Friday, June 30, 2006

A Storm is Coming…

…and we trust that Doctor Who will never be the same again.

Despite what various personal opinions might be on the quality of the stories this season, Doctor Who is entering it’s second end-of-season finale that promises to bring drama, shocks and revelations. The departure of Rose is being kept strictly under-wraps, and Doctor Who is subject to tighter control on plot developments than “EastEnders”.

Obviously this means that there are changes in store for the Doctor and by definition the show. A new companion, a new backstory – no more Jackie Tyler. Will this result in a refocusing of the show’s narrative on the Doctor himself?

Probably not. A new companion will bring new baggage with them, and while there’ll be no Jackie Tyler, there’ll be a special someone waiting for them to return. Concentrating more on the Doctor brings with it certain problems, such as an increased workload for the shows star (see Tom Baker) less chance of identifying with the companion and as such a lower frequency of new viewer take-up.

Of course, much of this is debateable, and what we all want to see is Doctor-centric adventures in Series 3 as the last Time Lord battles evil in all shapes and forms. It would probably be wise to avoid cartoon scribbles, although beings that exist in radio wave form (the Vardans?) and Absorbaloff’s shouldn’t be shied away from if they can be approached correctly…

We know the Face of Boe returns in 2007, and that he has a secret to tell the Doctor. We know the Doctor has a new companion, and that another classic series monster will return. Whether it’s the Silurians, the Ice Warriors, the Sontarans or the Zygons is a matter for us to look forward to – as is the surely definitive comeback of them all.

If the Face knows of other Time Lords that have survived, there are bound to be one or two up to know good. And what’s the point in creating a new Time Lord villain if there is already one out there who is something of a Master…?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Disappointed of Kasterborous

Sirs: It is with bewilderment that I watched the last episode of Doctor Who reasonably expecting the Doctor – the shows main character – to save the day in face of astonishing adversity. Instead I got a charming yarn about cartoons coming to life and the children on the estate being saved by a blonde girl named Rose.

The benefits for and against the heroism of this character have been well documented but I find myself and the character at an impasse; one week she is portrayed as cocky, selfish and jealous and another she is the best thing since sliced bread.

Her portrayal in this series of Doctor Who has been one of several let downs from a production team which brought the show back so convincingly last year. While conceptually the Absorbaloff from Love & Monsters should be admired, it was introduced in a completely inappropriate context. And I’m saying nothing of the performance of Peter Kay, as I’m a fan; however the Roald Dahl nature of the beast and indeed the tale were the episode’s only saving grace.

In a season that promised so much, it was I think ultimately expected that we would get so far through feeling so under-whelmed. Were we spoiled last year? Did the team try harder? If so why? If the show really was better last year, and it’s not simply nostalgia getting the better of us, then could the reason for it have been down to the leading man?

I’m not for one moment suggesting that David Tennant is unsuitable; he’s slotted into the role very well. But he isn’t as highly-regarded in the industry as his predecessor, and for me at least Eccleston’s short-lived era is overshadowing this new age of Doctor Who simply because the producers of the show have failed to match the quality of last year.

Army of Ghosts has the potential to silence me, and eat the above words. Perhaps it will be that good that the budget savings on Fear Her and Love & Monsters will be made worthwhile. It might even be the best ever Doctor Who story ever. The poorer aspects of the 2006 series will be overlooked and heralded as the best ever, based on two good single-parters and two good two-parters.

They say that history is written by the victors. As such, the victors need to get it right for Series 3

Monday, June 19, 2006

Questions, Questions, Questions…

When Ant and I first got chatting on the OG Forum way back in 2004 (is it two years already Ant?!) one of the stipulations for the website we were developing was that if possible we should attempt to contact people in the world of Doctor Who in order to interview them.

(Another stipulation was that if possible we would send readers pieces of original artwork by Ant if they sent us enough chocolate. Alas, sorting offices are warm places...)

Once Kasterborous (I should add that the name was my idea – admittedly a fluke…) was finally up and running, we were in almost straight away with an interview with the artist Peter McKinstry, whose work graces the ebook version of Justin Richards’ The Sands of Time on the BBC Doctor Who site. It wasn’t long before we were recruiting other artists such as Andrew Skilleter, Darryl Joyce, Pete Wallbank and Lee Sullivan, and indeed soon we were interviewing writers, such as Jean-Marc Lofficier.

Particular favourites of mine – not having had much to do with the artists which were all Ant’s own work – include the Peter Purves interview (being the first time we had a former star of Doctor Who featured on Kasterborous), the OFFSTAGE interview with Barnaby Jones (simply for being, well, Barnaby) and of course the Mat Irvine piece, which was very satisfying as an admirer of his work on Doctor Who and Blake’s 7, as well as his appearances on Saturday morning kids TV.

But if you had told me we would get the opportunity to chat with someone working on the new incarnation of Doctor Who – well I wouldn’t have taken you seriously! So, readers of Kasterborous, head for the Interviews section of this website and witness the first part of a chat with Neill Gorton, the visual effects and prosthetics designer on Doctor Who. We’re very grateful for the time Neill’s taken from what must be an insane schedule to answer our questions, and we’re sure you will enjoy reading it.

Friday, June 16, 2006

My Rose is Leaving Me!

Well, I just knew it was leading somewhere.

When I wrote the article “My Rose Has Left Me” I confess I was pretty miffed with what I saw as poor characterisation of Billie Piper’s character this series. I was sick of her – and to some extent still am – but hopefully what I at first saw as the weakness of some of Piper’s performances where down to the fact she was being “roughed up” a little, to ease her out as it were without an uproar from the fans.

Obviously the most popular Doctor Who companion in a very long time, Rose has been everywhere with the Doctor, and their relationship is so close it just makes you wonder how they will part company. Hopefully the surprise will remain until the end of the series, even if the departure of the actress hasn’t…

Exactly how many more newspapers did the news sell, really? In the middle of a football World Cup competition, did the tabloids really have to push it? Why couldn’t they let it lie for a month until the end of the series, keep quiet and let us have our surprise – you know, the one we didn’t get when the Ninth Doctor had his day?

But it is of course a necessary evil. It would be so nice to hear RTD and the BBC having a go at the Press – but the need the papers to promote the show. Even when the TV critics were hammering Doctor Who in the 1980s, the same papers where clamouring for its return upon cancellation.

Doctor Who, you see, is magical. Everyone loves it, and those that don’t – well, I dare say imaginations will be for sale in the next 30 years the way medical science is progressing.

Rose’s departure – whether permanent or short-term – will simply allow the show to move into a new era. No longer tied to bloody Jackie Tyler and the Powell Estate, the Doctor will be free to roam the universe with a companion of his own choice, not the choice of his earlier self.

A new companion – imagine the possibilities! The one good thing that has come out of this earlier-than-intended-but-later-than-expected leak is we can play “guess the new companion” in the final story of the series/first story of the next series.

Monday, June 12, 2006

And We're Off!

Oh yes, welcome to Kasterborous as we celebrate the start of Doctor Who, 2006 style!

There are a couple of adventures in store this season as the Doctor and Rose kick off their adventures by landing on a small planet orbiting none other than a black hole! Gasp as they tackle Satan himself, then travel on for more adventures back on Earth.

Comedian Peter Kay stars in Love & Monsters as the villainous Victor Kennedy, while this 6-part series concludes with a rumoured return of the Cybermen!

Of course, it could have been so easy to give us just 6 episodes this year. Start with Episode 8 and give us a bang to the new season. But RTD instead chose to start with New Earth, and give us a start to the series arguably weaker than its 2005 predecessor, Rose.

Now I could easily go into “bash mode” here, criticising Davies and the executive production team, as well as possibly the script editors. But frankly if they can produce delights such as The Girl in the Fireplace and The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit in the same season as New Earth then there’s nothing I can say to them. They know.

I’m just an IT Analyst and part-time freelance writer. If I can see the faults in Doctor Who 2006, so can the BBC and the shows production team. In their defence, we should consider that they didn’t get it totally right in 2005, and that it is still a learning curve…

However, after the quality we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks I expect – nay demand – that the show build upon this for next season.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

And You Will Worship Him

Can I come out yet? I’m scared, disturbed and shocked. I’m also considering a career in football management after last weeks team talk…

The Impossible Planet has all the hallmarks of an instant classic, and really that IS saying something, isn’t it? Claustrophobic, intense, eye-catching, chilling and thrilling all at the same time, this is the Doctor Who I’ve been waiting for since New Earth.

I’m not going to say too much about it for those who haven’t’ seen it, suffice to say there will be at least one review live in the next day or so.

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that when we feature a particular Doctor Who story, we do it across four articles – yet our recent-ish Caves of Androzani pieces only totalled 3… all is not lost, however – only the article was! Totally our mistake, and shortly we’ll have an appreciation of the Fifth Doctor Who courtesy of Brian A Terranova.

We’ve also got an exciting array of articles ready when the series ends… after all, we can’t fill 40 weeks of the year with reviews of the same articles, can we?!