Confession #85: I Need a Dimensionally Transcendental House

May
27

Having just spent the last week packing up a ridiculous amount of accumulated crap, signing bunches of paperwork, and then unpacking some but good-god-nowhere-near-all-of-it-why-oh-why-do-we-still-have-all-this stuff, I'm starting to see a real advantage to spending one's centuries in a TARDIS.

As we've moved house, we've stumbled across a whole lot of keepsakes that we've held on to for a vast stretch of years. They're the kinds of things that when originally packed had too much meaning to let go, but have remained in boxes for so long that meaning may or may not have since faded. Sorting will take a redonkulous amount of time and effort.

I suspect the TARDIS is littered with such shelves and boxes, a collection that the Doctor has never bothered to curate. Hints at that tendency abound. For example, at least a couple separate times we've seen a wardrobe area littered with clothing from bygone Regenerations (and I doubt the Doctor even knows what all is lurking in the rooms filled with clothing his Companions have—or could have—used). And when Clara was lost in the depths during Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, we saw an array of memorabilia (such as the pinwheel that was in young Amelia Pond's yard in The Eleventh Hour) suggestive of packrat tendencies I know all too well.

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Might-Have-Beens and Never-Weres

May
20

Review of Neverland (#33)
Big Finish Release Date: July 2002
Doctor/Companion: Eight, Charley, and Romana II
Stars: Paul McGann, India Fisher, and Lalla Ward
Preceding Story: The Time of the Daleks (Eight, Charley)
Succeeding Story: Spare Parts (Five, Nyssa)

It's been diverting to broaden my Big Finish horizons and listen to some adventures with the Sixth and Seventh Doctors, but I found I was missing the Eighth. Thus I've returned to the last of his adventures recommended to me from the first fifty releases in the Main Range.

Charley has visited a couple more interesting points in space and time with the Doctor since last I joined them. We do not, however, start with the two of them—instead, we are on Gallifrey with Lord President Romanadvoratrelundar—known to the Doctor (and us) simply as Romana. Someone is reading out historical facts revolving around Charley's anomalous survival of the R101 crash and her subsequent travels, but the recitation soon becomes garbled. The paradox appears finally to be too much for the Web of Time to bear.

When we do return to the Doctor and Charley, though, it's clear things aren't stable in the TARDIS, either. The Doctor tries to tuck Charley safely away in some backwater corner of the universe (to his credit, it is at least one helluva party), but she refuses to be fobbed off so easily. They end up on Gallifrey together, where they discover the universe is being threatened by an incursion of anti-time—all because of Charley.

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Confession #84: I Like Unusual Colors

May
13

What if monsters came in a range of rainbow colors?

There's an old saw in Doctor Who circles, apparently going back to the thirtieth anniversary documentary "More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS" (and perhaps the originally broadcast version, which lacked the "More Than"), when long-time script editor Terrance Dicks famously pointed out a de facto trend in design on the show: "The colour for monsters is green."

It sounds a little odd, stated baldly that way, but upon reflection it's clearly true. There are the Silurians and Sea Devils, Alpha Centauri, the Draconians, the Krynoids, the Rutans, the Jagaroth... The list goes on and on. And if any of the aforementioned can be argued to be anything other than green, it's a muddy brown instead.

Occasionally we'll see something further into the red part of the spectrum—the Zygons, for example—but other hues are distinctly lacking. Where are the bright yellow critters, or the blue ones? I guess we've had the golden Axonites in The Claws of Axos and the occasional blue-faced humanoid (e.g., Dorium Maldovar), but in the grand scheme of things, the pre-Hiatus palette in particular definitely trends to green.

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Confession #83: I Kinda Like Torchwood

May
06

Everything's coming up Torchwood lately.

First there were a plethora of Torchwood guests at Gally. (By the way, I offer my condolences to all of you who suffered the same abject terror as I on Monday when their registration vendor choked mightily under the onslaught of desperate nerds trying to get 2016 tickets. I hope you are all able to get the tickets you intended.) Then I decided to start re-watching the show (well, the first three series anyway—"Miracle Day" is total retcon-bait in my book). And just this week, Big Finish has announced the return of Torchwood with all new stories on audio.

Torchwood is an odd beast. It took a while to find its stride, trying a bit too hard in those early episodes to establish itself as a post-watershed show distinct from its parent, with as much sex (both different- and same-gender) thrown in as it could manage. Eventually, though, it explored some interesting themes about memory, loyalty, and all kinds of love (romantic, familial, and friendly).

Of course, it's still probably most famous for the sex. How can it help but be so, when its star—both the actor and the character he plays—is so synonymous with playful sexuality? John Barrowman's Captain Jack Harkness is the heart and soul of the Torchwood team. The rest of the crew might (and does) change at the drop of a hat, but there's no Torchwood with out Jack.

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A Future Set in Ash

Apr
29

Review of The Fires of Vulcan (#12)
Big Finish Release Date: September 2000
Doctor/Companion: Seven and Mel
Stars: Sylvester McCoy and Bonnie Langford
Preceding Story: The Apocalypse Element (Six, Evelyn, Romana II)
Succeeding Story: The Shadow of the Scourge (Seven, Ace)

Although I've always had a soft spot for Sylvester McCoy's Seventh Doctor (especially when he's paired with Sophie Aldred's Ace, my all-time favorite Companion), somehow in my explorations of audio adventures, I'd never sat down with one of his before. I've come close, in that I did once track down episodes of Death Comes to Time, a webcast from 2001-02, which had only limited visuals and relied heavily on the audio component to get the story across. As for Big Finish product, though, this was my first.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, especially given that The Fires of Vulcan co-stars Mel, of whom I've never been a fan. Although supposedly a bright woman—a computer programmer, no less—she seems to have been reduced on screen to an overly optimistic cheerleader to the Doctor and an epic screamer. I had been told she was much improved on audio, but I still winced a little at the prospect.

To my mild surprise, though, the rumors were true, and Mel didn't grate on my nerves. She was still a little too upbeat for my taste, but it fit her character well, and it wasn't excessive. In fact, I can honestly say it wasn't until I was finished listening that I remembered how little I usually care for her.

The story begins with a "modern day" (1980) discovery: there's an English police phone box buried in the ruins at Pompeii. UNIT promises to take care of it, and the poor archaeologist is left wondering what's going on. When we hear the TARDIS materialize a few seconds later, the Doctor and Mel don't, either; the Old Girl wouldn't show the Doctor where they'd landed. Soon, though, we realize they're in Pompeii—the day before Vesuvius erupts.

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