Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Review: GHTTB: Ashes To Ashes 2.6

Riley is a mobster-esque loan shark.
Ashes To Ashes - Series Two, Episode Six

I suppose there really isn't any "light relief" in a crime drama focussed around murder and mayhem, but this was definitely one of them, taking a solid independant story that didn't touch the arc and giving us a break from thick mythos before the finalé arrives. Its issues mainly surrounded a lack of focus and tension, but it delivered some interesting character dynamics which more than made up for it.
     CID happen upon a body floating on a canal and identify it as Colin Mitchell, a man reported missing by his wife Donna (Daisy Haggerd) several days before. Alex is being operated upon in the Overworld, and she's feeling the strain as the doctors remove the bullet from her brain. Leader of the neighbourhood watch and Colin's father Stanley Mitchell tells them that a distinct mark on the body indicates local loan shark Riley, who beat him up previously. Colin was working for Riley, but left the organisation and was killed soon after.
     With little evidence, the team raid Riley's organisation and find a sex-tape of Riley and Donna; Donna explains that she was fulfilling Riley's debt demands in return for Colin's safety. Angry at Gene's intrusion, Riley sends men round to attack both he and Alex. While Alex escapes unscathed, Gene is beat up and the following day his ego is clearly badly damaged. Following a path of retribution he traps Riley in a car and begins to crush the car with a crane - just in time for Alex and Ray to use psych profiling to work out the real killer. Together they confront Stanley, who reveals that he killed his son in a fit of rage after discovering him working for Riley and then used the murder to frame him.
Gene excercises retribution... imaginatively.
     Like last week, there was a lot of good character work. Ray explored his more mental side, while Chris and Shaz's relationship fell on a rocky patch. Their relationship has never really felt that realistic to me, and just felt like a way of giving the show's least interesting characters some unique trait. Daisy Haggerd is best known for her comic acting, and at times it did feel a little forced when she spontaneously burst into tears. The best performance of the piece was definitely Phillip Glenister, who managed to channel his usual aggression into a bitter, seething anger that made his revenge all the sweeter.
      It wasn't exactly first-rate, but it was an interesting week that felt relatively chilled before next week's mythos-filled pre-finalé episode.  It wasn't so much a whodunnit as it was a "hedunnitbutshedunnitbuthedunnit," and that ultimately left me a little empty, but Alex's predicament left open a long trail of hope to lead us into the stormy end of what we thought was going to be the penultimate episode.

Thanks.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Review: Doctor Who Classic: Remembrance of the Daleks (Revisited)

See here for my previous look at this story.

The beginning of the great team of Seven and Ace
Doctor Who - Season 25, Story One - Remembrance of the Daleks (Revisited)
Written between 12th and 15th June 2012

My first look wasn't really a review, was it? It was more of a single paragraph with some gushing in it. After Season 24, Remembrance of the Daleks instantly presents a very different image of the Seventh Doctor, while setting the series back on track with some traditional Dalek action. Not tired after the 20th Anniversary, JNT decided to throw in some effort for this 25th Season, and Remembrance was the first step towards this. Notably, Remembrance is the first story that I can call good in the classic sense -  a witty script that exploits the mythos while still providing a fun and entertaining experience. You don't need to have seen the Daleks before to love this serial; their awesomeness is cemented in a myriad of ways.
     Unlike in Attack of the Cybermen, the serial is set in the location and time of An Unearthly Child for an actual reason. The Doctor and Ace arrive at an opportune time; an army regiment has arrived to deal with a renegade Dalek, and The Doctor is on hand to offer them advice. Little do they know that the situation is being manipulated by the Doctor, who left behind a powerful artefact called the Hand of Omega in the time before the first serial back in 1963. Now faced with two Dalek factions, the Doctor and Ace must further manipulate events around Coal Hill School and make sure that the right Daleks do the right thing. Eventually the Imperial Daleks win under Davros, and take command of the Hand of Omega... which promptly destroys Skaro and then the Dalek Mothership.
      Out of perspective, the serial is very much a product of its time; the production seems to have more in common with Heartbeat than with the previous season. However, it is very clever, and is the first real sign of Andrew Cartmel's effects of the series and on the Doctor's character. Cartmel's design was later realised by the novel Lungbarrow, which had some conspiracy-theory-esque notions that The Doctor was the decendant of a Gallifreyan founder called The Other, woven together from his genetic material. This is more obvious when one watches the deleted scenes; Seven makes a few more grandiose statements, including the idea that he is "far more than just another Time Lord." Seven overall is much more manipulative and scheming, this being the first of his many schemes and plans. He also keeps his ascerbic wit from the previous season, and this combined with the great scipt makes a perfect whole.
Daleks climb stairs for the first time.
     Not to say that it's all brilliance and wit. The very nature of the serial means that at times the Doctor's dialogue feels clunky and expositional, especially when he takes the time out to explain the Daleks' entire backstory as well as explaining his incredibly detailed plans. There's also the random inclusion of Davros at the end, who, while the inspiration for one of Seven's best speeches ("Unlimited Rice Pudding!"), does seem incredibly tacked-on and unnecessary.
     Remembrance of the Daleks is damn-awesome, a great final swan-song for the Daleks regardless of whether or not it intended to be one. It contains some of the Daleks and Ace's finest moments, and begins the final run of the series in good style. It is, in every sense, a complete Classic. The Daleks wouldn't appear on television again for another 17 years, and this was as good a way as any to say goodbye.

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: Maggie Maggie Maggie in The Happiness Patrol.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Overview: Doctor Who Classic: Season 24

Doctor Who - Season 24
Written 10/6/12

How do I describe Season 24? I wanted to hate this series, I really did. Reviews where I say that I like things aren't entertaining to write or to read, and after having loved some of the "worst" Doctor Who in the Saward Era, I needed desperately for Sly to come through with some real clunkers. But I can't help myself; the simple fact was that despite all of the season's faults, it's really, really fun. It's fun because you know that the characters are having fun, because when it's good it's superb and where it's bad, it's so bad that you really don't care. I sat through these fourteen episodes wondering why the hell anyone would find them unpleasant. Like I did before, I'll be looking at characters.

Lifitng of the hat became a common character tic.
Seven (Sylvester McCoy) - Time and tide melts the snowman...
(All Season)

The writers couldn't decide what to do with Seven's characterisation. While Andrew Cartmel had the idea of the Doctor's manipulative streak, this took a long time to translate through - most of the writers were unaware of poor Colin's sacking, and so a lot of the scripts had been written with him in mind. What results is a Doctor with an incredible witty streak who now and then shows flashes of dark anger. This is most obvious in Seven's first story, Time and the Rani, which while excusable due to his regeneration presents an overtly silly and clownish Doctor who takes almost nothing seriously. And yet, I love it. Because Sylvester is still working the character, and it's fun to watch.
     The Doctor favoured by Cartmel starts to appear around Delta and the Bannerman, the first story that wasn't overtly written for Colin Baker, as a sort of cheery old uncle. The way he confronts the villain of the week, with such fervour - it seems almost uncomparable to the absurdist impression that we first see of the character as he pratfalls around Lakertya. And I like this guy - he's a fun Doctor, unlike his two JNT predecessors and yet still recognisably the hero. Season 24 won me over to Seven, and I'm glad that it did.

Like the 2012 Albanian Eurovision entry....
Mel (Bonnie Langford) - Surprisingly ok...
(All Season, leaves in Dragonfire)

In my last overview I may have said a few things that I now regret. Mel in Season 23 was unique - something that I hated! At last! I'd been waiting for so long, and finally the Saward Era delivered me a character whom I despised throughly. Now that she was the proper companion, however, I had none of that. Mel became a bit blander than I had expected, but with that it brought out Bonnie Langford's natural charm and turned the character into a positive influence on the series. That was what originally got me about Mel - after four seasons of snarky dysfunction with his companions, the Doctor finally met someone with whom he had a perfect friend.
     But the screams, oh god the screams. By Dragonfire it's just ridiculous how often and how painful those screams are. At least Terror of the Vervoids did a relatively clever thing and tuned the scream to the pre-credits sting - here it's just blatant, and happens in at least ten of the fourteen episodes. She's getting so little development (and, notably, absolutely no backstory) that this otherwise superficial element completely takes over her characterisation. Mel may be a pleasure on-screen, but as a character she fails absolutely.

Ok, maybe she inspired Lister's jacket, rather
than the other way round...
Ace (Sophie Aldred) - Outdated slang, Professor!
 (Dragonfire)

Ace, in the beginning, is naff. Dead naff. She may think she's ace. That she's wicked. But she's naff. And that's the biggest thing that detracts from Ace's initial characterisation - some of her superficial aspects seem to be a deliberate ploy by the production team to try to appeal to a younger audience that, at the time just didn't exist. However, Ace has one shining thing about her that differentiates her from the incumbent by several miles.
     She has a backstory! After Mel was introduced with three lines of Vervoids, it's such a relief to know that the Who scriptwriters had heard of this concept after the Hiatus shakeup, and despite the very vague nature of her Wizard of Oz-esque origin, she does get a few intimate moments that highlight the fact that she is a character - a character controlled carefully by Cartmel. Ace has the potential to become very good, and some of her lines and actions in this story show that perfectly. Onto the next eight serials!

Thanks.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Autumn and Nostalgia Filter

As a lot of you noticed, my Birthday saw Audenshaw Reviews metamorphose into Nostalgia Filter, everywhere.This is a change I've been waiting for for a while now, for the simple reason that I've left Audenshaw School (sort-of) and so the title will eventually become redundant. Nostalgia Filter is more of a general-purpose description of what we do here, although it refers more to creating said filter than actually experiencing it, seeing as I wasn't around to see the vast majority of what I review. Regardless, this new branding will allow me to continue beyond my high-school and not feel so silly.
     Further, as of this post, I've given the blog it's now-annual lick of paint for Autumn. So what if it's not Autumn yet - it's damn-near close. Today is GCSE Results Day, and I'm getting prepared to enter Sixth Form. What does this mean for Nostalagia Filter? Well, live reviews are going to be a tad more difficult because of the larger body of work, but I'll do my best to continue to review all of the great shows coming up this Autumn, beginning with Doctor Who Season 33 starting on September 1st. I hope you'll enjoy reading as much as I do writing.

Thanks.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Review: GHTTB: Ashes To Ashes 2.5

Ashes To Ashes - Series Two, Episode Five

After a relatively different first half of the series, we take a sojurn back to the style of Life On Mars, albeit wth a touch of this new, more politically focussed angle. While it had a few of the issues that Ashes To Ashes always has in its attempt to blend the Coma World with the Real World, the focus on the Operation Rose line made the episode that much more powerful, as well as some great character work for Ray.
     While Gene is trying to get the papers off of the corruption case, Alex is there to witness the deafening of her future father-in-law, Brian Drake, in a mugging. After being a complete and total psychopath towards her currently-14 future husband Peter Drake, she exercises her interest with the family by trying to find the mugger. Gene is disinterested, and Ray intends to join the Army, but their interest is peaked when the DNA comes back as George Stains - a criminal who's supposedly been dead for two years. Gene is put under pressure to make an arrest (with the appropriate Bowie/Queen soundtrack). Their only lead, Metal Mickey, is refusing to talk, so Alex goes to Ray, who explains to her that the outing of Mac as a bent copper has shaken his belief in policing. Ray makes Mickey talk.
     Following the fact that Stains went to Spain, they interrogate the Drakes' neighbour Gayna, who had a Spanish boyfriend. A man calling himself "Boris Johnson" leaves Alex a note to meet in Luigi's. That night he stands her up, leaving a note. Instead, Martin Summers (Adrian Dunbar) arrives late at night in CID. Summers reveals that he too is from 2008, and implies that Alex's only way out of this world is to part of the corrupt Operation Rose. George's mother inadvertantly reveals Gayna's part in the preceedings. She helps to organise a meeting with George, but she's been found to have been assaulted. After a visit to the house, Alex uncovers that it was Pete who stole the money. When they visit Gayna Mason in hospital, they find, to their surprise, that she is George Stains, who had a sex-change to escape the law. She explains that it was Pete who assaulted her that night, taking back the things she had stolen. In the end, Gene doesn't get his big headline, because he doesn't have the heart to tell George's mother.
Gayna... née George.
     As we know, this is an Alex meets Old Family episode. When Sam met his 2006 relatives in 1973, he did so with grace and light concern, but rarely let it crowd his judgement after the events of his abandonment. When Alex meets a her 2008 relatives, she does so with the subtlety of an anvil. This is not a pleasant or logical experience. This really takes the biscuit; a mature, intellectual woman shouting profanities at a 14-year-old for things that he hasn't done. However, the episode did have some good bits; the monologue from Martin Summers was wonderful and Adrian Dunbar, finally seen after a month, does the job perfectly. Ray also got some much-needed character development regarding his disillusionment with policing.
     With the powerhouse of the Police Corruption storyline slowing down after Mac's death, 2.5 took a slight breather, but it never let up on the mystery and this is one of my favourite individual cases in this series, if only because of its sheer surprise value at the end. 2.5 wasn't as good as the past few weeks have been, but it was still some brilliantly and lovingly crafted entertainment that improved our characters.

Thanks.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Birthday!

It's that time of year again. I'm not doing anything special on the blog for my Birthday this year, but I thought it'd be nice to celebrate it here.

Thanks.

Oh, and I might have changed a few things here or there. Things are still in flux, though. 

Monday, 20 August 2012

Review: Doctor Who Classic: Dragonfire

The Doctor and friends.
Doctor Who - Season 24, Story Four - Dragonfire
Written 9/6/12

It makes me sad, really. I expected not to like this series, but it's been a total and utter riot. Dragonfire takes the program into its final stages, as we wave goodbye to dear old Mel (whom I've actually come to really like) and say hello to Sophie Aldred's Ace, a character whose eight serials allow her some of the best character development the Classic Series had to offer. Dragonfire confuses me as to whether it needed one episode more or one less, but I can say that it finishes the season on another standard Doctor Who adventure with the appropriate amount of random craziness.
     Following a distress signal, the Doctor and Mel arrive on Ice-World - an intergalactic shopping mall run by the tyrannical regime of Kane, who buys people as slaves and freezes them in his cryogenic palace. There they run into Sabalom Glitz (Tony Selby), the space conman from the The Doctor's Trial. At the same time, they meet Ace - a 1980s teenager who was whisked away to Ice-World by unknown forces and who has a thirst for adventure. Together they venture into the depths of Iceworld, and find that the legends of the Dragon and its fire are truer than they first believed. At the end of the story, Mel decides to leave and travel the Galaxy with Glitz, while The Doctor takes Ace under his wing as the next companion.
     Ace's introduction isn't the best, but it is remarkably better than Mel's was. The character's early attempts to appeal to the youth of the time consists of use of slang that was outdated even at the time - "ace", "wicked," "naff." At the time the audience consisted mostly of people who'd stuck it through and were watching Doctor Who because they were fans. The attempt to garner a younger audience didn't work, and it doesn't make sense when you compare it to the darker direction that the show was heading into. Luckily, she does get a few intimate moments that fully explain her backstory and characterisation, and her character is promising if nothing else.
     The other secondary characters are fun enough too. It's nice to see Sabalom again, and Tony Selby imbues the character with a great charm, despite the fact that he's not being written for by his creator Robert Holmes in account of his death the year before. The villain, Kane, is certainly the best villain since the Valeyard, but the character lacks the humanity that he could have exploited; instead we have a sad sob story about being expelled for his crimes and desperately trying to revive his mobster wife. It's vaguely reminiscent of Batman's Mr. Freeze - not a comparison I should really be making.
The famous "cliffhanger".
     The story's main claim to fame, of course, is the cliffhanger to the first episode, which takes the phrase to a stupidly literal conclusion. Traversing the ice caves, the Doctor finds a steep ledge with a convenient railing. For reasons that will never be explained, he decides that it would be a good idea to climb over and hang off the ledge, before soon realising that he's going to fall to his death. It screams more of the writer not knowing how to work with the 25 minute format than anything else, and it's downright embarrassing regardless.
     Dragonfire finishes the season off in the right direction. While some of its pacing issues may leave the viewer with a sour taste in the mouth, the characterisations and the story's great atmosphere make this final serial of the season one to watch. Despite how much I came to love Mel over the course of the series, I'm not as sad as the surprisingly touching departure wants me to be, for the sole reason that I know that the TARDIS is still in good hands for two seasons to come.

Thanks.

P.S. Writers, please take a course in astronomical science. Then you might realise that stars don't unexpectedly go 'nova without people realising what's going to happen beforehand.
NEXT WEEK: I revisit Remembrance of the Daleks!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Top Five Cases of Bad Doctor Who Science

Written between the 13th and 14th June 2012

Doctor Who is famous for its technobabble, and through thick and thin the series has maintained a rather loose grip on the major concepts of science. Here, lovingly written, are the top five worst instances of Scientific foul-ups in the series that I've spotted. After 48 years, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
  
Three... all lies!

5.) "Reverse the Polarity of the Neutron Flow" (Molecular Physics)

Ah, this most famous of lines. Spoken only once by the Third Doctor in his original run, it was nonetheless extrapolated as a catchphrase from his much more commonly said phrase, "reverse the polarity," which was a stand-in for any necessary technobabble. JNT would later bastardise this and go on to have it said quite a few more times in its full form, leading to its place here.
      What's so wrong with reversing the polarity of a neutron flow? Well, first we need to know what a neutron is. A neutron is a sub-atomic particle, one of two types of nucleons that compose the nucleus of an atom. While Protons and Electrons have electrical charges (positive and negative, respectively,) a neutron is neutral - it has 0 charge. So not only is there no reason to have a flow of neutrons (since it's not flowing from positive to negative or vice versa), but you cannot reverse it's polarity because it doesn't have one. Furthermore, neutrons are unstable outside of a nucleus, and so a flow of them wouldn't be very useful in the long-run as they undergo beta decay.
This Cyberman was trapped by Bad Science.

4.) Earthshock - Eric Saward (Physics, Paelentology and General WTFery)

Earthshock bears many hallmarks of bad science, simply in the scale of what it tries to do. We'll ignore the ending for now, and stop off first at a remarkable incident involving antimatter. The Doctor and Adric are trapped on the bridge of the Freighter, while the Cybermen are trying to cut in using what amounts to a powerful filament. The Doctor comes up with the idea of using the ship's anti-matter containment device to adjust the sheild structure around the door at the very moment the Cybermen break through, rendering the door unbreachable. He explains this by saying that anti-matter can only be kept inside a vessel with a perfect molecular structure, and the containment systems therefore have to change the structure of the outer walls to compensate for the antimatter. Despite it being a relatively simple concept, this ignore the primary fact about anti-matter - that regardless of how "perfect" your structure is, when matter and antimatter meet they will annihilate one another, and so the only way to keep them seperate is using electromagnetic fields.
      The episode's ending provides the most simple case of WTFery that I've ever seen in Doctor Who. For reasons as yet unexplained, the addition of a Cyberman battle computer to the Freighter's navigational systems pulls the ship back 65 million years, where it crashes into Earth and becomes the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. The Cybermen are not a time-travelling race, and so it's absolutely baffling that the ship travelled in time at all; it's one of the great WTFs of the Saward Era. But ignoring all that, it still has incredibly implications. The real asteroid formed the Chicxulub crater in modern Mexico, which is one of the largest craters on record and dates specifically back to the K-T Extinction event. However, as we heard before, the ship's engine was powered by antimatter. While one milligram would be enough to send you to Pluto and back, one would think that the amounts required by a cargo ship would be substantial enough to form a larger crater than the one that's there today.

Helium-2 surrounds Lakertya... and
breaks up into harmless Hydrogen,
floating off into space.

3.) Time and the Rani - Pip 'n' Jane Baker (Particle Physics and Chemistry)

I looked at this in my review of Time and the Rani, but it's still a biggie so I'm putting it here. This serial is an example of a plot that could have sounded as if it made perfect sense only if the writers had used different terminology. Instead, they talk about Strange Matter and Helium Three. Strange Matter, also known as Quark Matter, is a hypothesised form of matter composed entirely of quarks, subatomic particles that form composite particles like protons and neutrons. Strange Matter is believed to be formed at the heart of Neutron Stars, which are so dense that the neutrons the star is composed of are crushed past the point of the forces holding them together and thus becomes a liquid-esque soup of up, down and strange quarks. The word strange refers not only to the use of that flavour of quark, but also to the fact that unlike most quark matter, it is usually stable - if only at high pressures. In Time and the Rani, we just see a random asteroid made of the stuff floating through space, orbiting Lakertya.
     Further, The Rani wants to "detonate" it to form Helium-2. Helium-2 is an isotope of Helium that consists of two protons surrounded by four electrons. Because both protons are spinning in opposite directions, "Diprotons" are incredibly unstable and break into two Hydrogen atoms within a billionth of a second of the isotope's formation. Even if you could "detonate" strange matter - which is just silly - then you couldn't form Helium-2 with it because there are no electrons in the asteroid; it's composed entirely of quarks. And, most importantly, there is no way that mixing di-protons with any substance will allow you to control the fabric of space-time. No matter how entertaining it is.

This is what you get when you try to breed species with
different numbers of Chromosomes and then give the
result to a shitty design team.
2.) Evolution of the Daleks - Helen Raynor and The Lazarus Experiment - Steven Greenhorn (Genetics - and a bit of Physics)

These otherwise unrelated episodes come consecutively in Season 29, and both have some really weird ideas about Genetics. Evolution of the Daleks, by the title, is all about Genetic Manipulation; The Daleks want to create Dalek-Human hybrids in order to survive, as there are only four Daleks left in the Universe. They test this out by creating weirdy tentacle mutant man Sec and then change their minds by putting Dalek minds into human bodies while still claiming it's the same thing. Luckily, the Doctor fixes it all by clinging onto the power source as it's struck by lightning (or what the Daleks call "Gamma Rays", something completely different,) somehow transfering his DNA into the mixture and making the hybrids rebel against their Pepperpot masters.
     Human biology is governed by strings of DNA that are grouped into Chromosomes, strings of the acid that dictate different areas. Human cells have 46 chromosomes, and this plays a key part in our speciation. The definition of a species is a group of organisms who can only produce fertile offspring when mating with organisms within that group. Therefore, species need to be incredibly, incredibly close genetically to even come close to a successful hybrid; Lions and Tigers, which genetically are almost identical, still produce sterile offspring. You are not going to successfully continue your species by trying to mix the DNA of Dalek mutants with regular humans; it's not going to work. And then we see that somehow, one can pump Dalek DNA into a human and have it only affect their mind! This is called, and wait for it - brainwashing, and should involve no manipulation of DNA whatsoever. The major problem with the Daleks is that it's claimed that they're incapable of feeling any emotion except hatred because Davros pissed about with their DNA, and that just doesn't work, as it doesn't here. Even the episode makes this clear - the hybrid that is Dalek Sec should have the same DNA as the humanoid hybrids, and yet he's a mad tentacle face while the others are fine and dandy.
     The biggest point of contention is most defnintely the Doctor's solution to the problem. Firstly, the Daleks go on about how their DNA splicing machine needs Gamma Radiation to work. Gamma Radiation is a form of light, like x-rays and infra-red. It is completely and totally different from what the episode shows it to be, which is LIGHTNING. And then, The Doctor clinging onto the lightning rod is enough to transfer his DNA down the rod and into the hybrids. So not only are you transfering DNA via a lightning strike into the power source of a machine meant to run on Gamma Radiation, and then having that DNA end up in the hybrids, you're mixing 46 chromosomed Human DNA with god-knows-how-many chromosomed Dalek DNA, you're also splicing in triple-helixed Time Lord DNA? And this works? Bull. Shit.
Remember that stage in Human evolution where we were
spiny monsters with scorpion tails and dislocatable jaws?
     Steven Greenhorn's Lazarus Experiment picks up where Evolution of the Daleks left off, with scientist Richard Lazarus creating a machine that uses energy to manipulate DNA and make the user younger - a machine that goes dreadfully wrong when it turns out that his DNA is fluctuating and making him mutate into a reptilian creature formed from "traits hidden deep in his DNA from the past". So first of all, Aging and DNA have a very, very tenuous link at best. Scientists believe that aging is the result of the binding chemicals that hold DNA strands together being lost when cells are reproduced; cells therefore become less efficient at certain things until there is no chemical left and the organism dies. While it may be possible in the future to reproduce this binding molecule and halt aging on a small scale, bunging someone into a machine and throwing electromagnetic radiation at them will do nothing of the sort.
      The Lazarus mutant is a complete and total debauchery of science. The claim made in the episode makes reference to Atavism, or evolutionary throwback. In reality, this is when animals develop features early on in their development that disappeared from previous generations. Usually these features disappear, like the tail on a human foetus or the hind-legs on a whale embryo, but when they last into adulthood it's considered Atavism. This can only happen with traits that once existed in said species, and so, fluctuating DNA or no, you cannot use Atavism to explain a giant scorpion-esque monster that sucks "life energy" from people. I'm stopping here before I get to Dobby and the Archangel Network, but suffice to say that Season 29 isn't very good at this.

A real example of Entropy. The ice is colder
than the liquid surrounding it. It warms up and
the liquid gets colder, until the ice has melted
and the two are in the same energy state.

1.) Logopolis/Castrovalva - Chris Bidmead (Multiple areas of Physics)

When I first reviewed these two Bidmead-written stories, I was awed by the amount of shoddy science coming from a writer whose primary occupation was in writing scientific journals. Logopolis and Castrovalva together are an absolute nightmare; a world in which the most basic laws of science are totally and completely obliterated. Granted that I like these stories for this very reason, but it's just silly.
      Let's start with Logopolis. The endpiece on a series whose theme was entropy, the serial treats entropy in very silly ways. The big deal with Logopolis is that the planet keeps the Universe alive by filtering Entropy through wormholes into other Universes. Once The Master shuts it down, entropy starts to spread throughout the Universe like a wave, destroying many planets and stars including Nyssa's home planet of Traken. This is as similar to real entropy as water is to air. Entropy is the result of the Second Law Of Thermodynamics, which states that in a closed system (one where energy cannot enter or leave), then everything will eventually balance out to the same energy level. This can be seen when ice-cubes are placed in a glass of water; the icecubes melt and the water gets colder; both are now in the same state. As presented in Logopolis, Entropy behaves more like a wave of destructive energy, sweeping through the cosmos and reducing things to dust before our heroes' eyes.
     The serial's other big sciencey thing is the use of recursion, foreshadowing Castrovalva. In this case, The Doctor's TARDIS materialises around the Masters', which itself has materialised around a normal police box. The Doctor and Adric walk through about five police boxes before randomly popping out of the back of the first TARDIS. It's such a shame that this otherwise interesting concept gets fobbed off due to time, and thus raises quite a few questions; why were there more than three police boxes in total? Where did the extra TARDISes come from, and how the hell did Four manage to get to the outside?
     The bullshittery comes on much faster and harder in the following serial, Castrovalva. From the off we have The TARDIS heading off on a random course, and Nyssa claiming that they have a high chance of hitting something because "the star density is high in this galaxy." As a rule, no. To quote Douglas Adams, Space is big. If Jupiter was the size of a marble, the dwarf-planet Pluto would be a metre away and would be the size of a single Hydrogen atom. The Universe is mostly empty space, and you'd have massively bad luck if you came into even remote contact with any matter at all. And speaking of Hydrogen, that brings me to the first episode's cliffhanger. The TARDIS is pulled towards "Event One," aka the Big Bang. This is a tenet of basic cosmology, and thus the serial gets it wrong. Event One, the creation of the "Galaxy" (read: Universe) because of the "Hydrogen in-rush". In reality, the Big Bang was the expansion of a singularity with infinite density and infinite mass, and thus if the TARDIS was travelling towards it it would have no chance of escape, like a body beyond the event horizon of a black hole.
The scale of the Earth and the Moon.
     Other things are niggling me too. The Doctor's Zero Cabinet is claimed to be "bonded by Strong-force interactions". Now without a knowledge of particle physics, this seems elementary - it's a strong force, after all. But this statement makes reference to the Strong Force, one of the four elementary forces (along with the Weak Interaction, electromagnetism and gravitation). The Strong Interaction is the force that holds together quarks to make particles like Protons and Neutrons, and then holds them together to make nucleii; atoms themselves are strong-force-neutral. Therefore, you cannot bond pieces of bloody wood together with it. And despite having a bonding structure that keeps out sub-atomic particles, this zero room seems in awfully bad shape; just as Nyssa has finished expositing about how it keeps out all exterior energy, they get a projection from outside the TARDIS. Because you know, consistency.

Doctor Who is bloody wonderful, and despite its mistakes it's still one of the most entertaining things on TV. It's worth considering as we leave this list that Doctor Who is at heart a tale about a semi-immortal yet humanoid alien who travels in time and space in a blue box that's bigger on the inside. And, at the end of the day, it's just a TV show.

Thanks.