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TV Zone intends to review television episodes as soon after their US broadcast as possible. As such, the reviews are liable to contain plot spoilers. Episodes and merchandise are given a mark out of 10 by our reviewers. If you don’t agree with the mark, why not write in and tell us so? Episodes are coded by season and episode, eg E8 is the eighth episode of Season Five. The date following episode titles is the first run broadcast in the US, unless stated.

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This month's selections: Smallville's series premiere • Dark Angel's year two launch • a top-ranking Doctor Who novel • and Randall & Hopkirk on DVD

The Adventuress... order this at Amazon.co.uk
doctor who:
the adventuress of henrietta street
novel by Lawrence Miles, BBC Books
Reviewed by Neil Corry Out: 5 November 2001
Order it from Amazon.co.uk

It’s a shame to begin a critique with a warning, but it’s probably necessary: this isn’t a lightweight romp through Time and Space. Never mind its length – it’s about a third longer than the average Who novel – Adventuress demands an unusual amount of dedication from its readers. This is certainly not a book for those who casually dip into the series.

Opening in a brothel, a woman’s misadventures with Indian mysticism while ‘working’ lead to the revelation that ape-like monsters from another dimension are looking to cause havoc on Earth. With the arrival of the Doctor, without either his ship or his companions, it’s quickly learnt that the very fabric of Time and Space is under threat. Yet how can the Doctor’s marriage to the brothel-keeper (and adventuress), underworld occult groups and the mysterious Sabbath lead to a victory over the killer apes whose world is a dark reflection of not only Earth but the Time Lord’s now-destroyed home planet as well?

Written as a historical work by a narrator who has pieced together the events centred on Henrietta Street, Adventuress can be as confusing as it is richly written, simply because the narrator doesn’t share our knowledge about the Doctor and cannot couch his text in Sci-Fi terms we readers can understand. There’s then lots of necessary symbolism, some of which is easy to decipher (the terrifying eye/sun of the ape’s world), some less so (the Doctor’s surgery) but this never diminishes Miles’ engrossing and powerful story-telling. More than anything, however, this is a book that proves that Miles must consider moving away from Doctor Who. His is an original talent and he deserves a wider audience than the admittedly-excellent Eighth Doctor range can provide. 10

More Doctor Who material reviewed in #144: Neil Corry on Gary Russell's Instruments of Darkness novel, David Miller on 'The Master Box Set', and Richard Atkinson on the Eye of the Scorpion CD adventure

randall & hopkirk Series 1 order this at Blackstar
randall & hopkirk (deceased):
the complete series one
Universal DVD (2 discs)
Reviewed by
Darren Knight
Out: 29 October 2001
Order it from Blackstar

Although the original series of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) was quite popular in its day, it was hardly one that had any sort of fanatical following. In this regard it is slightly surprising that the BBC would choose to resurrect such a series, while refusing to make any more of the equally-costly Doctor Who.

Nevertheless the new Randall and Hopkirk proved to be very popular when shown last year, helped, no doubt, by the mainstream popularity of the lead actors Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. Whereas the old series had essentially been a run-of-the-mill detective series with the sole gimmick that one of the detectives is a ghost, the new show proved to be something rather different.

This incarnation of the programme is unashamedly a Fantasy series, and it's all the better for it. The masterstroke was the casting of the mad-as-a-badger Tom Baker who plays Marty’s teacher Wyvern. Now we could see where Marty went when he wasn’t helping Jeff Randall back on Earth.

Season One is now released on DVD (and VHS), and while the episodes aren’t as strong as those in Season Two, all six are good family entertainment, and just the sort of thing to brighten up BBC1’s rather lacklustre Saturday evening schedule. The best episode of the bunch has to be the finale, A Man of Substance, an Avengers style mystery, in which Jeff finds he is unable to leave the creaky village of Hadell Wroxted. While the discs don’t include any commentaries or photo galleries, there is a rather splendid 50-minute documentary on the making of the series, and a short compilation of outtakes.

Sadly though, both the DVD and VHS formats have scandalously dispensed with the widescreen ratio that the show was originally broadcast in. The 2 disc set is still well worth investing in, though, and serves as a reminder of what the BBC can do when it puts its mind to it. 8

Also reviewed in this issue - randall & hopkirk (deceased): the files, Andy Lane's 'heartily recommended' companion book
selected from TV Zone #144
© Visual Imagination Ltd 2001. Not for reproduction