Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

VerityEpisode33-300The sophomore year of Verity! has officially begun! Join Deb, Erika, Katrina, and Liz as we dive into the world of Doctor Who villains. As the holiday season has barely passed, where better to start than the Christmas episodes? How do the Christmas villains stack up compared to each other? Which story doesn’t even have a villain? Who likes “Voyage of the Damned”? Who doesn’t like “A Christmas Carol”? Listen as we struggle to keep on point and discuss the villains without slipping into discussion of the stories themselves.


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Comments on: "Verity! Episode 33 – Christmas Villains: Naughty or Nice?" (18)

  1. Mayor Of Ulthar said:

    I liked “The Next Doctor” a lot more than I disliked it, including its villains. The Cyberking itself didn’t bother me as much as the London he strode in, miniatures, CGI or whatever, it to me was one of the worst effects of Doctor Who since 2005. The buildings all seemed to be 2 inches tall, like the lit houses around the tree at Christmas. Less convincing, say, that Godzilla kicking cardboard boxes around in the 1960s. The Cybermen in the rest of there forms were fine with me: my only previous exposure to them was “Age of Steel” etc and I enjoyed them more in this round.

    Not seen “Christmas Carol” yet: my New Who experience is mostly, but not entirely, driven by Netflix, and this is one of those that for some reason they skipped. It’s for sale for $10 at the local BAM store… do I get it and watch it now, or wait 11 months?

    Seen the Wardrobe one twice, cried at the end, each time. Pretty much love all of it, including the Androzani name dropping. The wooden king is a predecessor to the wooden Cyberman of “Time of the Doctor”, agree?

    Good episode!

    • I’d never thought about the wooden king and the wooden Cyberman! That’s an amusing parallel, if nothing else. I wouldn’t be surprised if Moffat planted that seed for himself inadvertently!

  2. Mayor Of Ulthar said:

    (and yes I know i typed Their incorrectly above. The pedant in me hates when others do that, and here I did it too!)

  3. Hey all – long time listener, this was the first “Who” podcast I listened to and still one of the few I regularly follow.

    I have a thought (hopefully constructive) about the new villains theme: this episode was a little harder to follow than usual because I do not have character (or villain) names memorized. As a newer fan who has not done much rewatching yet, I tend to remember stories or visuals more than the specific names, particularly of one-time characters or alien species. I do like how wide-ranging your conversations are, but is there perhaps a way that you can introduce the villains a bit more as they are discussed – either by making sure you name the episode first (which you already do much of the time!) or even saying a bit about their story to help remind listeners which they are? It might help those of us who think Sycorax sounds a bit like Jaggeroth.

    Related thought: have you considered announcing the weekly topics a bit in advance, like after the recording perhaps? That way if listeners know that the XMas Specials week was coming up we could follow along, prep for the ep by rewatching something or looking back to episode guides to, again, get ourselves up to speed on the topic before we hear your take.

    Just some stray thoughts, feel free to disregard. Keep up the good work!

    • Those are both excellent pieces of feedback! We’ll definitely take them both into account. We don’t always know what topic we’ll be covering next, but when we do, we can make a point to mention it. When we don’t know, I do try to tweet it as soon as we have it figured out, but I don’t always remember. I’ll try to get better at that because you’re right, it’s always more fun to be prepared to follow along!

      Thanks for listening–and for taking the time to give us some great advice!


  4. Why wasn’t “The Unquiet Dead” included in your discussion as it takes on Christmas eve and is far more “Christmasy” than some of the actual “Christmas Specials” discussed? I know it wasn’t aired on Christmas day but if you are discussing Doctor Who’s villains’ war(s) on Christmas, I think the Gelth are by far a more Christmasy villain than some of the villains discussed as they were to have inspired Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol.

    • That’s a good question, and I think it boils down to needing to create *some* kind of limits for ourselves. We do have a tendency to go on and on and well-over on the time we think we should take. If we covered everything, no matter how tangential, we’d run out of server space in a jiffy! In this case, the remit was talking about the villains of the DW Christmas Specials. I don’t really remember “The Unquiet Dead” very well, but I completely believe you that it’s Christmassy. It just didn’t fit within our planned topics. If one of us had thought of it, it’s possible we might’ve brought it up briefly, but we didn’t. We can’t think of everything.

  5. I’ve made notes as I listen this time.

    ERIKA: I loved Vengeance of the Stones, as well. The entire Destiny of the Doctor audio series was terrific. Rather sad that it was the last gasp of BBC’s AudioGo. Even though you’re wrong about the Third Doctor in general, you are so right about Mike Yates and also the writing of Andrew Smith. For more Mike Yates audio, let me recommend some of the BBC AudioGo stories of the Fourth Doctor. The Hornet’s Nest series are full-but-small-cast audio adventures with Tom Baker and Richard Franklin. Fun stuff, and a little bit different in feel from the Big Finish plays. They’re not better, but it’s interesting to hear the contrast. I understand for The Hornet’s Nest they had hoped to have the Brigadier, but Nick Courtney was too ill to accept the schedule, and so they rewrote for Mike Yates.

    LIZ: Does the rest of Europe know you are giving away standing stones? Does this include full dolmen? If the latter is true and the former is not widely known, I shall seek out a bit of land here in Minnesota and get back to you. Some major highlights of my trip to the Loire Valley in France years ago were the afternoons of Dolmen hunting. It made me wish the Anishinaabeg and Dakota peoples (native to this area) had decided to build things out of stone.

    TANSY: I miss your point of view when you’re not available. Hope you are well!

    THE NEXT DOCTOR: I love, love, love Miss Hartigan and Dervla Kirwan (I’ve loved her ever since Ballykissangel!). I wonder when her husband (Rupert Penry-Jones) will appear in Doctor Who? It’s a small island, so everybody gets a turn, right? The idea of the giant Cyberman was horrible honestly, but I loved the design, and the story in general.

    KAZRAN: I think Liz expressed my thoughts pretty well on this one. I like that this is a story about a villain redeemed, and I am sure the Doctor meddled in his time line in order to save the ship, as Liz said.

    CHRISTMAS INVASION: I think you all missed a good opportunity to discuss “Harriet Jones, Prime Minister” as villain. She is a hero through most of her story arc, but then she orders the death of the Sycorax, which causes the Doctor to treat her as a villain as an end to her arc (until Stolen Earth).

    THE END OF TIME: John Simm as the Master? He was great, I think Simm is brilliant. Having said that, I have less affection for the Master as a character in general. Timothy Dalton as Rassilon was also great, I think. Deb, Timothy Dalton is far more than James Bond or Rassilon. I agree he was a little over-the-top in his performance, but c’mon A Lion in Winter?! He was great in that! Everybody was great in that!

    Great stuff all around. I liked the villain discussion, but I agree with the earlier comment that a bit more context is sometimes needed for a few of the references. I imagine the conversation might be a little more focused when the villain selection is less episode dependent. Always entertaining! Thank you.

  6. I think the Christmas villain that’s satisfied me most is Sardick, but that’s because he’s basically just Scrooge and Dickens was always good at creating memorable characters. Otherwise, I don’t think the Christmas villains have been very strong and neither have the specials. Although I may be one of the few people on the planet who actually quite likes Voyage of the Damned!

  7. Ooh, another lovely podcast, by the way! You tackled a difficult subject and tackled it well. 🙂

  8. Another entertaining podcast to listen to. You ladies are always fun. Especially when you disagree on something.

  9. Paul A. said:

    As I understand it, “The Feast of Steven” was deliberately designed not to be an integral part of the story surrounding it, because they were expecting a lot of people not to see it — in those days people celebrated Christmas by spending time with their families away from the TV, and time-shifted viewing hadn’t been invented yet — and they didn’t want those people to miss any vital plot stuff.

  10. To follow up on Deb’s comment about the writers… I completely agree that there needs to be some diversity in the shows roster of writers or it will stagnate (further). In addition, there are plenty of women who have substantial writing experience in general and for Doctor Who as well. Just one example of someone who should have been given a chance to write for the TV show by now is Jacqueline Rayner. The structure and tonal shifts of “The Pirates” for Big Finish, and her books, suggest she could write some very interesting episodes that would appeal to the mainstream as well.

    Perhaps there should be term limits for doctor who head writers…

    If I may suggest a Verity Extra topic – it would be interesting to learn what the Verity teams ideal writer staff would be for the next series.

    Keep up the great work – the shows keep getting better.

  11. That Yeti is adorable! Just had to say it. 🙂

  12. With respect to your excellent system I find that Christmas villains and characters in general can be categorised into three groups:

    • Typical Doctor Who villains – like the Sycorax, Racnoss or the Martian water, something familiar to the series that could be easily dropped into any other episode without seeming out of place.

    • Returning nasties – the Master, the Cybermen ya-da-ya-da. These monsters always get a bit of a Christmas smaltz such as the Cyberking, the Power-Master, Silents-as-priests but are essentially the same as ever

    • Anti-Christmas – these monsters and villians would almost be totally out-of-place in any other story and include the footsoldiers such as the Robosantas, Christmas trees, hosts, Snowmen (Christmas Sharks!). Then there are the humbugging villians who want to destroy some aspect of the spirit of Christmas most notably in Sardac but also in the child stealing joy-killer Miss Hartigan, Harriet Jones [Prime Minister] and Max Capricorn.

    • A fourth non-villinous category unique to Christmas stories would be the Christmassy mystery. A story that has the Doctor investigating something with a Christmas feel (a “humany-wumany” feel) such as the mystery of The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe or the Irwin Allen disaster movie of Voyage of the Damned.

    IMHO, the very best Christmas Doctor Who stories have a strong mixture of the traditional villian to provide a strong story and something to make them uniquely Christmassy. Good examples of a strong mixture would be Christmas Invasion, The Snowman, Runaway Bride, Next Doctor. While weeker episodes tend to be too traditional (The End of Time) or too Christmassy (The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe).

    The early RTD stories tend to start off with the Christmas elements first before diving into a more traditional story. As time has gone on, the villains have become more and more blended until the Snowmen where the titular snowmen cover both Returning AND Anti-Christmas.

    (thanks for reading)

  13. IMO, the true villain of “The End of Time” wasn’t Rassilon or The Master; it was Russell T Davies. And his primary victim was David Tennant.

    I eagerly await the discussion to follow.

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