Tag Archives: Doctor Who

Doctor Who Story 002 – The Daleks

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Plot Synopsis: The crew find themselves on an alien world in an alien forest where the vegetation has turned to stone. While his companions wish to leave and search for home, The Doctor is insistent they travel to the city. There they encounter The Daleks, a species of mutated organic beings encased in a metal box.

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Only on story 2 and we already see the most iconic of Doctor Who baddies. The first episode is filled mostly with exposition and positioning the characters where they need to go. The audience learns the planet is flooded with radiation, while the characters are oblivious. We see The Doctor sabotage the TARDIS to convince the companions to venture into the city to find unnecessary mercury for the TARDIS’s fluid link. The split up, obviously, and Barbara encounters a menacing plunger approaching her.

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“The Daleks” at its heart is the story of a war torn planet. The Thals are living in a petrified forest while The Daleks, encased in their living metal-tombs live in the city. The Daleks are trying to rid the world of the the Thals, but don’t know what has happened to them. It’s pretty standard 1960s story about the horrible aftermath of a nuclear war. These robotic beings are the soviets while the Thals who look like blonde adonises are the Great British public.

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The cliffhanger at the end of episode two has to be the best. Susan is about to leave the TARDIS, and gets scared of the lightning.

During episode 4, The Doctor and companions have escaped the Daleks’ prison, they rescued the Thals from a Dalek trap. While relaxing and having a victory party with the Thals, Ian decides that it’s time to lecture them. Ian is of the belief that the Thals need to go to war with the Daleks. Ian seems to believe the Daleks will escape their confinement to the city and pursue an all-out war on the Thals.

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Even three years later, I don’t think this would have happened. Ian is suggesting that the Thals take the preemptive strike. While this is before flower power, it seems unnerving and out of place for the hero of the story to tell a group of people living agricultural lives to go to war. Ian is literally looking down his nose at the “primitive” people with his British classist attitudes.

The weird thing is Ian is waxing philosophical until the revelation that the fluid link was left in the Dalek stronghold. Thus, the TARDIS cannot take off. At that point he has to convince the reluctant Thals to join him and fight. Honestly a small party to steal it back would be better, instead they pursue all-out war, something they’d be guaranteed to lose.

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This episode makes one think that the Daleks are a more interesting enemy than they become. Eventually they become plainly focused on conquering the universe and destroying all life outside of their own. It’ll be interesting to watch this evolution.

Doctor Who Story 001 – An Unearthly Child Parts 2-4

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Synopsis: A tribe of cave people have lost the knowledge of how to make fire creating a power vacuum within the tribe. The Doctor is kidnapped after being observed using matches. He must make fire for the cave people or die.

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We see an interesting power struggle between Cal and Za. Neither of these characters can control fire, but one is the son of the now-deceased fire-maker and the other a great hunter. Paralleling that, there’s a power struggle between Ian and The Doctor. At first, Ian is adamant that they’re not possibly standing in a time machine, and that they’re still in 1963 London, while The Doctor knows the TARDIS is standing on alien soil.

If you could touch the alien sand and hear the cries of strange birds, and watch them wheel in another sky, would that satisfy you? – The First Doctor (William Hartnell) to Ian

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Ian tries to lead while The Doctor is busy sulking, but he can’t get the team to follow. Instead The Doctor ends up leading out of default. We see The Doctor kidnapped, rather than the usual companion in danger. This leads to an insanely panicked Susan, who should be a seasoned traveller. Her screams are getting annoying and it’s only the first serial. Soon after Barbara seems to join in on the screaming, too. Oh those wacky women!

This story sets up an early trope of Doctor and companions are captured, Doctor and companion escape, captured, escape, use their wits, win!

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I think my favourite part of this story is the beginning of episode four where Cal proclaims that Za killed the old woman “with this knife” and produces a stone. The Doctor replies, “this knife has no blood on it. I said, this knife has no blood on it.” Cal is confused and replies with, “It is a bad knife, it does not show the things it does.” The Doctor uses this to prove that Cal is no leader. It also seems to firmly put The Doctor as the leader, and Ian as the strong arm of the team.

Halfway through the final episode is a brilliant fight between Cal and Za. What makes it so amazing is the beat-poetry-esque percussive music during the fight. Usually the music is very incidental and bleep-bloopy, that one scene sets a precedent that the show probably won’t live up to again.

To learn more about the making of this serial, watch the recent BBC docudrama An Adventure In Space And Time

Doctor Who Story 001 – An Unearthly Child Part 1

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After watching the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who, I felt it was only appropriate to go back to the beginnings in 1963. Aired on November 23, 1963, Doctor Who told the story of Susan Foreman, an eccentric girl from an alien world who arises the suspicions of her teachers.

Susan Foreman

Most stories I will treat a whole, but “An Unearthly Child” is really two stories, the pilot and the cavemen stories that are episodes 2-4. So let’s start with episode 1.

The premise of this story is a bit ridiculous. Two teachers, Ian and Barbara are concerned with their student Susan. She eccentric. She thinks the UK is on the decimal system for its currency. She insists that history books are wrong, and that one cannot calculate using only three dimensions, but one must also use D and E to represent time and space1. So the teachers decide that the solution is to have a stakeout.

Ian

I hope that if any teachers where I work decided to do this, they would be fired. They see Susan enter the scrapyard, and follow her in. Once in they find a police box and an old man who wants to get rid of them as quickly as possible.

William Hartnell

They hear Susan’s voice and they stumble inside the police box to find a large room which is the control centre to time machine. The Doctor refuses to let them go, as they might tell people about him and his granddaughter Susan, instead he kidnaps them and the TARDIS takes off.

The TARDIS control room

The Doctor isn’t what we grow to love about The Doctor. He’s a real prick. He’s literally kidnapping people for no real reason. No one would believe an insane teacher who says that her student’s grandfather is a time travelling alien. He’s grumpy and impertinent. He purposely hurts Ian, Barbara seems to be an non-entity to him, and he treats Susan without respect.

Back when I first started at the very beginning, I was always trying to be old and grumpy and important like you do when you’re young. – The 11th Doctor (David Tennant) to the 5th Doctor (Peter Davison) in Time Crash

Susan’s a moron, and Ian and Barbara are supposed to be the action heroes of Doctor Who, but instead we’re just left questioning their judgement as to why they followed The Doctor in the first place.

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  1. Ignoring for the moment that A, B, and C are space. []

Doctor Twelve

I’m likely to use an awful lot of – what we would call – violent sexual imagery.

They’ve announced the twelfth Doctor and it’s Peter Capaldi! You might recall him from The Thick of It, which really is a brilliant show. Peter Capaldi played Malcolm Tucker, the foul-mouthed Scottish Communications Director for the UK’s PMO. Here’s a sampling. This will be a fun few years.

iPhone Ringtones

Time for a non-Rocktober post.

I’ve made some ringtones for my iPhone, and I thought I’d share. Yes I’m infringing on some copyright with these, but I hope the BBC, Nintendo, Stephin Merritt, Apple, and the TTC will forgive me.

The Magnetic Fields – “BBC Radiophonic Workshop”
Doctor Who Theme (Christopher Eccleston era)
Doctor Who Theme (William Hartnell era) 
Super Mario Bros. coin sound
The Magnetic Fields – “One April Day”
Sloan – “Cheap Champaign”
Tetris music
TTC door chime 

Most viewed posts of 2010

Here’s NH2F’s top 10 posts of 2010…

10) “Mayor Staypuft,” or Adam gets bitter about Toronto’s mayor, throws insults, but still puts forward good questions, to which no one cares to discuss.
9) “Fear Of Fighting,” or Adam yammering1 about the author.
8) “Vistek,” or Adam yammering about shitty customer service.
7) “How Did JFK Get My Spaghetti Video,” or Adam photographs a hottie.
6) “The End of Stillepost.ca,” or Adam has an idea to make the world a better place, but no one gives a shit.
5) “Poutine,” or I’m drunk.
4) “Apple & Canadian English,” or Adam doesn’t like that his iPhone neglects his nation.
3) “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,” or Adam writes about a film.
2) “The Doctor Is Out,” or Adam bids adieu to the 10th Doctor.
1) “Ward 29 Debate,” or Adam visits his all-candidates debate.

  1. “Stop your yammering, and start your plannering, promposal-wise.” []

The Doctor Is In

Back in January, I wrote about The Doctor’s swan song. Now, three months later, he’s back again, but in a different form. This time, Matt Smith takes over the titular role in the longest running science fiction series. The Doctor, as we all know, is a time traveler, who once ran from his own people, and found refuge with his granddaughter on Earth. Unfortunately her nosy teachers sent them fleeing again, and since that fateful day in 1963, the Doctor has been on the run. Though his companions have come and gone1, and through a process known as Regeneration, the Doctor’s changed his appearance and personality, he’s still the same 900 year old Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey.

With the change in Doctors, the series also sees a change in production staff. Most notable is Steven Moffat taking over the helm of the show. Many people remember Moffat from his BBC2 sitcom Coupling. With his arrival into the Doctor Who-niverse, the audience sees a definite change in tone. The premiere leads me to believe that the show will be much darker, while still keeping much of the fun that made Doctor Who such a great series to begin with.

To begin with, this episode is very much a genesis story. We have a new Doctor, and he’s unsure of who he is, and what he is. As usual there are some comedic moments as the Doctor gets used to himself, but the Doctor immediately starts to form a bond with a young Amelia Pond. After crashing in the Scottish orphan’s garden, the Doctor discovers a crack in time a space is found in the girl’s bedroom2 He repairs it, and then hears the TARDIS’ Cloister Bell, he runs off and promises to return in five minutes. Well, he returns twelve years later.

Twelve years later, Amy’s a stripper, who’s been waiting for her Doctor to return. Okay, I know you’re going to say that she’s a “kiss-a-gram,” but the subtext between Pond and the Doctor when he questions what a kiss-a-gram is makes it plain as day that she’s a stripper, but you can’t say that on a family show.

Moffat once said of Amy Pond, “A generation of little girls will want to be her. And a generation of little boys will want them to be her too.” The young woman is beautiful, smart, tough and funny, all aspects of companions during Russell T. Davies run, but for once all in one character  ((Rose, was not smart, or tough, or funny, or even really beautiful, but still a good companion. Martha wasn’t tough, she was a pushover, and she wasn’t very funny either. Donna was tough and funny, but not so much beautiful or smart.)).

At the climax of the episode, the Doctor asks “is this world protected? You’re not the first ones to have come there, there have been so many and what you’ve got to ask is ‘what happened to them?'” The audience then sees the ten previous faces of the Doctor and Smith’s Doctor answers the question with “Hello, I’m the Doctor, basically, run.”

Eccleston began his tenure as the Doctor with the statement, “I’m the Doctor, run for your life” as he warned Rose of the danger that was chasing them. This Doctor  begins his tenure on the offensive.

The danger is a background in this story. The true plotline comes from the Doctor’s strange ability to enchant anyone he comes in contact with. When it comes to a small child, he not only enchants, but creates an obsession. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to run away with a kookie time traveler in a magic blue box? 8 year old Pond is the perfect dreamer to want those travels. She’s an orphan, living in her aunt’s house, uncomfortable in England3 afraid of the house’s horrors.

I’m not too proud to say that I’m okay with
The girl next door who’s famous for showing her chest – Belle & Sebastian

While this might be why a small town would most know Amy Pond, it seems that the entire town knows her for her obsession with the Doctor, her imaginary friend she’s been waiting twelve years for. This seems to be what I think is most intriguing about Pond. She’s the child we all were/are. She’s looking at the Doctor through the eyes of a child, full of wonder and with a great desire to run off with him4. She is the embodiment of the eight year olds who are hiding behind their sofas every Saturday night.

One thing Moffat seemed best able to do better than any other writer during the Davies-days was to tell of the Doctor’s non-linear life. Yes, the Doctor travels through time and space, but rarely do his stories or his life deviate from a normal path of point a to b to c. Moffat did this with “The Girl in the Fireplace,” “Blink” and “Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead.” In “The Girl in the Fireplace,” the Doctor is running around between the 51st century and 18th century France. Sure, the Doctor is narratively traveling in a singular line, but Madame de Pompadour is traveling the slow path, while the Doctor travels the fast path. She’s living her life in France, while the Doctor is randomly popping in at points in her life, with only hours between.

In “Blink,” the Doctor and Martha are trapped in 1969, but the TARDIS is trapped in 200x. Moffat is able to tell the story of Sally Sparrow’s real world nightmares effectively, while the Doctor, in 1969, relays information to Sparrow in the late aughts, information he only will receive after he meets Sparrow. Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey.5

Finally in “Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead,” the Doctor meets River Song, a woman who knows him, intimately. How’s this possible? Well, he’s a time traveler. That’s kinda what happens when you meet a time traveler. Just look at Guinan and Picard. According to Picard, they met some time when he was in command aboard the Stargazer.6 Picard met her and they fast became friends. If you asked Guinan, she would tell you that the first time they met was in 19th century Earth, where she was just hanging, and Picard was looking for a beheaded Data.

So Song met el Doctor at some point, we can presume in Matt Smith form, but the Doctor first met her in the Library. So yeah, Moffat writes good Doctor Who. I think this’ll be fun.

  1. Susan, his granddaughter was the first to leave. []
  2. It’s the Doctor, there’s nothing sordid. []
  3. She’s Scottish. []
  4. Like Madame de Pompadour did. []
  5. A phrase which first appeared in Moffat’s “Blink” we can assume that he penned it. []
  6. I don’t think they ever give a specific date. []

The Doctor Is Out

The Doctor & Rose

“Happy New Year,” says a smiling young girl to a drunken stranger. “And you,” the stranger replies before asking “what year is this?” “2005, January the first” she says. “I bet you’re going to have a really great year,” says the Doctor to his long-time friend and companion.

In 2005 a legend returned to the screen. A Time Lord, from the planet Gallifrey, entered his TARDIS and travelled about Space and Time. Russell T. Davies was responsible for “regenerating” this long-dead mythos for television. After cancellation in 1989 and a failed attempt in 1996, it was long thought in the fan community that Doctor Who would never rise again.

The first story of this new Doctor’s journeys was titled “Rose” and followed a girl of only eighteen years, working and living a dead-end life waiting, hoping. Chance seemed to bless her as she found an alien in a jumper and leather jacket. He found comfort in this companion, and love, something he thought near-impossible, since the genocide of his species, at his own hand.

The Doctor has rarely been alone. Starting from his escape from Gallifrey (“An Unearthly Child” 1963), he took along his Granddaughter, Susan. Now he had with him a young woman who, though simplistic, was able to challenge him in many ways. His companions during Eccelston’s and Tennant’s tenures were always there for a singular role, to keep him in check, to make sure that The Doctor understood humanity and didn’t let his extreme power dictate his actions.

The Doctor and Martha

Over time these companions have left him, alone and lost. Rose was trapped, out of touch and out of reach; Martha couldn’t stand the emotional chaos of loving someone who couldn’t stand to love; Captain Jack was abandoned, only to spend hundreds of years searching for The Doctor; Sarah Jane’s reconnection to The Doctor, finally, found her accepting that the past was the past; and Donna, well, Donna was his equal, but could never live to her potential again. So The Doctor wandered, alone, and lived a solitary life only to have his future death foreseen, maybe he just picked up any newspaper in the UK. 

“The End of Time” is David Tennant’s final adventure, after a solid goodbye having aired over a year ago. “Journey’s End” saw all of David Tennant’s companions teaming up to save humanity, and save The Doctor. It seems that Russell T. Davies shot his load a tad bit too early. His death was a certainty, and the audience was treated to three final stories which only seemed to serve the purpose of showing the world that Michelle Ryan is hot and has a nice bum… oh, you knew I would put a still in here!

“The End of Time” is a perfect example of what’s good and bad about Russell T. Davies-era Who. The absurd plots, there’s very little resolution, and his frequent use of the reset-switch all make the franchise less and less enticing. What purpose was the Time Lords’ return? What purpose did it serve to have the Ood? Seriously? The Master making all of Earth’s population carbon copies of himself? All of it disappearing within a fraction of a second, and a silly cover story to explain another planet nearly crashing into Earth… again? Why didn’t Donna’s brain explode? 

Wilf says goodbye

How this story succeeds is in the interpersonal relationships that have been fostered since 2005. Particularly the relationship between Wilf (Donna’s Grandfather) and The Doctor. As they sit in a café and discuss The Doctor’s impending death, the performances of the two actors is absolutely wonderful, and they reprise it again in part two… twice, both when The Doctor sacrifices himself for Wilf, and when they meet a final time. This is the crux of the episode, from his relationship with Wilf, to his confrontation with Verity Newman (named after creator Sydney Newman and original producer Verity Lambert), to his final goodbye to Rose, this is The Doctor’s last hoorah, this is The Doctor’s swansong, and he must say goodbye (once again) to those who were part of the life of the Tenth Doctor.

And so, in the final minutes of “The End of Time,” The Doctor regenerates one more time, defiantly proclaiming, “I don’t want to go” as his body fails him, and a new life is born. We, the audience, see a new energy, an energy that seems to have been lost from Doctor Who over the past year or so, as we waited for the farewell, we finally have a Doctor with life. Matt Smith’s initial minute as the post-regenerative Doctor tells us nothing but gives us hope.

Why so hopeful? Well, have you seen any of the stories that Steven Moffat wrote? “Blink,” “The Girl in the Fireplace,” “Silence in the Library” or even his sitcom Coupling? You’d know that Moffat has written the best episodes of Doctor Who, perhaps of all time. He’s not so interested in the absurd storylines, instead his focus is on good horror, good comedy, good tear-jerking stories.

Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor

It’s time for new life as Matt Smith and Karen Gillan take the adventures of the Doctor and his companions into this new decade.

Goodbye Tennant, Hello Smith. Farewell Davies, Welcome Moffat.

The Waters of Mars

Screen shot 2009-11-16 at 6.31.41 PMI really don’t know what to make of this episode. At times it was silly, but not necessarily in a good way, at times it was dark, but kind of hokey. I don’t really find that the Doctor’s behaviour is really believable. David Tennant’s Doctor is not the Doctor to presume such might over lower-beings (ie. Humans), I could see Christopher Eccelston’s Doctor in that stance, but not Tennant’s.

Also, what’s with the burning fire on the surface of Mars? Yes, Mars has atmosphere, but I doubt it’s thick enough to support a burning flame.

Though, I did really enjoy the episode.