Out Now: Doctor Who – The Complete History #26

Sometimes – just sometimes –  Doctor Who produces an artistic masterpiece, an ideal infusion of great writing, great acting, and great direction. I say “just sometimes”, but Doctor Who does it pretty often actually. Just in recent years, we’ve had Heaven Sent, Listen, and Mummy on the Orient Express; going back to the Eleventh Doctor era, we had The Eleventh Hour, Vincent and the Doctor, The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang, The Doctor’s Wife, The Girl Who Waited, The God Complex – and into Series 7, two stories that are covered in the latest issue of Doctor Who: The Complete History.

Issue 26 includes behind-the-scenes details of four stories from Matt Smith’s era as the Doctor, late in his reign. And these are serials I think are massively underrated, all from Series 7. Yep, I loved Series 7, and got very annoyed at all the negativity online. I hope the stories will be reevaluated soon and get more praise.

Here’s what The Complete History Volume  73 includes; see if you can pinpoint which two I think are “artistic masterpieces”:

The Rings of Akhaten

On a distant world, Clara meets Merry Gajelh, the Queen of Years, who must sing to keep a god from waking. But is it a sacrifice, not a song, that is required…?

Cold War

On board a Russian submarine, an Ice Warrior is revived, and despite the Doctor’s warnings, the crew go on the offensive.

Hide

The Doctor and Clara arrive at Caliburn House in 1974. A house that is haunted. Inside, a ghost hunter and a psychic are looking for the legendary Witch of the Well…

Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

When the TARDIS is taken as salvage by the van Baalen brothers, Clara becomes lost in its depths and the Doctor must find her before the ship’s engines explode, destroying them all.

So which do you think? I’ll give you a clue: they’re written by the same guy. Okay, so that’s not a clue; that’s a giveaway.

It’s The Rings of Akhaten and Hide, the former of which is particularly divisive. But I don’t care: I think it’s beautiful. People have asked for a musical episode for years, and I was firmly against it; then it happened and people disliked it.

Neil Cross’ other WhoHide, is widely acknowledged as being blummin’ fantastic though, right? It’s got a superb cast and stunning direction. And it’s a clear tribute to Nigel Kneale! Yep, a true modern classic. I wish Cross had time to write another story…

I also love Cold War, though. Mark Gatiss’ Series 7 stories were really strong, and I particularly enjoyed this base-under-siege, with a great score by Murray Gold and an apt reinvention for the Ice Warriors. Then there’s Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, which initially really impressed me – except the van Baalen brothers and that odd part-robot plot strand. Still, the Doctor and Clara are as brilliant as ever, and it’s shot exceptionally well. And we get to see the Eye of Harmony, which is always good.

This issue of The Complete History isn’t an especially thick one, but is nonetheless thorough, complete with eye-catching photos and introductory artwork – highly recommended, as usual!

Doctor Who: The Complete History #26 is out now, priced £9.99 in the UK or $24.99 in Australia and New Zealand.

  • FrancoPabloDiablo

    Sorry, but Akhaten is crap. Cold War is good. Hide is great (though ‘that’ mispronunciation still annoys me – you know what I’m talking about) and Journey is watchable and a hell of a lot better than Invasion Of Time when it comes to TARDIS interiors.
    All in all, fine but nothing to write home about in this issue.

    • Dr. Moo

      “though ‘that’ mispronunciation still annoys me – you know what I’m talking about”

      I assume that’s the planet. Don’t you have better things to do than complain about how Smith and Pertwee have different accents to each other?
      Let me put it on record now – at risk of contradicting myself – that I say “scone” to rhyme with “gone” and “one” and that anyone who doesn’t do so is wrong.

      • FrancoPabloDiablo

        Sorry, didn’t realise my frustration about the pronunciation (not accent, there is a difference) was such a sore point for you. Didn’t mean to upset you. Had I known then I would never have made that flippant and tongue-in-cheek remark in the first place. I’m just going to go now and do those better things I have to do 🙂

        • Philip

          Oddly enough, the Metabelis one doesn’t bother me. What does, however, is Capaldi’s pronunciation of Tivoli in Before the Flood. Surely he watched God Complex?! He’s a big fan!!

          • FrancoPabloDiablo

            Y’know, I’ve never even noticed that one. Straight after work I’m going to have to go back and watch both God Complex and Before The Flood now! No doubt I’ll be equally miffed if what you say is true. At this rate I’m never going to get the chance to do any of the better things I should be doing! I apologise to my respected fellow commentator Dr. Moo in advance for any future tirades regarding this subject 🙂

          • bar

            Given people on this planet can’t agree how to pronounce places – Caribbean for example – I can’t get worked up about the Doctor having a senior moment. Besides, I’m from a county where the eccentric pronunciation of placenames is an art form. But don’t let that stop you tirading Franco; it’s an essential skill of a true fan 😉

          • Dr. Moo

            You stupid idiot you. 🙂

            I actually hadn’t noticed that one either. Doesn’t bother me that the Doc (“Don’t call me ‘Doc’ my dear boy, hmm!”) might pronounce certain unimportant things differently on different incarnations any more than having the 11th’s estuary accent transform into the 12th’s scottish.

  • Dr. Moo

    Some good stories, some bad.

    I have a soft-spot for The Rings of Akhaten – the beautiful visuals and a stunning soundtrack save its questionable plot.
    Cold War is decent enough at the base under siege subgenre and stands as one of Gatiss’s better efforts but I’ve seen better and doubt it would so well regarded as it is by some if not for bringing back the Ice Warriors; David Warner’s good in it though.
    Hide is the best story of series seven, scary and moving in equal measure – people need to get over how Matt says a particular planet’s name, are you really so sad that you choose to take issue with that?
    Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS looks great and has an interesting concept but never lives up to its potential – Matt and Jenna just about salvage it from total failure and make it worth watching.

    So overall a passable set of stories but there are so much better ones out there that I’d be more interested in getting. And is anyone else curious about why they start this volume straight in with The Rings of Akhaten? Surely that would go better in a volume that covers The Snowmen and The Bells of St John instead since they form a loose trilogy of how Clara becomes the new companion!

  • Paul Mount

    Your misplaced Moffat bias is showing. The episodes you reference are mediocre at best, reheated themes and ideas Moffat has run into the ground because he had little if nothing else to work with.