Category Archives: British Television

211 – Doctor Who – Shada

Shada – The story, the mythos, the legend and the animation.

Simon and Eugene take a look at the Eighth Doctor animated adventure, Shada and discuss its long and varied road to production.

The New Science Fiction of the New Avengers

This is really a postscript to my survey of science fiction in The Avengers a couple of months back. Since then I’ve watched The New Avengers and I felt I ought to remark on the science fiction therein. There are far fewer episodes, so consequently there are fewer scifi episodes, but in the interests of completeness, here we go.

Suspended Animation

This is a field that features quite heavily in The New Avengers. The very first episode, Eagle’s Nest, concerns the revival of an infamous historical figure, whilst K is for Kill Part One The Tiger Awakens and K is for Kill Part Two Tiger by the Tail involve suspended armies revived by satellite signals received via cranial implants. It’s none too consistent – in the first case, it’s necessary to kidnap Peter Cushing to facilitate the revival; in the second, it’s entirely remote control with no indication of how the sleepers are kept hidden, let alone hydrated…

Engineering Fiction

Screen capture from Gnaws
I’ve never seen one as big as that before…

Also on the advanced biological side, The Midas Touch goes one step further than You’ll Catch Your Death in which the common cold was weaponised. This time victims are infected with multiple diseases (“yes, Mr Gambit, they died of everything”) via a carrier who is dosed up on drugs. Ummm…

Slightly more carefully thought through is the sleeping agent that can be deployed over a wide area in Sleeper. Delivered by an aircraft, it renders all subjects unconscious for a few hours.


Screen capture from Last of the Cybernauts...?
Dressed to impress

This was one of the staples of the original series features in the only direct sequel Last of the Cybernauts…?? (unfortunately, that title break Betteridge’s law). It’s more basic physical augmentation than the fancy neurological stuff we’ve seen before, but it’s still advanced engineering.

I’m not sure it quite counts as augmentation, because the birds are unmodified, but in Cat Among the Pigeons it is assumed they have a level of intelligence that enables communication and manipulation of them as a flock. Umm…

Then there’s plastic surgery. Not really sci-fi, except for how they effectively perfect doppelgängers in Faces. That would be impressive – if the recruits weren’t played by the same actors in the first place…

Screen capture from Gnaws
Is it an elephant? Is it a truck?

Almost as a counterpart to  Mission… Highly Improbable we have things getting bignified by a special formula in Gnaws. It’s never quite clear how this works, or how quickly, or why it embiggens and entire spider or rat, but only the fruit of the tomato…

And then there’s the return Who’s Who??? style mind-transfer in Three Handed Game, albeit a slightly less powerful version.


Recollection of dehydration and exhaustion in Angels of Death effectively scare people to death. I’m not sure if I should count this as sci-fi, though, as I didn’t include Death’s Door from the original series.

Artificial Intelligence

Complex. An intelligent building.

Is It Any Good?

Actually, some of the sci-fi seems to suit The New Avengers. Though some of it is terrible. And with so few episodes, it’s hard to spot a pattern.

However, most of the sci-fi episodes are in the first series of the show, so it does seem that where the original show veered towards sci-fi later in its run, The New Avengers toyed with it (and not without success, as episodes like Sleeper show) but then went the other way.

Episodes like Gnaws and Complex that put sci-fi at the heart of the plot are unrewarding. As before, sci-fi has to be a peripheral element.

187 – Blakes 7 – Bounty

Jon Pertwee and Kay Manning in an episode of Blakes 7?!?!  Say it ain’t so!

It ain’t so.

Ben and Eugene discuss the almost mystifyingly named episode of Blakes 7 known as Bounty.

The Science Fiction of The Avengers

A while back, Eugene and I tried to work out what’s scifi (and what’s not). This came about when Eugene included The Avengers on a list of top scifi shows which surprised me, because while it’s my top show, I wouldn’t have considered it scifi. On the podcast we spent about an hour discussing what scifi is,  without reaching a conclusion, but along the way we discussed all sorts of different types of scifi, and the blurry boundary into fantasy.

Continue reading The Science Fiction of The Avengers

179 – Doctor Who – Mummy on the Orient Express

A mummy on the Orient Express: What could be more natural?

Find out what Ben and Eugene think about the latest episode of Doctor Who, Mummy on the Orient Express.

Silver Nemesis – Review

An anniversary story about the defence of Gallifrey, with a time twin zone timey wimey story split between the present day and the 16th or 17th century, and explicitly asking the question “Doctor Who?” It appears that, like the Nemesis comet, these are things that come around every 25 years.

I’m dubious about specials in general – even when they don’t have multiple Doctors – lots of build up and promise of spectacle, but my favourite Doctor Who is often the ‘small scale’ stuff: The Mind Robber, The Keeper of Traken, Blink, Midnight… So it’s rather welcome that Silver Nemesis is a low-key celebration of the first 25 years of Doctor Who and a relief that it doesn’t deserve its dire reputation. Continue reading Silver Nemesis – Review

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.