Doctor Who Hits the Books

The Twelfth Doctor, as portrayed on TV by Peter Capladi, doncha know, is the main character in Silhouette by Justin Richards, The Blood Cell by James Goss, and The Crawling Terror by Mike Tucker. Silhouette takes the Doctor, Vastra, Jenny, and Strax on a journey where no one is who they seem; The Blood Cell puts the Doctor in a maximum security asteroid prison, along with all the worst criminals in the universe; and The Crawling Terror is a cross-time mystery with the Doctor having to defeat insidious insects that have taken over a small village. Muy intriguing.
 Crawling Terror: Gabby Nichols is putting her son to bed when she hears her daughter cry out. ‘Mummy there’s a daddy longlegs in my room!’ Then the screaming starts… Alan Travers is heading home from the pub when something rushes his face – a  spider’s web. Then something huge and deadly lumbers from the shadows… Kevin Alperton is on his way to school when he is attacked by a mosquito. A big one. Then things get dangerous.

But it isn’t the dead man cocooned inside a huge mass of web that worries the Doctor. It isn’t the swarming, mutated insects that make him nervous. It isn’t an old man’s garbled memories of past dangers that intrigue him.  

With the village cut off from the outside world, and the insects becoming more and more dangerous, the Doctor knows that no one is safe. Not unless he can decode the strange symbols engraved on an ancient stone circle, and unravel a mystery dating back to the Second World War.

Silhouette: Marlowe Hapworth is found dead in his locked study, killed by an unknown assailant. This is a case for the Great Detective, Madame Vastra. 

Rick Bellamy, bare-knuckle boxer, has the life drawn out of him by a figure dressed as an undertaker. This angers Strax the Sontaran. 

The Carnival of Curiosities, a collection of bizarre and fascinating sideshows and performers. This is where Jenny Flint looks for answers.      

How are these things connected? And what does Orestes Milton, rich industrialist, have to do with it all? This is where the Doctor and Clara come in. The Doctor and his friends find themselves thrust into a world where nothing and no one are what they seem. Can they unravel the truth before the most dangerous weapon ever developed is unleashed on the world.

Blood Cell: An asteroid in the furthest reaches of space – the most secure prison for the most dangerous of criminals. The Governor is responsible for the worst fraudsters and the cruellest murderers. So he’s certainly not impressed by the arrival of the man they’re calling the most dangerous criminal in the quadrant. Or, as he prefers to be known, the Doctor. 

What does impress the Governor is the way the new prisoner immediately sets about trying to escape. And keeps trying. Finally, he sends for the Doctor and asks him why? But the answer surprises even the Governor. And then there’s the threat – unless the Governor listens to the Doctor, a lot of people will die. 

Who is the Doctor and what’s he really doing here? Why does he want to help the Governor? And who is the young woman who comes every day to visit him, only to be turned away by the guards?  

When the killing finally starts, the Governor begins to get his answers…

 

History & Future

On the 23rd November 2013 the world celebrated Doctor Who reaching its fiftieth anniversary, receiving a Guinness World Record as some 94 countries were officially recorded as having shown the anniversary episode. However, the 18th September 2014 sees another milestone celebrated as, fifty years ago, An Unearthly Child was to receive its first-ever international broadcast.

The country in question was New Zealand, with the Doctor’s very first appearance outside the United Kingdom to be broadcast by Christchurch’s CHTV-3. The episode was shown at 7:57pm, sandwiched between news programme NZBC Reports… and a documentary about Dr. Gordon Seagrave, The Burma Surgeon Today, and was introduced by the weekly magazine The New Zealand Listener as:

The first of a new adventure series about an exile from another world and a distant future, travelling with his granddaughter and two London school teachers through time and space. Starring William Hartnell as Doctor Who and Carol Ann Ford (sic) as his granddaughter. In tonight’s episode Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, two school teachers, decide to try and find out more about one of their pupils who is puzzling them.

You can read the country’s introduction to the Doctor from the Listener below.

nz ch3
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Moving Day-Sept 27th

Having returned last month starring Peter Capaldi, show moves to 8.30pm to accommodate Strictly Come Dancing
Peter Capaldi

Doctor Who has been through many incarnations in its 51-year history but none quite so late as 8.30pm, where the show will move later this month in the latest twist in the Saturday night ratings war with ITV.

This is a whole one hour later than the previous four installments and just half an hour before the watershed (it will finish around 9.15pm).

The time-travelling show, which made its eagerly anticipated return last month with Peter Capaldi in the lead role, has been moved to a later time to accommodate the new series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Because “reality shows” are SO MUCH Better than quality TV. Bread and Circuses anyone?

But it remains to be seen how the move, due on 27 September, will be seen by younger Whovians and their parents, with the show not finishing until 9.15pm in its new slot. Doctor Who will now be head to head with The X Factor.

If I was a Cynical American I would think the network was TRYING to kill the show and then blame it on “ratings”.

Oops, I am one! :)

The show’s overnight audience may benefit by following the big-rating Strictly Come Dancing. Doctor Who had fewer than 5 million viewers last Saturday, down from nearly 7 million for Capaldi’s debut on 23 August.

The BBC said it had always been the intention to move Doctor Who to a later slot when Strictly Come Dancing returned.

Doctor Who has traditionally kicked off in the spring since its successful relaunch in 2005, largely avoiding a clash with Strictly, BBC1’s biggest show, but this year it was switched to the autumn for Capaldi’s entrance as the 12th doctor.

When it began in 1963, with William Hartnell in the lead role, Doctor Who aired at 5.15pm to attract a teatime family audience.

The new chair of the BBC Trust, Rona Fairhead, told MPs in her pre-appointment hearing earlier this month that she would watch the show while eating her tea before going to bed and waking up again to watch Match of the Day.

In its new slot she would barely have time to close her eyes before the football kicks off.

The switch, which was revealed on Wednesday when the BBC published its latest draft schedules, means Strictly Come Dancing will air from 7pm until 8.30pm, a 30-minute overlap with its long-time ITV rival, Simon Cowell’s The X Factor.

Cowell accused the BBC of trying to “damage” The X Factor when the BBC moved the Strictly Come Dancing launch show to Sunday night for the first time earlier this month.

A BBC insider said Doctor Who was following the pattern of other Saturday night BBC1 dramas, including Atlantis and Merlin, which both moved later to make way for Strictly Come Dancing.

And got cancelled!

“Viewing levels are still high at that time amongst young audiences and children, and Doctor Who has always generated very high levels of recorded playback and iPlayer viewing so lots of children and families already choose a time that suits them over the days that follow,” they added.  (Guardian)

So are they?

The first ever series of Doctor Who back in 1963 was shown at 5:15pm and was aimed squarely at a school-aged audience. When it returned in its re-imagined form in 2005, it was in a 7pm slot, and recently-departed Doctor Matt Smith’s last series began at 7:20pm.

Doctor Who has a hardcore audience who will find it regardless of when released. But, without wanting to sound like Helen Lovejoy from The Simpsons, won’t somebody think of the children?

If this trend continues, then it may mean that younger viewers won’t get to enjoy the time and space traveling antics of the Doctor and Clara.

This late air time may exclude the curious and new younger viewers. Younger viewers who may very well grow up to be a future Peter Capaldi or Steven Moffat (Doctor Who’s current showrunner). (Metro)

Or am I too cynical? Or do I just have an unreasonable hatred for Dancing shows?  We’ll see… :)

 

Worth My Money

My copy arrived 2 days ago. It was 2 weeks ahead of schedule.
It doesn’t have any NEW material on it. What it does have is some of the specials that were aired on the BBC that I had download copies of on Blu-Ray, like The Ultimate Guide.
It also has a Blu-Ray copy of the Christmas Special, previously all I had was a DVD.
And The 3D version of “The Day of The Doctor” is not included.
It has The Five(ish) Doctors in it’s only release on Blu-Ray. Which I re-watched straight away. :)
4 Discs.
IT IS A LIMITED EDITION.
But it’s best feature for those who don’t have regionless players is that this Blu-Ray set IS regionless and it played on my Blu-Ray Player.
I think a regionless player is really an asset to a Doctor Who fan (Or British TV fan) but it’s nice that this one is not blocked by this because a Blu-Ray in my regionless mean the colors are slightly off.
So there is nothing on here I haven’t seen and 80% of it I already had, even on Blu-Ray but I’m an over-the-top Doctor Who fan so of course I could justify buying it for the sole purpose of The Five(ish) Doctors on Blu-Ray!
That’s what fans do. :)
And at 40 pounds Sterling ($65 US) on DVD and 38 pounds ($62) on Blu-Ray, it was worth every penny.
This limited edition collector’s set includes the 50th anniversary special; The Day of the Doctor, Matt Smith’s Farewell; The Time of the Doctor, the Series 7 finale; The Name of the Doctor, and the Eighth Doctor’s (Paul McGann) surprise regeneration into John Hurt’s War Doctor; The Night of the Doctor.The collection also includes an exclusive cut of the read-through of The Day of the Doctor featuring Matt Smith and David Tennant, deleted scenes, new-to-DVD cinema trails and Mark Gatiss’ award winning drama about the genesis of Doctor Who; An Adventure in Space and Time. The hilarious Five-ish Doctors – starring Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and a host of special guests – will also be included on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time.”

So what’s a few cheaper dinners when you can have this for years to come. :)

That’s a sacrifice I am willing to make for The Doctor. :)

Episodes include:

  • The Name of the Doctor
  • The Night of the Doctor
  • The Day of the Doctor
  • The Time of the Doctor
  • An Adventure in Space and Time
  • The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot

Extras include:

  • The Day of the Doctor readthrough
  • Deleted scenes, trailers, and the cinema introduction for The Day of the Doctor
  • Behind-the-scenes features on Name, Day, Time of the Doctor and An Adventure in Space and Time
  • Doctor Who The Ultimate Guide
  • The Last Day mini-episode
  • Tales from the TARDIS
  • Farewell to Matt Smith
  • The Science of Doctor Who
  • 2013 Doctor Who Prom

The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Collection is out on 8 September 2014. There will be only 6,000 units on Blu-ray and 4,000 units on DVD.

 

Ratings X Factor

True, Doctor Who’s ratings are down. X-Factor UK is kicking Who’s ass, BUT…

Guest contributor Will Atkinson explains why no one should panic.

ratings-panic-2014

Doctor Who fans have a tendency to worry about ratings more than fans of other shows, and with good reason. The show has been cancelled or been put on hiatus twice, and recently overnight ratings have begun to show a bit of decline. Cries of “this is worse than the 80’s!” and “it’s going to end up cancelled!” have been adorning message boards and blog posts across the dark recesses of the internet recently. But is there really any truth in these statements? Well, I don’t think so, and I’m going to try and tell you why…

Ratings and the BBC

ratings-graph-s1-7Unlike most television channels, the BBC does not show adverts for anything except itself. This is because it has no need to, as, at least in the UK, its primary source of income is the TV license. The TV license is a sum of money that UK residents have to pay by law, basically, to watch TV channels. The BBC’s money from the TV licence isn’t dependent on ratings – this is why it can get away with having documentaries on BBC Four that no-one will ever watch, whereas other channels have to try and maximise viewership so as to make as much money as possible. Therefore, as it still has solid ratings, the BBC doesn’t have as much to lose by keeping it on air as other channels would. And talking of money…

Doctor Who Makes Shedloads of Cash

doctor-who-frubesDid you mourn the passing of “Sonic Strawberry” Doctor Who Frubes? Are you awoken every morning by the sound of a TARDIS alarm clock*? Was your last birthday celebrated with a cake made with an official Dalek mould? Okay, so you might have answered ‘no’ to those last few questions, but you can still see my point. Look around your house. How much Doctor Who merchandise, DVDs and books do you have? For every piece of Doctor Who merchandise sold the BBC makes a bit more money, and that’s a lot of money it wouldn’t get if the show was cancelled. The BBC is a lot smarter than to kill off one of, if not, the biggest cash-cow it has, especially as one of its other biggest money-spinners is Sherlock, and I’m not sure Mr Moffat and Mr Gatiss would be terribly enthusiastic about making anymore of that if the BBC stopped the production of the other show that they’re currently working on.

Also, it’s not like Doctor Who is sapping BBC resources either. Despite the fact that it is one of the most expensive programs the cooperation makes, it turns a healthy profit every year, and more than adequately finances itself. So, from a financial point of view at least, Doctor Who is still secure.

Television Has Changed

bbc-iplayer-logo1In recent years, Doctor Who’s overnight ratings have decreased. However, the amount of people watching it on iPlayer, Sky Plus and the like has dramatically increased. This has had a profound effect on the actual ‘final’ ratings. These have blossomed in size, with increases of over two million becoming more and more common. This shows how much the way people are watching television has changed. It used to be something that you had to watch at a certain time, or you’d miss it. Now you can miss it but still have a chance to watch it soon after by setting it to record or just by watching it online. The BBC will obviously take this into account, and so while the overnights might look slightly underwhelming, the overall ratings are very good. Remember, the decline in ratings hasn’t just affected Doctor Who. Across the channels, ratings are starting to drop a little bit, so Doctor Who isn’t alone in this.

It’s Still Incredibly Popular

2014-world-tour-capaldiAs you will all know, before the start of Series 8, Doctor Who went on a world tour, visiting major cities across the globe. How many other shows can still have the popularity and worth so that those making it can happily finance a trip around the world to promote its eighth series? And, following on from that, how many new shows these days manage to reach their eighth series? How many other programs on British television have been going strong (with the occasional lapse) for 51 years? How many other programs can throw themselves a 3D birthday bash that gets shown across the globe, takes the show in a new direction and then gets voted the best ever story? Not many, I can tell you.

Doctor Who’s all important “indefinable magic” is still going strong. Its ratings and popularity are going up all around the world. In the last nine years Doctor Who has cemented itself as one of the key programs of the modern age, and as one of the greatest shows ever made. Who in their right mind would cancel a show like this?

So, to conclude, I personally think that Doctor Who has nothing to worry about when it comes to ratings, and that it’ll still be on our screens for a while yet.

Therefore, it will now be terribly embarrassing for me if the Beeb do decide to cancel it.

*I have one, but I’ve stopped using it due to the fact it was incredibly annoying.

 

But I would say, Networks have done dumber things! Firefly anyone…

 

 

Listen, and you shall hear…

“Listen. This is just a dream. But very clever people can hear dreams. So please just listen. I know you’re afraid, but being afraid is all right. Because didn’t anybody ever tell you, fear is a superpower? Fear can make you faster, and cleverer and stronger. And one day, you’re going to come back to this barn and on that day you are going to be very afraid indeed. But that’s OK. Because if you’re very wise and very strong, fear doesn’t have to make you cruel or cowardly, fear can you make you kind. It doesn’t matter if there’s nothing under the bed or in the dark so long as you know it’s OK to be afraid of it. So listen. If you listen to nothing else listen to this. You’re always going to be afraid, even if you learn to hide it. Fear is like a companion. A constant companion always there. But that’s ok, as fear can bring is together. Fear can be bring you home. I’m going to leave you something just so you’ll always remember. Fear makes companions of us all.”

If I can’t do better job, then let those that did.

Mark McCullough and Connor Johnston pick out twelve faves from the 4th episode of Series 8. (Doctor Who TV)

Note: Episode spoilers naturally!

Once you have recovered and removed yourself from the safety of behind the sofa, join us as we pick twelve moments worth listening out for from Listen:

12. “Only three people left in the universe. And you’re lying to the other two.”

listen promo pics (9)

Several aspects of this scene stand out to me as interesting. Firstly the impact of the realisation that they actually are the last three people alive is a harrowing thought realised by the wonderfully dead landscape outside the confines of the ship. Second is the analysis from a psychological point of view, in that a character would prefer to lie to his potential saviours rather than admit he is scared. This is an example of Moffat showing his intelligence about what scares people; it’s perfectly relatable for the audience because no one likes to admit they are scared. As for the Doctor, we have been told he doesn’t understand humans as well as he did in other incarnations, yet he is astute enough to pick up on the façade of bravery.

11. Date Night Revisited

listen promo pics (4)The handy thing about a TARDIS is the possibility of a do over, a chance to make things right. Clara makes avail of this unique opportunity to have a second chance at her date with Mr. Pink. Unfortunately for her this one goes even worse than the first with a series of calamities and a clever observation from Danny. Clara on the other hand has a moment that is incredibly stupid and totally out of character where she uses the wrong name for Danny suggesting knowledge that she shouldn’t have. Bearing in mind her intellect around people thus far this series and later in the episode it is a little jarring. Although it could be argued that Moffat again gets his situational awareness spot on and shows the effect love can have you causing you to do stupid things.

10. The Coffee Conundrum

capaldi-coffee-listenHow do you make scary scene, add to the fear factor of an unseen monster whilst still making your audience chuckle at the same time? It’s quite the conundrum, but one which Moffat solves with a cup of coffee (I wonder if he was having one while writing this scene). It’s extremely intelligent (I word I seem to use a lot when talking about Moffat) because people move things and forget them all the time. So for him to take this and suggest is it due to an influence of a hidden monster served to ground the concept in the minds of the audience. What should have been a scary scene as the camera revealed the coffee cup had gone turned out even better when we saw Capaldi walking down the corridor drinking it.

9. ‘Well’ then, it’s A Date

listen-clara-dateThe first attempt at Clara and Danny’s was very well written and realistic progressing through a range of emotions. The initial contact was rather awkward in keeping with the established personality of the participants whilst also perfectly enrapturing that initial fear of the unknown. From here we progress into the more humorous and jovial part of the date where Pink Soufflé really click and seem to be having a great time. Unfortunately this devolves into an argument over a remark Clara, which incidentally is the second time she has mocked Danny’s soldier background. The way the scene was cut with the event and aftermath shown simultaneously was also very effective.

8. Listen!

tardis-underwater-listenThe episode opened with possibly the best sequence in the history of the show. It was fascinating to get an insight into how our hero thinks when he is alone. His behaviour seems spontaneous without any real organisation to it, yet what he considers makes perfect sense. His view on nature is consistent with his action in “Into the Dalek” allowing one to die for the sake of the rest. The question he poses in an interesting one, given that nature has adapted specialists for every given niche, it logically follows that there would be a specialist at hiding. The Doctor’s thoughts alone are enough to get the audience’s mind racing with the possibilities of what is to come. The trick with the chalk sets the tone perfectly for the chilling tale that awaits us, and also explains where the title of the episode comes from.

7. He Who Knocks

do-as-you-are-told-clara-listenTwo words: Peter Capaldi. Another word: Wow. This scene has possibly been, for me at least, his best performance of the Doctor to date. The curiosity, the fury, the horror all captured in one scene. The very definition of “edge of your seat” television. We get another deep insight into the Doctor and Clara’s relationship, the fact that he comes across protective of her – whether it be regarding her “date” or guaranteeing her safety by “ordering” her back into the TARDIS. Again Moffat’s writing excels with dialogue that leaves his audience with chills: “What’s that in the mirror? Or the corner of your eye? What’s that footstep following, but never passing by? Perhaps they’re all just waiting, perhaps when we’re all dead Out they’ll come a-slithering from underneath the bed.” And as for the monster itself? More on that revelation in 5 moment’s time – Who knows? Could it possibly have been Wilfred Mott and the Midnight Entity having a knocking contest?

6. Family Heirloom

toy-soldier-listenThe scene with the Dan the Soldier Man toy was a very poignant one, and one which tied up the different segments of the narrative extremely well. For something so simple it is incredibly effective at showing us the impact Clara had on Rupert and confirmed that she ultimately formed the man that Danny would become. It also serves to rule out Danny and Orson only shared appearance by coincidence and further suggested that Clara and Danny will go on to have a happy relationship – though this was never confirmed. The plot device was a very skilful addition to the narrative by Steven Moffat, which allowed the audience to work things out rather than him explaining them, as it wasn’t necessary. We can only assume and wonder until further developments come to light: What did Orson know about Clara? What was he implying? What is their connection; and as always: What will the future hold?

5) The Fear Factor

rupert-capaldi-listenCapaldi once again serves the audience a stunning performance in “Listen”, including a brilliant conversation with Rupert Pink, proving that Clara isn’t the only main character this series that has incredible ability and chemistry with children. It’s this scene that terms of Capaldi’s Doctor’s character development is ground-breaking when it comes to how young children will receive him. Yes this incarnation is at times shocking, at times “snarling”, even at times scary – but this scene showed off such a gentle, inspiring side to Capaldi’s character, giving Rupert his strength in a situation that seemed almost impossible for a young boy to have.

4. “He’ll never make a Time Lord”

child-doctor-listenI would have loved to have a camera on my face during the revelation that Clara had actually travelled into the Doctor’s childhood. I can only imagine the result would have been something along the lines of this. Easily one of the greatest and most unexpected twists in Doctor Who history, like with the Danny’s phone call earlier in the episode, the Doctor stirring distracted Clara while she was flying the TARDIS via telepathic circuits (Finally we have a use for the organic section of the console!) and as a consequence we find that they’ve travelled along the Doctor’s timeline to the night he had “the dream”. How amazing that after 50 years of the show, our knowledge of the most explored and developed character is still mainly restricted to post ‘Junkyard’ events. It’s the rarity and almost sacred atmosphere that is created whenever we learn more about the Doctor’s origins that makes this scene so exciting and treasured in my heart.

3. The Bedroom Barricade

clara-bed-rupert-listenThroughout this series, the influence that Clara’s job have had on her character have been increasingly touched upon; whether it be through channelling her inner Courtney in “Deep Breath”, teaching the Doctor a lesson in “Into the Dalek” and dealing with 2 disruptive students in the form of Capaldi and Mr Hood in “Robot of Sherwood”. “Listen” channels “Rings of Akhaten” in the way it showcases Clara’s brilliant ability with children, particularly through her interactions with Rupert. In using the toy soldiers to “protect” young Danny, Clara forms a bond with the child almost instantly – calming him down and reassuring him, before potentially inspiring him to become Dan the Soldier Man himself: “That’s why he’s boss. A soldier who’s so brave he doesn’t need a gun … can keep the whole world safe.” It’s scenes like this that confirm to me what a brilliant teacher – and possibly a brilliant mother Clara would make. The moral of the scene is something wonderful as well, and exhibits another reason why Doctor Who is so perfect for children (and in turn adults): Yes the humour, yes the wonder, yes the magic – But most of all the brilliant things that it’s plot teaches – the very thing that at his best, the Doctor stands for.

2. Attack of the Killer Bed Spread

bed-monster-listenOne of the numerous contributing factor’s to ‘Listen’s’ successes is it’s terrifying plot points and scenes – specifically the first time we can put a physical presence to this “Hider” that the majority of our attention has been directed to for the first half of the episode. Fear of the unknown/ Fear of the unseen is where Doctor Who excels in scaring its viewers, and in this moment of uncertainty and insanity for the Doctor, Rupert and Clara, we too almost want to turn away and not look around in fear of how a creature who lives to hide would react when seen. The conclusion of the episode once again raised questions about what the “Hider” really was. What Moffat has done is a stroke of genius; he’s allowed leeway for ourselves to make up our own minds. For the more structured fans who need an answer for everything there is the choice of justifying the supernatural scenes of the episode to a dash of the Doctor’s paranoia and a pinch of mundane explanation; and for the fans who prefer the mystery, ambiguity “Fear of the Unknown” (like myself) then accepting that we might never know is also a choice. Regardless of what side of the fence one may fall on, neither resolution can take away from the sheer terror of the plot and more specifically this scene.

1. Fear Makes Companions of Us All

clara-end-listenWas there ever any doubt on what would top the countdown today? This stunning episode culminates to easily one of the best written scenes in Doctor Who history. It’s a sequence that has one instantaneously crying, laughing, grinning and just being struck in a sense of shock and awe watching as Steven Moffat delivers a monologue that caters for all one could ever wish for: Wit, emotion, tributes to the past, material for the future: It’s a continuity dream come true. A moment needs to be put aside to applaud Jenna Coleman – what an actress and what a companion we have in Clara Oswald, her stunning performance throughout the episode reaching its pinnacle in these closing minutes. The marriage of Murray Gold’s breathtaking score, Moffat’s poetry in words, Jenna’s delivery and clips that emphasize the Doctor and Clara’s strengthening friendship, Orson’s farewell and of course the ground-breaking developments in Clara and Danny’s relationship could just make this my favourite scene of all time. Of course the crucial thing that makes this scene so instrumental in the grand narrative of Doctor Who is who it is directed to – a little boy who’s afraid to join the army, a little boy who grows up to be one of the greatest and most terrible men that ever lived, a little boy who grows up to be The Doctor. Yes, Listen is a terrifying episode, but unlike most episodes that send kids running behind the sofa – this scene teaches them that it’s ok to be afraid, that it’s ok to be frightened – because fear makes us stronger. The bravest people are the ones that overcome their fears.

AMEN.

 

Review: Listen

“What’s that in the mirror, of the corner of your eye?
What’s that footstep following, but never passing by?
Perhaps they’re all just waiting, perhaps when we are dead,
Out they’ll come a-slithering, from underneath the bed…”

**SPOILER WARNING**

But if you don’t watch religiously, what’s wrong with you? :)

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.

.

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Ok, I loved this episode. Though, my friends now discount me saying that just because I do love Doctor Who so much. Well, feh to them.

I don’t like EVERY episode.

But I did like this one.

This one is an old fashioned creep out.

It’s not supposed to be high tech.

It’s an intellectual study of creepy.

The monster is never seen (after all, what was under the bed sheet??!!).

If someone had bother to tell me about fear in this way, and I had listened, I would have had a much different childhood. But then again, I wouldn’t be now writing this now would I? :)

The little fangasm near the end at Lungbarrow (look it up :) ) with the War Doctor was a neat touch, though some of the people I watched it with last night were blase’ about it. Maybe, they just aren’t as in touch as I may be with childhood and fear.

But it also begs the question because she says to “never be cruel or cowardly” which was the Doctor’s “promise”. Did he also get that from her?

She told him to steal the particular TARDIS, and the Promise, what else is she?

Now that’s a mystery, for now. :)

Overall, it was creepy and was very well done. While it contain another “Moffat Loop” it asked a question that may have no answer. Like many things in life. But we humans like that challenge, to explore them, to explain them if we can.

And Clara had the date from hell, and a Time Lord to boot.

Clara is still the “Alpha Female” in this arrangement (as she was with the 11th Doctor) but she has to exercise her “control freak” in a different way and it’s not always her choice to start with as the Doctor has “things”. :)

I still think that all this build up of Clara is so that YOU WILL CARE when she leaves at the end of the year, unlike what possibly could have happened with “The Impossible Girl” at the end of last Christmas.

But Jenna Coleman is doing it with relish.

And this is by far the best Peter Capaldi episode to date.

His fascination with this subject (the Moffat Loop says why later) borders on the fanatical. It’s like this Doctor get an idea in his head and he goes all OCD on it until it’s solved in some fashion or another.

I think this is an amplified version of why The Doctor left Gallifrey in the first place.

He left, IMHO, because he wanted to see what was out there. His curiosity was bordering on unhinged.

But also a  companion :) to curiosity is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the dark. Fear of the mysterious and potentially unknowable.

So Fear and Curiosity boil over in the young Time Lord and he buggers off to see it for himself.

Now why he took his granddaughter, and not his daughter, is an open question to this day. And some mysteries are good left unsolved.

And that is why I’m not particularly worried about the monster under the bed spread. It’s a mystery. And Life is a mystery, full of fear and curiosity.

Rightly so.

So get in touch with that inner curiosity -That inner fear- and don’t look, don’t even look, UNDER THE BED! :)

Just Listen

Global Scale

Technology is moving us closer to ‘event television’ on a global scale. Social media, a barometer for opinion, has changed the way we view television and broadcasters are pushing the envelope in terms of production and marketing to open up new channels of engagement with shows like Doctor Who.

While there are still problems in terms of social media such as second screen viewing – where even the smallest delay between original broadcast and fans consumption leave audiences with no option but to ‘go dark’ – and that’s not to mention spoilers; international viewers cannot say that their opinions have been ignored.

Ewan Spence of Forbes has been looking at how Doctor Who has regenerated television through social media. (Katerborous)

Forbes (8/30/14): Anyone keeping even half an eye on media trends in the last few years will be aware of the terms ‘event television’ and ‘second screening’. Television has always been social, but the twenty-first century has seen social groups remaining connected around the world through technology. That places unique demands on broadcasters, but it also places demands on the fans.

How can you join in the global discussions of a TV show if you can’t watch it live?

Outside of sports or major cultural events, there are very few programmes that are simulcast around the world. That said, big shows are starting to get air dates in international markets within a week of the initial broadcast, and some of the big hitters (such as HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’) will get that rebroadcast within twenty-four hours.

And then there’s Doctor Who.

Doctor Who, Deep Breath (image, BBC)

Last week’s premiere episode of Season 8 (strictly speaking the thirty-fourth year of production) was broadcast at 7.50pm in the UK on BBC 1. As soon as possible after the initial UK broadcast, channels around the world, including those in Germany, Switzerland, Turkey, Finland, Poland, and Austria broadcasted the episode ‘Deep Breath’, with BBC America joining in seven hours later with an evening broadcast at 9/8C.

It’s a far cry from the eighties where television stations could wait years before broadcasting the latest ‘hit show’ from another territory. Dedicated fans would wait for weeks to have a VHS video sent over from an obliging fan on the other side of the Atlantic, but that was still measured in weeks, if not months.

Same day broadcast is not enough for many fans. Even a five minute delay between the original broadcast and fan consumption destroys the ability for a successful social second screen experience. Why would you follow a stream that tells you what’s going to happen five minutes into your future? The choice is relatively clear-cut. Go dark and disconnect until after the show… or find  way to watch the show live.

That’s what countless fans did last weekend as Peter Capaldi took on the lead role of The Doctor, and I’m sure the fans will be doing the same this week as he goes ‘Into The Dalek.’

I asked the team at Twitter analytics platform socialbro.com to have a look at the location of Doctor Who related tweets over two main transmission times – the live UK broadcast from BBC 1, and the live US broadcast from BBC America.

Doctor Who Tweets Around Uk and US Transmission (data: SocialBro)

Let me highlight the numbers from Brazil and the USA. Doctor Who aired at roughly the same time in those countries. Yet the US engagement numbers are far higher during the UK broadcast than the expected background chatter – Brazil’s fans maintained a consistent chat throughout the day, while US fans spiked around the same time as the UK fans watching the live broadcast.

The obvious conclusion is that a significant number of US fans are watching online through dubious means.  :)

There are a number of factors that are going to get in the way of a direct answer to the question of how many fans do this. The sample size is a 5% sampling of the data extrapolated to 100% numbers, and of course fans will talk about Doctor Who outside of the program (every Saturday is Capal-day in the Spence household now!). But it is happening.

Part of the design of the internet is route round obstacles, Originally that was thought to be physical damage, but when you have dedicated fans who want to join in a global conversation, they’re going to use the internet to route round that obstacle as well.

The BBC is to be commended for doing their best to synchronise broadcasts around the world of Doctor Who, and the broadcast partners should also be commended (especially ABC in Australia, who do a genuine simulcast with the BBC at 4.30am in the Australian morning for the dedicated fans, before a more sociable repeat Sunday evening).

The problem of second screening, spoilers, and international viewers has not been ignored, but addressed head on. The answer that is offered now is far better than the answer offered to fans five years ago, and I suspect it will continue to improve until ‘event television; on a global scale will see live as the default position, and not reserved for ‘the very special episodes’.

The internet is not destroying television but it is changing television. That it is doing it through a fifty-one year old program that has continued to push the envelope of production, marketing, engagement throughout its history; with a mercurial central character who has two hearts, a screwdriver, and a love of everything; is just… fantastic.

Kasterborous: What can be drawn from the data is that the BBC and its fellow broadcasters around the world should be commended for catering to fans who do want to synchronise their viewing.

The advancements in technology and marketing have been a massive help for the show, evidenced by the Deep Breath screening, which was broadcast at 7.50pm in the UK, then as soon as possible after that on channels around the world, including those in Germany, Switzerland, Turkey, Finland, Poland, and Austria, with BBC America joining in seven hours later with an evening broadcast at 9/8C.

Doctor Who is at the perfect vehicle to advance smart broadcasting.

 

50 Years Ago….

It was fifty years ago today, on Saturday 12 September 1964, that first season of Doctor Who came to a close with the final episode of The Reign of Terror – Prisoners of Conciergerie.

Apart from one week’s absence due to extended coverage of the Wimbledon tennis championships, the series has run continuously since it launched on that dark day in November when the world was still reeling from the death of President John F Kennedy. Forty-Two episodes have been screened across 8 stories, which took our heroes from the temples of the Aztec empire to the twin star system of the Sense Sphere, from the dawn of human history to the petrified remains of Skaro, and from the Himalayas of Cathay to the jungles of Marinus. On their journey they met historical characters such as Marco Polo, Kublai Khan and Robespierre, as well as beings from beyond the stars.

The series has become a ratings success. From a quiet beginning with just 4.4 million viewers watching the debut show, the arrival of the Daleks has brought a surge in interest in the series, reaching a peak of 10.4 million watching in the winter months. As spring turned into summer ratings have declined, but are still very acceptable, with 6.4 million watching the final episode of the season.

The series is also gaining attention abroad, with sales in progress for Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Although the series went off air on 12th September, production has continued with two more stories being recorded up until the end of the current cast’s contracts on 24 October 1964. The break in transmission has been agreed by Chief of Programmes Donald Baverstock, to enable the production team to pause and take stock and for the BBC to decide if it actually wants Doctor Who to continue…

…For the prospects for the series beyond 1964 are far from assured. The BBC is still unconvinced the series has a long term future. It has many enemies in the upper echelons of the Corporation, men and women who see science fiction as childish rubbish and who feel licence payers would be better served by a good Dickens. Then there is the problem that the initial cast contracts had been for one year. Any new contracts would need to be negotiated with the actors agents, with a substantial pay increase likely be demanded given the success of the show. Head of Drama Sydney Newman argues that any new contracts should be open ended, but this will require a vote of faith from Baverstock, a commitment that the show would continue for the foreseeable future, a commitment he is unable to give.

As 1964 progresses, the lack of clarity on the programmes future restricts the options of the production team. Doctor Who may not continue past those first 52 episodes – if it is to continue there is a desire to shake up the cast. In the summer, Head of Series Donald Wilson outlines the problems in a memo in which he said a decision must be taken by 7th July.

“If we are to lose any members of the cast – and our present thinking is that we may well drop the Jackie Hill character altogether and replace Carole Ann Ford with another younger girl – this must be decided in time so that we can write into The Return of the Daleks serial, the scenes which will make these changes work from then on.”

By the end of July no decision has yet been taken. The start of the second series has been put back to 31 October, allowing a 6 week break in transmission. Barbara has now been saved, but Susan will still be leaving the series at the end of the year (Carole Ann Ford had been increasingly disillusioned with the way Susan had developed, with the character becoming far less alien than original envisaged, and was keen to move on).

“If the series is to continue, the issue with the artists’ contracts needs to be addressed. Producer Verity Lambert urgently needs to know if the programme has a future. On Thursday 6th August she has sends a memo to the Serials Department organiser.

If we could get an OK for a further thirteen weeks from 2 January, I would at least be able to take out an option for thirteen weeks with an option for a further thirteen. I have a feeling that, if we wait much longer, we will find ourselves in a position of losing our artists, which can only lead to a certain amount of chaos at the end of our next serial.

In response, Doctor Who is granted an extension of just four weeks, taking it to the end of January. Lambert prepares a discussion document on Tuesday 11 August setting out the stark options now facing Doctor Who, given its future was so uncertain.

“If a four week extension is the best Baverstock can offer us. I feel that we should terminate Doctor Who at the end of this present series.

We had intended to write the character of Susan out….. If we are only continuing for four weeks there does not seem any point in writing Susan out.

If the series is to continue, we have to develop a character in this serial which we intend to take Susan’s place… We cannot approach any artist on the basis of a six week engagement if, in fact, we are intending a six month engagement.

I think this is an absolutely insoluble problem unless we get a decision one way or another.

Baverstock’s assistant John Muir sent him a memo summarising the options available.

  • You could stop transmission after Serial K (Dalek Invasion of Earth). This would require rewriting Serial K to make it suitable as a ‘farewell’ one.
  • You could stop at end January. This would involve the problems above
  • You could continue to end March

My own feeling is that an equivalent audience puller will be difficult to find, and that Doctor Who should go on until end March. The search for a replacement should begin now so you are able to make a choice by say November/December on what to put on after March 1965

On Thursday 14 August Baverstock meets with Lambert and finally agrees to renew Doctor Who for a further thirteen weeks, with a possibility of an additional thirteen after that. He is clear, however, that artist costs must not increase.

Now that Lambert has permission to continue she can begin negotiations with the principle agents. William Hartnell as the main character was the most important to secure. He dismisses the offer of a three month extension at the same money. He wants a rise of 25 guineas an episode taking his weekly pay to 250 guinies (£262) and he wants a contract of six months duration. William Russell will accept the three month contact, but wants the same pay as Hartnell (he was currently on 150 guineas per week). Jacqueline Hill will also accept a three month contract but wants 200 guineas per episode, a rise of 95 guineas. Faced with such demands Lambert contacts Baverstock for advice.

As a first step you should talk to the principles and mention that if they were to hold to their demands for such very large increases, you might have difficulty recommending a continuation of the series with the same cast. Of the three Hartnell and Russell would be more valuable to you. If the two men were to show willingness to sign again for their present fees…. I would be willing to consider a commitment for six months.

In the end that commitment is given, Hartnell receives his 250 guineas an episode and Russell and Hill are both offered a rise of between 10 and 25 guineas an episode.

Doctor Who is now confirmed until the summer of 1965. New adventures await the crew, with a new companion joining the team later in the year. A new studio home has been won, freeing the team from the confines of the outdated Lime Grove complex and giving them a semi permanent home at the BBC’s Riverside studios in Hammersmith.

One year is complete, but the adventure continues…(Doctor Who News)

Unfortunately, if I have one, he’s a right bastard… and I need a Doctor :)

 

 

More Gatiss

I had a great laugh — many laughs — watching “Robot of Sherwood.”
Oh, good!

As much as I love Doctor Who, I can’t say that it’s often that I have a big grin across my face through an episode.
The whole intention was to write a kind of romp, really. I’ve always loved the Errol Flynn movie. I love Robin Hood, actually, but that film particularly. To me, the essence of Robin Hood is that it’s a fairy tale. I’ve never had much patience for the muggy, grim versions because I think they’re missing the point, really [laughs]! So the chance to do Robin Hood meets Doctor Who was a bit irresistible.

Doctor Who has a tendency to do comedic dialogue, but to do an entire episode that’s rooted in comedy and still have it work as a piece of drama is something different.
It’s certainly the most lighthearted episode of the season. I didn’t think of it as an out-and-out comedy, just the fact that Robin Hood is inherently fun. But at the same time, I think what’s always appealed to me about Doctor Who and drama generally is the ability to sort of flip a coin. I think some of the pathos in this episode is genuinely very affecting, and that’s only because you’re having such a good time, you sort of forget where you’re going with it. That’s certainly the stuff that appeals to me in other dramas — you suddenly find you’re catching yourself because you’ve actually been so removed by something.

The new series especially has this tradition now of going back in time and meeting historical figures. Robin Hood’s a different sort in that he isn’t real. So what led to the decision to try it this way this time?
Russell T. Davies essentially invented the celebrity historical as a new Doctor Who form. In the original series, every now and then there’d be an encounter — Marco Polo or Napoleon — but the idea of this is very much in the DNA of the new series. But as you say, Robin Hood isn’t real, so this episode has the form of the celebrity historical, but it’s with a made-up character. That was really the engine of the whole idea. Clara wants to meet him. The Doctor says there’s no such thing. When they get back to 12th-century Nottingham, it’s essentially like landing in the middle of the Errol Flynn film. Immediately that’s just a funny idea. And then you’ve got a new Doctor who’s less accessible, and slightly grumpily determined to prove that he’s right [about Robin Hood not being real]. And in the face of that, you’ve got this man who won’t stop laughing, who’s an amazing swordsman and archer.

Are you a fan of the ‘80s series Robin of Sherwood?
I always thought Robin Hood is a great idea for a film [but] not a very good idea for a series because, essentially, there isn’t enough story. What tends to happen is they get captured, they go to the castle. Marion gets captured. They rescue her. I mean, you can do it, obviously, but I think it’s just enough for one hit. The Richard Carpenter series very cleverly introduced this mystical element — all of the Herne the Hunter stuff. So, in a way, he sort of merged Robin Hood with a bit of Merlin, a bit of druids and all sorts of English folklore, which I think is the masterstroke of that series. It gave him a lot of places to go to. It’s not just about the sheriff being a baddie; you’ve also got sort of sorcerers and strange mystical things happening. And the weird thing is when Michael Praed left, he effectively regenerated into Jason Connery!

Dare I ask: Praed or Connery?
Oh, it’s Michael Praed, of course!

Back to “Robot of Sherwood,” has anyone else remarked how much Ben Miller’s Sheriff looks like Anthony Ainley’s Master?
I’ve read a couple previews saying that, but it’s genuinely not intentional. To be honest, he’s modeled on Peter Cushing from one of the old Hammer films. It is a Master-y beard, isn’t it?

What have you found different about writing for Capaldi versus Eccleston, Tennant, and Smith?
You always start from the same point: The Doctor is the Doctor. I’ve never actually written a script where I didn’t know who the Doctor was going to be. You just start thinking about the actor’s voice, speech patterns, mannerisms, and the whole attitude. The main thing with Peter is the obvious factor that he’s a lot older than Matt. I knew he wanted to be a lot more skeptical and less accessible while still being lots of fun. And immediately, you start to think of early Tom Baker in that way. One of the things I remember being thrilled about as a child watching the show — Jon Pertwee was my Doctor, and I was devastated when he left — but I remember the thrill of the newness of Tom. There’s a bit in “The Seeds of Doom” when they’re discussing amputating someone’s arm because it’s been infected by the Krynoid. Tom sits there with his hat on like Clint Eastwood and just says, “You must help yourselves.” And it sent goose-bumps down my spine because it’s like, “What? The Doctor’s not like that!” But suddenly he was. And suddenly, in this episode, you’ve got a Doctor who’s quite grumpy with Robin Hood. Matt would probably have gone out for a drink with him! Just the fact that you can suddenly have a change of attitude like that makes the whole thing new and fresh again. (Vulture)

 

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