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Top Ten: 10 Mad Fan Theories (That Might Actually Be True)

Posted by emmahyam on December 9, 2011

Doctor Who has been with us now for 48 years and naturally in a show with such a long run somethings just don’t make sense. With thousands of hours of televised adventures, hundreds of novels and audio plays, some considered canonical, some not. Some events enshrined into accepted continuity and then retconned back out, some gaps will appear or indeed things that the fans plain just don’t like will be enforced by the producers. Where they do fan theories will step in to fill the holes, here are my top ten favourites, of course your mileage will vary about how convincing they are, as always please read with caution as there be SPOILERS below…

10) The “Five Peri’s” Theory.

After the revelation of Peri’s fate in “Trial of a Timelord” what subsequently happens to her has become somewhat of a mystery with various novels and audio plays either trying to entirely retcon the bizarre decision to marry her off to Yrcanos or have her leave him and somehow get back to Earth. The recent audio play “Peri and the Piscon Paradox” has proposed the idea that there are no fewer than five versions of poor old Peri in existence due to the Time Lords interference in her personal time line, one who was killed in “Mindwarp”, one who married Yrcanos, an older version who only remembers the events of “Planet of Fire” and two others of which nothing is known.

9) The War Chief is a prior regeneration of the Master.

The War Chief is a powerful renegade Time Lord, during the events of “The War Games” he conspires with a very powerful alien race bringing his knowledge of time travel and hypnosis to the table, sound familiar? In terms of personality The War Chief certainly could be the Master, hes arrogant, ambitious, lusts for power and exhibits a fondness for elaborate facial hair. The idea that The War Chief is in fact an earlier incarnation of the Master certainly hold some weight on this basis, the idea first came about when “The Doctor Who Role Playing Game” claimed that The Meddling Monk, The War Chief and The Master were all different incarnations of the same Time Lord. This idea has been accepted as unofficial canon and then contradicted in equal measure with some novels using it as an established fact and some directly stating that this is not the case.

8 ) The Doctor was being metaphorical when he said he was half-human.

This idea originated in fan circles in reaction to the Eighth Doctor’s statement that he was “half human on his mothers side” in the TV Movie. The TV Movie aka “The Enemy Within” presented many problems with canon to say the least but The Doctor coming out with this ‘revelation’ lead to fandom nearly imploding with rage. The implications of The Doctor not being entirely Time Lord were massive, how did he regenerate? How was he brought up Gallifrey if he was partially human? Who on Earth was his mother? The questions raised seemed endless, however a way out presented itself by dismissing the statement as being entirely factious. The Doctor, especially in his later incarnations, is a pretty sarcastic and the king of the wind up and as such the remark can be interpreted as affectionate or a joke. Just as the Eleventh Doctor’s remark to Clyde in The Sarah Jane Adventures episode “Death of the Doctor” that he can regenerate 507 times has been filed under “disregard as joke” by fandom so has The Doctor’s claim to half-humanity.

7) Time Lords only gain their second heart after their first regeneration.

When the first Doctor claims to Ian Chesterton that he is not from Earth, the long suffering science teacher puts his ear to the Doctors chest… and hears nothing unusual, the Doctor must only have one heart beating. We know from the third doctor that having two hearts is the norm for Time Lords, his medical tests during “Spearhead From Space” confirm it and many times since then it has been explicitly stated or shown, after all the seventh Doctor is killed because of Grace’s misunderstanding of his binary hearts. So something must change between the first and third Doctors, the most popular explanation is that a Time Lord only gains a second heart once they’ve regenerated for the first time.

6) Claire Bloom’s character in “The End of Time” is The Doctor’s mother.

The mystery of who exactly Claire Bloom’s character is in “The End of Time” will probably never be resolved on screen and as such the wild speculation as to her precise identity began almost as soon as the credits rolled on the episode. The most popular explanation amongst fans is that she is The Doctor’s mother, in his book “The Writers Tale” Russell T Davies stated that this was his thinking behind the character but he left it deliberately ambiguous. The tenth Doctor’s reaction to her certainly backs up the hypothesis but now RTD has left the series and he did not give an in-episode explanation she could be given any number of alternative identities. Other popular alternative identities include Romana, Susan, Susan’s mother (i.e. The Doctor’s biological daughter), Jenny or even Chancellor Flavia the former Time Lord President.

5) The Third Doctor has a prisoner tattoo

In the third Doctor’s first episode “Spearhead From Space” we are treated to the sight of the Doctor getting out of the shower, while he holding a towel a tattoo of a cobra can be seen on his right forearm (see picture above) in reality the tattoo was Jon Pertwee’s which he got during his days in the navy. No explanation was ever given on screen but the novel “Christmas on a Rational Planet” and fandom at large theorised that it was a criminal brand given to him by the Time Lords and that once they rescinded his exile they stopped it appearing on his next regeneration. A possible interesting (but quite tangential) moment in “The Doctor’s Wife” that could lend the theory further credence is that The Doctor’s fellow Time Lord The Corsair wears a tattoo on all his/her regenerations, a Oroborus, a snake eatings its own tail. When The Doctor discovers it on Auntie the tattoo is on the left arm, is it possible that The Corsair was also a criminal and first given that mark by the Time Lords?

4) The fifth Doctor is the final incarnation of the original Doctor. The Sixth Doctor is a reincarnation, and the beginning of a new 13 body lifecycle.

In the episode “The Brain of Morbius” The Doctor challenges the renegade Time Lord Morbius to an ancient, dangerous Time Lord challenge, a Mind Bending Contest (see picture above). They square up at the machine and The Doctor’s previous incarnations flash up on a screen, the third, the second, the first… and then an unfamiliar face flashes up, then another and another as Morbius screams “back! Back through your past!” Eight in all flash by. If all those faces were previous Doctors then that means that the person who we all thought was the fourth Doctor is actually the twelfth! When the fifth Doctor (or should that be thirteenth?) regenerates he says “it feels different this time” and then transforms into the sixth Doctor… or begins a brand new lifecycle and is in fact the first Doctor… again. This theory has also been used to explain the sixth Doctor’s unhinged behavior and total confusion. This theory has been utterly debunked by virtually every other piece of Doctor Who canon, “The Brain of Morbius” was written some time before the 13 regeneration limit was established and the series (especially post 2005) has gone to great pains to establish that The Doctor we are watching is either the ninth, tenth or eleventh and that William Hartnell was the very first Doctor. The faces that we see in the mind bending machine have been explained away as being previous faces of Morbius and that he was just ranting when he said “how long have you lived?”… or was he?

3) The Time War was the cause of the 8th Doctor regenerating into the 9th.

This is an idea that has now been generally accepted into the canon, the tenth Doctor implies in “Journey’s End” that the ninth Doctor was “born into battle”, its easy to imagine the eighth Doctor sacrificing himself to time lock the Daleks and Time Lords and leaving an emotionally scarred, newly regenerated ninth Doctor to walk away. This is one of the theories that will probably be an accepted albeit unstated part of the canon until we get an alternative presented on screen.

2) Series 6b

This is the big one, the granddaddy of all fan theories, first raised by Paul Cornell, writer of Doctor Who novels, audio plays and episodes for the new series. It explains continuity discrepancies in the Second Doctor’s life as it expands on televised Doctor Who canon and places new adventures for the Second Doctor between The War Games and the first appearance of the Third Doctor at the start of Spearhead from Space. There are two continuity errors in “The Two Doctors” which can only explained by the existence of a series 6b where The Doctor was working for the Time Lords, firstly why the second Doctor and Jamie look visibly older and secondly why the Doctor had a remote controlled TARDIS which no other Doctor has had before or since. Despite series 6b being a neat explanation it also raises plenty of problems on its own if accepted as part of official canon.

1) The “Take 5” Theory.

This theory proposes that every incarnation of the Doctor is most like the incarnation that came five changes previously, so the sixth Doctor is like the first Doctor, the seventh is like the second, the eighth is like the third and so on. On the face of it this theory makes quite a lot of sense, for instance the seventh Doctor is a mysterious trickster of short stature who people constantly underestimate, quite like the second doctor. The theory seems especially convincing in the case of the tenth and fifth Doctors, just watch “Time Crash” which is essentially ten minute long proof of this theory in action! Unfortunately this theory hits a major roadblock in the fourth and ninth Doctors as the ninth Doctor could not be further removed from the fourth Doctor if you tried, I await the twelfth incarnation of the Doctor with baited breath, if only to see if they’re anything like the seventh Doctor…

Have you got any strange theories? What do you think of these ones? Let me know in the comments!


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Top Ten: The Weirdest Companion Exits

Posted by emmahyam on November 21, 2011

In the world of Doctor Who the friends The Doctor travels with are just as important to the story as the good Doctor himself, they are our window into the fantastical world he inhabits. When a companion decides to leave the Doctor’s company its a sometimes a sombre occasion, or sometimes a cause for bittersweet happiness as someone take their chance to spread their wings away from The Doctor and every so often the manner in which the companion leaves is just downright strange. In this post I’ll explore the ten strangest ways in which some of our faithful friends have moved on from the Who-niverse. As always I wont be shying away from SPOILERS for this post so please read with caution, also I’ve picked this list based purely off what we see of the Doctor’s televised adventures, not any of the books or audio plays.

10) Liz Shaw

Liz Shaw is a strange case all around, although generally regarded as a companion of The Doctor by fans she never gets to travel in the TARDIS as The Doctor is confined to the Earth by the Time Lords, she is there as she’s on attachment to UNIT and ends up being The Doctor’s assistant by default as shes the only one who can keep up with him, having several degrees across several disciplines. Her odd status very contributes to her equally odd exit, she never gets one. Sometime in between the end of series seven’s “Inferno” and the beginning of series eight shown in the events of “Terror of the Autons” she just disappears, sending a message via The Brigadier that shes gone back to Cambridge to continue her own studies, stating that all the Doctor needed was “someone to pass him his test tubes and tell him how brilliant he was.” Considering that Liz is replaced by Jo Grant, perhaps the archetypal ‘ask-stupid-questions-and-get-kidnapped-a lot’ companion I don’t think she was too far off the mark.

9) Leela

Leela, daughter of Sole, warrior of The Sevateem, blasphemer, stowaway and ultra violent Eliza Doolittle, what fate would befit her? Glorious death defending her people? Leaving the Doctor to lead the Sevateem or perhaps another tribe in need of the knowledge she could bring? Nope, she declares that shes in love with someone she has virtually no screen time with. In “The Invasion of Time” while Leela traipses around the hinterlands of Gallifrey trying to jolly together support for The Doctors throughly bonkers plan, The Doctor is lumbered with dragging around Andred, the nice-but-dim Commander of the Chancellory Guard. After The Doctor’s plan somehow comes together and its time to be off on the next adventure, Leela declares that shes staying on Gallifrey because shes in love with a just as surprised as we are Andred, to which The Doctor just shrugs his shoulders and leaves. While the “falling in love with a random person from the story” exit strategy is by no means unusual for companions, Leela’s is so out of character its embarrassing and its someone she has no time alone with, she might as well as shacked up with Castellan Kelner! Also for those of us who care about such things it directly contradicts previous canon that stated the aliens are not allowed on Gallifrey, which after all why Sarah Jane Smith has to leave The Doctor!

8 ) Tegan Jovanka

Everyones favourite stroppy mouth on legs Tegan always seemed like a somewhat reluctant TARDIS traveller, she spends most of her time aboard wanting to leave and having passive-aggressive arguments with some of her fellow travellers, Tegan’s final departure from the TARDIS comes after months of painful events, the death of Adric, her possession by The Mara, Nyssa’s decision to leave and the bloody beginning of the Dalek civil war all prove too much. Tegan seemingly decides on the spot at the end of “Resurrection of the Daleks” to leave The Doctor’s company, says a extremely perfunctory and accusatory goodbye to The Doctor and Turlough and runs out of the warehouse, but then almost immediately seems to change her mind, only to see that the TARDIS has already left. I think this departure is odd as it seems to come out of nowhere and Tegan leaves the Doctor on a fairly bitter note, a pretty unusual choice.

7) Romana I

After her adventures searching for the Key to Time with The Doctor everything seems fine and dandy with our resident Time Lady, as the fourth doctor chats to her from the console room Romana enters, looking completely different she apparently decides to regenerate just for the hell of it, eventually settling on a form resembling Princess Astra. This is an odd exit for me as not only do we  not get a chance to say a proper goodbye to a character but there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the regeneration at all.

6) Peri (Perpugilliam) Brown

Peri’s adventures with the Doctor were always a bit… troubled to say the least, poor old Peri could make lists like this several times over, its not many companions who are nearly throttled to death by the Doctor, however its when we get to her final appearance in “Mindwarp” part of the infamous “Trial of a Timelord” series that things get really weird. At the end of the episode Peri is killed when Lord Kiv replaces her brain with his and Kiv-in-Peri’s-body is killed by Yrcanos (as played by a typically bombastic Brian Blessed). Just as you’re getting over this out of the blue death of another companion, it is revealed to the Doctor, in a pretty “oh by the way” style by The Inquisitor, that Peri was rescued from the time stream at the last second and allowed to live out her days as a warrior queen alongside Yrcanos. As if that wasn’t demented enough the episode “The Ultimate Foe” chooses to portray this by showing Peri and Yrcanos in the only scene they’re in together in “Mindwarp” inside a pink loveheart (see picture above), and the Doctor never bothers to go back for her.

5) Dodo Chaplet

I guarantee that anyone playing the “name all the companions of The Doctor game” will probably forget one along the way and that one will probably be Dodo, although she travels with The Doctor for all of series 3 most details of Dodo’s life, her childhood, the reasons she started and stopped travelling with the Doctor, and even her death are shrouded in a confusion created by several highly contradictory and speculative accounts. Her departure is extremely bizarre, in “The War Machines” after being brainwashed by WOTAN The Doctor sends Dodo away to recuperate in the country, however she never returns, sending her key to the TARDIS back with Polly, no explanation, no goodbyes, very strange indeed.

4) Adam

There isn’t really a lot to say about Adam, the forgotten companion of the new series (I think its telling that Adam is just about the only character that doesn’t make a return appearance in “The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End”) however is exit is remarkable as he is the only companion that has ever been ‘fired’ by The Doctor for not being good enough and messing up. Lots of companions make mistakes or disobey The Doctor, indeed quite a few stories would never happen if it wasn’t for a companion wandering off somewhere or touching something they shouldn’t, I think The Doctor just plain didn’t like the guy.

3) Kamelion

Poor, poor Kamelion, the unfortunate, malfunctioning, weak willed android disaster, seemingly realising he was just too rubbish to live, he asks The Doctor to put him out of his misery and kill him, which the Doctor does, if the Doctor effectively murdering one of his companions isn’t weird, then I don’t know what is.

2) Adric

Oh goodness me, Adric. He dies heroically saving the Earth, crashing into the prehistoric planet, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs, the reason why I find this one a weird exit is The Doctor’s reluctance to save him from his fate, the TARDIS is damaged in “Earthshock” but he still chooses not to travel back in time and save him once its started working again. The introduction of the “fixed points in time” concept in recent series actually lends us a nifty piece of possible retcon, if Adric’s death is a fixed point in established history then it would cause a paradox if he saved Adric, however the Doctor doesn’t bring any of his up at the time so it really seems like he just can’t be bothered.

1) Susan

Put yourself in Susan’s shoes, you go to an Earth devastated by a Dalek Invasion, you’re separated from your Grandfather and friends and meet a freedom fighter called David Campbell, you fall in love with him and your Grandfather, deciding from completely out of nowhere that you’re far too dependent on him, locks you out of your home and leaves you with a near total stranger in a destroyed, terribly dangerous city after making some half hearted promises that he’ll pop back and see you sometime. Couldn’t The Doctor have least dropped them off somewhere nice instead of leaving them in a post apocalyptic wasteland? Susan’s enforced exit is made all the weirder by the fact that The Doctor is stranding his own grandchild in a total hellhole with someone shes only just met!

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Top Ten: My Favourite Doctor Who Stories (Part 2)

Posted by emmahyam on November 7, 2011

Welcome to my second installment of my top ten Doctor Who stories, this time focusing on the post 2005 episodes, once again I’m not shying away from SPOILERS here so proceed at your own risk. I’d love to know what your favourite stories are so please leave a comment below! Lets begin with…

10) School Reunion

School Reunion could have easily fallen into the trap of “Very Special Episode” bringing back as it did the wonderful and sadly missed Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, luckily for us the episode neatly side steps the schmaltz in favour of a good, strong story. The acting talent is on good form, Anthony Head’s Mr. Finch making for a great baddie, Noel Clarke’s Mickey Smith making a solid return and upgrades Mickey from being mostly useless in the viewers mind and Lis Sladen moves back into Sarah Jane’s skin as if she’d never been off our screens, don’t forget that this success of this episode lead directly to the creation of The Sarah Jane Adventures. I’ve found that this is a story that benefits immensely from repeated viewing, on the first pass its a great, traditional Who story but on the rewatch the subtle themes of pain and loss that weave through the episode come to the foreground, making this installment stand out.

9) Partners in Crime

My second favourite season opener since the shows return Partners in Crime is a wonderful romp from beginning to end, moving effortlessly from brilliantly funny to poignant. This episode also does a great job of redefining the character of Donna Noble in only 20 minutes, utterly erasing the screechy, annoying Donna we first met in “The Runaway Bride”. This episode makes a great use of Catherine Tate’s comedic talent, especially in the scene where the Doctor and Donna, separated by a room but able to see each other through a window mime their adventures so far at each other. I also love that the script keeps our two protagonists separated for most of the episode  so when they finally bump into each other you feel like punching the air with delight.

8 ) Amy’s Choice

I love surreal, labyrinthine plots and this episode delivers that in spades, also I love the exploration of the relationships between The Doctor, Amy and Rory. If nothing else this is the episode that proves beyond doubt that Amy really does love Rory after 6 episodes of mixed signals. We also get a  good long look at The Doctor’s always just below the surface dark side. I really hope we get another encounter with The Dream Lord who is wonderfully brought to life by Toby Jones.

7) The Time of Angels

After their stunning debut the Weeping Angels needed an appropriately awesome return and The Time of Angels delivers in spades, it also gives us the return of the lovely River Song who makes the entrance to end all entrances. What I really enjoy about this story is that it takes an brilliant Who monster and actually makes them even more scary! It shows us the full, horrifying power of one of the most ruthless and unstoppable baddies the Doctor has every encountered with Amy’s predicament becoming genuinely disturbing, the part where she rubs her eye and a bunch of dust falls out makes me shudder every time.

6) The Girl in the Fireplace

For me, this is the episode that got Steven Moffat the job as Doctor Who supremo, an amazing, melancholy love story with such a clever plot the episode actually suffers from being constrained to 45 minutes, this could have been a movie. Sophia Myles is excellent as Madame de Pompadour and her chemistry with David Tennant is very apparent. Even though it constitutes a continuity error as Moffat hadn’t read the script for “School Reunion” I also like the less acrimonious relationship between Mickey and Rose as most episodes with them in made me wonder why they were ever a couple to begin with. The script really sings in this episode and I love the final reveal of the name of the space ship our heroes are on, as all the pieces fall neatly into place.

5) The Unicorn and the Wasp

If you look up “romp” in the dictionary I think you’ll find a screen shot from this episode, this one is just great fun from beginning to end and uses one of the great Who traditions of taking real events (the mystery of Agatha Christie’s 10 day disappearance)  and revealing that the good Doctor had more than little involvement. This one is not just funny, its also clever, putting in loads of references for Christie buffs and once you realise that our heroes are stuck in the middle of an Agatha Christie mystery thats happening for real its great fun to play along and see if you can figure it out before The Doctor.

4) Eleventh Hour

My favourite series opener, its a brilliant introduction to our new cast of characters and a rip-roaring adventure, I love that hurls you straight in the deep end as The Doctor tries to deal with a turbulent regeneration and the imminent destruction of the Earth. Matt Smith comes out of the blocks sprinting in his performance as The Doctor, wiping away all worries that he wouldn’t be able to fill the shoes of the previous TARDIS occupant. I really enjoyed Moffat doing something different with the companions as well fully exploiting the time travel element of the show in a way that no one else really has. Groundbreaking and awesome.

3) The Doctor’s Wife

The jewel in the crown of series 6, touching, funny, devastating and ultimately triumphant this is a truly beautiful story focusing on the  real love story in Doctor Who, between The Doctor and the TARDIS. Plaudits must go to Suranne Jones, asked to personify a machine which exists in all time and space and is thousands of years old she pulls it off with aplomb. For us old hands though the sheer amount of call backs to the classic years, which all feel completely natural, is wonderful. Its also a story which has endless potential for expansion, I wonder if we’ve really seen the last of House and I really hope that one day we get to meet The Corsair, who sounds like a great foil for the Doctor.

2) Turn Left

One of my very favourite types of story in any genre is Alternative History and this one of the best examples ever done in genre TV, on  the face of it this episode is “Sliding Doors” done Who style but as the nightmare begins to unfold we realise that this is so much more and the profound effect that The Doctor has on the lives he touches. Catherine Tate’s second attempt at playing the “unenlightened” Donna is much more successful this time around and RTD’s writing of this alternate Donna is incredible. The dystopian Britain that we end up in is brilliantly realised and when the government starts the internment of foreign nationals it becomes utterly terrifying. I really enjoyed the reveal that the “time beetle” is part of the Trickster’s Horde in a lovely reference to The Sarah Jane Adventures and the Bad Wolf revelation is shocking and exciting, even years later.

1) Blink

What can I say about this episode that hasn’t been said before? Incredible acting, great characters, touching and funny dialogue, a brilliantly clever idea  and the single most terrifying monster ever conceived of in Doctor Who history, not only one of the greatest Doctor Who episodes ever made but one of the greatest examples of genre TV in the last 10 years. Simply amazing.

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Top Ten: My Favourite Doctor Who Stories (Part 1)

Posted by emmahyam on October 13, 2011

Welcome to my first top ten list of the post-season, and of course straight off the bat, I’m cheating (a bit) by doing a two part list, this is a list of my favourite  stories from the classic series, the second part will be a run down of the same for the post 2005 run. Be warned however, I’m not going to shy away from SPOILERS here, so if you’ve yet to see these stories and want to remain unspoiled, proceed with extreme caution.

So without further ado, lets begin..

10) Carnival of Monsters

My second favourite Third Doctor adventure, in this serial the Doctor and Jo, aiming for Metebelis Three and missing it end up on a mysterious cruise ship the SS Bernice and needless to say shenanigans ensue as they eventually realise that they’re trapped inside the Miniscope. This is a machine that keeps miniaturised groups of creatures in miniaturised versions of their natural environments as an entertainment, not least of all the notorious Drashig (see the pic above). This story is wonderful, the relationship between The Doctor and Jo is never better, Jon Pertwee plays his interpretation of The Doctor at his putting-the-world-to-rights best as he shuts down the Miniscope. I also love travelling showman Vorg and his assistant Shirna in some top notch support work, but I think I thing I love the most is the quality of the FX work, the scene where Vorg tries to extract the TARDIS from the Miniscope, and look at the Drashig! Its the skull of a fox inside a handpuppet but on screen its awesome and scary!

9) Tomb of the Cybermen

Without doubt my most loved of the Second Doctors serials, The Doctor, Jamie and Victoria tag along with an archaeological expedition on Telos who are trying to find the remains of the legendary Cybermen who apparently died out 500 years previously, this being Doctor Who, of course it turns out the Cybermen aren’t quite as extinct as everyone thought. This adventure is simply great, a rip-roaring boys own tale. Matt Smith cites this story as direct inspiration for his Doctors look and general demeanor and he couldn’t have picked a better model as Patrick Troughton is on fire in this one. The script is amazing and has two of my favourite bits of dialogue in all of Classic Who, firstly theres The Doctor’s withering put down of Klieg:

Eric Klieg: Doctor, you seem to be very familiar with this place.
The Doctor: Oh no, not really, um, it’s all based on symbolic logic, the same as you use in computers. The opening mechanism to this door, an or-gate you call it.
Eric Klieg: Yes yes, I can see that, but how did you know in the first place?
The Doctor: Oh, I used my own special technique.
Eric Klieg: Oh really Doctor, and may we know what that is?
The Doctor: Keeping my eyes open and my mouth shut.

Then theres The Doctor comforting a in mourning Victoria in a wonderful early glimpse into The Doctor’s loneliness:

The Doctor: Are you happy with us, Victoria?
Victoria: Yes, I am. At least, I would be if my father were here.
The Doctor: Yes, I know, I know.
Victoria: I wonder what he would have thought if he could see me now.
The Doctor: You miss him very much, don’t you?
Victoria: It’s only when I close my eyes. I can still see him standing there, before those horrible Dalek creatures came to the house. He was a very kind man, I shall never forget him. Never.
The Doctor: No, of course you won’t. But, you know, the memory of him won’t always be a sad one.
Victoria: I think it will. You can’t understand, being so ancient.
The Doctor: Eh?
Victoria: I mean old.
The Doctor: Oh.
Victoria: You probably can’t remember your family.
The Doctor: Oh yes, I can when I want to. And that’s the point, really. I have to really want to, to bring them back in front of my eyes. The rest of the time they… they sleep in my mind and I forget. And so will you. Oh yes, you will. You’ll find there’s so much else to think about. To remember. Our lives are different to anybody else’s. That’s the exciting thing, that nobody in the universe can do what we’re doing.

Simply wonderful.

8 ) The Caves of Androzani

Recently voted the number one classic Doctor Who story by readers of Doctor Who Magazine to say this story is seminal doesn’t quite  do it justice. The Fifth Doctor and Peri get caught up in the politics of mining spectrox, the most valuable substance in the universe, things are further complicated when Peri contracts spectrox toxaemia and The Doctor makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his friend. Its such a crying shame that the Fifth Doctor’s adventures came to an end here but on the other hand what an incredible way for Peter Davison to bow out. His rescue of Peri at the cost of his own life is heartbreaking and Davison is magnificent, the story is also gifted with truly memorable baddies in the shape of Sharaz Jek and fourth wall breaking Morgus. I defy any fan not to join in with The Doctor as he yells “I’m not going to let you stop me now!” during the episode three cliffhanger.

7) Ghost Light

The Seventh Doctor and Ace’s finest hour, Ghost Light is a dark, gothic fariy tale where in 1883 the mansion house of Gabriel Chase in Perivale near London is under the control of the mysterious Josiah Samuel Smith the TARDIS arrives and there is a deadly test in store for Ace. This is a serial I’ve seen many times but I’m still not quite sure what actually happens! Its an unforgiving, complex tale that forms what fans call “The Ace Trilogy” a three-story arc that explores the turbulent personal history of the Doctor’s companion, Ace. Such detailed exploration of a companion’s earlier life was unusual in the original series and that dear reader is the origin of modern Doctor Who as we know it, emphasizing the Doctor and the companion equally.

6) The Time Meddler

Choosing a first doctor tale for this list was really hard, because so many of them deserve multiple spots here, although I love stories like “The Romans” and “The Aztecs” “The Time Meddler” presses all the buttons that for me make a great Who serial. The TARDIS lands in 1066 on the coast of Northumbria, and their arrival has been witnessed by a Monk who oddly does not seem fazed by the materialisation. It has great humour, a delicious baddie in the shape of The Meddling Monk (some fan theories hold that he is in fact an early incarnation of The Master), a wonderfully complex plot and a really cool “alternative history” setting. Its by no means perfect but I defy you not to shout “YES! IN YOUR FACE!” when The Doctor totally flim-flams The Meddling Monk to strand him in 1066.

5) State of Decay

This story marks the beginning of the “E-Space” trilogy of stories that came towards the end of Tom Baker’s reign as the Doctor, conventional fan wisdom holds that the quality of Tom Baker stories drops off sharply post series 17 but there is some real excellence to be had, and this story is by far my favourite of the bunch. Canny readers will probably be concluding that I tend towards the “goth” in my stories and there is no story more goth than this, the Doctor, Adric and Romana arrive on a planet experiencing what appears to be a feudal period. The villagers live under the thrall of three lords—Zargo, Camilla, and Aukon (AKA The Three Who Rule) who dwell in a shadowy Tower, for me the serial is like if Castlevania and Hammer Horror had a child and stuck Tom Baker in and its absolutely magnificent for it. The design alone makes this episode stand out, just look at the richness of the Tower, the relationship between The Doctor and Romana is never better (as in real life Tom Baker and Lalla Ward’s love affair was at its hight) and the story adds greatly to the mythology of Gallifrey and its ancient past.

4) The Mind of Evil

Number 10 on this list was my second favourite Jon Pertwee tale, and heres my absolute  favourite, this is another story that has several contenders for its spot (oh how it pains me to leave “Inferno” out!) but this story completely made me fall in love with Pertwee’s  interpretation of the good Doctor. In the serial The Doctor and Jo visit Stangmoor Prison to examine a new method of “curing” criminality, whereby the negative impulses are removed from the brain using the Keller Machine to enact the Keller Process, of course it turns out to be a nefarious plot by The Master to disrupt the first World Peace Conference, seemingly just to annoy The Doctor. The story features great work from “The UNIT family”, Jo at her resourceful and compassionate best, some brilliant Third Doctor zingers (“do you think for once you could arrive before the nick of time?!) and most intriguingly of all some real insight into The Master as portrayed by Roger Delgado, a performance never bettered in my opinion.

3) The Pyramids of Mars

If you want a Doctor Who story to show someone who wants to get into Classic Who, you can’t go far wrong with this absolute gem of a story, the TARDIS materialises inside a Victorian gothic mansion which formerly stood on the site where U.N.I.T.’s headquarters exists during the time of the Fourth Doctor. The Doctor and Sarah become aware that something is very wrong: the owner is missing and the estate has come under the control of a mysterious Egyptian. A dangerous alien power is at work, and the Doctor recognizes the mastermind of all this as Sutekh the Destroyer, the last of the Osirians. Mixing everything you’d come to expect from Doctor Who at its best, one of the best villans of all time, alternative histories, many horrifying deaths, genuine chills and an irresistible companion and Doctor combo. Its also one of the most quotable stories of all time; “I’m a Time Lord! I walk in eternity!”, “Kneel before the might of Sutekh!”, “Evil? Your evil is my good!” and “I am the servant of Sutekh, he needs no other!” to name but a few. Its this Doctor Who fans equivalent of comfort food and lovely cup of tea.

2) Genesis of the Daleks

Let me take you back to the heady days of 1994, when I was 11, I’d been brought up in a ‘Star Trek house’ and all I knew of Doctor Who was the kind of British pop culture stuff like, he has a TARDIS, he travels around with a load of screaming girls and there are these things called Daleks. I just so happened to catch a repeat of Genesis… on UK Gold, when they used to show Blakes 7 before it and you had to get up at about 5.30 am to watch it all. I did just that and lo, an fan was born. Its just an incredible achievement from beginning to end , that shocking beginning, the cliffhangers to episodes 2 and 5, the torture af Harry and Sarah Jane, Davros’ ‘tiny pressure of my thumb’ speech and most of all, the moment in episode 6 where the Doctor holds the future of the Daleks in his hands. Granted the serial is by no means perfect, there are plot holes you can drive a ford fiesta through, that never ending scene in episode 1 with the landmine and most of all, that god forsaken giant clam but it does contain all the elements of truly classic Who. It has all everything that you most associate with the classic series,Tom Baker’s portrayal of the Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith as resourceful girl adventurer and the dashing, wise cracking Harry Sullivan.The rest of the supporting cast are superb, especially Michael Wisher’s Davros, who dominates almost every scene he is in.

1) The Brain of Morbius

So here we are, my favourite Classic serial of all time, years ago, the Time Lord known as Morbius tried to lead a revolution but was executed for his ambition on the planet Karn. When the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane arrive on the planet, they discover that, thanks to Dr Solon, the dead may rise. This short synopsis hardly does justice to the most demented, wonderful, funny and down right amazing story. Incredible performances, amazing creature design and more quotable dialogue gems than you can shake a stick at (“you chicken-brained biological disaster!”) this story is for me the full package. Sure its cheesy, the Morbius creature visibly bumps into the camera at one point, The Sisterhood of Karn all seem to be auditioning for a Kate Bush video, Phillip Madoc appears to trying to eat the scenery and the set is audibly and visually made of plywood and cardboard but that doesn’t matter in the slightest, everything comes together to make “The Brain of Morbius” far more than the sum of its parts and for me, you cant get much more “Doctor Who” than that.

So there you have it, there are so many stories I wish I could included, it was so hard to narrow it down to just 10! I’d love to hear what your top classic stories are, leave your run down in the comments!

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Continuity? Schmon-tanuity!

Posted by emmahyam on October 21, 2010

The thorny issue of continuity has always been a plague upon long running Science Fiction programmes, Doctor Who especially so, after all, in a production thats lasted nearly 50 years, been written by hundreds of different people with different visions for the future of the show and has (thus far) spanned 759 episodes and two spin-off shows is going to have the occasional problem keeping its ducks in a row.

Continuity has always been a special interest of mine, and in the wake of the latest episode of the Sarah Jane Adventures where Sarah Jane casually stops the peoples of Earth seeing a pyramid on Mars (see  the Tom Baker story “The Pyramids of Mars” non classic Who fans) reconciling the new with the old with the spin-off has created its own cottage industry of books and websites.

So heres a run down of my top ten pub argument causing Doctor Who continuity issues:

10 – What DID The meta-crisis Tenth Doctor say to Rose on Bad Wolf Bay?

Well this seems fairly obvious to me judging by Rose’s reaction to whatever it was he said (!) but with some of old Doctor Who fans violently opposed to The Doctor showing any hint of sexuality or indeed sexual attraction to his various hot companions a dispute ignited. This has run to the extent that people absolutely refuse to believe that he probably said “I love you” and will argue that he said ANYTHING else until they are blue in the face.

9 – Just how advanced is human science?

As I mentioned earlier, in the most recent episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures Sarah Jane and chums are watching a Mars probe sending footage to Earth, suddenly Sarah Jane has Mr Smith cut the transmission just before the probe sees the stonking great pyramid. Heres the rub friends, in the UNIT/Earthbound era of Doctor Who, humanity (specifically the UK) are sending men to Mars! So how have we taken the retrograde step of walking on Mars to just sending probes there for a glance? The issue is further muddied by the episode The Waters of Mars where we have a well established base on Mars by 2059, apparently now totally safe from the Pyramid next door. This also throws up the issue of who are Mars’ residents? The Osirans? Ice Warriors? The Flood? Search me squire….

8 – Where on Earth was Torchwood?

Torchwood was set up by Queen Victoria in the episode “Tooth and Claw with a remit to investigate paranormal events such as the werewolf in this episode, and (ironically) to guard against the Doctor should he return. A fine idea with one major problem, where the hell were they when The Doctor was working with UNIT on Earth FOR YEARS? Part of Torchwood’s whole mission is to capture The Doctor at almost any cost, they seem to know everything UNIT is up to at any given time so there is no way they had no idea he was there. The easy way to do it is to do some nifty ret-conning and say that >insert minor character from the UNIT era< was a double agent working for Torchwood and was under orders to observe The Doctor. But unfortunately this is an issue that is near impossible to reconcile.

7 – How old is The Doctor exactly?

One of the main problems that has been thrown up by having many different writers on the series is that The Doctor  has quoted his age as many different things, the main split has come up between the classic series and the new series, in “Time and The Rani” the seventh doctor gives his age as 953, come “Voyage of the Damned” hes back to being 903. A nice easy explanation is that The Doctor doesn’t really know himself, and since the Time War has screwed everything up everything is up in the air.

6 – Time may change me, but can I change time…?

In “The Aztecs” Barbara  desperately tries to change history and save the Aztec people from destruction by Europeans by trying to persuade the people to stop human sacrifices. However she fails and The Doctor famously tells her  “You can’t rewrite history! Not one line!”. The Doctor Who Wiki explains the dilemma best:

Although the nature of Time and its laws has never been fully explained, numerous later episodes would further explore them, showing that some fixed points of time are absolute, and others are indeed changeable. The Time Lords (including the Doctor) give clear indication of their position that they and they alone understand how to properly “rewrite history”.

But does The Doctor? See his colossal cock-up dethroning Harriet Jones in “The Christmas Invasion” which allowed The Master in the guise of Harold Saxon to become Prime Minister and conquer the Earth! The Doctor had previously told us that Harriet Jones was destined to be PM for three terms and usher in a ‘golden age’ for the UK, in a fit of anger The Doctor changes everything. And creates a massive headache for us continuity hounds.

5 – The Daleks…?

The timeline of The Daleks rise, fall, rise, fall and god-knows-what is a very tricky subject, and the Time War has only muddied the waters further, when The Daleks develop time-travel is a sticky issue so we never know when exactly The Daleks are from, The Doctors setting back of The Daleks development “1000 years” in “Genesis of the Daleks” creates yet more confusion. Just about the only thing anyone can agree on is that “The Evil of the Daleks” is The Daleks last canonical appearance…. probably.

4 – What even counts as “canon” anyway?

Most fans agree that what is on TV is “what really happened” in The Doctor Who Universe, most would accept K-9 and Company, Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures, The Infinite Quest and Dreamland as occurring in the same universe. There was quite some consternation amongst fans as to if the new series was part of the same canon as the classic series until episodes like “School Reunion” placed the new firmly in with the old. When it comes to things like the novels and audio adventures, the line is much more sketchy, for example Gallifrey has been destroyed in the novels and in the TV series, but for two entirely different reasons! There is also the phenomenon of “Fanon” a combination of the words “fan” and “canon”, these are facts that have been made up by fans over the years to fill gaps in existing continuity/canon, and which become accepted as canon by the fanbase, despite not being supported in on-screen continuity. See the entry below…

3 – Season 6B

This is a concept invented by fandom to explain continuity discrepancies in the Second Doctor’s life it expands televised Doctor Who canon and places new adventures for the Second Doctor between The War Games and the first appearance of the Third Doctor at the start of Spearhead from Space. Such as why the second Doctor and Jamie look visibly older in episodes like “The Two Doctors”. As with all neat fan theories, its accepted by some, rejected by others, and also creates continuity problems of it own, sigh….

2 – Wait… The Doctor is half human??!!

Oh that bloody TV Movie, in it the recently regenerated eighth Doctor claims to be half human on his mothers side to howls of derision from fans everywhere. Until “Human Nature” showed the eighth Doctor as a previous face of The Doctor, most fans rather hoped to discount him entirely in the manner of the Peter Cushing movies just to remove this stupid line. Most fans now try to disregard it as a sarcastic quip. The BBC official website answers the question thusly in its FAQ’s

“Yes, on his mum’s side. It was established in the Doctor Who TV Movie; however purists tend to disregard this.”

To bloody right we do!

1 – The UNIT dating controversy..

When are the earth bound Pertwee era stories set, the 60’s? The 70’s? The 80’s? This issue has hundreds of websites, books and fanzines devoted to it, I’ve seen this debate descend into full blown arguments and flame wars, argument and counter-argument presented then disregarded. Even The Doctor isn’t sure when asked in “The Sontaran Stratagem” so I’m not touching this with a barge pole… now when I say run, run…

…..I think they’re set in the late 70’s…


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