ASSESSING STRESS, AUDIO EDITION: Classic Doctors, New Monsters volume II

Welcome to DoWntime’s not-too-regular column, Assessing Stress. That’s where we assess … stress. Or more accurately, talk and debate about the newest episodes to hit the television screen, the new releases from Big Finish, and all these good things.

And today, Tibère and Scribbles tackle BF’s latest boxset, full of old and new favourites. Also, Five and the Racnoss. Eh, the door was opened, there was light, they just kind of came in and the others didn’t want to make them sad. Anyway. Let’s go.

 

Spoiler-free verdict:

SCRIBBLES: Well, that was a rather nice surprise, wasn’t it? I don’t believe either of us were particularly won over by the first outing of this range, but this hits the spot well. Every story here, really, makes an interesting case for the juxtaposition of their classic Doctors of choice with the modern era and find meaning for their characters, all while expanding in logical ways on new series monsters (whereas in the first set, elements like the ending to Falling Angels made me wonder how much the writing even understood the new series). Every monster here, no matter how different the approach, and they do get quite different, feels like an exciting and worthwhile extrapolation of the modern show in a way that Big Finish really has always provided to other eras at its best. And this fresh exploration of modern narrative space befits the writing of the Doctor, too. Even in the weakest story here, every Doctor really gets a chance to shine in a way they rarely do, using the weight of the modern series to inform explorations of who the Doctors once were, and every lead actor rises to the occasion admirably. It feels coherent and polished and high quality, making a case for the existence of this range that actually has me hoping there will be a volume 3 sometime soon.

TIBERE: It’s weird, BF seems, this year, on a big mission to make their most improbable and kind of unneeded projects succeed. The Ninth Doctor Chronicles, UNIT – Assembled (I mean, I wasn’t too into that one, but it was compelling in its own way), and now this. I’m surprised, but happy about it! But back on topic – this is a good set. Very good, I’d even say. Among the many problems of the first one (writers mostly on the less experienced side of things, a general feeling of rushed production, weird picks for who faces what …), one of the most annoying was they way the stories felt like they had nothing to say, nothing to add to the monsters we knew. That’s not really the case, here – no matter the execution, all of these are cool, compelling premises that do really feel like they expand the universe, and feed into the TV stories organically. Mostly, it’s a sort of laboratory for BF writers to throw some cool ideas and concepts and twist the original premises of these creatures in new ways – and yeah, that’s hardly the deepest kind of stories you’ll encounter, and I wouldn’t cry “masterpiece” at any point, but there’s a real joy in that. Those are good romps, solid action movies – that, importantly, don’t use their nature as romps to get stale and uncreative. It’s a lot of fun, and I’d definitely recommend it.

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GUEST POST: Smile, There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow

by A. Enigma

 

EPCOT. Everyone knows Epcot; Disney World’s second gate, a self proclaimed ‘Permanent World’s Fair’ that bores children with its slow educational dark rides while their parents get drunk in World Showcase and is for some reason getting a Guardians of Galaxy ride. But few people know what it was originally intended to be by the man himself, Walt Disney.

The Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow: perhaps Disney’s most frustrating acronym and Walt’s original reason for buying up a patch of Florida swamp twice the size of Manhattan. His idea for the area was to build a Utopian city of the future where people would live and captains of industry would be encouraged to set up shop and use it place as a testing ground for their new inventions and ideas. It would serve as a shining example to other American cities of how technology could be used to better the lives of all.

Walt would work on his plans for his dream city to the day he dies and the company would shelve the project, still early in its development, no longer having Walt’s ambition to to make it work.

But, while the idea would never come to fruition in reality, Disney did tap upon it in film form with their 2015 film Tomorrowland. Only having it be in another dimension instead of on Earth. And naming it after the section of Disneyland and Magic Kingdom parks instead of Epcot (because frankly, Tomorrowland sounds cooler). And not having it be Walt’s dream child and giving only the vaguest implication that he had anything to do with the city at all. ….none of which is the least bit important here. Whatever.

Anyway, the important thing is the movie’s iconic scene, or at least the scene the film’s promotional stuff heavily relied on, that of a young girl standing in a field of wheat looking off in the distant at a gleaming white citadel that contains all the hopes and the dreams of the past and the present. It’s really quite wonderful.

Now I know what you’re think: what in God’s name does this have to with Doctor Who?

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SCARVES AND CELERY – “Worse than Everybody’s Aunt!”: Authority Figures, Childhood, and Trauma in “The Eleventh Hour”

I’m going to start this essay with a content warning. Towards the end of this article, I will be discussing themes of child sex abuse and PTSD, and the way they relate to “The Eleventh Hour”. A fair chunk of this essay won’t be discussing those themes, so I’ve made it clear in the body of the essay when we do start approaching them. But if people would rather not read at all for the sake of self care, then I fully understand. I hope I’ve handled the discussion of those themes respectfully.


As the Moffat era draws to a close, let’s go back to where it all began. The Eleventh Doctor clinging on to a crashing TARDIS, and a little girl with a crack in her wall praying to Santa.

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Exorcizing “Exile” – a live-post of the worst Who story ever made

As you’ve seen, we got our first female Doctor.

We are very very very happy about it.

Except, of course, there is another story, before that one, featuring a female Doctor. A Big Finish story, set in an alternate universe, as part of the Unbound range. Starring Arabella Weir and David Tennant. Written by Nicholas Briggs.

Exile“.

The worst Who story ever made.

A story so bad it deserves a sort of ritualistic sending-off – now that it is irrelevant, that it has truly been sent into the trashbin of history, it deserves a methological dissection and assassination.

We are obliged to provide. Even if it costs us our sanity. Scribbles, Tibby (who is discovering the story!) and special guest Janine Rivers are on the case.

Pray for their souls.

CONTENT WARNING – transphobia, sexism, discussions of suicide, self-harm and addiction. Continue reading

THE TRUTH SNAKE – San Diego Comic Con 2017 recap, Thursday edition

This entry’s going to be a little bit different. As was mentioned previously, I have had the privilege of attending this year’s San Diego Comic Con, something I have not done in some time. As a trip to Comic Con covers so many different areas, this entry will be divided into largely unrelated subcategories, each to discuss some of the most prominent and exciting things I got to explore, in roughly chronological order.

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TIBERIAN THOUGHTS – “Sir, I protest, I am not a Merry Man!”: Robot of Sherwood and narrative spaces

When things have gotten a bit political and complicated on here, you know what one must do?

Go and rave about series 8. Again. Be warned, it is not the first time, and it won’t be the last.

But not about the big, huge, dark setpieces. Not that I don’t have material on those, but let’s do something a little simpler and happier. “Robot of Sherwood”, here I come.

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GUEST POST: An Age of Radicalisation – Doctor Who and Male Fandom

by Janine Rivers

I’ve been making a lot of noise recently.  Normally, elusive and enigmatic as I am, I stick to the shadows in an “Asylum of the Daleks-esque way, my footsteps echoing inside giant statues where my enemies seek to menace me.  Well, maybe not that last bit.  But over the last two weeks, I think I’ve gained more followers on Tumblr than I’ve had in my life.  A month ago I wasn’t even using the internet, but now it’s consumed me.

This isn’t autobiographical.  Well, it isn’t very autobiographical, but I’m terrible at writing in a neutral voice.  If this were an autobiographical post, it would go in my “diary”, or blog as it’s also referred to.  But today I’m doing something I never thought I would, and guest-writing a whole post on DoWntime.  There are reasons for that, beyond DoWntime just being brilliant – I feel like this is the right place for this particular post to go, because it brings a lot of what my lovely, far more intelligent colleagues have written into perspective.  Today, I’m here to talk about Doctor Who’s male fanbase.

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Where are we now, and what’s next – an official communication from the DoWntime team

Welcome, dear readers!

After the continuous flow of content series 10 has brought to this blog, it seems like a good time to seat back and talk about our future a bit. Yes, “our” future, together and all that. We’re romantic that way. We like to talk to you like you’re a handsome guy/gal/pal we want to hit on at a little decrepit bar playing the last Kesha hit songs in a faraway ton. Sorry.

Because you could of course assume that the site is going into quasi-hibernation until Christmas and the arrival of Jodie Whittaker, our glorious Thirteenth Doctor, into the TARDIS – but no! There are plans being drawn. Of course, not all those plans are going to get off the ground right now; because some of them would require time, and most of all money, we don’t have right now. And while a Patreon seems absolutely like something we’ll end up doing eventually, we all think it’s only normal and fair to show our readers that we can sustain the blog and its quality levels on our own and for a while before asking for any kind of money. But some of those projects are going to materialize much sooner, and hopefully they’ll be very enjoyable for you!

Here goes a list.

  • From August forwards, we’ll be starting to put money into WordPress to supress all those pesky ads you’re getting. We’ve been told they make navigation on mobile kind of difficult. Hopefully that’ll help!
  • As you might have noticed, our new Doctor is female. This is one awesome piece of news, and we’re all overjoyed here. In fact, we’re so pleased we’re going to have a very special celebration next week – on Saturday, Tibère and Scribbles will be live-commenting the infamous Big Finish audio, “Exile”, aka the transphobic one with a female Doctor, before throwing it into the trashbins of history once and for all. Of course, it’s a rather tricky thing to set up a live you can watch as it unfolds with our level of equipment, so you’ll only get to read the final product. But don’t worry, it should be very funny. Especially if Tibère is trying to drown his sorrows. Which he will.
  • In two weeks and a bit, you’ll get a new weekly series on the site – entitled “Looking For Telos”, it’ll see Scribbles and Tibère marathoning the Classic series, watching a serial each week and offering thoughts and analysis!
  • Scribbles will be at Comic-Con next week, and will offer some coverage from there! He has promised many “blurry, shitty photos”. Trust him.

And of course, we’ll be preparing all throughout the year to set-up some really cool coverage of series 11, with a large panel of guests, old and new! We’ve been aware that the series 10 coverage might have been a bit lacking in diversity of commentators, and that is something we intend to fix, or at least try to fix, going forwards!

Thank you once again for reading and appreciating (or not!) the content we are putting forward on this blog – watch Who, and be happy!

 

Andrew, Sam and Kevin

ASSESSING STRESS, AUDIO EDITION: Torchwood, series 3 – “The Office of Never Was”

Welcome to DoWntime’s not-too-regular column, Assessing Stress. That’s where we assess … stress. Or more accurately, talk and debate about the newest episodes to hit the television screen, the new releases from Big Finish, and all these good things. Spoilers after the “read more” tag!

And today, Tibère and Scribbles tackle the latest Torchwood audio, “The Office of Never Was”!

doors closing”

going up!”

SPOILER-FREE THOUGHTS

SCRIBBLES: Rather excellent, all in all. Ianto’s always been a bit of an odd character in Torchwood, a focal point for fandom but rarely explored as the central focus onscreen. This is easily one of the meatiest explorations of him, and of his place in Torchwood. Every character in the series has a bit of darkness to them, and it was clear Ianto did judging by the whole keeping a Cyber-converted woman in the basement incident, but here, we really get to see him stripped down and desperate in a really wonderful way. It’s not quite the tallest triumph of this range, but it is very, very good at what it does, and what it does is something this range could always use. So, highly recommended, really.

TIBERE: It’s James Goss. Surmise. I mean, I know we do tend to praise him maybe a bit too much, and if we keep going a restraining order might be on its way, but still! The man is brilliant, and this is a perfect exploration of why his writing style is so good, and why it fits Torchwood so well. Admittedly, it’s not a revolution or anything, it doesn’t do the kind of things “Cascade” or “The Dollhouse” have done this year, and I think you could say there is a sort of comfortable Torchwood audio formula at work now – the writers have settled into their groove. But eh, said formula is terrific – taking, in every new story, a specific aspect of Torchwood and examining it in very critical, dark and upsetting ways. Can’t really mention what that story does in the spoiler-free part, but it manages to find a new and compelling angle to base a Ianto story on while being utterly faithful to the tone and principles of the show. It’s a lovely conceptual horror tale with absolutely stunning sound work and direction (seriously, can we agree that the TW audios have like, the tightest production work in all of BFdom?), and that’s plenty enough already.

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