Posts Tagged With: cold war

Have I Got Whos For You (Star Wars-tinted interlude)

We open with a deleted scene from ‘Cold War’.

You always wondered why they favoured close-ups for that scene, didn’t you? Well, now we know.

I was up at six this morning scrubbing through the Rise of the Skywalker trailer for stuff to Photoshop. Heaven knows there was no other reason. I was about to say I can’t remember when Star Wars trailers got so dull, but actually I can: it was the moment they released the full trailer for The Last Jedi, which was to all intents and purposes a direct copy of the one they did for The Force Awakens, and the moment that you realised that not only had they decided to emulate the teasers, they were also doing the same for everything else. I know I probably shouldn’t moan about this but there is something very lazy about the whole process: this idea that because something works you do it again, in exactly the same way, purely because people expect it.

So in no particular order, you have…ominous voiceovers! People glaring through the blades of ignited lightsabers! Running through forests / corridors / the snow! Wide shots of battle fleets! Cruise ships! Spacecraft flying through explosions! Ambiguous shots of first generation characters who might be killed off! General tedium! Next time, can we have a little information on the actual story? I’m not suggesting the entire story – the world does not need another Double Jeopardy – but something, anything that the gossip rags can talk about with actual substance, rather than combing Reddit threads for fan theory. God the rumour mill is tedious this time around. If it’s not mind games about Rey’s parentage or the redemption of Kylo Ren, it’s people trying to decide whether C-3PO is going to turn evil or sacrifice himself for the rest of the crew, or possibly both. At the same time.

They also talk about Matt Smith, of course – whom we assume was cast as the Emperor, although there was some fun to be had going back through the trilogy working out who else he might be playing.

What else has been going on? Well, the fallout about whether Doctor Who has become too politically correct continues in earnest, with the Real Fans on one side and the True Whovians (I leave it to you, dear reader, to determine which is which) on the other, and the likes of yours truly in the middle – wondering whether history is destined to repeat itself, wondering when “bad writing” became a cop-out soundbite for describing something you didn’t particularly enjoy without actually making the effort to explain why, and also wondering how it’s possible for a bunch of human beings to be so obnoxious and generally shitty to each other about a wretched television programme.

I mean God almighty. Still, on the upside, it’s something to read while you’re trying to circumnavigate Occupied London.

“How are we supposed to get through that lot?”

I’m not sure how I feel about Extinction Rebellion. I’m not sure how I feel about Greta Thunberg either, to be honest, but I suppose that’s the point – just as E.R. wouldn’t exactly be doing anything of consequence if we didn’t find them a nuisance and a pain. They’re getting out there and doing stuff, and perhaps that’s better than not doing anything, which is what I do. There are conversations to be had about their use of Starbucks and McDonalds, rather than the home-grown organic fair trade produce I presume people expected them to be carrying in those cotton rucksacks – either you can criticise them for double standards, or you can applaud them for doing what they can and acknowledge that everybody’s human, with the possible exception of some residents of South Dakota. I tend to veer between one extreme and the other, according to how generous I’m feeling. Still, it’s better than the Mercedes van-driving idiot who appeared on Good Morning Britain dressed as a vegetable – and who then, having already crossed the line between effective parody and preposterous nonsense while most of us were still in bed, proceeded to drag out a banana from his pocket and pretend it was a phone, in a scene worthy of Bert and Ernie. Now there’s a Rubbish Monster waiting to happen.

“Yeah, the red one next to the – hold on a second. Ah, Doctor. We meet again.”

To take our minds off all this, Emily and I elected to catch up on Holby City – we’d watched the episode where the plucky Scottish nurse was trapped in the holiday cottage with baited breath, and then lost interest when it sputtered out in a disappointed sigh as things failed to resolve the way we hoped (i.e. with a corpse). Here’s a fun fact: if you unravel the small intestine in any adult male, it will stretch to precisely the same length as this ludicrous Chloe and Evan story arc, where the locum doctor followed the predictable path from ex-boyfriend to current squeeze to husband to demented abuser within the space of a few weeks, before finally meeting his death when the respitory machine malfunctioned and Kate Stewart’s son left it just a little too late before telling anybody. Suffice it to say the bastard had it coming – he was a slippery customer and would almost certainly have weaseled his way out of things, as we were told in a clumsy monologue that reinforced, with the subtlety of a sledgehammer to a walnut, precisely how justified Cameron had been in his breaking of the Hippocratic oath. Evan was a nasty piece of work – a plot device used for issue highlighting, which is always Holby at its most annoying – and he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for that meddling kid.

Things are back to normal now, except Sacha Levy appears to have gained the ability to teleport across from the hospital entrance to the taxi rank, completely unobserved, as long as the cameras aren’t on him. Weeping Angel, anyone?

It was Emily wot noticed. That should probably go on record, because she gets huffy when I don’t acknowledge her as the source for these things. (It reminds me of a paper that arrived in the proofreading pile some years ago: the first draft read “Professor ____ also acknowledges his wife, H.C. _____, who read through the original submission”. When the corrected proof came back from the authors, the final paragraph read “Professor ____ also acknowledges his wife, H.C. _____, who read through the original submission and provided many helpful amendments”.)

And she has been brilliant these past months: has that been written down yet? She is so much better than she realises: the rock and the anchor and the port in the storm and all the other cliches you can think of – but a cliche doesn’t invalidate truth. She is the best of both of us, and in a world where everything is hazy and grey and mad, she will carry you home.

Seriously. I could do this all day.

Categories: Have I Got Whos For You | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God is in the detail (vii)

After my rant of yesterday, I think we all need a bit of light relief. But you’ll have to wait a few days for that. First of all, here is the next exciting installment of SEEMINGLY TRIVIAL THINGS THAT WILL TURN OUT TO BE TERRIBLY IMPORTANT. This one, of course, relates to last Saturday’s ‘Cold War’.

First and foremost, have a look at this.


Yes, it’s a depth gauge. OR IS IT?!? You see, after painstaking research I’ve discovered that the acronym METEPC actually stands for ‘Many Electron Theory, Experimental Physics Center’. The Many Electron Theory was put forth by Oktay Sinanoglu in 1961, the year that saw the births of Matthew Waterhouse and Steven Moffat, neither of which can be a coincidence. The letters of Oktay Sinanoglu, in turn, can be rearranged to form ‘Yak’s Loin Nougat’. Hence, the Doctor is going to ride a Yak (called Vivian, and he asks that you respect his lifestyle choices) through the Experimental Physics Center. And then offer nougat in lieu of jelly babies.

(The Experimental Physics Center, by the way, is in Beijing. Have you ever been? It’s lovely.)

Now. Here’s some apparently random blood smearing a photo wallet.


Except it’s not blood at all, it’s the wings of a phoenix. And Phoenix, as everyone in the Whoniverse knows, is a short story in which the Eighth Doctor defeats the concotions of a magical book. Conclusions? Paul McGann is returning. Watch the skies.

Here’s the Eleventh Doctor’s bow tie.


Eleven clearly visible dots. ON EACH SIDE. That means TWO ELEVENTH DOCTORS. Two Doctors, one here and ONE IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE. Separated by a barrier. Like this.


Or this.


Or this.



Moving on, let’s have a look at David Warner, because that’s always fun.


Notice his Walkman. Specifically notice that it is yellow, but that in this particular shot it looks orange. Now think back to this.

And, courtesy of deviantart, we can break these down like this:


Orange? Scientist? ORANGE? SCIENTIST? This cannot be a coincidence. Be warned, Professor, your cards are marked. YES-WE-KNOW-WHO-YOU-ARE.

(If that’s not proof enough, the ‘Professor’ also sings ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ during the episode – leaving aside the obvious Bad Wolf connotations, consider these lyrics:

” Dark in the city night is a wire
Steam in the subway earth is afire”

A clearer reference to ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ I never saw. Seriously, Moffat and Gatiss couldn’t have made this more obvious if they’d had him grow an eye stalk mid-episode.)

That submarine captain. Notice the insignia on the (stage) right hand side of his jacket.


It’s a bird of some sort, right? WRONG. It’s clearly the beeping line of a heart monitor. And why would there be a heart on the right hand side of his jacket unless it was a BLATANT CLUE that he has two of them??? Search the man. Go on, check his pockets. I’ll bet my unopened Magnus Greel action figure that he’s carrying a fob watch that’s never worked.

Speaking of naval personnel, look at this, from three episodes back.

The Snowmen_0.21.13.21

And now look at this.


Told you it was coming. TOLD YOU.

Categories: God is in the Detail, New Who | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: ‘Cold War’

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A memo to the Doctor Who production team

1. If you’re going to do The Hunt For Red October, can we have at least one Russian officer – just one – who actually sounds a little bit Russian? Or, if that would have been incongruous, can we have a Russian crew that don’t all sound quite so English? I know questionable accents were a staple of Classic Who – I wince at ‘The Invisible Enemy‘ as much as anyone – but having them address each other as ‘comrade’ when they all sound like they’ve wandered off the set of 633 Squadron is just silly. And don’t even think about blaming it on the ‘TARDIS translation circuits’ bollocks. They didn’t even act Russian. Not even the Captain, whom I confess I rather liked.

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2. Just between you and me, I’m well aware that the whole point of having the Doctor and Clara ostensibly en route to Las Vegas was so that you could film Clara in something skimpy, get her instantly soaked when the submarine floods and thus fulfil every fanboy’s / lesbian fangirl’s wet dream. But next time, could you make it a bit less obvious?

You're not fooling anyone with your feisty, empowered woman shit, you know.

You’re not fooling anyone with your feisty, empowered woman shit, you know.

3. Speaking of obvious, when were you going to admit that Mark Gatiss basically wanted to write Alien in a submarine and then chucked in the Ice Warriors as an afterthought? Or was it that he wanted to bring them back, against Moffat’s better judgement, and that they compromised by having an Ice Warrior that would behave like its normal lumbering self for half the episode, and then turn into something out of a Giger design? It’s a shame, because you had an interesting, claustrophobic story going with that.

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But then it’s all dangerous Ice Warriors that lurk in the shadows and crawl through the ventilation ducts. I was half expecting the Doctor to open a cupboard and find a cat. And I do hope you paid the copyright fees on those Alien sound effects you licensed.

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Oh, and those eyes in the dark? Total rip-off.

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4. I get the Nordic / Russian implications in naming your chief villain Skaldak. And yes, it’s very Ice Warrior. But next time, would it be too much to ask to have a villain with a normal, English-sounding name? Something a bit less prickly; something that doesn’t sound like you shoved six random letters into the anagram generator? Something like, I don’t know, Nigel the Ice Warrior? Rodney the Zygon? Kevin the Sontaran?

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5. I meant to mention that you did a lot of good by deliberately showing us as little of the unsheathed alien as possible. The hands from the ceiling were a nice touch.

But then you went and spoiled it all by saying something stupid like I love you actually having Skaldak remove his helmet. It was bad enough when Stallone did it in Judge Dredd. Personally, I thought it would have made for a far more effective scene if the Doctor had had seen what was underneath with the rest of us following suit. But when you did go for the reveal, I couldn’t work out if I was in the Whoniverse or the DC / Marvel one.


6. I love David Warner. I really do. I have done since he lost his head in The Omen. He’s the only reason I managed to make it through Wing Commander. But treat him with some dignity next time you have a bonding scene. Look at this dialogue. I mean, look at it.

Grisenko: Clara? What is it?

Clara: I was doing OK. I mean, I went in there, and then I did the scary stuff, didn’t I? I went in there with the Ice Warrior and it went OK. Actually, it went about as bad as it could have been, but that wasn’t my fault.

Grisenko: Not at all.

Clara: So I’m happy about that.

Grisenko: Yes.

Clara: Sure.

Grisenko: And so you should be. So what’s the matter?

Clara: Seeing those bodies back there. It’s all got very…real. Are we gonna make it?

Grisenko: Yes, of course.

Warner’s as dignified as they come, but even he can’t polish a turd.

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7. For future reference, Ice Warriors sound like this.

They do not – repeat, do not – sound like this.

I know Nick Briggs has a monopoly on the new voices (and the best Big Finish stories), but you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If you must revamp, at least try and do something silly.

(Yes, I’m plugging one of my videos. Bite me.)

8. If you’re somehow going to conjure a half-decent (the first half) script from Mark “second-worst Dalek story of New Who” Gatiss, please don’t let him finish it by having Jenna-Louise Coleman save the world through the healing power of Duran Duran. It sucked. It sucked donkeys.

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I mean, honestly. You have this as your moment of truth and then you put this episode right next to the one where singing saves the universe? And I thought the scheduling in series six was off.

9. Finally: make sure you give your secondary characters at least some motivation, because “Life’s too short” is never – under any circumstances – a decent reason to thaw out a frozen Ice Warrior.

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Look, Steven, if I’m a little grumpy about this it’s because I was up until half past two in the morning playing Bioshock Infinite, got four hours’ sleep, then did a three-hour round car journey to pick up Thomas, and then came back and finished cleaning the house for Daniel’s birthday party tomorrow. The floors are mopped and vacuumed but I think it’s fair to say I’m a little antsy. Thing is, you missed the boat with this one. It was all going so well, and you could have had a great story on your hands if you’d stuck to your guns in those early scenes. We know you think the Ice Warriors represent everything you dislike about Old Who. But some of us like them. Bringing them back in an admittedly faithful physical depiction doesn’t cut it if you’re going to use them in an episode where they simply don’t fit. It’s like dressing the Doctor like an English academic and then have him behave like a horny teenager. But then that’s what you do. Isn’t it?

Categories: New Who, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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