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Old Doctor Who - Part 4

Started by Ambient Sheep, June 04, 2020, 11:02:35 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

Norton Canes

Quote from: Deanjam on May 08, 2022, 08:22:37 PMThere's another one where Hadoke goes to live with Matthew Waterhouse that's really good too. Matthew comes across really well. He's a big fan of Dark Shadows and Graham Greene (the author, not the actor.)

Hadoke also did one of the very best Who DVD features - 'Looking for Peter' on The Sensorites, where he tries to find out more about the story's writer Peter R Newman. Very poignant.

Replies From View

And did he manage to find him in the end?

Norton Canes


Midas

Enjoyed the Waterhouse documentary. Think he's unfairly criticised, he seems like a good egg to me.

Also read all of the '90s Radio Times comic strips. They were shit, wish I hadn't bothered. Not sure why I kept reading.

Gurke and Hare

Quote from: Midas on May 12, 2022, 12:17:34 AMEnjoyed the Waterhouse documentary. Think he's unfairly criticised, he seems like a good egg to me.

He's definitely a good egg now - the criticism is for the way he behaved back then, which he has acknowledged as being a silly boy and is happy to make fun of it himself. I don't think any bad feeling lingers towards him.

pigamus

Quote from: Replies From View on May 11, 2022, 03:10:54 PMAnd did he manage to find him in the end?

He's with that bloke from Curse of the Black Spot

They run a conveyancing business

Deanjam

This nice picture showed up on my Twitter feed of Tom & Liz with Harold Wilson and a bunch of TV personalities of the mid 70s.


Norton Canes

Val n' Ernie is defintely one for up the arse corner

pigamus

Well he's being done by Harold Wilson, so it's a triple-decker

purlieu


The Scarlet Empress by Paul Magrs.
"It happened to me. Seven of me were taken to the Death Zone on Gallifrey. Someone had reactivated the Games they used to play there. Each of my selves, present, past and future, was given a relevant companion and playmate, and we were forced to battle our separate, and then collective ways, past Ice Warriors, Ogrons, Sea Devils, Zarbi, Mechanoids and Quarks, to get to the Dark Tower. Good job we only got the rubbishy monsters to battle, eh?"

I... hmm.

While my decision to read all the books in internal-chronological order has been mostly very enjoyable and interesting, it has thrown up the occasional continuity issue. I witnessed the downfall of the Selachians before I'd been introduced to them. I met Chris and Roz a couple of years before reaching their first story. Here, I'm meeting Iris Wildthyme for the first time, despite having enjoyed an entire novel with her ages ago, in the Third Doctor PDA Verdigris. Whilst that lends a certain in-universe authenticity, with Iris and the Doctor meeting each other somewhat randomly throughout their respective timelines, it's also somewhat unsatisfying.

Anyway, Iris is basically a proto-River Song, really. A Time Lady, in love with the Doctor, who's a bit of a flirty loudmouth, manages to take charge of scenarios putting the Doctor on the back foot, and of course meeting him in a less-than-conventionally chronological order, who drives around in a London double decker bus-shaped TARDIS that's smaller on the inside. She's great fun, and I enjoyed her as much here as in Verdigris. Briefly looking at her history on the TARDIS wikia page, I spotted there are a lot of non-Who Iris adventures, so she's clearly very close to Paul Magrs's heart. Unsurprising, then, that she's the star of the show here. A reasonably written Eight doesn't really do much at all, while Sam is not really Sam - a bit of a smart-arse, swearing, stealing and even seemingly eating meat at one point - although she's a lot more enjoyable to read than in most previous books. The rest of the focus is Iris, her baffling history (has she really had many of the same adventures as the Doctor or is she making them up because she fancies him?) At the end she regenerates from a large, older lady into someone who looks like Barbarella-era Jane Fonda. As you do.

It being Paul Magrs, it's weird. Unfortunately, unlike Verdigris, which was a wonderfully barmy story, things here are pushed just that bit too far. Bizarre, daft occurrences are great when placed against a normal backdrop, but this book is set on an increasingly odd planet which seems to have new weird locations purely for the sake of the story. Once every aspect of the book is weird, it just becomes tiresome. All of the characters are improbable - a superhero tea of a blind bearded lady called Major Angela, an Alice in Wonderland-style Mock Turtle, a cyborg who falls in love with a giant spider, and an alligator man. The plot is a fairly simple quest - get the gang back together, and defeat the evil Scarlet Empress. On the way they come across a village populated by people who kill strangers, a hydra is summoned from a book, the characters travel on a lift down to a frozen 'lower level' of the planet, get attacked by a giant walrus, a ship full of pirates, a giant fish which swallows some of them, get stranded on a desert island, are forced to tell stories to a city of malign birds and... oh, probably other stuff I've forgotten. For the first third - maybe even half - of the book, I revelled in the strangeness, but it just got incredibly tiresome.

Magrs writes in a heavily meta way, the Doctor disbelieving the tales in a book clearly written about his own life, Iris questioning whether she or he had adventures on Skaro and Telos, the perspective shifting from video camera footage to diary entries to some weird first-person perspective from the Doctor to standard third-person narrative. Iris voices the author's dislike of the fifth to seventh Doctors and their respective eras. The influence of Arabian Nights and magical realism authors is worn on the book's dust-sleeve. It's full of wonderful imagery and great imagination, but when you're placing familiar characters from an ongoing storyline into such a densely written meta world, it just doesn't really work. Especially when the actual plot is something that could have come from Christopher Bulis on a particularly off day. At last when Stephen Marley wrote Managra he made every single aspect of the book impenetrable.

On the plus side, and despite Magrs's afterword explaining his dislike of the direction of the Virgin books, he reintroduces Lungbarrow and the Looms back into the series' lore, which is all good with me.

Next time on Doctor Who... another first time author.

Quote from: purlieu on May 14, 2022, 06:10:00 PM
The Scarlet Empress by Paul Magrs.
"It happened to me. Seven of me were taken to the Death Zone on Gallifrey. Someone had reactivated the Games they used to play there. Each of my selves, present, past and future, was given a relevant companion and playmate, and we were forced to battle our separate, and then collective ways, past Ice Warriors, Ogrons, Sea Devils, Zarbi, Mechanoids and Quarks, to get to the Dark Tower. Good job we only got the rubbishy monsters to battle, eh?"

I... hmm.

While my decision to read all the books in internal-chronological order has been mostly very enjoyable and interesting, it has thrown up the occasional continuity issue. I witnessed the downfall of the Selachians before I'd been introduced to them. I met Chris and Roz a couple of years before reaching their first story. Here, I'm meeting Iris Wildthyme for the first time, despite having enjoyed an entire novel with her ages ago, in the Third Doctor PDA Verdigris. Whilst that lends a certain in-universe authenticity, with Iris and the Doctor meeting each other somewhat randomly throughout their respective timelines, it's also somewhat unsatisfying.

Anyway, Iris is basically a proto-River Song, really. A Time Lady, in love with the Doctor, who's a bit of a flirty loudmouth, manages to take charge of scenarios putting the Doctor on the back foot, and of course meeting him in a less-than-conventionally chronological order, who drives around in a London double decker bus-shaped TARDIS that's smaller on the inside. She's great fun, and I enjoyed her as much here as in Verdigris. Briefly looking at her history on the TARDIS wikia page, I spotted there are a lot of non-Who Iris adventures, so she's clearly very close to Paul Magrs's heart. Unsurprising, then, that she's the star of the show here. A reasonably written Eight doesn't really do much at all, while Sam is not really Sam - a bit of a smart-arse, swearing, stealing and even seemingly eating meat at one point - although she's a lot more enjoyable to read than in most previous books. The rest of the focus is Iris, her baffling history (has she really had many of the same adventures as the Doctor or is she making them up because she fancies him?) At the end she regenerates from a large, older lady into someone who looks like Barbarella-era Jane Fonda. As you do.

It being Paul Magrs, it's weird. Unfortunately, unlike Verdigris, which was a wonderfully barmy story, things here are pushed just that bit too far. Bizarre, daft occurrences are great when placed against a normal backdrop, but this book is set on an increasingly odd planet which seems to have new weird locations purely for the sake of the story. Once every aspect of the book is weird, it just becomes tiresome. All of the characters are improbable - a superhero tea of a blind bearded lady called Major Angela, an Alice in Wonderland-style Mock Turtle, a cyborg who falls in love with a giant spider, and an alligator man. The plot is a fairly simple quest - get the gang back together, and defeat the evil Scarlet Empress. On the way they come across a village populated by people who kill strangers, a hydra is summoned from a book, the characters travel on a lift down to a frozen 'lower level' of the planet, get attacked by a giant walrus, a ship full of pirates, a giant fish which swallows some of them, get stranded on a desert island, are forced to tell stories to a city of malign birds and... oh, probably other stuff I've forgotten. For the first third - maybe even half - of the book, I revelled in the strangeness, but it just got incredibly tiresome.

Magrs writes in a heavily meta way, the Doctor disbelieving the tales in a book clearly written about his own life, Iris questioning whether she or he had adventures on Skaro and Telos, the perspective shifting from video camera footage to diary entries to some weird first-person perspective from the Doctor to standard third-person narrative. Iris voices the author's dislike of the fifth to seventh Doctors and their respective eras. The influence of Arabian Nights and magical realism authors is worn on the book's dust-sleeve. It's full of wonderful imagery and great imagination, but when you're placing familiar characters from an ongoing storyline into such a densely written meta world, it just doesn't really work. Especially when the actual plot is something that could have come from Christopher Bulis on a particularly off day. At last when Stephen Marley wrote Managra he made every single aspect of the book impenetrable.

On the plus side, and despite Magrs's afterword explaining his dislike of the direction of the Virgin books, he reintroduces Lungbarrow and the Looms back into the series' lore, which is all good with me.

Next time on Doctor Who... another first time author.

I think this has been an issue with other Magrs novels I've read, that the narrative becomes so absurd and self-referential that it ends up feeling like nothing that is happening matters, like they might as well be taking place in their own side universe which has little to do with the books on either side of them.

It's quite a way off but I remember liking The Blue Angel, which is much more serious in tone by his standards but again, feels like it's taking place somewhere apart from everything else.

jamiefairlie

Quote from: Deanjam on May 14, 2022, 02:47:59 PMThis nice picture showed up on my Twitter feed of Tom & Liz with Harold Wilson and a bunch of TV personalities of the mid 70s.



Tom & Val laughing as they know they'll outlive the rest.

Replies From View

Bill Oddie is still with us too.  Who else?

pigamus

No, Bill Oddie's still with us.

Replies From View

Quote from: pigamus on May 15, 2022, 08:56:34 AMNo, Bill Oddie's still with us.

Sorry, I edited my post in-between (reader:  I originally agreed that they were all dead, before I checked Oddie).  Your reply hadn't yet appeared when I did.

Are there any others?

Norton Canes


purlieu

Quote from: Ron Maels Moustache on May 14, 2022, 11:29:05 PMI think this has been an issue with other Magrs novels I've read, that the narrative becomes so absurd and self-referential that it ends up feeling like nothing that is happening matters, like they might as well be taking place in their own side universe which has little to do with the books on either side of them.

It's quite a way off but I remember liking The Blue Angel, which is much more serious in tone by his standards but again, feels like it's taking place somewhere apart from everything else.
As I say, I quite like Verdigris, because it's a UNIT story so there's an element of people effectively responding with "what the fuck is going on?" which really manages to ground the weirdness.
There's a small category of these 'in their own side universe' type books that, as you say, just feel so inconsequential, because they're pretty much impossible to consider as part of the same series. Sky Pirates!, Managra, Transit and Speed of Flight immediately leap out.

Quote from: Replies From View on May 15, 2022, 08:54:35 AMBill Oddie is still with us too.  Who else?

Graeme Garden. He's at the back, next to Bill Pertwee.

Replies From View

I do love Graeme Garden.  I feel like Simon Munnery owes something of his look and physicality to Graeme Garden but maybe that's wrong of me.

jamiefairlie

Who's the rather louche looking fellow directly underneath (oo-err) Liz Sladen?

Deanjam

Quote from: jamiefairlie on May 16, 2022, 04:25:24 AMWho's the rather louche looking fellow directly underneath (oo-err) Liz Sladen?

It is magician Harold Taylor.


Replies From View

An entire story of him... in a book!!


Were there ever any magic sets released with his name on them like Paul Daniels, or did he fail to reach those dizzying heights within the magic circle?

daf

From people who brought you 'The Mystery of David Burton', Nothing at the End of the Lane present . . .

Reconstructing Shada



Part 1  |  Part 2  |  Part 3  |  Part 4  |  Part 5

QuoteIn 1979, industrial disputes stopped the production of the Shada. 38 years later, producer Charles Norton and his team finally began to complete the story using animation, newly-recorded dialogue and new live-action and model footage. Here's how they did it.


daf

(ignore this - pressed post by mistake)

jenna appleseed

#1584
Why does Chris from Shada look like a young Columbo?

eta:
going by the screenshots animated Skagra is ridiculously fucking sexy evil.

fascinating piece even though I never seen/read any version of Shada (unless the recycled bits in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency count?)

& the bits where Charles Norton is an ultra tedious cunt about something, immediately followed by him being totally contradicted by Mark Ayers are hilarious.

purlieu

Season 22 BluRay confirmed for 20th June.
Taken their time on this one, haven't they?

purlieu


The Janus Conjunction by Trevor Baxendale.

The EDAs have, so far, been largely very unadventurous. I say this as a generally bad thing. This is a rare example of quite enjoying that, though.

The Janus Conjunction begins in very unpromising territory: two factions of humans in the future appear to be at war with each other. Some of them are very military. The first few chapters are incredibly tedious. I feared the worst. As the story develops, however, it becomes quite interesting. There are two planets, and colonists and their mercenary security are split between the two, the latter group stuck on a hostile world, dying of radiation poisoning; if they leave, however, they will die immediately. Throw in the entire solar system being rigged up as some sort of bizarre doomsday weapon, and there being a race of sentient spiders present, and it's all quite intriguing and pacy.

Everything about it feels like a Pertwee story. Colony in Space is the clearest comparison point, but most of the hallmarks are there. It's mostly quite fun, with some humour, familiar archetypal characters who manage to have some depth, and a central concept that develops at the right pace to keep you interested throughout. The prose is workmanlike, the Doctor and Sam are fine if unremarkable, but at no point does it get bogged down in endless action sequences, pretentious nothingness or whining, unlike most of the EDAs so far. So it's a tick from me this time, and a reminder that very trad stories aren't inherently a bad thing.

Next time on The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield... Lance Parkin returns, so it should be interesting at the very least.

JamesTC

Quote from: purlieu on May 18, 2022, 11:05:42 AMSeason 22 BluRay confirmed for 20th June.
Taken their time on this one, haven't they?

Production problems on the box delayed it a few months apparently.

Hopefully not too long to wait for the next announcement. Hoping for the rumoured Season 2.

Replies From View

This popped up in my recommendations today.  Thought I'd share it here in case any of you haven't seen it.



purlieu


Beige Planet Mars by Lance Parkin & Mark Clapham

Makhno ignored her, shaking his head earnestly. "Don't you realise? It's the classic set up. Professor Bernice Summerfield arrives intending to have a quiet couple of days in which she can finally do some academic work, and she finds herself in a glamorous and luxurious setting." He paused, staring right at her. "The question is... who's going to be the first guest to get murdered?"

The Benny books are frequently very meta. I suppose it's not so surprising when you consider that it's a spin-off range of a tie-in range, with a flawed, funny and often partially incompetent protagonist, written for - and by - New Adventures nerds. The first half of Beige Planet Mars is pretty much the epitome of this, with a Benny fanboy in attendance at an archeology conference being an audience surrogate. There are also plenty of nods to Who - "a curly haired man, his blonde companion and their robot dog" are also in attendance - and the show's relationship with Virgin - every time someone goes to say daleks, they're interrupted. I even think Mel might be present at one point, although it's a little vague. It's all very silly, bordering on smug, but this sense of knowing fun is what I want from a Benny book.

The first half feels like an attempt at doing a Benny The Also People, in that very little really happens: there's a murder investigation, but it mostly falls into the background, allowing Parkin and Clapham to spend a long time with Benny's first in-print visit to Mars. Given that Martian history is her speciality, it offers her a chance to gush about her favourite subject with other academics, letting the reader explore the history of human colonies on Mars, as well as the results of both human-Ice Warrior wars, but also the Dalek invasion of Earth, and the Dalek wars that form the backdrop to much of the NA range, as well as Benny's past. In less capable hands, this could all come across as a dull, self-indulgent infodump, but instead it reads as wonderful character material and excellent world-building. The slower pace works, and it's just very enjoyable to absorb. There's also the beginning of a reconciliation between Benny and Jason, which is long overdue.

The second half heads off into more dramatic fare, with the whodunnit suddenly turning out to be more important when Mars looks set to be blown up by nukes by the killer. There are a lot of red herrings placed throughout the book, which makes it an enjoyable page turner, but the extended action sequence set in and around the missile silo is sadly a slog and brings the book down a level - it was a brisk, moreish read until then, but those chapters took me ages to Wade through. Still, the resolution was genuinely surprising, which was nice.

All in all, not quite the book the first half was pushing for, but a very enjoyable one for the most part. And almost certainly the most sexually explicit entry into the Whoniverse, for better or worse.

And, and also:


Next time on Doctor Who... my last Jim Mortimore book. I'm sure he'll try and kill off as much of the universe as possible in the process.