What? What?? WHAAT??! December gone already? Spoilers ahoy!
What? What?? WHAAT??! December gone already? Spoilers ahoy!
Self-proclaimed Earthonomist Mister Copper is heard to say mid-point through this year’s festive special that ‘Christmas is a celebration of violence’. Having viewed RTD’s latest efforts I’m in no position to argue the negative.
…it goes without saying that that should also have a North Pole. And who’s to say gallifrey isn’t one of those planets? And if they do have a North Pole, then who should live there but this guy? Oh some fan will tell you there’s a festival in the New Adventures called ‘Otherstide’ or somesuch, but we’ll let them ramble on in the dark to themselves. No, it stands to reason that Rassillon is and was the real Gallifreyan Santa – he has it all – the white whiskers, the grotto, the booming laugh, the presents scattered all over the place, and if anyone knows who’s naughty or nice, he proves himself quite up to the task.
Cod theories aside, a very merry Chrimbo from all of us at Zeus Blog. And a safe one. We’ll be back in a few days with a review of Voyage to the Bottom of Kylie, or whatever it’s called (give us a chance, we are hemispherically challenged after all!), and our inaugural Fast Return wrap-up for the year, and then before we know it it’ll be 2008. Change – you, me, everything. Zeus Blog will still be around, so stay tuned…
Before anything else can be said about the latest issue of RTP, heartfelt congratulations on the silver issue and tenth year of publication has to come first. Important milestones of which everyone involved should feel justifiably proud and deserving. God rest ye, merry gentlemen!
In the always entertaining letters page David Ronayne makes an impassioned, and as it happens successful, case for dropping the ‘alternative NZ Doctor Who Fanzine’ from the masthead. It’s a good letter, but untimely for my review because given that the ‘other’ New Zealand Fanzine celebrated a significantly numbered issue and very important birthday, and saw its release on practically the same day as RTP 25, it’s very difficult not to make comparisons.
So I’ll refrain, except to say that I have always seen the ‘alternative’ moniker in the same context as ‘alternative lifestyle’ or ‘music’ without ever having thought of RTP as a specific ‘alternative’ to the other three-lettered Fanzine. It just isn’t.
So having established what RTP 25 isn’t, what does it offer?A great Cyber-head on the cover, for one, proving that simple is often best. Interesting how the shape of the ‘jug handles’ subtly echoes the RTP logo – just lovely.I’m running out of good things to say about Peter Adamson’s Cydonia, the current instalment of which concludes in this issue. Adamson’s use of black and white (without ever having to hide behind mid-tones as some of us do) is exquisite, and if the anatomy is sometimes a little too stylised, the always-stunning composition of frames and pages more than compensate. The one page ‘preface’ offers an absorbing and concise account of the history of this wonderful strip, without ever sounding self-congratulatory – although it has every right to be.I couldn’t believe my luck to find another David Ronayne Torchwood article, and enjoyed it even more than his first one. The tone is positive and as well-reasoned as ever, even if once again I couldn’t agree with everything. I might be straying dangerously close to a comparison to say that this coverage of Torchwood is one of RTP’s extremely welcome points of difference.Some may find the substantial TARDIS Tales material a little too much of a good thing, although I couldn’t resist the warm nostalgic glow that long-ago tales of Saucer imparts, and my admiration for Graham’s work has been increased by this look at the man behind the chicken. Whether by accident or design, the Christmas-related illustrations lend RTP 25 a very welcome festive feel, which a sentimental old fool like me always appreciates.I noted with some amusement that the interviewers name shares equal billing with the interviewee on the excellent Fandom Paradox piece, but in reading it I see that this is fully justified. Full marks to Peter for wording questions which are equally as interesting as Kelly’s answers!AH
Was it the Rolling Stones who once sang ‘you can’t always get what you want’? Yes Peter, it was. Be that as it may, we here at ZeusBlog Terraces say there’s no harm in a little festive hand-wringing, and in the spirit of all those packs of handkerchiefs consigned to the bottom drawer of last year’s Christmas presents, we say – why not hope for the best, even if it’s a hope against hope? ‘Where there’s hope there’s life’, as the Third Doctor could have said (but didn’t), and so with thoughts of life in the old new series yet, we present a few choice snippets from our wish list to Santa for 2008:
“My Christmas wish is that Series 4 can do for the Sontarans what Series One did for the Daleks. Don’t treat them with over-familiarity – that only breeds contempt. This is an opportunity to give a ‘classic monster’ a fresh new start and show the Nu-Who viewers why us old buggers loved them so much. Granted, the press call for the new look Sontarans was a bit of a mis-fire, but I’m betting they’ll look a lot better in the flesh. So don’t weigh them down with pointless continuity (I’m looking at you, Rutans) or allow the script to be written by someone who is well over them(Sorry Mr Holmes, you were brilliant in most other cases). Let’s have more Linx then Stor, more Styre than Stike, in a thrilling adventure in time and space!”
As for me I say:
“I’d like a new story arc please. The previous ones have been good, but they’re starting to get a bit whiskery, and with the promise of [REDACTED] returning to the series and the knowledge that one solitary surviving Cult of Skaro Dalek out there could still spoil things for everyone, and that there’s probably a bit more about the Time War we could hear about despite the angsty Northern Doctor leaving the show for good – not to mention that Ring, I reckon it’s time for a new direction – particularly if as suggested recently, [REDACTED] might be thinking of moving on soon. So, that and giant robots, please.”
Finally from us, here’s Jamas:
So what about you, readers? Yours please…
October 2007 marked the tenth anniversary of Christchurch fanzine Reverse the Polarity! -not bad for what used to call itself the ’alternative’ zine in this country. While it has also just hit issue 25, ten years’ survival is more than noteworthy – after all, its nearest counterpart in longevity was the same age when RTP! began.
In honour of this, and of its diamond year, here are ten factworthy notes about RTP! associated around the number 10…
1. Ten years old. Hard to believe that the venerable TSV itself was only ten years old in 1997. RTP! started life trailing its older sibling by fifty issues and, unbelievably, has maintained that distance to this day. Decade – TSV’s tenth anniversary issue was reviewed in RTP! issue 1, as was the final issue of Telos (which reached a final score of 15 issues)…
2. …which means that beyond initial editors Matt Kamstra’s and Wade Campbell’s desire to beat Telos‘ run, RTP! has – as of issue 25 in fact done so by ten.
3. Issue 2 saw the debut of Brendan Gibbons’ wonderful Cyberguy, which ran for a glorious ten installments before disappearing forever. Ahh, shame.
4. Issue ten saw the debut of Alex Ballingall’s first solo cartoon series, Aquaman
5. And we are now ten issues since the debut of stablemate Bob the Suicidal Dalek.
6. Ten cartoons. Not comic strips, no sir – so besides the ‘serious’ fare of Pulp Who, Cydonia, Myrhh and others the roll call follows: Birdy, Saucer, Cyberguy, Spliff and Nutmeg, Ergon, Aquaman, Bob the Suicidal Dalek, Teletubbies in the Death Zone, Unconvincing the Animatronic Cat and – just about to make his feature debut, Cyberman the Kroton.
7. And speaking of hiatuses, ten issues ran in slick timing before RTP‘s own period of silence, with the departure of Alex Ballingall to Japan, and the disappearance of Matt Kamstra, who would not return to the editor’s chair after issue 11.
8. But back to Cydonia for one more time. 2007 marks the tenth anniversary of Cydonia last appearing in Telos. At (ahem) twelve years old, Cydonia is surely NZ’s longest-running Who comic strip. And it’s about to finish at last. In the pages of RTP!
9. Issue 25 is ten issues past the conclusion of Pulp Who (from issue 2) the longest serialised comic strip to date.
10. Finally, ten years since TARDIS Tales ended, and its star Saucer Smith launched RTP! as its first cover star. A full retrospective has just finished on the strip series in issue 25, with a new collection out soon through RTP!
News this week of a license for Cubicle 7 to produce an official Doctor Who role playing game (RPG) is a more than mildly interesting development. RPGs based on the series have been attempted twice before, almost at either end of the game format’s Eighties heyday.
US company FASA were first off the block with Doctor Who, based around existing rules (and artwork…) they’d developed for their Star Trek game. While not relying on the polyhedral dice of other contemporary RPGs, FASA’s game stuck to the basics with options for playing any either a Time Lord or Companion, and using the Deadly Assassin conceit of the Celestial Intervention Agency to set ‘missions’ for its players. Also, like many systems of its time there were lots of rules and tables and charts. Doctor Who the RPG was very much action oriented, earning it the amusing nickname on RPG.net of ‘The A Team in Space’. It had its fans – and still does, but the license was short-lived.
Post-Classic series the most recent attempt was Time Lord, a much-stripped down version offered in a novel-sized book of the same name written by Ian Marsh and Peter Darvill-Evans. Once again utilising old school six-sided dice and your actual pens and paper, Time Lord was self-contained and brought gaming the series up to date with the last of the original series – all seven Doctors, companions and a generous bevy of classic monsters. If simplicity was part of its appeal, then the rest would have had to have been the faithful way it used the series’ non-violent agenda – battles with aliens were often one-sided and deadly to the player characters, so clever thinking was the order of the day. Additionally, the skills of ‘Bench Thumping’, ‘Screaming’ and ‘Bottomless Pockets’ were a fine acknowledgement of the series’ quirks and strengths. If anything though, Time Lord probably failed by arriving late in the day for the RPG fad. Computer games were becoming more sophisticated for a start, and latching a game on to a programme that was assumed dead and buried probably did the rest.
Fast forward to today, and while role playing games remain, their format and mechanics have undergone a great deal of revival – the d20 system, a sort of open source gaming option based around a twenty-sided dice, is the most popular format, although it has its detractors as well. In aditon to this, the marketing of an RPG in this day and age is not without its challenges – a significant number of posters on the Doctor Who Forum thought that the game would be computer-based and were scratching their heads for a while. According to Cubicle 7 the game will be based on the new series first, with development to take in the classic series further down the track. D20 may not be used, but, cognisant of the awkward fit of FASA’s version the developers are keen to have a game which is not based on another franchise’s conventions and game mechanics. Playing the Doctor is a tricky ask, and even human companions are cut from different cloth than your typical skills-specialist RPG character, so it will be interesting indeed to follow their take on the character, the series and just how playing the Universe’s greatest smart-alec (new series version especially) can work.
[Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space's developer Dave Chapman has a blog dedicated to the game's creation: Heart of the TARDIS]
FAMOUS LAST WORDS?
“she’s gone, Al – let it go!”
( Peter Adamson, September 2007)
WHO NEEDS FAN SPIES TO SPOIL FUTURE DVD RELEASES…
…when you can do it yourself, right Colin? (2entertain must be fuming!)
Is it just a coincidence that Christmas Special guest star Kylie Minogue’s new number one hit is called Two Hearts?
THE COVER LOOKS GOOD ONLINE…
…but we bet TSV 75‘s wraparound looks even better in person.
Forget the ’three companions for the price of one’ breaking news… the story we loved was that pop sensation Lily Allen was going to be the Doctor’s travelling companion. So is the rule of the new series companions ‘chav on, chav off, chav on….’?
WE’D NEXT LIKE TO RUSSELL TO SAY…
“Paul McGann return to the series? It’ll never happen.”