The Eleven Faces of Doctor Who

The Five Faces of Doctor Who was a series of repeats organised by John Nathan-Turner, broadcast in November 1981. He chose five of the adventures from the first four Doctors. The stories he chose were:

An Unearthly Child (William Hartnell’s first story from 1963)
The Krotons (Patrick Troughton, 1968)
Carnival of Monsters (Jon Pertwee, 1973)
The Three Doctors (Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell, 1972)
Logopolis (Tom Baker’s final story – included because as of that time it was the only one to feature a glimpse of the new Doctor Peter Davison, 1981)

Since we are celebrating the grand 50th anniversary of Doctor Who this year my friend Philip and I decided to while away a long car journey last week by debating our Eleven Faces of Doctor Who in the hope that Steven Moffat decides to resurrect this innovative way to run repeats. These are my choices and alongside my own personal choice, I’ve also documented what I think the BBC will probably run with.

FIRST DOCTOR (William Hartnell) The BBC would have to run with An Unearthly Child because it’s where it all started. Personally I’d love to see The Time Meddler, it’s a very alien tale and great fun.

SECOND DOCTOR (Patrick Troughton) It will be hard for the BBC to resist The Tomb of the  Cybermen, it is a fantastic tale and Troughton at his best but for me it’s The Seeds of Death. It was the first video I ever purchased and a great opportunity to show the Ice Warriors.

THIRD DOCTOR (Jon Pertwee) In this anniversary year the BBC will incorrectly choose The Three Doctors as it was broadcast for the 10th anniversary in 1973 but viewers would appreciate The Daemons more which contains all of the successful hallmarks of the Pertwee era and Roger Delgado’s Master at his macabre best.

FOURTH DOCTOR (Tom Baker) In my opinion Genesis of the Daleks is a mediocre story with a stand-out scene but this won’t stop the BBC from showing it. Why not show City of Death instead? It contains a wonderful Baker performance and was scripted by a team that included Douglas Adams.

FIFTH DOCTOR (Peter Davison) If the BBC overdo the celebration theme we’ll get The Five Doctors which served at the 20th anniversary story and not really a Davison story. I’d suggest Earthshock for it’s shock value and glass-jawed Cybermen.

SIXTH DOCTOR (Colin Baker) The link is a little more tenuous but if they show Three and Five Doctors then I defy the BBC not to show The Two Doctors, a triumphant return for Troughton in a story wanting for plot. Showing Vengeance on Varos would show new Doctor Who audiences just how dark the show could be and in Sil a terrifying villain.

SEVENTH DOCTOR (Sylvester McCoy) Silver Nemesis was the 25th anniversary story and continuing the theme the BBC will act as expected; it’s a story that has had a fair amount of criticism but one I am still fond of. However I’d choose Remembrance of the Daleks, a smashing echo from 1963 with a strong cast and plot.

EIGHTH DOCTOR (Paul McGann) TV movie. That is all. But if you allow me to go outside the box then I’d recommend the recent Big Finish release Dark Eyes which takes McGann and gives him new direction and depth.

NINTH DOCTOR (Christopher Eccleston) The BBC will opt for the place it all started again with Rose but we all know it really started again with Dalek which stands alone as one of the best Doctor Who stories of all time.

TENTH DOCTOR (David Tennant) I think we’d all like to see Elisabeth Sladen again in School Reunion which was as emotionally draining as it was wonderful but in storytelling terms it doesn’t hold a torch to Blink. Sadly Blink doesn’t include a whole lot of Doctor which would make it a poor choice for Tennant fans.

ELEVENTH DOCTOR (Matt Smith) The Doctor’s Wife is steeped in Doctor Who history and expounds on the myth of the Doctor’s longest serving companion, it was well received and the BBC wouldn’t go far wrong it picking this one. I love Vincent and the Doctor, simply, it’s perfect Doctor Who.

No doubt you are reading this and vehemently disagreeing with my choices so I’d urge you to leave your own choices in the comments section. I look forward to reading them.


The Distracting Raccoon

Behold the curmudgeon. Sometimes it’s hard to get excited about the latest entertainment development. I’m not a fan of 3D. I get fed up with the endless amount of pointless bilge fed to us by television networks and just because I can have it “on demand” doesn’t make it any better. I long for fewer films to be be released just so I can keep up. I hadn’t heard of 80% of the films reviewed in most magazine. All of my dream projects have been done: Freddy vs Jason, Prometheus and most mainstream superheroes, hell even Doctor Who is back better than ever. Most have been disappointing. But don’t get me started on Guardians of the Galaxy. A super-powered Raccoon! I kid you not, go look it up, no link provided. Have Marvel lost the plot? There are some people out there genuinely excited by this news. Has it come to this? Is this all we have left? A superhero team featuring a Raccoon. If I could think of a more pointless animal I’d make a joke about it, it could take some time.

So I’m free-styling. Don’t judge me, you’re the one that started reading. It’s always difficult to know what you want. I try and mix it up a bit, going over loads of stuff, sometimes focus a little more on something specific and sometimes challenge popular thought. That thought nowadays believes we are on the road to nirvana. That knowledge is power and the immediacy of that knowledge and content will be our salvation.

But what if it isn’t? What if we are all getting far too cocky for our own good?

I’m not generally known as a profit of doom, in fact I’m pretty happy-go-lucky most of the time, but I am convinced there will be an end-of-days. Not fire, brimstone and eternal damnation but simply the end of the oil reserves. The green revolution simply isn’t where it should be and the monopoly of energy companies mean that our sustainable energy investment won’t be enough until it’s too late. The death of the electric car being a prime example, cue trailer for an outstanding documentary. Stick with me.

Trailer for Who Killed The Electric Car?

Conservative estimates think empty-tank-day will be in around 50 years, unless the oil companies are allowed to rape the rest of the planet in order to buy us an extra 10 or 15 years. Not long. Expect much panic-technology and an onus on self sufficiency. By this point wind turbine and solar panels should have evolved that most homes should have access to them. This will ensure that the technology driven home will continue. Computers tablets, games consoles – anything using power wont’ become obsolete. Long distance travel, on the other hand, could become a problem. Will the amount of energy needed to propel us across countries and the world be available from sustainable resources? Let’s look on the bright side and hope it isn’t. Can a return to a feudal system really be that bad? Digitally enhanced manorialism would mean that whilst your methods of communication are left open you would be beholden to your local economy for food, work, health and education, although 3 of these could be supplemented digitally.

What of entertainment? I’m not sure where to start. TV ratings are dropping, the fascination film distributors have with blockbusters continue and content appears to become more and more extreme in order to attract ratings or viewers. As for video-games, I gave up several years ago. Whilst I admire the graphics the whole total immersion is just a bit too much. You’ll find me outside taking in the real world reminiscing about the Sinclair Spectrum, Atari ST and the Playstation One. We are easier to control and much easier to monitor; our digital footprints are so large and detailed it feels like advertisers are selling us stuff before we know we want the next big thing. All things considered, and even with multiplexes, electronic books and multiple channels, we are left with less choice and generally intellectually limited content.

So how does our new society deal with with entertainment? Like any revolution creativity and ideas will lead the way. The rules have been torn down and we can start again with renewed renaissance. Pioneers will tell stories and create art that have never been told or created before in a medium that will surprise us all. The advantage we will have is technology, an enabled society starting again. What we won’t see is Michael Bay blowing up giant robots just for the hell of it. Thank God. Not because he won’t wont have the budget or that it’s one of the most mind-blowing dull ideas ever to be imagined on screen but because his ideas won’t get past his own localised society. Jaws and Star Wars both started on a limited number of localised screens and the films grew by word of mouth into 2 of the best and most popular films ever conceived. Their popularity snowballed and continue to do so. The reason Transformers makes money is because of marketing. If it relied on the word of people coming out of screenings it would tank. Natural selection.

Localised industry along with creative talent would rule. The talentless and the individuals constantly spoon-fed to us as something special would be left at the side of the road. Nicole Scherzinger I’m looking at you. Without wanting to sound too Star Trek TNG everyone in society would have a part to play and to truly succeed you have to be good at what you do. Just look back at writers past generations have produced: Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Asimov, Kafka, Milton, Dante, Homer and Austin. The current best seller, an erotic novel, Shades of Grey is generally considered to be one of the worst written books in decades but it sells…no quality control, we follow like sheep to Amazon and swallow the happy pill. The only way to save ourselves is to de-construct this mess we have created.

Even as I write I’m wondering if I’m simply rallying against something because it’s popular, in turn trying to make myself popular with my unpopular views. It’s easy to do. The backlash against reality TV belies the fact that ratings are generally very good and I suspect some of the most vociferous voices are closet viewers. I don’t see the point in TOWIE or Jersey Shores but people enjoy it and who am I to argue or tell them they are wrong. What I object to is the lack of choice I get for. Perhaps there just aren’t enough of me out there to warrant pseudo-intellectual science-fiction? Firefly and Battlestar Galactica would suggest otherwise but these are the exception to the rules.

Then you have the hatred. Much more than hate and far more damaging. Generally purveyed by so-called trolls who appear to have a licence to say what they want from behind the safety of their keyboard, generally unpleasant creatures who clearly have social problems. They are given anonymity and for much of the time ignored or allowed to get away with their behaviour. But simply suggest that the internet is regulated and users are asked to use licences and the full force of public opinion comes down on you like you are the one who has committed a crime. A licensed internet will go some way to stop trolls, pirating, paedophiles, illegal activity and bullying. What’s not to love? An intrusion on human rights? What, to commit crime? What a strange argument.

So we create our new society like a new Eden, where love and respect rule. Where we are all entertained as one and appreciate how lucky we actually are. History has taught us that this will last for all of 5 minutes before the wheels of evolution start to turn. Tastes and personalities divide and choice become king. My pseudo-intellectual haven will soon become mainstream bullshit and some cocky writer will pull the entire process apart citing end-of-days. A bleak dystopian outlook if ever you saw one, and it all started with a Raccoon.

Rocket Raccoon

Cover for the Rocket Raccoon comic.

Writing for Starburst Magazine

To date I’ve written 6 editions of my Digital Jazz column for Starburst Magazine, I’m hoping to collate them all into an ebook next year. It’s been a great opportunity and I enjoy crafting the words every month, I know it has helped me improve as a writer. The editorial team running the digital relaunch of Starburst have really got the formula right and in the New Year I think we’ll all see some really exciting developments. In the meantime please take a look, the focus is horror, science fiction and fantasy genres and it’s all tied together with a digital theme, so Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, eBooks, you get the idea. Enjoy.

Starbursting Social Media (May 11)Click here
The first one. Just starting to cover the basics: Gollancz, Game of Thrones, Attack The Block, Wonder Woman, Ain’t It Cool and Blockbuster movies. Finding my feet a little on this one.

Digital Who (June 11)Click here
Covering Doctor Who and how it has embraced the digital revolution: Doctor Who Magazine, forums, books, authors, podcasts and conventions. A plethora of Twitter users to follow.

Voices (July 11)Click here
Focus mainly on the spoiler debate and open criticism online. Covering Guido Fawkes, Perez Hilton, The Drudge Report, tmz, Gawker, Holy Moly, Mashable, Roger Ebert, Mark Kermode and many other film critics. Finishing by looking at how responsible a critical reception is for the failure or success of a film using Disney Pixar Cars 2 and Kevin Smith as examples.

Reverse The Polarity of the eBook Flow (August 11)Click here
The main focus this month was eBooks and death of printed matter. Covering Amazon Kindle, authors Adam Christopher, Peter James and Jamie Livingston, Angry Robot and Asimov’s Science Fiction. Also detailing the Science Fiction Archive, Doctor Who reconstructions and Doctor Stew!

Digital Fiction and Leicester Zombies (September 11)Click here
Detailing the art of storytelling and the boom in emagazine fiction in genre publishing. Reviewing some of the best emagazine on the market including: Zombie Times, Clarkesworld Magazine, Spinetinglers, Lightspeed, Fantasy Magazine and Apex Magazine.

The Hitchhiker’s App To Starburst (October 11)Click here
This month was a bit of a mixed bag, grabbing news and opinion on Google+, SF Encyclopedia, The new Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, funny Twitter accounts and a breakdown of digital comics.

New content is added to the Starburst website on the 14th of every month. Please drop by and feel free to comment here or there.