We also go back in Porter and John’s personal timelines to discover that they live way more awesome lives than YOU do – John took five years of Latin in Catholic school and they BOTH have been to Pompeii (separately). So just imagine the two of them wandering around in the background of the set of Rome in flip-flops and “I’m with stupid” T-shirts as you watch the Doctor take Donna on her first trip into history. There they meet a future Doctor and companion cleverly disguised as completely random characters (almost as if there was no connection at all…), and then they battle some CGI rock creatures who have a super awesome plan (that John and Porter totally understand, by the way) that is thwarted by flooding the city of Pompeii with liquid hot magma. The first half of this podcast is so hot that you should be careful that you don’t burn your fingers in The Fires of Pompeii.
We then take a short hop back in Roman history but a giant leap back in Who history to the era of Nero and the First Doctor as he, Ian, and Barbara take New Susan (a.k.a., Vicki) on her first TARDIS trip into history too. There, the Doctor light-heartedly loots a corpse and vaguely toys with the idea of assassinating the Emperor (who has also hilariously enslaved Barbara and is trying to rape her). Ha! Ian, meanwhile, scrambles to live every plot of every Roman history-based movie/television show that has ever been made. Yes, it’s a laugh-a-minute in ancient Rome in the cunningly titled The Romans.
But really, the only link here is just a couple o’ giant brains that would make a hungry zombie fall to their knees and give thanks to be alive… erm, or dead, we guess. We start with the 10th Doctor and Donna arriving on the Ood home planet because some people thought, “Hey, maybe the Doctor should have more to say about the whole Ood slavery thing than a sternly worded Letter to the Editor in the Des Moines Daily Shopper.” What follows is your bog standard hey-let’s-free-them-all-from-slavery-but-don’t-fall-in-the-giant-brain-because-it-will-absorb-you-(I-guess?)-for-some-reason-not-fully-understood romp featuring a guy from Blackadder and a guy from Chef. It’s a plot so straight-forward that Probers get a glimpse into John’s formative years, which were marked primarily by the receipt of knock-off versions of movie soundtracks. If only he had been able to run away from it all and live in lobotomized bliss on the Planet of the Ood.
We then rocket back to the always entertaining Season 24 and the debut of Sylvester McCoy – first, very briefly, as the 6th Doctor and then for a bit longer as the 7th Doctor. Recovering from the ol’ conk-on-the-head induced regeneration, the Doctor must try to fight through the haze of post-regenerative amnesia amplified by the haze of Bonnie Langford and Kate O’Mara‘s hairspray, and Porter must fight through three episodes of the much-maligned Time and the Rani before even discovering the linking theme of these episodes – yes, it’s another giant brain. Absurd? Sure. But any more absurd than Kylie Minogue driving a forklift into a pit of fire? See what the NNTMP crew has to say.
What would we do, baby, without us? What would we doooo, baby, without soldier spawn built off of genetic material taken from us without consent? Yes, the Doctor, Donna, and a reluctant Martha are in the family way as they become embroiled in a generations (wink wink) long war between some jerk humans and some seemingly nice fish people. And the Doctor has a “daughter” in the sense that someone cloned some chick from his hand, and she is a kick ass soldier in the sense that we all pretend to forget how DNA works. Oh, and John possibly has a LOT of wine before recording and spends a LOT of time talking about how the Doctor’s daughter is played by the Doctor’s daughter who is now the mother of the Doctor’s daughter(s). In case you had not picked this up, we are talking about The Doctor’s Daughter.
Ensconced in the warm fuzzy glow of family and the ties that truly bind, we then go back to that time when the First Doctor completely ditched his teenaged granddaughter in a Dalek-ravaged London with some guy she’s known for 10 minutes. Because the Daleks are back for the first time in Doctor Who, and they have decided that they, like, super need to drive the Earth around like a giant, planet-sized Honda Accord. It’s Doctor Who’s first true epic as we contemplate plague, underground resistance, lobotomized Robomen, whirlwind romance, and The Dalek Invasion of Earth!
Yes… solve the greatest mystery ever… how is it possible Porter and John are actually married to other sentient beings?! Well we ARE. And we’re so confident in our marriages that we’ll allow them in front of a microphone where they could easily cry out for help. But they DON’T. In the final edit.
Anyhooo… it’s time for a Who-dunit and where else to start but with the all-time Queen of Mystery Writers, Dame Agatha Christie. The Doctor and Donna crash a party and come face-to-face with some classic mystery tropes (except for the part where the murderer is a giant alien bug). They’re name-checkin’ Christie novels left, right, and center as Porter, John, Mike, and Mrs. Probe try to unravel the puzzle that is The Unicorn and the Wasp.
We then slow the pace down – WAAAY down – as we stay in the 20s time period (in fictional terms) and time travel back (in production terms) to the 5th Doctor era (did everyone follow that?). Yes, the Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa, Adric, Paul, John, and Ringo suffer the horrible consequences of mistaken identity: attending a costume party! But not before there is some cricket. A LOT of cricket. So much cricket that it’s not really until Part 2 that we are presented with the Victorian Gothic thrills and chills of a secret-passage riddled house concealing dark family secrets. But it’s a good thing they got to it in Part 2 because there is no Part 3 or 4 and we wrap things up tidily(ish) without falling afoul of the curse of the Black Orchid.
And so enters Dr. Elizabeth Corday… erm (or should I say, ERm?)… Dr. River Song. A character destined to return again and again to New Who (except of course that she dies here… or not really dies, sort of). And if Porter and John weren’t confused enough by this single character, you’ve got Steven Moffat just really being annoyingly brilliant as he hurls enough clever ideas at you in the first ten minutes to sustain the entire career of lesser writers (looking at you Illiam-Way Akespeare-Shay). You’ve got shadow piranhas, sentient computers, soul-echoing communicators, possible future Doctors, an entire virtual life for Donna, and… most bizarre of all… a place where information is stored on bound collections of paper stored on shelves. Now, shut your pie hole, because our Podcasting duo needs Silence in the Library as we explore the Forest of the Dead.
We then rocket back to days of 4th Doctor yore to find our hero (sadly sans talking cabbage) visiting his legendary home planet of Gallifrey for an epic encounter with a burned out husk with ping pong ball eyes (which is how John used to describe himself on hookup Apps). But there’s no time for hookups here as the Doctor’s non-pepperpot shaped arch-enemy has returned – the Master is his name and assassinatin’ is his game as he takes potshots at the Time Lord President in a confusing attempt to steal his fashion accessories. Fortunately for our podcasters, this involves a 3rd episode left-turn into the surreal world of the Matrix thereby justifying this episode pairing. Join Porter and John and an eerie laughing clown reflection as they contemplate the redundancy of the title The Deadly Assassin.
So, with apologies to everyone who came here thinking this was an episode speculating on Patrick Troughton’s sexuality, we instead watch David Troughton grow up – in reverse, of course, as we start with New Who’s sojourn into claustrophobia and mass hysteria (FUN!). It’s one of RTD’s favorite stories, featuring minimal Donna and maximum space van, Merlin (before he was Merlin), some other randos, and an inexplicably self-sacrifice-happy stewardess journeying into the darkness found at the heart of men’s souls as the clock strikes… Midnight.
Our intrepid Podcasters then rocket back in ol’ DT’s personal timeline to enjoy really the intellectual equivalent of Midnight except that most of the main cast are wearing rubber suits – including one that is basically a giant-eyed wang in a cloak. But stifle those snickers because this is Alpha Centauri, much beloved by fans, and he is accompanied by NNTMP’s first brush with another Who monster legend – the Martian Ice Warriors! And, of course, when you’ve got a room full of exciting monsters with laser guns and whatnot, then you have all the ingredients for an exciting tale of action-packed… committee meetings. Prepare yourselves for the Third Doctor and Jo’s first (yes – there’s a sequel!) encounter with the terrors of The Curse of Peladon.
Wondering how these two fit together? Well shut up, that’s why. YOU try pairing up a couple hundred pieces of television broadcast over 50 years with wildly varying themes and tones all from memory on a Sunday afternoon after three martinis! Ahem. And certainly our opening Doctor-lite, Donna-heavy episode stands out as a bit of an unusual take on Who, given how it kills off the Doctor in the opening ten minutes. But then it’s a fun-filled romp as Russell T. Davies wipes out half the planet, systematically bumps off beloved Who supporting characters, and (just for fun!) heavily implies a UK-led Holocaust II. It’s a real shift for our beloved show, and it leaves your intrepid Podcast team unsure which way to turn. Oh, wait. Left. They should Turn Left.
So, having seen one world without the Doctor, we then take a look at a different alternative universe – this one where the Doctor is actually… Governor Tarkin! Yes, we’re back in the swinging Sixties with some technicolor Daleks, a really jazzy incidental score, some more Bernard Cribbins (he transcends time, it appears), and an overall somehow less epic retread of a First Doctor classic. But what else can you expect when you’ve journeyed to the year… 2150 AD! Peter Cushing IS the Doctor in what is only the second (to date) Doctor Who (sort of) big screen adventure Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 AD.