What a lovely, lovely surprise it was this week! A real ‘one for the fans’ mini-episode featuring the very welcome return of Paul McGann as the Doctor. We had been led to believe that apart from David Tennant, there would be no other past Doctors involved in the 50th anniversary, with the actors themselves claiming they hadn’t been called. It could still be the case for the others, but finally we see the regeneration of Doctor 8 to the ‘War Doctor’ or ‘Doctor 8.5’ has he’s being called.
One sad part of this is the feeling of being cheated. McGann was always an excellent Doctor, even though his screen time was limited to a sub-par ‘TV Movie’. He’s continued the role in the Big Finish audiobooks, but it’s this episode that gives a real glimpse into what we’ve missed out on.
Stephen Moffat does bring back characters that are popular (Weeping Angels for instance) and I hope that the reaction to ‘The Night of the Doctor’ will mean that we get some more Paul McGann stories…
Finally – the BBC has started marketing the 50th Anniversary Special for Doctor Who! It was getting a bit close the date, but at least the ball seems to be rolling now, with this rather splendid poster artwork. A closer look at the bits around John Hurt show that the ‘Bad Wolf’ story arc is making a reappearance…
Attention Whovians, there is a new book out that you need to buy forthwith! Behind the Sofa is a compilation of celebrity memories of Doctor Who, compiled by Steve Berry in aid of Alzheimer’s Research UK.
I always had a sneaking suspicion that everyone in the world loves Doctor Who. Now I have proof! If I could get all the famous names who contributed to this book into one room, it would be the maddest Doctor Who party ever. Until then, their favourite memories of the programme are preserved for all to see. Plus, everyone who buys a copy will be helping to give hope to the 820,000 people in the UK living with dementia today
You might think a book of ‘celebrity reminiscences’ about Dr Who had the potential to be a fairly dull read but its anything but. The celebrities chosen go beyond just the standard ‘I was scared by the maggots in Green Death’ to give actual insight or funny anecdotes with varied viewpoints. Its a heartwarming trip though the varied ways that fans have experienced Who, and its made with love. All of this is topped off with excellent illustrations from Ben Morris, who can capture classic and ‘New Who’ with equal dexter. I also got a warm glow from having my name in the investors page :)
If you do decide to purchase”, please buy from the publisher (rather than a certain online retailer), so that more money goes to Alzheimer’s Research UK.
This awesome puppet of Matt Smith’s Doctor was made by New York based animator Alisa Stern, and he has his own Tumblr Blog to record his travels! I think she’s captured Matt’s Doctor brilliantly, which is even more obvious in the stop-motion test:
I’d love to see more characters in this style – maybe Aunty Beeb would hire Alisa to make some very special DVD extras?
What a fantastic start to the new series! Asylum was a boost of confidence that the Dr Who team can deliver a story that made sense and didn’t try to do ‘too much’ in one episode. Having said that, they packed a lot in, and it felt longer than its allotted 45 minutes, achieving the ‘mini-blockbuster’ feel we had been told to expect.
The publicity for the episode focussed on the promise of ‘every Dalek ever’, but the real focus was that of Jenna Louise Coleman’s surprising and tragic appearance as Oswin Oswald. This is Stephen Moffat playing with our minds – he might have stopped big story arcs this series, but that doesn’t mean he avoids throwing a googly. Rumours are that her name (when she becomes a companion) is Clara Oswin, and if thats right, the Moff is showing us that there is a connection. Can’t wait to see how that unfolds! As for Jenna, it was a great debut, and I love how new companions are now ‘weaved in’ to the timeline, rather than just leaping straight to “ooh look I’m in a box thats bigger on the inside!”.
The Economist was critical of this story, calling two geniuses ‘self-congratulatory’ but I disagree. There was a lot to love, especially the Daleks being scared of their own kind, but not realising that Oswin had been reducing the Asylum to load of clapped out hulks muttering ‘EGGS’.
It wasn’t entirely free of “eh?” moments. The divorce of Amy and Rory seemed un-characteristically sudden. Watching the Pond Life episodes, things were all hunky-dory up to July, but then in the space of a month, they’d split up? After everything they’ve been through together, the reasoning for this seemed weak, and was there just to provide an emotional means for Amy to avoid the nanogenes taking her over. A bit like how quickly River Song turned from psychotic killer to the Doctor’s saviour in ‘Lets Kill Hitler’.
If you have the iTunes season pass, there is a prequel to this story that really should’ve been part of the episode, or at least available on the BBC site. Never fear, it’s on YouTube:
I liked the back-reference to Psychic Projections in this, something that featured heavily in one of my favourite classic series stories, ‘The Awakening’. Hopefully these bits don’t put off people new to the series.
So, a fantastic start! Less expectations about the next one (‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’) though…
Finally, an airdate has been announced, and the new series of Doctor Who will start on Saturday September 1st at 7:20pm! Leading up to the first episode there will a 5 part mini-series called ‘Pond Life’ explaining what has happened to the Ponds since the Christmas episode
Leigh recently told me that she was “missing me being excited about a new series”. That’s not just because of the longer wait between series, but that I felt a little bit disappointed by much of Series 6. It had gems – ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ by Neil Gamain, and ‘The Girl who Waited’ were standouts for me, but the story arc felt overwrought and left too many questions (not in a good way).
This year, there are format changes, first of all, no 2 parters. Not that I have a problem with two-parters, some of the best stories have been in that format (The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, Human Nature/Family of Blood) and I’ve often felt that 45 mins isn’t long enough to allow a story to unfold, like the rushed ‘Lets Kill Hitler’ from last year. There are of course stories that work brilliantly in the allotted time, Blink and Vincent & the Doctor spring to mind, so lets see.
The other change is no story arcs. Again, I’m not against these in principle, as they provide a overall narrative, and I love the mystery of their meaning (‘Eyepatch Lady’ from last year did work for me). However, they can labour stories needlessly, so it will interesting to see if their removal will make a difference.
We’ll get just 6 episodes this year, with the last one being the Christmas Episode. The other 6 or 7 will be shown at some point next year. Here’s what we’ve got to come this year (WARNING: may contain spoilers – I don’t know what counts as a spoiler these days):
Asylum of the Daleks
Every kind of Dalek ever. I wasn’t sure how many they’d include, but even the Special Weapons Dalek from Remeberance of the Daleks is there (and apparently one that was only ever seen in Russell T Davies’ apartment). The teaser features them all shouting ‘SAVETHEDALEKS’ before the trio get pushed down an energy pipe to a snowy planet.
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship
Despite the title, the cast looks promising for this one! The Doctor lands on a spaceship that contains… dinosaurs… and is accompanied by Amy, Rory, Rory’s father Brian (Mark Williams), Queen Nefertiti (Riann Steele), and an Edwardian explorer (Rupert Graves).
A Town Called Mercy
Filmed in Spain (doubling as ‘The Wild West’) it features fairly heavily in the Teaser Trailer with a cyborg called ‘The Reckoner’.
The Power of Three
Little is known about this episode, other than it features UNIT (hurrah!), black cubes and “will celebrate Amy and Rory’s time with the Doctor by telling it from their point of view and examining the influence of him on their lives”.
The Angels take Manhattan
Amy and Rory’s final episode, which the Who Team have been at great pains to tell us is ‘heartbreaking’ at every possible opportunity, but also “not what you’d expect”. Features River Song (posing as “Melody Malone”), and unlike the Dalek story, some of this really was filmed in New York (although some bits are still in Cardiff). It also features the Weeping Angels (hmm, are there are any FAMOUSSTATUES in New York? ;) )
Christmas Episode (not yet named but could be ‘The Snowman’)
Set in the 1890s, it Introduces the new companion, Clara Oswin, played by Jenna Coleman and features Richard E Grant as the villain of the piece. Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax (from A Good Man goes to War) will also return (yay!).
In all the recent busyness I haven’t had a chance to let you folks know that I’m still updating the Dr Who Calendar Feed for Season 6, letting you know when the episodes are on BBC1. As I find out episode titles and broadcast times, I’m adding these along the way. This season is a little unknown, as the episodes are being split into two – the second half being show in the Autumn, so this only covers the first half for now.
Note that Episode 3 is being shown at the slightly later time of 6:15pm – it wouldn’t be Dr Who if they weren’t messing with the schedules every week…
The Pandorica Opens. Bloody hell. A great penultimate episode to a season that has really impressed me with The Eleventh Hour, Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone, Amys Choice, Vincent and the Doctor and The Lodger.
So many great moments to praise in this story, but one that sticks in my mind is that the Doctors clever, stirring, ‘Let somebody else try first’ speech starts with “…right…sorry…dropped it…”. Genius.
I just wanted to pick over some of the strands from this story, and stills on the BBC site, to try and work out what’s going to happen (because the wait for the last episode is agonising)…
An earlier shot shows the vortex manipulator next to the Doctor, it could be that this is his escape route from the Pandorica. While we’re on that – poor Captain Jack and his missing hand – I wonder if he can grow a new one?
Something turns the new ‘Dell-designed’ Daleks into stone. Some sort of encounter with the Weeping Angels or the crack? Or fossilised?
Amelia Pond (the 7 year old Amy) returns
We don’t actually see River and the TARDIS explode, but we’re meant to assume that. I bet she hasn’t.
My predictions: Something else is behind the ‘alliance’, something controlling/manipulating all of them, and will get rid of them once they’ve served their purpose. The same person that can be heard saying ‘silence will fall’ over the TARDIS speakers. I’m really hoping it’s not the Master resurrected again, but possibly another old foe such as Omega or the Valeyard. Rory really is dead, but the Auton Rory gains his humanity in the same way as Professor Bracewell did in Victory of the Daleks. I don’t think that Amy is leaving the series, but can’t see how without another convenient ‘reset button’ plot resolution. I’m confident that Stephen Moffat is above all that though.
There is one other thing. Back in ‘Flesh and Stone’ there is a scene where the Doctor comes back to tell Amy “remember what I told you when you were seven?”, and he’s wearing his tweed jacket (which by that point had been taken by the Angels). It could just be a continuity error, but my gut feeling is that this was intentional. His words didn’t seem to make sense in that context., so this could be the Doctor from The Big Bang going back (forward?) to that point in history, either intentionally, or accidentally through the crack. Amy remembering what he said to her when she was seven is somehow the key to resolving events.
Anyway, only 3 more days to find out! I almost don’t want to watch it, as it means it will all be over until Christmas…
We’ve only got 3 episodes left in Season 5 of Dr Who, the 2 part finale (“The Pandorica Opens” and “The Big Bang”) and next week’s wacky-looking “The Lodger” starring James Corden. This means that it’s now possible to tell what bits from the Season 5 trailer are from the finale! While it’s possible that some of what’s left is from The Lodger, I’m pretty sure that the final involves:
River Song. (we knew she’d be in it anyway from the giveaway line “I’ll see you again when the Pandorica opens”)
Cybermen, one of which has one arm, and had to pick up it’s own head
An underground cave/labyrinth/catacomb (underneath Stonehenge?)
As I’ve said before, the quality of the acting in new Doctor Who has often gone some way to disguise the lack of a decent story. In particular, David Tennant’s swansong “The End of Time” was a big confused mess of abandoned plots and ‘reset buttons’, but it shone whenever there was one to one dialogue. It wasn’t a satisfactory end to his reign by any means. It’s not as if Russell T Davies can’t write good Who stories – ‘Gridlock’ and ‘Midnight’ show us he jolly well can – he justs gets a bit overexcited when it’s finale time. It’s like a Royal Variety Performance, Who style.
The first Series 5 story “The Eleventh Hour” had a lot to live up to in my head. Not only did Stephen Moffat consistently write the best stories in each season (OK, level pegging with Paul Cornell’s work), but I’d also liked Matt Smith in everything I’d seen him in. Even the deleted scenes for ‘In Bruges’ where he plays the younger Ralph Fiennes character and decapitates a detective in a Police Station. He may be young (and I can’t help feel jealous) but he has gravitas.
So, I’d been expecting the combination of quality scripts AND acting this time, and thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed.
I absolutely bloody loved it. It was confident, cinematic and with just the right amount of whimsy, Britishness and strangeness. There were nods to other new Doctor stories like Spearhead from Space, Castrovalva and The Christmas Invasion, without feeling like a rehash. It was good to see new camera techniques being explored (stop frame animation to represent the Doctor recalling observations) and for once, time travel played an important part in the narrative. All too often, it’s relegated to simply being a plot device for arriving at the scene.
Matt Smith was superb, and 95% of the Twitterverse that I follow felt that too. Oddly, I was constantly reminded of Python era Michael Palin, both in looks and voice/mannerisms. He was compelling to watch, as was Karen Gillan who promises to be a good foil.
The ‘story arch’ seems to be in favour again this year with the “Silence will fall” (which hopefully won’t be too over-used) and the crack from Amy Ponds wall being repeated on the TARDIS monitor at the end:
If I had to bring balance and nitpick, I’m not sold on the new theme. It’s a drastic change, and is even further away from the other-worldly nature of the Ron Grainer/Delia Derbyshire original. It might grow on me.
What a great start, and there’s still 12 more to go!
I never liked the 2005-2009 Doctor Who logo. It looked too much like ‘Farscape’ to my eyes, but this, this I like. A lot. Somehow, it feels very retro, as if it’s the logo that could’ve been at some point in it’s early past. In particular, I’m a big fan of the way it works as a ‘DW’ Tardis logomark:
It’s absolutely the right time to do this. New production team, companion, and of course, Doctor.
As fans know, there isn’t a ‘proper’ season of Who this year, but we do have 4 specials to look forward to, and details of the first one are starting to come through. ‘Planet of the Dead’ looks set to air on Saturday April 11th, so I’ve updated the subscribable iCal feed for Dr Who Season Guide (please note, this is a new address for the iCal feed). As the air date and time are confirmed I’ll update the calendar.
It’s David Tennant’s last season too – and I worry for the tone of the final story. Will it be a good, well scripted, send off? Or an overblown variety performance bring-everyone-back-for-one-last-one extravaganza? Rumours in the tabloids are pointing to the latter, but I hope they’re wrong!
The new Radio Times has a spectacular fold out cover previewing the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas Episode “The New Doctor”. Go see the larger version on Outpost Gallifrey for the detail (like the Cyberman with odd black tinted mask and visible brain).
Delia Derbyshire has long been considered ahead of her time. One of the earliest creators of electronic music, she is most famous for her work with the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop in Maida Vale, at which she created the haunting original Dr Who theme, in an age without synthesizers:
A lot of modern musicians like Orbital, Stereolab and Spacemen 3 cite her work as an influence, and it’s easy to to see why.
What sparked this blog post was the news that more of her work has been discovered, some 267 tapes to be exact! All of this is going to be digitized and made available, but in particular was this experimental dance track that she created in the 60’s. Made decades before ‘electronic dance music’ really happened, and yet it sounds like something created today.
This clip from a BBC Four documentary gives some insight into how she created music with reel to reel tapes:
Sadly she died in 2001 at 64, just after rediscovering her love of electronic music, working with Peter Kember (Spacemen 3, Sonic Boom), of which she said:
Working with people like Sonic Boom on pure electronic music has re-invigorated me. He is from a later generation but has always had an affinity with the music of the 60s. Now without the constraints of doing ‘applied music’, my mind can fly free and pick-up where I left off.
This is for those who watched (and care about!) Dr Who episode 12 The Stolen Earth, so be warned – there are spoilers!
This email landed this morning:
I’m surprised to not see a Dr Who post on your blog. Are we going to get one? Will David Tennant be staying? Did you feel a pang of sadness at the thought of losing our current doctor?
Ah, go on then.
I don’t think this is when David Tennant leaves, and I base that solely on the fact that he’s been seen filming the Christmas Episode! However, some points against that though:
It’s possible that the production team kept his leaving secret – after all they had planned that Rose would be coming back, and managed to keep it secret for a couple of years.
Catherine Tate did put her foot in it by saying this was his last season, after which there was an air of ‘she let the cat out of the bag’
The scenes for the Christmas episode may be flashbacks, or some other ‘Time-Crash’ style plot device. Or even a complete Red Herring.
Ood Sigma telling him that his “song may soon end” (although I take this to refer to Professor River Song – too literal?)
Still, my feeling is that next year’s special episodes will be his last. 3-4 years is the usual reign for a Doctor, and I’m sure that he would want to move on soon. He’s a great actor after all, and wouldn’t want to be typecast no matter how much of a fan he is. I hope he doesn’t go though – he makes even a bad script magic to watch.
So if this isn’t his last story, as I’m reckoning, then that leaves some issues. Will they back out and do some cringey plot device about how he regenerated but ‘came back the same’? Hopefully not, but here’s my theory: There was a brief mention to Donna that she ‘had something on her back’ – referencing the previous episode (Apparently Dextrus says this to Donna in ‘Fires of Pompeii’, but I missed that reference). There is still a Time Beetle™ on her back, and once some other choice is reversed, it will undo all these events. Anyway, we’ll see come Saturday!
Steven is the writer that consistently writes the stand-out stories in each season – The Empty Child, The Girl in the Fireplace and Blink. Whenever Mr Oxton tells me ‘last weeks episode was a bit meh”, I always tell him to wait for the Moffat story, then you’ll be impressed. ‘Silence in the Library’ is the next Moffat story (in 2 weeks time, because of a break for Eurovision – grrr!).
I’m very appreciative of everything Russell has done for Dr Who. I may not agree with all his decisions, but without him, there would be be no show to get all ‘comic book store guy’ about in the first place. Plus, I still think Gridlock was a darned good story. However, I think Who can only get better under Steven’s guidance. Yay!
I’d missed this the first time I watched the Poison Sky last week! I know, I’m probably the last person to notice it…
In the Tardis, just before Donna looks at the monitor, there is a brief flash of Rose calling the Doctor – just for a few frames. Often the ‘story arcs’ throughout the season get on my pip, usually because they’re loud and obvious, but these brief flashes of Rose are really well done. Yay!
5th April is the confirmed date for the new season of Dr Who! Mixture of excitement and worry about this one – I don’t know anyone who thinks ‘Donna Noble’ is a good idea, but then I though that about Billie Piper, and how wrong I was.
On YouTube you can see the cinema trailer that doesn’t appear on telly until 29th March. It features interesting spoilers and not too many ‘running away from explosions’ shots:
As I did last year, I’m putting together a subscribable calendar for the new season. So far, not a huge deal of information is known, but in some cases there are at least suggested titles. You can subscribe to the Dr Who Season 4 Calendar right now, and as I find out more, I’ll update it.
What we do know about this series is:
Return of the Sontarans (played by Mike from the The Young Ones). Yay!
David Troughton and a mysterious library! It’s a 2 parter written by Steven Moffat, so you know that at least this one will be good.
Big 3 part finale with Martha, Rose, Sarah Jane and Captain Jack. It sounds overblown, but I hope I’m wrong.
Hopefully they’ll give Dalek Caan a rest this year, bless im.
Many a Doctor Who fan’s favourite was Tom Baker. Maybe because he stayed in the job the longest, probably more likely that he was simply excellent at the part. However, I think who you grow up with has a lot to do with it, and I grew up with Peter Davison, and he was by far my favourite.
Unashamedly English in style, he was also the first ‘young doctor’ and there hasn’t really been another youthful one until David Tennant. So it’s pant-wettingly exciting that they are appearing together tonight, to say the least. Steven Moffat has written the scene (who consistently turns out the best stories for the last 3 seasons), and Graeme Harper, the veteran Who director is involved too. It may only last 5 minutes in the end, but everything points to good time.
And here it is:
When David Tennant says “You were my Doctor” I get a lump in my throat…
So the theme of the Dr Who Christmas special has been revealed (Titanic doesn’t hit an iceberg, it crashes into the TARDIS) and the ‘special guest co-star’ has been confirmed as Kylie after all. It sounds like it’ll be a good Christmassy romp, as long as Russell T Davies doesn’t go overboard (ouch) on the corny Titanic jokes.
One thing worries me though: Does this mean he will meet himself?
I was on board another ship once. They said that was unsinkable. I ended up clinging to an iceberg, it wasn’t half cold.
I’ve been looking for a public calendar to subscribe to for Dr Who Season 3, but can’t find one. So, I made one on Google Calendar instead. I’ll try and make sure the broadcast times are kept up to date!
If anyone knows of a service that creates iCal feeds based on a search for a TV Show, I’d love to hear about it! It’s something that Ben Ward blogged about on backstage.bbc.co.uk but so far I’ve not seen anything more than the RadioTimes saved favourites function. With all these startups, surely someone has dreamed up a ‘watchr’ service? Or is UK TV schedules data only accessible via screen scraping?
Excuse me for a moment while I blurt out some random lists…
In 2005, Doctor Who had finally been brought back, and given proper respect. This year, David Tennant just went on to fully restore my faith in the show. I’ve not enjoyed or looked forward to TV as much as this year with Doctor Who. Sure there were some stinkers – “New Earth’ was an awful way to start the season, and ‘Love and Monsters’ might’ve been OK it if it weren’t for the Peter Kay ending – but the rest was decent drama. ‘Girl in the Fireplace’ and ‘Army of Ghosts/Doomsday’ were my highlights. Now when I think of 2006, I always think of that farewell scene on the beach.
(Once again, not everything on this list was released in 2006, it’s music I listened to in that year).
The National – “Alligator”
Pelle Carlberg – “Everything. Now!”
Starflyer 59 – “My Island”
Mew – “And the Glass Handed Kites”
Beck – “The Information”
Duke Special – “Songs from the Deep Forest”
Honourable mentions for Thom Yorke’s “The Eraser”, The Submarines’ “Declare a new state” and “Imogen Heap’s “Speak for yourself”. Hammock’s new album “Raising a voice…” came too late to make the list, but will definitely be high in this years.
When I finally got to meet Garrett and Shawn at @media, I had no idea that they were podcasting together, but I’m glad I found out. Most of my favourite moments are summed up in the End of year best o, especially Shawn’s relaxation tapes. The grizzly bear and xylophone prank calls didn’t however.
OS X Software
Firebug Extension for Firefox (the best thing to happen to web development since the WebDev extension)
Letterbox plugin for Mail.app (finally – a 3 paned vertical view in Mail, what I’ve always wanted)
Finally, 2006 brought a new version of Omniweb, with the updated Webkit, and what a difference it made. I’ve been living it in pretty much since it came out, which I guess means I’m playing around less. I just hope that Omnigroup give it some much needed interface love in 2007 to bring it in line with their other apps. Camino is also becoming a shining light amongst OS X browsers, and I think that all Mac users need one webkit browser, and one Gecko-based. I know which 2 I use!
(the revamped) Google Reader
Rather than use IM now (which I never did much anyway), I just dip in and out of Twitter. Sometimes just leaving a status (that previously I would’ve done via my IM status), other times joining in the conversation. It particularly made watching the MacWorld announcements more fun, with Garrett every now and then chipping in with just “HOLYHELL!”.
Resolutions for the new year
Must finish the Correo icon for Nick. Version 0.1 had to go out without a final icon for me! The shame!
I want to use this journal for more of the throwaway screenshotty stuff that I’ve been posting to Flickr. Be warned.
I can’t believe it’s all over. No, not the World Cup, Doctor Who, The Doctor and Rose.
(Warning: If you’ve yet to see season 2, possible spoilers ahead). I’ve been a fan since I was about 6, but I’ve never felt as good about the show as I have with the David Tennant and Billie Piper combination. I didn’t think it would work, but by golly it was genius. Now its over, and every time I think about it, I just feel sad and tearful. It echoes quite closely the plight of Lyra and Will in the Northern Lights trilogy, and I think I cried at that too. I need some sort of a support group.
Thankyou Russell T Davies, for making Doctor Who such a decent show to watch again.