GUEST REVIEW – “The Lost Dimension”: Just another Who story?

by Z. P. Moo

 

For their now-annual summer event, Titan Comics Doctor Who ranges came together in 2017 to create the second-highest-profile multi-Doctor story of the year. The Lost Dimension is an odd beast. On one hand it’s an offshoot of one of the weirder and less coordinated areas of the expanded universe in the oft-overlooked comic medium, and yet it adds vast swathes of new information to the canon (in so far as such a thing as canon exists) and several interesting ideas and touches on a number of unusual concepts that the whole thing simply demands attention.

So for that reason I’ve decided to examine it and pick out some of what it touches on for closer inspection. It’s more than just another Doctor Who story.

Consider this your spoiler warning.

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TIBERIAN THOUGHTS – “The Dalek Occupation of Winter”, is, like, really good y’all

Or – “Tibbles & the Daleks #4: Capitalist Dalek”

 

Sometimes, there’s just a story that pushes you to reconsider a lot of stuff you took for granted.

See, one of the very first things I wrote for this humble blog was a contradictions-ridden series about the Daleks, their aesthetics, and their politics. Which arrived at the semi-sincere, semi-provocative conclusion that Daleks, as symbols and embodiments of fascism, had kind of ran their course, prisoners of a rather dated idea of totalitarianism, incapable of properly carrying a story in a post-Trump world. By othering fascism, they shift the blame away from the human race, away from our own potential for horror.

As it turns out, that might have been a really bad take. For starters, giving human fascists the benefit of “complexity” feels a tiny bit too centrist, in this day and age. But mostly – writers have adapted, and overcome, and found ways to connect the Daleks with sheer, raw political horror once again. The first sign came from Janine Rivers’ “Ghosts in the Machine”, a fan audio which came out a few months ago (1), and its very direct engagement with the worst of alt-right ideology, albeit seen through a sci-fi prism. And then, completely unexpected, the Big Finish writing debut of one David K. Barnes, award-winning audio writer and official recipient of the Best BF Barnes award (they have like, four of those now?) – “The Dalek Occupation of Winter”.

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GUEST POST – A Theory on the Origins of the Time Lords

by Enigma

 

Writers tend to be a bit vague on the ancient history of the Time Lords, don’t they? Some vague, mythologized notions and then handwaved away like it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Shame, really, Gallifrey’s got some real world building potential. You could pretty easily build a history from the, frankly still very little, fragments of modern Gallifrey (which I’m counting as Rassilon on) and the connection between the Time Lords and the TARDIS. So I figured, why don’t I take a stab at it? And I think I’ve come up with a perfectly solid prehistory for the species known as the Time Lords.

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GUEST POST – Cosmic Sciences – “Colony in Space”, and beyond

by James Blanchard

 

It is February, 1513, and somewhere in the region of Florence, Niccolò Machiavelli is strapped to a wall, his own weight steadily dislocating his shoulders. In the last few years of his career, the vying and scheming and warring of Popes and Princes has turned his home upside down. To anyone else, a united Italy would be a failed promise of the past, an empty chair in paradise. Instead, a few months later, Machiavelli writes a book.

Meanwhile – a long time ago on Gallifrey – a child is taken from her father’s estate, to become a student of the Cosmic Sciences. She hopes to be a master of them. Before she can, though, she must look into time, into a space in space, and report what she sees. In that schism, she sees both beginning and end, a trillion bricks made of tiny paradoxes, building a city where streets are made of time and homes of memory. She learns a truth, and, we’re told, goes mad.

In her future, there will be a colony in space. Built into the cliffs is the last vestige of a fallen civilisation, called the Primitives. Only its ruler has retained the ability to speak. Two fates are open to it: either it destroys itself or destroys the whole universe.

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ASSESSING STRESS, AUDIO EDITION – Lady Christina

Welcome to DoWntime’s increasingly late 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 discuss, around some champagne and caviar, the latest extraordinary adventures of one Lady Christina de Souza. Monsieur, or madame, will watch out for the spoilers after the “read more” tag.

 

Spoiler-free thoughts:

TIBERE: Big Finish has gone all out on expanding the Russell T. Davies’ era of the show through various stories and spin-offs since last year. And, as it turns out, this is probably their best attempt yet. Which I wasn’t necessarily expecting, but, well, not going to complain – it’s a great set, that feels incredibly fun and engaging, and just fits naturally into an until then free corner of Who. We have military morality plays with UNIT, we have spy thrillers with Counter-Measures, but the whole glamour James Bond pastiche is something Big Finish hasn’t really tried within the boundaries of Who. And turns out, it works – it made me think a lot of Jago & Litefoot, probably the golden standard as far as feel-good entertainment ranges go. And for my money, I think that’s a better first set than Jago & Litefoot got – the stories are all solid, if varying in quality, but above all, it just feels like a confident start that sets up characters, themes, emotional arcs and key relationships. You do legitimately feel, after these four hours, like the range could, and honestly should, keep going. Christina’s backstory, her relationship with Sam Bishop (the best ever outing for that character, by the way, who really shines when placed in less typically UNIT-esque settings) or with her father … These are incredibly rich bits of drama, and there’s incredible potential in them. I had an absolute blast listening to this, and seeing all the at first improbable gambles it took (Sylvia Noble?! Sontarans?!) pay off; but, above all, it just made me excited to see all these new avenues opening. It feels better than just good – it feels fresh.

SCRIBBLES: This is just so. Much. Fun. I was grinning from start to finish. It oozes a new tone and genre for Who media. It’s not something you’d get in any other range, and that’s a win in of itself. The fact that it’s such an overwhelmingly, deliriously fun one just goes even further to making this a must-listen. But above all, this range has an infectious lead duo. The chemistry between Lady Christina and Sam Bishop is absolutely sparkling and makes me invested in what comes next. Slapping that in a campy, Roger Moore as Bond-inspired lineup of storytelling just makes it even better. I could listen to so much more, which is exactly how a range should kick off.

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TIBERIAN THOUGHTS – 2005 Didn’t Kill the Classic Stars: why the Who revival is good, actually

Some words before the article: as you may have noticed, the site hasn’t been update in a while. That’s due to two things: one, the fact that the people managing it, me included, have been insanely busy (I’m moving to another country! it takes time, and brainpower). Two: there are going to be some massive changes in how the site is managed, including columns being drastically altered or disappearing, and some arrivals and departures as far as the team is concerned. Normal service should resume, at worst, in October.

Thank you for the inquiries I have received about the fate of the blog, it is honestly heartwarming to see concern for us! We are, hopefully, not going anywhere, and we hope we’ll be able to provide you with quality content for many years to come.

Now, to the meat of the today’s discussion.


Not everyone can like all of Doctor Who.

I mean, I’m sure there are a select few that are able to embrace every single aspect of that weird, weird show and love them equally; but well, humans being humans, most of us are going to have favourites. It’s life. And there stretches of the show one can have an ideological bone to pick with, obviously – for most people, it’s the Pertwee era and its complicated relationship with the establishment, but really, your mileage may vary, and it’s generally a source for good-spirited and healthy debate.

Less healthy, on the other hand, is an increasingly prevalent trend in certain circles to consider that the 2005 revival is, on some level, fundamentally inferior to the Classics; that it betrays them on some deep, ideological level; or that it is deeply and irredeemably #problematic. That is a very different beast – because it postulates a change in the very way Who is supposed to work for people. You go from a cyclical process of rise and fall, of eras you like and you don’t, of confusing and divisive, but life-giving weirdness; to a linear history that is marked, at some point, by a betrayal of an original text, of an original creed.

Of course, everyone is entitled to an opinion, and no one’s going to be naming names and starting a shit-slinging contest in this corner of the internet. But, well, writing contrarian and altogether overlong analysis about niche point of views is pretty much my raison d’être, so, here we are. Let’s discuss. Continue reading