Archive for July, 2012

Mary Tamm

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

The recent death of Mary Tamm after a long battle with cancer marks a solemn conclusion to a brief but memorable tenure with Doctor Who. Tamm’s Romana, as much as Hartnell’s First Doctor is the definitive incarnation of her Time Lord, the blueprint devised by Graham Williams and Robert Holmes without which we would not have had the re-interpretation (some might say continuation) by Lalla Ward, and mimeses portrayed by the likes of Michelle Ryan and Alex Kingston.

Sometimes dubbed the “ice maiden”- partially from her debut on the snowbound planet Ribos, Tamm’s Romana was refinement and composure at a critical time for Tom Baker’s portrayal of the Doctor. It has become trendy of late to dismiss much of the Williams era for offering too long a leash to its star, of indulging the more ridiculous and self-conscious side of the Fourth Doctor. Tamm’s circumspect high-achieving student was an excellent foil to this Doctor, as much a counterpart as her would-be opposite Leela. While the character would inevitably be ‘softened’, an aspect Tamm was reportedly less than keen on, her attitude to a universe she has yet to experience first hand changes through the Doctor’s influence. We should acknowledge that the transformation is as much in Tamm’s hands as its result – a regeneration and the tightest unit in Who history. All in six stories.

This isn’t to ignore the importance of Tamm’s and Baker’s working relationship, which by all accounts was as mutually easy as that of the star and Lis Sladen. The two shared a similar sense of humour, a common intelligence and regard, and the playful element of their infamous BBC inside ‘Christmas Who’ tape speaks for itself. The Fourth Doctor and First Romana were recently reunited by Big Finish for the second season of Fourth Doctor audio adventures which, alongside roles in Gallifrey and two Companion Chronicles, mark the only Who outings for Tamm in character; having made the transition from the series after a short tenure, her career continued without the curse of the Who Girl stereotype. As with the recent passing of Caroline John, it’s bittersweet consolation that we have not yet heard the last of a much loved and admired companion.

Fast Return – June 2012

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

No, I can’t quite believe it either. I must be mad. So what’s new?

Courtesy of Dave.

After three years of faffing about in Deepest Darkest Sussex with a crotchety housekeeper as his de facto companion, it seems Paul Magrs’ AudioGo Fourth Doctor is taking the year off. This may be no bad thing, especially given courtesy of Big Finish we’ve had eight new Tom Baker audio stories this year already, with the promise of Tom’n'RomanaOne next year AND more Tom’n'Leela in 2014. Not to mention that 2013 will, apparently, see Magrs return to the series and the possibility of James Goss doing something unrelated with the Fourth Doctor also for AudioGo. Or not (who knows?) If ever there were a Time Lord equivalent of a bus…

…which reminds me; if Magrs doesn’t arrange for Iris Wildthyme to meet the Fourth Doctor then there is no justice!

We’d not be so ignorant as to overlook the wondrous casting of David Warner, Dame Diana Rigg and Rachael Stirling in the forthcoming series (even if it is for the mixed blessing of a Mark Gattis script…) but isn’t all of this casting happening worryingly close to the last minute? Corrections and admonishments welcome!

Still struggling to summon enthusiasm for NewWhu this year. Maybe if, I dunno, we had an airdate to count down to?

Is it us, or is Benjamin Cook (‘DWM‘ to those of you reading at home) better at new series interviews than classic series ones? Aside from Tom Baker, who gives so much of himself, and Sylvester McCoy, the recent interviews with Sophie Aldred and William Russell have been a bit… ‘meh’, as the kids say these days. It’s a far cry from passing Alex Kingston DWM‘s own pack of Doritos on set in Utah…

When last ZeusBlog covered the ongoing saga of Shada there were no versions out on general release save for the TSV novelisation and the old bonkers VHS boxset. Now of course there’s a book by Grobbits, an audio of the Grobbits book read by Lalla Dawkins, an unofficial and never-to-be-released personal animation made at the behest of Ian Levine (seen by a rare few) and, yet to be released, the official 2Entertian (insert new name) version, out soon. Will it be picked up by a fan audience? The ones who aren’t completists anyway I mean? Time will tell, but ooh – try and get a proper conversation going on GallyBelly about it and you just know how these things turn out!

And finally…

Now, everybody knows that scoring reptiles from the dawn of time is the devil’s job, but occasionally, you get it right. John Williams produced a memorable score for Jurassic Park that, while technically proficient, didn’t for us strike the required Carey Blyton-esque angle. Until now, of course (bravo, sir). Back in Whoville marrying scales, both musical and Eocene is still a challenge. You might not have liked The Hungry Blood/Cold Earth much, or maybe you did, but try and tell us that this sequence, rescored with music from that infamous Silurian plodder from yesteryear Warriors of the Deep, doesn’t make the whole thing suddenly work!