Thanks to the quirks of KTEH’s (a bastion of Doctor Who in the U.S. back in the day) scheduling of Colin Baker’s first season as the Doctor, I saw season 22 of classic Who a lot during my first decade or so as a fan. That kind of explains why it’s been a hot minute since I dusted off that particular season on either my VHS or DVD collection. It’s probably been at least a decade since I really dabbled in season 22 in a serious way — and boy, did revisiting Philip Martin’s adaptation of his script for “Vengeance on Varos” show that.
Martin takes a page from the master of the Doctor Who adaptation, Terrance Dicks, and gives us essentially the same story we get on-screen. Though to Martin’s credit (and Dicks in the early days before they chained him to a typewriter and he churned out eight novels in a year), he does at least try to make the story feel like it unfolds over a longer duration of time than what we got on-screen. Martin makes it feel like the Doctor, Peri, Jondar, and Arata spend a bit more time wandering around the punishment dome, trying to find a way out and escape. He even extends things out enough so it appears the Doctor has passed away for longer than five-minutes than we see on-screen.
There is an extended sequence where we pull back the curtain and see how the Governor truly lives when he’s not negotiating with Sil or being sprayed with death rays. And don’t forget that part where he has Sil fall into the vat of liquid that he’s constantly being sprayed with on-screen.
But despite all these flourishes, it’s the story of “Varos” that continues to shine through and where the success or failure of this particular story lies. Continue reading
As much as I like it when a new show drops all of its episodes on a certain day, I’ve got to admit there’s still part of me that prefers the weekly episode model being used by WandaVision. Not only does it give time for the ramifications of huge events to sink in, but it also gives the audience time to speculate and built anticipation for the next episode.
Because let’s face it — after this installment, I doubt I will wait long after episode six drops to watch it. (I’m not going to do something crazy like set an alarm for 3 a.m., mind you. But it’s not like other streaming shows where I figure I’m not as devoted or devious as some watchers who want to watch it all ASAP so they can be the first to SPOIL everything.)
But before we get to the huge reveal that ends the episode, I’ve got a few other questions and thoughts. Continue reading
With “We Interrupt This Program,” WandaVision suddenly feels like an episode of Lost. After spending three episodes establishing the world of the series and introducing some head-scratching elements, “We Interrupt This Program” provides a few answers, but opens up a world of even larger questions.
So, we’ve found out that this isn’t some kind of experiment being run on Wanda, but is instead a reality she’s created in Westview. And apparently, she’s able to manipulate things beyond the wall — from police officers who forget that Westview exists despite standing in front the sign for it to altering the helicopter drone that passes through the barrier. It does raise an interesting question about if and when Wanda knew that Monica had invaded the universe she’s created. Yes, we find out the moment she realized last week (and we saw it again on-scree this week, only in widescreen this time), but how much did Wanda know before. It certainly seems as if Wanda is unaware of just how far she’s going in creating this elaborate sit-com fantasy for herself and dragging everyone in with her.
I find myself wondering just if and how the avatars in her world know and if they have any power to try and resist whatever it is she’s doing. Continue reading
If you’re a TV fan of a certain age, you may recall sweeps months. They were glorious times for fans of television because the networks would set ad revenue rates based on the ratings of a couple of months of the year. This meant you got a lot of new content and episodes of your favorite shows when big things would happen — couples getting together, marriage proposals, weddings, births.
And while sweeps months aren’t quite as huge as they once were, I still can’t help but feel like this third installment of WandaVison would be a near-perfect sweeps episode. Not only do we get the birth of Wanda and Vision’s twins, but we get some hints about the larger picture of what’s going on here.
While watching Wanda try to cover up her rapidly evolving pregnancy made good use of television tropes (hiding in coats, behind things, etc), it was once we got to Geraldine arriving on-scene that things kicked up a notch. Suddenly, it appears that Geraldine knows about Wanda outside of the fantasy sit-com world that’s been built around her. Geradine drops the knowledge of her brother who died — someone who could run really, really fast. Interestingly enough, Vision also displays the ability to run really, really fast in this episode, something I’m pretty sure isn’t in his standard retinue of powers (at least from my limited reading of the character).
It also appears some of the supporting cast seems to know more than they’re telling.
The ending makes it appear as if Wanda is somehow part of a Truman Show-like experiment taking place. It does make me wonder if the Vision is also in there or if he’s also part of the simulation. Or are there “real” people in there who can be expelled (and possibly reinserted, I assume) and characters (the never seen husband of Katherine Hahn’s character, for example. Or is that red herring of someone more significant that we haven’t seen yet?)
It all makes for some fascinating questions and not a lot of answers. But then again, it’s only episode three.
I am curious to see which family sitcom they pull from for the 80’s and if the kids will rapidly age and change actors portraying them. If that’s the case, I could see how Family Ties might be a good sitcom for that era. Or will the homages have to slow down a bit to spread them across the next six episodes?
Around the turn of the century, there were rumors that multiple epic properties that could or would be difficult to adapt in single movies were being considered as multi-platform adaptations. Start with a movie, move into a TV show and then go back and forth as needed.
They never saw the light of day back then. But in the day and age of binge-watching and with movie theaters shut down for the foreseeable future, the time seems ripe to see if such an idea can and would work. Enter Marvel Studios, who at this point can seemingly do no wrong. Wanting to bolster subscribers to Disney Plus, Marvel is working on multiple live-action series that will tie into the larger MCU.
Given that we’ve all had to take a year off from new Marvel movies and audiences have gotten out of the habit of going to a theater every few months for the latest Marvel offering, introducing WandaVision right now seems like a great idea. Continue reading
An episode of Animaniacs features the Warner family at the mall, attempting to entice passers-by into taking a survey about the participant’s interest in watching shows with actor George Wendt and shows with George Wendt eating beans. In many ways, I feel like this was a precursor of today’s algorithms that monitor where you go on-line and then begins to feed you ads based on that history.
I’m a Doctor Who fan. I’ve watched David Tennant’s era as the Doctor and have participated in online forums discussing Tennant’s tenure as the Doctor. So, it was probably inevitable that Facebook’s algorithm would pick this up and begin to feed me ads for other shows featuring David Tennant.
For a couple of weeks, it felt like every other ad I saw was for the U.S. streaming debut of Des. So, when the opportunity came along to get a month of AMC+ at a reduced rate, I decided I’d give it a try, if only to watch Des.
Before beginning the series, I was blissfully unaware of who Dennis Nilson was. And after spending a little less than three hours with this miniseries, I’m still not quite sure any significant answers have been provided. Continue reading
Thanks to a myriad of media releases and repeats, “Genesis of the Daleks” is a story that’s never been very far from the zeitgeist of Doctor Who fans. Regarded as one of the finest installments in the series long run (classic or new), it’s one that many fans (including this one) can recite key moments from (especially those on the abridged LP released in the ’70s and re-released on every possible format since).
Knowing the key dialogue from these moments only makes the differences between what we saw on-screen and what Terrance Dicks adapts to the page stand out a bit more. It’s clear that Dicks is working from an earlier draft of the script since the cliffhangers are moved about and fall in different places than we see on-screen. (The lore has it that the cliffhanger to episode five was supposed to be the famous “Do I have the right?” speech and not the Dalek battling an uncased Dalek mutant). But while minor moments are different, Dicks is still able to do justice to this undisputed classic when it comes to translating it to the printed page.
Dicks is able to condense a bit of the running back and forth between the Kaled and Thal cities (it’s a six-parter, so there’s a lot of running about) and he even makes the three corridors sets that double as both cities on-screen seem more expansive than they are on-screen. And while Dicks can’t quite capture how great Michael Wisher is in creating Davros, Dicks is still able to convey the menace and tragedy of the character here.
While this script is Terry Nation’s finest hour for Doctor Who, it isn’t necessarily Terrance Dicks’ finest hour in the Target line. But you can still tell that Dicks has put some care and time into crafting this story for the printed page. It’s certainly miles better than many of the adaptations to come during the fourth Doctor’s tenure.
The audiobook of this one is quite good. Jon Culshaw does his usual great work at imitating Tom Baker. Wisely, Culshaw doesn’t try to sound exactly like the screen versions of each character and his performance here continues to cement him as one of the better readers in this range. And, of course, Nick Briggs is on-hand to give us authentic Dalek voices.
All-in-all, this is another solid audiobook in this range and I find myself beginning to become nostalgic as the end of the range looms nearer.
When the BBC began releasing Doctor Who on video in the mid-8o’s, they made the (mistaken) assumption that fans wouldn’t mind a few revisions in the stories. And so it was that the first releases in the range were omnibus versions of the stories, removing the cliffhangers and only featuring the opening and closing credits once per story. The BBC eventually figured out that what fans wanted was each serial as complete as possible, including sitting through the opening and closing credits for each episode of the story.
Possibly the worst victim of the early range of VHS releases when it came to editing was “The Brain of Morbius.” Not only was it released in the omnibus format but the initial release had thirty minutes of the story excised.
I’ll admit that I never purchased the original release of the story on VHS because of these edits. But I can’t help but wonder what the edited version of this story might have looked like. With the BluRay releases of the seventh Doctor’s era including expanded versions that were released on VHS as an extra for the story they’re associated with, I can’t help but wonder if the eventual release of season thirteen won’t include the edited version of “The Brain of Morbius” so I can finally see it. Continue reading
Until five missing episodes miraculously turned up in time for the series’ fiftieth anniversary, the only thing most Doctor Who fans had to judge “The Enemy of the World” on was an orphaned middle-episode that didn’t really highlight the story’s strengths and Ian Marter’s Target adaptation. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that once we had the complete serial back in the archives and available to view that the collective fan assessment might rise over the last half-dozen or so years.
It’s hard to blame Marter for the failings of this Target novelization. Clocking in at a mere 127 pages, Marter is hard-pressed to compress six episodes. He does try nobly to do so, but in the end, it never quite works. Scenes are dropped and while the outline of the story is still there, it never quite feels as solid as the David Whitacker scripts were on-screen. There are some interesting choices of what to leave out and what to include by Marter over the course of the novel.
But it’s not like Marter hasn’t shown he can compress a large number of episodes into a smaller amount of pages. He will later do it with the Patrick Troughton era serial, “The Invasion.” Of course, having emotionless adversaries at the heart of that one may have helped a bit.
As with all of Marter’s novelizations, there is a darker streak running through this story with all the on-screen deaths being just a bit more gruesome on the printed page.
At least the audio version of this story has Patrick Troughton’s son David performing the story. His interpretations of his father and the other actors in this story are spot-on and well done. I’m just glad the serial is back now so we can compare his take with what the actors did on-screen.
Unless you were watching in 1966, odds are you haven’t seen Doctor Who‘s season four debut story, “The Smugglers.”
Sure, we’ve got a couple of clips thanks to the Australian censors (though why they kept the clips and not the full episodes is something I’d really like an answer to) but there isn’t much out there to experience when it comes to this lost historical serial.
And yet, for some reason, I skipped the Target adaptation of this one when it was released in the late ’80s. Whether it was to save my money for another Target book coming later or that I was weary of Terrance Dicks’ adaptations, I can’t quite recall. But my omission then allowed me to enjoy the audiobook release of this one now as something (almost) new to me.
And I have to admit, I kind of liked it. Unless they somehow recover part of all of it tomorrow, this four-part serial’s biggest claim to fame will be a link to “The Curse of the Black Spot” from the modern series. As a historical, it works fairly well, though it does feel a bit as if the script is borrowing a bit of Ben’s reaction to time traveling for the first time from Stephen’s reactions in “The Time Meddler.”
After barging into the TARDIS, Ben and Polly are sent back in time with the Doctor to a seventeenth century Cornish town under assault by pirates. There’s a bit of chasing back and forth during some of the middle episodes from the pirate ship to the town settings, but overall the story moves along at a crisp pace and works fairly well. Of course, there’s a pirate treasure at the center of all this and apparently, the Doctor is the only one with the necessary clue to try and uncover it.
Read by Anneke Wills who played Polly, this audio adaptation is another solid release from this range. I realize that we’re slowly getting to the end of this range and there are fewer fondly remembered adaptations ahead of us. But having the chance to experience this one, I find it a solid offering from Dicks. It’s not quite on the level of his early work, but it’s not quite the translating the script to the printed page with a few descriptions that we got in the Tom Baker era.