Doctor Who Review : The Romans

So we all settled down to watch The Romans at the end of our “Hartnell appreciation days”.

How did it go down on the forum?

It got a very positive review from everyone, an interesting story split into two parts. It proved the strength of having such a large TARDIS team as well.

The story was set just before Nero burnt down Rome, the TARDIS tumbles off a cliff and the TARDIS crew take a holiday in Rome. Well not quite in Rome… The Doctor and Vicki get split up from Ian and Barbara and all of them have a quite different adventure.

Whilst The Doctor and Vicki have it pretty easy, pretending to be would-be assassins (without knowing) and a world class lyre player. Their adventure is quite light hearted and fun.

On the other side of the coin Ian and Barbara are taken captives, Ian is to be a Gladiator and Barbara ends up as Nero’s wife’s slave. In a fit of coincidence the two of them are reunited before being able to escape Nero’s plans on murdering the both.

The two stories are very different, the darker story of Ian and Barbara is quite nicely combined with the much lighter Doctor’s story. The two balance each other out so that the story didn’t become too dark or too light. Not only that it gave the story much more time to show the two sides of ancient Rome. The slaves/Gladiators vs the royalty and upper classes. The way Nero acts to each character speaks a million words more then anything else. The four different stories are interesting to follow and the story ends up turning into something quite wonderful.

The biggest enjoyment of the whole episode was the relationship between Ian and Barbara, it is nice to have two people just be friends, they made the story and worked wonderful as companions. They didn’t just follow the Doctors every word and they both managed to get out of their predicament without anyone else having to save them.  Their stories are two that are told everywhere, the Roman slaves and Gladiators but it wasn’t downplayed, OK it made light of and didn’t go into depth to what would have usually happened to someone like Barbara but it worked in its own way.

We also enjoyed the wonderful comic acting of Derek Francis as Nero, his timing was perfect and brought so much life to those little moments that would have been lost with anyone with a face with less character. Him and his wife Poppaea were wonderful characters, even if Nero played to the comedy and Poppaea to the darker side of the story it showed how little regard to life they had and how their ego’s were more important then anyone else.

It is hard to watch any Doctor and not compare them, I loved the dark humour of Hartnell, having a chuckle in the face of danger and not really letting the plot upset him. He just went from one random situation to the other, for him it was like reading a book, he was never really a part of it so none of the terrible things could happen to him. He didn’t mind upsetting Nero, didn’t run when told he was faced with the Arena… He just laughed it off and went along with it so that he could see history working. Vicki was the perfect companion for him on his quest.

None of us had really seen much of Hartnell so we were very much surprised at how much he’d mellowed out from the original stories where he was just rude and abrasive most of the time. Now, he still is a grumpy old man and still has his moments, he very much is in charge and wants everyone to know that, but he is much softer with Ian and Barbara, treating them more like his children then his prisoners. His relationship with Vicki is much like it was with Susan.

We all enjoyed the episode so much we went straight to watching another Hartnell serial that we hadn’t really seen (some of us had it tucked away for Christmas, others borrowed them off of friends) and it gave us a greater appreciation of the man who started it all.

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Our Doctor Countdown 5 : Christopher Eccleston

Christopher Eccleston, the Ninth Doctor

EcclestonWhen Doctor Who came back in 2005 Christopher Eccleston played the Time Lord and introduced him to a whole new generation. He only played the Doctor for a solitary series in 2005 but he made it up to 5th in our countdown.

Why?

Maybe it is as simple as loving Eccleston himself anyway. He brought a lot of what we love about him to the Doctor, his wit, his goofiness but also his darker side.

His series wasn’t to all of our tastes but one thing we do usually agree with is that what we did enjoy was his portrayal. He was an interesting choice for the Doctor especially bringing the show back, he’s quite a big star without being massive and is also a very Marmite actor at times. His relationship with Rose was probably what made the show as popular as it was, the series for the first time really was about the journey of his companion and not the Doctor so new fans were able to see the Doctor through someone else’s eyes instead of alongside the Doctor and it worked. Even if Eccleston didn’t stay around for long.

What did we like about the Ninth Doctor?

It is hard to say, in his one and only series we have a little more to talk about then Paul McGann but at the same time it seems very little. His face when they shoot the pig-man-thing is one moment that I’ll always remember, it reminded me how great Eccleston can be when he wants to be.

Unlike Tennant for me his relationship with Rose didn’t make me want to cringe inwardly, it was quite sweet, the only time I had a problem with him was his over reaction to Adam, not that I liked Adam (he bloody annoyed me!) but at the same time it was unneeded, especially as Rose wasn’t quite as perfect as he seemed to think she was (and what was with her stupid face during the whole of the taking Adam home crap?) It was bearable.

I’d love to see the return of the Ninth Doctor as I feel we had so much more to see of him. It is a shame that he only got the one series, but even with farting aliens the series didn’t suffer (I quite liked the Slitheen to be honest!) and we got a new, new Doctor who went on to be one of the most popular ever in David Tennant.

You can’t forget just how important Chris is though, his Doctor was the one that made us love the Doctor again.

Our Doctor Countdown 6 : Patrick Troughton

Patrick Troughton, the Second Doctor

TroughtonAfter Hartnell left instead of end the series they cast Patrick Troughton as the Second incarnation of the Doctor, he started work in October 1966 and left in June 1969 in the War Games.

The heart breaking truth of it is that seeing we weren’t alive back then to see his episodes live unfortunately there has of yet been little to no chance of seeing most of the Second Doctors tenure as the episodes have been lost to us after the BBC wiped them. Thankfully, slowly, his episodes are being found and with rumours that the last two serials to be returned (Enemy of the World and Web of Fear) not being the only episodes found we could broaden our Troughton viewing in years to come.

But for now he sits at number 6.

He is a well loved Doctor for each of us, we all love his incarnation a lot. We love the wackiness he brings to it but also the ability to switch it on and off like a tap. HE can be deadly serious, pull a funny face, then scare you to the bone. The Second Doctor is the one that we constantly compare the Eleventh too, their comedy is much more physical then most of the other Doctors but they have such a deadly side to them that it usually a good disguse, play up to the funny side of yourself then let rip with a quite terrifying darker side.

The biggest strength his series had was a long standing companion in Jamie. He was with the Second Doctor throughout most of his tenure, he wasn’t the smartest of companions, coming from the 18th century and not knowing anything about gadgets of any kind he was the companion that needed to be taught, but at the same time he would call the Doctor out whenever he was getting too big for his boots.

It is a great shame that there is so many missing episodes from his time as the Doctor because what we have got is magic, and the find of Enemy just proved this. In Enemy he plays both the Doctor and Salamander (the bad guy) and does it perfectly, both characters don’t feel similar at all even with the same face and you are easily able to forget it is the same man playing both characters. Salamander can’t be any different from the Doctor if you tried, he is the complete opposite and it is wonderful to see him play the part, it showed how straight he could act given the time to do it, but I’m happy that he played his Doctor with more humour.

For a Doctor that we don’t know much about at times he makes the biggest impact on people. Such a wonderful Doctor. And if anything he had one of the hardest roles to play in the series, if people didn’t believe he was the Doctor then the show would have ended with him and would probably be mocked as “that show that tried to change the face of their main character once” instead it worked wonderfully to the point that we’re making this countdown on the 50th anniversary of the show that he gave so much heart to.

Our Doctor Countdown 7 : Colin Baker

Colin Baker, The Sixth Doctor

C.Baker

I’m sad I couldn’t boost Colin higher as Six is my Doctor, but 7th is better then I’d thought he’d get.

The Sixth Doctor was portrayed by Colin Baker between March 1984 and December 1986.  His iconic rainbow coloured coat makes him stand out from the rest of his counterparts, but also his fiery temper!

His era isn’t seen with a lot of love but for us there is a lot to love about Six and his adventures with Peri. Even the Trial of the Timelord series wasn’t half as bad (for us) as others think. I quite enjoy Sixies back and forth with the other characters, especially his childish insults to The Valeyard.

I enjoyed his volatile side, the fact that he was egotistical and knew what he was doing. He had a loving side though which came out in Trial so well. Being aware of how great he is wasn’t a problem for me, and having a bad temper is nowhere near as terrible as people seem to think.

I never found any of his stories boring and loved watching him and Peri go from journey to journey.

You do have to give Colin a lot of praise, he played the Doctor in a way that wasn’t going to be popular, a polar opposite of what Peter Davison did with Five. It was a brave, if futile attempt to shake up the format and the character, but after being mellowed out for Trial of the Timelord his Doctor had quite a nice balance that could have worked if given another series.

Sometimes it feels like it is the “popular” thing to do to hate on Six whether you watched his series or not, and also whether you really liked it or not. I’m not saying that it is something everyone does but sometimes people just like to hate on poor Six for no reason, personally I think he was the most endearing Doctor of the lot of them. I enjoyed his incarnation the most.

His highlight?

The Two Doctors, him and Troughton were a wonderful pairing. Peri and Jamie were pretty funny together to, plus we have a load of Sontarans.

We have big love for Six. Plus I met him once, what a wonderfully lovely man Colin Baker is!

Our Doctor Countdown 8 : Paul McGann

Paul McGann, The Eighth Doctor

McGannWhat a surprise! The Eighth at Eight. We do like it this way I have to admit.

The Eighth Doctor, portrayed by the wonderful Paul McGann, was the Doctor briefly in 1996, and finally regenerated last week in a mini-episode (The Night of the Doctor.)

So why did a Doctor so briefly on our screens beat three fully fledged Doctors?

Well we’d made our mind up before Paul McGann’s mini-episode to be honest and it was mainly down to the Big Finish audios. We aren’t big followers of Big Finish, and personally I’ve only heard the ones that have been played on BBC Radio, but that along with a great portrayal in the TV Movie leap frogged Eight above the rest.

Eight is always a little forgotten, the TV Movie isn’t a brilliant story let alone well put together. We won’t even go close to Eric Roberts as The Master, least said about it the better to be honest! Eight though is as Doctorish as always, just shoved into a badly put together film.

What little I’ve heard of Big Finish McGann has carried on taking his Doctor from strength to strength. The ability to make you feel scared, sad, happy or bewildered just by his voice is a gift not many have (though I do think nearly all of the Doctors have that ability, we are the lucky ones!) His relationship with his companions is the biggest strength of the Eighth, much more a friend to them then any other regeneration.

Then he returned for a heart wrenching 7 minutes. Fandom seem to have imploded in on itself, that is fair enough to them, it was a great 7 minutes and a lovely way to say goodbye to him. It reminded people of just how great a Doctor he was, just like all the Doctors that came before and after him.

Our Doctor Countdown 9 : David Tennant

David Tennant, The Tenth Doctor

TennantDavid Tennant is probably one of the most popular and well loved Doctors in the history of the show, he was the Tom Baker of the post-2005 series and still manages to top polls across the world. If Eccleston introduced a whole new generation to Doctor Who, Tennant is the man who made them fall in love with the show.

He first appeared at the end of The Parting of Ways in June 2005 and left the show five years later on the 1st January 2010 in The End of Time. 47 episodes to his name and a list of adventures that saw him fighting alongside Rose, Martha and Donna as well as a magnitute of other guest companions. He came up against the post-2005 Master (played by John Simm) and fell in love with Rose leaving her with 10.5 (Meta crisis Doctor… Don’t ask if you don’t know.)

So I’m telling you he is one of the most loved Doctors and then we’ve stuffed him at number 9? What’s up with that?!

Quite simple really, as much as we enjoyed David Tennant as a Doctor (and he got an average rating of 7.5, the same as Davison and was only knocked to 9 because others got slightly higher ratings) there were giant parts of the RTD era we didn’t enjoy.

For me I went into the first series with Nine evenly matched, my bias for loving everything with Eccleston in and my bias (long held) of disliking Billie Pipper. When Nine turned into Ten and there was obvious “Romance” between companion and Doctor it made me groan inwardly. That is something a lot of people loved about them, so I don’t dis it, it wasn’t for me.

The stories were also hit and miss but there were a lot more hits then misses, and whether I liked his era or not there were some really adorable, funny, sad and amazing stories in his era.

Probably my favourite story with the Tenth Doctor is The Next Doctor, when it looks like we are meeting a new Doctor but in actual fact we are meeting a man that had the stories and adventures of the Doctor put inside his head (that is a simplistic and probably wrong way of explaining it but I don’t want to get technical.)  If anything this and Time Crash makes me excited for the special on Saturday because it shows how well Tennant interacts with other Doctors (even not really Doctor Doctors!) He’s a proper fan of the show and he doesn’t hide that when his Doctor meets other Doctors.

There is much to love about Ten and like Five and Seven it isn’t a nasty reason they are so low, but someone has to be there.

Minecrafting #3

What have I been doing this week?

Squiggle
Making a giant squirrel full of lava?

First off I thought it would be cool to make it out of glass then figured out that as cool as that is you can’t really make out the glass so then I outlined the glassed in clay.

Not the greatest but I’m having a slow week anyway!

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