The Lie of the Land

The Lie of the Land S10E08

Trust, integrity, and the validity of information are all points of intense focus in today’s news, a modern world where we are finding the delineation between fiction and fact is perhaps as subject to bias and personal interpretation as such benign topics as one’s opinion on culture or entertainment. Who is the standard-bearer of truth, then, if such a single source can even be identified? Whom can we count on?

And where, for crying out loud, is UNIT in all this?

Putting the capstone on the series 10 trilogy, our TARDIS team directly contends with the Monks of Veritas in Toby Whithouse’s story, “The Lie of the Land”. After Bill’s impulsive consent to allow these aliens to take over our world (and history) to an Orwellian nightmare of a result, the situation is intensified when the Doctor appears to be…well, indoctrinated. We discuss the episode compared to its two predecessors, the overall story arc, the Monks as a villain, and the absolutely incredible performances of Michelle Gomez and (our absolute star of this series) Pearl Mackie.

Extra Segment: We ask for listener contribution (here in the comments, email, voicemail, or via any social network of your liking) on the topic of a social relevance “agenda” in recent Doctor Who series. Does such an initiative exist, as you see it? If so, does it add to, or detract from your enjoyment of Doctor Who? Is this a recent development, or something older? Your contributions and comments now will be part of an upcoming in-depth discussion, with some fantastic guests from the Whovian community!

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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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Before the Flood

Before the Flood

In 1941, esteemed science fiction author Robert Heinlein published a short story titled “By His Bootstraps”. In it, a scholar Mr. Wilson writing a thesis on metaphysics and time travel, is met by individuals claiming to be from the future. After a series of argumentative and even physical confrontations, Wilson is brought to the future and becomes a man of great power, and realizes after some period that he must inherently become one of those individuals venturing back to meet his former self, and ensure the process occurs as it had. The story concludes, however, with his reflection on who (if anyone) first set him on the path to future greatness, if he himself was the one who continually circles back to assist his ‘predecessor’.

Toby Whithouse has taken this inspiration and forged a conclusion to the previous “Under the Lake” ghost tale that is not only unexpected, but when viewed as a two-episode set, makes for a most glorious return to the timey-wimey story manipulation that so many Whovians revel in. What we thought we understood of a deep-sea siege with spectral overtones suddenly becomes a paradoxical challenge to the Laws of Time, and our good Doctor once again has to stare hard at the immutability of the “known future”, the morality of “risking one to save all”, and other elements of Doctor Who that make for most enjoyable episodes…and series.

This week, we stare into the dead eyes of our own electromagnetic residual images in “Before the Flood”, and wonder if the Bootstrap Paradox and its seemingly inescapable causal loops are the greater villain than the underutilized Fisher King.

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Under the Lake

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When there’s something strange, in your subaquatic base, who you gonna call? It’s a long-established tradition that the Doctor takes some satisfaction in debunking claims of ghosts and ghouls, explaining them away as anomalies in an individual’s progression through time, residual echoes of energy in the continuum, or simply a hologram that Old Man Crebbins was using in the barn to keep those meddling kids away from the abandoned amusement park. So what happens when the first person to emphatically (and enthusiastically) embrace the ‘ghost’ explanation…is the Doctor?

This week, we plunge into the murky depths of a Scottish loch with Toby Whithouse’s first script for Series 9, Under the Lake. From the uncomfortable but necessary ‘authority check’ between Doctor and Clara, to the spooky cliffhanger that will have us questioning everything for another week, we’re continuing to love the tone, format, and direction of the new series in its entirety.

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