In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety Two, Other Stuff Happened Besides Columbus
You know, I am just so wiped out today I can't even think of anything pithy to say. I didn't even get on the treadmill until late afternoon because I just couldn't drag myself out of bed to get it done in the morning. Then I had kind of a rough afternoon with my son (some days dealing with autistic obsessions is hard, yo). But you know what? It's all good. I felt better after my workout, I had a nice dinner with my wife, and life is good.
But before I go to bed, let's talk about the awesome new backup TARDIS control room.
The Masque of Mandragora - Parts 1 & 2
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
This story kicks of the fourteenth season of Doctor Who, and brings along with it several new things. Right off the bat in the opening credits, once the logo has come and gone, there is a brand new Serif font for the title and credits. It's a minor thing, but a welcome change for us font nerds. There is also a brand new TARDIS exterior prop, the original one having finally collapsed after thirteen years of service. Best of all, there is a brand new TARDIS console room, described by the Doctor as being the secondary backup control room. It is a really neat design, all wood paneling and brass fittings -- I like it a lot.
There was almost a new companion for this story, as Elisabeth Sladen was originally slated to leave at the end of The Seeds of Doom. Once she saw the script for The Masque of Mandragora, however, she extended her contract by seven months just so she could take part in it. The setting is Italy in the late 15th century, and most of the first half of the story plays out as a pure historical (which I adore). Yes, there is the whole science-fictiony thing with the fragment of the Mandragora Helix sneaking on board the TARDIS and then running amok in Renaissance Italy, but up until the point in the second episode where the Helix possesses the leader of an ancient Roman cult the story plays out as a straight historical drama. The Duke of San Martino has died under suspicious circumstances, and his son the successor is a progressive and science-minded young man who finds himself at odds with his power-hungry uncle and also with the court astrologer. It is a great period piece, weaving the dawning of new scientific ideals contrasted with ancient superstitions and political drama. It is exactly the kind of thing that I wish the show did more of.
Of course the show abandoned pure historicals a decade earlier, and so the plot gets the added science fiction element of the Mandragora Helix manipulating events in order to bring about the domination of Earth, and it is up to the Doctor and Sarah Jane to stop it. It's great stuff, and another story I fondly remember from my first childhood reading and viewing.
I wish I still owned this book
Much of the episode was filmed in the beautiful city of Portmeirion in North Wales. You might recognize it as also being the location where the classic series The Prisoner was filmed. It is a gorgeous location, and serves to greatly enhance the story with its sumptuous visuals.
Seriously, look at this place
This continues to be right in the sweet spot for me of Classic Who, and I am enjoying the viewing very much. With any luck I will bounce right out of bed tomorrow morning to watch the second half of the story. Wish me luck.
Companion(s): Sarah Jane Smith
Episode(s): The Masque of Mandragora - Parts 1 & 2
Steps Walked: 7,130 today, 1,470,497 total
Distance Walked: 3.75 miles today, 730.94 miles total
Weight: 258.42 lbs (five day moving average), net change -48.88 lbs