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A Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Doctor Who Galaxy, A review of Whoniverse by Lance Parkin

Christmas is not too far away and “Whoniverse” by Lance Parkin is a wonderful book to give to a Whovian.
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Having compared this book to the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, I should point out immediately the section on Earth consists of a lot more that “Mosty Harmless”.

Each subject in the book has a History section. Most have a Behind The Scenes section, a Fact File [referring to stories relating to the subject] and a Timeline but when they don’t, there is usually a stunning piece of art.

There are footnotes tying into the History section relating to the sources of the text. One of the great things about this book (which enhances it compared to some of the official titles) is that the sources of reference encompass more than the television show. The TV series is where the majority of the information is sourced from but there are references to comic strips, novels, novellas, short stories, audio adventures, video games and stage plays. This will hopefully open doors for you to find some amazing Doctor Who stories you may not have experienced before. Some of the stories may even help you appreciate a TV story more by giving it some additional layers.

So join me on my guide to Lance Parkin‘s guide to the Whoniverse.

Section One: The Universe

The best place to start is the beginning and the first section relates to the Big Bang (or Event One as the Time Lords have named it) accompanied by a stunning image of the Black Guardian. We continue our journey by visits to Terminus and some other universes such as E-Space, the Anti-matter and parallel universes. We then gaze into the Time Vortex before journeying onto the First Planets and visiting the Ancient Civilisations. This section ends with a look at Mutter‘s Spiral (also known as the Milky Way) which then leads us to the next section…

Section Two: The Solar System

After an overview an a look at the Sun and Mercury, we take a visit to Vulcan. This is not the planet of Spock but the setting of one of the many lost stories (episodes that have been wiped when BBC wiped tv shows in order to reuse the tape, copies made for other markets are now often the source of many of the lost stories but Patrick Troughton‘s debut story “The Power of the Daleks” remains lost but is top of many Whovians wishlist for stories to be rediscovered, thankfully the audio track still exists). After a brief stop at Venus, we finally arrive at Earth. We explore the Young Earth of the then the Humanian Era before saying farewell to Old Earth. We then venture to the Moon including the Colonisation of the Moon and (after seeing the events in 2014‘s “Kill the Moon”) the New Moon. An extended visit to Mars then follows looking at Ancient Mars, Dying Mars and the various Mission to Mars. The Thousand Day war is looked at, a series of events following the events of the TV story “The Seeds Of Death” that formed the novel “Transit” by Silurians Ben Aaronovitch followed by the novel “GodEngine” by Craig Hinton. We then explore the rest of the Solar System before venturing further afield into…

Section Three: Earth‘s Colonies In Space

This section takes us to the many Earth colonies visited by the Doctor and again will entice you to revisit (or visit for the first time) the many wonderful worlds contained within this section. As Lance states in the introduction, it would be nearly impossible to cover EVERY planet visited by the Doctor but he makes a fine attempt with no obvious omissions. The beauty of this type of book is that you can dip in and out of and you will find yourself reaching for your DVD/audio/comic/book collection or going online to find some of the lesser known gems. The next section in particular will give you a new perspective of some of the most iconic characters in the show‘s history as we visit..

Section Four: Planets Of Origin

We now travel to visit the planets of the Time Lords, Daleks and Cybermen. We visit some planets mentioned in the tv series but have featured in other forms of media. This section contains references to some wonderful stories, may of which were written in the years between the tv series ending and the new series‘ successful return in 2005. Following this, we then visit a cornucopia of planets in a subsection called Planet Of The Monters. These range from Alfava Metraxis to the War Planet (although it is a bit harsh having Traken in this section).

Section Five: Distant Planets

These planets are those located at the far reaches of the Doctor Who Universe, such as the Isop Galaxy, Vortis, the Sense-Sphere and Raxacoricofallapatorius. Encounter beings such as the Drahvins, The Ood, the Menoptra and Sensorites.

Section Six: The Last Planets

These planets include new home planets for the Human race such as Refusis I, Frontios, New Earth and Malcassairo. The end of the Universe is covered in this section too and although there is not a restaurant here, there is the City of the Saved and it is where this guide ends.

This book is a wonderful guide and allows you to visit many worlds within the Doctor Who universe and with references to many other adventures beyond the TV series, it is invaluable for those wanting to explore the extended universe of Doctor Who.

Doctor Who bookcase

I was looking through my facebook timeline and saw a post from a Doctor Who page that caught my attention.

The original post can be found here for a very cool TARDIS bookcase.

And you may also be interested in a sale that Big Finish are having this weekend (28th & 29th July 2012). The sale is for the many contributions made by a certain David Tennant. These were all done before he bacame the Doctor and are worth a listen.

A sad loss for the Doctor Who family

In a time of change

Caroline John played Liz Shaw

Season seven’s star

I was saddened to hear about the death of Caroline John, who played Dr Liz Shaw opposite Jon Pertwee’s Doctor.

When Caroline John joined the cast of Doctor Who, she did so at a time of change. Patrick Troughton had regenerated and his companions had decided to leave the show at the same time which meant a new Doctor and a new companion. The show would now be made in colour and Barry Letts was about to become the new producer. Another bold decision was to strand the Doctor on Earth. This meant that Liz Shaw became the first (and only) companion not to travel in the TARDIS.

Season seven had a distinctly Quatermass feel to it as the new production team aimed the program for a more mature audience. The monsters were still there but more often than not, the real monsters were shown to be man, whether it was the slaughter of Silurians or the continued drilling into the core of the Earth regardless of the consequences.

Dr. Liz Shaw was a different character from previous companions in that she was able to, at least partly, understand the Doctor’s scientific explanations.  Unfortunately this would prove to be a problem. Whereas Zoe, who also had an above average intellect, had Jamie to explain things to (and being able to give this information to the viewer) Liz didn’t have someone to act a go between between the Doctor and the viewer and so the decision to replace her was made.

During the filming of the final story of the season, the excellent Inferno, Caroline John was also looking to leave the series due to her pregnancy. Her final performance in televised Doctor Who (although she did return for a brief appearance in the 20th  anniversary story, The Five Doctors) saw her play Dr. Liz Shaw and Section Leader Liz Shaw in Doctor Who’s first foray into the realms of parallel universes.

Although the Liz Shaw experiment was not deemed a success, Caroline John’s contribution to season seven was very important and easy to under rate. The season consisted of only four stories (1 four parter and 3 seven parters); Spearhead From Space (the story that introduced the Autons), Doctor Who And The Silurians (the only televised story to have “Doctor Who And The…” as part of the title), The Ambassadors Of Death (a very Quatermass like story written by David Whitaker, Doctor Who’s first script editor) and the aforementioned Inferno (written by the future creator of Scottish soap opera “Take The High Road”). The Autons and Silurians were to make a comeback not just in the classic series (Terror Of The Autons and Warriors Of The Deep respectively) but also in the new series, notabley Rose (the Autons) which saw the return of Doctor Who to our screens and the two part story The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood (The Silurians).

Caroline John reprised the role of Liz Shaw for the Companion Chronicles, produced by Big Finish. She got to meet with an iconic monster that was noticeably absent from the third Doctor’s era, the cybermen (The Blue Tooth). The other stories to feature Liz Shaw are Shadow Of The Past, The Sentinels Of The New Dawn, Binary and the forthcoming The Last Post.

Carolin John was also the narrator for the audiobook of another sadly departed member of the Doctor Who family, Elizabeth Sladen.

Caroline John will be missed and my thoughts go out to her family and friends.

Caroline John 1940-2012 R.I.P.

8th Doctor Sale at Big Finish

Doctor for a night

His adventures continue

With Lucie Miller

Paul McGann was the Doctor for just one night on television but thanks to Big Finish, he has had a chance to be the Doctor and continue with new adventures.

Starting on Monday 20th February, Big Finish will have  the four series of Paul McGann Doctor Who stories with his companion Lucie Miller on sale over four days. Series one on Monday, series two on Tuesday etc. click here for more details.

These stories have a feel of the new series in style and format (the stories are approximately 60 minutes and Lucie Miller (played marvellously by Sheridan Smith) would feel right at home in the TARDIS with any of the new Doctors.

If you still aren’t convinced, then you can download part one of Blood of the Daleks to hear for yourself or get them as a treat for that special Doctor Who fan.

A podcast with more information can be found here.

If you are already a fan, I’d love to hear your views about these stories.

The Chase

The Daleks return

To chase the TARDIS through time

Another farewell

The Doctor has taken a space visualiser from the space museum (the previous story, click here for more) and watches a few moments from history, including an appearance of The Beatles. The crew then land on a planet that resembles Tatooine from the Star Wars universe (although not as vast). Vicki and Ian go wandering off while the Doctor and Barbara soak up some rays from the multiple suns.  A sound emanating from the TARDIS  leads the Doctor to realise that the space visualiser hasn’t been switched off but when Barbara goes to turn it off she sees that on the screen, the Daleks are in hot pursuit of the time travellers. The Doctor is unsure how far behind they are but decides that they must leave quickly. Unfortunately, Ian and Vicki have gotten themselves in trouble. Episode one ends with a Dalek rising up through the sand and you can hear it straining as it rises to the surface which is reminiscent to the end of episode one of the Dalek Invasion of Earth.

But if you think that The Chase is confined to just this planet, you would be wrong. The Daleks rather helpfully dig out the TARDIS (that was covered after a sandstorm) and have a short moment where one Dalek commands what seems to be a teenage Dalek judging by his response to some orders, the crew manage t race back into the TARDIS and head to earth for the next few episodes stopping of in a sailing ship, the Empire State building (hmmm I wonder if the TARDIS sensed any Dalek activity connected to this building…see Daleks In Manhattan [a long way away in my quest]) and a building occupied by Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster.

But the finale of the story takes place on the planet Mechanus and features the first doppelgänger of the Doctor as the Daleks create a duplicate of the Doctor that is designed to infiltrate and kill. The planet of Mechanus is very odd in that the surface is very smooth but has a fungal plant life but it is on this planet that a foe was to appear to rival the Daleks…the Mechanoids. These are kind of spherical dodecahedral who have similar mobility issues as the Daleks but the final battle between the Daleks and Mechanoids takes place on a smooth floor. The Mechanoids did appear in comics but never returned to the classic series. They have, however, made a reappearance in the Big Finish audio story The Juggernaughts that features both Davros and the Daleks.

As far as Dalek stories go, this isn’t one of the best but does have some interesting features.The Dalek design here becomes the classic series design with the slats on their middle appearing for the first time. The Daleks learn time travel. And for the second time in three appearances, the story concludes with a departure. This time, Ian and Barbara use the Dalek time machine to return them home (which Vicki and the Doctor watch on the space visualizer).

In the previous story, a Dalek was featured in the space museum and the story was the first (but by no means the last) to feature the Doctor visiting a museum [something that River Song in the new series has relied upon]. Perhaps the Daleks too thought that this behaviour would help them in tracking down the Doctor at the start of this story and donated several Dalek shells to numerous museums across the galaxy. It would certainly be a more reasonable explanation for the Dalek exhibit in the space museum.

  1. The Executioners
  2. The Death Of Time
  3. Flight Through Eternity
  4. Journey Into Terror
  5. The Death Of Doctor Who
  6. The Planet Of Decision

 

Davros Day

I just wanted to do a quick post to let you know about Big Finish’s Davros Day that takes place on 28th January 2012. Davros makes his return in the Colin Baker story, The Curse Of Davros, and are celebrating by selling his previous stories for £5 each. Davros has appeared with Colin Baker twice before; Davros and Juggernauts.  Davros has also starred in a story featuring Paul McGann, Terror Firma which was one of the very first Big Finish audio plays I bought. Davros has also appeared in the Unbound series (a kind of what if series featuring different actors as the Doctor). In Masters Of War he stars alongside alternate third Doctor, David Warner, and his companion, a retired army man by the name of Lethbridge-Stewart (played by the late great Nicholas Courtney). There is also a four part serial that goes back to Davros’ origins, I, Davros

Now that I’ve told you all this, please excuse me as I go and complete my Davros collection.

Note: Davros first appeared in the tv story, Genesis of the Daleks magnificently played by Michael Wisher. The next story to feature the creator of the Daleks was Destiny of the Daleks, this time with David Gooderson wearing the mask. This was also the last Dalek story to be written by Terry Nation (the creator of the Daleks, the writer rather than the scientist). The final three Dalek stories in classic series Doctor Who all feature Davros. In all three stories, he is played by Terry Molloy who plays him in the audio dramas. The stories feature Doctors 5, Resurrection of the Daleks, 6, Revelation of the Daleks and 7, Remembrance of the Daleks.

Doctor Who Podcast ~ Big Finish Special

Those splendid fellows over at the Doctor Who Podcast have produced a Big Finish special.

They talk about its history and there is a very interesting interview with Line Producer, David Richardson (if you don’t know what a line producer does, then listen as all will be revealed).

The podcast concludes with  Tom, James and Trevor telling us of their favourite (and not so favourite) stories.

Listen here and please check out my own Big Finish Guide here.

Enjoy.