The new issue of Doctor Who: The Complete History finds us in the middle of Leela’s time on our favourite show: rioting about paying tax, winking at Benedict Cumberbatch’s Mum, considering prawns for dinner, and singing something by The Lighthouse Family.
If you hadn’t guessed by my particularly on-point clues, here are the tales Volume 27 of this 80-issue partwork covers:
Horror of Fang Rock
On a remote island, the occupants of a lighthouse and the survivors of a shipwreck fall victim, one by one, to a ruthless alien that has the ability to transform its appearance.
The Invisible Enemy
When the Doctor is infected by a sentient virus, clones of himself and Leela must journey into his own brain to confront the enemy.
Image of the Fendahl
Attempts to unlock the secrets of a skull that predates the birth of man release the Fendahl, an ancient evil that could destroy the world.
The Sun Makers
The human population of Pluto is subjugated by extortionate taxation, imposed upon them by the ruling Company, so the Doctor and Leela lend their hands to the rebellion.
This is a pretty popular time on the show: despite their behind-the-scenes rows, Tom Baker and Louise Jameson are superb, and a genuine joy to watch. The book features at least two highly-respected productions – but let’s agree to disagree about which is which.
Why? Because Horror of Fang Rock was a bit of a disappointment to me upon first viewing. It’s gone up in my estimation since, but it’s still lacking something that would propel it into the big leagues. It’s at least nice to see the Rutans. It’s thoroughly atmospheric, but nothing compared to… Image of the Fendahl.
Ah yes. One of my favourites. I’m a sucker for Chris Boucher. Even though, on first viewing, I was scratching my head slightly. I enjoyed it as a product of 1970s horror, but I think I must’ve missed a bit somehow. On second viewing, I caught everything, and I re-evaluated it. Turns out, it’s brilliant. Who knew, eh?! Yeah, you’ve got to look past Wanda Ventham’s eyelids; otherwise, what a wonderful Nigel Kneale-esque masterpiece!
Similarly, I wasn’t initially sure of The Invisible Enemy either. I’ve always hated the idea of shrinking and exploring the body. Brr. Scientifically nuts and creepy too. But then I watched it, and I loved it. Yeah, that’s right. It’s a barmy yarn, but fun enough, and that’s the important thing. It looks pretty cool too (yes, even the Nucleus, shush), and it’s the introduction of K9! Y’know, I actually read its Target novelisation in November 2013, as part of my 50th anniversary celebrations. No, I don’t really know why either, but it made me smile.
As for The Sun Makers, it’s a nice little satire, and you can always rely on Robert Holmes. However, it does look dull. The corridors are just… tedious. It’s a solid story though, so as long as you pay attention, it’s good.
What do you think of Horror of Fang Rock, The Invisible Enemy, Image of the Fendahl, and The Sun Makers?
Doctor Who: The Complete History is out now, priced £9.99 in the UK, or $24.99 in Australia and New Zealand.