Tagged: Tom Baker

Mindy Newell: Jumping In On Doctor Who

The Doctor: “Time is a structure relative to ourselves. Time is the space made by our lives, where we stand together forever. Time and relative dimension in space. It means life… This is the gateway to everything that ever was and ever can be.
Bill: …Can I use the toilet?

“The Pilot,” Doctor Who, Second Series 10, Episode 1

 My daughter Alixandra has wanted to watch Doctor Who but she’s been intimidated by the idea of catching up with 50 years of the show’s history. Hey, who wouldn’t be? I told her to start with “new Who,” with Christopher Eccleston’s as the 9th Doctor, which was “only” 12 years ago (is it really over a decade already?) and that “Rose,” the first episode, would do a great job of hooking her into the basics – although she already sorta knows them, as she remembers me watching the Tom Baker years of Doctor Who when the show aired on Saturday mornings on Channel 13, the New York City PBS station.

She was very young then, not much more than a toddler, so that was a surprise to me – as well as a lesson to grown-ups: be careful what you say around the young ‘uns. Apparently, little pitchers really do have big ears.

I also sent her a list of shows from a website I found, “Desperately Unrehearsed,” which lists every episode from the aforementioned “Rose” to Matt Smith’s dénouement, “The Time of The Doctor,” with a pretty good opinion – at least one I basically agreed with – of what was essential and what was not (along with YMMV).

But I also just sent her a text: “The 10th series premiered Saturday night. It’s called “The Pilot,and it might be a good place for you to start, as it introduces a new companion and reintroduces the basic ideas.”

She sent me back a “thumbs-up” emoji.

I texted her back a few minutes later, because I forgot to say in the first text: “Plus, Peter Capaldi.”

Fans of Outlander (me, included) are currently suffering from what is known as the “Droughtlander,” – the last episode of Season 2 aired on July 9, 2016, and the series is not returning to Showtime until September – but the wait for Series 10 of Doctor Who has been interminable. The last episode of Series 9 (“Hell Bent”) aired here in the States on December 5, 2015. We did get two Christmas specials, the first run three weeks later on December 25, 2016 (“The Husbands of River Song”) and the second (“The Return of Doctor Mysterio”) a year later.

Outlander is not even giving us that…

But was the wait worth it?

“The Pilot” was not only a singularly great show all by itself, it was also a fantastic kick-off, with past and future colliding – dialogue that was timey-winey-twisted; pictures of a lost wife and granddaughter; sonic screwdrivers from just about every regeneration collected in a jug; and a vault (reminiscent of the Pandorica box) that the Doctor is protecting.

The trailers featuring Pearl Mackie as new companion Bill Potts did not exactly excite me, nor did they do Mackie any justice. The “big” news that Bill is gay. However, and that’s a big however, I was completely charmed by Ms. Mackie and her character by the half-way mark of “The Pilot. That is way faster than I turned on to Jenna Coleman’s Clara Oswald, Karen Gillian’s Amelia (Amy) Pond, and Arthur Darvill’s Rory Williams. The only companions that equal the speed with which I fell in love with Bill Potts were Elisabeth Sladen’s Sarah Jane Smith (of course!) and Billy Piper’s Rose Tyler.

I wasn’t all that impressed with Matt Lucas’s Nardole previously, not in “The Husbands of River Song” nor in “The Return of Doctor Mysterio.But in “The Pilot,Nardole came into his own; he is the bridge between the Doctor and Bill, and the bridge, I think, between the universe of Doctor Who and ours, the “Greek chorus” of the audience, of us.

Stephanie Hyman’s Heather, the girl with the star in her eye, was eerily beautiful, bewitching, chilling, and ultimately heartbreaking. And by the way, Ms. Hyman, kudos to you for playing 90% of your part soaking wet.

I also want to give a shout-out to “The Pilot’s” cinematography, editing, and special effects.

As for Peter Capaldi; well, im-not-so-ho, Mr. Capaldi will become, as he leaves the show behind and moves on with his life, one of those Doctors who will leave an indelible mark upon the character and the 50-year history of Doctor Who. If you must go, Mr. Capaldi, then you must…

But I wish you weren’t.

 

Mike Gold: Up The River Without a TARDIS

If you were to ask me if I had a favorite character among all the heroic fantasy teevee shows and movies over the past five years, and damnit I wish you would, I would immediately respond “River Song.”

For those who came in late, here’s the mandatory Journalism 101 background:

River Song is an ongoing but breathtakingly occasional character in Doctor Who. A remarkably capable, strong and intelligent archaeologist/con artist/warrior-protector with a great sense of humor and about 92% of all the sexuality ever expressed in the 54-year history of the program, she has been, is, and/or will be married to the Doctor – it’s time travel, Mr. Gittes – and that poses all sorts of thrilling opportunities. It also begs the issue of “until regeneration do us part.” She’s kind of a partial Time Lord, having absorbed some of the Doctor’s DNA while being conceived in the TARDIS. Yes, she’s the daughter of two of the Doctor’s former companions.


Yup. I really love time travel.

Ms. Song is played by Alex Kingston, and in addition to some crackerjack writing from Steven Moffat, Ms. Kingston is the reason why this complicated yet highly entertaining character works. She’s known in the States for her work on such teevee shows as Arrow (where she plays Dinah Lance I), Gilmore Girls, Macbeth (playing Lady Macbeth; duh), Upstairs Downstairs (the 2012 series), Law and Order SUV, and ER. My favorite of her work that I have seen came in the teevee movie The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders, where she played the title character and shared the boards with such folks as Diana Rigg and Daniel Craig.

In other words, Alex Kingston’s career orbits the nexus of fan reality.

You might ask why I’m bringing River Song to your attention at this time, if I already hadn’t just done that. The people at Big Finish, arguably the world’s largest publisher of original full-cast audio stories, released their second box set of River Song adventures. The Diary of River Song Series 2 co-stars Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy, both playing her husband The Doctor, and together the four adventures runs about four hours and change, not counting the bonus “behind the scenes” disc full of audio extras.

The downloadable version can be secured from Big Finish for a mere twenty bucks American, Amazon is charging a bit more for the physical five CD box set.

This isn’t a review because I have yet to hear the material. If it sucks, I’ll apologetically apologize anon… once the surprise wears off. I’m a big fan of Big Finish’s work, although I’ve only heard a fraction of their couple-thousand hours of original Doctor Who material starring all of the living Doctors from Tom Baker to John Hurt aside from Matt Smith (as of this writing). More to the point, I listened to The Diary of River Song Series 1 starring Alex Kingston and Paul McGann (the eighth doctor, if you were to count them in order of first appearance) during one of my infamous cross-country drives and it was absolutely great.

River Song last appeared in the 2015 Christmas special “The Husbands of River Song.” It was her first meeting with her husband Peter Capaldi, and because of where it is set in time she does not recognize The Doctor. In fact, she’s married to someone else, for a while. It’s a great jumping on episode for those who haven’t seen River Song, Peter Capaldi’s doctor, and/or Doctor Who. It’s well-written, clever as hell, sensual to excess and more fun than a barrel of monkeys. And we all know everything is better with a monkey.

Even better: this episode gave us the introduction of Nardole, played by British comedian Matt Lucas. He returned for this year’s Christmas special as the Doctor’s, umm, valet (the Doctor is companionless for the nonce) and Nardole will return for about a half-dozen episodes in the upcoming season. Americans might recognize him for his role in Community where, coincidentally, he played a fan of the ersatz teevee show Inspector Spacetime.

I hope to see River return sometime this season as it is Steven Moffat’s last as writer/showrunner. I hope to see River Song return anywhere at any time, if that latter phrase has any real meaning in a world where time travel exists.

But, hey, I’ll settle for Alex Kingston returning damn well anywhere.

The Quest is Ended: Tom Baker joins Doctor Who Legacy

Collectors love completing a set.  So imagine the joy of players of Doctor Who: Legacy when it was announced that Tom Baker, a.k.a. “Four,” had been approved for addition to the game, thus giving a full set of Doctors. The download code for Tom Baker was released earlier today via Kotaku.

IMG_0026The free-to-play game has gained a steady stream of additional content since its release last December– dozens of new  Companions, costumes for both friends and Doctors alike, new levels based on past episodes and seasons of the show, and a plethora of enemies new and old.

With the new season, new content has kicked into high gear. Levels and characters based on each new episode have been added every week shortly after their broadcast.

By keeping in touch via the game’s Facebook page or their newsletter, players can receive free download codes for the new content, as well as being able to receive alternate versions of the characters by playing special expert levels, or via the fan area. The fan area opens up once a player buys five time crystals, the game’s premium currency, and is well worth the minor expense.

BWBrig

Special black and white editions of The Brigadier and the First and Second Doctors give a clue as the depth and detail the game offers.

Doctor Who has been steadily increasing his footprint in the videogame world.  Official Minecraft skins were released recently for the Xbox version of the game, and the BBC has just unveiled a new game for the CBBC website, The Doctor and the Dalek, an educational game that teaches programming skills by allowing the player to take control of a malfunctioning Dalek.

Doctor Who: Legacy is free for AppleAndroid and Kindle devices, as well as playable online via Facebook.

Classic Doctor Who Debuts Monday On Retro TV

Starting Monday, August 4, digital television provider Retro TV will be presenting the surviving “classic” episodes of Doctor Who weekdays at 8PM.  the series will start as it should with William Hartnell as The Doctor in An Unearthly Child, and will continue in order, right through to the Sylvester McCoy series.

When broadcast television switched over to digital, stations received a bonus two digital sub-channels thanks to the extra ability to compress data.  Most stations had no plan of their own to utilize these stations, which allowed for the rise of third party programming providers like Retro, Me-TV and many more.  Offering mostly reruns of classic television, these channels have greatly expanded the number of classic shows available.  While most classic TV station were only available through cable subscriptions, these new channels are available over the air, allowing everyone to enjoy them.

Retro TV scored a double-hit this summer for science-fiction fans.  In addition to the adventures of the renegade Time Lord, they brought the travails of a man in space forced to watch cheesy movies with his robot friends back to the air when they premiered Mystery Science Theater 3000 earlier in the Summer.

RetroMST

Retro TV brought MST3K back to the air earlier this summer.

“Bringing MST3K and Doctor Who to Retro TV has been a passion project,” explains Matt Golden, Vice President of Production,  “not only for myself, but others in the organization that love the shows and are thrilled to be able to share them with our audience. It’s for fans, by fans.”

Although the original broadcasts of Doctor were without commercials, Retro is doing everything possible to keep from editing the episodes.  “A few of the episodes will be slightly edited for time. That said, it’s the minority.” Matt Golden clarifies.  “For instance, of the first batch of episodes processed, there are only 20 out of those 121 episodes that are longer than we can support and thus need to be trimmed.”

“For the few that are over our prescribed durations, we’re making extremely judicious cuts, with careful consideration toward content and flow. Moreover, we’re not making any cuts that aren’t absolutely necessary, and the ones we have to make range from 30-60 seconds. We won’t be utilizing time compression, as episode-length speedup is more distracting and detrimental than subtle edits of a few lengthy establishing shots.”

This is not out of the ordinary.  Back in its original foray into American television, the Tom Baker episodes were cut for commercial content, not mention adding explanatory narration by Howard DaSilva.  Even BBC America edits episodes of the current series after their initial broadcast to accommodate ads.

retroWhoRetro TV plans to bring the show to the fans by way of attending major Sci-Fi conventions as well. “We had a great time a couple of weeks ago at Con Kasterborous in Huntsville, AL, where we spoke with Sylvester McCoy, Andrew Cartmel, and several groups of fans, clips of which will be making their way onto TV and social media in the coming weeks as we roll out Doctor Who. We plan to continue doing so, and are in the midst of finalizing the details for another couple of cons this year”

In the area of genre programming, Retro had fallen behind ME-TV, which carries the original Star Trek, Lost in Space and many more.  But with these two additions, Retro makes it clear they’re back in the game, with more to come. “I have a great love of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, and feel that those genres have been somewhat underserved in our particular arena.” says Golden. “It’s all about the response, though, so if fans want to see more, they can help us out by making some noise: following us on Facebook and Twitter (and now on tumblr), calling stations in their markets to demand Retro TV, etc.”

Check the  Retro TV website for local affiliates in your area, and with your local cable company to see if they carry the channel.

BREAKING: Peter Capaldi to wear clothing on “Doctor Who”

tumblr_n02poztDwR1qijoeyo1_500The BBC released today the first photo of Peter Capaldi’s costume for his tenure as Doctor Who.

“Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is officially recorded in history today with the unveiling of his new costume.  It’s sharp, smart and stylish – The Twelfth Time Lord means business.”  said Charlotte Moore, Controller of BBC One.

Peter Capaldi said: “He’s woven the future from the cloth of the past. Simple, stark, and back to basics. No frills, no scarf, no messing, just 100 per cent Rebel Time Lord.”

Much of The Doctor’s character comes from the clothes he wears, from the very formal attire of William Hartnell, to the “Space Hobo” of Patrick Troughton, to the iconic scarf of Tom Baker.  This outfit bears some similarities to Matt Smith’s final outfit; sans the bow tie and the red jacket lining has already got everyone talking.  Like Matt and David Tennant before him, the outfit is simple, stylish, and doesn’t shout louder than the actor within it.

Hopefully it doesn’t clash with his kidneys.

John Ostrander: First Times

Ostrander Art 131229The trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is out and you’ve no doubt seen it here on ComicMix and elsewhere. It looks pretty spiffy, I think, and I’m ready to shell out my shekels to see it.

I came into the living room the other day as My Mary was watching the end the previous Amazing Spider-Man on the tube. She mentioned how her friend Sherry preferred Toby McGuire’s Spider-Man to Andrew Garfield’s and made an interesting observation: McGuire’s Spider-Man was more Todd MacFarland while Garfield’s was more Steve Ditko. I found that pretty astute.

McGuire was also Sherry’s first Spider-Man and I think that also plays into it. Who your favorite artist (or even writer) on a given character or property may depend on who was on the book when you first read it. For me, my Spider-Man artist was John Romita – and that’s Senior, not Junior (who is a fine artist in his own right). I would only encounter Ditko later, in reprints (this was long before the Internet or even comic book stores with longboxes). I’ll be honest; I was not keen on Ditko at first. My guy was Romita Sr. My Spider-Man was the one he drew.

I don’t know who was drawing Batman when I first read the book; the first one I remember was Neal Adams (and scripted by our own Denny O’Neil). I think my first Doctor Strange artist was Marie Severin, inked by her brother John, a mighty duo.

The idea (I wouldn’t call it a rule) also extends to Doctor Who. The definitive Doctor for an individual is often the one you first saw in the role. For me, it was Jon Pertwee, with the capes and the bouffant hair. The episodes were aired sporadically in my area and one day I came across one with a horse faced actor in a big multi-colored scarf swanning around and being called the Doctor. I was resistant to Tom Baker for a good while; my Doctor was Pertwee. I came around and Baker became one of my faves along with most of the rest of Who fandom.

I found it interesting in a special mini-episode where David Tennant’s Doctor comes in contact with Peter Davidson’s Doctor and said, “You were my Doctor!” I think that was true for Tennant; he would have been the right age.

The concept doesn’t always hold. My definitive Avengers artist would have been John Buscema, definitely not the first artist I saw on the book. OTOH, my definitive Conan artist would have been Barry Windsor Smith and not John Buscema. BWS was the first. Gene Colan was the first artist I saw on both Daredevil and Iron Man and remained the definitive artist for me, over both Wally Wood and Frank Miller on Daredevil and Bob Layton on Iron Man.

These are all artists whose work I have enjoyed on the various books but they don’t hold the special place in my heart that the first artists did. They marked the first time I encountered the characters and fell in love with them and there isn’t anything quite like your first love, is there?

MONDAY MORNING: Mindy Newell

TUESDAY MORNING: Jen Krueger

 

REVIEW: Doctor Who Specials Feature History & Comedy

The BBC did a cracking job of filling the week before the Doctor Who 50th anniversary with new programming to appeal to Whovians across the globe.  Noted scientist Brian Cox hosted a seminar about the nature of space and time, while noted actor Brian Cox starred in An Adventure in Space and Time.  Paul McGann starred in a short adventure featuring the eighth Doctor, while Doctors Five, Six, and Seven hatched their own plan to crash the festivities.

David Bradley as William Hartnell as The Doctor in An Adventure in Space and Time

Mark Gatiss penned An Adventure in Space and Time, a dramatic adaptation of the early years of the classic series.  Brian Cox and Jessica Raine (Call the Midwife) starred as Sydney Newman and Verity Lambert respectively, the minds behind the show, while David Bradley (Game of Thrones, Harry Potter) took the role of William Hartnell, the first Doctor.  Hartnell was unsure of his ability to take on the role, and Verity supported and encouraged him, each helping the other make a name for themselves in television history.  Bradley does a wonderful job of showing Hartnell’s range of emotion as the harsh schedule of the show takes its toll on him in only three years. A recurring motif of a series of publicity pictures for each new cast change portrays the progression wonderfully.

There’s a number of cameos of classic Who actors in the film. William Russell (the original Ian Chesterton) plays a BBC guard, and early companions Anneke Wills and Jean Marsh (Upstairs Downstairs), and current voice of the Daleks Nicholas Briggs as the original voice of the Daleks, Peter Hawkins.  One final cameo at the end is too wonderful and precious to spoil – let’s just say Gatiss is not afraid to let the line between reality and fantasy blur if needs be.

While the adventure is scheduled for release in the UK on December 2, there’s no date for a US release as of yet.

A lot of fans were upset that the “classic Doctors” were not asked to participate in the anniversary episode (save for McGann, who naturally had to keep his appearance strictly secret), so Peter Davison decided to take matters into his own hands.  He wrote and directed The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, a half-hour adventure in which, well, in which Peter Davison takes matters into his own hands about not being asked to participate in the anniversary.  He, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy hatch a mad plan to crash the filming of The Day of the Doctor and garner appearances.  In a series of mad escapades worthy of Lucy Ricardo trying to get into Ricky’s show (ask your parents), the trio get help from John Barrowman, Peter’s daughter Georgia Moffett and her husband, one David Tennant.

The adventure was filmed alongside the anniversary episode, with our heroes conspiring behind the scenes as the “actual” footage is filmed off-camera  It features cameos from just about everyone that’s been on Doctor Who that “wasn’t invited” to be in the anniversary, up to and including Russel T. Davies.  Tom Baker does not appear, instead using the very same footage from The Five Doctors that they pulled from Shada to cover for his non-appearance there.  Georgia gets a producer’s credit for the adventure, with Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin as executive producers.  It’s a wonderful piece of work from all involved, clearly a love letter to both the old guard and its fans.

The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot is also available for viewing at the BBC website.

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.

Doctor Who Anniversary prequel – “The Night of the Doctor”

Rule One: The Moffat Lies.

Rule One-a: So Does The McGann.

After nearly a year of what showrunner Steven Moffat described as “lying through my teeth”, the prequel to the Doctor Who anniversary episode “The Day of the Doctor” reveals that the one fact that upset people the most is the one that was the biggest lie.

Watch, and squee with me. (more…)

REVIEW: Doctor Who: “Terror of the Zygons”

The Zygons only appeared in one episode of the classic series, but their look was so unique they continued to appear in the novels, audio plays and more.  After an off-camera cameo in this season’s The Power of Three, they’ll be featured on the anniversary episode, The Day of the Doctor.

Their original adventure, Terror of the Zygons, get the restoration treatment in this new DVD release.  The episodes are in great shape, and includes a :director’s cut” of episode one, with a deleted scene, a rarity in the original series where nearly no waste was allowed.  The adventures feature commentary by the series producer Phillip Hinchcliffe and the writer, Robert Banks Stewart.  The subtitle option of the trivia track is an exhaustive repository of production factoids that almost guarantees you facts you didn’t know previously.

The extras on disk two are a delight – in addition to a documentary about the making of the episode, where Sussex took the role of Scotland.  There’s a truly hilarious interview with Tom Baker, who rules the screen with a series of mad stories.  Elisabeth Sladen shares lots of stories about the early Baker adventures in her short, and there’s part three of a continuing doco on the UNIT team, featuring interviews with Lohn Levene and Nicholas Courttney.  Also included is an episode of BBC educational program Merry Go Round, starring Elisabeth Sladen, about the oil derricks of the type that played so important a part of this adventure.  A news piece from South Today features an interview with Baker on the location in Sussex, about the episode and his success in the series.

The early series’ adventures don’t often get seen by new fans who are largely unaware of the show before 2005.  These classic series DVD releases give the new fans that chance to see more of the history of the show, and see that many of those stories still hold up today.