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The MUST SEE episodes of Modern Who

10docs

Doctor Who has been back on our screen for ten years now (or more, really a lot depends on when you’re actually reading this) (For example, if the year is ‘now’ 2047)(Or 1937), and boy-oh-boy have we been treated to a wealth of ace new Who over that time. There have been a few brown smears here and there too (someone should really have a word with Mr Moffat when he brings up the name ‘Steve Thompson’ yet again), but they are far outweighed by the ace.

Recently there have been a lot of ‘Top Ten Episodes of Modern Who’ type lists. Only ten? These people are lightweights. I’m going to pick out the two must-sees from each season of modern Who. Plus some more tossed in on top.

Others have had their chance to point out what they claim to be ‘the best’, now here’s The Doctor Who Thing list. Which yes, MAKES IT DEFINITIVE. Take a peek, and if you rabble don’t agree, you can go straight to Hell. A Hell made of poo.

SEASON ONE:

9 and rose

The glorious return of Doctor Who! Many thought that nobody would be interested, that no one would watch, perhaps forgetting that the McGann TV movie pulled in a large audience when it was shown. Yes, okay, I was one of those worried that no one would watch, apart from you sad nerds, and me. STILL a super strong run. Sure, we had the Slitheen and burping bins to contend with, but it’s still one of the most satisfying seasons of new Who. And oh by gosh, how thrilling would it have been if they’d been able to keep that regeneration under wraps?

Dalek

POW!! As I may have mentioned elsewhere (I totes did), ‘Dalek’ was the first ten out of ten episode of new Who for me. I’d enjoyed all the eps before it, to a greater or lesser degree, but this was the first one to really blow me away. The fact the writer has not since worked on the show is a bloomin’ tragedy. How on Earth did the make those pepper pots a credible enemy?! By taking them seriously, and trusting the original design.

The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances

“Are you my Mummy?” The Grand Moff, smashing it for six first time out to bat. Before the series aired, I had serious doubts about Mr Moff being involved, but he proved me wrong immediately. Straight away he gave us something creepy that seeped into the public consciousness. Oh, and I like to think I have a strong stomach, but when Victor Meldrew began his transformation? My goodness but did it disturb.

SEASON TWO:

10 an rose

And so Tennant swaggers in, helping to stamp the shows place into many new viewers hearts. In retrospect, this season now feels a little like a slight wobble. It’s certainly the season that would sit at the bottom of any list of new Who seasons I were to make. That’s not to say it’s ‘bad’, or doesn’t contain its fair share of cracking episodes, but it feels slightly lesser compared to Eccs year, and fails to reach the highs we would get in the next two Tennant seasons.

The Girl in the Fireplace

Moffat’s first bit of ‘timey-wimey’. Clever, scary, and full of emotion (b-b-but Moffat doesn’t do emotion, RTD does!), this is a bit of a cracker and shows so much of what Who can do squeezed into one episode.

The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit

“The Beast and his armies will rise from the pit to make war against God”. Genuinely unnerving at times. A real sense of stepping into a terrifying place that must not be uncovered. Even the bloody Ood are great, in their first story. One of a very few stories that actually has the power to scare grown adults. Wonderful.

SEASON THREE:

10 martha

This season is probably notable for three main things, that the show would go on without Billie Piper just fine, the first appearance of the modern series defining new monster, The Weeping Angels, and the introduction, to new series fans, of the Doctor’s arch nemesis, The Master. AND OH MY GOD THAT MOMENT IN UTOPIA! THE WATCH! YANA! GAAAAHHHHHH!! Yes.

Human Nature/Family of Blood

Adapted by Paul Cornell from his own Virgin New Adventures novel, this is amazing, scary, emotional stuff. And boy, was Baines a terrific, creepy baddie. And that ending! The Doctor’s cruel punishments. Yes plz. Why has Cornell not been back since?!

Blink

“Don’t even blink.” The Weeping Angels take to the stage for the first time. Some quite like this one, so I’ve heard.

SEASON FOUR:

10 and donna

Tennant’s last season, and the return of Donna. This was my fave 10th Doc/Companion combination, and a nice freshening up of the relationship after the love story of the Doc and Rose, and the unrequited love of Martha. Two mates, travelling through time & space, fighting monsters.

Silence in the Library

“Spoilers”. I recall thinking the Donna season was  ‘fine’ up to this point. Oh, I was enjoying things, and loved the Doctor/Donna partnership, but this story really took things to a whole other level, as so often happens when Moffat’s name is up front as writer.

Midnight

Boy, a real belter this from RTD, delving deep into the ugly side of human nature and the pack mentality. And who knew a woman repeating what you were saying could be so shiver-some? I really like many of RTDs episodes, but it would have been great to see him dip into this well a few more times.

SEASON FIVE:

11 Amy

CHEAT TIME – This one gets three in recognition of it being THE BEST MODERN SEASON OF WHO.

Seriously.

It is.

I AM CORRECT.

What a glorious year for Doctor Who. This is when things could have gone completely tits up. RTD and Tennant had left the building. Would the show be able to survive? Uh, OF COURSE.  And so we got that Doctor, with those companions, the tone, the new Showrunner unleashed from single stories to run riot on a whole season; and it all rests upon the shoulders of three titanic stories:

The Eleventh Hour

It’s just beautiful. And the finest introduction story for a new Doctor ever. It just fills me with a giddy joy. The stakes were high with this one, new Doctor, new head writer, new producers, new companion, new, new, new. The opportunity for this to be ‘the great stumble’ were sky-high. Of course, they bloody nailed it. Amazingly so.

The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone

The best Weeping Angels story so far.

YOU: “Wait..! The best?! Wuh-Wuh-What about ‘Blink?!” *Puffs on asthma inhaler*

ME: “What can I say, I’m a sexy, handsome rebel.” *Puts on shades and revs motorcycle*

Yes, obvs, ‘Blink’ is amazing, but you know what..? I liked their second appearance even more. No, it doesn’t lessen the Angels. Hush now. It’s Moffat off the leash again, and I love it.

The Pandorica Open/The Big Bang

“We’re all stories, in the end.” STILL the best season finale we’ve had, this. God, but it’s thrilling, big, confident stuff. And I love how we go from the big, noisy, colourful Pandorica and its epic series of giant cliffhangers, to something that feels much smaller. And the Doctor, crumpled, by young Amelia Pond’s bed. Beautiful.

And to think that mixed in among these episodes were the likes of The Lodger, The Beast Below, and Vincent & the Doctor. Incredible stuff.

SEASON SIX:

DOCTOR WHO SERIES 11.2

Alright everyone, hows about you layoff season six, yes?! We cool?! This season comes in for some serious stick, and it’s easy to see why. It’s not, I would argue, because there are loads of dud episodes contained within, no, it’s entirely down to the heavy arc nature of the run. This is the risk you take if you have a heavy arc season. If the arc, for whatever reason, doesn’t quite satisfy, or doesn’t seem to stick the landing, the whole season is tainted by association. Because let’s be real and funky-fresh for a second: there is LOTS of very good Doctor Who in season six. Don’t let the squashed ending or lack of satisfying emotional follow through on the River revelation blind you to that.

But which are the two stand outs?

The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon

Remember when you watched the first episode of season 6 for the first time? BLOODY HELL! I was astonished, surprised and thrilled and had to watch it all over again as soon as it was finished. No one but Moffat can write Who like this.

The Doctor’s Wife

Neil FREAKIN’ Gaiman, yo. Good lord. This is a beautiful story. My fave moment? The end, the Doctor happily twirling around the console. THE FEELS. To have a talent such as Gaiman working on our little, daft show is incredible (and, uh, proof positive with his next story that even the greats can stumble and fall into a fresh, moist pile of bottom droppings).

SEASON SEVEN:

DOCTOR WHO BEHIND THE SCENES IMAGE

Season seven. Bit of an odd fish. Despite the Clara mystery kicking off right from episode one, it really does feel like two separate seasons. The Pond farewell tour, and The Impossible Girl series. And sandwiched in between, a Christmas special..! This can make season seven feel bitty, not a satisfying whole. Despite this lack of unity, there are lots of good episodes lurking within.

Episodes like:

Hide

Yeah, the happy sappy ending is a little disappointing (just let a scary-ass monster be a scary-ass monster already!), but otherwise this is a lovely, spooky thing. And those scene’s in the forest with the Crooked Man are creep-tastic.

The Name of the Doctor

That pre-credits sequence alone is worthy of a round of applause. The Doctor catching River’s hand, another round. That Hurt reveal, my hands are now starting to ache from all this clapping. It’s just good stuff, and sets us up wonderfully for:

50th Anniversary

50

The Night of the Doctor/Day of The Doctor/Time of the Doctor

There was so much room for disappointment with this one. Really, the chances of ‘failure’ were exceptionally high, Moffat must have felt immense pressure. And then he only went and pulled it off. (read what I had to say about ‘Night’ here) A glorious trio of treats. Yeah, I know some of you aren’t keen on ‘Time of’, but you’re wrong, dog-food face!

SEASON EIGHT:

12 & Clara Crouch

Season eight is remarkable. It’s remarkable because, eight full seasons in, it delivers perhaps the most consistent seasons since the shows return. And it’s also remarkable because it feels so different to the Matt Smith years, but is helmed by the same head writer. Somehow, with the introduction of a new Doctor, Moffat was able to shake up his game and deliver something fresh. Something with the flash and bang of his own run, combined with the focus on character and emotion that characterised much of RTDs run. Well I suppose this must have pleased many of those who loved RTDs run but constantly yak on about Moffat being the Devil who should be sacked immediately because fan entitlement, right? Ha-ha-ha-ha, no. Of course not. Because those people are nuts.

Deep Breath

I wrote about Capaldi’s first episode here, and my admiration for it has only grown with each new viewing.

Listen

IT’S AMAZING. Some people don’t agree. These people are clearly Koo-Koo. I love this story. It’s scary, exciting, beautiful, and more besides. In any list of my favourite Who stories, it would make a strong case for being number one. Go HERE to read me gush some more.

CONCLUSION:

There have been LOADS of awesome Who episodes. Far to many to make it onto this list. Oh, and that it’s quite clear I’m a shameless Moff fan-girl. SHAMELESS!

So these are the correct answers, but what would you put on your (probably (definitely) wrong) lists?

@DoctorWhoThing

Doctor Who Thing Facebook

pssssst: Out of the Specials year? Duh, it’s ‘Waters of Mars’, dummy!


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A Decade of ‘New Who’

Eccs

Well, I didn’t see this coming ten years back.

When Doctor Who first returned, my greatest fear was that it would immediately fail. I didn’t have any worries about the content, that I would dislike it, that it would be a big pile of TV-Poop, I just didn’t want to see it linger unloved for a season or so and then be  shuffled off-screen once again. Unloved. Unwatched. An embarrassment.  If that had happened, I don’t think we would have seen it come back for a long, long time. Perhaps not at all in my lifetime.

Of course, quite early on the announcement came that it was being commissioned for two further seasons, so I could rest easy. Whatever happened, I was getting three full seasons of new Who. Since that point, I’ve never felt the need to worry or obsess over the shows safety. There’s been no point where it’s failed to pull in a substantial audience and left itself open to questions about its future (whatever some dumb-dumbs might try to make you believe).

TEN YEARS. Which TV Shows last ten years? Especially on UK telly? Especially-especially UK sci-fi/fantasy?! It’s outlived three shows created to sit in its place during the off months, and still shows no signs of slowing down.

I was recently on top-dog Who podcast Reality Bomb discussing (badly) ten years of new Who, and I commented that the moment where the new series really bedded in for me, really made me feel like I was going to be all in on this newy-new version of my beloved show, was ‘Dalek’. There’d been tone issues for me once or twice before this point, ol’Burpry Bin, Cartoon-Plastic Mickey and farting Slitheen, but with ‘Dalek’ came an episode I wanted to hold tight.  It seemed perfect, and did what many thought impossible; it made the Daleks a credible threat to new viewers. It didn’t even try to radically overhaul them, it trusted the original design and instead just wrote a damn fine episode. (Also, the swiveling mid section, THAT WAS COOL AS HECK, why did they forget that so quickly?!) I enjoyed much of what came prior, but this was the first one to truly blow me away. And, of course, then we were treated to the likes of ‘The Empty Child’, ‘Fathers Day’ and ‘The Parting of The Ways’.

(Speaking of ‘The Empty Child’, if you’ve read any of this blog, or my tweets, then you may have been able to read between the lines and guess I’m something of a Moffat fan, but when he was first announced prior to season 1? NOPE. Oh, I enjoyed his comedy work, but I just could not understand how that guy was now writing for Doctor Who. The ‘Coupling’ guy? Mr ‘Chalk’?! Welp… what a dummy I am. From his first story, he knocked it out of the park, and is now way up there with my favourite Who writers. From ‘The Empty Child’ to ‘Blink’ to ‘The Eleventh Hour’ to ‘Listen’, he’s written some of the finest Who we’ve ever had.)

TEN YEARS..!..!

Sorry, still rolling that number around me bonce.

(Yes, this post is something of a ramble)

RTD, Eccs

So why has it managed to survive for so long? What were the early decisions that allowed a wide general audience to grab hold of our show again and hold it tight to their hearts?

Firstly, RTD really nailed what Who needed to become in order to thrive in the modern TV landscape. All of time and space, monsters, adventure, laughs and scares were all well and good, but you needed more than that. You needed characters that LIVED. Cutouts wouldn’t do, a lack of a real interior life, we needed characters we believed in, that had an emotional life and relationships that made viewers care. That made them invested in these crazy adventures.  RTD knew this and so we got a war damaged Doctor, and a companion in Rose that people could relate too, that had wants, needs, a disappointing life and, quite importantly, a family.

Many classic Who fans often derisively dismissed this fleshing out, the focus on the companions none-TARDIS life and family, as ‘soap’. These people should be avoided at all costs. 

Next, RTD made sure this was still a show for all the family. It would have been very easy to have made the show for adults, it’s probably what many classic Who fans would have done. It’s what I would have done. We’re all idiots. That would have been a HUGE MISTAKE. RTD knew this, part of the shows magic was that it was a show for everyone. Not just kids, not just adults, but all of us.

Well done RTD, you clever man.

My last high-five is to the man who sometimes feels like the half-forgotten man of Modern Who, Christopher Eccleston. When he was announced as the Doctor I was knocked for six. For so long the part had been seen as a bit lightweight, whenever names for new Doctor’s were raised in the press, they’d mention the likes of magician Paul Daniels and hairy lifeguard David Hasselhoff. They were mocking the role, basically. And then Eccs was announced, a serious, respected, ‘real’ ACTOR. This was a statement of intent. This show was not a joke, it was here to be taken seriously. I’ve no doubt that his involvement turned many peoples heads and allowed them to give the show a chance. He gave it some extra legitimacy.

Many bemoan the fact he left so swiftly, and seems reluctant to return, or even really talk about the show, but PHOOEY to them. He did what was needed, did it brilliantly, and we owe him a lot.

On that same podcast I mentioned earlier, I chose a defining moment in modern Who. No, it’s not from a Moffat story, I like other episodes and writers too, ya jerk. It’s from that first season. It’s the cliffhanger to ‘Bad Wolf’, the penultimate episode of the season. That exchange between the Doctor and a Dalek, that stirring, heart in mouth back and forth encapsulates so much of the show and of the Doctor. It’s a chaotic, brave man, willing to throw himself headfirst into the jaws of almost certain death without weapons or a plan in order to help out another. I’m not ashamed (okay, I’m slightly ashamed) to admit that I literally punched the air during it. I have not done so before or since. Because that reaction’s kinda weird. But yeah. This moment pulled it out of me.

TEN YEARS……….

Happy birthday Doctor Who. Still the best story world ever, ever.

Here’s to many more.

@DoctorWhoThing

Doctor Who Thing Facebook


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Season 24 Report

doc mel

Den Of Geek recently published an article showing the BBC Audience Report for Doctor Who from 1988.

It does not make pleasant reading. In fact, it basically squats over our favourite show, relaxes, and unleashes a steady torrent of bum solids.

Some who don’t care for the McCoy era have pointed to this report as validation; just today I was listening to (a great) Who podcast and one of the hosts was understandably revelling in the piece slightly. But this report isn’t slating the McCoy era, it’s slating season 24. There’s a difference. There’s a difference between slating one season and the whole of the McCoy era, and there’s a HUGE difference between season 24 and the two seasons that followed. For me, it’s almost two different eras. How can you sit ‘Time & The Rani’ next to ‘Ghost Light’???

Look, I’m not here to make any great claims for season 24, I don’t despise it as some do, but I’m not an idiot, I can see the season for what it is. And, of course, there’s a few good reasons why it came out the way it did. Season 24 was made in a mad scramble. When Cartmel came aboard there was no Doctor, one script (which he disliked but had no choice but to go with due to time issues) and production running at full pace towards him, screaming. There was no time for fine craft, only to get something, anything, in front of camera. You know what did happen once they had a little more time and more of the pieces already in place? ‘Remembrance of The mother-cocking Daleks’.

Well… okay sure, there were still stumbles in seasons 25 & 26, but they were vastly outnumbered by the great. By ‘Survival’. By ‘Fenric’. By ‘Greatest Show’. And, yes, even by this sexy beast:

Kandy

So yeah, this titchy article is basically me being irked by hearing some of the reaction to that report and feeling the need to bat down a few of the crowing hordes with a rolled up newspaper (that I’ve dipped the end of into a bucket a rat pee). People pointing out season 24s deficiencies does not make you ‘right’ about the McCoy era. (In fact, there is no ‘right’, they’re stories, like em if you like em, don’t if you don’t.) Season 24 isn’t the McCoy era, it’s part of the McCoy era. The shaky first steps.

The best was yet to come.

@DoctorWhoThing

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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

@Doctor Who Thing Facebook


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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. 

@DoctorWhoThing

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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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