Category Archives: Season 2

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.

The Hartnell Years – In Colour

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I was recently browsing YouTube and came upon this fabulous compilation of colourized clips from William Hartnell’s tenure as the First Doctor.  Here’s what the producer, who is known only by the alias of “It’s far from being all over”, says about his work:

“My Tribute to the man that started it all, William Hartnell.

I always felt many of his adventures deserved to be seen in colour, so I set to work. It’s taken about three months and I’ve colourised something in the region of 2,125 frames – one by one, frame by frame. 

Some clips work better than others – as I reached the end I found myself dropping shots I didn’t like and recreating new ones! It’s been a labour of love and I hope you enjoy seeing some classic 60’s Doctor Who – in Colour!

Big thanks to ‘Pelham Cort ‏aka @johnxgin3’ for his colour references and support throughout – I’ll do some Troughton soon! “

The Hartnell Years – In Colour

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.

Missing Episodes Hysteria

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As the months countdown to Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary on 23 November 2013, so the rumour mill concerning lost Doctor Who episodes escalates exponentially.  To the best of fans’ knowledge 106 episodes remain missing from the BBC Archives, however the blog site Bleeding Cool has today reported two new rumours. One unnamed person associated with the Doctor Who production team is said to believe that there have been at least 40 episodes returned to the BBC, whilst another alleges 93. These rumours can be added to the pile which also includes claims that 90 episodes have been discovered somewhere in Africa.  Dubbed the omnirumour (or omnirumor for those in America), the Africa 90 story has been circling for months and has set Who internet forums alight.

The 12 part Dalek's Master Plan is one of the most sought after missing Doctor Who serials

The 12 part Daleks’ Master Plan is one of the most sought after missing Doctor Who serials

Unfortunately absolutely no evidence has been forthcoming of any finds, not even one single screen capture. Hearsay is the sole testimony offered, with information only forthcoming from friends of friends.  There has been talk of the BBC having compelled the signing of non disclosure agreements, delicate negotiations with film collectors and/or dictators, and all manner of other theories to justify the complete absence of evidence.  The BBC has issued at least one statement denying that it has lost episodes in its possession, however the rather ambiguous nature of the statement did little to stem the flow of rumours.

The first Doctor Who regeneration (although it was not so named at the time) is among the 106 missing episodes

The first Doctor Who regeneration (although it was not so named at the time) is among the 106 missing episodes

Having watched 11 straight missing episode reconstructions in the last several days, and with another two tomorrow before a one episode breather (episode three of The Underwater Menace), there’s not much more that I’d love than for a hoard of missing episodes to turn up. I won’t be holding my breath, however. Here’s hoping, though, that one day the hardened Doctor Who marathon viewers will be watching a lot fewer of the brilliant Loose Cannon Reconstructions.

The triple DVD Lost in Time contains many orphan Doctor Who episodes from the First and Second Doctor's tenures

The triple DVD Lost in Time contains many orphan Doctor Who episodes from the First and Second Doctor’s tenures

Bleeding Cool’s latest contribution to the missing episodes hysteria can be read at http://www.bleedingcool.com/2013/07/29/those-doctor-who-missing-episodes-rumours-take-a-licking-but-keep-on-ticking/

You can read my update of the Missing Episodes rumours here.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Peculiar Case of Vicki’s Quick Exit

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I have to admit I really liked Vicki. Young, perhaps no more than 17, she had a vibrancy that had been missing in her predecessor, the Doctor’s grand-daughter, Susan.  As a former secondary school teacher I envied the way she was schooled. In The Web Planet Vicki incorrectly assumed that Barbara had taught at a nursery school because they “worked upwards from the three Rs.”  The curriculum of Coal Hill School in 1963 seemed like child’s play to her.  At the age of 10 she took a certificate of education in medicine,  physics and chemistry.  When asked by Barbara how long she spent in the classroom Vicki was totally perplexed.  She’d spent almost an hour a week with a machine.  Life in 2493 must have been a child’s dream existence!

A rare photo of  Maureen O'Brien as Vicki in colour

A rare photo of Maureen O’Brien as Vicki in colour

Vicki was a member of the Tardis Crew  in episodes which screened from 2 January 1965 until 6th November 1965.  In just under 12 months Vicki had gone from an orphaned girl stranded on the planet Dido to the love interest of Troilus, son of the King of Troy. During that time, however, there was little in the way of character development. Save for when we met Vicki in The Rescue and she was clearly suffering from the effects of Bennett/Koquillion’s abuse, she remains a vibrant and forthright young woman throughout. As I have previously lamented, it was a shame that the opportunity wasn’t taken to examine the long term effects of this abuse on Vicki, however my concern for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder plainly comes from a 21st century perspective.

Koquillion and Vicki

Koquillion and Vicki

This absence of character evolution says much about the 1960’s perception of women, particularly young ones.  In the 1960s the median age of first marriage for women was around 20 years of age.  Career opportunities  were limited and pay was not equal.  Although unable to locate figures for the United Kingdom, Australia as a Commonwealth country would have been reasonably similar. Until 1966 the Australian Public Service required single women  to resign from their positions on the eve of their marriage. Equal pay was not granted until 1972. Is it any surprise, therefore, that women were portrayed as either children or mothers?  With women having perhaps only five years between leaving school and marriage, this period between childhood and motherhood was marginalized and frequently forgotten.

Maureen O'Brien

Maureen O’Brien

When we first meet Vicki she is in a stereotypical role as carer for Bennett.  As Bennett is supposedly crippled and unable to work, Vicki is compelled to undertake all the chores including collecting water, cooking and cleaning.  She isn’t seen to complain about this notwithstanding the absence of any thanks from Bennett.   Once a member of the Tardis Crew, Vicki  is somewhat of a companion for the Doctor – a faux grand-daughter, if you like.   The Doctor has someone to fuss around, care about and instruct.  She provides him with moral support  and most probably a sense of identity.  She is close by his side in The Romans and The Crusade and does not distance herself in any great manner until The Space Museum, where she becomes involved with the young Xeron rebels and seems to start a revolution for fun.  A potential love interest comes to nothing. Although coupled with Steven for much of The Time Meddler, Vicki is back at the Doctor’s side during Galaxy 4.  In her final serial, The Myth Makers, Vicki  is again separated from the Doctor but only because he’s compelled her to remain in the Tardis because of a sprained ankle.  As was the case with both Susan and Barbara, female companions in Doctor Who are overly susceptible to wrenching their ankles.  They require time to recuperate from such injuries, unlike Ian who was frequently knocked unconscious and seemed able to get up, and shake it off, each time.

Vicki, Steven and the Doctor in The Time Meddler

Vicki, Steven and the Doctor in The Time Meddler

Quite phenomenally Vicki is capable of falling in love with Troilus in less than 24 hours, most of which time she was a prisoner in a dungeon.  This love affair was even quicker than Susan and David’s in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Having pleaded with the Doctor in The Crusade not to leave her as the Tardis was her only home, Vicki was extraordinarily quick to leave its confines in The Myth Makers. The television audience is not even privy to Vicki’s farewells to the Doctor as they take place out of camera shot inside the Tardis. The Doctor, nonetheless, appears satisfied with her explanation which seems to have been that she didn’t want Troilus to think she had betrayed him.

Vicki with the Doctor in The Crusade

Vicki with the Doctor in The Crusade

Although spending one’s life travelling in a blue wooden box through time and space may appear somewhat aimless, it’s certainly more secure than with a bloke you’ve only known for a day; in a time several thousand years before your own; and in a land where your love’s home City has been destroyed.  Ever quick to point out logical flaws in a witty manner, Wood and Miles in About Time 1 couldn’t help but extrapolate on a grave problem that Vicki and Troilus would be confronted by.  As the Tardis translates languages for the benefit of the Crew and persons they meet along the way, once it had left then the two lovers would be unable to communicate with each other.  Unless, of course, Vicki had learnt Ancient Greek, the language that Homer attributes to the Trojans in Iliad, in school!

Vicki - I hope that tasted nice!

Vicki – I hope that tasted nice!

Aside from the characterization failures in Doctor Who, the reality of Maureen O’Brien’s hasty exit from the role of Vicki appears to lay in programme’s change of producer.  According to Howe, Walker and Stammers in The Handbook, O’Brien had been cast by Verity Truman having been suggested by one of her former drama teachers who then was in the employ of the BBC. The new producer, John Wiles, replaced Truman beginning with the production of The Myth Makers, although he had shadowed Truman during the making of Galaxy 4. Wood and Miles argue that “Wiles had noticed her tendency to pick holes in the dialogue during rehearsals for Galaxy Four, and made arrangements to have her removed while the cast were on holiday”.  It was on her return from a week’s break given to the regular cast whilst Mission to the Unknown was filmed  that O’Brien heard of her dismissal. Although the new character of Katarina was going to replace Vicki it soon became evident to Wiles and story editor, Donald Tosh, that Katarina’s Trojan naivety would make her an unsuitable companion.  It’s for that reason that Katarina was just as hastily written out of Doctor Who in the fourth episode of The Daleks’ Master Plan.

A recent photo of Maureen O'Brien

A recent photo of Maureen O’Brien

So ends the less than a year long tenure of Maureen O’Brien as Vicki.  This was but the beginning of a revolving door of companions which would grace the screens of Doctor Who over the next several years.

Vicki as we first meet her

Vicki as we first meet her

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

 

References

David J Howe, Stephen James Walker & Mark Stammers, The Handbook. The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to the Production of Doctor Who. Telos Publishing Ltd, Surrey, 2005.

Tat Wood & Lawrence Miles, About Time 1. The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who. 1963-1966 Seasons 1 to 3. Mad Norweigan Press, Illinois, 2009.

The Time Meddler

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First encountered carrying a stuffed Panda called Hi Fi on the planet Mechanus, Steven Taylor  was presumed dead.  After assisting the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki to escape the Mechanoid City in The Chase, Steven had returned to the City to retrieve Hi Fi just as the Daleks destroyed it. It was great dismay, therefore, that the Doctor and Vicki were confronted by Steven as he stumbled into the Tardis control room before collapsing to the floor. The Tardis had just materialized in 11th Century England however Steven had stowed away in the ship, presumably whilst Vicki and the Doctor were saying their goodbyes to Ian and Barbara on Mechanus.  Suffering ill effects from the Dalek blast, Steven assumed that he must have been delirious when he chased after the crew and eventually found the ship.

Vicki, Steven and the stuffed panda, Hi Fi

Vicki, Steven and the stuffed panda, Hi Fi

The spaceship pilot who had spent two years as a prisoner of the Mechanoids was now the Doctor’s latest companion.  Notwithstanding his experience with space craft, Steven has clearly not seen a machine as magical as the Tardis before.  He doesn’t believe it is a time-machine or that they’ve landed in the 11th Century.  The Tardis’s inability to blend into its surroundings, as it was constructed to do, together with the discovery of a modern wrist watch, compounds Steven’s disbelief.  Prone to speak his mind, Steven is openly dismissive of Vicki’s assertions about the ship’s capabilities and earns a quick rebuke from the Doctor for calling him “Doc”.  Quickly recovering from  a state of deep sleep or unconsciousness, Steven shows no ill effects from his previous deprivations on the planet Mechanus.  It would not be unfair to assume that a person who had gone two years without human companionship, and has an overt attachment to a stuffed toy, may be suffering some form of psychological distress. Not unlike Vicki, who rapidly regained equilibrium following her trauma on the planet Dido, Steven is promptly able to put the past behind him, leave the panda on a chair, and embrace a new life of adventure with the Doctor.

The Doctor, Steven and the  Viking helmet which isn't a "space helmet for a cow"

The Doctor, Steven and the Viking helmet which isn’t a “space helmet for a cow”

The Time Meddler affords the Doctor opportunities aplenty for rollicking laughs and gratuitous violence.  Upon alighting from the Tardis the Doctor examines a metal helmet with horns.  Steven is less than confident with the Doctor’s assertion that he’s found a Viking helmet.  Flabbergasted by his new companion’s response of “maybe” the Doctor replies, “What do you think it is?  A space helmet for a cow?” Although absent from episode two (William Hartnell was on holidays) the Doctor is nonetheless seen to douse the monk with a pale of water from inside his cell.  Episode three sees him poke a stick into the Monk’s back and pretend it’s a Winchester ’73.  He also knocks out a Viking by hiding behind a cell door and jumping out at him.

The Doctor gets an upper hand with the monk

The Doctor gets an upper hand with the monk

The Time Meddler is a delightful blend of historical drama and science fiction.  Hitherto, the historical dramas had been played strictly straight, even if historical accuracy was at times debateable. The Tardis crew’s arrival in the Tardis was the story’s only concession to the sci fi genre.  The Time Meddler broke this mould by the insertion of another time traveller into the mix.  The monk is from the Doctor’s own planet, although around 50 years after the Doctor. For the first time in Doctor Who we meet another Gallifreyan, although a name is not given to the Doctor’s planet, or his race, until the tenure of the Second Doctor.  The monk’s Tardis is in the form of a sarcophagus which the Doctor disparages by claiming it is only sheer luck that the Type 4 machine fits so well into its surroundings. Almost 50 years after the monk’s quip that he couldn’t repair the camouflage unit, or chameleon circuit as it was later to become known,  the Doctor’s Tardis still remains in its police box form.  The monk’s Tardis is so advanced that it has automatic drift control which permits it to be suspended in space with absolute safety.  The Doctor’s banter with the monk about their time machine’s respective features is not unlike a couple of rev heads discussing the relative merits of their cars!

The Vikings discuss their plans

The Vikings discuss their plans

Although the Doctor, and Vicki, maintain that history must never be changed, it’s clear from The Time Meddler  that it is nonetheless possible to do. Whilst discussing the consequences of changing history, Vicki advises Steven that a person’s memories would alter the moment  time has been rearranged and that history books, which had not yet been written, would be rewritten to reflect the changed history. Why you would need to rewrite a book that had never been written in the first place is a small example of flawed  logic. The monk’s diary reveals that  he met with Leonardo Da Vinci and discussed the principles of powered flight. He had also deposited two hundred pounds in a London bank in 1968, nipped forward two hundred years and collected a fortune in compound interest.  Clearly the monk had never thought of popping forward to find the winning lotto numbers and back again in time to put his numbers in!  He alludes to having provided the Britons with an anti-gravitational lift which allowed them to build Stonehenge. The monk’s audacious plan was to rewrite the course of English history by thwarting the Viking invasion.  The Doctor is outraged at the monk’s “disgusting exhibition” of a plan and is determined to thwart it. Circumvent it he certainly does, by tying a piece of string around the dimensional control in the monk’s control panel, and once out of his Tardis, gently removing it.  The monk’s Tardis then shrinks to a minute size, ruining it completely and preventing him access to it.  The monk is stranded indefinitely in 1066.

The monk on the watch out for Vikings

The monk on the watch out for Vikings

A rollicking good tale, The Time Meddler  was the blue print for future quasi historical adventures .  The monk would soon meet the Tardis Crew again in the 12 part serial, The Daleks’ Master Plan.  Unfortunately that was his last televised adventure.

The "Time Meddler" was originally broadcast in the UK between 3rd July and 24th July 1965

The “Time Meddler” was originally broadcast in the UK between 3rd July and 24th July 1965

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Chase

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Less than 18 months after their creation, the Daleks made their third appearance as the Doctor’s arch enemies in the six part serial, The Chase.  Almost universally panned in fan circles as the worst Dalek story ever, The Chase is not entirely without merit. It is in this story that Ian and Barbara leave the Tardis for the last time and return to 1965 London.  Their arrival home in the Daleks’  time travelling ship is one of the most iconic and best remembered segments in Who’s history.  The still photography of the teachers playfully posing against a variety of London landmarks joyfully demonstrates their relief to finally return to what passes as normality.  How did they explain away their two year absence from Coal Hill School?  That’s a mystery that remains unanswered.

Ian and Barbara enjoy London as they pose in front of a real Police Box.  Yes, they really did exist!

Ian and Barbara enjoy London as they pose in front of a real Police Box. Yes, they really did exist!

Prior to their tear jerking departure from the Doctor and Vicki, Ian and Barbara were as close to home as 1966 New York.  It was on the Empire State Building, in episode three, that the viewer meets the character of Morton Dill, played by Peter Purves.  The viewers and the production team alike were unaware that Purves would  reappear in episode six of that same serial as a stranded spaceship pilot on the planet Mechanus, named Steven Taylor.  Evidencing the almost complete absence of forward planning in the Doctor Who camp, the decision to appoint a replacement for Ian and Barbara was not made until Purves  impressed all concerned during his role as a naive tourist from Alabama.  In a period of less than three weeks Purves went from a bit-part extra to a companion-in-waiting. It would not be until the next serial, The Time Meddler, that the character of Steven Taylor  would be officially invested into the Tardis Crew.  Purves was the first person to have appeared as two separate characters in the same Who serial.

Morton Dill, the dim witted hick from Alabama, investigates a Dalek on the Empire State Building

Morton Dill, the dim witted hick from Alabama, investigates a Dalek on the Empire State Building

My 12 year old son considers Peter Purves to be the Doctor’s best companion solely based upon his portrayal of Morton Dill.  And he wasn’t even a companion then! My son loves the Alabama imbecile and finds it hard to contain his laughter as he watches Dill’s onscreen antics.  Purves’  attempt at an American accent was at least consistent in that episode, unlike the season three story, The Gunfighters, where he occasionally forgets that he’s meant to be from the USA. Moreover, we don’t have to listen to him sing in The Chase!

A Mechanoid.  The "next big thing" that wasn't!

A Mechanoid. The “next big thing” that wasn’t!

Not surprisingly, The Chase witnesses a number of firsts. There’s the first, and regrettably only, appearance of yet another “next big thing”, the Mechanoids.  Their unwieldy size, slowness and limited movement undoubtedly had much to do with this.  It was not for want of trying that it took almost another 18 months for Doctor Who to eventually invent a genuine contender to the Dalek popularity stakes, the Cybermen.  Another first and last was the Time-and-Space Visualiser, a large disc with television monitor which was taken as a souvenir from the planet Xeros’ Space Museum.  Seemingly programmed by punch cards, the Visualiser enabled the Tardis occupants to view any event in history’s past.  To demonstrate the machine’s awesome powers the crew were treated to clips from Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”, William Shakespeare conversing with Queen Elizabeth 1, and most prestigiously for Doctor Who, the Beatles performing in 1965. The Beatles clip was no mere piece of stock footage from the BBC Archives, but a song filmed specifically for Who and also shown on Top of the Pops. The Chase is the first to feature an evil android Doctor.  The serial also sees debut of the redesigned Daleks, who at last have their  own time machine.

The Time-and-Space Visualiser showing Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address"

The Time-and-Space Visualiser showing Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”

The Daleks produce an evil android Doctor

The Daleks produce an evil android Doctor

Why is it that The Chase is held in such low regard? The answer would undoubtedly vary from person to person, although the hybrid nature of the story must be a likely cause. There are so many elements thrown in together, with no satisfactory explanation why. The only plot involves the Daleks chasing the Doctor and his crew to various locations throughout the universe.  The Doctor is the Daleks ultimate enemy as he thwarted their attempts to commandeer the Earth as a spaceship in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.  At least in The Keys of Marinus the crew were endeavouring to retrieve the lost keys to the Conscience of Marinus, and their adventures encompassed a series of locations and terrains on only one planet.  During the course of The Chase the Doctor and his companions are variously in a Haunted House;  the Mary Celeste; New York City; and the planets Aridius and Mechanus.

Daleks on the Mary Celeste

Daleks on the Mary Celeste

Bizarre is a less than adequate word to describe the Tardis Crew’s adventures in the Haunted House in which with a robotic Count Dracula, Frankenstein and Grey Lady reside.  One is left wondering why, and whatever was Terry Nation thinking at the time. Nation would also have us believe that Daleks were the cause of the mysterious disappearance of the crew of the British-American merchant ship, the Mary Celeste, in 1872. The Daleks also had a keen interest in New York’s Empire State Building.  Had the Twin Towers been built in 1965 then I’m sure Nation would have positioned them there instead. It almost seems as though Nation was giddy on the success of the Daleks and had assumed that viewers were gullible enough to accept anything thrown at them.  Clearly the BBC production team agreed, at least at the time.

Frankenstein puts an end to a pesky Dalek

Frankenstein puts an end to a pesky Dalek

In retrospect, however, such criticism fails to acknowledge the sheer fun of the story.  And it’s probably the gaiety of this serial which is the principal reason why The Chase is held in such high disregard.  Daleks are meant to be menacing and intimidating. Throw in a mix of comedy interludes  and the foreboding in which they are ordinarily met quickly evaporates.  Viewers have no need for bothersome distractions of a witty nature. They just want to be terrified, even if by mid 1965 it was plainly obvious that the Doctor and his companions always triumph.  The Daleks’ next appearance, in six months time, did not suffer from a similar fate.  The highly regarded 12 parter, The Daleks’ Master Plan, gave the audience three solid months of terror and the first time, the death of not only one, but two companions.  Hereafter the security of the Tardis Crew could never again be assured.

Dracula and Doctor Who just don't mix

Dracula and Doctor Who just don’t mix

The Chase was originally broadcast in the UK between 22 May and 26 June 1965

The Chase was originally broadcast in the UK between 22 May and 26 June 1965

The Chase was released in a Box Set with The Space Museum entitled (You guessed it!) "The Space Museum The Chase".

The Chase was released in a Box Set with The Space Museum entitled (you guessed it!) “The Space Museum The Chase”.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Space Museum

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You can always be assured that Rob Shearman will give a hearty defence of any long derided Doctor Who serial.  Writer of the Series One episode, Dalek, and several Big Finish audio productions, Shearman joined with Toby Hadoke, of Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf fame, to author Running Through Corridors: Rob and Toby’s Marathon Watch of Doctor Who.  Shearman’s affection for The Space Museum is  laid bare in the DVD special feature, Defending the Museum.  His devotion rests on the assumption that The Space Museum is a parody of William Hartnell era Doctor Who episodes. The aggressors, the Moroks, are little more than morons who invade a planet only to turn it into a museum for their past achievements. The rebels are excruciatingly bad.  Dressed in black polo neck jumpers, they look like students in a coffee bar.  Vicki starts a revolution only because she’s bored and the native Xerons don’t need a great revolutionary, just a locksmith!

Writer Rob Shearman

Writer Rob Shearman

Shearman is quick to praise episode one of The Space Museum, which he considers quite extraordinary. The story, he argues, is about inaction and how an event can be prevented once you know it’s going to happen. If this was in a theological context the argument would be about predestination and Calvinist theories of same.  In the world of Doctor Who, however, does doing something really matter?  In The Space Museum’s case it certainly does.  Although all the motions of the Tardis Crew lead them into the very same situation, their actions have a positive effect on third parties.  It is precisely because of other people’s deeds that history, for want of a better word, is changed and the Doctor and his companions are saved.

The Tardis Crew as museum exhibits

The Tardis Crew as museum exhibits

Although Shearman’s analysis is a worthy summation of the serial’s message, The Space Museum suffers from internal contradictions which counter this.  In episode four Barbara laments that the crew have been on four separate journeys involving  four discrete courses, yet they all lead to this one point.  The Doctor explains that their actions may have influenced others, to which Ian responds by concluding that it can be others that change the future for them.  Vicki quips in with the example of a revolution.  What none of the Tardis Crew seem to realize, however, is that they’ve actually changed history themselves.   The Doctor made much of the loss of one of Ian’s buttons earlier in the serial and chided him for not having noticed whether the frozen Ian in the display cabinet  had a lost button or not. The Doctor and his companions, after all, were all wearing the same clothes.  What no one twigged to, regrettably, was that once Barbara’s cardigan had been unravelled then she was no longer identical to the cardiganed Barbara in the display case.  A bite of Barbara’s cardigan by a clueless Ian, and Barbara’s homely skills in teaching Ian how to retrieve wool from a knitted garment, was all that was required to save them. Heck, who needs a revolution with an arsenal of firearms when a knitted one will do!

Ian attempts to eat Barbara's cardigan

Ian attempts to eat Barbara’s cardigan

The Space Museum is resplendent with comic interludes, the Doctor being given the majority of them.  Eccentric as always, the Doctor frequently giggles at the cleverness of his own actions.  After tying up a young Xeron rebel without the victim even seeing him, the Doctor hides in the casing of a Dalek exhibit.  Popping his head out of the top of the Dalek is a classic moment.  When hooked to the Moroks’ thought machine he is able to outwit the truth analyser which reflects thoughts onto a television screen.  When asked how he arrived on Xeron, a picture of a penny farthing is flashed onto the screen.  A pod of seals is seen when the Doctor is asked where he comes from.  The Doctor naturally cackles with glee.

The Doctor hides inside the casing of a Dalek exhibit

The Doctor hides inside the casing of a Dalek exhibit

Ian is portrayed in a menacing and quite violent light in this serial.  Although cheerfully playing a game of “Cowboys and Indians” after removing a ray gun from its exhibition case, Ian is soon brandishing the weapon like a true warrior.  Threatening the aggressors with a gun comes easily to Ian, who astounds the viewers with his matter of fact acceptance of violence near the close of the third episode.  Pointing the ray gun at the Morok leader, Ian is told by the threatened Lobos that he’d be a fool to kill him.  “You will achieve nothing”, says Lobos.  Ian’s reply is chilling – “Possibly, but it might be enjoyable”. Ian’s colleagues at Coal Hill School would scarcely recognize him.

Morok Leader Lobos.  The Moroks' hairstyles are as unappealing as the Xerons' eyebrows

Morok Leader Lobos. The Moroks’ hairstyles are as unappealing as the Xerons’ eyebrows

Vicki is able to distance herself from the Doctor in this serial and spends much of the time in the presence of the young rebel Xerons.   She has a rudimentary knowledge of the Daleks from 25th Century history books although she is surprised at how unintimidating they appear. Vicki has a sound understanding of time dimension theory and is able to re-programme a less than intelligent computer to accept truthful, but otherwise incorrect, answers.  As previously mentioned, her crowning glory in the serial is convincing the laid back rebels that revolution is not only a good, but also an achievable, objective. Unfortunately everything concerning the revolution is too easy and entirely implausible, with young Vicki making it appear like a fun afternoon distraction.

Vicki tricks a less than intelligent computer

Vicki tricks a less than intelligent computer

Romance appears imminent at the story’s end as Vicki bids a fond farewell to the rebel, Tor.  Holding both of his hands on their goodbyes, it appears for a moment that Vicki may have to choose between love and the Doctor.  Alas, another quick marriage proposal is not made and Vicki remains with the Tardis Crew – at least for the moment.

Those bizarre Xeron extra eyebrows.  Is it little wonder that Vicki didn't stay?

Those bizarre Xeron extra eyebrows. Is it little wonder that Vicki didn’t stay?

Barbara’s role in The Space Museum  is somewhat less forthright than usual, although she does display her characteristic homely skills in clothing (de)construction. The costume department failed her miserably and she is dressed in the most matronly garb yet seen. That the show was filmed almost live is evident from Barbara’s half slip being in view for the best part of an episode.

The Tardis Crew examine the Dalek exhibit.  Barbara lucked out in the costume department

The Tardis Crew examine the Dalek exhibit. Barbara lucked out in the costume department

The serial ends with the revelation that the whole “time dimension” problem was caused by a stuck component in the Tardis.  If this sounds familiar, well it is.   The bizarre events of The Edge of Destruction were prompted by the same type of technical malfunction.  As Tat Wood and Lawrence Miles state in About Time 1, the Doctor has clearly yet to discover WD40!

The special features on The Space Museum DVD are well worth viewing.  Together with Rob Shearman’s defence, there’s also a delightful short piece,  My Grandfather, the Doctor, in which Jessica Carney speaks about the career of her grandfather, William Hartnell.  Comedian Christopher Green’s spoof, A Holiday for the Doctor, in which he stars as actress Ida Barr, is not to be missed.

Christopher Greene as "Ida Barr"

Christopher Greene as “Ida Barr”

"The Space Museum" was originally broadcast in the UK between 24th April and 15th May 1965

“The Space Museum” was originally broadcast in the UK between 24th April and 15th May 1965

The Space Museum was released in a Box Set with The Chase entitled (you guessed it!) "The Space Museum The Chase".

The Space Museum was released in a Box Set with The Chase entitled (you guessed it!) “The Space Museum The Chase”.

 

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

Reference

Tat Wood & Lawrence Miles, “About Time. The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who. 1963-1966 Seasons 1 to 3″. Mad Norweigan Press, Illinois, 2009.

The Crusade

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

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

Ian is knocked out, again

Ian is knocked out, again

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

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

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

The Aztecs

“The Aztecs”

The Reign of Terror

“The Reign of Terror”
The Gunfighters

“The Gunfighters”

And The Highlanders

and “The Highlanders”

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

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

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

Jaffa has now merged with Tel Aviv

Jaffa has now merged with Tel Aviv

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

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

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

Loose Cannon, The Crusade, Episode 2 Part 1

Loose Cannon, The Crusade, Episode 2 Part 2

Loose Cannon, The Crusade, Episode 4 Part 1

Loose Cannon, The Crusade, Episode 4 Part 2

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

The Doctor and Vicki

The Doctor and Vicki

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

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

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

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

Barbara in the harem

Barbara in the harem

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

William Russell, The Crusade, Introduction.

William Russell, The Crusade, plot summary of Episode 2

William Russell, The Crusade, plot summary of Episode 4

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

Sir Ian of Jaffa is knighted by Richard the Lionheart

Sir Ian of Jaffa is knighted by Richard the Lionheart

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

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

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Web Planet

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

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

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

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.