Posts Tagged With: eighth doctor

Have I Got Whos For You (part 400)

God Is In The Detail is returning! And it will be with you later in the week. But in the meantime, here are the headlines from across the Whoniverse.

First and foremost, the fallout from the forced removal of a doctor from an American flight has drastic repercussions.

Fan reaction to the imminent return of John Simm continues to ignite the internet.

In fact this is Steven Moffat’s week, generally.

And an artist’s rendition of Kris Marshall in the TARDIS goes somewhat awry.

He’s just on the wrong planet, that’s all.

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God is in the detail (part xix)

Jelly babies.

They’re not just delicious confectionary, you know. Jelly babies have layers of importance. And as we saw in ‘Mummy on the Orient Express’, which we’ll be talking about today, even the most innocent looking sweet can be charged with hidden meaning and THINGS THAT WILL BECOME VERY IMPORTANT LATER.

Mummy_Detail (2)

You’ll observe, in the first instance, the presence of ten jelly babies in the tin, an UNAMBIGUOUS reference to the first ten Doctors, as presented in chronological order and discounting the War Doctor. We know this to be so because Moorhouse – whose hand you can see reaching into the tin – is clearly about to take the fourth jelly baby in the sequence, thus establishing the link between the bag of sweets and the Fourth Doctor, who used them more than any other, even when his efforts were rebuffed.

You will also notice the use of yellow to indicate the Ninth Doctor’s conviction that he is a “coward, any day”, but it is the Fifth Doctor I want you to be looking at, because Moffat’s decision to use a black jelly baby here is almost certainly a link to the Black Guardian, and his IMMINENT RETURN. I will throw out a curveball here and point out that Missy is always seen in black, and that she is apparently a gatekeeper. (Presumably Rick Moranis is already weighing up his options.)

But it’s not just the Black Guardian we need to be thinking about, because the presence of the Fourth Doctor (which I’ve covered in various other posts in this series) extends far beyond a cigar tin full of jelly babies. The beach is significant, but colours are also important here, so the best way to explain is visually. For instance –

Mummy_Detail (6)

And

Fourth-Doctor-Scarf

And

4th-pic-promo

And – I don’t think we need to go on, do we?

The kitchen next. Have a look at this.

Mummy_Detail (3)

The clock on the wall, as you’ll have guessed, is the focus of our attention. That’s meant in a literal sense, because the screen grab I have taken is from when it is at its clearest throughout the Foretold’s kitchen stalk – i.e. the moment we’re supposed to be looking at it. You will note that it reads 10:11 precisely, which is a CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS reference to both Tennant (who spent time on another iconic mode of transport that happened to be floating in space) and Smith (who frequently dressed as if he was about to). The countdown clock in the corner is at 50.1 seconds – or, to put another way, 50+1, i.e. the year after the anniversary. This year, in other words. THIS IS HAPPENING IN THE SERIES FINALE.

Also note the second hand, which is at fifty-nine seconds, thus providing the year in which the Seventh Doctor and Mel visited Shangri-La in Wales, the setting for ‘Delta and the Bannermen’. It is also the year Paul McGann was born, but I think that’s a step too far.

OR IS IT? In order to explore this further, I bring you the Excelsior Life Extender.

Mummy_Detail (1)

Excelsior, as any true fan knows, is the villain in ‘The Last‘, a 2004 Big Finish drama starring – yes, you guessed it – the Eighth Doctor. Set in a war-ravaged apocalyptic wasteland, the Doctor, Charlie and C’Rizz come face to face with a despotic power-crazed dictator doomed to subject her people to approximately the same dismal scenario over and over until she gets it right. Never mind the fact that this sounds like the past three series: we are clearly about to see the return of the Divergent universe and Rassilon.

Additionally, the homophonic doppelganger for ‘Excelsior’ is ‘Ex sells Eeyore’, and in the next Eighth Doctor audio adventure, ‘Caerdroia‘, the Doctor is split into three differently-faceted components – his measured, intellectual side, as well as an excitable eccentric and grumpy cynic whom Charlie (a former, or ex-companion of the Doctor) names Tigger and Eeyore respectively. NONE OF THIS IS A COINCIDENCE.

Moving on: here’s this week’s episode numbers roundup.

Mummy_Detail (5)

Cast your mind back to my review of ‘The Caretaker’, if you bothered to read it, and you may recall a brief conversation about the eyebrows – a gag which had already worn out its welcome the second time it was used, and which, we’d thought, had escaped inclusion this week. But a closer inspection reveals that this is CLEARLY not the case.

Look at the numbers in the image above. Episode 255 is part two of ‘Spearhead from Space’, in which this happens.

DOCTOR: My dear Brigadier, it’s no earthly good asking me a lot of questions. I’ve lost my memory, you see?

BRIGADIER: How do I know that you’re not an imposter?

DOCTOR: Ah, but you don’t, you don’t. Only I know that. What do you think of my new face, by the way? I wasn’t too sure about it myself to begin with. But it sort of grows on you. Very flexible, you know. Could be useful on the planet Delphon, where they communicate with their eyebrows.

“But why is it listed twice?” I don’t hear you ask. Well, HOW MANY EYEBROWS DO YOU HAVE?

Both the Tenth Doctor and the Third Doctor turn up covertly when we look at some of the other numbers. 098, for instance, refers to ‘Volcano’, from ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’. You will recall the scene in ‘Deep Breath’ in which the Doctor accosts a homeless man on the streets of London, asking about the significance of both his eyebrows and also the face he had – alluding to ‘Fires of Pompeii’, and its climactic volcano.

To the left of ‘Gus’, you’ll see 349 and 259, which refer to episodes from the Third Doctor’s run (‘Planet of the Daleks’ and ‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’ respectively). If I were to say that this refers to the IMMINENT RETURN OF JO GRANT, you’d probably think this required a greater leap of faith than you were able to muster. However, have a look at this:

Mummy_Detail (4)

Which, as you’ll remember, is the flag upon the wall in the science lab where the second half of the episode takes place. The alien symbols that the Doctor successfully decodes when he manages to deactivate the Foretold may look like innocent runes, until you twist them.

Mummy_Flag

The resulting acronym – TDFF, obviously – can mean a number of things, but is likely to refer to Third Derivative Functional Form, which CLEARLY AND UNAMBIGUOUSLY refers to the Pertwee era, as extensively referenced in the numbers breakdown. This still applies even if you choose to read TDFF as TOFF instead, for reasons that should be fairly obvious if you’ve ever seen the Third Doctor swish his cape.

(Incidentally, other entries for TDFF include the Tracy Demonstration Fish Facility and the Toronto Dog Film Festival. I swear, I’m not making this up. Truth is always stranger than fiction, unless you’re reading Valis…)

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Unused Doctor Who Monsters (part three)

Here we go. I’m by no means the first to make this joke, as Google will testify,  but it really was too good an opportunity to miss.

 

A significant proportion of my audience is American, and may have never heard of the Wurzels, in which case this might help.

‘Love and Monsters’ is, of course, a story that many of us would like to block from our memories, but you may recall that two of the members of L.Y.N.D.A. sing the song on which this is based, ‘Brand New Key‘, early in the episode. This parody is arguably more successful, certainly on this side of the pond. The cheers it raises in Bristol nightclubs are frankly phenomenal.

The Wurzels are not to be confused, of course, with Worzel Gummidge, a popular scarecrow who starred in a series of novels and, eventually, a TV series, starring this chap.

Worzel

 

Worzel Gummidge wasn’t Pertwee’s only TV work during the 70s and 80s. He also provided the voice of Spotty in the memorable Superted, a show about an anthropomorphic teddy bear who can transform into the titular superhero at the mere whisper of his secret magic word. Pertwee’s co-stars included Sheila Steafal, who appeared in Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D., Derek Griffiths, a children’s TV veteran who’s turned up in at least one Big Finish production, and Melvyn Hayes, who was married to Wendy Padbury.

Derek Griffiths (who voiced Superted) may have had his heyday years before my children were born, in the likes of Heads and Tails and Play School, but they did get to see him in the CBeebies pantomime late last year, in which he appeared as the Ghost of Christmas Past – that’s him on the left.

Derek_Griffiths__I_2752992b

They were doing A Christmas Carol, of course, with the role of the spiteful Ebeneezer Scrooge going to Andy Day. Here he is looking rather less than spiteful.

A CBeebies Christmas Carol

 

Andy can currently be seen in Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures, a show in which he travels back to the Cretaceous era using a grandfather clock that glows with sparkly blue energy, and that appears to be bigger on the inside.

Dinosaur

Andy usually ventures into the past in order to obtain a vital artifact for a museum display, to replace the one that got damaged at the beginning of an episode. His encounters with the dinosaurs are wonderful – CBeebies have taken the CGI footage from 1999’s Walking With Dinosaurs and superimposed Andy over the top in order to make the programme more accessible for children. The results are very effective and highly entertaining, if a little conventional – the butterfly effect is completely ignored, and I would love, for example, to see an episode where Andy swats a fly and returns to a future where everyone has lizard tongues and the world is ruled by a despotic Mr Tumble.

1999 is the year the Master messed around with the Eye of Harmony, of course, in a story that marked Paul McGann’s debut.  This is more than likely nothing but coincidence, but it’s telling that when Daniel was playing with my figure collection in late December, during yet another airing of the CBeebies Christmas Carol, he came running into the kitchen clutching five inches of plastic, declaring “Look, Daddy! It’s Ebeneezer Scrooge!”

Andy-Doctor

It takes a while, and the links may be occasionally tenuous, but in the end, everything comes back to Doctor Who.

 

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Baywatch, starring The Doctor

You will recall that I spent most of yesterday Photoshopping David Hasselhoff’s head onto the Doctor’s body, with mixed (but hopefully amusing) results.

When I showed it to Emily, she said “What want to see is the Doctor’s head, superimposed over David Hasselhoff’s body. You know, in scenes from Knight Rider and Baywatch.”

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day, so here we go. But be careful what you wish for.

Hoff_Who (7)

 

 

 

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Dawn of the Doctor

Cheers Gareth.

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Something Gareth found on Tumblr

Paul McGann took the chief writer’s recent creative decisions reasonably well, under the circumstances.

McGann

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The First Question

Oh, this we like. This we like a lot.

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From the Archives #2

I got this by email back in February. It chilled me to the depths of my very soul. Months later, its capacity to scare remains undiminished.

 

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Silver Screen Nemesis

Years ago, there was a joke doing the rounds:

Q. How many Doctor Who fans does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. None – they just sit there and hope it’ll come back on.

Post-2005, of course, this doesn’t work (although it’s still funny, if you know your history). But I had to change it:

Q. How many Doctor Who fans does it take to change a lighbulb?
A. Thirty – one to change the bulb and the remaining twenty-nine to rant about how much they preferred the other one.

Actually, the twenty-nine is probably misrepresentative: there will be a fair few who will argue vehemently that Russell T Davies was the best thing to happen to the show in its fifty-year history, that the soap aspects humanise the show, and that there was a reason Doctor Who was cancelled. They’re right about the last part – the rose-tinted spectacles are out in full force when it comes to classic Who, and I think we let it cloud our judgement. I’m abivalent about much of new Who, but when it comes to comparisons with the old stuff I do confess to seeing both sides of the argument, and am therefore, as Oscar Wilde once said, a man who can’t actually see anything at all.

But that’s a whole other blog post that I will eventually write. To summarise just here, the digital age has brought about a new wave of critique and online commentary that can be as acidic as it can be sycophantic. There are few shows that are subject to as much critical scrutiny as Doctor Who, and I can think of no other programme – in the UK, at least – that is grilled, dissected, torn to shreds, hung, drawn and quartered by the people who profess to be its fans. We’ll justify our behaviour by claiming that we love the show for what it once was, or what it could be, or what it should be, or what it…never won’t be…sort of thing. All the while we’ll ignore the little voice inside that says “It’s back. And you always wanted it back. Isn’t it better to have it like this than to not have it?”. (For some reason, mine always sounds like Patrick Troughton.)

Anyway. The fans were out in force yesterday afternoon over the announcement that Doctor Who is “to be made into a feature film”. There’s no script, no cast information, no story, no release date and no production crew. That didn’t stop the Guardian readers launching into a passionate debate about the whys, wherefores and whethers. Suffice to say that the article and subsequent commentary tell us nothing that we didn’t already know, except that Dan Martin is an idiot (but I knew that already) who knows bugger all about Doctor Who and will fill his columns with provocative puff pieces that serve only to fan the flames, rather than support the cause of decent, constructive journalism. I have stayed firmly out of this debate – I have nothing to add to it and no firm opinions either way (what’s the point of speculating about a film that hasn’t been cast or scripted and for which even the tone and context has yet to be announced?). And it’s curious, because staying out of the Doctor Who debates always leaves you with one of those Naked Lunch moments where you suddenly stop and wonder what on earth you’re actually doing with your time, and what the point is, so I read the first few comments and then abandoned it completely, so as to avoid winding up thoroughly dispirited with my wasted life.

It’s not as if the series’ planned jaunt to the cinematic format is new. Only yesterday I mentioned the rotten 1996 TV movie, clearly pitching (unsuccessfully) at a different target audience and changing the very essence of Doctor Who in the process. It’s not so much the inconsistencies (Paul McGann’s revelation that he was “half human on my mother’s side” had the fanboys tearing up their parents’ basements in anger, but anger is only there if you choose to believe him, because “rule number one: the Doctor lies”). It’s the whole tone of the piece that’s wrong: Eric Roberts is hopelessly miscast, the new TARDIS’ interior seems unnecessarily elaborate, and the story is tedious and meandering. It’s a shame, because with a little more effort it could have seen the start of great things for McGann, who has had to be content instead with his radio work – which, while admittedly prolific, is scant compensation for the screen time that the eighth Doctor really deserved.

But what I want to talk about today is the 1965 production, Doctor Who and the Daleks – the first of two jaunts for Peter Cushing, playing a wholly human, non-canonical and quite different Doctor. The film has a TARDIS (homemade, and lacking the definite article), and Daleks, and the Doctor has a (human) granddaughter, and supporting characters who share the names of the television Doctor’s first companions, but that’s about the end of the similarities. This adventure sees Dr. Who (as he is named, which is a less rare occurrence than you might think) set off on an adventure after Roy Castle falls on the controls.

TARDIS interior. Different to what you might expect.

Undaunted, the gang travel to a retroactively named Skaro to oversee the end of a conflict between the Daleks and the Thals. Searching the plastic jungle for the McGuffin mercury they need to repower TARDIS, the team find themselves captured by the metal monsters. After several futile attempts to escape their prison cell, the Doctor finally twigs as to the reasons for their lack of success, rising from his seat and seemingly breaking the fourth wall. “There!” he cries triumphantly. “That’s how they know what we’re doing!”

Right, so that’ll be the really really big security camera, then.

The gang eventually escape by insulating a Dalek and then removing its brain from the casing, allowing Roy Castle to climb inside. Handy, this chap.

A single protruding fin gives the only clue as to what’s hiding beneath that blanket.

Meanwhile, the other Daleks don’t suspect a thing.

Dalek lava lamps. Because even when you're a disembodied brain trapped in a wheelie bin, style is important.

 
Heading into the petrified jungle, the gang regroup with the Thals.
 

Years before The Truman Show, painted backdrops were in.

 
 
 
There’s a bit of plotting and scheming in the jungle, and more of those tight costumes.
 

Nothing remotely homoerotic here. Honest to God.

 
 
Eventually, the Doctor manages to get the Thals to overcome their pacifist instincts long enough to launch a counter-attack on the Daleks, and everyone heads back to the city, where – in one of the film’s most amusing sequences, a Dalek is pushed down a lift shaft:
 
 
It all ends well, and the gang head back to the jungle for their farewells.
 

Cushing's Doctor. Still not ginger.

 

Which you can't really say for this lot.

 
As cinematic forays go, it’s not a disaster. Cushing himself is affable and fun, the Daleks are suitably menacing (despite being disappointingly vulnerable to people grabbing them and pulling off their eye stalks) and the sets and supporting cast are fun. Taking the film out of continuity and giving it a parallel context is arguably its greatest strength: if the new film were to emulate this formula, the fans would be suitably outraged but at least there would be no problems with trying to make it fit. The weakest element – one David Yates should bear in mind – is the use of Roy Castle, who is implemented here as a fundamentally silly character, whether he’s falling over things, trying awkwardly to impersonate a Dalek or running around TARDIS in a blind panic in the film’s epilogue. He’s a character who eventually finds an inner strength but who exists, for the most part, in a vacuum of simple and rather gratuitous comic relief.
 
 
Thank goodness those days are gone…
 
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