Our look at the three magazines produced by Polystyle Productions during the Seventies continues with the 1974 Special.
The 1974 Special is fronted by a curious photo of the third Doctor looking a bit knackered. See inside, it says, for “thrilling picture stories, quizzes, exciting features, portrait pin ups and lots more!”
Judging from the photo the excitement has exhausted him! Jon Pertwee’s introduction on the inside page hopes we have a lovely holiday and continue to be fans of the Doctor. Well so far I am but the holiday I’ve totally forgotten!
`Doomcloud` is the first comic strip story this time concerning the bulbous headed Zirconians who seem to travel about looking for new planets in the middle of a galactic cyclone. After only a page and a half this is a far more engaging story than any of the ones in the 1973 Special. In order to save people’s lives UNIT has to evacuate everyone to nuclear shelters as a poisonous cloud envelops the world. The ending is a little pat but even so this is a good start.
Next up we’re invited to take a test to see if we’d be a good companion though this turns out not to consist of questions such as `Could you convincingly wear a feather boa?` or `How good are you at handing someone a test tube?` instead asking whether you enjoy fairground rides or could repair a transistor radio.
There’s a feature on the then new companion Sarah Jane Smith or rather Elisabeth Sladen who informs us that Jon Pertwee has “a wacky sense of humour and cares very much about the programme.” The article points out her Liverpool origins adding “though you’d never guess from her well concealed accent”. Perhaps a Liverpool accent was against the law in 1974? There’s a poster of her on the next page followed by one of the Doctor who is staring at a rock. A crossword comes next (you can tell the Internet wasn’t invented in 1974, magazines are full of things kids can be doing) and then the story `Perils of Paris`.
Though the story features Sarah she looks nothing like Lis Sladen while the Doctor’s made to look as if he’s 102 and during the course of the adventure starts to mutate into Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Anyhow they try to travel to Paris in 1880 but end up in Paris in New Mexico. This is a ropey story that includes Buffalo Bill and peters out rather lamely. As with the first Special the centre pages consist of another throw the dice game followed by a feature on Jon Pertwee which contains basic information that surely even the fan of 1974 would know. The Daleks are back in another epic after this, a story in which they steal a spaceship from some rivals. It’s a long strip with a fairly simple plot involving agents and traitors and some flight ship plans that are reassuringly printed on a sheaf of paper even though this is the future.
`Stepping into Space` is the obligatory factual excursion about space flight and even merits two colour posters though you suspect the kids might have preferred something more Doctor Who related. Yet more space travel stuff comes with a quiz and some cartoons. `Who’s Who` the final strip story has the Doctor and Sarah end up on a parallel world where they have space cars, King Edward the Ninth and a pair of dangerous criminals who are the Doctor and Sarah! This is a good story except that the Doctor rather cruelly leaves the duplicates in the Stone Age!