I have to admit, this is still the proper title sequence/theme tune to me. The one that instantly makes me think OMGDoctorWho'sonyayayayayay on an entirely subconscious level.
Thing I love about Curse of Fenric #1: It has Communist Russians in it and they're basically the good guys.
Ace has just been complaining that one does not simply stroll into top secret naval camps. Except, of course, if you're the Doctor, and long practised at walking around like you own the place -- these late-arriving guys with guns only detain them a second. (It is, of course, deliberate setting up of the idea that they're planning to let the Russians in to steal the booby-trapped computer.) Ace is still carrying her '80s jacket, so she's not doing that well on the blending-in front.
Watch out, she's a vampire! Actually, in this case, despite almost all the guest cast getting turned into Haemovores, Nurse Crane just gets killed in episode four. In the book she's a Russian spy, though.
This is why Seven is better than you. (Incidentally, Judson clearly realises exactly what he's done a minute later, but doesn't care.)
"Ace, bunkbeds! Bags I go on top." It's a very good thing I don't ship them.
Monster POV FTW!
Revd Wainwright's sermons were always popular in the local community because they were only a minute long, with no hesitation, deviation or repetition.
Ace's girlfriends of the week! (They haven't spoken a word yet and look how they're eyeing each other up. I mean, really.)
Everyone claims Ghost Light needs multiple viewings to make sense, but it's actually Fenric that I had trouble following first time round. This cutaway to Millington makes very little sense until you understand his "get into the mind of the enemy" thing. (More generally, knowing who's a wolf helps.)
Ace knows enough history to know the Russians are on our side. Though she does initially think that's Greek writing.
And just to add to the subtle symbolism, this is at "Maidens' Point". "Anyway it's dangerous, look!" But of course the real reason she's not going into the water is because the Doctor's told her not to. She trusts him that much. It's lovely.
Judson wants to use his shiny new booby-trapped computer to translate the runes, but Wainwright's granddad already did it ages ago, which I'm sure is trying to say something about people blinding themselves to ancient knowledge or something. There's a lot in this story of having voiceover over montages of other things going on, which I think is mainly to do with papering over the edits when they cut it down, but it works really nicely (it's like in comics when the last balloon of one scene becomes a voiceover-y thing on the beginning of the next).
Fake nylons! (I was teaching nylon the other day; I should totally have shown them this to demonstrate how it was in short supply in the war because it was needed for military stuff.)
They're having a silly moment with each other after Ace has implied they're using personal stereos. I don't ship them, incidentally. Not even slightly. McCoy's face here is great.
And just to prove there's weird timey-wimey stuff going on with Ace, her Mum has a Superted
Ace overreacts quite a lot to the fact that the baby has her Mum's name.
"Dreadful man," says the Doctor, and that's it for the Nazis in this story. It's great, they finally do a WWII story and they stay well away from having the Nazis in it. Hitler's portrait on Millington's wall is as much influence as he gets. It's really all about Fimbulwinter and faith and communism and chess.
This is quite a lame cliffhanger, when you know the Russians are the good guys. Of course, the actual final shot of the episode is a zoom on the Doctor's face, per JNT's notorious decree.
I think this is a really nifty effect, actually.
Millington/Judson is of course pretty much canon (I didn't cap the Doctor looking at their old school photo last ep, but it always reminds me of that Avengers line about the old school tie). Judson protests that they ought to be cracking Nazi cyphers, but Millington is all obsessed with his personal armageddon. Millington isn't very good at being insistent, unfortunately. He's very good at scary-quiet but no good at scary-loud, so his "Use it!" here comes out rather weak.
This is Ace getting frustrated as the Doctor keeps going "And ...?" after all the clever things she deduces about the new runes. He eventually has to point out they weren't here this morning. The Cartmel era was very good at doing Doctor/companion exposition right.
The Doctor is searching so hard for the secret passage he doesn't realise it's opened behind him. Ace's increasingly insistent "Professor"s to which he replies "Ace" are hilarious.
And this is the scene where he stops being Nicholas Parsons. Here he's reading the faith hope and charity bit from Corinthians and it's obvious he's having Issues. It's actually a fucking good performance.
These Russians must have ninja skills, given how easily they overcome the British soldiers. I suppose they are a special forces black ops mission vs a bunch of conscripts, so maybe I can believe it.
And the secret British chemical weapons project, which is also the Well of Thingy the Great Serpent from Norse mythology. There's so much going on in this story and yet it all fits together wonderfully in the end. That's another thing I love about the Cartmel era, is that it works on so many levels.
That's my Doctor, that is.
Look at their faces! This is their reaction to Millington's insistence on "no girls" (more oh-so-subtle gayness evidence).
Wainwright used to have hope in the future but the War has taken it away. Ace says, "The future's not so bad, have faith in me." I do love Wainwright.
I'm sure Freud would have something to say about Millington after seeing this.
Millington eulogises about how he can end the war by killing all the chickens in Germany, or something. The Doctor is horrified even at the death of these poor creatures, yet he knows several people are going to have to die for his plan to succeed. Another reason why Seven is better than you.
The Doctor challenges the soldier about Millington's order to confiscate all the chess sets.
And here's some unintentional foreshadowing of the new series:
"Do you have any family yourself?"
"I don't know."
"Oh, I'm sorry; it's the War, isn't it? It must be terrible not knowing."
"Everyone wants to come into the water."
The water = sex, just in case that wasn't clear enough. And the Haemovores are STDs, presumably.
Ace realises the inscriptions are a logic diagram (WTF? oh never mind) and tells Judson. It's great, the foreshadowing of the ending with a smaller version of Ace-gives-the-game-away here.
But she's so pleased with herself about it. "And the half-time score: Perivale 600 million, rest of the universe nil."
Miss Hardaker never went into the water.
This is fantastic storytelling. FANTASTIC. Establishing the whole "repelled by faith, not holy objects" thing in this way, and clarifying Wainwright's problems with his faith and stuff. Thematic depth and action adventure and horror all at once. Oh, I just love it.
And then the Doctor and Ace save the day. Jean tells Ace, "You should have come into the water with us, then we'd have been together."
This is the moment where Ace realises what she's done telling Judson, and the Doctor knows too as soon as she says "oh no". Great stuff. Classic Cartmel era not talking down to the viewer. I love it.
Our first sight of the Haemovores. (I love that two of them are Sylv's sons.) This would have been a perfect cliffhanger, but thanks to JNT we have to have an underdelivered "You're too late, Doctor" from Millington and a zoom on the Doc's face.
Perkins following Millington's order to disable the radio transmitters. It explodes before he hits it! It's magic!
What? I'm NOT SHIPPING THEM.
"What about my chains?" "That was over twenty years ago; why must you remind me?" It's like Tim and Mike up in the tree in Spaced.
Sorin saves Ace from a couple of Haemovores at the church.
This is my favouritest ever scene of all in this story. As they lose the fight to keep the Haemovores out, the Doctor tells Wainwright to have faith, and that's when he realises he can sort it out BY REMEMBERING HIS COMPANIONS. (You can read his lips and see he's saying the names of One's companions and somewhere on the DVD I think there's a thing of it where you can hear it. Unfortunately he only gets as far as Steven so we don't find out if he considers Katarina and Sara Kingdom proper companions or not.) The force of his faith in them is enough to drive the Haemovores out of the church completely. Which makes me melt. (It also provides important context for "I believe in her" in Satan Pit.)
The Doctor asks Sorin if he believes in the revolution whole-heartedly, and Sorin says he'll get his answer by seeing if he survives. It's wonderful. I can see why people who are invested in various belief systems don't like it, but as a left-wing atheist who simultaneously distrusts and admires idealistic belief I LOVE IT TO DEATH.
Sorin cements his doomed boyfriend of the week status.
Obligatory nitro-9 moment.
And the obligatory explosions-are-better-than-sex moment shortly afterwards.
He's actually saying "I'll talk to you later" in a Leela-style you-need-telling-off-for-using-weapons-w
And his faith in the revolution is sufficient, after all.
Jean and Phyllis on their way to see Rocky Horror for the hundredth time.
Kathleen's just had the news that Ace's granddad's died. Ace obviously knows nothing of her family history -- not even her Mum's maiden name (but then she does come from the days before Internet banking) -- or she'd definitely have cottonned on by now.
This is the Doctor looking unhappy as Ace tells him off for withholding information from everybody. This is the sort of thing Ten needs more of and I was hoping we were going to get after Gridlock. Pls don't fall in unconditional love with him, Donna. Anyway, Seven does relent and explain a little bit about Evil from The Dawn of Time in what I think is actually a very nice speech. Back in those days, "Evil from the Dawn of Time" was meaningful, rather than just "these ones aren't just misguided, honest".
The infamous "Professor, I'm not a little girl" line.
And the infamous seducing-the-guard scene following from it. It's not nearly as bad as people say, but the guard somehow gets too involved in the weirdy mystical side of it too quickly.
The Doctor has reignited Wainwright's face in the existence of good in the universe. Yay. Doesn't last though, because he doesn't believe in himself.
"We play the contest again, Time Lord". One of the bestest uses of "Time Lord" until Jabe in tEotW. And they still flick back to the Doctor's reaction shot before the end of the episode. Silly JNT. (It's not there in the recap in ep 4, you know.)
It really feels like everything's going to hell in a handcart here. But she does seem to spend a lot of time just standing there waiting for the plot to get back to her.
And again here, with the firing squad, hell in a handcart. This whole story has a lovely sense of building menace.
Sound of Drums, anyone?
Not. Shipping. Them.
He gives her his little badge, having noticed that she has one on her jacket. Aww, yay.
Of course, female sexuality is Teh Scary. I think it's unintentional but it's definitely there. (There have been plenty opportunities to make this point with Phyllis and Jean but this is the clearest example.)
Nice back-reference to Ghost Light here, as Ace explains why she doesn't like dark buildings.
Ace tells the baby she will always love it. It feels a little bit forced in terms of character development that she falls for it so deeply so quickly, but it's a small sacrifice to make for the angst later. The time paradox set up is possibly a little too pat, but they're always hard.
And that, that is my Doctor in spades.
The line is "The pawns are fighting together now", but "shagging" seems nearer the mark based on the looks they keep giving each other.
Oh noes! Sorin's been possessed by Fenric. And Ace has given the game away. The Doctor comes in in a moment and we get our "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace" moment for this story.
Sorin explains the plot to Ace. He has a wonderful gloatingly evil smile on his face there.
Right, so, left-to-right we have: Ace's doomed boyfriend of the week, who has been possessed by Evil From The Dawn Of Time; Ace, who has just discovered she saved the mother she hated as a child but loves as a baby and created her own past; and the Ancient One, the first of the Haemovores (who evolved in the polluted Earth of the future but was brought to the past by Fenric's time powers just like Ace was whisked to Iceworld), with whom the Doctor has made a secret deal to kill Fenric (the amount of stuff I haven't capped because it's not Ace-centric is shocking; there's not a single shot of the Ultima machine anywhere in here). But Ace's belief in the Doctor is stopping the Ancient One from getting to Fenric.
And so he has to make her lose her faith in him. This is gut-wrenching to watch, every single time, even though I know it's all going to be OK in the end. I remember being really shocked the first time. And the worst of it is that Ace's faith in him is so strong that he has to keep finding new horrible things to say about her to finally break it. Let's face it, RTD'd never do this in a month of Sundays.
This is the Doctor being all upset about having to hurt her.
If I did ship them (but I don't), it would be all about the nose-porn.
It's safe to
In conclusion: Seven and Ace are better than you.