Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Ratings Game

(Just how insane is that image above...?).
No doubt you have read of the doom and gloom of the overnight viewing figures for The Magician's Apprentice, followed by what looks like a shocking 3.7 million UK viewers for The Witch's Familiar.
Well, fear not. Those of you who do reside in the UK, especially the south east corner, will know that the weather has taken an unseasonable turn for the better, so folk have been out and about the last two Saturdays. The first episode did not have Strictly to draw people to BBC1. I suspect a lot of people watched The X-Factor just to see why its ratings have also been so poor. The second episode was up against a live Rugby World Cup match featuring the host nation - England. (This Scotsman is still sniggering...).
The final figures are now in for the first episode. If you add the overnights to the catch-up figures, then factor in the BBC3 repeats, and finally consider the i-Player viewers, you get a total to date of 8.8 million. Perfectly acceptable. It makes the episode the 5th most-watched BBC show of the week - and there is another series of the incomprehensibly popular Bake Off show on at the moment, as well as a murder trial in Walford.
Not sure how much the feature-length repeat of the two Dalek / Davros / Missy episodes on Sunday will fare, as the weather was once again very good for the time of year.
We are also hearing of record viewing figures for BBC America and elsewhere.
Every year the papers prophesy the death of the Doctor. Overnight figures are simply meaningless in this day and age.
Doctor Who continues to have a massive following. We just don't do the Saturday evening event thing so much anymore.

TARDIS Travels No.34(b)

The last half season for Matt Smith, and the arrival of Clara. But first, there is another Christmas Special. As there is a lot of TARDIS travelling in the Anniversary story and 2013 Christmas Special, Smith's final journeys will have to wait for part (c).
Journey 663: Central Park, New York, 2012, to London, December 1892.
The Doctor has retired to Victorian London, the TARDIS parked on a cloud above one of the parks. It can be accessed by a ladder, which leads up to a spiral iron staircase. The Doctor is able to move the cloud to hover above the Latimer home.

Journey 664: London, 1892 - cloud to garden of Latimer home.
After Clara and the Ice Governess fall from the cloud, the Doctor materialises the ship around Clara's body.

Journey 665: London, 1892 - Latimer home - garden to study.
The Doctor takes the dying Clara into the house.

Journeys 666 & 667: London, 1892 - Latimer home to the Simeon Institute to Latimer home
The Doctor and Madam Vastra travel to the Institute to confront Simeon - and the Great Intelligence. Once they have been defeated, the TARDIS returns to Latimer's study. Jenna Coleman expires for the second time in the series.

Journey 668: London, 1892, to Cumbria, 1207.
After looking for Clara in a number of locations and times (including a playground near her home when she was a child - so presumably Blackpool - as seen in the episode's prequel), the Doctor hides himself away in a 13th Century monastery. Clara calls the TARDIS phone. We'll learn later that this is the work of the Missy / Master, to bring the two together. At the time of broadcast, most of us assumed it was River Song who was the woman in the computer shop.

Journey 669: Cumbria, 1207, to London, 2013.
The TARDIS materialises outside the house where Clara works as a child-minder. According to DWM, the address is specifically 30 Oak Street, Chiswick. The TARDIS will visit this address every Wednesday for the next few weeks. Somewhat irresponsible of the Doctor, considering that there is a woman living in this area whose head will explode if she remembers him. (Okay, so Donna might have moved away when she won the lottery - but this is by no means guaranteed. She may not have wanted to leave her friends, and may have simply moved to a bigger house in the district).

Journey 670: London 2013 - Chiswick to aircraft.
The TARDIS travels to a 747 to prevent it from crashing into Chiswick.

Journey 671: London, 2013 - aircraft to the South Bank.
The TARDIS has traveled in time as well as space - as it is suddenly day time. The first time we see that the Doctor has a classic motorbike in the ship.

Journey 672: London, 2013 - South Bank to Chiswick.
The ship returns to Oak Street.

Journeys 673 - 676: Chiswick, 2013 to Chiswick, 2013.
The Doctor starts to plot Clara's life, in order to find out what makes her so "impossible". We see him observe the first meeting of her parents, her kicking a football about, and then attending her mother's grave - before returning to Oak Street yet again in order to take her on another journey.

Journey 677: Chiswick, 2013, to Tiaanamat, date unknown.
Clara's first trip to an alien world sees her arrive in the market, which is part of the Rings of Akhaten. For the first time, the TARDIS demonstrates some sort of grudge against Clara - refusing to open its doors when she tries to shelter Merry, the Queen of Years.

Journeys 678 & 679: Tiaanamat, date unknown, to Chiswick 2013, then return to Chiswick, 2013.
The Doctor takes Clara home, then returns the following Wednesday for their next journey.

Journey 680: Chiswick, 2013, to Soviet Submarine, Arctic Sea, 1983.
The sub is called the Firebird, and it is close to the North Pole. The Doctor was supposed to be taking Clara to Vegas.

Journeys 681 & 682: North Pole, 1983, to South Pole, 1983, then to Chiswick, 2013.
The Hostile Action Displacement System activates when it looks as if the submarine is going to be destroyed. It relocates at the opposite end of the Earth. The story ends with the Doctor asking for a lift, but it is highly unlikely that the Firebird will have taken them south. The captain of a nuclear sub on an exercise in the middle of the Cold War would not have been able to wander off to the other Pole, and the sub has just suffered a considerable amount of damage (and loss of personnel). It would have limped into base, and the Doctor and Clara would probably have been put on a 'plane to make their journey.
Unseen, the Doctor will have then taken Clara back to Chiswick.

Journey 683: Chiswick, 2013, to Caliburn House, Yorkshire, 1974.
It is November 25th, to be specific. A rare instance of the Doctor arriving in England during the period when his earlier self was working for UNIT. Strange that the Third Doctor hadn't already become interested in this mystery, or Torchwood for that matter.

Journey 684: Caliburn House, 1974, to same location, millions of years ago.
To confirm a theory he has formulated, the Doctor takes the ship back to Earth's earliest days, and takes a photo.

Journey 685: Caliburn House location - millions of years in the past, to millions of years in the future.
The Doctor takes another snap.

Journey 686: Caliburn House location - far future to 1974.
Having gathered his evidence, the Doctor brings the ship back to the night of 25th November, 1974.

Journey 687: Caliburn House, 1974, to pocket universe, date unknown.
After the Doctor has gone to the pocket universe, Clara once again finds the TARDIS unwilling to co-operate with her. It uses an image of herself as an interface. She eventually persuades the reluctant ship to go and rescue the Doctor. He has to leap onto it as it hurtles past.

Journeys 688 & 689: Pocket universe, date unknown, to Caliburn House, 1974.
The TARDIS brings the Doctor and Clara back to the House, landing inside the building this time. When next seen, the following morning, the ship is back outside again.

Journeys 690 - 694: Caliburn House, 1974, to pocket universe, date unknown.
The TARDIS returns to the pocket universe in order to rescue the Crooked Man, so he can be reunited with his partner. Unseen, the Doctor will have relocated these creatures on some other world, as well as taken Hila Tacorian back to her own time - and returned Clara to Chiswick.

Journey 695: Chiswick, 2013, to unspecified region of space, date unknown.
The TARDIS is travelling through space, and the Doctor has allowed Clara to operate the controls by way of the pair of them getting on friendlier terms. It is in Basic Mode, which leaves the defences at a minimum.
At this point we should mention the mini-episode Clara and the TARDIS. In this we learn that the ship keeps hiding Clara's bedroom. The televised stories have all taken place over quite short time scales, with the Doctor making weekly visits to Chiswick. This suggests that there have a been a lot of other unseen journeys that have taken more than a day. We see about 20 Claras, from different nights.
This story sees the TARDIS disabled by a salvage device and brought aboard the vessel operated by the Van Baalen brothers.
Lots of TARDIS related stuff here. We see lots of corridors, as well as the library, an observatory, the engine rooms, the architectural configuration chamber, and the Eye of Harmony.
The library is a multi-leveled room. Some books are in liquid form, and are audible. There is a copy of A History of the Time War which reveals the Doctor's name. The Doctor has the telescope (really a light chamber) from Torchwood House, or a copy thereof. The architectural configuration system appears to be a large tree-like structure with glowing detachable pods. Tampering with these activates the ship's defences. It starts to move walls and doors around.
First mention since The Movie that TARDISes have an Eye of Harmony within them. The engines are housed in a large white void. The TARDIS can generate holographic images of various environments. The damage to the ship results in the appearance of "time zombies" - the Van Baalens and Clara from a potential future where they have been mutated by exposure to the Eye.
Time gets reset, so the adventure never takes place as we have seen it.
Journey 696 sees the Doctor take Clara back to Chiswick.

Journey 697: Chiswick, 2013, to Sweetville, Yorkshire, 1983.
The TARDIS travels oop north, where it's a bit grim.

Journey 698: Sweetville, 1893, to Chiswick, 2013.
Clara is taken back to Oak Street, where she is horrified to find that her journeys through history have left a trace on the internet - and young Artie and Angie have found her out.

Journey 699 - 701: Chiswick 2013, to same a week later - then on to Hedgewick's World, date unknown, then back to Chiswick 2013.
No doubt as a response to blackmail, Clara has the Doctor take Artie and Angie on a trip. They arrive on the now abandoned leisure complex on Hedgewick's World. Unfortunately, this is about to witness the birth of a new Cyberman army, before being blown to smithereens.
The TARDIS is teleported to the Emperor's flagship, along with the travelers. The kids are taken home afterwards.

Journey 702: Chiswick 2013 to same, one week later.
Clara has already taken part in a psychic conference with the Paternoster Gang and River Song. The Doctor turns up and is tricked by Artie into playing blind man's buff. Clara reveals the fact that the Doctor's secret has been discovered - the location of his grave.

Journey 703: Chiswick, 2013, to Trenzalore, date unknown.
The TARDIS refuses to land on the planet, materialising in orbit, so the Doctor forces it to crash land. This damages one of the glass panes on the doors.
We see the Doctor's final resting place - a vast TARDIS. This proves to be the ship itself, rather than some monumental copy. A dying TARDIS' dimensions can cause the exterior to become bigger than the interior. The central console has gone. In its place is the Doctor's tangled timeline.
The mystery of Clara is revealed, and we actually get to see what was the real TARDIS Travel Journey 001 - as the First Doctor and Susan steal the TARDIS from the repair yards on Gallifrey...

In their natural state, they are cylindrical. Slightly contradicting what Idris said in the previous season, it is Clara who guides the Doctor to the particular ship that will become his home, and ultimate companion.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

The Witch's Familiar - Review

Usual warning - do not read until you have seen the episode...
Well that was unusual. We've never had to wait until the end of an episode to see the resolution of the previous week's cliffhanger before.
First things first - the apparent deaths of Missy and Clara, and the destruction of the TARDIS. We never believed any of these things really happened (or if they had then there would be some timey-wimey solution).
Missy and Clara were simply spirited away by Vortex Manipulator, whilst the TARDIS HADS was deployed. What the "D" stands for has varied over the years. In this instance it stands for "Dispersal".
Missy and Clara end up in the wastes outside the Dalek city, and have to form a very uneasy alliance in order to break back in and find the Doctor. As suspected, the title of the episode refers to this.
Michelle Gomez was as brilliant as ever. Lots of fun to be had with a pointy stick. I laughed out loud when she pushed Clara into the Dalek sewer - despite seeing the gag coming a number of Rels before.
As mentioned, the pre-credit sequence does not cover the cliffhanger resolution. Instead we get reference to an unseen adventure for the Doctor, as told by Missy. She can't recall which Doctor, so there is a glimpse of the Fourth (was that a cameo by Jon Culshaw by any chance?), and the First, before we see the current incarnation facing 50 invisible android assassins - only to escape into a pit full of vampire monkeys.(I sooo want to see a story about vampire monkeys. Dear Mr Moffat...)

The Doctor, meanwhile, is still with the dying Davros. We know that the wily old Kaled is up to something, but I have to admit I got totally caught up in his sob story and felt genuinely sorry for him. Maybe Moffat really was going to kill the character off...
It was an exceptional performance from Julian Bleach. We discovered that Davros actually still has real eyes (which does beg the question - why has he never used them?). Bleach's performance was naturally enhanced by the fact that he could use those eyes, rather than just act through the prosthetics.
The Doctor - like me - gets caught up in his story and starts to feel sorry for him - even agreeing to help keep him alive to see one last sunrise on Skaro.
He is so taken in, that he volunteers to give up some of his regeneration energy. Bad move...

Missy and Clara meanwhile are in the sewers. Seems Daleks can be destroyed, but they cannot die of old age. The old 'uns get flushed down into these tunnels, and are still living and sentient to an extent.
We find out a whole lot about what makes a Dalek tick - physically and mentally - when Clara hides inside a casing. Once linked into its systems, the Dalek sometimes says what Clara says, but if she says something un-Dalek like, it comes out all wrong.
Apparently Davros is genetically linked to all the Daleks. When he dies, they do as well (at least as far as Davros says). This turns out to be Davros' big plan. He starts to drain the Doctor of his regeneration energy and it gets transferred to the Daleks.
This ties in with the mystery of why the Doctor originally left Gallifrey. Seems there is an old Time Lord prophesy about the creation of a Dalek / Time Lord hybrid - and the Doctor feared that it might be he. Again, this is all coming from Davros - so can't necessarily be trusted. Unfortunately, as far as the Time War is concerned, the Doctor has blabbed to Davros that Gallifrey has survived. Scope for a future major plot-line...
As usual, the Doctor has been clever. The energy hasn't just gone into the Daleks in the city, it has also gone to those abandoned mutants in the sewers - who have a bit of a grudge regarding how they have been treated...

It is only at the very end that we revisit the cliffhanger from The Magician's Apprentice. The Doctor was never going to shoot little Davros, so - as I suspected - he uses the Exterminator to blast the Handmines and clear a path for the boy to escape. In doing so, he plants the seed of "mercy", that will worm its way into the Daleks' DNA...

It has been a brilliant series opener in my opinion. (Both episodes are being repeated in a feature-length version on Sunday 27th, for UK viewers, as tonight's episode was up against an England Rugby World Cup match on ITV. England got beat. By the Welsh. Scotsman laughs silently to himself).
Lots to enjoy. The Doctor stealing Davros' chair and leaving him lying in the infirmary just one of the things that we will remember this story for. (Evidence at last that the scientist does not have a withered lower half. He only exists from the waist up).
No sign of the blue-faced alien who we saw in some photos taken during filming. Suggests that Missy will be in the finale as well. Maybe Daleks as well. When last seen, she was surrounded by Daleks, but was on the point of making some kind of deal with them.
You can always rely on Davros to get out of anything, so it's not the last of him we have seen either. (Sarff did appear to bite the dust. Hopefully not).
This story has referenced a few previous Dalek stories. One other to mention is Evil of the Daleks - as the Doctor and Clara stand and watch the Dalek city burn.
Next time - ghosts. Under water.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

In A Fix With "A Fix with Sontarans"

So, what are we to do these days with A Fix With Sontarans?
The DVD of The Two Doctors has this little item as an extra. This is one of the oldest of the DVD releases, and so would have been a good candidate for the Special Edition treatment had they continued to release these.
One thing I am certain of - this item would no longer have been included.
UK readers will be well aware that shortly after his death, allegations of child abuse started to circulate about the eccentric DJ and TV presenter Jimmy Saville. This has lead to a widespread investigation into a number of high profile media figures of the '70's and '80's.
A recent celebration of BBC Radio 1 entirely omitted Saville, despite him having been there right from day one, and being a regular Top of the Pops presenter for decades. When a clip of him slipped out in a repeat of old TOTP material, viewers wrote to the BBC to complain.
Long before this controversy, Saville presented a "make a wish" type series called Jim'll Fix It.
People could write in and ask to meet a celebrity, or do an activity, or some other bit of wish fulfillment. I recall one episode in which big screen Doctor Peter Cushing, near the end of his life, had a rose named after his late wife.
A young man named Gareth Jenkins wrote in asking to meet Colin Baker. His granny had made him a replica of the Sixth Doctor's costume. (Mental illness obviously ran deep in that family...).
Rather than just get to meet the current Doctor, JNT came up with a whole mini-episode for him to appear in - made after the series was already being "rested", but broadcast during Season 22.
Nicola Bryant was unavailable, so Janet Fielding stepped in to reprise Tegan. Gareth got to play a mini-Doctor (and apparently mastered the script better than the real one, who had to read some of his lines off of notes hidden around the TARDIS console).
The villains of the piece were the Sontarans. They were played by the same pair of actors who had been to Spain with Baker, Troughton, Bryant, Hines et al - Clinton Greyn and Tim Raynham.
There is a little adventure, set in the TARDIS console room, and at the end Jimmy Saville turns up to give young Gareth his badge. (Everyone got a "Jim Fixed It For Me" medallion on a red ribbon that was draped around their neck).
At the time, it was a harmless bit of fluff. Certainly not remotely canonical.
Something to be known about, but little else. A bit like Dimensions In Time, if you know what I mean.
Then came all the scandal.
Should it be simply wiped from our collective memories? Personally, I think not.
I don't like witch-hunts of any kind, and all the allegations about Saville emerged after he died - so he is not around to have ever defended himself. At the same time, I believe that there is rarely smoke without fire. On balance, I believe that much of what has been alleged is true.
A Stalinist airbrushing from history, or a Roman damnatio memoriae, is not the way to go forward.
Whether we like it or not, this mini-episode happened. Let's accept that, but also recognise that the person whose show it appeared in was a despicable person.
Simply brushing monsters under the carpet and pretending they never even existed isn't a positive thing in my view.
Tragically, there are some monsters even the Doctor can't stop.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Story 140 - The Two Doctors

In which the Doctor - in his second incarnation - travels with Jamie to the Camera space research station in the Third Zone. They are on a mission for the Time Lords - the Doctor tasked with trying to dissuade the station's head of research, Dastari, from proceeding with time travel experiments. Scientists Kartz and Reimer have built a prototype time capsule. The Doctor has the TARDIS relocate away from the station by remote control. Dastari refuses to bow to pressure from the Time Lords. A short while later, the station comes under attack by Sontaran warships. Jamie flees into the infrastructure but the Doctor is captured. The Sontarans are in league with Dastari and one of the Androgum servitors who work on the station. She is Chessene, and she has been genetically augmented by Dastari. She is brilliant, but ruthless. She is always accompanied by a sadistic Androgum named Shockeye. He is a chef, who craves new food experiences. He would like to find out what a human tastes like.
The assault on his earlier incarnation is experienced by the Sixth Doctor, who is on a fishing trip with Peri. The Doctor believes that it is possible for his previous self to die - the intervening lives would simply fade away. Peri prompts him to take some action, rather than wait fir his fate to catch up with him. They travel to the Camera station. The computer defence systems attempt to kill them. Evidence has been left to implicate the Time Lords in the attack. The Doctor and Peri enter the infrastructure to disable the defences, and find Jamie. From him they learn that the attackers were Sontarans.

Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor forges a mind link with his previous self. He recognises a familiar peal of bells - those of the cathedral in Seville, Spain. The arrival of a Sontaran spaceship in the countryside outside the Spanish city has been witnessed by a British actor, Oscar Botcherby, and his friend Anita. Oscar had been collecting moths when the craft flew overhead. Dastari, Chessene and Shockeye carry the unconscious Second Doctor to an isolated hacienda, whose elderly owner they kill. With them is Sontaran Group Marshal Stike and his second in command Varl. The Sixth Doctor, Peri and Jamie arrive nearby and meet Oscar and Anita, who tell them of the strange goings on at the hacienda.
The Second Doctor learns of Dastari and Chessene's plans. The Kartz-Reimer capsule is able to dematerialise into time, but its pilots do not survive the journey. Time Lords have some genetic component which allows them to safely travel through time - and Dastari intends to operate on the Doctor to identify this. Peri arrves at the house, pretending to be looking for accommodation suitable for students, in order to have a look around. Chessene allows her to see the Second Doctor, as she can read minds, but is satisfied that Peri does not recognise him. She does detect some deception, however, and Shockeye decides to capture Peri in order to eat her.

She is rescued by the Doctor and Jamie. Dastari decides that there is another way to identify the Doctor's genetic component - by turning him into an Androgum. Shockeye is knocked out and genetic material removed to inject into the Doctor. Later, when he wakes up, he finds that the Androgum- Doctor knows of all the local cuisine, and the pair decide to head into Seville to sample its gastronomic delights. The Doctor, Peri and Jamie give chase. Chessene decides that the Sontarans are no longer needed, so uses a toxic gas to try to kill them. Varl perishes, but Stike survives, badly wounded. He tries to flee in the Kartz-Reimer capsule, but it only advances his injuries. He returns to his ship, but it has been sabotaged and it explodes. Dastari and Chessene then follow the others to Seville. The errant pair are traced to the restaurant where Oscar and Anita work. Shockeye murders Oscar after an argument about payment of their massive bill. He flees back to the hacienda, leaving the Second Doctor whose Androgum influence fades - since Dastari had not had the chance to make a second augmentation that would have made it permanent. All are captured by Chessene and Dastari and taken back to the hacienda. The Sixth Doctor reveals that a time capsule can be primed and made safe just by a Time Lord using it. he agrees to operate it, but then sabotages it. The Doctor kills Shockeye using some cyanide left behind by Oscar, which he used to kill his moths. Realising he has created a monster, Dastari turns on Chessene and is killed. She tries to leave in the capsule, but is destroyed by it. The Second Doctor and Jamie depart in his TARDIS, which is summoned by his remote control device. The Sixth Doctor and Peri face a long hot walk to their ship.

This three part adventure was written by Robert Holmes, and was broadcast between 16th February and 2nd March, 1985. As such it is the first six parter since The Armageddon Factor (in terms of story length).
Robert Holmes was issued with a shopping list of elements which producer John Nathan-Turner wanted him to include. Patrick Troughton had first been sounded out on a more substantial return to the programme back during the making of The Five Doctors. The story order for this season was amended to suit his availability. Frazer Hines had hoped to have a bigger role in the 20th Anniversary story, but could only be released from Emmerdale for a brief cameo. Now he was free to take part fully. JNT also wanted a foreign location. Originally this was going to be New Orleans. Famed for many things, New Orleans is also known for its cuisine. The Androgums were devised to reflect this - the name being an anagram of gourmands. A US shoot proved far too costly and impractical, so a location closer to the UK had to be found. This turned out to be Seville. The city only features very briefly in a bit of a runaround in Part Three. The hacienda took ages to find. It was in the process of being sold to a member of the Hearst family - who bought it specifically for a bit of solitude, so there was no guarantee that filming would have been allowed to go ahead.
Another shopping list item was the inclusion of the Sontarans.
Filming was not trouble free. First of all, Chessene's wig failed to arrive on time, so cast and crew enjoyed a short holiday. SFX crewmembers had to drive overnight to obtain the explosives needed for the explosion of the Sontaran ship. The actors playing the Sontarans suffered terribly in their costumes in the heat. This also caused Shockeye's make-up to slide off frequently. A day's filming had to be redone when it was found that the film was damaged. When JNT saw this later, he realised it had actually been quite usable.

The themes of meat eating and cannibalism run through Season 22. Cannibals had appeared amongst the horrors of the Varosian Punishment Dome, and the Rani had scorned mankind's eating of animals when challenged about her amorality. The season finale will see Davros providing corpses to be turned into a foodstuff. These themes are obviously quite upfront in this story. Some of the violence on show appears wholly gratuitous. Specifically, the brutal stabbing of the likable, comedic character of Oscar. His blood might be green rather than red, but Stike's death is quite protracted, and we later see Shockeye carrying his dismembered leg.
Principle guest artists are obviously Troughton and Hines, but joining them are Jacqueline (Servalan) Pearce as Chessene, Laurence Payne as Dastari, and John Stratton as Shockeye. This is Payne's third and final appearance in the show, having played Johnny Ringo in The Gunfighters and Morix in The Leisure Hive. Oscar is James Saxon, like Gary Cady in the previous story late of the comedy Brass, and Anita is Carmen Gomez. The Sontarans are Clinton Greyn (Stike) and Tim Raynham (Varl). Greyn had been seen in State of Decay.
Episode endings are:
  1. In the space station infrastructure, Peri is attacked by a wild animal. Her scream distracts the Doctor who is hit by a blast of toxic gas from the station's defences...
  2. Peri is pursued by Shockeye through the Spanish countryside. She trips and falls, and the Androgum looms over her...
  3. The Doctor and Peri face a long walk back to the TARDIS. They decide to adopt a vegetarian diet from now on.

Overall, it a bit of a bloated mess. Robert Holmes and script editor Eric Saward were unhappy at the final results and questioned the logic of JNT's shopping list approach to story telling. The Sontarans are underused, and Seville hardly features. Most of the story is set in the hacienda and its environs, which could just as easily have been a big house in the home counties. Troughton and Baker share only a few minutes of screen time together, and Troughton isn't partnered by Hines for much of the story either - the very things fans wanted to see.
Things you might like to know:
  • The main extra on the DVD for this story is a piece by Production Assistant Gary Downie on the location work. (Downie was JNT's partner, as I'm sure you already know). He mentions the help he received from the Spanish wife of one of the British consular officials - and she gets a cameo as the lady who throws the flower to Dastari. Her name is Mercedes Carnegie, and she lent Carmen Gomez her costume. Anita was originally going to wear the dress that Mercedes wears in her cameo.
  • Oscar's restaurant is called Las Cadenas. The real location was called Las Dacenas - they just shifted two of the letters around.
  • I've called the space station "Camera". This seems to be the most common name for it, but other sources have it as "Chimera" - which does tie in with Dastari's genetic work.
  • Humans are referred to as Tellurians - a name coined for them by Holmes way back in Carnival of Monsters.
  • The Sontarans are supposed to be a cloned race. They've always differed from story to story - including the number of fingers they have - but usually there is some consistency within an individual story. Stike towers over his deputy (and most of the rest of the cast).
  • Tim Raynham got his part by writing to JNT directly, simply asking to get a role in the series.
  • Some notable lasts here. Last story to be directed by Peter Moffatt. Last to be scored by Peter Howell. Last overseas shoot of the classic series. Last appearance of the Sontarans in the classic series, and the last appearance of Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor and Frazer Hines' Jamie. The latter does have the potential for a return in the new series. 
  • Part Three's broadcast coincided with the BBC announcing that they were unhappy with the levels of violence in the programme, and with the unlikable aspects of the character of the current Doctor. The news story broke just after the second episode had screened. The initial press release suggested that the series had been axed, and the BBC had to do a quick turnaround and claim that it was merely being "rested" for a few months. It has been claimed that the original intention was the right one - it was to be axed - but the BBC relented due to popular outcry.
  • Regular readers will have read my piece on The Five Doctors already - so will know that Robert Holmes reused elements from his unused script for that story. (Basically, the Cybermen would have abducted the First Doctor to find the Time Lord time-travelling gene).
  • Time to mention Season 6(b). I did a whole post on this just after my review of The War Games. Basically, I still hold to this theory myself. How else can the Second Doctor be going on missions for the Time Lords, and be dropping Victoria off somewhere confident that he could pick her up again afterwards? The other theory doing the rounds is that he has been pulled out of his time stream by the corrupt Time Lord hierarchy that will feature in Season 23 - to be dropped back later with his memory wiped.
  • At one point Chessene cautions against killing the Sixth Doctor, as it will bring down the wrath of the Time Lords. This is the same Chessene who plans to dissect the Second Doctor, who is specifically working for the Time Lords, cell by cell. 
  • Why do the Sontarans want time travel - when we have seen that they already possess it?
  • A well worn convention story has Colin Baker and Frazer Hines playing a trick on Nicola Bryant. Instead of sprinkling a small amount of water on her face to revive her, they tipped a whole pitcher of water on her.
  • A couple of fans recreated the Second Doctor and Shockeye's appearance on the road near the hacienda - when they hijack a vehicle to travel into Seville. They found themselves facing the Hearst security team. Fortunately they remembered the filming 10 years before, so let them go on their way.
  • Clinton Greyn and Tim Raynham would recreate their Sontaran roles, along with Colin Baker as the Doctor, in a section of the popular entertainment show Jim'll Fix It. More on this shortly...

Saturday, 19 September 2015

The Magician's Apprentice - Review

Naturally, don't read any further if you haven't seen the remarkable first episode of Series 9.
Of course, we won't be able to judge this fully until we have seen how it ties in with the second half.
Prior to broadcast, we had seen the prologue and the prequel, so knew that the Doctor had made his will, and was meditating in Medieval Essex prior to facing some great danger. This related to someone whom he had abandoned, which he has come to regret. Now he must face the consequences.
The pre-titles sequence sees the Doctor land in the middle of a war zone. He tries to save a young boy who has found himself caught in the middle of a minefield. The mines in question are the Handmines - with the eyeballs in the middle of their palms. A very creepy concept.
The Doctor then finds that the boy is called Davros...
He turns his back on him and runs.
(This is the third time the TARDIS has materialised on Skaro, and the Doctor didn't realise it. You'd think he would have some sort of warning system set up by now).

Now, Davros is dying and wants to face the Doctor one last time. He sends his "Darth Vader" - the serpentine Colony Sarff - to find him. (Davros gets referred to as The Dark Lord of Skaro).
This allows us to revisit the Maldovarium (Ood, Hath and Sycorax in attendance), then the Shadow Proclamation. This sees the return of the Judoon as well as Kelly Hunter reprising her role as the Shadow Architect. Claire Higgins (Ohila) finally gets to appear in the series proper, when Sarff visits Karn.
Sarff is a wonderful creation. He glides around, and his name is explained when it is revealed that he is comprised of a bundle of snakes.
Things then shift to present day Earth. Aircraft are suddenly frozen in the air, and UNIT call upon Clara when they can't locate the Doctor. (Another appearance for Jemma Regrave's Kate Stewart. She'll be back in six weeks time). Seems this is the work of Missy, simply trying to attract their attention. Clara recommends searching for anachronisms through Earth's history. There is a nod to a well-known continuity quibble with mention of three alternative Atlantises.
Michelle Gomez makes a welcome return - as mad and as sadistic as ever, but very, very funny with it.
Missy has to use a Vortex Manipulator to travel through time - so she does not have a TARDIS of her own.
The Doctor is finally traced to his Medieval retreat - making the most ludicrously daft entrance ever. He's standing on a tank, playing what sounded like the Doctor Who theme on an electric guitar. He has also introduced the word "dude" several centuries early.
Sarff turns up and transports the Doctor, Clara and Missy to Skaro.
Davros is once again played by Julian Bleach. We get some nice clips of previous Doctors' encounters with Davros - audio for Davison and McCoy, but Tennant and the two Bakers are seen on screen. The Fourth Doctor's moral dilemma about killing a child you knew would grow up to be a monster comes back to haunt him.

The Dalek city is strongly influenced by the Ray Cusick version seen way back in The Dead Planet. Lots of classic era Daleks on view, as well as the bronze RTD ones and the red / gold Supreme who we last saw in Davros' last appearance.
Lanzarote once again plays both itself and an alien planet - Skaro this time - in the same story.
Things turn nasty when first Missy, then Clara appear to get exterminated. To make matters worse, the TARDIS is destroyed. Of course, this will all come out in the wash in the second half of the story.
The cliffhanger sees the Doctor (from the future) return to the battlefield, and point a Dalek exterminator at young Davros.
The trailer for next week's episode (which the BBC accidentally leaked on BBC2 this morning) seems to imply that the Doctor will be offered the chance (by Davros) to wipe out the Daleks. To make us think that Clara and Missy really have been exterminated, neither feature in this.
To be honest, this could easily have been the opener for a season finale.
If this is just episode 1 of 12, we are in for a real treat this year.

Latest DWM - and a wee bit of a rant against BF...

Would have posted about this yesterday - but I only bought it today.
DWM has had a very slight redesign.
I don't like it.
We were promised a bumper issue, with more pages, but it seems these are mostly taken up with adverts.
Despite the imminent broadcast of a new series, there is an awful lot of the usual free publicity which DWM offers Big Finish. Once upon a time you were legally obliged to print "Advertising Feature" at the top of these.
Because of the nature of Series 9, the new series previews consist of only two stories. Naturally, the accompanying pieces aren't able to tell us anything remotely useful.
I got the distinct impression that some of the content is some stuff they have had hanging around for a while and just didn't know quite where to put it. Had the magazine been better thought out we might have got the whole of The War Games in The Fact of Fiction slot, instead of just the first six episodes.
Even the free poster has prompted an annoyance. One side is obviously the "Complete History" artwork for the first two episodes of Series 9, but the reverse has Gridlock and The Daemons side by side as a poster. I would like one on my wall, but not the other. Do I have to cut it in two?
Yet again, the reviews are pointless. Apparently every single Big Finish release must be bought. If you want proper reviews of BF audios, read SFX or Starburst, where the critic actually states their mind rather than what is patently a party line.
There is a review of the pre-regeneration audio that BF have produced to give the seemingly eternally irritable Colin Baker a final fling. Except they are going to keep on producing more 6th Doctor stories from earlier time-lines.
Colin - your finale should be just that...
One sentence says it is a fitting ending - "Dear reader, it is." The next lists a catalogue of what is wrong with the ending to this audio. But the bottom line is always "you really must buy it anyway".
If you delve back into the archives of this blog, you will find the day when I celebrated the occasion that a BF audio actually got a bad review (it was one of the "Gallifrey" series). But the reviewer recommended, of course, that you buy it anyway...
One of the articles relating to BF is that they have got some bloke who no-one has ever heard of to mimic Jon Pertwee, and an equally obscure actor to do Ben Jackson. (Am assuming they're both someone Nick Briggs did Doncaster or Hartlepool Rep with).
Sorry, but the Third Doctor was Jon Pertwee and no one else is acceptable. Same goes for Hartnell as First Doctor, and Troughton as Second.
(BF were behind the recreation of the missing episode of Planet of Giants on the DVD release - when they used a sound-alike for Hartnell. Sounded nothing like him at all).
The big thing about BF was that it was original cast members recreating their roles. You start getting sound-alikes in and you diminish that original intention - unless, of course your own original intention is just to milk the franchise for as much dosh as you can get before the BBC finally give the licence to someone else.
Do I regard BF as canon? Of course I don't! The one thing that determines me on this is that they not only had a load of Davison / Peri stories, but they shoehorned a whole new extra companion in as well. The whole dramatic point of the Fifth Doctor's "death" is that he is saving someone who he hardly knows. It's one of the things that makes this story brilliant. For someone to come along after and shoehorn some fanw**kery between Planet of Fire and Caves is just a downright insult in my opinion.
My disregard for BF is based on actually listening to the things, by the way. God forbid I would actually pay good money for them, but I have heard 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th Doctors on Radio 4X (or Radio 7 as it was once called).
The Tom Baker ones in particular I thought terrible. He sounded absolutely nothing like he did on TV at the time they are supposed to be set (both vocally and the language he used), the plots were woeful, and one story had Roman soldiers talking about visiting the Colosseum about 20 years before it was built. Utter rubbish.
There is a news piece that DWM are holding their own little convention in Slough next year. (Come friendly bombs...).
It'll cost you £25. Guess who has a big presence? Big Finish.

Friday, 18 September 2015

The Doctor's Meditation

In the UK. the BBC have released The Doctor's Meditation - the prequel to The Magician's Apprentice - on the official Doctor Who Facebook page.
Running just over 6 minutes, it shows the Doctor staying in a medieval castle - not unlike the one we saw in the Robin Hood story last year.
He is planning on meditating before he goes off to see a very old acquaintance. Someone who he abandoned, which he regrets.
He's found himself a squire named Bors, whose life he saved. (He removed a splinter...).
The Doctor finds a number of ways of putting off his meditation - and hence his departure. He has the locals spend weeks digging a well, for instance.
He's very bad at conjuring tricks - though he does like to do Tommy Cooper impressions when he practices them. The Doctor also likes to duel with Bors using his spoon.
The piece ends with the Doctor finally settling down to meditate - but first he tells Bors about the many battlefields he has seen - and we get a glimpse of the one that we know is going to open tomorrow evening's episode.

Capaldi is as funny and as rude as last year. Bors would make a brilliant companion in my view.
Who might this person be that the Doctor has let down? There's an obvious one, but Moffat does have a habit of creating very old friends that we have never heard of before.
Apparently the BBC are going to release Series 9 in two parts on DVD (and presumably Blu-Ray as well) with exclusive extras.
The other big news today is the confirmation that Jenna Coleman will, as expected, be leaving at the end of the series. Room for Bors, then...

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Know Your Cybermen No.19

Dark Water / Death In Heaven (2014).
The new version of the Cybermen return for Peter Capaldi's first series as Doctor - getting a two-part season finale. At the time of writing, this is their last appearance in the series, though the Radio Times has said that they will be appearing in Series 9 at some point. (As such, this blog post series will be coming to a temporary end).
Design-wise, there is nothing new. They do have a new attribute - flight. They have rockets built into the soles of their feet.
The biggest development in this story is the manner in which new Cybermen are created.
If we go right back to the beginning, the Cybermen were the product of spare-part surgery, along with some brain surgery. This remained the case right up to the end of the Classic Series.
John Lumic started inserting human brains directly into ready-made armoured bodies - although Ianto Jones' girlfriend was also converted piecemeal.
When the Cybermen attempted to convert Craig Owens, it looked as if his whole body was going to be encased in metal - similar to what we had seen with the sentinel in the Underhenge which attacked Amy.
With these new versions, we have seen conversion through "infection" by Cybermite.
Now, Cybermen are created from dead bodies at a molecular level by genetically modified water. Plain old rain water can do the trick. Clouds can be seeded by self-destructing Cybermen.
Additionally, the minds of the deceased can be saved using Gallifreyan technology, then downloaded into the new bodies. From the 3W facility, we see that there is a full skeleton within each shell.
The emotional inhibitor is still in the chest, now behind the circular glowing panel.
Cyberman weapons can blow up other Cybermen, not just kill them.
Missy creates this new force on Earth as a birthday gift for the Doctor - so that he can have an army to help him fight evil and injustice. Naturally, he refuses it, and the resurrected Danny Pink, who is able to overcome the emotional inhibitor, orders the entire army to destroy itself as well as the seeded clouds.

Story Notes:

  • Way back just before Series 1 began, the writers were each asked about their favourite stories / monsters. Moffat chose Cybermen. Apart from their cameo as part of the Pandorica Alliance, this is his first proper stab at them - and it is a huge improvement on their last few outings.
  • It does, however, follow Moffat's usual problem of setting something up in the first half of a two-parter, which is dropped entirely in the second half - the whole Dark Water business. There is no clear reason why the Cybermen have to be "naked" in the water tombs.
  • It's the fourth consecutive appearance by Cybermen in the penultimate episode of a series (all of Moffat's ones, basically).
  • We see a Cyber version of the late Brigadier, but not the Cyber versions of Amy and Rory.
  • Do I need to say that the Cybermen outside St Paul's Cathedral is a homage to The Invasion? Of course not. We do get to see that UNIT have kept a damaged Cyber-head from that story.
  • As I type this, we are in between two 3-D cinema screenings of this story - but only in the US.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Moffat's Series 9 Episode Guide

A few interesting nuggets of information about the new series in today's Radio Times. Coming from Steven Moffat himself, these should be non-spoilery.
Here are the things that seem to be most significant.

The Magician's Apprentice:
Reference to a "confession dial" which contains the Doctor's last will and testament. (I am going to assume that this was the disc we saw him leave with Ohila in the Prologue). The sky above Earth is frozen - that's frozen in time rather than brrrrrr. Those hands with eyes in their palms are some sort of landmine.
Everyone's looking for the Doctor - including the Daleks and Missy, and Colony Sarff (the bloke who looks like he's got elastic bands round his face). Clara has to join forces with Missy. There is also mention of the return of the Shadow Architect in the episode's cast list. Kate Stewart is also in it.
From the new photos released, the Doctor plays guitar during some kind of medieval gladiatorial contest.
The Witch's Familiar:
Stuff about the Doctor being trapped without the TARDIS or his sonic amongst what sounds like the Daleks.
"... his best friends murdered in front of his eyes".
The questions - what is the Doctor's confession? Why did he leave Gallifrey? (I'm sure they'll find some way not to answer the latter).
Under The Lake:
A "gleaming black spaceship" being found at the bottom of the lake where a base is built. The dead returning as ghosts.
Before The Flood:
A town that never was. A battle where the Doctor and Clara already know who is going to lose. A menace called the Fisher King. Beethoven's Fifth - who really wrote it is significant. (Sounds like eps 3 & 4 might be linked rather than a two-parter - as with 5 & 6).
The Girl Who Died:
Village where all the warriors have been killed. A girl named Ashildr (Maisie Williams' character? I've googled it and it is an Old Norse name deriving from ass - god and hildr - battle). Doctor has 12 hours to turn the villagers into a fighting force to defend against Odin and mercenaries called The Mire. The Doctor remembering where he saw his face before (i.e Caecilius). That dragon from the trailer.
The Woman Who Lived:
England 1651 - Highwayman called "The Nightmare" - presumably Maisie again. The lion-faced flame-breathing character is her companion. Doctor tracking down an alien artefact and facing consequences of his actions.
The Zygon Invasion / Inversion:
UNIT have helped 20 million Zygons to live disguised on Earth. This peaceful coexistence breaks down. Osgood calls in the Doctor - even though she's dead. (Well, we can all guess the answer to that mystery). In the second half we have reference to a box in UNIT's Black Archive. Zygons taking over UNIT HQ.
Sleep No More:
Found footage from a space rescue mission. Your sanity at risk if you watch it.
Face The Raven:
Pockets of space / time - hidden streets in London. Doctor, Clara and Rigsy from Flatline enter one and not everyone will get out alive. One of them will have to face the raven... (This sounds like a potential Weeping Angels scenario).
Heaven Sent:
A world unlike any the Doctor has ever seen before. The greatest threat he has ever encountered - which he must face alone.
Hell Bent:
I'll quote the finale piece in full. There is a bit of dialogue:
"Is it a sad song?"
"Nothing's sad until it's over. Then everything is".
"What's it called?".
"I think it's called Clara".
"Tell me about her".
If you took everything from him, and betrayed him, and trapped him, and broke both his hearts... how far might the Doctor go? It is time, at last, for the Doctor's confession.

No specific mention of the Sandmen in any of the synopses. No obvious Cyberman storyline either. They may only be getting a cameo this series.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Series 9 Titles Revealed.

All 12 episode titles for Series 9 have now been released. They are:

1. The Magician's Apprentice.
2. The Witch's Familiar.
3. Under The Lake.
4. Before The Flood.
5. The Girl Who Died.
6. The Woman Who Lived.
7. Invasion of the Zygons.
8. Inversion of the Zygons.
9. Sleep No More.
10. Face The Raven.
11. Heaven Sent.
12. Hell Bent.

Good to see a nice old fashioned story title in there at No.7. And "Heaven" gets into the titles two series running.

Update 9.30pm: Just heard that the Zygon episode titles have been tweaked - so bang goes the classic old style one. They are now The Zygon Invasion and The Zygon Inversion.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

TARDIS Travels No.34(a)

The first half of Series 7 sees the last days of the Ponds, but first of all we have the 2011 Christmas Special - and Pond Life. Hang on to your Dalek Voice Changers, some of this might get confusing...

Journey 630: Seventh Transept, 52nd Century, to Earth orbit, 24th December, 1938.
The Doctor has arrived on a vast alien spaceship which is about to launch an attack on Earth. He blows it up and uses an impact suit to follow the TARDIS down to the planet. He has Madge Arwell take him to the ship - but it proves to be a real Police Box. We don't get to see where the real ship is parked.

Journey 631: England, 1938, to England, 1941.
The Doctor travels to the home of the Arwell family's Uncle Digby, materialising in the attic. The Doctor takes on the role of the caretaker, in order to thank Madge for her earlier help. Unseen, he has set up the portal to the alien planet which is about to have its trees harvested.

Journey 632: England, 1941, to Leadworth, 2011.
At Madge's instigation, the Doctor goes to visit Amy and Rory for Christmas.

Journey 633: Leadworth, 2011, to Florinall 9, date unknown.
The Doctor encounters some Sontarans on this volcanic world.

Journey 634: Florinall 9, date unknown, to Paris, first decade 20th Century.
The Doctor toasts his muffin with the notorious exotic dancer and spy Mata Hari. She was in Paris until 1915, and her fame was at its height between 1905 - 1910.

Journey 635: Paris, early 20th Century, to music studio, location unknown, 2012.
The Doctor lays down some raps. The Eleventh Doctor seems to spend a lot of time in recording studios, or being present when recordings are made, as he keeps on recognising himself when he hears them played - be they piano duets, or first triangle.

Journey 636: Unspecified music studio, 2012, to location / date unknown.
Looks like Mongolia, judging by the costume of his new friend. The Doctor invents pasta. He has previously claimed to have invented the banana daiquiri, and will later claim to have also invented the Yorkshire Pudding. I had one last night - a Yorkshire Pudding that is. Very nice. Thanks Doctor,

Journey 637: Location / date unknown to Leadworth, 2012.
Unseen, the Doctor has been to the Battle of Hastings. The Doctor pays a call on the Ponds, but they are not at home. The bulb in the lamp on top of the Police Box needs to be replaced. As we have seen since the phone was first used, the exterior of the TARDIS doesn't just look like like a Police Box, it is a Police Box.

Journey 638: Leadworth, 2012, to Skaro, date unknown.
The Doctor finds himself on Skaro, where he is captured by the Daleks. He and the ship are transported to the Dalek Parliament, which appears to be housed in a vast saucer in orbit above the planet which they have made their asylum. The prequel sees the Doctor in an English town having a cream tea before he encounters the monkish messenger, but we do not know how much of this is real or imagined.

Journeys 639 - 641: Dalek Parliament, date unknown, to Egypt, 1334 BC, via Leadworth 2012.
The Ponds get dropped off back home. The Doctor is next seen in ancient Egypt with Queen Nefertiti when he gets an urgent call from the 24th Century.

Journey 642: Egypt, 1334 BC, to India, 2367.
The urgent call concerns a massive spacecraft which appears to be on a collision course with Earth. The Space Defence forces in India plan to destroy it, but the Doctor wants to check it out first.

Journey 643: India, 2367, to Africa, 1902.
The Doctor goes to collect an old acquaintance - big game hunter John Riddell. The Doctor has visited here before - unseen - as Riddell was expecting the Doctor to return with some sweets months ago.

Journey 644: Africa, 1902, to Leadworth, 2012.
The TARDIS materialises around Amy and Rory - as well as Rory's dad, Brian.

Journey 645: Leadworth, 2012, to Silurian space ark, 2367.
The Doctor takes his new gang to the Silurian spacecraft, which is rapidly approaching the Earth. Caution: may contain dinosaurs.

Journeys 646 - 650: Silurian ark, 2367, to Leadworth 2012, via Africa, 1902.
Right, things get a bit confusing here. The second part of Pond Life is actually set between the second and third episodes of Series 7 - the Doctor has turned up too early.
Basically, the Doctor takes Amy, Rory and Brian back to present day Leadworth, then takes Riddell and Nefertiti to the African plains in 1902.
Or vice versa.
At some point the Doctor pauses to let Brian have a cup of tea in orbit above the Earth. Unseen also, the Doctor picks up an Ood by accident during the Androvax conflict. He visits Amy and Rory to warn them about the Silurian ark business, but arrives too soon in their time-line. The Ood gets out, spending a few days buttling for the Ponds, before the Doctor comes back to collect it.
I think...

Journey 651: Leadworth, 2012, to Mercy, Nevada, 1870.
The TARDIS arrives somewhere in the desert close to the small town of Mercy, which just happens to be playing host to another alien doctor - and there's a cyborg out to get him.

Journey 652: Mercy, 1870 - environs to town.
At some point the Doctor moves the TARDIS into the town, as it is from there that we see it depart.

Journey 653: Mercy, Nevada, 1870, to Leadworth, 2012.
The Doctor arrives just at the start of the "slow invasion" - the sudden appearance of the mysterious black cubes.

Journey 654: Leadworth, 2012, to Leadworth, 2013.
Bored with waiting, the Doctor goes off and reappears in time for Amy and Rory's wedding anniversary. Obviously scope for umpteen unseen journeys.

Journey 655: Leadworth, 2013, to London, 1890.
As an anniversary present, the Doctor takes Amy and Rory to the Savoy Hotel, on the Strand. Unfortunately, the hotel is built on top of a Zygon spaceship, and most of the staff are duplicates...

Journey 656: London, 1890, to London, 1540's.
To make up for the Savoy debacle, the Doctor takes the Ponds back to the reign of Henry VIII. Amy accidentally marries him. This isn't their first visit to this time / place - as Rory is supposed to have previously left his phone charger in Henry's bathroom. Unless this is when it happens, and these journeys are more mixed up than I thought...

Journey 657: London, 1540's, to Leadworth, 2013.
The Doctor returns the Ponds to their anniversary party - some three months later. Again - lots of potential unseen journeys.

Journey 658: Leadworth, 2013, to New York, 2012.
Yes, the Pond time-line in this period is very hard to follow. Power of Three shoves everything into 2013, but this story is set in 2012. We only find out where the TARDIS is parked when the Doctor and Amy return to it once Rory has been nabbed by the Weeping Angels. It is on the shoreline of the East River.

Journey 659: New York - East River to graveyard, 2012.
The TARDIS has attempted to travel back to 1938, but has "bounced off" - due to all the temporal anomalies created by the Angels. It lands in a cemetery across the river from the city, which we'll subsequently learn is the final resting place of the Ponds...

Journey 660: New York, 2012, to China, 221 BC.
The Doctor goes back to ancient China, after reading something in River's novel, in order to plant a message for her in 1938 via a piece of ceramic. This should help her to let the TARDIS break into her time zone. Yowzah!

Journey 661: China, 221 BC, to New York, 1938.
The TARDIS is finally able to arrive in 1938 - at Grayle's mansion, where River and Rory had been held. Rory has already been transported by the Cherub-Angels to Winter Quay.
The Doctor, Amy and River follow him by conventional means. Amy and Rory's "suicide" changes time - cancelling out the Angels' paradoxical timeline, so the TARDIS ends up back in the graveyard on the outskirts of New York in 2012.
Of course, first Rory and then Amy get dragged off into the past - and the temporal anomalies generated by the Angels prevent the Doctor and River from rescuing them.

Journey 662: New York, 2012 - graveyard to Central Park.
The Doctor returns to the scene of their picnic to retrieve the final page of River's novel - which proves to be a farewell message from Amy...
Have to go now. Think I've got something in my eye. Sniff...