Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Doctor Who 45th Anniversary – Why Was 2003 Brilliant?

Alternative Doctors appear in novella The Cabinet of Light and Big Finish’s Unbound: Michael Jayston; David Warner’s Sympathy For the Devil (with Nick Courtney and David Tennant); Derek Jacobi first someone who’s seemingly the Doctor but isn’t, then the Master in an animated adventure. There’s Peter’s Creatures of Beauty, Colin and Sylv’s Project: Lazarus, villains like Davros, and fantastic DVD extras. The year ends with the brilliant news that Russell T Davies will bring Doctor Who back to telly. It starts with a Dalek…

“History isn’t the past, Evelyn. It’s a version of the past we choose to remember.”
Rob Shearman’s and Big Finish’s best* The best of Rob Shearman and Big Finish. Great speeches for Colin, extraordinary dialogues, bitterly black comedy, Martin Jarvis, evocative sound design, a striking cover and disturbing questions… Who is the prisoner, who the monsters, what happens without orders, and what if the Daleks won?
“More action! More excitement! More Daleks getting killed in very loud explosions! And introducing Plenty O’Toole as Evelyn ‘Hot Lips’ Smythe…!

Daleks – The Ultimate Adventure. Coming to a cinema near you, soon. Your supervisor will inform you of the cinema to which you have been assigned. Attendance is compulsory by order of the Historical Instruction Act. All praise the glorious English Empire.”

As with all the Big Finish dramas, this is available on CD and download. There are several related pieces, too, from a Big Finish ‘magazine’ CD including such deleted scenes as an English Empire Blue Peter and adverts reinforcing the message about merchandising and trivialising evil to, rather more famously, two later TV stories borrowing significant elements from the plot. The best of these is Rob’s own Dalek from 2005, with a very similar central core of a single Dalek alone set in a much less funny (though no less grim) story. Which seems an opportune moment to mention that, ironically, Jubilee was first devised for broadcast on the BBC website, but back then Rob decided that he couldn’t squeeze it down to under an hour.
“You told me it would be a bloodless revolution!”
“It will be. Dalek guns do not puncture the skin.”
“There will be a lot of dead bodies, though.”

*Richard tells me this is such an obscure Doctor Who in-joke that, unlike the other ones here, it really needs a footnote. In an English Empire that takes its concept of strength from the Daleks, contractions are outlawed. They don’t go the whole hog and speak through ring modulators at state occasions, though. Millennium, on the other fluffy foot, has his own reasons for the brilliance of 2003, and who am I to disagree?

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