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Best Producer/Showrunner?
This poll is closed.
Verity Lambert 49 7.04%
John Wiles 1 0.14%
Innes Lloyd 1 0.14%
Peter Bryant 3 0.43%
Derrick Sherwin 3 0.43%
Barry Letts 12 1.72%
Phillip Hinchcliffe 62 8.91%
Graham Williams 3 0.43%
John Nathan-Turner 15 2.16%
Philip Segal 3 0.43%
Russel T Davies 106 15.23%
Steven Moffat 114 16.38%
Son Goku 324 46.55%
Total: 696 votes
[Edit Poll (moderators only)]

  • Locked thread
LividLiquid
Apr 13, 2002

BITCOIN BATMAN

I've been getting into a lot of negative discussions and arguments on SA and Facebook lately, and it occurred to me right in the middle of it:

What do I do when I need to feel like everything is good and right?

I watch Doctor Who.

I know people complain about this thread, but it's actually one of my favorites, because even when people disagree, there's not a lot of name-calling and ballyhoo posturing. It's just, "I feel this way." "I disagree. I feel this way." Y'know. Like an adult conversation.

I think a lot of the reason for that is that this a show all about positivity. More accurately, it's a show whose greatest enemy is cynicism. The whole idea of the doctor is that violence is almost never the answer, nor is personal attack. Insisting that people are better than they are is the show's raison d'ętre.

I love all Doctor Who that I've seen, no matter how bad it is. I prefer some over others, but I love it all.

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Teek
Aug 7, 2006

I can't wait to entertain you.


Neat video about some of the restoration work it took for the recovered episodes last year:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsMgNCwYcXw

That moment when the converted episode finally pops up on a TV screen after decades. drat I bet that was quite a thing for them.

Teek fucked around with this message at May 18, 2014 around 05:24

Potsticker
Jan 13, 2006



LividLiquid posted:


I know people complain about this thread, but it's actually one of my favorites, because even when people disagree, there's not a lot of name-calling and ballyhoo posturing. It's just, "I feel this way." "I disagree. I feel this way." Y'know. Like an adult conversation.



It's weird comparing this thread to the Tokusatsu one. Kamen Rider is sort of similar to Doctor Who in that each season there's new actors and plots, though usually there's very little connecting each one other than common themes and movies where the new main Rider gets a scene to meet the previous season's one. Both are shows where new people are given a place to start, then told to watch everything to see what they personally prefer.

My point being is that both Rider and Who are really divisive in what seasons people like, but I feel like here there's an atmosphere of everyone being okay with the fact that everyone likes different things. And I'm not immune to the arguing in the other thread myself, defending the stuff I like and poopoo-ing the stuff I don't. Though, a lot of it comes down to that there's a lot more reasoning in this thread about what parts appeal or do not to any given poster rather than a simple "this is the best," "that is the worst."

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


The Runaway Bride is technically the first episode of season 3, in that it's not the first episode of season 3 at all but it's the first episode on the season 3 boxset! Doctor Who Christmas Specials have for the most part occupied a strange place, they're both standalone episodes separate from the seasons AND important markers for the development of particular characters, usually the Doctor - the one character you can rely on to straddle the gap between seasons even as companions come and go.

The first Christmas Special introduced viewers more fully to David Tennant as the 10th Doctor, but also served as an important Rose episode as she - the audience stand-in - came to grips with this change in the Doctor's physical appearance. With Rose now gone and Tennant firmly established in his role, this episode is all about the Doctor having to come to terms with change, he has lost a companion - not his first for certain, but the first since he came out of the horrors of the Time War. There is no time for navel-gazing though, as suddenly a woman in a bridal dress appears in the TARDIS (impossible!) and demands to know what the hell is going on.

This is our first introduction to Donna, arguably (well not really, she IS) the best companion of the revival series to date. Played by well-known comedian Catherine Tate, there was some very justified trepidation over her appearance considering the broad nature of her comedy. Coupled with the fact this was a Christmas Special, many people feared an over-the-top "wacky" adventure with lots of shouting and catchphrases and nonsense. That is... kind of what we got, and yet it works well because amongst all the loudmouthed yelling and in-your-face aggressiveness, Tate also hits the quiet, subtle moments of despair or horror or self-realization. To RTD's credit, he created a character who could have been a 1 dimensional loudmouth and instead gave us a rounded, very "real" character who hides her insecurities and fears beneath a brash exterior. She reminds me in a lot of ways of Tegan, which is nothing but a compliment since Tegan is one of my all time favorite classic companions. It's funny how hindsight changes everything, the first time I watched this special I really enjoyed Donna but purely as a one-off, and I recall saying at the time that I didn't think she would work as a regular companion. I also distinctly "remember" her being toned down when she did return, and yet watching this again I was struck by just how close to her season 4 portrayal she is in this - if anything in season 4 she is a little less subtle, as she and the Doctor explicitly bring up her insecurities more often. In this, she has wonderful moments where the camera will focus on her as she comes to grips with some horrible realization - her fiance doesn't love her, she was just used, he thinks she's a gullible moron and a terrible human being, etc - while the Doctor remains oblivious, never quite realizing just how badly she has been hurt emotionally during the course of their little adventure together. But these moments aren't harped on, and Donna frequently pulls herself together and gets on with things. It's easy to not see these moments because they're surrounded with such brash loudness, but taken as a whole her brashness shows how desperately she tries to mask her insecurity and low self-esteem. Consider her family, whose initial panic at her disappearance turns into irritation at "what has Donna done NOW?" followed by them breezily deciding to have fun at the wedding reception once they think Donna pulled a prank on them. Her friends and family, though only briefly seen, seem to be the type who have constantly (if subconsciously) hammered home to Donna that she is the odd one out, that maybe she isn't quite worthy of their attention or love. The only genuine moment of concern we ever get is right towards the end of the special when you briefly see her mother and father comforting each other in their home, worried about their daughter who was last seen in a room being attacked by exploding Christmas decorations - how telling that the only time we (or Donna) see them being openly concerned for her is when they aren't aware they're being watched.

This story followed immediately on from the end of Doomsday, and the Doctor's first meeting with Donna is mere seconds after his final tearful goodbye to Rose. The Doctor isn't ready for a new companion, but in spite of himself he finds it basically impossible not to grab somebody else and run off and have an adventure. Again I found myself surprised by how differently I remembered things happening - on my first watch I thought the Doctor's offer to Donna to join him was made out of a sense of obligation and he was deeply relieved when she turned him down. On this rewatch I see it very differently - the Doctor asks timidly because he is both terrified of rejection and feeling guilty about asking somebody to join him so soon after his final goodbye to Rose. When she turns him down he very quickly pretends to be unaffected, but he is. He wanted her to come with him while simultaneously feeling guilty for asking and believing that she is right to reject him - Rose ended up trapped in another universe, does he really deserve another companion and should he really put somebody at risk by doing so? There'll be an element of this in the first part of season 3, when he resists the notion of having Martha as a regular companion. But more importantly, Donna immediately proves herself to be exactly what Rose did in season 1 and failed to do in season 2 - she provides a grounding influence for the Doctor. He starts rabbiting on like crazy about nonsense? She slaps him in the face! She continually reminds him of the "smaller" consequences of what is happening, bringing him down to earth, refusing to let him get too full of himself. At the end of the episode when he stands fixated on the Racnoss Queen's death throes, it is Donna who pulls him back to himself and reminds him they have to move on (RTD will return to this very thing in Turn Left in season 4 and prove the importance of Donna's grounding influence). The timing of Donna's appearance on the show immediately following Rose's departure and directly before Martha's arrival makes me wonder yet again if maybe, just maybe this aspect of the 10th Doctor as a slightly unhinged potential megalomaniac was deliberate. It's an argument I've had with myself many times and I often find myself thinking it is something that RTD wanted to more fully explore and convinced himself (repeatedly) to pull back from. The Waters of Mars would seem to be the climax of a long-building sense of the Doctor as the ultimate moral authority blowing up in his face, but the near complete lack of consequence in The End of Time makes that more difficult to reconcile (helped along somewhat by the insertion of The Day of the Doctor in-between those events by Moffat). As it is though, THIS story provides the Doctor with the grounding influence he has been missing, and which will still be missing in season 3 as Martha suffers the indignity of being "not-Rose" as opposed to a developed character in her own right. Donna gets more character development and resolution in this one Christmas Special than Martha will in the entirety of season 3, and that is not even taking her season 4 development into account.

So with all this happy talk about Donna you'd think that this was a pretty good episode! Sadly, it's not. The Doctor/Donna stuff is excellent, and RTD knocks the emotional elements for both characters out of the park. Unfortunately, the episode takes a seemingly deliberate campy approach to the villain, near pantomime levels of cheesiness in her performance. The Queen of the Racnoss could have been terrifying, or sympathetic (she's the last of her kind trying to protect her children, and reminds the Doctor that her kind are born starving so is it really their fault they eat everything they can?) but instead she comes across as just, well, silly. She's constantly darting her head this way and that, hissing ridiculously and clenching her teeth, mugging it up for the camera and making a hacking laugh that just sounds silly. Her jerking movements and references to "Doctor Man!" are just ridiculous, and though it kind of works as a cheesy villain for a Christmas Special, it robs the rest of the story of a real sense of menace. The stakes don't seem raised even though the world is seemingly at peril from baby Racnoss at the center of the earth (the Daleks would have been PISSED if they'd found them there back in the 60s), not helped by the utter ease with which the Doctor defeats her. The only real peril to the Doctor at any point was his own sense of fair play, he wanted to know what she was planning and then offer her a solution. Once again he sets himself up as the moral authority, and it is telling that she reacts with horror when she discovers he is a Time Lord (the first time the name "Gallifrey" is spoken in the revival). The Doctor is proving himself as guilty as the other Time Lords of holding himself above the rest of the universe. But this moment too is ruined by her overly melodramatic reaction, rapid camera cuts of her spasming about screaming,"MY-UHHHH CHILLLLLLLL-DREN!" over and over and over a-loving-gain. Any poignancy is lost, and the threat of the Queen is again diminished when she and her web-star are blown easily out of the sky by a single tank (at the order of a "Mister Saxon", who will be important throughout season 3.

The Runaway Bride is a silly, campy story with an unimpressive villain and an uneven tone that makes it difficult to look back on it too fondly. But where it shines beyond any doubt is in the introduction of Donna Noble and her immediately argumentative, grounding relationship to the Doctor, standing in stark contrast to the enthralled devotion of Rose Tyler. As a follow-up to season 2 it was a great look at how life continues for the Doctor after the loss of a companion, and what were intended to be Donna's last words to the Doctor would prove to be a regular entreaty in the years to follow - the Doctor should NOT travel alone. Funnily enough, the words "You Are Not Alone" later in season 3 will prove to be more terrifying than reassuring, but that's for discussion at a later time.

DoctorWhat
Nov 18, 2011

Someone call the Chancellery Guard. Commander Maxil's out of uniform. AGAIN.

Does anyone have any audio/video clips of Colin Baker talking about Michael Grade, in particular any in which he actually says the words "Michael Grade"?

I need it for a thing.

AradoBalanga
Jan 3, 2013



CobiWann posted:

Drove three hours to have lunch with my best friend today. She's really into new Who, but never saw any of the old stuff. I had given her the first 50 Big Finish audios for Christmas to listen to at work when she had to catch up on her admin stuff.

She said "oh my God, give me more. I love Colin Baker, he's amazing! How was his TV run?"

She didn't understand why I curled up into a ball on the floor of Red Robin and rocked back and forth, muttering "gently caress Michael Grade" over and over again.
Yeah, I probably would have done something similar. Trying to explain what was happening behind-the-scenes during Colin's tenure is nothing short of mixed with a healthy dose of .

This statement is coming from someone who got into the series via the revival and decided to learn about the show's history. Michael Grade's existence makes my head hurt. A lot.

FreezingInferno
Jul 15, 2010

THERE.
WILL.
BE.
NO.
BATTLE.
HERE!


DoctorWhat posted:

Does anyone have any audio/video clips of Colin Baker talking about Michael Grade, in particular any in which he actually says the words "Michael Grade"?

I need it for a thing.

Does he ever say it in that Trials And Tribulations documentary that they stuck on the Trial Of A Time Lord box set?

One Swell Foop
Aug 5, 2010

I'm afraid we have no time for codes and manners.

There's this clip that starts with a poor audio quality "What do I think of Michael Grade?":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4uBQ8Sn2mI

E: 3:30 onwards you get a few good "Michael Grade"s, including an "Oi, Grade, you mean bastard" (in a Dimbleby impression, no less )

One Swell Foop fucked around with this message at May 18, 2014 around 23:25

CobiWann
Oct 21, 2009

There are lost episodes of course. Stories that were commissioned but never made. Or made but misfiled, post broadcast. Sheer incompetence, of course.

So had THIS conversation with the kiddo earlier today...

Cobi - "I just watched The Talons of Weng-Chiang, but I figured you wouldn't like it because of the scary Chinese puppet."

Kiddo - "Oh, yeah, like that episode of Buffy!"

Cobi - "Well, I'm probably going to watch another one. My friends got me The Sea Devils for Christmas. The Silurians are in that one."

Kiddo - "They're not scary!"

Cobi - "Aw, they're my second favorite alien race!"

Kiddo - "But they're so cute! Now, the SLITHEEN, those are scary!"

Chris Chibnall has a LOT to answer for.

Bicyclops
Aug 27, 2004

You don't know how lucky you are you're snakes.


Well, I finally just finished the first "part" of Zagreus. As everyone has said, it's a complete and utter chaotic and confusing mess, but I really don't understand why anyone had trouble understanding the Jon Pertwee parts. I do think it was awkward the way that they decided to include him, and his reason for being there is as confusing as the reason that everyone else is some kind of other strange role within the little pocket world they've created. I get that they were going for a kind of Alice in Wonderland thing, partially because they shoved that particular aspect right in my face, but it does rather undermine his surprise appearance.

That being said, despite it being an utter mess and very obviously padded out and far too long, I can't help but to love it. It's particularly nice to hear the other actors stretch their legs and play other parts here and there (I particularly like Nicholas Courtney in his guide role and finally hearing Nicola Bryant not weighed down by the fake accent). This is obviously a Eighth Doctor vehicle, but I actually think that his sections are the weakest so far. I am so tired of hearing Paul McGann stutter his way through insanity and amnesia. It's just a waste of his talents and, frankly one of the few things he is actually not at all convincing about.

I'm looking forward to getting through the rest of it. Complete mess, but I'm enjoying it, for whatever reason. I waited a long time for the Eighth Doctor to be back and to resolve the cliffhanger, and I think knowing that there was no way I wasn't going to be a little disappointed with it helped. Well, that and the nice scotch I broke out to celebrate the end of a difficult week at the job!

Bicyclops fucked around with this message at May 19, 2014 around 04:14

Box of Bunnies
Apr 3, 2012

One day, we'll know all the secrets of the skies, and we'll stop our wanderings.


Potsticker posted:

My point being is that both Rider and Who are really divisive in what seasons people like, but I feel like here there's an atmosphere of everyone being okay with the fact that everyone likes different things. And I'm not immune to the arguing in the other thread myself, defending the stuff I like and poopoo-ing the stuff I don't. Though, a lot of it comes down to that there's a lot more reasoning in this thread about what parts appeal or do not to any given poster rather than a simple "this is the best," "that is the worst."

Kamen Rider kicks people 'til they explode, Doctor Who talks them into making themselves explode. This difference explains things perfectly, I feel.

MrL_JaKiri
Sep 23, 2003

Ask me about my calm and reasonable opinions on cycling!

I am in no way a zealot about cycling!

Cycling helmets are ABSOLUTE HARAM!


CobiWann posted:

Cobi - "Aw, they're my second favorite alien race!"

You're the alien

Chokes McGee
Aug 7, 2008

My whole life is a dark room.
One big, dark room.


PoshAlligator posted:

Did anyone post this? Makes Moffat seem not awful. From Tumblr.

"You're wrong, but people should try to figure that out for themselves! "



I kid, I kid. This is an important step forward, I feel.

PoshAlligator
Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.


Chokes McGee posted:

"You're wrong, but people should try to figure that out for themselves! "



I kid, I kid. This is an important step forward, I feel.

Interviews aside I always feel kind of bad for him because the way he writes bad female characters always seems like he's trying to write good female characters at least.

Not that I'm trying to be on the Moffat defence force here. I got a good mark for my dissertation-level uni work (it means it's not an essay but more of a research folder), where I briefly discuss that Moffat writes women terribly and that it's a really old issue.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?




The Twilight Kingdom ends the first block of the Divergent Universe Arc with a perfectly serviceable "standard" Doctor Who story. The trouble is, as I've frequently complained, that the nature of this "new" universe raised hopes for weird and unusual concepts beyond the norm, something to set the 8th Doctor's stories apart from those of the 5th, 6th and 7th's regular fare. Instead, it's an old familiar story of a group of soldiers in a base with a weirdo leader being affected by a strange power he doesn't understand. There is nothing about this story to make it feel unique or bizarre or outside of the Doctor's comfort zone, in fact one of the recurring taunts of the villain is to point out how the Doctor is supremely confident precisely because he has dealt with this near exact same situation so many times in the past. The closest the story ever gets to the weirdness of Scherzo (still the gold standard for the Divergent Universe weirdness) is in the reveal of the organism responsible for everything going on, but even then I don't think it's anything that you wouldn't have seen in a regular universe story, hell I could see a Pertwee story doing the same thing. I know it is easier said than done to ask for a bizarre and alien concept to be made into a strong story, but they could at least have not produced something so.... standard.

Supporting character wise, Charley gets nowhere near the meaty part she had in The Natural History of Fear and what is there is pretty uninspired stuff. Anything interesting is quickly tossed aside or undone, the notion of Charley being turned against the Doctor without realizing she has been turned is intriguing but soon abandoned. C'rizz actually gets pretty equal footing with Charley this time around and yet just as in previous episodes he proves absolutely irrelevant. There's nothing about him, nothing that he does or that is done to him that couldn't have worked just as effectively with a character-of-the-day. The scene where he is threatened (for absolutely NO reason) with a chemical interrogation is laughably bad, because he's been nothing but forthcoming and WILLING to be chemically interrogated and then suddenly he's angrily proclaiming it is being forced on him, acting like he and his interrogator have a long history and it is unreasonable for them to not just take everything he says at face value. The interrogator's ultimate decision is also bizarre, as are their later complaints. People seem to make decisions based on nothing, then act like the decisions were forced on them, then the situations never come up again. There is an argument that could be made that this is deliberate to represent the "power" of the base's leader, but the situations are so detached from other events in the story that it feels more like they were just white-noise space-fillers. The only other character that really stands out amongst the non-regular cast (including the main villain) is Janto, and he's not particularly noteworthy beyond being a yet again typical Doctor Who eccentric character. Before the Doctor arrives he is the only one who questions the weird goings-on in the base, and there is some impact to the reveal of just how he is being affected by the villain's power, but otherwise he fails to stand out anymore than anybody else. As a result, the deaths that are necessary to raise the stakes fail to really generate either sympathy or concern.

When the story is all over, nothing has been done about the situation that drove the characters to hide out in the base in the first place, none of the troubling questions that Charley raised (under the influence, to be fair) to the Doctor are answered or even addressed. The whole thing feels like a waste of time, nothing was really accomplished, nobody really learned anything or became better (or worse) people or strengthened their bonds etc. In fact, really the ONLY thing that makes the story feel like it wasn't a waste of time was the Doctor's final line of the story. Taunted once again by The Kro'ka, the Doctor reveals that he did have an ulterior motive for entering the Divergent Universe after all. That kind of doesn't really fit in with his immediate actions when he arrived in Scherzo but that is probably understandable given how screwed over he was at the end of Zagreus. I can't help but think this was a late decision as part of Big Finish's decision to wrap up the Divergent Universe quicker than expected. Or maybe it is a reaction to the failure to produce any story that stands apart from regular universe stories - hell, the next 5th Doctor story The Axis of Insanity feels like a more successful use of the divergent theme and it's set in the regular universe!

So yeah, I wasn't impressed by The Twilight Kingdom. It's not a bad story, it does what it sets out to do competently, but that's not enough considering the circumstances of the characters and the promise of the Divergent Universe. The Doctor's final, angry hiss of,"______Rassilon!_______" is a pretty neat cliffhanger, and may perhaps lead to an explanation of one of the recurring complaints I've had about the storyarc so far (why is this completely separate universe peopled by mostly humanoid characters, who are supposedly only prevalent in the regular universe because of Rassilon's interference throughout Time). It should be interesting to see, but after a long stretch of McGann I'm looking forward to getting some Davison, Baker and McCoy action going again.

Jerusalem fucked around with this message at May 20, 2014 around 09:00

CobiWann
Oct 21, 2009

There are lost episodes of course. Stories that were commissioned but never made. Or made but misfiled, post broadcast. Sheer incompetence, of course.

I’m right there with you on the whole Divergent Universe arc so far. I’m on the second episode of The Twilight Kingdom and it’s definitely a more “classic” story compared to Scherzo or The Natural History of Fear. But I still don’t get WHY the Divergent Universe arc exists so far. If it was a case of the Doctor being in our universe still, but having to track down the TARDIS in some “The Key to TARDIS” type story arc because the TARDIS is running from his anti-time infection, it wouldn’t be too different from the Divergent Universe so far. And I still don’t get C’rizz or why he’s companion material either, but I’m willing to give him a shot as this is really only his second story…

It’s a bit of a bummer. Paul McGann is my Doctor, but after four straight stories, I’m ready for a return to Davison, Baker, and McCoy. Or, maybe it’s that I’m ready for a return to Erimem, Evelyn “Hot Lips” Smythe, and being introduced to Hex.

FreezingInferno
Jul 15, 2010

THERE.
WILL.
BE.
NO.
BATTLE.
HERE!


Yeah, looking back on it, the Divergent Universe really is a miss. Scherzo is one of the most... unsettling things I've heard when it comes to Big Finish (it hit a phobia of mine when the Doctor yells SLIT MY THROAT CHARLEY! Then you've got Creed Of The Kromon, which is less unsettling and just straight-up "oh god why". Natural History Of Fear has a cute twist, Twilight Kingdom is... everything Jerusalem just said. The next story in the arc is pretty good as well, but again not really all that "divergent". And then I just plain forget the specifics of the last few, barring the final cliffhanger to close the whole thing out.

Speaking of McGann on audio, though... I've finally reached the finale of the EDAs! Lucie Miller and To The Death! Their reputation precedes them. I hope I will enjoy.

McGann
May 18, 2003

Get up you son of a bitch! 'Cause Mickey loves you!



FreezingInferno posted:


Speaking of McGann on audio, though... I've finally reached the finale of the EDAs! Lucie Miller and To The Death! Their reputation precedes them. I hope I will enjoy.

I was popping in excited to post about Situation Vacant coming up, but turns out the Tamsin Drew arc opens the series, where I was thinking it closed it. One of my favorite Eighth Doctor audios (god I love that cliffhanger...)


Eighth Doctor: [reading from a paper they just found waiting for them]"The afternoon agenda...Well done on solving this morning's mystery, but there's no time to relax. Now you must come together to fight a new and deadlier menace stalking London as we speak...I'm speaking now, I don't see a..."

Companions: [lots of 'holy poo poo' reactions] What is it?!

[20 foot tall Robot starts tearing up downtown]

Eighth Doctor: I think you'll find that is the afternoon task.
[CUE MUSIC]

McGann fucked around with this message at May 20, 2014 around 12:26

Bicyclops
Aug 27, 2004

You don't know how lucky you are you're snakes.


You guys are way ahead of me (and I'm taking a break, so you'll keep being ahead of me!). Having finally finished Zagreus, I have to admit, it goes more and more off the rails as it goes. It's about eight different Doctor Who serials of varying qualities crammed into an Alice in Wonderland dreamscape. It's not bad, it's just a mess, and I'm glad I broke it up instead of listening to it all at once.

Next up for me is The Wormery and then the Divergent Universe arc, whenever I can get around to affording it!

CobiWann
Oct 21, 2009

There are lost episodes of course. Stories that were commissioned but never made. Or made but misfiled, post broadcast. Sheer incompetence, of course.



The legend dates back to Roman times, at least: a great White Worm, as wide as a man, slithers out of the rocks of the Dark Peak Gap to take animals, sometimes even children, for its food.

When the Doctor and Leela arrive in the wilds of Derbyshire, only to get caught up in the hunt for a missing girl, they soon discover that the legend of the Worm is very much alive – even now, in 1979.

Worse still, it seems that the Doctor isn't the only renegade Time Lord on the trail of this deadly and mysterious Worm…

Tom Baker is the Doctor in Trail of the White Worm.

Cast
Tom Baker (The Doctor)
Louise Jameson (Leela)
Geoffrey Beevers (The Master)
Michael Cochrane (Colonel Spindleton)
Rachael Stirling (Demesne Furze)
John Banks (Carswell/Mercenary)
Becci Gemmell (Julie)
Mark Field (John)

Written By: Alan Barnes
Directed By: Ken Bentley

Trailer - http://www.bigfinish.com/releases/p...-white-worm-658

X X X X X

For a Time Lord who has access to all of time and space thanks to the TARDIS, the Doctor and his companions sure end up in Great Britain more often than not.

Mainly for budgetary reasons and for the ease of the cast and crew, Doctor Who has had a very long, rich, and varied history with regards to filming in England and Wales. A look behind the scenes of many episodes will tell the tale of location scouting, sound stage work, and monetary concerns. Many of the episode descriptions on Wikipedia contain the phrase “cut for budgetary reasons.”
There’s a reason why the Death Zone of Gallifrey looks like the rocky and harsh countryside of Wales, and it’s not just because it’s the rocky and harsh countryside of Wales.

Even with the location limitations placed upon them by the penny pinchers at the BBC, the writers, producers, and crew have always found a way to work within those confines. Filming at a typical English manor house, Day of the Daleks used time travel and predestination to strong effect, while Ghost Light took advantage of the manor house setting with a creepy tale about spirits. Costumes were used, reused, borrowed from, and swapped with other television productions. Friends and family, and sometimes crew, were put into scenes as extras. And, of course, there’s the possibly apocryphal story of Doctor Who filming in a quarry in Wales. The cast and crew heard an explosion from over a nearby hill. On the other side of the hill, to their surprise, another BBC science fiction was filming, none other than Blake’s 7!

Constantly ending up in the United Kingdom in one way or another is part of the show’s charm. Wales, London, Scotland…Cardiff…Doctor Who has adapted, both with behind the scenes tricks of the trade as well as implanting and intertwining all things British with all things science fiction.

The Trail of the White Worm is the first episode in the two-part “season finale” that wraps up the first series of the Fourth Doctor Adventures. Playing off of a famous piece of folklore, the story finds the Doctor and Leela facing off against a heated foe over the fate of a fantastical creature. A solid story steeped in nostalgia, Trail suffers from being a bit uneven, a bit boring, and a bit underwhelming considering the people involved.

Derbyshire, 1979. You don’t go to England during the summer without a good pair of gumboots, the Doctor tells Leela. But it doesn’t take long for the pair to be up to their waists in it, as a search party causes the pair to separate! As the Doctor becomes keenly interested in the search for the missing girl, Leela finds herself running for her life from a retired Colonel of the British Army! This Colonel, however, is under a new commanding officer, one who plans to use a legendary beast as part of his diabolical plan to conquer the Earth!

The Lambton Worm is an old legend from Northeast England. A rebellious young nobleman named John Lambton catches a lamprey while fishing instead of attending church. He disposes of the lamprey by throwing it down a well before heading off to join the Crusades. While he’s going, the lamprey grows into a large white worm that poisons the well, destroys the local villages and farms, and leaves his family estate in ruins. Returning from the Crusades, Lambton fights and kills the worm, but at the cost of the next nine generations of Lambton patriarchs dying in a manner other than peacefully in their beds. Trail of the White Worm disposes of the curse and focuses on the core aspect of the Lambton Worm; big, white, lives underground, eats cows, sheep, and sometimes people. Trail strikes me as a tale that could have come from the pen of Robert Holmes (as opposed to Alan Barnes of Storm Warning and Neverland fame), in that you have a legendary/mythical/magical creature that turns out, and I don’t think I’m giving anything away by this, to be something much more fantastic and not of this world. Add the colorful secondary characters and “friendly but biting” banter between them, and Trail of the White Worm could have easily been filmed and produced for the Fourth Doctor’s television run. That said, the whole of Trail suffers from being the first episode in a two-episode story. Trail could have been a stand-alone story with the rewriting of the final three-to-five minutes, but as the cliffhanger MUST lead into the second episode, everything in those final minutes seems very rushed and jammed in. It’s a massive tonal and narrative shift from the other 50+ minutes, where things moved at a slower (but still brisk, as it’s a 60-minute story) pace. The climax is rushed, and the listener has a confused sense of “what just happened” before the final 30 seconds jam in enough exposition and action to set the tone for the second episode. The Oseidon Adventure is a different type of story than Trail of the White Worm; a military “race against the clock” as opposed to a “kidnapping/what’s in the house” tale.

Tom Baker is the type of actor whose performance can either make a moderate script strong or make a moderate script weak. For this season of the Fourth Doctor Adventures, we have seen his sleepwalk through Destination: Nerva as well as absolutely crush it in The Renaissance Man. Trail of the White Worm sees the Doctor doing the “snooping around” bit for most of the episode’s run time, and then putting it all together in the final few minutes. Baker, as usual, is charming and quick witted. When he walks into Colonel Spindleton’s manor for the first time, he bellows “Hello! Anyone seen a savage?” He makes a comment about “which end is preferable” when he and Leela are swallowed by the White Worm as well. Baker’s charisma helps to carry the uneven script, but when he finally realizes just who exactly he’s dealing with, his reaction is subdued, and the listener doesn’t get the sense of malice that should accompany his presence.

The script seperates the Doctor and Leela early on. One of the high points of Tom Baker’s return to the role has been his chemistry with Louise Jameson, but another high point has been the development of her character. The previous stories have established Leela as more than a savage, but Trail of the White Worm takes the opportunity to show her physical side. Her showdown with Spindleton’s tank and the plan she uses to “win” the fight made me clap my hands. Leela’s pride and joy in that moment were infectious. After that, we do get the standard “Leela yells at/threatens the villain” moments to close out the story, but they can be forgiven for the moment where Leela manages to outduel a freakin’ tank!

The CD cover gives it away; after a nine-year hiatus, Geoffrey Beevers returns to the role of the Master for Big Finish. Easily the best parts of Dust Breeding and Master, hearing Beevers silky but harsh tones as he portrays the burned and scarred renegade Time Lord are pure joy. As usual, he adopts an alias, pretends to be helpful and willing to give “his” master everything he wants, until that moment where he turns the tables and shows his true colors. The drawback, sadly, is that the Master is barely IN this story! He plays a much larger role in The Oseidon Adventure, so it’s understandable why Barnes would hold him back a bit. But if you’re going to downplay the Master, your first episode cliffhanger MUST be nothing but “I am the Master, and you will obey me!” It’s a wasted chance that underlines the supporting role the Master plays in Trail of the White Worm.

Alan Barnes once again gives us a strong supporting cast. Michael Cochrane plays retired Colonel Hugh Spindleton. Cochrane’s performances were the highlights of the Fifth Doctor serial Black Orchid and the Seventh Doctor serial Ghost Light. Spindleton wants nothing more than for Britain to get off her knees and get her Empire back, and he plays the “retired Great White Hunter” who thinks free milk for school kids is a “bad thing to the hilt.” He’s so over the top, he could see the other side, and Cochrane runs with it for all he’s worth. The teens played by John Banks and Becci Gemmell are the comic relief and tension breakers for the episode, and do their job well. Racahel Stirling finds herself doing the heavy lifting, though, as Demesne Furze, the mysterious old woman who has a connection to the White Worm. It’s tough to put a finger on her performance. She realizes what the Doctor is early on, a Time Lord, but switches back and forth between being menacing and threatening to pleading and cojoling, begging for his life when minutes earlier she was blackmailing him. It’s very jarring and knocks the listener a bit off-kilter.

That’s the theme as a whole for Trail of the White Worm. The opening is very quick and intense, then we have a long middle section of running around and investigating, and then a large amount of exposition and action jammed into the final scene before the last 30 seconds of the story radically change the tone. It’s one of the drawbacks for the hour-long format, and while there are some solid moments within the serial, in the end it rushes everything together and almost renders the entirety of Trail of the White Worm as nothing more than a McGuffin to lead into the season finale.

Synopsis – A throwback to Robert Holmes, Trail of the White Worm suffers from alternately rushing about and taking its time before jamming everything into the final minutes. 3/5.

Next up - With the Doctor a prisoner on the Kraals' radiation-blasted home planet of Oseidon, only his companion Leela can save the day – alongside a most unlikely ally…

Tom Baker is the Doctor in…The Oseidon Adventure.

marktheando
Nov 4, 2006



If you like white worms and and have access to American Netflix (use Hola unblocker if you aren't in Yank land), you should watch Lair of the White Worm. It has a very young Peter Capaldi and a very young Hugh Grant investigating the killer worm and it's completely mental.

Gaz-L
Jan 28, 2009


McGann posted:

I was popping in excited to post about Situation Vacant coming up, but turns out the Tamsin Drew arc opens the series, where I was thinking it closed it. One of my favorite Eighth Doctor audios (god I love that cliffhanger...)



How did you forget that Tamsin comes first? 8DA season 4 finale spoiler:Her dying is, while not AS big a deal as Lucie, a clear sign of how in over his head the Monk is. God, I just love the RAGE McGann musters when he confronts Gardner at the end.

Creature
Mar 9, 2009


I picked up a seashell to illustrate my homelessness.
But a crab crawled out of it, making it useless.


For anyone interested, there's about 60 issues of the IDW Doctor Who comic up for grabs on Humble Bundle - https://www.humblebundle.com/books

I have no idea what they're like, but I dropped the $15 to get the Prisoners of Time trilogy because it sounds kind of interesting.

MattD1zzl3
Oct 26, 2007
Probation
Can't post for 3549 days!


Whats the most mobile-phone-friendly way to view this? I've never had a comic book, much less a digital one.

Gaz-L
Jan 28, 2009


Creature posted:

For anyone interested, there's about 60 issues of the IDW Doctor Who comic up for grabs on Humble Bundle - https://www.humblebundle.com/books

I have no idea what they're like, but I dropped the $15 to get the Prisoners of Time trilogy because it sounds kind of interesting.

How do the Humble guys deliver comics? Is it just a PDF dump, or is it like a voucher code for Comixology or something?

PoshAlligator
Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.


Humble gives it to you as HD PDF, SD PDF, MOBI, and EPUB.

I've just done as they've recommended and slapped the SD PDFs (except the rare cases where the HD PDF is less than 100mb) into my Google Books area so I can just pull them from the cloud onto my tablet when I feel like it. You can zoom and stuff that way and it seems nice enough, though not quite as good as Comixology. Great value!

Rochallor
Apr 22, 2010



I'm wondering how much C'rizz was even meant to be a character and how much he was just supposed to be a plot device. It seems like Big Finish bailed out of the Divergent Universe arc pretty much just after it began, because they wanted a more traditional series alongside the revival. Something C'rizz does--him dying--awkwardly sets the stage for the end of Eight's audios in the main range and for the beginning of his series with Lucie. So I'm wondering if he was even supposed to serve a purpose beyond being, basically, an ejection seat.

Potsticker
Jan 13, 2006



I'm going to go ahead and defend a character I didn't really care for here, but I think C'rizz has some good audios. Or rather, there are good audios where I liked C'rizz's performance. Other Lives is probably the top C'rizz performance for me. Outside of being able to pass for a human in a couple of scenes, his major solo story arc in this audio was a little cliche, but I felt it worked well with the character. Memory Lane was another strong perfomance, but C'rizz could've just been the normal englishman he sounded like and nothing would've changed. Finally, Terror Firma is a terrible audio, but C'rizz's part was well acted and certainly could've done without the last bit, but Terror Firma is a terrible audio and Terror Firma is a terrible audio.

There's other audios that are good, like Time Works, but C'rizz is completely ancillary to everything in it. Audios that focus on him, especially his final audio, usually end up being quite terrible. Mainly due to the fact that exactly who and what C'rizz is never really gets nailed down. Especially anything to do with his faith or fictive headmates. Out of them all, the best is probably The Next Life, which did a good job of wrapping up the Divergent Universe, actually making the "No Time Exists Here" part relevant for pretty much the only time in the whole arc, and contains the only instance where I thought listening to Scherzo wasn't a complete and total waste of my time.

Jerusalem
May 20, 2004

Would you be my new best friends?


Interesting that the moments you identify as making the best use of him occur in stories I haven't listened to yet. Hopefully this means I have something to look forward to, because at the moment he seems to exist solely to make me go,"Oh yeah, C'rizz exists. "

Potsticker
Jan 13, 2006



Yeah, he's a really bland character. C'rizz is supposed to be a weird turtle/lizard-looking alien with chameleon skin and that almost never comes through in the audios except when they're specifically pointing it out for the listener. With Frobisher, he's a giant penguin and he sounds like a giant penguin and he acts like a giant penguin and goddamn you believe you're listening to a giant penguin.

C'rizz just sounds like a normal guy hanging around.

Fungah!
Apr 30, 2011

THAT'S IT!
I'VE COME UP WITH A
NEW DISCOUNT!


Jerusalem posted:

Interesting that the moments you identify as making the best use of him occur in stories I haven't listened to yet. Hopefully this means I have something to look forward to, because at the moment he seems to exist solely to make me go,"Oh yeah, C'rizz exists. "

Hell, he's so blandly written that in The Next Life they even feel the need to come out with a diegetic reason for why he's such a bland character. Turns out the whole chameleon thing he's got going on is mental as well as physical, so he always blends in with the people he meets personality-wise.

Fil5000
Jun 23, 2003

HOLD ON GUYS I'M POSTING ABOUT INTERNET ROBOTS


McGann posted:

I was popping in excited to post about Situation Vacant coming up, but turns out the Tamsin Drew arc opens the series, where I was thinking it closed it. One of my favorite Eighth Doctor audios (god I love that cliffhanger...)


I really, really like Situation Vacant. It's just a ridiculous amount of fun. Also it has James Bachman basically playing Harry Biscuit from Bleak Expectations.

CobiWann
Oct 21, 2009

There are lost episodes of course. Stories that were commissioned but never made. Or made but misfiled, post broadcast. Sheer incompetence, of course.

So after The Talons of Weng-Chiang, I decided to give another old serial a try. I have a copy of The Sea Devils handy, but the kiddo’s dad convinced me to give one of his favorite serials a try – Attack of the Cybermen. Having sat through part one last night…

1 – Can I get a copy of the “bank robbers” theme for a ringtone? That’s a jaunty little tune. I kind of wanted to see how their heist played out…

2 – I’m really NOT comfortable with the Doctor/Peri dynamic right now. Maybe I’m just used to their audio chemistry, but I’m not getting WHY Peri would be traveling with the Doctor right now. They snap at each other instead of talking and Peri whines a LOT (I don’t know if it’s the writing, the accent, or a lack of acting experience at this point, but Nicola Bryant is just NOT enjoyable, even in the pink outfit and red heels). I’m not getting the “volatile best buds” vibe so much as a “one of us is going to die young” impression…

3 – I like Lytton.

4 – Wow. The Cybermen costumes definitely need the Age of Steel upgrade.

I can’t wait to watch part 2, and then go back and listen to the commentary. Baker and Bryant apparently take the piss out of the episode on it.

Lampsacus
Oct 21, 2008


Vincent and the Doctor's BBC credits has a voice over detailing helplines and websites for depression. \m/ I love Who.

marktheando
Nov 4, 2006



Lampsacus posted:

Vincent and the Doctor's BBC credits has a voice over detailing helplines and websites for depression. \m/ I love Who.

This is not specific to Doctor Who. Every tv show that deals with serious issues like suicide, addiction, or sexual abuse does this. "If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this programme you can phone this helpline" is practically a tv catchphrase at this point.

Wheat Loaf
Feb 13, 2012

Fancy.


CobiWann posted:

So after The Talons of Weng-Chiang, I decided to give another old serial a try. I have a copy of The Sea Devils handy, but the kiddo’s dad convinced me to give one of his favorite serials a try – Attack of the Cybermen. Having sat through part one last night…

This one's pretty notorious, because it's the one Ian Levine allegedly co-wrote with Saward. It was conceived as a sort of sequel to "Tomb of the Cybermen" even though that serial had been lost for almost 20 years when "Attack" came out. You could still read the Target novelisation, of course, but I think "Attack" was very much a "by the fans, for the fans, but only these fans" kind of story.

quote:

I like Lytton.

He originally appeared a year earlier in "Resurrection of the Daleks" if you're interested in that.

CobiWann
Oct 21, 2009

There are lost episodes of course. Stories that were commissioned but never made. Or made but misfiled, post broadcast. Sheer incompetence, of course.

Metal Loaf posted:

This one's pretty notorious, because it's the one Ian Levine allegedly co-wrote with Saward. It was conceived as a sort of sequel to "Tomb of the Cybermen" even though that serial had been lost for almost 20 years when "Attack" came out. You could still read the Target novelisation, of course, but I think "Attack" was very much a "by the fans, for the fans, but only these fans" kind of story.

The return of Lytton, the Cyber-Controller, Telos and the mention of Zodin (who never showed up on TV, did she?) and past companions…yeah, I can definitely see the “fandom” aspect. That and the chameleon circuit gag, which I kind of enjoyed.

quote:

He originally appeared a year earlier in "Resurrection of the Daleks" if you're interested in that.

I know what's after The Sea Devils then.

Gaz-L
Jan 28, 2009


Resurrection is bizarre because it LOOKS great, but there's WAY too much going on. If they could stick to one plot or setting the story would be much, much better.

Also, I can't watch it without thinking of the QI bit where David Mitchell imagines Rodney Bewes being the real life Highlander.

"And in other news, it was revealed today that actor Rodney Bewes has lived as long as time itself..."

Wheat Loaf
Feb 13, 2012

Fancy.


I think "Resurrection" is one of those serials where the instinctive response is, "Oh, the Daleks are in it; it must be good!" For what it's worth, it's the serial where Terry Molloy makes his debut as Davros (after a five-year absence for the character), and he's always enjoyable in the role.

"Resurrection" is also the quintessential Eric Saward story, more interested in the stock badass mercenary character than the Doctor or his friends, sacrificing plot coherence for loosely strung together action scenes, villains with circuitous plans which should really be collapsing under their own weight, and killing every single named character other than the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough (plus Lytton) by the end of the story.

See also: "Attack of the Cybermen"; "Earthshock"; "Revelation of the Daleks"; and "Warriors of the Deep" (not written by Saward, but actively following his template).

For an example of this formula that's actually very good because it was produced by a talented writer, see "The Caves of Androzani".

Wheat Loaf fucked around with this message at May 21, 2014 around 16:28

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Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



My favourite bit about Resurrection of the Daleks is the DVD booklet, which tries gamefully to big the story up, talking about how "the Daleks are arguably more effective when portrayed as schemers than as screaming ninnies", and suchlike.

So then the DVD for Revelation of the Daleks comes out, Colin Baker locks all the doors, and what's the first line on the booklet? "Eric Saward was eager to redeem himself after the hideous smelly worthless failure of his previous Dalek effort, widely seen as a complete drizzling shitpile..." (Or words to that effect, my DVD's somewhere else, otherwise I'd check the exact wording.)

Trin Tragula fucked around with this message at May 21, 2014 around 12:57

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