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March Books 7) The Discontinuity Guide

7) The Discontinuity Guide: The Definitive Guide to the Worlds and Times of Doctor Who, by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping

Yeah, yeah, I know that almost all of the text is also available on-line. But there's nothing like dead trees (especially if you are in the middle of a long plane flight). This is a great compilation of odd facts about the series, including most particularly an attempt to introduce consistency to such matters as the Doctor's age, his academic qualifications, the histories of the Cybermen and of the Daleks, and Mars. Interesting to see the foreshadowing of two of the Ninth Doctor's more memorable lines - "Hairdryer!" ("The Web Planet") and "Run!" (Second Doctor, passim). And there's a certain amount of "Yeah, that was my favourite bit".

Speaking of favourite bits, I asked my co-panellists at P-Con what their favourite bits of Doctor Who were, both old series and new. Colin Greenland voted for an end-of-episode shot of a Dalek emerging into view (which I reckon was the end of episode 1 of "The Chase"; Juliet McKenna for the Doctor and Jo down the mine in "The Green Death"; and Paul Cornell for the start of life on earth in "City of Death". From the new series Colin voted for "Are you my mummy?", surely one of the most impressive Who moments ever, and Juliet confessed to liking the Dalek in chains.

Part of my agenda of course is to improve my knowledge of the best stories, especially those that were first broadcast outside the time period when I was watching most closely (late Third Doctor to early Sixth, then Ninth and Tenth). Apart from Season 7, the other entire season that drew the praise of the Discontinuity Guide's authors was the very last of the old run, Season 26 with Sylvester McCoy ("Battlefield", "Ghost Light", "The Curse of Fenric" and "Survival"). Other stories to look out for which I hadn't previously had flagged up to me include particularly the First Doctor's "The Massacre", but also a bunch of others from the end of Troughton's second season.

I've made efforts in this direction before, but found this book much more helpful. (I should start reading this blog as well I suspect.)


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 16th, 2006 06:03 pm (UTC)
Me and surliminal watched City of Death recently.

Oh. My. God.

I have such great memories of this from when I was a child, and it really doesn't stand up to them. The dialogue is bad, the acting varies between bad and camp and the whole thing could have been fitted into two episodes, especially if they'd left out vast numbers of scenes of The Doctor running from place to place.

Thank goodness for Russel T Davies.
Mar. 17th, 2006 10:39 am (UTC)
Whilst I loved the RTD series, and although it may be simply fanboy glow, or residual childhood memories projected on to it, my love for City of Death is a strong as it ever was. Yes, there's too much running about - but it's in Paris! Yes some of the dialogue is a bit rub - but it's got that great bit about the butler being wonderfully violent.

I don't really buy all the Graham Williams era revisionism that tries to convince you what a fantastic story Horns of Nimon really is, but I shall always have a place in my heart for Duggan and the rest.
Mar. 16th, 2006 11:50 pm (UTC)
Battlefield starts off great but loses direction after the first episode, but the other three from Season 26 were great. Ghost Light is possibly for hardcore fans only -- it's almost too dense for its own good, but packed with ideas.

Is it possible that Colin's end-of-episode was actually the end of the first episode of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, with the Dalek emerging from the river?
Mar. 17th, 2006 06:09 am (UTC)
That is entirely possible - indeed someone else already suggested that (in a comment which has been deleted). Must get it and judge for myself.
Mar. 17th, 2006 10:57 am (UTC)
The episode guide at the BBC Doctor Who site says that episode 1 of The Chase also ends with a Dalek emerging, in this case from sand. So maybe it was a little presumptuous of me to correct Colin about what is, after all, his memory.
Mar. 17th, 2006 04:46 pm (UTC)
I prompted Colin with "The Chase"; nobody mentioned "The Dalek Invasion of Earth", or he might have remembered more clearly. Given his age I thought "The Chase" minimally more likely.
Mar. 17th, 2006 11:07 am (UTC)
BTW, I noticed that that book you linked to gave Ghost Light 0/5, and the Mindwarp section of Trial of a Time Lord 5/5, both of which are deeply suspect marks. A thing about Philip Martin is that he never seems quite sure where all his locations are in relation to one another; his cities aren't cities but collections of rooms. In Vengeance on Varos there's a journey that's life-threateningly dangerous in one direction and entirely safe in the other. In Mission to Magnus (his story from the cancelled season) the characters walk from the equator to the pole in about an hour. Mindwarp doesn't have anything so egregious, but it's still pretty flimsy.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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