The Naked Flame
The Beast Inside
One Last Try
The 1995 Yearbook
|ISBN||1 85400 357 7|
|Starring the first seven Doctors and various companions|
A Review by Finn Clark 11/5/04
What a load of rubbish! We think we're more sophisticated these days, but those simplistic World Distributors annuals were far more entertaining than this boring Yearbook. There's no Colin Baker, no Terrance Dicks, no Tim Quinn & Dicky Howett and basically not much fun. Some of these stories are good, but more are tedious. Going through in ascending order...
Mark Gatiss's Urrozdinee is set in an evil EuroDisney, but has absolutely nothing else to recommend it. I nearly slipped into a coma. Rescue is by the author of Dimensions in Time. Steve Lyons's One Last Try is ingenious but dull, Daniel Blythe's The Beast Inside is well-written but unmemorable, and I'm convinced that Gareth Roberts wrote The Hungry Bomb in his sleep. It brings back the Chelonians, one of Who's most over-rated creations. The story has its moments, but I couldn't call it good.
Only three of these stories entertained me. Simon Messingham's Work is Hell treads water for two pages but thereafter becomes amusing. For some reason the Yearbooks' 6th Doctor stories were always good. Andy Lane's It's Only A Game is silly 7th Doctor nonsense with too much continuity, but it's written with Andy's usual panache and holds you throughout. I really enjoyed it, not least for its Adrian Salmon illustrations. However my favourite story here is Justin Richards's Briefly Noted, a comedy with the 2nd Doctor, Jamie, Zoe and some musical instruments. It feels so effortless that one wonders why all Troughton stories aren't this good. However it's not presented to best advantage, with intimidating swathes of microscopic text and illustrations that aren't suited to a comedy. I'm a Brian Hudd fan, but he should have been given another story instead.
There are two comic strips, again drawn by John Ridgway and Charlie Adlard. Adlard's strip is The Naked Flame by Warwick Gray and is enjoyable fluff with the 4th Doctor and ninja butterflies on Vortis. However Ridgway's strip (Blood Invocation by Paul Cornell) falls flat again, probably because of the unsympathetic colouring. Mind you, it's handicapped by starting on Gallifrey. It's a prequel to Goth Opera... unless it's a sequel... umm.
There's a crossword and some retrospectives about the 1993 Doctor Who productions. Kevin Davies remembers 30 Years in the TARDIS, Nicholas Courtney remembers The Paradise of Death and Sophie Aldred remembers Dimensions in Time. Courtney's article is the least interesting of the three, if only because he has less to talk about, but it's still perfectly readable. Sophie Aldred's piece is fun but my favourite was Kevin Davies, if only because the fella's so proud to be a fan and obviously over the moon at making his documentary. I found it charming.
The 1995 Yearbook looks great. It has lovely illustrations and more stories than ever before. There's probably as much good fiction as there was in the 1992 and 1993 Yearbooks; it's just that there's a whole load of dross in there too. The word count and the production values are impressive. Unfortunately something's happened to the quality control.