Time to fill a gaping void in this blog by reflecting on tonight's Doctor Who, the second part of a two-parter The Family of Blood.
First thing to say - whilst I was dangerously obsessed by the programme in my childhood, and the books in particular, I don't go to conventions, or dress up as a Cyberman, or spend quality time thinking about Leela. Well, not so much lately, anyway.
Since the series returned, and in particular from David Tennant's time as the Doctor, however, the writing and the production have simply been getting better and better. As someone raised on the old 4-parters with Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, I've had a nagging doubt that trying to cram stories into single 45 minute episodes has meant that too much plot development has been lost. Less of the wandering round gravel pits in Bedfordshire for sure, but at what cost to the narrative? That being said, episodes like Father's Day in the first series were supreme pieces of story-telling.
The two-parters, like tonight's, are a case in point. Episode one was brilliantly paced, with the conceit of making the Doctor truly human a masterstroke. The scarecrows were in the best tradition of everyday items which become objects of fear - certainly enough so for AJ, who found a by-now familiar niche behind an armchair.
Episode Two had the thrills and spills at the start, but was taken to some unexpected places (with the Doctor and Martha saluting a WW1 war veteran at Rembrance Day at the close). The rhythms were completely different and very satisfying. For sad gits like me, there were also some echoes of past episodes in the almost-throwaway fate of the Family (the Claws of Axos and the Five Doctors came to mind).
There are some ugly rumours that the Fourth Series will be the last, and that Russell T Davies is ready to pull the plug on the Doctor. We'll see, but for me, the idea that the series could be allowed to decline as the BBC let it in the late 80's would be a travesty. Maybe it will be time to go out on a high, and for the series to be regenerated again in a few years time.