Category Archives: tv reviews

The Best of Terrance Dicks

sfm2019-button-roundEarlier this year, iconic Doctor Who writer Terrance Dicks passed away.   To memorialize the man who molded and developed the series on-screen and on the printed page, BBC Books is planning a hardcover release of fan-chosen Target adaptations by the prolific author.

And it’s almost as if BBC Books knew it was #SciFiMonth and a great time to celebrate all things Doctor Who.  (Oh yeah, the big 56th anniversary is Saturday, November 23!)

Starting on Monday, November 18th, fans can cast their votes for their favorite Target novels.  Dicks’ sixty-four novels are being broken into brackets and then the stories will face off.

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I know I will be voting.  And I know which of the iconic adaptations I hope wins the whole thing.  ::cough::cough::Day of the Daleks::cough:::cough:::.

If you want to vote, set your browser coordinates for the BBC Books official Twitter feed next Monday!

 

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Remembering Terrance Dicks

terrancedicksIf you make a list of the most influential people in the history of Doctor Who and writer Terrance Dicks would be at or near the top of it.  Not only did Dicks create some of the series iconic backstory, but with producer Barry Letts, Dicks shepherded the series for five years in the 1970’s as the script editor for the Jon Pertwee era.

That alone would earn Dicks a spot in the Doctor Who hall of fame (if such a thing existed, mind you). But it was his other role with Who that arguably had an even more profound influence on entire generations of fans.  It was Dicks who served as the chief writer in the influential range of Target novels, adapting 60 original scripts for the printed page over close to two decades.

In the days before repeats or home video, Dicks and the rest of the Target team, kept the stories that fans couldn’t see alive on the printed page.  The Target range is credited for engaging several generations of young readers.  In some ways, the Target range was a precursor of the Harry Potter novels —  books that even young readers who didn’t like to read would crack open.

When Dicks was engaged, his adaptations of stories were particularly good, sometimes even great.  “Day of the Daleks” and “The Auton Invasion” show just how good Dicks could be when given time to put care and love into a novel.   As the series continued to sell and Dicks was writing nine to ten adaptations a year, the novels would often be little more than a re-telling of the shooting script without the early flourishes.

In an extra on the DVD, Dicks said one of aspect of his career that brought him pride was that he always brought his work in on time.  As a trained journalist, I appreciate anyone who understands the importance of meeting a deadline.  Dicks was also a humble man, not seeking out credit or glory for doing what he saw as his job.

There are a lot of authors that could be considered influential on me.  And Dicks is probably one of them.  In fact, I’d argue that outside of Robert Holmes, no writer had a bigger influence on Doctor Who than Dicks.

I read and re-read a metric ton of Target novels in my youth.  I loved them and have fond memories of them.   Today I’m rediscovering them thanks to BBC audiobooks of the range.  As I discovered then, some are good, some are OK and some are great.

So, thank you to the man known in Whovian circles as Uncle Terrance.   I hope that your family finds comfort in this time of loss and that you rest in peace.

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Excerpt: Fury from the Top of the Stairs

Last week, Shortcake was startled while climbing the stairs and I got to find out how fast I can run.

I decided it was a good chance to post on my “being a dad” blog.  Here’s an excerpt:

Shortcake doesn’t react well to being startled.  Most of the times, she’ll just let out a yelp. But last week, she was climbing the stairs to give Mommy and her sister cat a hug.  I was planning to follow her upstairs, but got distracted by something that kept me from being on the stairs with her at the moment of the big scream.

If you’d like to read the entire story, you can HERE.

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TV Round-Up: The Orville: Identity, Parts 1 & 2

identity2For most of this season, I’ve felt like the better episodes of The Orville have come from everyone but Seth MacFarlane.  And then, he has to go and deliver what is probably the best episode of the series so far with “Identity, Part 2.”

This two-part installment felt like The Orville’s attempt at “Best of Both Worlds,” taking our characters to some dark, scary places all while facing the potential obliteration of humanity at the hands of robotic beings.  And while the cliffhanger here isn’t quite up to “Mr. Worf, fire!” (to be honest, few cliffhangers are), it was still enough that I was glad I’d let episodes build up on the DVR and didn’t have to wait a week to see how it all played out.

MacFarlane and his writing staff pull a lot of threads into focus here, from the romance of Doctor Finn and Issac to the on-going conflict with the Krill to the revelation of why Issac was really on the ship to begin with.  Watching as Issac and his robotic others revealed that Issac was there less to learn about becoming a member of the Union and more to probe for weaknesses and possible ways to destroy humanity really put the comment about his race being “incredibly racist” from the pilot into a completely different light. Continue reading

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Audiobook Review: Doctor Who: The Mind of Evil by Terrance Dicks

Doctor Who: The Mind of EvilMany Whovians consider “The Daemons” to be the Pertwee-ist story of the Third Doctor’s era.

I tend to disagree and point instead to “The Mind of Evil” as the story that brings together most of the elements required for a “essential” Pertwee-era adventure. Featuring UNIT, the Master, and multiple threats to Earth, “The Mind of Evil” has long been one of my favorite stories from this era — and even the entire run of classic Doctor Who.

Which is why it’s a darn shame that Terrance Dicks’ adaptation of the story doesn’t even begin to do it justice. If there were ever a story crying out for the rounding out of things that Dicks was able to do with “The Auton Invasion” or “Day of the Daleks,” it’s “The Mind of Evil.” Instead, we get Uncle Terrance late in his run of adapting the original version for the printed page. Continue reading

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TV Round-Up: The Orville, “Nothing Left on Earth Excepting Fishes”

An open letter to Seth MacFarlane:

Dear Seth,theorvillefishes

Do you mind if I call you Seth?

I understand that your new series, The Orville is intended as a homage to the optimistic spirit of Star Trek.  And I know that many of your other animated comedies feature callbacks to certain moments from popular culture.

So, you will understand if I’m a bit concerned that it feels like the latest (at least to me) episode of The Orville feels like you crossed the streams of your series.  I can understand and forgive the plot line where Gordon is taking the command test and pulls out the “we’ve got this weapon that will reflect back whatever you throw at us” moment.  After all, Captain James T. Kirk only used that twice in the original series (and did it better.  Of course, when does James T. Kirk not make just about anything better?!?).  Continue reading

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TV-Round Up: The Orville, The Passage, & True Detective

The Orville: Primal Urges, Home

primalurgesI’m not sure what this says about season two, but my favorite episode of the young season is one held over from their first season. Borrowing a page from TNG’s “Evolution,” “Primal Urges” finds the ship in danger because of crew member’s carelessness. On TNG it was Wesley Crusher creating a new form of sentient life. And The Orville, it’s Bortus getting a nasty virus into the computing systems thanks to his new-found addition to holodeck adult content.*

*Because the series has to remind us at least once per episode that Seth McFarland is behind this. Don’t get me started on the CGI alien whose species writes the best adult simulations in the business and how he talks exactly like a character out of Family Guy. Continue reading

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