I've blogged an article originally published in The Tides of Time on that publication's website. Empty Pockets, Empty Shelves is a short look at how the character of the Twelfth Doctor was represented in motifs destroyed or dispersed at the arrival of the Thirteenth Doctor and how these absences help define the Doctor as now portrayed by Jodie Whittaker.
My review, this week at the Doctor Who News Page's reviews section.

Afterword on my review, at The Event Library

Also, news on the publication of issue 42 of the Oxford-based Doctor Who fanzine, The Tides of Time.
I mentioned issue 40 of Tides of Time, the Oxford University Doctor Who fanzine, in an earlier post. It's now free to download from http://tidesoftime.wordpress.com .
There is a new issue of The Tides of Time, magazine of the Oxford University Doctor Who Society, now published, and there are a limited number of print copies available. For more details see the magazine's website.
Thoughts from the Oxford Doctor Who Society on the most recent series, condensed from several weeks of discussion on Facebook Messenger, are now available in one document downloadable from The Tides of Time blog.
No essay from me this week, but negatives first. There aren't many of them, and are largely personal in that there's always an awkwardness to me in the Doctor revelling in pop culture or being a rock musician, and yet here I can see it was the right choice. I'm not sure where the Doctor's audience in 1138 went either...

Otherwise, superlatives. Steven Moffat and company projected their most coherent vision of the Doctor Who universe so far; though I did find myself wondering if the Shadow Architect's hairdresser (probably a Judoon, come to think of it) had been killed in action since The Stolen Earth. The Maldovarium is a sorrier place for the loss of Dorium. Clara's confidence as schoolteacher and UNIT's contact radiated and Jenna Coleman's authority in the part was more than a match for Michelle Gomez's calculating tricksiness. The traps within traps were sprung and the Daleks depicted as more detached from human or Gallifreyan values while justifying their fond parent's description of them as children. Barry Norman's comparison of fifty years ago, that they are devices through which children imagine killing grown-ups, was made plain here; as was the realisation most fans have had at some time, that the Daleks are tanks (and I'll link to John Wilson's article on the subject as soon as I've identified the relevant issue of Tides of Time - [ETA it's issue 23, but I can't manage the link at present - search for "Tides 23" at tidesoftime.wordpress.com for the pdf]). Taking up the convincingly-performed but sidestepped 'Do I have the right?' speech from Genesis of the Daleks is a dangerous exercise and we'll only find how well it works next week. Otherwise, a sense of the programme trying something new and Peter Capaldi's most moving and enthralling performance in the role.

Also posted at The Event Library
sir_guinglain: (Zen)
( Jun. 6th, 2014 09:33 am)
I watched Weapon last night for the first time in years, and in company dominated by a generation who had little familiarity with Blake's 7. The question kept being asked: Why spend so long on set-up before reaching the action? I could only answer flippantly that people talking in rooms was something that BBC multicamera studio drama did well. June Hudson's costumes were as ever pleasingly literal in the way they solidify character traits: John Bennett's Coser looks absurdly pompous in his high collar, but in profile on a two-dimensional screen the collar becomes a shark's fin. The medieval accent is present too, with Servalan and Blake presiding over competing courts with their long-cloaked knights in their armour, black for Servalan, green, brown or red for the outlaws of the greenwood vacuum.
The Oxford Doctor Who Society fanzine The Tides of Time's summer 2012 edition is now online. More details here.
I can't keep away from the archive, and have scanned and uploaded issue 27 of Tides of Time, published by the Oxford University Doctor Who Society in October 2001. This is another good one from the years after the McGann TV Movie and demonstrates the society's wide focus at the time, with reflections on the similarities between Robin of Sherwood and Blake's 7, a study of Blake's 7's Travis, a look at the obsession with the rural in British telefantasy, ponderings on possible interpretations of The Daemons, The Professionals fiction, an exchange of views on why Doctor Who was taken off air in 1989, and the usual much more.

The PDF is over here - it's just under 27Mb so right-clicking is recommended.

ETA: A fuller listing of the contents is available here, with another link to the PDF.
sir_guinglain: (MattKarenArthur)
( Dec. 4th, 2011 06:00 pm)
Tides of Time 35 - lots of Doctor Who from the usual (Oxford-based or connected) suspects, now uploaded as a PDF. More details here.
I've not much to add to what I wrote about this story back in 2008 when a smaller number of people marathoned the season compared with those who did so today. I came in during part eight, in time to see the breathtaking erasure of Peri and her replacement with a humanised and feminised Kiv. Nicola Bryant's performances in these scenes are among her best, though Peri's apparent fate is too bleak for that of a Doctor Who companion. Not even Russell T Davies went as far as to erase an entire personality, and John Nathan-Turner was probably right to reverse Peri's death in dialogue, though the electronic pink heart in which she and Yrcanos are enveloped in part fourteen is far, far too much. The Vervoid story won much more attention this time, though as the almost-banned cover of DWM 323 had been mentioned (by me in one of my more ribald moments) the humour assumed a bluer hue than I previously remembered.

The case remains, for me, that the most interesting character in (Terror of) The Vervoids/The Ultimate Foe/parts nine to twelve is Ruth Baxter, and she remains in her coffin and is used for shock value only. There is a glimmer of how the sixth Doctor might have developed, liberated from Eric Saward's script-editing as he now was, but Pip and Jane Baker largely deliver a Doctor reacting to public criticism - "More a sort of clown, actually." Mel asks the Doctor whether all Time Lords speak in such an antediluvian manner, which either exposes Pip and Jane's failure to recognise how cumbersome and antiquated their own writing style was, or admits their inability or unwillingness to do anything about it.
To show signs of being likeable in Attack of the Cybermen is to risk being turned into a Cyberman. The affable sewer workers encountered in the first scene take their places quickly in conversion cabinets. The Doctor is distant and abrasive and Peri complaining and stupid by turns. I'm not sure whether the fact the only character I warmed to in part one of the story was the Cyberleader proves or undermines my first sentence.

Part two is potentially more interesting: there is a clash in design between a mid-1980s Top of the Pops style and a fragile gothic from which could have driven the episode had it been more carefully expressed. As it is one is left with a sense of futility - Bates and Stratton and Griffiths, weighed down by heavy dialogue, fail to take the Cybermen time vessel; the Doctor fails to do very much except get stuck in a room, be slow on the uptake and fail to understand Lytton's plan; the Halley's Comet subplot is sidelined; the Cryons talk slowly and flatly; every piece of exposition seems to be repeated at least twice.

Perhaps these reactions are too obviously shaped by over a quarter-century of recriminations concerning falling ratings, disputed authorship, the alleged unrealistic and outdated aspirations of the producer. For a generation, the merit of the 1985 season of Doctor Who is entangled with the cancellation crisis which emerged in the last week of February, attended by a sense of relentless inevitability.
I've put together a release of articles and stories from old issues of Tides of Time (and one from Skaro) relating to the adventures of the eighth Doctor. The introduction and links can be found over here at the Tides archive blog.
I've again been distracting myself by uploading some old Tides of Time articles to my Tides blog. The latest crop all relate to the first Doctor. There are three stories, including one relating to the Doctor's meeting with the Venerable Bede (as referred to on-screen in The Talons of Weng-Chiang); three reviews (on The Aztecs, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, and The Tenth Planet) and a look back at Sydney Newman's contribution to Doctor Who.

For more details read my Citizen of the Universe post at the Tides site.
As I've announced it in other corners of the internet, I might as well proclaim here, too, that issue 34 of The Tides of Time, the Oxford (University) Doctor Who Society's fanzine, has now been uploaded to the online archive, a little late.

Articles include:
  • a look at the so-called 'gay agenda' and how it's fared since Steven Moffat took over, The Closet Behind the Couch
  • an argument that Arc of Infinity is both very thought-provoking and unsuccessful television at the same time
  • the top seven non-recurring villains of Doctor Who ("Lord Niiiimon...! It is I...")
  • The Trial of a Time Lord as a sonnet!
  • Three imaginative predictions about recent stories which didn't come to pass
  • A review of last May's Utopia convention in Oxfordshire
- and the proverbial much more.

Details and a link to the download can be found over on the Tides of Time Wordpress site.
sir_guinglain: (ArgueMainly)
( Nov. 7th, 2010 06:20 pm)
My project to upload content from the archives of the Oxford University Doctor Who Society magazine continues. Here's an article from 1990 reviewing Colin Baker's time as the Doctor, 'Sixth of One'.
Signs and signifiers across nearly twenty-nine years:

A cry of "old skool!" as the new Cybermen appear, from one who was not born when Earthshock was first broadcast (I am a relatively senior citizen at these gatherings), is a remarkable indicator of how much time (chronological and cultural) has passed since Earthshock was broadcast. The look of the 1982 Cybermen was widely hailed at the time as modern, cutting-edge, restoring Doctor Who to the forefront of respectable SF design. The next year, Philip Purser (reviewing The Five Doctors in The Daily Telegraph) thought that the 1980s Cybermen looked as though they were wearing tinfoil. Purser's view has probably prevailed. The fighter-pilot Cybersuits, however baggy and plainly vulnerable they might seem, were not only an influence on the look of Star Trek's Borg, but given that Earthshock was broadcast on the eve of the Falklands War serendipitously anticipated the militarily triumphalist mood that gripped the Conservative sectors of the British media later in 1982. The depiction of 'Britain 2010' by The Lenny Henry Show (1985) as the domain of the blonde-wigged Cyberman Thatchos was perhaps sharper than the makers knew.
I spent this evening (with some usual suspects) seeing Colin Baker essay Detective Chief Inspector Morse in Alma Cullen's Colin Dexter-authorised play The House of Ghosts at the New Theatre (which some of those on my flist will remember as the Apollo) in Oxford. Alma Cullen is an experienced television Morse hand and delivers a play (it's not an adaptation of a Dexter story) with beats familiar to television viewers: the Oxford setting, connections with university academics, former students returning to the university, all of whom are Morse's college contemporaries, and who are connected to the murder. As for Morse's latest romantic interest...

The staging was straightforward but effectively suggested theatre, chapel, college room and office. Be careful where you look, if you go, if you don't like torches being shone in your eyes, effective though it was.

Colin Baker's Morse (the term 'Inspector Morse' was absent from the programme and publicity, presumably it's a trademark of the ITV series) was at first less of a presence than one imagines John Thaw's would have been. One is not comparing like with like, of course. Colin Baker brings in some Thawesque mannerisms but as the play unfolds proves very good at depicting a Morse unhappily triangulated between competing loyalties, his devotion to solving puzzles, and his own tenuous sense of self-worth. Deliberately and curiously nostalgic - set in 1987, most of the actors playing fortysomethings seemed to be much older, reminiscent of the 1970 version of The Railway Children - I think most of the audience agreed that it was worthy of the Barrington Pheloung theme music at the end.


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