Educational Who

The Doctor and the Dalek wants to help children learn programming skills.
The Doctor and the Dalek wants to help children learn programming skills. Image: BBC Photograph: BBC

UK Guardian: Doctor Who’s latest adventure sees him teaming up with a Dalek and trying to save the universe, but also teaching children some early computer programming skills.

This isn’t a TV show, however: it’s a game due to launch on Wednesday 22 October on the broadcaster’s CBBC website. The Doctor and the Dalek includes voice narration from current Doctor Peter Capaldi, and a new story by Phil Ford, who has written for the TV show.

The free web game is aimed at 6-12 year-olds, and involves freeing a battered Dalek from a ship of Cybermen, then building it back up to full strength through puzzles based on the programming elements of the new English computing curriculum.

Children will be combining instructions to accomplish a given goal, using variables to alter behaviour, exploring repetition and loops, and using their logical reasoning skills in order to rebuild the Dalek.

Ford’s story is set on the Sontar homeworld, which the BBC says has never been shown on-screen before, although many Doctor Who fans will be familiar with its aggressive inhabitants, the Sontarans. The action will also take players to the Cyber-tombs of Telos, last seen in a 1985 episode of the drama.

Jo Pearce, creative director of BBC Doctor Who Interactive, told The Guardian that Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat and executive producer Bryan Minchin were both involved in the approval process for the game. “It is part of the Doctor Who world: we don’t differentiate it,” she said.

The BBC has also created material for parents and teachers to accompany the game, which also tie in to the new computing curriculum in England.

“This touches predominantly on key stage two, but then goes in to key stage three. We wanted the game to be something that could help teachers in the classroom as well,” said Pearce. “Teachers are getting their heads around this new curriculum, so it was a big aim for us to do these teaching packs.”

The project was the work of BBC Wales and creative agency Somethin’ Else, working with BBC Future Media to a commission from the broadcaster’s BBC Learning division.

“Getting children inspired is the big thing for us around this game. When you say ‘coding and programming’ straight away it feels like a very dry topic, but our aim was to show children you can have fun,” said Pearce, ahead of the game’s launch.

“When we put the game out to tender, we wanted it to be the best Dalek game there can be. It has to be addictive and fun, and the learning elements are core to that.”

The Doctor and the Dalek's puzzles are based on the new computing curriculum in England.
The Doctor and the Dalek’s puzzles are based on the new computing curriculum in England. Image: BBC Photograph: BBC

The game also aims to be a spur for children to investigate the kind of programming tools they might be using at school, rather than competing with them.

“Because there are excellent platforms like Scratch and Blockly out there, we didn’t want to do any duplication,” said Rich Jenkins, development producer at Doctor Who Interactive. “We talked to teachers and kids, and they were looking for that first step to demystify programming and not make it feel difficult.”

The project included input from Dr Tom Crick, senior lecturer in computing science at Cardiff University and chair of the Computing At Schools body in Wales, and Rik Cross, head of education for Code Club.

“We have taken the learning element very seriously so were really keen to get the right people involved who had that level of authority,” said Pearce. “We want this to be the first step to inspire children into coding, and to gradually take them on to more academic tools like Scratch.”

“This stuff is quite new to the curriculum: some schools have only just started, while others have been doing it for a while. So you get some 10 year-olds who know how to code their own games, and others who don’t know anything,” added Jenkins.

“The game starts at that [latter] level of ability and gradually increases the coding learning. Kids start off on simple sequencing, but by the final chapter they’ll get into things like Boolean logic and quite complex procedures.”

For now, the game is only playable on computers, but the development team is working on future updates that will make it work on tablets too, likely by early 2015.

Children power up the Dalek to help it survive in the main platform game.
Children power up the Dalek to help it survive in the main platform game. Screenshot: BBC Photograph: BBC

The Doctor and the Dalek is part of a wider project at the BBC called Make it Digital, which will be the broadcaster’s big educational initiative in 2015, following on from its focus on the first world war in 2014.

Besides the new Doctor Who game, the corporation has already launched a series of “Bitesize” guides tied to the new computing curriculum, and revealed plans for new shows Appsolute Genius, Technobabble and Nina and the Neurons: Go Digital on its CBBC and CBeebies children’s TV channels.

“Tony Hall, the Director-General, said that in 2015 he wanted to get a new generation to get creative with coding,” Jessica Cecil, the BBC’s controller for Make it Digital, told The Guardian.

“We’ve gone away and thought ‘what can the BBC do in an area where there are some incredible initiatives already?’ The first is to inspire, because what we do best is tell stories. Secondly, we can attempt to shine a spotlight on the wonderful world of what people are doing with technology.”

Cecil’s colleague, head of strategic delivery Kerensa Jennings, stressed that the BBC’s efforts will not just focus on programming skills.

“This is about have-a-go digital literacy: making, creating. It’s not all just about programming: it might be having a go at a robotics challenge, or 3D printing, or experimenting with digital design or animation,” she said.

“We’ll also be taking an unplugged approach in the real world, helping people to feel inspired around computational thinking even when they’re nowhere near a computer.”

Review: Flatline

AS Always…SPOILERS!

flatline posterThis episode left me a little Flat! :)

IT’S BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE TARDIS!!

Actually, the idea of a two dimensional monster is actually all that bad, but I just couldn’t get worked up about the menace. Maybe it was just that I was tired. It was cool, but literally, the episode was flat for me.

But I did like the playing with dimension, especially the TARDIS.

But this also felt like a bit of a Doctor-Lite Episode, though traditionally that’s Episode 10. But Peter Capaldi was very good in this episode also.

His Doctor as Pragmatically, dogmatically so sometimes, as ever.

But this one fell to Doctor Clara, and her companion Rigsy.

Jenna Coleman’s Clara acquitted herself quite nicely being Doctor-ish, at least 12th Doctor-ish.

They fun with the Psychic Paper not working quite as well for her as it would for The Doctor, but she blusters her authority all the way through and even saves her companion from a noble self-sacrifice. :)

But in the end, she had to be clever.

And this Doctor got to give his version of the 10th Doctor “It is defended” moment.

So does this make a turning point for our taciturn Doctor?

We shall have to see.

I am not going to bother with trying to analyze or guess what dear old Missy is up to, it’s a Moffat thing so it literally could be anything so I’ll wait until the end to find out what the heck this was all about.

But I still think it results in some way the doom for Clara Oswald.

And was it just me or did that “siege mode” TARDIS look like a toy version of The Pandorica?

The Mirror:

She is told that she excelled as the Doctor, but that none of it was ‘good’, and indeed the Doctor seems more remorseful than Clara over the lives that were lost in order to save the world.

Though Capaldi’s Doctor has struggled to understand humans, and hasn’t shown an outstanding amount of outward compassion towards the inhabitants of this tiny blue planet, he has often tried to understand monsters and aliens.

Perhaps the fact he waited until the final possible moment to take the nuclear option on the 2D invaders shows he isn’t so heartless after all.

And with Clara going from being disgusted by the Doctor’s lying on the Orient Express, to being forced into lying in Flatline, the companion has a new understanding of this difficult to understand Doctor.

Maybe their strained roller-coaster friendship can be stabilised and saved… but probably not.

Moffat doesn’t do THAT kind of fairy tale ending.

The 2014 ratings so far:

  1. Deep Breath 6.8m (overnight) 9.17m (final) 10.76m (L+7) AI 82
  2. Into the Dalek 5.2m (overnight) 7.29m (final) AI 84
  3. Robot of Sherwood 5.2m (overnight) 7.28m (final) AI 82
  4. Listen 4.8m (overnight) 7.01m (final) AI 82
  5. Time Heist 4.93m (overnight) 6.99m (final) AI 84
  6. The Caretaker 4.89m (overnight) 6.82m (final) AI 83
  7. Kill the Moon 4.81m (overnight) 6.91m (final) AI 82
  8. Mummy on the Orient Express 5.08m (overnight) 7.11m (final) AI 85
  9. Flatline 4.55m (overnight) TBCm (final) AI TBC

(iPlayer figures are not included in the ‘final’ figure)
(Live Plus 7 (L+7) counts those who watched live and all repeats, including iPlayer, within seven days following broadcast.)
(The Audience Appreciation Index (AI) is a score out of 100 which is used as an indicator of the public’s appreciation for a show.)

 

 

All GUS-yed UP…

Doctor Who: Who is Gus?

By Huw Fullerton (Radio Times)

We should have known from the start that Gus, the Siri-from-hell villain in tonight’s Doctor Who was evil. He may have had no physical form, but still managed to sport a dashing monocle – a clear sign of a baddie.

The drawling posh voice of actor John Sessions presided over a trainful of mayhem tonight as he forced experts to discover the secrets of invisible mummy The Foretold – and turn its secrets into weapons.

The Doctor and Clara narrowly managed to save the day, leading to the apparent destruction of Gus himself – but was he part of a wider conspiracy?

It might sound unlikely, but here are three reasons to suspect that Gus was more than The Evil Train That Could.

He has the Doctor’s phone number

That’s arguably not much of an achievement these days – everyone from a random banker he met once to Winston Churchill seem to have the Time Lord on speed dial – but mysterious figures ringing the Tardis seems to be a theme recently, with the Doctor keen to find out who’s giving out his details.

A strange woman in a shop gave Clara the Doctor’s number back in The Bells of St John (evil wifi episode, remember – no?), with many assuming that said shopkeeper is probably Michelle Gomez’s Missy, the Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere (and frequenter of cryptic scenes at the ends of episodes in this series). If this is true, then could Gus be an acolyte of Missy, and thus part of the series arc? (For more theories on the identity of Missy, see here).

We’ve heard from him before

The Doctor and Clara’s jaunt on the train wasn’t completely ad hoc – in fact, the Doctor mentions in tonight’s episode that he’s been summoned to this train a few times, even being called at the Tardis:

“He has tried to entice me here before. Free tickets… mysterious summons… he even phoned the Tardis once. Do you know how difficult a number…”

Sadly we can’t vouch for the free tickets (the scenes where The Doctor idly flicks through his junk mail are usually in the DVD extras), but one of the moments he mentioned actually happened onscreen, way back in 2010’s series finale The Big Bang (when the Doctor was played by Matt Smith).

To save you scouring the internet for it, here’s a brief reminder:

“Hello? Oh, Hello.

“I’m sorry, this is a very bad line.”

“No, no, no but that’s not possible – she was sealed into the seventh obelisk, I was at the prayer meeting.

“Well no, I get that it’s important, an Egyptian goddess loose on the Orient Express… .in space. Give us a mo…”

“Don’t worry about a thing Your Majesty…we’re on our way.”

Those were the days.

Anyway, clearly Gus has been playing the long game here – tempting an earlier incarnation of the Doctor by impersonating royalty (probably some form of intergalactic treason), and promising him a wild adventure.

And in a very hiding-in-plain-sight style of deceit, the fake summons was actually pretty close to what actually awaited the Doctor and co. Audacious, really.

It’s clear the monocled monitor of doom has been gunning for the Doctor for a while – might we assume that there’s more to this than a bit of Mummy research?

And finally… his name could be short for sarcophaGUS…

Like the one that a mummy would live in, right? Right…? There’s even a sarcophagus in the episode. Also, you know, a Mummy. To make it even spookier, he was a bit sarcastic… sarcastic-Gus? Get it? It totally scans.

I don’t know about you, but that last bit really nails it for me. Big conspiracy.

The End is Coming…

Official Synopsis released, so hopefully not Spoilers to you.
Flatline: Premieres Tomorrow

Synopsis:

On the streets of an ordinary council estate, the Doctor and Clara face an alien threat they can barely understand. As the creatures close in, Clara has to take charge of the spiraling situation – while the Doctor struggles with some dimensions that have become a little too relative for comfort.

Next Week: In The Forest of the Night

Synopsis:

One morning, in every city and town in the world, the human race wakes up to face the most surprising invasion yet.

Everywhere, in every land, a forest has grown overnight and taken back the Earth. It doesn’t take the Doctor long to discover that the final days of humanity have arrived…

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

The Tyger by William Blake: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172943

Welcome to the Tree Age.

 Then it Begins…The End of Season 34/Series 8

dark-water-death-in-heaven-cybermen

The BBC have released the official story synopsis for Dark Water, the eleventh episode and first part of the Series 8 finale, written by Steven Moffat.

In the mysterious world of the Nethersphere, plans have been drawn up.

Missy is about to come face to face with the Doctor, and an impossible choice is looming.

“Death is not an end” promises the sinister organisation known only as 3W – but, as the Doctor and Clara discover, you might wish it was.

It premieres Saturday 1 November with the time to be confirmed on BBC1.

The November 8th, ‘Death’ comes to TV Time…DEATH IN HEAVEN

Moffat wanted to kick people out of their comfort zone – “You think you know how Doctor Who is going to work. The bets are now off”

Winter Approaches

Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat reveals his motives behind bringing the Cybermen back for series 8…

Series 8 of Doctor Who is flying by, and will be all wrapped up next month. General consensus? It’s been a successful series, with our fag packet assessment being that more people seem to be keen on it than not.

For the two-part finale Dark Water/ Death In Heaven, Mr Steven Moffat has brought back the Cybermen. Chatting to Doctor Who Magazine, he explained why.

“I really wanted to do a Cyberman story, because they were always my favourites when I was a kid, and I was quite surprised that one way or another I’d never used them in any of my own scripts, except as supporting characters.”

Ever the tease, Moffat added that “I wanted to do a proper scary one.”

With Missy and Seb expected to feature heavily too, with appearances from Jemma Redgrave and Kate Stewart’s returning UNIT characters, we’re expecting the finale to be huge. (Den of Geek)

A month actually…WAH! :(

Then we’ll all have to wait 6 weeks or so for the Christmas Episode, then winter will settle in for 8 months and it will be colder than Mondas on a good day until Season 35/Series 9.

doctor clara heaven or hell

 

Emmy?

Fans of expensive statues signifying excellence, rejoice, as fantastic anniversary drama An Adventure in Space and Time has been nominated for an International Emmy Award.

The 50th anniversary special, written by Mark Gatiss, told the tale of Doctor Who’s inception with no small amount of panache, heartache and indeed, a few laughs thrown in for good measure,  will be facing competition in the TV Movie/Mini-Series category from the likes of

  • Alexander and Other Heroes – Globo TV Brazil
  • Radio – TV Man Union for NHK in association with NHK Enterprises Inc. Japan
  • Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter (Generation War – The Motion Comic) – teamWorx Television & Film GmbH / ZDF in co-operation with Beta Film and ZDF Enterprises Germany

In a statement before the nominations were announced, Bruce L. Paisner, the International Academy’s president and CEO, commented: In these troubled times in many places around the world, it is gratifying to see so many countries and organizations still striving and competing for excellence in television programming.”

It’s something of a banner year for Brits with the UK leading the nominations with six in total; including nods for Best actor and Actress for Stephen Dillane for The Tunnel and former Doctor Who guest star Olivia Colman for Broadchurch respectively.

Other Brit nominees include: the crime-thriller Utopia for Best Drama Series, No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka for Best Documentary and Educating Yorkshire for Best Non-Scripted Entertainment.

Nominations for the 2014 International Emmy Awards were announced today by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences at a Press Conference at the Mipcom convention in Cannes.

An Adventure in Space and Time has previously lost out for a BAFTA award and a Critics Choice award, so let’s hope this time around we’ve something to celebrate when results are announced on November 24th, 2014 at the 42nd International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton Hotel.

The Case for Gatiss

From Kasterborous…But I agree with it. I have said before that my choice for successor to The Moff is Mark Gatiss.

Moffat threw it out there some time ago. He said he was nearer the end of his time as showrunner than the beginning.

So the end is near – but moment must be prepared for! We want a smooth changeover to someone that wants the role and that we want in charge of our show (that’s right, it’s ALL about us). So if we want a smooth transition like the Fourth to the Fifth Doctor, without the attempted-throttling and less healthy viewing figures that followed the Fifth to Sixth, we might need a “Watcher” (and if you’re not following go and watch Logopolis immediately!)

I have a proposal: Mr Mark Gatiss.

The way I see it there are two questions to be answered concerning a new showrunner. The first; do they look right on paper? Do they have the skills and experience and knowledge base to carry of the demanding role of overseeing the entire show? In short, do they fit the person-spec.?

The second question; do we want them? Does the amorphous writhing hive-mind of fandom, shuddering with love, hate and list-making urges, want him or her as our leader – should he or she be chief neuron?…

So to open this series of features, I’m going to set out my own thoughts on what the showrunner role requires. This is not definitive – look out for of pot-holes, plot-holes, loose thinking and coffee stains.

  1. Delivering a significant number of key scripts e.g. series openers and finales and setting an example of the standard.
  2. Setting the brief, overall theme and tone for the whole series – how naturalistic, goofy or dark it will be and when.
  3. Supervising other script-writers – setting briefs, story outlines and finding the right woman or man for the job.
  4. A supervisory role for the whole production – while there are marketing and brand experts to take care of this, the showrunner needs to understand and lend their expertise to a range of issues when it comes to managing Doctor Who in the wider commercial context.
  5. Key casting decisions (the Thirteenth Doctor, for example) and possibly hiring and firing across the board – the showrunner has a say in putting the production team together in their Executive Producer role.
  6. Working well in a team, being flexible, generous with time (as it were) and LOVING Doctor Who.. .

So for this job we want someone who has experience of delivering a quality production with a wide range of settings, effects and guest cast on time and to budget. The Beeb is a public service broadcaster after all and the purse-strings are tight!

An Adventure In Space and Time

I put it to you that Gatiss fits this person-spec and is more than a serious contender for Moff’s replacement. Take a look at his CV…

Gatiss as Writer and Producer:

In short he’s written a LOT. From Doctor Who spin-offs during the Great Hiatus of the 90s, The League of Gentleman comedy series, screenplay adaptations of Agatha Christie’s Poirot and fear-master MR James, to writing for the current version of Doctor Who, Gatiss has notched up some impressive writing credits.

When it comes to the role of producer where the money and logistics of putting together a show and the team who make it, he’s also got the experience. Gatiss produced four episodes of the historical ghost story series Crooked House back in 2008. He has been an executive producer in his 2010 adaptation of H.G. Wells’s The First Men In the Moon (which he also starred in), Sherlock alongside Moffat and An Adventure in Space and Time, his love letter to Doctor Who.

firstmenmoon

Doctor Who is now a much more global brand and both co-creating and writing for Sherlock is a second international hit under his belt. But Gatiss’s writing experience goes beyond television scripts and screenplays with several books and audio dramas to his name. He’s written two Doctor Who audios for Big Finish and Doctor Who novels as far back as 1992 with Nightshade. He’s penned his own series of novels concerning Lucifer Box, a bisexual Edwardian spy somewhere between James Bond and Adam Adamant – the original model for Austin Powers and often cited as one of the inspirations behind Doctor Who…

Now a sticking point for some might be his writing for nuWho. To date Gatiss has written seven scripts since the show’s return in 2005, largely in historical settings:

  • The Unquiet Dead (2005)
  • The Idiot’s Lantern (2006)
  • Victory of the Daleks (2010)
  • Night Terrors (2011)
  • Cold War (2013)
  • The Crimson Horror (2013)
  • Robot of Sherwood (2014)

For many I think this will be his main set of credentials and many a potential showrunner will curry favour or fall foul of fandom on the basis of their work on the show. The Unquiet Dead was well-received as the first historical for the Ninth Doctor and Rose with Gatiss writing the first “celebrity historical” – Charles Dickens being one of his literary heroes.

unquietdickens

Some offerings have been less well received including the Idiot’s Lantern, Victory of the Daleks and the recent split in fandom after Robot of Sherwood – in fact Gatiss might be Doctor Who Marmite …(for those not in the know, Marmite is a breakfast spread that is known for being either loved or hated – no one in Britain thinks it’s just OK… as case in point, I think it’s the mould from Satan’s sewers but my sister (weirdo) loves it, as does our esteemed editor. Less said about him the better.)

It should be pointed out that almost every writer is Doctor Who marmite including Neil Coss (Rings of AkHATEn vs Hide), Neil Gaiman (The Doctor’s Wife vs Nightmare in Silver), Russell T Davies and Moffat himself. It’s not unusual that we might love some work by a writer but just not feel it with other offerings. On top of that episodes might not dazzle because of how the direction, performances or editing or music altered the end product. The notorious multicoloured Fatleks certainly had something to do with the muted response to Victory of the Daleks. Either way he has delivered some excellent work regardless of any duds and knows how to deliver 45 minutes of fast-paced, well-structured television that ticks the box.

So he’s experienced and knows how to write for television. But Gatiss has a USP that neither previous showrunners have – when it comes to TV and film, he’s got a wealth of experience on both sides of the lens.

sherwoodrobot

USP: Gatiss as Actor and Drama-Polymath…

Unlike RTD and Moff, Gatiss is an accomplished actor as well as writer and producer. He started out with small one-off roles in a variety of TV series in the early 90s as well as the P.R.O.B.E. Doctor Who video spin-offs The Zero Imperative (1995) and The Devil of Winterborn (1996) which he also wrote. Incidentally this meant he’d starred in productions alongside the Third and Fifth Doctors – Mr Gatiss is what we might call an uber-fan with acting talent! His visibility hugely increased with the TV adaptation of the stage comedy, The League of Gentleman which ran for three series from 1999 to 2001 and brought the macabre back into British humour. Gatiss again worked on both sides of the camera as one of the four-strong team. His comrades Steve Pemberton (Silence in the Library/ Forest of the Dead, 2008) and Reece Shearsmith starred in Doctor Who and An Adventure in Space and Time respectively.

Gatiss appeared on a fairly regular basis in mini-series and one-off character roles throughout the naughties. And as you know Kasterborites, he appeared in nuWho itself as the titular character and monster in 2007’s The Lazarus Experiment and in a large amount of prosthetics as Gantok, a flame-haired follower of the Silence in 2011’s The Wedding of River Song. Other notable appearances include the hugely popular Game of Thrones and as Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock, again which he co-wrote, this time with Steven Moffat.

gatissthrones

I have heard actors talk about the best directors to work with being those who’ve been actors themselves because they understand the pressures and challenges of being in front of a camera or an audience. Of course there will be exceptions to this and showrunner is very different to directing, but surely it must be a huge advantage to have experience of acting, writing and production? In fact we can add directing to Gatiss’s skills as he took control over what happened before the camera in his MR James adaptation, The Tractate Middoth. It must make sense to have someone pulling the strings who is familiar with the practical problems people face across the many disciplines that go into making a successful television show on time, to budget and with a bit of magic thrown in?…

The Second Question:

Pitchoffear

The second question I mentioned was whether the candidate is someone we want to have in control of our show – the MOST IMPORTANT show in the universe. And here I think Gatiss shares a crucial quality with his forerunners, in that he LOVES Doctor Who. The list of scripts, books and performances above is all the giveaway you need. To seal the deal we need do no more than consider that he had been trying to get An Adventure in Space and Time, the drama about the origins of Doctor Who, off the ground for years. The seeds were there as early as 1999 where Gatiss wrote and starred in several comedy sketches for Doctor Who Night. The Pitch of Fear features Gatiss as a Mr Borusa as a BBC executive and David Walliams as Sydney Newman pitching his idea for a new science fiction show. Doctor Who is, in short, in Gatiss’s blood.

The Case for Gatiss

So he has the experience in terms of writing, producing and understands the specific needs of a production like this. He has experience of several levels of making a drama from performance to the executive level. And he is in love with Who.

Beyond that I have two further humble suggestions for why Gatiss would be the perfect choice for showrunner. His heroes are storytellers. He is a literary fiend and a fan of all sorts of fantasy literature beyond the mad man in a box. From Charles Dickens to H.G. Wells he has absorbed and digested the cream of British horror, and speculative fiction. This man knows the genres that Doctor Who thrives on, and while we’ve had capers and fairytales with the first two showrunners, Gatiss might bring us a world of horror and ghost stories. Another author Gatiss admires is MR James, who used his academic background in medieval history to pen a wealth of terrifying short stories – one of which Gatiss adapted for the screen and directed as a Christmas ghost story – The Tractate Middoth starring some familiar faces from the world of Who. Doctor Who will need a new direction and putting the viewer back behind the sofa is what we need.

middoth

The second suggestion I have, is that in all his interviews and panel appearances, Gatiss comes over as a thoroughly lovely chap. Showrunners need to engage with the press and public and need to lead a team. Moffat has done incredible things like saying “please” to a room full of journalists and fans when asking them to keep spoilers off the internet. And it worked. An ability to act as an ambassador for the show is paramount. On top of that, being a thoroughly love chap also goes a hell of a way to building a healthy, happy and productive team.

Ladies, Gentlemen and others, I give you Mr Mark Gatiss – the next showrunner!

I agree.

 

Spoilers!

In case you missed it because they edited it to death, Doctor Who’s latest Music Video:

And pay attention, their are blink-and-you’ll miss them spoilers :) included.

 

Which brings me to the topic of spoilers.

I am one of those people that subscribe to the “I know one when I don’t see one”. Meaning sometimes spoilers are ok, but most of the time, not.

I didn’t download the leaked scripts or videos of this season’s first 5 episodes when they came out. I studious and steadfastly refused to watch them when offered also.

BUT

Part of the thrill of “Asylum of the Daleks” is when Jenna (Louise) Coleman appears on screen as Oswin Oswald, not Clara. You had to have the “spoiled” foreknowledge that she was the actress who was going to play the companion after The Ponds’ left to get the thrill.

If you didn’t know she was next companion, this nugget would mean nothing to you and you’d be confused by a certain Victorian Bar maid months later at Christmas.

Could you even manage to avoid all the clamor of Peter Capaldi’s casting announcement from August 4th, 2013 to the actual airing of the first episode over a year later on August 23rd?

You can’t unsee a spoiler. So I try to be selective about mine.

But I’m not perfect. As has been mentioned before I saw the leaked copy of “Rose” at a Doctor Who fan club meeting 3 weeks before it aired in 2005.

I must say, I was honestly underwhelmed for some reason back then. Watching it again when it aired on the BBC I was much happier. So in that case the spoiler was a determent to my enthusiasm.

Now, mind you that Season was not aired officially in the US until 2006.

Spoilers! :)

I routinely have seen the episode prior to the Doctor Who meetings (see Keith Toppings’ “Fairies” :) )so when I watch it with friends generally it’s already spoilt for me in a since.

The exception to the was “Deep Breath” where that was made Event TV.

Take the $10.2 Million dollars Doctor Who took in at the Theatres last year, showing The Day of the Doctor largely (and possibly exclusively) to a spoiled audience.

I also am a regular watcher of a You Tube episode commentary series where the person in question is watching Doctor Who from 2005 onwards and has never seen it before (nor seen the Classic old Who) and getting a new perspective on episodes I have watched before.

I also get a perverse thrill out of being River Song and laying out cryptic notes that aren’t spoilers per se, more like teasers. Things like “Coming Next: David Morrissey as The Doctor” when he at least knows that Matt Smith is the next Doctor and watch the reaction. I don’t want to actually spoil it for him.

I (and other apparently) kept saying “Spoilers!” all the time up until Silence in The Library and he did wonder why. :)

I waiting for “And he will knock for times” :)

So yes, I’m all over the board with spoilers. That’s why I go with the “I know one when I’m offered one” and pick and choice capriciously which is which.

So in that vein, here’s something for  you to chew on:

 

Review: Mummy on The Orient Express

SPOILER WARNING (as always)mummy poster

Doctor Who does a Mummy again, for the first time in nearly 40 years. “Pyramids of Mars”, a Tom Baker episode from back in the day was a scary bit with mummies.

While this Mummy was scary by the fact that the moment you say it, you had 66 seconds to live and no one else could see it.

But I did have quite the head snap when the after credit sequence opens up with The Doctor and Clara appearing to be chummy again which was a bit of a head turner after the meltdown Clara had in the last episode.

It’s a veneer though. Like the train itself.

But it’s also an addiction.

The voice behind Gus was addicted to finding out how the Mummy was killing people and gathered experts under false pretense  to try to get them to figure it out and then capture it so he could use it’s abilities. And it really wanted the The Doctor there to solve it, after all, he’d invited numerous times apparently.

The Doctor is addicted to the adventure. They Mystery. The need for  SOMETHING to happen wherever he goes so as to not be bored stiff by the blandness of regular life.

If he ever went on holiday an NOTHING happened he’d be bored out of his mind. He’d go loopie.

Clara, as shown by the end of the episode, has clearly snapped. She’s addicted to this lifestyle and she just can’t stop herself. A wobble, indeed…

She’s an adrenaline junkie just like he is.

And Mr. Pink is not going to be happy when he finds out.

There’s an intervention coming.

But whether it’s Mr. Pink, Missy, or just the Fates is yet to be told.

A lot of this season has had a theme of hard or unfair choices. Life’s a Bitch. 2000 years even more so.

Also, it must be said that this Doctor’s pragmatism is appearing to be heartless when he uses the next victims of the Mummy to gather data about it. And rather ruthlessly says that it won’t keep them from dying.

But I think it is more than that.

He was working on the problem. He couldn’t be certain he was correct so he isn’t one to project false hope and platitudes.

When faced with death, lets be pragmatic, analytical and solve the mystery.

As he said, if he could save her, he’d just continue using them until the problem was solved.

Just like a General on a battlefield. And the fact that Mr. Pink is a soldier and the Mummy was a soldier and we’ve had a plethora of soldiers and soldier-like situations is not a coincidence.

I just hope the Doctor was at Little Big Horn!

I’m The Doctor, I’m 2000 years and this is what I do and I can’t possible stop doing it.

Being attached in an emotional way  in the past hasn’t saved him from the heartsache, so lets just not go there, even if I do feel, let’s not show it shall we.

So he comes off as cold an calculating and he is to a degree, but he has so much on his to-do this that this is just the last check in the box of things so let’s get it over with and get onto the next big thing.

I’ll solve it  and then move on.

Eventually, Clara will leave and I’ll pick someone else up and we’ll do this dance all over again, and again.

There is a loneliness and a sadness I pick up in this Doctor.

He stole a TARDIS and ran off into the universe to see everything. Now, 2000 years later, it’s still what keeps him going.

But he’s been changed by the experience, as he says to Perkins at the end of the episode.

And to have a companion by his side to share it and show off his knowledge is the secret joy of his life. He doesn’t want to do it without company, to show off, to inspire, to share his time with.

He’s Pertwee. He’s the grouchy Hartnell. He’s the mysterious Tom Baker.

Jelly Babies in a cigarette case! Really??

But like a human owning a pet, they eventually go away or die and you have to get another one.

And life continues. But humans die quickly in comparison to him.

Such is the life of a 2000 year old Time Lord from Gallifrey…

 

The Moon Egg

Why we love the Moon Egg

tardis-kill-the-moonHumanity in the Whoniverse should thank the dragon-being’s ancient mum and dad for choosing Earth as its nursery as without it you would either have a banana only diet (unless you already do already) or be a Cyberman. Roughly 100,000,000 years ago the moon entered the earth’s orbit in which had a dramatic impact on Earth’s inhabitants at the time- not us but the Silurians. It should be known that the reason the Silurians hibernated was due to the “asteroid” coming to destroy the Earth which in reality was the moon. This allowed humanity the opportunity to evolve and become the masters of the Earth and essentially steal the Earth so we should thank the moon. Also if it had not been for the moon then our twin planet Mondas would still be right next to us. Considering that Mondas followed the course that it did it would have been easier for the Cybermen to invade and make us Mondas II or obliterate us as was the original plan for energy. In the distant future though we can look forward though to the cases of life upon the moon’s surface by 2367, a colony by 2540 and River Songs graduate from the Luna University in 5123- all to look forward to. (Doctor Who TV)

So all praise to the Moon Egg, the Savior of Mankind!

That’s what I love about fandom, we connect these kind of dots. It shows a level of creativity and passion that isn’t “normal” and I like that. I am that! :)

After all, thereais a book about the timeline of The Doctor Who Universe that has to be constantly revised by fans because of what comes out on the next episode. (waiting for Vol 4…)

We fans are the only ones who care about such things as what happened in “The Tenth Planet” in 1966 or “The Silurians” in 1970 and how it relates to last week’s episode that the writers of these classics never ever conceived of, and the writer of this one probably was not interested in to begin with.

That’s fandom for you. I love it.

Then we can talk about how some of the Monsters are actually good for Mankind!

Like the Jagaroth, The Fendahl and more. :)

But I think that’s a blog for another day (or a potential Phoenix Comic Con Panel) :)

 

 

 

 

 

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