The Doctor Who Blogs
It’s over eight years since Russell T Davies bought back the show. In doing so he consigned the Time Lords to a Time Lock, and then started to tell the viewer how noble and great they were. Then he bought them back just to demonstrate how mad they’d become.
As we approach the 50th, I’m always intrigued when I see the very genuine desire from some on our forum (amongst others) for the Time Lords to return to the show. Also, the 12 regeneration rule seems to be raising its head with SM answering a question or two about it.
1979, London, England, Super8 film format, colour, sound, 75 minutes long.
Ocean in the Sky is the great lost epic fan film. It’s not the earliest documented fan film – that honour goes to Kevin Davies ‘Doctor Hoo’ a three minute animated short from 1977. Before that there’s a rumour of a fan film called ‘Son of Doctor Who’ from the late sixties or early seventies. But Ocean stands out as a milestone for the sheer level of ambition – 75 minutes, as long as a serial or movie feature, and for the ambition of the production, featuring Daleks, monsters, genuine actors, special effects, and as many as fifty people involved in the production. So far as we can determine, it was shown in its entirety, only a single time, in 1979.
The story, what we know of it from personal communication with Marc Sinclair, involved Daleks at a base on Mars, attempting to invade the Earth through a blue portal in space, thus the title ‘Ocean in the Sky.’
A newspaper article posted by Richard Bignell elsewhere refers to multiple ‘blue holes’, and monsters called ‘Ancholi’ and assorted ghouls. Accompanying pictures depict gauze draped ghostly figures attacking or chasing the Doctor. One set of pictures shows the Doctor fleeing a tentacled columnar thing that might have been an Ancholi, or perhaps an Emperor Dalek. The Dalek Mars base was shown, by using, according to Sinclair, “a hospital corridor on a model set.” I’m not sure what that means, but I assume it was a miniature. The ‘stars’ were two Daleks, nicknamed ‘Fred’ and ‘George’. Looking at the available pictures, it’s very hard to say. From what we can see, these Daleks look pretty good. In clips, there is a red one and a black one. In some of the photographs, the black ones silhouette and appearance doesn’t seem right, too narrow around the neck. They look slightly different, as if from different builds. There’s definitely signs of serious wear and tear in some pictures, with collar rings misaligned and the lower skirting along the base of one seems seriously damaged. Who they were, where they came from, we can only guess. Sinclair mentioned that they had a third unit, an Emperor Dalek. If true, it’s possible that this was an third original build, separate from at least one, possibly both. Or it may have been cannibalized or adapted from one of their existing Daleks, perhaps just a bit of ‘dressing up’. As to the ghouls, nothing much stands on them. Steal someone’s gauze curtains, wrap it a round an extra there you go. The Ancholi may have been more ambitious, but we don’t know much about that costume. At the same time that Sinclair obtained at least one of his Daleks, in the early to mid-seventies, he also acquired a Tardis shell. There was apparently a Tardis interior/control room, was constructed by Reg Spillett, costing about three hundred pounds to construct, which shows the scale and ambition of the project.
The Doctor was played by Leo Adams, a local actor with the Manchester Repertory Company, then 69 years of age. He would pass away at the age of 92, having hopefully lived a life as full as it was long. – perhaps fifty people were involved with the production, at various points and in various ways. Adams and Woodley were the only credited cast members known.
The project attracted Mark Ayres, then studying music at Cambridge, for Music. Ayres would ‘go pro’ in the late 1980’s providing musical scoring for serials during the Sylvester McCoy era.
Kevin Davies participated, and seems to have formed a separate second unit/special effects unit who operated on their own, together with David Beasley, Jon Saville and Peter Cox. Davies would go on to direct Shakedown, two episodes of Space Island One, as well as Dalekmania, 30 Years in the Tardis, and numerous Doctor Who themed documentary shorts.
AS we finally approach the beginning of Series 10 and with the end of the 12th Doctor’s era now hard upon us, I thought now be a good time might be too reflect what he’s brought to the role, what he might give us for his final year as the Doc and where he leaves the show. Read more…
Alright, I know, crap title, because BtVS doesn’t even really have these things. It has strangely arch, balletic violence (you’ll have to go to Angel for some real bone-crunching), very smart, highly intelligent use of language, and an equally intelligent ongoing examination on the process of growing up from adolescence to adulthood. Conducted through the medium of vampires and other staples of the horror genre.
As some of you are no doubt aware, @purofilion is currently working her way through Buffy for the first time and, consumed with envy, I’ve decided to join her, only this time this is my first rewatch in maybe seven or eight years. And it’s been highly enjoyable. What follows below is a personal reaction to the first two seasons, for the sake of kickstarting a general discussion of those seasons for whoever might be interested, while remaining spoiler free of anything that happens beyond that. I’d ask any discussion below to respect that, as well as consider anything happening in any season of Angel to be similarly off-limits.
Buffy stumbled in Season Four. Despite a couple of stand-out classics, and a few strong enough episodes, it was overall a lacklustre season that made a number of fundamental mistakes. If it repeated them in Season Five then I suspect the show would have been facing cancellation. Indeed, by the end of the season, it was scrabbling around to find a new home. If it had underperformed, it may well not have found one.
Once upon a time, Doctor Who was a show in Crisis! So fans decided to started making their own. They’ve been doing it ever since…
When Doctor Who first went off the air in 1985, fans began to create their own films to fill the void. The decline and cancellation of the show resulted in a wave of unauthorized productions, including series, parodies and spoofs, stage plays and audio adventures, films that explored obscure corners of the Doctor Who, or that recreated the feel and style of the classic series with astonishing fidelity.
A unique exploration of an unexamined corner of the Doctor Who Universe. Ths book charts a hidden history of classic Doctors recreated, bold new Doctors, female Doctors, black Doctors, Doctors from around the world, filmed everywhere from Mayan temples to British ruins. These are the stories of the Greatest Doctor Who Fan Films ever made.
Written in a breezy informative style, the book consists of a series of entertaining reviews of the greatest and most important fan films, together with a series of essays that explores the politics behind Doctor Who’s crisis and cancellation, the emergence of a fan culture which supported these films, and the evolution of the technology which made them possible.
This is a must read for any Doctor Who fan, young or old, interested in the hidden corners and secret spaces of their favourite show.
Well, there you go. It’s up, it’s out, as an Ebook at least. I’m still working on the print version.
I suspect that this qualifies as shameless self promotion, and violates the etiquette of the site, or something. Not truly why I posted this.
Way back, I think in the mid eighties, back when I was in University, wandering through the Student Union Building, I paused in the common room to watch a bizarre story of two spaceships wedged together, apelike things running amok, some sort of drug, and a man in a long scarf who seemed to charm his way through every situation.
Years later, when I owned a television set of my own, in another city, I started to watch that man regularly. A couple of years later, I saw a notice for a fan club and joined. And a couple of years later, a young woman brought a VHS containing the female Doctor. That woman would later become my wife, although like all things, that would end.
The female Doctor stories blew me away. The idea that something so good could be produced was inspirational. Our fan club dabbled with the idea of doing a fan film, it never went anywhere. But I think it left me with a kind of sense of the creative potential of people, that we could do things, that we could be things. Shortly after, I decided I wanted to be a writer. Perhaps the female Doctor was part of that inspiration.
I was briefly interested in fan films. There was something important there for me. The fact that there was no commercial aspect, no one got a salary, no one made money. It wasn’t corporate or institutional. It was pure love. Love that brought people together, that they shared, that motivated them to try and be creative, to work hard, to achieve something. That’s …. wonderful.
Unfortunately, this was the early 90’s. I was in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which is pretty much the ass end of everywhere, and money was tight, it was the beginning of my career. When there was an opportunity to go to Visions and actually meet Colin Baker and Jon Pertwee, Paul Darrow, John Nathan-Turner and the rest… we could afford to send my wife. I worked. Looking back, I wish I had gone too. But then, life is full of regrets, big and little. It doesn’t matter.
This early interest in fan films faded. Basically we were far far out of the loop. The few other fan films tended to be not very good and often suffered from multiple dubs.
Life just kept on. It happens that way. I still loved the show, but it was long dead. When pbs ran it, I tried to collect it on VHS. My career developed, my marriage progressed, I tried to be a writer.
Eventually, of course, it all goes nowhere. You stand over empty graves, holding a handful of earth in your fist, feeling the grains squeezing between your fingers, you sit in emergency rooms waiting but knowing, you come home and it’s empty and full of silence, you stop writing, your life fills with a maze of black walls. Because, that’s what happens.
But life moves. Doctor Who re-launched on television, it showed up on DVD, and after a while, there was a reason to start collecting them. I’m not a collector, but my ex-wife is. So there was a purpose. I got to watch the whole thing over in the process. A friend turned me onto Star Trek Continues, and I was amazed. I went back to the Barbara Benedetti Doctor, stumbled over the Rupert Booth Doctor, and I got interested. I started writing again. All sorts of things. About fan films even.
An old novel I’d written got published. Actually, just a few months ago. The Mermaid’s Tale, a fantasy murder mystery through Five River’s Publishing.
This place gave me a venue to publish all these fan film reviews that had begun to clutter up my hard drive. And with that, the simple presence of this encouraged me to write more. Eventually, that evolved into my corresponding with some of these creators, more or less to tell them I admired their work. I’m not really big on conversation.
And eventually, that lead to this book. So thank you, Drew. And thank you, Puro. And anyone else, I suppose. I’m not sure what for. I guess for being a part of the pathway. Or something. Whatever. But thank you.
I suspect I’m not really cut out to be a fan. I’m a bit too jagged around the edges, too prone to zigging when the consensus is to zag, perhaps a bit socially maladept, or whatever. I’m fine with that. I don’t know that. This is not my place, and I won’t be hanging out here. But that’s okay.
Anyway, it all helped to lead to this book. It’s a small thing about an obscure corner of the cultural landscape of somewhat obscure show. But that’s okay. It’s a fine book, I’m proud of it.
See you around.
This is a working cover for a book I plan to publish this month.