Paul

Writer for PARANOIA and Maelstrom. RPG and boardgame fanatic. Business analyst and occasional web designer. Father and keen reader of scifi, history and popular science.

And Cough

Peter Capaldi is The DoctorSomeone asked me whether I was looking forward to the return of Doctor Who this weekend.

At a very simple level, the answer would be ‘Yes’. I want to see what Moffat and Peter Capaldi have in store.

I have had this date in mind for some time. When I changed job earlier in the year, I measured time from when I started to when the new Who would be on. I’m not sure why that’s relevant, but it did cross my mind.

Now, it has snuck up on me and, yes, I’m looking forward to settling down in front of the TV this Saturday evening and watching Deep Breath.

What do I want from this new series?

Apart from Capaldi being magnificent…?

I want to see the Doctor trying hard to return Gallifrey to where it belongs and involving the Time Lords in the universe once more. Their existence never interfered (much) with his life in the old days, during the Classic Who period – so, why make such a big deal of them that they can’t co-exist with him now. Knowing that these people exist within reach and that the Doctor had cause to run from them seems, to me, to add something to the story – not ruin it.

I want to see a fresh dynamic between the Doctor and his companion. We have had friend, lover and mate – one way or another. What can we try next? Stranger, mentor, loner. The manipulative stance of the 7th Doctor toward Ace? The growling indignation of the 6th? Something interesting, and yet not so negative as to drive me away. Something that suggests he cares enough to carry passengers, but you’re not 100% comfortably you’re certain of his motives or best intentions towards them. Like Ace, might the companion represent the pawn in some Long Game.

I’m quite happy to see more of the old enemies and The Doctor beginning to make progress in combating them, without annihilating them. Or striking them down with retrograde amnesia. I liked the way the Cybermen had evolved a bit in Nightmare in Silver – they need more of the Borg from Star Trek about them. They’re always seeking to improve themselves, enhancing the artificial and excising the organic. They should never be the same from one story to the next.

I also like seeing stories that suggest The Doctor has a lasting impact and that sometimes that impact isn’t a good thing. In some of the recent arc stories we have seen suggestions of this, but I’d like to see more. The sixth Doctor had some adventures like this, where he returned to somewhere earlier regenerations had visited and saw something of what they’d left.

At base, more Who normally satisfies me, regardless.

Who in 2014

English: The current TARDIS seen at BBC TV Cen...

What Who needs to do this year is go back to the roots of the revival. That’s my thinking.

I appreciate that over the last few years, we have experienced a rebirth and with it, the guidings hands involved have taken it upon themselves to try different approaches.

All the series have had an arc plot – which I like. I can’t argue with the concept of that. When you’re watching a show for a baker’s dozen of episodes, it’s nice to have a sense that you’re involved at a deeper level than a more casual viewer. I get that. It means that someone can come in and have an experience of Who for the first time without necessarily needing to undergo a pre-viewing training session. On the other hand, those who have spent the time coming back time and again have the chance to see a bigger story develop.

Of course, those who commit themselves to the Doctor Who concept on a yet wider level can have the appreciation of a meta-plot. Gallifrey and the Time Lords actions in the Time War has offered this. The Doctor has struggled with the actions of his people and the steps they took. For those viewing the new series since Eccleston, the Time War has been a background hum from the outset. Since the second episode, when Jabe, of the Forest of Cheem, recognised the Doctor and saw the pain in his existing as the last of his kind – we have been on a journey.

Beyond plots, we have had some great writers – especially some of the guest writers in the last couple of series, superb guest actors, marvellous leads, fine villains – and the triumphs of the anniversary episode…

However, at the same time, we have lost some of the wonder, and certainly lost the sense of regularity.

(more…)

Classic Thrills and Adventure

Faux Rocket Rangers recruitment posterMars holds remnants of an advanced civilisation, now fallen into barbarism. The sweaty depths of Venus holds danger and savage beasts, certain to catch ill-prepared travellers unaware. And beneath the cratered face of the Moon, relics of a subterranean people suggest this rock holds secrets more fascinating than it’s drab surface might suggest.

A familiar situation, whether you’ve been watching Doctor Who or you’re a fan of 19th and early 20th century science fiction. The solar system contains more promise for explorers than at first one might expect. Earth alone no more, for out there in the midst of the star speckled void lies the evidence of civilisation, some of it pre-dating our own.

This is the backdrop for Rocket Age, from Cubicle 7. (more…)

Wallflower Revolution

My wife’s key criticism of the JJ Abram’s near future sci-fi series Revolution, currently showing on Sky in the UK, related to the plants.

If civilisation collapsed 15 years ago, what’s with the plants growing all over the buildings in major cities? How come the plants grew rampant, but not quite so rampant as to be aesthetically displeasing…

My question would take a slightly different focus – why so little destruction in the urban landscape of the Revolution future? Is that down to the aesthetics also?

Last Summer, the UK experienced widespread riots and looting in major cities. The other day, someone blew up a forecourt cash machine with explosives.

If the power goes out and the leaders lose control (and interest), why wouldn’t the whole world completely go to shit. Wouldn’t the people with anti-social tendencies, tenuously controlled and restrained by current authorities, just go ape-shit when everything collapsed? Wouldn’t the mad, the bad, and the dangerous to ang around with find flammables and explosives and then lay waste to almost everything?

Never mind the vines… Why are the buildings still standing?!