The Cosmic Hobo

Thoughts & reviews about the science fiction series Doctor Who.

Archive for the tag “jamie mccrimmon”

Book Review: 50th Anniversary Stories – The Nameless City by Michael Scott

DW Michael Scott The Nameless CityIn celebration of the 50th anniversary, Puffin Books are releasing eBook exclusive novelettes on a monthly basis. The series, which started in January, is representing every individual incarnation of the Doctor with their own story. The Nameless City, written by Michael Scott, is the second entry.

The story follows the Second Doctor and Jamie McCrimmon, probably setting the story in Season 6B, as they are thrust into intense danger upon being gifted a strange book that predates known time. The plot has a sort of “Doctor Who meets Lovecraft” feel, and it really works. Scott, who is probably best known as the writer of the Nicholas Flamel series of novels, clearly has a strong understanding of his main characters and does a wonderful job of establishing mood.

Because of the inherent brevity of the books in the series, it is difficult to have too much in terms of background or character. Still, The Nameless City makes the best of its low word count, showing Jamie and the Doctor at their best while still being surprisingly thrilling for a book aimed at younger readers. Naturally, it is fast paced, but doesn’t feel rushed at all. Although it doesn’t have the excellence of longer Second Doctor novels like The Murder Game or Dreams of Empire, there is a lot to enjoy in the story.

Because of the word limit, the ending feels like it comes on very suddenly. Still, there is adequate foreshadowing of the solution. If this story had about double the room to work with, it could have been a much higher echelon Doctor Who story. Still, it has a lot more good about it than bad. The entirety of the series of stories will be collected at the end of the year, but this particular novelette is worth discovering beforehand. Second Doctor fans specifically will be pleased with the characterization.

Rating: B-

P.S.: This review has been cross-posted, in a slightly altered form, to Hardcover Wonderland, my new website that covers books of all kinds. Book reviews I write regarding Who will find their way to this blog in modified form. I’m hoping to getting back to reviewing other stuff soon, too.

Serial Review: The Highlanders (Season 4)

“The Highlanders”
Written by Elwyn Jones & Gerry Davis
Directed by Hugh David
Featuring the Doctor, Ben, Polly, Jamie, and evil Brits

Rating: C

Being as big a fan as I am of Patrick Troughton as the Doctor, it is impossible to separate him from Frazer Hines as Jamie McCrimmon. As much as I loved “The Power of the Daleks,” it did feel like something was missing, and that something would be Jamie.

The Doctor, Ben, and Polly stumble upon early 18th century Scotland, where the titular highlanders are fighting against the English. Naturally, the Doctor is thrust into things rather quickly, with Ben and Polly being forced into the conflict by proxy. I like the idea of historicals, but my previous experience with them has been minimal. I really enjoyed “The Aztecs,” but aside from a couple Big Finish audios, I think that’s the only one I’ve actually experienced, unless something is escaping my mind.

My first impression of this story, unfortunately, was that the supporting cast isn’t nearly as good as in “The Power of the Daleks.” I had previously read the novelization (a year or so ago), and obviously the acting in my head is always flawless. That isn’t to say that they’re woeful, but I was really impressed by the cast of the previous story, and think this one is relatively standard in terms of acting quality. One thing I will say, though, is that I like the shots; although this is obviously a reconstruction, the few clips that exist show some good work and the set design is solid. The number of clips of existing footage is surprisingly high, which makes it easier to get a sense of the visuals of the story.

Although Jamie isn’t my favorite companion, I like him and am glad to have him around in this one. He really doesn’t have all that much to do, but it’s still good times. I also like that Polly gets separated from the rest early on, and gets a chance to go out and do her thing. As I mentioned in my review of the previous story, I dig her character, and I think she is particularly cool in this. I love her line to Kirstie (sp?): “Didn’t the women of your age do anything but cry?” She also gets cool points for taking charge when a British soldier falls into a trap– she holds him at knife point and essentially threatens to mess him up if he won’t help them in their cause. It’s a shame she only has one complete story left, but I guess it’s better to have been on Doctor Who and have no one able to see it than to never have been on Doctor Who at all.

Being that I am not German, I find it difficult to judge the quality of Patrick Troughton’s German accent, but I find him pretty amusing in this story. He shows his trademark brilliant use of guile in getting himself out of capture and behind enemy lines to do his grand tinkering. I love Troughton’s Doctor’s penchant for pretending to be less than he is to get his enemies to stop worrying about him. It’s nice to see this Doctor become who he is so early on in his run; it didn’t take him long to get a hang of it.

Unfortunately, the story itself has its issues. I really enjoyed the first half quite a bit, as much as I did “The Aztecs,” but it seriously loses steam in the second half. Part three is really boring, and doesn’t offer much at all to hold my interest. I like the Polly scenes a bit, but I think probably only because I just like the character. Part four is a slight improvement, but… eh.

So, adding up an above average first two episodes and a below average second two, it ends up being solidly average. It wouldn’t be particularly remarkable if it weren’t for the debut of Jamie, but it still has some merit. Not one I’ll re-visit any time soon, but I don’t feel like it was a wasted two hours, either.

Book Review: Past Doctor Adventures – The Final Sanction by Steve Lyons

The Final Sanction by Steve Lyons
Past Doctor Adventures #24 – Second Doctor
Featuring the Doctor, Jamie, Zoe, & the Selachians

Rating: B

In the follow-up to the author’s previous Second Doctor Past Doctor Adventure The Murder Game, the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe find themselves on a relatively wet planet under siege by the terrifying Selachians. While the general narrative doesn’t have much to do with its predecessor, the villains are the common thread. The Selachians are my favorite of any species created for tie-in media. They are pinkish, strange looking aquatic creatures that, by reason of being threatened for years, were forced to develop weapons technology in the form of battle suits that require their warriors to self-mutilate and remove limbs to fit into. It’s pretty twisted and would never fly on screen, but is absolutely compelling in literary form.

Steve Lyons writes the three main characters absolutely flawlessly. His Second Doctor is picture perfect, which is rare when it comes to most tie-ins I have seen related to the character, and Lyons also captures the personalities of Zoe and Jamie brilliantly. By having the TARDIS crew separate early on in the story, Lyons is able to develop each character significantly in giving them a chance to shine in their own story threads. It makes for a very compelling read, with a moral dilemma like the best of Who, and with great action that rarely showed up in the black and white days on television. It also helps a lot that all of the created characters for the novel are very believable; in a short span Lyons develops them all well, rather than cardboard cutout characters that only serve to further the plot.

With a great plot, perfect characterization, intriguing villains, social consciousness, and a solid stable of supporting characters, this is the second Doctor Who novel by Steve Lyons I have read and the second that I have really liked. Highly recommended for any Doctor Who fan (along with The Murder Game), but absolutely required reading for people like myself who think Patrick Troughton is the greatest Doctor, and Zoe Heriot is the greatest companion.

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