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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. Darren K.
    August 6, 2013 @ 12:30 am

    Let's get the guessing over with: if Robert Holmes is the third best Doctor Who writer, that must mean the better two are … Douglas Adams and David Whitaker?

    And I had never seen "How Many Nimons Have You Seen Today" before. The world is now a better place.


  2. elvwood
    August 6, 2013 @ 1:07 am

    Mostly not too far off my own scores, though with lot of minor juggling and a few wildly different opinions. It's always interesting to see your thinking, anyway. And as a teen I jumped ship with The Invisible Enemy, so I'm glad to see it get your lowest rating!

    One thing that sprang to mind: how would the Key to Time season have been if they'd swapped authors on the last two? The Bristol Boys would probably have turned in a decent script given the brief of "biggest monster ever" – it's more up their street – and Robert Holmes might have been a bit more enthused if he'd been given the chance to finish off what he started. Ah, to live in that contrafactual world!


  3. Nyq Only
    August 6, 2013 @ 2:04 am

    All review ratings on anything have been forever spoiled by this program


  4. Multiple Ducks
    August 6, 2013 @ 2:48 am

    So glad someone else loves that show, though that [Citation Needed] note about changing the format for a new season is a little worrying.


  5. Arkadin
    August 6, 2013 @ 3:51 am

    "To modern taste, it’s Doctor Who invading Game of Thrones." Not enough gratuitous nudity.


  6. David Thiel
    August 6, 2013 @ 4:09 am

    I don't think that I'm quite ready for the world in which "The Seeds of Doom" is a 3 and "Full Circle" is an 8. "Seeds" is grim, but the reason that it works so well is that, like "Pyramids of Mars," the threat is very credible. It's not about inept villains and puffed-up bureaucrats being easily outfoxed by a genius Time Lord. It's one of the most terrifying "Who" monsters ever, paired with one of the series' creepiest human foes.


  7. Nick Smale
    August 6, 2013 @ 4:21 am

    Googling Robots of Dawn reveals the remarkable fact that Asimov has written a third Elijah Bailey novel! Admittedly it seems that he wrote it in 1983, but as I read the first two in the '70s, in my mind it counts as a 'new' one…


  8. encyclops
    August 6, 2013 @ 4:30 am

    I struggle mightily not to admit it, but for me "Ribos" and the magnificent "Stones of Blood" are the only watchable portions of the Key to Time series. I find "Tara" gloomy and tedious, "Kroll" underrated but headachy, "Armageddon" exactly what you say it is (though the Shadow is surprisingly creepy even today). As for "Pirate Planet," from the moment the Captain begins shouting, I want to turn it off. It has its moments, many involving Romana, but there's so much to wade through to get there.

    About much of the rest of this I shockingly agree give or take a few points, though I'm pro-"Seeds" and "Fendahl," and I even love the end of "Pyramids" and the beginning of "Leisure Hive."

    As usual, I really enjoy this non-review blog. And am in great suspense about what you're going to say about "Runaway Bride" if you ever decide to say anything. πŸ™‚


  9. Ewa Woowa
    August 6, 2013 @ 4:46 am

    Even though I am old enough to remember, I think we still forget what it was like to watch DrWho in the old fashioned "once a week and no DVD's" way…
    Imagine watching the Key to Time in real-time.
    Good one… S**** one, S*** one, Good one… S*** one, S*** long one…


  10. Ross
    August 6, 2013 @ 5:15 am

    If you experienced the Hinchcliffe era as a child, there’s a moment in your life when you realize that Noah’s “alien arm" is just bubble wrap that’s been painted green.

    Everyone mentions the bubble wrap. No one ever points out that Nerva is quite clearly a hypodermic syringe wearing a donut.


  11. Jesse
    August 6, 2013 @ 6:07 am

    So which one gets Best In Show?


  12. encyclops
    August 6, 2013 @ 6:26 am

    I was too young and in the wrong country, so I can't forget what I've never remembered. πŸ™‚ But it seems like it's almost worse now, because you know what's coming. Presumably back in the day you had no idea that after "Stones of Blood" it was downhill for, what, 16 weeks straight? And yes, I am trying to ignore that you got the second "Good one" in the wrong place. πŸ˜‰


  13. Pierce Inverarity
    August 6, 2013 @ 6:48 am

    Looking back, I feel lucky that I had such an abundance of Doctor Who growing up – an episode every night Monday-Friday on one PBS station, and a full omnibus story on Saturday from another. It meant that even the relatively lousy stretches flew by, and that a missed episode could be caught the next time around, usually in a matter of months.

    Anyway, it's good to see such high regard for the fourth Doctor's final season. I remember being utterly floored by everything from Full Circle onward, and it's still my favorite run from the original series.


  14. Ununnilium
    August 6, 2013 @ 8:57 am

    He actually wrote a fourth, Robots and Empire.

    IMHO, the third one is a rather poor attempt at tying the first two into the Foundation timeline, but it introduces some interesting characters and concepts that the fourth one takes and runs with gleefully. (Even if it does somehow think that Three Mile Island was a horrifying tragedy.)


  15. Josh Marsfelder
    August 6, 2013 @ 10:25 am

    "The Horns of Nimon: Graham Crowden redeems a generic and unambitious script by eating it and the scenery. This still does not constitute good television, tragically, because the script is utter drek, trying for clever with no additional virtues and not nearly as much cleverness as it assumes it has."

    No, but it is, however, profoundly entertaining, and Lalla Ward is gangbusters. I give it an 11/10.


  16. Marionette
    August 6, 2013 @ 5:33 pm

    I just rewatched The Face of Evil, and while I enjoyed it, I couldn't help wondering how the Sevateam and the Tesh had managed to survive so long when they only had one woman between them.


  17. Sean Daugherty
    August 6, 2013 @ 8:41 pm

    I can't disagree with most of this, although I'd rate Seeds of Doom quite a bit higher, and Robots of Death quite a bit lower. But you and Lawrence Miles are the only people I've ever read who share my opinion that Logopolis is a masterpiece, and that goes a long way.


  18. Ross
    August 6, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

    What's ironic is that Logopolis is so darned good, and yet it contains what I think is the mortal sin for which the classic series eventually dies (That bit where, having murdered her stepmother and her father, The master through his machinations genocides Nyssa's entire race, and the only reaction we ever get out of anyone is dull surprise.)


  19. encyclops
    August 6, 2013 @ 9:01 pm

    I absolutely ADORED it as a kid. The Nimon are no more convincing than green bubble wrap but they look so strange and distinctive, and move so oddly, that they're utterly compelling in their own way (see also "Menoptera"). I felt a bit for Crinoth, and yes, Lalla is utterly on point. These days I can see why it's not rated highly, but I snatched up the DVD the minute I could, and I treasure it.


  20. encyclops
    August 6, 2013 @ 9:05 pm

    I love "Seeds," "Robots," and "Logopolis." When I was a kid the stories comprised by the "New Beginnings" box set were just the zenith of Doctor Who drama for me.


  21. Iain Coleman
    August 7, 2013 @ 1:50 am

    Ward is generally splendid, of course, but in Horns of Nimon she basically holds the entire show together, preventing the fission that would otherwise result from the critical mass of Crowden and Baker.

    She demonstrates beyond any doubt that a female Doctor could work – and yet here we are, over 30 years later, still debating it.


  22. encyclops
    August 7, 2013 @ 7:19 am

    Word x 10000.


  23. David Jones
    August 7, 2013 @ 10:29 am

    It's quite difficult to really trash any of Tom's stories. Even 1/10 for K9's first outing seems a bit harsh as John Leeson was excellent.. Underworld would get the lowest mark for me.
    I also think that Seeds of Doom was a classic, though probably would have been improved had they been able to get the Brig or a few other Unit regulars back. It was a story that harked back to the Pertwee era, which I quite liked Tom's take on.

    Also. I think you need to just ignore the casual racism in Talons and give it a 9/10. It's such a good story and you just have to excuse the 70s sometimes. Attitudes were different and you really have to take that into account, however wrong it feels.


  24. Doctor Memory
    August 7, 2013 @ 11:57 am

    There were people alive and producing art in the 1970s who got this sort of thing right. There is no reason whatsoever to give a pass to the ones who got it completely wrong just because there were more of them.


  25. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 7, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

    Beyond that, it was the 70s, but its not anymore. I'm not watching Talons of Weng-Chiang in the 70s, nor will I ever. All of these reviews are by the standards of "how satisfying is it to put this on and watch it for fun," assuming an audience for whom historical television is fun and interesting. Which is to say, I review for the present day, which is, after all, the only day in which Talons will ever be watched again.

    A DVD I'd have to hide in embarrassment if anyone of East Asian descent came to my house presents some particular problems in this regard.


  26. David Jones
    August 7, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

    I suppose if we are viewing programmes with today's attitudes that is fine, but I'd always consider the era that the programmes/stories were written/produced.

    Probably a bad example, but some of the Children's literature of the 40's, which my Dad kept had characters that included Little Black Sambo. It is obviously wrong now, but back then was just a kiddy character.
    A difficult one really.


  27. encyclops
    August 7, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

    I showed my girlfriend of Mexican descent "The Aztecs" and she found it pretty racist as well. Frankly, I could see her point. I'm not sure whether it's more racist than "Talons" or less, but I'm also not sure whether, as a white guy, I'm completely qualified to judge. It feels less racist to me — at least it seems to be trying sincerely to depict a foreign and ancient culture, even if it has to use a sneering moustache-twirling villain in brownface and a singular preoccupation with human sacrifice to do it, but then it also seems to be explicitly trying to represent an entire culture rather than a small, fictitious gang.

    If, from your point of view, "Talons" loses up to 5 points for racism but "Aztecs" loses no more than 1, that's up to you. Maybe it depends on who typically comes to your house?

    I suppose ultimately the blame for all this goes to Bob Holmes, who could just have stopped at Sherlock Holmes, Jack the Ripper, and Phantom of the Opera without throwing in Fu Manchu as well. Which reminds me, I'm looking forward to your discussion of The League of Highbrow Fanfiction. πŸ˜‰


  28. paulamoore
    August 9, 2013 @ 4:20 am

    As I believe others have pointed out, it's unlikely Boucher was influenced by Robots of Dawn, given that it was published in the 1980s. Chris Boucher is good, but he's not psychic.


  29. Seeing_I
    August 26, 2013 @ 9:15 am

    That's the thing about gratuitous nudity – there never IS enough.


  30. doknowbutchie
    September 5, 2013 @ 9:34 am

    'llo, everyone. I've just stumbled on this site after finding a link to the "Shakespeare Code" review on Tumblr, and I've found that I rather like this place.

    I recently saw "The Pyramids of Mars" for the first time–making it my third Fourth Doctor serial–and found it to be rather underwhelming, given the esteem it's generally treated with. Even if we set aside the problematic depictions of Middle Eastern people, in the end, the things it was interested in were not the things I was interested in, and the things I was interested in were in short supply. It's left me fearful that I might not enjoy the other good stories in that era, and has left me with a question: which of the stories here would you say are good because they're like "Pyramids of Mars", and which are good because they're like "City of Death"?


  31. Unknown
    July 6, 2014 @ 5:40 pm

    What's the other story with a perfectly-working Ainley Master? Survival?


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