Tuesday, December 30, 2014

CapaldiDoc Xmas Special

Well, that was quite good, wasn't it?

If I had a criticism it would be it felt a bit more like a Red Dwarf Christmas Special given the plot was a mashup of Better Than Life (layers of false reality and long-dead ones keeping you from the truth), Back to Reality/Earth (non-sentient alien parasites leaving people in nightmarish hallucinations) and of course Psirens (hideous alien bugs alter your perceptions so they can suck out your brains with a straw). Not to mention the sight of Santa Claus coming to the rescue (this time not with an AK47 on a minefield).

Yet I can only really say this. Steven Moffat has jumped the shark.

I use the term deliberately and I use the term accurately - in the sense not that Last Christmas was an abomination which will forever taint and ruin future stories (as the pig-ignorant morons would assume) but rather it set a standard it will be impossible to reach again. The only way left is down.

I mean, how can anyone follow on from this? Previous Christmas stories have used the iconography to varying degrees and could be set on any such holiday or even none at all. You could, at a pinch, remove the Xmas atmos from previous stories and still have a decent story (with the exceptions of A Christmas Carol for obvious reasons and The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe which has no story and hardly anything xmassy about it anyway).

This story has Santa fucking Claus and Rudolf saving the day not once but twice and climaxes with the Doctor riding the reindeer around Big Ben. That's about as damn Christmassy as you can get, and even puts TV Comic to shame (Santa only appears in a cameo in part one and it's not actually Christmas).What in the sweet name of Slitheen buggery is supposed to be the next Christmas special about? What left is there to go with? Is the title of the episode a clue that there won't be a special next year? Given how utterly tenuous the links to the festive period have been under Moffat (that's three alien planets that coincidentally just happen to resemble Victorian Christmas postcards now) we've actually had a Christmas special that only has two scenes set at Christmas with the rest all being a dream!

There is the distinct sense that the bottom of the barrel has been reached but not scraped. There's nowhere left to go for the new show - at least on its present course. Look at Clara, who was turned from the fundamental generic companion into a neurotic compulsive liar and then spiralled into a complete nervous breakdown as she deliberately destroys her whole life rather than surrender control. This story shows her reaction to attempted closure is to try and commit suicide. And that if she actually tried to be normal she would have to avoided the Doctor for 62 years and die a lonely spinster with no friends. And then, for a change, she gets a second chance to travel with the Doctor.

What now? Either Clara is redefined as a new person or we have to go back to diminishing returns with her refusing to accept TARDIS life and using the Doctor as her high-maintenance charity case.

And the Doctor - as defined by the previous series - can progress no further either. Having been defined as an unpleasant git with ADD who gets absolutely everything wrong, it goes up to eleven in this story as he fails to realize he's asleep. On no less than four occasions. By the time he's yammering about missing the obvious, it drives home the joke is rapidly getting old. Are we supposed to be enticed by another thirteen episodes of Capaldi strutting around insulting people while being only slightly less useful than if he wasn't actually involved in the story at all? Even Santa Claus points out that he's an obstacle to the plot who is actually making it worse with his close-mindedness, and Michael Troughton karks it directly because the Doctor is eager to do his "I'm an antisocial bastard so Clara can tell me off" shtick. Either the Doctor undergoes a huge shift like the last two in his characterization or else he's a Little Britain sketch character doing the same thing over and over again, only without a memorable catchphrase.

The monsters have gone too far too. Moffat's grabbed the Teller, the Dream Lord and some facehuggers and come up with the ultimate expression of his nightmare paranoia fuel. A threat that only exists in those who percieve it, who are made stronger by you trying to understand it, who have already beaten you and also tend to be hideously primal horrors? After asking audiences not to blink or step in shadows or trust their own memories we are now bluntly told our own grip on reality is what will get us killed. Where else can we go but backwards? The Dream Crabs are a bigger threat than anything else this year, even the idea of the entire human corpse population turning into Cybermen then exploding. From now on, whatever the threat is, it by definition can't be as bad as the Dream Crabs, can it?

This new, darker TV show has mined these themes bare. There's nothing left. It's taken all the risks it can with an unlikeable, untrustworthy set of characters facing extreme horrors. We face either a new era of base under sieges as the same bloody plots are thrown at us like an automated custard pie hurler or else a bigger turnaround than The Liesure Hive was to Horns of Nimon. Like Pertwee's season 7, the format is unsustainable whether you like the format or not and it looks more and more like it might be time for Moffat to go - but on the other hand, the guy's reinvented Who every year, so maybe 2015 will be good?

Mind you, I said that about 2011 as well and look how that turned out.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

101 Reasons "Warriors of the Deep" Rocks

You know the drill. Having righteously struck down The Massacre and rescued Time and the Rani from its poor reputation, with sword of truth I turn to fight the satanic powers of people who can't sit back and embrace decent entertainment when it walks all over them dressed as the Myrka for panto season.

1) The title. Seriously, how awesome is that? The new series of Doctor Who starts with WARRIORS FROM THE DEEP! It instantly evokes darkness, subterranean vistas, and undead armies arising to wage war on the surface facing an enemy totally unprepared for this. And like Warriors' Gate, it is a complex morality tale while Fury from the Deep provides us a nearotic seabase commander filled with people being brainwashed until they go crazy and a threat easily solved by something the base happened to have on hand to deal with the menace. So, not only is the title awesome, it is accurate. It makes no mention of darkness, decent production values, welcome fashion decisions or whether it refers to the human characters or not.

2) You ever see AdultSwim's SeaLab 2021? You may not have and it's certainly an acquired taste (the nearest comparison would the redubbed Rush by Mick Molloy and Tony Martin as The Olden Days, with 1970s Saturday Morning kid cartoon remade on illegal recreational narcotics) but it's impossible not to think of when watching this story. A greying, arrogant shoot-first loon as a commander for an undersea lab full of backstabbing zealots in blue and orang jumpsuits constantly threatening to blow the complex up, including bizarre fish people, token females, evil communications officers, and killing off the entire cast at the end of an episode to make a quick point. I myself am physically unable to stop myself doing the "Uh-oh" song whenever bad things start happening and Vorshak and his pals exchange grim looks... my point is, even with a proper production, this would still be too macho not to take the piss out of it.

3) Yes, the SeaBase is floodlit and glaring white. People seem to think it should have been yet another copy of the Nostromo from Alien, all dripping water, rusty chains and pitch darkness. WHY?!?! This isn't a slasher story where Sea Devils could be lurking in any shadow, and SB4 is not a run-down cheap-ass space haulage ship but a state-of-the-art brand new missile complex put there at great expense by a military dictatorship. They're hardly going to take out all the light bulbs and make it creepy on the off-chance a Doctor Who story needs to be told there, are they? Are they going to have water leaks and rusty chains in 2084, with all the workers' comp and OHS legislation? Fuck off!

4) It's also ignored that the only floodlit sections are the main bridge, its computer room next door and the airlocks. Everywhere else is reasonably lit, with several corridors quite dark and the storage room full of Hexachromite is pitch dark compared to the TARDIS console room. By the above logic, half the scenes with the Myrka should logically become brilliant in reduced lighting.

5) Scibus, of course, is one of Doctor Who's comedy geniuses. He is so freaking funny, it's like he's been dropped from a cutaway skit of The Young Ones featuring Silurians. What's the first thing we see him do? Announce that he hasn't spotted anything bad happening. And Ichtar shouts that this is "Excellent, Scibus!" with such pride, you almost expect him to pat the guy on the head. Ichtar then tells Silurian Dougal there that the most important thing to do is for them to remain undetected by the humans. The next line of dialogue is that all the humans are quite clearly detecting the Silurian ship and already consider it a hostile invader ship, with only its organic structure giving them pause from nuking the lizards. Oh, Scibus!

8) Bar Season 4, this is the only time the show begins and ends a year with completely different TARDIS crews - it's a bit odd, in my opinion, especially as publicity at the time emphasized the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough as a genuinely awesome-looking 80s cool band. Seriously, have you seen those posters of the three of them against a black backdrop with dry ice swirling? It's practically albulm art and the opening scenes feel like empty excuses to get the performers on one at a time in their new outfits (Turlough even arrives putting on his tie). There's even a nice moment where the Doctor idly bitches he should have stolen a Type 57 TARDIS in the previous story because while the computers-and-keyboards model was eye-achingly modern and up-to-date at the start of 1984, fashion was fleeting. Considering the last TARDIS scene of the same season is the Sixth Doctor and Peri yelling at each other in clothes almost as loud as they are, it's like some massive cosmic learning curve or warning to future generations.

9) More comedy homo reptillia as Ichtar carries on a whole conversation by himself, never letting the others get a word in edgeways as he basically goes "Mwahaha, my evil plan will work! What evil plan, you ask? This evil plan, which relies on a bunch of soldiers who have been frozen so long even if I can wake them up they will be brain-damaged zombies. Is that a flaw in the plan? Hmm, guess it is! Oh, well, I've started, so I might as well finish... Will you two stop interrupting me?"

10) Tarpok gets his own back with an oh-so-drammatic button pressing that suggests he's drunkenly trying to get a lift to stop at the floor he's already on. Made all the funnier by the fact he turns away from the others to do this, then gives up and hastily turns back to face them with what can only be described as a hopeful reptile man smirk...

11) Following Season 19 of Adric dealing with a foster family after the death of a parent, and Season 20's Turlough desperation to break out of high school, Season 21 kicks off with Maddox - the unloved redhaired stepkid who's only here for work experience and not getting any better with all the fresh grown-up responsibilities. Oh, the sympathy I think many feel for the guy as he rushes out for a smoko when actually he's having a full-blown anxiety attack about screwing up on his first day on the job... well, actually maybe I'm alone in that. I generally stress any job I do is the equivalent of nuclear war, but during the 1980s when the BBC showed Threads for shits and giggles, probably many a young man was terrified of being nuked before he got to third base and probably had to run to the gents to weep so no one picked on him.

12) Even more significant is Karina rescuing with a blunt "might never happen", which is endearing because it's such a pathetic reassurance. No Captain Kirk speeches, no charming insight to the human soul, just "hey, WW3 might not start today". It's the best on offer, and chillingly it shows that even nice, friendly wouldn't-hurt-a-fly Karina is convinced war will break out. At best, it'll keep till the end of the week. And that applied to every poor sucker at home watching, when Rowan Atkinson was laughing off the real fear he and his audience would be dead before the next installment of Not The Nine O'Clock news and suggesting they all just get shagging now while they still had a chance... Bloody hell, it's practically a relief that some prehistoric reptiles show up to take our minds off our doom!

13) It's not just ninety-nine red balloons or flocks of geese that could cause the Pentagon to go to DefCon 1, it's the TARDIS too - if that isn't a blunt statement of how screwed up things are. Despite the fact this police box has appeared in high orbit and contains people someone able to communicate with them, Sentinel Six has no imagination or human restraint. He's dumbfounded by the Doctor's "Sorry!" because he's expecting either a serial number or a flock of missiles, and when he gets neither he... opens fire. Even though there's no evidence that the police box could be any threat. It is left unclear if Sentinel Six is a computer-run satellite or there's a crew, but either way it doesn't bode well something so stupid is ready to launch the nukes - a further indichtment of the time when Nuclear War was inevitable because of morons in positions of power.

14) No one, not even Andrew Pixley, knows who did the voice for Sentinel Six. Or if he was paid. Maybe he did it for free. But this blind spot is very surprising, especially considering that the guy playing Sauvix tried to sneak off early to appear in a feature film and get a mate to put on the Sea Devil outfit instead of him. Pixley found out about that, but the identity of S6 remains a mystery to this day. IT COULD BE YOU!!

15) The Doctor's escape by "a materialization flip-flop" is surely the first step to him declaring a missile attack as "explody-wody" when he's Matt Smith. In an interesting aside, this scene where the TARDIS goes haywire, the roundels turn back and the room goes dark was considered the most awesome part of the story by the ABC, who advertised it on video directly after the TV Movie's first screening. They also showed The Sea Devils, but that was just the Third Doctor electrocuting a guy with a green rubber glove. I know which one more people were talking about the next morning!

16) A lovely detail is that Lieutenant Michaels, a character never seen, is built up in dialogue as a sort of Gregory House style loveable asshole that everyone needs. As soon as Maddox suggests that Michaels was murdered, it instantly suggests he's not paranoid and evil is afoot in SeaBase 4. And then we get Nilson and Solow taking their coffee break and informing each other of their own evil plans of which they both already know - but, since they've been apparently waiting years for a highly-strung work experience kid to be aboard, one can forgive their need to vent. But... seriously? They've been waiting for years and this is the best plan they've come up with. As Michael Palin would say "The war could be over by then!" It conjours up the idea of them being Snidely-Whiplash cartoon villains who have failed at every other plan they've tried. "You're a hard man, Nilson, but you forget, I'm a doctor! Swapping the salt for the sugar does not come easily to someone of my training!" "Stop bleating, Solow! If your reluctance to give Commander Vorshack cavities bothers you, lock it away in a strong box until our task is completed!"

17) Time to bring in Terrance Dicks' lovely novelization which kicks off with some devastatingly deadpan commentry on the settings ("It might have been in space – but it wasn’t.") and gives the Silurians some fabulous 80s ballgowns care of Jackie Pearce. But it also tributes Malcolm Hulke in giving personality and depth to the most one note of characters: "She was an ideological convert to the cause of the East Bloc... it was Nilson himself who had converted and recruited her... Disappointed in her career, left alone by the death of her husband and her parents, she had fallen an easy prey to Nilson’s arguments. He had persuaded her that the East Bloc philosophy of uniformity, obedience and central control was the answer to all life’s problems. Once the East Bloc ruled supreme, suffering and injustice would vanish magically from the world... she had come to accept that most terrible of creeds, that the end justifies the means... she did not find it easy to suppress all conscience in the cause of political expediency... Her voice was dull, almost lifeless. By now Doctor Solow was becoming used to murder and treachery... Like many political converts Nilson had become a complete fanatic, if anything more ruthless than the masters he served..." Neatly summing up why Nilson is clearly the bad guy yet working for the power bloc that, despite its ominously communist leanings ISN'T the one reprogramming the brains of its subjects and removing the concept of free will. It also gives a note of hope that even brainwashed tools like Nilson and Solow can overcome their conditioning and rebel against the system, cause in a story like Vengeance of Varos or Timelash next year, they'd be de facto supporters of the Doctor throughout.

18) The humor turns darker rather than outright hilarious, as the TARDIS crew idly wander around the base doing the whole "Do you know, this place seems rather quiet" shtick while two floors up everyone's freaking out screaming that the next world war is starting.

19) I'll just take a moment to point out that, at first glance, the Seabase and everything in it is as retarded as the character of Peri Brown in The Kingmaker. They have nuclear weapons that can only fire if one person with the right sort of brain is wired up to the central computer and if anything at all happens to that person - say, I dunno, even being concussed by tripping over - the entire base is defenseless. It is also completely cut off from the outside world except for whatever info High Command puts on the twitter feed - which would, it seem, cover UFO-police box sightings but not actually whether war has been declared. On top of that, it has a commander, a leader of men, who upon seeing a teenage boy having one of several panic attacks whenever he gets told what his job requires, starts screaming "THE BASE IS DEFENSELESS WITHOUT YOU!!" because a) Maddox would obviously have forgotten and b) that'll help. But the thing is, one has to remember the basic truth: this power bloc (which Terrance Dicks calls the West for ease of clarity) brainwashes its crew. Everyone in SB4 has been brainwashed with a spinning CD, technology that separates from their enemies (which is why Nilson has to steal it). It is shown in the story to be able to turn Maddox from a twitching hyper-anxious kid into a bland drone with no personality - and worst of all that's when the bad guys are doing what Vorshak wants! Nilson needs his huge buzzy remote control to turn Maddox evil, the rest of the time, he is like everyone else on the base, a tranquilized zombie. The reason Maddox was the only normal person there is just that: he was the only normal person there! The work experience kid who had not been brainwashed already to be "reassured" by the powers that be that the bomb is good and the bomb is safe and the bomb is the only thing between us the commie pinkie redneck BASTARDS! So, watch that scene again and you're seeing literally the only sane man surrounded by trigger-happy yanks getting Manchurian-Candidated into towing Reagan's party line. Not so funny, now, huh? And if this plot detail explains the appalling standard of acting from some of the cast, all the better, say you not?

20) Change the mood a little with some more comedy: the Doctor and Turlough get all manly and grunty trying to open a door. Tegan idly grabs the handle and slides it back with no effort whatsoever and goes through, not noticing the hugely awkward look between her two pals. It's up there with the Second Doctor and Jamie accidentally holding hands in Tomb of the Cybermen or the Doctor and Rory realizing they've snuggled up together in Amy's Choice. The guys can't cope around pretty girls, can they?

21) Scibus gets asked what the temperature is behind the door. He replies there's no way of telling because it's too cold. I expect there's a cut scene where Ichtar headbutts the wall in frustration.

22) Ok. The Hexachromite gas. Now, on the one hand, you gotta respect the proper Chekov Gun rule - if you see a reptile-only-death-chemical in act one, you better damn well see it used in act four. And you know, at least it's better than those stories where the Cybermen invade a base that happens to be stockhoused with their one weakness. I think the thing is that the fact is that it's so random. The Doctor says it's perfect plot device appropos of nothing. Maybe if the plot required it as its original use of sealing hull fractures, or if anyone else on the damned base realized they were using illegal toxic chemicals that could be used against invaders, it wouldn't seem so bad. Or if Hexachromite had to be mixed with another gas to be perfect Silurian-Mortein... but the fact remains, in part one, the Doctor learns he has access to exactly what he'd need to kill some Silurians. In part two, he discovers there are some Silurians in the area. It's not so much about him waiting four episodes before he can wrap up the plot, he's spending the whole story refusing to take the easy way out. Imagine if passing Sea Devil #53 hadn't accidentally gassed himself, no one else would have thought to use hexachromite gas. How utterly random would it be then, huh?

23) Despite Uncle Tezz's full-fisted determination to try and give WOTD the passion it deserves, he can't quite escape the Saturday morning cartoon villainy: "Nilson too looked grave, but inside he was thinking exultantly, ‘Precisely, Commander. Helpless. Just as I planned!’" Cut to Dr. Claw laughing evilly, MadCat howling and fade out for an advert break!

24) Davison's "reckless innocent" Doctor is never clearer than in part one. Upon realizing they can't sweet-talk their way into SB4, what does he do? Set the nuclear reactor to blow up! Of course, it will take three hours before it blows up and easily be shut down by the crew, and is little more than the equivalent of going "look over there!" while they run for it. Tegan is the first to think this is overkill, but is pacified by Turlough of all people who doesn't think for a minute there's a real danger of getting a nuclear explosion in the face and is proved right when it is fixed a few minutes in the next episode. That's right - risking Chernobyl is small potatoes in the Cold War. Grim, huh!

25) More evidence that the Western Bloc are brainwashing their own troops is the fact they are so freaking stupid. You think the garlic-munching comedy stooge who electrocutes himself by stupidly putting his hand into Turlough's sabotage was dumb? The guards wear fallout suits. They are reactor guards and half their time is devoted to running the nuclear reactor (the other half being dying when Sea Devils kill them, obviously) so you think they'd get some basic training. But no, Bulic has to manhandle one of them to stop him opening fire in the middle of the reactor and screams "WE CAN'T RISK A SHOT IN HERE!" Since Bulic is clearly not so dumb he wants to warn intruder/saboteurs that that they can escape, it must be because these non-speaking extras have been labotomized...

25) Interesting trivia - the bloke who plays the Doctor during his backflip into the reactor tank is the same bloke who played George "the Beast" Cranliegh in Black Orchid. It seems the only thing stopping him being in more stories was the demand for stuntmen in pullovers.

26) According to the plot, the Doctor falls into the water where the current from the reactor sucks him straight down to the bottom of the tank. On TV he just lies on the surface face down for a moment. This makes Turlough's scream of "He's drowned!" less like a brutal assessment of the facts and more like a convoluted excuse to escape. "No, Tegan, he's definitely drowned. I know he's blowing bubbles, waving and saying 'I'm not dead yet', but that's just a reflex animal reaction. He is so totally dead, Tegan. Any minute now. No, don't wait to see, it's obvious, he's clearly drowned..." Either way, after spending a year wondering whether or not he should kill the Doctor and make it seem like an accident, Turlough is clearly a bit miffed at how bloody easy it would have been to do...

27) Seriously though, it's nice to see the TARDIS crew are so much less disfunctional this year. In Season 19, Tegan would have spent a good five minutes bitching and arguing before trying to help the drowning Doctor, but here she grabs the chains to go to rescue without thinking. Similarly, Turlough instantly chooses to sacrifice himself to save Tegan when it looks grim. But thankfully when they're given time to think about it, they're still the whining gits we know and love as Tegan tears the Doctor a strip off for surviving and Turlough whines that human beings are a bunch of deluded self-destructive cretins who don't know when to run away. Intriguingly, this show shows them when the chips are down and rising to the occasion BEFORE acting like jerks. This nonetheless works better than the Saward-added scenes in Kinda where you'd think for all the world a voodoo curse has abruptly been placed over the Doctor, Tegan and Adric in mid-dialogue.

28) When Ichtar introduces his companions-and-nothing-more-than-that-I'd-like-to-point-out-thank-you-very-much, Scibus gives the Sea Devils a girly little wave, like he's shy and trying to flirt with them. Sauvix blinks slowly as he stares back, unimpressed. Hil-fucking-ilarous.

29) The Doctor says that garlic-muncher trooper is only unconscious and will survive Turlough's rewiring. This mean either two things: he either sleeps through the rest of the story and wakes up to find the base full of corpses and nerve gas; or he wakes up earlier and is killed either by the Myrka, the Sea Devils or Nilson. While wandering around in his freaking underpants. Tell me that image doesn't make you laugh.

30) Now, the Sea Devils. In their original story they were surprisingly cute and fast-moving monsters (though they keep changing colour, you notice?) with purry singsong voices, a love of high-fiving people and apparently referred to themselves as "Green Gilbert". Ichtar warns the audience that this incredibly dodgy defrosting process might leave them all arthritic morons - and boy, do they. Keep an eye out for the Sea Devil who walks staring up at the ceiling and pointing a gun at it as though he's chasing a fly. Or the one who's head swings through 180 degrees from shoulder to shoulder. But undoubtedly the most awesome is Sauvix himself. Not only is his head fins shaped to look as though he's gone bald, he is the biggest stoner I have ever seen. Ichtar hands him a scroll and tells him to "study it well". Sauvix holds it up and stares at it cross-eyed with total fascination, going "Oooooh, pretty!" instead of unscrolling it and reading it. Then he walks off, still admiring the subtle beauty of the scroll as Ichtar stares on, incredulous.

31) The Doctor abandons his original costume in this story. His replacement is so similar as for you not to notice the difference, but it can't be a coincidence that this coincides with his "darker" persona for the rest of the year - like the Seventh Doctor suddenly wearing dark brown shades in Season 26 or Tennant wearing a mourning suit after losing Rose or Smithy's Victoriana gear post-Pond...?

32) The novelization does a decent job of fitting the Silurians into continuity (and, in a rare moment of justifiable fanwank from Ian Levine, the original script made it even worse). It establishes that Ichtar and K'to are one and the same, and Dicks remembers that K'to was the biggest jerk of the Wenly Moor gang - he just went with the flow and was willing to commit genocide if it meant he had an easy life; he was far more of a bastard than Morka who, for all his bigotry, didn't hesitate to sacrifice himself rather than ask another Silurian to die in his place. The novelization notes that only a few Silurians have third eyes that can psyhically kill folk, and it seems Ichtar and his pals ain't one of them (though given he hangs around with Scibus and Tarpok, quite possibly they neutered themselves to stop accidentally killing each other). It also nicely shows that the Silurians are incredibly desperate; their battle cruiser is an underpowered second-hand museum piece and Sauvix's army is a tiny, under-staffed and under-supported raiding team. Ichtar's so desperate to carry out his Plan (it always is capitalized) he's willing to use unreliable resources now because a) they have no way of conquering Earth on land, and storming undersea bases is all they can manage and b) he's a loony. And if b) is good enough for The Caves of Androzani, it's good enough here.

33) More grimness. Commander Vorshak, a Brigadier-wannabe, offers to treat Turlough "honourably" if he cooperates. So Turlough does cooperate and provides a story that, while bizarre, is not obviously a bunch of outright lies. Evil Nilson suggests they brainwash Turlough in the PS Unit (the Psycho-Surgical Unit, the permanent operating room in constant use changing how people think aboard). Now, Nilson suspects that Turlough is either genuinely harmless or a fellow saboteur, so his desire to get Turlough alone is simply to interrogate him further. But Vorshak the nominal good guy just says "See to it, Nilson". So, "honorable" treatment includes "brutal mind probing" instead of, I dunno, using a lie-detector app or checking Turlough's story (locating the TARDIS and proving he's an alien can't be that difficult, can it?) It's moments like this that makes you glad Icthar shoots the bastard in the back first chance he gets.

34) Do those reactor guards Preston send off into the TARDIS interior ever come back? Or do they join Kamelion, some Cybermen and a Sontaran in the lost tribe of the roundel-worshippers? And do they suffer the same fate as poor garlic-muncher, emerging from the TARDIS to either be killed on the spot or left to clear up the mess? And, could be the moment they see the inside of the TARDIS, the web of time requires all witnesses to be killed to stop them changing history? Is SB4 a fixed point in time? OK, maybe not, but it worked for Earthshock and Waters of Mars, didn't it?

35) Speaking of Preston, she gets one of the coolest "Ah, I've caught you" moments since Ransome in The War Games where with icy politeness she asks if she can help Tegan hide outside the bridge. I know many a child would have been similarly confronted when out of class at school, and Tegan definitely plays that way - amping up some empathy with the audience in a surprisingly subtle way.

36) Despite what some critics may have ranted, saying the Doctor criticizes mankind for daring to defend itself and thus being sickly appeasing death-worshiping scum that requires all Doctor Who post-Tom-Baker to be wiped from existence, nothing of the kind happens in this story. An unidentified seaship appears on the scanner and Vorshak announces that they must annihilate it instantly. When the Doctor suggests they try and make contact with the Silurians first, Vorshak retorts the Silurians motives are irrelevent. "It's not what they want, it's what I want, Doctor - and I want to keep them away!" What a fuckwit. Despite this clearly being the same Sentinel Six shoot-first-then-shoot-later policy, he actually is arrogant enough say, "You're telling us not to defend ourselves?" to the Doctor. The Doctor's reply - "I'm telling you, you have no defense" - is borne out completely as not one of the base's weapons so much as dent Icthar's bitching ship and all he's done is make humans look like even bigger assholes than they already are. Does Vorshak admit that maybe he was wrong? That maybe the Doctor might know what the hell he's talking about? No, he tells the Doctor that DESPITE surrendering, proving his story that he's a lost non-combatant and providing accurate intel on the Silurians that "we have no reason to trust you" and he is to be shot at the first sign of "treachery". And when Vorshak is reminded he is completely incapable of actually fighting the titular warriors of the deep, how does he react? "I can try." The Doctor is quite clearly storing this up. All of it. So watch out, Davros.

37) Tegan points out the flaw in the Doctor's optimism - what will he do if the Silurians are all genocidal bastards instead of misunderstood martyrs? The Doctor characteristically dodges the question by telling her to "look on the bright side". At that exact second he realizes that the Silurians have sent their biowarfare division rather than the diplomatic core and his face falls.

38) "Oh dear," groans the Doctor with embarrassment as the Myrka appears, all ping-pong eyes and seaweed beard. It actually adds verisimilitude, if you ask me - the platypus looks ridiculous, but if it stings you there's not enough morphine on the planet to save you. There are plenty of animals in the natural world that look damn stupid, like the seahorse for instance. And you have to admit that, not only does the Myrka look like it evolved parallel to the Sea Devils, it is clearly part of the same unconvincing rubber genus as the monster from The Silurians. At least the Myrka doesn't constantly give a double-thumbs up like a cross between a pleisosaur and the Fonz. And I bet the Myrka looks cooler underwater anyway. Besides, if YOU had a bullet proof electrified dragon that can crush steel with its bare claws, would you really give a shit if it looked stupid as long as it worked? Charles Daniels summs it up, "knowing that something that stupid could actually kill me makes the Myrka absolutely terrifying..."

39) As soon as the Doctor isn't around, Vorshak admits that he's probably right about the Silurians being more important than the war and keeping radio silence is completely stupid. But typically instead of "wow, ancient reptile people with awesome tech who have arisen just in the middle of a war and wish to make contact with mankind", Vorshak dubs them a threat to all mankind. Without any evidence so far that they are actually hostile (so far all they've done is stop the seabase shooting them with no casualties). It is really hard by this point not to think that Nilson's actually got moral superiority here...

40) Of course, that's when they brainwash Maddox into becoming their slave. You do have to wonder why they're getting Maddox to do all the work for them - since he's smashing up everything, it's not like they need his skill. Why doesn't Solow get an axe and help out instead of driving their slave to slowly die from exhaustion? Why, because she's a complete bitch. But this petty villainy goes out the window with the truly horrible sight of Nilson forcing Maddox to throttle poor Karina, the only nice person on the base, to death. And Maddox is completely aware of what they're forcing him to do. Nilson could have shot her and spared them all discomfort, but instead they get this scene - the natural culmination of the Master's cruel tricks in Logopolis getting Nyssa to keep strangling Adric. Frankly, Karina's murder is the cruelest and nastiest part of the story and typically the Silurians have absolutely nothing to do with it.

41) "Doctor Solow caught Karina’s body under the arms and began dragging it across the room. It was strange, she thought. With all her medical experience, she hadn’t realised that a dead body could be so heavy..."

42) I don't get why people whinge that when the airlock door falls on Tegan's ankle it doesn't cripple her for life. There's plenty of other debris that could have cushioned it, and, hell you think maybe in another sixty years they might have a lightweight metallic substance for doors? Anyone who whines that it looks like a mattress has fallen on her should actually have a mattress dropped on them unexpectedly and see how they like it... Besides, in Resurrection of the Daleks, Tegan gets some realistic injuries and concussion and is promptly written out of the main plot for the rest of the story. I prefer the unrealistic approach instead...

43) More of Vorshak's assholedom. When Bulic says they can't shoot the Myrka, he suggests using grenades - because blowing up your airlock would be a really good idea. When Bulic refuses to do so on the grounds the Doctor and Tegan would be killed, Vorshak thinks that it would be better to lock them in with the Myrka. Even though it has already chewed through both airlock doors and the internal bulkhead is much thinner. He doesn't tell Bulic to try and blow up the Myrka and the Doctor and Tegan, nor does he say rescue the only person who seems to know what's going on. He just says lock the door and, at best, buy ten minutes before the Myrka breaks it down and the Sea Devils come in through the back. Notably, even Bulic grimaces with disgust at this pigheaded moronitude, but it shows that people in this world literally cannot think through the consequences of their actions. Presumably because, like Maddox, they'd go mad.

44) In a curious bit of history repeating, it was many a year before I saw episode three of this story. Thus, the cliffhanger to part two - where the Doctor and Tegan are trapped in the airlock about to be murdered by the roaring Myrka and no one able to help - ended up as unresolved as part one of Remembrance of the Daleks - where the Doctor is trapped in a cellar about to be exterminated by a screaming Dalek and no one able to help. Made all the more ominous because Tegan actually refutes the usual "brave heart" with an incredulous, miserable and utterly embarrassed "THAT THING IS GOING TO KILL US!"

45) Also note Steven Moffat reuses that cliffhanger when he wrote Time of the Angels - a returning menace causes the Doctor's companion to become paralyzed and she grimly orders the Doctor to abandon her. He refuses and frees her, but ends up trapped and cornered as the monsters move in for the kill with no possible way of escape - only for him to grab a gun from an extra and use it in a surprising way to keep the monsters at bay long enough for them to escape through a doorway. So the Moff can see the potential in this story if no one else can. And then he commissioned Cold Blood!

46) All the Myrka's scenes are actually the first take, because reshots were impossible. It's amazing how well it went, all things considered. I mean, its head could have fallen off or something but those two blokes actually managed to make it work to that degree with absolutely no preparation whatsoever and recording the scenes in real time. Makes you proud to be human, dunnit?

47) More nice characterization of Turlough as a hero when he's working on instinct but a coward when he thinks; his attack of Nilson also pressages the revelation he was soldier in the Triic Civil War. The novelization explains why Nilson agrees instead of ordering Maddox to throttle Turlough: "Nilson had no wish to die in defence of the Base he was working to destroy."

48) In my opinion there is nothing more scary when a character in a show is killed off by a monster when they do the sensible thing. In Xtro, we have a woman so stupid that when an Auton-like action figure is smashing her apartment with a bayonet she actually gives away her position by LOUDLY EATING CHOCOLATE IN THIS LIFE OR DEATH SITUATION. The Auton bayonets her, and quite right too. But in the same film a lone young bit of Swedish jailbait hears something rustling in the dark bushes outside her isolated cabin and... instantly locks all the doors and windows and tries to call for help, only to discover the titular Xtroid has teleported inside her home and she's dead meat. That's not fair, she wasn't stupid, she did the right thing and still got killed. Here, a bunch of extras wisely flattern themselves against the wall and hide as the Myrka shambles down the corridor opposite and it never sees them or even knows they're there... but its electrified tail conducts through the metal and fries them all anyway. How cruel.

49) Did we mention Vorshak's a git? He tells Bulic to take a suicidal charge against the Myrka. When Bulic points out the guns don't work, their brave leader orders "HAVE THEM TRY!" and when the Doctor backs him up, the bold and noble warrior yells "THE WEAPONS WILL WORK ON YOU!!!" and then actually says "WHEN I WANT YOUR HELP, I WILL ASK FOR IT!" when the Doctor says he knows one way to kill off the Myrka. "I SHOULD HAVE YOU SHOT!!!" Let's be clear, the last character this self-destructive and obviously insane was Hindle in Kinda.

50) I have always found the Sea Devil guns in this story cool for some reason. I think because it works well in the comic medium - you draw the character in black felt tip, then colour a circle of red to show where the shot strikes. A lot easier than the shimmering emerald rings of the cyber-guns.

51) The Sea Devils sleepwalking shambling isn't particularly threatening, but given we know they're all brain-fried zombies and also in bulletproof armor, they don't NEED to hurry. (Is it coincidence the hit single during this story was Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax"?) They're basically waiting for the humans to run out of ammo and kill them. Also compare this sequence to Resurrection of the Daleks - that might be the better-made story, but here the returning monsters completely wipe the floor with the humans and drive them back to certain defeat. The Daleks barely get out two words before they get blown up and then Saward's Mary-Sue bitches at a Black Dalek for being a useless twat before he and some generic stormtroopers wipe out the humans with a suspiciously hexachromite-style poison gas.

52) A round of applause for the beautiful moment Sauvix forgets his line in mid gesture. "Bring forth..." long pause, tumbleweed rolls by, crickets chirp, other Sea Devils stare at him, "...the cutting device!" It's as though he was trying to remember if it was a sonic lance or a thermal lance or a laserson probe and just gave the damn hell up. Considering this is exactly the same plot line as the Cyber invasion of the freighter in Earthshock (wiping out the first wave of troopers, cutting through bulkheads, hijacking the bridge), its fascinating to see it carried out not by gleaming competent cyborgs but a bunch of very, very stoned turtles in samurai armor. Cowabunga indeed.

53) A nice moment of tension before the fighting starts, from the book of the film: "The edges of the bulkhead door were charring and smoking like burnt toast, thought Turlough. Nostalgically he remembered the ritual of study-teas at his public school, with a terrified fag to make the toast. He looked at the blaster in his hand and wondered what he was doing here." Like Maddox, Turlough's the only unbrainwashed/sane man there, the only one afraid of facing certain death. It also returns to the theme of waiting uselessly for total anihilation, in this case a firefight with invulnerable soldiers who will kill you without blinking a very slow and bloodshot eyelid.

54) It's a nice background detail that SB4 has a solarium, ensured that the human crew all have deep tropical tans - and thus could visit the surface without being a walking clue they'd just done a term of service at the bottom of the ocean for six months. Plus, it makes a useful weapon. The same logic as the hexachromite, but undoubtedly more subtle and logical. Of course, it was only in the script to get Tegan and Turlough in sexy swimwear and it's a pity they lost it, because it would have tied in neatly to "kit off" vibe of Planet of Fire...

55) Similarly, the Doctor doesn't use the hexachromite on the Myrka because it's a cyborg and thus might survive the gassing (not to mention he would hardly by now want to trust Vorshak with it, would he?) and he manages a wonderfully bitchy line to Tegan after she, for the upteenth time, suggests his latest plan is going to suck big time. "Perhaps you should ask it nicely to go away?" he offers sweetly, which is less embarrasing than his butch Bond one-liner, "I'm planning to bring a little sunshine into the Myrka's life!"

56) Solow's death scene was entirely improved by the actress herself. Originally the Myrka wandered past her, accidentally whacked her with its tail and she died. Instead Solow unleashes the inner power of the primal warrior and kung-fu kicks the Myrka to death - an act almost as hilarious as the completely bewildered Myrka whose frantic paw gestures suggests he's in a Marx Brothers skit and has the confused impression that Solow is actually his reflection. Comedy freaking gold, ladies and gentlemen, and easily the most memorable death scene since Soldeed. Compare to how Nilson is killed off by the actor sticking to the script and ask yourself which actually makes you sit up and take notice. Full fist, Ms. Pitt. Full fist.

57) It amuses me Bulic somehow knows what the Sea Devils are called without being told. I guess these marine types just know a Sea Devil when they see one, as in their last appearance. Vorshak also knows what Bulic is talking about when he's told "the Sea Devils are everywhere". He could easily have gone "Don't worry, it's just the DTs! You're hallucinating, there aren't any devils there..."

58) It's probably a goof, but the way Tarpok and Scibus seem to have their picnic hamper and then not have it suggests they put it down at one point and forgot about and had to go back for it like Aldo and Royce in Warriors' Gate. Almost as amusing is Sauvix, being told that the Sea Devils and Myrka are almost at the bridge, stops and goes "Whoa! Then the outcome... is DOUBLY... certain!" and looks as if he's going to give Ichtar a big hug and scream, "DUDE, I AM SO FUCKING WASTED RIGHT NOW!!!"

59) I still don't get why you have to cover your eyes to make a wish. But there is something creepy about the way the Doctor literally fries the Myrka's brain inside its skull and its body keeps twitching and jerking in agony. Of course, that was probably one of the actors high off the glue fumes doing the funky chicken and with no idea what's going on - but the sight is one of an animal in agony as Tegan asks "Is it dead?" and the Doctor brutally grunts "Very!" Had this been a Pertwee story, he probably would have eulogized the Myrka who was, like Aggador, just a wild animal used as a weapon against its will and not inherently evil. Still, at least this way we don't have a scene where the Doctor hypnotizes the Myrka with the TARDIS key and it ends up humping his leg happily in the last scene...

60) Is Vorshak a moron when he assumes that Nilson is just criminally negligent and incompetent rather than an outright enemy agent? He really seems to believe that Nilson had just forgotten to check on the most important thing on the base after he asked for it to be given to him? That he didn't hear Maddox trashing the very next room and brutally murdering Karina? Is this more evidence brainwashed Western Bloc soldiers lose their iniative and imagination? They instantly achieve a Mexican standoff when the Doctor pulls out a gun, but when Nilson does they all bend like human palm trees instead of giving him an instant lead transfusion. "Don’t take it too hard, Commander. Like you, we were only doing our duty," Nilson says, and it's hard not to notice he did it a lot better than Vorshak has - he's got the disc, crippled the base, and only the random factors of the Doctor and an alien invasion stop him. He should get his own series. Wait, he did - Survivors. Ironically, he died in that show from a stupidly-avoidable accident there, too.

61) Another grizzly detail - when the Doctor uses the UV light on Nilson, he covers his eyes and in the shadow you can see his eyes vanish in a red glow as they burn out. Frankly, seeing the competent, unrepentant fanatic blindly and mutely stumbling around in agony, wordlessly shooting in the wrong direction is nasty. Hard not to think of his death at Sauvix's claws as putting him out of his misery. And the Doctor deliberately blinds and cripples an enemy, the nice Fifth Doctor. If the Sixth Doctor did that, we'd probably be up in arms - though Sixie would probably have very casually done it, shot off a witty one-liner and chided Peri for getting kidnapped while Nilson was sobbing on the ground, clawing at the remains of his face.

62) Either way, had Nilson just left Tegan behind he probably would have escaped and then the Eastern Bloc (who, it turns out, have known where SeaBase 4 is all the time, so the radio silence issue was a complete waste of freaking time) would have been able to nuke the base, ending the threat to the world. At the least that would have meant the Silurians would have had to cooperate with the Doctor to deal with the common threat before they could unleash MAD, and possibly prevented the bloodbath. Mind you, Nilson's threat to Tegan was a bit feeble - did anyone believe he was going to let her live after he murdered two harmless teenagers for getting in his way?

63) The thing about warriors, of course, is they have a warriors' code and I love the detail of the Sea Devils never harming unarmed civilians is kept from their original story. If you have a weapon and try to fight them, they will kill you instantly, but if you are helpless and do not pose a threat, they'll just lock you up. Sauvix instantly shoots Nilson for attacking them but for all his menacing "YOUR TURN!!" at the cliffhanger, he just ushers them into a room. Similarly, Bulic and Turlough survive the same way by dropping their guns and surrendering and Ichtar dryly comments that if Vorshak's men weren't fighting back, the Sea Devils wouldn't keep killing them (Vorshak pleads for a chance for them to surrender after three hours of ordering them to die in wave after wave, Zap Brannigan style). Notably the only time a Sea Devil threatens an unarmed person is when Sauvix is directly ordered by his leader to find and kill the Doctor, and even then he is clearly uncomfortable and looks for an excuse not to do it. It's really hard not to be sympathetic for the cute Ninja Turtles who are showing more honor and practicality than the stupid humans who have not only started this Cold War but brainwashed themselves to keep it going.

64) "What's this?" "A ventilation shaft." It feels like some metatextual homage to the cliches as laid down by the first base-under-siege story, The Tenth Planet where the male companion was locked by the not-always-lethal monsters in a bunk room with a convenient air vent to safety. I also like that it's impossible to tell if the Sea Devil through the window is just pacing up and down while on guard or there is meant to be an endless queue of the lizards marching past.

65) "You are mistaken," says Ichtar in a bland, bored voice when the Doctor says they know each other. It's like he's weary of the fame of being part of the Silurian Triad and constantly being asked for autographs and liking facebook pages. He also uses the same tone whenever he tells people "the Myrka will deal with it" as if he's been coming up with that reply for years and just can't give a damn any more.

65) Surprisingly, the scene where Icthar recognizes the Doctor doesn't entirely screw up continuity. True, the dialogue suggests a very different version of The Silurians to the one we saw but we know K'to did basic tests on the humans captured, and the Doctor at the time was quite vocal that he was not a human being. He also made repeated attempts to reason with Okdel and Morka, and given the fact we know how well sound travels in the base (see how Baker won't shut the hell up), there's no reason to believe he wouldn't know of the Doctor. Besides, why would a stranger a century later claim to be the same person? As for knowing Ichtar as part of the noble masonic lodge of the Silurians, we know the Doctor was left to look at the Silurian wikipedia page for a while. It's only when Icthar says he once tried to work out a proper treaty (and met the Doctor at the time) that it gets wrong. He speaks of mankind attacking them twice, but that only really fits with The Sea Devils, so it suggests a missing story in between - take it as The Scales of Injustice or UNIT: The Coop where a Torchwood-wannabe group try and ruin a peace accord between mankind and homo reptilia. Either way, does anyone really care? As evidence soon proves, Ichtar might have three eyes, but he's definitely myopic about past events...

66) Tezza rewrites the scene to make it a tad clearer: "So you are the Doctor," said Icthar finally. "You betrayed us, Doctor. You have much to answer for."
"Twice I have tried in vain to make peace between your people and the human race," admitted the Doctor. "Twice I have failed, thanks to the self-destructive efforts of the extremists on both sides. Must it happen again? When we last met, your leaders were at least prepared to consider living in peace with the other inhabitants of this planet. There are vast portions of the land and of the seas that the humans will never use. At least some of your leaders agreed that there was room for both races. Why abandon such an enlightened policy now?"
"You forget, Doctor, that twice, at your urging, we offered the hand of peace to these ape-descended primitives. It will not happen again."
"But peaceful co-existence between Man and Silurian is the only way. There is no other solution."
"There is, Doctor. A final solution."

67) Silurians apparently only wage war in defense. Who the hell were they fighting considering apes were little more than seagulls on the political scale at the time? Could it be the Cybermen? (Don't knock it, when the Silurians ruled the Earth, Mondas was in orbit and the lizard folk have used cyber-conversions on the Myrka and apparently themselves, judging by their flashing lights and robotic voices - has no one else read The Steel Nursery where Mondan Silurians build cybernetic mobile assault nodes or CyberMAN out of Silurian-ape hybrids?!) Sorry. I guess this isn't actually a reason the story rocks, but it DOES make you think. Especially given the fact their Silurian battle cruiser has Cyberman guns built into it and Scibus likes yelling down the barrel at them. Which is a sight gag that most definitely rocks.

68) Scibus installs the Manipulator by lining it up with a square on a table. He really puts a lot of work to it. In fact, he seems positively OCD about it. And then, once it's lined up, he announces that "alignment is confirmed" and Icthar shouts "Good!!" because he's just so damn proud of the little guy.

69) "You'll get no help from ME, Silurian!" sneers Vorshak in a tone that suggests he's playing hard to get as Ichtar woos him over a romantic candle-lit supper. It's a very funny line, especially as the rest of the scene is the Doctor patiently explaining to the moron they can just kill him and cut his hand off, which is the kind of security flaw that was being exploited in Demolition Man and Red Dwarf in the early 90s so a century later people really should have developed an app for that.

70) "What is it about Earth people that makes them think a futile gesture is a noble one?" demands Turlough, rather unsubtly flagging up the themes of the story where Vorshak's entire MO has apparently to get the most patriotic gravestone. Even so, when he whines "If there was any chance of saving them, I'd be the first to go," we know he's actually being honest, having risked his life several times to save Tegan in this story alone. Yet Tegan's stubborn insistence to try and find the probably dead/captured Doctor is shown to be the right thing rather than Turlough's entirely sensible "let's just leg it" approach. I like it; it lacks bias.

71) The Doctor's clearly trying to think the best of the Silurians but when they use a war-dragon to barge down the front door of the base he realizes they are there for the missiles instead of a peace accord, but assumes the lizards will use them to blackmail the world. Yet Ichtar's plans involve detonating all the proton missiles and triggering a nuclear war that will (altogether now) leaving the Earth a burning cinder hanging in space. The "wiping out the apes in a sea of their own blood" part of the strategy can't be faulted, but when Ichtar starts going on about "the true life force" of this planet returning when the rest of homo reptillia are defrosted is quite clearly bollocks. Plenty of the colonies have been wiped out through continental shift and the like and if they had the technology to terraform the Earth to that degree the scaly bastards would never have gone into hibernation in the first place. The Doctor's quiet "I see" is exactly how he treats the pant-suckingly-insane Hindle. Ichtar's gone batshit deranged; but given he, like Vorshak, thought reenacting Threads for real could count as any kind of victory - are we surprised.

72) And lo, in the words of Pmavsnart the Eelnat Okadas: "Using Hexacromite gas to prevent a war would have been no moral dilemma to him, and he'd have no condemnation for the humans for suggesting it. Why are we supposed to support the Doctor's rant that the humans are pathetic savages, when Preston sacrifices her life and takes a bullet to protect the Doctor? The Doctor doesn't honour her noble sacrifice and decides to try and save Icthar, urging that the Silurian race somehow needs warmongering genocidal leaders like him who'll lead his race to destruction."

Now, let us look at the facts. As soon as the Doctor learns Ichtar's crazy plan, he pauses only to escape before saying the first thing to do is go to the chemical store where he points out the hexachromite to everyone and says he wants "something less lethal that will do the job just as well". Amazingly, neither Bulic nor Preston seem to understand this until a passing Sea Devil accidentally shoots the hexachromite and gasses himself in front of them and the Doctor has to explain YET AGAIN that their enviro-unfriendly sealant is 100% ethnic cleansing when it comes to the scales. Preston demands they use it (though she doesn't lift a damn finger to do it herself) and the Doctor is horrified that she's as bloodthirsty as Icthar, even though there's no evidence there isn't any Hexachromite-lite available that the Doctor can use.

So, to summarize - the Doctor is the one that suggests the gas in the first place, and he condemns Preston because she wants all the reptiles slaughtered in a hideously brutal way. The Doctor's "rant" is one line of dialogue where he reminds Preston that the "invaders" are, to him, just as valid and intelligent life forms. Vorshak's been a complete warmongering fuckwit, but should the Doctor use cyanide on all the humans on the base if there's an alternative? The Silurians and Sea Devils aren't pests, the Hexachromite is not something to be used lightly and Preston's flippant "kill em all" attitude is repellant. Notably, it's Turlough who points out that their hands are being forced and the greater good. Oh, and Preston doesn't take a bullet for the Doctor - she goes to shoot the Doctor before he can turn off the gas. And Sauvix kills her, as she's armed and dangerous. If Preston had been a better soldier, or just shut the fuck up and did what she was told, the Doctor would have had a chance to reason with Sauvix (OK, admittedly, that would have been difficult without some snacks and possibly a beanbag) from a position of strength. She's not nobly sacrificing herself and the whole story has, as Turlough said, proved noble gestures are selfish denial.

The moral dilemma, ultimately only comes when the Doctor realizes that there isn't another gas he can use (or at least not one he can find in time) and thus must choose between risking killing all the homo reptillia and letting war break out. So his ENTIRE moral dilemma consists of the following exchange:

TURLOUGH: What are you going to do?
TEGAN: You must decide, Doctor - billions of people could die!
DOCTOR: Yes, all right.

That's it. They realize there's no time to look for an alternative and the Doctor immediately agrees to use it. This is not the two wires in Genesis of the Daleks or using the Moment in Day of the Doctor, is it? So it's clear now that in no way an "unforgivable, self-destructive note" to start an "evil season" and it sure as hell doesn't "advocate self destructive suicidal appeasement and having a self-indulgent crisis of conscience instead of actually preventing nuclear war". And as for "Davison's Doctor told us to be a victim and to never fight back", I refer to him killing the Myrka, Nilson, wiring the reactor to blow, talking down bullies like Vorshak and Preston and also accepting the brutal truth there are days you can't have a happy ending approximately ten seconds after the countdown begins.

So, let's just move the fuck on, shall we?

72) Isn't it funny that Sauvix the stoner is the only one to notice the Doctor has left the room while all the higher lifeforms didn't notice him walking out one of two doors in complete view of the rest of the room?

73) Ichtar shows off his true moral highground to the audience but, tragically, not to the Doctor when he reveals that rather than being a noble demon forced to commit genocide for a greater good he is a foam-at-the-mouth psycho who immediately orders the Doctor murdered on sight. On the other hand, you can't say he's being stupid - both Morka and the Chief Sea Devil foolishly assumed the Time Lord escaping from them wouldn't end up anything bad, so Ichtar clearly has learned from his predecessor's mistakes. Smart guy.

74) This exchange is, in my opinion, one of the most ruthless and chilling even out of context and even Troy McClure and the nasal lizard man still makes it work. At the time, it must have made many a British citizen flinch when even Freddy Mercury's latest film clip had families flash-fried in nuclear blasts as they listened to Radio Gaga. Cool heads do not prevail and reason cannot work on the unreasonable, who will always find an excuse to press the button.

VORSHAK: You're mad...
ICHTAR: The ape primitives have developed this weaponry. We cannot be held responsible for it.
VORSHAK: Contact the heads of governments, tell them your demands! They'll listen!
ICHTAR: Your people have already had their chance.
VORSHAK: Try one more time! For pity's sake...
ICHTAR: It is too late for pity! It is much too late!

75) It's also good that Ichtar finds the set up of the base as stupid and poorly-thought out as Vorshak himself. And then tells him so. Say what you like about Eric Saward, he gave some damn good bitchy putdowns to bipedal lizards.

76) The novelization has this little summary of the shitheap world about to be blown up: "This was a particularly dangerous time in Earth’s long and stormy history. A period of maximum tension, between two colossal powers. The different warring groups and countries and philosophies had solidified into two massive groupings. There was no communication, no trust between them. Each poured out a steady stream of propaganda, blackening the other side. Worst of all, each side had come to believe in its own propaganda, to believe that the opposing Bloc was populated not by human beings much like themselves but by cold-hearted ruthless monsters. Armed satellites filled the skies, each side observing the other with constant suspicion. There were human spies too – espionage and sabotage flourished as never before. Each side had one overriding fear, that the other would come up with some advantage, some new weapon, that would make its aggressive use worthwhile. Strangely enough, the invention of the proton missile had made matters worse. In the days of the atomic stalemate there had at least been the hope that no one would be fool enough to start a war that could only end in an uninhabitable planet. Now that check was removed..."

77) Now, if you want actual scripted proof that Sauvix is off his cute turtle face and not firing on all cylinders, consider this. He walks into the chemical store and sees the Doctor and pals pumping gas into the airvents and with the natural intellect of a born leader realizes it is clearly being used to overcome lizards everywhere. So what does he do? Shout "DOCTOR! I HAVE FOUND YOU!" and then he rings up Ichtar and shouts "I HAVE FOUND THE DOCTOR!" and then hangs up, not mentioning the whole "poison gas in the air vents thing" which would have altered the entire plot. So Ichtar doesn't find out about the threat until it's too late, requiring the Doctor to go there in person and shout the truth. (And don't think Sauvix didn't notice the hexachromite, because he orders the Doctor to switch off the pump without being told about its relevance, so he obviously knew what it was - he just never bothered to tell his boss! Maybe he wanted to be all cool about it. "Yeah, the Doctor was totally going to gas us all, but I just stopped him, didn't think it worth mentioning, just a Sea Devil doing his job, ya dig?")

78) Oh, and in case anyone think that Preston's death (which is a brutal repeat of Kyle's fourth-episode-blasted-before-she-could-open-fire-after-picking-up-a-gun-for-the-first-time in Earthshock, even down to the way it's shot) is unmentioned and unmourned, it makes the Doctor more determined to ensure the missiles aren't launched and her world is not blown up. Just so we're clear, they actually show more emotion about her death than Bulic does:

TEGAN: She's dead.
DOCTOR: A waste.
TEGAN: Well, don't let her death count for nothing.
DOCTOR: No. No, I must get to the bridge.

79) The Hexachromite proves to be faster acting than the Doctor expected, meaning the reptiles will start dying before he gets a chance to negotiate. We then see Bulic for the last time as he sets up another canister - but it's unclear as to whether or not he's doing this with the Doctor's knowledge (as he believed it would take lots of gas quite a while to take effect). The book, however, pulls no punches: "Bulic checked the gauge on the gas cylinder. It was almost empty. Swiftly he uncoupled the cylinder, rolled it away, heaved a full one into place and connected it up. Bulic had little faith in the Doctor’s peacemaking efforts, and little interest in their success. As far as he was concerned the Hexachromite gas would deal with the Silurians very nicely."

80) I suppose its a deep and moving moment that Vorshak, who has been itching to set off the missiles since the very start (only held back by the computer constantly crying wolf), is left begging pathetically to the Silurians that he doesn't want to be the guy who pulls the trigger and starts the war. Except, he just yodels "I will not be responsible for the destruction of my own kind!" which is very clunky dialogue at the best of times, and is very self-pitying. Does he really think Icthar will say "Oh, jeez, man, sorry, I guess I crossed some boundaries there, hope you still respect me dude!" You know what, the stupid gimp probably does!

81) One last brilliant comedy moment is Icthar, losing all connection with reality and decides to martyr himself and everyone else. Unfortunately, everyone else is too busy dying in this noble gesture to do anything, and we end up with Icthar squawking "KILL THEM! KILL THEM!" at the Sea Devils who promptly drop dead at his feet. It's like Life of Brian where Michael Palin, finding nothing amusing in the situation, announces "I have a friend in Rome called Biggus Dickus" and all the centurians collapse in helpless laughter one by one, until Brian can just stroll out.

82) Linked to the above, Scibus death scene rivals Solow's earlier on as he starts to spin an invisible hula hoop around his waist as he sits at a table. And his "OooooooOOOoooooOhhhhhh" noises, clearly some Silurian baby talk for "Um, Ichtar, I don't feel so good..." Seriously, as he slumps face first onto the console, you could add cartoon birds circling his head and not detract from the drama at all.

83) The Doctor's desire to rescue the Silurians, in my not-at-all-humble opinion, makes perfect sense. For a start, his initial plan was to scare them into running away, not gassing them like badgers. Also, given that there will be plenty of Sea Devils still alive at that moment in the base (assuming Bulic did stop the gas), it would probably help control them with a living Silurian's authority. Also, the Doctor doesn't actually know Icthar is a total bloody psycho; just that he was so desperate to save the reptiles he chose nuclear war instead. Besides, after saving the most important Silurian on the planet, the human race will have huge kudos with homo reptillia, if not Icthar himself. At the very least seeing their beloved Triad member in a straightjacket screaming that they must wipe out Earth to save it from the apes will make them realize that he is not the political horse to back at the moment, won't they? As long as Ichtar isn't a deranged, gun-weilding nutter, there is nothing that can go wrong with this plan...

84) Upon finding out that the missile countdown has been started and WW3 is inevitable, the Doctor immediately volunteers to wire himself into the insane computer and risk his own brain trying to defuse them. Now, here's a suggestion I heard and worth repeating: imagine, if you will, that Caves of Androzani and Warriors of the Deep swapped places. Would we really hold up the Spectrox War as the height of awesome drama if it was filmed under the conditions of this story? If the titular caves were overlit and we saw more of the panto-horse Magma Beast, not to mention bits where the cast thought it were a rehearsal and not properly recorded? Hey, both stories involve a pointless grubby conflict in the future that leaves barely any survivors, poison, gas weapons and an unconvincing rubber monster eating brightly-coloured extras with guns. And this way we have the Fifth Doctor's finale as a fanwank epic of Pertwee monsters, and nobly sacrificing his life to prevent thermonuclear conflict of the permanent cold war. Is that better or worse than dying from playing with bat poop and then dropping the antitode at the last second?

85) Either way, the Doctor's selfless willingness to fry his frontal lobes to save the world (and by extension all innocent humans and Silurians contained therein) is clearly the poster of the "never cruel or cowardly, never give up, never give in" creed. It sure as hell does not come across as a "twisted allegiance to murderous genocidal reptilian thugs" which "ruins 20 years of laudable characterisation of the Doctor". Otherwise he would just have let them fire, which is what Ichtar wanted, right? Instead he's overpowered the entire invasion force with weapons he'd personally rather not have used and is now risking his life to make sure the Silurians' plan cannot be achieved. Is this he "a suckhole quisling being malevolent in his apologist sycophancy to the Silurians and refusing to stop them killing the humans out of spite"? Is attempted diplomacy "sucking up to a bunch of genocidal fanatics"? Is a story about the Doctor being the only one trying to save lives in a story full of killers "a mean-spirited, misanthropic hateful story of such contempt for the show's hero and the life-force he usually champions rather than betrays, that it gleefully trashes 20 years of past good work to build him up as an admirable, intelligent hero worth rooting for"? If it is, you probably consider yourself "a very benevolent democratic, peace-making and 'for the people' leader" who likes burning all media that contradicts your worldview. Hello! I loved you Scibus-esque logic that "For God's sake whether it's a Silurian law or not, if they're on British soil the British rule applies to them still!"

86) Another gem from the novelization about the synch-op throne: "Somehow people avoided mentioning, or even looking at it." The thing is, it's a bloody electric chair. It looks like one and the story turns on the Doctor being electrocuted in it! I dunno if this is some commentary on capital punishment, or that the man who theoretically would launch the missiles deserves to die while the man who wants to stop them being fired has to sacrifice himself. The Doctor's stolen coveralls even suggest prison fatigues. Spooky coincidence, huh?

87) In the novelization, Icthar grabs the gun and tries to shoot the Doctor to stop him aborting the missiles, but Vorshak acts as a human shield. In the TV version, Tegan and Turlough try and disarm an unnamed Silurian and the shot goes wild, and it's not confirmed that Vorshak was shot till he drops dead. Certainly it seems odd that the deadly Sea Devil weapon isn't instantly lethal for the first time ever if it was, as some claim, a cowardly shot to the back.

88) It might just be a squib in a polystyrene vest, but there's something very gross when Turlough uses a Sea Devil blaster on Ichtar at point blank range and his exo-shell bursts apart with a gunshot instead of the pretty red flash that everyone else gets. This is also the first and only time Turlough kills anyone in the program, which I feel never gets addressed enough.

89) "So many dead, thought the Doctor sadly: the traitors Nilson and Solow; Maddox, their helpless pawn, and his victim, Karina; Lieutenant Preston; all the crew members killed in the attack; and now Commander Vorshak himself. Then there were those other deaths that would always be on the Doctor’s conscience: the Sea Devil guards, and Sauvix, their leader; the Silurians Tarpok and Scibus; Icthar, their leader, last of the great Silurian Triad. Still, at least the missiles had not been launched. Mankind had not destroyed itself – not this time."

90) Vorshak's dying act is to snuggle up to Scibus' corpse. Aww. It's like all the racial tensions fade away and everyone's best friends as they die for their respective causes.

91) A visual clue that the humans were all brainwashed - after nearly having his brain burnt out by mind-altering computers, the Doctor comes out with the same eye makeup as all the human characters. Clearly guyliner disguises the labotomy scars in 2084, and Marilyn Manson may possess dark secrets.

92) "So, there should have been another way," sobs Peter Davison in a moment of acting so blisteringly intense critiquing the previous four episodes seems almost beside the point. But this proves to be Davo's own Waters of Mars-esque slippery slope. The next story has the Doctor casually tell Will Chandler that killing the villain in cold blood will save the day, "if we can't find another way". That's a huge change of policy right there, is there not? The Doctor's gone from seeing mass slaughter as the worst possible scenario to one that's a valid approach. The next time he discovers a canister of gas that will kill monsters but not human beings, he uses it without hesitation - and also throws grenades at them and watches their death throes on the scanner. His attempts to save Icthar just let the lizard try to kill him, so he shows no mercy on Sir George, or Davros or the Master. By Androzani, he will have dismissed the entire Spectrox War as nothing to do with him. At the end of the season, the Sixth Doctor will be considering letting thugs like Preston and Bulic die, and negotiating with monsters by throwing acid at their faces when they turn his offer down. This story is effectively like Journey's End, a tale that finally breaks a Doctor's spirit and changes him forever.

93) Byrne was given the guideline of remaking Earthshock but different. No one can't say he doesn't deliver, swapping the shadowy freighter for the bright SB4, the Silurians and Sea Devils for the Cybermen, the Myrka for the androids, and killing everyone except the main characters. Interestingly, both end with Jurassic-era natives being wiped out by future technology and the TARDIS crew left unable to prevent the catastrophe, triggered by escalating political tensions with faults on all sides. It's a wonder they didn't do silent credits again this time...

94) Interestingly the "everyone's dead" ending was not the work of Johnny Byrne, nor Eric Saward - who both intended the story would conclude with Preston and Bulic alive, amongst other survivors, to show that mankind had won the day. Pennant Roberts, however, thought this glamorized the concept of warfare and - with Threads and The Day After being so horrifically fashionable at the time - wanted the ending to emphasize the futility of it all with both sides dead. Significantly, Saward didn't show Bulic's death because in his mind, even a single human survivor meant that the apes won over the filthy lizards. Um, thanks Saward.

95) Is Bulic alive anyway? The novelization confirms he and other humans survived the conflict, but both "in-universe" reference books (The Monsters and His Lives And Times) depict SB4's entire crew being wiped out, so presumably Bulic was killed during the gassing - and maybe his refusal to turn off the gas earlier might have been because he was dead. And that's a good excuse, all told. Either way, the rescue teams find one of their seabases has been slaughtered and this adds more sparks to the international powderkeg. Especially as the Eastern Bloc know exactly where SB4 is and have a gunship in the area ready to nuke it at a moment's notice. So, not only is the ending a downer, it also finally sparks of WW3. With darkness like that, do we really need mood lighting in this story?

96) Seriously, though, why has no one written a sequel to this? I mean, a direct sequel! At the end of part four, the Doctor and friends are still marooned on the SeaBase with the non-functional TARDIS with the potential of both human and reptile survivors ready to continue the conflict. You think Bulic isn't going to want to use the Manipulator to ensure the Western Bloc doesn't need sync-ops any more, thus giving total superiority over the East? Or all the other goodies in the Silurian battle cruiser just waiting to be reverse-engineered outside the base? Oh, and the fact there's an East Bloc ship nearby patiently waiting to blow up the base? How long before jihads from both sides are carried out, with bands of hexachromite-weilding killers searching the caverns and chasms looking for sleeping homo reptillia to wipe out to ensure mankind's dominance? Let's be honest people, Warriors of the Deep is many things, but it aint a narrative dead end.

97) The DWM preview cannily pointed out the best thing about the story was that it had lots of monsters. It never mentioned anything about writing, directing, acting... just summarized the plot and that it would be the first proper monster story to start a season since, um... Terror of the Zygons. Fancy that. The critical reaction from fans was quite positive; it was universally-decided the plot had everything but production couldn't cash the checques the script was writing. Infamously, Gary Russell declared it "a flawless story" in DWM, and a glance at the layout shows he's not lying that the words "There's absolutely no way you could call this a" were recklessly deleted; even if you were unaware of this, you would wonder at such praise in a review full of sarcastic and bitchy commentary on the plot and acting. Sticks out like dog balls on a gnat.

98) What did the public make of Warriors of the Deep? Well, all the reaction I can find is a cartoon drawn in the Radio Times showing an adult cowering in fear on the sofa while on his knee, his daughter bravely watches the television. The daughter happily yells, "It's all right, Dad, you can look now - the Doctor's overcome his moral dilemma and zapped the monster!" Presumably viewers were craving more black-and-white kill-the-monsters-like-we-did-in-the-Fawklands entertainment after the cerebral stories of the last couple of years, and bizarrely suggests that the final line was more unwelcome to the public than the 90 minutes preceeding it.

99) Interestingly, while the ratings dipped across the story (as ratings often do), they remained pretty consistent around the seven million viewers. That's seven million people who just kept watching, even after the Myrka showed up. In fact, the ratings for Season 21 went up and up until The Twin Dilemma started and even they were acceptable till part four...

100) There's no doubting 80% of the problems with this story were forced upon it by being produced two weeks before that same 80% of the production was halfway ready. And this is because of Margaret Thatcher calling a snap election to ride out the wave of good publicity winning back the Fawklands, nuking the General Belgrano and floating atop a tide of Argy-Bargy hatred. Unsurprisingly, the Tenth Doctor grimaces in disgust at the thought of Thatcher, and never quite forgives Harriet Jones from homaging her - and why? Because Tennant is a fan, and he knows she caused this story!

101) While the story may not be brilliant - or even sub-par - it inspired countless fans to create such brilliance as Blood Heat, Bloodtide, Cold Blood, other stories with blood in the title, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, The Scales of Injustice, two types of Dapol Silurian actioin figure, the Paternoster Gang, Rob Shearman's acting career and much more. Out of its inedaquacies, countless good did come and not only is Warriors a living embodiment of "what NOT to do" it makes damn fucking sure you remember it - and more of an effort than the next two stories of the season, or several from the last.

Warriors of the Deep, I salute theee!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ode to a Smurf

Ladies and gentlemen we present for you now the lost songs of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pilates of Penance". These songs were censored at the time by Queen Victoria herself because of their intense political and revolutionary nature. We present them to you now, translated from the original html text...

When I was a lad I adored McCoy
And bought many an overpriced Dapol toy
Though of course Tom Baker was the Time Lord true
And in scarf and hat, I dressed as Doctor Who

And in scarf and hat, he dressed as Doctor Who

To see my mother recover from cancer of the breast
When it comes to Whovians I am the best

To see his mother recover from cancer of the breast
When it comes to Whovians he is the best

When McCoy ran out, the repeats began
It would be many years till we saw Paul McGann
In the meantime were season eighteen to twenty-two
Shown at four in the morning, but still it was Doctor Who

Shown at four in the morning, but still it was Doctor Who

I stayed up late to tape them, quite an excess
And of all other Whovians I am the best

He stayed up late to tape them, quite an excess
And of all other Whovians he is the best!

When the books came out, I collected them all
Starting with Witchmark at Dalek-run book stall
I only got it for the cover, the words weren't much
Nonetheless I collected the New Adventures and such

Literary escapades, eight, missing and past less
Amongst true Whovians I was not the best

I read them all, even the ones that were crap
First Sabbath than Shalka and worse mindless pap
Exodus overrated, Adventuress a chore
About a bearded Doctor marrying a whore
Then came a news the TV show was back
Written by RTD and not some old hack

Written by RTD and not some old hack

The 2005 season passed the test
And I remained a Whovian and the best

The 2005 season passed the test
And he remained a Whovian and the best

The next year left something to desire
Throw The Idiot's Lantern into the fire
But with the arrival of the bride runaway
The entrance of Donna truly saved the day
Until four knocks came at the end of time
RTD's NuWho had both reason and rhyme

RTD's NuWho had both reason and rhyme

Though Moffat as a replacement I confess
Filled with dread this Whovian more than the rest

Though Moffat as a replacement he confessed
Filled with dread this Whovian more than the rest

Thankfully proved wrong, Fnarg was great
But Fnarg-plus-one certainly did grate
With a story arc both boring and dull
A good thing Moffat decided to cull
The dreary Silence and River Song's mystery
And agree to celebrate the 50th anniversary

I had no complaints, in fact I cheer
To be Whovian when November comes here

He had no complaints, in fact he cheered
To be Whovian when November came here

When Smith went the way of those before
Replacing him with Capaldi left me unsure
A man better known for being Malcolm Tucker
Seemed wrong for the job, you stupid motherfucker

Seemed wrong for the job, you stupid motherfucker!

The scripts that were leaked left me undecided
And upon this blog my doubts were confided
Though the finished episodes were above-par
From my definition of Doctor Who they were far

From his definition of Doctor Who they were far

These troubles of mine I had to get off my chest
But I'm still a Whovian and probably the best

These troubles of his he had to get off his chest
But he's still a Whovian and probably the best

For I've read the books, seen every episode too
That exists in the archives of Doctor Who
To Big Finish I listen, TV Comic I read
I know Doctor Who in both thought and deed
After fifty years, three fifths in my eye
I feel I can judge if the show did die

He feels he can judge if the show did die

And die it did on the fields of Trenzalore
But who can blame it for coming back for more?

And die it did on the fields of Trenzalore
But who can blame it for coming back for more?

It's not Doctor Who though it claims to be
In a series of dark dramatic intensity
With adult concerns and monsters in the night
Who are unstoppable, there's no point to fight
That this show is good is obvious to see
But it don't feel like Doctor Who to me

But it don't feel like Doctor Who to he

With careful consideration and not one jest
For I am a Whovian above the rest

With careful consideration and not one jest
For he be a Whovian above the rest

I declare Deep Breath onwards NOT Doctor Who
But as it's replacement, it will certainly do
I'm surprised my opinion matter so much
To GenX proud of being out-of-touch
Unwanted on this blog and this made clear
Jokes about child abuse are not welcome here

Jokes about child abuse are not welcome here!

I've seen the show both old and new
Hence my claim that I know Doctor Who
Others disagree, good luck, fair enough
They have their own blogs on this to discuss
Unusually pointless my opinion may be
But this is my blog and dedicated to me

But this is his blog and dedicated to he!

Do you really believe you will change my mind
By posting abuse which is far from kind?
All that remains to clarify this strife
RM, shouldn't you be busy fucking your wife?

RM, shouldn't you be busy fucking your wife?

I've discussed this enough, it is time for a rest
As a Whovian I have proved myself the best. 

He's discussed this enough, it is time for a rest
As a Whovian he has proved himself the best.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"So, you escaped from [insert-location]!"

Well, it's Doctor Who Day - and, typically, the ABC are celebrating by showing the wrong episode - and how better to celebrate than with a tedious list of fanwankery and theories? Given Moffat's public announcement that when Missy returns there will be absolutely no explanation of how she survived in best Ainley fashion, we have to wonder - what else has that gloss covered over?

From the top...

Master: Richard E Grant/the Magister
Last Seen: blasted to an unknown point in time and space by Omega, wearing the Doctor's body
Next Seen: no idea, but it's presumably to explain how he went evil and hated the Doctor.
Explanation: n/a. Maybe he was an avatar of the Great Intelligence?

Master: Roger Delgado/Koschei
Last Seen: Wishing he was as cool as the War Chief
Next Seen: Presumably being as cool as the War Chief


Master: unknown/Magnus
Last Seen: pissed off the Doctor ruined his bid for glory and birds
Next Seen: as Edward Brayshaw calling himself the War Cheif.
Explanation: detabatable canonicity here, I suppose, given the dodgy premise of the Seventh Doctor recording this argument then playing it back to Benny (who doesn't remember anything when she actually meets the Master). But it goes to show...

Master: unknown (hints it's the Alex McQueen version)
Last Seen: trying to win the TARDIS off eBay to piss the Doctor off in the 21st Century
Next Seen: as someone more evil
Explanation: the First Doctor has no surprise someone called steam_r14 is trying to buy a police box when dr_who, but given it's just an excuse for him to take Ian and Barbara on a road trip through America, they might actually be friends at this point.


Master: Roger Delgado/Koschei
Last Seen: gone totally evil and being sucked into a black hole, unable to escape because his TARDIS is in a time-loop that never lets him press the button to escape.
Next Seen: Terror of the Autons, I guess.
Explanation: apparently Koschei escapes but it takes his entire regenerative cycle (even though his face is the same - maybe he kept some severed limbs around). I say "apparently" as I've never actually read this written down, it's just something all the encyclopedias say. It's not in the book itself.

Master: unclear - Jamie doesn't recognize him, but this is Season 6b
Last Seen: being a git
Next Seen: in proper continuity
Explanation: so, the Master tries to get rid of the Second Doctor and Jamie by tricking them into using the Necromonicon to take them to Ryleh the city of Cthulu. It doesn't work. We don't care.


Master: Edward Brayshaw/The War Chief
Last Seen: screaming like a girl as he's used as target practice by the War Lord's gimps, and then tidily shoved to stage left a minute before the Time Lords arrive.
Next Seen: Timewyrm: Exodus.
Explanation: because, apparently the War Lord was so amazed that the War Chief had survived the execution, he managed to arrange the body to be taken onto a hitherto-unmentioned spaceship with an unseen crew to take it back to the alien planet - rather than the SIDRAT the War Lord himself was using to get there in the middle of an armed revolt, and entire during half-a-second he was out of camera view, and the Time Lords never actually spotted him. So the War Chief regenerated into a walking tholidomide spider with a white beard and vowed to stay alongside the aliens even after they were time-looped out of existence and the War Lord himself was erased from existence, but his identical son totally remembered the whole thing and decided the best approach was to EXACTLY THE SAME PLAN, WITHOUT VARIATION... actually, you know what, I just can't even summarize it. Let alone the fact the War Chief was a nice guy betrayed by Borusa's political crusade many, many centuries before Borusa even got involved in politics! GOD DAMN IT!!

You know what, I need to turn to Chris McKeon's fanfiction to try and even comprehend this...

Master: Edmund Bailey/the old guy with the beard running Mdm Tussaud's from Spearhead in Space
Last Seen: burning alive in an exploding SIDRAT
Next Seen: leaving Earth in his TARDIS
Explanation: so, you see, after getting blown up in that nuclear explosion in Germany, the War Chief regenerated, was captured by the Time Lords, was imprisoned on Shada, escaped with a spare SIDRAT thanks to the CIA, followed the Doctor to Earth, hid in the waxworks as the curator, tried to con the Doctor into letting him steal the TARDIS, but the SIDRAT exploded and he regenerated again...

...seriously, isn't it so much easier to ignore Exodus? Isn't it?

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: plotting out the Barry Letts era
Next Seen: in the Barry Letts era
Explanation: none required, it's just one of those "Master in Season 7" stories we all love.


Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: driving off in a stolen coach (not his TARDIS)
Next Seen: one year later as a highly-established international scientist/ordinary telephone engineer
Explanation: um, apparently he set all the Keller Machine stuff up, it stalled, and he went back to the Autons for this story.


Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: driving off in a stolen van a few metres from a thermonuclear explosion
Next Seen: prank-calling the Doctor from the safety of his TARDIS.
Explanation: um, just that he escaped and he's being a real bitch about it.

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: driving off in a limo in front of the UNIT family
Next Seen: being slightly less smug
Explanation: who cares?

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: running into his TARDIS to escape the time-loop (see The Dark Path)
Next Seen: as an Adjudicator called Martin
Explanation: even the Brigadier is savvy enough to realize he escaped.

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: escaping in his TARDIS.
Next Seen: as a vicar called Victor Magister
Explanation: um, kind of up there on screen, really.

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: being booed by small children as he is arrested by UNIT
Next Seen: in jail
Explanation: the Doctor apparently convinced the authorities that executing a Time Lord would be really bad karma (that's assumed, all that's stated is the Doctor ensured that the Master got a cushy cell at the taxpayer's expense).

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: in a cell
Next Seen: in a cell
Explanation: he doesn't get out of the damn cell, of course! Jeez, some people.

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: being recaptured by UNIT
Next Seen: back in a cell
Explanation: continuity must be adhered to, but seriously. Even the Joker has a better escape rate, and he actually likes being in jail!

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: um... er... he's never actually seen, tbh...
Next Seen: ...give me a second...
Explanation: The idea is that the Master, possibly in the future, zips back along the Doctor's timeline using the Glasshouse/C19/Torchwood/Forge to undermine UNIT and corrupt established history. So he may not actually be trying to escape prison, for once. But he does put a bullet through Dodo's brain, proving beyond all doubt that he is a magnificent shot.

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: being recaptured by UNIT
Next Seen: back in a cell
Explanation: See the above. God dammit.

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: back in his cell
Next Seen: in a different cell
Explanation: for crying out loud!

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: stealing a hovercraft
Next Seen: killing hitchhikers, fleeing to Devil's End and escaping in his TARDIS.
Explanation: one of the less-annoying parts of The Eight Doctors, really.

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: accidentally being sealed in a monster-filled hell dimension with no way out
Next Seen: not being in a monster-filled hell dimension
Explanation: none. Presumably Torchwood let him out doing something stupid.

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: running away from his disco-time-machine before it explodes
Next Seen: doing something else
Explanation: who needs one? The Doctor is surprised when Jo even thinks the Master might have been killed in the short-circuit-disco-time-machine explosion.

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: Sulking in his TARDIS after failing to get into UNIT HQ.
Next Seen: Getting into UNIT HQ.
Explanation: Well, I guess it proves that changing tactics can work. You notice that on TV, the Master only infiltrates UNIT HQ once but in all the spin-offs he practically lives there?

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: frozen motionless by a god from outside reality and prisoner of UNIT
Next Seen: unfrozen and at liberty.
Explanation: none whatsoever, which is galling as ignoring both his paralysis and his incarceration is a bit odd. Presumably he unfroze and legged it, but still...

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: escaping in his TARDIS from his lamest scheme ever
Next Seen: coming up with a better plan
Explanation: amazingly, this story has the Master running an American Idol style show where people sing 21st century pop songs BORING.

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: escaping a time loop in his TARDIS (he must seriously get sick of that)
Next Seen: still free
Explanation: any required?

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: trapped in his TARDIS with a swarm of flash-eating dragon spores
Next Seen: not eaten by flesh-eating dragons
Explanation: none, but presumably he just opened the TARDIS doors and flushed the spores out into space before they could eat him. It was pretty easy to do.

Master: Roger Delgado (though all of them appear, even Missy)
Last Seen: no idea.
Next Seen: back on TV.
Explanation: never been arsed to read it.

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: escaping in his TARDIS thanks to Kronos
Next Seen: avoiding the UNIT era
Explanation: one might imagine that the mightiest of all Chronovores ensured that the Master's freedom kept him away from Earth, but those damned spin-offs render the ending even MORE pointless than ever!

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: eating a Chinese takeaway
Next Seen: avoiding the UNIT era and Iris Wildthyme
Explanation: there's a pantomime genie pretending to be the Master for some reason. This is one of the few Iris adventures I actually like, so further analysis is rather self-defeating.


Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: shooting the Doctor (the original cut had him run away like a girly man)
Next Seen: off camera
Explanation: Well, I guess none is needed. Though Mad Larry pointed out, the finished episode has the Master gone and Jo holding his gun, hinting that she shot the bastard through his head. This would definitely fit in with many other Master deaths due to female companions.

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: marooned in Ancient Britain with a broken TARDIS and some pissed-off Vikings
Next Seen: like nothing had ever happened
Explanation: well, if the Monk could do it, why not the Master?

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: Um, not at all.
Next Seen: Again!
Explanation: he doesn't appear, but he gives some whacky drugs to an evil civil servant. Just for the hell of it. Either that or he didn't want UNIT's funding cut because he wasn't considered a proper threat.


Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: being marched off by redcoats to be shot as a Highlander spy in 1746
Next Seen: alive
Explanation: the Doctor is confident the Master will sweet-talk his way out of things, but it's unclear how the Master escapes from Culloden given the story insists he has no TARDIS - though he does apparently have access to another time machine. But the Doctor also has access to it. I'll just say the Master escapes by mugging the Time Lords who drop Jamie off and nicking their TARDIS.

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: in a pierside stall that was smashed to pieces by a runaway train and flung into the sea
Next Seen: not in TV Comic, that's fer sure.
Explanation: given the Master saw the danger coming, literally, he possibly lunged out of the way and survived like the Doctor and Blind Joe. Or maybe he did another same-face regeneration. Who knows?

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: legging it when the Brigadier goes psychotic with punk music
Next Seen: giving reality itself a bit of a break
Explanation: it's a less embarrassing scheme than Hidden Talent.

Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: stealing gizmos from the Land of Fiction
Next Seen: outside the Land of Fiction, because he thought staying there would suck.
Explanation: none really needed.


Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: escaping Earth in his TARDIS
Next Seen: elsewhere
Explanation: none, as this adventure is one the Doctor has absolutely no clue that the Master is involved but this suggests that the Delgado Master was still at large during the Fourth Doctor era, rather than perishing in the Third. Unless he's just crossing timelines for shits and giggles.


Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: trapped on the other side of a dimensional wormhole, on the verge of regeneration, before being engulfed in a massive firestorm and dismissed by the Doctor as proper dead
Next Seen: quite possibly burnt to a crisp and played by Peter Pratt, but who can be sure?
Explanation: It could be a prequel to The Deadly Assassin, but we all know how Gatiss has a distaste for any and all fanwank...


Master: Roger Delgado
Last Seen: after thinking he's killed her granddad, Susan mind-rapes the Master, shoots him with the TCE, leaving him a burnt skeleton, then steals his TARDIS and leaves him to die on Terserus
Next Seen: hypnotizing Goth when he visits Terserus
Explanation: Well, it's all up there and on paper is quite a next and logical take. Until you read it and dear god it's awful. You know, Curse of Fatal Death achieves the same thing and funnier, too. Alas, it's the only official explanation on offer, even though Big Finish have completely decanonized it. Twice.


Master: unknown/Madrigor
Last Seen: falling over
Next Seen: possibly never
Explanation: a truly bizarre last-minute rewrite hastily has the Master changed into Madrigor, an exiled and charismatic Time Lord with an army of robots on an artificial planet. The Doctor and Sarah say hello, go back to the TARDIS, the Doctor takes off and this somehow defeats everyone. Literally, there is no explanation for what happened: The TARDIS lurched and bumped and outside everything spun in a myriad of colours, and then Madrigor and Lunargov III were no more and the TARDIS was once more earthbound. So, er, maybe we'll just move on, shall we?


Master: Peter Pratt
Last Seen: falling down a bottomless chasm
Next Seen: transformed into a more fleshy zombie and leaving in the TARDIS laughing
Explanation: the Doctor hints that the Master absorbed enough energy to partially-regenerate, presumably triggered by the fall... but how the hell did the new Master find his way back up to his TARDIS? Why didn't he keep the Sash and Rod of Rassilon? And why does he go mwahahahah to make sure Spandrel and Engin know about his evil survival, but not the Doctor? Jeez...


Master: Geoffrey Beevers
Last Seen: trapped in his TARDIS with a deranged android copy of himself
Next Seen: sans deranged android copy of himself
Explanation: Alan Barnes wrote it.


Master: Geoffrey Beevers
Last Seen: running away in the TARDIS
Next Seen: no better off
Explanation: given the suicidal stupidity of some Masters, at least this one was smart enough to leg it when Leela prepared to open a can of whupass...


Master: Geoffrey Beevers
Last Seen: about to be time-rammed by eight Doctors at once
Next Seen: alive
Explanation: well, the first Doctor found a way to reset history so the Master escaped. Had the other seven decided, they would have nuked the mother.

Master: William Squire/The Shadow
Last Seen: being blown up on his cave-filled space station
Next Seen: falling out of reality
Explanation: the novelization explains the Shadow was one of the Doctor's oldest enemies forged into another dimensional wraith by the Black Guardian so they could wait the thousands of years necessary to capture the Sixth Segment. The writers originally had him as the Master, and he is a skull-faced hypnotist out to cause chaos. Lance Parkin was convinced, anyway.


Master: Geoffrey Beevers
Last Seen: being electrocuted as the Source eats him alive and Melkur explodes
Next Seen: well enough to steal Tremas body
Explanation: none, especially as it's established the Source is powerful enough to trap the Master for twenty years despite having two TARDISes to hand.


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: escaping the Pharos Project in his TARDIS
Next Seen: kidnapping Adric, who he's barely met, and wiring him up to a home-build BTC-generator web in his own black Zero Room in the space of time it takes to regenerate.
Explanation: even with a time machine, that is fast!


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: deranged and being lynched by townsfolk before said town disintegrated
Next Seen: none the worse for wear - better actually
Explanation: presumably when Castrovalva broke up, the townsfolk did too and he was able to flee in his TARDIS which was ruined in the process. His nervous breakdown could have been down to the recursive occlusion or maybe pretending to be so bloody nice for five hundred years...

Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: trying and failing to recreate his body out of the dimensional ruins of Castrovalva
Next Seen: having obviously succeeded
Explanation: actually, it does this for me. Thank you, Shitsu Tonka.


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: in an out-of-control TARDIS full of pissed-off Xeraphin
Next Seen: over it
Explanation: surprisingly, not even Craig Hinton explained that. It seems the godlike Xeraphin were quite happy to leave the Master alone and unsupervised on Xeraphas and even somehow got Kamelion to help him escape. Somehow.


Master: supposed be Anthony Ainley but clearly Roger Delgado
Last Seen: in an out-of-control plane full of androids flying into a time rift in the Bermuda Triangle
Next Seen: sans plane and androids (bar, maybe, Kamelion)
Explanation: no idea how to fit this into continuity without overwriting Time-Flight but is anyone really campaigning serial 6C? Either way, the Doctor knows the Master is quite capable of escaping the Bermuda Triangle as it was part of his original evil scheme to start with.


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: running away from a medieval castle once the Doctor exposes his villainy
Next Seen: doing the exact same damn thing, really
Explanation: it seems the Master's got obsessed with sweettalking his way into olde English kings as a personal advisor and then trying to corrupt history for no real reason. And if at first you don't succeed with King Arthur, do it with King John - and this time use a silver android that can't walk!


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: fleeing in a TCE-irradiated TARDIS
Next Seen: with a working TARDIS, unshrunk
Explanation: if we assume Planet of Fire is the Master's next story, where he's shrunk and needs remote controls to steer the TARDIS, there is no problem. It also backs up the theory at the time he let the Doctor steal Kamelion so there'd be a spy in his camp.

Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: trapped in a collapsing, decompressing TARDIS about to be crushed/spaced/exploded
Next Seen: in something canonical
Explanation: in one of the many, many, MANY moments the author uses to tell us what utter shit Doctor Who is, it has both the Doctor and the Master assume he will survive this no matter how lethal it is, and no one gives a shit about the explanation. Worse, this is one of the more positive moments in the story.


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: banished from the Death Zone by Rassilon
Next Seen: shrunk
Explanation: arguably Rassilon was keeping the Master alive for the Time War, but the next story shows that maybe Flavia and the Time Lords actually did punish him.

Master: Geoffrey Beevers
Last Seen: stripped of Tremas's corpse by the Time Lords and left to rot, finally left at the Doctor's mercy
Next Seen: he's got Tremas' body back
Explanation: presumably the Doctor was such a softie he found a way to restore the Master back to life, which might also be why he decided to let the bastard burn the next time they met.


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: burning to nothing with the Doctor refusing to save him
Next Seen: fine and dandy
Explanation: "I'm indestructible, the whole universe knows that!" The easiest explanation is that he was at that moment time-scooped back to Gallifrey for The Five Doctors, which happens next in the Master's continuity. On the other hand...


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: being hog-tied to a velociraptor
Next Seen: teaming up with the Rani
Explanation: well, it turns out the Master was burned to a crisp in the previous story and he wears a rubber mask to look normal. During the course of the story, he bathes in the fountain of youth and is perfectly healed but this whole adventure is forgotten by the Doctor and Peri thanks to Viyrans.


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: laughing his ass off
Next Seen: as not a ghost
Explanation: the idea is the Master is actually psychically prank-calling the dying Doctor and trying to interfere with the regeneration process, but Kamelion's ghost defeats him at the last second (as he was the one who set up the relay allowing the Master to do this in the first place).


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: about to be either eaten by a T-Rex or kicked in the bollocks until dead by the Rani
Next Seen: solo, uneaten, with his codpiece uncompromised.
Explanation: word of god (or at least Pip-and-Jane) says that the T-Rex grew too big, snapped its neck on the console room ceiling and then ditched the Rani and stole most of her TARDIS. Had Yellow Fever And How To Cure It gone ahead, though...


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: vanishing in a home-made time machine which is then destroyed
Next Seen: marooned on a planet at the end of the universe
Explanation: actually, it fits together quite well. What's bizarre is the backstory, where the Doctor stole the Master's TARDIS and deliberately stranded him in 1990s England. And then was surprised that he got up to mischief. And the Time Lords, learning of the chaos the Master causes, sends the Doctor to fix it but neglects to mention that the Master might be involved. Morons.


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: being clubed to death, Rodney-King-style, but a bunch of angry space cultists he betrayed
Next Seen: in completely different circumstances and without mention
Explanation: rather disappointing, given that the stories were in the same annual by the same author. We can only assumed that when the Doctor and Peri left, the Master stopped pretending and slaughtered each and every one of those stupid pricks. As to how he gets off the planet, well...


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: trying to assassinate the Royal Family in the best spirit of Ben Elton
Next Seen: We'll never know.
Explanation: it seems the whole radio-controlled-public-assassins was just a trick to lure the Doctor and Peri into the Master's trap before he flung them out of reality, Sapphire-and-Steel-style, which curiously coincided with both the show and the annuals' cancellation.


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: trapped with Sabalom Glitz in limbo as the Matrix exploded
Next Seen: stroking his pussy
Explanation: according to Mission: Impractical, when the Time Lords released them, the Master did a runner. Which is as good an explanation as ever, I guess. The novelization of Survival has him caught by the Cheetahs while they were hunting through an asteroid belt while he was trying to spark a war.


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: being eaten by the Chronovores
Next Seen: pretending it never happened.
Explanation: Can't blame him.


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: absolutely insane on a planet that suddenly exploded
Next Seen: elsewhere and Cheetah-virus free
Explanation: the original script had him teleport back to Earth alongside the Doctor, the same twist was planned to open the very first New Adventure. The simplest explanation is that he teleported back to his own TARDIS in the asteroid belt he left it - but see First Frontier.


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: as a were-cheetah eating babies pretending to run a retirment home
Next Seen: no longer worried about the cheetah virus, it seems
Explanation: I assume it worked, eventually. Or something.


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: taking over a TV station with some brainwashed hyenas.
Next Seen: I've totally lost count.
Explanation: presumably he decided he was better than a Michael Grade metaphor and went to do something else, like get a slightly better bunch of DNA-obsessed aliens to grow him a new body in the New Adventures range.

Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: being defeated by Adam fucking Mitchell
Next Seen: in the Determinant, judging by his fashion

Explanation: I dunno. Presumably the writers had some kind of blackmail that they could get it published.


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: being sucked into his private hell dimension with lots of monsters
Next Seen: being let out because the Doctor's a real softy
Explanation: Actually, I dunno if that's how the game ends. My version corrupted, but those are the video clips that get played eventually, so...


Master: Geoffrey Beevers
Last Seen: suffering a telekinetic bitchslap in an out of control TARDIS
Next Seen: somehow gets his Tremas body back...
Explanation: no idea. Absolutely no idea. Completely contradicts the next story, so we have to put it down to cracks in time or the Time War or Kroton rebooting the glory or...


Master: Anthony Ainley
Last Seen: being shot by Ace
Next Seen: regenerating into Basil Rathbone with a beard
Explanation: well, the Master apparently teleported to 1950s America and was still infected with the Cheetah Virus. He tricked the Tzun into giving him nanites that, when Ace shot him, triggered his transformation into a brand new Time Lord with a full set of regenerations


Master: Basil Rathbone with a beard
Last Seen: punking Sarah, K9 and Mike Yates and reenacting the Princess Bride swordfights
Next Seen: trying to ruin Benny's wedding
Explanation: turns out that Tzun DNA was shite and his new body was falling apart, so he goes to Cheldon Boniface to find a cure because the dormouse of Rassilon or something is buried there


Master: one on from Basil Rathbone with a beard
Last Seen: as the priest at Benny's wedding having a real strop about the panto elements of the plot
Next Seen: as Gordon Tipple
Explanation: the Master created a blob monster to fix him but all it did was make the Brigadier even more awesome. Possibly Gordon Tipple is this incarnation in the first place. It's not like anyone's got a good look at him, is it...


Master: Geoffrey Beevers
Last Seen: contemplating whether to turn evil or let his girlfriend die
Next Seen: in the TV Movie?
Explanation: well, a more direct ending was vetoed by lawyers. But given the whole thing is a story told by the Doctor about events that were reset more than once to someone who doesn't exist, the whole thing could be deemed uncanonical for all it matters. Notably, the Master's one scene has him ridicule the entire premise of the plot like Graham Chapman in Monty Python.


Master: Gordon Tipple
Last Seen: chained up in a crash helmet and then blown up
Next Seen: as a glob of snot/cgi cobra
Explanation: well, I've seen plenty but officially there's not much explanation. The Eight Doctors says the Master swallowed a morphant and then let the Daleks capture him in order to try and take over the Doctor's body, while The Fallen says the morphant is a completely different thing from Skaro the Master had access to, while Mastermind has the Master captured by the Daleks not on Skaro but the Valley of the Kings in the 1000BC The novelization says it's all a complete fluke and the Master had no plan. As if!
Master: Eric Roberts
Last Seen: being swallowed by the Eye of Harmony
Next Seen: alive
Explanation: the TARDIS kept the Master's consciousness alive for some reason (accounts differ).

Master: Brayshaw/Delgado/Ainley/Tipple
Last Seen: fitting into continuity
Next Seen: leaving, for some reason, a boobytrap that gives the Doctor amnesia instead of killing him.
Explanation: none whatsoever. And given the kicking Terrance Dicks delivers to the TV Movie on the first page, this is really rather hypocritical.

Master: some black guy, the "Preacher" incarnation
Last Seen: as a crazy man with scary eyes
Next Seen: the power behind the throne of the reforged human race
Explanation: well, after being flushed out of the TARDIS, an ancient multiversal alien found him in the vortex and mistook him for a warrior to fight for the Glory (ie, the god that runs all the multiverse). The Master's soul was poured into a dead black guy, but he found himself able to travel to any time or place as long as the TARDIS was there, as it had been infected by his goo. A whole issue of DWM was dedicated to explaining it, which is about as far from Saward's script-edits as you can get...

Master: some black guy, the "Preacher" incarnation
Last Seen: being scrubbed out of reality by Kroton's multiversal reboot
Next Seen: take your pick
Explanation: the Master swears he will survive in some form in the new universe. The Doctor agrees.

Master: Eric Roberts
Last Seen: as a spooky green glow freed from the Eye of Harmony
Next Seen: as Geoffrey Beevers
Explanation: see below.

Master: Geoffrey Beevers
Last Seen: fleeing with his TARDIS from the UNIT vault
Next Seen: not sure, to be honest.
Explanation: for some reason the ghost-like Master can take over any human host, but they quickly wither into a copy of his Melkur incarnation and not even the Master is sure why. He hops from body to body for a few centuries, only to be captured by UNIT, who have also collected his TARDIS. He steals it and sets off to do things, but it's not clear which, if any continuity is next.

Master: "the Man in the Rosette"
Last Seen: being too good to be at the Doctor's wedding
Next Seen: in an "unexpected capacity"
Explanation: given the book is an unreliable secondary historical document, I dunno why I'm wasting my time on it, really. The book sucks.

Master: Derek Jacobi
Last Seen: on a screen in a room the Doctor never goes except this one time
Next Seen: in Scream of the Shalka
Explanation: apparently it's just a residue of the Master in the TARDIS telepathic circuits; the real one legged it a long time ago. And Shalka's not canon. So, yeah.

Master: Alex McQueen
Last Seen: travelling back to Terserus to retry to take over reality
Next Seen: as the Time Lords' bitch in the Time War
Explanation: stated outright by the Master he was resurrected to fight the Time War, he immediately skipped work and tried to screw things up. However, eventually things got bad enough for him to join them in the effort against the Daleks and the Eminence - mainly so he could score moral points off the Doctor.

Master: Alex McQueen
Last Seen: kidnapping Molly to use as a weapon against the Eminence
Next Seen: using a kidnapped Molly as a weapon against the Eminence
Explanation: pretty straightforward, all told.

Master: Derek Jacobi
Last Seen: running from the Cruciform, and Rassilon wasn't impressed
Next Seen: opening a fob watch at the end of the universe
Explanation: yadda yadda chameleon arch yadda reverted to a human child in the Silver Devastation yadda yadda nicknamed "professor" yadda Malcasairo yadda Chantho yadda Futurekind yadda perception filter yadda regenerates into Lord Flashheart yadda...

Master: John Simm
Last Seen: killing a pal of Vivien Rook who's onto him
Next Seen: killing Vivien Rook who's onto him
Explanation: wow, NuWho really cares about this stuff! There's hardly any work to do!

Master: John Simm
Last Seen: ruling the Earth
Next Seen: still ruling the Earth
Explanation: wow, consistency!

Master: John Simm
Last Seen: setting fire to Japan.
Next Seen: getting even worse.
Explanation: none required. Despite only appearing for two pages in the whole book, he easily justifies his role as the biggest bad in NuWho.

Master: John Simm
Last Seen: bleeding to death from a gunshot wound, then being burned to ash
Next Seen: alive
Explanation: actually, a pretty decent one that - alas - should have got its own Doctor-lite episode than a single scene, which practically mugs the viewer. The Master invented a cult that would sacrifice itself to reincarnate his soul into a brand new Time Lord body in Harold Saxon's shape, because his political career required that face. They also kept Lucy alive and around because she bore his biometric imprint - or, as RTD explains, they shagged like bunnies on energy drinks and there was a veritable goldmine of DNA on her.

Master: John Simm
Last Seen: dissolving into a skeleton as he slaughtered Rassilon, before being sucked into Gallifrey minutes before it was due to be destroyed inside the Time Lock
Next Seen: as that crazy bitch from Green Wing
Explanation: well, given that the Doctors saved Gallifrey that's the hardest bit solved. The Time Lords en masse were far from behind Rassilon's ultracidal tendencies, so defeating him would have earned the Master some kudos, especially as by saving the Tenth Doctor he ensured the Eleventh would exist and work out how to save Gallifrey. Given he was indebted to the Doctor's mother, it's not hard to guess they used their Time Lord magics to heal the Master (which was why he agreed to bring them back in the first place) and in the process required a new body. So, the only question is why did he turn into a woman? Well, given the lack of the drums, the unofficial end of their conflict, it's quite possible the Master wanted to become a woman as part of a fresh start. Let us also remember the sheer amount of times women, usually the Doctor's companions, have kicked his arse. Indeed, given how broken the Master's body was, it's possible a gender-swap was needed to fix it. Either way, the Mistress then escaped Gallifrey during the siege of Trenzalore while the rest of the Time Lords waited for the all clear. Phew.

Master: Michelle Gomez
Last Seen: being vaporized by Cyber-Brigadier
Next Seen: still alive, as Moffat promises, and quite probably with the same face
Explanation: she's clearly anticipated something, given the way she moves specifically between those two graves. Plus, being shot by a Cyber weapon was a legitimate risk, and given she invented these Cybermen, it seems likely she has some back-door. In any case, the Nethersphere is still there - a Matrix segment which is designed to harvest dead minds, particularly Time Lord minds, and also has the ability to turn those dead minds into real living people again. In fact, this is the one time where you'd have to jump through hoops to leave her dead instead of the other way round...

And, last but not least...

Master: Sam Kisgart
Last Seen: shouting at David Tennant on the shores of Hong Kong as WW3 breaks out around them
Next Seen: hasn't been
Explanation: the Master here was exiled on Earth after his TARDIS was lost with Axos, and then spent thirty years as a communist defector Ke Le (Keller) using mind parasites for the Chinese Army. When the parasites stopped working, he went to find another parasite only to be killed in a plane crash and regenerate from Roger Delgado to Mark Gatiss. When the Chinese blew up all the mind parasites, the Ke Le divisions of suicidal brainwashed soldiers went insane and plunged Earth into chaos. It's never stated, but given the Doctor plans to return to Earth, it could be he went back and sorted it out. And given the Master wasn't actually in the line of fire, he could easily have escaped.

Master: Derek Jacobi
Last Seen: as a pouting android butler who has to put up with the REG Doctor
Next Seen: being switched off for being so bloody annoying in the only other Shalkaverse story
Explanation: top-secret behind-the-scenes material reveals that Gallifrey was destroyed, but the Doctor was able to upload the entire Time Lord race into the Matrix... except his wife, who proper died. Miserably, he uploaded the Master into an android body and kept him as a butler with a loose facemask who often drops into soup during dinner parties and, you know, they seriously thought this would be a good idea for a proper series of Doctor Who? Seriously?

Master: Jonathan Pryce
Last Seen: getting to second base with Joanna Lumbley's female Doctor
Next Seen: probably getting a whole lot further
Explanation: a good shagging'd probably do him the world of good. I mean, all it needs is one of them to become a woman and all is forgiven...