remember…” Clara is another woman that The Doctor is meeting out of order.  Like River Song, there’s clearly much more going on with her than any average woman.  Unlike Amy Pond, she’s got a very inquisitive nature, and was involved in her own little mysteries before the Doctor even arrived.  She lives a double life, as the governess of the two children, who just happen to be in the middle of a dangerous situation.  Rather like how Sarah jane and Donna Noble were inspired to investigate and help people after they met The Doctor.  But Clara hadn’t MET The Doctor yet.  Or has she?

BIG BAD WOLF REPORT – There’s two possibilities here.  Rumors abound that the Great Intelligence will return throughout the back end of the season as the Big Bad. This story works perfectly as a stand-alone origin story for the entity, but could also serve as the start of a “You created me” story that could wind up in the season finale.

It seems very clear that one theme of at least the beginning of the semi-season will be the search for Clara.  The clips in the Coming Soon teaser show that Clara’s influence is all across time – note the painting, and the fact that she seems to be wearing many different outfits.  Yes, she could certainly be just changing clothes…but who’s to say it’s not a different Clara in each episode?

NEXT TIME ON DOCTOR WHO – As is traditional at these points, that’s quite up in the air.  We know we’ll be seeing…

  • A Cyberman episode by Neil Gaiman
  • Diana Rigg and her daughter in another Victorian era adventure
  • An episode written by Mark Gatiss

Can’t wait to see what else.

A Doctor A Day – “Army of Ghosts / Doomsday”

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.

The mysterious spectral shapes that have been appearing across London are not what they appear.  What becomes a Doctor Who fan’s greatest wish come true starts as an…

by Russell T Davies
Directed by Graeme Harper

“Daleks have no concept of elegance.” “This is obvious.”

Returning to Earth, The Doctor and Rose are surprised to learn that ghosts have been appearing all over the world.  Rather than being met with fear, they’ve become a national phenomenon.  People await their by-the-clock appearances and disappearances daily, and happily discuss the visitations with each other and on the TV.  What they don’t realize is they’re actually being caused by experiments at the Torchwood Institute, attempting to perfect a machine that would cross dimensional barriers to obtain new energy sources.  But even that is only means to an end, to open a mysterious sphere that resists all testing and analysis.  As The Doctor attempts to analyze the ghosts, Torchwood detects the shift in the field and realizes he’s in the area.  So when he identifies the source and heads there, they’re ready for him.

Following from Queen Victoria’s dictate, Torchwood exists to study alien technology as a defense for the nation, and they view The Doctor as an enemy, regardless of the number of times he’s saved the world.  He’s immediately taken into custody and the TARDIS impounded.  Showing him the sphere, he identifies it as a void ship, designed to travel, and hide, in the space between dimensions. He convinces them to stop the testing, but the people (well, I say people…)  behind the breach have been slowly taking over the staff, and they initiate a final breach, and stand revealed as…Cybermen.  The ghosts across the world fully materialize as Cybermen, and almost immediately seize control.

Ah, so they’re hiding in that void ship sphere, right?  Wellll, no.  The Void Ship was what pushed through to our world first, a weakness the Cybermen took advantage of.  It’s a life raft for a race that thought they would not survive its final battle.  It’s the Daleks.  Carrying a Genesis Ark, they plan to repopulate the world with new Daleks, and with no Time Lords to stop them, nothing should stop them from conquering the universe.

Well…ONE Time Lord.  And luckily, a small army from Pete’s world, who cobbled together technology to follow the Cybermen through the Void.  But is that going to be enough to fight the two most powerful enemies The Doctor has ever faced at once?

The Doctor Who team did a great job keeping the return of the Daleks secret, basically by making it blatant that the Cybermen were returning.  There’s not a Whofan on Earth who hasn’t considered how cool a Cybermen/Dalek team-up would be, and to finally see it was a surprise indeed. The first discussion between the two foes is absolutely hilarious.


A great close of the season, and a happy ending for Rose and Jackie.  Following up on the idea of alternate universe replacements, Pete has almost no hesitation in accepting “our” Jackie and Rose as his new family, and since it meets the happy ending parameters we want, we do as well.

The Cybermen got a small upgrade in this adventure, the retractable wrist-cannon.  They had no offensive weapon in the earlier adventure, and had to “delete” their enemies hand-to-hand.  We also saw a rather big change to the Daleks as well, with the Cult of Skaro, three Daleks bred to have independent thought, to come up with ideas that a normal brute-force Dalek never could.  It’s an idea that had been addressed before, with the need to find Davros in Destiny of the Daleks.

The original “Ghostwatch” was a very controversial one-shot special presented on the BBC in 1992, and never repeated in the UK.  Presented as a reality/documentary show about ghosts, it was in fact a staged drama.  British chat show legend Michael Parkinson  hosted what was to be a live investigation of spectral activity in a house in North London eventually resulted in the ghosts taking control of the broadcast and remotely possessing Parkinson as the show ended.  Even though it was touted as a drama, complete with “written by” and cast credits in the opening, the show was met with a reaction similar to the classic War of the Worlds broadcast.  There’s copies of it floating about the Internet, and is well worth a look.

Musical motifs from what would become the Torchwood theme appear in this episode’s score, which rather makes sense since Murray Gold provides the music for both.

Yes, that is Freema Aygeman as a worker at Torchwood.  Doctor Who has become almost legendary at choosing from its own for larger parts— Eve Myles will be back shortly for Torchwood, and Karen Gillan made her first appearance as a prophetess in The Fires of Pompeii.  It didn’t start in the new series, either.  Colin Baker, Doctor number six, first appeared as Commander Maxil in Arc of Infinity.

Merry Christmas from ComicMix!

May you all have a very merry Christmas, and may the Doctor keep you safe from any and all snow goons today– particularly the ones that try to trick you by sounding friendly like Gandalf! (Tricksy snowmen… we hates them!)

Hat tip to James Hance, whose artwork gave us the inspiration. Go buy his prints!

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.