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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. Prandeamus
    September 17, 2014 @ 1:38 am

    I am a British TV viewer with a moderate engagement with BBC3. Obviously I enjoy genre television in some way or I wouldn't be here.

    I have never heard of Fades, let alone have an opinion about it.

    To be fair, I've only watched 5 minutes of Skins, a couple of episodes of Being Human, a few hours of Torchwood. But I knew they were there if I wanted.

    Fades? No memory at all. Did the Silence produce it?


  2. David Anderson
    September 17, 2014 @ 2:08 am

    I watched and enjoyed The Fades, but I'm struggling to describe Phil's criticism as anything other than harsh but fair.
    I suppose one of the problems Fades has is the simultaneous struggle to construct a premise that will stand on its own for one series, but will also end on a cliffhanger that can expand into a deeper premise for subsequent series.

    We seem to have skipped Misfits. Are we going to look at Utopia? Or The Killing / The Bridge?


  3. John
    September 17, 2014 @ 3:09 am

    Game of Thrones seems like an obvious one, given that it's a wildly popular genre show that actually does do something different from the pattern Phil identifies here. The presence of lots of Doctor Who actors in the cast can't hurt.


  4. jane
    September 17, 2014 @ 3:19 am

    The Fades must be truly mediocre if the most inspiring conversation to have about it consists of speculating what other TV shows Phil will Pop Between Realities for.


  5. Spacewarp
    September 17, 2014 @ 4:26 am

    Well I was just going to ask if Phil was going to cover "Wolfblood" at any later date, since I've never seen "The Fades" either. (New series starts Saturday on CBBC!)


  6. Anton B
    September 17, 2014 @ 5:06 am

    Sorry but
    one of those actresses that…." and who are also both quite capable actresses" ?
    The preferred title would be 'actors'.


  7. elvwood
    September 17, 2014 @ 5:41 am

    Odd – I remember it being quite aggressively trailed, with me seeing a short ad with an almost-whispered "The Fades are coming…" repeatedly over a number of weeks. I watched the first episode, couldn't be bothered to stick with it.


  8. David Anderson
    September 17, 2014 @ 5:53 am

    I think it's more that it's the most inspiring conversation to have about Phil's post about the Fades, which is not quite the same thing. Natalie Dormer's character had an interesting arc; there are at least two memorable secondary characters (the best friend, the 'light' side extremist); Daniela Nardini had a couple of strong scenes. But whatever mythology there was was subordinated to plot and to the need to keep things back for a second series.
    And given that the powers are apparently inherited, it was a missed opportunity not to give them to the main character's sister also. I think Phil's right: it was still working off a template established by Cooper's Dark is Rising, if not earlier.


  9. Chris
    September 17, 2014 @ 6:26 am

    Depends who you talk to. I have friends who prefer "actor" because it brings focus to the quality of their work and not their gender, and I have other friends who prefer "actress" because they are proud of their gender and don't wish to hide it.

    That said, I prefer "actor" but decades of habit still finds me saying "actress" on occasion.


  10. Ombund
    September 17, 2014 @ 6:33 am

    Interesting entry. It's good to see that someone else didn't rate The Fades. It was functional but despite some early promise it never really managed to transcend its influences. But others, including the BAFTA board, seemed to go crazy for it, especially after it was cancelled, and so I presumed I must be the one missing something.

    I can't say I agree with your penultimate paragraph though, especially coming off the back of a series 6 that has been as ambitious as Doctor Who's ever been (individual mileages may vary as to whether it was successful or not). I think I can see where you're going with this, and no more than perfectly adequate is absolutely a fair criticism to level at much of series 7, but it's hard to square that with the way you've been writing about the Moffat era so far.


  11. Anton B
    September 17, 2014 @ 6:59 am

    Totally with you Chris. I generally try and gauge the individual's preferred title. However if I don't know I default to 'actor' for both genders. I was just a little surprised that a self professed feminist such as Doctor Sandifer doesn't do the same.


  12. Alan
    September 17, 2014 @ 7:17 am

    Just read the wiki page for "The Fades" which I had honestly never heard of before. So apparently, the Fades are just ghosts. And the protagonist can see ghosts. And the ghosts are trying to break into the living world. And no one calls them ghosts, presumably because you can't trademark "The Ghosts."


  13. peeeeeeet
    September 17, 2014 @ 8:05 am

    Apropos of not much, Natalie Dormer has rocketed up to the top of my list of female Doctor candidates.


  14. macrogers
    September 17, 2014 @ 8:40 am

    The most retweeted thing I've ever put on Twitter was when I proposed Ruth Wilson as the Doctor facing off against Dormer as the Master.


  15. Matthew Blanchette
    September 17, 2014 @ 10:08 am

    Are we bound to cover "The Musketeers", as well? Or is that beyond our remit, here?


  16. James V
    September 17, 2014 @ 11:22 am

    Seems like a slippery slope that could end up leading to "The Vicar of Dibley" and "Lair of the White Worm."


  17. David Anderson
    September 17, 2014 @ 11:24 am

    The titles and title music were everything they should be.

    Everything else was pretty poor. There was too much exploring issues where our heroes explain to each other that they all hold conventional modern opinions, but can't act on them because they're completely anachronistic and History.


  18. Gallifreyan_Immigrant
    September 17, 2014 @ 12:44 pm

    Oh no you didn't.

    In defense of the show, it's a good examination of heroes Concerning the characters, it's has a twist on the mentor relationship, along with an examination on battling evil, and what one has to do as a "good man." You say that's it's just "good battling evil", but note that (spoilers) the person who does the fridging is supposed to be "light." (end spoilers) And the show has a very good male/male friendship in the leads. It may not be the best, but I think you being a tad bit harsh (though, I haven't seen all the eps. I have read all the excellent rophydoes recaps.), Either way, as a fan of the series, thank you for covering it on your blog.


  19. Anton B
    September 17, 2014 @ 12:51 pm

    Slightly off topic but in light of the new dark and slightly more 'adult' oriented Doctor I wonder if this announcement of a change of transmission time for the rest of series 8 to the later slot of 8:30 is significant?


  20. Matthew Blanchette
    September 17, 2014 @ 12:58 pm

    Oh, I hope that doesn't mean it gets pushed back in America, as well… 🙁


  21. TheOncomingHurricane
    September 17, 2014 @ 5:21 pm

    Unlikely, it was probably deemed too scary to go on before Strictly Come Dancing here (because that'd be about 6:10-7pm), so it had to go on after instead.


  22. Ozyman Jones
    September 17, 2014 @ 9:14 pm

    Wondering out loud (in text)… but would this, maybe, come some way toward explaining the falling out between Skinner and Moffat? Sounds like very different approaches to making TV. One wanting to push the boundaries or what can be Doctor Who and even what can be called TV for the masses. And the other wanting to make genre TV that is like everything that's gone before.


  23. David Anderson
    September 17, 2014 @ 9:51 pm

    Nothing in television scheduling is more important than Strictly vs the X Factor.

    Personally my money is on Polaris and Quicksilver.


  24. Daru
    September 18, 2014 @ 1:15 am

    Yeah The Fades wasn't that inspiring.


  25. Daru
    September 18, 2014 @ 1:18 am

    I do remember watching the first couple of episodes with my partner and then not seeing any more, not that we hated it but the show didn't have that grab that made us both feel the impetus to bother with continuing to watch it.


  26. Daru
    September 18, 2014 @ 1:19 am

    Could be a good theory.


  27. Daru
    September 18, 2014 @ 1:21 am

    I am very excited about have the show airing during the autumn, as opposed to hot summer days.


  28. Chris
    September 18, 2014 @ 1:50 am

    I read that change more as an indication that live television viewers are more likely to watch competition shows than dramas. With being shifted against X-Factor, the expectation as I imagine it is that people will watch Strictly Come Dancing, and when it's over they've already missed half an hour of X-Factor, so no point in changing the channel to watch that. Not unlike how I didn't watch X-Files for years because I got home from work at 9:30pm and, really, if you miss even just the cold open of that show you'd never catch up with that week's story.


  29. Spacewarp
    September 18, 2014 @ 6:00 am

    I suspect that this is more to do with the Beeb's realisation of the decreasing importance of overnight viewing figures. The industry still reports them (and the tabloid media jump on any drop with relish) but are they as relevent anymore? This series of Who has seen the biggest Timeshift between overnights and consolidated ratings (28%), which could mean that families with younger children are watching the recorded version the next day when the kids are awake, and the scares aren't so scary.

    Overnights of course still count for Event TV like Strictly or X-Factor, where there's absolutely no value in watching them even 24 hours later. So I'm surprised that Cowell is moaning about the BBC putting Strictly up against X-Factor, because isn't that like the point? Mind you, he's a record producer, so he doesn't think like a TV exec.

    In case anyone's wondering, Series 8 is looking absolutely fine audience-wise. http://spacewarp.co.uk/who/DWSeries8.htm


  30. Spacewarp
    September 18, 2014 @ 6:14 am

    @Chris. I live with an X-Factor addict and a SKY+ box. We watch Who live (primarily because of me!) and then the wife switches over, rewinds X-Factor to the beginning and skips the adverts. Everyone's happy.

    Yes, Strictly viewers will have missed half hour of the X-Factor, but rather than skip it, they'll do what my wife does and rewind to the beginning.

    Of course if they've got Freeview and SKY HD+ it's quite possible for a typical family to record 2 programmes while watching a third.


  31. Chris
    September 18, 2014 @ 5:55 pm

    @Spacewarp – Well, my conjecture is based on the idea that those left who cannot timeshift (no DVR or computer) will watch shows like X-Factor. I have no idea if that's true, but it would be a condition that allows the scheduling to make sense. Of course, we are talking about TV execs, and they never make sense.

    Regardless of their sense making, your household is exempt from my babbling, because you are not chained to live television. I'm only speculating that the overnight ratings matter most with this particular kind of program.


  32. Spacewarp
    September 19, 2014 @ 12:07 am

    @Chris. No, you're absolutely right. Live Competition TV becomes pointless if not watched on the night, which is why the slightest drop in ratings is so damaging for Strictly or Factor, and also why their Consolidated ratings are probably not much different to their Overnights. Drama on the other hand can be recorded and watched the next day, especially if the next day is Sunday, when there's nobody round the water cooler (or in the school playground) avidly discussing the programme that you haven't watched yet.

    Although not every household has DVR, PC or SKY, I bet most of them still have VCRs capable of recording digital widescreen.

    Also, the percentage of Doctor Who viewers watching on the night has gone down from about 92% (in 2005) to just over 70% (for Series 8)…but the overall number of viewers has stayed about the same over the last 9 years, indicating that those who couldn't record, still watched on the night. I still maintain that though things like Daleks, Christmas Specials and New Doctors may cause temporary increases in viewers, there is a hardcore audience of 6-8 million in the UK that will continue to watch Doctor Who, whether they have to miss half hour of X-Factor, watch the repeat, or record it.


  33. Chris
    September 20, 2014 @ 6:11 am

    I wonder if the time will come that, acknowledging that most people are recording and watching later, many popular shows end up airing in the middle of the night, leaving prime time only for event television.


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