Tag Archives: doctor who

Doctor Who – The Power of the Daleks

This came as a bit of a surprise when it was announced. Just when we thought we wouldn’t be getting any more classic Doctor Who releases (especially after the frankly shoddy job done on The Underwater Menace), this happened.

In a totally unexpected development, somebody decided to spend some money and recreate a missing story in animation. We’ve had missing episodes given this treatment before, but this is the first time a whole six-part story has been given the treatment. As complete soundtrack recordings and “telesnaps” – photos taken of the transmitted shows – are available, this isn’t an unreasonable thing to do. It’s just a matter of economics – animation still requires a lot of work by skilled people, so it’s not a cheap option. This means that if they’re going to do it, they has to be some hope of, you know, people buying the results. Now there’s a hard core of fans who will buy every release, but for a decent financial return, they need to appeal to a wider audience, which probably explains why this particular story was selected for the treatment.

For a start, it’s got Daleks, which is always a good start for appealing to the more casual viewers. But it’s also one of the most important stories in the classic series. Following on from The Tenth Planet, which ended with the Doctor collapsing and transforming. This was the point at which the series established that it could go on, and on…

Of course, it all depended on the new start – could Patrick Troughton replace William Hartnell and keep the audience? Well, in hindsight it seems obvious – of course the Doctor can regenerate (not that the word was used at the time) and be the same but different. But back then it was a bold step.

The fun starts with the new Doctor and his companions Ben and Polly arriving on the planet Vulcan (no relation to any other planets of the same name you might have heard of), which has mercury swamps (nasty), a base (of the traditional kind), a mad scientist (ditto) and a mysterious alien capsule which contains Daleks, who start off in a non-traditional way, by being very nice and helpful (you might spot a link with Victory of the Daleks here, not least in the metal maniacs constant cry of

I am your ser-vant

Which was doubtless the inspiration for

I am your sol-dier

many years later.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the Daleks if they were nice, would it? It turns out that they’re making a whole new army of psycho cyborgs who have a more familiar cry of

Daleks conquer and destroy!

and of course a sideline in

Exterminate!

The Doctor has to deal with that, the suspicions of Ben and Polly and the machinations[1] of the people in the base. Lots of fun all round, really.

This has been made available on the BBC Store (download service), DVD and the rather nice limited edition dual-format steelbox thingy. This contains the story in black and white (an more authentic recreation of how the original might have looked) and in colour (less authentic, but hey) on both DVD and Blu-ray (in very unauthentic widescreen high definition).

There’s a small selection of special features – a making of documentary, picture galleries and some surviving footage from the original serial.

Overall, this release is a Good Thing. Let’s hope it sells enough to make it worth recreating more of the missing stories.

[1] Nice word that, don’t think I’ve used it here before

Doctor Who: Good and bad news

First the good news: the new season of Doctor Who starts on Saturday 15 April (same date in the US, other countries will no doubt be confirmed later, if they haven’t been already.

This will be Peter Capaldi’s third season, and it’ll be sooooo good to have him back after the echoing void of 2016, when all we had was one (rather good, it has to be admitted) Christmas special.

Now, we already knew that 2107 would be Steven Moffat’s last year running the show, and that Chris Chibnall will be taking over in 2018. What we didn’t know until it was revealed last night was whether Peter Capaldi would be staying on – it had been reported that he’d been told the choice was his. And now we know: he’s leaving. This year’s Christmas episode will be his last[1].

I’ll be sad to see him go – I’ve enjoyed having a Doctor who’s older than me for a change, and enjoyed a Doctor with a nicely darker edge to him. Not to mention the guitar and the late lamented sonic shades.

But. With Peter leaving at the same time as Steven, this can only mean one thing:

Absolutely, dementedly, massively over the top season end and insane Christmas special

Yes, I think we can safely predict that star and showrunner are going to go out with a very big bang indeed, which means lots of fun stuff to look forward to this year.

It also means that new showrunner Chris Chibnall gets to do a clean start in much the same way Steven Moffat did in err, wait – what? – 2010? can it really be that long ago? Well, apparently so.

More in the link:

Peter Capaldi announces he will stand down as Doctor Who at the end of the year

[1] Subject to returns in any future multi-doctor stories, of course

Doctor Who – The Return of Doctor Mysterio

OK, no major spoilers, just the usual first reaction thingy.

Fun. Lots of major silliness, great gags, yet another fiendish alien invasion attempt, and a proper resolution of the last Christmas episode.

And for anyone having doubts about the return of Matt Lucas as Nardole, yeah, you were wrong.  He turns out to be much more than a one-note comic character, and I’ll be interested to see how he develops in the new episodes starting in the Spring.

A more detailed thingy may follow when I’ve watched it again. Depending on tuit supplies, as always.

Doctor Who – The Complete Ninth Series Blu-ray

Hold on, Les, I can hear the legions[1] of Losing it unicorns regular readers saying[2], hasn’t this been out for ages? Has your tuit problem got even worse?

Well, yes. This did arrive at Losing it HQ back in March. But there was a problem. This is the year of no new Who until Christmas, so I needed to ration it. If I’d watched this early in the year, the wait would have been far too much to tolerate. I’d probably have started twitching, or posting complete nonsense[5] or something.

But now the year is coming to a close, it was time to watch the set. And I have.

I’ve muttered about the episodes previously, so I won’t do that again, so this is more about the extras. Though I should point out that the ninth series is bookended by Last Christmas and The Husbands of River Song, making it a wee bit longer.

Anyway, there are commentaries on some episodes – a far cry from the days when we were treated to in-picure commentaries or at the very least a commentary for every episode, mutter. The previously online Doctor Who Extra shows appear here, giving the traditional behind the scenes stuff, along with a few extra films (some overlap of material here, mutter) and a few deleted scenes.

So, worth adding to your collection for some great episodes, extras not so significant. Maybe hang on until the price drops a bit…

[1] For an arbitrarily small value of “legion”
[2] Please note, I don’t actually hear voices[3], this is a literary device[4]
[3] Even when people are actually speaking to me sometimes
[4] Possibly a rusty one with broken springs
[5] Oh, OK. Fair point.

Classic Doctor Who News

And it looks like good news. No, they haven’t found a secret cache of tapes, but there will be an unexpected release. The Power of the Daleks is being recreated in animated form and will be released in November – initially as a download, with a DVD to follow.

This is an early Patrick Troughton story, long since wiped, and as the name suggests, has got Daleks in it, so it’s something to look forward to. If it’s a success, perhaps more of the lost stories will get the same treatment, which would be a Good Thing. Though I might need a larger shelf if they really get into it.

Full details here:

Doctor Who News: The Power of the Daleks

Andrew Cartmel – The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax

I have to blame Ben Aaronovitch for making me read this – he’s been quite happily plugging his friend’s book on Twitter. And, well, I have to say that drawing my attention to this excellent novel almost makes up for the delay in publishing the next Peter Grant book. Note that I said almost, Ben[1] – you’re not off the hook yet!

Andrew Cartmel’s name was familiar to me, of course. He was script editor of Doctor Who during the latter part of the Sylvester McCoy period, and is credited for something some fans call “The Carmel Master Plan”, though I seem to recall him denying there was any such thing. Anyway, he was definitely responsible for starting to make the Doctor a little bit more mysterious.

And talking of mysterious, what we have here is a rather nice mystery. And that’s leaving aside the little detail that unless I blinked and missed it, the hero doesn’t actually reveal his name at any point. Though he does acquire a nickname at a certain point in the story.

Our hero is a pretty much failed DJ with an obsession with jazz, a large record collection and two cats. He’s dragged into a whole new life when a business card he’d made on impulse some time before offering his services as the Vinyl Detective (you want an obscure record, he can find it, that sort of thing) turns up in the hands of a woman who arrives on his doorstep.

After a quick test in which he succeeds in not finding a non-existent record, he’s set the task of finding an obscure jazz recording. And that’s when it all gets interesting. For a start, there are others looking for the same thing, and they can get a bit rough (and we’re not just talking about sneakily outbidding you on eBay).

Wild adventures are had, complete with Dramatic Explosions, travel to multiple destinations! Gratuitous sex and violence (though fortunately not at the same time)! Confusion! Misdirection!

And above all, the question of why an obscure recording would be so valuable. What is the secret of the message written in the dead wax?

Well, I’m not going to tell you, you’ll just have to read it. It’s well written, manages to be funny and thrilling and has that “I’ll just read one more chapter” quality that kept me awake far too late.

There does seem to be a Cartmel Master Plan after all – there are two sequels lined up for the next couple of years. I’m looking forward to them.

[1] Not that I’m expecting Ben to actually read this, that was more of a literary device thingy

Doctor Who – The Underwater Menace

It is the end, as the Doctor once put it, but sadly it hasn’t been prepared for. This, unless there’s a major discovery of lost episodes, is it. The last release of available material from the classic series of Doctor Who. For a while, it looked like it wasn’t going to be released at all, but after much complaining and campaigning, the people who make the decisions decided they should probably let it out into the world, if only to stop the complaints. It’s unfortunate that the final release in a long line of DVDs should be so grudgingly released, and indeed given what is, I’m sad to say, a singularly shoddy release. But more of that later.

What we have here is a four-part story from early in the Patrick Troughton era. The Doctor is accompanied by Ben and Polly, together with the newly acquired highlander Jamie[1], and in the usual uncontrolled manner of the time, they arrive at a strange location, Odd things are, of course, going on. There’s a Mad Scientist who’d give the Master or Davros a run for their money, very strange fishy people, and err, Atlantis. Which is going to be risen.

It’s not one of the high points of the series, really. Patrick Troughton is just getting into his stride and developing his portrayal, and the companions work together well, with the expected 60s level of screaming from Polly.

But the main issue here is that it’s not all here. Rather than recreate the missing episodes one and four in animation as has been done in the past, what we’re given here is the soundtrack (fortunately complete) and a series of “telesnaps” – low quality photographs taken of a TV screen at time of transmission. There aren’t enough of these to really show what’s going on a lot of the time, and it has to be said that it’s not a good way of presenting the story.

The other let-down is in the extra features. The ever-popular production subtitles? Naaah, none of that. A triumphant round-up of the massive project of releasing all those DVDs? Don’t be silly. There is a fairly average “making of” documentary, with surviving cast and crew recalling the production, and the second part of the documentary about the relationship between the series and BBC Television Centre[2]. Oh, and a couple of short clips that were cut from episodes one and four for broadcast in Australia, which don’t add that much to the experience.

And all that probably explains why it’s taken me so long to get around to watching this DVD.

Summary: a missed opportunity and a sad end to a generally excellent release programme.

[1] So newly acquired that he had to be allocated bits of dialogue intended for Ben…
[2] The first part was on the Special Edition release of The Visitation.

Robert Rankin – Armageddon: The Musical

Time for another entry in the infamous Robert Rankin Re-read-athon, and for the first time we move away from Brentford and begin a new trilogy. This was first published in 1990, and my paperback dates back to 1991 (though I may have acquired it after then, can’t remember at this point).

We join the story in the devastated Earth of 2050, still recovering from the Nuclear Holocaust Event (NHE) of 1999 when American President Wormwood[1] pressed The Button.

The world is essentially run by three rival TV networks, each under the control of a religious figure. Passing swiftly over the Jesuits and the mob run by a descendant of L Ron Hubbard, we’ll be focusing on the most powerful and influential of the networks, which is run by the latest incarnation of the Dalai Lama[2].

People are pretty much confined to bunkers and earn credits by watching TV, with the most popular show being Dalai Dan’s Nemesis, which tends not to be too good for the health of its contestants..

Our hero, such as he is, is one Rex Mundi[3], who repeatedly avoids being killed thanks to interventions from a mysterious woman who he completely forgets about until she appears again[4].

But wait! It’s more complicated than that! Everything that happens on Earth is in fact a reality TV show run by a bunch of vegetable-descended aliens called Phnaargs. Concerned about failing ratings for Earthers, a cunning plan is formed to change the last century of Earth’s history. This involves sending an agent back to 1958 to persuade Elvis Presley to not join the army, on the grounds that this was the key turning point that led to President Wormwood’s fun and games. This all goes a bit wrong when the agent’s Time Sprout (who adopts the name Barry) defects and helps Elvis Presley.

As you might expect, much silliness follows, outrageous running gags are not just run but pointed at and marked as such. And it ends with characters pointing out the apparent plot holes, and suggesting that they’ll be sorted out in the sequel…

[1] Bit of a hint in the name, there
[2] So, plenty to offend lots of people…
[3] And if you think that’s a bit obvious, wait till you meet his sister Gloria
[4] No, Doctor Who fans, she’s not a Silent

Weight and Stuff Report – 23 January 2016

Weight: 220.3 pounds (15 stone 10.3 pounds, 99.9 kg)
Steps taken: 3,852

Down again today, in the usual random manner.

I was a bit late getting out to do the shopping as I was fiddling with something on this here website thingy. More on that when tuits allow, but I should probably warn you to expect more things like:

This

as it’s now easier for me to do that sort of thing.

Anyway, after the shopping and some breakfast[1], I pottered about a bit, then decided I really should go out and do something, so I went to Life[2] to see the new Robot exhibition, which includes a load of robots, androids and other such things from TV and movies. Some actual props, some genuine costumes, some models. Doctor Who was represented by a Cybercontroller head and bizarrely, a Sontaran head (really, guys – clones are not robots…). Interesting, but marred by the choice of lighting which makes the exhibits look good but the cards documenting them very hard to read.

While I was there, I got in to the Hubble at 25 show in the Planetarium, which is now bigger, better, and totally spiffy. Lovely comfortable reclined seats which make it easy to sit back and enjoy the view of the impressively large dome, which has a serious level of definition. The show was introduced by the insanely large head of Commander Chris Hadfield and then went on to document the history of the Hubble space telescope, including the incredible repair job before displaying incredible images taken by Hubble over the years at enormous size and in glorious detail. Well worth a look when you visit Life.

Today’s photo is quite unrelated to all that, of course. I think it’s art

Not going anywhere

Not going anywhere

Camera X-T1
Aperture ƒ/7.1
Shutter speed 1/500s
Focal length 25.4mm
ISO 5000
Taken 15:18, 24 October, 2015
Location 53° 57.64′ 0″ N 1° 5.0341′ 0″ W

[1] Haven’t been to Frankie & Benny’s for a few weeks, as I’m currently into having eggy crumpets for my weekend breakfasts

Doctor Who Developments

Well, I had been wondering…

It had previously been announced that the now usual twelve episodes plus a Christmas special[1] were going to be made this year. Indeed a great deal of emphasis was placed on that verb. What wasn’t announced was how many episodes were going to be shown this year, which is actually what we want to know.

It was also widely reported that Mr Steven Moffat Sir was looking to move on from his role as showrunner, but only when he could find a suitable victim successor.

It was also noted that the ratings for the 2015 series were down a bit. Most people who were paying attention thought this might just be related to the much later time slot – rather than the more usual 7pm or thereabouts, it was on after 8pm, or even 8:30ish, which is a bit late for what’s meant to be a show that younger kids can watch. This was something to do with something called Strictly Come Dancing, which gets a lot of viewers, apparently.

And now all these threads are coming together, much in the manner of a Moffat series finale. Steven is handing over the metaphorical keys and toybox to Chris Chibnall, who was lead writer on the first two series of Torchwood[2], created Broadchurch[3] and has written some Doctor Who episodes such as Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and 42. And like Steven, and indeed Russell T Davies, he’s a lifelong fan of the show, which has to be a Good Thing. Though I’m not sure he’ll be enjoying being reminded of his appearance on a 1986 show:

Radio Times: Chris Chibnall in 1986

Though he was much more polite than the kind of comments you tend to see these days. I’m sure we’ll be seeing the “Chris Chibnall has killed Doctor Who” posts appearing within a microsecond of his first episode, if not sooner.

And what of the scheduling? Well, as January has crept on with no indication of production starting, it was becoming less and less likely that we’d be seeing those twelve new episodes this autumn. Would there be another split series? Half this year, half next? Well, no.

The BBC management have decided in their infinitesimal, err, infinite, oh buggrit, I was right the first time, what was I saying? Oh, right. The BBC management have decided that as this year has some really important things like the Olympics (what? again?) and something called the “Euros”, by which I presume they mean a football thingy rather than money, that they won’t bother showing Doctor Who. No, what we’ll have is a Christmas special and Steven’s final series in spring 2017. Which is a long time to wait for new Doctor Who. While I was expecting something along these lines[4], I’m not particularly happy about it.

But perhaps the scheduling earlier in the year will allow an earlier time slot, where it doesn’t get shifted to accommodate that weird dancing thing, which would be good.

Still to come: a new companion for the next series. And of course, the speculation over whether Peter Capaldi will stay for a fourth series with the new showrunner. My suspicion is that he won’t, and it’ll be another fresh start in 2018, rather in the manner of The Eleventh Hour back in 2010. Wait, what? Was it really that long ago? Apparently so…

Source: BBC Latest News – Doctor Who – Steven Moffat stands down and Chris Chibnall to take over

[1] Mutter, used to be thirteen plus a special, mutter
[2] The fun ones, before it went horribly dark and then became semi-American before disappearing
[3] Where most of the cast were former Doctor Who actors, not least David Tennant
[4] A further clue was in the content of the forthcoming series 9 DVD and Blu-ray sets which include both the 2014 and 2015 Christmas specials – it’s been more usual to attach the special to the following year’s set…