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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GUEST POST – “Planet of the Ood”: the Terror of Empire

by Ricky Starr

 

It may-  or may not- surprise those outside of the UK that many people in Britain still hold the British Empire in some esteem. Much of this is due not to a cruel imperialist agenda, but simple patriotic ignorance. Indeed, Britain is a country that adores itself; it is successful in sporting endeavours, and can engage in collective enthusiasm for such peculiar things as the birth of a (royal) baby or winning a few games of football, with newspapers who typify headlines such as “BEST OF BRITISH”, so it is probably not a surprise that it seeps into some sort of collective consciousness that quite likes the union jack and thinks that maybe it should be in more places. It is not, apparently, a dangerous mindset. Yet, the average Brit does not ask questions. They do not attempt to reconcile xenophobia with a veneration for Mo Farah, and, similarly, they do not consider the implications of the foggy memory of Empire. They do not, as the Doctor points out, ask where their clothes came from, or who made them. The self-congratulatorily named Great Britain is far too busy thinking about itself, and its direct needs and wants and comforts, to worry about the wider implications even of a tax cut, or, in a more extreme sense, Primark clothes and imperial slavery.

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GUEST POST – South London Forever: Doctor Who and the Inner City

by Janine Rivers

 

And I don’t know anything,

Except that green is so green

And there’s a special kind of sadness

That only comes with spring.” [1]

south london1

A striking image: England’s capital city, caught in a stranglehold of vegetation.  A forest in the middle of Trafalgar Square, branches entwined in traffic lights, the Houses of Parliament rising out of the woodland in defiance, transformed into some storybook castle.

We hear news reports from the rest of the world; we hear other languages; we see the planet from afar, overrun with green.  But this is not a story about the rest of the planet, as the opening sequence establishes. This is a story about a city. Something has happened to London.

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GUEST POST – Chris Chibnall, Lizard People, and the reversal of narrative dead-ends

by Z. P. Moo

 

We’re getting a new showrunner in the form of Chris Chibnall!

Old news, I know, but one thing I recently noticed on a big marathon rewatch of the Matt Smith era of Doctor Who was that in all his pre-showrunner contributions there is only one classic series monster that we have seen Chibnall’s vision for.

That being the Silurians. In a total of four stories he has written for them in two. That’s half his portfolio of Doctor Who scripts, which means it is a good idea to take a closer look at these reptiles and see what new perspective he could bring to them.

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GUEST POST – Halfway Out Of the Dark, or why “A Christmas Carol” is so damn good

by Jonne Bartelds

 

It’s pretty much impossible to pick the best Doctor Who episode. After all, there’s 50+ years of televised content, not to mention the Expanded Universe, which, like our own actual universe, just keeps on expanding. Then there’s the fact that Doctor Who is so varied, spanning so many different genres, writers, directors, styles. Doctor Who, as a whole, is essentially a whole bunch of different shows, which all attract different kinds of people. So I don’t think you can objectively pick a best episode, and I won’t. What I can do, is make a case for my favourite episode.

Picking a favourite episode is still hard, though. There are so many I love, and which one I love the most tends to shift depending on my mood. But the one I always end up coming back to is A Christmas Carol. It is without a doubt the best Christmas special New Who has had (and with this much smaller pool, I think I can say that objectively). It is the rare episode of Doctor Who that I would actually consider nearly flawless. Everything comes together in such a beautiful way. It is funny and heartbreaking, it is dark and yet full of hope, and it is gorgeous.

The phrase ‘halfway out of the dark’ pops up a few times. Let’s talk about that, because it is really the core essence of this episode.

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GUEST POST – All around me are familiar faces: The Return of Old Characters

by Z. P. Moo

 

There’s a lot to be said for bringing back characters from the past to Doctor Who and with rumours of major characters set to return for series eleven it seemed good to take a look at how this has been done by Doctor Who before.

Because while bringing someone back is always good for fanservice purposes and it can work wonders for promotion, this in and of itself is not a good enough reason to do it. If you’ve only got X Character back because you can and only because you can then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. General favourites in this category include but are not limited to Captain Jack Harkness, the Rani, and Jenny. Often Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor will make an appearance (even though he already came back five years ago).

The way I see it, when it comes to bringing back characters it only needs to be done if there’s a reason this character needs to be in that story or some way their presence enhances the story or themes. Otherwise it risks getting in the way of a show that really should be trying to forge ahead into new territory instead of clinging to a vision of the past that arguably never really existed.

That’s not to say bringing back old characters hasn’t worked. Let’s look at four examples of when the show’s revival has got this right.

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GUEST POST – Objectification in “Mona Lisa’s Revenge”

by Ricky Starr

 

The final worthwhile serial in the 2009 run of The Sarah Jane Adventures explores predominantly ideas about art, which is unsurprising, given that it is set almost entirely in an art gallery, and its antagonist (such as she is) is none other than the Mona Lisa, come to life. Perhaps more interestingly, it also examines objectification, primarily (though not exclusively) of women, and sexual politics more generally.

The most obvious starting point in regard to this is Lionel Harding, the curator of the International Museum and a general misogynist. His behaviour is deeply problematic, and he is called out for it at every stage in the episode, as the main perpetrator of direct objectification and sexist behaviour. Prior to the events of the episode, it is revealed that, noticed by the Mona Lisa, he would be prone to staring at her for an unduly long period of time (here quantified as twenty seconds, but the number is simply an analogue for the penetration of a gaze which is disrespectful to the point of objectification). He refused to view the Mona Lisa on her own terms (represented at this point by the rules of the Louvre, but again, it works as an analogue), instead looking at her as an object, whilst refusing to consider that she could be a person on her own terms, with thoughts of her own on the matter of the male gaze. Having been treated as an exhibit rather than a person, it is no wonder that Mona Lisa is interested in “revenge”.

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GUEST POST – “Daleks in Manhattan”: the Depression & the American Dream

by Ricky Starr

 

[Please note: This article is an exploration of Daleks in Manhattan, the 2007 television episode of Doctor Who written by Helen Raynor, in isolation from its immediate follow-up, Evolution of the Daleks. This is for the reason that, although the two episodes ostensibly form a single story, it is the view of the essayist that the ideas explored in the former, and examined in this essay, are not satisfactorily followed through or reconciled in the latter. The second episode will, however, be referred to when it appears pertinent.]

In Evolution of the Daleks, Tallulah looks out at New York, from the top of the Empire State Building, and remarks, “New York City. If aliens had to come to Earth, no wonder they came here”. Of course, she has, in remarking this, missed the point of the preceding episode, but it is an apt illustration of an idea that can be referred nowadays as the “American Dream”: the idea of a glittering paradise where anybody can be successful and achieve mighty things in a personal sense. (The term itself did not become widespread in its use until 1931, the year after this episode was set, but the concept was already a well-known one, and was extremely pertinent to ideas of a prosperous America.)

Yet the American Dream is flawed, much like Tallulah’s outlook in this quotation. She looks upon the Dream, and thinks it good, because anyone can be successful; she fails to see the opposite side of it, which is that it inevitably breeds failure, exploitation and sorrow for others. It allows anyone to be successful, but not everyone. The same is true of the illusion of New York itself: mighty towering spires and monuments to freedom, liberty and the like, hiding the truth, the Hooverville and its desolation, in the centre. This paradox is one that Daleks in Manhattan plays upon extensively and creatively (and which Evolution of the Daleks, like Tallulah, then fails to pick up on- but I digress).

 

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