30 December, 2008

TSV 61

TSV 61 was added to the online archive earlier this month, eight years after its original publication in December 2000. This allowed the issue’s limited selection of festive content to once again appear seasonally relevant. Witness in particular the Karkus doing battle with a Cyber Santa; many years before the Cybermen got to appear in a televised Doctor Who Christmas story!

Alistair Hughes’ cover artwork is a superb pastiche of the film poster for Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and promotes the extensive coverage of the Prime television screenings of every complete Hartnell and Troughton story during 2000. I’m resisting calling them repeats since eight stories (The Keys of Marinus, The Aztecs, The Sensorites, The Web Planet, The Chase, The Gunfighters, The Dominators and The War Games), had never previously screened in New Zealand - and to date none of these have rescreened either. (How about it Prime - isn't it time for some fresh screenings of episodes made before 2005...?)

In the previous issue I put out a call to readers to write up their views having watched each of the stories on Prime. Vernon McCarthy and Gerald Joblin both sent in brief pieces, and Robert Boswell contributed the bulk of the issue’s coverage. Robert had written several pieces for TSV in the past, but as he was outside the regular pool of writers appearing in each and every issue, he brought a relatively fresh perspective to the subject. Robert did such a sterling job of critiquing the Sixties Prime stories that I invited him back to cover the 1970s stories for later issues.

The highlight of the issue though, and an item that continues to this day to attract much interest from readers, was the coverage of the Seven Keys to Doomsday play. The 1984 staging of this Doctor Who production in Porirua had been overlooked by fans for many years. It later transpired that several readers knew about the play and members of the Wellington Doctor Who club chapter had inherited props from the production, but I for one remained completely ignorant of its existence for sixteen years.

TSV’s intrepid investigative reporter Graham Howard discovered the facts about the play, tracking down and interviewing theatre director Brian Hudson. The interview arrived along with a stack of black and white photographs, photocopies of the programme booklet, newspaper clippings and adverts all related to the production. I was only able to use a limited selection of this material in the article (more of which appeared in a later issue when Graham interviewed actor Michael Sagar who played the Doctor in the play), but the addition of this issue to the online archive has meant that all of this material can at last be displayed for all to see.

In September 2000 a discussion thread about the play started on rec.arts.drwho. Alden Bates (who posted to the thread) recently linked to it in his blog and I was astonished to find a posting from myself on the thread. I have absolutely no recollection of writing that post (the memory’s obviously not what it once was), though I’ve no doubt it was me who wrote it. It’s obvious I think that when I posted that message I had no knowledge about the play’s existence, and my reply reads as if I’m sceptical about the veracity of the rumour. In hindsight this seems rather unintentionally rude towards Alden, who posted a couple of newspaper clippings as evidence that the play actually existed. I’m sorry, Alden - you were of course absolutely correct.

The timing of the rec.arts.drwho thread is intriguing, as Graham’s article about the play appeared in TSV just two months later. I don’t recall a late change to the content, but work on the issue must have been well under way at this point, implying that the play article was a relatively late addition to the line-up.

Elsewhere in the issue, the Disc-Continuity Guide column made its last appearance in print. At this point it was already in the process of transforming into a comprehensive online guide to the Big Finish audios. (The last update to the guide was in 2005.) It was also the end for regular book reviewer Brad Schmidt, who decided to call it quits following a two-year stint during which he wrote 46 book reviews, some of which were originally credited to ‘James Schmidt’. I initially shouldered the task of reviewing the books myself but struggled to find the time to read all of the new titles in time to review them on top of everything else I needed to do for the issue, so I was very grateful when Jamas Enright volunteered to take over as TSV’s regular book reviewer.

Read the issue here.

Fellow TSV 61 bloggers:
Alden Bates
Jamas Enright

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