Time Lord Victorious #1 - Defender of the Daleks (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 15 September 2020 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck

Time Lord Victorious #1 - Cover A (Credit: Titan )Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Roberta Ingranata

Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

52 Pages

Published by Titan Comics - September 2020

The BBC and it’s various Doctor Who licensees have teamed up to create a multi-platform story arc, stories that span books, comics, audios and even an animated mini-series focusing on the Daleks. Beyond the usual spin-off media outlets, they are even doing more immersive entertainment adventures like Escape Rooms and Immersive Theater experiences. Allegedly, much of it is designed so you don’t need it all to enjoy the individual bits (so the comics should stand on their own without needing an audio or an Escape Room for it to all make sense). This is good, because as an American there was little chance of me getting a Dalek Awakes Escape Room anywhere near me. It seems the more immersive stuff is for UK folks only. 

And that is fine. I could see some interest in the theater thing, but I am not terribly interested in an Escape Room. But I do love audios and comics. I wasn’t sure how much I would get into with this multimedia extravaganza. I wanted to listen to audio adventures because if it has the Eighth or Tenth Doctors, I am there. But I happened to see my digital library had a copy of Time Lord Victorious #1 (apparently subtitled “Defender of the Daleks” though I did not see that title anywhere on it), and I decided to give it a whirl. And it is so entertaining I ate it up. 

The Tenth Doctor awakes in his TARDIS with some partial amnesia, confused as to where he has been and what he was up to, and not sure where he is going. When he lands he is surrounded by Daleks who wish to take him to the Emperor of the Daleks. He tried to escape, but no matter where he lands, the Daleks are waiting. He finally decides to see the Emperor. Turns out the Daleks want his help. It seems there is an ancient race, a race of myth, called the Hond. Like the Daleks they want to destroy all life in the universe...they even want to destroy themselves when they wipe out the rest. They intend to take out the Daleks first...and since the Doctor isn’t for all life in the universe being snuffed out he begrudgingly decides to help the Daleks. 

I have found Jody Houser’s work on the Thirteenth Doctor to be a bit hit or miss. She has had interesting set ups but the endings have always felt rushed and unsatisfying to me. But this feels so well put together as a set-up...I just have a feeling it is going to have a solid follow-up. This is my first taste of the multi-platform story, but it has certainly captured my interest! I look forward to sampling a but more. 





The Eighth Doctor - Stranded 1 (Big Finish)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 23 August 2020 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Stranded 1 (Credit: Big Finish)
Writer: Matt Fitton, John Dorney, Lisa McMullin, & David K Barnes
Director: Ken Bentley
 
Featuring: Paul McGann, Nicola WalkerHattie Morahan, Rebecca Root, Tom Price, & Tom Baker

Big Finish Release (United Kingdom)

Released June 2020

Running Time: 5 hours

Since at least 2007, the Eighth Doctor has been pretty much bouncing from one epic storyline to the next.  His adventures with Lucie Miller began his epic journey, where he had four series styled closer in tone and style to the revived version of the series, often ending in big epic finales.  This concluded with a big arc involving the Daleks and the Doctor facing great personal loss.  This led directly into the 4-set series Dark Eyes in which the Doctor yet again battled the Daleks (and eventually the Master) across time and space.  From there was the epics Doom Coalition and Ravenous.  While those have been his regular ongoing adventures, he has also starred in a series of sets set later in his timeline, once again in big epic adventures during the Time War.  Simply put, the Eighth Doctor has been put through the ringer.  He has been bouncing from big giant arc to big giant arc, and now, finally...things have quieted down a bit.  

The TARDIS has crash-landed on Earth in 2020 and has been depleted.  Right now it is just a box.So the Doctor, Liv, and Helen decide to take up shelter in the Doctor’s house on Baker Street...only they have found that it has been turned into a series of flats.  The Doctor being the owner has now become the Landlord.  Liv and Helen have attempted to take up the main duties of maintaining the building and the financial aspects...while the Doctor becomes reclusive and obsessed with fixing up the TARDIS (currently a seemingly impossible task).  Also featured is Tom Baker, who reprises his role as the mysterious Curator (from Day of the Doctor), who offers some mysterious warnings to Liv and Helen.  Lost Property really sets the tone for this new series. It is smaller, quieter, and it is genuinely refreshing.  I have enjoyed the big sets up to now, but you can only keep upping the ante so much before it becomes tiresome. This was definitely a necessary way to go at this point.  

In the second episode, Wild Animals, Liv has taken up a job in a shop in order to help pay the bills why the TARDIS team is stranded on Earth.  Sadly, she and her boss end up shot when a hold up goes awry. While Liv is recovering in hospital, her boss sadly doesn’t make it.  The Doctor then tries to make good on not keeping his friend safe by catching the shooter. But it is something of a wake-up call for the team.  They may not be in the midst of some big alien adventure with tons of explosions and lasers...but danger still lurks.  And the Doctor, who has been losing hope in this environment, hopes that solving the crime will alleviate his boredom.  But he doesn’t solve it.  The police beat him to it.  And he is finally forced to realize that he must start living...not just hiding away, wandering in the park moping.  

The Doctor is finally put into his element in Must-See TV when some sort of Alien tech is attached to several TVs of his tenants that appear to be spying on them.  There is also a mysterious new tenant called Mr. Bird, who is being very helpful with maintenance issues around the place...but also seems to be the cause of their alien spy tech.  Also involved in this episode is Sgt Andy Davison (from Torchwood), who is acting as a sort of liaison between Torchwood and Tania.  Tania is a resident of Baker Street who has begun a relationship with Liv, but also is working for Torchwood for some mysterious purpose. Torchwood seems to have her monitoring the Doctor, but she begins to suspect that who Torchwood is really after is Mr. Bird. 

The set comes to conclusion with Divine Intervention, which features aliens from the future who blame the Doctor for their future plight at the hands of Earth. It is a decent conclusion, which sets up threads for where this new series may lead, and ends with both a glimmer of hope that the TARDIS will return to its former glory someday, but also makes it clear that for now, the gang are stuck where they are.  

Stranded is the beginning of a new chapter for the Eighth Doctor, one that is far from the universe shattering epics he has been so present in for so long.  I definitely welcome this change of pace. Especially as the Eighth Doctor will continue to have his big epic adventures with Time War (which has at least one more installment coming next month).  But either way, it is nice to strip things way back, and focus in on the character stuff. I really enjoyed this.  It has a slower pace and less plot to keep track of...and in general it was just exactly what hte Eighth Doctor needed at this moment to keep from getting stale. 





Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #2.4 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 2 August 2020 - Reviewed by Kenny Scheck
The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #2.4  (Credit: Titan Comics)

Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Roberta Ingranata
Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

32 Pages

Published by Titan Comics - May 2020

The Tenth/Thirteenth Doctor team-up that has launched Year Two of the Thirteenth Doctor Titan run comes to it's big conclusion in part four...and for once Houser ends it on something of a high note instead of a wimper.  The Autons and Weeping Angels stories don't really have any deeper meaning behind them, they don't seem to be working together or anything, but they do tie up things nicely. 

The team is able to escape the Angels trying to break into the TARDIS, and trace the Nestene Consciousness to the tunnels under the Thames.  They then lure the Angels into the tunnels and use the use the Angels power to send the Consciousness back in time, hopefully before plastics are around to feed off of. They then manage to trap the Angels of 1969 and trap them out in space. 

From there they two TARDIS teams part ways, the Tenth Doctor and Martha forced back to 1969 to await their ride per Sally Sparrow's instructions...the newer team deciding to take a break from adventuring and return to Sheffield for a bit, as seeing Martha trapped in the 60s has given them a bit of pause about too much travelling. 

But alas, a new cliffhanger!  Arriving to modern day England doesn't go as planned...as their is a red sky and lightning about.  Is this the work of something new, or will this tie in with the Nestene that was sent back by the Angel? 

I had issues with the first year of the Thirteenth Doctor.  Too many stories fizzled out too quickly.  It seemed like just as things were beginning to get interesting, I'd get some quick fix ending that left me unsatisfied.  Happily that is not the case with the first adventure of Year Two.  The teaming of the Thirteenth and Tenth Doctors was fun, but the story was intriguing and for once had an ending that felt earned and not rushed. Here's hoping this momentum can continue.





The Monster of Peladon (BBC Audiobook)Bookmark and Share

Friday, 24 July 2020 - Reviewed by Kenny Scheck
The Monster of Peladon (Credit: BBC Audio)
Written by Terrance Dicks
Read By  Jon Culshaw
Released by BBC Audio - March 2020
Available from Amazon UK

Despite my love for the Third Doctor era of the show, I was never a big fan of the Peladon adventures.  I found the stories underwhelming and Alpha Centauri to be an annoying shrieking character in a lame alien costume.  Those were my main takeaways, and since I haven’t ever revisited since my initial viewing, it is really all I have to go on.  Something of a vague memory.  Someday, when the blu-ray collections get to the seasons that feature these adventures, I will give them another whirl and we will see how they hold up then.  Until then, I have the audiobook of the Terrence Dick-penned Target Novelization to refresh my memory.  

It is okay I guess. It isn’t as lame a story as I recall, but Alpha Centauri’s shrieking is definitely toned down by Jon Culshaw’s reading.  Culshaw really sells the whole thing.  He is a solid narrator, but it is his Pertwee that is just perfect.  

I do think this story has too much pad, even in this fairly short novelization I found parts of it were dragging.  But Culshaw’s reading elevates what I found to be mostly forgettable material.





Power of the Daleks (2020 Animated Release)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 20 July 2020 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
The Power Of The Daleks - Special Edition (Credit: BBC Studios)

Power of the Daleks
Written By: David Whitaker
Starring Patrick Troughton, Anneke Wills, Michael Craze
Released July 2020 - BBC Studios

In 2016, BBC Studios released an animated reconstruction of the first Second Doctor serial Power of the Daleks. This was not the first animated reconstruction of lost episodes, but it was the first time that an entirely lost story was animated. Previous stories had just been one or two lost episodes in an otherwise complete serial. It also marked the start of the project being overtaken by BBC Studios, as the earlier projects had been animated by various different studios. 

Power was animated on a limited budget and time constraints. As a result there were elements the creators wished they could improve. When they tackled The Macra Terror, they had more time and a slightly bigger budget. This made them want to go back and improve their first effort. And four years after the initial release, they have done just that. It is easy to wonder why they have decided to re-animate a story they’ve already done, especially when there are so many adventures left missing...but my guess is the cost to redo the animation here was minimal. I was struggling to see too many changes, so I went back to the first attempt to see where the changes were. 

In the end it seems that there are a few cosmetic improvements, but it does seem like a minor spruce up at best. I would guess that they reused 90% of the elements from the first one, it is just all around more polished. It is certainly a story that deserves to be given a more polished effort.  It is a very important story in the history of the show, so it doesn’t deserve a more shoddy animated reconstruction than, say, The Faceless Ones. I applaud the effort to improve this very important adventure, even if the end results aren’t shocking.  

In terms of Special Features, having some more of the newly discovered footage of the original is certainly a bonus.  It's nice that they use this release to add as much new content as they can. As a collector, I'd probably be just as inclined to wait until the inevitable Season 4 boxset for "The Collection" range that will no doubt contain everything on this release and more. 

If you bought the 2016 version, I find it hard to recommend upgrading. This is certainly an improvement...but is it really that much of an improvement? Not really. If you missed it the first time around and aren’t sure which to get...the 2020 version is the better looking presentation. Beyond that it is just a collector’s game. 

 

Power of the Daleks Special Edition can be ordered from Amazon





Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #2.3 (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 16 July 2020 - Reviewed by Kenny Scheck
The Thirteenth Doctor - Issue #2.3  (Credit: Titan Comics)

Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Roberta Ingranata
Colourist: Enrica Eren Angiolini

32 Pages

Published by Titan Comics - March 2020

Titan Comics team-up of the Tenth and Thirteenth Doctor continues, and it adds another twist into the tale.  While the Tenth Doctor with Graham, Yaz, and Ryan are able to escape into the TARDIS to avoid the Angels touch...the Thirteenth Doctor and Marhta discover that somehow the Autons are also mixed up in all of this.  

In this issue the two Doctors also meet up for the first time.  It leads to the usual bickering banter that tends to happen when two incarnations meet, but they also compare notes on what they’ve discovered thus far.  Obviously it seems that the Angels are behind the disappearances, but just how does the appearance of the Autons fit into all of this? The mystery will have to wait to be solved until later, as the team find themselves surrounded by Angels...though they make it into the TARDIS, something is trying to break in!

This is another strong entry in this adventure, and one can only hope that writer Jody Houser can end this story on a high note.