Posts Tagged With: second doctor

Elementary

Apparently the new Sherlock episode – the Victorian-set Christmas special – will be titled ‘The Abominable Bride’.

Presumably this means that Steven Moffat is planning a 2016 story entitled ‘The Runaway Snowmen’.

Anyway, here’s my suggested artwork. You’re welcome.

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Doctor Who: an overview (part one)

If you were reading this the other day, you’ll recall me talking about the talk I gave to the church group.

What follows is the script I was using. I mostly stuck to it, with the odd add-lib. I make no apologies for the simplification of certain concepts, or the general lack of detail, because it was all done with a particular audience in mind. I think they enjoyed it; I certainly enjoyed doing it.

The thing is so long I have opted to split it up a bit – so here’s part one, which, while not exactly finishing on a cliffhanger, does stop in the middle…

Part two is available here.

Talk_01

He walks in shadow. He arrives swathed in mystery and leaves without a backward glance. He topples empires, overthrows tyrants and helps the lost and helpless. He’s nattered with Nero, supped with Shakespeare and played chess with Churchill. He is, to use his own terminology, a mad man with a box. He is the Doctor. And he’s been a part of my life, in one way or another, for over thirty years. And this afternoon, I’m going to be telling you all about him.

Now, I’m aware that you’ve probably all got different levels of familiarity. I suspect some of you probably watched the show years ago, and perhaps you got bored and went on to something else. Perhaps you’re familiar with the old days but you have no idea about any of the new Doctors. Perhaps you watch everything you can, rather like me. Or perhaps you’ve never seen the show before and don’t have a clue what it’s about, beyond something about a police box and a thing called a Dalek that looks like a gigantic pepper pot. In any event, whether you’re a diehard fan or whether you think Davros is a Greek dancer on Britain’s Got Talent, I hope you’ll find something of interest today.

But I don’t want to turn this into a forty-five minute chat about the history of Doctor Who, even though I could easily talk about it for twice that length, because it’d bore you silly. Instead this is going to be something of a whistlestop tour through the show, from its 1963 beginnings all the way up to the present. We’ll talk a bit about the Doctor himself and some of the foes he’s faced – on and off-screen. Some of this is probably going to be familiar to at least some of you – some of it’s going to be new. There’s quite a lot of talking from me, but you’ll get to see the Doctor in action as well.

Talk_02

So come with me on a journey into the past – as we go back. Way back…to 1963. Harold Macmillan is in Downing Street, the first Bond film has just been released, and the Beatles are about to take over the entire world. And the new Head of Drama at the BBC, a man called Sydney Newman, has commissioned a new children’s show about a bunch of time travellers who flit around the universe, meeting important historical figures and generally getting into scrapes. The main characters were to be a dashing young couple, a teenage girl who was good at finding trouble, and an enigmatic middle-aged scientist with a mysterious past. (Is any of this sounding familiar?)

Talk_03

The Doctor was never even intended to be the central character – that’s something that changed as time went on – but the creative team wanted someone with gravitas, so they cast William Hartnell, famous for The Army Game. (My dad says there was only ever one Doctor, and William Hartnell was it.) Hartnell was getting tired of typecasting and he jumped at the chance to play something completely different. But if you go back and watch those old episodes again, what strikes you is how unpleasant the First Doctor is. He’s untrustworthy, crochety and mean. (Perhaps that’s why my Dad likes him. Sorry, that was a joke.)

Here’s where we meet him for the first time.

That was the very first episode, which went out on 23rd November 1963 – the day after….what?

Talk_05

It’s said that everyone can remember where they were when they heard that Kennedy had been shot. Doctor Who went largely unnoticed, because everyone was watching the news. It didn’t make much of an impact at first, and in many ways that didn’t come as a surprise to the BBC. Doctor Who is about a man who is and always will be an outsider. It was co-created by a Canadian, its first director was an Indian and the first producer, Verity Lambert, was a young woman in a world dominated by men. And none of them were expected to actually succeed. However, a few weeks later, the show was facing an early cancellation. And then this happened.

Talk_07

I think you all know what that was, don’t you? And thanks to the Daleks, Doctor Who hit the big time, as the Doctor met Marco Polo, smugglers, and giant flies. But William Hartnell was getting ill and couldn’t keep up with the constant filming pressures – twenty-four episodes a year – so it was decided to replace him with a younger actor.

Talk_08

And in 1966, this happened. After battling the Cybermen, the Doctor collapsed in the TARDIS, and changed into a younger man. Now, in production terms this was a masterstroke. A show that can change its lead actor at any point can go on forever. Every new Doctor’s built on what’s come before while bringing something of themselves to the part. About the only thing that hasn’t changed is the TARDIS – and that, by the way, is only because it’s supposed to be camouflaged, blending in with wherever it happens to be, only it got stuck. (The funny thing is that camouflage changes. A police box was a common occurrence in 1963, but you don’t see them anymore. When my family and I were driving through Shropshire one afternoon, Josh pointed out of the window at a public phone box and shouted “Hey, look! A red TARDIS!”

Talk_09

The other thing to mention at this point is that regeneration is a bit like giving birth. They used to tell you to do it lying down, but these days there are all sorts of positions. Compare this from 1974 with this from 2008. The Third Doctor’s lying down, but when we watched the Eleventh Doctor turn into the Twelfth, my mother asked why the Doctor was standing up, and I told her it was like medical advice; they keep changing it.

Talk_10

 

So. The Second Doctor was younger, sprightlier, sillier, but still ran around the universe, generally saving the day. But eventually Patrick Troughton left the TARDIS and went on to do other things, and in 1970 Doctor Who switched to colour. Things were a bit different – the Doctor was now stuck on Earth, exiled by the Time Lords, and he worked with a military organisation called UNIT, led by Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart. Eventually the exile was lifted, and Jon Pertwee was replaced by Tom Baker, who is probably the best known of all the Doctors, certainly the most visually iconic – as you will see from the way I’m dressed. Apart from that it was business as usual – Daleks and robots and things coming out of the swamp. Now I wanted to show you something that really summed up the way Doctor Who was in the 1970s, and here it is.

(I made that last year, just for the fun of it. I knew it would come in handy eventually.)

Talk_12

The show had never been more popular, but all good things come to an end, and in the 1980s there was a gradual downward spiral. Stories got sillier, there were some questionable performances, the show lost its Saturday evening slot so nobody watched it, and eventually the new BBC controller had had enough. In 1985 it was suspended, and then it came back, and then it was finally cancelled. Now, it’s fair to say that it wasn’t the best of times, but there were still great moments, like this one.

Talk_14

Doctor Who was languishing, alone, for years. The fans kept it going, but there was no sign of it on TV. There was an old joke that went “How many Doctor Who fans does it take to change a light bulb? None at all, they just complain and hope it’ll come back on.” Until 1996, when the BBC brought it back with a full-length movie, starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor.

Talk_15

There’s only one problem with the movie, and that’s that it was rubbish. It was made by people who didn’t understand the show, for people who had never seen the show, and it was once again binned. But not for long! Because some years later, the BBC decided to bring it back, only this time they did it properly. The new Doctor Who was completely updated: it looked fresh, and modern, but it was still the show we knew and loved. Still, this was aimed at winning a new audience, and for many children – including at least one of mine – this was their very first glimpse of the Doctor.

It’s new, but it’s instantly recognisable. The dummies that Rose was running from are the Autons, whom the Third Doctor fought many years ago, and which many parents and grandparents would have remembered. They were trying to win over children, but broadly speaking this was definitely geared towards the family.

Talk_17

Since then the show’s gone from strength to strength, through four and a half new Doctors (it’s a long story, don’t ask) and all manner of strange new creatures and enemies. But the central idea is still the same: the Doctor and whichever companion he happens to be with turns up in the TARDIS in the middle of a problem, and then solves the problem, just before moving on to the next one. He’s met Charles Dickens and Vincent van Gogh, he’s seen the end of the world and travelled to the end of the universe. Doctor Who turned fifty just a couple of years back, and the Doctor doesn’t show any signs of slowing down just yet.

But it’s funny how we place so much faith in such a mysterious character. It’s there in the title – Doctor Who? So let’s have a quick look at exactly what we do (and don’t) know about the Doctor.

Talk_18

Talk_19

What is it about the Doctor that makes him so fascinating? Well, he’s famously non-violent (although if you look at the show, this really isn’t the case at all). He’ll give his enemies a chance to surrender and change their ways. He doesn’t suffer fools and he has no respect for empty authority, but he’ll preach about forgiveness. And he overcomes death, and routinely sacrifices himself in order to save humanity. If any of this is sounding a bit familiar, there are lots of arguments about religious interpretations of Doctor Who, although this is something the programme’s creators have always denied. “No,” they said. “We didn’t mean that at all.”

Um. Is it just me…?

The other thing about the Doctor is that he very rarely travels alone; he’ll usually have at least one or two companions along for the ride. And here are just a few of them.

Talk_21

You will note that most of them are women, and most of them are pretty. I will not deny that this is to give the dads something to look at on a Saturday evening. I will not deny that I am one of those dads.

Please don’t tell my wife.

 

Click here for part two.

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The Fool on the Hill

I’m guessing that there wasn’t a single person who took my April 1st post seriously. Over on Facebook several people were taken in, including a music teacher, which I count as a personal triumph. Actually a couple of people think it might even be a good idea, which proves that many a true word may be spoken in jest. I simply need to get a Joseph coat from somewhere, and then we can do stuff like this:

Time for the Dr

And this:

E-Space

Certainly Doctor Who has had its fair share of April Fool gags in the past. Back in 2003, before the new series had been greenlit, a friend of mine convinced her partner that Doctor Who was shortly to return with Caroline Quentin stepping into the TARDIS. (I still maintain that could work, although Tamsin Grieg might be better.) A glance over at Doctor Who TV has found a selection of stories, including one that I actually did myself last year, in a different format (and with no knowledge of theirs). Meanwhile, Kasterborous linked to, among others, a story suggesting a return for RTD, and it says something for my current views on Who that I actually live in hope that this could still happen.

Gareth, meanwhile, sent me a link to this thread on the Big Finish forums.

Very_Exciting

“Some people,” he remarked, “really don’t get how to do it, do they?”

“I know,” I said. “The mind boggles.”

“Aww,” he said. “I’m now picturing that as a Second Doctor story, with ‘boggles’ being a noun – like ‘The Brain Weasels’.  I wonder what a Boggle is in this sense.”

A quick internet search reveals various Dungeons and Dragons links – an alternative spelling of a creature also known as the Bogle. Anyway, if it’s a Second Doctor story, it might look a bit like this.

Happy Easter, however you spend it.

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Pun-tastic

There’s a lovely bit in Asterix and the Soothsayer where Getafix the druid, standing over his cauldron, turns to the titular Gaul and says “You know we never stoop to wordplay, Asterix…”. The gag that follows is typically groan-worthy, but the real joke, of course, is that stooping to wordplay is pretty much all they ever did in Asterix, when the Romans weren’t getting beaten up. Puns are abundant, from character names to chief Vitalstatistix’s assertion that “It’s our moral duty to return that child to its parents”, causing Asterix to remark “Yes, it’s a question of morale”.

Anyway, I was thinking about all this when reflecting upon the fact that here at Brian of Morbius, wordplay is pretty much all we do – well, that and scathing reviews, outlandish conspiracy theories and the occasional video. I make no apologies for being good at bad jokes. Nine times out of ten, the key in getting a bad joke across without having to contend with groans and grimaces (or, worst of all, complete silence) is knowing when to tell it. I’m never going to be Stewart Lee, but many’s the time I’ve managed to get a chuckle where none is really deserved simply by picking my moments. And the memes help. Why bother telling a joke yourself when you can get Photoshop to do it for you?

But even if I’m reasonably I.T. literate, I cannot for the life of me set up a simple network. There is another PC in the boys’ bedroom that I’ve fetched down from the loft. I just want a simple LAN, and my gosh I am struggling. They just won’t talk to each other. I am like B.O.S.S. in ‘The Green Death’, singing “Connect, connect, connect, connect” to the tune of the Brandenburg Concerto. And while it is a definite stretch to say that life mirrors art, it’s strange that just last week I was watching ‘The Krotons’, which also features the Second Doctor struggling with a computer.

 

Those of you unfamiliar with the Second Doctor but familiar with Sherlock may recognise this catchphrase from its use in ‘A Scandal in Belgravia’, which opens the second series and which features Benedict Cumberbatch infiltrating a Middle Eastern terrorist cell just because he can, before rescuing Irene Adler from certain death.

So I wondered whether this might work better if we were to use Troughton’s eyes and Victoria’s face, and –

 

– well, “no” is the answer. The top image isn’t too bad, but dear God, Victoria’s head looks like it’s been awkwardly glued on to Lara Pulver’s burka-clad torso (which, of course, it has, metaphorically speaking). I think I’d better put this one down to experience, and it is here purely for the purposes of scholarly integrity.

Still, the idea of classic lines of dialogue given a new lease of life has intrigued me for a while, and hence the following.

 

There will be more at some point, but not today. I’m all punned out.

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Doctor Who: The Spin-offs of Madness

In my head, I can hear that post title delivered by the woman who does the 2 Entertain DVDs. I have no idea who she is, or how much she got paid for reading out all those titles, but presumably she only had to say “To select audio navigation, press enter now” on just the one occasion (Did she do titles for the missing stories? I can visualise her saying “Doctor Who: Fury From The Deep. Eventually.”)

“When I rule the world,” says Gareth, “I will make sure that DVDs don’t play snippets of the programme over the menu.  It gets very annoying to have the same bit on a loop repeatedly, or playing every time you go to the Special Features menu.  There’s one Davison where the Special Features menu has Tegan saying ‘Doctor, look!’ immediately, and you get this every time.  It’s become something of a joke here.” And, of course, it ruined ‘Earthshock’, the first-episode twist of which I was trying to keep secret from Thomas.

Anyway. I was thinking the other week about Rose Tyler: Earth Defence, and wondering if the world’s a poorer place for its absence. It strikes me that you could do Further Adventures of… for all the companions, even the dead ones (Adric’s journey through the Underworld, where he meets Orpheus and Saddam Hussein, would have been splendid.) There’s plenty of mileage in Peter Purves trying to rule a kingdom and screwing it up royally (in a quite literal sense), and I still think Martha and Mickey: Bounty Hunters has mileage, even though Gareth and I have agreed never to talk about it again.

Actually, I just Googled Earth Defence, and someone has made this, and I confess I rather liked it.

Consider –

Commander Benton’s Officer School

What Have The Romanas Ever Done For Us?

The Further Adventures of Zoe, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bum

Still. It’s children’s programmes that rule the roost in our house. When the TV is on during the day it’s either showing CBeebies or repeats of Superted. Occasionally I can sway them towards The Muppets, provided Horrid Henry has finished for the day. I can’t name you a single contestant on this year’s I’m A Celebrity, but I do know every single character in Everything’s Rosie. (They’re all quite fun, except for Bluebird, who irritates the pants off me.)

With all this in mind, last night there was Photoshopping (Fireworksing, in truth, which doesn’t seem to slip off the tongue quite as well – it sounds like something teenagers do on a Friday night in Burnley). Some time and several glasses of wine later, we had this lot. You’ll have seen one of them before. And unless you’re British, and of a certain age, at least a couple of them are going to pass you by. And the last one really is a bit…well. But I don’t care, because I have bacon.

 

dw_Charley

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Doctor Who Bible Stories

Last week I was helping out at a children’s holiday club in Shropshire. In between the madcap games, craft activities and singalongs, I spent most of my time thinking about the Second Doctor, for reasons I won’t divulge right  now. Perhaps echoing my subconscious thoughts, two of the girls in the junk modelling session we had one afternoon managed to produce this – which looks, I told them, rather like a Quark.

Robot

“Or a War Machine!” suggested Verity, Gareth’s other half. “It could probably destroy a pile of boxes.”

The club itself detailed the story of David and his ascension from shepherd boy to king, along with some of the more memorable tales from the narrative, such as David’s encounter with the ill-fated Goliath. (One thing they don’t always tell you in Sunday School is that after David had felled Goliath with that pebble he found in the stream, he then cut off the giant’s head and paraded it round the camp, perched on the end of his sword. The Old Testament is full of grisly stories like this. The dogs licked up Jezebel’s blood, Herod committed blasphemy and was eaten by worms, and when Sisera, during a failed invasion of Israel, broke protocol and sought sanctuary inside the wrong camp, Heber’s wife Jael waited until he was asleep and then drove a tent peg through his head. And they complain about ‘The Deadly Assassin’.)

In any case, the encounter with Goliath set me thinking, and that’s when –

(The fact that the most appropriate image of Jamie and the Doctor I could find is actually from ‘The Abominable Snowmen’ is a welcome bonus.)

But why stop there? Why not look, for example, at ‘The Beast Below’, and the Doctor’s little dance with Amy in the mouth of the star whale?

Meanwhile, some of the Dalek stories deliberately lend themselves to this. I am still waiting for ‘Exodus of the Daleks’, but –

 

(I’m quite sure there’s more I could do with ‘Genesis of the Daleks’, as well, perhaps by tying it in with ‘Kinda’. But anyway)

Revelation aside, the blood and gore has died down a bit by the time we reach the New Testament. Still, there’s the Christmas story, with its tale of a squalid virgin birth in a crowded town, followed by ritual infanticide. The birth of Jesus is, as the Tenth Doctor puts it, a “long story. I should know; I was there. I got the last room.”

Well, of course he did.

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Cabbages and Kings

So I take a week-long holiday in Shropshire, and this is what I find when I get home.

I tell you this. If they use that line about redecorating one more time, I will break into the BBC props department, steal Capaldi’s screwdriver and ram it so far up the backside of the chief writer his throat will light up every time he opens his mouth. It’s not even that it’s no longer funny. It wasn’t funny back in November, when the Tenth Doctor used it.

Let’s be clear: the “You’ve redecorated – I don’t like it” line is not a recurring gag. It’s something that Troughton said twice. His delivery was impeccable on both occasions, as Troughton’s invariably was, even when he fluffed his lines (mostly because his Doctor was exactly the sort of person who might be appearing to fluff his lines in order to lull you into a false sense of superiority before he reveals his hand).

sandwiches

Then Matt Smith does it in ‘Closing Time’, and it’s quite funny then, partly because Smith’s delivery is quite different, and James Corden’s look of outrage is plain silly. And it is, as Gareth said, “a little homage-y thing.” But then Tennant used it, and now it’s being ground into a catchphrase, in the same way that the fish fingers thing became a meme and the question “Doctor Who?” became a highly important plot line. (I will leave that dangling there for a moment, just so you can take in how ridiculous it sounds.)

Actually, I was looking at a video of the ‘redecorated’ stuff on YouTube, in between deciding whether or not it was worth Photoshopping Clara into Dulux catalogue images or screengrabs from DIY SOS, with speech bubbles reading “I don’t like it” (I decided it wasn’t worth it). And I found this:

Grab_Decorate

Sheesh, some of these fans are intense. I’m so glad I don’t engage in pointless debate like this.

“I wonder,” says Gareth of this latest insertion, “if the intention is so that it can be flipped around later, with hilarious effect? Maybe someone will say ‘Oh, I just love what you’ve done with the place!'”

Gareth also likens this whole thing to Clara’s observation (in ‘The Snowmen’) that the TARDIS thing is “smaller on the outside” – which, as he points out, “doesn’t make sense at all. (On the outside, it was the size that it was. You now see the inside and this is what you should comment on. It would work if you started in the TARDIS and then went outside.)”

Snowmen_04

It’s a simple example of a scene being written to fit a joke. They wanted a pan inside the TARDIS, because that was new. But Moffat also wanted that joke, presumably because it makes Clara ‘different’. It’s a thinly disguised attempt at characterisation, but it doesn’t work with the moment that precedes it. But what does that matter to the tumblr feeds?

(Two of the greatest reactions to the TARDIS, incidentally, come not from full-time companions but from the supporting cast. In 1973, Benton – acting as a substitute for the unavailable Frazer Hines – is asked by a slightly put-out Doctor whether he’s going to mention that the TARDIS is bigger on the inside, because “everybody else does”. An incredulous Benton replies “It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?” Thirty-five years and seven / eight Doctors later, depending on how you count, Bernard Cribbins is faced with the spaceship’s vast interior, only to remark that “I thought it’d be cleaner.”)

“Also,” says Gareth of the trailer, “why does the Silurian woman shout ‘free the carrots, now!’..? Maybe we’re getting a crossover with one of the silliest episodes of Lost In Space.”

tybo2

“It’s clearly ‘cabbage’, not ‘carrots’,” I said.

“It was more sort of ‘cabbots’,” said Gareth, “and I thought that freeing carrots sounded more plausible.”

“Find me a picture of a space cabbage,” I said, “and we have a blog entry.”

So he did. And we do.

margaret_the_space_cabbage_300

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Unused Doctor Who Monsters (part two)

Last night, Thomas and I were watching ‘The Web of Fear’. It was episode two, and the yetis were wandering through the London Underground.

Thomas said “Daddy? Is the Abominable Snowman lost?”
“”I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe he’s lost in the Underground, yes. But I reckon they’ve been brought here. They’re robots, remember, so the Great Intelligence has probably got plans for them.”
“No, Daddy, the story.”
“Oh, that. Yes.”

With that in mind, here are today’s unused monsters, one of whom has a distinctly wintry theme.

 

 

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The Enemy of the World of the Doctor

We have yet to see the artwork for the upcoming Troughton release. So here’s my contribution. (Thanks to Gareth for the caption idea.)

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Be careful what you wish for

I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that I may have altered the URL of my last entry after I’d sent it out, which may well have rendered it inaccessible. So if you missed out on Dalek Caan talking like Johnny the painter from The Fast Show, here’s the updated link.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (waiting for Tom Baker to come and look at you) for the past few days, you’ll know all about the BBC’s recent announcement that they’ve found most of ‘The Web of Fear’ and ‘The Enemy of the World’, two lost gems from the lost archives of the Second Doctor. This rumour has been circulating all year, of course, although the actual size of the haul has decreased from 105 episodes down to about 9 over the months, while the location of discovery has shifted from Ethopia to Nigeria. It would be easy to suggest, rather cynically, that the discovery occurred at the end of winter, the negotiations finished in spring and that the BBC drafted the press release before the summer solstice, and then held off on the announcement until mere weeks before the anniversary story in order to ensure maximum publicity. But I am not going to do that. Honest.

One of the most amusing comments I read came courtesy of an Independent reader, who quipped:

Dear Sir,
I am the nephew of a deceased Nigerian general and have discovered a vast cache of vintage film classics among his possessions. They could be worth several billion pounds if they can be sold to international media distributors. However, I need a reliable person in the UK with a legitimate bank account…

Elsewhere, there are the usual grumblings from fans who are complaining about the iTunes release plan. “Some were saying that if lots of people buy those then the BBC might not bother releasing DVDs because no-one will want to buy them twice,” said Gareth. “Others were saying that if too few buy the iTunes (e.g., because they’re waiting for the DVDs) then the BBC might not bother releasing DVDs because there’s clearly no interest.  Silly!” Of course, the DVDs of both adventures are due – in November and February – and they will be well received, because you can never have too much of Patrick Troughton.

I had an idea a while back for a Doctor Who story in which the Tenth Doctor and Martha are asked by a wise and learned people to travel back in time and recover some sacred scrolls that are vital to their future. The Doctor does this, only to find that the scrolls contain a secret so terrible it must never be revealed, and he takes it upon himself to see it’s destroyed. I know I just said you can never have too much of Patrick Troughton, but I can’t help wondering whether some of these episodes should stay buried. In any event, this whole thing makes me wonder what’ll happen when we eventually stop collecting physical media just consign everything to the cloud. I know that DVDs and Blu Rays don’t last forever, and I know that the servers are hidden in bomb-proof hangars underneath international airports (meaning that in the event of a nuclear apocalypse and the collapse of the global infrastructure, we’ll still be able to watch Doctor Who), but what happens when the terrorists work out a way to wipe out the internet and hold us all to ransom? Would we really be willing to sacrifice our freedom so that the likes of lolcatz can survive? I’m not sure I would, although I might make an exception for rathergood.com, particularly this one.

Of course, if we’re being futurist and cynical at the same time, we might end up with something like this.

 

Using one crap episode to exploit another is a bit self-referential, of course, but that’s the story of my life.

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