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.
What do you want me to say?
Solid gold banter!
|Above: An ancient piece of "vid-ee-oh" technology. Steam-powered.|
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.|
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 Eastenders? Well, 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!|
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.|
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 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?"|
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.|
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.|
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.|
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-|
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.
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.|
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.|
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!
(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.
(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.
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.|