Opinion: Why the Doctor is not the core of Doctor Who

William HartnellWith Doctor Who returning to our screens shortly and the question “Doctor Who?” hanging over current storylines, Swithun Dobson considers Time Lords, TARDISes, and Time Travel to ask: what is the essence of the show?

Contrary to popular conceptions, at its core it’s not even about the Doctor. If we travel back to 1963 we do of course meet the TARDIS and the Doctor but we soon realise that they are the frame in which the story is hanged. Ostensibly most of the first two seasons revolve around the TARDIS team trying to get Ian and Barbara home to 1960s London after being kidnapped by the Doctor for rumbling his affairs, so why take a roundabout route visiting Kublai Khan, Robespierre and the Sensorites?

Interestingly, from the modern Who perspective, none of the early serials focus on the character of the Doctor. The earliest story is The Tenth Planet but that just establishes that he can rejuvenate; the whole mythos of regeneration comes a lot later. Even The Deadly Assassin which establishes the 12 regeneration limit really focuses on the Master trying to cheat death.
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Visual Memory #5 – ‘Discworld’

In this month’s column, Christopher Bell revisits another comedy classic…

I’ll start with a quick question: What do Doctor Who, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Gavin & Stacy have in common (apart from the fact that they’re all well-known British TV shows)? The answer is that some of their stars (Jon Pertwee, Eric Idle and Rob Brydon) lent their voices to this point-and-click adventure based upon Terry Pratchett’s best-selling series of comic fantasy novels.

The game’s story is loosely based on two of the most popular books, Guards! Guards! and Moving Pictures, requiring players to fill the billowing robes of Unseen University’s most inept wizard (or should that be wizzard?), Rincewind, voiced by Eric Idle. A shady sect of hooded villains has managed to summon a dragon into the streets of Ankh-Morpork, and it’s running amok. The fate of the city now rests upon Rincewind’s shaky shoulders (because no-one else wanted to fry), forcing him to rely on his wits and sarcasm. Oh, and a piece of luggage with feet.

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Random Encounter #4 – Why Video Game Movies Are a Stupid Idea

Cap’n Tightpants IS Nathan Drake. Almost.

Video game movies have a terrible track record but, as the games get more cinematic, the movies should get better, right? Olivia Cottrell doesn’t think so…

As a fan of video games, I’m often asked if I’ve seen any of their big screen adaptations – the Tekken or Street Fighter movies, for example, or the truly, truly awful Doom movie (I did watch it but, for my own protection, my brain has blanked most of the memories out). People also tend to assume I’m excited by the prospect of a Mass Effect movie, or disappointed that the film based on the Uncharted franchise floundered and died.

The truth is, I’m glad when these movies never see the light of day. Not just because the adaptations seem to be universally bad, but because they play to the assumption that film is a higher form of entertainment. True, films are more mainstream than video games (but not, I’d argue, for much longer, thanks to Facebook-based casual gaming and the rise of the Wii as a family console) but there’s no reason why a film should perceived to be a more valuable or significant cultural property than a video game.

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Visual Memory #2 – ‘God Hand’

Welcome to the latest Visual Memory, the monthly column exploring classic video games on extinct systems. This month, Christopher Bell thinks it’s time to re-assess a stone cold turkey…

In a market saturated by cookie-cutter first person shooters and awful movie tie-ins, it’s great to see a games company try something different. And while God Hand is remembered as the game that killed Clover Studios (the people behind the rather beautiful Okami), it did at least turn heads. Poisonous chihuahuas, a demonic Elvis, the ability to spank your female opponents…  I couldn’t make any of this up if I tried!

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Random Encounter #1 – Girls, Guns ‘n’ Games

Welcome to the very first edition of Random Encounter. Running as a counterpoint to our retro games column Visual Memory, this new monthly feature tackles the issues facing gamers in the here-and-now. Podcaster, reviewer and hardcore gamer Olivia Cottrell kicks things off with a matter very close to her heart…

All the Mass Effect news lately – especially the trailer featuring the female version of Commander Shepard – has gotten me thinking about the first game in the series. Mass Effect introduced me to gaming as a hobby (some might say an obsession), but why did I latch on to that particular game when I had played others before it and have enjoyed others since? What made Bioware’s space opera so special? Which buttons did it press that others didn’t?

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Visual Memory #1 – ‘The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap’

The Legend of Zelda celebrates its 26th anniversary next week but Christopher Bell is looking back, not forward, in the first edition of Visual Memory – a brand new monthly column exploring classic games on extinct systems…

Legend has it that the kingdom of Hyrule is protected from an ancient darkness by the Picori Blade, a sacred sword entrusted to the royal family by the Minish – a race of Borrower-sized folk who can only be seen by children. Every century, the people of Hyrule celebrate their victory over the forces of evil by holding a royal tournament, at which the winner is allowed to touch the sacred blade. It just so happens that this year’s winner is an evil sorcerer by the name of Vaati, who shatters the sword, unleashing a tide of monsters on the land. To make matters worse, he turns the young princess Zelda to stone. It’s up to her young friend Link to track down the mysterious Minish, re-forge the Picori Blade and restore the princess…


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