Tag Archives: Doctor Who Magazine

Doctor Who Magazine iPhone and iPad App a Welcome Addition for Non-UK Based Fans

Standard

Image

The recent launch by Apple of an iPhone and iPad app for the Doctor Who Magazine is sure to be welcomed by fans of the 50 year old television programme, particularly those outside of the United Kingdom.  Sales of the print version of the 34 year old publication hit an all time high in the second half of 2013. The Audit Bureau of Circulations (UK) certified DWM’s circulation at 36,151, an increase of 26% over the previous twelve months. This figure is all the more exceptional when compared to the overall consumer magazine market in the UK which dropped 6.3% during the same period.  The press release on this outstanding achievement can be read here.

Whilst these increasing circulations figures evidence an expanding market for Doctor Who in the UK, fans outside of Britain have long experienced difficulties in obtaining the magazine in an efficient and cost effective manner. In Australia, for example, DWM is not stocked in newsagencies and can only be purchased by costly (and sometimes dodgy) annual subscriptions or as a “one-off” from a multitude of eBay sellers.  The current edition, number 470, will set an Australian fan back at least $28.00 and take more than a fortnight to arrive from the UK.  Special editions are even more expensive.  The 50th Anniversary edition (467) cost me $45.00!

Apple DWM Screen

Imagine my delight when I discovered the Apple DWM app. Currently available for sale are all issues from February 2013 (456) to date, together with Special Editions 34, 35 and 36 which feature the missing episodes of the First and Second Doctors.  Issues 466 to 470 are currently retailing for $6.49; issues 456 to 465 for $4.49, and Special Editions 34, 35 and 36 for $8.49.  A 12 month subscription is available for less than $45.00.

The November 2013 (465) edition of DWM featuring exclusive interviews with Doctors  4-8 is available for purchase and download

The November 2013 (465) edition of DWM featuring exclusive interviews with Doctors 4-8 is available for purchase and download

The Apple DWM app is a direct scan from the print version and has not been formatted specifically for iPhones and iPads. One page is presented per screen, or two pages if the device is rotated 90 degrees. On a standard iPad Air this generally permits the text to be read, although use of the zoom function conveniently increases text size for less eye strain.  The comic script reproduces well and can in most instances be read without zooming.  Reading DWM on an iPhone 5 is impossible without repetitive zooming and scrolling. Except for the Contents page and cover the app is not interactive so completing the crossword online is impossible. Automatically accessing articles from the Contents page and cover is a nice addition.  A useful help screen provides instructions for navigating the digital edition.  Let’s hope that a fully interactive tablet specific app is soon introduced, together with an Android version for non-Apple users.

Pages 6 and 7 of the current edition of DWM (470) showing scan when the iPad is held sideways

Pages 6 and 7 of the current edition of DWM (470) showing scan when the iPad is held sideways

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2014.

Advertisements

Enemy of the World Region 4 DVD Release 27 November

Standard

ImageThe recently recovered missing serial The Enemy of the World is set for DVD release in Australia and New Zealand on 27 November 2013. Although both The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear were released on iTunes Australia on 11 October, neither of the serials are available on iTunes in New Zealand.  Like Australia, New Zealand has purchased and aired Doctor Who since the very first story, An Unearthly Child, almost 50 years ago.  The BBC’s snub of New Zealand fans is deplorable. As The Web of Fear is not due for DVD release until sometime in the new year, New Zealanders still have a long wait to see the Brigadier’s debut. 

Details on what, if any, special features are included in The Enemy of the World have yet to be released.  The latest issue of the Doctor Who Magazine states that “Enemy is due to be released on DVD in November, along with special features yet to be confirmed”. The British Board of Film Classification appears not to have approved any special features to date. A basic release without special features has become known in fandom as a “vanilla” release.

The current edition of the Doctor Who Magazine with The Enemy of the World Cover.  This edition of DWM is also available with a special edition cover featuring The Web of Fear

The current edition of the Doctor Who Magazine with The Enemy of the World cover. This edition of DWM is also available with a special edition cover featuring The Web of Fear

Enemy is currently available for pre-order at both the BBC Doctor Who online store and the ABC Shop for $19.95.  As both retailers ordinarily sell new release Doctor Who classic series DVDs for $29.95 one wonders if the discounted price reflects a “vanilla” release. Alternatively, the reduced price may be based upon the assumption that purchasers have previously bought the release for $14.99 on iTunes.  Only time will tell!

A Radio Times produced retro poster for The Enemy of the World

A Radio Times produced retro poster for The Enemy of the World

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Space Pirates

Standard

Image

Coming in at 195 in the 2009 Doctor Who Magazine Mighty 200, The Space Pirates has the unfortunate reputation as the least popular Patrick Troughton era Doctor Who serial. It is also the last story that is missing from the BBC Archives.  For anyone undertaking a complete marathon this alone is a cause for much celebration. But is The Space Pirates really as bad as its renown would suggest?  In the absence of five of the six episodes, the answer is largely a moot point.  A particularly visual story, The Space Pirates suffers inordinately from the absence of moving pictures.  Moreover, the complete absence of any telesnaps for the serial has made its reconstruction astonishingly difficult. John Cura had taken 35mm photographs from his television screen of the vast majority of Doctor Who episodes.  Generally providing between 70 and 80 photos per programme, these images have become an important record of otherwise lost Doctor Who visuals.  Cura had ceased photographing and selling his telesnaps to the BBC not long prior to his death in April 1969. For further information on John Cura and his telesnaps please see About the Doctor Who Mind Robber.

The Doctor and Jamie upon arrival in The Space Pirates

The Doctor and Jamie upon arrival in The Space Pirates

As if any further hindrances were required, the soundtrack for The Space Pirates is the most muddy of the entire fan recorded missing episode audios.  The renegade old time prospector, Milo Clancey, is frequently credited as the stand-out character in the serial.  I have to admit, however, to finding it almost impossible to comprehend what he was saying. Portrayed by the New Zealand born Australian actor, Gordon Gostelow, Clancey has one of the worst faux American accents in Doctor Who’s illustrious history. It’s not the American accent, however, that I find difficult to understand. Although my hearing is generally fairly reasonable, I very occasionally have difficulty understanding male voices on TV.  When last I had a hearing test the audiologist provided me with a detailed explanation of the reasons why.  I won’t bore you with the details, but hasten to add that the muddy soundtrack of The Space Pirates made it nigh on impossible for me understand most of the largely male cast.

The old time pioneer of space exploration, Milo Clancey

The old time pioneer of space exploration, Milo Clancey

Writing a review of a story bereft of visual images and with a soundtrack which I could barely understand makes for a particularly difficult task.  It’s for that reason that my observations on The Space Pirates will be reasonably short and sweet. I highly recommend that you view the second part of Loose Cannon’s introduction to The Space Pirates, the link for which appears below.   The audio for this introduction, I might add, is crystal clear and provides an excellent summary of several “firsts” for the story, including Doctor Who’s first space opera;  first pirate take on a traditional American Western theme; first episode recorded on 35 mm film; first recording in Television Centre 4;  first episode (save for Mission to the Unknown) in which no regular cast members were present for a studio recording; and finally, the first time that John Nathan-Turner worked on a Doctor Who episode.   The Space Pirates is also credited for having the greatest time lapse between the commencement of an episode and the appearance of the Doctor and his companions.  Emerging onscreen fifteen minutes into the first episode, this is even longer than the 14 minutes it took for the Eleventh Doctor to appear in the Series Seven episode, The Crimson Horror.

The Doctor and his crew collapsed

The Doctor and his crew collapsed

It would be remiss if I failed to mention Madelaine Issigri’s fabulous metal hair.  Women’s wigs in the near future are not only made of metal, but are also styled with an exceptionally large beehive at the back, as opposed to the top, of the head.  It’s just brilliant! Whilst discussing women’s fashion, Zoe’s hotpants are just divine.

Madelaine Issigri had the most fabulous metal wig

Madelaine Issigri had the most fabulous metal wig

That wig again!

That wig again!

Zoe's hotpants

Zoe’s hotpants

The Doctor and his companions were noticeably absent from the greater part of The Space Pirates and could be fairly said to have played supporting roles.  Patrick Troughton’s request for a lighter acting role undoubtedly accounted for this to some degree.  In respect of the final episode, the TARDIS crew were heavily engaged in the location shoot for their final adventure, The War Games.  Accordingly the Doctor, Zoe and Jamie only appeared in pre-filmed inserts for that episode. The results of the Crew’s location filming will be evident in my next review as we say farewell to the monochrome era of Doctor Who, and the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe, in The War Games. 

The Space Pirates was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 March and 12 April 1969

The Space Pirates was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 March and 12 April 1969

Episode two of The Space Pirates has been released on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

Episode two of The Space Pirates has been released on the triple DVD set Lost in Time


Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Evil of the Daleks

Standard

Image

Season four draws to a close with the Daleks’ last appearance in Doctor Who for five years in The Evil of the Daleks. Ranked 18th in the Doctor Who Magazine’s Mighty 200 poll of 2009, this serial bears all the hallmarks of a classic. The most highly placed Second Doctor story in the poll, The Evil of the Daleks displays a hitherto unseen darkness in the Doctor’s character. By melding the BBC’s panache for period piece Victoriana drama and the futuristic world of Skaro, the serial arranges the Daleks in a threatening new light.

The Doctor looks on as Edward Waterfield and Theodore Maxtible discuss their experiment

The Doctor looks on as Edward Waterfield and Theodore Maxtible discuss their experiment

Written by David Whitaker, The Evil of the Daleks in part draws upon Whitaker’s own Dalek cartoons which were a feature in TV Century 21 magazine. Published over 104 issues in 1965 and 1966, the Dalek cartoons featured a Dalek Emperor, the titular head of the Daleks not hitherto encountered in the television series.  In cartoon form the Dalek Emperor was more similar in appearance to the 1988 Dalek Emperor of Remembrance of the Daleks than the large elaborate one of The Evil of the Daleks. That a Dalek spin off cartoon should influence the television production of Doctor Who clearly exhibits how iconic the Daleks had become in the mythology of Doctor Who during those early years.

The Dalek Emperor first appeared in the David Whitaker penned Dalek cartoons published in TV Century 21 magazine

The Dalek Emperor first appeared in the David Whitaker penned Dalek cartoons published in TV Century 21 magazine

The Dalek Emperor of the comics was more faithfully reproduced in the 1988 serial Remembrance of the Daleks

The Dalek Emperor of the comics was more faithfully reproduced in the 1988 serial Remembrance of the Daleks

The Doctor co-operates with the Daleks in putting Jamie to a test in saving the daughter of Edward Waterfield, Victoria who has been imprisoned by the Daleks. In doing so the Doctor engages in an uncharacteristic argument with Jamie with the sole intention of utilizing reverse psychology to obtain his own ends.  The Doctor tells Jamie that he has never purported that “the ends justify the means”, however Jamie consider this to be mere words.  “You and me, we’re finished.  You’re just too callous for me”, Jamie says to the Doctor. “Anything goes by the board.  Anything at all”.

Jamie's task is to save the companion-in-waiting, Victoria Waterfield, from the Daleks

Jamie’s task is to save the companion-in-waiting, Victoria Waterfield, from the Daleks

The test which Jamie was undertaking would enable the Daleks to plot and distil those essential human characteristics that had until then always permitted humans to defeat the Daleks. Courage, pity, chivalry, friendship, and compassion were some of those virtues and emotions that Jamie exhibited in his trial to rescue Victoria.  When three dormant Daleks were impregnated with the “human factor” they behaved in a somewhat unexpected manner. Episode five ends with the Doctor being taken for a “train” ride by a Dalek.  “Jamie, they’re taking me for a ride” the Doctor exclaims in delight, “they’re playing a game”.  Episode six opens with the Doctor advising that the Daleks are only children, but will grow up very quickly – in a matter of hours, in fact. He advises the baby Daleks that Jamie is a friend and to their delight gives each of them a name – Alpha, Beta and Omega.

Jamie and the Doctor drink coffee in a cafe during episode one

Jamie and the Doctor drink coffee in a cafe during episode one

Despite their childish play the Daleks do not take on the comic like features that they did in The Chase. The Doctor’s oldest foes remained menacing because  of their radical and quick transformation back to their dangerous and menacing form. By impregnating a large number of Daleks with the “human factor” the Doctor incites a Dalek Civil War as the humanized Daleks question the orders of their superiors. Never before had the Daleks questioned “why” they automatically follow commands.  This was very much a human trait. Notwithstanding that total genocide of the Daleks is a possible consequence of the Civil War, the Doctor nonetheless  encourages their destruction.  This is very much at odds with the classic stand of the Fourth Doctor in Genesis of the Daleks.

The Evil of the Daleks – 3D Animation – Prelude to the Civil War

Victoria's father, Edward Waterhouse, sacrifices himself to save the Doctor

Victoria’s father, Edward Waterhouse, sacrifices himself to save the Doctor

The chief human baddie, Theodore Maxtible, looks surprisingly like our most common images of Karl Marx.  I wonder if that was intentional? Although the Daleks were conjured into Maxtible’s 1866 Victorian home by mistake, he is nevertheless keen to make what he can out of the Daleks’ technology.  Waterfield co-ops the Doctor and Jamie’s assistance against their will but for the more honourable cause of having his daughter freed.  Waterfield is disturbed by the death that surrounds him and his complicity with the destruction caused. When he accuses Maxtible of constantly avoiding reality – that people are dying because of them – Maxtible remains indignant. “We are not to blame for everything that has happened” he said “No English judge or jury would find it in their hearts to convict us of one solitary thing”. The legality of what they had done was not Waterfield’s concern, but clearly the morality of it.  He went on to state that he would confess his role in everything once Victoria was released.  Unfortunately that opportunity was never afforded to him as he sacrificed his life to save the Doctor.

The character of Theodore Maxtible, played by Marius Goring, bears an uncanny resemblance to Karl Marx

The character of Theodore Maxtible, played by Marius Goring, bears an uncanny resemblance to Karl Marx

The real Karl Marx

The real Karl Marx

The “human factor” in The Evil of the Daleks would re-emerge in a somewhat different form, as DNA, in the Rob Sherman penned Dalek in 2005. In the first Dalek story of New Series Doctor Who, companion Rose Tyler replenishes a long dormant Dalek by placing her hand upon it.  Her DNA enables the Dalek to regenerate its casing and break free of the chains that have bound it. Later the Dalek experiences human emotions as a consequence of the human DNA.  Psychologically traumatised by emotions that are alien to Daleks, the Dalek commits suicide after commanding Rose to order its own death.  The “human factor” in The Evil of the Daleks, which precipitated questioning, the Dalek Civil War and ultimately the (temporary) Dalek destruction, had the same decimating effect on the pepper pot’s psychology and continued existence in Dalek.

Rose Tyler comforts a Dalek in the 2005 episode Dalek, thereby transferring some of her DNA to it

Rose Tyler comforts a Dalek in the 2005 episode Dalek, thereby transferring some of her DNA to it

Rose is compelled to order the Dalek's own destruction as it is psychologically traumatized by its human DNA

Rose is compelled to order the Dalek’s own destruction as it is psychologically traumatized by the human DNA

The Evil of the Daleks has aged badly in respect of its racial stereotyping of the character of Kemel.  Played by the West Indian born Sonny Caldinez, Kemel is a Turkish wrestler and strongman for Maxtible.  Although possessed of almost super-human strength, Kemel is both unintelligent and mute. He’s almost the kind of character that you would expect in a First Doctor story, as William Hartnell was unfortunately infamous for his intolerance of all but Caucasian Englishmen. Sonny Caldinez would go on to play an Ice Warrior in each of the four Ice Warrior themed serials in the Classic Series, The Ice Warriors, The Seeds of Death, The Curse of Peladon and The Monster of Peladon.

Sonny Caldinez played the role of Kemel, a Turkish wrester and strongman

Sonny Caldinez played the role of Kemel, a Turkish wrester and strongman

Sonny Caldinez subsequently appeared as an Ice Warrior in four Classic Series stories.  He's seen here with the Third Doctor and Alpha Centauri in The Monster of Peladon (1974)

Sonny Caldinez subsequently appeared as an Ice Warrior in four Classic Series stories. He is seen here with the Third Doctor and Alpha Centauri in The Monster of Peladon (1974)

The Evil of the Daleks does leave us with perhaps one of the Doctor’s best ever quotes.  In speaking to Terrall the Doctor says,  “I am not a student of human nature.  I am a professor of a far wider academy, of which human nature is merely a part. All forms of life interest me”. “Professor” is the name that companion Ace playfully called the Seventh Doctor, but I’m rushing ahead of myself here.  Join me for my next review where Season five opens with the first 100% complete Second Doctor serial, the iconic Tomb of the Cybermen.

The Evil of the Daleks was originally broadcast in the UK between 20 May and 1 July 1967.  Episode 2 is available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

The Evil of the Daleks was originally broadcast in the UK between 20 May and 1 July 1967. Episode 2 is available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Underwater Menace

Standard

Image

In the 2009 Doctor Who Magazine Mighty 200 Poll of Doctor Who stories, The Underwater Menace was voted the seventh least popular.  Coming in at an appalling 194, it was one story above another long derided Patrick Troughton serial, The Space Pirates. Throw in The Dominators at 191,and the Second Doctor has three of the ten least popular serials.  That even beats Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor and Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor, each of whom had two serials each in the bottom 10.

Two Fish People resplendent in their sequin costumes

Two Fish People resplendent in their sequin costumes

So why is The Underwater Menace so lowly regarded? That until late 2011 only one of its four episodes were held in the BBC Archives may provide part of the answer.  In fact, nearly two years after episode two’s return, it has yet to be released on DVD.  Episode three was first released to the public on VHS cassette in 1998 and subsequently reissued on the 2004 DVD Lost in Time.

Damon in his funny head gear

Damon in his funny head gear

Without the context of the previous two episodes, episode three of The Underwater Menace must look extraordinarily bizarre to the casual viewer.  The classic disparaging comments dished out to Doctor Who, including bad graphics, wobbly sets and atrocious acting might, to the uninitiated, appear spot on.  The Fish People, who are enslaved by the Atlanteans, are surgically modified humans.  Having gills, flippers and scales, which are none other than sequins stuck to their faces, the Fish People farm the plankton that they, and the Atlanteans, are reliant upon for food. Being apparently bereft of refrigeration, this food source lasts only several hours before deterioration, thereby requiring the slave labour force to work around the clock to provide a constant fresh supply of stock. Polly narrowly escapes being operated upon to become a Fish Person in the episode one cliff hanger, which thanks for the ever vigilant Australian Censorship Board, we still have for our viewing pleasure.

Polly narrowly escaped being turned into a Fish Person

Polly narrowly escaped being turned into a Fish Person

Polly and Damon

Polly and Damon.  Polly’s Atlantean gear is just fab

Almost universally condemned for their costuming, I personally think the Fish People look fabulous, in a trippy, 1960s sort of way.  The Fish People swim around gracefully in an extended  performance of synchronized swimming during episode three.  I’m not entirely certain what the sequence’s purpose is  however it looks completely wild.  I can even excuse the trapeze wires that hold up the swimming Fish People up as they  elegantly swoon around.  Spotting the wires holding up space ships has always been one of my favourite parts of watching Doctor Who (there are some great strings to be spotted in The Dalek Invasion of Earth). This is just a logical extension of that peculiar interest!  That the Fish People decide to go on strike after having their humanity questioned by some enslaved miners is a bit farfetched, but hey, the reverse logic worked.

A rare colour photo of the Fish People

A rare colour photo of the Fish People

Not all Fish People wore sequins.  Given that The Underwater Menace went so over buget the BBC must not have been able to afford more sequins for this poor Fish Person

Not all Fish People wore sequins. Given that The Underwater Menace went so over budget, the BBC mustn’t have been able to afford more sequins for this poor Fish Person

Joseph Furst’s acting as the insane Polish Professor Zaroff is frequently the source of criticism.  Episode three ends with his classic manic cry of “Nothing in ze world can stop me now!”  That Zaroff is a parody of the mad scientist, and clearly meant to be played in a hammy, over the top fashion, appears lost on most critics. Where’s everyone’s sense of humour gone?  Zaroff’s plan to drain the oceans into the Earth’s molten core, thereby causing the planet’s explosion from overheated steam, is also dismissed as ludicrous.   Sure, he only wants to destroy the Earth because he can, and will also die in the resultant explosion, but that’s what mad scientists do.  They wouldn’t be mad scientists if their plans were rational. As Philip Sandifer states in Tardis Eruditorum, Zaroff’s scheme is no crazier an idea than the Daleks’ plan in The Dalek Invasion of Earth to drill the core out of the centre of the Earth and use the planet as a space ship. And that second Dalek serial isn’t dismissed out of hand as some form of corny atrocity.

The mad scientist Professor Zaroff

The mad scientist Professor Zaroff. “Nothing in ze world can stop me now!”

The Doctor and Zaroff

The Doctor and Zaroff

The Underwater Menace sees the Doctor take the lead in saving the Earth without recourse to dressing up continuously, although he does look rather cool when briefly dressed as some sort of tambourine playing hippy with sunglasses and bandanna.  We are even afforded the opportunity to see a snippet of the Doctor’s good conscience when he decides that he just can’t let Zaroff drown at the end of episode four.  A rock fall blocks the path to rescue, although at least the Doctor’s intentions are good. In this story the Doctor begins to display the characteristics that become his  staple for the duration of his tenure.

The Doctor is disguised as a tambourine playing hippy

The Doctor is disguised as a tambourine playing hippy

Polly, however, is denied the forthrightness of previous outings, and plays the screaming damsel far too often. Having been buoyed by her characterisation in The Highlanders, Polly’s inability to assertively take control of her own destiny in this serial was more than a little disappointing.  She can, however speak “foreign”, as Ben refers to it, and is conversant in German, French and Spanish.  Ben displays a good rapport with the Doctor and Jamie appears surprisingly unaffected by being dragged out of the 18th Century Scottish highlands, and into an underwater world of Fish People, temple worship and mad scientists. Ben and Jamie spend much of the time running around in black wetsuits.  The synthetic rubber of the wetsuit must have been an unusual sensation against Jamie’s highland skin, but remarkably he is not seen to make a comment about it.

Jamie and Ben spend much of their time in black wet suits

Jamie and Ben spend much of their time in black wet suits

The Underwater Menace ends with the mad scientist dead and the Atlanteans saved from Zaroff’s dastardly plan, although the city of Atlantis is flooded. No more Fish People will be made, and presumably they are freed from servitude. Religion, however, will be no more.  Damon believes that priests, superstition and temples made the Atlanteans follow Zaroff’s crazy plans and the temple should be buried forever.  Quite how this conclusion is reached is never stated and is certainly a very superficial solution to the Atlanteans’ problems. All told, however, The Underwater Menace is a fun romp and nowhere near as bad as its reputation.  Watch it with an eye for the ridiculous and you won’t be disappointed.

The Underwater Menace was originally broadcast in the UK between 14 January and 4 February 1967.  Episode 3 is available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

The Underwater Menace was originally broadcast in the UK between 14 January and 4 February 1967. Episode 3 is available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

REFERENCE:

Phil Sandifer, Tardis Eruditorum Volume 1: William Hartnell. Self published, 2011.