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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. Jamez V
    May 20, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

    You don't need to convince me. I ADORE Tomb of the Cybermen, and find it to be one of the most consistently watchable Who stories ever. Troughton is magical and it features my favorite iteration of Cybermen. Probably my favorite story of the whole 1960s.


  2. Anton
    May 20, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

    Nice to be able to put a voice to the ideas. More vidblogs please. As a drama teacher I was very impressed with your breakdown of both Troughton and Smith's techniques. I think Troughton was the first to define the character of 'The Doctor' as totally (and I think uniquely in drama) reliant on the actor's creative decisions. Thus opening up the role to each actor's interpretation until we get to Smith's brilliantly post-modern (and I suspect instinctively) fractal approach. In essence – A little bit of all the Doctors goes a long way.


  3. Elkins
    May 20, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

    A spectacular entry, and also truly, genuinely funny in places. I don't often actually literally laugh out loud while on the computer, but a few of your phrasings here made me do so.

    I'm particularly enjoying the fandom reception history you're outlining here. It's a relief to finally understand where so many of those 'common wisdoms' came from in the first place.

    I'm sure the video blogs are quite time-intensive, but more of them would be wonderful. You did a terrific job with this one. My eye is not very well-trained to notice the nuances of actors' performances, not on any conscious level anyway; this helped a great deal. The clips you chose worked well to illustrate your points, points which I think would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to make purely verbally. Well done.


  4. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 21, 2011 @ 8:54 am

    I enjoy the video blogs, and they're not a heck of a lot of trouble. Mainly it's a matter of picking things where they're actually preferable to text. It has to be something that's specifically about camera angles, blocking, acting, or something else visual. It also has to be something that can be done in a relatively short clip.

    In practice, this means they'll increase later in the blog. I don't think, other than the very first episode, that there's any Hartnell episodes I could have video blogged. The nature of the acting and filming meant that there just weren't many scenes with a high concentration of incidents worth commenting on. Once 2005 hits and the show is made by people with non-linear editing programs, on the other hand, I'm not sure there's any episodes I can't videoblog. (Not that I will videoblog every new series episode – just that I could.)

    Until then… well, there is a basic film studies lecture to be had about Laura Mulvey and the Ice Warriors, as I said. 😉


  5. Elkins
    May 21, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

    Oh, sure. No need for video where text will do. Since it was your first, I just wanted to let you know that the experiment was quite a success. 🙂


  6. Guy Incognito
    May 22, 2011 @ 5:59 am

    Nice job on the video! I'll definitely be watching for future installments.


  7. Wm Keith
    May 23, 2011 @ 1:57 am

    You're saying that Innes Lloyd took a progressive series and converted it into binary notation, taking the sum of the integrates and expressing the result as a Power series?


  8. Chris
    May 23, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

    If you're going to reference old Mummy movies, but with a sci-fi twist, then you need as many visual cues to Egyptology as you can. And an international cast is one of those cues – the rival colonial powers looting the ancient relics of a foreign kingdom, employing or enslaving Africans as they go.

    And once you've got that setup, it can't hurt to throw in a quick parable about Africans throwing off the shackles of slavery, albeit at great cost.

    I think it's more lazy than xenophobic.


  9. landru
    June 8, 2011 @ 10:05 am

    First of all, I never saw the Troughton influence on Matt Smith until this video blog. It instantly elevated Matt's performance in my eyes (and I already thought he was in the top 3 best Doctors, including Troughton.) How he was able to digest some of these techniques is quite a testament to acting ability and knowledge. I was also very enlightened about Troughton himself.

    The problem of Toberman. Yes, the black mute is definitely a cliche and his redemption through sacrifice is his entire purpose in the story. I can see that it might be racist in Britain (Colonial native sacrificing himself for his betters … it is a bit Kipling, isn’t it), but in the U.S. there would be very few chances in that day and age to see a man of color presented as noble. However, that argument is silly … since it wasn't shown on PBS until 1992.

    I do love this story and eagerly await a rerelease with vidFIRE in the US. (vidFIRE, a technique I also love … and only a Doctor Who fan would think of … I'd like to see a Matt Smith episode vidFIRE'd …) Yes, the plot and the all the rest don’t work, but what does work … or remains in the mind … is the incredible imagination of the episode. It is filled with moments. The moments may or may not make the story work as a whole, but they definitely fill it with enough to have provided some rich memories. And, like the Tenth Planet, I do still like it when I see it again.


  10. Heather
    July 12, 2011 @ 8:34 am

    Very interesting that Troughton's influence on Matt Smith's Doctor gets its first major mention here. As I was watching this episode (before I read this entry), I actually noted how much I was reminded of Smith. It hit me more strongly on one of Troughton's quick thinking, quick talking moments that Smith's Doctor does so often and so well, but now with your video comparison, I definitely see much more resemblance in their performances. Smith has done an excellent job taking inspiration from Troughton rather than trying to copy his performances.

    In a comment to a previous entry (for Planet of Giants), you had mentioned that this was one of the episodes where the series takes a huge leap forward in quality. Now that I've watched it and all the episodes leading up to it, I'm curious to know what exactly you meant by that. I had hoped you'd cover it in your article above. If you did, I missed it. I know it's hard to compare because this is one of the few surviving serials compared to many preceding it. Nothing of major note jumped out at me as being such an improvement, so I was hoping you could expound on what you meant when you wrote that.


  11. Elizabeth Sandifer
    July 12, 2011 @ 8:36 am

    I can't, honestly. I deleted that claim from the Planet of Giants essay when I revised it for the book, having discovered my memory of this story was far superior to the actual story. The leap forward I knew happened somewhere in the Troughton era in fact occurred with Power of the Daleks.


  12. Heather
    July 15, 2011 @ 7:00 am

    Power of the Daleks makes much more sense. I feared I was frightfully obtuse to be unable to pick up on the great leap forward in quality one should see in Tomb of the Cybermen. I'm glad to know that's not the case. Thank you.


  13. 7a1abfde-af0e-11e0-b72c-000bcdcb5194
    July 16, 2011 @ 9:15 pm

    Do we know what ethnicity the characters Klieg and Toberman were scripted as? Because the names actually suggest German characters.

    As for Kaftan, it's a middle eastern word, but also a Russian word.

    Klieg also strikes me as a a precursor to the Master — and in some scenes, with some of his facial expressions, to Simm's Master. Of course it helps that he keeps calling himself "Master."


  14. TheEditor
    November 23, 2011 @ 8:08 pm

    Interesting to note you became tired of Jamie at about the same point that Sue (over at Wife in Space) later became.


  15. orfeo
    February 15, 2013 @ 10:58 pm

    Oh wow, where to start…

    After not being entirely convinced on your views on The Celestial Toymaker, the racism is flagrant here. And what makes it astonishing is the discovery that the role of Kaftan was specifically written for the actress… who was married to Peter Bryant, the incoming producer! Why yes, I'll sign off on implying my wife is not to be trusted on account of her skin colour.

    One thing that bugs me, though, whether it's your analysis or anyone else's, is describing this as a 'base under siege' story. The definition of 'base' must be tremendously loose, then, if it applies to 'a room we walked into a couple of hours ago and the attackers are actually the ones who belong here'.

    As to the quality of the show as a whole, while the script deserves criticism, there's also the performances. Some of the actors are atrocious. Troughton is good, Watling is fun with her bits of dialogue designed to be against the image of her as a pretty piece of Victoriana… and I found myself fervently hoping some other characters would die to get them off the screen. Sadly, in some cases this failed to occur.


  16. Luke Elliot
    April 30, 2013 @ 9:27 am

    Toberman ends up "saving the day" at the end, so he is a racist because…..he's mute? That's like saying Oddjobs racist in Goldfinger (he's a korean mute manservent who loves killing


  17. Ross
    April 30, 2013 @ 9:35 am

    The character is a racist depiction because he is a word-for-word lift from the Big Book of Stereotype Black Characters. The fact that the character is heroic doesn't negate the racism any more than saying you're dressed up as Martin Luther King Jr makes it okay to go to a halloween party in blackface.


  18. Andrew Holliday
    November 10, 2022 @ 9:59 pm

    The weird thing about the racism in Tomb of the Cybermen in 1967 is that no one noticed it at the time – because its racism was to employ as cyphers the same racist stereotypes being employed holus-bolus across TV shows of the era.

    The other weird thing about the racism in Tomb of the Cybermen is that, for exactly the same reasons it was racist in 1967 (but un-noticed) it ISN’T racist now. Show it to a new viewer, out of its historical context (as a DW story on its own) – and those stereotype cyphers aren’t there anymore – the audience today has to be aware of those stereotypes and cliches in order to see them – without that information, without that context, they’re no longer there. You have to know the racist context of its time to see it there now – without that contextual reinforcement all you have are individual characters (Kaftan, Klieg and Toberman) with specific, individual characteristics, relationships, and the behaviour that follows from them.

    Which leaves us in an even weirder place, as the new orthodoxy in fandom – that Tomb is ‘(one of) the racist one(s)’, has become as unwarranted, within the DW bubble, as the pre 1992 orthodoxy that it was pretty much a faultless classic. Both views now tell us more about its audience, their values, prejudices and expectations, than they do about the program itself.

    Of course, the plot-holes are another matter…


  19. Aquanafrahudy
    December 2, 2023 @ 5:03 pm

    Where’s the video blog gone?


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