“I’m what they used to call a fly man round these parts.”
So Grant Morrison is non-binary. As I am writing this piece, they have just updated their pronouns to be they/them, confirming without a shadow of a doubt that they are non-binary. This is something to consider given Morrison’s history with gender being… less than optimal. It’s also worth noting given Morrison is silently one of Noah Hawley’s major influences, as anyone who has watched Legion will tell you. We’ve talked about Morrison in the last Lesson in Capitalism, in particular his work with the New Gods. But in this episode, there’s another aspect to consider: his magical war with noted con artist Alan Moore. Unlike the show, I use the term “con artist” with an air of love and affection. The phrase befitting a beloved (if somewhat problematic) grandfather who punch an asshole in the face. He is the best kind of con artist, one not so much interested in swindling the poor out of billions, but one out to change the world with his cons. To con the world, the systems that control us, and win out in the end. But there are two things Moore did that every con artist inevitably does. Firstly, he burnt some bridges. Morrison’s was among them, but there were countless others. Davis, Lee, Fox, to name but a handful. One does not con people without pissing them off or being pissed off in turn. The second thing he did was trust the government. It’s surprising to think a man like Moore, an anarchist who started his comic book career committing tax fraud against Thatcher’s England, would trust the government. But the face of the government takes on many forms. In the case of Moore, it called itself DC Comics. Contrary to popular belief, corporations are not people so much as systems. Ones that will break and destroy you if you ever think of them as people, let alone a fellow con artist. There is no art in the conning of the corporation. Only math, only pain. Morrison, for their part, also fell for this. They thought they could change things from within. As if empathizing with a corporation. They learned, after decades of hard work and unfortunate bootlicking, that this isn’t the case. And now, adrift from the system they once served, they feel comfortable using language that wouldn’t be accepted in such systems of power.
Were I my brother, I would be spending this post going in-depth on the vast and insidious implications of the first explicitly racist police officer in Fargo being a Mormon. (Note: this is in contrast to Moe Dammik, who was only implicitly racist.) I would go dive deep into the various cruelties of that American religion. I would explore the history of men wanting to own women, of a leader who is currently in jail for pedophilia, of a faith built on the racist ideals that built America.
Alas, I am not my brother, so I am left to simply talk about pie.
Arachnids in the UK (2018) is both a homage to the tropes and history of the giant spider movie, and one of the most direct political satires in the history of Doctor Who, looking to comment on and criticise the inescapable personality of Donald Trump at the dawn of a new era for the show. Looking at the philosophy of B-movies, the Gothic sensibilities of the Chris Chibnall era and industrial history, this BLACK ARCHIVE offers a coherent reading of this episode’s ideological web: its aesthetic successes, its political failings, and its surprising sociological relevance.
SAM: The Daleks are back. And they’re not good. They’re evil, in fact. Brand new information right there. Clearly, David Whitaker dug deep to find that title idea.
KEVIN: And they’re about to fuck off for like a decade. So they’ve gotta be extra evil as a last impression before they vanish from the show, and sulk until they’re allowed to return in color. I think the Cushing movies went to their bowl-shaped little heads.
SAM: Well, at least we’ve got seven whole episodes of them. And only one still exists. I’m feeling thrilled already.
KEVIN: Well, many say it’s a classic! I know how much you love and agree with fan wisdom, so I’m sure that’s encouraging.
SAM: Let’s just get this over with so we can get to the beloved and acclaimed classic … “Tomb of the Cybermen” … oh boy …
As you may already know, Time Lord Victorious is a ‘multi-platform Doctor Who story,’ which is to say that it is a loose collection of books, comics, and audio dramas. The branding is keen to push it as Who’s answer to Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame; busy posters excitedly slap together tons of characters to make it seem Epic. This, to be fair, worked for “Journey’s End.” The overall picture of what TLV might be remains frustratingly vague, so I’m going to behave myself and judge each fragment of it as it arrives (and I can afford/be bothered to check it out).
A man sits alone in a room full of sound. He chose to enter the room willingly, so he must have closed the door behind him, and he clearly wanted to lock it too. Hiding the key and forgetting where it was is a regretful decision that he doesn’t remember making. Faced with a table, a chair, a pair of headphones, a notebook, a pen, and no other alternative, he decides to listen to the sounds, and in these sounds, some authorial voice may be found, maybe with an escape. Shame that he’s a non-vocal authorial voice, the jerk.
People sure didn’t like the final episode of Dracula, huh?
Quoting IMDB scores is, most of the time, a rather futile exercise, given how susceptible they are to review bombing, but let’s indulge: “The Dark Compass”, the finale of Moffat and Gatiss’ horror miniseries, is standing at about 5.1 right now, a sheer drop of over three whole points from the opener. Looking around social media, the consensus is fairly clear: it was a good show … until the final episode came and ruined everything, forcing us back, head first, into the worst excesses of the last season of Sherlock. That story was an unfocused, directionless, self-indulgent mess who treated its female characters appallingly.
SAM: And now, we say goodbye to our best girl, Polly. Well, not right now, there’s six episodes of her left. And Ben’s alright too, I suppose. And there’s planes, too! Gotta love some planes. Just a technical note, before we begin – we’re both using the colour animation from 2019, ‘cause this is another missing serial!
KEVIN: Yeah, six episodes of Ben and Polly, then goodbye. Definitely six. Gonna miss them. It’s interesting, nobody ever really talks about their departure. I know why. I guess you will soon, too!
SAM: I assume “big epic Dalek finale that was supposed to be their last story ever airing immediately after” was a factor, surely?
KEVIN: Actually, there was a time when Ben and Polly were going to leave in Evil of the Daleks, but things got brought forward a bit. You’ll see what I mean. Best if we start watching so you can see what’s what.
Here on DoWntime, we talk a lot about Big Finish. And about the writers working for them, and how a lot of them are doing some fascinating things with Doctor Who, that can easily go unnoticed. Among those, Lisa McMullin – who’s previously worked on soaps, like EastEnders or Doctors, and has since 2019 become one of the most prolific scribes of expanded universe content, penning stories for Lalla Ward’s Romana, Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor (including an entry in the recent and highly-praised Stranded arc), the Paternoster Gang, and, most recently, for the Master themself, under the guise of Michelle Gomez.