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The Almost Companions

Companions

The Doc has picked up a lot of guys and gals over the years (let’s be honest, mostly lady types)(Women)(The ones without winkies). They’ve gone on to have adventures and so on and so forth and all was mostly lovely, but what about the almost companions? The ones who would’ve made great companions but were never asked, or actually decided against joining up?

Let’s take a look at some of the most notable ‘Almost Companions’ and weep (or thank our lucky stars) that they didn’t become ‘Actual Companions’.

Let’s do that very thing.

HERE:

Duggan! (!)(!!!)

duggan

‘City of Death’ is one of the finest stories in all of Who, and Duggan is one of Who’s finest characters. I can’t be the only one who wishes he’d leapt aboard the TARDIS at the end of the story, ready to run through many more brick walls. Just imagine him between the smug, imperious pairing of Baker’s Doctor and Romana 2, it could have been glorious. Sad face.

Ray (Super Welsh)

ray

Literally almost a companion, this one. With Mel (thankfully) about to jump ship, the prod team decided to road test a few potential companions before deciding who to give the job to, and super Welsh Ray was one of the options.  I’m kinda glad she never made it into the TARDIS; for one thing Ace ended up being my very most favouritest in the whole of Who companion. So that would have sucked. Also, that accent, she played it a little over-ripe for me.

Grace (Snogger) 

grace-holloway-daphne-ashbrook-1

Okay, so she was sort of semi-responsible for bringing about the end of Seven, but I was still sad she turned down the invitation to go travelling in the TARDIS. I guess she’s just the type to snog & leave. Probably to go and cry at some opera in a  fancy-pants dress. It’s funny with Grace, as I (and I’m sure most others) think of her as a companion, but technically she’s not. She had this one adventure then turned down the chance to join the box-fresh Eight on his adventures. For some reason. It’s a great pity we’ll never see more of her.

Adam (Booo! HISSS!)

Adam

Adam was there to show us that not everyone can make the grade, even after being invited on board. Adam was awful. Bye bye, Adam.

Cas (Went and died of death)

Cass Night 2

Not exactly the Doctor’s biggest fan. The first minute of this short made it seem as though we were seeing the start of a new companion for the Doctor, only for it to take that sharp, shocking left turn as she realises what he is. And then she’s all dead and stuff.

Rusty the Dalek (King of Side-Eye)

rusty

Just imagine it! Twelve and Rusty hopping through all of time and space! Or don’t. No. This would have been a terrible idea. OR WOULD IT?!?!?! (Yes)

Journey Blue (Nope, You Can’t Come In)

journey

This one fooled me. I felt FOR SURE that we’d be seeing more of soldier Journey Blue. That end, with the Doctor turning her down, felt tailor-made to revisit at the season’s end. The Doctor would grow, develop, soften, realise his error and jump back to just after the point he turned her down and say ‘Well, what are you waiting for?’ She’d smile, run in, end of season. BUT NOPE. Perhaps if Clara (as originally intended) had left at the season’s end we might have seen this? It’s a very Moffat thing to do.

Shona (Dance! Dance! Dance!)

Shona_McCullough

As with Journey Blue, I watched ‘Last Christmas’ and was SURE we were seeing the introduction of a new companion. She just had too much fizz, colour and mouth to be a minor one-off. And she calls the Doc a magician, and we already knew the next ep was called ‘The Magicians Apprentice’! I mean COME ON! Moffat also gave her such a sadness, such an apparently disappointing and lonely life, surely the Doctor was going to pull her out of that..? Again, at one point Clara was leaving at the end of this one, perhaps if she had…? Perhaps, perhaps and three times perhaps.

So which of the above would YOU like to have seen become a full-time companion? And who have I missed?

TELL ME!

@DoctorWhoThing

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Strangling Peri

six

“Hi… uh, my name is Matthew and… I sort of like ‘The Twin Dilemma’…”

Stop throwing that hot garbage at me!

Look, I KNOW it places bottom in most polls, and I KNOW it’s not actually ‘good’ in the most conventional (or, well,  ‘correct’) sense of the word, but every time I watch it I enjoy the heck out of the thing. More so than, say, the deadly dull ‘Frontios’, or the even duller ‘Planet of The Spiders’, for example. Mostly, this is down to Colin Baker BLOODY WELL GOING FOR IT. He does not shuffle onto the stage uncertainly, he ROARS in like a bloody maniac. Good on you, son!

ANYWAY.

I’m not here to try and defend Twin and my wrong-headed enjoyment of it, just one infamous scene. A scene that is constantly pinpointed by fans as a massive ‘mistake': the newly regenerated Doctor giving Peri’s neck meat a bit of a squeeze.

I LOVE this.

Talk about a way to slap your viewers right across their pampered, preconception-reddened cheeks. Peter Davison, that lovely young man, just gave up his ‘life’ for this woman, and now this usurper is trying to strangle her?!

It knocks you off-centre, and it’s darn well supposed to. It’s purpose is to jolt you and make you question this new maniac who seems to have replaced the friendly, decent chap we’ve grown cosy-comfortable with. Colin Baker here was resolutely NOT comfortable.

GOOD.

New Doctor, throw the switch the other way and shake things up. It has to be different otherwise why bother changing the Doctor at all?

It’s an exciting, surprising moment; a modern equivalent (-ish) moment would be in Capaldi’s first episode, apparently leaving Clara to her doom in the robot’s lair. The last chap would never have done that! What the heck is going on here?! Of course not long after he returns heroically, turns out he never went far, but still, for a few minutes there you’ve been gut-punched.

And by giving that example, we get to the real issue with the Doctor strangling Peri. The mistake was not the moment itself, that moment is new and thrilling and completely unexpected. No, the mistake is that the story failed to turn us round on the Doctor sufficiently by the stories end. To show he was still the same man we knew him to be. Capaldi got to come back and be a hero, Baker doesn’t really get that quick turnaround in the story, certainly not with Peri. He continues to be untrustworthy, cowardly, un-heroic, and we’re left at the end of the story (and the end of the season!) without a real sense of closure on that attempted strangulation. The audience is left unsure.

That is the real ‘fault’ here, not the strangulation scene itself, or the desire to show a larger, more volatile Doctor. The modern show got it right with Capaldi’s Doc and made sure we had some moments to grab on to, to tell us it was going to be alright. Allowed him to be vulnerable. And that’s all that was needed here. Just a glimpse or two more of the hero, and, most importantly, a clear sense of the unbroken friendship between Sixie & Peri. 

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New Toys on the Block – the rise of Doctor Who merch

 

dapol 7Guest Post by Peter Bell , you can find more of his writing at http://pgbell.wordpress.com/

In my day, Doctor Who merchandise was a blissfully simple affair. We had the odd T-shirt (to be worn under the officially licenced 7th Doctor replica tanktop), the disappointing Dalek Attack computer game for the Amiga, and, most prominently of all, we had the Dapol figures.

Ah, Dapol! The name still evokes flutters of excitement in the hearts of a whole generation of fans. Not because the toys were especially good, of course. In fact they were often downright shoddy; the Daleks had paintwork you could rub off with your fingers, K9 was grey, the TARDIS console had the wrong number of sides and the whole lot was forged from plastic that possessed all the durability of bone china. But for nearly two decades, theirs was the only game in town. (And oh, how I still cherish my 25th Anniversary playset! I still don’t question what K9’s doing in there.)

dapolplayset

Looking back on it now, it made sense that Dapol, a firm who were not really toy manufacturers, should get the toy licence. Sound backwards? Let me explain. Dapol made model railway sets for middle age hobbyists and, by the late 1980s, that’s pretty much what Doctor Who was perceived to be – a hobby, enjoyed by middle-aged men harbouring fond memories of their youth.

How far we’ve come.

The show’s a global brand now and the BBC has been quick to exploit it as such, farming out merchandising rights to all comers. Like any popular franchise, this has resulted in the good (the Character Options classic series range of action figures spring to mind), the bad (the inflatable Toclafane beachball) and the downright bizarre (the Dalek Sec talking toothbrush, anyone?)

It’s a little ironic that such a devoutly leftist show should owe so much of its newfound success to the capitalist tendencies of BBC Worldwide, but the shameless truth is that most of us are rubbing our hands at the prospect of all the merchandise we could only ever dream of as kids.

But there was one dream that remained unrealised. One goal that seemed forever distant. Until this week…

Lego Doctor Who!

lego-doctor-who-cclose

Like validation from on high, the announcement that Andrew Clark’s submission to the Lego Ideas website has been successful, means our little show is finally rubbing shoulders with the likes of Star Wars and Harry Potter in the pantheon of viable global franchises. And that’s great! It’s exactly where it belongs. We always knew it was a world-beater, it’s just taken the world a little while to get the hint and lie down quietly.

So what can we expect from the new Lego licence? Details are scarce at the moment, although the promotional teaser released this week suggests we can expect plenty of Doc 12 action. Beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess but the potential is clearly vast. How about an original Hartnell TARDIS interior playset? Fancy building the Tomb of the Cybermen, one icy brick at a time? Lego Kandyman? (C’mon Lego, make it happen! MAKE IT HAPPEN!)

And Lego isn’t limited to the kits any more. Can we expect a Lego Doctor Who video game? And the Legoland theme parks recently added Star Wars to their Miniland sections, so why not Doctor Who as well? Maybe even a full-blown ride? The Beeb is getting into the theme park industry in a big way right now, so anything’s possible. (But that’s a topic for another post).

 LEGO-Doctor-Who-Sample-Set

Of course, all this is likely to cost a pretty penny. The new Lego Avengers helicarrier clocks in at an eye-watering £250, and I doubt a large-scale TARDIS interior kit would be much less. These aren’t just toys for kids any more. Ironically, they’re aimed at the sort of affluent, middle aged geek who might have found himself opening that Dapol playset back in the day. (Which reminds me, where was our 50th anniversary equivalent, Moffat?)

This all remains to be seen, of course. If Lego are smart, they’ll release a slew of smaller, more budget friendly kits to compliment the big tentpole sets. A chorus of Weeping Angels, perhaps, or a UNIT jeep and troops. Whatever happens, one thing is certain – we’ll never have to put up with that Megabloks crap again.

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Why ‘Neverwhere’ Could be The Next Dr Who

never

Hey Who nerds!

Those fine peeps over at Digital Spy have tossed up an article of mine, looking at what else could fill the ‘Dr Who slot’ now ‘Atlantis’ has bitten the dust.

Here’s a sneak peek:

Why Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere Could Be the Next Dr Who

After the news that another hopeful heir apparent to the Saturday Night ‘Doctor Who’ slot, Howard Overman’s ‘Atlantis’, has bitten the dust, I thought I’d take a look at what the BBC should try next .

The Return of Saturday Night Family Adventure

Not so very long ago, the idea of an early evening adventure show on BBC 1, on Saturday night no less, that the whole family would happily sit down to enjoy was seen as impossible.  That time had passed, the audience was now too fragmented, there’s just no way you could get people from eight to eighty to all sit together and watch the same narrative show.

Then the BBC took a risk. With big swingers like writer Russell T Davies and BBC Drama Commissioner Jane Tranter fighting its corner, that old, dead TV legend ‘Doctor Who’ lurched back into life… and it worked. People of all ages tuned in, the viewing figures stacked up, and ten years later it’s still there.

Go here to read the rest; GO NOW:

Neverwhere

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BOOKS!!1!

book 11

Yes!

Doctor Who Thing shall be entering the world of non-fiction books about…….

……………………………

                …………………………….. DOCTOR WHO.

I know!

“WHEN?!” I hear you cry. Well. Soon. Ish. I’ve just begun to knock a few together. They will be short, fun, joyful, positive things that won’t demand too much of your hard-earned cash. The current plans is that the individual titles will be available only as low-priced eBooks, with three of each collected into volumes that will then be available as both eBooks and old-fashioned papery book things. Again, without asking for too hefty a price.

This is a little premature, as I’m not even a few pages into any of them yet, but I’m excited about it, about the possibilities of an ongoing range of short fun reads, and wanted to share NOW.

Posts on this site will keep you up to date on each books progress, and even offer you the chance to have your own thoughts and opinions included. Ooooohhh…!

Wish me luck!

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The Night of the Doctor

Night
Well, it’s now 357 years (approx) since the worlds bestest TV show ever EVAH began: ‘The Adventures of Mr Who, Physician.’ Let’s take a peek at one of my fave parts of the 50th bash, the return of the 8th Doctor:

McGann Rugged

‘I’m a Doctor, but probably not the one you were expecting.’

Just look at him there, dashing and rugged enough to make a member of the Westboro Baptist Church question their sexuality. Now unfortunately, I had the surprise of Paul McGann’s return spoiled for me. The mini-episode was dropped without warning, I had no idea it was coming; only when I happened to click on a certain website and laid eyes upon a picture of McGann’s manly fizzog illustrating their main story, with the headline ‘Paul McGann Returns to Doctor Who’ to really spell it out for the hard of thinking, did I find out. So going into this episode for the first time, there was no surprise reveal, I already knew, but in the end, this affected my enjoyment of the short video not one jot.

Fans had gnashed their teeth in fury at Moffat, enraged that, apparently, it was going to be a modern Doctor’s only love-in for the 50th; and here Moffat swiped their legs from underneath them like the expert Troll prodder he is. I like to think he laughed for a full hour after it went out, picturing all those double chins dropping within the first minute.

McGann is often seen as the hard-done-by man of Doctor Who. I think most fans wanted to see him, for however long, back on screen as The Doctor. Opinions on his TV Movie tend to verge from ‘wuz alright’, to ‘WORST EPISODE EVAH’ (I’m a fan); but most seem to concede that McGann himself shone in the role immediately. With that potential series being put down before it had chance to find its legs (phew!), that seemed like it was going to be all she wrote for McGann as the 8th Doctor, Big Finish aside. But no, we wanted him back. He deserved it, we deserved it, and boy did it feel good to see him up there BEING the Doctor again! And with considerably less shit hair! And a real jazzy new set of togs, too! Loving those boots, Paul.

And McGann is so much the Doctor here, cheeky, dashing, petulant, clever, and willing to lay down his life without a moment’s hesitation to try and save the life of a complete stranger. Yes, this is The Doctor we know and love.

Mcgann wasn’t the only returnee though, as up rocked the Sisterhood of Karn, from Tom Baker classic ‘The Brain of Morbius’. I don’t think anyone was expecting that. Personally I would have preferred The Kandyman, but each to their own.

McGann Regenerates

‘Charley, C’rizz, Lucie, Tamsin, Molly: Friends, companions I’ve known, I salute you.’

The amount Moffat squeezed into this short, short episode is quite something; and the amazing thing is that it doesn’t feel rushed. We’re introduced to a potential new companion in Cass, and off she and the Doctor run, hand-in-hand; what fresh adventures await? Then the whole thing turns on a dime and you realise she isn’t a potential spunky new cohort for the 8th Doctor, she’s the thing that’s going to bring about his end. And then! And then, resurrection, and the Sisterhood, and a shrugging off, finally, of the Doctor mantle as he accepts his role in the Time War; and at last – regeneration. The end of McGann, of the 8th Doctor, and a hello to the War Doctor. Six and a half minutes, people; this all happens in six and a half minutes. Moffat don’t mess about here, son.

And good golly, how can something with a sub-seven minute runtime be stuffed silly with so many quotable lines??

‘Bring me knitting!’

‘Because the front crashes first, think it through.’

‘Four minutes? That’s ages, what if I get bored?’

‘Yes, I’m a Timelord, but I’m one of the nice ones.’

‘The keepers of the flame of utter boredom.’

‘Physician, heal thyself.’

Mental. It’s up there with the likes of ‘City of Death’ for quotability.

Almost-Companion Cass makes a brief but memorable impression. She’s set up as a classic Who companion; she’s strong, sparky, willing to put others before herself. As she grabs the Doctor’s hand we want her to run with him right into that TARDIS and to go get into trouble; but then she stops. By setting her up as such a classic companion, having her then rather die than be saved by a Timelord shows us exactly how far the Doctor’s race have sunk; how despised they are. It speaks volumes for the acts they must have committed; something that is then barely touched upon in ‘The Day of The Doctor’. The Timelords shown there seem a pretty decent bunch.

Of course, this McGann niblet just made people go even more crazy, demanding a return, further web-episodes, an entire TV series even; but should that happen? Well, no, of course not. A full on return to our TV screens would probably not be advisable; though I think if Capaldi ever runs into another Doc in an episode, it should surely be McGann. Tennant’s had his return, Smith’s just gone, and there’s no way Eccleston’s slipping on the leather jacket again. No, get McGann back, let him strut his stuff in a multi-doc episode, then leave it there. Plus, for those of you desperate for more from the 8th Doctor, there’s already a lot of stuff out there. ‘The Night of The Doctor’ essentially made his Big Finish audio adventures cannon. Those audio episodes ARE the 8th Doctor series, so go pick some up and give them a whirl.

Moffat has given the world of Doctor Who many treasures over the last decade (let’s all ignore the introduction of the term ‘Timey-Wimey’, hey?), and ‘Night of the Doctor’, in my eyes, ranks way up there. It sits nestled, all short and tiny and perfectly formed, next to ‘Blink’, ‘The Eleventh Hour’, ‘The Empty Child’, ‘Listen’, and all the other classic’s he’s penned.

Now please, someone, anyone, bring me knitting!

@DoctorWhoThing

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Listen: or ‘HOLY CRAP-ON-A-CRACKER, IT’S AMAZING-!’

Listen

Listen…

LISTEN

Good Lordy Lord. As I believe the kids would say, ‘I can’t even?!?!’

Ladies and gents, we have a new classic on our hands. For me, this is one of the finest episodes of modern Who. In fact, of all Who. After the credits rolled I actually had to stand and pace the room, my insides were juddering; this was something special. With this episode, Moffat once again confirms why, when he’s firing on all cylinders, he’s one of the very best writers Who has ever had. Perhaps even the best. Yeah, you heard me Holmes fans..! (Yes, yes, Holmes is bloody brilliantly amazing too, alright?! They’re both champs! Holding hands (perhaps kissing) atop Mount Who)  He can just make any surrounding episodes look resolutely ordinary.

‘Listen’ is all about fear; more specifically it’s about childhood fear, fear of the nothing, fear of the illogical, fear of the dark and what might be quietly waiting in there, looking back at us. Childhood fears can be irrational, imaginary, and grip like a vice. They can bubble up and affect us as adults, you never fully leave them behind, and in the Doctor’s case it seems it can actually shape who you are and how you choose to live. The Doctor became a man who rather than give in to fear, rather than spend his life crying in the dark, will make a point of leaping into shadowed corners waving a stick around, just to see what might come slithering out. He’s learned to refuse to let his fear debilitate him, for the Doctor fear is a superpower. In this episode he can’t quite accept that his fear is potentially irrational, that he may only be afraid of the imagined, and so tries to put a face (or tentacle) to his terror.

listen clara

Now this won’t be for everyone, because there’s no monster at the end to clearly identify, only the monsters of the mind (OR ARE THEY?! *WOOOOOOOO…!*). No CGI or rubber creature to pull into the light and dispatch, the monster exists in the Doctor’s imagination (OR DOES IT?! *WOOOOOO….you get the idea). ‘Listen’ is basically an exploration of the Doctor’s psyche, into just what makes him tick. What makes the Time Lord scared? What makes him jump into the dark to see what’s there? This is absorbing, brave stuff for Saturday night family entertainment. Despite the fact Who fans like to trumpet the elasticity of the shows format, when it actually does attempt to step outside of it’s usual boundries, a section of fans don’t like it (Hello ‘Love & Monsters’..!). Well TOUGH.

Many complain that there’s no clear resolution to the episode, was there a monster or wasn’t there? Perhaps there was. Perhaps there wasn’t. Perhaps there was one under that blanket, but not outside the door, or vice versa. But you’re missing the point. As I said, this is about childhood fears, the fear of the irrational, for that to keep its potency it must remain forever under the bed, forever in the closet, forever just out of view and shrouded from the absolute. Maybe it was all in the Doctor’s head. Maybe it wasn’t. But the FEAR was real, and will remain so.

OH! And the Doctor himself? He’s amazing, and brave, and wonderful…. and he was also a small boy, alone in his bed, crying because he was afraid of the dark. What a wonderful thing to show children watching this show, that there’s nothing to be ashamed of, even a man as marvelous as the Doctor once wept whilst curled up alone and frightened in bed.

‘Listen'; it’s creepy, thought provoking, moving, clever, funny: in short,  it’s the very best of Who, and I love it. 

listen dan

So what did you think of Listen? And did you fall for it as hard as I did?

@DoctorWhoThing

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