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.





Ground Zero (Panini Graphic Novel)Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 25 February 2020 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Ground Zero (Credit: Panini)

Written by Scott Gray, Alan Barnes, Gareth Roberts, Gary Russell, Sean Longcroft

Artwork by Martin Geraghty, Adrian Salmon, Sean Longcroft

Paperback: 132 Pages

Publisher: Panini UK LTD

Much like 2018's Land of the Blind, Ground Zero is a collection of different Doctor-lead strips from the 90s, which were all released in the gap between the ending of the Seventh Doctor era, and the start of the Eighth Doctor era.  Unlike that previous collection, there is an actual arc hidden within these stories, which culminates in the big finale of the collection's namesake "Ground Zero." This arc also played a role in the early adventures of the Eighth Doctor, as the main villains, The Threshold, would go on to be the major antagonist for the Eighth Doctor's first group of adventures (collected together in Endgame). This book has adventures featuring the Fifth, First, Third, Fourth, and Seventh Doctors and the grand return of the Seventh Doctor to the strip also marks one of the long-running strips most controversial moves in it's entire history.  

The opening of the book stars the Fifth Doctor and Peri, as they take on an Osiron Robot, similar to the ones from Pyramids of Mars.  It involves a Hollywood director attempting to use a Hollywood studio to perform an Egyptian ceremony that will release an ancient God of Locusts and gain power himself (using a studio set as the commotion will likely be ignored as filming). The Doctor, of course, foils this plan. While I didn’t find Alan Barnes’ story to be that exciting or interesting, it was lovely to see Martin Geraghty’s (who was the lead artist for the bulk of the Eighth Doctor run) beautiful black and white again. That made it worthwhile to me.

We then find the First Doctor and Susan have an adventure in London that takes place before the discovery of the TARDIS by Ian and Barbara in the series first episode, An Unearhtly Child. While the TARDIS is hiding in a junkyard, Susan and the Doctor stumble into an adventure with an alien attempting to turn humans into his own kind in order to help work his ship and escape Earth. The Doctor thwarts his efforts, as you’d expect. I found this story didn’t really work for me in any way. It was just too bland to get drawn into.

Up next was a shorter story starring the Third Doctor, one of the only stories in the set that doesn't have a connection to the finale.  Unlike the bulk of the book, this story is only one part and was drawn by Adrian Salmon, as opposed to Geraghty.  Overall this one is short and light, but I enjoyed it.  When it comes to classic Doctor strips, I want them to feel like they could easily fit into the era they come from.  The First Doctor story in this book doesn’t get tht right at all, but this is a perfect Third Doctor mini-adventure.  

We then travel to 2086 with the Fourth Doctor, Sarah Jane, and Harry as they fight off Russian Zombies and a man who goes full-on nuclear.  It’s one of the stronger stories in the book. I liked the visuals Geraghty brought to this one, and Gary Russell’s story is pretty solid.  I don’t have a lot to say on this one, mostly because it is just a fairly good read, not too many critiques to expand upon that. The Fourth Doctor also reappears in the final story of the book, which is a goofy strip in which the writer put himself into the strip, and it's a fourth-wall-breaking joke about the strip itself...one that served as the final random Doctor tale before the Eighth Doctor took over in the next issue. 

Really, it all culminates in "Ground Zero," which saw the Seventh Doctor return to the pages of the strip for the first time in two years.  His time on the strip had always been a bit rocky.  It started off shaky with little stories that were often hit or miss, then finally found a voice when the show was cancelled and the TV writers began to continue the journey on the strip itself, but then lost its way again when the Virgin New Adventures novel series began and the strip was forced to play second fiddle to the books. Communication between the folks behind the Virgin series and the folks at Doctor Who Magazine wasn’t always in order, and their synergy didn’t always work.  A comic strip that relies on you having read two novels doesn’t work…and if you are reading both the strip and the novels, having two similar Silurian stories printed around the same time isn’t helpful either.  

So Gary Russell, who at the time was editor of the magazine, just decided to end the Seventh Doctor entirely.  When the TV Movie came out and they were going to get the rights to have the Eighth Doctor, who was essentially a clean slate and a chance to start fresh and with a bit of direction again, they decided that they ought to have one final adventure for the Seventh Doctor, to finally give him a proper send-off from the strip.  And they really went for it.  

The strip totally breaks continuity with the Virgin books, gives the comics their own conclusion for the Seventh Doctor and Ace, and the path it set up was the spark that fueled the DWM strip for years to come. Instead of the older, edgier, darker version of Ace that had developed in the novels, the strip returned her to a state closer to how she had been when the TV series ended.  And then the strip did something majorly bold.  If you don’t want SPOILERS, then beware, I am about to get into them.  

The story involves the Threshold (who also serve as the antagonists in the early days of hte Eighth Doctor), and how they work for some monsters who live in the collective unconscious of humans and want to escape to the physical plane and destroy mankind.  In the process, the Threshold take three companions from the Doctor’s past (Peri during her adventure in the opening story, Susan from the second, and Sarah from the preceding adventure), and use them to lure the Doctor in. Susan, it turns out, can’t actually head into this other dimension, as it would destroy her mind, just as it would the Doctor. But the human companions can handle it.  The Doctor finds a way in, which nearly destroys the TARDIS (setting up his remodel seen in the TV movie), and he manages to stop the monsters…but not without dire consequences: the death of Ace.  Killing Ace was controversial to say the least, particularly as it drew a clear line in the sand as to where the comics now stood in terms of continuity with the novels.  

Going forward, the Eighth Doctor strips were excellent, especially when it came to building up their arcs and expanding upon what came before…and a major seed for that excellent era of Doctor Who Magazine comics is right here.  Ground Zero is a pivotal moment in the history of Doctor Who comics.  It was a bold statement that set the strips apart from the Virgin novel line, and the plot was important to the early days of the Eighth Doctor (though you can easily read the Eighth Doctor strips without having read "Ground Zero," as I did when it was reprinted years ago, but it is nice to get that background finally).  

As a whole package, the stories are slightly uneven.  The Third Doctor entry “Target Practice” doesn’t play into the overall story (though it is fun), and the other three Doctor tales are only tangentially connected to the final epic conclusion (and the First Doctor adventure is decidedly bland)…but that conclusion is something else. Even if you don’t agree with what the strip did in that moment, you have to give it props for being interesting.  It’s a good story too, regardless of the controversial elements.  And that finale makes this whole book worth it.





Doctor Who - The Third Doctor Adventures - Vol 5Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 31 August 2019 - Reviewed by Damian Christie
Doctor Who - The Third Doctor Adventures - Vol 5

Stars: Tim Treloar, Katy Manning, Jon Culshaw,
Daisy Ashford, John Levene, Michael Troughton,
Bethan Dixon Bate, Joe Jameson, Andrew Wincott,
Rosalyn Landor, David Dobson, Dominic Wood, Guy Adams
Written by John Dorney and Guy Adams
Directed by Nicholas Briggs
Big Finish Productions, 2019

“Run free, my children, run free! Spread out! Soon everyone in England will be a Primord!”

With the recent centenary of Jon Pertwee’s birth, it would probably amaze the actor that his work is still celebrated today. The Season 10 classic series Blu-Ray boxset of Doctor Who has recently been launched, highlighting both Pertwee’s Third Doctor and the “UNIT family”: Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Richard Franklin (Captain Mike Yates) and John Levene (Sergeant Benton). It’s the third season in what was a hugely successful Doctor/support team for the program (1971-73) – and would also signal the beginning of the end of the Pertwee era.

Big Finish has complemented the timing of the Blu-Ray release with Volume 5 of The Third Doctor Adventures, featuring two further additions to the “Pertwee canon”. As a regular listener and reviewer of the Big Finish Doctor Who range, until now I’ve largely avoided the “further adventures” of the first three Doctors, preferring to focus on later incarnations and modern series content. There has probably been an element of snootiness involved there – as much as I’m a child of the Seventies (the Pertwee era of Doctor Who is the earliest I can remember), I was sceptical of serials with other actors recreating the roles of late, iconic performers like Pertwee and Courtney.

For example, I’ve enjoyed Jon Culshaw’s impressions for more than a decade but could he really do Courtney justice and recreate the Brigadier? I mean, Kamelion, yes, but the Brig? And who was this Tim Treloar bloke that he qualified to succeed the great Pertwee as the Third Doctor? Never mind that a rudimentary search of the Big Finish website reveals Treloar has done quite a lot of work for the company’s output and that on IMDB he’s been a long-time thesp in TV and film, clocking up appearances on The Bill, Foyle’s War, Silent Witness, Father Brown and Call the Midwife, as well as a cameo in Disney blockbuster Maleficent! Strangely, I’ve never before had any issue with the recasting of the First Doctor on television (both Richard Hurndall and David Bradley) but clearly when it came to BF’s recasting of earlier Doctors, I had more of a bugbear than I realised!

I’m therefore pleased to report that my doubts and scepticism were horribly misplaced. Not only do Treloar and Culshaw deliver outstanding portrayals of the Third Doctor and the Brigadier but the two stories that make up this set – Primord and The Scream of Ghosts – are very faithful to the tone of the writing of the period and wonderfully evocative of the Pertwee era, particularly in their use of sound effects and incidental music. The inclusion of Manning (in both tales) and Levene (in The Scream of Ghosts), both portraying their parts in a youthful manner that’s in spite of their true age, further cements the impression that these two tales could very plausibly (with some minor exceptions) have neatly slotted into the Pertwee era.

John Dorney’s Primord is an indirect sequel to the early Pertwee classic Inferno. As Dorney points out in the CD extras, the Primords in the original TV serial were largely surplus to the greater parallel universe/apocalyse scenario. They served as the generic “monster of the week”, memorable for their faux hairy make-up and canines, but with little development whatsoever. In this tale, Dorney seeks to make the creatures more three-dimensional and empathetic – the Primords are all pawns in a greater scheme by quarters of the British political and military brass and at least two of them are originally people that mean something to companions Jo and Liz Shaw (Daisy Ashford, recreating her mother Caroline John’s character).

There is also an implied intelligence and cunning to the Primords that only becomes evident as the broader story takes shape – and is exhibited by the most unexpected of antagonists. It’s a great twist that propels the plot further along in the third and fourth episodes after a gradual build-up in the first two instalments.

The performances of the supporting cast in Primord all contribute to an outstanding script and production. Michael Troughton (the other son of Second Doctor Patrick) relishes the opportunity to play the villainous General Sharp, while Bethan Dixon Bate is the amoral defence secretary Lady Madeleine Rose whose political ambitions clearly override any consideration for the welfare of the Primords or the victims of their weaponisation.

But again, in a story where all but one of the four major characters has been recast, it is Ashford’s turn as Liz that is particularly impressive. Ashford’s voice is almost indistinguishable from her mother’s, in a way that Treloar’s is not from Pertwee’s nor Culshaw’s from Courtney’s; Treloar and Culshaw at times sound very much like the Doctor and the Brigadier but there are other times when their natural inflections inevitably creep in. That’s not as noticeable with Ashford – perhaps that’s the advantage of being related – but Liz’s role in the story also benefits from the twist in her regular characterisation. This no doubt gives Ashford some more freedom with her interpretation, whereas Treloar’s and Culshaw’s portrayals have to be largely consistent with type.

Another highlight of Primord is the pairing of the Brigadier and Jo Grant – which, to the best of my knowledge, never happened on TV! – as they investigate Sharp’s operation while the Doctor works with Liz on a cure to the Primord virus. Culshaw and Manning make this combination work so well that they literally become the heroes of the story in the Doctor’s absence, particularly as events escalate and they stand as the only true levels of resistance to Sharp and the broader Primord threat. You never truly doubt that it is the Brigadier and Jo that you are listening in on.

“Harmonise the signal …”

The Brigadier and Jo are briefly paired together during the proceedings of Guy Adams’ The Scream of Ghosts but rather than split off, the regulars in the Doctor/UNIT family are switched and swapped numerous times throughout the plot. Sergeant Benton, for example, has a nice moment of introspection with the Doctor as he relates how his absence of a social life outside of UNIT prompted him to join a group of CB radio enthusiasts from around the world to broaden his horizons. It’s a wonderful moment of rare sincerity glimpsed in Benton and it is deftly delivered by John Levene, performing the part for the first time in these Third Doctor dramatisations.

Big Finish, being the specialist that it is, has throughout its 20 years of delivering Doctor Who for audio done some wonderfully inventive things with sound, dating back to early instalments like Justin Richards’ Whispers of Terror (1999). The Scream of Ghosts also imaginatively utilises sound as a core plot point. Guy Adams explains in the CD extras that his script is evocative of sound in a great many forms – it embraces the concept of hauntology (ie of structures capturing and evoking atmosphere and sound), explores early developments in mobile telephony through arrogant and capricious scientist Professor Caldicott (Rosalyn Landor) and her assistant Armitage (David Dobson), and, in aspiring musician Warren Deckland (Dominic Wood), portrays the general fascination of instrumentalists since the Sixties and Seventies with experimental music and sound, including musique concrète.

In many ways, the story is quite self-referential, given Doctor Who’s iconic theme tune and experimental, electronic sound effects were themselves products of some outstanding young minds (eg Delia Derbyshire, Brian Hodgkinson). Warren even closes out the story by mixing the theme tune when the Doctor leaves him with recordings of the story’s very own extra-terrestrial menace – a “cheat” that was effectively used by the TV program occasionally in the Pertwee era to bridge its own cliffhangers!

As a tale, The Scream of Ghosts is entertaining “Pertwee fare”, with an old TV foe (familiar to us as listeners, not necessarily the Doctor) rearing its ugly head. This particular alien race was pretty underwhelming on TV, and indeed has remarkably enjoyed more of a charmed life in Doctor Who spin-off fiction than they’ve probably deserved (I must admit to being staggered by their multiple appearances in other Big Finish stories). Adams’ own renditions of the enemy are unsurprisingly full of their trademark volume and pomposity but unfortunately the prior baggage of their lone TV appearance (for this listener, at least) continues to undermine whatever menace and authority they have. Even the Primords, by comparison, don’t suffer in the same way, even though they arguably were the weakest link in Inferno too.

It’s a pity because were the antagonist more convincing and sinister, The Scream of Ghosts would probably be a great – rather than just a good – serial. Certainly, it’s spooky and atmospheric in parts, playing on many of the insecurities in viewers/listeners that the Pertwee era was very good at exploiting, eg electronic poltergeists that beg for help, static-filled TV sets that seemingly swallow up their owners and unnerving voices that talk through inactive earpieces. As it is, it is just edged out by Primord as the better of the two tales.

Given the writers of both serials have kindly story doctored the other’s work, another intriguing and enjoyable aspect of this boxset is the loose continuity between them. Gender politics and diversity are very strongly felt in both tales, with Jo remarking that between meeting Liz in Primord and Caldicott in Ghosts, she is getting used to suddenly meeting more women with scientific credentials!

Given both stories are0 set in the Seventies, there is an acknowledgement that women were only beginning to be trailblazers (Daisy Ashford remarks in the extras that even her own mother Caroline John did not realise that as Liz she paved the way for more positive female role models). Liz complains that despite her prior knowledge of the Primord virus, she was approached second for expert advice. Similarly, Caldicott has spent a decade proving that her work in mobile telephony is valid, to the scepticism of a male-dominated telecommunications establishment; she therefore doesn’t take kindly to being lectured by a “patriarch in a cape” when the Doctor admits that he was not aware of her work largely because he knows (from future knowledge) that the real advances in mobile phone technology will occur in America, not England.

The difference between Liz and Caldicott, though, is that the former does not take either chauvinism or a lack of appreciation for her scientific prowess too personally; she continues to work at her best, in spite of the glass ceiling. Caldicott, on the other hand, is clearly bitter and frustrated with her lack of progress over a significant period of time and is consequentially hostile to both men and women alike.

It’s also great to see Jo herself, despite her unsuccessful O-levels in elementary school science, proving that you don’t need a super IQ to save the world. In Primord, Jo is a little intimidated by Liz’s scientific prowess but in Ghosts there is no one the Doctor trusts more to save the day – and the planet. Indeed, in a nod to Doctor Who serials of the modern era, Jo becomes literally and figuratively the most important person on Earth, even giving the antagonist the Doctor’s usual ultimatum of a last chance to stand down or suffer total defeat. To reinforce that she doesn’t have the Doctor’s near omnipotence, there’s a nice scene where she turns to UNIT’s original Osgood (from The Daemons) for advice.

There are other nice little touches of continuity between the serials as well. Jo’s affection for dogs is referenced in both tales – the characters of Private Callahan (Joe Jameson) and Warren have four-legged friends. There’s even a joke in Ghosts about (to quote Culshaw’s Brigadier) “damn fool fire extinguishers” when UNIT’s finest are assaulted by one – they are also the “weapon of choice” in fighting the Primords. While Primord and The Scream of Ghosts can be enjoyed independently of the other, they feature “Easter eggs” that enhance the listening experience.

The Third Doctor Adventures Vol 5 is a highly pleasurable listening experience, and a good introduction for listeners (like me) that have until now eschewed this “continuation” of the Pertwee era. In all, this set of serials not only successfully recaptures the nostalgia of the Third Doctor’s tenure extremely well – both through the music and sound effects, and the exceptional performances of Pertwee’s, Courtney’s and John’s surrogates – it also highlights just how unforgiving, sexist and regressive the Seventies could be on matters of gender equality and diversity. To the BF production team’s credit, it tackles these issues without putting on the “rose-tinted spectacles” while maintaining the “feel” and atmosphere of the Pertwee era.






Doctor Who At The BFI - Planet of the Daleks & Q and A with Katy ManningBookmark and Share

Sunday, 16 June 2019 - Reviewed by Matt Tiley

CAN I JUST SAY THAT I WAS SAT IN THE SAME ROW AS KATY MANNING, AND TWO ROWS DOWN FROM FRANK SKINNER!?

 

Anyway, that’s enough of that fan...........wallowing! So, on Saturday 15th June, DWN was invited along to the BFI to see this special edition episode of the Pertwee classic, Planet of the Daleks. A story that is now 46 years old and that is showing to promote not only the upcoming series 10 Blu-ray box set but also to show off what the restoration team have managed to do with the original material. So, to the (literal) strains of Roberta Tovey's Who's Who, I entered the auditorium.

 

I have to confess, I’ve not seen this story since it’s release on DVD some years ago, but it does have a fond place in my heart. Why? Well, it has the Pertwee ‘A-Team’ in it; he and Manning never looked better on the small screen than during series 10. Pertwee himself was at the top of his game, and the show looked great. Yes, you can see the studio walls, but the jungle setting looks sumptuous, and the vicious plants incredibly imaginative. I love this TARDIS set, with its pull out bed, hidden oxygen tanks, and that weird entry threshold thing where you can see the outside....from the inside through the interior doors of the TARDIS. Odd, but very cool.

 

Being a direct follow on from Frontier In Space, which I always thought was just a long and drawn out trailer for this very story, it does suffer somewhat from Terry Nation’s writing tropes, but it’s still a cracking Dalek story, with some great cliffhangers, and fantastic character actors such as Prentis Hancock, and Bernard Horsefall. There is also David Maloney on directing duties.

 

As with a lot of the content on these new Blu-ray releases, the special effects have been spruced up somewhat (a feature that you can toggle on and off when watching the Blu-ray at home). Some of the effects are very impressive (the Dalek ship for instance) and some are so well blended in that you don’t notice them until the story has moved on. The standout, however, is, of course, the destruction of the Dalek army in the final episode. When I think back to the original, all I remember is awfully rendered, pathetic looking toy Daleks and bad lava effects. What we have here though is a complete CGI reimagining of the scene that adds real gravitas to the whole thing, and brings the effects bang up to date.

 

Sadly, upscaling a story like this is not all good. I thought as nice as the picture was, it suffered a bit by being on the big screen (I’m hoping it will look better at home). I also noticed a string on an ascending Dalek, Pertwee’s makeup, and how poor a state the Dalek props were in.

 

Story-wise, as mentioned earlier, it’s a Nation classic. He knows how to handle his Daleks and his mercenaries. But his female characters not so much. Some of the dialogue had the audience in stitches, especially that classic scene where Jo goes to find the bombs....and please, the less said about her brief 'romance', the better. Obviously, this is a window into a very different era of storytelling, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so harsh.

 

After the show, there was a quiz, that Katy helped out with, running up and down the auditorium like a blind teenager. There was also a look at some of the newly filmed extras - Keeping Up With The Jones looks absolutely lovely, as do the Behind the Sofa vignettes featuring Manning, John Levene and Richard Franklin - their chemistry together, even now positively sizzles.

 

We then moved onto the Q and A and I must say that Manning was charming, funny and very engaging. She regaled the audience from how Pertwee started to wear hair rollers to hide his bald spot (which Katy had pointed out to him to his horror), to her heartbreak at leaving the show and moving on all of those years ago.

 

This reviewer really enjoyed the afternoon, if I had one slightly negative observation....well not so much as an observation, as a feeling in my buttocks - it would be that these showings would be better suited to four-part stories.

 

Oh! I nearly forgot! Inside scoop! The next Blu-ray box set will be announced Tuesday 18th June. Make your bets now, ladies and gentlemen.

 




Horrors of War (BBC Audio)Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 29 August 2018 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Horrors Of War (Credit: BBC Audio)
Written by Justin Richards
Read By Katy Manning

Released by BBC Worldwide - July 2018
Available from Amazon UK

Writer Justin Richards continues his warped timeline of World War I storyline (started in Men of War) in this Third Doctor original Audiobook read by Katy Manning, which follows up on the lead that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand survived his assassination and the war was delayed somehow.  The Third Doctor regrets having done nothing about the discrepancy after he discovered it in his first incarnation, but as that story took place in the midst of the Daleks' Master Plan, I suppose he was busy at the time. 

In this installment the Third Doctor and Jo Grant end up in an earlier part of the war, and meet the nurse who had saved the Archduke from death, and figure out who was possessed and causing the time disruptions. 

Manning's reading is highly entertaining, and the story is just as interesting as Men of War had been, though with a slightly better ending this time around.  I still feel like there is a loose thread, as the Archduke still seems to have survived...and now the Third Doctor isn't busy...so why not solve this? If he did solve it, it was so brushed over that it did a disservice to the story. 

We still have one more of these audiobooks to go in this series, so I suppose it will all be wrapped up then.  For a quick light adventure, these Audiobooks are decent fun, but they leave a little to be desired in the story department.  But Katy Manning is always fun and she does a great job reading this story. 





Land of the Blind (Panini Graphic Novel)Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 19 July 2018 - Reviewed by Ken Scheck
Land of the Blind (Credit: Panini)
Written by Dan Abnett, Gareth Roberts, Nick Briggs, Kate Orman, Scott Gray
Artwork by Colin Andrew, Enid Orc, Martin Geraghty, Barrie Mitchell, Lee Sullivan
Paperback: 132 pages
Publisher: Panini UK LTD

Available from Amazon UK

In the mid-90s, with Doctor Who off the air for a few years and showing no signs of returning, Doctor Who Magazine Editor Gary Russell tired of the comic strip playing second fiddle to the Seventh Doctor novel series, and decided it was time to change it up. Instead of continuing to have confusing continuities with a book series that possibly not all readers were reading, he decided that the Comic Strip should forge it's own path.  The first step to that was to stop the Seventh Doctor adventures in the strip. This was a bold move, because up to that point the Doctor Who Magazine strip had been pretty much running continuously in a variety of publications, but had always featured the most recent Doctor. Instead, the long running strip would now focus on different Doctor adventures.  Land of the Blind is a collection of the first batch of these comics, and features a story each for the First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Doctors.

The book opens with the Fourth Doctor story "Victims," which has the Doctor and Romana thwart a plot to take down the Human Empire via beauty products on a Fashionista Planet.  The story here is okay, and the art is pretty bad, but there is a bit of charm to the premise...it is just rushed.  We then move forward the Fifth Doctor who has an adventure on the Moon with some evil Space Cows.  That is just the kind of bonkers premise I like in Doctor Who, particularly in comic form.  Following from there we venture back to the First Doctor with Ben and Polly, in which they battle a giant slug that is eating cryogenically frozen people or something.  It is fast paced and hollow, with little substance. It also doesn't really capture the tone of those early 60s stories.

The next stop is the Third Doctor, who is reunited with his first companion Liz Shaw as they stop a Professor who is using psychokinetic powers to kill his perceived adversaries. This story captures the tone of the Third Doctor era pretty well, and tries to give more detail to the offscreen exit of Liz Shaw from the TV series, which is nice.  The final two stories both feature the Second Doctor.  First up is the titular Land of the Blind and has the Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe save a spaceport from some alien overlords who have trapped them there for decades. This is a pretty good story, with a good script and good art.  The last story in the volume is a one-off from a a Doctor Who Magazine special, called "Bringer of Darkness" which is told from the perspective of Second Doctor companion Victoria Waterfield, as she explains of an adventure with the Daleks that made her realize that her time with the Doctor was going to need to end soon.  It is a short but solid piece, with some good character development, including some stuff about the Doctor that surprisingly has paid off in the years to come.

While not the most cohesive period, for the strip, it is an interesting one.  There may not be a uniting factor behind all of the stories, whether that be a single Writer or Artist, or even a continuing plot thread.  But it does have some fun random adventures for these past Doctors. They are all pretty short and light, but that isn't always a bad thing.  Only a few feel like they rush to the finish line. I think this was sort of a lost period for the strip.  The Seventh Doctor had run his course, especially with all the Novel Continuity clogging up the works, and they didn't really find their voice again until the Eighth Doctor would finally launch as the star of the strip. So here is this weird little period, where they are trying to figure out their voice again, and they didn't even really have a regular Doctor starring.  As a bit of a novelty, this volume collects together some interesting stuff.  It may not be the best collection they have put together, but I still enjoy reading these old black and white strips.