Saturday 10th October: Back to School
Having finally been given the go ahead for students to come back to University, we launched into a new academic year with some appropriate episodes about academia, where friends old and new joined us in watching School Reunion, Human Nature and the Family of Blood. We had also planned to watch the Caretaker, but our introduction session went on for about an hour and we spent just as long arguing about how the Doctor was friends with Stalin, so we kinda ran out of time. I wish I could say that’s the worst thing they’ve done in Doctor Who, but we’ve seen Timeflight and we know it can get worse. Anyway, we managed to make it through a typical night without frightening some freshers off, who we’re pretty confident are going to return. It’s almost certain given that some of them listen to Big Finish and others make fancuts that are actually quite heart breaking. Not since David has this raw power been seen. With this, we may stand a chance of beating Oxford (if anyone can withstand another 7 hour long quiz)!
First up on our school themed night was School Reunion. This episode holds a special place in my heart, as it was the very first episode of Doctor Who I ever saw. As you can tell by the fact that I’m writing a review of it on an official Doctor Who society website, this episode hooked me on the show for life! It had everything 7-year old me could want: bat monsters, Uther Pendragon, a robot dog and of course, the incredible Sarah Jane Smith, who was so amazing in this episode, she was rightly given her own spin-off show (one slightly more successful than her last). As you surely know, this episode features the Doctor, Rose, best character Mickey Smith and Sarah Jane investigating a school that is secretly run by Krillitanes, bat-like aliens that take the aspects of races they conquer. This is not how evolution works at all, as a Lion doesn’t eat a Zebra and then gain stripes. That’s not evolution, that’s Kirby. Despite some dodgy CGI, this episode really holds up to me, with some beautiful scenes between the Doctor and Sarah Jane that hit you on an emotional level. David Tennant fangirls over Liz Sladen throughout the entire episode and gives us a convincing performance of the Doctor meeting his favourite companion (other than Frobisher of course. That’s for all you comic and Big Finish fans out there). K-9 and Mickey are also an incredible team I definitely want to see more of, although it probably won’t be allowed, as both have committed terrible acts involving explosives and are likely kept apart to keep the rest of us safe. A personal favourite of mine, School Reunion is a solid episode that contains the best of what Doctor Who has to offer: humour, over-acting villains screaming at CGI monsters, great speeches and of course, involving children in your plans to destroy government property.
Following that masterpiece, we decided to watch Human Nature and the Family of Blood, a two-parter that truly stands as one of the greatest episodes of Doctor Who to be adapted from a book that was definitely written whilst the author was on acid (See Dalek and Jubilee. I know Jubilee isn’t technically a book, but it is an audio book so there! I have to write this, because knowing my luck, someone will actually read this and call me out on it next week.). In this episode, the Doctor must escape the Family of Blood by becoming human and hiding out in an all boys school in 1913. Not sure what the reasoning for that was but hey it makes an interesting set for a battle scene. Martha must protect him, all whilst trying to stop him from falling in love and also having to cope with the many racists that populate the school. If it’s any consolation, most of those racists probably died in the war the year after, so all’s well that ends well. We’re also introduced to Tim Latimer, a 17 year old boy who looks about 5 and is played by that actor that you all know and recognise but couldn’t name with a gun to your head. I’m thinking its Thomas something, but I can’t really be bothered to find out. I don’t really have much to say about this one, as these episodes are absolutely outstanding. The monsters are terrifying and effective, the music is glorious (as always Murray Gold) and there are more emotional moments than you can shake a scarecrow at. Felt weird watching some of those scenes without them immediately being followed by Peter Capaldi telling you to subscribe, but I reckon they might change that in the Steelbook version. If you ever need proof of Doctor Who’s brilliance, watch this episode and then immediately watch Blink afterwards (seriously series 3 had so many gems. And also Daleks in Manhattan. We don’t mention that one).
Saturday 17th October: Greek Myths
Consider yourselves lucky reader, this week’s summary should be short, for I had other commitments that day and could not attend this week’s episode screening. As such, I have very little information about what happened that night and must piece together the events using Discord chat. From what I can see, it seems that everyone got into a giant argument about whether Paul McGann is a good Doctor and if Big Finish is actually canon. I’m kind of annoyed I missed this. Not because I could have contributed to it, but because it’s refreshing to not be arguing about Clara for once. As the editor of the official society website, I should probably be unbiased so as to not alienate anyone from either side. Emphasis on should. I mean come on, sure Paul McGann was only the Doctor on TV for a movie and a 50th Anniversary short, but have you seen that short? It’s incredible and upon watching it, I immediately considered writing to the BBC to beg them for a series with Paul McGann as the Doctor again. I mean the second he saunters in, he just captivates the audience and really reminds them that he is the Doctor. As for whether Big Finish should be canon. Eh, I’ve not heard that much. Best to ask David or Molly about that stuff. Or don’t if you want to avoid being sucked into an hour’s long conversation about why the audios are better than the TV series (just to be clear, they’re not). Other than that, nobody really talked about the episodes in the chat so I’ve got nothing to write about really. Honestly can’t remember enough about the Black Spot, the God Complex or Eye of the Gorgon. Just check out Tom’s email if you actually want to hear about them. They’re great emails, although we’re starting to make the same jokes, which proves my theory that the longer we’re in the society, the more we merge into one being that will have a brain like the Doctor’s in Nightmare in Silver. On one half of the brain is a strong love for Russell T. Davies and a hatred of Clara and Hell Bent. The other half of the brain opposes those ideas, but it’s wrong so the creature is locked in combat over the small part of the brain that will allow either side to fully control the Tom/Sam being. This centre is most likely filled with a love for Capaldi and Parks and Rec quotes. You could probably call this creature a hybrid, but the very mention of that word once more sends the creature into a self-destructive rage.
Wow, I really just let myself get carried away there. Sorry I waffled on with this crap, but that’s kinda what happens when I have nothing to talk about but still feel responsible for updating this website. Hopefully I’ll attend next week’s event, if only so I don’t appear quite so insane when I’m filling out this section again. Jesus I feel bad for whoever next gets picked to run this website and must trawl through my ramblings to work out what they actually need to do in this job. If they’re anything like me, then they’ll just do what they want really. No-one checks this, so who’s going to stop me?
Saturday 24th October: Captain Jack Harkness
Ah Captain Jack Harkness, what a guy! When he first appeared in Doctor Who, he stole our hearts immediately with his cheesy one-liners, over the top American accent and collection of tight-fitting white t-shirts. On paper, this character should be really shallow and way too overbearing, but then again, we hadn’t considered how John Barrowman would bring him to life and cement him as one of Doctor Who’s best companions. So what better way to celebrate our favourite omnisexual space-traveller (other than Lando Calrissian) than by watching some of his greatest episodes in Doctor Who and Torchwood? Other than making a blood sacrifice to our John Barrowman shrines, of course.
First on our list was The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances, two episodes everyone considers to be some of the finest Who around, but will never rewatch simply because it is also the most terrifying Who around. In pursuit of Journey’s Wheel in the Sky, the Doctor and Rose land in 1940’s London, where they quickly meet Jack, who charms Rose and impresses her by lighting up Big Ben (someone clearly didn’t understand the point of a blackout). Meanwhile, the Doctor gets to know Nancy, a young woman who fears the titular Empty Child, a gas-mask wearing zombie who roams the streets, calling for his Mummy. I don’t know why I described the Child there, its permanently seared into our brains as one of the single scariest creatures of all time. Personally, I blame the Cymbal Monkey for making him so creepy. Who on earth ever thought that toy would be a good idea? Proof that toy designers in the 1940’s had never interacted with a child and had clearly never been children themselves. I imagine they all just bud off the original toy designer, like yeast. This episode contains some of the most disconcerting horror scenes around, particularly with the gruesome infection and transformation sequences. It’s bad enough seeing Gaius turn into a zombie, but the soldier who has no idea what’s happening is bloody horrifying. I’m normally ok with horror monsters, but zombies absolutely terrify me. Thankfully, the new Pokemon DLC had come out, so I was able to distract myself for the most part (God bless you Gamefreak for keeping the nightmares at bay for a bit). The other truly horrifying part of this episode was the blatant homophobia in this episode, with Nancy threatening to out a gay man in 1940, and Rose being disgusted when the Doctor suggests Jack might show an interest in men. Jesus Rose get with the times! You were invented by Russell T. Davies for God’s sake! Not much I can joke about here, because this episode truly stands as one of the best episodes in Doctor Who’s history, with some outstanding dialogue (“Before the war I was a father and a grandfather. Now I am neither. But I am still a Doctor.” “Trust me, I know the feeling”) and an uplifting ending scene reminding everyone about the importance of family. It’s just like a Fast and Furious film. Except less cars and more zombies (unless Fast and Furious 9 has a Walking Dead crossover).
After we’d all calmed down and made sure our doors were locked and completely zombie proof, we moved onto an episode of Torchwood, aptly named Captain Jack Harkness. I’d love to be able to tell you what happened in this episode, but due to a combination of having never seen Torchwood and the fact we spent a solid hour loudly arguing over it, I have no clue what the hell happened in Captain Jack Harkness. However, because I’m desperately trying to avoid writing a report for my project, I’m now going to proceed to attempt to sum up what I think happened, without checking the wiki for anything. So, Jack and Tosh (I think) are investigating an old music hall when they hear old timey music. Fearing time ghosts or some other sex-crazed Torchwood villain, the two go in and end up stuck in 1941, where Old Man Jenkins is determined to get their photo. Whilst trying to avoid the many racists that populate this hall (unfortunately including Lol from Tracy Beaker. Come on, Mike taught you better than that!), the pair run into another man with a cheesy American accent who also happens to be called Captain Jack Harkness. Everyone then proceeds to drink ungodly amounts of scotch, swap a few depressing war stories and then make out in a tube station. From what I can tell, this seems to be normal for Torchwood. Meanwhile, in the present, Burn Gorman (who I assume has a name in this but whatever it is its nowhere near as cool as Burn Gorman), Ianto and Gwen (who’s Welsh if you couldn’t tell) attempt to use an equation to open the time rift and bring them back. I can only assume this is what they were trying to do, because all they ever did was scream “THE EQUATION” at each other in between depressing flashbacks about dead girlfriends. The episode ends with Jack and Jack sharing an emotional kiss and then our Jack heading back to the future, where Old Man Jenkins has something very special in store for them (spoilers, its a crap CGI demon). It’s a fun watch, but I recommend you actually listen to what’s happening rather than argue about the Butthole version of Cats (2019). That truly was a dark time for the society….
Saturday 31st October:
Halloween Into the TARDIS:
Good job everyone, we’ve gone back into lockdown! Virtual high-fives all round! In a completely unforeseen turn of events, the UK government’s latest series of balls-ups led to them forcing us into another month long lockdown, almost certainly prompting another rush on toilet roll from the idiots that caused this lockdown in the first place. We’re doing well as a country aren’t we? Anyway, to help people cope with being forced to stay inside (and not because we didn’t realise it was Halloween and forgot to plan an event around that), we screened several episodes set within the TARDIS, which proved that if ever you got the chance to travel with the Doctor, NEVER LEAVE THE CONSOLE ROOM UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. There is a lot of crazy shit in the TARDIS, and there are probably many dead bodies in there (almost certainly previous companions who got lost trying to find the toilets). Like the companions in these episodes, we too slowly descended into madness, learning terrifying truths about one another that will haunt us for the rest of our lives, or at least until next week, when someone says something even more controversial…
Up first was the only good episode of the night: The Doctor’s Wife. Here, Neil Gaiman took the reins and pitched an episode where the TARDIS is trapped inside a human body, and is also incredibly horny. It’s like an episode of Torchwood, except filmed in a depressing, burnt-out hellscape (although come to think of it, Wales is a bit like that anyway). In this episode, the Doctor receives some mail (no, not our favourite meme the Kerblam! man) and drags Amy and Rory to a pocket universe ruled by Michael Sheen, the super actor! Trapped in a possessed TARDIS, Amy and Rory fumble about in some bland copy-pasted corridors and constantly run off from each other, despite the fact that if they just held hands, they probably wouldn’t have experienced quite so many depressing visions involving some prosthetic old-age makeup that somehow looks worse than the one from Family of Blood (which was about 5 years before this episode aired). Meanwhile, the Doctor and Idris attempt to build their own TARDIS, all while trading as many innuendos as possible. After squashing a shiny Ood, the quartet defeats House M.D. and Idris coughs up the TARDIS energy (probably not best to watch this episode during a pandemic where coughing is one of the best methods of transmitting a virus. Oh well, at least we’re not in another lockdown!) which allows our trio to continue their adventures in an otherwise fairly crap series. While this episode is fun, we were a bit distracted at the time of watching as someone in the society revealed they have actually watched the Zygon porno and someone else decided to one up that by supporting Imperialism. Now I don’t know much about Imperialism, but based on the fact the Empire in Star Wars can also be called the Imperials, I’m guessing its a pretty bad thing to support. Everyone got so invested in this argument, that I genuinely didn’t hear a line in the episode until 15 minutes in. So yeah, good episode, but definitely better to watch on your own.
Unfortunately, things had quietened down a bit for our next episode, the much-disliked Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS. This episode featured the Doctor and (ugh) Clara fumbling around the TARDIS avoiding time zombies and trying to repair a broken family of scavengers (or space bin-men). So what’s so terrible about this episode I hear you cry? Well for starters, there’s Clara. Now I know this always starts an argument whenever we mention her, but in this episode, she’s really done dirty. She spends a lot of it screaming and running about frantically, constantly poking about the halls of Easter eggs that seem to litter the TARDIS (speaking of which, why is the telescope from Tooth and Claw in the middle of the TARDIS? How can it see the stars when its in the centre of a police box?) and then just kinda nags the Doctor whenever something goes wrong. Possibly the one moment of realism she has is when she is completely terrified by the Doctor towards the end, which is fair, because if you were in a collapsing time machine with a man asking you why he’s seen you die so many times, you would be a tiny bit worried about your safety. The other characters are just as bad, with two brothers gaslighting their other brother into believing he’s a robot so they can get some free labour. It’s pretty fucked up, but over the course of the episode, they learn the true meaning of brotherhood. Aww. Except that leads to them being burnt alive, melding together and forming a zombie abomination. So the lesson is don’t help your siblings? I guess? Yeah, again this episode is not the best but on the plus side, it does have a tree filled with glowing pods (which I am convinced are all just Slitheen eggs that have stared into the TARDIS console. There’s a lot of them, but being a Slitheen mass-murderer is very much on the cards for a friend of Stalin).
Last and most certainly least, we attempted to put on our own production of The Edge of Destruction, a First Doctor episode that we had no legal way of viewing for free. After the hour of “acting” we subjected ourselves to, it would probably have been better to just take some jail time or pay a fine for illegally watching it, rather than do what we actually did. Starring Felix as a French Doctor, Isaac as Ian who couldn’t pronounce anything correctly, Asta (I know there’s a little symbol on top of the A but I have no idea how to put it there, I’m so sorry) as Barbara and the only actor taking this seriously until she went Northern, Emilia as the Director and yours truly as Susan, your favourite gameshow host/knife enthusiast. To say this was a disaster is an understatement. It’s impossible to put into words the insanity that was The Edge of Destruction, but I’m sure my neighbours will find a way to do so when they complain to my landlord. As for the plot, who the hell knows? I think it was just a game of Among Us, where the ship has been sabotaged and the TARDIS crew has to find the imposter, all whilst acting incredibly sus. Thankfully for all of us, nobody recorded our awful attempt at acting, so hopefully, this escapade will be lost to time, like most of the First Doctor stories. I’m also safe in the knowledge that no-one will read this, so my involvement in this sacrilegious act will never be known, even though I’m confessing it now! Ha, who needs therapy when you have full control of a website and absolutely no one to read it?!
Saturday 7th November: Writer’s night:
Sooo…. It’s been a while. Turns out doing a full-time Master’s degree where you work 9 to 5 in a lab kinda takes up most of your time. I know, I’m just as surprised as you are dear readers (who I am proud to announced have doubled in number! (from 1 to 2 but hey technically the reader-base has increased by 100% so I’m taking that!)) But good news (or bad depending on what you make of my rants), I’m back and ready to fill you in on what wacky hijinks went down at the remainder of our Michaelmas term meetings. This week, we celebrated various British authors and playwrights who have shaped the evolution of multiple genres of literature, giving us some of the finest works of fiction ever written. They also have probably been cancelled by now due to some of their more… unsavoury views (looking at you Christie! And then there were none is one of the greatest murder mystery titles but somehow the first title included a racial slur? Come on man!) but hey, in a fictional show, you can portray them however you like, which in Doctor Who’s case, is as a slightly eccentric charmer who is perfectly fine with being caught up in supernatural shenanigans. Anyway, as you can see by the length of this intro, I’m back in my writing groove, so I’ll give you what you’ve all been waiting for: episode descriptions that shall prove that I am a far superior author to any of the ones mentioned below! Other than Tom of course. His emails are far superior to my entries and surpass them in terms of their sheer Dune-level volume. I mean, anything involving The Face of Boe/Ursula Paving slab theories have got to be better than the shit I’m writing here.
Alright, first up was a personal favourite of mine: The Unquiet Dead. The first televised Doctor Who episode written by Mark Gatiss (I can’t be bothered to fact check that but I know if I didn’t include the word televised someone in the next meeting would Um, actually me and destroy me with some bullshit Big Finish audio about singing puppet cyber-hamsters or something) and boy is it a doozy. In this episode, the Doctor and Rose team up with renowned author Charles Dickens to stop the refugee Gelth from coming to Earth and taking all of our hard-earned corpses. Huh, when it’s put like that it sounds very anti-immigrant but I refuse to talk about politics here (otherwise we could start another goddamn Imperialism argument. Way too many of those already). Mr Sneed struck me as a bit odd in this episode. Firstly, he’s way too ready to chloroform someone at a moment’s notice, and secondly he seems upsetting with the Gelth killing everyone, despite the fact he runs a funeral parlour. I mean, from his perspective, more corpses means more money, right? I may or may not understand what happens at funeral parlours. Anyway, the interactions between the Doctor and Charles Dickens are pretty sweet, but I’m upset that at no point does the Doctor tell Dickens that whilst his book is good, it’s really elevated by the inclusion of Kermit the Frog and Michael Caine (Just to be clear, the Muppets Christmas Carol is the single greatest Christmas film of all time and no, I will not be taking criticisms at this time). The episode culminates with a very, very unsafe ending where Dickens tries to choke everyone out and then blows up the parlour, I assume in an attempt to kill Christopher Eccleston after he witnessed Dickens littering. It’s a fun episode, and most importantly, we got some great trading cards out of it.
Next up we watched
Shakespeare in love The Shakespeare Code, Martha’s first adventure into the horrifying past of England. After killing a guy who tried to serenade one of them with Wonderwall on a lute (honestly, good move killing him), a trio of Carrionites (space witches) attempt to get Shakespeare to write the single greatest play of all time: Shrek the Musical. Once performed, it will summon the rest of their coven who will consume the Earth and probably force us all to watch Roald Dahl’s the Witches over and over again. To stop them, the Doctor and Martha will need to team up with William Shakespeare, one of histories finest playwrights and notoriously bad speller (that’s 100% accu-rat. That works better on Horrible Histories, I’ll admit). It’s a good episode, although the Doctor spends a bit too much of it moping about Rose and does say “Good ol’ J.K” which was fun at the time, but may not be appropriate given her more recent tweets. I’ve not got much more to say about this one, except for once I can actually give you an interesting fact: the witches’ house is actually Sarah Jane’s attic, just with a few cobwebs and spiders thrown over it! Yeah, don’t ever say I didn’t give you anything!
Last but not least, we ended our author’s night with The Unicorn and the Wasp, another extremely campy and silly episode, but pretty good fun overall. Another team up episode (who’d have thought?), this one sees the Doctor, Donna and Agatha Christie attempting to solve a murder and also stop a giant wasp from killing everyone. I’ll admit the wasp thing is a bit weird but it makes sense in the episode, trust me. Alright I’m not going to go over the plot of this episode, but I’ve only got two things to really talk about. The first is the hilarious and iconic poisoning scene, where the Doctor and Donna engage in the most high-stakes game of charades ever played. It’s outstanding and I’m pretty insulted that this wasn’t given any award, particularly for that Harvey Wallbanger line. The second thing I want to discuss is wasp sex. Yep you read that right, I want to devote the rest of this paragraph to talking about intercourse between a human woman and a wasp. No this is not some weird Bee movie thing, this is a major plot point of this episode. First off, how? I’ve worked with insects for a while and let me tell you, their genitals are weird. Like, incompatible with a human’s weird. Also, how was this baby born? Was it birthed as an egg? Was there a larval stage where the baby had a human head but a slug-like body? How awkward was puberty? Did the teenager seal himself in a pupa? Did he emerge immediately as a reverend? This probably wouldn’t affect me as much if I wasn’t doing a Master’s about flies, but hey. Alright, this was a weird entry. Just pretend I didn’t talk about human/insect sex and we can all go on with our lives. Then again, still not as weird as whatever relationship Elton and Ursula have in Love and Monsters.
Saturday 14th November: Doctor Who: The Movie:
Oh boy I’ve been looking forward to this one! We finally did it and watched the fabled Doctor Who: The Movie, a failed reboot that was too American for British audiences and too batshit crazy for American audiences. Obviously, we were very excited to see this for ourselves, but very few of us were actually prepared for what we were about to witness. This film is… well, erm… let’s say it takes an acquired taste to enjoy this film. The film begins with the Daleks executing the Master (for time crimes I guess?) and then handing over what’s left of his corpse to Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor, which I guess the Daleks are fine with? To indicate to newcomers that the Doctor is a time lord, the prop department fills the TARDIS with a million and one clocks and plays a song about time, whilst the Doctor reads a book about time. This scene immediately sets up the level of subtlety that will continue throughout the film. Anyway, after landing in San Francisco, the Doctor is riddled with bullets by a gang chasing terrible human being Chang Lee, who proceeds to go with him to the hospital and rob him. Seems like a bit of a hassle compared to just straight-up robbing him if you ask me. At the hospital, Grace Jones, professional surgeon and fan of cleavage windows proceeds to botch the Doctor’s operation and kills him. Unfortunately the movie continues once the Doctor regenerates into Paul McGann, who is determined to be the sole saving grace of this otherwise crap episode. After stumbling around the hospital, he utters/screams his iconic first words: “WHO? AM? IIIIIiiiiiIIIIIIIAIAIIaiaiaiaiIAIAIAIA?”. Roping Grace into his schemes, the Doctor races to her house to stop the Master from accessing the Eye of Harmony, which will turn all of the glass in the world into a shitty CGI effect! The Master meanwhile, has possessed the most prolific actor in the world, Eric Roberts and proceeds to turn this movie into the horniest movie ever. He begins the film as a white goo before he thrusts himself through Roberts’ mouth as a giant bulge. His wife (before she gets strangled) is weirdly into this whole Master thing (not kink-shaming here) and there is a lot of sexual tension between him and the Doctor (I mean, more than usual). Ok, after hypnotizing Chang Lee and spitting on Grace, the Master chases the Doctor and Grace, who proceed to steal an atomic beryllium clock for reasons unknown to anyone. Racing back to the TARDIS, they find the Master already there, “Drezzzzzed for the occasion” and ready to start his world-ending plan. Unfortunately, Chang Lee has had a change of heart and won’t do as he says. If only the Master had hypnosis powers! After killing Chang Lee, the Master proceeds to use Grace to bla, bla, bla Eye of Harmony crap and then tussles with the Doctor. Some bullshit happens and the Master gets sucked into the Eye, where he is cursed to only reprise his roll in Big Finish audios. The Doctor resurrects Grace and Chang Lee and proceeds to carry on his adventures in the new series that is sure to be commissioned after this movie! Sweet Lord this movie was hot garbage. It’s awful in so many ways and it’s really unfortunate that it sucked, because Paul McGann is pretty good in it. There’s literally only one good joke in it, which is ironic, because this movie is a joke (Boom, got ’em!). Thankfully we washed the bad taste of this movie out with the minisode Night of the Doctor, which is the polar opposite of this movie (in that it’s one of the best things ever produced for Doctor Who). If you ever want to know what Paul McGann is like as the Doctor, listen to the Big Finish audios. That’s right, I’m recommending Big Finish over watching this movie. Yep, this film is that terrible.
Saturday 21st November: Anniversary Quiz:
Ooh how do I do this one? Last year I wrote a whole separate page about the quiz because there was so much that happened I feared I may crash the main page if I added it there. I’m feeling pretty lazy at the moment so I’m just gonna do that later. Yeah sounds good to me. Besides, Emilia’s House of Ames deserves an entire page to itself. It was phenomenal and probably the most organised quiz we’ve ever put on. It was perfect for a lockdown quiz, and will probably continue to supply the society with questions for another 40 years. So yeah, click on the hyperlink below to see the page (once it’s up obviously. I’m not a time traveller, no matter how much I wish I could be, so you’ll have to be a bit patient and wait for me to put it up).
Saturday 28th November: Christmas specials
Ah Christmas, that joyous time when friends and family gather to reminisce over the past year and welcome in the new one. It’s been a tough year, but thankfully the UK government has promised that up to 3 households can meet up to celebrate Christmas day. How nice of them! I’m sure they won’t perform a sudden U-turn by introducing another tier, preventing a large proportion of the country from meeting anyone at all, throwing millions of Christmas plans into disarray and prompting another mass exodus across the country! God that would be wild! As you can tell by my tone, I’m not angry, just disappointed (although I completely understand why it had to be done. It’s just hard to break bad news to anyone so close to Christmas). Anyway, to maintain the illusion that I am writing this at the time we watched these episodes and not weeks later, let’s continue to pretend this is only a hypothetical scenario. God I wish 2020 had been a hypothetical scenario. Right, this week (ish) we watched two great Christmas specials: The Christmas Invasion, and The Husbands of River Song. These two episodes are some absolutely crackers (Get it? Christmas cracker? Ok yeah that was pretty lame) and a good pair of uplifting specials that definitely got us in the festive spirit. Even if they’re filled with a concerning amount of genocide.
Back in the classic era, there was no such thing as a Doctor Who Christmas special (I know, crazy right?). The closest any episode came to it was William Hartnell encouraging viewers to drink sherry amidst a tense Dalek chases scene, although this has (sadly?) been lost to time. But then a child was born unto us! Away in a manger in Swansea, Russell T Davies was born, and he would unite all people through his teachings. By this, I mean he would introduce us to the annual Doctor Who Christmas special, where nerds like you and me could annoy the family by forcing them to watch sci-fi on Christmas Day. Our first Xmas episode was The Christmas Invasion, which I’ll admit, I hadn’t actually watched up to this point (as I hadn’t even heard of Doctor Who when it aired). It’s not only the first DW Christmas episode, but it’s also the first full episode starring David Tennant as the Doctor! Admittedly, it’s not really a full episode as he spends half of it asleep, but hey, who really cares when the other actors are putting on such amazing performances? Camille Coduri in particular is a tour-de-force here, screaming at a Christmas tree and rattling off a list of food at a very tired Tennant Midnight style. Another outstanding performance is by the Sycorax leader, who seamlessly transitions between languages, all whilst hamming it up as an alien sorcerer. Effects wise, the tree holds up amazingly well and the Sycorax costumes are striking. Really annoyed they never appeared again (at least on screen. I know there’s a Big Finish with them but I can’t see the costumes in that can I?). It’s a phenomenal episode (despite the aforementioned genocide) and I’m kind of annoyed I didn’t see it first time around now, as it almost certainly would have gotten 6-year old me invested in Doctor Who. I mean, I didn’t have to wait long before I saw School Reunion, but hey. Anyway, great episode, fun villains and always good to see a sword fight where a hand gets cut off, it falls down a big pit and someone finds it years later (or only the lightsaber in the case of the Force Awakens).
Last entry for this term and it’s devoted to the masterpiece that is the Husbands of River Song, or as I like to call it: Taskmaster, Doctor Who edition. Wondering what has happened to his large automobile and where his beautiful wife has gone, the Doctor is forced to kidnap a talking head (please laugh) and evade a deadly robot with aforementioned beautiful wife River Song, only she doesn’t know he’s the Doctor. Cue hijinks and Greg Davies screaming at Big Alex Horne (aforementioned robot (I am really enjoying the word aforementioned today. It’s a bit of a lengthy beast but makes you sound pretty smart (unless you use it too many times))) in an episode that really has very little to do with Christmas. After the gritty and serious series 9, it was fun to have a nice light-hearted romp (without Clara) and follow along with a rather silly episode. Everyone looks like they’re having a great time though! Besides, that scene where the Doctor enters the TARDIS for ‘the first time’ is one of DW’s funniest scenes, letting us all get a glimpse into what it’s probably like when Capaldi steps onto set every day. I also feel the ending rather nicely wraps up the whole River Song arc, and gives us a tender moment between her and the Doctor that almost makes you forget that River was planning on selling a diamond to a bunch of cultists rather than return it to it’s rightful owners, an enslaved planet. Very British of you there River. Overall, a fun and cheerful Christmas episode that we probably should have appreciated more at the time (seeing as we didn’t have another series until about 2 years later).