Daleks, Time Lords & Limp Lettuce

Underwhelmed Face

Underwhelmed Face

“Totally underwhelming”.

There, I’ve said it. Don’t hate me. But that’s what I think about the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special. Let’s be honest, The Day of the Doctor was a bit like eating a salad with no vinaigrette – it was a bit lacklustre. And it’s a shame because it all started off so well…

Dumpa-de-dum, Dumpa-de-dum, Dumpa-de-dum, Diddley-dum…

First of all, we were treated to the original opening titles – the very same ones that introduced Doctor Who to world back in 1963. It was wonderful to see those iconic swirling patterns in all their black-and-white beauty flickering across the screen.

Likewise, hearing Ron Grainer’s eerie masterpiece made me do a little bit of a geek wee – that pulsing electronic baseline and swooping organ-like melody still stands the test of time 50 years on. It’s my all-time favourite TV theme tune, piping Juliet Bravo and Treasure Hunt to the post.

More nods to the past then followed with a knowing wink given to die-hard fans by way of references to the junkyard at Totter’s Lane and the Coal Hill School (both of which featured in the show’s first-ever episode, An Unearthly Child).

Gripping Stuff

We were then catapulted across the stars to the Doctor’s home-world. Here we got to see the oft-quoted Time War between the daleks and the Time Lords. And credit where credit’s due – the invasion of Gallifrey was spectacular. The shots of the dalek fleet pounding Arcadia and the Capitol were a veritable feast of pyrotechnics and CGI wizardry.

Let’s not forget the superb dialogue in the Time Lord high command which injected a real sense of foreboding, desperation and urgency – the likes of which I haven’t felt since I visited the Churchill Cabinet War Rooms in London.

The trailer really did showcase all the best bits…

Not So Hot

However, from there on in it all went a bit pear-shaped. What followed was about 30 minutes of padding which went something like this…

  •   Supposed light relief courtesy of an asthmatic boffin in comedy glasses and, for some strange reason, Tom Baker’s scarf
  • Lots of running around the bowels of a rather studio-looking art gallery 
  • Redundant appearances from old foes the Zygons who, let’s be honest, were far more menacing back in 1975
  • A distinctly wooden and Welsh-sounding portrayal of Elizabeth I which frankly should be consigned to the far reaches of Barry Island, never to be seen again

Perks Up Again

Fast-forward through all this fluff and you get to some good stuff towards the end of the episode. We discover that John Hurt (who out-acted Tennant and Smith with just a raise of an eyebrow) is actually the 9th Doctor, which I’m guessing means we need to shunt Messieurs Ecclestone, Tennant, Smith and Capaldi back a digit each. Plus we get to see all the incarnations of the Doctor come together to save Gallifrey via some rather cool computer trickery.

Would You Like A Jelly Baby?

One thing I’m sure most fans will be waxing lyrical about is the appearance of Tom Baker. While I appreciate this nod to the classic series, the cameo kind of left me cold. After all, my Doctor was Peter Davison and so I didn’t really feel the connection.

Feel the Peter Davison love...

Feel the Peter Davison love…

On A Level With American Life

In short, The Day of the Doctor is no Caves of Androzani, no Talons Weng Chiang, no Blink. It had its moments but in general felt a little bit flat. It reminded me how I felt when Madonna released her American Life album – I was desperate to like it but just couldn’t, try as I might. Testament to this is the fact I’m really not that bothered about watching The Day of the Doctor again on catch-up. Normally I would have seen it about five times by now.

Happy Birthday To Ya!

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The fact that Doctor Who is still going strong at 50 is one hell of an achievement. So, despite the rather limp lettuce outing ce soir, let’s raise a glass to everyone’s favourite time-travelling hero.

Happy birthday Doctor Who – here’s to the next 50!

(And hopefully some better scriptwriting)

PS: Did anyone see the embarrassment that was the Afterparty on BBC Three this evening? Stephan Moffat‘s face on the live link with One Direction in LA kind of said it all.

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Mini-me, Closets & TV Gold

The Tardis

The Tardis

Note: Apologies for the radio silence for the past few months. I’m commuting between Paris and London at the mo and so don’t have quite as much time for blogging as I’d like. However, what with this weekend being super special and all, I’ve found the time to write a post about something very dear to my heart…

Grandma’s House

When I was a kid, I used to play in an odd little room in my grandma’s house. It was a kind of hallway that connected the lounge, the downstairs loo, the spare bedroom and the boiler room. When you shut all four doors, it created a sort of cupboard that you could stand in.

Air-raid Shelter vs Police Box

My gran used to seek refuge in this bizarre closet whenever there was a storm – she was scared stiff of thunder and lightning as the rumbles and flashes reminded her of the Blitz. While she viewed this hallway as a bomb shelter, I regarded it as something quite different. To my mind it was Doctor Who’s TARDIS.

My TARDIS

I spent whole summer holidays holed up in that strange space making ear-piercing ‘vworp-vworp’ noises. In my head, the kitchen stool I used to set in the centre of the room was actually a shiny six-sided console alive with twinkling lights and whirring dials. And it goes without saying that this wardrobe-like room was bigger on the inside than the outside.

Scroll to 0.46 for mini-me (well kind of…)

50th Anniversary

Fast forward 30 years and while I might not shut myself up in cubby-holes anymore, I’m still just as captivated by Doctor Who. And I’m incredibly excited about this weekend. In case you’ve been living under a stone for the past few weeks and failed to notice the BBC’s publicity juggernaut in action, this Saturday will mark the 50th anniversary of the sci-fi show.

All-star Cast

The one-off special, called The Day of the Doctor, will feature the present incumbent of the Doctor, Matt Smith, team up with his predecessor, David Tennant, and former companion Rose Tyler, AKA Billie Piper. As if that wasn’t enough, veteran actor John Hurt is set to play a version of the Time Lord known only as the War Doctor.

The Night of the Doctor

Last week, the Beeb gave us a little bit of an insight as to how Mr Hurt’s incarnation came into being thanks to an online mini-sode called The Night of the Doctor. It included none other than Doctor Who No.8, Paul McGann. I’ll be honest with you, when I watched it I squealed like a girl and a bit of wee came out. Here it is in case you missed it…

An Adventure In Space And Time

But that’s not all. Much like the ambassador, the BBC has been really spoiling us of late. Last night saw the screening of An Adventure In Space And Time – a drama that recounted the birth of the show back in 1963. The script was penned by Mark Gatiss of League of Gentlemen fame and starred the wonderful David Bradley as the late, great William Hartnell who was the original Doc. If you haven’t seen it yet I suggest you watch it on iPlayer pronto. Just make sure you have a hanky with you as it was really rather touching stuff.

Anyhow, that’s enough of my Whovian prattling for now. No doubt you’ll all be hearing from me again tomorrow once I’ve seen what’s billed to be the televisual event of the year!

Capaldi, Copycats & (Tenuous) Exasperdating

My geeky Dr Who T-shirts

My geeky Dr Who T-shirts

Well thank Gallifrey for that! After weeks of speculation (which even included Dame Helen Mirren being thrown into the mix) the identity of the new Doctor Who has finally been revealed.

Tah-dah!

Sunday night saw the BBC spill the beans as to who will play Doctor No.12 in a slightly spangly – and dare I say it, naff – one-off show. To be honest, Doctor Who Live seemed to have more in common with a brand launch than a casting announcement. And to top it off, it was hosted by that most dedicated and famous of Whovians, erm, Zoe Ball.  But I digress…

Star Appeal

The good news is that Peter Capaldi will be taking the helm of the Tardis when the present incumbent, Matt Smith, bows out on Christmas Day. I’m over the moon with this choice of actor. Anyone who’s seen Capaldi in The Thick Of It as the potty-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm will agree that he’s super-talented. His CV includes a BAFTA and an Oscar scoop.

Copycat Docs

Impressive credentials aside, I like the fact that Capaldi’s an older guy. Since Who’s return to telly in the noughties, there’s been a propensity to plump for younger actors in the lead role. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against younger actors playing the Time Lord – after all, my childhood Doctor was a then fresh-faced Peter Davison – but recent casting choices have, in my opinion, resulted in a blur of twenty-something, overly-similar Doctors. When Matt Smith took over from David Tennant I felt there wasn’t enough ‘difference’ between them. It’s as though the Beeb had found a winning formula by way of Tennant and so ran with it again…

WANTED!
Young and slightly gawky-looking foppish geek.
Must wear Shoreditchy outfits and have quiffy hair.
Love of running around quarries a distinct advantage.
Apply to BBC Drama.

Total Antithesis

I believe you need to have a break with the past to be truly memorable. Peter Davison’s Doc is a case in point. The main reason his incarnation worked so well was because it was so fundamentally different to what had come before. Davison’s portrayal as a preppy older brother stood in complete contrast to Tom Baker’s more bohemian-broody figure. The production team of the day knew that replacing Tom Baker with Tom Baker Mark II just wouldn’t work – instead there needed to be a real rupture. So fingers crossed the powers-that-be have got it right this time around and we’ll get a real shift when Smith regenerates into Capaldi later in the year.

Who’s Who?

Here’s the roll call of actors who’ve played the TV Time Lord over the years – it comes in handy at pub quizzes, let me tell you!

1) William Hartnell (1963-1966)

2) Patrick Troughton (1966-1969)

3) Jon Pertwee (1970-1974)

4) Tom Baker (1974-1981)

5) Peter Davison (1981-1984)

6) Colin Baker (1984-1986)

7) Sylvester McCoy (1987-1989, 1996)

8) Paul McGann (1996)

9) Christopher Ecclestone (2005)

10) David Tennant (2005-2010)

11) Matt Smith (2010-2013)

12) Peter Capaldi (2013 – ?)

Date With The Doctor

In (slightly tenuous) honour of Peter Capaldi’s unveiling as the Doctor, here’s an Exasperdating tale about a rendezvous I had with a real-life doctor…

Exasperdating Logo

Exasperdating | Posh Doc

Age: 27
Height: 5’9
Build: Slim
Hair: Black
Eyes: Blue

Job: Doctor

Doctor! Doctor!

Doctor! Doctor!

I’m munching on a Granny Smith as I pen this installment because, as the old saying goes, ’an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. And trust me, after this encounter, I’m steering well clear of men in white coats.

The Posh Doc wasn’t a one-off date. We’d kind of seen each other for about a month and a half earlier in the year but it had fizzled out. He wasn’t my usual type at all. While looks-wise he ticked all the right boxes – blue eyes, dark hair, a bit of stubble and geek-chic glasses – on the personality front, he was a bit too ‘rah’ for me.

Case in point: he had a nasty habit of saying ‘maaarvellous’ in a terribly high-pitched, horsey-teethed way that only people who’ve gone to private schools seem able to do. Plus he lived in a super-posh flat in an extremely exclusive part of London which I swear mummy and daddy had set him up in. Talking of which, and given that he was a doctor, you would think he’d have kept the gaff a bit cleaner. Frankly, some Cillit Bang wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Anyhow, fast forward six months and, out of the blue, he invites me over for dinner. One fish supper and two bottles of rioja later and we were, well, getting ‘reacquainted’. A couple of days later I dropped him a text to say I’d had fun and would he like to go out for drinks. To which he replied, “I’m a horny drunk. Sorry.” Now, while I may not be a doctor, I think this guy’s self-diagnosis was off the mark. Horny drunk? No, I think he was actually suffering from a nasty affliction called Complete Wankeritis, for which I’m pretty sure there’s no cure.

‘You will be Ex-asp-er-dated!’

The Daleks

The Daleks

The 23rd November. If this date isn’t already highlighted in your diary, stop what you’re doing, grab a big red marker pen and circle it immediately. Reason being, that’s the day you’ll need to stay at home, take the phone off the hook and settle down to watch the box – albeit from behind the sofa.

In case you don’t know, the 23rd November will mark the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. To celebrate this milestone, the BBC is airing a special episode exactly half a century since the show’s first outing back in 1963.

I noticed today the Beeb announced the daleks will be wheeled out of the props cupboard for this commemorative romp. But it’s not just those malevolent pepper pots that will be making a welcome return to our screens – David Tennant and Billie Piper will resume their roles as the Tenth Doctor and Rose.

All this Whovian hoopla got me thinking about another special date involving David Tennant – only this one is of the romantic variety and happens to include me…

Exasperdating Logo

Exasperdating | Tardis Boy

Age: 28
Height: 6’1”

Build: Toned
Hair: Brown

Eyes: Green
Job: Graphic Designer

The Tardis

The Tardis

Right, I’m going to fess up. I’m a closet geek. I’m a comic book-reading, Sci-fi Channel-loving nerd. And my drug of choice? Doctor Who. I mean, what’s not to like about a 950-year-old alien who flits around the universe in an old phone box?

Now, it’s my love of the dalek-battling Time Lord that kind of inspired this date. Normally, I wouldn’t entertain meeting up with someone who doesn’t live in London (this guy was based in Brighton) but I made an exception on this occasion. Why? Because this fella was the spitting image of David Tennant. So much so, in fact, that when I first met him I was slightly awe-struck and had to repress the urge to ask for an autograph.

Anyhow, once I’d got past the uncanny resemblance – and downed a couple of vodkas – I had a really fun night which included drinks at a jazz bar and then a bit of a snog-ette. The night ended with him catching the very last train home at stupid o’clock in the morning.

The next day I texted him. Nothing. I dropped him another text the following day. Still nothing. I couldn’t believe it. Everything had gone so well but now this guy had gone to ground. Ah well. That’ll teach me to date outside of my London bubble. And besides, what’s David Tennant doing these days, anyway? Oh, hai Matt Smith!