Poor Colin Baker.
For someone who had such enthusiasm for being a part of Doctor Who, he certainly got the short end of the stick when it came to the quality of scripts for his era.
And while many may agree that “Timelash” is a bit of nadir for the era, I can’t help but wonder if “Mission to Magnus” had made it onto our screens if it might have competed for that dubious honor of the worst sixth Doctor story — and possibly one of the worst stories in the show’s long history.
On paper, these elements should have added up to a stronger story – the return of the Ice Warriors, meeting the Doctor’s childhood bully. One of my big issues with Eric Saward’s script-editing during the 45-minute episode of Doctor Who era is that the scripts showed no sense of pacing. A large portion of episode one would involve some distraction to keep the Doctor and Peri from joining the main action of the story for an extended period of time. That continues here with the Doctor’s childhood bully serving as nothing more than a distraction to keep the TARDIS from arriving on the scene too early.
But there are larger flaws with this story that just the pacing. I can’t help but think that giving us a story about a female-rule society written by a man isn’t going to necessarily pay huge dividends. (See also TNG’s “Angel One” that aired about the time this was written). Instead of exploring the idea and really delving into it, it’s played off for laughs and ends up feeling like something taken from the original Star Trek‘s “The Apple.”
Then there’s the horrifically poor pseudo-science and a complete lack of dramatic tension. I listened to this one while jogging and it made my run feel longer.
And yet, there in the midst of all this is Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant giving it their all. Thanks to Big Finish, we’ve seen just how tragically underserved this Doctor/companion team was by their on-screen stories. Maybe by adapting this one for their Lost Stories range, they wanted to remind us of how good other entries from Big Finish really are.
If last week’s installment was about checking in on some of the faces from Picard’s former crew, this week’s installment is about building his newest crew. After weeks of hints, we finally get some answers and payoffs about the past of Rios and a look at what made Agnes eliminate Bruce Maddox.
I just wish that this hadn’t felt quite so heavy-handed and coming out of what is little more than Picard talking to his new crew around this ship’s version of the conference table. (Certainly, we saw a lot of conferences during the TNG run and it was a time to have huge exposition dumps. But somehow those didn’t feel quite as obvious as this one did here).
So, it appears the Romulans are dead set against synthetic life forms emerging due to a thousands-of-years-old prophecy that warns about some type of Destroyer. And they’re willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that synthetic life forms don’t come to pass (though why they didn’t try harder to eliminate Data during the run of TNG doesn’t seem to add up much). They’re playing a long game by infiltrating Starfleet and planting agents in place if someone gets too close to creating synthetic life. (Again, how Noonian Soon survived as long as he did seems like a legitimate question).
So, Admiral Oh is part Romulan, part Vulcan and has no qualms about mind-melding and creating sleeper agents who will carry out her orders, whether they want to or not. At least to a certain point since see that Anges will kill Maddox but won’t kill Soji (unless it’s some kind of long game in place to get to the planet full of Sojis and eliminate them all at once). I do find it interesting that the Romulans are willing to sacrifice a lot of their people to the natural disaster of their sun expanding in order to eliminate the synthetics. How deep and far this hatred goes is something that could be explored in future seasons, assuming this storyline continues — or maybe moves over to Discovery as I’ve heard rumors might happen.
It’s interesting to see that you’ve got two characters making forced into roles they don’t want — Agnes as well as Seven of Nine. Seven returns and is forced into the role of the Borg queen after Narissa decides to take the Cube for herself and eliminate all the Borg on it. It was kind of chilling to see the sheer numbers of drones Narissa is willing to sacrifice because of her hatred of synthetic life and her commitment to whatever her part in this unfolding drama is. I can’t help but wonder if she wanted the Cube to more easily travel the trans-warp conduits that we see referenced in the episode.
Meanwhile, we see that Rios has a reason as well to be skittish — going back to one of his first assignments with the captain who was like a father figure to him. The issue of his captain being forced to kill the synthetic life forms and then taking his own life is interesting, but it does bring up some deeper questions about just who is connected to this conspiracy and how. We saw on Voyager that there was a directive to explore certain particles if they’re detected and that it overrode other mission concerns. I can’t help but wonder just which Starfleet captains have been programmed for this response — and if Picard wasn’t because of his contact and close proximity to Data. Or did he miss that day in training?
So, with two episodes left, we’ve got a lot on the table and hopefully some answers on the horizon.
Oh, and I did love the Easter egg from canon where Rios’ first captain knew Marta, Picard’s friend from the Academy that we met in “Tapestry.”
If you’re a Star Trek fan, this is the episode you’ve been waiting for since the previews. Nothing against Seven of Nine, but seeing Jean-Luc Picard reconnect with William Riker and Deanna Troi is just far more satisfying because of the long history we’ve seen these characters share.
Nothing against Raffi, but having Riker tell Picard he’s being arrogant and he might need to reconsider his approach to Soji is far more effective and carries more weight. It’s also exactly what Picard needed and hopefully, it’s inspired him more than just the guilt he feels for the death of Data and what happened to the project to relocate the Romulans.
The scenes with Riker and Troi just worked on another level, making me not only appreciate the longer run time but finding myself wishing for more. The backstory of losing a son who could have been saved if work on artificial lifeforms had been allowed felt like it was put there to provide some connection to the overall season plot. But, the entire connection between Soji and Kestra was something that worked extremely well and I almost hope that Soji can work her way back to the Rikers and have the type of family experience she’s only had in implanted memories. Continue reading
“Resurrection of the Daleks” has a history of delays. Initially commissioned to celebrate Doctor Who‘s twentieth anniversary, the serial was delayed until season twenty-one. Then the Target adaptation of the serial was long-delayed over rights issues.
Finally after thirty-plus years, “Resurrection of the Daleks” has finally hit shelves. And now, the biggest question facing us is, was it worth the wait?
Yes and no.
If you’re a completist, finally hoping to fill in a gap in your Target book collection, you’re one step closer to having the full set. But if you were hoping for a novelization worthy of a thirty-plus year wait, odds are you’re going to be a bit disappointed.
In an interview, Saward said that he had a difficult time dusting off his Target novel writing skills for this one — and it shows. The serial already boasts the highest body count of any classic Doctor Who story and that fact is only underlined. On-screen, many of the characters marching off to be exterminated at the hands of various factions were nameless victims. Here, Saward is able to give them names and a bit of backstory, making the story even more grim as you realize just how high the body count really is. Continue reading
Plot threads begin to come together in “The Impossible Box.” Not only threads from the first five installments of Star Trek: Picard but also threads from the entire history of the Picard character.
While Picard has had encounters with the Borg since his assimilation in “Best of Both Worlds,” he hasn’t been back inside a Borg cube since them (you could debate that the Borg taking over the Enterprise in First Contact might have been a trigger like this one). Seeing Picard’s reaction to the news he has to go aboard the cube and that he when he is greeted by a former drone as Locutus was superlative work (of course) by Patrick Stewart. And I got chills the moment when Picard is looking back at other Borg encounters and come across his image as Locutus on the viewscreen. An extremely well-crafted and well-shot moment in this show. Continue reading
Under the leadership of Andrew C. Cartmel, Doctor Who introduced a bit of mystery into the Doctor’s backstory during the waning days of the classic series run. Questions of who the Doctor really was and the connection to the foundation of Gallirey and Time Lord society were sprinkled into a couple of episodes — and even more liberally applied if you read the Target novels of that era.
Feels like Chris Chibnall may have read those novels and wanted to build on the seeds the Cartmel era sewed into Doctor Who continuity. Or maybe Chibnall wanted to take a page from the immortal Robert Holmes and make us question or reexamine everything we thought we knew about Gallifrey and Time Lord society.
I have to keep reminding myself that when Holmes did this with “The Deadly Assassin,” it wasn’t immediately embraced by some factions of the fandom. It was only with hindsight and a bit of distance that “Assassin” grew in the estimation of fandom to the status it holds today.
My problem with that is Chibnall isn’t in the same league as Holmes when it comes to writing for Doctor Who. And “The Timeless Child” (and really all of his two series as showrunner) continue to show that.
(I will now go controversial and alienate half of you by saying the only modern writer who comes close to doing what Holmes did for the show is Steven Moffat.) Continue reading