Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Guess who's back? Back again

Obviously there are few things as mind blowing as hearing that Tom Baker will actually be playing the Doctor again, in an audio story after throwing roughly three Amazonian rainforests presented to him by Gary Russell into the bin. And kicking Russell in the face. Before throwing a cow at him. And insulting his manhood in Doctor Who conventions for a full decade. Oh, yes, you don't want to fuck with the T-Bone.

Of course, reading further into the story once you've scraped your jaw off the floor or recovered from some form of squee-induced heart attack or, heaven forbid, fangasm, or maybe even in the case of this blog's dear friends Larry Miles and Alan Stevens a full on ragegasm, you would find out that this isn't quite all that. Firstly, it is not with Big Finish but the BBC - a small detail, I know, but the BBC themselves only have Ghosts of N-Space and The Paradise of Death to their credit along with PMG's first 'new series' if you extend it in broader terms, which doesn't really inspire much confidence.

Add to this that instead of there will be five stories in a New Series style arc released once a month on CD. Who would they get to craft this beautiful arc? Why of course, you'd get Paul Magrs.

PAUL MAGRS? It's impossible for the guy not to be given work, clearly. If he ever walks into a brothel with vacancies they'll be wrapping him up in fancy silk dresses and punters will paying through the nose for a night with the lovely Pauline. He's some sort of job-magnet in any circumstances regardless of qualifications.

I'm not saying Magrs is a bad writer, but he's a long way from the best. His post-modern leanings are something he clearly has trouble leaning in - even when he's creating something of a serious work by his standards he can't help making characters deliberately shallow or idiotic to unrealistic proportions to lampshade some aspect of DW he finds hi-hi-hilarious. Or he won't bother with any sort of reality at all. Most of his books left people scratching their heads wondering what the fuck the point of it all was, and recently he's shown a good knack for writing audios that fandom finds in roughly equal measures dull or rage-inducing.

Worse still, compounding his desire for silliness is what seems to be a confusion of how to integrate that humour into certain circumstances. The Zygon Who Fell to Earth has an abundance of characters and situations that are clearly meant to be implements of humour, but in practice fail to actually erupt into humour at any stage - making the bit where said implements of humour tear a poor woman's throat out just plain depressing rather than shocking as was no doubt the intention.

Of course, The Stones of Venice is a real masterpiece and if you tear out the last couple of pages Verdigris can be counted among the best of the tie-in novels - he lectures on English literature for god's sake so the bloke's no muppet, he's just so wildly experimental that he's inevitably inconsistent.

For these reasons, I think of the established writers out there Magrs would be the choice least suited to writing this project. I'd put Gary Russell, Allan Barnes, Gareth Roberts, Steve Lyons and Rob Shearman well ahead of him. Probably the oft-maligned Dave Stone as well for his ability to intertwine silliness with epicness into a magnificent self-loving monster.

All that said, Paul Magrs may well be the only author crazy enough for Tom to work with, so it's understandable on at least one layer.

However.. Mike Yates as the companion?? It worries me that the Beeb were either unable to get anyone actually from his seven year tenure, or decided that the Pertwee pseudo-companion who has undergone quite a bit of ribbing on fandom's part over his questionable sexuality and inept heroics was the best one to bring in to give Tooth-and-Curls support.

In short: good news, with a chance of "Awww, god, why did it have to be this way? WHY??!?!?"


Miles Reid said...

Well, Paul Magrs is one of the few Doctor Who authors who isn't just a Doctor Who author or a Benny author or a Doctor Omega author.

Meaning he escaped the trap dude... Speaking of that, I must find a copy of the latest Lucifer Box novel by Mr. Mark Gatiss, the last two books have been reasonably entertaining in a pulp-ish way.

Well, I'm looking foward to The Hornet's Nest.

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Damnit, forgot to put Mark Gatiss on that list. Who I thought would've been the logical choice given he also has the highest profile of any DW writer out there bar RTD and the Moff themselves.

I am truthfully looking forward to Hornet's Nest... it's just a matter of a) Serious trepidation with choice of author and b) previous note being much easier to write a blog post from rather than "Yay! I'm excited"

And... Mike Yates? What the hell? Fair enough Lalla and Mary would be difficult, Ian Marter's unavailable and Lis Sladen might be too busy atm but... actually I've argued my case away, given that he didn't get on too well with Louise Jameson by most accounts. What's Nick Courtney up to, though?

Youth of Australia said...

You know, BF's attempts to seduce Tom Baker are really misrepresented. They tried but twice to get him involved, and the second time was for Shada (and all concerned, even Lalla Ward, were surprised when he said no).

The stories they tried to get him in were
- The Spectre of Lanyon Moor
- The Holy Terror
- The Stones of Venice

I'm actually more worried about Mike Yates rather than Paul Margrs, as it might mean making The Killing Stone canonical. The Killing Stone was Richard Franklin's self-penned Missing Adventure replacing Robot as the Fourth Doctor's first story, and featured worship of Mike Yates to a degree some have described as beyond Chathamesque - worrying as some of Yates' genius involves passing gallstones to defeat the Master's nefarious plans...

Cameron Mason said...

Nicholas Courtney was originally due to play the Brig in Hornet's Nest (he's mentioned in all) the early publicity.

However he fell ill before recording was due to start and was replaced.


Youth of Australia said...

And Colonel Farraday wasn't available?! This is an outrage!

Youth of Australia said...

Well, I've managed to listen to a bit of it (hahaha i am beyond your comprehension ahahahahah) and here's a transcript:

DOCTOR: The fire crackled down to the last hot embers and the night came creeping in around me, stealing under the doors and the ill-fitting windows of this ancient place. And with the night came the Night Beasts...
I stood very still. I was alert for the merest scrape of a claw on a window pane, the tiniest shriek of the frame as something levered it open.
(whispers) I was being visited. It was just past 3 am. I didn't even turn. I sat tensely, expectant, listening for the tread of paws (or claws) and, as I said before, there was no hoarse breathing, no OBVIOUS signs of life. This is how the dead came stealing in. Pad-pad-pad on stuffing-filled limbs. The true stuff of nightmares, Mike.

MIKE YATES: "Wanted: retired army captain for light household duties. And far-sided companionship."

WOMAN: You're late. He said you'd be on time.

MIKE YATES: "Must tolerate mild eccentricity and strong scientific advice."

DOCTOR: (over kettle whistling) Breakfast smells appetizing, Mrs. Wimsey. (kinky) How do you feel about running away with me and seeing all the marvels of the universe?

MRS WIMSEY: Go and boil your egg.

DOCTOR: (depressed) Wonderful woman.

MIKE YATES: "Knowledge of giant maggots, superintelligent spiders and prehistoric monsters a positive boon."

DOCTOR: (annoyed) What is it?

SOME GUY: Ow! Quickly!

DOCTOR: Let me. Let me.

SOME GUY: (shocked) He was TALKING to it! Muttering to it...

DOCTOR: Sleep again. You mustn't sting again. Sink your thoughts into my thoughts. Calm yourself.

MIKE YATES: I'm not putting up with any more provaricationS! I demand a few explanations.

DOCTOR: I'm so glad you've come. You see, I'm in the need of a little company...

(Wasps buzz. Dogs bark. Screams.)

ALIENS: We are listening, Doctor.

DOCTOR: I fought that night, Mike. I fought for my life!

ALIENS: We know about you. We know such a lot about you already. I will enjoy exploring your mind further... Doctor.

MIKE YATES: Just then, the grandfather clock struck. Thirteen times. I had the most curious sense of vertigo. A feeling that, once again, my past was going to catch up with me.

DOCTOR: (sarcastic) Welcome to the Nest, Captain Yates!

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Yeah, well, trailers are meant to sound cool. I reserve my right to be massively sceptical.

A couple of pieces of dialogue there that don't read like they'd sound very natural spoken, I noticed.

Hey, I just remembered - Mike Yates is the character Magrs turned into a cardboard cutout that Jo carried around in her purse in Verdigris... do you think circumstance has caused him to be a bit nicer to the character? Would he have attempted some sort of 'reboot', perchance?

Youth of Australia said...

Yeah, well, trailers are meant to sound cool. I reserve my right to be massively sceptical.
I get that. Just thought seeing the sort of material given... it has to be said that it sounds more like Tom Baker than the Fourth Doctor, and not just because he's "jowl-y" nowadays. I listened to TB reading Brain of Morbius and the only time he sounded like the Doctor was when he was doing the voice of Morbius. Mind you, he thought Solon should sound like Graham Chapman Does Chairman Mao...

A couple of pieces of dialogue there that don't read like they'd sound very natural spoken, I noticed.
I agree. I thought it was a book reading at first.

Hey, I just remembered - Mike Yates is the character Magrs turned into a cardboard cutout that Jo carried around in her purse in Verdigris... do you think circumstance has caused him to be a bit nicer to the character?
Well, as they've got Richard Franklin to play him... maybe?

But hell, let's be honest: Mike Yates has less respect in the Whoniverse than Adric, and we all know what Pauly did to HIM...

Would he have attempted some sort of 'reboot', perchance?
Considering how proprietorial Franklin is about Yates? No chance.