From the blog...  enjoy!
Philip Sandifer:
"the chess puzzle and its solution are completely non-sensical, that a mate-in-one puzzle that stumps an ancient god for ages is ridiculous"

I totally agree. I personally feel this story would have worked far better if it hadn't been a "sequel" to a story we never saw, if The Doctor had figured out who and what the "Evil from the dawn of time" was right here and now, and if he'd somehow figured out a way to defeat him that-- you know-- made any damn sense at all.

Tying this in with a scene in "SILVER NEMESIS" and, worse, "DRAGONFIRE" (same writer, of course) never quite worked for me. It's like, I could see what they were trying to do... I just don't think they pulled it off. And by that, I mean, they didn't convince me it made "any damn sense at all".

"The result is what is, in my experience, the single easiest piece of classic series Doctor Who to show someone who has never seen it before."

Are you KIDDING?

"So on the one hand Fenric is trying to get her to help him bring about Ragnarok"

This may be the central point. HOW? Okay, so this evil being who is somehow trapped in a ceramic flask (!!!), somehow managed to cause a time storm which whisks Dorothy Gale (haha) away from Earth in the present to Iceworld in the far future... JUST so The Doctor will pick her up as his latest travelling companion. How could he know The Doctor would show up then and there? And what real purpose is there to have Ace with The Doctor, since everything she's done since hooking up with him has been to become a better person and helping many, many other people? What the HELL am I missing here? Or is the writer really THAT incompetent?????

So much about this story is so good. WHY did it have to be so completely (in my eyes) derailed by some amateurish fanboy trying to cram in "too much stuff" into a single story, much as he did with "DRAGONFIRE"? Sure, the result here is at least 10 times better... but without the connections, and with a better, more sensible back-story and climax, it could have been damn-near perfect.

"And also that it seems to take the left-wing, anti-British sentiment too far by its suggestion that the Russian soldiers have greater, secular 'faith' than we do. Which rings false when they were living under a fear state ruled by one of the most evil, bloodthirsty tyrants in history (brought about by the revolution they claim to have such faith in), and that they would only understand success or death in this mission. There's little for them to have faith or hope in."

It's sad, it's tragic, over the years, I've come to feel the Bolshevik Revolution was perhaps the biggest, most monstrous CON-JOB ever perpetuated on a large segment of humanity. They lied and cheated and stole and MASS-MURDERED their way to the top, they told everyone left that it was some grand scheme for the betterment of mankind, when really, it was just to benefit an army of murderous gangsters who made Adolph Hitler look like an amateur.
Iain Coleman:
"The general view was more along the lines that the Russians were decent enough people much like ourselves who were ruled by a bunch of mad Communists, while the American were decent enough people much like ourselves who were ruled by a bunch of mad capitalists, and we were stuck in the middle with a great big target painted on us."

I once read an article about Gerry Anderson's "UFO" which painted the whole show as a thinly-disguised Cold War allegory, with SHADO on one side and the UFOs on the other, and the "good guys" often came across as every bit as bad as the baddies! They tended to be so obsessed with absolute secrecy at all costs (much more so than learning more about the enemy and finding ways to stop them), that innocent people were in as much danger from them as from the aliens, if, God help them, they ever found out about their top-top-secret organization.

Nick Smale:
"I found it impossible to take seriously from the moment Nicholas Parsons appears (though he gives an effective performance)."

I'd never seen him before, so I found him quite convincing and sympathetic. (Although I could have sworn he'd played the Vicar on "TO THE MANOR BORN", but no, that was someone else.) As it turns out, checking the IMDB, I see he played The Sheriff on Gerry Anderson's "FOUR FEATHER FALLS". (heh)

Adam Riggio:
"I know it'll be a while, but I am quite interested in hearing your take on Battlestar Galactica eventually. Given its unlikely revival in 2003-4, and its hitting a creative peak concurrent with the Eccleston and first Tennant years of Doctor Who, I think it's reasonable to expect you to pop between realities to it."

There was a while there, where BG and DW were the 2 best things on TV, but whereas the BG redo was a dark, nasty, unlikeable F*** of a series, I found the writing and the characters on DW to be much better. In other words, almost as soon as it debuted here, I found the revived DOCTOR WHO to be the best damn thing on TV, period!!!

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Watched this yesterday...

1)I gather Nicholas Parsons was better-known as a game show host thna an acotr by this point in his career, I still think he does reasonably well, especially considering that he apparently didn't have the slightest idea what was supposed to be going on. (At least, that is the impression one gets from listening to the commentary track.)


2)The actors playing the Russians were all Poles, and this being at the tail end of the Warsaw Pact days, they felt they had to be careful how they played their parts, in case the Reds would make trouble for their families back home. The characters were all named after characters from Chekhov.


3)I did like the interaction between Ace and the baby that would be her mother.


4)Yes, what kind of Ancient Horror lets itself get locked up because it couldn't solve a chess problem?  Also, what kind of Ancient Horror dies just because the body it was possessing is destroyed? Surely it could have leapt into someone else?


5)Some fun quotes:

  • "It's always the family idiot that takes the cloth."
  • "Do you have any family yourself?" "I don't know."
  • "I didn't know you were married."  Nice touch, Ace forgetting that social mores were different in those days.
  • "Don't interrupt me when I'm eulogizing."



  • Part One: The Reds get the drop on the Doctor and Ace!
  • Part Two: "You're too late, Doctor!"  Cut to reaction shot of Sylvester McCoy!
  • Part Three: "We play the contest again, Time Lord." Cut to reaction shot of Sylvester McCoy! (Someone's been watching "Trial of a Time Lord"!)
  • Part Four: The Doctor and Ace leave Maiden's Point...



I enjoyed this well enough, although it could perhaps have used a little editing as regards clarifying the Doctor's first encounter with Fenric.

"Also, what kind of Ancient Horror dies just because the body it was possessing is destroyed? Surely it could have leapt into someone else?"

Which reminds me, not that long ago I write a story involving supernatural horror, and (partly as a joke) referred to the disembodied spirit in it as "evil from the dawn of time", just to reference this story, even though it really had nothing to do with it.  (I think mine made more sense, but that's me. A friend of mine told me he heard advice once, that it's often a good idea to take a really flawed story and rewrite it to make it better, and make it make sense.)

Story  Nicholas Parsons, who played the vicar in this story, has died. One of those people who was a broadcasting legend in the UK, but largely unknown over here.

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