Monthly Archives: May 2013

Marco Polo

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The novelization of Marco Polo.

The novelization of Marco Polo.

Undoubtedly the most sought after of the lost Doctor Who serials, Marco Polo has an almost mythical status.  An historical story, this seven part serial was the fourth to be broadcast and is set in 1289 Cathay (China).  Landing in the Himalayas, the Tardis Crew are picked up by the explorer Marco Polo as his caravan is making its way along  the Silk Road to meet Emperor Kublai Khan. Seeking to win the favour of Khan, Polo seizes the Tardis with the intention of giving the strange “flying caravan” to him.

The BBC made a 30 minute reconstruction of Marco Polo and it was released with The Edge of Destruction as part of the 3 disc The Beginnings box set.  Utilizing photographs from the production, the reconstruction provides a nice teaser of what clearly was an extraordinary serial.  Surprisingly, many colour photos have been preserved, a few of which I share for your viewing pleasure.

Ping ChoMarco Polo 2marco_polo_in_colourMarco Polo

The 30 minute BBC reconstruction of "Marco Polo" can be found in the 3 Disc box set "The Beginning".

The 30 minute BBC reconstruction of “Marco Polo” can be found in the 3 Disc box set “The Beginning”.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

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The Edge of Destruction

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The necessity to produce a two part story without any budget for guest actors, or sets other than the pre-existing Tardis,  precipitated the watershed serial, The Edge of Destruction. The third story of Doctor Who, it followed An Unearthly Child and The Daleks and was envisaged as an inexpensive means of producing the last two of thirteen episodes initially authorized by the BBC for production.

The Edge of Destruction Title Card

The Edge of Destruction Title Card

In a style very much similar to a psychological thriller, The Edge of Destruction focused principally on the interactions between the hitherto discordant Tardis occupants.  After leaving Skaro following the Tardis Crew’s defeat of the Daleks, the ship experiences a frightful bang whilst in flight. The Doctor is laying on the floor, Ian slumped in a chair, and Susan sprawled over the console.  All are unconscious, save for Barbara.  When each awake it is evident that all is not well. The memories of the occupants have been erased and Ian still thinks that he’s at Coal Hill School.

The story begins with all but Barbara unconscious.

The story begins with all but Barbara unconscious.

After patching up the Doctor’s cut head with an almost magical bandage, Susan collapses when she touches the console.  Ian hauls Susan over his shoulder and takes her to the bedroom where he pulls an S shaped recliner down from the wall. Placing Susan on the bed, Ian briefly leaves the room and returns with a wet handkerchief.  Brandishing a pair of scissors, Susan sits up and asks Ian who he is.  She attempts to stab him, but being unsuccessful stabs at the reclining bed numerous times prior to collapsing again. This quite horrifying scene was the cause of many complaints to the BBC and the show’s pioneering producer, Verity Lambert, subsequently admitted that its inclusion was an error of judgement.

Susan threatens Ian with a pair of scissors.

Susan threatens Ian with a pair of scissors.

Barbara wonders whether anything has entered the ship, perhaps another intelligence, thereby producing the crew’s illogical behavior.  An impatient Doctor dismisses Barbara’s concerns and labels them “absurb theories”.  Although Ian had removed the scissors from Susan, she subsequently sneaks out of the sleeping bay and retrieves them, returning to the bed and feigning sleep.  When Barbara checks on Susan she again menaces her with them.

Barbara and the fabulous food machine.

Barbara and the fabulous food machine.

The Doctor, meanwhile, has become increasingly paranoid and accuses Ian and Barbara of having tampered with the ship’s controls.  In response to Ian’s question of why ever they would do that, the Doctor states “Blackmail, that’s why.  You tried to force me to return you to England”. The subsequent exchange between Barbara and the Doctor exhibits so profoundly the distrust and fear amongst the ship’s crew.  It’s worth quoting a section verbatim.

BARBARA: How dare you! Do you realise, you stupid old man, that you’d have died in the Cave of Skulls if Ian hadn’t made fire for you? 
DOCTOR: Oh, I 
BARBARA: And what about what we went through against the Daleks? Not just for us, but for you and Susan too. And all because you tricked us into going down to the city. 
DOCTOR: But I, I 
BARBARA: Accuse us? You ought to go down on your hands and knees and thank us. But gratitude’s the last thing you’ll ever have, or any sort of common sense either. 

Immediately it becomes evident that there is a force, other than the passengers, at work and the Doctor, in an apparent 180 degrees turn , admits that they need more time to think.  Bearing a tray with cups, he  offers all members of the party a cup of tea.  Ian is astounded by the Doctor’s bipolar type behavior and states “I wish I could understand you, Doctor.  One moment you’re abusing us, and the next, you’re playing the perfect butler”.

The Doctor and Ian.

The Doctor and Ian.

The cliff hanger to the first episode sees the Doctor at the console with a person’s hands around his throat.  We learn in the next episode that these are Ian’s hands.  After being pushed away by the Doctor, Ian collapses on the floor.  The Doctor is furious and alleges that  Ian is play-acting.  Again he accuses Barbara and Ian of a plot to control the Tardis.  Despites Barbara’s protestations of innocence the Doctor states “I told you I’d treat you as enemies”.  Barbara asks the Doctor what he thinks she and Ian have done to him.  Have they hypnotised or drugged him?  Accusing the teachers of trying to poison Susan’s mind against him, the Doctor threatens to put Ian and Barbara off the ship.

The Doctor with Susan.

The Doctor with Susan.

The Doctor is soon to admit that the drink he gave them the prior evening was a sleeping drug.  The perfect butler he certainly wasn’t! For reasons best known to himself, the Doctor has an epiphany  and realizes that the problem lies with all crew members. Advising that they are on the brink of destruction, the Doctor says that total destruction is imminent.  Ten minutes is all he believes they had left. Why the crew would believe him, particularly as the Doctor is again forced to confess to lying to Ian, is a moot point.

Barbara and the Doctor.

Barbara and the Doctor.

After an educational diatribe on the formation of solar systems, the Doctor admits to having underestimated Barbara.  It was the spring in the Fast Return, which was permanently switched on, which had been the fault all along.  Barbara, not being happy to accept half hearted apologies, sulks and asks the Doctor why he cares what she thinks and feels.  “As we learn about each other, so we learn about ourselves”, the Doctor responds.  Admitting that he’d accused Ian and Barbara unjustly, the Doctor complimented Barbara on her determination to prove him wrong.

It was the Fast Return all along!

It was the Fast Return all along.  It’s a shame that the BBC couldn’t afford any professional lettering!

The episodes ends with the Tardis having landed in a snow covered land. Offering Barbara “wearing apparel” from the ship’s “extensive wardrobe” the Doctor gives Barbara his arm and states “we must look after you, you know.  You’re very valuable”.

The Edge of Destruction was originally broadcast on BBC ONE between 8th and 15th February 1964.

The Edge of Destruction was originally broadcast on BBC ONE between 8th and 15th February 1964.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

Transcript courtesy of http://www.chakoteya.net/doctorwho/1-3.htm

The Daleks – Character Development

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The Unearthly Child introduced Ian and Barbara as reluctant passengers of the Doctor’s spaceship who had been held against their will by the Doctor in an immoral, if not criminal, manner. The Doctor, however, saw no ethical issue with his actions and blamed the teachers for barging their way into his ship uninvited.  The Doctor’s lack of empathy for the stranded passengers evidenced his narcissistic tendencies and refusal to acknowledge responsibility for any of his actions. On those few occasions when he apologized to Ian and Barbara it was inevitably shallow and consisted of platitudes such as “I’m sorry, I’m so terribly sorry”.  The Doctor would soon revert, however, to his standard fare of blaming all but himself.

Ian and Barbara are reluctant passengers of the Tardis.

Ian and Barbara are reluctant passengers of the Tardis.

Relations between Ian and Barbara, and the Doctor, remained strained throughout the The Daleks.  In the first episode, The Dead Planet, Barbara questioned if the Doctor would ever return them to earth and Ian, admitting to being scared, doubted it would ever happen. Barbara expressed frustration at having nothing to rely on and being unable to recognize or trust anything.  She even pondered whether the Doctor deserved some form of retribution.  The teachers were not the happy companions of later series, excited to experience a life of adventure travelling through time and space.  They had no desire to travel with the Doctor and were keen to return to the security of 1963 London at the earliest possible convenience.

Ian and a Dalek - in colour!

Ian and a Dalek – in colour!

When Ian forcefully told the Doctor that “we’re fellow travellers, whether you like it or not”, the Doctor retaliated with his standard defense that they had pushed their way into his ship. By way of an analogy, no Court of Law would acquiesce to householders permanently detaining trespassers to their property!   The Doctor’s arrogant attitude continued unabated in The Daleks when he dismissed Ian’s inquiries by stating “I won’t be questioned by uninvited passengers”.

Ian's legs are paralysed by a Dalek attack.

Ian’s legs are paralysed by a Dalek attack.

The Doctor’s ultimate act of treachery to his almost prisoner-like teacher companions was to remove the fluid link from the Tardis, and then claim that it required mercury to work again.  This, of course, was one of the Doctor’s many lies and done solely with the intention of affording him the opportunity to explore the Dalek city on the premise that he might obtain mercury there.   The Doctor did not admit to his lie until the second episode, The Survivors, during which time he contemplated departing with Susan and leaving Ian and Barbara alone in the Dalek city.  Ian, the moral compass as always, argued that it was about time that the Doctor faced up to responsibility.

Barbara, the Doctor and Susan attempt to extricate Ian from inside the Dalek.

Barbara, the Doctor and Susan attempt to extricate Ian from inside the Dalek.

That morality was not a consideration for the Doctor was stated in as many words when he asserted that “this is no time for morals” when discussing the Thals’ pacifist objections to assisting the Tardis Crew retrieve the fluid link. Without the fluid link the ship and its crew would be stranded on Skaro.  Clearly the Doctor considered his and Susan’s interests more highly than that of the collective Thal people.

The Doctor and his oldest foe.

The Doctor and his oldest foe.

Although successful in defeating the Daleks together, the Tardis Crew was still not a cohesive group of fellow travellers.  It would take the third story of Doctor Who, The Edge of Destruction, to exhibit just how brittle relations between the alien Doctor and his grand-daughter, and their human passengers, really were.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

Dr. Who and the Daleks

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Doctor Who and the Daleks

Within 18 months of the broadcasting of the BBC serial, The Daleks, Dalekmania had gripped the UK. The Daleks were now to be seen in all their colourful glory on the big screen in this somewhat sanitized adaptation starring Peter Cushing.

A brief step sideways in our chronological journey through 50 years of Doctor Who takes us to the big screen colour remake of The Daleks. Quite unexpectedly the second Doctor Who serial brought forth an almost instantaneous wave of Dalekmania. Sydney Newman, the Canadian born BBC Head of Drama, had famously been quoted as saying that Who was to have “no bug eyed monsters”. Newman subsequently admitted his error of judgement and acknowledged that it was the Daleks that propelled Who to great success.

Dr. Who and the Daleks' Susan, Barbara, Doctor and Ian.

Dr. Who and the Daleks’ Susan, Barbara, Dr. Who and Ian.

Whilst the dialogue remained reasonably true to Terry Nation’s original script, the screen adaptation of The Daleks took considerable liberties in reimaging the central characters of The Doctor, Susan, Barbara and Ian. The Doctor is not an alien, but rather an eccentric grandfather who builds a Tardis in the backyard of his suburban home. He is referred to throughout as “Dr.Who” rather than The Doctor. His grand-daughter, Susan, is much younger than the television portrayal and is perhaps 8 or 9 years old. Barbara is not a 30ish school teacher but rather Dr. Who’s eldest grand-daughter who is in her late teens. Her new boyfriend, Ian, is not the mature, intelligent and resourceful (single) teacher we see in Who, but rather a babbling klutz. Ian’s principal role is to provide comic relief and couldn’t be further from William Russell’s portrayal of Ian as the moral compass of Who.

Some mighty fine looking Daleks.

Some mighty fine looking Daleks.

Characterization aside, Dr. Who and The Daleks is nonetheless a fun, if somewhat inane, romp and is undeniably beautifully realized in colour. The Daleks are spectacular in their colourful diversity and are of much more solid construction than their TV counterparts. Voiced by Who’s David Graham and Peter Hawkins, who unfortunately aren’t so credited, they thankfully sound totally authentic. The Thals also look spectacular, and somewhat camp, on screen with their blonde wigs, heavy bluish green eye shadow and yellow lipstick. Although lacking the darkness and depth of the original television serial Dr.Who and the Daleks is nonetheless worth a view for purely nostalgic purposes. Having now been released on Blu Ray it’s sure to look even more astounding.

The gorgeous Thals.

The gorgeous Thals.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Daleks

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The Terry Nation penned seven part serial, The Daleks,  is undoubtedly a product of its times.  Produced less than two decades after the cessation of the Second World War, and just prior to the emergence of the 1960’s peace movement, The Daleks not so subtly examines the politics of appeasement, pacifism and the effects of nuclear war.

"The Daleks" writer, Terry Nation,

“The Daleks” writer, Terry Nation.

The Daleks are a by product of a neutronic war between the then humanoid  Daleks and their fellow inhabitants of the planet Skaro, the Thals.  At the cessation of the war 500 years earlier the Dalek forefathers, mutated as a consequence of radiation, retreated into the Dalek underground city and protected themselves inside the machines we now know as the iconic Daleks.   The Thals remained outside the city and also mutated, abandoning their warrior ideology and becoming pacifists.

Ray Cusick, the designer of the iconic Daleks.

Ray Cusick, the designer of the iconic Daleks.

Whereas the Dalek mutation was horrific, the Thal mutation resulted in a fine looking race of blonde humanoids.  Susan considered them magnificent looking people. The Thals protected themselves from further mutation with an anti-radiation drug and became farmers. They cultivated their land, relying on a great rain every two or three years to maintain their crops.  At the time of the Doctor and his companions arrival on Skaro the Thals much needed rain was two years overdue.  As a consequence they had left their plateau  12 months previously in search of better pastures and food.

The Doctor and the gorgeous Thals.

The Doctor and the gorgeous Thals.

Unlike the Thals, the Daleks maintained, fostered and celebrated their warrior heritage.  They knew that some Thals survived the neutronic war but assumed that they must be terribly mutated . As Ian quickly learned, the Daleks don’t act and feel like humans.  They have “a dislike for the unlike”.  They are arrogant and will make no concessions.  As one Dalek stated “we don’t have to adapt to the environment.  The environment will adapt to us”.  That the writer, Terry Nation, chose to have these words coming from the story’s aggressors exhibits his obvious interest in the environment decades prior to society’s concern about Global Warming.

Barbara encounters a Dalek for the first time.

Barbara encounters a Dalek for the first time.

After obtaining some of the Thal’s anti-radiation drugs,  the Daleks on which the drugs  were administered become ill. It quickly became evident that the Daleks relied on radiation for their continued existence and they determined to release a massive dose of radiation the following day.  In doing so it was hoped that the Thals would be destroyed and the Daleks would become Masters of Skaro.  The Daleks considered it logical that both the Thals and the Tardis Crew would attack them.

Susan accepts delivery of anti-radiation drugs from a Thal.

Susan accepts delivery of anti-radiation drugs from a Thal.

The once warrior race of Thals, however, were now farmers and pacifists.  Their society is a democracy where decisions can’t be made without the full approval of the people. They subscribe to the philosophy that “fear breeds hatred and war” and would return to the plateau from which they came if they were attacked by the Daleks. As one of the Thals stated “there can never be any question of the Thals fighting the Daleks”.

The Doctor and Susan are confronted by Daleks whilst held prisoner.

The Doctor and Susan are confronted by Daleks whilst held prisoner.

Ian and Barbara are intrigued by the Thal’s pacifism.  Barbara wonders if it’s possible for pacifism to become a human instinct, whilst Ian posits that pacifism only works if everyone thinks the same way. Barbara ponders if pacifism is a belief that has become a reality because they’ve never had to test it. The Tardis Crew, however, seek the Thal’s fighting assistance to get into the Dalek city and retrieve the fluid link that the Daleks had previously confiscated from them. Ian is initially reticent to have the Thals sacrifice themselves for the sake of assisting the Doctor and his companions.  The Doctor, however, considers this no time for morals and engages in a verbal dispute with Ian.  Ian asks if the Thals are cowards or against fighting on principal.

Ian attempts to goad the Thals into fighting.

Ian attempts to goad the Thals into fighting.

Attempting to goad the Thals into action and determine if there’s anything they will fight for, Ian  grabs a Thal woman by the arm and threatens to take her to the Dalek city with him.  A Thal male retaliates by punching Ian in the face. Reclining on the ground and rubbing his face, Ian’s mission has been accomplished as he has proved that the Thals will indeed fight for what is theirs.  It doesn’t take long for the Thals to then agree to assist the Tardis Crew in their actions against the Daleks.

The Doctor and Dyoni.

The Doctor and Dyoni.

Hasten to add, the Doctor, his companions and the Thals eventually defeat the Daleks in their own city. The moral of the story, therefore, is that pacifism is no answer to unadulterated aggression.  Born in 1930, Terry Nation grew up during the Second World War at a time when in his own words “men were trying to kill me”.  Nation was clearly contemptuous of the British policy of appeasement against German and Italian aggression in the 1930s, considering it cowardice.  The pacifist Thals were therefore analogous to the pre World War II British and the Daleks to the German Nazis.  The Doctor represents those who were skeptical of appeasement.   Once the Thals rejected pacifism and fought they, like Britain, were successful in defeating the (Dalek) enemy.

Vivien Fleming

Doctor Who and the Daleks

The first Doctor Who monsters and the Doctor’s oldest foes, the Daleks, were introduced to the public between 21 December 1963 and 1 February 1964. A British icon was born.

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

An Unearthly Child

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3 DVD Disc Set including the first ever Doctor Who serials "An Unearthly Child", "The Daleks" and "The Edge of Destruction".

3 DVD Disc Set including the first ever Doctor Who serials “An Unearthly Child”, “The Daleks” and “The Edge of Destruction”.

"An Unearthly Child".  The first ever Doctor Who serial broadcast between 23 November and 14 December 1963.

“An Unearthly Child”. The first ever Doctor Who serial broadcast between 23 November and 14 December 1963.

Those with even a cursory knowledge of the history of Doctor Who will invariably be aware that An Unearthly Child was the first Doctor Who serial ever screened on (British) television. Broadcast on 23 November 1963 , An Unearthly Child is in reality the name of the first of four 25 minute episodes that constituted the first Doctor Who story, or “serial”. Prior to The Savages, which was aired from 30 April 1966, all episodes in a serial had a unique name but no collective serial title. It was only in later years that an overriding serial title was assigned to these earlier individually named episodes which constituted a single story. What is now known as An Unearthly Child was broadcast in four episodes entitled “An Unearthly Child”, “Cave of Skulls”, “The Forest of Fear”, and “The Firemaker”.

The opening credits to "An Unearthly Child".

The opening credits to “An Unearthly Child”.

Unsurprisingly, it is in this serial that we first meet The Doctor, together with his three companions, Susan Foreman, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright. Although the viewer is soon appraised of the fact that The Doctor is not from our planet, the earth, the location of his home is not disclosed for a number of years. Nor is The Doctor identified as a Time Lord who has two hearts and is capable of regeneration in the event of serious injury or impending death. Our soon to be hero’s Gallifreyan heritage and unique physical characteristics are traits that have yet to be invented by the programme’s writers.

The Doctor's grand-daughter Susan, with her History Teacher, Barbara Wright and Science Teacher, Ian Chesterton.

The Doctor’s grand-daughter Susan, with her History Teacher, Barbara Wright and Science Teacher, Ian Chesterton.

Instead, we meet a seemingly elderly man who is at best a little crotchety, and at worst devoid of any vestiges of morality. The Doctor is not the hero that he is to soon become, but rather an alien being, in the physical form of a human, whose actions are profoundly egocentric. Accompanying him to 1963 London is his 15 year old grand-daughter, Susan, who against the Doctor’s express desires enrolls in a local comprehensive secondary school, Coal Hill School. Just why an alien teenager would attend school is never explained, although one might posit that Susan was keen to escape from her grandfather’s control and experience a settled and ordinary “human” existence.

Susan intrigues her teachers by being absolutely brilliant at some things and excruciatingly bad at others.

Susan intrigues her teachers by being absolutely brilliant at some things and excruciatingly bad at others.

Home for the Doctor and Susan during their earthly sojourn is an apparently abandoned Scrap Metal Merchant’s yard. The gate to the yard bears a sign reading “IM Foreman Scrap Metal Merchant”. Mr Foreman’s whereabouts, and the circumstances in which the Doctor and Susan took up residence there, is not revealed. Amongst the junk that has accumulated in premises is a blue Police Box. A common sight in 1960s London, these Police Boxes were used by the local constabulary to make telephone calls back to their Police Stations and to temporarily hold arrested persons. This box, however, is no ordinary Police Box but the Doctor’s spaceship which Susan named the Tardis, an acronym for “Time and Relative Dimensions in Space”. Bigger on the inside than out, the Tardis is capable of travelling through time and space.

The Doctor's earthly home, 76 Totters Lane.

The Doctor’s earthly home, 76 Totters Lane.

Concerned by the diminishing standard of Susan’s homework, two of her teachers, Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton resolved to visit her home and speak to Susan’s grandfather. Barbara teaches history and Ian teaches Science. Following Susan home one evening, Ian and Barbara see Susan enter the Scrap Metal yard and discreetly follow her in. Once inside the yard the teachers are unable to find where Susan has gone and investigate the premises. Confronted by the Doctor, who sneaks out of the darkness, the teacher detectives identify themselves and seek information on Susan’s whereabouts. The Doctor is arrogant and dismissive of the teachers’ questions and denies that Susan has entered the yard. A noise from inside the Tardis, however, alerts Ian and Barbara to Susan’s presence. They gain entry into the Tardis and are dumbfounded by what appears to be an optical illusion. Notwithstanding the evidence Barbara and Ian aren’t convinced that the Doctor and Susan are from another time and world. Angry at having strangers barge their way into his spaceship, the Doctor contemplates the problems that this may cause. Prior to being able to act upon his desire not to release the pair, a scuffle occurs and the Tardis accidentally starts. Ian and Barbara pass out as we hear the now distinctive sound of the Tardis materializing. Like it or not, the teachers are now unwilling companions of the Doctor and Susan as they begin their travels in time and space.

The Tardis materializes for the first time.

The Tardis materializes for the first time.

It has not been infrequently stated that the following three episodes of this story are nothing more than cavemen running around talking and fighting about fire. Whilst fire is indeed the principal topic of the remainder of the serial it is by no means quite so simple. The Tardis lands in a deserted location which the viewer soon learns is in pre-historic times. The land is inhabited by a tribe of cavemen who have lost their knowledge of how to make fire. The previous leader of the tribe died without imparting the tribe with this essential knowledge and as a consequence their continued existence is threatened. Whilst investigating the strange box which is inhabiting their landscape, the cavemen come upon the Doctor who, for the first and last time in Doctor Who, is seen to be smoking. The cavemen are intrigued by the fire that is seemingly comes from the Doctor’s fingers as he lights his pipe. The smoke he exhales is further evidence to these pre-historic men that the doctor is possessed of unique powers that permit him to make fire. The Doctor’s ability to make fire is needed by the tribe. The Doctor is kidnapped by the tribe and taken back to their cave home and is subsequently joined by the other three members of the Tardis crew.

The Doctor is kidnapped for his smoking habit.

The Doctor is kidnapped for his smoking habit.

The tribe’s subsequent internal battles for leadership and the Tardis team’s attempts to escape fill the following episodes. Although the desire to obtain, or not to obtain, fire is the pervasive theme, nonetheless important character development and moral messages are evident. In a society seemingly without reason and logic, the leader of the caveman tribe is young and strong – a person who can make fire and can also collect meat. The presumption by the cavemen that the “old” and therefore presumably physically weak cannot be leaders causes friction amongst the Doctor’s party when the tribe mistakes Ian as the leader. It is with surprise, therefore, that Ian corrects this misapprehension and nominates the Doctor as their leader. For all intents and purposes it is Ian that displays the qualities of leadership. Whereas the cave men settle their leadership disputes with clubs and brawn, the Tardis Tribe leadership is determined by a battle of words and the deferential respect for the aged.

The caveman, Kal.

The caveman, Kal.

Sexual politics, however, appears to have changed little from cavemen time to 1963. Susan, whose power was evident in her otherworldliness in Part 1, has been reduced to a screaming child. The intelligence, and indeed genius, that Ian identified at Coal Hill School is little evident. Susan’s principal contribution to the last 3 parts was the discovery that skulls became illuminated when placed upon a burning stick. For an unearthly child, she certainly seems less than alien, and profoundly human, when compelled to confront the stark realities of time travel.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

Welcome to The Doctor Who Mind Robber

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Zoe Jamie Mind Robber

Welcome to The Doctor Who Mind Robber.  My challenge, should you care to join me, is to watch all the 800 televised episodes of Doctor Who from 1963 to 2013, in chronological order and in 50 weeks.  That’s right, 50 years of Who in 50 weeks, or an average of roughly 2.3 episodes per day.  If that isn’t enough, I’ll  then blog about it! This blog is named for my favourite Who serial, The Mind Robber.  Will this marathon so rob my mind?  Only time will tell!

My principal interest in this blog will not be reviewing the episodes, per se, but rather examining  the issues of politics, gender, religion and popular culture that arise from them. Special attention will be paid to character development, particularly in respect of the Doctor’s companions.  There are a plethora of blogs and review sites that provide excellent standard reviews of Who and I hope not to repeat their content here.  It’s my desire that that this blog, in focusing on social and cultural issues, will be a welcome addition to Whovian fandom.

A quick note on missing episodes and photos before we embark on our quest.  At the time of writing there are 106 episodes missing from 1960’s Doctor Who.  This is as a consequence of the BBC’s policy of junking or recycling tapes to save money and valuable storage space.  Thanks to the efforts of around half a dozen original fans, the BBC now has the audio of all missing episodes.  In the days prior to VCRs and the occasional repeat, the only way to experience Who after its initial airing was to read a novelization of the story, or if you were lucky, listen to the illegal tape that you made on your reel to reel tape recorder.  It is from these fan made audio recordings that the BBC has retrieved the valuable audio component of these missing episodes.

Eager to experience these lost episodes, fans have made reconstructions of the episodes utilizing the BBC retrieved and remastered audio together with telesnaps and other photographs from the productions.  Others have created complete animations of parts, or the whole, of missing episodes.  The ingenuity of dedicated fans defies description.  Many of these can be found on the internet and the BBC appears to have turned a blind eye to the obvious copyright infringements.  After all, it was the BBC that lost the episodes to start with and have the fans to thank for saving the audio!

With the exception of the two serials that the BBC has made its own reconstructions of, Marco Polo and Galaxy 4, it’s my intention to complete my marathon by watching these fan made clips.  I will also use the BBC produced Shada DVD to watch that never completed or broadcast Tom Baker serial. All Doctor Who serials will be viewed from BBC produced and distributed DVDs and Blu Rays and are contained in my private collection. Rather than resorting to illegal downloading I encourage all fans to watch the splendor of Who legally.

In respect of photographs on this blogs most, if not all, would be the copyright of the BBC.  No copyright infringement is intended and the photographs are displayed purely for illustrative purposes.

I hope you enjoy the journey and would appreciate your feedback.

Cheers

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.