Posts Tagged With: fourth doctor

Have I Got Whos For You (February Made Me Shiver Edition)

This week in Whoville, there’s trouble in paradise.

This is from a film, right? They walk around wearing blindfolds for some reason. Is it like that bit in ‘Flesh and Stone’ where Amy has to navigate the Angels? Can someone enlighten me seeing as I can’t be bothered to Google this afternoon?

Elsewhere, it snowed, so obviously.

I was chatting to Christian Cawley on Twitter. “Having just finished PD’s memoirs,” he said, “Davison, Troughton and Pertwee pushing the snow onto Tom Baker might be more apt.”

“There were so many combinations,” I told him. “It was almost the Brigadier and Jo pushing the snow onto an unsuspecting Pertwee. I like the idea of Capaldi being caught out, but the real reason Baker and Pertwee are up there are simply because they’re the only ones who would balance.”

Still, you can’t keep a good Time Lord down. Not when there’s a big game on.

In case you were wondering, most of them are Falcon players. I went for the ones that were already transparent, as I couldn’t be bothered to do any cutting out. I have no idea if this makes any sort of statement on the quality of the game or the people that play it. I don’t even know what I’m looking at. I played an early John Madden game on the Sega Mega Drive but I never really got to grips with it; the whole thing seemed awfully stop-and-start. You will notice the Doctor is the only one not wearing any padding, and there’s a hint of sneering culture wars at play here: my feelings on American Football (or, as they call it, Football) aren’t exactly well-documented, except to say that over here we call it rugby. And we don’t use helmets.

But by the time you read this, of course, the Super Bowl will be a distant memory, because it’s all about Chinese New Year. Only with the Doctor, of course, it never goes to plan.

Gung hay fat choy…

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Adventures with the wife in space

A couple of years back we stopped off in a motorway services en route to a holiday at Butlins. I ordered coffee from Starbucks and, when the barista asked my name, requested ‘The Doctor’ and ‘Sarah Jane’.

To be honest, the absolute best thing to do in Starbucks is give your name as ‘Spartacus’, but I’ve never quite managed to be that brave. A knowing reference to the 70s, missed by the incredulous millennial who was serving me, would have to do. You take what you can get, although if it’s in Starbucks you rarely have change from a tenner. When I got outside Emily looked at the black scribble across the side of her cardboard container and raised an eyebrow.

“It was going to be ‘Romana’,” I admitted. “But I didn’t trust them to spell it properly.”

It’s a recurring theme. Emily is the voice of reason in my often hapless relationship with Doctor Who. What she lacks in experience she more than makes up for in common sense and general knowledge, and on top of this she’s usually right. I have a friend who has had to make a deal with his other half to keep their marriage intact: when they’re watching science fiction she is allowed four cynical remarks per episode “You know what it’s like,” he said to me.

“In our house, it’s the opposite,” I said. “I actively rely on Emily to beat on an episode that I was enjoying. It keeps me grounded. Besides, some of my best gags come from her.”

When I mentioned her in Facebook conversation the other week the question we received was “Which one’s the Doctor and which one’s the companion?”

“I’m the Doctor,” I said. “But she’s Romana. That should tell you all you need to know.”

It should tell you all you need to know, as well.

Anyway, it’s her birthday. Accordingly:

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God is in the detail (10-07)

It’s half term, folks, and by the time you read this I’ll probably be on a beach in Swanage. It may be a perfectly pleasant experience, but more than likely I will be running away from an enormous bubble and insisting that I am not a number, I am a free man. Who can say? This is the price you pay for knowing too much. I pay it willingly, but sometimes things are hard. Oh, so hard.

But I’ve managed to prep a a slightly shortened version of this week’s conspiracy roundup and leave it here for you because THESE THINGS ARE IMPORTANT. So here are the clues and signs we managed to spot in ‘The Pyramid at the End of the World’, and some explanation as to what they might mean. I do not promise an easy ride. But then it was never about that, was it?

Here’s the Doctor outside the pyramid.

There are 16 visible or partially visible rows of bricks in this image. THIS IS NOT AN ACCIDENT. Firstly, 16 is 4 squared – 4 x 4, in other words – and the notion of two fours is something to which we shall return later in this missive. But it’s the Monk’s entry point into the scene that’s really fascinating: the missing bricks it currently occupied are located, if we utilise the coordinates of a typical X / Y axis, at 1:15 and 2:16, referring respectively to ‘The Space Museum’ and ‘The Dominators’.

So what? I hear you ask. Well, consider the alien species the Doctor encounters – the Dominators and the Moroks – and then reflect upon the fact that ‘Dominators and Moroks’ may be rearranged to form ‘INDOORS TO MONKS DRAMA’, and also ‘MONKS AIRMAN ODD TORSO’ – both of which describe key points in the episode – and also ‘MONKS ORDAIN DOORMATS’, which seems to be an apt description of what we know of next week.

But we should also take a moment to reflect upon the pyramid itself. Consider the episode title – itself one of comparatively few Doctor Who episode titles that also contain other titles. Removing ‘The End Of The World’, we’re thus left with ‘The Pyramid At’.

Now consider the alphanumeric values of letters, assuming that A is 1, B is 2 and so on. Removing ‘Pyramid’ from the equation, we have:

T – 20
H – 8
E – 5
A – 1
T – 20

Total: 54

Now, exchange these leftover letters with ones from another pyramid story, and we get:

S – 19
O – 15
F – 6
M – 13
A – 1
R – 18
S – 19

Total: 91

So what? I hear you asking. Subtract 54 from 91 and you get 37. So what? I hear you asking again, while you scrape against the ropes holding you to that chair and see if you can fray them a little (don’t trouble yourself, they’re elvish and they’d restrain an Oliphaunt). Can I just refer you here?

You know, Subway 37? As featured in this Fourth Doctor story? Which, by the way, ALSO STARRED LEELA, WHO GOT A MENTION LAST WEEK?

Phone displays figured quite prominently in this week’s episode, but there’s one in particular that warrants a closer look.

To do this, we have to go back through the earlier episodes.

Those of you who have endured this column for years will remember that Moffat employed a similar stunt in series 9. The trick here is to examine the lines of dialogue that occur at THIS PRECISE MOMENT in each episode of the series up to this point, including (for reasons which will become apparent) ‘The Return of Doctor Mysterio’. Because when you do that, something amazing happens.

“Lucy.”
“Hello.”
“Good old universally compatible incorruptible maps.”
“Mud is one word for it.”
“He’s released. Mercy at last. Beautiful, isn’t it?”
“They’re fixing the lock.”
“Cardinal Angelo? I could do with your help here.”
“I felt it. If you can help us, I consent.”

MIND. BLOWN.

Next we’ll take a look at Douglas’s computer screen, moments before it blurs.

We may break this down like this.

I need say no more.

Finally, let’s look at the numbers on that combination dial.

There are two things going on here. In the first instance, the choice of 3614 as the designated escape code is deliberate, given that it is a reference to Cher’s 1969 commercial failure 3614 Jackson Highway. Given that it was released in the year to which the Doctor and Martha were banished by the Weeping Angels there are at least a couple of references to ‘Blink’, notably in track 4, a cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You’, as well as track 12 on the 2001 bonus edition, ‘Easy To Be Hard’. You know, as in “You can’t kill a stone”. What did you think I meant?

However, we also need to look at the number above it: 4725, referring specifically to galaxy 4725, known as Comae Berenices, which can be rearranged to form ‘See Beacon Crime’, a CLEAR AND DIRECT reference to ‘The Ark In Space’. Note also the presence of two separate ‘4’s, which refers to the closing episode of ‘The Android Invasion’. Which you basically watched last week, only it was called ‘Extremis’ and it had the Pope in it. In other words, THE CURATOR IS SET TO MAKE A RETURN IN SERIES 11.

Finally, note that the third tumbler is in a state of transition – shifting between the 1 and the 2, and thus making a subtle reference to ‘The Tenth Planet’, the story that is set to be referenced in this year’s Cybermen-infested finale. And how many dots can you now see on those two digit markers? Sorry, how many was that? FOUR, did you say?

Anyway: my Yanni CDs are beckoning. I need to be somewhere quiet after all this excitement. Be seeing you.

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Jinx! Jinx again!

I finally got round to seeing Frozen Fever last week. And this was what immediately sprang to mind.

frozen_adipose

(If you’ve seen it, you’ll know why. If you’ve not seen it, I’m not going to explain. But it’s worth investigating, if you like that sort of thing, and can put up with the general…cuteness of the thing, which is something I could rarely say about, say, Pixar.)

Elsewhere, the fallout from the latest how-dare-you-write-this-sexist-rubbish-aren’t-we-supposed-to-be-living-in-the-21st-century-blog-gone-viral-for-all-the-wrong-reasons continues.

romana_headphones

Incidentally, I was reading a Facebook conversation this week about annoying companions. Responses tended to be in the Rose / Martha / Clara / Mel line (you will be pleased to note that I pointed anyone who voted for Bonnie Langford in the direction of Big Finish, because she’s far less irritating in the audio stories). Curiously, one vote was for “Romana II, always peeking over the doctor, almost spell checking the doctor. It’s like the Doctor would put your and she’d be the one to comment *you’re.”

As much as I love Romana, I think this may be the best description of her I’ve ever heard. She’s certainly aloof, and that’s why we love her. “I recommend talking to her like this,” said Gareth.

phones

I’ve often wondered what was Romana’s particular choice of in-flight music during that scene. I’m guessing it was something neo-classical, or perhaps some light opera sung in the original Gallifreyan. I’d peg her as a Vivaldi fan, or perhaps something in the lute line.

Or, I don’t know…

lytton_pear

Well, everyone else was doing it.

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The Nimon, the Witch and the Wardrobe

There’s acting, and then there’s acting. And there are sandwiches, and then there are peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

One of my favourite performances in Doctor Who is that of Peter Barkworth in ‘The Ice Warriors’. He plays Clent, the obstinate leader of the base under siege (I use those words quite deliberately), a man with an agenda, a performance target and a serious problem. Clent’s journey encompasses the usual suspicion and paranoia but, like most surviving supporting characters, he’s sensible enough to listen to those who know what they’re doing before it’s too late. In the story’s conclusion, Clent is finally reconciled with the excommunicated Penley (played to perfection by a bearded Peter Sallis). “You are,” he says, “the most insufferably irritating and infuriating person I’ve ever been privileged to work with. Can’t write a report though, can you?”

It’s a marvellous moment. There’s something joyously reassuring about it. You instinctively like these men and you are glad that they have come through unscathed. It’s a scene in which supporting characters cease to be people who bounce off the Doctor and become people in their own right. It’s understated and beautifully performed. It seems, in a way, an odd scene to rank among one’s personal highlight reel, given that it does not consist of bombastic speeches, dazzling plot twists or epic moments of self-sacrifice. But there it is nonetheless, squarely placed in mine.

‘Understated’ is not, perhaps, a word that one might apply to the character of Soldeed. Doctor Who villains are known for being twisted and a bit mad, but Soldeed is off the scale. It’s partly the eyes – Graham Crowden is a master of the unfocussed stare, taking clear lessons, perhaps, from John Laurie in Dad’s Army. It culminates in a gratuitously tortured mental collapse as Soldeed realises the extent to which he has been duped, before dying in a shower of sparks and the bitterest of cackles. It’s the sort of scene you do at parties. Or maybe that’s just our house.

Soldeed

My feelings on ‘The Horns of Nimon’ are well-documented, at least on this blog. It is – for reasons that will become obvious if you read the thing – one of my favourite stories, precisely because it is so uproariously flamboyant. I have attended hog roasts with less ham. It’s very easy to be critical of this period of Who, coming as it does hot on the heels of some of the best stories in the show’s history, but there is a place for silliness. There’s nothing wrong with having a story that knows its own identity and bears no shame in it, unless that story happens to be ‘Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS’. As far as I’m concerned there’s only one person who’s allowed to hate ‘The Horns of Nimon’, and that’s Anthony Read.

I’ve spent a lot of time these past few days talking about animatronic lions and Michael Aldridge – but when we watched The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe the other week, it was Barbara Kellerman who lit up the screen. I hadn’t seen it in well over twenty years but I had forgotten (no, strike that, I had never even noticed) what a thoroughly melodramatic performance it is. Her temper is as brittle as the ice. There are sentences teased out to snapping point. She does this thing with her wand. And when she gesticulates, it’s with her whole body. It’s as if Kellerman was in a drama workshop demonstrating the principles of over-acting, and her switch got stuck.

Jadis

This isn’t a bad thing. The role demands it, after all, at least it does in this particular rendition, which demands that actors chew up the scenery so that you can’t see the holes. Tilda Swinton is all the more subtle, which suits the mood (and production values) of the film. Kellerman is as subtle as a house brick through an immigrant’s window. She is clearly having tremendous fun – indeed, there are times when, rather like Hugo Weaving in The Matrix, she looks like the only one who’s having any fun. It’s hard to single out a particular scene where she is, perhaps, being even more ridiculous than in the rest of the story – her “How many Nimons?” moment – but if I had to pick one, it would be the moment Edmund arrives in her throne room. “ASLAN?!?” she bellows, in a deep, throaty voice that makes her sound rather like a furious Margaret Thatcher. “HERE??? IS THIS TRUE?!?”

You can see quite a bit of that in the video. It was Joshua who suggested that the White Witch was “A bit like Soldeed”, and I had to agree. So I put them together, and found that of the two, the Witch comes out on top. For the most part she wipes the floor with him. Only in his final scene does Crowden come anywhere near the theatrical pomp of his castle-dwelling, wand-packing rival, but it was fun finding out. There was only one musical choice for this sequence, and it was Prokofiev’s Montagues and Capulets – better known, perhaps, as the theme from The Apprentice – for no reason other than it fit. There is even a loose narrative of sorts, or at least a simulacrum of interaction between them. I do not pretend that it makes any sense at all. But it’s like peanut butter and banana sandwiches. You really don’t think it’s going to work. And yet somehow, it does.

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The Talons of Weng-Jack Chiang: Father Ted Meets Doctor Who

It’s 1995. Channel Four – once subversive and edgy, these days a bloated, shockingly mainstream effigy of its former self – has launched a new sitcom about three Catholic priests living in a shared parochial house on a remote island. One is young and stupid. Another is old and mad (and seemingly in a state of constant intoxication). The titular Ted is middle-aged, secretly ambitious and has the unenviable job of being the straight man to three comic foils (I missed out the housekeeper, but we’ll get to her). Dropping in occasionally are rowing shopkeepers, grumpy bishops, and Graham Norton. It’s a foul-mouthed Last of the Summer Wine, without the scenery.

Fast forward a couple of decades and Father Ted has (at least on this side of the Atlantic) achieved legendary status, but I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that. T-shirts emblazoned with “DRINK! FECK! ARSE!” are all over Ebay. The phrase “Down with this sort of thing” is a surefire way of poking fun at any online argument. And ‘My Lovely Horse’ is the best Eurovision entry that Ireland never had. It’s lovely that the show has endured for so long and become so popular, but it’s hard to express how rebellious it felt back when it was first aired. I loved how it poked fun at the church without ever quite making up its mind about religion and faith (the show, indeed, contains almost as many examples of apparently genuine divine intervention as any mainstream religious novel). I remember the difficulty of trying to explain the small / far away gag to my friends and family, and was gratified to discover some years later that it’s now one of the best-remembered gags in the show. And most of all, I can still remember the unanticipated thrill of that very first episode, not least the moment when I fell off my sofa at the sight of The Spinning Cat.

The great thing about Father Ted was how it combined surrealism with observational comedy. The rumour that Ireland had deliberately toned down the quality of its Eurovision entries in order to avoid the bankruptcy it faced by having to continually hosting the event is explored to great effect in ‘A Song For Europe’. The third series story ‘The Mainland’ pokes fun at fandom, with Richard Wilson gleefully sending himself up and providing, in a way, an early template for Ricky Gervais’ Extras. And I have an old friend who lived next door to an Irish family who, he insisted, were “just like Mrs Doyle. Seriously. You put your head round the door returning a drill and they’re shoving a teacup in your face.”

Lineham and Matthews had already decided to hang up Ted’s cassock for the last time when Dermot Morgan died of a heart attack the very day after he’d filmed the show’s final episode. Said episode included a dance sequence that required multiple retakes and which, according to Tommy Tiernan, might have exacerbated an existing heart condition, but we’ll probably never know. I remember shots of Frank Kelly – who played Jack – on the news, and reflected that it was the first time I’d seen him out of costume. I was struck by his eloquence and gentleness, a world away from the fiery Jack, but the very best actors excel (and frequently revel) in playing complete opposites of themselves.

fatherjack1_3112635b

Kelly himself died just the other week, at the age of 77, eighteen years to the day after Morgan. My capacity for mourning an actor I never met who lived to a decent old age is, I’m afraid, a little limited, and I won’t line the walls with platitudes about his death being a ‘tragedy’, because it isn’t. Simultaneously, Kelly was a much loved and respected man whose CV, I later learned, ran deeper than I realised, extending to a prominent role in Emmerdale, among other things. And it really was time, I realised, that I got that Father Ted / Doctor Who mashup done.

I’ve dabbled with Mrs Doyle before, of course. If you want to completely destroy a children’s animated series, get one of the main characters swearing. But Jack himself seemed the obvious candidate for some sort of redub. It helps that it’s comparatively virgin territory: the YouTube content for Ted / Who juxtapositions is smaller than you’d think, consisting of a couple of title sequences and some stuff that almost works, along with stuff that doesn’t.

The trickiest part of this, ironically, was deciding on which villain to use. Sutekh was a strong possibility. So, too, was Mestor, the giant slug in ‘The Twin Dilemma’, and about the only thing in it worth watching. Omega was favourite for about ten minutes, until I remembered that I’m actually working on something else for him that I plan to do later in the year. In the end, for various dialogue-related reasons (some of which will become entirely transparent if you’ve watched it) Magnus Greel won out. Remove the dialogue from ‘Weng-Chiang’ and the first thing you notice is what a physical performance it is, with heaps of gesticulation. And he delivers practically every line from behind a mask, which makes dubbing that much easier.

This was fiddly, but a joy to put together. It’s cut almost as tight as I can (get in quick, get out quick seems to be the way I do things these days) which means you can fit more in – I didn’t, as my brother observed, use “every single thing he ever said”, but it was a close run thing. The punch line at the very end will probably confuse you unless you know your Ted, but it just about works. Just about. As for me, I shall, when I get the house straight, sit down with a bottle of whiskey and the box set that adorns our shelves, and raise a glass to the most hot-tempered – but eminently quotable – priest the Church has ever seen.

Anyway. Finish on a song, right?

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MY INHIBITION IS IMPAIRED

Today in Brian of Morbius: Autons get broody.

There is trouble afoot on the set of ‘Logopolis’.

And chaos ensues during the Dalek Star Wars marathon.

Happy Monday!

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Christmas, Doctor Who style (part one)

This? Well, I just think it’s a better title.

[Coughs]

It’s late December, which means the usual selection of Doctored Christmas images. I did a little Photoshopping yesterday and came up with this.

Capaldi_ChristmasCarol

I don’t know, there are only so many times you can stick a Santa hat on top of Michelle Gomez, aren’t there? It sort of works, except that the three ‘ghosts’ are all from the Doctor’s past. And while I like the juxtaposition of the Twelfth Doctor with Sarah Jane, the Pirate Captain and the deformed Master, it doesn’t fit the Doctor’s timeline – they were just the most appropriate choices I could think of. So I did this instead, which works a little better.

But I really like that Twelfth Doctor photo. So imagine, if you will, that it’s Christmas 2014, whereupon this makes sense. Pick your favourite.

Coming next time: hybrids…

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The Hagbourne Invasion

A while back I mentioned that ‘The Android Invasion’ was filmed in East Hagbourne, just up the road from here. In something of an exclusive, here are some photos Emily found in a now defunct Facebook group, including one of Tom Baker holding a cat.

Baker 2

Baker 3

Baker

I have no idea who any of these people are, but there’s something curiously satisfying about that second image – and the last one is rather sweet, really. “Although,” says Gareth, “a ‘Tom Baker’ sounds like someone to keep away from cats.”

He adds “If you look for ‘tom baker cat’ on Google Images, you find a lot of pictures of Baker with cats. And also this ‘Dr. Who Neo Traditional cat tattoo’.”

tom-baker-inspired-customer-dr-who-neo-traditional-cat-tattoo-by-chessie-at-pride--glory-tattoo-studio-leigh-on-sea-essex-1

“Neo-traditional…?” we both said. Really, the mind boggles.

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Doctor Who and the Misplaced Consonants (Part Three)

While I put off writing anything that actually has any substance, here are some memes to keep everybody ticking along. The Misplaced Consonants started well and then sort of stopped, so after a six-month hiatus, we’re back with round three. Clicking the category tag for this post will show you the other stuff I’ve done in this thoroughly pointless series.

 

9. The Warm Machines

 

10. Statue of Decay

 

11. The Nice Warriors

 

 

 

12. The Creature from the Spit

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