Tag Archives: Tooth and Claw

The Wheel in Space

Standard

Image

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 Faceless Ones

Standard

Image

If you’d tuned into Doctor Who in March or April 1967 you’d be excused for thinking that the programme’s production team had a real issue with holidaying Brits.  Firstly The Macra Terror compared  Butlins style Holiday Camps to a colony governed by giant mind-controlling crabs. Then the next serial, The Faceless Ones, took a shot at the bourgeoning package holiday market and groups of 18 to 25 year-olds jetting off  from Gatwick Airport to European destinations such as Rome, Dubrovnik and Athens.   Participating in such tours could find you miniaturized, shot 150 miles into the air in a aeroplane which transforms into a spaceship, and finally stored away indefinitely in a drawer after an alien has replicated and taken on your form. It’s enough to turn anyone off taking that next holiday!

The Tardis lands on the runway of Gatwick Airport

The Tardis lands on the runway of Gatwick Airport

Mind control and losing one’s identity were issues of great concern to the writers of Doctor Who in the late 1960s. Together with The Macra Terror and The Faceless Ones, such themes were also addressed in a number of other stories.  In the Cybermen serials there was the ever present threat of being upgraded and becoming one of them.  In the Underwater Menace you were at risk of being turned into a Fish Person, and miniaturization and long time storage had been canvassed in The Ark.

The four members of the Tardis Crew before the scatter at Gatwick Airport

The four members of the Tardis Crew before they scatter at Gatwick Airport

The Faceless One marks the real beginning of the classic pairing of Jamie and the Second Doctor.  In his previous outings in the Tardis Jamie had been almost a tacked on afterthought.  Written hastily into the series after his first appearance in The Highlanders, Jamie paraded around in a black wet suit in The Underwater Menace, moaned in a half conscious state about the “Phantom Piper” in The Moonbase, and showed his resilience to mind washing in The Macra Terror.  Jamie’s amazement at the technology of the 20th Century is at last played upon in this serial.  Large passenger aircraft are “flying beasties”,  £28 is a fortune and Gatwick Airport is a world unlike any that he’s ever seen. The audience is left wondering if the Highlander from 1746 is literate as he hides behind The Times newspaper which he holds upside down. They must also wonder what sort of fools the people searching for Jamie are, that they don’t notice the hairy legs of a kilted lad beneath the paper.

Jamie is amazed by all the sights at Gatwick Airport

Jamie is amazed by all the sights at Gatwick Airport

Jamie gets a kiss from Samantha

Jamie gets a kiss from Samantha

It is not until this outing that Jamie is paired principally with the Doctor, although he does spend a fair amount of air time with the Liver Bird, Samantha Briggs. The Liverpudlian character, whose brother was lost on one of the Chameleon Tours, was played by Pauline Collins and would have become the new companion had Collins agreed to the offer. I have little doubt that there were no regrets as her career progressed to stellar heights. Collins was not to appear in Doctor Who again until the 2006 Series 2 story, Tooth and Claw, in which she played Queen Victoria.

Pauline Collins played a girl from Liverpool, Samantha Briggs, who is searching for her lost brother

Pauline Collins played a girl from Liverpool, Samantha Briggs, who was searching for her lost brother

Pauline Collin's next appearance in Doctor Who would be 39 years later as Queen Victoria in Tooth and Claw

Pauline Collins’ next appearance in Doctor Who would be 39 years later as Queen Victoria in Tooth and Claw

Jamie’s rapport with the Doctor is incredible but is only the beginning of a steadfast relationship which will mature during Seasons five and six.  This partnership, however, is at the expense of Ben and Polly who depart the Tardis Crew at the end of episode six.  Ben’s days were numbered from Jamie’s arrival in The Highlanders and it was unfortunate that the dynamic between the two modern day London companions was lost.  Anneke Wills chose to relinquish her role as Polly once Michael Craze’s departure became known.

Jamie's addition to the Tardis Crew eventually came at Ben's expense

Jamie’s addition to the Tardis Crew eventually came at Ben’s expense

Polly discovers a dead body in episode one of The Faceless Ones

Polly discovers a dead body in episode one of The Faceless Ones

Ben and Polly’s farewell was not much better than Dodo’s in The War Machines, which was incidentally Ben and Polly’s first adventure with the Doctor. Absent from episodes three, four and five, they only appeared in a pre-filmed segment at episode six’s close.  A ten month companionship spanning  two Doctors ended abruptly when the couple realized that it was 20 July 1966, the very day that they’d stumbled into the Tardis at the conclusion of The War Machines.  Although visibly upset, Polly was pleased to be able to get back to her own world.  The Doctor said how lucky they were because he never got to return to his.  Exhibiting a marked sexism the Doctor stated, “Now go on, Ben can catch his ship and become an Admiral, and you Polly, you can look after Ben”.  What a life.  You could tell it was 1967!  After Polly enquired as to whether the Doctor would be safe, Jamie assured her that “I’ll look after him”.

We bid Ben and Polly a sad farewell

We bid Ben and Polly a sad farewell

The Second Doctor’s first present day serial, The Faceless Ones,  is sure to have influenced Mark Gatiss when he wrote the Series 2 story The Idiot’s Lantern. In that 2006 Tenth Doctor story an evil entity, The Wire, existed only in the form of energy.  She transferred herself  between television sets and fed off humanity’s mental signals as people innocently watched the telly.  In stealing the humans’ energy The Wire hoped to one day  regain a corporeal form.  Her victims, however, were robbed of their faces and minds, although they still retained consciousness. Faceless the victims became, but nowhere near as grotesque as their predecessors in The Faceless Ones.

Rose Tyler becomes faceless in 2006's The Idiot's Lantern

Rose Tyler becomes faceless in 2006’s The Idiot’s Lantern

The Chameleon Faceless Ones of 1967 were altogether more frightening

The Chameleon Faceless Ones of 1967 were altogether more frightening

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Faceless Ones and am saddened that only two of the six episodes are held in the BBC Archives.  The Second Doctor serials are just such a delight and it’s appalling that there are only a handful of complete Troughton serials remaining.  As the Doctor and Jamie walked off at the story’s end, looking for the stolen Tardis, I contemplated how pleased I was that Doctor Who is a British and not an Australian programme.  Jamie would never have had his Scottish accent stolen, and replaced by a Received Pronunciation one in the Chameleon-Jamie, if the show was made in Australia.  Nor would the actor who played the Police Inspector Crossland experience such difficulties in gaining and retaining a Scots brogue. Most importantly, however, the humans who were replicated by the Chameleons would never have been left hidden in cars.  Residing in such a hot environment we’re all too schooled  in the “dogs die in hot cars” commercials to ever contemplate leaving a human in one!  Join me next time as Season four comes to an end with The Evil of the Daleks and Doctor Who gets its newest companion, Victoria.

Sam, Inspector Crossland and Jamie

Sam, Inspector Crossland and Jamie

The Doctor and Inspector Crossland

The Doctor and Inspector Crossland

The Faceless Ones was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 April and 13 May 1967.  Episodes 1 and 3 are available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

The Faceless Ones was originally broadcast in the UK between 8 April and 13 May 1967. Episodes 1 and 3 are available on the triple DVD set Lost in Time

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.