Viewing posts tagged davison

Time Can Be Rewritten 19 (Goth Opera)

The July 1994 launch of the Virgin Missing Adventures line was a strange moment in Doctor Who history. It’s not as though it was the beginning of adding in extra adventures for past Doctors - that was in 1973. But there was an odd dissonance to the basic idea of it. The Virgin books were certainly not exclusively experimental works that tried to push the limits of what Doctor Who could do, but they were certainly well enough known for it. And so the turn towards the Missing Adventures was, for the most part, a bit strange and uncertain. This level of actively rewriting the past had never really been tried before, and to have it done by a company with as much of a reputation for the avant-garde as Virgin seemed pregnant with possibilities, both good and bad.

In practice it rapidly became clear that the Missing Adventures, at least to start, were Virgin’s attempt to better appeal to the so-called “trad” audience who were left cold by their more adventurous New Adventures line. (Or, as Paul Cornell put it in an interview from his “hilariously bitchy” days, to write for the line “you had to abandon any ...

The Void Beyond The Mind (Snakedance)

"I'm sorry, Ms. Jovanka, but the passengers have been
complaining that instead of directing them to the toilets
you send them to a chamber occupied by a horrifying snake
god. We're going to have to let you go."
It’s January 18, 1983. You can’t hurry Phil Collins off the number one spot, but given time Men at Work dispatch him, replacing him with “Down Under.” The lower portions of the charts are somewhat more optimistic, with Madness’s “Our House” and Kajagoogoo’s “Too Shy” both appearing. OK, optimistic might be selling that one a little too strong. But both are, at least, wholly valid guilty pleasures.

In real news, Klaus Barbie, who represents what is possibly the biggest disparity between quality of name and quality of human being in history, is arrested in Bolivia. And hey, I totally just found a Wikipedia page for years in history that’s specific to the UK, so that’s useful. Between the end of Arc of Infinity and this story the police manage to shoot a perfectly innocent man named Stephen Waldorf, seriously injuring him. The police officers involved are eventually cleared of attempted murder despite, having shot ...

You Ask Me To Appreciate It? (Arc of Infinity)

So that's what Stephen Thorne looks like.
It’s January 3rd, 1983. Renee and Renato are at number one with “Save Your Love,” which is... a song. Phil Collins removes it from number one in the second week of this story with “You Can’t Hurry Love.” Culture Club, Men at Work, Madness, Malcom McLaren and the World’s Famous Supreme Team, and David Bowie and Bing Crosby also chart.

In real news, ooh, we get to do a big wrap-up since last time, don’t we. OK. So there’s the Falklands, obviously. Canada fully patriates its constitution and achieves full political independence from the UK. Ronald Reagan addresses a joint session fo the British Parliament. There’s a World Cup. England does well in its first group stage, then manages a series of two 0-0 draws in a second group stage, knocking it out of the tournament. The Equal Rights Amendment fails, to the delight of Phyllis Schlafly, who is basically the American version of Mary Whitehouse. Like all American adaptations of British source texts, she is bigger, louder, and stupider. The queen’s bodyguard, Michael Trestrail, resigns over excessive use of male prostitutes. The first lethal ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time For Tea 27 (The Cleopatras)

Defense of Time-Flight aside, and complete lack of defense of The Arc of Infinity aside as well, watching Doctor Who in the John Nathan-Turner era often involves a fair amount of staring incredulously at the screen and bewilderedly asking “what the fuck were you people thinking.” This is somewhat odd. Time-Flight is not, in point of fact, worse-made than The Power of Kroll, to pick one of five or six examples from the Graham Williams era that people are far more willing to defend. Nothing The Arc of Infinity does to Gallifrey is prima facie stupider than The Invasion of Time. The Black Guardian is no more of a ham sandwich in Mawdryn Undead than would be expected given his servant in The Armageddon Factor. And yet what is defensible, if not necessary forgivable, under Graham Williams is a source of incredulity under Nathan-Turner.

There are reasons for this. We’ve just wrapped 1982 in the series. Defending it because it compares reasonably well to Doctor Who five years before increasingly doesn’t wash. On top of that there is a question of overall aesthetic. The Graham Williams era was cheap and silly, yes, but it was cheap and silly ...

Time Can Be Rewritten 18 (Spare Parts)

I somewhat adamantly refused to cover the Big Finish line on this blog before this post, simply because I felt like I should start with a “proper” Big Finish audio from their most distinguished line. The Hartnell book has a Companion Chronicles entry in it, and the Troughton, Pertwee, and Baker books will also have Big Finish bonus entries (The Prison in Space, Find and Replace, and Destination: Nerva, most likely). But in terms of the blog, this is where Big Finish enters. So I suppose we should do the ticky box business of explaining what I’m on about before we get to the fun stuff.

Big Finish are the crowning achievement of the professional fan industry - a bunch of people so good at fan-made Doctor Who audios and audio adaptations of some of the Virgin books that they managed to secure a license in 1999 to do original Doctor Who audios. This is important in several regards. First, it led to a considerably muddier sense of what current Doctor Who was in the half-decade before the return of the series. During the Virgin era there was one official continuation of Doctor Who - the New Adventures. You could love ...

Our Mode of Conveyance is Irrelevant (Time-Flight)

Welcome to Longleat, Mr. Davison.
It’s March 22nd, 1982. The Goombay Dance Band are at number one with “Seven Tears,” and stay there all story. Derek and the Dominos, ABC, and Bucks Fizz also chart. Lower in the charts are Flock of Seagulls with “I Ran” and U2 with “A Celebration.” While in real news, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial has a groundbreaking ceremony. In less American news, the Canada Act passes the British Parliament, giving Canada the power to amend their own constitution instead of having to ask Britain to do it. In similarly partially-UK news, Chariots of Fire wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards, beating Raiders of the Lost Ark. Time Bandits, in hindsight the actual best film of 1981, was not nominated.

But for me it’s about a decade over, and we’re on scratchy VHS tapes from PBS again. Because Time-Flight was my first Peter Davison story, and one of the earliest Doctor Who stories I ever watched. Which sets up an interesting situation. Time-Flight is, after all, absolutely hated. Apparently the worst story of the Davison era by some margin, and the fifth worst of all time if the Mighty 200 poll is ...

A Pathetic Bunch of Tin Soldiers (Earthshock)

"What do you mean our redesign is bad? Look at his!"
It’s March 8, 1982. Tight Fit are still sleeping with a lion, and continue to do so all story. Fun Boy Three and Bananarama, ABC, and Iron Maiden also chart. So that’s all terribly exciting, isn’t it. Let’s try the news - the US starts its embargo against Libya. That will end well, I’m sure. Mary Whitehouse’s attempt to prosecute the play The Romans in Britain for obscenity goes down in flames when it turns out that the witness who claims to have seen a penis on stage could not possibly have actually done so, proving a delightfully high profile defeat for Whitehouse. Also, syzygy!

While on television we have Earthshock. A story I’ve been hemming and hawing over what to do with almost since this blog started, hoping that watching it would in some sense clarify things. It didn’t really. This is, for me, one of the most inscrutable of Doctor Who stories. No, the thing that really clarified what to say about this story was actually doing revisions on the Troughton book (I just did my revisions to The Wheel ...

Just a Hint of Mint (Black Orchid)

And then they killed Adric. The end.
It’s March 1st, 1982. Tight Fit are at number one with “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” while Toni Basil’s unforgivably awful “Mickey” is at number two. Soft Cell and Depeche Mode also feature in the top ten, while Iron Maiden pokes around just outside of it. While in real news... well, we’ve got here a story that only covers two days, so actually, based on the detailed historical research I do for these posts (aka “look the year up on Wikipedia”) nothing whatsoever happens. Queen Elizabeth opens up the Barbican the day after this story finishes. The Barbican is an interesting little thing - a massive performing arts centre full of good intentions and muddy executions. But I did see a phenomenal RSC production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream there in what a quick check of the Internet suggests was just about their final performance at the Barbican. So that was nice.

While on topic, Black Orchid! Black Orchid is an interesting beast. It doesn’t work at all, first of all, but the reasons why it doesn’t work are almost completely separate from the larger problems that Doctor Who ...

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