Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Evil of the Daleks – Loose Cannon Reconstructions

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ImageOnly one episode of the seven part serial, The Evil of the Daleks, is held in the BBC Archives.  Episode 2 has been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in TimeFor the purposes of this marathon I watched Loose Cannon’s reconstructions of Episodes one, three, four, five, six and seven.

Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks, Episode 1 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks, Episode 1 Part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks, Episode 3 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks, Episode 3 Part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks, Episode 4 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks, Episode 4 Part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks, Episode 5 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks, Episode 5 Part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks, Episode 6 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks, Episode 6 Part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks, Episode 7 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Evil of the Daleks, Episode 7 Part 2

The Evil of the Daleks was originally broadcast in the UK between 20 May and 1 July 1967.  Episode 2 is available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

The Evil of the Daleks was originally broadcast in the UK between 20 May and 1 July 1967. Episode 2 is available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

The Evil of the Daleks

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Season four draws to a close with the Daleks’ last appearance in Doctor Who for five years in The Evil of the Daleks. Ranked 18th in the Doctor Who Magazine’s Mighty 200 poll of 2009, this serial bears all the hallmarks of a classic. The most highly placed Second Doctor story in the poll, The Evil of the Daleks displays a hitherto unseen darkness in the Doctor’s character. By melding the BBC’s panache for period piece Victoriana drama and the futuristic world of Skaro, the serial arranges the Daleks in a threatening new light.

The Doctor looks on as Edward Waterfield and Theodore Maxtible discuss their experiment

The Doctor looks on as Edward Waterfield and Theodore Maxtible discuss their experiment

Written by David Whitaker, The Evil of the Daleks in part draws upon Whitaker’s own Dalek cartoons which were a feature in TV Century 21 magazine. Published over 104 issues in 1965 and 1966, the Dalek cartoons featured a Dalek Emperor, the titular head of the Daleks not hitherto encountered in the television series.  In cartoon form the Dalek Emperor was more similar in appearance to the 1988 Dalek Emperor of Remembrance of the Daleks than the large elaborate one of The Evil of the Daleks. That a Dalek spin off cartoon should influence the television production of Doctor Who clearly exhibits how iconic the Daleks had become in the mythology of Doctor Who during those early years.

The Dalek Emperor first appeared in the David Whitaker penned Dalek cartoons published in TV Century 21 magazine

The Dalek Emperor first appeared in the David Whitaker penned Dalek cartoons published in TV Century 21 magazine

The Dalek Emperor of the comics was more faithfully reproduced in the 1988 serial Remembrance of the Daleks

The Dalek Emperor of the comics was more faithfully reproduced in the 1988 serial Remembrance of the Daleks

The Doctor co-operates with the Daleks in putting Jamie to a test in saving the daughter of Edward Waterfield, Victoria who has been imprisoned by the Daleks. In doing so the Doctor engages in an uncharacteristic argument with Jamie with the sole intention of utilizing reverse psychology to obtain his own ends.  The Doctor tells Jamie that he has never purported that “the ends justify the means”, however Jamie consider this to be mere words.  “You and me, we’re finished.  You’re just too callous for me”, Jamie says to the Doctor. “Anything goes by the board.  Anything at all”.

Jamie's task is to save the companion-in-waiting, Victoria Waterfield, from the Daleks

Jamie’s task is to save the companion-in-waiting, Victoria Waterfield, from the Daleks

The test which Jamie was undertaking would enable the Daleks to plot and distil those essential human characteristics that had until then always permitted humans to defeat the Daleks. Courage, pity, chivalry, friendship, and compassion were some of those virtues and emotions that Jamie exhibited in his trial to rescue Victoria.  When three dormant Daleks were impregnated with the “human factor” they behaved in a somewhat unexpected manner. Episode five ends with the Doctor being taken for a “train” ride by a Dalek.  “Jamie, they’re taking me for a ride” the Doctor exclaims in delight, “they’re playing a game”.  Episode six opens with the Doctor advising that the Daleks are only children, but will grow up very quickly – in a matter of hours, in fact. He advises the baby Daleks that Jamie is a friend and to their delight gives each of them a name – Alpha, Beta and Omega.

Jamie and the Doctor drink coffee in a cafe during episode one

Jamie and the Doctor drink coffee in a cafe during episode one

Despite their childish play the Daleks do not take on the comic like features that they did in The Chase. The Doctor’s oldest foes remained menacing because  of their radical and quick transformation back to their dangerous and menacing form. By impregnating a large number of Daleks with the “human factor” the Doctor incites a Dalek Civil War as the humanized Daleks question the orders of their superiors. Never before had the Daleks questioned “why” they automatically follow commands.  This was very much a human trait. Notwithstanding that total genocide of the Daleks is a possible consequence of the Civil War, the Doctor nonetheless  encourages their destruction.  This is very much at odds with the classic stand of the Fourth Doctor in Genesis of the Daleks.

The Evil of the Daleks – 3D Animation – Prelude to the Civil War

Victoria's father, Edward Waterhouse, sacrifices himself to save the Doctor

Victoria’s father, Edward Waterhouse, sacrifices himself to save the Doctor

The chief human baddie, Theodore Maxtible, looks surprisingly like our most common images of Karl Marx.  I wonder if that was intentional? Although the Daleks were conjured into Maxtible’s 1866 Victorian home by mistake, he is nevertheless keen to make what he can out of the Daleks’ technology.  Waterfield co-ops the Doctor and Jamie’s assistance against their will but for the more honourable cause of having his daughter freed.  Waterfield is disturbed by the death that surrounds him and his complicity with the destruction caused. When he accuses Maxtible of constantly avoiding reality – that people are dying because of them – Maxtible remains indignant. “We are not to blame for everything that has happened” he said “No English judge or jury would find it in their hearts to convict us of one solitary thing”. The legality of what they had done was not Waterfield’s concern, but clearly the morality of it.  He went on to state that he would confess his role in everything once Victoria was released.  Unfortunately that opportunity was never afforded to him as he sacrificed his life to save the Doctor.

The character of Theodore Maxtible, played by Marius Goring, bears an uncanny resemblance to Karl Marx

The character of Theodore Maxtible, played by Marius Goring, bears an uncanny resemblance to Karl Marx

The real Karl Marx

The real Karl Marx

The “human factor” in The Evil of the Daleks would re-emerge in a somewhat different form, as DNA, in the Rob Sherman penned Dalek in 2005. In the first Dalek story of New Series Doctor Who, companion Rose Tyler replenishes a long dormant Dalek by placing her hand upon it.  Her DNA enables the Dalek to regenerate its casing and break free of the chains that have bound it. Later the Dalek experiences human emotions as a consequence of the human DNA.  Psychologically traumatised by emotions that are alien to Daleks, the Dalek commits suicide after commanding Rose to order its own death.  The “human factor” in The Evil of the Daleks, which precipitated questioning, the Dalek Civil War and ultimately the (temporary) Dalek destruction, had the same decimating effect on the pepper pot’s psychology and continued existence in Dalek.

Rose Tyler comforts a Dalek in the 2005 episode Dalek, thereby transferring some of her DNA to it

Rose Tyler comforts a Dalek in the 2005 episode Dalek, thereby transferring some of her DNA to it

Rose is compelled to order the Dalek's own destruction as it is psychologically traumatized by its human DNA

Rose is compelled to order the Dalek’s own destruction as it is psychologically traumatized by the human DNA

The Evil of the Daleks has aged badly in respect of its racial stereotyping of the character of Kemel.  Played by the West Indian born Sonny Caldinez, Kemel is a Turkish wrestler and strongman for Maxtible.  Although possessed of almost super-human strength, Kemel is both unintelligent and mute. He’s almost the kind of character that you would expect in a First Doctor story, as William Hartnell was unfortunately infamous for his intolerance of all but Caucasian Englishmen. Sonny Caldinez would go on to play an Ice Warrior in each of the four Ice Warrior themed serials in the Classic Series, The Ice Warriors, The Seeds of Death, The Curse of Peladon and The Monster of Peladon.

Sonny Caldinez played the role of Kemel, a Turkish wrester and strongman

Sonny Caldinez played the role of Kemel, a Turkish wrester and strongman

Sonny Caldinez subsequently appeared as an Ice Warrior in four Classic Series stories.  He's seen here with the Third Doctor and Alpha Centauri in The Monster of Peladon (1974)

Sonny Caldinez subsequently appeared as an Ice Warrior in four Classic Series stories. He is seen here with the Third Doctor and Alpha Centauri in The Monster of Peladon (1974)

The Evil of the Daleks does leave us with perhaps one of the Doctor’s best ever quotes.  In speaking to Terrall the Doctor says,  “I am not a student of human nature.  I am a professor of a far wider academy, of which human nature is merely a part. All forms of life interest me”. “Professor” is the name that companion Ace playfully called the Seventh Doctor, but I’m rushing ahead of myself here.  Join me for my next review where Season five opens with the first 100% complete Second Doctor serial, the iconic Tomb of the Cybermen.

The Evil of the Daleks was originally broadcast in the UK between 20 May and 1 July 1967.  Episode 2 is available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

The Evil of the Daleks was originally broadcast in the UK between 20 May and 1 July 1967. Episode 2 is available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

10 Tips for Building a Complete Doctor Who DVD Collection

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Having just received in the mail the last two Classic Series Doctor Who DVDs required to complete my collection, it’s probably an appropriate time to discuss the best ways to build a DVD collection. With the exception of Spearhead from Space, the Third Doctor’s debut, Classic Series Doctor Who is only available on DVD.  Spearhead from Space  has been released on Blu Ray as it is the only Classic Series serial produced entirely on film.   New Series Doctor Who is now released on both DVD and Blu Ray, although Series One through to Four and the 2009 Specials are DVD only. Please note that this article is written from an Australian perspective. Unless otherwise stated, all references to box sets refer to Region 2 and Region 4 releases only. American Region 1 Classic Series Doctor Who DVDs have been released by individual serial only.  To the best of my knowledge there are no American Classic Series box sets.

1. BUY ONLINE

This is probably stating the obvious, however procuring a complete Doctor Who DVD collection would be prohibitively expensive if all your titles are purchased from bricks and mortar stores.  Also, finding any one title that you require in a physical store could very likely see you traipsing the length and breadth of your city.  Retailers of DVDs/Blu Rays tend not to stock extraordinarily large catalogues of Doctor Who DVDs. JB Hi Fi is perhaps one exception and you can generally find a very long shelf full of Who titles in each store. Even then, you’ll only find a small percentage of releases at any one store.  JB Hi Fi’s website has search functions enabling you to search by title and then ascertain stores with stock.  Delivery is available from JB Hi Fi for only 0.99c per DVD.

First Doctor DVDs

First Doctor DVDs

When considering purchasing online look for stores that offer free postage.  Postage charges can be a real killer and you can potentially save a great deal with free or low cost postage. Online retailers in Australia that offer free postage include Fishpond and The Nile.

2. BUY FROM OVERSEAS

For Australian purchasers it is unfortunate that the prolonged period of a high Australian dollar has come to an end.  After reaching a high of around 108c US, the dollar has now plummeted to 91c US.  I was fortunate enough to do the bulk of my collecting when the Australian dollar was at its peak but nonetheless, significant savings can still be made. Region 4 DVDs can be prohibitively expensive however Region 2 DVDs are frequently more affordable.  Please see the paragraph below on UK Region 2 DVDs for further details. In recent times I’ve found the most competitive prices are available at Fishpond.

Second and Third Doctor DVDs

First, Second and Third Doctor DVDs

When purchasing from overseas be prepared to wait for your titles to arrive rather slowly. Between four and six weeks is not an uncommon time frame for arrival from the UK.

3. UK REGION 2 DOCTOR WHO DVDS ARE DUAL CODED REGIONS 2 AND 4

When perusing an online store such as Fishpond you will generally find up to three listings for each DVD title – one for each of Regions 1, 2 and 4. Region 1 titles are from the US and are even more expensive than the Australian and New Zealand Region 4 titles.  Region 2 titles, from the UK,  are nine times out of ten the cheapest.

Third Doctor DVDs

Third and Fourth Doctor DVDs

What these websites invariably don’t tell you is that the BBC’s Doctor Who DVDs are dual coded for Regions 2 and 4. Instead the titles are generally listed as Region 2 only, with the usual disclaimer stating that you will require a multi-region player. It’s only when you have the DVD in your hands that the dual coding is obvious . Once you’ve bought your first Region 2 advertised Doctor Who and seen for yourself that it’s dual coded, you’ll wonder why you’ve been wasting your money on the higher priced Region 4 ones for so long.

The Region 2 release of The Five Doctors.  You will note from the back cover that it is dual coded Region 2 and Region 4

The Region 2 release of The Five Doctors. You will note from the back cover that it is dual coded Region 2 and Region 4

Region 2 DVDs are also more attractively packaged than the Region 4 ones.  Nearly all DVDs have the whole of the disc covered in a colour graphic from the serial.  The Region 4 DVDs are generally a solid colour only with no pictures.  Region 2 DVDs also have a 4 page brochure setting out the production details and special features.  This is a great deal handier than the Australian and New Zealand releases that have this information printed on the reverse side of the cover.  This necessitates removing the printed cover from the sleeve if you wish to read it.   The Region 2 brochure is also in a larger font than the Region 4 releases, therefore making reading easier.

An example of a Region 4 Doctor Who disc.  Note that it doesn't have any photographs or otherwise interesting artwork

An example of a Region 4 Doctor Who disc. Note that it doesn’t have any photographs or otherwise interesting artwork

An example of a Region 2 New Series disc.  Classic Series Region 2 discs also generally have photographs and interesting graphics

An example of a Region 2 New Series disc. Classic Series Region 2 discs also generally have photographs and interesting graphics

4. EVEN CHEAP REGION 4 DVD PLAYERS MAY BE MULTI-REGION

If you’re still not convinced that the BBC’s region 2 DVDs are dual coded for Region 4, consider that even your cheap Region 4 DVD player may be multi-region.  My Studio Canal release of The Dalek Collection which includes the two Dalek movies, Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD, is listed as Region 2 only.  It’s a non BBC release. It plays perfectly on one of my $25.00 K-Mart Region 4 DVD players. You can read two interesting articles from the Sydney Morning Herald here and here.  In these articles, and the numerous comments to them, you will find discussion of Multi-Region (Region-Free) DVD players being marketed in Australia as Region 4 only.

Fourth Doctor DVDs

Fourth Doctor DVDs

If you want to be 100% certain then I would suggest buying a multi-region DVD player which can be picked for as little as $35.00. You’ll make the purchase price up dozens of times over with the savings you’ll obtain buying Region 2 DVDs.

5. COMPARE PRICES and BUY DURING SALES

It is more than worthwhile to shop around a number of websites and compare prices before every purchase.  In my experience prices can vary frequently so what is cheaper one day at a store may not be so the next day. Try eBay as well. Also be on the lookout for sales. JB Hi Fi seem to have 20% off DVD sales every few weeks. It’s worthwhile subscribing to the stores’ emails so that you can be advised of upcoming sales.

Fourth Doctor DVDs

Fourth and Fifth Doctor DVDs

6. COLLECT BY CHEAPEST FIRST RATHER THAN FAVOURITE TITLES

If you are looking to buy the complete collection then it’s worthwhile purchasing titles when you find them on special even if they’re not your favourites.  If you’re going to buy them all eventually you’ll be kicking yourself that you missed the chance for a bargain.

Fourth and Fifth Doctor DVDs

Fifth and Sixth Doctor DVDs

7. DON’T BUY IMMEDIATELY UPON RELEASE

Especially when it comes to Special Editions, don’t buy your DVDs immediately upon release.  Prices for new releases are always at a premium so if you are prepared to wait you can often save up to $10.00 on the purchase price.

Sixth and Seventh Doctor DVDs

Sixth and Seventh Doctor DVDs

8. KEEP A LIST AND MARK OFF TITLES ORDERED AND RECEIVED

This is another fairly obvious point however it’s easily overlooked. There are 155 Classic Series serials, 90% of which have been released as individual stories and not as part of a box set.  Unless you’ve rote learnt the names of every title then you’re sure to forget what you’ve bought and also ordered.  In completing my collection I used Mark Campbell’s Doctor Who. The Complete Guide, to mark off the serials as I ordered then, and again as they were received.  The book has the added advantage of allowing me to see what’s next in my marathon and also quickly consult a list of cast members, writer, directors and the like for each serial.

Classic Series Revisitations Box Sets, Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures

Classic Series Revisitations Box Sets, Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures

9. ACQUAINT YOURSELF WITH THE CONTENTS OF BOXED SETS

Probably around 10% of Classic Series titles have been released as part of a box set.  Find out what serials are included in each box set as generally you can’t search by story title for those serials contained in a box set. A complete list of DVD releases can be found here.

New Series Doctor Who

New Series Doctor Who

Although New Series DVDs are packaged as Series box sets, Classic Series DVDs are generally sold by single serial only.  The only Classic Series Seasons released in a single box set are Season 16 (the Fourth Doctor and Romana I) The Key to Time,  and Season 23 (the Sixth Doctor, Peri and Mel) The Trial of a Time Lord. This unfortunately means that Classic Series collecting can be an expensive past time and also takes up a great deal of shelf space.

The Key to Time is Season 16 of Doctor Who.  It is one of only two Classic Series Seasons released as a box set

The Key to Time is Season 16 of Doctor Who. It is one of only two Classic Series Seasons released as a box set

The Trial of a Time Lord is Season 23 of Doctor Who

The Trial of a Time Lord is Season 23 of Doctor Who

The most inexpensive (and shelf efficient) way of buying Series 1 through to 4 of Doctor Who (2005-2008) is by the Complete Box Set. Purchased from the UK this Box Set costs around $70.00

The most inexpensive (and shelf efficient) way of buying Series 1 through to 4 of Doctor Who (2005-2008) is by the Complete Box Set. Purchased from the UK this Box Set costs around $70.00

10. DISPLAY YOUR COLLECTION WITH PRIDE

Once you’ve finished your collection display it with pride and sit back and enjoy watching 50 years of Doctor Who history.  You’re in for a great ride!

Mark Campbell's Doctor Who The Complete Series Guide provides a good introductory summary of each Doctor Who serial.  This book has been of invaluable assistance to me in building my complete collection of Doctor Who DVDs

Mark Campbell’s Doctor Who The Complete Series Guide provides a good introductory summary of each Doctor Who serial. This book has been of invaluable assistance to me in building my complete collection of Doctor Who DVDs

SUGGESTED ONLINE DVD RETAILERS

The ABC Shop – http://shop.abc.net.au/

eBay – http://www.ebay.com.au/

Fishpond – http://www.fishpond.com.au/ (Australia) and http://www.fishpond.com/ (world-wide)

JB Hi Fi – http://www.jbhifi.com.au/

Mighty Ape – http://www.mightyape.com.au/

The Nile – http://www.thenile.com.au/

WOW HD – http://www.wowhd.com.au/

ZAVVI – http://www.zavvi.com/home.dept

I’ve posted several UK based online retailers with free or low cost world-wide delivery here.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article is of a general nature only and the author does not purport to be an expert in the sale or operation of DVDs or DVD players.  The information is made available on the understanding that the author is not  engaged in rendering professional advice. Buyers of DVDs and DVD players should make their own inquiries in respect of compatibility issues.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Faceless Ones – Loose Cannon Reconstructions

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ImageEpisodes one and three of The Faceless Ones are held in the BBC Archives and have been released on the triple DVD set Lost in Time.  Episodes two, four, five and six can be viewed as Loose Cannon reconstructions, links for which appear below.

Loose Cannon’s The Faceless Ones, Episode 2 part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Faceless Ones, Episode 2 part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Faceless Ones, Episode 4 part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Faceless Ones, Episode 4 part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Faceless Ones, Episode 5 part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Faceless Ones, Episode 5 part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Faceless Ones, Episode 6 part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Faceless Ones, Episode 6 part 2

The Faceless Ones was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 April and 13 May 1967.  Episodes 1 and 3 are available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

The Faceless Ones was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 April and 13 May 1967. Episodes 1 and 3 are available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

The Faceless Ones

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If you’d tuned into Doctor Who in March or April 1967 you’d be excused for thinking that the programme’s production team had a real issue with holidaying Brits.  Firstly The Macra Terror compared  Butlins style Holiday Camps to a colony governed by giant mind-controlling crabs. Then the next serial, The Faceless Ones, took a shot at the bourgeoning package holiday market and groups of 18 to 25 year-olds jetting off  from Gatwick Airport to European destinations such as Rome, Dubrovnik and Athens.   Participating in such tours could find you miniaturized, shot 150 miles into the air in a aeroplane which transforms into a spaceship, and finally stored away indefinitely in a drawer after an alien has replicated and taken on your form. It’s enough to turn anyone off taking that next holiday!

The Tardis lands on the runway of Gatwick Airport

The Tardis lands on the runway of Gatwick Airport

Mind control and losing one’s identity were issues of great concern to the writers of Doctor Who in the late 1960s. Together with The Macra Terror and The Faceless Ones, such themes were also addressed in a number of other stories.  In the Cybermen serials there was the ever present threat of being upgraded and becoming one of them.  In the Underwater Menace you were at risk of being turned into a Fish Person, and miniaturization and long time storage had been canvassed in The Ark.

The four members of the Tardis Crew before the scatter at Gatwick Airport

The four members of the Tardis Crew before they scatter at Gatwick Airport

The Faceless One marks the real beginning of the classic pairing of Jamie and the Second Doctor.  In his previous outings in the Tardis Jamie had been almost a tacked on afterthought.  Written hastily into the series after his first appearance in The Highlanders, Jamie paraded around in a black wet suit in The Underwater Menace, moaned in a half conscious state about the “Phantom Piper” in The Moonbase, and showed his resilience to mind washing in The Macra Terror.  Jamie’s amazement at the technology of the 20th Century is at last played upon in this serial.  Large passenger aircraft are “flying beasties”,  £28 is a fortune and Gatwick Airport is a world unlike any that he’s ever seen. The audience is left wondering if the Highlander from 1746 is literate as he hides behind The Times newspaper which he holds upside down. They must also wonder what sort of fools the people searching for Jamie are, that they don’t notice the hairy legs of a kilted lad beneath the paper.

Jamie is amazed by all the sights at Gatwick Airport

Jamie is amazed by all the sights at Gatwick Airport

Jamie gets a kiss from Samantha

Jamie gets a kiss from Samantha

It is not until this outing that Jamie is paired principally with the Doctor, although he does spend a fair amount of air time with the Liver Bird, Samantha Briggs. The Liverpudlian character, whose brother was lost on one of the Chameleon Tours, was played by Pauline Collins and would have become the new companion had Collins agreed to the offer. I have little doubt that there were no regrets as her career progressed to stellar heights. Collins was not to appear in Doctor Who again until the 2006 Series 2 story, Tooth and Claw, in which she played Queen Victoria.

Pauline Collins played a girl from Liverpool, Samantha Briggs, who is searching for her lost brother

Pauline Collins played a girl from Liverpool, Samantha Briggs, who was searching for her lost brother

Pauline Collin's next appearance in Doctor Who would be 39 years later as Queen Victoria in Tooth and Claw

Pauline Collins’ next appearance in Doctor Who would be 39 years later as Queen Victoria in Tooth and Claw

Jamie’s rapport with the Doctor is incredible but is only the beginning of a steadfast relationship which will mature during Seasons five and six.  This partnership, however, is at the expense of Ben and Polly who depart the Tardis Crew at the end of episode six.  Ben’s days were numbered from Jamie’s arrival in The Highlanders and it was unfortunate that the dynamic between the two modern day London companions was lost.  Anneke Wills chose to relinquish her role as Polly once Michael Craze’s departure became known.

Jamie's addition to the Tardis Crew eventually came at Ben's expense

Jamie’s addition to the Tardis Crew eventually came at Ben’s expense

Polly discovers a dead body in episode one of The Faceless Ones

Polly discovers a dead body in episode one of The Faceless Ones

Ben and Polly’s farewell was not much better than Dodo’s in The War Machines, which was incidentally Ben and Polly’s first adventure with the Doctor. Absent from episodes three, four and five, they only appeared in a pre-filmed segment at episode six’s close.  A ten month companionship spanning  two Doctors ended abruptly when the couple realized that it was 20 July 1966, the very day that they’d stumbled into the Tardis at the conclusion of The War Machines.  Although visibly upset, Polly was pleased to be able to get back to her own world.  The Doctor said how lucky they were because he never got to return to his.  Exhibiting a marked sexism the Doctor stated, “Now go on, Ben can catch his ship and become an Admiral, and you Polly, you can look after Ben”.  What a life.  You could tell it was 1967!  After Polly enquired as to whether the Doctor would be safe, Jamie assured her that “I’ll look after him”.

We bid Ben and Polly a sad farewell

We bid Ben and Polly a sad farewell

The Second Doctor’s first present day serial, The Faceless Ones,  is sure to have influenced Mark Gatiss when he wrote the Series 2 story The Idiot’s Lantern. In that 2006 Tenth Doctor story an evil entity, The Wire, existed only in the form of energy.  She transferred herself  between television sets and fed off humanity’s mental signals as people innocently watched the telly.  In stealing the humans’ energy The Wire hoped to one day  regain a corporeal form.  Her victims, however, were robbed of their faces and minds, although they still retained consciousness. Faceless the victims became, but nowhere near as grotesque as their predecessors in The Faceless Ones.

Rose Tyler becomes faceless in 2006's The Idiot's Lantern

Rose Tyler becomes faceless in 2006’s The Idiot’s Lantern

The Chameleon Faceless Ones of 1967 were altogether more frightening

The Chameleon Faceless Ones of 1967 were altogether more frightening

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Faceless Ones and am saddened that only two of the six episodes are held in the BBC Archives.  The Second Doctor serials are just such a delight and it’s appalling that there are only a handful of complete Troughton serials remaining.  As the Doctor and Jamie walked off at the story’s end, looking for the stolen Tardis, I contemplated how pleased I was that Doctor Who is a British and not an Australian programme.  Jamie would never have had his Scottish accent stolen, and replaced by a Received Pronunciation one in the Chameleon-Jamie, if the show was made in Australia.  Nor would the actor who played the Police Inspector Crossland experience such difficulties in gaining and retaining a Scots brogue. Most importantly, however, the humans who were replicated by the Chameleons would never have been left hidden in cars.  Residing in such a hot environment we’re all too schooled  in the “dogs die in hot cars” commercials to ever contemplate leaving a human in one!  Join me next time as Season four comes to an end with The Evil of the Daleks and Doctor Who gets its newest companion, Victoria.

Sam, Inspector Crossland and Jamie

Sam, Inspector Crossland and Jamie

The Doctor and Inspector Crossland

The Doctor and Inspector Crossland

The Faceless Ones was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 April and 13 May 1967.  Episodes 1 and 3 are available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

The Faceless Ones was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 April and 13 May 1967. Episodes 1 and 3 are available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

Doctor Who’s Companions: The Definitive Guide (Part 4)

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Funk's House of Geekery

And here we are at the conclusion! If you want to catch up on the previous entries you can find them right here:

Sarah Foreman – Ben Jackson

Jamie McCrimmon – K9

Romana – Grace Holloway

Once you’re caught up you can get stuck into this bumper final edition covering the entire companion line up from the reboot.

Rose Tyler

Played by Billie Piper

Species: Human

Era: Early 21st Century

Doctor: Ninth and Tenth

First Appearance: Rose, the first episode of the Season 1 Reboot. Rose gets caught up in an Auton invasion of London that sees her cross paths with the Doctor a number of times. She is hesitant to join the Doctor in the TARDIS at first but quickly relents.

Profile: Rose may not have endeared herself to fans from the get-go but she certainly grew on us and is now remembered as one of the definitive companions of the…

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The Macra Terror – Loose Cannon Reconstructions

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ImageAll four episodes of The Macra Terror are missing from the BBC Archives.  All that remains of the serial is the audio soundtrack, telesnaps and several short clips excised by the Australian Censorship Board.  For the purposes of this marathon I viewed Loose Cannon’s excellent reconstructions, links for which appear below.

Loose Cannon’s The Macra Terror, Episode 1 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Macra Terror, Episode 1 Part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Macra Terror, Episode 2 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Macra Terror, Episode 2 Part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Macra Terror, Episode 3 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Macra Terror, Episode 3 Part 2

Loose Cannon’s The Macra Terror, Episode 4 Part 1

Loose Cannon’s The Macra Terror, Episode 4 Part 2

The Macra Terror

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Science Fiction is the perfect genre for disguised social commentary. Subjects deemed too sensitive, or politically charged, to examine in mainstream drama can be critiqued in Science Fiction beneath the cloak of fantasy.  Doctor Who in the 21st Century has been the vehicle for political exploration, particularly in respect of same sex marriage.  Whilst the Eleventh Doctor’s companions, Amy Pond and Rory Williams, conformed to the Judeo-Christian tradition of being legally married (even if the Doctor, in his naivety, thought single bunk beds were fun), same sex marriage has been displayed between Madame Vastra, a warrior Silurian and her Victorian maid, and subsequent wife, Jenny Flint. Hence, whilst seemingly supporting the status quo for present day human companions, Doctor Who radically offers an alternate agenda in which same sex marriage is in itself uncontroversial when between an alien and a human.

New Series Doctor Who has broached the subject of same-sex marriage.  Madame Vastra and her wife, Jenny Flint, are seen here in the 2012 Christmas Special The Snowmen

New Series Doctor Who has broached the subject of same-sex marriage. Madame Vastra and her wife, Jenny Flint, are seen here in the 2012 Christmas Special The Snowmen

The Series Three story, Gridlock, features an elderly human same sex couple,  Alice and May Cassini, who have been trapped on the motorway for  23 years.   Their relationship, whilst millions of years away in the far future, is disguised under the humour of a cat, Thomas Kincade Brannigan, who is married to a human, Valerie.  Notwithstanding his own less than conventional marriage, Brannigan is nonetheless unable to wrap his mind around the concept of two women being married to each other.  He continues to refer to the couple as the “Cassini Sisters”.  More about Gridlock, and its relationship to The Macra Terror¸ later in this review.

In 2007's Gridlock Thomas Kincade Brannigan, a cat, is married to a human, Valerie, but finds same-sex marriage difficult to comprehend

In 2007’s Gridlock Thomas Kincade Brannigan, a cat, is married to a human, Valerie, but finds same-sex marriage difficult to comprehend

The "Cassini Sisters", Alice and May, are actually a married couple.

The “Cassini Sisters”, Alice and May, are actually a married couple.

Whilst seemingly a story about giant killer crabs, The Macra Terror, is actually a biting social commentary on British working class recreation and totalitarian regimes. The third and final Doctor Who script written by Ian Stuart Black, The Macra Terror is a continuation of Black’s concerns surrounding colonialism which were raised in his first Who penned serial, The Savages. Black’s second serial, The War Machines, examined amongst other things, mind control which is another of the concerns of The Macra Terror.

Ian Stuart Black, writer of The Macra Terror, The Savages and The War Machines

Ian Stuart Black, writer of The Macra Terror, The Savages and The War Machines

The Macra Terror is set on an unnamed planet far in the future.  Colonized by Earth at some time in the past, this planet is the natural home of the Macra, giant crabs that are reliant up gases toxic to humans for their survival. Perhaps because humans had changed the above ground atmosphere of the planet, the Macra now reside underground, except at night when they visit the planet’s surface.  The Macra have enslaved the human population  and compels them to work mines to produce the toxic gas so essential for their survival.  The human residents, however, are ignorant of the Macra’s control of their colony and blissfully unaware that they have become enslaved through mind control. Believing themselves to reside in a utopian society, the human colony bears an uncanny resemblance to mid 20th Century British Holiday Camps.  Life is regimented, happiness compulsory and dissent considered a mental illness requiring treatment.

The Macra kills the Colony's Controller

The Macra kills the Colony’s Controller

A publicity shot of the Controller and Macra taken prior to filming.  Note that the Controller's hair and make up is different from the Australian Censors saved film clip

A publicity shot of the Controller and Macra taken prior to filming. Note that the Controller’s hair and make up is different from the Australian Censors saved film clip

A reasonable familiarity of the British holiday camp culture is required to understand the biting commentary of The Macra Terror.  As an Australian I found the story’s references to holiday camps oblique and the holiday camp atmosphere more akin to a prison.  Whilst that was certainly one of Black’s messages, British residents would have been a great deal more conversant with commercialized leisure culture that holiday camps were a part of.  These holiday camps were usually in seaside areas and were an immensely popular annual holiday for working class families.  Having suffered from the restrictions and rationing of the Second World War, the British were keen to escape from their work day drudgery into a world of organized leisure for a week or two a year.  Suitably priced for low income earners, the holiday camps offered affordable accommodation in acceptable, but rudimentary, accommodation and communal meals.  Activities for all the family were offered with these centring upon the communal nature of the holiday experience.  Competitions would be run for the best “Knobbly Knees” or the most “Glamorous Grannies”, for example, and holidayers would be conscripted into performing on stage.  Swimming pools, ballrooms, tennis courts, bars and funfairs could be found at these establishments.  Crèches provided child care for children, thereby allowing their parents the opportunity for valuable down time together.

The Colony is run along the lines of a Holiday Camp.  Here Drum Majorettes perform

The Colony is run along the lines of a Holiday Camp. Here Drum Majorettes perform

Ben has a complimentary massage in the Refreshing Department

Ben has a complimentary massage in the Refreshing Department

These holiday camps, however, had an aura of regimentation around them.  Many of the camps had been resumed by the military during the war and still retained ghosts of soldiers’ past.  Public announcements were made through public address systems and some establishments, such as Butlins which was the UK’s largest holiday camp provider, awoke campers at the same time every morning with muzak.  Undoubtedly because of wartime austerity and regimentation, the average punter holidaying at these camps would have found such scheduling of their leisure unsurprising. An intriguing pictorial history of British Holiday camps can be accessed here.

Cinema release commercial for Butlins Holiday Camps

The music  you’d be woken up to each day at Butlins, together with postcards from the 1960s.

The Macra Terror opens with drum majorettes performing to a colony tune.  The Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie have found themselves on the planet and unwittingly captured an escaped patient of enforced conformity, Medok.  They are welcomed to the colony like honoured guests and afforded the services of the Refreshing Department.   A complete choice of all treatments is offered including steam baths, beauty treatments, massages, clothes cleaning, sunlight treatment, moonlight treatment, and sparkling and effervescent sprays.  Whilst Polly gleefully accepts a shampoo, the Doctor is put into a clothes reviver where both his body and his clothes are cleaned and he emerges immaculately groomed.  Although Polly thinks he looks gorgeous, the Doctor has other ideas.  Discovering the” rough and tumble machine” for the toning of muscles, the Doctor jumps in and emerges as his usual dishevelled self.  If only all four episodes of this serial weren’t lost, because this would be an incredible scene to see.

Paul Android, Colonial Dance, The Macra Terror.  The uploader describes himself as a hardcore Whovian who loves everything Doctor Who.  On his YouTube Channel he has over 100 piano arrangements of themes for Doctor Who.  Bless him!

The Doctor is quick to discover that all is not peachy in the colony.  The public address system announcements willing people to happiness have a sinister air about them. Whilst the humans are sleeping at night the Macra pump subliminal messages into their heads however the Doctor is able to awaken both Polly and Jamie before they come under its effects.  Ben is not so lucky and is successfully brainwashed.  This indoctrination ensures that all humans are compliant and are effectively in denial as to the Macra’s existence.  This indoctrination makes Ben turn against his friends and interestingly, loose his Cockney accent.   All is resolved at the end, however, when Ben saves the day by destroying the gas pumping equipment.  In doing so the Macra are killed and the colony again has its freedom.  Notwithstanding all the colony has been through, it appears to be happy to continue with its traditions of holiday camp style, enforced happiness.  When it’s suggested that the Doctor might become the Colony’s next Pilot (leader), the Tardis Crew is quick to decamp but not before Jamie does the Highland Fling as they exit through the door.  Now that’s another scene I’d love to have been able to see.

Jamie is a restless sleeper and cannot be indoctrinated.  Ben, however, is a victim of the mind control

Jamie is a restless sleeper and cannot be indoctrinated. Ben, however, is a victim of the mind control

The enforced happiness that is an essential element of the Macra controlled colony, is a theme that is taken up 21 years later in the Seventh Doctor story, The Happiness Patrol. Another biting political saga in disguise, The Happiness Patrol is scathingly critical of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The Macra, however, would not be seen in Doctor Who for another 40 years and currently hold the record for the second longest gap in appearances of any Who monster or character.  They made their return in the 2007 story, Gridlock, which bears some similarities with The Macra Terror. The character with the longest interval between appearances is The Great Intelligence, with 44 years between outings. In Gridlock the Macra have infiltrated the city of New New York in New Earth, whereas in The Macra Terror it is humans that have colonized the Macra’s planet. In both instances the Macra are reliant upon noxious gas, with the Gridlock variety thriving on the toxic fumes of motor vehicles.  The Tenth Doctor states that the Macra have devolved since last he met them, and again in Gridlock they appear to be doomed as the roof to the motorway opens, thereby allowing the gas on which they are reliant to escape.

Polly and Ben are confronted by the Macra

Polly and Ben are confronted by the Macra

The 2007 Macra of Gridlock are much smaller and less intelligent creatures

The 2007 Macra of Gridlock are much smaller and less intelligent creatures

The Macra Terror is unfortunately Ben and Polly’s penultimate Doctor Who serial.  Join me at Gatwick Airport for The Faceless Ones as we sadly bid them farewell.

The Doctor finds another funny hat to wear

The Doctor finds another funny hat to wear

The Macra Terror was originally broadcast in the UK between 11 March and 1 April 1967.  All four episodes are missing from the BBC Archives

The Macra Terror was originally broadcast in the UK between 11 March and 1 April 1967. All four episodes are missing from the BBC Archives

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

Doctor Who’s Companions: The Definitive Guide (Part 3)

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Funk's House of Geekery

We started this series quite some time ago but had to put it on hold while I, well, had to finish watching the series. Turns out that it’s looooong. Anyway, we’re up to date on the world of Doctor Who and we’re ready to get the ball rolling again. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 first, and there’s also our guide to the Doctor himself (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

Romana

Played by Mary Tamm and Lalla Ward

Species: Time Lord

Era: The Rassilon Era

Doctor: Fourth

First Appearance: The Ribos Operation (Season 16) – the beginning of the ‘Key to Time’ saga. When the Doctor was enlisted by the White Guardian to seek out and assemble the Key to Time he was provided with a companion to aid him on his way. Romana, a recent graduate from the Time Academy, was immediately transported onto…

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Doctor Who’s Companions – The Definitive Guide (Part 2)

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Funk's House of Geekery

Jamie McCrimmon

Played by Frazer Hines

Species: Human

Era: Earth, 1746 (specifically Scotland)

Doctor: Second, and teaming up with the Second and Sixth later in the series.

First Appearance:  The Highlanders (Season 4) – Jamie is a piper in the Scottish army, serving in the Battle of Culloden. He assists the Doctor in his adventure when he visits the era and Polly suggests that he join them in the TARDIS before they leave. 

Profile: Jamie may have been naive in the ways of science and the universe due to the era from- which he hails, but his bold and adventurous nature meant he never hesitated before exploring new worlds. He always had an easy banter with the Doctor, with his young and brash personality being a perfect compliment to the Doctor’s older, more wily tone. With Polly, Zoe and Victoria joining him and the Doctor, Jamie’s traditional upbringing sees him act…

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