DIY Sheep versus Doctor Who and everybody else

I don't know what the fuck it's about either

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The puzzling bits: the plot in general


Everyone complains that this story is difficult to understand. But no one ever asks ‘why do the Daleks have this uncontrollable urge to take over things again and again and a-bloody-gain’? No one ever asks ‘why does the Master come up with those unbelievably stupid plans like that one involving the Magna Carta and than Concorde one’? No you just accept that because the Master wears black and a silly beard he is evil and that is just what he does.


I swear there is a missing scene from Timeflight. Remember that story - the daft one where Tegan actually pumps up a Concorde wheel with a bicycle pump: I suspect it went something like this.


MASTER: 'Ha ha ha ha Doctor.’ The Master pulls off his weird froggy mask. 'You are so gullible. It is I the Master and you didn't recognise me. I am an evil genius.'


DOCTOR: 'Of course I didn't recognise you, you twonker - what with your disguising yourself as a weird sorcerer froggie thing and speaking in an atrocious Chinese accent. And just why are you in disguise anyway? You are 100 millions years in the Earth's past in a barren wasteland.'


MASTER: 'Ahh? But I did it to trick you - and you were fooled.'


DOCTOR: 'Then why did you rip your mask off the moment you saw me?'


MASTER: 'Ahh? (thinks for a moment) But now my evil plans are nearly complete. Now I have ALL the little packets of peanuts from both Concordes - ho ho ho.'


DOCTOR: 'And did you forget you are allergic to peanuts?'


MASTER: 'Ahh.'


DOCTOR: ‘You haven’t really thought this through have you?’


TER: 'No, not really.'

So let me explain it: There are no reasons. The guys in the silly outfits or rubber suits are generally bad and the guy in the question mark jumper is good. All the rest is technical gobbledegook. This story is not that hard to understand. It is just that it is a few steps up the evolutionary story ladder (boom boom) of the usual ‘nasty aliens who want to do bad things’ plot. But if you stick with the basic premise that bad guys do really stupid, weird and implausible things cos that is just what they do, it will all make sense and we can all sleep at night.



The Doc and Ace


This relationship has to be one of the main reasons I keep reviewing these stories – I want to spread the Seventh Doc/Ace love around. For me the last tv Doctor Who season and all the subsequent books featuring the two characters are very special.


I get sick of the Doctor as this cardboard time traveling non-shagging version of James Bond. I want to know why, when where and exactly what happened behind the bike sheds. That doesn’t mean I want to see him bonking Charley on the console, but I do want to see him interacting with other people, gentle men, gentle beings, sentient life forms, his companions on more than a ‘hey, I’m a guy in a frock coat who runs down corridors’ type of way.


I really like the fact that he cares for Ace in a way that I had not seen in Doctor Who before… oh come on: let us review the Doctor/companion thing over the years.



Billy: Cranky old git who you would not turn your back on, especially when he has a rock handy.


Pat: Bit too much swinging in the sixties if you ask me. I could never keep track of them – Ben, Polly, Dodo…


Jon: Too in love with himself. Bints in miniskirts were purely there to impress the other blokes and reinforce how cool he was. Well – all I have to say to that is: ‘Way to go Austin.’


Tom: Leela was eye candy and Sarah, well Sarah Jane Smith’s whiny high pitched grunting still amuses me to this day.


Peter: Like a bleedin kindergarten – stop whinging children!


Colin: Well he favoured the kill or cure approach to assistants.


Sylvester: Once we ditched Mel (personally my theory is that she was only introduced to be even more irritating than the Sixth Doctor) and took on Ace it all got better (as betterer as anything in the eighties was going to get. Remember this was the decade of leg warmers and early Madonna).


Paul: Oh my – do you know that if we ditch the miniskirts and invest in character instead it is actually more interesting. Well that only took them 27 years to figure out.

Chris: Humans are stupid apes who think pink polar fleecies are the height of fashion (but we know that deep down he really likes Billie and her pink polar fleecie).



Forgive me if I am not all that au fait with the Andy Cartmel master plan, but I do believe that involved pushing Ace out of the TARDIS nest until she can fly. I love the way this evolves over the last tv season. The Doctor is always there, pushing her, needling her, but ultimately letting her do all the work. So to continue the Ace plot arc the Doc takes Ace on yet another travail to thwart evil since the dawn of time. Although personally Light or Josiah Smith didn’t really seem all that evil since the dawn of timeish – just a couple of right pratts if you ask me. In between having personal guilt attacks about doing ‘you know what’ to the house, Ace seems to really enjoy being Time’s Vigilante. Although this is pre ‘I’ll rip your bloody arms off NA’ Ace. In this story she is young and desperately wants to please. She bounces around him in a ‘yes Professor, no Professor’ sort of way.


There is that lovely scene in Survival where the Doc stands on the hill and asks Ace to come home. The look he gives that Cheetah chick is dead nasty: don’t mess with my girl furball. The Doctor is doing his incredibly dysfunctional best to be a parent. You think it is hard for your average parent? Try being a crusty 900 year old Time Lord and having to cope with a teenager! (the birds and the bees talk must have been a hoot) He loves her, but he doesn’t understand her and nor does he know how to look after her... but he is trying – in his own Doctorish way.


This is why I get a feeling that there is an underlying sense of care in this story that fits in with the Doctor/Ace relationship. For all the spookiness of Ghostlight, Ace always seems to be watched over very carefully. Yes, she does do a bit of over angsting here and there and does get menaced by a few alien monsters, but they couldn’t move very fast and I think that was more JNT than Marc Platt. And yes it was all creepy, but I don’t think there was actually any danger to Ace.



The Titles


This title sequence is quite illuminating. Gone is the high speed hurtling down what looks like a tube of aluminum foil. No, with this one we are out there in the big wide universe. However I had no idea the universe was filled with quite so many electric pink things hurtling around at vast speed. It is no wonder we have so much trouble with our long range probes – just as they are entering Mars’ orbit - WHAMMO – they are hit by a giant electric pink thing that escaped from the BBC special effects department sometime in the nineteen eighties.


For me, my favourite title sequence was Colin’s. There is Colin, all smiley and happy and sweet looking – thinking about a future of Doctor Who where some bastard writer didn’t turn him into a psychopath who tried to strangle his assistants and the whole thing wasn’t cancelled. But I like this one too. After all the electric pink things have whizzed past in a synthesized frenzy, there is Sylvester, all painted up like that chick from Goldfinger (except silver), winking at you as if to say ‘I’m the Doctor now. It is going to be all right.’


I wish Sylvester… I wish.


And if you watch the end credits right to er, the end you get to see a tiny weenie TARDIS fly across the screen from left to right and then again from right to left – like it was involved in a giant galactic game of Pong. There we go – the turntable techno Doctor Who theme and Pong – two reasons we love the eighties.



The DVD cool stuff


I’m not normally an Easter egg hunting fiend for DVD extras but this one has a few little gems that should not be missed.



The filming of Ghostlight documentary


A fascinating look at Sophie and Sylvester at work: I have never been to a convention and have never met Sylvester, but judging by this doco he must be a hoot at parties – always the first one with the straws stuck up his nose pretending to be a walrus. Sylvester and co happily giggle and gurgle their way through the recording process, yet always manage to look serious just in the nick of time.


And it is made even more poignant by the fact that this was the last ever thing they filmed before… you know…



The other doco


The other doco grabs as many actors as they can to reminisce about how bloody weird the story was and say that basically they didn’t have a clue what it was about either. So there we go – finally vindication for all those ‘It doesn’t maker sensers’ – even the actors didn’t have a schmick. It is also packed full of information and a few bitchy luvvie comments. I rather liked the fact that several actors were sent out of the rehearsal room for laughing too much.



The photo gallery


For some reason the makers decided that for the viewing public’s enjoyment they would combine two great experiences in one: and what is the perfect complement to any Doctor Who adventure? Why trench warfare of course.


The photos are very interesting, but you feel as if you are watching them in a World War One trench under a constant artillery barrage. I think the makers thought it was meant to be thunder, but I started getting Nam flashbacks. Interesting picies, but do not show this to your granddad who fought at Normandy.


And there are actually a few of Sylvester not wearing his jumper. Everyone knows how much he hated it. I don’t know if the photos are from a rehearsal or wot, but I get the feeling that he was trying it on – to see if he could get away without wearing it for a bit. So for the first time we have our darker and more manipulative Doc sans all his irritating props and JNTesque OH SO SUBTLE clues. However JNT probably spotted him, stuck it back on him and locked him in the catering van as punishment, because like a puzzled woolly boomerang it appears all the way through the final story.