Friday, June 8, 2007

Doctor Who and pulp fiction

Good evening America. This is Gabriel with a secret communique broadcasting live from the Flying Reaper's radio room.

Doctor Who may be British sci-fi (there is a distinct FEEL to British sci-fi but that's another article for another day)but it's obviously been influenced by the great pulp novels/comics of yesteryear. Super science, horror, space opera, mystery... It's all there people.

Take the following TV episodes for example
  • The Talons of Weng Chiang is quite entertaining. You have murderous crime syndicates, a time-displaced mad scientist, giant rats, an animated doll filled with murderous intent. All of which set during Victorian Era England!
  • Mask of Mandragora, set in 15th century Italy involves a violent cult, courtly backstabbings and an alien entity.
  • Pyramid of Mars is a real cracker of a story. Robot mummies, otherworldly entities which were worshipped as Egyptian gods and madman with the power to destroy worlds.
  • The Daemons has the hero facing down apparent demonic creatures which seek to lay waste to the planet if Earth fails to pass judgement.
  • Horror of Fang Rock is a chilling story of an alien creature stranded on Earth with plans of making it into a base of operations against another alien race. Set during the Edwardian Era, the dialogue is engaging and delightful.
  • Ghost Light, back once more to the Victorian period, the intrepid hero races to find out what is causing the madness in a decaying mansion filled with evil.
  • Image of the Fendahl has a scientist studying an ancient skull with a pentagram on its crown which is apparently the remains of a monstrous entity from an alien culture's mythology. It's not a coincidence that the Fendahl and the Fendahleen look something straight out H.P. Lovecraft's writings.
  • The War Games A gentlemanly war is more than it seems as the hero discovers soldiers from other eras.
  • Black Orchid, another Edwardian Era story this time involving a dark family secret which is hidden in the secret passages of a sprawling mansion.
  • The Abominable Snowmen 1920s Tibet is the backdrop for a dangerous mission investigating the strange occurrence of the Yeti.
  • The Green Death has a supercomputer gone insane in a bid to take over the world by any means necessary.
  • The Android Invasion pits the hero against robotic duplicates running among in an English countryside

See the obvious influences? Supercomputers, robots, bizarre mysteries, science run amok!

Something else that's quite interesting is Doctor Who & the Invaders from Mars. An audio drama published by Big Finish, it tells the tale of the Doctor in New York.

It's 1938 and the Doctor & Charley land in NYC. They run afoul of mobsters with some odd technology and it turns out the Halloween invasion transmitted over the radio was, in fact, a real invasion from Mars! Well... Sort of.

The dialogue is witty and quick, the story immersive and fun. The voice acting... well. God bless the British but the attempt at American accents is laughable and corny.

The Martians sound exactly like something out of an old time radio show and they fit perfectly in the grand scheme of the story.

I highly recommend Doctor Who if you desire a nice change of pace with regards to Sci-Fi and Horror.

1 comment:

Don said...

You know what I like about Dr. Who? That theme song.