Reviews selected from TV Zone #138

Reviews online this month (ratings given are out of 10):
Doctor Who visits another damned village in Eater of Wasps
Voyager's crew are back on the chain gang in Workforce, Pt.1
Space: 1999 - past visions of the, er, past previewed on DVD
and Buffy's sister gets the adrenalin pumping in Blood Ties

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Eater of Wasps Rating: 9
BBC Books Price: £5.99
ISBN: 0 563 53832 5
Written by Trevor Baxendale
Out: 7 May 2001
Reviewed by
Neil Corry
“I don't eat invertebrates for fun, you know”

Eater of Wasps - order this at AmazonA small country village, a strange device from the far future, possession by alien influences: three of my favourite, albeit clichéd, elements in a Doctor Who story. With a small village, there’s always that sense of claustrophobia, of being cut off from the outside world and, of course, most alien invasions in Doctor Who start off from small, English country villages so the reader feels right at home. You just know that a strange device is bound to fall in the Doctor’s hands at some point, it’s the how-it-gets-there-and-why that’s so enjoyable to discover. And finally, possession: the cheapest and creepiest of Doctor Who’s special effects, from the Robomen in The Dalek Invasion of Earth to the Doctor’s assistant Tegan in Kinda, aliens occupying human consciousness always works – and probably never better than in Eater of Wasps.

There’s another party at work in the story. As well as being a very long chase with few pit stops, the Doctor et al must contend with a party of Time travellers from the 49th Century. Is that ringing bells with anyone? It should: it’s where the Doctor and granddaughter Susan were apparently exiled from in the series’ very first episode. The appearance of these 49th Century boys (and girl) and the very human Time travellers from the end of the universe in Father Time leads this reviewer to suspect that series editor Justin Richards is planning something in the not too distant future. After all, how long can the Doctor remain without his memories? And that 50th book isn’t too far away, is it?

But this is a side issue, something thrown in probably merely to tease the regular readers. What matters is just how great this book is. The regulars are written for brilliantly, none of the supporting characters is insignificant and the prose flows like blood from an open wound. Yes, Eater of Wasps is a grim horror tale, one will make you go “Ewww!” and is grisly enough to send shivers down the spine, deliciously distasteful in its depiction of alien horror. It’s important to remember that the wasps aren’t eaten voluntarily…

SPACE: 1999
Season One, Vols. 1 – 3 (DVD) Rating: 8
Carlton Home Entertainment
3711501153 / 3711501163 / 3711501173
3 Discs, out: 30 April. Available individually or as a Collector's box-set Reviewed by
Mike Fillis
Free T-shirt with the box-set at Blackstar while stocks last!
Well, it’s 2001 and the Moon's still here...

Space 1999 DVDs - free T-shirt with the box-set at Blackstar while stocks last!Back in 1974 Space: 1999 represented the Future, and the idea of the Moon being blasted out of Earth’s orbit by a nuclear inferno seemed quite plausible. Stranded on Moonbase Alpha, as their rogue satellite departed the Solar System for adventures in Outer Space, the 311 men and women, led by the square-jawed, arch-eyebrowed Commander Koenig (Martin Landau) could only guess at the alien horrors in store for them once a week. Indeed one wonders if their beige flares may have been worn as a cry for help.

Gerry Anderson’s third live-action series was once the most expensive British television series ever made. Its considerable budget is actually on screen, too, with stunning moonbase interiors and film-standard production design throughout. The miniature work, for which Anderson’s shows are renowned, was the finest of its time – FX man Brian Johnson came straight off Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey to do the show – and still holds up today.

The metaphysical style of the unusual stories in the first series has also worn well with time, making the first series of 24 episodes rather more worthy than the risible second. Carlton Video is soon to release 12 remastered episodes of this fondly-recalled show over three DVDs (and on video) with a further three discs to follow.

The BBC archive team responsible for the excellent restoration work on Doctor Who repeats is responsible for the film transfers and the episodes have, apparently, never looked finer. But with 4 episodes per DVD, how they are digitally compressed will either make or break them, of course.

Hopefully they won’t be as poor as the video review copy of End of Eternity (admittedly not one of the first batch of 12 episodes) which, employing excessive digital noise reduction, has a blurry, staggered image as soon as there is movement. Ghastly.

DVD supplementary material will include interviews and rare behind-the-scenes footage along with the usual galleries of stills, designs, publicity and merchandise. Several episodes will sport optional commentary by cast and production crew. Done correctly, this will be a very welcome addition to the growing Anderson catalogue on DVD.

selected from TV Zone #138
© Visual Imagination Ltd 2001. Not for reproduction
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