Saturday, November 29, 2008


Doctor Who 45th Anniversary – Why Was 1976 Brilliant?

Twisted religion and black comedy suffuse a stunning year, transforming body horror into battles for the mind and rich colours into darkness as writer Robert Holmes and producer Philip Hinchcliffe (masters of kiddie-scaring) reach their peak, while Terrance Dicks’ new The Making of Doctor Who inspires every guidebook written since. From The Brain of Morbius’ funny fascist Frankenstein to The Hand of Fear’s crawling eeriness, all the stories are marvellous, and the greatest of them all begets not just Time Lord mythology but even The Matrix movies…

The Deadly Assassin
“I am the creator here, Doctor. This is my world.”
Exploding with ideas for both story and storytelling, this starts as film noir political satire, then swerves into virtual reality and gritty surrealism. Superb cliffhangers, visuals, dialogue; the Master stripped to his essentials… It’s my favourite story, and Mary Whitehouse’s biggest complaint. An unbeatable recommendation!
“The Master’s consumed with hatred. It’s his one great weakness.”
“Weakness, Doctor? Hate is strength.”
“Not in your case. You’d delay an execution to pull the wings off a fly.”

There’s no DVD yet, though you may have seen clips from and discussion of it on Doctor Who Confidential 4.10, the one after Midnight. In the meantime you should look for second-hand copies of the novel or the VHS: if you can track down WH Smith’s The Time Lord Collection, that includes videos of not only this story, but also The War Games and The Three Doctors; on the other hand, the original VHS release has the most gorgeous cover painting in the range… And back on its original transmission, the Radio Times trailed the story with one of its most shiver-down-the-spine lines:
“Death strikes in the dark cloisters of the Time Lord Capitol. The Doctor, alone now, is a hunted fugitive in a city that was once his home…”

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Bit of a problem this evening; to anyone following these bite-sizes, through this afternoon I've been increasingly ill, and Richard's about to put me to bed.

I'm afraid I'm not up to writing and pre-posting something enthusiastic about 1977 tonight, but I will catch up with it as soon as I've improved a bit. Hopefully tomorrow! I'll keep to one a day, though, even if it means back-posting...
Well, in the end, it took me rather longer than that to recover, and longer still to get back into writing these - so I didn't backdate them, as that would have gone beyond cheating and into just plain silly.

But I've now finished all the way up to 2008, so you can find links to the whole lot here .
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