Doctor Who? The Wilderness Years Part Two

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After the commercial failure of the Doctor Who Movie, fans of the show were once again cast out into the wilderness. And the really hardcore fans had to find their own way to once again fill the gap that the show had left, and ease the disappointment that came from being teased with the slightest hope of a rebirth before it was snatched away from them once again. The best examples of these attempts to fill the gap came from BBC books and from Big Finish Productions.

BBC Books

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After the 1996 Movie came out the BBC decided that it would not continue its license with Virgin publishing and so in 1997 began publishing two lines of books that followed similar formats to the Virgin Missing and New Adventures. They were entitled The Past Doctor Adventures which each month focused on an adventure had by doctors 1-7 set mainly between serials of the original run of the program. The Second Range was entitled the Eighth Doctor Adventures which focused, as the name would suggest, on the ongoing adventures of the Eighth Doctor as portrayed by Paul McGann set immediately after the events of the TV movie and before the events depicted in the revived series of 2005.

both ranges ran for 8 years and produced more that 70 books and added a wealth of material that expanded the entire whoniverse and dealt with the various characters that the Doctor has been throughout his lives as well as greatly expanding the relationships with his friends and enemies, and while the past enemies such as the Master and the Cybermen featured, the Two series weren’t dependant on dredging up past monsters and villains, The Daleks featured only twice over the course of both series. Introducing a fearsome cabal of villains such as the time travelling voodoo cult Faction Paradox (who survive in prose, comic books and audio drama’s to this day) these series, in the vein of the previous series from Virgin did serve to right many continuity errors from the original run of the show and the movie itself.

Stand Out Stories

  1. The Eight Doctors: This was the first book of the Eighth Doctor Adventures and takes place immediately after the events of the Television Movie, it  sees the Doctor rendered amnesiac by one last trap of the Masters, and then sees the Doctor travelling back along his own timestream to meet his past selves in order to regain his memories, this one book alone irons out many continuity questions from the show, relating to the Valeyard, the Masters own death on Skarro and many other facets of the shows history.
  2. The Infinity Doctors: This book was the 17th release of the Past Doctor Adventures series and is set on the Doctors home world, and it sees an unidentified Doctor (I like to think it was the First Doctor before leaving Gallifrey) caught up in a peace conference between the Rutan Host and the Glorious Sontaran Empire, whose leaders, after millennia, settle their differences by after being locked in a Tardis together.

Dishonourable Mention

  1. Kursaal: You would think a werewolf curse at a theme park would be a good romp, but this story felt like something that even Hammer Horror would have passed up on, the Writing was amateurish and the story felt somewhat feeble.

Big Finish Productions

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Big Finish productions really are the biggest success story of the Doctor Who’s time off the airwaves, by the end of 2017 over 700 doctor who audio drama’s will have been released featuring stories from all 12 of the 13 Doctors. Many were full cast audio drama’s and spanned many series, A monthly range focusing of the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors, as well as other ranges focusing on the further adventures of the Eighth and Fourth Doctors. There were also many series focusing on the villains of the classic series ( I Davros, Dalek Empire and Cybermen)  and many series focusing on the friends and former companions of the Doctor (Gallifrey, Bernice Summerfield, UNIT, Torchwood, Sarah Jane Smith and Jago and Litefoot).

Stand Out Stories

  1. The Trial Of The Valeyard: The Doctor must defend the villainous Valeyard from a crime so heinous that he isn’t even allowed to know what it is. This story begins to look at who and what the Valeyard is in relation to the Doctor and is Just plain fun.
  2. The Sixth Doctor: Last Adventure: Continuing from the Trial of The Valeyard it shows the Valeyard’s plans for the Doctor unfolding across time and then leads to a long awaited scene. Colin Baker finally got his regeneration scene.
  3. Jago and Litefoot and Strax: Jago and Litefoot were the victorian sleuths the Doctor encountered in the Fourth Doctor serial The Talons Of Weng Chiang, they have had many adventures as investigators of the infernal, and in this adventure are joined by Strax, the Sontaran butler to the Paternoster Street team of Madam Vastra and her wife Jenny, this is a mad cap adventure that sees the belligerent butler teaming up with his new found friends to investigate a haunted house.
  4. I Davros: A look at the life of the creator of the Daleks from his childhood on Skaro, to the moment that creating the Daleks seems like a good idea, it explores his life from his school days to his military service to winding up a cripple in the science elite, it answers every question you could ever want to know about the history of the man behind the Daleks.

Dishonourable Mention

  1. Iris Wildthyme: Its very difficult to find a weak link amongst the ranges produced by Big Finish Productions but this was the one series that I couldn’t get on board with, and I think it was more to do with the accent that Doctor Who veteran Katy Manning puts on in order to play the irascible Ms Wildthyme.

Join again soon for more on the wonderful worlds of The BBC’s Doctor Who.

This is part of a series of posts relating to the BBC’s long running show Doctor Who.

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