Reviews selected from TV Zone #137

Reviews online this month (ratings given are out of 10):
Doctor Who's Delta certainly doesn't give us the blues
Voyager's B'Elanna contemplates gene therapy in Lineage
• A Next Generation book with a post-DS9 Ambassador Worf
and The X-Files is still firing rather off-target in Surekill

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Delta and the Bannermen Rating:10
BBC Video, Cert PG
• BBCV7131
VHS PAL, Out 26 March 2001
order from Black Star , Postage Free!
Reviewed by
Tom Spilsbury
Delta & the Bannermen - order this at BlackstarWho-de-Who campers!

It’s no big secret that Delta and the Bannermen is not a big favourite in Who fan circles. It’s a story that is held up to be the absolute nadir of the show, or at the very least dismissed as ‘that rubbish with Ken Dodd in it’. I remember watching the original broadcast at the age of 11 and finding it to be very enjoyable indeed; only in later years did I become aware of fan loathing of the story. Watching it 14 years on, I was rather fearful that my fond memories of the show would be spoilt.

Well, surprise surprise, the first shock is that Ken Dodd is actually very good indeed. His indignant delivery of the line “We’re not fools, you know!” is an early delight. The story is hardly as complex as later Sylvester McCoy offerings, but that’s probably a good thing, making Delta fun, light and amusing viewing. Only some extremely violent scenes offset the ludicrous comedy of the story, notably the cold-blooded murder of Dodd’s Tollmaster, and the senseless destruction of the bus and its passengers.

Gavrok is an out-and-out evil baddie with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and as ever Don Henderon fits the bill perfectly. His band of incompetent Bannermen are also cartoon villains, but perfect for a story that is essentially nothing but three episodes of chasing about the countryside on motorbikes.

There are some absolutely delightful performances from the guest cast, from Richard Davies’s Burton; (“So you’re telling me that you are not the Happy Hearts holiday club from Bolton, but instead are spacemen in fear of attack from other spacemen?”) to Hugh Lloyds’s enigmatic bee-keeper Goronwy. Sara Griffiths is terrific as Ray, and as enjoyable as Sophie Aldred’s Ace would later prove to be, it’s scandalous that Griffiths didn’t stay on as the new companion. Only David Kinder’s stilted performance as Billy fails to convince, but other than some jarring incidental music everything else is a joy to watch.

Buy this tape and remind yourself of a time when 7.35 on BBC1 didn’t automatically mean hospital dramas and soap operas. It might all be rather silly, but at least it’s something imaginative and different. Besides, that’s why Doctor Who became so popular in the first place.

Diplomatic Implausibility Rating: 7
Simon and Schuster Books Out: 2 April 2001 (UK) • ISBN: 0-671-78554-0 Reviewed by
Tim Lynch
Star Trek TNG DiplomaticOld face, new(ish) story

Keith RA DeCandido’s book Diplomatic Implausibility catches the reader’s attention from the start, presenting newly minted Ambassador Worf’s first post Deep Space Nine mission. A colony of al-Hmatti is rebelling against its Klingon governor, and has requested Federation assistance in claiming its independence. Worf must again balance the needs of the Federation he serves against the needs of the Klingons, all the while maintaining an uneasy alliance with those who feel he may not truly deserve his position.

Despite the title, the biggest implausibility in the book isn’t on the diplomatic front – it’s more that in a scant 240 pages DeCandido uses almost every ‘modern’ Klingon we’ve ever seen. I’m the last one to object to a few familiar faces, but when a single ship includes, to name just a few, Martok’s son, Worf’s former brother, a Klingon engineer Beverly Crusher once offended, and an officer Riker served with a decade earlier, the story’s credibility is undercut just a bit. Few of these characters were really needed for their own traits, moreover; while one or two figure heavily into the plot, most of the others appear to be there just because it’s neat to see them.

On the plus side, though, DeCandido has a marvellous ear for dialogue and for character. It’s easy to go over the top while writing for Klingons – just have them pound their chests a lot and talk about honour, and you’re set. DeCandido avoids the obvious pitfalls; even though his Klingons are certainly motivated by the usual mix of honour and bloodlust, most of them are also reasonably well-rounded individuals, leaving the reader with a much greater sense of actually being there than, for example, Doranna Durgin’s book Tooth and Claw (#60, also reviewed in this issue) manages. It’s not perfect, but of the two books it’s definitely the better bet.

selected from TV Zone #137
© Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction
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