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PokeMiners' In-Depth APK Teardown of 0.189.0

PokeMiners' In-Depth APK Teardown of 0.189.0
Hello everyone!
0.189.0 is starting to roll out and there are quite a few goodies for the upcoming Halloween event and some other behind the scenes additions. We need to spend more time on it, but it appears that the obfuscation has been eased up just a tad. It's not removed, but it is slightly easier to work with now. So thank you Niantic for that! Anyway, let's dive in!
Official Release Notes
Download Link
Edit: Thank you for all the awards! :D

Highlights

  • Runerigus and its shadow form added
  • Sableye Costume added
  • Incinerate and Dark Void (Darkrai's signature move) added
  • AR Scanning Quest type additions (as confirmed in the release notes)
  • Halloween Event logo and boxes
  • Sticker Inventory
  • Gift sticker status
  • Face slot officially added for the upcoming masks
  • Avatar items can display if they are sponsored or not
  • Filtering can have a default filter for your Pokemon storage
  • New icons added to event boxes in the shop, including something called a Trade Ball
  • Update: New place holder icons added to Today View
  • Friends List improvements, including queuing up Friend Profiles
  • Location permission updates for Android 11 and iOS 14
  • Encounter Summary Screen bonuses updated, including a Mega Bonus View (probably to show Mega Energy earned from catching Pokemon from the same species)
  • Geofencing, geofenced quests, and AR Mapping Stop directions
    • Looks like depending on where you are, you will get quests to go scan a specific PokeStop
    • Additions to guide you through scanning the stop for the quest including directions there
    • Quests will display the Pokestop's image, icon, etc
  • Niantic Real World Platform Adventure Sync library
    • It looks like another RWP Library at least, but we might be wrong
    • Contains expected things like steps, distance
    • More interestingly, it contains geofencing and location; perhaps Adventure Sync could support location-based updates in the future?
  • Several Firebase libraries added, most notably for push notifications and crash handling (more stable push notifications perhaps?)
  • OkHttp and deep linking support, unclear what this is used for, but OkHttp requires Android 5 or later which is probably why they had to drop support for older Android versions

New Pokemon and Forms

.V0867_POKEMON_RUNERIGUS RUNERIGUS_NORMAL RUNERIGUS_SHADOW RUNERIGUS_PURIFIED 
These aren't suspicious that they are added right before Halloween. Not at all.

SABLEYE_COSTUME_2020 
Sableye wearing a costume for Halloween perhaps?

New Moves

.V0346_MOVE_INCINERATE_FAST .V0347_MOVE_DARK_VOID 
Two new moves! Dark Void is the signature move of Darkrai. Probably doesn't mean anything though. :P

New Quests

QUEST__AR_SCAN 
We saw hints of this before, but as they say in the release notes there are going to be quests to do AR mapping. More on that below.

remove_OnQuestOpened add_OnQuestOpened poiChallengeItemViewPrefab TAGGED QuestArrowClick 
Throwing this in here just because it's semi-related. Some additional quest tagging and opening.

Halloween Event

The Halloween logo was added to the game with other avatar group sections, so it'll probably show up in the style shop
Pumpkin box!
Spooky box!
Fancy spooky box!
No, these are not their official names. But looks like we'll get getting some new boxes for the event.

Sticker Inventory

Sticker Inventory
stickerInventoryGuiPrefab stickerInventoryDetailsGuiController StickerInventoryDetailsGuiController Niantic.Holoholo.UI.GuiWindows.StickerInventoryGui HelpIcon StickerInventoryGuiController ClickStickerInventoryInfo OpenShopGui helpDialogUrl StickerInventoryItemEntryWidget 
We've seen this before, but there is for sure a Sticker Inventory coming (don't believe me, just download 189 and look at your inventory haha). The Sticker inventory doesn't appear to do anything at the moment, however.

Gift Sticker Status

Gift Sticker Icon
When you receive a gift that has a sticker on it, it'll have this icon in your friend's list now.

Face Slot

Face slot for the avatar section
A new avatar section which will be used for masks. We are aware of a Halloween mask, Verizon mask, and a basic mask that we have previously datamined so far.

Avatar Updates

isSponsored 
The Avatar's customization group button now has a new field for if the item is sponsored specifically.
dynamicOrderGroupButtons 
In addition, there appears to be a better / dynamic way of sorting the group buttons (maybe for the sponsor section).

Filter

ShowInventoryWithDefaultFilter 
Small update to the filters we've been finding, looks like there will be a default filter that can be loaded when looking at your storage. It's unclear right now if you will be able to set the default however.

Event Bonus Box Icons

LOCATION EVENT MYSTERY_BOX TRADE_BALL 
These are new icons added to the Event Bonus Box's icons (that appear in the shop). Wonder what a trade ball is?
Update: Thanks to u/ridddle for pointing out that this is probably for the today view, and not the shop boxes. Doing a bit more digging into this, they appear to be correct as these items are added to the TodayViewInstaller class. Thanks for bringing out attention to that!

Friends List Improvements

ShowFriendProfile remove_OnRemoveFriend add_OnRemoveFriend QueueFriendProfile 
Looks like they might be queuing up your friend's profiles at some point (maybe during swiping?).

GBL Pokemon Rule Views

leagueRuleTutorialPokemonIconsCellViewPrefab LeagueRuleTutorialPokemonIconsCellView 
This is most likely for viewing the ban list in a GBL cup. The flying cup list (when pushed) will probably be extremely long as it's a ban list, not an allow list. So this might make it easier to show (if this is what this actually is).

Gym Motivation

pokemonMotivationUIPositionOverrides 
An override for moving the motivation heart next to your gym defender.

Location Permissions/Instructions

AndroidInUseLocationDevicePermission 
Android 11 permission for location services.

iOS14GenericLocationInstructions iOS14AdventureSyncLocationInstructions 
iOS 14 reminders (as said in the release notes) about enabling Precise Location. Also a new Adventure Sync instruction for iOS 14.

Download All Assets Update

The Download All Assets catalog was updated with GBL Combat Rank photoshop files (yes PSD files are referenced in this catalog). The catalog contains what assets should be included in the download all feature for reference.

Encounter Summary Screen

weatherBonusView megaBonusView BonusView FadeInTime FadeInYDelta 
These were added to the catch summary screen. Interesting that Mega bonus there though, you can't catch Megas... Or can you?
Update: As u/ButtonBash pointed out, this is probably the Mega Energy bonus you get from catching Pokemon of the same species.

Geofence Additions

AreGeotargetedQuestsEnabled GeotargetedQuestValidation ERROR_EXCEEDED__SUBMISSION_LIMIT ERROR_VALIDATION_FAILED 
So a lot was added about geofencing quests in this update. It appears that these are specifically related to the Titan updates (more on that below, and confirmed in the release notes). This would mean you can get specific quests based on where you are physically (probably using S cells of some sort to determine this). These quest types were actually added in a previous APK.

geoQuestPoiImage geoQuestIcon geoQuestDisplayObject 
Geo Quests can have their own icon, an object to display and an image (the POI and its image most likely).

GeotargetedQuestService arScanIcon editIcon photoIcon categorizationIcon defaultIcon playerService rpcHandler arMappingDataTracker 
Geo quests appear to have shortcuts for scanning, editing, taking a photo, etc.

LocationAwarenessActionsReflection LocationPingProto .get_GeofenceIdentifier .set_GeofenceIdentifier .get_Reason Reason PingReason ENTRANCE_EVENT EXIT_EVENT DWELL_EVENT VISIT_EVENT FITNESS_WAKEUP OTHER_WAKEUP 
Just some network calls for the feature.

Titan Updates

.get_IsArRecorderV2Enabled .set_IsArRecorderV2Enabled 
Titan (AR Mapping) is getting a new recorder by the looks of it. Probably will be enabled with the geo quests from above.

RefreshTooDark WaitForMinimumRecordingTimeMet OnRecordingCancelRequest 
Some errors for scanning.

AR_MAPPING_SCAN_VALIDATION_CANCELLED ITitanArRecorderServiceProvider ArRecorderService TitanArRecorderServiceProvider TitanArRecorderServiceFactory CreateEncodingInfoWithV1Data CreateArEncodingInfoWithVpsData TEST_WEBM_PATH TEST_METADATA_PATH TEST_UNPACK_PREVIEW_PATH TEST_V2_DATA_PATH ArMappingSessionTelemetry arScanLandingGuiPrefab arScanInfoGuiPrefab 
The service itself, landing pages, telemetry, more fun stuff.

AR Mapping Directions

arMappingTag ClickArMappingTag 
As previously found, the game will start directing you towards stops that need to be scanned. Stops that need to be scanned will be tagged with a special tag that you can apparently click on.

ARScanLandingStateShim Niantic.Holoholo.Pokestop ARScanInfoGuiController add_ViewDirections remove_ViewDirections add_ViewScanInfo remove_ViewScanInfo add_StartArScan remove_StartArScan ARScanLandingGuiController OnInfoButtonClick OnDirectionsButtonClick OnScanButtonClick checkRangeFrequencySeconds poiImageBackground poiImageCircle poiNameText scanButtonImage 
Here you can see you can get info, the image, name, background, get directions, starting the scan, etc. These might be tied to the quest themselves perhaps.

Niantic Real World Adventure Sync

.get_AdventureSyncDeviceService adventureSyncDeviceService DeviceInfo Niantic.Platform.AdventureSync.Util .get_AndroidApiLevel .get_AndroidTar .getSdkVersion AndroidApiLevel AndroidTar .getSdkVersion DebugApiServiceImpl Niantic.Platform.AdventureSync.DebugApi awarenessService .get_EventRecordTimestampMs GetEventRecords ClearEventRecords .get_GeofenceUpdateTimestampMs GetGeofenceEnclosure GetGeofences .get_DebugNotifications .set_DebugNotifications steps distanceM caloriesKCal SendFitnessUpdate didEnter geofence SendGeofenceLocationPing SendLocationPing RequestGeofenceUpdate get_AdventureSyncProvider HasPreciseLocationAccess 
So there is a lot here, and it appears this might be another Niantic Real World Platform library. There are things like the Android API level, SDK version, debugging information, getting distance and calories, etc.
Also notable is the ability to change the Adventure Sync provider. This might just be between iOS and Android but perhaps it may be expanded.
There is also geofences in here, which would be interesting if Adventure Sync could take advantage of your location in addition to your steps.

POI Edits

N_KEY_TEMPLATE N__DISABLED_KEY DISTANCE_LIMIT_KEY REPORT_SPONSOR_CONTENT_KEY REPORT_SPONSOR_LOCATION_KEY MIN_PLAYER_LEVEL_RAW_KEY N_LIMIT_RESET_RAW_KEY IPoiEditRequirementCheckService poiData IsPoiEditFeatureEnabled IsPlayerAtMinimumLevelReq IsPlayerWithinDistanceReq IsPlayersSubmissionCountExhausted PoiEditRequirementCheckService IsSubEditFeatureShownForType _arFeatureService _arMappingSettingService EDIT_DISTANCE_VALIDATION_FAILED 
Some more updates to POI editing, additional checking for level requirements, and something called an N Key (Niantic Key?).

Misc Pokemon / Ball Updates

ReleasePokemonAssets 
A new method for releasing pokemon assets, perhaps to clear out old assets when downloading new ones specifically?

PlayPokeballOpen PlayPokeballClose PlayPokeballSpawn 
Additional animations for Pokeball opening and closing in the Trade Stage. This is most probably to fix the trade bug they highlighted in the release notes.

Possible Telemetry Updates?

DL_ACTION DL_CATEGORY DL_TAB DL_SKU DL_ICON DL_ID OPEN_SHOP OPEN_NEWS OPEN_BATTLE_LEAGUE OPEN_SETTINGS OPEN_PLAYER_PROFILE OPEN_BUDDY OPEN_AVATAR_ITEMS OPEN_QUEST_LIST OPEN_POKEMON_INVENTORY OPEN_NEARBY_POKEMON OPEN_POKEDEX OPEN_EVENTS OPEN_JOURNAL OPEN_TIPS OPEN_ITEM_INVENTORY NEARBY_POKEMON RAIDS COMBAT_PARTY POKEMON EGGS TODAY_VIEW FIELD_RESEARCH SPECIAL_RESEARCH 
This is heavily obfuscated so we'll take another crack at it in our Digging Deeper, but these are all actions that appear to be logged/tracked. They are basically the different sections of the UI and how you can interact with them we are thinking it's telemetry related but can't say for sure.

Firebase Library Updates

Firebase.App.dll Firebase.Platform.dll Firebase.TaskExtension.dll Firebase.Crashlytics.dll Firebase.InstanceId.dll Firebase.Messaging.dll Google.MiniJson.dll libFirebaseCppMessaging.so libFirebaseCppInstanceId.so libFirebaseCppCrashlytics.so libFirebaseCppApp-6_15_2.so libFirebaseCppAnalytics.so FirebaseEditorDispatcher .get_EditorApplicationType .get_EditorIsPlaying .get_EditorIsPlayingOrWillChangePlaymode StartEditorUpdate StopEditorUpdate ListenToPlayState PlayModeStateChanged PlayModeStateChangedWithArg eventField AddRemoveCallbackToField EditorApplicationType EditorIsPlaying EditorIsPlayingOrWillChangePlaymode FirebaseHandler FirebaseApp_CreateInternal__SWIG_0 FirebaseApp_ReleaseReferenceInternal FirebaseApp_GetLogLevelInternal FirebaseApp_RegisterLibraryInternal FirebaseApp_AppSetDefaultConfigPath FirebaseApp_DefaultName_ CrashlyticsInternalPINVOKE StackFrames_Add StackFrames_size new_StackFrames__SWIG_0 StackFrames_ .getitem delete_StackFrames new_FirebaseCrashlyticsFrame delete_FirebaseCrashlyticsFrame FirebaseCrashlyticsInternal_GetInstance__SWIG_0 FirebaseCrashlyticsInternal_Log FirebaseCrashlyticsInternal_SetCustomKey FirebaseCrashlyticsInternal_SetUserId FirebaseCrashlyticsInternal_LogException Firebase.Messaging FirebaseMessaging add_TokenReceivedInternal remove_TokenReceivedInternal CreateOrDestroyListener add_TokenReceived remove_TokenReceived SetListenerCallbacks message_callback_enabled token_callback_enabled SetListenerCallbacksEnabled SendPendingEvents MessageReceivedInternal TokenReceivedInternal TokenReceived Listener MessageReceivedDelegateMethod TokenReceivedDelegateMethod messageReceivedDelegate tokenReceivedDelegate MessageReceivedDelegate 
Firebase is a platform with a set of libraries from Google for Android app development. They were using Firebase libraries before, but they added a few additional ones. We just put the most interesting updates above (there was a lot), but the most interesting library additions are:
  • Crashes
  • Messaging (push notifications)
Perhaps this could mean we start seeing more stable push notifications? We probably won't notice any immediate change off the bat.

APP_TRACKING_OPTIN_REQUIRED_TUTORIAL APP_TRACKING_OPTIN_DIALOG 
Threw this in here as it's semi-related, but you will need to opt-in for app tracking. This was added under the Tutorial completion interestingly enough.

OkHttp

https://square.github.io/okhttp/
This is a pretty basic library for URL handling. This might be added to go along with the deep linking updates below, but what's interesting is the note below:
OkHttp works on Android 5.0+ (API level 21+) and on Java 8+. 
This might be the reason why they had to drop support for previous Android versions.

Deep Linking

get_DeepLinkingSettings .get_OnDeferredDeepLinking .set_OnDeferredDeepLinking .get_GameObjectName .set_GameObjectName DeepLinkingTelemetry 
There are a few reasons why Deep Linking might be added, but it appears linked to game objects in some way. Deep Linking is simply directing the user to a specific piece of content on a website for example.

.get_PlayerIsMinLevelDeepLinkedNotification .get_PlayerIsMinLevelForDeepLinkedUrl .get_PlayerIsMinLevelForArPhoto 
What's odd, however, is there is a minimum level for deep linking notifications. So what is this feature possibly linked to that requires a level requirement and one that will give us a push notification?
We also threw in the minimum level for AR Photo here because it might not be specific to AR Mapping but it is with the deep link additions as they are in the same class.

-PokeMiners
submitted by martycochrane to TheSilphRoad

7

My All-Media Mega-Watchthrough Part 5: The Fifth Doctor

Previous posts: 4th Doctor part 2, which links to the others in turn.
Well it's been 10 months, meaning I greatly underestimated how long this would take. Maybe it's a consequence of the overwhelming amount of Big Finish that each Doctor comes with now, or maybe it's the massive ongoing global pandemic that sapped my motivation. Who's to say?
Regardless, to the delight of some and the dismay of most, I am back once again.
Continuity:
There's quite a few Annual stories that Eyespider has to do some wild mental gymnastics for, since they feature Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan. All of them are awful and not worth bothering to place, and the most positive note I have on any of them is a 2.5/10 and the comment "it almost gets the Doctor's characterization right" written beside.
There's also a running plot thread of the TARDIS knowing Time-Flight would happen, and doing everything in its power to prevent it. Which, after seeing the episode, yeah, I get it.
I didn't write down in my notes the first time it was mentioned, but I believe it was Iterations of I, where the TARDIS lands in the 80s, nowhere near Heathrow, and the Doctor calls explicit attention to the fact that it's almost like she doesn't want to land there in the 80s.
So all of season 19? Every EU story that starts with Tegan wailing "I thought you were taking me to Heathrow?" It's all because the TARDIS just really really did not want this world to see Time-Flight.
But, you know, Earthshock is fine. She doesn't want to avert that.
There's also Kamelion. Every writer accidentally agrees on Kamelion's fate, though differ on how he got there, creating some problems. Kamelion is built like crap. His design is inherently flawed and he gets taken over by anything that moves. He even once begins to turn into Tegan because she's so mad at him.
He cannot do a single thing right. In the end of every story, be it Big Finish's Kamelion trilogy, The Crystal Brucephalus, or the short trip One Perfect Twilight, Kamelion comes to the conclusion that he's a danger to the TARDIS crew, and should be sent to live in a sort of Zero Room in the TARDIS, where he can't be interfered with.
Of the three times it happens, one decides it's not a happy ending at all. Big Finish and Brucephalus both imply that he can at least know what's going on outside, so he's basically just watching Doctor Who in his room until Planet of Fire. And then the short trip implies it's basically a prison for him. So you get to take you pick on how much he's suffering in your canon, based off how much you hate him.
Oh, and Kamelion Empire makes him a war criminal for some reason. One who has a laser in his chest that makes a stock sound effect that I recognize from Danganronpa, meaning I couldn't take it seriously at all. Next time you watch any of season 21, just remember a really shittily build war criminal is in the TARDIS watching it too.
Other thoughts:
Right off the bat it feels like a direct evolution of season 19. Most eras feel like a pull in a new direction, which of course they are, but season 19 just hits different. It's a breath of fresh air after a full year of Tom Baker, and I think a big part of it is the companions. Giving 4 the season 19 cast just before his death was a stroke of (accidental?) genius. It's no longer just one companion who turns to the camera and says "oh my god guys this is so weird" and then goes "I am fine with it now actually" by the end of the first episode. It's an adjustment for them all, to varying degrees. I think it's the best take on regeneration of them all honestly.
Even though he's fully settled past the turbulent stage and memory loss, he still needs to actually find himself again. It's a period of adjustment, as opposed to "Colin Baker jumps off the floor, goes absolutely mental for 2 serials, and now knows himself again."
Despite this, 5 doesn't really have a character arc. Rather he just gets more and more stressed as the weight of worlds build on his shoulders. This is most apparent in season 21, where it was the theme of the season. "There should have been another way."
As brought up with season 18 last time, I very firmly believe that EU content should try to capture the era it's set in. Don't write a Pirate Planet in season 18, don't write a fun little murder mystery in season 21.
And then they do. Very frequently. We go from Frontios, the bleak edge of the universe where some of the last humans are slowly dying out, to Time in Office, a 4 part comedy romp where 5 has to actually perform his duties as Lord President.
Now, I love Time in Office, it's one of the best Man Range releases I've heard. But it shouldn't be in season 21. In a marathon like this, it breaks the atmosphere and the slight character arc of the Doctor being relentlessly beaten down by the universe because of unlucky circumstance. Of course, nobody is meant to experience the stories like I'm doing. I get that for 5, BF is limited in where they can place things. But it doesn't stop me from being disappointed.
"It stopped being fun, Doctor," loses its impact if you know that between TV episodes there were dozens of normal stories, some that just wrote Tegan out by saying "she just stayed in the TARDIS, it's not because we couldn't get Janet Fielding."
And not related to anything, but I want to talk about the lighting for season 21. My god, it is abysmal. Everything is overlit. The only story that escapes being lit by the sun placed 5 feet away from the stage is Caves of Androzani. Maybe because of being set underground and partially filmed on location, maybe because fate just decided this episode deserved everything going right, but either way it's better than anything around it. Even then, the lighting still rears its hellish head in the scenes of the military base or Morgus' room.
It leaves the whole season feeling flat. I can't look past it, it's a massive detriment to every story. They just did not want a single shadow in this season. [This is an underground scene].(https://i.imgur.com/cEp1hvs.jpg) This is an underground scene from a story that understands there's not a nuclear explosion just off camera.
Best Part of the Era Overall:
The companions, easily. Though not for the same reason as last time.
No, whereas the companions were the only redeeming quality of the Fourth Doctor's era, here they serve the very important purpose of having someone for a much quieter, more reserved Doctor to play off of. People often call Five the bland Doctor, a criticism which I wholeheartedly disagree with. He's trying to be nice, give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and save the day amicably. But by God he is three seconds away from losing his mind at all times. He is very stressed and if you don't stop bickering in the back seat he is going to turn this TARDIS around right now, kids.
Tegan is the best example. Their every interaction is taking years off his life, and with 5 he's at his best when stressed. Sure, he has disputes with Adric because who wouldn't get mad having to put up with him, and he isn't too big of a fan of Turlough at first, but they can't hold their own like Tegan. She's the only one who could match 5's underlying anger through confronting it with her own.
Without her, the TARDIS would be a very dull place. Sure Adric would be annoying occasionally because, well, he's Adric, but he would cower like the worm he is if push came to shove.
Nyssa is... well, she's there. TV doesn't know what to do with her, and Big Finish only do sometimes. Turns out what you can do is point and go "hey! Look at all this trauma over her people's genocide! Want the longest stretch of EU content so far with this character and not really overcoming that?"
The exception to this is scientific debates. Usually some new science or technology will happen/be in place where they land, and the Doctor will say "the ethical implications here make me nervous for when parts 3 and 4 happen and I'll have to turn to the camera and ask if I have the right" and Nyssa will say "no doctor. It is good actually. Can you not see the good this is doing for the majority who are not being tortured to make Torture Juice?" and then they'll argue. I do like it, it's definitely a new type of conflict, but it really needs more than repeating it every other story.
And speaking of companions: Peri, who is just... oh man. Peri.
Worst Parts of the Era Overall:
Yeah. Peri. You were probably expecting this.
Now, I don't hate Peri. I'm excited to see what the EU does to her with 6, because I think she has potential. I was never the biggest fan of her on TV, but I'm sure BF can salvage her.
But oh my God she did not need all of this. She literally has more stories than Adric. And then in Peri and the Piscon Paradox she gets mindwiped of all of them so Caves of Androzani can work.
And then they fuck that one up by not mindwiping the Doctor himself in that episode.
You know, the reason people complain about his fearless sacrifice to save someone he hardly knows being diminished by these 47 stories.
So yeah. People have their own takes on whether the 5/Peri gap is good or not, or whether it devalues Caves. And as the sort-of-technically most qualified person, I can say: haha oh my god no. No it's not. It is so bad.
I don't fully agree with saying it lessens 5's sacrifice in Caves. It's the closest a Classic Who episode gets to perfect, just edging out The War Games. There's no real theme to it that you could say is ruined by this EU content. You just can't say how cool it is that 5 sacrificed himself for an almost total stranger anymore.
But in trying to get that back, the EU fucks it up. They know these stories really don't need to exist and, it seems, the writers sometimes almost don't want them to. But you can't have it both ways. You can't write 3 years of Peri's life out of existence with a mindwipe, while still writing more and more in there.
Oh and they both completely forget about Erimem, but you know what? I'm not broken up about it.
Peri is though because holy shit is she gay for her. Like goddamn, they try so hard to say they're just good friends, and write everything short of a sex scene. Paraphrasing from every other PErimem audio:
ERIMEM: "Oh dear Peri, you appear to have walked in on my changing clothes."
PERI: "[comment about her body delivered so so so not-heterosexually.]"
This is what happens when you try and have a bunch of male authors write a "sisterly bond" (their words, frequently), while being as unashamedly horny as most Who authors are.
There's a scene in The Veiled Leopard where Peri and Erimem go to a party in the 60s, acting like a couple, and tell the guy out front that they're sisters, despite being different races and looking nothing alike. I could not possibly write a more "gay couple trying to act straight in the past" scene and I literally have, as an author of awful Doctor Who fanfic.
And then later that audio Peri is holding Erimem upside down into a trash chute, seeing up her dress, and makes a very heterosexual comment about her underwear.
Sisterly bond though guys, trust us.
Anyway then there's the time the writers go the complete opposite direction and make Peri just really really bigoted and call Erimem the N-word, which was almost unreadable. (Thanks, Blood and Hope.)
Then Erimem left for a shitty heterosexual "finding her true love" ending with a man she had no chemistry with in her final story.
Peri also doesn't remember her own age now because we just cannot help ourselves.
She's 19 in EU material near her introduction. She then has at least three timeskips that I can remember:
Warmonger features a one-year timeskip and is the least of its problems. The Kingmaker strands Peri and Erimem 2 years back from the Doctor, making them wait to catch up. And The Son of the Dragon also has a few stationary months waiting for Erimem to stop having another awful heterosexual romance out of spite for the Doctor.
The Erimem arc is really just her getting on the TARDIS, saying "Doctor I want to leave" "sorry, I was confused, I will stay one more trip" and that happening until she finds a mediocre white guy on Peladon and marries for political power, and this is supposed to be a good thing.
And speaking of companions we forgot, remember Amy and Zara? No?
I didn't remember until 3 drafts in either. They're just so bad. The one thing I will say about Amy: Ciara Janson does a perfect voice for her, and I really like it.
But the character herself deserves to be put on Adric's freighter. Not because she's awful, but because the entire Key2Time trilogy is just a dumpster fire.
There's no originality to it. "Hey remember that thing from 20 years ago? Did you like it? Did you? Cool. Buy this now."
Now, that is Big Finish's business model, but usually (okay, sometimes) they make those stories really work, despite not really needing to be a sequel to whatever.
This is just crap. We even pull the same twist that "yooooo the castle was the segment the entire time, isn't that wild? It's like when the planet was a segment, remember that?"
Zara is comical in the sense that her existence makes me laugh because haha what is she doing here? She's here to be evil. Cool. The Black and White guardians are here too though sooo-
Anyway, hope you're all excited for their return in the Main Range as "old friends!" Preorder now! Please forget the fact that it literally makes no sense to know them unless we're inserting a superfluous solo gap into the superfluous 5/Peri gap where he just leaves her frozen in time a while for no reason at all! It's fine!
I still have no idea what Graceless is and do not wish to learn. All I know is the thought that Key2Time got a spinoff is hilarious and you can't convince me it's canon because I'd have to listen to it.
Also, on companions: Thomas Brewster has the charisma of dog shit on my porch, and did not deserve a happy ending.
Best Novels:
Fear of the Dark:
The best Doctor Who novel, no competition. My only criticism is the ending feeling just a little rushed, but it's almost irrelevant. For once I can remember every side character, they're all distinct, everyone acts in understandable ways, there's no useless edgelord-ery, and I've read it twice. Once before this series and now again, and it held up both times. And I say that as someone who is filled with terror by the idea of rereading a Who book because they've conditioned her to fear them.
The Doctor and companions are perfectly written. 5 is at his absolute best here, it's easily the best depiction of him in any of the novels, and honestly better than some from TV. He's pushed to his breaking point, in a struggle to survive against an ancient evil older than time itself on a forgotten planetoid, cut off from any escape. Imagine how he acts in Caves, except he ends up getting out alive.
Everyone is dropping like flies and the deaths are actually compelling, even for the side characters. Did you like 5 in caves of Androzani? Did you like "SO YOU SEE, I'M NOT GOING TO LET YOU STOP ME NOW!," the best line delivery in the entire franchise? Good. Get this. It's that but for an entire book. At one point 5 almost mercy-kills another character, and it's actually understandable and I wouldn't say it's even overly edgy. That's how good this book is. It makes the usual edgy "will he shoot? The man who never would?" believable, understandable, and have actual stakes.
If you're ever looking for a Doctor Who book recommendation, get this one. I can't imagine anything topping it from my list.
The Sands of Time:
Set directly after Fear of the Dark on Eyespider, it makes the unprecedented two-good-novels-in-a-row streak.
Now, it has its flaws. Nyssa is thrown into a coffin for almost the entire story, Tegan slips out of character sometimes, and the ending is bizarre even before the author writes 5 pages of alternate ending, then writes a page amounting to "but God did not like this ending, so he rewrote it." Maybe they accidentally didn't send out a final draft, who knows.
It's actually a very good mix of Moffat-like timey-wimey (ugh) and Chibnall "globetrotting" styles, with the story being spread across a dozen times and locations out of order. It's sort of a mystery book, except instead of being a murder it's "what is happening with Nyssa and how do we free her?" 5 is well characterized and once more is prepared to do whatever it takes, Tegan is a delight as ever, and all the side characters are actually pretty good.
It also manages to not just fanwank Black Orchid, City of Death, and Pyramids of Mars, but make them all play a role in the story. Though the ending does seem like cheap bullshit if you've not seen Black Orchid, but if you're reading PDAs you probably have.
Divided Loyalties:
Yeah. You heard me.
Now, I absolutely cannot recommend this book. It's fanwank to the highest degree. The dialogue rages from strained to abysmal.
In spite of that I like it. And usually I think it's laughable when people review things like that, saying "it's all bad but it's so fun to read" because it usually ends up being just weirdly defensive of an author they like slipping up and just pumping out some garbage. See: Warmonger (and oh we will).
So take my defense of this novel with a grain of salt. I'm not even going to lie and say it's well written, the go-to "I can't defend anything in this but I feel I have to."
The thing I like is the character interactions. The little slice of life in the TARDIS bit we get is just perfect, I can't really explain. Of course then it comes with bad dialogue and things like this, confirming Adric to be an Alzarian Neckbeard. It's definitely full of winks and nods to continuity because of course, it's a Gary Russel book. The TARDIS crew are all doubting their role after the Doctor's recent regeneration, and you get to see how they think of themselves. Adric's ego matches almost mine, but he's unaware of it. Most of the book for him is spent wondering why everyone picks on him which yeah, I'd buy that that's what's in Adric's head.
The plot is cool. It expands on the Great Old Ones and if you can't tell by the first two novels I mentioned, I am an absolute sucker for elder god/higher being stories.
I like the idea of the Doctor having fucked up something in his past, before leaving Gallifrey. I dislike everything about the Deca, a group of ten young Time Lords in the academy. Consisting of the Doctor, Koschei (the Master), Ushas (the Rani), Mortimus (the Monk), Drax, Vansell (some godawful Big Finish creation that didn't need this), That One Time Lord From Genesis of the Daleks, two characters exclusive to this novel, and Magnus, also known as the War Chief. (The War Chief is not the Master, in case you cared/were still confused.)
So yeah. I can't defend this. I like it. Don't ever read it.
Goth Opera:
The first PDA, and it... it certainly showed what was to come. It's needlessly edgy, dumb as all hell, and by all rights I shouldn't like anything about it.
And yet. I think I just appreciate the atmosphere and Buffy-ness of it. It was definitely entertaining for being (I have to say it, I'm sorry) batshit and having moments like this, where Nyssa fights a baby and then becomes a vampire and fills the rest of the book with hungry gay vampire lust.
Worst Novels:
(Content warning: basically everything from here out.)
Alright. First off the shilling.
My favorite segment is the novels, as shown in literally every post where they take up so much space. I realize that these posts are a lot, they're usually right up against the character limit. They take hours to read, and days to write. I realize maybe not everyone is so interested in the novels and me just ranting. Hell, I had to cut out my Blood and Hope, Ultimate Treasure, and King of Terror reviews entirely for this post. All of which would be as long as my Warmonger rant.
So I created a youtube account where I will be making a series of videos going more in depth about the books, probably reviewing some audios, and, more importantly, making some companion videos to this series.
Now, it doesn't have any videos on it at the moment. I'm currently moving between countries, and I have nowhere to actually record where it won't sound just awful. But I will be uploading soon, almost definitely by the end of the year, and if more of this is appealing to you it'd mean a lot if you subscribed and watched when that actually gets started.
Or alternatively just following me on Twitter, where I do livetweet threads of the awful books I have to read. I'm currently reading Synthespians™, which is notoriously stupid.
Warmonger:
Fuck this book. This brings out a hatred I have not felt since Combat Rock. It doesn't even have the decency to be hilariously incompetent in the edge, like Mick Lewis.
Here's my Twitter thread for it. I'm going to try to get it all together here, but due to the character limit I'm going to have to cut stuff out.
So this book is written by Terrance Dicks, the man who should have a better grasp on the Whoniverse than anyone else, having novelized most of it. A legend in the fandom, having written a lot of older fans childhoods. I get wanting to defend him.
Don't do that. There is no excuse for this book.
Every review on Pagefillers is "everything about this is awful. It's written poorly. But the pages fly by! I just can't hate anything uncle Terry makes. 9/10."
Just because someone you like wrote something doesn't give it value. This book fails on its own merits. At the very least, it's a showcase into the importance of editors, and people who will tell you no.
So the first thing that happens is a 40 page long "present day" sequence where Peri is a guerilla leader who doesn't care about her group of rebels, and offhandedly mentions one of them was raped and has PTSD. Which really just sets the tone here, doesn't it?
After getting captured by the bad guys, despite their group being apparently the only 6 people standing in their way, they then sentence them to execution in the morning, giving them 12 hours to escape.
They also care about committing war crimes for some reason. Then Peri and only Peri is saved by a military of Sontaran/Draconian/Ogron alliances, and brought to "the Supremo."
Surprise! It's the Doctor! Record scratch. Time to find out how we got here. Jump back one year.
It all started because a bird alien thing attacked Peri and the Doctor fought it off by voring it. Peri's arm is, like, really badly hurt. Just so messed up.
So messed up, in fact, that the Doctor doesn't know what to do. He's in the TARDIS but, as we're told many times, there's just nowhere in all of time or space he can take her to fix up a not-even-detached arm. Can't be done. Nowhere. Not even Gallifrey. There's only one man who can do it, and we're told it's an under 40% survival rate.
Not only can nobody in literally ever fix a lost limb, they can't even stop you from dying from blood loss. Now, call me stupid, but I'm pretty sure people on Earth have survived that.
The Doctor shows some touching concern for Peri, clearly behaving exactly as he did in Caves, the very next story after this.
The "one man in the universe" is Solon, who you may remember as "that one dude from Brain of Morbius" or "literally who?" His assistant Drago is here, with two hands, making this a prequel.
The story is set on Karn and oh boy. Apparently there's a building just off camera in Brain that used to be like, some sort of castle, but is now a hospital? I don't even know, it's stupid.
It's worth noting that the writing is just awful in every way, and this reads beat for beat like my own writing from last year. The editor must have died on the job and fell onto the "yeah start printing" button beside him.
Then the book just drags ass. The entire first 3rd is spent here, waiting for Peri to get better from a surgery I cannot believe would even be a problem in the future. I can't imagine thinking it was a logical plot point to include, it's so incredibly contrived.
Solon poisons Peri after she finds his lab, where he's decided to make some Frankenstiens, and then uses this as leverage to get the Doctor to go to the Sisterhood and beg for just a drop of elixir, madame.
The Sisterhood want to know if he's a high ranking Time Lord and he goes "haha no :)" because Dicks just straight-up forgot he wrote The 5 Doctors.
5 then just fucking namedrops being pals with Hitler out of nowhere, while having the gall to mention honour in the same paragraph.
Were you wondering what happened with Drago? Has that been a burning question on your mind since 1975?
Well first, get some professional help. Dicks explains that anyway. It's a lobotomy. Enjoy! Maybe Drago can even read this book now and give it a 9/10 on Goodreads.
Peri wants to interfere with Solon and stop his evil plan, but the Doctor just keeps shooting it down. "Peri we can't interfere. I can't tell you why. Just wait one more day and we can leave."
She asks him dozens of times, but he does not care. He doesn't explain that he literally knows the future and Solon gets what's coming to him and fails anyway, hurting nobody. Because if he did, that'd make the entire second half not happen. The whole plot hinges on him refusing to fanwank, in a PDA.
Suddenly, on the eve of a... diplomatic meeting... a mysterious Time Lord shows up! Holy shit! I'm at an utter loss as to who this could be in a prequel to The Brain of Morbius (1975). Is it the Master? The Rani? That One Time Lord From Genesis And Also *Divided Loyalties?
It's a good thing Peri was shopping (we do always B shopping) for clothes in this fucking hospital so that they now have something to wear to this event. Most of the hospital staff and patients are invited to this fancy dress intergalactic diplomacy mission because fuck it.
The Doctor then bugs the intergalactic meeting because he's curious who the Time Lord on Karn in the same time period as Solon is. You see, Time Lords can mindscan each other at first sight, but this guy is shielding his. Curious.
It makes the Doctor a real clown for falling for all of the Master's disguises but sure. Anyway, in the "peace" conference we find out holy shit! It's a lie! It's a plan to band together and take over the galaxy! And this Time Lord... is Morbius! I'm very confused because I thought it was the War Chief but I'll go along.
Peri refuses to believe the creepy man dressed in all black and who looks like he wants to kill everyone is evil, because she wants to have sex with him now. She refuses to believe the Doctor recounting word for word what they said about her in their secret meeting, and then goes back to Morbius. She gets kidnapped by him because no shit, Peri.
Peri contemplates killing herself, they taunt her with gang rape, she cuts off chunks of her skin to fake a disease and gets thrown into an escape pod and abandoned. What the actual fuck.
Meanwhile the Doctor goes to Gallifrey to tell them Morbius is doing bad things. He gets there in a spaceship, somehow bypassing the transduction barriers and everything established about Gallifrey. He needs to be disguised, because the Time Lords don't like him. Despite the last fucking plot point being that a Time Lord can always tell when another is hiding their identity.
So he wears a blackface drug because the future's priorities are weird I guess. Arm fixing? Nope, get fucked. Blackface drug? Let me hook you up.
He's so afraid of incurring the Lord President's wrath because the Time Lords hate him. You know, the Lord President? The position he was given in The Five Doctors, that Dicks wrote?
And then he just shits onto the page. He doesn't even give a fuck about continuity. This is Gallifrey in the past. When? Fuck you. It mentions being before Borusa tutored the Doctor, aka before he left Gallifrey. But then they all know who the Doctor is, and his stealing of a type 40. Then all his crimes are mentioned, how the Time Lords still want to put him on trial for interfering, etc. So it's like, between The Beginning and War Games, but with 50 conflicting history elements. Even if Galifrey ran concurrent to Karn, they sent the 4th Doctor there what can't be 20 years later. This would have to take place after Deadly Assassin at the very least, but it just doesn't. He just forgot Gallifrey was in anything other than War Games.
They get the Doctor to promise to lead their space military to chase down and destroy Morbius by granting him a pardon for all his crimes. You know, the one he wouldn't get if they were pre-War Games.
We begin recruiting every race you've ever heard of in Doctor Who to fight Morbius. The Draconians join, and we keep getting told how weird and foreign their vaguely-Asian culture is, and he literally always brings up their "slanted eyes."
We get the Sontarans by just... fuck knows. Promising a war?
The Ogrons show up and pledge themselves to the cause because fuck it. Whatever.
Then we get to the Cybermen, by appealing to their emotions of arrogance and paranoia. They have literally one character trait, and it's their lack of them. You fucked up the only thing about them.
Somehow Ice Warriors get involved off screen because just why not. You've heard of them. Like it. The story is good now.
We're caught up to present day, and then this shit happens. There is too much to unpack here. I think it sums up this book really well. "Peri, I would have sex with you, but that would be incest for some reason. HEY, REMEMBER THAT THING FROM TV 20 YEARS AGO?"
Anyway the final battle starts to happen, having herded Morbius back to Karn. It's utter tripe and it's just lasers firing at each other. Cool.
The Man Who Never Would picks up a gun and mows people down, this crap happens, whatever. I am so tired.
So we capture Morbius, the Time Lords want him executed, the Doctor has to keep time on track, zzzzzz. He lets Solon do his thing and steals his brain, then fakes the execution and leaves.
In the TARDIS he and Peri conclude that they'll literally just move past their PTSD saying "oh nah I didn't like that." Peri asks the Doctor to recount Brain of Morbius for her and he finally complies, ending the story there so you could go watch it.
All in all, I have to say Peri summarizes nicely. And, just like Combat Rock, he's kind enough to write this line that's so open to mockery it makes my job comically easy.
There's also a part where the troops just decide to start using fascist iconography and holding military parades and stuff to appease "Supremo." Because that's where fascism comes from. It's just when your soldiers want to hold military parades actually, you're just giving them what they want. That's definitely what happened in North Korea. Good job Terry.
The Doctor has to be nerfed and not realize the Brain of Morbius ever happened, and yet he spends every 4th page screaming about how cool it was.
Overall this book is on Combat Rock's level, the second worst I've ever read, surpassing even Rags. It doesn't even entertain me in its edge. It's a shittily written slog all the way through, filled with lame or incomprehensible plot points, edge, rape, and blackface drugs.
Best Audios:
Time in Office:
I touched on it earlier and am running low on space. It's easily one of the best and funniest main range entries, I've heard it 3 times. The only problem I have with it is it taking place after Frontios, and its explanation of Turlough "resting" in the TARDIS because they couldn't get Strickson, despite the story taking place over weeks. I guess he was really tired.
And You Will Obey Me:
The whole trilogy is great (I look forward to the time I understand what the fuck happens in The 2 Masters), and the Master manipulating his "children" for years is very entertaining. It has a nice creepy atmosphere, though the inclusion of the alien race is weird and doesn't really seem necessary. The ending is a little rushed, but Peter Davison is on top form here.
Devil in the Mist/Black Thursday/Power Game/The Kamelion Empire:
It's such a good trilogy. Kamelion gets to exist and, even though he's still pretty useless, it's nice to at least see him get some characterization. All of the stories are incredibly fun, especially Power Game. I'm a big fan of "Doctor Who but they're in a satire of game shows," and it doesn't disappoint. Also confirms Kamelion is a nonbinary icon. There's also a great part in Devil where the Doctor breaks his spine and has to come to terms with being paralyzed until his next regeneration, and it hits harder than a standard "he's really badly injured but doesn't want to worry anyone" plot. Mainly because it wouldn't end his life, but still impact it. It being the start of the trilogy is good too, because it gives at least a little bit of stakes to the whole thing. Sure, he'll get better by the end of the trilogy, but by this audio? Listen and see.
Spare Parts: It's better than Chimes of Midnight. I said it.
I love it. The horror is fantastic, and it being an audio only helps. Now they can't commit what I find the cardinal sin of the Cybermen: showing us. See: the Lone Cyberman. It's a family show, and you could never do the Cybermen justice on TV there.
Conversion is hell. You are mangled beyond recognition, jammed into a suit, and kept alive. You're not putting it on like a costume (fuck you, Timeless Children/Attack of the Cybermen) because it's not meant to fit a human inside it. Not before they've fucked you up so hard that even if taken out of the suit you'd be disfigured for life.
It's one way. That's what this story shows. It's left entirely up to you what it looks like. There's one line from a side character, seeing a Cyberman for the first time, that I think is perfect: "my daughter looks like roadkill."
This is the perfect genesis of the Cybermen, and possibly the best Big Finish audio ever.
Circular Time:
Okay, this is just because of Circular Time: Winter. I'm not too big a fan of Spring and Summer though.
Autumn is a Doctor Who story without outside conflict. It's pure, low stakes character drama, and it hits it out of the... park? I don't know a cricket analogy. It would be funnier if I did.
Oh and for some reason Nyssa has sex.
Winter is equally poignant, set in the dying moments of the 5th Doctor, and taking place entirely in his mind. It's a perfect sendoff for him, and watching concurrently with Caves made it all the better.
Warzone/Conversion:
Finally, another story that knows how to properly use the Cybermen. I don't want to spoil anything, the first part is a bit stupid but the second part is fantastic. It once again features the Doctor going full "NOT GOING TO LET YOU STOP ME NOW."
Worst Audios:
Key2Time, for reasons explained before.
The Axis of Insanity:
It's bog standard Doctor Who and the only interesting idea, a crossroads of all timelines, is almost irrelevant. The villain is the most grating I've ever heard. Peri and Erimem are incredibly generic when they're not out of character, and it beats you over the head with "witty" dialogue in every sentence.
Nekromantia:
You knew it'd be here.
My immediate reaction was shock. Not because it's the worst thing ever, but because it wasn't. I was told this audio would be hell, I would come out screaming in agony, etc.
It's not worse than the average PDA.
I'm not even joking, it has like 5 awful scenes, and is otherwise dull as hell. That's most books I read.
Now, that's not a defense of Nekromantia, more so a condemnation of the novels. If this script was so bad that Peter Davison got the writer fired and we all agree that's good (I do), why did most PDAs happen?
The Helliax Rift:
The most boring BF story in recent history. UNIT hating the Doctor is confusing and stupid, it takes ages to get anywhere, and the moral dilemma is hamfisted and dull. The only thing of interest is that a character's mother shagged an alien.
Dalek Soul:
Have you heard Natural History of Fear? Did you like that twist? I hate it. This is just that with Daleks.
Best Short Stories:
Artificial Intelligence:
Told through the point of view of an AI with the default personality of a teenage girl. Her knowledge increases exponentially, ascending beyond anything we could understand and yup, it's a higher being story. The Doctor's involvement is only in the last few pages, but I'm not even complaining. It's great.
Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life:
It's satire on Doctor Who fans. I agree, we're awful. 10/10.
Worst Short Stories:
Lackaday Express:
I don't even know. It's dreamscape trash. It's completely incomprehensible, and I mean completely.
White Man's Burden:
The Doctor annexes South Africa.
Dishonourable mentions: every Annual story.
Comics:
No best or worst here. I read them, they're just unrateable. They don't really feel like Doctor Who, they're in their own liminal space. They have good moments, decent storylines, and I like Stockbridge. But the Doctor still is yet to actually be in character.
Final Thoughts:
No Best or worst TV episodes this time either. I need room to fit the Warmonger rant, plus I like almost all of them.
So yeah. Now that Tom Baker is defeated, I have a will to live again. I'm hoping after my move I can get started on my Youtube thing, because I have 4 whole books I couldn't even get to because I wanted to talk abuot Warmonger. There's even a few audios and short trips I couldn't talk about. This post is at the edge of the character limit, making it the longest one yet.
I'm really looking forward to 6, and seeing if his character arc works across his whole life, or if, like season consistency in EU content, they just do more or less whatever.
As there's more and more content per-Doctor, I find it harder to summarize my thoughts in only one post and am having to rethink how I do this. Hence my branching out into videos and possibly even a shit blog, just to catalogue it all. At one point this post was 51k/40k characters long.
New ranking too: 5 > 12 > 8 > 6 > 7 > 2 > 11 > 1 > 3 > 9 > 13 > War > 10 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 4
And finally, the fun fact to end on: in addition to taking a blackface drug, 5 takes space-cocaine in an Annual story, after which he defeats a giant space-ship-eating monster with his bare hands.
See you either on Youtube or Twitter, or in another 6-10 months.
submitted by FunnyNWittyReferenc to gallifrey