I have never seen a 3D movie in my life. My perception of the increased cost and the sheer faff of 3D glasses has always put me off. However, the novelty of a 3D showing of Doctor Who’s 50th celebration last Saturday in my local cinema encouraged me to break my habit.
Well, I still haven’t seen a 3D Movie- I was virtually the only punter to struggle through The Day of the Doctor in 2D since I somehow didn’t get the glasses!
But what was the 50th anniversary special actually like? Well, very slow to start with, I felt, and with little to enage the very young, after the playful cinema trailers with Strax the Sontaran and the Doctors.
A sprawling adventure that encompassed UNIT, Elizabethan England, the homefront battlefield of Gallifrey and Susan Foreman’s old school, I was reminded most of Virgin’s New Adventures novels of the mid-90s.
Aside from a logical and crowd-pleasing team-up of the Eleventh and Tenth Doctors, there were also cameos by the other eleven– including a tantalising glimpse of incomer, Peter Capaldi. The plot device- from the seemingly unconnected Name of The Doctor, namely John Hurt’s grizzled War Doctor- had also appeared days earlier in a hugely popular online prelude. There, we’d seen the regeneration of Paul McGann’s Byronic Eighth incarnation but in the special, the grizzled Hurt was absolved of his burden of guilt by a puckish artificial intelligence, incarnated as Billie Piper.
This confused and illogical adventure not only apparently rewrote the history of Tennant’s Tenth Doctor (by restoring the Time Lords and their planet) but further outraged fans with a cameo by Tom Baker. The rather poetic coda was the most charming and appropriate tribute to the show’s history in the episode to my mind but only served to freak out the more literally-minded fans .
I was a little disappointed that, Coal Hill School aside, there was no reference to the original adventure with the Doctor’s grand-daughter. On the other hand, a story with the Doctor’s missus, River Song would have been one too many.
However, the special seemed to be very popular with the predominantly young audience and that’s probably just as it should be. My school’s resident teenage Doctor-impersonator, who is autistic, bellowed at me: “I can’t function- DON’T ASK MY OPINION YET!”.
The 50th celebration kicked off on audio meanwhile with the first of a series of performed readings under the umbrella title Destiny of the Doctor. I just got around to listening to the first instalment, Hunters of Earth. This story is read by Susan herself, Carole Ann Ford. It depicts the Unearthly Child’s schooldays in a story where pop music is used as a carrier signal for an alien influence that creates hatred for the unlike and social unrest. It’s a reasonably compelling narrative with an amusing aural “cameo” for the Eleventh Doctor. 3 out of 5 Tamars.
One of the more outre entries in the adventures of the First Doctor is The Celestial Toymaker, by Brian Hayles. Big Finish have brought the unmade sequel to audio, featuring Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury.
The Queen of Time pits the Second Doctor against Hecuba, sister to the Toymaker, who invites the Tardis crew to a bizarre banquet. Each course involves a deadly “timey-wimey” game. This is effectively a rehash of the 1966 story, retro-fitted around Jamie and Zoe rather than Victoria. There is little atmosphere and the world conjured by the script is elusive and thin. Hecuba herself is voiced by Caroline Fraser with a breathy mix of seduction and madness but it’s very predictable stuff. 2 out of 5 Talmars