Posts Tagged With: village of the angels

Doctor Who: Flux – The Executive Summaries (part 2)

I’m writing this in the midst of a gale. The wind is buffeting the hills, saturating the coasts, uprooting trees, downing power lines. None of this is happening outside my window. Outside my window it’s a bit blowy. It’s a bit blowy and all the schools are shut, which is a first world problem. I’m supposed to be on my way to the cafe to work on this book that will never get published, but there is a Danger To Life and in any case the cafe will probably be closed.

Anyway: where did we get to? We imagined a conversation between Chris Chibnall and Matt Strevens. Oh, and we did a field report to High Sontaran Command. Today, things get a little weirder. But then so did Flux, so at least it’s consistent. You will find three episode summaries below: we’re missing one for ‘The Vanquishers’, because that’s the episode I reviewed. I may write a precis at some point in the future, purely for the sake of completeness. But probably not.

By the way, if anyone at CBBC wants to hire me, I am available for interviews.

Once, Upon Time

INT. TARDIS

[Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor wakes up and shakes her head. She gazes in awe at the sight around her: a vintage 1980s TARDIS, all gleaming white walls and round things.]

WHITTAKER: Holy mackerel, you’ve had a factory reset.

[Dan enters the room wearing Melanie Bush’s tracksuit.]

DAN / MEL: Ah. Feeling better, are you?

WHITTAKER: No. What happened?

DAN / MEL: You fell off the exercise bike and regenerated. Don’t you remember? Ooh, you’ve gone all Scottish.

WHITTAKER: Eh? No I haven’t, I –

[There is a flicker and she briefly looks like Sylvester McCoy, and then it’s back to the blonde.]

WHITTAKER: Oh, I see. I’ve fallen into my own timestream and I’m reliving events from my past. And you’re Bonnie Langford.

DAN / MEL: Who else would I be?

WHITTAKER: That explains the outfit. I thought it was a Scouse thing for a moment.

DAN / MEL: At least I’m not a talking dog this time.

WHITTAKER: That’s a matter of opinion.

[Bang! There is an explosion and we cut to – ]

INT. POND’S HOUSE

[Whittaker manifests in the lounge with a Wiimote in her hand.]

WHITTAKER: Oh, hang on, I remember this. It’s the one with the cubes. Trust Chibnall to reference his own stories.

[Yaz appears in the doorway wearing a checked shirt and padded jacket; Vinder follows in a miniskirt.]

YAZ: You’re playing video games again.

VINDER: No one calls them video games.

YAZ: They really do. I mean unless you work for a magazine or something. Then they’re just ‘games’. But still.

VINDER: How can one man in a position of responsibility be so clueless about popular culture?

YAZ: Ask the Commons Secretary.

[A Weeping Angel takes the place of the onscreen tennis player, serving a perfect ace that smashes through the screen in the direction of the startled Doctor.]

WHITTAKER: Oh, bug-

[The screen explodes in front of us and we cut to – ]

INT. HALL OF MIRRORS

[A dingy funfair. The Doctor, now wearing a cricket jumper, is exploring in the company of Bel, who is clicking incessantly on a small screen.]

WHITTAKER: Can’t you put down the bloody Tamagotchi?

BEL: I’m talking to someone who may or may not be you.

WHITTAKER: Does this mean if I pat your stomach we’ll wipe out the universe?

BEL: Again, you mean?

[The Doctor stops in front of a mirror, gazing at its garish reflection.]

WHITTAKER: This one makes me look fat.

COLIN BAKER: I resemble that remark.

[Enter Dan, dressed as Adric; a lone Cyberman is limping in behind him.]

DAN: Aw, this really isn’t fair.

[Bang! And we cut to – ]

EXT. THE ARUNDEL CASTLE

[It’s the set of Frozen. The Doctor is dressed as Princess Anna, and is in the middle of a duet with the White Guardian.]

WHITTAKER / GUARDIAN:

All this story’s been a series of doors out of place
And some changes in the TARDIS crew
And some dogs turned up and kidnapped the whole human race
And the Angels nicked the phone box and now we’re all screwed

But I think
Yeah I think I finally get it
Though I think it fell short of its ambition –

Love is the only mission!
Love is the only mission!
Love is the only –

[Something explodes offscreen, and the two of them are buried in a landslide. Roll credits.]

DWC write-up

Village of the Angels

DIVISION ENTRY EXAMINATION: PAPER ONE

Time allowed: 6 episodes. (A period of extra time will be allocated in the event that plot strands do not fully resolve themselves.)

Please answer all questions on a separate sheet. Use the black ink of an Andulasian octopus, or crayon.

There is no penalty for spelling or grammatical errors, but we will dock a ton of marks if you dare use the phrase ‘Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey’.

QUESTIONS

  1. Tanya is a Weeping Angel. She has been working with the Division for six months. List the pros and cons of trying to engage with Tanya on a Zoom call.     (7 marks)
  2. Determine, to the nearest parameter, the probability that Bel is the Doctor’s mother. Calculate the ratio of disgruntlement within the fandom.     (8 marks)
  3. The Flame Angel and Scribble Angel are two new derivatives that have recently been launched by the Creativity Department. Design a new type of Angel to complement them. Your drawing should include a comprehensive nomenclature, suggestions for marketing, and size notes for B&M.     (12 marks)
  4. Examine the comparative influences of either: a) George Romero, or b) Peppa Pig upon this story.    (6 marks)
  5. Boris is giving a speech at a conference. He loses his place for 36 seconds. Given that an unobserved Angel travels a distance of five and a half metres a second, what is the furthest distance an Angel could be standing away from Boris in order to zap him before he finds the right piece of paper?    (3 marks)
  6. Count the number of times the Doctor called the Angels ‘Weeping Angels’ in the last episode. Discuss whether this was awkward and clumsy or just mildly irritating.     (10 marks)
  7. List some of the reasons vicars never come out well in Doctor Who stories.   (4 marks)
  8. Using your knowledge of space-time and temporal ripples, determine Ruth’s exact place within the Doctor’s timeline. Prove your hypothesis. You will find a TARDIS under your seat.    (60 marks)

Bonus question: Given that God is infinite, and that the universe is also infinite, would you like a toasted te– THIS QUESTION HAS BEEN REMOVED FOR BREACH OF COPYRIGHT.

DWC write-up

Survivors of the Flux

SPEC SCRIPT: THE DUMPING GROUND, SERIES 9, EPISODE 1

‘SECOND CHANCES’

INT. ASHDENE RIDGE – JODIE’S BEDROOM. DAY

[We’re in a functional-but-brightly-coloured bedroom at the local children’s home. JODIE, a sullen blonde teenager in a t-shirt and jeans, is standing in front of a mirror, holding up a variety of outfits to her chest.]

JODIE: No… not this one… nope… oh, it’s no good. I’m never gonna find an outfit that works.

[Enter JO, Jodie’s African roommate.]

JO: Still looking?

JODIE: Still looking. Ooh. What about this one?

[She holds up a pair of incredibly baggy trousers, hung by a set of braces.]

JO: You have got to be kidding. You look like Mork from Ork.

[Jodie sticks out her tongue, and leaves.]

JO: Oh. Mike wants to see you!

INT. LOUNGE. DAY

[Jodie passes by MONK and SACHA, two boys of about 12 or 13, both ensconced in a video game.]

JODIE: God. Don’t you two ever do anything except sit in front of that thing?

MONK: We’re grounded. Ever since the incident with the toaster.

SACHA: Which was your fault.

MONK: You were the one who switched it on! During an official visit!

SACHA: How was I supposed to know it’d explode?

[Enter MIKE, the long-suffering lead carer. An anxious-looking MAY-LI follows in his wake.]

MIKE: Jodie? Can we see you in the office, please?

[Jodie sighs, and follows May-Li.]

SACHA: Can we go out, Mike?

MIKE: Absolutely not. You two aren’t going anywhere until all the vice-president’s missing limbs are accounted for. Oh, and your room could do with tidying, while you’re at it.

MONK: We’re building something.

MIKE: I know what you’re building. Look, I’ve told you both. You’ll never get Sebastian to fit inside a Dalek case. He’s got no opposable thumbs, and he’s a Doberman.

[As he leaves, Sacha holds up a laser screwdriver and points it at the screen, whereupon Monk’s character explodes.]

MONK: Sach! You’re such a cheat!

INT. OFFICE. DAY

[Jodie slumps sulkily into a chair. Mike sits opposite; May-Li perches in a corner.]

MIKE: Now. You’re not in trouble. We just want to know what happened.

MAY-LI: What were you thinking, running off like that?

JODIE: [shrugs] Don’t know. Got bored.

MIKE: Do you mean bored like when Rani gets bored? ‘Cos we all know how that goes.

MAY-LI: Actually, where is Rani?

MIKE: Out in the workshop. Scraping up bits of rabbit.

MAY-LI: Jesus, that’s the third this week! Where’s she getting them?

MIKE: She mentioned something about Teletubbies. Can we, you know, focus?

MAY-LI: Right, yeah, sorry.

JODIE: I just wanted to see my mum.

MIKE [sighing]: Your mum. Listen, we told you. She’s a bad influence.

MAY-LI: All that stuff she made you do! Those… outings with the Division! All the stealing, the breaking stuff!

JODIE: She’s still my mum! Not my real mum, but the nearest I’ve got!

MIKE [exchanging a glance with May-Li]: We know that. But she’s proved again that she’s not able to look after you. You’ll have to come back here until she can show us she can be a responsible guardian.

[Close-up on Jodie’s face as we cut to a garish Nick Sharatt animation: Jodie smashing some windows in the company of TECTEUN, who wears a wide-brimmed hat and an evil expression. All of a sudden her sneer vanishes as a gigantic crack blisters its way down the screen and the universe is pulled in half; Tecteun is wrenched into a black hole, away from a screaming Jodie.]

JODIE: So what? You’re gonna wipe my memories again? Send me back to the academy like a good girl?

MIKE: Well… not quite. There’s been a bit of a development.

MAY-LI: Jodie… we found your mum. Your real mum.

JODIE: My – my wha…?

MIKE: She made contact with us about a week ago. Just turned up out of the blue. She never stopped looking.

[The doorbell rings.]

MAY-LI: That’s her now.

INT. HALL. DAY

[Jodie walks up the corridor, heart pounding, as the bell rings again. She turns to look at Mike and May-Li.]

MAY-LI: We’re right here.

[Jodie opens the door on an unseen figure.]

JODIE [stunned]: You?!?!?

[Roll credits.]

DWC write-up

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Review: Flux Part Four – Village of the Angels

Early June, 2007. Emily and I are coiled on the sofa, watching Carey Mulligan stumble through the cracked remains of an old building – “You live,” says Finlay Robertson, erroneously assuming that the mansion in which they’ve gathered is her permanent residence, “in Scooby Doo’s house”. There is a fizz of background noise on DVD, as a bespectacled man from a film shot forty years ago mutters a warning. In the shadows, statues lurk. Until you turn your back. Until you blink. And then…

Well, then you get to go back in time a few decades and live out the rest of your life in the village where you grew up, before meeting yourself as a young child. Which isn’t such a bad way to go, really. We could think of worse. Drowning, electrocution, live burial. Over-exposure to the theme from Barney. And this is why the Angels only really worked in one story, where the novelty was enough and where the stakes were raised by the Doctor’s warning about what would happen if they managed to get hold of a TARDIS. When all is said and done, that’s the extent of their appeal. Everything else – the neck-snapping in the wreck of the Byzantium, the makeshift factory farm at Winter Quay – is merely commentary.

Having actually got hold of a TARDIS in last week’s finale, the Angels elect not to switch off the sun (something the Tenth Doctor had feared), but instead dump the battered old police box in 1960s rural England so they can pick up a stray. Because it turns out that not all Angels are wrong ‘uns, if we can really say that any of them were. Some of them have tired of their work with the Division and have gone on the lam, where they can hide out on Earth, ensconced within the mind of a young woman who –

Sorry, wait a minute. Back up. Slowly. Stand clear; this vehicle is reversing. Say that again. They do what? Angels have jobs? With the Division? How does that even work? How do you arrange a performance review for a direct report when you can’t make eye contact with them? Is remote working an option given that every time you arrange a Zoom meeting they accidentally pop out of the monitor? What about salary? Do they zip back in time to deposit their pay packets into hundred-year-old accounts and then live off the compound interest? What happens at the Christmas party when it’s time to form the conga line? These are all serious questions, and I think we should be told.

But unanswered questions are par for the course this series. And there are loose ends a-plenty this week, and most of them concern the Doctor. In the sort of bait-and-switch that Chibnall has made one of his staples, she turns out to be the target the Angels were looking for all along, ending the story on the mother of all cliffhangers, frozen like a Medusa victim as Yaz and Dan look on helplessly from sixty-six years ago and twelve feet away. Quite why the Angels weren’t able to do this earlier in the story is anyone’s guess, but we may assume that it’s because the image of Jodie Whittaker turning to stone in a graveyard stuffed full of statues looks ridiculously cool, so perhaps it’s best not to dwell on it. And while it’ll be undone in a heartbeat, there is something captivating and utterly chilling about that final image. Bet B&M are lining up the figure rights as we speak.

‘Village of the Angels’ is the sort of haunted village horror story that 70s Who managed brilliantly, only with the pacing cranked up to eleven and the pathos at a big fat zero. I know we’re supposed to care about poor Peggy, who vanishes from the home of her irritable great-uncle and his long-suffering wife (played proficiently, if with a certain shallowness, by Vincent Brimble and Jemma Churchill), only to be discovered by a displaced Yaz and Dan wandering around Medderton in 1901. But it’s difficult to care too much when she radiates the same level of glacial calmness displayed by one of the Midwich children in Village of the Damned. There’s something freakish about her. She barely even breaks a sweat when her hapless great-uncle crumbles into rubble (I was going to say she barely even blinks, but let’s not go there). Instead she merely stares at the spectacle, and then notes “He was never kind to me”. We should have seen it coming: an earlier scene has her seated at the table in a seemingly abandoned farmhouse, chickens pecking at the butter and the gramophone still running, lit from behind in a serene halo, like a divine child. You might even say an angel.

Perhaps surprisingly for a base-under-siege tale, visual flair is a cornerstone of the episode’s construction, Robin Whenary’s cinematography working in a delicious tandem with Jamie Magnus Stone’s tight direction, emphasising angles and corners and the feeling of being under constant surveillance. The troubled Claire grows a pair of wings in a mirror, delicately foreshadowing the story’s finale, before facing off against the Doctor on the other side of a windswept beach (in quite unsuitable footwear), the sky a turbulent maelstrom. Closeups are abundant, and the stony denizens scream out of the darkness with a lustre and ferocity we haven’t seen in some time. It doesn’t all work: the Scribble Angel and Fire Angel are supposed to breathe new blood into old enemies, but there is a certain silliness about them, a gimmick that serves little purpose beyond a brief visual cue. Perhaps I was just thinking about ‘Fear Her’.

Still, the best scenes in ‘Village’ occur in that poorly-defended house, the doors rattling as unseen fists pound and blank-eyed faces loom at the window like a dozen extras from a Romero film. It’s terrific stuff, and it almost seems a shame when we have to leave it behind for 1901, in which Dan and Yaz have a bit of a wander and a chat and do not a lot else. Maxine Alderton managed to keep everyone busy during ‘The Haunting of Villa Diodati’, but she struggles here to find substantial roles for the Doctor’s companions, beyond having Yaz yell out “No!” at opportune moments, something Mandip Gill admittedly does rather well. Faring better is Thaddea Graham (Bel), saving the life of an ungrateful refugee on another decimated planet before hopping off into the stars, reappearing for a cannily placed credits scene. She’s tremendous fun to watch, and whatever the murky truth behind this inexplicably lengthy pregnancy, the romance between her and Vinder is genuinely touching, and you really do hope they manage to survive the universe’s implausibly lengthy destruction.

It’s wobbly and a bit uneven in places, but as a whole it works. For every magical reforming picture or jarring snatch of audio (Brimble’s scream when he is first zapped by the Angel is particularly unnecessary) there is a feast of dimly lit churchyards and frantic, elegantly composed set pieces. Guest performances, too, are largely sound – Kevin McNally and Annabel Scholey excel as stuffy academic and frightened woman out of time respectively – and there is a cohesiveness to the story that survives beyond the oddities; a mesh bag, crammed full of rocks, a few rough edges poking through the holes, but essentially intact. Chibnall’s run on Doctor Who hasn’t been without its problems, and the jury is still out on whether Flux is going to pan out as successfully as we’ve been promised – but this week he made the Angels scary again. That, in itself, is something of a triumph.

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