Oh. Em. Gee.
(Okay, enough with the silly fangirly jargon. I’m too old for this. Except I am so totally a fangirl.)
Oh. Em. Gee.
(Okay, enough with the silly fangirly jargon. I’m too old for this. Except I am so totally a fangirl.)
One thing that has always enchanted me about the Tenth Doctor is how the showrunners incorporated the theme of music throughout his run. I’m not sure how obvious it is, but music has been a big part of how he was presented all the way through. Let’s take a look at how they used music to further tell his story. (Here are lyrics to all the songs mentioned, if you’d like to check them out.)
And then, of course, there’s “The Music of the Spheres,” the short video that was played during the Doctor Who Prom (the BBC National Orchestra concert) in 2008. While the 2010 and 2013 Doctor Who Proms both had short videos featuring the Eleventh Doctor, the plots of those videos were adventures. The Tenth Doctor’s video in 2008 had him talk to the audience about music, and he composes a piece which he has the orchestra perform on stage. (The quality of that piece, at least to human ears, is rather questionable.) So, the Tenth Doctor has some direct connection to music that most of the other incarnations don’t.
(As a side note, there’s only one indication that I can think of that the Tenth Doctor was skilled as playing music, and that’s from “The Girl in the Fireplace.” When he returns and subsequently meets adult Reinette for the first time, he plays a brief but pretty arpeggio on her harp. He must be a skilled harpist to do this, because an unskilled person would not be able to easily pick out the correct strings to strike and play them well. Of course, this could be a retained prior skill rather than a specific interest of the Tenth Doctor, as the Fifth Doctor had previously demonstrated his ability to play the harp in “The Five Doctors.”)
In the classic series, the music was kept carefully in the background (except for the Second Doctor’s recorder music), and during the Eleventh Doctor’s run, if there are any songs with lyrics, they are very few and far between. To be honest, I’ve been listening to the music for the Eleventh Doctor’s seasons for the past week and am still becoming familiar with it, but so far there are only two instances of music with lyrics in his run, “Abigail’s Song” from “A Christmas Carol” and “The Long Song” from “The Rings of Akhaten,” and neither song is about the Doctor. There is a minisode that shows that the Eleventh Doctor runs off at night to play euphonium in a band, but it’s the only direct mention of music that I can think of.
I’m very fond of symbolism, when it’s done well, and the inclusion of this musical theme to his life adds an interesting note to the Tenth Doctor’s run, making it very different from all of the others. It’s actually rather subtle, as you don’t really realize how much music appears in the episodes until you list it all out, and then it’s tied up at the end with the poetic references to the Doctor’s song.
It’s very common in most games in which you are trying to level characters up that you end up at a point where you run out of game content and all you’re doing is trying to gather experience or items to continue to make levels on those characters, and Doctor Who: Legacy is no different. The problem, of course, is that gathering, otherwise known as “farming,” is boring, because usually the most interesting levels to play are not the ones that are quick to complete or provide the most character progress. Thus, your best bet is to find the fastest, most efficient levels to run through over and over again. This guide gives suggestions on levels to play based on what you’re trying to accomplish, along with the reasons why these levels are good.
Please note, these are the levels that I’ve decided work best for me. You can probably find discussions on the web that suggest more levels, and they might work better for you.
To level a single character to rank 4, you need a total of 36 Time Fragments, 18 of two different colors. If it’s a Doctor, that number goes up to 48 Time Fragments (24 of each color). With rank 5 becoming available later this week, we can extrapolate that those totals to get to rank 5 will be 64 Time Fragments for companions, and 80 for Doctors. That’s a lot of Time Fragments! And that’s not counting the number of Pink Time Fragments (18 / 32 for companions, 24 / 40 for Doctors)! How do you get all those fragments?
There are a few things you have to consider to find good levels to farm for the fragments you want. First is ease of completion: if the level is too hard to complete easily, you’ll spend too much time playing the level, when you could play a different level twice in the same amount of time. Second is whether or not you need Pink fragments: if you do, you can’t play Season 7, which doesn’t drop them. Third is how well the fragments drop: while I don’t have hard data, it seems that some enemies drop fragments far more often than others. For example, Weeping Angels seem to drop Blue fragments very often, while Handbots drop Green fragments rather rarely.
Another problem that I had finding good farming levels was that while the symbols on the level tell you the most common enemy colors found in that level, they’re often misleading. For example, a level might show Red and Green, so you play it because you want Green, but it’s mostly populated with Red enemies, with one Green enemy, one Blue enemy, and one Gold enemy, making it more or less useless for Green farming.
Thus, I finally chose farming levels given the following criteria:
Then, for each color level, I created a team of the color that beats that level’s color, with these rules:
Once you have your levels and teams selected, you’re ready to go. Here are the levels I chose to farm:
The Green level is actually not very good (it’s short and Rorybots have a terrible drop rate) but there isn’t any other Green choice. You may not like the time-limited levels for Gold and Red, but their drop rates are very good.
Because Time Fragments are such a limiting reagent, experience farming will be secondary: while you’re fragment farming, as long as you keep switching out maxed-out characters for characters that need experience, you’ll level them up on the experience from fragment farming. However, what if you’re not fragment farming? Well, the easiest levels to experience farm on are the ones with the fewest enemies.
I found that I spent most of my time fragment farming and made plenty of experience to level up my characters during that, so I didn’t figure out which levels would be good for straight experience farming, except for one. “Sontaran Captain Vade the Defiant” is a mono-Gold level in Season 6 where you battle Vade twice. With a team and perks weighted towards Black, this level is quick to get though and awards 21,000 experience.
What if you have a bunch of characters that you want to farm experience for, but they’re all different colors? I recommend using the Season 5 level “A Very Sontaran Christmas.” That’s right, use the time-limited single Toclafane level. Why? Because it’s a fast level if you know how to beat it. Check out my discussion on it, but here’s the quick once-over.
Once you can beat it, this level is fantastic for gaining experience on characters of different colors. Why?
Hello again! In installment three of my dream/nightmare seasons, I have compiled the best episodes of each slot for the classic run. Now, this endeavor was both easier and harder than it was for the modern show, because I’ve seen only a fraction of the classic episodes so there wasn’t much to consider, but the classic show’s seasons don’t line up well with each other. There seems to be very little rhyme or reason when it comes to the number of episodes in a season. The First and Second Doctors’ seasons lasted seven to ten episodes; the Third Doctor did four to five; the Fourth Doctor’s seasons were five to seven episodes long; and then the Fifth Doctor did seven episodes for all three of his seasons. The Sixth Doctor’s episode numberings are odd, depending on how you treat Trial of a Time Lord. And then then Seventh Doctor did three seasons of four episodes apiece.
As far as my viewing patterns go, as I work through the classic shows, I’m starting with the ones with the highest ratings, so most of the ones I’ve seen are good. Therefore, I won’t be putting together a nightmare season. So, here’s my dream season, which includes the list of episodes I’m choosing from (only the ones I’ve seen in a slot).
Doctor Introduction Episode: “Castrovalva”
“Robot” had a great plot and some fantastic comedic sequences (including the Doctor selecting his wardrobe), but “Castrovalva” had a great mind-bending puzzle and I preferred the overall plot (though the sequences of Nyssa and Tegan dragging the zero box through the woods could have been a lot shorter).
List: “Spearhead from Space”, “Robot”, “Castrovalva”, “Time and the Rani”
Episode 1: “Remembrance of the Daleks”
This episode starts out looking like it’s just going to be another “defeat the Daleks” episode, and then you slowly realize what the Doctor is doing, and it’s just stunning. “Arc of Infinity” would have topped this list if they hadn’t dropped the ball in the last half-hour and abandoned Omega’s return to the universe and his recovering from his millenia-long isolation in favor of showing off that they were actually filming on-location in a foreign country.
List: “The Three Doctors”, “Horror of Fang Rock”, “Arc of Infinity”, “Remembrance of the Daleks”
Episode 2: “The Ark in Space”
The Fourth Doctor, Sarah Jane, and Harry Sullivan find themselves on a space station with aliens trying to take over the humans in suspended animation. It sounds pretty trite, but this is an episode that I started watching without any idea about and then started going, “Oh my god, this is a fantastic story.” Whenever anyone asks what’s a good classic episode to watch for an introduction, this is the one I suggest (though I always add the caveat that you have to ignore the dodgy alien larvae that are obviously actors in green bubblewrap). The other two episodes in this list are also very good.
List: “The Dalek Invasion of Earth”, “The Mind Robber”, “The Ark in Space”
Episode 3: “Mawdryn Undead”
This was a hard choice. I didn’t really like “Pyramids of Mars,” but I think that’s mostly because I didn’t really get it. It needs a rewatch. “The Deadly Assassin” is very good, but the middle part, where the Doctor is fleeing the assassin in the Matrix, didn’t age well and is very boring. “Mawdryn Undead” is good episode, dealing with death and the curse of immortality, bringing back the Brigadier twice, and introducing Turlough.
List: “Pyramids of Mars”, “The Deadly Assassin”, “Mawdryn Undead”
Episode 4: “The Face of Evil”
I think most people would choose “Genesis of the Daleks,” because of its famous plotline about the choice of genocide, but I prefer “The Face of Evil.” The overall plot is engaging, but I especially like the way they constructed the Sevateem and Tesh societies, and the personal journey of the shaman Neva through the episode makes it shine.
List: “Genesis of the Daleks”, “The Face of Evil”, “Terminus”, “Survival”
Episode 5: “Black Orchid”
On the face of it, just looking at the plot, “Black Orchid” is an average or below-average episode. However, the thing that’s appealing about it is that it’s different. There’s no science fiction element or direct threat in it (just a murder mystery, though it’s terribly written), and instead, you get to watch the Doctor enjoy himself playing cricket, and the rest of the crew get to interact with each other on a social level. I’d like to see episodes like this done every so often.
List: “The Robots of Death”, “Black Orchid”, “Enlightenment”, “Planet of Fire”
Episode 6: “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”
This is a fine story, with a lot of well-created characters, including the villains and the pair of Jago and Litefoot.
List: “The Aztecs”, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”, “The Keeper of Traken”, “Earthshock”, “Revelation of the Daleks”
Episode 7: “The Five Doctors”
Okay, so there’s only one episode in this list. “The Five Doctors” doesn’t have the sturdiest plot, but with so many Doctors and companions, and companion cameos, it’s just a lot of fun. Plus, you get to see the Brigadier punch the Master.
List: “The Five Doctors”
(I have not seen any of the later episodes in seasons that lasted longer than seven episodes.)
Doctor Regeneration Episode: “The Caves of Androzani”
This is one of the best Doctor Who episodes ever. On the one hand, you have this huge political/economic war going on, while on the other hand, the Doctor is simply trying to find a way to save Peri’s life, a task made difficult by getting innocently embroiled in the battle. The people in all of the factions are complex, with multiple goals motivating their actions, and you never quite know who’s going to succeed in the end, or even if the way it all turns out is actually a good thing.
List: “Logopolis”, “The Caves of Androzani”
Spoilers ahead! I’m not writing out the whole plot because it’s too complicated and would really ruin some of the surprises.
While traveling, a mysterious force hits the TARDIS and pulls Nyssa and Turlough out. When the Doctor and Tegan trace back to where it happened, they land in 51st century Brisbane, but Nyssa and Turlough are nowhere to be found. They discover that the area has been destroyed and is considered extremely dangerous, and the people they meet up – a group of journalists with know them. They become embroiled in the problem that the journalists are investigating – what seems to be unethical experiments in time travel – that are occurring just as the world factions are coming together to form a globe-spanning alliance. As they find out more about this new alliance, they discover that the man who is leading the faction known as the Eastern States, Magnus Greel, is also about to get married – to Nyssa. The story is then all about figuring out what Nyssa is doing there, what’s going on with the time travel experiments, and trying to get the alliance to not dissolve into war.
Like I said, I’m not going to give many more details about the story, but if you’re familiar with the classic show, you probably recognize the name Magnus Greel: he was the villain in the Fourth Doctor episode “The Talons of Weng-Chiang.” In that episode, the Doctor encounters Greel in Victorian London, where he’s been deformed and is dying from his travel in his time cabinet, which uses a destructive form of time travel called zygma energy. Assisted by a duped minion and a doll-like animated object called the Peking homunculus, he was draining the life force of kidnapped women to stay alive and power his experiments to heal himself using the time cabinet. The Doctor, of course, stopped him by forcing him into his own life-drain chamber.
This audio, then, explores Greel’s life before the events of “The Talons of Weng-Chiang.” He’s a high government official in the Eastern States and wants to have his faction take over the world (even if it means World War Six), but he’s also dabbling in time travel on the side, through the efforts of an alien named Findecker, who insists that zygma energy is the way to do it. Findecker is dying from zygma energy exposure, so Greel also starts experimenting with draining life force from people, earning him the nickname “the Butcher of Brisbane.” The TARDIS crew become involved because of the zygma beam hitting the TARDIS in mid-flight, and the Doctor finds himself having to figure out what’s going on and try to help the victims of Greel’s and Findecker’s experiments without changing the history he’s already experienced with Greel in his previous incarnation.
Thus, the story has to work on two levels: it has to be a good story in its own right, and it has to fit itself into the history already established in “The Talons of Weng-Chiang.” It does both of these beautifully, and it’s quite a thrill to hear about how all of the things in that episode came to be. The origin of the time cabinet and the Peking homunculus are explained, and the Doctor mentions that he exists elsewhere on the planet, working with the Filipino army in a previous incarnation. The Doctor even introduces himself to Greel as a Time Agent, explaining why Greel is so afraid of them in the TV episode.
Greel himself is a fascinating character. He’s ambitious and amoral, but he is still a likable person (unlike Findecker), and even though you can’t believe it at first, he really does love Nyssa. And, after all that happens, you can see why he’s become what he is in “The Talons of Weng-Chiang.” The Doctor wins and everything is happy again in the end, but the story feels like a tragedy because of Greel and what you know of his fate.
This story is also unique because the Doctor has to constantly dance around the fact that he knows Greel’s future and has to make sure that things happen correctly for him. For example, there are a few instances in which people have to chance to kill Greel or take him prisoner, but the Doctor knows he has to live and has to escape in his time cabinet. There’s no external, hand-wavy reason for what the Doctor has to ensure, like “it’s a fixed point in time.” This time the reasoning is very solid: the Doctor must save everyone while allowing Greel to escape, because not doing so will change his (the Doctor’s) personal timeline.
All in all, this is a great audio, especially if you’re familiar with “The Talons of Weng-Chiang.” I leave you today with the best quote from story, courtesy of Tegan, speaking to the Doctor. “Stop holding time’s hand! It’s bigger than you are. It can take care of itself.”
Spoilers, ho! I mean, these next four paragraphs tell the whole story, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, skip down to the paragraph that starts with “Now first…” (and there are still a few spoilers after that).
If you know your British history, you know that the Iceni were a Celtic tribe that led a revolt against the Romans who were occupying the British Isles. Now, I don’t know my British history (at least, not that far back), so I really didn’t know what to expect from this audio. At the start, the Doctor and Leela land in Britain as part of the Doctor’s continuing efforts to educate Leela about her ancestral history, but he doesn’t check to see when they landed. Leela hears the sounds of battle, and though the Doctor doesn’t think it’s real, they investigate and meet up with the Iceni in the middle of a conflict with the Romans, and they’re led by Boudica. The Doctor explains to Leela the history of these people, that Boudica and her husband had made a treaty with the Romans that their kingdom would be left jointly to their daughters and Roman emperor at his death, but when he died, the Romans seized the kingdom and raped her daughters. Thus, Boudica was leading her people to revolt against the Romans, for revenge and to evict them from Britain.
Leela, always the honorable warrior, immediately sides with the wronged queen and wants to fight for her righteous cause, but the Doctor tells her she can’t, because the Iceni are defeated and completely wiped out. However, she insists, willing to die for an honorable cause instead of walk away from it, and leaves the Doctor to pledge her fealty to Boudica. Their conversation, however, is overheard by Bragnar, a cook and warrior, and she confronts the Doctor, asking how they can change the fate of her people. The Doctor can’t change it, but can save one person, and he and Bragnar flee to the TARDIS. They’re discovered before they reach it, however, and, considering the Doctor a Roman spy, Boudica locks the two of them up and condemns the Doctor to death.
In order to save the Doctor’s life, Leela tells Boudica that he’s a soothsayer and predicted the doom of the Iceni, and Boudica demands that he tell her what the prophecy is and how they can avoid it, promising that she would let him go free afterwards. The Doctor refuses to tell her, so Boudica threatens to kill Bragnar until he relents and tells them how the Romans have set up the Iceni’s next target, Camulodunum, a town for crippled, retired soldiers, as a decoy so that the Roman army can outflank them and defeat them. With this knowledge, Boudica revises her strategy so that they will be ready for the outflank and defeat the Romans.
As soon as she has the foretelling, Boudica has the Doctor imprisoned again, figuring that she needs him for more future knowledge, angering Leela, who is also appalled that the queen was going to murder Bragnar just to get the Doctor to talk. At the battle of Camulodunum, Boudica orders the wholesale slaughter of all of the town’s occupants – not just the soldiers, who are retired and crippled, but also the women and children, and Leela realizes that while Boudica’s original goals were honorable, she’s given in to bloodlust and has lost sight of what she was trying to do. Leela challenges Boudica and wins the fight, though she refuses to kill the queen. While Boudica rails at her for being a traitor and for not having the courage to finish off her opponent, Leela frees the Doctor and they and Bragnar flee the tribe. The Doctor and Leela leave Bragnar to find herself a new life, while Boudica leads the Iceni further on their path. The Doctor reveals later that he lied – the Iceni are defeated by the Romans, but not at Camulodunum; he made up the Roman ploy to make Boudica think she was changing her future.
Now first, you have to understand that I love Doctor Who historical stories. I love history in general, and like to see how the Doctor gets involved in historical events, without all the aliens and sci-fi stuff interfering. There are very few purely historical television episodes: I believe the last one was “Black Orchid” (and that wasn’t really historical, just a murder mystery – Mr. Davison has said that a writer at the BBC was asked to write an episode for Doctor Who and he just reached in the bottom drawer of his desk and pulled out a murder mystery he had written that hadn’t been used yet), and the last one before that was in either the First or Second Doctor’s run. So, this audio was perfect for me. It’s taught me about the real history of Boudica (or at least, I read the Wikipedia article), as well as woven the Doctor into the events.
Apart from that, I very much enjoyed the depiction of the savage Iceni tribe and the anger of the queen at the Romans. Then, of course, the story here is really about Leela, from her decision to follow Boudica due to the Doctor’s description and not from actually knowing anything about the queen or her people themselves, to her slow realization that the queen is not the ideal, honorable warrior she seemed to be. Then, when she realizes she’s wrong, she does her best to rectify the situation, and has the strength to stand up to Boudica. Moreover, Leela is not able to sway Boudica; Boudica stays true to who she is, and is not “redeemed” in the eyes of the audience.
This audio also has Mr. Baker giving what I feel is his first truly good performance in this series. I noted in my previous reviews of the Fourth Doctor Adventures that he hadn’t quite seemed to get into character yet, but he’s great here. His voice is strong and he sounds like the Fourth Doctor we all know and love. I also think that his dialogue was better this time around, giving him more to chew on. There were a lot of “What did he just say? Oh, that’s the Doctor being the Doctor” moments.
In conclusion, I definitely recommend “The Wrath of the Iceni” as a great Fourth Doctor audio. Looking forward to the next!
Doctor Introduction Episode: None of them.
All of the Doctor introduction episodes are fantastic. As I couldn’t choose my favorite last time, I can’t choose my least favorite this time.
Christmas Special: “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe”
The Christmas specials in general tend to be a little maudlin, but this one goes over the line with the whole “she’s stronger than you because she’s a mother” concept. Hm, thinking about it, Series 7’s entire point seems to be “everyone is better than the Doctor.” Maybe that’s why I don’t like that season.
All of the first episodes are pretty strong, so this was a difficult choice. I like “New Earth.” I just like it slightly less than the others in this slot.
Episode 2: “The Beast Below”
I think “The Beast Below” was trying to do the same thing that “The Fires of Pompeii” did: teach the new companion about the moral dilemmas the Doctor faces so often and then have her teach the Doctor something about compassion. This time, though, the presentation was heavy-handed and repeated to make sure you got the point. The story and setting felt disjointed.
Episode 3: “A Town Called Mercy”
The Western setting is a big strike against this episode in my eyes (sorry, it’s just not a genre I like), but the story just never gelled with me.
Episode 4/5: “The Time of Angels” / “Flesh and Stone”
If I step back a bit and look at the plot, these are fine episodes, but the Weeping Angels and all of the inconsistencies introduced in this story just ruin it all for me.
This is another slot of good episodes, and I finally selected “The Vampires of Venice” after quite a bit of thought. It’s a great adventure episode; it just doesn’t have anything more to say.
Episode 7: “The Rings of Akhaten”
This is one of two episodes that I never care to watch again (the other is “Love and Monsters”). That’s really all I have to say about it.
This slot is also filled with good episodes, and so unfortunately, “Cold War” gets the nod here. It’s a good episode, and I love the characterization of the very alien Ice Warrior.
Episode 10: “Night Terrors”
I actually don’t remember why I didn’t like this episode. Sorry, nothing else to say here.
Episode 11: “Love and Monsters”
This wasn’t the no-brainer you might think it was; my other choice here was “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS.” I just rewatched the latter, and I didn’t hate it as much as I did the first time, but it still isn’t a very good episode. I think the real tragedy of “Love and Monsters” is that the first half of the episode was absolutely brilliant, and it was simply ruined by the second half.
I wanted to select “The Wedding of River Song” for Episode 13, but I couldn’t find a bad Episode 12 that wasn’t a two-parter, so the season closer of Series 2 gets the vote here. This is another “good-but-not-as-good-as-others” choice.
Special: “Planet of the Dead”
And another. “Planet of the Dead” is a fine story, but it just doesn’t compare to “The Waters of Mars” and “The Day of the Doctor.”
Regeneration Episode: “The Time of the Doctor”
This episode was just a mess. I’m not going to go into the details. I’m just very sad that it’s how the Eleventh Doctor ended. He deserved a lot better.
So there’s my nightmare season, the season I hope I never have to sit through. Next up, by request, my dream classic season!