Tansy Rayner Roberts

Posts Tagged ‘watching’

The Trials of Turlough [WHO-50—1984]

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

1984Turlough was one of my favourites. I’m not sure why especially, except that he brought the snark better than anyone. Tegan would complain and shout a lot, but Turlough got to be witty and elegant in his resistance to the Doctor’s particular brand of virtue and heroism.

What is it about Earth people that makes them think a futile gesture is a noble one?

There’s a popular idea that classic Doctor Who companions always start out with pots of characterisation and then gradually descend into bland screaming girls until they are finally written out at the request of the actor. I’m not sure that’s entirely true for any companion at all – it is true that many get stronger scripts to start with than later, but it’s rarely such a linear progression as fans (and perhaps the actors) tend to believe. Sarah Jane’s feminism waxes and wanes rather than sliding in a downward spiral, and the same is true for Nyssa’s scientific know-how, Jo’s spy skills, and so on.

It is rare for extra backstory to develop after a companion’s first appearance – though it did happen to some extent with Ace, and with Tegan. Many companions started out with almost no backstory and… never got any more.


Watching New Who: The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

DOCTOR WHODavid is coming to New Who for the first time, having loved Classic Who as a kid. Tehani is a recent convert, and ploughed through Series 1 to 6 (so far) in just a few weeks after becoming addicted thanks to Matt Smith – she’s rewatching to keep up with David! Tansy is the expert in the “Doctor Who in Conversation” team, with a history in Doctor Who fandom that goes WAY back, and a passion for Doctor Who that inspires us all. We are working our way through New Who, using season openers and closers, and Hugo shortlisted episodes, and sometimes a couple of extra episodes we love as our blogging points. Just for fun!

Thanks to everyone who nominated us for the William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review, we are chuffed and delighted and might even be inspired to run through these a bit faster than we have been doing. No promises, obviously!

Righto, so we’ve skipped over “The Fires of Pompeii” and “Planet of the Ood”, moving along to “The Sontaran Strategem/Poison Sky” double episode (not Hugo nominated, but Tansy felt they were important to talk about – we agreed!). I would like to mention a couple of things about the preceding two episodes though. In “The Fires of Pompeii”, we saw Donna make the Doctor to rescue just one family from the eruption, effectively forcing him to remember that EVERYONE MATTERS, and clearly setting her up as his conscience and moral compass. This is interesting when followed by “Planet of the Ood”, when his compassion is demonstrated in his fight to save the Ood despite their apparently murderous tendencies. Donna’s impact is swift and cannot be overstated, as it becomes so important later on!


Tegan’s First Flight [WHO-50—1981]

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

1981Logopolis is one of my all time favourites. I used to watch it over and over as a child. Yes, really. The most melancholy, gloomy Doctor Who story of all time. I adored it.

Rewatching it recently with my family I was struck by the first episode in particular – how familiar all its beats were to me despite it being so unlike almost any other Doctor Who story ever.

There are three stories going in parallel. Firstly, the dark, irritable Fourth Doctor teaching Adric about block transfer computation (or alien maths as I explained it to my eight year old, don’t judge me!) and deciding to Move On With His Life After Romana. Never mind that Romana left him a whole serial ago, this is the story where we see the Doctor dealing with his loss, gazing mournfully into her room and muttering about how he always meant to fix the chameleon circuit with her (not to mention that when he needs to jettison a room, he chooses hers APPARENTLY AT RANDOM YEAH RIGHT).


Eldrad Must Live! [WHO-50—1976]

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

1976The Hand of Fear, Sarah Jane Smith’s farewell story of the classic series, is a favourite of mine, and I’ve never really stopped to think about why. In many ways it feels like a very ordinary story, ticking a lot of the boxes of Pertwee-Baker Earthbound serials, without even a UNIT chappie or two to liven things up.

I think that a big part of the appeal of this one for me is that the story revolves around Sarah as the companion, and has a greater effect on her than most of her later stories had. It might be paced like the old show (and how), but it has a gleam of what we would get in New Who – stories where the companion’s feelings and reactions to things were basically the point of the plot.


Turn that Frown Upside Down

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

A crappy end to the school holidays – both girls sick and cranky, me sick and tired and crankier. The only cure for such a bleh day is Sesame Street, as sharp and awesome as ever:

(I never thought they’d top 30 Rocks, or True Mud, but they DID)

The Third Doctor’s Day [WHO-50—1972]

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

I always loved Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, maybe not best of all – I didn’t start to think of him as my favourite Classic Doctor until I was in my late teens – but his era was very special to me. I knew that Tom Baker was regarded as The Best Of All Doctors thanks to my early introduction to a small group of fans but also because most of my Doctor Who Received Wisdom came through my Mum. Who, by the way, loved Tom Baker like he was drizzled in chocolate.



Domesticating the Doctor II: The Missus, the Ex and the Mothers-in-Law

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Originally posted on Doctor Her on 15 March 2012.

In the last Domesticating the Doctor post I talked about various instances from Classic and Big Finish Doctor Who of the Doctor being domesticated against his nature. Now it’s time for the New Who story! Or the RTD years, at least, as it got a bit longer than I expected.

The Ninth Doctor puts his cards on the table right from the start. “I don’t do domestic.” No previous Doctor had ever had to make such a statement, but right from the start, the writing team of New Who seemed to relish throwing kitchen appliances and chips and the telly at the Doctor’s head, to watch him squirm.

“I’ve never been slapped by someone’s Mum before,” he complains in Aliens of London, one of the stories that most deeply explores the collision of the Doctor and domesticity. He’s never had to deal with anyone’s Mum before – he’s met a few companions’ Dads, but they’ve mostly got themselves conveniently killed before the credits rolled.

Imagine, oh imagine, if Jo Grant’s Mum had turned up to see what her new boss was like? Or if Romana’s Mum had arrived in the TARDIS to demand the Fourth Doctor tell her why her daughter’s postcards home had suddenly stopped…


A Year in TansyRR.com

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

The response to my Tor.com post on “Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy” has been pretty overwhelming. Not only have there been many, many readers over there (the comments thread is still going strong, though it has turned overnight into a discussion about gender in children’s fiction which… is not a bad thing to be talking about?) but over 2500 people have tuned in to this blog to check the post out here, since Thursday. That’s… a lot, by my standards.

So if you’re here for the first time, hi, I’m Tansy! I write books, and talk a lot.

Here are some other Gender & Pop Culture posts from this year that I’m quite proud of:

Sexing Up the Classics
Mothers & Daughters, Battle-Embroidery & Bears
Babies & Bicycles: Watching Call the Midwife
Hack, Slash, Squish: Gender and Sex In Season One of Game of Thrones
What Geek Girls Wear (is none of your business)


My Fungus is Spreading [Xena Rewatch 4.1-4.4]

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

4.1 Adventures in the Sin Trade Part 1

Ahh, those same old opening credits from Season 1, becoming less and less relevant.

Season 4 is the one I liked least of the entire Xena run, but given how long it took me to make my way through Season 3, previously my favourite, I am hoping to have my preconceptions challenged a little!

This episode is off to a good start, with an angry Xena chasing down the distracted and overworked god of the Underworld, Hades, across a battlefield which looks remarkably vivid for a single scene. The visuals of this season certainly have kicked it up a notch!

When she realises that Gabrielle’s dead spirit has almost certainly been filed with the Amazons, Xena ditches her beloved horse Argo and rides off across the Steppes (their ancestral land, apparently), burying her grief in a series of flashbacks about the last time she had anything to do with the Amazon afterlife…


Rolling Around Like Weasels [Xena Rewatch 3.20-3.22]

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

3.20 – Vanishing Act

“Somewhere in this castle he is chained up with two hundred locks… it’s going to take him at least an hour to get out of them.”

Another Autolycus episode! OK it’s been nearly a year for me because for some reason Season 3 got the better of me, but it does seem odd to have two apparently unlinked episodes with the same guest star right next to each other. Even odder that the only reference to previous episodes is that time Xena borrowed his body, and not the time they saw each other just last week. But of course as I keep reminding myself, this is the 90’s model of television, before season-long arcs were officially encouraged, when the ideal was to have episodes that could be shown in random order.

I especially shouldn’t complain about this because thanks to the marvels of Australian television, I did indeed watch most of Xena in entirely the wrong order. As of this rewatch there are still a couple of essential episodes I am yet to see!

In any case, this is a good old fashioned Autolycus romp, in which he is taking one of his rare tourist trips to the right side of Xena’s moral line, which means she has an excuse to enjoy a mad heist with him. (And indeed the whole question of moral lines is explored further, as it turns out that Auto is firmly in the ‘no killing people’ camp while Xena only draws the line at profiting from crime (okay, and cold-blooded execution).


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