08.17.2009

Doctor Who recommendations for old school fans

I’ve got a few recommendations for the old school Doctor Who fans around here.  That’s not to say more recent fans wouldn’t enjoy these, it’s just I believe these are targeted for us old fogies.

DOCTOR WHO – THE FORGOTTEN

Within the past couple years, IDW has picked up the Doctor Who comic book license here in the United States. They’ve really done an outstanding job with their original content and reprint books!  They’ve done a few mini-series, lots of one-shots, and have just started an ongoing series.  The one I’m recommending to old school Whovians is a mini-series called The Forgotten.  In the story, the Doctor and Martha finds themselves stranded in a strange museum dedicated to the Doctor himself.  Additionally, the Doctor has lost his memories of every one of his previous incarnations.  Throughout the series he finds objects that bring back his memories of each incarnation one-by-one.

This was a really neat opportunity for IDW to tell short stories with each of the Doctors.  They went as far as to show the first two Doctor’s stories in black in white! There are also numerous cameos by old companions.  Writer Tony Lee did a really good job finding the “voice” for each actor that has played the role, and artist Pia Guerra found a way to capture each actor’s likeness while still making it look like a comic book (as evident in the image above).

If you are a fan of the original series, you gotta check this out.  It’s worth it. You can find Doctor Who The Forgotten in trade paperback form.  If your local comic book store doesn’t have it in-stock, just ask them to order it for you.

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DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPANY OF FRIENDS

During what I consider to be the second era of “lost years” (1996 – 2005), there were several non-televised efforts to keep the spirit of Doctor Who alive.  The BBC published a long-running series of monthly novels, Big Finish began their monthly audio adventures, and Doctor Who Magazine continued their long-running comic strip.  In each of these, the Eighth Doctor (portrayed by Paul McGann) was considered to be the “current” Doctor.

Also during this time the popular non-televised companion, Professor Bernice Summerfield, was spun-off into her own series of books and audio adventures.  Summerfield premiered during the first era of “lost years” (1989 – 1996), appearing in the Virgin Doctor Who: The New Adventures novels and the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip.

Big Finish’s new audio release The Company of Friends features companions of the Eighth Doctor from this era of “lost years”.  There are four short stories, each running about 30 minutes.  Each story is dedicated to a companion from one of the spin-off series.

  • From the BBC novels, you’ve got Fitz Kreiner.  Fitz was a fun companion.  In some ways, he was supposed to represent the readers themselves.  He was a 27-year-old slacker that came from the year 1963.  He smoked, drank and liked to think of himself a ladies’ man (which he was not). He often found himself out of his depth in futuristic and alien settings, but was always loyal to the Doctor and was the longest serving companion in the Eighth Doctor novels (55 novels).
  • From the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip, you’ve got Izzy Sinclair.  She was a 17-year-old science fiction fan and amateur paranormal investigator from the year 1996.  She had an infectious enthusiasm and of course always found ways to get into trouble.  Izzy was the longest serving companion in the Eighth Doctor comic strips, appearing in nearly all of the Eighth Doctor’s adventures between 1996 and 2003.
  • Professor Bernice Summerfield, mentioned previously, gets an adventure here also.  Even though she traveled with the Seventh Doctor, as a spin-off character her appearance here makes sense.  Her reunion with the Eighth Doctor is lots of fun.
  • Finally there is Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.  I know, “Huh?”  While Shelley wasn’t truly a companion of the Eighth Doctor, there have been vague references in several Big Finish stories about an adventure the Doctor had with her.  Since the Big Finish adventures are spin-offs themselves, this is their nod to their own adventures.

Overall this is a fun series of stories.  Whether you are a fan of these “lost years” adventures, or new to the subject matter, I think anyone could enjoy these stories.  You can download a digital copy from Big Finish or order the CD version from a number of online retailers (I recommend Who North America).

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WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

You may find this an odd suggestion at first, but I firmly believe that Gene Wilder (as he portrayed the role of Willy Wonka) would have made an outstanding Doctor Who.  I realize he’s not British, but outside of that, he played the role perfectly.  Next time you watch the 1971 version of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, watch Wilder’s portrayal closely.  He is brilliant, bizarre, spontaneous, and full of enthusiasm.  He’s very Doctor-ish.

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