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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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7 July 2020

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

2.6: Reset

We start the episode with a mysterious VIP visitor who Jack is very excited to see and who would Jack be most excited about? Well it had to be Martha Jones played by the wonderful, Freema Agyeman.

 

What’s amazing about this episode is that you can feel and see the love and friendship Martha and Jack have from their time travelling with the Doctor. It’s the kind of chemistry you get when you see a friend to whom you haven’t spoken for a long time, and when you finally meet, it’s just as if hardly a day has passed. Martha has gained a job at UNIT as a doctor and this makes you cheerfully punch  the air. You know Martha  has just got on with life after The Doctor and has become a hugely successful person in the process. It’s a great piece of character development which is amazing to see in the spin-off series that’s so highly regarded.

 

Back to the story, Martha is drafted in by Jack and she’s found a connection of mysterious deaths that appear to be unrelated until you look at the finer detail. It’s nice to see Martha use her medical knowledge in ways we didn’t get to see in “Doctor Who.” Owen and Martha quickly form a partnership as they’re working together to find out what’s been injected into the victims bodies to kill them. Naturally, it would turn out to be an alien threat, manipulated by humans for their own gain. In this case, it’s small bugs that appear to cure all kinds of cancers, diseases etc in the human immune system. But what doesn’t make sense is why people are being injected with bleach to hide the evidence. Just before one of the victims dies, she tells Martha and Owen about this place called The Pharm, that is using volunteers in their clinical trials to help with their medical history. Of course, where there’s a cure, there’s some kind of money making scheme behind it and that’s when we meet Professor Aaron Copley, the chairman of the whole operation.

 

Martha volunteers to spy on the medical trials to find out what is going on and to recover the missing medical records from the victims that were killed. During the process, she is quickly discovered after being chased by one of the alien creatures being used to create the miracle cure. What’s also great in the episode, is Martha is still affected by what happened to her on her travels with the Doctor - her blood cells having unique properties manipulated by the Time Vortex. This could be a theme to a whole episode in itself. Torchwood usually has its famous McGuffin’s, as Owen luckily has a device which can get the alien creature out of Martha just in the knick of time, before it bursts out of her stomach in “Alien” style. 

 

Reset delivers the very conventional Torchwood plot of the big baddy who needs to be stopped no matter what. The narrative of this episode parallels that of “Meat” where the alien meat was being chopped up to be sold on the  open market for money. What makes the difference, is Professor Aaron Copley thinks that experimenting on aliens and humans is ok if the outcome means he can save the world in the future with this new cure.

 

Just as you think the Torchwood team has just saved the day once again as they shut down the facility, Professor Aaron Copley steps out from the darkness with a gun, ready to take vengeance for destroying his life’s work. Owen, no stranger to facing a gun, steps forward to disarm the situation. As the audience, you believe he’ll come out fine as they always do in Torchwood, until he takes a fatal shot to the heart. It all doesn’t seem real until Martha confirms “He’s dead.” It’s a moment that really is shocking as we’ve just got Martha back and everything felt like it was becoming a bigger family unit; it’s all cruelly taken away in an instant. Jack immediately fires back in anger killing the Professor on the spot. The camera then appears to be flying higher and higher into the air, as if it were following Owen’s soul to heaven.

 

Knowing how Torchwood deal with scenarios, I don’t think this will be the last time we see Owen.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

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[Source:
DWO]

1 July 2020

Publisher: BHC Press

Written By: J.W. Garrett

RRP: £10.95 / $14.95 (Paperback)

Reviewed by: Sebastian J. Brook

Review Posted: 1st July 2020

Remeon's Destiny follows the story of Thomas, a young man growing up in 1940's rural Virginia, who dreams of more than the expected path set before him. Immediately we felt pangs of nostalgia due to the loose parallels with Superman and Star Wars; Clark Kent growing up in rural Kansas - destined for greater things, and Luke Skywalker growing up on a moisture farm on the desert planet of Tattooine - destined to bring peace and order to the galaxy.

It's a recipe that works so well as we all root for the central character to achieve their aspirations, but it's always so refreshing when an author actually adds something new and unexpected to that recipe - and that's exactly what J.W. Garrett has done here.

The juxtaposition between the setting of post-World War II America and that of the futuristic world of Remeon is stark and ultimately meaningful as events, experiences and choices made in the future, make for fantastic character development in Thomas and for the messages and warnings that are underlying for our own planet.

Speaking of characters, those featured in Remeon's Destiny are rich and well-rounded, and whilst Thomas is our main protagonist, there are some fantastic female characters full of depth and who give great poignance to the story. It feels wonderfully balanced and, as a result, real.

Garrett's skill of painting both mundane life in rich, beautiful detail, coupled with the far out complex strokes of a distant world in the same brush is commendable. All this whilst maintaining a driven, entertaining story that compels you to keep on reading - and boy does it do that! 

There are so many moments that jump off the page and feel like a full-on emotive scene that you'd expect to see in a big-screen movie.

There's one particular line near the end of the story, and without giving too much away, it captures a moment every son hopes to have with his father; an acknowledgement of change and being accepted as an adult:

"James desperately searched for answers as he combed the face he thought he knew so well. “Son,” he said, as he grasped Thomas’s shoulders, his voice quivering, “you’ve changed. I can see it in you. A man’s eyes don’t lie.""

That sense of journey; a beginning, a middle and an end - the load-bearing principles of good story writing are all here, but there's so much colour and attention to detail that, (if you pardon us one more arty metaphor), you end up with a masterpiece so full of depth you'll want to bask in it time and time again.

Whilst we are aware the is a prequel to this story now available (and we are very much looking forward to reading it), we cannot help wanting to see what happens next in Thomas' story. As of writing we have just had news that Book 3 in the series (Remeon's Crusade) is out in August - and we cannot wait!

+  Remeon's Destiny is Out Now!
+  Buy this book from Amazon.co.uk!
+  Follow @GarrettJLW on Twitter.

24 June 2020

Escape Hunt has today released booking slots for customers to play a remote version of their 5 star escape room Doctor Who: Worlds Collide.

Now booking, this remote experience invites friends, family and colleagues to come together via Zoom and play Escape Hunt’s physical escape room from their own homes. You and your team will direct a real-life expert games master, move them around the room, find hidden clues, solve puzzles, and see if you can escape before time runs out!

In Doctor Who: Worlds Collide, The Doctor needs you: a tear in space and time has been detected, and the Cybermen are about to break through! Step into the future. Enter the offices of ChronosCorp HQ, where eccentric billionaire Alastair Montague’s efforts to develop commercial time travel have caused a tear in the fabric of space and time. The Cybermen are ready to take advantage and attack Earth. You, the Doctor’s friends, must investigate the incident. The remains of Montague, his prototype time engine and the extensive collection of time-related artefacts acquired over the course of his experiments, are all that you have to work with. The fate of the universe is in your hands. Take too long and the human race will be “upgraded”.

Richard Harpham, CEO Escape Hunt PLC, says:

“We’re delighted to be expanding our range of at home experiences with remote play games. It’s fantastic that now, using technology, we can give people the opportunity to play our much-loved physical escape rooms in their own homes.”

The play at home experience allows players from the same or separate households to take part together and solve the puzzles.

It's a 1 hour experience replicating the in-room play experience suitable for 1 to 6 players aged 8+. Prices are charged per game play and are set for all group sizes. Doctor Who: Worlds Collide costs £60 per gameplay.

+ For more information on how to book – https://escapehunt.com/uk/play-at-home-games/

[Source: BBC Studios]

23 June 2020

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

2.5: Adam

We begin with the Torchwood theme, but hang on a minute, there’s a new addition to the team, who we as the audience, have never seen before. I love that the opening has immediately smashed the 4th wall perspective by adding this new team member, Adam, to immediately create a sense of confusion, implying he had been there since the beginning of the series.

 

The whole concept of this episode is the theme of, “What If?” What if Tosh became a more confident woman; what if Owen was more of the reserved nerd. It’s an interesting twist we’ve seen a fair few times with superhero/ Sci-Fi genres, to really change the dynamic of the team and how they’re going to combat this. I love that with Rhys being more involved with the team, there’s a sense of gravitas and consequence to their actions and how they need to keep the team safe. The whole first half of this episode does leave a long trail of what does Adam want and why has he decided to become part of the Torchwood team in this way? Again as the audience, we’re treated as the people who always know more than the team and for me, I find myself shouting at the TV as soon as you know they’re being used or put in imminent danger. It’s a kind of weird,out of body experience watching the episode. 

 

Adam is an alien existing by living in other people's memories. Everything all seems fun and games as the team carry on as normal, up until Gwen fails to recognise who Rhys is. After a very intense fight between Gwen and Rhys, Jack turns the tides and there is a compromise between them both. Rhys almost has built a slight sense of trust, despite everything else.

 

In an interesting turn of events for this story, we delve into Jack’s history and where he’s come from. Adam tricks Jack into remembering his past which he has long forgotten. With Adam’s alien powers, he’s able to access Jack’s memories of losing his family when he was younger and we as an audience, start to get that understanding of why Torchwood means so much to him. The scene of Jack letting go of his little brother’s hand, is heart breaking. Jack Montgomery, who plays young Jack, puts so much into showing the pain of his mistake and the burden this places on  himself as the older Jack. Torchwood is the stable family he found enabling him to recover from his past.

 

You feel Adam is almost helping the Torchwood team until - well let’s just say Ianto is the character who takes a considerable chunk of heartbreak and emotional torment in this episode. We’ve seen up until half way through the episode, that Adam has given the team good memories, as well as exploring forgotten memories; but what happens when things don’t exactly go Adam’s way? Ianto in his dorky way, kept a diary of all the teams adventures and finds that in a not so shocking twist, Adam isn’t in any of the entries. This is where the episode becomes incredibly dark and twisted. Adam not only has the ability to provide good memories but also bad ones. In a horrific montage of images, he leads Ianto into thinking he’s a predatory murderer, making him believe all the false memories. It turns into a scene which is incredibly uncomfortable to watch but Gareth David-Lloyd really puts everything into the emotions and you can feel the pain and anguish.

 

This is the last straw for Captain Jack. He takes Ianto to a lie detector to prove he didn’t murder anyone and also convinces the team that Adam can only exist by using their memories. They realise the only way to get rid of Adam, is to retcon themselves. However, Adam is not quite done yet. He convinces Captain Jack to relive family memories and the good times they had, however, Adam tries to distort them and leaves Jack with a conflict; he either lets Adam live by remembering these memories or  he has to forget everything he’s discovered about his family. In the end, Jack makes the ultimate sacrifice for the team by forgetting the last 48 hours as if nothing happened.

 

The ending has a sombre tone as the team wake up after taking the retcon and can’t remember anything. At the end, Jack finds an open box which belonged to Adam showing the sands of Jack’s home world;  however, with Jack’s memories gone of his home world, in confusion, he places it back where it was found. It’s an ending that breaks your heart completely.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

Follow @Tardis_Monkey on Twitter!
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[Source:
DWO]

16 June 2020

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

2.4: Meat

Meat” is an episode that guides you towards a pretty simplistic story line, well simplistic in terms of Torchwood, with an alien being chopped up and being sold to distributors to sell as cheap meat to go in all kinds of food. However, “Meat” throws the curve ball of Gwen having to finally make her choice of staying with Torchwood or choosing Rhys.

 

I always feel sorry for Rhys. He’s the boyfriend who always seems to be 5 steps behind not only the Torchwood team but the audience as well. As the series has been going on, we’re finally getting to terms with the Torchwood team and their dynamic as Gwen finally seems to be settling in, but there’s always been this niggle at the back of Gwen’s mind and that is Rhys. Coincidently, as one of his lorries has an accident, Rhys finally gets his chance to call Gwen out on her job, as he sees her investigating the accident.

 

The argument scene between Rhys and Gwen is the build up we’ve all been waiting for. The tension and the rapid cuts and zooms in the scene create the heated tension of their relationship. The one moment that makes me slightly annoyed is when Rhys asks if Gwen has been sleeping with Jack and she replies “all I ever asked, is for you to trust me.” Now this should have been the moment Gwen confesses about sleeping with Owen; it’s a moment from series 1 that seems to be completely glossed over with no consequences to her actions. However, it is finally nice that we have got over the secrecy between Gwen and Rhys, as it allows his character now to develop within the series.

 

Rhys’s plan was to find out what Gwen was up to and thereby he inadvertently becomes involved with the alien meat trade. What I think would have made this episode interesting, would have been if Rhys was directly involved with this illegal alien meat trading. It would have raised a great conflict in Gwen, deciding if her duty of working for Torchwood outweighed her love for Rhys, rather than just being coincidental involvement because  of the gang running the alien meat operation with Rhys’s distribution company.

 

With Rhys being involved, we get a kind of Scooby-Doo plot, finding out who these people are, why they’re selling the meat and trying to stop them. In true Torchwood style, it really tries to create a sense of relatable moments of humanity as again the Torchwood team face the decision of saving the poor alien whale that’s being used for the meat, or to end it and the horrific life it’s had to endure on Earth. Tosh does have what seems quite a throwaway line of ‘Its sentient,’ -  how does she know? It’s all brushed over very quickly. Unfortunately, the special effects haven’t aged too well as time has gone on, I always still believe less is more. The eye has been animated so well and you can really feel the true pain of the sentient creature as it’s being cut into. However when the camera pans back, the emotion is somewhat lost, as it gives it a cheapened look.

 

The whole episode is very quickly resolved as it turns out about only 5 amateur gang members are involved with this crime and are very quickly taken out. It leaves loads of open questions such as, how did they know this meat is edible and would grow back again and again? This is a very relationship centred story, more than anything before, and does explore how dysfunctional the Torchwood team really are at the moment, even to the point where Gwen would volunteer to be Retcond if it meant she would stay with Rhys. With all its’ flaws, it’s a great episode for the development of the characters of the team; with Rhys knowing more about Gwen’s life, what is now left in store for the both of them?


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

Follow @Tardis_Monkey on Twitter!
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[Source:
DWO]

15 June 2020

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Chris Chapman

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: May 2020

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"July 1944. The TARDIS materialises in a small village near Rouen, where celebrations are in full swing. A joyful France is in the midst of liberation as the local population welcome a battalion of Allied soldiers – along with a colourfully dressed Doctor and his two rather excited friends.

But there are screams amidst the celebrations as an angry crowd dish out their brand of justice to one of their own that they have branded a traitor. While Constance and Flip find themselves on opposite sides of a war beyond a war, the Doctor has other concerns. 

The local community is used to the fires of battle, but a new type of blaze is burning – leaping from aircraft to aircraft, man to man – and this fire seems to be just as eager for revenge as the village mob."

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

Scorched Earth by Chris Chapman takes us back into the war, landing us in France after its liberation. It feels like you cannot move for World War II-related things when it comes to Big Finish right now. We’ve the ersatz Third Doctor and Churchill in Operation Hellfire, Churchill again bothering the Seventh Doctor but a couple of plays ago, and now this. Whether this was all done to coincide with the VE Day celebrations in 2020 or just a coincidence, it does feel like we’re riffing on the same territory time and again right now, which made me slightly sigh as the play started up.

This is unfair really as there is a lot to celebrate in Scorched Earth. The sound design seems to be back to its usual strength after last month’s notable blip, and Chapman paces the script really well. We move from action to drama to quiet character moments to big incidents with ease. Were it in print, you’d call it a page-turner and as it is, it passes two hours very quickly.

That said, there are some strange moments in here. Flip seems to be playing some sort of game where she is only allowed to talk in quips and pop cultural references, which feels forced and lacks credibility. I know the point of her character is often to contrast with Constance but we move into the realm of being unbelievable here. She also seems to be fire retardant, able to withstand standing in a burning building, smoke and all, for ages. Perhaps it’s not real fire though, as the Doctor is also able to stand in the middle of the inferno and spout some exposition before saving the day.

Elsewhere, there is drama to be had with Constance realising just where, and when in time, she is, but the Doctor’s anguish over it seems to evaporate fairly quickly so that the plot can get on with telling a story. This is probably for the best, but again it ranks as one of the play’s strange moments.

Likewise, soon after the play starts we witness a woman, Clementine, being called a traitor and singled out for punishment by a braying mob, and rather than stop this, as Flip wants to, the Doctor decides to let them be, for the sake of blending in with the locals. This leads to clashes between Constance and Flip throughout the rest of the play. Constance believes the woman should be punished if she has betrayed the town to the Nazis; Flip just sees a scared and crying woman. The clash between them both on this is not subtly drawn but works well, reminding us of their different timeframes and perspectives, and it remains a thread throughout, with the play siding with Flip and agreeing she’s in the right. Whether or not you personally agree, it is inarguably the stance Doctor Who usually takes in such matters; the Doctor, too.

On the one hand, you can see just why the Doctor does as he does, not interfering, but on the other it feels very atypical of him to just stand by and let these things unfold. It’s not like in Rosa where inaction is key, it’s just slightly strange and hard to really justify. Colin Baker clearly feels the same way as he goes to some lengths to do just that and defend the scene in the extras, but not entirely with conviction. For me, it left a slightly bad smell in the air, reminding me a little of Timewyrm: Genesys and its rather infamous excusing of sexual assault as a ‘product of the time’.

Still, it’s nothing compared to the Doctor later on thanking a couple of Nazis for their help. A notable part of this play is Chapman, rightly, pointing out that many were forced into fighting against their will and even against their own beliefs, but it’s still a slightly strange thing to hear. Nothing wrong with being a bit challenging in your content though, so hats off to Chapman for that.

We end the play with things largely resolved between the TARDIS team after Constance is able to help save the day with a nice speech (a personal grumble of mine in Doctor Who in general. It feels a very tired resolution, and almost never a convincing one), though it will be interesting to hear if actions here prove to be the first cracks in an otherwise mostly watertight team.

Is Scorched Earth perfect at all? By no means, and the WWII fatigue doesn’t help, even if that’s not Chapman’s fault but that of scheduling. However, it’s also a largely enjoyable affair with neat sound design and very good ideas in there. A definite up after last month’s outing.


+ Scorched Earth is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


10 June 2020

The global educational publisher Twinkl has partnered with BBC Studios to create a ‘Dalek-table’ range of educational Doctor Who resources for children between seven and eleven years old.

Launching today, these are the first-ever Doctor Who educational resources to be linked to the UK national curriculums.

The resources include activity sheets, interactive presentations and reading comprehensions based around several episodes from series 11 and 12 of Doctor Who. These resources can be used separately or alongside episodes and link the Doctor’s adventures to units of study for school years three to six. 

Covering core subjects including science, geography and history, the materials introduce children to figures such as Rosa Parks, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, and teach them about subjects such as the Indian partition, artificial intelligence and animals and their ecosystems. Children are also encouraged to explore the different uses of electricity and the many forms it takes, as well as how to remain safe when using electrical equipment around the home.

Free to use and accessible to everyone, the resources can be downloaded through the Twinkl website and are a valuable teaching tool for teachers, parents and carers.

Twinkl’s mission is to help those who teach and the company offers over 640,000 teaching and learning materials on its website, which are all teacher created and checked. The company has recently created a bespoke Home Learning Hub, full of daily activities and materials, to support parents, teachers and carers with home learning.

Vanessa Hamilton, Head of Brand, Doctor Who, BBC Studios, said:

“We’re delighted to be partnering with Twinkl to create Doctor Who educational resources for children across the world. Doctor Who has been inspiring and entertaining children for generations, so we’re thrilled that we can bring this much loved series to the classroom in an educational and engaging way.”

Jonathan Seaton, CEO and Co-Founder, Twinkl, said:

“Working with BBC Studios to create this exciting range of Doctor Who learning materials has been out of this world! We are always looking for new ways to help those who teach, and hope that these resources provide teachers, parents and carers with a unique new way to engage children in learning.

We know that now more than ever parents are looking for ways to help children learn at home and hope that the Doctor Who resources will be a big hit in households and at schools right now, as well as far into the future."

These resources can be downloaded from www.twinkl.co.uk/doctorwho

[Source: BBC Studios]

9 June 2020

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

2.3: To The Last Man

We open this episode with an escaped, conventional ghost hunter, as we follow two people through St. Teilo’s military hospital with what looks like a GPS tracker, not something that belongs in 1918. As the two strangers run around the hospital, a shocked nurse is surprised they’re not ghosts; not a typical reaction to the situation, which makes you question for how long this has been going on? As the two strangers run around the hospital looking for these ghosts, they see a vision of a soldier with none other than Tosh!? The solider tells the strangers to take him from 1918 and the tension builds up as the strangers comply with the soldier’s orders. They rush to the bedside of the shell shocked soldier as we get the final build up to the hugely cheesy line, as the two strangers reveal themselves as “Torchwood.”

 

We then flash forward to the present time and we see a very excited Tosh getting ready for what looks like a date. However, this isn’t any normal date as we see the exact same soldier Tommy, who is in a cryogenic chamber. Gwen’s role is the perfect platform to explain why they have to defrost Tommy once a year, as one day they’re going to need him. In another plot scenario, there is a magical box, sorry temporal locked box, that can only be opened by psychic powers. There are some elements in “Torchwood” that always seem to have a convenient way to sort out of all of their problems. It’s something that closely resonates with the sonic screwdriver in episodes of “Doctor Who.”

 

There’s also a touching moment between Tosh and Owen, as Owen says “be careful”. It really resonates  as when Owen lost Diane in “Out of Time”. It’s a great moment which shows Owen is really taking responsibilities for his history. 

 

Tosh and Tommy have a little date, as they both try and make the most of the time Tommy is awake for. It’s another great insight into Tosh’s innocence and maybe answers why she hasn’t been dating in previous episodes.  In a weird time travelling way, Tosh has known Tommy for 4 years, which for him has only been 4 days. It’s a very Doctor and companion kind of relationship, as Tommy has seen many things but is still a young man. For a couple to know each other technically only for a few days, shows how close as a dynamic duo these two are.

 

Gwen and Jack go to explore the the hospital to find clues as to why Tommy is so important in this tangled web of ghosts and time. They both find the ghost sightings are becoming more and more frequent because the hospital itself is being torn down. And suddenly the box of tricks that has been time locked all this time, pops open with instructions on how to fix everything. Regrettably it feels a bit of a cop out for the episode and everything seems too easily fixed.

 

The jeopardy element in this whole story, is the two time zones merging together destroying reality, as well as the consequences of the actions by Torchwood. Tommy is a man literally condemned to death, as no sooner he returns to his own time, he is shot by his own platoon for desertion, which was brought on by shell shock. It brings up the questions of do Torchwood’s actions in saving the universe outweigh their moral?. “To The Last Man” is a great story exploring these decisions.

 

Tosh is such a stand out character in this whole story, as she takes it upon herself to help guide and bring comfort to Tommy as he makes his noble attempt to save the universe. She acts like his guardian angel, as Tommy uses the switch to close the rift in time and she watches over him. Owen claims that Tosh was strong however, she said it’s because of Tommy. They were the perfect pair to save the universe and she hopes it was worth the sacrifice. The end shot focusing on Tosh’s face says there’s hope, and she smiles as she walks away.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

Follow @Tardis_Monkey on Twitter!
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[Source:
DWO]

2 June 2020

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

2.2: Sleeper

Oh Torchwood, it was a valiant effort but a difficult one to keep up with after a triumphant first episode. “Sleeper” is an episode that tries to combine the elements of Paul Cornell’s Virgin New Adventure “Human Nature” but with more grown up themes of violence, death and alien spies. 

 

We start the episode with a very happy couple sleeping away in their bed, when a noise disrupts them as burglars break into the house. There’s a lot of close up camera shots to create a sense of distraction and confusion, as murderous screams ring through and dissolve into the Torchwood theme. 

 

The Torchwood team once again are called in by the police as they try and investigate how the two burglars were murdered, as there were puncture wounds to chest and forehead and one was thrown from the window onto the car below. Not a typical self defence technique. This is a very true typical Torchwood style kind of story, however this is when it all starts getting a bit messy.

 

Owen and Gwen go to the hospital to interrogate the couple from the flat. This is when the plot moves at a million miles an hour. We’re introduced to Beth who was in the flat and all of a sudden we’re dragged into the Torchwood interrogation room with Jack screaming “We know you’re an alien”. We then take a trip around Torchwood and on to meet Janet the Weevil, who is scared of her. Unfortunately all of this happens in the space of about 5 minutes and it really detracts from the emotional connection we’re supposed to feel towards Beth, as we can’t slow down enough to take in everything she’s feeling. Jack again seems to be really unlikable for no reason. I know we had a lot of this through series 1, but there’s usually a reason that builds up and Gwen confronts him. This time, his attitude is almost down played as Ianto sees the interrogation and Jack as a joke. It’s all very strangely paced and again I found this really distracting to what’s going on. 

 

The direction of the story is also somewhat distracting, with quick pans and zooms in scenes that don’t appear to require it, such as a conversation between the Torchwood team as they try to work out who she is. Unfortunately this technique happens quite a few times though the story and iit really distracted me from the plot.

 

The Torchwood team think it’s a good idea to use the mind probe. What!? No, not the mind probe I hear you cry? Well I like what James Moran was trying to do, as most Doctor Who fans will know the mind probe is something you do not mess with; however, other than the shock factor, the whole design of it disappointed me a bit. I liked the archive shots  which were used to show how the mind probe digs through the subconscious and suddenly we find Beth is a sleeper agent.

 

As they discover this, suddenly all the other sleeper agents activate and go on a murderous rampage around Cardiff. I like what they were trying to do by taking out the military base and use the nuclear war heads to destroy the world to take over, however there’s not enough build up in the episode and too much exposition to take in before we even start to care about the situation.

 

What makes this episode stand up is the relationship between Beth and Gwen. It challenges the conventions of what it takes to be human, as Beth discovers she’s an alien. Beth explains she is someone who fell in love and wants to start a family and Gwen takes it upon herself to say “What is it that makes us human, anyway?” It’s not about the body, it’s about your mind and how you feel, which was a nice take on her facing this identity crisis.

 

Once Jack and the team take out the last sleeper agent, Beth knows she can’t go on. She’s seen the devastation the sleeper agents have caused and makes the ultimate sacrifice by getting herself killed, by pretending to attack Gwen before being gunned down. Beth chose to be the person she wanted to be and I think that’s the clear moral message here.


Ellie (TARDISMonkey) 


 

 

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[Source:
DWO]

29 May 2020

Get ready for some dimensionally transcendental meditation! Qualified hypnotherapist - and former TARDIS traveller - Nicola Bryant will be hosting a ‘Quantum Hypnosis’ session via Zoom on the evening of June 18th at 7pm.

Lie back and let Nicola - who played companion Peri opposite Colin Baker’s Doctor - help you to exchange stress for relaxation, as she takes you on a mental voyage to create resilience and a deep sense of peace. The session will last for approximately one hour. You will need somewhere quiet and relaxing where you can lie down to fully participate. 

 

Nicola is putting on this unique wellness event to raise money for ‘Dogs on the Street’ and ‘Chimney Farm Rescue’ - two charities close to her heart, dedicated to helping vulnerable canines and their owners. 

 

Tickets cost £10 and can be purchased from: https://www.outsavvy.com/event/4650/quantum-hypnotherapy-with-nicola-bryant-tickets

[Source: Richard Unwin]

27 May 2020

Doctor Who Magazine have sent DWO the cover and details for Issue 552 of DWM.

THE FIRST DOCTOR’S GREATEST ADVENTURES – CHOSEN BY THE READERS OF DWM!

Thirty-two First Doctor stories battled for the top spot in our epic Twitter contest. Which is the fans’ favourite? 

Issue 552 also includes:

•  Series 11 writers Pete McTighe, Vinay Patel and Joy Wilkinson interview each other.
•  Mark Gatiss answers questions from the TARDIS tin.
•  Time and Space Visualiser presents a rare William Hartnell interview, conducted during rehearsals for The Sensorites in 1964.
•  50 brilliant things about Doctor Who – not including Doctor Who!
•  A tribute to Doctor Who writer Pip Baker.
•  A previously unpublished interview with Pip and Jane Baker.
•  The Fact of Fiction explores Parts Nine to Twelve of 1986’s The Trial of a Time Lord.
•  More of DWM’s recommended lockdown viewing, with a guide to stories available on DVD and streaming services.
•  A look at Race Against Time, a game book in the 1986 Make Your Own Adventure with Doctor Who series.
•  A review of The Maze of Doom, the latest Doctor Who book by David Solomons.
•  The final part of The Piggybackers, a new comic-strip adventure featuring the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends.
•  Big Finish previews and reviews, news, prize-winning competitions, The Blogs of Doom and much more!

+  Doctor Who Magazine Issue #552 is out Thursday 28th May, priced £5.99.
+  SUBSCRIBE to Doctor Who Magazine, digitally from just £2.69 a month!
+  Check Out The DWO Guide to Doctor Who Magazine!

[Source: Doctor Who Magazine]

27 May 2020

Commencing January 2022, Big Finish will relaunch its regular Doctor Who release schedule as a series of dedicated ranges for each of the first twelve incarnations of the Doctor.  

For more than two decades, Big Finish has been producing brand new Doctor Who audio adventures starring the actors who originated the role on TV; Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, David Tennant and John Hurt.  

In recent years, many new ranges have been introduced to the release schedule, incorporating all of the Doctors’ eras from 1963 to 2017. As the company looks to the future, a revised schedule will see a number of new range additions.  

Senior Producer David Richardson said:

“There are so many exciting new directions ahead. Where did the First Doctor and Dodo go next after leaving the planet of The Savages? What happened to the Second Doctor after The War Games? What new adventures await the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith? What happened on the Seventh Doctor’s Last Day? The adventures are only just beginning...” 

The original Big Finish audio drama range – now called the Monthly Adventures – represents a continuous, unbroken run of new Doctor Who audio adventures, one every month, since 1999. This range, of late featuring adventures for the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors, will end with release number 275. Thereafter, there will be a regular rotation of releases, with each Doctor starring in their own box sets of adventures throughout the year.  

Big Finish chairman and executive producer, Jason Haigh-Ellery said:

“One comment we hear more often from new listeners is that they find it hard to know where to begin with our back catalogue of Doctor Who adventures. This change to our release schedule will make it easier for people to start. With a range for each Doctor, there will be a natural ‘stepping on point’ for fans.”  

Creative director and executive producer, Nicholas Briggs, added:

“As well as making our ranges much less confusing for Big Finish beginners, these changes will allow us more exciting new possibilities and creative freedom.  

By freeing the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors from the constrictions of the Monthly Adventures schedule, and giving them their own distinct ranges, we will be able to introduce more surprising cast combinations, different story lengths, and more story arcs.” 

Big Finish listeners keen to complete their collection of Monthly Adventures should read the following:  

-  A 3-release CD / download subscription will be available, starting from #271, #272 or #273, which should enable the majority of subscribers to extend their subscription to the end of the range. Three-release subscriptions are priced at £32.50 for collector’s edition CDs and £27.50 for downloads. 

-  Any existing subscribers who find themselves unable to purchase #274 or #275 via a combination of the 12/6/3-release options should contact sales@bigfinish.com, who will be able to process their orders offline. 

+  Discuss all the Big Finish releases in the DWO Forums.

[Source: Big Finish]

15 May 2020

A new feature for the DWO News page we are thrilled to now include relevant book recommendations from new authors we have discovered. These will include themes that are similar or concurrent with those in Doctor Who and which we think would be of interest to our many readers.

We're pleased to kick off our first recommendation with 'The Loop' by Ben Oliver. Below are the book details, synopsis and purchasing information:

Publisher: Chicken House
Released: 2nd April 2020
Price: £7.99
Ages: 14+ 

CONTROL. ALTER. DELETE.

Luka Kane will die in the Loop, a prison under the control of artificial intelligence. Delays to his execution are granted if Luka submits to medical experiments. Escape is

made impossible by a detonator sewn into his heart.

Trailer:



About the author:

Ben Oliver began writing creatively at age seven, and was promptly placed into the lowest reading and writing group at school. Frustrated by his lack of immediate success, Ben chose to step down from the world of writing. A mere twenty-five years later, and now a high school English teacher, Ben’s first novel The Loop is scheduled to be published in 2020.

+  BUY this title on Amazon!


Do you have a book recommendation that you'd like us to cover? Perhaps you are an author that would love to be featured? Get in touch by emailing the DWO News team at: news@drwho-online.co.uk.

+  Follow @benjamin0liver on Twitter!
+  Follow @DrWhoOnline on Twitter

[Source: Doctor Who Online]

6 May 2020

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Darren Jones

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: April 2020

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"Violently ejected from the Space-Time Vortex, the TARDIS crash lands on the remote planet of Cygia-Rema, a mountainous world ruled by the bird-like Vultriss. Their newly-crowned Queen Skye is expecting first contact with alien ambassadors – Ice Warriors - and the sudden arrival of the Doctor, Flip and Mrs Constance Clarke causes confusion.

However, Skye is no ordinary ruler, she is the Fabled One gifted with the deadly power of ‘The Cry’. The queen who will enable the Vultriss to fly once again – at any cost.

But as the Doctor investigates why the TARDIS crashed, he discovers that the Vultriss are hiding a deadly secret. An ancient legacy that if left unchecked will plunge half the galaxy into an eternal living end."

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

I’ll get the awkward part out of the way now: this is not going to be a positive review. I wish it were. I always find it hard to write a review like this about something like an audio play: some people probably find it easy to do so, but I struggle. The hours that must have been put in by the writer, the director, the actors, the sound designer, the musician. Good intentions run deep in most art, and certainly here nobody has gone out of their way to create something unenjoyable. Also, what one person finds unenjoyable another will delight in, and that’s how it should be: reviews will only ever be subjective. Sadly though, this play failed to land for me in every single way.

We open with a rousing political speech given, promising a population of bird people that good times are ahead. Soon after, we join the TARDIS crew as they sail through the vortex while the Doctor is having a bit of trouble with the controls: so far, so traditional. A callback to Static reminds you how long it has been since this particular TARDIS crew (the Doctor, Flip and Constance Clarke) graced our ears, and it is undoubtedly nice to hear them back as they’ve proven to be a successful team. In fact, I would say that Flip and Constance are far better together than they ever were apart, and perhaps this is one of the play’s problems as they’re separated for much of the play. We lack their spark as they play second-fiddle to a series of uninspiring supporting characters.

Indeed, all the writing and dialogue feels uninspired. At best, it’s gracelessly functional and gets the job done; at worst, it’s overwritten and steeped in cliché. The dialogue is perhaps the greatest offender of the lot with dozens of examples of say-what-you-see writing, which is incredibly grating and unrealistic. I get that you need to paint a picture without visual aids, but it doesn’t work when someone with perfectly fine eyesight tells someone else with equally good eyesight exactly what they can both see, from the position of birds in the sky to rocks that are jutting to the size of places or the design of props. It’s audio exposition at its very worst. Perhaps, like the overall plot, it’s trying to ape a certain style, but to me it felt tired, with twists and turns in the plot flat and predictable.  I’m not sure how that is possible in a play about bird people, political intrigue and Ice Warriors, but here we are.

‘Flat’ also sums up the direction and sound design. This is unusual given how Big Finish usually excel in these matters, but in the opening episode especially it all sounded very studio-bound and lacked sparkle. Early on, the TARDIS crew is attacked by birds and we are told they are attacking from above but there is no indication of this in the sound, just loud squawking with the bare minimum of shift in the stereo field. Again, maybe it’s a feel they are going for: to make this feel televisual in its static soundscape and writing, but it’s a huge miss for me.

From start to finish I found myself clockwatching, wishing the next scene would hurry up and get here. It’s not a nice experience to be listening to a play because you have to, knowing full well that if you did not you’d have given up a long while ago and instead listened to something actually enjoyable instead.

It is tired, boring, overlong (bar the opener, every episode clocks in at over half an hour in length) and obvious, with lacklustre sound design and flat performances from many of the guest cast. I could not in any good conscience recommend this play to anyone. I am sure Cry of the Vultriss will have its fans but for me personally, listening to it made for one of the least enjoyable experiences I have had with Big Finish for quite a while.


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

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


30 April 2020

Doctor Who Magazine have sent DWO the cover and details for Issue 551 of DWM.

FORMER DOCTOR WHO SHOWRUNNERS RUSSELL T DAVIES AND STEVEN MOFFAT INTERVIEW EACH OTHER!

The latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine also includes:

•  Extended Production Notes from current showrunner Chris Chibnall.
•  Composer Segun Akinola reveals his inspirations for the Series 12 soundtrack.
•  In the first virtual Out of the TARDIS, Neil Gaiman answers questions from the TARDIS tin.
•  The Fact of Fiction explores the 1984 classic The Caves of Androzani.
•  A tribute to the late David Collings (Revenge of the Cybermen, The Robots of Death, Mawdryn Undead), including extracts from a previously unpublished interview.
•  How Doctor Who fans around the world are staying connected during the lockdown.
•  A lockdown viewing guide to Doctor Who stories that are available on DVD and streaming services.
•  A look at Birth of a Renegade, a short Doctor Who story from the Radio Times 20th Anniversary Special.
•  A review of the Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 14 Blu-ray box set.
•  Time and Space Visualiser presents a lockdown special, with contributions from former Doctors and companions.
•  Public Image presents a full round-up of how Series 12 performed in the ratings.
•  Part Three of The Piggybackers, a new comic-strip adventure featuring the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends.
•  Big Finish previews and reviews, news, prize-winning competitions, The Blogs of Doom and much more!

+  Doctor Who Magazine Issue #551 is Out Now, priced £5.99.
+  SUBSCRIBE to Doctor Who Magazine, digitally from just £2.69 a month!
+  Check Out The DWO Guide to Doctor Who Magazine!

[Source: Doctor Who Magazine]

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