John "Living In Fantasyland" Kenneth Muir's A History And Critical Analysis of Doctor Who The 1963-1981 British Television Time And Space Adventure is a fascinating thing. Released in 2000 as Big Finish exploded into the consciousness, the books wiped out the Time Lords and the comics ended their black-and-white-era once and for all, this bland, dark green hardback with no cover or illustrations hit the shelves. Specifically the high-up ones, since it was a reference book that would only be bought by the VERY rich and the VERY bored. It cost over $300 at the Galaxy Bookshop when it first came out, and when they moved around the block, they didn't keep their copy as far as I know. Now, ten years later, I stumble across a paperback reprint of it (renamed A Critical History of Doctor Who on Television with a stolen painting of The Five Doctors) going for less than a copy of Doctor Who Magazine.
So I bought it, mainly because of the delight I got reading out the badly-written and ill-thought out descriptions to Chris Hale and his girlfriends - you can't buy memories like that, especially from a text that seems to have been written on the bus by someone who dearly, passionately wants to write about Space: 1999 instead. Now, I've only seen a few minutes of one episode of that show (a very freaky youtube clip of this Kroll-like monster who hypnotizes people, slides them into its glowing mouth and then spits out their skeletons), but it's agonizingly clear that JKM considers it to be the Awesome Equivalent of Robin Hood and Watchmen teaming up with V to fight Aliens, Predators AND Terminators all at the same time.
I opened the book at random, and there was a mention that the girl who played Ping Cho (Susan's... ahem... roomie in Marco Polo) was in the blessed Space: 1999. One day, when I'm really, REALLY bored, I'll count the references to Space: 1999 and see if they outnumber references to Doctor Who. They certainly rival Blake's 7 in its own book (but might lose out to Star Trek). But this is a thick book and so, skipping through the first hundred pages of dross, HG Wells and painfully awkward attempts to big-up the show (a crappy fan drawing montage of 1970s monsters to demonstrate why Doctor Who is famous... um, yeah... definitely...), time to cut to chase, boil the waffle until dissipated and find out what JKM has to say about our boys. Perhaps from these we will be able to predict what he might write about the RTD era? Or rather, what he WON'T write, as he does tend to ramble off on tangents every chance he gets rather than discuss what he's supposed to (like the "essay" on Ultraworld, which ended up a rant about the Borg).
(And note, his titles, not mine.)
An Unearthly Child
Oh man, this story treats the audience with intelligence and lots of flashbacks and it's not boring at all - till them cavemen turn up. That was done much better in Space: 1999! It's almost like, I dunno, somehow, someway, they didn't WANT the Doctor to be an amazing incredible hero! But this doesn't precisely match up with The War Games and DEMANDS A RETCON!!
It's a total rip-off of The Time Machine, but Daleks are better than Klingons! Dalekmania, man, you couldn't make it up! They're shit nowadays, though, huh? Here's a list of Terry Nation's credits to fill up the next three pages. He did Blake's 7, you know. There's a book in that, somewhere.
Edge of Destruction
Is this one Beyond the Ship or Inside The Sun? I forget. It would be better with Tegan and Turlough in it though. Definite.
This story doesn't exist! Crazy! Oh well, it was a rip off of that Time Travellers story anyway. Here's a cast list! The chick from Space: 1999 was in it! AWESOME!
The Keys of Marinus
This story DOES exist! But I haven't seen it. Hey, isn't it dumb how in Star Trek they always find one planet ruled solely by Nazis or freaks or whoever? This is way better. When's this coming out on video? What? Two years before I published this book? Fucking timey-wimey.
This story rocks! There isn't anyone from history in it at all! In your FACE, Indiana Jones! And like, Christianity fails! That doesn't happen often, does it? Oh, Barbara rules! She's way better than anyone else. Especially Turlough. Turlough sucks.
This is quite like that Sean Connery film Outland, isn't it? Why can't Daleks ever turn out to be evil because of evil corporations instead of mad scientists? OK, I'm bored now.
The Reign of Terror
Pah! Pah, I say! This sucks, so obviously it's the basis for every historical ever! Except The Aztecs. Why does everyone go back to the French Revolution? And shouldn't the universe explode or something because the Doctor and Susan MAY have visited this neboulous intercontinental period twice? DAMN IT! And some of the episodes are missing, so here's a resume of Dennis Spooner and some spoilers for The Invasion.
Planet of Giants
It's like Land of the Giants, only in black and white with Dr Who in it. Or Honey I Shrunk The Kids. This isn't out on video so, um, here are some other times people got shrunk in Doctor Who. Is that the door behind you?
The Dalek Invasion of Earth
This is FUCKING DARK, mofos! Those two old witches in the woods who turn out to be not 100% trustworthy? NIHILISTIC CYNACISM! Oh, it's like Night of the Living Dead! Nation channels Romero! AND Independence Day! I haven't watched this either, so I'll cut and paste a paragraph from a film review. There. That says everything I have to say about this story: that bit you can hardly actually see of Robomen goostepping on the docks scares the shit out of the original author. Ne'er a truer word spoken! But Susan gets left behind for being "a woman"? Sexist bullshit! Oh, hang on. As in "not a child"? Oh. Well, it's STILL sexist bullshit! I haven't watched this, but I did see the movie once. The special effects were not so crap.
Thank God it's not exactly the same as the last story - I wouldn't have been able to write anything. Bennett's a total asshole, not a bit like Picard at all! And Barbara shoots down Vicki's dog! Never ever happens in Star Trek. Apart from that TNG ep with Geordie and the evil labrador... I digress. Were those two ghosts or something at the end? It's just like Space: 1999!
This is funny. I shall now explain all the jokes. ALL of them. You know, I think Ian and Babs might be screwing. And doesn't, like, inspiring Nero to burn Rome to the ground count as affecting the course of history? I'm confused.
The Web Planet
This sucks so bad. You can see the studio floor and stuff! Unforgivable.
My god, this is worse than Reign of Terror! Whatever happened to the pure historicals?! Here's the resumes for Julian Glover and Jean Marsh. Haven't seen a single frame of this story, in case that didn't show.
The Space Musuem
The first episode reminds me of a Star Trek episode. The remaining three remind me of the following itemized list of stories I hate. Next!!
BORING! CHEAP AND BORING! Ian and Babs leave. I hate Mel and Turlough, don't you? In fact, put them in inverted commas, coz I hate them so much. The Brigadier's shit too. Oh, and Abe Lincoln appears. And a list for every reference of "Marie Celeste" in Doctor Who, cause the page count's running low again.
The Time Meddler
I haven't watched this and thus have no opinion, but who cares, I can waffle on about Time Lords. Gee, the Doctor has a kind of Prime Directive, dunne? Kinda like Kirk! Star Trek is cool, isn't it?
It's like Beauty in the Beast or something! Like Odo, or Worf or OK I ADMIT IT, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M ON ABOUT! But aliens who don't breathe air? Random!
Mission to the Unknown
This is a missing episode.
As is this. The book's funny, so I've heard.
The Dalek Master Plan
A whopper! Exhorbitant! Only two episodes survive AND IT WILL ALWAYS STAY THAT WAY! Um... Katarina dies like Adric, when you think about it. And some resumes. NEXT!
For fuck's sake, not ANOTHER missing story! Here's a list of Space: 1999 stories that involve doppelgangers. There wasn't one before this story... was there?
Ah, thank Christ a story that exists - and it's just like Space: 1999! It's a rip-off of The Space Museum by virtue of being completely different, but I'm fairly certain Michael Sheard may be in it.
The Celestial Toymaker
Erm... look, a resume of Bryan Hales and Michael Gough. NEXT!
People say this is the worst story ever. I can't be arsed to argue, because I haven't seen the episodes. They probably will never be released on video because it's the worst story ever. Whatever.
Wow, I can compare this to so many other TV shows it just isn't funny! Ian Stuart Black CREATED Austin Powers, damn you!
The War Machines
I know I've not mentioned any companion since Ian and Babs, but apparently smart-talking-fast-talking-Dodo leaves. I think. It's kind about the internet, when you think about it, isn't it? Freaky.
I got nothing.
The Tenth Planet
Cybermen! Cybermen! Friendly neighborhood Cybermen!
Stolen by Star Trek TNG!
Renamed them the Borg to you and me!
Look out! Star Trek is totally crap!
Oh, and William Hartnell leaves. Life goes on.
Next: trying to bluff with the Troughton era...