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Star Trek (Gold Key) #56 – No Time Like the Past (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

It’s remarkable to think that Star Trek was kept alive in the decade between the airing of The Turnabout Intruder and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The most popular television show to air in the 1968 and 1969 season was Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, a show that was apparently lucky to receive two “best of” DVD collections in the early part of the last decade, collecting a grand total of eight of the 140 episodes. Given that Star Trek didn’t even rank among the twenty highest rated shows of that broadcast season, it’s incredible that the show endured for so long.

To be fair, there is a lot of material which fills the gap between the last episode of the live action television show and the first feature film. There was Star Trek: The Animated Series, perhaps the most high-profile release. There were a few novels, even if the tie-in line wouldn’t necessarily take off until the eighties. And there were the comic books, produced by Gold Key, notable as perhaps the largest publisher of non-superhero comics in the seventies.

These comics weren’t classics. It’s hard to argue that they are essential additions to the mythos, or that anybody would miss anything be ignoring them entirely. However, there’s a weird pulpy sci-fi charm to these stories that makes them interesting, even when you would wonder whether the artist or writer had actually watched any episodes of the show they were apparently adapting.

Trippy!

Trippy!

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Doctor Who: The Armageddon Factor (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Armageddon Factor originally aired in 1979. It was the sixth and final part of The Key to Time saga.

The Key to Time was perhaps the first conscious attempt to tell a season-long story in Doctor Who. Sure, we’ve had elements of an arc before. The first season, for example, gave the Doctor himself a character arc where he evolved from cowardly curmudgeon into an unlikely heroic figure. Jon Pertwee’s second season was given the Master as a linking element. Tom Baker’s Doctor embarked in a pretty much unbroken series of adventures from Robot through to Terror of the Zygons, with the ending of one serial seemingly leading directly into the next. None of these were necessarily that ambitious and you could argue they evolved more by chance than by design.

So, The Key to Time represented a bit of a learning curve, an attempt to tie a season’s stories together using an over-arching concept. As I’ve discussed quite a bit in my reviews of the season, the result was a little clunky, with those concepts seemingly clumsily shoe-horned into a separate bunch of adventures. That leaves the finalé, The Armageddon Factor to do the heavy-lifting with regards to The Key to Time saga. Unfortunately, the pay-off feels a bit jumbled, over-wrought, disorganised and non-sensical, as it juggles a wealth of elements that never add up to more than the sum of their parts.

While a great many Doctor Who six-parters suffer from being too long, too padded, too stretched for their story and concepts, The Armageddon Game feels curiously over-stuffed, lacking a tight focus on the interesting elements and too many distractions clogging up the story.

The problems are crystal clear...

The problems are crystal clear…

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Doctor Who: The Infinite Quest (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Infinite Quest was originally broadcast in weekly instalments on Totally Doctor Who in 2007.

… And then I’ll have my revenge! Revenge! REVENGE!

– just in case you didn’t get that Baltazar was evil

The Infinite Quest is a 45-minute animated episode of Doctor Who that was broadcast as part of Totally Doctor Who in 2007, during the third season of the revived show. It was written by Alan Barnes, who has written a number of Big Finish audio plays for Doctor Who, and was directed by Gary Russell. The animation was produced by Cosgrave Hall, who animated the missing episodes of The Invasion for its 2006 DVD release. So there’s a fairly considerable amount of talent involved in this project, which is notable as not only the first full-length animated Doctor Who episode to be broadcast on television, but is the first fully serialised story to be told since the show was revived. It was originally broadcast in chunks of three-and-a-half minutes.

Flight of fancy...

Flight of fancy…

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