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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.

72 Comments

  1. maruhkati
    March 11, 2024 @ 10:30 am

    I had already tapped out on this season before The Battle of NASCAR in Kosovo had even aired, but God, the amount of sheer nothingness exuded by the title alone is stunning.

    Reply

  2. Aristide Twain
    March 11, 2024 @ 10:32 am

    Grumble grumble the TV Movie is quite good, a clear template for NuWho, and the era it actually did spawn (the EDAs) was broadly terrific, grumble grumble. (Even if one is more allergic to its superficial patina of Americanisms than I, I still say it’s unfair to list it alongside the likes of “Twin Dilemma”; it is at the very least a very well-executed example of the thing it wants to be, even if one should dislike that thing, whereas the thing about “Twin Dilemma”, “Invisible Enemy”, “Toymaker”, and of course “Battle”, is that they are rubbish in execution.)

    Reply

    • Aristide Twain
      March 11, 2024 @ 10:36 am

      And while I’m being all contrarian, Planet of Fire is already “done right” as it is. It’s good! It’s a different flavour of good from an Enlightenment but I’ll staunchly back it as one of the Good Davisons. Of course, this does mean it in no way needed remaking, and indeed, Battle is wildly inferior to it in all respects. (Even raw spectacle, which is a bizarre department for a Classic Who story to manage to outclass a NuWho competitor, however wretched the script… and yet! Say what you will about Planet, it does at least have… [checks notes]… colours.)

      Reply

      • Brian Block
        March 12, 2024 @ 2:17 am

        Thank you! I agree about Planet of Fire and was going to comment on that even if you hadn’t gotten there first. It’s full of strong character moments for an arriving (Peri) and departing (Turlough) character, it’s an attack on theocracy that looks more relevant every year, it’s frequently beautiful to look at, and it gives a nice ambient sense of creeping planetary catastrophe that also, well, gets more relevant every year. And while I always found the pre-John-Simm Master a very poorly conceived villain, at least Planet used to give Peri something to show her mettle against, and then seeing him teeny-tiny is also fun.

        (Mind you, I also hit puberty/ sexual awakening at almost exactly the same time that Nicola Bryant was being featured in a bathing suit, so that didn’t hurt for me either. But I genuinely think it’s a good episode. Whereas Battle of Ramen vs Coleslaw is still the worst hour of scripted TV I’ve ever watched voluntarily. I’d quit the show before the Timeless Children hit…)

        Reply

        • Aristide Twain
          March 12, 2024 @ 2:51 pm

          Thanks! I endorse most of this, and I’m a defender of the Classic Master besides. In any event, to the extent that the Ainley Master was breaking down as any kind of serious character, Planet of Fire is very aware of it; in the first place it makes copious fun of him, and in the second place it kills him off. I believe it was Jayce Black who remarked that the Master/Doctor dynamic in that on feels very much predicated on the fact that the Doctor has outgrown the Master; his hearts aren’t really in the rivalry anymore, and he can only look on with stony weariness as the evil clown runs around chewing on the scenery.

          …And indeed, only look down with that same aggravated impassivity as he burns to death. We got Survival and the funniest bits of Mark of the Rani and Trial out of his return, so we shouldn’t complain, but I do feel it would have behooved Planet to officially remain that incarnation’s last bow. Considered as the anticipated finale of Davison’s era, clearing his board in preparation for the new guy, giving the Master such a dramatic-and-yet-undignified sendoff truly feels like a promise that his unceremonious return in the C.Baker era proceeds to break without, by that point, even realising it’s doing anything pathetic or stupid at all.

          (On a related note, while in hindsight it looks like a harbinger of the degradations to come, I don’t think there’s anything too eyebrow-raising about Peri’s bathing suit within Planet of Fire itself — in part because she’s so strongly written here, and in part because the episode does also give us Turlough in a bathing suit in the same scenes, such that it feels more like equal-opportunity eye-candy than garden-variety straight-male-gaze.)

          Reply

      • PensiveHastur
        March 15, 2024 @ 11:44 am

        The Planet of Fire, at a very minimum, was trying to do something. BORAK was not trying to do anything. I can respect a story that aims high and misses unless it does so in an unusually atrocious manner, but not a story that aims low. The point of Doctor Who is not to aim low.

        Reply

  3. Kazin
    March 11, 2024 @ 10:39 am

    This is also in retrospect, but I’m mad that this episode was so bad it’s where my wife stopped watching, so when the 14th Doctor came back and references were made to seasons she hadn’t seen, I had to try to explain wtf happened in those seasons to her, and felt like a moron for not only watching that crap (fandom is a helluva drug), but retaining any of it. Screw you, Battle of Reclusive Arbitrariness!

    Reply

    • Przemek
      March 11, 2024 @ 12:40 pm

      I have also watched the whole Chibnall era but thankfully I seem to have forgotten the vast majority of it. Reading these essays I’m constantly like “wait, that happened?”.

      Reply

      • Kazin
        March 11, 2024 @ 8:15 pm

        I do not know how I’ve retained any of it, it’s drivel. I’m jealous you’ve managed to get through unscathed.

        Reply

        • Przemek
          March 12, 2024 @ 3:43 am

          Oh, I most certainly didn’t, it just affected me differently. “The flames are all long gone but the pain lingers on” etc.

          And to add one more thought to your comment, that happened with my wife as well. So much so that now she’s still reluctant to give the new Doctor a try. Thanks Chris.

          Reply

  4. William Shaw
    March 11, 2024 @ 10:56 am

    The Battle of Radio 4 Extra

    Reply

    • maruhkati
      March 11, 2024 @ 10:59 am

      The Battle of Rastas at Kohl’s

      Reply

      • Nick
        March 11, 2024 @ 11:16 am

        The Battle of Random Added Consonants

        Reply

        • Sean Dillon
          March 11, 2024 @ 11:32 am

          The Battle of Russian Kramer

          Reply

          • Einarr
            March 11, 2024 @ 12:21 pm

            The Battle of Rebarbative Aardvarks

          • Corey Klemow
            March 11, 2024 @ 4:51 pm

            The Bagels of Ramadan Unkosher

          • Jerec
            March 11, 2024 @ 9:02 pm

            The Batlle of Anorak Sooks

          • Corey Klemow
            March 13, 2024 @ 2:02 am

            The Baseline of Vacant Trope Praxis

          • Christopher Brown
            March 14, 2024 @ 11:04 am

            I wish to add the one I came up with in the Discord for posterity: The Ballad of Rambunctious Kookaburras.

          • Przemek
            March 16, 2024 @ 4:14 pm

            The Battle of Russell, Add Colours

    • SeeingI
      March 12, 2024 @ 8:17 am

      The Battle of Raccoons and Koalas

      Reply

    • Riggio
      March 12, 2024 @ 2:09 pm

      The Bottles of Rincewind and Luggage

      Reply

    • Andrew
      April 12, 2024 @ 8:26 am

      The Battle of Rust Or Van Kronos

      Reply

  5. Jesse S
    March 11, 2024 @ 11:36 am

    Well, I actually did LOL at “The Battle of Raymour & Flanigan”. Probably a joke very few of your readers who aren’t upstate New Yorkers will get!

    I remember thinking this was the biggest damp squib of a season finale we’d had in ages. Although ironically, with all of this season’s flaws, there does seem to have been some effort made into reshaping the show into one that explored new settings and characters, rather than dwelling on the past. This season featured no returning monsters or characters, and didn’t dwell on the Doctor’s past like so much of the new series that created the Time War and then could never manage to shake free of it. In that sense, it was a bit refreshing. Pity the execution was so lackluster. After this season, the show pivoted to a reliance on spectacle and returning continuity, until we get the Flux, which was a literally and diegetically a season where the show’s past gets whirled up in a blender.

    Obviously, what the show was doing in Series 11 wasn’t working, but I feel like the wrong lessons were drawn from it.

    Reply

    • Aristide Twain
      March 11, 2024 @ 11:39 am

      I understand that “no continuity stuff” was a mandate from the BBC, so I’m not even sure we can give Chibnall credit for that.

      Reply

      • HelenaHermione
        March 11, 2024 @ 12:27 pm

        And somehow he got around that with his own stylistic references/allusions to past eras in continuity.

        Reply

    • ray
      March 11, 2024 @ 2:15 pm

      They have it in Connecticut too, and she’s from Connecticut.

      Reply

      • Elizabeth Sandifer
        March 11, 2024 @ 2:25 pm

        Yeah, they’re throughout the northeast. My mother had a bunch of stuff from them, and we’ve got a fair chunk ourselves. (Indeed, I’m typing this from atop a lovely Lugano Microfiber Reclining Sofa we got last summer because we lacked any living room furniture I could work on without ending up in pain after.)

        Reply

    • Cyrano
      March 11, 2024 @ 11:35 pm

      I think what this season proves is that old monsters and stuff don’t actually have an impact on the show’s ability to be forward and outward looking. If the lack of returning characters or references to the past was intended to help it focus on new characters and places…well, it didn’t show any interest in the characters it conjures up or the places it takes us to. The show just shows us stuff and shrugs it’s shoulders and says “ah well, what are you going to do?”

      Whereas a well written episode using the Daleks or whatever use them to put the setting and characters under stress and show us how they react. An old knife opening fresh oysters. The Daleks invading Satellite Five shows us new things about the crew and the Rose and the Doctor. It shows us new things this TV show can do.

      And of course the history of the Doctor the show ‘dwelled on’ was not real history at all. It was newly invented story placed in the character’s recent past to give him more ways to bounce off events. Gridlock, for example, doesn’t ‘dwell on the Doctor’s past’, it uses it briefly to power a whole episode from a small lie, then end it with honesty, marking a change in his relationship with Martha. This kind of interest in character is a stranger for the whole Chibnall era.

      Reply

  6. Malk
    March 11, 2024 @ 12:19 pm

    I’m glad that this entry brings up this story as a microcosm for how much this era manages to not appeal to anyone it seems to want to find it appealing, as this is the story that really made that clear for me… and that I get a good segue into my own observation about this story that I’m a broken record about.

    I distinctly remember how much the discourse immediately after airing was split into two takes: “That sucked because Doctor Who finales need epic stakes, not just personal drama!” and “That was good because not all Doctor Who finales should be about epic stakes, and it lacking them to focus on personal drama was refreshing!”

    Which is amazing, because this story DIDN’T ignore epic stakes to focus on drama. It has two godlike aliens worshipping a recurring villain from an previous episode who’s been planning revenge on the Doctor for centuries, a gigantic space battle on a planet that drives people insane, and Earth being shot with a giant laser that threatens to destroy it in the same way that’s already taken dozens of other worlds. All typical series finale stuff on paper, but all so poorly executed, communicated and just plain shit that everyone (including myself, and I’d wager the person reading this) forgot as soon as the credits rolled, and exclusively remembered the two minutes where Bradley Walsh was on screen and they almost felt something. Thousands of people, including genuine fans of the era trying to defend it and people who can recite hours of trivia about bad Doctor Who, and every single one of them went online to discuss a nonexistent version of this episode that only has about 98% of it’s actual plot.

    Reply

  7. Jarl
    March 11, 2024 @ 12:49 pm

    “if you kill him you’ll be just like him”

    Thanks doctor who

    Reply

    • Christopher Brown
      March 11, 2024 @ 6:07 pm

      The moment when I realized that this was going to be the core conflict of the episode was the moment I stopped watching it and just skimmed through the finale a bit. Kerblam! was the episode that ended my completionist habit regarding Doctor Who, then this episode sealed the deal.

      Reply

  8. Arthur
    March 11, 2024 @ 12:58 pm

    I am going to push back here on the idea that there are conceptual stakes regarding “is it better to imprison someone for all eternity than to kill them” in The Battle of Rooty Batooty.

    For that to happen, the episode would need to actually ask the question. It doesn’t, because it already has decided on an answer: yes, it’s completely fine to trap someone for eternity, why would you even doubt that? Just ignore any opinions the Doctor expressed on the subject in The Woman Who Fell To Earth: she has clearly already forgotten those herself, and is merrily undermining her own prior distaste for weapons by happily advocating explosives over guns because in Chibnall ethics apparently, I dunno, having your legs blown off by a bomb is better than getting shot in them or something.

    Chibnall either thinks that eternal psychological torture (it’s made very clear that the people in stasis are aware and conscious of their plight) is better than death, or he just doesn’t recognise the implications of his own ideas. I don’t know which is more terrifying. The former system of ethics is the spawn of nightmares and a spawner of subsequent nightmares. The latter implies that philosophical zombies are real and Chris Chibnall is one.

    Reply

    • PensiveHastur
      March 15, 2024 @ 11:49 am

      It’s almost certainly the latter.

      Reply

  9. Holly Boson
    March 11, 2024 @ 1:39 pm

    Forgive me for the crackpot take, but Chibnall Doctor Who happened in the era where all the cornerstones of 2010s culture up until now seemed to become awful. 2016 was the year politics hit the threshold of being permaterrible and the year when all the pop stars died (most relevantly to Doctor Who, David Bowie was the first major head who set the tone for it). 2017 and 2018 was a process of watching all the inescapable pop stars of the early 2010s put out critically slimed albums (Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Eminem) or morph into unrecognisable, diminished forms (Maroon 5 goes fully pop, Rihanna goes fully makeup, One Direction goes in multiple directions, Gaga decuntifies for a movie, Nicki starts to collaborate with sex offenders, B.o.B. goes flat Earth, and Kanye West becomes Ye). The stars who hit strides during this period were mostly going queerer (SOPHIE, Tyler the Creator) or queerer and Blacker (Janelle Monae, Lana Del Rey). After the soft vintage fuzziness of the first half of the decade — a retreat into nostalgia because no future could be imagined — what followed was this absolutely suffocating moment where the guard HAD to be changed but nothing could shift it. A big, yawning cultural wound where the only prize was that a woman was sometimes allowed to be the main character. Chibnall Who was perfect for that moment.

    Reply

    • Andy
      March 11, 2024 @ 3:11 pm

      This is one of the most insightful things I’ve ever read about recent history, and I have no further comment.

      Reply

  10. Molly Marsh
    March 11, 2024 @ 1:47 pm

    My favourite one of these I’ve heard is “Some Ranskoors Do Av Em”.

    Reply

  11. Jesse
    March 11, 2024 @ 3:14 pm

    It is telling that I remember absolutely hating this episode yet remember absolutely nothing that happened in it. Had I not looked up what story was coming up next on this blog, I would not have even remembered that it was the season finale. Contentless indeed.

    Reply

  12. James Wylder
    March 11, 2024 @ 3:23 pm

    You know, I do think there IS a story to tell here–one of BBC Studios constant frustration with not having enough control over the production. Their annoyance at RTD and Moffat shutting down their spin off and movie ideas.

    They finally got the level of control over the production they wanted–and they were confident. This will be their new era, one they can truly merchandise and profit off of! And then flint hits steel, and they realize they don’t know how to make a spark.

    Reply

    • TheWrittenTevs
      March 12, 2024 @ 4:56 am

      The more I read about the behind the scenes of Chibnall’s Who, the more I become convinced that its big issue was that BBC Studios were completely incompetent from start to finish, determined to put their stamp on the show without enough resources to do so, nor any ideas for the show that anyone but them actually wanted. Chibnall’s doing the best he can but everything appears to have been so much uphill battle that everyone’s more concentrated on just getting 10 episodes of television, not in making them good.

      Reply

      • Rob
        March 12, 2024 @ 6:00 am

        Where are you reading behind the scenes stuff about Chibnall Who? As far as I can tell it’s the most closed off production in the series’ history.

        Reply

        • acrobat (wife of)
          March 13, 2024 @ 4:02 pm

          There’s a bit of a misunderstanding here of what BBC Studios is. In 2018 BBC Worldwide and the former in-house production units from BBC public service had merged into one company but were, and still are, technically two different companies, BBC Studios Distribution and BBC Studios Production. The former Worldwide section had been mad keen on the Whoniverse idea (global ambition, spin-offs, crossovers, tie-ins etc), as it surely meant more commercial opportunities, word is thou that whilst RTD and Moffat were receptive Chibbers was firmly against such nonsense, but then so were the commissioners at BBC public service who wanted a show that fit into the schedule around Strictly, a watchable enough drama for families that held it’s own with less immediate regard for international sales and definitely accessible to audiences who’ve left the telly on after Antiques Roadshow. The story of this era is less about whether Doctor Who could compete with the MCU and more could it hold it’s own with Casualty and Silent Witness. What has happened next has proved that it clearly wasn’t the right show for that task.

          Reply

  13. Jake
    March 11, 2024 @ 4:02 pm

    Ironic thing is, “The Battle of Ranskoor” isn’t even that bad a title. Just get rid of the other bits!

    Reply

    • Einarr
      March 14, 2024 @ 6:05 pm

      There would still be the issue of the episode not actually featuring said eponymous battle, which happens before the story even begins, in what is Yet Another Baffling Decision.

      Attempts to argue that the real Battle is ‘they run around a bit being cross with Tzim-Sha’ or ‘the battle inside Graham’s conscience’ have been made in the past but do not convince.

      I am reminded of RTD saying in The Writer’s Tale that “battle is just a shit word”.

      Reply

      • Dan L
        March 15, 2024 @ 9:19 am

        Another frustrating thing is that the Doctor (or maybe Paltraki?) at one point translates Ranskoor Av Kolos as “Disintegrator of the Soul”, and THAT’s an episode title right there.

        Reply

        • Dan L
          March 15, 2024 @ 9:24 am

          Although I suppose it would have perfectly set up comments like “Disintegrator of the Soul really did what it said on the tin”.

          Reply

  14. Rei Maruwa
    March 11, 2024 @ 6:25 pm

    Maybe the actual interesting thing about this episode is that a race of aliens which only exist two at a time with spiral markings on their cheeks is kind of sort of cribbed from Homestuck? I mean, it isn’t, but it’s weirdly specific (in Homestuck it was a reference to Saw, which is basically the only thing that comes up if you google “spiral cheeks”.)

    Reply

  15. Przemek
    March 12, 2024 @ 3:40 am

    At the time, this episode had a crushing emptiness to it. Something I used to love, hollowed out and drained. A walking, smiling corpse. Like you say, the only thing left to do was to stop watching but I couldn’t, for whatever reason, and so the only other thing left to do was to hate it. The Chibnall era will have its cultural legacy but its personal legacy for me is this: making me, however temporarily, the sort of person that spends their time hatewatching a fucking television show.

    This era of the show might not function as an exorcism but for me at least, this stretch of TARDIS Eruditorum does. Exposing the howling void and banishing it so that we can all be free of it. Or perhaps it’s more like therapy. Revisiting the trauma to understand it, to work through it. To finally let go. I don’t want to hate Chibnall Who, I want to forget it. Thank you for helping me get there.

    Reply

  16. wyngatecarpenter
    March 12, 2024 @ 1:13 pm

    There was a weird sense watching this series of thinking “hang on…that just happened and it was supposed to be ok ” and wondering if anyone else had even noticed. It started with Arachnids In The UK when the Doctor objected to shooting the spiders and locked them in a vault to starve instead – as I recall I mentioned this in an online discussion elsewhere and someone confidently told mer that the Doctor’s questionable morality here would be addressed later in the season (addressed , not repeated). Then there was the worker’s activist turning out to be the real villain at space Amazon. Finally there was this where Graham and Ryan finally decide to be the better men and rise above their desire for revenge by entombing Tim Shaw fully concious forever rather than killing him, and getting congratulated by the Doctor . I still find it utterly bizarre that this ended up on screen.

    Reply

  17. Anton B
    March 12, 2024 @ 1:26 pm

    “To hate it, fundamentally, is to care more about it than it cares about itself”.

    And that’s all that needs to be said

    Reply

  18. Ross
    March 12, 2024 @ 1:50 pm

    I certainly feel like I benefitted a lot from taking a long break before watching this. God, when did I see this? Did I wait until after the end of the Trump era? Until after I was in Therapy? Did I wait a full four years before actually engaging with this? How many seasons of this were there? Were there three Christmas specials with Daleks? Everything is just a big blur. Was the time loop one during the Chibnall era?

    Anyway, we watched this eventually. Maybe we watched Flux first? And… I mean, my only real reaction was that it felt like it was doing a lot of work to not actually accomplish anything. It wasn’t really about much of anything. I can’t remember it well enough to hate it. There were points in Moffatt’s Who where I was actively hurt and angry about what had been done to the show. But Chibnall just made me not care. I profoundly did not care about this.

    Reply

    • Ross
      March 12, 2024 @ 1:51 pm

      Oh, also: The Battle of Radagast the Brown.

      Reply

  19. BG Hilton
    March 12, 2024 @ 11:04 pm

    Nope. Even with all the cues here, I can’t remember what happened in this episode at all.

    Reply

    • David Cook
      March 13, 2024 @ 12:50 pm

      Nether can I, I have seen all of Jodie’s episodes (except the Flux series) and struggle to remember most of them.

      Reply

  20. JDX
    March 13, 2024 @ 9:15 am

    In an earlier thread, there was discussion of whether Torchwood S1 was actually better than this. It was rightly pointed out that the ratings weren’t the best measure of quality, so I turned to the most reliable source of truth I know, the Eruditorum comments on End of Days. We agreed it was flawed, but comparing that thread and this, the feeling then was that there were at least interesting/unusual elements for us to get our teeth into. El picked up on some genuine themes, even while saying that doing an RTD style finale on a Torchwood budget is a bad idea. I do understand that, especially in hindsight, Torchwood failing to be great wasn’t a big deal, where Doctor Who failing to be great in an era where we really needed it inspired genuine pain, anger, and fear for the safety of the show we loved. Nonetheless, I would still say that comparing the two threads really reveals the difference in substance between the two episodes.
    I have stronger memories of end of Days, which I haven’t watched since 2006, than I do of this. What the hell happened that a writer with more than a decade of new experience somehow got worse? This really is an intriguing and bizarre mystery to me.

    Reply

    • Dan L
      March 15, 2024 @ 9:45 am

      I have come to the conclusion that the main problem with Chibnall’s Doctor Who writing is that he’s not used to writing for an audience that includes children, and (unlike Moffat, Davies, Cartmel, Bidmead, Holmes etc.) he doesn’t trust them to follow complex plots or process complex ideas. So everything in his Doctor Who had to be exactly what it looks like on the face of it, there can be no subtext or depth, and he executes all the classic tropes in the expected manner with no subversion on the assumption that they will be new to the viewers (when in fact children these days are a lot more media savvy than they’re given credit for).

      I remember reading that Chibnall has said his target audience was 8-year-olds, and that strikes me as aiming far too young. Can’t remember who said Doctor Who was for “the intelligent 14-year-old”, but I think that’s about right.

      Reply

      • Einarr
        March 15, 2024 @ 4:09 pm

        Yeah, it’s quite notable that unlike Moffat and Davies (Press Gang, Dark Season, Century Falls) he had no experience prior to Who in writing intelligent series aimed at children but which could perfectly well be enjoyed by adults.

        Reply

  21. PensiveHastur
    March 13, 2024 @ 11:50 am

    Calling Chibnall “Sawardian” is an insult to Eric Saward, who IMO should not be blamed for JNT forcing Timelash, The Two Doctors, Mark of the Rani, and the worse elements of The Twin Dilemma upon him; he should not be blamed for these any more than Cartmel should be blamed for Time and the Rani and Silver Nemesis, or Davies should be blamed for Fear Her, and Saward should get as much credit for Enlightenment as he should be blamed for Arc of Infinity. Saward, without JNT foisting terrible stories and an actor he hated upon him, could have easily been a fairly good script-editor, though certainly no Whitaker, Adams, or Cartmel.

    The only real comparison to Chibnall, in my opinion, is John Peel.

    Reply

    • Aristide Twain
      March 13, 2024 @ 11:02 pm

      Indeed nobody should be blamed for Silver Nemesis, given that it is quite good.

      Reply

      • Ross
        March 14, 2024 @ 1:41 pm

        Indeed, Silver Nemesis’s main flaw is that it is a slightly less good version of the story they did a month earlier. If Rememberance of the Daleks had aired in a different season, Silver Nemesis would probably be remembered more as the second-best example of Doctor Who’s traditional “Big Name Classic Monster Tries To Steal Ancient Time Lord Super Weapon The Doctor Hid On Earth A Long Time Ago” story.

        Reply

    • D.N.
      March 14, 2024 @ 6:26 am

      And let’s not forget that Cartmel, unlike Saward, had the advantage of fewer stories per season to edit, JNT in checking-out mode, and not having to deal with Ian Levine. Heck, Bidmead didn’t have to deal with Levine and he answered to Barry Letts rather than JNT. So let’s just say that while Saward had his faults and was promoted prematurely, he wasn’t subjected to the same pressures as other script editors of 80s Who were.

      Reply

      • PensiveHastur
        March 15, 2024 @ 11:28 am

        I’d argue that Cartmel was also promoted prematurely. While he was (at least by Season 25) quite good at the more charismatic elements of scriptwriting, he had issues with some more technical aspects, most notably judging the length of scripts before filming, and I suspect that 1992 Cartmel would have been substantially better than 1988 Cartmel. (Cat’s Cradle Warhead was certainly a work of genius, IMO.)

        Reply

    • Arthur
      March 15, 2024 @ 5:35 pm

      For my part I don’t blame Saward for having bad stories foisted upon him, or not finding the casting of Colin Baker to his taste.

      I absolutely blame him for his reaction to that situation. A professional script editor would pull his socks up and make the best of the situation – seeking to squeeze the best out of the bad scripts, to support the chosen aesthetic direction of the producer despite not agreeing with it, and doing what was possible to support the present Doctor in the role despite any reservations.

      Instead, Saward has all but admitted to sandbagging the show. And he gave as good as he got when it came to penning substandard stories. And he has continued to pointlessly snipe at Colin Baker to this day, even after the audios have shown what Colin can do when he doesn’t have the albatross around his neck of a core production staff member who fundamentally doesn’t believe he can do the job.

      Reply

  22. John Anderson
    March 13, 2024 @ 4:07 pm

    This episode completes the circle to Open Air; Chibnall has waited 30 years to create a version of Doctor Who that channels most closely the one he went on BBC1 to criticise. The mind boggles

    Reply

  23. Madeline Jones
    March 13, 2024 @ 11:15 pm

    Coming up with names for The Battle of Rancid Avocados has been immensely more fun than watching most of these episodes.

    Reply

  24. prandeamus
    March 15, 2024 @ 4:56 pm

    Look, I’m with you on all this “Battle of Randall and Hopkirk” stuff. But since when we decide “The Wedding of River Song” was some sort of omnishambles? I did not get that memo.

    More seriously, if I can even use that term on a day where twitter is exploding because of the new series will “drop” at midnight, it’s pretty anachronistic to talk about a series finale in Classic Who. Armageddon Factor, I suppose. Those episodes which coincided with change of Doctor. I remember “The Daemons” or “Invasion of Time” as just the last episode in this series.

    All that said, the Bottle of Rusks and Biscuits is not good.

    Reply

  25. Jake
    March 17, 2024 @ 11:16 am

    Highly recommend checking out the script for this episode, if you can stand it. The version on the BBC Script Lab (link below) is an absolute mess. Sentences stop halfway through, everyone’s talking like a robot and some lines are so full of misspellings and missing words that they become completely inscrutable. The whole thing is a mess, even more so than the obviously flawed first draft for The Pilot, also available on the Script Lab website.

    According to the 2022 interview Elizabeth references above Chibnall called this script a first draft, but the script on Script Lab made it to Yellow Revisions. The idea that multiple revisions were made and yet lines like “Ranskoor Av Kolos is Stenza’s home planet so how can that be Tim Shaw?” or “Then what us he here?” still made it through is just astonishing. Like, ok, I get that a second draft and a revised first draft are two different things, but surely clarifying what a line is supposed to be for the sake of your actors/director/editor should still be a priority, right? What happened here??

    (Link to Script Lab: https://www.bbc.co.uk/writers/documents/doctor-who-s11-ep10-uk-versionwip.pdf)

    Reply

    • PensiveHastur
      March 17, 2024 @ 11:38 am

      la samah allah, I think that Chibnall might actually have outsourced the writing of this episode to a chatbot.

      Reply

  26. TimJ
    March 25, 2024 @ 9:38 am

    I’d also love to hear more about the theories regarding why this script feels like a first draft – I keep hearing rumours about behind the scenes chaos during the Chibnall era, or fights between him having an actual vision and the BBC enforcing a completely different version of the show on him, but these are never that well sourced or attributed and also end up resembling hearsay or gossip.

    Where is the information coming from exactly?

    Reply

    • Einarr
      March 26, 2024 @ 6:35 pm

      Chibnall said in his big 2022 “leaving the show” DWM interview that this story was more or less a first draft because he’d spent lots of time polishing up / editing guest writers’ stories that season so didn’t have enough time to work on the finale. However, the draft uploaded to the BBC Writers’ Room Script Library indicates he must be generalising, because the industry language used there to label the drafts indicated it had already been through several revisions.

      As to BTS drama… well, that is mostly going to be industry gossip at this point, because those involved are unlikely to come out and actively document what went wrong. We have a few concrete sources here and there, such as Wayne Yip opening up to fans at a convention about his frustrations filming “Resolution”, or Sacha Dhawan’s anecdote about not being given any prep time for his Tecteun monologue.

      Reply

  27. Narsham
    March 25, 2024 @ 7:36 pm

    After a very long think, I believe I’ve found a potential approach to the Chibnall years.

    To paraphrase from somewhere: About 8 years ago, on a nameless program that no longer exists, televisual evolution went up a blind alley. Natural programmatic selection turned back on itself, and a series evolved which prospered by absorbing the energy wavelengths of entertainment itself. It ate stories, all stories, including those which it produced itself.

    The natural outcome of this procedure was the series entirely consuming itself, eating away most of the universe but in a fashion which rendered that destruction meaningless, having Time itself appear to say something completely meaningless, and then concluding with three stories. The first keeps going wrong but somehow manages enough revisions to work, if only just. The second claims to be a story about two things, one of which barely appears and the other of which appears but fails to function in an “even the effects don’t fail entertainingly any more” kind of way. And in the last, the old show must die, and the new show discovers to its inexpressible joy that it has never existed.

    Fortunately, in 2023, a visionary producer/writer by the name of Russell T. Davies somehow managed to restart a television program with a rich history which looked like it would never be able to continue.

    Reply

  28. Andy Griffiths
    June 13, 2024 @ 4:59 am

    The “Battle of Rancid Avocados” probably made me smile more than anything in the entire Chibnall era. I salute you for enduring it again for the sake of the Eruditorum, I’m not sure I have enough time left on this planet to waste watching it again myself.

    My partner had not seen much of Capaldi, so over the past few months we’ve watched it, finishing with his last three episodes yesterday. And for all one might say about Moffat being past his peak by the end, it was still interesting and entertaining television, even pretty moving at times. Seeing it again knowing what would follow almost made me weep.

    Reply

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