October 24, 2015

Stand and Deliver

Stand and Deliver - your comments or your life! Well, no we don’t want your comments on The Woman Who Lived that badly, but we definitely would like them. And not just on the episode, but what people thinks the ending might mean for the rest of the season. How are people taking to the Sonic Sunglasses? How about the Doctor playing the guitar every story so far this season? And how about move to two-part stories as the norm this year (90 minutes in length, equivalent to a classic series four-part story). The topics are as endless as Ashildur’s life seemingly is. Or is that Me’s life? And how cool was that nod to The Visitation?

October 17, 2015

Arya’s and Sympathies

By Odin, we are looking for your comments on The Girl Who Lived! Give us your Stark opinions - was this episode good or did it give the show a reputation worthy of the Benny Hill show - or both? Either way, the story is not over yet…..

October 11, 2015

Look, Here Comes the Flood

But don’t just let us know what you thought of this moment, also let us know what you thought of the episode Before the Flood occurred, and after it too. We want your opinions on the entire episode, the entire story and Beethoven’s music while you are at it. Let us know in the comments section below.

And hands up those of you who prefer the version of opening theme music used in this episode…....

October 04, 2015

In and Around the Lake

In and Around the Lake
Apparitions Come Out of the Walls
And They Don’t Stand There.

Yes, this is a roundabout way of asking you what you thought of the first part (Under the Lake) of the latest Doctor Who story. Let us know in the comments section below.

September 26, 2015

A Favourite Which is Familar

New twist on an old familiar favourite or a re-hash of past glories? Or neither (but not Nyder)? We’ll let you decide. Let us know if you loved the episode or if you didn’t like it. And if you didn’t, don’t be afraid to show some mercy.

September 19, 2015

The Axeman Cometh

We will return to the companions departure entries shortly, but how was that for an electric opening to the new season? Let us know your thoughts below in the comments section. For those curious, here’s a list of musical instruments played on screen per Doctor:

1st Doctor - Lyre (The Romans)
2nd Doctor - Recorder (throughout his tenure and The Three Doctors)
4th Doctor - reed flute (The Power of Kroll)
5th Doctor - harp (The Five Doctors)
6th Doctor - organ (Attack of the Cybermen)
7th Doctor - spoons (Time and the Rani)
9th Doctor - alien synth instrument (Dalek)
10th Doctor - church organ (The Lazarus Experiment)

The 11th Doctor does not play an instrument on screen although he does enter the TARDIS carrying a euphonium having apparently just played it in Night and the Doctor: Good Night , a DVD-only mini-episode on the Complete Sixth Series box set. 

But let’s get back to your thoughts now

August 28, 2015

The Companion Departures - #7 - Susan

Susan’s departure was the very first of any of the companions, or for that matter, the regular cast. This departure set a template for companion departures and thankfully it was a very good template - arguably one that the series has not consistently lived up to. It certainly wasn’t an abrupt departure or one that we couldn’t see coming as her departure story progressed. Even the Doctor notices that Susan is starting to listen to David rather than to her grandfather, and the classic “and don’t stop pick daisies” line in episode 6 is both hilarious and quite telling. It is arguably the polar opposite of how Leela’s departure for romantic reasons was handled some 14 years later in The Invasion of Time.

Interestingly, it is often forgotten that it actually wasn’t Susan’s choice to leave - it was the Doctor’s choice to leave without her and make her decision to stay with David for her. This of course led to one of the all-time greatest moments in Doctor Who history, a moment which has only increased in greatness, significance and stirring the heart-strings as time has gone by - the Doctor’s speech that was to be used in both The Five Doctors and An Adventure in Space and Time. “One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine.”

For that reason alone this is one of the best companion departures ever.

July 19, 2015

The Companion Departures - #9 and #8 - Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright

One of the most interesting things about this departure is how much angrier the Doctor is that Ian and Barbara are leaving versus how emotional he was when his own granddaughter, Susan, left (which, at the time of this dual departure in The Chase, had been the only companion departure story to compare this one to). There are several explanations for this - for one, there is (apparently) an element of danger in Ian and Barbara’s return home using the Dalek time travel machine (though one wonders how much the Doctor was exaggerating the danger given the efficiency of the Dalek machine because he really didn’t want Ian and Barbara to leave). Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, we have to remember that it is the Doctor who chooses for Susan to leave rather than Susan making the choice herself (though obviously she was conflicted) - this is actually the first instance we see of companions choosing to leave the Doctor of their own accord. Based on the evidence, the Doctor doesn’t seem to take very well to people choosing to leave him, even those people who forced themselves upon him. Look at the contrast between the Doctor calling Ian and Barbara “absolute idiots” for wanting to leave him and return home, while he sounds positively victorious when Vicki tells him that she doesn’t want to go with Ian & Barbara but to stay with him. These are some of the most “human” emotions that we see the Doctor exhibit in the series.

The use of the “time television” throughout the story is clever - it functions as a simply “wow, wouldn’t that be cool to have one of those in the future” sci-fi idea fictionally realized, it serves as a plot device to give the Doctor and Barbara warning that the Daleks are after them, and at the end it allows the Doctor and Vicki to watch Ian and Barbara’s arrival on Earth and thus know that they arrived safely. Ian and Barbara’s final scenes are perfectly charming (interesting choice to have them return to the then-present day of 1965 rather than 1963) and its fun to think that although they look to the skies and thank the Doctor, unbeknownst to them, he does actually hear and see their goodbye message somewhere out there in space.

A planned cameo for William Russell as Ian Chesterton in The Day of the Doctor didn’t happen because Russell was ill for the scheduled filming dates, but his name does feature again at Coal Hill School as the School Governor in that story, and given that Clara has quickly managed to get a job as a teacher at that school, one imagines that the Doctor talked to his own chum Ian and helped to get her the gig.

It was a fitting tribute in the 50th Anniversary story to one of original cast members, and its nice to know that arriving two years out from their initial departure in 1963 didn’t damage his career with the school in the end. We’d like to think of the same thing for Barbara. Their departure had nothing wrong with it - it was logical, emotional, bittersweet and ultimately joyful. That is why it is one of the best.

June 15, 2015

The Companion Departures - #11 & #10 - Jamie McCrimmon and Zoe Herriott


Another dual departure, one of the most bittersweet. Jamie and Zoe get to return to their own time safe and sound - well sound at least for Jamie. He’s last seen charging with a sword at a redcoat who missed his shot, but one gets the warm feeling that Jamie will scrap through and survive. It helps that the Doctor laughs heartily at the sight of Jamie stampeding forth to kill someone in a war (his pleasure at seeing Jamie fighting redcoats is yet another great example of the Doctor’s pacifist nature - and yes, I was being sarcastic about that). After all the Doctor and Jamie had been through, the finality of the Doctor finally saying goodbye to Jamie does tug on the heartstrings a bit - and is excellently played by Patrick Troughton who really “sells” the finality of the moment. Let us not forget Zoe and the hint that Zoe might have remembered leaving a glimmer of hope that the Doctor’s companions might have remembered more than just their first encounter with the Doctor. This hint would later be exploited by Big Finish in some of their audios that have featured Wendy Padbury as Zoe (such as Fear of the Daleks).

Some may argue that Jamie’s re-appearance in The Two Doctors undoes the tragic fate of his character (as often happened with RTD-era re-appearances of companions shortly after they met a tragic “fate” of some kind) in that it’s an older Jamie who is travelling once again with a 2nd Doctor who is doing some work for the Celestial Intervention Agency before finally being regenerated by the Time Lords. The problem with this argument is threefold - one, Jamie’s fate isn’t really played for tragedy (as indicated above, it’s bittersweet but played as a heart-warming farewell), two, it is never explicitly stated in the tv series that the 2nd Doctor and Jamie in The Two Doctors are from a period post-The War Games and pre-Spearhead from Space, and thirdly, more than 15 frickin years have passed between The War Games and The Two Doctors, so if a reversal of fate has happened it is tough to put it at the same level of an apparently final fate for a character that is undone less than two years later.

All in all, this was a satisfying departure for both characters - original and something that’s never really been repeated and which didn’t leave you feeling cheated shortly afterwards.

May 23, 2015

The Companion Departures - #12 Steven Taylor

Steven’s departure often gets overlooked because it is one of the few examples where there are no surviving episodes currently in the BBC archives for the story in which a companion departs (Vicki & Victoria being the other two). There are audio soundtracks of course and telesnaps for The Savages and also off-air 8mm footage of Steven’s departure scene, so we do get a pretty good sense of his final scenes. His final story is a great one - both as an adventure in its own right but also a great story for Steven. He is very much the hero in this story and his toughness (both physical and mental) that we saw come to the fore early on in his era (in such stories as The Time Meddler, The Daleks Master Plan and The Massacre returns, letting the character leave on a high note. I won’t “spoil” (for a 49 year old story) the details of Steven’s heroism in this story for those of you who haven’t heard it or read the novelization yet, but suffice it to say it is Steven who turns the tide in the good guy’s favour, particularly when the Doctor is incapacitated for a long stretch in this story. Particularly good are the scenes where Steven taunts his opponent (repeatedly calling him “Soldier Boy”) in a duel which occurs Episode 3.

The previous companion departures in the series to date had seen companions leave because they fell in love or simply wanted to return home (or in the case of Sara Kingdom and Katarina, because they were killed). Steven’s departure is the first one to happen for purely altruistic reasons as he stays behind to help lead the people on an alien planet who needed an impartial leader between two separate factions on the planet. It was not an obvious reason at the time for a companion to leave, but works very well and satisfactorily for Steven’s character. It probably takes a touch of confidence and mental toughness to leave the security of the TARDIS to stay behind on an alien planet for benevolent reasons. It is a somewhat brash move as well given that he’s staying behind to become a leader - but it suits Steven’s character because he was brash, confident and mentally tough - at least, as originally conceived and played in the aforementioned stories - less so in something like The Gunfighters but that’s a criticism that could be reserved for that story rather than The Savages which returns the character to its roots in a satisfying and original way for his departure. Simple, but effective.

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