Things I’ve Been Reading: James Bond: Service

Tragically, Ian Fleming only wrote 8 James Bond short stories.  (Nine, if you count the short piece about making scrambled eggs.  I do not.) I say “tragically,” as I consider “The Living Daylights” to be Fleming’s finest James Bond work.  (The Timothy Dalton film The Living Daylights generally does justice to Fleming’s short story in its first act.) The short story may not seem like the ideal length for a James Bond story, but that’s only because our idea of what a James Bond story can and should be has been warped and molded by fifty years of increasingly convoluted and ever more spectacular films that lack the focused concision of a straightforward short story.  There’s pleasure to be found in a singular story.

Which is why Service, the new James Bond one-shot from Kieron Gillen (Phonogram, Star Wars: Darth Vader) and Antonio Fuso, published by Dynamite Entertainment, is such a delight.

A new American administration, one extolling nationalism and American unilateralism, downplays the importance of the long-standing “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom on the eve of the Secretary of State’s visit to Britain for high level talks.  Meanwhile, someone has anonymously sent MI-6 a coded message and a parcel that suggest an attempt will be made on the Secretary of State’s life.  Due to the sensitive nature of both the target and the transatlantic political moment, M assigns Bond to investigate and, if necessary, neutralize the potential threat.

The result is something blissfully straightforward.  Bond investigates.  Bond locates his quarry.  Bond is captured and beaten up.  The villain reveals the plan.  There is an escape and a firefight and a resolution and a harsh coda.

Service‘s story is grounded in the political now.  Not only does Gillen draw on the new nationalism exhibited by the current presidential administration, he also draws upon the backlash to the EU that prompted the Brexit vote last summer.  Gillen uses these elements as a backdrop to his story, informing the world James Bond operates in but not overwhelming it.  Gillen’s answer to the age-old question, “Does James Bond work when divorced of his original Cold War setting?” would be, unequivocally, an emphatic yes.

Gillen uses one of his trademark touches — a conversation told symbolically — in one section of the story.  By “symbolically,” I mean that, rather than spell out the dialogue’s conversation, Gillen collapses the actual words down to a few visual symbols.  The reader gets the idea of what Bond and his conversation partners discussed without going through the actual dialogue, dialogue that would have taken more time and space.  Fleming would have achieved the same narrative economy by summarizing the conversation in a sentence or two — something like “The woman at the door told Bond, after some careful questioning, the man he was looking for sported a phoenix tattoo on the back of his shaved skull.”  Gillen and Fuso simply make use of the illustrated form of comics to achieve that same economy.

In my book, Service compares favorably with “The Living Daylights.”  Both are straightforward stories, well told.  If you like your Bond gritty and hard-edged, Service is the James Bond short story you want.

Baseball on a Summer’s Evening

Wednesday night, I found a baseball outside Carlo Crispino Stadium after the Baltimore Redbirds’ home opener.  In a roundabout way, that led me to witness the strangest ending to a baseball game I’ve ever seen.

I found the baseball in the grass.  I assumed it was a foul ball, hit in a late inning during the Redbirds game against the D.C. Grays.  I put it in the Beetle, drove home, and then on Saturday morning put it on my dining room bookshelf.

Then I noticed that the marking on the baseball read “Maryland Collegiate Baseball League.”

That’s a puzzle, I thought, since the Redbirds play in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League.

Perhaps, I thought, “Maryland Collegiate Baseball League” was a precursor name to the league, the baseballs were bought in bulk years ago, and they’re still being used today.

A quick Google search disproved that quickly.  There’s a wholly separate summer wooden bat colleagiate baseball league in Maryland.  And the night before the Redbirds’ home opener, there had been a game played at Calvert Hall High School’s Carlo Crispino Stadium.  What seemed likely, then, is that this baseball had been out there, in the grass, for twenty-five, twenty-six hours before I found it.

Naturally, I had to investigate more.  If there were more games played in the area around the office, say, a fifteen minutes’ drive, then perhaps I could catch a few more games in the summer evenings.

There was a game Monday night near the office, at St. Paul’s High School in Timonium, so I worked out an epic to-do list for work, powered through the sixteen items, and drover over after work for the game between the Baltimore Rays and the Putty Hill Panthers.

There was no PA system at Blenckenstone Field, no press box.  There was a scoreboard but it wasn’t operation.  No programs listing the players.  Not even lights; this game would have be completed before the sun set.

The grandstand was an elevated aluminum platform of risers six rows deep.  The crowd was tiny; at one point I counted twenty-three.

Without the distraction of announcing batters, the game progressed quickly.  Batters came up, took their swings, went to base or back to the dugout, and the game moved quickly.

A older man in a University of Maryland t-shirt either directed people to chase after foul balls, or he went into the woods surrounding the field to retrieve them himself.

I saw a batter called out for batting out of turn.  I saw a right fielder fluff two straight chances in a half-inning that had three errors.

I saw a jogger jogging in the deep outfield, in the field of play.

I had no rooting interest in the game.  I never knew the score.  Nor did I even know the inning until near the end of the game, or which was the home team and which was the away.  (As it happened, the Putty Hill Panthers were the home team and the Baltimore Rays were the away.) I was fine with this.

It transpired that the game was tied in the ninth inning, and the Panthers were the home team.  The Panthers had two men on base, there were two outs, and a batter, #18, came to the plate.

The Rays’ manager came out to protest.  Apparently, the batter wasn’t on the line-up he had.  The umpire pulled out his line-up book and consulted it.  There was a discussion.  It grew animated.  The Panthers’ manager was called over.  He protested, “He’s been playing in the field for two innings, and just now you’re catching it?”

The batter was out.  The Panthers’ dugout exploded in anger and profanities, not just at the situation but at their own manager for cocking up the line-up with the umpire.

The game ended in a tie.  The umpire also called the game due to lighting conditions.  It was shortly after 8 o’clock and, though I suppose another inning could have been played safely, it was probably the right decision.

I walked back to my car, thinking about the strange way the game ended — a batter out of turn, a game called for lack of lights — and the experience itself.  As the shadows crept across the field and the sun fell behind the trees in right, young men played baseball and, on a pleasant night such as this, that sufficed.

A Yard Sale Find

It’s Yard Sale Saturday in Dallastown.  At least every other block, there’s a yard sale.

I stopped at most every one I passed, took a glance, said a few words of hello to the hosts, and moved on.  You get glimpses into people’s lives — the Hello Kitty collection here, the Hilary Duff CD collection there; the cigar box collection here, the Glenn Beck library there.

At one, a boy was selling hot dogs.  A dollar apiece.  I told him I’d take two.  I chatted with his family for several minutes.  They were new-ish to Dallastown. They had a brown lab that I gave jitters.

Near the cemetery at the edge of town was a garage sale with books.  I will always pick through books. Maybe I’ll find something unusual or rare.

I found the novelization for the Jack the Ripper miniseries starring Michael Caine.  I didn’t even know this existed — and it has four endings!  The condition isn’t what I like, but it was 3 for a dollar, so I picked up two other paperbacks that I’ll dispose of.

Found in the Grass

Wednesday night after work, I went to a baseball game.  It was the week of publishing deadlines, Wednesday had been a long and often frustrating day, and the Baltimore Redbirds, a team in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League, a summer wooden bat league for college students, was playing their home opener in Towson.  It was something that I would have liked to go to, but the demands of work made that unlikely, only in mid-afternoon it looked like it might be possible with a little luck and a bit more pedal to the metal, so to speak, and I was able to leave the office at 6:30 instead of the more typical 7:30 or 8 during Hell Week.

I missed the first three innings, but that couldn’t be helped. I counted my fortunate that I only missed three innings.

The crowd was sparse — maybe fifty people attended? — but the baseball itself was pure.

After the game, walking back to my car, I found a foul ball in the grass.  In the late innings, someone had smacked a ball up and over the grandstand, and there it was, just sitting there in the twilight.  “This ball needs a home,” I said.  It was the first foul ball I’d ever found . I had my hands on one at a Harrisburg Senators game in 2014, but I couldn’t grasp it; it bounced off my palms and darted away, leaving my fingers stinging for a day.

I put it on my dining room bookshelf, next to a Harrisburg Senators victory ball, which isn’t really a baseball, though it looks like one. (It’s a squishy ball the Senators players throw into section 207 after a victory. Another relic of 2014.)

For those who care about such things, the books on my dining room bookshelf that are visible, from left to right:

  • An adaptation of Beowulf illustrated by Alan Lee, an artist known for his Tolkien work.
  • A redaction of Beowulf by the actor Julian Glover (The Empire Strikes Back, Game of Thrones), which is the basis of his one-man show.
  • A book on the Lewis Chessmen.
  • Another book on the Lewis Chessmen.
  • Pierre de Teilhard’s The Phenomenon of Man.
  • D.T. Suzuki’s An Introduction to Zen Buddhism.
  • Volumes 1-3 of Matt Wagner’s Grendel Omnibus.  (And the fourth would be out of the picture.)

Exploring Cemeteries

Last weekend, after the Mid-Maryland Celtic Festival, I drove home by way of Eldersburg, mainly because it was easier to head north to Liberty Road instead of south to I-70.  As I approached Eldersburg, I decided, entirely on a whim, to visit the church graveyard where my great-uncle and great-aunt are buried, coincidentally quite close to the anniversary of my great-uncle’s death.

I patted the headstone, like an adult patting a child’s head, put my hands on the ground where they were, sort of my way of saying “you’re remembered,” and continued on to home.  And I decided that I would visit my grandfather’s grave in Baltimore the following Saturday, yesterday; the anniversary of his death was coming up, too.

I had the idea of making a day of it in Baltimore.  I could do some other things I’d been meaning to do, and maybe I could go to the Orioles game and get the free Maryland flag jersey they were giving away.  Well, going to the Orioles game didn’t happen; tickets for that game have been sold out for weeks, and though I checked Stubhub, Standing Room Only for 70 dollars-plus was flat out insane.

So, what were those “other things”?

I’ve wanted to visit Loudon Park Cemetery, where my grand-grandfather Allyn, after whom I’m named, obviously, is buried.  I had been there, as best I can remember, once in my life, shortly after my grandfather’s funeral, a day or two later, when my mom and my grandmother took flowers from my grandfather’s funeral to my great-grandparents’ grave.

And I wanted to go to Peabody Heights Brewery, a craft brewer on the site of Oriole Park, the home of the International League Orioles, a minor league team who won seven consecutive pennants in the 1920s, a feat never repeated in professional baseball.  They brew a line of beers called “Old Oriole Park.”  Beer and baseball — how could I not?

Well, Saturday turned out to be the eighteenth anniversary of my grandfather’s death.  Not in the ballpark.  The exact day.  So I was doubly glad I went.

Continue reading “Exploring Cemeteries”

Reflections on Ten Years

Wednesday marked my tenth anniversary at Diamond Comic Distributors.

Part of Diamond’s culture revolves around the daily “Service Anniversaries” e-mail.  HR sends out an e-mail to the entire company acknowledging those employees who are celebrating an anniversary, and then people throughout the company, some you’ll know, some you won’t, will send you congratulations.  Suffice it to say, my email inbox was overflowing with congratulations on my ten years on Wednesday.

Some people reply to these congratulations individually.  Others wait and send out a group thanks.  I’ve done both over the years; it’s easier to keep up with the former, the latter takes a little work.  Heck, some people don’t even acknowledge the congratulations at all.

I sent out a group reply at the end of the day.  I’d finished writing a catalog section for the July issue of PREVIEWS — my one hundred and twenty-first issue — and, without any other pressing task, started to compose.  I had a rough idea of what I wanted to say on the occasion of my tenth anniversary — I knew the anniversary was coming and had pondered it for a few weeks — but when I knuckled down to write I struggled to begin.  I don’t know how many openings I tried, nor did I keep track of the material I discarded, but the openings were many and the blind-alleys were extensive.  Eventually — two hours later! — I had something I was happy with, though I see now that it needed a little more polish.

What follows is that group response:

I wanted to take a moment and thank you for the congratulations and well-wishes on the occasion of my tenth anniversary with Diamond.  I spent part of the day trying to think of something profound and witty to say, but in truth words fail me.  Marketing gave me a card this morning, and I truly had to fight back tears; it wasn’t the kind of thing I expected.

When I think about when I started with Diamond a decade ago, I couldn’t have imagined being here ten years later.  Honestly, I thought I’d stay six months, leaving when my grandmother died.  But she lingered on, I had a talent for the work (writing at the scale that I do doesn’t daunt me and I learned more about VBA programming than I’d have ever learned otherwise), and after she died I’ve stayed.

I would struggle to point out things that I’ve worked on these last ten years that I’m truly proud of because I’ve worked on so much over the years that they recede into the distance; I finish something, I’m already into something else, and the feeling I remember is not the satisfaction of completion but the stress of the process.  I’m very self-critical, as anyone who has read my self-appraisals knows, and I almost always feel better about what I’ve done, once I’ve had time and distance to reflect; I may hate what I wrote in PREVIEWS one month, but if I reread it two months later I find it’s nothing to hate at all.  I think that I make what I do look easy, when it’s really nothing of the sort, or like magic, when really all I did was to solve a problem that anyone could have solved given the time and understanding.

I enjoyed going to the Retailer Summit in Chicago this year.  As I said to anyone who asked, it was my first Diamond trip in my ten years here.  I didn’t know what to expect, I wasn’t always sure what to do when I was there, I certainly enjoying signing copies of PREVIEWS for people who came to the booth at C2E2, and I saw some things that we can do better in the future (things that I’ve made notes on but haven’t yet turned into anything coherent).  But what I enjoyed the most came when we were handing out the exclusive comics to retailers after the dinner Friday night.

I handed the retailers three comics — two Dark Horse titles, one IDW title — but that wasn’t, for me, anyway, the thing that truly mattered.  What mattered was that I said, to each and every retailer, “Thank you for coming.”  Sometimes, “Thank you for being here.”  Or, “We couldn’t do this without you.”  Our retailers are our customers, we’re in business thanks to them, we value them, and it was important to acknowledge that and say that.  The thing I always tried to instill in my staff as a manager for EB Games (where our company value statement was “It’s all about the customer”) was to treat our customers like they were friends, to welcome them into our space, and to thank and appreciate them.  It’s a little thing, and those little things go a long way.

I’ve rambled on a fair bit, as anyone who knows me knows I’m wont to do.

Again, thanks for your kind wishes.  I couldn’t do this without you.

Revisiting the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

With Disney’s recent announcement that the fifth Indiana Jones film is due out in July 2020, I decided I should revisit the last Indiana Jones film, 2008’s The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Crystal Skull has a reputation of being a bad film — an over-reliance on CGI effects, a nonsensical story, “nuking the fridge,” a really old Harrison Ford (he was in his mid-60s) who lacked the physicality of a 40-something Ford, and the enduring presence of Shia LeBeouf.

I remember feeling quite good about the film when I left the theater back in 2008 (though what I wrote on my blog at the time is a bit more mixed), and I hadn’t seen it since then.  To eBay I went, bought the DVD for dirt cheap, and sat down yesterday (rainy and drizzly and especially gross) to watch the film.

I thought Crystal Skull was tremendous fun!

My only issue, really, was that Crystal Skull was basically a remake of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, except with a MacGuffin taken from Mayan instead of Christian mythology.  (And pedants would note that Last Crusade is itself broadly a remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  There’s an Indiana Jones formula.) The stories follow similar beats — the conquistador grave sequence reminded me greatly of the Venetian catacombs, the jungle fight was very similar to the desert tank fight, and the alien even gives Cate Blanchett a look of disapproval that might as well say “You have chosen poorly.”  The characters don’t entirely align; the characteristics of Marcus, Sallah, Professor Henry Jones, and Dr. Elsa Schneider are tossed in a blender and doled out to Marion, Mutt, Mac, and Ox in different proportions, and that’s perfectly fine.  The way Crystal Skull used its elements worked for me.  Sure, maybe there could have been more to the FBI subplot, but it served its purpose in taking him out of Marshall College and throwing Indy out on his own for an adventure.

Otherwise, the things that are commonly used to flog the film didn’t bother me.

Take the “nuking the fridge” scene — Indy survives a nuclear test in Nevada by hiding inside a lead-lined refrigerator, which is then thrown a few miles by the blast’s shock wave, and walks away.  As improbable as it might be, the scene is every bit as improbable as Indy, Willie, and Short Round escaping a crashing airplane in an inflatable life raft in Temple of Doom.  The Indiana Jones films have never comported to reality.

CGI?  That’s just how films are made today.  Harrison Ford?  He played an older, wiser, and slower Indy, as one would expect.  The Beef?  I had no problems with him as a 1950s greaser.

Like I said, Crystal Skull was tremendous fun.  I didn’t need an Indiana Jones film to make me feel like it was 1989 — heck, even 1981 — again.  I needed an Indiana Jones film that entertained me in 2008 and today.  Crystal Skull did and does that.  And whatever Ford and Spielberg do with Disney in 2020 — and it’s going to be strangely weird to see an Indiana Jones film not open with an old-school Paramount logo — I’ll go into it wanting to be entertained and not measure it against nostalgia.

An Unsatisfying Star Wars Salute to the Beatles

We need to talk about Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about and haven’t read vearious articles about it (like NPR‘s or Slate‘s), PLSDSP is an album that retells the story of Star Wars using the music of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  The Lennon-McCartney and Harrison lyrics are rewritten and replaced with lyrics that tell the story of various scenes from the original Star Wars, and the instrumentals are recreated to the point of getting many of the nuances of the original Beatles recording right. PLSDSP is a remarkable salute to Sgt Pepper on the occasion of its 50th-anniversary and Star Wars on the occasion of its 40th. I marvel at the artistry.

But PLSDSP is a tribute to Sgt Pepper that also completely misunderstands Sgt Pepper.

Pepper is often called a “concept album.”  Many words have been written, many gallons of ink spilled, many pixels illuminated, over the last fifty years about Pepper as a concept album.  The thing is, Pepper isn’t a concept album at all.  Except for three songs, out of the thirteen, there’s no common theme, and there’s no narrative throughline at all.  Pepper began as an album with a loose theme about Liverpool (hence, “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane,” which were released separately), and the released album has a loose concept of a vaudevill troupe (the title track and “With a Little Help From My Friends” and the reprise), but beyond that there’s ten more completely unrelated songs.  The Abbey Road medley coheres more than Sgt Pepper.

I’m not saying that Pepper isn’t an amazing, incredible album.  It is.  (Personally, I put Revolver ahead of it in the Beatles canon, but I see the point of those who put Pepper first.) But it doesn’t tell a story, it’s not built around a central idea, not in the way that, say, The Who’s Tommy was. Hell, The Who Sell Out has more of a central theme and stronger concept (pirate radio) than Sgt Pepper does.

And this is how Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans misunderstands Sgt Pepper — it rewrites the music to tell a story and frequently trivializes the original music in the process.  Casting Darth Vader in Ringo’s cheerful voice is profoundly disturbing, and the tragedy of “She’s Leaving Home” is twisted into a song about a whiny, emo Luke Skywalker.  “A Day in the Life of Red Five” seems especially misguided; in telling the story of Luke’s Death Star run, the song is focused on a singular character in a way that the Beatles’ original “A Day in the Life” is not, and in making the “Woke up…” section of the song simply a part of Luke’s story the song loses Paul’s jaunty counterpoint to John’s fatalism.  The Star Wars lyrics are frequently tonal mismatches with underlying Beatles music, creating a muddled emotional tableau.

In paying tribute to Sgt Pepper, I feel that the musicians behind PLSDSP bought into the mythology of Sgt Pepper rather than the reality of PepperPLSDSP is essentially a well-produced filk album, and the result is a piece of work that is clever but ultimately dissatisfying.

I applaud the musicians for spending the time and energy on this project.  It’s very well done.  But Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans doesn’t work for me at all.

The Sights and Sounds of Wrigley Field

Diamond Comic Distributor‘s 2017 Retailer Summit was held last week in Chicago, in conjunction with the C2E2 convention.  I had long been asking to go on some sort of work trip like this — I wanted to see a different side of the industry and meet the retailers — and this year the production schedules on the catalog aligned in such a way that I could attend a Diamond retailer event.

Before the Summit began, some of us from the Marketing Department made a pilgrimage to Wrigley Field to see the Chicago Cubs play the Milwaukee Brewers.  I’ve been a Cubs fan for a very long time, and while I’ve seen the Cubs in person at Nationals Park, this was the first time I had ever been to Wrigley. Continue reading “The Sights and Sounds of Wrigley Field”

A Facebook Doctor Who Survey

Over the weekend a Doctor Who preferences survey wormed its way around Facebook — what do you like, what don’t you like, what’s overrated, what’s underrated.  Seemed like fun.  Here are my answers, and if you have comments on any of my choices, leave them at the bottom —

DOCTOR WHO SURVEY

FAVOURITE TV DOCTOR: The War Doctor.

FAVOURITE AUDIO DOCTOR: The sixth Doctor.

FAVOURITE COMIC STRIP DOCTOR: The fifth Doctor.

FAVOURITE NOVELS DOCTOR: The eighth Doctor.

BEST TV DOCTOR WE NEVER HAD: Hugh Grant.  Series 1 would have been vastly different with Grant instead of Christopher Eccleston, but damn, I would have liked to see it.

FAVOURITE TV COMPANION: Sarah Jane Smith.

FAVOURITE AUDIO COMPANION: Charlotte Pollard.

FAVOURITE BOOKS COMPANION: Fitz Kreiner.

FAVOURITE COMIC STRIP COMPANION: Izzy Sinclair.

MOST UNDERRATED DOCTOR: The third Doctor.

MOST UNDERRATED COMPANION: Steven.

FAVOURITE CLASSIC SERIES STORY: “Pyramids of Mars.”

LEAST FAVOURITE CLASSIC SERIES STORY: “The Mark of the Rani.”

GUILTY PLEASURE CLASSIC SERIES STORY: “Planet of the Daleks.”

MOST UNDERRATED CLASSIC SERIES STORY: “Battlefield.”

MOST OVERRATED CLASSIC SERIES STORY: “Tomb of the Cybermen.”

FAVOURITE NEW SERIES STORY: “The Girl in the Fireplace.”

LEAST FAVOURITE NEW SERIES STORY: “In the Forest of the Night.”

GUILTY PLEASURE NEW SERIES STORY: “Planet of the Dead.”

MOST UNDERRATED NEW SERIES STORY: “Nightmare in Silver.”

MOST OVERRATED NEW SERIES STORY: This one was hard, and it’s either “The Doctor’s Wife” or “The Waters of Mars,” depending on my mood that day.

FAVOURITE AUDIO STORY: “Doctor Who and The Monopoly Pub Crawl of Doom.”

LEAST FAVOURITE AUDIO STORY: “Zagreus.”

GUILTY PLEASURE AUDIO STORY: “The Holy Terror.”

MOST UNDERRATED AUDIO STORY: “Death Comes to Time.”

FAVOURITE COMIC STRIP STORY: “The Land of Happy Endings.”

LEAST FAVOURITE COMIC STRIP STORY: Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2.

GUILTY PLEASURE COMIC STRIP STORY: “Abslom Daak… Dalek Killer.”

MOST UNDERRATED COMIC STRIP STORY: Winter’s Dawn, Season’s End.

FAVOURITE NOVEL: The Infinity Doctors.

LEAST FAVOURITE NOVEL: Legacy of the Daleks.

GUILTY PLEASURE NOVEL: The Coming of the Terraphiles.

MOST UNDERRATED NOVEL: Asylum.

FAVOURITE SHORT STORY: None spring to mind.

LEAST FAVOURITE SHORT STORY: None spring to mind.

GUILTY PLEASURE SHORT STORY: None spring to mind.

MOST UNDERRATED SHORT STORY: None spring to mind.

FAVOURITE TARDIS INTERIOR: The 1996 Gothic Cathedral

LEAST FAVOURITE TARDIS INTERIOR: The Pertwee era.

FAVOURITE MONSTER: Ice Warriors.

LEAST FAVOURITE MONSTER: None spring to mind.

FAVOURITE REGENERATION SCENE: “The Caves of Androzani.”

LEAST FAVOURITE REGENERATION SCENE: “The End of Time, Part Two.”

FAVOURITE DOCTOR DEBUT STORY: “The Eleventh Hour.”

LEAST FAVOURITE DOCTOR DEBUT STORY: “The Twin Dilemma.”

FAVOURITE MULTI-DOCTOR STORY: Cold Fusion.

LEAST FAVOURITE MULTI-DOCTOR STORY: Prisoners of Time.

FAVOURITE UNIT STORY: “The Invasion.”

LEAST FAVOURITE UNIT STORY: “The Android Invasion.”

FAVOURITE PLANET NAME: Trenzalore.

FAVOURITE MASTER: Sir Derek Jacobi (“Utopia”).

LEAST FAVOURITE MASTER: Eric Roberts.

FAVOURITE DALEK STORY: “Evil of the Daleks.”

LEAST FAVOURITE DALEK STORY: “Into the Dalek.”

FAVOURITE CYBERMAN STORY: “Earthshock.”

LEAST FAVOURITE CYBERMAN STORY: Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2.

CHARACTER WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN A COMPANION: Princess Mary from The Tudors, as played by Sarah Bolger.

COMPANION WHO SHOULD NOT HAVE JOINED THE TARDIS: The Ben & Polly team. I have no real affection for either.

WHO SHOULD PLAY THE 13th DOCTOR?: Romola Garai or Laura Carmichael.