Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Lies of DWM

In setting up some stuff for my major fan fic project, I have been known to peruse the Doctor Who Magazine previews of the time, mainly because 9 times out of 10, they give a subtly different view to proceedings. If the previews contained word perfect material, Turlough's sabotage in Terminus would have been the big twist revelation, the time wars of Karfel would be legendary, and Revelation of the Daleks would begin with the Doctor deciding Necros is the perfect holiday destination. The first two episodes of Castrovalva would be the entire plot, the Seventh Doctor's death was caused when Dalek pursuit ships shot down the TARDIS over the skies of San Fransisco, and Sword of Orion would have the Doctor let a mechanic fix his time machine.

Nowadays, of course, the average thread on OG contains more information about a new series episode than the full preview in the magazine, which is vetted so thoroughly the facts are left bland and boring. Yeah, there's a bride in the console room, a church, a wedding, and the Santas are back and the villain is called Empress of Rachnoss. Nope, no other idea what happens except there's some fake money printed for a five second sight gag when an ATM explodes.

Back in the 1980s, however, DWM had a far bigger role in production. The previews often consisted of a rough outline of the first episode, a cast list and a rounded-up comment on how unsuitable for children it would be. However, should, say, the plot be so basic that a rough outline would spoil everything or perhaps there was little enough info to go around, there would be what Borusa would term "adjustments of truth." Maybe they justified it as anti-spoiler, with a bunch of Who readers gobsmacked when Omega wasn't the black clad figure running the death zone, or the Watcher manifestly did not appear on Androzani, or that The Twin Dilemma was the One That Would Be Cooler Than The One With The Giant Maggots. Maybe they were sick of doing articles on the Second Doctor's companions, or retelling the events of The Pirate Planet yet again, and were desperate to do something else. Maybe it was just the fact some issues came out on April 1...

But either ways, they came up with crap like this:

DOCTOR WHO MONTHLY - APRIL 1983 - ISSUE 75

When the Doctor landed in Convent Garden in 1971 AD he mentioned to Jamie and Victoria:
Now, between you and me, starting a preview of The King's Demons by reminding us of a line from The Web of Fear seems a bit extreme. And look! A violent thrust of UNIT dating in one sentence...

"Funny, isn't it. How we keep landing on your planet."
And they misquote it as well. He says "your Earth". Petty, but worse is to come...

Over the subsequent years we learnt, as even the Time Lords remarked, that the Doctor had a particular fondness for the planet Earth.
No, that was the Cybermen.

One wonders these days, though, if this holds true. For the Doctor's apparent enthusiasm for our planet has recently been overtaken by other junctures.
Odd. As in this season the TARDIS has gone to Gallifrey, Earth, Manussa, Earth, Terminus, deep space and Earth. And only the trips to Earth were of the Doctor's free will.

Perhaps it is that the beloved TARDIS, that has a mind of her own, that is responsible for yet another trip to Earth. Maybe. Or then again, as the Ship materializes in 13th Century England does the Doctor have plans to visit his old friend, Edward of Wessex.
I mean... what? Apart from anything else, a magazine that needs a photo to establish who Ben and Polly are is not aiming at readers who are so in love with The Time Warrior they'd instantly get that reference. Apart from anything else, Sir Edward was so clapped out and more to the point, his wife a big name in Eastenders, a reunion was as likely as that last sentence reading, "his old friend, Benjamin of Chatham". Or maybe Sir Justin from the comic strip all the readers would know? No? Please yourself.

Sadly, any hint of mystery about the TARDIS landing is ruined in the exchange: "Did you set the coordinates for here?" "Nope." And all the Time Warrior fans start to weep. Course, some people think the Master was to blame, but que sera sera.

Who knows!
I do.

One thing that becomes apparent very early on is, as per usual, events do not proceed as planned.
That's a rather odd sentence. The stunning relevation... of things being normal.

The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough find themselves at a colourful pageant where, guess who, gets embroiled in the inimical world of jousting.
Well, this is technically the truth. Except the pageant is a duel and if "embroiled" means "conscienciously objects to", then yes. Got to admit, the Fifth Doctor on horseback is a cool image, and one that the makers of Destiny of the Doctors caught up on. This is why previews are interesting. They're often cooler than the finished product.

The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough manage to get a chance to see the infamous King John only to find that does not seem quite himself.
"Manage"? They land in front of him and he gives them seats straight away. The line suggests that they have to get past bouncers or make appointments.

A seemingly friendly Sir Giles does appear to have a strange hold over his liege.
Even looking past the ginger wig and accent, does Sir Giles appear "friendly"? At all? He spends his time picking fights, torturing people and doesn't get three lines to say to the King. Let alone use "a strange hold".

But then, have politicians changed that much over the years.
Dunno. Want a question mark? They seem to be in short supply.

Being her world Tegan is the only one to sense that the whole scenario has a wrong feel to it.
Rather like that sentence. What?

And also, Tegan is the only one to think "Who cares?" about whether or not King John is possessed. Everyone else twigged it out in the first scene.

With nothing tangible to substaniate her feelings, she keeps her thoughts to herself.
...this is Tegan. Tee-gun.

And apart from the King behaving totally out of character and being in two places at once, boasting an anachronistic iron maiden, a French knight no one knows, welcoming demons from beyond... nope. Nothing definite or tangible there.

Eventually, adding fuel to the rapidly building fire, the Doctor meets a very confused Sir Geoggrey de Lacey.
Very confused. He can't even spell his own name.

He had just travelled directly down from London and an audience with King John!
This also suggests the Doctor meets the knight (rather than him being captured by Sir Giles) after he learns about the King's nifty double life, and not shouting this information in a court.

Deep within the Doctor's mind a memory stirs. Thirteen century. "This is the time of Magna Carta, isn't it?"
Another quote that at no point appears in the story. From anyone.

He searches the inner recesses of his memory for the illusive information.
So ellusive, it changed its own spelling!

"A long time ago, didn't someone mention to me about jet liners is 1320 AD? And there was Shakespeare's Hamlet on television?"
...yes. The official Doctor Who magazine announces that the Time Meddling Monk (due to appear in the comic strip in three issues) will be in The King's Demons. What bullshit. Not only is it bullshit, the "speech" is rubbish. Not only is misquoting the Monk's words, 1320 would be in the 14th century, not the 13th! The Monk gave no dates! And why would this speech having anything to do with imposter kings and demons?!

Just a muddled memory is there a grain of truth trying to breath through.
No, it's a desperate previewer taking the piss.

A truth with devious implications!
That someone isn't taking this seriously...

The King's Demons, serial coded 6J, is penned by the now Doctor Who regular, Terence Dudley. Terence was also responsible for Four to Doomsday, Black Orchid and A Girl's Best Friend.
"Responsible"? Not a fan, then. And I bet a lot of confused readers checked their program guides for that baffling third title, before giving it up as some sitcom starring Rula Lenska. It's usually called K9 and Company, just between you and me.

Directing The King's Demons, a two partera and the last of the twentieth season, is Tony Virgo.
Yeah. They need a proof reader. They really do. This is the same issue that nostalgically embraces the good times of Pyramids of War and claims that Anthony Ainley played the Emperor Dalek, K9 and a technician in Evil of the Daleks, State of Decay and Logopolis respectively. Also, Gallifrey Guardian is clearly desperate for news as it reports:

"Kept on Ice. A batch of Laurel and Hardy films, never shown in public, have been found stored under an ice rink in the Yukon."
This leads to a miserable segue about finding missing episodes and an appeal so pathetic even Ian Levine sniggered. What's depressing is that they admit to snatching the reports from "a national newspaper". How the pathetic have risen over the last thirty years, when the national newspapers are stealing threads from Outpost Gallifrey to keep the presses hot.

...

The fucking Time Meddler... I just don't believe it... mainly because it would have improved the story no end.

2 comments:

Matt Marshall said...

Now I am genuinely curious as to how DWM previewed The Twin Dilemma...

Youth of Australia said...

Surprisingly close to this.