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August 2016

They Must Be Fought

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It’s odd but it has just struck me that despite knowing this quote since childhood it has never occured to me that the final sentence ‘…they must be fought’ could mean taking up arms.

I have always interpreted it as meaning fighting with our minds, fighting with our words and fighting metaphorically.

I imagine a large part of this is down to Patrick’s portrayal of the Doctor. A Doctor who uses his mind, a Doctor who, while seeming whimsical, is made of a granite resolve and a fierce intelligence.
I certainly don’t see him as a warmonger.

Violence in response to violence only breeds more violence, and the Second Doctor certainly knew this.
He also knew that we can fight in other ways. By science and education. By knowledge and resolve.

Physical violence should only be a final solution, never the first option.

Of course the Doctor has used violence many times over the years. Even the very first Doctor wasn’t averse to clonking folk over the head with the nearest heavy impliment, and yes it is often necessary. The Doctor (nor i) am nieve enough to think we can live without violence. There will always be those willing to use violence from the outset, and sometimes there can only be an equally forceful response. But let’s look for alternatives first eh? 

In Defence of Destiny. 

When it comes to life, we all have our own personal tastes and opinions. Be it our favourite album by a certain band, our favourite book by a certain author or our favourite story in a science fiction show. (You see where I am going here don’t you?). There are two types of people. Those who can have an opinion and respect the opinions of others and those people who think the only opinion that is correct is their own and anyone who disagrees is just plain wrong. The latter type are idiots and unfortunately there are a lot about, especially on facebook. You know the ones I mean. That person who likes to force his views on everybody by replying to every comment and disagreeing with anyone who does not share his view. 

Now, one thing I have noticed with these type of people is the fact that when it comes to revealing which Doctor Who story you love, they are under the impression that a story can only be picked as a fave if it is generally regarded as a classic with great writing, great characters, great direction etc….I happen to think though that a lot of people pick a story, not just on those aspects but on what it means to them personally. That is why I have chosen Destiny of the Daleks to highlight my point. 

While Destiny of the Daleks is not my all time favourite story, it still ranks in my all time top ten. Now I am not going to sit here and say that it is the best Dalek story from Doctor Who, because it isn’t, but that doesn’t need to be a pre-requisite for it to be included in my list. 

When I was a kid, I had been watching Doctor Who for a couple of years without so much as seeing a single Dalek in the series. You see, for you younger fans, the Daleks were not wheeled out every single season. We had to wait a considerable amount of time to see the Doctor do battle with the menaces from Skaro. As such, it was a pretty big deal when it happened. So the first time I, as a wee boy, got to finally experience the Doctor’s greatest enemies, was in 1979 when this story first broadcast. 

The first thing that happened, to my dismay, was that the lovely Mary Tamm had called it a day. She had been a huge favourite of mine the previous year as Romana, the companion who helped in the quest for The Key To Time, so I was somewhat gutted that she was no longer in the show. However, Lalla Ward won me over very quickly and proved to be a perfect foil to Tom Baker. As you will be aware, assuming you have seen the story, the first episode is spent building up the story and the tension. We see the TARDIS land on Skaro, the Movellan ship lands and the constant explosions and drilling underground. It was the last minute of that first episode that blew my mind. It was such a powerful scene to me, where Romana has fallen down the service slide and is stuck on her own. She gets up and gradually walks along with her hands on the wall, listening intently as a sound gets nearer and nearer. Allof a sudden, there is a mighty crash as the wall blows apart and one by one a squadron of Daleks appears through the gap, yelling, “DO NOT MOVE! DO NOT MOVE! DO NOT MOVE!”. The fear on Romana’s face is evident. This is her first experience of the Daleks and it was a feeling shared with myself. 

The scene never ever left my head. I grew up and forgot a lot of the stories I had seen until I completed my dvd collection and rewatched them, but that scene stayed in a corner of my mind, allowing me to relive it over and over. Quite often, I can be watching a story and suddenly I am transported back to teatime on a Saturday evening and I am a child again, sitting watching the latest episode of my favourite show. 

I know a lot of people have their faults to find with Destiny of the Daleks. First one being that David Gooderson is nowhere near as good as Michael Wisher. This is a fair point. If you watch Genesis then Destiny, the portrayal of Davros is like chalk and cheese. Completely different. I concede that Wisher is superior but Gooderson has a special place in my heart as he was the first Davros I saw. Then there is the “comedy” aspect that a lot of people are not keen on. Douglas Adams injecting humour into the story. This doesn’t bother me too much and I think there are some great lines, especially from Tom. The Movellans look like refugees from Studio 54 or extras from Saturday Night Fever. Very “D.I.S.C.O.” haha. Where is that mirrorball and Best of Boney M CD? But then isn’t that a part of the charm of the classic series? Inventiveness knew no bounds back then. They didn’t let meagre budgets and limited technology get in the way of bringing alien races to life. They used whatever came to hand and that is something that should be applauded. I HATE seeing people who slag off the classic era just cos the sfx were a bit limited. So what? The stories were brilliant and that’s what matters. And talking of which, I do happen to love the story for Destiny of the Daleks. 

So at the end of the day, Destiny may not be your cup of tea. The Dalek props are a bit battered looking, Gooderson isn’t perfect and the Movellans may look a bit strange but to me it was my first ever experience of the Daleks and it never left my mind. To this day, I still thoroughly enjoy watching it and will always defend it. So next time somebody tells you what their favourite story is, remember that it doesn’t have to be one of the highly regarded adventures. People may be choosing it because if what it means to them on a personal level. Maybe it brings back certain memories, and that is the sign of a brilliant story. 

Power of the Daleks

It’s being reported in the press (well, the Mirror but I’ll take it) that Power of the Daleks is being fully animated for release.  

Quite how it will be released I imagine is yet to be decided. However I hope that it does get released as part of the classic dvd range.

There was of course an interesting video showing some of the upcoming animation that turned up a week or so ago and it looked absolutely devine. This video was removed with about ten hours.

This will be the first fully animated recon so here’s hoping a few more will get a release. It would be nice for this to do well so others follow in its footsteps.  

It will finally be fantastic to see the only missing ‘first story’ for a Doctor on Dvd and taking its rightful place after the Tenth Planet on my DVD shelves!

Below are some screen caps from the sampler that was uploaded to YouTube and subsequently removed.

Upgrade Failed

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Upgrade Failed!

In the wastes of Telos, far away from their tombs and cities, the failed upgrades roam.
The Cybermen have no use for these failures and simply dump them on the planets surface. Often though these ruined creatures have a spark of life left in them, a continuence of the driving force embedded in their brains from the start of the conversion process…..
WE. WILL. SURVIVE.

Scavenging, primal, zombie like creatures, their mechanical voices wailing in pain, despair and loss joining with the wind that scours the barren surface of the planet.

Is the Doctor Who Big Finish universe too big?

It wasn’t until about 2010 I started to buy the Big Finish range of Doctor Who stories, being a huge of the Alternate reality genre I went for the Unbound range, it was self contained, they were cheap and if I didn’t like them I wouldn’t have to buy any more…..I LOVED THEM (Except for Exile) and wanted to buy more so I took a look at what was available….and the sheer size of it all overwhelmed me, it’s so big, I didn’t know where to start so I asked people and they all had different ideas, so I decided to go with Jubilee, a great choice BUT WHO THE HELL IS EVELYN?  Would I have to go back and see other stories with her in or what about stories where the Doctor met characters he met several years ago but I’d be expected to understand why they were enemies or friends, So I didn’t buy any, I turned my back on it, it was too big and that’s an argument that can be made today with numerous spin offs and boxsets and timey whimey stories, people new to the franchise can be put off, with the license extended to the end of Name of the Doctor it’s going to get bigger still and there are several jumping on points for new fans such as the 10th Doctor boxset and the River Song stories but if they want to have some past Doctor stories it can be intimidating and that can only hurt the franchise, In 2012 I spoke to Nicholas Briggs at a Big Finish stand and expressed my concern because I was wanting to buy some but didn’t know where to start, To be fair he understood and he offered his advice “Start at the beginning” and he personally recommended Sirens of Time and Storm Warning for the 8th Doctor, So I did and I’m glad I did, my Big Finish is expanding and I’ve decided to concentrate on the 6th Doctor and the War Doctor for now but I have others and it’s looking healthier, I have Dark Eyes collection and numerous other 8th Doctor stories but even now when I look at the range, it is very very big, and it can still put me off, what about you?  Do you think the Big Finish Doctor Who universe is too big?dwmr001_thesirensoftime_1417_cover_large

What is it about The Doctor?

William Hartnell. Patrick Troughton. Jon Pertwee. Tom Baker. Peter Davison. Colin Baker. Sylvester McCoy. Paul McGann. Christopher Ecclestone. David Tennant. Matt Smith. Peter Capaldi.

Twelve Doctors (Fourteen if you count John Hurt’s War Doctor and the abomination that is the metacrisis Doctor, but anyway…). 53 years. Combining the Classic series, the TV Movie and the ongoing New Series, Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction show in the world. Hell, the longest running show, of any genre. Period.

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At the start, back in 1963 there were children watching (sometimes from behind the sofa!) who were grown adults in 2005 when the show returned, with kids or even grandkids of their own, and yet they still watched. And they helped introduce a whole new generation to this mysterious man in a dark leather jacket (although he’s worn numerous outfits over the years).

The show was designed initially, to be educational. “No B.E.M’s” BBC head of Drama Sydney Newman proclaimed to the show’s producer, Verity Lambert. Yet only the second serial in, thanks to one thing and another, Bug Eye’d Monsters is exactly what we got when we saw the Daleks for the first time. Sydney was furious. And then the viewing figures appeared. “I like a woman with piss and vinegar” Sydney said to Verity, and he went to bat for her when the BBC wanted to shut the show down. Sydney and Verity ultimately won, thanks to the Daleks, and the rest is history.

But it’s not just Doctor Who’s wonderful mix of education and science. Historical and futuristic adventures. It was the man himself. That wonderful Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, in the constellation of Kasterborous. When William Hartnell became too ill to carry on the role, instead of doing what most shows do and either fold or just cast another actor as the same persona, Verity had this brilliant idea . “Why not allow the Doctor to renew himself” she said.

That one idea was a stroke of genious (well it was Verity Lambert, what else would it be). And it has allowed not only the Character, but the whole show to regenerate several times over. And it breathes a new life into the show each and every time. So fans that may have drifted away are pulled back in each time there’s a new Doctor.

“Who will it be?” As they speculate about the next actor to take on the role. And every time, it has gained large amounts of media attention. Initially just in various newspapers, but as time went on, various day time TV shows like Pebble Mill and Blue Peter, and the news programmes of the day too. That still carries on now with the new show.

So, is it the character of The Doctor himself? Is it the actors that play The Doctor? People are always interested to see a new take on this glorious wanderer from the 4th Dimension. Or is it the Doctor’s wonderous adventures? From historical trips back in time to meet figures you only read about in history books, like Marco Polo or Vincent van Gogh. Or trips to the near present or future and battles with Cybermen, Daleks, Ice Warriors and various other outer space creatures. Sometimes the both combine.

Or, could it possibly be the Doctors companions? Over the years, the Doctor has travelled with (unwittingly at first) two English schoolteachers, a journalist, a savage from another world, a shape shifting penguin, a waitress with a penchant for blowing things up, a shop assistant, and a kiss-o-gram. Amongst others. Every one has a story that most viewers enjoy and sometimes can identify with.

When the show was cancelled in 1989, it didn’t just disappear into the ether. A number of fans that could not bear to see their favourite character just fade away started writing books. They gave the Doctor a new lease of life and kept him alive, kept him in the public consciousness. And moreover, in this age of Social Media today, there are countless pages, groups on Facebook dedicated to The Doctor or his companions. So many tumblr pages, and more artwork on Deviantart than you could care to dream of. The Doctor has captured the imagination of people up and down the country.

So. What is it about Doctor Who? It could be one or more of these things. It could be something different. Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

Doctor Who and the Gender Agenda

​I fear this will be a tough (and dangerous) piece to write, one that will probably draw fire from all sides, but I shall attempt to put this in a non biased, non sexist way…..

The issue of gender change in Doctor Who has been present since the late 70’s, bought to the fore at the end of Tom Baker’s run. There was a little bit of fan trolling from Messrs Baker and Turner at the announcement of Tom Bakers departure from the show….

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Ever since then however it has come up every time the Doctor has changed from both the for and against parties.
This has however become a running debate during Steven Moffats run.
Indeed the ‘rules’ on gender change in regeneration have been established on screen (in canon) by Mr. Moffat and have some quaters of the fandom in uproar.
In ‘The Doctors Wife’ its mentioned that another Time Lord renegade, The Corsair, has had both male and female incarnations…. fast forward a few years to series 8 and we are introduced to Missy.
By the end of the series the shock reveal comes that Missy is indeed the Master, the Doctors ‘best’ enemy and long time sparring partner in female form.
To be fair it is never quite explained whether Missy is a natural regeneration of the resurrected villain or a body snatched by the ghoulish Master after his battle with Rassilon.
The debates would (and still do despite all the evidence) rage on, “she is the Rani tricking the Doctor, pretending to be the Master to mess with the Doctor” is one argument amongst many. But it is clear that Missy is the Master. The Rani was far less erratic, far less ‘out of control’ as the Master became through both the classic and modern eras of the show.

While I am no great fan of Steven Moffats I think turning the Master female was a ‘Master stroke’. Wrong footing the Doctor and fans alike.

Fast forward once again to season 9’s finale and we finally get on-screen visual confirmation that not only can Time Lords change race when the regenerate but also gender.
To be honest with you the only complaint I have of that scene with the War General is the Doctors un-doctorish gunning down of the General (although this was the point, this is what the Hybrid was, the Doctor and Clara pushing one another to eventual destruction and uncharacteristic behaviour)

And so the general would regenerate from an older white male to a younger black female…. and I say good show. This doesnt mean that the Doctor will one day become a woman, it only means that he could become a woman. As long as the person cast suits the part I say go with it.

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It would be alien and foreign to have a female Doctor (for me) but thats primarily down to the fact I have spent the last 40 years watching and thinking of the Doctor as male.

A final thought on the topic.
We know the act of regeneration is a gift, an act of mechanics, rather than a purely natural process.
What if, just suppose that there was a suffragette movement, spearheaded by Leela and maybe Romana for gender equality on Gallifrey. What if between them and all the other Time Ladies they convinced the High Council to open up Gender change as part of the regenearation mechanics….?
There’s a thought eh?

I know a lot of people will disagree with me, and a lot will agree.
Im not looking at the politics, just fitting what we have learned over 50+ years of the show. It always has to move forwards, its very essence is one of change and renewal.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions, but play nicely 😉

thanks for reading.
Jeff.

Thank you 

The First Doctor with added colour in a shot from the Daleks Masterplan

I just wanted to take  moment to thank my fellow Blogicians and all of you who shared, liked, commented and got involved with out William Hartnell/first Doctor tribute day. It was a rousing success and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in the process. So thanks again fellow Who-fiends! 

The Hartnell Factor

People have all sorts of theories about why Doctor Who became a successful show. The concept, the range, the introduction of the Daleks, much against the will of the show’s creator, Sydney Newman.

What people rarely seem to mention is the Hartnell Factor.

If you go right back to episode 1, to An Unearthly Child, there are elements of interest right from the beginning, certainly – there’s that trippy interference pattern passing muster as an opening sequence, and the theme tune sounding like nothing on earth. There’s the close-up on an incongruous police box, coupled to a strange hum that draws you in.

But then, with the best will in the world, it becomes just a little humdrum. Two teachers discuss a girl who’s odd. Certainly she’s odd in interesting ways, she has interesting disconnects to Earth in the 1960s, but it’s little more than a domestic drama apart from the deer-in-the-headlights panic that Carole Ann Ford gives to Susan when stumped by the stupidity of her teachers.

You could be tempted to turn over by the point when the teachers are stumbling around in a dimly-lit junk yard, but then-

An Unearthly Child – The Doctor Laughs

But then, there he is. A strange, coughing old man, with eyes that dart about, looking for strangers. And when confronted, he’s amiable but mutters to himself, making deductions, his eyes sharp, his face constantly moving as he tries to persuade the busybody teachers that they’ve made a mistake, they’re imagining things, ‘Oh go away.’

He eats up the screen, this chortling old man with the shock of white hair and the energetic eyes. And when the teachers push their way into the police box, all pretence falls away from him. He’s intensely clever, in control, still laughing at their arrogance and their ignorance both. And there, within that first half hour, William Hartnell turns what could have been a humdrum ‘mysterious child’ drama into something utterly magical. Magical in a scientific sense, but filled with the wonder not only of its concept but of his embodiment of it.

Have you ever thought what it’s like to be wanderers in the fourth dimension? Hmm? Have you? To be exiles. Susan and I are cut off from our own planet and our own time, with no help or protection. But one day, we shall get back. Yes…one day.

Hartnell’s arrival in An Unearthly Child is utterly transformative, and from the moment he arrives on screen, he will not let you go. There are great speeches, certainly – ‘Ship? Yes, ship. This doesn’t roll around on wheels, you know.’ But it’s Hartnell’s embodiment of the character of, as he’s credited, Dr Who, that turns An Unearthly Child into something that must be watched next week. He is quite simply the ultimate curiosity-hook.

Hartnell

Of course, An Unearthly Child is famous for having had two pilots, because the first was pretty much a disaster on every level. Hartnell’s original portrayal of the First Doctor is often thought to be the more ‘interesting’ by people with fifty years of hindsight, the Doctor being more spiky, suspicious, sharp, and altogether less likeable.

But that’s a part of the Hartnell Factor too. Despite being notably opinionated and occasionally cantankerous, when he took on the role of the Doctor, he did so because he believed in the work. He believed it could be a good role, not just for him to star in, but for children to watch and aspire to. Given the unusual second chance, he grabbed it with both hands, and without ever sacrificing the integrity of the character’s mystery – his alien nature, his towering intellect, his distrust and borderline contempt for the people of the 20th century – he lightened the Doctor on our initial meeting with him, made him this animated, intelligent, chortling character, laughing at the foolishness of ‘children’ who were really grown-ups, inviting the audience of children to join him in the secret that the gronw-ups didn’t know about the magic that he understood, and that children everywhere accepted as perfectly reasonable.

William Hartnell in 1966, shortly before he stood down as Doctor Who.

William Hartnell was a good actor who’d had a few career highlights by the time the Doctor came along. Believing in the value of the role, putting the work in to creating a layered character, and embodying the central mysteries of the show in himself, he gave children everywhere a brand new kind of hero. And we are still the beneficiaries of his legacy to this day, still reaping the rewards of the Hartnell Factor in 2016 – and beyond.

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