The struggle in terms of the strange

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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. John Peacock
    August 26, 2011 @ 2:06 am

    I wonder whether The Three Doctors isn't the first modern Doctor Who story – up to that point the series was a meandering flow of stories about this character who kept changing face and personality (and narrative format) largely in response to events and accident and budget constraint and (occasionally) whim, like a game of consequences with invading aliens in it. The Three Doctors is the first story about Doctor Who itself, which has been the main subject of the series since 1995 (and ever since Tom Baker left the series has been at least self-conscious. Self-consciousness is one thing that Baker T. could never be accused of.)


  2. mjfilla
    August 26, 2011 @ 3:42 am

    I'm trying to figure out which "disastrous" attack of Napoleon's you are referring to. The two battles France and Russia fought in 1807 – Eylau and Friedland – were a draw and a French victory, respectively. Napoleon's invasion of Russia was certainly disastrous, but it didn't happen until 1812.


  3. Spacewarp
    August 26, 2011 @ 5:04 am

    This story was a fantastic New Years treat for me. Just turned 11 a month before, and suddenly I get my childhood Doctor back (the 2nd, not the 1st). This was a very big TV event at the time of broadcast, but strangely not a tenth of the promotion you get today for just another Doctor Who series. The Radio Times had a cover edition and that was about it.


  4. 7a1abfde-af0e-11e0-b72c-000bcdcb5194
    August 26, 2011 @ 6:11 am

    "Troughton is impeccably gracious as an actor – a trait Pertwee, if we're being honest, never displayed."

    As I've argued before, there's evidence to the contrary. Your perfidious campaign against Pertwee must be oppos'd, sir!


  5. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 26, 2011 @ 7:05 am

    My point was that his grace is rather more peccable. πŸ™‚


  6. William Whyte
    August 26, 2011 @ 7:45 am

    This is a fantastically bonkers entry, and thank you for the namecheck.

    On a very prosaic level, playing to your observation about how the craftsmanship of Doctor Who gets better as time goes on: it's interesting to contrast Troughton's taunting of Omega here with his taunting of Kleig in Tomb of the Cybermen. There, it's just a lead up to the cheap shot of "now I know you're mad". Here, it's a key part of 2's attempt to find out what exactly is going on.


  7. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 26, 2011 @ 7:53 am

    Thanks for the clever insight that cleaned up my understanding of The Aztecs and Whitaker's conception of history considerably. πŸ™‚

    And glad you enjoyed the bonkers post. I hadn't unleashed the more bonkers elements of the blog since The Invasion, and this entry seemed to need it. I expect it will lose a few people who persist in thinking this is primarily a review blog (I described it to someone the other day as "currently a lengthy meditation on the role of utopianism after the 1960s that is structured around a British sci-fi show," personally), but, well, tough. This is my blog, and I am insane. πŸ™‚


  8. William Whyte
    August 26, 2011 @ 8:03 am

    "currently a lengthy meditation on the role of utopianism after the 1960s that is structured around a British sci-fi show" — you are certainly going to have fun with the Cartmel years.


  9. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 26, 2011 @ 8:13 am

    Oh, yes. Yes I am. The Cartmel era and what I want to say about it is part of why the blog exists. Through quirks of PBS schedules, the Cartmel years are the closest thing in classic Doctor Who to where I got to experience the show fresh and as a child. Sophie Aldred was my first celebrity crush. I am dying to get there. πŸ™‚


  10. Adeodatus
    August 26, 2011 @ 8:39 am

    I think I need a little lie down …

    … after that superb post. Doctor Who Blakean rather than Miltonian. Yes. Very definitely.


  11. elvwood
    August 26, 2011 @ 9:39 am



  12. Jesse
    August 26, 2011 @ 10:44 am

    Blake? You mean the guy from BLAKE'S 7?



  13. Wm Keith
    August 26, 2011 @ 10:47 am

    …well. After all that, I'm breathlessly looking forward to your thoughts on Avon. Peccavi.


  14. Aaron
    August 26, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

    I was sad to see you made no comments on how Hartnell here was now playing "The First Doctor" instead of just the Doctor, a point it sounded like you would hit on here when you mentioned it in the Tenth Planet entry. Maybe it makes more sense to do that in the Five Doctors entry.

    I also found it interesting how, between this entry and the David Bowie entry, it seems like the excesses of The Nintendo Project are finding their way into this blog now. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing, but I used to tell them apart by expecting this sort of entry from the Nintendo Project and more normal entries from this blog.


  15. William Whyte
    August 26, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

    The first episode of The Three Doctors is, if not the greatest first episode in the classic series outright, at the very least the greatest first episode of its first decade


    Great first episodes:

    An Unearthly Child
    Dalek Invasion of Earth
    The Web Planet
    The Dalek Master Plan
    Power of the Daleks
    The War Games
    The Ambassadors of Death
    Invasion of the Dinosaurs
    The Ark in Space
    The Deadly Assassin
    Talons of Weng-Chiang
    Caves of Androzani
    Remembrance of the Daleks
    Ghost Light

    Of these, Ark in Space is my favourite.

    Obviously, this tracks my favourite overall stories pretty closely.

    Fight back!


  16. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 26, 2011 @ 7:17 pm

    Certainly many of those are fantastic, although several are just fantastic for the entire run, with the first episode not standing out especially. But of that list, and controlling for things I've seen fairly recently, only Power of the Daleks and An Unearthly Child come close for me. Given that I treat An Unearthly Child as a one-episode story separate from 100,000 BC, and given that as much as I love Power, the pacing gets wonky for the middle ten minutes or so of the first episode, I stand by my assessment – the opening of this story, with its move from standard UNIT to complete chaos and the rulebook not so much being thrown out as set on fire, torn up, and then allowed to sink into the swamp, remains tops. The back three can't possibly live up to its potential and don't (though the whole thing is quite good), but the first episode is a triumph of pacing and inventiveness – exactly what you'd hope for from Baker and Martin heavily rewritten by Dicks.


  17. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 26, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

    Aaron – honestly, I think I was so taken aback by just how frail Hartnell looked that I didn't have the means to say much else. He's not playing the Doctor here, but he's not really playing the First Doctor either – it's tough to call what he's doing acting. He's clearly very sick and barely able to get through his cue cards. It's much more upsetting than I realized it would be when I wrote the Tenth Planet entry.

    As for the weirdness, I was a bit wary of putting two gonzo entries out in a week. Normal service is restored for a while now, at least through Planet of the Spiders. I just had two that seems to me to need a slightly more experimental writing style to get what I wanted to say. For the most part, this blog will remain vaguely sane. πŸ™‚


  18. Grant, the Hipster Dad
    August 28, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

    "The entry will not cohere. It will not make sense as such."

    Well, that's the damn truth.


  19. Wm Keith
    August 30, 2011 @ 12:02 am

    "Our understanding of the story must become polymorphic."

    At last, something I understand. You're talking about "Polymorph", the episode in which Red Dwarf abandoned innocence in favour of experience.


  20. Timothy Bramfeld
    February 15, 2013 @ 5:19 pm

    After reading through this post, my initial reaction:
    "That's not even a proper word! You're just saying things!"
    Still entertaining, though. πŸ™‚


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