Doctor Who – The Time War 1

timewar1While a war throughout time and space is waged between the Time Lords and Daleks, the Doctor and his companion Sheena enjoy a trip on a galactic pleasure vessel Theseus. Cleverly using his psychic paper, the Doctor procures a room for the duo and soon enough they begin to uncover a sordid mystery beneath the glamour of the Theseus involving a galactic goblin taking its toll from the crafts which pass over its ‘bridge.’ All in all, a standard adventure until reality shifts and the Theseus is a refugee ship… and his companion changes names… twice.

Residue and fallout from the Time War has reached the Doctor despite his attempts to escape its pull. The Theseus crashes on a planet which is awash with temporal weapon radiation, causing the fauna and flora to climb up and down evolutionary ladders. Forests turn lush and decrepit in the blink of an eye and the simian-like natives are both primitive and advanced. The Doctor is quite literally drafted into the war and the Daleks draw ever closer to annihilation of their enemy, the Time Lords of Gallifrey.

I have differing opinions of this first installment of the Time War. It starts off interesting enough then turns into a long slog through a jungle (as interesting to listen to as it would be to watch in screen) and perks up a bit toward the end when the Doctor is the maverick who refuses to fit in at the Time Lord boot camp. The Doctor is separated from his friends from the crash of the Theseus, Quarren and Rupor, by Cardinal Ollistra who shows an abnormal interest in them. In the end, Quarren is not at all who he appears and his past is called into question as the universe hangs in the balance.

I think my biggest gripe is that the audio shares far too much with the Nu Who TV series, even to the point of a magic button that can unravel any and all problems. Only Time War 1 combines the magic button with a character and a last minute grasp for the heart strings. The revelation of Quarren was another twist in a series of turns that this four part story took, and one too many in my opinion.

I typically enjoy the Eighth Doctor audios immensely and Paul McGann is in fine form here, but the script and guest cast (especially Bliss) fell beneath my expectations. It was almost a chore to make it through to the end! I hate to sound negative but by and large this was a disappointment for me and not the blockbuster opener to a new series of Eighth Doctor stories that I had hoped for. Maybe Ravenous will be better?

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Doctor Who – The Bodysnatchers

Body_snatchers_cover.jpgStrange goings on are afoot in Victorian London. Massive creatures stalk a local factory late at night and the owner, Nathaniel Seers, is not the man he once was; having transformed from a once kind and friendly individual into a cold and stern man. The Doctor and Sam arrive just in time to see a man devoured by a monster from the sea. Noting the time period, the Doctor calls upon the aid of his old friend Professor George Litefoot who had proven so helpful against the dreaded Magnus Greel a number of lives ago. Against an army from another world utilizing bizarre technology, the Doctor and his friends must take up arms against the Zygon horde for the future of the humanity.

The Body Snatchers is something of a mish-mash of stories, combining The Talons of Weng Chiang with Terror of the Zygons (two of my all time favorite adventures), although the novel gets quite gruesome at times. Set during a time when men were worked to the bone in unsafe factories, corpses were stolen in the night, grisly pub punch ups grew relentless in their brutality, bodies washed up with regularity from the Thames and bodies of children were uncovered with the thaw, nestled together into frozen blocks… it’s all quite unsettling.

The flippant and witty Eighth persona of the Doctor along with the unflappable Sam Jones and the quaint gentleman George Litefoot, provide some offset to the violence. However, the Zygons themselves, a monster that strangely only appeared once in the classic series are powerfully threatening. Their organic technology and bizarre physiognomy are fleshed out (if you can excuse the term) in this novel, even expanding the race into different strata from warrior to scientist and different genders as well. Fans of Zygons have a lot to chew on here.

A lovely blend of Victorian adventure and mystery along with body horror alien invasion, The Body Snatchers is a memorable and thrilling entry in the adventures of the Eighth Doctor.

Doctor Who: Vampire Science

Vampire_science_coverFrom the 1980 adventure State of Decay, vampires have been a major part of Doctor Who lore. In the televised story, the Fourth Doctor explained that the Time Lords have a sworn responsibility to eliminate all vampires as part of his people’s war with the creatures many centuries ago. That said, it is surprising that there are so few stories on TV in which the Doctor faces this moral conundrum. Happily there are quite a few novels.

Following up on the rather challenging novel, The Eight Doctors, Vampire Science is an enthralling adventure which challenges the intelligence of the Eighth Doctor as well as his nerve. In the opening chapter it appears that the Doctor has embarked on an all-out war against the vampires, cornering one in an alley and stabbing it in the chest. A young woman named Caroline witnesses the whole affair and it has such an impact that years later she has a scrapbook of vampire stories in the news and follows any clues when she is not busy trying to cure cancer.

The Doctor and his companion Sam rejoin Caroline after her boyfriend becomes kidnapped by a clan of vampires and finally the Doctor shows his hand. He has no intention of wiping out his enemies. He intends to cure them, or at least create a food substitute to prevent them from preying on the living. To accomplish this he must walk a very fine line and risk the trust that his followers have in him. He must also try to reduce casualties as much as possible and escape death himself.

The vampires operate out of a kink nightclub (which strangely serves coffee and salad) and has strata of social structures. The old guard are barely cognizant of their surroundings while the ‘youngsters’ (turned in 1957) are wild and dramatic, led by a charismatic grandstander Slake, who is more than happy to borrow from pop culture vampire myths. But the young gang is far more deadly than they appear while the old guard is led by a brilliant woman named Harris with hundreds of years of medical knowledge who has secret controversial plans for their future.

When Harris and the Doctor pool more than their resources, they become entangled in blood. Harris has the challenge of convincing her people that they can trust a Time Lord, a mythical being who should be sworn to exterminate the vampires. And the Doctor has the soldiers of U.N.I.T. chomping at the bit to charge in guns blazing. Yet the Doctor is determined to find a solution that does not include genocide and instead a promising future of hope.

Samjones

Sam Jones

The new companion Sam Jones has a spotty rep with fans. A seventeen year old who is very passionate and fiery while also being quite mopey and catty… she’s a perfect teenager. Early on Sam is attacked by a vampire and spends much of the book seething with revenge. She is also very jealous of Caroline who moons over the Doctor. She struggles to find common ground with the Doctor who, in her opinion, has sided with murderous creatures who suck the life out of innocents. At the same time, she tries to take the high road and extend compassion to her enemies no matter their undead status. That said, she’s not above taking matters into her own hands and getting them very dirty. I’m not sure where the negative reaction comes from for Sam, but so far I quite like her.

Paul_McGann_EighthDoctorVampire Science is a very dense book filled with twists and turns and plenty of nerve-wracking moments. The Doctor is also still coming to terms with his new incarnation and is oblivious to the impact his attractive new face has on others. His added responsibility for Caroline is especially trying as she becomes enthralled by the appeal of a dreamy bachelor who travels through space and time (Russell T Davies was obviously paying close attention to this. There are some lovely scenes in the TARDIS in which he shows Caroline a room filled with butterflies which flutter in his hair as he welcomes it all. This is a romantic Doctor, no longer the scheming manipulative 7th incarnation. This Doctor lives in the moment and is far more impulsive than previous personas.

After the slog that was The Eight Doctors, Vampire Science was a welcome change. Filled with drama, action, horror and even humor it is a grand start to the new Doctor.

Doctor Who – The Eight Doctors

Doctor_Who_Eight_Doctors_NovelFollowing the exciting adventure on the eve of a new millennium in San Francisco, the rejuvenated Doctor is ready for a whole new universe of adventures. Unfortunately, he has to slog his way through this novel first.

The Eight Doctors is BBC Book by Terrance Dicks, the same author who penned hundreds of novelizations of classic Doctor Who stories and a few original ones as well when Virgin Press got a hold of the franchise in the 90’s. This guy know what’s what in Doctor Who. He can tell his Ogrons from his Zygons and which Doctor has an ‘old – young face.’ He can also tell a ripping yarn and while there are good parts to this novel, it is by and large a chore. It feels like homework that must be done before game time on a school night.

In the book, the Doctor wanders in to check on the Eye of Harmony (which the author quickly notes is not really the actual eye which is located on Gallifrey and supplies all TARDISes with power). He notices a bit of grit in the Eye. The grit is actually a booby trap left by the Master and takes away an indeterminate amount of the Doctor’s memories. He wanders again into the classic all-white console room and has a compulsion to ‘trust the TARDIS.’ He starts on a journey through his past starting at 76 Totters Lane, the junkyard a short drive from Coal Hill School.

The Doctor meets Samantha Jones who is in deep trouble with some local school kids who want her to sell crack (the author notes the experience of crack for anyone unsure). The Doctor ends up in jail, charged with possession (yes, this really happens) and will only tell the policemen the truth; that he is a time traveling alien. Through a series of events all parties end up right back at the junkyard by the TARDIS and the Doctor runs right back inside and leaves. He leaves Sam with the angry members (but keeps the bag of crack – because priorities, I guess).

What follows is a by the numbers series of episodes in which the new Doctor meets an old incarnation during a key moment of their lives. The two lock eyes and the Doctor gets a skoch more memory, chats to himself for a bit then leaves. That is the formula, more or less, until he reaches the Sixth Doctor during his trial. Then things get sticky and the plot so convoluted that poor Terrance spends far more time explaining the story he is pulling from than telling a new one. This is followed by the Master exposing the corruption on Gallifrey via TV. The Doctor tries to quell a revolution from the Shobogans in a pub and… it’s all a mess and not really worth getting into.

In the end the Doctor regains his memory and has a sudden flash of realization that he left Sam to the mercies of a gang of armed drug pushers. He flits back to hurl the bag of crack at the leader of the gang just as the police arrive and Sam runs into the TARDIS to become his new companion. She doesn’t question his alien-ness or the spaceship because she is a teenager well versed in pop culture (much like Izzy from the comic strip and in some ways Rose).

I have recently started in on this series of Eighth Doctor adventures with Dreamstone Moon being my first (which I recommend). I recall reading that this book had a bad reputation and I can certainly see why. It’s a slog and so chock full of continuity that it has little reason to exist. Little light is shed on the classic stories to even make this a nostalgia cruise. It’s a video game a fan would be excited by at first but as the prospect of reliving old stories became being told those stories instead, it would get decidedly dull.

Next up, Vampire Science.

Also, some B-movie reviews. So bookmark this page!

Eighth Doctor Who Paul McGann returns in Night of the Doctor

In 1989, Doctor Who was unceremoniously cancelled after its 26 year-long run. The Doctor and his companion Ace walked off into the sunset talking of other adventures that awaited them in the time and space but those stories would be restricted to comic strips, a series of new novels and eventually audios. In 1996, Doctor Who returned with a new lead actor, Paul McGann. Dressed in a high colored shirt and velvet jacket, the Eighth Doctor was Byronic in appearance and romantic at heart(s), but he was still the daring and brilliant adventurer of time and space.

The Eighth Doctor - Paul McGann

The Eighth Doctor – Paul McGann

After only appearing in a single made for TV pilot in 1996, McGann was not seen again on the screen as the Doctor… until now.

… pinch me. Christmas came early.

Like the previous Doctor, McGann’s adventures continued in comic strips and a series of novels. But it was when the actor returned to the part through Big Finish Productions that the Eighth Doctor finally got a new lease on life and found a new following. The Eighth Doctor had many companions – whom he names before he regenerates, thus at least hinting that his audio adventures ‘count’ as canon… these kinds of things matter to fans. As soon as a story un-writes something viewers can get antsy about what ‘counts’ and what doesn’t anymore. So these little things mean a lot.

Previous to ‘Night of the Doctor,’ the story of how the Eighth Doctor’s life ended and his regeneration was never told. With this minisode, that gap can finally be closed. Now we know how the Eighth Doctor sacrificed his life during the Time War and became the man needed at the time, a character now called ‘The War Doctor’ played by John Hurt (CGi’d to look young in a reflection).

McGann_2013_NightoftheDoctorSure, it has been said that bringing McGann back just for this 6 minute mini-story is a back handed compliment, but as it is likely all we are going to get I am prepared to accept it as the best thing to happen to Who since that first viewing of Rose in 2005.  The annals of fandom just got a bit more robust and fans of the Eighth Doctor may have swelled a bit as McGann wins over still more followers.

DrWho_McGann_2013Night of the Doctor sets the stage for the 50th anniversary adventure Day of the Doctor but it is a special gift to fans who have been following the program since its early days before Russell T Davies arrived and it also adds to the mythology of the new program. Not only do we have a story set during the Time War between the Daleks and Time Lords (something Moffat stated he was never interested in exploring), but we also can finally put to rest the conundrum of how the Eighth Doctor ‘died’ and answer some of the questions as to who the Doctor played by John Hurt is.

It also juggles the numbering up making Smith the 12th Doctor, not the 11th, until Moffat explains how the ‘War Doctor’ doesn’t count.

Unfamiliar with McGann? I recommend the following:

Doctor Who Big Finish- Storm Warning
Doctor Who and The Silver Turk
Doctor Who and The Blood of the Daleks
Doctor Who – Dark Eyes

(More McGann here)

Read more of my Doctor Who reviews by clicking here!

Read more of my Doctor Who reviews

Interviewed by the BBC, Steven Moffat had a lot to say about the special mini-sode:

Question: How did The Night of the Doctor come about?

Steven Moffat: Well, we had our new ‘hidden mystery’ Doctor and I was thinking, what else can we do for our anniversary year… I thought… Why don’t we get Paul McGann in and regenerate him into John Hurt? I’d like to see that! I’d love to see that! And we had this possibility that we could do it as a surprise, so we got in touch with Paul who was dead keen and I’m delighted to say he was so happy to join in with the idea of keeping it secret. He was childishly excited about it!

Paul came along and shot it – it was the last two days of the shoot for the fiftieth, actually. He did a wonderful job. It was great! We designed a new costume for him based on his old one. Howard Burden did a fantastic job with that.

Q: It was a well-kept secret! How important was that for you, and what measures did you go to, to ensure this regeneration was kept under wraps?

SM: We were phenomenally secret with the making of it! And I’m sure some people are a bit cross that we were so secretive but the fact is, there is only one way to ensure you keep a secret, and that’s to keep it! So, we kept it very tight and we hope it all came as great surprise to everyone.

Q: For those that don’t know him, could you describe the Eighth Doctor?

Paul_McGann_Dr_WhoSM: The Eighth Doctor is perhaps the first of the sexy, romantic Doctors. I don’t mean he’s the first sexy Doctor – he’s not. But he’s the first one who kisses a lady, for example. He’s obviously dashing, terribly handsome and quite romantic. I always found it hard to imagine him fighting in the Time War. I’d always imagined the ‘Time War Doctor’ would be more grizzled, somehow, you know?

Paul only played the Doctor onscreen once before, in the TV Movie. He gives a wonderful performance in it. It’s a terrifically exuberant performance and it anticipates the later performances, particularly of Matt and David. He’s a dashing, romantic, very funny and very affecting Doctor! Of course, Paul is not only known for the telemovie but for all his wonderful audio adventures. I’m always telling the Doctors and companions, as they come through the show, that they’ll never be quite done with it – Big Finish is expecting them.

Q: It’s an interesting spin on the Time War – the Time Lords becoming this hated race, as bad as the Daleks in some people’s eyes. Will we see that play out with John Hurt’s Doctor and so on?

john-hurt-doctor-whoSM: We will see some of that play out. We’ve already seen some of it play out on the show, in The End of Time, where the Doctor reveals the Time Lords got as bad as the Daleks towards the end, and he was as worried by them as anything else. And we know the Doctor wiped out his own people. He wouldn’t do so unless things had got pretty bad. Genocide is a big decision for anyone!

Q: People seemed delighted when they heard the Sisterhood of Karn was returning. Did that surprise you?

SM: A little bit! I was terribly excited about having the Sisterhood of Karn coming back which is why I did it! But I should probably learn to have a little more faith in the fact that what gets me excited as a sad, old fan will get other people excited as well! And okay, the Sisterhood are unknown to the kids, but I was a kid when I first saw the Sisterhood and I thought they were great! So I’m hoping other people will like them!

Q: And the character the Doctor encounters in the mini episode… Is that supposed to be Ohica, from The Brain of Morbius?

SM: No! If you look at the credits you’ll see I called her Ohila so it suggests she’s in some way connected to Ohica. Instead of having that confusion in having it the same person, I thought we’d just imply they were connected.

Q: Finally, running a show like Doctor Who is always going to be hard work… But how much fun was it? Bringing back the Eighth Doctor?

DrWho_Eighth_McGann_Regeneration DrWho_WarDoctorSM: Oh, it was a complete treat! It was always frustrating that we never got to see more of him! The completist in me… the ‘box set man’ in me wants every box ticked and I wanted every regeneration scene! And we get to see the Paul McGann Doctor regenerate into the John Hurt Doctor! I love regeneration episodes – there’s nothing more exciting! And in the anniversary year we get to see two regenerations… That’s pretty cool!

Doctor Who comic strip Dreadnaught adapted into animated form

The Eighth Doctor Who played by Paul McGann may have been on screen the shortest amount of time on screen, but he was embraced by fandom in other mediums such as audio, original novels and later audio dramas. McGann also returned to act in a new version of the unfinished Shada script by Douglas Adams. He has enjoyed increased popularity lately after the 1996 TV Movie was screened on BBC America and a limited edition bust was released by Titan.

This will be the latest in a series of animated adaptations of Doctor Who including Death Comes to Time, Real Time and Shada, but to my knowledge this is the first Doctor Who comic strip to get this treatment!

Via Kasterborous.com, an outstanding resource for Doctor Who fans.

Ever wanted to see an animated version of the Radio Times Eighth Doctor versus the Cybermen comic strip Dreadnought? Well now you can thanks to super-fan and voice of the Doctor Andrew Merkelbach!

Dreadnought was part of a series of five comic stories featuring the Eighth Doctor, printed in the Radio Times, which ran for forty-two issues after the premiere of the Doctor Who TV Movie in 1996.
DrWho_Eighth_Dreadnaught
Each one was scripted by Gary Russell with art by Lee Sullivan, colour by Alan Craddock and lettering by Elitta Fell.

The series was prematurely ended by the Radio Times before its planned 60 issue run could be completed.

Back in 2009, Andrew – who has been the voice of the Eighth Doctor in both the official Doctor Who Online Adventures series and various fan productions since 2005 – started work on the first part of his adaptation, which so far has attracted over 40,000 views online.

Now, he’s aiming to complete the second of two six minute episodes just in time for the 50th anniversary.

Starring Lesley Lyon as companion Stacy Townsend, Dan Armitage as her fiancé Bill and Andrew Merkelbach as the Eighth Doctor, the project has already garnered praise from Big Finish and the artist on the original strip Lee Sullivan.

You can view the first part here. Be sure to check out the Facebook fan page and Andrew’s twitter page @8thDoctorVoice for all the latest news on the project. And you can read the latest in our Whispering Gallery series, in which Lee Sullivan guides us around ten pieces of art, here!

Recommended:
McGann_bust

Doctor Who: The Movie (Special Edition)

Doctor Who: Sword of Orion

Dark Eyes (Doctor Who)

Doctor Who and The Horror of Glam Rock

‘The Horror of Glam Rock’

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Written by Paul Magrs, directed by Barnaby Edwards
Story 1.03
Transmitted 14 January 2007

The Doctor is anxious to be rid of his unwelcome traveling companion, Lucie Miller. This leads the TARDIS to a motorway diner outside London 1974. The soon-to-be-famous brother and sister duo The Tomorrow Twins, find themselves stuck on their way to celebrity status on Top of the Pops, and a menace from beyond the stars is hunting them, killing any that get in its path. The Doctor is bemused and intrigued by the Stylophone Tommy Tomorrow obsessively plays in his lament to the cosmic creatures of his imagination, but Lucie is more interested in the counter worker Pat, whom she knows better as her aunt in the near future.

The Horror of Glam Rock is a love/hate story that once more utilizes the strengths of the Graham Williams era of the TV program; absurdity, humor and drama. Paul Magrs, who previously composed new adventures for Tom Baker’s Doctor on BBC Audio in addition to working on the Iris Wildthyme adventures and many more, brings a rich character to the Eighth Doctor that (in my opinion) had been lacking after his first audio series. I am a fan of Magrs signature style and of Bowie, T Rex and Roxy Music, so The Horror of Glam Rock is perfection for my ears. The long-haired and velvet-jacketed Doctor also fits right into the era. Even the manager of the Tomorrow Twins, Arnold Korns (a reference to Bowie’s pre-Ziggy persona) takes the Doctor as a rival glam rocker.

Once more the audio series echoes the BBC Wales TV series by placing the focus on the companion and having her meet her family in the past. Amusingly, there is no universe-shaking contradiction at stake if Pat believes her future niece. The story shrugs off the significance yet it retains a kind of touching humanity as Lucie mistakenly states her aunt is no one in the future… just Auntie Pat. In spite of this, Pat, formerly drummer for Methylated Spirits, proves Lucie wrong by showing she may not be an integral cog in the matters of the universe, but that doesn’t stop her from being a brave, resourceful and wonderful person.

The story is a rather standard ‘base under siege’ affair as the Doctor, twins and the rest attempt to not only survive the attack from the monsters outside but also unravel their mystery, but often the simpler plot ideas are the best as they leave room for character development and strong dialog. Luckily this story has both qualities in healthy doses. The guest cast are entertaining with Bernard Cribbins as Korns especially full of great moments. I also quite liked the solution involving the Stylophone (since I am a fan of the instrument and it ties into the music-heavy subject matter) and the revelation of ‘the Only Ones’ as being desperate under-handed aliens looking for a quick meal. The Only Ones exist in two versions, a base monstrous creature and an ethereal one that appeals to Tommy’s sensibilities. Using the music of the Stylophone, the Only Ones seek to merge the two and become whole then feast of the teenage fans of the Tomorrow Twins.

It’s a crass notion, but it works, especially given the theme of glam itself that is both visceral and cosmic. Magrs really penned a winner here and it is so weird that it becomes instantly iconic of this new Eighth Doctor era. After so much drudgery in the Divergent Universe adventures, it is delightful to see so much variety in this series once more.

Horror of Glam Rock

When he arrived, Paul McGann was welcomed by all as the ideal man for the job as a new generation’s Doctor Who. His reign was of course cut short and even though comics and novels took up the mantle, he has found new life in the audio format. This revival of the Eighth Doctor is great fun, so much so that you can almost see it in the mind’s eye as a televised reality.

Doctor Who and Horror of Glam Rock can be ordered from The Book Depository with free shipping worldwide by clicking on the link below:

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Doctor Who and The Blood of the Daleks

‘The Blood of the Daleks’

drWho_BF_BloodoftheDaleks_1 drWho_BF_BloodoftheDaleks_2
Written by Steve Lyons, Directed by Nicholas Briggs
Story 1.1/1.2
Transmitted on 31st December, 2006 and 7th January, 2007

Having just lost his best friend Charley, the Doctor is in a sour mood. Unfortunately, he is given no time to himself as the TARDIS is infiltrated by a foreign body named Lucie Miller. A stroppy north Englishwoman, Miller wastes no time in getting right on the Doctor’s last nerve by insulting his wardrobe, hairstyle (is his hair real?) and also implying that there is much more to her than she lets on. Unmoved by the concept of time and space travel, Lucie Miller accuses the Doctor of being a Martian kidnapper. When the TARDIS lands, the travelers find themselves in a hostile environment on the colony Red Rocket Rising.

The population is desperate for escape from a doomed city that is on the verge of collapse. Chased by a mad mob driven to extremes, a car crashes into the impenetrable TARDIS, killing the driver and stranding a pair of handcuffed survivors, Eileen Klint and her prisoner Asha Gryvern. Drawing attention from the others, the Doctor attempts to glean some information from the mob by playing the fool but ends up more confused than before. Rockets are sparingly launching from the planet toward a new home, but spots on them are valuable and rare.

There seems to be animosity directed at Asha’s former associate, the mad scientist Professor Martez who had committed unspeakably dark crimes involving grave robbing and genetic manipulation. After Martez died, the anger passed on to Asha who surprisingly declined her seat on an escape ship and found herself in the custody of Colony Senator turned President Klint. The Doctor and Lucie escape an incoming acid rain shower thanks to an apparently deranged survivor Tom Cardwell, a crackpot screaming about intruders from the stars from beneath a tin foil ha
Of course, crazy Tom Cardwell is precisely correct. Invaders are on the way, yet they arrive under the false promise of salvation, the Daleks. What makes matters more complicated is that they are not only expected, but they are not the only Daleks on Red Rocket Rising. It turns out that Professor Martez fancied himself a junior Davros and crafted a cross-breed of Daleks using corpses and Dalek blood. Will the two factions unite or wage a war that could threaten the tentative future of the human population.

The era of the Eighth Doctor is a convoluted one. Directly after the pilot movie that failed to launch a new TV series, a line of novels and a comic strip attempted to take the latest Doctor into his own legacy. Then the audio dramas came and developed yet another Eighth Doctor saga. Following six years of original audio stories, the decision was made to give him a fresh start. The Eighth Doctor had become more fleshed out from the limitations of his characterization on screen, but he was soon trapped within a story that had become angst-ridden and overly emotive as well as wildly random in quality.

The first few years are quite solid and build toward a dynamic finale, but once Zagreus arrives there is a definite drop into the Divergent Universe where the Doctor became cranky and his companions rather annoying. I don’t mean to dismiss such a large body of work like that… but it’s hard going. There is a 14 story block that challenges the listener to hang in there. That’s unfortunate as there are some superb ideas in there and Charley is one of the best companions ever, yet even actress India Fisher realized by her final adventure that fans were likely happy to see the back of her (ooh-er!)

Luckily, the pay off is in Blood of the Daleks when the Doctor is granted a reprieve from his past and a new lease on life. There have been comparisons of Lucie Miller to Donna Noble, another spirited companion who gave the Doctor some lip, however… I like Lucie Miller. She’s smart, self-determined and full of her own ideas about what should be done and how. There are many differences between Donna and Lucie, but the biggest to me is that she and the Doctor grate on each other (she actually causes the Doctor to get downright nasty) yet they end up complimenting each other in the end. There is also a big mystery around Lucie, how and why she ended up in the TARDIS and what her relationship is with the Time Lords. It’s all told very well and entices listeners to come back and see where it will go. Thankfully all of these stories are in the past, so I can say with some authority that the pay off is there.

After so many Dalek audio stories, many were getting bored with the creatures. Much like the situation on screen in the BBC Wales program, they lost their impact with familiarity. Yet Blood of the Daleks makes them downright scary and full of hatred again. These are the Daleks who are both cunning and deadly, killing everything that gets in their way. When they meet a breed of newly created Dalek/human mutations, they are filled with rage. An adventure that hearkens back to the events of Genesis of the Daleks when the Doctor had the opportunity to exterminate his enemies. This time, the Doctor is compelled to make a different decision and end the threat of the Daleks once and for all.

Again, this is the start of a very different era for the Eighth Doctor, one that would take him to new extremes and challenge what the character was capable of. I honestly can say now that I enjoy all of the various Doctors in audio form, but the Eighth Doctor is the most exciting as his path is still a mysterious one, leaving the possibilities wide open.

doctorwhobloodofthedalexz6
As a new companion, Sheridan Smith is a mixed bag, but only in that she grated with me right away, reminding me of Rose Tyler who I had already grown so weary of I had come to associate with the many failures of the BBC Wales program. Yet I had forgotten how brilliant Big Finish is in creating these new companions and she grew on me very quickly. As soon as it became clear that the mouth northern girl was something of a cover, Smith’s vocal range gains another level and I realized that this was going to get interesting. Well known from TV, Sheridan Smith was something of a score for Big Finish and her entry into the annals of Who immediately creates a dividing line from Charley, the Edwardian Adventuress.

Initially appearing to be a standard contemporary companion that listeners more familiar with characters like Rose Tyler, all that changes in the first story alone. When Lucie Miller becomes separated from the Doctor, she gains the freedom to make her own decisions that have surprising consequences including betraying the Doctor right after vocally calling out to the Time Lords for assistance. Just who is Lucie Miller and what is she all about??
drWho_sheridansmith

Doctor Who and The Blood of the Daleks can be ordered from The Book Depository with free shipping worldwide by clicking on the link below:

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Doctor Who and The Girl Who Never Was

The Girl Who Never Was

DwBF_103_the_girl_who_never_was
Written by Alan Barnes, directed by Barnaby Edwards
Story 103
Released December 2007

After losing C’rizz, Charley has come to the realization that her life with the Doctor was at best a fantasy that has come to an end. The Doctor may appear to be a dashing romantic adventurer, but he is also an ageless alien being who exists outside of time and space. He is incapable of relating to Charley as she would like and the closer the two have become, the more alien he has become. Their journeys through time and space were fun, but the excursion into the Divergent Universe strained their partnership to the breaking point. Despite all this awkwardness, the Doctor is determined to give his best friend one last adventure before they part and takes her to Singapore, where she was headed when they first met.

However, nothing ever goes as planned and the TARDIS has become confused by a temporal anomaly, causing them to land in the right place but the wrong time, New Year’s Eve 2008. But he is not the only person investigating the strange temporal hump centered on the SS Batavia. Charley is convinced that the Doctor redirected the TARDIS to 2008 in order to prevent her from interfering with the ‘web of time.’ She befriends the shifty man named Byron who, along with his mother, is very interested in the anomaly on the SS Batavia. The Doctor and Charley manage to extricate themselves from Byron and travel to the Baravia to find that it is mysteriously abandoned and encrusted with what appears to be rust but is actually temporal corrosion. As the infection spreads for the TARDIS, the travelers become separated and the HADS (Hostile Action Defense System introduced in the Troughton story the Krotons) prompts a sudden displacement.

The Doctor and Charley become separated by decades with Charley back in 1942 and the Doctor, Byron and his mother who identifies herself as Charley Pollard. Meanwhile, Charley attempts to help the crew of the SS Batavia, stranded in the Karimata Strait and under attack from a platoon of Cybermen, stranded om Earth.

Yes, I had intended to listen to the Eighth Doctor adventures in order but after the dreadful pacing of the Divergent Universe stories and the arrival of Dark Eyes in the mail, I decided to skip ahead. The final adventure of the Eighth Doctor and Charley arrived strangely after the BBC4 radio series started with Blood of the Daleks which introduced new companion Lucie Miller. As such, it is a celebration of the early days of the Eighth Doctor era and the beginning of a different approach to the dashing romantic as he became more of a brooding loner. It’s a remarkable idea and The Girl Who Never Was fits the bill, being equal parts melodrama, comedy and action.

I am a fan of the Cybermen, so I was very happy to hear them in this story, earning their place as the second most dangerous Doctor Who monster. It is true that the Cybermen are always on the verge of extinction with each appearance. There is no exception here but I do have to say that I am getting very tired of hearing their battle cry ‘you will become like us.’ As monsters they make a great impact and are suitable creepy, but it does become clear that they are filling the void as the ‘monster of the week’ which could just as easily been Zygons, Ice Warriors… Mechanoids…. whatever.

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I am a broken record, I know, but there are so many elements of the Eighth Doctor era that are present in the Russell T Davies material that I cannot ignore, especially the whimsical character of the Doctor and his sharp wit. However, just as Alan Barnes and company deal with the ‘Doctor in love’ idea far better than Davies, so is the Eighth Doctor far funnier and full of vitality than the 10th who serves as a pale imitation (in my opinion, anyway).

Like many, I was overjoyed with Charley at first, but as with everything, her character grated in the Divergent Universe adventures. Happily she is in fine form here and full of spunk and daring courage in the face of the unknown and an army of body stealing Cybermen. The temporal conundrums got a bit confusing at times, but the strength of the emotional story held up very well and paid homage to one of the most beloved of companions (if only to a select few) the ‘Edwardian Adventuress,’ ending on a sour note as the Doctor comes to realize that he must always lose his companions in the end.

I must say that the ending, sign posted by the change in signature theme, was very surprising and I look forward to what comes afterwards for both Charley and the Eighth Doctor in the stories to come. After some major set backs, the Charley/Doctor story ended on a very high note that Big Finish should be proud of.
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Paul McGann,The Eighth Doctor, returns in Doctor Who – Dark Eyes

Finally some details have emerged for the new Eighth Doctor box set, Dark Eyes. This hotly anticipated series set after the cataclysmic story ‘To The Death.’ McGann can be seen on the box art sporting his new attire and ‘armed’ with a new sonic screwdriver.

Doctor Who: Dark Eyes will be released November 2012.

Click to pre-order!

In the aftermath of To The Death…

An epic, box set adventure, taking the Doctor on a desperate journey through space and time.

Part One. The Great War – The Doctor is heading to ‘the edge’ and beyond. But the Time Lords have other ideas. On Earth, during the First World War, Molly O’Sullivan works hard as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nursing assistant. How can her destiny be bound up with that of the Doctor’s?

Part Two. Fugitives

Part Three. Tangled Web

Part Four. ‘X’ and the Daleks

More details soon…

Written By: Nicholas Briggs
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs

Cast

Paul McGann (The Doctor), Ruth Bradley (Molly O’Sullivan), Peter Egan (Straxus), Toby Jones (Kotris), Tim Treloar (Lord President), Laura Molyneaux (Isabel Stanford), Natalie Burt (Sally Armstrong), Ian Cullen (Nadeyan), Nicholas Briggs (The Daleks)

More details to come…