Reviews  
Babylon 5
Thirdsapce title
Television Review
Babylon 5
Thirdspace TV Movie
First aired (in the USA) 19 July 1998

'The problem with Thirdspace is its complete lack of subtlety...'

'Despite the weighty subject matter, that resolution owes more to Space Patrol than it does to a series which has proved over five years that it can do a lot better than this.'

'The worst offender is the solution to the problem. It is a terrible cliché, and a totally unrealistic one at that’

What's the problem with the new telemovie?
Read Deanne Holding's review in TV Zone #106 and find out.
Plus: reviews of three B5 Season Five episodes

 

Star Trek
DW - Scarlett Empress
Merchandise Review
Doctor Who
The Scarlet Empress
Written by Paul Magrs

BBC BooksPrice: £4.99
Out 7 September 1998
ISBN: 0-563-40595-3

Adventures in Wonderland

To describe the somewhat surreal plot of The Scarlet Empress as ‘original’ would probably qualify as an abuse of the language, but it’s certainly refreshingly different. More like a fairytale than a standard Doctor Who story, Paul Magrs’ first book for the range takes the form of the archetypal quest through strange lands, with the Doctor and his old Time Lord friend Iris Wildthyme seeking to re-unite a team of do-gooders on the planet Hyspero.
Drawing on a range of influences from Lewis Carroll to Barbarella via the Doctor Who Weekly comic strips, Magrs also finds the time to make this an unusually character-driven book. Iris is a marvellous creation, a Time-traveller whose fun-loving and emotionally open character makes her almost the antithesis of the Doctor. The interplay between the two characters allows us to see another side to our hero, and Magrs even gives us (horror of horrors!) some first-person narrative from the Doctor’s point of view. Despite being taboo for so long, it works well – partly because it’s written by someone who is not only an accomplished, respected writer of ‘real’ books, but also clearly loves and understands the series inside and out.
All this adds up to a brilliantly provocative, lyrical and mature Doctor Who novel, easily the best since Alien Bodies. It isn’t perfect, chiefly because of the sprawling plot – and the frequent shifts in character viewpoint, from first to third person, and from past to present tense – which cumulatively make reading the book a rather bewildering experience. Occasionally Magrs’ characterization of the Doctor as petulant and boyish crosses the line, too, from seeming an authentic portrayal of another facet of the man, to being a person we simply don’t recognize. Even if the end result doesn’t satisfy in every respect, it’s gratifying to see someone in the BBC Eighth Doctor range taking hold of Doctor Who and shaking it a bit. Though it could be too much to ask, BBC Worldwide would be well advised to beg (or even pay?) him to write more: if any of the range’s authors so far can produce the equivalent of a Just War or a Human Nature, it’s Paul Magrs.
(Rated 8/10)


reviewed by John Binns

 
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