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.


Doctor Who Audio Recording – Volunteers Needed!

A friend of mine has written a superb novel called “Forgotten Suns”, starring the 2nd Doctor, Jamie and Zoe. He is planning to record an audio version and is looking for a person (or persons) to voice Jamie and Zoe.

If you think you may be interested, please see this page for more information. Even if you have no interest, please give a heads up to anyone who might be.

Thanks in advance!

Doctor Who: Scratchman review

I finally got a chance to sit down and write a review of this book. It had taken me a bit longer than I’d expected to finish it (not the fault of the book at all; I’d had lots of things going on in between – mainly dealing with illness and being away on vacation), but I did want to share my thoughts on it.

I enjoyed it very much. I guess most people know that it originated from a screenplay written by Tom Baker and Ian Marter (Harry Sullivan) for a possible Doctor Who film back when they were both on Doctor Who. I did get that impression from it while reading and the portrayals of the three main characters (the Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry) were perfect, exactly as I’d expected them to be. Within the story are references to serials from Tom Baker’s first series as the Doctor, as well as a few from the second series, and it would seem to me that this takes place sometime after The Android Invasion, since events from that story are alluded to.

Just as a brief synopsis: The TARDIS lands on a remote island (somewhere off of Scotland, it would seem). The Doctor, Sarah, and Harry are ready for a picnic and some fun when they notice things seem a bit off. The area is quite desolate and it turns out people have been turned into scarecrows with the help of some nasty fertilizer (which coincidentally seems to be made up of ground up human bones). They encounter some rather shaken humans and try to protect/defend them as much as possible, but they sadly end up being turned into scarecrows and other similar beings who attack the remaining humans (including Sarah and Harry). The Doctor discovers a tear in the fabric of this universe and a portal leading to another dimension ruled by Scratchman. He must travel there to find his friends and save their own dimension. Interspersed throughout are scenes of the Doctor coming before the High Council of the Time Lords as a result of what’s happened in this story and discussing fear with them. He discusses his own fear(s) and ultimately gets them to admit their greatest fear: dying. It’s very well done.

Scratchman is basically the Devil (coming from the nickname “Ol’ Scratch”). The land he rules is literally like Hell. In fact, the cabbie who gives him a lift is named Charon (and is an amusing character who makes a few cracks about the Doctor’s previous incarnations). Scratchman has a rather crude castle floating in the sky. He’s dressed in a business suit and has a fiery globe for a head. He’s also got a large group of yes-men who look exactly like him. Scratchman is quite charming and has some interesting interaction with the Doctor. His portrayal kind of reminded me of Roger Delgado’s Master.

What I also found pretty neat was the inclusion of the Thirteenth Doctor. She meets the Fourth and in a way gives him some encouragement. I thought it was a nice touch. His three former incarnations also appear, in scarecrow form actually. They seemed to be there mostly for comic relief, but they were a bit instrumental to the plot as well, especially as far as Scratchman’s fate is concerned. Another interesting bit featured Sarah in the TARDIS attempting to evade the scarecrows that have gotten inside. There’s a room in the TARDIS called “The Jigsaw Room” which has a floor laid out as jigsaw pieces she must run across. Parts of the floor show different stages of her life and there are references to later events in her life, including some from The Sarah Jane Adventures. I thought this was nicely done as well.

Things do resolve themselves in the end. Sadly, the villagers who were turned/killed were unable to be saved, but the Doctor, Sarah and Harry are back together, and the Doctor has another small, poignant encounter with his 13th incarnation. The Doctor pens a small “Afterword”, with Sarah adding her own little bit at the end. Both bits were very amusing and totally in character. Tom Baker did a wonderful job (and he does give a nice, short acknowledgement to Ian Marter in the end as well). The book really held my interest. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The Wheel of Ice – A Doctor Who Novel

This was yet another book I’d received for Christmas, but due to the backlog of books I had yet to read, I didn’t get to finish it until recently.

I’d decided to read this one because not only are the Second Doctor and his companions among my favorites (as I’ve mentioned countless times before, lol), but from the little blurbs and various reviews I’d seen, it sounded interesting.

In a nutshell, the TARDIS ends up taking the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe to the rings of Saturn. There are big chunks of debris flying at them and they’re saved by a teenage girl named Phee Laws, who happens to be the daughter of Jo (who is the mayor of a settlement on the Wheel). A moon called Mnemosyne is being mined for a mineral called bernalium, directed by a female tyrant head of a corporation known as Bootstrap. People get attacked by these creepy “blue doll” monsters and repeated trips to this moon are made in order to put a stop to it all. The Doctor of course is at the heart of this, trying to understand and influence the “blue dolls”, as well as Arkive, the failing ancient artificial intelligence that is controlling them.

It doesn’t specify when exactly in the Who universe this story takes place, but given the references to the Cybermen invasion of London having occurred in the past, plus the references to T-Mat, it’s definitely post-The Seeds Of Death (actually, in the beginning of the book it’s mentioned that Jamie is wearing the same black lace-up Jacobite shirt he wore in that serial, plus the physical description of the Doctor – ragged sideburns, for one – seems to be a callback to the way he looked then as well). Other reviewers have suggested it takes place directly before The War Games. Whatever the case, it’s definitely in the late Series 6 time frame.

There are some other interesting characters, especially Sam, the 19-year-old son of Jo Laws. He ends up developing a bit of a rapport with Jamie. There’s a scene where the Doctor and companions are taking up residence at Jo’s house, with Zoe sharing a room with Phee and Jamie with Sam. At first, Sam scoffs at Jamie, calling him “Granddad” (which insults Jamie, who insists he’s not much older than him), but he soon offers Jamie to come along with him and his friends, riding scooters in space and “skiing” on another moon, Titan.

Jo also has a daughter named Casey, who is about 2 or 3 years old. It’s basically through her that the blue dolls are discovered. There is a nice scene towards the end of the book where she and Zoe are taking cover in an old ship. Little Casey is frightened the way the ship is being jostled about due to flying debris from an explosion and Zoe, who’s obviously not had much experience with children, does her best to comfort the toddler.

Another interesting character is MMAC, a large mechanic of a robot programmed to believe he is a Scotsman from Glasgow (in fact, upon first meeting them, he and Jamie have an interesting exchange … Jamie takes issue with the fact he’s a “Jessie” from Glasgow who most likely would have fought with the English during the Jacobite Uprising, LOL). Even though his memories are artificial – and it’s a bit sad when he discovers this – he’s very kind and helpful, coming through to save our protagonists in quite a few ways.

The characters that really didn’t do anything for me were Jo Laws’ ex-husband, whose interaction with Sam in particular seemed a bit forced (although I will give him credit for helping them save the day in the end); and Florian Hart, the head of the corporation in charge of mining the moon for bernalium. She starts as a relatively tame antagonist but as the story wears on – and especially near the end – she turns into a power-hungry tyrant. In doing so, she actually becomes a bit cartoonish and one-dimensional, and I was rooting for her defeat so we wouldn’t have to hear anymore about her.

Things do get resolved in the end and I won’t go into detail on that. I’ll just mention there’s a celebratory parade on the Wheel in which Jamie takes part, proudly playing the bagpipes. As you’d expect, the Doctor has them all quietly slip away while speeches and the like are being given, and they’re off in the TARDIS for their next adventure.

The characterizations of Team TARDIS were very well done, in my opinion. The Doctor’s portrayal seemed to start off a bit shaky, but got much better after the first chapter or two, and later on when he’s confronting the blue dolls/blue army men and Arkive, I could just hear Troughton as the Second Doctor delivering the words on the pages. Zoe and Jamie were very well done, too, although I’ve mentioned before that it’s an occasional pet peeve of mine when authors make him sound more Scots Highlander than he sounded in the TV show. Baxter does this here and there, with the occasional “yon” or “ken” but it wasn’t very distracting and apart from that, he got Jamie’s characterization very well.

That’s about all I wanted to say about this one. If you haven’t read it before, I would recommend it. The storyline was interesting and I liked the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe’s involvement in it.

A Bit of a Pet Peeve

I’ll write up my thoughts on “The Wheel of Ice” soon, but there’s one thing I noticed in the book that I wanted to address in general.

I’ve noticed that in some of the Doctor Who novels and fanfiction during the Second Doctor’s time, writers tend to make Jamie sound a bit more Scots than he did in the show. They’ll have him saying words like “yon” or “ken” (as in “Doctor, there’s a noise coming from yon shrubbery!” and “Look, Doctor, she’s not joking, ye ken.”).

It doesn’t bother me a lot, but we’ve never actually heard him use these words in the show, even in his very first stories “The Highlanders” and “The Underwater Menace” (if I’m wrong, please let me know … I do remember him saying “dinna fash” and “whist” several times, but no “yon” or “ken”). When I write any fanfics involving Jamie, I like to make him sound as closely to the way he talked in the show as possible. I know not everyone does that, and there are writers who don’t employ any of the “Scots-speak” at all.

Maybe it’s just me but I’ve found it a bit of a pet peeve. It is quaint but to me not overly realistic of the way he talked in the show.

Second Doctor Serial “The Faceless Ones” to be animated!

First, apologies for having gone so long without updating this blog. Work has had me insanely busy, plus the fact that the Tumblr folks haven’t been giving me grief and marking my posts as adult content has given me less motivation for importing more of my posts here. Finally, I was waiting until I finished “The Wheel of Ice”, the book I’m currently reading before writing a review … I’m almost at that point, so it should be forthcoming.

Now to get to the main point of this post: There is news of another Doctor Who serial to be animated! The Second Doctor story “The Faceless Ones,” of which only two episodes out of six exist, is going to be animated and released on DVD next year. Go here for more news and a video teaser.

From what I’ve seen it seems that it’s going to be similar to “The Macra Terror” which was just recently released. I still don’t have my copy as it’s not going to be released in Region 1 until October (*sigh*), but I have seen it and would like to write a little “review” of what I’ve seen. I’ll try to do that as soon as possible.

“The Roundheads” – A Doctor Who novel

I received this classic Doctor Who novel by Mark Gatiss as a gift last Christmas and only got around to finishing it now (I have a real backlog of books … what can I say?).

I haven’t read many Doctor Who novels as it is, and the last ones I had read were both Nu Who stories starring the 9th and 10th Doctors. The Second Doctor and his companions are among my favorites in Classic Who, so I decided to give this a read. This isn’t so much of a long, extensive, detailed review as it is mainly my general thoughts on it.

Basically, the Doctor, Polly, Ben and Jamie end up in London in December, 1648 during the war between Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads and the Cavaliers who supported the King Stuart. This story is set in between The Macra Terror and The Faceless Ones. I have to say I was impressed. Gatiss does very well with the characterizations of the 2nd Doctor and his companions. Their interactions with one another and the other characters are much what I’d expect. There is a scene I enjoy very much where the Doctor and Jamie are held prisoner in the Tower of London. A watchman and jailer are interrogating them and the Doctor, thinking quickly, decides to tell them that Jamie is a seer who can tell how their situation is going to end up. He refers to him as “The McCrimmon” of Culloden and begs the “great McCrimmon” to tell them how this war will end up for them. Jamie goes along with it, appearing as if he’s in a trance and moaning, wiggling his fingers, the whole act. Their captors fall for it and the Doctor exclaims “The McCrimmon knows all!” I enjoyed their interaction which is right on par during this point in Jamie’s travels with the Doctor.

Ben and Polly of course end up getting separated from them. Polly befriends a young woman whose father is heavily caught up in this business. She then befriends a young Cavalier named Whyte, is recruited to help him and is crushed when she has to betray him in the end. Ben himself ends up at sea on the ship of a Polish captain headed for Amsterdam. He meets an interesting character named Sal Winter, an assertive female captain with a false nose who’s out for revenge against the Polish captain.

There’s a running thread of the Doctor not wishing to change history as you’d expect, and he tries to stick to that as much as possible, even when it appears they might not get much of a chance to pull it off. Even though he and his team are off in their own separate threads, they all come together in the end to set things right. I enjoyed reading this book. It really held my interest and as I mentioned, the characterizations were very good. I know this book isn’t new by any means (it was published in the early 2000s), but if you haven’t read it yet I’d quite recommend it.