Archive for the ‘Name Dropping’ Category

Mavic Chen Rhymes With Manic Pen (Holding)   Leave a comment

(With “The Daleks’ Master Plan”, we reach Part 21 of our Name Dropping journey through the First Doctor’s character arc as represented by his changing ways of addressing Steven: in which not much jam is spread over 12 slices of toast but we do learn the coolest way to hold a pen.)

Oops! In my relief at finally finishing “The Massacre”, it looks like I forgot that I’d never got around to posting my Name Dropping review of “The Daleks’ Master Plan”. This story had long been held up as the (mostly) lost masterpiece but it really comes across as a lot of filler flying back and forth between big watchable events like the deaths of Katerina and Sara Kingdom, Celation’s 1980s Manc walk, Mavic Chen’s wonderfully cool way of holding a pen and the notorious “Merry Christmas”. Incidentally, my podcasting colleague Mark holds his pen in a remarkably similar way to Mavic Chen. The episode “The Feast of Steven” is just an abomination which by comparison makes Little and Large look funny and Morton Dill a thoughtful piece of characterisation.

The really big treat here is Nicholas Courtney’s first appearance in Doctor Who as Bret Vyon (a name which you feel should be an anagram for something significant). Outrageously, the Doctor nearly always addresses him as “Bret” which must surely make poor Ian and Steven feel pretty hard done by.

When it comes to how the Doctor addresses Steven in this episode, we get my boy x 17, dear boy x 11, young man x 8, Steven x 5, my dear boy x 4, my dear young man x 3, Steven my boy x 1, my dear fellow x 1 and a rare outing for my friend x 1.

(select NAME DROPPING from the list of Categories in the left hand menu to catch the rest of this series)

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Posted May 21, 2017 by docwhom in Name Dropping

Catholics 0 – 0 Protestants (Viewers 0)   Leave a comment

(With “The Massacre of St Batholemew’s Eve”, we reach Part 22 of our Name Dropping journey through the First Doctor’s character arc as represented by his changing ways of addressing Steven: in which we see nothing because the tapes are lost and what we hear doesn’t explain much.)

This time last year, I watched the first reconstructed episode of “The Massacre”. It’s since taken me twelve months of further attempts to get into the story until tonight I finally finished it, and then only by dint of buying the BBC audiobook.

I can’t say that I wouldn’t write home about it. I’m planning on penning dozens of messages to friends and family warning them not to go within a hundred yards of “The Massacre”.

Four episodes of Steven wandering Doctorless around Paris, alternately overhearing Catholics with similar names plotting against Protestants with similar names and vice versa – it hasn’t been a page turner. Mind you, I’m not surprised that it’s one of Peter Purves’s favourites. It’s 90% him. It may be very different visually, but I doubt it.

It’s only in the very final scene that it becomes interesting as Steven turns on the Doctor for not being prepared to change history and storms out of the TARDIS, leaving the Doctor to lament that he’s lost all his friends. If only he was so lucky – because in walks Dodo with an accent that makes Chorlton and the Wheelies sound like Received Pronunciation.

So, to the point of this whole exercise, how does the Doctor addresses Steven in this story. We get my boy x 3, my dear boy x 1, dear boy x 3, boy x 1, young man x 1 and we even get my dear Steven x 2.

(select NAME DROPPING from the list of Categories in the left hand menu to catch the rest of this series)

 

Posted May 16, 2017 by docwhom in Name Dropping

HOMER IN THE ORIGINAL KLINGON   Leave a comment

agrippa2

(With “The Myth Makers”, we reach Part 20 of our Name Dropping journey through the First Doctor’s character arc as represented by his changing ways of addressing Steven: in which we see a more adult version of Doctor Who as the TARDIS crew encounters the Great Whores of Asia.)

You could be forgiven for giving up on this story before you reached Scene 8. But that would be a tragedy because once we escape the tedious non-duels in the middle of nowhere and get to Agamemnon and Menelaus bitching at each other, “The Myth Makers” really takes off and never (well, rarely) looks back.

In a similar way to the attempts in “The Crusade” to craft the dialogue in something close to iambic pentameter to give it a Shakespearian feel, “The Myth Makers” dialogue aims at the Homeric. Not that I’d know, never having read The Iliad in English translation. I’ve only read it in the original Klingon. This helps to give some gravitas to the interplay between the characters which plays very nicely against their characterisation. Because much of “The Myth Makers” is Homeric epic played out as a drawing room farce. And it works wonderfully for it.

The family back-biting between Agamemnon and Menelaus, Priam and Paris, and Paris and Cassandra is delightful at times. It’s not that far away from the interplay between the Caecilius family in “Fires of Pompeii” but fortunately with a sight less overdramatised dancing and gesturing in temples. When Paris turns up in Troy with the TARDIS and tells Priam that it’s a prize he captured from the Greeks, his Dad sniffily replies: “I wager they were glad to see the back of it.” When the Doctor tries to convince the Greeks that he has supernatural knowledge by telling Agamemnon that his wife is unfaithful to him, Odysseus dismisses it with: “Everyone knows that.”

Given that no episodes of “The Myth Makers” exist in the BBC archives, Loose Cannon had a bit of luck when putting together their reconstruction. Francis de Wolff (last seen trying to rape Barbara in a snowbound hut in “Keys of Marinus”) as the BBC costume department hired the same uniform for his role as Agamemnon as he wore a year earlier in “Carry On Cleo for his role as Agrippa (famous for the immortal lines “I’m Agrippa” – “Well, I know one or two holds myself.”) This may seem a remarkable coincidence until you consider that it may have been the only ancient uniform in that size in the whole UK.

The Steven and Vicki double-act goes from strength to strength. Their bickering at each other in the cells is lovely as well as being entirely natural. Alas, this story was the last we’d see of what was promising to be one of the finest TARDIS crews ever. It was criminal that, after their meeting in “The Chase”, they would have only 12 episodes together and that only 5 of those should survive.

We turn to how the Doctor addresses Steven in this story. Well, not much as they see little of each other: my boy x 2, my dear boy x 2 and young man x 1.

(select NAME DROPPING from the list of Categories in the left hand menu to catch the rest of this series)

Posted March 30, 2016 by docwhom in Name Dropping

THE SEEDS OF THE CANTINA   Leave a comment

DELEGATES

(With “Mission to the Unknown”, we reach Part 19 of our Name Dropping journey through the First Doctor’s character arc as represented by his changing ways of addressing Steven: in which we find nothing at all.)

One can only wonder what on Earth the children of the 1960s thought upon seeing “Mission to the Unknown”. Or rather what they thought when the next episode didn’t materialise the following week. Even in the age when episode titles ruled and story serials had no collective titles, there must have been some confusion.

However, there’s still the matter of what the Doctor calls Steven in this story: my boy x 0, dear boy x 0, young man x 0, Trailer x 0, Tailspin x 0, Telltale x 0 and Stevenage x 0.

(select NAME DROPPING from the list of Categories in the left hand menu to catch the rest of this series)

Posted March 30, 2016 by docwhom in Name Dropping

CHUMBLEYMANIA   Leave a comment

Doctor-Who-Galaxy-4-missing-episode-found

(With “Galaxy 4”, we reach Part 18 of our Name Dropping journey through the First Doctor’s character arc as represented by his changing ways of addressing Steven: in which we fid that there’s still some turkey left over from Christmas.)

Having sat through this turkey, one of the few things I can find the energy to say about “Galaxy 4” is that sometimes the junkers in the BBC archives showed some good taste in their choices and that Terry Burnett should have kept it quiet that he he held episode 3 rather than returning it to the BBC in 2011.

How could anyone ever have supposed that the Chumblies could be another Daleks success? Chumbleymania?

However, there’s still the matter of what the Doctor calls Steven in this story: my boy x 4, my dear young man x 1, dear boy x 4, young man x 5 and my dear boy x 1.

(select NAME DROPPING from the list of Categories in the left hand menu to catch the rest of this series)

Posted March 30, 2016 by docwhom in Name Dropping

THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO BE DENIED   Leave a comment

steven taylor

(With “The Time Meddler”, we reach Part 17 of our Name Dropping journey through the First Doctor’s character arc as it moves seamlessly from analysis of his changing ways of addressing Ian to that of addressing Steven Taylor: in which we rage at the BBC’s junking policy and speculate on what sort of companions other Blue Peter presenters might have made.)

In “The Time Meddler” we have a regrettably rare complete Steven story. Of the 25 episodes between this and the next complete story, only 4 are extant in the BBC’s archives. This is the worst thing about “The Time Meddler”. It’s the gleaming shop window behind which are displayed the prospect of goodies, while we are the poor street urchins with our noses pressed to that window, knowing that we’ll be denied an opportunity to feast on them. We may have “The Arc” and “The Gunfighters” waiting complete for us on the other side of the abyss but by then we’ll be into the era of Dodo (nowhere near as extinct as her name suggests and her character deserves). By then, the great days will be behind us because not only does Peter Purves’s first full story hold the promise that Steven is going to be a truly belting companion, his rapport with Vicky hits the ground running and they play off each other splendidly. They have a much more vibrant and equal relationship than Susan had with her companions who never entirely lost the teacher-pupil relationship. Had the Doctor, Ian or Barbara suggested going to a monastery, Susan’s reaction would most likely have been to complain that it was scary or that she had a headache. Vicky will quite readily argue that they should go to the beach instead. This isn’t her being argumentative but just having an opinion and standing up for it. I hope this continues in what little time Vicky and Steven have left together.

Because, thanks to the criminal lunacy of the BBC’s policy of junking tapes (their choice of tapes to junk is almost more painful than the policy itself), this story is our only chance to see these two together.

For those of my generation, who missed Peter Purves’s time on Doctor Who but experienced him as the sensible one on Blue Peter who we’d never seen acting, it’s initially difficult to take Steven entirely on face value. That face and that voice are so inescapably wedded to the world of “here’s one I made earlier” that at first you expect that you’re going to have to sit through a season concentrating hard in an attempt to pretend that a Blue Peter presenter isn’t travelling in the TARDIS. But before you know it, the world of milk bottle tops and toilet roll inners have vanished and he’s 100% Steven Taylor.

Which leads us to imagine what might have been had fate landed us with another Blue Peter presenter as the new companion. Just imagine John Noakes joining the TARDIS crew. I suspect he’d have been the Mickey of the 1960s, the comic relief foil for the Doctor. John’s Blue Peter adventures up Nelson’s Column and on the Cresta Run suggest that he’d be brave enough to be the action man figure but I’m not sure how Mary Whitehouse would have reacted to him flaunting his buttock bruises on Doctor Who. As for the other candidate, Valerie Singleton, she always came across as a sort of Verity Lambert with less vinegar so maybe she’d have been better suited to the production office.

No, I think Peter Purves was the man for the job. Where the villager Eldred (Must Live?) says that he doesn’t trust our heroes, Steven replies “Well, I’m not mad about you either!” Had this been Ian’s line, he would probably have delivered it under his breath or once the other guy had moved away. Not out of cowardice of course but because Ian was the quintessence of cool unflappability. Steven, however, gets right in Eldred’s face to say it. Yes, I think we’ll be seeing great things from Mr Taylor. Or rather hearing great things.

Knowing someone for something else can’t always be overcome. As good as the monk is, I was never able to get the Peter Butterworth of the Carry On films out of my mind. I realise that we’re yet to get a glimpse of Time Lord society but, when you’re irretrievably associated with lines like “Dan Dan, the lavatory man”, then robed and statuesque majesty burning at the centre of Time rather goes out of the window.

“The Time Meddler” is certainly a milestone but not a game changer. Time Lords are still a thing of the future and won’t even be encountered again until the end of the Second Doctor’s era. But it’s still a shock to hear a supposedly medieval monk say, on seeing the TARDIS materialise: “I wonder”. It’s a pity that the main impression of the Doctor’s race we’re left with is that they must be compulsive gigglers but never mind that. The idea is worth it for the reveal of the Monk’s TARDIS. As far as jaw-dropping cliffhangers go, that has to be up there with the Dalek emerging from the Thames in “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” and young River Song beginning to regenerate at the end of “Day of the Moon”. I think that I’ll keep a note of belting cliffhangers as I blog my through the run of Doctor Who and collect them in order of wowness at the end. If it’s made me drop my delicate crystal glass of dry sherry in an age when we’ve seen umpteen Time Lords wandering around in their own TARDISes, imagine how it must have appeared to kids at the time when there was still a general notion that the TARDIS was a machine that the Doctor had built himself.

A few final points. As silly as it is, “A space helmet for a cow?” is a genuinely laugh out loud line. And we get the first example of faces appearing in the credits, albeit the closing ones

Now for our new record of how the First Doctor addresses Steven. Let’s see if it differs much from Ian’s treatment. Steven gets: dear boy x 2, my dear boy x 1, my boy x 1, young man x 4 and even a Mr Taylor x 1. If Ian wanted a “Mr Chesterton”, he had to turn to Susan.

(select NAME DROPPING from the list of Categories in the left hand menu to catch the rest of this series)

Posted March 9, 2016 by docwhom in Name Dropping

THE END OF THE BEGINNING   Leave a comment

Ian-Chesterton

We’ve finally come to the end of our epic trek through the First Doctor’s character arc (or have we?) as represented by his changing ways of addressing Ian. What have we discovered?

The first thing the Doctor called Ian way back in the Totters Lane junkyard was “young man”. The last thing he called him at the end of “The Chase” was “my dear boy (I could kiss you)”. Along the way, in speaking to our action-teacher hero, the Doctor has used 26 different modes of address. At the top of the list, we have 59 instances of “my boy”, beating “Chesterton” into second place with 51. At the end of “Web of Fear”, these two were level pegging on 45 each and it’s only in the last three stories that the rather old fashioned use of just the surname lost ground. Perhaps the most significant change occurs around the time of “The Sensorites” where the use of two or three-word variations of “my dear boy” really seems to take off.

However, what allowances should we make for the First Doctor’s notorious habit of getting his lines wrong? Because there are a further 8 examples of him getting Ian’s surname wrong. From “Chesterfield” to “Charterhouse” via “Chesterman, Charlton, Twester and Che’er”. Surely it ought not to matter whether this represents William Hartnell fluffing his lines or the writers deliberately writing in the wrong surname as part of the Doctor’s absent minded old man characterisation. Even when in “The Romans” the Doctor calls him Chesterfield quite clearly as a deliberate joke, all of these are examples of an intention to call Ian by his surname alone. As a result, “Chesterton” and “my boy” end up tying for first place with 59 each. I omit from these the Doctor’s single use of “Mr Chesterton” in “Edge of Destruction” as there’s clearly a world of difference between “Mr Chesterton” and simply “Chesterton”.

We have to take into account that the use of the simple surname “Chesterton” can mean different things. It can be an expression of authority and distance on the Doctor’s part or simply what an Edwardian gentleman would in fact call a close friend (remember the chummy uses of “Higgins” and “Pickering” in “My Fair Lady”).

A late rush of 14 separate instances in “The Chase” alone pushed “dear boy” into third place with 49 while “my dear boy” languishes in fifth place with 32.

When I started out on this journey, I vaguely imagined that we would see the thawing relationship between the two men mirrored by a gradual change from “Chesterton” to “Ian”. But what’s perhaps extraordinary is that, out of 241 different instances we’ve taken into account over the course of 16 stories, the Doctor calls Ian by his Christian name on a mere 4 occasions. And 1 of those occurs when he’s wandering through the caves in “Marco Polo” trying to find Ian and joining in with Susan calling out “Ian”. Presumably it wouldn’t have helped if they’d been calling out different things.

The very best that Ian gets occurs in “The Crusade” when the Doctor once calls him “Sir Ian”.

What then can we deduce about the Doctor’s character arc as represented by his different modes of address for Ian? Not much, it turns out. However, not to be disheartened, I was sufficiently intrigued by the Doctor’s use of several variants when talking to Steven on Mechanus to continue this trek and see whether we find any indication that Steven gets a better deal than Ian did. Hopefully, by the end of “The Massacre”, I’ll have thought up an excuse to carry it on into Sailor Ben’s time in the TARDIS. It’d be a shame to end my first ever complete run (in order) of “Doctor Who” purely out of the absence of any clear motivation.

Onward! In “The Chase”, the Doctor calls Steven: young man x 1, dear boy x 1, Steven Taylor x 1.

Ian List

Posted March 8, 2016 by docwhom in Name Dropping