Saturday 28 June 2014

In Answer to Moffat's Question

In the most recent issue of Doctor Who magazine, Steven Moffat asked:

“Here’s a question I tried on some Doctor Who fans recently, and we were all a bit startled by the answer, when it finally emerged – if we got it right. Okay; keeping in mind that everything you know for sure is probably wrong, answer me this: in which story is it confirmed, definitively, that the Doctor is not human?

“Now before you jump up and yell An Unearthly Child – sorry, but wrong. He makes it clear he’s not from this time, and seems to indicate that he was born on another world, but he never says he’s an alien. He could, just as easily, be a human being from the far future, born on some colonised world. Indeed, most of his conversation in the early days would seem to confirm that he thinks of himself as human, and he even explicitly states that he is, at least once.

“So come on then. To your DVD collection. In what story do the wise men and women of the BBC stop fudging the issue, and make our hero Not One Of Us. I’m not talking about him having remarkable abilities or attributes – we’ve always known he’s not ordinary, that s fair enough. Spider-Man’s not ordinary, but he s not an alien. And I’m not talking about series bibles, or internal memos or retconned continuity – when did the Doctor Who production team stop hedging their bets and make him alien?"

We might well wonder or speculate about his motivation for asking such a question, nevertheless, I shall offer a straight answer.

The first time the Doctor is definitely identified as non-human is in The Dalek's Master Plan. Mavic Chen discusses the Daleks' opponent:

CELATION: Having had your contribution to this great weapon stolen, it must be a relief to you now that the Daleks have managed to recover it.
CHEN: Without my help, it is unlikely that they'd have got it back.
TRANTIS: At least that absurd story that it was my people from Trantis who stole the taranium has been discredited.
CELATION: Yes. They were from Earth, I believe.
CHEN: Only two of them and they are under the influence of some creature from another galaxy.
TRANTIS: He looked like an Earth creature.
CHEN: That's only a disguise. The Daleks know of him. He is some kind of time and space traveller.
CELATION: Then he is nothing to do with me. We have not yet conquered the dimension of time.
CHEN: I hear your experiments in that field are progressing, Trantis.
TRANTIS: We have not yet succeeded. Only the Daleks know how to break the time barrier.
CELATION: And this other creature, from wherever he comes.

Here the Doctor is described as a 'creature from another galaxy' who only appears to be human. The notion that the Doctor's human appearance is only a disguise is a fascinating one. What does he really look like? A walking jellyfish? A purple spider? It's rather unfortunate that later stories have not followed this idea. The only exception would be the novel Sky Pirates!, in which the Doctor transforms into his 'Other other self,' a sort of cosmic god-being.

Saturday 21 June 2014

Crossover Klein

I asked Sylvant to draw Elizabeth Klein having coffee with Cigarette Smoking Man from The X-Files. This is based on a crossover fan fiction I wrote. I think he did a fantastic job.

Thursday 19 June 2014

Klein and the Smoking Man, Part 3

A Doctor Who/ X-Files crossover

Scully was in the basement at the FBI headquarters, listening to Mulder talking at length about newspaper cuttings, magazine articles and internet rumours from UFO fanatics. He was like a little boy in a toy shop, displaying wide-eyed enthusiasm at every scrap of information.

"Now this is the best lead I have here, Scully. Just over a week ago, a meteor was reported to have hit in rural Wisconsin," said Mulder.

"Let me guess, you think this is a UFO crash landing?" suggested Scully, raising her eyebrow.

"Precisely. I have read a number of eyewitness accounts descrine a flying saucer within a two-mile radius immediately prior to this 'meteor' hitting the ground," replied Mulder.

"It hadn't occurred to you that an inexperienced observer might have difficulty distinguishing between a meteor and a flying saucer?" asked Scully.

"Hold off on the sceptic routine, Scully. There is more coming," he said. "A UFO enthusiast I am in contact with tried to get close to the crash site or 'meteor.' He couldn't get close, as the military had cordoned off the whole area. He did, however, manage to take a very interesting photograph which he sent me."

Mulder handed a photograph to Scully. It showed a man smoking a cigarette, while taking to a blond middle-aged woman.

"It's him! The smoking man!" said Scully.

"It seems he has an interest in meteors. I'm interested in who the woman is he's talking to."

"Somebody from the Federal government?" offered Scully.

"No. My friend took some other photographs, one of which included the car that brought this lady. I traced the registration number. It turns out it belongs to the United Nations headquarters in New York."

"She works for the UN?"

"I think this is a lead we should explore, Scully," Mulder declared.


After Mulder had returned to his apartment, he carefully placed two pieces of sticky tape onto his window, forming an X. He then shone his lamp behind it.


The next day, Mulder was getting out of his car, when we has approached by a black man, dressed in an overcoat. He had a greying beard and a scowling expression. The man was a nameless figure who often provided information to Mulder, though always on his own terms.

"Is it just me or do the two of us spend a lot of time in car parks?" said Mulder.

"What do you want from me this time, Agent Mulder?" snarled Mr. X.

"I wondered if you might know who this lady is in the picture," replied Mulder, handing Mr. X the photograph he had shown Scully.

"Agent Mulder, do you realise just how deep you are going here?" snapped Mr X. "Do you realize the web of secrecy you are trying to pierce?"

"If I didn't I wouldn't be asking," said Mulder with a shrug.

"This woman works for the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce."

"I think I've heard of them. Some sort of top secret security organisation," said Mulder.

"You think our cigarette-smoking friend is secretive? These people are on a completely different level," barked Mr X. "These are real military. Trained killers. Like Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, one of their former officers. My death could be ordered just for talking about UNIT. You don't know what you are dealing with, Agent Mulder."

"What exactly does UNIT do?" asked Mulder.

"They are Earth's last line of defence against invasion by extraterrestrials, Agent Mulder."

Mulder's eyes widened.

"You find this woman, Agent Mulder. Her name is Dr Elizabeth Klein. When you find her, aske her about the Doctor," instructed Mr X.


"Dr. Who, Dr. John Smith. He has many names. But he is the Doctor."


Mulder and Scully arrived outside the headquarters of the American branch of UNIT in Arkham, Massachusetts. The organisation was based in an old house from the 18th century. Like many of the buildings in Arkham, it was in an ornate neo-classical style. UNIT clearly had good taste.

The two agents presented themselves at the reception, displaying their FBI badges to the guard.

The guard wore the uniform of a US Marine, though she had a UNIT badge on her sleeve and wore a blue UNIT beret.

"I am very sorry, but Dr. Klein can only see visitors with a prior appointment. Her stay here is temporary and her time is limited," the guard explained.

"We are Federal agents conducting a criminal investigation," insisted Scully.

"I am sorry, but this building and it's staff are under UN jurisdiction. Dr Klein has diplomatic unity and cannot be subject to Federal investigation."

At that moment, a middle-aged blonde woman dressed in a dark skirt suit entered the reception heading toward the exit.

"Dr Klein!" cried the two agents.

"Can I help you?" asked Klein.

"These people are FBI agents, Dr. Klein. They wanted a consultation with you," interjected the guard.

"Is that so?" asked Klein with a raised eyebrow.

"It is Dr Klein. I'm Agent Mulder and this is Scully. We believe you may be able to shed some light on our recent investigations."

"I would be happy to talk with you and provide you with whatever information I can. There is a coffee shop on the other side of the street. Perhaps we could go there," the UNIT scientist suggested.

Mulder and Scully nodded and followed Klein into the street.


"So what exactly does UNIT do?" asked Scully.

"Oh, we're spies. We deal with invisible ink, that sort of thing," explained Klein.

"Nothing to do with Extraterrestrials or anything beyond Earth then?" asked Mulder suspiciously.

"You must be joking! I do wish my job was that interesting," replied Klein.

"Over a week ago, a meteor was reported to have hit Wisconsin. Can I ask what you were doing in the area?"

"I have a certain expertise in meteors. I happened to be giving a lecture at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. I was asked to come to the examine the meteor."

"You were photographed with this man," said Mulder, showing Klein the photograph of her with the smoking man. She showed a definite sign of recognition.

"He's a professor at the university. Is he is some kind of trouble?" asked Klein.

"He doesen't exactly come across as the academic type," commented Scully.

"I'm sure he has some varied hobbies. I really don't know him very well," said Klein.

Mulder changed the subject.

"Is it true that in 1976, the London Underground was closed because of robotic Yeti?" he asked.

Klein made an amused face.

"I have heard of such stories, but the 1976 evacuation was due to a toxic substance that had been unleashed," she replied.

"I'm aware of the toxic substance, but it is believed by many that this was a creation of an alien force, along with the robot Yeti," he insisted.

Scully rolled her eyes.

"I think it's rather more likely that the toxin was unleashed by a terrorist group, such as the IRA. If there were any 'Yeti,' I am sure that they were just men in costumes."

Scully nodded. She was starting to warm to this Klein woman.

"Is it also true that London was evacuated in 1983 because of a horde of rampaging Dinosaurs?" asked Mulder.

Scully tried hard not to laugh.

"Oh, I've heard that one so many times," said a smiling Klein. "There was a serious gas leak from a chemical plant."

"I have read eyewitness accounts of people describing Dinosaurs. They seem pretty accurate," said Mulder.

"Perhaps, but Dinosaurs have been extinct for a long time," replied Klein.

"What about the Loch Ness Monster swimming down the Thames in 1984?" asked Mulder. This was his favorite of these British stories.

"I can assure you that your 'Loch Ness Monster' was a whale that had become trapped in the Thames. The poor thing was driven mad. The remains were preserved. I could arrange for you to see them if you like," said Klein.

Mulder was starting to get frustrated.

"Who is this man? The one they call the Doctor?" he said, handing Klein a photograph he had found on the internet.

The photograph displayed a man with tightly-curled brown hair. He was giving a boggle-eyed stare, while grinning madly, displaying huge white teeth. He had a brightly-cloured scarf wrapped about his neck.

Klein grimaced in recognition of the man.

"Oh, he was a medical student we had doing a placement with us. We used to call him the 'Doctor.' We were being sarcastic. He was completely incompetent and useless. I doubt he ever actually went on to qualify."

"You expect us to believe all these cover stories?" snapped Mulder.

"Would I be telling you them if I didn't?" sneered Klein.

"Come on, Mulder, We've wasted enough time on the 'invisible ink' people. Let's get back to grassy knolls and flying saucers," said Scully.

"You can't hide the truth from the people of the world forever!" said Mulder.

"Come on," said Scully dragging his arm.

"You really have no idea," said Klein with a sigh.

Friday 13 June 2014

Klein and the Smoking Man, Part 2

A Doctor Who/ X-Files crossover

Klein awoke to the smell of cigarettes. This was unusual as she had given up smoking nearly ten years ago.

"Good morning, Dr Klein," came a male voice, smooth and precise, with the faintest hint of an Irish lilt.

The cigarette smoking man. She remembered. She had returned to the hotel with this shadowy man from the US government. They had drank and drank at the bar, before going back to her hotel room.

What kind of woman went to bed with a man whose name she did not even know? At least she was in a foreign country and far from home. Nobody was going to know about this.

She looked at the man she had carelessly made love to, his craggy, weathered face, with its sharply defined cheekbones. The sharp lines of his aging features betrayed the depth of his harrowing experiences.

Most of the men her age were fat and ungainly, one of the reasons it was such a long time since she had taken a lover. Not so the smoking man. His naked chest revealed a slim slender form, broken only by firm and tight muscle. It was a body kept in check by iron discipline. She supposed he was an ex-military man who had never abandoned the rigours of his youthful training.

The man breathed deeply on his cigarette and gazed at Klein. His expression was inscrutable, his half-smile neither cruel nor kind. His beady-eyed stare suggested friendly attention, but might just as easily have been mocking amusement.

"This is actually a non-smoking room," Klein pointed out.

The man lowered his cigarette and shrugged.

"Does it matter? You smoked plenty yourself last night," he replied.

"Yes, I vaguely remember that I did," admitted Klein. "Hang it all. Pass me another one."

The man smiled and passed his packet of Morleys and his lighter.

Klein lit the cigarette and drew deeply. She was well aware of the health risks, but a situation like this called for cigarettes. Saving the world from Zygons or Quarks was one thing, but waking up in bed with a nameless killer from a secret branch of the US government was quite another.

"This is a plain hotel, Dr Klein. I would have thought the United Nations expenses would have stretched a little higher," commented the man.

"Perhaps for the World Health Organisation. Blowing up Daleks and Cybermen with bazookas is an expensive business. It doesen't leave much room for plush hotel stays," Klein answered.

"I thoroughly approve, Dr. Klein. I always stay in modest hotels myself. There is only so much you can get out of a black budget. Besides, great power requires responsibility. Those of us who work in secret and outside the law must be honest and above reproach. I come down sharply on associates who use their power to their own benefit," he said.

"It's always about big secrets, Earth-shaking plans, the destiny of humanity and sinister threats with you, isn't it?"

"Of course. What else? Though I do have my distractions. I like to write fiction in my minimal spare time and occasionally watch a game of baseball. And on very rare occasions, I enjoy the company of an attractive woman such as yourself, Dr Klein," said the man.

A life utterly consumed by secrets and the shadowy wars of the heavens. So much like her own.

Most of the men Klein had fallen for in the past were ordinary men doing ordinary jobs, men who could distract her from the cold and terrifying realities of her professional life. Why had she allowed this man, with all her own baggage and complexities into her life?

A Machiavellian schemer. Delighting in secrecy, lies and devilish plans. A man who was happy to manipulate and dupe others.

A man just like the Doctor. Admittedly, the smoking man was a good deal handsomer, as well as taller than the Doctor. And rather more ready to get into bed with her.

Could she never get away from thinking about the wretched Umbrella Man? Was that infernal schemer even warping her love life? Damn you, Doctor, she silently cursed.

"It's time to get dressed, Mr Smoker," said Klein. "I didn't come to this country just to fool around in a hotel room. You were going to show me some of your facilities."

"Naturally, Dr. Klein. A car awaits. But on the way, perhaps you can tell me a little about Cybermen. We have a project that might make use of some of their technical properties," said the man.

"Gladly," replied Klein. There were times when the thought of being an emotionless sexless Cyberwoman seemed so much simpler.

Thursday 5 June 2014

The Enemy of the World (the real thing this time)

I reviewed the audio version of this ages ago, but having watched the rediscovered episodes, I had to review it again.

If any story in Season 5 deserved to be rediscovered it was The Enemy of the World. Season 5 is popular with many fans, but I find the run of bases-under siege a bit tedious, even if Fury of the Deep has an interesting monster. Enemy of the World is different; a story with no monsters, that is driven by human drama, interesting characters and surprisingly effective James Bond visuals. It feels such a refreshing break within thsi most predictable season.

The Enemy of the World succeeds because it is a story driven by character. It is about a corrupt dangereous world of the near future and about the people that inhabit that world. We have such a fantastic cast of characters; the abused but dignified Fariah, the sincere but doomed Dennes, the cynical Australian chef Griff, the self-serving Kent and of course, the brash megalomaniac Salamander. Griff contributes absolutely nothing to the plot, yet in him we see how a person in a terrifying and brutal environment can survive through humour. Likewise, the moment when Dennes jokes about it being a long time since his food was cut up for him shows such basic human dignity in the face of certain death.

Troughton's Mexican accent is a bit odd, but his portrayal of two roles is simply amazing. Particularly delightful is the way he plays the Doctor impersonating Salamander and he manages to make the impersonation distinct from the real Salamander.

Before the rediscovery of these episodes, there was always an uncertainty as to whether the visual elements of this story really lived up to their grandiose aspirations. The answer turned out to be that they did. For a Doctor Who story, this is remarkably visually impressive with the helicopter and hovercraft scenes. This is a clear tribute to the strength of Barry Letts' direction. Even in the later episodes, where things get more obviously studio bound, we get a great shot of the lift shaft to Salamander's lair.

If the story has a significant flaw, I would say it is the way things shift once Salamander's game is revealed. Once we move away from the corrupt backstabbing of Salamder's court and into his underground den, we enter more generic Doctor Who territory. It feels uncomfortably like Invasion of the Dinosaurs.

Jack Graham over on Shabogan Graffiti offers some good comments on the complex racial politics of this story. While it is great to have a black actress playing a significant role in a Sixties Doctor Who story, the fact she plays a standard racial role as a slave is problematic. Even worse, it is implied that she did something wrong and it is her fault she is a slave. Any critique of racism is rather muted by the fact that she is enslaved by a Mexican, rather than by a European white man (Troughton bronzing-up is problematic in itself). Of course, it might be assumed, with Troughton's European features, that Salamander is a Mexican of primarily European descent. There are lighter-skinned Mexicans and no doubt some of them are racist toward black Mexicans of African descent. I am reminded of the X-Files episode El Mundo Gira, in which we meet an immigration police agent who assists Mulder and Scully. His accent and cultural outlook indicate he is of Mexican, or at least Latin American origin, though his fair skin indicates European descent. He posesses a status and privilege that contrasts massively with the darker-skinned Mexican illegals that we meet in the episode and he displays to them an attitude of racist contempt.

The recovery of this story was truly a delight for Doctor Who fans in the 50th anniversary year.

cryptonaut-in-exile: The Web of Fear - "[I]s it safe?" "Oh, I shouldn't...

cryptonaut-in-exile: The Web of Fear - "[I]s it safe?" "Oh, I shouldn't...:

Great review from Cdog Zilla