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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. Daibhid C
    September 30, 2013 @ 12:54 am

    in its omnibus format it’s a messy and trashy story with little purpose, whereas one suspects that as a three month serial of mini episodes it’s actually reasonably fun and probably the high point of a given episode of Totally Doctor Who.

    I can confirm this; I used to put Totally Doctor Who on and then read a book and ignore it as much as possible until The Infinite Quest started. And once Infinite Quest was over, I'd switch off.


  2. John Binns
    September 30, 2013 @ 2:05 am

    In the general spirit of taking into account how programmes were watched, I'm willing to stick my neck out and say that I rather enjoyed Totally Doctor Who, watching it as I did on lazy Sunday mornings (I think) as an undemanding accompaniment to a slow breakfast. Certainly I was more inclined to watch that than Confidential, particularly so as the latter was screened on Saturday evenings directly after the episodes they were regurgitating.


  3. Nick Smale
    September 30, 2013 @ 2:32 am

    between DVD sales, Netflix, broadcast outside of the UK, and good old-fashioned piracy I would wager that substantially more people have seen Blink since June 9th, 2007 than watched it on the day.

    According to the Nerd Cubed interview with Steven Moffat that was released last week, each episode has an eventual audience of 70 million people. 70 million. The BBC1 audience is, as they say, just the tip of a very large iceberg.


  4. brownstudy
    September 30, 2013 @ 3:11 am

    As far as the mess goes, I like Neil Gaiman's metaphor of literature being a giant soup pot. He'll ladle out some soup with bits from Tolkien and Baum and then, when he's made his soup, he'll pour it back into the pot, where Rowling will ladle some out for her soup. All these forms and flavors of Doctor Who are part of the stew and they'll inevitably affect each other, while some bits will be indigestible and sink to the bottom of the pot.


  5. Deep Space Transmissions
    September 30, 2013 @ 3:14 am

    You touch on an interesting point here about archiving and how – even in this era where fanciful claims with concrete dates are bandied around about the internet containing all of human culture by year x – there is still stuff that slips through the cracks. Stuff from not that long ago that doesn't seem to be preserved anywhere, in some cases only publicly (as with Totally Doctor Who – presumably the BBC have archived the actual episodes), in others that there doesn't seem to be any sign of it at all.

    As you might imagine, I spend a lot of time trying to track down obscure Grant Morrison stuff and there's good portion of it that seems to have disappeared into the ether, maybe forever. Interviews hosted on websites that opt themselves out of the Internet Archive; podcasts or internet videos where the actual file has long gone but links and discussion of it remain, mp3's uploaded to MySpace pages. The list goes on.

    I think we all have an idea that everything is saved by everyone everywhere these days, but when you send a shot-in-the-dark email to BBC Scotland to ask if they have a 1992 episode of a long-running radio show in their archive and they respond with "As far as we know, no archive of this programme exists", it makes you rethink how far we've really come since those Wicker Man reels were buried under the M4.


  6. elvwood
    September 30, 2013 @ 3:23 am

    Ditto. My son (who was only just five at the time) would watch all of Totally, I would tune in for The Infinite Quest then go back to whatever I was doing. It was certainly a lot more fun than the later Dreamland in that format!


  7. Ross
    September 30, 2013 @ 3:33 am

    and good old-fashioned piracy

    Sailing your galleon up alongside a freighter full of DVD box-sets and firing cannon at them until they surrender, then taking what's worth stealing and murdering the crew as you see fit?

    (Years ago, there was a webcomic that ran a storyline in which the Microsoft-expy made a deal with the RIAA whereby they'd offer amnesty to pirates in exchange for all their personal information. All went well until someone called to confess to raiding ships. Once the hero explained what they meant by "piracy", the union of seafaring privateers sued the RIAA for misappropriating their trademark on the word "pirate".)


  8. Monicker
    September 30, 2013 @ 3:41 am

    'This isn’t entirely a new issue – I would be gobsmacked if the number of people who had seen the first episode of Doctor Who since November 23rd, 1963 did not dramatically outstrip the 4.4 million who watched on the night.'

    Especially as the repeats of the episode a week later in 1963 and in 1981 both gained 6 million viewers, and it's likely that a substantial amount of the viewers of the latter were people who hadn't watched it on either of the first two occasions.

    'But there’s something striking about the fact that we can say that about Blink just six years after its broadcast, whereas on November 30th, 1969 there was no chance that this was true about “The Cave of Skulls.” '

    I don't know about that though. The series was sold to many countries in its early years, so would have had several further showings, and while I don't know what the total viewing figures for all those broadcasts put together of The Cave of Skulls were, it's just possible that they might have been over 5.9 million, I suppose.


  9. jane
    September 30, 2013 @ 4:23 am

    Doctor Who is the squid monster at the end of Watchmen.


  10. Adam Riggio
    September 30, 2013 @ 4:46 am

    Your writing about the importance of having the DVD gives me intimations of some of your takes on what, as far as the media on which Doctor Who is composed go to me, is the most fascinating part of the Moffat era: the DVD extras. I've seen many folks on the internet complain that Moffat doesn't do proper characterization in Doctor Who because there are no moments in the episodes where the characters sit down and try to work through the traumatic events that have happened to them, or develop the emotional subplots that it seems the transmitted series skips over in favour of adventure.

    I remember in one of those discussions here, Jane made an illuminating comment that the adventure stories are packed with symbolism and metaphor for the arc plots. The key example she discussed was in response to some commenters who disparaged Moffat for failing to have his characters work through Amy and Rory's trauma of being alienated from their child, and forced to miss decades of her life as a member of her family. The story of Night Terrors is the former, and the story of The Girl Who Waited was the latter. But the show as a whole dealt with these emotions, instead of a quiet dramatic moment of the characters discussing it. The modern form of Doctor Who just doesn't have time for these quiet conversations, like we're sometimes used to seeing on more conventional drama shows.

    Until we get to the DVD extras, where Moffat deals with all these emotional developments explicitly. This kicks into high gear on the extra scenes for the Series Six set, and continues in the Series Seven set. Series Six includes a scene where the Doctor and Amy have a quiet talk about her time in the incubator at Demon's Run, and a scene that's a comedic timey-wimey collision of the Doctor and River's first and last dates that becomes a heartbreaking acknowledgement of the Doctor's pain at loving a woman whose death he's always known. The Series Seven box has a wonderful extra scene of a day in the life of the Doctor and River's marriage and TARDIS travelling.

    And that complaint also forgets that part of the climax of Asylum of the Daleks is an intense emotional conversation between Amy and Rory over how her post-Demon's Run infertility strained their relationship. I also found it ludicrous that some commenters, both here and in the less polite forums, found it so unrealistic that a couple in love wouldn't have their marriage strained or even broken for a while by the sudden revelation of infertility and the effects of that discovery. No matter how true a love might be, it doesn't always survive fundamental aspects of your planned future being thrown into doubt. But perhaps our critics were more offended by Amy's pursuing a career in modelling than in explicitly integrating emotional and domestic storytelling into the plot of an episode.


  11. Galadriel
    September 30, 2013 @ 5:46 am

    That metaphor is older than Neil Gaiman, and I doubt he's laid claim to be the original author. It's actually found in Tolkien's essay "On Faerie Stories," where he quotes George Webbe Dasent, Though the attribution could be considered an example of this principle in action


  12. Matt Sharp
    September 30, 2013 @ 6:33 am

    Recycled from an old episode of Dan Dare…? You're not wrong!

    (Dave Gibbons is recycling his own 2000AD work rather than Terry Nation lifting the plot of Reign of the Robots for The Dalek invasion of Earth, though, so he's forgiven…)


  13. BerserkRL
    September 30, 2013 @ 10:14 am

    a copy of Blink that’s functionally identical to the digital master can be streamed to my phone

    Except for the missing "one year later" title, present in the broadcast version but absent from the dvd.


  14. BerserkRL
    September 30, 2013 @ 10:15 am

    Claiming original authorship of a metaphor designed to undermine claims to original authorship would be somewhat self-defeating.


  15. Nyq Only
    September 30, 2013 @ 10:17 am

    "But now, in an era where we know Davies had plotted out the broad strokes of the Master’s return in his head before Rose even aired and where we’re invited to reread Last of the Time Lords in light of The End of Time, the moment of broadcast becomes devalued. Not erased – Davies is still a populist who knows to chase ratings."

    And with River Song, Moffat takes that three steps further and utterly subverts the moment of broadcast version of Silence in the Library.


  16. Bennett
    September 30, 2013 @ 11:35 am

    And that's only with a limited definition of "eventual".

    I think it's safe to say that a fair portion of each Doctor Who episode's 'audience' hasn't even been born yet (which is something you can't say for The X Factor).


  17. Spacewarp
    September 30, 2013 @ 11:49 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  18. Spacewarp
    September 30, 2013 @ 11:51 am

    "I also found it ludicrous that some commenters, both here and in the less polite forums, found it so unrealistic that a couple in love wouldn't have their marriage strained or even broken for a while by the sudden revelation of infertility and the effects of that discovery."

    It's probably that those commentators simply aren't yet married or in a relationship where such discussions have come up. A large proportion of Doctor Who's audience (those under the age of 10) might well not appreciate or understand the reasons why Amy and Rory have split up. I as a married man with two children understood completely how they might have felt.


  19. Bennett
    September 30, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

    Things fall out of the world sometimes, but they always leave traces. Nothing is ever forgotten, not completely. And if something can be remembered, it can come back.


  20. BerserkRL
    September 30, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

    How could an Infinite Quest possibly be completed in a finite number of episodes?


  21. Elizabeth Sandifer
    September 30, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

    By reversing Zeno's Paradox.


  22. encyclops
    September 30, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

    The presentation could really have been clearer. It's not apparent (or at least it wasn't to me) whether the infertility issue was explicitly the reason for the divorce or just the underlying cause of a raft of other symptomatic arguments, and thus whether they'd actually talked about it before (and were only now, in the heat of danger, being direct enough about their feelings to work it out) or if this was the first time they'd gotten to the heart of the matter, or what.

    The reason it matters, and the reason it's not just a case of "fill in the blanks yourselves," is because as written the dialogue comes off just this side of farcical — a case of well why didn't you just say so? — especially if you haven't been in enough long-term relationships to know how even after many years these little communication breakdowns can snowball.

    I think if we'd seen evidence of a real problem there — e.g. maybe Rory really had always wanted kids, maybe he'd been passive-aggressive about it, maybe she'd been depressed and taking it out on him in oblique ways, something they were learning slowly but successfully to accept — it would have made more sense to people right away. As it was, the resolution was a little too "perfect," so if you've never found yourself fighting because you each thought something was more important to the other person than it really was, you're like "so what?"

    Also, I think it's very clever to look at "Night Terrors" and "The Girl Who Waited" as working through Amy and Rory's issues, and maybe it was the best choice for the series and its audience as a whole, but I might be too dense to understand how it amounts to the same thing (maybe it doesn't). For one thing, I'm not sure what it means that the alienation is resolved with "we accept you as our child" (apart from a stretch of "Let's Kill Hitler," when was lack of acceptance the issue?) or that the separation is resolved by killing the older version and keeping the younger one.


  23. Spacewarp
    September 30, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

    Again I kind of get an inkling of the Amy-River thing myself. My first daughter (from an earlier relationship) grew up largely without me around, and it wasn't until she was 16 that we managed to rekindle a father/daughter relationship. Since then (she is now 30) we have seen each-other regularly and get on very well. She is now married with her own children (my grandkids!), and although a part of me still horribly misses the young child that I didn't have a chance to bring up, I realise that it is in the past and can never be reclaimed, and we have both moved on to an adult relationship.

    Ok not exactly timey-wimey, but there's enough points of congruence for me to say that Rory and Amy's attitude is at least (from the writers' perspective) vaguely informed by reality.


  24. BerserkRL
    September 30, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

    Or reversing the polarity of Zeno's Paradox.


  25. ferret
    September 30, 2013 @ 10:06 pm

    Indeed, Doctor Who went international as early as 1965 when Australia started airing it.

    Interestingly, Wikipedia notes that once it began airing on the ABC there was "at least one repeat of each story during school holidays which meant Australian viewers saw the series more times than those in Britain where it was very rare for any part to be repeated."


  26. Anton B
    October 1, 2013 @ 1:24 am

    But wonderfully post-modern.


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