For some reason I decided to watch the TV Movie - mainly as I reckon I'd not seen it this century. Like all ming-mongs do, I decided to go back and watch it, well, because it's Doctor Who.
Obviously I didn't watch it without listlessly browsing the internet at the same time, so I live tweeted it. I got a bit of feedback form Hellyer, so there's the occasional bit of interplay.
However, it's mainly what I thought of it - what occurred to me at any given time during the 90-odd minutes of running time.
How does it hold up? Well, very very badly is the answer. Praise the Lord that there wasn't a resulting series, because if you've seen the calvacade of dross produced by various writers employed by Philip Segal it will have you running into the arms of Chris Chibnall.
Incidentally, Philip Segal's role is an interesting one to ponder at this time. Even though some of instincts were correct and others woefully off-kilter thanks to years - at a guess - of working on dross like SeaQuest DSV, it's fairly clear that he was pretty much the only one looking out for Doctor Who and believing in the series in those wilderness years. I'd buy him a beer.
What works? Well, McGann has some good moments, as does Eric Roberts. Geoffrey Sax has some deft touches too and Mathew Jacobs manages to salvage a few nice lines from the group-thunk nonsense that was left after the BBC, Amblin, Fox, Universal, ABC, NBC, WWE, WCW, NASA, BNFL, ITV and Gary Frigging Russell had their way with it.
Overall, however, I think Daphne Ashbrook does best in the TVM. No doubt Big Finish will be commissioning a 400-disc box set written, produced, scored, directed and staring Barnaby Edwards and Nick Briggs soon. And I might even listen to one or two.
Caves and Twins - the TVM
I'm watching the TV Movie. What can possibly go wrong? It's a request my brother should never have granted.
THAT MUSIC'S FUCKING AWFUL #TVM
Who sniffs a Jelly Baby before eating it? And with a cup of tea?
The bit where Sylv is frantically pushing TARDIS buttons console is so good it made up most of the TV trails for the TVM. And little else
Ah, a gun fight between San Francisco triads. If that doesn't scream 'Doctor Who' I don't know what does
Why - apart form idiotic exposition and 'injured' acting would the Doctor be saying 'timing malfunction to a hoodlum he's only just met?
That's a lovely introduction for Grace, though. Wonderful cleavage too.
'I need a beryllium atomic clock!' Uh-huh. I know this is inviting scoff, but Sylv is absolutely terrible in this. Is he even acting?
That scream is pretty amusing though. All Docs should do that just before they regenerate. #tvm
Surely Bruce the ambulance driver should have been called Seth Terma or something? #tvm
Will Sasso being a comedy fattie. Actually bits of this are OK. Oh, Frankenstein - is there a really subtle metaphor I've missed here? #tvm
Walking down the corridor humming Puccini is nice - and the mirrors in the old wing of the hospital. But Who Am Argh! is crap #tvm
Lee going through the Doc's belongings is nice. And someone is going to a fancy dress party as Tom Baker? #tvm
Great murder by The Master. They should have played is Dudley Simpson leitmotif though #tvm
Ah, the American health system. Evil through and through. This would never happen under Obamacare #tvm
@james_hellyer [Eric Roberts] gets it in the same way that Graham Crowden and Paul Darrow did
I really hate the thing about the Doctor knowing everyone's future and/or their deepest desires. He just comes across as a sex pest #tvm
And now it looks like he's trying to take his trousers off in the back of Grace's car #tvm
Grace Holloway drives a Range Rover. And Bruce owns a pair of aviators and a massive leather trench coat #tvm
The nurse doesn't see anything odd about Bruce peeling off his finger nail and flicking it onto her work? Ridiculous #tvm
I also hate it that the Doctor goes around moodying famous figures from history, like some desperate time-travelling starfucker #tvm
Murray Gold must have been taking notes when watching this. Bad 'magical' Hollywood-lite music #tvm
McGann's really short. #tvm
I really dislike that 'these shoes fit perfectly' stuff. It just comes across as try-hard kookiness. #tvm
Why would Lee be bothered about who Genghis Khan was? Or this weird backstory The Master concocts? Didn't he just threaten to kill him? #tvm
Well, at least the cloister room doesn't have a fucking pterodactyl or vortisaur in it #tvm
Oh dear, the plot's kicking in. Things are about to take a turn for the worst. #tvm
So, TARDISes are designed to open their power source when a human eye looks into a blinding beam of light hidden beneath a staff? #tvm
How long was the Doc kissing Grace for? Why did he remember who he was or know the Master's plans? ACK! The crippling exposition! #tvm
The Doctor drinks tea. BECAUSE HE"S BRITISH. #tvm
Midnight huh? Neat dramatic coincidence. 'By 4.37pm next Friday this planet will be pulled inside out' #tvm
'...always seeing patterns in things that aren't there'. The Eighth Doctor is obviously a climate-change denier with that comment #tvm
Eric Roberts is great in that bit I'll give him that. The transference line and 'I don't like it!' - Ainley would've done it better tho #tvm
All of the bike cop bit is quite well done by all concerned too. "He's British" explains everything. #tvm
I prefer the ambulance chase in Spearhead From Space. And the bit where the Doc is strapped to a table in Mark of the Rani #tvm
I finally meet the right guy and he's from another planet? Where on Earth did that come from? Apart from a different draft. #tvm
The constant supply of coincidences is surely a record - the clock; the guest list, the ambulance - even in Doctor Who #tvm
They tell cock jokes on Gallifrey? Quite a good line though. That professor dude looks like a paedophile #tvm
The Master has jizzed on those security guards? 'Liven things up' is another Doctorish thing though. #tvm
Phew. It's one of those 'slow release' fire hoses. Thanks God for that. #tvm
The universe hangs by such a delicate thread of coincidences. That's a stroke of fucking luck, eh Doc? #tvm
That's a really crapulous Scooby Doo bit of throwaway, desperate attempted humour. The pseudoscience bit quite good tho #thebikebit #tvm
'are you any good at setting alarm clocks?' Eh? Scary black-eyed Grace is good though. #tvm
Yes, I can't see anything wrong with buddying up with this green-eyed, possessing, sadomasochistic pervert #tvm
Bit of a design flaw, that. #onlyhumanscanopengallifreyantimecapsules #tvm
There's some nice directorial touches here by Geoffrey 'Tenor' Sax in the back-and-forth between the Master and Doctor #tvm
Lucky Grace know how's to rewire a time machine #tvm
McGann sounds a bit like Colin Baker there. Wouldn't it have been fun if he'd been recast? #tvm
It would've been great if Pertwee / Delgado or Davison / Ainley had had a punch-up #tvm
[replying to Hellyer's observation that the Doctor doesn't try too hard to rescue the Master form the Eye of Harmony] Yeah, his hearts aren't in that. At least he doesn't cry like Captain Emo #tvm
Be great if the TARDIS brought back the Master as well. Big fat reset switch. Better get used to it. #tvm
That punch of the TARDIS console is McGann's best moment #tvm
The music swell, the fireworks, the kiss. I expect it rankles because I'm a sad fanboy who's never had sex, rather than it being shit. #tvm
Oh no, not again. Well, quite. Chances are I'll never watch that again. #tvm
If you ever wondered what it would look like if the Seventh Doctor machine-gunned Romana I to death, then look no further.
This is from a film called Three Kinds of Heat, which featured Sylvester McCoy and Mary Tamm. Judging by this short clip it's surely the worst film ever made.
The Airzone Solution was, if you were a Who-starved fan in the early 90s, probably the most exciting thing that happened in fandom since that leotard picture of Nicola Bryant emerged.
Featuring four ex-Doctors and a host of other Doctor Who talents it's fairly explicitly a rip-off of Edge of Darkness down to its plot, themes and even incidental music. The pre-occupations of the narrative are easily identifiable from the period, namely environmental collapse and corporate/governmental conspiracies.
Peter Davison plays investigative journalist Al Dunbar; Colin Baker is star weatherman Arnie Davies; Sylvester McCoy is nervous eco-warrior Anthony Stanwick; and Jon Pertwee plays journalistic legend Oliver Trethewey.
It is rather peculiar mix and it's hard to imagine anyone who's not a fan taking a huge interest. Nevertheless there's a lot of good stuff here. Colin Baker is particularly good in another opportunity to show how good he can be and the other leads are solid and throw themselves into it; Nicola Bryant is a million miles away from whingey Peri.
There's a nice cameo from Michael Wisher and a very good turn from Alan Cumming as Mandelsonian spook. Look out too, if you dare, for a sex scene between Nicola and Colin; one of the worst bits of acting ever from Gary Russell; and Bill Baggs managing to assemble four Doctors together on the programme's 30th anniversary – something the BBC notoriously failed to do to any real extent.
The music by Alistair Lock and some directorial flourishes from Baggs also catch the eye but unfortunately the production is undermined by some of the amateurish moments in the script, plot, direction and general production. There are no howlers but the overall impression is of something decidedly fannish.
Further, the production values don't stand up at all. The sound is particularly poor; the lighting, while better, doesn't always look right either and the quality of the picture typical of early 90s videotaped dramas.
Nevertheless, with the prospect of new Doctor Who as remote as ever – this being a time when it seemed Who might be gone for good – the Airzone Solution was a welcome addition to a Who-less world.
I suspect that BBV – Baggs' production company – envisaged potential sales to an ITV franchise, or a commission to base similar series with a larger budget, but it never came to pass.
Still, these are fascinating curios from Doctor Who's dark days. The BBC offered up the risible Dimensions In Time in 1993 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of what is now its flagship show. Idiots.
Watch it here:
Devoid of any new Who, I've turned back to my DVD collection to revisit the classic series - where my heart will always lie, no matter how much I've been enjoying Matt Smith in the latest series.
Following a discussion on Outpost Gallifrey, and seeing Ian Hogg in Antony and Cleopatra at the theatre, I've been meaning to revisit it.
Set-up's roughly the same - the good bits and the bad bits, but after 20 years of watching I've fleshed this one out a little more.
Script - the dialogue absolutely sings, although a superb ensemble cast no doubt help enormously. From McCoy and Aldred's wonderful 'universe of terrors' scene; to Control's frightening 'there's a new scent in the to the dark'; and numerous asides afforded to the Doctor and Josiah, there's plenty to enjoy. 'Damn tsetse flies!'; 'The cream of Scotland Yard!'; 'Beatles... and bluebottles'; 'I must change!'; 'she had a bone through her nose and ate her cousin for breakfast'. It's heady stuff, but it's as deep and weird as Doctor Who ever gets.
McCoy and Aldred - Given some wonderful scenes the two leads give their best performances. The best duo until Smith and Gillan.
Best haunted house ever - Gabriel Chase's fecund horrors are creepy and disturbing. It's no surprise the German DVD release is called The House of a Thousand Frights. Light dismembers a mad, turns MacKenzie into soup and Josiah turns Reverend Mathews into a chimp. The stuffed animals, husks, maids in the wall, a lift to something nasty in the cellar - every corner of the house seems to throb with terrors.
Cast - Ian Hogg, Carl Forgione, Sylvia Syms and Michael Cochrane are particularly wonderful - making the most of some meaty roles.
That's the way to the zoo - Perhaps the best use of music in Doctor Who
Plot - I've watched Ghost Light a dozen times and it still doesn't make any sense. The deleted scenes suggest there was a lot more to it that would have explained a little more, but not a huge amount more.
Light - A ridiculous character played quite poorly by John Hallam, an excellent actor.
Visuals - The picture quality is absolutely abysmal, far worse than any other VT stuff from the era.
Music - Mark Ayres is generally very good, but his overpowering score is distracting and actually obscures much of the dialogue. Murray Gold must've been paying attention.
White kids - Some of Ace's dialogue is utterly appalling, with the infamous 'white kids firebombed it' line the absolute nadir.
All told, Ghost Light still stands as the strangest Doctor Who story ever. Even intact, after a few necessary rewrites it would be totally bonkers.
That the televised story was missing a good ten minutes did not help, and really brings Andrew Cartmel's competence as a script editor into question.
There's far too much going on, about 50 per cent too many characters, a confused narrative and an unfortunate tendency towards teen angst am-dram; all problems that have to be laid at the script editor's door.
That said, another script editor may have - correctly - given it the red light at an early stage. That would be a shame, as Ghost Light is still one of the most fascinating pieces of television in the programme's original 26-year-run; and there's much more imagination than has been on show before or since.
It's significantly flawed, but there's a beguiling oddness to Ghost Light that is unimaginable in today's television, and probably was back in 1989.
Like Gabriel Chase, it's a fertile place with treats and horrors alike.
• Caves and Twins? What are you dribbling on about?
Go here: Caves and Twins
Sydney Newman wanted to turn Sylvester McCoy into a woman, the Torygraph 'revealed' today in a report on what a spot of archive research turned up while the extras for Time and the Rani were being shot.
Thing is, I'm 99 per cent sure all of the stuff in the newspaper's report was already well known. I remember reading all of this some time ago, in what I imagine was one of Andrew Pixley's comprehensive Archive pieces in DWM or possibly the Howe-Stammer-Walker 80's book. Either way I reckon it's a good 15 years since this research first came to light.
Newman, recognised as the person who can lay most claim to being the creator of Doctor Who (not Terry Nation or Vere Lorrimer!), was drafted in to reboot the series at the end of Colin Baker's tenure.
Unfortunately Newman's ideas for a rebooted series were utterly abysmal, consisting of a time-warp back to the early sixties where Patrick Troughton would be brought back in with a couple of children as companions; one of whom would brandish a trumpet whose sound would herald the start of battle.
The one thing I clearly recall is that Newman suggested that the new Doctor should say ‘Hush, child, you’re addlepating me!’ whenever the young companions were talking too much, or something.
One of the story outlines he details is a literal lift from Planet of the Giants too, while another suggestion involved the three regulars being shrunk and injected into a human body. Two ideas about 40 years past their sell-by-date.
This has always suggested to me that Newman scrawled down a load of old tat on the back of a fag packet during a boozy lunch – and if people thought the last three years of Who during its original run weren't that good, they would pale into insignificance if the car-crash television envisioned by Newman had come to pass.
The headline element to it all, of course, is the suggestion that the Doctor should be turned into a woman, something I've always thought of as a horrible, senseless gimmick that not even JN-T or RTD ever seriously considered.
The Telegraph article ends with a quote from some 'women in science' group who reckons - surprise, surprise - that the next Doctor should be a woman for some reason too tedious to explore any further.
I suppose this story has broken in the national press now because 2Entertain are trying to flog Time and the Rani; a desperate task by any standards. Ed Stradling was apparently 'astonished' by the contents of the Newman letter; something that must come as a surprise to Doctor Who fans.
Anyway, the release of Time and the Rani should give us time to reflect on all of this. I personally think that it's a story of totally unremitting dross, with literally nothing to redeem it.
It's become fashionable to call Pip and Jane Baker's nadir (I know, I know!) things like 'wonderful and silly' and 'lovely and fluffy' by people who should know better. It's utter shit and hails from a period when Who was almost totally lost.
For my money it got somewhere near back to its best over the next two seasons - with some obvious exceptions - and it's a huge relief that we got stuff like Ghost Light, Remebrance, Fenric and Survival instead of Newman's addlepated vision.
Good old Syd. We have a lot to be grateful for. But, by God, a rebooted Newman series in 1987 may well have killed off Who for good.
Oddly enough, there's a party political broadcast floating about the web at the moment starring Sean Pertwee - son of Jon, who was a big mate of Jim Callaghan - and boasting a voiceover by none other than David Tennant.
As if to underscore the Who connection, Pertwee even quotes his father:
My father always said "Don't give up."
"Show resolve," he said. He was so right.
Pertwee is presenting a fairly unsubtle metaphor in this election broadcast for Labour, but it's a polished, and gently powerful message in a good-looking broadcast that brings to mind Hugh Hudson's films for Labour in 1987.
There's been something of an explosion in Doctorly support for Labour recently, with Peter Davison stating that he 'tremble[s]' at the idea of a Tory government; David Tennant calling David Cameron 'terrifying'; and Steven Moffat claiming 'stuff would be s**t' under the Tories.
There's also some recent stuff about The Beast Below containing an anti-Tory message; RTD has made his anti-Conservative feelings known on several occasions; and Andrew Cartmel and Sylvester McCoy recently suggested that their era was anti-Thatcher. And don't forget the left-wing Dalek.
For his part, Gordon Brown says Tennant is favourite Doctor (well, it was going to be either him or McCoy wasn't it?).
Extraordinary stuff. Of course, actors and creatives naturally lean to the Left, and if Doctor Who isn't a show that revels in left-wing, or at least liberal, ethics then I don't know what does. There's a long-running debate as to whether there are any Tory Doctors, with the Third mentioned most frequently, though this has always struck me as unlikely.
The Doctor Who Forum's politics thread currently shows a heavy bias against the Conservatives in a poll on likely voting behaviour of those on the board, which poses some rather chicken-and-egg kind of questions.
What would The Doctor make of it all? It's tempting to imagine Hartnell, wildly off-script and taking advantage of time constraints in 1964 urging 'all of you at home' to vote for the pipe-smoking chap. Then again, with Billy's habit of fluffing names, he'd probably end up backing Herman Walton.
Sean Pertwee and David Tennant in The Road Ahead
Nice clip from Vampires of Venice, as shown of Jonathan Ross. Hartnell appears on a library card.
I'd've preferred it if it had been Colin or Sylv.
It was pretty refreshing to see the Eleventh Doctor punching some bloke's lights clean out on the new series trailer than showed back in January, following a few years of sanctimonious stuff from RTD and Ten about how 'violence is bad, m'kay?'.
So much so that it stirred my mind back to a simpler time when The Doctor would casually dispatch villains in a variety of ways, including blasting them with guns, pushing them into acid baths and gassing them with cyanide. The good old days, as I like to call them.
So, I've compiled a list of ten moments of shocking violence in Doctor Who - perpetrated by the Time Lord himself.
1. An Unearthly Child
The original and the best. The First Doctor is stopped by Ian, seconds before he stoves in the head of a wounded caveman with a rock.
2. The Dominators
The Second Doctor places a nuclear device on the Dominators' ship, blowing them out of the sky.
The Third Doctor smilingly explains to the Brigadier than the Venusian grip he has applied to Stahlman will soon paralyse him for life. Similar venusian chops, kicks and jabs pepper the Third Doctor's era.
4. Day of the Daleks
The Doctor casually blasts an approaching Ogron, blowing Ten's 'be the man who never would' speech out of the water.
5. The Brain of Morbius
The Fourth Doctor gasses Solon with cyanide, in a move that could easily have left him and Sarah sealed in a crypt forever.
6. The Seeds of Doom
Four punches out a henchman with a thinly-disguised relish. Later on he twists Scorby's neck, as if to break it, after punching him in the gut.
7. Arc of Infinity
The Fifth Doctor simply shoots Omega.
8. The Twin Dilemma
The Sixth Doctor tries to strangle Peri to death.
9. Vengeance on Varos
Take your pick. Doc Six maneuvers two guards into a BATH OF ACID and leaves two different booby traps involving stinging plants and a laser to kill two cannibals and a guard.
10. The Two Doctors
The Sixth Doctor chloroforms Shockeye to death.
I've got nothing on the rest, barring the Seventh Doctor's disabling of Patterson in Survival and the Ninth Doctor's knocking out a guard in the one where Rose turns into the Time Vortex, or whatever the hell it is that happens in that episode.
Have I missed any obvious ones? It wouldn't surprise me to discover that Hartnell stabbed someone in the neck in one of his less obvious stories.
Most Who fans may afford themselves a smile when they hear a name that probably means nothing to 99.9 per cent of people in the world, due to their unnatural fascination with the world's best TV series.
A Carey Blyton here, a Victor Pemberton there. The odd Dennis Spooner, Michael Craze, Mac Hulke (what a name to conjure with!) or Derek Martinus.
A Dorka Nieradzik, Chris D'Oyly-John or Dudley Simpson.
JNT, RTD, er, RML*.
And any fan out there worth his or her salt should be able to rattle off the names of all the Doctors and companions. I reckon I could do all the producers and script editors too, and a good amount of directors and composers.
I've had an argument with a bloke in the pub over the correct order of Doctors, and I've smiled smugly to myself at the look of angered bafflement on the faces of pub quiz competitors when stumped to name all seven (or eight, nine, ten, eleven or twelve - depending on how pernickety or ignorant of canon the quiz master is).
Jon Pertwee will always be my favourite Doctor, but it's not a name I'd care to share - striking me as a fairly unfortunate moniker.
It sounds like a school yard bully dream come true, and Pertwee would often regale audiences with tales of the many ways his name was mispronounced over the years. See Mr Jan Putrid for more.
The name didn't seem to bother Pert though, and if he suffered for it at school I don't suppose anyone really dared take the mick out of his name after he had at a school master with a stick - a wonderfully Doctorish story to my mind.
Anyway, such a person has come to light in an article on unlucky names on the BBC's website. He's called Jon Pertwee, which is fairly unlucky.
But just imagine being called Sylvester McCoy.
• From the Beeb:
My name is the same as the actor who played the third Doctor Who. Growing up wasn't so bad, I used to get called all sorts, but because Doctor Who was seen as "cool" the nicknames were always positive.
But when he moved on and became Worzel Gummidge, the school taunts became crueller. I was constantly asked if I had an Aunt Sally, asked by teachers if I had the stupid head on today etc.
In my 20s, people still recognised the name, and when the actor passed away, I got several phone calls to see if I was still alive.
Jon Pertwee, Sion, Switzerland
* Roger Murray-Leach
The Kandyman costume from the seventh Doctor Story The Happiness Patrol has sold for £1,920 at an auction of BBC costumes and props at Bonhams.
Recently in the news due to claims from Andrew Cartmel and Sylvester McCoy that the series at the time was a satire on the Thatcher government, The Happiness Patrol featured the homicidal Kandyman – originally conceived as a pasty-faced psycho but realised as a murderous Bertie Bassett - as part of a Thatcherite regime that persecuted people for being sad.
Bassetts did not see the funny side at the time, nor did most Doctor Who fans, but I always thought the costume and concept pretty effective.
Anyway, I suppose it's good that the costume ends up in the hands of someone who will look after it, rather than mouldering away in Television Centre.
Andrew Cartmel did not meet his reserve price.
Other items that went at the auction include:
• The stupid Torchwood Range Rover
• Two full-size Imperial Daleks from Remembrance of the Daleks raking in more than £35,000.
• The waitress costume worn by Kylie Minogue from Voyage of the Damned
• Tennant’s suit from the same episode
• Late 80s Cyberman costumes
• The London taxi used in The Runaway Bride
• The mask worn by Sharaz Jek in Caves of Androzani.
• A God of Ragnarok costume
• The bus conductor’s head from Greatest Show in the Galaxy
• Sarah Sutton’s original Nyssa costume
• A Marshman costume from Full Circle