Posts Tagged With: rose tyler

Have I Got Whos For You (We Sure Picked A Creepy Night For A Drive Edition)

Boring Doctor Who episodes, #47.

It’s Scooby Doo’s birthday. The cowardly canine is a whole half-century (that’s an oxymoron, surely?): five decades of running up along corridors avoiding the portraits with living eyes and hiding behind lampshades and suits of armour, before discovering the larder and constructing geometrically implausible sandwiches. I just finished playing a mobile game called Agent A – one of those episodic adventure / puzzle type things that was actually quite good – and you spend five chapters exploring the villainess’s lair and its surroundings and NOT ONCE DO YOU ENCOUNTER ANYTHING THAT MIGHT REASONABLY PASS FOR A KITCHEN. I mean honestly. I know the woman is stick thin, but surely she must down the odd protein shake? Sushi? Bit of salad?

Perhaps it’s all fine dining and drive-throughs. You’d think it would show on her figure, except Shaggy manages to eat the monthly food allowance for a small Peruvian mountain village and still fit into size 32 trousers, so I guess these things don’t have to make sense.


In the news this week: rumblings in Scottish lakes, or lack thereof.

The Loch Ness Monster is rather like a no-deal Brexit. Everyone has their own idea of what it’ll be like, we’re all probably wrong, views from experts are being largely ignored in favour of populist trash and there’s considerable doubt as to whether the thing will ever actually surface, and so at the moment it’s mostly a marketing opportunity.

It was also Roald Dahl’s birthday yesterday, which led to the usual moaning on Twitter about how he was problematic, owing to some unsanctionable views on the Holocaust, some rather unfortunate stereotyping in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and the fact that when it came to family the guy was a bit of a nob. It’s ironic when you consider that Danny The Champion of the World contains one of the most beautifully rendered portraits of fatherhood I’ve ever encountered. David Walliams, on the other hand, is being touted as ‘the new Roald Dahl’, despite being a much nicer person (at least ostensibly) who possesses only a small portion of Dahl’s talent; I do enjoy The Boy In The Dress but is this really the pinnacle of contemporary children’s writing? Or can we do better? Because I can’t help feeling we can.

Anyway, I’m not getting into whether or not you’re allowed to read Dahl’s books or even celebrate his existence on the grounds of his personal life and political allegiance; if you’ve been around here long enough you’ll know my views on the matter, so I will leave it to grumpy Spectator columnists and millennial hacks writing for trashy, overly Woke online publications to have that particular argument. Instead, you can have a deleted scene from 2005.

And poor little Charlie Bucket was never seen again.

Oh, while we’re on mashups (I can’t believe I actually wrote that; mashups is all we ever do around here), perhaps now’s a good time to put that irritating Reddit meme to bed, albeit with a different image than the one that’s currently doing the rounds.

I leave you with the news that Fireman Sam has been dumped. No, not by Penny (with whom, I suspect, he’s been having a long-standing relationship, complete with fumblings behind the lockers during the evening shift and all sorts of innuendo about hoses and poles), but by Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service, who deem him inappropriately male for their contemporary inclusive image. I suspect that as the epitome of white male privilege (yes, I had a bit of racist abuse at school for my Hebrew ancestry, but nothing to write home about) I should have no views on this whatsover, and thus will refrain from stating one.

Anyway, Sam needs to find a new gig, so accordingly:

“It’s all right, don’t panic! I’m ‘ere!”

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Have I Got Whos For You (Jodie Whittaker Special)

Today’s post is all about the haters. Yes, you. You there, at the back. The people who leave angry emojis on everything Thirteenth Doctor related – not because it’s not funny or because it’s obnoxious or overly cute; just because it’s her. I’ve seen you. You never comment, and you never explain yourself when you’re critiqued. It’s clearly a hang-up about Whittaker (I will accept, at a push, that some of it may be about Chibnall) because this sort of reaction doesn’t appear on any other post. Why do you do it? What’s the point? And don’t give me that bollocks about how you’re repressed, about how criticism of Whittaker has accusations of “SEXIST!” flung in your direction so you have no choice but to hide behind emojis, afraid to say what you think because of the online censors. This isn’t fucking North Korea. Man up.

In any case, here’s a bunch of Whittaker-themed stuff that I’d been stockpiling for an occasion like this. Enjoy it. Except you there, at the back. I know you won’t. Well, you can’t win ’em all.

First and foremost, here’s Jodie Whittaker celebrating Yorkshire Day.

Meet Jodie Whittaker, the other Fifth Beatle.

The Doctor and the Brigadier explore a nice part of the forest.

Memories of chips.

The princess and the frog.

Who wore it best?

Time Lord parents’s evenings.

Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber training isn’t going too well, until the Doctor comes up with a new strategy.

Exploring the corridors of the Tsuranga, the Doctor and her companions stumble upon the worst horror of all.

I think this one more or less speaks for itself.

“Oh great; we’ve got a squatter.”

A YouTube stunt goes horribly wrong over at the Kerblam! warehouse.

And finally, parked up in a forest, the Doctor has an unexpected visitor.

“Never heard of him. But I’m going that way; I can drop you…”

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The Smallerpictures video dump (2019, part three)

Videos. You know the drill by now. And I’ve got a Holby I haven’t watched yet, so what say we dive straight in?


1. Things the Thirteenth Doctor loves (February 2019)

It was Emily who noticed. We were tidying the lounge one Monday morning, the day after ‘The Witchfinders’ (unless you had Amazon, in which case you’d probably already seen it), and talking about Series 11 and the way it was written. And Emily picked up on something about the new Doctor that I’d missed. “She doesn’t have a catchphrase as such,” she said, “but she does tell us about stuff she likes, doesn’t she? ‘Oh, a conspiracy. I love a conspiracy.'”

I looked through the transcripts, and it’s all over the place. I think almost every episode is referenced in the video below – ‘Rosa’ is missing, as is ‘Resolution’ and ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’, although in fairness the Doctor spent half of that one lying on a sofa. But everything else has at least one, and some have several. It’s the sort of thing that’s easy to criticise, if you’re not a fan of Chibnall, although this is somewhat pointless as Moffat did much the same thing with Smith, who had a tendency to say “And then you did that. Why did you do that?”. It became something of a trope, although it’s trickier to actually source the dialogue. I’m of the conviction that Doctor Who does not need catchphrases, and that (Baker aside) the fandom’s attempts at finding them are scrappy at best, but if we must have one these days I’m not sorry that it’s manifested as it has here. I know we’re giggling about it, but at least there’s a bit of variety.

I had a lot of fun making this one. Whatever you think of the writing, Whittaker has a sense of fun about her that I hope comes across. There is something particularly endearing about the way she bellows “APPLE BOBBING!”. Oh, and in reference to number 7, it was explained to me (via a YouTube comment) that the they’re talking about Hamilton, the Broadway musical dedicated to the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, which opened a couple of years ago and which, according to the Doctor, is destined to have more revivals than Cher’s musical career. You learn something new every day, don’t you?


2. The Bohemian Rhapsody edit (March 2019)

Quantum of Solace is a big pile of shit, isn’t it? Well, perhaps that’s a little harsh. It’s better than View To A Kill, at least, although I confess I’ve undergone tooth extractions which were less arduous than having to watch that one. But Solace – which has an interesting premise – is completely massacred by Marc Foster’s fondness for jump cuts. There are sometimes two or three a second, usually in the action sequences (the boat chase springs to mind), pummelling the viewer with shots of flying fists and the chains and the fizz of surf, as Bond and some random guy whose name I can never be bothered to remember duke it out in an exotic locale that we can’t even see anyway because the bloody camera won’t stay still. It is impossible to follow. I have no idea what’s going on and I refuse to put this down to old age: it’s just incomprehensible garbage.

Compare this to the fight scene in Atomic Blonde. You know, the one in the stairwell? Or John Woo’s 2 minutes, 42 seconds in the frenetic final act of Hard Boiled. Or, if we’re thinking about 007, the beautiful, single tracking shot that opens Spectre, where Bond wanders in and out of hotel rooms and across roofs as the dizzying spectacle that is the Day of the Dead unfolds below him. That, film students, is how you open a blockbuster. It’s all studio trickery, of course – so is Atomic Blonde, come to that – but it doesn’t matter: the only real difference between the two of them is that Atomic Blonde has an outstanding fight sequence couched in a generally wonderful movie, whereas Spectre is graced with a mesmerising opening and then it’s downhill all the way.

Anyway, I thought we were done with frantic jump cuts, until I heard about Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s a film I got to see quite recently and, as a word of reassurance, most of it’s fairly straight-laced, perhaps too much so. There is a press conference which mines every cliche in the book and there is a dramatic climax outside, at night, in the rain. Because obviously. On the plus side, the band look and sound the part (even if certain songs are dropped in earlier or later than they should have been) and the Live Aid set is so well done you can forgive the liberties they take with history. Besides, it’s kind of hard to concentrate on the anachronisms given that you spend about fifty per cent of the running time staring at cats.

Still. There’s one scene. You remember. It’s the one at the pub. The one that has more edits than the ITV version of Robocop. There are 52 in all, making the average shot around 1.57 seconds long (someone else’s homework, not mine). I’m told there are reasons for this; that narrative shifts after the scene was shot meant it no longer made sense and they had to go back and re-sequence it, but that doesn’t stop it inducing migraines. The film was Oscar-nominated for best editing; go figure. Interesting times at the Academy.

How to translate this into Doctor Who? It had to be something dialogue heavy, something featuring a number of people who could form different focus points, something where everyone stayed roughly stationary to keep the continuity fluid, and something I knew reasonably well. This one was an obvious choice: it is my favourite scene in an otherwise patchy episode and I do find it rather sweet, so I thought it might be fun to chop it up a little. The results speak for themselves, and not necessarily in a good way.


3. Doctor Who and the Vow of Silence (November 2018)

Yeah, I dunno. Thirteen years since ‘Rose’, and the Doctor still doesn’t have a clue.



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Have I Got Whos For You (New Year’s Edition)

Happy New Year folks! Meet David Tennant, the reluctant gardener.

Elsewhere in Whoville, one of Jackie Tyler’s leftover Christmas cracker jokes goes awry.

And finally, here’s the Twelfth Doctor’s confession.

Well, I’m glad we’ve cleared that one up.

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No, I’ve met cat people

It was a Wednesday, and I was giving Edward a bath, when Emily popped her head round the door and announced she was going to work.

“What time will you be back?” I asked.

“No idea,” she said. “I’ll probably get drawn into something.”

So I have drawn her into this picture of the Tenth Doctor. I rock.


In our ongoing Nu Who marathon, we passed ‘Fear Her’ months ago, and the Tenth Doctor has long since regenerated. Indeed, the Eleventh is currently into his ‘new lease of life after Amy and Rory phase’, cavorting around the rings of Akhaten with Clara. (I seem to be the only one who actually likes this episode, or at least I thought I was until a recent reappraisal saw its other fans emerging from the woodwork, like the slaves at the end of Spartacus.) What’s annoying is that he has yet to shed a single tear over any of the deaths, or any of the departures. I know I didn’t either, but it’s hardly the point.

That doesn’t stop Daniel having an appreciation for Classic Who, of course, judging by the scene he played out with the Character Creations set last week: not content with building a wall and casting Peter Davison’s incarnation in the role of Donald Trump, I came in the other day to find the Sixth and the First Doctors emerging in what looked an awful lot like cosplay.

I only wish I could find the Seventh Doctor. Can somebody (hello Gareth) come up with an amusing, series-related suggestion?

Also this week: Daniel told us he had a dream where the Eleventh Doctor was having an adventure with Rose, “only she had an emoji face and she threw Captain Jack from the roof of a building”.

It took me all morning to find the right building, but eventually –


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A new body, at last

It’s Easter / Resurrection Sunday, so it seems the perfect time to mention this.



You’re probably aware that I’ve spent much of the last year writing for Kasterborous, the Doctor Who news and features site. For a variety of reasons, the original team from Kasterborous have departed to set up this new venture, leaving Kasterborous itself to an uncertain fate that’s in the hands of its owner. As we go to press all of the old content seems to still be there, although I have no idea how long this will last.

But enough of that. The Doctor Who Companion has set out to be your guide through the crazy world of the Time Lords and the TARDIS, bringing you news, features, reviews and a bunch of other stuff. Oh, and did I mention that I’m joint editor for the Fandom section? That’s where we’ll be looking at “the strange alchemy that occurs when a talented artist, author, cosplayer, theorist, musician or sock puppeteer expresses their love for Doctor Who” – art, video, music, sculpture, and even TARDIS-themed crazy paving if we can find any.

There are two ways you can show your support:

  • Visit / bookmark / follow the site itself (to follow, click ‘The Doctor Who Companion’ at the bottom of any article, just above the comments, and then hit the ‘follow’ button)
  • Like our fledgling Facebook page.

We will, at some point, have a Twitter account, I’m sure.

We’re still in the very early days of producing and adding content, although I am really quite proud of the inaugural article I wrote about Rose – which aired eleven years ago yesterday evening, and if that doesn’t make at least some of you feel at least a little bit old, then you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din. It’s purposely chatty, but I think it reads better for it. The vibe I was aiming for was that press conference in Iron Man – you know, the one where he sits down to chat about the future of his industry, and declares he wants a cheeseburger? (I do not have a cheeseburger in the house, but as I write this the kebab shop is still open, so we could go and get Shawarma or something.)

We’re still responding to feedback about layout, setup and other things, so bear with us in this initial setting-up period, but I think it’s going to be quite special.

And look at the ears.


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The Mother’s Day of the Doctor

Mothering Sunday, Doctor Who style.



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Here we stand, exposing ourselves

Addendum, mid-March: EMI, the money-grabbing bastards, have decided to block this worldwide. I wouldn’t have minded but it was fine when I uploaded the thing. In any case, it can’t be helped, so I’ve included the Viddler link. It should now work.

The first question: Can you, in fact, get enough footage for a six-minute Kraftwerk song from a single episode of Doctor Who?

The answer is yes. Almost.

When I was in my early twenties, at the halfway point of a course I abandoned not long afterwards, I taught a creative writing seminar for the rest of our teacher training group. My friend and I agreed at the time that the best way to teach creative writing in a classroom was to focus your students. If you give them a blank sheet and tell them to write a story, you’ll get a lot of procrastination. But if you tell them to write a story about X, or in Y words, your results will probably be better. We communicated this to the group by means of references to Jerry Springer, Peanuts and Bagpuss.

Some thirteen years later, I still believe that the occasional bout of enforced concentration is good for the soul, and that’s what I had in mind when I put this together. It stemmed from my initial play-through of Trans-Europe Express on a cold January afternoon – its sparse electronic landscape a perfect accompaniment to the wintry scenes I surveyed around me – and the realisation that ‘Showroom Dummies’, with its minimal (but cutting) lyrics, was perfect subject matter for a video about the Autons. And more to the point, no one appeared to have done it yet. Which gave me another chance to land-grab, and that’s great, but why has no one done it? ‘Rose’ is seven years old, and there are nods to the Kraftwerk / Doctor Who connection all over the web if you look, so why did no one think of marrying these two before now? Presumably people have less screen-time and more of a life?

Focussing on one episode made me scour it with a greater intensity than I usually afford these things when I’m doing a montage. You look for the silent glances, the meaningful stares. In the end I think it came off rather well, but I admit I ran out of steam at around the five minute mark, so you get an early fade. Still, you do get to see the Autons dance, after a fashion, so it works.

There is, almost certainly, another version of this video somewhere containing footage from ‘Spearhead From Space’ and possibly even ‘The Pandorica Opens’. But I won’t be making it. I think I’ve had enough of Kraftwerk for a while. I’m off to listen to Jerry Springer instead.

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Eldrad must live

When Rose Tyler left Doctor Who, it was announced with a three-month build-up, a flurry of trumpets, a blitzkrieg of press releases, a cacophony of  strings (scored by Murray Gold) and a bucketful of mournful looks from The Doctor, along with assorted sobbing from Billie Piper. There was a reference to Face/Off as both characters stand on opposite sides of a wall that’s a universe thick. Then there is a scene on a beach (Southerndown, passing for Norway) that makes me retch. Then there is a lot of mourning and anguish and then a period of denial, and then an inexplicable return (with incredible teeth) which basically undermines the pathos of the entire departure.

When Sarah Jane left Doctor Who, thirty years earlier, there was a thirty second monologue and then the Doctor drops her off in Aberdeen. And that’s it. In the next story (which I’ll explore another day) he’s on his own. Things were simpler in those days and we were allowed to move on, a luxury that is seemingly missing from much of New Who (at least until Moffat’s mini-reboot, which required that we move on quickly from the Davies era but simultaneously memorise absolutely everything that the new chief writer chose to tell us, because even the presence or absence of the Doctor’s jacket was important). These days, we are forced to acknowledge, with an undercurrent of tinkling piano, that these departures are A BIG DEAL FOR THE DOCTOR AND THEY HURT HIM. AND IF HE IS UPSET, WE SHOULD BE. ARE YOU SAD YET? ARE YOU? I SAID ARE YOU?

(I was about to write “For a departure story, especially one that features the loss of such an established character, ‘The Hand of Fear’ is surprisingly low key”. Then I thought better of it, simply because in those days, things generally were. Heavy sigh.)

The BBC re-screened ‘The Hand of Fear’ last spring, in the wake of Elisabeth Sladen’s death. Given that it’s her final Classic Who story (until ‘The Five Doctors’, which doesn’t really count) it was, I suppose, an obvious choice, but it’s a strange and slightly uneven four-part narrative that jumps about from place to place and never quite finds its footing – ‘The Time Warrior’ or ‘Pyramids of Mars’ are better tales (and both are trumped, of course, by ‘Genesis of the Daleks’, but that’s really more about Michael Wisher). ‘The Hand of Fear’ does, however, feature some of the most outlandish Sarah Jane moments in the original canon, which we’ll get to later, so whatever its flaws it’s never less than interesting.

We open with a shot of a paperweight sitting in a Blue Peter volcano.

The arctic base on Kastria (as it is known) is inhabited by a couple of mysterious hooded figures facilitating the execution of treacherous war criminal Eldrad. Eldrad has been blasted into space and his rocket is due to be detonated, but conditions on the planet are getting worse, and the hooded figures are forced to do this before they’re ready. The looks on their faces say it all.

I’m Bobbin. Are you my mother?

There is a risk that a part of Eldrad may survive. You’ll never guess which part.

Cut to Earth, some time later, and the Doctor and Sarah Jane emerging from the TARDIS.

It’s traditional for classic Doctor Who to be set on rocky alien surfaces that happen to look like quarries, but this time – believe it or not – they’ve landed in an actual quarry, as Baker takes great delight in telling Sarah Jane (with more than a slight wink to the audience). The pair haven’t much time to sightsee, however, before they’re caught up in an explosion. The Doctor escapes with minor injuries, but they have to dig poor Sarah out of the rubble. When they recover her, she’s clutching Thing from The Addams Family.

Creepy. Kooky. Altogether ooky.

Unfortunately, possession of the hand has some dastardly side effects, and when Sarah wakes up, she’s turned into Andy Pandy.

Seriously, woman, what the hell are you wearing?

In her autobiography, Sladen notes that the increasingly ridiculous costumes were her way of putting a stamp on the character: Sarah Jane starts out relatively straight, but travelling with the Doctor has made her dress sense almost as erratic as his own. This is known throughout the Whoniverse and fan base in general as ‘The Andy Pandy outfit’, and indeed that’s how one of the scientists refers to her, just after she’s knocked him out and legged it out of the hospital with the hand.

“Back up a minute”, I can hear you saying. “Did you say ‘knocked him out’? Has she let herself get hypnotised again?” To which I’d respond “Well, yes. It’s Sarah Jane. What did you expect?”. I make this the fourteenth, at last count. What’s special about this one, of course (aside from the fact that it’s her last) is the oft-quoted “Eldrad must live”, which became the line Sladen was most frequently asked to repeat over the years. If the internet had been around in those days, it would have become a meme. These days – well, actually, it’s a meme. Presumably there’s a t-shirt somewhere on Ebay.

The hypnotised Sarah’s destination of choice is a local nuclear power station, which she enters with frightening ease, despite her newfound ability to knock people out by raising her hand.

The Abba ‘You Can Dance’ Wii marathon wasn’t going Sarah’s way.

Yes, I know it’s silly, but bear in mind that nearly three decades later the Doctor fixed a nano-virus by raising his hands and waving them around a bit. Recurring themes are important.

The Doctor has been busy in the lab, but sets off in hot pursuit as soon as he finds out about Sarah. Unfortunately he doesn’t get there in time to stop her hiding in the reactor, and he’s forced to try and negotiate over the intercom. This is unsuccessful, because Sarah’s preoccupied with a colour wheel.

Presumably it’s another side effect of the Andy Pandy thing.

While all this is going on, the plant has entered meltdown, and it’s left to Professor Watson – who runs the place – to try and keep order. He chiefly does this by addressing the workers over the PA in the manner of a union boss.

Glyn Houston. He stayed at his post when the trainees ran.

I’ve not yet mentioned any of the story’s guest performers, so now would be a good time. Houston himself is probably the most watchable, taking the mandatory role of human-who-thinks-guns-would-be-a-good-idea, but for all his reliance on nuclear technology he’s rational, measured and brave, assisting the Doctor as much as he can and remaining in the complex even when it’s seemingly about to explode. He is assisted in his endeavours by Miss Jackson (Frances Pidgeon, who’d previously played a handmaiden in ‘The Monster of Peladon’). A romantic relationship is implied, but never really confirmed, and we like it that way.

The other main human of note is Dr Carter, who initially works with the Doctor to find out the secrets of Eldrad’s hand, but who – like Sarah – winds up possessed by it. This gives the writers an excuse to screen what is possibly the most unconvincing fake spanner in living history.

It’s cardboard, I tell you. It’s bloody cardboard.

This, in turn, is followed by a fall from a metal staircase that actually looks more like an acrobatic flip.

News of the local hosepipe ban brought the Olympic diving event to a premature end, but it was too late to inform the first of the competitors.

Despite such setbacks the Doctor manages to get to the reactor, but Sarah isn’t coming out to play.

Ooh, look at that face. It’s a face of pure deviousness.

Suffice to say that Sarah is restored to normal, but not before events are set in motion to also bring back Eldrad. The military men outside take the conventional step of ordering a nuclear strike (which allows Baker the opportunity to swagger on the back of a truck, completely unconcerned about the radiation in one of those “You humans!” moments he did so well). Radiation, of course, is exactly what Eldrad needs to regenerate, although when he appears from his chamber, he’s apparently turned into Mystique.

“That’s remarkable, Mr. Henderson. You died at six o’clock this morning and you’ve changed sex.”

I am loathe, to be honest, to tell you any more. Suffice to say there are a couple of interesting twists, a drastic change in setting, and an innovative use of Baker’s scarf. Oh, and Roy Skelton, who’s always great. Perhaps part of the problem of the story is that you never really feel the world is under threat, because comparatively few of the characters take it seriously – Sladen, for example, is aware it’s her final role and hams it up mercilessly at every opportunity, never more so than when she’s under hypnosis. Baker, meanwhile, is laid-back and good-humoured – “Stop making a fuss, Sarah. You’re from South Croydon” – dashing to and fro round the power station and watching Eldrad melt through the door of the reactor before remarking “This is intensely interesting, don’t you think?”.

But if the finale is somewhat low-key, the resolution is worth waiting for. It all ends well, and the Earth is saved once again, but it’s been too much for Sarah. “I must be mad,” she says, slumped on the floor of the TARDIS as the Doctor – busy with his work – completely ignores her. “I’m sick of being cold and wet, and hypnotised left right and centre. I’m sick of being shot at, savaged by bug-eyed monsters, never knowing if I’m coming or going or been. I want a bath. I want my hair washed. I just want to feel human again.”

Simultaneously the Doctor gets a summons to Gallifrey, and he can’t take Sarah with him, so he has no choice but to return her to London. And Sarah tells us she’s bluffing – she doesn’t really want to go, she says. And at the same time somehow we know she’s had enough. And it’s this ambivalence which makes for the best scene in the story, touching in its brevity and in what it doesn’t say, as much as what it does. There is no tinkling piano, no mournful alto, no close-up of soulful eyes, no rain. There is, instead, a strained, slightly anxious parting in the TARDIS control room. Suitcase in hand, Sarah lingers near the door, knowing she has to face the inevitable, with the Doctor half turned away, and it is at this point that you realise both leads are no longer acting. There is a silence, with neither willing to actually make the jump, until Sladen remarks “Don’t forget me”, to which Baker responds “Oh, Sarah. Don’t you forget me.” And, of course, she never did.

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Last night, Joshua and Thomas and I watched ‘Journey’s End’. I say ‘watched’. The reality is that Thomas got bored and spent half of it doing headstands on the armchair. Joshua was taken aback by the regeneration that wasn’t, and then stomped around in a huff when there was no ‘next time’ trailer, although I think he was probably just upset about poor Donna.

As for me, I sat there bemoaning the melodrama in the last fifteen minutes: there’s an earlier, very telling encounter between the Doctor and Davros in which the Time Lord’s pacifist sensibilities are challenged, even if it is hampered somewhat by Dalek Caan behaving like Johnny the depressed artist from The Fast Show. And there’s the crowd-pleasing moment when Sarah Jane, cornered by Daleks, is saved by none other than Mickey Smith, holding an enormous gun. And then there’s that stupid, stupid scene on the beach. And lots of hugging. And then Tennant redeems himself by a final, wordless scene in the TARDIS when he looks genuinely upset at the departure of the Most Faithful Companion, and you remember that given the space that New Who rarely provides, he can turn in a fine performance.

It’s a missed opportunity, but it did get me thinking again about something I’ve been tinkering with for a while – a collection of those moments which have genuinely lived up to their promise, the moments that single out Doctor Who as first-rate television, the ones that make the clip shows and the award ceremonies. The ones that make you cry, or – in the case of the examples I’m about to provide – the ones that make you want to shout with glee. This is not a definitive list (hint: your comments welcome), nor is it exhaustive (there are plenty in Classic Who, and one of these days I’ll get to them). But here, in no particular order, are my top seven Doctor Who moments that make you go “Yes!”.

1. The Tenth Doctor saves the day         (‘The Idiot’s Lantern’, series 2)

“Goodnight children…everywhere.”

Once upon a time, in the days before space-bound spitfires and silly dolls, Mark Gatiss wrote decent episodes of Doctor Who. This is the second (his first was ’The Unquiet Dead’, which I love), and the cracks are already beginning to show – there’s a lot of self-righteous cockney blustering and some absolutely excruciating dialogue between Rose and the Doctor at the beginning of the story. But in its favour, ‘The Idiot’s Lantern’ has Maureen Lipman, as well as sensitive support from Rory Jennings and Sam Cox, and one of the most exciting finales to any of the New Who stories. As the Wire gets on with sucking off the faces of the entire TV-watching population (the phrase ‘glued to the screen’ seldom seemed so apt), Tennant ascends the side of a transmitter in an attempt to wipe out the signal. There are obvious parallels with the ending of ‘Logopolis’ here, and that may have been the reason why, for the first time since 1987, I genuinely feared for the safety of the Doctor. You know it’ll all end well, and of course it does, but it’s a bumpy ride, and all the more satisfying when he inevitably triumphs – by capturing her on a Betamax cassette.


2. The thing you never put in a trap        (‘The Time of Angels’, series 5)

“River, hug Amy. I’m busy.”

The Angels have everyone surrounded. There are tons of them. They’re vicious killers, which is new. They also appear on video. Basically things don’t look good. The creative decision to have them speak was controversial but, unlike the other change Moffat made in these episodes, it worked – it did, if nothing else, help us to understand their malevolence. But they’ve made a mistake by trapping the Doctor, because there’s one thing you never put in a trap, and that’s him. This is the first cliffhanger episode and as such it’s the first time we see Smith’s Doctor well and truly cornered, so it’s nice to see him respond in this way. So good, even a dancing Graham Norton can’t spoil it.

3. The Doctor saves Caecillius         (‘The Fires of Pompeii’, series 4)

“I can never go back. I can’t. I just can’t.”

Doctor Who’s always been a bit awkward about predestination. Hartnell bleated that “You can’t change history – not one line” and it’s long since been the show’s ethos: basically everything the Doctor does is pre-ordained. Hence things happen in history because he’s there to stop them, not because he pops in to change them, and it’s the wisdom of being able to tell the difference between pre-ordained action and meddling that makes him the tedious demi-God that has he thus become in recent years. (It’s a quality that his companions – being human – singularly lack, which is why the Doctor presumably calls them ‘stupid apes’.) But in this instance, Donna is right: Pompeii happened, and it’s clear from this that it was supposed to happen, but there’s nothing in the history books about a mysterious stranger saving a random family because no one would have believed it. This makes the Doctor’s rescue – bathed in white light, beckoning Caecillius and his wife and children into it as if lifting them from the depths of hell – all the more plausible, and the moment when he changes his mind and goes back for them is really very satisfying indeed. Seldom has the sound of the TARDIS’ materialisation been quite so welcome.

4. The Doctor defies the Daleks         (‘Bad Wolf’, series 1)

“Rose? I’m coming to get you.”

There are cliffhangers and there are cliffhangers. And then there’s this: a companion-in-peril moment that you expect to end in a look of abject horror, with a wide-eyed stare and a cry of “DOCTOR!”. Instead, Eccleston shows how, for all the arm-folding and grinning, he really was quite good at times: a Time Lord outmanned and outgunned and with no possible way he can win, but who is determined to go down fighting. The end result is goosebump-inducing. Accompanied by some of Murray Gold’s best music, the Doctor refuses to allow them the satisfaction of an easy surrender – and when he tells Rose’s captives the he’s going to rescue the girl, save the Earth and then, just for good measure, “wipe every last stinking Dalek out of the sky”, they believe him. And, crucially, so do we.

5. Rory grows a spine         (‘A Good Man Goes To War’, series 6)

“What happened to him? His voice finally break?”

A lot of people despise this episode. I think it’s a highlight of the sixth series, eclipsed in sheer brilliance only by ‘The God Complex’. The saga of the Doctor’s attempt to rescue Amy is muddled and confusing and refuses to explain why its supporting characters are there (only that they owe a debt to the Doctor, which Moffat’s no doubt going to come back to later), and there are ephemeral references to bow ties and the most ridiculously contrived (and thoroughly anticlimactic) ending you could imagine. But before any of that, there’s this: a stomping opening scene in which a captive Amy reassures her infant daughter that she’ll always be safe (Oh, Amy, if only you knew), because her father’s on his way. And Rory – wearing his gladiator costume for no really good reason, but let’s ignore that – stomps onto the bridge of a Cybermen warship, properly angry for perhaps the first time ever, and asks for the location of his wife. Never mind the ethics of the Doctor blowing up an entire fleet simply because he can – this is mind-numbingly good stuff.

6. “Everybody Lives”         (‘The Doctor Dances’, series 1)

“My leg’s grown back! When I come to the hospital, I had one leg!”
“Well, there is a war on. Is it possible you miscounted?”

The first Moffat Who story is a curious beast. It’s Jekyll / Hyde in nature, with a frightening, turbulent first half that features a strange, zombie-like child who can manipulate the telephone lines, and one of the most startling transformation scenes in the entire canon. And then, in part two, Moffat goes into zany screwball comedy mode. There’s an amusing denouement to the cliffhanger, when the Doctor frightens off the infected mob by telling them to go to their room, only to quip “I’m really glad that worked. Those would have been terrible last words”. Then there are jokes about ears, bananas and the Doctor’s weapon of choice (“Who looks at a screwdriver and says ‘Ooh, this could be a little more sonic’?”). There’s a kind of infectious joy about it, despite all the end-of-the-world palaver, and it all comes to a head in this closing scene, which sees the Doctor save the day by thrashing his arms around in a display of literal handwavium, but the zero body count for the story is rare and refreshing, and even if much of the dialogue is corny, the sentiment is heartfelt and appropriate. “Just this once, Rose,” cries the Doctor triumphantly, “Everybody lives!” – and it’s hard not to cheer along with him.

7. The Doctor and Amy go exploring         (‘The Eleventh Hour’)

“Amy Pond, the girl who waited. You’ve waited long enough.”

Yes, yes. I know everyone loves the fish custard scene, and that bit on the rooftop (“Hello. I’m the Doctor. Basically…run”). But my own air-punching moment came right at the end of this episode. It had been a dazzling tour-de-force from Smith, who spent an hour running around being manic and silly, in the days when Moffat’s scripts had him mostly doing that instead of acting sad and world-weary (which Smith also does very well, it’s just it’s less interesting to watch). So scrub to 2:44 and watch from there, because it’s the moment when you realise that even though he lets other things get in the way, Moffat still understands who he’s writing about and what the show represents. And when the Doctor announces, drily but with a wide-eyed gleam that he is, indeed, a madman with a box, I knew that Smith had nailed the part, and that I would love him. And I still do.

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