Tag Archives: Reacting Vibrator

Day 36 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – The First Doctor’s Accessories

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Yesterday the Doctor Who Mind Robber looked at the Second Doctor’s peculiar penchant for hats.  Today we examine the First Doctor’s accessories.  By accessories we refer to anything worn or used by the Doctor to compliment his clothing or to assist in his business  as a time-travelling hero.  The First Doctor is perhaps best known for his blue signet ring, pictured above. Together with being decorative the ring also had special powers. Amongst other things it controlled a Zarbi and opened the main doors of the TARDIS in The Web Planet; unjammed the TARDIS’s locking mechanism in The Daleks’ Master Plan; and hypnotised Dodo in The War Machines. In the days prior to the sonic screwdriver, which was introduced in the Second Doctor’s tenure, the First Doctor’s signet ring worked magic.

1. An Unearthly Child

The First Doctor first appeared in eccentric garb with a cape, long scarf and fez type hat

The First Doctor first appeared in eccentric garb with a cape, long scarf and fez type hat

The Doctor's cape is seen more clearly here in the first episode of An Unearthly Child.  This scene has been recreated for An Adventure in Space and Time

The Doctor’s cape is seen more clearly here in the first episode of An Unearthly Child. This scene has been recreated for An Adventure in Space and Time

The recreated scene in An Adventure in Space and Time

The recreated scene in An Adventure in Space and Time

For the first and only time  the Doctor is seen to smoke in An Unearthly Child.  Patrick Troughton was seen smoking a cigar in The Enemy of the World but was playing the Doctor's evil double, Salamadar, at the time.

For the first and only time in Doctor Who’s history that the Doctor is seen to smoke is in An Unearthly Child. Patrick Troughton was seen smoking a cigar in The Enemy of the World but was playing the Doctor’s evil double, Salamader, at the time.

2. The Edge of Destruction

In The Edge of Destruction the Doctor wore a bandage which changed colour as the wound healed

In The Edge of Destruction the Doctor wore a bandage which changed colour as the wound healed

3. The Aztecs

The Doctor carried a cane on many occasions.  He is pictured here with his love interest from The Aztecs, Cameca

The Doctor carried a cane on many occasions. He is pictured here with his love interest from The Aztecs, Cameca

4. The Reign of Terror

In The Reign of Terror the Doctor masqueraded as District Commissioner, resplendent in a large and colourful feathered hat

In The Reign of Terror the Doctor masqueraded as District Commissioner, resplendent in a large and colourful feathered hat

5. Planet of Giants

The Doctor wore a decorative gold chain with his cape in Planet of Giants

The Doctor wore a decorative gold chain with his cape in Planet of Giants

6. The Romans

The Doctor carried, and pretended to play a lyre as he masqueraded as Maximus Pettulian

The Doctor carried and pretended to play a lyre as he masqueraded as Maximus Pettulian in The Romans

7. The Web Planet

The Zarbi used these unusual collars to control the Doctor and Vicki in The Web Planet

The Zarbi used these unusual collars to control the Doctor and Vicki in The Web Planet. The Doctor later referred to them as necklaces

8. The Space Museum

In The Space Museum the Doctor used the top opening of a Dalek casing almost like a hat

In The Space Museum the Doctor used the top opening of a Dalek casing almost like a hat

9. The Time Meddler

The Doctor tells Vicki and Steven that the item he is holding is not a "space helmet for a cow" in The Time Meddler

The Doctor tells Vicki and Steven that the item he is holding is not a “space helmet for a cow” in The Time Meddler

10. The Daleks’ Master Plan

The Doctor wore a stylish panama hat in The Daleks' Master Plan

The Doctor wore a stylish panama hat in The Daleks’ Master Plan

A side view of the hat as the Doctor chats with Steven and the short lived companion Sara Kingdom

A side view of the hat as the Doctor chats with Steven and the short lived companion Sara Kingdom

11. The Massacre

In The Massacre the Doctor wore a tall hat, not altogether dissimilar to that which the Second Doctor would become known for

In The Massacre the Doctor wore a tall hat, not altogether dissimilar to that which the Second Doctor would become known for.  The Doctor is also seen to wear a decorative gold chain on his cape and a cane

12. The Gunfighters

The Doctor wore a western style black hat in The Gunfighters

The Doctor wore a western style black hat in The Gunfighters

13. The Savages

The Doctor carried a Reacting Vibrator in The Savages

The Doctor carried a Reacting Vibrator in The Savages

14. The War Machines

The Doctor wore a black fez in The War Machines

The Doctor wore a black fez in The War Machines

Vivien Fleming

The Savages

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The Savages - Book

Watching The Savages was somewhat of a rare treat.  Not only was it a serial that I’d never before watched, but also one that I’d neither read nor heard spoken about.  I entered its viewing, therefore, with no preconceptions and an entirely open mind.  I’m very pleased that I did because I was thoroughly taken by this 1960’s tale of morality.  I enjoy looking for the political in serials, even if a message was not intentionally left.  The Savages, however, proudly flaunts its political design.  Whether it was intended to be a tale against South Africa’s apartheid regime, the association of eugenics with Nazi Germany, or a cutting condemnation of the British Class system, it matters not.  What is important in my mind is that The Savages is as equally as relevant today as it was in 1966.

The "Savage" inhabitants of the planet.  They are humans, just like the Elders, whoever they are considered barbarians

The “Savage” inhabitants of the planet. They are humans, just like the Elders, however they are considered barbarians by the Elders

The Doctor and his companions find themselves on an unnamed planet amongst a civilization which the Doctor considers highly advanced. Although the landscape is somewhat arid and populated by people leading an almost caveman like existence (the Savages), there is built on the planet a sparkling city.  Freedom is afforded to the city’s occupants sufficient to allow them as much leisure time as they so desire.  Their wants are always met, however they are unable to exit the city to the real world.  The city is entirely enclosed with no access to natural air, light, sun, rain or wind, however the occupants don’t consider themselves to suffer materially or physically as a consequence.  The occupants of both the city (the Elders) and the outside world (the Savages) are human and save for the vast differences in their qualities of life, are nonetheless identical physically and psychologically.

 Steven and Dodo are confronted by a Savage.  They run to the Tardis for cover


Steven and Dodo are confronted by a Savage. They run to the Tardis for cover

The Elders consider themselves superior in all ways to the Savages, who are treated as barbarians.  The Elders welcome the Doctor’s arrival and claim that they have been tracking the course of his spaceship for many eons. His arrival is considered a time of momentous historical importance. The Doctor is treated as a folk hero and a man of very high regard,  and is afforded the honorary office of High Elder. The Council of Elders, however, is nonetheless surprised that the Doctor is travelling with companions.  Dodo and Steven are welcomed and given gifts of a mirror inlaid with precious gemstones (for Dodo) and an ornamental dagger (for Steven).  The mirror plays an important role in the story at a later stage.

The Doctor and Jago, the Elder's leader

The Doctor and Jago, the Elder’s leader

The Elders are proud of their intellectual and scientific progress and extol its virtues to the Doctor.  Jano’s discussion of race perfection is chillingly reminiscent of eugenics:

“Doctor, do you realise that with our knowledge, we can make the brave man braver, the wise man wiser, the strong man stronger.  We can make the beautiful girl more beautiful still.  You will see the advantages of that in the perfection of our race”.

Nanina is a Savage whose life force the Elders use to make their own people more beautiful

Nanina is a Savage whose life force the Elders use to make their own people more beautiful

Whilst initially impressed by the Elders’ “vast scientific research” and their race of “great intelligence”, the Doctor soon became suspicious and had an uncomfortable feeling about this  place which otherwise evidenced a greatly advanced society.  On coming upon one of the Savages in the Elders’ facility the Doctor was quickly cognisant of what was occurring.  The Elders had “discovered a way of extracting life’s force from human beings, and absorbing it into themselves, leaving the victim, as you see, almost dead”.

The Elders escorting Nanina from their laboratory following a transference

The Elders escorting Nanina from their laboratory following a transference

Once aware of the horrors that were perpetrated against the Savages, the Doctor was quick to condemn the travesty.  In doing so, however, he found himself an unwilling participant in the Elders’ immoral “medical” procedure.  The Doctor’s powerful conversation with the Elder leader, Jano, is worthy of quoting verbatim.

JANO:  We do not understand you, Doctor. You have accepted our honours gladly, how can you condemn this great artistic and scientific civilisation because of a few wretched barbarians?

DOCTOR: So your rewards are only for the people that agree with you ?

JANO: No. No, of course not.  But if you are going to oppose us.

DOCTOR: Oppose you? Indeed I am going to oppose you, just in the same way that I oppose the Daleks or any other menace to common humanity.

JANO: I am sorry you take this attitude, Doctor.  It is most unscientific.  You are standing in the way of human progress.

DOCTOR: Human progress, sir?  How dare you call your treatment of these people progress!

JANO: They are hardly people, Doctor.  They are not like us.

DOCTOR: I fail to see the difference.

JANO: Do you not realise that all progress is based on exploitation.

DOCTOR: Exploitation indeed!  This, sir, is protracted murder!

JANO: We have achieved a very great deal merely by the sacrifice of a few savages.

DOCTOR: The sacrifice of even one soul is far too great!  You must put an end to this inhuman practice.

JANO: You leave me no choice.  Take him away, Captain.  And tell Senta that we have an emergency.  I shall be sending him special instructions.

The Doctor is placed on a gurney and strapped down.  Wheeled into the vaporization unit, the Doctor undergoes transference.  This procedure is considered by the Elders to be the most impressive ever undertaken because no person of such high intellect has previously been subjected to it. The Doctor is rendered unconscious and upon waking he is weak, groggy and disorientated.  He is unable to speak for the rest of the episode.

The Doctor is an unwilling donor in the Elders' life force extraction

The Doctor is an unwilling donor in the Elders’ life force extraction

Given the unique nature of the Doctor’s transference the Elder leader, Jano, volunteers to be the recipient of the Doctor’s life force. Unbeknownst to all, Jano receives more than he bargained for.  Perhaps because of the Doctor’s non-human DNA, Jano develops a conscience and the speech mannerisms of the Doctor. Rob Shearman argues in Running Through Corridors that this was a ploy by the Doctor Who production team to see if the Doctor could be performed by someone other than William Hartnell.  In my review of The Celestial Toymaker I noted that Hartnell was lucky to have escaped the chop during that production run.  Shearman goes on to state that Frederick Jaeger, the actor who played Jano, was unsuccessful in pulling it off.  Had he done so, and replaced Hartnell, then the series is unlikely to have lasted more than a short period of time.  It was the radical reworking of the title character in the form of Patrick Troughton, Shearman argues, that secured Doctor Who’s future.

Dodo in the tunnels of the Elders' city

Dodo in the tunnels of the Elders’ city

It is the emergence of Jano’s conscience that facilitates his treason against the Elders and support of the Doctor, his companions and the Savages in the destruction of the Elders’ scientific equipment.  The Doctor’s acquiescence to the wilful destruction evidences a distinct change to his previous “no interference” policy.  The Doctor is changing history and quite proudly doing so.  The devastation of the equipment is undertaken in a most luddite like manner and is perhaps a hint that this serial is just as much about the perils of technology, and its effect upon the working classes, as it is about issues pertaining to racism or eugenics. Given that the writer, Ian Sturt Black, died in 1997 we are unlikely to ever know for sure.

The Doctor and Exorse, one of the Elders. Note Exorse's less than flattering head gear

The Doctor and Exorse, one of the Elders. Note Exorse’s less than flattering head gear

It has been argued that The Savages is essentially the same story as The Ark. Both involve a society residing in an artificial environment in which one group oppresses the other.  There is no logical basis for this discrimination and in both serials the oppressed rise up and usurp their overlords.  Both end with the need for co-operation between the former enemies.  When reviewing The Ark I noted that there was no guarantee that the Monoids would accept the Guardians’ proposals for peace.  In The Savages, however, peace is assured by the intervention of an independent third party as mediator.  Much to Steven’s  dismay, the Doctor volunteered him to remain and facilitate the transformation to a fair and just society. Although initially hesitant, Steven quickly accepts the challenge and the Doctor and Dodo depart to the Tardis. Although Steven’s retreat  is only slightly less hasty than Vicki’s, at least he is not the victim of a quick romance and marriage.  As our next serial, The War Machines, will show, there are a lot worse companion exits to come.

The Doctor says farewell to Steven as the distressed Dodo looks on

The Doctor says farewell to Steven as the distressed Dodo looks on

For the record, The Savages is the first serial to not have its episodes individually titled. Henceforth the viewers are better able to know when a serial starts and finishes.  Unfortunately for diehard fans of the series it also means that there will no longer be any arguments on what the serial’s correct title is! A sign of the more innocent times of the 1960s can be seen in the Doctor’s unique calculating apparatus – a Reacting Vibrator.  Is it any wonder that it was never seen or heard of again. This serial is also unique in that there are absolutely no monsters.  The inhumanity of humans to their own kind is monstrous enough. The four episodes of The Savages are among the 106 episodes that are no longer held in the BBC archives.  This marathon was undertaken by viewing Loose Cannon’s excellent reconstructions.

The Doctor and his strangely named RV - Reacting Vibrator.  Is it any wonder that it was never seen or heard of again?

The Doctor and his strangely named RV – Reacting Vibrator. Is it any wonder that it was never seen or heard of again?

Loose Cannon's VHS Cover art for their The Savages reconstructions.  The Savages was originally broadcast in the UK between 28th May and 18th June 1966

Loose Cannon’s VHS Cover art for their The Savages reconstructions. The Savages was originally broadcast in the UK between 28th May and 18th June 1966

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

REFERENCE:

Robert Shearman and Toby Hadoke, Running Through Corridors.  Rob and Toby’s Marathon Watch of Doctor Who (Mad Norwegian Press, Des Moines, Iowa: 2011),