Viewing posts tagged davison

300 Million Years Out Of Your Comfort Zone (Warriors of the Deep)

Gronda Gronda?
It’s January 5th, 1984. The Flying Pickets are at number one with “Only You,” with Paul McCartney’s “Pipes of Peace” knocking them off a week later as they manage one of the most impressive drops I’ve ever seen from a number one single, plunging down to ten. Billy Joel, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, Culture Club, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood all also chart, the latter with “Relax.” (Frankie Goes to Hollywood, it should be noted for Americans, were not a one hit wonder in the UK at all.)

In the month and change since The Five Doctors, Lynda Mann is murdered, though the newsy part of that came many years later when the murderer, Colin Pitchfork, became the first person in Britain to be convicted based on DNA evidence. An IRA car bomb exploded outside Harrods in the Christmas shopping center. And Pope John Paul II visited the man who attempted to assassinate him to forgive him. While during this story a hurricane-force storm kills six in Britain.

While on television. A commenter made the quite valid point that my entries on the Davison era have been markedly closer to the critical consensus than ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 28 (The Adventure Game)

I am not entirely convinced that I have, in the course of writing this blog, actually watched anything weirder than The Adventure Game. It is the sort of thing that, as one watches, one has the increasingly clear realization that nobody who has never seen this would ever believe me about what it’s like. The Adventure Game is really the first 1980s example of what we saw back with Children of the Stones - one of those pieces of television that sticks, deeply embedded, in the brain to later come out in a triumphantly cathartic conversation to the effect of “yes, yes, I remember that!”

The easiest way to describe The Adventure Game is that it’s what everybody who foolishly wants the Celestial Toymaker to come back should watch instead. It is, in effect, that story done right and as an ongoing series. In each episode a trio of celebrities from the B-list or below (possibly far below - I’m not actually sure everybody who appears on the show is actually a celebrity) are stuck on a fictitious alien planet and left to escape by playing odd real-life board games and solving puzzles. And, you know. Talking to angry ...

In The Great Days of Rassilon, Five Great Principles Were Laid Down (The Five Doctors)

In many ways, every single thing I could possibly say about this story is
encoded thematically within this image. All of which said, whose hand is
on waxwork Tom Baker's shoulder, exactly?
It’s November 23rd, 1983. Lionel Richie is at number one with “All Night Long (All Night),” as for one of only two times in Doctor Who we are forced to use the American charts, as this story actually aired two days earlier in the US than it did in the UK. This fact reflects the way in which Doctor Who, in the 1980s, was increasingly turning into a global export - a massive brand that raked in money for the BBC. This, of course, is not what you expect. In any other context global success would matter tremendously and would justify the show’s continued existence. But the BBC is beholden to different rules, as is appropriate given the nature of its funding. The license payers deserve not to be ignored in favor of Americans. And so far from being a reason to keep the show on the air, Nathan-Turner’s mad quest to chase American cult television fans at the expense of the license payers is ...

You Were Expecting Someone Else 9 (Longleat, Doctor Who Monthly, the Peter Davison Comics)

Longleat, by any measure, is an archeology project. Certainly I have nothing that could accurately be called a memory of it, having been one and not there. But grasping about for equivalencies proves oddly unsatisfying. It was a major convention in 1983, yes. In this regard, it was a known quantity. But analogy is terribly unhelpful here. To compare it to the 2012 “official convention” in Cardiff - an event I just escaped from a few hours ago at time of writing - is pointless. The Cardiff convention was a slickly professional affair and, more to the point, was executed by a BBC that had full mastery of the concept of fandom and its relationship with Doctor Who. Its slickness was in most regards cover for the real key fact, which is that it was an official convention in every sense of the word - a convention that actively promoted an official narrative of what the series was and how it was loved.

Longleat, by and large, was the opposite. If anything it marked the point where it became possible to talk about alternatives to the official narrative in a meaningful sense. But to understand this we need to move over and look ...

A Space Helmet For a Cow (The King's Demons)

At least someone stepped in and stopped Nathan-Turner
from his original plan of using Twiki.
It's March 15th, 1983. Bonnie Tyler remains at number one with "Total Eclipse of the Heart," with The Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" nipping at its heels, and the rest of the charts being a similar burst of pure and unadulterated 1980s of the sort that you really probably need to cut with some do-wop or something lest you risk an overdose. Also in music news is the debut of Michael Jackson's moonwalk dance two days prior to this story beginning transmission. In real news, Thatcher's government passes massive tax cuts. That's about all we've got.

Speaking of not having much, it is difficult to say anything about The Kings Demons, which stands as one of the most strikingly unambitious scripts of the Davison era. It was, admittedly, not supposed to be the season finale, so we can at least give it a break on those grounds and acknowledge that this is not another case of the foolishness that led to things like Time-Flight and The Twin Dilemma being used as finales. But it does represent the degree ...

He's Gay and She's an Alien (Enlightenment)

Yes. Total Eclipse of the Heart really was at number one
when this image was on television. And you thought
Doctor Who had lost touch with the zeitgeist.
It’s March 1st, 1983. Michael Jackson is at number one insisting that Billie Jean is not his lover. Lower in the charts are the Eurythmics (with “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” of course), Bananarama, Toto, and Tears for Fears. But for the purposes of this entry perhaps the most significant fact about the charts is Bonnie Tyler hitting number one in the second week of this story with “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” which is notable for several reasons, one of which is that it is one of the gayest songs ever written, so, you know. Thematically apropos, that.

In real news, there’s not a lot. The compact disc goes on sale in England sometime in March, so let’s give that to this story. The final episode of M*A*S*H aired between Terminus and this. Bob Hawke becomes Prime Minister of Australia, and the IBM PC/XT is released.

So on television we have Enlightenment. Which is a fantastic little story with one of the most ...

The Original Viking Settlers (Terminus)

A frame from the recording of the commentary track
this time.
It’s February 15th, 1983. Kajagoogoo are finally at the top of the charts, prancing about for both weeks of this story with one of the great pieces of 80s trash. Michael Jackson and Tears for Fears also chart, making this perhaps the single most 80s chart we’ve dealt with yet. Fitting, that.

News is relatively quiet. Some particularly bad fires in Victoria and South Australia, a multiple homicide in the robbery of the Wah Mee gambling club in Seattle, and the Environmental Protection Agency announces plans to completely and permanently evacuate Times Beach in Missouri due to an excessive amount of deadly poison in the soil.

While on television, Terminus. There was, in the drawer of VHS tapes that constituted the initial guiding principles of my Doctor Who fandom, a tape on which the words “Terminus” and Enlightenment” were written and crossed out. The tape now contained a track meet. This is one of several standing grievances between my parents and me, along with my not being allowed to trick or treat when I was a child and their failure to buy a life-size Dalek when they ...

And He's Just Wiped Them Out (Mawdryn Undead)

Red velvet lines the black box...
It’s February 1st, 1983. Men at Work are at number one with “Down Under,” remaining there all story. Kajagoogoo, U2, and Echo and the Bunnymen also chart, which starts to look like one of the best charts we’ve seen until you look a the second week when it’s Joe Cocker, Wham, and Fleetwood Mac charting. Bauhaus, however, are in the lower reaches of the chart, and a post-breakup rerelease series means that The Jam occupy fifteen spots of the top hundred. So that’s nice.

In real news, unemployment in the UK reaches its record peak. The Australian parliament is dissolved in preparation for elections. Klaus Barbie is actually charged with war crimes. And that’s about it, I’m afraid.

On to television, then. Mawdryn Undead is another one of those stories that I was unaware was controversial and not widely liked until well after I’d seen it, and where I am thus unable to quite dislodge the way in which I was initially taken by it. I quite liked this story on the VHS tape, and was gutted that the back two parts of the Black Guardian arc ...

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