Viewing posts tagged davison

I. Oh.: The Doctors Revisited (Peter Davison)

The entire Doctors Revisited series takes a fundamental turn here, and largely not for the better. Where the Tom Baker episode merely brought in the actor who played the Doctor as one of its primary talking heads, here the show has access to essentially all of the major stars of the era. Where the first four episodes were basically anchored by two Scottish fanboys, here Davison, Strickson, Fielding, Sutton, and Waterhouse are the stars, with Tennant and Moffat contributing only choice insights.

For this specific instance, at least, it is to the program's detriment. The thing is, of course, that we know both Moffat and Tennant's opinions of the Davison era, since they each, in their own ways, expressed it in "Time Crash." Moffat, in particular, has been an outspoken defender of the Davison era for nearly twenty years now. There are hints of their impassioned defense of Davison throughout, but it's easy to wish they'd spent a little less time spoiling all the twists of Earthshock right before they showed it and a little more time fleshing out the initial claim that Davison brought "believability" to the part.

And yet it's equally worth noting ...

The Grinding Engines of the Universe (The Caves of Androzani)

Don't worry, Peri. It's just a Voord.
It’s March 8th, 1984. 99 Red Balloons continue to float along atop the charts, and will play out Peter Davison. Also in the top ten are Van Halen with “Jump” and Billy Joel with “An Innocent Man,” while lower in the charts are King Crimson and the Fraggle Rock theme, a trivia fact I included just to use the phrase “King Crimson and the Fraggle Rock theme.” Top albums are Into The Gap by The Thompson Twins and Human’s Lib by Howard Jones.

In the news, Gerry Adams and three other Sinn Féin members are injured in an attack by the Ulster Volunteer Force, and the other William F. Buckley is kidnapped in Beirut. But the real news and, in many ways, most crucial backdrop for this story comes with the start of the miner’s strike.

It is difficult to come up with a better illustration of the idea of a “clusterfuck” than the 1984-85 miner’s strike. As a pragmatic issue, the strike consisted of Thatcher’s government running rings around the National Union of Miners so as to humiliate them and break the back of what ...

Time Can Be Rewritten 21 (Warmonger)

Given that none of the BBC Books novels featuring Davison’s Doctor are particularly beloved, the pick of a novel was always going to be one of the two golden turkeys - this or Gary Russell’s Divided Loyalties. I picked this for two reasons. First, Divided Loyalties was a Season 19 book and having just come off of a host of non-televised entries at the end of the Tom Baker era I didn’t want to do two novels in Season 19. And I was pretty firmly committed to Cold Fusion. But the second is that Divided Loyalties received mostly scathing and truly outraged reviews on the Doctor Who Ratings Guide, whereas nearly every review of Warmonger consists of several paragraphs of admitting that the novel is unfathomably awful before the author sheepishly confesses that they loved it. (Of course, several of those exist for Divided Loyalties, and more than a few outright pans of Warmonger exist as well)

For those who have never heard of this... interesting book, allow me to provide a basic plot summary. Peri inadvertently gets her arm ripped off by a pterodactyl, so the Doctor rushes her to a pre-Brain of Morbius Karn in the ...

Burn With Me (Planet of Fire)

See, Peri? Kamelion, lying there in the sun. He can change
shapes, you know, and be all things and everyone. Now
run, Peri. Run, run away.
It’s February 23rd, 1984. Frankie Goes to Hollywood is still at number one, but they’re finally unseated by Nena’s “99 Red Balloons.” Lower in the charts is equally satisfying - Rockwell’s beautiful bit of paranoia “Somebody’s Watching Me” and Slade’s “Run Runaway” chart, though to be fair, the latter is far better when Great Big Sea does it as an overly fast paced fiddle orgy. Also, The Smiths have their first full-length album out, and it debuts at #2. In real news, the US pulls out of Beirut, Pierre Trudeau retires as Prime Minister of Canada, and, four days after this story wraps, the miner’s strike to end all miner’s strikes begins.

While on television, Planet of Fire. Peter Grimwade is nobody’s favorite writer of the Davison era, and Planet of Fire is nobody’s favorite story of the era. Neither of these judgments is necessarily unfair - I think you’d have a hard time arguing Grimwade as superior to any of Holmes, Bidmead,  or Bailey ...

Time Can Be Rewritten 20 (Time Crash)

Convention, apparently, is to place these things in the midst of the end of Frontios while the Doctor is depositing the Gravis, a convention seemingly begun by Paul Magrs’ Excelcis Dawns. Magrs, of course, in typical fashion introduces far more continuity problems than he solves doing this, given that Tegan is on the TARDIS at the time, and anyway, I forgot to write this entry instead of Resurrection of the Daleks at the end of my last stretch of doing this blog, so we’re doing it here.

This also, of course, marks the first time I have to deal overtly with the new series instead of in passing reference. So time to obliterate all notion that I can stitch together some sort of consensus about the series and just start pissing off large sections of fandom, I suppose. I won’t bother playing about - as I’ve said before, anyone expecting the blog to turn sour on the new series is going to be sorely disappointed. Even when I agree with those who criticize it - and I’ll grant that there are deep flaws in the Davies era and fault lines that could turn into deep flaws in the ...

Little Green Blobs in Bonded Polycarbite Armour (Resurrection of the Daleks)

Of all of the silly set design elements of the Nathan-Turner
years, the tendency to make surfaces more "spacey" by
covering them in bubble wrap is, in fact, my favorite.
It’s February 8th, 1984. Frankie continues to relax in Hollywood, with Queen lurking just below. Duran Duran and The Eurythmics also chart, and The Smiths have one of their biggest hits during their actual career with “What Difference Does it Make” just barely missing the top ten and peaking at #12. But perhaps most significant is Madonna making her chart debut with “Holiday,” which peaks at #6.

The Winter Olympics run through this story, necessitating the merging of episodes into two 45-minute episodes, an experiment that becomes the norm in the next season. Konstantin Chernenko becomes the head of the Soviet Union.

While on television, Davison gets his obligatory Dalek story. There is no such thing as a great era of Doctor Who that has ended without a great Dalek story. The Pertwee era’s inability to quite stick the landing on any of its Dalek stories is emblematic of the nagging doubts plaguing that era. The fact that the Williams era went to pieces on its Dalek story ...

The Ground's Attacking Us (Frontios)

The skies of November turn gloomy.
It’s January 26th, 1984. Frankie Goes to Hollywood finally get around to being at number one, and stays there all story. By the end of it, Cyndi Lauper has made it to right below them with “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” with The Eurythmics, Queen, and Echo & The Bunnymen also charting, the latter with the sublimely good “The Killing Moon.” So the pop charts have gone and restored order, which is often a good sign for what’s on television.

The news, on the other hand, is wholly mediocre. The big one is that the Winter Olympics kick off the day after this story airs its final installment, but that has relevance for the next story, not really this one. Nissan announces plans to open a plant in Great Britain, which will be the first time that non-British cars will be built in the UK. The first embryo transfer resulting in a live birth is announced? An untethered space walk? It’s not thrilling news.

It is, however, thrilling television, as we’ve got Frontios on tap, and as it happens, Frontios is quite good. Perhaps the easiest thing to say ...

Tea From An Urn (The Awakening)

Don't make me crumble menacingly at you.
It’s January 19th, 1984. Paul McCartney is still at number one with “Pipes of Peace,” with Frankie Goes to Hollywood now up to number two. The lower reaches of the charts are basically as described last time, so let’s go even lower and see if there’s anything interesting. The Police have “King of Pain” near its peak, which isn’t nearly as high as you’d expect for that song. The Smiths are in with “This Charming Man.” There. That’s worth noting. Ooh, and on the album charts the first volume of Now That’s What I Call Music! is at number one. So there’s a symbol of the death of culture and hope. In real news, though it’s between this story and the next, we may as well give this one credit for the Apple Macintosh being introduced, just because otherwise I’d have absolutely nothing to talk about before I moved on to Doctor Who.

So here is something that I didn’t realize how much I’d missed writing about until I sat down for this entry: a thoroughly underrated gem. Not one ...

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