Monday, 25 December 2017


The very lovely Simon Meade moderates two really good Doctor Who Fan Pages on Facebook  (Journey Into The TARDIS and The Ark In Space - check them out!). He's asked some of the members to write up reviews of a Capaldi story of their choice to help commemorate his departure from the show. 

Knowing that a lot of fans don't have the nicest things to say about Sleep No More, I thought I would tackle it and give it some more positive representation. Deciding it might also be fun to put one more entry in the blog before the year was over, I decided to post it here. 

Hope you enjoy this Special Bonus. Happy Holidays!  


In all honesty, I adore the "Found Footage" genre. It's not even a guilty pleasure - I think it's a great way to put a story together. I haven't just enjoyed the popular stuff like Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. I've gone into more obscure realms like The Last Excorcism. I've even gone all the way back to the beginning and sat through Cannibal Holocaust (be warned: you will lose just a little bit of your soul if you watch this movie). Found Footage works especially well for scary stuff. So much horror, nowadays, feels so overproduced. The are so many super-choreographed, slow motion sequences going on that we're too busy marveling at the visuals and actually forgetting to be frightened. Found Footage returns things to a nice brutal raw state. The horror becomes very natural again. And that can be very effective.

When I heard Doctor Who was doing a Found Footage story, I was a bit on the ecstatic side. I know a lot of fandom was very uncertain about it - but I was looking forward to it. I was pretty sure, even before I saw it, that I would love it.

I was right.

One thing that I really appreciate about Sleep No More is that it immediately sidesteps one of the biggest problems of the Found Footage genre. The "Why would anyone keep holding on to a camera during all this horrible stuff?!" problem. A few years back, I sat through the movie Cloverfield. About two-thirds of the way into the film, I could no longer suspend my disbelief. For the plain and simple reason that I could no longer support the idea that any human being would still be filming everything while he was trying to leg it out of a city that was being attacked by a Godzilla-like giant monster. He would have dropped the camera ages ago cause it was slowing him down too much and the movie should have ended at that point.

Sleep No More sets up a clever premise that enables us to maintain our belief. Rasmussen, a clearly mad scientist, has created a special story for us using the security cameras of the space station he's on and the helmet cams of a rescue team that arrives there. Later, of course, things get even more surreal as we discover that the very dust can stream footage. But, for me, it all works. We can enjoy the rawness of the genre without having its credulity pushed too far. And Doctor Who can delve into a whole new realm effectively. In order to truly cement the boldness of it all, we get the first episode in the long history of the show that doesn't use the title sequence. These clever conventions, alone, cause me to fall in love with this adventure.

But there's so much more to Sleep No More than just a clever use of the genre. It really is a cool story. Yes, perhaps a few elements are a bit hard to swallow. Monsters made of eye-boogers is a bit of a stretch. But that's probably the closest I come to a genuine complaint. Otherwise, I think the whole thing flows quite smoothly. There's definitely a lot of tension and suspense to the tale. Most of it created by the cinematography. Yes, it's a futuristic sci fi story on a space station - but it still feels like we're watching something real. And that makes it feel all the creepier.

This is, perhaps, not Mark Gatiss' best script. I don't mean that in a cruel way. It's still very solidly written - it's just that he has stories I enjoy better! I certainly like the futuristic society that he creates here, though. Particularly the way everyone says "May the gods look favorably upon you." It's a nice touch.

Sleep No More offers a few nice twists, too. Most of them evolving around Rasmussen, himself. As we learn, more and more, what this special video is all about (he did warn us not to watch it!) we have to give some serious props to Gatiss. He put in some nice layers. And the final reveal of what Rasmussen truly is becomes a very iconic and chilling moment. I will, forever, remember the image of him crumbling away and pointing out: "You have something right there in the corner of your eye"

Speaking of endings, I love that Sleep No More joins the ranks of stories like Genesis and Victory of the Daleks by having a conclusion where the Doctor doesn't quite win. The Sandmen will continue to proliferate while our heroic Time Lord merely takes off in his TARDIS happy to have his skin intact. There's meant to be a sequel, of course. So far, it hasn't happened. I almost hope it doesn't. It's just so much creepier to leave things off on this note.

I know lots of people don't share the same opinion that I have of Sleep No More. A Doctor Who episode being shot in such a manner strayed too far from the show's established formula. But that's actually why I do like the episode so much. It's yet more proof that Doctor Who can do anything. Even if it's not always accepted so well by everybody!

Friday, 22 December 2017


And so, we reach the end...


Admittedly, Missy was difficult to accept. For some reason, I did not like the idea that Time Lords could change genders when they regenerate (forgive me if that causes me to appear sexist). Yes, there had already been any number of discussions about casting a woman as a Doctor - but it was all talk. It hadn't happened yet so I could stay happy in my theory that male Time Lords always stay male and Time Ladies are always Time Ladies. Even when it's mentioned in The Doctor's Wife that the Corsair could, sometimes, be a woman - I took that more as the Doctor just talking nonsense (Eleven was quite good for that).

But then we get that big revelation at the end of Dark Water. The Master has done what I never wanted a Time Lord to do. This is truly it: Gallifreyans can have sex changes without major surgery. And they've demonstrated this fact through the Time Lord I least wanted to see do it!

Still, that revelation was made in a totally awesome manner. Giving us the most stupendous of cliffhangers. But even if the whole thing hadn't been done in such a spectacular fashion, I knew I needed to give a proper chance to this new incarnation of what I feel is the greatest TV villain (and one of the best villains, ever) before passing judgement.

 I was so glad I kept my mind open!

I think what I love most about Missy is just how truly unique she is from her predecessors. Not only is she a different gender -  but her character, in general, is handled very differently from the rest of the rogue's gallery that she's a part of.

There are, of course, many traits that make her so different. But there's two that I really want to home in on:

1) Cameo Appearances:

Do you remember the flashback sequence in Caves of Androzani? All these floating heads of the Fifth Doctor's former companions are calling out to him and telling him not to die. And then, suddenly, the Ainley Master appears and tells him to do the exact opposite. And it would seem that it's the goading of his enemy rather than the support of his friends that compels him to survive.

It's a cool sequence for various reasons. One of them being that it was great to just see the Master do a cameo. Up until then, if the Master appeared, it meant we were going to get a Master Story. It was so cool to just see him pop up briefly in an adventure that wasn't really about him.

Amazingly enough, no one thinks of doing this again until Deep Breath. But when Missy does appear at the end to greet the deceased cyborg, it's a magnificent moment that builds up all sorts of intrigue. Missy's cameos throughout Series Eight become the main arc of the season. Which gives her a real presence in all kinds of episodes that aren't properly about her. It's a great device that causes those final two episodes of Series Eight to be all the more poignant. 

That device gets used again but in a different way throughout Series Ten. Even though it's not revealed that Missy is inside the Vault until Episode Six, her presence is still felt throughout the first half of the season. Whatever mystery lies within the Vault is discussed quite heavily in each episode. Little clues that insinuate her presence are given throughout those first five episodes, too. Like the way the piano music gets excited when the Doctor tells her he's got a story about teenagers dying.

Of course, after it's revealed that Missy is in the Vault, her cameos increase. The latter half of Series Ten focuses quite heavily on an attempt to reform her. Once more,we get to enjoy Missy in small doses throughout those episodes. Only in the season finale is she featured more fully. Again, it's done very effectively.

I love that Missy is used in such a manner. It gives us the same effect as the notorious Delgado Season without actually over-using the villain. We really feel that we know Missy because we've seen so much more of her. But we haven't gotten tired of her. It was a great way to involve her in the show.

2) Character Growth:

Easily, the trait about her that I love the most. This is, in fact, the thing that made her climb to Number One on this list. In his other incarnations, the Master is more of just a foil to the Doctor. An anti-thesis, if you will. He represents the exact opposite choice the Doctor made.

Because of this, the character stays very constant. Yes, he tends to go more and more mad as he gets older, but there's still no real sense of growth to the character within each incarnation. The Delgado Master, for instance, seems like the same person in Frontier In Space that he was in Terror of the Autons. He has neither progressed or regressed at any point. He's this very suave-but-evil man who seems to seek some sort of approval from the Doctor as much as he wants to destroy him. That sense of consistency has a certain entertainment value to it. But it would have been nice to see him be a bit more three-dimensional. To, maybe, see him learn a lesson or two from his experiences. Or even soften a bit in later adventures (perhaps he actually shows mercy to one of those people he uses on a regular basis by allowing them to live rather than killing them once they have fulfilled their function). Or anything that indicates the years have changed him a bit. But he's still just a repressed sadist throughout his entire era. It almost seems like he's grown a bit at the beginning of The Sea Devils, but we see in later episodes that it was all just a front.

This is not another attempt from me to criticize the Great Delgado. I could use any incarnation that we've seen and make the same point (in this sense, you can't pick on Roberts too hard - how much character growth can you put into just one appearance?!). The idea of trying to get the character to evolve a bit has just never been explored.

Until, at last, we reach Missy.

The first sign of character development happens during that huge twist at the end of Death In Heaven. After building an unbeatable Cyber-army, she hands control of all her forces over to the Doctor. Never could we imagine any other versions of the Master doing this. The fact that Missy does indicates that the character is going to go in some very different directions than her predecessors.

The evolution continues in Magician's Apprentice/Witch's Familiar as Missy sets out to, specifically, save the Doctor. Yes, there have been alliances between the two of them over the years. The Master was even influential in saving the Doctor in his trial during Ultimate Foe. But any time he's been helpful to his arch-rival it's because he stood to benefit from the gesture in some way. This is the first time the character has acted out of sheer friendship. She's still quick to point out that she's evil - but we can see Missy continuing to move along a redemption arc.

Of course, a key aspect of Series 10 is that final journey that Missy takes to become truly good. While she's very shaky, in places (particularly as she starts interacting with her previous self), Missy does choose to stand at the Doctor's side at the end of her time. Her journey does complete itself.

Even if she had, ultimately, chosen to remain a baddie - watching a character that has always remained constant go through an evolutionary process of some sort was an absolute delight. There's a lot of things that I greatly enjoyed about Missy. But it's the fact that Moff decided to take her through a character arc of any sort that sets her above all the rest. It completely re-defined the rules of the Master. It even offered us a little hope. No matter how genuinely evil a person may seem, there's hope they can change for the better. It's a bit beautiful, really. An adjective I never thought I could attach to the character.

Final Thoughts...

Some of you who have followed this may have been noticing a certain inconsistency, here. A few entries back, I complain about the Simm Master being so crazy. That the New Series Master really shouldn't keep moving in that direction. But Missy is quite openly mad, too. Shouldn't I be just as bothered by this?

Yes, I should. But, somehow, I'm not. I think it's how Michelle Gomez plays the role that gets me to be okay with it. Simm seems to go too OTT with it whereas Gomez is more controlled and measured. She just gets it to work even though I really would like the character to go in a different direction. Moff's writing probably has something to do with it, too. A lot of her dialogue seems to indicate that she's quite aware that she's out of her head. And, somehow, that keeps the camp that Simm over-indulged in down to a bare minimum.

Michelle Gomez has announced that she intends to leave when Capaldi leaves (or, at the very best, she'll come back to do a regeneration scene). I'm saddened, of course. The only thing that would make her cooler is if she did an Anthony Ainley and played against several Doctors. But, like his/her greatest adversary, changes must happen from time-to-time. We will get a new Master and/or Missy soon. I don't envy the replacement. They have big shoes to fill.

And thus concludes our annual end-of-the-year countdown. Enjoy what's left of 2017, folks. I'll see you again in the New Year with new subjects to be pedantic about...

The other posts in the series: 

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

Didn't get enough of the Master? Here's a whole special series I wrote about him a while back: 

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Appendix A:

Monday, 11 December 2017



"What?!!" you may be saying to yourself, right now, "Is he really trying to say he liked the Corpse Master better than Roger Delgado?!!"

There is something delightful about the unabashed earnestness of the Corpse Master. Particularly since he follows Delgado. While Delgado waltzed about acting charming most of the time and only hinted at being an evil sadist, Corpse Master does the exact opposite. He makes no pretenses. You need only glance at him to see he's rotten to the core. The contrast between him and the previous incarnation we've seen makes clear the point of desperation that he's reached. He's truly at his bottom.

Because he's so desperate, he is more treacherous and ruthless than he's ever been (and ever will be, for that matter). His manipulation of Gallifreyan politics and complete meglamania as he seizes control of the Eye of Harmony just to extend his lifespan are great spectacles to behold. For once, the Master really does seem effective. The Doctor beats him out of luck more than anything (if that service shaft hadn't been there - he would've been done for!).

Yes, there is one big problem with his first appearance. The fright mask does get in the way of things a bit. But, really, Peter Pratt acts his socks off so much that I don't think it's much of a problem. And I really do love the Master in this story. He is so consumed with hatred that we really do buy into what the Doctor says when he claims him to be "the quintessence of evil". His appearance and attitude are downright Satanic. I would have been more-than-happy to see this Master several more times. It's certainly implied at the end of Deadly Assassin that we will.

Unfortunately, he only returns one more time. Confusingly enough, he's played by a different actor. Fortunately, Geoffrey Beevers does an equally effective performance.

While there are slight changes in the interpretation - this is definitely the same Master. His M.O. remains constant. Once more, he's playing a Long Game in which he's taking advantage of delicate political situations. And it's all being done to get close to an enormous source of power that will enable him to artificially extend his lifespan. This is, perhaps, the one advantage to only two appearances of this incarnation. The story is, more or less, the same on both occasions. But, because it's not five Delgados in a row, we can actually enjoy the consistency.

Beevers goes for a slightly subtler performance because he doesn't have to shout through a mask. But he is still just as chilling and genuinely unsettling as his predecessor. Sadly, we don't see him properly revealed as the Master until Keeper of Traken is nearly over. But that voice! It gives such presence to an art-deco statue with glowing eyes! Melkur is actually a pretty good villain even before we find out the truth of him. The fact that it was actually the Master all along makes the whole thing that much more awesome!

Those final few moments between the Beevers Master and Doctor Four are very brief but still gripping. Both actors seem to do so much with so little. Both seem to really understand the history between the two characters and play it up to its fullest. Beevers' escape in a nearby grandfather clock is great fun (only when writing about Doctor Who, can you use terms like "escape in a nearby grandfather clock"!). Watching him take over Tremas' body at four minutes to midnight is the most fantastic of codas.

I love this Master. I wish he had been explored more on television. I understand that Big Finish has done a lot more to develop him - but I am a purist about these things. I like to see legitimate screentime rather than audio plays and suchlike. Both versions of the Corpse Master were utter delights to watch. A great incarnation that should have gotten more attention than it did.

Previous installments: 

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

How is it possible for this incarnation of the Master to be played by two different actors? I explore this idea a bit here:

Friday, 8 December 2017


We're nearing the top of the list. Revealing this Master will, of course, give away who made it to Number One. I hope you will enjoy both entries. Even when you've worked things out. 


For years, Anthony Ainley lived in the shadow of Roger Delgado. Not only did a lot of fans claim to like Delgado better, but many laid heavy criticism at Ainley's doorstep. The term "pantomime" was frequently used when describing his performance (but then, people were saying that all over the place about the JNT era. Most of them, I suspect, didn't even know what the term actually meant!). Apparently, not only was Ainley's acting terrible - but all of his stories were utter drivel. For so long, his Master was not looked upon very favorably. Some people still seem to heavily dislike him to this day.

But most of fandom came to terms with the fact that 80s Who was viewed ultra-critically and some serious re-evaluation was required. It helped, of course, that New Who fans were going back to watch the old stuff and saying: "Why are you saying this is so bad?!". Established Fan Wisdom had to get chucked out the window and those curmudgeonly Old Who Fans started becoming more objective about the stuff they had crapped on for years. As they changed their views, they were forced to admit that Ainley was actually a pretty good Master.

I, of course, am willing to sound pretentious enough to claim that I knew this all along. I have always loved Ainley's Master. Even back when it was popular to claim he was awful.

I will be the first to admit, part of this is based purely on nostalgia. Ainley was my first Master. My initial encounter with the character was in Castrovalva. I had been watching Doctor Who in a somewhat random fashion at the time (to better understand my early days viewing habits, check out my Second Anniversary Specail: Up until that story, I had no idea the Doctor even had an arch rival. I certainly thought it was cool that there was someone else in his reality that lived a similar lifestyle but sought to rule the Universe rather than just enjoy it. I even liked that he looked like a traditional melodrama villain with his dark clothes and goatee. It helped that Castrovalva was a really strong story. Particularly that "You created us, man of evil, but we are free..."ending. If I had just waited a few weeks and had started watching the show more consistently during Time Flight, I might have very different feelings about this incarnation.

As with any other incarnation I've discussed, there are shortcomings. Time Flight is certainly one of them. Even though I have admitted that it is a bit of guilty pleasure (another link so soon?! Geez! Slow down, Rob:, the story still has a lot of problems. One of the major ones being that Ainley does seem to twirl his mustache a bit too hard in this one. He's going just a little too OTT, in places and the pantomime accusations are valid, for once. Any of his other stories, I actually think he does a great job of "walking the line" between relishing his villainy but not going too far with it. But, here, it's hard to take him seriously. In Ainley's defense, he seems to learn his lesson from this misfire and reigns himself in accordingly, afterwards. Time Flight, however, is definitely his low point.

My other major problem with this Master is one based more on writing than performance. I've griped about this in several other entries so I won't dwell on it long. But I do hate how no effort was made to explain how the Master was escaping from his various horrid fates at the end of each of his stories (bar The Five Doctors). I actually loved that he was being trapped in these horrible situations. It was a great way to leave off with him. But, when I started seeing that we were never going to be told how he was getting out of them, it really marred my enjoyment of this incarnation.

Aside from that, I actually have a lot of praise for how this Master was written. Finally! We're getting a legitimate variety of plots. Yes, we still have stories like Logopolis or The King's Demons where he's still meddling with things he can't control in order to take over the Universe. That's always going to be the Master and we need stories like that from time-to-time. But we also get stories like Castrovalva or Mark of the Rani where he's trying to lay a big trap for his mortal enemy. Or stories like Time Flight, Planet of Fire and Survival where he's done something to get himself in trouble and he's just trying to get out of it. Or even the notorious "Master playing second fiddle" stories. Few fans seem to realize it, but the first story like this was The Five Doctors (Borusa was, technically, the main villain in that story). And then, of course, there's Mark of the Rani and Ultimate Foe. A lot of people actually complained about stories like these - but I loved them. I thought it was great watching the Master be more of a background character who was just wandering about causing trouble while the main villain had to deal with both him and the Doctor. It actually gave the character more of a chance to just be sinister. Particularly in Mark of the Rani - where he seems to spend the better part of the plot just sort of lurking in the shadows and being malevolent.  It was great how the Master would even be helpful to the Doctor in these sorts of stories because it suited his purposes to do so. When the Master is the main baddie, it's far trickier to contrive these sort of temporary alliances. But they happen all over the place when he's not the main antagonist. No, in my book, letting the Master be a subsidiary villain from time-to-time is the best thing you can do for the character. When Delgado's Master formed alliances with other monsters, he was still the central threat. Ainley really was the first Master to take a back seat in an adventure. I think it really worked well.

One must also admire Ainley's dedication to the role. Most Masters play to only one incarnation of the Doctor and move on when he does. But Ainley played alongside the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors. He even met the first three incarnations during The Five Doctors. Really, if you want to get technical, he's the Master who has fought the Doctor the most. That, to me, adds more street cred to his incarnation.

Having the same Master stay on for so long was a nice consistency that allowed us to really see some interesting dynamics with the various Doctors. Ainley's interpretation of the role didn't change much, but how he responded to each incarnation of the Doctor changed greatly. This always made for fun viewing. It was something I looked forward to in the 80s when each new actor took on the role of the Doctor. I couldn't wait to see how he would face off against the Master. The Master always staying the same during this period made their confrontations more interesting for me. How the Master responded to the new man in front of him revealed a lot about that new man's character.

And then, of course, there's the disguises. No Master seemed to love them more than the Ainley Master. Sometimes, he took things too far. Disguising himself as Kalid for no readily apparent reason in Time Flight was certainly quite silly. But, most of the time, the Master's disguises were awesome. Did anyone see through the Portreeve in Castrovalva? I doubt it! In fact, we all thought Shardovan was the Master in disguise. Or how about the fact that he really doesn't wear all that much of a disguise in The King's Demons and still fools us? Which actually says a lot about Ainley's skills as an actor. He really can imbue different characters most effectively. Look at the fact that he, actually, plays another character entirely before we even encounter him as the Master. A character who is, very much, the anti-thesis of the Master. A warm gentle father who has the misfortune of being named Tremas. - an anagram of the villain he is to become. But Ainley really is Tremas until his moment as the Master arrives. He sells both roles very convincingly. Which makes those "pantomime performance" accusations seem all the more ludicrous. The guy has definite chops.

I'm very happy it's Ainley's Master in The Five Doctors. It's a benchmark story that we will look back upon for years to come (we already have, in fact). It pleases me that, as we look back on it, we'll see this version of the Master. The Five Doctors was a celebration of all that's wonderful in Doctor Who.

And Ainley's Master was exactly that.

Links to the rest of the List: 

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Saturday, 2 December 2017


Movin' right along. The ranking of this particular incarnation will, no doubt, cause some controversy. Many say he's the best. Whereas I just think he's okay. 


He is, without a doubt, the definitive Master. We appreciate Delgado in much the same way that we respect Hartnell. Both create that fundamental core that all other actors to play the part must base their own interpretation upon. Just like Hartnell, we still end up seeing some very wild variations on those initial foundations. But props must still be given to Delgado for bringing the character to life. He did such a good job that the Master is still kicking around so many years later.

I will even admit that it would be nice for the next performer to take on the role to bring back some of the Delgado Master's more prominent attributes. I particularly love how suave this incarnation is. And we don't see that level of charm in any other version of him. It would be nice to see a Master who seems more composed. I loved the fact that the insanity is really only hinted at in this particular interpretation. We know the Delgado Master is a vicious sadist - but we only see it being displayed during certain extremes. Otherwise, his calmness is greatly unsettling. And there is much to be relished about that style of villainy. Delgado's Master definitely shows a lot of class.

So if he's so great - why am I only giving him a mid-ranking status? Why aren't I making him the best Master there ever was like most fans do? Well, that's the crux of it, right there - isn't it? If you've been following my blog for more than a few entries you very quickly get the impression that I don't get along well with Popular Fan Consensus. It's not some knee-jerk reaction that automatically causes me to dislike what other people like. There are plenty of things that are popular in Doctor Who that I greatly adore, too. But the stuff that fandom harps on about endlessly gets met with higher expectations when I examine them. Because I take this attitude, I do find certain things are actually a bit over-rated. Tom Baker, to me, is not the greatest Doctor, ever. Even though most seem to think so. And the same applies to the Delgado Master. I just don't think he's as awesome as most people think he is. I don't think he's awful, either. But I'm not as impressed as most of fandom is.

It's not just my oppositional attitude at play, here. Giving the Delgado Master five stories in a row when he was first introduced also did a lot of damage to my appreciation of him. So many appearances back-to-back very quickly revealed the limitations of the character. The Master, in this incarnation, always seems to be meddling with things that he thinks he can control (be it Autons, mind parasites, Doomsday Weapons or Azal the Daemon). The Doctor is always warning him that these things that he thinks he can control will come back and bite him in the ass. The Master scoffs him and presses on. The thing he thinks he can control will then turn around and bite him in the ass. The Master, in defeat, shakes his fist at the Doctor but lives to fight another day.

This is the formula for almost every Master story Delgado stars in (Claws of Axos and Frontier In Space are the two notable exceptions) and it gets the whole thing to feel just a bit tedious. That tedium is felt more poignantly when it's experienced over and over throughout an entire season. This many appearances at once also shows the Master getting defeated a whole bunch of times in a row. Being beaten so much reduces the credibility of the character considerably. By the end of Season Eight, he's not a threat I'm taking all that seriously.

Those are my two biggest issues with this incarnation of the Master. I have a few minor quibbles on top of that - but I won't bother to go into them, here.

Rather, I'll celebrate this Master a bit more. There is definitely that same sort of excitement that I get watching him as I do when I enjoy old Hartnell episodes. The character is in its infant stage and it's great watching various trademarks develop. We see, for the first time, his ability to hypnotize and his great love for disguise. We even get to witness a bit of the tissue compression eliminator at work (which gets a way better explanation in the novelization of Terror of the Autons!). It's all right there for us to enjoy with the knowledge that these traits will continue throughout many incarnations to come. It's a lot of fun.

It's this version of the Master that is also responsible for some of the most memorable moments in the show's history. I'll always remember that gorgeous scene where the Keller Machine shows the Master his greatest fear and it's a giant-sized image of the Doctor looming over him and laughing at him. Or the Master standing triumphantly at the edge of a ridge on the planet of the Ogrons and the Daleks suddenly trundle in behind him. I even love it when the Master keeps grumbling over how antiquated the Doctor's TARDIS is during Claws of Axos.

I could never get into the duel sequence in The Sea Devils, though. As fun of a fight as it is, I just can't look past the fact that a maximum security prison would leave a few swords conveniently lying around like that. Too big of a stretch for me!

The countdown will continue shortly...

Part One:

Part Two:

Sunday, 26 November 2017


And so, we move on to Part 2... 


Russell T. Davies took on the very daunting challenge of re-introducing several key monsters/villains from the Classic Series into the New. He did so with varying levels of success. The Daleks, for instance, were brought back in Series One with great style and aplomb. Dalek and Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways are, without a doubt, some of the best stories to ever feature the metal meanies. On the other end of the spectrum - we have the return of the Sontarans in Series Four. Easily, the all-time worst story to feature the potato heads. Even turning a Sontaran into comic relief like Moffat has done with Strax is less painful to watch than Sontaran Strategem/Poison Sky (truth be told, I find Strax very entertaining - but it would be nice to see the Sontarans as a genuine threat, again).

Somewhere in the middle of these two polarities sits the return of the Master.

I think the biggest mistake was to make John Simm's Master so gosh-darn nutty. I get that RTD was trying to show the level of madness that the drumbeat in his head was driving him (although, it still sits very oddly with me that he has had this problem all his lives but no other incarnation from Classic Who mentions it), but I really think it would've been better to return the Master to a more calm and composed interpretation. In the very brief time that Jacobi's Master is actually the Master - we get to see that. And I felt it worked very well. But to transform the Master into a version of himself that would even cause the Ainley Master to say: "Shit dude, you have issues!" was not the best of choices.

When the Master was wrestling with trying to survive past his final incarnation, making him become crazier and crazier worked well. But he's been resurrected and seems to have a whole new cycle of regenerations. So, maybe, it's time to take the character in a different direction. I even get that Simm had just come off of Life On Mars and probably wanted to play a role that very flatly contradicted the somewhat stoic lead from that series in order to show off his range. But much of the Master that we see in Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords doesn't really work for me. Both in terms of how he's written and how he's portrayed. I just really felt like this wasn't the best way to take the character.

Things got even worse for me, of course, when Parts 1 and 2 of The End of Time come along. I'm not particularly fond of the story, in general. And one of the things that turns me off to it so much is the way the Master is made even more insane. Again, I get the reasons for making him that way. His resurrection is botched and it's causing him to rage out of control. But it still doesn't work for me. Him going skullface, flying through the air and shooting energy bolts from his hands makes matters even worse. None of this feels very much like the Master.

Are there any redeeming qualities to Simm's Master in either of these stories? Of course! His exits from both of these tales are very well-crafted. Proclaiming: "I win!" as he refuses to regenerate from his gunshot wound in Last of the Time Lords was quite brilliant. Counting off the drumbeats in his head as he lays in to Rassilon with energy bolts was, downright, awesome. It's just a pity that there aren't a whole lot of other moments like these in any of Simm's earlier scenes.

If Simm had lived up to his promise to never return to the show after Tennant left, then he would probably have had the lowest ranking on this list (yup, I actually liked Roberts' Master better, at this point). But, thankfully, we get one more dose of him at the end of Series Ten - and the character really goes off on a high note because of this.

There's still hints of zaniness to him. It's particularly odd, for instance, that he wants so badly to make out with himself. Elements like this still needed to be kept in or the character would've felt too inconsistent. But this is certainly a more mellowed version of the Simm Master and this works far better for me. The fact that Simm is "kicking it old school" by letting a goatee grow in almost signposts that he's a very different Master, these days. One is almost led to believe that the Time Lords did more than just fix the problems he was having with his resurrection. That, perhaps, some minor adjustments were also made to his psyche. More than likely, the drumbeat was finally removed from his consciousness and this has made him more stable.

Whatever the case, I greatly enjoy the Simm Master in this story. There's still just enough madness to him that we can believe it's the same personae but he also reigns it in to the point where it's not annoying me. He and Gomez play off each other brilliantly, too. They're almost not necessary to the whole plot of World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls. But they're just so much fun to watch that we don't really care.

Once again, the Simm Master gets the most brilliant of exit scenes, too. Shooting himself in the back because he refuses to accept Missy's life decisions is the most fitting of final gestures to this wildly unstable incarnation.

It's just unfortunate that two-thirds of his era is clouded by what I feel are poor choices.

And that's Part Two. Did you miss part One? 

Here it is:

Monday, 20 November 2017


Well, we've reached the end of another year and it's time to observe a tradition. For the next month or so, I will be listing a preference of some sort that I have for Doctor Who. In previous years, I have listed my Top Ten Favorite Who Stories and I've ranked my Doctors From Worst to Best. This year, I'm going to look at his arch rival and list his incarnations from least favorite to most. 

It was a tricky choice. I started tinkering with the idea of top ten companions. I even worked on something about favorite seasons of the show. But that multi-incarnation team-up in World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls just had me thinking too heavily about how much I've enjoyed the Master's many varied interpretations. In the end, I decided this needed to be my end-of-year list of preference. I hope it sparks as much discussion as my other lists have.  


As usual, we need to set a few stipulations. It will be most important to note that we can't number the incarnations like we have the Doctor. Mainly because we're really not sure of that numbering. For the most part, the incarnations will be indicated by the actor who has played them. Although, one or two of them will go by specific names and/or nicknames.

I would also like to note that, just like my list of Doctors last year, the writing of the character affects my appreciation as much as the portrayal. In the case of, at least, one very popular incarnation - the lack of variety in the plots of several stories that we saw him in will have a strong bearing on his ranking. You'll see what I mean when you get there.


There are certain incarnations who have just received too little screentime and, therefore, can't be accurately appraised. So they won't be included in this list. These include Gordon Tipple's Master - who we only see for the briefest of instances at the beginning of The 96 Telemovie before he is vaporized (in a weird bike helmet, no less!). The "Baby Master" that we first see in the flashback sequence of Sound of Drums also won't get any mention beyond this particular sentence. Finally, I also won't be ranking Derek Jacobi, anywhere. Yes, he is in an entire episode. But, most of the time, he's Professor Yana. He only casts off his Chameleon Arch identity and displays his true self for a matter of minutes before he changes to John Simm. Those are some gloriously evil minutes, don't get me wrong. But it's still not enough time to allow him a proper space in this list.

Okay, now that we've eliminated certain portrayals. Let's get into it. We'll start with my least favorite Master. More than likely, he's at the bottom of just-about everyone's list, too.


By no means do I wish to disrespect what Eric Roberts did with the role (although, many fans do!). In my opinion, he's actually a pretty solid actor. I may even prefer him over his sister. He's particularly good at playing villains. The whole Expendables movie franchise owes, at least, part of its success to the fact that he was the baddie in the very first installation and did an excellent job in the role.

But one of the biggest problems The 96 Telemovie has is that the Master is only so well-written. And we are accustomed to seeing the character played by someone British. An American in the part is, perhaps, harder to accept than a female Doctor (which, when you think about it, is really strange!). Inevitably, these obstacles really get in the way of being able to enjoy what Roberts did with his extremely brief stint.

Having said all that, I do think he does quite well with what he's been served. Roberts definitely has a sense of presence and really makes the character chilling. This is an extension of the descent into madness that we've been watching the character take over the last few incarnations. I don't know if Roberts actually watched previous portrayals in order to accomplish this - but he's definitely made the Master that bit more mad as he seeks to stay alive even though he's reached the end of his regeneration cycle. I would even go so far to say that he does a fantastic job with that aspect of the character. The Master is so close to a final end that he's cast off almost all shreds of sanity and is now completely out of control.

In all honesty, I pin very little on Roberts for the lack of success that this incarnation has. The bigger problems lie in the writing. Even then, I would not say that the character was poorly-crafted. It's more that we needed a better way for these two great rivals to battle each other. The Master has tried to steal the Doctor's lives before - but this is a very strangely-contrived way of going about it. Particularly when you're trying to re-introduce a show to a new audience. We needed a simpler telling of the tale. But a strange protoplasmic villain trying to get his nemesis to stare into the heart of a slightly mystical artifact in order to remove his soul and take over his body was not the best way to present this most iconic of characters. And that has a strong bearing on how we appreciate this version of the Master. That, and the simple fact that it is hard to accept an American in the role (again, very strange that this affects me so much!)

Having said all that, the Eric Roberts Master very nearly didn't make the bottom of this list. Up until very recently, there was an incarnation of the Master that I appreciated less than Roberts.

Many fans malign the Eric Roberts Master way more than I do and also have him at the bottom of their list. But, to be truthful, I still think he's pretty good. I do feel Roberts gives us an enjoyable interpretation of the role. He's just not given the best of material to work with.

He is also, without a doubt, the Master who has the most fun with the outfits he puts on!

Okay, that's Part One. We'll keep moving along and sending out new posts every few days as we finish off the year. Some of my other rankings may surprise some of you. 

If you want to read more about the Master - I did a serious exploration of his timeline a short while back. Here are all the posts on it: 

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Appendix 1:

Monday, 13 November 2017


We're all dying for that Christmas Special, aren't we? I know I am. Not because we have to say goodbye to Capaldi's Doctor. I'm not looking forward to that, at all! I'm dieing to see how that tease at the end of The Doctor Falls is going to pan out. I can't wait to see what sort of adventure the Twelfth and Original (well, sort of, Original) Doctor will have together.  

Multi-incarnation stories will, more than likely, always be some of my favorite stories. Often, the plots to some of these adventures are fairly threadbare or even somewhat bad. But there is just something about the sheer entertainment value of them that makes me adore them. In all honesty, every third Doctor Who story could involve multiple incarnations and I'd probably be okay with that.

In anticipation of Twice Upon A Time, I've been watching all the multi-incarnation stories that have been done over the years (including the all-too-brief Time Crash - one of the few mini-sodes that I consider canon). I've made a few observations about them that I thought I would share....


Before we can get into any kind of analysis, we should probably be certain we're all on the same page regarding what constitutes my definition of a multi-incarnation story. It's a tale involving two or more distinct incarnations actually interacting with each other.

We should be mindful of the exact wording of that definition. For instance: these need to be, properly, separate incarnations. Beings like Cho-Je from Planet of Spiders or the Watcher from Logopolis don't qualify. We know Cho-Je was a projection of some sort rather than the next incarnation crossing over his own timestream. We don't know what the Watcher is - but he was definitely not an incarnation of his own. He merges with the Doctor at the end of the story as he regenerates. Had he been a distinct incarnation, he would have watched the regeneration happen without joining into it. Because he would simply have been from the future witnessing the event.

The multiple incarnations need to interact with each other, too. This disqualifies a story like Deep Breath - where the Eleventh Doctor calls Clara at the end. Yes, we see two Doctors at once. But they aren't talking to each other. Name of the Doctor is disqualified for similar reasons. Clara travels down the Doctor's timeline and meets him in various versions - but they never meet each other.

With those limitations in mind, the following stories qualify as multi-incarnation adventures:

The Three Doctors
The Five Doctors
The Two Doctors
Time Crash
Day of the Doctor
World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls (it's multi-incarnational because Twelve and One meet at the end but there are also two versions of the Master)


The strangest thing that happens when multiple incarnations of the Doctor come together is, of course, all the bickering. Even the Doctor, himself, has remarked how weird it is. In truth, making the Doctor combative with himself was something they wrote into the script of the very first anniversary special and the fans responded well to it. So they decided to keep playing that gag in future scripts of this nature. 

But, just for fun, let's take it a little more seriously. Why does the Doctor fight with himself as much as he does during stories like this? Some might theorize that it's an ego issue. The only thing a genius in the room can't stand is another genius in the room. And, even though that genius is - technically - the same person, the Doctor despises being overshadowed. This does make sense and I do believe this is part of what causes the in-fights. But I also like to think it's a far more complicated situation than that. One that may even make the Doctor seem more humble.

While he is far from being a perfectionist (in most of his incarnations, he lacks the patience and attention to detail that such a neurosis requires) the Doctor is still very progressive in his philosophy of life. He is always trying to evolve and grow. To be a better person than he was the day before. It is a long-standing character trait that we have seen to a lesser or greater extent in every version of the role.

So when he runs into an earlier incarnation, he is reminded of the flaws he still had back then. It's difficult for him to see a rougher version of himself and he tends to become combative with the earlier incarnation. His desire to get a previous self to behave a bit more maturely come across as angry recriminations.

The earlier incarnation, of course, is interpreting this as a sort of high-handedness or arrogance and can't help but get defensive. Particularly since the later incarnation is coming across as a bit of an authority figure in the way he tries to discipline him. And the Doctor has never dealt well with authority figures. He's probably even a bit upset to see that he seems to be turning into something that he hates. So he can't help but rebel.

This is, essentially,what we see playing out in The Three Doctors between Two and Three. But similar models are at play in other multi-incarnation adventures. Ten and Eleven re-create this quite closely in Day of the Doctor. Eleven particularly enjoys picking on himself for being such a womanizer in his previous life. It's not something he liked and wants to admonish himself for it now that he's back to not being so smooth with the ladies. We see the First, Second and Third Doctor all get back into nitpicking each other when they meet at Rassilon's Tomb during The Five Doctors. Two and Six take multi-incarnation bantering to its ultimate height during The Two Doctors. They just don't seem to get along at all in that story.

All of this arguing seems to derive from a similar motive. The Doctor doesn't, necessarily, hate who he once was. But he's not entirely happy with him, either.

The only variance to this dynamic that we've seen so far is the way in which the War Doctor deals with his future selves. He actually feels that he's been regressing as he gets older. He tends to berate his future selves for acting so childish.  But it does come from a very similar motive to other instances like this. The Doctor is always trying to grow. And when he's reminded of how immature he can be - he doesn't deal well with it.


There are, of course, instances where we don't see a whole lot of that combativeness between certain incarnations. The First and Fifth Doctor get along quite well in The Five Doctors. They have a brief argument regarding what strategy to take in The Death Zone that reaches a fairly swift conclusion. Otherwise, they're quite nice to each other. The First Doctor even defends Five when Two and Three start being critical of him during their farewells. "It's re-assuring to see my future is in safe hands." he proclaims before departing. Hardly the farewell Six and Two give each other!

This happens in a similar fashion during Time Crash. Ten is utterly delighted to see the fifth version of himself when he appears from nowhere. Five is a bit frustrated with his future self. But only because he believes him to be an annoying fan. Once he understands who the babbling fool in front of him really is, they start getting along.

Both of these instances involve the Fifth Doctor. Who is definitely one of the gentler more agreeable of incarnations. So that might be one factor that contributes to a smoother encounter.

But I also think it might have something to do with how far apart the incarnations are from each other. Bantering usually only happens with incarnations that are closer together. A separation of three or more incarnations tends to make things less volatile.

Again, if we use this Doctor not being happy with himself model, it makes a sort of sense. A person who is heavily into personal growth would have more trouble seeing their more recent past. If I ran into a version of Rob Tymec from only two or three years ago - I'd probably be frustrated to see that I was a much more immature person in my recent past than I had remembered myself to be. But if I met me when I was only ten years old - I would be far more detached and understanding. I was just a kid back then. I'm allowed to be childish at that age. So I probably won't be so harsh with me. Whereas I really wouldn't like to meet me from only a few years back. I'm pretty sure I'd just want to tell myself off for still being such a twit when I should've grown up, by now.

Perhaps it works in a similar way with the Doctor. To go back only an incarnation or two is like a human seeing himself from only two to five years ago. Depending on the human's personality - he's probably not going to like what he sees. But a Time Lord going back three or more incarnations is like a human encountering himself from twenty or so years ago. He's just too far-removed from who he once was and it's not so tough on him, anymore, to see himself behaving so poorly. Essentially, t's easier to forgive a considerably younger version of yourself. With the Doctor, of course, it takes a bigger set of years for him to feel this way. His longevity gives him a greater breadth of vision. So even if there might be a century or two between incarnations that are back-to-back - that's not long enough for him to not be awkward about what he's seeing. But there's probably closer to four centuries between One and Five. So it's easier for them to get along. An even greater number of years exist between Five and Ten.* So it's easy for the Tenth Doctor to just sit back and wax nostalgia with his fifth self. It's all ancient history so it doesn't really bother him.

* it's hard to determine an exact number of years between Five and Ten without a Doctor's Age debate developing. To understand this dilemma better, go to these posts:


This theory works well with most instances.  But there is one tale where the idea falls apart. The Two Doctors stars Two and Six. They're a good three incarnations apart. That should put a good span of years between them. And yet, they argue like cats and dogs throughout their entire time together.

Part of the reason this happens is that we are looking at Two at the latest period in his life (he's actually in Season 6b - probably somewhere near its end). Which means he's had, at least, two other multi-incarnation adventures before him. Given that he's doing regular missions for the Time Lords, they may want him to have all his wits about him and have allowed him to recall anything that may have been blotted out in his past. So he may actually even remember both incidents. When he meets Six, he recalls how fun it was to take the piss out of himself in previous adventures and decides to be intentionally rude during this latest encounter with a future self.

At the same time, Six is probably the Doctor at his most arrogant (part of the reason why he's my fave). So, even though there's a healthy amount of years between him and Two, he's not going to be happy with who he once was. This latest version of him, as far as he's concerned, is the only one that's good. So he can't help but pick on an inferior model. 


Regardless of all the bantering, there does come a point where the incarnations will start getting along with each other. Once more, The Three Doctors sets this template. While imprisoned in a doorless cell in the Singularity Point during Part Three, Jo Grant gets Doctors Two and Three to finally get along with each other. They even apologize for their rude behavior and go about concentrating on summoning a door so that they may escape. For the rest of the story, they cooperate fairly well.

Such trends continue in most adventures of this nature. The farewell scene during The Five Doctors takes on a more cozy atmosphere after One talks about his sense of re-assurance. Five and Ten also have a very kind farewell in Time Crash. And there is much kinship going as we reach the end of Day of the Doctor. The War Doctor starts developing some real respect for the men he will become. Ten and Eleven then break into the Time War to help the War Doctor make the most difficult decision of his lives. Then, finally, there is a heartfelt farewell in the Undergallery.

Once more, The Two Doctors is the exception to the rule. At best, the Second Doctor pays Sixie the slightest of compliments for his trick with the briode nebulizer. Otherwise, it's pretty much banter all the way between these two.

But, again, if we try to look at this from a psychological standpoint: these "warm fuzzy moments" could represent something deeper. Could this be a sense of closure for the Doctor? By finally becoming friendly with past incarnations, is this him coming to terms with his own past? Yes, he's happy he's not the man he was, but he is still proud of him. No matter what era he hails from, he was a man who was trying his best to do the right thing. In the end, the Doctor can be satisfied with that. And he shows his approval by dropping the arguments and being kind to himself. Frequently, in doing that, he starts operating far more efficiently. He comes up with plans for defeating Omega or even figures out a way of saving Gallifrey in the Time Wars. Only when he's at peace with the man he was is he able to find victory.


Admittedly, I've been ignoring an Elephant in the Room. So far, I've only been discussing the psychology behind multi-incarnational stories as they relate to the Doctor. Part of what prompted me to write on the subject was the tremendously enjoyable multi-incarnation tale that just happened with his arch rival. Why have I been staying away from it?

I felt that, only after a full examination of the Doctor's multi-incarnation adventures, could we properly look at what happens with the Master and Missy. When these two unite, they clearly demonstrate just how much of a polar opposite they are to the Doctor.

Psychopath that he is, the Master is completely in love with himself. We see little or no banter between these two incarnations. In fact, they seem to want to get it on with each other. You don't get much more narcissistic than that!

True to form, though, this self-adoration spirals out of control. Rather than having a warm moment with themselves' like the Doctor does at the end of most of his multi-incarnational exploits, it goes in a complete different direction. The Master becomes so upset with himself/herself that the morphic snake ends up eating its own tail. Both attempt to kill each other.

Because the Master/Missy lack that little bit of humbleness - that ability to be just a bit unhappy with who he/she was - it leads to self-destruction. Truthfully, the conclusion of World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls rounds out the psychological model I'm trying to create quite nicely. The Doctor views his own past in a healthy manner and deals with it properly. Which gives him a happy and fulfilling life. The Master, on the other hand, deals with his past in the most sickly of manners and this creates horrific consequences for him.

Right then, that's all of my over-analytical observations expressed on this matter. The big question is: will Twice Upon A Time adhere to all these ideas? By my estimation, for instance, there's a big enough gap between One and Twelve that there shouldn't be much actual bantering going on. Because of the amount of time between them, they should actually get along quite nicely. 

Will we see this and other patterns like it that I have described in this entry? 

Can't wait to find out....


Once more, I was rambling on far too much before getting to my real point. I thought I should take some time analyzing some trends in the story structure of multi-incarnation adventures before discussing the psychology of it all. But it just seemed to get in the way of things so I've cut and pasted it down here as an appendix. If you think such observations might interest you, read on: 


Most of your multi-incarnation stories are done to a certain formula. Here are a few recurring elements you will see in most or all of them:


Occasionally, we get a story like The Two Doctors where incarnations just happen to cross paths as they're making their own separate journeys in the TARDIS. But, more times than others, things play out differently. Usually, an external force pulls one or more incarnation from their proper timelines and plops them down in the timestream of the most current incarnation. The Five Doctors exemplifies this best. Borussa uses an old Time Scoop to accomplish this. So I like to call these incidents "scoop-up sequences".

Another Lord President does something similar in The Three Doctors. He orders a technician to scoop up Doctors One and Two and drops them into Three's timeline. The Moment puts a little twist on the device. She re-unites three incarnations by scooping up Eleven and the War Doctor and placing them in Ten's era (the only example of a scoop from the future and the past). Even Time Crash feels more like a scoop. Yes, the story takes place entirely in the TARDIS but it's a technical fault that brings Ten and Five together. They don't just happen to travel in their respective TARDIS to the same point in Time and Space. Five is transported to the future because of a technical problem.

For the most part, multi-incarnation encounters are engineered in some way rather than just happening naturally through TARDIS travel.

Following threads:

Of the stories I've listed, only two stories transpire where we watch the adventure from the perspective of just one incarnation's timeline. Those two stories are The Three Doctors and Time Crash. In Time Crash, the Fifth Doctor appears in Ten's timeline for a bit. They interact for a while and then Five fades away, again. We don't actually see where Five came from, though. Or where he returns to, for that matter. It's all about witnessing things from the context of Ten's timestream. The Three Doctors flows in a very similar fashion. We do have the briefest of Scoop-up Sequences with One and Two. But, otherwise, everything happens within the context of Three's timestream. When the adventure is over, the two previous Doctors disappear back into their own past. Again, we don't really witness where they came from or went to.

Most of the time, however, we spend considerable time watching different incarnations travelling in their own threads before they start encountering each other. The best example of this occurs in The Two Doctors. Six and Two don't finally meet til two-thirds of the story is over. But we watch both of them adventuring separately from each other for quite some time. Essentially, we are witnessing the story from two distinct perspectives until the two Doctors meet near the beginning of Part Three. This is how it works in most stories of this nature. The previous incarnations are still allowed to have backstories. Even in The Five Doctors - where previous incarnations have Scoop-up Moments early on in the plot, we still follow them on their own journeys in the Death Zone before they properly unite and start bantering in Rassilon's Tomb. Day of the Doctor works on a similar premise. We watch War, Ten and Eleven all journey separately from each other for quite some time before the Moment puts them together in one location in Time and Space.

Technical Glitches:

Getting various incarnations into the same timestream is a complicated process that seems to have side-effects. In both The Three and Five Doctors, certain incarnations become stranded in the time vortex rather than properly joining with other versions of themselves'. There can be memory issues, too. The timelines become so tangled that earlier incarnations can't retain what happened.

These technicalities really occur, of course, to make the story-telling more easy and to compensate for casting problems. But it also does make the whole idea of a Time Lord crossing their own timestream seem like something very difficult.

It does seem like if it's only two incarnations interacting that the side effects are less likely. The whole crux of Time Crash is that Ten remembers what Five experienced when they met. Six only forgets what happened to him in his second incarnation because a drug was administered to Two that affects the memory. Otherwise, he would've probably recalled everything, too. And we're pretty sure Missy lied to her previous incarnation in World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls. She actually remembered everything. However, as we get to the stories where three or more incarnations converge, these problems start to occur.  Certain incarnations get trapped in the Time Vortex and memory lapses start affecting everyone.

Okay, now I'm truly done. Thanks if you actually read this far!!!

Sunday, 22 October 2017


With Silurian History properly sorted out, I am tempted to do another Unsung Classics piece. But I continue to fear that this site will just become another one of those Doctor Who blogs that are purely about opinion. So, as much as it behooves me to not balance things out with a review of a Classic Series episode that I think hasn't been celebrated as well as it should, I'm going to - instead - discuss a few minor continuity issues and try to get them to work. 

Occasionally, I just pick a few random seasons to re-watch and enjoy them for a bit. Recently, I did that with Seasons Five to Eight. An era that many fans consider to be quite "Golden". I definitely felt that about Season Seven (one of my favorite seasons in the whole history of the show) and quite a bit of the Troughton stuff, in general. But I stopped around Season Eight because I really start disliking the formula that starts kicking in around that time. However, I did find a few continuity issues that I felt I should address and try to fix. 


The Enemy of the World tries to present a version of the near future from the vantage-point of the mid-60s. Various clues and references seem to indicate that the story is taking place sometime around 2017 (or, quite possibly, 2018 - at the latest). The predictions that they try to make regarding fashion, technology and even geo-politics are quite amusing and gives an extra entertainment value to the story now that we are actually living in that time.

The big problem, of course, is how do we justify Enemy of the World now that it is that date and things look nothing like the way they do in the story. Women are not running around in plastic dresses and security guards don't have big radio antenna sticking out of their helmets. So, what happened?

We could use the usual argument that Doctor Who takes place in a universe that is slightly different from our own and that's why things look different. However, that particular trick won't work, this time. We can assume that contemporary Earth-bound stories in Series Ten are meant to be taking place in 2017. We didn't see any plastic dresses or antenna helmets in those stories. In fact, we saw a reality that looks - pretty much - the way our reality looks (we don't have any destroyed Monk monuments - otherwise, both versions of 2017 look the same). How does Enemy of the World fit in, then?

I think we justify the existence of this story by accepting the idea that the Doctor's many visits to Earth during the late 20th Century/early 21st Century have ripple effects. That, without even meaning to, his frequent visits make tiny alterations to the timeline and change the evolution of human society during this era. Other times, of course, he even makes big alterations. He topples Harriet Jones, for instance, when she was meant to serve multiple terms as Prime Minister. These minor and major alterations take larger, more noticeable effects when he re-visits these periods later in his life.

So, when the Doctor visits 2017 in his second incarnation - this is the way reality is meant to look. But, because he keeps coming back to Earth and making minor or major alterations both intentionally and unintentionally, he changes the course of human evolution. So that when he starts hanging around 2017 in his twelfth incarnation it looks the way it does, now. His many visits between those two incarnations have altered the timeline so that things look radically different by the time he visits 2017 in Series 10.

This explanation makes the best sense to me. I would imagine that, though he's altered the timelines, certain patterns still remain. For instance, it would be awesome if we saw a story that takes place on contemporary Earth in Series 11 that mentions "The Salamander Scandal". This way, we know that Enemy of the World still happens in some sort of way. The show doesn't have to dwell on it, of course. It can be quickly mentioned in a conversation or heard in a news broadcast on a television in the background. A throwaway reference would make a tonne of us hardcores very happy. Like seeing the Macra in Gridlock!


At long last, in the first few minutes of End of the World, a popular fan theory is confirmed. The Doctor reveals to Rose that the TARDIS is able to translate all languages and make everyone understandable to everyone else (the Doctor, sort of, made a similar revelation in Masque of Mandragora but he goes into better detail, here). This is a great continuity point to finally have cleared up but it does, at the same time, present a bit of a sore point. There are moments in the Classic Series where languages don't seem to be translating properly. Quite a few of them occur in the era I was watching.

Towards the end of The War Games, we see the Resistance having a hard time speaking to a French soldier they've recently converted. This shouldn't be a problem if the TARDIS has a translation circuit. We see things like this happen a few more times after the Doctor regenerates. He has to build an actual translation device to understand the captured alien ambassadors in Ambassadors of Death. In Mind of Evil, he has to use several Asian dialects to communicate effectively with various characters. At one point, he even admits he's a bit rusty at his Hokkien. If the translation circuit were working properly, he should not feel like he's fumbling. His words should be coming out smoothly. He is obviously making an effort, here, to speak a language he hasn't used in a while. Rather than just having what he's said instantly changed into the appropriate language by the TARDIS.

The Time Lords sent the Doctor into his exile with his TARDIS - but disabled it. They also wiped some of his memory. The things they did to his vehicle and mental faculties interfered with the translation software. Particularly since the Doctor indicates that it's a sort of telepathic link that enables the whole process. Perhaps altering his memories broke the link. This gets the language issues he's having in his exile to make sense, now.

But what of the French soldier in The War Games that no one can talk to properly? This happens before the Time Lords actually get their hands on the Doctor. So how do we explain that one?

As I just said, things were done to the TARDIS to restrict its movement after the Doctor's exile was imposed. Those alterations meddled with the translation device. When you do things to a time machine - the effects can, sometimes, ripple backwards in time. So the translation circuit still goes a bit faulty even before the exile because side effects can work that way when meddling with time travel equipment. All those SIDRATs that we see in The War Games may have had an influence, too. The presence of so many other interdimensional crafts may have exacerbated the problem. So, most of the time, the translation issue only happens after the exile begins. But it can ripple back a bit, too.

There are, of course, instances outside of this particular era where the translation circuit also seems to be failing (Tegan talking to the Aboriginal in Four to Doomsday, for example). I would label them as moments where the translation device was just having some troubles that day. Perhaps - because it was disabled for so long during the exile - it plays up, now and again.


This one is a bit baffling. It's almost like throwing someone in a prison cell but then giving them the key (or throwing an Osirian in a pyramid but providing him with all the means he needs to escape it). Why would the Time Lords let the Doctor keep his TARDIS when he's meant to be exiled to Earth?!

One might say they needed something to transport him from Gallifrey to Earth and that the TARDIS was as good as anything. But we see a Time Lord arrive on Earth in Terror of the Autons without the use of any sort of capsule. He just materializes out of thin air. So a TARDIS was hardly necessary to make such a trip. It doesn't help that we see time scoops and time rings in future stories that would have done the same trick and would not have, necessarily, provided the Doctor with a means of escape. To make matters worse, he is getting pretty close to escaping his exile in The Time Monster. That TARDIS is just-about working properly as he tails the Master to Atlantis.

So are the Time Lords just not all that bright?! The Doctor has stood out from his society because he is so much more imaginative than the average Time Lord. Which would indicate that his people might be lacking in certain intellectual attributes. But, surely, they can't be this dim!

My guess would be that the Time Lords already had plans for the Doctor. That his exile would only be so firmly written in stone and that they would need him from time-to-time to undertake secret missions for them. He does exactly this in, at least, three televised stories (Colony In Space, Curse of Peladon and The Mutants) so that seems to back up the idea pretty good, right there.

If you subscribe to the idea of Season 6b, then you believe he was undertaking missions for the Time Lords before the exile was finally invoked (The Two Doctors). So the Time Lords were using the Doctor to accomplish their dirty work for them even before his exile. If something was going on in the affairs of lesser civilizations that they felt needed their intervention - the Doctor was their "go-to guy". He would keep it quiet for them, too. Particularly during Season 6b. The Doctor being given his freedom after his trial is meant to be kept a secret from most of the eyes of Gallifrey. If the Doctor doesn't accomplish these missions, the organization of Time Lords that were using him (most likely the Celestial Intervention Agency) would probably make this fact public and he'll, at last, have to serve his exile.

How, exactly, the main population of Time Lords found out about what the Doctor was up to during Season 6b - we'll never know. But, no doubt, the Time Lords that were sending him on these secret missions  knew they could still use him after he was caught and properly sentenced. Any little bit of freedom they could offer him he would take. Even if it meant he was still dealing with their messes. So giving the Doctor his TARDIS during his exile now makes perfect sense. More than likely, the CIA were able to make some sort of political deal with the Tribunal in charge of carrying out the Doctor's sentence. They insisted that the Doctor was sent to Earth in his TARDIS. The time capsule would be disabled and the Doctor's memories of his ability to pilot it would also be wiped (perhaps, along with certain other memories that might implicate the CIA in things that they didn't want to be called out on). With his TARDIS, the Doctor could still be used at any time to accomplish missions for them. This way, he could still be useful to them.

So the Doctor being sent to his exile on Earth in his TARDIS foreshadows the fact that the exile was not meant to be too strictly enforced. He was still going to be a pawn for the CIA...

A few more plot holes fixed. Hope you enjoyed my silly fan theories. 

Like the Quick Fixes? There's four others for you to enjoy, if you so desire. Here are the Links:

Quick Fix 1:

Quick Fix 2:

Quick Fix 3:

Quick Fix 4:

Sunday, 8 October 2017


After a quick break to look at an Unsung Classic, we resume our regularly-scheduled blog entry! 

During Part One, we looked at most of the Re-Awakenings that occurred during the Twentieth Century. We have just one more to examine. Then we need to speculate a bit before properly moving into the Twenty-First Century.

From a chronological standpoint, the adventures of Lady Vastra constitute the very first Re-Awakening that we've seen in the series. But if we go according to transmission order, it's Doctor Who and the Silurians, first. Which means that the initial foundations of Silurian society were established in the 1970s 7-Parter. The next transmitted story, The Sea Devils, is the next phase in their history . Both in terms of transmission and linear continuity. It also adds some interesting new dimensions to their culture.


Only a year or two after the tragedy at the Derbyshire caves, the Doctor experiences his next encounter with Homo-Reptilia. We speculated in Part One that he may have met Silurians prior to Wenley Moor but the adventure was not televised. From what we can gather, though, the species he encounters in The Sea Devils is entirely new to him. He seems to be expecting the three-eyed version that he met previously and is quite surprised by the appearance of their aquatic cousins.

While I have noted some savage qualities to the Silurians, their brutality doesn't seem to compare to what we see in the Sea Devils. In many ways, they come across more as traditional Doctor Who Monsters. Like Daleks, they just seem to be out to harm anyone who isn't the same species as they are. Only the leader of the group that Re-Awakened near the island the Master was imprisoned on will consider the Doctor's plea for peace. The rest seem dead-set on hurting humanity in any way they can.

We will see warrior classes among the Silurians, themselves, in a future story. But the viciousness of the Sea Devils in this story and Warriors of the Deep suggests to me that the aquatic species is an actual warrior race. The battle armor they wear in Warriors certainly re-enforces this idea. But even the fishnet version in this story seems to move in a very militaristic fashion. Particularly when you consider their blind obedience to the Sea Devil Leader. The Silurians had very flexible policies on how to handle authority whereas the Sea Devils follow orders without question. Which indicates we are witnessing an army at work in The Sea Devils rather than a group of civilians trying to handle a volatile situation like we did in The Silurians. Since we don't see any Sea Devils in either of their stories that don't seem to be made for fighting, I am prone to believe that their sole purpose is to engage in battle. They are bred exclusively for the purpose of war.


Before we move on to the next televised story that fits into our timeline, we have to delve into the idea of an adventure that must have happened even though we never saw it on our screens. In order to get some of the continuity to work in Warriors of the Deep, we have to believe that the Doctor dealt specifically with Silurians at some point after The Sea Devils. It may have been another incident during his exile or it could have even occurred during his fourth incarnation (it couldn't have happened during his fifth since Icthar doesn't recognize the Fifth Doctor).

During this unseen story, the Doctor encountered several things that he recognizes again during Warriors of the Deep. He gets well-acquainted with Silurian warfare since he immediately knows what their battle cruisers look like. He's also met a Myrka, at least, one time before he battles one in Sea Base Four.

He also seems to have gotten involved in Silurian politics during this particular adventure. By Warriors, he is aware of the existence of the Silurian Triad. He appears to have had some interaction with one of its members. A Silurian named Icthar. More than likely, he met all of them, though. Apparently, Tragedy struck the Triad since the Fifth Doctor believes them to be dead.

Actual dialogue in Warriors of the Deep refers to two previous experiences that the Silurians had with humans. This would lead one to believe they are referring to Doctor Who and the Silurians and The Sea Devils. But since neither of those stories deal with Myrkas, battle cruisers or the Triad - we have to believe that an unseen story took place and that this branch of Silurians are unaware of the Re-Awakening of Sea Devils that took place during the Doctor's exile. So when they talk about these two earlier incidents, they are talking about The Silurians and this unseen adventure.

It's entirely possible that they never heard about the business at Wenley Moor Power Station, either. There may have actually been two untelevised adventures involving the Silurian Triad. And that these are the two past incidents that they refer to throughout Warriors of the Deep.

Fans will, sometimes, point out that the Missing Adventure novel: The Scales of Injustice does an excellent job of filling out this continuity issue. But, if we go back to the "rules" I've laid down in my very second entry, ( we'll see that I don't consider the novelizations to be canon. Instead, we can just use our imaginations to envision what exactly happened in the unseen story(ies). As long as those visions involve battle cruisers, Myrkas and Icthar with his Triad getting killed - then they work!


We can't say, for sure, whether the unseen adventure(s) took place in the 20th or 21st century. We only know it took place prior to 2084. I like to think late 20th Century, myself.

Which means that, according to dates given, the next televised adventure is Hungry Earth/Cold Blood. As the Doctor emerges from the TARDIS with the Ponds, he informs them that it is 2020. In my opinion, this is our first Re-Awakening that happens in the 21st Century.

We are dealing, once more, with Two-Eyed Silurians. We also see hints of savagery, again. When Malohkeh and Restac clash - there is a fair amount of physical posturing. Restac does, eventually, murder Malohkeh. But it is done in secret. So we don't know if there would have been legal consequences to her actions had they become public. Like the usurping of the Old Silurian in Derbyshire, this could all be acceptable behavior in Homo Reptilian culture. It really does seem like the Doctor's claim that they are a peace-loving race might be something of an exaggeration!

This, of course, is the first time we see a special defense that this branch of Silurians possess. Aside from blasters that look very similar to the ones the Sea Devils use, their tongues can also be used as a weapon. They can extend to great lengths and possess a limited quantity of lethal venom. The tongue can be used as a sort of long-range stinger than can actually kill an enemy. They can only manage one successful attack per day, however. It takes sometime for their tongues to "re-load".

Vastra also has this ability. But we only saw her use it once. Perhaps, because she wishes to blend more with human society, she's reluctant to do something that would make her seem so "freakish". Instead, she prefers wielding swords.

This branch of Silurians also like to wear special masks that enhance certain senses for them and can feed them data concerning the environment around them.

All in all, the two-eyed Silurians seem far more deadly than a lot of other versions that we've seen of this species.


As we move on into the Twenty-First Century, Humanity discovers a new way to destroy itself: the proton missile. It is a unique weapon that destroys life but leaves structures intact. At this point, there is still some form of national division - but countries seem to be referred to as Power Blocs. All the Blocs get their hands on this technology and a new sort of military deadlock begins. One that resembles the same sort of scenario we had with nuclear weapons during the Twentieth Century.

A group of Three-Eyed Non-Telekinetic Silurians see this political landscape as their ultimate opportunity to eradicate the apes that have overrun their planet. They are led by Icthar - last surviving member of the Triad. The Doctor has, of course, met this group of Silurians in a previously unseen adventure (or, quite possibly, two unseen adventures).

A date of 2084 is given in the dialogue of Warriors of the Deep. If the unseen adventure(s) in question took place in the late 20th Century, we can't say for sure what this group of Silurians have been up to all this time. Perhaps they went back into hibernation or they could have been hiding out somewhere throughout most of the 21st Century - waiting for the right moment to try to take their planet back. It's difficult to ascertain with the information we're given in the story.

The Three-Eyed Non-Telekinetic Silurian doesn't have much in the way of natural defenses. But it has grown a protective shell that is, at least, a bit resistant to attacks. They are definitely the most vulnerable of all the branches we've seen. There also seems to be a slight variation in the Sea Devils of this story. They don't seem to possess the long fins that the stringy Sea Devils had around their heads and necks. Possibly, the fins are concealed beneath their armor.

Warriors of the Deep gives us a pretty bleak ending for Homo Reptilia. The Triad is now wiped out and the entire attack force seems to have died from the toxic effects of hexachromite gas. The fact that the story takes place so late in their timeline doesn't offer any encouragement, either. A genuine Silurian tale taking place in the 22nd Century or later might offer some encouragement. But, with things the way they are right now, this does look like the final end for the species.


The closest we get to a Silurian story that takes place any later than Warriors of the Deep would be Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. A date of 2367 is given in the subtitles near the beginning of the story. The colony ship the Silurians sent off way back in their ancient days is finally returning to Earth. While the ship is full of dinosaurs, the Silurians that were on board the ship were all killed off by Solomon. Once more, it's hard to be confident that Homo Reptilia survives beyond the 21st Century.

But the Doctor does set the timer on the hibernation units for the colony he found in Hungry Earth/Cold Blood to re-awaken the population in a 1 000 years' time. So a batch of Two-Eyed Silurians should be re-emerging somewhere around 3020. Humanity, by this point, will have colony worlds all over the place. Could it be that they give one of those planets to the Silurian race and their civilization begins to prosper again?

There are three cameos that the Silurians make in New Who that help support this fact:

The first is the Season Finale of Series Five. We see a Silurian or two standing among The Alliance Against the Doctor as he's sealed inside the Box of Pandorica. It's my theory that this group of aliens all hail from the distant future and that the Daleks created a sort of temporal bridgehead to bring them back to Stone Henge in the Second Century. If that is the case, then this could be members of a successful Silurian colony from the future. However, it's just as possible that this was a group of Homo Reptilia that might have been active in 102 AD. That they Re-Awakened in and around that era rather than being transported from another time period. So The Pandorica Opens only offers so much evidence that the Silurians have survived past 2084.

Their next cameo is in A Good Man Goes to War - where they help secure Demon's Run. We see quite the occupation force appear once the Doctor has tricked the humans into disarming themselves'. It's difficult to get a clear idea of when, exactly, this story takes place. But it could be sometime after the 30th Century has begun and these Silurians hail from the Re-Awakening that the Doctor scheduled in Cold Blood. But we do see the Doctor picking up the Lady Vastra in the late 1800s - so it's possible he picked up the attack squad from somewhere in the past, too. Again, the evidence in this story is only so conclusive.

Interestingly enough, the best proof that the Silurians are prospering in the future is the most subtle. You'll only catch it if you're keeping a keen eye. Time of the Doctor definitely takes place in the far flung future. More than likely, sometime after 3020. Christmas is a simple human colony and the Papal Mainframe is meant to be how churches are run in the distant future. This is not some alien species that merely looks human that are more advanced than us and exist within our current time frame. Like say, the species that fly past Earth in the Spaceship Titanic on Christmas Eve in the early 21st Century. The people we see in this story are originally from Earth - somewhere further down the road in its evolution.

Anyhow, watch the opening scene where all the spaceships have responded to Gallifrey's signal carefully. In among the various familiar-looking vessels that hover above the planet Christmas is on is the same type of craft we see in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. We know this to be a ship of Silurian craftsmanship. If Time of the Doctor takes place in Humanity's future and Silurians can show up in a ship that doesn't seem to have any time travel capabilities - then this would indicate that Homo Reptilia is doing fine somewhere past the events of the Sea Base Four Tragedy. As subtle as the visual reference is - it's the best proof we have.

So it does seem fairly certain that Humanity and Homo Reptilia will, someday, see past their differences. Again, I think it's most likely that the colony the Doctor set to re-awaken sometime around 3020 will just be given one of the more arid colony worlds that humans have acquired. Once settled on this world -  they begin to thrive, once more. We see, at least, hints of this idea in the cameos they've made. Perhaps, one day, we'll get a story that confirms this properly. In the meantime, I like to believe there's a happy ending for the Silurians. Rather than the very tragic conclusion we see in what constitutes their last story in the timeline. In my heart of hearts, I believe that we did, indeed, find another way.

So, that concludes our Probably History of the Silurians. There was a lot of speculation that I needed to go into for this one so it definitely merited being a two-parter. 

Of all the recurring aliens that present themselves' in Doctor Who reality, I look forward to a future appearance from these guys the most. Silurian stories tend to be the richest since they are a far more three-dimensional species than your Standard Doctor Who Monster.

I also hope, of course, that we'll see a story that shows the Silurians found a better future than dying out in a human military base on a seabed. I would love to see a story that shows a happy ending for them.

Did you miss Part One of Silurian History? Here's an easy link to it: