Saturday Waffling (February 14th, 2015)
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Thanks for joining me for a big week, and going forward. The response to the end of TARDIS Eruditorum has been incredibly gratifying, and I apologize for anyone I didn’t reach back to and thank for the kind words. They’ve all meant a lot.
Going forward, A Brief Treatise on the Rules of Thrones will run on Mondays as an odd sort of countdown, up to the fifth season premiere. On Wednesdays, comics reviews in the mid-days, and I think the episode commentaries from the Eruditorum Kickstarter. So The Rescue Episode One might be a fun thing to watch this weekend. On Fridays, The Last War in Albion will rumble on into the night, and on Saturdays we shall as always shoot the shit, as they say.
This is all assuming the Patreon, currently at $267, remains over $200 a week, with it currently funding A Brief Treatise on the Rules of Thrones. That seems pretty secure, but $60 of it is down to a small number of particularly generous patrons, so please, if you can spare a buck a week, it means a lot. I also just opened voting on the monthly bonus post, so if you want to be a rascal and, like, back for a week, vote, pay for Monday’s post, then cancel your pledge, that’s totally fair. This blog and the monthly book royalties basically pay the rent, and it’s greatly appreciated. Even a little bit helps.
Speaking of books, the Logopolis book, now called Recursive Occlusion, is a hair’s breadth away. Kickstarter backers who think you’ve pre-ordered a copy, please do check your Kickstarter messages, there’s a Google form to fill out to get your book.
So, since it is still the big event of the week, I’m curious. What was your favorite TARDIS Eruditorum entry? And, since everybody on the planet inexplicably feels the need to disclaim that they don’t agree with everything I say (as though someone was under any illusion that anyone would agree with everything I say, least of all myself), where did I most infuriate you? Are you an old-timer, like that guy on GallifreyBase this week who keeps going on about how I unfairly hold the past to the ethical standards of the presen when talking about racism in The Celestial Toymaker? Are you a battle-scarred flame warrior from the great Big-Ass Science debate of The Masque of Mandragora? Did I just disappoint you when I was rude to someone? Or were you with me right up until I said Kill the Moon was brilliant?
Actually, wait, just TARDIS Eruditorum. My passion for Kill the Moon is off limits until the Capaldi book comes out. (I’m not even thinking about that book until it’s clear when Capaldi or Moffat are leaving.)
Seriously, though, thank you for all the kind words and for making me a part of your Internet day. It’s a lovely way to make a living, nattering on to you lot.
(Sorry to say that I’ve had to turn comments off on this entry, as it was weirdly prone to spam from spellcasters.)
February 14, 2015 @ 12:47 am
My favourite entry was probably The Gunfighters – it marked the moment when I made the jump from casual reader (courtesy of Wife in Space) to RSS subscriber. Since I first saw it, The Gunfighters has been the one serial I've pointed at to show why I love this show. And after seeing nothing but snark for it on the Internet, it was such a joy to get a critical reading of it that not only brought out new levels of appreciation for me, but linked that appreciation to the present series.
As for what got my goat…well, I've found that those few moments where I found myself tutting at an entry have faded away from memory much faster than the many moments of sage nodding.
That said, The Android Invasion is lovely and You Are Wrong If You Disagree.
February 14, 2015 @ 12:55 am
I suppose it has to be "Rose"
I caught up with you during the 8th Doctor wilderness years, and after reading countless posts on books and audio plays and all sorts of stuff I wasn't familiar with, the Rose post was just absolutely huge and it really made me appreciate the episode a lot more, particularly because when I first watched Rose, I had no knowledge of just how important that episode was. I was only vaguely aware that this had been a show in the 70's (which is what my parents watched).
So it was a very interesting post with a level of detail that you don't often go to (you'd be crazy to!)
February 14, 2015 @ 1:01 am
Because as a Doctor Who fan, I'm genetically compelled to come up with an example for each Doctor if someone asks me my favourite something, that's what I've done:
First Doctor: "Time Can Be Rewritten 2: The Time Travellers"
Second Doctor: "The Mind Robber"
Third Doctor: "The Three Doctors"
Fourth Doctor: "City of Death"
Fifth Doctor: "Frontios"
Sixth Doctor: The "Trial of a Time Lord" (cheating a bit here, but on the other hand, the way they're put together kind of makes it hard to split them into one entry)
Seventh Doctor: "Paradise Towers"
Eighth Doctor: "Interference" (putting it together was a lot of fun)
Ninth Doctor: I can't decide between "Rose" and "Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways"
Tenth Doctor: "The End of Time Part Two"
Eleventh Doctor: "The Time of the Doctor"
As for the second question, while the obvious disclaimer about not agreeing with every single word etc etc applies here, I don't think you've ever actually angered me with a post — although I do have to confess, the "Ghost Light" post (and the first few paragraphs especially) did rub me up the the wrong way a bit.
February 14, 2015 @ 1:34 am
You had me from An Unearthly Child. And oddly, one of the things that has always bugged me was your user of 'earthiness' in that same post. It should have been 'earthliness'.
But I think the first moments which made me go WOW were The Tenth Planet entry, and Evil of the Daleks.
February 14, 2015 @ 1:38 am
And then my phone goes and auto-corrects in a typo, when I rag you about one. Serves me right.
February 14, 2015 @ 1:38 am
And then my phone goes and auto-corrects in a typo, when I rag you about one. Serves me right.
February 14, 2015 @ 2:45 am
For me, it comes down to either Tenth Planet, which was such a mind-bender for me that I got hooked on the blog, or the post on Mary Whitehouse and bullying, which spoke to my own experience as a teenage American fan in the 90s.
The second question is a lot harder. More often, I have a reaction of "I hadn't thought about that."
February 14, 2015 @ 3:13 am
The Tenth planet post was astonishingly good, as was the Time of the Doctor post, which more or less reversed the way that I felt about that story (and made me feel a lot more comfortable about liking the Moffat/ Smith Era). For sheer emotional wallop, the Mary Whithouse and Bullying post was one of the most moving posts of this blog.
February 14, 2015 @ 3:30 am
Hmm. There are a number of your posts I really loved. The Mind Robber is an obvious one, of course. I pretty much love any time you touched on the concept of narrative collapse, particularly in the earlier entries (so, say, The Chase and The Tenth Planet). And your entry on The Time Travelers was significant in that it caused me to go and track down the book, which I'd missed on initial publication and has since become my favorite DW-related novel. But if I had to pick a favorite, I'd go with the final post, even if it took me the better part of a week to get to the end.
On the flip side, I think I commented back during the Davison era that things had gotten a bit.. dry for a while, but I'm still not sure if that doesn't have more to do with the era itself. And I thought the conclusion sort of dragged out a bit, really: the out-of-sequence gimmick for the River Song posts was clever, but it I feel it hurt the consistency of your narrative. But, again, if I had to pick a single least favorite entry, it would be Inferno, which makes me grumpy to this day. 🙂
February 14, 2015 @ 4:19 am
Favourite entries? The John Wiles Project. Most infuriating? That bit around the Davison mark where you were in love and happy. It hurt the blog.
February 14, 2015 @ 4:48 am
I think I liked the Planet of the Daleks essay best. It captures the heart of a less than awe-inspiring story while managing to say something positive about it.
I found The Ark essay frustrating because I really love that story. I think you make a strong case against it, but I think it can be defended.
February 14, 2015 @ 4:50 am
Here's my list of memorable essays for each Doctor – not being set up above all of the rest of the entries as I've loved the content as a whole.
As far as being wound up by you goes, that really hasn't happened much. I have read your work to explore and engage with your viewpoint, so I haven't really been looking for you Phil to back up my ideas. I come to reading your work to at times, have my established thoughts shot out of the water and my mind opened. I can certainly say that has happened.
There may at very rare times have been minor niggles (very minor), but these have been wiped out of my memory.
First Doctor: Pop Between Realities, Home In Time For Tea 3: International Times, Oz, Kenneth Grant
Second Doctor: Everything You Were, Everything You Stood For: The Evil of the Daleks
Third Doctor: This Point of Singularity: The Three Doctors
Fourth Doctor: Far More Than Just: The Deadly Assassin
Fifth Doctor: He's Gay and She's an Alien: Enlightenment
Sixth Doctor: The Trial of a Time Lord & The Catharsis of Spurious Morality: The Ultimate Foe
Seventh Doctor: Puny, Defenceless Bipeds: Ghost Light
Eighth Doctor: You May Find His Behavior Somewhat Erratic: Interference
Ninth Doctor: People Made of Smoke and Cities Made of Song: Rose & I Wasn't The One Holding a Gun: Bad Wolf/ A Fighting Hand: Parting of the Ways
Tenth Doctor: Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Coffee: LOST
Eleventh Doctor: A Mild Curiosity in a Junkyard: Silence in the Library/The Forest of the Dead
February 14, 2015 @ 5:16 am
Favorite entry: The Mind Robber!
Most disagreement: Inferno, which, when I finally saw it thought was a staggering, recomplicated, ulta-camp party and some of the most fun I've had watching Doctor Who. I couldn't believe you'd given it such a drubbing.
Congrats on finishing Eruditorum (except for the books). I look forward to the Logopolis book. I think I might buy this one in print, just because choose your own adventure is more fun when you actually have to flip back and forth between the pages.
John Smith 5
February 14, 2015 @ 5:18 am
The Mind Robber is my favourite post. You genuinely shook the way I perceived Doctor Who, on a very deep level, and all in the space of a few paragraphs. I'd love to have seen more stuff along those lines.
February 14, 2015 @ 5:32 am
Favorite Entry: Mary Whitehouse, which might just be one of the greatest things related to Doctor Who. A tale of bullying and the damage it does even after it's over and the bully lost.
Least favorite: Honestly, aside from Children of Earth, I really didn't care for the Torchwood stuff and just zoned out during that period. Although, to be fair, that was during the period when I just found the blog and there were some really interesting ideas to look at, but overall it's kinda dull.
February 14, 2015 @ 5:56 am
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February 14, 2015 @ 6:24 am
My favorite entry has to be "The Dalek's Master Plan" because it totally changed how I watched old school Doctor Who. I NEVER realized somehow that the show in its natural context was a week-by-week show and not story chunks to be released on VHS, as I grew up watching the episodes on VHS from a very young age. It blew my mind, and hooked me on your blog forever.
I'm going to give my two gripes:
-The whole fifth Doctor Era of the blog felt like a review blog. I loved it as a kid, and I knew you didn't like it, but it just really bored me.
-"The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People" is one of the greatest stories of NuWho and I'll defend that to my death. Maybe this is my fault cause I was too busy and never wrote the rebuttal article I intended, but I disagreed with your critiques of that story intensely.
But in all seriousness, I have loved this blog, and I've grown to respect you immensely for your ability to not only write what you want to, but using the clout and respect you gained for Doctor Who to stand up for important issues, especially trans rights. I'm so so grateful to have found this blog, if I hadn't I honestly wouldn't have tried my hand at my own "lets chronicle every Doctor Who Story" project I did (in the form of poetry). Or my own analysis blog about Decipher's WARS. You've been a huge inspiration to me, so thank you.
February 14, 2015 @ 6:57 am
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February 14, 2015 @ 7:07 am
And loved this too –
Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 48: Alan Moore's Spoken Word Pieces
February 14, 2015 @ 7:26 am
I came in with "Doctor in Distress", because someone on Twitter linked to it, then went back, skimmed through what you said about my favourite stories, and then began from the beginning. My favourite posts would probably be the whole Trial of a Time Lord, because of the "Aha!" moment when I read through them in the "correct" order, and suddenly realised how the order they were presented in worked.
I'm struggling to think of something that infuriated me. Plenty of points where I disagreed with you, but generally in a "I don't see it that way, but I can see where he's coming from and it's probably a valid point of view" way rather than "But that's just arrant nonsense!" The start of Torchwood season 2 would probably be closest, except that while I still think you were wrong I find it impossible to care enough about Torchwood season 2 to actually get annoyed about it.
February 14, 2015 @ 7:40 am
Favorite posts were Three Doctors, Mind Robber, Paradise Towers, with honorable mentions for Rose and Logopolis. When you're experimenting with form, or really laying out your philosophical position, you're at your best.
Thought the Asylum post was off. Torchwood posts were boring, but that's kind of due to the material. And, yes, not terribly pleased when you resort to bullying tactics with bullies — like the fight, just not the tactics. We can always do better.
February 14, 2015 @ 8:51 am
Three entries come to mind: The Enemy of the World, partly because it's just a brilliant rave about a brilliant story, and partly because I left a comment there when I first started archive crawling here in January of 2012. Which means I'm on record in my own small way about the story being a great one almost two years before the recovery was announced, and can go "I knew it all along" and back it up.
I also have a great fondness The Adventuress of Henrietta Street entry; I think the "Editor DW" line is just brilliant.
And I would be remiss if I didn't mention "A True History of The Conspiracy" in the first Tom Baker book, although my bias on that one is obvious.
No place that you really infuriated me; I'm pretty mellow. I do feel your Pertwee era as a whole was vastly improved in the book; unlike the other 4 volumes I don't feel you really pulled it together quite in the blog version. (I suspect I'll feel the same way about the next book, as well.)
February 14, 2015 @ 10:10 am
Favourites (in chronological order): The Web Planet, The Mind Robber, The Three Doctors, Rose & Logopolis, also the Pop Between Realities post on Star Wars for dealing with Campbell's enticing but vapid ideas.
Don't really have any strong dislikes, my view on a difference of opinion is just that, it's a difference of opinion and it's a way to look at a story in a different light which is a good thing.
February 14, 2015 @ 10:14 am
What was your favorite TARDIS Eruditorum entry?
where did I most infuriate you?
Probably some passing political comment that I've forgotten.
February 14, 2015 @ 3:21 pm
The first entry I read was Celestial Toymaker, linked from somewhere, and was sold on the blog by your bravery to go against recognised and respected fan wisdom to call it out on not only it's underlying xenophobia, but also on the fact that it was so fucking dull and uninteresting. Caught up from there in a couple of very late nights and was along for the ride from mid Troughton onwards
Best entry, or rather the one which opened my eyes the most, maybe Tenth Planet, or Mind Robber (another story I particularly dislike, but was swayed a little by your reading of it) or Rose… hard to say, really; even the worst entry has at least some gem of wisdom contained within.
Bits that bugged me; yes, some of your social/political comment, but nothing that saying to myself, "What do you expect from a bloody academic." didn't get me through unscathed.
But, THE BEST THING BY FAR…. was the absolute privilege of being able to participate in your big kickstarter, and watching it rise and rise and rise and knowing that I, along with a bunch of other people I'd never met from all around the world, whom I respected through the brilliant comments community on this blog, were a part of something unique and wonderful in the pantheon of Doctor Who commentary. It was non-fiction books on Doctor Who that informed and enriched my childhood in the '80s as much as the TV series itself, and to be even a tiny part of making that happen… Thank you.
February 14, 2015 @ 4:57 pm
hi, i adore your blog and i read Eruditorum (and Wife in Space!) to accompany my watchthrough of the classic series. it made a wonderful/frustrating experience even moreso!! though honestly i never got too frustrated with anything you wrote. we broadly agree on most things, and anytime i felt like you missed something, the folks in the comments picked up the slack. speaking of whom — as a longtime reader, first-time commenter, i feel like i owe y'all a hat tip: this and AV Club are the only sites where i break my "don't read the comments" rule. thanks for being cool.
my favorite Eruditorum is the one for LOGOPOLIS
i think it is a good essay and a cleverly structured one, but besides that, it's a lovely text adventure. personally i think you should try your hand at interactive fiction, if you haven't already. the interest and the ability are clearly there!
my runner-up is the one for ROSE, which is such a good close reading of the episode that i've read it over and over for my own media analysis writing. so thanks for that!
i am an embittered former fan of A Song of Ice and Fire so i'm frustrated/happy you're covering it next. also, Last War in Albion rules hard. peace
February 14, 2015 @ 4:59 pm
oh yeah and Kill the Moon is awesome idgaf
February 14, 2015 @ 5:00 pm
Apropos of nothing, can I just say how refreshing it is to have finally found someone else who appreciates The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People? I don't know if I'd go so far as to call it my favorite story of the era, but it's definitely somewhere in my amorphous top five (alongside The Doctor's Wife, The God Complex, The Crimson Horror, and Day of the Doctor). It's a cracking good story with a legitimate tour de force performance from Matt Smith, and the best it seems to get out of fandom is a resounding shrug. Go figure.
Also, maybe I'm misremembering, but I thought Dr. Sandifer was an avowed fan of the Davison era…? As I mentioned in my comment, though, it's not exactly my favorite part of the Eruditorum canon, either.
February 14, 2015 @ 5:10 pm
That was sort of how I felt about The Ark entry, too. For me, it's a story I've always felt a bit of connection to, simply because it's one of the earliest stories I saw: my history with Doctor Who begins with the original airing of season 26, then runs through all the complete serials of the Hartnell era due to PBS affiliate scheduling. Since they ripped through the first two seasons in a weekend, courtesy of a two-day marathon, I was only a fan for about a month when I saw it. It's got a clever concept, and is relatively briskly paced for a 1960s story…
…But I can't bring myself to defend it, honestly. Talons of Weng-Chiang? I can defend that, or try to. Heck, I'll even try to defend the character of the Toymaker (though not his one televised appearance) as potentially redeemable. But while 11-year-old me didn't pick up on it, the modern me just can't sit through The Ark anymore. It's not the most openly racist the show's been, by a long stretch, but the insidiousness of it almost makes it worse, at least insofar as my ability to stomach it goes.
February 14, 2015 @ 5:38 pm
I unreservedly love everything. The Logopolis entry stands out as being particularly wonderful.
If I have any regrets, it's that we never got a proper redemptive reading of the Paul McGann TV movie. Don't get me wrong; your entry for the TV Movie is heartfelt and raw and moving and should not be altered in any way whatsoever. But I would have also loved to see an entry where you sifted through the muck of that story for the gems, scattered them about you, and told their tale.
February 14, 2015 @ 6:10 pm
Add me in as a Rebel/Almost fan. I love the atmosphere, Smith's performance (which completely baffled me first time through) and the rich plethora of metaphors. And it's seriously got one of the best cliffhangers in the history of the series. Mostly, though, it's got a great philosophy — that it's the consciousness of a person that matters, not the facts of their embodiment.
And "Yay!" for another fan of The Crimson Horror.
February 14, 2015 @ 6:12 pm
Kill the Moon is so more completely awesome than i realized at first viewing. took a while. it really is the bomb
February 14, 2015 @ 7:18 pm
I loved every word. This got me through my stupid goal to watch every episode of the Classic series in the six months leading up to The Day of the Doctor (which I completed, thankfully, on November 22nd with the TV movie), as I found out about the blog's existence right around June 1st of 2013; I don't often have my ear in the fan communities of shows I watch, so having such an interesting, thorough, and well-rounded critical and historical approach to the series had me absolutely hooked since day one.
Favorite entry? Too many to choose, but I have to admit that using a Last War in Albion post for a stand-in Gaiman Eruditorum post was extremely clever. However, I think that your The Pandorica Opens/Big Bang and Time of the Doctor posts really stuck with me; I'm a devout fan of the Moffat era and these episode blew me away and you put all of my thoughts into words far more eloquently than I could.
Did you ever infuriate me? I didn't have opinions one way or the other about most of the show (outside of "well, that was nice" or "well, that was shit"), but I don't think I ever vehemently disagreed with you, at least not enough to remember.
I'll keep reading everything you put up, and I want you to know that I'm eagerly awaiting your Joss Whedon project.
February 14, 2015 @ 7:53 pm
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Christopher "Peaky" Brown
February 14, 2015 @ 8:32 pm
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February 14, 2015 @ 11:31 pm
In no particular order.
Your redemption of The Gunfighters
Your outing of the Doctor as the renegade master of the Land of Fiction in The Mind Robber
The Problem of Susan
Your fierce impatience with people who are just plain wrong.
The Choose your own Adventure/Tarot reading/Blakean vision quest/Oblique Strategies that was Logopolis
Your take no prisoners attitude to bullying, discrimination, racism, sexism and any form of gender essentialism.
The fact that you are a (relative to me) young American who 'gets' Doctor Who as much and in the same way as me, on 'old timer' Englishman who counts Hartnell as 'my Doctor'.
February 14, 2015 @ 11:40 pm
I've thought about this for a day now, and I think Mind Robber would be my absolute favourite post. Jill's post about death and doctors is probably a close second.
I suppose my least favourite (other than the Buffy rape culture one) would be The Invasion- I love reading it, and I love psychogeography, but it was one of those stories where I really wanted a straightforward reading. It's still an excellent post, mind.
February 15, 2015 @ 1:10 am
For me, everything around the Season Ish… concept was just fantastic, it turned the entries for the Colin Baker era into a thing of wonder – I can't wait for that book on my Kindle.
Most annoying thing was, overall, the out-of-order River posts – I really lost the sense of where we were and what shows had been covered in Matt Smiths era, while never really feeling that it added anything in return. Also, you never covered Robin of Sherwood – shame!
The comments have been brilliant for insights large and small – how did the Silence blow up the TARDIS? Why, with their brainwashed sleeper assasin who was at the controls at the time of course. Of course! Just brilliant.
February 15, 2015 @ 2:29 am
Yes Sean, I was really into all of the Narrative Collapse posts too – reading all the comments reminds me of all of the brilliant posts!
February 15, 2015 @ 2:32 am
I'm there with you Jane, Arcbeatle and Sean in my adoration of the Flesh two-parter, and I utterly adore The Crimson Horror, which in many ways has more great Blakean resonances than The Forest of the Night.
February 15, 2015 @ 2:35 am
I meant to add above the Logopolis was an incredible piece of work. And Jane, it was great to hear on Shabcast your feelings on Kill the Moon and how you came to love it (great story too by the way).
February 15, 2015 @ 6:15 am
Thanks for reminding me of the TV Movie post… as an of-the-moment blog entry it was topical and poignant, something you needed to say and needed to be said. But as a reading of the TV Movie I feel a bit… well, cheated is too strong a word, and understanding the emotion of the time, a perhaps more than a little shallow.
That said, I would love it if the blog entry was to stand forever as a mark of respect, but perhaps the book chapter could return to where you originally intended, if you're now able to separate the two in your mind. If not, then I understand.
February 15, 2015 @ 8:33 am
I've got a lot of favorites, but I'll admit that when it comes to the ones I re-read for pleasure, it's probably the Colin Baker era, with 'The Twin Dilemma' being a particular favorite. I'm always fascinated by failure, so there's an "in" for me right there, and these are particularly well-written Viking funerals for a disastrous era.
As to what gets my goat…I still feel that it was a colossal mistake to do the Missing Adventures, the audios, et cetera, as "Time Can Be Rewritten" entries rather than as proper entries during the Wilderness Years. Not only does it do the Wilderness Years a tremendous disservice, by reducing your perspective on them to the New Adventures, EDAs and Eighth Doctor audios, it's also a betrayal of the fundamental idea of a "psychochronography of Doctor Who"…if your whole premise is that these things can only be truly understood in the context of the culture that produced them, why would you spend an entire entry pointing out that 'The Man in the Velvet Mask' doesn't seem much like a late-Hartnell era story? I think you could have gotten much better material out of any given Time Can Be Rewritten entry by looking at the story in the context of when it was written and not when it was set, and I get frustrated by the wasted potential. (Um, not that I've got strong opinions on it or anything…)
February 15, 2015 @ 9:52 am
Favorite's really a tough call. There have been a lot of good ones. "The Mind Robber" is an obvious choice, but it still stands out as the one I come back to and think about the most, not only because it makes a story whose middle section I've always found fairly tedious enormously fascinating and offers a completely new (to me) way of thinking about the show. I also really liked "Rose," one of the rare times I've found that level of scrutiny really engrossing.
Even before you mentioned it I thought of "Mandragora." 🙂 I don't think that's a bad entry as such, just probably the one where I most seriously questioned whether it was worth continuing to read the blog. (It was.) "Enlightenment" also comes to mind, where I was disappointed that you sidestepped commenting on one of my very favorite stories, and one with quite a lot that seems worth delving into, in order to comment on Turlough in ways I found uncharacteristically glib. (I still think Adric's the gayer one, and not just because of the sexualities of the actors.)
February 15, 2015 @ 10:28 am
There have been many entries I could point to as favorites, but ultimately I have to go with "Logopolis". Not only because the "Choose your own adventure" format was so much fun to read, but because it captures the ways something was ending with the series then, and something beginning, and what would continue.
Not really infuriated with anything, but I do notice an eleventh hour turn against Toby Whithouse I don't think is entirely fair. Anyway, he's writing/has written a two parter for S9, so there'll be more opportunities to evaluate him.
Finally, my favorite caption from the Eruditorium is the Springsteen shout out from "Death to the Daleks". Just to give you a sad look at where my sense of humor is at.
February 15, 2015 @ 10:34 am
The "Paradise Towers" post was great. Not the first redemptive reading I've seen (someone on Doctor Who Ratings Guide had lauded it as well) but really good at capturing how much fun it is to watch.
Christopher "Peaky" Brown
February 15, 2015 @ 12:15 pm
First part of comment got eaten so I'll shorten it down. Basically, favorites include:
The Beast Below
Time of the Doctor
The Dominators – for making me cackle like a maniac
The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone
The Creature From the Pit – I KNEW I couldn't have been the only one who liked it!
The Ambassadors of Death – Ditto. One of the top five from the era.
The Mind of Evil and The Monster of Peladon – for taking the Pertwee era to task, even though I like it more than you do
The End of Time
The blog in general for:
– being amazing
– not apologizing or feeling the need to kowtow to wider society/fan perspectives
– the social justice thing lots of others have already mentioned
– for putting into words and recognizing ideas in Doctor Who and fiction at large that I'd only ever instinctively picked up on and never knew how to verbalize; basically, you helped me realize that my creative ethos is that of alchemy, and it's so wonderful to be able to articulate that concept now. (This is something I'll return to below.)
– Similarly, for helping me realize things that I honestly felt about DW, pushing past received wisdom about it. I'd always instinctively felt that "you can't change history"-dilemma stories were full of s**t, and that moral quandaries pondering whether the Doctor's presence and actions are really a good thing are similarly boring
– For helping me realize that I never need to be ashamed of my views on anything (especially as I was going through senior year of high school when I discovered this blog) and that my own creative and idealogical pursuits have legs to stand on
– For helping me realize that my generation (the me one) and I don't have to appease or respect the rotten parts of society (i.e. the hardline GOP types in America) in order to effect change
– And, most importantly of all, remaining committed to material concerns while still remaining optimistic about the potential for positive change within and without society, a big and much needed "f-you" to received wisdom about how the world works that I heartily join in in celebrating.
Christopher "Peaky" Brown
February 15, 2015 @ 12:17 pm
Speaking of frustrations…well, um…
To put it plainly, much like your muse Blake and Van Gogh himself, my creative drive is built off of "visions" of faerie – aka, overwhelming creative impulses that stem from intense sensory stimulation from nature and manic bouts of lucid-dream-like, emotionally-charged creative brainstorms concerning the nature and structure of existence as defined within our own narrative mythologies. Indeed, I was a bit shocked and charmed to find that many of the images Blake outlines in his writings are similar to ones I'd coincidentally formulated over the years (coincidence…or FAERIE!?!!1!1!! YOU make the call! 😛 And while I'm being parenthetical: Blake was wrong about Newtonian forms of thought, of course. It's long been clear to me and to many others that the wonders and workings of the material world and those of the strange, mad, fantastical realms offered up by the imagination, dreams, and the unknown are all part of the same system, essential to each other as the CVEs were to the universe in "Logopolis".)
So, speaking as someone who knows or at least can imagine exactly where Vincent van Gogh is coming from when the Doctor suggests he ought to avoid any more stimulants and when he's trying to communicate his perspective to the Doctor and Amy, I found it a bit saddening that you chose to avoid illustrating the REALLY OBVIOUS AND USEFUL "faerie" angle with VATD in favor of making a point about the ideology which isn't really backed up by the episode's ending at all. In fact, in desperately searching for ways that you might be "wrong" in your reading (this was definitely a "people-are-wrong-on-the-internet" moment I'm afraid), I realized that the ending boils down to the fact that Van Gogh knowing he and his works were ultimately successful and loved made no difference to his happiness and fate, which is especially important for occasionally depressive and obsessive artists (such as myself) to understand as we search for happiness in our lives.
So yes, your VATD post is the only one that has actually angered me for omitting a significant representational opportunity near and dear to myself (and perhaps yourself?), though in retrospect I fell into the trap of reading it as a summation of your feelings towards the story rather than as the against-expectations narrative angle of the Eruditorum. (I would – and I think did in the comments section – raise a similar complaint about your snubbing of the "raising-a-kid-with-autistim-in-place-of-ideal-child parable" reading of "Night Terrors", which I found a rather enjoyable story to boot once the horrible writing for Amy and Rory is gotten past, but I'll let that one take the bullet in the name of bringing to light the political climate it was disastrously broadcast during. Same with "Talons", which – despite being possibly Holmes' most scathing angry tirade ever [come on – I can't be the ONLY one who's noticed that Magnus Greel is a walking allegory for Victorian England, can I?] – needed and still needs to be brought to task for its racism before we should enjoy the rest of it. At the very least, you not taking the redemptive angle left a great senior paper topic for me to fill in 😉 (in the most soul-destroying, private high school pressure-filled, genuinely life-threatening manner possible, of course…)
Christopher "Peaky" Brown
February 15, 2015 @ 12:19 pm
While I wasn't angered per se, I am a bit baffled that you slagged off "Inferno" – one of the most alchemically-charged episodes EVER! – to such a degree as you did (other than by way of your personal disenchantment with the story). I mean, the resolution actually hinges on the difference in stature between the technicians in the boring chamber in the two universes, and whether Stahlman has the power to order them to stay and risk their lives with them (in the parallel universe) or not (the Doctor's universe). In other words, the day is saved in the world where someone like the Doctor (and something like the TARDIS) can exist and operate to keep humanity's military/fascistic impulses in check; where people's lives are considered to matter, and where society is not governed by absolutes. Or, in other words, a world with mercury in it.
Similar skepticism: Invasion of the Dinosaurs, the most materially relevant, useful, and wise the Pertwee-era preaching ever got. As for the dinosaur special effects: I was raised on Godzilla and old b-movies, so bad effects in Who are just part of the charm for me (at least up until Graeme Harper debuts and the stories kind of demand to be read earnestly/self-consciously). It's everyone else's lack of imagination/sense of humor that's the problem 😛 'cause you know what? I wouldn't trade the Skarasen, the dinosaurs, the Foamasi the giant rat, the giant clam, the groovily cheesy Nimon, the silly laser beams, the Taran Wood Beast, the Slyther, or Aggedor for anything in the world. In fact, if I'd produced all their appearances, I'd make sure they happened again. Every one of them.
(…Well, except maybe the Vardans. "The Invasion of Time" is frustratingly obstructed from being the potential masterpiece it could be already without that effect further detracting from the sheer brilliance of at least 75% of the rest of story.)
P.S. been going through the last TARDIS Eruditorum slowly all week and will continue to do so, savoring each section. I like having no idea how it's going to end…
Christopher "Peaky" Brown
February 15, 2015 @ 12:21 pm
And in case I hadn't spammed my word count already, I might actually nominate The Mind Robber and Logopolis posts as some of the best you've done as well. Can't forget those.
February 15, 2015 @ 1:53 pm
Favourite posts? The Web Planet, The Daleks' Masterplan, The Mind Robber, The Claws of Axos, Mary Whitehouse, Logopolis (of course – otherwise I wouldn't have gone to the trouble of converting it to Interactive Fiction), Paradise Towers, Rose, and probably others that have slipped my mind.
Infuriating posts? None. Though I did occasionally get frustrated at some of your responses in the comments (I won't detail specifics, as I don't think that's helpful). I agree with others that (a stretch of) the Davison run is weak, and that the out-of-order River Song posts were more annoying than clever. Don't be put off experimenting, though – you have a pretty good success rate and it's better to aim high and occasionally miss.
Really looking forward to Recursive Occlusion, by the way – though international shipping means it'll be a while yet…
February 15, 2015 @ 5:38 pm
Hope I’m not too late here to comment, have loved reading everyone's highlights above. For myself I came aboard with the blog in around October 2012, I guess around the time you were bringing the classic series to an end and getting into the books. I was drawn in by the fact that you were actually covering so much of the wilderness years and setting them in the proper context. For me that period during the nineties when the show was not on the air was in many ways a time when I rediscovered and cemented my love of Doctor Who, and to this day I probably spend more time reading Who novels and listening to Audio Plays than I do watching the actual programme, and actually it took me a long time to warm to the new series as a result of this.
In terms of the posts of yours I have loved the most, as one or two people have mentioned above, the Paradise Towers one stands out. Beautifully written and also reflecting my own experience with that series. I was born in ‘76 so very much a child of the Davison era. When he left and Colin Baker took over I fell very much out of love with the show, despite being an 8/9 year old boy (surely a key demographic for the audience). I was glad to see the back of him when 87 came around (I have of course grown to love him on audio) .I came back into the fold for the remained of the classic run. Paradise Towers was the episode that convinced me that this was my series again and your reading of it really captures why. I still love it to his day (love the target novelisation too which has one of my favourite covers of the range). I have also loved your coverage of the Moffat era, which on the whole I have loved (which has always managed to feel both completely new and also much more like the classic series as it exists in my head than the Davies era).
As for stuff I disagreed with, well your post on Neverland nearly made my head explode, giving a reading that compared it to the War on Terror. I love that second season of Eight Doctor Audios and generally I thought at the time you were far too harsh on it, Time of the Daleks is probably my favourite Dalek story of all time and Neverland was for me a strong end to a wonderful series. I also remember being really disappointed that you were so harsh on Babylon 5, which, alongside DS9 and The Simpsons was the TV highlight of the nineties for me. In a way my love for B5 is like my love for Doctor Who, in that I can see the weaknesses in it and understand the criticisms of it but I love it nonetheless.
Interestingly I’ve now gone back and read both of your posts I just mentioned and found I agreed with much more in them now than I did at the time which I think reflects how much this blog has influenced how I interact with Doctor Who and other shows I like. In a sense that was why I was one of the people who made the point of saying how much I enjoyed your blog despite disagreeing with much of it, I meant it as a compliment. By which I mean despite not sharing your political worldview (I am a bit of a woolly New-Labour type centrist I suppose) the quality your writing is so great that, even when I find myself shouting at the screen because I disagree so much with something you have said, I am forced to acknowledge how well a point is argued and, often later on my own views are influenced by that.
February 15, 2015 @ 7:09 pm
Hi! First-time commenter. I discovered your blog 13 months ago, with the surprised curiosity that comes from having loved Doctor Who in the mid-1980s (I’m an American, so I saw a Pertwee-through-Colin jumble on PBS), then not having really thought about it ever again. Your entries on the Hartnell and Troughton eras were a window into a history I knew nothing about, and before I got too far I started re-watching the classic series, starting with the Doctors I knew and then moving on.
A few months ago I talked my wife into trying Nu Who, and by now we’ve gotten as far as “Rings of Akhaten”. We regularly finish an episode, analyze it together, then have me go read-aloud you and/or Andrew Hickey and/or Jack Graham and/or Andrew Rilstone and/or Lawrence Miles, and it’s been a blast. Your perspectives and ours are often quite different, which doesn’t reduce the pleasure of it at all.
My favorite of your reviews is probably one of “Mind Robber”, “War Games”, “the Two Doctors”, “Slipback”, “Curse of the Fatal Death”, “Empty Child/ Doctor Dances”, or “the Beast Below”. Jack’s very negative review of “the Beast Below” is one of his best reviews, too, and I can’t disagree with any of it, but the combined result of reading both of yours was to take an episode I’d already really liked, and leave me liking it more.
Irritants: well, I still don’t see why Adric sacrificing himself to save planet Earth from a fiery extinction-level crash struck you as empty. “Earthshock” is terrible except for the Adric arc, but that I loved, and “now I’ll never know if I was right” was a perfect last statement as much for its understatement in the face of calamity as for its brattiness. On a broader scale, I wish your essays about the 8th Doctor books/ audios were more review-like: I know, I know, it’s not a review blog, but for expensive material that takes special effort to find, more genuine discussion of the individual stories amid your “Here is why good stories can’t save this disastrous detour into the wilderness” meta-story would have had some real value added.
But I don’t want to end on a negative note. There’s been 50 years of an erratically wondrous TV show that I’d long since consigned to a handful of distant memories. You’re the most important figure in bringing it to life for me. Yes, I’ve bought and enjoyed some of your books. And your friend Alex’s band Seeming is pretty terrific too. Thank you!
February 15, 2015 @ 8:20 pm
I've got to second the above comment: thanks for getting me hooked on Seeming. They're fantastic.
As for the blog, well, I have a somewhat sneaky confession to make: I'm using bits and pieces of it as criticism in my undergrad honors thesis this semester (I'm lucky to have a VERY open-minded adviser), in particular your view on the cliffhanger as presented for "The Crusade." Even where I'm not using it consciously, I'm sure its influence can be felt. I'm forever in your debt (literally. Or, well, at least until the Patreon model hits some kind of wall).
I'm afraid I'll never be with you on Big Finish, admittedly, but I won't hold it against you too much.
Eagerly anticipating "Recursive Occlusion" – I may have checked Amazon every night since Tuesday for it in some vain hope…Crazier things have happened, right?
February 15, 2015 @ 8:21 pm
Well, seems I've found recursion, at least, if the end of that comment is anything to go by.
February 15, 2015 @ 8:38 pm
Just had a further thought. Death Comes to Time is great, one of the best Doctor Who stories ever made. Its got nothing to do with the rest of Doctor Who but nonetheless its great. So there!
February 15, 2015 @ 8:48 pm
Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. That history of Doctor Who was just very good. And it took me over three hours to read.
Alien Bodies, because I found Lawrence Miles' and his books to be interesting. (that came out wrong, didn't it?)
Nightmare in Silver, simply because I sorta-like it sorta-see why people don't/
Admittedly they're not part of the Eruditorium but I enjoyed the review blog bits.
February 15, 2015 @ 9:45 pm
"The Edge of Destruction"
"The Web Planet"
"Mission to the Unknown," aka Verity Lambert
"The Daleks' Master Plan"
"The Tenth Planet"
"The Enemy of the World"
"The Sun Makers"
"The Pirate Planet"
"The Twin Dilemma"
"Logopolis." I don't want to bash what so many others clearly enjoyed, but I couldn't get anything useful out of the essay because it was so florid. It just left me vaguely irritated. Also, frankly, most of the times you spoke condescendingly toward Americans kind of irked me. Was that really necessary?
As a blanket statement, I'd like to thank you for all of your First Doctor essays, period. Honestly, I had no interest in Hartnell at all until I read your words about him. Now, having watched some of his episodes with your essays in mind, I find it incredibly fascinating, appealing, and fun, despite its dated feel and pacing. The essays on "The Daleks' Master Plan" and "The Tenth Planet," in particular, I must have read dozens of times. You really did magical things to his episodes and my perception thereof, and I most humbly thank you for doing so.
February 15, 2015 @ 11:23 pm
Yes Jane, it was great listening to your analysis and appreciation of Paradise Towers – great podcast.
February 16, 2015 @ 12:45 am
Seconds here for Jill's post about death and doctors and for the Mary Whitehouse / bullying / snow Dalek piece. I also remember greatly enjoying, and getting a lot out of, the Monty Python entry, back in the day. Your attempt to correctly assign responsibility for Creature from the Pit was great… in fact, a lot of the Season 17 entries were very interesting. The shot-by-shot analysis of Rose, with its triumphant final line.
Probably my favorite comments thread discussion is the one on Wonderful Christmastime that sprang up in the Horns of Nimon entry. (You were and continue to be wrong on this one).
February 16, 2015 @ 3:06 am
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February 16, 2015 @ 3:37 am
My favorite post was the Mary Whitehouse one, I think you knocked that one out of the park. Least favorite? Meh, I'm not wild about how you handled 'tone-police-gate'. It's been a fantastic ride. I'm looking forward to the rest of the books.
February 16, 2015 @ 9:12 am
I binge-read almost all of it at the start of last year, so I wasn't following most of it week by week. I especially loved the 'redemptive readings' entries, so if I had to pick a single favourite it might be The Chase, not because it's the best but because it was the moment I thought "I'm going to have to read all of this".
My favourite section was actually the wilderness years, though. Partly because it was good to see that stuff restored and contextualised, something no other chronology of Who bothers with. Partly because it was just plain interesting, and a section of the show I'd never dug into myself. Partly because it was good to see you finally get out from under Miles and Wood, a long time after the blog had outgrown them. And partly because slogging through crap with little reward is part of the psychochronographic deal, innit. It's the stretch in which the narrative of the blog – the gradual collapse of Who as a unified concern before the triumph of "Rose" – worked particularly well, probably because it was all that was keeping you going.
As for infuriated… not really, but I only get furious at lazy or obvious criticism, which Eruditorum wasn't. There were a couple of entries where I like an episode a lot more than you – including The Invisible Enemy, of all things – but it's not a review blog. I do remember on The Power Of Kroll, reading your entry, thinking hmm, yeah, I s'pose, then reading Jack's comment below and thinking "Damn, that's more like it". So let's say then.
February 17, 2015 @ 7:00 am
Since I'm limping along through life and taking my time (though I enjoyed the recent series reviews very much) I have not read all the "Imodium" (Hey, I'm still miffed on the printing of the Hartnell book. I got printed pages from the blog shoved in there.) However, I only rarely come out with too many contrarian feelings. My fandom is of the less volatile variety. (Still think you missed a trick on "The Highlanders" review. So, wah.)
But, seriously, I've been here on and off since the beginning, lurking mostly, I have to say it's one hell of a scholarly piece of work. I can say that about very few things on the Internet.
Best post … "Rose" and that's because it actually made me like "Rose." I didn't dislike it, but I found myself waiting for Doctor Who to come back and into Doctor Who itself for sometime during those first few years. You really did a 7-10 split with that review and made me look at that episode in a completely new light. Awesome.
I also live on Planet Houston, but do not believe in magic powers … (see above)
February 17, 2015 @ 7:20 am
I should point out I was using my pre-merged with Google account "landru" back in the day.
February 18, 2015 @ 3:19 am
As with many things, the effect of any individual post is dependent upon its context as a cumulative ongoing enterprise. It's hard to pick out favourites.
Particular mentions to: The Chase for introducing the concept of narrative collapse (which I think you've made into a blander concept in subsequent posts about the Davies-era).
Also, the post on The Adventure Game, because a) I have fond nostalgic memories, and b) you describe it as the weirdest thing you've ever watched on a blog that does The Three Doctors as Blake and covers Alan Moore's spoken word pieces.
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