Enter the Third Doctor

The Doctor, the Master, and one of the dodgy monsters from "The Claws of Axos"

The Doctor, the Master, and one of the dodgy monsters from “The Claws of Axos”

We have finally gotten around to watching a few episodes with the Third Doctor! That took quite a while, after rewatching all of the Eleventh Doctor episodes, then getting distracted a bit with other things, then watching some Tenth Doctor (not too much). But we finally watched “The Mind of Evil” and “The Claws of Axos,” two episodes with the Roger Delgado Master.

So far, we enjoyed “The Mind of Evil” more than “The Claws of Axos.” The first had a more interesting plot, and the villain in the second was rather implausible and uninteresting. Unfortunately, both suffered a lot from uninspired direction, with characters standing immobile while delivering their lines, though it was much worse in the second. Another disappointment was Jo Grant, but not due to the actress or character; she just simply was not given anything to do. So far, her job is stand around and wait until the Doctor has a moment to have a deep conversation with her. She’s supposed to be a trained UNIT agent, and she does get one moment in “The Mind of Evil” where she shows her competence, but otherwise she’s very underutilized. We’re hoping this gets better when the Doctor finally gets his TARDIS back and they go off-planet, where there’s no Brigadier, Yates, and Benton to take up camera and plot time.

The Doctor himself has been very entertaining. He’s imperious, disdainful, and arrogant, and he outshines everyone on screen. The problem is that again, there’s so many people to deal with in each story, he’s not onscreen as much as he should be. However, he does have one thing that saves the show: the Master. When the Master and the Doctor spar with each other, the show simply shines. Delgado portrayed a wonderful villain. He’s not campy like Anthony Ainley was (not saying that the Ainley Master was bad; he was wonderful in his own way). The Delgado Master is always graceful and always in control of the situation; when he is defeated momentarily, he acquiesces, because he knows he’s going to get the upper hand in a few more minutes again.

At the moment, I think that of the classic Doctors that I’ve seen a fair amount of (that’s Three, Four, Five, Seven, and Eight), the Third Doctor is my least favorite, but you have to understand, I still really like him a lot; I just don’t like him as much as others. I am hoping to see him become more dynamic when he finally leaves Earth, and possibly when Sarah Jane Smith joins him.

Leading to the drums

s3_e12Lazy and messy are character traits you do not want to combine, but sadly they are prominent in both me and my husband, resulting in stacks and stacks of videos and games in no order, as well as some loose discs, sitting on any flat surface we can find. However, unlike my husband, I have a tolerance limit for this kind of thing, and I hit it on Saturday, and resolved to reorganize the entire mess. I now have all of the TV series videos together and in order, and all the Marvel cinematic universe videos together, and all the anime videos together and in order (not very many, true, but they’re at least ordered now). All of the video games are together, and at least grouped by system. And then all of the other stuff is at least piled nicely on shelves. No, I’m not going to alphabetize them. Only one disc didn’t have a case. (Note: This does not count the Doctor Who videos, which I keep in pristine condition, prominently displayed in order on their own shelves. When we watch one, as soon as it’s done, it goes back in its case, and the case goes back in the right place on the shelves. I know what’s important in my life.)

I knew that the task was going to take a couple of hours, and what better background noise for it than a two-part episode? I rarely watch two-parters (except for “Human Nature”/”The Family of Blood,” which I just have to watch every so often), because for some reason, when I sit down to watch the modern show, I always feel like I don’t want to devote enough time to watch two episodes. Of course, after I watch the first 45-minute episode I choose, I have to watch another, so why don’t I just choose a two-parter in the first place? It’s one of the mysteries of my life.

So, this Saturday, I selected “The Sound of Drums”/”Last of the Time Lords,” a set I haven’t seen in probably six months. It’s one of my favorite two-parters, except for the gnome Doctor at the end (I know I’ve said this before, but why couldn’t they just have relied on makeup and Mr. Tennant’s acting ability to make the Doctor older and older?), but I can overlook that because of the great story and the relationship between the Doctor and the Master. I’m a bit sad that they didn’t get the chance to have more stories with John Simm’s Master and Tennant’s Doctor, because they were fantastic together.

One thing that amazed me about the episode, though, was how much they used the season to prepare the audience for it, without actually letting you know they were doing it. Of course, the theme throughout the season was the repeated mentions of Harold Saxon, starting with his shooting down the webstar in “The Runaway Bride”; the RTD era is known for the theme that runs through each season that you only find out about at the end (“Bad Wolf” in series 1, “Torchwood” in series 2). Saxon is referred to both episodes that takes place in the modern time, but as a throwaway line, until his minions start to work on Francine in “The Lazarus Experiment.” Only at that point do you realize that something’s up with him, but his real identity is not even hinted at until these episodes.

But more than that, so many of the concepts and events in “The Sound of Drums”/”Last of the Time Lords” – and in “Utopia,” the lead-in episode – were explained long before, in other episodes, so that they didn’t have to be explained during the episodes.

  • The chameleon arch was introduced in “Human Nature”/”The Family of Blood,” allowing Martha to recognize the watch that Professor Yana carried, to create tension as she and the audience wonder which Time Lord he could possibly be.
  • The perception filter was first introduced in Torchwood, and then in “Human Nature”/”The Family of Blood.”
  • Saxon sponsored Lazarus’ de-aging research partially to attract the Doctor’s attention, but also because he wanted to reverse it to debilitate the Doctor.

It’s very obvious that the previous episodes were designed to support the season finale, and I’ve always loved how the RTD seasons were planned so that they didn’t seem like they were interconnected but then turn out that they were, with a story that you can only see in hindsight. I think part of it is that I prefer the concept of the Doctor as a traveler who gets into these odd situations and is  just trying to do his best, rather than a mythical figure that everything revolves around. In this particular season, the antagonist was targeting the Doctor, but on a personal level, and only as a small part of his grand evil plan; in the previous two series, the Doctor wasn’t the target at all – he just happened to be the person there to stop the bad guys’ nefarious schemes.

So, next weekend, I need a new task to do while watching another two-parter. Don’t worry, there’s plenty to clean up in our house. Sigh.



A question of numbers

I saw a Versions_of_the_Doctorquote from Steven Moffat today: “If the Doctor was a real person and walked in here, and you said, ‘Which incarnation are you?’ he’d have to think, just as you’d have to think about how many houses you’ve lived in. He never thinks of himself as a numbered Doctor. The Twelfth Doctor means the twelfth actor to have played the lead in Doctor Who. That’s all it means. There is no such character as the Twelfth Doctor and never has been.”

The first thing that came to mind when I read this was the headbutt scene in “The Lodger”: immediately after the first knowledge transfer, the Doctor says, “Yes. Shush. Eleventh. Right. Okay, specific detail.” So, apparently, the Doctor does know exactly what number incarnation he is. In “The Time of the Doctor,” he refers to the Tennant Doctor as “number ten.”

Then, you could argue, “Well, actually, the Smith Doctor is actually the thirteenth, or the twelfth if  you want to not count the Meta-Crisis Doctor as a Doctor in the real sequence, so obviously the Doctor has thought about his numbering, because he’s obviously consciously decided to omit the War Doctor and the Meta-Crisis Doctor to call himself the eleventh.” However, I think we’d have to break the fourth wall and give the scriptwriter the benefit of the doubt, saying that neither of those two omitted Doctors were considered when that episode was written. At that time, the Smith Doctor was the Eleventh Doctor, without question.

But this is immaterial. Why is it impossible for the Doctor to think of himself as a numbered Doctor? That doesn’t make any sense. In the first place, a Time Lord would need to keep track of how many regenerations he’s used up, and therefore knowing his own numbering follows directly on. In “The Five Doctors,” the Hurndall Doctor asks the Davison Doctor, “Regeneration?” and without having to count, the Doctor replies, “Fourth.” He knows which incarnation he’s on. He is of course never going to introduce himself saying, “I’m the Fifth Doctor,” but he knows the number. If you asked him “Which incarnation are you?” he would reply, “The fifth,” without thinking – we know this because he already has, on screen.

But beyond that, the idea that the Doctor doesn’t know his number assumes that he has no connection with his previous selves. The example of the houses you’ve lived it is not appropriate, because there’s no sequential connection between them. Here’s a better example: My father was the fifth child of eight. One of his older sisters died in infancy. If you asked him what number child he was, he answered either four or five, depending on whether or not the context of the question required acknowledgement of that sister. He didn’t need to list out his brothers and sisters to figure it out, because he was part of the sequence of children in his family. He knew he was the fifth child, or the fourth child that survived to adulthood. Similarly, my husband is one of a set of triplets, and he knows he’s the third one. A friend of mine is the fifth person to bear his name in his family line and his newborn son is the sixth. They know what number they are.

Because of the Meta-Crisis Doctor and the War Doctor, the character we refer to as the “Twelfth Doctor” would not answer “Twelve” to the question of what incarnation number he is. However, while he doesn’t think of himself as a numbered Doctor, he still knows what number he is, just as much as you know what number you are in any sequences you are a part of.

Now, apparently, the quote above comes from Mr. Moffat trying to tell the fans how to number the Doctors, and you have to wonder why. First, he already addressed this issue just after the 50th anniversary, saying that the numbering is just what we call the characters in the show to differentiate them, and that the numbering scheme would stay the same (with the War Doctor still being called the War Doctor and the Smith Doctor keeping the number eleven). Second, does anyone really think that the Doctor refers to himself by number? He never has directly… except during Mr. Moffat’s run. It just seems odd, doesn’t it?


zagreusWell, I ran right into listening to “Zagreus,” the 50th audio in Big Finish‘s main range, featuring the Eighth Doctor and Charley Pollard, and I am so glad I did. Now, the ratings on Time Scales varies greatly for this audio: people either love it or hate it, and I can see why. It’s a very ambitious story, attempting to force the Doctor and Charley to separately navigate their own mindscapes to figure out what’s going on without losing themselves, and a lot of people are not going to like this type of psychological drama. However, I loved it. And it cemented for me a lot more of Time Lord lore and history, which is something I really love.

Now, there is really no way for me to discuss this audio without spoilers, so you’ve been warned. Heavy, heavy spoilers ahead. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m outlining the whole story below.

“Zagreus” (pronounced “zah-GRAY-us”, by the way – I never get these pronunciations right; I still have problems remembering to pronounce “Omega” as “OH-me-ga”) follows directly upon “Neverland.” In that audio, the Doctor foils a plot by the condemned Time Lords in the ant-time universe to destroy Gallifrey by exploding it with anti-time by having the TARDIS swallow the anti-time bomb before it explodes. However, the Doctor becomes infected by the anti-time and becomes Zagreus, a previously fictional legendary destroyer of worlds. Charley is also in the TARDIS at the time and knows about the infection, but gets separated from the Doctor.

“Zagreus” then deals with what happens next. The Doctor is left to battle this alternate personality who wants to destroy the universe, and he spends much of the first half of the audio trying to avoid or escape from traps set by it. (I’m referring to Zagreus as “it” to keep it separate from the various male characters that show up.) Meanwhile, the TARDIS appears to Charley in the form of the Brigadier. He creates simulations of three different time periods to show her some important events connected with Zagreus and the anti-time universe. In each one, Charley plays the role of someone involved in the events, but mostly as an observer. The first involves an experiment run by humans during the Cold War, in which Reverend Matthew Townsend manipulates the experiment so that it shows him the creator of the universe, or so he thinks. The experiment explodes, or course, and kills everyone present, but what he sees through it is not what he expected.

The second simulation was of Gallifrey before Rassilon created the Time Lords. Tepesh, a Council investigator, made his way into Rassilon’s foundry to figure out what exactly he was doing. He finds out that Rassilon was planning to create the Web of Time to lock the universe into the timeline he preferred, and in the pursuit of this, was creating regeneration so that the Time Lords would live longer. Rassilon had also discovered that a new race, which he called the Divergence, was going to evolve to become more powerful than the Time Lords, and so he locked them into the Divergent Universe so that the Time Lords would continue to reign supreme. This is the universe that Reverend Townsend saw through his experiment. And lastly, Rassilon decided that the Gallifreyan form should be dominant in the universe, so he seeded tens of thousands of planets so that their dominant lifeforms were forced into Gallifreyan shape. Meanwhile, Tepesh reveals himself to be a Great Vampire, one of the last existent, and explains that Rassilon had waged war to genocide his race by spreading propaganda to the Gallifreyan people that the peaceful Vampire race were malicious and evil. Rassilon then incinerated Tepesh and his companions.

The third simulation was of Walton Winkle, or Uncle Winkie, a carny devoted to creating amusement parks and animatronic creatures for entertaining children. He was put into suspended animation a short time before he was about to die from a heart condition, and when he’s brought back, he finds himself in the last version of his amusement park, built on the burnt-out cinder of a planet. He discovers that he was woken up at the end of the universe, and the dead planet he’s on is Gallifrey. He’s been kept this long because he’s the one person with the mechanical skills to… Sorry, I don’t remember exactly what it was he was supposed to do, but the whole point of all three simulations is that the Divergence is trying to come back into the real universe. At the end of this simulation, Uncle Winkie is also killed.

While going through their various trials, the Doctor and Charley separately come to realize that there are sinister things going on, more than just the Doctor becoming corrupted by anti-time. They aren’t just trapped in the TARDIS: they’re in the Matrix, where Rassilon’s consciousness has existed since he died millions of years before. Everything has been orchestrated by Rassilon: he took the opportunity of the Doctor becoming infected by anti-time to bring the Zagreus persona into existence, to use it to destroy the Divergence as well as to use it to secure his hold on the Time Lords and the universe. While Rassilon forces the Doctor/Zagreus into forging a weapon that will kill the Divergence, Charley finds herself with Matrix representations of Reverend Townsend, Tepesh, and Uncle Winkie, as well as President Romana, who, when she sees them, calls them Doctor – the men that Charley saw in the simulations have the forms of the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Doctors. Together, they confront Rassilon and (after a few more twists and turns) cast him into the Divergent Universe to be dealt with by the beings Rassilon had been trying to kill. However, the Doctor, still infected by anti-time, chooses to exile himself to the Divergent Universe, to protect the real universe from the anti-time within him.

As you can see, it’s quite a complicated plot, and there are some very cool/disturbing things that happen that I haven’t mentioned – you’ll just have to experience them yourself. They managed to create a plot that’s part adventure (how is Charley going to survive those simulations?), part history lesson, and part psychological drama, and it’s successful for some people (I thought it was riveting) but not for others.

One thing that was extremely interesting was how they presented the guest characters. Reverend Townsend, Tepesh, and Uncle Winkie were depicted in the simulations and the Matrix as looking like the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Doctors (and indeed possessed significant character traits of those Doctors), and as such were played by Peter Davison, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy. But it’s also explained that the simulations presented by the TARDIS used faces that the TARDIS was familiar with, and so all of the other characters in them looked like old companions and were played by their actors (for example, Tepesh’s fellow vampire Ouida was played by Nicola Bryant). It was wonderful hearing all of these wonderful actors playing new parts, plus a few playing their regular parts (Lalla Ward as Romana, Louise Jameson as Leela, John Leeson as K9, Miles Richardson as Braxiatel). However, I can imagine that someone who bought the audio based on the cast list might be very disappointed to not hear an audio with a giant meeting of multiple Doctors and their companions and hate this audio just for that reason. Heck, the cover image up there implies this is a meeting of four Doctors.

Bottom line, I really liked “Zagreus.” I can certainly see why a lot of people don’t. Honestly, if nothing else, I’d recommend listening to it just to find out how corrupted Rassilon really was, because it really gives you a good sense of just how different from the other Time Lords the Doctor really is.

“Storm Warning” and “Neverland”

neverlandOver the last couple of days, I listened to “Storm Warning” and “Neverland,” two Eight Doctor/Charley Pollard audios which are connected by narrative events; the final part of this story arc is “Zagreus,” which I haven’t listened to yet (but I am eager to get to).

“Storm Warning” is Charley’s first episode. In 1930, the Doctor finds himself on the maiden voyage of a British airship, the R101, where he meets Charley, who has disguised herself as a male cabin boy, for the adventure of traveling on the airship. The Doctor realizes that the fate of the airship is to crash that evening during a storm in France, and because he’s taken a liking to Charley, he tries to save her from dying in the disaster. In “Neverland,” the Time Lords summon the Doctor to investigate some fractures in the Web of Time that are spreading and threatening to destroy the universe.

Without spoilers, I can say that “Storm Warning” was pretty average, with an uninspired story, while “Neverland” was fantastic. When “Neverland” was over, I thought to myself, “I wish the TV episodes were like this audio.” In addition to a great plot with a number of twists, it addressed a number of moral issues and challenged the Doctor’s beliefs. You don’t need to listen to “Storm Warning” to enjoy “Neverland,” and I would definitely say that if you get the chance to listen to it, grab it!

One thing I will say, though, after listening to these two audios, is that I really like the Eighth Doctor. He comes across as somewhat flighty, eccentric, and non-serious, but very personable and caring, and of course, like all of the Doctors, he has a core of steel. He also has that fascination with exploring the universe and seeing new things that I love so much in the Tenth Doctor, more so than any of the other Doctors. I am also very impressed with Paul McGann: he is a fantastic actor. I think it must be difficult to act in audios, because you can’t rely on facial expressions and movements to convey emotion and meaning, but Mr. McGann does incredibly well with just his voice: he can make you picture him, which is something most of the actors can’t do very well – they act their lines out, but Mr. McGann gives something more to the performance. I wish I could explain what I mean better.

Spoilerific discussion:

The problem I had with “Storm Warning” was that the alien race was just way out there, too weird and too improbable. I know that aliens have to be designed so that they react the way the author needs, so that the story happens the way it’s supposed to, but in this case, it was really obvious they were designed to fit the plot. It isn’t successful if the audience is thinking in such meta terms. Beyond that, though, the rest of the plot – what the humans were trying to accomplish, why they attacked the aliens, and the final outcome of the Lawgiver problem – was very predictable and not interesting. The story was mostly interesting for the introduction of Charley, and at least she was a great character to meet.

“Neverland” was enthralling all the way through, starting with the disintegration of the Web of Time from the very first seconds of the audio. We find out that Charley’s death in the R101 crash in “Storm Warning” was equivalent to what the modern series calls a “fixed point” and the Doctor saving her life there caused her to become a gateway between our universe and the universe of anti-time. (The Doctor mused about saving her life at the end of “Storm Warning” but was unable to identify any problems with her continuing to exist.) The Time Lords call the Doctor back to go on an expedition into the anti-time universe, to find out why the Web of Time is breaking down. There, they find that all of the Time Lord criminals that the Time Lords used to erase from history (a punishment they stopped using) had been sent there, and these people are angry, wanting to send anti-time into the real universe, to destroy it.

As in most of the other good Doctor Who stories, the characters are not black and white: the different characters have motivations other than what they’re saying out loud, and the Doctor finds that, in order to get everyone back to the real universe and keep the anti-time inhabitants from succeeding in their revenge plot, he has to figure out who’s trustworthy and who’s not. He does finally come to the conclusion that the only way to succeed is to sacrifice himself (in a very interesting way), and that doesn’t go unnoticed, as Rassilon himself appears and expresses his appreciation of the  Doctor’s efforts throughout his life. And then there’s the twist at the end, making me want to run off and listen to “Zagreus” right now (as if I needed any more prodding – I’ve seen the cast list for “Zagreus” and I’m surprised I took the time to sit down and write this instead of popping it in).

“Neverland” was absolutely wonderful, and there are a number of scenes that I plan to go back and listen to again, because they were so wonderful and meaningful. One other thing: this isn’t a fair reaction, because it only came about because I’ve seen the modern show before listening to “Neverland,” but the Rassilon scene brought tears to my eyes. It was beautiful in the first place, because the Time Lords have rarely appreciated the Doctor but Rassilon himself displayed his approval of the Doctor’s beliefs and his constant fight to uphold them. But Rassilon’s depiction here, as a wise and benevolent figure, only underscores the corruption of the Time Lords during the Last Great Time War, as you compare him here to his character in The End of Time. It was heartbreaking.



Even in Lego, this scene makes me sniffle.

Even in Lego, this scene makes me sniffle.

Life’s been a little low on the Doctor Who quotient the past few days. After watching “The Day of the Doctor”, I completely forgot about “The Time of the Doctor” (because I’m not very fond of it) and my husband, while he likes it, didn’t feel like subjecting me to it, apparently. I’ve been wanting to watch some Third Doctor episodes, to finally get a good feel for him and to watch the Roger Delgado Master for the first time, but we’ve been busy with a number of other things. Now that we have a bit more time, we started watching the Harry Potter movies again, so that’s kind of gotten me off track again.

We have watched “City of Death” and “The Happiness Patrol,” and I’ve listened to the Fifth Doctor audio “Loups-Garoux,” but I haven’t felt like sitting down and writing a review on them. I’m not sure I’ll get there, so here are some short statements on them.

  • “City of Death” (Fourth Doctor/Romana II) was fantastic. The story is great – one of the best ever – but what really floored me in this episode was the dialogue: snappy, brilliant, and eccentric.
  • “The Happiness Patrol” (Seventh Doctor/Ace) was surreal, as in, “What was the writer on and where can I get me some of that?” But I enjoyed it quite a bit, possibly because it was so out there. I think the point of it (the main character forcing everyone into her vision of “happiness”) has been rehashed a lot in other works since this one and has become a bit banal, but it still works even viewing it now.
  • “Loups-Garoux” (Fifth Doctor/Turlough) was a good enough audio, though I’m really not fond of spiritual/animalistic themes in Doctor Who, which I view as a science-based sci-fi. (The science is incredibly dodgy, but a lot of the point of the universe is that it’s based on science, even when the science looks like magic). I very much enjoyed getting to see more of Turlough, and was pleased to see him exhibiting his usual self-preservation, but putting his life on the line when someone he cared about was endangered.

Next up in the audio queue are some Charley Pollard audios – her introduction, as well as the two audios about the fallout from her being saved from death by the Doctor.

I leave you now with a fantastic video by bookshelfproductions on YouTube: a recreation of “The Day of the Doctor” in Legos. Watch it: you won’t be disappointed.

And then there’s Facebook…

The new title page on iOS. Gorgeous!

The new title page on iOS. Gorgeous!

Doctor Who: Legacy released their Facebook version on Friday. For those of you who don’t have a tablet or smartphone to get the iOS or Android version, you now have the ability to match gems and collect all of your favorite characters and Doctors! Remember, it’s a free game, so why not check it out?

Though I already am playing it on iOS (and am probably a week away from maxxing out all of the characters yet again – rank 5 has been hella fun; I need to write a guide on it), I installed the Facebook version and tried it out, and I have to say that I’m not too impressed with it. Now, if you don’t have the ability to play it on iOS or Android, then Facebook is the only way to go and I definitely recommend playing it there, because this game is worth a look for any fan. However, if you can play it on a different platform, don’t bother with the Facebook version.

Just as a note, you should know that I’ve been working in game development for Facebook games for a number of years now, and have also done some development on iOS, so I’m looking at this from the point of view of a person who not only plays the games on these platforms, but also has to consider how to make games on these platforms fun and enticing. It’s a slightly different point of view from that of a person who just wants to play games.

Without getting into the technical details, the problem with DW:L on Facebook is that it’s designed to be a tablet game, and it relies heavily on being able to accurately move pieces around by touching the screen directly with your finger and dragging them where you want them to go. If you’re playing on Facebook, you’re most likely using a mouse, and you just don’t have the speed and accuracy this game requires. This game is not like Bejeweled, in which you’re moving one piece to the next slot and letting go; you’re moving one piece all over the board within a strict time limit, and if you skirt a corner, you move pieces you don’t want to move. After a few plays, I was getting better on the accuracy, but it was very obvious that I would never achieve the speed that I have on the tablet, and therefore I won’t be able to play at the level I play on the tablet. This is one of the hazards of porting a game to another platform: things that are designed to work well on one may not work well on another, given the type of display, input devices, and other things, and DW:L just doesn’t work as well with a mouse.

The game itself also looks very much like it’s a tablet game being shown in a web browser. There’s a good reason for that: it is a tablet game being shown in a web browser. It’s built in a game engine called Unity, which allows the developer to create one game and present it on different platforms easily. (If, for example, they had used an iOS-specific engine to build game for iOS tablets, when they wanted to release the game on Android or Facebook, they’d have to create the game from scratch again on a new engine for each platform. This is what Unity prevents.) It’s a great concept and makes development easier, but the presentation of the game doesn’t look very polished in a web browser – it doesn’t look like it was made to be played on a computer. It also seemed to me that the graphics were a bit fuzzy, but I could be wrong.

Another thing that surprised me was that the game was exactly the same, without any features to take advantage of Facebook as a platform. If you’re familiar with Facebook gaming at all, you know how it works: a person playing a game usually spams his friends with posts from that game. Now, you’re probably thinking, “That’s great! DW:L won’t spam my friends!” but on the other hand, how do you tell your friends to check out this awesome game? I had to make a status update on my wall to do so, and if I wanted to post an image to demonstrate just how great the game looked, I’d have to take a screenshot and process it on my own. On the one hand, it’s nice that the game isn’t spamming my wall, but on the other hand, there’s no way for me to advertise it to my friends for them or to invite my friends to join me in plaing it.

And that’s really the crux of it: Facebook is a social gaming platform. The whole point of its gaming is that you do it with friends. DW:L ignores all that: there’s no way to post your favorite teams, or see what characters your friends have collected, or challenge someone to beat your score. All of its community is built outside of the game. It’s a decidedly single-player on a social platform, with less ease of play than its original form on the tablets. The tablets can have social gaming, but it’s the thing that Facebook makes easy, and DW:L hasn’t taken advantage of it.

So, final verdict? DW:L is still a great game, but Facebook isn’t the platform for it. If you don’t have a tablet or a smartphone, I still recommend checking it out on Facebook, because it’s brilliantly fun and addictive, but if you do have one, play it there instead.

More interesting than Series 8

The Warrior

The Warrior

With Series 8 on its way in a month and a half (August 23 is the debut date), the BBC has been releasing teasers and such to get the fanbase into a frenzy about finally meeting Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. Yes, it’s very exciting, but you know what’s even more interesting to me? Doctor Who: Engines of War, set to release in the UK on July 31, and in the US in September. It’s a novel starring the War Doctor and set during the Last Great Time War.

Why is this novel so interesting to me? Because we’ll finally get to see what the War Doctor was really like. Yes, we saw him in “The Day of the Doctor,” but frankly, his characterization was rather disappointing. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love “The Day of the Doctor” (I’ve seen it over 20 times, and will watch it any time anyone wants to pop it in the blu-ray player), I loved the War Doctor, and John Hurt gave a fantastic performance. However, there are a lot of things wrong with the episode; it just so happens that they still all come together to make a fun ride. In my opinion, one of the things that’s wrong is the characterization of the War Doctor.

Remember that the Doctor was given the ability to select who he would regenerate into, and he said, “I don’t suppose there’s a need for a doctor any more,” selecting a warrior instead. He then spent hundreds of years fighting the Time War (as evidenced by his aging from the face we see at the end of “The Night of the Doctor” until what we see in “The Day of the Doctor”), during which he led the Time Lord forces. Where was all that in his personality? He was very polite, not something I imagined he would be, but on the other hand, the Doctor is rarely what you’d expect, so I can excuse that a bit. He didn’t carry a weapon (he had to ask a soldier to lend him a gun so he could write his message on the wall), and his TARDIS wasn’t fitted with weaponry, so it’s hard to imagine how exactly he fought in the war. (I’m not even sure how the TARDIS survived at all. Millions of Battle TARDISes were created and destroyed during the war; you’d think a thousand-years-out-of-date Type 40 wouldn’t stand a chance.) It just seemed to me that his characterization was a poor fit for what he was created to do and what he had done.

Thus, I’m very interested in seeing the War Doctor in the environment that he lived in for hundreds of years, in a brutal war that devastated thousands of planets and massacred trillions of people. This novel is supposed to be a war story, and I hope it lives up to that genre. One thing I’m also interested in seeing is what the novel calls him. Despite what name the Moment said was in his head, the Doctor rejected his name during that incarnation. Near the end of the war, the Time Lords referred to him as “the Renegade,” but I can’t find any reference to what he called himself (or how people referred to him) before that. It’ll be disappointing if they call him the Doctor throughout.

Playing with time

I was looking for a pic for this post, and just had to use this one.

I was looking for a pic for this post, and just had to use this one.

I spent a bit of time last night doing some research on the Last Great Time War, because I’ve got this idea for a fanfic set during the war and needed to iron out some details. I found it absolutely fascinating that I spend far more time researching Doctor Who history, both the lore as well as what we see in the episodes, than I ever did for papers and projects during school.  The same activity can be considered work or play, depending on the context.

I wanted to get a good feel for the history of the Time War, how events progressed, and it was completely fascinating – there’s so much that’s been established that’s not in the TV show (and I haven’t gotten to yet in all the audios). Here is a little bit of the history.

  1. The first event is the Daleks creating a virus that would corrupt Time Lord DNA to wipe them out.
  2. The Daleks then hack into the Matrix so that they can use it to invade Gallifrey. Romana traps them in the Matrix and shuts it down, to trap the Daleks in a time loop.
  3. Narvin (from the CIA), unaware that Romana’s fixed the situation, gets the Fourth Doctor to attempt to stop the Daleks from being created or delay their development.
  4. In retaliation, the Daleks try to create a clone of the Fifth Doctor to send him to assassinate the High Council.
  5. The Daleks then attempt to get the Hand of Omega, to gain mastery over time. They are stopped by the Seventh Doctor.
  6. At this point, the Daleks start the Last Great Time War.

In case you haven’t noticed, point 3 is “Genesis of the Daleks,” point 4 is “Resurrection of the Daleks,” and point 5 is “Remembrance of the Daleks.” Basically, while creating the history of the Time War, the showrunners went backwards and worked classic episodes into the timeline of the war. They’re no longer just random encounters the Doctor had with Daleks; there are now reasons for what happened, all part of the Time War’s history. The way they did this is just so cool, fitting this all in. It’s also wonderful to see the pre-Eighth Doctors having some hand in the Time War (it’s always bothered me a little that the Time War lasted for hundreds, probably thousands of years, but the classic Doctors were not involved in it at all [not that they could be, mind you, from a beyond-the-fourth-wall point of view]). I suppose this is one of the advantages of a show with a long history that deals with time travel: you can manipulate the history into loops, creating an even richer backstory than you originally intended.


It makes me giggle… I get a regular number of hits on my blog per day, and it displays on my dashboard when I log in. Then, I publish my review for Dead Air and tag David Tennant, because a large part of that review had to do with his spectacular performance, and my readership triples. I guess you have to give the readers what they want! Well, I’m not a click-whore, and even though David Tennant is again a part of this post, I’m not going to tag him, because this one’s about the character he plays, not him. Ha! Bucking the system! I’m such a rebel!

Much of my time lately has been either devoted to playing Doctor Who: Legacy or listening to audios. We did finish our rewatch of the Eleventh Doctor’s episodes, up until “The Day of the Doctor,” but I really don’t have much to say about that. I liked the seventh series better than I did the first time I saw it, but still not all that much. *shrug* So, my blog post, at least for the last few days, have been all about audios.

Colditz“Colditz” is #25 in the main range of Big Finish audios, and features the Seventh Doctor and Ace. They land in Nazi Germany and are immediately captured and imprisoned in Colditz Castle, famed for being the prison to which repeat escapees from other POW camps are sent. This audio is known for being David Tennant’s first appearance in a Doctor Who story, playing Feldwebel Kurtz (a feldwebel is a sergeant), recorded back in 2001.

First, an opinion on the audio with minor spoilers.

This audio is a bit of an enigma. It introduces the character Elizabeth Klein, a high-ranking Nazi officer who appears to know what a TARDIS is but doesn’t have any interest in it. She’s instead interested in the Doctor himself, and her story is very interesting, well-written and well-acted. On the other side, the depiction of Colditz Castle and Ace’s internment there is uneven at best, and completely unbelievable at worst. Without going into much more detail, I’d have to say this audio comes out to be pretty average, worth listening to a few very good performances and for Klein, but not a keeper.

Now, discussion with major spoilers.

A Nazi prison camp. Not just any Nazi prison camp, but a specially-created high-security one. The concept itself brings to mind a gritty, dark story, of cruelties and despair, into which Ace is thrown while the Doctor is ripped away from her. The story does attempt to go in that direction: I was amazed (and impressed) at Kurtz’s threats to Ace that he was going to come to her room at night and rape her. He didn’t say it outright, but it was heavily implied, and I could not believe that Doctor Who would even touch on such a subject.

However, the atmosphere never materialized. It didn’t take very long for me to get the impression that when Big Finish came up with the idea of setting a story at a Nazi prison camp, the author immediately did research on them by watching Hogan’s Heroes. It’s true that only the POWs who escaped multiple times from their first camps were sent to Colditz and that they continued to scheme to escape once they were interned at the castle, but the prisoners in the audio seemed almost happy to be there. The background sounds were almost party-like, and the prisoners talked freely of their next plans to escape. They even had equipment, such as radios, secreted away from the rather ineffectual Nazi guards.

Then Ace is added to the mix. She maintains that she’s not a spy but is unable to explain why she’s in Germany in the first place, and the Germans accept that without blinking. Whenever she comes into contact with the Nazi officers, she mouths off and refuses to do anything they ask or command, and she’s never so much as even slapped for her insubordination. The German officers – Kurtz and his superior Schafer – sputter at her, but that’s about it. It was so unbelievable that at some points, I was rooting for the Germans, that they would grow a backbone and smack Ace around a bit.

The real meat of the story is in the events surrounding Klein and the Doctor. She knows about the TARDIS because she comes from an alternate future in which the Nazis won the war; they have the TARDIS but don’t know how to use it, and she’s come back to get the Doctor to force him to teach her. He realizes he needs to shut down the alternate future, and he does so (I won’t say how, but it’s very indicative of the Seventh Doctor’s manipulative nature), but in the process, Klein challenges him, asking why he’s the one who gets to decide which version of history is the one that stands, and why she and all the people in her timeline must be sacrificed for it. The Doctor doesn’t waver throughout the discussion, but it should raise such questions in the listener’s mind.

Many of the minor characters were rather, well, unbelievable. One of the prisoners, a journalist, promises to help Ace escape, but gets cold feet just before they put the plan into action, and instead of telling her that he won’t do, he goes to the Germans and rats on his fellow prisoners, so that they are captured and punished. Why? I have no idea. Mr. Tennant’s Kurtz was actually very interesting, an unapologetically despicable character (and well-portrayed; if you’ve ever wanted to hate Mr. Tennant, this is the performance to listen to). A small-minded man, devoted to the Third Reich and reveling in his power over the prisoners from his rank as feldwebel, his hands are still tied by the Geneva Convention, which requires him to treat the prisoners fairly. He’s ambitious, but not very smart, unable to play the games needed to rise in rank or become trusted by the commandant. All of this results in him brandishing his power about and simply being exceedingly cruel to everyone he can. Ace and the other prisoners play on his paranoia to manipulate him, which works sometimes and backfires other times. He was quite a horrid man, but he didn’t deserve his gruesome death, torn in half as the TARDIS dematerialized with him halfway in the door – another shocking scene that I was surprised to find in Doctor Who. If the audio had had the nerve to maintain this kind of atmosphere, allowing the Germans to dominate and preventing Ace from owning the camp, it would have been one of Big Finish’s best.