It’s been a very long time since I posted about Dr. Who. It’s been quite an eventful summer for the old Time Lord. I review the audio plays, books and comics so you don’t have to.
Breaking Bubbles: another portmanteau disc with four stories of the Sixth Doctor and Peri. For me the best efforts were Nev Fountain’s The Curious Incident of the Doctor in the Night Time and Una McCormack’s An Eye for Murder.
The former is obviously a parody of Mark Haddon’s novel, pitting Sixie against an invasion of alien garden gnomes. Of course, he’s assisted by an autistic teen –who sounded a little too mature for my taste. Clever but a little sentimental. I bet Moffat kicked himself if he heard it.
The latter was my favourite: a pastiche of Dorothy L. Sayers as alien tech becomes part of a Nazi plot at a ladies college.
Revenge of the Swarm: a very “Trad” Seventh Doctor adventure. BF revives the prawn puppet that was the Nucleus of the Swarm from 1977’s The Invisible Enemy. The first two episodes reveal the origins of the viral antagonist and the next two are a Tron parody as the life form attains control of the Hypernet.
McCoy’s Doctor is at his most manipulative as he prepares to gamble the life of his Scouse companion Hector. Philip Olivier adopts a gravelly timbre for “possessed” Hector; his screams as Hector’s Hypernet avatar is devoured by the Swarm are actually quite harrowing.
Tales of Trenzalore: advertised as the 11th Doctor’s Last stand, this is the hard copy of an ebook which sees various classic Who monsters revived for the siege of Christmas Town as seen in The Time of the Doctor.
I liked Paul Finch’s sailing adventure Strangers in the Outland: an Auton story which reveals the secret of Eleven’s wooden leg!
Engines of War: the latest BBC hardback is a untold tale of John Hurt’s war Doctor. A bland Dalek story, it pits a generic older Doctor against his Skarosian arch-foes. He’s assisted by an equally generic girl rebel, Cinder. I was instantly reminded of Gerry Conway’s late 80s series Cinder & Ashe: a merc-and-orphan DC urban crime tale.
The novel is weighty but lacks style and is wholly predictable-especially for Cinder. Inoffensive but quite inessential.
Prisoners of Time: IDW’s 50th anniversary collection. Each tv Doctor (aside from the War Doctor) has an adventure illustrated by a different artist. There is also a series arc as an embittered former ally abducts Companions in each installment.
The highlights are: Zarbi in the London underground circa 1868; Jamie and Zoe in a space shopping mall with the Ice Warriors; John Ridgway reuniting Sixie, Peri and Frobisher in his classic storybook style; Roger Langridge’s chubby Wildean Eighth Doctor and Grace; and Martha Jones vs Quarks at the Griffith Observatory.
Unsuprisingly, perhaps, the story has a Secret Wars-style payoff where all those Doctors and their companions face off against
No, not River Song- Todd off Corrie aka Adam from The Long Game. There’s some charm to the episodes but it’s really just all the toys lined up on the counterpane . Thank goodness The Day of the Doctor didn’t take that route last November.
So: what of the Capaldi Doctor?
His debut was a plodding retread of The Girl in the Fireplace with the over-exposed and unfunny Paternoster Gang. The second episode was a trippy Cycle 24 rehash of Lost in Space’s “Trip Through The Robot”. The third, a campy romp with Robin Hood. ( If this were the US , there’d have been a crossover with Jonas Armstrong’s Robin Hood in 2008)
I dislike the discordant new version of the theme and the literal intrepretation of the titles i.e. clocks. Clara remains the ultimate Mary Sue. The Twelfth Doctor himself seemed like a brusque professorial crow. By the third episode, he resembled Chic Murray as an undertaker. The ageing bovver boy-cum-magician outfit that echoed Pertwee’s glam flash had morphed into a suave coat that might suit Paisley’s John Byrne. Twelve can double-take hilariously and his catty remarks to Clara are quite funny.
I’m not enthused so far, unfortunately, by the general “dark” direction of the series. I wonder if the pendulum swing to an abrasive middle-aged Scot was perhaps too drastic a change from the eligible young men of the last nine years. However, as possibilities swirl around us in the next few days, it might just seem that change has arrived, indeed, ” not a moment too soon”.
Coming soon: Titan Comics’ new Who titles and the third series of The Fourth Doctor Adventures. Plus Justice League Canada!
Next: Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.