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Spoilers and Surprises at Continuum 9: Contraindicators

Splendid Chaps is a year-long celebration of Doctor Who‘s fiftieth anniversary: eleven live performances recorded as podcasts in which your brains will be fed, your funny bones tickled, and your hearts opened (yes, both of them!).

Well…we say eleven. We’re recording a special edition of the Splendid Chaps podcast as part of Continuum 9: Contraindicators, the ninth annual Melbourne speculative fiction and pop culture fan convention, all about spoilers and surprises in Doctor Who!

From leaked torrents to give-away titles, from shock deaths to surprise guests, Who has done it all. So do spoilers ruin everything? Are cliffhangers an integral part of the show? And just how important is plot, anyway? Joining John, Ben and Petra for this episode are author George Ivanoff (the Gamers seriesLife, Death and Detention) and author and podcaster Kirstyn McDermott (Madigan Mine, PerfectionsCaution: Contains Small PartsThe Writer and the Critic). Plus we’ll have prizes, loveliness and a special performance!

As this episode won’t include a break, we won’t have time to get audience questions at the recording – so we’d like to hear from you now! What are your favourite cliffhangers in Who? Do you avoid spoilers? Are the teasers for upcoming episodes too much? Should titles ending in of the Daleks be banned? Is surprise really important to plot? Let us know below, on Facebook or on Twitter! If you are attending the con, you’ll also have a chance to write down questions before we begin.

Space: Earth/Fire rooms, ether, lower level 265 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
Time: Sunday, June 8, 4:30 to 6 PM
Accessibility: This venue is wheelchair accessible.
Tickets: This event is part of the Continuum 9: Contraindicators fan convention. You will require a convention membership to attend.
Bookings: day and weekend memberships are available at continuum.org.au; you can also become a member at the door, though note this is more expensive.
Podcast: not yet available; release date TBC.

The Six/Clothes viewing (and listening) list

As revealed at the recording of our last live episode, Five/Fear, here is your homework viewing for Six/Clothes, which will be recorded on June 15th at Agent 284 in Melbourne (full show details can be found here).

If the Sixth Doctor is new to you, we recommend the following three television stories to see him in his prime:

  • Revelation of the Daleks
  • Vengeance on Varos
  • The Mysterious Planet (aka Trial of a Time Lord episodes 1-4) 

Fan wisdom, of course, suggests that Colin Baker really hits his stride off television – in his extraordinarily popular run of Big Finish audio adventures, where he has found a new legion of fans. We’d like to suggest a few of those, too:

  • The Holy Terror
  • The One Doctor
  • Jubilee
  • Doctor Who and The Pirates
  • Davros

And there’s some thought that the Sixth Doctor’s greatest adventure is actually in print: the comic Voyager from 1984, collected and reprinted in 1989 and 2007.

We’re also exploring the wonderful world of clothes – costumes, fashion and design – and while it’s hard to really pick just a few stories, here’s what we’ve come up with as a sampler of the show’s rich history of sartorial elegance and variety in design:

  • The Chase (William Hartnell, 1965; six episodes)
  • Robots of Death (Tom Baker, 1977; four episodes)
  • The Talons of Weng-Chiang (Tom Baker, 1977; four episodes)
  • Black Orchid (Peter Davison, 1982; two episodes)
  • Gridlock (David Tennant, 2007; one episode)

We freely admit to including The Chase entirely for Barbara’s cardigan. We wanted something from the new series, but nothing particularly stood out to us that wasn’t just a more recent example of something from the classic series (e.g. historical costumes, space outfits etc.). So we picked Gridlock for its variety – the Cats, the occupants of the cars, etc.  We welcome your suggestions! (The End of the World is good for the same reasons, but we’re saving it for Nine.)

A few stories we’ve already listed as homework for previous episodes also fit this theme rather nicely, including Snakedance and Ghost Light. Can you think of any others? Share your suggestions in the comments below!

The Five/Fear viewing list

As revealed at the recording of our last live episode, Four/Comedy, here is your homework viewing for episode Five/Fear, which will be recorded on May 19th at The Public Bar in Melbourne (full show details can be found here).

If you’ve never experienced the Fifth Doctor, we think the following three stories will show him – and the style of his era – at their best:

  • Earthshock
  • Enlightenment
  • The Caves of Androzani

For “Fear”, we’ve decided that these stories and episodes cover the theme best:

  • Planet of the Spiders (Jon Pertwee, 1974; six episodes)
  • The Ark in Space (Tom Baker, 1975; four episodes)
  • Snakedance (Peter Davison, 1983; four episodes)
  • Ghost Light (Sylvester McCoy, 1989; three episodes)
  • Blink (David Tennant, 2007; one episode)

Some of these stories are terrifying, some are about facing or overcoming fear, and one probably isn’t all that frightening but keeps getting mentioned by our guests as the scary one they remember. With a history of being frightening, however, there are many other Doctor Who stories that fit this theme; if you’re keen, here’s Doctor Who TV’sTop 5 Scariest Doctor Who moments” from the classic series, and – as part of the promotion for the recent episode Hidethe nominations for “Spookiest Ever Doctor Who Story” over at the official BBC Doctor Who blog.

Have any other stories made you cower behind the sofa? Share your suggestions in the comments below!

The Four/Comedy viewing list

As revealed at the recording of our last live episode, Three/Family, here is your homework viewing for episode Four/Comedy!

In the unlikely event that you’ve never seen the Fourth Doctor in action, we suggest viewing the following three stories to get a good idea:

  • The Pyramids of Mars
  • The Talons of Weng-Chiang
  • Warrior’s Gate

That’s only a small sampling of his seven years, but we think it hits the best of all three periods of the Tom Baker era – something we’ll not doubt talk more about in the podcast itself.

You’ll find two more Baker stories (from his “middle period”) in our “Comedy” list – it’s no coincidence we picked this theme for him! We think you’ll have a good laugh with (and occasionally at) these stories:

  • The Romans (William Hartnell, 1964; four episodes)
  • City of Death (Tom Baker, 1979; four episodes)
  • Creature from the Pit (Tom Baker, 1979; four episodes)
  • Paradise Towers (Sylvester McCoy, 1987; four episodes)
  • Love & Monsters (David Tennant, 2006; one episode)

You might also like to watch The Gunfighters (we talked about it quite a bit in episode one), and for bonus points, the explicitly comedic specials like Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death and Time Crash. Plus there’s this handy list of “10 of the funniest Doctor Who moments” from BBC America’s Anglophenia blog.

Have any other stories made you giggle? Share your suggestions in the comments below!

The Three/Family viewing list

As revealed at the recording of our last live episode, Two/Evil, here is your homework viewing for episode Three/Family!

If you’re not familiar with the ways of the Third Doctor, we reckon the following three stories will give you a pretty good idea what he’s about:

  • Spearhead From Space
  • Carnival of Monsters
  • Death to the Daleks

There’s lots to choose from, of course, so feel free to watch as much as you can!

For the theme of “Family”, we suggest watching the following:

  • The Rescue (William Hartnell, 1964)
  • The Daemons (Jon Pertwee, 1971)
  • The Keeper of Traken (Tom Baker, 1981)
  • Father’s Day (Christopher Eccleston, 2005)
  • Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (Matt Smith, 2012)

As always, please feel free to share other suggestions in the comments below.

The One/Authority (retroactive) viewing list

Hi all! Only a couple of days to go before our first live show episode becomes available – and so we’re getting in just in time to give you a list of viewing for the First Doctor and the theme of Authority, as requested by a few people on our Facebook page. (We’re nothing if not responsive to your suggestions.)

For the First Doctor, we’d suggest the following three stories for a taste:

  • An Unearthly Child (though we won’t mind too much if you skip the last three episodes, aka “Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Cavemen!”)
  • The Time Meddler
  • The War Machines

As an extra post-recording bonus, you may also wish to watch the stories we most talk about: The AztecsThe Keys of Marinus, The Romans and The Gunfighters. Oh, and special extra credit for watching The Tenth Planet – though if you have a copy of that final episode, please do share it with the world, won’t you?

For the theme of “Authority”, our five picks are:

  • Day Of The Daleks (Jon Pertwee, 1972)
  • Genesis Of The Daleks (Tom Baker, 1975)
  • Snakedance (Peter Davison, 1983)
  • The Waters Of Mars (David Tennant, 2009)
  • The Pandorica Opens (Matt Smith, 2010)

Keeping these lists to just five is killing us, but really, we can’t ask you to watch more than that. Let us know what other stories you think fit the theme in the comments!

The Two/Evil viewing list

One of our audience members at One/Authority asked us if we could provide a viewing list before each podcast, so everyone could watch the stories and episodes we think are relevant. Despite the fact that this makes us the only podcast we’ve ever heard of that comes with homework, we thought this was a great idea, so we’re going to do it!

Before each podcast, as early as possible, we’ll give you a list of three stories or episodes we think form a good introduction to the next Doctor 1, and five stories or episodes we think are especially relevant to the upcoming theme.

For the Second Doctor…well, it’s rather depressing. Only six of Troughton’s stories (seven if you count the restored-with-animation Invasion) still exist in complete form, so there’s not much to choose from. Since “The Mighty Trought” 2 is a favourite with both of the chaps, we’d like to recommend you watch all that’s left, but unfortunately not all of the surviving stories are very good, so instead our top three picks are:

  • Tomb of the Cybermen
  • The Mind Robber
  • The Invasion

For extra credit, get through as much of The War Games as you can; yes, it’s far too long, but that’s a lot of Troughton you get to watch, and besides, it’s one of Ben’s favourites.

For the theme of “Evil”, we’ve selected the following stories and episodes:

  • The Mind of Evil (Jon Pertwee, 1971) – note that the colourised DVD release is still pending, so you may have to get hold of the old black and white VHS, the audio version (from Big Finish, with linking narration by Richard Franklin), or read the novelisation.
  • Kinda (Peter Davison, 1982)
  • The Curse of Fenric (Sylvester McCoy, 1989)
  • Boom Town (Christopher Eccleston, 2005)
  • The Beast Below (Matt Smith, 2010)

Notes:

  1. Before you ask: no, The Next Doctor probably won’t be on the list for Ten.
  2. Thanks to Dave Hoskin of Shooting the Poo for that nickname!

This podcast goes to Eleven…ish

The Brigadier said it best: “Splendid chaps. All of them.” 1 In that spirit, Ben McKenzie (Dungeon Crawl, ‘patron saint of geek comedy’ – T-Squat magazine), John Richards (creator/writer ABC’s Outland, Boxcutters podcast) and Petra Elliott hosted a year-long performance/podcast project in celebration of Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary. Each month from January to November 2013 they recorded a live Doctor Who panel discussion – one for each of the eleven Doctors – with a different theme, special guests, musical performances and loveliness. An edited version was released as a podcast on the 23rd of each month, plus a few extra episodes here and there.

It’s over now…but the moment had been prepared for! Check out our new audio project, the sci-fi comedy series Night Terrace! Currently raising funds via Kickstarter.

Notes:

  1. In fact, in The Five Doctors, the Brigadier says “Wonderful chap. All of them.” and later “Splendid fellows, all of you.” But this is the apocryphal version popular in fan culture, and like “Play it again, Sam” and “She canna take any more, cap’n”, we’re keeping it.