Book Review – Doctor Who: The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor

  • Title: Doctor Who: The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor
  • Authors: James Peaty, Jody Houser
  • Artists: Iolanda Zanfardino, Pasquale Qualano, Brian Williamson, Dijjo Lima (Colorist), Rachael Stott (Artist), Enrica Eren Angiolini (Colorist), Richard Starkings (Letterer), Jimmy Betancourt (Letterer)
  • Line:  13th Doctor Prequel
  • Characters: Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, Twelfth Doctor, Gabby Gonzalez, Cindy Wu, Alice Abiefune, Bill Potts
  • Collection Date: 2019
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/20/2019

**Spoiler Alert** The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor consists of three short stories, one each with the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors and some interstitial pages which directly lead into the first Thirteenth Doctor graphic novel. The graphic novel is also published by Titan Comics who publish a number of tie-in graphic novels to the British Doctor Who television series produced by the BBC.

The first story features the Tenth Doctor, as played on the television series by David Tennant, and his companions Gabby Gonzales and Cindy Wu. The TARDIS lands on a spaceship and the crew step outside only to have a man run right into the TARDIS exterior walls. He yells, “You idiots, you’ve killed me,” only to have a ghostly figure zap the man and kill him. The other crew on the spaceship arrive and take the Doctor and his companions to the control center of the ship. The Doctor tells them he’s with Earthcorp Rescue and finds out the ship is a “ghost ship”, a retired ship put back in service after budget cuts. The Doctor finds this unlikely as their “mission” is to explore an already explored and mapped galaxy. The Doctor is quickly proven right as one of the crew attacks the remaining members and the ghostly figures return and attack. It turns out the ship is on a weapons test. The weapon takes a person’s “aura” and turns it against them to kill that person. Earthcorp plans on using it to kill the indigenous species on planets they want to colonize. The Doctor heads off to the ship’s engine room to stop the weapon, while Gabby and Cindy take the remaining living crew member, Capt. Kelly, to the TARDIS. The Doctor is able to shut down the weapon, and then he returns her to Earth in the TARDIS. Captain Kelly vows to change Earthcorp’s ways.

The Eleventh Doctor and Alice land the TARDIS in 19th Century San Francisco, but the town is filled with anachronistic robots. The Doctor and Alice investigate and find a robot butler at a home – which is startled and kills its owner. The police arrive and the Doctor, the police officer, and Alice take the TARDIS to the harbor. But then the police officer also turns out to be a robot. The Doctor investigates the man who introduced the robots to San Francisco, but the battle drone robots kill him before the Doctor can find out much. The Doctor and Alice are confronted with the robot leader, who is mildly more intelligent than the robots. The Doctor manages to disable the spaceship that controls the robots and they become harmless. He and Alice leave.

The Twelfth Doctor and Bill Potts are in the TARDIS when the Doctor receives a message from Kate Stewart. He arrives in London and sees the city is filled with strange creatures. Kate barely has time to talk to the Doctor before there’s another attack and she’s frozen in time. But the Doctor has an inkling of what’s going on. He soon confronts the Kar-yn, species that had the ability to turn dreams into reality, but when their planet arrived at the end of its lifecycle, they sought to extend their lifespan by creating a memetic archive. A young man on Earth found the archive and activated it. The Doctor confronts the Kar-yn, telling them that instead of preserving their culture they only preserved the death of their planet – a death they were now bringing to Earth. This reverses the Kar-yn’s strategy and saves Earth and London. The young man who found the archive is trapped in his own dream world, a diner where he meets a waitress named Karen.

The interstitial pages consist of a hand reaching out of some type of portal for help, but the Tenth and Twelfth Doctor both fail to grab the hand. The Eleventh Doctor doesn’t even notice the hand or the portal. This mystery will be solved in the next graphic novel, the first to feature the Thirteenth Doctor.

I enjoyed this short graphic novel. All three short stories were good. Recommended.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Many Lives of Doctor Who

  • Title: Doctor Who: The Many Lives of Doctor Who
  • Authors: Richard Dinnick
  • Artists: Mariano LaClaustra, Giorgia Sposito, Brian Williamson, Arianna Florean, Claudia Ianniciello, Iolanda Zanfardino, Neil Edwards, Pasquale Qualano, Rachael Stott, Sarah Jacobs (Letterer), John Roshell (Letterer), Fer Centurion (Inker), Color-Ice (Colorist), Carlos Cabera (Colorist), Adele Matera (Colorist), Dijjo Lima (Colorist), Enrica Eren Angiolini (Colorist)
  • Line:  All-Doctors Crossover Special
  • Characters: First Doctor, Second Doctor, Third Doctor, Fourth Doctor, Fifth Doctor, Sixth Doctor, Seventh Doctor, Eighth Doctor, War Doctor, Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, River Song, Twelfth Doctor, Ian, Barbara, Susan, Jamie, Polly, Ben, Sarah Jane Smith, Romana II, Tegan, Nyssa, Turlough, Peri, Ace, Josie Day, Jack, Rose, Alice, Bill Potts, Thirteenth Doctor
  • Collection Date: 2018
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/19/2019

**Spoiler Alert** Doctor Who The Many Lives of Doctor Who” is a series of vignettes and short stories, one per Doctor, plus a War Doctor Story, a story with River Song, and a few pages with the 13th Doctor. Each of the stories adds to the idea of the Doctor regenerating into who she will be, for example, the number 13 comes up several times, though in the Thirteenth Doctor’s pages she mentions she isn’t actually the 13th Doctor. The Fifth Doctor story as the Fifth Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa, and Turlough in the cloisters on Gallifrey where they are supposed to be chasing down a renegade Time Lord. But when they find him, he talks the Doctor into helping him use some Gallifreyan tech so he can regenerate. The Doctor agrees, and the other Time Lord regenerates into a woman. We also see both the fourth Doctor, with Romana and the Seventh Doctor, with Ace, solving a problem by meeting someone earlier, which they will do after they did it. The graphic novel itself is very short, and some of the vignettes are only a few pages, while others are full, albeit, short stories. I enjoyed this graphic novel though, and it whetted my appetite for the next two graphic novels in Titan Comics 13th Doctor series. The only flaw in the book is it’s almost too short. Recommended.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension Book Two

  • Title: Doctor Who The Lost Dimension Book Two
  • Authors: Gordon Rennie, Emma Beeby, George Mann, Cavan Scott
  • Artists: Ivan Rodriguez, Wellington Diaz, Rachael Stott, Mariano LaClaustra, Anderson Cabral, Marcelo Salaza, Fer Centurion, Thiago Ribeiro, Mauricio Wallace, Carlos Cabrera, Rod Fernandes, Mony Castillo, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line:  All-Doctors Crossover Special
  • Characters: Fourth Doctor, Eighth Doctor, Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, Twelfth Doctor, Romana II, Rose, Gabby, Cindy, Alice, Nardol, Bill, Cameos by other Doctors and Companions
  • Collection Date: 2018
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 03/27/2019

Titan Comics’ The Lost Dimension Book Two is the second volume in this series, which concludes the story. This volume opens with the Fourth Doctor as played on the BBC series Doctor Who by Tom Baker and Romana II in the TARDIS, but instead of materializing the TARDIS is caught between two transmat beams. When the Doctor and Romana exit the TARDIS they are confronted with Krotons, from the Second Doctor story, “The Krotons”, but these Krotons are considerably more dangerous. The other ship is crewed by Quarks from the Second Doctor story, “The Dominators”. Soon a spaceship appears from the Ogron Confederation of Planets and tries to take over. The Doctor soon realises that all of these new invaders are from other universes, universes without the Daleks. He and Romana manage to escape in the TARDIS after convincing the new invaders to leave the universe with the Daleks in it.

Meanwhile, Dr. River Song and her graduate student discover a lost colony of Silurians who are about to be destroyed by an asteroid crashing into their planetoid. Things do not go well.

The Ninth, Tenth, and Twelfth Doctors meet up in Australia while investigating the infection that turns humans into automatons saying, “peace”. They realize the Doctors TARDISes are all linked and that several versions of the Doctor have already been lost in the white void universe. The Eighth Doctor also arrives. The Ninth, Tenth and Twelfth Doctor use Jenny’s Bowship to investigate the White Void that is taking over everything. The Eighth Doctor stays behind to try to protect the humans on Earth from the infection of the Void. The three Doctors in the bow ship find at the center of the Void, an ancient TT capsule, and the Eleventh Doctor. The time capsule is eating everything in sight, consuming whole galaxies. The three Doctors are able to talk to the Eleventh Doctor, who needs help. Together the Doctors manage to fix things for the Time Capsule (ancient TARDIS) and reverse the damage. Everyone is then safe and able to go home.

The Lost Dimension Book Two is a good conclusion to the story. Book One had introduced the Eleventh Doctor’s journey to Gallifrey, and Book Two focuses on solving that mystery and concluding the story. Book Two also has more Doctors working together, with a minimum of the various aspects of the Doctors sniping at each other. Other than the Fourth Doctor and the Eighth Doctor, though, the Classic Doctors are still only seen in cameos, although having all the Doctors working together to rescue the Eleventh Doctor and reverse the damage caused by the TT Capsule works and makes this seem like a true multi-Doctor story. I enjoyed this graphic novel, though I did find it extremely confusing at times and I had to read it multiple times to really figure out what was going on. Still, recommended.

Read my Review of Doctor Who – The Lost Dimension Book One.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension Book One

  • Title: Doctor Who The Lost Dimension Book One
  • Authors: George Mann, Cavan Scott, Nick Abadzis
  • Artists: Rachael Stott, Adriana Melo, Cris Bolson, Mariano LaClaustra, Carlos Cabrera, Leandro Casco, INJ Culbard, Rod Fernandes, Marco Lesko, Dijjo Lima, Hernan Cabrera, IHQ Studios, Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line:  All-Doctors Crossover Special
  • Characters: Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, Twelfth Doctor, Rose, Gabby, Cindy, Alice, Nardol, Bill, Cameos by other Doctors and Companions
  • Collection Date: 2018
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 03/24/2019

The Lost Dimension is Titan Comics attempt to do a crossover story with all the Doctors both from the Classic Series and New Who. However, even at two volumes (second volume to be reviewed separately), it doesn’t work as well as it should. The stories end up being more vignettes than a single, coherent story, and at times stories aren’t even told in order, which is confusing – even after multiple reads. Jenny’s story is particularly told backward: first, we see her trying to save Captain Jack and Tara who have arrived on a planet that is full of volcanic activity and very dangerous. But Jenny is unable to rescue them and is sucked into a white void. She’s pushed out of the void by the Fifth Doctor’s TARDIS which is sucked into the void in her place. Jenny’s ship is damaged. But the next thing we see in the book is Jenny crashing into the Terrance Dicks library on Earth – in a different ship. Later, we learn what happened to Jenny after she was freed from the Void and how she got her Time Lord Bow Ship, which subsequently crashed into the library. The story would have been stronger if it had been told in order.

There are other vignettes – the Twelfth Doctor is there with Bill when Jenny crashes her ship into the library. Kate Stewart arrives with Osgood to slap a D-notice on the incident. But some sort of radiation affects Osgood and everyone else, so they are all saying, “Peace”.

The Ninth Doctor and Rose arrive on a pirate ship, captained by Vastra and Jenny. The ship crashes into an island hidden by a perception filter. It’s home to a colony of Silurians, but unfortunately for Vastra, these Silurians have a plague that can kill her. Still, the Doctor and Rose pick-up a psychic message from Captain Jack – which the Doctor ignores.

The Tenth Doctor, Cindy, and Gabby arrive on a space station, where they are welcomed with open arms. The Doctor fixes the station’s power overload, but he can’t do a lot about an invasion of Cybermen. That the Cybermen have been affected by the White Void and are acting weird just makes the situation that much more strange.

The Eleventh Doctor and Alice end-up on ancient Gallifrey, just as the Time Lords are beginning to experiment with time and space travel. Even though the Doctor warns Alice they must be extra careful and not interfere, the Doctor, well, does. He walks in on a TARDIS training session and uses calming persuasion instead of “breaking” to get the new time-space capsule to accept an interior dimension bubble. His success convinces Rassilon that the Doctor will be perfect for his test pilot program. Alice gets a warning about this from the Second Doctor, but when she gets to the training and testing center – it’s too late, the Doctor’s time/space capsule has exploded with him inside it.

We also see brief cameos of the Third Doctor in this volume as he briefly appears in one of his successors TARDISes. The story will be continued in the next volume.

Most of the stories in this volume felt somewhat disjointed and out of sync. Just as one was getting involved in the individual story of an individual Doctor and companions, that story would end on a cliffhanger. The cliffhangers usually weren’t resolved, so it left the reader hanging. Also, The Lost Dimension promises to feature all Twelve Doctors – but the Classic Doctors only appear in cameos, and the New Who Doctors get longer stories within the main storyline. Not that the New Who stories are bad – I enjoyed them. Titan Comics has excellent writers for their various New Who series. I was frustrated by the unresolved cliffhangers though. The general storyline involves this White Void that’s taking over space. Still, recommended.

Doctor Who Turn Left Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Story Title: Turn Left
  • Story #: Season 4 Story # 11
  • Discs: 1 (Part of “The Complete Series 4” – 5 discs total)
  • Network: BBC
  • Original Air Dates: 6/21/2008
  • Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Catherine Tate (Donna Noble), Billie Piper (Rose Tyler)
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD, NTSC
  • Originally Published on my Live Journal 1/26/2009, now hosted on Dreamwidth

In a word, “Turn Left” was awesome! I loved what I saw of it last summer, and now that I’ve seen the entire episode, I love it even more. It might be one of the best Doctor Who episodes ever made, and not just because of Doctor Who but because of what the episode says about philosophy / life outlook.

The episode begins with Donna being pulled into a fortune teller’s tent – said fortune teller then forces her to go back in time, changing a decision, turning right instead of left (incidentally listening to her overbearing and critical mother). This one decision snowballs, resulting in Donna never meeting the Doctor, and thus the Doctor dying when he meets the Spider Queen in what would have been “The Runaway Bride”. However, without the Doctor, the next year (or so) is a disaster for the UK and the world: London city hospital is taken to the moon – but everyone is killed including Martha, Sarah Jane, and Sarah’s two young wards; the “Christmas Star” – destroys part of London; the spaceship Titanic crashes into Buckingham Palace – vaporising London; the Atmos devices are set-off choking the world and Torchwood agents Owen and Gwen Cooper give their lives fighting the Sontarans; Adipose kills millions in the US. In other words – without the Doctor, the world is in sorry shape. And without Donna – there is no Doctor. Rose, however, returns – coming back from another universe, finds Donna and uses the dying TARDIS to send her back, to get her to change that decision, even though Rose also knows it will cost Donna her life. When Donna sacrifices herself – Other Donna turns left, resulting in her meeting the Doctor, the Doctor not dying, and Doctor Who history continuing on as we know it.

This episode is the best illustration of Chaos Theory I’ve seen since “The Butterfly Effect” and frankly much better done and less violent/spooky/freaky than that movie (I couldn’t handle the animal and child abuse shown in “The Butterfly Effect” – it was SO excessive). However, Doctor Who “Turn Left” illustrates Chaos Theory beautifully. But what I really liked was watching Donna – listening to her saying, “I’m just a temp!” and Rose telling her “You’re the most important person in the universe,” not to mention, when time snaps back, the Doctor telling her “You’re brilliant!”. This was the second incredible philosophical statement in the episode – it shows how interconnected everything is. How one person can actually make a difference and change things. It also shows just how linked or connected everyone is. Donna sees herself as a normal person, and not a very important person at all – “Just a temp” – about the lowly-est job you could have in a technological society. Yet, it’s Donna who saves the Doctor’s life – and by doing that she literally saves millions of people. It’s one of those “you never know how you affect others” moments.

Kudos to Russell T Davies and the Doctor Who team – because “Turn Left” was totally awesome! Donna rules and the Doctor rocks!

The Tenth Doctor and Adelaide

Doctor Who – The Waters of Mars Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Story Title: The Waters of Mars
  • Story #: Season 4.5 Story #3
  • Episodes: Movie Length
  • Discs: 1 (Part of “The Specials Collection” – 5 discs total)
  • Network: BBC
  • Original Air Dates: 11/15/2009
  • Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Lindsay Duncan (Adelaide)
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD, NTSC
  • Originally Published on my Live Journal 4/02/2010, now hosted on Dreamwidth

The previous Doctor Who special, Planet of the Dead was a typical fun, adventure type Doctor Who episode, with the exception of the hints about the Doctor’s fate. The Waters of Mars is more of a more typical horror Doctor Who episode, with a slightly claustrophobic feel and eventual hints of the Doctor’s coming fate. One interesting thing about the episode is that it is very similar, at least at the start, to “The Fires of Pompeii”. Like Pompeii, the Doctor has arrived at a fixed point in time, which means he can’t do anything about what’s going to happen. To make things interesting – this time he’s fifty years in the future. But, from the Doctor’s pov, it’s the same as Pompeii – he can’t save anyone, and he can’t alter what’s going to happen.

Despite his instincts telling him to just leave, of course, the Doctor stays on Mars, and we discover what the mysterious disaster was – an invasion of water creatures called The Flood. Any water infected by The Flood can infect a person – causing them to become deadly drones of The Flood. Before long, the Doctor and the crew of the base are trying to stop The Flood and escape. However, because this is a fixed point in time – the Doctor, and the audience, know that no one can escape. Or, rather, they shouldn’t. The Doctor should not be interfering – at all, he could cause more damage than he could fix.

Eventually, as he sees Bowie Base 1 exploding the Doctor makes a fateful decision and goes back to help. Normally, in Doctor Who, this is what we want the Doctor to do, to help people in desperate situations. However, in this case, there’s a sense that to actually interfere and even attempt to save the good people of Bowie Base 1 would have serious consequences for history, and possibly even prevent the launch of the first lightship mission into the galaxy, to be captained by Adelaide’s grand-daughter. Yet, the Doctor defies the Laws of Time anyway, saving Yuri, Mia, and Adelaide. He returns the three to Earth (all had originally died on Mars) and becomes extremely arrogant and condescending towards them. Adelaide challenges the new “Time Lord Victorious” who has decided to shape the Laws of Time to his own purposes.

“There were laws, there were Laws of Time, and once upon a time, there were people in charge of those laws but they died, they all died. Do you know who that leaves? Me! It’s taken me all these years to realize the Laws of Time are mine. And they will obey me!” – The Doctor (David Tennant), The Waters of Mars, BBC

The Doctor has never been so close to becoming The Master in all his lives. He even uses The Master’s catch-phrase from the Pertwee years (“You will obey me!” – Roger Delgado’s Master). Adelaide, terrified by this new Doctor, and realising that only her death would “fix” time, kills herself. The Doctor, seeing this off-screen death, freaks, and realises he’s gone too far – then he sees an Ood in the distance, not good. Just to top things off, he goes into the TARDIS, and the Cloister Bell is ringing – never a good sign. The Cloister Bell last heard in “The Stolen Earth”/”Journey’s End”, and before that in “Logopolis”, always spells absolute disaster – usually something the Doctor cannot control or stop completely. In “Logopolis”, it also heralded the Doctor’s Regeneration.

There are a few things I didn’t really care for in “The Waters of Mars”, – first, they are on Mars, now granted, it’s a base (like a space station), but still – it’s Mars, Why no space suits? The first thing the crew should have done when confronted with water – was to have everyone get into their space suits. This would have saved three of them at least – until the base exploded. Second, OK, the Doctor manages to save three people and returns them to Earth?! On the same day? How are they going to explain surviving and that they aren’t on Mars? You’d think all that would do would start conspiracy theory groups that believed the entire Mars mission was faked (kinda’ like the lunatics who think the US never landed on the Moon. Idiots!) And Adelaide, poor, sweet, strong Adelaide, kills herself because she thinks this will set history right? Only if the Doctor moves her body to Mars! I really didn’t think the end of the story made any sense whatsoever.

That the Doctor has gone beyond the pale and started to abuse his power as a Time Lord is something RTD has played with before. He seems to think there isn’t much of a difference between the Doctor and the Master, for example. And, it some sense, we do know from the entire run of Doctor Who that Time Lords have so much power they do tend to corrupt. (What’s that saying – power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely? Time Lords tend to be perfect examples of this philosophy). However, the Doctor has always been a voice in the wilderness arguing against the abuses of power in his own Time Lord society:

“In all my travelings throughout the universe, I have battled against evil, against power-mad conspirators. I should have stayed here. The oldest civilisation… Decadent, degenerate, and rotten to the core… Power-mad conspirators, Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen – they’re still in the nursery compared to us. Ten million years of absolute power – that’s what it takes to be really corrupt!” – The Doctor (Colin Baker), “Trial of a Time Lord”

And the Doctor’s been just as harsh when arguing against human, Dalek, Cybermen, or other evil empires of corruption and power. I realise RTD wanted to make the Doctor more human and vulnerable, but The Waters of Mars doesn’t quite work to establish that much of a change so quickly. Overall, three out of five stars.

The Waters of Mars DVD also includes the full-length “The Waters of Mars” episode of Doctor Who Confidential. It’s very nice to see the full-length version of Confidential.

The Tenth Doctor and Lady Christina standing in front of a wrecked red double-decker bus in the desert.

Doctor Who – Planet of the Dead Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Story Title: Planet of the Dead
  • Story #: Season 4.5 Story #2
  • Episodes: Movie Length
  • Discs: 1 (Part of “The Specials Collection” – 5 discs total)
  • Network: BBC
  • Original Air Dates: 4/11/2009
  • Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), Michelle Ryan (Lady Christina de Souza)
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD, NTSC
  • Originally Published on my Live Journal 3/26/2010, now hosted on Dreamwidth

This review will be a little short, because there really isn’t much to Planet of the Dead. Not that it’s a bad episode of Who, or that there’s anything really wrong with the story. It’s just fairly basic. Planet of the Dead is pretty much a straight forward adventure plot. The only slight nod to something else going on is the character of Camille – a psychic, who ends-up having a warning for the Doctor. But we’ll get to that.

This story starts with a jewelry robbery at the “International Museum”. This introduces us to Christina, full name Lady Christina de Souza, who as a bored member of the aristocracy, steals for the adventure, not the money. Trying to get away from the cops after the robbery, she boards a local red double-decker bus. She’s followed on board by the Doctor. Both have bluffed their way onto the bus – Christina paying the fare with her diamond earrings, and the Doctor paying his with his psychic paper. The Doctor is trying to track down some sort of time/dimensional disturbance when the bus literally drives through a wormhole to another planet.

The cracked-up bus arrives on a desert planet, all its passengers alive and well. Because of the three suns in the sky, it’s obvious to everyone that they are on another planet, not just moved in space. Briefly, a few of the passengers accuse the Doctor of causing their predicament, but they quickly realise that the Doctor will help them out.

They also see a crashed spaceship. The Doctor and Christina go to investigate, finding fly people, and the spaceship. Eventually, the Doctor gets anti-grav clamps from the ship and uses them to fix the bus. He offers the fly people the chance to escape, but while they are debating one of the nasty stingray-like aliens is loose in the ship, causing destruction and the two fly people are crushed to death. The Doctor attaches the clamps to the wheels of the bus, and uses the ancient gold chalice Christina stole to get the incompatible drive working.

With a little help from Malcolm, a UNIT scientist, he successfully returns the bus to earth. UNIT cleans-up the few stingray-things that get through the wormhole and the Doctor helps Malcolm to permanently seal the dimensional hole so it doesn’t re-open on its own. It should be noted that Malcolm is quite possibly the best part of the entire story. He’s bright, funny, totally in awe of the Doctor (almost a “fan”) and a bit socially awkward. However, when the UNIT Captain orders him to close the wormhole before the Doctor and the bus have returned, he refuses, rightfully standing up to her.

Christina takes a bit of getting used to, but I think she could have made a good “real” companion. To me, any of the temporary companions from the various specials don’t really count as companions, including Christina. But, because of her background as a thief, she could have been a companion, like Leela, that the Doctor had to teach and train. And, I think the season of specials might have been improved by having at least one companion that traveled in the TARDIS with the Doctor. However, that also would have been contrary to RTD’s theme for the abbreviated season/series 5 which was that traveling alone is bad for the Doctor’s mental well-being. (After all, Doctor # 9 arrives back on earth, newly regenerated and companionless).

This brings me to the final point. At the end of the episode, Christina walks up to the Doctor by the TARDIS and first asks him to show her the stars. When that doesn’t work, she explains that she needs excitement and adventure and she wants to travel with him. He refuses. She practically begs him to let her travel with him. He almost relents. But then he says no, and lets her get carried off by the police (though he uses the sonic screwdriver to loosen her handcuffs and she escapes the police car and runs off). It’s after he’s refused to have her as a companion that Camille shows up to warn him.

“You be careful because your song is ending, sir.” – Camille
“What do you mean?” – The Doctor
“It is returning. It is returning through the dark.  … He will knock four times.” – Camille
Planet of the Dead, BBC

This ends up hanging over the Doctor’s head for the next three specials. I think that refusing to have a companion was a temporal nexus for the Doctor. Christina might, like Donna definitely would have, stopped the Doctor from messing-up at Bowie Base in Waters of Mars (review forthcoming). The Doctor had said at the end of The Next Doctor that he just couldn’t handle having companions anymore because they leave him, and he ends up with a broken heart. He tells Christina, “People have traveled with me and I’ve lost them. Lost them all. Never again.” The Doctor is trying to protect himself from loss and is still reeling from what he had to do to Donna (and he’s in mourning for her). Yet, he doesn’t realise just how much he needs to have a companion with him. That’s very much a Russell T. Davies thing – that the Doctor needs humans to keep him sane, and in return, he offers his human and non-human companions the adventure of a lifetime.

And because I forgot them on my last review – the special features.

The DVD contains the Doctor Who Confidential Special for Planet of the Dead.

Doctor Who – The Next Doctor Review

  • Series Title: Doctor Who
  • Story Title: The Next Doctor
  • Story #: Season 4.5 Story #1 (Doctor Who Christmas Special)
  • Episodes: Movie Length
  • Discs: 1 (Part of “The Specials Collection” – 5 discs total)
  • Network: BBC
  • Original Air Dates: 12/25/2008
  • Cast: David Tennant (The Doctor), David Morrissey (The Next Doctor)
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, DVD, NTSC
  • Originally Published on my Live Journal 3/22/2010, now hosted on Dreamwidth

“Who are you?”  – The Doctor (DT)
“I’m the Doctor, the one, the only, and the best! Rosita, give me the sonic screwdriver.” – Next Doctor (DM)
“What?” – The Doctor (DT)
“And get back to the TARDIS.” – Next Doctor (DM)
“What?” – The Doctor(DT)
“If you can stand back, sir, this is a job for a Time Lord!” – Next Doctor (DM)
The Next Doctor (David Tennant and David Morrissey), BBC

I really enjoyed The Next Doctor when I saw it on BBC America nearly a year ago, and it some ways it was my favorite of the five specials for David Tennant’s abbreviated last season. In part what makes The Next Doctor so enjoyable is that it does what Doctor Who does so well. The script is fun, yet has an element of angst that underlies everything. And once the mystery of ‘Who is The Next Doctor?’ is actually solved, you’re only halfway through the episode – and the Cybermen show up in a Steampunk tour-de-force.

The Next Doctor begins with Tennant’s Doctor’s TARDIS landing in Victorian London at Christmas. This is continuity with every single Christmas special in the Russell T. Davies new version of Doctor Who – all have taken place in London at Christmas. The Doctor is walking around a snowy London, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells, smiling and enjoying himself. He finds a street urchin and finds out its Christmas Eve 1851. Then he hears a strange noise and a woman screaming “Doctor!” He runs over to help. He is then standing right next to her, when she continues to scream, “Doctor!”, much to our Doctor’s confusion. Suddenly, David Morrissey shows up.

Our Doctor (Tennant) is confused, and it’s cut to opening credits. The first half hour of the special then is really a mystery – What’s going on in London this time? And is Morrissey really a future incarnation of the Doctor or not? But despite the fun – the feeling of “this is how someone would play The Doctor if he was told about him without seeing the show” – the tone of solving this mystery, especially the mystery of just who the Next Doctor is, has a melancholy tone from the very beginning. It soon becomes apparent that there was an accident, and the Next Doctor touched a Cyberman data storage device, which downloaded data about the Doctor into his brain, causing his amnesia and causing him to think he was The Doctor – but was that the only thing to cause his distress? Slowly, our Doctor and the Next Doctor, through returning memories, realise that he is in deep, deep shock. So much so he’s dropped, as our Doctor explains, into a Fugue State. This shock was caused by him witnessing the brutal murder of his wife at the hands of the Cybermen and the kidnapping of his son. And that’s what Doctor Who can do so well – it’s not just about fighting monsters or special effects. It’s about the drama. Here’s a man who’s lost his wife. Seen his son kidnapped. And been so shocked by it that his entire personality was submerged and he assumed a new one. Suddenly, The Next Doctor, isn’t the light adventure romp we thought it was going to be.

Meanwhile, the plot for the second half of the special has already been hinted at – and now it becomes the focus of the action. It’s Cybermen, folks. Hints of this have been given up to this point, but now the Cyber-Steampunk plot moves to the front of the plot. We meet a woman who is so vexed by the limitations placed on her sex in Victorian Britain that she finds the heads of local orphanages and workhouses and brings them to the Cyberman for the installation of the little Cyber-control ear-buds. These men then bring all the children in their charge to a warehouse to be used as a disposable workforce. Yes, you read that right a disposable workforce. Again, we’re not exactly dealing with kiddie plots here. However, once the kids show up the Cyber Lieutenant reveals his hand – the woman will be converted to be the Cyber King. However, much to his shock – she retains part of her personality and becomes a Cyber “King” who wants revenge on all the men in London for the wrongs she’s suffered as a woman. It should be noted that this is the second time in New Who a woman has been able to overcome Cyber-conversion and keep at least a part of  her own personality (In “Army of Ghosts” / “Doomsday” the female head of Torchwood resists Cyber-conversion by repeating over and over again “I must do my duty” – she resists long enough to destroy some Cybermen before being destroyed herself). Similarly, the woman in “The Next Doctor” is obsessed with the wrongs she feels she’s suffered at the hands of the men she turns over to the Cybermen. And she has no mercy towards the children she uses as a workforce. Before long a giant King Kong-like Cyber Factory is threatening London. The Next Doctor, his companion Rosita, and the Doctor fight it off. Somehow, the second half of the episode doesn’t work quite as well as the first half, even though it’s much closer to what one normally thinks of as Doctor Who. More time needed to be devoted to the woman’s motivations – What made her so desperate as to throw in her lot with the Cybermen in the first place for example? We’re left to make our own assumptions. But there are still some great moments, such as after the Doctor helps The Next Doctor (now revealed to be Jackson Lake) to rescue his son when our Doctor goes to fight the Cyber “King” by himself.

“But I should be with you.” – Next Doctor (DM)
“Jackson, you’ve got your son. You’ve got a reason to live.” – The Doctor (DT)
“And you haven’t? [They exchange a knowing and pained look] God save you, Doctor.” – Next Doctor (DM). ~ The Next Doctor (David Tennant and David Morrissey), BBC

Again, that pure angst of suggesting that The Doctor, our Doctor, has been through almost too much is palatable. But the Doctor saunters on, as always, and wins, destroying the Cyber King. Or, more precisely causing it to destroy itself.

So there is much more going on it this, the most fun and the lightest of the five specials for David Tennant’s swan song as the Doctor. I highly, highly recommend it.

The Next Doctor is available on DVD both by itself and as part of  “The Specials” collection, which also includes:  Planet of the DeadWaters of Mars, and parts 1 and 2 of The End of Time.

The Next Doctor DVD contains Doctor Who Confidential Special for The Next Doctor.  It’s the full-length version, which is a nice change from the cut-down versions usually available on NTSC discs of Doctor Who.

The Next Doctor DVD also contains Doctor Who at the Proms, which is a concert of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Chorus at the Royal Albert Hall of music from the new series of Doctor Who, written by Murray Gold. Besides hearing a full philharmonic orchestra play wonderful Doctor Who music, there’s big screens with scenes from the series timed to the music and actors in full costume. It’s wonderful to watch.  And the amazing thing is the kids – there are several shots of the kids in the audience and they are completely enthralled by what they are seeing. Some of them look to be as young as four or five years old, and here they are, at a symphony! And completely and totally enjoying it too! Wow!

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Good Companion

  • Title: The Good Companion
  • Author: Nick Abadzis
  • Artists: Giorgia Sposito, Adele Matera, Arianna Florean, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line:  Tenth Doctor (Year 3 – “Facing Fate”, Vol. 3)
  • Characters: Tenth Doctor, Gabby Gonzales, Cindy Wu, Anubis (“Noobis”), Cleo
  • Collection Date: 2018
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 08/07/2018

**Spoiler Alert** I loved the conclusion to Titan Comics Tenth Doctor Year Three series. It wrapped up everything and even tied into the Free Comic Book Day Event for 2018. The Good Companion starts with Cleo chasing a hidden alien. She catches him, but when his Shimmer shield evaporates he is attacked and destroyed. Cleo, however, finds an alien device that he was hiding. When she looks at the data on the device, she’s shocked and immediately calls the Doctor.

Meanwhile, the Doctor, Cindy, and Gabby are on Ouloumos, Zhe’s private moon. Gabby is learning to control her Block Transfer Computations powers, while the Doctor and Cindy are there for moral support. But Cindy is getting bored. The Doctor is trying to be supportive and not feel too confined by staying in the same place. To keep himself busy, the Doctor is trying to repair Marcie, whom he describes to Cindy as a highly advanced robot. When the Doctor casually remarks that he needs the right parts to repair Marcie, Cindy urges him to take a quick trip in the TARDIS and that they won’t be missed. Sigh. “The trouble with time travel is never having enough time.”

The Doctor and Cindy head to Mechma Onzlo III space station where Onzlo is happy to see him – because his wife is not his wife. Before the Doctor can investigate, Marteek confirms this and heads off in a flying saucer that makes a TARDIS-like sound as it takes off. The Doctor and Cindy start to follow in the TARDIS to track Marteek. Meanwhile, Noobis is still at the library on Aramuko with his girlfriend, Siffhoni, who needles him – he decides to call the Doctor to pick him up to prove the Doctor exists. Not to be outdone – Gabby realizes the Doctor is gone and gets angry, but she is able to control her vortex butterflies and Block Transfer powers. And the Doctor gets an emergency message in the TARDIS.

Leaving Marteek’s trail, for now, the Doctor goes to Earth to see Cleo who shows him the alien artifact, which says the Earth will cease to exist within a few days. The information and device seem to be legitimate – but Cindy points out that it can’t be since they’ve been to Earth’s future.

Gabby is kidnapped by the Time Sentinels. When Zhe tries to contact the Doctor about this – he literally is too busy to answer her call, what with the Earth about to be destroyed and the cloister bell ringing because Noobis wants the Doctor to come and pick him up.

Gabby’s experiences with the Time Sentinels are exceedingly well-told. First, everything is black and then red and she’s confronted by an Ood that has a mysterious message for her. When she wakes up, she’s being held by the Time Sentinels. Aspect Red has gone way beyond his programming and wants to destroy the Doctor whom he sees as a threat to the Web of Time. The Time Sentinels want to convince Gabby to be a weapon against the Doctor. Hint: it won’t work.

The Doctor, meanwhile, realises the box Cleo has is a trap, as he tells Cindy: “Earth’s supposed destruction is a piece of cheese. We’re the mouse. Question is: Who’s the Cat that set the trap?” The Doctor and Cindy go to pick up Noobis. When Noobis sees Cleo it starts a cascade of his memories.

Gabby is hounded and harassed by the Time Sentinels, but she also finds an ally (of sorts) in Aspect Blue who realises that Aspect Red is going beyond his programming. Gabby is knocked out and wakes in a cell with the real Marteek.

On Zhe’s moon, as Cleo and Cindy catch-up over a meal and become closer, the Time Sentinels plans start to come together – and it’s not good for the Doctor.

The Doctor and Siffhoni have a heart to heart and she warms up to the Doctor. A giant red maw appears above Zhe’s moon. The Doctor challenges the Time Sentinels. Gabby attacks the Red Sentinel and has a chat with the Lock-Keeper. Aspect Red sees creativity as chaos and has become convinced the Doctor can no longer exist because he inspires the creativity and the strength of his companions. Aspect Red is knocked out – and Blue becomes Commander. (His level-headed approach is short-lived.) The Doctor gets Marcie working and introduces Cleo and Cindy to Marcie. The Doctor asks Marcie to find the temporal track of “Marteek’s” ship. In her cell, Gabby meets the real Marteek. As the Doctor makes contact, he hears part of Gabby’s warnings that, “It’s a trap”, and the Doctor threatens the time Sentinels.

Commander Blue is taken out, Aspect Red resumes control. But in the TARDIS, the Doctor realises something is off about Siffhoni – it turns out she is another aspect of Sentinel Aspect Blue. This really angers Noobis, because he sees his relationship with his “girlfriend” was fake. But Blue does get to explain a bit.

The Doctor with Marcie’s help puts together a Time Cone Inverter, but he will need a second time capsule to get it to work.

Meanwhile, the Time Sentinels and the Lock-Keeper fight among themselves, and the Red TARDIS shows up which infected Aspect Red. However, the Red TARDIS provides an escape for Gabby and Marteek. Not the best escape, mind you, but any port in a storm.

Marcie stops the Red TARDIS from ramming the Doctor’s TARDIS, and Gabby and Marteek are temporarily safe in the TARDIS. However, Gabby talks the Doctor into letting her go to the Red TARDIS again so the Time Cone Inverter maneuver will work. Aspect Blue goes to help. Gabby has picked up some advanced Gallifreyan time mechanics and math, which the Doctor doesn’t understand. Even with her Block Transfer Computation powers, she shouldn’t understand Gallifreyan engineering. However, there is little time to argue about it and Blue and Gabby go into the Red TARDIS to anchor it. Marcie starts the Time Cone Invertor and Noobis assures the Maw and the pocket universe collapse together – trapping all the traps in their own trap, ending the danger of the Time Sentinels, and assuring that the Gallifreyian Time Lock remains locked and safe. Gabby reaches out for the Tenth Doctor but falls away – and is caught in the TARDIS by the Twelfth Doctor.

I loved The Good Companion it’s a complex story but it’s not confusing to read. I liked the characterization and I was glad Gabby didn’t die in the end. The story also really, really, really moved fast – with so much going on at once that even the Doctor was having trouble keeping track of everything. (Marteek not being Marteek, Cleo’s message, Noobis calling for a ride home, and Zhe trying to reach the Doctor to tell him Gabby’s been kidnapped – all pretty much happen at the same time. Even a Time Lord can’t be four places at once!) I also liked the way the Time Sentinels and their Aspects were written. They are an awful enemy – and I mean that in the best possible way, the Time Sentinels are scary. I also liked how the scenes in Gabby’s point-of-view were written, and the mysterious messenger turns out to be someone very unexpected indeed.

I highly, highly recommend The Good Companion but it is absolutely necessary to read all three volumes at once and in order.

Read my review of Year 3: Facing Fate Vol. 1: Breakfast at Tyranny’s.

Read my review of Year 3: facing Fate Vol. 2: Vortex Butterflies.

Book Review – Doctor Who: Vortex Butterflies

  • Title: Vortex Butterflies
  • Author: Nick Abadzis
  • Artists: Giorgia Sposito, Iolanda Zanfardino, Arianna Florean, Nicola Right, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line:  Tenth Doctor (Year 3 – “Facing Fate”, Vol. 2)
  • Characters: Tenth Doctor, Gabby Gonzales, Cindy Wu, Anubis (“Noobis”)
  • Collection Date: 2018
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 08/04/2018

**Spoiler Alert** Vortex Butterflies is the second volume in the third year of Titan Comics Tenth Doctor Series. It opens in ancient China, where Cindy Wu gives each of her 500 clone daughters a name. Gabby Gonzales, meanwhile, is dealing with the aftermath of seeing her best friend die – even if it was “only” one of her clones. But the TARDIS is also acting weird, so the TARDIS Team leave in a hurry and travel through the universe again – a time summarised by Gabby’s art in her notebook. Noobis decides to stay at the Xenopsychology Library of Aramuko – someplace the Doctor recommends for healing. The Doctor then drops Gabby and Cindy off at an apartment in London, where they have everything they need, while he follows some strange signals in the TARDIS and tries to discover what’s wrong with it.

Cindy and Gabby meet Sarah Jane Smith, which is awesome. Gabby enrolls in short-term art classes, and Cindy is feeling a bit left out, though she gets along well with Sarah. Gabby also has a few incidents of uncontrolled Vortex Energy and Block Transfer butterfly production – which confuses her, but she recovers quickly.

Meanwhile, the Doctor lands his TARDIS on Mechma Onzlo III Station and picks up a Xerobian gadget which he names Marcie. Marcie is half technology, half sounding-board, and adorable! As Cindy and Gabby settle in with Sarah Jane in London, Noobis relaxes at his library and meets a new friend, the Doctor and Marcie set out in the TARDIS to follow the mysterious signals that are interfering with the TARDIS’s ability to travel in the time/space vortex. The Doctor takes the TARDIS to an extremely empty area of space and Marcie finds the signal but has trouble creating a recognizable form for the Doctor, such as an illustration. The Doctor looks outside the TARDIS and sees a new system with an accretion disk. He lands the TARDIS on the orbiting asteroid. There he is confronted by a being who claims to be a future version of Gabby – a version the Doctor abandoned there. This being starts to attack Gabby in London, but Sarah temporarily isolates Gabby’s time signature which allows her to fight back. And the Doctor, although Marcie is destroyed (whimper!) leaves in the TARDIS.

However, the last page features the round-headed people in a cave from volume one, Breakfast at Tyranny’s, who are out to establish a case against the Doctor.

Vortex Butterflies has some wonderful art – the Vortex Creature at first appears to look like the Third Doctor Doctor Who television series credits. The Tenth Doctor also meets up with the Twelfth Doctor, an unexpected cameo that I really enjoyed. I also really loved seeing Sarah Jane, and she’s perfectly in character (and mentions her work from the series The Sarah Jane Adventures). Gabby, Cindy, and even Noobis are more in character and actually have more to do than they have for a while (even when Cindy and Gabby are essentially on vacation in London). It’s just a fun, enjoyable read. Vortex Butterflies is a great graphic novel and highly recommended.