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Doctor Who American Adventures Book

‘Doctor Who: The American Adventures’ Review

Did you know that originally Doctor Who was created in order to teach history to children? The First Doctor traveled back in time to places like the ancient Mayan civilization and cavemen. The BBC had initially intended him only to travel backwards in time for this purpose.

Obviously, in modern Who, the Doctor has free reign over time and space (except for 1930’s New York… d’aww!). Those of us itching for Series 10 with Peter Capaldi and new companion played by Pearl Macke can get a quick fix with the new BBC book, Doctor Who: The American Adventures written by Justin Richards. The fun of this book extends to younger fans, as it is actually a fairly easy reader style chapter book. Again, the Doctor shoots back in time in order to teach kids about history, only this time with an American focus.

Travel Through Time

The Doctor pops back to the days of the California Gold Rush and the travelers on the Oregon Trail. (No one dies of dysentery, thankfully!) He shoots into the future of Florida in 2017… with no mention of who wins the Presidential election, darn. He even pops in to a World War II military base as troops prepare for D-Day. He meets many new creatures and friends along the way.

The book is kid-friendly too! Reading to my second grader, the stories are engaging and make for quick bedtime reads (although Mommy does a terrible impression of The Doctor, apparently!). The cadence is the only thing that is tough for Americans, as it is definitely written in British English and style. The Doctor is true to character, with plenty of mention of his infamous eyebrows. Doctor Who: The American Adventures harkens back to the First Doctor’s intent of bringing history to life for kids, and it encouraged my son to want to learn more about the Oregon Trail. Time to break out the Apple II e! Doctor Who: The American Adventures is available TODAY wherever books are sold!

Press Release

Spectator Sport: the Doctor finds himself, among other time travel tourists, on an invisible spaceship observing the Battle of New Orleans… and must stop a would-be assassin from killing one of the Throne Lords aboard.

All That Glitters: when a gold miner in the mountains of Colorado begins behaving strangely after picking up an odd metal object found in a stream, it’s up to the Doctor to save America from hostile alien takeover.

Off The Trail: a dust storm blows an Oregon Trail-bound family of wagoneers – and the Doctor, in his TARDIS – to a scary alternate reality, and they must together prove to their captors that humans won’t be held captive without a fight!

Ghosts of New York: workers digging the tunnels for the New York subway in the early 1900s report seeing ghosts and refuse to work any more… enter the Doctor, his psychic paper, and an ancient spaceship hell-bent on returning to its home planet.

Base of Operations: the Doctor tracks a strange alien signal coming from U.S. army base where soliders are waiting to be deployed for the 1944 D-Day landings – only to find that the aliens have already begun replacing U.S. troops with their own kind.

Taking the Plunge: a ride at 1980’s Disneyland called the Space Plunge is draining the life essence from the people who pass through it – and the Doctor is forced to duke it out with a gun-totting maintenance man who’s less human than he appears.

All about the BBC book Doctor Who American Adventures.

Picture shows: Peter Capaldi as the Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara.

Will Doctor Who be in the Lego Movie?

The internet was abuzz with a meeting of giants. Giants of pop-culture, that is, as it was hinted that Doctor Who might play a part in the next Lego movie. The story broke on io9.com, though the headline promised more than the article could deliver. Namely that director Rob Schrab “teased that Warner Bros. and the team behind the movie are currently in talks with the BBC to negotiate an appearance by the Doctor in the sequel.”

They are in talks to negotiate a deal … that could be anything from close to closing, up to the saga of peace talks in the Middle East. Factually, it is nothing. At least not until all parties sign on the dotted line.

Yet some fans were already breaking out the bubbly to celebrate. But, let me ask this heretical question, would a merger of Doctor Who and the Lego animation franchise really be a cause to celebrate? I don’t think so. There, I said it.

 

 

Don’t get me wrong, I am a fanboy for both … I love my Lego (and can’t want to get my grubby little fingers on the Doctor Who set), and I love Doctor Who (especially in his Capaldi-incarnation, which already kicks plastic butt on Lego Dimensions). But(t) still, shoehorning the Doctor into the brightly coloured Lego multiverse on film? Thanks, but no thanks.

From a franchise point of view it all seems to make sense: Lego can draw a few more nerds into the cinemas (or at least in front of the small screen), who’ll be satisfied with a mere fly-by of the Tardis and a wee crack from yon Doctor. And adults may chuckle at the odd in-joke, while kids will go screaming “It’s Doctor Who!” anyway. The sales of any Doctor Who available in Lego will get a boost, and even the venerable Doctor Who franchise may get a boost in return, by curious Lego fans discovering that it is bigger on the inside …

Win-win?

From a commercial point of view, certainly. But then, from a commercial point of view, the BBC might as well continue negotiations to also bring Sherlock to Lego (and the Cumberbitches will follow in droves). Throw in some EastEnders and all financial worries might be gone …

What I am more worried about is the reaction of fandom … will the Lego incarnation of the Doctor become part of the canon, or will it be derided and ignored, suffering a fate similar to the Ninth Doctor in Scream of the Shalka? Just in case you never heard that scream, Richard E Grant actually was the Ninth Doctor according to the BBC, until the Welsh took over. Or will it be viewed with the amused affection generally reserved for the Joanna Lumley (“I think I can see the On switch!”) version of the Doctor in The Curse of Fatal Death?

My money is on a short-term money-spinner that’ll work fine for both the BBC and Lego … and a ripple in fandom that will be felt as a great disturbance, but lose its force quite fast. Then quietly fading away, to become a minor footnote in the Doctor Who universe, canonical or not.

Unless … well, unless Lego and the BBC are indeed hatching greater plans. After all, we had (albeit straight-to-video) Batman movies by Lego. And that might prove very divisive indeed. With kids loving them, no doubt, adults being more lukewarm, and fans possibly going “Meh! Meh!”

Having said that, you never know which way fandom will swing. At the end of the day, creating a Doctor Who section in the Lego multiverse might be the best idea since sliced bread. Or at least since wearable technology replaced dodgy sonic screwdrivers.

Picture shows: (l-r) Jenna Coleman as Clara, Peter Capaldi as The Doctor. Adrian Rogers, © BBC/BBC Worldwide 2014

Essential Episodes for ‘Doctor Who’

New To ‘Who?’ Here’s Where to Start!

A friend asked me recently, knowing I’m a Whovian expert, for some quintessential Doctor Who episodes to introduce someone to the series without getting too deep into the massive story arcs. Here is the list I came up with and the rationale behind each suggestion, which are not necessarily in any order.

1. “Blink”: This one is obvious. It’s not very Doctor heavy, but it’s a beautiful story, and it introduces people to not only the time travel aspect, but to one of the major baddies in the Who-niverse: the Weeping Angels. Bonus mention for the Doctor-ism involving “Wibbly wobbly timey wymey… stuff”.

2. “The Girl in the Fireplace”: Brings up the whole idea that the Doctor’s time stream isn’t that of the rest of the world and reminds viewers that he can pop in and out of people’s lives and still change them forever. Extra points for the transgendered horse.

 

3. “Fires of Pompeii”: This one I suggest because it introduces two great actors that become important later on in the show, Karen Gillan and Peter Capaldi. It’s a story where the Doctor gets to show his mercy, and it centers around one of history’s greatest natural disasters. Plus, Donna sass.

4. “Dalek”: A good Nine story that introduces viewers to the Daleks and why they are even mentioned in the later years.

5. “The End of the World”: This one brings people into Rose’s character a little bit, gives some of the great Doctor-isms such as “air from my lungs” and “moisturize me!”, plus it’s a little bit like hitting up the cantina in Star Wars. We get to see lots of neat alien life having a night on the town.

6. “Eleventh Hour”: We meet the eleventh Doctor, we meet Amy Pond, we see the remnants of a regeneration that don’t involve sleeping, and we fight off a bad guy. All good stuff. Extra points for “fish fingers and custard”.

 

7. “Let’s Kill Hitler”: A good intro to River Song without getting too deep into her storyline, lots of great action, and Hitler gets shoved into a closet. Fun times. Alternate River Song intro that doesn’t need her story line (but is SO MUCH WORSE to watch after you know it!) is the Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead combo. These ones rank equally in my brain.

8. “The Doctor’s Wife”: What else is there to say but the Tardis becomes humanoid for a while. Sexy!

9. “Closing Time”: A one-off with a former friend of the Doctor, but it doesn’t delve too much into the history for the casual watcher. We get Cybermen, we get Cyber Mats, and we get Stormageddeon. Enough said.

10. “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”: A triceratops that plays fetch, in space, with Nefertiti. You can’t beat that.

11. “The Doctor’s Daughter”: Fun if only to point out that David Tennant marries the actress who plays Jenny, who happens to be the daughter of former Doctor actor Peter Davidson. Plus, more regeneration learnin’.

 

12. “School Reunion”: K-9. That’s all. Oh, and Sarah Jane Smith. Nothing like bringing in a former companion from the classic series. But K-9. We all love K-9. He’s a good robot dog.

13. “The Shakespeare Code”: We needed some Martha in this list, and this episode is one where I think she shines bright. We get to see a bit of her conflicted feelings for the Doctor, but in a way that doesn’t need backstory. Includes funny Shakespeare bits that are amusing to anyone who has been past freshman year in high school.

14. “Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel”: An alternative introduction to the Cybermen, with some alternate universe fun thrown in.

15. “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances”: Jack Harkness and “Are you my mummy?” creepy kid. Mostly Jack Harkness. He’s just awesome. More Jack awesomeness can be found in Bad Wolf, but there’s more story involved there, especially with Satellite 5. To get Satellite 5 info, The Long Game needs to be seen for it to make sense, which is a good idea for those wanting to read the comics (it comes into play in the fiftieth anniversary illustrated novel Prisoners of Time).

16. “Vincent and the Doctor”: This one is feels-heavy and beautiful. If someone doesn’t cry at the end of this episode, check them for Cyber parts, because they are a ROBOT. The Doctor and Amy try to convince Vincent Van Gogh (Van “Goth” if you’re British) that he’s an amazing artist and person, trying to save him from himself. Viewers never look at sunflowers the same way after this one.

 

Yes, a new Whovian will need a whole weekend to get through these, and probably the following week to recover from the feels inflicted therein. If they aren’t insisting on owning something with a Tardis on it after this binge, unfriend them immediately. No one needs that kind of negativity in their life. Oh, and then show them Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. Any episode will do. Instant love!

 

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