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    DenValdron @replies

    @paul-ferry  then you’ll do fine.

    While I’m talking to you, just a quick question – is your film project still on.  Will we be treated to the Ferry Doctor?  The Pub With No Doors just wasn’t enough.

    DenValdron @replies

    @paul-ferry   Welcome aboard, I’m a dedicated fan of your work on Timebase.  I’m sorry to say that odds are, you’ll find fandom much as you’ve left it, some new faces, some old, but basically it is what it is.  People are people, unfortunately, and they’ll have to do until something better comes along.  Enjoy the good parts, try not to get too deeply caught up in personalities, take a walk on the bad parts.  Relax and good luck.


    DenValdron @replies

    @Iamnotafishiamafreeman   I thank you for your response.  You have made yourself very clear and I appreciate that.  I understand you perfectly.  To the extent that I have intruded upon you, accept my apologies.   I will not intrude again.  Be well, and go forward with my best wishes.

    DenValdron @replies


    “Fucking hell”?   Are attempting to offend?  Should I take it that way?

    Are you insulting lawyers?   Is that intended to offend?

    I’m not being provocative, I’m just asking.  Is this just the way you talk, or is this intended to be nasty?

    Did I piss you off?

    Look, here’s how I see things.  I’m a guy that likes to connect the dots.  I look for patterns.  I look for correlations.  Associations.  Correspondences.  I look for the things that affiliate one to another, that fit into each other, overtly and covertly.  It’s a game, but I figure it’s a harmless game that shouldn’t offend anyone, and that possibly it may allow for insight and creativity.

    Doctor Who and Blake’s 7 were contemporary BBC Sci Fi dramas, with substantial overlap or crossovers of writers, directors, even cast members.  Colin Baker did an episode of B7.  Paul Darrow did an episode of Who.  But that was actors acting.  There was no direct connection or overlap in which we could say that these two universes were the same place.

    Except, and this is my silly theory, that maybe there is a direct connection.  Maybe the Andromedans and the Rutans were the same alien race, which would place B7 and its history inside Doctor Who’s history, and might have some specific implications for the Rutans and their war.

    There are two ways to test this theory:    Inside the text – you look at the characteristics of each and determine if they overlap.  Outside the text – you look at the writers and processes and attempt to divine what they knew and didn’t know to establish the possibility.   I applied both tests, it passed both tests.  I figure, justifiable theory.

    I think that Big Finish does something called Kaldor City audios, which also merge B7 and DW.  So I’m not the first person to think of merging the universes.  I think I just came up with an interesting angle.  No harm, no foul.


    DenValdron @replies

    Here’s a random bit of speculation.

    Blake’s 7 – 2nd season finale, Star One.  Blake goes to the edge of the Federation, to find the hidden control center, known as Star One.   It’s the nerve center of the Federation, controlling travel, transshipment, all sorts of systems.  It’s surrounded by a mine field.   Once Blake and Avon get there, however, they discover that Star One has been taken over by Aliens.

    The Aliens are never named.  They’re called the Andromedans, because the thinking is that they’re from the Andromedan Galaxy, or maybe just from that direction.  They’re definitely not human in thought or inclination, and they’re out to wipe us out.  We never learn what they call themselves, or anything else about their thoughts or motivations.

    Even their appearance is mysterious.  In their true form, they’re basically green jellyfish blobs, but are able to take or morph human forms to infiltrate and kill.

    Now, there’s a bit of lore.  Blake’s 7, was Terry Nation’s brainchild.   It was the second of his three big hits:   The Daleks, Blake’s 7, and Survivors.

    So, there was apparently actually discussion in the BBC as to who or what the aliens that attack Star One was going to be.   One of the ideas pitched was the Daleks.   A move that would have decisively united the Doctor Who and Blake’s 7 Universes.   For whatever reasons, they decided not to go for that.  Well enough.

    But here’s a thought…  What if Chris Boucher, the writer, snuck something else in there….

    Take a look at Chris Boucher.  Not only was he one of the main writers for Blake’s 7, and the script Editor, but he had before then, also been writing for Doctor Who.   He’d written the Face of Evil and Robots of Death and had created the character of Leela.   He was a good friend of Robert Holmes, then the script editor of Doctor Who, and actually had three of his scripts accepted under Holmes.  It was Holmes that recommended Boucher as script editor for Blake’s 7.   And in a return of the favour, Boucher hired Holmes for four scripts for Blake’s 7, including two on the second season, for the Star One arc.

    In fact, the Face of Evil and Robots of Death were back to back shows in 1977, followed by the Talons of Weng Chiang, Robert Holmes own story, and Terrance Dicks The Horror of Fang Rock, both of which featured Boucher’s creation, Leela.  After that was The Invisible Enemy, and then another Boucher script, Image of the Fendahl.   Given that these shows were in the same filming block as his own, he was probably very familiar with them.

    So…. familiar with Horror of Fang Rock, solid friends with Bob Holmes….

    Why am I dwelling on Horror of Fang Rock, you ask?   Interesting question.

    Let’s back it up a little.  Bob Holmes created a few parts of the Doctor Who universe himself.   Notably, he created the Sontarans and the Rutans.   Now, the Sontarans we know every well – they had four and a half appearances in the classic series, four legitimate appearances in between the series, and have been a part of the new series under Tennant, Smith and Sarah Jane.

    The Sontarans are engaged in a fierce life and death war with their enemies, the Rutans, or Rutan Host.  But Holmes never actually wrote the Rutans himself.

    Instead, Terrance Dicks wrote the defining Rutan story….  The Horror of Fang Rock.  We assume that he got the Rutans right, and either expressed whatever Robert Holmes had in mind, or persuaded him, because Holmes was script editing the show.

    So, what about these Rutans?   Turns out, they’re green, jellyfish blobs, that can shift into human shape or take over human bodies, are entirely murderous, and have a space fleet with which they’re engaged in a ceaseless war with their enemy.  The war goes back and forth, but they’re entirely willing to wipe out Earth – no affection for bystanders.

    Hmmm….  amorphous green, shapeshifting jellyfish blobs with murder on their minds and spacefleets in their pockets.

    Remind you of anything?   The Aliens (race carefully left unnamed) in Star One?

    Maybe Boucher pulled a subtle one on us all.  Maybe the aliens at Star One were intended to be the Rutans of Doctor Who.

    He’s the script editor for Blake’s 7, so he’s got a high degree of creative control and input.  He’s writing the script.  No one is looking over his shoulder.  So what are the odds he accidentally made his Andromedans resemble the Rutans?   Is it a complete coincidence?

    Was it simply a matter of mechanics – Star One needed to be the flash point of an alien attack.  Ergo, there needed to be aliens.  That’s not hard.

    If there were aliens… they needed to either be functionally human,  monsters masquerade as humans, replace humans with simulations/robots, or control humans.  One of those had to be the option.  Boucher could have gone in all sorts of directions.  But he picked a very specific direction – monsters masquerading as humans.

    Then he had to pick another specific direction – what were the monsters going to look like?   He picked green jellyfish.  He could have picked anything.  He could have selected some hideous rubber suited thing, or anything, rod puppets, glowy effects.  Choosing an amorphous jellyfish green blob wasn’t necessarily even the most opportune choice from a storytelling point of view – better to use something that could growl, lunge, slash, scare, roar, and do all sorts of crazy stuff.

    So … no, the Andromedans are not the inevitable product of story mechanics.   Boucher had to exercise some creative choices to take them down the path he did.

    To be able to discount completely the affinity between Andromedans and Rutans, you have to accept one of two things:

    1) Chris Boucher never saw Horror of Fang Rock, never read the scripts, never watched the episodes, never discussed or heard it discussed with Robert Holmes, his good friend, or the writers he was hanging out with.  Somehow, he was completely oblivious to and ignorant of it.

    2) Chris Boucher completely forgot about the Rutans, the Horror of Fang Rock, all of it.  It vanished from his mind.  Disappeared completely.  Faded into the gray mists.   ….  In less than two years.  Just forgot all about it.  One of Bob Holmes great creations, slipped his mind completely.   I’ll point out again that Holmes wrote two episodes of that season, whose running arc was the search for Star One…  So he would have probably discussed the plot with Holmes.  But no… forgot about it.

    Given Boucher’s involvement with Doctor Who in the season that the Horror of Fang Rock comes out … he’s writing shows before and after it, and his new character is the co-star in Horror, and he’s a damned good friend and owes a big favour to Bob Holmes….  It seems really unlikely that Chris Boucher would have been ignorant of or oblivious to the or forgotten about them Rutans.  He had to know what they were and how they were portrayed.  No chance of him being out of that loop.

    It may have been a sly joke.  Or even some level of overt choice that got quashed ‘   I can see Boucher going  ‘We’ll call them Rutans.’   And budget office going ‘If you call them Rutans, we have to pay Bob Holmes a royalty, they’re fine the way they are… just don’t use the name.’

    But I think that on some level, it was almost certainly deliberate.

    Or maybe Murderous, Green Jellyfish, shapeshifting, aliens piloting around in genocidal warfleets is a common, generic sci fi thing.

    What do you think?







    DenValdron @replies

    If you’re doing the complete Pertwee as the Doctor, don’t forget the Five Doctors, the Ultimate Adventure, the Paradise of Death,  the Ghosts of N-Space and  the segment from Devious on the War Games DVD.

    DenValdron @replies

    Not bad.  Decent and nasty in equal doses.  Nothing terribly confusing.  I liked the Doctor’s frustration.  He’s guessing his way through, putting data together and drawing conclusions… and getting it wrong, but getting enough right to leapfrog to his next plot point.

    The Sandmen were out of comic books, shapeless, empty, with great gaping mouths.  Nicely realized, and possibly nightmare inducing.  There was effort to give the secondary characters lives, not sure if it was successful.  On the other hand, Clara Oswald was not annoying.  A nice change.

    I appreciated the echo of Peter Davison’s years, when the Doctor blithely stands there and allows the villain to simply walk into the next room and put him in a deathtrap.

    Overall, I liked it.  Not brilliant, but good, perhaps above average, certainly not below.

    DenValdron @replies

    Why would he send a letter.  He’d more likely send an interactive memory tag.  An innocuous little bit of paper.  Touch it, and you suddenly have a vision of yourself in a room with the Doctor, where he tells you something.  It would have limited interactivity, in the sense that if you asked questions, it would answer them to some extent, and if you didn’t ask questions, it would just continue until it delivered all the information.

    Or you could try the Impossible Astronaut, where he does send out letters in regular form for a reunion.



    DenValdron @replies

    I’m going to be awful and ask where are the Skarasen’s?   The Skarasen is a loch ness monster type critter.  The thing with the Zygon’s is that they depend on the milk/lactic fluid of the Skarasen.  They can’t survive without it.  At least according to Terror of the Zygons.

    DenValdron @replies

    @bluesqueakpip   Sorry, got names jammed up.

    There are a lot of different approaches to time travel, and it differs in different mediums.

    The Bill and Ted Shtick doesn’t seem to be popular in the Doctor Who universe (except in Curse of Fatal Death).

    DenValdron @replies

    @purofilion   There are two possible approaches here.

    One is that time is entirely deterministic – ie, only one thing can ever happen, and anything that will happen, is in a sense destined.  So every act of time travel creates a stable time look.  History cannot truly be altered, and paradoxes are illusions, because the time traveller was always going to go back and be part of that history.  So history isn’t so much changed as revealed.

    I don’t think that’s the case in the Doctor Who Universe, because the Time Lords and other Agencies seemed to be so concerned about paradox and manipulating history.

    Rather, the show came up with the Blenovitch Limitation Effect, which seems to say that a Time Traveller cannot obviate events that they have been a previous part of.  Blenovitch (sic) seems to be a localized version of the Time Travellers Paradox.   The Time Traveller is physically unable to create a change which directly affects their own personal timeline.

    In the sense of your example – the Doctor never sees the person falling off the cliff, so his future self never goes back to rescue him, so that he is caused to fall off the cliff, which the Doctor sees…   It’s not so much a time loop, as a time ‘figure eight’.

    Actually, that begs the question – is it actually physically impossible?  Or is it possible, but it just triggers those Time Eaters that plagued the 9th Doctor and Rose in Father’s Day?  Or was it just something that the Time Lords found so problematic that they conditioned their people through either imposed ‘laws’ or subconscious programming to avoid doing such things.

    From what I can tell, it’s mostly the latter.  These things can be done, but the consequences tend to be unpleasant, so the Time Lords worked very hard to prohibit them.   All this stuff about ‘fixed points in time’ might not be a hard and fast rule, but another stricture by the Time Lords to try and keep the Universes timelines at least slightly coherent.

    Otherwise, uncontrolled populations of Time Travellers would simply be rewriting all of history every other day.  Which seems to have been what happened during the Time War.

    That may well have been one of the Doctor’s great criticisms – the Time Lords had abandoned their own ‘Laws’ for the preservation of time.   Certainly when you look at things like the events of the Trial, or Image of the Fendahl, the Three Doctors, etc., it seems that the Time Lords were not above occasionally screwing with Time, but that was always presented as a moral travesty.









    DenValdron @replies

    I got to meet Sylvester McCoy today.

    He’s very nice.

    DenValdron @replies

    @nerys   … though I think watching paint dry might be more engaging.

    Who knows.  Maybe I’m the sort of guy who likes watching paint dry.   😉

    Writers are reminded to “know your audience.” I agree that the folks running Doctor Who know their audience quite well, and by and large they write with us in mind.

    Is that why the audience seems to be going away?  The ratings this season have been between 2/3 and 1/2 of previous seasons.  I don’t think this is explained by changes in television watching, since other programs don’t seem to suffer the same erosion.

    But obviously there are going to be folks with different expectations. You really can’t please all of the people all of the time. As you say, so it goes.

    It’s a big world.  There’s plenty of room in it for everyone.

    DenValdron @replies

    For those who are interested in all things Who related, there’s apparently going to be a K9 movie.

    K9, for all you who did not ride to school on dinosaurs, was a robot dog from the 56th century picked up by Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor, and Louise Jameson’s Leela in a serial about a giant virus – I think it was called Invisible Enemy.   The character was popular, and lasted for several seasons, almost up to the end of the Baker era, departing in Warrior’s Gate.   John Nathan Turner brought it back for a failed pilot – K9 and Company, with Liz Sladen as  Sarah Jane Smith.

    K9 was brought back in the new series, along with Sarah Jane Smith in School Reunion, with David Tennant.  He showed up a couple of years later as a minor part of Journey’s End/Stolen Earth.   K9 also returned in the Sarah Jane Adventures as a supporting character for several episodes.

    Notably, K9 ended up as the third of the Doctor Who new era spin-offs – along with Torchwood and the Sarah Jane adventures.  The K9 spin off happened because Bob Baker owned the rights.  The BBC wasn’t along for the ride, so the K9 series wasn’t allowed to mention Doctors, Tardises etc.  Instead, K9 shows up 50 years in the future, regenerated, hanging out in an abandoned police station with an agoraphobic professor, having ‘regenerated’ and suffered memory damage.   I think it was an Australian production or co-production.  It went one season, but 26 half hour episodes.

    Anyway, there’s going to be a movie, apparently.  Bob Baker’s writing it.  And because he wrote or co-wrote the Three Doctors….  the primordial betrayed Time Lord – Omega, will be the villain.

    DenValdron @replies

    @nerys   I’m the opposite myself.  But I recognize that the showrunners are opting for emotional and relationship payoff, and shorting rationality and coherence.   I don’t necessarily see the two as being opposed.  But I do see a prioritization of one and a rather shrifty attitude to the second.   Eh, so it goes.

    DenValdron @replies

    @bluesqueakpip   The thing you have to keep in mind with McCoy is that the first two stories  Time and the Rani and Paradise Towers were commissioned before McCoy was even hired on as the Doctor.  They were literally writing these stories for a blank slate.  In particular, Pip and Jane Baker were initially writing the Rani story for Colin Baker, given that the plan was for him to do one more serial to hand over the reins.  So there’s no real sense of any particular character.

    At this point, particularly in the first year, John Nathan Turner was, pretty much in the absence of anything and anyone else, still the main creative force.  But he was burnt out as a creative force.  The whole Colin Baker experience had wrecked him emotionally.   It’s important to realize how much of himself he put into the Colin Baker Doctor – Colin’s character was an avatar for Turner himself, he’d thrown in everything but the kitchen sink to make the first year a success – all the old classics:  Cybermen, Daleks, Sontarans, another Doctor, a reference to Pertwee, H.G. Wells as a supporting character, and it had blown up in his face.  Then Trial of a Time Lord had been a production nightmare and a ratings disaster.  He had nothing left, he tried to quit each time.

    So his approach was just throwing whatever crap occurred to him on the spur of the moment, spectacle and shtick mostly.  We see this where Sylvester entertained peope off set by playing spoons, and Turner actually has him do it onscreen, on the Rani’s breasts.   There’s also the malapropisms, and mangled proverbs – that’s Turner again, mistaking shtick for characterization.   He just disconnected mostly.  Burn out, out of ideas or vision, and rudderless.

    Which left a kind of creative vacuum for Andrew Cartmel to plug his Cartmel Masterplan into, and his notion of reinventing the dark, mysterious, chess-master version of the Doctor that everyone talks about.

    But I think that McCoy’s Doctor is probably as well or better appreciated as the Absurd Doctor.   I mean, look at it this way – the budget is gutted.  They don’t have the resources to do anything resembling the sorts of ambitious stories of the Jon Pertwee/Tom Baker era.  Hell, they don’t have the resources of the Baker era.  Eric Saward the former script editor is gone, having done his best to burn down the house – all of Saward’s contacts are persona non grata.  Robert Holmes is dead.  Peter Grimwade is gone.  It’s just not physically possible to do the show in the classic way.

    So if you can’t do something straight on and semi-realistic, you can’t compete with the modern cutting edge of late eighties special effects and Hollywood series and movies…   What do you do?

    You don’t try.  Instead, you go for absurdity – you go full on emphasising the artificiality and the phoniness of the whole thing.  You look straight at the audience, wink and go ‘It’s all absurd shite, but come along anyway, because we’re going to surprise you.  It’ll look fake, but you won’t see it coming.  It will be tosh, but it will be outrageous Tosh, so come on.’

    Personally, I’m not a fan of absurdity.  I’m way to literal.  But I can appreciate it.  And McCoy’s shtick as a comedian was deliberate confrontational absurdity, and you actually see this over and over again in many of his stories – sometimes unpolished, but often there.  It wasn’t all absurdist, but a lot of it was.

    The Absurdist stories –  Paradise Towers, Delta and the Bannermen, the Happiness Patrol, Greatest Show in the Galaxy, Ghost Light.  I count borderline absurd – Time and the Rani, Dragonfire, Silver Nemesis.   Even Curse of Fenric and Battlefield have absurdist elements.   It’s all about exaggerating, emphasising unreal, even ridiculous elements – Just look at the Candyman.

    The only truly non-Absurdist McCoy story, the only McCoy story that plays like classic Who is Remembrance of the Daleks.

    As I said, not my cup of tea, but I can definitely respect and appreciate it.   And I think that directly, or perhaps mostly indirectly, a significant portion of it can be traced back to McCoy’s comedic history.   Certainly both Turner and Cartmel were well aware of it.  Turner tried to play the Doctor as a more conventional clown, he appreciated it but he didn’t get it.  Cartmel seemed to have more of a grasp.  And both men were working under major production and creative limits.

    For my money, I think McCoy is probably the most unique Doctor, because his character and his stories went so fiercely off in the direction of formal absurdism.   There’s probably a fairly good Thesis paper there.


    DenValdron @replies

    For the record, the Tharils were a race of ‘Lion-men’ encountered in the Tom Baker serial, Warrior’s Gate. They were a race that exhibited time sensitivity, and could shift through time and space. They had once ruled a vast empire, where they were notable for their cruelty. By the time the Fourth Doctor encountered them in E-Space, their empire was long dust and the surviving Tharil were reduced to slaves. The serial is one of my favourites.

    Speaking of which, the Tharil, and the Leomen seen here, might both be related to the Cheetah People that the Seventh Doctor encounters in Survival, the final serial of the classic series. The Cheetah People exhibited remote viewing and seemed able to jump between worlds, and bring people back and forth with them. But they were also notable for their catlike cruelty. There was something fairly toxic about them, their predatory nature was destroying their world.

    All three races seem roughly similar – the are all catlike beings, notable for subtlty and cruelty, with a technology that seems to allow them to jump through space, and possibly time, although with specific limitations and advantages.

    DenValdron @replies

    Is anyone else surprised that the Lionman didn’t turn out to be a Tharil? Especially given the references to the Tereleptils and Captain Jack?

    DenValdron @replies

    @purofilion I’m sorry for whatever it is that has you hanging about in a hospital. I hope for a full and happy recovery for any party involved, or barring that, freedom from pain. As for my father = he fought cancer for 12 years, he lived the life he wanted, and when he passed there was no pain. There’s much worse things. Ultimately, death is what we live with, we get to endure the deaths of people around us, on the way to our own. Death is commonplace and ordinary and no big. Sadly, I can’t seem to help going a little bit insane, but I’m trying not to take it out on anyone or anything.

    DenValdron @replies

    @purofilion Dude, by now, you should know what I am like. I am insanely detail oriented and massively inclined towards precision. That translates to being a giant pain in the ass. But I don’t know any other way to be. And frankly, I just buried my father less than a week ago so I’m not really enthralled with or invested in the whole social nuance thing, that takes more energy than I have. So if I’m getting on your nerves, sorry about that. But it’s too much energy to avoid being me.

    DenValdron @replies

    @purofilion. I blame the Monk. Or the Rani. Or I just accept that the Doctor Who universe is just not the same place as our universe.

    DenValdron @replies

    @ichabod Hmmm. Kaput. Well, in geological terms everything is pretty fast and shocking when you get to human beings. But the decline of the Norse… that took place in different ways, over decades or a century or two. It’s kind of hard to fix. The Newfoundland settlement at L’Anse au Meadows (sic) seems to have been abandoned quickly. It took Greenland longer to die off, and when it finally did, no one noticed. The Viking period is generally assumed to have lasted about 300 years from the 8th to the 11th centuries. But raids were still going on, if petering out in the 12th century. And they were going on crusades as late as the 13th century. The Viking Era matches up loosely with the Medieval Warm period, from roughly 950 to 1250. And the decline seems to coincide with the Little Ice Age, commonly beginning around 1400. I think climactic shifts in northerly regions show up earlier.

    In any event, that wasn’t the end for the Norse people. The Norwegians suffered the worst with population declines and increasing irrelevance. Sweden and Denmark became ascendant. Both got heavily involved with Germany. For a time, all the Scandinavian states were united in the Kalmar Union. Then towards the middle ages, Sweden got imperial on its own and went toe to toe with Russia? Were they still all Vikings? Well, descendants of the Vikings – Christianity had taken over, the technology had changed, the economy had changed. I think that really, what happened was that in invading Europe, they became European, and became a part of the politics and lifeblood of the continent, and as the little ice age wore on, they were situated to become a smaller and smaller part of it. History is a moving target.,

    DenValdron @replies

    @purofilion I really have to wonder if you were dealing with Electric Eels rather than regular Eels or another species. Electric Eels do not breed in captivity, and from my understanding, occupy only shallow, silty/cloudy lakes and ponds in a narrow region of the tropics of the new world – the Amazon and Orinoco, pretty close to the equator. I think European waters would just be too cold for them. They aren’t actually true eels. Technically, they’re a relative of the knifefish, although they occupy their own family. They’re only distantly related if at all to the Electric Ray which is a deepwater coastal fish, and the Electric Catfish, which is found in the Nile and Tropical Africa.

    A google search did find numerous references to Freshwater eels in Bavaria, known as Anguillid Eels or European Eels. Apparently, they’re quite tasty. The region where I’m from in Canada is adjacent to a place called Eel River, with community names like Eel River Bar, Eel River Crossing. They were a delicacy. I remember as a kid, I caught an Eel once and kept it alive in the bathtub for a few hours before my mother made me put it back. No regular eel is electric. Eels and Electric Eels are as different as Elephants and Elephant Seals, or Voodoo Zombies and Flesh Eating Zombies, or Rhinoceros and Rhinoceros Beetles. Don’t be fooled by the naming similarity.

    DenValdron @replies

    On reflection, maybe we shouldn’t be referring to the big bad critter as the F.King. It could be misinterpreted.

    @purofilion It was brief. I was trying to coherently condense 500 years of history, subsistence economy, the nature of a marginal culture whose very marginality lead to the development of certain skill sets, two major climactic changes and explosive expansion and exploration across three continents, and throw in commentary on gender relations. It’s pretty tough boiling that down to three or four paragraphs. I suspect though, that this episode had more of the comic book or old movie Norse than anything with anthropological rigour. Electric eels? Humm.

    DenValdron @replies

    @purofilion Did you ask me about Norse? I thought you did, but I can’t find it here.

    DenValdron @replies

    Kasterborus is the Constellation in which Gallifrey and it’s star system is located.

    That doesn’t make any sense at all because a Constellation is simply a random assortment of stars which looks kind of like a shape or pattern when viewed from a certain vantage point.

    I’m not sure if our sky actually has a Kasterborus constellation.

    It’s possible that Kasterborus is the name of a star cluster, of which Gallifrey’s sun is a member.

    DenValdron @replies

    @purofilion Okay, I’m going to make this quick. The Norse were marginal pastoralists who eked out a living on a mixed subsistence package in Scandinavia. Essentially, they were pretty close to the arctic circle and a lot of the southern agricultural package based on grains didn’t work. The most northerly grain was barley, which was used to make beer. The Norse also cultivated a handful of root crops, parsnips, turnips, etc. It wasn’t enough to sustain them, so their package needed two other legs – one was fishing, they needed to go to sea fishing steadily and often. North atlantic waters were highly oxygenated and so were rich fishing grounds, but the seas were treacherous. They needed to become master sailors and boatbuilders to get out into the seas, collect a harvest and come home. Their other pillar, the other leg of their agricultural package was cattle – even if most grains didn’t survive, and even if the land was poor, there was plenty of grass and pasture, so they could sustain a lot of cattle, and cattle could be milked and harvested for meat and leather. So, with that reliance on milk and meat, the Norse were getting a lot of protein in their diets, particularly growing up at crucial development phases. Because so much of their landscape was marginal, what you had were tiny areas of local population density, controlling larger areas of low value pasture, and that lead to conflicts and raids between communities. Most Raids back then consisted of just marching over some hills to the next door village – ie, to go Viking. Or… Hiking? Ever notice the similarity of the words: Hiking/Viking? Same root. So bottom line, you had a culture which was thinly populated and marginal, but which had a terrific tradition of seamanship, of raiding, and of physically robust specimens. But hey, they were the ass end of Europe, cold, remote and inaccessible, not even missionaries wanted to go there.

    Now, along comes the medieval warm period, and everything changes. Because… it gets warm. Suddenly, you can grow barley a lot further north, and you can grow more barley, the root crops are more productive, there’s more grass, more cattle. The Norse get busy and take advantage of this wealth and warmth to make more Norse. Lots and lots more Norse. Population explosion.

    Now normally, a population explosion just gets dense, and the normal situation would be a lot more murdering of neighbors. But the neighbors are also having their own population explosion, so that gets messier and messier. And it turns out, that the Norse have become pretty good seamen.

    So off they set in their boats, and going west they discover the Faeros, Svalbard, Iceland, Greenland, Helluland, Labrador, and Newfoundand, some of which they keep, some of which they throw back, and some of which they try for. They also go east, discovering the coats of the Barents and White Seas, and the mouths of rivers draining into the Arctic, which they follow south, eventually making their way to the Byzantine Empire and the Middle east. Mostly, they discover that it’s fun to raid their neighbors on the Southern European coasts, from Germany all the way through England and Ireland, across France, Spain and even as far as the western Mediterranean. Their ability to show up suddenly, armed to the teeth, raiding in mass and leave just as quickly means that Europe has no defense against them. Back then, you had the feudal system of warfare, which involved a top down hierarchy calling up forces. It just wasn’t able to respond quickly, and wasn’t able to respond to this.

    Because they’re severely overpopulated and the medieval warm spell is starting to wind up, they’re colonizing whole populations all over. The Viking Era comes to a close as the Viking colonies make raiding more unpalatable – the Viking raiders are meeting people like themselves who are not easy pickings. Technology is moving forward, military tactics are evolving to meet them, and people are starting to learn how to cope with their shit. Little Ice Age begins and suddenly, all the stuff that the Norse used to do no longer works, they can’t sustain the population, and kaput.

    In terms of the role of women, mostly women didn’t go to sea, unless there was colonizing to be done. They didn’t go fishing and didn’t have the same maritime tradition. Communities could afford to lose a boatload of men at sea. Couldn’t afford to lose a boatload of women. So women and boys would look after the cattle, do the milking (access to protein!), and maintain the gardens. So there’s some fairly traditional divisions of labour. But the tradition of Viking each other meant that women fought or had to learn to fight. It was just like the pricks over the hill to come raiding when all the men were at sea, at which point, what’s a woman to do.

    50% of graves of Norse Women from this period are buried with weapons or armour, and a significant fraction of women’s bodies suggest either fatal or healed injuries sustained in combat. Norse deities and norse sagas also give good credit to women who fight. Norse society was quite egalitarian as far as societies went.

    DenValdron @replies

    @purofilion Good lord no! This and the Alternate History forum are the only places where I post about Doctor Who. I’m just a gigantic nerd is all.

    DenValdron @replies

    @purofilion Actually, Plainolddave’s experience wasn’t uncommon. In North America, Doctor Who played on the PBS (Public Broadcasting) stations, that was exclusively Tom Baker. Tom Baker’s Doctor had a whopping 41 serials available, so what PBS would do, was they would run each serial as an individual movie on Friday nights. It was popular, so they just repeated it, and repeated it.

    Of course, this left a huge backlog available to fans. Jon Pertwee had 24 adventures. Peter Davison had 20. Then there was Troughton and Hartnell. The show had so much backstory to discover. So Doctor Who clubs sprang up all over North America. I was in one myself, in the 80’s and 90’s, off and on. People would go to conventions, they’d buy tapes or trade for bootlegs, getting them was something of a quest. Then they’d show them at the clubs. My first exposure to Jon Pertwee’s Doctor was at the local Doctor Who club, it was also the first place I saw the Unearthly Child, and the Five Doctors, and for that matter, the Benedetti Doctor’s adventure. I remember watching fourth of fifth generation copies of the McCoy adventures and even Dimensions in Time.

    PBS eventually did show, in the 90’s, the other Doctors. Tom Baker had aired several times by then, and there was enough in Peter Davison and Jon Pertwee together to have another run. They even aired some of the Hartnell’s and Colin Baker. But by then the network of clubs and tapes trading was very well established. Doctor Who fandom in North America was a lively community.

    DenValdron @replies

    Ah, update.

    Okay, near as I can work it out from this –

    The Fourth Doctor was President of Gallifrey for an extended period into the Fifth Doctor period. He was usurped by Borusa in the Arc of Infinity and Five Doctors, but at the end with Borusa deposed, he was reinstated to his position. In the opening of the Trial of a Time Lord, the Sixth Doctor tries to pull rank but finds he is deposed once again. The Seventh Doctor lays claim to the title, but it may be just a ceremonial thing.

    DenValdron @replies

    Not a bad episode, overall. Some nice moments.

    DenValdron @replies

    @jeff Maisie’s all tied up with Game of Thrones for the foreseeable future, so no, I don’t think she’d be available as a companion.

    DenValdron @replies

    Okay, people are going to hate me for this but….

    * They didn’t call themselves Vikings. They called themselves Norse. Viking was what they did. Viking was the act of jumping in a ship, sailing off to some village, beating the crap out of everyone, stealing their stuff and making off. No big deal.

    * They didn’t actually wear horns on their helmets. That’s comic books and B-movies. No big deal.

    * Finally: Electric Eels are not actually eels. Also, they’re native to South America, not Scandinavia. That’s kind of a big deal. But I’m going to assume that they aren’t electric eels, the Doctor just heard the word eels, free-associated to electric eels, to electricity and then just decided to use the electric eels shtick as his way of messing with Clara, while actually channelling energy from the Tardis through his remaining sunglass. Call it implausible deniability. Either that, or the Monk actually did introduce Electric Eels to Scandinavia in the Doctor Who universe, because he thought it would be fun, presenting a conundrum for biologists a few thousand years later.

    DenValdron @replies

    @purofilion Alright, I’m going purely by memory here, so I might squanch a few details but here goes. Yes, the Doctor actually was the President of Gallifrey, or President of the High Council, for a few hundred years. He was a lousy President, in that he pretty much kited out on the whole of the job. The one time he actually paid attention to the position, it turned out he was a tyrannical Dictator. Eventually, he got impeached – not for being a dictator, but for not showing up. Anyway, here’s what happened:

    Deadly Assassin – Tom Baker – The Doctor, temporarily between companions, gets hauled back to Gallifrey on charges of corrupting the matrix. Before you know it, he’s facing the firing squad. Luckily, the President has been assassinated, so they’re holding elections. The Doctor, thinking quickly, nominates himself for President, knowing that the charges against him will be suspended until the election is over. Well, it turns out that the Master is corrupting the Matrix, the Doctor has to go in and sort him out. While he’s doing that, the Master kills the other candidates, leaving the Doctor elected President on the last man standing rule. The Doctor skips out before he can be sworn in.

    Invasion of Time – Tom Baker – Again. The Doctor and Leela go back to Gallifrey. The Doctor decides he’d like being President after all. He shows up and starts snapping the whip, hard, and acting like a bit of a crazy man. But apparently, the office of the Presidency has just these extreme dictatorial powers. It’s just no one ever uses them by custom. But once the Doctor does, they have to jump when he says. You ask me, Rassilon set it up that way, creating a position with Dictatorial power, but neutering it with the customs of Time Lord society, so that he could return and resume godlike power at will. He takes office, gets sworn in, but it turns out to be all a ruse to stop an invasion by the Sontarans (and the Vardans, the only race ever to be outsmarted by the Sontarans).

    Arc of Infinity – Peter Davison – Hijinks on Gallifrey, tampering with the matrix, the Doctor is almost executed by Maxell (played by Colin Baker). Turns out it’s the Doctor’s old enemy, Omega. He’s also been deposed as President, and Borusa is now running the show.

    DenValdron @replies

    @phaseshift I overlooked the Autons completely. But I think you’ve put your finger on their cachet exactly. They lived in Uncanny Valley. I agree with the rest of your comments.

    @whisht Horror monsters/tropes work when they’re a metaphorical codification of real fears or social tensions that we cannot address directly. So yes, sexual terrors could easily make it into Doctor Who. Look at the design of the Vervoids.

    Also, interesting observations in terms of the Sontarans having lost a lot of their cachet and being reduced to comic relief, a situation they may not easily climb back from. If we accept the suggestion that they articulated the ‘eternal warriors’ of the Cold War era, then yes, they’ve lost a lot of their psychic mojo since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. They did make a good showing in their David Tennant and Sarah Jane appearances, but under Smith, they were reduced to hangers on and comic relief.

    Was Cold War a sort of trial balloon to see if the Ice Warriors could fill a position the Sontarans had vacated? The callbacks are impressive. I don’t think it was wholly successful.

    I think next up, I’m going to try and discuss the only two successful (as in, more than one appearance) monsters of the new series – the Angels and the Silence.

    DenValdron @replies

    Okay, just me woolgathering some more, on the subject of what makes Monsters work – the practical edition. I want to throw out a few notions from the classic series, before going new series.

    Ice Warriors – they’re one of the wannabe Daleks – created during that Troughton era frenzy of effort, when Hartnell and the original cast was gone, when Dalekmania had passed, and the producers had a kind of desperation to find something to catch the fire of the early days. The Ice Warriors had a respectable career. They had two full Troughton era serials – ‘The Ice Warriors’ and ‘The Seeds of Death’, a cameo appearance in ‘War Games’ and a couple of essential supporting roles in ‘Curse of Peladon’ and ‘Monster of Peladon’ with Pertwee. They also came back in the new series, in ‘Cold War’, and were in the first tier fan film ‘Fire and Ice’ (which actually did them better than Cold War did).

    So, in practical terms – the Ice Warriors were just a hellish costume. Based on an alligator, they were a very difficult and expensive costume to build. Lots and lots of detailing. That makes it expensive, it also makes it time consuming. And it turned out to be heavy, and awkward and uncomfortable to move around it. Pincher hands made it difficult to actually work with. Still, it afforded decent visibility. Not a great costume overall. It was nowhere near as cheap or as easy as the Cybermen costume (vacuum cleaner parts, silver painted overalls and a quick molded helmet), or as mobile and fast as the Daleks.

    In terms of mythic impact… The Ice Warriors never really found a vibe, a key backstory or motif that made them distinctive. Visually, they were generic monsters. In terms of their symbolic or existential fear, generic.

    Then there were the Yeti. Appeared in The Abominable Snowmen, Web of Fear, cameo twice in War Games and Five Doctors. No appearance in the new series. But a terrific appearance (probably their best ever) in Downtime.

    AS costumes, they were just big shaggy lumps. Probably a pain in the ass to wear and work in. But they represented a menacing faceless bulk that actually tapped into existential fear. They had that same menace-mass that you get from grizzly bears.

    So, when it comes to the classic series and the recurring monsters, those were the big ones. Basically, you had:

    Daleks (fourteen serials, a ‘pilot’, two movies, two cameos, and two supporting roles)

    Cybermen (nine serials, two cameos, and a supporting role)

    Sontarans (four serials and a minisode, and three or four major fan films)

    Ice Warriors (two serials, a cameo, two supporting roles)

    Yeti (two serials, two cameos, and a major fan film)

    The Mara (two serials)

    Silurians and Sea Devils (one and a half serials each, or three collectively)

    This is distinguished from villains, who I would list as:

    The Master (16 serials and a supporting role)

    Davros (five serials)

    The Rani (two serials, and a minisode)

    Great Intelligence (two serials and a major fanfilm)

    Omega (two serials)

    The Monk (one serial and a supporting role)

    So, basically, recurring monsters or villains appeared predominantly in 61 out of about 162 serials.

    Of these, only three (Daleks, Cybermen, Master) have made it significantly into the new series. A few others (Sontarans, Great Intelligence, Silurians, Ice Warriors) have made minor appearances.

    DenValdron @replies

    @rob Actually, the Sea Devils were a terrific costume/monster. Go back and watch the episode again, and you’ll see the following:

    1) Nonhuman contour, courtesy of the extended headpiece. 2) The actors head was actually in the neck section, allowing them to sea and breath through fabric patches. 3)The Sea Devil’s faces although inexpressive masks, were distinctive and striking, and 4) because of the mounting, were quite flexible, small head movements would translate into quite broad but natural movements of the sea devils heads and faces, making them surprisingly expressive. 5) With better visibility, the sea devils actually moved better. Unlike other monsters, they wore ‘clothes’ which allowed for more comfortable wear and more flexibility. So they were a physically dynamic monster.

    Compare that with the Silurians….

    The costumes were so heavy to be almost immoveable, the actors had to struggle to even lift their arms, they couldn’t see out of the damned things. Hell, they couldn’t breath. Compare how physical the sea devils are compared to the Silurians, how much more active they are, and more than that, how much more act-live they are, in terms of body language and expressiveness.

    It’s no wonder that the most radical redesign of a classic monster so far has been the redo of the Silurians.

    DenValdron @replies

    @scaryb Forgive me for being imprecise. I thought I had made it very clear that the Tivoli shuttlecraft was not Fisher King tech, but the tech of the Tivoli culture – it’s basically mechanical, titanium and fusion, cast structure, bricks and mortar. The Fisher Kings are much more esoteric.

    As to the muppet itself, I thought the Fisher KIng was a fairly classic example of the ‘looks terrific as a piece of art, but rendered as a full sized, 3D wearable costume, it’s pretty shit because you can’t actually do much with it’ variety. Does look good though, as long as no demands were made of it.

    DenValdron @replies

    @purofilion Actually, the remark about the cowl was simply a corollary to your drawing a parallel between the Fisher Kings and the Time Lords. So I have to give you credit on that one.

    DenValdron @replies

    @purofillion One more thing. It’s entirely possible that the Fisher King’s Cowl is a deliberate visual callback to the Time Lord’s ceremonial high collars.

    Which might imply that the Fisher King itself is actually of the race of the Vampires or Fendahl (or possibly the two are the same race) as a prior Time Lord nemesis. I’ll leave it open as a speculation.

    The fall of the Time Lords and the Daleks probably left a lot of room for thoroughly nasty things to come creeping back.

    DenValdron @replies

    @purofilion The question of the utility of the costume is an objective one. Often there are gaps between design and implementation. Something that looks or seems amazing as a sketch or design often poses problems in the translation to a 3D wearable costume.

    Generally, the key questions that a costume has to meet are:

    1) Does it allow for full visibility – does the actor have a reasonable field of vision? The more restricted vision is, the more physically cautious people are. No one wants to move around a stage blind.

    2) Does it allow for movement – that’s tricky. Heavy costumes, restrictive costumes, often attempt to look good but exact a price. Monster claws or talons are often not very sensitive or flexible, they’re extensions of hands, but they have little tactile feedback, no body awareness, they’re often quite immobile. So mostly, things get waved.

    If you have a big heavy costume that the actor can’t see very well out of, or move around very much in… it’s a poor costume. The less mobility and visibility, the more it shifts from costume to prop.

    If you can’t do much with a costume, then basically, you have to shoot around it, or work around the limitations. This is basically what they’re doing here. The Fisher King is barely mobile, barely expressive. This is a big ‘looked good on the drawing board, didn’t come off so well in execution.’

    You have to remember, this isn’t a production with an unlimited budget or timetable. George Lucas could spend years in pre-production, looking at tens of thousands of production drawings and CGI renderings of Jar Jar Binks until he got exactly what he wanted (shudder).

    Here, what they get is a script with a few vague or specific descriptions (the Fisher King, a towering insectlike humanoid, half person, half praying mantis…). Once approved, the script goes to the production crew, the art department reads it, they produce a set of sketches and designs, the set designers read it, the costume department reads it, the art department, the mechanics, the carpenters, the fabricators. They estimate what it will take, produce a budget, the budget gets approved or adjusted by the line producer.

    Once that budget gets approved, there’s basically a month or so to turn all those sketches into a costume. They’ve got to simultaneously work on costumes and sets and pieces for twelve other episodes. Are there mechanical effects – eyes that move, cheeks that puff, those are mechanical effects, which means that you might have to bring in fabricators and effects techs. There’s just a certain number of hours.

    So everyone does their best, tries it out, works through. But sometimes designs just don’t work out all that well.

    The thing is, with the Fisher King…. they haven’t done one of those before. This is the first time. And they’ve only got one shot at doing it, they’ve got limited man hours, limited money, two or three or four departments or specialists have to coordinate, or not coordinate as it goes.

    It’s not a mortal sin to say they tried with the Fisher King and it just didn’t work out to be a very good or effective costume. That’s just a practical judgement.

    In contrast the ghosts are quite mobile and expressive, they move smoothly and interact with their environment.

    DenValdron @replies

    In terms of the Fisher King in Before the Flood, that’s a pretty classic lousy monster, in terms of production design. We’re not talking something along the level of the Myrka, but bad enough. The Fisher King is inhabited by a 7’7″ inch Actor, and in simple terms, it’s impressive and awe inspiring on paper, with it’s cowl, insectoid features, spikes and gauntness.

    Downsides? The whole thing looks like it weighs a hundred pounds, give or take. So right then and there’ it’s going to be hard to move around in. So mostly, it just stands there, looming at the Doctor. When it does move, it moves relatively slowly, at a sedate walk. It’s gestures are mostly unfocused.

    They do their best to disguise it, but ultimately, it’s a man in a suit, and the effort to disguise it basically makes the suit unwieldy.

    The overhanging head allows the possibility of vision, but not that much. The animatronic head has a limited range of motion – common enough with animatronics, it takes a talented puppeteer. Without actual body language or expression, and with limited ability to move, including inability to move quickly or precisely, what you’ve got is basically a big goon limited to trash talking and menacing looming.

    Within the actual mechanical progress of the script, he doesn’t have much to do. Basically, the Fisher King has a plot. The Fisher King follows his plot. The Doctor foxes the Fisher King’s plot. End of story.

    There’s nothing in the way of move, countermove. The Fisher King doesn’t react or respond, he doesn’t adapt, or change up. He just has his plot, and not much more, apart from the loomy and the trash talk.

    There’s some opportunity to extrapolate some interesting backstory into the Fisher King’s premise. But we can’t know how much this is deliberate. A lot of this stuff is pulled out without too much deep thinking. So maybe it’s there, maybe it isn’t.

    DenValdron @replies

    @phaseshift Thank you for your observations. If Holmes had been in the British army, he’d probably be well acquainted with the bull-necked old dogs and lifers that you’ll see in there. So yes, it fits. I’m glad that the Sontarans fit better when viewed as a whole.

    DenValdron @replies

    @arbutus Sometimes though a cigar is a cigar. And Bismark suggested that politics is like sausages, in that we shouldn’t examine the makings two closely. Same goes for film making. Quite often serendipity and circumstance are behind what we consider art.

    DenValdron @replies

    @ichabod You’re welcome.

    DenValdron @replies

    Tivoli? Why do I keep thinking Livonian? Brain glitch!

    Whatever. I think that the Tivoli dressing as a Victorian undertaker is a bad, weak choice.

    DenValdron @replies

    Okay, who have we seen in Doctor Who – old and new, that is reminiscent of the Fisher King and what we can work out about his civilization. There are actually a few candidates.

    Vampires – State of Decay Tom Baker’s Doctor finds a relic trio of Space Vampires while lost in E-Space. These Space Vampires drink blood and are human seeming, but they were originally powerful monsters and a threat to the Time Lords. The Time Lords had actually wiped them out.

    Fendahl – Image of the Fendahl Another Tom Baker special. The Fendahl were also obliterated by the Time Lords, who not only crushed their planet but struggled to erase all knowledge of them. The Fendahl feed on life energy.

    Carrionites – The Shakespeare Code David Tennant hangs out with the Bill. Encounters Carrionites, who seem to be primordial witches who use symbolic code as technology. According to the Tennant Doctor, they’re primordial.

    All of these creatures overlap enough that in some fashion, they may actually be the same thing.

    The Fisher King’s remark about the Time Lords being indolent and apathetic, until they turn into terrifying warriors may not be entirely a reference to the Time War, but rather, to the earlier war of the Time Lords against them.

    If so, the Fisher King seems pretty healthy for a species that the Time Lords worked very hard to exterminate. Did the disruptions of the Time War give them a new lease on life? Or were they just really really good at hiding out? The Demise of the Time Lords may mean that they’ve started to creep out.

    DenValdron @replies


    Okay, Doctor threatened by Angry Muppet? Okay, just what is the Fisher King.

    1) He appears to be a member of a species with a homeworld, a power locus, and some form of technology.

    2) He’s also an outlier/renegade. He conquers Livonia, the most invaded world in the universe (I thought that was earth?). I assume that’s where he takes the title/name ‘Fisher King’ from – he’s the King, or made himself the King of that world. There’s no indication that he came with an army of his species, so this looks like a form of personal dominance.

    3) He’s very knowledgable about Time Lords. He’s well aware of their history pre-time war, and even of the Time War itself. I’m assuming that this isn’t necessarily public knowledge in the universe. So it’s either personal knowledge, or known to his species.

    4) He doesn’t seem to be discomfited by death, or apparent death.

    5) His technology is peculiar. There seems to be a cryogenic pod, but that appears to be consistent with the Livonian technology. On the other hand, that whole shtick of killing people and using their souls (life force) (death energy) to power a broadcast beacon to summon his species to rescue his ass is interesting. This is fairly primordial technology, we’re talking manipulating pure life/soul energy to achieve effects.

    5(a) – This technology is typical to its species, its their preferred way of doing things. We know this because the beacon has a receiver. The receiver must be complementary technology. ie the same sort of crap as the beacon. Think about that. Ol’ Fisher King is killing people to create a beacon to send a message to his people, he’s using a technology based on harvested souls. The receiver for the beacon is using technology based on harvested souls. Ergo, the civilization is one which operates on the harvested souls of living beings. Think about that.

    5(b) – The technology is cognitive/symbolic. The Fisher King writes a set of symbols on a wall. These symbols, despite the fact that they are in an unknown language and largely gibberish or random markings, act like a virus, inserting themselves into the cognitive structures of the humans (an unknown species to the Fisher King, he hadn’t met them before – he’d come straight from Livonia). Once that’s done – all he needs is a trigger, and the virus works out the rest of its programming – it burns the soul energy, creates a ‘ghost’ starts broadcasting and starts to murder to create more ghosts. I’m impressed by the fact that it’s ‘program’ is written in a language unknown to humans, but still programs or reprograms their souls/soul energy anyway, and does it to an unknown alien species. That takes some primordial workings.

    Okay, so what does this tell us about the Fisher King and his civilization.

    First, that they’re nasty, nasty customers. We’re talking an entire civilization that thrives on a technology based on primordial symbolic programming/manipulation, powered by intense soul harvesting and burning. That’s bad news. The people that civilization would produce… seriously short on empathy, big on horror. More than that, there’s an economics at work. Every civilization needs to eat. We have an agricultural civilization which means we eat pretty cheap, we have an industrial civilization that eats power – atomic, petroleum, etc. This civilization eats the souls of ‘lesser’ but still sentient, beings. It’s like if humans could only eat cattle brains – how many cattle would we have to maintain to keep us going. So my guess is that we’re looking at something like a ‘slaver empire’ – the Fisher Kings probably represent a small ruling population, dominating a vast population of underlings who do the grunt work and whose souls are harvested. Life probably sucks for the underlings, dominated body and soul by symbolic programming, having their life forces sucked out. Slaves might be too nice a word. Think those chicken farms where the animals are literally force fed, but don’t even have room to stand up or turn around, living in their own feces, overrun by parasites, birth to death in cages… except with Auschwitz style hard labour.

    Of course, even for a civilization like that, the ruling class would find itself impoverished. It needs to be as large and powerful as possible to keep all the slaves/cattle under control. Natural expansion, Malthusian forces, ambition means that the Fisher King civilization would always be on the edge of starving or depletion. Life at home, even for a Fisher King, is probably pretty stringent, everyone’s a little hungry, there’s never quite enough, everyone wants more.

    Which may explain what the Fisher King is doing on Livonia. Not enough at home. Finding a new world to conquer and rule all by yourself? That must be heaven.

    This might explain the first part of the name ‘Fisher’ as in leaving his civilization to go fishing or hunting for new worlds to eat.

    On Livonia, the Fisher King chose to rule as a single deity/absolute monarch. He wasn’t calling his civilization in. They weren’t harvesting the whole planet. It was just him, playing little tin god.

    ie – Fisher… King…

    Maybe he would have called the rest of them in eventually, but he was enjoying having the place to himself. That sort of fits with the psychology that such a civilization would produce – no empathy, lots of self gratification, sociopathy, manipulitiveness, a criminal mindset with limited loyalty. He wouldn’t call in his buds, unless he didn’t have a choice. He would only share if circumstances compelled.

    Which puts a disturbing spin on that beacon. It wasn’t just a rescue beacon. For the Fisher King, that’s the part that would be important to him… getting rescued. But for the rest of his civilization, and for earth… it would really be a dinner bell. Earth on the Menu.

    DenValdron @replies

    Hmmm. I’m not sure I’m making distinctions between monsters and villains. Monsters are theoretically singular beings. But I’m using it rather imprecisely here in terms of Doctor who robots or alien races requiring extensive costume/prop construction/wardrobe/make up/prosthetics, typically seen in numbers. Villains require less baggage, and are presented as human or humanoid.

    DenValdron @replies

    Budget isn’t associated with it, at least not in the sense that throwing more money at something gets you a better monster.

    But production design, which can be boundaried by budgets, have a lot to do with what your creature looks like, the advantages and limits of its function, etc. Compare It Terror From Beyond Space with Alien to see the difference that production design makes.

    A lot stands on initial impact. It’s that initial impact that allows a creature to keep on coming back. I agree with that.

    Are the Sea Devils or Silurians a successful monster? I dunno. Taken together, the Sea Devils and Silurians made a total of three appearances in the classic series. The Silurians have had a single story in the Nu Who, and have supplied Madame Vastra, a supporting character. The Sea Devils haven’t been seen since Warriors of the Deep.

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