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.
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.
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.