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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. JJ
    September 5, 2011 @ 8:26 am

    One of the annoying things is that, if you ignore the Green Death, you really can draw an arc of character growth for Jo from Terror of the Autons to Frontier and Planet. Green Death just tramples it so completely it virtually destroys an otherwise wonderful character.


  2. David
    September 5, 2011 @ 10:14 am

    One of your best entries, there (perhaps because I agree with all your points! 😉 ). Green Death is a story I've always had some trouble with. I do like bits of it – mainly the BOSS plot – but the pollution stuff seems to have been written by a well meaning 10 year old. Jo's first scene, reading the paper and crying "Criminal, absolutely criminal! Don't they know how much POLLUTION that'll cause?" is particularly toe-curling, though Manning doesn't help matters by delivering some of her worst acting for it. And making Mike Yates the focal point of ANY subplot is always a mistake (which it shouldn't be as he's potentially one of the most interesting characters – or would be if he wasn't totally miscast).

    But the emotional scenes at the end do pack a punch, even if they narrative logic goes out the window. Jon is great throughout the whole story – being on the backfoot for much of it, and genuinely petulent at times (like deliberately taking Cliff away to chat so he can't spend the evening snogging Jo at the end of episode 3). There's lots of to love in this story and lots to deride. A bizarre fusion.


  3. adamriggio
    September 5, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

    As usual, an insightful account that gives an eloquent alternative to the reputation The Green Death seems to have built historically in Who fandom. But I wouldn't say the Welsh were all turned into comedy yokels to the degree you describe. The miners in episodes one and two certainly carry themselves with more dignity than the hippie cutout scientists of the Nuthutch in later parts of the story. Bert, the miner who befriends Jo, I found remarkably well-acted for a part whose main purpose is to gain sympathy and die.

    And there are some scenes between Cliff and Jo where he actually acts quite nicely toward her, and they do sell their quiet scenes together to the point that their relationship is at least plausible.

    One thing I particularly enjoyed about this story (more than the story itself, actually) was the DVD extra, revisiting Llanfairfach decades later. In a way, Mark Gatiss continues the story after the Doctor left it through a ten minute comedy sketch. It takes all the weird juxtapositions you've been focussing on in your account of the Pertwee era and plays them for laughs. Are you thinking about, at some point in the future, involving some of the ways the show is understood through the eyes of the fans who've become content producers?


  4. ventricle
    January 6, 2012 @ 1:31 am

    This show can't really be accused of turning all Welsh into comedy yokels when Cliff is speaking with a Welsh accent throughout!


  5. thingsiambotheredby
    May 14, 2013 @ 7:37 pm

    As someone with no childhood nostalgia for the classic series, I think the Drashigs look excellent.They seem very alive yet very alien.


  6. Daibhid C
    May 27, 2013 @ 11:54 am

    Interestingly, as I understand it (it's been a long time since I read it, so I'm getting this from a DWM feature) one of the way the novelisation deals with the problematic characterisation is by saying Cliff isn't actually Welsh at all. And at a stroke, the scene where he's hectoring the residents of Llanfairfach goes from "dumb yokels don't understand the important scientist" to "ordinary people won't listen to the condescending prat".


  7. orfeo
    December 22, 2013 @ 12:38 am

    I thought the Drashigs were fine as well. A lot better than the fly in this story…

    Conversely, I think that this had some of the best Captain Yates material of any story. I know that's not setting the bar very high, but I noticed that I was NOT cringing.

    Also, I think your complaint about the use of the crystal is somewhat unfair. I agree with you, this shouldn't be seen as part of some grand multi-story Metebelis 3 arc, but WITHIN this story, it seems perfectly acceptable to use something that has been quietly mentioned in earlier episodes and suddenly make it more significant. Many stories by many authors do this – some more skilfully, admittedly, but it is a very common technique to mention something that initially appears unimportant that proves far important later on. And the fact is, come Episode 5 you do recognise the crystal and know where it's come from. On that basis, I don't think it really qualifies as a deus ex machina.


  8. Stven Lerson
    May 26, 2014 @ 8:52 pm

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  9. lady
    March 19, 2015 @ 4:20 am

    Because she got married?


  10. lady
    March 19, 2015 @ 4:29 am

    This is a very interesting essay!

    Aww, poor drashigs. I guess that watching it for the first time in 2015 makes me more forgiving to bad FX, but I like them, I think they look menacing. And the effing maggots are the ONLY monster in all of Doctor Who that I found creepy (although I think their overuse in bad montages made them look kinda toy-like and cute by the end).

    I've always found Mike Yates utterly charming, sometimes even better than Benton.

    And I don't see where the things you say about Cliff come from? From the actual episodes, he's a hippie scientist in a comune. And because he's the only man it doesn't mean he's the leader; he's just the one the plot spends more time on because he's Jo's love interest. As for "Utopian visionary looking to rework the world into his own preferred form" – add drugs, and that's a hippie. In fact, he is not too keen on doing much other than research and protests. When Jo goes "we need to do something NOW" he answers "can't, I'm researching mushrooms". She is the one that immediately runs off to stop the eeevil corporation.

    And I thought he and Jo were adorable. Cliff is actually much LESS insulting of her than Three; in fact, most of his thoughtless words come from being distracted, or from being worried that she almost got killed.

    As for the end, I think that if a running plot ended up happening (even if by accident), then that's what happened. To slam it down because it wasn't all planned from the start makes viewing DW as a whole impossible – they've been winging it from the very start.


  11. Juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude
    January 2, 2023 @ 12:02 pm

    Thank you for this great writeup. I love everything you wrote about the final scene in particular.


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