Wednesday, December 29, 2010

FFS, Gabriel Chase (2010 roundup)

While I can't deny my raging hatred for this tosser has dimmed to bare recognition, I am if nothing else a creature of habit, so he's the "constant evolutions" to be found on his Saturday Teatime Guild.

Whilst the Welsh series now enjoys daily screenings on UKTV's Watch channel, the original languishes in TV limbo.

Boo freaking hoo. The fact half of them can be found on youtube is balanced by the fact the other half are available on shiny silver things called DVDs - though such infernal technological devices are presumably an "abomination", right, GC?

Now, here's a challenge only GC could provide - what could you get to make Ron Mallet, sparacus, Mad Larry, RTD and a man off the street with only the vaguest knowledge of the show put aside all disagreements and stand united in COMPLETE AND UTTER CONTEMPT?

The present version of the show is very much establishment. It blandly conforms to current socio-political ideals regarding escapist adventure. It is designed purely to appeal to the lowest common denominator. It looks good and sounds good, but says nothing. There are no socio-political questions posed to make the viewer think, no ideas put forward that might make the viewer consider there may be alternatives to the bland confection presented by our broadcasters - with the possible exception of The Empty Child which is a very good analogue of the Welsh series, superficially similar to the original but totally lacking anything beneath the surface.


Suffice it to say, when other internet trolls don't think they're bigoted and ignorant enough, they turn to Master Chase here.

Meanwhile, in the "Who Myths Debunked" with such well-known howlers as "Doctor Who is not a children's programme!", "Mary Tamm was never topless in the Sweeny!", "The Beatles were never in Doctor Who!" and "Manchester sucks!" there's THIS howler...

Matt Smith will be the Eleventh Doctor.
Bizarelly, written after A Christmas Carol screened (by which the "will be" bit is surely inaccurate since he's played the Doctor for a year already...). Though it seems in the GC universe, that episode is still on the drawing board and has yet to be screened.

It is the belief of this site that the original Doctor Who and the Welsh series are separate entities,
So why are you bothering to write this?!

and that both are parts of a greater whole, encompassing the films, stageplays, radio serials and webcasts.
So they're NOT separate entities.

In which case there have been at least fifteen Doctors already, not counting another six which were portrayed in parodies of the show.
So parodies are canon now?

In addition to the seven featured in the original series, Paul McGann in the American pilot
As the eighth. Specifically after the Seventh.

and the three in the Welsh series,
Making Matt Smith the eleventh. See how this makes sense?

Trevor Martin portrayed the Doctor midway between his third and fourth incarnations in the 1974 stageplay Seven Keys to Doomsday,
Actually no. He played the Fourth Doctor full stop. Or the Seventh Doctor in the AVs. Actually, why am I even arguing?

David Banks played an un-numbered incarnation in the 1989 stageplay The Ultimate Adventure,
Once. For half a show. What with him being understudied. Is Edmund Warwick now counting as a separate Doctor for being a stunt double?

whilst Richard E.Grant was officially labeled the Ninth Doctor in the 2003 webcast Scream of the Shalka.
And then officially labeled uncanonical by the BBC.

Peter Cushing and William Hurndall's
Richard Hurdnall, you tit.

appearances in the films and The Five Doctors respectively were as alternative First Doctors,
So, ergo, they don't prevent Matt being the eleventh.

whilst Michael Jayston's Valeyard character in The Trial of a Time Lord was supposed to be the Doctor somewhere between his twelfth and thirteenth regenerations.
And thus after Matt. So?!

If we factor in the parodies of Doctor Who

featured in Crackerjack! and Comic Relief, Don MacLean played an alternative Fourth Doctor in the former, whilst Rowan Atkinson played a Ninth Doctor in the Curse of Fatal Death skit featured in the latter.
Why stop there? What about Rob Stitch? Jon Culshaw? Frank Gallager? Mark Gatiss? You can't open the gates and stop there!

In fact, this latter parody added four further incarnations in the forms of Richard E.Grant (playing the Tenth Doctor before he played the Ninth), Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Joanna Lumley, thus making thirteen.
And who wrote COFD? The same bloke who says it isn't canon! Christ on a bike.

Which, if you take into account all the various forms of Doctor Who produced since 1963, makes Matt Smith at least the nineteenth or twentieth Doctor - which is a physical impossibility even for a Time Lord!
a) "507"
b) The Matt Smith Doctor describes himself as "eleventh" on screen, after several flashbacks confirming that
c) does GC really honestly REALLY think people will read his paragraph and go "Cor, blimey! It turns out there are more Doctors if you count the crap on youtube! The new series is therefore utter shite! I done seen the light!"


Probably best to leave him for good this year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Doctor Who - Bah Humbug!

This is the day
That the Lord has made
All wrapped up in hessian sacks
To keep it safe and warm

This is the day
That the Lord has made
Nurtured in the breast of man
To keep it from the storm...

Typical, isn't it? The only time I've managed to nick a copy of a Doctor Who Christmas Special inside 24 hours was The End of Time Part One. The drawback was in the name, really. But, at last, after years of stagnation, the ABC decides this new-fangled "fastracking" business might be worth looking at - oh, does anyone else remember the hell of 1995 when the only thing they had to show on Christmas Day was a Vicar of Dibley episode two years old? That was the EASTER special?!? GOD DAMN!

I can't honestly say if this is the first time they've ever fasttracked anything, but they definitely haven't hyped it like this before, and then screen it before Skellig with John Simm as a bearded looney obsessed with Doctors and alien monsters. Coincidence my ass!

Alas, this damned 'lose two and a bit thirds of your blood supply and nearly die' palarver meant I was not able to give the reviews to all the stories I was going to review in the meantime, so a quick round-up:
Blood of Cybermen: Cack of the Cybermen more like! What a waste! Some artic archaeologists dig up a Cyberman ship and Cybermats spread a plague that nano-botically turns everyone into Cybermen. The Doctor and Amy blow up the spaceship. Utterly rubbish, and the bits where the real Cybermen kill the 'half-breed' Cybermen is not only totally stupid, it rips off Victory of the Daleks! The Cyberinbreeds being basically Weevils wearing Cyber voice changer helmets were pretty crap too - Amy acts like they're irrelevent crap and the Doctor never disagrees. The only good bit is when Amy limbos through an air vent and drops into a room... to land at the feet of a Cyberman staring down at her, head tilted curiously to one side. Reader, it was so crap I deleted it right away. Oh, and no explanation for why Amy doesn't remember the Cybermen on TV... presumably she just couldn't be arsed remembering this crap either.

The Ring of Steel: Arthur Darvill shows that while he may be a brilliant comedian and decent actor, an impressionist he is not - and also attempts to do female voices AND Scottish accents are doomed to failure. The Doctor takes Amy to see the Fall of Arcadia... well, the Orkneys, which sounds the same. Some aliens take over the electricity pylons and make them walk around smashing stuff. Nothing else sank into my memory, except it seemed a bit dumb not to use the pylons they're making nowadays that actually LOOK like people walking.

TARDIS: Not seen it yet. Better be better than the last game.

The Boy Who Saved The Proms: Total freaking brilliance, beginning to end (the applause during the regenerations montage was annoying though - you pay to go the Proms and then SHOUT OVER THE MUSIC?!?) and proves several things: one, human beings are inherently sheep who will wear stupid things like fezzes if they're told it's "cool" enough times; the new Daleks are crap; and the creepiest villain ever isn't a Weeping Angel, it's the vampire girl with the umbrella. While all her sister-lesbian-lovers flirt with everything with a pulse, she's just walking around and scaring the shit out of people far better than any Silurian, Judoon or Cyberman.

Supernature: Nice little comic strip, bit derivative of my own work but quite good with any excuse for Amy to spend 80% of the story naked, and the Doctor being completely unfazed by transforming into a grasshopper. The framing narrative was clever too, with the apparent dying words of a doomed expedition being something much, much cleverer.

Planet Bollywood: It's all in the title. The title is shit. Buffy did the planet of musicals much better. A comic book about sound worked with Onomatopea last year, but this...?

The Golden Ones: You gotta laugh, right? The Axons return! At exactly the same time Big Finish do the exact same thing - so all that canon is stretched to breaking point as Doc 11 is completely unaware of Doc 6's encounter with them. Oddly enough, they're just not effective in comic book form and the whole thing is WAY too much like Angel: Smile Time. And Amy dressed as a Japanese Schoolgirl rates zero on the hornometer for some reason, even when the tentacle porn begins. Has the whole word lost meaning?

The latest comic strip who's name I can't remember: A rather lame attempt to fuse CS Lewis and Doctor Who together, given the fact they've been doing it since page freaking one. Points gained for the Rani returning to kill sparacus, but lost for the fact the bookshop TARDIS looks way better than the one we've actually got. Yet again, we celebrate an author by saying they have no imagination of any kind whatsoever and just writes what the Doctor tells them to?
Right. That covers everything, and since I started typing the mysterious Jason "No Nickname" Redhed has already reviewed the damn thing in a much funnier and less spiteful way. Soo.....

The first ever Christmas special not featuring either David Tennant, William Hartnell or both, A Christmas Carol is pretty cool. Especially as Moffat has never, to the best of my knowledge, done a Christmas episode before. Now, given the title and overall plot, I have to say I was a bit despairing - another Scrooge parody? Having just had to suffer through variations of it with Catherine Tate and Ricky Gervais (both accompanied by David Tennant on a quest to get more ABC coverage this week than his successor it seems), I was reasonably sick of it. Indeed, the only good reworking of the tale was a Batman comic where the spirits of Poison Ivy, the Joker and a skeleton in a bat outfit tell Bruce Wayne to stop being such a fucking Emo all the time.

In fact, hadn't we done the Christmas Carol before? In Turn Left (when we saw a possible past for the Tenth Doctor as a suicidal jerk), Journey's End (when we saw a possible present for the Tenth Doctor as a genocidal over-sexed git) and The Next Doctor (when we saw a possible future for the Tenth Doctor as a fatally-overconfident solo git)? If we work on the whole 'story fixes the character's personality problems', pretty much all the NuWho companions count surely?

But this story quickly proved itself good in the fact that trying this 'three spirits' bullcrap simply doesn't work - but what can you expect from a plan derived of the Doctor needing a quickfix solution and Silent Night on the stereos? Michael Gambon's character (dudes, only seen it once and don't have it on computer to check names) is a nasty, witless fuck who is neither clever nor funny in his moronic quest to be a total asshole. It's hard not to think previous Doctors simply drawing a gun on the old bastard and saving a lot of time. But the Eleventh Doctor continues to take the path least thought of, proving to be so utterly insane and random I honestly I don't believe I could write for a character who's number one priority is to be completely unexpected. The world's ending, but everyone's too busy arguing about whether or not "isomorphic controls" are an urban legend, or the shocking revelations about his sex life - not only has he had a one-night stand with Marilyn Monroe ("That was never a REAL chapel!") but it turns out he wasn't brave enough to snog the Rani at high school and spent the night building a sonic screwdriver instead. Compared to this, his shark-riding, card-flipping, "my brain just went 'what the hell?'" attitude is almost oblivious. This is a man who can literally live lifetimes while popping down the shops. I admit I disliked the idea that the Eighth Doctor would leave his pals for an afternoon and spend twenty years with a completely different companion then pop back for them like nothing. But looking at this it seems so natural for the Eleventh Doctor I'm amazed to think he might have remained solo during the hours or so he left the Ponds aboard their very-doomed space ship.

Now reviewing Silence in the Library I may have bitchily said it was ripping off Continuity Errors by the same author. Bar the fact that both stories are set in the biggest library ever, there's sod all to connect them. CE is Moffat's blisteringly contemptuous review of the New Adventures, with Benny a wisecracking smartass who doesn't do much but write in her diary while the Doctor needs the cheat codes to defeat alien monsters instead of, you know, dealing with them like he did in his previous six bodies. He needs a library book, the bitchy librarian won't give it to him, so he goes back and changes her life completely - her husband never left her, her daughter was never murdered by Krynoids, etc - and so the librarian is a nice, friendly person. But she's still smart enough to know this is cheap bribery and the Doctor's helped her out of entirely selfish reasons, so she refuses to give him the book. So he changes history again, this time kidnapping a harmless academic who's treatise "Dr Who: Nice Guy or Complete Bastard" is proved when the Doctor dumps him in the distant past and refuses to let anyone question his ruthless methods.

The Eleventh Doctor does something similar here, but it's slightly more wholesome as the Doctor is driven to it this time and ends up becoming Gambon's best friend rather than visa versa. And this is the brilliant bit, as the godlike Time Lord once again completely screws up - he can change Gambon from a selfish one-dimensional sociopath into a bitter, broken-hearted old man. All it means is that instead of having to deal with a pantomime villain, they've got an old git with issues instead. And even when he finally does see the light, it turns out he can't save the day by being a nice guy anyway. "A broken heart is better than no heart at all," our hero mutters, and though he's right, I can't be only person to think longingly of being a selfish bastard who simply didn't care about anyone else. Things would be a lot simpler if nothing else.

Gambon reminds me off the wacky villains the Fifth Doctor often faced - the pompous frog who thought he was god, the stalker with a crush(ed face), a schizophrenic alien... Mawdryn just wanted to die, Omega wanted more company than a giant chicken and the Eternals were just bored shitless. Here is a bad guy who fundamentally just can't be arsed to get out of his armchair and press a button, and stubbornly sticks to his decision on the grounds that the Doctor doesn't have the right to play god. It may all work out in the end, but the Doctor's reckless rewriting of time is never portrayed as something to be proud of. At the end of it all, he only really manages to mend what was broken in the first place.

And what for Amy and Rory? Well, they're not in this one much - though we get more disturbing insights to their sex lives (and I'll never to be able to see Rory mentioning Amy got him "to dress up like the Doctor" in the same innocent light ever again). Amy's a lot more well-adjusted here, taking things seriously and only hiding things from Rory to keep him calm, though this has created a new dynamic with the Doc and Amy as "grown-ups" keeping Rory in the dark. Amy doesn't even flirt with anyone here, as though she's ready for commitment or something freaky like that.

And (because this is genuine fucking agony typing this out and it can get hard to concentrate) a moment of admiration for the sheer imagination on display. Anyone can do contemporary Christmas or a historical Christmas, but on a planet where fish swim through the air like those things in From Beyond, where the sky is owned and loan sharks (tee-hee) take your family as collatoral and put them on ice? In a story Moffat admitted was being dumbed down for drunken overfed family audiences, it seems he's taken off any brakes marked "gritty realism" and "audience identification" and let things go absolutely apeshit - this is a story where we're asked to think of a shark as a helpless suffering animal rather than a monster from nightmares or even something for Rod Foxx and the Womp to shoot at. It also asks the nasty but strangely compelling question: what day would you choose to die?

Having come close to that I have to say the Welsh opera singer made the right choice. Anything above bleeding to death behind your front door while a spider slowly kills a house fly is definitely to be aimed at - and if I suddenly get struck dead by some hot pieces of meteorite, so be it. I got a few extra weeks and haven't wasted them in any real sense. A Christmas Carol agrees with this philosophy completely... just wish it had a better title, really... oh, and why Gambon huggin himself doesn't destroy the universe? Because one's a man that can never happen now, obviously? DUH! As for why the Doctor's not fussed about changing history, this isn't a fixed point, obviously! I don't know why these things bother people, I really don't. Why doesn't the Doctor do something like this for Davros? Have you met Davros as a child? He's like Stewie Griffin without the charm! And given this is a newly rebooted universe, who gives a crap!

But what about what those other losers thought? Well, due this fasttrack business reviews are pretty thin on the ground but sparacus managed a rare public appearance:
0/10. What can I say? I'm not going to over the top with the condemnatory language here as I simply can't be bothered. I thought the whole thing was as if Moffat was trying to write some kind of surreal fantasy movie minus the Johnny Depp. Some of the dialogue was incomprehensible as it was delivered too fast. The 'plot' was confusing and frankly uninteresting ; I found myself turning over to Emmerdale at one point as I was so bored. It was very silly, but not in a funny RTD kind of way but just a silly way. The worst of the Nuwho Christmas specials by a mile.
It's wierd, since he summed up all the best features there and then said he hated them... But, a Moffat script proved too complicated and heterosexual for the Colchester absinthe addict who wanted some soap stars to wank over?! What were the odds?

Television Without Pity meanwhile offers this admittedly concise description:
While Rory and Amy have sex in various costumes, the Doctor brainwashes a child, kills a woman and abuses sea life. Then, a music video.
The last word goes to Mad Larry who, after complaining that the fish weren't alien enough and the whole Christmas special was "banal" and anyone who liked it was "thicko trash" found himself told off by Paul "too good for the DWADS" Ebbs for being a miserable asshole with an unreasoning hatred of everything. Larry reacted with his usual calm rationality:
I'm sure we're all amused by the revelation that, when the chips are down, Lawrence turns to Chibnall for eloquence. He'll be bitchslapping pterodactyls next...

It just goes to show there's always someone worse off than yourself, I suppose. Both Larry and I suffered terrible disasters this yuletide period:

I slashed open my arm in a completely avoidable household accident, was horribly traumatized, lost almost all my blood, nearly died, have a scar for life, can't walk properly (or type with any ease), was unable to even shower for THREE WEEKS cause of a risk of infected stitches, lost my job, was unable to buy any presents for my loved ones or even leave the house for long periods, or help out with any of the decorations.

While Mad Larry got a couple of tweets telling him to "chill out dude it's only the interweb".

Yet, did I let my Christmas be ruined?

A clue: no.


God bless us every one!


Next Time: "Somewhere different. Somewhere... brand new."
Holy shit! Cavaliers, Nazis and CIA spooks - every fetish you could ask for! The Doctor kicks Obama out of office! The Fashion Police finally put steps on the Doctor's wardrobe! River Song naked! Amy and Rory backpack their way across America in tribute to Steven Fry! Mad Larry goes apeshit as the Doctor grows a beard and his body is held in Area 51 - hah! Meglos' TARDIS from The Lodger is back! Those damn Ambassadors OF DEATH!!! are back! Ood Sigma drinks too much on Saint Patrick's Day! Someone doodles on Amy's face when she's passed out on cheap cider! Wierd shit in mirrors! And a nagging sense that no matter how good the season is, it's STILL LESS THAN HALF THE USUAL AMOUNT GOD DAMN IT!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Photoshop With A Slashed Wrist

Someone or something is murdering commuters on the City Rail Express to Central. It's always SOMETHING, isn't it? Nigel faces a $200 fine for travel without ticket, Andrew insists MX is behind it all and as for Dave, he's locked in the bathroom... again...

Space Station Cassius IV is raided in a surprise attack by the Charnel House Warriors in 4599. The Bomb Disposal Squad hire UNIT's scientific advisor to help them on a strange business at Butler's Wharf. Beyond eternity, the TARDIS has become trapped in an artificial time corridor. And at the heart of it all, the Daleks are preparing one last, desperate bid to escape extinction...

Despite all the odds, the Doctor has survived the events on Androzani... but Peri is beginning to suspect his new persona is far from stable. And when they get caught up in a bizarre kidnapping using Time Lord technology, the Doctor discovers that the planet Jaconda is the heart of a plan to rewite all of time and space. An old enemy is being aided by an old ally, and only the Doctor can save the universe - assuming he can keep his mind together...

The TARDIS has landed somewhere dark and dangerous. The Doctor and Peri are not alone. Someone is following them. The laws of cause and effect are breaking down and something has returned from beyond the grave. The Doctor has a final battle to face with his ultimate enemy... but does he really have right on his side this time?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

200 Moments: The Eleventh Doctor!


The Eleventh Hour
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor invites Amy aboard the TARDIS, surreptitiously turning off the scanner as he does so.
WHY: The whole story has been about the production team convincing us that the dude with the mad hair and the chin is a worthy successor to David Tennant. The story is told almost entirely from the new Doctor's point of view. We're as bewildered as he is when WPC Stripper beats him up with a cricket bat, or irritated at everyone else in the village knowing who he is, frustrated at the stupidity of the Atraxi, and betrayed when the TARDIS and sonic screwdriver break down. The Doctor is our audience identification character just this once, not the beautiful redhead or her gormless boyfriend who both like dressing up for their own kinky amusement. And now the Doctor is declaring the official end of the Gap Year by getting a full-time companion. Ah, but Amy's hiding something, like she always does, and we/the Doctor are asked to wonder what the hell she's covering up now. We barely notice the Doctor switch off the TV with the crack on it, and those that do assume that - like Eight or Ten before him - the new Doctor is ignoring the story arc to bite him in the ass in the season finale. Or is it? As the said season finale screens we find out the Doctor was deliberately scanning the crack and keeping Amy around to examine further. Suddenly his awkwardness about being lonely (an explanation we'd taken as absolute gospel fact) is no longer straightforward. Suddenly, we're not inside the Doctor's head any more. We're in a new TARDIS with two new travelers that don't yet quite trust each other... or us.

The Beast Below
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Amy tries to tell the Doctor about how she's fled her wedding and it reminds the Doctor of how he fled Gallifrey.
WHY: Whenever I visualize the Doctor's past on Gallifrey, it always defaults to the incarnation who mentioned said past. I don't think of William Hartnel in long dusty Time Lord robes, I think of Tom Baker at the back of the lecture hall, mocking Borusa and chatting to Drax. I think of Jon Pertwee's disintegrating friendship with the Master. Colin Baker awkwardly trying to get the Rani on a date. David Tennant bouncing Susan's mother on his knee. Paul McGann on a hillside with his dad, watching fireworks. Sylvester McCoy sneaking into Vaults and nicking every Gallifreyan superweapon not nailed down. And now I can't see any Doctor but Matt Smith stealing the TARDIS that first time, because he could, because he wasn't ready for life as a grown-up, because he was scared what would happen if he stayed. "Hello," the new Doctor says, confirmed in my mind as the Eleventh in the way no amount of returning monsters could achieve.

Victory of the Daleks
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor totally loses his control and physically attacks the "Ironside" Daleks.
WHY: Steven Moffat noted that it would be all-but pointless to try and reboot the Whoniverse when he took charge, since it would take much more time to explain that everything was now different rather than putting faith in the audience to have some short term memory. But, in that macheviallian Scottish brain of his, he's come up with an idea to use that - the Doctor is the same one who lived through the RTD era. But everyone else has been rebooted. So when the Daleks start acting like servants to the British army, it's not like Power of the Daleks - there the Doctor and his companions knew the tin gits were up to something, and the Daleks were constantly panto-ing it up and rubbing their protuberances with glee that any moment the carnage would begin. But here, the Daleks' performance is perfect. Winston Churchill knows for a fact they're robots. And Amy, who's faith in the Doctor has been dented by fourteen years of disappointment, sides with the Paisley scientist who built them, having no memory of Journey's End. Maybe - just maybe - the Ironsides are innocent. Maybe the Doctor's wrong. Either way, he's got no one on his side, his own allies refusing to believe his claims, and the nasty suspicion the Daleks are going to destroy all civilization. And the Doctor totally loses it, screaming, spitting and resorting to mindless violence. His screams for the Daleks to exterminate him aren't suicidal grief like his last two bodies, but a psychotic desperation to prove himself right and that the Daleks are a threat. But the Daleks simply offer him more tea, and Amy and Churchill begin to wonder how much of a "madman in a box" the Time Lord really is...

Flesh & Stone
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Believing her hand is turning to stone, Amy decides to stay and face death at the hands of the Angels. The Doctor proves her mistaken by biting her still-flesh-and-blood hand.
WHY: Poor Amy Pond and her suicidal death wishes. They've been there all the time, of course - consoling Bracewell that she knows how it feels to want to blow your brains out, killing herself and her baby rather than living without Rory, not to mention all the times she deliberately walks straight into danger. Having been robbed of her parents and the Doctor, it's a miracle the self-destructive wise-cracking babe isn't in a padded cell somewhere. Yet here is the first time the Doctor ever gets a hint his new friend might be tired of life, as she calmly resolves to die, saving the Doctor so he can fulfill his destiny with River Song. It's notable that in the last three adventures, the Doctor had almost no interest in Amy's safety, but from hereon in she's his number one priority and woe betide anyone that tries to hurt her. And how does he rescue her? He bites her hand with his amazing Space Teeth. Amy's noble resolve vanishes into a whinge about how her hand hurts, focussing on this minor triviality instead of her life being saved. The Doctor and Amy are two of a kind: they don't like to dwell on the big picture, and they do it the most exciting and hilarious ways possible.

The Vampires of Venice
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: After negotiating with the Saturnyans, the Doctor declares all-out war against the fish-vampires without the smile leaving his face.
WHY: Never has the Doctor's reputation as a goblin or trickster felt more appropriate. Having somehow penetrated the enemy base and sitting on the throne like he owns it, he begins flirting outrageously with his mortal enemy... who, in turn, begins flirting right back with him. Pausing only to work out a few piddling plot details, the Doctor learns that innocent Isabella is now fish food. "I'm a Time Lord, you're a big fish... think of the children!" the Doctor says lustfully. "This ends today. I will tear the house of Calveirri stone by stone. And you know why? You didn't know Isabella's name." As the Roger-Delgado-esque Stewart tries to escort our hero off the premises, the Doctor viciously shrugs him off, not even looking at him. "Take your hands off me, Carlos," he said pleasantly, and strides out of the palace without looking back. It's no wonder the forces of this universe and many others come to fear him and will unite against him...

Amy's Choice
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Dream Lord mocks the Doctor when they are alone in a stolen van, racing to rescue Amy and Rory.
WHY: It should be one of the Doctor's most heroic deeds. He's stuck in what is almost certainly a dreamscape, but is using precious time to save the lives of Leadworth villagers who probably aren't even real, putting all his faith into the Ponds' ability to survive. Surely not even the Dream Lord can undermine this moment? "Is 'friends' the right word for the people you acquire?" he jeers. "'Friends' are people you stay in touch with. Your 'friends' never see you when they grow up. The old man prefers the company of the young, does he not?" It's a nasty twist on the RTD view that the Doctor need companions to function, taken to the extreme the Doctor discards companions when they become cynical and independent - and while it will take some time, the Doctor will prove the Dream Lord wrong by giving Amy and Rory the life they've dreamed of, but they'll still want to travel with him. The most hideous of all insults thrown at the Doctor ultimately becomes his greatest triumph.

Cold Blood
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Silurian Malokeh reveals what he's really been up to.
WHY: Sounding a bit too much like "Mengele" to be comfortable, this black-aproned, white-coated Silurian with with the surgical mask and the disturbingly huge drill has clearly been the scariest monster in the story. Poor Amy strapped down, about to be "dissected" by the creepy, scapel-weilding maniac... and they we find out he's got a small boy wired into the system too. But as the situation calms down, the evil scientist reveals he's just been studying life on Earth, ensuring that none of the subjects are harmed in any way, and is horrified at the idea people think he's been cruelly experimenting on innocent people. Elliot's dad realizes his paranoia was unjustified and, with one more connection made between homo sapiens and homo reptillia forged, the Doctor and Malokeh do a funky high-five hand routine. "Malokeh, I rather love you!" the Time Lord beams. The nastiest monster was a big softy, and one to be mourned almost as much as Rory when he stupidly gets himself shot dead later on...

Vincent and the Doctor
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Vincent sketches their foe for the Doctor and Amy... casually destroying one of his paintings in the process.
WHY: Brian Epstein once bemoaned his memory of watching John Lennon crumpling up song lyrics he'd been working on and throwing them into the fire without anyone else ever getting to see what he'd written. Who knows, maybe those abandoned tunes could have been amazing... but at the time they were just scribbles filling up notepaper. They were nothing. And Vincent van Gogh thinks of his paintings at that moment as nothing more than canvases taking up valuable space at his house. Even though they've just fought an invisible giant chicken, the Doctor and Amy are horrified as Vince smothers a painting with a layer of fresh paint. Miss Pond cannot even summon up a wisecrack. Once can only imagine how poor Dr. Black would have reacted to this destruction. It just goes to show that anything can become the most important thing in the world, and sometimes we're lucky enough to see them in that particular context.

The Lodger
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Craig discusses the unofficial house rules with the Doctor.
WHY: With his naive and childlike charm, the "weird and can cook" Doctor has convinced Craig to let him stay in the spare room. "My door, my place, my gaff!" he laughs. "If you ever need me out of your hair," Craig adds knowingly, "give me a shout." Craig winks and the Doctor nods and winks back. "Why would I want that?" the Doctor whispers conspiratorially. "Well, in case you want to bring someone round, a girlfriend or a boyfriend..." The Doctor nods. "Oh. I will, I'll shout if that happens. Something like 'I WAS NOT EXPECTING THIS!!!'" And our hero not only proves that he's unaffected by the new Straight Agenda, but he puts as much effort into appearing normal as he does as bluffing his way as an inspector on an Earth colony or a visiting ambassador from the Federation: ie, not quite enough.

The Pandorica Opens
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor eulogises Rory Williams, but the love of his life has no idea who the Time Lord is talking about.
WHY: Despite all the bollocks about people who falls through the cracks ceasing to never have ever existed, it's quite clear that the unfortunate souls simply... stop. After all, if Amy's parents were wiped from history, Amy wouldn't be here, would she? But she is, and thus simply can't remember who they were or what they were like - but she can feel their loss. The Doctor isn't just trying to get her to remember her dead boyfriend, but also the family torn away from her that have left her endearingly eccentric and suicidal. "People fall out of the world sometimes, but they always leave traces, things we can't account for - faces in photographs, half-eaten meals, luggage... rings. Nothing is ever forgotten." Amy stares at the engagement ring for a moment. "So," she says with forced-cheer, "was she nice?" The Doctor face-palms, his attempts to get her to remember Rory leading to a half-assed Rose Tyler Nostaliga moment he'd often have with Martha J. Comedy is, after all, tragedy happening to other people, which makes Amy one of the most powerful comedy characters of all time.

The Death of the Doctor
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Sarah tells Clyde and Rani about the other companions of the Doctor she has researched.
WHY: In the 1990s, fandom became a miserable bunch. What, thought we, was the bloody point? Suddenly, any companion and every companion had to suffer as much as us, if not more. As Doctor Who had wrecked our lives, so must the Doctor have ruined his companion's lives! The published fiction of the time became almost dedicated to having the Doctor bump into old friends who wished they've never met him - particularly if you were Peter Anglihides! Tegan is a bitter spinster with huge mental problems, Zoe is a brain-fried loser in a dead-end job, Sarah Jane Smith is an antisocial recluse churning out potboilers to a small fanbase... As the 21st century began, the BBC books campaigned to actually kill off all the companions they could, from Dodo to Harry to Ace and all points in between. Pick a companion and they've had a rubbish life since leaving the show - from Romana rotting away in a Dalek cell for 20 years to Mel being stabbed to death for the crime of being too annoying. In one sequence, RTD brutally decanonizes a dozen ranges of spin-offs and, in the antimatter opposite of Children of Earth, gives us an ending that's not only happy but gives us hope for the future.

The Boy Who Saved The Proms
WHY: For those who wish for some impossible dream where Christopher Eccleston had stayed as the Ninth Doctor for more than one year, they would have been deprived of so much. Eccleston's Doctor may have been gritty, dark, Northern and interesting, but he certainly wasn't a hero to children. Would any child want to travel with a man who would abandon them to dissection or maroon them in the past for failing to meet his often-hypocritical standards? Would you trust him to keep you safe, let alone defeat the monsters? You couldn't even sit in a cafe without the fear he'd run up to you and steal your stuff without so much as a word of warning. And you definitely wouldn't be able to have the Ninth Doctor running around an audience with a thermonuclear bomb and a toothbrush desperately looking for someone better qualified than him to defuse it - in short, a six year old up for some fun and games. Tom Baker famously noted that the role of the Doctor was actor-proof and anyone who could deliver the lines and not bump into the monsters would be brilliant at it. But that's in a TV studio: live in a moment of complete and chaotic improv, Matt Smith shows why Moffat was right to kick out the rest of the "respectable" thespians and stick with the drunk giraffe with the hair of an idiot, resulting in a piece of mad on-the-stop extemporizing that looks for all the world as though every word has been scripted, debated and rehearsed. If the Ninth Doctor asked you to put a wire in your mouth that could kill you and thousands, would you do it? If the Eleventh Doctor asked you? Hand me the psychic thread, dude!

A Christmas Carol
WHY: The Young Ones did it. Double the Fist did it. Kasabian did it. And now Doctor Who does it. This will live in history. Oh, and yeah, I haven't actually watched the damn thing.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

200 Moments: The Seventh Doctor!


Time and the Rani
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Rani connects the Doctor's mind to the Giant Brain... but is forced to immediately release him when he picks a fight with the other minds in the gestalt.
WHY: It doesn't matter if the lines about "schizophrenia" are wrong or the fact that every single genius seems to be played by Orac or Zen. What matters is, as Mel points out, the Doctor's personality, his gut instinct to stir things up, cause trouble bring down the government! He can't stop the Rani sucking out his brain but no amount of electrodes, wigs or drugs can make him play nicely, follow the rules, not show off to all the others and get everyone sulking. Any clever alien could use their vast mental powers to fight a giant brain, but only the Doctor could do it simply by being himself - and if that doesn't prove the Scotsman with the umbrella isn't the same man Colin Baker played, then what does?

Paradise Towers
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: His facade exposed, Mel leaves Pex to be teased by the Blue Kangs for his cowardice.
WHY: Everyone's been picked on in their lives at some point or another. Everyone knows what Pex is feeling as he gets left behind while the Kangs sing "Scaredy Cat! Scaredy Cat!" at him, made all the worse because he is a coward. Not a Vila Restal "no way am I taking risks" coward, but someone that almost faints at the first sign of peril and hides in the corner shivering if there's the chance of danger. At first it seems the height of creulty for Mel abandoning him like that, but Pex isn't even brave enough to run after her to ask for a second chance. He doesn't go psycho and beat the shit out of the Kangs, Rorsarch-style, either. He's trapped in his place in this society, Paradise Towers in miniature. So when he does break free of his behavior, of course the world would change forever...

Delta and the Bannermen
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Gavrok kills the Tollmaster.
WHY: It's one of the nastiest deaths the show's done. The poor Tollmaster, a geeky pen-pusher that likes to party but is clearly rubbish at it, has suddenly found himself surrounded by psychopaths with machine guns. He's terrified, properly scared, literally shaking with fear. There's no noble attempts to be brave, but nor is he stupid enough to try and trick the bad guys. He does all the sensible things, tells Gavrok absolutely everything he can, and even the evil Bannerman leader knows the Tollmaster isn't lying or tricking them. So what does Gavrok do? Shoot the poor guy RIGHT THROUGH THE SPINE, so the Tollmaster lets out an incredibly long scream of agony and hasn't even hit the deck by the time the Bannermen are gone. That's a shocking sadism mixed with the most simple and effective of bullying, and even the lovely comedy characters can die in hideous pain...

THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Kane eulogizes to his statue of his lost love.
WHY: "It should have been I who was shot resisting arrest, not you!" sighs the frosty criminal of his gangland girlfriend Xana. Yet it's not long before we discover the criminal report saying Xana shot herself rather than be captured. Suddenly Kane seems more pathetic, deluded, yet much more real than Gavrok, Kroagnon or the Rani - unable to accept Xana took the coward's way out, he's idolized her as a mythic figure, refusing to accept the truth. And when he finally accepts he's outlived everyone he wanted revenge on, what's the very first thing Kane does? He kills himself, there and then. Just like Xana.

Remembrance of the Daleks
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor single-handedly storms a Dalek shuttle.
WHY: In the last story, the Doctor could barely walk on ice in a straight line and his morale-boosting chats almost always ended up with people killing themselves. Yet here, when his entire plan has turned to crap, improvises with a speed and skill never before shown - the Doctor of Season 24 could never have even lassoed a tow-line to the spaceship properly, let alone kick his way through the roof, ninja-style tumble into the ship, hot wire the flight console and kill the Dalek with some Christmas lights. Hell, simply getting the dialogue right for that scene would have been a big ask. This scene is the turning point, as the Seventh Doctor goes from Crouching Moron to Hidden Badass...

The Happiness Patrol
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Happiness Patrol arrive to massacre the Doctor and the rebels, when they unleash their secret weapon.
WHY: "I'm not upset," the Doctor announces upon arriving on Terra Alpha, "I'm angry!" On a world where it's a crime to be miserable, folk end up so depressed they don't care when they finally get 'disappeared'. But the Doctor is the first person to use Helen A's rules against them. All the drones start laughing, cheering, singing... and so cannot be executed. However, the disappointed Happiness Patrol itself are now public enemies and a mini-civil-war takes place while the Doctor, Ace and pals laugh with deliberate fakeness. But then, what other kind of laughter can be found on this planet?

Silver Nemesis
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor must choose whether to surrender Nemesis to Lady Peinforte or the Cybermen. Peinforte threatens to reveal the Doctor's secrets, and the Doctor calls her bluff.
WHY: Lady Peinforte is completely and utterly insane, and she wasn't exactly a brilliant picture of normality beforehand. Who knows what utter bollocks the Nemesis statue could have fobbed her off with? A 13th century witch might consider dark secrets very different to what others would. So it doesn't matter what she was going to blab to the Cybermen ('He's half-human from his mother's side, teamed up with Rassilon and Omega and is actually GOD! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!'), but for the first time we're asked to wonder if the Doctor is all he seems to be. A face-changing time traveler or something more? No answers would ever be made but the very IDEA that the Doctor has a secret he might prize higher than his friends or the human race is a very potent one - and as the Doctor stares impassively at Peinforte, you can't help but wonder what such a thing could possibly be...

The Greatest Show in the Galaxy
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: At the Psychic Circus, Ace is cornered by the thing she hates most - clowns...
WHY: Everyone's scared of clowns for some reason. Is it because they always smile at things that aren't funny? Is it because their true faces are always hidden? Is it just because so many serial killers like dressing up as the rubber-nosed white-faced bastards? Either way, Ace's barely-controlled terror of being surrounded by clowns is, if anything, slightly eased when she finds out they are merely clown-shaped robots. And then the Chief Clown is laughing and grinning at her. "Are you a robot too?" she mocks. "No!" the Chief Clown sings, looming over her. He's not an android, or a monster, or have any superpowers at all. But he's still the scariest thing in the circus and the Doctor never meets him. Ace is on her own...

THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor discovers the Brigadier is still alive.
WHY: Sylvester McCoy may not be the best at anger, but he's very good at grief - left cradling the body of his best friend, shouting miserably at "stupid thick-headed numbskull" who "should have died in bed". "I could have handled it!" the Doctor weeps, only for the Brigadier to crack open one eye. After all the UNIT era, after all those times the Doctor's been last seen caught in a huge explosion or shot by aliens, the Brigadier finally pays the Time Lord back for all the worry and heartache. Capping it off, the resurrected Lethbridge-Stewart announces he can retire now he's finally got one over his scientific advisor...

Ghost Light
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Ace confronts the Doctor about bringing her to Gabriel Chase.
WHY: Ace isn't scared of anything (seriously, she picks fights with people who have machine guns aimed at her head for calling her "freaky"!) so one can hardly blame the Doctor for being very interested at the tale of a haunted house that terrified her. But, as always, the Doctor's good intentions pave the road to hell. He's so utterly confident Ace will rise to confront her own fears, he doesn't think she might just have a near nervous breakdown. He assumes she's told him everything. The "initiative test" has started on entirely the wrong foot and the Doctor has to try and explain, justify himself even, to Ace. As she points out, the Doctor has things HE hates, and he's unwittingly dumped her in the worst place in the universe before she's ready. It's an intense scene and made all the more important that, in this story of two-hander scenes, only the Doctor and Ace actually talk to each other.

The Curse of Fenric
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Fenric arrives to inspect his haemavore troops.
WHY: Fenric is the type of villain that's par for the course in Buffy (actually the whole story is a bit Buffyish, with one episode cliffhanger where a cripple rises from a wheelchair being outright copied by Monseuir Whedon). Fenric is pure evil from the dawn of time, capable of speeches that you can believe could burn themselves into rock to warn future generations, and is clearly ready, willing and able to destroy all life on Earth. "When it comes to death," he giggles, "quantity is so much better than quality!" But it's the moments when he's not playing up to the audience that makes him so funny... and so disturbing. Anyone who can look at a horde of blue leech-faced vampires and grimace, "I was expecting something a bit more... well, Aryan," and make cheap shots about British tea when soldiers get their throats slit open in front of him is a new level of wrong. A villain who is almost uncontrollably amused at his own evil deeds is rare in Doctor Who... until it started taking tips from Buffy anyway... "Don't interrupt me when I'm eulogising!"

THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor is leading a group of survivors through the Cheetah People, only for the humans to panic and a fight to break out...
WHY: "There's one thing more dangerous than being attacked by a cheetah!" screams the Doctor to Ace, "And that's attacking the cheetah! YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY'LL DO TO YOU!!" Having been calm and controlled throughout the story, from confronting the Master to being caught upside down in a man-trap, the Doctor suddenly loses it as the humans he's trying to save succumb to panic and anger - even Ace. The Doctor's not just "bah, humans being nasty" annoyed, he's genuinely scared about what will happen now, and soon we find out just why he's scared of getting into a fight. The Seventh Doctor's lost control of events before, but never this quickly, and never been so blatantly frightened... but he can still trip up Cheetahs with his umbrella and doff his hat at them. I bet Rudyard Kipling wrote about times like this.

Dimensions in Time
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor and Ace step out of the TARDIS and find themselves in the wrong place and the wrong time.
WHY: JNT laudably tried to make this story canon - it's got an official production code and everything, with every effort made to make not only this story real but also to remind the folk at home what they've been missing for the last four years. Needless to say, it's a complete failure in absolutely every respect but this sequence manages if nothing else to prove that we were robbed when Season 27 never happened. "Oh to be in China now November's here!" the Doctor cheers as he staggers from the time machine while Ace grumbles about MOTs... just a pity it wasn't the opening scene of a better story... or a better season...

Monday, December 6, 2010

200 Moments: The Sixth Doctor!


The Twin Dilemma
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The unstable Doctor ponders the fate of the universe.
WHY: How do you make a character sympathetic when they are a smug, self-important windbag who treats everyone else like trash? Comedies do it all the time - Blackadder for example is popular because he follows the Cinderella pattern of suffering endless humiliations on his road to power and position, and those he faces are either far more unpleasant than he is or so hideously insane they deserve whatever Blackie has planned. Yet for most of this story, the new Doctor is stuck in a room with Peri who is either properly scared of him or treated like dirt. SHE is the one we sympathize with, the one we care about. Quite frankly, the Fifth Doctor could have died properly for all we care about the new version. Now he's actually trying to get involved in the main story. "My full powers are returning!" he announces. "I can sense some dreadful evil threatening the universe. The life-force itself is in danger of extinction - and it's up to you and I, Peri, to STOP IT!!" Peri sighs. "How?" she groans. "Yes... well..." He blows out his cheeks, his pompousness deflated. For a moment we see it's still the Doctor, a fearless crusader for the underdog who makes up all his plans entirely on the hoof and is never 100% sure what he's doing. For a moment he seems to twig that his assholeish behaviour has been doing nothing but making him stupid. For a moment he can laugh at himself. And for a moment, we remember why Colin Baker was the right choice, even if the character he was playing was the most ill-thought one prior to the Torchwood franchise...

Attack of the Cybermen
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor destroys the Cyber-Controller.
WHY: Terrance Dicks once noted that Eric Saward had a fetish for the Cybermen (in fairness, they were popular and well-understood monsters that were cheap to use), but this story seems to show Saward curing himself of that - and ridding himself of Lytton and co at the same time. The Cybermen can be killed by bullets! Compared to that, the revelation that the Cybermen are rendered extinct at the end by a bunch of silly aliens no one's heard of before or since is positively respectful. But this sequence shows the Cybermen as a threat to be feared; either as an unstoppable silver army or as a spreading plague. As Lytton is slowly turned into just another drone, the Controller and his guards close in on the Doctor. "Emotion is a weakness," the Controller declares, heralding a nasty and brutal gunfight as the Doctor is literally left crawling for cover and firing a gun heavier than he is. No logic or reason can triumph here, just brute strength and murder. It's a chilling demonstration of how harsh and ruthless Saward saw the universe - and why the self-pitying bastard should never have been allowed to write for the series again. He just doesn't get it.

Vengeance on Varos
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Sil is defeated.
WHY: Sil is of course one of the nastiest people in this story. Varos is completely desensitized to violence, but even Arak and Etta don't get kinky thrills from watching torture - there's literally nothing else on bar party-political broadcasts, until not even Arak can tell the two apart. But Sil is something else, literally getting turned on by the sheer mention of inflicting pain and suffering. He prizes torturing the Governor as much as cheating him out of a few bucks. And while the sick Quillam perishes at his own death traps, Sil is... left alone. Humiliated. His "business accumen" has merely got his company in trouble and lost any faith Kiv had in him. All his allies are dead. And a whole planet will know his treachery. The evil slug doesn't even have anyone to complain to - the Doctor and pals simply walk out of the room, leaving him completely alone to suffer a non-physical torment. This sick bastard is shown for the useless and impotent loser he is. His screams of despair are more satisfying than Maldak simply blowing his head off. Sil doesn't even merit that vengeance. Sucks to be him.

The Mark of the Rani
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor tricks the Master and the Rani into giving him a chance to escape.
WHY: The Doctor's tied to an operating table at the heart of the Rani's stronghold. The Master has a gun aimed at Peri's head. The evil Time Lord activates a monitor to show some luddites about to tip the TARDIS into a mineshaft. The bearded bastard is triumphant! Except... the Doctor announces that he doesn't believe what he's seeing, and assume it's just an illusion on the scanner. "The Rani's cleverer than all of us!" he gasps in mock-awe at this CGI. Despite the Rani's protests, the Doctor continually assures Peri it's not happening and the Master's trying pathetically to impress them. And, he's kind of right. Humiliated not only by his oldest foe but in front of the Time Lady he is lusting after, the Master shakes with rage and has the Doctor wheeled outside to see his defeat for himself. Even though it's asking for trouble. Because the Master can't just win, he has to be seen to win. Of course, even if the Doctor had given up and admitted defeat, it still wouldn't have impressed the Rani in the slightest...

The Two Doctors
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Chessene dies in her attempt to escape in her faulty time machine.
WHY: Chessene isn't Servalan. She's got long hair, wears unfashionable frocks, and goes on about genetic purity. But she IS played by Jacqueline Pearce, literally stab her allies in the back, and flirts whenever talking about cold-blooded murder. She even hangs around with a scientist who works out the theories of Parallel Matter and his comedy sidekick. Chessene isn't Servalan, but it wouldn't be much effort to go the whole hog. It would be satisfying to see Comissioner Sleer lose her "ain't I a stinker?" self-deprecating homicidal urges and just out and out admits what a megalomaniac she is? "I put myself up above the gods!" she rants, sharing Davros' delusions of godhood. And then, in one last Servalan moment, she shoots her companion dead and makes a run for it while Jamie hurls knives at her in the spirit of Dayna Mellanby. You can almost imagine Avon's smirk as she escapes yet again... but wait! Chessene lets out a hoarse shriek of pain, twists and crumples dead. It's not on the floor of the Gauda Prime tracking gallery, but we can thank Robert Holmes for giving us some karma for the Bitch in White.

THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor realizes that Tekker has betrayed him.
WHY: It's not exactly much on paper - bad guy threatens to kill companion, Doctor helps bad guy, bad guy decides to reneg on the deal. But it's given a surprising depth by both Colin Baker and Paul Darrow. Karfel is one of the Doctor's big success stories, he's a folk hero, and he'd never expect anyone to go up against his almost-mythic status. But Tekker (and the Borad) do. "All the stories I've heard about you," Guy-Who-Isn't-Avon sneers, "All-knowing! All-powerful! You're about as powerful as a burnt-out android, and our leader has finished with you!" The Sixth Doctor is bluntly told he doesn't live up to his own hype, and the less-than-rigorous attitude he's had in this particular adventure will cost him dearly. From now on, no Mr. Nice Guy...

Revelation of the Daleks
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Daleks exterminate Vogel.
WHY: This story is unusual as it told from Davros' point of view, and by extension the view of the Daleks. Karra Wardas never meets the Doctor, hears from him, has anything to do with the coloufrul crusader. She has her own little plot to conquer the galaxy in as amazingly camp manner as she can, with silver eyeliner, a purple turnban and smutty innuendo. She is the quintissential human as far as Daleks are concerned, deluded, overconfident and pointless. She and Vogel are so up themselves they don't find anything to worry about when all the security guards are replaced by Daleks. No, they have champagne and toast their evil plans. "How dare you enter unannounced!" Vogel scolds the white death machines. But Daleks don't care about Vogel's sensibilities, Kara's idiotic powerplay. They don't care about the DJ's love of music, Tasembaker's obsession or Natasha's revenge. They are as uninterested in such things as a zombie hoarde, and these Daleks are built from the remains of the dead. It is only after one of them has shot him that Vogel seems to realize the severity of the situation, and can only cape apologetically at his mistress before his corpse topples to floor. It doesn't matter who you are, what you do, or if you're part of a relatively witty double act. The Daleks consider you nothing but a moving target.

The Mysterious Planet
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Merdeen saves the Doctor by killing Grell.
WHY: Season 22 is full of death and people being slaughtered, to the point it becomes meaningless. Had Griffiths, Stratton and Bates survived the story, it would have made no difference, since no one reacts to their deaths, they fail to have any effect on the plot, they might as well not have existed. And they were major characters in the narrative. Here, a character that meritted barely a scene an episode and next to no dialogue, is casually killed off-camera and it becomes moving. Why? Because Merdeen, a man who is sick of killing even though his whole society runs on such slaughter, has had to kill his friend for the greater good. Struggling to keep his voice in a dignified monotone, Merdeen can't quite stop his eyes glistening with tears. "We were not meant to live like this!" he insists. "We should be free." The Doctor confirms Grell is dead. "I've known him all his life," Merdeen sobs bitterly. "I asked him to join the guards. I helped him. I hoped that one day he would see that there is no reason for the cullings!" And suddenly a glorified extra becomes a representative for a whole culture, of Merdeen's idealism, the reason he finally turns to openly defy Drathro - a death mourned. A death that mattered.

THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Crozier broods over his destiny as he kills Peri.
WHY: With the ironic final words of "So, I'm fit and healthy, eh?" the American teenage botanist is bound, gagged, shaved and mind-wiped. The man that callously and calmly humiliated and killed her now sits beside her empty corpse, as though troubled. Matrona Kani, the one person to show even the vaguest concern for Peri, approaches frostily. Is she going to scold Crozier for his cruel inhumanity? Nope. "This time," she says confidently, "you will be successful." And as we're asked to wonder how many innocent people have been gutted on the operating table for no reason, Crozier gives a grim smile. "This," he retorts, "could be my last time for anything." No shame, no emotions, nothing but cruel selfishness in a world that isn't worth the Doctor - or the Time Lords saving it. On Thoros Beta where money is everything life is cheap, and ultimately self-interest triumphs everywhere. Peri, the only one to show continued concern for others, was always going to be the first to fall.

Terror of the Vervoids
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Vervoids surround Doland and kill him.
WHY: The Vervoids are surprisingly sympathetic monsters. They seemingly take no real pleasure in killing, they need morale-boosting speeches, and at one point apologize to their victims. The Doctor outright defends the killers when they get called "psychopaths". They always kill by injecting people in the throat, which kills them more or less instantly. Except for Doland, the serial-killing slave-trading nutbag. The Vervoids take great pleasure in winding him up, pretending to rescue him, mock-listening to his speech of friendship, shaking his hand... and then, when Doland's convinced he's won, they sting him in the hand. He takes a while to die, realizing how easily a bunch of silent plants have fooled him...

The Trial of a Time Lord
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor loses his temper with the court for the first time.
WHY: The Doctor has been clearly fighting between his ingrained reactions to the Time Lords. He majestically throws open the doors to the room with both hands... but his first thought was to knock politely. He sulkily remains seating when the court rises, but his first instinct was to follow the crowd. He's patiently following due course and proceedure, while attempting his own Trafikanti defense (winding up the prosecutor to make mistakes). But the passionate Doctor is rightly disgusted when the evidence against him shows him telling off Peri when she suggests leaving humanity to suffer. "I can't let people die if there's a chance of saving them," the Doctor vows. This moment of honest compassion is dubbed "immature".
"Immature? Immature! I was on Ravalox trying to avert a catastrophe! The deaths of several hundred innocent people! Surely not even in the eyes of Time Lords can that be deemed immature or a crime!" "The crime," the Valeyard roars back with equal fury, "was being there!" And at that moment, it's clear that the Doctor is not on trial by his peers. They are not interested in good or evil, just the status quo. The Doctor no longer needs to prove himself innocent, since the judge and jury do not understand the concept. It's the apathy and arrogance that drove the Doctor away from Gallifrey in the first place, the same mindset that will lead to the Time War. The crowning irony is, of course, that the person to remind the Doctor of this was, in fact, himself...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

200 Moments: The Fifth Doctor!


THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The people of Castrovalva drag the Master to his supposed death.
WHY: Just what would the Master do with the universe if he took it over? Here we get a glimpse of a world where the bearded Bastard rules supreme - and it's a peacful place where housewives gossip, wild boars are roasted, and everyone spends their time reading books. Everyone's nice and happy. OK, it's a trap, but it says a lot of how both the Doctor and the Master consider "civilization" and relaxion. But then the Master shows off his true colours, gleefully switching off the inhabitants. "I populated Castrovalva!" he laughs. "I will dispose of these creatures as I choose!" But the Master has made one fatal mistake - to be completely convincing, the BTC-created people needed free will. And just as the fake Adric died trying to warn the others, Shardovan will turn against his creator. The Master has never been more upset or angry. "YOU DO NOT HAVE THE WILL!" he screams. And he's wrong. What's more, all the other slaves he has created turn on him, refusing to let him escape the destruction of the city. He created a world of people so kind and brave they would never accept him - no wonder Ainley plays the Master in that final scene as a helpless, screaming madman, his defeat so total he can't even control imaginary people. It's perhaps his ultimate loss, and perhaps the best candidate for the "final meeting between the Doctor and his Master."

Four to Doomsday
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor and Adric rescue Bigon with the aid of some street performers.
WHY: Monarch is a classic Who villain, the archetypal 'more money than sense' kind of guy. He despises wonder and magic and wants nothing but facts. He believes he knows everything, he transforms people from the miraculous quirk of organic life into printed circuits, he even plans to travel back in time to meet God and prove it to be... himself. This guy isn't big on imagination. Even his flight computer assumes the TARDIS runs on "the occult", refusing to accept the idea there might be someone out there smarter or cleverer. And the Doctor and Adric rub it in like salty lemon juice, joining the Chinese Dragon and snatching out a decircuited droid right in front of Monarch's green nose. Only a complete moron could have fallen for it - and what more proof do we need that for all his high-falutin' talk, Monarch is probably one the dullest and dumbest characters created on television. Not played by Chris Lilley.

THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Aris, possessed by the Mara, strides through the jungle.
WHY: Aris has been defined as a lonely, emo loser desperately loitering around his daughter's teacher for some love and encouragement. Miserable, hurt, and completely mute. Because Kinda males can't speak. But then, now with his mouth red and his eyes gleaming, Aris begins to talk for the first time in his life. And what does he say in that hideous rasp? "All things are possible!" And then he's running off through the trees, laughing and smiling for the first time - but cruel and nasty laughter and, we soon see, he's intending to murder his own daughter if she gets in the way...

The Visitation
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Nyssa hides in her room as the andorid storms the TARDIS.
WHY: The bitter cynacism of Saward can be easily seen through the character of the Terileptil leader, an intelligent and sarcastic bastard who turns down the peaceful solution because he's a stubborn asshole. He treats the Doctor as a time-consuming moron rather than a dangerous adversary. To him, the sonic screwdriver is just a bit of metal to blow up and the TARDIS is merely something to cut out the long rides on horseback. Even Monarch and the Urbankans a story ago thought the blue box a magical prize - but here the silent android lacks voice or imagination to treat the place with any reverence. In The Invasion of Time, the monsters storming the TARDIS lead to a madcap chase through the vast interior, whereas here it seems to be smaller than the average bedsit. On the plus side, this gives the sequence some real tension - the silent masked killer has trapped the heroine in her bedroom and the sweet, non-violent Nyssa is the one who blasts the tin git to oblivion... using vibrations. The sonic screwdriver is avenged!

Black Orchid
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor is worried when the Cranleighs seem to be friends with his oldest enemy.
WHY: The last time Doctor Who had a story properly set in a historical period was 1977, and the last time there were no alien was 1974, and the last time there were both was 1966. So there must be some evil alien time mucky business going on! The way the upper class seem to be expecting the TARDIS crew, know of the Doctor, seem to have dubious intentions for Nyssa... and then it reaches the zenith when the Doctor's cricketing skills (no doubt down to his amazing Time Lord powers) are dubbed, "Worthy of the Master." Our heroes freeze, waiting for the familiar chuckle and Sir Charles to pull off a latex mask. "The Master?" the Doctor echoes. "The OTHER Doctor," Sir Robert clarifies. Another pause as the TARDIS crew prepare to run for their lives. "WG Grace?" the old man finally explains and everyone sighs in relief. But for once both we and the main characters are taken aback that there ISN'T a nasty alien time meddler causing trouble. It's almost enough to make us think everything's going to be fine and normal, just this once...

THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Captain Briggs finally understands how serious a threat the Cybermen are.
WHY: Briggs is selfish, bullying, rude, callous, cruel and stubborn. But the one thing she isn't is stupid. True, the Cybermen have slaughtered her crew and she's no way of stopping them, but she's confident they can get to Earth and let the local militia mop them up - after all, the Cybermen may be tough, but they're not invincible. Briggs' dismissal of the threat is hard to argue with. "They're an invasion force," the Doctor sighs. "Earth is where they want to go." "There's only a few of them," Briggs shuts. "How many of these silos are you carrying?" asks Adric worriedly. "Oh," Briggs shrugs, "fifteen thousand." And then the truth dawns on her exactly what 'mineral ores' she's transporting are. And as the severity of the situation finally sinks into the biggest cynic in the story, we wait for the Doctor to come up with a solution. But he can't...

THE GOLDEN MOMENT: As Stapley tries to free his men from the illusions, he too is drawn into their dreams.
WHY: There's something disconcerting about seeing people wandering around, smiling and happy, convinced they're in some other reality. Bilton is calm and matter of fact as he tries to break into an alien temple: "Hello, Skipper," he says to Stapley as though they're still at work. "We're not on Concorde!" the Captain protests but Bilton simply goes into pre-flight checks, so routine that Stapley joins in. It'd be funny, if it weren't for the look of horror on Stapley's face. He shouts for help, but none comes and soon he's another grinning zombie. He can't help the Doctor or save the day, because he no longer understands what's going on. The Doctor's attempts to free them from the illusions aren't as effective as we all thought...

Arc of Infinity
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Nyssa realizes how Omega can exist in the physical universe.
WHY: Ah, reversing the polarity of the neutron flow! It can stop nuclear reactors blowing up, prevent the Earth splitting apart, rip holes in the air, cause Sea Devils to explode, turn screwdrivers into magnets, turn chickens into eggs, delete chunks of the TARDIS, get a kettle to work... it's simply explained. It simply flips things upside down. If the Doctor and Martha are trapped inside a hypersonic soundwave manipulator, reversing the polarity means the noise goes OUT instead of IN. If the Doctor is being plugged into a brainslurping death machine, reversing the polarity means his mental powers are cranked up to 100 plus. And so how can a being from the antimatter universe exist in the realm of matter? Omega's reversed his polarity! That's what the whole story is about! It only took them 20 years too...

THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Dugdale tries to convince the possessed Tegan to set up a ventriloquism act in the market.
WHY: It's a deliberately sick parody of Kinda, with the circle of mirrors that stopped the escape of evil now a sideshow carnival that only helps the Mara, run by a trickster who tries to hustle everyone and everything he comes across. Whereas on Deva Loka, Tegan's battle for sanity was horrific, here someone mistakes it for stand up comedy. And then Dugdale's attempt to make Tegan a sideshow attraction turn to a self-pitying monologue, revealing he was once a spiritual and inquisitive young man who has become greedy and cynical. "At the end of the day when the lights come up, someone's standing there holding out his hand," he despairs to the silent Mara. "And long ago I decided that someone should be me." In one moment we know Dugdale better than anyone else in the story, and how he's technically been a slave of the Mara much longer than since Tegan got a tattoo...

Mawdryn Undead
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Brigadier has an LSD flashback.
WHY: Lethbridge-Stewart, defender of humanity, fighter of monsters, one of the bravest men on Earth... is left a forgotten maths teacher. Life sucks, huh? But as the story demonstrates, the Brig is happy in his profession, even if it's a hideous comedown between careers. No, the real tragedy is the Brig being a traumatized, paranoid nervous wreck who treats kids like dirt and prefers cars to people. And the Doctor, the most passive and non-aggressive of his selves, breaks the spell by just chatting to him. Others would have whipped out medallions or rings or simply glared at the Brig with a mesmeric stare. Here, he almost Cracker-style paints the old man into admitting his connection with UNIT, and the others who worked there, and his unpaid scientific advisor. What follows is a simply brilliant sequence, underscored by thrash metal music simultaneously bitter and life-affirming, the Nicholas Courtney of 1983 turning into one of 1973, and boggling at the inside of the TARDIS in The Three Doctors. That wondrous look, the roundels, the lack of dialogue... even today that bit in the Pertwee story sticks out, as though retroactively added for future flashbacks. Wordlessly we see the world the Brig lived in, the world he's lost, the monsters he's fought, and the friend who helped him. And how does it end? "One lump or two Brigadier?" echoes and suddenly the Doctor is making tea. "Pon my soul," the soldier whispers. "You've done it again!" The Doctor just smiles and hands him the tea, knowing exactly what's happened and his old friend is back. It's the little things that matter.

THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Valgard admits his connection with Olvir.
WHY: There are no real villains in this story. Is the Garm eating people? Are the Vanir trying to conquer the universe? Is Terminus run by an insane computer? Nope. Just a bunch of depressed losers trying to make ends meet. Valgard, the bravest and arguably nicest of the Vanir is the biggest enemy, simply because his interests involve beating the shit out of the Doctor and pals, only to end up left half-dead. "In my day we had better training," he tells rookie space pirate Olvir, "You’re a raider, aren’t you? Combat trained. Colonel Periera, was it? The one they call the Chief?" Olvir wonders how the junkie thug could know. "I recognise the moves... he taught the same ones to me. I was with him for five tours until he turned me in for the reward..." A character oft-mentioned but unseen suddenly gets a huge bit of backstory, and Valgard is painted as the same kind of poor schmuck as Olvir and Karri. But Valgard has more to reveal: "We’re slave labour, all of us. If we don’t work, there’s no Hydromel for us." The 'finished and dying' Vanir begs for help, offering to assist Olvir in saving Nyssa but the frightened boy isn't willing to take a chance, even to a fellow betrayed raider. "Don't leave me," wails Valgard pathetically... and the moment Olvir is gone, the warrior is on his feet. It turns out that Olvir's suspicions were right, even though he clearly hated himself for it. Never, ever judge by appearances.

THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Doctor saves Turlough.
WHY: The plot thread of a companion plotting from day one to kill the Doctor is rather unusual. The original idea was for a shock reveal that Turlough was an assassin, but we found out about that in his first scene, long before we found out he would be anything other than a one-off companion. We see everything from Turlough's point of view, rather than the Doctor's - he seems blissfully innocent of the whole thing, unable to see any reason wrong with his new ginger friend and seeming to want an alien orphan to replace Adric. But Turlough's gotten in too deep, made promises he can't keep, and he can't tell anyone. It might as well be his own conscience rather than the Black Guardian tormenting him. Despite his cunning people skills (even Tegan, the most suspicious of him, doesn't think he's anything other than a complete prick), he has no friends, no one to turn to. And now his desperate double-dealing has got him trapped in an airlock about to open up - his latest ally abandoned him, the Black Guardian refuses to answer his call, death is certain. Turlough may be too old to be a schoolboy but he's a genuinely terrified child as death approaches, with the sick realization that no one even wants to save him. For all his eloquence and cunning, all he can do is scream... and then the Doctor steps into the airlock, saving Turlough with one fell swoop, calm and concerned while Turlough all but weeps with relief. The scene that follows is awkward, uncomfortable, like two people at a party who had a huge fight the day before. The Doctor doesn't cheerfully assure Turlough he's been in worse scrapes, and Turlough is too ashamed to thank him. "I thought I was going to die," the boy croaks. The Doctor glances at him. "Not yet." And it clicks - the Doctor has known about Turlough all along, from the moment he found the crystal. The Time Lord's been playing dumb, keeping his friends close and his enemies closer. And he was far more convincing than even Turlough could manage...

The King's Demons
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The Fitzwilliams turn on the Doctor.
WHY: The King's Demons completely subverts the usual pattern of Doctor Who stories. Normally, the Doctor and his friends spend a story struggling to deal with a crisis and at the same time the distrust and suspicion of the natives, finally becoming allies and ending with a gag as everyone watches in amazement as the TARDIS dematerializes. But not here. The Fitzwilliams see the TARDIS land at the outset, and befriend the Doctor immediately since the first thing he does is save the life of their son. But as the story goes on, they steadily lose their trust and respect of the Time Lord as he struggles to bluff and double-bluff the Master and Kamelion. By the end of the story, the entire clan are out for the Doctor's blood - Sir Geoffrey, the only one to know the Doctor's good intentions, is shot in the back and dies seemingly blaming the Doctor when he's actually urging his cousin to side with him. The Master may not have conquered the universe, but it is he who leaves the castle a mysterious and trusted stranger, while the Doctor is the villain on the run for his life...

The Five Doctors
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The First Doctor gives Tegan a pep talk.
WHY: Richard Hurdnall's performance as the first Doctor isn't often discussed, and often he comes across as damn well scary - look at him sneering "What happened to the other?" at Turlough as if he's about to torture him for information. Even with Tegan, he's just as bitchy and grouchy as she is (shutting her up for once in a way "her" Doctor would never say to her face). Finally, the time come for her - like the Brigadier and Sarah before her - to admit the psychic attack is getting to her. "Do you feel weird, Doctor?" she asks embarrassedly. "Full of strange fears and mysterious forebodings?" asks the old man knowingly. "That's it," she admits. "No, as a matter of fact, I don't," the Doctor shrugs. "Just ignore it as I do. Fear itself is largely an illusion. And at my age," he confides in her gently, "there's little left to fear." It's a nice moment, since we've seen the Third and Second Doctors fail to reassure their companions in any way, while the Fifth would have no doubt told Tegan "Brave heart" in the rightly-held belief she would be too butch to back down in front of her friend. The First Doctor has always been the biggest softie of all his selves, hence his continual bluster of vitriol. Yet, when things are serious he doesn't patronize Tegan, but shows faith in her ability to fight off the mind of the most powerful Time Lord ever - at the same time admitting for the first time he's not the spring chicken he likes to pretend to be. It's ironically much more powerful than if they'd just had to ward off phantoms of Steven and Dodo...

Warriors of the Deep
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Preston suggests using hexachromite.
WHY: I'd like to, if I may, take a chance to slag off Thomas Cookson, a miserable media student with a hypermasculine overcompensation complex and the irritating desire to repost the same anti-JNT rant in every single review. He describes Warriors as (technical flaws aside) "unforgiving, hateful and mean-spirited, with nothing to say but a twisted scorn on humanity for not subscribing to the most suicidal pacifism, or even for having a survival instinct". Now, Tommy seems to have seen a different episode four to me - "the Doctor tells us that the humans are pathetic savages, despite one human woman taking a bullet to protect him". What actually happens is this: upon learning that hexachromite will be perfect to wipe out every living member of the Silurians and Sea Devils, Preston urges the Doctor to use it. The Doctor is disgusted at her bloodlust, especially as she and everyone else on Sea Base 4 work specifically to kill other human beings. As Icthar points out, the Silurians simply couldn't attempt to fight humanity if they didn't have these nuclear weapons ready for exactly that purpose. The Doctor then snap, "Sometimes I wonder why I like the people of this miserable planet so much. Don’t you realise the Silurians and the Sea Devils are ancient and noble races, with skills you pathetic humans can only dream about?" He's angry at Preston's racism at dismissing a whole civilization as "invaders" when they at least are spared internal conflict. Sea Devils don't fight Silurians. And as Turlough points out, respecting the reptile people doesn't balance out their MAD plans for humanity. And the Doctor concedes that Turlough is right. It is only later that Preston dies, AFTER the Doctor had switched on the hexachromite gas - she doesn't "take a bullet", she shoots at Sauvix and he shoots back. She only opens fire to stop the Doctor turning off the gas, not save his life. But then, why let facts get in the way of being able to dub a story "hollow, pointless, obfuscationally pretentious, nihilistic trash"? Tom is, after all, the guy who wants to see a story where the Eleventh Doctor is traumatized for life when some bellydancers rape him for shits and giggles...

The Awakening
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Will tells the Doctor what happened to the last Queen of the May.
WHY: It's a brief moment that is easily overlooked. As they hide by the village green, the Doctor and Will watch the pagent unfold. "It’s just like before," Will mutters miserably. "They burned Queen of the May!" The Doctor nods silently. "The toast of Little Hodcombe." "It ain’t funny!" Will snaps, "She was screaming!" The Doctor continues to watch the bonife being prepared. "That’s nothing to what Tegan would have done," he mutters. in this simple exchange, we get so much. We now know the fate of the May Queen hinted at throughout the story; why Sir George is so insistant on period detail; and how the Malus intends to break free. But on top of that we get some of the Fifth Doctor's typically sick humor; a restatement of his faith in his friend, and an insight into just what horrors poor Will Chandler must have been through.

THE GOLDEN MOMENT: The rets turn on Cockerill.
WHY: As Tegan notes, the humans on Frontios are their own worst enemies - their shoot-deserters policy is hurtling them towards extinction faster than any tractor or meteor storm. And when the likeable, easy-going Cockerill finally decides the colony is finished and makes a run for it, we don't REALLY believe that big butch Brazen is going to shoot him through the head... do we? "This planet's doomed! We’re all Rets now, Brazen!" Cockerill insists, stealing whatever he can that isn't nailed down, abandoning the last pretence of civilization. Brazen escorts Cockerill out of the ship, not wanting anyone disloyal on his side, but makes no attempt to kill him. "It’s not easy living inside the system," he declares. "But living outside it? It takes more than you’ve got!" Cockerill is left to the mercy of some wild and savage rets - the apparent sympathetic deserters who we now see are not much above savage Futurekind. And maybe, just maybe, Brazen's been on the right side of this conflict all along... but it doesn't make it any easier to see him watch Cockerill get beaten half to death with a solemn, "He’s made his choice..."

Resurrection of the Daleks
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Stein warns Lytton the Daleks will turn on him.
WHY: For once the Daleks seem to actually be doing something sensible at last. The moment the Doctor's in their territory they charge at him from all sides, intending to exterminate the undying crap out of the Time Lord... and then Lytton dryly points out that their massive conspiracy does require the Doctor alive. Grudgingly they lower their weapons and escort the Doctor away. "They'd kill anyone," Lytton sneers, "even if they NEED them." But if the cliche is that they'll never exterminate their enemy, the cliche is that they'll dispose of the hired help. "How long before it's your turn?" Stein asks. Lytton just smiles, and we soon learn why: he's known all along and has his own escape strategy ready. For once the Daleks' allies aren't stupidly naive and optimistic, but worryingly professional...

Planet of Fire
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Timanov justifies his religious genocide against unbelievers.
WHY: Timanov is an interesting character - especially given the fact he resembles a 1970s porn star dressed as Lawrence of Arabia - in that he is ot an evil priest manipulating his followers, but nor is he a gullible moron. He believes in Logar the firegod because he was saved by a silver being who granted him something approaching eternal youth; he believes Malkon to be the miraculous chosen one because the branded baby was the only one to survive a spaceship crash. When Amyand sneers "You were drunk!" at Timanov's tales of devine encounters, it turns out the skeptic is the one in the wrong. True, that Triic samaritan was no god but he was nevertheless completely real. But how can a man who is clearly no sadist or barbarian order otherwise-needless slaughter of innocent people? Before Logar's existence, Sarn was a thriving planet but now is on the brink of extinction. Timanov is well aware of the facts, he just sees them from a religious point of view. As Amyand points out, the Trion exodus of Sarn could easily be Logar's way of saving the faithful. But Timanov instead walks into the fires to die - a notable change to the same author's novelization, where Timanov is a dimwitted puppet who survives the holocaust by accident. But it's all summed up when Timanov explains to Malkon why burning people to death is acceptable. "Unbelievers are such unhappy people," he reveals. And Timanov is anything but happy as he walks into the flames...

The Caves of Androzani
THE GOLDEN MOMENT: Stotz kills Krelper and Stark.
WHY: Having only recently seen the uncut version of this story on DVD, Stotz' turning on his former comrades completely passed me by. In the ABC-sanctioned tale, the two beret-clad gunrunners survive the story like Krau Timmin - and the battle between Jek and Morgus is lost completely, as the Doctor staggers into the lab to find the corpses lying amongst the burning ruins. But the cuts mean Stotz comes across in a completely different way. Whereas before he was a stock Holmesian figure, witty, sarcastic and adaptable, he's now a barely-controlled psychopath forcing cyanide down people's throat at knifepoint. In the Androzani I grew up with, Stotz farewell to the others was a tense moment - he picks up a machine gun, the others tense, then Stotz shrugs "Bye, Krelper!" and walks out. A nice little wind-up gag between this gang of outlaws who, on paper, could be easily named "Avon" and "Vila". Ah, but Holmes also wrote Orbit. So maybe I shouldn't have been surprised when Stotz wanders back into the ship as if returning for his keys, but instead guns down his allies with a frozen, insane grin... it is, after all, not too different from what Avon could do on occassion.