It has been a Christmas tradition in the UK on and off again for more than fifty years. The Doctor Who Christmas Special returns for another episode this Christmas Day, available in the states on BBC America. This year Fathom Events has teamed up with BBC to bring the show to movie theaters, for two days only. So you can watch it in television in traditional style and/or see it a few days later on the big screen. One of several Doctor Who screenings held by Fathom Events over the past three years, it’s as close as Doctor Who fans can get to experiencing a full-fledged Doctor Who movie.
Superheroes is the theme of this year’s entry, as revealed in the trailer below. “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” features the 12th Doctor played by Peter Capaldi, but without his normal companion Jenna-Louise Coleman. The good Doctor teams up instead with a journalist played by Charity Wakefield (Wolf Hall, Sense & Sensibility, Jane Eyre), and the duo teams up with a new superhero to defend Earth from another alien threat. The show co-stars Justin Chatwin (Orphan Black, War of the Worlds), Matt Lucas (Alice in Wonderland, Doctor Who, Galavant, Community), Adetomiwa Edun (The Hour, Bates Motel, Law & Order UK), and Aleksandar Jovanovic.
The theater screenings will take place at 7 p.m. local time December 27 and 29, 2016. Check out the Fathom Events website here for theater locations and to purchase tickets.
Here is a preview of “The Return of Doctor Mysterio:”
In the 1960s it was not unheard of that television stations like the BBC in the United Kingdom did not retain footage of television series. Film reels were thrown out instead of storing shows for archival purposes as we do today. The greatest volume from one series is probably from Doctor Who, where nearly 100 episodes were lost. But thanks to fans recording the audio of the shows at home, plus film stills and the odd found footage, the stories themselves remain. In the case of one legendary tale, The Power of the Daleks, the BBC decided to animate the tale and distribute it for a new generation of Doctor Who fans. Premiering in full this Saturday, November 19, and beginning November 20, on BBC America, viewers can stream the entire six-part series, and tomorrow night you have one chance to view the new animated version in theaters.
Thought to have been lost forever, The Power of the Daleks is the missing third serial of the fourth season of Doctor Who. No complete film recordings or master negatives of The Power of the Daleks are known to have survived an archive purge in 1974. This brand new animation is recreated from original audio, photographs, and surviving film clips. The Power of the Daleks has never been shown in North America in any form.
An original clip of the lost Doctor Who serial “Power of the Daleks.”
Fans of any iteration of Doctor Who will want to see this series for two key reasons. First, it is the first rejuvenation of a Doctor, here showing Patrick Troughton transform into the Second Doctor. Second, fans first realized the true darkness behind the Daleks, who would remain the greatest foes of the Doctor and his companions to this day. Also featured are companions Polly (Anneke Wills) and Ben (Michael Craze).
Check out this quick preview:
If you have someone who is awesome enough to make Adam Baldwin’s famous, cunning, Jayne Cobb knitted hat from Firefly (as we did back in 2013 here at borg.com) then you may have a chance to go back to that special person another time to get your Doctor Who fix and add some convention-appropriate garb to your stash for future events. With the Jayne hat, it’s double the fun to have your mother (or other relative or friend) hand-knit the hat, since it was Jayne’s mother who created the hat for him as part of the TV episode.
This time, it’s the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, and his famous knitted scarf, worn by every fourth fan at every respectable Comic Con you’ve ever attended. And Petronella Osgood in “The Day of the Doctor.”
Baker, who appeared on BBC’s 50+ year, sci-fi classic Doctor Who from 1974 to 1981 as the Fourth Doctor, is currently crossing franchise streams, voicing the large, wise creature called the Bendu on the DisneyXD animated series Star Wars Rebels.
Wil Wheaton at a Con in his own copy of the Fourth Doctor’s scarf.
But Baker has become synonymous with that scarf. Unlike the pattern that has become the accepted duplicate of Jayne’s hat throughout the land of knitters (the original wasn’t production-made so no original instructions exist although an accepted version is easily available on the Web), the BBC actually handed out the pattern instructions to knit your own Tom Baker scarf back in the 1980s. Thanks to an article from Tor and two bloggers posting their memories over the past several years, below you can download the instructions that the BBC gave out to what must have been a routine inquiry from fans over the years.
Time travel. It’s a fun sub-genre of science fiction when it’s done right. NBC and the CW have dueling sci-fi series entering the Primetime line-up beginning this month. On Mondays, NBC airs Timeless, a story about a historian, a computer expert and a soldier acting as timecops as they try to correct changes in history via a time machine in pursuit of another–stolen–time machine. On Wednesdays the CW airs Frequency, based on the 2000 sci-fi sleeper and cult movie starring Dennis Quaid. Both are from the creative minds of Supernatural showrunners, and both series began this week with powerful openers. We think both are worth adding to your weekly watch list. The challenge will be maintaining their respective concepts for a full season.
Timeless hails from Supernatural creator Eric Kripke and The Shield creator Shawn Ryan. Abigail Spencer leads the cast as a historian much like you’d find in a Connie Willis novel, pulled into a secret time travel project. Someone (Goran Visnjic) kidnapped a scientist played by genre favorite Matt Frewer, and Homeland Security, including a smartly cast agent played by Sakina Jaffrey (Sleepy Hollow, Mr. Robot), enlists Spencer’s character, an insider IT guy (Malcolm Barrett) and soldier/protector (Matt Lanter) to find them–in the past. Compared to Star Trek and Doctor Who this show is Time Travel Lite–no complex knowledge or thought required. The time travel prime directive seems to be that the timecops cannot travel into a time in which they previously existed. So no do-overs.
You can’t beat a nicely done re-creation of the Hindenburg disaster. Even better, a re-imagining revealing the disaster never occurred. Timeless didn’t waste any time, starting off with a single episode story focused on a historic event and it appears that will be the draw of each episode. We saw elements of TimeCop, Timeline, Continuum, Quantum Leap, Doctor Who, Terminator, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow in the first episode alone. It works and it’s fun. There’s something adventuresome about Timeless in a Young Indiana Jones vein. Timeless did miss one opportunity here: Why not begin with the Hindenburg crashing on a false historic date and then land on the real date of the disaster for the ending? That would have been a heck of a trick, but it shows much more can be threaded into this series. We know from Star Trek and Doctor Who that time travel is twisty and full of possibilities. Timeless needs to embrace what its savvy audience already knows–and keep the focus on the fun.
We’ve seen some celebrities turn to the unlikely medium of comic books to tell their stories recently. First, we saw Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Darryl McDaniels turn to comic books to tell his own story under the DMC label. Then Congressman John Lewis wrote a graphic novel about the civil rights movement called March–winning countless awards this year. Now basketball legend and activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has adapted Arthur Conan Doyle’s Mycroft Holmes into the next best steampunk comic book series.
Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook, co-created with writer Raymond Obstfeld, artist Joshua Cassara, colorist Luis Guerrero, and lettered by Simon Bowland, is the ultimate mash-up of 19th century science fiction and fantasy motifs. Sherlock’s smarter brother has been kidnapped by Queen Victoria, tasked with deciphering a building full of broken doomsday machines capable of doing the unthinkable. Think Warehouse 13, if a suave Brit (think James Bond), with a quirky analytical mind (think Doctor Who) is plunged into a world-ending event and an impossible task to solve.
Mycroft Holmes reads like Bill Willingham’s Legenderry–A Steampunk Adventure and Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, only with five issues to speed through the story the action is quick, the dialogue is brief, and the banter is witty and fun. Abdul-Jabbar, who became a fan of reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories early in his NDA career, grew to become a connoisseur of 19th century fiction including Holmes and his infamous brother, enough to write the novel Mycroft Holmes–A Novel with screenwriter Anna Waterhouse, published last year. Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook takes Mycroft on a parallel-world adventure from the Mycroft of Abdul-Jabbar’s novel.
Review by C.J. Bunce
In a thick 459 pages, British author Daniel Godfrey begins a new time travel series full of twists and turns in New Pompeii, his first novel from a major publisher (Titan Books). Billed as a novel in the tradition of Michael Crichton, New Pompeii is evocative of Crichton’s early novels, but more closely follows the plotting and style of the time travel science fiction novels of Connie Willis (Lincoln’s Dreams, To Say Nothing of the Dog) and the pacing of a Tom Clancy thriller. Fans of Crichton’s Timeline and Westworld, Philip K. Dick’s short stories and his novels Time Out of Joint and Man in the High Castle, Doctor Who’s “timey wimey” stories and films like TimeCop will appreciate this new entry in the time travel and parallel universe sub-genres.
Despite a daunting 75 chapters, New Pompeii is a quick read. Godfrey follows Nick Houghton, a history scholar who has yet to earn his doctorate as he is inexplicably courted into joining a venture with a corporation that promises the impossible–Novus Particles plucks people from just before the point of death and brings them into the present, cheating the timeline manipulation restrictions like the field trips in Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder.” Think Philip K. Dick’s Paycheck meets Final Destination. The company is not a secret–it is well documented that it saved a flight of passengers from a plane crash. But why are all the survivors now committing suicide? Who is the ghost student that has been emerging from a bathtub at a college campus over the course of thirty years? And how do you hide an ancient civilization in the modern world?
Told in short, alternating chapters from the perspective of Nick as he walks among ancient Romans in a secluded Eastern European town in the present day, and college student Kirsten Chapman as she appears unstuck in time across a span of time periods like Jennifer Jones in Portrait of Jennie or Billy Pilgrim in Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s Slaughterhouse Five, the truth behind the corporation’s purpose is slowly revealed. You won’t find a lot of complexity in the time travel elements here, which makes this appealing for the most casual sci-fi reader. Fans of any Star Trek or Doctor Who time travel story will be familiar with the rules here.
Get thee to the comic book store tomorrow!
It’s that time of year again. It’s time for the annual pilgrimage to your local comic book store for Free Comic Book Day, this Saturday, May 7, 2016. Dozens of new books are available this year, for kids of all ages. Like these:
Alan Tudyk has a new comic book out called Spectrum. He talks about it here:
And despite what you hear below from that familiar guy from Reading Rainbow, most comic book stores will let you select more than a few issues, not just one:
WELCOME TO EARTH-4
A Column by J. Torrey McClain
I saw The Witch last week and I got a few true scares. I also felt a little sleepy at a few points due to a big meal beforehand, poor sleep hygiene at the moment and possibly, possibly, due to the movie and its time period. It has made me wonder, when in the history, present and future of the universe is the best setting for horror?
I’ve written before on horror in the future when I looked at A Walk in the Dark by Arthur C. Clarke. (I won’t make myself shudder by mentioning spooky little girls again.) As I wrote about in that essay, the compelling element of that story came from its application to any time period. The dark scares us. The dark scared us. The dark will continue to scare us.
The future can be scary in its own period as any watching or re-watching of Alien can stir up the tension and fear of meeting with the unknown on the fringes of space. If not a xenomorph, maybe it’s the weeping angels of “Blink” or the Vashta Nerada of “Silence in the Library” from Doctor Who that get you. The future combines the unknown of our nightmares with the familiarity of the present (video stores, libraries, kitchens) set in just enough of a different place to make it believable. When won’t we have libraries? (In the presence of eBooks, after Netflix all but eliminated video stores, I maybe should have kept that question to myself.) When won’t we gather with others to eat? When won’t we watch video entertainment?
The present scares me because I can insert myself into the world of self-documentation like in The Blair Witch Project or the world of the omnipresence of cameras in the various Paranormal Activity movies. As I type, someone could be scoping me as I scrutinize my screen, attired in a Kingdom Come Superman shirt. Properly spooked, I may throw in the towel on this essay, go to my bed, open my Spanish language-learning app and get watched through the camera on my phone. I could put the phone face down and still not solve the possibility of someone watching me through the rear-facing camera as I crack open one of those library books that pedants might argue as far-fetched.
The most fun of all the great new lines of toys coming out of this past weekend’s annual Toy Fair toy show came as a surprise. We were expecting several new Funko ReAction figure toy lines like we saw last year, but that didn’t happen. Instead Funko revealed a great new partnership–a team-up with classic children’s toy figure company Playmobil. Playmobil brings to the table the classic style of its figures and Funko brings the famous brand licenses they are now known for in their Pop! bobbleheads and ReAction lines.
Just check out these properties: Back to the Future… Sherlock… Doctor Who… Supernatural… Willy Wonka… Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles… Ghostbusters… Fallout… and The Walking Dead… all to be available in Playmobil figures! Not only is this a new line of figures, the figures will be released in a new six-inch format, retailing at $14.99.
Check out these images of actual figures revealed at Toy Fair, and spec sheets for other figures coming soon to a toy store near you:
If you missed the pilot for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow this week you can still catch it now. Bringing together nine characters from the CW’s Arrow and The Flash, plus the new time traveler Rip Hunter, the CW has provided a venue for a very comic book concept–the weekly team-up. And other than the Arrow and The Flash themselves, this new series has pulled together probably the best of the secondary characters from those shows.
Doctor Who’s other last companion Arthur Darville leads up this new team. It’s as if we get to see Darville portray the Doctor himself, at least an American view of the British series. The Comic Con crowd audience is provided plenty of familiar encounters and situations that reflect classic tropes and scenes. Seattle’s Space Needle aka Star City is the launch point for this new team composed of Brandon Routh’s Atom, Caity Lotz’s ex-Black Canary now the White Canary, the one-two punch of Victor Garber and Franz Drameh as Firestorm, Falk Hentschel as Hawkman and Ciara Renee as Hawkgirl. And bad guys Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) play the good side with Arrow and The Flash’s Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) as the series villain.
After about 20 minutes of world building, recruiting and meeting all the players, the show kicks in when the team finds itself in 1975. Captain Cold, Heat Wave, and White Canary end up in a bar where Canary goes on her own punching spree. It’s a great play to see the bad guys team-up with a good guy against… anyone else.