Doctor Who: Wishing Well

This novel, by Trevor Baxendale, was published by BBC Books in 2007. It features the Tenth Doctor, as played by David Tennant, and his companion Martha Jones.

The Doctor and Martha arrive in an English village that is right out of Marple or Midsomer Murders. The Doctor is immediately drawn to the well on the village green.

Elsewhere, three young men are tunnelling towards the well in an attempt to find the treasure rumoured to be buried it.

What they find is an alien being of enormous power that is rising from a centuries long slumber. Should it fully awaken then all life on earth will be threatened.

The is a well written and hugely entertaining story. The characters are nicely drawn and Baxendale captures the personalities of the Doctor and Martha perfectly.

The mystery of what lurks beneath the well is maintained for just about the right amount of time before the Doctor realises what is going on.

The conclusion, relying on (literally) brain power is as satisfying as it is interesting.

One of the better novels in the New Series Adventures.

Doctor Who: The Gunfighters

This Doctor Who story was first broadcast in four episodes in 1966.

This audio version consists of a digitally remastered soundtrack with linking narration provided by Peter Purves.

The story was written by Donald Cotton and was one of two produced for the programme (the other was The Myth Makers). After the historical adventures were discontinued, Cotton submitted a further story but this was not commissioned.

After helping to create Adam Adamant Lives! Cotton concentrated on writing for the stage. He would later novelise his two Doctor Who stories for Target along with The Romans.

It’s 1881 and, in the Wild West settlement of Tombstone, there are three strangers in town: “Doctor Caligari”, “Steven Regret”, and “Miss Dodo Dupont”. They’ve arrived in a 20th Century blue police box, and they’re about to wander into a whole heap of trouble.

This story has been much derided and splits opinion. Whilst it is not bad, it’s not that good either.

The ‘ballad’ sung throughout is distracting; the acting, by all but Hatnell, is over the top (especially Purves); and most of the accents are woeful.

Worth a listen but try to borrow it from a friend rather than buy it.

The Gunfighters can be downloaded here

http://mobile.audible.co.uk/productDetail.htm?asin=B004F42QR2&s=s

Doctor Who: The Dalek Invasion of Earth

This Doctor Who story was first broadcast in six episodes in 1964.

It was written by Terry Nation.

This audio version is a reading of the Terrance Dicks Target novelisation, narrated by William Russell with Dalek voices provided by Nicholas Briggs. It also includes music and sound effects.

The TARDIS materialises, the Doctor surmising from the surroundings that they have landed in London, only to find it devastated and in ruins. It turns out the year is some time after 2164 and, after seeing a flying saucer, they realise that the Earth has been invaded by aliens.

Barbara and Susan are taken by a couple of refugees to a nearby shelter in an abandoned Underground station and meet resistance fighters; the Doctor and Ian stumble across bodies wearing strange metal helmets and soon find an army of them. They are stunned when they see a Dalek rising from the River Thames…

The CD can be purchased from all usual retailers.

Doctor Who: Deep Breath

Warning: May Contain Spoilers

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First broadcast on BBC One on 23 August 2014. Written by Steven Moffat and directed by Ben Wheatley.

When the Doctor arrives in Victorian London he finds a dinosaur rampant in the Thames and a spate of deadly spontaneous combustions.

Who is the new Doctor and will Clara’s friendship with him survive as they embark on a terrifying mission into the heart of an alien conspiracy?

The Doctor has changed. It’s time you knew him.
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Well, after eight months of waiting and hype, it is finally here – Peter Capaldi’s first full episode as the Doctor. Was it worth the waiting? Was the hype justified?

On the strength of this episode, my answer is a qualified ‘Yes’.

Peter Capaldi is brilliant; if he hangs around for a few years I have no doubt that he will be regarded as one of the greatest Doctors.

He managed to perfectly capture the mental disorientation that follows a regeneration. I haven’t seen anything like it since Colin Baker took over the role.

I’m glad that he was allowed to keep his accent. I would have liked it if David Tennant had kept his but I put that down to the production team.

The story left a little to be desired though. The dinosaur was a gimmick and really added nothing to the story that couldn’t have been achieved somehow else.

The android wanting to become human has been done better elsewhere. It all goes back to Pinocchio.

Clara’s reaction to the regeneration was a breath of fresh air. Previous companions who have actually witnessed a regeneration have usually accepted the new Doctor without reservation.

Another bright spot was the return of the Paternoster Gang; any appearance is to be welcomed. It ever a group of characters warrant a spin-off it is them.

The Matt Smith cameo at the end was nice but unnecessary. Sure it fitted in with Clara’s reservations but I think they should been resolved through the new Doctor’s actions.

The final scene sets up the Big Bad for this series and I hope that this is an arc that is concluded within this series and isn’t dragged out for years.

An auspicious, if flawed, start. I’m hoping for improvement as the series progresses.

Doctor Who: Dreams of Empire

This novel, by Justin Richards, was first published by BBC Books in 1998 and reprinted in 2013 as part of the 50th Anniversary Collection.

It features the Second Doctor, as played by Patrick Troughton, with his companions Jamie and Victoria.
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The Doctor and his companions arrive in what they initially believe to be a medieval castle but is, in fact, a fortress built on an asteroid. At one time it was a defence post on the border of the Haddron Empire; now, with the empire having expanded it serves as a prison.

The travellers soon stumble over the body of a murdered man where they are discovered by the prison’s security forces.

Being rapidly cleared of involvement in the murder, the Doctor and his friends become involved in a story of politics, rebellion and civil war.

Although it doesn’t become obvious until halfway through, this is basically a ‘base under siege’ story which was very common during the Troughton era.

Richards succeeds in planting a picture of Troughton in your mind as you read. However, Jamie and Victoria are underused and have very little to do; they seem almost two dimensional.

The supporting characters are well drawn and you become involved in their story. A couple of deaths towards the end were a bit of a shock.

This is a story that could have been made for the tv series if they had had the budget.

As Dreams of Empire was originally published in 1998 it has a more adult feel than the recent New Series Adventures. Certainly, the violence is more graphic and sex and marital infidelity are suggested though there is nothing explicit.

Also the ideas behind the novel (and I would urge you to read the introduction) are more sophisticated than we would currently expect.

I would recommend this novel without hesitation.

Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor

Warning: May Contain Spoilers

First broadcast on BBC One on 25 December 2013. Written by Steven Moffat and directed by Jamie Payne.

The Time Lord has some unfinished business to settle before he can regenerate. The massed forces of the universe’s deadliest alien species are being drawn to a quiet planet by a mysterious message echoing out of the stars.

“It’s a proper finale for Matt Smith. It’s the story that we’ve been telling since he first put the bow tie on. A lot of stuff we’ve left hanging we tie up there. And it’s Trenzalore!” – Steven Moffat.

Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, Weeping Angels, The Silence, Amy Pond and a regeneration; this Christmas special has just about everything bar the kitchen sink. (Though there are scenes set in the kitchen of Clara’s flat.)

The episode addresses several of the plot threads developed during the Eleventh Doctor’s era including the prophecy of The Silence, the Doctor’s fate on Trenzalore and the regeneration limit established in The Deadly Assassin.

Moffat has written an exciting and, at times, emotional swan song for Smith particularly the cameo appearance by Amy Pond (Karen Gillen).

When Smith took over the role of the Doctor, I had my doubts about his ability to carry it off. However, over the years of his tenure, I have warmed to his interpretation.

If I still have a problem with Moffat’s handling of the series it is the long running plot arcs. I don’t mind one that is wrapped up over a single series but can’t get on with those that take several years to be resolved.

Although I will now miss Smith, I am looking forward to the new era with Peter Capaldi and whatever that may bring.

A full feature on The Time of the Doctor, from before scripting to post broadcast, can be found in Doctor Who Magazine Special Editon #38 (August 2014).

And for more details of the Doctor’s battles on Trenzalore read Tales of Trenzalore from BBC Books.

Doctor Who: Zygon Hunt

On the jungle planet Garros, Earth Forces Knight Commander-in-Chief Greg Saraton and his team are hunting gigantic beasts, for sport. When the Doctor and Leela arrive, they are caught up in a web of intrigue where there is no clear friend or foe.

What is Saraton’s vital connection with Earth’s Solar System’s Defence Shield? Why are the giant reptilian birds of Garros attacking? What terrible secret lurks deep within the trees?

Before the truth can be revealed, a heavy price will be extracted and loyalties will be tested to the limit.
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This Fourth Doctor story was released by Big Finish in August 2014. It was written and directed by Nicholas Briggs.

The Zygons only appeared in a single ‘classic’ story but have been popping up in spin off media ever since; they featured in several BBV non-Doctor audios, have regularly appeared in Big Finish productions (I particularly liked the twist in the 8th Doctor series), I have recently read the 10th Doctor novel Sting of the Zygons. And, of course, they returned to the screen in The Day of the Doctor.

Again, Nicholas Briggs and Big Finish manage to bring a fresh slant on the Zygons which is a distinct improvement on their appearance in The Day of the Doctor. I particularly liked the Zygon commander.

A very good story.

However, I do have one gripe: it should have come earlier in the run, The Abandoned would have made a much more fitting season finale.

Zygon Hunt can be purchased on CD or download from

http://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/zygon-hunt-807