Doctor Who: Dreams of Empire

I had received this book for Christmas and only got around to finishing it recently, so I wanted to share some thoughts on it while it was still fresh in my mind.

In summary, the plot involves the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria landing on an asteroid where the remnants of the Haddron Empire are located. Certain factions are pitted against each other, and one has robots employed to do a lot of destruction in order to retrieve a certain figure who is being held there. There is a lot of political intrigue that the Doctor and his companions end up being embroiled in and it’s interesting to see how they figure into it. If I had to guess, it seems the story is set after The Ice Warriors; the Doctor makes some comment about them having been “froze out”, which I took to be a reference to that serial. If that’s not the case then it is definitely set after The Tomb of the Cybermen, as mention is made of Victoria’s new shorter dress, and Toberman from that serial is brought up by Jamie.

In the foreword the author describes his inspiration for the novel (something about having watched a documentary or miniseries – can’t remember which – on the Roman Empire), as well as his affection for the Second Doctor. He mentions how it might be hard to get his persona through the written word because he’s so expressive with his facial expressions and gestures. Despite that, I thought he did a very good portrayal of the Doctor. Jamie and Victoria were also very well-written.

The Doctor and his companions don’t show up right away; first there is some background on the Empire/Republic and its major players to set the stage for what our heroes are about to face. The characters are all quite interesting and although the politics is lightly touched upon, it makes for some interesting background information as well.

Not long after the Doctor, Jamie and Victoria show up, they come across the body of a dead man and, natch, are accused of having killed him. They eventually earn the trust of Trayx, the man who for all intents and purposes is in charge here.

There is also a chess metaphor set up in the story, which features heavily. Two men, Kesar (whose face is hidden behind a bronze mask after having been badly injured/burned beyond recognition in a battle) and Kruger, are seen at various times engaged in a chess game.

After a while they figure out all is not what it seems in more ways than one and have to unravel this mystery. There is a lot of action with battles taking place between robots and humans. There is also a pretty neat twist regarding Kesar not being the man he was thought to be all along.

As I mentioned earlier, the Doctor and his friends were very well written; although they don’t feature very heavily, the author seems to have gotten their personalities down quite well. There’s a funny moment where the Doctor is explaining to Jamie something related to the chess match, and bringing up some trivia regarding Leo Tolstoy and chess games. Jamie’s response is something to the effect of: “Doctor, I don’t care.” LOL.

It was a very engaging story that kept me wanting more with every turn of the page. I wasn’t sure how interested I’d be in it given all the political intrigue, but it really held my interest.

Fury from the Deep DVD review

Because there still is no word about a Region 1 DVD release for this one, I decided to buy the Region 2 DVD off of eBay. (Spoilers obviously for no one who’s seen it yet)

I had read some fans’ comments about it before I even got it so I was a bit spoiled at least on the animation style. Some griped that only the Doctor resembled himself quite well, while Jamie and Victoria didn’t look much like themselves. Most mentioned the bizarrely long arms that all of the characters had. I believe a few also weren’t too happy with the creative license the animators took in general (I’ll get into that a bit).

After getting the DVD set, I went into the viewing with those comments in mind. I disagree as far as the resemblances go. I thought Jamie and Victoria’s likenesses were quite good (as was the Doctor’s). I did notice the long arms thing, and it did seem a bit odd at times (and at times it seemed their heads were a bit too small for their bodies) but I tried to chalk that up to the animation style. It wasn’t overly distracting.

As for the creative license, I did notice that in areas like the Impeller Room they had “Wanted” notices with the Master’s picture on them. It was a cute little in-joke, but I could see how purists might roll their eyes and think that it takes away from the experience. I believe they did the same in “The Faceless Ones” animated reconstruction (I will get around to reviewing that one; it’s been a while since I last watched it, so I’ll have to rewatch to refresh my memory).

This was one of the stories that I never really watched in entirety. I hate to admit it, but I find it a bit hard to watch the recons that are just made up of the stills (though I admit the Loose Cannon recons were very good), especially when they’re more than 4 or so episodes. Having said that, I’d only seen a little bit of this serial; namely the first and last episodes (I might have seen the second, but it’s been a few years). It was much easier to watch via the animation and I was able to enjoy it as if it was the first time I’d ever watched it. I had seen the last few scenes of the last episode with Victoria’s goodbye, and it was one of the things I regret about this story being missing. Jamie’s scene with her out on the patio at night was so heartfelt and sad, and it sounded as if he’d given her a kiss. I thought they did a very nice treatment of this scene for the animation. Jamie did give her a kiss on the head/forehead at the very end.

Overall I thought it was a nice treatment of the story and I did like the animation style. It’s available in both color and black & white, and there’s also the option of watching the recon version with the stills.

As for the extras, I haven’t explored all of them yet but I would like to touch upon a few: The surviving footage, scene trims from episode 6, and behind the scenes film (from the same episode) are the same ones found on the “Lost in Time” DVD set, although they stitch them together nicely to recreate the specific scene from the episode that they’re from; for example, they use the surviving soundtrack and overlay it on top of the surviving footage.

“The Cruel Sea – Surviving Fury from the Deep” is a very nice extra featuring cast (Frazer Hines, June Murphy (Maggie Harris), and Brian Cullingford (Perkins)) and crew returning to the locations used in filming. They take a boat out to the rigs at one point and explore. In between they share their memories of filming (at one point Frazer talks about how cold it was filming on the beach that his knees turned blue and his girlfriend had to massage them πŸ˜‰ He also recalled how sad they were for Deborah Watling to be leaving and how sad Jamie was because he had feelings for Victoria). This was also interspersed with older segments of Deborah Watling and Victor Pemberton at a convention in 1988 talking about the story. At the end they all went from the sea to a comfortable restaurant/pub for a drink and a chat. It was a very enjoyable extra.

All in all, this was a nice treatment of the story and I enjoyed what I’d seen of the extras. I’m curious to see what they will be animating next.

How I got into Doctor Who

Wow, I can’t believe it has been this long since I updated this blog! I’m so sorry about that. I’d been away for part of the summer, then work got really busy, the holidays were upon us, and finally my 74-year-old mom was having health issues for which she had surgery. I had meant to update a lot earlier but could never find the time.

There is so much I want to blog about. Since then I have read some more Doctor Who novels and I’d like to share my thoughts about them. I also got The Faceless Ones animated episodes on DVD and just now got Fury From the Deep, so I will write about them too.

But first I’d like to share how I got into Doctor Who in the first place. It was around 1981. Here in America, Doctor Who had been airing on PBS stations. Both of my parents were into science fiction (my dad being a big fan of Star Trek already). I was about 3 years old when I was watching TV with them one day. I saw a funny man with googly eyes, a mop of brown curls, and a long colorful scarf. I asked what this show was and was told “Doctor Who.” Even though I was so young and probably didn’t understand half of what was going on, there was something about it I liked. I even thought the opening theme song was kind of creepy and cool. Don’t ask me what the episode was about. I just vaguely remember Tom Baker’s Doctor on some planet or other. Not sure who the companion was (though I think it might have been Sarah Jane) or who the baddies were in it.

I’m not sure how long we watched on PBS but probably not more than a few years. Fast forward to 1996. I was graduating high school and heard there was to be a Doctor Who movie on network TV here. I immediately felt nostalgic and when I saw the pictures of Paul McGann in the role it piqued my interest. I did watch it and it seemed different but still interesting. Around the same time I remember reading articles in various magazines and books I had on TV shows in general regarding the earlier Doctors. I remember someone saying that Patrick Troughton’s Doctor was a lot like a hippie (don’t ask who wrote this or where I saw it). I started picturing him looking like Wavy Gravy with a bushy beard, headband, granny glasses and a tie-dyed shirt. I kid you not. A blurb about William Hartnell’s Doctor just mentioned him as a grumpy old man, and one about Jon Pertwee’s being a Bond-like character. The only Doctor I was familiar with at that point really was Tom Baker so I found it fascinating to read about these earlier Doctors.

That was about the extent of my exposure to Doctor Who until around 2005 when SciFi (now known as SyFy) started airing the “New Who” with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor. There was that feeling of nostalgia all over again and I started watching faithfully his episodes followed by David Tennant’s. I didn’t watch much of Matt Smith’s because I hadn’t really warmed up to him much, although he grew on me later on. I watched most of Peter Capaldi’s and then watched a few of Jodie Whittaker’s… although I admit I wasn’t crazy about the writing by that point so I sort of fell away from it.

Going back to 2013-2014, I started searching for old clips on YouTube, and finally got a glimpse of the 1st through 3rd Doctors. Imagine my shock to see the 2nd Doctor was not the “hippie” I’d envisioned him as, lol. Once I found these old clips I got more and more interested in the classic episodes. For Christmas the following year I got the “Lost In Time” DVD set with the 1st and 2nd Doctor “orphan” episodes from the missing (or mostly missing) stories. Their companions grew on me, especially Barbara and Ian, Vickie, Steven, Ben and Polly, and I took an instant liking to Jamie, Victoria and Zoe. I had to seek out more and from there I expanded my DVD collection to include stories from the 1st and 2nd Doctor’s times (as well as a few from the 3rd’s).

I then ventured out into the Classic Who fandom some, and have found other fans to be nothing but welcoming. Its a nice little fandom that is a pleasure to be a part of and extremely tame compared to some of the others I have belonged to (Stargate SG-1, Supernatural). I began writing fanfiction, started my own Classic Who blog on Tumblr, and have even attended a convention, meeting a few of the cast and fellow fans.

It’s been a great experience which I hope will continue for quite some time. I want to thank the fans and cast I’ve met for being so pleasant and accommodating.

(And again, I promise I will update this more regularly :))

Doctor Who: Harvest of Time

I’ve finally got a reason to update this blog. I was given the novel “Doctor Who: The Harvest of Time” as a Christmas gift and finally got a chance to finish reading it.

This book written by Alastair Reynolds is an adventure featuring the Third Doctor, Jo Grant and UNIT (the Brigadier, Captain Yates and Sergeant Benton make appearances). In summary, there are strange goings-on in the vicinity of an oil rig off the coast of Scotland. People are being attacked by little metal crab-like creatures called Sild who attach themselves to their victims, putting them under their control. Meanwhile, shady government types are working with an enigmatic fellow who turns out to be – you guessed it – the Master. The Sild eventually target the Master, and the Doctor ends up having to work with him in order to stop the Sild from taking over Earth.

Jo and UNIT didn’t feature too heavily in this one, but whenever they did feature I thought they were completely in character. I could just picture the actors’ mannerisms and hear them saying the lines. The Doctor’s characterization was also well done, as was the Master’s. The author portrayed their banter/sniping back and forth at one another as they’re forced to work together. We also got some glimpses into their history together, and less antagonistic interaction at times that was well done.

I also loved the nod to Jamie McCrimmon in this one. Towards the beginning, the Doctor and Jo meet a character by the name of Edwina “Eddie” McCrimmon, who is the middle-aged daughter of the man who was formerly in charge of the rig. Someone else associated with the rig mentions “McCrimmon” to the Doctor, who replies something to the effect of “I knew a McCrimmon once. Awfully decent fellow.” It’s never said whether this character could have been a descendant of Jamie, but I still appreciated the nod to him here. πŸ™‚ Edwina is a very good, well-rounded character, proving she’s more than able to hold her own throughout all the dangerous predicaments in which she gets herself involved. There was a cool twist later on involving her, although the author seems to telegraph it and it wasn’t as much of a surprise as I’d thought… still, it was pretty well done.

The Praxilions, the aliens to which we get a quick introduction at the very beginning (and which we see much more of in the second half of the book), are pretty interesting characters, as is the history of their planet.

I also liked the nod to the Masters’ other incarnations while he and the Doctor are working together aboard the Consolidator. He sees them all on display and the descriptions bring to mind not only his decaying self from the 4th Doctor’s time (The Deadly Assassin especially), but also the Saxon!Master from the 10th’s era and the more recent Missy.

The only nitpicks I have about this book are that, one, it tends to drag quite a bit in the second half. The action is well-paced in the first half, but once the Doctor and Master are working together, it’s as if the author takes the situation and zooms in on it, slowing down time as he’s doing so (not sure if “time dilation” would be a proper description for this?). It’s almost as if he suddenly realizes it and then quickly rushes to the end of the book. The second nitpick is that the environmental “message” seems a bit heavy-handed. I know it does fit well within this era of Doctor Who (see episodes like “Doctor Who and the Silurians” and “The Green Death”), but the way the author has Edwina giving her press conference at the end and saying the things she does, it’s done in a quite heavy-handed way as if he just wanted to get his agenda out there. I think a more subtle approach would have worked, but I think it might be a casualty of the fact that he’d slowed things down so much earlier and perhaps realized he quickly had to wrap it up. I also found that when she told the Doctor and Jo that her father was actually very agreeable to her new direction with the company a bit hard to believe, given the glimpses of his character we were given earlier. I won’t say any more as I don’t want to make this political in the least. I did enjoy the book; I just couldn’t help being a bit disappointed by these two items.

That concludes my review. I’m about to start reading the Second Doctor book “The Final Sanction” and I’ll be sure to post my thoughts when I’m finished with it.

The Faceless Ones Animation

The animated treatment of the (mostly) missing Second Doctor serial The Faceless Ones now has a release date!

According to this article, it will be released on plain DVD, Blu-Ray and SteelBook on the 16th of March. That’s the Region 2 version, of course. No word on Region 1, and Amazon.com hasn’t updated their listing of it so I assume it’ll be delayed until at least November or December like The Macra Terror was. :/

Nevertheless, the article mentions the serial is being presented in color (not sure if they’ll offer an alternate black-and-white version as they did with Macra) and will include extras such as a telesnap recon of the missing episodes along with the surviving two, audio commentaries, etc.

There’s also a link in the article to preorder the DVD on Amazon.co.uk.

EDIT: According to the listing on Amazon.co.uk, it seems there will also be a black-and-white version of the story in addition to the color one.

Doctor Who Tales of Terror – review

I received this book for Christmas and just recently finished it, so I wanted to write up a review.

This book is a collection of 12 Halloween-themed stories – one for each Doctor (this was published before the 13th’s time). I was surprised to find out that it’s more of a children’s book, but the stories were so well done I can’t see why adults would enjoy them as well. I’ll include a short synopsis and possibly some things I liked about each story. There are also illustrations throughout, one for each story. They usually depict either the Doctor and his companions, or some supporting characters.

  1. Murder in the Dark: This one features the 1st Doctor, Steven and Dodo encountering a spooky house that seems to be all decked out for a Halloween party. Inside there are kids all dressed up in Halloween costumes playing various games. Steven and Dodo end up getting involved, however the games soon turn deadly. I won’t give much away, but it turns out that the Celestial Toymaker is involved, challenging them to one more game.

2. Something at the Door: This story involves the 2nd Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie. It seems to take place right after Jamie joins them in the TARDIS after The Highlanders. Ben and Polly are giving him a tour of the TARDIS when they happen upon a strange room they’ve never seen before. Inside they find a Ouija board and Polly insists on playing with it, much to the consternation of both Ben and Jamie. They take it into the actual control room and play with it. All hell breaks loose (upsetting the Doctor of course) and they destroy the board, but it’s not over yet. Someone ends up possessed by an evil being lurking out in the time vortex. That’s about all I’ll say.

3. The Monster in the Woods: This story features the 3rd Doctor and Jo. It centers mainly on three young siblings who have met a “friend” which they call Starman in the woods and have brought him different objects as gifts. Starman turns out to be an injured Dalek who had long ago crash landed in the area, and needs the “gifts” as parts for his recovery. The Doctor and Jo soon get involved and the Doctor decides to take the Dalek back to UNIT HQ to help. Things don’t go exactly as planned, however.

4. Toil and Trouble: This one involves the 4th Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry. As the name might suggest, it features a race of aliens who take on the form of three old hags who have Sarah Jane under their control, having a voodoo doll of her and all. It all starts when she is exploring one of the rooms on the TARDIS, going through souvenirs the Doctor had collected. The Doctor and Harry realize something is wrong and try to save her. Not only that but they’re also dealing with some reapers lurking in the Time Vortex.

5. Mark of the Medusa: This story features the 5th Doctor, Tegan and Turlough. Kamelion also features. They visit a space station, home to a friend of the Doctor’s who invites them to a party he’s hosting. The space station also houses a huge museum, with works of art and artifacts which were stolen from various periods of history on Earth. Someone sinister ends up on the loose inside, and you can probably guess from the title what it is. There seems to be a throwback to Tegan’s ordeal in Kinda and Snakedance, although it turns out she’s not the one controlling Medusa. I won’t reveal exactly who actually is, but it’s pretty interesting.

6. Trick or Treat: This one involves the 6th Doctor, no companions. He’s visited in the TARDIS by a group of young boys wearing Halloween costumes, going trick or treating. It turns out these boys seem a bit familiar in a very creative way. I won’t give it away, but one thing I did enjoy was the way they played off the 6th Doctor – barbs traded and all. The author who wrote this one had also written the first story, and the two are tied together very neatly… it’s almost as if this one is a sequel. I enjoyed the way she had done this.

7. Living Image: This one involves the 7th Doctor and Ace. They land in London during the 19th century and meet a painter who is haunted by his mother’s death, her spirit literally “nagging” him as he attempts to paint. It turns out supernatural entities are impersonating his mother, feeding off his grief and demanding him to keep painting. It gets worse as they try to come through his canvas, which has literally become a portal.

8. Organism 96: This story features the 8th Doctor with no companions, however there is a young lady featuring heavily in it who could almost be considered a companion. It takes place on a cruise ship where a mysterious passenger has been rescued and taken aboard. The passenger is an innocent looking old lady who seems pleasant enough. She charms many of the other passengers. Shortly thereafter, strange deaths begin occurring. The Doctor who happens to be a passenger as well realizes something is off with the old lady, but hardly anyone will believe him. I won’t give away what happens, but it’s a very interesting tale.

9. The Patchwork Pierrot: This one involves the 9th Doctor with no companions. It takes place at a traveling circus in America (Nebraska, to be exact). The Doctor lands here and is excited to check it out. He meets several young employees who mention seeing a creepy figure called a Pierrot – basically a doll with no face – stalking the grounds at night. The Doctor and Mona – one of the young workers – end up spotting it one night and getting into a tussle. The thing takes Mona hostage. The Doctor finds them and it turns out this thing is a familiar old foe of his – I wont give away which one. πŸ™‚

10. Blood Will Out: This story features the 10th Doctor and Donna. It’s a creepy tale involving monsters known as The Family of Blood trying to break through mirrors in a fun house mirror maze. It turns out the Doctor has a bit of history with this “family”, so you can imagine they would be out for revenge. I won’t say much more except that the Doctor and Donna end up chained in a dark tunnel. All seems lost until the Doctor “Houdini’s” himself out of it and takes on this group of monsters, finally banishing them. Very dark and interesting tale.

11. The Mist of Sorrow: This one features the 11th Doctor. He doesn’t feature too prominently here. It mainly centers on a family (parents and three kids) on holiday driving in their car only to stumble upon a huge gathering of weeping angels and a strange mist. They’re pretty much held hostage by the angels until their radio crackles to life, and a voice gives them instructions on how to beat them. The voice is, you would imagine, the Doctor’s. They do make it out and the family gets to check out the Doctor’s TARDIS (much to the excitement of one of the boys, who seems to be a budding Doctor fanboy).

12. Baby Sleepy Face: This story features the 12th Doctor with no companions. In a bit of a throwback to the 3rd Doctor’s era, the Autons are back and causing trouble in a factory making dolls. The main characters here are a young set of twins, a boy and girl, whose father had worked at this factory earlier. They decide to check it out one night and are in for more than they’d ever thought possible. The Doctor shows up to help save the day.

To sum up, this was a really nice collection of stories. I can’t say I enjoyed any one author over the others. They all seemed to portray the characters we’re so familiar with quite well. In particular I liked the characterization of the 1st Doctor, the 2nd Doctor’s companions, the 6th Doctor and the 12th. In fact the 12th had some great lines that I could just hear Peter Capaldi saying. There’s a scene where he has a showdown with a giant doll, who announces “I’m Baby Sleepy Face.” The Doctor retorts “Yeah? Well I’m Doctor Angry Face,” just before he slams the TARDIS doors shut. It was very well done. Again, I wasn’t expecting this to be a children’s book, but it was written in such a way that I think all ages could appreciate it.

Fanfiction Master Post

I know I’d mentioned before that I write fanfiction, but I thought I’d include a master list of it in case anyone was interested in reading it.

One-shots:

Something I Said : Zoe unintentionally offends Jamie and tries to make amends. (2nd Doctor, Jamie and Zoe)

Up to Snow Good : The TARDIS lands in a snowy wonderland. A snowball fight ensues and Jamie learns another thing or two about dressing for the weather. (2nd Doctor, Jamie and Zoe)

Home for Christmas : It’s Zoe’s first Christmas on the TARDIS and she’s not all that happy about it. The Doctor and Jamie try to make her feel more β€œat home.” (2nd Doctor, Jamie and Zoe)

Starting Over : Not long after she’s first come aboard the TARDIS, Zoe has become frustrated by Jamie’s treatment of her. After a confrontation that turns a bit more emotional than either of them expected, they manage to find common ground. Takes place between The Wheel in Space and The Dominators. (2nd Doctor, Jamie and Zoe)

Father’s Day : On Father’s Day, the Doctor thinks about the meaning of the holiday, remembering times spent with his former companions and cherishing those with his current ones. Takes place sometime before The War Games. (2nd Doctor, Jamie and Zoe)

Easier With Time : Shortly after her father’s death, Victoria prepares for another bad, sleepless night on the TARDIS. Things end up not as badly as she was expecting. Takes place between The Evil of the Daleks and The Tomb of the Cybermen. (2nd Doctor, Jamie and Victoria)

Multi-Chapter:

You Can’t Go Home Again (Or Can You?) : After losing Clara, the Doctor is crushed and the TARDIS wants to help. He is reunited with some old friends, but as the saying goes, β€œYou can’t go home again.” … Right? Prequel to the Time With A Twist of Tartan series. (12th Doctor, Jamie and Zoe)

Series:

Time With A Twist of Tartan : Jamie had been inadvertently dropped off in late twentieth-century London by the 12th Doctor. This series follows his adventures with some familiar faces as well as some new ones. Directly follows “You Can’t Go Home Again (Or Can You?)” (Jamie, Ben, Polly, Victoria, Zoe, 3rd Doctor, UNIT, 4th Doctor, Sarah Jane, Harry, 5th Doctor, Adric, Tegan, Nyssa, Original Female Characters, Original Male Characters)

  1. Waylaid In London : With the 12th Doctor’s help, Jamie inadvertently ended up in 1970s London instead of reuniting with his family in 1700s Paris. While there, he stumbles upon some familiar faces as well as meets some new ones … And manages to find trouble while he’s at it.
  2. Of Castles and Hairy Beasties : Much to UNIT’s relief, things have been relatively quiet lately. That is, until the Doctor reads about strange goings-on at a castle in Scotland. While touring this castle, Jamie comes face-to-face with an old foe and things get very personal as someone close to him becomes threatened.
  3. Just Like Old Times : A disaster perpetrated by a renegade Time Lord finds the Doctor being forced to work with his past selves to resolve it. This Time Lord has not only placed his very existence in jeopardy, but also Time itself. The Doctors may be a bit in over their heads with this one, but the help of a certain companion surely can’t hurt. Takes place during (and is a slight reworking of) The Three Doctors.
  4. The Lair of Grom : Not only has Jamie had to adjust to the Doctor’s new face, but his honeymoon has been interrupted and he’s left with a discontented bride … who, along with Sarah Jane, has now gone missing. Set not long after The Ark in Space story arc.
  5. Reunion : In the years since the Grom situation, Jamie has settled down with a family of his own and has been working with UNIT on a barely occasional basis. However, he soon finds himself thrown back into the world of the Doctor, thanks to a surprise visit from an old friend who brings a dire warning. Takes place soon after Castrovalva.

Review: The Macra Terror (DVD)

I recently got my copy of The Macra Terror on DVD and sat down to watch it. I decided to write up a little review. Note that I just have the plain old DVD set, not the Blu-Ray one. I don’t think there’s too much of a difference in extras, though.

I’m not going to do a review of the actual story as lots of fans before me have already posted their thoughts. The animation itself was very well done. The likenesses of the Doctor and his companions are quite good and their movements (as well as that of the other people) seem very natural. I know fans have complained that their movements looked quite stiff and unnatural in previous animations, especially in The Power of the Daleks and The Ice Warriors. I’ve noticed that myself and I think they’ve improved it quite a bit in this one.

The intro starts off at the end of The Moonbase, and this is in black and white on both the black-and-white and color versions of the animation (more on that later). Interestingly, they’ve got Polly with her cropped haircut here instead of where it shows up the first time after her “shampoo” early in Episode 1. I assume they did it for simplicity’s sake though, and to save a bit of time. Such was the case for the omission of the scene where the Doctor gets his “makeover” and then gets his old look back, as well as Ben and Jamie getting their “treatments.” Fortunately, we can still see this scene in the original episode reconstructions that are provided as an Extra on the set. I also noticed that Jamie is wearing his light-colored turtleneck shirt which he started with in the beginning of the episode instead of changing into that odd uniform like Ben. Again I assume it was done to save time and for simplicity, and perhaps for emphasis on Ben being brainwashed by the Macra.

As an aside, one thing I hate about the story being missing is that we didn’t get to see Jamie doing his “Highland Fling.” They did recreate this for the animation, though, and part of me wonders how close it is to the original. πŸ˜‰

As for the extras, there is a good selection of them on this set. First, I like the fact that you can choose to watch in color or the original black and white. The audio commentary is quite good, too, featuring Frazer Hines (Jamie), Terrence Lodge (Medok), Maureen Lane (one of the majorettes in the dance scenes), Anthony Gardner (Alvis) and the director John Davies. Frazer reveals that his and Michael Craze’s uniforms were actually orange and not blueish (as they were here), with tight Bermuda shorts. He also did a quite funny impersonation of Patrick Troughton during a scene or two featuring the Doctor and Polly. Terrence Lodge shared some interesting info on the motivation for his portrayal of Medok, namely that he’d done some pretty high-brow theater earlier on and so made Medok overly dramatic at times.

There are two photo galleries: One with set photos and photos of the guest cast taken during production of the serial; and the other an animation gallery showing character sketches and pictures of various scenes from start to finish. There’s a little film called Animatics, basically showing how the animation came together. The “behind the scenes” film is a little “Follow that Dalek” type silent production made circa 1967 that’s basically a tour of various props from different Doctor Who stories, including the Macra, with some more recent narration. The surviving footage which had been previously included on the “Lost in Time” DVD set is included here as well, featuring cuts that had been made for Australian TV broadcasts from Episodes 2 and 3 (of note, Ben and Polly grappling with the Macra, and Jamie encountering the Macra down in the mines).

Finally, there’s the “mini episode” from The Wheel in Space. It’s basically about 11 minute’s worth of Episode 1 of this story, featuring the Doctor and Jamie. I thought this was very well done, although the animation (especially the look of the characters) is a bit rough and rudimentary compared with that of The Macra Terror. I’m assuming they fine-tuned it a bit for the latter. If something similar were to come of this if they ever decide to animate the missing episodes of The Wheel in Space, I’m all for it.

All in all, it’s a good set. I found it very interesting how they tried to recreate this missing story from just the soundtrack, production photos, short deleted scenes and the telesnaps. I think they did a very good job. Now we’ve got The Faceless Ones and Fury from the Deep to look forward to. Hopefully the treatment they receive will be just as good as this one.

LI Who: An Unearthly Convention

Once again I am sorry for neglecting this poor blog for … four months now? Eek, I didn’t realize it had been that long. I promise I will try to post more frequently now. I’ve got a few things in mind, one in particular being a review of The Macra Terror DVD (which was finally released here in the States about a week and a half ago).

I also wanted to take the opportunity to share my thoughts on the great convention experience I had yesterday. LI Who has been holding Doctor Who conventions since 2013 on Long Island, New York. I live here and I only discovered it recently (but as they say, better late than never, right?). This year it was held at a Ramada Plaza in Holtsville, NY, just over half an hour from where I live. Because of this I decided not to stay overnight at the hotel.

Turns out I’d made a good decision. The hotel was undergoing a lot of renovations, pretty much taking out most of the lobby. There were some tables set up for people to sit and talk or get something to eat. There was also room for the registration/check in tables, and a separate area for autographs, panels, and a room down the hallway for photo ops. It was pretty cramped, but we all tried to make the best of what was available to us.

There was a great selection of programming on offer: panel discussions among fans, panels featuring the guests, a Saturday night dance party, and of course the aforementioned autographs and photo ops. Sadly I was only able to attend yesterday (Sunday) due to the proximity of Thanksgiving, and the fact my two dogs probably wouldn’t forgive me if I’d stayed away so long. But for the time I was there, I really enjoyed it.

People went all out for cosplay. I saw someone in a big dinosaur costume. A girl was dressed like Susan in An Unearthly Child and bore an uncanny resemblance to Carole Ann Ford – I mean, she looked exactly the same way she did in that story. There was also a girl dressed as Zoe in her quick appearance in The Five Doctors, bubble wrap and all. There were also quite a few dressed as the 4th Doctor and the newest Doctor. People were roaming the halls handing out ribbons for people to stick below their badges. Among them I picked up a “K9 Grey Brother” ribbon from an Ontario, Canada fan group, and a “Dalek Souffle” ribbon (“Eggs…stir…min…ate”). It was really nice to meet so many friendly fans. All the people I chatted with (admittedly, not very many people) were so nice.

The first thing on my agenda for the day was a photo op with Frazer Hines (Jamie). I admit I was a bit nervous as I’d never met him before but I had nothing to worry about. He really was lovely. As he approached the photo op room, we saw him carrying a Jamie balloon animal (there was a guy there creating balloon animals of Doctor Who characters), with kilt and all. He proudly showed it off to us before going inside. Anyway he introduced himself to me and then asked if he could put my arm around me for the photo (my reply: of course!). He was very sweet and thanked me once the photo was taken.

And here we are… I don’t photograph well. He looks great, though

Afterwards I decided to grab some autographs. I’d seen Louise Jameson (Leela) earlier walking through the hall. When I went for her autograph she said to me “Hello!… Again!” When she was signing my picture and asked me for my name (which is Jessica), she asked me if I was named after the Shakespeare character. I told her sadly, no. She was very sweet though. There was a huge line for Katy Manning (Jo)’s autographs mainly due to the fact that all the fans with the deluxe “Master Plan) passes had them included, so while I was waiting for the line to thin out, I got Frazer’s. I’d meant to ask him if he’d brought any of the Second Doctor and Jamie figures with him (several months ago he posted an unboxing video on Facebook, mentioning the website they’re from and said he might bring some signed ones with him to upcoming conventions), but I didn’t see anything apart from photos so I didn’t ask. Again he was very gracious and sweet.

Katy… wow. She is so energetic and such a sweetheart. She loves to give out hugs. When I went for her autograph, she jumped up and gave me a big hug. I told her it was my first convention and she said “Really!” and she told me how wonderful it is, that it’s where people can be themselves. She gave me another hug and said she hopes to see me at more of them in the future (and that they’ll invite her back!).

John Leeson (voice of K9) was very sweet too. He asked where I was from and told me he heard that people had come from as far away as San Francisco to attend this convention. I loved his autograph… I’ll include it at the end with some pics of the others. I also got a photo op with him and K9:

I had intended to go to three panels but was only able to get into two. The rooms where they were held were pretty small so you had to line up quickly in order to get in. The first panel I attended was Katy’s: “The Woman of Many Voices.” Again, she is so energetic and funny. Not much was touched upon regarding her voice work, except for the Time Lady she’s been voicing in the Big Finish Audios. She did mention that she made her voice go higher as Jo when she was on Doctor Who and at times it would get lower, prompting Jon Pertwee to tell her she sounded like a lorry driver. She was asked what her least favorite outfit on the show was. One of them was the white outfit she wore in The Sea Devils. She’d mentioned something about it shrinking when it got wet and how uncomfortable that was. She was very sweet, mentioning that she just likes to hug random strangers, even when she’s on the Tube in London she’ll turn and say to someone “Excuse me darling, can you tell me where such-and-such is” and after they help her she’ll say “Oh thank you” and give them a hug. She said she just loves people. She’s not fond of huge parties and crowds but individually loves people. Sadly I had to walk out in the middle of her panel for my photo op with John Leeson, but I enjoyed what I saw of her panel. Here’s a photo from the panel:

After her panel and the John Leeson/K9 photo op, I sat for Frazer’s panel, “The Animated Man.” The main topic was the lost episodes that have been animated (and are slated to be), but he also told some funny behind-the-scenes stories of filming other episodes. Frazer was a riot. He mentioned The Macra Terror and how he and Michael Craze had to wear these awful orange uniforms with tight Bermuda shorts. The animator told him they thought they were gray or blue, but he told them he definitely remembered them being orange. He also mentioned how large and cumbersome the Macra prop was, that you had to throw yourself against it to make it look like it was attacking you. The Faceless Ones, as the next one to be animated, was also mentioned and he mainly talked about how Ben and Polly just left in the middle of the story and only showed up again at the end.

The moment in The Tomb of the Cybermen where Jamie and the Doctor meant to grab Victoria’s hands and instead ended up grabbing each other’s hands was of course mentioned, as well as the tradition of Jamie and the Doctor’s “look at the size of that one, Doctor”-“Yes Jamie, it is a very big one, isn’t it” exchange (and I should mention he does a hilarious impression of Patrick’s Doctor). A photo of the Dalek Emperor from The Evil of the Daleks was shown and Frazer turned to it, mentioning it has a brassiere on, LOL. He even mentioned that Wendy cut them off in The Seeds of Death when Jamie points to the rocket saying his line, and the Doctor starts in with his but then Wendy cuts them off to say something else.

Fury from the Deep was brought up as a story that’s been recently slated for animation. Frazer mentioned that they don’t like them to go on social media and announce these things, but he said he recently went out to the location where they filmed the beach scene (I believe) for this animated version. It almost sounded like this might be an extra when it’s finally released on DVD. He also told a funny story about the helicopter scene in the episode. Apparently Debbie Watling (Victoria) told him she was afraid of heights and asked if she could get into the helicopter first and then have him and Patrick sit on either side of her. Frazer replied “Of course” but then as she turned around she saw him sprinting for the helicopter and started shouting “You swine, you swine!!!” LOL. On a more subdued note, he was asked about the ending scene where Victoria admits to Jamie she wants to stay. He said it wasn’t so much acting because they really did feel badly about Debbie leaving. I really enjoyed his panel. Here’s a photo:

I should say that the camera doesn’t do him justice. In person he has this real youthful spark to go with his sense of humor.

I really wanted to attend the 4th Doctor panel with Louise and John but after a very short trip to the restroom I learned the room was already full. Hopefully someone else has posted some highlights of that panel online somewhere.

All in all, it was a great (albeit short) experience and I’m so glad I was able to attend. If they hold it again next year I’d love to go.

Here are my autographs:

John Leeson wrote “Tail wags to my friend Jessica from K9!”

And here is a rogue K9 roaming the halls!

My first Doctor Who Convention

Once again, I apologize for being so quiet here. Admittedly, I haven’t had all that much to say lately. That’s finally changed.

I just got tickets to my first Doctor Who convention. I’ve been a fan of this show since circa 1981 and I finally got my opportunity. The end of November I’ll be attending Long Island Who, aka An Unearthly Convention in Holtsville, New York (on Long Island, east of New York City). As of this writing, Louise Jameson (Leela), Katy Manning (Jo), Frazer Hines (Jamie), and Paul McGann (the 8th Doctor) will be attending. I believe I also read that John Leeson who voiced K9 will be a guest as well.

Not sure if I will get any photo ops. I definitely want to get autographs, but will have to decide on the photo ops a bit later. I’m so excited. I only hope I won’t make a fool out of myself, lol.

If anyone is interested in attending or just in any details about the convention, look here.