Nu-View #17: The End of Our Beginning


Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways (Series One, Eps. 12-13; 2005)
Viewed 20 Mar 2014

Doctor/Companion: Nine, Rose Tyler
Stars: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper
Preceding Story: Boom Town (Nine, Rose)
Succeeding Story: The Christmas Invasion (Ten, Rose)

    The Doctor plops himself down into a big, red comfy chair in the Diary Room, looks straight at the camera, and declares in disbelief, "You have got to be kidding!" Oh, Doctor... How could you predict my reaction to this past weekend so perfectly?

    As the Ladies sit down together to watch the final two episodes of Nine's all-too-short tenure, I'm finally happy and relaxed. I've spent a frantic week preparing to put our house back on the market, and it's finally wrapped up; the listing will go live the next day. The only downer is knowing we're saying goodbye (again) to the Doctor who started my love affair with this whole crazy show.

    We're all ready for a good time. As the TARDIS crew each settle into the games in which they've been inserted, the quips fly around the room. Trin-E and Zu-Zana use the defabricator on Jack, who then assures them, "Ladies, your viewing figures just went up."

    jA's eyes sparkle. "I'd like to be watching that channel!"

    Over with the Anne Droid, Rose's competitor Rodrick (played by Paterson Joseph, an actor whose name has popped up now and again in "who could be the next Doctor" lists) explains the most basic rules of the Game Station to her. "It's play—or die."

    "Sounds like it's play and die," corrects jE.

    When the tension rises, though, we fall mostly silent. I can't help but admire RTD's skill with a slow burn. He knows how to reveal each plot point, little by little until the audience comes to the obvious conclusion just as we're meant to. The story is lent even more gravitas by Eccleston's masterful performance. He is powerful here, a man visibly damaged by his recent history.


    Nu-View #16: Dining with the Enemy


    Boom Town (Series One, Ep. 11; 2005)
    Viewed 11 Feb 2014

    Doctor/Companion: Nine, Rose Tyler
    Stars: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper
    Preceding Story: The Doctor Dances (Nine, Rose)
    Succeeding Story: Bad Wolf (Nine, Rose)

      The fact that we happened to watch this particular episode the day before I left for Gally was totally fortuitous for me. Among other things, having it fresh in my mind helped me appreciate having Annette Badland (who played Margaret / Blon Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen) at the con.

      Better yet, the re-watch reminded me what a profound episode it is.

      It begins with a reminder of how we first met the unfortunate Slitheen family. "I hate those guys," interjects jA. "They're ishy." And it seems "Margaret" hasn't changed much beneath, even if she has taken on an air of public service, heading up the Blaidd Drwg project.

      And so it proceeds, though the first half of the episode is mainly the slightly silly, doesn't-make-sense-if-you-look-to-hard fare we've come to expect from Who. RTD exhibits a bit of a tin ear for dialog in a place or two—e.g., when Blon takes Cathy the reporter to the loo with her, so she can shed her skin suit and kill the woman, then makes a seemingly rude noise upon entering the stall. Cathy comments, "Sounds like we got here just in time!" Incredulous, jA asked, "Who does that?" Perhaps we can give RTD a pass on that one, though, as he's presumably never experienced a communal ladies' room moment firsthand.


      Retro-View #15: A Gentle Passing


      The Caves of Androzani (Story #136, 1984)
      Viewed 29 Jan 2014

      Doctor/Companion: Five, Perpugilliam "Peri" Brown
      Stars: Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant
      Preceding Story: Planet of Fire (Five, Peri, Turlough)
      Succeeding Story: The Twin Dilemma (Six, Peri)

        Given that Caves is generally viewed as one of the (if not "the") best stories in Doctor Who's entire fifty year history, I had really been looking forward to sharing it with G. That pesky "Real Life" (RL) thing keeps getting in the way of our viewing, though. Not only has it been three months since we last got together, but this may well be our last session for a good long time, due to other RL obligations. Good thing we had something meaty to tide us over.

        As usual, I spent a few minutes updating G on the various changes in the TARDIS crew since she last tuned in. Tegan and Nyssa have moved on, as has a completely different Companion whose entire tenure was between these episodes (that'd be Turlough; I didn't even bother with Kamelion). And when it came along, I mentioned how Davison himself had wanted an explanation for the dratted celery he'd been wearing these past few years, and that's why we got the whole bit about if it turns purple.

        Mostly, though, the first episode of the serial was spent getting back into the groove and noticing all the stereotypical details. There was an "Eew!" at the cave bat/magma creature/whatever-we're-calling-it and a laugh out loud at the ensuing panicky gunfire from the humans. There was an "Ooh, that was weird" at our first sight of Sharaz Jek and a "Boy, those are some hairy fingers. ... Got the wolfman going here" at a subsequent one. And there was the observation of the obligatory set up: "Every show starts out with a misunderstanding of who he is..." By the time we'd made it to the first cliffhanger, we were back in the swing of things.


        Nu-View #15: Reliving "Everybody Lives!"


        The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances (Series One, Eps. 9-10; 2005)
        Viewed 19 Nov 2013

        Doctor/Companion: Nine, Rose Tyler
        Stars: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper
        Preceding Story: Father's Day (Nine, Rose)
        Succeeding Story: Boom Town (Nine, Rose)

          After seven months' hiatus (yes, I know—dirty word), the Ladies are finally back together to watch the Ninth Doctor again. They began the evening in high spirits. "I love coming back to this season; it's what I fell in love with," jA declared, and jO and I gave knowing nods.

          Speaking of things we love, jA needed her memory jogged. "Is this where Jack comes in?"

          "Oh, yeah," came jO's appreciative affirmation.

          After that, there are surprisingly few comments; mostly we're all more interested in watching the action unfold. Now and again, though, something will trigger a comment.

          For instance, when the Doctor explains his consternation to Nancy ("It's not a real phone; it's not connected."), jE quickly adds, "Neither am I." Or when Nancy and her little band of kids settles down to someone else's dinner, jA observes, "That's a lot of place settings for a family of, like, four..."

          Mostly, I keep my thoughts to myself, not wanting to interrupt the others' enjoyment of the show. I can't help thinking, though, what a minx Rose is, or how Moffat won a writers' bet by working "Chula" into one of his scripts, or how full of British patriotism this episode it ("a mouse in front of a lion"). And even though the CG is already pretty dated, eight years down the road, Dr. Constantine's transformation is still utterly horrifying. That's body horror at its best.


          Retro-View #14: Taken in Stride


          Earthshock (Story #122, 1982)
          Viewed 22 Oct 2013

          Doctor/Companion: Five, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan Jovanka
          Stars: Peter Davison, Matthew Waterhouse, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding
          Preceding Story: Black Orchid (Four, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan)
          Succeeding Story: Time-Flight (Five, Nyssa, Tegan)

            It's been four months since G and I last sat down together to watch Doctor Who. A lot has happened both in our daily lives and in the life of the show. In our flurry of catching up, the latter got lost; I never did tell her about the amazing episode recovery announced earlier this month. I did, however, manage to explain a little bit about the Cybermen.

            One of the many reasons I chose this particular serial to screen for G next is that our methodology—viewing introductory and final stories for every Doctor, with one or two "representative" stories in between—has meant that she's missed out on the Doctor's epic struggles with some of his most iconic foes. She only met the Daleks a few sessions ago in Genesis, and until now, she'd never come across the Cybermen. So it was predictable that the "big reveal" at the end of Part One—when it turns out the Cybermen are behind it all—didn't get much of a reaction: "Okay, now we're to the silver guys."

            You see, since the Cybermen are all over the DVD menu, she'd seen them ahead of time. I'd had to explain who they were, and that the Doctor had come across them often before (though it was quick). So her reaction was completely unlike any fan who watched it at the time ("Cybermen! They haven't been seen for years!") or even a post-Hiatus fan otherwise unfamiliar with pre-Hiatus stories watching this one without spoilers ("Hey, Cybermen! I guess the Doctor did say that one was an 'old friend'..."). In fact, I had to remind her that these were, in fact, the Big Bad; she'd been hoping for some sort of pyramid scheme in which we'd keep finding another kind of mechanical creature behind the last, as the Cybermen had been behind the androids in Part One.



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