Since She left me, My morals have seemed to kind of disappear. And I’ve lost 25 pounds. I don’t think it’s healthy.
If you want someone to chat to, drop me a message. It does get better, I promise you that. I know that the feelings won’t go away any time soon, but all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you. Remind yourself as to why you are a fantastic individual, why your friends hang out with you, etc. You are a wonderful person and I know you do great things, don’t stop being yourself. I believe in you. The pain will be there but show us why YOU are awesome again.
In case you missed the last post, Days 13 and 14 will be done eventually. Damn my working life.
This is serial is considered rare for its type as it’s a ‘bottle episode’, that in TV terms is an episode where no budget is spent on effect and it’s filmed on the main set of the show, using the main cast. It’s a money saving effort traditionally, and this was used to fill the void of 13 commissioned episodes, that was originally 11, but was expanded during the time An Unearthly Child was aired.
A mysterious blast renders the TARDIS crew unconscious. They awake disorientated and soon find that the TARDIS is malfunctioning strangely. As all the systems break down, the behaviour of the crew becomes more erratic. Is their method behind their madness?
For a two part serial, it does have some good sides and downsides. I found the mystery of trying to solve what’s going on interesting, but more having a true test of the relationship of all the characters with each other. Each performs well off each other, though the erratic behaviour is slightly over the top, but you can’t blame them when it was filmed in the 60s. Out of the serials I’ve seen, this felt more like a theatre production than anything as it felt like I was watching a stage show, not to mention some minor botching of lines is noticeable here than anything else.
Hartnell is still in his undermining and grouchy phase and this really does excel at this point, where it’s using the events of the previous two serials against him, he still can’t see beyond his own vanity at this point. It’s almost like being stuck in a lift, which would be a daunting task when he’s at this phase. But the serial does see a change in him occur during the second part, something I welcomed as The Doctor’s pompous attitude was starting to get tiresome. He is at his friendliest point of the past three serials, so hopefully it’s a start of things to come. The companions all do well here, though Ian in the first part sounds very wooden and like he’s reading off a script. I realise he’s meant to be in a shock phase of the events that occurred, but it just was a little off for my liking.
That being said, while the plot does get solved of what happen, it truly doesn’t explain what happened to cause everyone to behave erratically. I get that panic is one element, but where they seem to be possessed at one point, it truly doesn’t make sense of what is going on, and I’m still a little bit miffed as to why they were behaving in such a way. It might be a point I missed during the serial, but I’m still boggled by it.
That aside, this is a breakthrough serial as this is more of a serial about The TARDIS. We get some insight into how the TARDIS functions, but also discover that it is partly sentient. Now while it eventually gets established that TARDIS do live, this wasn’t established yet at this point, so The Doctor is surprised by this fact that the TARDIS is alive, so don’t let that throw you off. Amazing to think how 48 years later, we get one of the most beautiful episodes about The TARDIS that shows how their relationship is established. Naturally some continuity issues on that discovery in this serial is easy to overlook, given this is still the trial period of the show.
The serial is a little bit difficult to judge, but I think it’s a good development story for all the characters as we see breakthroughs in the show that affect the format and the characters, along with their relationships. Given it’s a short one, or rather similar length to a current series episode, it’s worth watching for seeing The Doctor change his ways as well as The TARDIS getting some focus that will be the start of a wonderful relationship that lasts for nearly 50 years on our screens.
Apologies for the delay in posting, having a full time job does take it’s toll. Unfortunately I missed out on Day 13 & 14, but Day 15 review will be up in a moment. But on with Davison’s second serial:
The TARDIS arrives on board a huge spaceship where the Doctor and his companions encounter the frog-like Urbankans and a population of human androids. The Urbankans’ leader, Monarch, is engaged in a complex scheme to plunder from Earth the raw materials needed to enable him to travel back in time and thereby confirm his belief in his own status as the universe’s divine creator. Can The Doctor stop the deluded Monarch from completing this scheme?
With the post-regeneration serial out of the way, the pace kicks up for The Doctor and his companions as free reign is given, and in similar means to The Ark in Space, we have a mystery to open up the plot, giving the Whovians familiar ground as we learn with The Doctor and co that we are dealing with something not under usual circumstances, not to mention we’re on a space station again. Obviously, the formula is a working one and continues to play as a key component to all Who stories.
Where Castrovalva didn’t give Davison much chance to shine due to the post-regeneration issue, he’s in full flow and he does shine well. He has a feel of Baker’s Doctor but with a boyish charm and I really like how he comes across in this serial. He’s clever, quick witted and it’s over the top like say one Colin Baker. He has a great sense of subtly and doesn’t come across as arrogant, using his intellect not to undermine those around him, but to aid them. We get some great performances from our adversaries in this serial, Monarch really has the workings of a madman with delusions of grandeur. I quite like his role here as he has set up a society where he is overlord and is seen as the man who unites the cultures that are on the station, effectively making him feel like a God. The setting of his domain is great because it isn’t necessarily an oppressed group that needs overflowing, but a kingdom that Monarch has set up and will stop at nothing to get his goals. I really felt he had such a charming but devious performance here and I liked him as a villain.
That being said, the one person that really got on my nerves was Adric. Up at this point, I really didn’t have much thought on Adric, he simply was there, a bit like Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. But this serial, for lack of a better phrase, he was a dick. From the go he was undermining Tegan and Nyssa, and even went beyond sexism for some of the lines he said. I know there has been an air of sexism in the early serials and older Doctors, but this one was in your face you just wanted Adric to get punched, thank goodness Tegan finally did it at one point. Furthermore, Adric was so whiny and stupid, given what he just went through with The Master in the last serial, you think all that intellect would be used when a lesser villain tricks you into thinking he’s got good intent. I don’t know if that’s an insult to Adric or a compliment to Monarch, I want to give it Monarch but Adric really does make me question that.
Right, away from that bad element and on to another good point, I really loved the showing of different cultures here. The displays of Ancient Greeks; Chinese Mandarins; Mayans and Australian Aboriginals was just great. For those who aren’t well cultured, this makes good educational viewing as you see how different cultures like these do different forms of entertainment, from fighting to dance, the variety is there and made a nice atmosphere for the serial. Given that Monarch’s goal involved having a unity between different cultures, it was something beautiful and no culture is left to one side as each one of them gets a chance to shine.
All in all, what was Davison’s first filmed serial (but was released second), Four to Doomsday is a serial truly worth watching. Davison is in full flow and gives a great performance, it’s pretty typical of a Doctor Who serial and definitely makes my top list of serials, aside from Adric, but otherwise worth watching.
Quick note first, I had to skip Day 10 due to a few personal reasons. I do plan on seeing Doctor Who and the Silurians next with Pertwee, I’ll try and fit him in when an opportunity arises. But on with Day 11 and The Ark in Space:
The TARDIS arrives on an apparently deserted and deactivated space station Nerva, otherwise known as the Ark, orbiting Earth in the far future. There the Doctor, Sarah and Harry discover the last survivors of the human race held in suspended animation, Earth having been evacuated thousands of years earlier when solar flares threatened to destroy all life. The station has been visited by a Wirrn, an insect life form, which has laid its eggs in the solar stacks and absorbed the body and mind of one of the sleeping humans. Can The Doctor and friends help stop the Wirrn from taking over before it’s too late?
If you could tell by the synopsis, this has a very Alien-esque feel to the serial as you have humans vs. an alien that creates life via feeding off of humans. The first part doesn’t fully provide this, aside from teasers, as we’re spent trying to discover more about the scenery that this serial is set, and I quite like the approach done here. So we have some teasing of a threat but educating the audience at the same time as Harry and The Doctor do, well more Harry as The Doctor is always two steps ahead. Part two is dedicated to establishing the threat of the serial, while the last two parts are the action and resolution parts. Effectively, what we have here is basis for how the current series of Who takes up within the space of 45 minutes to an hour, but with the dedicated parts used here, it does give a nice bit of pace to the mystery, keeping the audience on the edge of your seat. The process used is very much the same as The Moonbase, which saw me sing its praises and they found a good formula to reuse here.
Baker’s fully set into the role, well he was already that in his first serial, but he doesn’t have the post-regeneration burden now, he’s on free reign and is already in the form of The Doctor we love; always thinking, offering jelly babies and desperate to stop the Wirrn at all costs. This serial also offers more insight into The Doctor as to why he chooses humans as his companions and why he likes to save them as best possible, they are his favourite species. It’s a nice touch to see this acknowledged, especially when in his early days, he carried such conflict against Ian with an idea of being a superior intellect. While this holds true in some forms when paired with Harry, it’s more down to humouring The Doctor himself as opposed to being self-righteous. Already there’s so much of a difference between Hartnell and Baker’s days, though that’s down to Troughton and Pertwee forming the way, but the fact that The Doctor went from looking down on humans to having them be his favourites is a sign of long term character growth, I really commend the writers for developing The Doctor thoroughly, even with different regenerations affecting his actions and approach to different situations.
Another good point here is that there’s good chemistry between The Doctor and his companions while the humans in the Ark are unsure whether to trust them, it establishes good ground in this fight or flight situation and everyone performs well off each other, everything flows and the characters are all believable in their causes. The only downside of this serial is the cheese age factor of the Wirrn. Where I said about how Paradise Towers hasn’t aged well, that’s what happened to the Wirrn in this serial. The set up for the serial is one that doesn’t have an age factor but the fact that the alien is one made of paper mache is hard to take seriously, but this is again when the Wirrn were considered to be scary to kids then, even to some of the Doctor Who writers today. I will have to call this age factor ‘The Exorcist Age Factor’, because it is a shame how many things our parents considered scary has lost that factor due to the advancements of special effects and make up, but given this was done two years before Star Wars came out, I say good showing on Doctor Who here. I must say though, aside from the downside of the age factor of The Wirrn, it could make an interesting villain to explore once again in a future Who episode, something worth considering given how scary they were considered then, maybe it’s time for a makeover and a refresh threat from them?
All in all, The Ark in Space is a very well put together serial. It has a good mix of comedy, suspense, action and thrills to carry through all four parts. It flows very well and aside from the age factor of the special effects, a very good serial that’s worth watching. Baker shines and everyone makes a good effort here from start to finish.
Next T. Baker Episode (Wednesday): The Sontaran Experiment.
There should be no doubt that Looking for Alaska by John Green inspired my blog name, my second channel name, and basically everything that is not “Cophenalypse.” The Wednesday part comes from my being Wednesday on my first true collab channel, but that’s not really that important.
Saw the original blog post, it was such a beautiful read :).
The Cybermen, one of the most fear enemies in Doctor Who history, second only to The Daleks, and yet they still hold a presence like no other. Their first introduction was in the serial The Tenth Planet, which is also famous for the first ever regeneration, unfortunately neither were linked as The Doctor’s regeneration came off due to ill health and old age. That’s quite a situation there, out of the recurring enemies The Doctor has had, only The Master and The Rani have successfully got a regeneration out of him. The Daleks and Cybermen have only had the convenience of being the villain when the regeneration took place, not to mention the regeneration that didn’t happen. That poor little Dalek couldn’t have his day in The Stolen Earth. Nevertheless, only four serials later and we’re on today’s serial, The Moonbase, seeing their return already and establishing themselves as key villain. They will continue to appear frequently during the Second Doctor’s run as The Daleks were off on their own show around this time, so it was the turn of the Cybermen to rise.
The TARDIS arrives in 2070 AD on the Moon, where a weather control station under the command of a man named Hobson is in the grip of a plague epidemic - in reality the result of an alien poison planted by the Cybermen. Jamie is knocked unconscious and lapses into a delirium, leaving the Second Doctor, Ben, and Polly to fight off a massive Cyberman attack.
Parts One and Three are unfortunately lost, so I’m viewing half of this serial via the reconstruction methods we saw last week with Power of the Daleks, and it’s something I’ve been getting use to. I think that element definitely affected my views of that serial because on a second experience with a reconstruction, the pace is quicker for me. But anyway, the story itself is quite a good mystery turned invasion serial, all the characters here are believable, even the ones with flags on their chest to represent the stereotype of another nation are on good form. Troughton’s present as The Doctor continues to grow as he gives another great performance in a situation where he’s unsure of what’s going on. He is also clever and quick witted in the events of the situation, like when he’s been accused of causing the problems or the handling of when he’s aware of how the sickness is caused and where the Cybermen might located, really top performing here by Troughton.
One of the additional strengths of this serial is that all the characters play a role, much like how they did in last night’s serial. Polly and Ben shine in good moments, especially when wondering how to defeat the Cybermen based on their previous experience. I just love the interesting trivia that’s learnt from today’s serial is how nail polish remover can dissolve certain plastics and this proves to be an effective method on the Cybermen. For those not in the know, The Mondasian Cybermen aka the ones not from the current series are a near-organic species from Earth’s former twin planet, Mondas and because their planet had drifted from orbit, they had to convert themselves into Cyborgs to survive. If you wanted a good origin story to such a creepy set of villains, this is one of them. So that’s how the plastic came into play as they hadn’t perfected the design at that point and were not fully metallic.
While on the subject of the Cybermen, in comparison to that of from The Tenth Planet and any of the new series versions, the voice in this serial is just creepy. There is actually something threatening about the Cybermen in their tone (if you could give monotone a tone) of voice, the Cybermen of today’s best threatening power is the stamping sound of their feet. Also, these Cybermen couldn’t be killed by love but more scientific based means such as radiation. I think Stormageddon would have had some tough competition there, no matter how much of a badass he is.
All in all, this is a well put together serial. You got the mystery of the crew getting sick through devious schemes by the Cybermen, which is actually quite rare to see nowadays as they prefer to blast through your door. And they hold well in a terrorist/intimidation factor which gets everyone thinking and taking action, which is a strength in a Doctor Who episode, something that is definitely lost in the current series. I think the closest we have seen to that of late is The Doctor’s Wife but, while a fantastic episode, still runs on a Doctor saves the day practise whereas Amy and Rory are cannon fodder than taking action. But this isn’t about criticising the current product, this is about an old serial, and I say give this one a watch. As stated the first and third parts are lost and are reconstructed by independent means, but if you can get past that element, you have a good serial to enjoy.
Next Troughton Episode (Monday): Tomb of the Cybermen.
The Daleks, a race of beings that even non-Who fans are familiar with. The most feared and deadliest enemy of The Doctor that are made famous by their unique look and constant use of the word ‘Exterminate!’ Despite their overuse in the newer series, thanks to Russell T. Davies’ love for them, it’s amazing to know how far back they go, and literally to only the second ever serial in the history of Doctor Who. Devised by Terry Nation, who also wrote the serial for this one, I was always going to be excited to see their first outing. So let’s get to it:
The TARDIS arrives on the planet Skaro, ruined by an age-old atomic war. The Doctor and crew become caught in the struggle between the mutated survivors: the Daleks, ruthless xenophobes dependant on robotic travel machines, and the physically perfect pacifist Thals. When a vital component of the TARDIS is left behind in the Dalek city and facing annihilation from a Dalek neutron bomb, the Thals must be persuaded to fight both for our heroes and for their own survival.
What I can say about this serial is that this is one that has constant tension throughout the whole thing. From the moment the episode began with the radiation meter flashing off the charts to the very first appearance of our favourite pepper pot shaped villains, you are really on the edge of your seat. This would have been the feeling first time viewers had and I certainly felt the same watching this, even with the knowledge of seeing many Dalek episodes prior to this. Just a brilliant atmosphere that continues to grow and your fear of the unknown just keeps the plot moving very steadily.
While this serial introduces The Daleks, it introduces the first rule of The Doctor: The Doctor Lies. And this is a big moment in showing how much The Doctor of today has grown on the adjustment of the lies, knowing when lies are truly not worth keeping. The big one here, and this is a big plot point of the first part of the serial, he sabotages the TARDIS to get what he wants. You read that right, The Doctor’s own selfishness caused him to sabotage his TARDIS, just so he could explore a city he was curious by, and all that ended up doing was putting everyone’s lives at risk for the sake of science. It’s amazing how reckless The Doctor was in making a choice like that, only on his second serial and he’s acting, well, juvenile to the point that such an action puts everyone at risk. Given we’ve seen how much The Doctor values human life (‘Just this once, everybody lives’), this was the serial that played a role in how he changes his ways.
In relation to The Doctor, his companions, Ian, Barbara and Susan (his granddaughter) all play key parts in this serial and I really like that as a strong point. Where the previous serial saw more of an introduction where not everyone got a moment to shine, The Daleks allowed room for people to breathe and share their strengths. Given this was a serial that lasts 2 hours and 20 minutes, that’s a blessing for all of them.
With the plot itself, this is the original story that introduces the Daleks during a period where they are in conflict still with the Thals. All of this points dating back as far as we can go, and we just know that we will revisit these elements in future serials no doubt. We get a fair idea of how they operate and how different they are in comparison to the Thals. They are very intimidating, as mentioned earlier, and truly aren’t taken lightly, especially when this is the first time The Doctor has faced them. He’s only got his intellect to defeat them, he doesn’t have the knowledge or the power to know how to overcome them, so for a first time face off, it really does show how well everyone adapts to face The Daleks, even when the odds are against them.
The pace of this serial flies by and the atmosphere is as threatening as The Daleks themselves. It has a very Star Wars-esque feel to the episode where you have the occupying dominating ‘corporate’ machine of the Daleks against the less advanced and unarmed rebellion of farmers rising up against them and I really do like the examples shown in the differences between the two races and shows what lengths both sides will do to get the all important victory over the other that finishes off with a tense battle where time is running out on either side. I definitely say that this serial is worth the watch, not only because it’s the Dalek origin story, but because it’s a very well written serial at that as well. Also, if you want a good laugh, check out the scene where Ian climbs inside one of the Dalek machines, it’s a clever but hilarious moment that makes it a highlight of the serial.
Rating: Must watch.
Next Hartnell Episode (Sunday): The Edge of Destruction.
So, there has been some KOOKYPANTS adventures with the scheduling of the UK appearances … . it’s a long story that involves me, Prince Phillip, the Royal Mail, Jeremy Clarkson, seven spider monkeys, and His Royal Laminated Highness The King of Argos … but we have it all worked out now, and here is…
Just sent my RSVP to the email address. Bring on the 22nd!
It’s Saturday and week one of Doctober has come by, it’s certainly been an interesting week with first adventures for each Doctor, though today was different as it involves a second serial. This was because I had seen Slyvester McCoy’s debut serial, Time and the Rani already, it’s a serial that gets heavily criticised, but that was one I enjoyed, but that is for another post. Today we go on to Paradise Towers, which features special guest star Richard Briars, a man who is famous for playing Tom Good in The Good Life, a show that’s worth a watch actually. Anyway, on with the synopsis:
Paradise Towers, a utopian blueprint for community living with its fabulous architecture, is the perfect place for Mel to take a leisurely swim, in fact. But when the TARDIS arrives, the Doctor and Mel discover that the futuristic tower block has fallen into ruin, and a series of unexplained disappearances have the tenants living in fear. As gangs of teenage girls run wild in the hallways, a squad of bureaucratic Caretakers struggle to retain control. To keep the citizens of Paradise Towers safe, the Doctor must confront the resident evil lurking in the basement…
There’s no denying it, Paradise Towers hasn’t aged well for a Classic Who serial. While there are many serials would appear ageless, such as Genesis of the Daleks or The Caves of Androzani, it wasn’t the same for this one. What would be considered tense and scary back then is heavily cheesy to us now. Bit like how The Exorcist has loss its scare factor over the decades since its original release in 1973. That doesn’t necessarily make it a bad serial, it’s just a fine line whether to take certain moments serious or start laughing at how bad it looks in comparison to now. That aside, the serial doesn’t start off necessarily well, but it does get better as it goes, which I would put two credits to that; one, Sylvester McCoy; two, when the serial made the right choices to remove the bad elements causing further damage, though some may consider it was too late at times.
The main things that bothered me the most about this serial were these points. The Kangs; I understand they were trying to be like a Lost Boys turf war element, but the way they spoke make me wonder whether the rise of the chavs in the UK gets credited to them through their abuse of the English language here. Furthermore, for those that seem to be uneducated, they seem to work the school bullying factor well with teasing that I haven’t recalled since I was at primary school. For a group of teenage rebels, this just shows, much like the serial, you choose to act childish, don’t expect me to take you seriously. Next, Tilda and Tabby; their scenes made me think that I was watching something else like Keeping up Appearances, scenes like the ones they featured in do not belong on Doctor Who, it doesn’t advanced the plot, it just gives Mel something to do because face it, she’s useless. But just the fact that, I don’t know if they’re aliens or not, but cannibal old ladies? Really? Sweet jeez, I welcomed their death in Part 3, it gave me some hope. Finally, Mel; in the two serials I’ve seen with her, she has the habit of separating herself from The Doctor for most of the serial and almost gets killed. Now I know this a cliché of Doctor Who, but Mel doesn’t benefit The Doctor as the companion. She doesn’t do investigating or aids The Doctor with a second opinion, but more runs into trouble for the sake of it, making her one of the worst companions I’ve seen in the show.
Major criticisms aside, I’ve got to give my kudos to McCoy and Briars for great performances throughout the serial. However, when Briar’s character gets possessed by Kroagnon, he speaks like zombie and I was just finding it hard to take his threats seriously with the way he was speaking, like this example here:
Kroagnon: The whole is polluted with flesh, living flesh.
Deputy: Flesh? Did you say living flesh?
Taken out of context, I was laughing at the hilarity of moments like that, I was putting them on repeat. Not to mention, that his death scene, sorry for the spoilers, but it was one of the most hilarious I’ve seen. Whilst it was a noble death of a character who basically was the equivalent of Arnold Rimmer trying to be like Ace, it was so hilarious that again, I felt the serial was making up the earlier errors to me with some comedy. McCoy, on the other hand, handles himself well and carries the scenes with some dignity. Once again, I saw influences that would shape up to Matt Smith’s Doctor and I do enjoy McCoy as The Doctor, just he had a hard serial to carry when the scenes that didn’t involve him or Briars didn’t advance the plot.
Paradise Towers is a far from perfect serial, it has some elements that The God Complex uses so you will get some comparisons there. But the issue that this and a number of McCoy’s first season serials had was that they didn’t age well. Mel is an awful companion, and she would soon get replaced by Ace, a welcome relief. If I could describe this serial in a nutshell, it’s like taking a B-Movie type of form, mixed with a little Grange Hill. As said, it slowly got better but the age factor makes it more light relief for seeing how cheesy it truly did get. There’s only four parts, so it doesn’t drag out and once you got past the second part, the pace picks up. I would say it’s more of a silly serial that is passable but worth it if you want some cheap laughs.
Rating: Best to skip, unless you want some laughs.
Next McCoy Episode (Saturday): Delta and the Bannermen.
Before I get into this, I was watching a review of Power of the Daleks by SF Debris, one of my favourite sci-fi reviewers, and he raised a number of points that I didn’t consider heavily when thinking about the serial. After some serious thinking, I think I was a little too harsh on it, especially given how valued it is. I think the set up for a lost serial can be seemed as non-engaging due to audio and clips only, but it’s worth a watch. The irony of this situation was when watching the review, he made mention of The Twin Dilemma, and bells started ringing. This wasn’t going to be a good day for Doctober was it? Many consider the era of Colin Baker to be the start of the downfall for the origin run. Now when I woke up this morning, I had only seem The Mark of The Rani and small segments of Trial of a Time Lord, and I thought they were enjoyable. But as I did some researching about the serial for today, it was not looking good. It really didn’t aid the situation, knowing I was going to watch the serial that was considered the worst ever in the history of Doctor Who. Some would consider that irony given the The Caves of Androzani, the previous serial, was named the best of the lot. At least Peter Davison could say he left on a high.
In a post-regenerative crisis, the Sixth Doctor takes Peri to the desolate asteroid Titan 3 planning to stay there as a hermit for 1000 years. However, he is soon drawn into a plot to conquer the galaxy by a race of giant gastropods.
So for his first adventure, he takes on some giant slugs. Oh boy. I really don’t know where to begin with this one. The plot was so uninteresting and had no thorough direction. All I kept asking, aside from “Make it stop” were; Why are these twins kidnapped? Why are they here? Why?!! It was honestly so bad at keeping my attention that I would have to take five minute breaks between each part just to make sure I was awake or still sane. I think it’s because nothing works here, how can different homosapien races fall under control of a slug? I don’t care about the mind control element, but with the ease of how The Doctor disposed of him, it makes everyone seem pathetic that they didn’t rebel against one slug.
As for Colin Baker’s first run as The Doctor, well, all of the stuff we saw with Pertwee, Tom Baker and Davison about needing rest first got thrown out of the window. He was so erratic that I just couldn’t take him seriously. He was meant to go back to the days of the First Doctor in his approach, but it’s like he’s acting like he doesn’t want to be liked, but not in a convincing way. It’s more like he’s going; “I’m not likeable, do you accept?” “No.” “Well, you’re going to find me unlikeable anyway!” Honestly, all I kept thinking was that William Shatner could have been offered this role and turned it down because even he knows when he’s faking being so pompous and centre of attention. He wasn’t actually offered the role of being The Doctor, just for clarity, I was making a point. All it was doing was reminding me that he’s a changed man and different from the previous incarnations and that I would have to deal with it. I’m sorry Colin, you may begin to improve in time, but you really made me dislike you as an actor than as The Doctor.
For those who watch New Who and are taking part in Doctober, let me try and make this one clear. Russell T. Davies has brought out some bad episodes, there’s no denying it. But at least when he did, Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant were on call to help give something worthwhile about the episode. The reason why The Twin Dilemma fails so badly is that the plot and The Doctor’s behaviour contrive to it. An episode will be bad due to bad writing and you could sometimes get away with a good performance of the cast, but when the episode fails and the cast put on performances so uninteresting, you have no chance of saving this serial. Colin Baker falls flat on his face out when trying to jump the first hurdle, and it’s going to be a long way back up. I know he did make some recovery and people felt his time was cut short due to the evil producer takeover that eventually happened, but when your best player, the title character, of the show plays a big role in the downfall of his debut serial, you can never get over that.
In short, this serial truly needs skipping over, regardless of being a post-regeneration serial, it is truly bad. I would like to put this in the place where I put The Matrix sequels I like to call Itneverhappenedland, but this was too painful to watch that I don’t think I could put it there. I do expect things to improve with Colin Baker with three remaining serials of the month, but Friday’s do not look to be good so far.
Rating: Do Not Watch. Unless you want to prove to yourself that Russell T. Davies did better than this.
Next C. Baker Episode (Friday): Attack of the Cybermen
It’s January 12th 1982, just under 11 months since Tom Baker’s final outing after seven years of being The Doctor. The question that’s being heavily asked of his successor, Peter Davison, does he have what takes to succeed a man who’s established himself as the icon role of The Doctor? The question would finally get answered on this date as Davison’s long hard battle would begin at this point. And to many, they say he succeeded, he’s the favourite for David Tennant and Steven Moffat, among others. But today, we focus on that debut serial, how did the change occur? Before I cover the synopsis, the key thing with this serial is that it forms part of a loose arc trilogy with Keeper of the Traken & Logopolis, the previous two episodes that took place before Castrovalva. I figured the best thing to do before Doctober started was was to watch these episodes in preparation for this one, and I made a right choice here. I’ll get more into that later, but here’s the synopsis:
The newly regenerated Doctor is in a vulnerable state, and the Master has escaped after the events of Logopolis. His regeneration failing, the Doctor and his companions go to the city of Castrovalva to let him recover, but a trap waits for them there.
The state of The Doctor, post-regeneration, has only been covered once and that was in Spearhead from Space, he was tired, worn down, deluded and vulnerable. The regeneration process is one that was starting to get some ground, but we never get a story dedicated to how The Doctor personally has to deal with this ordeal until now. We learn in this episode that the most dangerous period facing a Time Lord is getting through the final stages; the transformation seems almost easy, the hardest part is the adjustment. And this is also the first time a regeneration is taking place during the events of a major storyline and with The Master involved, that isn’t a good thing for The Doctor here.
Another question that gets solved with this episode is how do the companions cope when it comes to controlling the TARDIS without The Doctor there to help. At this point, the companions are; Adris, a stowaway but an alien boy-genius; Nyssa, a Traken girl who first appears in the Keeper of Traken and becomes a companion due to the events that took place there and followed in Logopolis; and Tegan, an Australian airline stewardess who gets into the TARDIS by accident during Logopolis and ends up being a companion. So that’s a stowaway, and two girls there by circumstances in the last episode. During this episode, Adris is held hostage by The Master, so the newest pair of companions are the ones who have to cope without The Doctor, or at least try their best to. Now I give Tegan and Nyssa credit for their determination, but they truly are incompetent as they try to aid the situation. But they probably cause more damage through what they do on top of lacking the use logic at times, they make the Chuckle Brothers’ potential to be companions likely. I’m trying my best to be fair on them and I do realise that Tegan becomes the longest serving continuous companion, but for only their second outing, they really come off as rude, ungrateful and a danger to themselves and others from their attitude and lack of thinking.
So onto Davison as The Doctor, how does he fare here? Truth is that he’s in a similar position to David Tennant’s debut, where he’s more going through the motions of the post-regeneration cycle, so he’s not getting the full chance to shine here. However, in this serial, he does very well to portray the dangers of a post-regeneration cycle and really does make you fear for his life while having some humorous moments, from ripping up Baker’s old clothes to being carried in a small white box that will help him heal. While this isn’t going to be the strongest outing for Davison as this isn’t The Doctor at 100%, he plays a Doctor at 40% health with 100% dedication and really makes this worthwhile. So to do well when a. You’re following Tom Baker b. You’re not featured much in the serial c. Your character isn’t at 100%, gives you extra credit and Davison really does very well here. So he shows promise when he will be fully fit in the next serial, facing someone different from The Master.
Speaking of The Master himself, this trilogy really is one of his finest outings and I give most of that credit to Anthony Ainley. Is there anything he can’t do? He carries such a menace and two-face factor that trusting him with your wallet is the last thing you ever want to do. Having seen a number of The Master episodes with Ainley, who is the longest serving Master, I have to truly say that to me, he is the true image of The Master. John Simms has done some fantastic work in the space of 4 episodes in the new series, but he truly doesn’t hold a candle to Ainley. If you truly want a sinister villain, Ainley was your man. I think half the times I’ve seen Ainley, I end up wanting to route for him because of how sinister and clever he is. A powerful villain is one that makes you sometimes wish he gets the win in every now and then, and technically he did as he was the reason for the Doctor’s fourth regeneration. Again, in comparison to the other regular villains of the show, Ainley’s Master already trumps them as he got a regeneration out of The Doctor. And yes, I’m excluding that Dalek shooting in The Stolen Earth, couldn’t let that little Dalek win there Mr. Davies now could you?
Castrovalva as a serial is really well structured and gives us a really good and complex story with Davison and Ainley giving us some good performances. Looking past the incompetence and rudeness of Tegan and Nyssa, the episode does well for the final part of this trilogy with The Master. It offers us something new with a closer look at the regeneration process on top of how sinister The Master can get. The plot is clever as it unravels itself along the way and keeps the audience on their toes and second guessing what will happen next. A good episode, while Pertwee and Baker got to shine properly in their debuts, Davison made the most with restrictions this episode gave his Doctor. I do recommend watching this with Keeper of Traken and Logopolis though because it’s not fully outstanding by itself and does rely on knowing the events of the previous two serials beforehand.
Rating: Worth Watching (but watch Keeper of Traken and Logopolis first)
After yesterday’s badassery of Jon Pertwee, I thought this serial might have a lot to go against it. But then this is the first serial of the man they consider the best Doctor of all time, Tom Baker. That debate is another one left for another time, though seven years dedication and making the series what it was really shows how much of an impact Baker had. I do feel that while Pertwee took the Doctor to new heights, Baker raised the bar again and maintained that. But let’s look at his first outing, taking on a robot no doubt.
In the wake of his third regeneration, The Doctor’s recuperation is cut short as UNIT investigate a spate of robberies involving components for a top-secret disintegrator gun. The culprit is quickly identified as a highly sophisticated robot built by Professor Kettlewell, which is being ordered to act against its Prime Directive. Just how is the robot being used to carry out the sinister agenda of the Scientific Reform Society? And can the Doctor rescue Sarah from the robot’s clutches and avert a nuclear war?
This serial could be called a tragic story, and this is a usual case for many plots involving artificial intelligence. The traditional plot devices of a robot coming to terms with its prime directive of not killing humans and then forced against its will is a storyline that never gets old because we fear what we don’t understand. From Frankenstein’s Monster, to Pinocchio, to King Kong, to Johnny Five; K1 is no different to any of these and falls into the tragedy that we are all so use to. That’s really at best what to cover about the plot, but there are other areas to comment on here beyond the plot itself. K1 was rather impressive as a robot for the time period and certainly knew how to pack a punch, but I definitely feel watching his story is better than my words describing it.
The villainous group of this serial, the Scientific Reform Society, really are quite sinister and I put this down to the performances of the actors here. It’s quite rare to see the villains a collective of humans wishing for world domination. Granted we witnessed Torchwood play some role in the newer series, but they were more Men in Black when it came to aliens. The SRS is a situation where elitists wish to leave their mark on the world by wiping out those below them. But this is a true situation where despite the title character being more of the focus, we haven’t seen much of the Doctor trying to solve a conflict between humans often, much less resolve a terrorist threat. I wonder how Steven Moffat could do something around this, how would The Doctor react now to such ways?
Speaking of The Doctor himself, there’s no denying it, Tom Baker stole every scene with his eccentric behaviour. From the introduction of the outfit trying scenes, which not many Doctors have come close about how alien this is for The Doctor when dressing appropriately without attracting attention (McCoy is really only the second closest). Baker comes out in a Viking outfit and assumes this is ok to wear, this already shows why Baker stood out, he brought the alien factor into his performance. Where Pertwee was pretty much a badass from the go by bringing an action hero out of The Doctor, almost making him human somewhat, Baker brought back the alien factor from Troughton here. That comparison is pretty much what my feelings were from Tennant to Smith, where Tennant was too human for my liking (no denying he’s a great actor), Smith brought the alien factor back in again, you can definitely see some inspiration for his Doctor here. Baker really just makes the Doctor awesome for using his intelligence and quick wit, it already shows why he was popular from the go.
Speaking of popular, we have his current companion that carried over from Pertwee, sweet dear Sarah Jane Smith. I think there’s little to say about how brilliant she is as a companion, effectively making the mould that the likes of Rose Tyler and Amy Pond, among others, form out of. She’s a damsel in distress at times, but brings intelligence, actions, sometimes recklessness, but also a human factor to keep The Doctor back down on earth. It’s easy to see why Sarah Jane’s popularity carried over, much like why people love Rose and Amy. They’re strong characters who will face fear but will still be themselves, finding good where others can’t and share kindness if given the opportunity. Dear Sarah Jane, you truly were one of a kind.
When thinking about this episode, this did remind me of Dalek quite a lot. No doubt their stories are similar in the form of the tragic robot story and obviously there is a lot of difference in the plots and robots involved, but they are closely linked. If you enjoyed Dalek, one of my favourites from New Who, then Robot is another episode you will like for certain. A moving plot; some silly 70s action such as soldiers firing at hostages or when told to fall back (tsk, tsk); Tom Baker on fine form and Sarah Jane/The Brigadier aiding the cause in their great ways. Robot does give Baker some momentum to get going, but it’s more the performances and small moments that will be remembered more than the episode here.
Rating: Worth Watching
Next T. Baker Episode (Wednesday): The Ark in Space
Jon Pertwee arrives in his debut episode, Spearhead from Space. But before I continue, here’s the synopsis:
Exiled to Earth in the late 20th Century and forbidden to continue travelling by his own people the Time Lords, the newly regenerated Doctor arrives in Oxley Woods alongside a shower of mysterious meteorites. Reuniting with UNIT and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, they investigate the mystery behind people and meteorites going missing, all of this suspiciously happening around a nearby plastics factory.
I think the first thing I have to truly cover more than anything is how much of a badass Jon Pertwee is! I’m serious! He’s a non-stop 70s action hero that makes T.J. Hooker like a stereotype doughnut eating cop. From the word go, he steals every scene he’s in and that’s before he’s even escaping a kidnap attempt via the means of a wheelchair with his mouth taped shut! Already within the space of twenty minutes of screen time, he’s outdone Hartnell and Troughton in the action department. And this is only one example, here’s one of my favourite quotes (nearly word to word) of what he says to a UNIT security guard who doesn’t utter a word back to our dear Doctor:
Alright, alright. I suppose you want to see my pass, well I haven’t got one. And I’m not going to tell you my name, either. Just go and tell Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart that I want to see him. Well just don’t stand there arguing with me man, get on with it!
As said, The Doctor’s exile has turned him into a badass. This episode even introduces the trend of “borrowing” clothes from a hospital he’s been in. He really does have a habit of taking clothes from others when he has a wardrobe that makes anyone jealous at his disposal. He even steals a car, and the best part is that it’s in obvious 70s fashion, steal the most obvious car for him to steal. He also introduces the ‘John Smith’ alias he uses to this day. If all this action from Pertwee isn’t enough to convince you to start watching him, then continue to read on.
Now effectively, this story is the origin story to Rose, and I mean in terms of the Autons and Nestene Consciousness. And in comparison to the mentioned episode, despite being broadcast 35 years prior, this episode does a better job than Rose in giving such an intimidation factor. Had I not realised these were a Classic Villain that was deemed popular, I would still think the Autons/Nestene were the worst enemies devised by Russell T. Davies, when all he did was take a great adversary and made them look inferior in comparison. If Jon Pertwee was a 70s actions hero, then his opponents for this episode were portrayed in a Terminator/Skynet fashion. I’m serious, they really were intimidating and they actually killed people in this episode, this episode puts them on the same level as the Daleks and Cybermen for intimidation factor. This adds so much to an episode that marks the debut of Doctor Who in colour and already ups the pace of how episodes played out. Where Power of the Daleks yesterday really did drag at times, Spearhead from Space flowed by and this shows that the series had finally found its feet for pacing as this continues throughout the series onwards to the current format of today. There’s action, mystery, comedy and fear, all the good parts of a great episode.
Companion wise, obviously, the Brigadier is a much loved character, that goes without saying. With Liz, I quickly grew to like her as a companion. She’s a scientist and while doesn’t believe The Doctor at first, she does have the attitudes of going the distance to aid him. That this is a companion we haven’t seen in a while, especially when The Doctor is now in the thick of the action, we haven’t see a companion who steps back and uses their brain to aid The Doctor rather than assume the worst and know The Doctor will save you. If anything, Liz is a good companion and another reason to be watching Season 7 alone. I really do hope in the future, they bring back another companion in the mould of her because it’s a unique type of companion that has lacked heavily since the show was revived.
I don’t think there’s much more I can say really, I’ve really sung the praises of this episode and don’t think there’s more I can add, except for watch out for one of the most hilarious sequences in Part 4. When you see it, you know what I’m talking about. Back then, it would be considered chilling, but that’s the beauty of 70s television, it was epic then, but cheesy now. But otherwise, a brilliant episode and Pertwee has an outstanding debut, outshining his predecessors in just one episode; a feeling that I felt with Matt Smith in The Eleventh Hour.
Rating: Must Watch
Next Pertwee Episode (Tuesday): Doctor Who and the Silurians.
Day Two and it’s Patrick Troughton’s turn. Having seen The Invasion before, I was quite impressed with his incarnation of the Doctor, so he definitely one of the classic Doctors that I would be most looking forward to. And where better to start than his first ever serial, The Power of the Daleks? Now before you ask, all six parts of this serial form part of the missing 108 episodes, so how did I watch it? Well thanks to fans of the time, all episodes exist in audio format. Now there’s only some footage and a collection of stills available, but with this combined with the audio, it made an attempt to be a close enough representation of the episode. Granted there are some flaws with this method, but it works enough. I thank all the fans of the past who have been involved in trying to restore whatever possible out of the missing 108 so fans of today can at least get some experience out of the episodes we will never see completely. Now onto the summary:
Ben and Polly have just witnessed The Doctor collapse and change his appearance, Polly is convinced he’s still The Doctor but Ben thinks it’s an imposter. While having to deal with his identity issue, the TARDIS lands on the planet Vulcan, where they discover a murdered examiner is the start of a mystery behind what’s going on at the human colony there. Some of which involving some of The Doctor’s most feared enemy.
The Power of the Daleks works really well as it runs with two plots that compliment each other, one being a murder mystery, the other being a scientist discovering Daleks and helping to bring them back to live to help aid the colony. Now the second plot sounds familiar, because it effective got repeated in Victory of the Daleks in their last outing in the current series. Whether this was as a tribute to this lost serial is unknown, but it’s likely.
The Daleks really take a step forward with showing how cunning they are (I’ll be seeing their debut episode in 6 days time), the fact that they are brought up to be slaves but have a hidden agenda, like always, and only The Doctor can see beyond that. Somewhat of a stable with Dalek plots but it works nonetheless as this has been repeated before. The Daleks really work with the audience because they are so simple with their agenda and you know the moment one appears, trouble is afoot. They really serve the plot of the murder mystery and rebel threat well as they try to be used a plot device by the colonist, when the Daleks had been playing them all along. The irony of the situation is that the Daleks question humans killing one another, yet in years to come, they would be repeating similar actions themselves and having civil wars between them. It’s fascinating how far the Daleks have come since this episode.
With issue of the first regeneration (this hadn’t received a name until Jon Pertwee regenerated into Tom Baker), Polly and Ben represent the audience at this current time, divided as to whether The Doctor is really him or been replaced by an imposter. This was new ground at the time for the show as the alien element of The Doctor allowed them to continue the show while removing William Hartnell from the role due to declining health. Despite a lack of a visual performance, Troughton really does handle the issue of coping with his regeneration and the questions regarding him being the actual Doctor very well, while also solving the mystery behind the colony problems and murder. Immediately, we are introduced to seeing a behaviour change, something that we see often now when regenerations occur, but Troughton truly does set the mark with a fantastic performance here.
For Power of the Daleks, the episode really does stand well. The only issue is that where it spans 6 episodes and about 2 hours to watch, the fact that a number of the plot devices have been repeated in a smaller time frame in later episodes does diminish the impact this episode has, not to mention the element of it being missing. The key selling points of this episode are this being Patrick Troughton’s first ever serial and the introduction of the plot points with Daleks that will get seen again later. Now not many people will be willing to sit through the reconstruction that was put together from the available resources and they may get a slight headache from the inaudible multiple Dalek chants (it is that bad). I would say it’s an episode that is a loss to Patrick Troughton than a loss to the Daleks themselves.
Rating: Recommend only for seeing Troughton’s debut
Upon realizing we have to wait an entire year for another episode:
When people ask why we’re so depressed:
Then take part in the Doctober Challenge. There’s so much of Classic Who that people are not watching, fill that void with episodes you SHOULD be watching. It’s not all about Eccleston, Tennant and Smith, there are 8 other Doctors before them.
So Doctoberhas arrived! After Series 6/Season 32 went off in style (no spoilers), I start off the Doctober challenge with going back to the very beginning and watching the first ever serial, An Unearthly Child.
Two teachers, Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton, are rather concerned about one of their students, Susan Foreman, who has a very alien outlook on England, history and science. They look to investigate the mystery surrounding her and her grandfather, a Doctor, only to find themselves going back in time and finding out there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to this unearthly pair.
An Unearthly Child really tells us two different stories here, but where one reaches a conclusion in this four part arc, the other story set in motion is one for the overall series. I must say that for a debut serial, this did come across rather well; good acting and chemistry between the key characters, a nice alien feel about The Doctor and his granddaughter Susan. Nothing is given all at once, the audience is taken into the perspective of Ian and Barbara, that we are learning with them all that is going on and this makes for a good show as it doesn’t give everything away, we have to learn as we go and the question that Barbara and Ian share with the audience is, “Is this all real? Do we believe The Doctor?” It’s amazing to see how when so use to the relationship The Doctor has with his human companions from Eccleston onwards (and other Doctors but I’ve seen all of the current series in comparison to about 10 of the Classic Series). Back then, humans were meddling and a second thought to The Doctor, they were inferior, but they show their quality and add compassion and resourcefulness, which is why they travel with him, they bring the best out of him.
The only major criticism of this first serial is that the cavemen in Parts 2 and 3 really drag the momentum down and do get rather tedious at times. I have read that the history serials in general, while educational, lacked in quality which is why they were dropped eventually, and An Unearthly Child already shows this flaw. Part 1 starts off strong with the main story and Part 4 regains the momentum that the middle chapters lose. I do feel that this serial is a vital one to watch because it is the first ever one of Doctor Who. But if you can endure the cavemen segments and keep good attention on the relationship with the 4 time travellers, you will get past the low points and see this all the way through.
Rating: Recommended Viewing
Next Hartnell Episode (Sunday): The Daleks
Tomorrow (Troughton): Power of the Daleks, his debut serial, a lost episode that was mildly restored thanks to Loose Cannon.