The Cosmic Hobo

Thoughts & reviews about the science fiction series Doctor Who.

Archive for the category “seventh doctor”

Audio Review: Colditz

“Colditz” (Big Finish #25)
Written by Steve Lyons, directed by Gary Russell
Featuring the Doctor, Ace, and Nazis

Rating: C+

If asked who my favorite Doctor Who writer was, I would not have to hesitate much to say Steve Lyons. Sure, he has never written a story for the show; his work is entirely in audios and novels, but up until “Colditz,” I had never given a single thing he has written anything less than four out of five stars, or in the case of this blog, a B. Unfortunately, that streak comes to an end with this audio, which is still slightly above average.

The Doctor fighting the Nazis is something that happens A LOT in Doctor Who. Even the novel Illegal Alien that I reviewed recently featured the same cast fighting Nazis in the same war. This same wonderful TARDIS team also tackled the Nazis in Timewyrm: Exodus by Uncle Terry, in a very strong novel. and there are likely at least a dozen others that aren’t immediately coming to mind. Unfortunately, this one isn’t as good as either Timewyrm: Exodus or Illegal Alien.

“Colditz” is essentially the story of the Doctor and Ace showing up in World War II, and the Nazis see that they have a time machine and want it, so they capture the Doctor and Ace so that they can use the TARDIS to turn the tide of the war in its waning days. There is more to it than that, but the meat of the story is that. It’s not a bad plot, but having previously been floored with enthusiasm over my previous readings and listening of Lyons, I have come to expect something more awe-inspiring.

There are some good performances. As always, Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred are brilliant with perfect chemistry, and it is also pretty cool to hear David Tennant perform in a Doctor Who role several years before he would become a very solid Tenth Doctor. Beyond the above average performances, though, I think this was really just an average story. Hardly as good as everyone else seems to think, but certainly enjoyable. I still love Steve Lyons.

Book Review: Illegal Alien by Mike Tucker & Robert Perry

Illegal Alien by Mike Tucker & Robert Perry
Past Doctor Adventures #5 – Seventh Doctor
Featuring the Doctor, Ace, and the Cybermen

Rating: A-

Being that it was just on the top of my pile of assorted Doctor Who books, I dove right into Illegal Alien without so much as reading the blurb on the back. I had no idea what I was getting into, and didn’t do any of my usual research into the reception to the novel or anything else before giving it a read. As it turns out, I found Illegal Alien to be a deeply enjoyable novel that is a cut above the average Doctor Who tie-in.

Mike Tucker and Robert Perry, the writers of the novel, are known for having written a whole slew of Doctor Who novels. Although several of them have been written as a duo, they have also have written a few by themselves. If my research is correct, Illegal Alien is based on a proposed Season 27 script that never had a chance to be made. Whether this means it will eventually be adapted as a part of the Lost Stories audio line remains to be seen, but the quality of this novel is so high that I don’t think it needs to be adapted into any other form.

Tucker and Perry capture the feeling of an old hard-boiled detective story, with every bit of echoing of any number of Humphrey Bogart movies. The setting is London in 1940 during the Blitzkrieg, and McBride is an ex-patriot American detective who sits in his office drinking whiskey while he watches the bombs fall. The narrative brilliantly establishes the mood right away, and I knew from the end of the first chapter I was going to enjoy it.

An alien ship crash lands, and everyone is convinced that it is the work of Nazi scientists. Of course, the Doctor and Ace show up to tell everyone otherwise, and in the meantime get thrust into a plot that involves Cybermen and Nazis trying to cause a bit of trouble for both the Doctor and Ace. Unfortunately, despite a few moments of typical bad-assery, Ace spends the majority of the story getting captured and getting out just in time to be retained again, but both characters are very brilliantly written.

There is some padding here and there, and a good 30 or so pages of trimming could have made this a bit better. Perhaps one of the various companion-in-peril chapters could have been trimmed, but this is a minor qualm. Tucker and Perry write the Seventh Doctor picture perfectly, and they create supporting characters that are not only believable, but mostly likable. There are a few twists here and there that do a good job of holding interest while moving the plot along. There isn’t a lot here in terms of great canon or anything so drastic as that, but it is a deeply enjoyable romp. A really solid Cyberman story that I could see myself revisiting down the line.

Edit Note: On thinking about the story some more, I’ve decided to boost the rating from a B+ to an A-. I couldn’t justify this novel not having an A in front of it, despite the very minor issues.

Serial Review: Silver Nemesis (Season 25)

“Silver Nemesis”
Written by Kevin Clarke, directed by Chris Clough
Featuring the Doctor, Ace, and the Cybermen

Rating: C+

I’m a bit out of order, but after watching for review and absolutely adoring “Remembrance of the Daleks” on the podcast, I’ve been in a Sylvester McCoy sort of mood. Having already watched (and enjoyed) “The Happiness Patrol,” it was “Silver Nemesis” time. I’m a big fan of the Cybermen as Doctor Who villains, but rather negative reaction to this serial made me a little nervous going in.

I think by this point in the series they should have been able to go beyond the formula of having the main villain’s appearance as the cliffhanger at the end of the first part. Unfortunately, “Silver Nemesis” does use this standard method, with the Cybermen landing in their ship (which strangely resembles a snow speeder from The Empire Strikes Back) and shocking everyone except the viewer. Cliffhangers in classic Doctor Who are often very irritating, and this continues the tradition.

That being said, as it turned out, I don’t think this was quite as bad as everybody else does. Sure, the Cybermen here die from a simple bow and arrow, or a gold coin, and sure, the mediaeval-ish people are pretty hammy, but I still found this to be a delightfully fun little romp. There’s something about the on-screen chemistry of Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor and Sophie Aldred as Ace that makes just about everything they are in at least mildly enjoyable and entirely watchable. And call me crazy, but I love the music. It’s so terribly 80’s in every single way, and that’d kind of what I like about it.

By the point in McCoy’s run, the Doctor is becoming more and more dark and manipulative. I love this. This is really my first experience with a Doctor that actually changes in his character of the course of his run (not counting audios, in which both the Fifth and Sixth slowly become different people), and I think the character development is great. The Seventh Doctor is in serious danger of unseating Patrick Troughton as my favorite.

Book Review: Past Doctor Adventures – The Hollow Men by Keith Topping & Martin Day

The Hollow Men by Keith Topping & Martin Day
Past Doctor Adventures #10 – Seventh Doctor
Featuring the Doctor, Ace, & evil scarecrows

Rating: D

After having watched and totally fell in love with “Remembrance of the Daleks,” I had a burning desire to read a Seventh Doctor and Ace novel, and this one was on the top of the stack of used Past Doctor Adventures I acquired a while ago. I picked it because it was the earliest chronologically of the ones I owned, but unfortunately I chose incorrectly.

The Doctor and Axe find themselves in a small England town called Hexen Bridge, where the children are brilliant but people die pretty much spontaneously and mysteriously. If you took a look at the cover, you would also see that there are evil scarecrows about.

The book starts absolutely terribly. The dialogue in the prologue is painfully bad, so much so that I almost put the book down at about page 20 or so. Once the meat of the novel gets started, I actually found myself very interested in the story. The Doctor has a previous involvement in this little town during one his previous incarnations, and I found myself intrigued at the idea and anxious to find out more.

Unfortunately, by about the 100 page mark, the book essentially becomes a crossover between Days of Our Lives and Sleepy Hollow. It honestly ends up feeling about like what a season long arc of any soap opera would be. There are tons of characters, but practically none of them have any interesting qualities whatsoever. One-dimensional characters are hardly unheard of in Doctor Who, but they usually are characters only there to serve the purpose of moving the plot forward. Unfortunately, The Hollow Men is a very character heavy story with not a lot of plot, and yet still the characters are terribly uninteresting.

Despite minor moments of interest, in the end I was just completely disappointed by this novel. I’ve heard rather negative reviews of this pair’s Doctor Who writing previously, and I have to say that based on this I can see where they are coming from. It wasn’t so awful that I would avoid everything else they’ve ever written, but I’m not going to be diving into a Doctor Who story written by these two any time soon.

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