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Strangling Peri

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“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!

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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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