Posts Tagged With: fifth doctor

Conversion. It’s a Bing thing

Today, boys and girls, we’re going to ruin ‘Earthshock’.

A while ago I did a video that combined Wolf Hall with Bing Bunny. Mark Rylance starred in both and it seemed like a natural crossover, partly because it seemed to go against the grain of everything that Bing stood for. Because if you’ve seen it – more to the point if you’re a mother or father who’s seen it – you’ll know that there is nothing to stir feelings of parental inadequacy than that wretched bunny, or more specifically the diminutive guardian who looks after him. Bing’s an emotionally precocious child with the uncanny ability to grasp important concepts more or less at the first time of asking, but his full time carer is saintly to the point of other worldliness. Flop, you feel, is the one who has it down pat – attentive, nurturing, and impeccably responsible. Bing breaks his mobile, chucks it in the bin and then hides under a blanket. Flop doesn’t bat an eyelid. As role models go there is none finer, but there is only room for one up on that pedestal. In an age of right-on hipster parenting, he’s Jesus.

But as a dad who defends his right to shout at the kids while trying to wash up, tidy the lounge and deal with the mother of all headaches, I confess I’m a little sick of all the Facebook memes that encourage me to ‘find my inner Flop’. When I can’t get into Joshua’s room because of the mountain of yoghurt cartons and greasy spoons, when Edward’s broken my laptop again and someone’s pissed all over the toilet seat for the third time that afternoon, the inner Flop is about as far away from my thoughts as Donald Trump is from publishing his tax return. I don’t want to clear up shards of broken glass from the kitchen floor and tell them that it’s no big thing. It damn well is a big thing because we can’t eat the trifle. It will cease to be a big thing only after copious amounts of wine. I’m not a fan of the ‘look at me, I’m a shit parent’ alcohol-quaffing pyjama-wearing chicken nugget-baking slummy mummy brigade (I defend your right to raise your children that way, just stop preaching about it on Facebook) but I’m human, and it’s sometimes a little tedious to be a captive audience for parenting lessons given by a creature that is categorically not.

bunny_b

So it was fun exploring that darker side of Flop, combining the sinister machinations of Thomas Cromwell with the cute adventures of Bing and his friends. Unfortunately Aardman weren’t very amused, and had it pulled – it was partly copyright, partly the combination of child-friendly material with adult themes. They had a point. It would be nice to think that young people’s YouTube activity is monitored by their parents / guardians / anthropomorphic sack toys, but you and I both know that isn’t the case, and all the advisory warnings in the world count for nothing because people don’t read these things.

So when it came to doing this one I was a little more careful. I’d like to hope it’s harder to find and the likelihood of some unsuspecting child stumbling across it is minimised. The irony is that this is arguably far less adult-themed than The Dark Side of Flop, given that it relies on the premise of a Cyber Leader dubbed over with dialogue from Bing until he’s…well, you’ve watched it by now, you see how he is. He’s a nutcase. Trudging through thirty-five episodes of Bing to find appropriate sound clips was no fun at all, but I had a riot actually matching things up and making them work. My favourite scene is still the bit in the TARDIS, which is the only one I think really works, but everything else just about hangs together.

bing_tardis

Why ‘Earthshock’? It’s David Banks, really. Because when I look back through the history of the Doctor’s encounter with the Cybermen, he’s the one I remember. The problem with Cybermen is that by and large they lack personality, and thus the stories have to be truly frightening in order to have any real impact (which is why everything after ‘The Age of Steel’ is generally a dismal failure). The Cyber Leader in ‘Earthshock’ has personality in spades. It’s tempting to say that this is nothing more than an anomaly, but over the years I’ve been cultivating a theory: that the biggest mistake we can make about the Cybermen is to say that they have no emotions. I no longer believe that’s the case. Written within the confines of a single sentence such an idea sounds patently ludicrous, but I explain it all here. Go and have a read, then we’ll talk.

‘Earthshock’ was the first Doctor Who story I remember from my childhood, did I ever tell you that? It is quietly marvellous: the surprises, for the initiated, come thick and fast, and the ending is still gut-wrenchingly moving, loathing of Adric aside. Even if you know what’s coming, it’s still great – but it’s better still if you don’t. (I had a lovely conversation with someone recently who was watching it for the first time, having no idea at all that the Cybermen were about to show up. I didn’t think that sort of spoiler-free access was possible these days.) Put it this way: I think there’s a reason why that shattered badge and the silent credit crawl is my first memory of the show, and I do wonder if I managed to exercise a few demons this week.

In many respects this is a spiritual successor to Dalek Zippy, and is in fact the middle act in a trilogy, the climax of which is still under construction (with Willo The Silent the embarrassing spin-off that no one really talks about). It was a hard graft but worth it. It made my children laugh and it is their approval, above all others, that I seek. And it keeps me out of mischief and stops me wondering what other dreadful things I can be doing with Bing and Flop and the other inhabitants of their bright and colourful world.

bing_bed

Oh God, you really didn’t see this. Move along.

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In the beginning was the curd

First, this.

Doctor_Pun5

I frequent two Facebook Who groups, one of which is devoted exclusively to Classic content (1963-1996, with concessions for Big Finish). It’s a nice, tightly run group with decent moderation and friendly banter, but one thing that occasionally frustrates me is a certain disdain towards negativity. It’s not quite the “everyone’s opinion is equally valid” rubbish that I had to put up with in GCSE RE, but it seems that dumping on the bad stuff is frowned upon. If you mention that Adric was a douche, for example, you’ll frequently get a bunch of people telling you that no, he was good, and it’s wrong to single him out, to which I typically reply that no, he was a douche.

The same thing goes when it comes to discussing individual episodes: a common response is “It was a good story, and I don’t understand the hate”. Frequently these are people who assume that if you dump on stories from 1985 you have a personal vendetta against Colin Baker. It’s as if the concept of quality control is entirely meaningless. I wouldn’t mind, but when this came up the other week the story being discussed was ‘The Twin Dilemma’. After pointing out the disastrous script, the unlikeable Doctor, the narrative-that-goes-nowhere and the dreadful acting from the twins (honestly, my dining table is less wooden), my closing response was “I think there are worse, and these things are always going to be a bit subjective, but if you really can’t understand why so many people hate it so much I might diplomatically suggest you haven’t really watched it properly.”

I mentioned a while back that whenever I’m done watching a Classic story, I’ll email Gareth a list of bullet points. I also mentioned that ‘Warriors of the Deep’ arguably warranted its own entry, and it does, just about. This is not a lengthy discussion – ook, there’s plenty of sensible critique about ‘Warriors’ out on the interweb, and you don’t need another essay from me as to why it’s the worst Silurian story of the lot (and yes, I’m factoring in ‘Cold Blood’). Instead, you may have my bullet points, occasionally embellished with images.

– I love Tegan opening the ‘stuck’ door with no effort at all, particularly as it comes hot on the heels of a documentary I was watching this morning about women in Doctor Who and whether they were portrayed properly. (It features an irritating DW Magazine girl saying “No, I don’t think strong female villains are empowering…”)

– Someone call International Rescue, and tell the Tracy Brothers we’ve found those missing outfits.

Warriors_Costumes

– Stupid guard moment #1: they walk into the chemical lab, purposely looking for intruders, say “Nah, no sign of them here”, and they don’t bother checking behind the shelves. THEY DON’T BOTHER CHECKING BEHIND THE SHELVES.

– When I was a kid I watched an episode of Grange Hill when Jeremy was larking about in the swimming pool, and drowns. There is a reason, I think, why three decades later this is just about the only episode of the programme I can actually remember. The end of episode one of this is a bit like that, without the acne.

– Stupid guard moment #2: two of them, patrolling the perimeter, fail to notice an unconscious crew member left IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CORRIDOR ABOUT SIX FEET AWAY.

– The Manipulator. It’s like one of these:

Adictaball

– Ooh. Stunts. And the Second Doctor’s catchphrase. As long as you ignore the wobbly scenery, this is quite exciting.

– Oh dear God the Myrka.

– “Help! We’re being attacked by a green pantomime horse and I can’t get out from under this polystyrene door!”

– Hang on, did Solow really just try and do kung-fu on the horse? Because I think that’s a contender for ‘most stupid kamikaze move in history’. Almost as silly as attacking a Dalek with a baseball bat.

– They left the TARDIS doors unlocked. They LEFT THE TARDIS DOORS UNLOCKED.

– Unfortunate, really, that the chief sea devil has a name that (in the filtered voice of a Silurian) sounds rather like ‘Cervix’.

When I sent the Davison-does-mail-order image to Gareth, his response was “Surely there should be a Little Miss Moffett somewhere?”

I said “Funny you should mention that…”

LittleMissMoffat

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Certain gases in the Praxis range

There will be many of you who, like me, have smirked at the recent news about David Cameron’s Photoshopped poppy. It’s not as bad as shagging a dead pig, but still. All the ‘oversight’ excuses in the world won’t wash.

Except I’ve done a little digging, and it seems everyone’s at it. Even in Doctor Who.

Doctor_Celery

 

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Take a letter, Miss Jones

It’s Peter Davison’s birthday. It’s also World Scrabble Day. I’ve combined the best of both worlds, and tonight I bring you a Doctor Who themed Scrabble board centred around the Fifth Doctor.

IMAG0822

Yes, I could have used more tiles, but I managed a respectable score. Besides, I have a birthday party to plan.

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No jacket required

The_Kingmaker_cover

I’m not saying ‘The Kingmaker’ is typical of the Doctor Who Big Finish audio dramas. Nor is it, perhaps, the best introduction to Peri and Erimem if you’re unfamiliar with either. But if you have a couple of hours to spare, and the iPod playlist is looking stale, you could do a lot worse. I haven’t laughed quite so much in a long time. The anachronisms come thick and fast – there are gags about spoilers, concussion and commemorative mugs. Davison is clearly enjoying himself, while Caroline Morris gets to serve drinks in Tudor England and break a publican’s arm. Arthur Smith turns in an amusing guest turn, and Peri, in particular, has some wonderful scenes (which should surprise no one, give that her husband wrote them).

One particularly amusing sequence in ‘The Kingmaker’ sees the Doctor communicate with his companions – stranded two years in the past – with a series of letters, each one designed to be opened “directly after the last one”. The whole thing is rather like that scene in ‘Curse of Fatal Death’ where the Doctor and the Master travel further and further back in time in order to bribe the architect of the building in which they’re standing, an unfortunate series of events which culminates in the Master spending over nine hundred years in a sewer. Curiously, however, said notes were delivered by someone who was clearly supposed to be to the Ninth Doctor – a character that Fountain wasn’t told that he had to leave out – with no one noticing the inclusion until the thing had been shipped.

This is Joss Ackland in the second Bill and Ted film. If you've seen it, you'll know why.

This is Joss Ackland in the second Bill and Ted film. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know why.

If you’re wondering why I’ve mentioned this, you should know that Big Finish are barred from dealing with certain plot lines or characters, or entrance and exits stories – which is why, nearly thirty years after ‘Terror of the Vervoids’, we still don’t know how the Sixth Doctor met Melanie. They’re also barred from talking about anything post 2005, in case it messes with the series continuity. (Continuity is still a relatively recent thing, in the grand scheme of things. “We didn’t have a series Bible,” Terrance Dicks is fond of saying, proving that if there were no Ian Levine it would be necessary to invent him, and then lose him before rediscovering him and then bitching about it on Twitter.)

Of course, if challenged, it’s possible to contest that the “Northern chap with big ears” was actually the Eighth Doctor, given that he carries a trace of a Liverpool twang (unlike Tom Baker, who does not). Or perhaps – oh, I don’t know…

(If this strikes you as ridiculous, I feel it my duty to make you aware that there is fan fiction that features the Second Doctor meeting up with Noddy and the gang, before helping to find Bumpy Dog by playing his recorder.)

You have to feel a bit sorry for the Eighth – and for Big Finish in general, come to that. There they were, gearing up for the end of the Time War, by having the Doctor lament that he was about to do something terrible. He even got the leather jacket. The next thing you know, John Hurt is running around Gallifrey, blasting holes in the Arcadian walls and trying not to eat the cornbread. Presumably the jacket went back in the wardrobe, and the “terrible thing” turned out to be a re-recording of ‘Doctor in Distress’.

Luckily, the jacket is not mentioned, otherwise you’d have a potential continuity error, and we all know what happens when jackets turn up where they’re not wanted.

5_-doctor-2-appears-jacket

“The thing with Moffat,” says Gareth, “is that I couldn’t tell whether he did that, turning continuity errors into plot points, or did it deliberately as an important “clue” for later on, but which is so minor as to be pathetic. He often seemed to make a big thing out of tiny “clues”, while at the same time ignoring massive foreshadowing because the build up and suspense was more exciting than the resolution.”

I think that one was almost certainly deliberate, but if it wasn’t, the conversation would have gone something like this –

“Steven? Here are the rushes for scene 37.”
“Shit. He’s still wearing his jacket.”
“Oh dear. I’m surprised no one noticed that.”
“How did it happen?”
“We’ve got this intern production assistant.”
“Memo for the next meeting: no more interns.”
“She’s the exec’s niece.”
“She could be the Queen of bloody Sheba for all I care; I can’t have cock-ups like this on my watch.”
“How are we going to fix this one, Steven?”
“…Hang on, it’s just given me an idea.”

Anyway, Gareth and I have spoken on various occasions – and I’m sure I’ve mentioned it here – about that scene in ‘Parting of the Ways’ where the Doctor is on the floor of Satellite 5, frantically assembling things out of cables and bits of circuits. I like it because, for just about the first and only time that series, Eccleston really felt like the Doctor. And perhaps with that in mind, I did this for Emily’s birthday card.

Card

Yes, Emily is in a pram. Except it’s a shopping trolley. I got the legs wrong and damage control was needed. I’m a rubbish artist, but it’s quite fun being a loving husband.

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God is in the detail (part xvi)

Right. I’m running a little behind with these, so let’s crack on, shall we?

Tonight, we’re looking at ‘Time Heist’, which was a visual feast, rich with detail. We will hone in on just a few of the choice moments and determine those little bits which were VERY IMPORTANT TO THE SERIES AS A WHOLE.

First – here’s Psi, in the vault in the heart of the bank.

Heist Detail (1)

We will come back to this vault later, but notice the painting in the background – out of focus, but containing an interesting large-busted woman in a pose not dissimilar to the one that Jenny is doing here, in ‘Deep Breath’.

Deep Breath Pose

Take a look. Don’t linger too long, of course, because this is a family show. The pose is reversed, which indicates MIRRRORS. In ‘The Family of Blood’, the Tenth Doctor traps Sister of Mine in a mirror – every mirror, in fact. Mirrors also figure heavily in the finale of ‘Kinda’, which we didn’t quite reference in the deconstruction of ‘Into the Dalek’.

But the Tenth Doctor has described the Fifth Doctor, on at least one occasion, as “my Doctor”, so it’s clear that there is a link between them, and that both are fond of mirrors. CLEARLY we are about to enter some sort of mirror universe where everything is the same but reversed: The Daleks are benevolent scholars, Gallifrey didn’t get destroyed, and Noel Clarke is capable of acting.

Now let’s have a look at the Ice Warrior on display here.

Heist Detail (6)

Innocent enough, yes? No. Because the numbers are important. Oh, so important. We can break it down like this.

Heist_Tegan

So now you know. Never mind the fact that Janet Fielding was recently observed on set. SHE’S FILMED A CAMEO.

Now – here’s the lock sequence that Psi was trying to break while Clara was being chased by the Teller.

Heist Detail (5)

You will observe the series of 24 lights, which CLEARLY AND UNAMBIGUOUSLY refers to the Doctor’s various incarnations – or, more specifically, the actors who played them. The first three, highlighted in green, refer to Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee, all of whom are deceased. The remainder – from approximately two o’clock round in sequence – are Baker, Davison, Baker, and so on, all the way round to the top. The use of 24 is not a coincidence, but a subtle foreshadowing from the BBC as to how many Doctors we will get through before they knock the show on the head.

You’ll note two things about this. First, if we assume that the first red marker refers to Baker, Davison is lit very brightly, CLEARLY indicating another on-screen appearance from him, alongside Janet Fielding. This assumes, of course, that we do not include Hurt among the central ring, which makes sense given that he did not intially refer to himself as ‘Doctor’ and is thus unnumbered. You will also notice that the positioning of the Tenth Doctor contains another red dot on the outer rim, clearly alluding to his dual regeneration and the meta-crisis Doctor. The War Doctor is thus positioned in the centre, at the eye of the storm, while the Valeyard sits out on the fringe, at about nine o’clock. Clearly we’re not done with him yet.

And yes, there is another dot, just out of shot and positioned alongside Troughton. Well, you have to stick Peter Cushing in there somewhere.

Back in the real world, we have Clara’s mysterious card.

Heist Detail (4)

251 and 339 both refer to stories in the classic run featuring assorted Time Lords – episodes from ‘The War Games’ and ‘Frontier in Space’ respectively. P was the medieval number for ‘400’ – the approximate age gap between the War Doctor and the Eleventh – while V clearly alludes to 5, and the Fifth Doctor. Meanwhile, if you add the numbers 251 and 339 together, you get 590, which refers to episode three of ‘Mawdryn Undead’, in which the despicable Mawdryn pretends to be a new incarnation of the Doctor, only to be ousted by – yes, that’s right – Peter Davison. And once again, THIS CANNOT BE A COINCIDENCE.

Now look at this.

Heist Detail (7)

The Brigadier, who starred in ‘Mawdryn Undead’ also stars in ‘The Ambassadors of Death’, which features characters called Cornish, Wakefield and Rutherford. You will note that while the Doctor is busy opening box 251 (‘The War Games’), Clara’s right hand is poised over box / episode 265 (‘The Ambassadors of Death’, part one) while her left is pointing at 271 (‘The Ambassadors of Death’, part seven). Conclusion: not only will Jemma Redgrave be returning as the Brigadier’s daughter Kate Stewart (which we know for a fact), but the story will be set in the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, in Oxfordshire, which is coincidentally almost equidistant (by a matter of seven miles) both from Wakefield in Yorkshire and the Cornish border.

But that’s not all. Let’s go back to that vault.

Heist Detail (8)

The sarcophagus is a CLEAR AND DIRECT reference to the upcoming ‘Mummy on the Orient Express’, while the perfectly preserved lion statue obviously refers to ‘The Crusade’, which is clearly one of those stories that Phillip Morris has recovered, but which the Beeb are keeping under wraps until the Isis thing has blown over. However, it’s the golden sculpture of what looks like the London Eye that I want you to look at, because if it is the London Eye, and it’s in gold, then it’s a clear reference to the Golden Rose, given the landmark’s prominent usage back in the series 1 opener in 2005 – particularly significant at Easter, when the episode was first aired. Clearly we are destined to see the resurrection of a prominent figure, thought dead and gone, having given his life for others. Never mind that Jesus Christ was the son of David. Or, if you like, a DAVISON.

Of course, it could just as easily be a reference to the Rose d’Or, which Doctor Who has never won. But I like my version better.

Categories: God is in the Detail | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Meanwhile in the TURDIS (part 4)

Time this series got a dusting down. Accordingly, here’s what Thomas and I have been watching over the last week.

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VeggieTales

“Hello,” he said. “I’m the Fifth Doctor.”

Celery

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Protected: Meanwhile in the TURDIS

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The Great Doctor Who Party (ii)

(If you’ve missed out on the earlier bits of this little saga, they’re available here. And here. And, if you’re really bored, here.) Let’s start with the suit, which we bought on Ebay.

That buffet, then.

“HI- I- AM-HERE-TO-FIX-YOUR-TAR-DIS.”

 

I’d much rather forget the entirety of this one, but you can’t have a children’s party without pink wafers. It isn’t wrong, but we just don’t do it.

Job well done, I think. I can take no credit for this; I did the labels and took the photos. My other half did all the work.

As I may have mentioned, the Musical Weeping Angels was a non-starter, but everyone went for the find-the-monster quiz – even though we think it was sabotaged by the eventual winners, whom I’ve now decided hid the Empty Child picture after making a note of the number, which would explain why no one else could find the damned thing. Well, you can’t win ’em all. Literally, as it turns out.

Anyway, it all went off swimmingly, and himself enjoyed it tremendously. And that, of course, is the only thing that really counts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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