Classic Rewatch: The Web of Fear

Web of Fear

There’s so much to love about the Troughton era in total, but as a result of the travesty that is the bemoaned “lost episodes”, we have limits to the amount of televised footage that we can truly enjoy in its full form, as it aired. At this point in our trip through the (nearly) complete classic Doctor Who stories, the episodes we spin up are like little 22-minute gifts. And I (Keir, hullo!) may be speaking for myself here, but this is one of the greatest gifts we can unwrap. The TARDIS Team is in great form, the supporting characters are diverse and wonderful, the challenge of getting to and confronting the “big bad” is circuitous and complicated because of a genuinely challenging game of finding the traitor amongst the troop, and the Yeti are…well, let’s face it. They’re adorable killing machines, aren’t they? Almost like Sweetums, from the Muppets…

This week, we square off once again with the Great Intelligence, but with the newly arrived Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, as we face “The Web of Fear”. With twists and turns (both figuratively and literally), deaths and danger, scientific development under pressure, and a Welsh comic relief that deserves Shakespearean praise, this is one you can enjoy time and again. And we do. Often.

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The Elevator Pitch of Doom

Elevator Pitch of Doom

All you wanted was a simple trip down to the ground floor, to grab a fresh cuppa from the fairly trustworthy cafe before dashing back up to your hotel room. Little did you know that when the doors closed, you’d find yourself next to none other than the head of programming for [insert really hip television network here]! Brain reeling, you see this as your big chance to lay out your ideas for that program that you’ve always wanted — but you only have until the lobby light illuminates to make your plea. How are they going to know how desperately you want to see that obscure but compelling character cross over into a new viewing experience? Think fast, O Ye Representative of All Fandom, think so very fast!

This week, we’re playing a little innocuous game dubbed ‘The Elevator Pitch of Doom’, in which we are given a smattering of supporting Doctor Who characters, and have to find ways to utilize them in new program genres and script applications, thus ensuring that the televised world never goes a moment without Whovian influences throughout. It’s for the greater good, after all. THE GREATER GOOD.

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Classic Rewatch: Tomb of the Cybermen

Tomb of the Cybermen

There are Doctor Who stories that you keep on a short list of those to recommend to the uninitiated or under-exposed, in hopes of winning them over to the fandom. Often these stories have a solid amount of explanation for newcomers, a solid plot and conflict to hold interest, and a degree of plausibility that will keep skeptics and critics at bay. There are also those installments of DW that are one’s personal favourites, for a myriad of reasons, that may not be sound candidates for the aforementioned ‘introductory’ list, because they either rely too heavily on existing knowledge of the characters and relationships, are not approachable enough for the uninitiated, or are not ideal representatives of the series as a whole. Sometimes, however, the paths converge, and you have an adventure that is nothing short of wonderful for any viewer.

This week, we revel in the simple perfection that is the fifth season classic, ‘Tomb of the Cybermen’. Enjoying peak performances from Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines, a thorough but not overly complex script from Pedler and Davis, great supporting cast, and a thoroughly enjoyable ‘upgrade’ to our titular villains, it is a staple of our new viewer recommendations, and simultaneously one of our most treasured classic Doctor Who adventures.

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Let It Be Written

Doctor Who Writers

We are appreciators, enthusiasts, and fanatics of certain television programs due in no small part to the captivating nature of the stories they tell. They are the creators and builders of worlds, the artists that add color, detail, and depth to an audio-visual experience that captures our imaginations, stimulates our minds, and often touches our hearts. With over 250 televised stories within Doctor Who, how does each writer put their individual and unique mark upon the tale being told? Can a producer or showrunner look to a repertoire of wordsmiths, knowing which ones can fulfil certain wishes or needs for the program’s trajectory in a given season? What aspects of fledgling writers stand out to make them ideal candidates to be given a first opportunity to write for the program?

This week, we look at the contributions of a series of beloved Doctor Who writers, classic and new, veteran and freshman. We discuss the nature of their individual craft, what impact their stories had upon the DWU both within their respective seasons and beyond, and what adept skills many of them demonstrate when penning a script for the Doctor. From the prolific Robert Holmes, to the acclaimed Paul Cornell, to brilliant newcomer Sarah Dollard, the pen so often proves mightier than the sonic screwdriver.

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Classic Rewatch: The Ice Warriors

The Ice Warriors

So it seems that Scooby, Shaggy, and the gang have found a mysterious shape embedded deep within a block of glacial ice. Velma’s and Fred’s insatiable curiosities are piqued, and simply have to know what…or who…is trapped within. Nothing to fear, though, of course. Whatever is in there, if it ever was a living thing, has to be long dead by now. Right?

The plot may begin with a rather recognizable trope by modern standards, but with the Second Doctor adventure, ‘The Ice Warriors’, the premise was far more original and, dare we say, fresh. (We’re not sorry. We never apologize for puns.)

This week, GPR East and West (Keir and Haley) enjoy the four surviving episodes and two animated recreations of ‘The Ice Warriors’, and discuss the thematic statements about nuclear winter, modern dependence upon technology, and what hundreds or thousands of years trapped in a glacier apparently does to one’s vocal chords. (Hint: Varga won’t be touring with an a capella group any time soon.)

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