Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

VerityEpisode39-300This week we cover what are some of the trickiest of the villains the Doctor has faced (one who even wears his face)! Join Deb, Erika, Liz, and Lynne as we try to stay on topic talking about shapeshifters. What is it about them that’s scary? Do they hold the same appeal for all of us? Is a talking cactus a more or less believable shapeshifter than a mostly-non-functioning robot?


Also covered:
Liz discovers what might be the most useless Dalek tat ever!
Erika tells Macworld magazine how to create your own podcast!
Lynne must have K-9 slippers!
Deb is (saddened, but also) gladdened by the warmth of the Doctor Who fan community after the passing of Kate O’Mara, Derek Martinus, and Glyn Jones.

Bonus links:
Kamelion touches the TARDIS inappropriately
Frobisher the shapeshifting penguin

Download or listen now (runtime 1:02:12) 

Comments on: "Verity! Episode 39 – Turn, Smile, Shapeshift, Repeat" (6)

  1. Henrik said:

    One should definitely re-watch The Almost People/Rebel Flesh (or was it Rebel Flesh/Almost People?) if one has only seen them one time back when they aired.
    I found the two-parter just good but not great on first viewing but when I watched them back to back it all gelled much better.

    I thought there were some pacing issues and the shifting moods among the crew at the outpost seemed almost random but once the one week break between episodes was removed I found it pretty great. The pacing worked much better. The panicked shifting alliances and murderous tendencies among the acid miners make perfect sense when one has as little time to stop and calm down as the characters going through their flesh fork lifts coming alive and arguing that they’re as much alive and with a right to their identities as the operators they’ve been imprinted on by.

    Maybe it could have been a single episode but that wouldn’t have been ideal either because I suspect it would just feel rushed then. One extra long episode would have been ideal but that’s not really how Doctor Who works and it probably isn’t a story warranting a holiday special or anything.

    When viewed after the fact, as part of a blu-ray or DVD boxed set or similar, I think the story is well above average and since that’s probably how most people are going to view it over the lifetime of the story (say the next 50 years) the original impressions of the story the way it aired might not end up mattering much.
    Fans have come to reevaluate stories before and this might be a candidate for a story likely to rise in fan estimation in the future.

    Also, I must admit I had completely forgotten that Rutans are shapeshifters. Completely. In my mind the lighthouse was invaded by an amphibious green blob from outer space. And everybody died. Somehow. Maybe I should re-watch Horror of Fang Rock.

  2. Ray Adamson said:

    Hmm… considering how frequently the doppelganger trope is used to generate stories in the adventure series genre,the accusation that it’s a bit lazy is a bit inevitable but the concept is regularly disconcerting and provocative for me.It’s the Invasion Of The Body Snatchers thing that the invasion might have already happened and nobody else is really aware,that i find particularly effective.It’s used in a different way in ‘Horror of Fang Rock’ with a murder mystery set up but ‘Terror Of The Zygons’,’Spearhead From Space’and The Faceless Ones are evocative and faithful to that particular quality of paranoia in their storytelling for me and it was a very welcome feature of ‘Day Of The Doctor’ too,for me.

    Apologies that you found my suggestion to be a difficult topic to discuss but i did enjoy it.Nice work, although i feel kind of awkward about being referenced,it would be more appropriate if i could steal Karen Gillan or Bettie Pages’ bodies,so i could wear my K-9 slippers and be gender correct.Surprised by all the sympathy and appreciation for cactus’ and wondering if Erika has been replaced since she moved to Edmonton with the enthusiasm for Ice Hockey now.Andrew Smith is mean.

  3. Honorable mention should go to the Krillitanes from “School Reunion”, who I thought were shape shifters that were used effectively as they played on the fear that some schoolchildren may have about their teachers. I can imagine some kids are afraid that their teachers really do sleep upside down on the ceiling at the school and that they are really monsters who want to eat them. The CGI is a bit dated, especially the morphing sequence that you only see done in shadows, but Anthony Stewart Head’s performance as the head Krillitane was a series highlight. Plus his scene with Tennant at the pool was the first moment where I really bought Tennant as the Doctor.

    Enjoyed this week’s podcast. 🙂

  4. James C said:

    This week’s podcast was delightful. Liz’s passionate defence of Meglos had me laughing. No worries about the material from me!

    The Krillitanes are a good example to consider, as JB notes above. I think they are a bit different from the ‘hidden in plain sight’ and ‘your friend turned foe’ tropes identified in the discussion. They’re somewhere between spare parts hoarders and body snatchers. The deliberate way they go about shopping for the next race to assimilate is chilling.

  5. Mandy said:

    To my mind, Doctor Who has a very Celtic take on shapeshifting, both in its literal and metaphorical sense. The Doctor goes through a series of “transitory births”*, retaining his memories and experiences but renewed each time in body and in nature. Arguably, in New Who so does his companion every time he gets a new one; each is new but has a little more knowledge of the Doctor and his universe.

    From that perspective the nature of his regenerations are interesting too, certainly in Classic Who. In Celtic myths such transformations tend to occur for reasons of safety/survival or as a punishment**. Generally, the Doctor regenerates because he’s risked himself in favour of his companions or because the Time Lords have got him into some sort of trouble.

    With a less literal and more Campbell-esque notion of the Shapeshifter-Trickster — “fickle, two-faced or bewilderingly changeable”*** — you can cover almost all Who baddies and quite a few of the goodies too, even the Doctor. Stories need characters like that to keep the plot moving along and Doctor Who needs lots of plot (though it doesn’t *always* have it).

    From the perspective of Celtic mythology again, the Zygons are shapeshifting to survive and so is Meglos as he’s the last of his species. I suppose the Rutans are too, given that they’re locked in an endless war with the Sontarans****. _The Hand Of Fear_, _Pyramids Of Mars_ and _The Seeds Of Doom_ could all get a mention here (does Chase ever actually plant-ify someone or does he just threaten Sarah Jane with plant-ification?)*****

    There is that other sort of shapeshifter, of course: the badly (inconsistently) written character…but we all know that never happens on Doctor Who.

    * More on this in John and Caitlin Matthews’ work.

    ** In Greek mythology you transform in order to rape a maiden, in Celtic mythology you are transformed because you raped a maiden.

    *** From Christopher Vogler’s _The Writer’s Journey_.

    **** Though why the Sontarans didn’t just stomp all over them at the outset, I have no idea.

    ***** Apologies to fans of other eras for leaning so heavily on the Baker Major/Sladen examples.

  6. did we mention the Tenza child of Night Terrors

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