Can I Talk About The Planets Now?

I had planned to write a blog on Paul Dini’s original DC graphic novel starring Black Canary and Zatanna. I think I’ll watch to the end of the first Arrow box set first- then probably throw in a few observations about Gotham.

The first week of the North East’s  Tattie Holidays  ended with very mild and sunny weather. The park is strewn with conkers and the boating pond has been refilled. A pair of swans are gliding round it- when they take off, their wings snap like wet washing on the line.

This week, I’ve been reading more of Titan’s new Doctor Who comics. They’re all entertaining and faithful to the modern show.

The introductory adventure of the Tenth Doctor is (but only just ) the weakest of the three. The artwork is very busy but the story of a weaponised telepathic species unleashed on the Hispanic community of Brooklyn on the Day of the Dead -and saved by the music of a Mariachi band-does feel like something RTD would’ve written for the American market.

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The third issue also features an amusing humour strip set in a Psychic Paper call centre. It felt quite believable to me after 10-hour weekend shifts on Directory Enquiries.

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Al Ewing has been succeeded as the scripter of the Eleventh Doctor series by Rob Williams. He introduces a very witty parody of David Bowie- John Jones, the Tall Pale Earl- as a new companion in a story about Delta Bluesman Robert Johnson. Very amusing but possibly impenetrable to anyone under 45. However, the monster truck version of “sprightly yellow roadster”  Bessie is also worth a look.

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image from robwilliamscomics.co.uk

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As the Kevin Bacon of Scottish pop culture, I’m convinced that the Robbie Morrison who wrote issue one of the new Twelfth Doctor title worked alongside me in Hillington during the 1991 census. His story “Terrorformer” is set on a jungle planet owned by the 25th century’s richest man. The tone is very reminiscent of the DWM strip (although there’s nothing wrong with that). He cracks a joke about Scottish weather and  also captures the spikey new Glaswegian Doctor very well. “Bigger inside than out. Heard it!”

I have to say however that I’m finding Capaldi’s Dark Doctor quite wearing on tv. Kill The Moon and Mummy on the Orient Express were handsome episodes with creepy moments. However, the former’s daft sci-fi science and the latter’s remounting of 2007’s Voyage of the Damned (but with Frank Skinner instead of Kylie) left me feeling dissatisfied. Kill The Moon also strongly reminded me of a charming 1996 children’s book, World -Ea ter by Robert Swindells- one I was drawn to as a pigeon fancier’s son, in Jordanhill’s library, as a student about seven years ago.

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The tv narratives were told in innovative ways- in media res or with a countdown on screen- but the rift between Clara and the Doctor in Moon  became a “break up to make up”  story.

The ambiguous alien Doctor was pioneered and then mellowed quickly in Hartnell’s first months ( and later revisited very briefly with Troughton in Evil of the Daleks.) The  idea was then exhumed  least successfully in Colin Baker’s era -which is the one I’m most reminded of today. The production team, for my money, are on a hiding to nothing undermining the Doctor’s authority -especially in the wake of The Caretaker which saw an acerbic white man implying  a black soldier wouldn’t be able to teach Maths, despite occupying a less-qualified job role.

So, as ever for the Cancerian, I returned to the past for comfort. Domain of the Voord is the first release in the Big Finish Early Adventures range. It’s very much in the vein of The Companion Chronicles which tended to be two – or three- hander readings rather than plays with more interior monologue. I think the re-branding has come about because some 60s companions have been recast.

Anyway, this story is a sequel to 1964’s Keys of Marinus and was written by Andrew Smith who was a big inspiration to me as a teen. His tv Who adventure Full Circle  in the autumn of  1980 suggested a 17-year-old could write a script for the series and see it produced.

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Set on a water world invaded by the Voord, this story is extremely “Trad” and the spectre of 60s totalitarianism informs it. Hartnell’s Doctor even has a “holiday” during the storyline. The combination of authentic cast voices and 1964-style stock music makes it feel like a genuine Lost Story. It also elevates the rubbery Voord by giving them a “cultist culture” with a gruesome (if predictable) initiation ceremony. This is a nostalgic listen if you like the First Doctor and his adventures.

Coming soonfor hallowe’en : Dark Shadows and Masters of Terror

All images presumed copyright of their respective owners

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