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Alex's Thoughts
My blog, where I talk about my thoughts. I think about all the important things in life - namely, television and other such media. Usually Doctor Who, although other TV shows can and do turn up on occasion.

To see posts on certain subjects, take a look at the index - that's where all my own posts are logged.


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The NewWho Reboot

I’ve been thinking, on and off, how I would have rebooted Doctor Who back in 2005. It comes from, I think, my recent watching of the 2005 series.

Obviously, I really liked the 2005 series. I’ve spent the last couple of months singing its praises, after all. This isn’t, I hasten to add, me saying that my version is better (which makes a change) because… it’s not meant to be better, just different. 

The Continuity

One of the big things RTD did was the Time War. He removed the Time Lords, he removed Gallifrey, he removed all the things which had become the trappings of the last few years of the show. (As much as I love 80s Who, even I’ll admit that they took it too far sometimes with the continuity and the references) 
Neil Gaiman has said he’d do the same, as has Steven Moffat. Paul Cornell did something similar with Scream of the Shalka, but not exactly. 

I love the Time War. I think it was a really great invention, it’s given some really great stories over the years. Fantastic concept, and some great drama.

But. 

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#NewToWho: Doctor Who Primer

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All of time and space… everything that ever happened or ever will… where do you want to start?

So, I’ve been thinking about doing a post like this for a while, and then the doctorwho tumblr have started their whole “New to Who” week, so I thought now might be a good time to actually get on and write the post.

Here I’ve got a list of episodes that I’d reccomend to someone to try and start getting them to watch Doctor Who, or for someone who’s only watched a few episodes. They’re meant to be a quite diverse set of episodes, showing the range of the show, and the potential for different stories. 

I’ve selected stories from each Doctor, and I’ve included a few episodes of the classic series for good measure. Generally, I’ve leaned more towards the episodes which are less arc-heavy, more standalone (so nothing from Trial of a Time Lord, nor The Pandorica Opens, both of which would have perhaps been contenders), and I left out the three ‘Doctor-lite’ stories, since they aren’t really indicative of the usual Doctor Who fare, no matter how good they all are. (Especially Love & Monsters, which is fantastic.)

New Who

The Unquiet Dead

The first episode on the list is and episode from the 2005 series with the Ninth Doctor. It’s a historical story with Charles Dickens, and some aliens that are similar to ghosts. I recently wrote a relatively in-depth review of the episode, but one of the reasons I like it so much is because it has a central theme which is very much at the heart of all of Doctor Who; overcoming cynicism to find wonder. 

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When the First Doctor takes Ian, Susan and Barbara to the Caribbean at the height of the slave trade, the old maxim of “You can’t change history, not one line” is challenged…

I wrote this story… getting on a year ago now, more or less. While I’d started it earlier, by the time I finished it, I decided that it’d be a 50th Anniversary celebratory story.
At time of writing I was also reading the Target novelisation for The Dalek Invasion of Earth, which had quite a large influence on the characterisation of the leads and the style of prose.
I’m quite pleased with it, as it goes. It’s by no means perfect, obviously; I think that Susan doesn’t have a big enough part, and Barbara probably isn’t characterised perfectly. I’m also a teeny bit worried now, in hindsight, that some of the historical aspect isn’t handled quite as sensitively as it should have been; the details are all correct, but the presentation might not be quite right.
On the whole though, I’m proud of it.

When the First Doctor takes Ian, Susan and Barbara to the Caribbean at the height of the slave trade, the old maxim of “You can’t change history, not one line” is challenged…

I wrote this story… getting on a year ago now, more or less. While I’d started it earlier, by the time I finished it, I decided that it’d be a 50th Anniversary celebratory story.

At time of writing I was also reading the Target novelisation for The Dalek Invasion of Earth, which had quite a large influence on the characterisation of the leads and the style of prose.

I’m quite pleased with it, as it goes. It’s by no means perfect, obviously; I think that Susan doesn’t have a big enough part, and Barbara probably isn’t characterised perfectly. I’m also a teeny bit worried now, in hindsight, that some of the historical aspect isn’t handled quite as sensitively as it should have been; the details are all correct, but the presentation might not be quite right.

On the whole though, I’m proud of it.

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Doctor Who Series 8 Trailer

I am properly excited for this, in a way I haven’t been for ages. Even with the 50th Anniversary, and Time of the Doctor, I was feeling a bit trepidant, a little anxious. With this one though, I am totally, unreservedly excited. It’s going to be amazing.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Peter Capaldi in the role. That seems quite obvious, everyone is. But from this trailer, it looks as though he’s going to be quite similar to what I was hoping for his Doctor. More mature, a little bit on the morally ambiguous side. Someone quite reserved, in contrast to Matt Smith’s Doctor. I’m leaning towards the word “unflappable” actually. Yeah, unflappable.

The "Am I a good man?" stuff seems really, really interesting to me. I like the more reflective stuff, where you have to actually weigh up the good of the Doctors actions. (I swing between loving the idea of the Doctor as simply trying to do his best, and loving the idea of him trying to do his best, but making it worse). 
I’m hoping that that’ll be quite important in the series as an overarching theme, and maybe, maybe that might lead into a Valeyard story. But I do get the feeling that I’m pushing it a little bit with that.

The rest of the trailer looks pretty good as well. Daleks, back again. I understand they’re in Phil Ford’s episode, so I’m confident that’ll be a good one. There’s a dinosaur, which really just speaks for itself. And! Some cool new aliens that we don’t know about, which is all untold possibilities and new and wow.

So… roll on August 23rd. I really, really can’t wait.

On Agents of SHIELD, Coulson’s Big Reveal, and Story Arcs

So, Agents of SHIELD. 

I watched the show each week, more or less. It was… variable for the first few months, but after a while it did pick up in quality. Certainly by the end, it had gotten quite good. Not perfect, admittedly, but quite good.

But! I think that it could have been better. Obviously. I am arrogant like this, and believe everything could be done better if it was done my way. (It could be)

Here, specifically, I’m thinking about something which occurred in the closing scenes of the finale episode, so… spoilers, I suppose, possibly. I left this a while to make sure that wouldn’t be an issue, but it’s always possible. 

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Goodness, that "Boom Town" review just brought the Nine feels rushing back....


I feel like I should have seen this before and already responded to it, but I honestly don’t remember getting it until now. Odd that. Anyways.

Thank you for your message, first of all! Glad you liked the review. (I feel like I should take this opportunity for some shameless self promotion and to reccomend you look at the rest of them for more stuff about Nine)

Boom Town was a great episode, one of my favourites of the series. Very enjoyable to watch and review.

Alex. 

Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor: The Doctor Himself

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This is what I wrote, way back when I first started on these reviews, months and months ago. Quite a long time ago really, thinking about it. 

The Ninth Doctor is, for me, a bit of an oddity. He was the first Doctor I ever saw, true, but I only caught the very end of his tenure - Bad Wolf was my first episode, and then a week later the Doctor regenerated. So, I’ve not exactly got a big emotional connection to him.

As well as that, I don’t tend to watch his episodes very often, so I’m not all that familiar with them - I know the basic plot and sequence of events, but there’s lots of little things that surprised me when watching Rose for this review. 

That, coupled with his relatively short run, means I’m just not quite sure about him - sure, he’s a good Doctor, but how good? If I were to one day rank the Doctors, where would he stand on that list?

Here I am now, 13 episodes and several months later. I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on the Ninth Doctor now, as it goes. He’s not an oddity anymore; he’s a really fantastic Doctor.

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After 15 years producing top audio drama join us in wishing #bigfinish a Happy Birthday. www.bigfinish.com http://thndr.it/SsSvCuwww.bigfinish.com http://thndr.it/SsSvCu

After 15 years producing top audio drama join us in wishing #bigfinish a Happy Birthday. www.bigfinish.com http://thndr.it/SsSvCuwww.bigfinish.com http://thndr.it/SsSvCu

Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor: Series Overview

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So, with the series over, I thought it would be a good idea to do a sort of retrospective on the series itself, as well as a sort of analysis on the marks I gave each episode, and how it averages out across the series.

First of all, then, are the marks given to each episode, in chronological order.

  1. Rose | RTD | 7/10
  2. The End of the World | RTD | 8/10
  3. The Unquiet Dead | Mark Gatiss | 8/10
  4. Aliens of London | RTD | 7/10
  5. World War Three | RTD | 7/10
  6. Dalek | Robert Shearman | 10/10
  7. The Long Game | RTD | 7/10
  8. Father’s Day | Paul Cornell | 8/10
  9. The Empty Child | Steven Moffat | 9/10
  10. The Doctor Dances | Steven Moffat | 9/10
  11. Boom Town | RTD | 8/10
  12. Bad Wolf | RTD | 9/10
  13. The Parting of the Ways | RTD | 10/10

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I made a graph, to make everything look more official and analytical.

It’s very obviously quite a strong series, never getting less than 7/10, although admittedly there are quite a few of those. There’s some obvious stand outs, and some obvious patterns.

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The Ninth Doctor’s series really is packed full of little things, isn’t it? In those reviews, I was routinely saying “no, as much as I loved this, I can’t list every little thing, otherwise I’d end up with a dissertation”.

But there’s one thing that stood out to me, and I really wanted to mention, and it’s been playing on my mind for a while now. It’s a simple line, one of Captain Jack’s, but he says it twice in two different episodes.

"See you in hell."

And that’s just it. Four words. But in context, they mean so much.

Jack says them first in Boom Town. It’s jokey, it’s fun. It’s a bit of signatory dialogue, a statement about who Jack is and how he lives his life. It’s also a bit of a joke between them as a group, harking back to how friendly and comfortable they were together at the beginning of the episodes.

Then again in The Parting of the Ways. But it’s very, very different there. It’s not said with the same bravado, it’s said with a slight swallow. His voice almost cracks. There’s a smile, but it’s very melancholy. Because here, on the cusp of Dalek invasion - a gritty, brutal, last stand - it’s a goodbye.

Jack’s referencing back to their past adventures, to the fun they had. It was a joke between them. And maybe it’s the last time they’ll make that joke. 

And that is brilliant, brilliant writing. It’s things like this that make RTD, in my opinion, such a great writer. You wouldn’t necessarily notice it unless you watched the episodes close together (and, admittedly, it didn’t click for me until after) but it really… resonates. Yeah. It resonates.

It’s been a whole year of sitting doing nothing. Huh. 
It feels like something of an achievement actually. A whole year is rather a long time. And I’ve written some interesting things, or at least I’d like to think so.
How long before I can start making money off of it though?

It’s been a whole year of sitting doing nothing. Huh. 

It feels like something of an achievement actually. A whole year is rather a long time. And I’ve written some interesting things, or at least I’d like to think so.

How long before I can start making money off of it though?

Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor: The Parting of the Ways

It was a better life. I don’t mean all the travelling and seeing aliens and spaceships and things. That don’t matter. The Doctor showed me a better way of living your life. You don’t just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You make a stand. You say “no.” You have the guts to do what’s right when everyone else just runs away, and I just can’t!

I feel… I feel weirdly nostalgic actually. As though I’ve come to the close of a great adventure. That’s a slightly ridiculous thing to say really, but it’s true. I’ve now completed the Ninth Doctor’s era. All 13 episodes, tied up in a neat little bow. One complete run.

But it’s not quite over yet. The Parting of the Ways. Christopher Eccleston’s final episode. The swansong, as it were.

The swansong - the only song and swan can sing, in its final moments - is supposed to be the most beautiful song sung by any bird. (I think so anyway, I might be misremembering. It doesn’t really matter though, it fits the point I’m trying to make)

And you know what? This really is a beautiful episode.

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I was thinking about internet criticism, and the nature and validity of it… and, well, I wanted to write about it. Besides, I also have homework to do, so it’s a great avenue of procrastination.

Anyway, I was scrolling through my dash, and I came across a post from the Explore blog (I couldn’t get a link to work). The basic gist of it is advice for dealing with criticism from the internet, but there’s one bit that jumped out at me - Actually, Brené Brown said it best: ”If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

And that bothered me actually, I didn’t like it. Whilst I understand where it comes from and what the point is… I don’t agree at all. (The rest of the post was actually kinda okay)

Dealing with criticism is hard. Some people take it better than others. And, yes, a lot of the time you do have to be quite discerning of which criticisms you actually pay attention to, and which you simply disregard.

But! Here’s where I’m not all that impressed. When you’re discerning which criticisms to listen to and which not to, you shouldn’t make that decision based solely upon the fact it comes from the internet. That’s a pretty ridiculous thing to do, I think, to deride and ignore something simply because of the platform upon which it originated.

Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t be cautious of things that originate from the internet, because, yeah, sure, there are a lot of idiots out there who don’t know what they’re talking about, and just repeat things they don’t quite understand because they think it sounds smart. Or worse, the aggressive ones, who just get a kick out of being cruel to people.

But for every one of those people, there are all the people who do know what they’re talking about. Articulate, eloquent, well spoken people, who can give insightful and often witty commentary. And you know what? A lot of them are people with no further qualifications than owning a blog. They’re the people who are, as it were, outside of the arena, and not getting their asses kicked.

I don’t really think that matters either though. Whilst having done something can help, I don’t think you actually have to be in the ‘arena’ to be capable of offering comment.

I mean… I’m awful at football. I have very little interest in it, but I know enough about how it works to be able give some sort of critique of how someone plays. Work as part of a team, shoot in the right goal, pass this way rather than that, etc.

Maybe it’s a poor analogy, but I think the point I’m making stands.

You don’t have to have ever made a film to criticise one.
You don’t have to have ever written for TV to criticise someone who does.
You don’t have to have ever written a book to review one.

Just because something is on the internet, by someone who isn’t in a particular field… that doesn’t mean that the person is unqualified to have an opinion. Now, yes, maybe you’re going to have more useless or wrong criticism on the internet, because there is so much of it… that doesn’t mean you should just take it all and ignore it all.

But hey, maybe I’m just being arrogant. It’s been known to happen before, on occasion. I am, after all, one of those people with no greater qualification than a blog, yet I think I could’ve made a better Superman movie than Man of Steel, or that I could write better scripts than some Doctor Who writers.

So who knows?

Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor: Bad Wolf

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Someone’s been playing a long game. Controlling the human race from behind the scenes for generations.

Ah.

Bad Wolf.

I’m feeling rather sort of nostalgic actually. Bad Wolf was the first episode of Doctor Who I ever watched, more or less. (I’m not 100% sure, more like 90%, but this is the episode I consider to have been my first one). Nine years ago today, give or take an hour, I started watching Doctor Who. I’ve passed a point where Doctor Who has now been a part of my life longer than it hasn’t been. That’s just mad to think about. 

And, as first episodes go, it was one hell of an episode, wasn’t it?

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Nine Years of the Ninth Doctor: Boom Town

Let’s see who can look me in the eye.

This was the bottle episode. The cheap one, where they had to save money. There couldn’t be an Auton invasion of London, or a spaceship crashing into Big Ben. Platform One and assembled aliens were both out of the picture, as were WWII and Victorian Cardiff.

But… Doctor Who has a very long history of taking monetary limitations, and coming out with something fantastic. The chameleon circuit and the Police Box shape, for example, was borne out of a lack of money. And that’s become one of the show’s most enduring images. (I like to imagine the explanation of the chameleon circuit and the TARDIS exterior were because this was the ‘cheap episode’, and that’s why they exist)

So… cheap. Yeah. But… so what?

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