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Let's see if I can enjoy having a classic Who blog again.
So, what have I been doing?

VHSWhovian Reviews now has its own website, vhswhovian.com. For the most part, I'm reviewing audios, but now that Britbox has given us a free, legal option for watching classic Who streaming, who knows: I may start reviewing the show I grew up watching, now with the perspective of middle-aged hindsight.

However, my reviews are falling behind because of fanfiction! One of the recent audios, Alien Heart / Dalek Soul, seized my imagination by dangling some lovely flapping loose ends, and I grabbed them with both hands. Dalek Free Spirit has two chapters posted so far, and its Scrivener file for it has passed 40,000 words despite my being quite ill (severe sinus infections on top of other chronic health issues) for most of the year. I realize that wordcount is nothing for you nano wunderkinds, but I'm old and arthritic and, again: no stamina. 

The Coronation of the High Hierophant fic is winding to a close. I've put the Fifth Doctor through the ringer. So I'm juggling two big fics right now.

In the con department, I made it to both Gallifrey One and Regeneration Who, again while rather ill. (I had to miss most of one day of Galli, but I hung on and spent some lovely moments with a few favorites, notably author/director/Dalek operator Barnaby Edwards who wrote one of my favorite Doctor Who stories in any medium, Emerald Tiger.)

I've continued art lessons, although I'm still not as good as I want to be. Portraits are difficult.

I've been enjoying the new season of Who, for the most part, and absolutely ADORE Bill Potts. Thin Ice, The Pilot, Smile: I loved 'em. The most recent arc is frustrating me, but I like Capaldi and Pearl Mackie so much that I am hanging on.

Why I disliked Pyramid at the End of the World… )
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 Once upon a time, Big Finish tantalised us with this conversation in 1001 Nights:

Nyssa: You’re quite sure this outfit isn’t a little too showy? ...Oh.
Doctor: Nothing’s too showy for the Grand Coronation of the High Hierophant of the Five Revealed Truths. ...Oh.
N: We’re not at the Celestial Basilica, are we?
D: Apparently not.
[chitchat, cries for help]
D: Did you hear that?
N: Doctor. The Coronation of the High Hierophant, remember? Perfumed rain, falling from clouds sewn with powdered diamonds… you wouldn’t want to miss that.
D: I’ve had the invitation for the past 300 years, Nyssa. I can wait a little longer… come on!

Wait what? Go back! I want to visit the Celestial Basilica!

Sadly, they never did, leaving to me to wonder what it was like. I wrote a few scraps, but all I had was a poetic image of the setting. I needed a story to match the grandeur. 

A year later, I listened to Big Finish The Church and the Crown featuring Queen Anne of Austria. As so often, a DW historical inspired me to look up the period and learn stuff I didn't know before. I found a surprisingly readable dissertation about Anne. It had an appendix describing the development of ballet as an offshoot of French court etiquette. Turns out her son, Louis XIV, had won popular acclaim by dancing ballet as frickin' Apollo, and that's why he's called the Sun King.

Look at this video around 2.15 or so. I mean. LOOK. 
 


Invented dialogue, but the scene is pretty much historically accurate.

So what? 

So, Nyssa is a trained dancer. She'd probably like that sort of thing. And I needed a suitably grandiose archetype on which to base my just-about-to-be-crowned Hierophant.

Corollary: why is it that science fiction always imagines futuristic design as minimalist? Why can't some advanced civilization suffer an attack of questionable taste and go for Baroque? 

Before I knew it, I'd decked out Nyssa in something suspiciously Zuhair Murad, and I won't tell you what poor Five's wearing. Now I was getting somewhere. I had dancers. I had a stage. I just needed a libretto.

It took another several months for the story arc to gel, but boy howdy, do I have a plot. I know right down to the sentence where readers are going to start posting "FIRST OF ALL HOW DARE YOU." The hardest part will be holding back the chapters until I've choreographed the whole thing.

*snaps fingers* Write yourself, story. I command you.

Ah well. *frantic typing*


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I really have been shying away from this blog for a while, but I'm determined to get back to what I really wanted to do with it.

So, a few miscellaneous matters.

First, a celebration! My VHSWhovian Doctor Who Reviews blog is up to 78 reviews and counting. It's my permanent home for all my Big Finish reviews, where I'll be sharing progress in my great Big Finish Listen-o-thon, listening to all the Main Ranges and many of the spin-offs in release order as I try to make up for 15 years of missing out.

The most useful part of that website is the interactive, sortable table of Big Finish audios. Sort in order of my rating, the Doctor's timeline, companion, release date, release number, or knock yourself out finding all the audios with "Shadow" in the title. I've linked to the reviews I've written so far, but the rating from 1-10 will give you a quick way to look for good audios to try. (Keep in mind the first 50 of the main range are $3 downloads.)

Second, I'll be at (Re)Generation Who con in March, so I can finally get Peter Davison's autograph on the "Team Nerd" commission and amuse Colin Baker with my Evelyn Smythe cosplay, and Long Island 4 Who Con in November, which usually includes Paul McGann, and this year Sophie, Sylvester, and Loiuse Jameson will be there. I had a ball at LI 3, so it looks like I'm going to act like someone half my age and start attending cons now and again.

Third, I didn't post about it here, but I participated in Inktober last November, trying fountain pen for the first time in 20 years. Results:



View the individual portraits in my DeviantArt Gallery, although I need to re-upload those I got autographed at LI 3. I'll be doing new ones for (Re)Generations: Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant, Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury, and then if I have time I'll do the other guests (except I'm saving Sophie until November, since I know she'll be there. I hope I'll be able to draw a better Louise by that time as well). 

Fourth, I've joined a fic community, Get Your Words Out, so expect another novella on the level of Master's Thesis by the end of this year. I hope. Another Fifth Doctor and Nyssa adventure, this one a side adventure sometime after 1001 Nights, which mentioned that they were trying to reach the Coronation of the High Hierophant. I decided to write that missing story. It's got a killer concept, and the research and planning stages are fairly far along. ('m treating it as a dress rehearsal for original fiction (not that I mean to repurpose it, just that I'm practicing the skills needed for a commercially successful book). 

I hesitate to mention this in the same post with things I'm proud of, but for what it's worth, I just posted an R-rated "guilty pleasure" Nyssa/Five ficlet on AO3. It has no merit; it's just a fluffy bit of smut as a gift for some old friends. Enjoy.


Looms

Dec. 15th, 2015 04:03 pm
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Oy. I had originally locked this post because I wrote it in a burst of frustration, and I've been trying not to step on another fan's fun, but I think I need to post a rebuttal to the flood of "Nyssa is loomed" replies that are dominating my blog. I have repeatedly disputed that headcanon, but nothing I say seems to get through.

Let me explain why. Then I am never going to discuss Looms again, because, honestly, I think they're a terrible idea. I generally try to avoid all discussion of them, but this one fan won't let me do that.

Even if you accept Marc Platt's invention of Looms in two out-of-print novels published during the wilderness years,* despite it contradicting a lot of TV canon, it makes absolutely no sense to assume that any other planet in the universe had looms.

Looms were an impartial solution to the fact that the Pythia cursed the followers of Rassilon to be barren and infertile, as part of a Gallifreyan political struggle. She literally caused Gallifreyan mothers all over the planet to have miscarriages. I know some people advocate Looms as proof of Time Lord asexuality, but the book that mentions them has Time Lords having sex and bearing children in wombs before and after the curse is lifted. More importantly, I'm really uncomfortable with the idea that asexuality = infertility, let alone that it's a punishment and a curse.

The Pythia cursed Rassilon's followers due to a power struggle between her and Rassilon for rule of Gallifrey. There's no way her curse could apply to Traken or any other random planet, since nobody else had anything to do with that dispute.

It's bizarre to bring Traken into alignment with Gallifreyan history. The Fourth Doctor had never gone to Traken before — he said so. Nyssa has little experience with the Time Lords. Gallifrey is off in its own little pocket behind its transduction barriers and has few dealings with the outside universe.

Also? It is very strongly implied that Nyssa has sex in Circular Time. That's part of her "Nyssa's growing from girl into independent young woman" arc in "Autumn," in which she has a love affair that includes kissing, heavy petting in the woods, and going to bed with the bloke. The audio doesn't cover the R-rated bit, because it's not porn, but he wakes up in bed afterwards and calls out for Nyssa to find she's slipped out of bed and left him a memento to remember her by.



*At the time Lungbarrow was released, the BBC had washed its hands of the show and let Virgin do whatever it liked with the books. What it liked was to hire die-hard fans as writers: (Gary Russell: "That great thing where at the time you think, ‘Wow, this is real foresight, this is good thinking by Virgin. They want to find exciting new writers.’ With hindsight of course, you go, ‘It’s because they’re bloody cheap, and they couldn’t afford big posh writers to keep doing Doctor Who books because they had to do them on a shoestring.’") I've heard Marc Platt himself doesn't subscribe to the Loom theory any longer, although I have searched and searched and can't find the quote where that came out.
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“Enough, Trakens. Enough! Applause is heady, and I've already drunk more wine than a man of my responsibilities should. To be a consul and a father I thought were duties enough, but now once again to be a husband, and to Kassia.” — introduction of Tremas and Nyssa in Keeper of Traken

Wait, what about Nyssa's Mom? Did Nyssa even know her? Canon discontinuity alert....

Here's all the evidence I can find... )
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Before I listen and review -- what do you think's going on here?

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Shipping came up in that interesting discussion thread about Big Finish and New Who. As rochelle-templer points out: hey, wait a minute, some classic Who fans ship the Doctor, so why isn't it valid for some new Who writers to ship him with somebody?

That was a very tactful way of NOT calling us hypocrites, so thank you. ;) 

To answer the question...Read more... )
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 I've got my Dr. Smythe costume, I've made up 75 little packets of fair trade cocoa JUST IN CASE, and I know at least one person going who talked me into coming in the first place (thank you hon!). Will I be seeing any more of you?

Long Island Who on Tumblr | website (still waiting for them to post the schedule)
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So, thanks to Tumblr's announcement that it'll be doing something weird to comments and replies, and thanks to my innate distrust of Tumblr (I want my content on a site staffed by fans), I've finally gotten off my duff and used [tumblr.com profile] meeedeee /[personal profile] morgandawn's instructions to set up an IFTTT account that automates Cross-posting from Dreamwidth to Tumblr.

You can go the other way, but that requires using gmail as an intermediary, which I prefer not to do.

I already had a Who fandom Dreamwidth blog. Following meedee's instructions, I used recipe #1, Send all Dreamwidth Posts to Tumblr (there's also one for sending only posts with a certain tag to Tumblr).  I've altered the basic recipe slightly. For the Body, I put:

 
{{EntryContent}}<br><br>
x-posted to <a href="{{EntryUrl}}">My Dreamwidth Journal</a> | <a href="{{EntryUrl}}?mode=reply&style=mine">Please comment there</a>
 

I also set it to save as Draft rather than posting immediately.

Here's a screencap:




Note that the IFTTT website checks every 15 events to see if there's any tasks it needs to do, so cross-posts will take a little while to hit  Tumblr. The reason why I'm doing it this way is that it lets me double-check that everything looks right before it posts on Tumblr, and it lets me add images to the Tumblr post, which I can then add to the Dreamwidth post by copying their URLs.
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I keep coming back to Spare Parts. It's such a challenge to set a classic Who story where the end is a foregone conclusion, because there's no way to alter future bits of the Whoniverse, but BF has been doing it for over a decade.



Anyway, there's so many good parts of this audio, including a rare shouting match between the Doctor and Nyssa, but this part of their argument caught my attention:

Read More )
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This is me and new Who (and classic Who season 22 through 25):
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Bishop: "I'm afraid you've got a bad egg, Mr Jones"; Curate: "Oh, no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent!" "True Humility" by George du Maurier, originally published in Punch, 9 November 1895.
 
I often experience this weird love-hate dichotomy with new Who, in which I simultaneously enjoy and am aggravated by the exact same thing. So I simultaneously loved and was frustrated by an awful lot of this episode.

Read more... )
 
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(repost from Tumblr)

More Terminus thoughts.

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Nyssa’s heartbreaking “parting in good faith” scene with Tegan and Five tends to make us forget the rest of Terminus, which, flawed as it was in directing, FX and pacing, told one of the more controversial and gritty stories in the history of Who up to that time.

So I want to expand a bit in the earlier Terminus meta I wrote. Because I’ve gotten a PMs challenging me to show Nyssa isn’t just a bland and forgettable character, and dammit, HERE IS AN EXAMPLE.

Read more... )
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I’ve run into this problem for years.

It originally came up for me in some of the later Trek iterations and, especially, in Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, which weakened and undermined a lot of characters because flawed characters are more interesting easier to dramatize than nice guys. (See: Faramir wanting to take the Ring, Frodo’s “go home, Sam,” or even Denethor, reduced to a madman instead of a pragmatist who saw no rational hope of victory.) Lately, I've been noticing the problem in the nuWho I've watched. It turns up in Big Finish as well, to a lesser extent.

Here’s the pattern I’m seeing...

Read More... )
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  • Only canonically queer companion of the Fifth Doctor so far?
  • Only BRITISH companion of the Fifth Doctor so far?
  • Only deeply religious companion of the Doctor I can remember?
Hannah defies the gender norms and expectations of her time, dresses in men's clothing, refuses the epithet of "lady," and insists on being called "Ms." She's from the lesbian community of Boston in 1910 or so, probably P-Town. A hearty soul who's partial to liquor, she carries a shotgun, flirts genteelly with the ladies (including Nyssa, if you listened to that clip!), and is unfazed by aliens and alien technology. And her boisterous frankness can be quite entertaining.

Her spirituality interests me. It's rare for science fiction to deal with spirituality or religion. It's even rarer for a Who companion to express religious beliefs openly. But Hannah's spirituality informs her actions and motivates her to seek enlightenment among the stars, an unusual reason for a companion to join the Doctor. Of course, BF played it safe. Rather than portraying her as a member of a mainstream religion, Hannah is a member of "The Order of the Crescent Moon," an imaginary spiritual sect modeled on late 19th-century Spiritualism and The Order of the Golden Dawn.

Surprisingly, her spiritualism gives her something in common with Nyssa. In Darkening Eye and Land of the Dead, Nyssa mentions that her culture has learned to "combine the spiritual and the rational." For Nyssa, science and the rational come first, but can be informed by the spiritual and non-rational, those things which science can't measure or quantify. Hannah's not a scientist, but she's a very down-to-earth person, making her woo-woo convictions surprising. I think a skilled writer could do something with the two of them, tapping into the ongoing "science vs. religion" cultural debate.

On another topic, I loved Hannah pretending to be Nyssa's governess. On the one hand, it's a handy disguise, since it deflects nosy questions about the Doctor and his young lady companion: she's not his *cough*, she's his ward, for whom he's employed a respectable chaperone. On the other hand, Nyssa's not going to tolerate that arrangement for long; she's more experienced than Hannah, she's been with the Doctor for years, and she's certainly not going to act subservient to Hannah (or the Doctor). The sham governess/ward dynamic could make for some interesting character tension, plus some hilarious moments when Hannah is pretending to be in charge while Nyssa's really calling the shots. (Then again, Hannah's not likely to take any orders from her.)

Granted, the Doctor didn't seem to strike up a rapport with Hannah the way he did Erimem. Granted, the stories with Hannah so far haven't served her particularly well: the writers struggled to integrate her into the Five & Nyssa team that everyone knows so well at this point. And granted, she seems to have been a three-story-only companion.** But I can't help hoping we'll see Hannah again.

(above left: Francesca Hunt as Rebecca Fogg in The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne... too feminine a look for Hannah, but the right attitude.)




**[SPOILERS to MASQUERADE]

.

..

...

.....

Read more... )

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If a tree falls in a forest...



Welcome! It's been a wild, crazy, lovely, painful year for me, beginning my Big Finish journey in December 2013, rediscovering why Nyssa was one of my favorite characters when I was a girl in 1980, binge-listening to every one of her audio stories in 2014, falling in love all over again with older!Nyssa, making an odyssey to England to put my Team Five novella into her actress' hands, and sharing my 40-year classic Who fandom with a new generation of fans.

So. Let's talk Nyssa. PLEASE. It's been driving me crazy, that I can't discuss Entropy Plague because I don't want to spoil people, yet for me, it's as big a deal as a Doctor regenerating or the Missy reveal.

Clear out now if you want to avoid spoilers. I HAVE THINGS TO SAY. 

SPOILERS TO ENTROPY PLAGUE... )

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(posted on Tumblr in reaction to someone trying to shame somebody for using "Dr. Who.")

Who's Dr. Who?

Since the anon is confused, here’s screencaps from the show to answer their question:

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— “Dr. Who” in closing credits for original episode, Unearthly Child

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— “Dr. Who” in closing credits for Tomb of the Cybermen

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— “Dr. Who” in original pitch for the show by its creator, Sydney Newman

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 ”Dr. Who” in Radio Times listing for the very first episode. Radio Times magazine was owned by the BBC, and reported on its programming.

The BBC’s internal documents used “Dr. Who” for both the character and  the show for years.

Tons more examples of 'Dr. Who' in the show... )
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See, this is one of the reasons I created this blog. Spoiler warnings on Tumblr are all very well, but "Read More" doesn't work on mobile. So, without further ado…



For my review, I'll be vague first, so as not to give away plot points and details (i.e. spoiler-free), then I'lll rate, then I'll talk about details.

 TL;DR: I thoroughly enjoyed it.
 

Read more... )
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All right, I'm afraid i'm immediately cross-posting from my Tumblr account, but I want more people to share this horror.

I was a Whovian of the 70s and 80s. Over the holidays, I excavated all my old Who toys and books packed away at my parents' house, and came across THIS frightening monstrosity: 

 

Someone clearly wrote a Turlough and fifth Doctor novel that didn't get finished before the TV team was Peri and Six, so they just changed Five to Six and inserted Peri. But beyond that, the writing is so godawful and out of character that it's hilarious.

Therefore, I'm posting scans and snark, and inviting followers to help me go through this book. Because you just haven't lived until you've read Turlough shouting "strike me pink!" and leaping for joy.

Tune in here: Let's Play Crisis In Space



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(originally posted on Tumblr in reaction to a "Warriors of the Deep" gifset)

Poor Five.

It really is true that when the writers got to Five, they said, “Hey, here’s something we haven’t done before:* THIS Doctor is going to be fallible, and he won’t always be able to save the day! That will add to the dramatic suspense!” It was the first wave of Trope Cynicism and Meta that culminated in the dreaded Gritty Realism trope that the hero has to be an asshole and not necessarily likable.

So Five just… keeps losing battles. People. His innocence. Loss and fall from innocence are part of Eight’s arc, but Five is really the first of the lot who had the magic hero ability Pull Rabbit Out of Hat taken away from him.

*I realize that previous Doctors occasonally lost — Katarina, e.g., or the fiasco with the Brigadier blowing up the Silurians against the Doctor’s wishes, or the fall of Atlantis and the mirrorverse — but they were very rare occurrences.

The Face of Evil during the Fourth Doctor’s run had its dramatic oomph largely because it introduced a plot twist nearly UNTHINKABLE at the time: the Doctor had inadvertently screwed up on a previous visit and left a mess behind.

That wouldn’t be much of a shock with Five.

Big Finish took Fallible Five and ran with it. It’s good for drama, but it wrenches my heart. I feel bad for him. Why couldn’t he get Four’s impressive ability to Save the Day with maddening babble and faffing about? By painful degrees, Five’s failures grind down that joyous, curious, eager Doctor we glimpsed in Castrovalva. He tries so hard to help others, often putting his life on the line for them, yet the fabric of things/people he cares deeply about keeps unraveling and slipping through his fingers.

And it just keeps happening. No wonder he holds his emotions close. Peter Davison’s sad eyes seem to show the strain.

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originally posted on Tumblr Dec 2014

circular time cd cover

Circular Time contains four mini-stories tracing the arc of the Fifth Doctor’s friendship with Nyssa. The last one, “Winter” by Paul Cornell, is my all-time favorite Big Finish audio. It’s a touching, bittersweet half-hour that makes my eyes water, but more than that, it’s a powerful, sensitive character study.

Most classic Doctors keep their true feelings well-hidden. This story lets us peel away that mask and dive inside his head during a moment of extreme crisis.

MEGA SPOILERS warning.

Read more... )

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