GUEST POST – “We’re all stories in the end”: a series 5 retrospective (3/3)

by Ed Goundrey-Smith

 

Series 5 of Doctor Who holds a special place in my heart.

Not least does it pack the full punch of nostalgia, which yes, does admittedly make it very appealing. But for me, it has proved timeless – as I will discuss, the way that the 2010 run has managed to be what I needed at so many different points in my life, is quite miraculous. Yes – not least do I bask in its fairytale magic, but I always get something new when watching Series 5.

So, with the end of Steven Moffat’s era looming, I decided to look at his first run in an analytical way. To see why they have affected me so personally, and why they continue to resonate with me seven years later.

I decided to go back to where it all began, to the little girl who waited.

Continue reading

LOOKING FOR TELOS – “The Rescue”

τέλος • (télosn (genitive τέλεος or τέλους); third declension

completion, accomplishment, fulfillment, perfection, consummation

The Whoniverse is wide, and rich, and crazy.

And sometimes, bits of it go overlooked. There’s no way around it, we, at DoWntime, are children of the New Series. Our cultural sensibilities and our tastes in Who have been shaped by it. And of course, when we’re embarking in the big task of producing Discourse, we naturally tend to tackle recent events, controversies and stories. But that doesn’t mean the twenty-six seasons of Classic Who are undeserving of some in-depth coverage – and what better way to deliver said coverage than to watch it.

ALL of it. In order. Without skipping anything.

We’re looking for our telos, and it starts now.

Continue reading

ASSESSING STRESS, AUDIO EDITION – Torchwood: Aliens Among Us 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 the next chapter of the exciting Torchwood continuation, “Aliens Among Us”. Read the talk. Enjoy it. Beware the spoilers after the “read more” tag. Take five packages. Take three packages. Leave a comment. Maybe look up our thoughts on the first boxset. Take seven packages.

 

Spoiler-free thoughts

TIBERE: It’s still impossible to fully know where the narrative of Aliens Among Us is headed, although we know have some serious clues, and we still can’t pass a definitive judgement on the project as a whole – but as a set of Torchwood stories, this is some absolutely terrific stuff, picking off from the last boxset and expanding the characters in fascinating ways, allowing for some really strong standalones stories.

SCRIBBLES: It’s somewhat frustrating, not having the whole picture. There’s wonderful stories in this set, there truly are. The climax in particular is a favorite of mine from the series so far. But there’s also a slight feeling of a holding pattern, certain beats being held off until the end. Some of that works wonderfully, particularly the end of set cliffhanger. But other aspects don’t, particularly the Gwen plot, being revisited but put on hold with motion. And similarly, a few characters don’t get as much to do in these episodes. On the whole, of course, this is tremendously worth a recommendation. It’s Big Finish doing Torchwood, when isn’t that worth a go? And here it’s with a raw dedication to political fury meaning that elevates the weakest of stories here, all while staying true to the themes at the core of the show from the beginning. Aliens Among Us 2 isn’t quite new ground here, but there is much to enjoy, and some exciting build toward the payoff of the range.

TIBERE: I must admit, I rather enjoy the teasing. It can be a problem sometimes, and we’re certainly going to discuss those, but overall, I’m enjoying the sense of mystery the range is working towards – and the omnipresence of little clues, mysteries and continuity call-backs make it an incredibly intriguing and rewarding object of analysis. It’s not perfect – some characters get a bit sidelined, chiefly Orr, and not all the thematic deep dives land – but it’s unique, challenging and political. Actually – I might take that back a bit. It’s not all that “unique”. That might be the greatest flaw of these stories: while I do really like them, I must say I prefered the first set – because it was carrying a bit of fresh air, presented itself as a reinvention above all things, introducing new characters and problems to deal with. Here, we tread more conventional ground, and while I wouldn’t say the range is playing safe – I mean, that finale! – it certainly does lean a lot more in nostalgia and the classic brand of James Goss-inspired metatextual commentary than in a new bold direction. Still, for what it is, it’s pretty damn fantastic, and if the final set does stick the landing, this will go down as an unmitigated success.

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GUEST POST – “We’re all stories in the end”: a series 5 retrospective (2/3)

by Ed Goundrey-Smith

 

(Previous entry)

Series 5 of Doctor Who holds a special place in my heart.

Not least does it pack the full punch of nostalgia, which yes, does admittedly make it very appealing. But for me, it has proved timeless – as I will discuss, the way that the 2010 run has managed to be what I needed at so many different points in my life, is quite miraculous. Yes – not least do I bask in its fairytale magic, but I always get something new when watching Series 5.

So, with the end of Steven Moffat’s era looming, I decided to look at his first run in an analytical way. To see why they have affected me so personally, and why they continue to resonate with me seven years later.

I decided to go back to where it all began, to the little girl who waited.

Continue reading

THE TRUTH SNAKE – Democracy of Chaos (4/16): “The Satanic Mill”

Previous entry in series.

It’s kind of hard to get around a simple fact as far as “The Satanic Mill” is concerned. Something is wrong here. That sense pervades fan reception of the story, with one fan review aggregator giving it the lowest score of the entirety of Doom Coalition at 6.7 and prominent Big Finish reviewer Doc Oho giving it a quite savage 2/10. It is, quite generally, viewed as a misfire.

There’s understandable reasons for that: it’s fairly evident that the story has issues. The climax is an easy one to pick on in particular, with the Doctor literally waving his sonic screwdriver to get out of it. But more than that, there’s a concerning question of authorship. “Edward Collier” is not a name credited to any other Big Finish release ever, not even a short story. The extras don’t have any interviews with “Edward Collier.” No promotional material seems to be available from Big Finish featuring “Edward Collier.” It feels concerningly likely that the story is the product of multiple authors trying to salvage something workable, applying a pseudonym for the final product like “David Agnew” of old. It suggests that, from some fairly early stage of production, something went wrong.

But here’s the thing I think, on top of all of that: “The Satanic Mill” is bloody brilliant.

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LOOKING FOR TELOS – “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”

τέλος • (télosn (genitive τέλεος or τέλους); third declension

completion, accomplishment, fulfillment, perfection, consummation

The Whoniverse is wide, and rich, and crazy.

And sometimes, bits of it go overlooked. There’s no way around it, we, at DoWntime, are children of the New Series. Our cultural sensibilities and our tastes in Who have been shaped by it. And of course, when we’re embarking in the big task of producing Discourse, we naturally tend to tackle recent events, controversies and stories. But that doesn’t mean the twenty-six seasons of Classic Who are undeserving of some in-depth coverage – and what better way to deliver said coverage than to watch it.

ALL of it. In order. Without skipping anything.

We’re looking for our telos, and it starts now.

Continue reading

GUEST POST – “We’re all stories in the end”: a series 5 retrospective (1/3)

by Ed Goundrey-Smith

 

Series 5 of Doctor Who holds a special place in my heart.

Not least does it pack the full punch of nostalgia, which yes, does admittedly make it very appealing. But for me, it has proved timeless – as I will discuss, the way that the 2010 run has managed to be what I needed at so many different points in my life, is quite miraculous. Yes – not least do I bask in its fairytale magic, but I always get something new when watching Series 5.

So, with the end of Steven Moffat’s era looming, I decided to look at his first run in an analytical way. To see why they have affected me so personally, and why they continue to resonate with me seven years later.

I decided to go back to where it all began, to the little girl who waited.

Continue reading

LOOKING FOR TELOS – “Planet of Giants”

τέλος • (télosn (genitive τέλεος or τέλους); third declension

completion, accomplishment, fulfillment, perfection, consummation

The Whoniverse is wide, and rich, and crazy.

And sometimes, bits of it go overlooked. There’s no way around it, we, at DoWntime, are children of the New Series. Our cultural sensibilities and our tastes in Who have been shaped by it. And of course, when we’re embarking in the big task of producing Discourse, we naturally tend to tackle recent events, controversies and stories. But that doesn’t mean the twenty-six seasons of Classic Who are undeserving of some in-depth coverage – and what better way to deliver said coverage than to watch it.

ALL of it. In order. Without skipping anything.

We’re looking for our telos, and it starts now.

Continue reading

THE TRUTH SNAKE – Democracy of Chaos (3/16): “The Galileo Trap”

Previous entry in series.

“The Galileo Trap” is a bit of an oddity in Doom Coalition. In the midst of a quite heavily serialized story arc based in intense ensemble character dynamics, the range takes a step back for a fairly standard genre mashup romp of space cops and gangsters meets classical Rennaisance Italy imagery. The logic behind this is at once bizarre and quite reasonable. With Helen at the heart of what the story is progressing, it only makes sense to put her through the paces of a Doctor Who romp.

The opening scene, in comparison to the first two of Doom Coalition, is quite telling. Those stories open with quite enigmatic sequences, establishing two of the major threats of the arc quite bloodlessly. They’re all about establishing the concepts of the Eleven and the Red Lady, the former establishing his many personas and impending escape and the latter her enigmatic pervasive image. “The Galileo Trap,” on the other hand, goes for the familiar. A dirty great alien dog tears some poor red shirt to shreds. It’s the pre-credits from a hundred Doctor Who episodes, and plenty of other shows besides. The lack of originality there, really, is basically the point. This is Doom Coalition doing Doctor Who business as usual.

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