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2 June 2013

Doctor Who Online were interviewed on BBC News this morning regarding Matt Smith's departure from Doctor Who.

DWO reporter, Hayden Gribble was asked a series of questions about the recent news that Matt Smith would be leaving the role this Christmas, as well as who could take over the role.

Watch the BBC News Interview with DWO, below:

[Source: Doctor Who Online]

1 June 2013

The BBC has today announced that Matt Smith is to leave Doctor Who after four incredible years on the hit BBC One show.

Matt first stepped into the TARDIS in 2010 and will leave the role at the end of this year after starring in the unmissable 50th Anniversary Special in November and regenerating in the Christmas Special.

During his time as The Doctor, Matt has reached over 30 million unique UK viewers and his incarnation has seen the show go truly global. He was also the first actor to be nominated for a BAFTA in the role.

Matt quickly won over fans to be voted Best Actor by readers of Doctor Who Magazine for the 2010 season. He also received a nod for his first series at the National Television Awards, before winning the Most Popular Male Drama Performance award in 2012.

Matt has played one of the biggest roles in TV with over 77 million fans in the UK, USA and Australia alone!

Matt Smith says:

"Doctor Who has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show. I'm incredibly grateful to all the cast and crew who work tirelessly every day, to realise all the elements of the show and deliver Doctor Who to the audience. Many of them have become good friends and I'm incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the last four years.

Having Steven Moffat as show runner write such varied, funny, mind-bending and brilliant scripts has been one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges of my career. It's been a privilege and a treat to work with Steven, he's a good friend and will continue to shape a brilliant world for the Doctor.

The fans of Doctor Who around the world are unlike any other; they dress up, shout louder, know more about the history of the show (and speculate more about the future of the show) in a way that I've never seen before, your dedication is truly remarkable. Thank you so very much for supporting my incarnation of the Time Lord, number Eleven, who I might add is not done yet, I'm back for the 50th anniversary and the Christmas special!

It's been an honour to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the TARDIS for a spell with 'the ginger, the nose and the impossible one'. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go and Trenzalore calls. Thank you guys. Matt."

Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer, says:

"Every day, on every episode, in every set of rushes, Matt Smith surprised me: the way he'd turn a line, or spin on his heels, or make something funny, or out of nowhere make me cry, I just never knew what was coming next. The Doctor can be clown and hero, often at the same time, and Matt rose to both challenges magnificently.

And even better than that, given the pressures of this extraordinary show, he is one of the nicest and hardest-working people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Whatever we threw at him - sometimes literally - his behaviour was always worthy of the Doctor.

But great actors always know when it's time for the curtain call, so this Christmas prepare for your hearts to break, as we say goodbye to number Eleven. Thank you Matt - bow ties were never cooler.

Of course, this isn't the end of the story, because now the search begins. Somewhere out there right now - all unknowing, just going about their business - is someone who's about to become the Doctor. A life is going to change, and Doctor Who will be born all over again! After 50 years, that's still so exciting!"

Jenna Louise Coleman, adds:

"I could not have imagined coming into the show without Matt as my Doctor, holding my hand, really, quite literally. I totally lucked-out in having a creative, generous, clever, and lovely fella to work alongside day after day.

I feel so privileged to have been part of Matt's reign, to have to been companion to what is and what I think always will be one of our greatest Doctors.

He is so in love with the show, he works tirelessly hard, surprises me every day, always creating and discovering something new about the Doctor. A true gent, a leading man and a very special friend.

I know it will be a very difficult goodbye for me, but I for one can't wait to see where his career takes him next.  And of course with the same welcome I was brought in with, I look forward to welcoming the next Doctor. BUT it's not over till it's over. See ya at the big 5-0!"

Having starred alongside three different companions, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) and most recently Clara Oswald (Jenna Louise Coleman), Matt's Doctor has fought Daleks and Cybermen, as well as Weeping Angels in New York. Regularly heard shouting 'run' and 'Geronimo', through Matt's Doctor fans have been introduced to a new culinary combination - fish fingers and custard!

Matt's spectacular exit is yet to be revealed and will be kept tightly under wraps. He will return to BBC One screens in the unmissable 50th anniversary episode on Saturday 23 November 2013 - TUNE IN!

[Source: BBC Press Office]

1 June 2013
5/10 Day 152: The Underwater Menace, Episode One

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

Day 152: The Underwater Menace, Episode One

Dear diary,

Ah, The Underwater Menace. It’s not got the best reputation in Doctor Who history, has it? In the Doctor Who Magazine ‘Mighty 200’ poll in 2009, it came in at #194, just seven from the bottom of the list. Only The Space Pirates is below it from the 1960s, and The Highlanders came in almost 50 places above it! You’ll forgive me if I tip-toe cautiously into this one…

My concern was pretty short-lived, though - because this first episode is really good! We haven’t had TARDIS crew this story is the largest that we’ve had since Ian and Barbara left in The Chase (yes, yes, we technically had Dodo, Polly, and Ben in The War Machines, but Dodo didn’t do a lot, and the others weren’t abducted until the very end), and there’s a real feel of those early episodes present here.

The first ten minutes of the story feature the Doctor doing some experiments on various rock pools to try and establish where - and when - they’ve landed, while the companions excitedly scramble off to explore. It feels reminiscent of anything from Marco Polo, with Susan’s excitement at finding a giant footprint in the snow, to The Chase, with Vicki and Ian tearing off over the sand dunes like giddy teenagers.

And this foursome are all gelling brilliantly together! Right from the early TARDIS scene, where we hear their thoughts about what they’d like to see next (though I only know it’s their thoughts because I’m sure I’ve read it somewhere - the audio makes it seem like they’re just saying things at random. Prehistoric monsters!). The whole opening, with just the four of them carrying the story is great: it feels like such a long time since we’ve had anything quite like that.

As standard, the introduction of a new companion is used as a chance to reintroduce the series for viewers Who might need a top-up. It’s all done rather in brief here, with the main emphasis being that they can go anywhere and everywhere in the TARDIS, and the Doctor comments ‘that’s the fun!’. Troughton’s Doctor is still winning me over somewhat effortlessly, and he’s as fantastic here as I’ve come to expect. There’s a wonderful moment where he saves a slave girl from a spear and absentmindedly apologises, with a wink to her. It’s such a simple scene, but it really made me smile.

He’s perhaps at his best though, when speaking to Professor Zaroff. The professor’s reputation - much like The Underwater Menace as a whole - isn’t a great one. I fail to see why though, as he’s brilliant here. My favourite moment could be when he muses that he could feed the Doctor to his pet octopus (‘yes?’). I think I’ll be saying that more often when people annoy me. On a related note, does anyone know where I can get a pet octopus? He’s nicely set up in this opening episode as being a great scientist, Who was reported dead about twenty years ago. In reality, he’s relocated himself to this unusual civilisation under the sea - Atlantis.

We also get our first introduction to the fish people, Who are one of the defining images from this story. Now, I’m listening to this episode on audio (with the knowledge of how they look), so I can imagine them swimming around nicely in their farms. There’s a very real chance that it didn’t look that slick on screen. They’re often mocked for their design, and while it’s true that we’ve had better in the series, there’s nothing all that wrong with it, I don’t think.

On the whole, I think I’m just full of praise for this episode. There’s a lot more in my notes that I haven’t even mentioned here (From Polly working out what the date could be based upon the Olympics… Speaking several languages, as Jamie chimes in with Gaelic… The intonation Troughton uses when he describes something as being ‘impossible’, which is almost perfectly copied by Matt Smith when describing Clara in a recent episode… The cliffhanger putting a companion in a kind of danger we’ve not really seen in the show before…), but the gist of it is that I’ve really enjoyed this one.

I think it helps that I’ve come to it from a story that just didn’t click with me. Sometimes simply changing to something different that’s more in tone with what I like in the series is enough to really swing my score around. But now, The Underwater Menace is about to get really fun! We’ve now got two episodes in a row that I can actually watch! With moving pictures and everything! Having come from almost two weeks of solid soundtracks (including one target novel…), actually being able to see moving pictures again fees like something of a miracle…

8/10 
31 May 2013
5/10 Day 151: The Highlanders, Episode Four

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

Day 151: The Highlanders, Episode Four

Dear diary,

Please forgive me. I was weak. The Highlanders wore me down. The thought of having to listen to another 25 minutes of it was honestly too much to bare. I gave in. I cheated. I’ve not actually listened to Episode Four. Well… not properly, anyway.

Y’see, I really couldn’t bare the thought of having to sit through another episode of The Highlanders. I’ve been putting it off all day in the hope that somehow, magically, I’d discover that it was only a three-part story and that I’d have therefore finished it. Unfortunately, as the day wore on, it became increasingly apparent that wasn’t going to happen. Bah. 


Thankfully, I then mentioned it to my good friend Nick Mellish, who sympathised and then commented ‘great novelisation, though…’. That’s when it hit me. There
was a way of finishing this story with as little pain as possible. It just involved the (slightly odd, considering my disdain for it) process of doubling the length of the final episode to just about an hour. I went on a bit of a spending spree on the AudioGo website as I approached the Troughton era, mopping up all the soundtracks that I didn’t yet own. This led to me amassing a number of points on their system, so I traded them in for a download of Anneke Wills reading the Target novelisation of this story.

Yes, yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking. No, I’ve not technically listened to Episode Four of The Highlanders. Know what though? I don’t care! Because listening to the Target version of the last episode, I’ve really enjoyed it! Haha! It took a bit of guesswork to work out where I needed to start listening to the audio (which meant I got to hear the novel’s version of the lovely scene between the Doctor and Polly yesterday), and I ended up settling for listening to the cliffhanger from Episode Three again, before moving into the final stretch.

I’m pleased to report that within about ten minutes, I was fully up to speed. There were even things coming through now that I’d missed in earlier episodes and now made sense. I don’t know if it’s the result of swapping formats, or if it’ Anneke Wills’ spirited delivery of the material (the first time she launches into one of Ben’s lines left me wondering if I should laugh or applaud - but it works!), or if it’s just that Episode Four is the best of the serial, but I was actually enjoying The Highlanders.

I can’t tell you how pleased that makes me. I really don’t like not enjoying episodes. I also really don’t like that it often leaves me with little to say here in the diary, because I’m simply not enthused enough to bother. I think the real seal of approval came once I’d reached the end of the reading, and I genuinely considered skipping right back to the beginning to see if I’d enjoy the whole story more listening to it in this way. Ultimately, I decided that was stretching things a little too far, so opted not to. One day, though…

Surprisingly, for the first two thirds of the episode, there’s still no indication that Jamie is going to be anything other than a one-story character. There’s a moment when the text describes the ‘four fugitives’ inside a barn, referring to the Doctor, Polly, Ben, and Kirsty. A few scenes later, when the action relocated back to The Annabel, Polly and Kirsty are carefully rowing a boat around the ship’s hull to smuggle in weapons for rebellion… and Jamie is described as being asleep inside!

It actually feels a little out-of-place when he jumps off the ship and stows away on the smaller boat, only to emerge a little later as a guide for the TARDIS crew. From there, it seems that he’s just caught up in events, and only ends up going along with them because if he remains behind, he’ll be killed pretty fast (which bodes well for The War Games, which drops him back of here and now, with the redcoats advancing!). I know from later stories in this era that Jamie is a great companion, but for now, he just feels a little tacked-on. A real shame, considering the role he’ll be playing for the next two-and-a-half seasons!

On the whole, The Highlanders hasn’t been a high point of the marathon for me. There were moments when I considered just skipping an episode and hoping that none of you would notice. I’m glad that the Target novelisation has been enough to turn things round for me at the very end, though I’m going to be left with a nagging wonder wether I’d have enjoyed the episode so much by continuing with the soundtrack. On the one hand, you’ve got the Doctor reunited with Ben and Polly, and cooking up a scheme, but on the other… the thought of actually listening to it leaves me cold. And a little bit sick. But - hooray! - it’s over, and with it goes the format of the ‘pure’ historical for a good long time, yet.

It’s been an odd path they’ve travelled down since the start of the series - with stories like Marco Polo and The Aztecs serving as early indications that I’d be enjoying these stories. By the time The Reign of Terror rolled around, though, they’d started to leave me cold. With a few notable exceptions (The Gunfighters, I’m looking at you), I’ve sort of had enough of them as a format. Thankfully, Innes Lloyd felt the same way!

6/10 
30 May 2013
5/10 Day 150: The Highlanders, Episode Three

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

Day 150: The Highlanders, Episode Three

Dear diary,

Let’s get the inevitable out of the way first - no, I’m still just not into The Highlanders. No, I still don’t know why that is. Frankly, I think my brain has decided that it doesn’t like this story, and it’s sticking with it, no matter what. The fourth episode could be a compilation episode of the best bits from The Power of the Daleks, and I think I’d still not much like it.

Where things really are succeeding is in the make-up of our current TARDIS team. Ben and Polly are real sufferers of the missing episode plague (they’ve only got 13 episodes surviving of the 40 they made, and half of those which survive are with Hartnell), so I’m really getting used to hearing them on audio - and loving them! They still feel fresh and new even in their fifth adventure, and I’m still loving how true to their personalities they’re being. If anything - make sure you’re sitting down, I’m about to praise this story! - The Highlanders is progressing them and helping them to evolve.

It had become almost a running joke that stories would involve Polly being asked to put the kettle on, but here she’s really being utilised properly. She’s been really pro-active since the start, looking after Kirsty (even though they did fall out at one point) and trying to make sure she can get her friends back to the safety of the TARDIS. She was responsible for trapping Ffinch in yesterday’s episode, and for tricking him again today (though, has his name changed between episodes?). It’s nice to see her finally being given a chance to do something - she’s really capable when being written well.

And Wills’ bounces so well off Troughton’s Doctor. There’s a lovely scene in this episode - actually, I think it’s the standout of the story for me - where Polly asks the Doctor is he’s got a plan for them to use. ‘No…’ he replies, dryly, with a yawn. ‘Oh, I know you better than that…’ Polly smiles. There’s a pause. It’s a long pause. ‘Well…’ the Doctor concedes. It’s the first time that I’ve actually wanted to properly watch something from The Highlanders, because you can actually hear the pair of them sparking together.

Ben, too, is given some nice stuff to do (I love the way he asks to read the contract that would basically sell him into slavery, and rips it up in front of the solicitor), but he’s taking more of a back seat to Polly, spending this episode stuck aboard the ship. Indeed, aside from the cliffhanger here, this is very much more Polly’s story than it is his.

Or, indeed, Jamie’s! I really thought he’d have more to do by now. I don’t know quite what I was expecting, but… well, he more of a background presence than I’d anticipated. I maintain that were you watching this story knowing that a new companion joins the TARDIS, but not knowing Who, you’d put your money on Kirsty. Heck, I’d even put more money on Perkins (though only because I want to see the Doctor threaten him with ‘illness’ through time and space) than I would Jamie. What an odd, low-key start for the longest-serving male companion!

I’m sorry to say that all of the praise I can heap on our TARDIS crew still isn’t enough to raise the story in my estimations. Still, only one more episode to go, so things still have a chance to turn around. I’m going to try really hard tomorrow. Promise…

3/10 
30 May 2013

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Eddie Robson

RRP: £8.99 (CD) / £7.99 (Download)

Release Date: May 2013

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 30th May 2013

The TARDIS lands in the city of Tromesis on Earth – but it’s a world far from the one that the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe recognize.

The buildings are ruined, the streets deserted. And against the devastation they see a ghostly mirror image of another place – the city as it was before disaster hit.

People vanish here, and huge metal birds attack from the sky.

Can the Doctor find the future, in a place that doesn’t have one?

* * *

In the latest Companion Chronicle from Big Finish, Frazer Hines once again plays both Jamie and The Second Doctor. This is an impersonation he has become famous for and with good reason as it is rather uncanny. At the beginning of the play, it feels more like a full cast audio drama in parts as Hines plays The Second Doctor as if Patrick Troughton is playing directly opposite Jamie. In fact the recent Companion Chronicles that Hines has been a part of seems to be specifically tailored to allow him to do this impression. It is always fun to hear but I wouldn’t like to see the impersonation overshadow the brilliant work he does as Jamie McCrimmon.

Despite some nice input from Wendy Padbury this is very much Hines’ show. He carries not only the narrative duties but the whole story is told from Jamie’s point of view. You feel somewhat sorry for Padbury because as wonderful it is to hear her once again as a younger Zoe, you begin to get the feeling she was called in simply so Hines didn’t get a sore throat playing two main characters and some supporting roles.

The Apocalypse Mirror has, at its heart, a very interesting and rather conceptual idea, but to reveal too much would be to spoil the revelations. This is a particularly idea-driven story and it is a refreshing change to the standard good versus evil-driven plot.

Eddie Robson has written an interesting story which is an excellent showcase for Frazer Hines, but it suffers somewhat from the lack of material for his co-star. Fortunately Hines’ energetic performance makes for an enjoyable listen.

30 May 2013

Manufacturer: WhoSounds Ltd

RRP: £150.00

Release Date: Out Now!

Reviewed by: Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 30th May 2013

The new TARDIS Speaker System by WhoSounds is now available to buy, and DWO have had the pleasure of receiving a review unit.

It's no secret that the speaker has been in the works for a while now, and it is clear from the finished design that a painstaking amount of detail and love has gone into it.

The unit is a scale model of the 11th edition TARDIS, and features a Wireless Bluetooth 2.1 speaker system, complete with remote control, USB charger and AUX cable. Bluetooth v2.0 is supported and is compatible with a wide range of mobile devices including Smartphone's and Tablets using Blackberry, Apple, Android and more.

The magic really begins when you sync your mobile device with the speaker - the TARDIS landing sound plays and the light on top of the TARDIS begins to flash! Sure it may not be a necessary addition, but its little things like this that make the unit stand out and feel like it's more than just a speaker.

The sound quality produced is simply awesome, and to shamelessly use a well-known Doctor Who related reference, it really does sound like it's bigger on the inside. There's a depth of sound and crispness that we can only compare to the top of the range BOSE speaker range - which would cost up to double the price of the TARDIS speaker!

We, rather aptly, tested out the speaker with a selection of songs from the Doctor Who: Series 6 Soundtrack - all of which sounded fantastic. The remote control allows you to play around with the bass, which the unit kicks out impressively. We also tested out one of the Doctor Who audiobooks from Big Finish, which, again sounded fantastically clear.

Picture the setting…it's a Sunday afternoon, you've just brewed yourself a nice cup of tea, and you're sitting in your favourite comfy chair. You get your [insert mobile device here] and hit the play button for your desired audiobook, and sitting patiently in the corner of the room, your TARDIS Speaker System springs into action. If you close your eyes (remembering to hold your hot cup of tea up correctly, first), you actually feel like you are right there - the sound literally brings the audiobook story to you. 

If, like us, all your USB ports are occupied on your computer system, you can charge your mobile device using the speaker itself, thanks to the handy USB port.

The RRP for the product is £150.00, which we think is actually quite good, considering the quality and usability of the unit. We cannot really fault the TARDIS Speaker System. WhoSounds have produced something very special here and it most definitely gets the DWO seal of approval.

(Just don't give it a name…not that we did…honest!)



Check out an official unboxing video of the TARDIS Speaker System below:

You can buy the TARDIS Speaker System from the following outlets:

+  WhoSoundshttp://www.whosounds.com/
+  Amazonhttp://www.amazon.co.uk

<mce:script

30 May 2013

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Jonathan Morris

RRP: £10.99 (CD) / £8.99 (Download)

Release Date: May 2013

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 30th May 2013

On their mission to explore the Mariana Trench at the very bottom of the ocean, the deepest and most inhospitable place on Earth, the crew of the deep sea vehicle Erebus make an unusual and startling discovery.

A battered blue police box.

As the Doctor, Romana and K9 join them on their journey, the submariners soon discover that the TARDIS is not the only unusual find lurking on the sea floor.

Super-intelligent squid, long-lost submarines and their miraculous occupants are only the start of their troubles. The Goblins are coming. And they won't let anyone out alive.

* * *

In sharp contrast to his season opening story, The Auntie Matter, Jonathan Morris takes us into the depths as The Fourth Doctor, Romana and K-9 descend to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

Phantoms of the Deep is a thoroughly creepy play dripping with both atmosphere and tension. At its core this is a base under siege story, which Doctor Who has done many times before. The uniqueness of the location gives the story strong appeal and Morris doesn’t disappoint as he utilises the deep ocean floor and all its weirdness to pepper the play with memorable moments.

The main cast really are excellent here - especially Tom Baker who is his usual witty and mad self, but with that edge of seriousness when events take a dramatically dangerous turn.

Once again Mary Tamm is wonderful as Romana but if I had to pick the real star in this story, it is K-9. Since this season began K-9 has been stuck on the sidelines but now finally gets to do something important. I don’t think enough credit is given to John Leeson as an actor, because even though he may just be voicing a robot dog, it is very difficult to get an audience to invest in a character that could quite easily become cartoonish. Leeson’s performance is a master class in subtly and understatement. He generates real warmth with his portrayal of K-9 and when the robot dog is taken over by a murderous outside intelligence in this story, Leeson’s execution is genuinely unnerving. 

The play is an excellent showcase for the leads but not so much for the supporting characters. Given a four part adventure, there would have been more time for Morris to develop them, but the constraints of a two part story does affect the plot. It is difficult for me to believe one character’s willingness to sacrifice their life, especially when their reason for doing so comes completely out of nowhere.

Having said that, the cast do brilliantly with the material and the strongest of which is Alice Krige as Dr Patricia Sawyer. Her performance is rather understated but within lies an unspoken strength, which, given more time to breathe would have been very interesting to develop.

The other star of Phantoms of the Deep is the superb sound design of Jamie Robertson. One of the greatest additions to recent Big Finish releases, his work on this play’s underwater atmosphere really is a highlight of an already excellent production.

Phantoms of the Deep is a very fine play, and despite some weaknesses in supporting characterisation, the whole product makes for a highly entertaining Fourth Doctor Adventure.

30 May 2013

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Paul Magrs

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: May 2013

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 30th May 2013

The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Tegan, Turlough and Nyssa to the University of Frodsham, close to where the warrior queen Æthelfrid fought a desperate and bloody rearguard action against the savage Danes. Over a thousand years later, in 1983, battle is still being raged, with student activists taking on savage funding cuts… and disrupting a conference about Æthelfrid convened by history professor John Bleak.

Meanwhile, over in the Physics Department, Dr Philippa Stone is working night and day on a top-secret project – but can her theoretical time machine really be the solution to the university's problems?

Present and past are about to collide – and the results, as the TARDIS crew is about to discover, will be far from academic!

* * *

This season of Fifth Doctor adventures has put the companion at centre stage of the story. Last month’s Eldrad Must Die concentrated on Turlough and in The Lady of Mercia we have a very Tegan-centric story.

I must admit that I am not Tegan’s biggest fan. On television I found the character to be rather annoying, but recently in the audio adventures I have warmed to her a lot more. This, I think, is down to the writing which has done the character more justice. Paul Magrs has written a tale which plays both to the character’s strengths and weaknesses. 

The Lady of Mercia is essentially a historical story framed within a science fiction context. The time machine built in the University laboratory is merely a device to propel some of our characters into the main story in the dark ages whilst sending another back to the future. Despite the implausibility (he says reviewing a Doctor Who story) that a university scientist could invent a time machine in 1983, it acts as a neat little device to move the story along. 

Magrs has taken what we know of the Dark Age Queen Æthelfrid and created an intriguing story that adds a few twists to the facts. He plays upon a familiar trope with the classic series’ historical stories where a member of the TARDIS crew ends up impersonating a figure from history. In this case it is central to Tegan’s progression through the story. How she reacts to being cajoled by Æthelfrid into impersonating her daughter to help her keep face with the people of Mercia is great fun.

It is rather touching to see Tegan get so into her role that she starts looking upon Æthelfrid as a mother figure and dangerously adopts the Queen’s battles as her own. Janet Fielding’s performance is fantastic throughout and we see how Tegan’s impatient nature gets her into very serious trouble especially in the climactic scene in York Minster. The scene is one of impending disaster and the main cast do an excellent job of making us feel that it could all go horribly wrong at any second.

The supporting cast is tremendous, the highlight being Rachel Atkins who’s no-nonsense portrayal as Æthelfrid is both witty and incredibly powerful. The other members of the cast do have some fun sub plots to play with, such as student protests and illicit student / lecturer affairs - one of which Turlough is amusedly caught in the middle of. They are lovely moments of comedy in amongst the grand and tense historical drama being played out.

The Lady of Mercia is a very entertaining adventure and a great chapter in this latest trilogy for The Fifth Doctor.

29 May 2013
5/10 Day 149: The Highlanders, Episode Two

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

Day 149: The Highlanders, Episode Two 

Dear diary,

The Highlanders is proving to be one of those awkward stories where I just don’t really have all that much to say having finished each episode. I’ve ended up listening to the latter half of the episode twice, because by the time I came to write about it, I simply couldn’t remember what had actually happened! The answer, seemingly, is ‘not a lot’.

I don’t know what it is about this story that hasn’t appealed to me, but something really isn’t clicking. What I will say is that I’m still loving Troughton’s Doctor, and the way that he feels so different to Hartnell. I commented on it yesterday, and during The Power of the Daleks, too, but it’s worth repeating. I love the way that he bamboozles people into letting him out of the prison, and dressing up as a washer woman is fantastic - and completely bonkers. I have to admit, I can see it wearing a bit thin in the long run, but since I know it does get toned down, I can at least enjoy it now.

Still, as much as I’m enjoying Troughton’s presence in the series, I’m sorry to say I’m going to have to give this one a measly…

Wait, what’s that? Yeah, that is a woefully short entry for today’s episode, isn’t it? Shortest in the history of The 50 Year Diary, in fact. But fear not! I have an ace up my sleeve! It’s time to take a bit of a side-step into unexplored territory…

The Highlanders Episode Two was first broadcast on Christmas Eve 1966 (and can you believe it’s been a year since The Feast of Steven and the middle of The Daleks’ Master Plan? The series has changed so much since then - this really is a programme that’s constantly evolving…), the same day as TV Comic issue #784. This is a particularly important issue of the publication,because it sees the arrival of the Second Doctor in comic strip form.

I’ve always had something of a soft-spot for the world of Doctor Who comics. I tend to count Doctor Who Magazine’s The Flood to be my favourite Who story ever, in any medium (seriously, it’s stunning), and I don’t think it’s hard to argue the virtues of much of that run of Eighth Doctor comics. Recently, I had a good chat with a friend about what we’d each do given a season of Doctor Who to preside over, and I suddenly realised how much all my choices were inspired by Scott Gray’s work on the comic.

And yet, there seems to be something of a stigma attached to the comic medium. People don’t tend to talk about it. When I first waded into Doctor Who fandom about a decade ago, people often talked of the books and the audios - but the comics were the younger sibling, the one no one liked to mention and simply pretended wasn’t there. Even among those Who did accept the sheer brilliance of the comics, any of the stuff from the pre-Doctor Who Magazine era tended to be dismissed as a load of old rubbish.

I always thought it was magical, though! I loved that it presented a kind of Doctor that didn’t really exist on the TV series (‘Die, hideous creature, die!’ etc.), and one Who travelled with his two grandchildren, John and Gillian. It’s an absolute world away from Doctor Who in any other format, and it’s filled with a kind of light-hearted, joyous charm. A sense of sheer, child-like fun. And, let’s be honest, that’s exactly what I need when I’m lagging in the middle of The Highlanders.

To that end, this evening I’ve sat down to read The Extortioner, the first Second Doctor story, and the one which started contemporaneously with this episode. Unfortunately, I’ve been looking at it in a digital format on my computer, rather than in the form of the actual aging comic books (though I did continue to sniff an old Beano book of about the right vintage between parts of the comic, just to give the illusion).

Coming in at just eight pages (two per issue), this strip is never going to be the most in-depth Doctor Who story ever, but it’s fun enough if you just go along with it. The Doctor on display is nothing like either of the two we’ve had so far in the series, but he’s a good enough version of the character, if you can suspend your belief a little further.

There’s also an appearance from the Doctor’s lighter, the laser beam inside of which has apparently saved the day for him at least once before now. It’s interesting to see him using this to cut his way out of a cell, since we’ll be seeing the introduction of the Sonic Screwdriver at the end of next season.

The plot itself - the Doctor arrives outside a volcano. Inside, he finds an evil madman, Who has missiles aimed at a number of planets, and plans to fire them if these planets will not send him all their valuables - can only really be described as ‘comic strip’, but it’s something that I reckon a young me would love to read if I were a fan of the programme on TV. It’s not the best example of the Doctor’s comic adventures (I tend to love the ones where they fight off the Tenth Planet Cybermen with flowers. Very 1960s), but it’s proved an amusing distraction from The Highlanders if nothing else, which I imagine is a role it would have filled back in 1966, too. Having come from six episodes where the Daleks are plotting and gliding around on a planet with mercury swamps to please the eye, this one must have felt like a bit of a comedown…

Oh, and the comic agrees with me that his name is 'Doctor Who', so that's always a plus!

(If I’m rating The Extortioner as a story - and heck, if I rated The Destroyers, then it only seems fair! - then I think I’d be giving it a ‘5/10’. Nothing special, but good enough…)

(If I’m rating The Extortioner as a story - and heck, if I rated The Destroyers, then it only seems fair! - then I think I’d be giving it a ‘5/10’. Nothing special, but good enough…) 
29 May 2013

Celebrate Peter Cushing's centenary with the new issue of Doctor Who Magazine!

"I only saw one episode of Doctor Who on TV, but I felt the character was unnecessarily harsh. I see him as a jolly old fellow – not sour at all!"

To mark the centenary of the legendary PETER CUSHING’s birth, as well as the release on DVD and Blu-ray of Dr Who and the Daleks and Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 AD in which he starred, DWM takes a look at the life of the man who was the big screen Dr Who…

Also in this issue:

THE CYBER-PLANNER
“I thought the coolest thing in the world would be writing Batman, and it absolutely was… until the point that I wrote Doctor Who.” NEIL GAIMAN tells us about writing the recent episode NIGHTMARE IN SILVER!

AND THE WINNER IS…
The votes are in for the 2012 Season Survey and the winners are revealed, including: Favourite Story, Best Director, Best Writer, and what was top of your wish list for the forthcoming 50th anniversary – as well as a chance to vote in our 2013 poll.

COUNTDOWN TO DESTRUCTION!
The TARDIS takes the First Doctor, Vicki and Steven to a doomed alien world where a conflict rages between the survivors of two crashed spaceships, the Drahvins and the Rills in GALAXY 4. This overlooked serial from 1965 is the subject of this issue’s FACT OF FICTION, which reveals new and fascinating facts about the production.

GOOD TIMING
Doctor Who’s top man STEVEN MOFFAT answers questions from DWM readers, including how he times the length of episodes, and how would he feel about an American version of Doctor Who?

NOBLE COMPANION
DWM’s journey through the history of Doctor Who reaches 2008 and the show's thirtieth series in COUNTDOWN TO 50. Donna Noble becomes the Doctor’s travelling companion and together they encounter Sontarans, crazed Ood, Davros and Agatha Christie, and visit ancient Rome, parallel worlds, and the Shadow Proclamation.

YOUTH TODAY!
Chris, Emma, Michael and Will roll back the years when they sit down to watch THE LAZARUS EXPERIMENT from 2007. What will our trusty Time Team make of Professor Lazarus’ quest for eternal youth?

FINAL RECKONING…
The Promethians have won, mankind has been reduced to a state of barbarism and the Doctor and his friends Ian and Barbara are at the mercy of the Tribe of Gum. All hope is lost. Or is it? The Doctor has a plan, but is it already too late? Events reach a staggering climax in the sixth and final instalment of the epic comic strip adventure HUNTERS OF THE BURNING STONE, written by SCOTT GRAY, with pencils by MARTIN GERAGHTY.

IT’S THE END…
Columnist Jac Rayner recalls how she helped her children face the reality of death – both fictional and in reality in this issue’s RELATIVE DIMENSIONS.

THE REASON WE'RE WRITIN'…
The Watcher tackles the thorny subject of Doctor Who mispronunciations in A History of Doctor Who in 100 Objects; presents a Grecian themed challenge to readers with The Six Faces of Delusion; outs another hapless Supporting Artist of the Month; and goes Wild with a list of Top Ten Westerns. All this and more in this issue’s hilarious WOTCHA!

PLUS! All the latest official news, TV and merchandise reviews, previews, ratings analysis, competitions, a prize-winning crossword and much, much more!

+  Doctor Who Magazine Issue #461 is out Thursday 30th May 2013, priced £4.75.

+  Subscribe Worldwide to DWM from just £29.99 via CompareTheDalek!

+  Check Out The DWO Guide to Doctor Who Magazine!

[Source: Doctor Who Magazine]

28 May 2013

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

Day 148: The Highlanders, Episode One

Dear diary,

I’ve been looking forward to this one. It’s always fascinated me that the Second Doctor picks up Jamie in his second-ever story, and then he stays as a companion right to the end of the era. That’s dedication! As the theme music died down and Fraser Hines’ voice introduced the story, it felt perfectly fitting.

And then Jamie’s hardly in this episode! Hah! It’s brilliantly low-key, and there’s no way you’d guess that he’ll be joining the TARDIS before the story is out if you didn’t already know. I do wonder if that means it could feel a little sudden at the end, but I’m hoping that we’ll see his role growing as the episodes go by. What we do hear of him is good so far - it’s unusual to have a companion’s first appearance accompanied by a description of his pointing a gun at the chest of a current crew member!

If anything, it seems more likely that Kirsty would join as a regular: she’s certainly given more to do here than Jamie is. I’m enjoying her pairing with Polly, and the way that the relationship is being played. Polly talking about modern things and Kirsty just not getting it is fantastic, and not something that we often see in the historical stories. I’m particularly keen on Kirsty’s assertion that ‘they don’t make biscuits for dogs!’ (I imagine Polly has a small dog at home. Wonder who’s looking after it?), and Polly catching the confused reaction to ‘fillings’ and simply substituting it for ‘teeth’.

Otherwise, I have to admit that I’m just not all that caught up in events. It’s been a long time since I really found myself swept up by one of the historical episodes, and sadly this one isn’t really doing it for me either. As I always seem to say in these stories, there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not for me. Once again, it’s one of those historical settings that I don’t really know all that much about, but there’s enough information given in the narration and via the Doctor for me to make sense of it, so I at least vaguely know what’s going on. I’m crossing my fingers that things will fall into place for me as the story goes by.

I do need to mention the latest step in my argument that our lead character’s name (at least at this stage of the programme) is ‘Doctor Who’. Here, he introduces himself as ‘Doctor Von Wer’ (which translates from German, roughly, as ‘Doctor Who’), and when one of the soldiers questions him ‘Doctor Who?’ he replies ‘that’s what I said’. Frankly, his name is ‘Doctor Who’. It is! For now, it is!

As a character, I’m still enjoying the Second Doctor, and he’s still very unlike his predecessor. Pretending to be a German Doctor in an attempt to talk people out of killing him is fun, but it’s certainly not something I can imagine William Hartnell doing. The First Doctor would have simply raised his voice, promised the soldier a ‘jolly good smacked bottom’ and gotten indignant if they tried to hang him anyway. We’ve got another mention of the Doctor wanting ‘a hat like that’ (I’m hoping we get at least one in each story, though I know it’s faded away by later in Troughton’s run) and his playful, child-like side is coming out more, too.

Here’s hoping that the second episode will give Jamie more to do, and capture my imagination a bit more…

5/10 
27 May 2013

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

Day 147: The Power of the Daleks, Episode Six

Dear diary,

The thing that bothers me most about the missing episodes is days like today. Much of this episode is very action-packed, with Daleks fighting humans in the corridors of the base, and the Doctor weaving and ducking through it all. Anneke Wills tires her best to capture the frantic energy of it all in the narration, but it just doesn’t translate all that well to the audio medium. I think it’d have the same problem in a recon, too.

It’s a shame, because bits of today’s episode sound pretty epic. The Dalek guns firing, cries and screams and shouts from all directions… I’d be keen to see this one properly. There’s a danger that it may actually look rubbish, and only having it in this form is a blessing in disguise, but I can hope it’s pretty damn great.

I did worry that this episode might be a bit rubbish. Having come through five episodes in which the Daleks scheme and plot and are built up as a real threat, with tension bubbling right to the surface, I was fearful that it would all fall to pieces once they had fully amassed and army and set about trying to conquer the colony. It’s been a while since we’ve had a Dalek story like this, where they’re simply trying to survive rather than invade, and I didn’t want the ending to let it all down.

Thankfully, I don’t think it has. True, I’ve not enjoyed this episode quite as much as I did the previous five, but it’s been far from a bad episode. It just felt a lot more like generic Doctor Who than the rest of the story has. It’s telling that for all the other episodes, I’ve noted down reams and reams of Dalek dialogue to mention when I’m writing my entry, but today I’ve not written a single piece of it. I think from the moment they start chanting about conquering and destroying (at the end of yesterday’s episode), they fall back into just being the generic monsters again.

But that’s ok! I’ve noted down plenty more of Lesterson’s dialogue instead! He really came into his own yesterday once he’d had a breakdown, and that carries right on into this episode. Too. The crowning moment of his character has to be the scene where he tries to distract the Daleks, and he does it by cooing to them, in a mock-Dalek voice ‘I am your servant’, before being exterminated when the Daleks acknowledge that he gave them life. It’s probably the best Dalek moment in the episode, too, as it shows them at their coldest.

Overall, The Power of the Daleks has been a huge success. I did toy with rating today’s episode a bit higher, just so it would nudge it into the top spot, but I couldn’t do it without having to reach a bit. As it is, the story sits joint top of the ratings with The War Machines. Maybe, in the back of my mind, I’l always consider this to be just a bit ahead of that story, though.

It perfectly handles the changeover from Hartnell-to-Troughton, from the first episode largely focusing on the aftermath of that transformation, but it not even being mentioned by the end. I was expecting to have some kind of tacked-on TARDIS scene, in which Ben admitted that actually, this new chap is alright. I’m glad they didn’t do that - it works so much better when we’re left to just accept the Doctor because that’s the way the story has gone.

Troughton really is already filling the role admirably, and any worry I had about leaving Hartnell behind has long since dissipated. It’s not wonder that the first ‘regeneration’ was so successful - Troughton simply is the Doctor. The next four months should be a lot of fun, if this is any indication…

7/10 
26 May 2013

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

Day 146: The Power of the Daleks, Episode Five

Dear diary,

There'a a lovely moment towards the end of this episode where we listen to a good thirty seconds of the Daleks shouting 'exterminate!' over and over, before cutting away to another scene. It's perfectly effective and all (though 'exterminate' doesn't pack the same punch as the other chants we've had in this story), but when we cut back to the Daleks a few minutes later and they're still chanting it, they don't half come across like loonies. One of them then gets a message through to give new orders and there's a moment of it effectively hushing the others. It's quite charming in a way. Completely bonkers, though.

But elsewhere, they're still the best Daleks that we've ever had in the series. They're scheming and manipulative and… so scary in places that that the only reaction is to laugh-out-loud because it's so bizarre. There's a fantastic moment - it might even be my favourite moment in the story so far - when a Dalek is asked why they want to create their own static power, and it replies with a voice growing louder, and ranting, 'With static power, the Daleks will be twice as…!', before realising and catching itself, lowering the tone to a creepy drawn out 'useful'.

These really are Daleks unlike any we've ever seen before. Way back at the beginning, in The Daleks, they were painted as these sneaky creatures, using Susan as a pawn to draw the Thals out of hiding so they can massacre them, and they trick Mavic Chen in Masterplan, but here they're really going at it. There's another scene in this episode where one is laying the power cables around an office, and Lesterson is trying to convince everyone that the Daleks aren't taking orders from him, so the Dalek replies that he's doing what he was told to do, and then calls Lesterson 'master'. If a Dalek could smile wryly, this one would be doing so.

Lesterson himself is fab in this episode, too. The Doctor is somewhat relegated to the background, so we're really given plenty of time for Lesterson to take centre stage. The first half of the episode is based around him trying to convince everyone that the Daleks aren't to be trusted, and he's just hitting stumbling blocks because he was too good at making everyone love them. I think it's fair to say that he'll end up exterminated by the end of the story.

Robert James is turning in a fab performance throughout the whole story, but especially now that he's having to lose his mind. I won't quote them all, but my notes for this episode are filled with snippets of his dialogue - it ranges from cries that the dales are duplicating themselves to a wonderful Frankenstein moment, when he screams 'They forget that I gave them life! Now I've taken it away again!', and it's not long before he's shouting that he's going to 'wipe out the Daleks!'

If anything, this story is making me sad that we didn't get that Dalek spin-off that I tasted back with The Destroyers a couple of weeks ago. Had Nation run the show, but invited Whittaker to penn the odd serial like this, then it could have been fantastic. There's enough going on in this story that I think you could remove the Doctor and his companions, substitute them with SSS agents and it would still be marvellous. Here's hoping that things remain strong for the final part - this could become the highest-rated story so far!

8/10 
25 May 2013

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

Day 145: The Power of the Daleks, Episode Four

Dear diary,

Before starting work on today's episode, I set myself a bit of a challenge. Having rabbited on for the last three diary entries about how great the Daleks have been in this story, and how they're being used so effectively in the cliffhangers, I decided that today would be different. Today, I'd refrain from mentioning the Daleks outside of a brief sentence or two, and concentrate on something else instead.

What I hadn't counted on was that this episode of The Power of the Daleks contains one of the most famous Doctor Who cliffhangers ever. Most fans, when discussing cliffhangers, will have a few that they'll go to as particularly memorable examples - for right or for wrong reasons. Some will call on the end of The Mind Robber Episode One (mostly for Zoe's bum), others will point to the end of The Daleks Episode One, with the plunger menacing Barbara.

Some fans will call on that old favourite from The Dalek Invasion of Earth, or from the end of The Deadly Assassin, Part Three. That one from The Caves of Androzani often gets mentioned, as does the one from Dragonfire, where the Doctor climbs over a rail, down his umbrella and then… oh dear. But somewhere along the line, this cliffhanger tends to crop up. The Dalek production line, with the little plastic toys filling in alongside shots of those handy cardboard cut-outs as the Daleks swell their ranks.

Anneke Wills has said in interviews before now that she sometimes has nightmares about that shot of the Daleks coming down the conveyor belt, and it's not hard to see why. I went back and watched a reconstruction of the scene after I'd heard the audio because, as much as I love the narrated soundtracks, there are some bits of the missing stories that you simply have to experience visually.

The way the shadows fall across the Dalek models as they move along, the lighting really accentuating their shape, as they just keep coming along the production line… the soundtrack spells it out perfectly when it says that the Daleks aren't just reproducing, but mass-producing. It's a chilling scene, and really helps to hammer home the fear that these creatures can instil. I've praised the look of the 1960s Daleks plenty of times in The 50 Year Diary, but it really does feel worth repeating here. Frankly, it's a stunning design, and the ones in this stage of the programme's history are some of my favourites. And look at that! They've got me talking about them again! Terry Nation may have created the Daleks, but for me, it's David Whittaker who gets them best in this era.

So much for not talking about them much today! I can't move from the subject until I mention the way that they act right at the start of this episode, as we make our way out of the cliffhanger. When we finished yesterday's instalment, Lesterson was surrounded by the creatures as they chanted for their power. Having been talked down today, the power is shut off, and the fear that the Daleks cause comes from a totally different place. It's bad enough when they're all shouting in unison, but there's something simply scary about them having to struggle to summon the power for each word.

'Turn… Back… The… Power… Supply…' one of them begs, and it's one of the scariest uses of their voices that we've ever heard. It's fantastic. Having been ordered to back down by Lesterson, the Dalek struggles for a moment before croaking 'We… Are… Your… Servants…' once more. It's so unusual to hear them in this way, and it completely works.

Elsewhere, the story is still chugging along at a nice pace. I have to admit that I'd worried a little at this one - it's the first time we've had a story with more than four episodes since The Daleks' Master Plan (and the first six parter since the Chase, which was ages ago!). I've made my thoughts on the six-part format clear in the past, and on the whole I never think that it works. This is proving me wrong, though! Having spent all this time building up, it looks like everything is in the right place now to really kick off in the final two parts.

We've got the introduction of one of the Second Doctors' catchphrases here (or, at least, one which is considered a catch phrase, though I believe it doesn't last very long) as he comments that he'd like a hat like that. Yesterday we had the first real use of 'When I say run…', so it really does feel like he's establishing himself here. I've enjoyed seeing him spend more time with Ben, though the sailor still isn't really warming to him, is he?

That's not a bad thing - quite the opposite. Ben has been sceptical of all this time and space travel right since the start of The Smugglers, and I like that even after all they've been through, he still isn't quite ready to accept it all yet. I'd worried that by now he's have given in and would just be written as a generic 'companion', but he's holding firm for now. Though, as we stand at the moment, he's now been captured too, so there's a chance that he'll be missing as well as Polly for the next episode. That seems a bit drastic, though, so surely not?

8/10 
24 May 2013

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

Day 144: The Power of the Daleks, Episode Three

Dear diary,

The problem with a story like The Power of the Daleks, when I'm enjoying it so much, is that I never have all that much to write about once it's finished. It all rather falls into the trap of me simply repeating myself over, and over, and over, etc. To that end, I'd like to apologise - today's post may feel a bit like deja vu in places!

They really are playing the Daleks as a slow-burn here, aren't they? I praised the way the reveal was handled back at the end of Episode One, and the way the Dalek finally spoke at the end of Episode Two, and now we're given another great Dalek-based cliffhanger as the other two pepper pots are reactivated and surround Lesterson, chanting in unison 'we will get our power!'

By the third episode of The Daleks, we were already watching them scheme against the Thals. By this stage in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the Doctor and his friends were beginning to draw up plans to defeat them. Here, we're edging slowly, oh so very slowly, towards the real threat of the Daleks. I keep waiting for it to fall flat. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I can't quite believe that they can draw the tension out any further, but it's being pulled off with a real skill.

It helps that we're being slowly drip-fed more information about what's happening in the colony. Here, we discover that the guest cast aren't all as naive about the Daleks as we've been led to believe, and that there's several games in play at the moment. It adds a new dimension to events, especially since we know that the Daleks will never consent to being one person's private army. I'm becoming more-and-more convinced that this story could end with everyone being killed - were this a season earlier, I'd be sure of it.

Things like this are all helping to keep the interest levels high. There's so much going on, and all the characters are so richly-drawn, that I'm not being given time to be bored by events. We're still moving along with the story of who shot the real Examiner (thug that's been pretty much confirmed, here, and we're at a stalemate), everyone is double-crossing everyone else, and Polly's been kidnapped. I can only assume that Anneke Wills was due a week off, and won't be with us for tomorrow's episode.

That's not altogether a bad thing, though! The time we spend today with just the Doctor and Ben exploring are fantastic, and the chance to hear more of that is one that appeals to me. He's almost - but not quite - accepting that this is the Doctor, now, so that could be interesting to explore if they're given the time to do it in the next episode. I mentioned back during The War Machines that Polly had always felt like the more present of the 'Ben and Polly' companionship, but that feels less true now that I'm hearing it all properly. Ben is quickly becoming another one of my favourite companions, and it's gratifying to hear him working as well with Troughton as he did with Hartnell.

While on the subject; three episodes in and I'm not doubting this new man as the Doctor at all. It does help, of course, that I know he's the Doctor, and how long he'll stick around, and how often he'll return to the role, but in terms of following the overall story of Doctor Who in order, I'm completely sold. All that stuff during the end of The Tenth Planet and the first episode of this story that made the changeover scary, and something that you wouldn't want to trust has pretty much melted away now, and we're simply left with a new Doctor.

Someone commented to me yesterday that Troughton in his earliest stories plays a Doctor slightly different to the one he plays for much of his tenure, but I have to confess that from where I'm positioned right now, I simply can't tell. He's playing his recorder much more, certainly, but otherwise he just feels right as the Doctor. I've not had cause to question him yet.

As the episode ended, my phone flashed up to warn me that there was only 10% battery remaining, and I listened right to the end of the theme music in the hope that the battery might die and I could make a wonderful (or woeful, take your pick) 'I will get my power!' joke to end today's entry, but it's still clinging on, so I guess I'll have to go without. Bah.

24 May 2013

Gaming is a subject we regularly get a lot of enquiries about from our visitors, and as we haven't covered the area for a while, we thought we would refresh you with some of the Doctor Who and Science Fiction related games available online.

A good place to begin would be the BBC's very own 'Adventure Games' series which offer some fantastic gameplay with state-of-the-art graphics, bringing Doctor Who into a whole new gaming arena.

If you're a fan of the Doctor Who: Monster Invasion Magazine and Card Game, roll on over to their website, where you will find a selection of FREE Doctor Who games including; 'Dalek Supremacy', 'Vortex Run' and 'Escape The Silence'.

For the MMO fans among you, you will love the Doctor Who: Worlds In Time game which catapults you into the many worlds of Doctor Who: http://www.doctorwhowit.com.

Our friends over at The Doctor Who Site also offer some great Doctor Who related games which they have put together themselves.

A quick search online reveals many other popular TV Series and Movie related games to enjoy. A number of these games are developed by online casino companies that integrate them mainly into their selection of online slots games. Many of them can be found quickly via online casino comparison sites. Top casino websites offer a wide range of Science Fiction themed games which visitors of our site might be interested in too. You can check out the fantastic selection of games on their online casino which include TV and Film favourites such as: Star Trek, Superman, The Incredible Hulk, Captain Scarlet and Transformers.

Check out action and adventure with superheroes and reality TV with X-Factor and its ilk; games shows from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire on down; mingling with the oil-grubbing rich in Dallas; and just the flat-out weirdness of Japan-based Banzai. All in all, these games are a must-play for online casino players doubling as TV aficionados.

If you know of any other great Doctor Who related online games, leave your suggestions in the comments section below!

[Source: Doctor Who Online]

23 May 2013

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

Day 143: The Power of the Daleks, Episode Two

Dear diary,

It's always something of a joke among Doctor Who fans that when you've got a story with a title that ends …of the Daleks, then the cliffhanger to episode one will be the shock reveal of… Dun Dun Dun! You've guessed it. Sometimes it works really well, and this story is one of those times. I praised the cliffhanger enough yesterday, even going so far as to call it the best cliffhanger we'd had since the start of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, and now today's episode has gone and topped it!

It's a bold move, still at the tail end of the Dalekmania craze, to make the audience wait this long for some proper Dalek action. We're now 50 minutes into this story, and we've only just heard one of the creatures speak for the very first time (though he repeats himself enough to make up for it). And yet, you know what? It works! If anything, it's making the Daleks here seem like more of a threat, because I'm anticipating a moment when they'll stop playing dead and just massacre the whole bloody colony!

There's a great scene in this episode, where Lesterson is experimenting by hooking up small amounts of power to the Daleks and recording the results. In the middle of one experiment, the Dalek gun goes off and shoots another scientist. It's terrifying! It comes only a few moments after they'd been wondering what the shorter arm might be for, and it comes so out of nowhere that it really did surprise me. There's a real sense of tension to this story that we've just not had with the Daleks before.

So then, when they've finally managed to revive one of the pepper pots properly, it comes along, fixes its eye square on the Doctor, and then announces to the room that it's their servant! I've joked about the repetition above, but it really does work, and it helps to build up the tension. We know what the Daleks are really like, so what's actually going on here!?! We've even been given a handy reminder from the Doctor that a single Dalek is more than enough to wipe out all the life in the colony. It's a clever move to bring the Doctor's greatest enemy back for the first story with a new actor, and it looks like the Dalek's recognition of him may start to swing Ben's opinion a little, but they've never been used in such an odd way before! I love it.

Elsewhere, Troughton is continuing to win my affections with pretty much everything he says and does. We've another scene of him answering questions with a recorder (it's amusing me now, but I'm glad it's not something he'll do for the full three years - it could wear thin very quickly!), and plenty of other humour from him. There's a great moment when he points out that his badge says he's allowed full access, and adds that it doesn't then exclude the laboratory. It's played spot on, and really did raise a smile.

Also brilliant was the reference to China, and the Doctor's vague memory that he'd been there once, and met Marco Polo. There's starting to be more and more of these little nods to the First Doctor throughout this episode, and it feels like they're easing you into accepting this new fellow as the same man. It's interesting to see tis happening as a sideline to the main story, as opposed to getting it out of the way, before going on to do the rest of the plot (Castrovalva, I'm glaring at you…).

Now, it's either going to go one way or another with the Dalek reawoken. There's a real danger of things going off the rails, and leaving us with a standard Dalek runaround. Equally, there's a slim chance that they might be able to sustain the tension built up so far and keep it going for a little longer yet. I'm guessing you can guess which camp I'm firmly hoping for…

8/10 
22 May 2013

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

Day 142: The Power of the Daleks, Episode One

Dear diary,

I've always found that the events immediately following a regeneration are the bits of that event I enjoy the most. I mean, sure, it's fun enough watching the Doctor take his final few steps and head toward the end, but then you get to start fresh and new! It's exciting! At the end of yesterday's entry, with William Hartnell laying on the floor of the TARDIS, as the picture grew brighter and brighter, I was really, truly, sad to watch him go. Ten minutes into this episode, and Hartnell is old news.

I was worried that it would take me a while to get used to having Troughton around. I've always ranked him as my favourite of the 'classic' Doctors, but having spent so long with only William Hartnell in the role (and Matt Smith, when I watch the new episodes, but really it's so far removed from what Doctor Who is doing in the 1960s that it may as well be a whole different programme), I feared that accepting another Doctor would be a problem. A few days ago, I saw a trailer for Seventh Doctor story Battlefield, and it just looked wrong. That wasn't Doctor Who. For a start, where was the Doctor? My Doctor? The original?

Troughton really does hit the ground running here, doesn't he? With the benefit of watching it 40-something years on, I know that he's one of the best, and that he'll do three seasons and a number of return appearances. I know how good he can be… but there doesn't even seem to be a period of settling in. From the second he sits up in the TARDIS, he simply is the Doctor. Everything he says, everything he does, he's the Doctor. And that's fantastic! Especially in light of the fact that they really aren't trying to reassure you with any of this, are they?

I said yesterday how surprised I was that they were playing the changeover in the Doctors as something to be frightened of, and making it as un-cosy for the kids watching at home as they possibly could. This is carried on completely here into this story, with the Doctor acting more than simply odd… he's really bloody sinister! There's a moment when he mutters out loud to himself 'It's over! It's over!' and he gives a little laugh. That laugh is one of the creepiest things we've ever heard in the programme! It's also a nice counterpoint to Hartnell's line in yesterday's episode ('It's far from being all over!'), which helps to tie it all together a bit.

We get the shot of the Doctor holding the mirror, and the appearance of the First Doctor's face showing up (which thankfully exists among the tele snaps for this episode), but aside from that we're really given very few things to latch onto. This strange little man continues to refer to 'the Doctor' in the third person - even after Ben snaps at him about it - and simply refuses to answer questions, choosing to play on his recorder instead. There's a lengthy scene set inside some guest quarters on the base, in which the Doctor responds to his companions by blowing a few times into the instrument, and it's brilliant. He's very funny, while still remaining very creepy.

I'm also pleased to see that Ben and Polly's characters are still being drawn so clearly as we move into the Second Doctor's era. Polly is far quicker to accept that they're faced with the same man, whereas Ben is still sceptical at the end of the instalment. I'm hoping that it gradually dies away as the story goes on, rather than just disappearing now that we're out of the 'first' new Doctor episode. It's nice to hear the Doctor disregarding Ben, too, as though it's not worth interacting with him until he'll accept that it's still the Doctor in there, somewhere.

The whole episode has been a brilliantly enjoyable experience, and I'm so pleased that I've moved so seamlessly into this new phase of the programme. I was dreading the thought of just not taking to a new Doctor, so it's lovely to find that it's not the case. It helps that the episode itself is a very good one, too. There's a risk that all the stuff outside in the mercury swamp could become a bit tedious, as the new Doctor unwittingly dodges obstacles, but it all feels fresh and different. You just can't imagine Hartnell doing that scene. It's strange that it should feel so far removed from the programme I've been watching since January, but introducing Troughton really does make a difference. It probably helps that I'm listening to this on audio, and while I've the tele snaps of the swamp to guide me, I can imagine it as I like. It's orange in my head, since you ask. Always has been, since the very first time I saw that image of the Doctor walking along, reading from his diary.

And then there's the final scene, as the Doctor and his companions make their way inside the capsule and come face-to-face with the Daleks. It's helped by Anneke Wills' narration on the soundtrack, as she described Polly and Ben deftly sneaking along behind the Doctor, who doesn't even turn round as he utters the first line to be spoken in minutes - 'Polly… Ben… Come in and meet the Daleks…'

The tele snaps for this sequence makes it look gorgeous, too, with the cobwebs hung between the dead (?!) Daleks and the real sense of gloom that fills the scene. There's a great shot of Troughton close up as he inspects one, and it simply looks beautiful. Then we've got the realisetion that we're missing one of the creatures, and a real look at a Dalek mutant for the first time. I think, if I'm being totally honest, this might be the best Dalek-related cliffhanger since the lone creature rising from the waters of the Thames a full two seasons ago.

A great start - even better than I could have ever hoped for!

9/10 
21 May 2013

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

Day 141: The Tenth Planet, Episode Four

Dear diary,

Of all the Doctor Who episodes missing from the BBC's archive, The Tenth Planet Episode Four probably has the most mythical status. It's the one in which William Hartnell changes into Patrick Troughton, of course, but it's also one of those odd ones where we can't very easily trace when the tape went missing. There's no definitive record of its destruction, just the fact that it stopped being around after a certain point.

As I've said, I've never watched The Tenth Planet, so I've never known how justified the status of this episode was. It has to be said that - regeneration aside - there's not a lot in here to make it really stand out from any other episode of the programme around this time. It's quite good, don't get me wrong, but there's nothing all that amazing about it until the final few minutes.

I've always been aware of the resolution to the story - that Mondas ultimately absorbs too much of Earth's power and blows itself up. That's really not the important thing about the story, though. This is often talked about as the very first 'Base Under Siege' tale (something that will be cropping up a lot more in the next four months of this blog!), and that really is the best way to describe it. The appearance of Mondas in the skies, the absorption of power, the Cybermen landing globally, all of that takes second place to the crew of the Snowcap base, and watching them fight off wave after wave of attackers.

It's nice that the Z-Bomb which has been so important since around Episode Two is used as a vital part of keeping our Mondasian friends at bay in this final episode, and I'm sure that the sight of a Cyberman creasing up in pain as he enters the radiation room would have been fantastic. The tele snaps unfortunately miss the shot of his demise (though we do get a great close up of the creature's face), but everything around it looks great.

I really have been won over to the design of the Cybermen throughout this tale, and the shots of them that we do have hear continue to make them look fantastic. There's the one moment when a Cyberman on the radio from Geneva seems to be singing all his lines, but I think I can just about overlook that. Finally, I understand why everyone is always so full of praise for them! On the one had, I'm now quite sorry that they only appear in this one story, but on the other, it gives them a certain charm. They're what William Hartnell's Cybermen looked like.

Now obviously, the thing that gets the most attention in this episode is always going to be the transformation between the First and Second Doctors. I've seen the actual change hundreds of times over the years, but this is the first time that I've ever watched the events leading up to it. The whole thing is played as being very sinister - the Doctor's cryptic mumbling is especially unnerving. 'It's all over,' he slurs, 'that's what you said. But it isn't. It's far from being all over!'. It really is an odd sequence, and no attempt is made to have this as a comforting change over between the two actors. The entire thing is played as a new kind of threat, and worthy of a cliffhanger because it's scary, not simply because it's what we'd now call a 'regeneration'.

I'm really pleased that the change is filtered in right from the start of this story, with the Doctor commenting early on that his body seems to be wearing a bit thin. It makes it all the more rewarding when you know what's coming, and saves it from just being something bolted on to the end of the story. I'll be offering up more general thoughts about William Hartnell's tenure in my 'overview' post (which you should find just above this one in the Doctor Who Online news feed), but I'll say here that I genuinely am sorry to see him go.

7/10 
21 May 2013

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

Day 141 Extra: The First Doctor Overview

Dear diary,

Well this feels strange. Posting two diary entries in one day. Am I not all written-out, yet? Those of you who've already read today's regular blog entry (which should be immediately below this post on the DWO news page) will have already seen me reach the end of the William Hartnell era of Doctor Who. I figured that it was fitting, at the end of this first stage, to take a look over the first 141 days of the marathon as a whole, and collate some of my thoughts, before I dust myself down tomorrow, and venture into the Troughton era.

In the sidebar to the right of this entry, you should see an image, with a little 'enlarge' button underneath it. If you click on there, you'll be able to properly ready a list of average scores for the First Doctor stories, listed from the lowest ranking (The Space Museum, in case you hadn't picked up on my natural lack of affinity for it) through to the highest (The War Machines, a fact which surprised even me, frankly).

Do note that on the list, I've omitted Farewell, Great Macedon and The Destroyers, because it wasn't ever actually broadcast, and I've lumped both The Destroyers and (controversially) Mission to the Unknown together as being part of a Dalek spin-off, so I've not counted either of those, either.

During the blog posts for the first season, I used to work out the story average and post it during the final episode of each tale. I stopped doing that from Planet of Giants, mostly because I didn't want to know. I liked the idea of reaching this stage, and seeing how the era rates as a whole. What surprises me is how much some stories I thought I'd really hated have actually averaged out with fairly respectable scores.

I think what's surprised me most is the way that the averages per season have worked out. At the time, it felt like Season Two was a real slog, and that I just didn't enjoy it. As it happens, though, it's come out with an average score of 6.4. That still places it in the last place of the first three seasons (I'm discounting Season Four, since we're only a few episodes in), but it's only barely behind Season One (6.5) and not all that far behind Season Three (6.8). When you throw The Smugglers and The Tenth Planet into the mix, the First Doctor's era averages out at a very respectable 6.5 - placing it smack-bang between 'Above Average' and 'Well Above Average' on the ratings chart I posted way back on Day Four.

Right from the start, the main thing that I wanted out of this marathon was a real connection to the classic series. Over the last ten years, I've found that while I really enjoy the early Doctors, I've never been able to develop any kind of meaningful relationship with either them or the companions of the era. The way I explained it to a friend recently is that when Catherine Tate returned to the series in Partners in Crime, and then remained with it for another twelve consecutive episodes, shown one a week, I built up a proper connection the the character.

When Donna leaves at the end of Journey's End, it's emotional because I'd grown to love the character over the course of that season. I really cared for her, and once she was gone, that was it. I'd seen all of her episodes. The classic series, though, possibly sue to the way that the DVD have been released over the years, has always felt a bit more… interchangeable for me. I know that Sarah Jane Smith joins in The Time Warrior and leaves in The Hand of Fear, and I can pick up any one of her adventures from between those two. But equally, I can watch Death to the Daleks, and then head off to watch Time and the Rani or something.

I wanted to see if watching the series at a set pace - a single episode each day - would help me to form the kind of connection to the old characters that I do with the current ones. Thankfully, the answer is that yes, it does.

It's not always in ways that I've expected, either. From dipping in and out of stories, I'd always regarded Ian and Barbara really highly. I thought the pair were fantastic, and rated them quite highly in my list of favourite companions. When it came to actually spending the time with them from their first episode to their last… I was sick of them! By the time The Chase rolled around, they couldn't leave quickly enough. Conversely, Steven Taylor - a companion I'd never really given much thought to - left before I wanted him to! I'd happily have had a few more episodes with him.

Perhaps the biggest success, though, has been William Hartnell as the Doctor. I'd seen enough of his era in the past to know that I liked the First Doctor, and that I enjoyed his era of stories. He was just one of the 'old' Doctors, though. I could dip in and out and mix his stories with any number of others. There wasn't time to form any kind of attachment. Having now spent 141 days with him, though, I don't really want him to go.

There's been a bit of a back-and-forth going on in my head this last week or so, as I alternate between excitement for Troughton's arrival (I've always thought of him as my favourite classic Doctor), and sadness for the departure of Hartnell. I think now, having reached the moment of the changeover, I'm back in the excited camp. The thing is, I never expected to find myself this attached to the First Doctor, and I'm thrilled, because I feel like I've gotten more from his era by experiencing it in this way.

On the whole, Doctor Who's first three seasons seem to be the most inventive, and wide-reaching ever produced. The budgets are tight, the studios are cramped, every episode tries to do something that they're just not quite capable of… but they pull it off. It's been a pleasure to watch through, and I've never thought higher of this era.

Now, though, it's time to pull out a recorder, don a large hat, and move forward into the Troughton era. I'm excited, for this stage of the blog, to see if he comes out as my favourite still, when I'm watching him in order like this. I don't doubt that it's going to be tricky - with this many missing episodes to wade through - but if it gives me anything like the appreciation for the era that the last 141 days have for Hartnell… I'm in for a real treat.

Now, though, it's time to pull out a recorder, don a large hat, and move forward into the Troughton era. I'm excited, for this stage of the blog, to see if he comes out as my favourite still, when I'm watching him in order like this. I don't doubt that it's going to be tricky - with this many missing episodes to wade through - but if it gives me anything like the appreciation for the era that the last 141 days have for Hartnell… I'm in for a real treat. 
20 May 2013

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

Day 140: The Tenth Planet, Episode Three

Dear diary,

Regular readers will know that it’s not just 1960s Doctor Who that I’ve got an interest in, but television from that period in general. Anything from the resumption of broadcasts after the Second World War up to about the end of the 60s is the era of television that takes up the most space on my DVD shelves. Either side of the pond will do me: I’m just as happy to sit down in front of an episode of I Love Lucy or The Honeymooners as I am anything made on these shores.

But the best thing about British TV in this era – for a Doctor Who fan, at least – is spotting those actors that you know from the TARDIS turning up in other things. The Avengers is great for this. Nicholas Courtney turns up in the episode Propellant 23, broadcast just over a year before the start of Doctor Who. While the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan were busy convincing the Thals to take a stand and invade the Dalek city, current companion Anneke Wills was playing the part of Jane Wentworth, dressed as a pussy cat, in the episode Dressed to Kill.

Just a few episodes later and, oh look, it’s Barry Letts’ turn to take a role in the programme. We’ll be hearing more about Letts cropping up in this diary a few months from now. Letts’ Doctor, Jon Pertwee, turns up in the programme in 1967, and the final season in 1969 contains an episode starring both Roger Delgado and Kate O’Mara. It’s a Rani and Master team-up, 16 years early! Even Peter Cushing stars in the episode Return of the Cybernauts! In some parallel world, that’s the title of a Doctor Who episode starring Cushing as human inventor Dr. Who, after his series of movies transferred to TV.

It’s not just Doctor Who actors that turn up in the programme, of course, and it’s just as great when the likes of John Le Mesurier or Penelope Keith are a part of the cast, but there’s a special kind of thrill in seeing these actors you know so well from the world of Doctor Who appearing in something else, usually long before they arrive in our favourite sci-fi show.

Occasionally, as I’ve been watching through this marathon, I’ve taken a bit of a detour in my own time, to watch other programmes from the same week. I’ve dipped in to all-sorts as I’ve gone along, but I don’t tend to mention them here on the blog because, well, you’re here on Doctor Who Online to read about Doctor Who. You’re probably not all that interested in my thoughts on an episode of Coronation Street from mid-1964.

Today, though, I’ve got to mention my detour. A couple of nights ago, having finished up my entry for The Tenth Planet, Episode One, I sat and watched an episode of Adam Adamant Lives! broadcast 8th October 1966 (the Thursday between Tenth Planet One and Two). It’s important because in a small role at the start of the episode, we’ve got TV character actor Patrick Troughton. It’s interesting to see him here, so close to taking on the part of the Doctor. The filming dates aren’t as close together as the broadcast ones are (the episode, D For Destruction, was filmed early September, so about six weeks or so before work began for him on Who), but I think I’m right in saying that this will have been one of the last things broadcast starring him before the regeneration occurred.

I’ve been holding off on watching this episode for a while, now, because I was keen to see it in context of my Doctor Who marathon, and I was hoping I’d have a lot of interesting stuff to say about his performance, and the way it ties in with his time in the TARDIS. As it is, though, he only appears for the first five minutes or so, before disappearing from the rest of the story (though a main character for the remainder is played by Ian Cuthbertson, another alumni of The Avengers, and who will be turning up in Doctor Who about a year from now in my marathon for a role in The Ribos Operation).

The other problem comes from the fact that, having spent the last five months making my way through the First Doctor era of the programme, trying to pin-point the way Troughton plays the part seems impossible! I’m going to be keeping it in mind, though, and hopefully I’ll be able to raise some interesting points about the performances in a few days time, once Troughton has actually taken over.

What was more startling to me, though, watching this episode last night, is how similar Polly Wright is to the character of Georgina Jones in Adam Adamant Lives!. Georgina is the equivalent of the companion in that series, and can only be describes as being ‘fab’. Visually, there’s a striking resemblance between the pair, and she even wears a similar hat in this episode to the one Polly was sporting at the end of The War Machines.

Polly’s first appearance in Doctor Who came just two days after the first episode of Adam Adamant Lives! had appeared on screen back in June – I think it certainly says something about the feel of 1966. Polly and Georgina are both trendy young girls, who find excitement getting caught up in adventure. At this point, Polly (and Ben) are just along for the ride, though they're both growing to enjoy life with the Doctor.

I did wonder what this episode would feel like, being without the Doctor and the first story to really feature the 'Base Under Siege' format, I thought it may end up just being a bit of a runaround, with little actually happening. That's why I've saved my thoughts on the Adam Adamant Lives! episode for today - I figurers there was plenty to talk about for yesterday's episode without chucking all that in.

As it happens, though, there's lots and lots I could talk about from today anyway! I'll skim over much of it quickly, to focus on just one point. So, in brief: The Cybermen look fantastic as they move slowly through the blizzard. The 'massacre' of them by their own weapons is also quite effective. I'm absolutely converted to these Cybermen, now. They're lovely. It's nice to see the first use of a ventilation shaft in the series as a way of transporting a companion from 'A' to 'B', even though it's massive! At one point, Barclay announces that he'd never be able to fit through the ventilation shaft. You'd fit a fully-grown Krynoid down that!

The thing that really strikes me, though, is the addition of General Cutler's son to the story. He was introduced late in yesterday's episode, and to begin with I was a little weary of it. In some ways, it felt like the story was trying to have its cake and eat it - you get the shock of 'Zues IV' being blown up, but then they can carry on with the 'we have to get the spaceship back down to Earth' story, because they've sent another one up. As it happens, though, this part of the story becomes one of the most interesting now. It's not often in Doctor Who, at least at this stage in its life, that we see something like this happen. A justification for the base's commander to be behaving so ruthlessly. Here, though, it adds a whole other layer to the idea, and when Cutler throws Ben over the railings, having found him tampering with the rocket, it's all the more believable, because of his personal stake in the situation. It's really great to see this being added, and I'm hoping that there's more like it to come in the future.

7/10 
20 May 2013
 DWO's Senior Art Editor and Editorial Team Member, Will Brooks has put together a rather nifty infographic explaining River Song's (rather complicated) time line. Click on the image below for a larger version.

DWO's Senior Art Editor and Editorial Team Member, Will Brooks has put together a rather nifty infographic explaining River Song's (rather complicated) time line. Click the image below for a larger version, or click HERE to open a super high-res copy.

 

The character of River Song (played by Alex Kingston) first appeared in the 2008 two-part story Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead, opposite David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. At the time, she was played as a somewhat mysterious character from the Doctor’s own future, with a battered diary styled to resemble the TARDIS. Following her first appearance, there was a great deal of speculation as to just who River Song may be. In his book The Writer’s Tale, then-current showrunner Russell T Davies even commented that;

 

“I’ve read [Silence in the Library], and it has a character in it who I’m just sure is the Doctor’s wife (!!!)...”

 

Since then, River has returned to Doctor Who on several occasions, opposite Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor. She’s faced off Weeping Angels (twice!), Daleks, the Silence, and even gets to take the credit for being ‘the woman who killed the Doctor’. Oh, and they get married, of course. 

 

While River Song’s story has been more closely tied to the most recent few seasons of the programme (and specifically to the Doctors former companions Amy Pond and Rory Williams), we’ve not always encountered her in the same order that she experiences events. 

 

The above timeline tracks her movements through the Doctor’s life, taking in all their adventures from her birth (in 2011’s A Good Man Goes to War) through to her death in the Library (during her very first appearance in the series). It charts all of her televised adventures with the Doctor, plus the 2012 video game story The Eternity Clock, and scenes made exclusively for the Series Six DVD/Blu-Ray release, plus several unseen adventures that River has recorded in her little blue book.

 

River’s timeline in relation to the Doctor’s may not be the most straightforward in the programme’s history, but it’s kept us guessing over and over again. The Name of the Doctor sees her finally being able to let go of the man she loves, but not before she promises him that there’s still a few more ‘spoilers’ to come... 

 

[Sources: DWO; Will Brooks]

19 May 2013

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

Day 139: The Tenth Planet, Episode Two

Dear diary,

When people talk about the Cybermen - and, more specifically, about the designs of the Cybermen - the versions seen here in The Tenth Planet always seem to crop up. They appear quite high on the list of 'favourite designs' among many of my friends who are fans of the show. When this design cropped up on the cover of The Silver Turk (one of the Big Finish Eighth Doctor audios) a few years ago, people were falling over themselves with excitement.

Maybe it's because I'm used to everyone banging on about how great this version is that I've never really been able to see it myself. They look pretty good, I guess, but I've just never had that kind of love that other fans seem to hold for these ones. It's perhaps telling that in my Cardiff flat, the Cyberman action figure I keep on display is one from Earthshock (for some reason, beside a Cybermat from Revenge…), and I've got a version from Tomb in a box here somewhere, too. The Tenth Planet figure is in a box way back home in Norwich. That toy, much like this design of Cyberman, is considered 'one of the best', but again, I've never really got it.

It probably didn't help, then, that while I was watching this episode, I had Ellie with me. She wasn't actually paying all that much attention to Doctor Who - to tell the truth, she was the other side of the flat, doing a puzzle - but she was in the room all the same. I'd banged on while we had dinner about why the episode I was watching tonight was a very important one, but I think she was trying to block out most of it. She wasn't able to ignore it, though, when the first Cyberman began to speak. I won't repeat what was said (this is a well-mannered website!), but suffice to say she wasn't impressed with either the design or the voice.

As I watched on, wondering why people always pointed to these as their favourite Cyber-design, I started to really be swayed by the tone of the voices, and the way that the eyes look actually dead when the Cybermen have their mouths open. I found myself starting to find them quite menacing, and the way that they're shot as the enter the base (the way Hartnell follows their legs as they move along a platform is gorgeous) started to really stoke a chord with me. Just as I was starting to realise all the things people love about them, Ellie piped up again. 'Actually,' she announced, 'they sound better like this. It's more enjoyable to listen to'. Hah! Didn't want to watch Doctor Who, but can't help listening along anyway. I must be doing something right.

By the end of the episode, I was completely sold. The reason people love the Tenth Planet Cybermen so much is that, in the actual episodes, they really are fantastic. I'm really hoping that tomorrow I'll find myself falling even further in love with them, but yeah, suffice to say that they've won me over pretty darn quick.

The first (proper) appearance of the Cybermen isn't the most important thing about today's episode, though. At least not by the standards of this marathon. William Hartnell doesn't appear in tomorrow's edition, because he was too unwell to take part. Episode Four of the story doesn't exist in the archives (save for a few brief clips and - mercifully - the actual regeneration itself), which means that I'll be listening to the narrated soundtrack of that one to round out the story… and the First Doctor's era. That means that today is the last time that I get to see William Hartnell take part in a full episode.

(He'll turn up as a cameo in The Three Doctors later in the year, but this is his last proper appearance for me. I'll discuss more about his time in full after Episode Four, in a special 'First Doctor Overview' post, so I'm not going to be getting all nostalgic for his time here and now. All the same, I couldn't let this moment pass without saying something.)

It's a good job, then, that he gets a pretty good part to sink his teeth into here. The Doctor is on fine form, ordering around members of the base, taking quiet satisfaction when he's proved right and no one has believed him, and giving one of the more famous speeches from his era. 'The emotions! Love! Pride! Hate! Fear! Have you no emotions, sir?' is one of those First Doctor moments that fans just know. It's up there with the whole 'One day, I shall come back' speech, and quite rightly so.

8/10 
18 May 2013

The BBC have released a behind-the-scenes interview with Matt Smith and David Tennant.

The video, which teases some of the fantastic chemistry we can expect between the two of them, can be viewed below:

+  The 50th Anniversary Special airs on Saturday 23rd November on BBC One.

[Source: BBC]

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