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27 July 2014

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 573: The Keeper of Traken, Episode One

Dear diary,

Perhaps more than any other story of this period, The Keeper of Traken suffers when you know about Doctor Who. There’s so many things in this first episode alone that simply don’t work as well when you know what the next few years of the programme are going to be like, and indeed when you know what happens in this story. It suffers because I know the Melkur is a TARDIS. It suffers because I know that the TARDIS is housing the decaying Master. It suffers because I can’t look at Tremas without knowing that he’ll be embodying the Master for encounters with the next three Doctors, and because I can’t look at Nyssa (who is oddly underused in this initial episode), without knowing that she’ll go on to travel with the Doctor for the next season-and-a-half.

For all that, though, knowing these things flags up a few interesting new angles to enjoy with the story. When the Keeper warns the Doctor to think carefully before accepting the mission to help him on Traken, he tells the Time Lord that there is great danger in the task, and that it could cause obliteration to even the Doctor. In hindsight, this can be read as a warning of the impending regeneration, and the fact that this story really kicks off the chain of events that will lead the Doctor to the Pharos Project, and his death. Equally, it’s great to see the way the Doctor behaves here, too, responding to the Keeper’s assertion that the passing of ages have taken their toll on him by claiming to know the feeling.

It’s often said that Season Eighteen has something of a funereal feel to it, and while the whole style has felt more foreboding than ever before recently, this is really where it kicks in. Tom Baker hasn’t looked his best of late - unwell and with hair that’s had to be artificially permed - but this is where he really starts looking old. It’s almost as though the departure of Romana and the return to N- space has taken it all out of him, and he knows that he’s marching towards the end. I think that’s likely to be the thing that keeps me entertained over these next couple of stories. This tale, Logopolis, and Castrovalva are described as being a loose trilogy of adventures, and I’m looking forward to seeing that in action as I move forward. The tone of this first episode certainly seems to be setting us up well for what’s to come...

As for the episode itself... it’s another slightly unusual one, with lots being told in the form of flashbacks, as the Keeper brings the Doctor up to speed with all the events on Traken that have lead to their current situation. I love his initial arrival in the TARDIS, and the Doctor’s solomn reaction to it - it’s almost like the appearance of the Ood in The Waters of Mars, where the Doctor knows he’s being summoned to his final adventures - but it does make for a slightly different feel to the tale. The Doctor and Adric crouch round the old man as he tells us his story, and once the adventure properly gets underway, it’s not long before our heroes find themselves captured and facing inquisition.

It’s great to see them together, though, and I’d forgotten just how much I enjoyed the pairing of the Doctor and Adric on their own. Our favourite Time Lord has agains taken on a more professorial role, teaching the young boy, and it’s perhaps closer to the kind of relationship the First Doctor had with Susan than we’ve seen in a long time. He’s got the irascibility down pat, too. It always seemed to be a shame that they had so few stories together (they barely encounter each other in State of Decay or Warrior’s Gate, so I’m looking forward to enjoying the pairing while I can.

27 July 2014

David Tennant has said he is eagerly awaiting Peter Capaldi's Doctor Who series because everything the actor does excites him.

The former Doctor said he was a huge fan of The Thick Of It star Peter, and that he thought signing up the actor must have been a no-brainer for the show's bosses.

Asked whether he would be watching the new series at the TCA event in Los Angeles, David quipped:

"I never watch it, never watched it since I left, I can't bear any of them. Of course I will! How could I not? It's compulsory in Britain anyway, you have to now."

The Broadchurch and Gracepoint star continued:

"I haven't seen any of it yet but everything about Peter Capaldi gets me terribly excited so I'm very much looking forward to it."

On the subject of whether he was surprised at an older Doctor casting, David replied:

"I think if you've got the chance of signing Peter Capaldi then you do it, I imagine."

[Source: Press Association]

27 July 2014

The Sunday Times have a brand new interview with Peter Capaldi on his role as The Doctor in todays magazine supplement.

In an interview with The Sunday Times Magazine, Capaldi, 56, rules out a potentially toe-curling Doctor Who romance with Clara Oswald, played by Jenna Coleman, 28:

“It’s not what this Doctor’s concerned with, it’s quite a fun relationship, but no, I did call and say, ‘I want no Papa-Nicole mo–ments.’ I think there was a bit of tension with that at first, but I was absolutely adamant.”

Read the full article by purchasing todays newspaper or subscribing online.

Watch a short promotional video which asks Capaldi about collecting the Doctor Who annuals, in the player, below:

Below is DWO's guide to the confirmed and rumoured titles for Series 8:

8.1: Deep Breath - written by Steven Moffat
8.2: Into The Dalek - written by Phil Ford
8.3: Robot Of Sherwood
 - written by Mark Gatiss
8.4: Listen
 - written by Steven Moffat
8.5: Time Heist
 - written by Stephen Thompson
8.6: The Caretaker - written by Gareth Roberts
8.7: Kill The Moon - written by Peter Harness
8.8: Mummy On The Orient Express - written by Jamie Mathieson
8.9: Flatline - written by Jamie Mathieson
8.10: In The Forest Of The Night - written by Frank Cottrell Boyce
8.11: Dark Water - written by Steven Moffat
8.12: Death In Heaven - written by Steven Moffat

+  Series 8 of Doctor Who will air in the UK on 23rd August 2014, on BBC One.
+  Series 8 of Doctor Who will air in the USA on 23rd August 2014, on BBC America.
+  Series 8 of Doctor Who will air in Canada on 23rd August 2014, on SPACE.
+  Series 8 of Doctor Who will air in Australia on 24th August 2014, on ABC1

[Source: BBC]

26 July 2014

A fourth teaser trailer for Series 8 of Doctor Who has aired.

The trailer kicks off outside the TARDIS looking in and then pans up to see The Doctor sitting on the roof. The Doctor utters just one word:


This could very well be a reference to the rumoured title of Episode 4 of Series 8 (Listen), written by Steven Moffat.

Just one question though...where is the lantern on top of the TARDIS gone? Surely The Doctor isn't dimensionally transcendental, too? :)

Watch the trailer in the player, below:

Below is DWO's guide to the confirmed and rumoured titles for Series 8:

8.1: Deep Breath - written by Steven Moffat
8.2: Into The Dalek* - written by Phil Ford
8.3: Robots Of Sherwood*
 - written by Mark Gatiss
8.4: Listen*
 - written by Steven Moffat
8.5: Time Heist*
 - written by Stephen Thompson
8.6: [Untitled] - written by Gareth Roberts
8.7: Kill The Moon*
8.8: Mummy On The Orient Express*
8.9: Flatline*
8.10: [Untitled]
8.11: [Untitled]
8.12: [Untitled]

* Unconfirmed

+  Series 8 of Doctor Who will air in the UK on 23rd August 2014, on BBC One.
+  Series 8 of Doctor Who will air in the USA on 23rd August 2014, on BBC America.
+  Series 8 of Doctor Who will air in Canada on 23rd August 2014, on SPACE.
+  Series 8 of Doctor Who will air in Australia on 24th August 2014, on ABC1

[Source: BBC]

26 July 2014

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 572: Warrior’s Gate, Episode Four

Dear diary,

I was really impressed, at the end of Meglos, when Romana announced that they’d had a call from Gallifrey, and were required to head there immediately. It was probably the ear lies that any companion departure to date had been foreshadowed so far in advance of it actually occurring. When Full Circle opened with Romana in a funk because she didn’t want to give up her life with the Doctor, it was even better. It felt like the beginning of the end for the Fourth Doctor, and it was nice to have it all being worked in so early. I’ve often seen the 1980s eras of Doctor Who criticised for being a bit like a soap opera, but I thought that this was an example of the format being used very well.

Equally, I knew that Romana didn’t end up returning to Gallifrey (at least, not during the lifetime of the original TV series. She ends up as president in the books and the audios), I was well aware that she left the TARDIS to stay here with the Tharrils: but I never knew why. The more this story went on, the more I started to piece it together. K9 could only be accurately repaired by passing through the mirror... but he wouldn’t be able to pass back again. Would the same happen to Romana? More likely, I thought, she’d opt to remain behind to simply avoid being recalled to Gallifrey. She’s well aware that the Time Lords can send out a recall signal and drag the TARDIS back there whenever they like, but there’s less chance of them getting hold of her in E-space.

As it happens, the actual departure... just happens. It’s gone from being a great example of foreshadowing and setting up to being the absolute epitome of the quick companion departure. They save the day. They’re safely back at the TARDIS. Then Romana casually states that she’s not tagging along for the ride, and the Doctor responds by giving her K9 and buggering off. It’s the most amicable divorce I’ve ever seen. But it feels all wrong.

In theory, it shouldn’t - it’s the perfect way to cap off this season’s running theme of the Doctor setting up new societies at the end of each adventure, by giving this one his beloved companion to help. And Romana too. It should feel like a fairly brilliant way for Romana to depart the series, and all the little hints throughout this episode that she’s becoming more and more like the Doctor (at one point, she even quotes him verbatim) should be part of her journey to staying behind in E-space, but it just lacks any emotion or drama in those final moments. The TARDIS door has shut, and the Doctor has gone.

It’s a pity, in many ways. I’d always been a bit weary of the Romana period of the programme - I said as much when she first appeared way back during The Ribos Operation. Almost three whole seasons of the Doctor travelling with an intellectual equal didn’t really appeal to me all that much, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised as the stories have rolled by. Romana has worked well in both incarnations, and it’s coincided with Tom Baker finding the joy in playing this role again, too. It feels like a shame to end three seasons of travel in such a brief exchange.

Still, I can’t deny that it’s also a sign of exciting developments afoot. You can carve up the Tom Baker years in several ways - producers, script editors, seasons, episodes - but one way has always been ‘companions’. It feels like he has three main eras of companion throughout his tenure. There’s ‘the Sarah Jane years’, which can also be further broken down into ‘with and without Harry’, ‘the Leela years’, and ‘the Romana years’. It might jus the me, but I find it easy to forget that there’s two adventures at the end of his run which feature none of these major companions, and instead seem devoted to setting up his next incarnation’s team. Adric has joined us with the E-space trilogy, Nyssa will be showing up tomorrow, and then Tegan in his final story. The departure of Romana may have been rushed and a bit of a let down, but it’s a sign that the Fourth Doctor is almost done, and there’s a new era just around the corner...

25 July 2014

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 571: Warrior’s Gate, Episode Three

Dear diary,

It was this cliffhanger that I could recall from a previous viewing of Warrior’s Gate - though curiously, three quarters of the way in, it’s still the only thing that I can remember from last time round. It’s not a surprise that this one stuck in the memory, though, because it’s brilliant. The Doctor sits around the table with the Tharills and goes on to berate them for their way of life. Just as a group of attackers burst into the room and the axe falls... we see time shift to much later, and the Doctor finds himself sat at the table in the other gate, surrounded by people who’re specifically looking for him. I can’t quite get my head around all of the specifics (for instance, is this the same room in two time zones? That’s the implication, but they’re in two different locations. I assumed that the mirror was the barrier between E-space and N-space, but then why don’t you emerge from the mirror in the same place?), but that doesn’t really matter, because it’s a brilliant cliffhanger all the same.

As I’ve said, though, nothing else in the story really seems to be sticking for me. It feels at once very dull and also very complex. There’s lots of ideas floating around in this one that probably should be capturing my imagination, but they just... aren’t. I decided to take a look at some of the behind the scenes story for this one, in the hope that it may help to get me more involved, but I can’t say that it’s done much good. Apart from the various squabbles over who wrote what, it seems to boil down to the director, Paul Joyce, the writer, Steve Gallagher, and Christopher Bidmead pointing out how clever they were when putting this one together. If anything, it may have put me off the story even more.

Once again, that’s not to say that the story is completely irredeemable in my eyes. There’s things in today’s episode - as with the previous two - which help to make things a little bit easier for me. Today, it’s the addition of the black and white ‘landscapes’ that the Doctor and friends find themselves in. It all adds to the slightly surreal quality of the story, and while I was originally not a fan of them looking so much like photographs the actors had been overlaid on, I think that actually works in their favour: it simply heightens the oddity of the whole thing.

I think that’s the thing that I’m likely to take away from Warrior’s Gate this time around - this is Doctor Who at its most art house. Looking in to the behind the scenes struggles, what comes across very clearly is that Joyce was trying to treat the production as though it were a film (for better or - in regards to the time they had in the studio - for worse), and that really comes across in the finished production. It could be even more interesting to me, if things like the void weren’t quite so obviously CSO. I don’t know what I’d rather, but... something. The story could grab me more given the time and the budget that Joyce seems to think it has, but as things stand, it’s really not doing it for me, sadly.

25 July 2014

Peter Capaldi's first full episode as The Doctor - Deep Breath - will be screened in cinemas around the world from 23rd August 2014.

This year’s screenings follow the success of the global cinema release of Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary episode The Day Of The Doctor which was screened in over 1500 cinemas around the world, allowing fans to come together to watch the show like never before.

Doctor Who makes a spectacular return to the big screen in the feature-length premiere episode of Series 8, Deep Breath. Directed by acclaimed director Ben Wheatley (Sightseers, A Field in England) and written by lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat, the beginning of the Twelfth Doctor’s era stars Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, Jenna Coleman as his companion Clara Oswald and sees the return of fan favourites The Paternoster Gang - Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart) and Strax (Dan Starkey) – in a pulse-racing adventure through Victorian London.

Steven Moffat comments:

“Last November the Doctor didn't just conquer the world on television, he did it in the cinemas too. And like the show-off he is, he can't resist another go - one taste of the silver screen is never enough. On August 23rd the new Doctor will begin his new adventures on BBC One and in cinemas all over the world. Movie-land beware - Capaldi is coming to get you!"

8.1: Deep Breath will be screened in participating cinemas around the world from 23 August, 2014. More information will be released by BBC Worldwide and participating cinema chains over the coming weeks. For all of the latest information please visit the BBC's dedicated cinema page.

Check Out the Full Trailer for Series 8, below:

+  Series 8 of Doctor Who will air in the UK on 23rd August 2014, on BBC One.
+  Series 8 of Doctor Who will air in the USA on 23rd August 2014, on BBC America.
+  Series 8 of Doctor Who will air in Canada on 23rd August 2014, on SPACE.
+  Series 8 of Doctor Who will air in Australia on 24th August 2014, on ABC1

[Source: BBC]

24 July 2014

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 570: Warrior’s Gate, Episode Two

Dear diary,

When I said during yesterday’s episode that I hoped we’d get more of the slightly surreal stuff today, I didn’t mean quite like this. We’re now half way through this story, and I still don’t really know what’s going on. There’s a broken-down space ship, a gateway to an unusual abandoned medieval world, and a supposedly empty void between two universes. But after 50 minutes, not a lot has actually happened yet. There’s lots of roaming around and any bouts of action - like Romana being strapped in to the broken ship to see where they’re going - seem to be over with very quickly. Before you know it, Romana has been left behind, and the crew have gone for another wander through nothing.

As, presumably, Adric has, too. He goes off exploring with K9, and we’re told that the only way to navigate in this place is through the use of a mass detector (the crew of the spaceship have one that they’re using to get around, and K9 serves the purpose for Adric). That’s fine, but following the attack of time winds in the last episode, K9 isn’t functioning at full capacity. Ok, not a problem, because Adric is able to take one of the dog’s antenna, and move further away to help correct the problem. At this point, K9 heads off to find the Doctor... where he arrives with both ears in tact! We see Adric wandering in the void briefly, but I can’t tell if he’s still got an ear. Was a scene cut out at all? Is it just an error in production?

I’m not usually one for spotting production errors. I stumbled across a website recently that looks at them in detail throughout classic Doctor Who episodes, and I couldn’t help but think that it all seemed just a bit... petty. Errors were being pointed out that were so minor it’s unlikely that most people would spot them on their tenth viewing of an episode. I’m not the type who usually even notices a boom mic in shot, or the shadow of a crew member, but this episode seems to be making them more obvious to me.

Aside from the K9 ear problem, there’s a scene early in today’s episode where the Doctor tricks the two Gundan robots into taking their axes to each other, and solving his problem of trying to avoid them. It’s quite a fun moment in the story, and a very ‘Doctor’ solution to the troubles, but it’s somewhat let down by the fact that one of the robots drops their axe... with a sharp point of it landing square in the Doctor’s back! If he’s lucky, it wouldn’t do any major damage to him, but it’d leave a rather nasty scar if nothing else! I can only assume that they were too pressed for time to take another shot, because this seems like a fairly obvious flaw.

I’ve been very negative today about Warrior’s Gate, but there are some things in here that I’m enjoying. The duo of crew members aboard the space ship (the ones who remain behind when the others go out hunting for this gateway) are raising lots of smiles, be it from their dry reactions to everything else happening, or during their attempts to wake a hibernation Tharril here. I think they’re probably my favourite bit of the story so far. There’s also the scene where Romana first steps out of the TARDIS and takes great delight at really confusing everyone around her - that caused a few laughs, too. On the whole, though, I’m just not sure that I get this story...

23 July 2014

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 569: Warrior’s Gate, Episode One

Dear diary,

Warrior’s Gate. I know I’ve seen it (or at least some of it - I have a distinct memory of the Doctor sitting in one of the chairs at that table in the main hall, and possibly an axe falling towards him, I think...), but I really couldn’t tell you anything about it. Yes, it’s one of those stories that I’ve watched before but not paid attention to. Either that, or it just simply failed to stick in my mind to any real degree.

I’m guessing that it’s probably not that latter option, though, because right from the start of this episode, the story is wildly different to anything that Doctor Who has ever given us before. We open with a wonderfully long shot, which guides us through several rooms of a spaceship. It makes this set feel genuinely huge, even though it probably isn’t. Even when we finally do move to a new shot, it’s all done with fades, and all the subsequent parts of the opening follow the same pattern of having the cameras glide around the set, showing us everything and creating an almost dream-like quality. There’s a lovely film called Russian Ark, which is all filmed in one single, continuous shot, and this is very reminiscent of that*, creating a lovely - slightly surreal - dream-like start to the story.

That’s quite a fitting way to start the story, really, because it’s a story set in the nowhere between our universe and E-Space. In theory, there’s no time here, no up or down... it seems only right that we should start the first episode of such a story by being given something so unlike the programme’s usual stock. It’s really quite a nice place to set a story, but it’s a pity that everything happening in this nowhere is just a bit... dull. There’s nothing that’s really grabbing me once those initial shots are out of the way.

Romana spends the whole episode trapped inside the console room trying to repair broken equipment... which she also had to do for the first episode of Meglos (where she was also repairing K9, though there her stay in the ship was extended by a time loop), and she spends a vast amount of time during Full Circle stuck in the TARDIS, too. No wonder she’s off before the end of this story! Elsewhere, we’ve got a space ship filled with not especially stand-out characters, and they’re bickering about broken equipment, too. There’s a slight bit of interest injected by the fact that their ‘navigator’ seems to be slightly more unusual, but I’m finding it hard to connect with any of their scenes, either.

Thankfully, what does appeal to me are all the scenes later on in the episode, when our lion man (and, latterly, the Doctor) make their way through a ruined archway into some kind of abandoned castle. It’s back to being slightly surreal again, unlike the cookie-cutter scenes elsewhere, and it’s piqued my interest enough to salvage the episode a little. I’m hoping that the rest of the story will spend more time exploring this location, and continuing down the path of the slightly unusual elements of the story...

*While I’m mentioning it, Russian Ark really is worth checking out, if you get a chance. It’s all in - surprise, surprise - Russian, but there are subtitles. It’s a time travel story, and it’s all filmed in the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. It runs about an hour and a half in one continuous take, and it’s such an unusual experience, but somewhat magical and enchanting. Certainly, if you enjoy that kind of thing, it’s very much worth tracking the film down. 

22 July 2014

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 568: State of Decay, Episode Four

Dear diary,

Um... Ok, well, let’s start with the positives. Despite what the general opinion among several friends seems to be, I rather like the shot of the Great Vampire’s hand reaching up through the ground. What I mean to say is that during that initial shot of it doing so, it actually look quite effective. Certainly, it’s not a bad shot. It does rather fall to pieces once our three villains are CSO’s in front of a less well realised example of the scene, but that initial moment of breaking through the earth is rather good, so there.

No, I’m more put off by the Doctor’s X-Ray of the area (which seems to somewhat miss the way that an X-Ray works, but ho-hum), revealing what appears to be a poor quality rubber bat model representing the greatest and most powerful foe that the famous Time Lords have ever encountered. For some reason, in my head, I had the Great Vampire down as being a lot more Nosferatu-esque in design. Perhaps fittingly now that John Nathan-Turner is in the producer’s chair, ‘the memory cheats’.

Overall, I think that the model work in this episode is probably one of the weakest points. The shot of the tower breaking apart as one of the ships takes off isn’t the best model shot that the programme has ever given us, and it took me right out of the entire climax. I don’t think it helps that everything moves a little bit too quickly for my liking. The Doctor rounds up the rebels and prepares to lead an attack on the tower! He figures out what he needs to fro to destroy the Vampire, and rushes off to do it! A battle ensues, and there’s slaughter! Romana is being sacrificed, with bats coming to feast on her blood! And yet, there’s no tension in any of this. Despite sitting through three very enjoyable episodes, I’ve just no connection to anything that’s happening here. A pity.

That’s not to say that the episode is a complete washout, though. There’s a lovely exchange as the time of arising begins, where a guard tells his master that he cannot go back up there, or everyone will die. The simple response - ‘Then die! That is the purpose of guards...’ - is absolutely wonderful, and I think it may be chalked up as one of my favourite lines from all of Doctor Who. Then there’s the three who rule being aged to death as the Doctor watched on. There’s a slightly dodgy shot when they fade between two states, but it’s very effective when we keep cutting back to them looking older and older until they’re gone.

It’s also a fairly good episode for K9. After a few stories in which he’s blown up, has his head knocked off, kicked about, and just generally abused, we actually have a character apologising to the dog for not putting enough faith in him! There’s something oddly heart warming about that. As if that wasn’t enough, we even get to see him trundle over the lip of the TARDIS prop! Has that happened before? I can’t recall it any time recently...

I was much more taken with the ‘making of’ feature about this story on the DVD - it’s one of the better examples of these from the entire range. It gives a potted history of the production, which was originally planned to be part of Season Fifteen before a BBC adaptation of Dracula put paid to that, and has some interesting input from both Terrance Dicks and Christopher Bidmead. I think it’s fair to say that there’s not a great deal of love lost between the pair! There’s also a lot of great discussion about the design of the story, and a look at some of the influences which inspired the style of the tower in particular.

As is rapidly becoming traditional for my Episode Four write ups this season, I’m keeping an eye on the Doctor’s actions at the end of a story. He’s at it again, you know, setting up a new society and leaving them to get on with it with very little information to go by. His advice today is that if the newly-liberated proletariat of this world use their recently salvaged technology well, then they can be a high technological society in no time. I think he’s being perhaps a little facetious there, but it does keep in with this seemingly running theme of the Doctor setting up new societies at the moment!

In contrast to some of the others, though, I can’t find an obvious way that this could go all that wrong for these people. There’s not a great deal of them, so working out some kind of democracy should be relatively simple. They’re the ones who toil and work, so they’ll be able to arrange food and keep themselves going. The only thing that the Lords ever seemed to do for them was to protect them from ‘the Wasting’, but since that’s not really an issue any more, I think we could be looking at a fairly happy future for this lot!

21 July 2014

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 567: State of Decay, Episode Three

Dear diary,

I know I’ve banged on about it during the other two episodes of this serial, but I really do love that Adric has a story more-or-less separate from that of the Doctor and Romana for the most part here. It’s not until almost the very end of today’s episode that Romana actually finds Adric, and the Doctor has yet to see him! It means that there’s an interesting new vibe to the series, which can only be described as ‘parents and child’.

This is best exemplified during the Doctor and Romana’s daring escape from the tower, when they reach the door, freedom in their grasp... and then they stop because they can’t simply leave Adric behind now that they know he’s there (even though he shouldn’t be - as far as they were concerned, they’d ‘sent him to bed’ at the end of the last story). It’s rather lovely, and the way that they bicker about who’ll go and get the kid and who’ll go and get on with the proper adventure is brilliant. It’s a bit of a shame that this TARDIS team will only have one more story together, before it’s changed again.

I’m also enjoying all the new Gallifreyan lore that’s being introduced here. It seems quite soon after we had a lot of information about the very early days of the Time Lords in Shada, though I suppose that won’t have mattered at all on original transmission, but I really do enjoy delving into the dark and mysterious past of this ancient race from time to time. I especially love that we first get the Doctor musing that there are vampire legends on almost every civilised world, before going on to give us the tale of these creatures in the form of a legend, a fairy story that was told on Gallifrey. It also means that we get to hear him speak again of the old hermit who used to live in the mountains not far from his home (he lived a very sheltered life), who was first mentioned in The Time Monster, and played a fairly significant role during Planet of the Spiders. You have to wonder if this simply comes down to the script being written by Terrance Dicks, who would have over-seen those stories at the time.

From there, we go on to the Doctor getting the true record of the tale from the TARDIS. There’s something rather brilliant about the idea that the information is so old and out of date that the main databanks on the ship don’t contain it, and he has to get out some more antiquated equipment before he can have his theory backed up. I think this is the only disappointment that comes from all of this - his theory is completely backed up. In a story which has very cleverly played with the way that language changes over time (in the names of the crew members evolving and changing while they’ve been on this world), I’d have liked to see the official story of the great war against the vampires be slightly different from the subsequent retelling to a young Doctor in the form of a story. That feels like a bit of a missed opportunity when you consider the richness in other areas of this serial.

My slight worry for this next episode is that it may feel like a bit of a let down after all this build-up. The Record of Rassilon makes a point about how these creatures are damned near impossible to kill, and how they’re some of the most powerful beings to ever exist, and yet the Doctor and friends only have 25 minutes or so to kill not only the last of them, but the most powerful one, too! Considering that they’ve saved the reveal of this demon for the final episode, you have to hope that he’ll live up to the hype...

21 July 2014

Philip Morris, the man behind the recent recovery of nine lost episodes of Doctor Who, and Director of TIEA, took part in a Q&A yesterday on the 'Doctor Who Missing Episodes Discussion Group' on Facebook.

The inevitable question of whether more missing episodes of Doctor Who had been found or not, came up, and here was Morris' response:

“A tricky one to answer, and fans will just want a yes or no, haven’t you or have you. But it;s complex. All I can say is the wind is blowing the right way. Be patient.”

Morris also clarified if any announcements were due soon:

“There are no announcements in the pipeline at present. It can sometimes be the wrong thing with ongoing work and investigation. An example would be during the last announcement. I was in a very hostile part of the world and suddenly I was everywere on TV. My anonymity was compromised, which made the team a target. So we must plan these things carefully for the greater good of the project and the safety of the personnel involved.”

The 'omni-rumour' surrounding missing episodes has been going on for some time now, with many fans believing more episodes of Doctor Who will turn up. DWO also believe more episode discoveries will be announced in the not too distant future, but as Morris suggested, we all have to be patient.

DWO Discussion:
Do you think more lost episodes of Doctor Who have been found? What do you make of Philip Morris' comments? Post your comments in the comments section, below, or in the DWO Forums thread by clicking on the yellow 'Discuss' bar!

[Source: Doctor Who Missing Episodes Discussion Group]

20 July 2014

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 566: State of Decay, Episode Two

Dear diary,

There’s something in the format of this story which feels very different to usual. The Doctor and Romana making their way around the spaceship as they explore is the kind of thing that would usually make up an Episode One of a story, but here it’s the focal point of this second episode, while they also get their first confrontation with the villains of the piece, and start swapping information with them that feels as though it’s coming too early in the story. That might sound like I’m complaining, but I’m really not - it’s nice to have a story which is a bit different the the norm. Despite having seen this story once before, there’s an awful lot of it that I’ve forgotten, and the fact that Adric still hasn’t encountered the Doctor and Romana since leaving Alzarius surprises me: I thought that they’d have all met up by now.

What’s appealing most to me about this story, though, is the world in which it’s all set. It’s been a little while since Doctor Who has given us a medieval society like this one, and every aspect of it is beautifully realised. Even though K9 has told us that there’s a fair amount of technology in this settlement, it really feels striking and unusual when Ivo takes out a walkie talkie, because we’ve just spent plenty of time being led to believe that our favourite tin dog has been mistaken (we’d forgive him this time - he had his head knocked off last week).

Today is the episode with bits that I most vividly recall from the story - all those shots of the Doctor and Romana while out and about exploring the ship. Scenes of them climbing up and down ladders, and arriving in the nose-cone of the rocket ship. That scene where they arrive above the engines and theres all the bodies around them is seared into my mind - and yet I only realised that once the scene came on and I was able to recite it word for word. There’s something quite magical about all this, and I love that the set designers have managed to make the futuristic parts of the ship look just as lush and beautiful as the more ‘historical’ trappings in places like the throne room.

If The Leisure Hive was a new style for Doctor Who, then this is the team taking it one step further - painting the series as the ‘dark fairy tale’ that Steven Moffat has also used to describe it. Something about this run of stories simply screams ‘autumn evenings’ to me, and while I didn’t especially watch them at that time, these episodes evoke a feeling of coming home from school on a late October afternoon, playing in the garden until nightfall, and then settling in to watch an episode of Doctor Who just like this one. It’s scary - not in the way that the Doctor being torn apart a few weeks ago was, or Romana having a spider leap on her face, but simply through the way that it feels - the sheer atmosphere of the thing.

I think it’s this, perhaps more than the story itself, that I’m really connecting with at the moment. A wonderful sense of nostalgia that warms me inside. This is Doctor Who tailored to be something I’d enjoy, and I’m thoroughly loving everything about it. While the graham Williams era dabbled with dropping the Doctor and Romana into a fairy tale, with The Ribos Operation or - more obviously - The Androids of Tara, something didn’t feel right about it. There it was simply the trappings of a slightly diff adventure series (no matter how much I may have enjoyed the stories themselves).

Here, it feels only right that our heroes should be called ‘lord’ and ‘lady’, and they suit the place perfectly. I’m pleased that Adric has still to join the Doctor and Romana not just because it means they all get their own strands of the story, but because he’s spoil the wonderful dynamic we’ve got going on this week - just before we lose her from the series - Romana has never felt more right by the Doctor’s side. The Doctor and Romana, and more importantly, Tom and Lalla, have never quite fitted the series as well as they do here, steeped in the story, and the feel of the whole piece. Who could ask for more?

19 July 2014

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 565: State of Decay, Episode One

Dear diary,

It’s perhaps not a particularly popular statement, but I’m really rather liking Adric! Over the years, he’s often been described as being (at least, during the creation of the character) a bit of an ‘Artful Dodger’, but I’ve never really gotten that. Now, though, actually properly watching Full Circle and today’s episode, you can see that in full swing. He obviously tries to steal the River Fruits during the last story, and later nicks some equipment for the Doctor, and here he tries to take hold of some food to keep himself going, too. I quite like this side to the character, but I don’t think it’ll stick around for very long, because I can’t remember it happening much come Season Nineteen.

I love that he’s not actually encountered the Doctor and Romana yet, either. His decision to stay aboard the TARDIS at the end of the last story was almost ‘Steven Taylor-esque’ - i.e., you didn’t actually realise he’d done it. You see him in the TARDIS, and obviously thinking about something, but it’s not until today that you realise exactly what he’s done. It’s great that he’s yet to meet his new travelling companions again, and I’m looking really forward to that happening. I also had a good laugh at his bamboozling of K9 in order to get out of the ship!

State of Decay is the only story from the E-Space trilogy which I’d ever seen in full before starting out on this marathon, and it’s usually the story that I’m thinking of when I say that I like this season. It’s also the first real example of this season doing something that I’d probably describe as being ‘lush’, with lots of rich textures and fabrics, and almost a return to the kind of Gothic styling of the Phillip Hinchcliffe era, but given a bit of a 1980s ‘new romantic’ twist. We’ll see similar trappings in the next two stories, as well, but it looks very different here, and makes the whole thing look rather more expensive than usual...

Watching it like this, though, immediately after Full Circle, you start to realise that there’s more links between the stories in this trilogy than simply being set in E-Space. Both feature a marooned space vessel, and technology that the people of this planet don’t quite understand (while the crew of the Star Liner knew how everything worked, more or less, they didn’t know what to do with it). There’s a trio of people who make the decisions and rule over everyone else, and there’s a real sense that things take took much time - whether that be the Deciders not actually, um, deciding, or the rebels here spending time to plan and plot their next move. There’s even a point where someone complains that nothing here has changed for a thousand generations, and it feels even more linked back to the previous tale.

Because I’ve seen this story before, I know what the big twist to the story is, but I’m wondering if that will be enough to make it stand out from the last one? There’s a danger that my enjoyment of Full Circle could end up rubbing off and damaging how well this one fares with me.

18 July 2014

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 564: Full Circle, Episode Four

Dear diary,

Something that I’ve not yet drawn attention to is just how lovely the direction of this story is. It’s Peter Grimwade’s first attempt at directing for the series, and I’m pleased to know that he’ll be cropping up for another three stories over the next few seasons. There’s a certain filmic look to Full Circle that feels very out-of-keeping with the way that Doctor Who is usually shot, but works well to create something very unique to this story. The making of documentary on the DVD seems to present the fact that everyone was very keen on Grimwade, and I think that shows, because he’s really getting the best out of everybody.

I think my favourite shots would have to be the various ones of the Marsh Men entering the ship, as the mist swirls around them. There’s several of these shots that are all effectively the same action, but each one is subtly different enough to not get repetitive. The contrast, when the creatures are rushing to escape the Star Liner, is just as well shot, and I think that’s the image that I’ll be remembering for this story in the future. That’s far from being the only scene in this episode to stand out, though, and I’m captivated by shots of Romana stalking around like a vampire (ironic, perhaps, considering the next story), or the Doctor holding K9’s severed head up to his face in an attempt to scare off the monsters coming for him.

It’s a real example of everything pulling together in a final episode to really work. It’s a shame that Andrew Smith never returned to the series, though, because I’ve really enjoyed his work on this one. I know that he’s come back into the fold to pen a few titles for Big Finish over the last few years, so I think I’ll be seeking them out once I’m done with the marathon, because Full Circle has definitely whet my appetite for more.

Over the last few stories, I’ve been trying to shoehorn in a story arc that leaves the Doctor and Romana a little careless in their adventures of late. Effectively, I’m trying to find the bad in every story’s ending. To begin with, I didn’t really think I’d found one in this tale. The Doctor has given them the way off the planet, set them up to move forward with their lives and give them back the power that they never really knew they’d lost… it all seemed to work out rather well. But then the more I thought about it, the more I realised that, no, that’s not the case at all. There’s a stronger theme developing here than I’d even really realised.

All these stories are ending with the Doctor effectively setting up a new civilisation, and then running away before he even really stops to give it a second thought. In The Leisure Hive, he gets rid of the warmongering Pangol, and then reworks their machines to rejuvenate there race - or at least to give them a bit longer to live, depending on how much work he’d done. Either way, whether the Fomasi ambassador is really to be trusted or not, it’s the ‘birth of a new Argolis’. Then, in Meglos, with their power source (and/or god) gone, the people of Tigella head out from their underground city to reclaim the surface and start fresh (completely fresh, since none of their technology will work any more!)

Then in today’s episode, the Doctor gives them a very brief run down of what everything on the control panel does (which they clearly don’t understand), and then tells them to simply follow the manuals. As the TARDIS departs, they watch the Star Liner head off into the stars… but where do they think they’ll go? They don’t really know what to expect from E-Space, and the people on the ship don’t really know what they’re doing, either. I’d not be surprised if the entire vessel exploded mere moments after the end credits rolled. I’m going to be keeping an even closer eye on this from now on, because it seems to be playing into an idea that’s cropped up a lot in the Eleventh Doctor’s era - the Doctor has simply gotten too ‘big’. He seems to have decided that it’s his place to swan in, sort out some problems then point them in another direction, before heading off somewhere new once he’s bored, and I’m hoping that it will have consequences for him before he regenerates… 

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