On the Coming Star Trek/Doctor Who Crossover

Star Trek has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember; one of my earliest clear memories is of the Animated Series and I think I remember a commercial for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  (I do, however, remember a commercial for Alien, even though at six I was far too young to see it for many years — and I didn’t, not until years after I’d seen its sequels and read its comic books.)

Doctor Who has not been a part of my life for as long; I didn’t see it until 1984 when the local PBS station made it a Saturday afternoon fixture, showing the Tom Baker episodes plus “The Five Doctors” in the movie format.  In high school I watched Doctor Who with greater regularity; the PBS station in Morgantown showed it in the wee hours of Saturday night, and I loved the brashness of Colin Baker, was indifferent to Sylvester McCoy, had my mind blown by finally seeing the black-and-white episodes of Hartnell, and have blamed/thanked the show for my atheism, since there was many a Sunday morning where I was too groggy to attend church. ;)

In the late 80s I occasionally picked up issues of Starlog.  I remember seeing in one issue an ad for some vendor of sci-fi merchandise, and they were offering a book that combined Star Trek and Doctor WhoThe Doctor and the Enterprise.

Was I intrigued?  Oh yes.

Did I order it?  Oh no.

A few years later a friend, one more plugged into Who fandom, told me it wasn’t worth it.  “It’s a total send-up.  The characters aren’t even named correctly.  ‘The Captain,’ ‘The Science Officer,’ that sort of thing.”  He hadn’t read it, to be fair, but what he said wasn’t inaccurate.  There was a story, it had been published as a book, and all the names were wonky to escape the notice of the copyright cops.

The original version of the story was written by Jean Airey and published in a fanzine in 1982.  In that fanzine version, though, all the characters had their proper names.  The story was printed and reprinted in fanzines, either in toto or as part of a serialization, over the following few years, and then a publisher, seeing the potential for dollars, published that unauthorized knock-off I saw advertised in Starlog.

What’s amusing about this to me know is that until that moment it had never occurred to me that Star Trek and Doctor Who might go together like peanut butter and chocolate.  Star Trek and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation universe, certainly, but not Doctor Who.

In the mid-90s I finally read Airey’s story.  I was in college, the Web was something nascent, I got online, and I found a text file of the original.  Over the next few years I found a sequel to Airey’s story by Rob Cowell, Airey’s own sequel, an impressive series of stories (totally unrelated to Airey) by Paul Gadzikowski that spanned Doctors and multiple Star Trek series, and a number of other fanfics, all mixing the worlds of Star Trek and Doctor Who.

In all the years since I first saw that ad for The Doctor and the Enterprise I assumed that the Doctor and the crews of the starships Enterprise would forever meet only in unlicensed unofficial fan fiction.

STK463337This May IDW Publishing will prove me wrong when they publish the first issue of Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2, an eight issue mini-series that brings together Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the eleventh Doctor for an adventure that pits them against an unholy alliance of the Cybermen and the Borg that threatens the galaxy. According to startrek.com and IDW’s official press release, the series will be written by Scott and David Tipton (IDW’s Klingons: Blood Will Tell, among others), with assists by Tony Lee (IDW’s ongoing Doctor Who series) and artwork by J.K. Woodward.

Frankly, I’m beside myself with glee.

It’s Star Trek! It’s Doctor Who! All in a single package! Well, all in an eight-issue package! :)

This is what comics can do so well. You couldn’t do this on television. Heck, Star Trek: The Next Generation isn’t even in production any more. You could do this in a novel, but crossovers aren’t really a part and parcel of prose literature in the way they are in comics. This is the kind of story that’s uniquely suited to comics. I’m still agog that this happened; after Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes it was clear that Paramount was game, but I harbored doubts that the BBC would ever countenance this. (A proposed crossover by John Byrne a few years ago went nowhere, for instance.)

And it’s not just me that’s excited. There’s excitement elsewhere in fandom. Dayton Ward is thrilled. So is Stuart Ian Burns. Doctor Who Magazine‘s Gary Gillatt, however, is not a fan; it’s safe to say that this project won’t receive favorable notices in Doctor Who‘s official propaganda rag. ;)

I admit, I’m not as jazzed by this as I was for Star Trek/Legion, and it’s down to the familiarity factor. As I’ve noted, I’ve been reading stories like this for the last decade, in old faded mimeographs and in newsgroups or LiveJournals. Still, I’m excited, and I’m amazed, and I can’t wait for Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 to rock my world this May.

At the end of the day, this is a story for that ten year-old Doctor Who and Star Trek fan inside all of us.

5 thoughts on “On the Coming Star Trek/Doctor Who Crossover

  1. Gillat still writes for DWM but he hasn’t been editor for years. I don’t know what current editor Tom Spilbury’s opinion of the project is, though.

    On the other hand, DWM hasn’t really done much coverage of the IDW comics anyway, mostly because we don’t actually get them over here, for licensing reasons or something.

  2. Thanks for the shout out.

    In a con dealers’ room I once picked up and paged through a fannish printing of the Airey crossover. It lost me when it produced an in-text rationalization for the Enterprise crew to call the Doctor “Doctor Who”. The TNG sequel (or _a_ TNG sequel – are you saying there was more’n one?) similarly lost me when I encountered that dialog tag uniquely native to fanfiction, “almost screamed”.

    It was an issue of Starlog, late 1979, that introduced me to Doctor Who. It must not have been illustrated because the description of The Three Doctors gave me a mental picture nothing like what I eventually saw. In 1981 I started watching on Chicago’s PBS station WTTW, also in movie format, except serials of more’n five episode were broken in two parts by WTTW (The War Games, three) so my first Doctor Who was the second half of Genesis of the Daleks.

    I was not quite as taken by surprise by this announcement as you were, because I’ve been discussing the crossover possibilities at IDW in my cartoons – purely as a theoretical exercise, I admit – since Angel left there. I’d rather see the Enterprise Prime than the -D, but given the villains chosen to team up that wasn’t possible. (On the other hand, what’s the point of having _two_ emotionally repressed cybernetic monster races in the room, story-wise? Better to square off the Borg and the Daleks [except I already did that]. Unless the Borg and the Cybermen turn out to be branches of each other or something.)

  3. First, Daibhid:

    On the other hand, DWM hasn’t really done much coverage of the IDW comics anyway, mostly because we don’t actually get them over here, for licensing reasons or something.

    I’ve always taken that as a reason, if not the reason, for the total lack of coverage of IDW in the pages of DWM, though there are some clear editorial blinders in place. (In 2010 I thought there must’ve been bad blood between Panini and BBC Books because the official books coverage, always poor, vanished.)

    It’s rumored that IDW thought they had worldwide rights for their Doctor Who comics and then only found out otherwise after launching the line back in 2008. It’s also rumored that Panini can reprint the IDW comics for the UK market, but they have, for whatever reason, chosen not to.

    All of that said, I am hearing that Assimilation2 might be available in the UK officially.

    Next, Paul:

    Thanks for the shout out.

    You’re welcome. I remember reading “Historical Revisionism” when it was first serialized on alt.drwho.creative in the fall of 1997. :)

    In a con dealers’ room I once picked up and paged through a fannish printing of the Airey crossover. It lost me when it produced an in-text rationalization for the Enterprise crew to call the Doctor “Doctor Who”.

    Airey’s writing has some problems, true. My major problem with the story is its characterization of Kirk, which I think she gets completely wrong. She has Kirk as a stick-in-the-mud who gets upset when someone else starts showing him up, so he goes macho on a landing party to re-establish that he’s the Alpha Dog, nearly gets himself killed, and alienates his friends in the process. It’s better in the idea — the Enterprise gets stuck in the Doctor’s universe — than the execution.

    Airey’s sequel, by the way, is not worth tracking down. (I talk about it here.)

    The TNG sequel (or _a_ TNG sequel – are you saying there was more’n one?) similarly lost me when I encountered that dialog tag uniquely native to fanfiction, “almost screamed”.

    The only TNG sequel I know of to Airey’s story is “The Doctor and the Enterprise-D” by Rob Cowell, which has the fourth Doctor matching wits with Q and the Romulans, and then the seventh Doctor and Ace showing up to fight the Borg. Or somesuch like that. What I remember about it — and, mind you, it’s been a long time since I’ve even thought about it — was the Britishness to the whole thing. Riker used the worse “whilst” at one point, as I recall.

    There is another sequel to Airey that I know of, but it’s unfinished. I discovered it about 2002, during my search for information on Airey’s own sequel, and I wrote about the discovery here. Five years after Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Admiral Kirk and Captain Pavel Chekov take the Enterprise-B out for a mission, but there’s an accident that throws the ship into another universe. Presumably it’s the Doctor’s universe, but we don’t actually know as the story stops at that point. There’s very little Who content in it, except that Sarah Jane Smith is lurking around Buffalo, New York, and the seventh Doctor and Ace pick up Turlough for another adventure.

    I’d rather see the Enterprise Prime than the -D, but given the villains chosen to team up that wasn’t possible.

    My personal preference would have been a story using the bleeding edge of both franchises, so the eleventh Doctor and the nuTrek crew. However, that would have meant dealing Bad Robot a hand at the approvals table (since they like to be hands-on with anything involving their movie franchise), and for a project like this IDW would want to keep the speedbumps to a minimum.

    After that, the original series would have been my next choice. But they’re engaged in a crossover with the Legion of Super-Heroes right now, so I can see why IDW might want to avoid doing another crossover with the classic crew.

    (On the other hand, what’s the point of having _two_ emotionally repressed cybernetic monster races in the room, story-wise? Better to square off the Borg and the Daleks [except I already did that]. Unless the Borg and the Cybermen turn out to be branches of each other or something.)

    The logic of the Borg and Cybermen makes sense when you think about it in terms of the way crossovers like this work.

    You usually start with your iconic villains. There’s a reason why the Joker usually turns up in every Batman crossover, and there’s a reason why Lex Luthor usually shows up in every Superman crossover.

    The Next Generation‘s iconic villain has to be the Borg, even though they only appeared in six episodes out of 176 and one movie out of four. But those episodes and that movie! They gave us a cliffhanger that, arguably, Star Trek has never topped — “The Best of Both Worlds.”

    Doctor Who? The iconic villain is the Daleks, hands down, but one has to think that the Daleks are off the table, for the same reason that the nuTrek crew would have been off the table — that would have dealt another hand, in this case the Nation estate, at the approvals table. So move down your depth chart of iconic Doctor Who villains, and your number two choice would be either the Cybermen or the Master.

    The Master would work, but only if paired with someone like Gul Madred. You couldn’t really pair one person with an entire race of soulless automatons. You have to use the Cybermen, then.

    (Now that I’m thinking about it, a Khan/Master team-up would be awesome. It almost writes itself.)

    Since crossovers like this work by having the villains team up, forcing the heroes to team up, then a Borg/Cybermen match makes perfect sense. It could be that there’s a natural connection between them, or perhaps they can complement each other in some way. I agree somewhat, though, that they’re very similar in their modus operandi and their goals, making the match less than stellar.

    Based on the Tiptons’ previous Star Trek work, I have a hunch that this story could tread on some interesting psychological territory.

    We’ll see. :)

  4. Thanks for the shout-out, as well. :)

    I’m down with it, simply because it’s a reminder that Trek is supposed to be fun, by golly. Who already has its share of whimsy, so you think this sort of thing would fit right in, but Trek–particularly the spin-offs, can take themselves so seriously. Trek fans do that, too, which is why I always chuckle when they get miffed about stuff like this.

    Next up? I want a Trek/Green Lantern Corps crossover.

  5. You couldn’t really pair one person with an entire race of soulless automatons.

    Actually, I thought it turned out one of my better stories.

    It’s good to hear that the writers are someone you have confidence in.

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