Tuesday, 30 April 2019
Oh what a cover. A head shot of the dreaded Kaled scientist Davros, genius and all round genocidal madman. It is a gate fold with two lovely inner sleeves. And just look at how striking the color of the vinyl is.
I am very fond of this story and think Lalla ward does a wonderful job of narrating the accompanying cast and sound effects. Sounds quite effortless on her part. Why, it is almost as though she were there. Regenrating into this form for the first time. On Skaro. Running about in a pink suit trailing a long white scarf. Feigning death in a Dalek Slave mine. Going head to head with Disco Death Bots The Movellans. Proving at every turn she could hold her own with or without The Doctor.
All of this season building towards a leisurely punt down a river in Cambridge past Magdalene College and under the Silver Street Bridge and a showdown on the Galifreyan prison planet of Shada, oh happy days...
Our poor ma was blind so there was always one of us holding onto her hand to make sure she did not take a tumble and the rest of us waddled around her like the scruffiest set of ducklings in hand me down clothes you could ever turn your nose up at. People must have rolled their eyes when they saw the Coney kids coming. Ah well, we never knew any different.
One particularly sunny day we discovered under this particular wee bridge a load of spawning frogs. There were big globs of frog spawn with translucent shapes, half formed, about to wriggle free. We loaded some of it into our wee plastic buckets and took it home with it where we watched some of it grow into small frogs which we let go in the back alley of Etna Drive. I had hoped the back gardens there would become swampy enviroments where all manner of swamp creatures would hang out. Bog monsters and albino crocodiles, the usual stuff boys dream about.
It did not happen though, all the back gardens were bulldozed and the whole area tarmaced over.Just one long black featureless road to nowhere.
And to think someone somewhere thought that would be a good idea.
Who needs gardens after all....
The Master, dreadful fellows all off them.
One of those meetings including the truly er, masterful Missy, one of my favorite things to come out of Doctor Who since it came back on telly. It was awe at first sight for me regarding this character. From the first time she appeared at the end of Deep Breath, setting in motion one of the darkest , and deeply disturbing, story arcs in the history of the show. It was clear to me that something special was happening here. mostly down to the electrifying performance of Michelle Gomez. She so embodies and brings that character to life I cannot imagine anyone else playing her. When Missy is in a scene it becomes difficult to see anyone else.
As Missy will, so mote it be.
Missy and River locked up in the same maxi-security prison, heaven help the other prisoners. It all goes very Shawshank Redemption oh so very quickly. I was reminded of the time Rorscharch in The Watchmen is locked up in a similar position only he let the other inmates know they were locked up with him and not the other way around. It is that kind of crazy. It is just so damn fine to hear Missy again, up to no good as always. The very embodiment of everything The Doctor is not. Joyfully so. Missy likes being Missy. I do hope that she and River get to meet again. River has many qualities The Doctor enjoys and I think Missy would be drawn to her for similar reasons.
A fantastic start to this insanely themed collection.
Animal Instinct is the next story, written by Roy Gill. Geoffrey Beavers interpretation of the cosmically aloof rotter with the most sneering and condescending voice of them all. All those hissing sibilants and almost Shakespearean dismissiveness. As without so within, in his case. The Deadly Assassin is one of the all time greats from any era of Doctor Who and this is the doctor of that era, all rotting flesh and filthy cowl. Since I was a boy I have heard The Master regarded as The Doctor's Moriarty, the ultimate foil and his equal in almost every regard. The Master is never more demonic than when we meet him in this iteration. Looking and sounding like something which has stepped from a Hieronymus Bosch painting, a fifth horseman, with Geoffrey Beaver wringing every quantum of malice from the character. River is at her most Indiana Jones in this story while The Master is like a rotten and indeed rotting Belloch.
A terrific and well paced adventure yarn.
The Lifeboat And The Deathboat by Eddie Robson is probably the most surprising story in the boxed set. Given that I just could not imagine how Bruce the paramedic tale would stretch beyond the screen time he was afforded, yet they pull it off in this Agatha Christie like deep space thriller. Eric Robert's voice had an almost surreal effect in me, I felt like I was tumbling down the rabbit hole with no magic biscuit or potion at the end of the fall to right me.
No "Eat me", No "drink me", just "Listen."
And to round it all off me have the magical Derek Jacobi in the story Concealed Weapon by Scott Handcock. Just fantastic. A murderous voyage in a deep space vessel with good people being bumped off one by one as the ship's computer calmly reminds them there is one more person on board than should be. An evil game is afoot and it feels like no one who is playing will get out alive.
This is a great boxed set. One that succeeds in honoring the past while feeling completely modern. River has really been able to grow and breath in this series of boxed sets. A good man cannot be too careful in their choice of enemies. Why should it be any different for a good woman?
Although poor doomed River would never go so far as to describe herself as a good woman.
That is best left to those who care about her.
Katy Manning has done some outstanding work for Big Finish, demonstrating a versatility way beyond anything she was able to display during her time as The Doctor's assistant(And she did assist, as only true friends and capable agents can.) The world is now a very different place from the one when she flitted about it in The Tardis and Katy Manning has all the charisma and talent to pull off a show of her own, well equipped to deal with the absurdities of our age.
Heres to more time in her and Mr Jones company.
When I am feeling blue I just have to walk past this piece of art to feel my color change a brighter hue. Would love to escape into it and see where it goes..
They are not re-inventing the wheel here, each one exploring what many consider to be tropes of the saga by now but they are done with such gusto and aplomb it would be churlish to sneer. Besides, that is not something a gentleman does.
Each one is short but uses their screen time well, never outstays their welcome and quite frankly just leaves me hungry for more. Which is the intent I suppose. I am hearing the classic and ageless Jerry Goldsmith Alien original soundtrack in the empty theater of my mind as I type this..
Tuesday, 9 April 2019
For instance, check this out; The Eighteenth Emergency by Betsy Byars. Many, many years ago I followed a reading of this story for a week on BBC1 on the television show Jackanory, a children's programme that involved some one reading a book over the course of five days. It was usually an actor or some well known television personalities stretching themselves( the word "celebrity" had some actual meaning then I suppose..) as they performed the story. I was really enjoying this particular story as it involved a boy called Mouse who seemed to spend every minute of his day in the outside world ducking a school bully called Hammerman.
I empathised. I could have turned dodging bullies into an Olympic sport. I can imagine it too, not being able to climb the podium because a horde of bullies want to hang me out a window by my ankles or dump me in the school sandpit. Both of which experiences I survived. Although beaches have an unusual resonance for me as does being hung upside down over perilous heights.
This was in the seventies. A decade from the tail end of another century from which I sprung. Only for whatever reason I missed the last part. I was eleven years old and I never found out how it ended, how Mouse dealt with his bully..Until now that is. The copy of this Puffin paperback seemed to wave to me with its delightful Quentin Blake cover and I thought;"At last, after forty four years I will learn how to stand up to a bully.
And you can too.
Although you will have to read the book.
Do not leave it as long as I did though.
Even the most lovely building suffers the remorseless tyranny of time.