Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Fella - Series Two


Simon and I continue our nonsenical marathon watch of NuWho with series two...


The Players - 



The Christmas Invasion


So, a Christmas special. Do you think Doctor Who has the sort of formula that can handle a Christmas special?

Yes, I think so. Having a Christmas special is sort of like the crème de la crème of TV. Once you’ve secured a spot on Christmas Day you know you’re onto a winner.

Was this Christmassy enough? Do you think Christmas Specials have to be about Christmas or are things like One Foot in the Algarve & Only Fools and Horses’ Miami Twice the way to go?

Doctor Who is primarily a kid’s show, well family show…so yeah I think it should be about Christmas.

But how many stories can you make out of that theme? They’ve done umm…seven specials now.

Yeah, that was evident by the latest that was just shite. But this one was very good.

How did you find David Tennant in his first story?

In contrast to Christopher Eccleston he had a whole different energy to him – and more energy on the whole. Much more positive, much more upbeat and therefore much more appealing for me.

He’s a mad Doctor Who fan, you know.

I’ll try not to hold that against him. Just from this story alone I could tell that Tennant was enjoying himself whereas for Eccleston (even when he was good) it felt like it was a bit of a chore. It’s such a contrast that you cannot help but like him. Why would we want that miserable git back? Eccleston wouldn’t have sat around and had Christmas dinner or gave Jackie a big cuddle and he went off so happy with Rose. I know it has to be different because it’s a completely different Doctor but this was all positive.

Did he have a good build and entrance?

He slept through most of it! Even asleep he was better than Eccleston! The build up was good because we were waiting for him to appear and have his moment.

So he wasn’t in two third of the episode so were the characters that were there strong enough to fill the gap?

Yeah, you don’t really notice that he’s not there because the story was good. You’ve got the Tyler family who all play off each other very well and as I’ve said before they are my favourite family. Now they’ve gelled you can see how well they were all cast.

What about the psychotic Christmas tree?

That was really funny!

I saw you smirking!

Well I feel sorry for Jackie because the last time Jackie lost her table when Rose and the Doctor were wrestling with the plastic arm and this time a Christmas tree slices through it and then tears through a wall!

What about the aliens this week? Any good?

Alright…they filled up some time while they were on the screen but they weren’t the best ones we’ve seen and I know we’ll see better later. I don’t think they should come back. They were adequate. I like their methods…taking everybody to the edge of buildings because that would certainly stop you from taking an action. You wouldn’t want 2 billion people committing suicide at the same time!

What do you think if a probe came back from Mars and went ‘arggggh!’ like that?

How is that question? I’m too knackered for that question.

Oh go on…

Well probably if it was that close there would be mass panic.

And if a spaceship came overhead and blocked out the sun in London?

Oh get off. I want normal questions! Why is it always London?

What you mean rather than Spain? Or Antarctica?

There’s no bugger there! I think they should head off to other areas of the planet. London is all very interesting but there are far more exciting places in the world to visit! They have been to America and Germany.

Germany?

Let’s Kill Hitler…

Saddo. Oh and in Journey’s End. Remember ‘Exterminaren!’

Saddo. Germany, America and England. That hardly constitutes the whole planet.

(I want to point out Italy in Fires of Pompeii and the many montages around the world in Army of Ghosts & Last of the Time Lords but I may get no dinner tomorrow if I push it)

What about Harriet Jones?

I like her, she needed to come back. Great actress and I think she was very right to do what she did at the end. He’s not around all the time and he slept for the first half of the episode when people did die. Why shouldn’t we defend the planet? When did it come to a point when we couldn’t make our own choices and had to go through the high and mighty Doctor for permission? I understand why he said what he said but she is right that he isn’t always around and bad stuff happens and we have to defend ourselves in those instances. I noticed a few references to Torchwood as well. Now the interest is seeded for the next season. Clever. Who are they and why did they destroy that ship.

Did you like how it twisted like that at the end with Harriet Jones going ‘my Doctor’ and then it turning sour?

Yeah it all went a bit tits up, didn’t it? But it was still a happy ending for most of them.

It was a happy ending for you – you saw another room of the TARDIS! (One of Simon’s common complaints about the new series is how they never venture out of the console room these days. I try and explain that that is because most of the interesting is going on outside the main door but he usually throws something at me)

Yeah, bloody thing! Infinite spaces and working on infinite dimensions and all you ever get to see is one room!

You see corridors in The Doctor’s Wife!

Ooh, corridors what a treat.

They have to build these sets and they are expensive!

Well build them and re-use them. I’m doing an audible headshake here.

How’s Rose this week?

She was a bit shit this week, wasn’t she? A bit useless. To be fair nobody really knew what to do without the Doctor –

Jackie did!

Huh?

She made him a cup of tea, which was what he needed. That’s your philosophy in life!

Yeah put the kettle on and everything will be fine. I think I would be the ideal assistant for David Tennant’s Doctor because I would have made a cup of tea straight away. We’d have had this story wrapped up in ten minutes.

Did you like the TARDIS landing?

I did find it very peculiar that nobody wanted to find what the hell that was making all that noise. It crashed into a Royal Mail van, there were people on the other side of the road watching and nobody came over to ask what the hell was happening.

Maybe somebody thought it was a Jackass stunt.

The point still stands. What if you were sleeping in one of those rooms?

You think about these things way too much. It’s just supposed to be fun.

If you’re not going to think it through, don’t do it.

What about the Gherkin?

What about all the glass over London! How awesome if you worked for Autoglass! You could get the aliens to pop back every couple of years to smash all the windows again.

Are you happy for the Doctor and Rose to go off at the end of the episode? Do you think they will make a good team?

I can’t wait to see what they get up to. I never said that about Eccleston! I’m glad we had this story to set up the relationship for the next season; it was quite useful in that respect. They never did that again, did they?

Kind of. In The Runaway Bride to set up Donna before she returned in Partners in Crime.

But they didn’t know that at the time.

True. What was your favourite moment?

(Bad Jackie impression) ‘Im gonna get killed by a Christmas tree!’ That was really funny!

Do you like UNIT returning?

You only saw one of them!

No you saw the whole organisation in the Tower of London.

Was that what that was?

What programme were you watching?

Is this the first time we’ve seen them?

No you saw them in Aliens of London.

They haven’t properly explained what they do.

Well they did sort of in Aliens of London. ‘Alien experts, a good lot’ or something.

I need to go to bed so I’m wrapping this up. I give this one four out of five…why does it lose it a point? I’m not sure but it wasn’t a five. It was really good but not one of the best episodes. The Sycorax weren’t brilliant but aside from that pretty good. More Christmas specials like this please.

**** out of *****


New Earth

Finally we’ve left contemporary London for somewhere a bit more exotic. Surely this makes you happy?

Yeah I’m pleased that we’re finally off Earth but it’s hardly a great stretch of the imagination to visit New Earth! Besides it never felt like an alien world, they were just sat on a field in Cardiff somewhere. I want an alien planet, a proper alien environment. It just wasn’t weird enough. Apart from the walking cats. The effects were good though; I’ll give you that.

Do you think it stands up to scrutiny of comparison with American science fiction effects?

Definitely, I thought that was great job for the BBC! Better than something like Stargate, which just went to the same forest week after week.

Cassandra is back…

You cannot not like Zoe Wanamaker, can you? I just love her in everything that she has done – especially her role in Poirot. She’s a good actress and she’s very amusing in this role. She really helped with the laughs here; it was like she was always tipping you the wink.

It’s quite a jokey episode, isn’t it? Is that a good way to start a series?

It’s an odd thing because I do think it is a good thing to have a large dose of humour because it helps to separate the old Doctor from the new one. Some of the things in this episode you couldn’t see Christopher Eccleston doing like jumping down the lift shaft and playing Cassandra so camp!

Are you trying to suggest that Christopher Eccleston is not heroic or camp as the Doctor?

He’s just not that sort of actor. I wouldn’t wave an entertainer banner over him. I always imagine him playing a bad guy.

But you’re talking about somebody who is no longer in the series. Was there anything you didn’t like about it?

It didn’t really feel like it was about anything or bring on the season with a bang. I think the only reason this episode exists is to bring back Cassandra for another showing. Perhaps the point of it was to inject more humour to introduce a completely different style of Doctor. For a first episode you would think that it would be a bit more memorable. I suppose the Face of Boe was there with his prophecies of the future too.

Don’t you think there was a thin commentary on testing on animals? The nuns treat these people the same way some companies treat animals like disposable objects to find their products.

I guess you could see that if you wanted to but that was hardly dwelt upon and it didn’t really go anywhere. The answer to all of these dilemmas seems to be the Doctor railing ‘I am the Doctor and this will stop!’ which is hardly an exploration. In fact I remember with David Tennant that he uses that line a lot and it gets more and more exaggerated each time. Some standalone episodes really work well and this one was funny in spots but it didn’t have that something special. It was just one to watch once.

I guess the beginning of season three is a bit more dramatic with a hospital being taken to the moon.

Yeah and you’ve got…oh gosh what are they called. Don’t tell me! Aaahh…don’t tell me, don’t tell me, don’t tell me…

Space rhinos…

I know! What are they called…?

The Shadow Proclamation!

Nope. A platoon on the moon…

The Judoon! And then you had the Adipose with people being turned into fat and the return of Donna. They both had something. Maybe I’m not giving this one enough credit.

You did seem to enjoy. I can usually sense if you are enjoying an episode or not and you did laugh a fair bit.

Yeah it was funny but its like…oh how can I describe it? If you were going to put on an episode of Doctor Who to watch I don’t think your first choice would ever be New Earth.

I would never choose New Earth. Do you like David Tennant’s Doctor?

I prefer his style definitely. He’s funnier, I think he’s more dynamic, his chemistry with Rose is much better…but it can be a bit much in some places: ‘New New Doctor…’ – but generally it is more relaxed and enjoyable. Like if you compare the Doctor’s relationship with Donna this one doesn’t compare because there is none of that slushy stuff. Donna wouldn’t have any of it.

I always find it is better to show and not tell and they were telling you how much they love being together at the beginning when it would be far more effective to show it – which I thought they did in some parts of the episode. Did you like Billie Piper in this?

Different, certainly.

Do you rate her as an actress?

I really loved it when she had Cassandra in her because she spoke properly!

Clearly they have been listening to you because they did mention about 20 times how common and chavvy she is!

I know, finally someone takes me seriously!

Did you like the cat aliens?

Do you know I can’t think what other aliens we have seen? Help me out hon…

Autons…

Boe!

The Tree people, The Gelth…

(Simon pulls a face like he has chewed on something bad…)

The Jagrafess…

(Another, even worse, face…)

But these were the first original make up jobbies since the Tree People so what did you think?

Owning two cats myself –

Yes I do know that…

- I think they were very well done. Quite authentic looking.

There were Cat People in the classic series, you know. In a McCoy story.

No they were tigers, weren’t they?

Cheetahs. But they’re still cats!

Cheetahs on horseback? Probably why it was cancelled…

What?

Well that and McCoy, obviously.

Poor McCoy.

And Aldridge.

It’s Aldred.

Doesn’t matter the point still stands. Anyway we digress…

Did you like the last scene where Cassandra met herself?

Its was quite touching, that scene. I didn’t really understand it though because surely she would remember Chip when she met him in the future? It was really nicely played though but a bit illogical.

Sum up New Earth then.

If this had been his first story it would have been a tremendous disappointment. I’m really glad they took the time to introduce him in The Christmas Invasion otherwise it might have been a disaster. A complete disaaaaaster. Who says that?

Craig Revel from Strictly Come Dancing.

Oh yeah. Disaaaaaster daah-ling. It was humorous, disposable and perhaps a little forgettable. It won’t go into the Doctor Who Hall of Fame.

Better than Father’s Day?

The TV being off would be better than Father’s Day. I’m still bitter about losing that hour. Three stars for this one. If it wasn’t as funny as it was it might have been a two.

*** out of *****


Tooth and Claw

What were your overall impressions of this particular episode?

This was very good for a standalone episode, had a few bits at the end which helps to set up some bits just like Bad Wolf but if you are more savvy you can pick up a strong thread that is running through this season. Because we had Bad Wolf last year I’m now looking out for little hints in each episode as to what this years arc might be. But the setting of Torchwood was quite blatant and I liked it. Torchwood was mentioned in The Christmas Invasion so we know what they are capable of so this tying in with that was very nice. Queen Victoria was also very well done and really well cast. And even the Wolf was really good. The only thing I thought was a bit out of place was the ninjas! I thought that was a bit weird. ‘Lets have monks and Queen Victoria and a werewolf…and ninjas!’

Do you think they were trying to make an impression in the first scene?

Possibly because those red outfits were very striking. But they were ninja monks! This is England not Japan! Scottish ninja monks!

Remember what I said about them being told to jazz up the historicals? Told to inject a bit more action into the historical stories.

Action, yes. But Scottish ninja monks, no. Besides there was plenty of actions anyway! Its like setting up a story in Roman times and Del Boy turning up…oh wait.

I mentioned during the episode that I thought it looked really classy. Would you agree?

Seeing as the whole thing was set inside one house it was pretty damn good. The wolf effect was really done.

Do you think that had to be CGI?

Yeah because a mask would have looked silly. You would have fluid movements because it would be a guy inside a hairy suit trying to act scary!

Like the Taran Wood Beast?

Who?

Or Aggedor, monster of Peladon!

What are you talking about?

Never mind. X-Files and Buffy both did costumes for werewolves and they both looks dreadful but they both had bigger budgets!

When was there a wolf in The X-Files?

In season one. Something about American Indians…it wasn’t very good.

Bear in mind thought that CGI was only in its infancy when those two shows were on.

Good point. Do you think that was pushing the horror as far as it could go in terms of Doctor Who?

A lot of it was implied in the more graphic scenes. You didn’t get to see the man mutilated when he was eaten up.

Would adding the blood make it more scary?

I think you can get away with the implication far more than actually showing the guts strewn about. The transformation was quite nasty. They probably tried to push it a bit but kids love things like this. They love watching horror films! Kids now watch things I wouldn’t have been allowed to watch at their age.

You said you liked how Queen Victoria was portrayed…

Its like the old Downtown Abbey style of ‘Ma’am’ and ‘My Lady’ and servants, Lords and Ladies…I love all that stuff. Perhaps they should put a werewolf into Downtown Abbey – I think it might be a surprise hit!

It should be ridiculous, Queen Victoria and a werewolf!

No it really worked, it had real atmosphere but in the sense of a period drama and in the sense of being a werewolf tale. It was very well done, I thought.

And David and Billie?

They have remarkably good chemistry, those two. You wouldn’t think this was one of their first episodes together. I loved Queen Victoria’s speech at the end when she said they treat it all like a game and one day it will all come crashing down. Good foreshadowing. Mind you did they know she was leaving? Mind you its not one to pick up on this early in the season.

I thought David Tennant was brilliant in this.

He fits into that role really well. You get the impression that he wants to be here unlike Christopher Eccleston who acted as though this was a summer job and he wanted to get back to some serious acting as soon as possible. Tennant really gets involved. Eccleston probably would have defended the wolf and let it go about doing what comes naturally to it. ‘Because I can…’

I wanted to ask you about the stories set back in time. Do you like them?

Historicals, yeah they’re some of my favourites.

Do you think it has to include a famous historical figure or event?

You have to include somebody or something that everybody knows because otherwise there is no point in doing a historical. You could set it anywhere. It could just be a modern day story that you happen to have set in the past.

The Empty Child had no historical figures in it.

But it was set in the middle of the Second World War! One of the most important historical events ever.

What about Human Nature?

Are you daft hon? That was the First World War! If this story didn’t have Queen Victoria in it you may have well have set it in modern times because nothing would have to change. Historicals are more interesting when you deal with a character with a legend or an event with a myth. Something you can explore and explain.

Like Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius erupting. Maybe that’s why the Vampires of Venice felt as though it was lacking… What about a historical period that people don’t know so much about but is still really interesting?

I don’t know. I think there should be something there you can relate to.

Actually looking across the board there is usually either an event or a character that you would have heard of. You can’t just go…oh hang on I was about to say you can’t just set a story with a bunch of cavemen but they did that in the very first story!

Cavemen?

Yeah the very first one! We did watch it all the way through once…

Was that the one with all the skulls and Susan screaming all the time?

Yeah.

I decline to comment.

But after that it was Marco Polo. Who you should know about if you were educated well. Do you know who he is?

He’s…Italian?

Yeah he is – from Venice! How did you know that?

Because of Marco Polo the airport.

Hmm… After that it was the French Revolution and then Romans and then the Crusaders…

I don’t think a story about cavemen is particularly exciting though. Susan really got on my nerves but then she always does. But on the whole I do think there should be something in there to relate to. Its really good because now kids might want to find out more about Queen Victoria. It gives the parents a chance to teach their kids more about history.

That’s true. It was one of the original remits of Doctor Who when it started. To entertain and educate. Okay sum this one up and your stars please…

Really good episode apart from the ninja nuns at the beginning?

Nuns?

Monks! Sorry monks…

Ninja nuns? That would have been brilliant!

It could have been awkward because we might have seen their foo-foos when they were doing their moves. It looked really good, Billie and David where good so I’m going to give this one a four. Or am I…? Maybe four and a half. I did really enjoy it. Yeah, four and half with points lost only for the ninja monks.

Sarah Jane is next and I’m so excited!

Because Sarah Jane is in it will automatically get a three before it even starts.

What about K.9?

Oh yeah, it automatically gets a four.

Rose may annoy you in that one.

If only she would speak properly! ‘Dose ya?’ ‘What d’you think?’

SHE’S A COCKNEY!

‘Do – you- think!’ Dew is a completely different word!

She is a cockerel!’

Do you is two words!

Lets compare to Martha and Donna when they come along.

They speak perfect English. ‘Copyright Donna Noble…’

We’ll see…

**** and a half out of *****

School Reunion

Lets start with the big event in this episode – the return of Sarah Jane. What do you think of bridging the gap between the old series and the new.

Sarah Jane Smith was an obvious choice to bring back because she is one of the memorable companions of the old series. I can’t out my finger on why she is so memorable – I cannot answer that and its bugging me. There were a couple of others who I would have loved to have seen back such as Jamie (Simon fancies the arse off him) and Romana II.

There were two very good reasons why they couldn’t be brought back. He had his memory wiped and she was left in another universe.

Yeah but my point is she wasn’t the only memorable companion from the old series. Maybe its because she was so independent.

Its interesting because when you look at her original character spec it is quite clichéd – a feminist investigative reporter! I think it is the actress that brought a lot to it. Its like we said last year; do you think somebody can come along and bring something to a dodgy role and make it special?

Definitely, Elisabeth Sladen is Sarah Jane Smith. You couldn’t recast her. I don’t think anybody else could have been as successful in the role.

Sacrilege darling! Recast Sarah Jane – are you insane? Do you think it worked by bringing somebody back and them asking the questions about being dumped back on Earth. Seeing the how they cope after they leave the Doctor?

Yeah that was a great new angle because you never see these people again. He drops them off and then we are expected to forget about them and fall in love with somebody else. Doctor Who might be unique with the frequency that it does that. I don’t think any of this would matter so much to a new viewer. It wouldn’t have as greater an impact if I hadn’t seen all the old series.

But what about Rose though? That’s somebody who you have got attached to as a new viewer and she gets a glance into the future to see what might be in store for her.

Maybe for the adults but kids don’t really care. They are quite fickle like that. A companion leaves and they might be upset that night but then the next companion comes along and its ‘Rose who now?’

Do you think that Russell T Davies has brought a new side of the show for the adults to enjoy then? I think there is a higher percentage of women watching Doctor Who than ever before and this relationship angle might have something to do with that.

It was certainly a good episode for Rose to grow because she is naturally a jealous person – maybe she knows how Mickey felt now when she ran off with the Doctor! They couldn’t have moved her character if they hadn’t have moved her through this episode. I remember she was far less vocal about the Doctor’s relationship with Madame de Pompadour so she is learning. I don’t even know how old she is supposed to be.

I think she’s a teenager. 18, maybe?

You’ve got to be careful because they are in love with each other.

You can’t be in love at 18?

Yes, but he’s 900 odd!

Going back to Sarah Jane briefly…do you understand what her appeal is?

I really like her but I don’t know why!

That’s what Elisabeth Sladen used to say. She was gobsmacked that so many people had such affection for the character because she couldn’t see it herself!

The character is strong and the actress is fantastic so there’s a lot of appeal there already. But she has something. I can’t put my finger on it. She’s held for the last 30 years plus so there must be something special there. When she joined in the old series she followed Jo Grant, didn’t she?

Yup.

And they were such opposites that she was like a massive breath of fresh air. Jo Grant wasn’t necessarily a thinker whereas Sarah was and could give the Doctor a run for his money. What was that one we watched the other week with the spiders?

Planet of the Spiders?

(Shakes head) Those b movie titles! She wasn’t even with the Doctor in the first episode – she was off investigating all on her own. Maybe that’s where her appeal lies. She doesn’t need him and she has her own life. Despite what she says here about being left behind here she is again investigating on her own. Not many of the other companions had a life outside of the confines of the show. I think I’ve just put my finger on it! Plus Elisabeth Sladen is a babe.

Do you think as a result of this then she has found herself again? Is it a good spring board for her own series?

Definitely, she’s remembered what she does best and now she’s gone off to get on with it. I’m not sure how much time passes between this and The Sarah Jane Adventures.

I think it must be about a year. She finds Mr Smith and sets him up and that takes place over a few months. I remember what you were like with The Sarah Jane Adventures. You started off a bit resistant and saying things like ‘its alright for a kids show’ but come series four you were lapping it up!

It wore me down with its charms. It was very kiddie friendly but I thought it was very good.

What about K.9?

I love K.9!

A lot of people don’t.

Oh let me guess…the fans.

Some of them…they find him too childish.

That’s because they don’t have any souls. That’s the bit they find childish? A man travelling through time and space in a tiny box…and it’s the metal dog they find childish? They need to get some perspective! I think the trouble is that some of the fans (he is patting my head whilst he says this…) think that this show is some kind of symbolic metaphor for real life and look at it in far too much depth. It’s a fun, watchable show! Its supposed to be an entertaining TV programme and a robot dog is fun and entertaining!

Isn’t it a bit tacky?

Why is it tacky???

I don’t think that! I’m simply offering an opposing viewpoint!

Doctor Who is full of robots…Cybermen and Daleks – okay I know there is something inside Daleks –

Do the quote.

Do I have to?

Yep or no cuppa after this.

‘A living bubbling lump of hate’ (Simon does his best Terrance Dicks impression by putting on a lisp and losing his neck in his shoulders!). But my point is there are absurdities throughout Doctor Who – in McCoy’s time there was a liquorice allsorts man but I bet nobody had a problem with that!

I think some found it silly but yeah the Kandyman seems to get a pass.

So what is the problem with a robot dog in a science fiction programme?

You are a dog lover.

It doesn’t matter the points stands. Besides if it was a robot cat it wouldn’t give a shit about anyone! I don’t think its silly at all. He’s a nice character K.9.

You’d get on well with Lalla Ward. You have to admire the simplicity and longevity of that design, don’t you?

Retro! You’ve got to love a bit of retro! I think if most people saw K.9 they would know of it even if they don’t know where it comes from. Like the TARDIS and the Daleks.

Did you like the ending where they went off together?

You were crying you big Jessie! Yeah it was lovely for Sarah Jane to get closure and head of with a spanking new K.9. It would have been a great way to end her story if they had to. Mind you she’s the only character they have ever given closure to. Or is she the only character worth giving closure to?

I don’t know – they brought back Jo in her series. But you can’t do it too much, repeat that exercise over and over again or it would lose its magic.

I get that but there are a lot of companions with loose ends. Old Tegan moanyface left on bad terms.

We never even saw Ace leave…

What a shame. Lets just say she was eaten by one of those tiger people. Nyssa hung around in a leper colony. Jamie and Zoe had their memories wiped and were sent home. Romana was left in…what was it called? E-Space!

You realise by having this knowledge you are approaching being a fan! You knew nothing about Doctor Who beyond ‘he was a man in a box’ when you met me. Bestill my heart!

Jo Grant went up the Amazon… Obviously the producer and the writer loved her character because she was the character chosen to have this special spot and come back and have closure.

Did you think this was an episode of Buffy – Anthony Head, set in a school…?

Nobody was sucking blood. I thought Anthony Head was really good, he carried himself very well. If he was a normal person you would think he was a bit of a snob because he carried himself as though he was better than everyone else. He had presence. When he was on the screen you have to watch him. But I found the kids absolutely terrible. The thing I found peculiar was that halfway through that stupid girl was going ‘ooh break time’s over early, isn’t it great!’ but then at the end when the school was blown up all the kids were suddenly back to normal again straight away despite the fact they have been eating this oil for ages. Mickey pulled out a plug and they are all cured? That was naff and bit too simple even for me!

Can’t you let that go because there was so much other stuff going on?

No because that kid was annoying! Otherwise I thought the story was put together very well. I loved the idea of being able to play with the building blocks of the universe. Isn’t there a theory about a maths equation that can break down the meaning of existence or something?

Would you change anything if you had that power?

Not really. The problem is its like decorating a house. You could decorate it over and over and over but its still the same old house. Just because you can it doesn’t mean you should. It made quite a profound statement about things having a time and a place.

Is that what you would do then if you had control of the entire universe? Re-decorate a room?

It was a metaphor, you skanky British titty vampire (Simon has been watching too much Dexter of late and Deb is rubbing off on him!). If you wanted one specific event undone you probably wouldn’t be able to resist. Slippery slope and all that.

What would you undo?

McCoy and Aldridge!

Its Aldred!

Maybe that’s a bit harsh. No I saw the Fenric story, my choice stands!

What about the monsters this week.

For CGI they were bloody good! They never looked superimposed and they moved fluidly like real creatures would. I loved the idea of cherry picking the best of the races they have conquered. You know the more I think about it there was a lot of good ideas in this one.

What about Mickey?

He needs a haircut. What about Rose’s reaction to him coming along at the end – what a bitch! Actually that is inconsistent because before she asked him to come along with them.

Yeah but she’s got the new hottie Doctor now. When she was with Eccleston she didn’t care. She thought she could use him as a punch bag.

(At this point Simon’s mother calls and I flip out for about two minutes! Somehow…somehow she always manages to phone when we are recording these on his phone!)

Your bloody mother!

Don’t put that in… I’m curious with Mickey why they chose to do it now and not earlier but hey ho.

It makes me laugh when people talk about Amy and Rory like they were the first couple in the TARDIS. There was Ian and Barbara, Jamie and Victoria, Sarah and Harry…

They’re not really a couple though, are they?

Amy and Rory?

No, Mickey and Rose.

They are!

If I were Mickey she would be a gonna. She dumped him and went off with another bloke! She’ll get the same treatment eventually. The Doctor never explained to Rose how he wouldn’t do to her what he did to his other companions but he will. Like all players he’s got his charming answers for the current beau.

He does spend a whole season mooning after her.

Then he meets Donna and its like ‘Rose who now?’ I tell you what was funny – when Rose and Sarah were bitching about the monsters! I’m glad they put that to bed quickly but it was funny.

Lots going on then in this one…Sarah Jane, K.9, Anthony Head, building blocks of the universe…

…irritating children. Yeah this was a good introduction of Sarah Jane to a new audience and it showed you what happens after you leave him. Now Mickey is coming along so there is going to be a whole new dynamic.

Do you think seeing Sarah Jane that kids might be tempted to go back and see some of her old stuff?

It depends how inquisitive the kid is. This obviously looks great and its punchy but the old stories take their time to build up their stories. Compared to what they are brining out today the old stories cannot measure up at least in terms of how they look.

You don’t give kids enough credit if you think they are that shallow.

Wait a minute… I’m saying this is faster, punchier storytelling. Easily digested and enjoyed. 45 minutes and its done. Some of those old stories were six, seven or eight half an hours long! That’s the length of several films! Some of those monsters and sets were....ummm

Erm excuse me they had a shit budget back then! Those sets and effects were marvellous for the time and resources they had! Take any of your modern day favourites and see if they could pull off anything half as good with the same budget and time. Don’t you think it might quite exciting for a kid to get into this show and then learn there are forty years worth of adventures still to see?

It depends whether you have a life or not.

You’re far too hard on kids.

Not really! They can’t go two minutes without looking at their phones!

Neither can you!

I can!

You always look at your phone during programmes!

No.

Yes.

No.

Yes. You looked at your phone at the beginning of this episode and I told you to put it away.

I was reading the news. I’ve forgotten what I was saying. It depends what you are looking for in a show. If you want something to watch on a Saturday night before the reality TV sets in that’s fine but if you’re after a series with history and lots of back episodes then that’s okay too. It caters for both. And I give it four and a half out of five. It only lost a half point because the annoying kids but Sarah Jane and K.9 were brilliant.

****half out of *****

The Girl in the Fireplace

A romance for the Doctor. Is that something that you think the show should pursue?

Yeah I don’t see why not. Is there a reason why it shouldn’t be acceptable?

There wasn’t really a strong example in the whole of the classic series aside from Hartnell’s flirtatious dalliance in The Aztecs.

There isn’t a problem with it though. I don’t see why anybody should object. He’s a hot blooded male just like anybody else. Do the fans not like this one then?

Quite the opposite. When Doctor Who Magazine did its last massive poll it was in the top 20, I remember that.

Oh right.

I think it was more of an issue the first time it happened in the TV Movie when he snogged Grace.

Why?

I just think they had to get used to it.

Everybody needs a bit of ‘lovin. This is hardly explicit.

Could you tell this was a Steven Moffatt episode?

I saw who wrote it at the start but if I hadn’t, yes because this was full of his trademarks. I’m not really an expert in his writing but there was the way he hopped about in time and the dialogue was very nice – that’s what really points me to a Moffatt episode. Madame de Pompadour’s language was exquisite.

Would you have minded if she was a companion?

It would be wonderful. A companion that can speak properly with manners and who can carry herself well! A lady in time and space. It would be lovely if they had somebody from the past as a companion because it would give a new perspective on everything.

It does throw up the difficulty of everybody having to explain everything all the time.

How did they cope with Jamie, then?

People did for about four stories and then it was assumed that he knew everything by then. It wasn’t especially realistic but they stopped otherwise it would have become tedious.

They obviously had good chemistry because I recall reading they shacked up at the time.

It didn’t last for very long though. Do you think this was a case of Tom Baker and Lalla Ward where they let their powerful relationship on screen bleed into their real lives?

A brief infatuation, nothing wrong with that.

Is there something you’re trying to tell me.

Oh please. Then he moved on to his daughter!

Do you think the last three episodes in particular (of which you were very keen) have shown what Doctor Who can offer – historical, present day and future stories.

I think it has a unique format in that respect but as a time travelling show it is expected to have such a differing feel to each episode. They can do any story that they want. If you turn on 90210 you know what you’re going to get and The West Wing and Stargate. With Doctor Who its like a lottery, you could literally get anything from werewolves to schools to Madame de Pompadour! The only thing that is annoying is this bollocks of always setting it on the Earth. They need to diversify that a bit more because it can go anywhere in space as well as time. They are too obsessed with contemporary Earth when they should focus a lot more on history if they are going to be on Earth because they are usually the most interesting. This was good because it jumped between the past and the future and left modern day Earth behind completely.

How would you describe the tone of this episode?

A romance definitely. A time travel romance. A great episode.

How’s Mickey faring as a companion?

I don’t get why he always blames the Doctor and has this ‘woe is me’ attitude. He needs to stop blaming everybody else and start looking after himself.

Do you think that was his character arc then? To grow up and become independent?

Oh definitely. Because he can’t go on like this forever or it would get tedious.

What about the look of the episode?

The period atmosphere was really well done. I love the elegance and the style of the era. All those costumes and chandeliers.

I don’t think they would have pulled this off quite as well in the old series. They would have had a go but parts of this looked almost cinematic. Actually they did pull off a masque ball in one story and it was done very well and in a studio too.

It looked as if this one had a lot of money spent on it. And the BBC do always head back in time and make it look very good. Its probably something that if you do your research well is easy to pull off but it still takes a lot of skill which they displayed here.

What about Sophia Myles as Madame de Pompadour?

She was a good rival for the Doctor. You know, a good central character. She certainly held her own against him and not a lot of people manage that. He mind melded with her and she took control and started listening to his thoughts.

Mind melded? This isn’t Star Trek!

It was practically the same thing! He even put his hands on her head in exactly the same way! I thought the character came across as being wise beyond her years and Sophia Myles had real presence. She reminded me a bit of Romana II in the way she was intelligent and aristocratic but also had some humour to her.

When I have spoken to Emma Bacon (a good friend of ours) she has always been a bit nonplussed about this one and finds Myles’ performance lacking.

It depends what you are looking for from a story though. If you don’t enjoy fairytale romances then this isn’t going to appeal to you. Madame de Pompadour did everything the Doctor was capable of but in a much simpler way. She had the presence but none of the gobbledegook. She doesn’t jump around and make a fuss but I would say she was every bit the main protagonist as he was. Its almost an antidote to him with her ‘keep calm and carry on because we are French!’ attitude. Maybe that’s why she’s a love it or hate it sort of character because he is so hyper active and she is so refined and controlled – it depends which you prefer.

Were the clockwork robots any good? I did notice you jump at one point.

Oh yeah when it was under the bed and it snatched outwards!

I thought they were really unusual, not your run of the mill monsters. There was some real effort that had gone into the design.

What was your favourite scene?

I really like strong female characters so I loved the bit in the ballroom when the clockwork men were going to decapitate her and she was telling everybody else to stop making such a distressing fuss! It just shows how far you have come in Doctor Who because you have someone like Susan at the beginning who screamed and squealed. Look at how empowered women are in Doctor Who now. Rose was much better here too because whilst you could tell she was uncomfortable with the Doctor’s romance she has learnt a little restrained after meeting ‘the ex’ in the last episode. It shows that she is growing as a character. I think Moffatt knows that a jealousy storyline is just annoying.

This again does contain a well known historical character.

I didn’t know who she was.

All you have to do is write her name into Google and you could find out all about her. And there was Louis the King of France.

I remember thinking halfway through what time period is this set in and wondering when the revolution was in relation to this story so again an established period does encourage you to find out more about the era. If it was just set in a manor house with a bunch of nobody aristocrats in say 1500 it wouldn’t be half as relevant as this episode.

I think from now it is the case of there being a famous historical character or event…oh know wait (I think about The Idiot’s Lantern) – oh yeah that was set around the Queen’s coronation!

Oh that was shit, that one.

Its coming up shortly.

Really? I might be absent that week.

You’ve got to take the rough with the smooth.

I don’t remember that in the contract!

There was a contract?

Get a move on. I want a cuppa. Oh hang on I’m think of the Olympics! Not the Coronation! The Olympics was the shit one. Is that this season?

I’m afraid so.

People better not read the comments on that one if they like it. To sum up this one though I thought it was a very elegant episode with very nice costumes and settings and the characters were great. Another four and a half out of five.

We’re on a roll. That’s three near perfect episodes in a row! And the Cybermen next…

Is that the next one? Ooh! And it’s a two parter! They usually do really well!

‘How will you do that…?’

‘From beyond the graaaaaave!’

*****half out of *****

Rise of the Cybermen

Cybermen or Daleks? Everybody has a favourite…

Not me.

Oh how boring.

They’re nothing like each other so how can you compare them? The Daleks are round pepperpots that float up stairs and the Cybermen are humanoid storm troopers.

What do you think is their enduring appeal considering they have come back. And back. And back… This one got around 9 million so they clearly still have something.

I don’t have an opinion.

That’s’ a first. Are you being deliberately obtuse today?

(Cheeky smile) No! They are monotonous robots, I’m not sure what you want me to say.

They’re not robots!

I don’t think having a brain inside makes any difference. As portrayed here as stomping metal storm troopers they are just robots. But the fact that there are people inside doesn’t really come across in the design so its not really very scary.

I think the idea is supposed to be that they are like mechanical zombies. A bit like the Borg but obviously the Cybermen came first.

With the Borg you can see that that is a person, you can see the face and the arm and that’s what makes it chilling. Perhaps the Cybermen should be less robot and more flesh. But the way you have jut described didn’t come across to me like that at all. They don’t look like zombies, they look like robots. I’m not saying that these Cybermen aren’t scary because they are clearly very powerful and strong and that is still frightening but I just don’t think they are scary in the way you are saying – as metal zombies.

They’re quite sturdy these designs.

Yeah quite plush. They’re like the art deco of Cybermen. I remember watching the Tomb of the Cybermen with you and they used to have like willy heads, didn’t they?

(Pause whilst I laugh)

It wasn’t a willy! It was a brain!

Was that the Cyberleader?

Cyber Controller.

Geek. Why did he look like a giant nob? Was it supposed to be a statement that all leaders are nobs?

I think it was a design flaw.

I think there is a definite similarity between the Tomb of the Cybermen Cyber Controller and David Cameron.

Did you think they did a good job of building up the anticipation of seeing them for the first time?

Well we knew what they were so the build up didn’t really matter for us because we knew what was coming.

I don’t know about that. For a fan the build up is half of the fun!

Okay maybe for you lot…but for a new audience it must have been really exciting because you just get glimpses and shadows of them and so they must be wondering what on Earth they are.

Unless they saw that weeks cover of the Radio Times.

I think the Cybermen are more effective as an army you know. Like a whole bunch of them in formation charging towards you. I thought they were pretty scary at the end because there were so many and they were all the same and unstoppable. That’s scary.

Do you think this was effective as ‘Genesis of the Cybermen’ story?

It was really odd because this seems to imply that the Cybermen come from an alternative universe but we know that they don’t. The kids watching this for the first time are all going to think that the Cybermen don’t exist in our universe which doesn’t make any sense to me because they do. There was no need for them to do it on an alternative universe really because it then causes problems later on when you want to bring them back. The Doctor said that its impossible to enter an alternative universe so how are they going to come back? They could have set on our Earth and it would have been far more effective. Or if not Earth than on a colony in outer space perhaps where one Cybermen is discovered and they build more.

That’s Power of the Daleks!

What now?

Nothing, go on.

No I’m done. I just think the whole alternative universe thing has been done to death and if you are going to have a go then it needs to be better than a few balloons in the air.

Did you like the idea of the Cybermen being an ‘upgrade?’ That’s quite a modern twist on them don’t you think?

That’s a good point actually. Kids are always hanging on the latest upgrade on their phones so this did tie into that vibe quite nicely.

It was quite modish.

What does that mean? Why do you do that? Use words you know I don’t understand.

You should have had a better education.

(You can actually hear the bang as the remote is flung at my head)

What does it mean, numbnuts?

Fashionable. Up to date.

It is ridiculous with upgrades though isn’t it? Because they really take people for a ride these days. They add on a tiny extra feature and then plug as the next best thing and everybody rushes out to get it. Perhaps that should have been the next Cyberman story…they manage to convert everybody here and the next big threat is exploiting the current Cybermen by bringing out the Cyberman Plus with addition features! That could have been a biting social commentary!

Oh you’ve just reminded me of when I told that the Revisitations boxes came out and it was Doctor Who stories I already had a few extra special features thrown on. Your jaw hit the floor!

That’s exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about! Mind you turning yourselves into Cybermen as an upgrade – that would probably be a step too far for most people.

I don’t know though…the idea of those ear pods streaming information and entertainment straight into your brain – I definitely think people would be up for that and that’s just one step away.

I suppose the Cyberman thing might appeal to somebody who was dying. But then its not you afterwards, is it. They are just using your brain but all of your individuality is gone. Maybe the next generation of kids would go for it because they always seem to want something bigger and better but the people around now – my mum can’t even send a text message or at least it takes her about an hour plus three cups of tea! Its quite scary because they would be able to monitor your thoughts.

What do you mean?

Well nowadays they can use your browsing history and shopping bills to build up a picture of things and then they use that information to figure what to put online and in the shops. Imagine if they could read your thoughts directly – you could be completely manipulated at every stage of your life because they know what you want.

We’re wandering into 1984.

I don’t know if I am doing kids a disservice again or not but I don’t know if the kids watching would see all this subtext that we are talking about and understand that why having these ear pods would not be a good idea. I bet some of them are think ‘cor yes please!’ And that’s scarier than the episode itself! Kids have become the ultimate consumers now.

Do you like the idea of taking something like an upgrade, something normal and making it frightening by putting it in a sci-fi scenario is fun?

Not after this conversation! Now I’m paranoid as hell! (Laughs) They do it an awful lot though, don’t they. I’ve seen lots of that sort of thing in the old series like shop window dummies and stuff. Its not like its revolutionary in this story.

Did you think the parallel Earth was well done?

No it was a bit lame. Well it wasn’t that different. All they did was put in a curfew, some zeppelins and a President. That’s hardly a stretch of the imagination. Although they did have the evil gay counterpart that turns up in every alternative universe story in every show. But it wasn’t a necessary setting and when that is the case – why do it?

You wouldn’t have had all the Pete stuff.

That wouldn’t have been any great loss. That must have been the only reason then, surely? To bring back the actor who plays Pete? He wasn’t that great in his first episode.

No I think Russell T Davies genuinely wanted to do a ‘Genesis of the Cybermen’ story of his own.

Why though? He never felt the need to do that when he brought back the Daleks. Why couldn’t they have retold the William Hartnell story but from another location? That would have been much more interesting.

There probably would have been an uproar!

Why? That’s a pretty good idea. Copyright, Simon Harding!

Its all established history and if there had been one flaw in the continuity Ian Levine’s head would have exploded!

Who?

Remember that picture I showed you of that guy who smashed his telly when the show was cancelled?

Oh God yeah. The last sort of image Doctor Who fans need. But they could have told a clever story with David Tennant arriving and knowing the William Hartnell was elsewhere dealing with this…

In Antarctica!

…and introduced us to them that way. It could have been great, you know. They could have retold the original story in a very modern way instead of going to all this effort to rewrite their story on an alternative universe. Badly.

It does throw up that problem like you said of how to re-introduce them. The next time they turn up it is Army of Ghosts and that is them bleeding through from the alternative universe.

That was quite clever, I thought.

Then we had The Next Doctor.

Which one was that?

The one with David Morrissey.

Oh that was tripe. That stupid King Kong Cyberman! I can’t wait until we get to that one because I’m going to town! They came back in both of Matt Smith’s seasons two but they are exactly the same design! So are they the ones from this universe or the ones from our universe that happen to have nicked the design of the ones from the other universe. This is too confusing. Its stupid. There’s nothing wrong with introducing the Cybermen again because they are effective monsters but this is not a clever way to do it.

We talked in Tooth and Claw about implied violence. What did you think of that here?

There were screams and you could hear a saw drilling but you never saw anything. If I remember correctly you do see more in the next one. Needles and scissors and things…that makes the idea of becoming a Cybermen a lot scarier.

Did you like the two Mickey’s then?

That new Mickey has got a funny look on his face all the time. He looks like he has just smelt a fart but all the time. I think the idea was to show that there are two different Mickey’s but it isn’t written or acted very subtly. They’ve definitely taken it to the extremes. And that is a weird gang of people. Him, a CBBC presenter and Welsh woman! And some bloke called Gemini who we don’t even know who they are.

You do find out.

Do we? I don’t remember that. Is it a good surprise.

Meh. In amongst all of this what is David Tennant doing?

Nothing. Serving drinks.

There’s that massive idea of the TARDIS dying but they don’t really do much with it, do they?

They blow up the set and then find a light and the Doctor blows on it and hey presto it will be recharged in 24 hours. What? Why even bother if it was that easy? Plus he’s so over dramatic about every here – ‘we’ve reached the nowhere places…oh no wait it’s the Earth’ and ‘the TARDIS has died…oh no wait its alive again.’ Chill out, Doctor.

You make it sound you didn’t enjoy it at all.

I did enjoy it oddly enough but when you break it down into its different parts a lot of it is easily criticised. I thought it looked really good and the action at the end was great. I think it might have been greater than the sum of its (many) parts. I really felt for Mickey in this one too because the other two were just horrible to him.

You would think they would try and make the leads likable.

Yeah but they weren’t. Rose is so up her own arse she’s coming out of her mouth. She only ever thinks about herself until its too late. But even the Doctor was behaving selfishly here and neither of them could see how much they were hurting Mickey. But again is was kind of done half heartedly because it was another element thrown in. Maybe that was the problem with this one – they are dealing with too many individual bits so the it doesn’t flow very well. Like none of them had the time they needed to make them work.

It is only the first part though. You should reserve judgement until we’ve seen the whole thing.

Fair point. I did like the rich spoilt Jackie. You could imagine her being like that in our universe. Its not too much of a stretch if you gave her enough money. She totally got Rose at the end, didn’t she. Sticking her great honker in where it wasn’t wanted. Rose needs to butt out. I liked that bit.

What about the Cybermen’s Davros – John Lumic?

Erm yeah…

What?

He was a bit over the top. I couldn’t work out if it was a really good or really bad performance. He’s completely different as Trigger in Only Fools and Owen in Dibley so I guess it shows that he’s versatile. I’ll reserve judgement until we’ve seen it all.

He’s not in the next one much.

Even so. To sum it up then I thought it looked good and the story aspect of the upgrades and Lumic dying and wanting to survive was pretty good but there was also a lot of unnecessary bits and they seem to have gone to a parallel world just because. And that’s not good enough. Despite all the problems though I’m still going to give it four stars because the last ten minutes were really good and the ending left me wanting more so it had to be doing something right.

**** out of *****

The Age of Steel

Do you think this was a satisfactory conclusion?

Yyyyyyy….

You’re faltering.

Yes! Yeah it was a satisfactory conclusion but I didn’t rate how they won because I didn’t entirely understand it. The Doctor spieled out all that rubbish and he somehow knew that Mickey would be watching?

Actually that is a good point. What if Mickey wasn’t watching at that?

Precisely! Then he would hold his hand out for the magic phone and have egg all over his face!

So basically no is your answers.

No it was a good second half – I really liked that we saw the factory and them building the Cybermen. You’ve never seen them build Daleks.

You did once but in the sixties.

Well unfortunately I’m only 27 so I can’t quite remember that. Also if Lumic was the leader of the Cybermen and they’ve got factories all over the world then why didn’t they all just blow up when the Doctor performed his magic trick? I thought they were all linked together?

You said that you would have to wait until the second episode to rate Lumic as a character…

We didn’t see too much of him because he was upgraded. But I thought he was very dramatic.

Melodramatic or dramatic?

Yeah he was a bit over the top. Crashing the party and going ‘arfarfarf!’ – oh no wait that was the last episode. Oh well, it still counts. I do think Roger Lloyd-Pack is a good actor and he’s been in a couple of shows that have been really popular so you can see why they chose him. He’s been in Fools and Horses, The Vicar of Dibley, 2.4 Children…and in all of those he has been funny, memorable characters. So when I saw him here I lit up because it reminded me of all the old stuff he had done. ‘Always look after your broom Dave…’

Do you think if somebody is a well known comic actor or actress that it is hard to break into a serious dramatic role?

What did he play this over the top because that’s the style he’s used to? Its hard to be funny and so of course there is the skill there to play serious roles. I can imagine it is pretty difficult to break out of the reputation of being a comic actor and being taken seriously as an actor actor. Even with Catherine Tate I can remember in her first episode we kept mentioning how many of her characters from her own show we could see in the performance. Its hard not to compare with what people have done in the past especially if they have been popular.

Its odd though because despite her comedy background Catherine Tate became my favourite of all the companions.

The new ones, you mean?

Well she’s my second favourite of them all. I want to go back to the gay thing again. (Simon pulls a face like a dog chewing a caramel toffee) No I want to because of the scene that they cut. There was the intention that Ricky and Jake were lovers and the scene they pulled out had Jake admitting to Mickey at the end that he would ‘never have another boyfriend like him.’ Its also pretty obvious from the episode that there was something more than friends happening here.

When? I didn’t get that…

When Ricky died and Jake was going ‘you’re nuffing like ‘im, you!’

Erm, I’m sorry his friend had just died and an exact double was standing in front of him! I think that is a perfectly reasonable reaction in the circumstances. I would be more shocked if he hadn’t reacted at all.

My question is though do you think it was right to take that line out?

Definitely. It would have been really odd to have suddenly slapped a gay romance angle on at the end of the story when there had been no overt indication of it in the whole story.

What about the Cybermen this week?

They looked good, don’t you think? When they were down in those tunnels…you wouldn’t catch me going down there if they could snap awake at any minute! That’s why I’m not a hero.

You’re a hero to me.

You’re a liar but I love you. Imagine if it had been the Weeping Angels down there! Scary! I still don’t understand why they felt the need to rewrite the Cybermen’s story because in the long term what are the people who follow Doctor Who religious going to think about? The original William Hartnell story or this? I rest my case.

I think this was trying to be Genesis of the Daleks but you can’t pull that off in an alternative dimension because that automatically means nothing.

Its so silly because if this had been our universe than Lumic could have been the new baddie and the Cybermen could have popped up every now and again and they would have to stretch our credulity to do it. Why did they just retell the original story? Does it still exist?

The Tenth Planet? The first three episodes as far as we know…

Well they could have retold that story but not told us straight away where we are and what’s happening and then the old geeky Doctor Who fans could get the shock of their lives when they realise that we are in the same story but from another perspective! It could have been brilliant! Copyright, Simon Harding!

Actually that’s quite an exciting idea for the 50th Anniversary, do you know? They could take a look at some of the biggest implausibilities and plot holes from one story of each Doctor and have Matt Smith’s Doctor bouncing through his own timeline correcting all these moments that the fans worry themselves about!

Well they have don that before. Matt Smith did that at the end of his first series.

But that was only within the confines of that season. I’m talking about giving the fans a kick in the teeth by going back and correcting all the moments when they’ve gone ‘ohh why did that happen, it contradicts this…blah, blah, blah…’

It would be tricky. Expensive. Like that DS9 episode but then surely they are going to throw a lot of money at it anyway.

Mickey has left now. Is it a good thing that we are now stuck with just the Doctor and Rose?

Yeah I thought it was pretty obvious at the beginning of this two parter that he was going especially because of how horrible they were to him. They have tried to turn him into a braver, more confident person here. Let’s see how he turns out when he comes back. Sorry if he comes back. Did you notice that the moment Ricky died he started sneering as if he was Ricky? That was just to trick you into thinking that mickey had died…but it was a pretty odd reaction to watching yourself die. You shouldn’t play around with the audience like that anyway. Its like when they had a story called The Next Doctor and it turned out to be a complete fraud. Or when we thought the Doctor was regenerating and he turned his hand into a clone! That’s cheating the audience in an unfair way with no possible way of the reveal of the cheat being satisfying.

What like last season you mean with the Doctor’s death?

I knew you was going to say that! I shall reserve judgement until we have rewatched it! If you’re going to do it, do it! It would have braver if they had killed the real Mickey because its not like he even does anything that spectacular in his return appearances. Then this episode would be remembered for being the one that had the guts to kill off a main character. The only companion that they killed off, kind of, was Donna.

What and didn’t rewrite it?

Yeah. Well no even then they had a go. Obviously Russell T Davies loves his characters too much to let them go. Even when it is for the good of the programme. He does bad things to them like Rose this series but he always takes it back. It blunts the impact.

Its strange how the producer at the time didn’t have that problem with Adric. Actually I’m lying! There was an audio where they suggested that Adric survived the crash. He was living on primordial Earth and there were these giant crabs and he was like King of the Crab People.

Are you serious?

I rather liked it but I’m not really selling it well there.

Did you know that Adric’s DNA is scattered amongst the primordial ooze and that was the origin of the humanoid form.

So you’re saying that all of us have a little bit of Adric inside of us?

Its pretty grim, isn’t it?

I bet you someone out there has got a raging boner reading that.

How could you say that?

Some people really fancy him!

That’s wrong to the very core of everybody who thinks that.

We better get back to talking about the episode rather than talking about having sex with Adric.

I’m feeling a bit queasy.

Did you not find it very satisfying then when Mickey went off to Paris with his new gay boyfriend?

Not really. I thought overall again this was pretty watchable. I loved all the stuff at the factory where we saw them being made but because they didn’t kill off Mickey or set in our universe there were a lot of missed opportunities. It looked good but the nuts and bolts of the story were a bit off. Like with Mickey dying it would have been interesting if our Mickey had died here but the other one had turned up in the finale. It would have been really awful for Rose to have to face those feelings again.

Intriguing…maybe you should have written this.

I have this image of Sarah Jane looking really scared in the one where the companions all came together and she looked really scared that the Daleks were invaded the Earth and she grabbed hold of Luke. It really feels as though that story had a strong emotional impact. Perhaps if Ricky had turned up at the end of this season they could have given Rose a strong emotional storyline aside from just being torn away from the Doctor. Because as far as I remember she doesn’t do a great deal in her last story. Except cry.

Are you trying to suggest that Sarah Jane being scared has more impact than Rose being sassy?

Definitely, you feel really scared in that moment when Sarah is crying but say when Rose was cracking jokes about the werewolf a few episodes back you didn’t feel as if they were in any real danger.

So do you think that by emancipating women in science fiction they have missed a trick. Having the companions as sassy, Buffy style wisecrackers takes you out of the story whereas the old approach of the screamers genuinely had an impact.

To a degree, yes. Although I don’t think you have to useless like some of those old Doctor who companions to make an impact. Sarah isn’t useless and she manages to portray fear very well. Its getting the balance right. Its all about reacting to the danger properly and I would say they do do a better job of that in the old Doctor Who’s.

I think that’s the first time you have said something nice about the classic Who when comparing it to NuWho.

Yep I’m growing as a person doing this. I give this episode a four. They could have done a better job but I thought they did a pretty good job with the script they had.

A four? That’s like 8/10!

Well it’s a 7.5/10 but I wont take it down to three and a half for that.

**** out of *****

The Idiot’s Lantern

Do you think this is a period of history worth exploring?

It wasn’t really explored, was it?

Okay is the Queen’s coronation worthy of celebration? Or could they have gone to any other ceremony and it would have had the same effect?

Well no because the method that the villain used it had to be this era. You’re not even trying to think up decent questions for this one, are you? It had to be the modern era for the television sets to be used and they picked something that everybody would be huddled around the TV for.

What other events could they have chosen? I can think of another…although that was used later on in a similar way but this time to defeat the monsters.

What was that?

‘One small step for man…’

They could have used that. Maybe the assassination of Kennedy?

If you were being very morbid they could have used 9/11. Although that would be pushing the boundaries of taste. They could have taken a more sophisticated angle by suggesting that there is so much bad news on the planet that our news broadcasts are easily exploitable?

What are you talking about? It was far better that they chose something celebratory. Lets’ talk about some things I like about this episode. In particular the setting. I loved the outfits, the patriotism and how nice people were. I got a strong 50s vibe from this story. People aren’t as patriotic these days.

I dunno you were saying about the street parties – what was it? Over 2000 applications?

Yeah there is still a patriotic quarter but a lot of those people just wanted a day off! Somebody at work the other day said they can’t stand the royal family, they don’t see the point in them and so I told him he shouldn’t get his extra bank holiday and should be forced to come to work! He didn’t like that. People are too ready to criticise and still reap the benefits.

You sound like a royalist!

(Ponders) Yeah I guess I am. I don’t think they are needed to do the day to day running but they do a lot of good as ambassadors of this country. They are the public image of the country and thank God because we need to distract attention as much as possible from the two bookends at the top of government at the moment. David Cameron and his tea boy. And the other one on the Red side is hardly Mr Charisma either. The Royal Family at least give a semblance of a country that is still holding itself together.

Did you like the posh BBC English of the Maureen Lipman’s announcer?

They’ll probably have something similar this year.

It wont be that posh! It’ll probably be in chav speak!

Or in a foreign language so we don’t have an unPC Jubilee! I really like Maureen Lipman. I want to say I’ve seen her in Jonathan Creek…

‘No more playing the Tailor’s dummy…’

She was a psycho, wasn’t she?

Yeah, it was a really good episode.

For some reason you know I didn’t like this episode the first time I saw it but I really enjoyed it this time round.

This one has grown on you? I remember you didn’t like this the first time round…Ally was here as well and she was pretty ambivalent too.

Was she? Yeah I can’t recall why I didn’t like it then. Maybe it was too low key?

So why did you like it now?

I don’t know.

So you don’t know why you didn’t like and now you don’t know why you do like it?

No.

Then let’s go into some detail…

Maybe because we’ve had a bit of a gap between watching the Cyberman one and this one. When Doctor Who is on the telly week in, week out it highlights the good and bad episodes a lot more obviously. This was a pretty quiet episode that didn’t really impact me at the time. But now after we haven’t watched one for two weeks or so it was just…nice.

Are you actually starting to miss Doctor Who when we don’t watch it?

Yeah, maybe.

What have I done to you? Did you think the Doctor and Rose worked better this week without Mickey?

Oh I hadn’t even noticed he wasn’t there. That’s not a good sign, is it? They were a lot more fun in this one, don’t you think? It was great when they came out of the TARDIS in period clothes and they were the guests from hell.

Do you think it’s the best of the year so far for these two?

From a fun aspect? Yeah, probably. They were a bit slushy in the first one…what was it called? New Earth. And in the werewolf one they were too smug and it spoilt the drama a bit. So yeah from that aspect of the two of them working together without all the drama of the last two it probably is their best episode on that score?

How did you find David Tennant because I find him terribly over the top in this.

What d’you mean?

‘I’M NOT LISTENINGGGGGA!’ ‘THERE IS NOTHING ON THIS EARTH THAT WOULD STOP ME!’ (Seriously you should hear my impression on this recording, it rocks!)

The trouble with that is that he gets worse and worse and worse as time goes on.

Really? I don’t think it gets much worse than this.

No all that ‘I’m the Doctor, a 900 year old Time Lord…’ bollocks. He gets more grandiose when you just want him to shut up and get on with solving things.

You think he buys into his own myth?

Yeah its like he thinks he’s God! It’s a bit much on occasion but overall I thought he was okay in this one.

How did you find the tone of this one because I find it switches genres too regularly for me to get a hold on it. It goes from domestic drama to horror to detective drama to action adventure and alien invasion!

You can’t really call it an alien invasion. Its one person!

She was sucking everyone’s faces off!

One person does not amount to an invasion. Besides I didn’t really understand what the reason for sucking the faces off was for. They didn’t really explain that.

Perhaps it was just a good visual?

Yeah.

Yeah?

Yeah.

What did you think of the conclusion with the tape recorder?

I don’t understand that now you mention it. When you tape record something you haven’t taken it off the TV. Its just a copy. So where did she go? Has he duplicated her? How did he put her on a tape? Its almost as bad as last weeks solution with the mobile phone. Plus I saw the first tape recorder in the science museum and it was about two metres long! The Doctor is totally cocking up history. And where did he get the tape from?

He made it as he was running along the road.

He made a betamax tape and a recorder as he was running down the road? That’s just bollocks, isn’t it?

I thought you like this one.

Well I didn’t think about any of this stuff until you brought it up.

Oops. Am I tainting your enjoyment of the show.

Damn reviewers.

Did you like the domestic angle? The mother, father and the kid?

The father was a bit of a prick, wasn’t he?

He’s in Eastenders now.

That says it all about his acting ability.

He’s a prick in that too, you know.

If you can’t get a job anywhere else, Eastenders’ll have you!

That kid was 23 in this!

Really? That little boy?

He’s a Gary Coleman kid that can squeeze into child roles as an adult.

What you talkin’ about Willis?

Umm…there’s not a great deal to talk about with this one, is there?

Not really. Its just sort of nice and watchable but just sort of there.

Why don’t you tell me two things that you really liked about it and two things that you thought could have been done better.

The humour was good, it did make me laugh in places. Especially that bit about Stalin’s Russia.

It was Mark Gatiss who wrote this. The guy who has written Sherlock.

Yes I know who he is. I also like how confident Rose was in certain points as well. Some of that spunk from last season was back.

You have a bit of an on/off relationship with her, don’t you?

Yeah sometimes she’s really annoying and other times she’s great. Its infuriating. I didn’t like the cheap ending now you have made me think about it a bit more. And there were as you say a few moments when the Doctor was foaming at the mouth with anger which isn’t a great look for David Tennant. I’ll give it a three and a half. I was going to give it a four until you pointed out how crap the ending was. Maybe if it was a CD or something…I dunno. You can’t download an alien onto a tape and then tape over it. Its bloody stupid. But apart from that, quite nice.

*** and a half out of *****

The Impossible Planet

We’ve finally moved away from the Earth, Earth based space stations and Earth replica planets…

And then they arrived and met humans. So its not a complete leap forward but at least a few baby steps in the right direction. Its certainly better than having another story set on Earth. Don’t you think it would have been better if this entire crew had been aliens? Although I do embrace the fact that there are some aliens in it.

I think Russell T Davies had the idea that if he entertained the realisation of just aliens it would be too much for the anti-science fiction crowd to handle. That they would see a load of prosthetics and switch over like someone watching Farscape might if it was so far out of their comfort zone.

Which is a good argument until we meet the aliens in this story that have giant wrinkly heads with tentacles coming out of their faces!

What did you think of the production values this week?

I know what that means now.

I thought it looked really good. The visual of the black hole and the solar system sweeping past the window was great. I liked the fact that you could hear that this was a working space station too with clunking metal and the drill and it was really grimy too which made it feel like a working base.

I think that’s harder to achieve than you might think. To take something that is wholly made up and make it look functional.

Yeah it was really well done. Lots of different sets and the special effects helped too.

This might seem an odd sort of question but do you feel this is the sort of location that would translate well to the cinema? Sometimes on Doctor Who I feel that it is clearly just made for TV – last weeks barely left one street! Whereas this one was a space station on a planet orbiting a black hole.

Yeah I think so but you couldn’t have an entire movie based around four sets.

Have you seen Cube? What’s that other film you like…Contact? Where is that set?

The Jodie Foster film? Its set on the Earth.

What the whole film?

The last forty minutes or so. Otherwise it is set in space.

So it’s set nowhere then? And you don’t think this setting would sustain a movie?

It’s a good film. I don’t think this would be grand enough for a film.

I think we’ll have to agree to differ on this one.

I think you have to move around more in a movie.

I think that’s what you have been programmed to think given that is the way glossy, brainless movies have become.

I think you’re an arrogant twat.

I think you could be right.

(Laughter)

Changing the subject completely then…how scary do you think Doctor Who should be? Bringing us out of this episode now…how far do you think it can go? What would be crossing the line.

Cannibalism.

So Torchwood then?

Rape.

There were two implied rape scenes in the Hartnell era, you know. And they dealt with cannibalism in The Two Doctors.


You certainly wouldn’t have a rape scene in Doctor Who now. And if you did I would turn it off. I don’t think it should stray into real life horrors like that because this is a family show.

What about the bit in Planet of the Ood where the guy peels his face off and vomits up his brain?

That’s not horror! That’s just gross! I think there is a fine line between those two but I would say horror is more a violent encounter. Anything that could happen to you.

What about death then? Showing somebody who is really afraid to die? Like in The Waters of Mars when they know they are all going to die and the water is closing in…for a child to see adults that scared of death it must be terrifying to watch.

Yeah it is. That might be why I didn’t get on with that one. It might have pushed me too far.

Again something that can happen to you taken to the extreme is horror to me. You’re not going to peel off your face and vomit up a brain in your hand. Its fine when it is not within the realms of possibility.

Imaginative horror then.

Yeah.

This programme is all about escapism for me. I’m sitting down to watch an entertaining show and not to be reminded of the horrors of real life. Mind you I’m not just talking about Doctor Who. Certain things do not belong on television as far as I am concerned. I don’t need to see rape dramatised. I know it exists and that is enough. I don’t need it rammed down my throat to drive the point home that it is horrific. I know its horrific thank you very much.

Not even if it is implied rather than shown.

No. Nothing. Its like that moment in Buffy when Spike tries to rape her. It was completely out of place, a betrayal of the series and both characters and practically ignored afterwards when she still pursues a relationship with him. What the hell? It was just shoehorning something outrageous into an episode for the sake of it. I hated that.

There were two moments in the Hartnell era when rape was implied but there is also a moment where Barbara is in the time of the Crusaders and there are guards ransacking all the houses trying to find her and the girl she has been left to protect. She’s been given a knife to kill herself and the kid if they get found because they will be abused by the guards and when she is caught she is told that the only pleasure left for her is death and death is very far away. That’s all implied but the audience know exactly what is being implied.

No that definitely crosses a line. Its that old argument as well about some people finding it very hard to tell the difference between reality and fantasy. A sick man might watch that and enjoy the feelings it provokes and act on it.

So you’re saying that they shouldn’t show any real life horrors just in case somebody mimics it?

I’m not sure. It’s a controversial subject and I’m not sure what is right or wrong. I just know what I don’t like watching and rape scenes and prolonged torture and things like that are definitely off the bill.

Bringing it back to The Impossible Planet then…this was quite a scary story especially in the bit where he is outside with all the writing on his face and smiling at Scooti and she realises she is going to die and starts screaming and trying to open the door. Is that too much? For a kid to see an adult that scared at the thought of death…

I suppose so. I wouldn’t say that was particularly violent or graphic because it is in such a ridiculous, unreal setting. There’s a man standing out in space with no protective clothing and his victim winds up floating in space and gravitating towards a black hole. It’s nicely done but its not scary because its so disconnected from reality. Its complete science fiction.

If a child turned the light off at bed time they might see that horrible grin on Toby’s face coming back to haunt them.

That was the one bit that did get to me actually. As you know I hate the idea of it being dark outside and turning around and realising there is somebody in the window looking at you because it happened to me when I was younger and it scared the crap out of me. That smile on his face tapped into that for a second.

And what about the voice? ‘Don’t turn around…I’m going to touch you…’

After a while that made me a little uncomfortable. I thought it was good the way they built that up to be more scary as the episode went on.

Is it safe though because it is contained within science fiction?

Possibly…I think everybody has a different pain threshold when it comes to this sort of thing and I don’t think they should stop trying to push it just because some kids (and adults) have weak hearts. Not real life horror like rape…but this sort of scary is fine. Its like getting on a roller coaster…you know its going to be a little bit scary but then you can get off…just like you can turn the telly off when this ends and know its not real even though you are a little scared when watching.

Did you just quote something from Star Trek Voyager?

(Defensive tone) No! But you get my point. You should keep pushing the boat a bit because you are never going to please everyone.

Did you like the Ood then?

Yeah what I really liked was that you couldn’t have gone much further from looking like a person which was really different for a change.

Were they good enough to warrant subsequent appearances?

Oh definitely. I think with the Doctor meeting humans all the time and werewolves and clockwork soldiers…it was about time that we met a humanoid alien that looked really different.

What about the next one then? The Absorbaloff?

Oh that stupid thing… What was great about the Ood was when they brought them back they gave them more of a backstory. It wasn’t just to bring them back because they had been a good monster in this story. If they had just reappeared as slaves again it would have been a bit corny but its on their planet and we find out about their culture and they get freed. It continues their story and gives it more depth. Don’t you think they look a bit like Dr Zoidberg from Futurama? ‘Wobwobwobwob!’ (Simon does a terrifyingly accurate impression of the walking lobster departing a room and shaking his booty).

You’re nuts.

But you love me.

Did you feel as though the TARDIS had been lost for real in this episode? Did you like all the talk between the Doctor and Rose about settling down together?

Not really. It wouldn’t be the show without the TARDIS so you know it is going to turn up again before the end. All that talk of getting a house and bollocks…why couldn’t they just get a spaceship and travel about that way?

Does it make the situation more tense that they can’t just walk into the TARDIS and go?

No. I didn’t feel tense at all.

(Laughter)

Do you feel that the TARDIS should always be within reach then?

It really doesn’t matter how much they try and convince me that the TARDIS is gone forever…it’ll be back next week. That’s the show and they aren’t going to change that. If I was a five year old and he was my TV hero…

Is he not your TV hero?

No.

Why?

I don’t have a TV hero because (you better cover peoples ears up so they don’t hear this) its not real.

That doesn’t matter…you can still have a TV hero! Your TV hero is Neelix!

I wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire.

Your TV hero is Harry Kim.

Anyway…if I was five and he was my TV hero it might have been more upsetting. But because I’m 27 and just watch this for fun its not.

Plus you have no soul. You are such a boring adult.

You’re 4 years older than me!

Mentally you’re 30 years older than me! I knew they would get the TARDIS back so for me it didn’t…it wasn’t…

Very eloquent. So you don’t think it is something that is worth repeating?

Not really. It wasn’t like in DS9 when the station got taken over by the Dominion and it took place over six or seven episodes and it was a real fight to get it back. That was done really well because you believed that they could have been cut off from their home forever. If they were going to get it back it was going to be a struggle. I seem to recall that they just find the TARDIS in the second episode standing upright ready to go with no trials to get it back at all. How dramatic.

You did believe that the Doctor lost the TARDIS when he was exiled to Earth.

That was different. They completely changed the format of the show then. You don’t think they were genuinely going to strand the Doctor on this planet forever more, did you? If the TARDIS was genuinely missing for a couple of episodes and he didn’t get it back as we progressed into the next story, not the second part of this story then you might start to believe that he really had lost it for good. As it is its just pretending that something has happened that hasn’t, its dramatic sleight of hand and its not a very convincing trick. The bloody thing hasn’t even landed on its side or anything…it lands completely upright, undamaged and ready to walk into and leave.

Why is it any more likely to land on its side than it is upright? It’s a cube!

Its not a cube!

It’s a rectangle then…a cuboid.

Unless they are going to play it over a couple of episodes I wouldn’t bother pretending the TARDIS has gone forever.

How are the Doctor and Rose progressing?
The beginning of this story makes me laugh a lot. When she says that they should just get back in the TARDIS and go somewhere else and you know that isn’t going to happen. That always makes me laugh when I see it. She’s as game for exploring as he is no matter how dangerous so its nice because you can see why he likes to be with her.

I didn’t think they were that smug in this one.

I dunno Rose had a few moments. She tried to get his attention with a few comments but he wasn’t biting. I liked it when she was caring for the Ood, they really highlighted that she was different from the other people there who had gotten used to having slaves. Its nothing like they were when they were around Queen Victoria and the werewolf though – they were so smug in that one. I think they’ve really come along on the whole.

That’s odd because you were like that with the ninth Doctor and Rose, it took you a little while to enjoy the dynamic.

What did you think of this weeks guest cast?

The fella from Casanova was in there and I did notice a little wink to the audience when the Doctor hugged him (Shaun Parkes). And there was the guy who I saw in Lewis the other week (he’s talking about Danny Webb). I thought the casting was really good this week on the whole was really good. They felt like a real working team rather than a bunch of actors thrown together. There wasn’t a weak link. Its vital in a story like this that the actors have good chemistry and this lot definitely did. My one complaint was that for where they were and their dangerous situation they didn’t really look very tired. The place was filthy but they were really clean. But that isn’t the fault of the actors. What was the one called with the clock counting down and the bird from Eastenders?

42.

They were sweaty and filthy which sold the danger a bit more. But despite that good acting all round.

What about the cliffhanger.

There was so much going on! Ood gone bad and the place shaking itself apart…there was lots to follow up on in the next episode. The camera angle implies that something big is coming out of that tunnel. And he still needs to find the TARDIS. If I wasn’t a fan of Doctor but had caught this, I would definitely switch on again next week.

**** out of *****

Love and Monsters

To put it very simply this is a controversial episode – what did you think?

I really rather liked it for the most part but there were a few things that bothered me. The monster was daft but I understand that it was designed by a kid so I might almost be willing to accept that…but it does make me think about those people that don’t watch Confidential and don’t know that. Your layman on the street might think that the writer has gone a bit nuts with that monster. Oh and Ursula being a paving slab at the end – that was a bit silly.

bit silly?

A lot silly. Otherwise though I thought it was quite amusing especially with all the running back and forth with the buckets at the beginning and I really liked seeing things from the side of people that don’t get to travel around in time and space.

Can you understand why this is a marmite episode?

I could understand if hardcore Doctor Who fans might feel cheated because the heroes aren’t really in it, are they? And they replace them with a lot of silliness and so those people that turn on to see the Doctor behaving in a deadly serious way aren’t going to get much out of this.

Do you think this might be one for the kids then?

I don’t know really because it has quite a bit of adult stuff in it as well. It’s a bit of a contradiction really. You get a great green alien stomping around at the end but before that its all about relationships and there is some pretty obvious sexual humour with Jackie and Elton about to get it on. Maybe that’s why its so marmite…because its marmite in itself. It can’t decide whether it wants to be adult or childish and bounces back and forth.

I think there is supposed to be a commentary on Doctor Who fans and how obsessed they get with the main character of the show…

Well this lot were only obsessed when someone encouraged them to be so. It might have been the Doctor that brought them all together but soon that was the last thing they talked about and all had fun together.

Well that too could be commentary because a lot of Doctor Who fans do come together because of the show and then form big groups of friends that go on to do other stuff.

Not being a Doctor Who fan I would not know about this!

If you let me take you to a convention you might find out…

They very idea terrifies me. A group of people talking about nothing but Doctor Who!

But you like talking about Doctor Who! At least you do when we do this – I can’t get you to shut up!

Yeah with you. Its fun with you because its something we do together.

Aww…I’m going to stop you there because that is the nicest thing you have said about me on this marathon. Did you like the flashbacks to the old adventures – Rose, Aliens of London and that…

It was really nice to see so much stories tied together by this guy because it feels like a serialised show. That we’re not just watching random stories and somebody is bringing all together into one big storyline. I like all that. I’m not sure what else to say about this episode really. It was very marmite but it was one that you could just sit and enjoy regardless and not even give 100% of your attention to because the Doctor barely appeared. There was nothing you had to get your head around, no technobabble, no intricate plots. It was just a nice episode.

It strikes me as like an episode of Hustle. The way it has flashbacks and flash forwards, freeze frames and quick editing…

I supposed you’re right. There was even someone talking to the audience like in Hustle. And Danny from Hustle was the main star! And that actually does make my point because as enjoyable as Hustle was (and I’m gutted it isn’t on anymore) you could kind of switch your brain and just enjoy it without having to tax yourself too strongly. That was a good fun series like this is a good fun episode. I wonder too if this was a little too contemporary for some Doctor Who fans who want it to always be like it was 30 odd years ago. This sort of episode would never have happened in classic Doctor Who where he was barely a part of the plot and it had so many past references and stylish tricks –

You are describing Colin Baker’s first season to a tee!

No you know what I mean. Could you see Love & Monsters turning up in classic Doctor Who? Honestly? With say Peri’s mum tossing wine over some jock and trying to get him into bed? It just wouldn’t happen!

No you are right.

In this case I did think it worked though because these LINDA characters and Jackie were strong enough to hold it up and especially in the next one which doesn’t feature them prominently is probably one of the best episodes they have ever done.

In season four they quite cleverly had a Doctor heavy episode and Donna heavy episode so they both had a little time off.

I hate that one.

You love Turn Left!

No the other one!

You can’t criticise Midnight until you’ve rewatched it!

That’s a story where the Doctor is in it loads and being all serious…I bet that isn’t a marmite episode with Doctor Who fans!

No, not really…

Since I am growing and maturing so much in this marathon –


Excuse me? As I was saying since I am growing up so much and learning to appreciate Doctor Who in a new way there is every chance that I may love Midnight when we get there. I doubt it though.

What do you think about a creature that absorbs people?

Silly.

That’s it?

Very silly.

A little more?

I don’t mind the idea but the way they show it with faces stuck to his body was ludicrous. Imagine if you turned the channel over to see what Doctor Who was like during that scene where the monster had a face for an ass and sat on it to shut her up. It would confirm all your worst suspicions.

So if it was just him absorbing people and going slurp, slurp, sluuuuuurpppp it would be fine but actually seeing the people on the body is too much?

Yeah. It was daft.

‘ELTON GET OUT! I CAN READ HIS THOUGHTS AND HE’S COMING AFTER YOU!’ (Seriously you should hear this incredible Ursula impression by me on the recording!)

Spare me. Why didn’t Mr Skinner and the bird from the Bill warn them to get out before Ursula was absorbed?

I just don’t know. Sloppy writing or a poor design? Did you like the music in it?

Oh yeah that was good. What are they called?

ELO. He does say it in the episode.

Yeah but I don’t know all the episodes word for word like you. There was only one song though, wasn’t there?

Two. Mr Blue Sky and Don’t Get Me Down.

Hang on you bought your first ELO CD around the time this aired. Is that because of this episode of Doctor Who?

Shhh!

Hahaha! You are pure geek!

Did you like the cast in this one?

I did! I liked how it was a hotch potch of people I have seen in other things. Him from Hustle, her from the Bill, her from Bridget Jones and Harry Potter. I though Peter Kay was quite funny until he had his funny turn and I feel that it was one of the better uses of a big name actor. Take say Bill Bailey in the latest Christmas special, he was completely wasted.

I think he should be in another one.

Peter Kay at least had a lot of screen time.

Like Roger Lloyd Pack earlier in the season.

Yeah like that. If you are going to bring people in and advertise it heavily then give them something to do!

I do think you can give big name people a lot to do and still waste them. Look at Maureen Lipman in The Idiot’s Lantern. All she did was go ‘HUNGRRRRRY!’ There was another mention of Rose and how long she has with the Doctor.

And Bad Wolf and Torchwood. Yeah it really feels like the show is building up its mythology and to something special at the end of this season. I hope it doesn’t let me down! You definitely feel this is leading up to either the Doctor or Rose’s departure and given the end of the last season you don’t know which at the moment.

Imagine if the Doctor regenerated again and Rose stayed on. You’ve have to start calling it Rose really, wouldn’t you?

I don’t think she could have sustained another season. I think it was the right time for her to go.

Did you think this was Jackie’s best episode?

It really shows her vulnerable side which we don’t always get to see.

Do you think it would have been quite amusing had Jackie and Rose travelled in the TARDIS?

It would certainly be funny but Jackie is better used for comedy, don’t you think?

I don’t know because they could have just used Donna for comedy reasons but they made her a dramatic character.

That’s true. I can’t imagine Jackie being as powerful as Donna in some of those later episodes. I give this episode three and a half because I did enjoy it but in parts it was a bit silly which I thought was fighting with the serious stuff for effect. Either be completely silly or not silly at all…don’t drag me in two completely different directions. But the idea behind it was good and it was a great cast who I really liked.

So basically it was the last 15 minutes that spoilt it for you when the Absorbaloff came along and Ursula got changed into a paving slab.

Yeah I think so. You were up for four stars until that point Russell T!

***half out of *****


Fear Her

I understand that you are quite tired and irrational but experiencing that Doctor Who episode has led me to believe that you might be even more tired and irrational than you already were…

The first half of this episode wasn’t that bad but as soon as they introduced the kid properly it went downhill really fast.

Cheap episode?

Very cheap. I don’t mind cheap if its written well. That was not written well. That was the worst episode since…I can’t even think the last time I saw something that bad.

Since we started this marathon?

No since Father’s Day! That was terrible too.

Which you gave a measly score of one and a half stars too!

This wont even get that.

Blimey and you are very generous with your stars usually even if you have problems with it. Why don’t you tell me what your biggest problem with the episode is then?

I think it all lost it completely when the Doctor vanished. No it was before then. All the stuff with the girl pretending to be the alien. What was all this nonsense about some alien flower that is lonely because it isn’t with its four billion other brothers and sisters? Nobody wants to watch 45 minutes of a kid having a paddy!

Otherwise they can just go and watch Dawn in Buffy!

Exactly!

Did you not think the kid actress was very good then?

No.

We have talked about this before that sometimes kid actors are in the zone and sometimes they are horribly miscast…

She wasn’t particularly brilliant I have to say. Then the Doctor disappears and Rose finds a squashed bouncy ball spaceship –

That was cheap…

Oh yeah. She manages to throw it at the torch to get it back home –

How did she know that anyway?

The Doctor told her in a drawing.

Did he? I must have nodded off.

I’m the one whose supposed to be slagging this one off!

Sorry.

But then 80,000 people disappear into a drawing and the commentator says ‘oh my God 80,000 people have just vanished! Let’s go live now to the Olympic torch as it makes its way towards the stadium where 80,000 people have just vanished!’ What? How about they cut the transmission and try deal with the fact that 80,000 people have vanished rather than following the torch through London. I can’t even stress how weird his reaction is! How badly written that is! Then Rose digs up the caaansol pavement with a caaansol axe from the caaansol van and the street is absolutely empty, right? We leave the street for no more than a couple of minutes. As soon as Rose comes out again there is barriers up, police cars and people everywhere and along comes the fella holding the Olympic torch! Where did all these people come from? Its so badly written…and badly directed too! No I’ll tell you what it is, its sloppy and it’s the sort of sloppy I haven’t come to expect from Doctor Who.

I thought your head was going to explode when all the kids came back!

Oh don’t get me started! All the kids come back, you know they’ve literally appeared out of nowhere and the dad is like ‘son your back! Let’s ride our bikes now!’ Fuck me does nobody want to know where they’ve vanished to for days? Its like the end of the Cyberman one where half of London has been blown up and there are dead people everywhere and we cut to the next scene where we can see the buses running in the distance like its had no impact on the city whatsoever. It’s the same thing here in that there is no consequences as to what’s happened! Its so unconvincing…its like a Voyager reset where everything is hunky dory at the end with no consequences for anybody. Its just shit.

Yeah I got that.

And then it cuts to Rose and she’s wondering what has happened to the Doctor. The bloke is running along with his Olympic torch feels queasy and collapses but nobody actually gives a shit about him because the Doctor comes along. Its all ‘the Olympic dream is dead…no wait there’s a man! He’s got the torch! He’s running with it!’ What about the man who has apparently died in the street on air? Its just shit, isn’t it?

I would like to point out that the man who wrote this also wrote The Rebel Flesh –

Which was shit as well! The man needs shooting!

Bit harsh.

And then for good measure give him a kick after he’s been shot just to make sure.

Very harsh.

Yeah. They should not have allowed this story to be commissioned!

He did also create an extremely popular series.

Which one?

Life on Mars.

Well he got it very wrong here then. I’m surprised he worked in television again.

Do you think he wasn’t a very good fit for Doctor Who?

No. Who gave him the spec for this episode?

As far as I’m aware and don’t hold me to this but I think this was an 11th hour rewrite for what should have been a Stephen Fry script. I think.

Don’t give me that last minute script bollocks. I could come up with a million other better things.

Like what?

Like the Doctor takes on a tour of the TARDIS for 45 minutes. That would have been better than this.

Hmm. That would have been better than this.

‘Goodbye Chloe Webber! I love you!’ Fuck you! Just go and get it over with! You’re shit! You’re a shit alien! It was so twee that for a minute I thought I was watching Glee. I was going to stab myself in the head but I couldn’t find anything.

I tell you what I’ve never noticed before how unbelievably cheap that was.

Really? It feels as if someone has taken a camcorder into a street with a cardboard box and a slinky and tried to make it up as they go along. This slinky is a scribble monster you know! Oh where has that cat gone…inside that cardboard box! And that godawful granny! Who the hell was she? ‘I don’t know who you are but thank you!’ Who the hell are you granny? How does she even know it was Rose who sorted the problem out? What is she doing in the street scaring kids and their parents? If that old granny was on my street when I was growing up screaming ‘get in, its evil!’ she would have been banged up! Cheap, badly written nonsense.

Was there any point where you thought it had a bit of money thrown at it?

No, not really. It was just a street and some drawings. As much as I dislike it Midnight was a cheap episode but it had a really good idea in it that they ran with. It might not be my cup of tea but they put those people in a confined space and ran with an idea. It was at least interesting. This was just cheap and nasty and boring. Midnight was character based but I didn’t see any characters in this episode. I just don’t know what the purpose of this episode was. Some alien flower missing her four billion brothers and sisters? It’s a bloody flower! Its an alien flower!

Are you saying they should have let the flower wilt?

They should have come up with a better idea. Just discussing the idea of an alien flower that misses its family would show that that is a bad idea. Wouldn’t it have been better if it had been an alien child. Say the woman didn’t even have a child and suddenly out of nowhere this child appears that she has always wanted. It affects her memory so she thinks it has always been her child. There’s a mystery there and she has to face the harsh truth that the kids was never hers  and then when she has to leave at the end a little heartbreak too. With that little spin on this episode I have already added mystery, drama and character…all the things that were missing in this. And I’m not even a writer. Anything but a poxy alien flower. How sad would that be for the woman to lose the child that she had always wanted?

Do you know I never believed at one point that there was a bond between the mother and the child. I know they are supposed to have a strained relationship but there was no point during that episode where I thought that is that childs mother. There was something really off about her performance.

She was probably thrown off by the terrible acting of the child. And the terrible script. She was pretty good in Casanova.

I didn’t think she was that great in this.

No one cares what you think.

Hmm. You don’t want to see the Isolus return then?

You’re trying to wind me up now aren’t you? Please tell me that Moffatt isn’t bringing that alien flower back? 

No.

I knew you were winding me up. Its your face. You can’t lie convincingly.

Was there anything you liked in Fear Her? Did you like the Council man?

He was funny but only for a moment. I think it was about 20 seconds of footage where he was screaming hysterically about the pavement being dug up where this was tolerable. This one gets nought and a half.

Half a star?

Two things award this half a star. The bit when the Doctor realised it was graphite and rubbed the scribble out and the council guy screaming. Otherwise it would be no stars. That is 45 precious minutes of my life that I am not getting back. Usually I can ride over bad Doctor Who because I’m spending the time with you but even that isn’t enough to make this one worth watching. At the end there was a trailer for the next episode and that was the best thing about it!

I want to head back to the classic series for a second and discuss your dislikes.

Why?

Because this is a good chance to tell people what you think of the classic series.

What I don’t like about it? And then be lynched by Doctor Who fans? I do like the classic series though. That’s not fair.

I’ll discuss what you don’t like here because this is a New Series episode you didn’t like and then we can discuss stuff that you like in the next episode that you do like. Fair?

Okay, because I really like the next one. Can I point out though that the old series could be cheap but it never felt as cheap as this episode…and I have yet to watch a story from the old series that was this bad. Seriously.

‘The black and white pawns don’t fight each other…’

Oh that was terrible! Why did you bring that up? You know how much Curse of Fenric winds me up! I spoke to somebody at work the other day – Vicky- who really likes McCoy and Aldridge and I explained that scene to her and she did say it was a bit odd.

Its Aldred! When will you ever get that right?

It’s Aldridge to me. I especially like how it winds you up.

How do they work together?

They don’t work together it’s a game of chess! Its checkmate! Not check-work together! Now look what you’ve done. I’m even more wound up. I need a cup of tea.

How about then that you name one Doctor, one companion and one story that you actively dislike. We’re doing the new series so its nice to talk a little bit about the classic series. First of all one Doctor…

McCoy.

Why?

He’s too over the top. He’s not a terribly good actor. He kind of rambles on and all the dialogue goes missing. I can’t actually do it because no normal person speaks that way. In Fenric Ace screams ‘TELL ME!’ and he just rambles on about evil since the dawn of time and it makes no sense. There’s no drama in the scene because both performances are so terrible. Or that terrible bit where he runs in the door and screams ‘HAAAAAAAACEEEE!’ when she is like an arms length from him. He’s just terrible.

And a companion? And you’re not allowed to say Ace.

(Baby whine) Ohhhh! A companion that I don’t like? I dunno because they usually got the companions right in the classic show. Erm…Adric.

You hate Adric more than Tegan?

I hate Adric more than Tegan.

You hate Adric more than Susan?

Oh that’s a tough one. Can I have all three?

Okay but why?

Susan screams too much and they should have smacked her every time to teach her not to do it again.

You’re advocating domestic violence in Doctor Who?

Justifiable in this case I feel. ‘Graaaaaaandfather!’ Oh she is a bore, isn’t she? Barbara was way better. And the actress who played Susan was shit.

Just say it how it is why don’t you.

Adric was just an overgrown child and such a whinger. You’ve never heard such whiny whinging. He grumbled so much he usually got his own way and that annoyed me even more. So unlikable. How many other characters can say that their best scene is when they died?

Tegan?

She complained so much it was a joke. If you don’t want to be in the TARDIS then just fuck off because there are plenty of other people who would like the opportunity! Nobody wanted you there anyway and nobody likes you! Even the Doctor was always griping about her. Why does he travel with these people if he doesn’t even like them? When Adric and Tegan were in the TARDIS it was a low for the show. He must remember the old days of Jamie and Sarah and Romana and weep.

And can you think of one story that isn’t The Curse of Fenric that you really didn’t like?

(Silence…)

I can’t really think of one that I didn’t like…there was usually something to like. Oh! Oh no that was pretty good… Its got to be an Ace one. The only one I can think of was when she was centre stage of the episode and she was screaming ‘THIS IS PERIVALE!’ and the music went DUM-DUM-DUM dramatic as she ran down some stairs!

Ghost Light? That’s one of my favourites.

You say potato…

But I like it!

She’s a bad actress.

That’s harsh.

Maybe but its also true. And if gentle reader you hear that statement and get immediately cross and feel that you need to defend your position it only means that you are not secure in your belief that she is a good actress. I wont waste time arguing about it because I know she’s bad. If you truly believe you don’t need to jump to her defence.

Marvellous. I’ve whipped you up into such a frenzy of hate you are insulting your own readers now.

Thems the breaks.

It’s a lot easier if I ask you what classic stories you enjoyed because you did like an awful lot of them.

A lot of the Pertwee’s were great. The Gunfighters was quality.

The Two Doctors…

‘What if a Sontaran answers the door!’ That was a really funny one! The War Games was brilliant too.

You even liked one McCoy story.

Oh yeah the Dalek one! Yeah that was alright. That tank Dalek that took out three at once!

I just thought we would have a little probe there whilst we were on a hate for Fear Her. Get it all out in one great lump of bile and then we can move on.

Good idea. I feel cleansed of all my hate for Doctor Who now. Now I have nothing but love. Because there is an awful lot to love about it.

Soppy get.

½ out of *****

Army of Ghosts


This episode seems to be promising quite a lot, doesn’t it? Certainly about Rose in the first scene where it suggests that she is going to die…

 Although I didn’t notice it the first time round I think there have been plenty of hints that something is going to happen to break these two up. I’m not sure if you would have picked up from the start but do you remember in New Earth when we were moaning about how much they had a hard on for travelling with each other – we thought they were just being sappy whereas now I think perhaps Russell T was setting up this ending even then.

What were the hints? The bit in Tooth and Claw where Queen Victoria condemned their dangerous lives. The Satan Pit where the Devil said something about the child who will be leaving you before much longer. In Love and Monsters Elton ponders on how much longer Rose and Jackie can survive tethered to the Doctor as they are. In Fear Her –

Please don’t mention that one again.

…Sorry in the episode that shall not be named Rose says ‘they keep trying to split us up but they never, ever will…’

Could you imagine if they hadn’t written her out here. How disappointing would that have been. In this episode Rose is harping on about ‘when I die…’

Do you think it is time for her story to come to an end or do you think that there is more mileage in Rose Tyler?

I’m not sure. I don’t know. The trouble is I like the companions that come after her so it’s a bit tricky.

You don’t know about them yet!

Oh sorry. She’s grown on me more than the first season I have to say where she was unbelievably comm – actually no she still is unbelievably common but she has grown on me. Maybe she’s a bit like a disease or an ailment when you get older…you just kind of get used to it and then you aren’t sure if you can live without out.

You’re saying enduring Rose is like enduring arthritis?

Well she is pretty creaky at times. I don’t know if I’ve ever come across a character that is quite so…self absorbed. Its this jealousy thing which doesn’t make her especially likable at times. But she is a good companion insofar as she throws herself into things in sharp contrast to some of the old ones we were talking about last time. Like Tegan who just whines and complains an awful lot.

Do you think she works better with Eccleston or Tennant?

Tennant all the way!

I think she works better with Eccleston.

How nice for you.

Well defend your argument then…

I don’t need to. Tennant is much more likable and therefore more watchable for me. I don’t need to defend myself because I’m secure in my belief.

You can’t keep saying that every time we talk! Shall we talk about the episode itself then?

It is promising an awful lot, I have to say. I wouldn’t have wanted to have been Russell T having to complete the task of delivering the script that tied all this up.

Remember last year though. You thought that two parter promised a lot and did deliver.

It did, yeah. There was a massacre and Jack died and the Doctor regenerated. I wonder how they can top a companion and the Doctor dying. This one promises even more.

Like what?

The Daleks and the Cybermen.

Does that excite you?

Yeah it does. I think it would excite anybody with a little knowledge about the old series that these to giants are about to clash. And the kids will be excited because it promises big effects and big battles. And of course Rose’s death which I’m sure is going to be very sad when it comes.

What else has been built up in series two?

Torchwood.

What do you think? Was it worth the wait?

I like the idea of Torchwood very much. That sort of Men in Black government organisation that deals with alien incursions. I prefer the grittiness of when Torchwood was its own show.

Grittiness? Really? Are you sure you don’t mean campness?

I prefer the location.

What Torchwood Wales? That secret base?

Yeah.

Its hardly gritty though, is it? Its more superhero.

This was all clean and pleasant and Canary Wharf. I like how dirty and lived in the other base looks.

I can’t believe we are discussing the interior design of Torchwood.

That’s what you get for reviewing Doctor Who with your husband. On the face of it though it is a strong idea. I would have loved to have seen a bit more of the alien technology they had.

Do you think its quite clever that they brought together something from the end of series one – Jack – and something from the end of series two – Torchwood – and put them together to make a series?

Well its just another spin off. Like Angel and Stargate Atlantis and Deep Space Nine.

No but I mean to take things that have worked so successfully over two consecutive and bring them together to make a series. Its strange that the first series of Torchwood wasn’t as popular as Doctor Who.

Maybe it was a case of been there, done that.

Well we’ll get around to that once we start reviewing Torchwood and Sarah Jane.

Did you like Yvonne?

Not the first scene where she started clapping. But after that she was great. I like having a strong woman in charge. Every time.

Do you really?

Yeah, definitely. I think they make better leaders.

I was talking to Emma the other day about women in mens roles or what has long been considered to be mens roles. We both agreed that we hate it when men are portrayed as being very masculine. Wearing androgynous suits and losing their identity as women just to ‘fit in with the boys.’

Yvonne was very womanly I thought. We have a woman as the CEO of the company I work for and I think she is a very positive influence on the company as a whole. She has created a much better place to work when there was a man in charge because it has a much gentler touch to it. I could really buy into Yvonne being in charge of Torchwood.

You can’t get much more senior than Queen Victoria and she was the initial manager of Torchwood! Mind you she was very blokey, wasn’t she? Was that part of the arc blatant enough for you with Tooth and Claw setting up this episode and the Torchwood Institute?

I still would have preferred it more blatant. Take us to Torchwood in the middle of the season. Set up the sphere and the Cybermen coming through. Build up to a massive finale. I like cliffhangers that make you come back next week like the last Matt Smith season.

Even if those cliffhangers have nothing to do with the story at all? That they’re only a part of the arc?

Yeah because I like that sense that I cannot miss a single episode. This year you could have happily have cut out half the episodes and this episode would have still made perfect sense. I like to have to watch. We’ve not long watched Desperate Housewives and that is a very serialised show. You need to watch them in order if you are going to get to grips with what’s happening in the season. It allows you to create better and longer stories for the characters so you go on a real journey with them. Its more involving and there is more time to get to know the history of the characters. When its standalone adventures which Doctor Who has always been its hard to get to know people sometimes because they are always dashing off to another adventure and the Doctor and companion are just reacting to new things all the time. There’s no sense of history or continuity, no sense of them building a life together. Its always different.

I think that’s one of its strengths.

As a series, yes. As a serialised drama with involving characters, not so much.

The thing is though between the birth of television and the mid 1990s arcs did not exist as we understand than today. And there was some pretty fantastic storytelling in that time. A lot of people say that the 70s was the absolute peak of television, quality wise. There must be a reason that shows could attract between 15 and 20 million viewers regularly.

Yeah because there were only three channels and nobody had computers!

Besides that though. The Royal Wedding proved that it is still possible to attract 20 million plus viewers so why isn’t the serialised television of today getting those kind of figures.

I don’t think its quite as simple as you make it out but I do take your point.

Don’t you think its gone too far the other way now? Everything is serialised.

You need to grab hold of the audience that is out there and get them really involved with the programme that they are watching. So that they can get the most of what they are enjoying. People have really busy weeks so there has to be something different about a show to make somebody sit down and watch it. If its standalone storytelling you can just shove it on whilst you’re having your dinner and not concentrate that hard.

Conversely though the ratings last year and I’m talking about the overnight ratings so the people who said ‘I must watch this as soon as its on’ were really low and last year was the most arc heavy season of the lot. Maybe that alienated some people. I think people like being able to dip in and out of things and not have to watch every single episode as a matter of routine. In comparison during the Russell T Davies era (no matter what you might think of the storytelling the ratings built and built and built. Perhaps because it wasn’t quite as involved and was more standalone.

Perhaps that was just initial tactics to get people in.

Four years in? Series four was when the viewing figures were at their height.

I can see your point.

I’m not saying that serialised television is bad – I love DS9 and Buffy and all the others but I’m just saying there is good and bad to both approaches.

It all comes down to preference.

What do you think about Jackie winding up in the TARDIS?

I loved that line about her being aged by the Time Vortex. That really made me laugh. Obviously Russell T is bringing her in from the sidelines as she is about to be written out.

Do you think this is a big sign then that the Tyler’s are on their way out.

Well with Rose sayings ‘this is the story of how I died’ we need Jackie to be involved. If it was a case of the Doctor just bringing her body home and saying ‘whoops, sorry’ it would have been disappointing.

Do you think this season might have been really different if Jackie had been the companion and not Rose?

I think and older companion would be really cool.

No disrespect to her but Catherine Tate was certainly an older woman in the TARDIS. She must be in her late thirties.

Why do people always use ‘no disrespect but’ as a precursor when they are about to be disrespectful?

She must be in her late thirties. I’m going to look it up. Hah! She’s actually 45!

Really? She looks fabulous for it!

But it worked with having Donna as an older companion. Like Barbara and Romana.

I’m not sure if Jackie would have made a great permanent companion but it might have been nice for her to have gone along for a few just to see what it was like for Rose.

Like they did for Mickey. Oh yeah Mickey’s back! With a new haircut!

Thank goodness for that because his hair before was shit.

Do you think that’s good then to bring everyone back for one big rousing finale? Although some might say that is a big flaw because Davies loves these characters so much that he brings them all back again. And again…

How can he if Rose is going to die in the next episode?

Good point. Now you said they couldn’t bring the Cybermen back because they had been set up as being from another dimension but Davies seems determined to prove you wrong by introducing the cracks in the world and sphere coming through, etc…

Its quite clever actually that he dumped Mickey in that universe with the Cybermen knowing that both step across from that one to our one for the conclusion of the season.

So what happened again? I always get confused? The sphere came through first?

The sphere punched a hole from the Time Vortex into reality and created the cracks that the Cybermen used to walk from their universe to ours. Quite clever really.

Do you think a finale needs something massive like this? The Cybermen, the Daleks, Davros, the Master…

Finales have to be big. Its like your parting thank you to the audience for sticking around for a year.

But do they always have to be on an epic scale?

Well you’re trying to hook people back in for next year too.

Does the build up always have to be universe destroyingly epic?

The build up should never overshadow the result. The last episode should always be the most impressive otherwise you are letting your audience down at the last minute. All you will remember was that this series ended on an anticlimax no matter how good the rest of the year was.

My personal favourite finale was the end of series five with the Pandorica precisely because it wasn’t trying to be epic but instead it took a really personal approach.

I don’t think you can say that it wasn’t epic. Steven Moffatt blew up the entire universe.

That was the episode before though. I think everybody was expecting things to get even bigger and more vast in the last episode and instead he had the Doctor walking backwards through his own timeline trying to undo the whole mess. It wound up being the smallest, most intimate finale but for me the most impressive. With the Russell T Davies finales there seems to be this feeling that they have to be bigger and bigger – it doesn’t always have to be madly epic to make an impact.

I don’t think you need to top last year, I think you just need to try and tell a good story. People might fall for the advertising trick of having the Daleks and the Cybermen in one story and tune but if the story is shocking then they will just feel let down.

Do you think then the essential points in a season need to be the first episode and the last episode? The first episode to lure everybody in and the last one to pay it all off?

The middle bit needs to be good too. Otherwise it goes into a great big deep chasm of borderm before crawling out again for the finale. It has to keep you interested all the way through which is why I like an arc.

But what if the arc is detrimental to the stories?

How can an arc be detrimental to stories? Surely that is the story?

Take last year for example where you had a really boring story like The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People and then tacked on a really exciting cliffhanger on the end that had nothing to do with the story whatsoever to convince you that you had just watched something really good. You shouldn’t have to tack on a cliffhanger to try and convince people that the shit they have been watching was worth two hours of your life. I remember you were desperate to watch the next one after that even though you thought The Rebel Flesh was shocking. Its desperate tactics I think to keep the viewer interested when the story itself should have been interesting.

Actually that’s not really a very good example because Amy becoming gloop was what that whole story was there to set up.

That’s true. What about Closing Time then. That’s a better example. A nice sitcom episode of Doctor Who about the Cybermen setting up a base in the changing room of a department store and then at the end this random scene of River Song being conscripted from university to kill the Doctor. Absolutely nothing to do with the main narrative of the story whatsoever.

I see what you are trying to say. If you were a random person who hadn’t been following the arc you would be thinking ‘what the fuck was that last scene all about? What did that have to do with the episode?’ Good point. Hey I thought this was supposed to be about what I think!

Sorry I’m a reviewer…

The writing has to hold, the story has to be good enough and connected to the running storyline for a good arc to evolve. You can’t just tag on a little bit at the end and call it an arc. Alternatively though should you be making allowances for people who aren’t watching the whole season? Why should you reward people who aren’t coming back every week? Surely its best to give more to those people who are loyal and watch every week?

Hmm?

Well from the writers point of view – say Steven Moffatt. He’s created an entire season for you to watch. Yes its complicated and linked by an arc but is it his fault that people haven’t been watching it. He’s well within in his rights to say ‘we’ve made a season for you to watch so fucking well watch it!’ If you can’t keep up because you’ve got a life that’s what the iplayer is for!

We better bring the focus back to Army of Ghosts.

What now we’ve dissected television in general! I’ll give this one a four.

No more? No less?

A four. It was really good build up and Russell T has definitely created something where you want to see the ending. All the Tylers are back.

Did you guess it would be Daleks coming out of the sphere when you first watched it?

I think you told me.

That was bad of me.

More than anything though I want to know how Rose is going to die! How exciting! I know Russell T wouldn’t promise me something as big as that and not deliver!

**** out of *****

Doomsday

Quite an exciting event in this episode…the Daleks versus the Cybermen!

Terribly exciting!

Were you excited?

Umm…yes-ish except the Cybermen were pretty lame compared the Daleks. They were generally a bit naff whilst the Daleks went on a murder spree. I thought in the olden days the Cybermen could be killed by rubbing gold on them?

They could.

Why didn’t anybody do that?

They didn’t need because the Daleks were whooping their asses. By the end of the classic series a good sneeze would kill a Cyberman off.

It looks like they are continuing that tradition then. Because I barely saw the Daleks get a scratch whereas the Cybermen fell down as if they were playing dead so they could scarper once the Daleks had trundled past.

Do you think Davies was trying to say that the Daleks were better than the Cybermen.

Blatantly. They were blatantly better.

Do you think this sort of fanboy dream is something that is worth indulging in?

It’s a two sided thing really because at the time I remember thinking it was quite exciting and that it promised good effects and some action but in hindsight isn’t this the equivalent of bringing back soap characters when the ratings are flagging? Im fairly certain with Doctor Who fans there are two factions – those that prefer the Daleks and those that prefer the Cybermen and it was a bit unfair on the latter ones by having the Daleks rip the shit out of them! Nothing substantial came from their meeting aside from the fact that it hasn’t happened before. It might have been more exciting had Russell T brought these two races together at an important point in their lives and made the battle between them a pivotal moment. Instead it felt like simply tossing together two Doctor Who monsters ‘because its fun.’ It was fun but I question that it could have been more. Am I making any sense.

Perfect sense. They seemed to know each other, didn’t they?

Huh?

The Dalek said ‘your crude form resembles Cybermen’ (my Dalek impression is to die for!) so they must have heard of them. They are probably sitting in their spaceships in all the scenes off screen in the previous Dalek and Cybermen adventures bitching about the other.

That is unbelievably geeky what you just said.

I apologise. Do you think this isn’t something that needs repeating then?

Well they did repeat it kind of in The Pandorica Opens.

But that was different because they were all working together.

Yeah that doesn’t make any sense really, does it? That means at some point between now and then the Daleks and the Cybermen get over their mutual hatred of each other and decide to work together to bring the Doctor down. We should have seen that. That might have been fun to watch.

What did you think about their bitch fight?

They were like two girls at a birthday party trying to be the centre of attention! It was okay…is it great drama? Not really. I just wanted the Cybermen to blow up a Dalek and instead its offering the hand of diplomacy. They’re crap, aren’t they?

Lets move on and talk about Billie Piper and Rose and see if she got the ending she deserved.

Well can I stop you there for a second because I’m a bit cross that I was lied to. This wasn’t the story where she died. And I don’t want to hear this crap about ‘she died inside’ or anything like that. The tagline of this episode was ‘this is the story where I die…’ and she didn’t die. How can that not be unsatisfying to an audience?

Well he does say in a later episode –

…I know what you’re going to say! In a later episode the Doctor mentions that they were declared dead because there were so many missing but that isn’t what we were told. We were told categorically ‘this is the story where I died’ and not ‘this is the story where I ended up on a list of dead people’s names but actually ended up in an alternative universe.’

Doesn’t quite have the same punch to it.

Don’t make a promise if you cannot deliver. Skipping ahead a little bit I also recall that in The Next Doctor Christmas special…well it wasn’t the next Doctor was it? It was just someone believing that he was the Doctor. Another fraud. And then there was the one where he is going to regenerate and he is exterminated by a Dalek at the cliffhanger…except he doesn’t regenerate because he manages to send all the energy off into his hand which got severed off a few years earlier. Davies constantly lies to his audience. Probably to get ratings but its deceitful and dramatically its unsatisfying and annoying.

Doesn’t that make the audience stupid though? And not the writer? If they fall for it every time and keep coming back in their droves? Oh Rose is going to die! Oh the next Doctor! Oh the Doctor’s regenerating! They keep coming back so I guess that proves that this kind of cheating shock tactic does work. The time that he promised a regeneration was the only the time that Doctor Who was the most watched programme of the entire week and it got record ratings on a scorching hot day in the middle of the summer.

Yeah but he lied! That’s a record audience of people going ‘this is shit!’ Surely that isn’t what he intended? Maybe he knew he was going to bring her back later and so had to write it this way?

We never thought that at the time though, did we? We genuinely thought that she was gone for good and the show was moving on. Did you not think this was a memorable ending then?

Oh yeah it was – it broke my heart when I first watched it and it was still really upsetting this time around. It just wasn’t the ending I was promised was all. You can really see watching it that the character is devastated at being cut off from the Doctor. Billie Piper plays that scene with such raw emotion. She’s brilliant in that last scene.

Do you think she has proven her critics wrong then that she can make it as an actress.

I think so, yes. I thought she was a little bit stiff to begin with but once she hit her stride she was fine. That last scene though was in a different league to anything she had done on Doctor Who before this. It was so well acted and you could feel her pain. I was really surprised because when people cry on TV so much I want them to just stop wailing – look at Susan – but that was beautifully done. I wonder of the behind the scenes crew got upset watching that scene play out.

I think the director did. David Tennant’s no slouch in that scene either though, is he?

No.

Remember when we were talking with Ally the other day and we said that David Tennant might have some annoying quirks but when he gets down to it he is an actors actor and when he is required to act he is phenomenal.

Both of them did that scene proud. Its one of the standout moments of this season definitely.

What about all this weird stuff with Jackie and alternative Pete ending up together?

The thing you have to remember is that Jackie has had 20 years or so to mourn him so its not really replacing her Peter with another one. I think it would feel more weird if he had died a year or two ago but because of that length of time it worked for me. He is a different bloke. He might look the same but he is going to be a different man.

I hope you are as forgiving when Davies pulls of the same trick with the Doctor in Journey’s End.

We’ll see.

Did you think it was quite nice that Jackie, Mickey, Peter and Rose were all together at the end as a family? By the middle of the first season they were quite fractured and against each other but they all had some closure by being together here. It was nice to have a little coda on the end, don’t you think?

A what?

The scenes at the end of the main narrative wrapping up all the character stuff. It is unusual for Doctor Who to devote that amount of time to a companion leaving. When Tegan left she just ran off.

Yeah but she was shit…everyone was just glad to be rid of her.

Was this the first time they have spent some time tying a character up like this?

I think so.

Are you sure? What about Jo Grant? I swear she had quite a long bit at the end dealing with her leaving.

Oh okay apart from her.

Didn’t Susan have quite a long scene too holding hands with that man she left with?

Oh okay two examples –

Actually I could have sworn that Jamie and Zoe had quite a nice long bit when they were leaving in the TARDIS –

Oh fuck off!

(Simon collapses into laughter!) Don’t blame me if you’re not a true fan!

Did you like it?

He even had a whole episode to tie up Sarah Jane in the new series and set her on a new path.

Oh I give up! Okay I’ll word it differently. Do you think it would as satisfying if you had just seen Pete appearing when she was being sucked into the vortex and disappear with her? And that was it?

I do like closure in a story and all the stuff in Norway does give the audience plenty of closure. Sometimes I think stories are really unsatisfying when they just end without any explanation. About the last four horror films we have watched – Paranormal Activity 3, The Vanishing on 7th Street – have just ended without any closure of the plot or for the characters and that is deeply unsatisfying. If Russell T hadn’t tied it all up so neatly on the beach perhaps I wouldn’t have been so annoyed when Rose was brought back. If they hadn’t of had that goodbye scene then there would have been unfinished business and a reason to bring her back to tie that up. Things would have gone unsaid that needed to be said so I could imagine Rose crossing dimensions or whatever just to say ‘I love you.’ But because this was tied up so well here there was no need to bring her back which gives her eventual return a ‘oh dear ratings are flagging let’s bring back Rose Tyler’ feel even if that wasn’t the case.

I definitely do not think that was the case with bringing Rose back.

No of course not but it felt that way because her story end in such a satisfying way here. Except her not dying. He tied her up and put a little bow around her and put her on the shelf. There was no need to get her out and dust her down.

So you think this ended would have been more satisfying if she hadn’t come back?

Yeah. Because in retrospect this doesn’t mean anything.

I want to talk to you about the invasions that keep happening on the streets of London.

Here you had Daleks flying about and Cybermen in peoples homes. Its getting a little bit silly that these things are brushed over so easily. Remember what I said at the end of the Cyberman story where half of the country had been turned into Cybermen and when they have all been self destructed in the next scene you can see buses running and taxis cruising along the Thames? Are you kidding me? All this drama and someone thought well people still need to get the bus! You need consequences for these stories as they get bigger and more public otherwise it looks a bit silly.

With regards to this we have to acknowledge that Davies does himself does acknowledge the amount of invasions that are stacking up come the point where the Master is Prime Minister. It feels like each threat is another alien menace rather than just the first one again.

But I want to see real consequences like when we saw Big Ben being built after the spaceship crashed into it. When is the next story set in London?

I’m not saying?

Oh come on they are set in London all the time!

It’s a bit embarrassing…

It’s the next one, isn’t it? (I nod at him…) I should have guessed. What would be nice would be to see some kind of evidence of the massacre and Cyberman attack that has just taken place rather than business as usual for anybody. It kind of suggests that none of these invasions mean anything.

I take your point. It’s a good point actually. I think that’s why Steven Moffatt introduced the cracks in time or at least took advantage of them so he could shove all of these alien invasions into them like they had never happened. That’s why Amy doesn’t remember the Dalek invasion.

Oh that’s clever. I hadn’t realised that. I like that.

Did you like the idea of the capsule being Time Lord technology?

Well I tell you what I would personally like to see the Time Lords come back.

They did in The End of Time.

No I mean for good. I think it would help re-vitalise the show and give them a lot of new storylines to play about with.

Doesn’t that mean you are contradicting yourself?

What d’you mean?

You’ve just said if you’ve done something you should stick to it and not bring things back.

Well they didn’t wipe out the Time Lords, did they? The Time Lords were already wiped out because of the books –

I can’t believe that you have remembered that! That Gallifrey was destroyed in the books! Davies said categorically that this was a completely different incident. A different Gallifrey being destroyed.

Okay…weird. Why did they start the series off without the Time Lords then?

He probably thought it was more dramatic to have the Doctor the last of his kind and build up to the fact that he had lost his planet and meeting the Daleks, blah blah blah… Which did work, it did manage to hook a new audience.

I just think there are some great stories to tell with The Time Lords. Like the one in the Death Zone. How good was that one? Even your mum liked that one! I know you say that Doctor has this limitless format and can go anywhere in time and space and do any story they like but it will start to get a little bit tedious with all this hopping about without purpose –

Its fifty years old!

Fifty years old with a fifteen year gap!

Yeah but there were loads of stories being done in novels and on audio at the time!

I don’t care what you say. New shows are being created all the time which capture peoples imaginations. How long is it going to take for people – and I’m not talking about hardcore fans – to say ‘seen this, done that’ and move on to something that feels really fresh and original? They need to do something every now and again to really shake up the show and give it new life. Not just a change of actor. Something fundamental like the return of the Time Lords and a fantastic arc set on Gallifrey that will get people thinking ‘corr did you watch Doctor Who last night again?’

I think I understand what you mean but the shows set on Gallifrey in the classic series were hardly the best…

But they only had a budget of two pounds forty nine pee. I tell you what I’m talking about – Torchwood!

Torchwood?

Yeah…the first two series of Torchwood were pretty choppy overall and the show was haemorrhaging viewers. And then along came Children of Earth which completely shook up the show – wrote out a character, got rid of the base and made everything bigger and better. It didn’t feel anything like the Torchwood that had come before it but it completely caught a new audience. It was on over a week too which was a gimmick that really work. They managed to re-vitalise the show completely.

Now I see what you mean. Like a mini series of Doctor Who set on Gallifrey with lots of plots and temporal shenanigans.

Not necessarily that but something that totally shakes up the show like that and shows what else it can do.

We are so off topic now but I totally get what you mean.

Yeah so bring Gallifrey back Moffatt or something equally as massive! I just don’t know how they can stick the same old alien invasion formula without upping the stakes to such ridiculous levels that you don’t believe any of what you are watching! By the end of Russell T’s time they were towing the Earth through space! Its just crazy epic! You can’t get any bigger than that!

Moffatt destroyed the entire universe!

Exactly and how do you top that? You need something more than ‘there’s the Doctor, there’s a monster…oh look he’s saved the day.’

I personally feel that if they rested Doctor Who after another couple of season that it wouldn’t be a bad idea. 

Really? You’re going to be lynched for saying that!

I don’t think shows can keep going and going indefinitely without starting to feel a little obvious over time so to give them a sabbatical is actually a good idea. When Doctor Who was off the air it developed a wealth of talent in its spin off material that is now making the show today!

I just think you need to stir up the mixture a little bit.

What other show can claim to have been churning out stories – in TV, audio, comic strip and novel form – for fifty years?

Not always good stories though.

Pretty much the whole time it has been on the TV it has been popular. How many shows can claim that over such a long period? Most shows don’t even get past series one now…or even a pilot!

But that’s what I’m saying. Since there are a lot of shows not even seeing the light of day if Doctor wants to keep its momentum going and keep themselves on the air they need to ensure that what they churn out is fresh and original.

He did bring the Time Lords back though.

Yeah and cheated again! He cheated! The Time Lords are back! No they’re not…they’re back for five minutes!

Let’s change the subject before this all ends in a messy divorce. What impresses you more with this episode; the soap opera elements (the Jackie and Rose stuff) or the science fiction elements (the Cybermen versus the Daleks, Torchwood)? What do you think Russell T Davies writes better – character or plot?

I like the character stuff to a degree because I think you need good characters to keep you involved but I think I switch on Doctor Who more for the escapism of the stories so I guess I prefer the plots. I don’t watch soap operas so I don’t really need it in Doctor Who – its better to spread the character journey across an entire year rather than sticking all in one episode like Father’s Day which felt so unlike Doctor Who it might have been another show.

That’s not to say you can’t do good character stories like The Girl in the Fireplace and Human Nature…

Yeah but they had really good plots to back them up. It was a good mixture of character and plot. Father’s Day was just a load of random things going down and Rose wailing a lot. It was dreadful.

Finally…Catherine Tate?

‘Where am I? What the hell is this place?

Why do you like Catherine Tate?

She just makes me laugh. After all that crying and emotion we really needed to laugh and I think she might be just the ticket. Rather than just having the Doctor crying in the TARDIS you needed that sense of the show moving on straight away.

And its not like there are no consequences to this episode because he does bring Rose up a lot in the next season.

True. I love how random this is. Shove Catherine Tate in a wedding dress and have her turn up in he TARDIS. Davies probably thought that up and then worked out the story later!

Sum up this episode that we have hardly talked about!

It was a good episode. There was plenty of action and plenty of emotional drama and even a laugh at the end. Rose was written out strongly, although not as advertised and Billie Piper was brilliant in her goodbye scene. I’m going to give this a four like the first half – half a point knocked off because Rose didn’t die and half a point knocked because the Cybermen were a bit lame.

Its worth noting then that whilst you may have preferred Tennant as the Doctor you much preferred the stories in season one to the stories in season two. You gave Eccleston’s last half of the season a 5, 5, 4, 4half and a 5 whereas this year you scored 4, 4, 3half, half, 4 and 4.

Really? That surprised me! See what I’m saying about things getting stale over time? Half a point?

Fear Her…

Don’t even talk to me about that. I’ve tried a mind wipe and it seemed to be working until then. I have a feeling that series three is going to do a lot better, you know.

**** out of *****

5 comments:

James Matthews said...

I have laughed so much reading that,thankyou oh and tell your fella he is very funny.

James

Joe Ford said...

Many thanks for your comment - I told Simon and he was delighted! :-)

Chris Matthews said...

A really funny and endearing read. Makes me remember when i used to make my ex-partner watch Dr Who, and check he hadn't fallen asleep, and he'd make me watch Buffy. The funniest thing is Simon keep pointing out how common Rose is, he's so right

Chris M

Joe Ford said...

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I read this out to Simon and he was really amused...somebody else who agrees that Rose is a chav! :-)

Ed Azad said...

Simon sure has a blood lust, doesn't he?

Also, his remark about Davies cliffhangers is on point...but you could have nailed his ass to the wall by mentioning some of Moff's greatest hits.