This week, Danny and Rob attempt to cover Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, but get sidetracked by the History of the Time War book in the TARDIS library. From there, they cover Gallifrey, the Time Lords, aliases and renegades, and just about everything but the episode. Until the end, anyway.
This episode did not go how I expected it, but that’s probably for the best. I didn’t think much of the episode, so our rabbit hole probably made for better discussion.
The below review was written by my mother, Rebecca Stewart. She, like me, was very impressed with “Cold War.” While I’ve done a podcast on the subject, I thought I would share her written review as well, as I feel they go hand-in-hand.
Cold War stands out as an anomaly in an otherwise glib farce of a once-brilliant science fiction show: the new series of Doctor Who. From start to finish, it is thrilling, compelling, scary, and most importantly, the plot makes sense! In addition, the companion does not outshine the Doctor (for a change), and there were even strong and memorable incidental characters. These are all things you could expect from the classic Doctor Who, but in stark contrast, noticeably lacking in the new show.
The setting created the perfect atmosphere for the entire episode: a Russian submarine armed against American aggression during [of course] the Cold War in the 1980s. The submarine was descending and taking on water when the TARDIS happened to land in it in the midst of chaos and panic. The Doctor quickly assessed the situation and commandingly gave orders for how to stop their dangerous plummet that would have meant certain death if they’d crashed on the ocean floor. The Russian captain was naturally hesitant to take orders from a stranger who’d just appeared out of nowhere with another stranger in the form of a young woman at his side. Yet the Doctor’s air of knowledge and authority won the day, and he deferred to his orders, safely moving the ship laterally onto a rocky shelf. In the midst of all this action, the TARDIS suddenly and inexplicably dematerialized, leaving them very much stranded in the submarine. But true to the essential character of the Doctor, he would have stayed and helped them anyway.
The writing of this episode was done with great care and thought. The characters were very typical humans. The executive officer challenged the captain and wanted to use one of the bombs they had on board against the U.S. The captain was able to contain the would-be rebellion, but senseless hostility and insubordination is a realistic portrayal of the human element—something you don’t often see in the new series. There was also a character who demonstrated the overall stupidity of human nature by taking it upon himself to free something unknown they’d found on their journey in a block of ice, thereby making their already treacherous situation far, far worse. On the other end of the spectrum, also realistically presented as an exception, there was a professor on board who had an open mind and a willingness to adapt to the situation. He is one of the strong characters I referred to as being a refreshing change from most of the cardboard cookie-cutter types written for the current weaker plots.
As if they weren’t in enough trouble already, as soon as one of the idiots impulsively used a blowtorch to melt the ice block, it released an alien creature that had been trapped for 5,000 years. It turned out to be an Ice Warrior—and not just any Ice Warrior, but Grand Marshal Skaldak, an important leader of their race. After one of the “idiots” used a cattle prod on him, they chained him up—at the Doctor’s insistence. Afterward, there was a heated debate between the Doctor and the Russian Captain. The same idiot wielding the cattle prod earlier then claimed they were Western spies, but it was pointed out they spoke perfect Russian. The Doctor’s newest companion, Clara, asked the Doctor if they were speaking Russian, and then how they could be speaking Russian—to which he answered both times, “Now?” He quickly muttered that the TARDIS has an automatic language translator that gets inside your head: a refreshing and often-overlooked necessity to explain how they’re always able to communicate with whatever people they land amongst.
Clara won the argument by suggesting she go in and talk to Skaldak using a headset so the Doctor could coach her. Despite her later assessment of it going as badly as it could have, she got him to open up to her. Because of her obvious harmlessness, he shared with her his proud experience going into his last battle with his daughter at his side singing songs of “the red snows.”
Then things got even scarier when she discovered he had opened up his shell suit and left. Outside that impenetrable suit, an Ice Warrior is vulnerable yet at their most dangerous, partly because they are lightning fast unencumbered by their armored shell. Skaldak’s first victim was the mutinous soldier who suggested making “an alliance” with him (as if Skaldak could have benefited in any way from such an arrangement). The rest of the crew and the Doctor and Clara split up to try and find him. Clara ended up being paired with the Professor, an extremely likeable quirky character who was quite memorable in this episode in his own right. He had a penchant for playing Western ’80s music on his headphones, first displayed in his entrance when he sang “Oh, Vienna” by Ultravox. He “bloody love[s] them.” It was impossible not to like him immediately. By the time he was paired with Clara to search for the shell-less Skaldak, he could see Clara was very frightened and doubtful of their fate. He brought a badly needed air of calm to the situation and tried to distract her. He asked if she knew “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran, and she said “Yes,” she sang it on karaoke night. But she refused to sing it then.
Not surprisingly, Skaldak came across two redshirts and killed them next. When the Doctor, Clara, and the Professor came in and found them, there were very plausible reactions from each. The Professor was commenting on the nature of what Skaldak did, the Doctor was analyzing what was done to them and dispassionately deducing the reason, and Clara was seemingly in shock and speechless. This was one of several scenes very much like classic Doctor Who. Clara was so horrified that the Professor had to call her away and try and get her to calm down. In her words, seeing those dismembered corpses made it all “real.”
Skaldak’s next attempt to strike was at Clara, but only for a brief moment—the Professor was with her and had a gun. This successfully dissuaded Skaldak from attacking Clara, but then he went for the Professor. Clara pleaded with Skaldak to let him go, and that’s when the others entered the scene. Skaldak then reiterated his threat against the whole of humanity—if his people were gone, he had nothing left to lose. He summoned his shell suit, slipped back inside it, then walked toward the control room to prepare one of the nuclear warheads. The Doctor and the others followed, hoping to persuade him not to. Clara asked why Skaldak would show compassion for the Professor by allowing him to live but not show that same compassion then. The Doctor told him he didn’t have to do it, and that his people must still be alive somewhere in the universe.
At that moment, the ship started moving—it was being pulled up to the surface. Skaldak realized his people had come for him, so he didn’t detonate the warhead. Once he was teleported to his ship, they all thought they “did it.” But the Doctor pointed out the nuclear warhead could still be set off from the Ice Warriors’ ship, if Skaldak still chose to. So in that moment, remembering what Skaldak had shared with her about how he and his daughter sang songs of “the red snows” in their last battle, Clara finally got the courage to sing a line from “Hungry Like the Wolf.” Immediately after that, the nuclear warhead was turned off: Skaldak and Clara had made a connection, and that unlikely yet touching gesture caused Skaldak to let them all live.
Danny and Rob discuss Hide. From the atmospheric buildup to the Doctor’s involvement, his true motivations for going there in the first place, pocket universes, and overuse of the TARDIS, this episode offers a lot of both good and bad. But how does it stack up to the impressive entries in the season so far?
Rob tried to be proactive this time and guess what I liked and didn’t like in the episode. He did a great job, too.
This week, Danny and Rob dive (pardon the pun) into Cold War. The Ice Warriors return in an episode which felt surprisingly like something out of the classic series. What was it about this episode that worked so well, and why does Danny seem to hold it in such high regard?
I loved Cold War, and I think we did a great job covering why I felt it worked so well.
This week, Chris and Danny are joined by special guest Ian Stewart to discuss the first two episodes of series 7B of Doctor Who. They discuss killer Wi-Fi, human agents, space mopeds, and the ultimate resolution on Akhaten. Finally, they cover all the things Murray Gold has done wrong (and the few he’s done right) in his latest version of the Doctor Who theme.
This week, Danny and Rob begin their discussion of The Bells of Saint John. While they take many detours and tangents along the way and ultimately never get to some of what they really wanted to cover, much great discussion is had about the history of the show, its format, and repeating the mistakes of the classic series.
Danny and Rob wrap up last week’s discussion about The Bells of Saint John before diving deep into The Rings of Akhaten, where they cover a political science angle to Doctor Who (and sci-fi in general), the many high points of the episode and things done well, and finally why the conclusion ultimately failed to deliver.
All three of these are great, and I hope you enjoy them. And don’t worry— an episode on “Cold War” is coming very soon.
This week, Chris and Danny are joined by special guest Josef Kenny, as they revisit the topic of gaming. They go further into their respective histories with early generations of game consoles before converging in the present regarding Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, and what the future may hold.
It was nice getting all three of us in the same room for this one.
This week, Danny and Rob share their thoughts on the upcoming mid-season premiere, The Bells of Saint John. Intending to branch into a discussion of the rest of the series, they instead discuss the evolution of the new series Cybermen and why they haven’t ever had a good story post-2005, plus much more.
CVE is a weekly podcast centered around the televised incarnations of Doctor Who, hosted by Danny Stewart, a lifelong and perhaps overly defensive fan of the classic series, and Robert Gesualdo, a newcomer to the show through its modern revival. Worlds collide as Danny and Rob discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of everything that makes up the ever-expanding universe of Doctor Who.
As I hinted in a previous post, I’ve been working on expanding my efforts in the realm of podcasting. It’s something I’ve found I enjoy doing, and something that I’m finding I have more and more to contribute to as I get better and more comfortable with doing it.
With that in mind, I am very excited to make a couple of announcements that have been waiting in the wings for a while. First, I am launching a brand new podcast dedicated exclusively to Doctor Who. Last year I made a new friend at work by the name of Rob Gesualdo. He came up for help with an IT issue, and I suddenly heard the original Derbyshire theme. After checking my own stuff, I realized it was the text tone on his phone. An instant friendship was made.
From that point on, every time we ran into each other in the hallway, things would quickly descend into geeky Doctor Who discussions that made us late for meetings. Rob had discovered the new series only recently, and had started going back to the classic series as well. He provided new perspective on the new series that was a breath of fresh air for me, engaging me with excellent points I hadn’t previously considered. It was immediately clear that these conversations needed to be captured, and eventually this show was born.
The show is called CVE, geekily named after the charged vacuum emboitments from Doctor Who’s Season 18. The CVEs connected our space, N-Space, with the smaller pocket universe of E-Space. This new show strives to be the CVE that bridges the universe of a classic series diehard with the more modern perspective of the new series. I’ve done a sort of “soft launch” of the show with some friends, and the reaction and interest have been overwhelmingly positive. We’ll be doing great things with this show.
Please note that there is some occasional language in this show; I made the choice to leave it in and not edit it, so it is marked as “explicit.” This is not your traditional Doctor Who podcast, and I like that.
My second piece of news is farther-reaching and perhaps even more exciting. Now that I’m launching my third podcast, and with steadily increasing interest in the medium, I am today launching my own “podcast network,” if you can yet call it such a thing: Nerva Beacon. This name too is rooted in Doctor Who mythos (can you tell where my inspiration comes from?). As I branch out more and more into the realm of podcasting, I will have a home for my work. I foresee a time in the conceivable future where changes come to some of my shows, some shows end, and new ideas become new shows. Nerva Beacon gives me the opportunity to explore these ideas more freely.
As the network continues to grow, our ambitions grow with it. Our hosts put out shows that deserve a larger audience, and my dream of a career in podcasting is within reach. To get to the next level, we need help. We need a better infrastructure and even more great people to support the network we have created. That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that 70Decibels is going to be moving to the 5by5 Podcasting Network.
This is very exciting news for Myke Hurley and everyone involved with 70Decibels. As he says in his post, Myke started small by emulating those he admired, and grew into more when he realized he connected with the medium. This is a path I feel myself following too, and seeing Myke able to realize his dream and become a part of 5by5 himself is extremely motivational for me to produce great audio content and continue getting better with time.
This is a colossal blower. I really wanted webOS to take off, but it’s been treated like crap by one owner after another. Now it’s going to die off unceremoniously as a smart TV OS. Is there a fate worse?
This week, Danny and Josef speculate about future trends in technology, Apple and Google, skeuomorphism and UI design, game consoles, and the upcoming PS4 announcement. Plus, Danny got consoles. Plural.
We’re finally back. Yes, I know, we took too long. Sorry. This is what happens when you have a couple of perfectionists trying to do a podcast.
I’ve been getting some requests to repost the rescore Chris Adams (HardWire) and I did of series 6’s Doctor Who episode “The God Complex” since Demonoid was taken down. I’ve just re-uploaded the torrent to The Pirate Bay instead, so the rescore is once again available. Enjoy!
UPDATE: It was just brought to my attention by someone who is not Josef Kenny that The Pirate Bay is blocked in the UK. So please use this link.
In their triumphant return after a brief hiatus, Danny and Chris talk about the latest teaser for Star Trek Into Darkness, what went wrong in the Berman and Braga era of Star Trek, and preparations for whatever will pass for the 50th anniversary celebration of Doctor Who.
We’re back and better than ever. This episode is a must listen.
Without wanting to put the cart before the horse, I have a couple of announcements I’d like to make regarding future podcasts.
First, I’d like to extend an apology. While there were numerous factors to blame for the lack of recent podcasts, I would like to accept full responsibility for their absence. For that, I’m sorry.
But this has been a valuable lesson for me and my co-hosts in terms of how to approach doing a podcast. It is a weekly commitment, and it needs to be treated as such. This means that time needs to be set aside, at a predetermined, prearranged time, each and every week.
This sounds obvious, and in hindsight it is. But this was not something we originally did. Everyone approached the podcast as a “when we can” thing. Sometimes, there was never a good or obvious time “when we could” during the week. This might work some of the time, and it might even work for a while, but inevitably, doing it like this is going to fall apart at some point. And when it does, unless you recover fast, you won’t recover at all.
This is what happened with my shows. But the first step to fixing a problem is understanding and admitting it, and that’s why I’m trying to make this public. So that people understand what happened and why, and know that we’re all aware of it and will be working hard to prevent this from happening again.
To that end, I’d like to announce the following.
First, Podfusion and Lights Out are resuming recording on a regularly scheduled basis, effective immediately. (That means this week!) For Podfusion, this is going to be just under an hour, once a week, as previously scheduled. For Lights Out, this is going to be a little over an hour, once every two weeks. We’re going to experiment to find the right length.
Second, we know things aren’t always going to work out as planned, so we’re going to account for that in our recording schedule. Some of us have work, some of us have classes, and sometimes things just come up. With that in mind, we’re going to have a fallback day scheduled for later in the week, with the understanding that if we can’t make the first day, we will make the second day, unless there are some genuinely extraordinary circumstances. (If that happens, we’ll skip that week and get back on track the following week.)
Finally, my most exciting announcement is one I can’t yet fully reveal, but it is something I’m excited about and something I’d like to tease a bit: I’m working with someone new on a third podcast. The only thing I’ll say about it is that this will be one for my Doctor Who fan audience.
So with that, I hope I’ve given everyone some reassurance and something to look forward to, and while I can’t promise that we’ll never fail to deliver a podcast on time again, I can promise that I will do my utmost to keep all of my co-hosts on the same page, and to be as transparent as I can be if we fail to live up. Thanks for the support and the ongoing interest in the shows!
Bernard Horsfall was a pillar of my childhood. His face and voice are among the most instantly recognizable to me of any Doctor Who actor. By coincidence, I watched The Deadly Assassin last week with my family. A fitting tribute.
Regarding Josef’s 8-bit version of the Back to Work theme, I am extremely happy to say that I received an email this morning from Haddie Cooke, producer over at 5by5, informing me that Dan would play Josef’s version of the theme on today’s episode of The Frequency. I have a ton of respect for Dan, Haddie, and 5by5, and I had confidence that if the matter was brought to their attention, they would do something about it. My confidence was not misplaced, and Josef and I are elated. Thanks so much to Dan and Haddie for addressing this.
Back in October, my best friend Josef Kenny made a fantastic 8-bit version of “Plica Plica,” the Back to Work theme song. Josef and I tried to send this to Dan and Merlin, the hosts of Back to Work, a couple of times on Twitter, and I believe at least one of us used the 5by5 contact form to try and reach them with it as well. We never heard back.
I awoke this morning to find that some other individual did a similar 8-bit version of the theme, and it got played on the show.
Josef is not only an extraordinarily talented musician, but a huge fan of 5by5. He listens to every episode of every show on the network. He poured a lot of time and passion into this 8-bit version of the theme, and his attention to detail was spectacular. He and I both really hoped the 5by5 guys would take notice of this little piece of fan art dedicated to their show. We understood when they didn’t, but now someone else is getting the attention that Josef originally deserved.
I sent an email to Dan and Merlin about this via the 5by5 contact form. I’m very afraid that now Josef’s version will always be seen as the follow-up, rather than the original. No disrespect intended to the creator of the newer version, but I feel terrible that Josef’s efforts went totally unnoticed while someone else’s version got played on the show. I really hope someone takes notice of this, and Josef gets the recognition he deserves.