Doctor Who? The Wilderness Years Part One

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After the cancellation of Doctor Who after 26 series there was a massive outcry from fans of the show for a continuation of the show. And they got several, but not in the way that they wanted.

Direct To Video

What you actually got were a few different continuations the canonical nature of which are all pretty much up for debate, there were some direct to video productions from companies such as BBV and Reeltime. However because of the unlicensed nature of these programmes they could not feature any overt reference to the Doctor, Time Lords or the Tardis. Between BBV and Reeltime you got productions such as Shakedown, Downtime, Wartime, Daemos Rising, Zygon’s, Auton’s and P.R.O.B.E. These all took old companions and friends of the Doctor, or old adversaries and allowed them to have adventures on earth or in space, without the aid of the Doctor,  a trend that would continue when the series was revived with spin offs such as Torchwood, Class, K-9 and the Sarah Jane Adventures.

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Downtime DVD Cover

The quality of some of these direct to video stories were fantastic, others were not so good, and many I think were hampered by an abundance of ambition, but were lacking the resources to accomplish what they set out to do.

Stand Out Stories

  1. Wartime: Wartime was the first attempt at a Whoniverse spin off released by reeltime, and while it was a low budget picture, the premise of which was a little shaky, but still it manages to show that it can be done. Jon Levene as John Benton manages to convince audiences of fear that comes when confronted over the guilt of ones own past.

Dishonourable Mention

  1. Downtime: It should have been good, Sarah Jane Smith fighting alongside the Brigadier, bringing his career full circle fighting the Yeti and The Great Intelligence (the Brigadier’s first appearance was fighting the Yeti in the London underground), but it wasn’t good, no such luck, the dialogue was stilted and the Yeti costumes had not aged well.

Novels

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The Virgin New Adventures

Whilst BBV and Reeltime were kicking about the companions and classic monsters of the Whoniverse, both the Doctors past and then current incarnations adventures were being looked at in depth courtesy of Virgin Books, the publishing division of Richard Branson’s Virgin Empire. Under Virgin there were three series of books published focusing on the adventures of the Doctor (as well as numerous fact books as well) These were Decalog a series of books 5 books collecting short stories from various points in the Doctor’s lives. The Missing Adventures, a series of 34 books, featured Doctors 1-6 and their companions at various points throughout their history set between serials of the original run of the show.

And then there were The New Adventures, a series of 61 books all but one of which were set between the last serial Survival and The Television Movie and feature the Seventh Doctor as portrayed by Sylvester McCoy (the last book of the series was set after the TV movie and features the Eighth Doctor as portrayed by Paul McGann). The series itself moved forward the characters of Ace and The Doctor, and explored a vast swathe of the shows fictional history, and in many ways served to tie up loose ends and plot threads that had been left by the show, and reintroduced characters such as the War Chief, The Great Vampire and the Monk. As well as seeing the return of characters Leela and Romana, The Brigadier and saw the death of companion Liz Shaw. The New Adventures also saw the introduction of long serving companion Bernice Summerfield, who would later enjoy her own series of novels and audio drama’s that are still in production to this day. The stories see the relation ship between Ace and The Doctor grow increasingly more fraught, before she leaves for a time, before returning several years (from her point of view) later.  The stories took on a darker tone that mimicked the latter parts of the series, with the Doctor fighting Lovecraftian beings and the stories took on a more adult theme, with cursing and sexual content becoming more commonplace, and whilst older villains and alien races were featured regularly the stories didn’t rely on them, with the Dalek’s only being seen in a cameo 40 or so books in and the Cybermen appearing only once.  It made use of the lesser villains within the narrative framework, and worked as a nice way to round off the series and answer a good deal of unanswered questions that had plagued the series since its beginning.

Stand Out Stories 

  1. Cats Cradle, Times Crucible: This Novel features possibly the most in depth look into time lord history , it shows the birth of time travel and shows the formation of the sisterhood of Karn (from the serial The Brain Of Morbius) and shows how the Doctor’s people went from being plain old Gallifreyans to becoming Time Lords.
  2. Love and War: This book saw ace leave the Doctor and the introduction of the character Bernice Summerfield, and it truly shows this incarnation of the Doctor at his most manipulative and at his lowest point ever.
  3.  No Future: This novel is set in London during the Age of Punk and brings back the Brigadier and U.N.I.T, but also the return of the Doctor’s foes the Monk and The Vardan’s who have teamed up to exact revenge on the Doctor, it is also the culmination of events that have proceeded this novel and it is where the Doctor finally begins to make amends with ace for all the pain she has suffered because of simply knowing the doctor.
  4. Head Games: This sees the return of companion Mel , who after being abandoned by Sabalom Glitz , helps the Doctor defeat the Master of The Land Of Fiction, but disgusted at how the doctor has changed in this new incarnation she leaves him again.
  5. First Frontier: The Master finally gets a new body,  and a new cycle of regeneration’s courtesy of the Tzun Confederation, setting the stage for the beginning of the TV movie, this piece is a bit of cold war, space age, spy action.
  6. Lungbarrow: We finally find out who the Doctor is, or do we? Set of Gallifrey, in the house of Lungbarrow, the Doctors ancestral home, caught up in the conspiracy of a centuries old murder, and secrets that date back from the beginnings of Time Lord history, who is the this man called the Doctor? A healer? A traveller, A Time Lord, or something other?

Dishonourable Mention

  1. Sky Pirates:  Trying to write like Terry Pratchett is not a bad thing, I myself am certainly influenced by the mans writing style, but it doesn’t work with Doctor Who. and this story did not work, it was a pretty awful thing that I had a great deal of trouble following.
  2. Falls The Shadow: Its torture porn. There are needless deaths, and I understand that the antagonists are meant to be psychopaths, but it really does seem that a lot of pointless torture takes place just for the hell of it, and I really feel that it was needless as it adds nothing to the overall story,  other than to bump up the word count.
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