the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Doctor Who’ Category



I’ve been teasing everyone for about three weeks now that I learned how to build a Dalek.  Welllll, I didn’t so much learn how to build one as I sat and listened to two guys talk about how they had built one.  It was a panel at Legendary Confusion, a fan run scifi and fantasy convention held in the Detroit area. This con typically has a lot of Doctor Who themed programming, and let me tell you, there’s just something surreal watching a 5th Doctor climb inside a Dalek and drive it around, being chased by a posse of giggling children, most of whom are dressed as Doctor Who characters.


let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Saturday evening was a panel called Dalek!!!, by Alex Drummer and Kevin McCloud. it was basically their adventures in Dalek Building 101.  Here’s what they had to say:

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In the 1970s, the BBC provided plans for building a Dalek, which were intended for high school shop classes. The details plans are now online  (I didn’t write down the exact website, but a quick google search found this, this, and this), along with a huge community of dedicated builders with tips on everything from eyestalks to electronics.  As part of their presentation, they showed slides of the Dalek in different stages of being built.

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This Dalek, which has been to multiple local conventions in the great lakes area, was built as part of a grant.   Inside the base is a wheelchair base, so you can literally ride around inside the Dalek.  It comes apart in three pieces: the skirt, the shoulders and the collar.

The shoulders and the head

The shoulders and the collar.  Yes, that is an antique paint roller and a plunger. the black material that goes around the bottom of the shoulders is a dark mesh, so the driver can see out.



The arm and gun are mounted on foam balls so they can easily be rotated and manipulated from inside. All in all, it cost about $800, and other than the wheelchair base the majority of the bits and pieces came from JoAnn fabrics and Home Depot.

It's hard to see, but this is the inside of the collar. the "J" shaped handles are how you move the arm and the gun.

The  inside of the collar. the “J” shaped handles are how you move the arm and the gun.


During the panel he took the Dalek apart and then at the end everyone was allowed to go up and see the pieces up close.  In fact, it had to be taken apart, because the base is 2″ wider than a normal door frame. Then we carried the pieces out into the hall, put it back together, he climbed inside and drove it around followed by a giggling, shrieking posse of children, many of whom had come right from Masquerade and were still dressed in their Doctor Who themed costumes.

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fuzzy picture is fuzzy. you’ll just have to trust me that this was beyond adorkable.

Sea DevilsDoctor Who and the Sea Devils by Malcolm Hulke

published in 1974

where I got it: purchased used









Having recently watched the Utopia/Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords episodes without much context, I wanted to learn more about The Doctor’s relationship with The Master (Yes, I’m one of those annoying newb fans who discovered the show in the 2000s).  While thinking on that, I came across the novelization of The Sea Devils story arc. “The Master” was on the back cover, so of course the book had to come home with me!

It’s funny, being a “new” Doctor Who fan.  I don’t have any visual context for the classic story arcs. From the descriptions and illustrations in the book, I can figure out that this was during Jon Pertwee’s time, but having never watched or heard him, I don’t hear his voice or see his mannerisms while reading. But you know what? that was okay. Being able to regenerate, the Doctor is fluid, able to wear different faces and speak with different voices.  Also, reading this and not watching it, I was able to fill in the special effects with my imagination, and not worry about not-so-hot tv special effects!

anyway, onto the story!

After the events of Doctor Who and the Demons,  The Master has been imprisoned in an island chateau. A  beautiful prison built for one, he faces a sentence of life imprisonment, and of course his jailors have no idea that what a “lifetime” means for the Master.  Nearby is an oil rig and a small Naval base, and fishing boats have recently gone mysteriously missing.  The Doctor and Jo Grant arrive, to both investigate the missing boats, and to check up on the Master, to make sure he hasn’t tried to hypnotize anyone working at the chateau.  Which is pretty much exactly what’s happened. The Master has already convinced the governor of the luxurious prison, the weak willed  Colonel Trenchard  to help him make contact with the underwater creatures, to the point where Trenchard helps him steal parts from a nearby Naval Base.

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I rewatched one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes the other night, “The Girl in the Fireplace”.  In this episode, The Doctor, Rose, and Mickey arrive in an abandoned spaceship. The crew are nowhere to be found but an immense amount of energy is being expended to do, well, something.  It’s discovered the different windows in the ship look into 18th century France and focus on the life of Reinette, soon be known as Madame de Pompadour.

Hello little girl! ehhm, what year is it?

Hello little girl! ehhm, what year is it?

When the Doctor first discovers the connection between the abandoned wreck and Reinette, she’s a little girl, maybe 7 years old, and she sees him through her fireplace.  They talk a moment, the connection is broken, and a few minutes later the Doctor is able to speak to her again. It’s been just minutes for him, but for Reinette it’s been weeks.  The Doctor saves her from a mechanical automaton that states it’s waiting for her to be completed.

The mystery of the episode is what happened to the crew of the ship? What’s with all these beautiful clockwork automatons who are planning to kill Reinette when she’s “complete”? And why in the world would a ship be obsessed with the life of Madame de Pompadour?

clockwork automatons may be totally creepy. . .

clockwork automatons may be totally creepy. . .

. . . but are in fact rather empty headed

. . . but are in fact rather empty headed

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Long story short – It was ah-maz-ing.   another weekend of my geekgirldreams brought to us by the very hardworking folks at Stilyagi.

but, in case you are interested in the short story gone overly long, here ya go:

Last year at ConFusion I was about authors, authors, authors, and just for good measure more authors (also, one particular author, but that’s a different story). But this year I wanted to branch out a bit and see what else was going on. Luckily, the programming made that even easier for me. The sheer variety of programs and panels was amazing. There was an entire Science track, a Doctor Who track, lots of guest artists doing artwork in the hotel atrium,  and a Studio Ghibli movie marathon on top of all the amazing author readings and “such-and-such in Sci and Fantasy” panels.  And the best part? I was totally cool about this year. A little bit less of the running up to authors and babbling ohmygodIloveyourbookssomuchwillyoucomehomewithmecanicookyoudinner going on. Also, I cosplayed for the first time. Now that I’ve worn a tail, I can see why people don’t want to take them off.

Friday afternoon was saying hi to friends, hitting up the dealer room, finding the consuite (on the first floor, down the hall from all the panel rooms = WIN) and playing “spot the famous person” (omg, there’s John Scalzi! and he has a ukelele!). I made it to 2 panels on Friday, Fun with Liquid Nitrogen, and the Opening Ceremonies of the Con.

Liquid Nitrogen with Dr. Jennifer Skwarski.   I always thought if the stuff touched you, that part of your body would shatter off. not so! (wait, scifi movies lied to me??) Apparently you can splash it all over your hand and be OK, although I don’t recommend trying that.  Also, it makes a really neat snapping noise when splashed all over the floor. Demonstrations included the amazing whirring around ping pong ball, frozen vodka, frozen soap bubbles, crunchy expanding balloons, and of course making ice cream!

The epic immersion blender of awesome.  Also, liquid Nitrogen ice cream! Epic brain freeze.

The epic immersion blender of awesome. Also, liquid Nitrogen ice cream! Epic brain freeze.

Not too much to say about the Opening Ceremonies, except that Mary Robinette Kowal had the best ever marionette story.  I’m hoping she posted it on her blog somewhere, because if I try to tell it I’ll mess it up, and also it’s not my story to tell.  And, Yes, she had her Hugo. Perhaps it was a prop for this?   Also, Charles Stross has a really cool accent.

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Doctor Who and the Masque of Mandragora by Philip Hinchcliffe

published in 1977

where I got it: purchased used

why I read it: I is a novice Whovian







I love it when I pop into my local family owned bookstore and they say “we just got in a ton of classic scifi, come take a look!”  So up to the attic I went,  startled a sleeping cat (every bookstore should have a cat. or two), and found an entire shelf of classic Doctor Who books.  But which to choose? my first Doctor was Eccleston, and these books predated him by about 30 years.

They all looked great, and were in like-new condition, so I randomly chose Doctor Who and the Masque of Mandragora.  How could I say no that dazzling smile?  Now that I’ve read it, I can’t wait to go back this weekend and get another one. or two.

This book is based on one of the TV serials, but I’ve only ever seen a few minutes here and there of the older Doctor Who tv shows.  How can I call myself a Doctor Who fan if I haven’t seen the originals?  Eh, as far as I’m concerned there were only three Star Wars movies ever made.
The back of the book gave the basics of the plot,  The Doctor and Sarah Jane (what a wonderful surprise, I love her!!) get sucked into the Mandragora Helix, fly the TARDIS right through it, and accidentally take some of the Helix energy with them.  The TARDIS lands them in the middle of a beautiful orchard in 15th century Italy. On the property of a family going through a power struggle. As an uncle and nephew fight to rule, a court astrologer is trying to take power for himself through the local pagan cult. Throw in some very hungry and mildly intelligent Mandragoran energy, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a disaster that only the Doctor can fix.

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As usual, it’s been a wonderfully book-y couple of weeks. Thanks to Quercus books and PYR I got some much anticipated ARCs:

I feel privileged to have  gotten an ARC of Mazarkis Williams’ The Emperor’s Knife, it looks incredible.  Epic fantasy, but not as we know it (or at least, not exactly).  Tattoos that take over your mind as they take over your body, intricate games, battles of the mind. . .   this baby just got jumped to the top of the TBR list. 2011 has been a year of incredible epic fantasy for me, and so much of what I’ve read has been the first or second book in a series, with the next book expected sometime in 2012/2013.   I love that every year it just gets better and better!!

Mike Resnick’s The Doctor and the Kid is the sequel to last year’s The Buntline Special. A wild wild west full of steampunk inventions and Native American magic, it’s not the deepest thing you’ll ever read, but it was a helluva lot of fun.  Westerns typically haven’t been my thing, but Resnick’s Doc Holliday rocked my world.

My fave local family owned bookstore wooed me with “we got in a whole ton of classic SF, come on by and take a look”. Good thing I left my debit card at home, otherwise I would have bought a car payment’s worth of classic SF. I managed to walk outta there with just these two: Read the rest of this entry »

Doctor Who: The Forgotten (graphic novel),  by Tony Lee with artwork by Pia Guierra

published in Nov 2010, from IDW

where I got it: purchased new

why I read it:  simply couldn’t resist.





I either need to stop going to the comic shop, or just start signing my paychecks over to them.  And come on, could you say no to this? Do you really I could say no to this? didn’t think so!

Finding themselves in a strange museum and with no sign of the TARDIS, a fascinated Martha Jones wants to go exploring, but The Doctor finds he’s lost his memory. He knows who he is, knows what he is, but he can’t seem to remember anything before his current regeneration.  Even stranger, they find this is a museum dedicated to The Doctor himself! Along with the artifacts, keys, seals and stones is a room with images of all of the Doctor’s previous incarnations, and special items they carried – an umbrella, psychic paper, a cat brooch, sound familiar? Martha suggests he take a good look at the objects, perhaps it will help bring back his memories.

As Martha pushes The Doctor to remember everything he can as fast as possible, it quickly becomes apparent something much more sinister is going on.  The museum is crawling with Autons, spiders, Clockwork Men and video cameras. Someone is watching, and waiting.

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In continuation of my post from yesterday,  specifically my teary eyed pseudo love letter to a handsome, mysterious, and nameless gentleman (well, he has a name, I just don’t know what it is) who has left me forever, it thrills me to say

I found you Number Ten!!

at the comic shop!

Sometimes you just gotta blow your entire month’s entertainment budget at the comic shop. you just gotta. And I don’t know about you, but I think this is the perfect addition to my ongoing obsession. see?

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doctors wife

I’m pressed for time today, but here are a few quick thoughts on last night’s Doctor Who episode, “The Doctor’s Wife”, written by the wonderful Neil Gaiman:

  •  Idris, I think her name was?  LOVED  everything about her! her verbal mannerisms, a little mad, a little doctor-y, and right when she first meets The Doctor, she’s talking all funny and fast, sounding a little like when the Doctor regenerates and has to get used to his new body.  Even her name sounds a little like the name of the big blue box.  You think you stole a doctor and ran away? adorable! brilliant!
  • Anyone else think she looked just like Helena Bonham Carter? And damn am I thankful that she wasn’t dressed in Tardis Blue.
  • Do you think River would be jealous of Idris or do you think they would get along?  They both know the Doctor’s real name (or at least I assume Idris does), yet The Doctor calls Idris sexy, and just calls River sweetheart.  Speaking of River, what was it that Idris said? The only water in the forest is in the river? or something like that? And then the poor woman was just so thirsty at the end, desperate for water. interesting. . .
  • The voice of The House (brillaint freaky scary character, btw), is it just me, or did he sound just like the Cat from Coraline?
  • Idris and the Doctor flying through space and time in a half-assed, barely put together, nearly walless,  partially floorless, roofless and doorless TARDIS?  the freakingest awesomest thing EVAR! (at least this season).
  • End of the episode was a bit of a dues ex machine cop-out.  Neil Gaiman I love you to pieces, but sometimes your endings are less than awesome.

And lastly,  number 10, I miss you so much.  number 11, you’ve got the wacky, you’ve got the adventurous, you’ve got the “I’m the madman with the box” down.  But you’re missing what made this show for me: the tragedy. the dark. the rage.  Number 10, you knew the universe burned so bright as to be blinding, and yet you never stopped staring at it with eyes wide open.  And you knew that brilliance was only possible because between the stars lied the darkness, where your regrets and your sorrow and your family called to you from the depths of your memories, of who you are, and what you chose to do.  That darkness and regret and tragedy and rage that you carry with you Number 10, that is what drew me into this show. And I miss you. I miss you like the bluest daytime sky misses the star light, like the desert cries for the rain,  like the dark side of a lonesome planet misses the warmth of the sun.   Matt Smith, I find you a fine actor, but sir, you are not my Doctor.

I have no content today. No witty post or nicely written book review. it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, I’m wearing sandals, and  I think I might go to DQ for a dipped cone later.

anyways, let’s throw some weekend questions out there, just for shits and giggles, shall we?

what’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?

what book are you most looking forward to for the remainder of the year?

what’s in your garden?

who is your favorite Doctor? (if you’re suddenly thinking dentist? optometrist? just skip this question)

and here’s a pretty picture for you, stolen fresh off the interwebs:

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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.