…with a Docback dedicated to Robot of Sherwood, the third installment of DOCTOR WHO Season/Series 8.
We learned yesterday that BBC is censoring this one in light a recent events, a move I don’t support too strongly. Not for some precious reason like ‘DOCTOR WHO is being desecrated’ - but because a decision like the one BBC made this week is, essentially, giving in to bullying. And that’s a certain way to loose a battle, and one’s footing, in the bigger picture. But that’s just my perspective.
RoS finds the Doctor and Clara meeting Robin Hood (who may or may not be real) and his “Merry Men” (who may or may not be real) squaring off against The Sheriff of Nottingham (who may or may not be real) and his goomba enforcers (who look very cool)…
…in the fabled Sherwood Forest.
Look for a fluffy and often amusing outing, with a closing scene which ever-so-briefly pings WHO mythology in an interesting (potentially foreshadowing?) sorta way.
BEYOND THE MARQUEE’S LINDALEE HAS BEEN COVERING DOCTOR WHO…
…for TWO YEARS!?!?!?! In the words of the mighty Ralph Wiggum, “That’s unpossible!”
But, evidently it’s true. And to commemorate the occasion, she recently offered this amusing take on last week’s Into the Dalek.
I’ve noticed a few folks charging that Into the Dalek felt like “filler” - I’m not understanding that perspective at all. Considering ItD’s expiration of the Doctor’s uncertainty about himself, Clara’s admitted uncertainty about the Doctor, the introduction of Rusty the Dalek and how his plight might feasibly impact future WHO mythology, and the introduction of soon-to-be-important Danny Pink, the episode seemed hugely relevant and un-fillery. And, it felt very nicely balanced and smoothly executed. That’s a lot of substance to cram into a short period of time - no an easy task, and rather deftly executed four my money.
But I digress. Mammoth congratulations to Lindalee for all of her hard work and dedication to both her show, and to DOCTOR WHO in general. If you want to see her recent exploration of the DOCTOR WHO-themed PANDORICA restaurant near New York City, click HERE. A whole restaurant themed to DOCTOR WHO. A lovely notion to be sure, but I can’t shake the first, perhaps most obvious, and sadly very, very cynical question here: wonder how licensing is working out on this one?
DOCTOR WHO BIG FINISH AUDIOS NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE / DIGITALLY - FOR A RELATIVELY LOW MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION PRICE
I haven’t had a chance to look into this too deeply myself, but a newish online subscription service named Skybrite is offering a number of Big Finish audio adventures (the same line HornOrSilk reviews) for a monthly subscription price of $9.99.
Rather, it’s $9.99 monthly for the whole service - which includes numerous audio books and programs - and quite a few Big Finish DW stories are included in that price.
Skybrite is currently offering a 7 day free trial HERE.
HORNORSILK REVIEWS THE REVENGE OF THE SWARM BIG FINISH AUDIO
Big Finish 189 – Revenge of the Swarm
By: Jonathan Morris
Just as when Season 8 brought us Into the Dalek, which parallels a great deal from the Tom Baker story, The Invisible Enemy, Big Finish brings us a sequel to The Invisible Enemy. Now some vocal fans of the show do not like the way Doctor Who constantly references itself and its past, thinking it prevents the show from moving forward. I strongly disagree with this view, as long as the references to the past do not, in themselves, keep the show in check. They are a good way to show how the Doctor is affected by what he does, and that, just like in real life, the sins and virtues of the past have a way of repeating themselves in the future.
But Big Finish, on the other hand, has slowly evolved so that they take on more and more stories from the Doctor’s past, and write not just nods to them, but outright sequels. Here, things get a bit more dicey. I think the audio series, especially because of how many stories are produced a year, are a good place for this. It is something which should be done. The Big Finish outlet is a way to show, even more, how the Doctor’s successes are not always complete and that he often has to deal with the mistakes of the past ( hmm – just what the Capaldi Doctor said, though what he meant I think differs from the kinds of mistakes Big Finish deal with). Nonetheless, even with Big Finish, there needs to be a middle ground. At times it feels as there is too much of this going on, especially when what is brought back are foes which I never felt needed a new story [where is my Kandyman tale?]. Yet, with the output, and the arcs being made for each Doctor, it has yet to go too far: I think they could do a bit less of this than they do, but not much more.
This brings us to Revenge of the Swarm. I never was much of a fan of The Invisible Enemy. It wasn’t a terrible tale, but it was never one which excited me either. Into the Dalek was a thematic continuation, and I believe, far better than The Invisible Enemy. We get more into the psyche of the Dalek and its construction, but also, we get into the psyche of the Doctor, more than in The Invisible Enemy. While there were elements of retread going on, it is the revelation of the Doctor’s character, the corruption he sees within himself which he is fighting, that is key to the story and what raises it up in my estimate. Revenge of the Swarm on the other hand, deals with the “villain” of the past, one which did not engage me before; here, because of how it is handled, it is more engaging (no need to go inside the body of the Doctor again) but yet I feel the elements I appreciate of this story could have been done without the Swarm and maybe created a new, and more interesting foe.
Hector (formerly Hex), is an incomplete person; his mind is cut up into parts, with a lot of empty spaces in his mind due to the fact that his memories as Hex, and qualities which he had as Hex, have been taken away from him. This has given the Swarm, the intelligent virus which took over the Doctor in the Fourth Doctor era, a means of re-establishing itself in the universe. We find out that the virus was not completely wiped out, and had found a place within the TARDIS to wait until it could find the perfect host. It followed the adventures of the Doctor, learned what it could from the TARDIS, connecting itself to the TARDIS’s computers, so that when Hector was chosen to be its vessel back into the world, the Swarm had control over the TARDIS, able to manipulate it through thought alone. This has made the Swarm more dangerous than ever before: it can use Hector to determine where the TARDIS will land, but also it can use its access to the TARDIS to free itself from any danger or trap the Doctor would set up for it within the TARDIS and he can even find a way to lock the Doctor out.
The only way the Doctor and Ace can deal with the threat is to let the Swarm control the destiny of the TARDIS and confront it is outside the TARDIS and where it seemingly wants to be. Since the Swarm is capable of spreading itself as it is a virus, this makes the situation more than a little difficult, for the Swarm, like the Doctor, is able to set up traps, to use plans within plans, to try to create its own final form, slowly controlling the people around the Doctor as it infects them and turns them into its agents.
This story comes to us in two parts, similar to the first Doctor story, The Ark. The TARDIS lands at the Titan base, where it plans to be there at its own creation. Why does it feel it must do this? Who is the vessel of its creation? Is its plan really to witness its own genesis, to make sure it happens and nothing gets in the way, or is there something more it wants?
The second part deals with the aftermath of the first. The Doctor and his crew leave Titan, only to return there, much, much later. What, exactly, is the reason for the return visit, and how does it connect to the Swarm? In the second part, we find the answer, in a way which I think is well done, and really, introduces a kind of threat I am surprised we have not seen done in Doctor Who before: think computers and three-dimensional printers and the problems they could have, and magnify that with technological advances we do not have today.
There is much to like about this story. Both “parts” of the story work well independently, while I must say, the second part I enjoyed more than the first, with its unique twist. But, even more interesting, is that John Leeson is able to come back, not as K9, but as the Nucleus of the Swarm. Now, I admit, as I’m not much of a fan of The Invisible Enemy this isn’t my favorite Big Finish story, but I think it sustained itself better than I expected, and this was because of the way the Swarm was able to be changed and incorporate new experiences and realities into its being. We are not given another journey “inside the Doctor,” indeed, he has anti-bodies so the Swarm cannot infect him, but we have been given a new way for the Swarm to be a legitimate threat, justifying the story itself. Not every villain, even of classic stories, can have that said of them (even if an attempt to give them another story is had, and fails)
Sylvester McCoy does a good job as a Doctor who is normally in control finding himself dealing with a creature as crafty and as far-reaching as he. Sophie Aldred does a fair job as Ace, especially when dealing with the changes going on in Hector, and the mixed emotions which she has for him. And Philip Olivier does a great job as Hector, both the Swarm-controlled Hector, but also the humanized Hector who is striving to be himself, not just in opposition to the Swarm, but in opposition to the “sainted” Hex whose life he feels as distant to himself as any other. Yet, beneath the Hector-Hex distinction some of the same problems he has had with the Doctor remain. People die. Yes, the team does some good, but people die, and it’s something he can’t handle too well. And, at the end, the Doctor once again gives the “ideal” reprieve, a vacation he believes will help Hector recuperate (which, I fear, foretells another problem for Hector).
While Into the Dalek can be seen as a New Who thematic continuation of The Invisible Enemy (and done quite well, with a very dark and foreboding Doctor), we have a sequel to the story itself here. As I have indicated, of the two, I preferred Into the Dalek. Yet, this story is no simple continuation of what happened before, that is, it is not a pastiche of The Invisible Enemy. For this I am grateful. The secondary characters, who I have not introduced (and since there are two sets of them, find problematic to do so without spoiling too much of the plot itself) are done well, especially in the second cd, and here, I find Morris did better with his secondary characters in this story than New Who did with Into the Dalek. I give this a slightly better than average 7.5/10. It is enjoyable, though it takes the second disc to really shine.
DOCBACK CODE OF CONDUCT
1) a Docback should be about completely open and free discourse regarding all things WHO with, obviously, some variation on subject matter from time to time - the real world intervenes, discussions of other shows are inevitable, etc....
2) converse, agree, disagree, and question as much as you want - but the freedom to do so is NOT a license to be rude, crass, disrespectful, or uncivilized in any way. Not remaining courteous and civil, as well as TROLLING or undertaking sensational efforts to ignite controversy, will result in banning. Lack of courtesy may receive one (1) warning before a ban is instigated. Obvious Trolling or Spamming will result in summary banning with no warning.