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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.

9 Comments

  1. Steve Hogan
    October 14, 2011 @ 3:44 am

    Nice call on the schizoid nature of the Duke of Forgill zygon. It did seem at times that he forgot he wasn't really the Duke, but maybe that's to be expected from aliens who insist on measuring everything in "Earth miles". Those squiddy guys are overdue for a reappearance on the new show, and it was a tease when they got name checked without appearing. (The new show has already shown it can do much better tyrannosaurs, so the skarasen is due for a redemption.)

    I should note that you may get blowback on the contention that the monster was "Explicitly" attacking Margaret Thatcher. A lot of sources contend that the female P.M. was intended to be Shirley Williams of the Labour Party. (It is more fun to imagine Thatcher though. Imagine the tough time the skarasen would have chewing her.)

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  2. inkdestroyedmybrush
    October 14, 2011 @ 9:26 am

    And one of the most blatant critiques of the villian's typically implausible plans, the six Zygons ruling the planet is dismissed with Baker's line laugh about their numbers, and them having to go out on the balcony every now and then and wave a tentacle. It made the standard Doctor Who plot, in about 10 seconds, seem simply idiotic. (Something conveniently forgotten in Logopolis when the Master is somehow supposed to be chatting up the entire universe with his demands.)

    It shows us, especially following up on Genesis, that Doctor Who villans can aspire to more, that the monsters can become more monstrous in their aims and intentions with better writing, and better villians mean better antagonists for the Doctor.

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  3. William Whyte
    October 16, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

    Hmmm. It seems that here you're walking that dangerous line where postmodernism meets so-bad-it's-goodism, and on the other side of that line lies an ability to excuse anything. You can look on Terror of the Zygons as being a critique of Pertweeism where everyone's on their A-game, or you can look on it as an attempt to fill time by doing a Pertwee pastiche because that's easy, without the (admittedly somewhat superficial) commitment to raising social issues that the Pertwee era had at its best. I've only watched it once in recent years so I might be misremembering but I tend to go for answer (b). It must count for something, regarding the richness of this story, that you only have three responses so far. Even the Sontaran Experiment did better.

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  4. 5tephe
    October 16, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

    Well, I for one have only refrained from commenting on these last few entries due to lack of time.

    Baker is my first real doctor – in the late seventies / early eighties when I was just the right age for behind-the-couch credulism (5 through 7) I first started seeing Doctor Who on the ABC here in Australia. It was on every weeknight, sandwiched between The Goodies and the National News, and that made it prime time family viewing, every night.

    Because they were showing it so often, they often did repeats, and loops back to earlier eras, so most of my memories are of Baker and Pertwee.

    And I have to agree with a vast amount of what Philip is saying here and in earlier entries. Certainly, the miner's strikes and the later aspects of Thatcherism weren't part of our political scene, and as a young boy I wouldn't have been aware of them anyway, but he is actually going a long way to explain some things I "felt" about the show, but have never analysed.

    Certainly, Pertwee's aristocratic allegiance and the ethical issues around class and women were always something that bugged me – they just felt like bum note in what was otherwise my favourite show.

    The Baker era's brazen optimism, and joie de vivre rarely gave me any such pause, and watching them again through Phil's lens has certainly let me understand why I always preferred the madman with the scarf.

    And I have to side with Phil more than you William on this one. Once pointed out most of the critiques are staringly clear, even if some of them are just Phil reading the episodes sympathetically, as usual.

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  5. Wm Keith
    October 17, 2011 @ 2:32 am

    Really, Phil, Christopher Cross may be a well-known sailor on your side of the Atlantic, but…

    In order to fully comprehend the psychochronography of 1970s Britain, you need to spend a fortnight listening to nothing – nothing – but Rod Stewart's "I am" bloody "Sailing". Perhaps with Wings' "Mull of Kintyre" thrown in a few times each hour for variety.

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  6. Elizabeth Sandifer
    October 17, 2011 @ 6:57 am

    I'm loathe to treat number of comments as a very good indicator – other unusually low comment stories, after all, include Planet of the Spiders and The Green Death. No, mostly the number of comments I get seems to be a direct factor of whether or not I vocally and angrily trash the politics of a given story.

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  7. Wm Keith
    October 18, 2011 @ 12:28 am

    Actually, having prompted myself to look up the video of "Mull of Kintyre" on youtube, I realise that it is a completely serious example of the Tartan Scotland which "Terror of the Zygons" sends up so well (at least, in its opening ten minutes, which is all that I've watched lately).

    The next trip to contemporary Earth, "The Android Invasion", plays the same story out in a completely straight-faced, straitlaced manner. It's Zygons by numbers, with an unthinking belief in the existence and in the rightness of the rural idyll which it presents to us. Television drama made by aliens who can replicate the "how" but not the "why", in which the height of excitement is watching Sarah pretend to be asleep.

    "The Green Death" was, I think, trying earnestly to represent what its creators saw as being a real aspect of Wales, whereas "Terror of the Zygons" takes place in a Scotland which must surely border on the fantasy England of "The Avengers". I'm of Welsh descent, and find "The Green Death" extremely patronising. I'm not sure that a Scot would say the same about "Zygons".

    One final point about this story which I don't think has been mentioned here – the Zygons are perhaps the best-remembered one-off monsters of the entire 50-year series. Apart from highlighting the fact that this era of the show just didn't like "returning monsters" – because, essentially, it wasn't about monsters at this point in its existence, it's a tribute to the costume design and to the quality of the story as both a simple adventure and a summation of what had gone before.

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  8. Henry R. Kujawa
    April 2, 2012 @ 5:58 pm

    2 in a row for me. I liked "REVENGE OF THE CYBERMEN". But since I first saw it, I've always loved "TERROR OF THE ZYGONS". Earth, UNIT, the Brigadier, Baker, and Sarah, somehow prettier than ever, and more importantly, NICER as well. Note how well she gets along with Harry this time. She's very concerned when he's hurt, and almost hugs him later on. Yes, THIS is the girl I had so many fantasies about (and over the years, even some very vivid dreams while I was asleep!).

    I realize these days the "Tibetan Monk" was probably Kam-Po. You know, I would have thought Stewart did "CASTLE DE'ATH" on THE AVENGERS, but, no, that was John Lucarotti. The Zygons are FABULOUSLY designed, and Broton is fascinating. John Woodnutt was great in both roles– and I can see, reading your post, he was virtually playing 3. I never thought much about Baker making commentary on the show itself, I just thought he was NUTS. Always mocking the military, the government, social levels, and of course, megalomaniacs. "Social call?" "Isn't it a bit big just for the six of you?"

    I'm surprised you didn't mention this (but perhaps I shouldn't be, it NEVER occured to me until I was watching it again just now), but this feels like it could have been the 3rd "Silurians" story. Alien race, killing and destroying, bent on conquering the Earth. The difference? NONE of this "Let's make peace and be friends", and getting pissed off at the Brig for blowing them up. NO! Instead… "Was that bang big enough for you, Brigadier?"

    At the IMDB boards, someone went on at great length about how "WARRIORS OF THE DEEP" was not only the worst WHO story in history, but how pointless it was to bring back monsters whose story had already been "finished", without even bothering to have a NEW story for them. That might have worked better if it had the rest of the Zygons, finally having arrived here.

    As for where this fits in the schedule, it's so OBVIOUSLY designed to finish Season 12, I just pretend that it DOES. The Doctor, Harry & Sarah left at the end of "ROBOT", they return here. In between Sarah's gotten to know The Doctor all over again, and finally stopped treating Harry like crap. And it looks like The Brig may finally come to terms with having to deal with future problems on his own.

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  9. William Silvia
    June 9, 2014 @ 5:22 pm

    As I'm reading this, I have to hope that the Zygons' return was everything Steve hoped for.

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