Viewing posts tagged robert holmes

4

"Don't get any ambitious ideas," says Castellan Spandrell to his prisoner.

"I just wanted to check it was the same staser," says the Doctor, examing the weapon used to assassinate the President of the High Council of Time Lords. "You see that symbol at the end of the corridor?"

The Doctor indicates a huge Seal of Rassilon.

"What about it?" asks Spandrell.

"You try and hit it," says the Doctor, handing Spandrell the staser.

"That's the kind of vandalism we're always running the Shabogans in for," grumbles Spandrell.

Spandrell is, basically, the Chief of Police in the Time Lord Capitol.  As such, the Doctor is his prisoner, having been caught holding a rifle in a gallery near the spot where the President was gunned down.

We never see any Shabogans.   The reference is never explained.  It just seems to be part of a Gallifreyan policeman's job to arrest people called 'Shabogans' for vandalism.  But let's not pass over this too quickly.  There is regular crime here?  There are hooligans running around the corridors of the Capitol of the Time Lords of Gallifrey? 

Well, yes, of course.

The Time ...

9

Wow.  Single figures.  Okay, time for some fun.


"I'm asking you to help yourselves," says the Doctor. 

Revolution isn't about everyone suddenly becoming altruistic and angelic.  It is, as Marx saw it, "the movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority".

"Nothing will change round here unless you change it," says the Doctor.  Here is 'freedom and necessity'.  It must be done, but they can choose to do it or not to do it.

"What will we do with two guns against all those guards?" asks Veet.

"You can't do anything, but there are fifty million people in this city. Think how the guards will react to that number."

"It's crazy talk," says Goudry, "Rebellion? No one would support you."  Capitalist realism.

"Given the chance to breathe clean air for a few hours, they might. Have you thought of that?"

The Company pumps a chemical fug into the air that makes people anxious and weak.  That's how it works on Pluto.  Here we call it ideology, or hegemony.

The Doctor and Bisham discuss ways of knocking out the gas pumps.

"I was ...

Vixens and Saxons


Some disjointed thoughts about 'The Time Warrior'.  Is it sexist?  Is Linx really a girl?  And what is the correct Socialist attitude to Irongron?


1.  Men Are From Earth, Sontarans Are From... umm... Saturn?  No, couldn't be.  'Saturn' is an anagram of 'Rutans' for a start...

'The Time Warrior' is the chronicle of a failed romance.  Irongron and Linx.  The odd couple.

Made for each other.
The initial attraction. The slowly dawning mutual realisation that they have much in common. They take turns helping each other out. Terms of affection pass between them: Linx is Irongron's "brother" and will be his "general". Physical intimacy follows, as Linx allows Irongron to see his face then almost takes his arm as they leave to deal with the android knight. Irongron gives Linx a familiar nickname (albeit a rather unkind one).  Then ...

Skulltopus 11: Changing States

Before the Skulltopus series moves on to the Baker years (and beyond), I feel the need to settle accounts with the Pertwee era, particularly with Peladon.  Also, I need to clarify something about the way capitalism is portrayed and perceived in - and by - Doctor Who.


The maggots in 'The Green Death' are the Pertwee era's last gasp of the Weirdesque.  'Green Death' is also the last Pertwee story to properly notice capitalism.

Admittedly, there is some riffing on 'greed' in 'Invasion of the Dinosaurs'; and 'Monster of Peladon' regurgitates (in a reduced form) the political semiotics of its parent story.  However, in these stories, while class is in evidence... class struggle even!... there is no tracing it back to anything recognisable as capitalist social relations.

I'll get to this, but first I want to loop back to address something about 'Carnival of Monsters' that I should've mentioned previously: Vorg as an entrepreneur and how this relates to the society in which he finds himself.  Firstly, Inter-Minor isn't recognisably capitalist.  The latent revolution in 'Carnival' - the imminent revolt of the Functionaries that President Zarb (the panicky social democrat) is trying to placate and Kalik (the fascist ...

Beyond Redemption

I think there is something inherently dodgy about the notion of 'redemptive readings'.  It seems to imply a determination to look at a text in a positive way that is at odds with what could be called 'proper scepticism'.  This objection is itself open to the objection that it's silly to approach a piece of entertainment product with 'scepticism', especially when it is part of a series of which one is supposedly a fan.  But, this loses sight of context and agency.  There are various ways of choosing to watch the same thing.  When you sit down to enjoy an episode of a show you like, for fun, you're a bit odd if you're not expecting, hoping and trying to like it.  When you're watching it with the express intention of analysing it and then writing about what it means, proper scepticism becomes appropriate.  Trying to like what you're watching becomes a somewhat iffy strategy in that context.  Besides, doesn't the necessity of trying to find ways of praising what you're analysing tell us something in itself?  This muddle also loses sight of the distinctions that are always to be found within ...

How Curses Work 3: That Whole Rabbits/Tennis Connection There

I always dimly assumed that Stephen Harris - whatever combination of real people he may pseudonymically represent - got the idea for a story about pyramids on Mars from all that guff about there supposedly being pyramids and giant monkey faces on Mars.

However, I learn that the 'face' and 'pyramids' on Mars were not 'discovered' until the NASA Viking missions, which didn't snap pictures of the region of Mars known as Cydonia (where all the pyramids, town squares and giant useless chimp portraits are said to be) until after 'Pyramids of Mars' was broadcast.

The whole pyramids / Mars thing is alive and well today, beyond Who-dom.  Viz, this species of utter balls:


 



This kind of drivel has not been stopped - or even slowed - by better and more detailed images taken by NASA since.

Here, for instance is an image of the 'pyramid', taken by Mars Global Surveyor in 2001:




Self-evidently NOT an artificial, architectural structure, I'm sure you'll agree.  (If you don't, you have no business reading this blog.  Go away immediately.)

Here, is the spooky 'simian' 'face' on Mars, imaged by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2007:




Looks exactly like Roddy McDowell in Planet of Apes ...

The Empire of Vanilla

Some things I've noticed about 'Spearhead from Space'

There's a lot of wood in this story.


This suggests a contrast, a conflict even, between older forms of production - the appearance of the hospital, and the Seeleys' cottage, suggest artisanship - and newer industrial technology and mass production, represented by the factory and the evil plastic which creeps out of it.

There are lots of workers in this story.  There's a Nurse.

There's Mullins.
Mullins, one of the many wage labourers in this story...
seen here in the act of labouring for his wage.  

There's a workman in the street, talking to the copper before he investigates the (off-screen) breaking of shop windows (implying the role of the police as protectors of private property and business).  There's the guard at the front gate of UNIT HQ.  There's the guide at Madame Tussauds.

There are the workers in the plastics factory.

I don't know, but I'd guess that these women - together with the male worker
seen earlier in the episode, operating heavy machinery - are actual workers
in the factory where these scenes were filmed.  One ...

Behind the Times

Doctor Who was (and is) frequently racist in its representations.  Probably no more or less than most other cultural products of our society, but nonetheless...

Now, to deal with the banalities first, I don't accuse anybody involved in making the show of being deliberately racist.  I don't generally know much about their opinions.  When you hear about their views, you tend to hear that they were liberals or soft-lefties.  People reminiscing about working with Hartnell tend to raise his right-wing opinions on race (and other things) as though they were considered unusual.  And that's not the issue anyway.  I'm not interested in making personal attacks on this or that writer or producer. 

The show started nearly 50 years ago... so a lot of it is old, dated, the product of vanished days.  This is often raised by fans who see the problems in certain Who stories but, understandably, are eager to defend them.  Nobody wants to feel that something they love is tainted by racism - that terrible bogey word that stops people thinking clearly because, like so many important words, it's been systematically stripped of its context and has ...

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