Daily Archives: November 2, 2013

Day 29 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – The Top 5 Second Doctor Stories

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Even with the recent recovery of nine missing episodes from The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear, Patrick Troughton’s tenure as the Doctor still has 54 missing episodes, including four serials in which not a single episode is held – The Power of the Daleks, The Highlanders, The Macra Terror and Fury From the Deep. William Hartnell’s Doctor has 44 of his episodes missing, including six serials without a single episode – Marco Polo, Mission to the Unknown, The Myth Makers, The Massacre, The Savages and The Smugglers.

In the absence of so many stories, making an informed choice on the Top 5 serials for the First and the Second Doctors is both difficult and hypothetical.  A brilliant soundtrack could mask poor visual representations, whilst a boring audio may hide a visually stunning masterpiece.  Without seeing the moving pictures one can never be 100% certain that a story is as good as its reputation. All that being said, here’s the Doctor Who Mind Robber’s humble opinion of the Second Doctor’s Top 5 stories.

Is The Space Pirates really as bad as its reputation?  Only the moving pictures can show for sure

Is The Space Pirates really as bad as its reputation? Only the moving pictures can show for sure

5. The Enemy of the World

The recovery of five episodes and release of all six parts of The Enemy of the World on iTunes recently quickly lead to a reappraisal of this story’s worth. Previously only episode three had been held in the BBC Archives and released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time. That episode was somewhat unrepresentative of the other five and caused many to underestimate the serial’s true worth.

The Enemy of the World was the only Season 5 story without monsters and not of the “base under siege” genre.  Patrick Troughton’s dual role as the Doctor and the evil would-be world dictator, Salamander, allowed him to show another side of his acting skills, notwithstanding the rather dubious Mexican accent. Enemy was also Barry Letts’ Doctor Who debut and heralded the show’s first action scenes involving helicopters and hovercraft.  Such adventures would become second nature during the tenure of the Third Doctor.

Patrick Troughton plays the evil would-be world dictator, Salamader, in The Enemy of the World

Patrick Troughton plays the evil would-be world dictator, Salamader, in The Enemy of the World

4. The Faceless Ones

This will undoubtedly be a controversial choice however it’s one of my personal favourites. Only episodes one and three are held in the BBC Archives.  The last story of Ben and Polly’s tenure as companions, The Faceless Ones is set in the ‘present day’ and features excellent location filming at Gatwick Airport in London. Pauline Collins appears as Samantha Briggs, a young woman from Liverpool who is searching for her brother who did not return from a package holiday to Rome. A psychological thriller about identity loss, it was sure to have heavily influenced Mark Gatiss’ 2006 episode, The Idiot’s Lantern.

The Faceless Ones influenced the  2006 story  The Idiot's Lantern

The Faceless Ones influenced the 2006 story The Idiot’s Lantern

3. The Evil of the Daleks

One of the most highly regarded Sixties Dalek stories, The Evil of the Daleks was the first and only serial to be repeated in the UK during that decade.  The repeat was written into the script of the Season 5 finale, The Wheel in Space, and the Season 6 premiere, The Dominators. The new companion Zoe was to view the Doctor’s thought patterns, presumably during the season break, and decide whether she wished to join the TARDIS Crew.

Yet another missing story, only episode two of The Evil of the Daleks is currently held in the BBC Archives.  The story introduced the Dalek Emperor which was a direct spin off from the Whitaker penned Daleks cartoons in TV Century 21 magazine. The Dalek “human factor” is intriguing and like The Faceless Ones, undoubtedly influenced New Series Doctor Who. Robert Shearman’s Series 1 story, Dalek, has several nods to The Evil of the Daleks, whilst Gareth Roberts’ short novel, I Am a Dalek, revives the “human factor” in more than mere words.

The Evil of the Daleks was the first Doctor Who serial ever repeated and the first and only repeat to be scripted into serials

The Evil of the Daleks was the first Doctor Who serial ever repeated and the first and only repeat to be scripted into serials

2. The War Games

Patrick Troughton’s last serial as the Second Doctor, The War Games is a 10 part epic which forever changed the history of Doctor Who. Although the name of his home planet is not yet disclosed, the Doctor is revealed to be a Time Lord. A renegade Time Lord, the War Chief, has given the secrets of time travel to an alien race which seeks to conquer the galaxy.  In their quest to build the best fighting force, human soldiers have been transported from Earth to fight a number of simultaneous wars. These discrete battle zones see engagements from the First World War, the American Civil War, Russo-Japanese War, English Civil War, Boar War, Mexican Civil War, Crimean War, Thirty Year War, Peninsula War, and Roman and Greek war zones.

Being unable to return all the War Games participants to their own time and space, the Doctor reluctantly calls in the Time Lords. Having himself been a renegade since stealing a TARDIS and taking to the universe, the Doctor is at last compelled to face justice for breaching the Time Lords’ Non Interference Policy. Jamie and Zoe are returned to their own times, with all but the memories of their first adventure with the Doctor wiped, and the Doctor is sentenced to exile on Earth.  His knowledge of the TARDIS’s time travel functions is denied him, and he is forced to change his bodily form. The term “regeneration” has not yet been coined.  So ends the monochrome era of Doctor Who and Patrick Troughton’s three year tenure as the Doctor.

Only in the 1960s could you get something as trippy and psychedelic as this

Only in the 1960s could you get something as trippy and psychedelic as this

1. The Mind Robber

An almost psychedelic trip through the land of fiction, The Mind Robber is just about as good as Doctor Who gets. This five part serial sees the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe caught in the world of children’s fairytales. They encounter Lemuel Gulliver, brilliantly portrayed by Bernard Horsfall, Princess Repunzel, Medusa, a Unicorn and a cast of Who created characters.  Far from being what it seems, nothing is reality.  Zoe and Jamie are transformed into fictional characters after Jamie had earlier had his physical appearance altered. The TARDIS explodes for the first time and the Doctor and his crew find themselves drifting in space. Zoe shows that being small in stature is in no way detrimental to fighting a 21st Century cartoon superhero, and Repunzel’s hair really is the strongest and most effective way of quickly scaling rocky cliff faces.  It’s all brilliant stuff!

The Doctor, Zoe and the re-faced Jamie meet up with wind-up tin toy soldiers in The Mind Robber

The Doctor, Zoe and the re-faced Jamie meet up with wind-up tin toy soldiers in The Mind Robber

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

Day 30 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – The Top 5 First Doctor Stories

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5. The Aztecs

A Special Edition of The Aztecs was released earlier this year which included an abridged reconstruction of Galaxy 4, together with episode three which was recovered in 2011. The Aztecs has long been held in high esteem by fandom and is a superb example of the historical dramas that the BBC has always brilliantly produced. Set in South America during the time prior to Spanish settlement, the serial tells the story of Barbara’s determination to change history. In a quest to satisfy her penchant for bracelets, Barbara donned a snake bangle discovered not long after the party disembarked from the TARDIS.  Mistaken by the locals as the reincarnation of the high priest Yetaxa, her extraordinary knowledge of history and modern sense of morality naturally saw her rile against human sacrifice. From the beginning the Doctor’s objective was to ensure that history was not rewritten.  This was the first serial in which the parameters of “fiddling” with time and space were examined.  Barbara’s refusal to conform to the Doctor’s direction that “time can’t be rewritten.  Not one line” very nearly had fatal consequences for the Crew. Henceforth there would be limits on the TARDIS Crew’s actions.

Ian was lucky to escape with his life in The Aztecs

Ian was lucky to escape with his life in The Aztecs

4. The Tenth Planet

The First Doctor’s final story, The Tenth Planet heralded a number of firsts – Doctor Who’s first regeneration, the introduction of the Cybermen and the prototype for the Second Doctor’s “base under siege” formula. Rumours abound that the missing fourth episode, which features William Hartnell’s regeneration, has been recovered.  The DVD of the story has recently been released featuring an animation of episode four.  I wonder if a Special Edition, with the (alleged) recovered episode four, should be expected soon?

The DVD cover art for The Tenth Planet

The DVD cover art for The Tenth Planet

3. The Massacre

The Massacre is completely missing from the BBC Archives, although some of the current missing episode rumours suggest that it has been recovered.  Set in 1572 France, the serial chronicles the Doctor and Steven’s adventures during the Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy (the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre) in which thousands of protestant Huguenots were massacred in a religious war lead by Roman Catholics. William Hartnell plays two roles in The Massacre – both the Doctor and the Doctor’s evil doppelganger, the Abbot of Amboise. As this is a historical drama it can almost be assured that the set design and costuming was brilliant.  The story is the only example in monochrome Doctor Who of a single companion accompanying the Doctor.  It also introduces new companion, Dodo Chaplet, in the last 10 minutes of the final episode.

The Doctor and Steven in The Massacre

The Doctor and Steven in The Massacre

2. An Unearthly Child

The first Doctor Who serial, An Unearthly Child introduced the strange adventures of a belligerent old man, the Doctor, and his grand-daughter, Susan Foreman. Possessed of a time machine which externally resembled a Police Call Box, the Doctor’s Ship was larger on the inside and capable of both time and space travel.  Coal Hill school teachers, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, barged their way into the TARDIS (an acronym for Time and Relative Dimension in Space) whilst looking for their student, Susan.  Fearful that the teachers would reveal his secret, the Doctor kidnapped the pair as the TARDIS was seen to dematerialize for the first time.

Episodes two, three and four of the serial are more properly known as The Cave of Skulls, The Forest of Fear and The Firemaker. The Doctor, Susan and their two unwilling companions find themselves in pre-historic times and at the mercy of a tribe of cavemen who have lost their knowledge of fire making.

The first TARDIS Crew in An Unearthly Child

The first TARDIS Crew in An Unearthly Child

1.  Marco Polo

I’m going out on a limb here nominating a completely lost seven part serial as the Top First Doctor story.  As outlined in our post Missing Episodes – Has Marco Polo Been Recovered?  last week, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this classic serial has been recovered and restored, and finds its way onto the iTunes playlists before Christmas.

The fourth Doctor Who story, Marco Polo was directed by Waris Hussein who was also responsible for the first serial, An Unearthly Child. As far as the BBC is presently letting on, all that remains of Marco Polo are some stunning colour photographs taken on set and the fan recorded soundtrack.  In the days prior to home video recording and commercial VHS releases, the only way that a fan could re-live a Doctor Who episode was to listen to the reel-to-reel audio recording which they’d made during the episode’s original transmission. Incredibly, around half a dozen fan recorded collections remained extant and were located during the 1980s and 1990s. It was during those decades that fans became cognisant of the BBC’s destruction of its television heritage and went searching for what remained.  Thanks to the endeavours of a small group of hard-core fans who religiously recorded Doctor Who each Saturday evening, aficionados of Who were now able to listen to long lost episodes.

Is Marco Polo really as good as fans who watched the original and only transmission remember?  Certainly the audio suggests something very special.  Hopefully we’ll all be able to soon judge for ourselves.

Marco Polo is the earliest missing Doctor Who serial

Marco Polo is the earliest missing Doctor Who serial

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

The Daleks’ Master Plan

Sara Kingdom in combat mode in The Daleks' Master Plan

Sara Kingdom in combat mode in The Daleks’ Master Plan

The Myth Makers

Vicki and Troilus in The Myth Makers

Vicki and Troilus in The Myth Makers

The image at the top of this post is a painting by Francois Dobois depicting the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. No copyright infringement is intended.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.