Sneakily taking the hinges off the doors of perception

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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.


  1. landru
    May 9, 2011 @ 8:09 am

    "… normally the second story is the one where we get to see what the new status quo is going to be. The Silurians tells us that the show is going to be about the Doctor butting heads with UNIT even as he helps them. The Ark in Space tells us that we're going to see a lot of gothic horror. Four to Doomsday tells us that we're going to see a lot of sloppily plotted violence. Attack of the Cybermen tells us that we're going to see a lot of fanwank alongside sloppily plotted violence."

    … and Paradise Towers tells us the show isn't being taken seriously by anyone and is doomed …


  2. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 9, 2011 @ 8:10 am

    Heh. The Paradise Towers entry will come, and will be…



  3. landru
    May 9, 2011 @ 8:20 am

    Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying this blog. I don't always agree with it.


  4. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 9, 2011 @ 8:22 am

    Oh, I didn't think you were complaining.

    The short form is that I do think Paradise Towers, despite being a deeply flawed story, does an awful lot to advance what Doctor Who is. It doesn't quite succeed at getting where it's trying to go, but it sets a new destination, and later stories do follow more successfully.


  5. landru
    May 9, 2011 @ 8:32 am

    I think you've missed a trick with this review. Peter Watkins' film "Culloden" had been broadcast and won many awards. (I'll just send you here Since you are very into television historical context, I would have thought it might be partially obvious to you that Doctor Who might be choosing a safe history that had already shown the full horrors of the battle and the aftermath … as well as being technically revolutionary in modern film style … ie, the Highlanders is a perfect, though backward reflection of the quite horrific documentary in the style of Doctor Who.

    Just a thought …


  6. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 9, 2011 @ 8:37 am

    I knew about Culloden. And yeah, its inspiration is clear. I skipped it because I was at 3000 words without it, and it didn't seem to contradict my reading so much as add another detail. Since I was coming off a stretch where I was mixing non-TV based entries very heavily, I wanted to spare yet another lengthy study of another piece of television, especially when my end conclusions would have amounted to "But even still, what we have is a refusal to do what The Smugglers and The Gunfighters do in romping around the tropes of the genre – instead, the Doctor explicitly flits around the edges of the iconic portrayal of the time period and parodies it."

    To my mind, the Culloden connection is basically that The Highlanders is the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead to Culloden's Hamlet. Which is true, but what's significant about The Highlanders is less what it is that it has its strange relationship to and more that it is taking a strange, parodic meta-textual approach to history in the first place.


  7. landru
    May 9, 2011 @ 8:54 am

    OK – as long as you thought about it. And, no one wants you to get carpal tunnel syndrome over a blog.

    I just don't agree. I'd say it is the Doctor Who to Colluden, which seems to be the overall point you wish to make. Doctor Who isn't something else, it is unique. Keep the SAT analogies out of it. I agree they didn't know what they were doing with Troughton (or more simply, HE didn't know what he was doing yet), but I don't agree the script was as confused as you believe. I think it would have been less goofy with Hartnell, but I don't think it would have been anything but a comedy … because of Peter Watkins. In fact, his film makes me appreciate The Highlanders because I know they clearly had it in mind (and the audience at large) when they did it. It's probably the only reason they did it.

    I also disagree with your analysis of the historical stories in general. I like the Reign of Terror and dislike … I don't "hate" any Doctor Who stories … The Gunfighters (just saw them again, so its not a memory or fandom thing.)

    The problem with historicals is really what you do with them and how you want them to be. How should the Doctor react? What is the nature of the storytelling? How does that fit into the time period the story is told?

    I find the analysis here well-worth the read and I can't help but agree on many points (especially your Chase "story collapse" theory.) I just find that you might be as biased as the next fan.


  8. wwhyte
    July 23, 2011 @ 5:43 pm

    I'm looking forward to your Paradise Towers entry too! I recently rewatched it and it makes a lot more sense in the middle of a run of Hartnells than it did right after Trial of a Time Lord. It feels more like improv theatre than television in a lot of ways.


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