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“Who” Knows What Evil Lurks

This post will contain minor spoilers to the most recent episode of Doctor Who, “The Pandorica Opens.”  But since it already aired and is easily watchable on demand, if you haven’t seen it, I’m blaming you.

This past weekend BBC America aired the first part of the Doctor Who season 5 finale.  “The Pandorica Opens” is an episode that seemingly has it all: a big crazy mystery, cameos by characters from the past, lots of action, Stonehenge, and all of the Doctor’s greatest foes teaming up to destroy him.  We’re told by River Song (who is fast becoming my favorite non-Time Lord character… or maybe she is a Time Lord…anyway) a litany of species the Doctor has faced through the years coming to steal the Pandorica.  Among the surprises included the Draconians, a lizard-like Samurai culture only seen in “Frontier in Space” from 1973, the Zygons, a shape-shifting race of cephalopods only seen in “Terror of the Zygons” from 1975, and the Drahvins, who I had to look up because they only featured in a now-lost story from 1965 called “Galaxy 4.”  Since I was born in the 80s, I hadn’t seen any of these stories (though I’m going to watch “Frontier in Space” today) and knew nothing about these races.

“Cool!” thought I for a little while, “There’s going to be a whole slew of new aliens.”  And then toward the end of the episode, they all appear…and it’s the same damn aliens we’ve seen already: Cybermen, Sontarans, Autons (which were pretty cool), Sycorax, Judoon, Silurians, and the Goddamn Daleks.  Seriously, I know the Daleks are the best-known villains in Who-dom, but I’d like to go a season without seeing them.  Just one.  And what were the Judoon doing there?  Aren’t they peacekeepers?  And the Silurians for Christ sake?  That doesn’t make a lick of sense.  It seemed to me, in an otherwise fantastic episode, the production team just went with whatever costumes they had lying around.  Disappointment, thy name is Kyle.

So here is one far-too enthusiastic fan’s plea for different villains next year.  I dig it when a classic series bad guy turns up because then I can rent (or buy) that DVD and get all kinds of backstory.  I’ve been plowing through whatever’s on DVD for the better part of a year now and I have five adversaries I’d like to see Matt Smith take on in new Who:

1)   Rutans – The Rutans are a weird sort of pod-like creature that can take over and assume another being’s form temporarily once they’ve killed it.  They’re glowing green masses of grottiness.  They appeared onscreen only once in “Horror of Fang Rock,” which is one of the very best stories out there for my money.  The thing that I like about them is they’re in a never-ending war with the Sontarans.  Give the Rutans their own story during the season and have the finale actually depict the war between the two disparate races, as we’ve never seen the two foes together.

2)   Ice Warriors – These are the inhabitants of Mars and met the Doctor four times in total, twice the Second and twice the Third.  The original costumes were rather lumbering, but I think with new technology, they could look pretty badass.  Plus, there haven’t been a whole lot of cold-weather adventures.

3)   Enormous Mutant Maggots – They were more a by-product than an actual villain, but these creatures from “The Green Death” left an indelible mark on the history of the series.  I can imagine some polluter reawakening the dormant suckers and Matt Smith having to get out an equally giant can of Bug-B-Gone.

4)   Sutekh – A member of an ancient extinct race called Osirans, Sutekh is the Egyptian god Set, a derivation of Satan.  He’s basically a power-hungry destroyer who fought the Fourth Doctor in “Pyramids of Mars.”  His power of hypnosis can make slaves of humanity and make mummies rise.  That would be pretty sweet.

5)  Any Time Lord who isn’t the Master – There’ve been plenty of other bad renegade people of Gallifrey who’ve fought the Doctor over the years, surely one of them didn’t die in the catch-all Time War.  I’m hoping it ends up being Morbius from the story “The Brain of Morbius.”  He couldn’t have fought in the Time War since he’s just a brain in a jar.  His new body may have been a piecemeal monstrosity, but he nearly bested The Doctor in a battle of mental prowess.  Let’s show some Morbius love, shall we?

These are just my ideas.  Anyone have better ones?

You’re welcome
-Kanderson

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19 comments

  • The Judoon thing annoyed me too. However, I’m guessing the Shadow Proclamation would have something to say if they feared the Doctor could destroy all of time. Perhaps we’ll find out the Alliance was organized by the SP… Makes ya think.

    I’d definetely be down with Omega. We see Rasilon in the End of Time. I wonder what Omega’s influence may have been with the Time War…

    Sontaran/Rutan war would be great too. Though, I’m guessing BBC would try to stay away from depicting a war. It might suck.

  • Go a full 360 and bring back an old companion as an evil baddie. Perrie got fobbed off without even a ‘good-by’ and married to an evil barbarian overlord. Surely she can come back looking for revenge. Or Nyssa? Left in a whole other universe like a lost sock, let her come back heading an inter-universal invasion.

  • How great was it to have the Autons back though? I’ve been wanting them to make a reappearance (I know the Nestene Consciousness died, but maybe with someone else controlling them?) because there is really nothing like that excitement of the first episode with Eccleston fighting mannequins! I think the Rutans would a lot of fun, though now they might seem too “modern” and not cheesy enough to be Who worthy.
    (also, secretly hoping that Omega kills River Song because she is an Auton, she is just all sorts of annoying)

  • There’s speculation about who the voice was that spoke to River while she was piloting the TARDIS. My coworker and I believe it’s Omega. He’s a Time Lord that’s not the Master.

  • Great post. I’m more behind than you, but recently compiled a rather OCD Excel spreadsheet using Wikipedia to get all the episodes from the old seasons and my library search and Netflix search to find out what I can see. I will start as soon as The Beginning arrives at my place of work and gets stuck in the staff holds section.

    While I also find the Daleks a bit tiring, I found that with a new Doctor, companion, new head writer and executive producers, they might have done something slightly less bad than the Churchill episode. Anyone who saw ‘The Doctor Dances’ episode knows that Stephen Moffat is a rather spectular writer, almost as responsible for the content we’ve consumed from the new series as Russell T. Davies himself. I found the Churchill episode dreadful (Mark Gatiss isn’t my favorite writer, he writes the period pieces usually) and saw through all the national mythology. I don’t expect them to challenge it, I expect them to use the Daleks in a way that contains even a modicum of interesting content. The only thing I liked is it suggested (in a sly way, what film studies professors might call ‘subversive’) that the great appeaser would work with a foe even more dead set on genocide than the Nazis in order to destroy them. I can intellectually dig this tidbit.

    But if you can’t use them well, don’t use them. I find the Cybermen (I love the mad scientist/self-improvement aspect to them) and Weeping Angels to both be more interesting and scary. I think Russell T. Davies’ love for the Daleks made me able to tolerate them, I’m not sure that Moffat is enthusiastic enough about them. Once I get to those old episodes, I’m sure I’ll find really great foes who could do with a makeover.

  • Same, this is my first actual season, but even I know that they’re really overdoing the Daleks. I want to see some new creative adversaries. And I swear to God, if I hear “Exterminate!” one more time I’m going to smash my TV. I’d like to get a count of how many times it was said last episode. I know it’s their catchphrase, but seriously.

    I know I’m relatively new to the whole Dr. Who thing (Chris, your constant talk on the podcast made me try it out), but this might be one of my favorite shows ever. Thank God that BBC airs nothing but Dr. Who marathons.

  • I myself was a Doctor Who virgin until this season, perhaps seeing a few minutes of an episode in the past but nothing more, and was fascinated with the enemies that the Doctor faced. That is, except for the Daleks who I just found annoying and almost unbearable to listen to. I understand they are basically the embodiment of an enemy for the series but seeing them rolling around did not excite me after the first run in with them. The Weeping Angels was exciting because the concept for them was fascinating.

  • Giving it some thought, I think your idea of the Sontaran/Rutan war is pretty good. There have been one or two original Who novels that used it. Lords of the Storm is the one I read recently, and if you wanted some S/R War backstory that one is loaded with it.

  • I agree. While bringing back certain characters that already create feelings in the audience could be a good thing for time constraints, it can get a little boring when the same characters are brought back time and again. Its a little hard while watching to get excited (ie. scared shitless) when I see a dalek or a cyberman, and I’ve only been a true Dr. Who fan since number nine, (i was an occasional watcher when I was younger), I can only imagine how hard it can be for a real watcher to get excited seeing these characters. Sigh. Remember when the weeping angels were new? Remember how wonderful that was?