Category Archives: General

Oh, Brilliant!

Yes. In the interest of making life more interesting and having somewhere specific to type up my thoughts about the new Doctor Who series due in the Autumn 2018, I have revived Renegade Timelord and updated the theme to match (somewhat) the new aesthetic of the series.

I’m certain to have things to type and likely to have ideas for gaming as well as matters TV and radio.

For example, at the moment I’m listening to the Sarah Jane Smith series released by Big Finish, back in the middle of the Noughties. It feels odd listening to Elizabeth Sladen’s voice again, hearing new stories while knowing that there will be no more. I’m also fascinated by the story lines that touch on the weird, strange and scientific, but never quite venture wholeheartedly into the territory where the Doctor would get involved.

I’m certain to ponder the new series, the new director, the new Doctor, and what that all might mean.

It’s exciting – and like the recently revival of Star Trek (both in Discovery and The Orville), I’m coming at the new era of Who as a happy lover of sci-fi.

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.

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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?!

Good Characters Go to War

River Song (Doctor Who)

Yesterday, I watched ‘A Good Man Goes to War‘, and I like it. No, I love it. For some reason, it works as an episode introducing the new season (or at least the second part), piles on new characters like they’re going to be relevant (which they haven’t been until the 2012 Christmas Special) and progresses the story of River Song by leaps and bounds (which for some might be a turn-off, by I have always loved the River Arc and have the hots for Alex Kingston).

As a roleplayer, the episode stands up as a great model for starting a campaign. You get a pretty solid story, a pile of new characters, an immediate challenge for the characters to face, and an ongoing quest to latch future adventures off. You have rich back story potential in the Madame Vastra, for example, or Strax – aliens who have lives that work against the norm. Sontaran Strax has a penance to serve, set by The Doctor, and he does his best to keep to his word. He vows to punish and defeat everyone once he had served his time – but plods on helping and healing in the meantime. Like River Song, his story ends here – but we know that much has come before and we have glimpse some of that in the 2012 Christmas Special.

The brief appearance of the Cybermen provides the chance for action and explosions without needing to get them directly involved. The presence of the Cyber-fleet adds to a cinematic quality. I found the whole episode felt like a film more than an average episode of the series. When you felt like you’d reached a conclusion toward the end, they tack on a little bit more than supplies a necessary twist that would drive through the rest of the season.

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