Sunday, 29 December 2013

His Last Bow-Tie

Doctor Who
The Time Of The Doctor
2013 Christmas Special

Farewell, old friend.  Oh, and Clara.
It's over.  Matt Smith is no longer the Doctor.  And good luck to him: four years is a long time on one show, there are greener pastures out there, and he's a brilliant young actor with lots to do.  But since about 2011 Matt has been the only thing I consistently liked about Doctor Who.  The writing, the direction and the supporting cast all benefit from Matt Smith who has become my favourite Doctor, ever, out of all of them and now he's gone.  It's not a happy occasion.

I'm not sure what would make a "good" finale for Matt, since I don't want him to go.  The Time Of The Doctor feels more like it's saying goodbye to Steven Moffat which it isn't, worse luck throwing in a few of his old monsters, and tying up many of his lingering plot threads.  The Crack, The Silence, Trenzalore, The Oldest Question In The Universe and Who Blew Up The TARDIS are all resolved, or at least name-checked.  If you're the sort of obsessive Doctor Who nerd who's still asking these questions (so me, then), this episode has you in mind.  But I'm not sure that makes it a very good Christmas Special (my family and friends were lost), or a good send-off for Matt.  Frankly, I don't know what I think of it.

The plot's a mess, but I do like bits of it.  Here's the gist, and here be spoilers: the Time Lords sent the Oldest Question ("Doctor who?") through the Crack, to check if it's the Doctor they're talking to, and to see if it's safe to come through from wherever Gallifrey is stuck.  (Why do they need his real name?  Couldn't they just say "Who's there?" and see if the Doctor answers?  Couldn't one Time Lord pop through and check?)  A lot of aliens don't want the Time Lords back, so they've surrounded the source of the transmission, which is Trenzalore.  (We know the Doctor will be buried there.)  The planet is protected by the Papal Mainframe, who want to keep the Doctor from answering the question as it'll cause havoc.  They become The Silence, who are (mostly) a force for good, apart from the bad ones in Series Six who blew up the TARDIS and caused the Cracks.  (D'oh!)

I like that effort has gone into resolving these things, although Christmas seems like a funny time to do so.  It's very telling that this stuff needed resolving in the first place, but there you go.

Onwards: nearing the end of his life, the Doctor devotes his remaining years to guarding Trenzalore, repelling every attempt to, er, destroy the Crack?  Get at the Time Lords?  Kill the village of humans that inexplicably lives on Trenzalore in a town called Christmas?  Kill him?  I've no idea what they're after if they just want the Time Lords to stay gone, why not leave the Papal Mainframe to it? but when the monsters show up, the Doctor sends them packing.  It's easy.  Their aim (particularly the Daleks) is worse than ever.

Hang on, back up: since when is the Doctor nearing the end of his life?  Well, Time Lords get twelve regenerations, and it turns out he's used all of his.  John Hurt's Doctor counts, as does David Tennant's clone/regeneration in 2008, so there we go: Matt is the Thirteenth Doctor, not the Eleventh.  This is more complicated than actually interesting.  (The story of modern Doctor Who.)  The twelve-regenerations rule was the last real danger to the Doctor's existence.  It was probably interesting enough to make a full episode some day, so it seems a shame to tidy it away early, in the middle of everything else, using nothing more than small print and fairy dust.  What a waste.  It's not as if Moffat's thought of a brilliant solution to the problem: Clara just asks the Time Lords nicely to give him some more regenerations.  Is that it?  Couldn't he have done that?  It's a bit obvious, isn't it?  Hands up who already dismissed that sort of thing as being too obvious?  (Again, that's modern Doctor Who.  Surprise!  It's the thing you were expecting!)

Well, you wanted an older Doctor.
Anyway: I like the Doctor's choice to stay and protect the town.  I think it's a Doctorly way to finish his life, even if I don't really get who these people are, I don't really care about them, and I don't know why they're being attacked.  I like Matt Smith very much in these scenes, give or take a bit of dodgy age make-up; he always made the Doctor seem old, but he does a great job of being decrepit on top of all that.  (Mind you, the Doctor once said he regenerated instead of ageing, and Smith's Doctor has aged centuries since 2010 (he reminds us in this episode) but hasn't got visibly older.  Why are we only paying attention to some continuity?)

Start to finish, it's a beautiful performance from Matt Smith.  Everything that makes him the Eleventh Doctor is here, including a few direct references like spitting out a drink (The Lodger), doing his awful wedding dance (The Big Bang) and interacting strangely with a wall (The Eleventh Hour).  He even chomps a bit of fish custard before he regenerates.  More importantly, he's understated and clever and constantly interesting.  The way he responds to regeneration as something miraculous that will save his life, rather than something horrible that will kill him makes a nice change from how David Tennant exited the show.  Of course, he's sad and reflective given time to think about it, but it's still done differently from last time.

The way regeneration is used in the plot (magic energy that blows up the Daleks) makes little sense and involves Matt Smith shouting, which is probably the only thing his Doctor doesn't do well.  But Matt's final scene is perfect, thank goodness.  He gives a thoughtful speech that bends the fourth wall a little, and yes, I cried.  I've seen it again, and cried again.  It's brilliantly written, brilliantly done, and exhibits all the natty understatement that makes Matt so thrilling to watch.  If there's a downside, it's the cameo from Karen Gillan (who insists on calling him "Raggedy man" one last time) which over-eggs the emotion by some way.  It was more than enough for the Doctor to glimpse little Amelia running around.

Anyway, he regenerates (with a bang, which is different but undeniably a bit disappointing), and we get a neat scene with Peter Capaldi.  Typical new-body-part joke with the TARDIS crashing (seriously, park that thing when you're regenerating), but he makes a good impression.  I was too upset about Matt to really think about it, but I'm sure he'll be great.  It's not his fault they've done the regeneration/"I've got new ___!"/TARDIS crashing routine to death now.

So what else is here?  There's Clara, with her previously unseen family, at Christmas.  (Seriously, who are these guys?  Why have they re-cast her dad?  What was all that trite pretend-you're-my-boyfriend rubbish in aid of?)  She's the same as ever, so enthusiastic, competent, a gaping hole where a personality should be.  She seems desperate to be with the Doctor (who sends her away, just like Christopher Eccleston did with Rose coincidence?), but given that she goes home between episodes anyway, that doesn't ring true.  Matt Smith bounces off her with the usual verve, but it's telling that in his final moments, he's thinking of someone else.  Maybe she'll get on better with Twelve.  (Or is it Fourteen?  Oh, whatever.)

We've also got Tasha Lem, head of the Papal Mainframe, who's written suspiciously like River Song (with references to psychopaths and an unexplained ability to fly the TARDIS).  Given that I'd rather gnaw my arms off than see River again, I'll refrain from complaining about Tasha, who does the heavy-handed flirting thing rather well, I suppose.  (Though really, Steven: are all women psychopaths?)

Isn't he adorable?  And... presumably someone's head?
We've also got lots of monsters, which is good news for younger viewers.  There's Daleks who refuse to shoot straight; Cybermen rendered cute by the Doctor's Cyber-pet, Handles (will they ever catch a break?); Weeping Angels who are interested in Trenzalore for some reason; and those weird Silent things which are apparently not so bad after all.  (Nice try, but I haven't forgotten them zapping a woman to death in The Impossible Astronaut.)  The Daleks are the Big Bad, and they're doing that silly convert-you-into-a-Dalek thing again, except now it's reversible if you concentrate.  (This buggers up the plot of Asylum Of The Daleks, but never mind.)  They've also remembered who the Doctor is, so I guess erasing him from their memory banks went nowhere after all.  Brilliant!

Speaking of ideas that never went anywhere, the Doctor leaves Trenzalore.  Back up: does that mean he isn't buried there?  Didn't he say he can't change that?  What does that mean for his grave (specifically Eleven's) in The Name Of The Doctor, which was what allowed him to meet Clara in the first place?  I guess since he changed his own timeline massively in the previous episode with no apparent repercussions, we're not meant to pay attention to this stuff any more.  Except when we are.

When you stack it up, the plot's largely bollocks, held together with obsessive continuity, bad continuity and tinsel.  Some of it's almost too inconsequential for comment, like the farce about cooking a turkey, needing to be naked (but still wear a clothes hologram) when you visit the Papal Mainframe, and the truth field on Trenzalore.  (What, are the Time Lords worried he'll give a false name?)  It's probably meant to be clever to go from "fluff" to "heartbreaking tragedy" in one episode, but I could do without the fluff altogether, thanks.  Still, I liked the joke about Matt Smith's wig, which is meta but really funny, and the wooden Cyberman was cool.  When all's said and done, I've seen worse Christmas Specials.  But then, I've seen better regeneration stories.

Sigh.  It's a jumble of sweet, well-intentioned rubbish, and it's typically up to Matt Smith to be the best thing in it.  It's a shame we didn't get to see more of him (and we should have: only three series were made in Matt's four years), but I'm grateful to have seen him at all.  We're losing a brilliant talent, a unique take on the Doctor, and something interesting to watch every week.  He's my favourite, and I'll miss him.

Monday, 16 December 2013

The Bookcase Of Fear #4: To Kill A Mockingbird (and some others)

To Kill A Mockingbird
By Harper Lee

The front cover of To Kill A Mockingbird (my copy, at least) is a statement.  Black.  The title and the name of the author in simple print.  A vague doodle of a mockingbird, plus a note: Pulitzer Prize Winner over 30,000,000 sold.  What more do you need?  Why put extraneous effort into selling a thing that is about as officially "good" as it gets?  (Of course, it might just be an inexpensive edition.  But I like my theory better.)

The book's reputation precedes it, but still, famous as it is, I didn't know the ins and outs of the story.  I knew the theme racism and injustice and had an inkling there'd be a court-case, possibly over a rape or a murder.  It's rare and gratifying to remain otherwise spoiler-free on something so famous.  (I recently had the same pleasure reading Great Expectations.  Never read it before, never saw the movie.  Not much chance of that with Oliver Twist.)  As it happens, a well-meaning friend told me how Mockingbird ended as I read it – oddly, they remembered it wrong and spoiled nothing.  (EDIT: Turns out I misread their comment, so it wasn't the spoiler I thought it was.  D'oh!  Apologies...)  I spent the rest of the book expecting one outcome, and when the opposite occurred, I literally gasped.  This doesn't happen often when I read.  I suspect that, with or without the dodgy spoiler, this makes potent reading.

I almost don't want to discuss the plot, as there might be others like me who don't know it.  Suffice to say, a black man is accused of raping a white woman; his attorney is Atticus Finch, serious and straight-talking father of two, and probably the most level-headed person in Maycomb.  Finch is one of the most wonderful characters I've ever come across.  His relationship with Scout and Jem (his daughter and son) is beautifully handled – their habit of calling him "Atticus" (never any variation of "Dad"), and his policy of absolute honesty with them, makes the family feel real.

The book is told from Scout's point of view, which is a masterstroke.  The court-case is the crux of the plot, but it's only on Scout's periphery.  This is a clever way to handle what could have been a simple courtroom drama: the town folks' foibles, the dramatic twists, and the issues Lee wishes to examine are all seen through Scout's inimitable perspective.  A great way to ground what could have been a dry, even obvious look at racism.  Contrary to its serious themes, Mockingbird is an often fun, funny, delightful book, and much of this has to do with the observations of the unselfconscious tomboy, Scout.

The book's stance on racism is well-known enough for me not to go on about it.  (Pulitzer Prize, 30,000,000 sold, book and film both appear on a lot of Best Ever lists.)  As a plea for racial tolerance, it's honest and realistic; Lee doesn't ultimately believe these problems will go away overnight, even with guys like Atticus Finch on the case.  But it's also important to appreciate this book as a story, and it's a rich, well-told, frequently poignant one, numerous passages and phrases having passed deservedly into fame.  I'll be reading it again some day.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea
By Jules Verne

Another one of those famous classics I've been meaning to read, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea sounds like a rollicking adventure. It is and it isn't.

We begin with men on a mission: a mysterious something has been sinking ships, an expedition is afoot to capture it.  Professor Aronnax is brought along to identify it; his dutiful manservant Conseil and Canadian whaler Ned Land come too.  The monster is, in reality, the submarine Nautilus.  Our three heroes are captured by its mysterious Captain Nemo, who keeps them captive on his trip around the world.  (Just to clear up a particularly stupid misconception of mine, they travel twenty thousand leagues in the ocean.  They don't go twenty thousand leagues down, as that's impossible.  You know, a more accurate title would have been Twenty Thousand Leagues Around The World Under The Sea...)

This voyage allows Jules Verne's imagination to run riot.  Aronnax and co. see amazing sights, such as Atlantis, the North Pole, and innumerable wrecked ships.  It's an often thrilling adventure, particularly a moment when the crew face sharks in hand-to-hand combat (!).  But it's too long, and filled to bursting with obsessively tedious cataloguing of every single marine organism the Nautilus encounters.  I can't stress enough how boring this is.  It became such an issue slogging through these passages that I began skipping entire paragraphs, and eventually pages that began with "As for mollusks" or "As for zoophytes".  I can't imagine anyone but a marine biologist having room in their head for this amount of raw list-making data, and none of it progresses the story one iota.  (A more accurate title might have been Twenty Thousand Different Kinds Of Fish.)

This (at times, excruciating) need to identify and describe every single thing Professor Aronnax is looking at highlights one of the book's major problems: it is entirely episodic, and not really going anywhere.  Ned Land wants to escape from the Nautilus.  The Professor is quite happy to stay and catalogue marine life.  Loyal Conseil is happy as long as the Professor's happy.  So two thirds of this group just aren't all that bothered about regaining their freedom.  Months pass, some of it apparently in real-time, while the crew make notes of (and invariably, eat) every living thing in their path.  Nemo's stance on marine life is a little unclear, just as a few of Verne's ideas appear a little outdated: sperm whales are painted as vicious monsters, and Nemo seems entirely subjective about which animals it's okay to slaughter for his larder.  (A more accurate title might have been Twenty Thousand Exotic Fish Recipes.)  A great many fish seem curious about the Nautilus and swim beside it.  I wanted to yell, "Run!"

Like Mockingbird, I didn't know too much about Twenty Thousand Leagues: I only knew there'd be a battle with a giant squid.  There are myriad references to shipwrecks, which led me to think "Ah, that'll be the squid, this is going somewhere."  It isn't.  Eventually they encounter some squids, then they go away.  I'm guessing the movie exaggerated, but that particular sequence is a disappointment.  Also, I'm going to spoil something now to save you any disappointment: despite endless references to the mystery of Captain Nemo and his troubled, anti-heroic past, there are no answers at all in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea.  Verne wrote a sequel, The Mysterious Island, which apparently delves into Nemo's past.  If that means another 400 pages of zoophytes and mollusks, I think I'll stick to Wikipedia.

When this is good, it is thrillingly so.  At its best I was reminded of other fantastic voyages (like Conan Doyle's The Lost World, a book I adore, and H. Rider Haggard's She).  At its worst, I was reminded that Jules Verne probably did a considerable amount of research before writing the book, and yes, he'd like you to know about it.

Doctor Who: The Missing Adventures
The Shadow Of Weng-Chiang
By David A. McIntee

Sequels are a tricky business, especially when they follow something popular. (Which, really, all sequels do.)  Author David A. McIntee says here, "No one in their right mind would even suggest a sequel to The Talons Of Weng-Chiang, which is why [I] volunteered instead."  To his credit, his book doesn't try to copy that fan-favourite Doctor Who story, very much telling its own tale in its own style.  But it is arguably less effective on both counts.

Shadow concerns a group of Chinese mercenaries (circa 1937) trying to recreate the time travelling villainy of Magnus Greel.  (The Weng-Chiang of the title.)  Shedloads of historical research has gone into it: you're never far from some detail about how things looked and worked, or what the political climate was like.  It's impressively thorough.  The characters are similarly well-rounded, to the point where McIntee's sympathies seemingly lie with all of them.  The villain, beautiful and ageless Hsien-Ko, has her reasons.  Her violent lieutenant loves her, and wants to spare her the grief of killing.  Her enemies include Lee, a policeman with a dupicitous past, and Wong, a man with a double-life as a vigilante crime-fighter and nightclub-owner.  Everyone has a secret agenda, families to consider, and so on.  It gets a little muddled trying to figure everyone out.  The absence of a strong villain (as Magnus Greel stays fittingly in the shadows) dampens the tension quite a bit, although a monster from Talons, murderous ventriloquist dummy Mr Sin, steals the show.

McIntee has a good ear for the Fourth Doctor and Romana, but as they're among the more confident and indomitable TARDIS teams (armed with K9, who can zap anyone into submission), they never seem to be in any real danger.  At least they're never less than entertaining something Tom Baker and Mary Tamm always guaranteed.

A book of thoughtful detail that does not simply retread the original Gothic masterpiece, this is a diverting action-adventure, but isn't without its problems.  The climax is big on technobabble and small on simple, compelling threat; we stay away from the creepy atmosphere of Talons, but Shadow tries a little too hard to avoid it and is rarely creepy at all, which is not what I wanted; heartening as it is to consider every character's feelings, it does makes a good vs evil struggle rather harder to pull off; and as I discovered reading Twenty Thousand Leagues, there's only so much historical research you can do before you're in danger of using fiction just to join the dots.  But, grumbling aside, it's an often exciting story.

By Terry Pratchett

One of roughly a million Terry Pratchett books I had yet to read, Thud! is among the more recent (and to my mind, more mature) Discworld stories, touching on racial tension via the amusing medium of dwarfs and trolls: they've never been able to stand each other due to a historic misunderstanding no one can clearly remember.  It's a Sam Vimes novel – that's the head of Ankh-Morpork's police force, The Watch – and Vimes must solve a dwarf's murder whilst also being a good dad to his very young son.

I've previously found Vimes one of Pratchett's more archetypal (and therefore, boring) heroes.  He's old, had much Hard Knocks schooling, and is generally wiser than anybody else.  See also, Granny Weatherwax.  Basically he's in danger of being too good at his job to remain interesting – it's nice to have a little honest incompetence, and just what happened to Rincewind, anyway? – but Thud! keeps him interesting with the problem of keeping his son happy, and juggling the ever-irritating responsibilities of being part of Ankh-Morpork nobility.  Vimes, and the rest of his beloved Watch, are vivid fun to be around.  I'm looking forward to the next Watch book.

Pratchett deals with racism with a light touch – which is to say, if this wasn't set in a fantasy realm, schoolteachers would probably take it quite seriously.  Just having plenty to say on the subject of age-old prejudices doesn't make it a worthy or serious book, however.  It's as compulsively readable (and fun) as Pratchett's best, and manages to say things without hitting you over the head with them.  (Although characters do frequently hit each other over the head.  There are a lot of trolls, after all.)

The only real downer for me was the ending: as Vimes is possessed by a weird "darkness" pervading the city, and does its bidding, everything goes a bit metaphysical and illusory, in that how-much-of-it-really-happened way usually associated with dream sequences.  As the all-important conclusion, this didn't especially satisfy me.  But it's one of the book's very few bum notes.  I'd recommend the rest.

Casino Royale
By Ian Fleming

Right, then.  James Bond.  He's not an especially nice or interesting person – something exacerbated by his various film personae, who rely on how charming or flippant they are to distract from his basic bastardliness.  He's paid to spy and kill people, and he has absolutely nothing else in his life.  Unsurprisingly in Casino Royale, the first Bond novel, it's characters other than Bond who caught my attention.  His chipper French friend RenĂ©e Mathis, and American counterpart Felix Leiter, both hold court better than he does.  Bond is just a man doing a job.

But there's an understated poignancy to him, a sad addiction to work and routine, touched on (at least) in the recent film adaptation.  He's solitary and dogged.  Also, good at Poker, which is largely the reason he got this job.  (Incidentally, Casino Royale comes close to making me understand how Poker works.  Close, but no cigar.)

Fleming's misanthropic hero spends a surprising amount of time contemplating the morality of what he does.  Not something you'd expect from Roger Moore and chums.  Also, while the infamous torture scene does elicit a wince, what's surprising is the amount of time it takes Bond to recover.  He almost doesn't.  He's no superman after all, and unlike most of the films (sorry!), he does fall in love. 

I'd be interested to see what the subsequent books are like.  Does Bond turn into a soulless caricature, or was that the films' fault?  Whatever happened afterwards, Casino Royale is a well-told thriller and it has aged well.  The 2006 film added a lot to the start, but the story didn't change very much.  That's a bit of a rarity, and a good sign.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Fifty-Year Itch

Doctor Who
The Day Of The Doctor
Fiftieth Anniversary Special

" reset to its factory settings.  Happy anniversary."
Right then.  Fifty years of Doctor Who to celebrate, one episode to do it in.  Go.

Where do you start?  The obvious answer is Lots Of Doctors, because that's how it's always been.  We've had The Three Doctors (Tenth anniversary), The Five Doctors (Twentieth) and Dimensions In Time (Thirtieth, but we ignore that one).  And why not: it's an entirely logical way to step it up, For One Night Only.

The hard part is why they've come back, and what to actually do with them.  The Doctor is regularly painted as the most amazingly brilliant man in the universe, so you'd need an amazingly horrible problem to require more than one of him to fix it.  So far we've had a Time Lord emergency, abduction by megalomaniac, TARDISes colliding, sheer coincidence, and randomly popping up one after another for Children In Need.  (Or whatever Dimensions In Time was actually about.)  But we've also had umpteen finales threatening the universe and time itself and all the bits in-between, and one Doctor has mostly sufficed.  What is there for another one to actually do, besides own a second screwdriver?

The Day Of The Doctor has an elegant solution: just as he's about to end the Time War with an ultimate sacrifice, the Doctor (John Hurt) is offered a glimpse of his future selves, and at the consequences of his actions.  He's with the other Doctors so he can learn from them, not just so they can topple the monster-of-the-week.  It may not be Steven Moffat's first pinch from A Christmas Carol, but it's a neat idea, and it ties up the last eight years of Doctor Who.

Above: the entire 'Classic era' celebration.
If one were to nitpick (perish the thought), it doesn't have much to do with Doctor Who pre-2005 you know, that whole fifty-years bit so I'm not sure how much of an overall celebration it really is, despite having the original titles and various sneaky references.  (Headmaster: I. Chesterton!  UNIT dating!)  More alarmingly, it cuts out all the Doctors before John Hurt, whose Time War Doctor didn't exist a year ago.  This is a bit galling if you're, say, a fan of any of them, especially on the big anniversary.  And quite a lot of us are in that boat.  (Peter Davison's fabulous Five(ish) Doctors Reboot goes some way to filling the void.  Move over, Curse Of Fatal Death: this is the best and most affectionate Who spoof ever.)

So it's not what a lot of people expected, and no, Christopher Eccleston isn't in it either.  (Big surprise.)  I suppose it's no use moaning about what it isn't: we'll just have to examine what it is.  So what about this Time War Doctor?

Well, he's a bit of a masterstroke, allowing us to look at the "new" Doctors from an outsider's perspective.  As a crusty old fan for going-on twenty-one-years, this is absolute manna.  He's the kind of Doctor we're just not allowed any more: older, a bit slower, and not afraid to use long words.  Ever since 2005 the show's been more exclusively youth-orientated, with a lot of baby-talk and sonic-screwdriver-pointing, and it's enormously satisfying to address that.  (Of course it would have been nice to have someone like Sylvester McCoy doing the actual addressing, but since Hurt's embodying classic Doctors in spirit, and since he's John ruddy Hurt, it's not a bad compromise.)  The lack of any preconceptions or past episodes gives Moffat (and Hurt) a blank slate to work with.  He's fascinating to watch.

He's also utterly, spit-your-drink hilarious.  We all knew it'd be fun to put Matt Smith and David Tennant in a room and it is but seeing them chided by a blustery old uncle is pure Doctor Who gold.  I honestly can't pick a favourite put-down.  There's "Do you have to talk like children?", and "What are you going to do, assemble a cabinet at them?", but then there's "Timey what?" and his tone of voice when he hears "Allons-y." I want to hug everything that comes out of his mouth.  It's a shame we can't keep him for every time there's a bad line.

Hurt-Doc catches up on old scripts.
He's up to Rise Of The Cybermen.
As for his eventual decision, and the emotional heart and soul of the episode – er, that's less of a masterstroke.  Blowing up Gallifrey has never sat well with Steven Moffat's "Everybody lives" philosophy, so this isn't a huge surprise, but it's still pretty horrifying: all three Doctors agree that the pros outweigh the cons and prepare to press the button, until Clara talks them out of it using tears, so they tuck Gallifrey away in a pocket dimension allowing the Daleks to blow each other up in the crossfire.  The Time Lords survive, the Daleks die, everybody's happy, although the Doctor forgets (leaving all his subsequent moping in place).  Yeah, there's several quite big problems with this.

1) The Doctor didn't have a choice.  There was no alternative.  That's how Impossible Choices work.  Reminding him how sad it is that people will die isn't actually going to help, seeing as they'll die anyway if he doesn't do it.  And rewriting it so that there was another choice all along reduces the dramatic stakes to zero.

2) Didn't the Doctor also do this to stop his own people from destroying the universe?  Okay, there's a reference to the High Council having "other plans", but that doesn't tally with blowing up all of Gallifrey to stop them, as he directly said he did in The End Of Time.  It's no longer clear why the Doctor needs to blow up Gallifrey in the first place, since the Daleks are now the only problem again, the "impossible" choice has been rewritten so that it's, um, a slightly difficult one?  The ruddy goalposts have moved, again, in order to make things less interesting.

3) Considering Doctors #10 and #11 know the Daleks will survive, probably because of that daft "crossfire" plan, why not detonate The Moment anyway with Gallifrey gone?

4) Actually, since the Daleks survived, what's the fecking point in any of it?  Wasn't their survival one of the main reasons he's regretted it ever since?

The upside is that it didn't go where The Name Of The Doctor was hinting.  Hurt isn't there to deflect genocide onto a comfortable "doesn't count" incarnation.  Doctors #10 and #11 own up to the deed, and gradually remind Hurt that he is the same man after all.  But none of that counts for very much if they're just going to wipe away all that nasty drama and leave behind inconsequential fairy-dust.  Everything that's happened since 2005 still stands, because amnesia, but now all that PTSD (including Christopher Eccleston's entire character arc) is meaningless.  It might be "big" to rewrite this stuff, but it's not really worth it.  Everybody lives, and absolutely none of it matters.  Aptly enough, someone should have considered the consequences.

Okay, enough about what doesn't work.  It's the anniversary special, so what's special about it?  Well, there's Zygons.  Are you happy now, surprisingly-vocal-Zygon-fans?  The manky shapeshifters look and sound great, their plan holds just enough water (although where did they get Time Lord art from in the first place, and why are they so obsessed with non-organic technology all of a sudden?), and they're just inconsequential-yet-scary enough to keep things interesting until the real plot explodes.  (Typical Moffat, this is in the last reel.)

Then there's Kate Stewart, acting-replacement-for-the-Brigadier, who continues to be a wonderful addition to the Whoniverse.  It doesn't make much sense that UNIT would grab the TARDIS and not know the Doctor was in it (particularly as a motorbike disappeared inside moments before, so clearly someone's home), and it makes no sense at all that these consummate professionals wouldn't look for intruders under some suspicious sheets, but whatever: I like her, and her assistant with asthma.  I'll trade the Paternoster Gang for them now, thanks.

Two eyes.  One shot.  Hundreds of Facebook cover photos.
There's all the juicy Time War footage, which okay, still doesn't visualize all the weirdness we've heard so much about it's not so much "moments on fire" as "Daleks shooting things" – but it looks great.  And the big finale, putting all questions of what it means to one side, is lovely, with all thirteen (!) Doctors dropping by at once, including Peter Capaldi (!).  We even see the gang together, avec body doubles and dry ice, in a cute final shot.

Then there's the thing that made headlines in the first place: David Tennant is back!  Here characterized as a dashing ladies' man who's noticeably short on Time Lord eccentricity (and usefulness), but then that's exactly how I've always seen him, so I loved it.  He gets some hilarious interplay with Elizabeth I, some delightful moments with Matt Smith, and best of all, the burden of Doctorliness doesn't have to rest on his shoulders any more, which is good as I always found him lacking there.  To quote Clara, he's a hero, and "any old idiot" can be one of those.  (It's just a shame about the "I don't want to go" joke, which is in pretty poor taste.)

There's not much good stuff to say about Clara, whose continued anonymity means she's randomly a schoolteacher now.  She's cute, she's clever, she has virtually no distinguishing features, so all those moments where the other Doctors marvel at her Clara-ness seem rather unearned.  But on the plus side (and who saw this coming?), Billie Piper's in this, and she's great.  No longer playing Doctor Who's reigning spoilt brat, Piper excels as the conscience of the ultimate weapon.  Distinctly human yet radiating alien intelligence, it's enough to make you wish they'd given Rose's character a few tweaks before letting it out of the workshop.  Come back, Billie, all is forgiven!

Best fanfic ever!
Lastly, not leastly, there are the Easter Eggs.  John Hurt regenerates, or begins to, enabling Youtubers to make that all-the-Doctors compilation at long last.  So there you go.  (He regenerates for literally no reason, but he adds "I suppose it makes sense", so I guess that's all my questions answered!)  And, oh right, Tom Baker is in it after all.  Surprise!  Whether this is jumping the shark or paying homage to someone who's lived the part for forty years, it's still completely mesmerising to watch, not to mention having him interact with my other favourite.  Every mannerism is absolute magic, as it always was with Baker, and it's absolutely worth the weirdness just to have him back for this one scene.  Never mind all that Gallifrey Falls No More guff the scene's actually about I haven't been this emotional about Doctor Who since, well, last week.

Which brings us to Matt Smith, who's as good as ever, which is to say he's quite a bit better than the material.  His Doctor has been a bit stuck on wibbly-wobbly for a while now, but Smith still manages a few genuinely thespian moments, and he's never less than captivating.  With so little time to reflect, I just wish we got more episodes out of him.

And that's it.  There's a lot to like: it's often funny and sometimes dazzling, and hey, it's the first episode of Doctor Who I've actually wanted to watch again in years.  Is it a good celebration?  Yes and no: it's actually better than most multi-Doctor extravaganzas, which tend to be aimless pat-on-the-back-fests, but the point it tries to make is still rather misguided.  It takes pains to set up a future for the Doctor which, I can't help but suspect, seems more exciting on paper than it will be in practice.  But, we'll see.  Fifty years on, we're lucky to have a future to contemplate.  It makes sense to celebrate that, if ultimately little else.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Whoniversary! Day Of The Fanboy

It's the 23rd of November, 2013.  Doctor Who is fifty years old, and I am going to celebrate.  I'm not going to do it alone.

Yes, for one post only, I'm bringing back The Hill, previous co-writer of this very blog!  (And current writer and illustrator of the dazzling Hillesque.)  Oh, what fun we shall have, live-blogging-it-all-at-once-afterwards.

We'll begin the day watching The Mind Robber, the first Doctor Who story I remember seeing.  The Hill, are you excited to watch a story starring Patrick Troughton?

What do you want me to say?

Solid gold banter!

Above: An ancient piece of "vid-ee-oh" technology.  Steam-powered.

10.00am: The Mind Robber

The story begins with the TARDIS buried in lava.  The Doctor panics, and uses an emergency switch to send the TARDIS into a realm outside of time and space. 

Well, this seems like a nice place to get old and die.

The Hill, who watched all of the William Hartnell era with me but opted out after he regenerated (William Hartnell is the only real Doctor), sizes up the new companions.  Particularly Zoe. 

Ugh.  I hope she dies.

I see this is the start of the Doctor having twattish companions who do stupid things.

Help, Doctor!  My mouth's full of candyfloss!

"Jamie, Doctor, help me, I'm trapped!"  It's a fucking door*Zoe walks in, falls to her doom*  Hahahahaha!

I wish they'd stop showing me her arse.  It's all I can see.

The Mind Robber, starring Wendy Padbury's arse.
She doesn't like Zoe very much.  All of a sudden, Zoe beats up a superhero.

Oh, apparently she's really good at fighting.  So she has one redeeming feature.  Even if this is really poorly done.

She's optimistic about Jamie, fan-favourite, who finds himself locked in a castle. 

Maybe he'll do something cool.

We catch up with Jamie shortly afterwards.

Well, he did fuck all.  How disappointing.

Do you at least like Patrick Troughton?

I like him sometimes.  When he's understated.  When he's over the top, it's like he's in a children's play.

Things come to a head when the Doctor is plugged into the same fiction-creating machine as the bad guy.  (Well, that seems like a good idea!)  Cyrano de Bergerac battles d'Artagnan; Sir Lancelot batters Blackbeard.  I vividly remember this from when I was little, although I do remember it being a bit more spectacular.  (It's actually a bit boring.)

Soon everything is solved by Jamie and Zoe mashing some buttons and the Doctor pulling the plugs out of the bad guy's head.  (I said he should do that!)  It's an abrupt ending.  The Hill, what did you make of The Mind Robber?

Well, the first episode was reminiscent of The Space Museum and The Edge Of Destruction, in a sort of random-bollocks-what's-going-on kind of way.  The final resolution reminded me of the end of Amy's Choice, in a nice way.  It's a shame it was so abrupt.  It didn't really have a conclusion.  I thought Zoe was irritating and useless.  Um.  But I guess the rest of it was fairly entertaining?

So, yes, a classic, glad we agree.  One thing we both like is the Doctor saying that, just because he's been to the year 2000, doesn't mean he's an expert on its pop culture.  Are you listening, David Tennant, whose Doctor has read all the Harry Potters and watches EastendersWell, are you?

Next up: An Adventure In Space And Time.  I've been saving this for two days.  We both love William Hartnell, and The Hill especially loves his early days with Ian, Barbara and Susan, so this drama (about all of that) should be pretty good.  I've tried to avoid spoilers, because apparently there are spoilers about this fact-based drama set in 1963.

As seen on iPlayer, via the Wii.  I've got technology whiplash!
1.00pm: An Adventure In Space And Time 

By Mark Gatiss.


Gatiss's main scriptwriting hang-up is excessive nostalgia.  This is a period piece.  He can't miss.

The nostalgia's very bittersweet.  Lots of references; I spot William Russell (Ian) as a security guard, plus Jean Marsh (Sara Kingdom) and Anneke Wills (Polly) in a crowd.  The recreated original cast are a mixed bag.  Ian and Susan are all wrong.  (Whoever cast them should be fired.  Have they even seen the actors they're supposed to be recreating?)  Barbara and the Doctor are much better.  The combination of David Bradley's sad old man, and the heavily cuddly music, is already making me rather teary-eyed.  It's very sad.

He's quite attractive.

She means Sacha Dhawan, as the show's first director, Waris Hussein.  We like the angle of Waris (the BBC's first Indian director) and Verity Lambert (their first female producer).  I love Verity's impassioned speech defending the first Dalek story as a really great, meaningful piece of television, and not just a load of bug-eyed monsters.  It feels like what I've always wanted to say to people who take one look at Doctor Who and just sort of sneer at it. 

Yes.  I like stuff about women, and I quite fancy him.

Yes, we get the picture.  Wedding's in June, everyone.

An Adventure In Space And Time, starring Sacha Dhawan's arse.

What do you think of Brian Cox?  He's a very versatile actor.  You hate him normally.

Do I?  It's probably because I didn't like Manhunter.  He's all right in this.  Anyway, I like David Bradley, but he's too tall.  He's the same height as Ian!

And too old.  How old was William Hartnell?

He was 55, playing older.  David Bradley is 71.  Playing... 71, I guess?

But he's supposed to be playing William Hartnell!  He's playing someone in his 50s, but he looks really old!  Ugh.

All this is during a break where The Hill makes an apple crumble.  (Because Doctor Who, I guess?)  We settle down afterwards to watch the rest.  By the time he's forced out of the show, we're both in tears.  I already had a quiet little blub when David Bradley did the "One day, I shall come back" speech; when we see Hartnell do it at the end, it's a sledgehammer.

We don't want you to go, either.  :(
I do not understand Doctor Who fans' obsession with regeneration.  It is morbid and sad.

I know.  It's weird, the focus being so much on how sad and painful it all is.  You kind of wonder if it's worth it.  I wish they hadn't emphasised Hartnell's illness and line-flubs so much; that "Chesterfield" thing became a running joke, you know.  It just seems as if he bumbled through it, but that's not fair.  I suppose they've only got 90 minutes, though.

I don't think they focused on the fact that he was actually really good.  I think his acting and his portrayal of the Doctor got much better as it went on.  You certainly don't notice any line-flubs in the later episodes.  Yeah, I don't like that all my favourite characters left.  And that's just what the show is.

It was never the same after Susan/Ian/Barbara went.  Anyway, this is a moving drama, very affectionate, if a bit skewed and angle-y.  (Well, it would be, it's not a documentary.)  I suppose it's good that they didn't just say "It was all worth it, the show comes first", and focused instead on Bill Hartnell.  That seems right.  Even Matt Smith looked sad and resigned about it at the end.  (That was the spoiler.  And that was fucking weird.  It was like, "I think I'm having a stroke!"  I like to think they were saying, "The Eleventh Doctor has to go as well.  He knows how you feel, Bill."  Or something.)  There just is no happy ending here.

With sore eyes and hot apple crumble, we watch the interviews at the end.  We're glad they added them.  It feels right to consider the real William Hartnell afterwards.  He was much more than just a grumpy old man who forgot his lines.  As for the rest...

Matt Smith is brilliant as the Doctor but I can't stand him as himself.  He just comes across as a complete idiot.  It's bizarre, you know, it's the complete reverse of David Tennant.

And on that note, I've decided to watch my favourite episode of the new series.  Without further ado, it's...

Let's watch this instead.

The Hill finds Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide on iPlayer, so we end up with that.  You'll have to wait for the Favourite Episode.  No peeking!

"Geez, Hill.  Don't you like anybody?"
3.30pm: Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide

Who's she?

That's Clara.  (It starts with a specially-filmed segment in the TARDIS.)  What do you think of her? 


She quite likes Karen Gillan's Guardians Of The Galaxy hair, though. 

Quite attractive!  Who are they?

I don't know who most of these people are.  I hope they'll go away.  (They don't.)

This is your typical talking heads clip-show guff, complete with all the lazy official idioms, so Hartnell is "grumpy", Troughton's a "clown", Pertwee's a "man of action", Peter Davison is "young", Sylvester McCoy is "Buster Keaton", blah blah blah.  They even talk about how Daleks couldn't do stairs, but then they could.  Christ, are we still on this?

A couple of incredibly thick-sounding people do Dalek impressions.  A thick-sounding narrator calls the Fifth Doctor "Peter DaviDson", the Whomobile a "pimp-wagon", and says such-and-such "didn't suffer fools gladly".  Jesus.  Make it stop!  At least there are a few amusing own-goals: some bloke says "Delete" was the Cyberman attempt to "come up with another word for 'Exterminate'", and John Simm's Master performance was "He was told to chew the scenery, and did."  That's about the size of it.

On it goes.  At one point they roll out Hartnell's "One day" speech.  No!  I'm not crying again!  We don't have the energy to watch it all.  That's definitely why we stopped.

So, what's my favourite episode?  Well, it's not everybody's.

The Dream Lord contemplates you.  He is unimpressed.
4.30pm: Amy's Choice

Any opinions on this one?

Before we watch it?  I like it.

Phew.  (We watch it.)  Right then: I suppose I love Amy's Choice for its simplicity.  This isn't another half-baked, overcomplicated Doctor Who plot.  It's a tight mystery, with just enough ideas; all of them fit nicely.  Which reality is the real one, the future in a creepy village or stuck in the TARDIS freezing to death?

It's not gonna be the one where she's heavily pregnant, is it?  How are they gonna carry on with that next week?

How indeed!  (Melody Pond reference.)  Anyway, you're supposed to go "Oh, it's obviously the TARDIS one".  There's that line: "What's this, Attack Of The Old People?  Oh, this is ridiculous!"  Turns out it's Option C!  Cleverington.  The plot is just-right-sized, including the baddies: we've got scary old people with a memorable gimmick ("There is an eye in her mouth!"), a cold sun threatening to seriously freeze-burn the TARDIS crew, and then there's the Dream Lord.  Toby Jones is completely mesmerising, creepy, clever and funny all in the right dose.  And he never came back to Doctor Who.  For once, they had a good idea and didn't overdo it!

Best of all, Amy's Choice is a vehicle for some juicy character-development.  The Doctor's relationship with Amy comes to the fore her dependence on him, his influence on her, their shared effect on Rory.  The plot comes entirely from who these characters are and why they like each other.  Yes.  Just yes, all of it.  The Doctor's lifestyle is re-examined.  ("What is the point of you?")  The music's moody.  The special effects look good.  The direction makes all those little Dream Lord appearances and disappearances look great.  Even when it snowed on location, and it wasn't supposed to, it looks like that's what they meant to happen!  It's like both realities are the same, hint, hint!

He's like an adorable little pug that knows your secrets and will kill you.
It's a pretty good episode.  Matt Smith and the Dream Lord are very good.  I like the Amy and Rory character development, and it makes me cry, but in a nice way, unlike that drama we watched earlier.  It makes me even more resolved not to watch beyond Series Five again.  Other than this evening, obviously.

Okay, so moving on...

Oh, and I like when he drives through the village in a camper-van, rescuing people.  He doesn't rescue people very often.  It's not hugely plot-relevant, but it is what a hero would do.

Yeah, that bit's great.  See, it's the simplicity again: he goes and rescues people.  Just does it, for once.  I mean, it's all great, but... yes.

Next up: pausing to eat and rest, because those are things humans need to do.  Followed by some recent Doctor Who minisodes, which will hopefully prepare us for the main event!

Official Eighth Doctor idiom: good-looking.
6.30pm: The Night Of The Doctor

So then.  The end of Paul McGann's Doctor.  (Although it sort of ended in 2005.)  What do you think of Paul McGann?  ('s Doctor.)

Although I found the TV Movie utterly traumatising, for obvious they-murdered-my-Doctor reasons, I do think that Paul McGann is a good actor and gave a very sweet portrayal of the Doctor, and I would have liked to have spent more time with him.  Like, seriously: get rid of Eccleston and Tennant.  Replace with McGann.  Much better.

And in this?

I was surprised by how excited I was to see him.  Unfortunately it didn't go where I was hoping it would.

You mean you weren't hoping to see him die?

Yes!  There are infinite possible adventures I want to see with the Eighth Doctor but DYING was the one thing I DIDN'T want.

I liked him in 1996, and I like him here.  He does Moffat's "funny" dialogue really well, and considering it's seven minutes long, he gets a lot of emotion across.  There's none of that nudge-wink campiness that's stuck to Doctor Who so much recently.  I like it.  I'm glad McGann got to regenerate, although it feels like a funny sort of favour after what happened to William Hartnell...

I thought the stuff on the spaceship was all right, but the stuff on the planet was very boring and quite disappointing, for such an important mini-episode.  Most of the dialogue was dreadful, but I guess we've come to expect that.  I really don't think the Doctor would stand there and die just because some woman wouldn't get in his TARDIS.  She was terrible, by the way (which probably explains why I thought she was Clara at first).  It makes no sense that he completely changes his mind about the war, and what he stands for, in the course of two sentences.

So not a fan, then?

No.  I am not a Doctor Who fan.  I'm surprised it took you this long to notice.

Right, onto Minisode #2, released on iTunes.

"If one Dalek gets through, we're finished."  What's the worst that could-
6.30pm: The Last Day



It's not much to write home about.  I guess Christopher Eccleston wasn't the only Northern Time Lord, then?  Um... I liked the bit about downloading people's death-memories.  (It's very Steven Moffat.)  The bit where that speck on the horizon turns out to be a Dalek is very obvious.  (Also very Steven Moffat.)

Also, words like "sky trench"?  I bet he doesn't even know what that means.

Righto, that's us "prepared".  We hope you are too.  (If you've made it this far, congratulations!)

It's at this point our friend Sam arrives.  He stopped at Tesco to buy junk food.  The shop assistant said: "Doctor Who snacks?"  THIS PERSON IS PSYCHIC.

So, Sam.  Excited about the 50th anniversary episode?

I have no clue what's going on.  It's not the thing about the first Doctor Who?

This is the Fiftieth Anniversary Special Episode.  They also did a documentary drama-type-thing, which is probably what you're thinking of.

So, are you excited about The Day Of The Doctor?

Yes!  Because I may have some inkling of what's going on.


Timey what?
7.50pm: The Day Of The Doctor

There'll be a proper review of this soon, so I won't say too much.  (We're on, what, a million words already?)  But I laughed.  I loved it when John Hurt took the piss out of the other two.  I liked the Zygons.  I loved the opening titles.  I don't know if any of it made sense, but it made me smile a lot.  It's probably a good anniversary celebration.  Oh, and: Peter Capaldi!  Sam, did you enjoy it?

I did!  I actually really did.  

Sam goes on to try to describe the plot:

It's undoing in that not-poor way, where it never... happened?  It didn't never happen, and...

And then he just wept unintelligably.  And you, The Hill?

Yeah, it was okay.  I liked that John Hurt groaned and complained at all the really embarrassing modern stuff. 

I already said that.  Say something else.

David Tennant wasn't as bad as I remember.  But that Car... Cara woman, whatever she's called, I wish she hadn't been in it.  What's she called?

Well, he was sort of in it.
CLARA.  They said it about a million times.  Agreed, though, I wish she wasn't in it.  Don't hate her, I just get nothing from her at all.  What, so she's a teacher now?  I thought she was a nanny?  And I see they're back to only seeing each other once in a while, which is boring.  She and the Doctor continue to have no chemistry.  Oh, and she is apparently Northern, every tenth word or so.

So, I think it was very conspicuous that Christopher Eccleston wasn't in it.  There was no reason for him not to be in it.  He's talking to these two incarnations that follow on from him, but... there are three.  Why have we skipped one? 

Mm.  It didn't bother me because the episode was so busy and Hurt was so great, but whenever there was a shot of the three of them, I did think... come on, that's meant to be that other bloke.

It's cool that they did the bit with "all thirteen" of him, but what are they saying?  Is that it, then?  Why not all twenty-three, why not all fifty?  They only did it because they know who the next one is-

I KNOW, how cool was that?

We settle down for the Afterparty.  I hope for an announcement of sorts, beginning with M and rhyming with Barco Polo, to confirm what I've heard in the papers.

It's been a long day.  I'm tired.  GENERIC PICTURE.
9.00pm: The Afterparty

Oh no!  It's live!  I can't bear it.  Turn it down, please.

Oh God, is that River Song?  Mute!

(Unmuted for the Tom Baker interview.)

Oh Christ, is that One Direction?  Mute!

I love that John Hurt is looking somewhere else.

We spend some minutes making up our own questions-One-Direction-probably-asked.  We're pretty confident about "Which of our songs would be the Doctor's favourite?", but we're too scared to confirm.  We periodically put the volume back on, cringe ourselves inside out, then restore the mute.

Ooh!  Michael Sheen!  I love him!

Ooh!  John Barrowman!

River Song again!  AAARGH!

I love the bit presented by K9, particularly the way he says "And... one... actual quarry."  Was rather hoping he'd confirm Marco Polo had been found, but, ah well.

There's not a single other television show that's done this, is there?

He's talking about regenerations, but that's still a succinct summary of the Fiftieth.  Cheers, Sam!

Doctors Five, Six and Seven turn up.

Good, maybe Colin Baker can be a miserable bastard again. 

(He was miserable in The Ultimate Guide.)

I love Peter Davison!  And Sylvester McCoy was my Doctor. 

Well, two out of three ain't bad.

The gang plug the Big Finish audios like their lives depended on it, bless them.  Then they plug The Five(ish) Doctors, which we're watching next!  Meanwhile we can't help laughing awkwardly at Colin Baker's appetite for cake.  And his face, when they told him that thing was a cake!

BBC3 starts playing The Ultimate Guide again.  Quick, press the Red Button!

10.05pm: The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot
(Our quest to actually watch it.)

We missed the start.  The Red Button sucks.  Good grief, can't they just put this on iPlayer?  Or BBC3, even?  There's nothing good on.

We leave it on, muted, until it starts again.  The Hill and I don't look at the screen.  Sam does.

Oh look, it's J-


Ahh, that's cute.  But don't look. 

God, how long is this?  Start again, damn you! 

Oh, it does look like it could be concluding.  It's about to end.  Oh, no it's not. 


It "ends".  Except Sam thinks he spies Behind The Scenes stuff.  Then a two-week-later epilogue.  Why not throw some ad breaks in while you're at it?  Fifteen minutes, I thought this was.

CREDITS!  Right, it's starting again.

It appeared online afterwards.


At last!
10.35pm: The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot
(For real this time.)

Well, that was perfect.  It was so good, I don't mind that they weren't in The Day Of The Doctor.  I don't even mind that they didn't announce Marco Polo.  I'm going to watch this again as soon as I can.  So, so funny.

Yeah, it was very funny.  I love Peter Davison.

John Barrowman was in it.  That's all I'll say.

Fair enough.  He was really good, too!  I love how gung-ho they all were.  I loved all the references.  I don't know which was my favourite.  I think it might have been Adric.  No, Shada!  What an amazing spoof.  I wonder what it was like for people who don't get it.

Silence from Sam.

I liked the bit where Sylvester McCoy quotes himself and Colin Baker says "stop quoting yourself" and Sylvester McCoy says "I got a bit wrong, actually."

I liked how mean and funny Colin Baker was.  The way he said "Really?" when Peter Davison explained it wasn't a real TARDIS.  And I liked John Barrowman's secret double-life.  All the John Barrowman stuff was really great.

John Barrowman.

Okay, fine, I'll try to find a picture of his arse.

I liked the bit where Peter Davison's having his dream, and she says "You're my mum's favourite", and then he rewrites it as "You're my favourite."

That whole dream sequence was just... laughing too hard, ahhhh.  Right, we should wrap up, literally no one is reading by this point.  Our Doctor Who Day.  Did you enjoy it?

I'm so tired.  But, yes, I did.  Now can I go to bed?

YES.  Sam left too, in case you're wondering.

So what did I make of our day?  (I'm talking to myself.  And you.)  A lot to take in, almost all of it good.  The Ultimate Guide and the Afterparty stank, but overall, it's been a great anniversary.  Quite possibly better than hell, it's definitely been better than Dimensions In Time.

And now, happily, all celebrated out, it's time to contemplate the future.

Oh.  Yes.  They.  Did.