Happy Leap Day!

Time for some bissextile fun! Which doesn’t mean what you think it does. Sadly.



Interview with Simon Guerrier

On February 18th, 2012, while attending the Gallifrey One convention in Los Angeles, I was privileged enough to get a bit of time with Simon Guerrier, a long-time Doctor Who fan, and currently a writer for Big Finish! We sat down to chat about the so-called “Oliver Trilogy” of Companion Chronicles audio adventures, which introduced a character with a unique past.

Guerrier said that the idea for “The Cold Equations” originally started a story he pitched to producer David Richardson. It would have focused on Romana rather than Steven. It would have been a bit more of a hard sci-fi story than often turns up in the series and would have focused on entropy, which was a major plot point through much of season 18. Then he found out that the writer of “Full Circle” was going to write a story for the season 18 time frame. This left him having to cast about for a new companion to use.

Eventually they settled on Steven (played by Peter Purves), who was, among other things, a space pilot, and Guerrier wanted to work that into the plot, since, “…they never used that on the screen. They never dealt with it.” They found a good place to wedge it, and then came the discussion of a new companion for Hartnell.

Guerrier had originally wanted the TARDIS to show up with the new companion on board and we’d find out through the story exactly how he came to be with the Doctor. There would have been an alien invasion going on where the aliens were sending down humans with implanted memories, and possibly the new companion might have been one of them.

They decided that what they would do have this new companion be a “real” person and not an alien. Then the next story would be the “origin story” for the companion. “We were rather pleased with that,” Guerrier said. “Then we pitched it to the BBC.” They realized that even the pitch was so complicated that it was probably better to do just do the character’s story in a standard linear fashion.

Since they had an idea for what the character’s origin would be, they created the story “The Perpetual Bond”, which introduced the character, now named Oliver and voiced by Tom Allen (who apparently used to hang out with 11th Doctor Matt Smith, and was represented at the time by Wendy Padbury, known to Who fans for her role as Zoe during the Troughton years). Guerrier and Richardson gave the character a three story arc, did some research and went with it.

Happily, he reports, no one at any level had any problems with the idea of Oliver being gay. He said the only real concern was that the Doctor’s reaction must boil down to “who cares?” That to Oliver it was a great secret that could destroy his life. To Steven it was just some part of Oliver. To the Doctor, however, it must be something supremely irrelevant.

Guerrier also confirmed that the death of Oliver was something that was planned from the beginning. He said that throughout those first few seasons, characters often had very abrupt endings (Katarina and Sarah Kingdom, most notably, though to a lesser extent Vick and Dodo), and that they wanted to keep that sort of thing going with Oliver. He also confirmed that there are no plans to bring back the character in any form, though he probably will get the occasional shout-out.

As for future projects? Guerrier is still working on Who material and was recently involved in the audio revival of Blake’s 7 that Big Finish launched earlier this month. He’s also been working on Graceless, which features original characters created by Big Finish who were initially featured in the “Key 2 Time” stories.

Rick Santorum is Fundamentally Anti-American

I’d say that any true American (which is, I suppose, like any true Scotsman, but whatever), probably at least believes in the values in our Constitution. Among these are, as it were, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (yes, Declaration, not Constitution, but still). One of the most important values, up there with freedom of speech, trial by jury and the right not to suffer cruel and unusual punishment is the separation of church and state.

Now as we all know, the words “separation of church and state,” don’t appear anywhere in the Constitution. But then again, it also doesn’t explicitly say, “Everyone has the right to own whatever and how ever many guns they want!”, and Jefferson coined the phrase “wall of separation” when talking about the subject, so there’s that. But I know that people like me believe it’s important, and I’d like to think that most religious people believe it is, too.

Rick Santorum is an awful, horrible human being. He honestly believes that gay sex should be illegal, that abortion should be illegal, that gays should not be allowed to adopt children, that gays should not be allowed to have civil unions and that birth control should be outlawed. He would carry this nation into the Dark Ages if he had his way. One commentator I once read described him as “the finest mind of the 13th century,” which I feel insults…well, pretty much everyone significant back then, but there you go.

In Santorum’s America, church and state are one, with the church being the more powerful and important. He really, honestly wants this sort of thing. I’m not making this up and I’m not engaging in election year hyperbole. He’s been very up front about what he wants. He is a fundamentally reprehensible human being with views that should make people on both sides of the aisle shudder with horror.

For a really good take down of what Santorum believes and wants for this nation, check this article. Also, if you live in Arizona or Michigan, please, please vote for anyone else. Gingrich, horrible though he is, would make a better president than this ass-clown. Same with Ron Paul. Hell, Herman Cain would have been better. I’d even accept John McCain over Santorum, because at least McCain, dishonest though he was, wasn’t a theocratic nutjob like Santorum.

I know some of my friends really hope Santorum gets the nomination because they feel Obama will then have a cakewalk to back to the White House. I believe they are likely correct, but likely isn’t the same as certain. If the economy tanks again and unemployment goes back to double-digits, people would vote for him out of fear. So bear that in mind, guys.

And again, if you can vote against this guy, please do. He’s really, really quite dangerous.

Smarten Yourself Up!

And enjoy doing it! Check these videos, which are each the first videos in their respective courses. I find the history ones to be more entertaining, but, well, I actually get history, and biology…I’m getting a C in my biology 100 class. This does not make for a happy person. Anyhow, here’s the vids.

The World’s Strangest Ad

Look at this ad. It’s very odd.

This is weird on so many levels. First, her depression is apparently a sentient being. That’s horrifying enough, but it gets even stranger. Pay close attention to the video at about 37 seconds in, when the doctor who is standing in the room plays a video of himself talking. Notice what happens?


Dear god, what sort of horrible creature is this?! Not only is it a sentient being, but it takes note and, later on in the video, hangs out with the patient and her family!


I am horrified. I think I agree with a commenter on the video who said if their depression came alive and started following them around, they’d consult a priest and not a doctor.

Big Finish Review – Doctor Who – “The Fourth Wall”

(special thanks to Big Finish for providing me with a review copy!)

We been spendin' most our lives livin' in a troper's paradise...

Business is bad for intergalactic media mogul Augustus Scullop, whose Trans-Gal empire is on the rocks. But, having retreated to his own private planet, Transmission, Scullop is about to gamble his fortune on a new show, made with an entirely new technology. And the name of that show… is Laser.

Back in the real world, far from the realms of small screen sci-fi fantasies about monsters and aliens, the Doctor is interested only in watching Test Match cricket… but finds himself drawn into Scullop’s world when his new travelling companion, Flip, is snatched from inside the TARDIS.

So, while the Doctor uncovers the terrible secret of Trans-Gal’s new tech, Flip battles to survive in a barren wilderness ruled over by the indestructible Lord Krarn and his pig-like servants, the Warmongers. And the name of that wilderness… is ‘Stevenage’.

Starring: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Lisa Greenwood (Flip Jackson), Julian Wadham (Augustus Scullop), Yasmin Bannerman (Dr Helen Shepherd), Hywel Morgan (Nick Kenton/Jack Laser), Martin Hutson (Matthew Howland/Lord Krarn), Tilly Gaunt (Olivia Sayle/Jancey), Kim Wall (Chimbly/Head Warmonger), Henry Devas (Junior/Warmonger)

There’s a website I love visiting on a regular basis. It’s called tvtropes.org and it’s full of all sorts of interesting things, many of which apply to this audio. We have Show Within a Show, Bond One-Liner, Card-Carrying Villain, Dangerously Genre Savvy, Contractual Immortality, Fourth Wall Observer, Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy, Large Ham, and probably at least a dozen more I didn’t spot. Yes, ladies and gentleman, what we have here is a trope-fest, and one that spoofs Doctor Who just as much as it does everything else.

This was an excellent audio; truly one of the best I’ve heard so far. It helps that I’m fairly well versed in these various tropes, so that I was able to laugh at them, but I think even people who, you know, have lives, might enjoy this one. It really is very entertaining.

I must give my usual kudos to Colin Baker for proving yet again that he wasn’t the reason he got fired from the series back in the day. I must also give extra-special recognition to writer John Dorney for managing to pull-off such a feat as this and pull it off so very well. I also loved the return of the time-space visualizer from “The Chase”.

In fact, the only complaint that I have centers around Flip. Part way through episode one, she leaves the story. This is very odd to me. If you’re trying to establish a new, long-term companion for the Doctor, you don’t do so by having them wander off in the middle of their second proper story. Had this been done a few stories down the line, I think it might have worked better. AS it stands, I’m left with a feeling that it was an opportunity wasted for her character.

That complaint aside this was a winning story and one that I very highly recommend!

File Under, “Stupid, Pointless Politics”

Seven states have announced they’re going to sue the federal government over the requirement that religious employers who aren’t churches and cater to, and employ, people from outside their religion, have to provide birth control through their employees’ health care insurance. For those who haven’t been paying attention, there was a compromise a couple weeks back that got rid of that requirement, and even if it hadn’t, there are similar laws in something like twenty-seven states. So, yeah.

You know, I hate it when politicians use the courts to make political points. It’s a waste of time, effort and money and I don’t care what side is doing it. This issue is already settled case law in many states. If, and I say if it makes it to the Supreme Court, they’ll likely say that the employers have to comply with the law. So in fact the side that is against birth control might end up undermining their own cause. I also have to say that I find it baffling that nearly fifty years after Griswold v Connecticut we’re having to refight the issue of birth control.

On a related note, how hilarious was it that the two very loudly Catholic Republicans at last night’s debate didn’t have ash on their foreheads, but Stephen Colbert did on his show? I guess that’s because their handlers realized that the extreme evangelical right loves Christians, but considers Catholics to be kind of icky, so rubbing it in their faces, as it were, might have cost the two votes. Whatever, it’s their faith and they can do what they want, but I still find it silly.