Doctor Who Rewatch (Jan. 9, 2024)

Only watched and listened to a little bit of Doctor Who this week

The Sensorites
The only serial I watched this week was this 6 parter that suffers from some huge pacing issues. It probably should have been 4 episodes. It still has some fun bits like like Gallifrey being described for the first time, Susan being psychic, and it has a strong start. I also enjoyed that there’s a little more complexity to it in who is considered good and bad in this story. Also lol, so much line flubbing. I don’t blame the actors since they were only allowed one take for the first few years but it comes up quite a bit here.

Here There Be Monsters
I also listened to a couple Big Finish audio stories. It turns out one of the apps my local library uses for digital lending, Hoopla, has a ton of Big Finish stuff on there so consider checking that out if you live in the US. Here There Be Monsters is a perfectly ok but maybe kinda forgettable companion chronicles and the middle is kinda dull. It has some really interesting ideas like the plant ship that tears holes in reality to travel. This part is very good and well produced but then it’s mostly dropped to introduce a man from another dimension who kinda doesn’t do anything? Carole Ann Ford is good in it. It probably should have been either shorter and cut some things out, or longer so it could have more time for the concepts in introduced. Still, it was fun enough and I can’t complain about it being free at the library. It’s not too expensive either on the Big Finish site if you’re looking for more 1st Doctor adventures.

The Transit of Venus
The other Big Finish story I listened to was The Transit of Venus, a story set right after The Sensorites and before The Reign of Terror. I didn’t plan this at all so that was a nice surprise. This was another story I checked out from my library. Apparently this was the first audio story William Russell did as Ian, back in 2009. It’s fun and I enjoy the pure historical stories since they don’t happen in Doctor Who anymore. Without spoiling anything, it does have a fun plot element that carries over from The Sensorites which does mean that serial is required watching before listening to this, but I thought it worked very well. Both of these stories are only an hour too.

Doctor Who Rewatch (Keys to Marinus, Aztecs)

After taking a break last week, my rewatch of the Hartnell era continues.

Keys to Marinus
I was surprised this got such a mixed reaction from critics. It’s much better than some of the other stories that have come up so far, and not offensively gross like Marco Polo. There’s a lot of variety in the things happening and the trial part of the story, which seems to be the thing people have the most issue with, really isn’t that long. We also continue seeing the Doctor evolve into a kinder character. I think the criticisms of Susan’s writing are fair game though.

The Aztecs
There’s some great writing in here and really fun subplots like the Doctor accidentally getting engaged and I can see why people love this story. Unfortunately there’s so much brown face and stereotypes of the Aztecs so I kinda can’t recommend it to anyone. There’s definitely a thing happening where I’m respecting a lot of the 90s Doctor Who writers a whole lot less because I look up every Doctor Who story on Wikipedia and the reception for the ones that I thought were fun like Keys or The Daleks will get some criticism but the ones that have aged like milk receive nothing but praise from them. Really weird shit. From my memory of watching the show before, I think this is all the racist shit for now until I get to Talons of Weng-Chiang, so hopefully you don’t have to read me vent about this for a while?

Masters of Luxor
I also listened to one of the Lost Stories from Big Finish. Masters of Luxor was apparently a story that was meant to be the second one for Doctor Who but was replaced at the last minute with The Daleks. It’s pretty solid stuff. I think the script was replaced because it would have been hard to film, but it was probably for the best anyway since The Daleks is a better story that introduced the most iconic villain. Still enjoyable though. It’s fun hearing the actors for Susan and Ian again, Carole Ann Ford and William Russell, and they do a good job. It’s probably the closest we’ll get to a full radio drama for the first Doctor with the original cast

Doctor Who Rewatch (Dec. 19, 2023)

My rewatch of the 1st Doctor era continues. Here’s what I watched (and listened to!) this week

Edge of Destruction 
It’s fine. It’s really ambitious to have a more psychological story this early on but even at the story only being 2 episodes it feels a little long. Plus the odd character behavior is never really explained that well. Still, from what I recall it’s kinda the only Tardis only story from the original series? Or at least one of the very few?

Marco Polo
Obviously watched the reconstruction since all the episodes are missing. I know this is supposed to be a hidden gem but oof, couldn’t get past the yellow face for some of the characters. It would only be worse if we had the actual footage.It’s fascinating that the Doctor really isn’t in this one much and even William Russell seemed to be annoyed by this from reading about the production. It’s also wild that this story takes place over months instead of just a few days like most Doctor Who stories.

Really impressed with the reconstruction quality though, including having the actor who played Marco Polo doing an intro for the story as an older version of the character. Marco Polo is a jerk.

I guess I would recommend the novelization though? The story itself is fine.

Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles – Quinnis
My first Big Finish story as part of the rewatch! I’ve listened to a lot of them before but as part of my rewatch I’m trying to listen to any along the way that would slot in nicely with where I’m at in the rewatch. So I picked Quinnis, a story in their Companion Chronicles line which is sorta in-between an audio book and radio drama. It’s narrated by the actress who played Susan so she acts her lines out and there’s also special effects, but narrates other parts. I thought it would make sense to listen to a prequel set before the series starts but it’s being told after Doctors 1-8 and references stuff at the beginning of the story that came up during with the 8th Doctor’s era like Susan’s son so I guess I goofed on this one. Ah well.

The production is nice and it’s a decent story. It also does a good job of staying true to that version of the Doctor and Susan. It’s not a groundbreaking story but a fun enough one off and has better pacing than a lot of 1st Doctor stories. I just wish it wasn’t referencing other Big Finish stuff. There’s probably other 1st doctor audio stories I would recommend over this, there’s some I’m really looking forward to listening to in my library, but it’s a fun story and pretty cheap too so why not. Only an hour long too.

Doctor Who: The Daleks and The Giggle

My rewatch of Doctor Who continued with The Daleks, the second serial consisting of 7 episodes. I watched the original Black & White version since I generally don’t enjoy colorized things but I’ll probably go back and watch it at some point.

I thought it held up very well! It was fun watching how much they really nailed the Daleks in their first story and how little they’ve changed since then, other than becoming stronger and having better special effects. It fits the story though, they had just barely survived a war and were in the process of rebuilding. The Doctor is still an asshole at this point, with the whole story kicking off basically because he wanted to explore so he deliberately sabotaged the Tardis so they couldn’t leave. I know it’s all intentional and that he eventually becomes good but I was surprised at how quickly Barbara was willing to sacrifice the Thals to leave the planet, oof. At least Ian and Susan knew it was ethically terrible. Not that the Thals are amazing either. They seem like a pretty sexist society but it beats being robot Nazis I suppose. I don’t really think it was intentional though and it’s more from the story just being a product of the 60’s.

Not really many huge complaints about this story. It has some issues with pacing, especially towards the end, but I think it’s a pretty solid one to recommend from the Hartnell era. He still continues to flub his lines since they couldn’t do retakes but he’s fun to watch. Next up for me is Edge of Destruction and if I recall correctly, some of the reconstructions after that? I would like to go through all the stories, even if it means watching animated and fan reconstructions or just listening to the audio since it seems like the audio dramas and new show will occasionally reference them.

Speaking of, I also watched the third and final special for this year, The Giggle. I won’t put any spoilers here so I’ll just say that I thought it was silly fun. I’m not really completely sold on that regeneration scene and twist, but it was a lot of fun seeing an old companion come back, I thought Neil Patrick Harris was very good as the villain, and I absolutely cannot wait to see some stories with 15. I loved what he did in this episode and the trailer for the upcoming Christmas special makes it look like a lot of fun.

Excited About Doctor Who Again

I just watched the new Doctor Who specials and I’m sorry but this is a Doctor Who blog now. I fell off during the Capaldi years, not because I thought the show got bad or anything but life stuff just got in the way and I never really made the time to get back to it. Then I heard Chibnall was taking over and I’m sure the 13th Doctor is great, because everyone that has played the Doctor has been very good and just has to deal with various quality levels of scripts, but I never enjoyed Chibnall’s writing and the idea of him running the show sounded rough.

Anyway, people were saying nice things on the internet about the new specials so I decided to watch them and they’re really good! I was a little pessimistic that I would since I thought the last year of specials in Tennant’s run was rough (except Waters of Mars, which I loved). I also felt like bringing him back right before a new Doctor would make it tougher on the new guy, which I guess is still possible but at least I feel better about Russell T. Davies as a showrunner again. There isn’t much I actually have to say about the episodes without spoiling anything. They’re just really solid hour long episodes and it was nice seeing people return. I forgot how queer the show was while RTD was showrunner so that’s also been very nice. Unfortunately it feels even more necessary now than it did during his original run. It’s also wild that the show has an actual budget now. I’ll have to go back to watch all the episodes from New Who that I missed before.

It also got me to start rewatching the original series again starting with An Unearthly Child. I’ve seen all of the stories for the first 3 Doctors that weren’t thrown out, along with a bunch of other ones for each of the other Doctors, but it seems like a fun excuse to watch them all again anyway, watch the animated reconstructions, and listen to the Big Finish audio dramas I have along the way. I didn’t know Unearthly Child wasn’t available because of some weird licensing stuff with the son of the writer, who owns the rights. Luckily I own the dvd of it but it sucks this is even a thing. I think the story holds up alright though. I remembered Hartnell’s Doctor being kind of an ass but not this bad. But it does help setup the growth that he eventually goes through. It’s funny to me that the first episode is so iconic and the next story introduces the Daleks but the rest of the story is basically just about some cave men. Probably makes sense to not introduce aliens in the very first story though. The soundtrack is still great too!

A few days ago I also picked up the Doctor Who Humble Bundle that’s ending in a day because of all the Big Finish stuff it has. I don’t have too much interest in the comics since the ones I read before from this line weren’t too memorable to me, but I want to play the tabletop rpg at the time. My Doctor Who ttrpg hot take is that none of the players should be the Doctor and if anything that should be the GM, or maybe a GM-less game. I’m assuming that someone has made a Doctor Who-like game on at some point. Although I do like that the book makes it clear that you can in fact play the game without having anyone as the Doctor and basically do your own weird little Doctor Who spinoff.

My other gripe about the ttrpg is that the 8th Doctor book doesn’t mention the Big Finish audio dramas at all! I’m sure it’s for legal reasons and they didn’t get the license to but man, they’re so good. Same goes with the 6th Doctor, where he also gets to have his own character arc and growth and wear a blue suit sometimes. It just feels like, what’s the point of putting out an 8th Doctor book that only references the movie and a short regeneration special?

Oh well, I’ll make sure I keep posting about video games stuff too. Just having fun being really into a tv show again.