LI Who – Meglos Convention Report

Sorry I’ve neglected this blog for so long. I’d meant to update it a lot earlier, but real life just got in the way more often than I’d intended. But I’ve finally got a little time and have a really good reason to update. A friend and I attended the LI Who convention the weekend before last, November 19-20th.

My good friend Anna (@concetta at Tumblr and Concetta20 at AO3 – check out her awesome fanfic!) and I arrived at the con on Saturday just at the starting time. We saw Mr. PoppinTwist, the talented guy who makes balloon likenesses of DW characters, making one of the 5th Doctor. We chatted a bit with him and watched him work. When the balloon was all done, we had a picture taken with it.

We also saw Wendy Padbury arrive, and Frazer (who seemed to have already been there for some time) spotted her and gave her a hug (cue “awww). 😀 They were adorable together throughout the whole con.

The dealer’s room had a lot of great stuff. They were selling Doctor Who books and DVDs, some for charity. Kevin McNally was there selling and signing copies of his book, as well as autographs. There were also some really good sweets being offered, like cupcakes, blondies and a few other goodies. The vortex cupcake and pumpkin coffee cake were so good! Check out , she really makes some great stuff.

We then got Wendy and Frazer’s autographs. I had Wendy sign the Jamie and Zoe pic from Mind Robber that Frazer had signed for me back at LI Who in 2019. I then asked Frazer to sign my copy of his book “Fifty Shades of Frazer.” He seemed tickled that I had the book and was skimming through it, stopping at various pages and commenting on some of the photos. There was a copy of a comic strip of his life that appeared in a magazine back in 1969 and there was a part talking about his girlfriend at the time. He said, “Oh she was my girlfriend, I’m going to meet up with her again and I’ll mention this.” “Oh, look, there’s Eric Clapton!” and then there was a pic of him on a horse during filming of Emmerdale where he’s nearly falling off and had his feet out of the stirrups, he told me how precarious that was. There was another pic of him in some charity car race with all this mud underneath him and he mentioned how muddy it was that day, that he’d dealt with a lot of mud while filming Emmerdale and now on his day off he was dealing with even more of it. He told me he’d nearly forgotten about this book and he’ll have to pick it up again one day. He signed one of the “Autographs” pages for me.

Anna and I had a photo op with the two of them. They were both so sweet and accommodating. I look a bit awkward and like I’m about to tip over, but we all kind of squished in together which I guess I wasn’t expecting at the time (though I wasn’t complaining at all ;)).

Before talking about the panels, I should mention that this con was very well-attended. It was hard at times to get a seat at some of the really popular panels. It would have been nice to attend the “5th Doctor Team at 40″ panel with Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding, but it had started during our photo op and by the time we got there it was totally packed to the gills so we waited outside, hoping to get some glimpses. Wendy and Frazer’s panel “The Astrophysicist and the Highlander” was after that one. The 5th Doctor team panel went a bit long and while we were waiting outside, Frazer and Wendy arrived. Wendy asked one of the con staff if it was going long. As they were opening the doors, Frazer did this little dance like he was going to just strut right inside. Someone cosplaying as a Time Lord with the costume they wore in “The Deadly Assassin” exited the room and Frazer joked something to the effect of, “did the people behind you get to see anything?”

We really enjoyed their panel. They talked a bit about doing the Big Finish audio adventures and how they’d come in together but would just go into separate booths during Covid. Frazer joked about Wendy coming in with a cigarette, stamping it out and then going into the booth and [imitates her higher-pitched voice as Zoe], “Oh, Doctor, what are you–” Wendy laughed, saying she didn’t think she did it like that.

They were joined by BH Barry, the stunt coordinator from “The Mind Robber”, who also shared about some of the work he had done.

They were asked about what they think about their time on the show compared to the show now. They both said they had chemistry and that they had time to bond, since they spent Monday-Thursday rehearsing whereas now you learn your lines and then walk straight onto the set. Wendy had also said that she’s probably alone but she doesn’t understand some of the stories now (I’ll probably get flak for this, but … *raises hand*… she’s definitely not alone). She said she finds them so complex. She said that she knows their particular stories are old, but she thinks they really stand up. Frazer also said that back then they had these proper sets and now it’s mainly green screen. 

Someone had mentioned how they just kept working and working and didn’t have much time off. Frazer had said they would get a 6 week summer break and then 4 weeks off for Christmas. Wendy said that it took its toll on Patrick Troughton, having to work like that. Frazer said that they knocked a couple minutes off the running time for the first episode of The Mind Robber because they’d just come off a heavy shoot (The Dominators) and now it was just going to be the three of them in that episode. 

Anna had asked them about what it was like when Wendy first arrived on set, was there instant chemistry and asked how they worked together because her character was so different from Jamie, and did they have fun creating that bit of friction type of dynamic. They both really liked her question. Wendy said it was pretty immediate and that she quite liked him, then got a bit coy and said “he was alright.” Frazer said he fancied her but she had this tall, strong boyfriend. Wendy looked at him and said “Did I?” Frazer: “Rex.” Wendy said to him, “You remember more than me,” and started to laugh. 

She went on to say that it was pretty immediate but a bit daunting because before that it was Debbie (Watling) and Frazer and Pat, which was a great threesome, too. She said that although it was daunting, they made her feel very welcome. She then joked, “Well, Pat did.” Frazer said it was important to get to know your costars and be friendly with them because people could tell you “Oh, he’s a big star, don’t look him in the eye” and then you get all nervous. Wendy said that Pat told her that each week there was a new cast and new directors and you make those people feel as welcome as you possibly can. They brought up again about the differences between filming the show then and now, and about how you go and do your lines and everything is out of sequence and you can’t build relationships that way. They liked her comments on why their characters felt more alive than others. 

They showed a clip from the scene in The Mind Robber where the Karkus appears and Zoe fights him, complete with her flipping him. They were both grinning and laughing and enjoying watching it. When it got to the part where Zoe was fighting him, Wendy leaned back and put her hand over her eyes.

Here are a few pics from their panel.

We saw about half of Kevin McNally’s panel. He talked about not just his stint on Doctor Who, but also his other roles such as in Pirates of the Caribbean, Supernatural and Turn. He was pretty cool.

That night we attended Frazer Con. I won’t say very much except that it was a lot of fun. Maybe a bit more fun than I originally expected, heh. 😀 Wendy made a guest appearance, as did Bhavnisha Parmar (Yaz’s sister in the new series).

On Sunday when we walked past their autograph tables, I had the cute dolls @puffins-studio at Tumblr had made for me and they got a kick out of them. Frazer took the Jamie doll and said “oh that’s brilliant!” He then took his sharpie and pretended to draw a smiley face on the doll, hahah. 

(“They actually liked us, Jamie!” “Och, of course they did, Zoe.”)

First we stayed for Frazer’s panel. It was supposed to be about the Abominable Snowmen, which was newly animated, but that wasn’t going to be enough for an entire panel, so it basically became a look back on all the serials Frazer had done on the show. When he talked about The Moonbase, he said that all Jamie did was say, “the phantom piper!” and then he threw his head back and pretended he was sleeping, making snoring noises. 

He also talked about the prop macra in The Macra Terror and how big it was and it was the price of a Mini but it was useless, and if you said “oh it’s got me by the leg” you’d have to stick your leg in between it because it couldn’t move. When they moved onto The Abominable Snowmen he talked about how they’d filmed it in Snowdonia. He said that he and Debbie were getting chased and then overtaken by a Yeti down the hill. They showed a behind-the-scenes photo from the filming of it that showed the TARDIS and a crew member. Frazer said that when they were filming the documentary for it (I guess for the animated episode DVD), and one point he went around the corner and there was the TARDIS in the same spot it had been in that photo and how great that was. They also showed the behind the scenes photo of Frazer sitting on top of one of the Yeti costumes. He mentioned his kilt and said he wished he’d kept it, that he didn’t know he’d be doing conventions so many years later and if he had known he would have kept it.

He mentioned The Web of Fear and how he and the Doctor had found something that Victoria had dropped. He said “Oh this is Victoria’s” and it was a pair of knickers, and Pat said “Oh yes they are” and Jack Watling said indignantly, “How do you two know??”

Wendy appeared about halfway through his panel and stayed for the rest of it until the start of her solo panel. Frazer had tried to tell a joke regarding the chameleons (a picture of one of them from The Faceless Ones was shown) and was grinning at Wendy. She deadpanned, “You know, I never should have come in.” 

They talked about filming The Invasion and how they were filming at the Guinness factory. Wendy said she had some photos from it and there was one where Pat was running away from a cyberman who had only half his costume on. Frazer said that they had a liquid lunch there and they filmed a scene where he and Patrick had to look around a corner, and they kept falling over. He said the director said to them, “I know where you were for lunch, boys, but can we just do one take?” He said that’s why the two of them were hanging onto each other for dear life in one of the photos that’s in public domain.

Someone brought up the scene in The Macra Terror where they were all getting freshened up and Jamie had his scene where the ladies were admiring him. Frazer said that Jamie was a great one for the girls. He then said “in particular he fell in love with Victoria”, and he kept going on when Wendy suddenly broke in with “…And Zoe.” He said something else, I couldn’t make it out, maybe he repeated about Jamie loving Victoria, and Wendy said again, “And Zoe.” 

Wendy talked about how she got into acting. She wanted to get into ballet but she had rather flat feet and hadn’t grown past 5 foot, and apparently you had to be at least 5’3 to be some kind of ballerina. 

One of the guys running the panel had pictures up on the screen that he rotated through, and one of them was a group pic including a very young Wendy wearing a sash down across her shoulder with her name, among a group of other young women with similar sashes. She was so surprised to see it and said, “Where did you get that photo?? I look about 4!” 

She said that when she auditioned for Doctor Who, Frazer’s girlfriend was also auditioning and he wanted her to get the part. She talked about how daunting the process was, how you had to look at the camera and say these particular lines. Wendy said she was there for Deborah’s last day of recording. She said it could have been intimidating coming in and doing the show, but Pat and Frazer made it not intimidating.

They enjoyed talking about the fun they’d have on set, especially during the Producer’s runs with going through the scripts. At one point the behind the scenes picture taken during filming The Dominators was shown (the color one where they appear to be in a lounge of some sort). Wendy said they were in some little area of the Green Room. 

They then showed a picture from The Invasion where Wendy was wearing the cat suit. She said that it was the most practical and comfortable costume. And the one that was the most impractical was her costume in The Krotons that was made of PVC paper. She said the skirt had torn everytime she moved, like climbed up a rock or something. She also mentioned the outfit she wore in Seeds of Death, the leather one and that she had to pay for it and she only wore it once after that, about a year or so after she and Frazer left the show and she’d worn it to some event they attended, she thought it was at Selfridge’s. 

I’m guessing this is the event she was referring to (image credit: Tragical History Tour):

When The War Games was mentioned, they both said they didn’t want to leave (Frazer said his agent had talked him into leaving and doing films and Patrick’s wife or girlfriend at the time had talked him into leaving too… he said something about how if they hadn’t had the advice of those women they might have stayed, ha ha.. Wendy had told them that if they were leaving then she was going to leave too), and Wendy said that when they wrapped it up there was a party in some room upstairs and that they each had to pay 50 pounds towards it.

After the animation of The Abominable Snowmen was mentioned again, the interviewer said that BBC America had pulled funding for it. At one point Frazer mentioned there was a rumor that Disney was going to be funding them. If that’s true, I’ve got mixed feelings: happy because I don’t want to see the end of any lost stories being animated. But a bit ambivalent because I’d heard somewhere that Disney has made it a point not to offer any physical media of any of the stuff they produce and/or stream. So that could potentially mean no animated lost stories coming to DVD (let alone any of the new Doctor Who series that will air only on Disney+). I really hope that won’t happen. If anyone has heard anything about this, please do let me know.

At one point they were asked about the aliens that were the creepiest, and Frazer had mentioned the Cybermen and how emotionless their faces were and you just had the slits for the eyes and the mouth. They both said they liked the Ice Warriors with the hissing voice and about how tall they were (maybe the Cybermen too?). Frazer had said something about how tall these aliens were and how short they all were, and he’d said that he was 5’8, “though I’ve shrunk a bit…”

Frazer left about halfway through her solo panel and after he’d left she said, “Oh he’s gone, we can talk about him now!” During her solo panel she talked a lot about how she got into being an agent and what an involved job it was. She talked again about leaving the show and said that she didn’t want to stay on without Pat and Frazer, and whoever came in after that she didn’t think they could recreate what she had with them. She said it ended up being the best job she ever had.

Some pictures from their panels:

Peter Davison was sweet. I got his autograph and he shook my hand, asking how I was doing. His panel was great as well. He was talking about the Doctor’s different personalities and how Patrick Troughton’s Doctor had that bit of vulnerability, and how the Doctor didn’t always know what he was doing or wasn’t always completely sure of himself, and so the companions would kind of rein him in (he mentioned this as he compared Patrick’s Doctor to Jon Pertwee’s, that Pertwee’s always seemed so assured of himself and he thought that was fine but that wasn’t how he wanted to play the Doctor). He said that when he played the Doctor he wasn’t given the whole script, just his part of it so he didn’t have much of an idea of what was going on. 

The interviewer asked what it was like doing The Five Doctors since he was the Doctor at the time. He said that JNT thought there would be too many of them on screen if they had a lot of scenes together. Peter himself didn’t have any problem with it but JNT went out of his way to avoid that and the Doctors each had their separate strands. He was talking about the other actors’ involvement and about how Tom Baker wouldn’t come back — he didn’t really understand why, but thought that Tom figured it was too close to his time and he wanted to keep away from it. They showed the behind the scenes pic of all the Doctors together and Peter confirmed that wasn’t Tom in the pic, it was a wax figure from Madame Tussaud’s, and he said “You can’t really tell, right?”  He also said Patrick Troughton gave him some good advice —only do 3 years. 

He also told a funny story about a horseshoe-shaped car park at the BBC, and that it was only for the stars to park in, and how he was able to park there when he was playing the Doctor, but one day Patrick Troughton was there and was told he wasn’t allowed to park there since he was no longer the Doctor.

He talked quite a bit about his time on All Creatures Great and Small, and said that they’d brought animals to them that were ill and had to be cured, and they’d done so for each of them and the BBC paid for all of it (ha!!). Anna asked him about what it was like to act alongside Robert Hardy in All Creatures Great and Small and he said that it was great, and that Robert Hardy would get frustrated with himself because he was a perfectionist, and that’s why no one take was the same.

He’d also mentioned how he’d write songs and one in particular he’d sung, and Dave Clark from the Dave Clark Five had recorded it. He didn’t sing it for us there, but one of the guys who ran the panel had found an old clip of him singing it and playing it on the guitar (“Officer McKirk”).

Here is a picture of my autographed photo, plus a small gallery of pics from his panel:

Sorry about the quality on some of my pictures. Like I said, the panels were quite packed and sometimes it was hard to find a seat. But I did the best I could from where we were sitting. I actually took a lot of videos. I don’t think I can link to them all here, but if anyone is interested, leave me a comment or message and I’ll hook you up with a link.

All in all, we had a really good time. Everyone we met and saw was super nice. Thanks so much to all the folks at LI Who for making this such a memorable and fun event!

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 😉 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. 🙂 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 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

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

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. 😉

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!

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.

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.