Thursday, January 24, 2013

Doctor Who: Love and War

Back in those "wilderness years" of Doctor Who in the 1990's when it looked as though our beloved program was to never appear on our television sets again, there was really only two ways, if you a fan of the program, to get your fix.

1.) You could get your hands on a video camera and film your own adventure. Which many fans did. And actually did very well. Or...

2.) Read the continuing adventures of the Doctor in a series titled New Adventures being published by Virgin Books and later BBC Books.

Which many of us young fans did. The Doctor, in his Seventh incarnation as portrayed by Sylvester McCoy, continued his adventures throughout time and space in a ship which had been stuck in the shape of a 1960's London police box since the series began in 1963. These adventures had the luxury (for the most part) of not being restricted by the budget and censorship which the television endured. And the writers could tell stories that were a tad more mature than what was had been seen on the BBC and readers began to see a much darker and Machiavellian version of the Seventh Doctor. Which was a direction the character seemed to be heading in before the series ended.

There were many writers who had written episodes for the television series had written stories for these "New" Adventures. Many of the young writers of that series such as Russell T. Davies, Gareth Roberts, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss would go on to write episodes for the series. And in the case of Davies and Moffat would go onto be the series showrunners and call the shots.

One of these young and budding writers was Paul Cornell. Who would become a fan favorite in the run of Doctor Who "New" Adventures and much like the writers mentioned above would go on to write for the current television series. Even one of his novels from the New Adventures "Human Nature" would be adapted into an episode. However, one of his earliest novels after Timewyrm: Revelation was "Love And War". Which would introduce a new companion for the Doctor in the series named Bernice Surprise Summerfield.  Bernice, or Benny as her friends would call her, would go on to star in her own series of novels as well as a series of audio plays. These plays actually were what gave Big Finish Productions the final go ahead from the BBC to do a series of Doctor Who audio adventures in 1999.

Since then, not only has Paul gone onto write some memorable episodes for the current Doctor Who, but he has also gone on to write for comics. In particular for Young Avengers and Action Comics.

Most recently to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the first appearance of Benny Summerfield, Big Finish has adapted Paul's novel Love and War into an audio play. Unlike his story Human Nature, this adaptation actually features the Doctor it was intended for with Sylvester McCoy providing the voice for the Seventh Doctor.

Reading many of the Doctor Who novels, I always felt the best stories I've felt are the ones that make me think "That would have made a smashing television episode". Although, this has not been adapted into a television episode, Jacqueline Rayner has done a smashing job adapting Paul's book into an audio.

 Listening to it, this story would have made an excellent television episode for Sylvester McCoy's Doctor if the series were to have continued into a 27th Season. I've always felt both Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy were sorely underrated during their respective times in the roles. Colin got sacked by the BBC and Sylvester got the series yanked out from under them.

Big Finish has done a great job in presenting this story. In this modern age we live in, audio is a difficult medium for people to get into. We have become very visual society. Especially in the United States where we really don't have much in terms of radio dramas the way they still do in in the UK.

Which is kind of sad. There is something warm and comfortable about sitting back and imagining what characters and scenes might look like.

Big Finish had already dabbled in the waters of the Virgin New Adventures with two previous Seventh Doctor and Benny audio dramas. One of which, Shadow of the Scourge, was written by Paul Cornell back in 2000.

However, it has left me wanting more. I would love to hear more adventures between the Seventh Doctor and Benny. Either adaptations from other stories or new tales. I think it's an avenue that needs to be explored more.

I highly recommend you go on Big Finish's website and order a copy or if you live in Worcester Massachusetts, stop on by Annie's Book Stop of Worcester and pick one up. You'll be glad you did!!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Gym? What's a Gym?

I guess the joke doesn't sound as funny without Homer Simpson saying it aloud. Oh well.
As part of our New Years resolution... which is something I've never actually made... ever... Syd and I decided this year to join a gym.
We decided to make a few changes to our eating habits and health and we had both talked about... well actually SHE HAD talked about... joining a gym. Seeing that Planet Fitness down in the White City Plaza was offering $10 down and $10 a month. So, I finally gave in and we joined.
We've been going since Sunday and I have to say I've been enjoying it. Mostly, we've just been doing the treadmill and exercise bikes. I'm not really much into weight lifting. But one of the things that sealed the deal for us is the fact that Planet Fitness is supposed to offer a No Critics and No Judgement policy.
Which the one thing I couldn't deal with is people looking over and snickering while you're working out. And so far I haven't had to deal with any of that there. I've just been able to quietly work out at my pace.
What started out as her pulling me kicking and screaming to sign up has turned into me trying to pull her along to the gym every night. I've been enjoying it but I'm sure Syd is ready to murder me in my bed.
We're already starting to feel better and hopefully the results will be a pleasant surprise by the end of the month.
Here's hopin'.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013... no I don't think Arthur C. Clarke has written anything about this year either...

Well, here we are in 2013. Second or third year in a row and no apocalypse. Despite the predictions of Mayan calendars and crazy old coots who bought up billboard space to announce the end times and yet another day dawns and here we are.
I think if we ARE to have any types of New Years resolutions this year (apart from the usual favorites) I think the one that should be on the top of every list should be NO END OF THE WORLD PREDICTIONS IN 2013. Just stop it! You're simply not that good! Find another line of work because obviously prognostication is not your cup of tea.
Our New Years went by quietly this year. Syd and I spent the night with friends of ours trying desperately to stay awake till midnight. It wasn't working very well because we were all beginning to fall asleep by 10PM.
This may be our last late New Years. Each year trying to get to midnight seems to get more and more difficult. However, for the most part, it was a really nice way to ring in 2013. In the company of my wife and good friends.
I was even more surprised how many of my friends really had an awful 2012. I saw quite a few messages telling 2012 where it can go. And yes. I think a great number of my friends have every right to dislike the previous calendar year because they had gone through some really trying times in their lives. And I hope 2013 is much kinder on them.
I can honestly say I didn't think 2012 was that bad for me. No year is perfect, but I don't think I could honestly say I HATED it. I wouldn't take it out to drinks, but I don't feel it was that awful for me personally.
Nevertheless, here's hoping we all have a happier, healthier AND more productive 2013.