Monday, 30 July 2012

Doctor Who - Terminus By @The_Knights87

"We're on Terminus.  We're On A Lazar Ship. We're all gonna die!"

The second story in the Black Guardian Trilogy is Terminus.  While not one of the more spectacular stories from The Fifth Doctor’s era but it does have significance in the shows history.  Terminus is the story where Nyssa leaves the TARDIS crew to help and cure the Lazars. 

Yes the linking story is still present as The Black Guardian is still using Turlough as his tool to kill The Doctor.  This time Turlough tampers with the TARDIS and causes havoc with its space time element and causes the TARDIS to break up.  The TARDIS latches onto Terminus and door appears.  The Doctor tells Nyssa to go through it as she would be safer there since the TARDIS started to break up in her room.  Little did The Doctor know that the TARDIS latched onto a Lazar healing facility called Terminus and it happens to be located in the center of the universe. 

While not a memorable story it is an entertaining story.  Harking on real world problems like bad working conditions and workers’ rights Terminus tries to incorporate this into a story already filled with the Lazar epidemic and Turloughs sub story. 

With so much going on Tegan and Turlough are regulated to the sidelines as they spend most of the story in hiding or locked under the floor in the service area for most of the story.  Another thing about Terminus is that some of the costumes are pretty funny.  I am talking about the funky space helmets that are worn by Kari and Olvir who just happen to be very unlucky pirates.

Terminus, as it should, focuses all its attention on Nyssa.  Sarah Sutton swan song story just happens to be one of the best performances she gives while on Doctor Who.  Even though the story isn’t one of the strongest she still puts in a top notch performance.  Since it is just Nyssa and The Doctor together for the most part it makes you wonder what it would be like if was just the two of them traveling in the TARDIS instead of the crowded TARDIS for most of her tenure.

Despite its short comings Terminus is an ok story and one that would have been better if it wasn’t bogged down in the trilogy.  I think it would have been a stronger story if it was on its own and if Turlough wasn’t in it.   Being regulated with Tegan as being locked away in the space station as filler could have been done away with and perhaps would have made the story better.  Maybe making the Garm to look a bit more frightening instead of looking silly with its light bulb eyes would have helped also.

So join us for Terminus and judge for yourself.  Terminus is a story that is ok with some fine performances and some good moments.  Terminus also has one really touching farewell scene that is truly heart felt and sad as The Doctor is very moved by Nyssa’s departure.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

In Memory of Geoffrey Hughes- by Zeiton_7

"But the Junior Mr Popplewick isnt allowed to expect anyone"

Sadly I am writing this at  the end of a week which saw the tragic loss of Mary Tamm and now Geoffrey Hughes. Discussions with friends on Twitter would lead me to believe that, tragically, this will become an all too common occurrence.

To Doctor Who fans, Geoffrey will be known as the marvellously over the top character of Mr Popplewick. Appearing in the final story of the Sixth Doctor's Trial of a Timelord. Popplewick was a pencil pusher with more than a hint of malevolence about him. Put it this way, do not ever get into a waiting room anywhere near him!

Geoffrey Hughes was born on the 2nd February 1944 and started his acting career in repertory in Stoke on Trent. He starred in many on and off West End productions, most notably in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Television viewers came to love him as the slobbish Eddie Yeats, Stan Ogden's best friend, in Coronation Street and the equally slobbish but loveable Onslow in the BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances. Hughes made a number of film appearances including, Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall, Carry On at Your Convenience and provided the voice for Paul McCartney in the Beatles cartoon film Yellow Submarine

 My personal recollections started at an early age when my mum, an avid Coronation Street fan used to tune in every week. I remember being strangely drawn to the character of Eddie and, although he was a bit of a scallywag, there was something endearing about him. Later on I laughed like countless others at Onslow and even more at the character of Twiggy portrayed in the show The Royal Family

The common strand with all these characters is "larger than life" they were all so real but yet so eccentric. Hughes had a way of portraying the loveable layabout in a way that you never really questioned why his particular onscreen wife put up with him.

In later years Hughes could be seen regularly in Pantomime where audiences would again enjoy his manic over the top acting. It was something that delighted both television and stage audiences alike.

The death of Geoffrey Hughes is a tragic loss to us all. Trial of a Timelord is my favourite Colin Baker story and the character of Mr Popplewick is unforgettable like Hughes himself.
Please join us in the bar on sunday to celebrate this role as we watch The Trial of a Timelord: The Ultimate Foe. Bar opens at 7:30pm press play 8:00pm

Rest In Peace Geoffrey Hughes- 2nd February 1944- 27th July 2012

Thursday, 26 July 2012

In Memory of Mary Tamm- @zeiton_7

I awoke this morning with the shocking news that Mary Tamm has passed away. Aged only 62 she had been fighting a long battle with cancer. Twitter and the media are already full of wonderful tributes to this amazing lady and already I feel the, now all too familiar, pain of loss. It is a mark of how closely we hold Doctor Who and those who shape it to our hearts that we feel this type of loss so intensely.

Mary Tamm was born on the 22nd March 1950 in Dewsbury, Yorkshire. She graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and had originally not been interested in the role of Romana as she believed the role was merely "a damsel in distress". She was persuaded that her role would be very different to what had gone before as she was to be The Doctors equal. Romana was a Time Lady and was just as capable and intelligent as The Doctor. 

During her tenure with The Doctor she provided much onscreen tension as The Doctor struggled with a companion who knew as much as he did. There were also many lighter moments and occasions where there was a real affection between the characters. Mary Tamm left after completing only one season (the Keys To Time story arced season) She had originally mentioned that she would be willing to complete a regeneration sequence but wasn't asked to. Lalla Ward played the next regeneration and is introduced with no onscreen warning.

Many rumours as to why Mary left so soon were reported by the media at the time but she nonetheless went on to star in a number of film and television roles, notably playing the character Penny Crosbie in Brookside. Mary returned to the role of Romana with the Big Finish production Gallifrey during its second series and had completed interviews for the documentary "Stones Free" which was included in the DVD release of The Keys to Time.

 In 2009 Mary published her autobiography, First Generation, and tragically was unable to complete her story. The audio version of the autobiography was labelled as Volume 1. Mary Tamm was popular with fans of the show at conventions and always came across as friendly and approachable.

She will be sadly missed as we remember the legacy she has brought to Doctor Who. Without her there would be no Romana. The Bar would like to mark her passing with a special viewing of The Stones of Blood tonight at 8:00pm. Please join us to share your memories of a truly wonderful Time Lady.

Rest In Peace Mary Tamm-  22nd March 1950- 26th July 2012

Doctor Who The 80's By @The_Knights87

The Eighties The decade of gag me with a spoon, leg warmers, parachute pants, Duran Duran and of course Ronnie and Maggie. It was also the decade of the aids epidemic, Falkland Island War and of course the unfortunate Space Shuttle Challenger exploding on lift off.  The Eighties also gave us the last 2 Star War movies and a boatload of great movies like Raiders of The lost Ark, Star Trek 2, Blade Runner and a slew of others.  It was also a decade that saw four Doctors helm the TARDIS controls in Doctor Who and it was the decade that I got hooked on this wonderful show.

The Eighties in a nutshell was the end of an era the beginning of an era and a definite end of era.   The Eighties will forever be remembered as the decade that the show had its plug pulled.   After Twenty Six years on TV 1989 were the last time diehard fans watched the show for the last time. (Luckily it wasn’t.)   The show came to an end after episode three of Survival with the Seventh Doctor and Ace walking off into the sunset.  But we are getting ahead of ourselves.  Let’s go back to 1980 and the start of the decade.

This is the end of an era.  1980 was Tom Bakers last season as The Doctor. Season 18 was the season of change and new direction for the show.  John Nathan-Turner wanted to return to a more serious tone and away from the silly stuff that previous seasons had.  He also wanted to reign in his star and try to stop him doing goofy improvisation.  This act more than likely caused a lot of bad feelings and brought the end to the Fourth Doctor.  We may never really know why Tom Baker left but it could have been Tom Baker really hated JN-T, Tom was losing control of the way he used to do things, or he just didn’t want to be the Doctor anymore which is the one I always leaned towards.  

So season 18 began and Christopher Bidmeads entropy season heralded the beginning of John Nathan-Turner era of Doctor Who and also closed the chapter on one of the most beloved era in Doctor Who’s history and one of the most popular Doctor’s in Tom Baker.

This takes us to Peter Davison era of Doctor Who.  When it comes to The Fifth Doctor I’m a little biased.  Peter Davison is my favorite Doctor and I just enjoy watching his three seasons of stories.  Yes even Time – Flight. Well maybe when I’m punchy or want to do Mystery Theater 3000 to it.  But Peter Davison had the best run of the Eighties and his era is considered to have some of the well written stories in Doctor Who history.

If there is a negative about The Peter Davison years is that there were too many companions in the TARDIS.  For some reason or another JN-T wanted to have a crowded TARDIS and I thought that was a bit much.  Two companions ok but three just seemed to much as one would always be regulated to being captured or being left in the TARDIS to make something or other.  In other words one companion was the odd on out.

So they killed one off.  That’s right in the Eighties they killed off a Doctor Who companion for the first time since Sara Kingdom and Katarina way back in 1965’s The Dalek’s Master Plan.  Adric was the one to go and go he did by getting blown up trying to save the Earth from the Cybermen bomb in a spaceship.  The Fifth Doctor era also had an era of companions that were too intelligent.  Nyssa was almost on par with The Doctor that it seemed like they could have a conversation and forget to dumb it down for the audience.  Well luckily for us Tegan was around to ask the questions for us unscientific folk. 

The Davison era was also known for the Twentieth Anniversary celebration.  You see season twenty was a theme season in a way.  The theme was recurring enemies from The Doctors past.  Villains like Omega and a trip back to Gallifrey and The Black Guardian and a trip to Earth to meet new companion Turlough and of course visit the Brigadier.  Of course what season of the eighties would not be complete without The Master making an appearance.

The Davison era also had the second multi Doctor story The Five Doctor’s.  A wonderful story that celebrates the anniversary in style with at least four Doctors and one stand in for William Hartnell.  Old friends and old enemies to fight make this story a real gem in the history of Doctor Who and a great celebratory piece of its history.

We now move on to the third man to helm the TARDIS in the eighties and that man is Colin Baker otherwise known as the Sixth Doctor.  Another thing that was unique in the eighties.  The Davison to C. Baker regeneration was in the penultimate story of season twenty one.  His debut story The Twin Dilemma
was the closing story of the season.  This happened before in 1966 when William Hartnell passed the baton to Patrick Troughton at the end of The Tenth Planet which was the second story of season four. 

While not very well received The Sixth Doctor in The Twin Dilemma was very violent and boisterous. Having The Doctor choke Peri, while suffering from post-regeneration syndrome, was not a good way for the producer and script editor to get people to like the new Doctor.  

Colin Bakers first full season is a real gem of a first season.  He gets a crown jewel of baddies to go up against. Colin Baker goes up against The Cybermen to start it off and then The Master and the Rani and Sontarans and Daleks to finish it up.  Plus the Sixth Doctor is reunited with the Second Doctor and Jamie in an adventure that is filmed in Spain.  Unfortunately this would be Patrick Troughton last appearance as the Doctor as he would pass away two years after this story.  It was good seeing him in that restaurant as an Androgum with Shockeye having a feast.

Colin Baker’s first season had some controversy.  It was deemed too violent.  The BBC was not happy with the violence The Doctor was resorting to which resulted in the show going on hiatus.  The fans did rally to the Doctor’s defense and helped to get the show back on and thus helped save it from cancelation. 

The show would be retooled and brought back with season twenty three’s fourteen part story The Trial of a Timelord.  Gone were the forty five two part stories and now back to the traditional twenty five minute episode four part story.   The production crew cut down the violence and came up with a good idea for a season but the BBC was not satisfied.  Ratings were low and the morons at the BBC decided to fire Colin Baker.

In fairness to Colin Baker it was not his fault.  The BBC hierarchy had it in for the show and was looking for excuses to throw it to the curb.  The show had one more chance.  With a reduced budget and reduced amount of stories the show would enter the Sylvester McCoy era and enter the Seventh Doctor.

The one problem with the McCoy era is his first season.  It was a season that was planned for Colin Baker. At least the first two stories were. Then they had to do a redo for a new Doctor who they didn’t know how they wanted him to act like.   Plus Sylvester McCoy was handcuffed by his assistant Mel played by Bonnie Langford.   In fairness her character was horrible but she was supposed to be with Colin Baker not Sylvester McCoy so the chemistry was not there. 

But luckily script editor Andrew Cartmel fixed that by creating Ace, played brilliantly by Sophie Aldred, and changed the direction of the Seventh Doctor to be more mysterious, alien and darker.

But unfortunately it wasn’t enough as the fans weren’t there. What would you expect when the BBC schedules it against Coronation Street.  The BBC was really helpful there. The cards were really stacked against the show and the end was near.  Not even the Daleks, Cybermen or The Master would help. Sylvester McCoy’s different take on the Doctor would not be expanded upon and the show was taken off the air until its cameo appearance in 1997 and back for good in 2005. People blame Sylvester McCoy for the shows demise but that is truly unfair.  It was the BBC and the fact that he kept the show afloat for three years is a testament to his popularity.

The Eighties was awesome time for Doctor Who.  It gained popularity in the USA by showing the show on their PBS channels.  In fact that is how I got hooked on the show during the early eighties and have been with it ever since even during The Wilderness Years.  It was a time of celebration twice during the shows history for the twentieth and twenty fifth anniversaries.   It was also a time of bad times and conflict and at the end the demise of a great show.

While not a popular decade for Doctor Who it is a decade that I enjoy watching and have a warm spot for it in my heart.  Plus it is the only decade that can boast having four different actors playing The Doctor a feat that will never happen again.   So here is to the 80’s a decade that is rich with history and some great stories for Doctor Who.

"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea's asleep, and the rivers dream. People made of smoke, and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, and somewhere else the tea's getting cold! Come on, Ace - we've got work to do!"

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Mawdryn Undead by @The_Knights87

“I, Mawdryn, have returned. It is time for the awakening.”

Season 20 was a season that John Nathan Turner wanted to have things from the past return to Doctor Who to help with the celebration.  In Mawdryn Undead we have two figures from The Doctors past returning.  First we have The Black Guardian.  The Doctor first encountered The Black Guardian while he was searching for the Key to Time.   While it was in The Armageddon Factor that he tricked The Black Guardian (Who was disguised at The White Guardian) from getting the Key to Time it was this act that The Black Guardian swore revenge on The Doctor and threaten to kill him.

This takes us to now.  The year is 1983 and The Black Guardian is using a student at Brendon School named Turlough.  He is actually an alien from the planet of Trion whose family has been exiled.  The Black Guardian promises to take him away from earth if he does one thing for him.  Kill The Doctor.

At Brendon school teaching math is the other returning character from The Doctor’s past. It is none other than Brigadier Lethbridge – Stewart who is a dear old friend of The Doctor’s and doesn’t seem to remember quite who he is.  Definitely a dilemma for The Doctor as he has also lost his TARDIS with Nyssa and Tegan back in 1977 with a younger Brigadier.  Plus there is the threat of Mawdryn pretending to be an injured Doctor and who wants the Doctors remaining lives to help his fellow comrades to die.

Mawdryn Undead is a pretty good story with some interesting things going on it.  You have the two Brigadiers on the star liner trying to not meet and cause damage to the time lines and you have Turlough attempting to kill The Doctor to no avail for The Black Guardian.  

Mawdryn Undead is a pretty good story with some interesting things going on it.  You have the two Brigadiers on the star liner trying to not meet and cause damage to the time lines and you have Turlough attempting to kill The Doctor to no avail for The Black Guardian.   This trilogy gets overlooked quite a bit but these three stories are some of the Fifth Doctors better adventures and it starts off with a nostalgic trip down memory lane for The Doctor as he is reunited with The Brigadier for the first time since Terror of the Zygons way back in series 13.  So I hope you join us for this Peter Davison adventure Mawdryn Undead this Wednesday July 25th.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Peri-Practically Perfect in every way by @zeiton_7

"So what! I'm Perpugilliam Brown, and I can shout as loud as you can!"

The year is 1984, its Season 21 in the Doctor Who universe and The Doctor is losing companions left right and centre! The fourth story of the season, Resurrection of the Daleks, saw the departure of Tegan (no comment required) and The Doctor is about to lose both Turlough and Kamelion by the end of the next story (Planet of Fire). In addition to this distressing turn of events Peter Davison had announced his intention to leave as well, Caves of Androzani is scheduled as his regeneration story. So the program needs an entirely new set of main characters. We already know that Colin Baker will helm the Tardis as The Sixth Doctor but who will accompany him?

Enter Perpugilliam Brown (or Peri to her friends) a young, attractive girl in her early twenties played by the actress Nicola Bryant. When we first meet Peri she is studying botany but is clearly unhappy with the path her life is taking. She encounters Turlough in the most dramatic of occurrences as he saves her from drowning during the opening episode of Planet of Fire. After Kamelion is deleted, to use a modern cybernetic phrase, and Turlough returns to his people Peri decides to travel with The Doctor to "see the universe". Thus begins, arguably, one of the most abrasive relationships that the Tardis and The Doctor have ever experienced.

You see, Peri isn't just a pretty girl (and she is very very attractive) she is headstrong, intelligent and not the sort of companion who will merely decorate The Doctor's arm. Lets face it she needs to have her wits about her. The Doctor's regeneration from Fifth to Sixth is anything but smooth! Unlike the calm and peaceful Davison, Baker's Doctor is moody, prone to abrasiveness and at the start thoroughly unstable. He may go down as the first Doctor in history to actually try and kill his companion, something which he later on is thoroughly remorseful for!

Not a great start for a new Doctor/Companion relationship you will agree! Yet, once The Doctor has settled into his new regeneration, this relationship becomes touchingly close. I love the scene at the beginning of The Mysterious Planet, the first story in The Trial of a Timelord season, where Peri and The Doctor are walking arm in arm across Ravolox. Their conversation and body language convey two beings that are exceedingly close and, for the most part, enjoy each others company. It's true to say this touching scene is soon after ruined by The Doctor's inability to show empathy with Peri's distress that Ravolox is Earth. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that their relationship works so well. Dispite The Doctor's frustrations with Peri's "silliness" and Peri's annoyance with his pig headed, sometimes brusque, attitude they clearly have a lot of respect for each other.

Cynics among you may suggest that this closeness was being emphasised to further underline the hard hitting exit Peri has at the end of Mindwarp. It certainly does do that! Peri's execution at the hand of King Yrcanos was certainly shocking. I remember watching in disbelief as the companion, who if truth be told was my first television crush, was brutally murdered. This seemed to shock Colin Baker as well, its his fault that Peri's exit was re written to end with a rather, unbelievable, marrying of Yrcanos (Brian Blessed- really??).

Peri is also well known for wearing exceptionally skimpy and revealing outfits, to appeal to the father and teenage boy viewers no doubt, and lets be honest it worked. Historically, female companions have, for the most part, been pleasing on the eye but (like Sarah Jane Smith and Liz Shaw) before her, Peri has also the brains and intellect to match. Her verbal sparring with The Doctor is some of the best in the programs history to date and is what, in my view, elevates Peri to a top companion spot!

By the time we reach Timelash, Peri's outfits have been made considerably more conservative. John Nathan Turner is on record for stating that she was cast to add more sex appeal but this doesn't diminish because her clothing is increased! Indeed, it is my view that a feisty companion who is not afraid to speak her mind is far more attractive than mere eye candy. The Doctor needs someone who can keep him in check sometimes and this is something we see with the Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond.

So to conclude, Peri is a fantastic companion who compliments Baker's Doctor perfectly, Nicola Bryant  is a tremendous actress who has gone on to reprise the role through Big Finish audio productions on more than one occasion and still to great effect. As Nicola tweeted @thedoctorwhobar herself when asked what her favourite story is:

"That is for you to decide"

Please watch the winning Peri story in our Peri Poll on Saturday. Bar opens at 7:30pm and we press play at 8:00pm. Bikini or beach wear optional