Category Archives: Commentary

300 – Our 300th Episode

It’s Our 300th Episode…

Alternate title: Navel Gazing.

Ben and Simon join me for a look down memory lane.

190 – Story Arcs – Success Stories or Disasters Waiting to Happen?

Story Arcs, can they make or break a TV series?  What is the modern fascination with them?  Is it really new?  Has it ever been done right?

Simon and Eugene discuss story arcs.

In Search of… My Past

It’s no secret that I’m a card-carrying skeptic (or “sceptic” for our British readers.)  Sometimes, though, the birth of skepticism comes from a strong interest in the strange, the unexplained…  the paranormal.

Like anything I’m interested in, I tend to devour anything I can on the subject, so as child, I read everything I could get me hands on concerning bigfoot, UFOs, ghosts and the like.

But starting in 1977, nothing was a bigger highlight of the week for me than Leonard Nimoy’s In Search of… Every week, I was taken into a new world of possibilities – into a world that still had creatures to be discovered, aliens to encounters and mysteries to be solved.

What a shame it was all complete bullshit!  Perhaps I should be angry, but I’m not.

Today I’m starting a new series of written articles, a one man Fusion Patrol odyssey through all 144 episodes of In Search of…

For me this is going to be a chance to relive the mysteries of childhood, and I’m not looking at these critically, instead, I’m just going to give my impressions about what stands out in each episode, be that scientific, artistic or just from my sense of the absurd.  Whatever happens to grab me.

Where the Hell is that Barn?

Simon has argued in another post that the barn from Day of the Doctor and Listen is not on Gallifrey.

I will state that I wholeheartedly agree that the barn in Day of the Doctor is not on Gallifrey, never was on Gallifrey and, apart from a slight similarity in the color of the sky with Gallifrey, there is not a single scrap of evidence that the barn is on Gallifrey.

I have argued this since the day Day of the Doctor aired and I’ve been mystified why anyone would think that it was.  Based solely on what the Doctor knows and what we’ve learned through his (now proven to be faulty) memories being related to us it’s not logical that it would be Gallifrey.

The Doctor has stolen The Moment, a weapon that can…  come to think of it, how powerful is The Moment?  Is it nothing more than a bomb with a conscience?  In that case, it must be “planted” on Gallifrey.  But that conscience can violate the laws of time and bring multiple Doctors together including future incarnations from a future where Gallifrey was destroyed and the even time looped out of existence! That’s a bit overkill for just a bomb, ist it?

The Doctor was not in this time loop, nor apparently at ground zero (Gallifrey.)  We also know that the Doctor left the TARDIS “miles away” making his escape from ground zero even more unlikely.  This is not Gallifrey.

The barn is clearly a remote and desolate place.  It’s in a place where apparently only idiots would build a barn — barren wastelands do not good barn locations make — and, although we know that outside the Gallifreyan cities are nothing but wastelands (Invasion of Time) we also know “nobody” goes there except dropouts from Time Lord society.

Now, obviously, based on the Doctor’s comments about his childhood, he’s been outside visiting the hermit many times, so it is conceivable that there are buildings, structures and impossible barns out there, too.  Equally possible, then, that the Doctor would know of such a place.

On the flip side, if you were going to steal the most deadly weapon of the most technologically powerful species in the universe, would you take it away by TARDIS and conceal it in a barn within a boy’s walking distance of a Gallifreyan city?

If The Moment is a bomb, it must be Gallifrey and if The Moment is a directed weapon it must not be Gallifrey.  From everything we see in Day of the Doctor, The Moment is a directed weapon.  It is not remotely logical that the barn is on Gallifrey.


In Listen, this barn is undeniably an integral part of the Doctor’s childhood.  From both the dialogue and the script, this is the exact same barn as in Day of the Doctor.

Is it feasible that the Doctor lived on another world for some or all of his childhood?

While not expressly impossible, it doesn’t fit with any previous information we’ve received about Gallifrey in the series’ past.  Gallifreyans are strict isolationists (That exact word has been used.)  In their later, post-Rassilon days, they have withdrawn to their world and left the universe alone, save for the occasional dubious activities of the Celestial Intervention Agency (CIA.)

It doesn’t really fit into that model that a group of (apparently ordinary) boys would be living off world.  I say “apparently ordinary” because there’s no hint of destiny to them – the man is expecting the young Doctor to want to go into the army – generally the destination of the more plebeian members of society.

We’ve seen that the Time Lords are a class and caste driven society, at least in some fashion, with the Prydonian Time Lords at the top of pecking order.  It seems unlikely that those lower than the Time Lords would be the freedom to roam that the Time Lords are not.

I suspect that it’s not so much like Simon’s comparison to North Korea, but rather to Shangri-La, a fictional place where the peoples are so elevated that they maintain no interface with the outside world by choice.  Outlier personalities like the Doctor rarely achieve access to the TARDIS technology to allow them to leave and the others have no need or desire to leave.

Therefore the Doctor would have spent his childhood on Gallifrey and the barn, despite its appearance in Day of the Doctor, is apparently within the walking or running distance of a small, scared boy on a nightly basis.

In this case, Occam’s Razor tells use that the simplest conclusion, with the least amount of new assumptions is that the barn is on Gallifrey.

And yet it can’t be.  Gallifrey is time looped and/or lost in another universe, inaccessible to the TARDIS, even with the safeties off.

So here’s what the problem is, we’re attempting to impose rationale continuity to a fictional universe.

Continuity is meaningless in Doctor Who.  Once the Time Lords were massively powerful but completely disinterested, yet somehow they couldn’t find the Doctor until he called them.  (War Games)

During Pertwee’s reign, we learned of the Doctor’s childhood and his friendship with the Hermit who taught him many things that he didn’t learn from his Time Lord training.  Also during this time, we begin to learn that the Time Lords do meddle, but never interact directly, yet they are still massively powerful beings.

During Tom Baker’s time, we learn that, rather than all-powerful beings, the Time Lords (apart from the CIA) are a comical, fatuous, wastrel of a society.  Inflated by its on pomp and circumstance and completely out-of-touch and isolated from the universe.

The degradation of the Time Lords continued…  They themselves have never had any meaningful continuity.  They have been what they need to be at the whim of writers and script editors since the very beginning.

We can’t expect continuity now – or ever.

But, here’s the problem — you can’t tell a coherent story without continuity.  We will always continue to expect continuity in series because, if continuity can be changed from era-to-era, why not year-to-year, episode-to-episode or scene-to-scene?

In Day of the Doctor, it is only logical that the barn is on some remote other world.

In Listen, it is only logical that the barn in on Gallifrey, close to the Doctor’s home.

My vote:  The Impossible Barn is actually the Master’s TARDIS.

169 – What’s SciFi?

How do we define SciFi for the purpose of choosing programs to discuss on Fusion Patrol.  It turns out, we didn’t have solid criteria to start with.

In this special episode, Simon and Eugene try to clarify exactly what is Science Fiction.

Still More Rumors

We all love a good rumor, especially when it’s above something near and dear, like Doctor Who, and if you listened to our recent Missing (Now Found) Special episode, you’ll know that we can speculate (read: “pull stuff out of our… er… thin air”) with the best of them!

The fact that Enemy of the World and Web of Fear have been (mostly) returned to us is undeniable, but the question remains, why so damned much cloak and dagger on behalf of the BBC and BBC Worldwide?  Is there a bigger picture with regards to future releases, difficult negotiations or strategic planning? If it’s happening, somebody must know.  Equally, if it isn’t happening, I’m sure somebody has come up with a plausible, if made up out of whole cloth, theory.

Hit tip to Simon for bringing this latest rumor to my attention, which does go a long way towards answering why so much cloak and dagger:  Restoration of episodes unable to be completed by the Anniversary, poor DVD performance of some Hartnell and Troughton episodes (Aztecs Special Edition, for example), negotiations that are predicated on the iTunes sales performance of EOTW and WOF (so, bastard pirates ripping this off from iTunes and selling it, “fuck you” if you screw this up for the rest of us), timing issues designed not to detract from Day of the Doctor (or perhaps DOTD DVD sales) and other completely plausible reasons that almost make sense of both the timing and the cloak and dagger release of the recent missing episodes.