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Roderick Donald

Welcome to the News & Reviews section here at Doctor Who Online! This is where you will find all the latest Doctor Who related news and reviews split up into easy to use sections - each section is colour coded for your convenience. The latest items can be found at the top, and older items follow down the page.

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19 January 2021

TARDISMonkey's Torchwood Diary - watching Torchwood an episode a week from the start...

3.1: Children Of Eath - Day One

Well, where can I begin with this one? What an absolutely jam packed episode. This is something we wholeheartedly expected from the writing talent of Russell T. Davies.

 

We enter day one of the 5 day episodic adventure with a school trip in Scotland. However, this doesn’t appear to be the typical trip to your local landmark. The whole opening of this story is very much an homage to the film “Close Encounters” as the kids are guided by a group of adults as they walk into the mysterious light, never to be seen again.

 

In true Torchwood style, we’re immediately swept to modern day Cardiff, as the Torchwood team (or the remains of them after the passing of Tosh and Owen), are in full action dealing with alien menaces in a hospital. However, their interference doesn’t go unnoticed as a curious Doctor Rupesh Patanjali catches Jack and Ianto in the act as they try and extract an alien artefact from a corpse. He seems very interested in the Torchwood team and after the events of the end of series 2, it feels like the team could do with an extra pair of hands and Gwen agrees.

 

Whilst all this is taking place, the children on Earth appear to have suddenly stopped. Gwen feeling as confused as the rest of us, goes to investigate the issue. It’s quite an ominous scene as the camera lingers on the lifeless eyes of the children. Suddenly, after a minute or so the kids suddenly spring back into life as if nothing has happened.

 

As this is all taking place, we are transported to the Home Office, where we’re introduced to Peter Capaldi - not as the Doctor, but as John Frobisher. Colonel Oduya (Charles Abomeli) tells John all about the incident with the children and how UNIT and Torchwood can contain the story - how wrong he was. We are also introduced to Lois Habiba (Cush Jumbo) who is on her first day and surpassingly is given some highly confidential information on a Post-it-note. To be fair with UNIT’s security sometimes, this doesn’t surprise me.

 

We zip to and from multiple storylines in one episode; we quickly head back to Gwen and Rupesh talking about aliens and how they impacted the world. Suddenly the children start screaming. It’s a horrifying scene as you see parents yelling at their children trying to get them to stop, before they start proclaiming “We are coming” all in unison. If that isn’t strange enough, it isn’t just the children, but a man called Timothy, who we later discover is called Clement McDonald, who was one of the original children in the opening scene, who also shouts into the distance. It's a fabulous establishing episode, gearing up to what feels like the Torchwood team's biggest challenge that they have had to face so far.

 

Not only do we have the main premise, but we also find out Jack has a daughter, who in Torchwood style is older than him. It’s a turn of events we didn’t expect to see, delving into Jack’s past once more, while Ianto has the Torchwood mobile stolen and Gwen finds out she’s pregnant. Also, Jack has a bomb implanted into him that blows up at the end of the episode and yes this all does fit into a one hour episode.

 

The episode is beautifully directed by the wonderful Euros Lyn, who has done many iconic Doctor Who stories during the Russell T. Davies era. It really builds up the whole premise of the grand scale of the situation and how the Torchwood team need to adapt and change to their new way of working. With Captain Jack seemingly gone, what are the team going to do now?


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

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[Source:
DWO]

18 January 2021

With aliens and spaceships regularly featuring in Doctor Who, DWO recently caught up with Nick Pope (the UK's answer to X Files' Fox Mulder), who worked at the Ministry Of Defence's UFO desk in the early 1990s.

Nick discusses some of his cases, the real possibility of the existence of extraterrestrials, and his love for our favourite Science Fiction TV series. Read the DWO interview, below:


For over 20 years you worked at the Ministry Of Defence with a portion of that time dedicated to manning the UFO desk and the many reports of UFO sightings around the UK. In fact, you were the closest thing we have to The X Files' Fox Mulder - were you always a believer or did this happen during your time at the MOD?

Nick: While my MoD career lasted 21 years, before I decided to take early retirement in 2006, my time in the division where I was responsible for investigating UFO sightings was just one posting - from 1991 to 1994 - in that longer career. It was a fascinating job: I had policy responsibility for the topic (and thus drafted advice to defence ministers, in my capacity as the subject matter expert); I investigated the sightings (200-300 each year); I dealt with the public correspondence; and I drafted material for the press office to use in response to questions from the media.

In all of this, I could call on advice from specialist staff as required, e.g. radar experts, scientific and technical intelligence staff, intelligence community imagery analysts (for looking at photos and videos that we acquired), astronomers and others. 

However, it may surprise people to know that despite being a science fiction fan, I'd never paid much attention to the UFO phenomenon. So when I was assigned the job, I didn't know much about the subject and I went in neither as a believer nor as a sceptic, but with an open mind, going where the data took me. Looking back, that was probably the best approach, as I didn't come into the post with any preconceived ideas. That said, as I began my investigations, and as I read myself into the vast archive of previous files on the subject (much of which we later declassified and released), my views evolved, and I began to realize there was more to the subject than just misidentifications of aircraft lights, weather balloons and satellites!   

From 7-year old Jacob and 10 year year old Amelia: What sizes have the UFOs ranged from and what was the largest UFO you recall being reported?

Nick: UFOs come in all shapes and sizes, though from time to time we hear more about one particular type. At the moment, there's a lot of interest in UFOs shaped like a Tic-Tac, because of a very interesting case from 2004 involving the US Navy. But people also report a lot of orb-shaped UFOs, disc-shaped craft, and huge, triangular-shaped UFOs.

The biggest UFOs I've heard of are sometimes nicknamed "flying football fields" and are rectangular or triangular in shape. There were some sightings of these in the Hudson Valley, in the United States, back in the Eighties, and in the UK and elsewhere in the Nineties. I remember one witness telling me about a 1993 sighting in the UK where he looked up at night and saw the stars blacking out, one by one, as a huge, dark UFO passed slowly overhead. And another witness to a wave of sightings in and around Phoenix in 1997 told me about a huge boomerang-shaped UFO that passed over the parking lot of a restaurant, with dozens of people standing there, mesmerized, looking up. I asked how low it was flying, and he said "Nick, if I'd have thrown a rock up into the air, I would've hit it." 

What was the most compelling case you worked on in your 20+ years and how likely do you think it will be that we will have official contact with extraterrestrials during our lifetime?

Nick: The most compelling case is probably the Rendlesham Forest incident from 1980, which involved not just something in the sky, but an alleged landing. It happened before my time in the MoD, but I undertook a cold case review in around 1993. It's everything you could want in a UFO case: multiple observers from independent locations, over three consecutive nights; military witnesses; radar evidence; physical evidence in the form of indentations in the ground, burn marks on the trees and radioactivity levels at the landing site that government scientists said seemed "significantly higher than the average background". This all took place in Rendlesham Forest, in Suffolk, and the forest lies between the twin military bases of RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge. The several dozen military witnesses included the sceptical deputy base commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt. And because this was an incident involving two US military bases in the UK, there's a file that contains numerous United States Air Force and MoD documents about this case. Believers and sceptics have their various theories, but even now, 40 years later, these are just theories - officially, the case remains unexplained.

Years later, I teamed up with two of the key military witnesses, John Burroughs and Jim Penniston, and we wrote a book on the incident, entitled "Encounter in Rendlesham Forest". It's based on declassified government documents and on testimony from the military witnesses, and as such, it's the only UFO book ever to have needed security clearance from both the UK and the US government.

I think that we'll have proof of the existence of extraterrestrials in a few years from now. I'm not sure it will come from what the UFO community calls "Disclosure" (formal, official acknowledgement of alien visitation), or even from a UFO incident, and at least in the first instance I think it's more likely to come from a radio telescope picking up a signal from another civilization. The next generation of radio telescopes (and the associated computers to process the data) should be sufficiently powerful that if there are civilizations out there - at least in our small corner of the Milky Way galaxy - we'll find them. 

It's no secret that you are a Doctor Who fan - what was your earliest memory of the show and do you have a particular favourite episode and Doctor?

Nick: My first memories of Doctor Who are some of the old Jon Pertwee stories, when I was seven. After Planet of the Daleks, I watched every week. Regarding Doctors, while David Tennant and Peter Capaldi get honorable mentions, Tom Baker is my favorite. Perhaps that's partly childhood nostalgia, but I think he best portrayed the 'otherness' of the Doctor, with the unique combination of quirkiness, sadness, humor, intelligence, courage and morality that the character possesses.

My favorite story is Genesis of the Daleks. There's always something fascinating about an origin story (and the introduction of Davros was inspired), but this was a story of real depth, with the advantage swinging back and forward, generating genuine tension and excitement. This was the ultimate high-stakes story, with memorable themes of total war, genetic experimentation, genocide, a militaristic society that had clear parallels with the Nazis, and more besides. Above all, there's the moral dilemma the Doctor faces, so perfectly brought out by Tom Baker's acting. This is Doctor Who at its thought-provoking best, with the Doctor holding two detonating wires close together, knowing that if he makes the connection, the resultant explosion in the dalek incubator room could wipe them out; but then pausing and giving his speech centered around the question "Do I have the right?"

Finally, if you could take a round trip in the TARDIS, anywhere in time and space, where would you go and why?

Nick: I'd want to go to wherever and whenever is the apex of civilization, to see how high and how far life can go, in terms of things like intellectual development and technological advance. Maybe that would be Earth, in the far future, or maybe it's an alien world in the distant past. It might be something like Gallifrey, it might be something like Trantor (if you'll forgive me mixing franchises!), and it might be something completely different and unimaginable. And maybe the dominant life form would be biological, but maybe it would be post-biological. Thus, in the best traditions of Doctor Who, I wouldn't know where or when I was going, and I'd probably encounter something quite unexpected when I got there!

+  Follow @NickPopeMOD (Nick Pope) on Twitter!
+  Visit Nick Pope's official website!
+  Buy Nick Pope's books on Amazon.

[Source: Doctor Who Online]

11 January 2021

Publisher: Author's Reach

Written By: Richard Hardie

RRP: £9.99 / $14.90 (Paperback) | £1.99 / $2.99 (Kindle) - Also available on Audible!

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 11th January 2021

Leap Of Faith (the first book in The Temporal Detective Agency series) is a totally bonkers, humorous, yet surprisingly gripping, cross-genre adventure. 

Tertia - our main character, and chief narrator - hilariously guides the storytelling. Right from the off we find our heroine stuck at the top of Nelson's Column (sans Nelson himself), thanks to some time travel shenanigans gone awry. That whole first chapter had us in stitches, and the laughs - nay tears, didn't stop there!

This is a story that very much sits nearly in the pocket of interest for fellow Doctor Who fans, and if the multi-coloured, 4th Doctor-esque scarf on the front cover wasn't enough of a carrot dangler for you, you'll find several gems within that will have you drawing parallels to our favourite Sci-Fi TV series.

We mentioned earlier about the humour, and whilst Leap Of Faith is a truly brilliant story that will keep your interest throughout, it is author, Richard Hardie's sheer talent as a comic writer that shines through, page after page. In fact, we don't think we've ever read a book that had us laughing consistently throughout as much as this did!

From modern-day London to 18th Century Wales and beyond, Hardie keeps you on your toes with delicious plot twists, rich, vibrant characters and a foe that matches the talents of our temporal team, perfectly.

If you want a fun, feel-good frolic of an adventure to kick off 2021, this is it!

+  Leap Of Faith is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @Richard_Hardie_ on Twitter.

11 January 2021

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Chris Chapman

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: December 2020

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"It's 1793 and the Reign of Terror is slicing through the elite of Paris - but not if the Scarlet Pimpernel has anything to do with it! With a very British pluck, and daring bravado, he rescues French aristocrats from Madame Guillotine's embrace. But who hides beneath the Pimpernel’s mask? And isn’t the Scarlet Pimpernel just a fictional character?

At Highmoor House, in England, Peri plays lady of the manor while the Doctor tends to the strange wounds of her ‘husband’, Sir Percy Blakeney. As Peri prepares to host a lavish ball in Sir Percy’s name, French agent Citizen Donat, and a sinister alien force are uninvited guests, both intent on unmasking the Scarlet Pimpernel and putting an end to his heroic escapades, forever!"

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers. You have been warned!

Big Finish’s schedule in 2020 has very much been dictated by what actors have been available and able to record from home, and what has been waiting in the wings. Trilogies were discarded, a deluge of middling-to-poor Tenth Doctor plays were released, and certain writers must surely have sore wrists from all the scripts they’ve been typing. I think the shake-up of the trilogy formula has worked in the monthly range’s favour, and the technical prowess to pull off the remote-recorded plays is nothing short of brilliant. Whatever my feelings on some of the quality of the releases, I will never fault Big Finish’s gritted teeth and determination.

December gives us two releases recorded remotely according to Big Finish’s website, the first of these being Plight of the Pimpernel by Chris Chapman. Set during the Reign of Terror, the Doctor and Peri go undercover and try to work out how the Pimpernel, a fictional character, appears to be all too real and present, and just what gave Sir Percy Blakeney his nasty wound, because it looks like nothing of this Earth.

First things first: Nicola Bryant and Colin Baker are on top form in this play, and the cliffhanger to Part Three is one of the best his Doctor has had for years now. Long-time readers of my reviews for this website (if there are any long-time readers of my reviews) will know that I’ve enjoyed Chapman’s scripts but have often felt they are one draft or script-edit away from being as good as they could be, but I couldn’t lobby that criticism here for the most part.  This is a finely-tuned and fun script which is bolstered by the leading actors really gunning for it, not to mention Jamie Parker and Anthony Howell giving great supporting performances as Sir Percy and Citizen Donat respectively.

The play is nearly let down by the wide array of very bad French accents throughout the play, which may be supposed to be poor at times but just wind up being huge distractions. There are a couple of slightly fudged scenes along the way as well, such as the Doctor and Peri having a long conversation about things they themselves already know just so we the audience can get up to date, and Peri trying to be the Pimpernel and save someone’s life, only the rescued civilian is then killed… and never mentioned again! These are two blips in an otherwise very tight script, easily Chapman’s best.

Where it really succeeds, beyond the central mystery of who, or why, the Pimpernel is being quite a good one, is in how Chapman writes the Sixth Doctor. He, this most literary of Doctors, desperately wants to be the Pimpernel and buys into the strangeness around him, so much so that he turns a blind eye to the niggling issues around it all and the fact that deep down he knows something bad is afoot. It’s a really believable portrayal of this incarnation, showing how well Chapman knows him and enjoys writing for him, and it’s readily apparent in Baker’s acting that he appreciates this, too.

Sometimes, I find that I enjoy a release from Big Finish but cannot recall much about it weeks down the line. This won’t be the case here I am sure as it hasn’t been the case with any of Chapman’s stories.  Years on in some instances, I can still recall performances or beats or plot points, a sure sign that he is doing something very right, even if I’m not always entirely won over by the overall results.  Here with Plight of the Pimpernel we have a play worth remembering and we continue our run of strong monthly plays near the end of the monthly releases as we know them. Viva la Big Finish Revolution!


+ Plight Of The Pimpernel is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


1 January 2021

The Thirteenth Doctor and Yaz are set to welcome a new face to the TARDIS later this year as actor and comedian John Bishop joins the cast as ‘Dan’.

As he becomes embroiled in the Doctor’s adventures, Dan will quickly learn there’s more to the Universe(s) than he could ever believe. Travelling through Space and Time alongside the Doctor and Yaz, he’ll face evil alien races beyond his wildest nightmares.

The 13th series of Doctor Who began filming in November 2020 with John, and he will make his first appearance when the 13th series starts.

Speaking about joining the show, John said:

“If I could tell my younger self that one day I would be asked to step on board the TARDIS, I would never have believed it. It’s an absolute dream come true to be joining Doctor Who and I couldn’t wish for better company than Jodie and Mandip.”

Chris Chibnall, Showrunner adds:

“It’s time for the next chapter of Doctor Who, and it starts with a man called Dan. Oh, we’ve had to keep this one secret for a long, long time. Our conversations started with John even before the pandemic hit. The character of Dan was built for him, and it’s a joy to have him aboard the TARDIS.”

Matt Strevens, Executive Producer BBC Studios said:

“It’s been a total joy having John join the cast and we’ve been having a lot fun on set already. We can’t wait for you to meet Dan when the show returns later this year.”

Piers Wenger, Controller BBC Drama, said:

“We are beyond thrilled to have John Bishop joining Doctor Who. Alongside Jodie Whittaker and Mandip Gill, John is a wonderful addition to the show and we have no doubt that series 13 is going to be another thrilling set of adventures for the Doctor.”

Watch the announcement in the teaser video, below:



The Doctor will return with Yaz and Dan in Series 13, appearing on BBC One later in 2021.

[Source: BBC Studios]

24 December 2020

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

Written By: Mark Rosendorf

RRP: £12.99 / $15.99 (Paperback) | £3.98 / $5.19 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 31st October 2020

Mark Rosendorf's The Witches Of Vegas is a fantastic new YA / Urban Fantasy with a thrilling supernatural twist. Think The Greatest Showman meets Twilight and you get the recipe for this thoroughly entertaining book.

Set against the titular backdrop of Las Vegas, the story follows Isis; a young witch getting to grips with her magical powers. Following a troubled childhood she is saved and subsequently taken in by a coven of witches who give her the family she's always wanted.

And now to the really clever bit... the Witches have a sell-out show at the Sapphire Resort in Vegas -  displaying (unbeknown to the audience) real magic. This is a genius move by the author to create a device where the Witches can hide in plain sight, whilst using their talents, and earn a tidy crust on the side.

As well as Witches we also have a rather nasty Vampire, which compliments the story wonderfully by giving us a worthy, and may we say unexpected adversary. There's also room for a little Romance in The Witches Of Vegas, and whilst we don't want to give anything away, we did enjoy the fresh way in which it unfolds in the story.

There are characters that you will simply love; outside of Isis, Sebastian, Luther, Valeria and Zack were among our favourites and were all layered and delightfully complex.

Not only does Rosendorf bring to life a rich palette of characters, but he also brings Las Vegas to life in the pages of the book. It's clear this is somewhere he has researched, walked the streets and breathed the atmosphere, and it reads very much as a character in its own right.

The conclusion was incredibly satisfying, whilst leaving you wanting for more, and you will love how everything regarding the show itself has a poignant part to play for our beloved coven.

The Witches Of Vegas is simply screaming out to be a movie series. The glamour and sparkle of Vegas juxtaposed with the magic and dark undertones of the story would convert so well on the big screen. One can only hope that Hollywood snaps up this incredibly engrossing adventure.

In a conversation with the author, we were pleased to learn that there will be a sequel, which is just as well, as we felt like we weren't done yet with Isis and her fascinating world. Expect big things from Mark Rosendorf - an author you most definitely have to have in your library!


What first got you into writing?

Writing was something I always knew I wanted to do. As a child, I had a wild imagination, especially when playing with my toys. I used to create worlds which were detailed and followed a story that would continue each time I laid on the floor and played.

I was in the seventh grade when I knew writing was in my future. My social studies teacher gave us an assignment to interview a grandparent and then write up their story. Unfortunately, my grandparents had a 1960s sitcom ability to turn every single topic into an argument…and they both hit below the belt. The fact that they were married for 70 years is perhaps the eighth wonder of the world. I did take a shot at the assignment; I asked my grandfather to tell me about his life growing up during the depression. He told me about the girl from Ohio he wished he’d married instead of the woman he did marry. My grandmother jumped on the line and, of course, they ended up arguing. Even as I hung up the phone, they were still yelling at each other on the line.

I sat down and made up a story about my grandfather. In the story, I explained how, during the depression of the 1920’s, he left home at fourteen years old and survived by carrying bundles of hay for a nickel an hour. I talked about how he managed to save one nickel every other hour, which he used to open a business and become successful. Then he met my grandmother, and it was love at first sight. They settled down and lived happily ever after.

None of that was necessarily true, but my teacher loved the story. He gave it an “A” and asked me if I would bring my grandparents to school so they could talk about their lives and take questions from the class. Picturing what a disaster that would have been, I did some quick damage control and explained that my grandparents wouldn’t be able to make it.

Do you have any literary influences / authors you admire?

There are a lot of books that I loved reading while I was growing up and they were certainly influences towards my own writing. 

Number one on my list would have to be “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. I found the story clever, funny, and well told. Not to mention, so many of the lines are quotable. The sequel, “Restaurant at the end of the galaxy” was just as good, if not even better. After that, the sequels started to drop in quality, but I’ve reread the first two books many times. (Truth be told, I gone though both books twice before realizing that one of the main character’s name was NOT Ford Perfect). 

My next book is “The Time Machine” by HG Wells. The concept of travelling through time and witnessing the future is every fiction writer’s dream.

Last, and perhaps most important on my list was Stephen Baxter’s “The Time Ships,” which was a direct sequel to “The Time Machine.” It was one of the first non-classics I remember reading. It had short chapters and each one ended with a cliffhanger. The entire book kept my attention, especially since I never liked long chapters. I say “Time Ships” was the most important book I’ve ever read because it was the one that pushed me over the line and inspired me to become a writer. 

We absolutely loved The Witches Of Vegas! With the sequel just around the corner, what can you tell us about it?

Thank you for the compliment, I’m glad you loved “The Witches of Vegas.” I think your audience will too, not just for the fantasy aspect, but for the characters. These are the types of people we all want to be our best friends. 

The sequel, titled “Journey To New Salem,” takes place a year after the events of “The Witches of Vegas.” While “The Witches of Vegas” introduces us to this family of witches and their vampire mentor in Las Vegas and the local magicians around them, the sequel will open up more of the supernatural world. We learn more of their world and their history as the family searches for a fabled village of witches that may or may not exist. Why must our heroes leave their home to seek out this village? Find out in “Journey To New Salem.” 

Are you a fan of Doctor Who, and if so, what was your first memory and do you have a favourite episode?

It’s really hard to choose a favorite episode from a series that’s been around since the sixties and has gone through so many different renditions How can I even begin to compare Doctor Who from 1963, which I had seen as syndication on PBS when I was a young child, to current Doctor Who which I am seeing now on BBCA as an adult. (I will say, however, that one arc I particularly liked was the Brain of Morbius storyline.)

My earliest memory involving Doctor Who is kind of funny. When I was about ten years old, my father would tell me about Doctor Who, which I was interested in watching. If my father liked it, I figured I would like it. After all, he was right about Star Trek. So, I read in the TV guide (which was a thing back then) that an episode of Doctor Who was going to be shown Saturday afternoon on PBS. Saturday afternoon came but I didn’t get to the TV until about fifteen minutes after the time the episode was supposed to start. I sat down in front of my TV and turned on PBS. Apparently, I had the day wrong, because PBS was showing the old 1981 TV movie version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Being ten years old, and never seeing Doctor Who before, I thought that was what I was watching…and the guy in the bathrobe WAS Doctor Who.  I remember, even at ten years old, thinking that was a weird way for a timelord to dress…and where was the TARDIS my father told me all about? 

Finally, if you could take a round trip in the TARDIS, anywhere in time and space, where would you go and why?

Wow, what an opportunity, to travel to another planet with human life somewhere across the entire universe. The chance to either find out, in person, what the world looked like during the dinosaur age…or see what humanity would evolve into 200 thousand years from now. 

Hmm…I think in the end I would choose to stay in my own home in current time. Why? Because that’s where all of my stuff is. 

Thank you for the interview and giving me a chance to share The Witches of Vegas with all of my fellow Doctor Who fans. 

+  The Witches Of Vegas is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @MarkRosendorf on Twitter.

16 December 2020

Publisher: Pyr

Written By: Barbara Barnett

RRP: £16.99 / $19.95 (Paperback) | £7.66 / $9.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 16th December 2020

Alchemy Of Glass is the follow-up novel to Barbara Barnett's The Apothecary's Curse; a cross-genre story seated in a historical fiction setting. In it, Burnett continues the story of Gaelen (our central character, who also happens to be an immortal apothecary). That being said, if you haven't read the previous book, you can jump right in here.

This time around we are thrown further into Gaelen's past, present and future whilst dipping in and out of themes such as mythology, science and ancient lore. There's also a rather worrying foreshadowing of things to come, and one cannot help but feel a parallel with certain world events our our own reality...

One of the things we loved most is how past actions from the previous book are accountable in this one, and in particular lead to an interesting plot point in relation to a returning character. 

The story, characters and sheer drive through Alchemy Of Glass is a true testament to Barnett's skill as a writer, but even more than that, it's her almost poetic way in which she describes her world. You don't even have to venture past the very first page for a greater example of this:

"Gaelan Erceldoune strolled along the water’s edge, zigzagging his way through the detritus washed up on the gravel-strewn shore. Stopping, he gazed at the horizon, only now becoming discernable against the black water.

A lone figure, frock coat billowing in the stiff breeze, stood at the distant point of a decaying wooden pier, staring into the dusky lavender of the pre-dawn sky as daylight advanced in slow ascent."

And again at the start of Chapter 16:

"Shadows crept the catacomb walls as Gaelan made his way through the narrow corridor. The last vestiges of lantern light faded and extinguished. And that damnable tinkling again. Where the fuck was it coming from? Burrowing into his head, it had become a discordant concerto, disorienting and setting the darkness isorienting and setting the darkness to relentlessly spin around and through him."

Two completely contrasting settings, but equally described in a rich, almost mesmerising way. Fantastic!

Contrast is a tool that the author uses to great advantage; from the cross-genre settings, the thematic disparate of darkness and light, to the locations of this story - (we begin in Chicago and end in the UK), you're always guessing what's coming next and never sure of what to expect. 

We have no idea if there will be a third story in this series, but we are hopeful. Barnett has crafted a unique masterpiece and if anything, has actually created an even better book than the first!

+  Alchemy Of Glass is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @B_Barnett (Barbara Barnett) on Twitter.

7 December 2020

Collect characters from across the Doctor Who universe and trade with other fans. Go head-to-head with friends in turn-based contests as part of the Doctor Who: Worlds Apart PC game!

Fans can now collect digital versions of their favourite Doctor Who characters for the very first time, in the form of Doctor Who: Worlds Apart trading cards. Digital card packs are available to buy from today on the Doctor Who: Worlds Apart website. 

This must-have collection from BBC Studios and Reality Gaming Group includes over 200 digital trading cards based on characters, scenes and objects drawn from the entire 57-year history of Doctor Who.

There are four different packs for fans to purchase, each containing between five and ten limited-edition cards with beautifully hand drawn images. Fans can also collect 13 different cosmetic card frames. 

As with physical trading cards, some will be rarer than others, for example, the TARDIS will be rarer than the Silurian. Collectors will be able to trade their cards in the marketplace launching early next year, giving fans another opportunity to trade their favourite character with other collectors

Each card is secured and protected on the blockchain, which means there can be no copies or disputes about ownership.

From next year collectors will be able use their cards to go head-to-head with friends in turn-based contests in the Doctor Who: Worlds Apart card game, a free-to-play tactical card game which will be released for PC in 2021.

The game will be action-packed, with battles fought on digital tabletop boards depicting recognisable locations from Doctor Who. Collectors will play a Time Lord, strategically outsmarting their opponents by building decks that are able to combat a wide variety of tactics. 

Morten Rongaard, Co-Founder of Reality Gaming Group, said:

“We are tremendously excited to be working with BBC Studios to bring Doctor Who’s huge global community an exciting new digital experience based on a pastime we all know and love – trading cards. The cards used in Doctor Who: Worlds Apart are both functional and collectible, so fans can actually own a piece of the game while they play.”

John Kavanagh, Licensing Manager, Gaming and Interactive, BBC Studios, said:

“We’ve worked closely with Reality Gaming Group to deliver a fantastic opportunity to collect and own these beautiful cards and use them in a unique game experience.”

The digital card packs are available to buy now from $4.99 RRP on the Doctor Who: Worlds Apart website at https://doctorwho-worldsapart.com

[Source: BBC Studios]

30 November 2020

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Lizzie Hopley, John Dorney, Roland Moore & Jonathan Barnes

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: November 2020

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"Something is very wrong. The Fifth Doctor is lost in the Time War, heading for an encounter with his oldest and deadliest enemies... the Daleks!"

Echo Chamber by Jonathan Barnes

"It’s the radio talk show where everyone’s free to call in with their opinions. Time to welcome its host – the Doctor!"

Towards Zero by Roland Moore

"The Doctor finds himself in an old country house where he has to solve a very unusual murder – his own!"

Castle Hydra by Lizzie Hopley

"Nearing the end of his journey, the Doctor enters a jail filled with familiar faces. But who are the prisoners and who are the wardens?"

Effect and Cause by John Dorney

"A crash in the vortex leads the Doctor to the source of all his troubles, and to the Daleks. The answers are here. If he can live long enough to find them."

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers. You have been warned!

After the first part of the Shadow of the Daleks anthology wowed me, I was eager for the second half. Would it hold up: could it hold up? For the most part, the answer is yes. Overall, this is another strong release in a range that has been desperate for one for a long time now.

We start with Echo Chamber by Jonathan Barnes, which is a lot of fun. Big Finish have leaned into commentary on the downsides of social media and whipped-up public hate lately, notably in the sorely underrated and sharp Like by Jacqueline Rayner, and now again here. The Doctor finds himself unexpectedly hosting a radio show where he is encouraged to fuel people’s anger and polemic views, a scenario entirely unsuited to the Fifth Doctor and therefore all the more amusing and uncomfortable: long silences feel like they last forever and the exasperation of the staff is tangible. It’s a good opener and Barnes is clearly having fun taking his swipes as this sort of manufactured outrage.

This is followed by Towards Zero by Roland Moore, the sort of story you can only really tell with a formula like Doctor Who’s, in which the Doctor finds himself trying to solve his own death. It’s a fun premise bolstered by the ensemble cast once again showing their versatility and willingness to really get stuck into the humour and horror of these scripts. It doesn’t feel right to single any of the cast out really as everyone across this set puts in a tremendous performance, but I’d be lying if I said that Dervla Kirwan and Anjli Mohindra weren’t the ones who were still in my mind days later.

Castle Hydra by Lizzie Hopley is next and shows how the single-episode running time can work to a story’s advantage. The Doctor finds himself in a suspicious prison where there is far more to the prisoners than meets the eye, and it’s not just one set of familiar faces which greets him. This is a story with a fairly simple premise, and a faintly familiar one, but at half an hour it doesn’t outstay its welcome as would be the case otherwise. Again, the performances are tight and the writing likewise, Hopley elevating what could be fairly run-of-the-mill characters to higher plains.  It’s the first play to really go hard on the ‘everybody looks and sounds the same’ angle and it deals with it well, leading into the finale without sounding forced.

Speaking of, we wrap things up with John Dorney’s Effect and Cause. It was always going to be tricky to end this run, as what would usually be the two main hooks (the Time War/Daleks and the fact the Doctor keeps meeting the same people time and again) have in fact been background noise for the most part, much to the anthology’s advantage. The fact they’re in focus here makes this the least exciting episode in the run for me, though I suppose it was inevitable.

Really though, what gets me most about using the Time War is that it was completely unnecessary. You could have the Daleks menacing the Time Lords without it being anything to do with the Time War; it’s not like they don’t have previous in everything from Resurrection of the Daleks to The Apocalypse Element. Worse, by making the Fifth Doctor even vaguely aware of the Time War, it makes his (canonical) lack of further investigation into it all the stranger: this is the Doctor who remarked that curiosity had always been his downfall after all.

It’s a habit Big Finish fall into all too often: see also Missy all but being told her entire redemption arc in The Lumiat but ignoring it for the sake of continuity. It’s meant to be a wink to the audience, but it just makes the characters look dumb and when you’re robbing your central characters of intelligence and initiative, albeit retroactively, you have a problem.

So, a poor ending but not enough to drag things down elsewhere. You can see the strain around the edges sometimes in Shadow of the Daleks 2 (having a story set in a radio studio with accompanying studio-bound microphone effects followed by one supposedly set outside but with the same sound levels betrays the recorded-at-home nature of things all too readily) but what they’ve achieved overall is nothing short of impressive and worthy of praise and the ensemble cast have been universally excellent.

The end is here for the main range as we know it, the final curtain dropping, but for two months running, they’ve shown that there is life in the old dog yet.


+ Shadow Of The Daleks 2 is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


29 November 2020

The Thirteenth Doctor and ‘the fam’ will kick-off 2021 with an action-packed spectacular episode entitled ‘Revolution of the Daleks’ set to air on BBC One on New Year’s Day. 

The Festive Special episode will see a host of exciting guest artists including previously announced John Barrowman MBE who will be reprising his role as Captain Jack Harkness alongside Chris Noth who will be back as the disgraced Jack Robertson. Noth previously appeared in the series 11 episode ‘Arachnids in the UK’ and it’s safe to say the Doctor and all those involved were less than impressed by his questionable actions. However viewers will have to wait and see just what brings him back this time… 

 

Star of the stage and screen Dame Harriet Walter will also be making her Doctor Who debut for the Festive Special alongside television star Nathan Stewart-Jarrett who has recently appeared in The Trial of Christine Keeler.
 

Viewers last saw the Thirteenth Doctor at the end of series 12 where her fate was left hanging in the balance as she was locked away in a high-security alien prison with no hope of escape. In the upcoming Festive Special, Yaz, Ryan and Graham are far away on Earth and having to carry on with their lives without her. However they soon discover a disturbing plan forming. A plan which involves a Dalek. How can you fight a Dalek without the Doctor? Even with Captain Jack’s help, the gang are set to face one of their biggest and most frightening challenges yet…  

 

Chris Chibnall, Executive Producer, said:


“We’ve crammed this year's Doctor Who Festive Special with an explosion of extraordinary acting talent.  Where else would you get British acting royalty, a globally renowned US screen star, an (inter)national treasure of stage and screen and one of Britain's hottest young actors — just in the guest cast! Put those together with Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole (and Daleks! Did I mention Daleks!) — and you get a cast to be exterminated for. And things will explode. Promise.”

 

+ ‘Revolution of the Daleks’ will air on New Year’s Day on BBC One.

WATCH the trailer in the player, below:



[Source: BBC Studios]

25 November 2020

BBC Studios continues to offer Doctor Who fans the opportunity to build their own home archive of classic content with Doctor Who: The Collection - Season 8. Starring Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning, this hotly anticipated instalment can be pre-ordered now and will be available from 23rd February 2021.

Doctor Who – The Collection: Season 8

TERROR OF THE AUTONS
THE MIND OF EVIL
THE CLAWS OF AXOS
COLONY IN SPACE
THE DAEMONS

Stranded on 20th Century Earth, the Third Doctor teams up with UNIT and new companion Jo Grant to thwart alien invasions! And that’s not all, he must also contend with the arrival of his deadliest foe – arch nemesis the Master.

Battling Autons, Axons, an alien mind parasite and a mighty Daemon, the Doctor, Jo and UNIT must defend the Earth – and its future pioneers - in five action-packed adventures.

With all episodes newly remastered, this Blu-ray box set also contains extensive and exclusive special features including:

• Behind the Sofa - New episodes with Katy Manning, Stewart Bevan, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton, Sacha Dhawan and Anjli Mohindra.
• In Conversation - Matthew Sweet chats to companion Katy Manning.
• A Devils Weekend - Actors Katy Manning and John Levene take a personal trip back to the picturesque village of Aldbourne, 50 years after they recorded the Doctor Who story The Daemons there.  
• The Direct Route - Doctor Who directors Michael Briant, Graeme Harper and Tim Combe take an epic road trip to all the filming locations from Season 8 as they discuss directing the show in the early 1970s.
• Terrance and Me - Lifelong Doctor Who fan, Frank Skinner sets out to meet the family, friends and colleagues of the late, much-loved writer, Terrance Dicks.
• Blu-Ray trailer - A specially shot mini-episode
• Extended Episode 1 of The Claws of Axos
• 90 minute omnibus edition of The Daemons
• Immersive 5.1 surround sound on Terror of the Autons and The Daemons
• Optional updated special effects and CSO clean-up on Terror of the Autons
• Unseen studio footage
• Rare archive treats
• Convention footage
• HD photo galleries
• Scripts, costume designs, rare BBC production files
• And lots more!

The eight-disc box set also includes hours of special features previously released on DVD.

+ The Collection - Season 8 is released on 23rd February 2021, RRP: £61.27
+ PREORDER this title from Amazon.co.uk for just £44.99!



[Source: 
BBC Studios]

24 November 2020

Back in 2005, for many fans of a certain age, a long period of Doctor Who televisual drought had finally come to an end; the wilderness years were over.

Despite having so much to live up to, Christopher Eccleston's first series was a palpable hit, with Russell T. Davies having rooted the show with more story arcs, more emotion and more budget than we could have possibly dreamed of. 

There were a number of takeaway favourites from that first series; Rose and the Doctor's chemistry, the (previously mentioned) season-long story arc, "Are you my Mummy!" and good old Captain Jack Harkness, played so wonderfully by John Barrowman.

During the closing moments of Series One, poor Jack was left for dead, and it wasn't until Series Three's three-part finale that we would see him again in Doctor Who. But the minute he reappeared on that screen, you couldn't help but feel the excitement and love that this character brings to the Doctor Who universe. A big part of that is down to Barrowman's own love for the show and his character, and it effortlessly comes across on-screen.

Captain Jack would make one more cameo appearance in the Series Four finale (The End Of Time: Part Two) - and then nothing for a further eight series...

Whilst the show has evolved over the years and several Doctors have come and gone, Jack has always been at the back of our minds. Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat left us with a number of big questions and mysteries surrounding Jack, that even his own Torchwood series never got to the bottom of. What happened in those missing years? Did he really become the Face Of Boe? If so, how?

And such is the enigma of Jack; a character who has always left us wanting more. Peppered lightly, but so meaningfully in Doctor Who - a force for good who always has the Doctor's back. 

For us, Jack almost seems to be the embodiment of Doctor Who fandom; someone that is there to support the Doctor. Someone who is clearly thrilled to be in the Doctor's presence and who has been changed by the Doctor to make choices for the better. Like Jack, we all have the Doctor's back and to take the analogy to its conclusion, fandom will go on living for many years to come.

Earlier this year saw the long-awaited return of Jack in the Series 12 story Fugitive Of The Judoon. Jack had an important message for The Doctor, and left with the promise that he would see her again (although we didn't actually get to see them together in the episode). Having witnessed the joy at Jack's surprise return via fandom on Twitter, it was so clear just how much he was missed and just how much he means to fans. Jack is a touchstone to the show's return 15 years ago, and seeing him back rebuffs all those happy memories and emotions.

Last night we all got the news we were hoping for... Jack is back once more, and finally...FINALLY, he gets to meet our fantastic new Doctor. A Christmas special, no less, with Daleks and futuristic prisons and...well... at least an hour of two old friends thrown back together. 

How apt is that?! It's all of us - The Doctor, his friends, and no matter how much time goes by, we're all still here and ready for the next adventure.

+ Follow @DrWhoOnline on Twitter!

[Source:
DWO]

   

23 November 2020

One of the most iconic characters in the Whoniverse is returning for the upcoming Festive Special of Doctor Who as John Barrowman MBE puts on his famous coat once more and reprises his role as Captain Jack Harkness.

The cheeky Captain left viewers reeling in the series 12 episode, ‘Fugitive of the Judoon’, when he made a brief surprise appearance with a stark warning for Yaz, Ryan and Graham to pass on to the Doctor before disappearing.

In the upcoming special titled, ‘Revolution of the Daleks’, Captain Jack will be on hand to help ‘the fam’ as they discover a disturbing plan forming involving one of the Doctor’s most feared and dangerous enemies, the Daleks. With the Thirteenth Doctor locked away in a space prison, will Captain Jack be able to help save planet Earth?

On returning for the Festive Special, John Barrowman MBE revealed:

“Putting on Jack’s coat and setting foot back on the set of Doctor Who was just like going back home.  It’s always thrilling  to play Captain Jack. He’s a character very close to my heart who changed my life, and to know the fans love him as much as I do makes his return even sweeter. I hope everyone enjoys Jack’s Heroic adventure with Thirteen.” 

Chris Chibnall, Executive Producer, said:

“A Doctor Who Festive Special means treats galore, and there’s no bigger treat than the return of John Barrowman to Doctor Who, for an epic and emotional feature-length episode. If anyone can blast away the sheer rubbishness of 2020, it’s Captain Jack. Daleks beware!”

Matt Strevens, Executive Producer BBC Studios, added:

“After a tantalisingly brief appearance in Fugitive of the Judoon it’s a total joy and thrill to welcome back John as Captain Jack. One of the most iconic characters in Doctor Who lore, his presence ignites this Festive Special from the start.”

Revolution of the Daleks’ will air over the festive period on BBC One with more details to be revealed soon.

[Source: BBC Studios]

11 November 2020

The Thirteenth Doctor is on her way back as filming for series 13 of Doctor Who is now underway. With Jodie Whittaker once again reprising her role as the Doctor, fans can look forward to seeing her on her adventures once again as she fights the good fight across space and time. 

With safety protocols in place, the Doctor Who team are now filming under strict industry and government guidelines to ensure the safety of all cast and crew. With the added time and protocols required, the team will be completing a total of eight episodes rather than the usual eleven.

Talking about the new series, Showrunner Chris Chibnall said:

“In this strangest of years, the Doctor Who production team have worked wonders to get the show back into production. We’re thrilled to be back making the show. Given the complexity of making Doctor Who, and with new and rigorous COVID working protocols, it’s going to take us a little longer to film each episode, meaning we expect to end up with eight episodes, rather than the usual eleven. But rest assured, the ambition, humour, fun and scares you expect from Doctor Who will all still be firmly in place. For everyone around the world, this is a challenging period — but the Doctor never shirks from a challenge!”

Matt Strevens, Executive Producer BBC Studios, added:

“We are so thrilled to have unlocked the TARDIS, dusted down the sonic and be able to start filming again for the next series of Doctor Who. The amazing production team, crew and cast have worked wonders to get us shooting again in these challenging times.  It’s going to be as fun filled and action packed as ever - with plenty of surprises.” 

Piers Wenger, Controller BBC Drama, said:

“We are thrilled that filming series 13 of Doctor Who is now underway. The team have gone to great lengths to safely bring the TARDIS back to BBC One. We are all looking forward to seeing what adventures are in store for the Doctor but whilst we await her return, we can all look forward to the festive special.”

The Thirteenth Doctor was last seen in the dramatic series 12 finale where the fate of the Doctor was seemingly left hanging in the balance after she was locked away in an eternal prison. In the upcoming festive special, titled ‘Revolution of the Daleks’, the Doctor’s best friends Yaz (played by Mandip Gill), Ryan (played by Tosin Cole) and Graham (played by Bradley Walsh) have to pick up their lives without her. However they soon discover a disturbing plan forming involving one of the Doctor’s biggest and most feared enemies – the Daleks. How do you fight the Daleks without the Doctor? With the Doctor’s fate unknown, just what will series 13 bring?

Revolution of the Daleks will air on BBC One over the festive period. Doctor Who is a BBC Studios production.

[Source: BBC Studios]

9 November 2020

Publisher: HK Doodles

Written By: Kip Koelsch

RRP: £8.09 / $9.99 (Paperback) | £3.21 / $4.15 (Kindle)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 9th November 2020

Not knowing what to expect in a book is a rare treat for a reader, in a world where certain themes, plots, devices and even characters can seem like they're treading old ground or rehashing old favourites. Kip Koelsch's Piercing The Celestial Ocean, however, constantly has the reader guessing and wondering what direction it will go in.... and we LOVE it!

This is an epic story, essentially, about two universes coming together (in more ways than one). With wormholes, multiverses, time travel and AI (to name just a few popular devices), there's so much going on that you can't wait to find out what crazy turn is around the corner. That being said, at no point does the narrative become muddy or complicated; we get explanations along the way and if there does appear to be a short moment of time where you start to wonder what's happening, it's not long before Koelsch sets things on course again.

The sheer amount of work that has gone into fleshing out one of the main cultures in the story (the P'nesians) has to be commended. You really get a feel for the people and their hierarchy and it's so interesting when you blend this with the multiverse and other cultures.

Anyone who has read Koelsch's other works, particularly Wendell's Lullaby, will know that the author has a close affinity with the ocean - something that is very much present here in this book, and is rather cleverly used as a key part of the whole story. To draw a parallel to Star Trek (something that you will feel strong flavours of in this book) it had us thinking back to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - except this time, the author got it right!

Piercing The Celestial Ocean is old-school Science Fiction that seamlessly connects to modern day aspects of the genre. It seems the multiverse is very much an in thing at the moment within SciFi, but rather than feeling like it's keeping up with the trend, this books use of it feels natural and certainly not shoe-horned in.

The tagline of this book is 'The Saga Of The Cerulean Universe Begins' and begin it most definitely has! By the time you reach the end, you feel like you're only just scratching the surface of what's in store. We very much looking forward to following this saga!

+  Piercing The Celestial Ocean is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.com!
+  Follow @KipAAuthor (Kip Koelsch) on Twitter.

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