Doctor Who
Classic Series DVD Review
The Mutants

Starring Jon Pertwee as the Doctor, Katy Manning as Jo Grant
Written by: Bob Baker and Dave Martin
Director: Christopher Barry

I must be crazy. As I settled in to write my review of the Mutants (not to be confused with the original serial about the Daleks also called the Mutants), I wondered what other folks thought of the serial. As I’ve mentioned before, the Third Doctor’s era is definitely not my favorite. While there are some real gems in Pertwee’s time as the Doctor, there are several recurring things that I just don’t care for… And yet, I find myself at odds with the Mutants. While I quite enjoyed it, it seems nobody else does.

There’s a lot going for this serial, despite being a 6 parter (which are always hard to pull off) and it avoids some of the pratfalls that typically annoy me about the era. Sure the music is still pretty intolerable at times, but I found the score much more muted and almost non-existent at times. So let’s break it down, is this serial and the DVD worth checking out?

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Well here’s a leaked Character Option Yeti from the classic Doctor Who episodes, The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear. Does this mean that this figure is on the way? Typically yes, it does. Hopefully it’ll have ball jointed legs like the Axon (review here) awesome figure does. I know I’m not alone in hoping that this comes in a two pack with a new 2nd Doctor Patrick Troughton in his furry coat!

Update: Unfortunately, I have taken down the proto picture of the Yeti. In it’s place is my excellent rendering of the proto. Sadly I was contacted by the fine folks at Designworks (Who do all the Doctor Who sculpting) and they wanted me to take it down. I should add that they were very nice and didn’t threaten me legally or send any ninjas. However I have no desire to get anyone in trouble, so I took it down. Enjoy my artwork instead and know that the folks at DesignWorks in conjunction with Character Options and Underground Toys, have clearly been working on an excellent detailed Yeti figure and hopefully we’ll have official release information and confirmation soon. I am trying to work something out and hopefully will have some good news in the future.

So this one is a little late. I took a four day weekend to Chicago with my fiancé via Amtrak. I’d write a review of the train trip, but I kind of get the feeling Newt would be unhappy with the amount of profanity I would use. Suffice it to say, the trip did give me ample opportunity to come up with my next review, so I will try to look on the bright side.

So here it is, a little bit different from the usual DVD review, but one I think many of the readers on this site might find useful.

Doctor Who Audio Story

Doctor Who: Hornet’s Nest
Starring Tom Baker and Richard Franklin

If you’re an American Doctor Who fan like me, chances are you’re very aware of how little awareness there is about the show here in America. And if you are a classic fan like me you’re also aware that what little merchandise is made available is predominantly related to the new series. Most of us have to settle for the odd DVD release or eBay purchased figure (seriously, I need to know where Newt gets his hookup!) So it’s not really a big surprise if you’ve never heard of the Doctor Who audio plays before.

Here’s the deal. After Doc Who went off the air, fans were desperate to get their Who fix any way they could. Not satisfied with Terrance Dick’s novelizations and bootleg VHS, many of them clamored for brand new Who material until the BBC finally relented by authorizing a series of audio plays featuring classic Doctors doing the voices, along with old companions and new characters as well.

And it took off. Oh boy, did it take off. Now practically every single person even slightly related to Doctor Who has gotten their own audio series. The most prominent Docs are Peter Davidson and Colin Baker, with Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann taking up second. I’ve download a lot of them, and honestly most of them are fairly entertaining, and really a good way to keep amused on long car (or train :/ ) rides.

But while fans loved these plays, and appreciated the involvement of the classic actors, there has always been a desire to get one more Doctor in on the action: Tom Baker.

4th doctor and Who icon, now nearly in his 80’s, and very much opposed to doing anything Doctor Who related since his departure from the show. For years fans have wanted him to do these plays, and for years he resisted, until now!

The result is, well, yeah.

Before I go any further I need to recap what the story is on these plays. An ageing Mike Yates ( ask your parents kids 😉 ) discovers an odd add in the local paper that seems to be addressed to him. Upon answer the add, he discovers 4th doctor Tom Baker has taken up residence in a bizarre cottage called The Nest, which is full of taxidermied animals infested with space hornets that come to life at night as part of a plan to take over the Doctor’s mind and then take over the world! And he has a housekeeper called Mrs. Wibbsey.

Confused? Yep, it gets worse. The Doctor has been traveling backwards in time on short side trips to the past, where he battles the hornets in reverse order, eventually discovering their master plan.

I won’t give away how it ends, but it involves a zebra, a paper brain, and a ballet slipper full of jelly.

So, what’s the deal?

I’ll break this down in three parts

The Bad:
Do you know who Mike Yates is? No? Then you’re going to be confused. Have you seen all of the Tom Baker episodes of Doctor Who? No? Then you’re going to be confused. Have you read and understood the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and found it to be a clear and understandable book? No? Then you’re going to get lost in this plot line too.

The story is a ramble that relies heavily on your own understanding of a lot of Doctor Who lore and back story to really understand the references that both Yates and the Doctor make. Those who are not big fans of this era, or this Doctor, will be constantly perplexed and confused by a lot of what is being said, and a lot of the humor and pathos will be lost.

The Ugly:
Let’s say that, like me, you understand everything about classic Who, and Tom Baker, and even Mike Yates. Let’s say you’re very well versed in the rambling nature of Doctor Who stories, and used to improbable occurrences and ridiculous situations. You still are going to be perplexed by this story.

I listen to all 5 hours, twice, and I still can’t figure most of it out. There are plot holes and logic leaps everywhere, with little to no solid answers. I honestly feel I could have written a better story in about 10 minutes.

And the packaging is a pain too. This is a 5 CD set, with each CD in their own jewel case crammed inside a box so tight I had to open both ends and literally shove the cd’s out. Of course I quickly uploaded them onto my ipod so I did not have to lug all 5 around with me, but still, it kind of irritates me that so little thought was put into a set that cost around 45 dollars! That’s right, 45 dollars for this baby. Pretty pricy for something that you’ll probably only listen to once.

The Good:
At this point you’re probably thinking: “Dear god this sound horrible. Thank you Rob for saving me from this terrible purchase.” Well don’t thank me yet. I wanted to end this on a high note, and I think I will. You see, I’m a Tom Baker nerd, and if I was to take a shot in the dark I would say that more than a few of the people who frequent this site are Baker fans as well. If you are, then this CD is definitely worth a listen to. Why? 3 reasons

1. It fits: If you watched a lot of Tom Baker then you already know how his stories work. Confusing plotline and ridiculous logic leaps are all part of the game. Have you seen Meglos? This play is better. Have you seen The Deadly Assassin? This is better. Have you seen The Creature from the Pit? This is not better, but then, nothing ever will be better 😉

2. It’s fun: After you’re done listening to these cds it will be easy to sit there and tear apart the plot, and point out the logic flaws, but while you’re listening to it it is very hard not to get swept away with the action and the fun. I pressed play, shut my eyes, and was amazed that the five hours this took to listen to literally vanished in no time. It loses some of this feeling on a second listen, but it’s darn entertaining the first time through

3. It’s TOM BAKER! I am a huge 4th doctor fan (and I have the 12 ft scarf to prove it) so it was really amazing to get to hear a new adventure starring him. Even at 77 Baker’s voice is strong and clear, and his mind is just a sharp as it was 40 years ago. His words are quick and expressive, and you can almost hear that twinkle in his eye when he goes off on a particularly twisted turn of phrase. Let’s be honest, Baker has one of those voices that is so entertaining on its own you probably wouldn’t mind listening to him read the phonebook for an hour or two.

My Recommendation:
So, should you buy it?

Here’s the deal, I am freely admitting I have a huge Tom Baker bias. I am infinitely amused by just about everything this guy does as Doctor Who, and I will always pick up as much merchandise of his as I can. That’s being said, unless you are a huge Baker fan like me I cannot recommend you pick this up, especially at the full 45 bucks I paid. And even if you are a big Baker fan, I would still only encourage you to pick it up used instead. It’s amusing, and fun, but just not worth the cover price.

Quick note: a follow-up audio series was just released.

Mine is in the mail.

Last night was the North American debut of BBC’s Sherlock. Here in the US, it’s appearing on PBS in full uncut glory under their Masterpiece Mystery show. If you’re interested, make sure to check your listings under both. Apparently it’s only a three episode series thus far (not sure if the BBC will commission more) but it’s definitely something fans of Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes or just good TV in general should check out.

Each episode runs about 90 minutes, and the debut episode “A Study in Pink,” just aired last night but you may be able to catch repeats. The subsequent episodes will debut on PBS in the next two weekends. First “The Blind Banker” will run on Oct. 31 and “The Great Game” airs on Nov. 7. There definitely seems to be some influence from the Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey Jr. recent Sherlock Holmes film. If you liked that film, you’ll probably enjoy this as well. Of course the two are completely unrelated. This is vastly superior stuff, especially for those who felt that Holmes deviated too far into the absurd.

This Sherlock takes place in modern times and Holmes and Watson are contemporary men. Holmes uses technology to his whim and Watson is fresh from the Afghanistan war. The characters radiate a certain kinetic energy and the show has that fast paced “see how Holmes mind works” bit that was used in the most recent film adaptation. However, unlike in the Downey movie, it’s implemented better and it feels less gimmicky here. Text, GPS and just general Holmes thinking are weaved into the picture seamlessly creating fun “play along at home” environments.

It’s hard not to notice that there is definitely a Doctor Who vibe here. Brilliant, quirky and reluctantly using his companion’s own unique charms make the two very comparable. Granted, the good Doctor himself is in many ways outer space Sherlock Holmes, but the comparisons here are even more refined. Steven Moffat is one of the head writers on this run of Sherlock and his choices and influences are as clear as they are in the recent Who show.

The science of deduction is in full swing and it’s definitely a fun journey along with Watson and Holmes. I’m looking forward to the future episodes. If you have a PBS station in your area, look them up, check it out and help support good programming like this coming to our shores.

We first got a shot of the Krynoid in April, with a reveal of the Delgado version of The Master in June. Now finally the two are coming together for a later August, early September release of the The Master and Axon. You may wonder why the Krynoid is now flesh colored and called an Axon. In fact it was an Axon first. The humanoid Krynoid costume was a modified Axon costume. I suspect we’ll get a Kyrnoid eventually, since that leaked test proto was in Krynoid colors.

In this exclusive action figure set comes the Master, the arch enemy of the Doctor, as first played by Roger Delgado and the Axon creature. This set comprises of both the Master in his iconic suit with his Tissue Compression Eliminator weapon accessory and an Axon creature as they appeared together in the adventure ‘The Claws of Axos’.

I’m sort of surprised that this wasn’t revealed at SDCC. This would have been the big news that many fans were expecting, but never quite got. Regardless, this marks just another huge release. This year has seen so many incredible Doctor Who releases. The Axon leads me to believe the Krynoid won’t be far behind but now will start the questioning of who he’ll be packed with? We shall see.