Monthly Archives: January 2014

That Peter Capaldi / Twelfth Doctor costume

Seriously. This can’t be a coincidence.

Pertwee-Capaldi

(Thanks Gareth.)

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Can you tell me how to get to Gallifrey Street?

Because sometimes, you need to post an animated GIF you found on Tumblr of Grover and Cookie Monster enacting Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond scenes.

Sesame_Who

 

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The Tenth Doctor Meets Holly

Ah, Red Dwarf.

When I was growing up in the early 1990s, we didn’t have Doctor Who. A combination of poor writing, questionable casting choices, non-existent marketing and general apathy from the BBC had killed it stone dead. They didn’t even repeat it. We had to make do with Mandy from Eastenders chasing away the Rani. Instead, we got our science fiction kicks from four young(ish) men and a senile computer travelling through deep space. One of the travellers was dead, one had evolved from cats, and one had ‘a head shaped like a gelatinous ice cube’. There were nob gags and slapstick opportunities galore, but much of the humour derived from the sophistication offered by the outer space setting. Time travel was used frequently, along with parallel worlds, Asimov’s laws of robotics and astrophysics: in the climax of one episode, they play pool with planets to fix a temporal anomaly.

Everyone has varying opinions about Red Dwarf, of course, and this is mine: it’s ebbed and flowed and fallen down the pan and then crawled up from the abyss, and (while we’re doing cliché) the apple fell far from the tree but didn’t fall into the road, and is now sitting at the bottom of the trunk waiting for someone to make it into a pie. Which is another way of saying that the early episodes take a while to really gather steam but it’s in the second series that things really start to take off. Fast forward a couple of years, to Red Dwarf IV and V, and you reach the series I watched when I first discovered the show, and its arguable creative peak – ‘White Hole’ and ‘Back To Reality’ are as clever and inventive as they come, and ‘The Inquisitor’ has some wonderful interaction between Charles and Llewellyn, as evidenced by a scene in which Lister uses his doppleganger’s severed hand to open a security door:

Kryten: Logically there is only one way you could possibly have done that. I feel quite nauseous. Tell me. Where is it?

Lister: Where’s what?

Kryten: Oh, sir! You’ve got it in your jacket!

Series six is where the rot starts to set in, with a series of repeated gags and monster-of-the-week scenarios that varied in quality (although the finale, in which the crew encounter their hedonistic future selves, attained new levels of darkness, and was particularly memorable for it). By Red Dwarf VII the rot was seemingly terminal, thanks to the departure of Rimmer, the arrival of Chloe Annett (who I like, but she just doesn’t fit) and the transformation of Kryten into the show’s antagonist. His personality rendered jealous by Lister’s affection for Kochanski, the mechanoid is downright embarrassing to watch, particularly in ‘Duct Soup’, and his redemption arrived seemingly too late to save the show. But then in Red Dwarf VIII – a series that’s far better than it’s ever given credit for – Barrie returns, and while it’s not Red Dwarf as we remember it, that doesn’t mean it isn’t funny. By the time Red Dwarf X rolled around, the show seemed to have come full circle, and was back to four men in a spacecraft telling jokes, which worked nicely.

Sandwiched between these two is Back To Earth, of course, but we don’t talk about Back To Earth.

This whole thing spun out of a single joke. I’d always remembered the scene in ‘Queeg’ – the best Holly episode by a long shot – where the hapless computer forgets to give the crew vital information that nearly ends in disaster. Off the back of this, I watched ‘Voyage of the Damned’ at the tail end of last year with Thomas, and wondered what would happen if Holly were to appear on the screen in the Titanic shortly before the explosion that starts the chain of events that make up the rest of the episode –

Holly: Hold on. I’ve forgotten what I was gonna say now.

[Massive explosion, ship rocks from side to side, passengers scattered among debris and twisted metal]

Holly: That’s it. Yeah. A meteor is about to hit the ship. I knew it’d come back to me.

You can sort of guess the rest.

This was a two-prong process. Prong number one: I went through scripts for series I, II, VII and VIII – any episodes that feature Norman Lovett’s original and best rendition of Holly (sorry, Hattie, you were good, but Norman was better). I pulled out any dialogue that was potentially usable – less than you might think, given that much of it is delivered off screen. Then I went through Tennant’s episodes to find appropriate footage that more or less matched, and a rough shape (and even a narrative arc of sorts) grew out of a couple of evenings’ work. I’d initially thought of using Doctors Ten and Eleven, but found that there was more than enough Tennant to be going along with, which is why you don’t see Holly comforting Matt Smith as he weeps over Amy’s grave.

My one regret is that I couldn’t get the “Everybody’s dead, Dave” scene to work. It would have been perfect for the website obituary montage in ‘The Waters of Mars’ – indeed, Emily and I still recite it aloud whenever we’re forced to endure the episode (or even think about it). But it just didn’t hang together, largely because the Red Dwarf dialogue is accompanied by score. You win some, you lose some. There’s enough here to be going along with – although if the rumours about Lovett mending broken bridges with Doug Naylor are true, we could be looking at his return for the next series. Which means, of course, that I’ll have to do another edition of this. Curiously I’m rather looking forward to the prospect.

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Family matters (part 2)

So anyway, it turns out that Emily and I have a serious nut allergy.

IMG_3650

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Family matters

Tuesday evening, and everyone is gathered around the dining table.

Daniel: …and do you remember the time we went to that Doctor Who museum and I saw the Slitheen and pointed up at it and shouted “Daddy”?

Me: Is there any chance that we could get through just one day without someone retelling that story??

Emily: No, haven’t you heard? He’s embellished it. He now says he pointed to another one and said “Mummy!”.

Me: Actually, that is kind of funny.

Emily: No it isn’t. I don’t look anything like a Slitheen.

Me: No, I suppose not.

[pause]

Me: Hang on a minute…

 

 

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Godel, Escher, Dalek (part 2)

Today: two versions of the same scene.

Those of you who were reading back in October may recall a lengthy post I wrote based around the theory of palindromic Doctor Who. Modelled around a passage in the Hofstadter in which Achilles and the tortoise have a conversation that runs forwards and then backwards and still makes sense, I wondered if you could apply the same idea to certain scenes in our favourite show. The first sequence I discovered that worked was the moment in ‘Utopia’ in which the Doctor and Martha encounter Jack, who’s just fallen off the back of the TARDIS on its journey to the end of the universe. Running it backwards almost worked, and added some tonal ambiguity to an otherwise dull scene.

You’ll notice in the comments that a user calling themselves Emfour suggested a follow-up:

DALEK: Identify yourself!

CYBERMAN: You will identify first.

DALEK: State your identity!

CYBERMAN: You will identify first.

DALEK: Identify!

This, of course, comes from ‘Doomsday’, specifically the scene in which the Daleks and Cybermen meet first time and we discover that a conversation between them is about as interesting as being in a Yahoo! chat room (and I spent quite a lot of time in Yahoo! chat rooms before I was married, so I know whereof I speak). It’s a tedious scene, but it was a dream to edit because neither side moves their lips. This meant that synching up the unscored audio with the onscreen action was one of the easiest things I’ve ever had to do.

So I did it twice.

In for a penny, in for a pound, right? While the Cybermen and Daleks are playing a metaphorical Pong match, the Doctor and Jackie are panicking. There are a great many quick exchanges and quite a lot of repetition, but it sort of works.


And because I’m nice like that, here’s a transcript. For the sake of simplicity, all location references are removed, and all Daleks are amalgamated into one.

DALEK: Identify yourselves.

CYBERMAN: You will identify first.

DALEK: State your identity.

CYBERMAN: You will identify first.

DALEK: Identify!

MICKEY: It’s like Stephen Hawking meets the Speaking Clock.

CYBERMAN: That answer is (??) and illogical. You will modify.

DALEK: Daleks do not take orders.

CYBERMAN: You have identified as Daleks.

DALEK: Outline resembles the inferior species known as Cybermen.

JACKIE: Rose said about the Daleks. She was terrified of them. What have they done to her, Doctor? Is she dead?

DOCTOR: Phone.

JACKIE: What?

DOCTOR: Phone!

CYBERMAN: We followed in the wake of your sphere.

DALEK: Long range scans confirm the presence of crude cybernetic constructs on worldwide scale.

DOCTOR: She’s answered. She’s alive. Why haven’t they killed her?

JACKIE: Well, don’t complain!

DOCTOR: They must need her for something.

DALEK: We must protect the Genesis Ark.

DOCTOR: The Genesis Ark?

CYBERMAN: Our species are similar, though your design is inelegant.

DALEK: Daleks have no concept of elegance.

CYBERMAN: This is obvious. But consider, our technologies are compatible. Cybermen plus Daleks. Together, we could upgrade the Universe.

DALEK: You propose an alliance?

CYBERMAN: Together, we could upgrade the Universe. Cybermen plus Daleks. This is obvious. But consider, our technologies are compatible.

DALEK: Daleks have no concept of elegance.

CYBERMAN: Our species are similar, though your design is inelegant.

DOCTOR: The Genesis Ark?

DALEK: We must protect the Genesis Ark.

DOCTOR: They must need her for something.

JACKIE: Well, don’t complain!

DOCTOR: She’s answered. She’s alive. Why haven’t they killed her?

DALEK: Long range scans confirm the presence of crude cybernetic constructs on worldwide scale.

DOCTOR: Phone.

JACKIE: What?

DOCTOR: Phone!

JACKIE: Rose said about the Daleks. She was terrified of them. What have they done to her, Doctor? Is she dead?

DALEK: Outline resembles the inferior species known as Cybermen.

CYBERMAN: You have identified as Daleks.

DALEK: Daleks do not take orders.

CYBERMAN: You will modify.

MICKEY: It’s like Stephen Hawking meets the Speaking Clock.

DALEK: Identify!

CYBERMAN: You will identify first.

DALEK: State your identity.

CYBERMAN: You will identify first.

DALEK: Identify yourselves.

But we don’t need to bother with all this, because it works just as well – better, even – if you take the first few lines of dialogue and loop them, ad nauseum.

I have a feeling that a better solution to the problem would have been to implement some sort of temporal loop so that both parties had to relive the conversation in this way until they rusted into oblivion. Countless deaths could have been prevented, and we’d have been spared that excruciating scene on the beach. Why am I not working for the BBC? For that matter, why isn’t Emfour?

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Go figure (part 37)

Voyaging tonight into the totally random, here is our Doctor Who figure collection, as at January 2014.

Figs_2014 (2)

 

 

Figs_2014 (4)

Figs_2014 (3)

The Fez Doctor (there’s a Fez Doctor! THERE’S A FEZ DOCTOR!) is the most recent addition, but it must be said that I am extremely pleased with this lot – a purchase back in September – even if they did cost me the better part of sixty quid.

Figs_2014 (1)

Because, you know. Four characters from four fantastic stories, and two that saw at least a couple of outings, and who are far more convincing in their original form, as you will know if you have seen ‘Cold War’. (And if you really think the 2006 Cybermen were more frightening than the ones they used in ‘Earthshock’, I don’t want you reading this blog. Go on. Scat.)

I was procrastinating the other afternoon when I took this lot, reluctant to start tidying the house after the seasonal maelstrom on the grounds that it’ll become instantly untidy again. So I spent a good twenty minutes putting the entire collection into chronological order – in other words, the order in which each figure first appeared in the show.

Figs_2014 (6)

Start at the back. And this is my order, which means it’s a bit tenuous. That’s why the middle-aged version of Sarah Jane doesn’t appear until the series two set, while the Dalek placing is all over the shop. And yes, there are probably other mistakes. And no, I’m not doing it again. I have to vacuum.

We spent much of Christmas revisiting Classic Who – Thomas and I have watched ‘Spearhead From Space’ and ‘Terror of the Autons’, in single sessions for each story, which for him is nothing short of miraculous. All the same, I think certain people within the family need a little educating. Daniel came to me the other day carrying this:

Figs_2014 (7)

“Daddy!” he said. “It’s Andy from CBeebies, in A Christmas Carol!”

And it’s true, you rarely see them together.

Figs_2014 (5)

A friend of mine said she showed the Eighth Doctor action figure to her son, who gave her an identical response. “We are utterly failing in our mission to indoctrinate our children!” she said. “We must try harder!”

She has a point, although it’s not for lack of trying on my part. It doesn’t help that Daniel is notoriously spooked by anything scary, which is reasonable behaviour for a four-year-old. The scene with the doll in ‘Terror of the Autons’ passed more or less without incident, and he even enjoyed the death by plastic chair, but when Pertwee and Manning came face to un-face with those plastic policemen he ran straight out of the room and refused to come back in until UNIT had resolved the situation by doing something useful, which of course took an awfully long time.

And then there was the day we tried playing the DVD Board Game. “It’s fine,” I’d said to Daniel. “It’ll just be clips. Nothing scary. You can play it with us. Now, stop hovering by the door.”

And, of course, this was the first clip that came up.

There followed a series of wails and ear-piercing shrieks and I spent ten minutes trying to calm him down. For a moment or two, it was like ‘Dragonfire’ had never happened and Bonnie Langford was sitting in the front room.

In any event, I pointed out to Sally that any sort of TV indoctrination involving the Eighth Doctor would involve watching Eric Roberts foul up the Master even more than John Simm eventually did, so it’s a fine line to walk. And as much as I’m enjoying this little delve into the past while we wait nine months for Peter Capaldi to start being heroic, I don’t think I’m quite ready for that “half human on my mother’s side” scene just yet. We may just go back to the Master. The real one, I mean. It’s far more fun that way.

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Those Tenth Doctor Last Words Explained

“He always says that.”

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