May 27, 2017

Pyramid Power

What did you think of tonight’s episode of Doctor Who The Pyramid at the End of the World? Faultless or Vaultless (or both)? How many of you were expecting to see Sutekh walk out of that Pyramid?  I am guessing the same number that were expecting to see Bad Wolf written in graffiti on the side of the Pyramid.

Granted, we appear to be in the middle of (at least) a three-part story - the second time that Capaldi will have a story roughly the equivalent to an old six-part story from the classic series days. So it may be that you might be reserving full judgment until the whole story plays out, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t give your thoughts on this episode. And if you consent to giving us your comments, all you have to do is enter them in the comments section below, and it doesn’t have to be given out of love. Fear and strategy are okay with us too.

(1) Comments

May 20, 2017

In Extremis

Tell us the truth - did you think Doctor Who was extremely good tonight, or was this sort of thing not really your kind of game? What was less predictable - the Pope turning up in Bill’s apartment, the TARDIS or just turning up in Doctor Who at all? Would the Doctor be more likely to have been familiar with Pac-Man rather than Super-Mario? Do you think we actually know who is in the vault, despite what the episode appears to indicate? And just exactly who were those dudes who asked the Doctor to be an executioner at the start of the episode? Do you think we’ll ever find out?

Provide us with your thoughts in the commentary section. Please note that this blog post is for real - it is not a simulation.

(0) Comments

May 13, 2017

Blinded by the Light

Did tonight’s episode of Doctor Who vault to the top of your list of favourite episodes this season? Or did you find that it did not suit your tastes? Don’t waste your breath - instead type your thoughts on Oxygen in the comments section below.

This week’s guesses as to what is in the vault: (1) Dodo’s grandchild Bobby Jim; (2) The other giant rat from The Talons of Weng-Chiang (one that we never saw on screen, but was always just off camera and which was still left alive in the sewers. It was in fact the rat-wife of the one that the Doctor shot); (3) The Garm. Let us know which of the three you think is the most likely (assuming of course that it’s not one of the guesses from last week’s entry). Just don’t hold your breath expecting any of these guesses to be correct…...

(3) Comments

May 06, 2017

The Little Grey Cells

Was tonight’s episode of Doctor Who more to your taste than Little Mix, or is the kind of episode that you wish to knock? Wood you, er, that is, would you recommend this episode more than you’d recommend living in the house featured in tonight’s episode? Does David Suchet’s appearance in tonight’s episode of Doctor Who make up for the lack of Joan Hickson, Jeremy Brett, John Thaw and Ian Carmichael in past episodes as well as a nice-but-not-as-substantial-as-one-would like appearance by Roy Marsden in Smith and Jones? Do you think it is K9 in the vault playing the piano and eating all that food? If not him, how about Erato, the Creature from the Pit?

Okay, those questions may have got sillier as they went on, but this episode did not. Tell us what you thought of it in the comments section below. And think twice before you step on that next insect with your foot…..

(2) Comments

April 29, 2017

Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day

We are of course interested what you thought of Thin Ice (we are of course referring to tonight’s episode of Doctor Who starring Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie, rather than the Lost Stories Big Finish audio starring Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Beth Chalmers a few years ago - not that we have any objection if you want to give us your thoughts on that audio instead). But we’re not just interested in your thoughts on the episode as a whole, we’d like to focus on one particular scene.

The scene in question appears to have ruffled a few feathers (and not the ones being worn on Bill’s head), where the Doctor punches someone in the head after that person was shouting racially abusive comments at Bill. It’s not all that rare for the Doctor to punch someone (Capaldi’s Doctor has already done it before on screen), but normally when the Doctor strikes someone, it’s usually because that person has already been the physical aggressor in some way or they need to be stopped or the Doctor needs to free himself in order to save the lives of others. Which isn’t the case here, as the Doctor is really just striking someone for what they had said - what was said was vile of course, but no-one was in immediate danger or physical harm as a result of the comments. Which doesn’t necessarily make the Doctor’s actions wrong (that depends upon your point of view), but it does make it very unusual. The only other similar example which immediately springs to mind from a previous episode was in the 4th Doctor story The Face of Evil where the Doctor gets revenge on a warrior of the Sevateem who had slapped Leela viciously by flicking a flesh-eating Horda upon the warrior in question, who presumably got eaten alive from it.

Some commentators are complaining that the Doctor’s actions in this scene promote violence as an answer which is against the ethos of the show, while others are quick to point out that the episode reminds us that the Doctor has probably lost count of the number of people/beings/creatures he has killed over the years and thus the ethos of the show is not quite as clear cut as some are making it out to be. It’s a long-time debate in fandom, but one which does not ever seem to be running out of steam.

Before I provide my opinion, what do you think of it? Not just of the scene in question, but of the episode as a whole? Don’t be afraid to give your views - it’s not like by doing so you will be treading on thin ice.

(4) Comments

April 22, 2017

Smile!

Did tonight’s episode of Doctor Who cause you to smile? Or did it put a frown on your face? Did a look of puzzlement come across your face when the topic of the oath came up? Where you curious about the distinct lack of Movellans this week? Or do you think perhaps they are inside the vault? Are you warming up to Bill, or did you wish that she was put inside the vault? Are you sick of Doctor Who portraying fashions in the far future as looking exactly like they do in present day? Any other questions we haven’t thought to ask? Is it perhaps time for me to type a sentence that isn’t a question?

Please give us your thoughts in the comments section below. Emoji’s are both allowed and encouraged. smile

(0) Comments

April 16, 2017

And we’re back!

The blog took a hiatus at the same time the Doctor did but now both are back. What did you think of the new episode, The Pilot? A good jumping on point for new viewers? Or a good jumping off point? How about the new companion Bill? What about the Doctor’s lecturing style? Are you warming up to Nardole, or do you think he has a screw loose? How did you feel about the location of the TARDIS washroom? So many things to discuss!

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Just like the television series itself, we’ll be back more regularly from now on!

(3) Comments

November 23, 2016

Happy 53rd Anniversary

“Doctor Who off to a great start everybody here delighted.”

- Telegram from Donald Wilson to Sydney Newman, 27 November 1963

(4) Comments

November 13, 2016

Top of the Class?

So now that we are just past the halfway mark in the first season of the Doctor Who spinoff Class, what are we all thinking about it? Where does it rank in the pantheon of Doctor Who spin-off television series? What do people think of the regular characters, and the actors who play them? Are they all too old to be in high school? Are they all too slim? Any favourites or least favourites? Would the premise of the show have been better off if there was no connection to Doctor Who? How has Patrick Ness’s writing been?

I have opinions on all of the above questions, but I’m interested in hearing what you think. Assuming that you have been watching of course…..

October 02, 2016

Fan Myth RIP #3 - Celebrity Guest Casting is and was “bad”  for Doctor Who

Another one of the most common pet theories put forward by fans which seemed to be stated as historical fact was the theory that John Nathan-Turner casting celebrities in guest-starring roles caused the show’s reputation to suffer and ratings to decline in the UK, leading the BBC to be justified in cancelling the series. The celebrities most often cited as examples are the casting of Beryl Reid in Earthshock, Richard Briers in Paradise Towers, Ken Dodd in Delta and the Bannermen and Nicholas Parsons in The Curse of Fenric. Over the years it wasn’t just a section of fandom that would make this claim, the mainstream media did as well - particularly in historical retrospective articles released for the 30th, 35th, 40th and even the 50th Anniversaries.

Being from Canada, it’s a little more difficult to comment on the effect that seeing these “celebrities” would have on the UK audience. As a Canadian, I’d never heard of any of these people until they showed up in Doctor Who. (Similarly, note that I did not include Dolores Gray in Silver Nemesis in my list of the most-commonly cited examples, because even though she was a Tony-Award winning actress that had co-starred alongside Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall in the film Designing Woman, by 1988 nobody in the UK seemed to know who she was). Nevertheless, I find it difficult to be convinced that these so-called celebrity casting decisions were inherently a bad thing which did the show much harm.

It’s the examples of Beryl Reid and Nicholas Parsons stand out. Earthshock was so popular with casual viewers and fans alike that its difficult to argue that any part of it did the show’s fortunes any harm. As for Nicholas Parsons, it’s tough to argue that his casting did any harm given that the show had already reached its lowest regular ratings level when the final season started. There’s nothing in his performance that suggests that he was either unsuitable for the role or sent viewers to reach for their remotes (nor is there any ratings or audience research data which suggests this).

What then about the example of Richard Briers and Ken Dodd? They were both cast in the most unpopular (at least with UK viewers and fandom at the time) season of all time, Season 24- arguably the season with the highest concentration of celebrity guest casting. Both celebrities were cast in fairly silly roles, in fairly “light-weight” stories that weren’t exactly known for being dark and mysterious, or for putting kids behind the sofa. It is perhaps much easier to see why these celebrity casting examples might have caused the show’s reputation to suffer. However, when we look at the audience research report for Season 24, when viewers were asked what they didn’t enjoy about the season, it was Bonnie Langford and Sylvester McCoy who took the brunt of the blame. “Silly guest-star casting” (or variations thereof) is not listed as a common response to this question. The only answer which might hint at viewer dissatisfaction with respect to casting celebrities is large portion of respondents who complained about the light-weight tone of the show and the fact that it was, in their eyes, becoming “increasingly silly”. This might be a reference to Dodd and Briers because they were both cast in silly roles in somewhat silly stories.

But isn’t that - the silliness- at the heart of the issue? I can remember in 1989 the teeth-grinding from certain areas of fandom when Nicholas Parsons was announced to be appearing in the forthcoming season, because the assumption was that he was cast to be playing a silly role. Of course, his role was not silly at all, in a story that was not silly at all (in tone at least - let’s not quibble about how silly the scene where Ace seduces the guard turned out to be, as that wasn’t the intention). Criticism of this casting was considerably muted (in comparison to when the news was announced) once the story was broadcast. Had they broadcast The Curse of Fenric and Survival in Season 24 rather than Delta or Paradise Towers, it’s difficult to imagine that viewers would have picked on the silliness of the stories (whether it be the tone, guest casting or storylines). If the viewers still hated the show, it would presumably have been for other reasons and unlikely because Nicholas Parsons puts in a good dramatic performance in a non-silly role. In other words, it’s not the fact of celebrity casting per se which is the issue, but the kind of roles (and performances) that the celebrities are cast in.

The new series has done celebrity casting - especially with cameos - to a far greater extent than the classic series ever did, and the popularity of the show has not suffered as a result. Times are different of course - we live in a more “celebrity-based” culture for one so many celebrities have been cast as themselves in cameos - but the fact that the series’ popularity was not harmed by this further supports the notion that casting celebrities is not inherently bad for the show - at most, it depends on how it is done. For the classic series, the show seemed to have other issues that were far more of a problem than celebrity casting per se (if that was a problem at all).

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