Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Crusade

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Cross dressing, harems and  marriages of political convenience.  The Crusade has it all. Add to the mix kidnapping, royal knighthoods, shoplifting, the impersonation of a King, and torture by ants, and you have Doctor Who’s creative take on the Third Crusade.

One of the original objectives of Doctor Who was to produce educational family entertainment.  Accordingly, it was the BBC’s intention to instruct the United Kingdom’s children in events of historical significance. The role of the Doctor and his companions was not to alter history but rather to be witnesses to extraordinary events.  Save for their arrival in the Ship, the Tardis Crew was not immersed in science fiction adventures.

Ian is knocked out, again

Ian is knocked out, again

The first three years of Who is resplendent with stories of historical intrigue.  From the much lamented lost classic of Marco Polo, through to the final historical adventure, the Second Doctor’s The Highlanders, these stories tread a delicate line between historical accuracy, liberal reinterpretations, and farce.  A more than rudimentary knowledge of history is presumed of the viewer, undoubtedly as a consequence of the greater importance of history in the 1960’s school curriculum. It is perhaps for this reason that 21st century viewers to Classic Doctor Who may feel somewhat confused when confronted with stories embracing Caesar Nero, Richard the Lionheart, or Robespierre.

Amongst the many historical dramas of the first three years of Doctor Who were "Marco Polo" ...

Amongst the many historical dramas of the first three years of Doctor Who were “Marco Polo”

The Aztecs

“The Aztecs”

The Reign of Terror

“The Reign of Terror”
The Gunfighters

“The Gunfighters”

And The Highlanders

and “The Highlanders”

It is with bewilderment, therefore, that the viewer is likely to confront The Crusades. Whilst an ordinary  viewer may be mildly aware of the Christian Crusades, knowledge of individual campaigns and participants is exceedingly unlikely. Who was Saladin? What year was this set in? Where was Jaffa?  Why were they fighting? These “Who, What, Where and Why” questions would undoubtedly grace the watchers’ minds.  Sadly, this Doctor Who story does nothing to answer those queries.

To assist in your comprehension of The Crusade’s events, a potted summary of the historical background is thus. The Crusade referred to in the story’s title is actually the Third Crusade, a campaign of Western European Christianity to regain the Holy City of Jerusalem from Muslim control.  Ordered by Pope Gregory VIII, the Third Crusade spanned the years 1189 to 1192 and was led by three leaders,  King Philip II of France, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa of Germany, and most importantly for the purposes of Doctor Who, the English King, Richard I.  Known as Richard the Lionheart for his battlefield prowess, and Melek-Ric by the Muslim Saracens, Richard lived in England for only 6 months of his 10 year reign.  The French speaking king spoke no English and based himself in the French Duchy  of Aquitaine.

Salah al-Din Yusuf was a Muslim leader known by the name of Saladin. Famous for uniting the Muslim world, Saladin was responsible for capturing Jerusalem, the Christian’s Holy City, for the Muslims in 1187. Between 1191 and 1192 Richard won victories at Cyprus, Acre and against Saladin at Arsuf.  It was during the winter of 1191 and 1192 that the Crusaders were in Jaffa, the location of this serial, resting up prior to an intended march on Jerusalem.  Jaffa was known as Joppa in Biblical days and is located on the Mediterranean Sea, just south of Tel Aviv in Israel.  It is known for its New Testament  association with St. Peter and the Old Testament stories of Jonah and Solomon.  Jaffa is said to have been conquered at least 22 times and was officially merged with Tel Aviv in 1950. Jaffa Hill is 40 metres high and provides an excellent view of the coastline.  It is for this reason that Jaffa has been of such strategic importance.  As the crow flies, Jaffa is approximately 53 kilometres from Jerusalem.

Jaffa has now merged with Tel Aviv

Jaffa has now merged with Tel Aviv

A cursory knowledge of history provides the viewer with enough information to broadly contextualize the serial.  Understanding the whole of the story, however, is made extraordinarily difficult by the absence of episodes two and four of this four part serial.  Episodes one and three are included in triple DVD set Lost in Time. A sweet addition to the DVD’s special features is an introduction by William Russell, as the character Ian.  Episodes two and four are provided in audio format only, although fan made reconstructions can be found on YouTube.  For the purposes of this review I watched the Loose Cannon reconstructions which are linked below.

Ian introduces "The Crusade" in the "Lost in Time" DVD special features

Ian introduces “The Crusade” in the “Lost in Time” DVD special features

Loose Cannon, The Crusade, Episode 2 Part 1

Loose Cannon, The Crusade, Episode 2 Part 2

Loose Cannon, The Crusade, Episode 4 Part 1

Loose Cannon, The Crusade, Episode 4 Part 2

In respect of the developing characters of the Tardis Crew, The Crusade sees the strengthening of Vicki and the Doctor’s bond.  As was the case in The Romans, Vicki is paired with The Doctor throughout the course of the story.  Being conspicuously dressed upon their arrival, the Doctor and Vicki visit a market.  Inside a merchant’s cloth shop the Doctor witnesses a deal between the merchant and a thief for the purchase of stolen clothing.  By distracting the merchant, the Doctor subsequently steals the clothes without compunction.  Being stolen once they can be stolen again, the Doctor concludes as he justifies a crime which he them proceeds to downgrade to mere borrowing.  This is hardly a good example for young viewers!

The Doctor and Vicki

The Doctor and Vicki

Given the nature of the stolen clothing, Vicki is dressed as a boy  and passed off to the household of King Richard as a youth whose voice has not yet cracked.  She is dressed not unlike a Peter Pan character. This charade continues until episode three, during which the King’s sister, Joanna, overhears the Doctor and Vicki’s conversation.  Despite this fraud the Doctor and Vicki remain within the household.  The sudden change of Vicki’s sex brings forth a humorous interlude between Joanna and Chamberlain.  Joanna orders a confused  Chamberlain to have the servants go to the market to buy fine cloth to dress Vicki.  He doesn’t understand why dresses, silks and satins would be required for a boy and thought it was some form of joke.  After Vicki states that it’s perfectly simple, she’s a girl, Chamberlain exclaims “A girl? Dressed as a boy? Is nothing understandable these days?”.  I can only imagine that Chamberlain would find the 21st century very difficult to comprehend.

The splendidly dressed Doctor with Vicki, this time dressed as a girl

The splendidly dressed Doctor with Vicki, this time dressed as a girl

Soon after the Doctor leaves Vicki in the care of Joanna. A tender moment between the Doctor and his young companion is seen as Vicki becomes fearful that the Doctor won’t return.  “You wouldn’t go off and leave me, would you?  I mean, your ship’s the only home I’ve got now and I couldn’t bear it”.  Vicki’s fears are placated by the Doctor who assures her that the separation will only be temporary.

Barbara in the harem

Barbara in the harem

Akin to The Romans again, Barbara and Ian are separated and it’s Ian’s task to rescue her.  Barbara is kidnapped and escapes several times, and Ian at one time is tortured by a trail of ants whilst tied down to the sand.  A clever tactical ploy enables Ian’s escape.  Ian’s resourcefulness saves Barbara from a murderer’s hands in the harem and also the Doctor’s execution at the serial’s end.  He also displays exceptional fighting skills for a secondary school science teacher.  Ian is knighted by Richard the Lionheart as Sir Ian of Jaffa and it is this honour to which an elderly Ian refers in the special features of the DVD. Short as they are, these introductions are a delight to behold and can be accessed below.  The first clip is Ian’s introduction to The Crusade serial generally.  The second clip is a potted summary of the events in the lost episode two.  The third clip summarizes the plot of missing episode four.

William Russell, The Crusade, Introduction.

William Russell, The Crusade, plot summary of Episode 2

William Russell, The Crusade, plot summary of Episode 4

The serial ends with the crew laughing at Sir Ian’s expense before they are all inexplicably frozen solid. The viewer must wait until the next story, The Space Museum, to see the reason for this extraordinary situation.  From 12th Century Israel to the far future in Xeros,  the time travellers’ journey continues.

Sir Ian of Jaffa is knighted by Richard the Lionheart

Sir Ian of Jaffa is knighted by Richard the Lionheart

Episodes 1 and 3 of "The Crusade", and the audio of Episodes 2 and 4, are included in the "Lost in Time" tripe DVD set. "The Crusade"  was originally broadcast in the UK between 27th March and 17th April, 1965.

Episodes 1 and 3 of “The Crusade”, and the audio of Episodes 2 and 4, are included in the “Lost in Time” triple DVD set. “The Crusade” was originally broadcast in the UK between 27th March and 17th April, 1965.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

Who is Doctor Who? The Definitive Guide (Part 1)

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An interesting introduction to Doctor Who for newcomers.

Funk's House of Geekery

After fifty years on television everything has come back to the first question people ask him: Doctor who?

With 33 seasons already under the belt we’ve learned quite a bit about the British television icon, but if you want the answer to the above question without hundreds of hours of television then look no further.

Background

‘The Doctor’ is an alias adopted by a time travelling alien who has taken an interest in protecting Earth and its history amid his adventures. What his real name is and why he took on the title ‘Doctor’ is something that he has kept to himself, but he does claim that the original Greek medicine practitioners adopted the title in his honour. The Doctor’s homeworld is Gallifrey, whose people refer to themselves as the ‘Time Lords’. One important part of the character’s story that is not often mentioned in the recent seasons is that The Doctor…

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The Web Planet

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In my review of The Romans I lamented the overuse of clichés in the serial. It’s with a cliché that I must unfortunately cut short this review of The Web Planet.  Did your mother ever tutor you in the necessity to limit your speech to things only favourable?  The tried and true expression, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” (or words to that effect), immediately comes to mind.  Having considered this well reasoned advice  I leave you with a suggestion on how best to enjoy The Web Planet.  Forget the beautifully produced BBC DVD and instead invest three and a half minutes of your time watching this YouTube clip. You won’t be disappointed and can be certain that sleep will be furthest from your mind.

The Web Planet was originally broadcast in the UK between 13th February and 20th March 1965

The Web Planet was originally broadcast in the UK between 13th February and 20th March 1965

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Romans

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The Romans is the first of only two Doctor Who stories set in ancient Italy.  It would take a further 43 years, until 2008’s The Fires of Pompeii, for the Doctor to again visit the region.  Perhaps in a nod to the First Doctor’s inability to navigate the Tardis, the Tenth Doctor and Donna landed in what they had initially thought was Rome, but soon discovered was Pompeii.  The Tenth Doctor referred to his earlier adventures in Rome by stating that his role in the Great Fire of Rome was almost “nothing”.

The Tenth Doctor and companion Donna in "The Fires of Pompeii"

The Tenth Doctor and companion Donna in “The Fires of Pompeii”

The Romans is perhaps the only Doctor Who story to have ever been conceived as a farce.  Unapologetically in the English tradition of ribald comedies, such as Carry On movies, The Romans does not lack the  “slap and tickle” school boy humour of the genre.  Barbara is chased around by Caesar Nero for most of episode 3, in a slapstick game of sexual catch in which she is an unwilling participant.  Seen as a threat by Nero’s wife,  Barbara is the victim of yet another attempted poisoning.  Unlike the first poisoning conspiracy in The Aztecs, it is not Barbara who thwarts the attempt on her life but Vicki, albeit unknowing of the intended victim.

Nero plays a game of "slap and tickle" with a reluctant Barbara

Nero plays a game of “slap and tickle” with a reluctant Barbara

The story begins with the Doctor and his companions living it up in a Roman country villa.  For the first time since the show’s commencement, the Tardis Crew are holidaying and have been leading a leisurely existence for the last month.  Although never stated, but clearly implied, Ian and Barbara are very much a couple.  Together they play harmless practical jokes and Barbara restyles Ian’s hair. Ian would be happy to continue this lifestyle indefinitely, however the young Vicki is easily bored.  She complains to Barbara that she is not getting the life of adventure that the Doctor had promised.   Vicki shows no ill effects from the psychological trauma suffered at the hands of Bennett/Koquillion in her first serial.  Given that the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was not coined until the 1970s, it’s perhaps not surprising that the writer, Dennis Spooner, was not conversant at the time with psychological trauma and its effects.

The Tardis Crew living it up in a country villa

The Tardis Crew living it up in a country villa

The irascible Doctor decides to visit Rome and is begged by Vicki to be allowed to accompany him. Although accepting Vicki’s request, the Doctor refuses to allow Ian and Barbara to join him.  He doesn’t need people to fuss over him and suggests instead that they make their own way there.  Little does the Doctor know that his fellow companions will eventually make it to Rome, but not by their own free will.  Even at the story’s conclusion the Doctor is blindly unaware of his two companions’ adventures.

Ian as a galley slave

Ian as a galley slave

The farce continues as the Doctor is mistaken for the famous Corinthian lyre player, Maximus Pettullian. Initially unable to remember his assumed name, the Doctor and Vicki are taken to Nero’s palace where the real, but now decidedly dead, Maximus was due to play a recital. Being bereft of all lyre playing skills does not prevent the Doctor from performing at a feast for Nero in a hysterical example of what today might be described as “Air Lyre”.  Meanwhile, the Doctor and Vicki continuously, but ever so slightly, miss running into Barbara and Ian, who are unaware that their fellow Tardis crew members are also in Nero’s palace. After being captured in the villa and taken as slaves, Barbara is sold to Nero’s household as a servant and Ian finds himself as a galley slave in a boat.  After again being knocked unconscious, this time by a beam,  Ian escapes upon the boat’s wreck.  Making his way to Rome to save Barbara, Ian eventually finds her in Nero’s household.

The Doctor and his non-existent lyre playing skills

The Doctor and his non-existent lyre playing skills

Almost every conceivable cliché of Roman life is played in this story.  When shopping in a market for fabric Barbara reminds Vicki that “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. Ian quotes Latin texts whilst lounging around the villa eating grapes, is trained as a gladiator, and almost ends up as a lion’s meal.  The Doctor gets the corniest lines when, in reference to playing lyre amongst the lions, he states that his performance is bound to be a “roaring success” and “something to get your teeth into”. Slave traders abound, and the “good guy” in Nero’s household, Tavius, is a closet Christian. Rome burns whilst Nero plays the lyre, but not before the Doctor inadvertently gives him the idea that a fire is a good way of circumventing objections to Nero’s rebuilding plans.  Even the episode naming is clichéd, with the second entitled All Roads Lead to Rome.

Barbara and the "guy guy" of Nero's household, Tavius

Barbara and the “guy guy” of Nero’s household, Tavius

Nero conceives of the idea to burn Rome

Nero conceives of the idea to burn Rome

Relations between Vicki and Barbara have softened following the killing of Sandy in the The Rescue.  Vicki goes as far as asking Barbara to make her a dress while the pair are shopping in a Roman market.  Dressmaking is a skill frequently assumed of Barbara.  The Doctor continues to be decidedly amoral and exhibits how much he relishes a good fight. Upon being confronted by a would-be assassin, the Doctor smashes a pot plant over his head and then wraps a blanket around him.  He then throws wine over the assassin’s face, hits him over the head with a jar and very athletically dodges a swinging sword.  Just as Vicki picks up an object to hit the assailant, he jumps out of an open window.  Frustrated by Vicki’s intervention the Doctor regales the girl with tales of his fighting prowess.

The Doctor displays his finely tuned fighting skills whilst in battle with a would-be assassin

The Doctor displays his finely tuned fighting skills whilst in battle with a would-be assassin

DOCTOR: Young lady, why did you have to come in and interrupt? Just as I’d got him all softened up and ready for the old one, two.

VICKI: You’re all right then?

DOCTOR: All right? Of course, I’m all right, my child.  You know, I am so constantly outwitting the opposition, I tend to forget the delights and satisfaction of the arts, the gentle art of fisticuffs.

VICKI: I realize you’re a many of many talents, Doctor, but I didn’t know fighting was one of them.

DOCTOR: My dear, I am one of the best.  Do you know it was I that used to teach the Mountain Mauler of Montana!

VICKI: The what?

DOCTOR: Do you remember?  Have you never heard?  No, of course, no, no, of course you haven’t, have you?

Barbara continually resisted Nero's advances, notwithstanding the gift of a gold bracelet.  The bracelet will be of significance in the next story, "The Web Planet"

Barbara continually resisted Nero’s advances, notwithstanding the gift of a gold bracelet. The bracelet will be of significance in the next story, “The Web Planet”

The Doctor, who in later serials such as Galaxy 4 is keen to advise all that neither him nor his crew kill, clearly has no such inhibitions when it comes to fighting. Will the Doctor entertain us with his combat skills in the next serial, The Web Planet? Stay tuned for the next review where perhaps this question will be answered.

The Romans was originally broadcast in the UK between 16th January and 6th February 1965

The Romans was originally broadcast in the UK between 16th January and 6th February 1965

"The Romans" DVD was released in a Box Set with "The Rescue" entitled (unsurprisingly) "The Rescue The Romans"

“The Romans” DVD was released in a Box Set with “The Rescue” entitled (unsurprisingly) “The Rescue The Romans”

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Rescue

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Perhaps more than any other, The Rescue is a serial that is more profoundly disturbing on the second viewing than on the first. Should you wish to watch this story without forewarning of its contents, then beware.  Spoilers are contained within.

Taken at face value, The Rescue is a somewhat innocuous story.  One of the few two part serials in classic Who, The Rescue was originally broadcast between the Dalekmania inducing Invasion of Earth, and the Carry On style slapstick comedy of The Romans. The Doctor’s grand-daughter, Susan, had left Doctor Who at the conclusion of The Dalek Invasion of Earth to commence a new life with the urban guerrilla, David Campbell. The purpose of this story was to introduce the new companion, Vicki, an orphan survivor of a spaceship crash on the planet Dido.

Vicki radios the Dido bound rescue craft

Vicki radios the Dido bound rescue craft

Only two crew members of the ship remain at the serial’s commencement, Vicki and Bennett, an apparently disabled man in his 30s or 40s who was played by Australian actor, Ray Barrett.  The other crew members who had survived the crash, it was believed, had perished in an explosion when they had attended a “meet and greet” with the residents of the planet, Dido. It was in this explosion that Bennett is said to have sustained an injury to his legs that left him all but bedridden.  Vicki was the only crew member who didn’t attend the function as she was suffering from a fever at the time.

Vicki and Bennett are the sole survivors of a spaceship crash on the planet Dido

Vicki and Bennett are the sole survivors of a spaceship crash on the planet Dido

Barbara, Bennett and Vicki

Barbara, Bennett and Vicki

As the only able bodied survivor, Vicki takes on the role of caring for Bennett, who remains in his cabin most of the time.  Menacing the survivors is a grotesque monster called Koquillion. Although humanoid in body form, Koquillion’s head and hands are a jumble of large and pointed spikes. Vicki, however, is only ever alone when sees the monster. Bennett has not witnessed the beast in the presence of Vicki, however appears more than knowledgeable about its threat.  He is quick to remind Vicki to watch out for Koquillion.  He’ll be around somewhere, advises Bennett, and he will kill both of them if he learns about the rescue mission which is due to shortly arrive.

Koquillion menaces Vicki

Koquillion menaces Vicki

Koquillion plays a sinister game of mind control and psychological abuse on Vicki.  He arrives at the ship intermittently and tells her that she is not to wander within 50 yards of the vessel.  Koquillion claims that the local people are warlike and that he alone can save Vicki and Bennett from his own people.  “I am your only protection!” exclaims Koquillion,  “You should be grateful”.  This psychological warfare has left Vicki confused and contradictory.  One moment she is scared that Koquillion could keep her on Dido forever, yet when Barbara looks at her in a concerned manner she immediately snaps “You’re sorry for me, aren’t you?  I’m perfectly all right, you know.  I don’t care if nobody ever comes.  I’m fine.  I’m perfectly fine”.  Clearly Vicki is anything but fine.

Ian, Barbara and Koquillion

Ian, Barbara and Koquillion

Ordinarily left with no company other than the abrupt and irascible Bennett, Vicki takes solace in her friendship with a Didonian, a reptilian like native of the planet.  Whilst collecting water in jerry-cans her legless companion, whom Vicki has named Sandy, approaches.  Fearful that it is about to pounce on Vicki, Barbara shoots it, not withstanding Vicki’s protestations.   It subsequently takes the Doctor’s intervention to heal the rift that necessarily emerges between Vicki and Barbara.

Barbara shows that even the inexperienced can shoot to kill

Barbara shows that even the inexperienced can shoot to kill

Vicki has been living on tenterhooks, waiting always for the unexpected arrival of Koquillion.  His psychological control of her is immense, notwithstanding that there has been no apparent physical violence. Vicki’s predicament is not dissimilar to that of a victim of domestic violence, particularly someone subject to verbal abuse and controlling behaviour.  The perpetrator may appear the perfect partner to outsiders as he or she is cautious to ensure that there are no witnesses to their behaviour.  The effect of this psychological violence is therefore all that much greater on the victim, who can unfortunately underplay the effects on them for the shame of revelation, or fear of not being believed.

Koquillion and Vicki

Koquillion and Vicki

It is only near the story’s end that the Doctor reveals that Koquillion and Bennett are one of the same.  Bennett has been leaving the ship through a hidden escape hatch in the floor of his cabin, donning the Koquillion gear, and terrorising Vicki.  It is this fact that makes The Rescue all that more unsettling.  Bennett had killed a crew member on the spaceship and had been arrested.  Prior to his crime being radioed to Earth, the ship crashed.  To conceal his crime he reasoned that he must kill all of the crew members, save for Vicki who was unaware of his crime. It was Bennett who arranged the explosion using the ship’s armaments, which killed the crew (including Vicki’s father) and the people of Dido who were attending the “meet and greet”. “You destroyed a whole planet to save your own skin”, said the Doctor, “You’re insane”.  The masquerade as Koquillion was to scare Vicki into believing that the Didonians were a terrible people.  She could therefore be assured to support his story that the blast that had killed the crew was caused by the Dido people.  Bennett met his end, however, at the hands of two of the Didonians who unbeknownst to him, had survived the blast.

The wrecked spaceship in which Vicki's father was killed

The wrecked spaceship in which Vicki’s father was killed

The Doctor, meanwhile, is suffering from the psychological effects of Susan’s departure.  For the first time ever he sleeps during the materialization of the Tardis.  In fact, it is during this serial that the word “materialize” is used for the first time to indicate the landing of the Tardis.  We also learn that the Tardis can travel through solid matter in flight.  Barbara wonders whether they will see a new side to the Doctor, to which Ian responds by saying he’s not getting any younger.  He then gesticulates in a manner so as to suggest that the Doctor is going senile. The Doctor also admits for the first time that he never obtained a medical degree, and even compliments Ian’s intelligence.

Barbara, Vicki, Ian and the Doctor safely in the Tardis at "The Rescue's" end

Barbara, Vicki, Ian and the Doctor safely in the Tardis at “The Rescue’s” end

The Doctor comforts Vicki upon telling her that Bennett murdered her father and offers to take her with them.  Ian and Barbara had simultaneously, but separately from the Doctor, also come to the conclusion that Vicki should depart Dido in the Tardis.  Promising her an abundance of adventure, Vicki accepts the Doctor’s invitation to travel in the “old box” which is bigger on the inside.  What scars, if any, she bears from her ordeal remain to be seen.  The orphaned girl from 2493 begins her exploits in time and space.

"The Rescue" was originally broadcast in the UK between 2nd and 9th January 1965

“The Rescue” was originally broadcast in the UK between 2nd and 9th January 1965

"The Rescue" DVD was released in a Box Set with "The Romans" entitled (unsurprisingly) "The Rescue The Romans"

“The Rescue” DVD was released in a Box Set with “The Romans” entitled (unsurprisingly) “The Rescue The Romans”

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

Two seasons down, 31 to go!

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The luxury of restored DVD copies of First Doctor serials comes to a somewhat abrupt end with the conclusion of Season 2.  Only two serials in the first two years of Doctor Who are missing from the BBC archives, Marco Polo and The Crusade.  Season three has seven incomplete or totally missing stories, including the twelve part epic The Daleks’ Master Plan.  My already diminished marathon viewing pace may reduce even more when confronted with reconstructions.  I hope not!

Recent commitments have slowed my reviewing however I hope to post reviews for the balance of Season two in the coming week.  Await with baited breath, if you dare, my reviews of
The Rescue, The Romans, The Web Planet, The Crusade, The Space Museum, The Chase, and The Time Meddler.

Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.

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Again we take a quick digression from the canon of Doctor Who television to visit the second, and final, big screen Dalek movie.  Released in 1966, Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. was a colour reimaging of the second Dalek television serial, The Dalek Invasion of Earth.  The sequel to Dr. Who and the Daleks, it again featured Peter Cushing as Dr. Who and Roberta Tovey as his grand-daughter Susan.  Gone were the characters of Ian and Barbara, and in their place were Dr. Who’s niece, Louise, played by Jill Curzon, and a London Special Constable, Tom Campbell, played by Bernard Cribbins.

The main cast of "Daleks - Invasion Earth: 2150", Tom Campbell, Dr. Who, Louise, and Susan

The main cast of “Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150”, Tom Campbell, Dr. Who, Louise, and Susan

Unlike the first Dalek movie, the screen play for Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. is credited to Terry Nation, Milton Subotsky and David Whitaker.  Was Terry Nation’s involvement in the screen play the reason for the many variations from the original television script?  It’s the many changes from the TV version that makes this movie substantially less palatable than Dr. Who and the Daleks.  Although liberties were certainly taken in the first movie and the major characters were tangibly reimaged, the dialogue of the movie was almost taken verbatim from Nation’s television script. Not so with Daleks  – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.  Much of the dialogue is new and more than a little played for laughs.

Splendid Daleks

Splendid Daleks

The younger version of Susan portrayed in the film necessarily meant that the relationship between Susan and David did not occur.  As this romance was Susan’s principal role in the TV serial, the movie Susan is left with a greatly reduced function.  This is a shame as Roberta Tovey’s role in Dr. Who and the Daleks was by no means disagreeable. Moreover, the movie equivalent of Barbara, niece Louise, does very little and appears only to be there for the “sex appeal”.  Ian’s replacement, Tom Campbell, is again a comedy parody.  That comedy, unfortunately, is less than rib tickling and in some circumstances wildly irrelevant to the script.  This is particularly true of the prolonged skit involving the Robomen eating.  Dr. Who remains the principal character, although in this film he is referred to almost universally as “the Doctor”.

The Robomen eating in a pantomime type skit

The Robomen eating in a pantomime type skit

Whilst somewhat critical of the role apportioned to Tom Campbell in Daleks- Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.,  I have to admit to being charmed by seeing Bernard Cribbins as a young man. It was not for want of acting ability that Cribbin’s character was less than agreeable, but rather the consequence of a very ordinary script.  Cribbins played the recurring character of Wilf Mott, the grandfather of the Tenth Doctor’s companion, Donna Noble, in the new series of Doctor Who between 2007 and 2010.  Cribbins invariably stole the show in every episode in which he appeared, and has the distinction of being the only actor who has appeared in a Dalek movie and current era Who. It’s well worth watching Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. for that reason alone.

Bernard Cribbins as he appears in Daleks - Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D

Bernard Cribbins as he appears in Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D

And as he does in Doctor Who, circa 2007

And as he does in Doctor Who, circa 2007

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.