“Delicious torture awaits!”

Aww, The Androzani Team say the nicest things!

Since my latest crossword isn’t Who related, I thought it was time to move it to a new, crossword-related blog.

 

Please have a look here for more crosswords, plus the Whoey ones (for completeness)

http://crossswords.wordpress.com/

 

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I couldn’t help myself, I just had to make up another “Bad tempered oath (9)”

As usual, there are a few Whoey clues and/or answers mixed in with the less Doctorly ones.

Across
7. See 12
8. Insectoid buzzin’ but no “hi” (5)
10. Time Lord, perhaps the Doctor? (3,5)
11. Short logician in mature occupation – of Steed, perhaps? (6)
12, 7. Swirly time hid swirly bus driver and possible Time Lady (4,9)
13. Sign ran back to kill polymath (8)
15. Sort of crisis for health care professional when primary welfare is left out and left in (7)
17. Feelings shown by half-smirks and falsehoods (7)
20. 32 below freezing in the US, shirt and newspaper necessary on many occasions (8)
22. Obligation, may involve interest (4)
25. 23 players dubious and disdainful (6)
26. Notorious Italian city almost within ring, almost (8)
27. Race in the manner of a crib (5)
28. Sir loses head, wears dress – at 18? (9)
Down
1. Place in toilets for comedian and actor (5)
2. Thing back in, was on horseback – correct me if I’m wrong (6)
3, 18. Murder mystery from 14, or sound of sapphire waterfall? (6,2,8)
4. Beryl – aunt and ‘arbinger (7)
5. Add extra large 5 for Gerry-built spaceship (8)
6. Overheard plan to imprison a ruminant aboard ship – he’s not quite general (9)
9. Friend of 16, owned joint in the past (4)
14. Story lovers use mature protection (3,6)
16. Friend of 9 with lo-calorie appendage (8)
18. See 3
19. Advanced type of paper, almost like Robin (7)
21. Can first Mesoamerican culture (4)
23. Game found after 6 and mostly mythological river, and before New Zealand island (6)
24. Legal judgement from noted airline (5)

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Another CrossWHOrd

Thanks so much to The Androzani Team for describing me as having a devious and cruel mind, and for saying that they enjoyed my Jumbo Crossword immensely. Now that I have some worthy opponents, perhaps I should ramp up the difficulty slightly…

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A Jumbo Winter Solstice Crossword!

This crossword has a theme, which means that a reasonable number of answers relate to it, as do some of the clues (though clues that relate to the theme don’t necessarily have answers that do, and vice versa). The theme can be found by answering this clue: “TV series that if treated as a command could lead to another one (from the 70s)” (6,3)

(There is also a secondary, related theme to do with clues 23 and 11, which should in itself be a clue!)

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Another crossword

 Image

Across 

1 Old fashioned entertainment during Xmas? Questionable! (6)
4 Limit thanks in rank of immortal (7)
9 Shaken heroes met troilism (9)
10 Mongolian tribe, or operating system? (5)
11 Unit of illumination, or planet of robots? (5)
12 Combat area where Zoe had ten, roughly (5,4)
13 Miss Hawthorne’s kind lose head, get Doctor’s – you can dig them? (7)
15 Superfan goes past end of line due to wind (6)
17 Seers like Basil’s other half’s (6)
19 Voltage and current rage for Great Enemy! (7)
22 Hope novice actress arrives before end of Tom (without Mark) in Maryland (9)
24 Favourite sheep thrown into jail heartlessly (5)
26 Dole out plenty, I’m told (5)
27 Being like a geek, siren ends break (9)
28 Where Flash Gordon was shot, in Hotel Street (7)
29 Nothing a rock band can’t back out of, as was recognised by Ancelyn (6)

Down 

1 Wilfred went first, well spotted (7)
2 Holy man, god, unknown one of the 23 7 9 (5)
3 Bend next to numeral suffix, like Susan! (9)
4 Make about its start: what Doctor did to Master’s body (7)
5 Bear found round pole lost moon (5)
6 Minor and Major planets, also evil woman swallowing fantasy world (9)
7 See 23
8 Short day on the German planet (6)
14 9s of edges? Figures! (9)
16 Fruit drink, or The Third Man’s black market drug? (4,5)
18 Poetic license due to fall (7)
19 See 21
20 Macpherson’s broadcasting, so to speak, to SF writer (7)
21, 19 Skills ‘ave crazy morning backed by one of the 23 7 9 (6,6)
23, 7 Forum contributor, a bird during prayer (5,6)
25 Ancient invention found in space (5)

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May 26, 2013 · 11:47 pm

Crossword

This is a cryptic crossword, but not too difficult (i.e. not quite up to Araucaria’s standard).

The theme is given by the solution to this clue:

Empty dude goes through door and finds most of prostitute (no, it isn’t “Torchwood”) (6,3)

(Which indicates the level of difficulty, I guess. Alternatively, you can just look at the blog header!)

Or if that’s too easy, this might be a bit more of a challenge.

The theme this time is given by the answer to this clue:

Programme returns fish to rock outcrop? Head off cries of joy! (6,3)

Note – clues in quotes share a common attribute, and star the (slightly concealed) person to whom they are attributed.

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May 25, 2013 · 11:06 pm

Goodbye, my Sarah Jane.

Elisabeth Sladen 1948-2011

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Filed under doctor who, Elisabeth Sladen, In memoriam, Sarah Jane Smith, The Sarah Jane Adventures

Space and Time

The 2011 “Children in Need” special. Contains spoilers, so go and watch it on YouTube before reading any further.

Almost a harmless bit of fluff with some amusing lines; certainly less irritating than “Time Crash” (which involved hyper manic “skinny idiot” David Tennant being effortlessly outclassed by Peter Davison). But Stephen Moffat’s insightful comments on how women suffer from a glass ceiling amusingly and ironically inverted sub-adolescent humour was rather grating, and just a tad creepy – does he really think it’s suitable for either children or adults to have the entire situation arise because Rory is looking up Amy’s skirt? I was under the impression that they had got married recently, which in my experience obviates any compulsion the man might have felt beforehand to, ahem, “sneak a peek.” This feels uncomfortably like the writer’s prurience coming through, rather than anything else. As G.K Chesterton said, “A good story tells you the truth about its hero; a bad story tells you the truth about its author.”

This is on a par with Moffat’s rather awkward handling of the grown-up bits in various other stories, which at its worst is crossed with a mile-wide river of sentimentality; throw in some crass dialogue about “my lonely angel” and you have “The Girl in the Fireplace”…

Anyway, all the above sort of matches up with the peculiar and unlikable behaviour he foisted on Amy in the last series, such as having her throw herself at the Doctor and then, having apparently finally chosen Rory (in “Amy’s Choice”) she then tried to drag the Doctor into the bushes on her wedding day. This isn’t so much a strong female character, which I’m all for, as a person who treats her partner with complete contempt.

Anyway, moving on…

The spacey-wacey and timey-wimey stuff was OK, I suppose, but we have seen that sort of thing several times now, and it’s reached the point where a story that isn’t a ripoff of “By His Bootstraps,” “Man in His Time,” “Chronocrimes” or “Red Dwarf” would come as a refreshing change. It was amusing in The Curse of Fatal Death, clever and rather moving in Blink and at least impressive in A Christmas Carol. And, yes, it is nice that someone has noticed that Doctor Who is about time travel, and taken on board the implications, which in old-Who were only glimpsed occasionally (e.g. in “The Ark”, “The Time Meddler”, “Day of the Daleks”, etc) – and in RTD-Who just about nonexistent – but I do hope we aren’t going to spend the next few series’ stuck in the plot equivalent of a chronic hysteresis. (I realise that could be seen as ironic, but it could also be seen as a wee bit boring.)

So, I hope Moffat has a few more tricks up his sleeve; but if he hasn’t, I trust he will at least encourage other writers who do have fresh ideas. That was, after all, how the programme started, with lots of different takes on the central idea (compare, say, The Aztecs, The Daleks, The Celestial Toymaker, The War Machines and The Web Planet).

The previous showrunner apparently liked to put his oar into other people’s scripts, generally (IMHO) to their detriment. For example, Russell famously gave some writers “shopping lists” of things to include, for no obviously good reason (“New York 1930s, Pig Men, sewers, showgirls, the Empire State Building”), shoe-horned jokes into someone else’s script – and, indeed, changed the whole point of at least one story (“So, will you weep for the poor little Dalek? Russell T Davies says you will.”)

The only person whose scripts he never touched was, apparently, Stephen Moffat. I hope Moffat feels similarly towards all the other writers over whom he is supposed to exercise “creative control”.

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Evil mastermind steals secret plans…

First there were rumours that Tony Hancock (for whom Terry Nation worked as a script writer) really created the Daleks, and now this.

Steven Clark, 51, says he invented Davros for a competition run by the now defunct TV Action magazine in 1972. Entrants were asked to create a comic-strip villain, and Mr Clark claims he invented the name Davros and sent in a drawing of the character along with a handwritten essay called The Genesis Of The Daleks: The Creation Of Davros.

His drawing – a pencil sketch coloured in with felt pens – showed a ‘half-man half-Dalek’ with an additional eye in the centre of his forehead, a headset, epaulettes, a withered left hand and finger-like switchgear on the Dalek base.

Father-of-three Mr Clark, from Ashford, Kent, has now launched High Court proceedings to try to prove the BBC and its commercial arm BBC Worldwide have been using the character without his permission for nearly four decades.

If this is true, he deserves some sort of recognition. “Genesis of the Daleks” is generally thought to be the point at which Terry Nation returned to form after several relatively lacklustre scripts, and if he had help – or at least drew some inspiration – from a 13 year old fan, he should at least have acknowledged the fact.

(Of course, it may all turn out to be a scam… In the meantime I will try to dig out those old scripts for “Space Trek” I once sent to Gene Roddenberry*.)

*OK, I admit I nicked that joke. So sue me.

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A Night at the Optera

Once upon a time, I attempted to write a review of The Web Planet. This is what came out.

(Note that this contains a few spoilers.)

First, hurrah! There are no soapy subplots here, no modern moral dubiety, no smug postmodern complexity – just a group of friends on an outing and a “Boy’s Own” storyline. Those were the days. The Doctor is mysterious and irascible, more concerned that he might lose his ring than wishing to receive the thanks of the people whose planet he saves. Ian and Barbara get their own mini-adventures, Ian showing a healthy sense of proportion by grumping about losing his old school tie while Barbara is the role model we expect, rallying the troops and planning an invasion. And Vicki is the Doctor’s sidekick, in case he needs someone to explain things to or hold his walking stick.

At 6 episodes, this story is a tad long and drawn out from a modern perspective; or rather, from the perspective of watching the whole thing in quick succession. (But the video library would have made us pay lots more if we’d tried to watch it over 6 weeks, as originally broadcast.) Also, of course, it would have been better to have been 8 years old, and to have watched it as part of an ongoing saga that was simply part of your life, and to be able to imagine oneself on an alien world so completely that one didn’t notice the strings or the actors’ legs. And to have had no idea that the series would last another 47 years, or that William Hartnell wouldn’t always be the Doctor…

However.

However, the first episode was marvellously atmospheric, and gave the feeling that this really was an alien planet, complete with acid pools, numerous moons, a lunar surface, and some sort of prism effect on the camera lens. And mysterious happenings – eerie noises, vanishing pens, people being controlled by their bracelets – and, of course, a disappearing TARDIS.

I was surprised that the Zarbi (effectively giant ants, although evolution took a different turn on Vortis and they ended up with only two legs) were actually relatively convincing, in that you could easily forget there was a person inside (as I, at least, do most of the time with the Daleks). They only made weird sounds, which emphasised their alienness – one of the few species in the cosmos not susceptible to the TARDIS’s “telepathic translator”, apparently. The Larvae Guns, huge animated hairbrushes with glowing eyes and very long noses, were similarly quite convincing, given the limitations. The Menoptera and the “jumping bugs” were less good, inevitably, since they had to communicate with our heroes, which made their “human side” more obvious. It would have been better if they’d hidden their all-to-human looking mouths somehow. In an attempt to increase their alienness, they used flowing gestures and a sort of dominance display where they hissed at each other, but this just tended to highlight their inadequacies. The jumping bugs looked particularly silly in this respect.

The Zarbi were quite menacing in their appearance and behaviour, and the fact that you couldn’t talk to them. Just a force to be escaped or fought – reminiscent of the Yeti in that respect.

The Menoptera failed to convince as a fighting force, being on a par with the Thals in the first Dalek story, but with less justification, since they were allegedly the advanced force for an invasion rather than wandering farmers. (Although they were supposed to have been forced into war reluctantly, so perhaps that was intentional.)

And they were, apparently, only armed with one weapon. Just one. It was called an “isoptope,” and seemed to do them little good most of the time. It was supposed to destroy the Animus, the creature that had taken control of Vortis, although I’m not sure how they knew what would destroy it. (But then how would the Animus know how to devise things like giant wishbones capable of controlling people when put round their necks?) There was some confusing stuff about “aiming for the dark side” when the isotope finally came to be used on the Animus, and exactly how it was defeated was obscure. The gun obviously worked, but maybe not as expected.

(There were a few bits of dodgy science, e.g. how the Menoptera managed to fly in the allegedly thin atmosphere … but anyone who expects real science needs their neutron polarity reversed. As Stephen Moffatt would say, “it’s only Doctor Who“).

It was also a straightforward adventure involving goodies and baddies (hurrah!). Or a baddie, to be exact, who spends most of the story communicating via something akin to Get Smart’s cone of silence. Originally, Vortis was a sort of hippie paradise, full of butterflies frolicking amongst the flowers; only the Animus’ evil influence turned everything to custard. A plot that some may recognise from the Bible, or Lord of the Rings, of course, and which in modern times might seem a wee bit lacking in depth.

The story was at best average for televised SF of the era, especially if we ignore Quatermass and the Twilight Zone and so on. I suppose it rather cuts down on the story possibilities when the putative villains are restricted to speaking in high-pitched twittering noises. But The Web Planet was obviously intended to rest mainly on its creation of an alien world. It would have been better in this regard with a huge budget, of course, but I don’t think this is the main weakness – the story is too thin, drawn out over too many episodes, the dialogue is rather pedestrian, the (alien) characters rather childishly drawn. In fact, I’d say this story relies too much on special effects – which may strike some viewers of the modern series as a familiar complaint!

However, my 8-year-old son, who I was half expecting to be scornful, enjoyed it. (Although it isn’t his all-time favourite Doctor Who story. That’s The Chase…)

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