Tag Archives: The Tenth Planet

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

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5. The Aztecs

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

Ian was lucky to escape with his life in The Aztecs

Ian was lucky to escape with his life in The Aztecs

4. The Tenth Planet

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

The DVD cover art for The Tenth Planet

The DVD cover art for The Tenth Planet

3. The Massacre

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

The Doctor and Steven in The Massacre

The Doctor and Steven in The Massacre

2. An Unearthly Child

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

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

The first TARDIS Crew in An Unearthly Child

The first TARDIS Crew in An Unearthly Child

1.  Marco Polo

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

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

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

Marco Polo is the earliest missing Doctor Who serial

Marco Polo is the earliest missing Doctor Who serial

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

The Daleks’ Master Plan

Sara Kingdom in combat mode in The Daleks' Master Plan

Sara Kingdom in combat mode in The Daleks’ Master Plan

The Myth Makers

Vicki and Troilus in The Myth Makers

Vicki and Troilus in The Myth Makers

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

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

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Day 48 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – The Top 10 Cliff Hangers of the Sixties

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One of the most frustrating aspects of 21st Century Doctor Who is the almost complete absence of cliff hangers.  Very few stories have extended beyond one episode.  In a clear nod to William Hartnell era stories, the Series 7 story The Crimson Horror ended with a direct lead-in to the next story, Nightmare in Silver. Arriving back in present-day London, the companion Clara meets with the children she babysits, Angie and Artie, who blackmail her into taking them on her next adventure in the TARDIS.

Clara is blackmailed by Angie and Artie in the conclusion of The Crimson Horror

Clara is blackmailed by Angie and Artie at the conclusion of The Crimson Horror (2013)

In celebration of the great cliff hangers of Classic Series Doctor Who  this article will briefly examine the Top 10 Cliff Hangers of the Sixties.  So as not to reinvent the wheel, The Doctor Who Mind Robber has directly quoted the episode ending summaries from David J Howe and Stephen James Walker’s seminal book The Television Companion. No copyright infringement is intended.

David J Howe & Stephen James Walker's The Television Companion was published in 2003 by Telos Publishing

David J Howe & Stephen James Walker’s The Television Companion was published in 2003 by Telos Publishing

10.          Fury From the Deep – Episode 3

“Maggie Harris and Robson, both infected by the weed creature, meet on the beach.  The former tells the latter that he will obey his instructions.  Then she turns and walks straight out into the sea, eventually becoming completely submerged beneath the waves”.

The horror of this cliff hanger is the apparent suicide of Maggie Harris, the wife of one of the base employees.  It is not until several episodes later that it becomes evident that Mrs Harris is still alive.  Incidentally, Fury From the Deep is one of the few Doctor Who serials in which no one dies.

Unfortunately all episodes of Fury From the Deep have been lost, however the soundtrack, telesnaps and Loose Cannon’s excellent reconstruction brilliantly convey the horror.

In the cliff hanger to episode three Maggie Harris walks into the water, as if to commit suicide

In the cliff hanger to episode three Maggie Harris walks into the water, as if to commit suicide

9.            An Unearthly Child – Episode 1

“The TARDIS arrives on a Palaeolithic landscape, over which falls the shadow of a man”.

This is the cliff hanger to the very first episode of Doctor Who and it’s the first time that the television viewers see the TARDIS materialize.  The ominous shadow of a man in the barren landscape is both frightening and unexpected.

The ominous shadow of a man approaches the TARDIS in the cliff hanger to An Unearthly Child

The ominous shadow of a man approaches the TARDIS in the cliff hanger to An Unearthly Child

8.            The Mind Robber – Episode 1

“The TARDIS is in flight, the travellers having apparently escaped from the void.  A low, throbbing hum is heard which grows in intensity until it is unbearable.  Suddenly the TARDIS explodes.  The Doctor spins away through space while Jamie and Zoe are left clinging to the console as it is engulfed in swirling mist.”

The end of the first episode of The Mind Robber is absolutely brilliant.  This is the first time in Doctor Who that the TARDIS explodes and the crew is left floating perilously in space. The image of Zoe clinging onto the TARDIS console has become iconic for all the wrong reasons.  Her tight sparkly cat suit clings to her body as the camera focuses on her bottom.

Wendy Padbury in the scene for which, unfortunately, she is perhaps best known

Wendy Padbury in the scene for which, unfortunately, she is perhaps best known

7.            The Massacre – Episode 3

“The Abbot of Amboise lies dead in the gutter, a crowd of angry Catholics gathering around his body.  When Steven protests that the Huguenots were not responsible, Roger Colbert incites the crowd against him.  Steven flees for his life through the Paris streets …”

The Massacre sees William Hartnell play two roles – the Doctor and the evil Abbot of Amboise.  Both characters are absolutely identical in appearance however the audience and companion Steven are unaware if the Doctor is masquerading as the Abbot, or if the Doctor and the Abbot are two different people.  It’s for that reason that this cliff hanger is so powerful as it is not clear if it is the Doctor or the real Abbot who is dead.

The Massacre is another of the serials which unfortunately has  all episodes missing.  As discussed in Fury From the Deep, this does not distract from the potency of the ending.

Steven with the body of the Abbot of Amboise

Steven with the body of the Abbot of Amboise

6.            The Tenth Planet – Episode 4

“The Doctor returns to the TARDIS, closely followed by Ben and Polly.  The ship’s controls move of their own accord and the Doctor collapses to the floor.  His companions enter and, before their astonished eyes, the Doctor’s face transforms into that of a younger man”.

This episode ending is of course Doctor Who’s first regeneration. The First Doctor, William Hartnell, collapses and with exceptional special effects for the era, his face is transformed into that of the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton.  The audience must wait until the next episode to see all of the new Doctor’s body and to experience his personality.  There was no precedent for a change of the lead character in such a manner, and the audience was left stunned as they anticipated the new Doctor’s personality and physical appearance.

Episode 4 of The Tenth Planet has been lost however an amateur film was taken of a television screen during the broadcast of the episode.  The episode has also been recently animated and will be released on DVD next month.

5.            The Dalek Invasion of Earth – Episode 1 and Episode 6

“The Doctor and Ian, menaced by a group of Robomen, prepare to escape by diving into the Thames. As they turn, they see rising slowly from the water the familiar shape of a Dalek.” (Episode 1)

“The TARDIS dematerialises and, comforted by David, Susan moves away.  Her TARDIS key lies discarded on the ground, with an image of a starscape superimposed …” (Episode 6)

The cliff hanger of episode 1 derives its force from both the iconic background of the Thames River and the emergence of Doctor Who’s first return monsters, the Daleks. Having been so well received in their first story, the return of the Daleks was eagerly anticipated by fans.  As was the common practise in early Doctor Who stories, the monsters rarely appeared on-screen until the end of the serial’s first episode.

The episode six ending marked the first departure of a companion in Doctor Who. Just prior to the episode’s end the Doctor gave an impassioned oration to his grand-daughter Susan whom he was effectively deserting on the 21st Century Earth.

A submerged Dalek emerging from the Thames River

A submerged Dalek emerging from the Thames River

Susan talks to the Doctor through the Tardis's PA system

Susan talks to the Doctor through the TARDIS’s PA system

4.            Planet of Giants – Episode 2

“After cleaning Farrow’s blood from the patio stones outside, Smithers goes into the laboratory to wash his hands, unaware that the Doctor and Susan are hiding in the water outlet from the sink.  As a helpless Ian and Barbara watch, he fills the sink with water, washes, and then pulls out the plug”.

The brilliance of the episode 2 cliff hanger of Planet of the Giants is that it successfully made the mundane frightening.  Watching a plug pulled from a sink and water cascading down a drain would ordinarily be exciting as watching the kettle boil. Our heroes, however, have been shrunk to less than an inch in height and are as vulnerable as an ant is to the heavy boot of a human.  The companions Ian and Barbara, together with the audience, are left paralysed with fear at the imminent drowning of the Doctor and Susan.

The Doctor and Susan before descending into the sink drain

The Doctor and Susan before descending into the sink drain

3.            The Daleks – Episode 1

“Exploring their apparently deserted city, Barbara encounters one of the Daleks and is menaced by its telescopic sucker arm.”

As outlined in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, it was standard practice in early Doctor Who for the monsters not to emerge until the cliff hanger of the first episode.  This absolutely iconic ending sees Barbara pinned to a wall in fear as a Dalek’s sucker arm menaces her.  The audience has not yet seen the rest of the Dalek’s body however the expression on Barbara’s face paints a picture of a horrifying spectacle.

Barbara is pinned against the wall in fear during the Daleks' first appearance in Doctor Who on 21st December 1963

Barbara is pinned against the wall in fear during the Daleks’ first appearance in Doctor Who on 21st December 1963

2.            The War Games – Episode 1 and Episode 10

“In the First World War zone the Doctor has been found guilty of spying against the English forces and is tied up before a firing squad.  Captain Ransom brings his men to order, tells them to present arms and opens his mouth to give the order to fire.  A shot rings out and the Doctor grimaces” (Episode 1)

“A still protesting Doctor spins away through a dark void to begin his sentence of exile on Earth with a new appearance.  His face is shrouded in shadow …” (Episode 10)

By the time the first episode of The War Games was broadcast Patrick Troughton’s decision to leave the role of the Doctor had been made public.  Whilst history had shown that the Doctor always escaped serious harm, the audience could not be certain that his luck hadn’t finally ended.  Perhaps he would be killed by the firing squad and regeneration was imminent?

Episode 10 is perhaps my all-time favourite as so many mysteries about the Doctor’s past are answered. His forced regeneration at the episode’s end is chilling but perhaps not as sad as Jamie and Zoe’s departure earlier in the episode.  The monochrome era of Doctor Who was at an end and things would never be the same again.

The Doctor grimaces as a shot rings out

The Doctor grimaces as a shot rings out

1.            The Invasion – Episode 6

“The Cybermen emerge from the sewers and march through the streets of London as the invasion begins.”

The Cybermen’s emergence from the sewers of London and their march down the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral is justifiably iconic. By placing the monsters in an easily recognizable London landscape genuine fear would have been instilled in the audience.  Although the Daleks had visited tourist spots such as Westminster Bridge in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the Cybermen were in current day London.  This wasn’t one of the Daleks’ futuristic tales but rather a genuine invasion in our own time.  As Jon Pertwee said,  there’s a “Yeti on the Loo in Tooting Bec”.

Perhaps the most iconic cliff hanger in classic series Doctor Who.  The Cybermen on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral

Arguably the most iconic cliff hanger in classic series Doctor Who. The Cybermen on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral

TOMORROW – DAY 47 – The 10 Greatest Billy Fluffs 

YESTERDAY – DAY 49  – The 10 Least Remembered Monsters of the Sixties

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The Wheel in Space

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The Wheel in Space marks the end of Doctor Who’s Fifth Season  and the almost constant run of missing episodes which have plagued marathon viewers since the beginning of Season Three. Season Six is complete, save for the penultimate serial The Space Pirates, and two episodes of the eight part serial The Invasion.  Thanks to the brilliant work of Cosgrove Hall. the two missing episodes of The Invasion have been animated and the complete serial is available for viewing on DVD.

Jamie and the Doctor with the Servo-Robot which subsequently rendered the Doctor unconscious

Jamie and the Doctor with the Servo-Robot which subsequently rendered the Doctor unconscious

The Cybermen made their fourth appearance in 18 months in The Wheel in Space. With the temporary retirement of the Daleks in the last serial of Season Four, the Cybermen had assumed the mantle of the Doctor’s number one enemy. Whereas the Daleks were previously guaranteed to appear in two serials per season, Terry Nation’s attempts to sell his creations to the US saw the Cybermen snatch their title as favourite recurring monsters.  Their appearance in The Wheel in Space, however, was a great deal more subtle than in previous adventures.  Not  seen until the cliff hanger of episode two, their screen time was nearly as limited as their speech.  The somewhat verbose sing-song voices of The Tenth Planet Cybermen were replaced by almost mute monsters with more human voices.  Now possessing three silver fingers, the Cybermen’s principal terror derived from them silently emerging unexpectedly from anywhere on the Wheel.

The companion-in-waiting, Zoe, with two Cybermen

The companion-in-waiting, Zoe, with two Cybermen

The hints of humanity that the first generation Cybermen possessed were long gone, with the cyber creatures now described by the Doctor thus:  “Their entire bodies are mechanical  and their brains have been treated neuro-surgically to remove all human emotions, all sense of pain. They’re ruthless, inhuman killers!”. These Cybermen, the Doctor said, need to colonize and have the treasures of earth.

The emotionless Cybermen provide a brilliant juxtaposition to the Doctor’s newest companion, Zoe Heriot.  15 year old Zoe is an astrophysicist and astrometricist first class and employed as the Wheel’s parapsychology librarian. Her perfect recall of scientific facts and ability to undertake mental calculations faster than a hand-held calculator are the consequence of her being brainwashed by the City’s educational institution. The processes by which she was educated are not revealed, although one can only guess that they were somewhat similar to those encountered by the First Doctor’s companion,  Vicky. Coming from 2493, Vicky outlined to a stunned Barbara in The Rescue how her schooling comprised of being hooked up to a machine for only an hour a week.  Zoe, however, comes from a much earlier time, perhaps the early 21st Century,  so it’s possible that the education system was not the same. Wood and Miles in About Time argue that the character of Zoe would never work in a current day series “largely because most of her functions could be served by an idiot with a laptop”. With the digital age not even dreamed of in 1968, Zoe was one of the brainwashed bureaucrats that many feared would envelop us in the future.

Tat Wood & Lawrence Miles, About Time 2

Tat Wood & Lawrence Miles, About Time 2

An unfortunate consequence of Zoe’s education is she is entirely logic driven and completely unable to cope in unexpected circumstances.  She is described as being without emotion twice in one day by her co-workers on the Wheel. Rob Shearman in Running Through Corridors described her as “a robot wanting to be a human being”. Shearman’s analysis of Zoe on page 266 is so well written as to warrant me quoting it in full.

The Doctor's latest companion, Zoe Heriot

The Doctor’s latest companion, Zoe Heriot

Someone else enslaved to logic is Zoe Heriot.  She’s a much darker character than I’d ever realised.  Whitaker’s script rather brilliantly only hints that she comes from a pitiless totalitarian regime, where young children are taken and brainwashed so that they can come out the other end supergeniuses – capable of holding a huge amount of information, but not the wherewithal to respond to it emotionally.  She’s just another Cyberman.

Rob Shearman brilliantly analyses Zoe in Running Through Corridors

Rob Shearman brilliantly analyses Zoe in Running Through Corridors

Zoe’s brainwashing was quickly detected by the Doctor who responded to her with perhaps one of his most memorable comments,  “Logic, my dear Zoe, merely enables one to be wrong with authority”. During the course of the serial the limitations she faces because of her reliance on logic become painfully clear. Jamie and Zoe’s conversation in the Wheel Operations room during episode five evidences her growing disillusionment, and foreshadows her ultimate decision to stow away in the Tardis.

JAMIE: Oh, there is something you don’t know, then.

ZOE: There’s too much I don’t know.  I was trained to believe logic and calculation would provide me with all the answers.  Well, I’m just beginning to realise there are questions which I can’t answer.

JAMIE: You’re just not trained for an emergency like this.

ZOE: Well, that’s the whole point.  What good am I?  I’ve been created for some false kind of existence where only known kinds of emergencies are catered for.  Well, what good is that to me now?

JAMIE: Hey, we’re not done yet, you know.

ZOE: And if we survive?  What then, Jamie?  Suppose we do get ourselves out of this mess.  What have I got left?  A blind reliance on facts and logic?

The Crew in the Control Room of the Wheel

The Crew in the Control Room of the Wheel

When Zoe is found in the TARDIS’s magic chest at the story’s end  Jamie’s immediate reaction is to say that it’s impossible for her to go with them. This of itself is quite extraordinary given that he voiced no such concerns when Victoria hitched a ride after her father’s death in The Evil of the Daleks. Perhaps Jamie was secretly hoping that the Doctor would pop back and pick up Victoria from Brittanicus Base?  The less polite might argue that Jamie wanted the Doctor all to himself!  The Doctor responded to Zoe’s request to stay by saying that it wasn’t impossible but “something that we have to decide”.  It appears that the TARDIS is a democracy and that the Doctor is not the sole decision maker.  This is in stark contrast to the First Doctor’s tenure where the Ship was clearly his own, to do with as he pleased. Kidnapping is something that the Second Doctor would never acquiesce to.

Jamie is initially reticent to accept Zoe as a member of the TARDIS Crew

Jamie is initially reticent to accept Zoe as a member of the TARDIS Crew

To help Zoe decide if she wanted to accept the challenges of life in the TARDIS, the Doctor projected his thought patterns onto a monitor and the reprise from episode two of The Evil of the Daleks was seen.  In the break between Seasons Six and Seven the BBC aired the first ever Doctor Who repeat, The Evil of the Daleks, and this was scripted into both episode six of The Wheel in Space and episode one of Season Six, The Dominators. This was the first and only time that a repeat was scripted into a serial.  The viewers had to wait for Zoe’s decision on whether to stay with the Doctor and Jamie.

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

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

Another first for The Wheel in Space was the use of the Doctor’s pseudonym, John Smith.  When Gemma  Corwyn, the Second-in-Command of the Wheel and a particularly strong and well developed female character, asked Jamie what the Doctor’s name was he was stumped.   “The Doctor” was the only name by which Jamie knew this mysterious man with whom he’d lived and travelled for the past two years. Glancing over at some medical equipment manufactured by  John Smith & Associates Jamie replied, “Er. John Smith”.  Later, when the Doctor recovered from his Servo-Robot induced unconsciousness and Corwyn introduced him to Zoe, Jamie had to nudge the Doctor into recognizing that his name was John.

The piece of medical equipment which inspired the now literate Jamie to give the Doctor the alias John Smith

The piece of medical equipment which inspired (the now literate) Jamie to give the Doctor the alias “John Smith”

The Doctor would go onto use the alias John Smith dozens of time thereafter.  It could be argued that Jamie’s naming of the Doctor was a mere coincidence and that he was already known by that alias.  In the Series Five episode, The Vampires of Venice, the Doctor produced a library card with the First Doctor’s image on it and the address 76 Totter’s Lane.  This may well be another example of retroactive continuity as previously discussed in my review of The Abominable Snowmen.  Interestingly enough, on one occasion when the Doctor didn’t use the alias of John Smith (Tooth and Claw) he adopted the name James McCrimmon instead.  What a lovely nod to Jamie that was. 

The Eleventh Doctor shows his library card bearing the name and photo of Dr John Smith in The Vampires of Venice (2010)

The Eleventh Doctor shows his library card bearing the name and photo of Dr John Smith in The Vampires of Venice (2010)

The Tenth Doctor identifies himself as James McCrimmon in Tooth and Claw (2006)

It is important to be mindful, however, of the voluminous amounts of criticism that have been directed at The Wheel in Space. Frequently dismissed for being the last of an almost continuous stream of “Base under Siege” stories in Season Five, The Wheel is somewhat slow and features a great deal less of the Doctor then generally seen.  Patrick Troughton was on holidays during episode two when the Doctor is conveniently unconscious for the whole episode. When he does appear not a great deal happens. This general disaffection with the story is perhaps best summed up by Cornell, Day and Topping in The Discontinuity Guide (1994) when they describe the serial like this:

Dull, lifeless and so derivative of other base-under-siege stories that it isn’t really a story in its own right.  Despite the detailed Wheel setting, the galloping lack of scientific credibility is annoying, and the Cybermen are so bland and ordinary that they could have been any other monster.  Generic speed-written tosh.

Paul Cornell, Martin Day & Keith Toppiing, The Discontinuity Guide

Paul Cornell, Martin Day & Keith Topping, The Discontinuity Guide

Notwithstanding this criticism, The Wheel in Space was placed at 156 in the 2009 Doctor Who Magazine  Mighty 200.  That was well above several other Troughton serials including The Krotons (166), The Dominators (191), The Underwater Menace (194) and The Space Pirates (195). As two episodes are held in the BBC Archives, and have been released on the Lost in Time DVD, it is well worth disregarding the consensus and giving The Wheel in Space a view.  It’s worth it just to see the lovely Wendy Padbury introduced as Zoe.

The Wheel in Space was originally broadcast in the UK between 27 April and 1 June 1968.  Episodes 3 and 6  of The Wheel in Space held in the BBC Archives and have been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time.

The Wheel in Space was originally broadcast in the UK between 27 April and 1 June 1968. Episodes 3 and 6 of The Wheel in Space are held in the BBC Archives and have been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

REFERENCES:

Paul Cornell, Martin Day & Keith Topping, The Discontinuity Guide, Virgin Publishing Ltd: London,1995.

Robert Shearman & Toby Hadoke, Running Through Corridors. Rob & Toby’s Marathon Watch of Doctor Who. Volume 1: The 60s, Mad Norweigan Press: Illinois, 2010.

Tat Wood & Lawrence Miles, About Time. The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who 1966-1969 Seasons 4 to 6 Volume 2. Mad Norweigan Press: Illinois, 2010.

The Tenth Planet – DVD Contents and Cover Announced

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ImageThe DVD Contents and Cover of the forthcoming The Tenth Planet release have been announced.  Due for Australian and New Zealand release on 20 November 2013, the DVD includes a number of fascinating special features not the least of which is a television interview with the First Doctor, William Hartnell. Other features include a profile of Anneke Wills’ portrayal of the companion Polly, and Peter Purves, Frazer Hines and Mark Strickson reminiscing about their time as companions of the First, Second and Fifth Doctors.  Full details of the two Disc DVD contents can be found at Doctor Who.tv here.

Anneke Wills as Polly in The Underwater Menace

Anneke Wills as Polly in The Underwater Menace

While you eagerly await The Tenth Planet’s release enjoy this exclusive animation of the First Doctor’s regeneration. The missing episode four of The Tenth Planet has been fully animated and will be included in this release.

The First Doctor’s regeneration in The Tenth Planet. 

The Tenth Planet will be released in Australia and New Zealand on 20 November 2013

The Tenth Planet will be released in Australia and New Zealand on 20 November 2013

Vivien Fleming

The Web of Fear

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Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart began his television career in Doctor Who as a Colonel in The Web of Fear and ended it, more than 40 years later, with a knighthood in the Sarah Jane Adventures serial Enemy of the Bane. In the interim the Brigadier, as he was most frequently and affectionately known, appeared in 103 TV episodes of Classic Series Doctor Who¸ the 1993 30th Anniversary Special Dimensions in Time, and two episodes of the Sarah Jane Adventures (2008). The character’s death was acknowledged in the Series 6 episode The Wedding of River Song (2011). The Brigadier also appeared as a character in countless audio dramas, books, cartoons and short stories right up until the actor Nicholas Courtney’s death in February 2011.

The Doctor first met Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart in less than perfect circumstances

The Doctor first met Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart in less than perfect circumstances in The Web of Fear  (1968)

Lethbridge-Stewart appeared alongside the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Seventh Doctors in  serials and with the Sixth Doctor in Dimensions in Time. Nicholas Courtney, however, had the distinction of also appearing as Bret Vyon in the first four episodes of the First Doctor’s serial, The Daleks’ Master Plan.  Interestingly, Courtney’s first and last appearances in Classic Series Doctor Who were alongside fellow actor Jean Marsh. Marsh had played Courtney’s sister, Sara Kingdom, in The Daleks’ Master Plan and was Morgaine in 1989’s Battlefield. To tangle the interweaving web of Doctor Who even further, Marsh had been married to Jon Pertwee, the Third Doctor, between 1955 and 1960.

Brigadier Sir Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart in the Sarah Jane Adventures serial, Enemy of the Bane (2008)

Brigadier Sir Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart in the Sarah Jane Adventures serial, Enemy of the Bane (2008)

Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart was the longest running recurring human character in Doctor Who by a country mile.  The only villainous characters of greater longevity have been the Daleks, who first appeared in 1963, the Cybermen (1966), The Ice Warriors (1967) and quite ironically for the purposes of this review, the Great Intelligence (1967).  And to think that contract to appear as Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart was only four weeks long!

The Eleventh Doctor learns of the Brigadier’s death in The Wedding of River Song

Aside from the creation of the iconic Lethbridge-Stewart, one would be hard pressed to find another Doctor Who story that had such a long term influence on the series than The Web of Fear. As a classic example of the “base under siege” genre, it was the first to be set in present day London.  Transferring the previously Himalayan bound Yeti to the London Underground provided both a contemporary and identifiable point of reference for viewers.  The sense of terror was greatly amplified when monsters were lurking in the tunnels and tube stations that most viewers knew so well.  Incidentally, one of the actors in the Yeti suits was none other than John Levene, who would go on to portray another long time recurring character, UNIT’s Sergeant Benton.

Yeti in the tunnels of the London Underground

Yeti in the tunnels of the London Underground

The Second Doctor’s co-operation with the military in The Web of Fear would resurface in Season Six’s The Invasion, in which both Lethbridge-Stewart and Benton were members of the newly established United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT). The Invasion was the template for the Third Doctor’s earthbound exile in Seasons Seven and beyond.  But more about that when I review The Invasion.

Jack Watling reprised his role of (an aged) Travers in The Web of Fear

Jack Watling reprised his role of (an aged) Travers in The Web of Fear

The appearance of the Yeti in The Abominable Snowmen, and its sequel, The Web of Fear, propelled them to iconic status.  As a consequence of the writers, Henry Lincoln and Mervyn Haisman’s, falling out with the Doctor Who production team the Yeti would only appear again briefly in the 1983 Twentieth Anniversary Special, The Five Doctors. The Yeti’s short screen time had little effect on the creatures’ iconic status. Although never appearing alongside the Yeti on screen, Jon Pertwee is fondly remembered for his oft quoted phrase, “Yeti on the loo in Tooting Bec”.  What Pertwee was referring to was the direction that Doctor Who had taken during the Third Doctor’s earthbound tenure.  The Doctor was confronting  the monsters, not on an alien planet, but in the viewers’ own backyards, or toilets, or under their city ….  Akin to the expression, “Behind the Sofa”, “Yeti on the loo” quickly entered the Who vocabulary.

Reading a paper in the loo is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.  But did the Third Doctor anticipate meeting a Yeti in the loo?

Reading a paper in the loo is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. But did the Third Doctor anticipate meeting a Yeti in the loo?

This “Yeti on the loo” in-joke was most probably lost on a great many New Series viewers to part three of Pond Life, the prelude mini-adventures to Series Seven. The pun was much more than just the play on words of “Ood” and “loo”, and was most certainly a shout-out to Classic Series Who. Give a thought to the late Jon Pertwee as you watch Rory and Amy’s startled responses to the Ood in their bathroom.

Rory and Amy are confronted by an unexpected guest in Part 3 of Pond Life.

Before we leave the Yeti, The Web of Fear was the last serial to feature the sublime composition by British Composer, Martin Slavin, entitled Space Adventure. Ordinarily the Cybermen’s theme, it provided a superb backdrop for their first three stories, The Tenth Planet, The Moonbase and The Tomb of the Cybermen. In its last appearance in Who this composition accompanied the Yeti in Covent Garden.  

Victoria, Jamie and the Doctor contemplate their options

Victoria, Jamie and the Doctor contemplate their options

The Web of Fear is not without its failings. There is an unfortunate negative Jewish stereotype in episode one in the form of Julius Silverstein, a wealthy artefact collector and business person who runs his own museum.  Having acquired a deactivated Yeti from Edward Travers, he refused to return it after being advised that the Yeti’s control sphere had been reactivated and disappeared. The consequence of this belligerence was Silverstein’s own death at the hands of the reactivated Yeti.  When Terrance Dicks novelized the serial as Doctor Who and the Web of Fear in 1976 the character’s name was changed to Emil Julius in an attempt to avoid the negative stereotype.

The unfortunate artefact owner, Julius Silverstein

The unfortunate artefact owner, Julius Silverstein shortly before his death at the hands of a Yeti

As equally offensive, but rarely mentioned, example of racism is the characterization of Driver Evans, a Welsh officer of the British Army and a member of Lethbridge-Stewart’s team.  Evans is portrayed as unintelligent and cowardly, and he clearly wants to dessert from the Army. Had there been more than one Welsh Army officer in the serial then this Cymrophobia (anti-Welsh sentiment) could have been averted by presenting the other character(s) as courageous. Evidently Terrance Dicks was also concerned by this Cymrophobia and had Lethbridge-Stewart state that ordinarily the Welsh are good soldiers.

The character of Driver Evans was evidence of Doctor Who's Cymrophobia.

The character of Driver Evans was evidence of Doctor Who’s Cymrophobia.

The unfortunate stereotyping of the age aside, The Web of Fear is a tremendously suspenseful serial beautifully directed by Douglas Camfield. High up on many Who fans lists of “most wanted” missing serials, The Web of Fear’s influence on the future of Doctor Who could never have been imagined when its episodes were junked.  Only episode one remains in the BBC Archives, which is one more than the next serial in my marathon, Fury From the Deep. Join me for my next review as I examine how Australian film censorship has given us a tantalizing glimpse of this long lost story.

A body at the entrance of the deserted Tube Station

A body at the entrance of the deserted Tube Station

Episode 1 of The Web of Fear is held in the BBC Archives and has been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time.  The Web of Fear was originally  broadcast in the UK between 3 February and 9 March 1968.

Episode 1 of The Web of Fear is held in the BBC Archives and has been released on the triple DVD set, Lost in Time. The Web of Fear was originally broadcast in the UK between 3 February and 9 March 1968.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

William Hartnell TV Interview Discovered

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Thank you to Frivolous Monsters for your tip off to the breaking news that a 1967 television interview with William Hartnell has been found and will be released on The Tenth Planet DVD in November 2013. As mentioned in my blog yesterday, until now there have been no known interviews with Hartnell out of character.

The find, which has been confirmed by the Doctor Who Restoration Team member Steve Roberts, can be read about in an article in Doctor Who News here.

The Moonbase

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The Moonbase is arguably the story where the Second Doctor’s characterization truly takes its most familiar form.  The Doctor who is sentenced to regeneration and exile to Earth in The War Games for his continual breaches of the Time Lords’ Non-Interference Policy, conceivably had his  genesis in The Moonbase.  For it is in The Moonbase that this Doctor’s incarnation utters perhaps his most famous words, “There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things.  Things which act against everything we believe in. They must be fought”.  The Doctor’s goofing about has ended, although of course he’ll always be amusing, and his quest to save the universe has begun.

The genesis of the Second Doctor's characterization can be seen in The Moonbase

The genesis of the Second Doctor’s characterization can be seen in The Moonbase

In The Highlanders the Doctor was keen to leave as soon as he spied a steaming cannon ball.  It was only after Polly’s mocking of him that the Tardis Crew remained.  In The Moonbase, it is Ben who is keen to decamp at the earliest possible opportunity but the Doctor who is insistent on remaining. This is quite a radical change. This is, of course, after the Doctor had initially wanted to immediately leave the Moon after discovering he was not at his intended location, Mars. Being so experienced in space travel the Doctor had not even considered that his three companions may have relished the idea of walking on the moon.  This, naturally, was more than two years prior to the first human stepping foot on the Moon on 20th July 1969. Ever since the Soviet cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, became the first human to fly in space on 12th April 1961, the Western world was agog with the desire to beat the Communists and be the victors of the space race. That it took over three years for Doctor Who to first venture to the Moon is somewhat surprising given the context of the age.

It took three years for Doctor Who (and the Cybermen) to visit the Moon

It took three years for Doctor Who (and the Cybermen) to visit the Moon

Although appearing of sturdier construction than the Mondas forebears in The Tenth Planet, the Cybermen of The Moonbase  had lost their most frightening element – the vestiges of their humanity. Prior to watching The Tenth Planet I’d scoff at the awkward appearance of the Mark 1 Cybermen, with their cloth stocking faces and human hands. This was but another example, I thought, of lacklustre costuming.  Fancy the team at Doctor Who thinking that the audience could be scared of men with stockings over their heads!  How wrong was I. The Mark 1 Cybermen were so very threatening for the primary reason that the vestiges of their humanity were still evident.  Their sing-song voices hinted at a humanity that had somehow gone askew.

The Mark 2 Cybermen of The Moonbase have lost the vestiges of their humanity

The Mark 2 Cybermen of The Moonbase have lost the vestiges of their humanity

A Mark 1 Cyberman in The Tenth Planet

A Mark 1 Cyberman in The Tenth Planet

The Mark 2 Cybermen of The Moonbase are an almost different species altogether. Monsters they are, but humans they are not.  Their monotone metallic voices pay no homage to their humanoid origins and they are little more than robots.  Of itself there is nothing amiss with robots, per se, it’s just that “Cyber” without the “men” makes for an altogether different creature.  Doctor Who, however, had established its second great monster and no longer would the audience’s imaginations be limited to a Dalek only mindset.   Iconic imagery would soon abound to add to the Dalek’s emergence from the murky pollution of the Thames in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.  Cybermen will emerge from their icy tombs in The Tomb of the Cybermen and march down the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral in The Invasion.  Nothing will be the same again.

A Cyberman with Jamie

A Cyberman with Jamie

Akin to The Power of the Daleks, the Doctor is recognized by the Cybermen, notwithstanding his regenerated form.  Moreover, the adventures of the Doctor and his gang have for the first time gone down in the annals of history.  Hobson is perplexed by the Doctor’s ignorance of Cyberman history.  Every child knows that the Cybermen died when Mondas was blown up, Hobson states irritably. School children clearly now learn about the adventures of the Doctor and his companions.  The Moonbase commander, Hobson,  is  also the first to utter the words “we’re under siege” but the sentiment of  a confined environment under threat by monsters  is quickly to become a hallmark of Patrick Troughton’s era. There’s a “base under siege” and under siege the confines of Doctor Who will remain for much of the Second Doctor’s tenure.

The Moonbase is under siege and staffed by an international contingent including Brits, French, Danes, Australians and New Zealanders

The Moonbase is under siege and staffed by an international contingent including Brits, French, Danes, Australians and New Zealanders

The Moonbase is an early example of Doctor Who’s environmental concerns which would become all the more evident during Barry Lett’s tenure as Producer in the early 1970s. The 1964 Season Two opener, Planet of Giants, had contemplated the effect of pesticides on the world’s eco-systems.  In The Moonbase the Gravitron controls the Earth’s tides and has been doing so for the last 20 years since 2050.   By controlling the tides through the emission of deep sonic fields, the Gravitron controls the weather.  It is thermonuclear powered and has an inner core temperature of four million degrees.  The Gravitron guides hurricanes, for example, and when it is not working correctly the potential for disaster exists.  In this story we learn that thirty minutes previously, in Miami, Florida, they’d been experiencing blue skies and a heatwave.  Cyclone Lucy was now just overhead.  Something was causing the Gravitron to malfunction, but it is not until the story progresses that it is revealed that the Cybermen are the source of the problems. It’s the Cybermen’s intention to use the Gravitron to kill all life on the Earth and hence eliminate its threat to themselves. Whereas the Mark 1 Cybermen of The Tenth Planet were susceptible to radiation, it’s gravity which is the Mark 2 version’s weakness. The Doctor saves the world by turning the Gravitron onto the Cybermen and blasting them out into space.

The Gravitron is operated by men in funny hats that look like they were rejects from The Underwater Menace

The Gravitron is operated by men in funny hats that look like they were rejects from The Underwater Menace

Polly is spectacular in The Moonbase, and seemingly without scientific training is able to formulate a solvent to disintegrate the Cybermen’s plastic chest plates. Deriving the idea from Jamie’s off-hand comment that witches were kept at bay by sprinkling holy water, Polly reasons that if nail polish is a plastic and is removed by acetone, then surely chemicals exist on the base which could disintegrate the chamber holding the Cybermen’s heart and lungs.  Being uncertain that acetone would be the correct solvent to dissolve the Cybermen’s plastic, Polly sets about making a cocktail of different solvents in the hope that one will do the trick.  Thankfully her ad-hoc mix of benzene, ether, alcohol, acetone and epoxy-propane doesn’t blow up and does a splendid job of producing great sprays of foam from the dying Cybermen.  Ben nick-names the concoction the “Polly Cocktail”, although the boys, as is their want, seek to take the fame for the Cybermen’s destruction and to dissuade Polly from participating in “men’s work”. Girls can do anything and Polly certainly proves this!

The "Polly Cocktail" makes Polly the true hero of The Moonbase

The “Polly Cocktail” makes Polly the true hero of The Moonbase

Jamie doesn’t see a great deal of action in The Moonbase and spends most of his time recovering from a head injury in the sick bay.  His Scottish Highland origins are brought more to the fore in this serial.  Together with his comment about holy water and witches, Jamie also innocently speaks of seeing the “man in the moon” and in a hallucinatory state thinks that a Cyberman is the “Phantom Piper”.  Akin to the Grim Reaper, the McCrimmon “Phantom Piper” appears just prior to death. Thankfully we get to see Jamie running around in a kilt, which is always a blessing!

Polly tends to the ailing Jamie.  Whilst hallucinating  Jamie mistakes a Cyberman for the "Phantom Piper"

Polly tends to the ailing Jamie. Whilst hallucinating Jamie mistakes a Cyberman for the “Phantom Piper”

The Moonbase concludes with Doctor firing up the time scanner, a hitherto unheard of Tardis accoutrement which provides a glimpse into the future. Used infrequently and not very reliable, the time scanner shows an image of a giant claw. Our next story, The Macra Terror, is sure to be chilling.

The Moonbase was originally broadcast in the UK between11 February  and 4 March 1967.  Episodes 2 and 4 are available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

The Moonbase was originally broadcast in the UK between 11 February and 4 March 1967. Episodes 2 and 4 are available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.