Saturday, 31 December 2011

Great Doctor Who Quotes #16

"It told me to find you, it wants to be held.
Because it was waiting, then because I was so scared. Of the Doctor.
Because.. I've seen him. He's like fire. And ice. And rage. He's like the night and the storm and the heart of the sun.
He's ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of time, and he can see the turn of the universe.
And he's wonderful."

- Tim Latimer, The Family of Blood (June 2nd 2007)
Written by Paul Cornell

Friday, 30 December 2011

Great Doctor Who Quotes #15

"Dickens? Charles Dickens? You're completely, 100% brilliant! I've read 'em all! Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and what's the one with the ghost.. the one with the trains? The Signalman - terrifying! The best short story ever written. You're a genius. Honestly, Charles.. er, can I call you Charles? I'm such a big fan.. Number one fan, that's me.. it means fanatic. Mind you, that American bit in Martin Chuzzlewit, what's that about? Was that padding or what? It's rubbish! Oh well, if you can't take criticism.. Do the death of Little Nell, it cracks me up. No.. Forget about that. Come on! Faster!
My friend. She's only 19 and it's my fault. She's in my care, now she's in danger."

- The Doctor, The Unquiet Dead (April 9th 2005)
Written by Mark Gatiss

The Best (and Worst) Doctor Who of 2011

The io9 science blog published it's TV review of the year yesterday. Meredith Woerner's article, The Best and Worst Television Moments of 2011, features three Doctor Who stories. 
The season finale, The Wedding of River Song is actually named as one of the 'Worst' shows, and is described as the "most melodramatic Who moments we've seen since Russell T Davies, but with way less real emotion behind it. So much cheese, and not in the fun tiney wimey way."
Thankfully, the list of 'Best' sci-fi and fantasy programmes includes The Impossible Astronaut ("a classic example of the many wonderful Matt Smith Doctor-isms we were treated to this year"), and A Good Man Goes to War - "We'd thought our days of swooning over Rory Williams had come to an end after the heroic Pandorica epic (after all, he is the boy who waited). But then someone kidnaps his wife, and Rory gets pissed! What a glorious moment for all "The Nose" fans everywhere. 

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Great Doctor Who Quotes #14


"Do you wanna come with me? 'Cause if you do then I should warn you, you're gonna see all sorts of things. Ghosts from the past. Aliens from the future. The day the Earth died in a ball of flame. It won't be quiet. It won't be safe, and it won't be calm. But I'll tell you what it will be: the trip of a lifetime!"

- The Doctor, Series 1, Trailer 5 (2005)

Great Doctor Who Quotes #13


"I'm the Doctor. I'm a Time Lord. I'm from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I'm 903 years old and I'm the man who is gonna save your lives and all six billion people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?"

- The Doctor, Voyage of the Damned (Christmas Day 2007)
Written by Russell T Davies

Friday, 23 December 2011

Doctor Who in the Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph website yesterday published a trio of Doctor Who articles. Firstly, actress Arabella Weir was asked to write about her new role [of Bilis] in "the biggest, coolest show on television." Working with Bill Bailey on The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe was the highlight of her career. And Weir's co-star, Alexander Armstrong, has revealed his favourite Doctor today - the present incumbent, Matt Smith.

Writer Gavin Fuller then lists his "top ten female assistants" from the programme:
  • Zoe Heriot "was played with great charm by Wendy Padbury, who had to don some interesting costumes"
  • Nyssa "was the perfect foil for the Fifth Doctor"
  • Jo Grant was "the clumsy UNIT operative" and part of "one of the "warmest Doctor-companion pairings"
  • Ace was "the streetwise tomboy" and the first, pre-RTD era companion "given an emotional journey"
  • Barbara Wright played "an integral part of establishing the series"
  • Donna Noble "was a mature woman.. able to.. keep the Tenth Doctor in much-needed check"
  • Peri Brown was "the most physically attractive of all" TARDIS travellers
  • Leela was "an Eliza Doolittle figure" who's "success was due to Louise Jameson's fine performance"
  • Rose Tyler was given "a very fine, naturalistic performance" from Billie Piper
  • and unsurprisingly, Sarah Jane Smith is revealed as "the best of companions"
Finally, readers are offered Fuller's "top ten best Doctors":
    • Paul McGann is described as "the George Lazenby" of Doctors, who "instantly nailed how to play" him
    • Christopher Eccleston - here given the usual "serious" tag again - played "a different kind of Doctor"
    • Sylvester McCoy "brought a Troughton-esqe eccentricity to the role with this most Scottish of Doctors, and.. tried to bring back an element to the part"
    • Matt Smith "has charisma to burn in the role, looks suitably alien, and has brought a subtlety.. not seen since Troughton" but, like McCoy, seems "too light-hearted at times" and currently lacks gravitas
    • William Hartnell "was a Doctor who mellowed from crotchety anti-hero to benevolent old sage"
    • Peter Davison had the "most difficult task in taking on the role" and seemed "to be more of a big brother to his companions"
    • "For many the definitive Doctor" Tom Baker only polls here at #4! Baker's "natural eccentricity" was "helped by a memorable hat and scarf costume" and his "first three years.. were possibly the strongest consistent run of serials in the programme's history"
    • Patrick Troughton "brought a huge degree of subtlety to the role, which makes it a terrible shame that so many of his episodes were lost"
    • David Tennant was able "to show us just what a good actor he is" and is "easily one of the great Doctors"
    • and the best Doctor here (thereby pushing Colin Baker out of the rundown) is Jon Pertwee - "an action hero.. with a strong moral slant" and "a panache that has never been bettered"

    Tuesday, 20 December 2011

    Pet Shop Boys: Format


    The Pet Shop Boys announced their new compilation album last month, and the CD artwork was unveiled today. Format is the long-awaited, second B-sides release, akin to the unofficial Beside, and follows Alternative (1995). 

    Format

    Pet Shop Boys will release a brand new b-sides compilation on February 6th, 2012, on Parlophone. "Format" celebrates the duo's prolific song-writing and recording by collecting 38 b-sides and bonus tracks originally released on singles from 1996 to 2009. The album will be available digitally and on double-CD. All tracks have been remastered and the CD booklet features an interview with Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe by Jon Savage (author of "England's Dreaming" and "Teenage"). Design is by Farrow.
    Pet Shop Boys are currently working on their 11th studio album which is due for release in early autumn next year.
    The full "Format" track-listing is as follows:

    CD1
    1. The truck driver and his mate
    2. Hit and miss
    3. In the night (1995)
    4. Betrayed
    5. How I learned to hate rock 'n' roll
    6. Discoteca (New Version)
    7. The calm before the storm
    8. Confidential (Demo for Tina)
    9. The boy who couldn't keep his clothes on
    10. Delusions of grandeur
    11. The view from your balcony
    12. Disco potential
    13. Silver age
    14. Screaming
    15. The ghost of myself
    16. Casting a shadow
    17. Lies
    18. Sexy Northerner

    CD2
    1. Always
    2. Nightlife
    3. Searching for the face of Jesus
    4. Between two islands
    5. Friendly fire
    6. We're the Pet Shop Boys
    7. Transparent
    8. I didn't get where I am today
    9. The Resurrectionist
    10. Girls don't cry
    11. In private (7-inch mix): Pet Shop Boys with Elton John
    12. Blue on blue
    13. No time for tears (7-inch mix)
    14. Bright young things
    15. Party song
    16. We're all criminals now
    17. Gin and Jag
    18. After the event
    19. The former enfant terrible
    20. Up and down

    Fifty Years of a Time Lord



    Doctor Who websites and forums are rife with speculation about the programme's forthcoming Fiftieth Anniversary, still almost two years away. The Radio Times website today published an interview (from The Scotsman) with Steven Moffat. The showrunner discusses the rumoured Hollywood reboot of Doctor Who, his eventual departure, and naturally, the anniversary special - read his comments here.

    The latest edition of the SFX Collection, The Fanzine, asks writers and fans how the BBC should celebrate the show's half-century, whilst the current issue of DWM debates the pros-and-cons of re-casting past Doctors. The majority of Whovians seem to favour a traditional, multi-Doctor story, but personally, I thinks that Paul McGann deserves another television outing. Obviously, all other ten incarnations would feature in my adventure, but purely in flashback sequences. The story would open like this:

    "An older and weary Eighth Doctor flees the ruined Capitol - the sound of death fills the air.
     The Doctor has fought the last battle. The Time War is finally at an end. The Daleks have been wiped from existence, but at the ultimate cost - the Doctor has sacrificed his own race. There are no victors, only one survivor. Gallifrey and Skaro, and countless other worlds and civilisations are dead.
    As the Doctor lies dying in the last TARDIS in the universe, he reflects on all his past lives. We see snatches of his memories.."

    Radio Times TV Review of 2011


    That venerable publishing colossus, Christmas perennial, and loyal Doctor Who advocate - the Radio Times - has revealed the results of another survey. Their website's "top 40 shows of" the year has placed the programme at a respectable number 8 - see the complete list here. Critic Jack Seale writes:

    8. Doctor Who BBC1
    A sometimes frustrating, often majestic second series for showrunner Steven Moffat. He trusted his audience to deal with a torrent of ideas, particularly in the series’ bewildering major story arc about the apparent death of the Doctor and his inside-out relationship with River Song (Alex Kingston). But the real highlights were the one-offs: among the strongest were The Doctor’s Wife, an ingenious story of the Tardis made flesh that encapsulated the Doctor’s fundamental Flying Dutchman predicament; the simple retro spooks of Night Terrors; and The Girl Who Waited, a stripped-down story that asked for and got a best-ever performance from Karen Gillan. More often than not, Moffat and his muse, Matt Smith, gave kids (big and small) sci-fi thrills of extraordinary quality and ambition.

    Sunday, 11 December 2011

    Missing Doctor Who Episodes Recovered!

    The Doctor and Vicki in a scene from Airlock

    The official Doctor Who website has revealed that two lost episodes have been recovered, restored, and unveiled in London today. The BFI's annual Missing Believed Wiped event at the National Film Theatre has shown Airlock, the third part of Galaxy 4 (originally broadcast September 25th 1965), and part two of The Underwater Menace (January 21st 1967).
    The complete, black and white episodes were bought by film collector Terry Burnett at a village fete near Southampton in the early 1980's, but he was unaware that the canisters contained missing BBC material, and the classic footage was loaned to the BBC archives earlier this year. Screen shots are available to view here, and you can read a BBC News report here.

    There are currently 106 episodes from 27 serials, still missing from the archives. Three stories have no surviving footage at all - Marco Polo, Mission to the Unknown, and The Massacre. This new find comes seven years after episode two of The Daleks' Master Plan was recovered, and the last, whole story to be unearthed was The Tomb of the Cybermen almost 20 years ago.

    Monday, 5 December 2011

    New Matt Smith Interview

    Photo by Murdo Macleod for the Observer Magazine 

    Euan Ferguson's interview with Matt Smith appeared in The Guardian last Saturday. Introduced as the "lord of misrule" the writer remarks that the actor "spends all his time in Wales, has no social life, and he's just broken up with Daisy Lowe. But as Doctor Who returns, Smith [reveals] why he's the luckiest man on TV."
    The pair discuss the Higgs boson (aka. the "God particle"), Harris Tweed (steeped in a "piss bucket"), and Smith's Best Sci-Fi Actor award, before getting round to this year's Christmas special, described as Tim Burton-esque!

    Now two years into the role of the Time Lord, does the actor "feel he's changed him at all?" Having achieved the near-impossible feat of successfully following David Tennant into the TARDIS, this Doctor is "still evolving" and Smith lovingly sums up his portrayal:
     "As the doctor ages he gets younger and sillier. He's over 1,000 now, I think. And – oh, I just like him. His lack of cynicism. He's like a baby. He wants to sniff, to taste, everything; he'll never dismiss anything. As we get older – perhaps I'm just speaking for myself – we can get too cynical. If he had a… bath, it would be filled with rubber ducks which could talk or something; he'd find a way to reinvent the common bath. And I admire that."

    And asking the inevitable question, does this eleventh incarnation now have a finite lifespan? Again, Smith answers with typical enthusiasm and honesty: 
    "It depends on your physical and mental state at the end of every shoot. I just take it year by year, but I'm quite excited by the coming year – it's the 50th anniversary, which'll let us be even bigger and bolder than ever." It's harder to think how much bigger, bolder, stranger. Don't there come limits? "Never. Not in Doctor Who. That's the beauty of it. You're never bound by logic, or time, or genre, or space, or location, which is what makes it such an ingenious televisual conceit."

    Ferguson also discovers how Smith's sporting injury resulted in an accidental acting career:
    "I'd been playing football my whole life, really. Loved it – still do. I was at Leicester City at the time, and it wasn't any one incident, just a succession, and it was L5, my lumbar 5, there was a problem with that. I'll never forget it, the day before my history GCSE, and Leicester said they wouldn't be extending my contract because of it – it was a nasty time, bleak, but at least I was just 16."

    The rest of the interview covers many other topics, such as the programme's ratings, Smith's drama teacher, past projects, fame, Richard Dawkins, filming new Who, and bow ties! Read the full conversation here.

    Saturday, 3 December 2011

    Doctor Who Vs. Marple: Murder Is Easy

    This ITV1 drama was shown in September 2009, and was directed by Hettie Macdonald, who helmed Blink. The original novel, published in 1939, was adapted by Stephen Churchett (who again starred here as the Coroner), and now featured Miss Marple (again portrayed by Julia McKenzie). Other Doctor Who guest stars featured in Murder Is Easy are:
    • For Steve Pemberton (Wake) see my first Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) blog
    • Shirley Henderson (Henoria, pictured top right) played Ursula Blake in Love & Monsters 
    • for Benedict Cumberbatch (Fitzwilliam, right) see my Vs. Sherlock blog
    • Russell Tovey (PC Reed, left) was Midshipman Alonso Frame in Voyage of the Damned, and briefly in The End of Time with John Barrowman
    • Tim Brooke-Taylor (Dr Humbleby) voiced Mims for The Zygon Who Fell to Earth (Big Finish, 2008)
    • David Haig (Horton) was Pangol in The Leisure Hive
    • and for Sylvia Sims (Lavinia) see her role in the BBC's Miss Marple series