Ten Things… has moved

Over the course of the last full series of Doctor Who, I wrote a series of blog posts here collectively entitled Ten Things About Who, which I then collected into an ebook for Kindle.

I’m going to be doing the same again this series, but rather than on here, I’ve moved such posts to a new blog: TenThings.tv.

The site’s very much a work in progress at the moment, but the first post is ready:

Ten Things About… Deep Breath

 

 

Ten Things About Who: the book

Ten Things About Who


Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

So the fourteen Ten Things About Who posts that I wrote about Doctor Who series 7, from Asylum of the Daleks to The Name of the Doctor, are now available to buy as an ebook on the Kindle platform. That means you will be able to read it not only on a Kindle hardware device, but also via the gamut of free Amazon Kindle apps for various computing platforms.

It’s my first ebook, so this is as much a learning curve for me, finding out what the platform can (and cannot) do for me as an author prior to using it for slightly less frivolous publications.

What’s in the book

Each chapter of the book contains ten points for discussion raised by an episode of Series 7. Why does the Doctor go on about needing milk for Oswin’s soufflés, when the obvious ingredient to ask about is…? Where on earth did Rory go to get coffee in New York city? Would there really have been a black priest in the American West town of Mercy? Why was The Rings of Akhaten so blooming dreary?

In taking the blog posts I was writing each week as the series aired, I’ve revised, and often expanded, many of the sections. To keep things simple, any included videos and audio files have had to be dropped, which is unfortunate – but thankfully they were mostly incidental to the points being made. What I’ve tried not to do is lose the immediacy of the posts. Some of the thoughts about who Clara is, or could be, for example, are way off-base now that we’ve all seen The Name of the Doctor – but to remove that speculation would have been to abandon the journey just because we know now the destination.

And online…

The original blog posts remain in place for free, and will do so for as long as the blog itself exists. I probably won’t go back and add in the expanded information from some of the sections, although some of the more glaring spelling mistakes that I somehow missed the first time round may find themselves getting corrected!

And of course, I’m now in the process of revisiting Series 1 in the same format. Next weekend, I’ll be up to Aliens of London. Depending on how my experience with this first ebook goes, I may well collect these retrospective Ten Things… posts in a similar format.

Do let me know what you think – as I said, this is a learning process for me, and opinions from people I trust is going to be invaluable. Thank you.

Ten Things About Who is available to buy, or to borrow for free for Amazon Prime members

Ten Things About Who: The Unquiet Dead

And a very Merry Christmas to you! Yes, it’s technically midsummer outside, which naturally means the threat of rain hangs overhead. But in the world of Ten Things About Who, we’re simultaneously back in April 2005 and Christmas 1869.

God bless us, every one!

1. The stiffs are getting lively

And so we get the first real emergence of the pre-credits sequence as it has become used. A peril, often Doctor-less, that sets the tone for the rest of the episode. Here, Mr Sneed’s “Oh no” when faced with a revived brings with it a weary familiarity that tells us that while we are in a story from the past, this is not your average historical story.

League of Gentlemen fans will, of course, have known of Mark Gatiss’ delight in lacing elements of historical horror with humour. It’s a vein he’s returned to, of course – most recently with The Crimson Horror. It’s when he steps away from this template (Cold War, and The Idiot’s Lantern, which is horrific but in a very different way) that things go awry for me.

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Ten Things About… The End of the World

Okay, so maybe a weekly schedule for these was a little over-optimistic. Two weeks after I revisited Rose, we’re now on to the TARDIS’s first visit to the future in its 2005 series.

1. Previously…

In the classic series, we were used to seeing episodes 2 onwards of a multi-episode series to repeating the end of the previous episode. But the opening of this episode is really the first to do the American-style montage of clips from throughout the episode of Rose. It’s not directly relevant to this episode, other than to just remind people new to the world of the Doctor what Rose had previously been through.

Thankfully, it’s rarely been needed since. And even here, it’s only included because the original scripts ended up under-running. Which is all the more remarkable, because it feels that these first episodes crack on at a pace that was missing in sadly far too many episodes of series 7.

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Ten Things About Who: Rose

Now that ‘series 7’ of Doctor Who is out of the way, I’ve found that I miss writing ten points about an episode. So I’ve decided to carry on – rewinding all the way to 2005’s Rose, and continuing from there. Doctor Who Magazine has chronologically looked back with its Time Team features – but their conceit is that they’re watching as if for the first time, and without reference to any stores broadcast after the one they’re watching.

My posts will most definitely be written from a 2013 perspective, introducing thoughts about how the series has changed – or not – since its return; other shows the series has influenced, or been influenced by, offscreen and on; and any old randomness that comes into my head. Please do chip in in the comments below each post if you have your own thoughts about the episode in question.

Don’t expect the frequency to always be weekly, although I will try and keep up the pace. If you want to know when each one has been published, you can follow me on Twitter or subscribe to my public posts on Facebook.

And so sit back, press Play, and rejoice in the fact that on DVD, the department store basement won’t resound with the echo of Graham Norton doing a sound check for Strictly Dance Fever.

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Ten Things About Who: The Name of the Doctor

This post has been edited, tidied up and expanded to form part of my new ebook, TEN THINGS ABOUT WHO, available on Kindle. Buy it now for £1.99More details

Okay, this time more than ever, you must watch the episode before reading anything about it. Spoilers, sweetie…

Read previous Ten Things About… posts

1. “Less poetry, Doctor”

Do you hear the Whisper Men
The Whisper Men are near
If you hear the Whisper Men
Then turn away your ear

Do not hear the Whisper Men
Whatever else you do
For once you’ve heard the Whisper Men
They’ll stop… and look at you

A simple, but effective, design helps lift the Whisper Men from being the generic henchmen that they would otherwise become. I couldn’t help being reminded of the Gentlemen that Joss Whedon created for one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s best ever episodes, the near-silent Hush. True, they stole hearts rather than just stopping them – but they, too, were presaged by a cod nursery rhyme:

Can’t even shout, can’t even cry
The Gentlemen are coming by
Looking in windows, knocking on doors
They need to take seven and they might take yours
Can’t call to mom, can’t say a word
You’re gonna die screaming but you won’t be heard.

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Ten Things About Who: The Crimson Horror

This post has been edited, tidied up and expanded to form part of my new ebook, TEN THINGS ABOUT WHO, available on Kindle. Buy it now for £1.99More details

1. “Only the crumbliest, flakiest humans…”

The naming of Mrs Gillyflower’s match factory as ‘Sweetville’ invites comparison with Bournville, the community created by George and Richard Cadbury to house the workers and families of their chocolate factory when production moved out of Birmingham to a new greenfield site.

As it is, it is more a pastiche of the whole ‘model village’ movement, in which industrialists whose new, heavily industrialised factories constructed whole townships for the required large workforce and their families, on philanthropic lines infused by the owners’ Christian values. Bournville is, of course, one such community, formed by the Quaker Cadbury brothers. Sweetville’s Yorkshire location more closely invites comparison with Saltaire, founded by Sir Titus Salt and now a World Heritage site.

Mind you, I did for one moment wonder whether the fuchsia-coloured liquid that Sweetville’s inhabitants were being doused in was fondant, and that Mr Sweet would turn out to be The Kandyman from 1988’s The Happiness Patrol

2. Special stuff

Maybe it’s just the camp sendup of the gothic, maybe it’s the Yorkshire accents – but this week’s episode felt like it was a (family friendly) sibling to The League of Gentlemen. The mortuary attendant, with his leering tone and wandering tongue, could easily have been a Steve Pemberton creation.

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Ten Things About Who: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

This post has been edited, tidied up and expanded to form part of my new ebook, TEN THINGS ABOUT WHO, available on Kindle. Buy it now for £1.99More details

1. The Van Baalen Brothers

If Tricky really thought he was an android, how did he explain a need for nutrition (and the resultant excretion)? But if the conceit about having been tricked into believing he’s robotic doesn’t really stand up from that angle, the clues are there: right from the beginning, his attitude to the plight of the Doctor and Clara – and of the TARDIS herself – is the most human of the three brothers’.

2. That’s some heavy polystyrene you’ve got there

Poor Jenna-Louise Coleman. It can’t be easy to have to wake up from a completely unconscious state, free yourself from under what is doubtless supposed to be extremely cumbersome masonry, leap to your feet and then brush yourself down in the space of about three seconds.

You can, apparently, just about manage it in the time allotted if you ensure that not a single step of that process looks genuine.

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Ten Things About Who: Hide

This post has been edited, tidied up and expanded to form part of my new ebook, TEN THINGS ABOUT WHO, available on Kindle. Buy it now for £1.99More details

1. The Baker Street Irregulars

Major Palmer is described by the Doctor as one of the “Baker Street Irregulars”, in this case indicating he was part of Churchill’s Special Operations Executive, which conducted espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance against Britain’s enemies. For more information, see the BBC’s history website.

Given his age in 1974, he must have been very young to send other operatives to their deaths during the war, as he states here.

2. You say Metebelis, I say Metebelis

The planet Metebelis Three, and the mind-focussing powers of its crystalline substances, formed vital plot points in 1973’s The Green Death and 1974’s Planet of the Spiders, making its first appearance in Doctor Who contemporaneous with the setting of this episode.

Of course, back then the Doctor pronounced it differently – MeteBEElis rather than, as here, MeTEBBelis. It does seem odd that the production team would include a deliberate back-reference to Classic Who and yet not pick up on the apparent discrepancy.

But then again, maybe it was the Third Doctor who got it wrong in the first place. Also in The Green Death, he mispronounced the word “chitin” as “CHITTIN”, rather than the correct “KITE-IN”. Which precipitated a famous letter to the production team of the day:

The reason I’m writin’
Is how to say “chitin”

Perhaps Matt Smith took elocution lessons from Siri? This is how Apple’s UK voice (based on Jon Briggs, voiceover artist for The Weakest Link and other shows) pronounces it.

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Ten Things About Who: Cold War

Ten discussion points about the Doctor Who 2013 episode, Cold War by Mark Gatiss

This post has been edited, tidied up and expanded to form part of my new ebook, TEN THINGS ABOUT WHO, available on Kindle. Buy it now for £1.99More details

1. A timely reminder

No amount of foresight could have anticipated that this episode of Doctor Who would be aired in the week of Margaret Thatcher’s passing. As it was, though, it meant that the schedules in the week leading up to this broadcast were full of echoes of the 1980s.

The pre-credits sequence refers to “NATO exercises”, which the Captain dismisses as “sabre-rattling”. Given that the story is set in 1983, this could be a reference to Able Archer 83, a ten-day exercise in November which led to the USSR’s own escalation, in the belief that the war games could be masking preparations for a genuine conflict.

Although if that were the case, and this episode is taking place while UK audiences were celebrating the 20th anniversary of a certain TV show by watching Elisabeth Sladen roll down the world’s gentlest incline, the North Pole would be a lot darker than it is shown to be here…

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