DOCTOR WHO very much occupied my week this week, although not in ways which’ll be immediately evident on the Docback. No, this doesn’t mean ‘set visits’ or anything like that...just some BTS, procedural, getting ducks in a row kinda stuff.
Thanks to the exceptional efforts of Docbacker HornOrSilk, we have an awesome write-up of the Big Finish audio The Sands of Life, and I’ve pulled together some odds and ends from WHOverse happenings this week for your consideration as well.
In the coming weeks we’ll visit The Ark in Space (T. Baker, Story #76), and re-visit The Reign of Terror (Hartnell, Story #8) and The Aztecs (Hartnell, Story #6), both of which been recently restored and re-issued on DVD. Also, look for an expansion of our Docbacker-contributed review feature...presuming everything falls into place properly.
THE 10TH PLANET & ICE WARRIORS ANIMATED RESTORATION TEASED!!
The long-missing 4th episode from of The 10th Planet (Hartnell, Story #29) is being animated and released via a restored DVD version soon. Fans in Australia got a glimpse of said work, some of which is evidenced below.
You can find more samples HERE, with actual video of the animation coming to DoctorWho.tv very soon. The 10th Planet is a Cyberman episode which also marks William Hartnell’s regeneration into Patrick Troughton’s version of the Doctor.
The Ice Warriors (Troughton, Story #39) will enjoy a similar rebuild...in that case two of six episodes are currently missing. Here’s a newly-issued look at the animated recovery of that story, work in progress.
We recently learned that these Ice Warrior guys would be appearing in an upcoming Matt Smith-era episode from Mark Gatiss.
This same animation/restoration process recently ‘completed’ The Reign of Terror - an effort we’ll be examining more fully in two(ish) weeks.
SEASON/SERIES 7B TEASED WITH PSEUDO (NON-SPOILERY) DETAILS AND NEW PROMO ART!!
BBC has issued a brief statement about the upcoming batch of Season/Series 7 DOCTOR WHO episodes. The show returns March 30th, with...
The Bells of St. John, written by lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat (Sherlock). Set in London against the backdrop of new and old iconic landmarks – The Shard and Westminster Bridge – The Bells of St. John introduces a new nemesis, the Spoonheads, who battle the Doctor as he discovers something sinister is lurking in the Wi-Fi.
The premiere will be followed by seven epic episodes written by Steven Moffat, acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman (Coraline, Beowulf), Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), Neil Cross (Luther) and Stephen Thompson (Sherlock). The Doctor (Matt Smith) is joined by his new companion Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) for the latest set of incredible adventures through space and time. The duo finds new adversaries and familiar friends around every corner as they journey from the bottom of the ocean in a submarine to the center of the TARDIS and beyond.
The Cybermen make a thunderous return and the Ice Warrior arrives in an unexpected place. Steven Moffat, executive producer and lead writer, said,“It's the 50th year of Doctor Who and look what's going on! We're up in the sky and under the sea! We're running round the rings of an alien world and then a haunted house. There's new Cybermen, new Ice Warriors and a never before attempted journey to the centre of the TARDIS. And in the finale, the Doctor's greatest secret will at last be revealed! If this wasn't already our most exciting year it would be anyway!”
Here's the new promo poster for the this episode, roughly in-keeping with the 'cinematic one sheet' art DW has been utilizing this year. This image is EMBIGGENABLE!
HORNORSILK REVIEWS DOCTOR WHO -THE SANDS OF LIFE- FROM BIG FINISH AUDIO!!
It. Has. DAVID. FUCKING. WARNER!! Huzzah!!!
Fourth Doctor Adventures 2.2 – The Sands of Life
A new president of a united Earth is warned of immediate “invasion” by millions of unknown, intelligent time-and space-faring “manatees” (the Laan). Romana, on the TARDIS, finds herself in telepathic contact with them. They want to go to “The Sands of Life,” in the Sahara, where, like Salmon, they return in order to spawn. Their journey to the Earth is disruptive, causing accidental harm to Earth vessels as well as causing interference in the TARDIS. The Doctor, Romana, and Earth authorities all come to investigate, each with a different interest and concern. What should be done with these manatees, the Laan?
This is a hard one to rate because it serves as the beginning of a long story (the rest of this “season” of the Fourth Doctor Adventures). The end of the cd is not even the end of the story – we end with a cliffhanger, so we cannot judge this “story” properly because it is not complete. And because this adventure serves as a starting point for the rest of the season, not just this story, we get a several introductory elements which make the “story” itself seem less fresh than it could be.
Nonetheless, this is an enjoyable cd. There are several good things going on here. First, unlike several other FDAs, I believe the “feel” is right with this one. Tom Baker and Mary Tamm and John Leeson have been given material which suits them. And, after the first few minutes, the story comes at us with a good pace, making it feel as if there is little to no padding and helping one to accept the clichés which are being brought into play in order to create various new characters. And there are two significant characters here: President Moorkurk, played by Hayley Atwell, and Cuthbert, the CEO of “The Conglomerate,” a powerful corporation which has significant influence on the policies and practices of the Earth. President Moorkurk is seeking to bring the Earth free from the political control Cuthbert has found for himself, but, as a new president, in the middle of an unusual crisis, there is little she can do.
One could compare elements of this story with “Caves of Androzani,” because of the way we see the CEO of a corporation trying to keep himself in power over and against a new president. But, the way the two interrelate differs here. While we do not get a full sense of Cuthbert here, he does not seem as obviously vile as Trau Morgus. He clearly has plans of his own which will emerge through this season. We get a sense he can be ruthless, however, he also shows more intelligence than a lot of corporate leaders in Doctor Who: he tries to get the Doctor to work for him. He’s more charismatic, not so obviously evil, when he is engaging those he seeks to control. It’s a great part for David Warner, and I look forward to seeing that role expand. As I mentioned before, there are clichés here, but there seems to be something new a fresh going on with them, as can be seen with the way Cuthbert tries to recruit the Doctor to his cause (of course, when the Doctor turns him down, Cuthbert becomes more devious and threatens the Doctor and Romana: they are illegal aliens, with no rights, and so could be easily given to authorities for dissection!)
President Moorkurk is a typical reformer caught in a situation which they did not expect: she is challenged to work with Cuthbert, someone she was critical of in her rise to power. She seems to more in the right than not in ideals, and wants to change things for the better, but the tough situation so far seems to be beyond her and her ability to lead. The military and Cuthbert both seem to have her at her wit’s end. I expect this will change in future stories, probably with the Doctor’s help, but here, she is not as strong as she would wish, and I think that is itself an interesting twist.
The Doctor and Romana, once again, are split off from each other, and get to play to their own strengths against their interrogators. It is effective here, especially since the Laan have a connection with Romana and not the Doctor.
The plot isn’t anything exceptional, but the production values and interesting twists on clichés nonetheless make this work. I would give it 7.5 – 8/10.
NEXT WEEK: HornOrSilk explores the Big Finnish audio Spaceport Fear!
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