Saturday, 31 December 2016

Great things about 2016 - Part Two

Evening. I've had a lovely 2016, when I haven't been looking at the news. In part one of this review, I talked about a couple of lovely bands whose music has made the year better. Now, films.

Movies used to be a much bigger part of my life. It was my job to know about them, so I watched a lot more, read about them more, and generally cared more. For a number of years television has been slowly taking over as my medium of choice, and now my job has changed to teaching about video games, the time I put into film has diminished greatly.

So, this year I have not watched too much, and so I may have missed some wondrous examples of cinema. I certainly saw some real rubbish (Suicide Squad may be one of the worst two hours of my life). But we're not here to complain, we're here to be happy. So here are some of the films that made me glad in 2016.

The Girl With All The Gifts

It's hard to overstate how much I enjoyed this film. I watched it with a constant internal voice chirruping away, saying "This is great. This is great. This, Rob, is great."

What made me so happy? Lots of things. Plot and genre wise, we are in my comfort zone. This is kind of a zombie film, set in a dystopian near future. I like those kinds of films. TGWATG (as surely it must be called) is close in tone and subject matter to 28 Days Later and Children of Men - two films I hold in very high regard. I like to see stories of civilisation collapsing; I think they have a lot to say about the scarily thin threads that bind us all together, and how easily they can snap.

But it's not just a zombie film and it's not just miserable. In fact, my experience of the film can best be described as joyful. I loved the colours. The movement of the camera, hiding and revealing the world of the film with knowing elegance. The music - another atypical, asymmetrical score by Cristobal Tapia de Veer, who seems to be scoring a lot these days.

I loved the characters, especially the Girl herself - Melanie. Wide eyed, wonderful, unnerving and real. I loved the script, both for its convincing dialogue and its ruthless yet inventive plot logic.

I loved it because it is great cinema. Confident, startling film making that forged a truthful, beautiful, terrible world. At the end, I felt we had been given a message of hope. My viewing partner thought it was a message of despair. We were both right. Now that's a film.


Or Zootropolis, depending on where you live. A clever and funny animated film that works two jobs. On one level its an efficient, funny tale of cartoon animals making their way in a colourful and inventive world. On another level, it's a timely tale of how our world - our less colourful society of humans, where animals never get to wear hats - is becoming less human and less friendly by the day.

A remarkable achievement. Really funny, too.


I didn't really want to see Arrival. It looked grey, and slow, and serious. And for the first third of the film I wasn't really having a great time. It was well made, and I had no objective issues with the way it was constructed as a piece of cinema. But I just wasn't feeling it, and it seemed cold and without emotion. And I was hungry. Why wasn't the film giving me a pizza?

Over the course of its running time, however, Arrival... changed. Its themes rose up, subtly and without me really noticing, fading quietly up in the mix and taking their place in the narrative. I realised that I wasn't just looking at Amy Adams' face any more, or wondering what kind of pizza I was going to have. I was being drawn into something quite amazing.

It's the kind of story you don't want spoiling, so I won't. Which isn't to say it hangs on some huge twist. It's to say that the experience of the film needs to grow as you watch it. Appropriately enough, for a film about language, the experience is one of slowly understanding what it is you are seeing and hearing. As the film progresses, you start to make sense of its vocabulary, and the things it's been saying all along become more clear.

It's a beautiful experience. And, like Zootopia, it feels made for our times. We are in a world where we talk to each other more easily than ever before, but rarely do we listen. Rarely do we even try to understand.

So there you go. Three excellent films. And that's me done for blogging this year. But don't worry - I'll be back, to tell you what video games I liked best, in the New Year. That's something to look forward to, isn't it?

Friday, 30 December 2016

Great things about 2016 - part one

2016 approaches its end. And I think we can all agree that it's been an excellent year. Unless you like music, film, people, comedy, laughter, joy, peace, equality or basic human decency. If you like any of those things you probably don't think it was excellent, and in fact hate 2016 and all it stands for. But that's because you're a precious, whiny snowflake. Or something. Get over it! You lost! Everything!

But look, there have been plenty of lovely things this year. I know, I saw them. And lucky you, I'm going to share them with you, in the hope that they bring you happiness.


Let's start with music. I buy a lot of music. Too much, really, and certainly more than I can properly listen to. I like how easily available music is now, and I like that I can afford a lot of it, but I also sort of miss the days when I had to save up for an album, and really gave it my time and attention when I finally had the thing.

Zooropa by U2 is not the greatest album ever made, but I know those songs back to front because I listened to it all Summer in 1993, because it was all I had. And I valued it because I worked all day putting doughnuts in boxes, counting each tedious hour as a percentage of being able to afford that CD at the end of the day.

Now music just kind of flows past. I buy it, I download it, I sort of listen to it, I move on. It joins the sea of songs in my iTunes library, rarely getting that thing that all music really needs: a patient, attentive ear. And so I get older and music seems to mean less.

This year, though, a few things have managed to catch hold of my selfish, distracted ear. One of those things is called Schwa.

Schwaeveryone. Schwa!

I'm not sure what Schwa is. A band, maybe. A project? A one off album? I've certainly got a CD with 'Schwa' written on it. That sounds band-name-like, doesn't it? But there's something going on with this music that suggests people who aren't limited by the form of things. Have a listen to it. I recommend 'Happiness'.

I saw this music played at an arts centre in Leeds, early this year. As always, I was massively resistant to going out in the first place. I love my sofa, and listening to other musicians is fraught with problems. If they're rubbish, I'm bored. If they're good, I resent and hate them. Either way, it's rarely as good as staying in and playing Metal Gear Solid.

This was lovely, though. Playful but not frivolous. Intricately constructed songs that managed to constantly surprise, while sounding like I'd always known them. It was genuinely exciting to witness the music being played and was a standout moment of the year. I bought the album and have played it endlessly since. It's good to know that music can still bring new joy, even when I don't deserve it.

Peculiar Blue

Some people are nice to me to a degree that is quite out of proportion to the effort I put into being nice back. This is good news for me, obviously, but I've no idea why they bother. Maybe someone else is paying them to be nice to me, because they know it will reduce how insufferable I am?

Anyway. Peculiar Blue have always been really nice to me. They're essentially a duo of singer/songwriters who play around Yorkshire, performing lovely folk-ish songs of their own and a seemingly endless repertoire of clever and enjoyable covers. I say they're a duo - they seem to be pretty much a full band these days, but I think Paul and Lynne are at the heart of it.

Like I say, they've always been ridiculously kind to me. When I first started doing open mic nights back in the late 90s they were really encouraging, despite me sounding a bit like Elvis Costello might if you strangled him and hit his guitar with a spoon. When I released my optimistic first album in 2004, they provided an excellent support act, not seeming to mind that they were clearly far better.

This Summer, I came across some of their music in my never-ending iTunes library. It was beautiful stuff and made a peaceful Summer evening even more magical. By chance I ran into them a few weeks later and was delighted to find that there had been loads of new music since then. I bought their latest CD and then, generous fools that they are, they threw in a load of extra EPs.

It's great stuff and you should give it a listen. There's plenty to listen to here:

and I'd recommend 'Don't Speak of Love' from here:

So. Two wonderful things that have made my 2016 really good. Neither of them have stopped the forces of fascism or brought Victoria Wood back from the dead, but both have helped me to enjoy my time here on earth and recognise that people can, when all is said and done, be amazing and beautiful creatures.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Top Ten Reasons to be Racist

I've had a think about it, and looked around, and I've concluded that the only sensible way forward is to become racist.

I haven't decided who I'm going to be racist to, yet. Is 'non-whites' enough to really qualify? Many of the racists I've seen tend to be really dedicated to hating specific groups, and I don't want to be seen as lazy. 'Blacks' seem to be a popular target. Is it OK to say 'blacks'? Oh, wait. I don't need to care anymore. This is going to be awesome.

Right. Top ten reasons why I've decided to be racist.

1.   Everyone's doing it

It's nice to be part of the 'in' crowd, and I almost never am. I only started watching Game of Thrones when everyone else was on season 4. I was all like "Hey guys! How evil is that Joffrey?" and they were all like "Ramsay Bolton's where it's at now, you loser!"

So I'd like to be part of this, while it's big, please. I'm assuming there are clubs and T-shirts and the like?

Joffrey. A racist. Probably.

2.    Language is hard

It's hard working out what to call people, isn't it? If there's a guy with different coloured skin in the office, and you want to bitch about him when he's not there, what do you say? Before I'd spend ages going,

"Oh, you know, the guy with glasses?"

And someone would say, "Steve?"

And I'd say, "No, you're Steve. The other guy. With the frizzy hair."


"She's not a guy. Why are you so dim? Um..."

Because I'm trying not to be 'politically incorrect', you see. Trying not to say "The only Hindu guy in the whole room." It's like with the disabled. What the hell do you call them? One day handicapped is wrong, then it's fine, then Shirley from Recruitment says that 'disabled' is fine now and we mustn't say anything else. It's a minefield.

But now, right, I don't have to care. I can say what I like. Hurray!

3.    General angry feelings

I'm cross a surprising amount of the time. I'm not sure why. The other day I dropped a spoon, while I was trying to make a cup of tea. Well, it made me furious!

I picked the spoon up and spent the next ten minutes bending it backwards and forwards, trying to break it in half. It was surprisingly resilient. This, of course, made me madder. I called it a variety of names. Whore. Liar. Leftist. It would not break! I ended up in a terrible state and had to go kick the fridge which, of course, hurt my foot.

Now I'm racist, I can vent this kind of anger on the Asians (for example - I haven't quite made my mind up yet.) That'll be much more satisfying than attacking a spoon. I think. They'll cry, probably. So I won't have to.

Screw you, kid. It won't break.

4.   That Asian woman who lives across the road, but a few doors down.

I hate that woman! She's loud and she's nosey and she never smiles at me. Normally I'd just have to put up with it. I mean, I keep thinking I might have a go, but then I see her, and I can never think how to frame my attack. Do I start with "Hi, I'm your neighbour," and then move into shouting? It seems like a weird gear change. So I just walk past.

But now, brilliantly, I can be racist to her. There's loads of ways to start a conversation with an Asian woman when you're racist. Social convention doesn't really come into it. And it'll be sort of justified, because I didn't like her anyway. So it's like a win win.

It's political correctness gone mad.

5. Economic anxiety

No, just kidding. I'm fine. I'm comfortably off. Which is good, because I can't really work out the connection anyway.

6.   The Daily Mail

I've been trying to read the Guardian for years, but I sort of... can't. My mind just kind of slides off it. Simply put, they write too much. You might think "Oh, this is quite a good article," but after a bit you realise that it just goes on and on. "Let's look at this point of view."  "Let's consider these facts."  "Here's a massive load of stuff about historical context." After a bit you sort of forget what you're even meant to think about the situation.

No-one has time for this. The Daily Mail, on the other hand, gets straight to the point and tells you exactly what to think. And it's very satisfying. You get to be annoyed, a lot, but at groups of people. Not at spoons and that. This is much better. They have very clearly defined targets, and many of them seem ugly too, so that's helps my self image no end.

7.   It has to be someone's fault, right?

The world is terrible, you have to admit that. Education, health, the transport network. All that. Terrible. It takes me ages to get to work, and apparently all the kids now are thick.  But who to blame? Everything is someone's fault. If no-one was to blame, it wouldn't be happening. That's just maths.

Now that I'm a racist, I can locate the problem much more easily. Eastern Europeans. Probably. By drawing a direct line between them coming here and things getting worse, I can start to make sense of why it's worse, and do something about it.

And I mean an actual line. I've drawn an actual line. Right across the wall in my bedroom, from a collage of headline clippings from the Mail over to the bedroom window. Because they're outside, aren't they? The Easter Europeans? Outside, in our streets.

God, it feels nice to say "Our streets."

8.   I have a weird, instinctive mistrust of difference.

I used to feel bad about not being able to tell people of colour apart on the telly. Like, there'd be a black actor in something, and then, later, maybe a different one. But it might have been the same one. And I wasn't sure if it was different, or if I was just accidentally racist.

I used to console myself that I can't tell Albert Finney and Brian Cox apart either. But now it doesn't matter. Now I can just relax and say "They are all the same!" and laugh. And then get cross because there are too many of them on television in the first place. If there was only one at a time, there'd be no confusion. So who's causing the problem, really?

Samuel L. Jackson? The Fresh Prince of Bel Air?

9.   I'm oppressed, probably.

If people like me stop being racist, then what's to stop the continued oppression of white men? The signs are everywhere. Black History Month. Black Lives Matter. Black Friday. It's getting so that my culture is basically about to disappear.

10. I can stop saying "I'm not racist, but..."

Who else is tired of this? Having to prefix every little racist thing with this tiresome phrase. It's tedious, and I'm sick of it. Why are we even saying it? No-one really seems to believe it, so it's not like it has the desired effect. How liberating would it be to just stand up and go "You know what, I am racist. And that's why I'm saying these exciting things!"

So stand up with me, brothers. Stop living your false lives. Shake off the shackles of society. Stop living by these politically correct terms. We're not nationalists, or patriots, or Alt-Right, or any of those names we're forced to hide behind. We shouldn't cower behind made up arguments about economics or genetics or religion. We should be racists, out and proud. We just don't like them. There's no reason for it. It's just who we are.

Why would we do any different? Who on earth would we be fooling?

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Time is Relative. Season 5 Part 2

Evening. Afternoon. Whatever.

I've been watching all of Doctor Who, from the start. I'm currently in the 1960s, where everything is black and white and really weird.

In my last post I looked at the stories of Season Five, sharing photos I'd taken while watching to give you some idea of what it's like living my exciting life.

It turns out that I took far too many photos to fit onto one blog post, though. Such is the excitement of Doctor Who. So here is the remainder of Season Five. It's thrilling, in so many ways.

5. The Web of Fear

There is a web in the story, and it is 'of fear'. Here we see the eponymous web covering the TARDIS. It looks spooky and strange. Don't worry, though. There is no giant spider of fear. That would be ridiculous.

This is the story where Doctor Who meets his best friend - the Brigadier. Except here he's a Colonel. But his real name is The Brigadier.

He meets Doctor Who in the London Underground, and thinks about killing him, in case he's responsible for the web of fear. Doctor Who says "I'm not." And this seems to work, and then they are friends.

Hurray - it's Anne Travers! She is my favourite character from the story, and maybe from all Doctor Who. She's very clever and self assured, and quite funny too. See the look that soldier is giving her? It's one of grudging respect. That's the highest compliment a soldier can give.

There are some really good compositions in this story. I think that's why I took so many photos. Here we see Doctor Who doing a think about the web of fear. The soldier is not giving him a look of grudging respect, is he? That's just a look of grudging. And the Brigadier is enjoying his hat. "This is a great hat!" he's thinking, mistakenly.

Actually, maybe that's what Doctor Who is thinking about. He's thinking "I like the Brigadier, but his hat is ridiculous. I'm hope I didn't look that stupid in my hat." You did, Doctor Who. You did.

This is a very badly taken picture, isn't it? But it still looks cool. It's the yeti again! The one at the back looks extra spooky. I like how most of the monsters in this show hang out in twos. It means they always have a friend to talk to. These two are talking about if it is safe to eat the web of fear, and if it would taste nice.

Later, the yeti get in a big gang and go rampaging all over London. Raar!

They look significantly better in the shadows, don't they? These ones look drunk. The one on the left is pointing at us, shouting "What are you looking at, you slag?"

This yeti has a gun. Why does it need a gun? It's a massive robot monster!

And it looks furious. How did they do that? How did they make a hairy face with glowing eyes look like it has an emotion? They're very skilled on this programme.

He thinks he's escaped the yeti, and now he's wondering if he might have a sandwich. But he hasn't escaped at all, has he? Quite how the yeti is sneaking through that door I don't know. I think it's standing very still, hoping he doesn't turn round. Yeti are murderous, but they hate confrontation.

The Brigadier is saying "So what's the verdict on my hat?" Doctor Who and Anne are wondering how to frame their response in a way that respects his feelings.

Man, I've taken loads of pictures of this story, haven't I? I think I took this just because I like Anne Travers so much, and I was sad that she wasn't going to be in it any more. She'd have made a great companion.

6. Fury From the Deep

This story is meant to be great. All we've got is photos and a soundtrack, though, so it's hard to tell. Yes, it's another one that the BBC chopped into bits and fed to geese.

But at least we have this photo, where Doctor Who and all his companions are totally freaking out. What has scared them? We'll never know. Except that it makes a whooshing sound. And it doesn't bother Jamie so much. And the woman at the back doesn't give a toss.

This is a good bit from the story. These guys are evil, and I think they're possessed by some gas or some seaweed or something. This woman was doing her hair, but they've interrupted her to do some evil shrieking.



It's very unsettling. I don't know what this guy's deal is, but he's clearly not happy. Maybe he's really sensitive about his receding hairline, and the woman's hairbrush set him off.

Later, the woman walks off into the sea. I think maybe the shrieking guy possessed her with gas, or seaweed, or whatever the hell the monster is this week. People call it a 'seaweed monster' but I can't see any evidence of that.

The guy watching her is her boss, I think. She says "I'm off into the sea now," and just walks off and goes under the water, and he just watches her and goes "OK". I'd never get away with that at work. I'd need a sick note or something.

7. The Wheel in Space

Hurray! It's the Cybermen again. This one lives inside a bouncy ball. That's why he's going "Yippee!"

There's some trippy art deco stuff going on in this scene. The Cyberman is asking what all the lava lamps are for. The guy on the right is saying "No-one knows. We just like them." And the Cyberman is thinking "I like them too, but I'd better not say."

When the man is gone, the Cyberman has a good old look around. He hasn't got a mate, like the monsters normally do. So he can do what he wants and no-one will tell.

Doctor Who senses the Cybermen. How? They don't breathe or anything. Maybe one of them sneezed. That would be gross for a Cyberman. How would he get the sneeze off the inside of his helmet?

Here's those same two cybermen. I like the way the light shines off the one on the right. I think he's the smart one of the two. His body language suggests "Getting things done." The one on the left looks a bit dim. His body language suggests "I am not following this sequence of events."

The story climaxes with an army of see-through Cybermen wandering about in space. What are they walking on? There's no floor in space. They seem to think there is. And, such is their mighty power, space believes them.

They don't win, though. Someone presses a button and they all spin off, to their doom. Good. They weren't very interesting this time.

That's all for now. I haven't watched Season Six yet, so you'll have to wait.

In the meantime, maybe you could enjoy some of my older blogs, like "That time my ex-girlfriend annoyed me" or "Clever answers I've just thought of to win arguments I had years ago."

Click here for Season Six

Go back to Season Five, part One

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Time is Relative - Season Five

Season Five of Doctor Who is really good. As a result I've taken rather more photos than normal. So I'm splitting this Season in two.

Here's part one of Season Five. "The One with All the Monsters."

1. The Tomb of the Cybermen

Doctor Who goes to the planet where the Cybermen are all sleeping underground for some reason. He meets a bunch of guys who want to wake the Cybermen up, so they can get killed by them.

Doctor Who is not sure this is a great idea, but he is also quite interested to see what it will look like, so he lets them do it.

The Cybermen all sleep in these exciting space bunks. They wake up. It is a quite convincing depiction of people waking up after a big sleep, as they all stumble around for a bit, looking confused and horrified and like they don't even know who they are.

"Do we have to go to work?"

"Yes, but work is killing everyone!"

"Hurray! Toast?"

This guy with the massive head is the Cyber Controller. He is the best Cyberman, even though he looks like the worst. The one at the front is thinking "How did this guy get to be controller? He never shows up for meetings and his head looks like a penis!"

Raar! This Cyberman is doing a pounce, like a metal leopard. Pretty much everyone in the story gets killed by the Cybermen. Which makes the story quite effective - they're mostly quite interesting characters, so you're a bit sad when they all die horribly to satisfy Doctor Who's curiousity.

2. The Abominable Snowmen

This story is great. Jamie - in the skirt - and Victoria - in the trousers - run away from a robot Yeti - in the fur coat, in the background.

"Jamie is saying, "Let's not run directly away from the monster - let's go quite near it." This is because the monster is really slow, and Jamie doesn't want it to get dispirited.

Why are there robot Yeti? You may as well ask "Why did the Cybermen in the last story have tiny robot mice as pets?" Just accept that they are here, and that we will now spend six weeks wandering around Wales,  being scared of them. Or finding them delightfully fluffy. Whichever.

3. The Ice Warriors

The Ice Warriors are a bunch of Mars lizards who wake up in some ice and are unreasonably cross with everyone as a result. It's not anyone else fault you fell asleep in ice, you idiots! What is it with you aliens and falling asleep in ice, this season?

Anyway. Victoria - not one of my favourites, but cute enough - soon realises that the Mars lizards are total jerks, and runs away from them. This is the latest in a long line of rejections for the guy in the background. "What's wrong with me?" he's thinking. "Is it the glasses?"

It is, at the very least, the glasses.

Ice Warriors are a pretty good design, I think. This is a really stylish shot, too. They look all menacing and exciting. Compare to the guy in the last photo. What happened? Did he get to choose his costume last? Is he on work experience?

Doctor Who looks sort of worried by the Ice Warriors, here. But I think the Ice Warrior guy is just saying "Why won't you look at me when I'm talking? It's really rude!"

People never look at each other in early Doctor Who. They all just look at the camera. It's a stylistic thing, I think, so we can see everyone's faces. But it just looks like no-one is really listening to each other. No wonder they're all so angry.

I bet all the aliens go back to their home planets and the Emperor goes "What was Earth like?" and they say, "Awful. No-one will maintain eye contact!" and the Emperor goes "I hate people like that, let's invade them loads of times!"

4. The Enemy of the World

Look! A helicopter! This story looks really expensive and exciting. And it is, indeed, really good. And there are strong, interesting women in it. And no embarrassing monsters that look stupid.

There must be something wrong with it, surely?

Doctor Who is in it twice, this week. Because there's an evil dictator called Salamander, who looks just like him. It's not like that time when the Daleks tried to make a robot of Doctor Who.

It's just a massive, implausible co-incidence.

Here, Salamander is having a cigar. He might be evil, but he's also really cool. Evil people are cool, aren't they?
I don't know why anyone ever bothers being good.

This guy is also evil, but he is definitely not cool. He's a complete dickhead to everyone. Look at his face. He's saying, "I'm enjoying the evil that I'm doing right now."

Victoria is meant to be scared. I think her performance is closer to 'extreme sexual excitement.' It's a bold choice.

That's half way through Season Five. See you soon for part two!

Click here for Season 5, part two

Go back to Season 4

Monday, 28 November 2016

Time is Relative - Season Four

Greeting, humans.

I'm trying to watch all of Doctor Who, in order, from the start. It's taking ages. There's no end in sight. I might die before I finish.

I've taken some pictures of the screen, during my viewings. I present you to them here, in an effort to share a little of the highs and lows of my experience.

Here are links to my thoughts on:

Season One

Season Two

Season Three

And now, as sure as maths is maths, comes Season Four.

1.   The Smugglers

The Smugglers is a story about some smugglers. There's one, trying to kill Doctor Who in the chin. He wouldn't have tried that with Matt Smith. He'd have done himself a mischief.

Actually, is that one of the smugglers? The plot's actually quite tricksy and not as simple as its "can't be arsed" title suggests. But I wasn't paying proper attention because it's

a) in black and white,

b) in history and therefore boring and

 c) missing on video, so I was watching still photographs again. Sorry.

This photo delights me. Look at the guy in the background. He's so excited to be in Doctor Who! Maybe it's because he's a non white actor in 1960s television. There weren't a great many of them. Though this season has a few, making it a strong contender for the 'Almost Least Racist' era of the show.

2. The Tenth Planet

In this story, Doctor Who meets the Cybermen, who are ace. There's one, standing in the background. I think he looks terrific, even if he doesn't really have a nose.

Doctor Who and Polly look like they're both deeply embarrassed by the Cyberman, like he's being really homophobic.

He's not. He's saying "Weeeeeeeeee arrrrrrrrrrrrr Cyyyyyyyyyyy-Berrrrrrrrr-Meeeeeen".

I'm not kidding. They sound like idiots.

This is yet another of those stories with episodes missing. In this case, though, I can only applaud the BBC's foresight. This animated version of the episode looks great and much more impressive than the original episode probably looked. Well done, BBC, for throwing this one on a fire.

I have one issue, though. The Cyberman in the foreground looks really scary, like he's telling the humans that he won't put up with any dicking around. The one in the background, however, just looks distraught. I think maybe he's done a wee in his Cyber-suit, because he didn't want to interrupt the other one by asking if he could go to the toilet. Now he's sad.

Good thing he doesn't have a nose after all.

This looks great, though, doesn't it? Kaboom! This happens when the humans think they've killed all the Cybermen but, ha, in your face humans, because here are some more! So awesome is this entrance that I temporarily forgot whose side I was on and clapped as the Cybermen killed everyone.

3. Power of the Daleks

Doctor Who is quite tired after his adventure with the Cybermen, so he turns into someone else for a bit. See that guy there, with the dark hair? That's Doctor Who now.

What's great is, the programme makers didn't even bother to explain this astonishing development. They just went "Doctor Who is this guy now. Get used to it. Look, Daleks!"

And everyone went "Ooh! Daleks!" Because Daleks are fun.

The Dalek here is pretending to be nice. "I'm fine!" he's saying. "I like humans and being nice and not killing humans."

Doctor Who doesn't believe the Dalek at all. "Shut your lying whore mouth!" he shouts. The Dalek is quite taken aback at this. "What's got into Doctor Who?" he thinks, "And why is he wearing that hat?"

Look at Doctor Who's stupid hat. That's another way they tried to stop us worrying that it was a different guy. People just looked at the hat and went "Why is that hat happening?"

4. The Highlanders

Doctor Who goes mad in a hat. A different hat.

Polly and Ben are looking at him, thinking "This must be a nightmare."

I didn't enjoy The Highlanders much. They spent most of it on a boat. That's not "the Highlands". It's not even "the land".

5. The Underwater Menace

This is a fish person, doing a swim. This bit goes on for ages. It's like they forgot they were making Doctor Who and said "Let's just do anything for a bit." It's quite fun. You watch it, and you think, "Maybe nothing matters. Maybe this is just how things are."

Here Doctor Who is experimenting with yet another hat. This is his least successful, I think, and I reckon he knows it is.

The guy in the background has an awesome head garment though, doesn't he? But he's wearing it as if it's just normal practice to do so. It's not. This is why, in a bit, their whole civilisation will collapse and everyone will drown.

6. The Moonbase

Ben and Polly seem to have adopted a strategy of hiding from Doctor Who. He's wondering where they've gone. They're very pleased with themselves. What are you going to do if he leaves without you, Ben and Polly? Live on the moon forever? (They're on the moon).

No hat this week. Good. It was becoming tiresome.

More animated Cybermen. And look - the one in the back looks freaked out again. Maybe these are the same ones from The Tenth Planet. They've got different costumes, but I think they look like the same ones. The one at the back is thinking "I hope he doesn't ask me to explain the plan, because I wasn't listening when he explained the plan, and I won't be able to explain the plan."

I took lots of pictures of the Cybermen in this story. I think they're great. This one is just hanging out in space. I'd be scared if I met him. He looks like he doesn't take any shit.

Another fine Cyber- Pic. This one has stayed back in the spaceship to have a disco. I know their masks are just blank, but he looks happy, don't you think? Not ecstatic. Just really content. It's nice when everyone goes out, isn't it?

In this story, the Cybermen poison everyone's coffee, and they get this disease on their face. It looks like that bit from The Evil Dead, where everyone gets spidery faces. I don't think it can be the same thing, though. That would make Evil Dead part of Doctor Who, which seems unlikely, tonally speaking.

I think this guy looks like David Tennant, a bit. It's probably not, though. He's got the space disease on his face, that I mentioned earlier. He's glum about it. And I think it means he does whatever the Cybermen tell him to do. But I don't know how that would work. It's just a space disease, done with coffee. How do you control people with that?

Sometimes Doctor Who doesn't really make sense.

Zap! Another black actor. Hurrah! Except he's been shot in the brain by the Cybermen. He looks startled, but not as startled as I think I'd be. He looks less like "Oh no, a huge silver robot man is in the cupboard!" and more like "I came in here for something and I've forgotten what it was."

7. The Macra Terror

Polly gets her hair cut in this one. It looks rather fetching. Also there are some evil space crabs that control everyone. With gas or something.

This is yet another story that doesn't exist any more, so it's very hard to tell what is going on. There's a lot of singing and I think there's a guy who goes "Stop singing, everyone - we're being controlled by evil space crabs!" No-one listens, because they like the singing, and because evil space crabs sound implausible.

This guy is being eaten by one of the crabs. I can't tell who he's meant to be, though. I think he might be the guy who is in charge of the colony, who suddenly decides to betray the evil space crabs. That's why they're eating him. "Don't betray us," they seem to be suggesting.

I don't know. I think I took this picture because Polly's face looks nice. But there's clearly something urgent happening. That guy in the middle looks like he's singing. Maybe they make a music video to appease the crabs.

It's not that unlikely. This era of the show is nuts.

8. The Faceless Ones

Doctor Who and his friends go to an airport, where they are attacked by this guy. He's an alien, but he's pretending not to be. That space gun is a giveaway, though. Idiot.

Later, the guy catches Polly. Here she is, being terrified of his space pencil. She leaves the show in this story. I think having to pretend to be scared of 'space pencils' was the final straw.

Look! A faceless one. He's really gross looking. Literally no face. That's why he wants to kidnap people who have got faces. Or as he calls them, "the face-y ones". 

9. Evil of the Daleks

This one is awesome. The Daleks go to Victorian England for a bit, and harass this guy here into doing experiments for them. He's not scared, though, is he? He's shouting at the Dalek. "No experiments for you!"

You can't see from this angle, but the Dalek is sad. He wants to do the experiments.

Here, the Daleks stroke Doctor Who. He's enjoying it. The man with the beard wants a go, but they won't let him. He wishes he'd let them do experiments now.

This is the Emperor of the Daleks. He hangs from a ceiling all day, and is experimenting with nudity. The other Daleks don't know where to look. Later, they will all shoot each other to death. This is what happens when you abandon social convention.

That's all for Series Four. One of the weirdest series, and also one where hardly any of the episodes still exist. Sorry for the slightly odd series of pictures. But don't blame me. Blame the people in the 1960s who took the pictures in the first place.

They didn't even do a blog about it. Lazy.