Day 49 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – The 10 Least Remembered Monsters of the Sixties

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10.          The Mechonoids – The Chase

Written by the Daleks’ creator, Terry Nation, the Mechonoids appeared in the penultimate serial of Season 2, The Chase.  Together with the farewell of companions Ian and Barbara, The Chase  was the first attempt by Terry Nation to create a rival to the Daleks’ popularity. The Mechonoids were created to protect humans on the planet Mechanus however ultimately no humans colonized the planet. The Daleks battled the Mechonoids during this story.  Not unlike many early Doctor Who monsters, the Mechonoids were large, cumbersome and totally unsuited for most of their tasks.

The Chase was the Mechonoids only television appearance on Doctor Who, although they did appear in comics and had several items of merchandise produced.

A mechonoid with two Daleks in The Chase

A mechonoid with two Daleks in The Chase

9.            The Macra – The Macra Terror

Although revived in the Series 3 episode Gridlock, the providence of the Macra would probably have been lost on most New Series Doctor Who fans. With all four episodes of The Macra Terror lost, it is of little surprise that the Macra have long faded from memory.  Giant crab like creatures, they inhabited underground tunnels and were reliant upon toxic gases to breath.

Thanks for the vigilance of the Australian Censorship Board, several censored clips from The Macra Terror have survived.  A 15 second clip of a Macra grabbing Polly and another 7 second clip of Ben and Polly watching an approaching Macra, have survived from Episode Two. A two second clip of the Controller being attacked by a Macra survives from Episode Three.

A publicity shot of the Controller and Macra taken prior to filming

A publicity shot of the Controller and Macra taken prior to filming

8.            The Krotons – The Krotons

Robert Holmes’ first serial for Doctor Who produced yet another one-off monster, the Krotons.  In my review of The Krotons I described these monsters thus:

 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 Krotons spoke with South African accents

The Krotons spoke with South African accents

7.            The Quarks – The Dominators

Created by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln, the writers of the two Yeti stories The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear, the Quarks of The Dominators were nowhere near successful as Haisman and Lincoln’s first monsters. The Quarks were less than convincing monsters and were ostensibly a box with legs, two pieces of wood for arms, and a quite fancy round head.  The creatures were so small that school children were hired as operators.

Haisman and Lincoln believed that they’d created “the next big thing” and as a consequence a dispute between the writers and the BBC ensued. The writers’ sought exclusive rights for the marketing of the Quarks however unbeknownst to them, the BBC had already sold the comic rights to the Quarks. An injunction against the airing of The Krotons was threatened, although legal action was not forthcoming. The Dominators was the last Doctor Who serial that Haisman and Lincoln worked on. Although never again appearing on TV, the Quarks had a short career as comic book characters.

The Quarks were less than convincing as monsters

The Quarks were less than convincing as monsters

6.            The Fish People – The Underwater Menace

Of The Underwater Menace’s four episodes, two are held in the BBC Archives and only  one has been released on the Lost in Time compilation DVD. Another of the Troughton era serials that is generally held in low regard by fandom, The Underwater Menace featured Fish People.  These strange creatures were once humans but had been operated on to enable them to breath underwater.  These surgically modified humans, who now had gills, flippers and scales, were slaves to the Atlaneans. Polly narrowly escaped being transformed into a Fish Person.

The Fish People’s costumes included many sequins and they spent much of their time engaged in synchronised swimming.  The rest of the time they collected  a constant supply of fresh plankton  which was required by the Atlaneans who were bereft of refrigeration.  Alas, the plankton of The Underwater Menace were not as cute as the SpongeBob SquarePants character.

A rare colour photo of the Fish People

A rare colour photo of the Fish People

5.            WOTAN – The War Machines

Making its first and only appearance in the Season Three finale, The War Machines, WOTAN was the world’s most sophisticated computer.  Pre-empting the internet, WOTAN was designed to link together all of the world’s computers. Located on the top floor of the newly opened Post Office Tower in London, WOTAN was a malignant machine which sought world domination.  WOTAN evidenced the fear of many that the newfangled room-sized computers would usurp humans.

Although not the world's largest computer, WOTAN in the most intelligent

Although not the world’s largest computer, WOTAN is the most intelligent

4.            The Rill – Galaxy 4

Although technically a monster, the Rill of Galaxy 4 were actually benign creatures who had long been the victims of a campaign of aggression by the Drahvins, a race of aggressive females.  Enormous and obscenely ugly green creatures, the Rill can only breathe ammonia. In a tale with the well worn moral of “you can’t judge a book by its cover”, the beautiful blonde Drahvins are the evil and the ugly Rill are the good.

A Chumbley with four Rills in the background

A Chumbley with four Rills in the background

3.            The Menoptra and The Zarbi – The Web Planet

Hailed by some fans as a masterpiece, the First Doctor adventure The Web Planet also has a sizeable number of critics. I was so bored and uninspired by the painfully slow six part serial that I was unable to gather the enthusiasm to write a review.  Instead I posted a fan made YouTube clip which although only three minutes in duration, was immeasurably better than the 150 minute serial.  Is it any wonder that the Menoptra and the Zarbi are forgotten Doctor Who monsters?

Creatures of The Web Planet

Creatures of The Web Planet

2.            The Sensorites – The Sensorites

The penultimate story of Season One, The Sensorites was Doctor Who’s first attempt to create a monster to rival the Daleks.  The Sensorites, who are near neighbours to the New Series monsters, the Ood, are a strange race of creatures who communicate by telepathy. With unusually shaped bald heads, the Sensorites have a fine head of hair growing onwards and upwards from their chins.  Like the Ood, the Sensorites are nameless and genderless and have a tube which hangs from their bodies.  The cord is not the external brain of the Ood, however, but rather a stethoscope to facilitate their communication by telepathy.

A Sensorite using telepathy.

A Sensorite using telepathy.

1.            The Monoids – The Ark

Surely the worst designed of all Sixties Doctor Who monsters, the Monoids  were originally the servants of the Guardians.  In my review of The Ark I described the Monoids in this way:

“.. .a peculiar mute race whose most  distinctive feature is their one eye.  This single eye is in their mouths, or at least what would’ve been their mouths if they had human anatomy. These eyes are actually painted ping pong balls which the actors held in place with their mouths.  Now that’s ingenious small budget special effects for you!  On the top of their heads is a long Beatles style mop top wig, whilst the rest of their bodies are clothed in green ill fitting garb. They have webbed hands and feet and move slowly”.

A lowly regarded serial, The Ark is nonetheless a stunningly directed four part story which is always met by sighs of relief by marathon watchers.  After five lost serials in succession, including the 12 part The Daleks’ Master Plan, watching The Ark on DVD is almost like winning the lottery!

A Monoid complete with voice box

A Monoid complete with voice box

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

  1.  The Voord – The Keys of Marinus
  2.  The Delegates – The Daleks’ Master Plan
  3.  The Chumblies – Galaxy 4

TOMORROW – DAY 48 – The Top 10 Cliff Hangers of the Sixties

YESTERDAY – DAY 50 – The 10 Most Wanted Missing Episodes

You can't help but love the Voord, the "next big thing" that were never seen again on Doctor Who.

You can’t help but love the Voord, the “next big thing” that were never seen again on Doctor Who.  The Keys of Marinus.

Some of the delegates in attendance in The Daleks Master Plan

Some of the delegates in attendance in The Daleks’ Master Plan

A Chumbly with the Drahvins

A Chumbley with the Drahvins in Galaxy 4

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

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9 responses »

  1. Pingback: Day 50 – Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Countdown – The 10 Most Wanted Missing Episodes | The Doctor Who Mind Robber

  2. Not sure I concur with having Menoptra / Zarbi on this list. Sure they’re not well remembered by – for want of a better phrase – casual viewers, but you could say that about any monsters that aren’t Daleks. As both one of the earliest published Dr Who books & VHS release, I would suggest the denizens of ‘The Web Planet’ feature reasonably highly in the consciousness of Who fandom; a situation only likely to improve during this 50th anniversary year!

    • Thanks for your observation Perry. I agree that just about the only monsters that casual viewers of Doctor Who would know are probably the Daleks and the Cybermen. At a pinch they might also know the Ice Warriors and the Yeti. I can understand what you mean about the early release of “The Web Planet” and I have certainly heard the Zarbi joked about from time to time.

  3. Pingback: Day 48 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – The Top 10 Cliff Hangers of the Sixties | The Doctor Who Mind Robber

  4. Pingback: Day 47 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – The 10 Greatest Billy Fluffs | The Doctor Who Mind Robber

  5. Pingback: Musings of a Mild Mannered Man | Doctor Who: 5 Classic Universal Monsters The Doctor Has Faced

  6. Pingback: Missing Episodes Delay 50th Anniversary Countdown | The Doctor Who Mind Robber

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