25/02/2011

Lost & Found by Oliver Wake

The first and second Doctor boxed sets are welcome additions to Big Finish’s Lost Stories range, after last year’s mixed bag of sixth Doctor offerings. Unlike some of the well-known missing stories, like the original season 23, Moris Farhi’s first Doctor tale Farewell, Great Macedon was unknown to fandom until Richard Bignell learned of it in 1999, leading to a fascinating DWM feature about the story in 2000 (issue 294) and the amateur publication of the script last year. On reading this script, I was struck by how well it could be adapted for an audio recording in the style of Big Finish’s Companion Chronicles series. So, I was delighted when it was announced that BF were doing so for their Lost Stories series.


23/02/2011

Nicholas Courtney

Some actors have such an affinity for a role that it obscures most of the other work they do in their career, however good. Nicholas Courtney will forever be associated with Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge –Stewart who helped save the world many times during the Doctor Who of the 1970s and 80s. Such a fondly remembered character may well be the result of a combination of creative circumstances but it was the casting of Courtney that made it comes to life (“No, no it wasn’t” you can imagine him barking!). The Brigadier needed to be the rod of sanity amidst globby orange aliens and gargoyles coming to life; his unflappable responses to these situations added something special to this period of the series. “Chap with wings, five rounds rapid!” and “I’m fairly sure it’s Cromer” are great lines but it’s the way Courtney delivers them that makes him a human character in what is an otherwise exaggerated reality.

17/02/2011

Hocus Pocus, I’m A Recommissoned Diplodocus! by Tim Worthington

Dinosaurs, most experts agree, died out as a result of a huge asteroid impact that took place approximately sixty five million years ago. However, there are some who maintain this was due to a volcanic eruption that covered the ocean floor with lava, and others still that the prehistoric reptiles were unable to adapt to the evolving environment and changes in the food chain. And then there's Beavis & Butthead, who contend that dinosaurs simply got lost in museums where they eventually died of boredom amongst the exhibits.
What they can all agree on is that Primeval became exctinct as a result of aimless 'cost-cutting' at ITV, seemingly as part of a wider initiative to avoid having to actually make any programmes at all. A bizarre press release more or less claimed that "it's so successful that we don't have to make it any more", newsreaders blubbed their way through lists of redundant dinosaurs, and the hapless fans just took the fact that they'd never find out what happened to the team members stranded on the other side of an anomoly in their stride. After all, you can't fight City Hall, even if accompanied by a CGI brontosaurus.

12/02/2011

Rhythm of Life by John Connors

`The Mutants` is 1970s Doctor Who at its most allegorical, packed with themes such as colonisation, scientific morals, economic reality and racism, often delivered in dialogue heavy scenes. If that makes it sound dull, then you’ll be surprised just how involving it is, how the six part format allows plenty of time for running about and action to balance the more issue driven aspects. Writers Bob Baker and Dave Martin deserve credit for keeping such a bunch of characters interesting. When you look at the roll call –marshall, administrator, scientist, guards – you might be forgiven for thinking nothing will spark but it does. The plot remains inquisitive at all times, finding new angles and developments all the time even if by the end you feel a little bit Solosed out.

10/02/2011

Kids Stuff Monsters by John Connors

 In its early days, `The Sarah Jane Adventures` relied on making it’s heroine an ersatz Doctor complete with her own more feminine sonic. Her time and space travel experience was the equivalent of the Doctor’s Googlepedic galactic knowledge, the attic and Mr Smith her TARDIS and the young neighbour her companion. As the series has progressed (and who would have imagined it would last this long?) it’s developed its own rhythm, much of it based on the idea of real or surrogate families. For this fourth season the writers are confident enough to acknowledge the limitations with which they are comfortable and there’s little attempt to even stretch the adventures beyond the “Ealing Triangle”. Somehow this little show has got better and better (wobbly third season notwithstanding) and this year is its best yet.

07/02/2011

Step By Step In Space And Time, The Hawkeye Captain Solves The Crime! by Tim Worthington

You’d probably need some sort of space detective to work out exactly what started off the early eighties trend for ‘intelligent sci-fi’, but whatever it was, it can still be proved beyond all reasonable doubt that it made for something of a renaissance of the genre and some top notch books, films, television and radio shows. On the BBC alone you got, amongst others, The Hitch-hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, The Day Of The Triffids, Peter Davison-era Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, Radio 4’s Earthsearch, and even a couple of children’s game shows, which are remembered far better than any children’s game show of the time has any right to be. And neither of them was even Cheggers Plays Pop.

06/02/2011

Citizen Jek by Anthony Malone

God, I was disappointed with this story when it first went out. Bear in mind I was 11 and desperately wanted Davison, my Doctor, to go out in a story resembling Earthshock as closely as possible. The announcement of Davison’s departure prior to the Five Doctors was shockingly early and built expectations of a tour de force third series featuring armies of Raston Warrior Robots facing off against Daleks; not a big ask, imaginatively, mainly because of the great ideas we were seeing month after month in DWM. The comic strip was just as much a part of this era with “The Stockbridge Horror” providing some of the most memorable images of the period; the masked alien clinging to the outside of the TARDIS pinched wholesale for the opening of Utopia, for example. No, Davison’s departure was a crushing disappointment, “The Five Doctors” was the last time Doctor Who had currency in my playground, but…at least a regeneration was on the horizon.

Shark Bait? by Matthew Kilburn

When I was a child, there seemed something disreputable about Doctor Who. It wasn't just that there seemed to be numerous adults determined to cure me of an addiction which could do me no good, it was that there was clearly a strand of thought at the BBC which didn't think it was good for anyone either. This was particularly the case at holiday times, when a continuity announcer would often introduce a film or perhaps some entertainment spectacular as a programme 'for all the family'. What followed invariably had little appeal to me, or indeed to anyone else in the family. The obvious programme with family appeal was not something vaguely circus-like in an arena, or a saccharine sentimental transfer from the cinema, but Doctor Who; but as the 1970s wore on, the compilation episodes which had flown the flag for the Doctor as Christmas or bank holiday entertainer became things of the past, as though they were a failed experiment. Rather, I would have agreed, be strangled by obscene vegetable matter than take a flying car to a candyfloss Mitteleuropa or wait for a father to emerge from the smoke of a coal-fired railway engine. The real magic lay in and through the TARDIS. What was a sign of rebellion then is orthodoxy now; but I couldn't help thinking that in A Christmas Carol something had been lost amid the sugarfrosting.

Intro by John Connors

Well, here we are in a sort of blog thingy, only about 10 years late! After all that time on paper and about 18 months as an e-zine pdf, I felt it was time to go further. As you can see from the ramshackle design, I have no skills whatsoever in this field, but I thought I may as well start somewhere.

I'm still getting used to the idea that we won't have issues as such, just things appearing randomly. Much of what you'll read here initially is from what would have been called issue 29. So, as it's already late, I'd better get on with it then. Please let us know what you think and please contribute as if this was a fanzine. Which, in a way, it is.