Viewing posts tagged frontios

Apocalypse Below (or The Tractate Face-Off)

From Panic Moon, July 2011.  Edited, and with new material in a seprate coda.


This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end


At first, 'Frontios' seems like the odd one out amongst Christopher H. Bidmead’s Doctor Who scripts. Unlike 'Logopolis' and 'Castrovalva', it’s overtly political and doesn’t seem to be powered by any underlying scientific concept. Also, it has monsters in it.

Bidmead included monsters – reluctantly – at the insistence of John Nathan-Turner.  On reflection, this seems a dodgy call. Monsters from Bidmead were always going to be too concept-heavy to realise properly on screen. Sure enough, he comes up with giant woodlice that can disguise themselves as rocks until they unexpectedly uncurl… which was never gonna look good on the day.

Apparently finding the macabre more fascinating than he expected, Bidmead also included alien machines made with bits of corpses. This was very tuned in to the then-current turn towards biomechanics and ‘body horror’ in the fantasy genre, but it proved too horrific for Doctor Who to attempt on screen (though it livens up the novelisation ...

Nice Guy, Nasty Cosmos

The great Timelash II rehash finally hobbles to a close.  Here's the last roundup.  Seasons 19-21.


Castrovalva

This is a story, like ‘Logopolis’, that achieves greatness despite its many flaws. Flaws first:

“Take your hands off me – this is an official uniform!” and “We’re perfectly harmless, unfortunately!”

Seriously… who the hell talks like that? I can forgive “I know so little about telebiogenesis” because Nyssa is an alien scientist child prodigy aristocrat. But Tegan is supposed to be a down-to-earth working woman. And, on that subject, it becomes abundantly clear during this story that the programme makers aren’t going to exploit the contrast between the two characters’ backgrounds and attitudes for interesting dramatic conflict. Nor are they going to milk the business of the Master inhabiting Nyssa’s father’s body for dramatic potential either… though, to her great credit, Sarah Sutton is still trying to use her face to express anguish at the Master’s appearance.

Ainley, it need hardly be said, excels as the delightful Portreeve (channelling Olivier to the point that it becomes beside-the-point that it’s always obvious who he is) but suddenly goes crap when called upon to play an obtuse ...

Camp Onion

It's coming up to Panic Moon time again. 

The July issue of the estimable print fanzine is now available for pre-order, here.


This time, Yours Truly has provided a piece on 'Frontios', in which I explain why I like it despite reading it as a reactionary parable, and a short sketch of a Marxist interpretation of 'Spearhead from Space', in which I attempt to tenuously connect the concepts of alienation and commodity fetishism to a story about killer shop-window dummies lead by an alien octopus.

This is what is known as 'a waste of a mediocre education'. 

But we have some laughs, don't we?

No?

Oh well.

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