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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

12 Comments

  1. 7a1abfde-af0e-11e0-b72c-000bcdcb5194
    August 15, 2011 @ 5:15 am

    Maybe Nixon thought Lennon was working with the Silence. (Though in that case it would have made more sense to go after Paul Simon.)

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  2. Muad'dib
    August 15, 2011 @ 10:53 am

    Delgado makes a strong showing here with some fun moments. His rapport with Pertwee had become quite good by this point. Also, this episode really starts down the interesting path, hinted at previously, of The Master as the Doctor through a glass darkly. Examples: the Master's role as "benevolent" alien interfering on behalf of the maligned Sea Devils, his interactions with authority and the establishment a la Pertwee vis a vis UNIT, and his preference for guile and misdirection rather than brute force to achieve his ends. I think the new series has become rather maudlin with its Doctor-Master axis, but I think it was beginning to pay dividends in Sea Devils. Unfortunately, many of those would be undone by the complete catastrophe to close this season.

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  3. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 15, 2011 @ 10:57 am

    I have to disagree slightly. I mean, the Master/Pertwee interactions in this are lovely, but this is also the story where they just decide to willfully showboat in that regard. The sword-fighting scene, which isn't excruciating on its own, but when it gets reprised in full in the next episode becomes insufferable, is a key example. Which would be charming if it weren't an omen of The Time Monster.

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  4. Gnaeus
    August 15, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

    "The proof of this being Torchwood."

    Rubbish. Look: the format might well work, but Torchwood is proof of nothing except that abysmal, talent-proof-at-every-stage television can and does make it onto the screen.

    The "brutal dramatics" of Torchwood? Try the hamfisted machinations of its gargantuanly incompetent writers articulated by the small deciduous forest that stands in for a cast.

    "Doctor Who, and really television in general, has improved continually."

    This is also complete rubbish. There is no manner in which "Time and the Rani" is better than, to pick a random example, "Pyramids of Mars". Sheer whiggery, but nothing else.

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  5. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 15, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

    I quite like Torchwood. Actually, I quite like pretty much all of Doctor Who and its spin-offs. If you're expecting the blog to turn around and start savaging Doctor Who at some point, I'm afraid you're going to be very disappointed. And Torchwood is very definitely part of Doctor Who.

    And as I said in the post where I made the full case for continual improvement, there are spots I will take the show to task. But generally the issue is always a failure to live up to the standards of their time. The fact of the matter is, in terms of editing, shot construction, pacing, how it understands visual narrative, and almost all technical aspects of the program, yes, Time and the Rani is actually better than Pyramids of Mars. Which is, if you'll note in the post in question, what I was talking about then, and what I'm talking abut here.

    Now, mind you, I'll agree that Pyramids of Mars was an absolutely brilliant piece of television when it aired while Time and the Rani was an unmitigated disaster. I'll grant that if you watch them on their own terms, Pyramids is a thrill while Time and the Rani is complete rubbish.

    But Time and the Rani is still better made by almost any useful measure. Its use of space is smarter, its editing is pacier, its use of color is more artful, it does a better job of conveying information through acting or visuals instead of exposition. Much of this is just down to evolving technology and increasing levels of basic skills. I agree most of the creative talent in the Hinchcliffe era would have done better episodes in 1987 than the actual crew from that year. And that Pip and Jane would have written utter crap in any year. But the basic fact of being made in 1987 helps Time and the Rani when compared to something from 1975.

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  6. The Lord of Ábrocen Landmearca
    August 15, 2011 @ 6:06 pm

    Children of Earth was genius. Season 1 and 2 were erratic. Miracle Day is getting far better reviews than it should. It's so ham fisted and lazy that it makes me ill watching it. The characters are nauseatingly unlikeable, ESPECIALLY Rex, for whom I longing pray to die every episode. Jack is wasted here, sidelined in what ought to be HIS OWN STORY, and it's clear Barrowman doesn't give a shit with this script, phoning in his lines and defaulting to "brooding angst" whenever he can get away with it.

    And don't get me started on Pullman trying to deliver though ridiculous speeches with any sense of gravity. The story makes no goddamn sense, and it's just all so awful and depressing. Bring back Captain Jack, not Jack the Mortal Dude Who Broods.

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  7. Wm Keith
    August 16, 2011 @ 12:01 am

    If you were to move one story on from "Pyramids of Mars" and "Time and the Rani" to "The Android Invasion" and "Paradise Towers", then you have a more interesting comparison between technically proficient tosh and execrable yet ambitious experimental theatre.

    Or so I believe, having watched neither story in the past ten years.

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  8. Gnaeus
    August 16, 2011 @ 2:42 am

    Sorry, but I reject the idea that 80s Who is (necessarily) technically better than 70s Who (as an example). Technologically, perhaps. But, to take another pair of stories, I would argue that "Genesis" is better lit and better shot than 80s stories like "Twin Dilemma", which are apparently lit for people who like staring into the sun. Although the most stylishly-shot story from the original run, I think, is probably "Warriors' Gate".

    But the most damning point on your argument is the programme's incidental music, which if anything declined over the original run, at least. In the 60s, Tristram Cary et al were writing wonderfully alien musique concrete stuff, in the 70s we get Dudley "here's another solo oboe bar" Simpson, and in the 80s we get… Keff. There is no possible way of plastering over the fact that Keff McCulloch's incidental music is awful and frequently badly mixed (even his marginally-better stand-in, Mark Ayers, isn't much better, and the music on "Ghost Light" for instance is appallingly mixed, so that it virtually drowns out the dialogue).

    Sorry, but Keff McCulloch is producing a technical improvement over Tristram Cary? No way.

    I should say I don't have a grudge against the 80s – there are some good stories in there. But there's an awful lot of tripe and, worse, good stories marred by poor production (or Bonnie Langford).

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  9. JJ
    August 16, 2011 @ 3:43 am

    It's cheating a little bit to compare the best-looking show of 1975 to the worst-looking show of 1984. A better comparison to "Genesis" is "Caves of Androzani", while Robot or Sontarran Experiment are more comparable to Twin Dilemma.

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  10. The Lord of Ábrocen Landmearca
    August 16, 2011 @ 8:09 am

    What about the harry ape-suit in Androids of Tara? I mean, i can't get through the episode at all because the moment that thing walks on camera I crack up and can't stop laughing.

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  11. Wm Keith
    August 17, 2011 @ 12:22 am

    Just to set the record (my record) straight, I think I like "Paradise Towers" for its unrealised potential. Of which there is none in "The Android Invasion". (Again, based on old memories).

    "Androids" is, quite deliberately, one of the funniest stories of the Williams era – though I wouldn't go so far as to say that the ape was designed to be poor. Even so, yes, it does look like a man in a suit, but ever since "An Unearthly Child" we've accepted space aliens that perfectly resemble earthling humans. Just about the only character ever to express surprise at the human appearance of an space alien is Alydon in the novel "An Exciting Adventure with the Daleks".

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  12. Seeing_I
    August 31, 2011 @ 6:52 am

    Gnaeus, I can't argue with your specific examples, but I think you're missing the distinction between technique and artfulness that Philip is trying to make.

    Reply

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