Book Review – Doctor Who: Speed of Flight

  • Title: Speed of Flight
  • Series: Virgin Publishing Missing Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Paul Leonard
  • Characters:  Third Doctor, Jo Grant, Capt. Mike Yates
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 5/12/2014

Speed of Flight is a Third Doctor adventure featuring Jo Grant and Mike Yates, from Virgin Publishing’s Doctor Who The Missing Adventures. This novel started really slow, too much time was spent introducing the planet where the TARDIS will first arrive. So much so that I found myself just waiting for the Doctor to arrive.

When we first see Jo Grant, though, she isn’t with the Doctor and she isn’t in the TARDIS – she’s on her way to a blind date – only to discover she’s been set up with Mike Yates. The two laugh about their date, only to be called back to UNIT.

There, the Doctor offers Mike a trip in the TARDIS with Jo. He promises the two a wonderful adventure, someplace romantic, but they end up on the planet described in the first few chapters.

Things don’t go well on the planet at all – the TARDIS lands on a platform in a tree, and Mike takes a tumble off the edge. Fortunately, the planet has extremely low gravity – however, while the Doctor goes to rescue Mike – Jo, naturally, doesn’t obey instructions to “stay in the TARDIS” and before long everyone is separated.

The planet is very strange – and trying to piece together what’s going on takes a bit. There are three life-forms, who, at first, seem to be separate races: The Dead, Men, The Naieen, and one introduced at the end. Needless to say what’s actually going on is quite complicated.

And, I must say, once things started to be explained – the world and it’s people fit together nicely, and it was a pretty unique society.

There is a fair amount of violence in the book as well.

Overall, though I found Speed of Flight incredibly slow going, it was a pretty good Doctor Who story, and fans will enjoy it.

Note: I somehow missed this one when uploading reviews so it’s slightly out of order.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Ghosts of N-Space

  • Title: The Ghosts of N-Space
  • Series: Virgin Publishing Missing Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Barry Letts
  • Characters:  Third Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith, The Brigadier
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 7/03/2014

The Ghosts of N-Space is part of The Missing Adventures series of original Doctor Who stories. It is also a novelization of a radio play that aired on BBC Radio 2 in 1995, starring Jon Pertwee, Elisabeth Sladen, and Nicholas Courtney. And it was a wonderfully fun book to read.

I enjoyed this story immensely – it felt like an episode of the series, and was simply enjoyable to read.
Sarah Jane has decided to try her hand at writing a novel, but has developed a severe case of writer’s block. Her friend, Jeremy, has, meanwhile gotten tickets for a trip to Italy and suddenly has no one to take with him. He approaches Sarah, and soon the two are off.

Meanwhile, the Brigadier has discovered he’s the last surviving relative of an Italian Lord of the Manor, or in this case, castello – as well as the tiny Island it sits on.

Sarah Jane, the Brigadier, and Jeremy run into each other and begin investigating the ghosts of the Castello. The Brigadier calls in the Doctor (Jon Pertwee, the Third Doctor).

And the romp is on — a haunted castle, mobsters, long-lost relatives, alternate dimensions, fiends from hell, and the possible end of the world. It’s actually all good fun and feels very much like vintage Doctor Who. And I sped through this book.

I don’t want to spoil any more of the plot. It’s just a fun read. It’s closer in feel to the BBC Past Doctor Adventures line of original novels, than most of the Missing Adventures and I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much. Recommended, especially for fans of Classic Doctor Who.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Scales of Injustice

  • Title: The Scales of Injustice
  • Series: Virgin Publishing Missing Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Gary Russell
  • Characters:  Third Doctor, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Liz), UNIT
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 7/21/2014

This original Doctor Who novel features the Third Doctor (as played by Jon Pertwee) and Dr. Elizabeth (Liz) Shaw and the Silurians again. References abound not only to “Doctor Who and the Silurians”, but also “The Sea Devils” and “Warriors of the Deep”. And, as always, meetings between apes and “Earth Reptiles” do not go well.

Also the plot involves political intrigue between Parliament, the Glasshouse (the UNIT hospice), and C19. Someone wants to discredit the current head of the Glasshouse and take it over, turning it into another Vault making weapons from alien technology and in some cases from aliens themselves.

Dr. Liz Shaw finds herself embroiled in these plots when she’s contacted by a Dutch investigative reporter, who, unfortunately, turns out to be a C19 agent. Meanwhile, the Doctor is running around chasing Silurians, hoping for a better result than the last time.

The Silurian plot seems very repetitive, but it turns out slightly better than normal for most stories involving the intelligent previous intelligent species from Earth. The other main purpose of the novel is to give Dr. Liz Shaw a better send off. I enjoyed that part of the book. Actually, this book seems to be more of a book about Liz than about the Doctor – who does very little, and is mostly ineffective. Not that the book reverses the standard Doctor and Companion roles entirely – Dr. Shaw doesn’t come off as a Super Woman, but it’s a different take on an original novel.


I have the e-book version, and the cover looks like one of the Target novelisations. It was also very short, only 191 pages in e-book format. I don’t know if I read a condensed or abbreviated version, or what, but I think if it had been a bit longer, the story could have been expanded a bit, resulting in a better story. This was more like a novella.

Update: This story has been re-published in paperback as part of the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of Doctor Who. I have the reprint but have not re-read that version to see if it’s longer and/or more complex than the e-book.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Eye of the Giant

  • Title: The Eye of the Giant
  • Series: Virgin Publishing Missing Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Christopher Bulis
  • Characters:  Third Doctor, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Liz), UNIT
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 12/28/2013

NOTE: Spoilers

The Eye of the Giant moves like a freight train. It’s a fast-moving adventure story.

The Eye of the Giant is part of Virgin Publishing’s Doctor Who Missing Adventures original paperback novel series. I read the e-book version. The story features the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee), and Doctor Elizabeth Shaw (Liz), and UNIT, including Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, Sgt. Mike Yates, and Sgt. Benton. The novel begins with Liz and the Doctor working on the TARDIS council. They are interrupted by the Brigadier, who delivers a strange artifact found inside a shark in waters off New Zealand and Australia. Liz and the Doctor investigate, soon launching a time bridge to 40 years in the past.

Meanwhile, 40 years ago, a millionaire’s yacht heads for the mysterious island of Saltuna. Aboard the ship are the millionaire founder of Paragon Studios, Marshal Grover, his second wife, Nancy Norton (an actress), his daughter, Amelia, from his first marriage, Paragon’s leading man, Montgomery, Paragon’s leading director, and his cameraman, and Professor Steinberg – whom Grover’s promised a chance to investigate and make discoveries on the island, and their servants, as well as the ship’s rather large crew. The ship is heading for the island, when they are hit by a mysterious something. They manage to make it to shore, but the ship is damaged and will take days to repair.

Steinberg is excited about this since he will be able to investigate the island. He hopes to make enough discoveries to regain his status in the medical and scientific community after one of his previous experiments killed a patient.

The director, cameraman, and leading man are also excited about filming Nancy’s new film on the mysterious and exotic island. However, Nancy, who shows herself to be a spoiled brat, isn’t excited. She wants nothing to do with filming on the island, and urges her husband to leave as soon as possible.

Nancy is right in a strange way: the Island is occupied by strange, giant, creatures. A huge, giant snake attacks Nancy, but she is quickly rescued. Soon giant crabs come out of the water and fight some giant bats. Other members of the ship’s crew find giant ants.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Liz travel through the time bridge, hoping to find the origin of the mysterious artifact they are investigating at UNIT HQ. They arrive very near a volcano on the island, escape, then encounter the group from Paragon Studios. Sgt. Mike Yates also soon follows them. In trying to find the Doctor and Liz, he meets and rescues Amelia.

Before long, it becomes apparent that a UFO had crashed on the island several years ago, the pilot had been carrying stolen medical supplies. One of the ampules had broken, causing the giantism on the island. The pilot, however, had fallen down a hole, and the environmental controls of his suit had failed. Years later, Amelia Grover falls down the same hole, Mike Yates rescues her and they find what they think is a native statue. Later in the book, the alien is re-animated. However, he’s not your typical evil Doctor Who alien, like the Daleks or Cybermen. Rather he’s an old-fashioned thief who simply wants to repair his ship, get off the island and planet, and to sell what he stole.

Eventually, the Doctor helps accomplish this, as well as getting the yacht off the island, with her remaining passengers and crew. The aliens from whom the first alien had stolen the medical supplies, shoot down the ship, and the ship’s power core lands in the volcano, causing the eruption that history records happened and destroyed the island. Liz, the Doctor, Mike, and the Brigadier and his rescue party all return to HQ.

The novel could have ended there – it really should have. But when everyone returns to the present, they find a strangely altered Earth, where Nancy Norton is leader of the world, and her cult of personality has her treated as a goddess. Returning to the past, the Doctor, Liz, Mike, and Benton, must prevent or change Nancy’s fusion with the alien. They do but at a high cost of additional lives lost on the ship, including Nancy’s and Amelia’s. However, the timeline returns to normal, and the Doctor and company return to their UNIT HQ.

This was a quick and enjoyable read. However, it should have stopped when well enough ahead. I didn’t care for the last 80 pages, and I thought Nancy’s Cult of Personality wildly improbable. The method of fixing the problem was, of course, even more depressing. Still the book is a fun romp, and a quick read. I enjoyed it.

Classic Doctor Who DVD Recs – The Third Doctor

This post consists of my recommendations for Jon Pertwee, the Third Doctor, find recommendations for other Classic Doctors by following the links below.

Doctor Who reinvented itself with the appointment of Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor. Forced to regenerate by the Time Lords, the Doctor is stranded on Earth with a non-working TARDIS and his knowledge of time travel is also taken from him. The Doctor becomes the Scientific Advisor to UNIT (the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce), and works closely with Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, Captain Mike Yates, and Sgt. Benton. The Doctor gains a regular adversary as well, in the Master – a Time Lord set on conquering Earth (Played brilliantly by Roger Delgado). These Earth-based stories meant a bigger budget (since it was no longer required to build alien planets as sets) and frequently moved the show outside (hello rock quarries, stately manor houses, and quaint English villages). The show was also filmed/video-taped completely in color for the first time.

When I originally saw the Jon Pertwee stories, some of them I saw in black and white not color – these were 16mm film prints which the BBC sent for overseas viewing of the show. Though some of the color negatives of episodes were missing – all of Jon Pertwee’s stories exist as at least these 16mm prints. The Doctor Who Restoration Team were able to use the prints to restore Pertwee’s stories. Many of the color prints were also found, and it was the color stories that were released on DVD. In a very few cases where only a 16 mm black and white print existed, colorization techniques were used to re-create the original color versions of the episodes. Please see The Doctor Who Restoration Team website for more detail, or Paul Smith’s excellent book, Classic Doctor Who DVD Compendium.

By Jon Pertwee’s third season, the Doctor was traveling in Time and Space again, at the direct request of the Time Lords, and after “The Three Doctors” (opening Pertwee’s Fourth Season) his knowledge of time and space travel was officially given back to him and his TARDIS restored to working order (or at least as working as one might expect.)

And now on to the recs.

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Consisting of two Jon Pertwee stories and one Peter Davison story, Beneath the Surface collects all the stories featuring the Silurians and Sea Devils. The DVD snap cases do pull out of the cardboard slip case, though, so you can shelve them chronologically.

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The interesting thing about the Silurians (other than it being the only story where “Doctor Who” is part of the official story title) is it’s not a story about a rampaging monster that destroys “just because”, nor is it the typical mad dictator or mad scientist plot. The Silurians have their own intelligent civilization that existed before humans ever evolved. They hid away when they expected a ecological disaster to destroy their planet (well, for several thousand years) and expected to wake up after the planet had recovered naturally. However, they’ve long overslept and are awaken by atomic researchers near their cave. The Doctor attempts to negotiate a peace between the intelligent Silurians and the Humans – but warriors on both sides interfere with his plans, and in the end… Well, the Silurians are one of the most genuinely sad creatures in the Doctor Who universe. Though parts of this story are a bit slow, it’s well worth having and watching. A quick glance at Amazon.com shows this is available both in the set and separately.

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This is one of my favorite Jon Pertwee stories. The Doctor is messing with the TARDIS council and sends himself to an alternate dimension, where the Brigadier and Liz Shaw serve a dictatorship. In the alternate reality, they monitor a drilling project to obtain energy from the Earth’s mantle. Although the Doctor tries to stop the project, he is unsuccessful – and the alternate world is destroyed. Returning to his reality – the Doctor discovers, to his horror, a similar project and must try to stop it. Although the story is long (7 parts), it’s brilliantly played, especially Nicholas Courtney as the “Brigade Leader”.

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After choosing this story I thought about going back and choosing Terror of the Autons instead, but I think Mind of Evil, Delgado’s second story is over all better. The Master shows up at a prison for the criminally insane with the “Keller Machine” a device that is supposed to remove criminal impulses from the inmates – so they can rehabilitated. The Keller Machine hosts a Mind Parasite. Meanwhile, the military is in the midst of dumping an illegal nerve gas missile and nearby a peace conference is going on. The Master incites a riot at the prison, steals the missile and threatens to use it against the peace conference. This story has some of the most complex action sequences in Doctor Who – with actual army officers storming the prison. That alone sets it apart.

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The Daemons is a wonderful story, simply wonderful. The entire cast, including the Brigadier and the Master are in top form. The plot involves weird goings on at a small English village, and a race of beings who basically use magic (harnessing energy in advanced ways). It’s just a great story and definitely a Classic story to have in your collection.

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This story is included in the Beneath the Surface boxset, but can be purchased separately. The Master works with the Silurians’ aquatic cousins, the Sea Devils, to sink commercial and naval vessels, and the Doctor and Jo, as well as UNIT must stop them. There’s a lot of action, plenty of great dialogue, and a great guest cast. It’s always been a favorite.

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The Three Doctors celebrates the program’s tenth anniversary and reunites William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, and Jon Pertwee in a mission given to them directly from the Time Lords to stop Omega – another Time Lord. Once a great stellar engineer, who harnessed the power of the Eye of Harmony to give the Time Lords their power over time, he was trapped in an anti-matter universe. He’s gone power-mad and it will take all three versions of the Doctor to stop him. As a reward for his work, the Time Lords restore the Doctor’s knowledge of time and space travel and give him the needed working components of his TARDIS.

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Frontier in Space is another story that isn’t about rampaging monsters – it’s about diplomacy. The Doctor and Jo materialize in the TARDIS on a alien spaceship that is supposed to be hosting a peace conference between the warring Earth Empire and Draconia. However, they discover that the Master is also on the ship – using a hypnotic device to cause the Draconians to see his Ogron henchmen as humans and the Humans to see the Ogrons as Draconians. Basically, the Master is just messing with everyone in this episode. What I like about the story is that Jo – sweet, nice, innocent, Jo Grant really grows up in this episode and she kicks ass. Jo defeats the Master’s attempt to hypnotize her by mentally reciting nursery rhymes, she rescues the Doctor more than once, and she’s actually the one that helps the Doctor figure out exactly what the Master is up to – because the Master’s device causes her to see the Ogrons as a Drashig. Since I’ve always liked Jo, this story is special to me because it’s great to see her come into her own.

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The Green Death is Jo’s last story. The plot involves chemical waste killing miners in a Welsh village, mutant giant bugs, maggots, and et cetera, a giant corporation ruled by an evil computer called B.O.S.S., and a group of activists. Least you think that might be either too preachy or too silly – the cast, especially Nicholas Courtney, Katy Manning, Jon Pertwee, and the guest cast really make the plot work. There are just some wonderful moments in this story.

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This story introduces the Sontarians, another classic monster who will appear several times in the Classic series and will be brought back in the new series. It also introduces Sarah Jane Smith, arguably one of the most popular companions ever in Doctor Who. Here Sarah appears at her feminist best. Sarah, an independent reporter, sneaks into the TARDIS and is transported back to Medieval times, where she and the Doctor confront Linx, Sontarian warrior who’s crashed nearby.

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Jon Pertwee’s last story has a wonderful bittersweet quality to it, and the storyline brings in some unusual influences. I really like the Blue Crystals – which show up again in the Davison episodes Kinda and Snakedance. That the spiders are not the best effects is a given, but it’s still a great story and highly recommended.

There you have it ten recommendations from the Pertwee era. What Jon Pertwee stories do you recommend? Feel free to answer in the comments. Tune in tomorrow for more classic Doctor Who recommendations.