Sunday, 30 May 2010

Silurian spin-offs

As we know, the Silurians first appeared in the Third Doctors second story, Doctor Who and the Silurians (yep, thats the official name after the full script title appeared on the screen titles, rather than just The Silurians), also known as The Cave Monsters (from the Target novelisation). Later, in Pertwee's third season, their cousins the Sea Devils took their turn to try and reclaim the earth.

All went quiet under the earth until Davison's third season, when they both returned in Warriors of the Deep. Whilst the Silurian head design included the third eye, for some reason the script forgets about this ability. As far as the classic TV series is concerned, this was their last appearances.

In the Virgin New Adventures novel (number 19), the Seventh Doctor meets the Silurians in Blood Heat. Featuring the Brigadier, Liz and Jo, events turn out to be taking place in an alternative universe where the Silurians were successful in defeating the Doctor in the first encounter. There's a detailed story synopsis here. There's a whole host of crazy things that happen in the Virgin New Adventures, which I'm not even going to touch on here... have a look here for references and links (including other odd spin-off bits and bobs).

We also have the Silurians reappearing, this time including versions hybridised with Sea Devils, in the Missing Adventure novel The Scales of Injustice, with the third Doctor and Liz Shaw. Again find the synopsis here

This story is available online on the BBC Classic Who website which is available online here, together with some interesting artwork in the style of the Target series for the period, including a mock Chris Achilleos style cover.

And the Silurians again return in the Big Finish audio Bloodtide, with the sixth Doctor this time taking his turn to deal with some menacing Silurian scientists.

Doctor Who Weekly magazine ran a two part comic strip story Twilight of the Silurians, in issues 21 and 22. The story, which didn't feature the Doctor, was dedicated to Malcolm Hulke, who had died in May 1979.

The Doctor Who Monthly 1992 Summer Special features a story called City of Devils with Sarah-Jane and K9 (the only example of comic strip in this format, itself supporting the spin-off K9 and Company).

And then Doctor Who Monthly ran the story Final Genesis in issues 203 to 206 which again followed on after the events of the original Silurian story, with the Doctor again failing and being killed before alternative events unfold...

Cold Blood

So, the second part of our Silurian epic leaves us with yet more loose ends, and with the end of season finale getting progressively pumped up, one wonders how it's all going to get sorted out... but of course, that's the point.

Now I'm still moaning about the loss of the Silurian third-eye, and I don't think the appearance of a long sticky tongue fills the gap. Rather than being evolutionary superior to humans, as they undoubtedly were in their first TV appearance, these Silurians are perhaps more our equals. Again we have Silurians killing each other rather than respecting their own authoritarian systems, which I find a bit two-dimensional and undermining my ability to believe in their intelligence or civilisation.

Anyway, whilst Cold Blood touched on aspects of Silurian history and culture, and echoed many elements of their original Pertwee story, it didn't really get to grips with any single theme and develop it to give us something new. The Big Finish audio Bloodtide is an example of what could have been done - and it's not as if the new series hasn't been afraid to raid the BF plot book before (check out Jubilee, by Rob Sherman, and then watch Dalek, by, err, Rob Sherman).

The opportunity for the development of a thread on climate change was sadly missed, something which I am sure their creator, Malcolm Hulke, would surely not have shied away from. I was hoping for a Silurian plan to accelerate global warming in order to re-colonise the earth. Next time hey. And by the way, why would our reptile friends want to block out the sun with their isolation barrier in last weeks episode? To make it dark just to scare us? Surely not.

But what we did get was good nonetheless, with the interesting development of the Silurian female warrior class, contrasted with our own human female warrior character of Ambrose, who I didn't really like. I guess that the development of the Silurian warrior class is to fill the gap previously uncomfortably occupied by the Sea Devils.

That poor old Dad, slipped the tongue by a Silurian last week, should decide to stay with the Silurians, along with Nasreen, appears a bit odd, but then with the Doctor telling them to set their controls to reawaken in 1,000 years time, we obviously have the makings of a follow up story, and apparently do get to see the Silurians again before the end of the season. Well, when you’ve spent all that money on rubber masks and costumes…

And poor old Rory gets killed again! Shame, I was actually beginning to like his character more than Amy, who just treats him like shit. I'm not sure that their relationship works, or that the actors are convinced of their roles either. At least we have their double appearance at the begining explained. But we're also pretty sure Rory will be back, as perhaps will everything that's been sucked into that crack... and I'm betting that the Doctor sacrifices himself, and the TARDIS, to seal up the crack and restore everything to normal in our season finale, and that Song gets the rap for killing him. I'm also thinking we may even get a Star Trek TNG style end of season cliffhanger... who knows.

8/10, not bad, but not as good as it easily could have been!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Cave Monsters

Now I was thinking about Silurians and decided it was time to listen the audio reading of the Target novelisation, as I have a couple of these but hadn't yet listened to any. In truth, I wanted to listen to the audio recording of the original TV soundtrack, with linking narration, as I really like these. But I don't have it (yes, I really must save up my pennies and get that monsters box set tin... it's on the list!). And I fancied re-visiting the novelisation but didn't feel like dedicating my time to such endeavours. I’m a slow reader. I also find the audios useful as I can fiddle around on my computer whilst listening along.

So off I set on a journey back in time. Now I always liked Malcolm Hulke's work. His novelisations were always full of detail and background. I also liked his stories, which often had an ecological theme which I felt a particular empathy to, such as The Green Death, and also with wider concepts.

The Cave Monsters is number nine in the Target range, although that does not necessarily make it the ninth story to be published... Target only introduced their numbering system half way through, and decided to number those already published in alphabetical order, thus making the Abominable Snowman number 1 and the Cave Monsters number 9. In fact, the first 'proper' Target novelisation was the Auton Invasion, followed by the Cave Monsters, in 1974. These are, in publication order, numbers 4 and 5, after Target reprinted the first 3 Doctor Who stories (The Daleks, Crusaders and Zarbi) to launch their range. So, depending on which way you look at it, it could be the second book in the Target range, the fifth, or the ninth. But it is definitely Malcolm Hulke's first of seven novelisations.

The original Target publication had a classic cover by Chris Achilloes, with a great portrait of Pertwee, and the first few printings had the black block ‘Doctor Who’ lettering before the arched logo was introduced. It also contained 11 internal black and white line illustrations by Achilleos (you can find these online here). The book was later republished under the original TV series title of The Silurians and with a new cover by Alister Pearson.

The book also starts with a prelude missing from the TV story, which was shown in 1970, creating a powerful and almost, possibly, just about believable tale of the capturing of the moon in the earth's gravitational orbit during the time of the dominance of Silurian civilisation, and the reason for their hibernation. Why not, it definitely worked for me when I was 8.

The thing I like about this story is the unique position it places the Doctor in relation to his normally non-swaying support for humanity. By creating an intelligent reptilian race which predates mans evolutionary ascent on earth, and hence have valid claims to 'invade', the issue becomes a little more complex for our moral Doctor. I must admit I always side with the Silurians and hope they'll look after the earth better than we do. I'd double-cross humanity in a second - but then any power-crazed megalomaniac worth his salt would do the same.

The Silurian's third eye is evidence of their higher evolutionary path compared to modern humans, an element missing in their return story, Warriors of the Deep (apparently a production mistake), and again sadly in their current new series reappearance. It acts as a means of dominance over humans, and non-living matter itself. They also appear at one point to be able to communicate telepathically. Together with their technological superiority, this creates a powerful threat.

Hulke also like to paint his human characters full of weakness and selfish motives. He appears to take great fun of making fools of establishment figures, of men in suits and their attempts to control each other, in this story highlighted by the importance of chairs within the politics of power and human relationships.

There's a good detailed review of the story on the Doctor Who Reference Guide here.

Now I'm so inspired by this story, I still want to listen to the audio recording, and watch the video or DVD (was the DVD remastered?). Or perhaps I'll learn Dutch and read Doctor Who en de Holenmonsters. More likely I'm going to revisit Bloodtide, the Big Finish Silurian story, maybe I should try Warriors of the Deep. Or perhaps even read Blood Heat, the seventh Doctor Virgin New Adventure, which I have discovered includes Jo, the Brigadier, Liz Shaw and a few others. But, it all appears within the concept of an alternative universe, so can easily be forgotten about as none of it actually happened. No, really. Or there’s the Missing Adventure book The Scales of Injustice, which is available online on the BBC classic series website (find it here).

But as it's Petwee's second story, it sort of makes sense to start with the Auton Invasion and see if I can work my way through Pertwee's stories one by one... or perhaps I'll just pick out Hulke's stories... or just stick with the Target audio recordings or...

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


Our favourite Who blog (yep, even including this one!), Combom, has found an old advert for the Tardis Tuner, a classic piece of old Who merchandise.

I think this advert was also used in Doctor Who Weekly magazine, but will have to dig them out to check.

The Tardis Tuner was really a chunky black medium wave radio that also had flashing lights (the arrows on the front lit up) and sounds, and was manufactured by Shortman Trading in 1978.

There are some more photos on RichardWho.

There were a couple in good condition which had sold for just over 50 quid each on ebay a few years ago.

The Hungry Earth

Now I like the Silurians. Their original Pertwee story is, I think, a bit of a classic, and despite their later appearance in Warriors of the Deep, which was a bit pants, they stand as worthy of a return, even within the limitations of a plotline involving them. And I recently listened to them in their Big Finish audio outing, Bloodtide, which is definately worth a try if you haven't heard it already.

And so events of the Hungry Earth unfolded in a familiar if not completely predictable manner. The episode had a nice familiar 'classic Who' feel, even if it did take a bit too long to get going and before we had a proper look at our new Silurians.

I liked their reinvention, although was really disappointed not to get even an attempt at a Silurian vocalisation. Ssurely there sshould have been ssome hisssing or ssomething? I think the original Silurian voices were a huge part of their success. I did spend a second our two wondering if female Silurians would have boobs, but gave them the benefit of the doubt. But I spent more time wondering why they've dropped the third eye - an integral part of being a Silurian I would have thought.

I'm certainly not convinced by the alternative name of Homo reptillia. Now most of us know that the Silurians are named from a geological period in the earth's history, when, unfortunately, there were no reptiles, so not much chance of Silurians. However I'd rather put up with this and have a cool name, than make up some crap name which has even less going for it. Homo reptillia suggests the scientific Latin name for a man (or ape) like species which has evolved reptilian characteristics, being of the Hominid family, rather than a reptile humanoid. Stick with Silurian I say, and lets blame gaps in the fossil record (the same gaps which hide all evidence of the their civilisation).

The one big question hanging over the episode is Amy and Rory seeing themselves... now there's got to be more to that than meets the eye.

All in all, I'll give it 8/10, in the hope of a nine next week.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Amy's Choice

This one didn't do it for me. Despite the huge potential of the 'dream' versus reality storyline, not enough happened. The 'choice' didn't feel right - shouldn't we have had two futures to choose from, instead of one future and a trapped-in-the-Tardis present? It was kind of obvious that the future was the dream, and the double dream twist was too late to save the episode.

I was hoping for something between The Celestial Toymaker and The Mind Robber, two black and white classic Who tales. Perhaps with a nod to Edge of Destruction. But I was left with a bit of a twin dilemma. I didn't really care what happened as the episode unfolded, and I ended up disliking the Dream Lord almost as much as I do Graham Norton. There was not enough menace or power in the performance. He should have been someone like 'Q' in Star Trek TNG, all knowing and all powerful, not some annoying little man.

Rory's death was nicely done, but shame it wasn't for real! Now that would have given the episode a much needed edge.

Obviously a case of not enough psychic pollen. That's two episodes in a row not worth remembering! 5/10

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Daleks Death Ray

Question: When is a Dalek death ray not a Dalek death ray?
Answer: When it's a Dalek 'blast gun'...

Confused? All will become clear...

Latest in our little series of confectionary/food products to carry the Who label - the 1970s Walls Dalek Death Ray lollypop. I nearly remember these - I recall the wrappers but not the taste... I don't think I ever ate one. Who knows. Apparently the lolly was chocolate and mint... my favourite... damn, I so want to eat one of these now (perhaps it is triggering some latent memory!).

The reverse of the wrappers contained a 'episode' from a story or fact file type information. There were two stories published over the life span of the product, the first 'From the world of the Daleks' and the second called 'The Incredible Daleks'. As far as I can establish, each story had eight parts, and there were at least three 'odd' fact/info type backs - win a Dalek, make a Dalek and the annotated Dalek (image, bottom).

The two stories can be distinguished by the banner on the top of the reverse side. The frist series is predominantly green, the second red, as shown above.

In digging around for bits for this post, I've found out that popular Who artist Frank Bellamy (see earlier posts) illustrated the cover wrapper and first 'story', which I never knew, and seems to be news to many people. There's a bit about it on the Frank Bellamy Checklist Blog, and you can find scans of the illustrations here. Unfortunately the story text is not included.

You'll also find scans of wrappers at Dalek-mania and on the RichardWho collectors site, for example here.

One of the wrappers featured an annotated Dalek, complete with blast gun. Now wouldn't it have been a bit better to call it a death ray?

Monday, 10 May 2010

Still kicking myself

I can't believe I've missed out on another bit of collector's Who stuff, the Radio Times 10th Doctor Collectors Issue which was published earlier this year. I didn't even know it had been published until they started appearing on ebay with asking prices of up to 150 quid! (although more realistically selling for 60). No way I'm paying that much!

It's more the shame as its looks as if it's been put together really well. There's a good review of it here. Bugger. Perhaps they'll do a reprint. Anyone found a scanned pdf version yet online?

Vampires Of Venice

After last weeks thrills, I guess a lighter episode was needed, and here it was. A bit too light for my liking, with the whole thing lacking a sense of gravity, although still very entertaining.

It did what it did well and there were some strong elements, including nice direction and production, even if the whole ending was a bit naff. And nice dialogue and character building between our travelling regulars, who now number three with Rory joining the team.

Loved the girl 'vampires', of course, but felt they could have been more menacing. And obviously they should have got more screen time! The whole vampire thing was laughed off by the Doctor and Amy. Rory's comedic role, while well played, just added to the lack of drama, although I think I'm gonna like the guy.

The villainess Rosanna Calvierri was beautifully played, with some nice scenes between her and the Doctor, although yet again we have a race knowing of the Time Lords and their history. We get a nod to the Time War, and the Doctors role in it, which all feels a bit old hat now, unless it has some relevance to this current season arch, which is developing nicely.

It was great to see the first Doctor on the library card (or was it the psychic paper showing us that?). I'm actually hoping it's the last time we see the psychic paper - it's bad writing if they can't come up with something better to involve the Doctor with the characters of the story.

And didn't the story leave 10,000 unseen aliens living under the waters of Venice? Perhaps we best just forget about them, just like I'll probably forget about this episode. An average 7/10.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

'Sexed up' Dr Who prompts complaints

Dozens of viewers are said to have lodged complaints about the sexual content of a scene shown on Saturday in which the Time Lord, played by Matt Smith, was propositioned by his assistant, Amy Pond.

The character, played by Karen Gillan, was seen kissing the doctor and attempting to undress him as he backed up against the side of the Tardis.

At one point Amy, who wears a trademark miniskirt, suggested that they could have a one-night-stand.

She also joked about how long it had been since the 907-year-old Time Lord last had sex, making suggestive innuendoes and provocatively lying down on the bed in front of him.

Some viewers posted complaints on the BBC's message boards pointing out that the episode had been aired in a peak early evening family viewing slot.

One wrote: "We expect this sort of thing from trashy US imports but not a well-respected series like Doctor Who."

Vivienne Pattison of Mediawatch UK, the standards pressure group, said: "I thought it sailed pretty close to the wind."

The Daily Telegraph

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Boob job for Amy

Karen Gillan is reportedly very happy after her plastic Amy doll was given a boob job. "They have been very generous. I love it."

The new range of figures are released in June.

As reported in the Daily Star. Tried to find this story online, but perhaps that's just a bit too advanced for the Star.

Ludicrous Who

Author Terry Pratchett, famous for his Discworld series, has called Doctor Who "ludicrous" in an interview in SFX magazine. Whilst admitting he's watched the show from the very beginning ("bumdy bum bumdy bum bumdy bum bumdy bum... woooooooeeeeeee bumdidy bum"), and watches the new series every week, he has a very valid dig at the 'makeitupasyougoalongeum' element in the show and questions its standing as science fiction. We worth a read, so I won't bother quoting it.

Find the article here.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Flesh and Stone

I thought this was a magnificent episode, the first 15 minutes set the pace and the story managed to deliver wave after wave of suspense, surprise and ultimately, almost sit-com, but all of it working to produce a simple yet stunning episode. Loved it, for me the best of the season so far, so 9/10, and on a par with of my favourite classic Who.

Any doubts I had over Smith and his Doctor have truely been brushed aside with his manic upredictable Doctor - and even more encouraging to think these episodes were the first they recorded.

And we have the development of the season story arc into a much more significant element within the season, rather than just a build up of hints towards and end finale, although we are getting loads of those as well!

That duck pond with no ducks... the cyberking in Victorian London (a reference to The Next Doctor) and Amy not remembering Daleks... time can be re-written... mmm, one way to wipe the slate clean of all the RTD baggage and loose ends! What's Moffatt gonna do next... kill the Doctor?! Why ever not.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Dalek call-centre

Australian advert by ANZ Bank featuring a robot manned call-centre, complete with Daleks.

Dr Who's Space Adventure

Here's the first TV advertising appearence for a Doctor Who associated commercial product - the 1967 Walls Sky Ray ice lollys... featuring, of course, the Daleks, and the Doctor (sort of!) and a very dodgy looking TARDIS control room.

Thanks again to Combom who picked this up in his blog last year. Now to you lucky yongsters who have grown up in this technological revolution called the internet, this might seam a bit tame. But to a Who fan growning up in the 1970s/80s, you honestly never imagined you would ever get to see this sort of stuff ever again.

No matter that the 'second Doctor' isn't in fact the Doctor at all (now there's a quiz question... name the actor?). It's presumably linked to the Daleks appearance in Troughton's first story, Power of the Daleks, broadcast in December 1966, as 'the Doctor' wears a similar hat in this story, and they even look like offical Beeb Daleks. Did you spot the recorder in is hands? Troughton wasn't really one for all this promotional stuff, and this is a rare example of merchandising during his reign.

The promotion was based around a set of 36 cards given away with Walls 'Sky Ray' ice lollys. The cards featured a somewhat long-haired doctor based on Patrick Troughton joining forces with the 'Sky Ray Space Raiders' to battle the Daleks. The cards were collected in an album, Dr Who's Space Adventure Book, which also included games and other features.

I got these images from the Cutting Archive, which has sadly dissapeared off the net - a great shame as it had so much Who info that I didn't get a chance to get to grips with. Anyway, as it's now gone, here are a few more images for those who are not lucky enough to own one of these. The artwork's not great, but that hardly matters - this is a classic bit of collectors Who!

And the cards themselves:

You can find odd cards for sale on ebay for a couple of pounds each, and I've seen mint sets go for £60. The album goes for between £50 and £100, depending on condition - usually with some, but not all the cards glued in - most prized would be without the the cards!

Now one thing I haven't found is an image of the wrapper for these lollys, other than that which appears in the ad, or the sales packaging/boxes. I guess the wrappers are rare and quite collectable.

Not to be confused with the 1970's Walls Dalek Death Ray lolly, which will no doubt pop up in a post soon...