Reviews selected from TV Zone #125
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Reviews online this month
Star Trek: Voyager Marina Sirtis does a series transfer
• a roar of approval for this season's best Buffy to date
• one of April's forthcoming Doctor Who novels
• and Viva Los Simpsons on video

Also reviewed in this issue:
more episodes of Stargate SG-1, Earth: Final Conflict , Voyager , Angel, Buffy and The X-Files: more Doctor Who in audio, video and printed formats, the latest Trek merchandise, Buffy plus a Space: 1999 soundtrack

DOCTOR WHO
COLDHEART Rating: 6
BBC Books
ISBN: 0563 555955
Written by Trevor Baxendale
Out: 2 April • Order from amazon.co.uk
Reviewed by
Neil Corry

Buy Doctor Who - Coldheart from amazon.co.uk“What you need here is a qualified Doctor”

With luck there’s a trend setting in. The style of Coldheart follows on from The Fall of Yquatine with the Doctor and crew on a rather traditional action adventure tale. It often reads as if Baxendale had begun a Third Doctor and Jo story – which isn’t meant as a criticism – and then changed his mind half-way through. There are friendly(ish) natives on a backwater planet, a zealous politician with something to hide, a mysterious, horrifying disease and the increasing suspicion that behind it all is a monster the size of Swansea.

All these elements and more make up a fine story told at a relaxed pace allowing the quarantined city of Baktan and its people to come alive. It’s a step up from Baxendale’s over-plotted The Janus Conjunction as here the attention to detail on fewer, more rounded characters, their situations and motives is neatly expounded upon while rarely stalling the plot.

Unfortunately, this praise cannot continue. A terrible thing has happened to the Eighth Doctor – and possibly the range as a whole: the TARDIS has been destroyed. Regular readers should know this by now and irregular readers should be warned that fellow traveller Compassion has been transformed into a TARDIS herself.

This attempt to revolutionize the range has stumbled at the first hurdle. Yquatine saw Compassion trying out her new powers and her rebirth as a time machine made for an engrossing if nerve-wracking read. But can the series get away with abandoning one of its own icons?

Compassion can do anything as a TARDIS and cannot ordinarily be killed – yet Doctor Who was never a place for superheroes; the heroes struggle against almost insurmountable odds to win the day. They don’t waltz in, find the monster and give it a good hiding. Although Compassion doesn’t (yet) have the Doctor’s desire to do the right thing, it was increasingly difficult to see the point of the Doctor’s involvement.

This TARDIS-on-legs can do it all with much less effort. Virtually giving notice to the series’ hero can’t be a good idea – and I now miss the battered blue police box more than ever.

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THE SIMPSONS
VIVA LOS SIMPSONS Rating: 8
Fox Home Video
88 minutes
Out 6 March 2000
order it from Black Star
Reviewed by
Dan Ranger
Viva Los Simpsons - buy this from Black StarIf you're the gambling sort

Fox Video come up with the winning numbers this month with their Viva Los Simpsons release. Kicking off with the sublime Homer the Clown, you can guess the outcome just from the title – Homer becomes a clown. It’s a monument to his stupidity that he even screws that up, and the episode is a Big Top of laughs, replete with pain, stupidity and a big ending.

$pringfield somehow manages to have the unfair moniker ‘worst episode ever’ when discussed, but doesn’t live up to it. Burns decides to open a casino when gambling is legalized in Springfield, Homer becomes a dealer, Marge becomes addicted and Bart sets up his own gambling den. The star attraction is Mr Burns of course, and his descent into Howard Hughes-style madness is cruel and funny.

Viva Ned Flanders is the main attraction of the tape, and really delivers the laughs. Homer and Ned travel to Las Vegas on Ned’s insistence, trying to capture an outrageous lifestyle that he’s never had. But one white wine spritzer later, and it’s a slippery path to vandalism and bigamy.

And for the big finish – the third season episode Homer at the Bat. Not very good, and Homer is more whiney than normal when Mr Burns hires professional baseballers to play on the company softball team.

Still, three out of four ain’t bad, and overall a great tape, more hit than miss.

selected from TV Zone #125
© Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction
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