The Negative Spirit and Larry Trainor’s Contrasting Lives

Doom Patrol is an incredibly multifaceted show, and therefore the characters are naturally complex as well. The show carries an overall theme of fragmented identity; this can be seen literally with Jane and the Underground, but also in Cliff’s struggle to adjust to his new robotic life and in the way Vic embraced the Cyborg identity to honor his mother. Every character in this show has been through horrible accidents that caused these separations, but most of them held fragmented lives even before becoming what they are now. So much can be written on each character’s relationship with their new lives — even for the secondary and minor characters — but for now, I want to focus on what I personally find to be the most interesting example of contrasting existences: Larry Trainor.

Larry is a particularly fascinating character because not only does he struggle with his own identity, he’s also the host to a mysterious energy being that he’s incapable of verbally communicating with. While he’s dealing with the aftermath of his own life before the accident, he’s also unintentionally psychologically torturing the Negative Spirit with his own self-hatred that, due to their bond, it is forced to feel, though he doesn’t realize this until they’ve been merged for six decades.

Doom Patrol (Season one, episode 13, ”Flex Patrol”) / Source: HBO Max

The Negative Spirit, at first, seems to harbor resentment towards him for this — which is admittedly understandable if you attempt to view things from its perspective. But it is also, as stated by Niles Caulder himself, extremely sensitive and powerful, and it senses the work Larry needs to do to find self-acceptance. When the show starts, they’ve been merged since 1961, and they had made absolutely no progress toward communication in all of those decades. And while we watch Larry slowly begin to understand the Negative Spirit, we are also watching Larry slowly begin to understand — and accept — himself just as he is.

Let’s rewind a bit. Larry grew up as a gay individual in the 1930s-1940s. At a very young age, he overheard his parents calling him a queer in a derogatory manner. Seemingly after this, he began to force himself into a falsified heterosexual lifestyle, as he states that he met his wife Sheryl in high school and they were “high school sweethearts”. When we see Larry in flashbacks of his accident, it’s 1961, and if we assume he’s 95 in the present day (as Mr. Nobody stated), then he would’ve been around 34-35 at the time of the accident. This means he was with Sheryl for at least fifteen years, and at some point during that time had two children with her. Also at some point during those fifteen years, he met John Bowers, his mechanic, and began an affair with him. He was in love with John but had to keep it a secret in order to maintain the appearance of being heterosexual because the repercussions of being gay in this era were disastrous. It’s heartbreaking; he hid in shame for so many years, refusing to even acknowledge the idea that he was gay during his talks with John.

Doom Patrol (Season one, episode 11, ”Frances Patrol”) / Source: HBO Max

The night before his accident, Larry finds out that John had put in for a discharge and was going to leave. He asked Larry to come with him, and a fight began. This was the culmination of three decades of hiding and ignoring — he was going to have to make a choice. Stay with John, the one he truly loved, and accept himself, or stay with Sheryl and live the rest of his life trying to suppress his real identity. The Negative Spirit saved him in a way that goes beyond simply prolonging his life; it saved him from himself. It saved him from having to choose.

In the first half of season one, Larry was at odds with it. It kept trying to prod him to acknowledge his sexuality by forcing Larry to view videos where Niles talked about John and even connecting his dreams to John’s dreams. Still, however, Larry refused to open up. This being shares everything with Larry — it experiences every memory, thought, and emotion he has. There is nothing he can hide from it, but at first, he was certainly determined to try.

In “Therapy Patrol” the Negative Spirit put Larry in a dream sequence later revealed to be a connected mindscape with a dying John Bowers. In this sequence, he finally admitted his fears out loud to himself, to John, and the Spirit. “You have no idea how hard it was living this way. The lies, the fear, the threat of losing everything if anyone so much as questioned my sexuality.” And John says what everyone — the audience, the Spirit controlling the dream, and perhaps even Larry in his subconscious — is thinking: “You have no idea how long I wanted to hear those words… I wanted you to admit it to yourself.”

After this occurs, Larry is finally able to tell his friends that he’s gay. He even states that he’s sick of torturing himself and finally acknowledges the fact that his relationship with the Spirit was one of cyclical pain and self-loathing. This is the new Larry blossoming — small steps toward acceptance. Steps he would have never taken if the Spirit hadn’t pushed him.

Doom Patrol (Season one, episode 07, ”Therapy Patrol”) / Source: HBO Max

Four episodes later, we find Larry in another dream with John at a secluded motel. They sleep together, and the Spirit inexplicably ends the dream after Larry admits out loud that he was in love with John. He begs it to take him back to the dream, but the Spirit sends him into a different one: a gay bar, where he meets John and asks him if they can leave. He’s still scared, even in a dream, to be seen. Even in a world where it’s just them, Larry is terrified. John tells Larry to take a chance, and when Larry wakes up, he finds that the Spirit had covered his bedroom in sticky notes that formed one word: ERIE. Where he would later find John.

The reunion of John Bowers and Larry Trainor is an incredibly touching one. Larry realizes that while he remained stuck in the past, constantly suffering through memories, John moved on and fell in love with someone else. He sees pictures of them in John’s home; they looked happy together. Peaceful. It’s something Larry could have, too, if he wanted it, and John points this out when he tells Larry to move on from him. And just as John begins to pass away, and the era of Larry’s life filled with repression and discomfort begins to close now that he’s made peace with John, Larry looks down at his chest and tells John that there’s “something inside of him” that he isn’t friends with but that he definitely has a connection to. He walks away from John’s home with his hand over his glowing chest, thanking the Spirit for its help — something he once implied he couldn’t do (“I’m supposed to thank you?” in “Donkey Patrol”). 

After this, his relationship with the Negative Spirit and with himself changes drastically. He tries to sacrifice himself for the Negative Spirit’s freedom, though it chooses Larry over its home and returns to his body. Upon moving out after learning that Niles was the reason for his accident, he spent a lot of time trying to balance the ability to let it fly free with the reality that an extended separation of them would mean his death and excitedly tells Rita that they made it twenty seconds apart before he passed out. He puts his full trust in the Negative Spirit, and in turn, the Negative Spirit dedicates itself to helping him continually heal, even from the one thing he’s still repressing: his family.

Doom Patrol (Season one, episode 11, ”Frances Patrol”) / Source: HBO Max

It shows him his son’s death in the premiere of season two, angering Larry, who says he “left all that long ago”. He goes to the funeral and meets his other son, Paul, who recognizes him by his voice. Later, when he’s alone with Paul, he’s finally, finally able to do something that months ago would have terrified him beyond comprehension: he tells Paul that he’s gay.

This moment is obviously an extremely pivotal point in Larry’s character growth, showing that he has completely made peace with himself and his sexuality. And in a way, this can be seen as another merging — this time of both lives Larry lived. His life of repression and lies merging with his true self and his comfort. His fear transforming into hope. His fragmented identity blurring into one.

Without the Negative Spirit’s presence in his life, he would have never made it to this point. The Negative Spirit is indeed a somewhat indecipherable character since none of the main characters can hear it, and often acts impulsively, but it’s obvious that it cares for Larry and that it wants him to be the best version of himself that he can be, no matter what it takes. It saved Larry in every sense of the word. Hopefully, he will eventually realize this.

Books Comics Film Television Video Games

Star Wars: A Spotter’s Guide to the Legends EU

Star Wars!

A thing we all love and can totally agree on amicably!

While we anxiously await the day that there can be Star Peace, this sprawling franchise has encompassed numerous genres beyond the realms and narratives of space opera. The franchise’s genre-hopping has also spanned over multiple “time periods” throughout the storied history of the Jedi, Skywalkers, and Republic. Branching off into multiple timelines that wove themselves throughout and between the movies into books, video games, and short-form narratives.

The most famous of these timelines being the “Legends Expanded Universe”. The name given to the now-defunct chunk of history that started narratively post-Return of the Jedi which used to sustain us ravenous nerds once we had ruined our VHS tapes of the Special Editions, roving out in search of more love and lightsabers.

So in honor of the GateCrashers Star Wars Celebration (no, not that one), the wise and powerful Jedi Council of GC decided we should talk about our favorite Old EU works! The stories that were too big for movies. Too weird for TV shows. And too horny to be placed anywhere else in the main canon. 

So gather up that Calamari Flan and take a seat at the cantina as we bring you A Spotter’s Guide to the Legends EU!

Star Wars: X-Wing (Book Series)

So we are gonna start with one of the more obvious picks, but one that merits discussion all the same. Michael A. Stackpole’s intensely readable X-Wing series! For my money, one of the few aspects of the Legends EU canon that still holds the fuck up.

Set only two and a half years after the Battle of Endor and the destruction of the second Death Star, the X-Wing series finds Rebellion hero pilot turned New Republic General, Wedge Antillies, building a brand new Rogue Squadron; the legendary fighter wing that took down the first Death Star and provided the fledgling Rebellion with some of its first victories.

But while the logline of the series portends high adventure and blazing set pieces, the X-Wing series delivers much more than just thrills and heroics. While centered around Wedge as the “lead”, the rest of the cast, all ace pilots from across the franchise, all get plenty of time in the spotlight, growing together as a team and experiencing the epic highs and lows of a life on the edge. More than that, Stackpole takes these missions and their stakes deadly seriously, allowing this series to finally function as a raw and real war story, set against the immense backdrop of Star Wars in general.

That means we experience loss almost as much as Rogue Squadron does. We feel their pain and their triumph in a way that the movies never really had the time to focus on. We get smaller stories and scenes of heartbreak even as the larger war against the remains of the Empire marches on. That, I feel, is the real triumph of the X-Wing series. A Series that finally put the “War” into Star Wars.

Genndy Taratakovsky’s Clone Wars (Animated Specials)

This one might be another “no brainer” so bear with me. BUT C’MON! It’s the “original” Clone Wars cartoon! And the superior one, if we are being truly honest with ourselves and The Force. (Editor’s Note: This claim is disputed).

Originally presented as much-hyped short film specials on Cartoon Network/Toonami, these high octane, smartly contained short films gave fans left feeling tepid after The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones the action they so craved. Almost oppressively animated and smartly staged by the fevered mind that gave us Dexter’s Laboratory and Korgoth of Barbaria the shorts became appointment viewing during their original run and garnered all manner of critical praise for their rough and tumble action movie approach to Star Wars.

Sure, the final movie they heralded turned out to be kind of a snooze (though I’ll admit Revenge of the Sith is my favorite Prequel DO NOT @ ME). But the anime-inspired shorts still hold the hell up. Beyond just the sheer kinetic fun of the series throughout, you can tell the production staff had a real blast filtering Star Wars through all sorts of action/samurai movie riffs. Not to mention it serves as the stage to introduce many fan-favorite characters to the animated world, such as Asajj Ventress, the dreaded Durge, Kit Fisto, and literally dozens more. They even have been given somewhat of a renaissance here lately thanks to Disney+’s latest addition of the series to their “Star Wars Vintage ” collection.

Though pretty much all of the series’ stories have been wiped away by the new Clone Wars cartoons, I am still happy to live in a universe where I can queue up a whole bloody cartoon of seeing some of my favorite Jedi and Clone Troopers fighting breathlessly through the galaxy, not a single episode of a droid being kidnapped in sight.

The Star Wars: Jedi Knight Series (Video Games)

Probably the entries on this list I feel the most connected to, LucasArts’ Jedi Knight games deliver pretty much exactly what is said on the tin. And therein lies the real fun!

Set roughly between the years directly after Return of the Jedi into the opening years of Luke’s New Jedi Order (more on THEM in a bit), players usually find themselves playing as Kyle Katarn. The Legends canon’s acerbic mixture of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. A character that I lovingly refer to as a “Trash Jedi”, as he starts as a cocksure padawan, washes out, takes up bounty hunting, and then finally comes back around to being a Jedi, all over the course of the first two games, both thrilling examples of the kind of cinematic shooter early 90s PC games were capable of.

Katarn is a character that recurs a few times throughout the Legends canon and once stood as the closest the series ever got to a Grey Jedi. He is also going to recur a few times in THIS list too, if only to keep me from mentioning Dash Rendar, who is just a straight-up carbon copy of Han with great shoulder pads. I have to give General Calrissian 5 wupiupi every time I mention Dash Rendar so I try to steer clear. 

But probably the best entry in the franchise, along with the most accessible, is Jedi Knight III: Jedi Academy, which finds players taking on the role of a full-fledged EU canon Jedi apprentice, under the tutelage of Kyle and Luke. Players get to visit a number of iconic worlds and choose the path of the New Order or the Cult of Ragnos, a new Sith sect rising to meet the light of Skywalker’s new temple. It is genuinely fun Star Wars nonsense and is stapled to a game that’s surprisingly addicting to play. The lightsaber mechanics feel genuinely devastating when employed correctly and the character development, tied obviously to your moral choices, feels rewarding in a way a lot of modern SW games have yet to crack again.

If you have a Steam account and some time to kill, spin them up! I promise you’ll at least be entertained by the dozens of Stormtroopers you’ll Force fling to their ragdolled, Unreal Engine-powered doom. 

The Bounty Hunter Wars (Book Series)

Long before another War of the Bounty Hunters graced the pages of Marvel Comics, author K.W. Jeter stirred up a whole ‘nother hive of scum and villainy in the Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy.

Set almost directly after Return of the Jedi, this trilogy’s biggest selling point was its promise to return Boba Fett to the saga. In the trilogy’s opening installment, The Mandalorian Armor, Jeter did just that. Just…probably not in the way we were expecting. From that kick-off, we are treated to a rollicking journey through Star Wars’ backwaters and scuzzier locales. One that feels and reads with a much harder edge than the lofty Jedi-focused stories and “blockbuster” efforts like the Thrawn Trilogy.

Better still, Jeter makes great use of the whole toybox of villains provided by Star Wars. Fett, obviously, takes the “marquee” spot but characters like Dengar, Bossk, Zuckuss, and 4-LOM all get rousing set pieces and featured positions throughout the three books, making great use of the book’s focus away from the “Big Three” of Luke, Han, and Leia. Cult-favorite character Prince Xizor, star of the N64’s launch hit Shadows of the Empire, also gets fun featured bits throughout, adding a bit of interconnected flair to the whole affair and adding the Black Sun’s rep to the already ripping yarn.

While relatively low-stakes in relation to the more well-known Legends canon installments, The Bounty Hunter Wars provided the prose with a scummy, pulp novel-esque fun the new books could stand to find a bit more of.

Star Wars: Galaxy of Fear (YA Book Series)

Did y’all know that Star Wars once did a Goosebumps? Did you also know that they fucking rule? Because both of these things are true, I promise.

Set in the weeks after A New Hope, the Galaxy of Fear series, all penned with a ghoulish glee by author John Whitman, follow Force-sensitive twins Tash and Zak Arranda who take up with their mysterious “Uncle” Hoole and his ditzy droid DV-9 after the destruction of their homeworld Alderaan. The pair then ping from one horrifying adventure to the next, trying to stay one step ahead of the Empire and meeting all manner of iconic Star Wars heroes along the way.

And when I say “horrifying” I absolutely mean it. These books are filled to the brim with nightmare fuel like flesh-eating Dark Force-powered zombies of long-dead Jedi and a whole race of aliens that are just brains in jars that walk on mechanized spider legs. THESE WERE FOR CHILDREN. 

While the clear R.L. Stein inspiration is an obvious draw, this series also stands up as a competently structured YA saga. All the books are accessible enough on their own, but they reward repeat readers with touchstones to the past books and are armed with a truly driving, morally poignant central narrative that carries it across the whole way. 

The cameos don’t hurt either. I won’t lie at the surface level glee at reading about Dr. Evazan being a part of basically the Imperial Thule Society or Dash Rendar (dank FARRIK, another 5 wupiupi for Lando…) ferrying children through a casino ship overtaken by a homicidal AI. But I think Galaxy of Fear offers a lot more than just basic thrills and chills, especially if you like your Star Wars to be a little more genre flavored. And A LOT more koo-koo bananas

Star Wars: Republic Commando (Video Game)

For my galactic credits, one of the best FPS shooters ever made and a personal (not-at-all-pushy) request for the list from Editor Ethan here at the GC Capital Ship. (Editor’s Note: Go read the book series that followed on from the game, they’ll make you cry).

Casting players in the role of “Boss”, the CO of an elite unit of Clone Troopers, LucasArts’ Republic Commando depicts the absolute thick of the Clone Wars’ fighting. Employing the diverse destructive talents of the rest of your squad, the game brings the pitched, gritty fighting of some of the better EU novels and translates it thrillingly onto consoles. 

Sure the campaign is thin compared to today’s standards and the multiplayer lobbies stand empty now (AGENTofASGARD on Xbox Live btw, in case you all wanna take some checkpoints later). But there is a reason it drew comparisons to Halo and the Spec-Ops franchise in reviews upon its release. Its combat mechanics are easy to learn, but challenging to master, and its storytelling, while driving and action-heavy, still makes the time for quiet moments amongst the player and the rest of the cast. All culminating in another stand-out first-person shooter effort amid the Legends EU video game timeline. 

Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars Titles (Comics)

Long before the Galaxy Far, Far Away returned to the House of Ideas and once again bore the Marvel masthead, Dark Horse Comics controlled almost every era of Star Wars. And did a pretty bang-up job with it to boot.

Encompassing everything from the Old Republic to the New Jedi Order, the Dark Horse Comics era of Star Wars was an embarrassment of riches. Starting in the 1990s and even supported along the way by host of The George Lucas Talk Show, George Lucas, the Dark Horse line continually offered up a wide range of Star Wars experiences. Right up until the moment it legally couldn’t anymore.

For fans that wanted stories of the heyday of the Jedi, there were titles like Dawn of the Jedi, Republic, and even a Knights of the Old Republic ongoing series. For readers that wanted stories of the Age of Rebellion and iconic Star Wars heroes, there was a Star Wars ongoing, Rebellion, and even a wonderful X-Wing: Rogue Squadron title, serving as both an adaptation and continuation of the fan-favorite prose series. And even for fans that wanted to move BEYOND all that, they offered many adaptations of famous Legends EU novels, the now-iconic Dark Empire miniseries, and its rousing follow-ups Crimson Empire I-III.

We honestly didn’t know how good we had it. Though the current “Marvel Era” of Star Wars comics have popped in a way I didn’t expect (I would die for Doctor Aphra), I will always remember fondly the time when Dark Horse Comics’ efforts graced my pull-box with just top to bottom FUN (and well-produced) Star Wars comics.

The Jedi Academy Trilogy / I, Jedi / The New Jedi Order (Books)

My final entry is a bit of a cheat, but stick with me, I promise my reasoning is sound. 

One of the most enduring concepts from the Legends EU canon is the New Jedi Order. A brand new generation of Jedi Knights, led by Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, who intends on restoring the Jedi into something new and helpful to the fledgling New Republic. This kicks off properly in 1994’s Jedi Search by Kevin J. Anderson, a frequent and ironclad name on any discount Sci-Fi fiction table. 

This trilogy opener really swings for the fences. It’s weird and fussy and very, very focused on establishing the flavor of Luke’s new class of Jedi. But best of all, it feels like it’s also very intent on pushing forward Star Wars canon thus far. Shaped by the success of the Thrawn trilogy and some of the other standalone books, Anderson and company start to really knuckle down and grow the universe out, dragging a lot of icons along the way. And even introducing a few of his own with the debut of the Solo Twins, Jacen and Jaina

This expansion also starts to bleed well into the standalone books too! One of Anderson’s later efforts, I, Jedi, for example. In this single volumed tale that takes place concurrently with the new trilogy, we are introduced to Corran Horn. He’s a former member of Rogue Squadron and one of the galaxy’s first new Force-sensitives. In the chaos of the ending war, Horn’s wife is kidnapped and visions of her haunt his life. Turns out, those visions are Force powered and Horn resolves himself to speed through Jedi training with Luke in order to save her. Even if he has to turn to the Dark Side to do it.

Mixing the military action of the X-Wing series and the high weirdness of the Jedi Academy Trilogy, I, Jedi finds the Legends EU bearing expansion very well while also making great use of the myriad of genres one can explore through the lens of Star Wars. It’s exciting and raw and immensely re-readable, even after all these years.

This expansion comes to a head 25 years ABY (After the Battle of Yavin) in the proper debut of the New Jedi Order. 1999’s Vector Prime from the legendary R.A. Salvatore, the man who gave us Drizzit Do’Urden. Picking up with Jania, Mara Jade Skywalker, and other Legends EU staples, this series that sustained the Legends EU until the very day it stopped is just pure fun from start to finish.

The new generation of Jedi are thriving and the galaxy is in a healthy flux. But when a new and wholly unconventional threat called the Yuuzhan Vong make themselves known coupled with reports of rogue Jedi taking the law into their own hands on the Outer Rim, our new Jedi Council is forced into a deadly game they may not even know the rules to.

It all culminates in a thrilling, but meticulously staged collection of Star Wars stories. Ones that both honor the spirit of the original movies and push the franchise into different, challenging, and unexpected places.


Hear some of you grousing already, I can.

“What about the Black Fleet Crisis?!” “No love for Thrawn?!” “Y NO SPLINTER OF THE MIND’S EYE!?”

To which I reply, that’s the beauty of the Legends EU! It contained so much and employed all manner of genre riffs that any one of you could make a wholly different list and it wouldn’t necessarily be “wrong”!

The Legends Expanded Universe canon may have been pruned, TVA style, once the new movie trilogy was announced. But that doesn’t lessen its power much. Nor does it detract from the new line of novels and tie-ins produced in the wake of these new movies.

It’s all still there, in libraries and bookstores used and new all over the world, should anybody want it. I think that’s pretty crikkin’ neat. It doesn’t make it any “better” than the new books, comics, and video games. It just makes it always THERE for us. Either in their original prints or in the new reprints popping up on shelves, provided by the good folks at Del Ray.

Just like how A Galaxy Far, Far Away always is. No matter the incarnation. That matters. Then, now, and forever.

Godspeed, Rebels.


The Definitive Rankings of Scooby-Doo on TV

Everyone knows Scooby-Doo. Everyone has their own special version of the show they grew up with and appreciates different things about it. Maybe you love the gothic look, or the musical chase scenes, or the slapstick comedy, or maybe Daphne because she’s literally god. In my case, I binged the franchise last year and watched all 15 shows and 46 movies. And in doing that, I discovered that I’m basically cursed. I’m physically unable to completely dislike anything about Scooby-Doo. I would even watch those shows and movies that I rarely enjoyed again, by the pure fact that they are part of the franchise. And since I can’t escape my eternal obsession with the talking dog and the geeks that solve mysteries, I thought I might as well do something with it. So this time, I’m going to rank all current 15 runs of Scooby-Doo.

15. The Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo Show

I didn’t really have the best of times watching this show. It’s the second season since Scrappy-Doo’s first appearance, and they decided to change most everything. There was no Daphne, no Velma, nor Fred in sight, and the remaining members of the mystery gang, Shaggy, Scooby, and Scrappy were just out in the world doing their thing. They didn’t solve mysteries, but encountered real monsters, like a witch that turns Shaggy into a frog. At this point, Scrappy started to become a walking catch-phrase, and I don’t mean like Velma losing her glasses. In a 7 minutes’ episode, you would hear Scrappy say the same catch-phrase more than five times. So you either love it or you start to question what you’re doing with your life. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but if you like zany cartoons from the 80s with a short runtime, maybe it’s the right thing for you. 

14. The Scooby & Scrappy-Doo Puppy Hour

There’s not much to say about this show, it keeps the same format as the one mentioned above. But it does bring some change. It introduces Yabba-Doo, Scooby’s brother, and the companion of a deputy in a town that seems out of the old west. He appears only exclusively with Scrappy in episodes where Shaggy and Scooby are left out. As I said, there’s not that many changes, but the little there is makes for a nice change of pace when watching it. 

13. Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!

This is the second show after the hiatus that ended with What’s New, Scooby-Doo? and since that one was a pretty by-the-books modernization of the classic formula, they wanted to do something different with Get a Clue. This time, Shaggy and Scooby are alone again. Shaggy inherits a mansion from one of his various uncles, a scientist millionaire, who disappeared mysteriously. That sounds like a nice, normal setup for Scooby-Doo, right? Well, in the first episode they discover that Shaggy’s uncle is hiding somewhere because a secret, evil organization that wants to destroy the world is looking for him. So the hippie and the talking dog go on quests with the most random gadgets you could think of, and Scooby snacks that give Scooby powers, trying to defeat the evil organization. So yeah, pretty different. If for some reason you ever wanted a campy spy story mixed with Scooby-Doo, this should be the holy grail for you. 

12. The New Scooby-Doo Movies

This is the second Scooby-Doo show, and keeping things on brand, they already changed a lot from the original. The gimmick of this one is that while they solve mysteries, they have guest stars. Those guests can be actors or even fictional characters. And to be honest, I think how much you’re going to like each episode depends on who’s in it. I loved the Batman episodes, but a lot of actors just didn’t do it for me. In part because of their type of comedy that just didn’t click with me, and in part because of the generational gap that made me not know most of them. Also, instead of 20 minutes, the runtime is 40 minutes, and for me, it dragged on several occasions. But it does give the sense that Scooby-Doo is just another Hollywood TV show that you could even watch the behind-the-scenes of, and that’s really cool. 

11. The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show

After the success of the Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo format started to decrease to a point where The Scooby & Scrappy-Doo Puppy Hour was canceled after only one season, the production team decided to bring a couple of things back from the original format. The runtime was now 11 minutes, Scrappy was toned down, they were back to solving mysteries (although still facing real monsters sometimes), and more importantly, Daphne was back in the gang. Her presence changes the group dynamic for the better, serving as a contrast for Shaggy and Scooby’s cowardice but also for the hot-headed nature of Scrappy. And besides, Daphne is the best character from the mystery gang, so if someone had to be back, I’m glad it was her. 

10. The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries

This keeps the format from The New Scooby & Scrappy-Doo Show, but it has one of the weirdest 80s intros that you can encounter, sung by Shaggy, so it’s instantaneously better. It also has double-part episodes where Velma and Fred are allowed to appear again, and it’s revealed that Velma has discovered water on Mars and Fred has been writing mystery books. It really feels like a reunion after so much time since they left, especially since in those shows, time has passed and the gang members are no longer teenagers in high school. If I ever want to watch Scooby-Doo in short bits, this is definitely what I’ll choose. 

9. The Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo Show

The first appearance of one of the most infamous characters in TV history; Scrappy-Doo. His behind-the-scenes creation was basically hell on earth for the creative team, and until this day he’s so hated that the current shows and movies avoid mentioning his existence, and if they do, it’s for a joke where he’s the punchline. But If I’m being honest, Scrappy’s great. He’s cute and the admiration he has for his uncle is too wholesome for me to not like him. He plays well with the rest of the personalities in the gang and it’s a welcomed change of pace after the same formula for 3 shows. 

8. Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?

The most recent Scooby show that just ended its run with three seasons. As What’s New was a modernization of Where Are You, Scooby-Doo, Guess Who serves as a modern approach to The New Scooby-Doo Movies. And I think it does a great job. Some of the celebrities still don’t work for me at all, and there’s some I still have no idea who they are, but it normally has great guests that work incredibly well with the Mystery Gang. The runtime is the run-of-the-mill 20 minutes that I think it’s perfect for the show so it never drags, and it has what is probably the most perfect art style for a modern view of the classic designs.

7. What’s New, Scooby-Doo?

Released in 2002, What’s New was the first Scooby-Doo show since 1991, the longest hiatus in the franchise’s run. While it was made because of the success of the Zombie Island tetralogy, it decided to go in a completely different direction. Just from the presentation, it’s a big departure from the previous incarnations, changing the art style, some of the designs, and especially the shift of going from traditional to digital animation. The formula is exactly like the original, especially the second season of Where Are You, musical chase scenes and all. The technology and mysteries are a bit more out there, and the horror elements that could be found, especially in the backgrounds, were toned down a lot. If the original series was a product of the 60s, this is very evidently a product of the 00s. It even has Simple Plan and Smash Mouth in it!

6. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo

This run marks the first time the hometown of the gang is established as Coolsville, and it takes place when they’re around ten years old. They hang around in their treehouse, waiting for mysteries to solve exclusively in the city. This series can be thanked for a lot of characterization that has stayed with the characters to this day, like the dumbness of Fred. It also came back to the original formula after so many runs without mysteries or with real monsters (Although it features one single friendly ghost in one episode). The art style sets itself apart from previous shows not only in the character designs but in the background art, which is a lot more whimsical and less gothic-inspired. This is definitely the gang at their cutest, with a tiny Velma that loves to hug Scooby, and with very cartoony dances during the chase scenes. 

5. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? 

Is there a more classic show than the first iteration of Scooby-Doo? I think the perfect word to describe it is “charming”. From the very first episode, the elements of the show would click perfectly with viewers even half a century later. Shaggy and Scooby running from the monsters, the recollection of clues, the costumed villains that go from a wax monster to just a person with a sheet over their head, the intrinsically gothic and especially atmospheric backgrounds, everything combines to make a really weird pitch that wouldn’t be expected to work as well as it does, and not only was a success, but a cultural phenomenon that would spawn one of the most successful and recognizable franchises of all time. 

4. The Scooby-Doo Show

This is the definition of the phrase “If it’s ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If it wasn’t for the intro, and the slightly, almost unnoticeably better animation, it would be the same as the first run. And if you ever watched the classic episode, it’s highly possible that you confused some of these episodes and thought they belonged to Where Are You. It’s exactly the same, but in my opinion, has some villains that I prefer, like The 10,000-volt ghost, The Mad Doctor,and The Disc Demon (Who also has what is probably my favorite intro for any monster in the franchise).

3. The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo

Definitely one of the most distinguishable runs of Scooby-Doo, and the last appearance of Scrappy to date. It starts when Shaggy and Scooby are tricked by two ghosts to open the Chest of Demons, releasing 13 ghosts that will destroy the world. Obligated to travel around the world trying to trap them again, the gang takes a very different shape this time around, with Shaggy, Scooby, Scrappy, Daphne, and two new members: Flim Flam, an orphan kid that tries to scam everyone and serves as a companion to Scrappy; and the one and only Vincent Van Ghoul, a wizard thousands of years old, who is voiced by, and based both in name and appearance on horror icon Vincent Price. The show can get pretty weird, with the gang entering a cursed town where the residents turn into werewolves, or being sucked into a comic book, and it tries to have as much fun as it can with each one. 

2. Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!

The most controversial Scooby-Doo show. Although, much of the controversy is created by people that didn’t watch it, sadly. Be Cool is very distinct in its design, something that put people off ever since they were first shown it. But they work perfectly on their own and especially within the context of the show, which goes for a more comedic tone than ever before (and for now, after too), being one of the funniest shows I’ve watched. It doesn’t even try to be funny, it’s just ingrained in its DNA. The timing is always perfect, also deciding to play with the classic sequences under their own rules. But it’s not like comedy is everything it has going for it. It also knows how to handle horror elements incredibly well, with an episode that makes homage to Psycho that has authentic suspense and horror in it. And the characters are certainly unique, having the foundations made by previous iterations but modeled to be something of its own, even having the most distinct, and maybe even my favorite version of Daphne, who’s totally unhinged in this.

1. Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated!

Mystery Incorporated is what happens when you combine David Lynch’s Twin Peaks with Scooby-Doo. While there are a lot of movies, shows, and games that try to be like Twin Peaks, Mystery Inc. does it notoriously well, all without feeling forced. Maybe because the resources were already there, they just needed to be put in that direction. 

The characters are taken to their maximum weirdness. The mystery, instead of being auto-conclusive with each episode, spans over the whole series, and there’s a general feeling of things not being quite right. For example, there’s an episode where the gang goes to interrogate a victim that was left in the hospital by a monster, and while he’s talking, he has a heart attack because of the trauma. But then we see the gang leave the room while his heart stops, and doctors enter with urgency, and their only reaction is Daphne thanking him and Fred saying that “It was a good question and answer session” with total calmness. Almost like there are two realities that are happening at once, and you just gotta accept it. 

But it’s not just great for resembling other existing things, I used the Twin Peaks comparison to better explain how it feels to watch the show, but it’s absolutely great on its own merit. The mystery is extremely engaging from the first episode, which creates an atmosphere of weariness, like nothing in the town is what it seems. But probably the most important thing in the series is the characters, and the main cast does not disappoint. Each one has their own character arc, even Scooby-Doo himself, that makes the writing of the show shine at its brightest. They’re not only great character arcs for Scooby-Doo, which if we’re being honest, it’s not that much of a challenge, but they’re great character arcs in general. And the supporting cast is amazing too, with every side character feeling unique and weird in the best way possible. 

Mystery Incorporated is not only the best Scooby-Doo show, but one of the best shows in general that you can find. And It’s also proof of how limitless the franchise is. I firmly believe that there is a type of Scooby-Doo for everyone, and that’s because the production team behind the show always tried to do things differently than before. And even though a lot of people complain when changes are made, like the recent outrage with the HBO Max show Velma, Scooby-Doo is always at its best when it tries to reinvent itself, believing in its potential but also appreciating what can be found at the core. 

Comics Television

Lucifer: The King of Hell Returns

Can you guess who’s hard to kill? The Devil. Luci-fans, Luci-stans, but never Luci-furries, we welcome you back to Season 5b of Lucifer! He’s been to hell and back (literally), and that doesn’t include a Fox cancellation and Netflix resurrection, as nothing can keep our neighbor to the deep deep south down. With character adaptation so on point some are led to believe he may be ol’ Scratch himself, Tom Ellis leads the charge into the penultimate season of Lucifer. To get you in the mood for satanic worship, Ashley & RJ are here to give you a rundown on their favorite episodes if you’re a newbie, and when to catch the irresistible Lucifer Morningstar and his detective for the season finale.

If you’re new to the show, we think starting at the beginning is going to give you the best introduction to Lucifer and the people that inhabit his world. Lucifer, the tv show, is an adaptation of a DC comic. The character, created by Neil Gaiman, first showed up in The Sandman #4. Due to his overwhelming popularity, he found himself starring in his own comic. It was formally adapted and transitioned into a FOX program, premiering in January of 2016. In the Pilot episode, Lucifer has a chance meeting with LAPD Detective Chloe Decker when a friend of his is murdered. Lucifer comes with his own set of devilish talents that aid Detective Decker in solving the case, and this episode is the framework for the rest of the series. Lucifer signs on to use his talent of persuading suspects to admit their deepest desires to assist Chloe with her cases.  For our newbies, we’d like to issue a clear SPOILER WARNING: anything going forward may give away important plot points! 

Season 1

RJ – Episode 1: Pilot / A Priest Walks into the Bar
Tough decision out the gate, as I was truly torn between this episode and a later episode entitled “A Priest Walks into a Bar”, but I think this pilot truly mastered the art of purposeful immersion for the audience. Tom Ellis, Lucifer, rolling up to his private nightclub Lux, with this effortless swagger and charm, hell, even I thought he WAS the devil. Exploring his ‘daddy-issues’ from day one, introducing his catchphrase ‘What is it you truly desire?’, and most importantly, establishing a believable connection to his partner (double entendre intended) Chloe Decker. This episode turned me from Luci-skeptic to Luci-fan and I would come back for Luci-more (okay I’m done.) 

Ashley – Episode 1: Pilot / A Priest Walks into the Bar
I LOVE PILOT EPISODES. Doesn’t matter what it is, I always go back and rewatch pilots, and Lucifer is no exception. There’s something special about knowing where a show eventually goes, and then returning to its humble beginnings. This episode introduces us to all the major players like Chole, Mazikeen, Dr. Linda, Amenadiel, and Detective Douche (sorry Dan). Chloe and Lucifer meet and work together to find the killer of a fading pop star. This episode is pretty low stakes, but it does a stellar job showing us what the future holds. 

Season 2

RJ – Episode 13 / A Good Day to Die
Chloe Decker is poisoned and Lucifer must return to hell to learn the antidote from “The Professor”, who had subsequently poisoned Chloe in the previous episode before his own demise. Now, just imagining Lucifer travelling back to the home he had fled, only to return to it as a means to torture The Professor’s damned soul, all in the hopes of saving his detective, I mean, that’s enough right there. But, like Loren Allred says it’s “Never Enough, Never Never”, as this episode approaches an emotion we all know too well, guilt. For it is guilt, like cement shoes, that ground us and prevent some of us from moving on, and in this case, almost prevent Lucifer himself from returning to the land of the living and saving his partner. Won’t spoil much more, but damn, this onion of an episode has layers. 

Ashley – Episode 6 / Monster
If there’s anything I love more than a pilot, it’s a holiday episode! This Halloween special opens with a zombie themed wedding turned deadly. Lucifer’s on the prowl after everything that went down with Uriel (who was played by the fantastic Michael Imperioli) and Chloe is doing her best to keep him on task to solve the murder. Highlights include Mazikeen trying to take Chloe’s daughter, Trixie, trick-or-treating. Who doesn’t want a demon being their candy guide?

Season 3

RJ – Episode 13 / Til Death Do Us Part
Lucifer and Marcus Pierce, AKA Cain (the biblical one), AKA Smallville’s Superman himself Tom Welling, are forced to live undercover as husband and husband in a cul de sac suburbia to get to the bottom of their current case. Aside from the two of them being just an amazingly handsome couple, Welling and Ellis do a SUPERB job as their acting chemistry carry this entire episode. Even if you watch it solely for their fake wedding photo in the tropics, I may also instruct you to listen carefully as Lucifer mentions he intends on figuring out Pierce’s Kryptonite, which, I mean, c’mon, somebody save me. 

Ashley – Episode 24 / A Devil of My Word
Dan is reeling from the loss of Charlotte Richards, and everyone finally comes to terms with the identity of the Sinnerman. It’s time to take down Pierce, but it’s pretty hard to do that when he’s constantly lurking at the precinct. Where this episode really shines is the last ten minutes. For three seasons, Lucifer has been open with Chloe about the fact that he’s the devil. He’s never shied away from sharing his truth with her. But true to her nature, she hasn’t been able to accept that a lick of what comes out of his mouth is true. Up until this point, they’ve been at an impasse; Chloe just accepting that Lucifer believes what he says is true. Everything finally comes to a head, just as Chloe and Lucifer walk into a trap set by Pierce. To protect the Detective, Lucifer will do anything. This show of selflessness earns him back his wings, and for fans, this scene is squeal inducing. The takedown of Pierce and his thugs by a bloodied Lucifer donning angel wings is everything, and Chloe finally glimpsing Lucifer’s devil face changes their dynamic forever.

Season 4

RJ – Episode 7 / Devil is as Devil Does
The 4th season was not my favorite, and you’ve stuck with me this long, so I’m not in the business of lying to you. Regardless, there were still great episodes, and this is probably the best. Plot wise, there’s going on, Ameniadiel trying to protect his child, Linda and Maze becoming close, Dan is still adrift at his loss and finds comfort in Ella, but most importantly, Lucifer is starting to look like the Lucifer of old. Lucifer has resorted to his use of strength and anger to get what he needs while investigating this case. Chloe becomes concerned and eventually we see Lucifer wade his way back to doing things by the new book, not the old one. Let me be frank, I was never a fan of the Eve storyline, BUT, symbolically, the idea that Eve has become the snake in the garden, trying to lure Lucifer away from Chole…I see what they did there. Even with all that, my favorite part of this episode resides in the final moments. Lucifer, horrified by his behavior calls on Dr. Linda to find out why the worst has happened, his wings have returned, DEMON WINGS. Watching Tom Ellis convey this overwhelming lunacy the scene required, it’s something you need to watch, like NOW!

Ashley – Episode 10 / Who’s da New King of Hell?
As RJ so eloquently stated above, season 4 was not our favorite. While I love Graham McTavish as an actor, I wasn’t a fan of the Father Kinley storyline and didn’t really vibe with the whole Eve arc either. This season 4 finale was a return to everything I love from this show. We open with a giant dance number to Kenny Loggins’ “I’m Alright” and the Devil is feeling himself. Father Kinley becomes the host of a Demon who escaped hell, determined to get his King to return to the throne of the Underworld. McTavish portraying the demon Dromos inhabiting Kinley’s body was so fun to watch, he is such a talented actor. Dromos wreaks havoc on L.A. and forces Lucifer’s hand. I love this episode because Chloe finally comes to terms with Lucifer’s devil features, learning to appreciate every side of him. However, their declarations of love are bittersweet, because Lucifer must return to hell and keep the demons at bay.

Season 5(A)

RJ – Episode 6 / BluBallz
Let me begin with stating the obvious, Our Mojo, is the better episode by far. However, this episode gives us two moments that are much too important to ignore: Dan finally sees Lucifer’s true face (Devil Face), and CHLOE AND LUCIFER HAVE ADULT TIME UNDER THE COVERS! 

Ashley – Episode 7 / Our Mojo
Thats right folks, they FINALLY did it! And afterwards, it appears that Chloe has stolen Lucifer’s mojo! She’s now able to compel him to expose his deepest desires, and Lucifer is rattled. They pay a little visit to Dr. Linda for some couples therapy to get to the heart of their sharing issues. Aside from the emotional drama, there’s a serial killer on the loose and the gang is hard pressed to find who’s responsible before another body turns up. This episode ranks as one of my favorites because we finally make some emotional headway between Chloe and Lucifer. Their dynamic is the driving force behind this show, and it’s far and few between when they’re on the same page emotionally. Leave it to Dan to come in during the last moments of this episode and rain bullets on our joy.

As much fun as this has been to write about, it has unfortunately stirred the two of us to give up on our current spare time activities (Ashley just finished reading People We Meet on Vacation and RJ is starting Six of Crows) and take up binging more than 60 hours of Lucifer! Netflix drops Lucifer Season 5b Friday May 28th and Season 6 is due out sometime late 2021/early 2022. So, don’t be a Detective Douche, put on that adult diaper and grab the snacks because this is what you TRULY DESIRE.

Comics Film Television

The Undoing of WandaVision

The below article contains spoilers for WandaVision.

WandaVision is one of the best shows of the year. It follows Marvel’s Wanda Maximoff and The Vision as they navigate life through a strange world of various sitcoms from across the ages, from the ’50s to present-day mockumentaries. A well-acted drama with a huge budget and a very intriguing and engaging premise, WandaVision was well on its way to being my personal best show of the year. That was until the very last episode where the awesome setup and conflicts didn’t pay off that well. I would even say the show shied away from the greatness it was showing.

Marvel had done an awesome job crafting an intriguing mystery, all the while creating a compelling drama about grief and loss. The only problem was closing the deal. The downside of the Marvel mold of filmmaking reared its head, the company had gotten so used to having a clear good and bad guy that they brought upon themselves a major problem come the finale. The show had an awesome villain, Mephisto. Just kidding. No, the great big bad of WandaVision was Wanda herself, not Agatha, not Hayward, Wanda. And this had amazing potential, the only issue was the writers and the show itself didn’t seem to realize it, or, they did realize and tried to cast others in a more negative light and walk back on that choice.

They had us with “Agatha All Along”, except It wasn’t. Agatha was maybe right, her only flaw was trying to steal Wanda’s powers (well, and threatening her kids), but Wanda kidnaped hundreds of people and tortured them for weeks. Should Wanda really be in charge of such power? In the final episode the directing, writing, and narrative choices seem to make a concerted effort to state that If there was a villain, it was not Wanda. But the truth is, no matter how we slice it, Wanda was the one who kidnapped an entire town and traumatized them.

Having Hayward be a sneaky villain makes no sense. The United States government wanting a powerful weapon like Vision is incredibly on-brand, no need to be sneaky about it. And more importantly, Wanda taking over the town pretty much gives him carte blanch, his being sneaky and duplicitous makes no sense. Lastly, and sadly for me, the biggest victim of these story decisions was sadly Monica Rambeau. Monica was a pretty cool and interesting character. Initially our guide into this world, who was trying to figure things out right alongside us, the audience. But after a while, she became fixated on Wanda and not the many victims in The Hex. Even when it became clear Wanda was the cause of it all, she didn’t have any wariness of her. It was particularly odd of Monica to absolve Wanda. How does Hayward stealing Vision’s body make him a bigger villain than Wanda? I still like Monica but hopefully she gets treated better in future instalments of the MCU. Regardless, wandavision is a great show but that last episode held it back from becoming a truly fantastic entry in the MCU.

By Bolu Ayeye.

Comics Television

Invincible – A Review

The hit 2003 Image comic Invincible by Robert Kirkman has been adapted into an animated series by Amazon Studios, starring a star-studded voice cast of Sandra Oh, Steven Yeun, Zazie Beats, J.K. Simmons, and more. 

The show stars Mark Nolan (Steven Yeun) as he tries to live up to the superhero legacy of the world’s most powerful superhero Omni-Man, who comes from an alien race called the Viltrumites (a thinly veiled superman pastiche), who as the show goes, on is revealed to be not all he seems. While Mark is excited that his power have started to emerge, he discovers being a superhero isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be (much like Spider-Man), he still has to balance personal relationships and his responsibilities as a high school student. It’s fun seeing him try and juggle all this.

The cast of characters are likeable and have great personalities. From mysterious government agencies that monitor and regulate heroes that both Mark, Omni-Man and other heroes work with, Mark’s mum, Debbie, to his regular human friends and his colourful and growing cast of super-villains; who range from somewhat comical to frighteningly powerful, clever and dangerous. Watching Mark trying to navigate them all is a rewarding, but very stressful journey filled with highs and lows and a shocking but amazing season finale to cap it off.

Season 1 ends with an awesome world expanding montage that gets us geared and excited for the future (the show is already renewed for a 2nd and 3rd season) and I am super buzzed about it. The show has great drama but also brutally awesome action. The superpowers on display are awesome, but it shows just how devastated regular human beings would be if they were exposed to them. Heck, even super-powered beings get the short end of the stick when dealing with powers, and if you’re squeamish about blood and gore this show might not be for you.

The show isn’t perfect, sometimes time moves too fast. Some of the animation at times isn’t smooth, and environments can feel a bit bland at times, but it doesn’t necessarily hold Invincible back from a great and memorable first season.

Amazon has carved a niche with darker and more mature superhero shows. If you loved The Boys and Spider-Man, this is the perfect show for you.

By Bolu Ayeye.


Doctor Who: A Beginner’s Guide to Time Travel Pt. 2

We’re back! For you, it’s been 7 days, for Ethan and Justin, a mere few seconds. That’s the beauty of time travel. We hope you enjoyed last week’s recommendations. This week we’ll give you a look at adventures from Doctors 5, 6, 7, and 8. We’ll give you two stories from each Doctor’s era. One chosen by Ethan, one by Justin. These will be a look at the kind of stories that encompass the era they’re from. We want to give you a distilled experience of what each Doctor is like so you can decide what best fits your tastes. So here we go. Let’s take a trip into the Vortex!

The 5th Doctor – Peter Davison (1981-1984)

“When did you last have the pleasure of smelling a flower, watching a sunset, eating a well-prepared meal? For some people, small, beautiful events are what life is all about!” – The 5th Doctor (Earthshock)

  • Earthshock (Ethan’s Pick) – One of the most famous stories of the classic era. Chiefly for showing the Doctor actually lose. How and what does he lose? Well, I’m not telling. You’ll need to watch to find out. What I will tell you though is this is where Peter Davison comes into his own as the Doctor, showing he has the steely nerve of an action hero behind the brave heart he wears on his sleeve. Assisted by an unusually large TARDIS team, the Doctor comes up against his old enemies the Cybermen, returning to the show for the first time in 7 years. They are plotting to wipe out the Earth, but what else is new? For an action-packed ride of a story with a heartbreaking ending, this is the one for you. Just make sure to bring some tissues.
  • The Caves of Androzani (Justin’s Pick) – The platonic ideal of a “regeneration episode”. Landing on the backwater planet Androzani Minor, the Fifth Doctor and companion Peri Brown are just looking for a little galactic R&R. But when they are mistaken for a pair of gun runners, arrested, and exposed to a deadly toxin native to Androzani, the Doctor must sacrifice everything to save his friend and Androzani Minor. Displaying a ticking dread and tension the classic era never really displayed before, and only in a couple instances after, viewers are forced to watch arguably the noblest Doctor basically die across the whole serial, fighting the effects of the toxin while still attempting a brave face for his friends. A fitting (and very in-character) end for Peter Davison while also delivering a stirringly contained example for “regeneration” episodes for years to come. 

The 6th Doctor – Colin Baker (1984-1986)

“Planets come and go. Star perish. Matter disperses, coalesces, forms into other patterns, other worlds. Nothing can be eternal.” – The 6th Doctor (The Mysterious Planet)

  • Vengeance on Varos (Justin’s Pick) – Do ya like Doctor Who? Do ya like 2000AD? Well, what if I told you there is basically a whole ass 2000AD prog ABOUT the Doctor? That’s basically Vengeance on Varos in a nutshell. Freshly regenerated, the Doctor is looking to repair his TARDIS. And the only place he can find a rare element to do so is on the planet Varos, a grubby little world that is obsessed with its televised state executions framed as reality TV. Alongside providing the show one of its weirdest cult favorite monsters, Vengeance on Varos is a nasty bit of future shock that feels right at home during the Colin Baker era. 
  • Revelation of the Daleks (Ethan’s Pick) – The Doctor and Peri take a trip to the planet Necros to visit the funeral home Tranquil Repose. There they discover Daleks doing some truly horrific experiments on the dead for their creator, Davros. A dark, brooding tale full of death and destruction that stands as Colin Baker’s only on-screen encounter with the Doctor’s greatest enemies. Check this out if you’re looking for a story that encapsulates the Doctor’s relationship with the Daleks during this era of the show.

The 7th Doctor – Sylvester McCoy (1987-1989, 1996)

“There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea’s asleep, and the rivers dream; people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice, and somewhere else the tea’s getting cold. Come on Ace. We’ve got work to do.” – The 7th Doctor (Survival)

  • Battlefield (Justin’s Pick) – A stone-cold classic of an episode. Materializing in the English countryside, the Doctor and Ace find a UNIT convoy in trouble. While transporting a nuclear weapon for disposal, the convoy comes under attack from the forces of Morgane Le Fey, who is after more than just the convoy’s payload. Complicating matters is the body of King Arthur in the lake and why does Le Fey keep calling the Doctor “Merlin”? That’s just the TIP of the iceberg for this jam-packed episode. 
  • The Curse of Fenric (Ethan’s Pick) – A unique story in the history of the show, this was filmed entirely on location, giving the events that transpire a rather cinematic feel unlike any other from the show’s original run. The Doctor and Ace arrive at a seaside village during the height of World War 2 and quickly become embroiled in a tale of vampires, Russian heroes, and corrupted British soldiers. But in the shadows is an old enemy of the Doctor’s, looking to finish a game centuries in the making. For a story that shows the Doctor at his most Machievlian, you can’t go wrong with this.

The 8th Doctor – Paul McGann (1996, 2013)

“You feel that pounding in your heart? That tightness in the pit of your stomach? The blood rushing to your head do you know what that is? That’s adventure. The thrill and the fear, and the joy of stepping into the unknown. That’s why we’re all here, and that’s why we’re alive!” – The 8th Doctor (Storm Warning)

  • The TV Movie (Justin’s Pick) – the thought of “American” Doctor Who might be dubious, to say the least, but that doesn’t make the TV Movie any less interesting. Produced as a co-production between the BBC and American studio Fox, the TV Movie was intended to be a brand new relaunch for the show. While transporting the ashes of the Master back to Gallifrey, the Seventh Doctor is killed by an errant gunshot, regenerating under the care of a Dr. Grace Holloway. Unfortunately, the Master too gets another life and new Doctor Paul McGann and his new American companion must defeat the Master and recover the Doctor’s TARDIS before certain doom. Cheesy, sure, but immensely charming thanks to McGann’s infectious energy and a stately new take on our favorite Time Lord. After this adventure, Paul McGann only got one more televised story as the Doctor, which will be mentioned below. However, what he, and we the audience, did get was a slew of incredible full-cast audio adventures from the good folk over at Big Finish Productions. We’re planning a much more extensive look at these in a future article. But for now, if you do find yourself enjoying these couple of stories with the 8th Doctor, then rest assured there’s much more out there than first appears.
  • The Night of the Doctor (Ethan’s Pick) – Nearly 20 years since his first appearance, Paul McGann got to return to our screens to close the loop on his Doctor’s life. Bringing along the experience of hundreds of audio stories he’s performed in the meantime. McGann’s Doctor is very different, war ravaged, beaten down, alone, but still the same man at heart. He packs a hell of a punch in less than 10 minutes, showing he deserved many more adventures on our screen than he got.

And that’s it for now. Let us know if you check out any of our recommendations, and make sure to come back next week for even more!

Books Television

Exploring the Grishaverse Before Shadow and Bone

Netflix has once again traversed the stacks of the library to adapt its next big-budget fantasy adventure. They’ve set their sights on Leigh Bardugo’s New York Time’s bestselling trilogy series, Shadow and Bone – as well as incorporating her later books, the Six of Crows Duology. If you’re like me, then the book was better. Yes, I know I haven’t actually watched the series yet (and believe me, I’m excited!) – but I’ll fall on this sword. The book is ALWAYS better. If you’re a newbie to Bardugo’s Grishaverse, and you’re looking to catch up on the book series before devouring the TV adaptation, then this is the article for you. I’m here to help you understand the magic system, and figure out which order you should be reading the books in (because yes, there are quite a few of them at this point). 

To understand Shadow and Bone’s world, one must first understand The Grisha. The Grisha are a group of people born in the countries that inhabit the world of these books. They practice The Small Science, which is essentially being able to manipulate elements and the human body, depending upon which order you belong to. In Ravka, one of the countries within the series, children are tested for Grisha abilities. If they’re identified with a capacity for The Small Science, they are are sent to The Little Palace to live and train under the direction of The Darkling, eventually joining Ravka’s Second Army (the first Army is for non-Grisha). Being a Grisha sounds great on paper, but they’re often outcasts. Ravka is one of the only countries that trains Grisha to reach their potential, though the power-free population is weary of them. In other countries outside of Ravka, Grisha are hunted, sold, or experimented on; often hiding their power for fear they’ll be discovered. The Grisha are broken up into three groups: Corporalki, Etherealki, and Materialki. And dear reader, just to make things simpler for you, I’ve made a handy chart explaining what each group specializes in:

What sets Bardugo’s universe apart from other YA fantasy fare is the Russian/Eastern European inspired settings. Her imagined countries within the Grisha books are characters themselves. You can feel the grit of war-torn Ravka, the permafrost of Fjerda crunching under your boots and the limitless possibilities available in a city like Ketterdam, found in prosperous Kerch. All roads to these places begin at Shadow and Bone. This is the first book in the series and introduces us to our heroine, Alina Starkov, a refugee orphan of Ravka’s endless wars. Alina finds kinship in Mal, a boy living in her orphanage and the story follows them further into young adulthood. Shadow and Bone is the setup; we watch Alina go from a nobody with nothing to… well… without ruining the story, somebody. We are also introduced to one of my favorite fantasy villains – I’m keeping this spoiler free, so no names! But I can say Bardugo writes such a multi-faceted baddie, that you find yourself empathizing with them. To complete the arc of Alina’s story and see if she succeeds in aiding the Grisha, you should follow up Shadow and Bone with Siege and Storm and close out with Ruin and Rising

I enjoyed the Shadow and Bone Trilogy; they lay some exceptional ground work for future books. And while I strongly suggest that you start at the beginning, I’d be lying if I told you I began my Grisha journey there. I’d heard a lot of hype around a book called Six of Crows. Naturally, I picked it up and oh my, it was EVERYTHING. Six of Crows is a separate story taking place in the same world as Shadow and Bone. You do not – I repeat – DO NOT have to read the first trilogy before picking up Six of Crows. Nevertheless, you will have to make peace with the fact that the ending of the Shadow and Bone trilogy will be ruined for you. Six of Crows is to this day one of my favorite books. It’s a rag tag team pulling off an unthinkable heist – gleefully blowing stuff up and taking down oppressors. This story is a two-parter, so when you’re finished make sure you pick up Crooked Kingdom for dare I say it – an emotional and action-packed finale? I love Leigh Bardugo’s writing, but you can tell that Shadow and Bone is her first series. I suggest reading it because it is a worthy tale that is interesting and really immerses you into her unique magic system and world, but Six of Crows is where lightening strikes. It’s a five-star page-turner that I recommend to almost everyone I meet. 

In 2019, Bardugo returned to the Grisha Universe to continue the story of Prince Nikolai, a fan-favorite character from the original trilogy. The first book is King of Scars. In it you will find excellent humor, monsters, and an ending that will SHOCK YOU. The follow up, Rule of Wolves was released in March of 2021 and includes a satisfying ending to Nikolai’s story with the possibility for more tales on the horizon.

There we have it folks. Leigh Bardugo has created a magical world where the lives of the Grisha hang in the balance. There are riveting villains, politics, humor, and a coming-of-age cautionary tale on the balance of power. So pick up a book and get a head start on Bardugo’s Grishaverse and don’t forget to stream Shadow & Bone on Netflix April 23rd, 2021.


Doctor Who: A Beginner’s Guide to Time Travel Pt. 1

Adventures in time and space sound like a lot of fun, and no one has done that better than the BBC series Doctor Who. However, it’s been going on for nearly 60 years and can be a daunting task when looking for a good starting place. There are over 850 episodes totaling nearly 300 stories. It’s a lot.

But that’s where we come in. The GateCrashers Doctor Who extraordinaires, Ethan and Justin! A quick rundown on how this is going to work: Over three articles covering Doctors 1-4, 5-9, and 9-13 respectively, we’ll give you two episodes from each Doctor’s era. One chosen by Ethan, one by Justin. These will be a look at the kind of stories that encompass the era they’re from. We want to give you a distilled experience of what each Doctor is like so you can decide what best fits your tastes. So here we go. Let’s take a trip into the Vortex!

The 1st Doctor – William Hartnell (1963-1966)

“Have you ever thought what it’s like to be wanderers in the Fourth Dimension? Have you? If you could touch the alien sand and hear the cries of strange birds, and watch them wheel in another sky, would that satisfy you?” -The 1st Doctor (An Unearthly Child)

  • The Mutants (Ethan’s Pick) – While not the first episode of the show, Doctor Who as we know it today would not exist without it. It may have not even made it past its first season. This is the episode that introduces The Doctor to his arch-enemies, the Daleks, and they are terrifying. It’s easy to see how these villains gripped the public consciousness. Set on a distant planet, The Doctor and his companions have to find a way to defeat the metallic drones or risk losing their lives. For an excellent early episode of the show full of great moments with both Doctor and companion, you can’t go wrong with this.
  • The Romans (Justin’s Pick) – Not the first “historical” episode of the show, but certainly one of its most fun. Waylaid slightly in the time of the Romans, The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki are forced to take refuge in an abandoned estate on the outskirts of Rome while the TARDIS repairs itself. But mistaken identities and historical intrigues gather them all to the ancient city, where Emperor Nero is tuning up his fiddle. Though optically kind of dicey in parts, The Romans shows a real cheek and historical detail for the show and proves that even the early days had some knack for charming hijinks amid real settings and eras.

The 2nd Doctor – Patrick Troughton (1966-1969)

“There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything we believe in. They must be fought.” – The 2nd Doctor (The Moonbase)

  • The Invasion (Ethan’s Pick) – Moving on to the 2nd Doctor, a much more personable, quirky incarnation than his predecessor. This story sees The Doctor, and his companions Jamie and Zoe, coming up against some of his greatest foes, the Cybermen, in then-present day London. A great entry in the canon, it introduces one of the most important aspects to the series, UNIT. The military force tasked with protecting the planet from extraterrestrial forces. And with this comes The Doctor’s greatest ally, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Arguably the most beloved recurring character in the show’s history. If you want a truly epic story, that features some of the most evocative imagery in the show’s history, this is the one to watch.
  • The War Games (Justin’s Pick) – This was the moment that, as the kids say, shit got real for Doctor Who. Co-written by the absolute powerhouses of Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks, two names that would become synonymous with Doctor Who, this mammoth serial finds The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe locked in a war that doesn’t make sense. A megalomaniac known as the War Lord has been kidnapping and brainwashing soldiers from across time, sweeping them up and depositing them into a grand conflict for their own amusement. But beyond that incredible setup, The War Games finds The Doctor facing his own people, The Time Lords, for the very first time, explicitly naming his race and setting the show up for all sorts of mind-bending Time Lordy insanity for literal decades to come. A true watershed moment for the show, early even, in its own run.

The 3rd Doctor – Jon Pertwee (1970-1974)

“Courage isn’t just a matter of being frightened, you know. It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.” – The 3rd Doctor (Planet of the Daleks)

  • The Dæmons (Ethan’s Pick) – The Doctor’s third incarnation, having been stranded on Earth by his own people at the start of this new life, has set up shop as UNIT’s scientific advisor, assisted by the ever loveable Jo Grant. Also on Earth, concocting plots in the shadows is The Master, The Doctor’s old friend from his home planet, now a suave, maniacal bad guy. He’s been causing a fair amount of trouble for The Doctor, Jo, and UNIT. This story sees him attempting to awaken an ancient demon beneath a church in an old English town. The UNIT family, as they’re lovingly known, all come together to put a stop to this latest nefarious scheme. It’s some of the purest fun ever had in the show. If you’re looking for a story where the cast is just having a grand old time, this is the one for you.
  • The Green Death (Justin’s Pick) – The Third Doctor, having regained his ability to travel in space and time, faces a personal metamorphosis in The Green Death. A mine in South Wales has been poisoning the populace of the town. Making matters worse, large insects have been plaguing the workers as well, causing the Doctor and UNIT to leap into action. But while The Green Death is a wonderful example of the sort of eco-conscious, grounded storytelling the Pertwee Era excelled at, this serial also marks the final appearance of Pertwee’s companion, Jo Grant, as played by actual ray of human sunshine. Katy Manning. Though bittersweet, The Green Death provides a wonderful send-off for Jo, and sets the blueprint for the show’s always affecting take on the exits of companions for years to come.

The 4th Doctor – Tom Baker (1974-1981)

“The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common – they don’t change their views to fit the facts. They change the facts to fit their views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs changing.” – The 4th Doctor (The Face of Evil

  • Terror of the Zygons (Ethan’s Pick) – If The Invasion was the beginning of the UNIT era of the show, and The Dæmons was that era’s high point, then Terror of the Zygons is its grand finale. Having been away from Earth for some time, The Doctor, now in his fourth incarnation, along with his companions the iconic Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) and the loveable idiot Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter), return to help UNIT investigate strange goings-on in the Scottish Highlands. A major portion of Tom Baker’s run was very much immersed in the horror genre, and this kicked that off. Featuring treks through foggy forests, shapeshifting aliens, and a constant sense of unease, this is the story to introduce you to the darker side of Doctor Who.
  • City of Death (Justin’s Pick) – Probably the closest Doctor Who has ever gotten to a “party episode”. Fresh off the regeneration of Romana (passing from iconic actress Mary Tamm to the equally iconic and inhumanly adorable Lalla Ward), the Doctor and Romana II find themselves in “present-day” (read: 1979) Paris thanks to the TARDIS Randomizer. But not content with sightseeing, the pair are swept into the dangerous time experiments of a roguish count, played by Julian Glover who is absolutely playing to the rafters here. Funny, breezily performed, and more than a little goofy, this episode is perfect for a rowdy Sunday screening for your non-dork friends to show just how it can sing during this iconic run with Baker. Also of note, this episode carries with it a tremendous BritCom cameo and a script co-written by Douglas Adams (using a pen name made up of his name and the names of two other writers). Watch while having a stiff double ice water!

And that’s it for now. Let us know if you check out any of our recommendations, and make sure to come back next week for even more!


Doctor Who – Revolution of the Daleks: Review

Starring: Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, Tosin Cole, Bradley Walsh, John Barrowman, Chris Noth, and Nicholas Briggs

Written by Chris Chibnall
Directed by Lee Haven Jones


“Yes, I will. Every time.”

Justin Partridge: The Doctor and her beloved Fam reunite just in time to stop a brand new Dalek invasion in Revolution of the Daleks, Doctor Who’s latest “Festive Special”.

WELCOME to GateCrasher’s inaugural Doctor Who review column! I am Justin Partridge, the galaxy’s worst Doctor Who fan and highly emotional follower of the show since the 2005 reboot (and slightly before, but that’s for later).

Joining me on this wild, wonderful journey is GC social media maven and actual British person, Ethan <Last Name Redacted By Orders From The Division>!! How are you doing, Ethan?

Ethan: I’m doing great, thanks, Justin. Much happier after a LONG year to have the Doctor back in my life. Speaking of which, I’ve been watching the show much the same, since March 2005 and have been crying over it ever since, with a bit beforehand as well (but again, that’s for later).

JP: And we are here to pick through the whole of this new festive special. Honestly, now having slept on it and seen it at least twice for this opening column, I might even call it one of my favorite episodes of the Jodie/Chibnall era! I sincerely can’t wait for this. Talking Doctor Who with other fans is the kinda insanity I live for so I can’t wait to crack on.

ETHAN: I agree completely. I thought after finishing it for the first time it was the best of the current era, and having done a second viewing I think I can say definitively that it is, at least for me. And as our Twitter DM’s show, we can talk about this mad, wonderful show an awful lot.

Photograph: BBC Studios

JP: ENOUGH of the preambing! Let’s GET IN!

So we open roughly directly after last year’s Festive Special Resolution. Well, specifically we open 367 Minutes After the Doctor and the Fam’s defeat of the Reconnaissance Dalek.

Though the husk and screaming squid inside the Recon Dalek has been destroyed, private sector interests led by Chris Noth’s Jack Robertson are tipped off to its transport and promptly whisk it away for their own nefarious purposes.

It’s a very OOD opening but one that instantly engages I think. Not only do we have some juicy texture connecting it to the previous special (of which it is arguably a direct sequel to) but we get hefty check-ins with our incarcerated Doctor and the stranded Fam.

What about you, Ethan? How did this specifically silly but well laid out opening grab ya?

E: Much like the rest of the episode I loved it. Right from the off, with the parodic “A Long Time Ago” text, I knew we were in for something special. I especially enjoyed how we got to see what happens to the mess the Doctor leaves after they’ve saved the World. Granted, it doesn’t go well for this delivery driver, but it’s fun to know the government has a place for it all. (Maybe one we’ll see in the future *eyes emoji*)

And then after those glorious titles, we get right into what happened to the Dalek casing, and what exactly the delightfully awful Jack Robertson, who I will be referring to as Mr. Big from now on, has been up to.

Justin, your thoughts on this rather… politically resonant scene?

Photograph: BBC Studios

JP: Truly, truly loved it

We got little bits and bobs about how the Daleks were going to be appropriated as security drones and how they had been woven into the fabrics of British infrastructure (at least as much as Chibs allowed us to know).

But seeing the episode just fully leaning into this aspect almost IMMEDIATELY (heightened to a tremendous level of visual intensity by director Lee Haven Jones) was a real treat. Doubly so as it was scaffolded to tremendous character beats for the Fam and the still imprisoned Doctor, languishing in the Judoon prison counting cameras and reciting books to herself from memory.

So after this cold open, we are tossed roughly ten months to a year into the future. Ryan, Yaz, and Graham are trying to move on with their lives while Mr. Big is calling in deals with the newly installed Prime Minister Jo Patterson, once a lowly undersecretary who tipped off Mr. Big to the transport of the Dalek shell, starting her rise to 10 Downing Street.

It’s all kinda shoe leathery, I’ll admit, and the time skip isn’t handled as well as the opening, boldly credited vignettes but it’s filled with great character moments from the whole Fam, buffeted with more heartbreaking check-ins with the Doctor. 

The plot itself is very McCoy Era Dalek intrigue, veering dangerously close to Dalek-Hammer 40k as two factions of Daleks square off for control of the planet and the pleasure of killing the Doctor. To be totally honest, it got a LOT crazier than I was expecting it to for being away for so long but it’s all very much rooted in the character and Jodie’s Doctor (much to the episode’s strength).

But I’m getting ahead of myself. We have to talk about The Doctor in prison. So while the Fam is Defending The Earth, the Doctor has spent what seems like years in the orbiting prison asteroid. Every day she is summoned from her sleep, given “exercise” through a yard filled with monster-iffic cameos, and then marched back to her cell in order to do it all again the next day.

My stance on Jodie is pretty well known at this point as I somehow conned a whole other website to let me scream about how much I love her and her take on the Time Lord but MAN ALIVE is this just a great sequence of acting from her. She’s selling every single inch of the pain of her confinement just in looks and slow, almost lumbering movements. Almost as if her inner light (forgive me the Care Bear terminology) has been stifled instantaneously with the separation from her Fam and TARDIS.

What did you think, Ethan? Am I projecting? Is it just because she’s been gone so long?

E: You are definitely NOT projecting. I too love Jodie a whole bunch. Everything in her prison scenes is incredible, having some of the most vulnerable moments we’ve seen not just from 13, but her previous incarnations as well.

One line specifically stood out to me in showing how even in this vulnerable state she still hasn’t lost that spark of goodness inside her, and her want to help. “Stay strong, people counting on you”. In an episode filled with great lines from the Doc, this one stood out to me as being an almost perfect distillation of the Doctor’s mission. A “never be cruel, never be cowardly” for a new decade, so to speak.

And then:


Photograph: BBC Studios

He’s back, ready to break the Doc out of prison with a plan involving some impossible gadget, a lot of running, and of course, his handy Vortex Manipulator smuggled who knows how. There’s not a moment lost between them. John Barrowman heaps the cheese factor of Jack on hard. And after his great, but all too brief encounter with the Fam last year, it’s great to have him meeting a new Doctor for the first time.

Once they escape with a time (and space) jump, they end up in the TARDIS with plans to get back with the Fam. Although there’s bound to be some timey-wimey mishaps going on there.

How did you feel about the good Captain being back in the fold?

JP: I am of two minds about Jack. 

On one hand, Barrowman has an instant cocksure charm with like…everybody. Something his appearance in Fugitive of the Judoon played up quite nicely, allowing him to be the foil for the Fam and not yet the Doctor. Chibnall even makes a few callbacks to the snap flash connections Jack made with Yaz, Graham, and Ryan while the Doc was getting her world shattered (not for the last time in that series, mind you).

That same instant chemistry extends to him and Jodie, which I’m very happy to see. Their madcap escape from the prison, inspired by speed runs of Super Monkey Ball apparently, is a wonderful button on the melancholically repetitive life we’ve seen the Doctor settle into.

There is also a truly wonderful scene between Jack and Yaz, en-route to investigate the Dalek infrastructure, wherein Jack provides a crash course in the emotional fallout of being a Companion. What that takes from you, what that gifts to you, and how it can all end at the blink of an eye. Barrowman and Gill play the moment beautifully, once again given a keen theatrical look by the close-up heavy direction of Jones. By now you’ve heard the line he drops here “You don’t get to choose when it’s over”, which is some Martha Jones erasure I can’t abide but the moment is strong throughout an episode filled with good moments.

At the same time…Barrowman is problematic, having engaged in some Intermediate Level Hacky Transphobia at some conventions, on top of just being a generally polarizing and slightly chippy character when it comes to his involvement within Doctor Who. It’s bittersweet I think for sure.

But also at the same time, I’m infamously NOT a Torchwood person so I might not be sitting in the cheap seats his inclusions are playing to.

WHAT ABOUT YOU, THOUGH?! I think you for sure have more contact with Jack and Torchwood than I do. To me, it’s like, HES fine in bursts and guest spots but I don’t want him recurring again.

(Especially with the incoming…new addition.)

E: Jack, and Barrowman, can be especially polarising (thank you for bringing that up, by the way). To specifically target how Jack can be a bit much, so to speak. I’d say he works better as a Doctor Who character than a Torchwood character. Outside of Series 3 and a few select episodes of earlier series’  I was never much of a Torchwood guy myself. Doctor Who should not be an adult, even if it’s a spin-off. Jack works far better when he’s being, to borrow a term from the great Mickey Smith, “Captain Cheesecake”. A goofy, innuendo-laden character.

And you mentioned you don’t necessarily want him recurring, and I agree, but based on how the episode ends I can see the production team, and Chibnall especially, with his history working on Torchwood, bringing Jack into a Brigadier-type role. A recurring ally to help the Doctor when they’re on present-day Earth. Which the episode establishes Jack will be sticking around for a while as he mentions catching up with Gwen Cooper, a Torchwood alumnus.

Jumping tracks, I want to talk about the Fam. Firstly, Yaz. Now I can shout about this in a public forum, Yaz is CLEARLY in love with the Doctor. Everything she does during those 10 months without her is trying to find a way to reunite. That’s not something any old friend would do. Now granted, there is nothing set in stone regarding this, but it’s hard not to look at it in this way. Hopefully next series we’ll see some further development regarding their connection.

*breathes* Sorry about that. Just needed to get that off my chest. How did you find the Fam in this episode?

Photograph: BBC Studios

JP: Aw, god I would truly love for Jack to become the new Brigadier. I also think that’s a wonderful bit of comparative language. He absolutely works better on Who because Who takes advantage of Barrowman’s natural theatricality and genuine sincerity when saying shit like “Dalek Clone Farm” and “Warpstar”.

BUT ALSO, a very strong Fam episode too! For all the monster-based hijinks of the prison sequence and the regular check-ins on the dawn of these new Drone Daleks, the Fam is very much front and centre throughout Chibnall’s script. This is a relief if I am being honest because I was genuinely convinced someone was going to die, prompting one of the other companions to leave in grief.

But that didn’t make what we got any less heartbreaking, despite Chibnall’s wonderful explanation of the exiting companions’ reasons for doing so. I will also agree that Yaz and the Doctor’s exchanges throughout the episode are…rather charged. There is an intensity not only to the way Yaz is reacting to the returned Doctor but a real yearning behind the eyes of Gill in this episode that I hope she gets a chance to turn into the further text of the show. I normally don’t love much when the Doctor has romantic relationship’s with the companions (because ya know…ew) but I would really love if maybe this leads to Yaz confronting some stuff about her own feelings toward women in general, joining her alongside Tegan and Nyssa as the latest Friends of Ace within DW.

I also really enjoy that the script doesn’t let the Doctor instantly off the hook for the huge gap in time in which the Fam thought she might have been dead (Ryan going as far as to just ASSUME she is, in some wonderful bits of pragmatism showing through in this story). Instead, they make her confront it with each of them in one-on-one scenes. My only complaint with this is that I wish she could have gotten a bit more face time with Graham, but the other scenes are so strong, it doesn’t really hamper my enjoyment of the whole thing. 

As the Doctor, Jack, and the Fam regroup into the TARDIS, the episode then starts to take on a pretty breathless pace. You see, apparently Curtis from Misfits, who has been working for Mr.Big cloned a naked Dalek from DNA strands left inside the husk the Recon Dalek. Naturally, this leads to the Recon Dalek immediately jabbing a tendril into his brain and making him work to allow the Recon Dalek a foothold in the galaxy from which to conquer with this new off-shoot Dalek variants (introduced to the world in a fawning live address from the new Prime Minister. Harriet Jones, eat your heart out).

It is full tilt Ben Aaronovitch madness and it really starts to sing here. Obviously, people’s mileages are going to vary as to if they find the Daleks intimidating or not, but the episode really works hard to sell the threat of them, offering imposing vistas of Daleks choking the skies around Bristol with the TARDIS keeping watch after landing on top of the iconic Suspension Bridge.

But it isn’t just all smashy-smashy pew-pew stuff (though there is plenty of that too). There is even a hefty amount of piss-taking surrounding the American obsession with power and freedom, the security state, drone policing, and the nature of hate. The latter was given a truly imposing brass personification in the return of the 2005-2006 Dalek designs. All gleaming brass and booming Briggsian voice modulations. I have to admit, I audibly SCREAMED seeing the, I guess “modern classic” designed Daleks? They are certainly the Daleks that I personally feel the most connection to (even though I am quite fond of the New Paradigm “Power Rangers” Daleks DO NOT @ ME).

So even with all this amazing character stuff and wonderful acting moments, we get like…a Dalek-on-Dalek war with some social commentary to boot. Kinda the best-case scenario, really. I saw someone say that they wished the episode was “meaner”, but…this is also an episode where the Recon Dalek is gunned down after appealing rationally for their life having “given their life to the Dalek cause”.

What did you think of this Dalek court drama that unfolded within the oversized runtime, Ethan?

E: Oh I ate it up. A Dalek Civil War is, as you mentioned, a very specific Aaronovitch-ian type story, drawing a lot from his work on the classic episode Remembrance of the Daleks, which also happened to have some up-front politicking to say.

And then we get THE moment. The Nu-Daleks have been defeated, leaving the Doctor with a Dalek Death Squad to face down. So what does she do? She does what any good hero does. Pulls a Luke Skywalker. Fools the Daleks into a spare TARDIS that was lying around (it’s a long story), making it seem she’s there, before revealing she was (force) projecting herself via hologram from the One and Only TARDIS. And in turn sets the spare to self-destruct, vanquishing the threat.

Touching back on what you said about Ryan and Graham’s departure, I’m in full agreement that it was a genuinely touching scene, allowing them to go out on their own terms. Ryan’s chat with the Doctor earlier on was nothing short of brilliant, and a great way of teeing up that he had moved on from adventures in time and space. Graham, while I too wish he’d had a bit more prominence in the episode itself, is the member of the Fam who has had the most character development during the previous two series. And so letting the episode focus more on Ryan and Yaz was a smart choice on Chibnell’s end.

Besides, Graham gets the best, most emotional line of the episode as he and Ryan leave, a couple of Psychic Papers in hand, off to defend the Earth:

“We do get aliens in Sheffield”.

A brilliant call back to his first appearance and a fitting send-off. I’m getting a bit emotional, so Justin, any final thoughts?

Photograph: BBC Studios

JP: I MEAN, only to also say that I was just wracking sobs throughout the last twenty minutes of this thing too. But you nailed it, they absolutely go out on their own terms. And moreover, it feels genuinely earned in a way that I don’t think a lot of modern companions got a chance to leave with. Most of the time it just felt like a story thing, in which they HAD to leave either to get some new job or to lead their own show somewhere.

But I feel really great about where we leave Ryan and Graham, as well as where we leave the Doctor and Yaz, both still standing in the box that can give them infinity and still know that “it’s okay to feel sad”. I, uh, might have needed to hear that during a year that constantly made me a level of sadness that I didn’t even know was possible.

But all told honestly, I think Revolution of the Daleks is going to be an episode that just appreciates the further away we get from 2020. Not only is it a tremendous follow-up episode to the series that preceded it, but an episode that encapsulates everything fun and highly emotional about Doctor Who in one slickly produced, tremendously acted package.

I couldn’t have asked for a better episode to start out this column with. We need a name now. And suggestions on where we should go next. We have talked about books. We have talked about audios. There is a whole ass Dalek cartoon on YouTube we could do. The world is our…space oyster, I dunno. You tell us.

Until then, be seeing you.

SONIC PULSES (or whatever else we want to call this).

-We touched on it a bit, but we get mentions of Gwen Cooper and her son here which is really fun. 

-Mr. Big’s constant shittiness and capitalist biases provide the episode some really funny lines from him (which Noth delivers the hell out of). We hope he pops back up just to get annoyed at the fact that he’s popped back up in another episode.

-Another Highlight Line: “Are you feeling insecure, because you seem to need a lot of praise…” “I DO?!”.

-Ethan has read/listened to most all the Time Lord Victorious content and keeps shaming Justin about it. It is decidedly NOT (it is) COOL.

-We also mentioned the “spare TARDIS”. This being the TARDIS of the Jo Martin Doctor (or Fugitive Doctor which also sounds tres badass) which also served as Yaz’s makeshift HQ post-The Timeless Children. Guessing she’s gonna be a touch mad to know her ride got crunched and sent to the heart of no-space. 

-If you desire more Dalek goodness and intrigue, the Big Finish website is running a sale on a TON of Dalek-centred productions until the 8th. 

-Highlights include the just-released first volume of Out Of Time, which finds the Fourth and Tenth Doctors squaring off against the pepper pots in a church that exists outside of reality, The Time Lord Victorious Dalek Time Squad Trilogy, and finally, the Sixth Doctor adventure Order of the Daleks, which features a freaking STAINED GLASS DALEK. *EN-JOOOOOY!!!*