Welcome back to the Kasterborous Round Table 2007 hosted by Lord Kopic in the dustiest of dusty annexes of Kasterborous Towers! Long overdue for a spring clean, if you ask me…
The dust of the shattered statue sparkles in the ghost light of the computer screen as Christian sits back down. We all stare in wonder at the pretty sparkles as the "evidence cookies" start to work their magic on the assembled notables… After a while of staring and occasional mutters of "oooh, pretty" and "step AWAY from the llama, Matthew" we return to our ragged senses and continue the discussions of the last series and what might be ahead for the imminent series 4. Monsters and villains next – The Daleks and The Master, especially. Should the Daleks be rested? Should The Master return? Should the Kasterborous Towers residents be allowed out in the community?
Starting with the Daleks it seems that opinion is divided amongst our group, Terra can’t get enough of them while Anthony feels that they HAVE to return each year to keep the viewing figures up, "For a good portion of the general public, who don’t watch Doctor Who on a weekly basis, the Daleks and the Doctor sit side by side." On the other hand, Christian and Nick both think they’ve been overused, with Nick summing it up nicely, "The Daleks I think we can do without in the next series or even in the specials. I want to be scared and shocked when the Daleks appear and not to think ‘oh it’s the Daleks again.’ And I’m afraid the Human Dalek Sec thing just looked silly."
Steve, meanwhile, touches on what a lone Dalek might have to do to perpetuate its kind, "Daleks I can live without if all they are going to do is build skyscrapers in New York. With only one left and their dialogue getting a bit stale, the last remaining tin can is probably going to have to look up the Daddy to take care of them. I think you know who I’m talking about. If Davros is back, and he is played by Kingsley, then I will be extremely excited by the prospect of the maniac’s return." So say we all! Christian pipes up again, putting forward an interesting theory, "I would like Dalek Caan to have been last survivor we saw in Series 1′s Dalek, and to see Davros uncovered working for a special US Military department following his escape back in Remembrance, working on a new breed of Dalek. That would be something to look forward to in, say, 2010…"
That’s the Daleks. What of The Master? "The Master had to come back sooner or later, and it was good to see him when, and in the way that we did," says Christian, "Having Jacobi portray him (again) was delightful, and one of the greatest moments of Doctor Who’s history played out in front of our eyes as Martha recalled the Face of Boe’s last words – so good in fact that I’m about to watch it again right now." The sentiment is echoed by Nick, "When Yana was looking at the fob watch I was shouting ‘go on – open it, open it…’ and when he did and said ‘I am the Master’ I literally jumped off the settee and punched the air and shouted ‘Yeeesss!!’".
Nick loves The Master, but is "glad he’s not returned to the ‘new’ show before now. His absence has created a very lonely, closed Doctor – who feels more responsible now that he’s the ‘last of the time lords’. The time of his return was perfection; after losing Rose, surely the Doctor wouldn’t want to lose somebody else from his past?" With The Master supposedly gone again, Nick reckons that "it’s all the better for Tennant’s Doctor – for now he must go forward knowing that he not only (probably!) blew up his own planet and people, but when given a second chance to redeem ‘the one that got away’ he ultimately failed. The Time Lords are gone because of the Doctor’s failings; and now there’s one more casualty to add to that list. I wonder how this will effect Tennant’s performance next year, and beyond…?" Steve isn’t sure about John Simm as The Master, "he’s quite funny in the part, and has many a decent line, but is this really what I want from the Master? Would I write him this way? No, not really. So entertaining, I’ll give him that. But like being given your favourite dinner but ten times too much, then being told you have to eat it all in one sitting."
Everyone loved the Weeping Angels from Blink with Matthew putting it rather nicely, "SERIES 3 included a stunning and unique creation – the Weeping Angels. A once in a lifetime storytelling device that was cinematic in its inspiration and beautifully realised on screen" and reckons that "the longevity of the series (both CLASSIC and NEW) is dependant on such creative concepts (even the loathed Slitheen family are an exquisite idea and superbly designed)" Hmmm… I think we’ll agree to differ on the Slitheen topic, but on the whole most of us agree with Christian when he says that series 3 stands "head and shoulders above 1 and 2 (in that order) and contribute to it being the best series of Doctor Who since Season 14 – that’s 30 years".
Conversely, the Toclafane were almost universally despised, with Terra putting it succinctly, "The Toclafane would have to go down as the worst this season. They were just a bad Dalek rip off and didn’t work to threaten or wow me."
Having thoroughly dissected the monsters and villains that tickled our fancies, the assembled motley crew move on to new pastures… The realm of spinoffs with Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures coming under close scrutiny. [Author’s note: due to a fracture in the space-time continuum, i.e. a complete failure to finish the Round Table articles in a timely fashion, Torchwood has now (almost) completed it’s run. Let’s see if our collective insights were borne out in what we saw…]
Terra reckons that "Torchwood filled in the ‘what’s on TV now’ gap for me. It was a smart show with good characters and writing, however it did have its hiccups much like any other new show during its first season" while Anthony says "If Torchwood can tone down its sex and swearing ratio, and find its focus more efficiently, then series two should do fine. There’s fantastic writers aboard the series, and some of the best directors, designers and such that the UK has to offer." Quite so, Anthony, quite so. Overall, the opinion is that the first series of Torchwood was a bit confused and "didn’t really know what it was," says Christian, "It wasn’t for adults – most adults I know stopped watching it after the Hills Have Inbred Welshmen or whatever it was called, and rightly so. It obviously wasn’t for kids – was it therefore for confused and angry teenagers? I dunno… I didn’t really get that much out of it, other than a dislike for Captain Jack, Gwen Cooper and Owen Harper, confusion over a stop clock and baffling devotion to a Cyberwoman, and some sexy moments with aliens. Weird."
Nick only watched one episode of Torchwood series one, and didn’t want to watch the more adult stuff, "I don’t see why there seems to be an obsession on TV with everybody having to have sex with everybody else. Just write a good drama for goodness sake…" He reckons, though, that "Sarah Jane will be fine for children." Terra doesn’t agree, thinking it was a let-down, "It was a kid’s show and I must remember that, but I felt she was not well served by it as a character. She had been my favorite companion for years so to see her reduced to a children’s show acting with a cast of children (sorry kids, good actor all round just not what I want to see) was a bit upsetting. It would have been nice to see a Doctor Who age group show for our old friend Sarah Jane, instead, she inherits the Slitheen. I’ll still tune in though." Christian likes Liz Sladen and says that she "is one of those rarities – a very strong actress who isn’t *that* famous, other than in Doctor Who, and with her sonic lipstick and young companions, spacious attic and supercomputer, she should find facing and fighting monsters a doddle."
Anthony liked The Sarah Jane Adventures, too, "…everything that I wanted NuWho to be back in March 2005, but ultimately found they weren’t. The spin-off mixes adult humour in a very child like manner, with well thought out, clever plots. There’s more than an occasional nod to the past, and the warm feeling that this is very much connected to the show I grew up watching as a child myself."
Matthew makes an excellent observation and there are nods from around the room when he says that "The Sarah Jane Adventures should have been better pitched at an adult audience (especially as K9 has been pouch-nabbed by commercial broadcasting), securing Sladen’s considerable talent with threatening, supernatural and alien menace stories. TSJA could have been the Torchwood that it never is/was."
A footnote now for the long-rumoured K9 show… "K9 on his own would, I feel be a total tragedy," says Christian, "anyone involved should be running to Mr Hancock and saying ‘Can we have the Daleks please?’ They’re the only true spinoff from Doctor Who, and why no one has realised this and done something about it is one of those bizarre mysteries of the world." There is more nodding and murmuring at this. In fact, Terra is nodding so fiercely that his electrodes have worked loose and there is an urgent pinging noise coming from his mobile life support system.
The discussions come to an abrupt, but temporary, halt as we rush around to the back of his chair and attempt to figure out how to wire him up again.
Tune in soon to the third and final part of the ever increasingly time warped Kasterborous Round Table 2007!