Wednesday, 29 February 2012

February The 29th

Today doesn't normally exist.

And Google informs me it's also Gioachino Rossini's birthday. Best known as the Google Doodle illustrates for The Barber Of Seville, which immediately suggests a Renaissance farce about marriages, affairs, mistaken identities and the like.

Of course, his Stabat Mater can also be found on the soundtrack to Hardware, so you can always play against type.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Christmas Specials For Eleven Doctors

Why am I thinking about Christmas at the end of February? Siskoid did it.

DWM 442 looked at the episodes closest to Christmas and rated them for Christmassiness - a rare instance where The Horns Of Nimon gets a higher score then The End Of Time - but although some came rather close, none of them were built as Christmas Specials.

So what might Christmas Specials for the Second through Eighth Doctors look like?

I'm counting The Unquiet Dead for the Ninth Doctor, but not The Chimes Of Midnight for the Eighth as it was on radio. It’s great, though.

The Second Doctor: The Christmas Fairies
Patrick Troughton was always ready for a bit of panto, so perhaps we could have seen the travellers visit the Land of Fiction over Christmas 1968 instead of September and October. A powerful alien intelligence threatens to rob children all over the world of their imaginations, and only the Doctor and his friends can set things back on track, stopping the alien preventing the stories ever being written. For a bonus point, one of the stories involved is The Box Of Delights.

The Third Doctor: The Heralds
A Christmas party at UNIT HQ sees the Brigadier rather reluctant to don a red suit and white beard, so he is quietly relieved when an emergency call comes through. Glowing figures have been sighted across London, saving people from accidents and stopping criminals dead with an electrical touch. The Doctor recognises them as the Heralds, harbingers of a psychic invasion fleet. But why are they saving some people - including Sarah Jane - and killing others? And what did the Master send the Doctor as a present?

The Fourth Doctor: The Ghost Of Christmas Past
To explain Christmas to Romana, the Doctor takes her to a stable in Bethlehem. With no gift for the baby, the Doctor gives him one of his regenerations. Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam help Douglas Adams with the script. Mary Whitehouse explodes. And there was much rejoicing.

Okay, just kidding.

To explain Christmas to Romana, the Doctor takes her to an English country house in the late 19th century, where the celebrations are interrupted by a slightly convoluted alien invasion. The image of a robot assassin disguised as Santa will of course reappear in 2005.

The Fifth Doctor: The Miracle
A classic sees the Doctor, Nyssa and Turlough in the trenches in 1914 to witness the unofficial Christmas truce, and to prevent an alien warlord stopping it and worsening the war enough to set humanity back centuries.

The Sixth Doctor: Following Yonder Star
As much a panto as The Christmas Fairies, Following Yonder Star sees the Doctor and Peri caught up in an attack on the first Christmas in another solar system, in a space colony in the twenty-second century threatened by the Krotons. Now best remembered for the Doctor singing The Impossible Dream as Peri points out that it isn’t actually a Christmas song.

The Seventh Doctor: Silent Night
Harking back to the BBC’s classic Ghost Story For Christmas series, the Seventh Doctor and Ace find themselves in a country house on Christmas Day, 1888, abandoned for no apparent reason. But Ace can hear faint sounds, indistinct voices... And was that a cry for help? And was that a shadow moving...?

The Eighth Doctor: The Star
Izzy realises that she’s been on the TARDIS so long it should be Christmas, so she persuades the Doctor to try and meet Charles Dickens. A strange chronal signature drags them off course, landing on Christmas Day 1887. London is under attack without even knowing it, by glowing-eyed near-humans (disguised by black glasses) looking to overturn Queen Victoria’s succession and thus shatter world history. Cue a breakneck hansom cab chase, Izzy having to dress up and act a proper Victorian lady (“If Sandra saw me like this she’d be delighted - I look like a People’s Friend annual!”) as she saves - and fends off the advances of - the Prince of Wales, and a laser-firing space fighter battle over Buckingham Palace hidden by a fireworks display.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Rogue Planet!

"Where have we landed?"
"Nomad planet. Better wrap up warm."

Things To Come

"Well, certainly on this series, the episodes are much more stand-alone and, in a way, more distinct from each other. You’ll have episodes, but they’ll be much more of a specific genre. And the next week will be a different genre. My episode is in a genre I’ve never written before — frankly, no one has written in that genre for quite a while now. But I absolutely love it. Steven gives me a one-line pitch, and then I’ll go away and put together a story and so on. And he gave me a great one-line pitch for this, so I’m really excited about it."

Toby Whithouse, talking to Anglophenia


First thought - a Historical? ie. with no aliens except the Doctor himself?

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Sir Christopher Frayling, provider of geeky enthusiasm to the Royal College of Art, discussing the archaeology of the Tomb Of The Cybermen from the new Revisitations 3 rerelease. I'd be tempted to get it for that alone.

Other Who Games: Boo.

The Adventure Games have been shelved.


As revealed in passing when Who executive producer Caroline Skinner said she expected they would make more in an interview mostly about Worlds In Time.

Double boo.

And The Eternity Clock is apparently a side-scrolling platformer with River Song shooting lasers. All that's missing is jumping to collect coins.

Triple boo.

Ten accomplished British NPCs, by the Royal Mail

The General Blog has some initial thoughts on today's unexpected random selection of historic NPCs, as provided by a vaguely-themed stamp set.

Alan Turing is probably the only one famous enough for a full-on Celebrity Historical, and sure enough I've featured him in The Door In Time and DWM had him star in the comics recently too.

I love M.R. James, made him a prominent part of the backstory of my Cambridge-based Buffy game, borrowed from him liberally here and there and once got a page in The Last Province about him, my sole non-reviewing contribution. In Who terms he'd be an obvious candidate for an "author whose horror stories are true" plot, with monsters guarding ancient relics, as the basis for them was so autobiographical. Of course he also provided the BBC with the basis for most of the Ghost Story For Christmas tradition too.

WWII agent Hallowes is easy to plot for, the architects Pugin and Spence could both be connected in a story about building and possibly what's under buildings, composers like Delius and singers like Ferrier could be involved in music-as-signal mysteries, Newcomen would be a good target for invaders wanting to screw up the Industrial Revolution and Fry's reforms could annoy an alien profiteer. Drawing a blank on Mary Morris though...

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

And New Doctor Who Is Coming.

George Washington

Today is also (depending on calendars) George Washington's birthday. He's proved to be fairly important over the years...

There are plenty of places that American history could have gone sideways throughout his life, should time-meddling aliens want to try something.

Like the time he crossed the Delaware, and the Hessian colonel in charge of a nearby British troop ignored the note from a spotter because he was playing poker. Or, on the next page, of that same article, the time he inadvertently helped to kick off a war between the UK and France. Or the time a British sniper could have shot him in 1777, but didn't like shooting people in the back. Or the nearly successful assassination attempt during the war.

Or even the bolt of lightning that killed the woman sitting next to his mother while he was in the womb. Indoors.

By contemporary accounts something of a berserker as well as a skilled tactician and inspiring speaker, Washington's life definitely qualifies as Interesting Times.

(And if I ever get round to the Benjamin Franklin Celebrity Historical involving killer lightning monsters, I have to mention the story about Washington's mother, don't I?)


Heinrich Rudolf Hertz has been honoured with a Google doodle marking the 155th anniversary of his birth.

"The German physicist whose experiments with electromagnetic waves led to the development of the wireless telegraph and the radio" and later television.

Hertz could be a subject for a Celebrity Historical - a child prodigy, a PhD by twenty-two, a lecturer by twenty-five, a professor by twenty-seven, and he only lived to thirty-six. He was certainly a candidate for Insatiable Curiosity, mastering Arabic and Sanskrit and taking an interest in meteorology as well as his defining pursuit.

And there have to be monsters in the Whoniverse who would want to stop humanity discovering electromagnetic waves.

The Cybermen certainly didn't like EMPs. And there are invaders who would want to stop us developing instant communication, creatures who hide themselves with technology, even things directly affected by it, like the Wire, a living television signal.

A genius like Hertz could be just the friend a time traveller needs.

The Brigadier and UNIT

Today is the first anniversary of Nicholas Courtney leaving us, which is still sort of hard to believe.

So raise a glass, and consider the effect of Mr Courtney, and of Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart and his people at UNIT, on life, the Whoniverse and everything.

Uses for UNIT in a game are plentiful, from PCs and whole PC groups, to steadfast allies. There are plentiful ways to get in trouble with them as well, but misunderstandings can generally be ironed out and alliances forged in the face of danger. So consider having them look in on your next modern adventure. The exasperated tutting of a UNIT leader, with a hint of a smile, is greater praise than the adulation of millions.

Monday, 20 February 2012


Fifty years ago today, John Glenn's orbital space flight ushered in a new era for space travel.

Like fellow pioneers such as Yuri Gagarin, changing history here would affect the Space Race and beyond, and would be so easy to do.

Of course, these days a plot like this will bring to mind The Impossible Astronaut and especially Day of The Moon and possibly the involvement of the Silence, as well as other SFish takes on the early space Race such a Quatermass. Setting the scene in space itself, rather than around the base and the launch platform, would do a lot to change the mood and the difficulties involved.

More on the Space Race as a setting.

The Crystals Of Time

Crystals may be possible in time as well as space

"Theory proposes objects in their lowest energy state can loop in the fourth dimension forever."

... Whoa.

A scientific explanation for Weeping Angels?

Or, hey, a way to fight them - unlock them from their stone state so they function at roughly normal speeds. It would dent their uniqueness so should be used sparingly. Maybe to try and negotiate...?

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Monday, 13 February 2012


So, what's the idea you'd think they'd avoid for the Who/TNG crossover comic? Cybermen vs. Borg? Opening up the whole "it's the same monster idea" can of worms right in the middle of a story? Well... guess what...

"You will be like us."
"We are already like you."
"... Hey!"

A Wrinkle In Time

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Madeleine L’Engle’s seminal work A Wrinkle In Time.

Which I have only ever heard of, never seen or read.

So I have no idea if Faith Erin Hicks's summary of a key section is in any way accurate.

Anyway, it's about time travel and dystopian futures and archetypal more-than-human figures including "Mrs Whatsit", "Mrs Who", and "Mrs Which", and it's fifty years old, so it may be relevant. I dunno, you tell me.

Saturday, 11 February 2012


IDW have both Trek and Who comic licences, and it seems somehow they've managed to Make This Happen.

RTD thought/joked about crossing over when Enterprise was still on the air.

(Similarly, the Daleks were almost the secret rulers of the Federation in Blake's Seven but then weren't. David and Billie appearing in an issue of Buffy season eight doesn't count. And let us not speak of Dimensions In Time.)

One thing to be noted is that crossing over with the Whoniverse can be rather unbalanced as it can swallow most other settings whole. The same central character has seen the beginning and end of this universe and visited others as well. A century of heroic space exploration that starts a couple hundred years in the future? That's nice, nothing special, sounds like the backdrop for an episode, maybe two tops. And that's a pretty big setting too, most are confined to a single planet and a decade or so of activity.

An official crossover, rather than an expy that uses the heart of a setting as a plot hook for one night only, would probably be like a respectful Celebrity Historical, with the Doctor being impressed by the heroic guest stars as he helps them deal with a threat that could come from either universe. We shall see, of course.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Guardians willing, the Regeneration Edition of Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space should be out soon.

If so, to celebrate I'll do... some sort of a thing.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Charles Dickens

Today's Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens.

I don't need to explain this one, do I?

Monday, 6 February 2012

Idea I got from, of all things, Vampire Journals


Please blink, I'm bloody freezing!

"Basically, I rule."

Today's Google Doodle is about Francois Truffaut's 80th birthday. I'm sure Amy and Rory would like to meet him, but his work doesn't exactly lend itself to monster attacks.

Here in the UK, it's more noted as the 60th anniversary of the Queen's accession. She's been around even longer than Doctor Who.

She did not actually appear as herself in The Runaway Bride, although she did get a box set of S1 when it came out.

In fact, the Queen has a bit of prior form here. Her coronation kicked off a boom in TV sales and rentals, as seen in The Idiot's Lantern, which helped The Quatermass Experiment became a national phenomenon, and when Nigel Kneale followed it up with an adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four questions were asked in Parliament about whether some of the scenes had been suitable for television, but then it was revealed that she herself had enjoyed it, and a second broadcast was the most watched show since her coronation.

So she might be part space werewolf, but she helped British SF TV get established so that's a point in her favour.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Happy birthday, Elisabeth Sladen. Wish you were here.