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The Random Thoughts of The Mind Robber - 2003 - Sorted by Oldest First

Tue 23rd September 03 - Viewers miss Doctor Who the most

I cant think of any TV-related news that could have made me happier today...!

"Doctor Who has been voted the show people would most like to see back on TV in a Radio Times poll. The survey of 12,000 viewers found that 31% of them wanted to see the cult sci-fi BBC series revived."


n a future Second Doctor DVD release."

Thu 25th September 03 - A Moment of Fury Rises from the Deep

You may or may not have heard -

"Checking through some reels of old waste film at the BBC Archives at Windmill Road recently, Andrew Martin discovered 3 mins 32 secs of 16mm negative from the weed creature attack scenes in episode six of Fury from the Deep, shot at Ealing Studios. The film consists of several near-complete scenes, although according to the Restoration Team's Steve Roberts, these are trims - unused takes of the shots that were finally used in the programme. Please note that the clip is silent, although the Restoration Team hope to add appropriate audio for its inclusion on a future Second Doctor DVD release."

Fri 26th September 03 - BBC E-mail: Doctor Who returns to TV

I've been buzzing from it all day!

It surely had to be a direct response to that poll a couple of days ago!

Not mentioned on BBC online but apparently said on TV today, it might well feature Paul McGann or Richard E Grand and be 6 episodes. I don't know how true that is because it directly contradicts the press-release that said no such decisions had been made.

I love the headline on the top of the Doctor Who homepage -

"Doctor Who - it's coming back. Oh my! Goodness me. What lovely news. Oooh. Well. Simply marvellous. Wheeee"

Says it all!

Mon 28th September 03 - This rocked my (tiny geek) world.

About two weeks ago, I was talking to someone about a TV show from when I was young.

This children's series I remembered appealed to me greatly because it echoed Doctor Who in so many ways. There were many throwaway references to the series which I appreciated. ("A ventillation shaft?! Oh marvellous Im a cliche!"). All I remembered was that the "Doctor" was a school girl called Marcy and her companions were a skateboarding boy chum and another girl chum. Marcy I recall was generally quirky and always carried a some kind of stick or bat. It might have been a hockey stick.

I remembered there had been two sections, the first involved some bloke in shades wanting to take over the school or the world or both. Not quite sure how. The second part I remembered involved some kind of digging going on at the school and some reference to a Behemoth being uncovered. The only other thing I remembered was something rising up out of the school stage at the end in lots of smoke and the baddie in shades from the first series came back as a surprise twist. It was absolutely brilliant.

Then the fist of two amazing coincidences happened. The first was that while randomly flicking through a Cult TV book I chanced up the title of this series. It was called Dark Season. A name I would never, ever had dredged up from the depths of my brain. I ran a quick search in Google for some pictures from the series. I found pictures. I found credits. I found out the name of the writer.

The writer of Dark Season was one Russel T Davies.

I am in awe of this discovery.

So, since hearing the glorious news that Doctor Who is returning, my one burning question has been answered:

Can Russel T Davies write science fiction?

Answer: Yes, and it happened to be one of the best pieces of science fiction I remember from my childhood.

It also turns out he has already written Doctor Who. A New Adventure Novel called "Damaged Goods", now out of print.

But for now, my new ambition is to locate a copy of Dark Season on video.

Revel in the two-year anticipation for the new Doctor Who!

Mon 6th October 2003 - Reaction to Full Fathom Five

I had my first taste of Doctor Who Unbound in the story "Full Fathom Five." I certainly wont be listening to or buying any more Unbound stories for fear of the state of mind they will leave me in.

What exactly were they thinking with the creation of this story? I had heard that the Unbound stories may not be to everyone's taste but I would love to have a conversation with someone whose taste this met. I felt it was a cruel, mean-spirited and downright unpleasant story. It felt as if this story had been written by someone who secretly hated Doctor Who and was working from within to destroy the fond memory and wholesome entertainment of the character.

I appreciate that this story and this new 'Doctor' was probably designed to shock and intrigue, however the basic premise of the Doctor murdering in cold blood was not possible to get past. Considering the Doctor couldnt bring himself to kill the amorphous blobs in Genesis of the Daleks, even knowing they would become the Daleks, one can then never believe that he could shoot a human.

If the murder had been the sole questionmark over this story, it might have been a superb plot device. To leave the listener wondering what could possibly have happened to the Doctor to make the character we know and love capable of cold-blooded murder - twice - would be something indeed to ponder! And the idea that he'd been stuck on Earth, not for a couple of years as Jon Pertwee, but for decades, leaves one wondering what he got up to. Raising such questions was clearly the intention and I appreciate that pushing the envelope is part of what could make this series interesting.

However I must take issue with the ending. To have the Doctor murdered so bleakly, unpleasantly and pointlessly achieved what? What was this trying to prove? What exactly is the vendetta of this story and, indeed, this series of Unbound adventures? What is this ending trying to tell us? That even heroes have to die? Is it saying that a great man can fight great battles against a million adversaries through time and space unlimited and still die alone and hated in the cold depths of the ocean with no redemption or love?

I dont know if Full Fathom Five is representative of the Unbound series but Im amazed and disappointed that they have created a story and labelled it Doctor Who and yet delivered something with absolutely nothing positive about it. Doctor Who is about hope, heroism and the sanctity of all life. This story deals in death, despondancy and hate, and I feel it tarnishes the serial as a whole.

Where in the Doctor Who universe is this story supposed to fit? Is it intended to be the final ever Doctor Who story? Is this the 'Big Finish'? Is it a parallel universe? The only information I can find as to the intent of the Unbound scenario is that its a "different dimension", if I am to take their tagline literally.

If this story was intended only to spark debate and create controversy then I'm sure its worked wonders. If it was supposed to be entertainment then I feel it falls a long way short. There has never been anything clever or exciting about killing key characters as a plot contrivance, otherwise the Doctor would have died in the Cave of Skulls. You can be revolutionary without being iconoclastic as many of your other stories have proved. Full Fathom Five overstepped the mark Im afraid.

Tue 7th Oct 2003 - Rumours about the New Series

Not keen on Eddie Izzard as a potential Doctor. I love the bloke but not in that role.

Again, its like Alan Davies. Wonderful people but just not meant to be the Doctor. I think Izzard would probably be a better choice than Alan Davies, I think he has some good qualities. I caught some of that thing he was in recently trying to be serious and I didnt think he was that good an actor.

The best choices of Doctor have always been strong actors, not particularly well known. A touch arrogant but with some warm qualities. I thought Peter Davison wasn't arrogant enough and Colin Baker wasn't warm enough. I'm not even sure what Sylvester McCoy was. Anyway, I still think Paul McGann should have another go. He's done some fabulous Big Finish stories.

II have just listened to Full Fathom Five in which the Doctor was played by David Collings (Vorus in 'Revenge of the Cybermen', Mawdryn in 'Mawdryn Unead' or Silver in 'Sapphire and Steel'). He played the role of the Doctor really well although the way they took the story was not really my cup of tea as you will have gathered.

In other Unbound stories they have had Michael Jayston back as the Valeyard, Geoffrey Bayldon and also David Warner as the Doctor. He could be good. Might buy that one. Oh and the latest one to play the Doctor is Arabella Weird. Hmmm

Sun 12th Oct 2003 - More Actors

Bill Nighy and Sean Pertwee, both preferable to Alan, much as I love the bloke. I wouldnt be happy about Iddie Izzard either. He's just not an actor.

Derek Jacobi?

Wed 15th Oct 2003 - Spare Parts

I am currently in love with the Big Finish audio Spare Parts and I've only heard one episode.

Mon 20th Oct 2003 - The Mutant Phase

Just listened The Mutant Phase.

I nearly liked it. I thought it had a lot of potential as an idea. I quite like the idea of the Doctor turning up not only at important points in history but now important points in his own history, as he's so deeply weaved into the web of time. I thought there was loads that could be done with a story set in parallel with - or just before - The Dalek Invasion of Earth. But all that kind of went by the wayside an it turned into another paradox script nightmare.

The first few times a paradox was used as a neat story contrivance to mess with the views' heads I think it worked. A couple of Star Treks I think are like that and Day of the Daleks is cool. And Back to the Future is great because its such wolly science that it doesnt spoil a good story and the paradox just becomes a narrative device. But when the paradox becomes not just a twist but the whole basis of the story and therefore then you have to accept that part or all of the resolution of the story is just going to be a meaningless knot of ifs and buts, and it just becomes tiresome!

I'm deliberately not looking at the authors of these before I listen to them, so then I'm always unbiased. But I've picked too out recently as having dull dialogue and lifeless characters and they both turned out to be Nicholas Brigg's stuff which I feel a bit guilty about coz I like him!

Thu 23rd Oct 2003 - Eggs

Been finding a lot of Easter Eggs on these Doctor Whos DVDs. There's one on nearly all of them. My favourite was Tom Baker popping up from the 1970s, telling me he was going to Blackpool and that I had to brush my teeth.

Thu 30th Oct 2003 - BBC Online

I have been trawling through the BBC website's Doctor Who section. Did you know you can view PDF documents of production paperwork from every Doctor Who story? Its absolutely astonishing!

Anyway, during my exploration I came across another marvel!


Its bloody amazing the BBC website, although it does cost £70 million a year to run, so you'd kind of expect it to be.

I have just ordered The Dalek's Master Plan on CD along with The Two Doctors and Curse of Fenric on DVD. I've also pre-ordered The Three Doctors. I might have to go and buy some more Big Finish now. Ohh my money! Shopping on the internet is too easy!

Wed 5th Nov 2003 - 18 Questions about The Curse of Fenric

I received Curse of Fenric and tonight I watched the Special Edition. Hmmm. When I was young, I just sort of accepted it all and I thought it was quite good. Now I'm a little older I'm not sure it makes any sense. It's nice to have some explanation as to what the Ancient One is all about at least but I'm unlear on most of the rest.

I have a few questions:

1) Why did the Viking inscription read the same as the Russians' orders?
2) Why were the Russians returning to Norway according to their papers?
3) What were those blue crap things found on the beach?
4) Why did the viking computer program letters when fed into the ultima machine set events in motion for the Chains of Fenric to shatter?
5) What magic power did the Ultima machine have?
6) How does going in the water turn some people in to Vampyres?
7) How did the group of radio girls turn into Vampyres?
8) When attacked by the Haemovores, why did some people die by being drained of blood while others turned into Vampires?
9) Why did the two Vampyre girls at the end start to turn in Haemavores just before they died?
10) If the Haemovores were from the future why did they have period costumes on?
11) Do we assume they were from an alternate future that has now been averted?
12) Who created the Time Storm?
13) If Fenric can time travel and brought the Haemovores back in time, why doesnt it go back and destroy the Doctor before the chess puzzle was set?
14) Why did Millington destroy all the chess sets if Fenric needed one in order to win?
15) Why did Millington order the radios destroyed?
16) Why did the Doctor retreive the only chess set which then allowed Fenric to play the game again and nearly win everything?
17) Why did winning or losing the chess puzzle make any difference to anything?
18) Why didnt the chess puzzle at least make sense?

Sat 22nd Nov 2003 - Gripes

Having bought the first Radio Times with Doctor Who cover the other day I discovered there were three more! I picked up the remaining three yesterday in a two different places so as not to look like a loser. Its a bit of a cheek really to make four covers to boost their sales with collectors, but I suppose we shouldn't critise anything that generates such interest in Doctor Who, and at least they haven't made one of them impossible to find.

I set a timer going to record UK Gold +1 from 9am. I found out after a couple of hours that the video was recording the wrong channel, so I didnt get any of the first morning of the Doctor Who @ 40 weekend. What's more annoying is there is no way to override the timer on this video once its started! I even tried unplugging it from the wall but incredibly when I plugged it back in, it picked up the timer program and started up again!

Sun 30th Nov 2003 - Zagreus: First Attempt

Started listening to Zagreus.

It did not bode well from the moment it said "Previously on Doctor Who"

I listened to some of the reprise and their babble about anti-time and the Eye of Harmony and switched it off.

So I'm assuming I need to have heard Neverland too before it will make any sense whatsoever? Great.

I was reading reviews saying how the script editors of these Big Finishes were adding "much needed continuity" by sticking in various references to other BF stories. This is daft because these are not like broadcast stories where you have no choice what order you see them, these stories are just a pick 'n' mix of various Doctors, baddies and writers. Continuity should not be a word in their vocabulary!

All the best Big Finish stories are just fantastic adventures. The TARDIS is just a narrative device to kick off the story and the faster the "who are you? Where did you come from?" stuff is dealt with, the better the story. It can't have escaped everyone's notice that Doctor Who ran for six brilliant years before anyone even knew who the Doctor was and where the TARDIS came from! Its just not important. My personal picks might be Robots of Death, Talons of Weng Chiang, Spearhead from Space or Seeds of Death. The latter was even a sequel that required no knowledge of the original to enjoy.

It's a shame that this tradition has emerged of marking anniversaries or landmarks with Time Lord specials. The information in The War Games and The Three Doctors is interesting and The Deadly Assassin at least is a good mystery and the setting is peripheral.

The interesting thing is that The Five Doctors was one of the first Doctor Whos I ever saw and it was still really enjoyable. Although the companions and the monsters are all brought back for the hell of it, they're not actually important to the story. The story is just an odyssey to the Dark Tower with various problems and monsters along the way. The dark tower is just a McGuffin. I really enjoyed The Five Doctors it and it made me hungry for more Doctor Who.

Sadly the TV Movie was symptomatic of people missing the entire point of Doctor Who. Its not about the Doctor. That baggage has to be shaken off and - thank God - Russel T. Davies sounds like he's going to get it right. What he wrote in the Anniversary Radio Times is really reassuring.

I am concerned that Zagreus is just going to be a feature-length Dimensions in Time. Anyway, I've just ordered Neverland and Embrace the Darkness and I'm considering writing to complain to Big Finish suggesting they at least put a footnote with the Zagreus to the effect that this CD needs to be heard in sequence.

Mon 1st Dec 2003 - Big Finish Update

Just listened to Winter for the Adept. Boooooooooooooring. What a pointless waste of time that was!

Started listenind to Eye of the Scorpion. The Jury is still out after episode one.

Tue 2nd Dec 2003 - Scream of the Shalka

Well, I thought episode one was very promising. The dialogue is a bit stilted and the characters are a bit smart-arsed but it had something. Not sure about Richard E Grant as the Doctor, he seems to be fairly directionless. So episode two suddenly got very confusing with the Doctor's "new companion" very randomly shown, and then got even more confusing when the end credits said that the companion was actually ... the Master. If you haven't seen it, I'm not spoiling anything, because its not a dramatic reveal of any kind.

Then I watched episode three. The main alien-invasion plot seems pretty run-of-the-mill and I can cope with that. But the story seems so disjointed. I dont know if its symptomatic of bad writing or bad direction but it just doesnt feel right. That sudden random scene in the TARDIS with the Master's face... what was all that about? Are we supposed to be intreagued rather than baffled?

It's left me with a horrible suspicion that the whole thing is a sequel to a New Adventures book which I have never read.

If this had been a feature-length 90 minute animation then maybe it would be okay because any explainations would come faster but, as it is, I'm left utterly confused and disappointed and less inclined to watch the next one. I will of course.

Wed 3rd Dec 2003 - What does RTD Have in Mind?

Russell T Davies is keeping us guessing saying: "There are copyright issues, but it'd be nice to bring in one or two moments of old archenemies, just because there's a great audience of dads and mums at home going, 'I remember that monster!'"

I can't wait to find out what he comes up with! I dont mind this fighting female as long as she's nice with it. I can't be doing with another stroppy Ace or hardened synic like this girl in Shalka.

Sun 7th December 2003 - More Big Finish

I've listened to Neverland and thought it was okayish. It was a remake of The Three Doctors really, wasn't it? But taking itself far, far too seriously. It would have done as the anniversary special, what with having Time Lords and a bit of retrospective stuff but they felt the urge to make it a run-in to Zagreus why?

Also, it annoyed me that at the end of Neverland they changed the explanation without warning - one minute Rassillon hadn't really been there and it was all a trick, and the next moment Rassillon is really there and chatting to people in a pseudo messianic moment. One thing I did enjoy was finding out who the Doctor was telling the story of Seasons of Fear to.

I listened to almost all of the first CD of Zagreus but I got interrupted and not found the inclination to go back yet. It's just so utterly pointless. There was a New Adventures book just like it which was equally daft, I can't think which one. Might have been the last TimeWyrm one? Had to have been early coz I didnt read many. Anyway, that too was just a self-indulgant trip through dreamworld nonsense. At least The Deadly Assassin had structure, but so far Zagreus is just aimless.

The final annoyance is that they've got all these guest stars and they're not playing the right characters. I could understand that in some way on the telly becuase they'd look older and whatever and it would be fun, but its actually not all that easy to know if you're listening to someone who you're supposed to recognise.

As for Scream of the Shalka, I haven't even got round to watching episode 4 yet, that's how my interest has waned.

Monday 8th Dec 2003 - Lucky Number - Thirteen?

"Thirteen possible storylines to make up the new series?" says Executive Producer Mal Young.
BBC Publicity confirmed Russell T Davies has developed thirteen possible storylines.

It does worry me though that they keep saying "x number of episodes" when I hope they mean "x number of stories compisting y number of episodes."

Wed 10th Dec 2003 - Continuing Zagreus

You know in cheesy old sci-fi stories they show a fantastic adventure and then at the end the person wakes up and goes "Oh wow, it was all a dream!" and you kind of feel cheated out that period of your life in which you invested emotional time caring about characters and events which you then find never took place...?

Well, Zagreus is like that except you get told that none of it happens at the start!

Somewhere in the middle of CD 2 now... Should I be caring?

Tue 30th Dec 2003 - End of Year Roundup

I still haven't bothered to watch the end Scream of the Shalka. Don't hold your breath. Not a very promising sign, is it? It must surely be bad writing which isnt engaging me. I just dont give two hoots whats going on. Perhaps animation isnt the best media for Doctor Who, I dont know.

Anyway, I just thought I'd give my brief reviews of the Doctor Whos I've listened to recently.

Eye of the Scorpion
I thought it was a likeable return to a historical-style story, albeit with now obligatory alien anachronism thrown in. The pace was a bit slow at first but not really unpleasantly so because I was just enjoying the characters. I thought Peter Davison was great and I've always liked Nicola Bryant. I think Davison is so much better than when he was on telly. That bit of age has mellowed his voice and just given him so much more strength.

Interesting. A return to Traken has not exactly been on my long-awaited list, so this setting made a quite a surprising choice. It wasnt wasted though, but developed I thought in unexpected directions. Space ports and intergalactic commerce dont really fit very snugly with the idyllic garden paradise depicted in Keeper of Traken. Maybe I'm nit-picking. Early on I thought there were some good perspectives on the Doctor and how he might be perceived as bad considering what he puts other through but this wasn't really important in the end. Ultimately it could have been set on any planet about some mad bloke coming back to the world he created but I suppose it was alright.

Now then....! The "big" celebration ....

Storyline: Mysterious wotsits coming through a hole in space, everyone piles in to the hole to go and investigate only to find the dirty laundry of the Time Lord civilization. And their history has a grudge against them and wants to come back through the hole and bugger around in our universe.

Forgive me but surely this was just a remake of The Three Doctors in its entirity? And sadly just injected with some 21st century-style nonsense. Despite this I thought it was okay in places, some interesting ideas about the CIA and some nice fantasy backdrops. Although, is it just me or is everything that's supposed to be "wacky" or "a totally different universe" or whatever, just still a glorified gravel pit even on audio? Okay so this place had some mad spikey bits in the gravel pit but part of my brain just wants to achieve the imagery via crap CSO to complete the homage to The Three Doctors.

Ultimately, I thought it was diverting but amounted to an extra footnote in a meaningless Time Lord history. A history which is, after all, cobbled together from a dozen different throwaway lines by a dozen writers over two-dozen years. It still amazes me that they still try to rope a sensible Time Lord history together out of it.

My main issue is that Neverland should have been the 40th anniversary Doctor Who on its own. With a quick re-write you could have thrown in a few old Doctors and hey presto: some short, meaningless and nostalgic drivel about Time Lords that left everyone happy. But no...

Zagreus (or Neverland part 2 ... and 3 ... and 4)
D'you realise that considering this is a continuation of the Neverland storyline, it brings this total adventure's length to 16 normal 25 minute episodes? A fact cleverly disguised by having three long CD's, each only 'one part'. SIXTEEN episodes! It makes The War Games feel short. I thought it was self-indulgant and meaningless. The first CD drags, the second CD picked up a bit with some interesting conjecture about Rassillon but the end ...

I really hated the TARDIS being personified as the Brigadier and bitching about being betrayed. Just horrible nonsense. I hate all that metaphysical stuff with the Cheshire Cat and the TARDIS's mental projections. And I just hated the fact they tried to do something clever by having the past Doctor actors not playing the Doctor. A waste! Just get Terrance Dicks in and we can have a good old 'romp' that no-one will rave about, but certainly no-one will hate it as much as I hate Zegreus.

So on a final point: What is happening with Paul McGann stories from now on? Will his next set of adventures be set in the Anti-Matter universe? I had a look at Scherzo and the cast list only has McGann and Fisher in! The Edge of Destruction in four parts? No thanks.

Wed 31st Dec 2003 - End of the Year

The little celebration documentary was nice. Lots of the same old clips but some less over-used ones thrown in too.

McGann was conspicuous by his absense. Is this the first hint that the new Doctor Who series will follow on from Survival and ignore the Amerian TV movie? Could that leave us with a situation where we have two divergent universes of Doctor Who? The offical BBC one and the Big Finish one? You never know.

It was a Beeb documentary and I suppose it makes sense what with them trotting out all the favourite Beeb interviewees like Dicks they wouldn't turn to anything too new which they don't have all the rights too. Having said that, I'm surprised there wasn't even a footnote. But it was essentially a documentary about a Great British Tradition so you can't end it with a load of American stuff with Eric Roberts as the closing interview.

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