Easter Term 2020
This page is unlikely to have any event summaries on it due to the fact that there is no Easter term this year. Thanks to a certain pandemic, we’re all self-isolating and the University has cancelled the next term, which means we won’t be able to hold events within Cambridge. No events means no rants from me, unless I get really bored and go insane during my quarantine and start ranting about other shows and things. You guys probably don’t want rants about Destiny or Steven Universe do you? Maybe I’ll rant about Doctor Who books I’ve got. Or you know, actually do the things our President has asked me to fix on this website. Yeah that might be a better option. Strong emphasis on might (email me if you actually enjoy my rants and I’ll unsuccessfully try to ask the high council to let me post other rants on here).
Depending on how bad the situation gets, we might try and find some kind of work-around and see if we can at least hold some sort of event during what should be our term, but now Emilia has left the council we’re unlikely to be able to organise anything or even keep the society running. I joke of course, this society will last until the End of Time and perhaps even go beyond that. At the end of the universe will be Ashildr and this society. If Ashildr is there, then I’ll be able to go on one final massive rant about how much of a letdown Hell Bent was, and will go into the void arguing with Tom one last time. That sounds like a good plan. Right sorry, I’ve just snapped out of my rambling stupor and realised I was meant to be saying something. Oh right, we’ll try and see if we can organise any sort of event this term, but for now, it seems we won’t be holding any events until next year.
If you’re reading this page during the pandemic, then I hope you’re well and are looking after yourself and those around you. It’s gonna be tough but as long as we support each other and don’t panic buy toilet roll, we should be alright. Remember to stay positive and most importantly hygienic! I’m sorry this last section feels a bit serious and sappy, but it’s a tough time at the moment and I just want to offer my support to you lovely readers. Hopefully you understand why we won’t be holding any events and won’t be too disheartened by this news. Thanks for reading this, and stay safe during this trying time.
Saturday 9th May: The Power of Three
Good news everyone! With the wonders of the internet we were capable of holding an online event! I know, shocking, right? Us successfully working a computer. We really are living in strange times aren’t we? Some of the tech-savvy people in this society (which if you’ve looked at this website you’ll know doesn’t include me) managed to set up a society Discord server, which allowed us to talk to each other and watch an episode at the same time. Naturally this started out with an incomprehensible mess of people screaming over each other and constantly dropping in and out of chat. After a whole 45 minutes we managed to finally sort out the crackly mics and got David under control, which allowed us to test our screen sharing ability with Pond life, a series of shorts featuring Mr and Mrs Pond at home. A comedic look into regular life without the Doctor, its only slightly derailed by the fact Amy and Rory accept an Ood slave from the Doctor and lean into the whole slavery thing with only the slightest complaint from Rory. Yeah different views on slavery might explain the whole divorce thing. Hmm. Best not to think too much about that.
Following this we watched The Power of Three, one of Chibnall’s strongest episodes (somehow) with quite possibly one of the worst resolutions in Who history (you know the one). After the sudden appearance of millions of cubes, the Doctor is forced to live on Earth for a while, experiencing the boredom that comes with quarantine. Eventually, the cubes activate, triggering cardiac arrests all over the globe. Only the Doctor, Amy and Rory can stop the Shakri, who plan to destroy the human race before they colonise the universe. So, those who remember this episode will know that its split into two parts. The first is an amazing episode featuring humour, heart and a healthy dose of mystery, and the second part is a complete joke that provided us with the society meme that is the Shakri. What were they? What’s their obsession with cubes? Why do they look like Palpatine in Rise of Skywalker? All of these questions and more were ignored for a lacklustre finale where the Doctor just kind of switches everyone’s hearts back on after about 10 minutes of them being dead. That kind of thing definitely won’t have any negative consequences on the brain and other major organs, no siree! Anyway, lets focus on the positives of this episode, namely Brian and Kate Stewart. Let’s face it, Brian walked so Graham could run. He’s such a wonderful character and yet we only had him for 2 episodes. Surely as showrunner Chibnall could bring him back? Come on man, we need Brian. The introduction of Kate Stewart was also amazing, with her new take on UNIT reinvigorating the organisation and bringing them into the 21st century. Without a doubt, she is one of the greatest recurring Moffat characters, and I don’t care if Brexit has shut down UNIT, she better be back in series 13 or I’m going to riot. At the time of writing I have to say that you absolutely should not riot, as that is an excellent way of spreading coronavirus (looking at you America). Overall, a great episode that gave us many laughs, although I’m not sure Chibnall intended for us to laugh at the Shakri so much.
Rounding off the evening, we watched PS, a Chibnall short featuring Brian that had us laughing and sobbing our eyes out. It was extremely touching, but as David pointed out, whoever drew the storyboards had no idea how human eyes worked, resulting in some very dodgy drawings. As weird as cry-laughing sounds over the phone, maybe we should be glad this scene was never filmed, or we might actually have just sobbed for the rest of the call.
So that was a summary of our first ever Doctor Who society Discord watch-along. Considering we’re fairly useless at most things, this went very well, and I’m excited for next week’s. If you want to join us next time, click on the link for our discord page in the social media section (provided I know how to do that). Oh and just to really sell our Discord server, we have Soldeed emojis. Trust me, they’re as great as they sound.
Saturday 16th May: New Earth & Gridlock
Well the lockdown is continuing and so are our virtual events! To help lighten the mood we decided to view two absolutely incredible 10th Doctor episodes, and what better ones to view than an episode about quarantine and another about lockdowns? Ah. Not exactly the distraction we were all hoping for. Oh well, technologically speaking the call seemed a lot smoother this time and we were all more or less synced up when watching the episodes. We’ve come a long way from our days of trying to connect laptops to dodgy CUSU computers. Anyway, on with the show (or because this is the past we’re talking about, on with what happened when we watched the show. Not quite as catchy that)!
First up on our New Earth adventures was, well, New Earth. The start of series 2 (aka, the Abzorbaloff series) kicks off with the Doctor and Rose visiting the Face of Boe in a hospital far in the future, but closer inspection reveals not only an old enemy, but a dark and deadly secret. I hadn’t seen this episode in ages and going into it, I remember it being just kinda ok, but my God this episode is surprisingly emotional and only slightly Jesus heavy towards the end. Starting with the negatives, lets look at the CGI. Yeah I know its 2006 but dear Lord you think they could have made the flying cars a bit less pixelated. It was like they’d just stuck some clip art images of flying cars and blown them up a hundred times. Apparently CGI has never been that good in DW and I assume it will continue never to be. What else was negative about this? Not much really, except maybe the dodgy Zoe Wanamaker impressions everyone was doing. Although tbf, the actors all looked like they having fun hamming it up a bit. Right let’s move onto the real meat of the episode. The prosthetic work was incredible, with the Sisters of Plentitude looking exactly how humanoid cats should look (this was 13 year before Cats (2019) came out. Christ, how we have fallen). The costume and make-up departments really went to town on this episode and honestly, they deserved a pay rise just for this. A brilliant part of this episode is when the Doctor realises Cassandra has possessed Rose, and rather than reacting with shock or horror, he just seems a bit disappointed. Probably annoyed that of all the villains Russell T could have brought back, he decided on the skin trampoline. Oh well, gave us a good laugh. Cassandra herself was amazing, with her death at the end hitting much harder than I remember it doing in 2006. That’s not the only emotional twist in this episode, as we learn that the plague clones the sisters are breeding down in the basement want nothing more than to simply touch another human. Awww. Shame it results in that person being infected with every single disease known to man. There’s a reason we keep 6ft apart. Overall, New Earth is an overlooked gem that is surprisingly touching, although not very good if you’re looking for an escape from our current quarantine.
Moving on, we viewed an episode that would surely lift our spirits: Gridlock. An episode involving the entire population of a planet hiding away in their homes to avoid a deadly plague aaaaand bugger that’s just life right now isn’t it? Oh well, we picked Gridlock at the last meeting and by society law we had to watch it. Some people (including esteemed author Una McCormack, absolutely lovely person) believe that Gridlock is the best episode in Russell T’s era, and honestly, they might be right. It’s inventive, funny and heartwarming, with an amazing score by Murray Gold (God bless that man). If you’ve not seen Gridlock (go and immediately rectify that!) then I’ll give you the low-down. The Doctor takes Martha to New Earth (somewhere he already took his ex. Yikes) but she’s kidnapped by a couple who want to ride the fast lane. In his pursuit, the Doctor learns that the cars on the motorway haven’t left it for 13 years, and that there’s a mystery surrounding the fast lane. Those who take it, mysteriously vanish, and it’s up to the Doctor to save Martha from the clutches of the Macra! Along the way, the Doctor meets a variety of colourful characters, all of whom got their own trading card despite having about a minute of screen time between them. We met Brannigan, played by Death in Paradise’s greatest detective Ardal O’Hanlon, who is the most Irish cat to ever Irish. We also met another adorable old couple, some nudists, a polite business man and some people who were just painted in red or white (I assume the costume people just gave up after a while). The Macra return for the first (and probably last) time in about 40 years and rather rightly, are relegated to just another snarling monster, as a greater villain is revealed: the deadly virus Bliss, which spread though the population above the ground after something you could get from a market turned into a deadly strain that GODAMMIT WHY DOES EVERYTHING MIRROR THIS PANDEMIC?! Anyway, the Face of Boe once again returns and imparts his dying wisdom on the Doctor, setting up one of DW’s greatest plot twists (it’s been 13 years and I still get thrown by that Yana twist). Thanks to Murray Gold, the emotional moments of this episode are blown up to epic proportions, wrenching tears even from the most stone-hearted of us in the society (WHY DID YOU LEAVE MURRAY?). The episode ends with the Doctor telling Martha about Gallifrey, with David Tennant giving it his all for that speech, almost making us forgive the Doctor for treating Martha like dirt. Almost. So, that was Gridlock, one of DW’s most underrated episodes that gave us a new sense of hope for the future. Shame this hope was immediately destroyed by Oxford the next day (more about that in the Varsity quiz section).
Saturday 23rd May: Alternate timelines
Rejoice Etheria, for my rant has come to you(Sorry, I’m a bit obsessed with She-ra at the moment). Anyways, another week, another git flaunting the lockdown rules. Only this time, it was one of the politicians who has been enforcing the rules. Bloody cheek of it. Makes you wish you could just go to some parallel universe/alternate timeline where quarantine doesn’t exist and you can just kick back and relax. So that’s what we did (Kinda. Obviously we can’t travel to alternate timelines. If we did, I wouldn’t be typing this. Instead, I’d be journeying through the multiverse to find alternate versions of me and prove that I am the ULTIMATE Keeper of the Matrix). This week we watched 3 modern stories about alternate timelines that proved that maybe we should be happy with what we’ve got, as other timelines just seem to end with people being eaten by giant CGI bat things.
First on our list was Father’s Day, Paul Cornell’s masterpiece that may truly be one of the greatest episodes of Doctor Who (not gonna say fight me cause this is a straight-up fact). The episode revolves around Rose’s attempt to save her Dad’s life, which inadvertently causes a paradox, unleashing the Reapers, beings that live outside of time and appear whenever a paradox occurs. Well kind of. I mean they only appear whenever a paradox occurs AND Paul Cornell is involved in the production. It’s a weird Venn diagram, with the Reapers placed into a very, very tiny overlap. Why is this? Who knows (probably something to do with different writers being allowed to tell their own paradox stories without being forced to write the reapers in, but that’s just a theory). Anyway, this episode sees the Doctor at his grumpiest, sulking about how Rose kinda, maybe, sort of cocked up time by saving her Dad. His temper tantrum is interrupted by the discovery of an empty TARDIS, which apart from the shock factor, makes sense to no-one. Racing back to Rose, he quickly rounds a wedding party into a Church (except for the Priest, who one Reaper really hated for some reason), where Rose proceeds to further screw with time by telling her Dad all about the future and by touching baby Rose. After the Doctor is eaten, it’s up to Pete Tyler to save the day, by sacrificing himself and restoring time to its rightful course. As I’m sure you can tell from the first few lines, I LOVE this episode. Its got so many beautiful moments, from Rose’s touching conversations with her Dad, to the speech the Doctor gives to the bride and groom about how important they are. The Reapers are of excellent design and the plot is tight and engaging. Once again, this week’s rant is going to be a Murray Gold appreciation post, as he once again knocks it out of the park with his score (although some of the incidental music is a bit weird). I’m not gonna apologise for that though, because Murray Gold is a legend and I will not rest until everyone realises that!
Right, onto Murray Gold’s next work of art. This time, his glorious soundtrack accompanied Turn Left, yet another of the greatest DW episodes of all time. On a holiday in the planet of China Town (henceforth this episode shall be known as Big Trouble in Big China), Donna is tricked into turning right at a pivotal moment in her life, leading to the death of the Doctor and untold chaos across Earth. With Rose’s help, Donna must correct this mistake and restore time to its correct course, no matter the cost. If you ever need proof of Russell T. Davies’ greatness, simply watch this episode. Everything here is perfection, particularly the writing and the acting on the parts of Catherine Tate and our lord and saviour Bernard Cribbins as the ultimate companion Wilf. I will personally fight anyone who dares to say that Wilf was not the perfect character, as he provides this episode with such emotion, that some of us in the society were moved to tears at THAT moment (you know the one). Donna also shows that she was the perfect companion to Tennant’s Doctor, as she singlehandedly shouts her way through the apocalypse and matures throughout the episode to the point where she sacrifices herself for the greater good by jumping in front of a car (Huh. That’s also how Father’s Day was resolved. Sensing a theme here). Jesus I really can’t think of any jokes for this episode. It’s just packed with such emotion and really demonstrates how amazing Doctor Who can be, emphasising the importance of community in times of adversity and the power one person can have. This episode is easily one of my favourite episodes, and just because I know this will piss Tom off, Rose is amazing as a companion-turned-Doctor figure and never comes across as annoying (unlike a certain companion). Not only is this episode great as a Doctor-lite spectacle, it also prepares us for the Endgame of Russell T’s cinematic universe, Journey’s end, which I still feel is a great series finale. Shame we had to keep to our theme of alternate timelines this week, but then again, I’ve got nothing better to do all day (except maybe exams but they don’t have a team up between Mickey, Sarah Jane and Captain Jack so you know, which one’s really worth investing time into?).