Tag Archives: Cold War

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.

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The Ice Warriors

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Whether there’s a relationship between the resurrection of seemingly deceased Doctor Who monsters and the sale of Classic Series DVDs is an issue worth pondering. Released in late August in the UK and Australasia, and mid September in the US, The Ice Warriors DVD emerged four months after an Ice Warrior appeared in the Mark Gatiss penned Cold War after a 39 year absence from Doctor Who.  Prior to the episode’s broadcast Steven Moffat stated that a lot of persuasion was needed to convince him that the Ice Warriors should return.

Grand Marshall Skaldak, a 2013 model Ice Warrior

Grand Marshall Skaldak, a 2013 model Ice Warrior

“It was Mark Gatiss’s idea and it was very much his pitch – he’d been pitching the Ice Warriors for a while.  I wasn’t tremendously persuaded.  I’ll be honest.  I thought they were maybe the default condition for what people thought of as rubbish Doctor Who  monsters – things that moved very, very slowly and spoke in a way that meant you couldn’t hear a word they said.  Mark came up with a couple of very clever ideas, which he pitched to me over the phone in what was meant to be a Sherlock  conversation.  He had a couple of really stormingly good ideas, and it’s a great episode, an absolute cracker of an episode”.

One is left wondering if perhaps Moffat failed to mention that the marketing department of the BBC was instrumental in the decision to have the Ice Warriors return.

Trailer for the return of the Ice Warriors in 2013’s Cold War. 

Are the Ice Warriors the default “rubbish” monsters that Moffat suggests? They were certainly slow and unfortunately restricted by their large fin like feet.  In the special feature, Cold Fusion, actor Sonny Caldinez tells several amusing anecdotes about his time as an Ice Warrior and particularly the filming of The Ice Warriors. He had such difficulty chasing Deborah Watling through the ice caves because of his costume’s feet that they had to slow down Watling’s running speed. That the design of the Ice Warrior in Cold War very faithfully reproduced the 1967 model says much for the integrity of the Mark 1 models.

Victoria chased by Turoc (Sonny Caldinez)

Victoria chased by Turoc (Sonny Caldinez)

One of the “stormingly good ideas” that Gatiss had about the 2013 Ice Warriors was undoubtedly Grand Marshall Skaldak emerging from his armour for the first time. Strangely, the slightly jerky head movements of the original Ice Warriors, a little akin to a person with mild Parkinson’s Disease, is absent from the current model Warriors. Similarly, Nicholas Briggs toned down the hissing of Skaldak’s speech in Cold War.  There wasn’t anything much more shocking in The Ice Warriors then when Zondal says that Storr was “ussselesss and uneccesssssary” just before killing him.

The Scot Storr is killed by an Ice Warrior

The Scot Storr is killed by an Ice Warrior

Interestingly, the 50th Anniversary Special on 23 November features the Zygons in only their second appearance in Doctor Who.  Their first and only appearance was with the Fourth Doctor in the 1975 serial Terror of the Zygons, which incidentally will be released on DVD in Australia and New Zealand on 2 October 2013. Is this a coincidence?  Who knows.

The Zygons will be returning in the 50th Anniversary special in November

The Zygons will be returning in the 50th Anniversary special in November

With the Classic Series range of DVD releases quickly coming to an end I’m left wondering if Season 8 will see the return of The Underwater Menace’s Fish People. Rumour has it that the missing two episodes will be animated and the DVD released sometime in 2014.  I can only hope that all of Galaxy 4 is recovered so my long held wish for the return of the Chumblies might be granted!

As outlined in my review of the First Doctor’s adventure Planet of Giants, I’ve always had a soft spot for Doctor Who serials with an environmental message.  The Ice Warriors is such a story, albeit one where the science is decidedly fiction and not fact. The Doctor, Victoria and Jamie find themselves at Brittanicus Base, one of a number of such bases established to stem the tide of ice glaciers which have been steadily engulfing the earth’s surface.  The New Ice Age which the Earth is confronted by is said to have arisen because of deforestation and the consequential loss of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Even a person as ignorant as myself in things scientific is aware that deforestation (and the burning of fossil fuels) is the cause of global warming, not global cooling. During photosynthesis trees convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar molecules and oxygen.  Less trees equals more carbon dioxide. I wonder where the writer, Brian Hayles, received his scientific knowledge on this one?

Although the Doctor can operate an artificial food dispenser (with retro telephone dial) he is a little confused about the relationship between plants and carbon dioxide

Although the Doctor can operate an artificial food dispenser (with retro telephone dial) he is a little confused about the relationship between plants and carbon dioxide.  He is pictured here with Leader Clent.

The obstinate leader of Brittanicus Base, Clent, outlined to the Doctor and his companions how this catastrophic environmental disaster occurred.

“You know how efficient our civilisation is, thanks to the direction of the great World Computer.  As you also know how we conquered the problem of world famine a century ago by artificial food.  On the land that was once used to grow the food we needed, we built up to date living units, to house the ever-increasing population … So, the amount of growing plants on the planet, was reduced to an absolute minimum. Then suddenly, one year, there was no spring.  Even then it wasn’t understood.  Not until the ice-caps began to advance”.

During the course of the conversation the Doctor added the comment ,”No plants, no carbon dioxide.”  Is it any wonder that when the Doctor met with the Ice Warriors, Zondal stated “You do not look like a scientist”. “Looks aren’t everything, you know” replied the Doctor.

Together with Ice Warriors, glaziers threaten the earth

Together with Ice Warriors, glaziers threaten the earth

Although the consequences of deforestation is the exact opposite to what The Ice Warriors claims, i.e. global warming rather than global cooling, the essence of the message is not lost on the audience. Human manipulation of the environment, even if at the behest of a “great World Computer”, has horrendous consequences on the planet and its human occupants.  Population growth is also shown to have negative effects. During the 1960s there was much debate about population growth and artificial birth control. Little more than six months after the broadcast of The Ice Warriors  Pope Paul VI released his much discussed encyclical letter Humanae Vitae on human reproduction. In reaffirming the Catholic Church’s traditional teachings against contraception, Humanae Vitae contradicted a report of Paul’s own commission, two years previously, which had recommended limited contraceptive use for married couples.

Pope Paul VI

Pope Paul VI

The Ice Warriors shares the anti-computer rhetoric of The War Machines. Leader Clent and Senior Control Technician Miss Garrett have an unwavering confidence in the great World Computer’s ability to answer all questions logically and in society’s best interests. As would be expected in 1967, the computer is futuristic and answers questions verbally.  It’s very difficult to understand, particularly in episode one where the soundtrack is very muddy.  The disaffected scientist Penley  shares the Doctor’s distain for them.  “I refused to be sucked into that computerised ant-heap you call a civilisation. I’m a man, not a machine”, Penley says to Miss Gifford.  When speaking to the Doctor, Penley delivered a further sentence of superior anti-computer verbosity when he stated  “You don’t expect me to face Clent alone.  That mouth piece of the computer? He’s got a printed circuit where his heart should be”.  It’s all very beautifully written and elucidates the same fear of computerization that I outlined in my The War Machines review.

Clent and Miss Gifford with the futurist great World Computer. The Brittanicus Base crew had the most fabulous close fitting outfits

Clent and Miss Gifford with the futurist great World Computer. The Brittanicus Base crew had the most fabulous close fitting outfits

The computer is revered almost as God like in its decisions.  “Our trust is in the great computer.  With its aid, we cannot fail”, Gifford stated.  As the story proceeds, however, it is evident that this deification is undeserved.  When Clent reserves the right to consult the computer on whether they should use the ioniser when the alien spacecraft is powered by an iron reactor, the computer spins and gibbers.  Jamie cried, “It’s as though it’s gone mad”. The final decision is left to the human Penley, who not surprisingly chose the best option.

In a rather clever premonition of Little Britain’s Carol, Clent says “The computer says no!”. Little Britain – The Computer says no.

The Ice Warriors succeeds because of its superior cast, magnificent set design and absolutely fabulous outfits.  Peter Barkworth as Leader Clent is outstanding as he shuffles around the base with his walking stick.  Barkworth would later go on to win two BAFTA awards for best TV actor. Peter Sallis generously plays the scientist Penley and is perhaps most famous for his 37 years spent as  Last of the Summer Wine’s  Norman Clegg. Most surprising of all is Bernard Bresslaw as the Ice Warrior Varga.  Bresslaw  was a comedy actor best known for his roles in the Carry On movies.  At 6′ 7″ tall Bresslaw provided the towering height needed for the Ice Warriors and is credited for creating their movements and hissing speech.

Bernard Bresslaw played the head Ice Warrior, Varga

Bernard Bresslaw played the head Ice Warrior, Varga

The Ice Warriors was originally broadcast in the UK between 11 November and 16 December 1967

The Ice Warriors was originally broadcast in the UK between 11 November and 16 December 1967

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

REFERENCE:

Fraser McAlpine, “Steven Moffat On Zygons, Ice Warriors And A Trip Into The Tardis”, 21 February 2013, BBC Americahttp://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2013/02/steven-moffat-on-zygons-ice-warriors-and-trip-int-the-tardis/. Retrieved on 3 September 2013.

The Tenth Planet

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Known to most as the first Doctor Who regeneration and the premiere appearance of the Cybermen, it has been persuasively argued by Phil Sandifer in Tardis Eruditorum  that The Tenth Planet  represents neither.  Rather than signalling the First Doctor’s end, Sandifer states that it is rather the demise of the Doctor, per se.  Save for his appearance in The Three Doctors, William Hartnell never played the role of the First Doctor.  He was always merely “the Doctor” – the original, and some may say, the best.   Killed by the energy draining force of the planet Mondas, the Doctor collapses to the floor in his terrifying end. Not only is it the death of the Doctor, but also the death of Doctor Who.  Sandifer explains it thus:

The Tardis Crew are ready to brave the cold.  Polly chooses a highly impractical mini skirt

The Tardis Crew are ready to brave the cold. Polly chooses a highly impractical mini skirt

“And this is part of being a Doctor Who fan.  You are absolutely guaranteed to see the show die in front of you, and then get replaced with a strange, different show using the same name.  Eventually, everything that Doctor Who is comes to a crashing halt and something new happens instead”.

The Doctor dies

The Doctor dies

The sense of the television series named Doctor Who dying would have been very real to viewers on 29 October 1966. Doctor Who was William Hartnell and William Hartnell was the Doctor. There was no precedent for the change of the lead character in such a radical fashion.  Certainly the actor playing a role in a show, whether it be on television or stage, may have changed, but the character remained roughly similar in respect of personality type and more often than not, physical appearance. The most frequently cited similarity, that of the film version of Ian Fleming’s James Bond, was still being played by the first actor to do so, Sean Connery. It would not be until 1969 that George Lazenby would have his one and only outing as 007. Incidentally, it was that very same year that the American series Bewitched saw the character of Darrin Stephens played by a different actor, also with the unfortunate name of Dick. Dick Sargent replaced Dick York, but as in the case of James Bond, Darrin remained ostensibly the same character.

The face of a stranger replaces the familiar form of The Doctor

The face of a stranger replaces the familiar form of The Doctor

Doctor Who was different, however. This wasn’t the case of a quick change of lead actor, with the series continuing unchanged.  This was actually the death of the lead.  Although the new lead actor played the role of a character bearing the same name, the Doctor, his personality was remarkably different. There was very much a sense of re-birth and complete renewal.  This was particularly evident in The Tenth Planet’s setting.  This was the first “base under siege” story, a genre which would come to dominate Patrick Troughton’s tenure as the Doctor.  A “base under siege” involves circumstances where the Doctor and his companions find themselves caught in a confined space or remote geographic location and are confronted by monsters that threaten everyone’s lives, the “base’s” existence, or both.  The Series Seven story Cold War, in which the Doctor and Clara find themselves on a Soviet era submarine confronted by an Ice Warrior, is a classic example of the “base under siege” genre.

The Series 7 episode Cold War is a classic example of a "Base under Siege" story

The Series 7 episode Cold War is a classic example of a “Base under Siege” story

From its very opening sequence, where a rocket is launched, it is apparent that The Tenth Planet is a very different story. The Doctor and his companions are not seen until more than three and a half minutes after episode one’s commencement.  Prior to that an array of international characters, not seen before in Doctor Who, are shown. Staffing the South Pole base are Americans, Italians and British, and manning the space shuttle are an Australian and a West Indian (or a resident of another Caribbean country).  There’s a sense of confinement and it’s twenty years in the future – 1986. Once inside the base the Doctor is quick to be able identify a hitherto unknown planet hurtling towards the earth as Mondas, the Earth’s upside down twin.  For the first time the Doctor shows that he knows not only the past’s history, but also its future. Five minutes before the episode’s conclusion we catch our first glimpse of a Mark 1 Cyberman and it’s on its harrowing features that the episode ends on a classic cliff hanger.

The Doctor and his companions find themselves in a base under siege

The Doctor and his companions find themselves in a base under siege

These are not the metal villains that the Cybermen are later portrayed as, but rather a far more frightening creation.  A race of humanoids whose body parts have been replaced as they wear out, they still retain the vestiges of a human form.  Their hands are human  and ungloved, and their faces almost mummified in a cloth stocking.  Instead of moving their lips as they speak, their featureless mouths open and their sing-song voices spew forth.  There is no hint of the monotone voices of the later Cybermen, nor is there a predilection to shout one word threats such as “delete”.  The Cybermen in The Tenth Planet are almost gentlemanly in their manners and until the fourth episode not intent on causing havoc to the Earth.  Devoid of all emotions, they are entirely logical and see their transformation to Cybermen as a great advance.  They are free from illness, heat and cold and wish the humans to travel to their home planet, Mondas,  where “You will become like us”.  The Cybermen are concerned only for survival, and a race for survival it is as Mondas careers towards the Earth.  Only one planet can survive, but which will it be?

The Tenth Planet – A Cyberman extols the virtues of their form

Created by Kit Pedler, an unofficial scientific adviser to Doctor Who, the Cybermen arose from Pedler’s fear of humans being artificially transformed.  A medical scientist by profession, Pedler wrote The Tenth Planet  more than a year prior to the first heart transplant in December 1967.  As displayed in the clip above, the Cybermen have their hearts removed.  When Polly questions whether they have a heart at all, the response is entirely literal. That humans may one day become like the Cybermen was a genuine fear held by Pedler.

The Cybermen are at their frightening best as their humanoid antecedents are still evident

The Cybermen are at their frightening best as their humanoid antecedents are still evident

Cybermen through the ages

Cybermen through the ages

The selfish concern of American General Cutler for the well being of his astronaut son, Terry, is a particularly frightening aspect of The Tenth Planet. Cutler is prepared to detonate the Z Bomb and destroy Mondas merely to save his son’s life. Terry has been sent on a rescue mission by Geneva for the space shuttle which unbeknownst to the United Nations, has already disintegrated.  The deaths of all on Mondas, and the possibility of immense radioactive damage to Earth, is of absolutely no concern to Cutler.  The loud and bullying American makes the Cybermen and their quiet extolling of Mondas’  virtues  appear almost palatable.

The American, General Cutler

The American, General Cutler

Unfortunately illness caused William Hartnell to be absent for episode three.  A stand-in faked his collapse to the floor and for the whole of the episode the Doctor is confined, unconscious, to quarters.  Given his death in episode four, the Doctor’s absence in episode three  provided a sense of continuity to the serial’s conclusion.   Quite shocking and unexpected, the Doctor’s collapse upon his return to the Tardis otherwise bears very little reference to the rest of the story.  In retrospect fans have read the events of previous serials into the Doctor’s weakening, although given the nature of Hartnell’s departure it’s just as likely that these “signs” were unintentional.

Polly tries unsuccessfully to reason with a Cyberman.  The Doctor looks on

Polly tries unsuccessfully to reason with a Cyberman. The Doctor looks on

You may recall that the Doctor was subjected to the Daleks’ Time Destructor in episode 12 of The Daleks’ Master Plan.   Although Sarah Kingdom aged quickly and died, the effects on the Doctor were not so great.  He nonetheless suffered the Time Destructor’s effects to some degree, although these were reversed when Steven accidently discovered the means of reversing the Destructor.   In The Celestial Toymaker the Doctor was rendered incorporeal by the Toymaker and in The Gunfighters he had a tooth removed by Doc Holliday. Finally in The War Machines an unsuccessful attempt was made to hypnotise him.  Did these events precipitate the Doctor’s decline?  It’s a question that is unlikely to be answered, although Phil Sandifer, whom we opened with, is adamant that the cause is without doubt the energy draining forces of the planet Mondas.  When Polly asked the Doctor at the opening of episode four what had happened to him he responded by saying, “Oh, I’m not sure, my dear.  Comes from an outside influence.  Unless this old body of mine is wearing a bit thin”.  It’s usually only the latter part of this answer that is remembered, rather than the “outside influence”.

The planet Mondas is the Earth's twin

The planet Mondas is the Earth’s twin

I will really miss the irascible old Doctor as Who continues Season four with Patrick Troughton at the helm.  Join me for my next review as Doctor Who enters a new era with The Power of the Daleks.

The Doctor collapsed on the floor of the Tardis

The Doctor collapsed on the floor of the Tardis

The Tenth Planet was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 October and 29 October 1966.  The DVD of the three episodes held in the BBC Archives, together with an animation of missing episode four, is to released by the BBC in November 2013

The Tenth Planet was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 October and 29 October 1966. The DVD of the three episodes held in the BBC Archives, together with an animation of missing episode four, is to released by the BBC in November 2013

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

 

REFERENCE:

Phil Sandifer, Tardis Eruditorum Volume 1: William Hartnell. Self published, 2011.