Viewing posts tagged eruditorum

I Made My Madness Reality (The War Machines)

It’s June 25th, 1966. Between now and July 16th, a three-year-old girl will die at the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin after crawling under a restraining fence and being pulled into an elephant cage. Hundreds will die across the midwestern United States in a six-day heat wave, including 149 in St. Louis, and as many as 650 in new York City. Eight student nurses will die in Chicago when Richard Speck breaks into a dormitory and strangles them. This is in addition to numerous deaths in the Vietnam War, the deaths of Polish poet Jan Brzechwa, French painter Julie Manet, and the world edging ever closer to the eschaton. Also, The War Machines airs.

Looking at it in 2020, the two things that jump out about The War Machines are how prescent it is and how prescient it isn’t. On the one hand, its basic concerns about the destructive possibilities of computer technology are clearly ahead of its time. It’s not that evil computers were unknown in 1966—they started appearing in sci-fi literature in the 1950s, the same decade that Alan Turing broached the subject of whether a machine could think in his landmark paper “Computing Machinery ...

This Primitive Planet and Its Affairs (The Crusade)

It’s March 27th, 1965. Between now and April 17th, 470 people will die in a dam burst and landslide in Chile, 20 will die when a car bomb is detonated outside the US embassy in Saigon, two will die when the first aircraft lost in air-to-air combat during the Vietnam War are shot down during a strike on the Thanh Hóa Bridge, and somewhere north of 250 people will die in the Midwestern United States in what are called the Palm Sunday Tornadoes, while Richard Hickock and Perry Smith will be executed by hanging for the murders of the Herbert Clutter family, Princess Mary wll die of a heart attack on the grounds of her estate at Harewood House, and the world will edge incrementally closer to the eschaton. Also, The Crusade airs.

Acclaimed Doctor Who critic Philip Sandifer (whatever happened to him?) once attempted to classify the historical stories into two moulds defined by the Season One writers of the genre. Like most of his work, this is insightful but ultimately over-simplified. The more productive approach is to read the historicals as advancing dialectically between John Lucarotti’s harder edged approach to historicals, in which they are a vehicle for ...

He'll Burn Everything; Us Too (The Daleks)

It’s December 21st, 1963. Between now and February 1st, 1964 128 people will die in a cruise ship fire north of Madeira, 25 people will die in riots in the Panama Canal Zone, 100 will die in anti-Muslim riots in Calcutta, three will die when an American fighter jet accidentally strays into East German space and is shot down, while Pamela Johnson will be murdered in Manchester, New Hampshire, T.H. White will die of heart failure, and the world will edge incrementally closer to the eschaton. Also, The Daleks will air on television.

The Daleks sits suspended between two eschatons, the seemingly defeated threat of fascism on one side, the thus-far averted threat of nuclear annihilation on the other. In one sense these are distinct threats, although 1960s Britain remained broadly aware that fascism was not eliminated forever and that it required a perpetual vigilance lest it arise in a period where it could find itself in control of a nuclear arsenal. But the Daleks are both too much and too little to quite fit into the straightforward “what if Hitler had the bomb” framework. It is a truism that pop culture nazis are curiously devoid of substance—an empty ...

Who We Want To Be Next (Twice Upon a Time)

In 2063 they should do a special in which they cast different actors as William Hartnell, Richard Hurndall, and David Bradley, then have them all appear together in an adventure called The Three First Doctors.

It’s December 25th, 2017. Ed Sheeran is at number one with “Perfect.” The Pogues, Mariah Carey, Wham, and Eminem also chart, one of them with Ed Sheeran appearing on the track. We’ll call this an exercise for the reader. In news since Series Ten wrapped up, neo-Nazis held a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that resulted in the death of a counterprotester, Heather Heyer, when a Nazi deliberately drove his car into a crowd. Following the rally, President Trump praised the “very fine people” on both sides of the  “are black people human” issue. There’s a lot of other Trump bullshit, but honestly summarizing six months of it in a paragraph is a challenge, so let’s just leave that at “also more fascism” and call it a day. Martin Shkreli is found guilty of a variety of crimes including disrespecting the Wu-Tang Clan. Vince Cable becomes leader of the Liberal Democrats. Theresa May’s government promises that Parliament will get a vote on any Brexit ...

You Were Expecting Someone Else: Titan Comics

My my, it’s been a while since we’ve checked in with the comics, hasn’t it? The last time we looked was back at the end of the Smith era, where I did a quick check-in on IDW’s Farewell to the License comic, Paul Cornell’s “The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who.” Since then, the comics line has been in the hands of Titan Comics, the comics publishing arm of one of the two the Forbidden Planet chains of comic shops. This had a number of effeects, the most prosaic of which was that Titan successfully negotiated an actual distribution license for the UK, thus ending the bewildering curiosity of a US-only line of Doctor Who comics.

Titan has done a number of interesting projects in its time. Paul Cornell’s fascinating Third Doctor comic is dealt with in the newest edition of TARDIS Eruditorum Volume 3, for instance, and I’ll deal with the Al Ewing-cowritten Eleventh Doctor series in the Matt Smith book. But both of these were daliances with the past, even if the Eleventh Doctor book had a good number of issues out before Deep Breath had aired. It was with this series, or, technically, triptych of series, as ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea: Rick and Morty

On October 7th, 2017, just over two months after The Doctor Falls, police were called to several McDonald’s locations following a disastrous promotion in which the fast food restaurant brought back an obscure McNuggets dipping sauce, “Szechuan sauce,” that had briefly been released nearly twenty years earlier to tie-in with the release of Disney’s Mulan. The limited amount of sauce released to select McDonald’s was wildly insufficient for the crowds that arrived, which consisted of hundreds of people lining up for hours only to discover that restaurants had as few as twenty sauce packets. The result was bedlam—young men (the crowds were almost exclusively male) hurling obscenities and venting their frustration on minimum wage workers. On Twitter, people seriously suggested class action lawsuits and claimed that any workers who had a bad day deserved it because of the company’s bad actions.

The key bit of context needed to understand this madness is why McDonald’s was bringing back an ancient dipping sauce that Eater described as having “the color and consistency of strawberry jelly” and tasting “mainly like corn syrup with maybe a tiny bit of Worcestershire thrown in.” The answer is that several months earlier, when the ...

This Old Body of Mine (World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls)

Moffat sent Capaldi off with an acting challenge to rival Heaven Sent, namely selling the line "A Mondasian Cyberman!"

It’s June 24th, 2017. Artists for Grenfell, a charity supergroup including Stormzy, Robbie Williams, Brian May, and Pete Townshend, are at number one with “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” which lasts for a week before “Despacito” makes its inevitable return. Little Mix, Rita Ora, and DJ Khaled also chart. In news, a terrorist attack occurs in Finsbury Park as a man drives a van into a crowd near a mosque while shouting “Kill all Muslims,” while ISIL destroys the Great Mosque of Al-Nuri in Mosul. And Theresa May finally reaches an agreement with the DUP to support her government for the low, low price of one billion pounds. 

While on television, the end, or at least, the beginning of it, as Moffat ultimately found himself persuaded to do one more Christmas special, as Chibnall wasn’t going to be ready for one yet. Indeed, this final duology serves to interestingly highlight the nature of a regeneration story by taking the two crucial elements of one and splitting them into different stories. Twice Upon a Timegets the marquee moment in ...

You Were Expecting Someone Else: The Missy Chronicles

And so begins the endgame of an era, in which I traditionally wander around a bit and look at other things before actually resolving the era. We’ve two more Capaldi-era stories and five entries to cover them with. And today we dip into the BBC Books line for the fourth time this era because I want to talk a little more about Missy, and the alternative is Big Finish’s box set and, well, we don’t do that anymore. So instead we get BBC Books’ anthology of Missy-centric short stories.

Like most BBC Books products, it suffers from the obvious problem of dead weight writers. I’m sure Peter Anghelides is a lovely person (although really you’d think I’d have been burned enough times by the BBC-sanctioned pro-fan class to just stop with that assumption), but there’s simply no reason why one of the writers of The Ancestor Cell should be writing new release Doctor Who material in 2018 except for the fact that they haven’t actually changed editors since the book after that. And yes, there’s also an inevitable firmly adequate story by James Goss and an effort by Cavan Scott that includes metaphors like “a look that would wither Krynoids” ...

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