Thursday, March 28, 2013

"What is This?"

I've learned three things from / about Google Images. Firstly, Doctor Who's remit is so vast that if you search for any term which even marginally impinges on history, science, or popular culture, sooner or later you'll get a picture of Katy Manning posing with a Dalek. Lesson two is that the reverse applies, and that if you enter the name of any non-monster-related story, you'll find yourself wondering what the Hell right-wing American conspiracy theory has to do with "The Hand of Fear". The third point is that Google Images really needs some sort of "New Who Filter", so that when I search for pictures of Silurians, I don't have to look at that repellent half-human abomination from 2009. Or any of the Silurians he met in "The Hungry Earth". Sticking with the first two lessons, however, here's my Google Images scrapbook for the last month.

No, it's not "our" one, and nor was Robert Banks Stuart attempting to warn us. Scarily, though, it fits the timeline of the Doctor Who universe for HIV to have been dug out of the Antarctic permafrost in 1976-80. In case you think this sounds fatuous, bear in mind that the New Adventures did the plant-like-alien-parasite-as-AIDS-metaphor in 1992 ("Love and War"), and it worked brilliantly.

Bellal was the most notorious photobomber on the planet of the Exxilons.

I like this partly for its nostalgia value (the very sight of it evokes the primal smell of tea-time, then the despair I felt when I realised I'd missed episode two of "The Krotons" in an age when we had no reason to think we'd ever have the chance to see it again), and partly because it demonstrates the difference between BBC-Then and BBC-Now. Computer-driven design means that even the PR material for "The Power of Three" looked like an ad for "The Bourne Ultimatum". Which may be apt, given that recent
Doctor Who sees the big-budget action movie as aspirational, but in 1981? "Yeah, we need a caption-card for that Five Faces thing. Here are some back-issues of Doctor Who Magazine and a pair of scissors. Oh, and they've just invented this thing called Pritt-Stick, have you tried it?"

This is from 1924, although the description of "a White Man - lost in the wild - who turns native" suggests that it's What Cliff Jones Does Next. Then we have...

...originally published in 1938. I refuse to believe that Barry Letts / Robert Sloman didn't read at least one of these when they were young. Also, if Doc Savage is "The Man of Bronze", then his version of the Green Death is probably just verdigris.

In the 1970s, all
Doctor Who jigsaws were based on a nine-year-old's fan-fic.

We're so used to thinking of Roger Delgado as the Sexy Older Man that we forget what he was like when he was younger: the sort of character actor who, were he around today, would be second-in-command to a terrorist leader grudgingly played by Art Malik. But what we really learn from this photo is where Derren Brown got his powers of hypnosis. Clearly from his father, a mysterious ex-army man called General Sam (Ret). Oh, Derren Brown was born in 1971...? What a coincidence.

After six months, the Transtemporal Stare-Out Championship still had no clear winner.

Not actually
Doctor Who, but another nostalgia trigger for anyone who happened to read DWM or Starburst in the early '80s, since it was on the back cover as often as Orca: Killer Whale was on the back cover of all Marvel comics in the late '70s. Yet see how the '80s-speak "Mutants" are clearly "Zombies" in modern terminology, the Z-word still having voodoo (rather than radiation-based) connotations in those days. I'm giving you a lesson in geek-linguistics here, and it's only slightly complicated by the memory of Doctor Who Monthly referring to the antibodies in the City of the Exxilons as "zombies" before the word was common playground-currency. Much to the confusion of we nine-year-olds, who had problems with anything more outré than Giant Robots with laser-guns.