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Doctor Who: The Monster of Peladon (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Monster of Peladon originally aired in 1974.

Oh, have a heart, Sarah. I’ve been meaning to pay a return visit to Peladon for ages.

I can’t think why.

– the Doctor and Sarah Jane

What made The Curse of Peladon so fantastic was the fact that it felt so unique and different, as compared to all the Third Doctor adventures that had appeared before. Sure, the Doctor had travelled in time and space in Colony in Space, but The Curse of Peladon was really the first time that the colour television series had indulged in designing a truly alien world populated with truly alien creatures. Since the series had begun transmission in colour with Spearhead from Space, there had been nothing quite like it, and that was what made The Curse of Peladon so refreshing.

As such, the idea of doing The Monster of Peladon seems a bit questionable, especially when it’s going to feature the same world, the same aliens and be two episodes longer than the original adventure.

Not an underrated gem, I'm afraid...

Not an underrated gem, I’m afraid…

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Doctor Who: The Vampires of Venice (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Vampires of Venice originally aired in 2010.

Tell me the whole plan!

One day that will work.

– the Doctor

The Vampires of Venice is interesting because it looks very different in 2013 as compared to when it was originally broadcast in 2010. In 2010, it looked a bit overly familiar, a collection of the tropes and storytelling tricks that we took for granted in the show under Russell T. Davies. The elements felt, at the time, a little over-familiar. Indeed, it seemed like Toby Whithouse’s script owed a great deal to his earlier adventure School Reunion.

However, Doctor Who looks very different in 2013. The show has definitely radically changed, so that these familiar plot points don’t seem quite so familiar any longer. Whereas The Vampires of Venice didn’t feel so strange after five years of Russell T. Davies, it does seem a bit more unique after three years of Steven Moffat. It doesn’t seem so much an attempt to repackage these story elements as it does one final celebration of them, a fond farewell to many of the narrative bits and pieces that we’d come to take for granted.

How times change.

A late-night bite...

A late-night bite…

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Doctor Who: The God Complex (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The God Complex originally aired in 2011.

It’s time we saw each other as we really are.

– The Doctor

It really is like the McCoy era all over again, isn’t it? The Impossible Astronaut gave us a scheming and manipulative Doctor. Night Terrors felt like it was drawn from the same cloth as Survival, with the faintest trace of Paradise Towers. Here, we get to revisit the ideas at the heart of The Curse of Fenric. Moffat’s second season has really been about the writer defining his own way of making Doctor Who, following a debut season that followed the same structure as the four years overseen by Russell T. Davies.

Here, Moffat is deconstructing the myth of the Doctor, in a way that draws on and contrasts with Davies’ “the Lonely God”, without going to the excess of “the Time Lord Victorious.” Indeed, with the whole dynamic between the Doctor and Amy drawing on one careless miscalculation the character made, changing a young girl’s life forever, one can’t help but wonder if there was more than a hint of truth in what the Doctor confessed to Amy to break her faith in him. “I took you with me because I was vain,” he tells her, “because I wanted to be adored.”

More than ever, it seems there’s a bit of truth in the Doctor’s admission that, “I’m not a hero.” Russell T. Davies has the Doctor follow a similar trajectory, albeit on a larger scale – episodes like Midnight and The Waters of Mars represented massive failings on the part of the Doctor. Moffat draws on the same sort of idea, but renders the Doctor’s failures much more intimate. It isn’t so much that the Eleventh Doctor fails to save the world or defeat the monster, it’s that he fails the people close to him so frequently and thoroughly.

You can check out any time you like, but you may never leave…

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