As part of our effort to expand Decorative Vegetable beyond just podcasts into a media empire we’ve started a blog. On this page you can find all of our blog posts, posted once a week on Fridays, and usually alternating author between Kiyan and Dylan with occasional guest posts.

“The Feast of Steven” and Other First Doctor Christmases

By Steven Shinder

Hello, fellow Trustees, or Decorative Veggies, are whatever listeners call themselves. My Name is Steven (Editor’s note: Steven has been on many of our episodes. Most recently, he joined us to discuss the Torchwood episode From Out of the Rain), so of course “The Feast of Steven” had to be in the blog title, given that this is Christmas themed and that was a Christmas episode. Now that I have explained the joke, I can hear you all rollicking with breathless laughter.

Anyway, Christmas is that time of year when you can watch, listen to, or read a piece of media that focuses on comfort and makes you believe, if only for a moment, that maybe your life doesn’t completely suck. And this blog post is no exception to the rule. So let’s get on with it already. Here are some thoughts on First Doctor Christmas stories. I am not sure if these are all of them, but these are all the ones that I have experienced.

The First Doctor looking into the camera

“The Feast of Steven”

Ah yes. This is where the Doctor Who Christmas specials really started, 55 years ago. “The Feast of Steven” was pretty much a filler episode within the larger serial The Daleks’ Master Plan. The seventh episode of the serial, it was broadcast on December 25, 1965, and it did not really have anything to further the overarching story since it seemed that audiences would probably not be watching this episode. And now, you really can’t watch this episode. That’s right. If you wanna feast your eyes on “The Feast of Steven,” then your only option is to watch a reconstruction.

Even with the still photographs and the audio, the episode seems pretty bizarre and chaotic. The episode takes The Doctor, Steven Taylor, and Sara Kingdom through some wacky events, from evading police officers in 1960s England to stumbling upon a film set in 1920s Hollywood. And Charlie Chaplin was in there somewhere, apparently. I don’t know. It was confusing. We even get a yikes-worthy quote from The Doctor when on the films set: “a madhouse, it’s all full of Arabs.” Never believe anyone who says Classic Who was perfect. So glad that the show has evolved past this.

And as if all of that was not enough, we end on a scene in the TARDIS where The Doctor pours drinks for his companions, and toasts a Merry Happy Christmas not just to them, but “to all of you at home.” That’s right. He looks right at the camera. I’m not even sure how much I even want this complete episode to be found. I’ve had issues with some of the NuWho Christmas specials, but I think it’s safe to say that this is the worst one in the televised history of Doctor Who.
cover of The Little Drummer Boy

“The Little Drummer Boy”

Thankfully, if you’ve endured that whole thing and need a palette cleanser, you can read or listen to the Short Trips short story “The Little Drummer Boy.” Released in prose and audio forms in March 2003 and September 2016 respectively, this picks up right from the end of “The Feast of Steven.” You thought The Doctor, Steven, and Sara went straight back to dealing with Daleks? Hell no! They actually traveled to several different Christmases, including the Christmas truce in 1914. Yes, that Christmas truce. I have more to say about that later, but what I will say is that The Doctor here does focus on how while there is peace for the day, the fighting will continue the next day.

But the real center of this story is a mystery pertaining to a boy who keeps popping up as they keep traveling to these Christmases in different years. The boy looks the same no matter which year they end up. It is a tale that involves twins, illnesses, and a way of avoiding a paradox somehow. The ending is bittersweet. While I think it was well-crafted, I struggled deciding whether to rate the audio (narrated by Beth Chalmers) 4/5 stars or 5/5 stars. Ultimately, I landed on 4 since the resolution felt a bit unethical to me. But this is a story that is definitely worth experiencing.
cover of O Tannenbaum

“O Tannenbaum”

If you thought that was the only Short Trips Christmas story featuring the First Doctor and Steven Taylor, think again! They also experience a Christmas story in the form of “O Tannenbaum,” an audio released in December 2017 (a few days before “Twice Upon a Time” was broadcast, actually). Peter Purves provides the voices of both characters. While this story was not quite as good as “The Little Drummer Boy,” I still enjoyed it. The tale has to do with a father, his son, and…trees. The tree-angle kind of reminded me of a Christmas horror story I wrote five years ago.

To say more would potentially be spoilery, but I also hope I am not raising expectations too high. The story is pretty straightforward, and The Doctor makes an awesome branch manager pun. Weirdly, the story ends with Steven saying The Doctor’s line at the end of “The Feast of Steven,” wishing a happy Christmas “to all of you at home.” However, it is played off like he is saying it to his surroundings with nobody around listening, which is kind of sad. But anyway, this one was definitely 4/5 stars for me.
The Twelfth and First Doctors in Twice Upon a Time

“Twice Upon a Time”

Of course we had to talk about “Twice Upon a Time.” I mean, come on. Its acronym is TUAT. Isn’t that hilarious?

All joking aside, this is actually my favorite televised Doctor Who Christmas special. Seeing the flashback to a classic serial, in this instance The Tenth Planet, and then having the current story follow up from there is what I wanted for the series 7B episodes, given that they aired in the show’s 50th anniversary year. The recreations are done very well, and bringing in David Bradley, who depicted William Hartnell in An Adventure in Time and Space (where I actually felt something when he said “I don’t want to go” after I felt nothing hearing David Tennant say it), was a brilliant decision. And I am glad that he has gone on to play the First Doctor again in The First Doctor Adventures from Big Finish.

Sure, the sexism of the First Doctor is made more overt here, and I understand how jarring that can be. But ultimately, the First and Twelfth Doctors going through this arc where they realize just how important their roles in making miracles happen is is what saves it for me. I remember tearing up when I first watched that scene toward the end where “Silent Night” is sung in the trenches of World War I, and the Christmas truce takes place. For this one day, two opposing sides of a terrible war were sharing a merry celebration. Twelve reminds One that being The Doctor means to keep even just a few people alive for a little bit longer, thus perpetuating the fairy tale that life, at times, fails to become on its own. Plus, this story enhances the story of the First Doctor’s regeneration into the Second Doctor.

As I alluded to earlier, though, this was not the first Doctor Who story to feature the Christmas truce. The Short Trips story “The Little Drummer Boy” featured it in March 2003. And then less than two years later, in December 2004, it was featured in “Never Seen Cairo,” a short story included in Short Trips: A Christmas Treasury. In this instance, the Fifth Doctor and Peri Brown were present, and a soldier declines The Doctor’s offer to visit another place such as Cairo, given his duties, according to the TARDIS wiki. (I haven’t read this story.)

a page from The Forgotten

And then in December 2008, the multi-Doctor comic book story The Forgotten featured a flashback in which the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler arrive at the time of the Christmas truce. Captain Harkness is mentioned to have survived being shot in the head and sent to the hospital, but Nine and Rose are unfamiliar with the name, as they haven’t met Jack yet. There is also a Benton present, which is funny considering that “Twice Upon a Time” would feature the Brigadier’s father. Nine is the referee during the football game.

So at the Christmas truce, Twelve, Nine, Five, and two versions of One could have been present. I think it would’ve been rather funny had these other Doctors just been in the background during “Twice Upon a Time.”

It is kind of ironic that it took a Chris — Chris Chibby, in this case — to end the tradition of televised Doctor Who Christmas specials. But at least the tradition ended on a high note, and I couldn’t think of better final moments for the First Doctor right before his regeneration.

If you’ve experienced all of these stories, what did you think of them? How would you rank them? Do you agree? Disagree? Wanna throw tomatoes at me? (Editor’s note: throw ’em Steven’s way on twitter: @StevenShinder. Or throw ’em our way on our Twitter or Facebook.) A Happy Christmas to all of you at home!

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Revolution of the Daleks Predictions

Jack in the Revolution of the Daleks trailer
Welcome one, welcome all. And by that, I mean “welcome listeners and maybe some people who follow us on Facebook or Twitter.” Because let’s be real: who else is going to read this inaugural blog post of ours?

Yes, that’s right. We’ve started a blog. If you’re reading this right now, you’re on it. Ideas for how to get ourselves more invested in this site of ours (which we created for our podcasts) and make it feel less like it was created in 2008 (it wasn’t) have been brewing in the sewage pipeline of my mind for a while now, and this was the foremost of them, so it’s great to see that it’s all… completely backfired.

Cause we just started a blog.

In 2020.

Anyway, enough rambling. Blog posts have topics after all, and this one’s, in case you missed it, is “Revolution of the Daleks Predictions.”

Without further ado, let’s dive in to six extremely-likely-to-actually-happen predictions for the upcoming special.

Jack’s Back Comes Back


I’ll admit I don’t have much to back this one up, but sometimes you just gotta go with your gut: Jack’s back is coming back.

A Doctor Who staple since 2005, Jack’s bare back has made appearances in such episodes as:

  • Bad Wolf

With such an illustrious track record, there’s no way they’d bring back Jack without bringing back Jack’s back.

Graham Dies


This is probably the only legitimate prediction in this blog post. Uh, I mean, all of these predictions are totally and 100% legitimate, right? But we all know that Chris Chibnall is a sucker for causing great emotional pain to all the characters we know and love. I mean, the first thing he did when he became showrunner was kill off the wife of one of the companions. I mean, ballsy move, but fair play Chris. And let’s not forget the at least 3 times that he was involved in Torchwood when they killed off loved ones of everyone’s favourite characters.

Owen Harper screaming underwater

And let’s be totally honest here, Ryan just enjoys traveling with the Doctor way too much to leave of his own volition right? We’ve seen him grow closer to Graham over the past two seasons but to what end? I suppose it is entirely possible that he’s now so close to Graham that if Graham decides “screw this I’m too old for this nonsense” and buggers off that he’ll decide to follow, even though as far as we’ve seen he actually has absolutely no life outside of traveling with the Doc. What’s he gonna do? Play basketball all day?

Which brings me to the obvious conclusion: Graham is gonna die, Ryan is going to be so pissed off/annoyed/frustrated/just generally mildly perturbed that the Doctor let this happen and won’t go back to change it with that time machine of her that he’ll leave. He’ll storm off Tegan Jovanka style, never to be seen or mentioned again. Yaz will be unaffected and will be fine with this course of events. You heard it here first.

Ryan and Graham Become Conspiracy Theorists


This one isn’t so much a prediction as it is sheer fact standing on common sense’s shoulders and wearing a trenchcoat.

In the trailer for Revolution, we see what looks like a TARDIS interior sheeted in a rainbow of sticky notes. Doctor Who is no stranger to conspiracy theorists (think Clive from Rose) and their infamous walls of interconnected figures and findings, so this is obviously an iteration of that.

That doesn’t mean much on its own. But remember: Ryan and Graham are leaving. What I’m guessing happens is that Ryan and Graham, having now accepted one another as stepgrandfather and stepgrandson, open a business brokering conspiracy theories out of Jo Martin’s TARDIS. Heck, maybe they even come up with their own every once in a while. This would be an excellent way to reaffirm Ryan and Graham’s relationship and really hammer home the heartwarming developments from It Takes You Away, an episode that touched so many people so intimately that I once mistook it for a Catholic priest.

Jack has Less than Five Minutes of Screentime


John Barrowman is expensive. Doctor Who, in true Doctor Who fashion, is broke. I would like to posit a theory: that we’ve already seen the entirety (or bulk majority) of Jack’s screen time in the trailer. We were all (by which I mean, Kiyan and I were) excited to hear that he was back in Fugitive of the Judoon and then he was on screen for all of ten seconds.

Jack looking skeptical in the Revolution of the Daleks trailer

Chris Chibnall is no stranger to running Doctor Who, of course, so I trust that he has this well in hand. Besides, Jack has no space in his timeline for any of this, we know his timeline through the end of Torchwood, and then we know that he goes on to die as the Face of Boe. A more respectable person might predict that somehow this Jack appearance ties into his Face of Boe appearances, but I would rather predict that Jack will show up, help Yaz for like five minutes, and then leave. To go back to Torchwood. As far as I know he’s supposed to still be leading that, right? Torchwood Three doesn’t get destroyed at the end of season 4 right? Right?!

Jack Dies


Yes, you read that right. Think I’m crazy? Get with the program, folks. The writing’s on the wall, and it all adds up. That’s English and math on this prediction’s side.

All that’s to say the idea that Jack is going to die in Revolution makes sense if you think about it. There’s no point in bringing a fan-fave like Jack back if you’re not going to do something spectacular with him, and death has been the spectacle since antiquity.

Need more irrefutable proof? The trailer for Revolution may appear to perplex at first, but pay closer attention and you’ll notice that it shows its hand thrice. Each time it does is one of three final nails in Jack’s coffin.

First, the opening: Jack’s narration cements his role as personnage principal in Revolution. Then, the opining: Jack claims that when you’re a companion of the Doctor, “you don’t get to choose when” your adventures end. (I guess he never met Tegan Jovanka. What gives, Big Finish?) Last but most definitely not least, the trailer tops it all off by reminding us that Jack Harkness is “Jack Harkness, and [he’s] immortal.”

To sum up, we’ve got (1) Jack playing a major role, (2) Jack talking about never knowing when your adventures might end, and (3) Jack heavily playing up his immortality. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say all that doesn’t foreshadow Jack somehow losing his immortality and dying. But I do, so I won’t.

GCHQ Comes Back


Doctor Who is about acronyms. Wouldn’t be Doctor Who without the TARDIS GCHQ. And as we all know, at the end of Resolution the Doctor just… kind of left the shell of a Dalek hanging out in a government building. That’s gotta be a problem right?

The Dalek from Resolution

We also know that Jack Robertson, everyone’s favourite character from Arachnids in the UK, is returning as part of this year’s special. We also also know, or at least it’s heavily implied from the trailer, that he’s part of this whole “Dalek as a government drone” scheme (ignoring the slightly uncomfortable Trump parallel that’s never really gone away). I don’t really think Robertson is ambitious enough to come up with the Dalek design alone, but I do think that he’s intrepid enough to find a way into the GCHQ to steal rusty. I know I for one am looking forward to once again seeing Doctor Who’s greatest government agency, UNIT the so aptly named Government Communications Headquarters.

And there you have it: our predictions for Revolution of the Daleks. What are yours? And are you excited for the special? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter. Or email. Or snail mail. Heck, fold your message into a paper airplane and glide it over our way. We’ll read it out on the podcast.

Anyway, we’re planning on doing one blog post per week, so we’ll see you here a week from now.

But until then, the end.

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Behind the Scenes: Editing the Matrix

I wasn’t intending for this to be my first blog post, but I think this is far more interesting than the review of The Force Awakens that I’ve been trying to frankenstein together for 4 weeks. I’d also like to apologize if you came here looking for information on editing the actual movie, The Matrix. Unfortunately I wasn’t involved with that, I was about 2.

So in the future there may be more of these “Behind the Scenes” posts, but for now you’ll have to be content with this. I mentioned on Twitter that editing this episode (The Matrix episode of Triple Play, also know as Episode 4) had me tearing my hair out, and now I’m going to tell you why.

This story actually beings back when we were recording the Matrix. This is a bit of a “break the magic” moment, so if you don’t like knowing when we recorded something, skip ahead. I can’t give you a precise date, but we watched the Matrix on a Saturday in September, and recorded the episode on the next Thursday. We would normally have recorded Sunday, but Kiyan’s voice started to give him trouble, so we delayed until he could speak at least mostly normally. The reason for mentioning this will make sense in a bit.

Throughout our podcasting adventure we’ve had some mishaps with Audition, and sometimes we lose an episode to the ether. Sometimes Audition will randomly stop recording while we’re speaking. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to when it does this, and it’s probably something as mundane as the moon passing in front of Venus. This actually occurred while we were recording The Matrix episode, and since The Matrix episode we’ve actually kept a constant eye on Audition rather than letting it run in the background unwatched. It lost our trust.

The previous two sentences may have given away what happened. We sat down to record our episode at 6 PM. This was solely due to it being a Thursday, I might add, we normally record rather early in the morning. We got through the first version and looked at Audition and… It had stopped recording at what we thought was 1 minute and 9 seconds. We had just talked for an hour and none of it was recorded! This made us rather upset and angry. Our second recording (at roughly 7 PM) was noticeably more aggravated. After finishing Kiyan turned to me and said “pity we lost the first recording, it was way better.” I nodded in agreement.

Usually I edit the episodes relatively soon after we’ve recorded them, but for the Matrix I put it aside for a while. It wasn’t going out till January, I figured, so I may as well wait. So imagine my surprise when I opened up Audition in the final week of December to discover that both recordings had survived. We had misread the time stamp, and the recording had actually stopped at 1 hour and 9 minutes. What fools we are. So the position I faced, after all this exposition, was what to do with two separate versions of the same episode?

I consulted briefly with Kiyan and was left with 3 options: Use 1) Version 1 as is, clipping in the very end where it had cut out from Version 2. 2) Use Version 2 as is. 3) Splice together the best parts of both to create the greatest frankenstein episode in all existence. Clearly I’m pretty lazy, so I chose option 3.

And so began the multi-day editing process. I thought I knew how long it would take, but I was terribly wrong on that count. But hey, it came out to be a pretty good episode. So let’s look at what I did.

Before I begin, however, I want to note. This is not how I normally have to edit episodes. I’ll show you a comparison shot at the end, but usually I’ll only need to cut out some things and I’m good. For this edit I split it into three phases.

Phase 1

Phase 1 was arguably the easiest. I began by listening to both full recordings, without any additional music/edits. Since I figured I was going to have to splice together these two different recordings, I made meticulous notes about what we talked about in each episode. So I opened up my trusty word processor, Text Edit, changed the color of the font, and came up with a nice comprehensive notes document.

Matrix Cut 1

Matrix Cut 2

Alright, maybe not so comprehensive. But I needed it to be accurate, and apparently verbosity helps with that. Mentally I was making notes during version 2, comparing it to version 1 and deciding which was better.  Kiyan’s original assessment of the first recording was, on the whole, accurate. It was better. I did, however, find some minor discussion that we either a) did not have in the first recording or b) were superior in the second that I wanted to cut into the first recording to make the final cut. And so began phase 2.

 Phase 2

This was the most difficult of my self assigned phases, since this was the part where I had to cut everything together without making any of it sound weird. I had to take the intro to a section from here, to lead into a section from there. Things like that.

I started with what I wanted to keep from version 1, and put that in. Whenever I reached a section I wanted from version 2, I cut to there, clipped it out, and put it into version 1. Then I would re-listen to the cut multiple times, making slight edits until it sounded natural. I’d bet you didn’t hear a single cut in the final version of the episode. If you did, it was probably from when I cut out Kiyan yelling at the neighbors, which got cut in phase 3. I spent multiple days on this phase, I was quite tired of listening to us talking about The Matrix after the first two listen throughs, to be honest. Of course you can never escape a half edited episode, it digs into your subconscious and constantly bugs you and I often I  would fall asleep to the soothing thoughts of  The Matrix . I even wrote a story while editing about a woman in a red dress, because I heard the phrase “the woman in the red dress” so many goddamn times. Quite honestly that was the most difficult cut to get right.

I’m sure you’re curious as to what elements I took from each version in the final cut. Here’s the last bit of my notes document, where I laid out my assembly of the final version as I did it.

Matrix Final Cut

Phase 3

After I finished phase 2, I exported the episode, with my newly cut in intro, outro, and endslate (our little email us / find us here blurb) music, and sent it off to Kiyan. I don’t normally do this, but I needed a fresh set of ears to listen for 1) a title and 2) any cuts I missed. Turns out I had intended to cut out us looking up things (and Kiyan yelling at the neighbors, but that never made it to the final cut because it was in version 2) and then promptly forgot to do so. He sent me the time stamps of that, and a few repeated conversations and I got to work. Cut those bits out, exported the whole thing, uploaded it, and it released the next day. I did cut that a bit fine, I’ll be honest, but it came out all good in the end. So what does Audition look like now that I finished editing? Well. You can just barely see the intro music there in the third track on the left. Look how cute it is!

Matrix Audition

Don’t be deceived. Most of those cuts are just topic divisions that I made in accordance with my notes document. A few of them are version 2 splices, and even fewer still are cuts that I mentioned above, like us searching something in the middle of the episode. But it does summarize nicely the amount of effort we put into making it a good episode. I said I’d provide a comparison, so here it is. This is the Audition timeline for Trust Your Doctor Episode 104, the latest thing I’ve edited. This is generally the level of editing that needs to be done, a line or two here, maybe one there, maybe save a funny outtake in a lower track. Those kind of things.

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 9.28.31 PM

So what did you think? Was this interesting? Do you want to know more? Let me know. Leave a comment. Email us. Tweet me. The second most editing I ever had to do was when Trust Your Doctor reached The Three Doctors (in Episode 68), and if there’s enough interest I can talk about the conception of that episode and the behind the scenes. What really went through our head when we thought “hey let’s have us from the future appear on the show?” Otherwise, I’ve a few other Behind the Scenes ideas stewing in my mind. But until then….


Posted by Dylan in Behind the Scenes, Blog, 0 comments