Daily Archives: Monday, 10th Jul 2006

Puff, pant, etc

Well, after yesterday’s small start, I managed to do some more of the exercise thingy today. It was a warm, sunny morning, and my walk to work was made more, err, interesting by the weight of the laptop in my backpack.

I gave up on the walk home at Gateshead Metro, as it was raining a bit, and I suspected that it might get a lot heavier by the time I got home. Naturally, as I caught the bus, the rain gave up. Mutter.

After a bit of a rest, I decided to do some more serious exercise. I managed 8 minutes on the rowing machine, 160 of the crunch thingies and 5km on the exercise bike. My peak heart rate for all that was 149, which isn’t bad at all for a start.

My intention is to slowly build up the exercise routine again, without overdoing it…

More reports when there’s something to report.

Doctor Who – 2006 Series Round-up

Well, that’s it until the DVD set comes out in November. Having seen the apparently limited and exclusive packaging on offer from Amazon, I’ve already ordered mine :bouncy: . Yes, you too can have your own Cyberman head without actually being upgraded! Pre-ordering seems like a good idea. OK, if you don’t you’ll still be able to get the same content, only in a less cool box. But you know you want to, right?

There will also be some more DVD releases from the classic series – watch out for the usual Losing it[1] reviews of those as they become available.

And then, there will be another Christmas Special, followed next Spring by the third series.

And some time in the middle of all that will be the spin-off series Torchwood, featuring a different branch of the Institute from the one that got rather messed up by the Cybermen and the Daleks. It will star John Barrowman reprising his Captain Jack role, and will be set in Cardiff. :cymru:

So this seems like a good time to look back over this year’s series. Not going back into the individual episodes, but just a brief overview of how things are going.

Regular readers[1] might have guessed that I enjoyed the series, and they’d be right. In last year’s series, there was an episode called The Doctor Dances, which indeed he did. Eventually. But this Doctor dances all the time. Metaphorically, that is. He fizzes with energy, talks constantly, shows his feelings much more than his previous incarnation and is generally more fun than several barrels of monkeys[2]. But he’s still a hero, still the one man you’d want on your side when the trouble starts. The only difference from his earlier selves is that, since the Time War, he’s become a little darker.

I used to have so much mercy…

But along with the darkness has come a greater openness about his feelings – helped enormously by his relationship with Rose, who has made him see things from a new angle. Where he used to be distant or rude to Jackie and Mickey, he now openly show his affection for them. David Tennant has stepped into the role and made it his own so thoroughly that, for me at least, he is the Doctor. Quite different from Chris Eccleston’s portrayal (which is, of course, as it should be) and hugely entertaining and exciting. It’s going to be fun seeing where he goes next.

And it would be impossible to talk about the series without paying tribute to Billie Piper’s really quite stunning portrayal of Rose Tyler. Over her two years in the series, Rose grew into her full potential: the intelligence she had always had coming to the fore, working things out, taking charge and generally being the perfect partner for the Doctor. Partner? Yes, Rose was much more than the usual run of the mill companion, who has had as much effect on the Doctor as he has on her. I’m sad to see her leave, but at least RTD[3] made sure that she had a proper send-off. Having reminded us in School Reunion that having the Doctor in your life is going to make sure you’re never the same again, we couldn’t have Rose just wander off like so many other companions in the past. Equally, killing her off was never an option[5]. So stranding her in another universe was the only way to separate her from the Doctor. Taking Jackie and Mickey with her ensured that she wouldn’t be alone, and also avoids what would otherwise have been a very awkward situation. With Rose gone, would the Doctor have kept in touch with the other people whose lives he had changed so much? Or would he have slipped away?

We will have to wait and see how the Doctor gets on without Rose – we know he’ll find a new companion, but will he be as close to her as to Rose? Will she change him further? All we know is that his life will be different in future…

One of the great strengths of Doctor Who is that it’s possible to change the whole cast in two years, and still have the same show. The transition from Chris Eccleston to David Tennant worked very well, thanks to the presence of Rose, and now Rose has gone, and the Doctor is still there. Where will it go from here? RTD[3] knows, but he’s keeping things under his metaphorical hat for now. As well he should.

In the end, what matters is that Doctor Who is back where it belongs, and at least as popular as it’s ever been. It’s captured a new audience, well beyond the expected middle-aged old-school fanboys[6] and general-purpose science fiction fans, but what I’m afraid I’ll have to call normal people. Quite amazing, really.

Now what the photon am I going to write about for the next six months??

[1] Who are just as real as this guy, I’m sure :laugh:
[2] This is a standard measure of “fun”, or so I’m told
[3] All hail the Great Russell :wave: [4]
[4] Not that he’s likely to read this :lol:
[5] Despite the trailers trying to suggest that was going to happen
[6] Any suggestion that I fall in to that category will be unconvincingly denied

Doctor Who – Army of Ghosts/Doomsday

And here it is. The Big Finish to the 2006 series of Doctor Who. And what a really big finish it was. By the time the first half, Army of Ghosts was shown, the BBC had finally confirmed what had been widely rumoured (and indeed denied at least once) – Billie Piper was leaving. All the usual rumours and speculation spread, fuelled by the trailer at the end of Fear Her which had Rose saying “this is the story of how I died”. Leaving aside the obvious question of how she could be saying that if she was actually dead, this was one hell of a good teaser…

Army of Ghosts

It all begins peacefully enough. The Doctor and Rose pay a visit to Jackie, only to find that something odd is happening on Earth. Shadowy figures are appearing all over the planet at apparently random intervals. People, including Jackie, believe them to be the ghosts of their loved ones. Jackie believes that the “ghost” that appears in her flat is that of her father, but Rose and the Doctor don’t believe that for a moment. The Doctor knows that the “shadows” are projections from somewhere else – “a footprint doesn’t look like a boot”.

The Doctor sets up a trap for a “ghost” and traces back a signal which seems to be drawing them. He takes the Tardis to the source of the signal, taking Rose and Jackie with him. Well, he didn’t mean to take Jackie, but in the heat of the moment, he forgot she was in the Tardis…

The signal leads the Tardis to a very secret organisation: the Torchwood Institute. Founded by Queen Victoria after the events of Tooth and Claw, Torchwood has been protecting the interests of the British Empire ever since. When reminded that there is no British Empire, Torchwood’s current leader Yvonne Hartman suggests that this is a temporary state of affairs…

Over the years, Torchwood has been gathering alien technology and adapting it for its own ends. The weapon that destroyed the Sycorax in The Christmas Invasion was one of their toys, and they have a lot more technology that humanity shouldn’t really have at this point. They’ve also taken possession of the Tardis (if it’s alien, it’s ours), which still has Rose on board.

Hartman is pleased to see the Doctor – she knew he’d find them sooner or later, but they have something rather nasty in their building – a sphere that appears to have no mass, and which no instruments can detect, is just hanging in the air. The tower was built around it to make it easier to investigate.

The Doctor recognises it – it’s something he thought was just a theory: a Void Ship. This is a means to travel between the infinity of parallel universes, and it really shouldn’t exist.

Then things start to get interesting. The shadowy forms begin to materialise in a more solid, and terrible form: they are Cybermen. All the “ghosts” – millions of them, all over the world, are Cybermen. So many of them that, as the Doctor puts it “it’s not an invasion, it’s a victory”.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, down in the room where the sphere is held, things are getting even more interesting. Rose is there, having crept out of the Tardis. Also in the room is a Torchwood technician and Mickey, who was left behind in the parallel Earth in The Age of Steel. And the sphere is changing – it looks like it’s beginning to open.

Further up the tower, the Doctor asks the Cyber Leader how they managed to travel between the universes – the sphere which opened the way is clearly way beyond their technology. The Cyber Leader admits that the sphere is not Cyberman technology – they just followed it.

Back in the sphere room, Mickey tells Rose that he followed the Cybermen, and he’s here to deal with whatever Cyber Ruler, Cyber Leader or Cyber whatever is in the sphere. Then the sphere opens. And figures begin to appear. And they’re not Cybermen. Oh no. Something much more deadly. Daleks. Yup, they’re back. And ready to exterminate Rose and Mickey…

Doomsday

Now things start to get really interesting. The episode opens with Rose standing on an isolated beach with a voice over telling us that this is the last story that she will tell: the story of how she died.

Rose confronts the Daleks – one black one and three of the more usual copper-coloured ones. She tells them that she knows about the Time War. This makes the lead Black Dalek decide that she will be useful.

The Cyber Leader sends a few Cybermen down to investigate the aliens they’ve detected. And for the first time in Doctor Who history, Cybermen and Daleks come face to eyestalk. After some predictably aggressive posturing from both sides[2], the Cybermen suggest that together with the Daleks, they could “upgrade the universe”, but in their typically paranoid and aggressive manner, the Daleks want none of it. The single Dalek exterminates the group of Cybermen. The Cyber Leader, communicating through the screen in the sphere room tells the Daleks that they have declared war on the Cybermen. The Daleks are not impressed, even though there are only four of them to millions of Cybermen:

This is not war, it is pest control

Now we learn why the Daleks have kept Rose alive. They have an object they call the “Genesis Ark” with them, and they need Rose to open it. Rose has already told Mickey about the first Dalek she met, and how it was dying until her touch caused it to regenerate. Rose wonders why the Daleks would have something they couldn’t open. They tell her that it is stolen Time Lord technology.

Meanwhile, the Doctor, Jackie and the Torchwood people are in serious trouble with the Cybermen. Yvonne Hartman has been “upgraded”, telling herself that she had done her duty to Queen and Country up to the last moment. Just before Jackie is to suffer the same fate, salvation comes from an unexpected direction. Jake, who we last saw in The Age of Steel arrives with some friends, including the parallel world’s version of Peter Tyler – Rose’s dad, who in our world, died in Father’s Day. They materialise, using technology taken from the parallel Earth’s version of Torchwood, with all (large) guns blazing. In the excitement, Jackie escapes from the Cybermen and starts running down the stairs.

In the sphere room, the Daleks, having extracted the contents of the Torchwood technician’s mind (with fatal results), order Rose to place her hand on the Genesis Ark. She refuses, and tells them that she destroyed the Dalek Emperor. The Black Dalek tells her that she will be exterminated, at which point the Doctor strolls in. Realising that he has nothing more powerful than his sonic screwdriver, the Daleks tell him that he is powerless

Not me, never!

The Doctor does a typically hyperactive routine about why he likes his sonic screwdriver – it can’t kill anyone, or hurt anyone, but it is very good at opening doors. At which point, he activates it, and doors blast open all around the room. In rush a mixture of soldiers from the parallel Earth and Cybermen. And all hell breaks loose. Cybermen intoning “Delete”, Daleks screaming “Exterminate” and lots of shooting, blasting and general excitement. The Doctor leads Rose and Mickey out – but Mickey touches the Genesis Ark on the way out, which is just what the Daleks wanted. Rose tells the Doctor that the Ark is Time Lord technology, but he doesn’t know what it is.

The Daleks fight their way out of the building – flying out of a window with the Ark, which opens. And out of it come more Daleks. Lots of Daleks. Ultimately millions of Daleks. The Doctor belatedly realises that it’s a Time Lord prison – much bigger on the inside than the outside.

Having been to the parallel Earth, the Doctor knows that he has to close the link between the universes, or both planets will be destroyed by the effects of the breach between the worlds. The parallel Earth is already in trouble: temperatures are rising, and the ice caps are melting. He devises a plan to send the Daleks and the Cybermen into the Void (the space between universes) – or Hell, as some people call it. But there’s a price to pay. The force that will draw the invaders into the Void will also affect anyone else who has travelled between the worlds. Unwilling to endanger Rose, the Doctor sends her, much against her will into the parallel Earth with Mickey, Jackie (who’s happily “reunited” with Pete) and Pete. But Rose comes straight back, telling the Doctor that she made her mind up long ago: she will never leave him.

So, together they operate the Torchwood machines that will draw the Daleks and the Cybermen into the Void. But something goes wrong. Rose has to let go of the anchor that’s holding her to the wall so she can reset a vital lever. She succeeds, but loses her grip. Just as she is about to be sucked into the void, Pete Tyler pops through from the parallel Earth and catches her. They both disappear.

The Daleks and the Cybermen all vanish into the void. Apart from the Black Dalek who makes an emergency temporal transport (so we can be sure of seeing more Daleks in the future). The Doctor has saved two worlds. But the price is terrible. Rose is in the other universe, and there is no way he can reach her.

We see that Rose is utterly devastated. Her tears are more for the Doctor – who has to go on alone, than for herself. Time passes, and Rose hears the Doctor’s voice in a dream. Taking Jackie, Pete and Mickey, she reaches a remote beach in Norway, where an image of the Doctor appears. He tells her that he’s found a small breach between the universes, and that he’s using the power of a supernova to get a signal through – “burning up star to say goodbye”. He tells her that she’s been listed among the dead in her world[3]. In the brief time they have, Rose tells the Doctor that she loves him. And just as he’s clearly about to say the same to her, the link is lost. And Rose and the Doctor are parted forever. And for the first time, we see the Doctor in tears.

He stands in the Tardis for a moment, then steels himself to do what he must, what he always has done. To go on, alone. He starts twiddling controls when a figure appears in the Tardis. A woman in a bridal gown, who demands to know who he is and what’s going on. And we won’t find out about that until the Christmas special – “The Runaway Bride”.

Woo, and indeed, hoo. Totally thrilling, exciting, and not a dry eye in the house. A beautiful send-off for Rose Tyler, surely one of (if not the) greatest companions the Doctor has ever had.

As Russell T Davies explained, the only way to take Rose from the Doctor was to transport her to another universe. Nothing else could keep them apart. And at least she has Jackie and Mickey with her. For now, the Doctor is alone again.

[1] In a nice “if you want to hide something, put it in plain sight” trick, Torchwood is based in the rather large tower at Canary Wharf
[2] “Identify yourself!” “No, you identify yourself!” “Daleks do not take orders” “You have identified yourself”
[3] So it was the story of how she “died”…