“The Infinity Doctors” a Doctor Who Novel Review

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the novel. It’s been out since the 90s, but I thought I should give you a heads up anyway. 

Pros:

Gallifrey. Firstly, I would like to say I love how in-depth the writer is when describing Gallifrey in this novel. You would think that it would bog down the plot, but if anything it enriches the reading experience. Precious little is revealed about Gallifrey in the show so being introduced to the culture in all its complexities was a thrill for me. In fact, I would go so far as to say that is the best thing about this book.

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The Sontarans and Rutans. I was surprised by how invested I was in the conflict between these two races. They were just a tiny subplot that was mostly abandoned after the second act, but the resolution to their conflict was hilarious. I honestly laughed out loud. I loved how Sontar and the Rutan leader interacted with each other and the way they finally made peace was the cherry on top.

The plot. The book was pretty heavy on techno babble and, admittedly I got a bit bored with all the sciency speak. However, the plot itself was pretty solid and it introduced a lot of interesting concepts like people who remember the future instead of the past.

The characters. I won’t say that I was heavily invested in these people, but I did find myself a great deal more interested in the original characters than I normally am in DW novels. Most of the time I just want to skip to the parts with The Doctor, but this time I was actually interested in hearing Larna’s perspective and what it was like being a recently initiated Time Lord. They also seemed more organic rather than stock characters as is custom in most of these EDAs. I even found myself liking the Chancellory Guards Peltroc and Raimor even though they didn’t play that big of a roll in the grand scheme of things.

Cons:

Shot through the heart and you’re to blame. I will admit, there was one scene in particular that nearly made me stop reading the book. If you haven’t read the book, I would suggest you not continue with this post. Still here? Okay. Larna, a bright Time Lady and The Doctor’s favorite student, tries to stop The Doctor from entering the Station and The Doctor decides to retaliate by stabbing her in the heart.

No. Literally. He stabs her in the heart

He knows she’ll be able to have a surgery that will reverse any negative side effects that such an injury would create, but um…he stabbed her!!!!

This girl trusted him with her life. They were very close friends. And he stabbed her.

And then what happens? She moves the blade so it severs her spinal cord.

And she dies.

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I mean, sure, he asks Omega to bring her back to life later, but that’s beside the point. He stabbed an innocent person who got in his way. This leads me to another con.

No long-term effects. So my second biggest problem with this book is a bit ironic, especially if you’ve read the conclusion to this little piece. One of the largest issues with The Infinity Doctors is there are hardly any consequences.

What’s funny is the book openly admits that this is what happened:

“Nothing had changed, because nothing ever changed on Gallifrey except over geological timescales. Nothing was better, nothing was worse”  (pg 279-280)

There are no consequences for The Doctor having tried to play God and there are no consequences from him having murdered Larna. Yeah, the Doctor Who Wiki classifies it as suicide, but for all intents and purposes The Doctor killed her. There’s no confrontation, their relationship doesn’t suffer, she doesn’t remember it…it’s basically brushed under the rug.

Um…excuse me but…THIS IS A BIG DEAL!

He murdered one of his friends. And not because of some Save-The-Universe issue. He did it because he wanted to get with his dead wife whom he ditches after, like, two chapters.

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But no, no. Lance Parkin says it’s cool, guys. It’s cool. Just have a jelly baby and push the undo button.

The Doctor, himself, said that a universe without consequences is devoid of meaning and yet all of his actions go unchallenged. Maybe it’s addressed in the next book? I don’t know. All I know is that at the end of this one, Larna and The Doctor are totally cool with each other and The Doctor going all stabby-stab on her is never addressed again.

He doesn’t have an Oh-God-What-Have-I-Done moment, nor does he reflect on what such an action says about him as a person. It’s just kind of…forgotten.

Conclusion:

I did enjoy this novel even though the zero consequences thing kind of irks me. It did quite a bit considering how short of a book it was. However, I felt that everything moved along at a decent pace, not too long but not too short. I loved how fleshed out Gallifrey is in this novel considering how criminally underdeveloped Gallifrey is as a society in the TV show. I also found myself enjoying the side characters as well. I haven’t forgotten you Magistrate…even though everyone else seems to have done so.

Overall, I would give this book a B+ or an A-.

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Doctor Who Christmas Special: I’m Cautiously Optimistic

After the dreaded Hell Bent, I considered myself done with Doctor Who.

I still watch reruns, read books featuring past Doctors, and listen to Big Finish audiodramas. But that thirst to see more? That urgency to find out what is in store for one of the best characters in science fiction? That is gone.

Hell Bent was an amalgamation of everything wrong with Doctor Who, even more so than The Time of the Doctor, which I maintain is the worst of the worst when it comes to spitting in the face of continuity.

The trailer released five months ago that featured the new companion, asBill, did nothing to inspire confidence in the show’s future either. As usual, it promised only more of the same: a London girl from present-day Earth who makes snippy remarks about everything.

Yawn.

More Daleks who potter around and do nothing of actual consequence!

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Yawn.

Even the creative team didn’t seem to care seeing as they couldn’t be bothered to proofread the graphics before they went on-air.

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asBill.”

Like…what do you say to that?

I have had zero incentive to stick around and it seems as if a good chunk of the fanbase is singing the same tune.

But when I heard that the Doctor Who Christmas Special would be featuring a superhero I did a double take.

On its face this seems like a stupid idea. A stupid idea that sounds like fanfiction made flesh (not that all fanfiction is bad).

However, maybe this is what Doctor Who needs.

Right now, more than any other time in Doctor Who‘s history, we need something different.

We need experimental. We need to break the mold Doctor Who has created for itself.

For too long we’ve just had more of the same. Same base-under-siege stories, same character archetypes, same types of monsters (seriously, if I see the Weeping Angels one more time I will snap my own neck), same two-dimensional side characters that only exist so they can be killed off by the monster, same lessons that the Doctor keeps forgetting, same jokes, same heavy-handed morals.

For years, DW has just been marinating in a broth of sameness.

Yes, this story could completely fall on its face. Yes, it could just be a dumb gimmick to encourage wayward fans to tune in.

But it’s doing one thing that Doctor Who hasn’t done in quite a while: it’s taking a risk.

That’s what good writing is supposed to do. You’re supposed to keep pushing the envelope. As of late, DW has become too comfortable with its formulaic style. Maybe this is a sign that things will improve?

I could be reading too much into this. I do that often when it comes to Doctor Who. Maybe this time will be different. Maybe this time Steven Moffat won’t give my brain the finger.

But at least this is something new.

And if there’s a chance, however slight, that the show could return to its former glory I’m going to give it a go.

So The Doctor fighting alongside a superhero?

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Maybe we could also develop Peter Capaldi’s Doctor beyond grumpy-old man while we’re at it? Please?

Opinion: Comedies Are Terrible Now

A friend of mine recently introduced me to British comedy, Black Books, which stars Irish comedian Dylan Moran. It’s a show about a combative and anti-social bookstore owner in England and the strange adventures he gets into with his posse of misfits.

As a fan of English comedy, I fell head over heels in love with Black Books. How could I not? After all, it had the key ingredient that makes every comedy worthwhile: ridiculousness.

In one of my favorite episodes, “Travel Writer,” Bernard discovers his landlord has died and bequeathed her ownership of the building to her cat (Mr. Benson). Bernard then hires an exterminator to turn hitman so he can put an end to the kitty’s rein of tyranny.

I wish more comedies could be like this. Don’t get me wrong, comedy is stupid nowadays, but it’s not that special kind of stupid.

I miss the shows like Monty Python and Seinfeld. They embraced absurdity in their great hairy arms and didn’t give a crap what the critics thought.

Now it seems like comedy resides in one of three camps:

In one camp, you have the Dude-Bro-Comedy wherein the only jokes that are told apply to the lowest common denominator. These comedies include jokes about boobs, sex, weed or other drugs, and gratuitous amounts of body humor.

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A.KA. every Seth Rogen film ever

In another camp, you have the Safe-Comedy wherein you simply tell jokes and plots that have been done so many times before it’s like trying to wear a pair of 30 year-old underpants and pass them off as new.

Finally, you have Societal-Outrage-Comedy, where every joke you tell has to be a way to stick it to The Man (a.k.a old, white, conservative men) or some other sort of issue that people believe needs addressing. The problem with these sorts of comedies is the shelf-life on them is awful. In a mere three years, most of them will be become dated and forgotten.

What happened to comedy for comedy’s sake?

You know, you can be funny without being wildly offensive or resorting to 5th grade humor. It is possible. We have the technology.

You can laugh at something that has nothing to do with politics or the current state of society. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be relatable. It could be wildly ridiculous like a man paying to have an argument with someone:

While many of the jokes used in these shows and movies are ridiculous, they’re also extremely clever in their own right. Unlike some comedies which think their audience is largely comprised of lobotomized baby seals.

Am I an outlier here? Am I the only one that thinks the viewing public deserves something better? Should I just shut up and drink my diet soda?

All I can say is if Netflix removes this British gem, I may  lose my mind. Dammit, Netflix, You can take Airplane! by don’t you dare touch my Black Books.

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Nostalgia Goggles: Torchwood

Have you ever looked back on a series you used to love and finally see all the problems it had? Well, recently this happened to me with a little BBC program called Torchwood.

When I was in my teens, this show was my jam. It was dark, gritty, and way more mature than Doctor Who. Or…so I thought.

Here are some of the things I discovered upon revisiting this show from my teenage years:

Everyone is incompetent. You would think earth’s last line of defense from alien menaces would be…I don’t know…not completely useless. Nonetheless, the Torchwood gang feel that the best strategy is no strategy whatsoever. There is no protocol, no planned course of action. They simply rush into the situation half-cocked and lose their every-loving minds when something goes wrong.

Seriously, freaking Paw Patrol is better organized than Torchwood.

Also….

 

That’s not how you shoot a gun…that’s not even close to how you shoot a gun. I get that the UK is more ignorant when it comes to firearms because they aren’t used as often, but would it have killed the BBC to google?

An adult wrote this? I don’t mean to offend teenagers with this, but it’s an inevitability. The truth is, nobody in Torchwood acts like an adult. They act how teenagers think adults act. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this series was ghost written by a moody adolescent.

It would explain everything: why the characters have sex all the time, why everyone is a complete jerk for no reason, why there’s such a grim outlook on life, why nobody ever plans out anything in advance and completely falls apart when the slightest thing goes wrong.

Wow. It all makes sense now. Maybe Torchwood was originally meant to star teenagers and the casting director didn’t get the memo.

That probably would have made this show infinitely better. If for no other reason than to justify the agents’ juvenile behavior.

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All of the angst.

Overuse of nihilismOkay, I like a heathy dose of grim and angst. However, Torchwood takes it…well…not a step too far, more like a 4K and a walk home too far.

In every episode we must be reminded there is no God, or afterlife, and everything is pointless. Well, actually, the narrative is a bit inconsistent on this point. See They Keep Killing Suzie.

There is virtually no break from the overblown angst. It’s constant pain and suffering to the point of being a self-parody.

I remember one episode where Gwen tried to reunite a mother with a son she lost and she actually wound up making things worse by doing so. The mother actually told her she would rather believe her son is dead than have him as the broken shell she was presented with.

Well…damn.

What’s the message of this episode? Don’t bother? If so that leads me to my next point:

What is the incentive to work for Torchwood?  I’ve rattled my brain for an explanation, but nothing comes to mind.

Why would you constantly dangle yourself in harm’s way if everything is pointless? Especially when there’s a drug you could take that would make you forget all the horrible things that have happened to you while on the job, no strings attached.

It’s like when Gwen started sleeping with Owen because what she saw at work was just too horrible to comprehend and she couldn’t tell Rhys. The whole time I just thought, Woman…just quit! They aren’t holding you hostage. You can leave anytime you want to. Why are you still there?!

Suzie blathered on about how much she loved this job, yet we haven’t seen a convincing reason why.

It would make sense if most of them felt a strong duty towards the rest of the humanity, but for the most part, they’re narcissistic jerkwads that don’t seem to care about anyone else. Only Gwen gives a crap about people, and even she is a terrible person for running around on her fiancé.

Thanks for the memories, Torchwood, but I don’t think I’ll be buying any of your Bluerays anytime soon.

Matchmaking Literary Characters

WARNING: Contains spoilers and crack ships.

If you are a fan of any type of fiction, you may have engaged in what is known as “shipping.”

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I’ve been exposed to many ships and it’s made me experimental when it comes to the exploring the dynamics of compatibility.

For fun, I decided to pair up characters from a variety of different books and see who made the most interesting couple. These are what crack ships are made of, but if you keep an open mind, perhaps you’ll see where I’m coming from

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1. Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow 

Tragically, they never met. But I have a feeling if they did, there would be a spark. We know  Jon Snow digs powerful women and Daenerys is a kickass queen with dragons, an army, and a no-nonsense attitude.

Jon may be less brash than Drogo, but he is more than capable of holding his own in battle. He’s also, like Dany, an excellent leader who isn’t afraid to stand by his convictions, even though they could get him killed.

In fact, these two have quite a bit in common. Both have a strong moral center that makes them seem like pushovers to those that don’t know them better. Both struggle with forming their own identity outside of what their parents did/who they are. And both make dire mistakes on their way to meeting their goal.

I think if he got to know Daenerys, Jon would consider her the best person to rule the Seven Kingdoms and Daenerys would enjoy having him fight for her side (if she’d be able to convince him to give up being a Man of the Night’s Watch, which is debatable).

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2. Rhett Butler and Elizabeth Bennet 

Personally, I think Rhett would find Elizabeth handsome enough to tempt him.

At their core, both are nonconformists who refuse to conduct themselves in a way that society dictates. Both are intelligent, enjoy dancing, and have a mischievous nature about them.

Rhett is slightly more worldly than Lizzie, but she is his equal in about every other respect. Like Scarlet O’Hara, Rhett’s estranged wife, Lizzie is exceptionally strong-willed (occasionally at her own expense). Moreover, she could win a battle of wits with anyone she chooses and is not willing to demur to anyone. I’m willing to bet Rhett would enjoy the challenge of crossing mental swords with her.

Lizzie would be interested to hear all about Rhett’s checkered past. While she might be unnerved by some details, I believe that she would be a sympathetic ear.

Put together they would likely mortify everyone in their respective time periods with their sassiness.

Mrs. Bennet’s poor nerves.

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3. Sherlock Holmes and Amy Dunne

One is a highly functioning sociopath while the other is just plain psycho.

Imagine what Gone Girl would have been like with a Sherlockian twist. While Sherlock would likely outwit Amy in the end, he would be impressed by how methodical and patient she was in executing her revenge plot. Not to mention how easily she was able to play with society’s expectations and use media bias to work in her favor.

I think Amy would take immense pleasure in appealing to Sherlock’s darker nature and laughing with him about how moronic the rest of society is.

I can’t stop wishing I could see these two geniuses go toe-to-toe with one another, one constantly trying to outsmart the other.

This would potentially be the most toxic relationship in the history of the literary world, but, damn, if it wouldn’t be interesting to watch.

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4. Dorian Gray and James Moriarty 

Imagine how much darker The Picture of Dorian Gray could have gotten if  Dorian had befriended Moriarty instead of Lord Henry.

Dorian would respect Moriarty as a worldly and ingenious gentleman, and Moriarty would revel in having a young, naive Dorian to mold into a despicable villain.

While Dorian was out wooing some diplomat (or his wife), Moriarty would be working behind the scenes to tear down the British government’s infrastructure brick by brick. Blackmail, theft, murder, who knows how much havoc they could wreak?

With Dorian’s looks and Moriarty’s brains, they could have London on its knees in a matter of months.

Can you think of any book characters that would make a good couple? Let me know! 

(War) Doctor Who: Why Couldn’t McGann Be The War Doctor?

Author’s Note: I realize that this post is coming about three years too late, however, the reason I’m speaking about it now is because Big Finish’s release of the War Doctor’s adventures and plans to expand more on the Time War in the upcoming year. 

Ever since I watched a review of Doctor Who: The TV Movie, I was curious about Paul McGann’s Doctor. While the movie in itself was pretty terrible, featuring a hammy Master, a plot so full of holes Swish cheese would be envious, and, of course, the dreaded “I’m half human on my mother’s side” line, I had nothing negative to say about Paul McGann’s Doctor. In fact, he made the whole fiasco worth watching with his passion, charming naivety, and love of adventure.

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As such, I was thrilled when I learned that there was an audio company that had actually taken McGann’s Doctor and given him several seasons worth of adventures with a diverse cast of companions and stories that rivaled the TV series in quality. I immediately dove in and was not disappointed.

In December of 2015, Big Finish released the audio drama Only The Monstrous, the first installment in their War Doctor series and have announced they plan to increase the mythos around this incarnation of the Doctor created by show-runner Steven Moffat in the 50th Anniversary Special: The Day of The Doctor. An episode I love and hate in equal measure.

I’m excited that they will also be looking at the Time War through the 8th Doctor’s perspective before he became John Hurt. Nonetheless, I’m a bit disheartened that they are going further into the (Hurt) War Doctor’s story for the reasons I will soon divulge.

First off, I would just like to say I love John Hurt and think he’s a brilliant actor (I mean, he was knighted for crying out loud).

Second, I loved the War Doctor’s banter with his future incarnations and how he would routinely take the piss out of them for having younger faces and using their sonics too frequently.

And third, I love all the bad puns that spawned from his involvement in this episode.

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In short, I have nothing against John Hurt, nor do I think he played a “bad character” in this episode.

However, the 50th Anniversary had me asking the same question throughout the duration of the episode: Why did this character need to exist?

I would understand if Paul McGann wasn’t on board with taking part in the 50th, but based on the articles I’ve read and how involved he’s been both with the Whovian community and Doctor Who universe through Big Finish Audio over the years, neither availability nor lack of enthusiasm seemed to be an issue with him. So why couldn’t they just use McGann’s Doctor as the War Doctor?

While I have not been able to locate the source (so don’t quote me on this),  I heard through the grapevine Steven Moffat considered McGann’s Doctor incapable of committing genocide because he was “too nice” and that it made more sense to create the type of Doctor (or Warrior) that could carry out such a deed.

Well, that would make sense…were it not for the fact that the War Doctor didn’t seem any more happy about the prospect of wiping out the Time Lords or Daleks than any of the other Doctors would have been. Perhaps Big Finish will do a better job of fleshing out this character and giving him more of a warrior’s edge. Nonetheless, what the 50th showed us was a man that didn’t look angry or vengeful. He was just sick of all the wanton destruction. 

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Perhaps we’re meant to believe that the War Doctor was much more destructive and blood-thirsty in his youth and that, as this incarnation has gotten older, he’s grown tired of it (although nothing in Hurt’s performance seemed to indicate he was any more or less capable of killing than any other Doctor that had come before him).

If it is true that Moffat said McGann’s Doctor was an unrealistic War Doctor, it would seem he hasn’t invested too much time listening to the audio dramas. While he did reference many of the 8th Doctor’s companions in Night of The Doctor as well as the Sisters of Karn, he didn’t seem to understand the full potential of the 8th Doctor’s character. While 8 was romantic, polite, and adverse to violence, the 8th Doctor was just as capable of being cold and even cruel as any other Doctor as evidenced by Big Finish’s Scherzo, one of my favorite (and arguably one of the weirdest) 8th Doctor audio dramas.

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Obviously McGann’s Doctor wouldn’t become a warrior overnight, but after hundreds of years worth of watching planets blow up and thousands of species die out, it’s not difficult to see how his character could take a dark turn. And, as I said, 8 had the capacity for cruelty before the Time War started, and even had a well-known grudge against the Time Lords for the many times they had screwed him over in the past.

I, personally, believe it would have been more impactful to have McGann play the War Doctor and show how much that particular incarnation changed throughout his life-span, having gone from being a wide-eyed romantic with a habit of snogging his companions to the bitter and dreaded Dalek-killing Oncoming Storm. Normally Doctor monologues get on my nerves since they’ve become so frequent in recent years, but I would have given my left shoe to listen to the 8th Doctor speak of the horrors revolving around the Time War and his involvement. Someone needs to write that fanfiction right now. 

 Moffat made the argument that Doctor Who is “all about moving forward” and for the most part he is right. In order for a show to stay relevant it has to adjust to contemporary audiences. But this wasn’t just a normal episode. It was suppose to be an homage to 50 years worth of imaginative story-telling. I feel like the inclusion of 8 would have satisfied both of those needs seeing as McGann’s Doctor nicely embodies both Old and New Who as his adventures tend to incorporate elements from both eras in the show’s history. It’s bizarre and creative like Old Who while also being charming and heart-felt like New Who.

My final point is, even though many Nuvians haven’t listened to the audio dramas as I have, they would still have the opportunity to learn more about him through the material that already exists. The 8th Doctor has character development, unlike the War Doctor who has had very little due to the fact that he has only been featured in a single episode and is unlikely to show up in many others on screen. To me it seems superfluous to create a whole new character when you already have a perfectly viable one lined up and ready to go, especially one that exists as part of the original cannon.

I suppose I should be grateful that 8 was given, at the very least, a six minute short, but considering all the effort McGann’s put into the Doctor Who universe this seems like a pretty weak consolation.

If you’ve never listened to the 8th Doctor’s audio drama adventures, you need to give them a listen. Some of them are hit and miss, but when Big Finish gets it right, they really get it right.