Wednesday, 18 April 2012




Compiled and written by Justin Richards


Reviewed by Scott Weller

It’s a well known fact that five generations of DOCTOR WHO fans from childhood to adult (or even Kid-ulthood!) have always watched the show because they adore the series concept and the lead role of the exciting, time and space traversing Time Lord (in all of his eleven guises so far) as well as his multitude of accessible, spunky and equally brave companions. But, most importantly for the younger viewers often watching it on tenterhooks, they enjoy WHO because they like to be scared by the incredible and diverse monsters that our heroes encounter on a weekly basis (with mum and dad close by to reassure them if it all gets a little bit too scary for them), as their diabolically evil, often very carnivorous and decidedly ambitious plans are just about stopped by them with their courage and often spare of the moment ingenuity-a morality battle of good and evil wrapped up satisfactorily in forty-five minutes, or, as seen in the not too distant past, over four to six serialised adventurous episodes.

Now, uberWHO fan and keeper of its literary flame at BBC Books, Justin Richards, armed to the teeth with bags of Jelly Babies, a handy scarf to distract and topple over baddies, and a seemingly unstoppable Sonic Screwdriver, has braved the far intergalactic reaches of the galaxy to bring us a veritable cornucopia of the most revolting, mechanical, scaly, winged, dribbling, mutated, land and sea traversing creatures ever seen in the show-monsters of past, present and future, and of all shapes and sizes- for a fine and scary celebration that is DOCTOR WHO: 100 SCARIEST MONSTERS!

Perennial favourites like the Cybermen return...

And in its legend as the longest-running science fiction show in the world, WHO has certainly bred some of the most inventive and successful monsters ever conceived for the analogue and digital television age; many of its big-gun creations making lasting and terrorising impressions on family viewing in return performances, well-realised in such a way that they have become household fright icons, with lots of the series classic monsters undoubtedly from the shows second to fourth incarnation eras of Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker: who can forget the sinister emotionless Cybermen, the green scaled Martian’s: the Ice Warriors, the plastic Auton killers, the squat, war-mongering Sontarans, or the cuddly but killing androids, the Yeti. Some creatures may only have made singular appearances but their vividness lingers in the mind’s eye (like the original versions of Jon Pertwee’s water-rising Sea Devils, the foetus-like Zygons (who may be returning to the show soon) and their Skarasen beast, the art deco VOC Robots of Death, the insect-like Wirrn, or eighties villains like the slithery and devious Sil, or the colourful bird/reptilians with designs on historical plague-ridden London: the Terileptils). With its invigorated rise to the top of the ratings charts from 2004 onwards, new enemies from the fertile minds of re-imaginors Russell T. Davies, Steven Moffat and the like have added to the impressive monster roster: CGI creations that flex their muscles and claws beyond anything ever conceived and capable from the classic shows effects departments, building on the originals firm and innovative for its time foundations. Modern WHO representations in the book include such gruesome delights as the memory forgetting inducers that are part of The Silence, the stone creepies that are The Weeping Angels (“Don’t blink!”), the infectious water creatures of Mars that are The Flood, the ravenous Slitheen, the warrior Sycorax, etc, etc. And let’s not forget human enemies like the classic and modern WHO series leaping Time Lord villain, The Master, who also gets a fine look in within its packed pages…

Dominating this historic monster-mash, though, must be the shows most iconic, seemingly unkillable, always coming back for more (despite often incredible defeats) pepper pots with x-ray laser blasters: the vicious and all-dominating fearsome residents of Skaro who have plagued the Doctor since his second story way back in 1963 and helped launch the show into being what it is today-the grand-daddy villains of them all: the Daleks. Created by Terry Nation and designed by Raymond Cusick, these emotionless killers still reign supreme: their eventual re-appearances over the years always much welcomed by fans worldwide, within tales that also become more ambitious and ground-breaking -their shrilling, merciless war-cry voices getting kids enthusiastically imitating them in the playground now as they did in the sixties prime. The Daleks are well represented within this book, in sections that are a worthy primer for their colourful and legion return later in the year; firmly getting us in the mood for the old and new designs coming back to wage war against the Doctor in the opening episode of Season Seven, from writer/producer Steven Moffat.

...whilst newcomers like The Silence are well showcased.

Beyond the Daleks, a few of my own personal monster choices from the Classic era sadly, and disappointingly, don’t make the book grade (like Jon Pertwee’s lethal Drashigs, or Peter Davison’s excellent Mara snake creature (recently given over a very effective CGI makeover in its DVD episode releases), but overall there’s truly something for everyone here, managing to successfully deliver and capture readers with its tentacled grasp with its wide cross section appeal.

Accompanied with brief but informative notes, stats and all-important fear factor ratings, the majority of the design spreads for the books are very good, often inspired (especially for some of the CLASSIC WHO monster sections), but some linked to the new series prove to be a bit of a mixed bag visually, smaller episodic imagery occasionally gets swamped or absorbed by overall too dark templates. Some of the selected monster images are also too firmly centred in the middle stapled area and damage their overall effectiveness. These designs surely looked great when seen in layout form on a computer or PDF, but suffer when seen in their finished printed form.  Still, I think it’s the adult buyers of the book who’ll be more concerned by such niggles rather than the intended younger reader audience that this book will clearly delight: they won’t have such concerns and will, no doubt, spend hours and hours fascinatedly pouring over the diverse and intriguing creatures just as older fans did with the now more basic looking DOCTOR WHO MONSTERS books that the great Terrance Dicks did for TARGET BOOKS in the mid-seventies. 100 SCARIEST MONSTERS continues the tradition and is a welcome purchase for any die-hard fans collection, too.

BBC CHILDREN'S BOOKS, keeping their fingers firmly on the pulse (or should that be shielding their jugulars?), have another accomplished tie-in winner. Firmly to be in the entrenched grip of young readers during the summer holidays and the return of the series to the Autumn BBC schedules, 100 SCARIEST MONSTERS is best read behind a sofa, peering over it with hands outstretched turnings its pages: a fine compilation and tribute to the series writers and production teams both old and new: the designers, the make-up and creature builders, and the great actors, who have brought them all to vivid reality: those weird and wonderful aliens, monsters and robots that have fascinated and terrorised us marvellously, and so potently, over the years, even more appreciated now as DOCTOR WHO approaches its all important, and iconic, 50thanniversary.

KOOL TV RATING: A fangs for the memory 8 out of 10

Check out our KOOL TV FACEBOOK photo gallery of old and new WHO monsters here: DOCTOR WHO-MONSTERS OLD AND NEW

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