Horatio

Horatio
[Photo by Jacquelyn Griffin)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Merlyn's Laugh: "Volcano"/"Golden Death"/"Escape Switch" [The Daleks' Master Plan 8-10]


Well, we've left Terry Nation's episodes of this juggernaut behind, and Dennis Spooner is penning the story. Spooner's wit is a drier form of humor than is Nation's, but they each confront the same fundamental quandary: How do you wring drama out of the Doctor, Sara and Steven evading the Daleks and keeping the McGuffin away from them for yet three more episodes?

Spooner, as with his historical episodes, throws in some plot complications. The TARDIS i being chased by another time-traveling vehicle--the Daleks, in hot pursuit, they deduce. They land on Earth, to do repairs, but find themselves in the middle of the Ashes, where the cricket commenters take the appearance of the police box on the pitch as bad news for England, as its presence prevents play, and the announcers put me very much in mind of Chaters and Caldicott. The TARDIS dematerializes, having only cost England 2 1/2 minutes. . .

To land on a volcanic planet, where their pursuer is revealed as the Monk, seeking revenge. He messes with the TARDIS and gloats. The Doctor fixes the TARDIS, and we're away...


To ancient Egypt, where the Doctor expects only the Monk, but in fact, some Daleks with Mavic Chen are en route. (By the bye the TARDIS links pretty beat up again, and seems to have graffiti on it. Sara and Steven stalk the Monk (un, it's the Daleks, guys), while the Doctor fixes the lock.

The Daleks start exterminating ancient Egyptians (the Butterfly Effect isn't so much of a thing for the Daleks.) With Sara and Steven missing, the Doctor has finished his repairs, and goes in search of them.

Meanwhile, the Monk in fact arrives. Sporting some cool shades. The Doctor, wearing a really nice straw hat, stalks him.

Sara and Steven are thought by the Egyptians to be thieves, and possibly allied to the Daleks. They are held captive, but Sara begins to cut herself loose. She and Steven overpower the guards and escape. Meanwhile the Daleks and Chen capture the Monk. Chen begins to interrogate the Monk. He admits that the odd time machine out belongs to the Doctor, and that he wants to settle a score. Well, the Monk ends up getting forced into trying to trap the Doctor (he fails; the Doctor follows him, and changes his TARDIS's appearance from a stone pillar to...a police box. He walks off with a piece of the Monk's TARDIS, and follows him into the tomb. The Monk gets tied up by the Doctor as we can tell when Steven and Sara, entering the tomb find a heavy set figure trapped in a sarcophagus.

And then, blessedly, we move on to a live episode, not a recon.

The Daleks' Master Plan is a struggle in places, in part because the retcons lose so much of the action. The best work very well--The Myth Makers is the most recent example, but this story is so dense that the recons are not as useful as ideal. (Though the tele snaps of of Peter Purves struggling with guards and Jean Marsh in full-on Cathy Gale mode do work with the audio quite well).

But then we get Escape Switch, and realize how much even the best recons necessarily lose.

Kevin Stoney is eating the scenery as Mavic Chen, and remains a delight, slapping a Dalek's eyestalk when it doubts his ability to pull off his plan, but with moments of hesitation when he realizes they will turn on him if he doesn't pull off his mission.

Peter Butterworth as the Monk (now billed as "the Meddling Monk") is quite amusing as he desperately, and weakly, tries to play Dalek off against Sara and Steven, and then Steven (who has met him before) against Sara. When his schemes fail, and he finds himself wandering time and space in a TARDIS he can't steer--well--it works, that's all.

Steven's become fiery, yet not lost his sense of humor. Purves makes him likable, but tough. Not so tough as Sara, he admits, at one point (after they overpower their guards), remarking "remind me never to get into a fight with you."

Sara--oh, she's interesting. She's softening from the tough-as-nails Space Security Agent we first met, but she can pull that persona right back on, and it fits her like a glove. She's a lethal fighter, but she's befriending her companions, learning how to laugh. Jean Marsh really is awfully good in the part.

But the recons, by losing expression and movement, really undermine what Hartnell is doing as the Doctor.

Hartnell's performance here has become steadily more mannered, more "hmming" and laughing to himself. From the audio alone, it sounds off, with the movement and expression, you can see where Hartnell is going--he's Merlyn, as I've suggested. And that constant laughing reminds me of the story Robertson Davies tells in World of Wonders:
“The magician Merlin had a strange laugh, and it was heard when nobody else was laughing. He laughed at the beggar who was bewailing his fate as he lay stretched on a dunghill; he laughed at the foppish young man who was making a great fuss about choosing a pair of shoes. He laughed because he knew that deep in the dunghill was a golden cup that would have made the beggar a rich man; he laughed because he knew that the persnickety young man would be stabbed in a quarrel before the soles of his new shoes were soiled. He laughed because he knew what was coming next.”
The Doctor here is all reassurance, he's in control, amused, he knows what's coming, and, even though he has to give up the McGuffin to the Daleks to save Sara and Steven (yes, and he insists on saving the Monk, if a little unwillingly), and so the danger is greater than ever, he is undaunted.

Where that confidence will lead remains to be seen.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Nashville Mistake



And here I was, about to go to bed early.

Apparently, an organization called the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood has released a document it calls The Nashville Statement, which is accompanied on their website by The Danvers Statement of 1987. The former is a series of affirmations and denials of conservative dogma regarding homosexuality and transgendered individuals, the latter enshrines male headship as God's will for all.

The thing about statements like this, is that they consist purely of abstract principles in every case, demanding adherence based on the authority of a sacred text. And that there is only one right way of being, for all of us to conform to. The Council knows what's best for you, even if your experience of life says different.

It's also based on a foundation of selective storytelling, assuming that there is such a thing as biblical manhood that is modeled for us by (of all people) Adam, and one of womanhood modeled by Eve. Or, in the Nashville Statement, that the existence of the so-called "clobber passages" make homosexuality a first order, forever settled, sin. The Nashville Statement clearly states that to not hold the same views as its signatories is "an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness."

Which proves that the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood has learned absolutely nothing in the 30 years separating the two statements.

Why Adam and Eve, who, after all, caused the Fall by disobedience (need I quote to conservative evangelicals their own favorite old saw that "In Adam's Fall, we sinned all"?) Why not David, or Solomon, or Jacob (who was guided by his mother)? Or St. Joseph, resolved to protect Mary against disgrace before he had any reason to believe in her innocence? As to women, why not Jael, or Deborah who judged Israel with as much authority as any male judge? Or Mary of Bethany, who neglected her domestic duties to learn from our Lord, and received his approbation for it: "Mary has chosen the better part," Jesus said, "which will not be taken away from her?" (Luke 10:42.)

The Bible is filled with people, women and men, who act admirably or terribly, are obedient or disobedient, and fulfill or flout gender expectations. Picking one of each, and insisting all humanity must conform to mythological traits which they are attributed to have had (The Danvers Statement seems to view Eve through the prism of Milton, not Genesis) is dreadful argumentation. It's stacking the deck, by picking the exemplar, and requiring all to live up to the principles drawn from the carefully selected exemplar.

It's strapping down all of humanity to the Bed of Procrustes. And doing so in the name of love.

Likewise, the Nashville Statement. Which scriptural passages are chosen to be proof texted? Why, the five that can be read to allow enforcement of cultural norms conservative evangelicals value, but never the 15 passages indicting usury, not to mention the love of money. (I've already explicated all this in the linked article; forgive me for not going into more detail.) And never, oddly enough, never, Galatians 3:28: "here is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus."

In sum, it's Christianity on the Cheap--enforcing "virtue," defined in a way that doesn't challenge the majority, on the "Other" while not having to look at the beam in one's own eye. And, by remaining bloodless and abstract, never having to look at the price paid for one's own piety by those others who are so conveniently labeled as being in need of redemption.

Romans 8, my favorite passage in all of St. Paul's writings, ends with the great affirmation that, "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." That grace is unearned, a free gift, meant, as I recently quoted Bishop Charles Gore, for all of us. Too much focus on our own sinfulness is morbid. Too much focus on others' leads to cruelty.

As a deacon, my job is to meet people where they are, and to, if I can do nothing else for them, at least stand at the foot of the Cross with them on their own personal Good Friday, if only to point to the Easter light. I don't claim to have always succeeded, but that's a big part of what the gig entails.

So what does the Bible say to gay people? You're a loved child of God.

To transgendered people? You're a loved child of God.

To women? You're a loved child of God.

To men? You're a loved child of God.

Anyone else who feels rejected, damaged, lost? You're a loved child of God.

The rest is all about relationship with God, and responding to that love.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Who's Line is it, Anyway?: The Feast of Steven



This brief hiatus in the larger storyline is very hard to get a handle on. It's the first time that the reconstructions have failed to give me a distinct feel for the episode, and that's largely because the second half is knockabout farce.

The first half was, apparently, going to be a crossover with the police show "Z-Cars", but that program's producers backed out at the last moment. So it's a send up of Z-Cars, and I Suspect I am missing half the jokes.

Still, it's amusing see the TARDIS land in a place where a police box is nothing special, and be treated as such. The Doctor goes out to distract the police (leading his detention, though nobody is quite sure what to charge the annoying old man with, so Steven steals a police uniform, and tries haplessly to rescue him.

Meanwhile, the only useful member of the group is Sara, who fixes the TARDIS scanner, avoids arrest, gets everybody back into the TARDIS, and --

--we land in a silent era Hollywood film studio. I think, though I'm not sure, that it's Hollywood as viewed through the prism of P.G. Wodehouse's depictions of on-set antics--the clumsy would-be sheik, the too into her part vamp, the anxious ingenue--all these are reminiscent of the handful of stories where Wodehouse has either a new character or an established one (say, Bertie and Jeeves, or a stray Mulliner), visit Hollywood. Even the exaggerated producer's egos and the overall farcical tone seems to be striving for that effect. The show even uses title cards of the era to set the mood. (Alas, like some of the names Wodehouse assigned his moguls, "Steinberger P. Green" seems a tad stereotypical, and not in a funny way.)

And then it all falls apart--Green tries to get Steven to act for him, baying that he'll be "bigger than Fairbanks"; Sara hides in a trunk, and complains that everybody wants her to undress, and the Doctor has a chat with a dispirited clown who may give it up--alll the good gags have been done by Chaplin--but who'd ever hire a singer named Bing Crosby.

Happily, it all ends, and then the Doctor brings out champagne and nibbles, and breaks the fourth wall.

Happy holidays, mayhem to come next episode.

To be fair, if we could actually see it, and if the audio wasn't unusually muddy, "The Feast of Steven" might work. Parts of it are amusing--Sara's hauteur is especially amusing in such trivial circumstances, and when the fearsome agent hides in a trunk to avoid being cast in a harem, Jean Marsh is quite good. The Doctor's volley with "Bing" is pretty amusing too. Peter Purves's scenes are the hardest to follow, alas, so they're hard to characterize.

This once, the retcons can't help very much, I'm afraid.

Monday, August 21, 2017

From the Fury

St. Bartholomew's Church,
August 20, 2017

[Preached a week after the “Unite the Right” event and counterprotests in Charlottesville, Virginia, and one day after the peaceful counterprotests in Boston against a similar march there.]

[Update, August 23, 2017: You can hear the audio of the sermon here]

After the week that has passed, I suppose it’s not entirely surprising that we have a Gospel reading about bigotry.

What is surprising is that the bigotry is displayed by Jesus.

That’s right, Jesus.

Here he is, traveling in the unnamed woman’s country—Tyre and Sidon—and a Canaanite woman approaches him, from a distance, crying out for mercy for her daughter.

He doesn’t answer her at all. Not one word.

She keeps calling after him, shouting for mercy for her tormented daughter. Jesus continues to ignore her, but the disciples get annoyed at her constant cries, and ask Jesus to send her away.

So, at last he responds to her. But not as we might expect. He spurns her, saying “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Well, as a Canaanite, she certainly isn’t that—the Canaanites were the original people of the land who were mostly conquered by Moses and Joshua, and who were blamed for introducing the Israelites to the worship of the Baals.[1] So there’s a historical enmity between Jesus’s people and hers.

At last the woman draws near to him, and kneels to him. “Lord, help me,” is all she says.

Jesus’s reply is cutting even two thousand years later. “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs,” he says.

But she answers back, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

At this point, Jesus exclaims “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish!” And her daughter, we are told, was instantly healed.

Happy ending, right?

Well, yes, the ending is happy enough. But though I’ve poured over various Bible commentaries looking for an answer, and none of them make this story any less harder for me, and less rough for me to deal with.

Because Jesus’s behavior is genuinely shocking here. He insults the woman, calling her and her tormented daughter dogs, in comparison with the beloved children of Israel.

If you believe Aaron Gall’s commentary in The Jewish Annotated New Testament, the disciples may have been asking him to perform the exorcism, if only to get rid of her. [2]

Which means that the disciples, who are usually pretty clueless in the Gospels, are actually showing more mercy than Jesus is at this point in the story.

She is a Canaanite, so, to him, she is a dog—less than human.

This story troubled me for years, because it’s such out of character behavior for Jesus. I could never really believe the apologists who said he was just testing her faith, or testing the disciple, because I couldn’t imagine Jesus putting a woman tortured with anxiety and fear for her daughter through such a test, or using her as a teaching tool. The theologians let me down.

No, it was, of all people, the agnostic playwright George Bernard Shaw who helped me see my way through this passage.

Let me explain.

Shaw wrote prefaces to his plays that were sometimes longer than the plays—essays on subjects related to the play, if only a tangentially. In 1915, he wrote a play retelling the story of Androcles & the Lion. That’s an old fable about a tailor who finds a lion with a thorn in its paw, and, feeling sorry for it, removes the thorn.

Later, the Romans throw Androcles into into the arena with a group of other Christians, only for the lion to remember him and protect him. Shaw’s play is about Christian faith in times of persecution, and just what they believed. And what led them to risk death, rather than betray their faith. So of course appended a 100 page exegesis of all four gospels.

Here is what I learned about the story of the Canaanite woman from Bernard Shaw.

In all four gospels, there is nobody who beats Jesus in a verbal joust. Except for this one nameless foreign, desperate woman. She wins the argument, by her humility, her insistence that the crumbs of mercy that fall from the table of the children will suffice to save her child—in other words, she believes in Jesus when his own behavior has given her no reason to.

Shaw describes the story as “somehow one of the most touching in the Gospel; perhaps because the woman rebukes the prophet by a touch of his own finest quality.”[3]

And he’s right.

Shaw acknowledges that Jesus’s behavior toward her is “certainly out of character,” even describing it as bigoted, in the way of many people of his time, and describes her as having melted the bigot out of him and “made Christ a Christian.”[4]

As he says, she rebukes the prophet with a touch of his own finest quality—that loving openness that, for whatever reason, he couldn’t muster that day. We don’t know why—fatigue? His own town’s recent rejection of him? The frustration of being sought after as a show but not heard? It’s a terribly human moment on Jesus’s part, and the woman recalls him back to himself.

Just this once, Jesus gets as much as he gives in a miracle story. He’s come back to himself, as he describes the prodigal son in Luke’s gospel.

Just this once he needed to be called back to his truest, best self. And it was the other, the hereditary enemy, the woman of another people, the dog, who was there for him.

I think many of us, certainly me, need to be called back to our truest, best selves after these past days. Look, you’ve probably read the wise statements from our bishops—from our own rector, Bishop Dean E. Wolfe,[5] from our diocesan bishop, Andrew Dietsche,[6] and from our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry.[7]

I can’t match them for wisdom or insight, and I’m not going to try. But maybe I can help if, like me, you are finding it hard to let go of that smoldering anger, after watching video of angry faces bathed in torchlight, Nazi flags proudly waving and Nazi armbands proudly worn. If it’s hard to let go of the anger at attacks on anti-racist protesters, leading to the death of Heather Heyer and the wounding 19 others trapped in that crowded street with her. We don’t know how many others were hurt that day, never mind as they lived through those attacks, some of which devolved into pitched battles.

All in the name of a White Supremacist ideology, of Nazism, of the Ku Klux Klan—old specters risen again to stalk our land. A part of our national story we hoped was in retreat, if not entirely vanquished.

The further tears in our already battered national unity that have resulted in the past week as equivocal and weak official responses have led those who hold those unabashedly evil ideologies to claim that they have gone mainstream have roused anger nationwide, and justifiably so. In Boston yesterday, we have seen those ideologists routed by peaceful protests, responding in anger, yes, but not with hatred. Because righteous anger can all too easily curdle into hate.

In our minds, we know the answer: that righteous anger leads all too easily to unrighteous behavior, like the old military theory of replication that postulates that those defending civil society over time take on the attributes of those they oppose.

But that’s too abstract. It’s too intellectual. I have to go back to Shaw again, who in his play St. Joan has the chaplain who has argued throughout her trial that Joan is a heretic, return from her execution in tears and horror. He says:
You don't know: you haven’t seen: it is so easy to talk when you don’t know. You madden yourself with words: you damn yourself because it feels grand to throw oil on the flaming hell of your own temper. But when it is brought home to you; when you see the thing you have done; when it is blinding your eyes, stifling your nostrils, tearing your heart, then— [8]
--then it is all too late, of course.

So what do we do to quench the anger? Where do we look?

Heather Heyer put her body on the line to protest against white supremacy in all its ugly guises, without hate, that day in Charlottesville. A lot of other people did too people did—women and men, clergy and lay, students and professors, people of all races and orientations, and all walks of life.

She and they thought that risk was worth it. She and every single person who stood on that line in peaceful opposition to White Supremacy in all of its guises point us in the right direction.

The vast crowd that turned out in Boston to oppose neo-Nazism and White Supremacy in all of its variants, and did so peacefully, point us in the right direction.

Last week, Mark Heyer, whose daughter Heather was killed when a grey Dodge Charger plowed through a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville who had assembled to demonstrate against a gathering of White Supremacists there, pointed to the Cross.

Here is what he said:

My daughter was a strong woman who had passionate opinions about the equality of everyone and she tried to stand up for that. And for her it wasn’t lip service, it was real. It was something that she wanted to share with everyone. And my thoughts with all of this stuff is that people need to stop hating and they need to forgive each other. I include myself in that forgiving the guy that did this. He don’t know no better. I just think about what the Lord said on the cross. Lord, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.[9]
If Mark Heyer, in the hour of his greatest desolation, can call us to our best selves, who are we not to listen?


________________

Notes

[1] Aaron M. Gall, “The Gospel According to Matthew,” in Amy-Jill Levine & Marc Zvi Brettler, eds., THE JEWISH ANNOTATED NEW TESTAMENT at 29 (2011).
[2] Id.
[3] Bernard Shaw, Preface to Androcles and the Lion, THE PREFACES OF BERNARD SHAW at 538 (Constable, 1934).
[4] Id.
[5] Statement of Rt. Rev. Dean E. Wolfe, archived at: http://stbarts.org/statement-in-response-to-the-violence-in-charlottesville-virginia/
[6] Statement of Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, archived at: https://www.dioceseny.org/bishop-dietsche-on-charlottesville/
[7] Statement of the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, archived at: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/posts/publicaffairs/message-presiding-bishop-michael-curry-where-do-we-go-here-chaos-or-community
[8] Bernard Shaw, St Joan, in THE COMPLETE PLAYS OF BERNARD SHAW at 1002 (Odham’s Press, Ltd. 1934).
[9] Clark Mindock, “Heather Heyer: Father of Charlottesville victim says he forgives the white supremacist who killed his daughter,” The Independent, 15 August 2017, archived at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/charlottesville-protests-latest-heather-heyer-father-mark-forgives-james-fields-killing-his-daughter-a7894996.html








Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Daleks' Master Plan (Parts 1-6)



Yes, I know. I'm not even listing the episode titles for this one. Sorry. I can't even, as the kids say.

But the 12 part storyline The Dalek's Master Plan Is a strange one--it's long (obvioulsy) and, written as it is by Terry Nation and Dennis Spooner, filled with lots of plot complications and twists and turns. The thing is, summarizing those twists and turns isn't all that much fun, and we'd get lost in a lot of the more intricate, less interesting, bits of plotting.

The story begins right after the TARDIS's hurried departure from Troy. The TARDIS lands in some forsaken wasteland, the Doctor starts exploring to find some medical help for Steven, poisoned in the last episode of The Mythmakers. Katarina, the handmaiden who brought him into the TARDIS, is trying to help, but, as she thinks the Doctor is Zeus and that she and Steven are dead, she's of limited utility.

Enter Bret Vyon, Space Security Service, man of action, who'd return in a few years in an iconic role. Bret is trapped by the Doctor (he wants to capture the TARDIS and use it to warn Earth of impending Dalek invasion, so he's a goodie at heart). Indeed, bound to a chair by the Doctor, he persuades Katarina to retrieve some pills from his belt and administer them to Steven, saving his life.

OK, see? I'm doing plot exposition. Maybe I should do a more Missy-style Catch up.

The Daleks have formed a league with some other aliens to conquer the Solar System. Vyon wants to stop them, the Doctor et al try to help. The Guardian of the Solar System, Mavic Chen (a scenery-chewing, great hambone performance by Kevin Stoney is betraying the Solar System by having a rare metal core (50 years in the making) for a Time Destructor (whatever that is) made. It's a McGuffin you could buy at Radio Shack. The
Doctor swipes the thing from the Conference of Evildoers, Vyon hijacks Chen's ship (they can't take the TARDIS--and this is the first good joke in the story--because they need to get where and when reliably.). On the way they're forced to land on a prison planet; they escape but one of psycho band of prisoners grabs Katarina as a hostage to make them take him anywhere but Earth. He picks Kemble--ie, where the Daleks are--and Katarina proves once and for all that she's not the naïf everyone thought she is, because she opens the airlock pulling her captor and herself into space, to save the others. It's brutal, even in a recon.

When they reach Earth, Chen--who followed in hot pursuit--makes sure That Kingdom, the Space Security Service's most ruthless agent, is assigned to kill the infiltrators and retrieve the McGuffin. We discover (and thank heaven we have this part in film and not just recon) is Sara Kingdom--and she guns down Bret Vyon, her own brother, and then coolly sends her agents out to kill the Doctor and Steven. "Shoot them in the head," she instructs them, to ensure the McGuffin is not endangered.

Meanwhile the Doctor and Steven--and Sara, who jumps into the room with them at the last second--get transported, along with some lab mice, to a planet far away, and (1) the Daleks trap them; (2) The Daleks exterminate the mice; (3) Sara is convinced of Chen's treachery, and grieves for Bret; (4) the Doctor, Sara and Steven steal the Dalek ship, and fly to Kemble. During the trip back, the Doctor makes a fake McGuffin and Steven finishes it, temporarily acquiring immunity to energy weapons. The Doctor turns over the fake outside the TARDIS and they all run inside--the Daleks fire at them, hitting Steven, but see earlier statement re energy weapons, temporary immunity to. The TARDIS dematerializes...

***

See what I mean? What a run-around. But so much to praise/condemn along the way.

The Daleks' Allies What a useless bunch of refugees from Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show (Or is it Dark & Nightshade these days? Hard to remember...)

The Daleks: Really, guys? You send the Laurel and Hardy of Skaro to track down the Doctor and the last piece of your superweapon? Ogrons would have done a better job. As for exterminating the mice because they were potentially hostile? Lame. Just lame.

Mavic Chen: Ridiculing the Daleks when they try to blame him for their failures, over-the-top megalomaniacal, he's the best old fashioned villain to date. I suspect I'll still rate the inimitable Roger Delgado well over Stoney--but he's good. Quite good.

Bret Vyon: Cool, unflappable, but with a sense of honor--sounds like Nicholas Courtney's iconic Brig, right? But he isn't; there's a tension, a near-desperate quality to him that differentiates him from Courteny's later performances. Subtle differences in body language and tone of voice. Vyon is tough, but he's at the limit.

Katarina: Basically she got stuck on the TARDIS by accident, helping Steven inside. She's just a place keeper, you might think, Until Adrienne Hill nails that horrifying, but noble death scene. Katarina is under no illusions; she's sacrificing herself, and it's raw and it hurts. And she's right.

Sara Kingdom: An amazing turn from Jean Marsh. Totally different from Joanna in The Crusade--all clipped commands and subtlety, even grieving. If I'm reading the dates right, Sara appears before Emma Peel in The Avengers. Whether or not that's so, Sara reminds me more of Cathy Gale, who proceeded Diana Rigg's Emma Peel, particularly in her earlier appearances where she's sterner, less playful.

Marsh makes Kingdom a true professional whose professionalism is used against her, and she's now desperate to stop Chen and wrest some meaning out of her brother's death, at her hands.

Doctor Who doing Space Opera rarely works; this part of the story could have been superb trimmed down to a four-parter. But what's good is really good.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

"Destroy and Rejoice!": In the Wake of Charlottesville

In the last few months, the main item on this blog has been what I call "Anglocat in the TARDIS," my reactions to the episodes of Doctor Who From its pilot in 1963 to, um, however far I get. The reason for this feature is that, in a world that seems to be getting darker, I wanted to write about something fun, and, frankly, I wanted to get my creative juices flowing again, as my second novel has been sluggish in coalescing. So I have been following William Hartnell's exploits as the Doctor, even those that have been lost in whole or in part, and have reached the longest story in the show's history, the twelve-episode saga, The Daleks' Masterplan. Only three episodes survive, but reconstructions using telesnaps and the audio tracks fill the gap. And so I have viewed the first six episodes.

But tonight is not the time to write about them. One day after the horror of Charlottesville, I am not ready yet to return to the pleasant parables of fiction. Because we have some unfinished business.

Back when I wrote about the first episodes of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, I noted that the Daleks were a parable about the Nazis, and, in particular in that story, what defeat at their hands would have meant to Great Britain. I wrote about how the story postulated resistance fighters, collaborators, and those whose wills would be utterly broken.

In a later story, The Chase, the Daleks chant, not yet the repeated "Exterminate!" we expect nowadays but "Exterminate! Seek and Destroy! Destroy and Rejoice!"

It is the only suggestion I can recall in many years as a fan that Daleks could find joy in anything, and that is solely in destruction. There are people of whom I could say the same. Some of them were carrying their ludicrous tiki torches yesterday, seeking to be important the only way they knew how--cruelty. Ambush. Inflicting harm.

They sought the legitimation of a philosophy, and found it in White Nationalism. In neo-Nazism. At last, they had permission to uncover their true and ugly selves.

***

Back in college, lo these 30 years ago, I had a part in a production of Jean Anouilh's adaptation of Antigone--in which the great dramatist cast the eponymous heroine as the French Resistance, Creon as the Nazi Occupation, and the guards as the collaborators, and did so in such a compelling, psychologically real, manner that both sides embraced it. (This is less inconsistent with Sophocles than you might think; Martha Nussbaum has argued that both Antigone and Creon are simultaneously wrong and right; Werner Jaeger made a similar argument).

In that production, as the chief of the three guards, and the only one given a name, I represented the collaborators. Believe me, it's not a headspace you want to be in.

***

Yet we find ourselves confronted with the resurgence of explicit advocates for white supremacy, our Nation's darkest taproot, clashing with the people of Charlottesville, who stood up to them almost entirely non-violently, representing once again the better angels of our natures. We must choose. Do we stand against the Nazis and the White Supremacists, as a broad array of unlikely bedfellows such as New York's Andrew Cuomo and Mitt Romney, with Elizabeth Warren and Orrin Hatch. (To name but a few--many strong express condemnations from left and right have been made, and deserve commendation)?

Or do we temporize? Equivocate? Do we hope it goes away until we are engulfed, like the collaborators in Antigone or the Robomen in Terry Nation's science fiction parable?

All of us, old, young, middle aged, will be judged, at least by history. This is our hour.

Where do we stand?

T.H. White, in the depths of the Blitz, wrote in The Once and Future King, that "[t]he fate of this man or that man was less than a drop, although it was a sparkling one, in the great blue motion of the sunlit sea." But those drops, surging together, can carve away landmasses, create new shorelines, and wash away the blood and soil of the past.

Speak up; tell your truths in opposition to the lies of Fascism and White Supremacy.

Make neighbors out of strangers.

Most of all, pay attention to who respond to these events and who temporizes.

And vote.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Failing Uncle Fred

Yesterday, I wrote about a novel, whose hero, a scholar in 1930s England, in the grip of unbearable depression sought for a cause to lose himself in--romantic love, scholarship, religion, and, as a final desperate throw, the idea that Germany under Hitler could rejuvenate a seemingly decadent society. But, as I noted, even the fictional Roy Calvert was appalled and revolted by anti-semitism. All too many English people, like Oswald Mosley and his followers, lacked that decency, but the fictional Roy Calvert, and the man he was based in part on, did. Both the fiction and the real man gave their lives fighting the evil of Nazism.

And before we get all superior about Mosley, let me remind you of our own home-grown version. Including at least one American hero gone bad.

So today, amidst chaos and violence spurred by a march of Americans who embrace the teachings of Nazism and its American counterpart, I thought of a very different hero: My Uncle Fred.

No, not P.G. Wodehouse's fictional character Uncle Fred. An Uncle Fred you've never heard about except for from me every Veteran's Day.

Uncle Fred was the widower who first dated and then married my long-widowed grandmother--the spirited, talented, singer who had recreated herself as a Mexican singer when her opera career went bust in the Great Depression, later marrying my grandfather, whom I never met because of his early death. But I was at my grandmother's wedding to Uncle Fred, and didn't even need a TARDIS.

I mention this because Uncle Fred fought in World War II, and was among those American soldiers who discovered the ultimate Nazi horror. He helped liberate a concentration camp, caring for the victims of what I can only think of as one of the two worst systematic and thought out evils perpetuated by humankind--the Holocaust, rivaled only by the chattel slave system.

He didn't talk about it much--you had to pry it out of him, and even then needed a good lever, like when I used a family history project I was assigned in my senior year of high school to get him to open up. (My sister, whom he adored, didn't need such tools).

No "Greatest Generation" for Uncle Fred; he looked to the future, to build upon what he and his generation had to face, and to make a better world. Despite an appalling family tragedy, he never lost that faith. He was gentle as only a man who has seen too much cruelty can be. He loved my grandmother, her children and grandchildren as if we were his own. He followed a spiritual path, and devoted himself to service. He believed that the world could and should be better. If you called him a hero, he'd smile sadly and shake his head.

Three decades after Uncle Fred's death, itself 40 years after the war in which he served, what we have long called The Good War because of the sheer monstrousness our Nation opposed, Americans are marching on behalf of both of those systematic and carefully worked out evils.

We can say many things about today's events, and, as we learn more, no doubt we will. Free speech and its limits will be discussed, the wisdom (or lack thereof) of tolerance of the intolerant, what it means that there are among us some who see in Hitler's seizure of power a model for the future, instead of what it is, a nightmare from the past.

Today, I see a Nation and its children who are failing my Uncle Fred. And not just mine, but all the men and women who put their lives on the line in that struggle against, as T.H. White called it, "the ancient brutal dream of Attila the Hun."

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Novelist, Not The Biographer

I have previously written of my very great affection for C.P. Snow's The Light and the Dark (1947)--the second written volume of his Strangers and Brothers series (though its action takes place such that it would be the fourth volume if read in terms of continuity). I thought enough of it to but a first edition of it from the Strand Rare Book Room, and gave my early edition to someone who had taught me something of spirituality, who I thought would value it.

To quote my own summary:
The storyline is simple; the novel focuses on Roy Calvert, an able young researcher into ancient languages trying to translate an extraordinary document, what is believed to be the only surviving written work of the Manichees, hitherto known only by the writings of their enemies, such as St. Augustine. In truth, a handful of fragments and isolated quotations exist as well, but the manuscript Calvert is working on, a psalm-book, provides the best chance of understanding the Manichaean world view as communicated amongst adherents to that faith, with its distinction of the world into--you guessed it--Light and Dark.

The Psalm-Book is real enough; it was translated by Charles Allberry, who is affirmed by Snow's brother Philip to have been the model for Roy Calvert. Like the fictional Calvert, Philip Snow asserts, Allberry suffered from terrible bouts of depression, and moments of manic elation, but was also charismatic, charming and kind, especially to those who were poor, oppressed, or unhappy.

Snow makes Calvert very real, and sympathetic; it doesn't hurt that the character is that rarity, a fictional wit whose dialogue is in fact witty. For much of the book, he tilts quixotically against those in power who have become pompous, and use learning for fame, or to keep others down. His characteristic method is to solemnly interrogate them, tripping them up in logical inconsistencies, or revealing their hypocrisies in deadpan dialectic.

These amusing interludes, as well as some society life, are punctuated by Roy's struggle against his own "oddly mechanical" affliction--depression, destructive elation, relief, alternating in phases only the length of which are unpredictable--leads him to try to lose himself--in God, in women and drink, even flirting with Fascism (the novel is set in the mid-Thirties into World War II).

This last is an interesting, and risky move. It happens quite late in the book, after we have come to like Calvert very much indeed, and is a shock. It's profoundly narratively counterintuitive to have the character drawn to fascism be sympathetic (in Powell's Dance, it's Widmerpool who is a quite unlovely, though interesting figure). Calvert's attraction to fascism causes for the first time a strain in his long friendship with narrator Lewis Eliot, law don and generally reasonable man, himself a firm anti-Fascist, as was Snow, from the get-go. Calvert, no political thinker, is drawn to it as a means of throwing himself away in hopes of escape from the crippling, debilitating depression he suffers--he is a specific instance of Erich Fromm's "Escape From Freedom." Even while he finds himself drawn to it, Calvert is revolted by its bigotry and antisemitism, as well as its disdain for the odd characters Calvert loves--he even risks his life to save a Jewish couple from the Nazi regime. It's a brilliant portrayal of cognitive dissonance.

Ultimately, Roy himself rejects the Reich as "a feeble simulacrum for his search for God", admitting to Eliot that "I was clutching at anything of course," and sadly describing it as "my last grab." (Ch. 33)

So Roy gives in, and tries to live with his affliction, while he serves in the War. First in intelligence, but then, as the depression closes in on him, he chooses to join the RAF, after enquiring of Eliot what is the most dangerous duty to be had. He becomes a bomber pilot, because he wants to die but can't quite kill himself. In his surrender, he marries, and his wife bears a daughter. And Roy becomes, ironically, free of the cycle that has driven him to choose death over life; he finds, at last a certain peace. Now that he no longer wants to die, though, he is stuck; "One can't change one's mind," Roy admits, "It[war] holds one to it." (Ch. 38)
Calvert fascinated me, enough so that when an opportunity to obtain a copy of Allberry's translation of the Psalm-Book, I took it. It is the only genuinely rare book I own.

Recently, I stumbled on an interesting piece exploring the extent to which Calvert might not be an entirely faithful picture of Allberry, but may have incorporated aspects of Larry Darrell, one of the characters in The Razor's Edge. That led me to a book compiled and in part written by Allberry's widow, Patricia Lewis, titled, Charles Allberry-A Portrait (1984). Privately printed, the book is a collection of reminiscences of Allberry, by Lewis herself, but by a series of his friends and colleagues.

As Lewis explains the genesis of the Portrait, "my son David, having re-read C.P. Snow's novel 'The Light and the Dark', the main character of which 'Roy Calvert', was partly based on my late husband, Charles Allberry, asked me 'Was my father really like that?'"; The Portrait is an effort to provide an answer. Lewis wrote her own account of her whirlwind courtship and all too brief marriage, and then "wrote to those few friends of Charles who survive and whose addresses I know for theirs." The book is a labor of love, as much meant for her son as for the memory of her late husband. It is touching in places, especially Lewis's own account, and certainly complicates the identification of Allberry with Calvert. S. Gorley Putt, whose article set me off on this literary jaunt, looked at the differences in Snow's novel and in Lewis's Portrait, noting that "They remind one of the difference between fiction and fact, however closely a fictional figure may resemble a real person in some aspects. I do this in fairness not only to Charles Allberry but also to my other friend, Charles Snow the novelist {not, remember, "the biographer")."

It is interesting, though, to examine the aspects of Snow's depiction of Calvert that clearly upset his widow. As she writes, when she heard that Snow had written a book based on Allberry:
I bought it at W.H. Smith's, and, like his parents, was distressed at what I read. To those who did not know Charles and have difficulty in differentiating between the true and fictional qualities portrayed in the book, I should like to say this: I can vouch for the fact that Charles was never sexually immoral, the reverse was true--he was a man of high moral and religious principles; that though he poked fun at people and delighted in bringing them down a peg if they became, as he thought, "inflated", he would never bait them--he was too kind for that; that at times he suffered moods of depression may well be true (what highly intellectual man or woman does not?), but that these were grossly exaggerated by the author and provided the theme for the novel, and certainly I never saw him depressed; that he was not pro-Nazi (as events later proved) though he might have admired the Nazi efficiency and orderliness--he detested their treatment of the Jews and other dissidents and the disservice they were rendering to universal scholarship. He did admire the German people, especially their industry and enthusiasm, the cleanliness of their towns, their music and poetry.
(Portrait at 6).

Now,with one significant exception, this is not really inconsistent with Snow's novel.

To deal with the most damning piece first, Calvert's pro-Nazi leanings, he is depicted as admiring the energy and efficiency of the Reich. This is repeated several times in the novel, but most notably when Calvert invites the narrator Lewis Eliot to Germany, where Calvert is pursuing his studies. As they walk through Berlin, the friends quarrel:
"It has great power. Don't you feel it has great power?" He spoke with extreme force. As he spoke, I knew for sure what I had already suspected: he had brought me to Berlin to convert me.

****

He had set out to convince me that the Nazis had history on their side.
The future could be in German hands. There would be great suffering on the way, they might end in a society as dreadful as the worst of this present one: but there was a chance—perhaps a better chance than any other—that in time, perhaps in our lifetime, they would create a brilliant civilisation.

'If they succeed', said Roy, 'everyone will forget the black spots. In history success is the only virtue."
(The Light and the Dark, 183). Calvert views the world (as does Eliot, as do many of the figures in the novel), as a choice between Germany and Russia, believing that the democracies of Europe had used up their moral and philosophical force. He finds Communism "sterile" and "naive"; He finds the Germans more "human." (Light and the Dark, at 184-185).

But like Allberry, Roy inveighs (at some risk to himself, as this is taking place in Nazi Germany, "at an august official dinner") against anti-semitism: "You're a wonderful people," Roy says, as a concerned English attache in Berlin tells Eliot, "You're grave. You're gifted. You might begin a new civilization. I wish you would. I'm speaking as a friend, you see. But don't you think you're slightly mad? Your treatment of the Jews--why need you do it? It's unnecessary. It gets you nowhere. It's insane. Sometimes I think, whatever else you do, it will be enough to condemn you." (Light and the Dark, at 175-176). In later novels, we read that he has helped several Jewish scholars and dissidents to escape before the outbreak of war.

Roy's flirtation with the Reich takes place in 1938; by 1939, he has rejected the Reich as his last, most desperate effort to throw himself into a purpose that could save him. He only turns to it after romantic love, and then religion fail him because he simply can't believe in God.

Roy's teasing only turns cruel on one occasion, when he revives an old academic scandal at an academic gathering honoring an old fraud. Mostly, his humor accords with Allberry's own as described by his widow.

As to the depression, Pat Lewis quotes a letter from Snow to his brother Philip that demonstrates that, whatever her experience of Allberry was, Snow believed that Allberry suffered:
His loss is harder to bear than that of any of my other friends would be. I learned from him more of the adventures and solitariness of the spirit than from anyone else; in some ways he was the most gifted and the most remarkable of all of us, and the most unhappy."
While some contributors to the volume deny any depression at all on the part of Allberry, others describe specific outbreaks of it, while noting the difficulty of the times--the Great Depression and the Second World War. Most acknowledge that Snow knew Allberry far better and longer than did they.

The one area where Snow's depiction is completely inconsistent with A Portrait? Sexual and morality and faith. Allberry converted to Roman Catholicism--not because Pat Lewis was a Catholic herself, but as he grew alienated from the Anglo-Catholicism in which he was raised. That's a fact, on which we Allberry's own words, preserved in a letter in A Portrait. Calvert struggles with faith, and fails, as I described in my recent sermon and it was Catholicism that called to him.

I'm not claiming that Snow is "right" and Pat Lewis is "wrong." I'm claiming that Snow the novelist, not the biographer (as Putt admirably phrases it) is closer to her memories than she realizes, and that his love of his friend did not stop him from recalling, if possibly heightening, his dangerous flirtation with a political philosophy the full scope of whose evil was not fully grasped by many in England at the time. Both portraits are done with love, one in charcoal, the other in brighter colors. Each enriches the other. Snow's novel does not take away Lewis's reminiscence--she depicts the surprising joy and fulfillment he found as a husband in the last years of his life (Snow depicts Calvert's war-time marriage as happy, too, and as breaking the cycle of depression if not permanently, then at least until Calvert's death). Her surety that he found religious faith at the time of his conversion--well, the Roy we see at the end is at peace.

But ultimately, only one of them was real. Charles Allberry was clearly a greatly gifted man, a complex and brave man, and one who raised the emotional temperature of a room by his presence. Nigel Havers captured that in the adaptation. CP Snow gave him the means to do it. But Lewis's Portrait reminds us that history has its claims, even over fiction.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

No Day But Today



Some years ago, when I was still properly considered a young lawyer, I was in the elevator on the way up to the office. A colleague in entertainment law was in the elevator with me, clearly deeply upset. When I asked what was wrong, she told me that her friend Jonathan Larson had died, shortly before his new show, which she was sure would have put him on the map, was to open.

Rent opened despite Larson's death. I didn't see it.

Pity, that. It had something very important to say to me, though I wasn't ready to hear it.

Somewhat later--not very long, really--an old friend told me that a date had fallen through and he had theater tickets. He proposed an exchange: I'd buy dinner, the tickets were on him. I agreed, and we saw Rent. The message had been delivered.

As I was internalizing it, I turned for some light reading to a novel a very different old friend had recommended to me, a novel by Lawrence Block, that carried the same message in a very different form.

That was more than twenty years ago.

***

Looking for something else online this evening (hint: Anglocat in the TARDIS is due to resume), I stumbled on the video of "No Day But Today" which brought those days back to me, and one more, that reminded me of a smaller, but very happy memory.

***

On New Years Eve at the turn of the millennium, I was at an apartment overlooking Times Square owned by one of seven guys I roomed with in college, several of whom were there--I don't talk about these gents enough, but they have meant a great deal to me, even though I don't see them often. They helped me grow up.

Anyway, around 11:00, Times Square was full, and my host gestured out to his balcony.

"You want Mark?" He asked.

"You're Roger," I answered.

We went out and serenaded the crowd with a song we each implicitly trusted the other to know, and which fit the night perfectly. Here it is done by the originals, albeit years later:



Thanks, Jonathan.

Thanks, Larry.

Still here--no day but today.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

"A Bit Late to Say 'Whoa' to the Horse": The Mythmakers: "Temple of Secrets"/"Small Prophet, Quick Return"/"Death of a Spy"/"Horse of Destruction"

"Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,
Wherein he puts alms for oblivion,
A great-sized monster of ingratitudes:
Those scraps are good deeds past; which are devour'd
As fast as they are made, forgot as soon
As done: perseverance, dear my lord,
Keeps honour bright: to have done is to hang
Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail
In monumental mockery. Take the instant way;
For honour travels in a strait so narrow,
Where one but goes abreast: keep then the path;
For emulation hath a thousand sons
That one by one pursue: if you give way,
Or hedge aside from the direct forthright,
Like to an enter'd tide, they all rush by
And leave you hindmost;
Or like a gallant horse fall'n in first rank,
Lie there for pavement to the abject rear,
O'er-run and trampled on: then what they do in present,
Though less than yours in past, must o'ertop yours;
For time is like a fashionable host
That slightly shakes his parting guest by the hand,
And with his arms outstretch'd, as he would fly,
Grasps in the comer: welcome ever smiles,
And farewell goes out sighing. O, let not virtue seek
Remuneration for the thing it was;
For beauty, wit,
High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service,
Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all
To envious and calumniating time.”


The speech is given to Ulysses in Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, and subverts the nobility of Homer's Iliad. Yet this speech provided the title for Simon Raven's scathing 10-volume depiction of life in Britain from 1945 through the 1970s. Raven's jaundiced eye is useful to us here.

***

After the rather flat farewell to Verity Lambert that was Mission to the Unknown, I had low expectations for The Mythmakers. It's a serial that is entirely missing, though the reconstruction by Loose Cannon feels much less static than many others. Possibly that's because so much of the story is powered by the dialogue, and the actors--especially the guest stars--are having a whale of a time.

That's in part because we are not in Homer's Troy, nor yet even Shakespeare's poetic, if scandalous and tainted. Troy. No, only Shakespeare's scabrous Thersites captures the Trojan war as seen by scriptwriter Donald Cotton; Cotton takes his cue from Thersites's description of the War:
Here is such patchery, such juggling and such
knavery! all the argument is a cuckold and a
whore; a good quarrel to draw emulous factions
and bleed to death upon. Now, the dry serpigo on
the subject! and war and lechery confound all!
The characters are neither Homer's nor Shakespeare's; Achilles is rash, but hardly the killing machine of myth or drama; Odysseus seems to be a barbarian, at first, but turns out to be clever as advertised, and cynical as Shakespeare's, but without the philosophy to back it. Agamemnon cries out to be played by Brian Blessed, but Jack Melford carries it off quite well.Menelaus doesn't even want Helen back, and knew what he was getting when he married her. (Talk about getting under the radar).

Hector is unimpressive (his brief duel with Achilles is more silly than thrilling), Paris a weak-willed coward who wants to be important (Steven has to goad him into a fight which Steven deliberately loses to get into Troy and rescue Vicki; Paris's newfound courage is, er, transitory), Priam is so innocent he needs a guardian--though he is quite nice-natured. As is Troilus, who falls hard for Vicki. Just as well, really.

The Greeks are bastards, the Trojans are dilettantes, they both really want to command the trade routes, and Helen is a pretext we never even see. (It would have been a perfect in-joke if they'd cast Jacqueline Hill).

It's a jet-black comedy with the Doctor trying to avoid suggesting the Trojan Horse (he can't believe Homer had it right and anyone would be that stupid--pro tip: they are), Vicki being renamed by Priam as Cressida and falling in love with Troilus (at least the script tries to earn this), and Steven just getting in the way. Oh, and episode 3, "Death of a Spy"--the title refers to Odysseus's mute friend who is killed by Paris's patrol for for not answering a soldier's question.

And yet it all works. These characters are funny, infuriating, silly, and steal the show out from under the regulars. Even Frances White's Cassandra is interesting, het petulance and frustration mounting throughout the storyline.

War isn't glorious in Doctor Who. Not in 1965. It's Shakespeare's wasteland, for wretched causes and stupidity run riot, minus the poetry.

Even without a single surviving episode, this one's a stone classic.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

"You Could Almost Do Anything": Verity's Mission to the Unknown



Mission to the Unknown, represents the last time we'll see the credit "Producer: Verity Lambert"on Doctor Who, and it's a shame for several reasons. First, because, as indicated in my write up of Galaxy Four, incoming John Wiles is hardly a champion of women's empowerment in the show--my limited defense of the dramatic possibilities of Maaga and the Drahvins aside, the incoming team is about to drop the spirited Vicki, because Maureen O'Brien was too assertive, and for all of Stephanie Bidmead's character building, she really only had two scraps of the script to draw on. For the rest, the Drahvins are all too much like a certain type of man's fear of women in authority, written and televised when the woman in authority was leaving.

Second, it's just not. . . very good. No, it tells the story of Space Security Agent Marc Cory, who is trapped, along with astronaut Gordon Lowery, with a broken spaceship on the planet Kemble (after Fanny, if the melodrama is anything to go by), and discovers nefarious Dalek doings: A plot by the pepper pots and their allies (they have allies here), to conquer the Solar System, and especially. . . Earth.

Lowery, like a briefly glimpsed other member of the expedition, is done in by carnivorous plants native to Skaro (that then reanimate your corpse, to spread the infection). Cory's efforts to launch a message seemingly fail, because he waits until he sees the Daleks. What? The homicidal Skaro cacti weren't enough of a tip off?

The recon is not particularly good, but I think the flaws are most likely in the scripting, and the sudden departure from our regulars. Still, no way to say goodbye to Verity.

***

Lambert's IMDB page demonstrates a career that can only be called stellar; she produced crowd-pleasers, classics, significant historical drama, and shattered boundaries--the bold, pioneering drama The Naked Civil Servant mean something to you?--thank Verity. She brought Rumpole of the Bailey to Thames Television after a successful one-shot on "Play for Today", and brought Peter O'Toole and Richard Briers to Blandings Castle.

And, with Sydney Newman goading her, she created a classic from scratch, on the fly. Here she is discussing, inter alia, her run on Doctor Who:



And now she leaves our story.