Monthly Archives: September 2013

Brilliant Fan Made Twelfth Doctor Opening Titles

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This fan made introduction sequence for the Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi, has only been kicking around YouTube for a fortnight but has already generated over 175,000 hits. Produced by a YouTuber with the username of billydakiduk, the audio arrangement is by Chris Adams of Hardwire. Do you think that BBC Wales could better it?

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“Lost in Time” Reshelved – Another Milestone Reached

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ImageThe triple DVD set Lost in Time has been my constant companion since the sixth serial of Season Two, The Crusade. 106 episodes of Doctor Who are currently listed as officially missing from the BBC Archives. My use of the words “officially missing” are quite deliberate as rumours continue to swirl throughout Who fandom of the alleged recovery of multiple episodes. With neither a confirmation nor unequivocal denial by the BBC, these rumours are unlikely to dissipate in the near future. 

Episode One of The Crusade is the first orphan episode on disc one of Lost in Time

Episode One of The Crusade is the first orphan episode on disc one of Lost in Time

Tonight I had the great pleasure of finally removing disc three of Lost in Time from my Blu Ray player, putting it away in its case, and then reshelving the set. Having watched the extant episode two of The Space Pirates, and the Loose Cannon reconstructions of the  remaining five episodes, I’ve just completed one of the greatest challenges of a Doctor Who fan – to watch reconstructions of all 106 missing episodes and the 18 full orphan episodes released on Lost in Time.  What a relief it is to have straddled the last hurdle in the seemingly unending race towards the final episode of Doctor Who’s monochrome era, The War Games. Henceforth, there are no missing episodes of Doctor Who and only 10 black and white ones remaining. The end of an era is fast approaching and I will certainly miss Patrick Troughton’s “Cosmic Hobo” Doctor.

Episode Two of The Space Pirates is the last orphan episode on disc three of Lost in Time

Episode Two of The Space Pirates is the last orphan episode on disc three of Lost in Time

Watch out for my review of The Space Pirates in the next day or two, and The War Games later in the week. The first post in my 50 Day Countdown to the 50th Anniversary will appear on Friday 4 October and will be rather unimaginatively titled The Ten Most Wanted Missing Episodes. Please join me then for a fun romp through 1960s Doctor Who. 

A Doctor Who Magazine front cover on Missing Episodes

A Doctor Who Magazine front cover on Missing Episodes

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown

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To celebrate Doctor Who’s upcoming 50th Anniversary The Doctor Who Mind Robber will be counting down the last 50 days to this momentous event. Starting on Friday 4th October (Australian time) we’ll be posting a 1960s Who post everyday. Utilizing a “best of” format, the posts will examine a myriad of First and Second Doctor topics including Cliff Hangers, Monsters, Billy Fluffs, Firsts. Lasts, Companions, Supporting Actors and Dodgy Special Effects. Any suggestions for “Best” or “Worst” lists would be gratefully appreciated.

William Hartnell as the Doctor in The Celestial Toymaker

William Hartnell as the Doctor in The Celestial Toymaker
Patrick Troughton as the Doctor in The Power of the Daleks

Patrick Troughton as the Doctor in The Power of the Daleks

My first post will be rather unimaginatively titled The Ten Most Wanted Missing Episodes.  Please join me from the 4th of October for this exciting daily look at retro Doctor Who. 

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

50th Anniversary Ident Reveal a Damp Squid

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ImageAfter whipping up excitement with a press release headed Trailer, Stings and Other Things … the BBC produced a damp squid when they released two short previews preceding and following Saturday’s episode of Atlantis.  The previews, of a mere five and ten second duration, feature no scenes, photographs or dialogue from the 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor. Instead viewers simply learnt that the phenomenally unimaginative hashtag #SaveTheDay would be used to promote the Anniversary Special. The hashtag is now trending, but principally with exclamations of disappointment. Let’s hope that the promised trailer is more enticing.

Meanwhile, my day has been saved by finding this rather cool photo of the five surviving Classic Series Doctors. Perhaps the official 50th Anniversary audio adventure, The Light at the End, will be more exciting than The Day of the Doctor. 

Five Old Doctors

The five surviving Classic Series Doctors. From left to right, Colin Baker (6th), Sylvester McCoy (7th), Tom Baker (4th), Paul McGann (8th) and Peter Davison (5th)

You can view a more imaginative BBC Doctor Who ident here.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

 

BBC Drip Feeds 50th Anniversary Special Details

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ImageIn the BBC’s continued drip feeding of The Day of the Doctor details, a photograph was today released from behind the scenes of the 50th Anniversary Special. Together with several Dalek bottoms, it also appears to feature at least one damaged Dalek. Could this perhaps hint at the Time War?

The BBC has also revealed that the Twitter hashtag for the Day of the Doctor, and ‘stings’ that will reveal the ident for the Special, will be unveiled on BBC One this evening. I have to admit to not knowing what an ident or a sting were prior to reading the BBC’s press release. I’m not a great deal wiser now, however I believe that an ident is the Station Identification (the branding of the station) and a sting is a brief glimpse of what’s forthcoming.  If anyone can enlighten me further it would be greatly appreciated.

In the meantime, here’s the BBC One 2009 Christmas Ident featuring the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant. You learn something every day!

You can read more about the ident reveal here.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Seeds of Death

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The Doctor had long shown himself to be adept at time travel, however it was not until the 1969 serial The Seeds of Death that he was seen to man a more conventional form of space transportation, a rocket.  That the Doctor and his friends should find themselves on a rocket to the Moon should come as no surprise given that this serial was broadcast in early 1969 and the Apollo 11 landed the first humans on the Moon on 20 July 1969. What is more astounding is that in the world of Doctor Who rockets are perceived to be outdated and an anachronism.  In The Seeds of Death Professor Eldred is the curator of a space museum who spends his spare time secretly working on a rocket.  All transportation is now carried out by T-Mat, otherwise known as transmit, a form of instantaneous particle matter transfer. Even motor cars have become redundant and the T-Mat system is used to transport people and produce throughout the world.  There is a T-Mat relay on the Moon and it is from there that the Ice Warriors intend to commence their conquest of the Earth.

Jamie, the Doctor and Zoe arrive on Earth following their adventures with The Krotons

Jamie, the Doctor and Zoe arrive on Earth following their adventures with The Krotons

The Doctor is covered in foam as he attempts to gain entry to the Weather Station

The Doctor is covered in foam as he attempts to gain entry to the Weather Station

That there is no alternative transport to T-Mat is extraordinary, particularly as the sustenance of the whole world is dependent upon its operation. This extreme example of “putting all your eggs in one basket” was what led the Doctor and his companions to risk their lives in an untested experimental rocket.  It appears that together with world famine, local stock-piling of goods has long since ended. Although the details provided in The Seeds of Death are sketchy, it appears that the T-Mat system is operated, if not wholly owned, by a corporation named Travel-Mat.  What Travel-Mat’s relationship is to the governments of the world is not specified. Perhaps Travel-Mat is the world government? Travel-Mat certainly has some relationship with the United Nations as Professor Eldred describes Sir James Gregson as the United Nations Plenipotentiary.  Radnor clarifies this by saying that Gregson is the Minister with special responsibility for T-Mat. I suspect that the climate change sceptics with whom I frequently debate would revel in declaring The Seeds of Death to be an accurate prediction of their New World Order conspiracies. Come to think of it, most climate change deniers know so little about science that they’d probably think the mistaken “science” of The Ice Warriors is correct.  Distinguishing fact from fiction can at times be difficult for some, hence the premise behind The Mind Robber!

T-Mat employees wear an unfortunate uniform with their underpants on the outside

T-Mat employees wear an unfortunate uniform with their underpants on the outside

Arguably the most powerful person employed by Travel-Mat is Miss Gia Kelly, the Assistant Controller, who inexplicably is the only person who completely understands T-Mat.  Again the question arises as to what would happen to this world-wide transport system, on which the distribution of all Earth’s food is dependent, if Miss Kelly suddenly became indisposed. It’s a pleasant development in Doctor Who to have a women in such a powerful role and not be denigrated for her gender by fellow on-screen workers. Kelly even managed to escape the sexism inherent in the UNIT soldiers’ praise for Zoe in The Invasion, when they said that she was “prettier than a computer”.  That being said, I’m at a loss to understand why Kelly was portrayed as so officious and unable to smile.  What does this say about our perceptions of powerful women? Do women that attain the giddy heights of success necessarily relinquish all vestiges of humanity in the minds of others? Even a casual observer to Australian politics in recent years would be cognisant of sexist vitriol thrown at our former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. Being “deliberately barren” was perhaps the most offensive of them all.  I would posit that the writer Brian Hayles’ portrayal of Kelly is an example of this offensive stereotyping of successful women.

Miss Kelly is the only person who truly understands T-Mat.  She is pictured here with the rocket countdown reflected onto her face

Miss Kelly is the only person who truly understands T-Mat. She is pictured here with the rocket countdown reflected onto her face

Gia Kelly is arguably the most powerful person working for Travel-Mat

Gia Kelly is arguably the most powerful person working for Travel-Mat

Unfortunately I have a concern with the Doctor’s ethics in The Seeds of Death. At the serial’s end the Doctor sent the Ice Warriors’ rockets onto an orbit close to the Sun by transmitting a fake homing signal.  When the Warrior Slaar told the Doctor that he has destroyed their whole fleet, the Doctor’s response was that “you tried to destroy an entire world”. Given that the Doctor believed these Warriors to be the only survivors of their species, he was effectively committing genocide. Whilst we all now know that the fleet didn’t comprise the last of the Ice Warriors, that’s not the point.  The Doctor acted in a similar manner to the Daleks in The Evil of the Daleks and to the Drahvins in Galaxy 4. In my review of Galaxy 4 I discussed in some detail how the Doctor’s apparent genocide of a race was at odds with his classic moral deliberations in The Genesis of the Daleks.

The Doctor kills the first of many Ice Warriors

The Doctor kills the first of many Ice Warriors

Akin to Brian Hayles’ problems with science in The Ice Warriors, The Seeds of Death is similarly tainted.  Remarkably, whilst the Ice Warriors collapsed when the temperate reached 60 degrees Celsius, the humans exhibited no ill effects at all.  Not a bead of sweat was seen to develop on a single brow. This story did, however, again exhibit Hayles’ apparent concern for things environmental. The plant consuming foam which emerged from the Ice Warrior’s seeds would eventually result in the removal of all oxygen and the death of humans as the atmosphere became more akin to that of Mars.

The Doctor discovers that water destroy's the Ice Warriors' seeds

The Doctor discovers that water destroys the Ice Warriors’ seeds

Technology had also caught up with Doctor Who by the Ice Warrior’s second appearance. Filmed inserts for episodes were by then being produced during the recording of the previous stories.  Because of the 1968/1969 Christmas/New Year break, some inserts were filmed up to six weeks prior to the recording of the episodes. It’s for that reason that careful observation will show that within the same episode the Doctor can at one point have particularly bushy side-burns, and the next moment has none.

The Doctor discusses retro rockets with Professor Eldred

The Doctor discusses retro rockets with Professor Eldred

When Jamie suggested that the Doctor should use the TARDIS to travel back to the Moon the Doctor was quick to advise that “the TARDIS is not suited to short range travel”.  It’s a shame that the Eleventh Doctor  didn’t remember that  when he decided to take the TARDIS for a quick hop to the Moon to run her in during The Eleventh Hour (2010).  He didn’t come back to Amy until two years later!  The Doctor also seemed to have forgotten exactly how much of an unpleasant time he’d had when last he visited a space museum (The Space Museum). Quite naturally Zoe knows how to pilot a rocket so she necessarily went up in my esteem, yet again.  She also has a photographic memory.

Clearly the Eleventh Doctor had forgotten that the TARDIS is not suited to short range travel in The Eleventh Hour (2010)

Clearly the Eleventh Doctor had forgotten that the TARDIS was not suited to short range travel in The Eleventh Hour (2010)

Amongst her many skills, Zoe can pilot a space rocket

Amongst her many skills, Zoe can pilot a space rocket

With the conclusion of The Seeds of Death we say goodbye to the last monster story of Patrick Troughton’s tenure.  Not only is it the final monster serial of the 1960s but also of Doctor Who’s monochrome era.  Troughton’s penultimate adventure, The Space Pirates, has no aliens although it does have a space cowboy who is almost as bad, in a frightening sort of way!

The Seeds of Death was originally broadcast in the UK between 25 January and 1 March 1969

The Seeds of Death was originally broadcast in the UK between 25 January and 1 March 1969

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Krotons

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The second part of Series 7 of Doctor Who, which is also referred to as Series 7B, has been said by some to be a “love letter” to Classic Doctor Who.   Resplendent with obscure references to Who’s 50 year history, the Eleventh Doctor’s final complete season also contained “shout outs” to the Second Doctor’s tenure.  Together with the re-appearance of the Great Intelligence after a 44 year absence and the Ice Warriors following a 39 year hiatus, Series 7 also made reference to the mysterious HADS, the Hostile Action Displacement System.  In the same episode that heralded the Ice Warrior’s return, the TARDIS dematerialized from a sinking submarine in the South Pole to the North Pole (Cold War).  When functioning correctly the HADS dematerializes the TARDIS to a close-by location when it is under external attack. It needs to be manually set, however, and the Doctor usually forgets to set it.  The first and only on-screen reference to HADS prior to Cold War was in the 1968-1969 serial, The Krotons.  In that instance the TARDIS relocated several metres up a hill after being attacked by Krotons.

The Krotons - HADS

That a story as humble and lowly regarded as The Krotons should be alluded to more than four decades later is a testament to the high regard in which the Patrick Troughton era is generally held.  Even “bad” Troughton stories have their redeeming features, not least of which is the very presence of the Second Doctor himself.  Troughton has some charming scenes in this story including his classic encounter with the Kroton’s intelligence testing machine.  As seen in the clip below, the Doctor decides to take the test after Zoe accidently completes it and receives a score twice as high as the Gonds’ previous best students. “Zo-Gond” (Zoe) is chosen to be a Companion of the Krotons and the Doctor won’t allow her to enter the Kroton’s Ship, the Dynatrope, alone.  Easily flustered, the Doctor has difficulties at the commencement of the test which precipitates a wonderful banter between the pair.  After assisting the Doctor to put on his headset and press the correct button, the Doctor barks at Zoe, “All right, there’s no need to shout!  Now go away and don’t fuss me.  No, come back.  What’s this?  It’s all right, I know.  Right, fire away, I’m ready”.

Great Jumping Gobstoppers, The Krotons.

“Oh, my giddy aunt” is one of the better known Second Doctor’s expressions, however it’s in The Krotons that it makes its debut – less than six months before the end of Troughton’s tenure. As shown in the video posted, “great jumping gobstoppers” is also a lovely Troughtonism.

The Doctor and Zoe are approached by a Kroton

The Doctor and Zoe are approached by a Kroton

Zoe’s extraordinarily high intelligence is remarked upon several times in The Krotons.  She tells Selris that the “Doctor’s almost as clever as I am” whilst earlier the Doctor had said to him, “Yes, well, Zoe is something of a genius. Of course it can be very irritating at times”. The Doctor, however, is never seriously concerned by Zoe’s brilliance. There’s no sense of threat and never a suggestion that her intellect is unbecoming of a young woman. Similarly, the Doctor is not dismissive of Jamie, notwithstanding his apparent dimness. What Jamie lacks in schooling and cultivation he more than compensates for in gut instinct and cunning. The Doctor is equally as accepting of both his companions.

The Doctor is almost as clever as Zoe

The Doctor is almost as clever as Zoe

Zoe helps the Doctor take the Kroton's test

Zoe helps the Doctor take the Krotons’ test

I have little doubt that if I’d watched Zoe as an impressionable young girl then she’d have been my heroine.  Able to complete any mathematical task better than a male and even the Doctor on occasion, Zoe had intellect in abundance and was gorgeous to boot. If I was 6” shorter, numerous kilos lighter and a few decades younger, playing Zoe would be my ultimate Cosplay ambition! The Third Doctor’s first companion, Liz Shaw, continued and expanded upon Zoe’s keen intellect and abilities, although her tenure was regrettably cut short.  I will extrapolate upon this when Season Seven in reached.

The delightful Wendy Padbury as Zoe Heriot

The delightful Wendy Padbury as Zoe Heriot

The moral that I took from The Krotons were the dangers of indoctrination and limitations to free scientific enquiry.  The Gonds had been in a state of self-perpetuating slavery to the Krotons for thousands of years.  They were educated by machines created by the Krotons and forbidden to study chemistry.  As the Doctor noted, there were tremendous gaps in the Gonds’ knowledge.  He asked why the Gonds had never thought to question why the prohibition on chemistry existed.  That people would be educated by machines in the future was a prediction considered several times in 1960’s Doctor Who. The First Doctor’s companion Vicki, an orphan from the 25th Century, had been educated for only one hour a week on machines and considered the History teacher Barbara’s 1963 curriculum to be infantile.  The manner of Zoe’s education is unclear, however as a product of City’s Educational institution she, like the Krotons, had enormous gaps in her knowledge.  Whilst able to undertake mental calculations in a second, she was bereft of social skills.

The Gonds have been in self perpetuating slavery to the Krotons for thousands of years

The Gonds have been in self perpetuating slavery to the Krotons for thousands of years

The 1960’s fear of educational indoctrination would most certainly have had its genesis in the Nazi’s brainwashing of the German people.  Technophobia is also likely to have been influential. Distain for computers was evident in The War Machines and The Invasion. In the latter the Doctor loudly proclaimed his hatred for computers on several occasions.  The Luddite-like smashing of the Kroton’s educational machines by a group of Gonds further evidences this fear of technology.

The growing awareness of South African apartheid, in which the minority whites  enslaved the black population, could also have influenced Robert Holmes in the writing of this story. On the suggestion of Roy  Skelton, he and Patrick Tull voiced the Krotons with a slightly South African inflection.

The Krotons spoke with South African accents

The Krotons spoke with South African accents

Yet another attempt at a Dalek replacement, the Krotons were a poor substitute.  With arms that looked like the robot’s from Lost in Space, the Krotons were disabled by their strange and inflexible metal hands.  Possessed of a rather cool spinning head, the poor Krotons were not so lucky with that part of their costume below the waist. A rubber skirt was merely tacked on to disguise the operators’ legs.  The concept behind the Kroton’s creation was rather more interesting. Crystalline beings, the Krotons survive in their space-craft, the Dynatrope, in suspended animation in a form of slurry.  To reconstitute themselves they must absorb sufficient mental energy.  It is for this reason that every year they have taken the best two Gond students, drained them of their mental powers, and then killed them.  Rather than exterminating them as the Daleks do, the Krotons “disperse” them in a process in which the victim in essence disintegrates.

The Krotons with Jamie

The Krotons with Jamie

Join me for my next review when the Ice Warriors return in their second adventure, The Seeds of Death. Our time with Patrick Troughton is fast coming to an end.

The Krotons was originally broadcast in the UK between 28 December 1968 and 18 January 1969

The Krotons was originally broadcast in the UK between 28 December 1968 and 18 January 1969

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.