Oh Koquillion.

TV Oh Koquillion.

You might look like some kind of all purpose wheel replacement device sold at Halfords, but you're also the best monster in Doctor Who history.

Which is why it's a shame that you're not included in the new BBC Books publication The Monster Vault and indeed your lack of presence is a massive spoiler for your source story to anyone who hasn't seen it.  

How I wish you'd been given the full page painting and voluminous text treatment anyway to give old school fans a wry smile and to double the surprise for newbies taking the pilgrimage for the first time.

But I understand why.  Such projects already have a limited enough pagination and to go all that trouble for an inaccurate wheeze doesn't really make sense.

So by way of a replacement, here's an explanation as to why you're my favourite monster, lightly edited for its third appearance on this blog.

Across its two episodes, the otherwise unassuming 1964 adventure The Rescue was responsible for a number of firsts for Doctor Who.

The first introduction to a replacement companion, the Doctor’s grand daughter Susan having been left behind in the wake of The Dalek Invasion Of Earth the week before.

The first episode to appear in the top ten most-watched programmes of the week, which really is quite something when you consider this was at the height of Dalekmania.

The first planet visited by the Doctor that he’s claimed to have visited before. Apart from Earth.

The first occasion the Doctor explains how the TARDIS moves. We’re told for the first time that it doesn’t just land, it “materialises”.

Which isn’t bad considering its overall fan appreciation status. In Doctor Who Magazine’s 2009 survey, The Rescue came 127th.

Which is odd considering it contains one of the show’s best monsters and an amazing twist, which I’m about to give away so I’d urge you to look away now if you haven’t seen it yet. Yes, this is a spoiler alert for a 60s story.

He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not (Time Lord Victorious).

Audio  Judging by the added content, the fact this even exists is a miracle.  Recorded during lockdown with all of the actors in isolation, it's to their credit and Scott Handcock the director that it didn't once occur to me that this wasn't all created during a typical Big Finish recording day on either side of a massive lunch.  The logistics of this are mind-boggling, especially when characters who're supposed to be in love are emitting such chemistry.  

With Brian the Assassin Ood from The Knight, The Fool and the Dead also in this new Big Finish series we're clearly on the road to explaining why the Eighth Doctor cropped up at the end of that novel, with the current Ninth Doctor strip in the parish circular setting up his side of that reveal.  Having originally been a bit skeptical of this whole endeavor as a mild case of franchise hubris, the ingenuity of exec producer James Goss and his umbrella story has sucked me in.

Carrie Thompson's script is also incredibly strong.  The Doctor, perhaps still hiding from the Time War, can't seem to be able to land in any of this old haunts and when he finally ends up in what he thinks is going to be a beautiful tourist attraction, it turns out to be a dust bowl, populated by the tropes of a spaghetti western.  Cast as the man with no name he stumbles into town to try and save a couple of the run from their home and Brian's murderous orders to kill one and kidnap the other.

Comparisons with A Town Called Mercy are inevitable, although the Doctor is on a much clearer moral foundation and even specifically says he doesn't like guns which delights the younger version of me.  The parallel story adds depth.  Has the Tenth Doctor somehow changed history and Eighth is experiencing the ramifications?  How does that effect the Time War?  See what I mean?  I'm fully on board now.  I might even end up buying the Titan comics.

Placement: Before The Knight, The Fool and the Dead.

The Knight, The Fool and the Dead (Time Lord Victorious).

Books As many of you will know, Time Lord Victorious is a cross-platform Doctor Who festival spread across various ranges and licencees. In essence it's the Eighth Doctor era but with a more cohesive structure and narrative thronds weaving in and out various audios, books and comics. Individually they're supposed to make sense but the user gains a richer experience from listening and reading it all.

Steve Cole's novels seems to be at the epicentre.  In the aftermath of The Waters of Mars, the Tenth Doctor runs from his mistakes into the Dark Times and discovers a race of beings, the Kotturoh are travelling the galaxy rewriting the DNA of other races to some master plan, potentially being the source of the very concept of death as its expressed in the Doctor's own time.  He decides to stop them.

From the beginning we can tell that something has broken inside the Doctor, that without anyone to stop him, his usual benevolence has become infected by malignancy.  He's sharper, more cantankerous, less patient and more than ever willing to trying to bend reality to his will if he believes its for the good of the cosmos and damn free will.  In his head, the ends justify the means.

He's become the kind of figure that David Collings inhabited in the Big Finish Unbound story Full Fathom Five.  Still the Doctor, but something is off and we can only imagine how Tennant would have played it, this whole portion of his life having almost been skipped over on screen ten years ago.  So it's quite a bold step to make it the premise of a story which is ostensibly for children.

The Eighth Doctor's participation is limited to a flashback interlude perhaps set during the Big Finish strand of stories (I presume, I'm saving them) then a huge, barnstorming appearance at the end.  Judging by his costuming on the cover of this book's sequel (coming soon!), it's his Time War iteration so he's traveled from one universe wide wave of destruction to participate in another.  Busy life.

Steve Cole was series editor during Eighth's formative prose years and it's a pleasure to see him write the character again, coming across as a more meditative soul than his counterpart from four incarnations hence.  He's more clearly defined here and closer to his Big Finish counterpart than in some of the short stories of recent years, which just demonstrates the co-ordination at play across this whole project.

Placement: Just before the first Big Finish Time War series?