Sylvester McCoy’s Seventh Doctor Gets The Spotlight: This Week In Science Fiction

By David Wharton | Updated

McCoyDoctor Who: The Doctors Revisited — The Seventh Doctor
BBC America, Saturday, July 27, 7/6c

Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary is no small milestone, and one of the ways BBC America has been celebrating it here in the States is with retrospective specials covering each incarnation of the Doctor. With only four months left before we see the much-hyped anniversary episode, the latest special is tipping a (Panama) hat to the Seventh Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy. He played the Time Lord from 1987 – 1989, and later appeared in Fox’s 1996 Doctor Who TV movie, where he regenerated into the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann). Sadly, McGann’s tenure only lasted for that single movie, setting aside expanded universe material such as books and comics. (It’ll be interesting to see how they find enough content to fill out the McGann special next month.)

For some reason Tom Baker and McCoy pretty much dominated my Doctor Who experience growing up. The show aired on my local PBS station, and for whatever reason I only ever seemed to catch the Baker and McCoy episodes. That makes me a little sad that neither of them will be involved in the anniversary episode (although I do have to admit that their change in physical appearance over the decades would require a bit of explanation…). Thankfully, fellow McCoy fans will be able to get another adventure of the Seventh Doctor — as well as the Fourth (Baker), Fifth (Peter Davison), Sixth (Colin Baker), and Eighth (McGann) — in the upcoming Big Finish audio drama The Light at the End, which is set to release this November.

Here’s what’s new This Week in Science Fiction!

Cat 8 (Reelz, 8/7c)
You could be forgiven for not knowing what the hell Reelz is, much less where it’s found in your channel lineup. In the battle to differentiate itself from all the other TV content out there, Reelz seems to be striving for “original disaster movies slightly less shitty than Syfy’s usual Saturday-night lineup.” This time they’ve got Matthew Modine up against an enormous fireball that’s about to wipe out the Earth.

Under the Dome (CBS, 10/9c) — “Blue on Blue”
“The residents of Chester’s Mill receive unexpected visits from loved ones on the other side. Meanwhile, the town braces for a threat from outside the dome.” This show seems to be trending more towards “Langoliers Stephen King” than “Stand By Me Stephen King.” Gotta say, I was expecting better from Bryan K. Vaughan.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXVII (DVD)
Allow the MST3K crew to be your guide through these wonderfully unfortunate cinematic outings: The Slime People, Rocket Attack USA, Village of the Giants, and The Deadly Mantis.

TwoFrontsTwo Fronts (The War That Came Early, Book Five)” by Harry Turtledove
Summary via Amazon:

In 1942, two nations switch sides—and World War II takes a horrifying new course.

In the real world, England and France allowed Adolf Hitler to gobble up the Sudetenland in 1938. Once Hitler finished dismembering Czechoslovakia, he was ready to go to war over Poland a year later. But Hitler had always been eager to seize Czechoslovakia, no matter the consequences. So what if England and France had stood up to the Nazis from the start, and not eleven months later? That is the question behind the War That Came Early series.

Four years later, the civil war in Spain drags on, even after General Franco’s death. The United States, still neutral in Europe, fights the Japanese in the Pacific. Russia and Germany go toe-to-toe in Eastern Europe—yet while Hitler stares east, not everything behind him is going as well as he would like. But nothing feeds ingenuity like the fear of losing. The Germans wheel out new tanks and planes, Japan deploys weapons of a very different sort against China, and the United States, England, and France do what they can to strengthen themselves against imminent danger.

Seen through the eyes of ordinary citizens caught in the maelstrom, this is a you-are-there chronicle of battle on land and sea and in the air. Here are terrifying bombing raids that shatter homes, businesses, and the rule of law. Here are commanders issuing orders that, once given, cannot be taken back. And here are the seeds of rebellion sown in blood-soaked soil.

In a war in which sides are switched and allies trust one another only slightly more than they trust their mortal enemies, Nazi Germany has yet to send its Jews to death camps, and dangerous new nationalist powers arise in Eastern Europe. From thrilling submarine battles to the horror of men fighting men and machines all through Europe, Two Fronts captures every aspect of a brilliantly reimagined conflict: the strategic, the political, and the personal force of leaders bending nations to their wills.

Weird or What? (Syfy, 8/7c) — “Curses / Weird Animal Behavior / Ghosts in the Machine”
Syfy’s unleashing another extended block of this William Shatner-hosted series, but I probably shouldn’t get my hopes up and expect tonight’s lineup to focus on a a cursed animal machine ghost with behavioral problems.

YearsBestThe Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection,” Edited by Gardner Dozois

In the new millennium, what secrets lay beyond the far reaches of the universe? What mysteries belie the truths we once held to be self evident? The world of science fiction has long been a porthole into the realities of tomorrow, blurring the line between life and art. Now, in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection the very best SF authors explore ideas of a new world through their short stories. This venerable collection brings together award winning authors and masters of the field such as Robert Reed, Alastair Reynolds, Damien Broderick, Elizabeth Bear, Paul McAuley and John Barnes. And with an extensive recommended reading guide and a summation of the year in science fiction, this annual compilation has become the definitive must-read anthology for all science fiction fans and readers interested in breaking into the genre.

Doctor Who #11 (IDW Publishing)
We may be rapidly approaching the end of Matt Smith’s run on Doctor Who, but you can still enjoy further adventures of Eleven, Amy, and Rory in IDW’s ongoing comic series.

Finding themselves inside an alien asylum, the Doctor, Amy, and Rory have discovered that many of the human patients within actually house the minds of some of the Doctor’s most terrifying enemies! But before the Doctor can work out who has done this hideous body swap, he himself becomes a victim!

Futurama (Comedy Central, 10/9c) — “Calculon 2.0”
“Bender goes grave-robbing to bring his favorite actor, Calculon, back to life.” Possibly the only form of robbing Bender hadn’t gotten around to yet?

Joe Rogan Questions Everything (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Bigfoot Human Hybrid”
Given Syfy’s annoying predilection for devoting airtime that could be given to actual, you know, science fiction, I do have to admit that this latest “paranormal reality” promises to be couched in Rogan’s skepticism about such extraordinary claims. The question is whether that skepticism will be rigorously applied, or if this show will fall in line with Syfy’s other guilty pleasure, Fact of Faked, which is sometimes great but still occasionally throws in the towel and says, “Ghosts did it.”

Mass Effect Foundation #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
BioWare’s extraordinary space opera is in the long lull between the end of the first trilogy of games and…whatever the next game is. In the meantime, Dark Horse is launching a new ongoing series of ME comics, penned by Mac Walters, head writer on the second and third games. Foundation will introduce readers to an “enigmatic agent” and violent happenings on a colony world named Themis. The cover art suggests the humanity-first organization of Cerberus will factor in somehow, which suggests the series will be set sometime before or during the time frame of the game trilogy.

Star Trek #23 (IDW Publishing)

The drumbeats of all-out galactic war grow stronger in this all-new story spinning out of the events of this summer’s blockbuster film Star Trek Into Darkness! The adventures of Kirk, Spock and the crew of the Enterprise continue in this latest chapter overseen by Star Trek writer/producer Roberto Orci!

Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman (Science, 10/9c) — “Do We Have Free Will?”
If we don’t, it’s already decided whether you will or will not tune in to watch this episode.

Continuum (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Second Listen”
“Kiera looks for the missing bodies of several time travelers; at the same time, Alec is held hostage by Garza.”

Primeval: New World (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Truth”
“A Pachycephalosaurus runs wild in the city; and Evan encounters the Albertosaurus that killed his wife.” From hell’s heart, he stabs at thee…

Falling Skies (TNT, 10/9c) — “Xibalba”
“Confidential intelligence about the alien operation surfaces. Elsewhere, an epic explosion halts Charleston’s planned offensive; and the mole’s identity is at last uncovered.” Only one more episode of the season left after this one, but Falling Skies has already been renewed for a fourth season by TNT.