Writer and Guardian columnist, Damien Walter, asked today, "What are the 5 SF books you give to non-SF readers to win them over?"
Although my own Evil UnLtd won over plenty of non-SF converts on authonomy, I don't know that it's a good introduction to the genre. Humour is a good gateway and some of the series' humour plays on knowledge of popular SF from the realms of TV and film - which many people who 'don't do SF' will be familiar with, even though they might not have actually picked up any sci-fi in book form.
The obvious answer then might seem to be TV and movie tie-ins, but there might be too great a risk that someone who found they enjoyed Doctor Who books, say, would simply end up devouring more of the same and that wouldn't really open their eyes to the wider universe of SF in general.
Initially I wasn't sure I could think of 5 books that would fit the bill and I was reminded that another project of mine was developed to slot into this kind of gap. You know how it goes: if there's a book you feel like reading and you can't find it anywhere, it may be that you have to write it. But it's as yet unpublished and I'm working up the courage to start submitting it around, enduring the ensuing rejections and so on.
Still, the question continued to niggle away and, despite the best intentions of working on something else this afternoon, I gave the matter further thought and decided to take up Damien's challenge i.e. to blog my selection of 5 books that would serve as a starter course for non-scifitarians.
For added fun, rather than choose 5 books that would each serve as a bridge, I thought I'd pick 5 that might work in progression. Building a bridge section by section, so to speak.
So here they are:
The Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy
A fairly obvious choice, but it's a particularly good one as it's not science fiction. But it wears elements of SF the way Arthur wears his dressing gown throughout. My wife was stunned only the other day to discover one of her work colleagues who hadn't read the books, so there are still people out there who haven't tasted this strong source of Brownian Motion. And after reading and chuckling their way through that, they should at least be ready to embrace
The Stainless Steel Rat
An oldie but a goodie. The old ones are not always the best, but this is James Bond In Space and about as taxing to read as that sounds. It's a brisk, pacey adventure with lots of tech and 'gadge' and, crucially, no aliens. It's a spoof, but it represents an easing up on the laughing gas after Hitch-Hikers and a step towards - gasp! - more serious SF.
Not only is this a bona fide SF classic - which some 'not-we' may even have heard of and needn't feel the loss of too much street-cred if caught reading - but it has scope and scale and big ideas while being written entirely accessibly. It's also not without a sprinkling of humour and has aliens. While aliens may prove too difficult an adjustment for some non-SF readers to handle, it presents them as colourful characters and the treatment of them isn't that far removed from what people might have encountered through playing popular video games like Mass Effect and/or in episodes of popular SF they might have chanced upon while surfing the channels.
Alas, I no longer have a copy of this for confirmation, but I recall it as a fast, whiz-bang ride - all the appeal of a Hollywood blockbuster but full to the brim with thought-provoking ideas, great characters and a few hard edges. No aliens - we've come back down to earth for this penultimate module in our course. But in a world where Google glasses are a reality, there's very little in this - if I recall correctly! - that should trouble the committed non-SF reader too much. And it's a cracking story.
Gloves off, no holds barred, hard SF. But it's an anthology, so it's all served up in bite-size portions. Often dark, grim and edgy, these are not to be tackled until you've made it through the previous four modules. But they also serve as a great introduction to the wider universe of Alastair Reynolds' own brand of SF and if, after reading these tales, you feel ready to immerse yourself into one of his novels, well...
Congratulations, you have graduated.
Or maybe not.
Either way, I hope you will have enjoyed the course.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Best make it clear from the outset, I’ve built this review almost entirely around a silly joke title. Hopefully Chris Chibnall and those involved in the making of Doctor Who’s Dinosaurs On A Spaceship won’t mind.
And if it doesn’t quite all hang together at the end, well, that’ll be because it was built almost entirely around a silly joke title.
They must have had such larks in the script meetings: yes, it’ll be like Snakes On A Plane but, you know, BIGGER! Take the daftest Hollywood action movie you can think of and really Who it up.
It’s a bold aim and I admire ambition in Doctor Who, but is it real ambition to ape the lowest common denominator of Hollywood output? Especially as Snakes On A Plane was obviously intended as a joke in the first place and a spoof of a spoof runs the risk of producing a Scary Movie to take a 'humorous' poke at Scream. And rather like my thoughts on those lampooning horror in the Scary Movie series, I fear it would have taken a sharper wit than Chibnall to pull it off. By setting it on a Silurian vessel, the writer reminds us what a hash he made of the golden opportunity he was handed previously – namely, to bring back the Silurians in a huge two-parter. Suffice to say, the results were more pedestrian than Silurian.
Here, he’s at least trying to be clever and this should be encouraged because with practice he might get there. Maybe that’s why Moffat keeps commissioning him. (Another one to look forward to this season.) Chibnall pays homage to his employer by preceding the action with one of those very Moffatesque prologues where the Doctor recruits a colourful Scooby gang to aid him in his quest. Except these extraordinary ladies and gentlemen are not in the same league.
We get a one-dimensional Nefertiti and a hunter I’d be tempted to call Alan Eighthmain except he’s not half the man H Rider Haggard’s hero was in his day. Thankfully, we also get Brian – Rory’s dad – and he is a real treat, brilliantly brought to life by Mark Williams. And there’s Rory and Amy, of course, who are great here although we don’t get so much of their shared chemistry with so many others in the mix. Brian, though, is so well established as part of their family you’d think we’d seen him dozens of times before in the series.
Unfortunately, in a 45-minute episode there’s not really the scope for this small army of companions plus a rich and full story. So what we get instead is a pretty simple scenario: spaceship hurtling towards Earth, dinosaurs on board, villain, Doctor has to avert disaster before the military take out the ship with missiles.
So far, so Hollywood.
Various conveniences, contrivances and contradictions have to be bolted on along the way in order to make it work. Which is also, as far as I can gather, how many a Hollywood movie is constructed. After post-production and all that, it’s blasted onto our screens like a fire-and-forget missile.
The structure and mechanics of this particular rollercoaster are all exposed and advertised, along with every loose nut and bolt. There are big and even novel ideas attached to the framework – like the wave-powered engine room that happens to be a beach, an Indian Space Agency guarding Earth and a database that appraises everything in the universe and assigns it a value (“a sort of Argos of the galaxy”). Nice. Everything and everyone is there for a purpose: Nefertiti to provide an alternative prize for the bad guy to take; Brian’s golf balls to get the Triceratops moving; Riddell (Rupert Graves), er, because Chibnall saw Bob Peck in JurassicPark; and Brian so that he and Rory could operate the ridiculous gene-dependent piloting system on the ship – or quite possibly flip that one around: i.e. the ridiculous gene-dependent piloting system is there to give Brian and Rory something to do at the end.
It creaks and groans like a rusty Meccano set and you can almost hear the writer insisting “It will all fit, it will all fit” as he assembles his masterpiece.
Hate to break it to him, but it doesn’t.
In a galaxy where there’s a price tag on everything – including sentient beings – the ultra-mercenary and vile, utterly unscrupulous Solomon elects to revive the Silurians (a race believed extinct) a handful at a time and execute them because the lizards wouldn’t let him have their dinosaurs. They refused to negotiate. Erm, so why not keep them frozen and sell them too?
There’s no record of the Doctor in the Argos anywhere-in-time-and-space catalogue, but he’s clearly known to the ISA in this time zone. Missiles need an alien doohickey to lock onto their (enormous) target but not so vital a part of the ship that it can’t be removed and planted on an alternative target. Internal teleport can transport you anywhere on the ship until you land trapped on a beach beset by pterodactyls when it will emerge that the local teleport has burned out. Comedy double-act robots can’t hit a dinosaur on the run. Yeah, fair enough, bad guys can’t shoot for toffee in movies – but a dinosaur. And why is the Doctor on the run anyway when he later disables the same robots with a single zap?
All of that and more. Plus that small act of pre-meditated murder that ties everything up so neatly for the finale.
Context is everything and I rewatched this about a week after Game Of Thrones Series 3 Episode 9. So I was less bothered, second time round, about the Doctor killing David Bradley in such a callous offhand manner. He gets what he deserves!
Fair to say, the Doctor has acted ruthlessly before so there is a precedent for this – and the episode goes to great lengths to spell out what a total bastard Solomon really is – and Bradley is excellent at playing total bastards. (He has tremendous presence here which goes some way to make up for the way he’s thoroughly underused. But we get to see him as William Hartnell later this year, folks!) So it’s, like, totally justified, right? But... it seems completely at odds with the Eleventh Doctor’s goal of lowering his profile and stepping back from the terrifying figure he has become to his enemies.
It’s also an uncomfortably nasty note that jars with the often juvenile humour – most notably manifested in the Mitchell-and-Webb-bots, but also in the sexist and sexual quips (you can’t call them innuendo) from the likes of Alan Eighthmain.
There are flashes of better humour and Amy’s especially good at shooting down the chauvinism. The comedy intention is clear, but while Graves does well with the material handed, the character (for want of a better word) has none of the warmth or charm of, say, a Brigadier. Similarly, pause for a moment and compare Nefertiti with Liz 10. Barring a few elements, it’s all sub-par whether you stand it alongside old Who or new.
More than a Hollywood actioner, this feels like a return to the Graham Williams era of Who (Invisible Enemy or The Horns Of Nimon – not City Of Death), with only a fraction of the wit and none of the subtlety. Instead of Douglas Adams on script duties we appear to have, I don’t know, Jimmy Carr perhaps. The kind of comic who tells a gag then looks smugly around to draw attention to just how funny and clever he’s been. Not very, Jimmy.
Ultimately, it is only intended as a romp. But it’s not Hollywood enough to pull that off.
Its absolute crowning glory is right at the end, where Brian sits in the TARDIS doorway and sees the world. Just before finally travelling off to see the world. Thank heavens it has that at least. And it was worth the risk of taking a second ride on the dodgy rollercoaster for that.
That aside, I think I’d rather have overambitious rubber dinosaurs in a richer, more susbtantial story than the CGI creations in this shambles.
A Town Called Mercy.
Monday, June 10, 2013
No matter who you lose – loved ones, relatives, friends, personal heroes or heroines – life goes on. But it carries a heavy taint and the world loses some of its colour. For a while at least. Actually, that colour’s gone forever, but we do what we can by way of a restoration job. Put some of our own colour back in.
Yesterday, I checked in on Twitter to throw some glib comment out into the virtual world only to be stunned and saddened when I read the news that Iain Banks had died. Just two months after he’d announced that he was terminally ill. Just over seven years ago, my Mum was diagnosed with cancer on a Friday and passed away on the following Wednesday. Five days later. But somehow the news about Iain Banks still managed to come as a shock.
Bastard cancer. You’d think I’d be inured to it by now.
I didn’t even know the man.
On the other hand, to call him a hero of mine would be no understatement. Like Lis Sladen, Caroline John and Mary Tamm, he added colour to my life. Starting, in his case, many years ago when I first discovered The Wasp Factory and bought a whole bunch of his books (including Walking On Glass, The Bridge, Canal Dreams, Espedair Street) in one go one sunny Saturday afternoon after browsing the local bookstore in search of something new and different to read. What a haul of riches. I read through that lot like a shot. Then imagine my delight when I discovered that the same guy (with the deft application of a middle initial) wrote science fiction.
Bloody hell. Seventh heaven.
Vast, imaginative, thought-provoking heavens they were too. Whether he was writing in our world or other worlds, I’d never read anything like them.
So needless to say, he was a major influence on me. The first novel I ever completed was a misguided effort to emulate Mr Banks to some degree. Even with the Evil UnLtd, books, serious sci-fi is as key an inspiration as Douglas Adams and Hitch-Hikers. Possibly even greater in many respects. And back in my days of role-playing games, I used to run a Traveller campaign and pinched stuff from the Culture to help colour the official RPG universe. Adding colour, like I said. And to more than my reading experience.
So. Thank you, Iain. You’ll be greatly missed. I haven’t memorised every line of your books like in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 – my brain’s not nearly equal to that task – but rest assured I still carry them with me in my heart and my imagination.
They made a difference. The least I can do now is to try to make some small difference in the fight against cancer.
Last November I launched my Evil vs Cancer campaign, which came to an end on May 24th this year. I’d intended to continue that in some form, donating half of the proceeds to Cancer Research UK. It goes without saying, the books don’t make huge amounts of money and the practical reality is that I need some level of revenue in order to produce the paperbacks. But I couldn’t sit by and allow cancer to claim another hero of mine without doing something.
So here’s me saluting you, Iain Banks, and shaking my fist at cancer again.
For another year (and I'm backdating that to include all purchases that were made between now and last May 24th) I’m extending the Evil vs.Cancer campaign and we’ll be donating the full 100% of royalties from all the Evil Unltd books (all formats) to Cancer Research UK.
You can find links to the various ways you can get your hands, virtual or otherwise, on the paperbacks and/or ebooks by visiting the official Evil website:
Please help spread the word and share links on Facebook, Twitter, blog, email – wherever you can.
Help make Evil do some Good.
Saturday, June 08, 2013
Hats off to 21st century Doctor Who. They’ve really done a bang-up job of making vast armies of Daleks a tiresome trope. It gets to the point where you miss the days when they could only trundle out three at a time. All the numbers amount to nothing and too-simple solutions wipe them all out as well as undermine all the good work done in Rob Shearman’s Dalek to render them scary and formidable again.
Hats off to Steven Moffat then for supplying a scene of a Dalek host and adding on a new twist. It’s one of many moments in the opening of Asylum Of The Daleks that could have spun us off into the whirling vortex titles. “Save the Daleks!” the alien pepperpots cry, to which the Doctor declares, “That’s new.” And we’re off.
It’s a great beginning to the season – and to an episode which then goes on to do much to make the Daleks scary. Worthy of applause for that alone.
The Asylum is built on shaky foundations. The very idea that Daleks would have an asylum for their nutcases is a dubious conceit, but if you can get past that it’s great. Much as the Dalek eyestalks sticking out of people’s foreheads (and egg-whisk guns sticking out of their palms) has a tendency to look a bit silly – but if you can get past that, it’s disturbing and a rare dose of body horror in today’s Who. It works best in the scare department on the reawakened corpses in the wrecked ship.
The Daleks’ own argument for the asylum is that they consider it sacrilege to destroy such divine hatred. Which is tenuous, but on the other sucker arm it makes a twisted sort of sense in the context of the semi-religious spin that’s been built into Dalek philosophy in recent years and, more importantly, leads to a wonderful rationale as to why they’ve never been able to kill the Doctor. So while flawed, this is essentially a case of the ends justifying the means.
Within the asylum itself, there are Daleks in chains and we can pretty much file those under the same category. The whole idea of chaining Daleks, let alone the logistics of other Daleks chaining them, is absurd. It chimes well with the Gothic aesthetic is all and I can only assume it was included for pure visual effect without pausing to think about it much beyond that. The chains fall apart with all the ease of a Dalek army in the face of a feeble plot device anyway, so it’s clear they serve no worthwhile function as a restraint. Luckily the story is a great deal stronger than these trifling weak links.
From the immediate attention-grabbing opening in the mile-high statue of a Dalek in a war-blasted city on Skaro, it’s bold and audacious and whisks up a perfect blend of vivacious wit, dark and atmospheric menace and an intriguing core mystery that will turn out to be the heart of this season’s arc.
And if I’ve used the word ‘whisk’ one too many times, it’s because Moffat also makes a great play on eggs. And soufflés.
Clara is a gem. Even without the prior press announcements she marks herself out here as clear companion material. And even though (first time around) I guessed her ultimate predicament in this story well ahead of the reveal, it’s still a dramatic and touching moment when the reality hits her and we know that (this particular) Clara won’t be joining the TARDIS crew. (At this point, my imagination is drawn to an irresistible but highly impractical ‘what if’: Dalek Clara could have been saved and become the first ever Dalek companion. Oh, the possibilities.)
Still, as roomy as the TARDIS is, there’s no space that could accommodate the two big personalities of Amy and Clara. Revisiting this such a long time after the fact, it’s wonderful to be reminded of how bloody brilliant Karen Gillan is as Amy. And she and Rory (Arthur Darvill, who's always been great even when his character is underused - happily, not the case here) make a great if slightly dysfunctional team. At the time, I recall being a little disappointed to be starting the season with them initiating divorce proceedings and it still stings a little as you really want these two to be happy together. But their domestic situation serves a crucial role as the basis for a brilliant scene in which Rory expresses what we all felt – i.e. that he loved her more – and is duly obliged to reconsider his perspective in the face of Amy’s emotional outpouring.
Ultimately it re-forges their relationship – phew – and it’s a another strong human core to the story, right there alongside the fate of Clara. Kind of like the Doctor, the story has two hearts.
Matt Smith is on tip-top form here. It’s almost like he’s come back after his holidays and enjoys his work a whole lot more than the break. All his avuncular warmth – which I always find quite a quality to pull off in such a young actor – and his Troughton-esque combination of haplessness and authority, gloom and humour are in full evidence and are a perfect complement to the palette of the episode.
There’s a clever final twist as Clara hacks the Daleks to make them forget the Doctor. This aspect of the Doctor’s record being wiped, lowering his profile so that the universe isn’t quite so out to get him all the time, becomes an incidental sideline to the Clara question throughout the series ahead. But examined again this moment is an effective piece of foreshadowing, setting us up for the ‘new beginning’ that we appear to be heading towards in The Name Of The Doctor.
It’s another testament to Moffat’s skills in that, seen so soon after its ultimate resolution, you get a very clear impression of how carefully he constructs his masterplans. It’s all as delicate as a soufflé and could collapse at the slightest provocation, you feel, but the ingredients are way more complicated and the recipe way more involved. And at this point, in Asylum Of The Daleks, I’m convinced he got the mix right.
It’s loaded with potential for more in-depth exploration of mentally disturbed Daleks (if that’s not tautology) and I do feel more could have been done with that. But ultimately it’s family viewing and a step too far in that direction might have led to a lot of disturbed kids.
At the end of the day it left me wanting more and that’s a very laudable quality in both Doctor Who adventures and soufflés.
Dinosaurs On A Spaceship.
Sunday, June 02, 2013
“Change, my dear. And not a moment too soon.”
Timing is everything.
With the recent completion of a major project (Evil UnLtd Vol 3 – ahem) I was going to kick off a rewatch of the latest season of Doctor Who either this week or next. Last night, Matt Smith announced his intention to retire from the role of the Doctor and helped me decide.
What began as a simple mechanism of convenience to explain a cast change has over the course of the years become an Event. Right here, right now, it’s a sad occasion – Matt Smith was (did I really say was?) – is my favourite Doctor since Davison. (For those of you unfamiliar with the show’s past that’s a long time.) It’ll be a shame to see him go. Simultaneously, the prospect of a new regeneration and the whirl of possibilities of who might fill the role creates a surge of excitement. The worst of times, the best of times.
We look back and we look forward. And it’s fair to say that I felt that the show was about due for a major shake-up. The irony being that Matt isn’t what needed to change.
Nor Moffat, before anyone calls for his head. As show-runner he’s made a few mistakes – excessive commissioning of ChrisChibnall scripts chief among them – but for the main part I’ve welcomed and even applauded his stewardship.
That said, reflecting back on this latest series, enduring impressions are of mediocrity mingled with occasional bright spots. When they’re bright they’re very bright, mind you, but there’s a sense of something slipping. Maybe standards. Or is it that I’m more demanding? Well, that’s one of the questions my revisit will aim to answer. But ahead of that I do know one thing for sure that has damaged the series and it’s a) outside of Moffat’s control and b) something I won’t be experiencing as I watch my way through the thirteen episodes over the coming weeks.
Because amongst the many things I am looking forward to is watching these stories minus the massive gaps in between.
That’s right. I am not a fan of the ‘mid-season break’ that’s become a feature of too many of the shows I enjoy. Bad enough we have to wait six months between seasons, to make us wait another six between halves of seasons is plain cruel. AMC’s BreakingBad, for example, is a massive favourite of mine and just when I was getting stuck into the final season they split it and I’m still dangling on a cliffhanger until July. Curse you, TV networks!
This season of Doctor Who began in September 2012, ran for five whole episodes, then whoosh, it’s off again. Barely enough to get you’re teeth into, let alone get hooked. To be fair, the departure of Amy and Rory (boohoo, sniff, it’s all coming back to me now) creates a natural break point and allows us time to mourn their absence (sob). And the Christmas Special was on hand to re-ignite interest in the Clara/Oswin thread and felt like a new beginning. But then we’re left hanging for another four months and Moffat has to supply another new beginning just to get things rolling again.
Now, Clara has enjoyed more introductory stories than any other companion – and I’m all for that. Jenna-Louise Coleman is quite lovely and lends the character a brand of fire and sparkle that’s quite distinct from Amy’s. So on one level the show can keep introducing her if needs be, but all these stops and starts are far from ideal.
The five-episode opening stretch was way too short and it seems to me there’s more pressure on a shorter run to be a lot better. It’d be unreasonable to object to two or three poor episodes in a span of thirteen. But two or three average tales in a meagre handful, I think, would strike as a poorer effort. And that’s my recollection of those first five: three middling middle episodes sandwiched between two good wholesome slices of Doctor Who bread.
Whether that impression holds on a rewatch, we’ll see, but either way I can’t help feeling the broken-up season makes Moffat’s job harder in many respects as well as making life harder on the viewers and harder on the show to attract a loyal following outside of us die-hard Who fans who’ll tune in religiously no matter what. Continuity of interest is difficult to maintain, particularly if you have over-arcing threads to weave. And Moffat does like to weave his tangled webs.
To say nothing of his tendency to half-inch ideas from me. (Intelligent snow from Drift, the Vertibike from Evil UnLtd Vol 2 and there are characters in Emotional Chemistry who aren't a million miles removed from the idea of different iterations of Clara scattered throughout time, although the temporal mechanics are different.) The swine.
Anyway, individual stories have to devote time and attention to reminding us what the hell’s going on with the bigger picture. There’s a danger then of those stories being weakened by all the extra material they have to carry. Still pretty fresh in my memory, for example, is The Crimson Horror (by Mark Gatiss), which I thoroughly enjoyed but which was robbed of some of its punch by the tail-end revelations revolving around Clara and the kids.
Oh, those kids. I really hope they improve when my rewatch arrives at Nightmare In Silver (Neil Gaiman’s Cyber-offering).
Anyway, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are definite highlights that stand out in the mind at this stage and it’ll be interesting to see if those remain the same. I’ll cite them here for the record so we can compare notes at the end of this journey. Asylum Of The Daleks – despite now being a dim and distant recollection – struck me as a strong opener. Amy and Rory’s departure (sob) in The Angels Take Manhattan I recall as fabulous and not a little bit emotional (sniff). I delighted in The Snowmen Christmas Special – and reviewed it at the time. The Bells Of St John’s was a highly enjoyable re-opener. And I was captivated – in diverse ways – by The Rings Of Akhaten, Cold War, Hide, The Crimson Horror and The Name Of The Doctor. And Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS to some extent.
All of which would suggest a high ratio of great episodes. A good second half. But that ‘some extent’ is applicable to most. Because it’s also worth adding that I was variously let down by a number of those latter tales.
Now’s not the time to enter into specifics as, like I say, those initial in-the-moment impressions are subject to change. A rewatch removes expectations and expectations can be a major factor.
But looking back I do see a lot of pulled punches and weak endings. At this stage I’m not sure if it’s an absence of dramatic cost or over-simple or flawed resolutions, but whatever the cause the effect is a kind of dramatic cry wolf. Whereby I am left less invested in each subsequent story as I learn to expect the letdown.
There’s much to be said for pulling the carpet out from under any given story in terms of creating a twist, but you want to do that without leaving that story falling flat on its face.
For all that, my fannish enthusiasm was at least re-ignited in full by The Name Of The Doctor.
While it has, in typical Moffat fashion, raised at least as many questions as it answered, it closed out this season and left a great fizzy taste in the mouth, whetting the appetite for that big 50th Anniversary Special in November. I am fired up for that. Expectations are high. So, no pressure, Mr Moffat.
Obviously in a perfect world I wouldn’t have had a clue about Matt Smith’s departure – whether in that Anniversary Special or the Christmas Special that follows it. I mean, it’s not a huge surprise as it stands – I kind of expected it. But for preference I’d have loved to have been slapped in the face with that in-story, with none of the advance press. But that kind of coup must be close to impossible to achieve in these days of social media and a grapevine that seems to operate faster than light.
But the news is out there now. There’s no undoing that one.
Speculation is of course already rampant and will no doubt fuel even higher expectations. I’ve played my share of Doctor Who fantasy casting, albeit I was only serious about a select handful of them. (IanMcDiarmid, for instance, has always been a terrific choice in my mind. Likewise Richard E Grant – and there’s a story mechanism in place for that one to happen. Rachel Weisz for a female Doctor. Benedict Cumberbatch – more obvious to cast him as The Master, but why be obvious? And Peter Dinklage would be bloody brilliant.) As you can see most of my choices, for different reasons, would fall into the ‘never happen’ category. But it’s still a fun game for the imagination to play.
Whoever lands the role, I do think they need to be a radical departure from the current model. As mentioned, I don’t believe for a minute that Matt Smith was the element that needed changing, but now that it’s going to happen a major shake-up would, in my opinion, be far better than a minor one.
Naturally, I’d like to see Jenna-Louise continue in the role of Clara. I’ll have more to say about her when I reach the end of my rewatch. But beyond that, the conjunction of 50th Anniversary and a Doctor departure presents the greatest opportunity for a series overhaul since its return.
As with casting suggestions, I have my own ideas on the kind of direction the series might benefit from taking. The difference being that, while the list of Doctors remains a fantasy, most of the ideas are eminently achievable.
As it’s Doctor Who, I will continue to contemplate and speculate. And I’ll return – with more thoughts on the subject. But in the meantime I will be engaged in my rewatch of what we now know will be Matt Smith’s final full season.
That may well colour my perspective. Most of all though it will serve as a fitting tribute to the man’s time on the show and a fitting weekly pastime that will bring me closer to those 50th birthday celebrations. Like re-opening some presents before blowing out a whole bunch of candles on the cake.
On which note, I must depart, as I prepare to commit myself to the Asylum Of The Daleks.