Book Review – Doctor Who: Bang-Bang-a-Boom

  • Title: Bang-Bang-a-Boom!
  • Series: Doctor Who Main Range
  • Authors: Gareth Roberts and Clayton Hickman
  • Director: Nicholas Pegg
  • Characters: Seventh Doctor, Mel
  • Cast: Sylvester McCoy, Bonnie Langford, Sabina Franklyn, Nickolas Grace
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/27/2017

**Spoiler Alert** Bang-Bang-a-Boom is one of my very favorite Big Finish audio plays – because it is relentlessly funny. This is a full-cast audio play, with music, sound effects and an excellent cast. It features the Seventh Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy and his companion, Mel. The story starts with a bang, as the TARDIS arrives on an in-bound shuttle to a space station. The Doctor and Mel no sooner arrive than they realize the people on the shuttle are dead and it is about to explode. Before they can get to the TARDIS, they are beamed to the space station.

The station, Dark Space 8, is expecting a replacement commander, the previous one having died in a space flu. The staff of the Station welcome the Doctor as the new Commander, and Mel as his pilot. The Station is about to host the Intergalactic Song Contest.

The Doctor and Mel meet the contestants of the contest, including representatives of two Galactic Empires posed on the brink of war. They also meet the Arbiter, a galaxy-wide famous diplomat. Before long, people on the station start getting murdered, the Doctor investigates, and Dr. Eleanor Harcourt feels so … helpless.

The story is great fun, and the parodies of ST:TNG and ST:DS9 are rampant. The Doctor gets to play detective with Mel as his reluctant assistant. They eventually realize that the Intergalactic Peace Conference that is taking place at the same time, supposedly on another planet, is actually taking place on the station – and the Song Contest is a convenient cover. The Doctor also uncovers a number of secrets about the crew of Dark Space 8. The story has a light tone and is laugh-out-loud funny. It truly is one of my very favorite Big Finish stories and I highly recommend it.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com

Click this link to order Bang-Bang-a-Boom! on Download only. Note: currently for the discounted price of $2.99. Get it while you can!

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Ripple Effect

  • Title: The Ripple Effect
  • Series: Doctor Who Novelette Collection
  • Author: Malorie Blackman
  • Characters: Seventh Doctor, Ace
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/02/2016

Doctor Who – The Ripple Effect is part the of Doctor Who 50th Anniversary 12 Doctors 12 Books series of mini-books. The Ripple Effect features the Seventh Doctor as played on the BBC television series by Sylvester McCoy and his companion Ace (aka Dorothy McShane). The mini-book opens with the Doctor and Ace in the TARDIS and they are stuck. They are in the space/time equivalent of the Sargasso Sea – becalmed and utterly unable to move. Other ships are also stranded. While the Doctor works on the TARDIS console trying to fix it so they can get out of the time/space trap, Ace watches out the viewing screen at the greyish exterior. Then she suddenly sees the TARDIS. But the Doctor dismisses this as an illusion.

The Doctor makes a desperate move, and the TARDIS is kicked free of the trap. They “auto-land” on a planet, which they soon discover to be Skaro. But rather the home of the militaristic, xenophobic, racist, bullies we know as Daleks – Skaro is home to a race of Daleks who are the center of teaching, medicine, and research for the entire galaxy. People of all races and of all ages come to the Academy on Skaro to learn, study, and do research. Even the Time Lords have come to Skaro to say thanks for the Dalek medical team that saved the life of the Lord President of Gallifrey.

The Doctor, of course, knows this to be wrong. Ace also remembers her own fights against vicious Daleks, but over time she comes to accept the new world she’s on, and the new universe.

The Doctor, however, continues to investigate – and although the Daleks are as good as they seem, this alternate universe isn’t stable – and in the end, he and Ace must do something about that.

The Ripple Effect is an excellent story, in that it’s really about prejudice – the Doctor’s previous experiences with evil Daleks make it difficult for him to accept that these Daleks are good. Ace at first agrees with him, but she gradually accepts what she sees with her own eyes, despite her memories, these Daleks are good. Ace even becomes friends with one of the other students – which makes the end even more tragic.

This is an excellent and very short story, as all the other stories in this series are short. Recommended.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The 12 Doctors of Christmas

  • Title: The Twelve Doctors of Christmas
  • Series: BBC Books – Special Themed Short Story Collection
  • Author: Various
  • Note: Includes paintings for each story
  • Characters: One story per Doctor, with companions
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 12/22/2016

The Twelve Doctors of Christmas is a wonderful, wonderful book. Everything about this book is just awesome and it would make for a great Christmas gift for Doctor Who fans young and old. The presentation of this book is impressive – it’s a cloth-bound hard cover with incredible full-color art paintings – one per story. There is one short story per Doctor and one painting per story. The paintings are bound in groups, though, rather than as front pieces for each story, so you read four stories then get four pages of gorgeous art. Still, the full-color paintings are beautiful and aptly illustrate each story.

There are twelve short stories in the collection – one per Doctor, and the stories also feature many of the Doctor’s well-known companions. Each story also has a theme of Christmas – but it’s interpreted by the various authors in a broad way, so we get stories that range from Barbara and Ian “going home for the holidays” to the Seventh Doctor and Ace trying to rescue a crashed alien from Macy’s at Christmas (after hours) and trying to also save the few workers in the store. All the stories are inventive and approach the Holiday differently. It’s a wonderful collection.

This was an uplifting and fun read – and I could see myself re-reading it every year. It’s a beautiful presentation as a book, a great gift, and an enjoyable read. I simply loved it – and it was good to read at this time of year.

Stories, Doctor, Companion(s), Authors

  • All I Want for Christmas (First Doctor, Barbara, Ian) – Jacqueline Rayner
  • A Comedy of Terrors (Second Doctor, Jamie, Zoë) – Colin Brake
  • The Christmas Inversion (Third Doctor, Jo Grant, UNIT) – Jacqueline Rayner
  • Three Wise Men (Fourth Doctor) – Richard Dungworth
  • Sontar’s Little Helpers (Fifth Doctor, Tegan, Turlough) – Mike Tucker
  • Fairy Tale of New New York (Sixth Doctor, Mel) – Gary Russell
  • The Grotto (Seventh Doctor, Ace) – Mike Tucker
  • Ghost of Christmas Past (Eighth Doctor) – Scott Handcock
  • The Red Bicycle (Ninth Doctor, Rose) – Gary Russell
  • Loose Wire (Tenth Doctor) – Richard Dungworth
  • The Gift (Eleventh Doctor) – Scott Handcock
  • The Persistence of Memory (Twelfth Doctor) – Colin Brake

Book Review – Doctor Who: Atom Bomb Blues

  • Title: Atom Bomb Blues
  • Series: BBC Books Past Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Andrew Cartmel
  • Characters:  Seventh Doctor, Ace
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 2/22/2013

Finishing this book gave me a sense of accomplishment and a sense of sadness. I have been collecting and reading the BBC Books Past Doctor Adventures (PDA) and Eighth Doctor Adventures (EDA) paperback books series for years (at least since 2001 and possibly before that). I’ve always thought that of the six series (so far) of books based on the BBC television series, Doctor Who, that the PDAs and EDAs had the best writing and were the closest to the characterizations from the actual TV series. So reaching the last Past Doctor Adventure was sad… but since I’ve read most of the PDAs, it was also a sense of accomplishment, it is a series of 76 books after all — that’s a lot.

So, getting on to the review of this particular book in the series. Atom Bomb Blues brings Ace and the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy’s version, e.g. the 7th Doctor) to New Mexico in 1945 during the development and testing phase of the nuclear bomb. The novel moves very fast at the beginning and introduces some great characters. Later on it gets a bit confusing. However, overall I did really like the book, it was an enjoyable read, and the Doctor and Ace were in character. This is a stand-alone Ace and the Doctor novel and not part of Mike Tucker & Robert Perry’s mini-series within the PDA series starring Ace and the Doctor.

One of few things I did find annoying about the PDAs was that every time the series takes the Doctor and his companion to the US there are very basic errors (Dying in the Sun being one of the worst). Unfortunately, Atom Bomb Blues is no exception, with the author continuously mis-spelling “chili” as “chilli”. Very distracting. (At the beginning of the novel a Mexican-American cook/housekeeper’s chili is an important plot-point of sorts). Minor problem, yes, but annoying anyway. I also think it should have been colder in the New Mexico desert at night, but whatever.

However, I did like the plot and the characters. “Cosmic Ray” seemed a bit out of time (his accent and slang are very 60s) but that gets explained later. Ace was wonderful — I especially liked how she reacts to the Doctor’s withholding information. That was very like the series itself, especially the 7th Doctor Era.

Overall, I recommend this particular book in the BBC Past Doctor Adventures series. This is a nice Swan Song for the series to go out on. The book is an enjoyable, fast read.

Doctor Who – New Adventures Booklist

The Doctor Who New Adventures were a series of original paperback novels that were published by Virgin Publishing, along side the Missing Adventures, after the series disappeared from our screens in 1989. The books started with the Seventh Doctor and Ace, but later introduced new companions, such as Dr. Bernice Summerfield, an archaeologist. They must be read in order. The chart below lists the book number, the title, the author, and the cast.

 

Virgin Publishing New Adventures featuring the 7th Doctor
Book # Title Author(s) Main Cast
1 Timewyrm: Genesys John Peel 7th Doctor, Ace
2 Timewyrm: Exodus Terrance Dicks 7th Doctor, Ace
3 Timewyrm: Apocalypse Nigel Robinson 7th Doctor, Ace
4 Timewyrm: Revelation Paul Cornell 7th Doctor, Ace
5 Cat’s Cradle: Time’s Crucible Marc Platt 7th Doctor, Ace
6 Cat’s Cradle: Warhead Andrew Cartmel 7th Doctor, Ace
7 Cat’s Cradle: Witch Mark Andrew Hunt 7th Doctor, Ace
8 Nightshade Mark Gatiss 7th Doctor, Ace
9 Love And War Paul Cornell 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
10 Transit Ben Aaronovitch 7th Doctor, Bernice
11 The Highest Science Gareth Roberts 7th Doctor, Bernice
12 The Pit Neil Penswick 7th Doctor, Bernice
13 Deceit Peter Darvill-Evans 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
14 Lucifer Rising Jim Mortimore & Andy Lane 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
15 White Darkness David A McIntee 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
16 Shadowmind Christopher Bulis 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
17 Birthright Nigel Robinson 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
18 Iceberg David Banks 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
19 Blood Heat Jim Mortimore 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
20 The Dimension Riders Daniel Blythe 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
21 The Left-Handed Hummingbird Kate Orman 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
22 Conundrum Steve Lyons 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
23 No Future Paul Cornell 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
24 Tragedy Day Gareth Roberts 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
25 Legacy Gary Russell 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
26 Theatre of War Justin Richards 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
27 All-Consuming Fire Andy Lane 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
28 Blood Harvest Terrance Dicks 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
29 Strange England Simon Messingham 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
30 First Frontier David A McIntee 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
31 St Anthony’s Fire Mark Gatiss 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
32 Falls the Shadow Daniel O’Mahony 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
33 Parasite Jim Mortimore 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
34 Warlock Andrew Cartmel 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
35 Set Piece Kate Orman 7th Doctor, Ace, Bernice
36 Infinite Requiem Daniel Blythe 7th Doctor, Bernice
37 Sanctuary David A McIntee 7th Doctor, Bernice
38 Human Nature Paul Cornell 7th Doctor, Bernice
39 Original Sin Andy Lane 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
40 Sky Pirates! Dave Stone 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
41 Zamper Gareth Roberts 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
42 Toy Soldiers Paul Leonard 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
43 Head Games Steve Lyons 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
44 The Also People Ben Aaronovitch 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
45 Shakedown Terrance Dicks 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
46 Just War Lance Parkin 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
47 Warchild Andrew Cartmel 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
48 Sleepy Kate Orman 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
49 Death and Diplomacy Dave Stone 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
50 Happy Endings Paul Cornell 7th Doctor, Bernice, Chris, Roz
51 GodEngine Craig Hinton 7th Doctor, Chris, Roz
52 Christmas on a Rational Planet Lawrence Miles 7th Doctor, Chris, Roz
53 Return of the Living Dad Kate Orman 7th Doctor, Chris, Roz
54 The Death of Art Simon Bucher-Jones 7th Doctor, Chris, Roz
55 Damaged Goods Russell T Davies 7th Doctor, Chris, Roz
56 So Vile a Sin Ben Aaronovitch and Kate Orman 7th Doctor, Chris, Roz
57 Bad Therapy Matthew Jones 7th Doctor, Chris
58 Eternity Weeps Jim Mortimore 7th Doctor, Chris
59 The Room With No Doors Kate Orman 7th Doctor, Chris
60 Lungbarrow Marc Platt 7th Doctor, Chris
61 The Dying Days Lance Parkin 8th Doctor

Note that some of these novels have been adapted to stories on New Who, including Human Nature, and possibly, The Also People.

Classic Doctor Who DVD Recs – The Seventh Doctor

This post consists of my recommendations for Sylvester McCoy, the Seventh Doctor, find previous Classic Doctors by following the links below.

Sylvester McCoy, along with Peter Davison, and the new series David Tennant, is my favorite Doctor. During McCoy’s time as the Doctor, the production team deliberately worked to make the Doctor more mysterious, and even, “more than just another Time Lord,” as the Doctor states to Davros in Remembrance of the Daleks.

Dragonfire_Cropped

The Doctor and Mel land on IceWorld a trading post on the frozen dark side of a planet, which is ruled by the meglomaniac dictator Kane, who can only exist at sub-zero temperatures. While the Doctor goes on a quest to find the legendary dragon in the depths of Ice World, Mel befriends Ace, a teenager from Earth who’s working as an waitress at the spaceport café. The Doctor discovers the dragon hides a powerful crystal that Kane covets.

Dragonfire is Mel’s last story, and introduces Ace. The Doctor and Ace have a mentor – student relationship that suits the characters well. The story is filled with metaphysical references and some excellent dialogue.

Remembrance-of-the-Daleks-small

Remembrance of the Daleks is the unofficial 25th Anniversary special, and contains references to An Unearthly Child. The TARDIS lands at Coal Hill Secondary School in 1963. The Doctor and Ace met Group Captain Gilmore, and the scientists Rachel and Allison who are investigating an alien invasion. The aliens turn out to be white Imperial Daleks, who are using a transmat station to send Daleks from an orbiting spaceship to the basement of the school, to find the Hand of Omega, a remote stellar manipulator left in a coffin by the First Doctor. However, renegade Daleks are also looking for the same thing, as well as fighting the Imperial Daleks, and use a child connected to a battle computer as a weapon.

Remembrance is just… wonderful. Daleks fighting each other, with 1960s Earth as their battlefield, as well as revelations of the Doctor’s past and a dark side to the Doctor’s nature make this story really work.

Silver-Nemesis_resized

Validium is a living metal created by the Time Lord’s founder, Rassilon, as Gallifrey’s ultimate defense. An asteroid of the stuff lands in 1638, where Lady Peinforte uses it to create a statue that will be her weapon. The Doctor squelches her plans by sending the statue into an orbit that brings it near Earth every 25 years causing disasters. Lady Pienforte, uses the statue’s arrow to travel to Windsor in 1988. A group of Nazi’s who have the statue’s bow, also show up in Windsor to find the statue. And the Cybermen also arrive.

The VHS video tape of Silver Nemesis was an extended edition (the episode was originally planned to be four parts, but was cut down to three for broadcast – therefore the extra footage existed). Unfortunately, the DVD is only the original three-part version, as aired. I really wish both versions were included on the DVD set – and, though I seldom buy things twice, I would buy a Special Edition of Silver Nemesis that included the extra footage. As a three-parter, the story is more confusing, but it’s still a great story. It again, not only brings-up the Doctor’s past, but makes the character more mysterious.

Battlefield_Resized

The Doctor and Ace encounter Ancelyn, a knight from another dimension, who calls the Doctor, Merlin. They also encounter Modred, and his mother, Morgaine, a sorceress who is looking for Arthur, Excalibur, and conquest. The Doctor encounters the new Brigadier for UNIT, Winifred Bambera; and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is called out of retirement to help. Morgaine first raises the monster, the Destroyer, and when Lethbridge-Stewart defeats it, threatens to use the nearby nuclear missile from UNIT’s convey.

This story is simply brilliant. It has some truly wonderful moments, as well as the Doctor explaining to Ace that the reverse of Clarke’s Law is also true, “Any advanced form of magic is indistinguishable from technology.” And Morgaine is from another dimension anyway. But whereas other episodes of the previous 25th Anniversary Season refered events from the Doctor’s past, this story refers to events from the Doctor’s future:  where he will travel to Morgaine’s dimension and become known as Merlin.

Ghostlight_resized

The Doctor and Ace arrive in Perivale in 1988, at a strange house called Gabriel Chase, which in Ace’s time is considered haunted. An alien ship is hidden beneath the house, and though it’s alien captain pretends to be the Victorian gentleman of the house, he is not – he controls the other residents of the house. He keeps an explorer named Redvers Fenn-Cooper captive in the house, but wishes to have him assassinate Queen Victoria. Meanwhile, Ace releases Light – a mysterious alien who catalogs all the species of Earth, then becomes frustrated when they evolve into new species, and wishes to destroy the planet to keep it stagnant.

Although complex, and requiring multiple viewings, Ghost Light has a spooky atmosphere, as well as filling in some background for Ace, and hinting that the Doctor knows more about her than he’s revealed so far.

Curse-of-Fenric

The Doctor and Ace arrive at a secret British naval base at the end of World War II. At the base, Dr. Judson, is working on a device, called Ultima, to break the secret German ciphers. The Base commander, however, plots to hand the Ultima machine to the Russians because he’s rigged it with deadly neurotoxin. Meanwhile, Dr. Judson tests the Ultima machine, by translating ancient Norse runes, thereby releasing Fenric, an ancient Norse harbinger of doom. The Doctor had actually encountered Fenric seventeen centuries ago and trapped it. The battle between Fenric and the Doctor, in the form of a chess match, also involves Ace, who becomes an unwitting pawn.

Fenric is a complex episode, and it puts the Doctor’s entire relationship with Ace in a new light, as well as revealing how she ended-up on Iceworld in the first place. However, despite the new complexities in their relationship, Ace continues to be the Doctor’s companion.

Survival_Trimmed

The Doctor and Ace go to Perivale in her time, only to discover a number of Ace’s old friends have disappeared. Her friends have been transported to the planet of the Cheetah people, where the planet’s atmosphere causes people on the planet to become savage cat people. The Master is also on the planet, he contacts the Doctor to rescue him, because he’s become trapped on the planet – and it’s savage effects are also beginning to change him into a cat-person.

This is the last story for classic Doctor Who, and although it has an inexpensive look, to say the least, the story is quite different as the struggle to maintain civilization not savagery is largely internal. There is also some really great dialogue, especially the Doctor’s concluding speech, delivered as he and Ace walk off into the forest back on Earth.

“There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea’s asleep and the rivers dream.  People made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice, somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we’ve got work to do.” –the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), “Survival”, BBC, 1989

And that’s it – all the Classic Doctors. I hope these posts encourage Doctor Who fans, especially those who started watching with the New Series, to dip into the Classic Series and experience some of the great older stories.

What are your favorite Sylvester McCoy stories? Do you have others to recommend? Let me know in the comments.