Home : Archive : TSV 51-60 : TSV 55 : Review

DWM Review

By Paul Scoones

  • DWM 264 (6 May 1998) Doctor Who in America, Richard Franklin, Michael E. Briant, The Faceless Ones 5 telesnaps, The Claws of Axos Archive, The Final Chapter 3
  • DWM 265 (3 June 1998) The DWM Awards, The Final Chapter 4
  • DWM 266 (1 July 1998) Revenge of the Matrix Data Bank, Paddy Russell, Donald Pickering, Wanda Ventham, The Faceless Ones 6 telesnaps, The Aztecs Archive, Wormwood 1
  • DWM 267 (29 July 1998) Spiking the Canon, Barbara Clegg, Paul Cornell, Shada Archive, Wormwood 2
  • DWM 268 (26 August 1998) Sex and the Time Lords, Katy Manning, Mervyn Haisman, Rodney Bennett, The Time Monster Archive, Wormwood 3
  • DWM 269 (23 September 1998) David Fisher, Nerys Hughes, Simon Rouse, Peter Wyngarde, Junior Points of View 1, The King's Demons Archive, Wormwood 4
  • DWM 270 (21 October 1998) Barry Letts, Ken Grieve, The Making of Auton 2, Junior Points of View 2, The Twin Dilemma Archive, Wormwood 5

Two exciting events stand out from the latest crop of issues; the largest ever DWM survey results and the shock debut of a Ninth Doctor in the comic strip.

The promised ‘USA Special’ in issue 264 was a bit of a fizzler, being no more than a list of Stateside series connections and an article combining a brief overview of the show's screening history in the USA with contemporary anecdotes from a USA convention. Gary Gillatt's article demystifies the very odd practice of pledge television (wherein viewers are implored to donate money telethon-style to keep the show on air) and examines American fans' distorted perceptions of the series caused episode runs which are both incomplete and often fail to follow story order. Anyone thinking we've had it bad on TVNZ only has to look to the USA to have cause to revise that view.

Issue 266's lead feature will undoubtedly have seemed rather familiar to the readers of TSV 53 just a few months earlier, as Andrew Pixley presented a reworked version of his A Question of Answers piece, imaginatively laid out in DWM with a Trivial Pursuit board game theme, and no mention of Peter Cook in sight! For the record, Andrew was originally ‘commissioned’ by TSV, and afterwards sold the similar piece to DWM.

In addition, the prolific Mr Pixley continues his ever-reliable series of Archive features, notably including the unfinished Shada in a bumper-length instalment that details at length the escalating problems that caused the eventual cancellation of this turn-of-the-decade story. Issues 269 and 270 also see Andrew chronicling the often cringe-worthy comments of youngsters on the long since defunct Junior Points of View television feedback show. As a time capsule of contemporary adolescent opinions of the show - a sort of ‘Class 4G for the sixties’ as it were - the overall impression is one of unfettered negativity towards Doctor Who. We can only assume that the BBC did not attribute much if any weight to these views, otherwise the programme might not have survived its first few years!

Spiking the Canon is perhaps the longest-awaited article in the history of the magazine. First promised for issue 245, it finally saw print in 267, nearly two years later! Touching on the various permutations of Doctor Who which fall outside the TV series itself - everything from abandoned stories to novels, comic strips and stage plays - author Steve Lyons evades drawing up any directives for assessing the canonicity of these mediums. This is a wise move in light of the hotbed of controversy in fandom over the so-called ‘canon’. The suggestion of a set of rules was instead provided by a certain Mr Preddle in the letters pages a couple of issues later.

Issue 267 also featured a rare and very welcome author interview, with Paul Cornell, who provided some very insightful and intelligent views on the New and Missing Adventures. Novelist interviews like this are conspicuously absent from DWM, aside from occasional brief snippets alongside the reviews. Obviously such material doesn't appeal to every reader, but the fact that the books continue to be published regularly each month is clear proof that there is an interested readership is out there. More, please!


The best...

1.Genesis of the Daleks90.12%
2.The Talons of Weng-Chiang89.21%
3.The Caves of Androzani88.51%
4.Pyramids of Mars86.90%
5.The Robots of Death85.44%
6.Remembrance of the Daleks84.86%
7.City of Death84.76%
8.The Tomb of the Cybermen84.26%
9.The Evil of the Daleks84.22%
10.The Web of Fear84.00%

and the worst...

1.The Twin Dilemma43.68%
2.The Space Pirates44.08%
4.The Underwater Menace45.48%
6.Time and the Rani48.86%
8.Paradise Towers49.55%
9.The Gunfighters49.97%
10.Delta and the Bannermen50.78%

A recent and most welcome innovation in the magazine's actor interviews has been to reunite performers who appeared together in certain stories to share their reminisces. Recent pairings include Kinda's Simon Rouse and Nerys Hughes and The Faceless Ones/Time and the Rani's Wanda Ventham and Donald Pickering. Regular interviewer Peter Griffiths has a knack for capturing the experience of meeting and conversing with his subjects that captures the actors' personalities and projects such a vivid immediacy that you almost feel that you've experienced the interview ‘live’. There's also a sense that underneath the light-hearted banter, the responses are that much more candid and honest for having a second person there to back up or deny the veracity of any anecdote.

The results of the largest ever survey of Doctor Who fandom appear in issue 265, a visually striking ‘Awards Special’ which makes for very interesting and thought-provoking reading. The top ten omissions of previous chart-toppers such as The Deadly Assassin, The Curse of Fenric and The Ark in Space is a surprise, as is the inclusion of no less than three Troughton tales. Unexpectedly, Genesis of the Daleks is number one, beating out Caves of Androzani, Pyramids of Mars and Talons of Weng-Chiang. The issue also includes the New and Missing Adventure novel survey results, which is, I believe, the first of its kind to encompass the entire range of both series. Human Nature deservedly comes top of the NA poll, whilst Transit unjustly languishes at the bottom.

As with any opinion-based ranking, the survey results have been met with some controversy in the letters pages, though not as much controversy as has greeted current developments in the comic strip. The strip has gone from strength to strength this year, enlivened by the ongoing story arc involving the sinister and ubiquitous Threshold. The Final Chapter had a shocking and unexpected conclusion with the apparent regeneration of the Doctor! The new ‘Ninth Doctor’ took on the appearance and costume of the future Doctor, modelled on fan actor/writer Nicholas Briggs (as seen some years earlier in issue 173's Party Animals strip). Scott Gray's subsequent Wormwood story has continued the shocks in abundance, exposing the secrets and plans of the Threshold for universal domination and revealing that all is not as it first appears. The strip has taken on a complexity that negates reading single instalments and boasts a story arc that currently spans over three years worth of issues, and is crying out for a book of collected reprints at some stage.

Retrospectively, the closing comments of the Gary Gillatt interview in TSV 52 take on a whole new depth of meaning...

This item appeared in TSV 55 (October 1998).