Tag Archives: Doctor Who

Doctor Who Serial 052 – Doctor Who and the Silurians

Synopsis: UNIT is called to a nuclear power station which is losing power. They find Silurians are waking up, a biped lizard people from Earth’s past.

This is a very interesting episode, mostly because The Doctor is convinced the Silurian people and the Humans can coexist on Earth together. UNIT however is reacting militarily, and some scientists from the power station just don’t believe they exist.

The problem is that the story is seven episodes long. It takes forever for anything interesting to happen, and by forever, I mean three episodes. The first three episodes plod along without creating any interest for the viewer. This is why it has been two weeks since the last Doctor Who entry on this site. I haven’t had any interest in watching this story.

Once you finally get into the story, things move along quickly and excitingly. The story raises some interesting questions, and turns the idea of aliens=monsters on its head.

The format is almost identical to the Matt Smith episodes “The Hungary Earth”/”Cold Blood” but writer Chris Chibnall was better able to condense the story into two episodes.

Doctor Who Serial 051 – Spearhead From Space

Synopsis: The Doctor, having just regenerated, finds himself on exiled on Earth helping UNIT. Strange objects have fallen from the sky, as a forerunner for the Nestines to conquer Earth.

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Hello Jon Pertwee.

Though most of episode one has The Doctor unconscious, we quickly get a good idea of who The Doctor is now. He’s tricky, he’s clever, and he loves a bit of action.

We get reintroduced to UNIT who are investigating falling meteorite, they also find the unconscious Doctor along with the TARDIS. This gets Brigadier General Lethbridge-Stewart excited, thinking The Doctor has returned. He finds out about this while interviewing a young woman named Liz Shaw, so he brings her with.

Sadly, the man in the hospital bed does not look like The Doctor, but he recognizes Lethbridge-Stewart.

We learn The Doctor has two hearts for the first time.

The Doctor gets kidnapped by some strangers, but quickly breaks free, and tries to get to the TARDIS, only to be shot by the UNIT guards.

They take The Doctor back to the hospital where the physician says, “He’s more unconscious than anyone I’ve ever seen!” Which is the most amazing line of dialogue, ever.

In an excellent scene, The Doctor hides from the hospitals doctors in the staff room then steals clothing from them. This scene will be riffed upon in “The Eleventh Hour.”

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The production quality is vastly different than the previous seasons. They reduced the number of episodes from forty-something to a more manageable twenty-something. This serial, is a bit unique in that it was completely filmed on location on film. Usually Doctor Who has a few scenes filmed on location on 16mm, and the rest is video taped in studio. This makes for a very drastic change in Doctor Who.

The mystery of the fallen spheres takes a back seat to reintroducing The Doctor, Lethbridge-Stewart, and introducing Liz Shaw.

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Creepy dude is creepy.

Episode four seems to finally get into the plot, where the plastics company is making models for Madame Tussaud’s, oddly though of top civil servants, not of famous people.

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Perhaps what make Jon Pertwee so great of a Doctor is the elasticity of his face. He’s able to bring a great level of comedy to Doctor Who.

The comparisons to “Rose” are really easy. Both Spearhead From Space and “Rose” are the start of a new era of Doctor Who. Both feature the same baddies and have shop window dummies go on a killing spree. In both stories we have to learn to love a new Doctor. I think in some ways “Rose” is better, and in other Spearhead From Space is better.

I don’t know if there’s a lot of comparison between Christopher Eccelston’s version of The Doctor and Jon Pertwee’s. Eccelston plays a damaged man who is looking for a bit of fun. Pertwee is trying to remember who he is, and hoping to run away.

In the end, these are two great Doctor Who stories.

Doctor Who Serial 050 – The War Games

Synopsis: The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe arrive in a world divided into wars with Roman, Greek, Crimean War, First World War, Peninsular War, American Civil War, Mexican Civil War, English Civil War, Thirty-Years War, Boer War, and Russo-Japanese War all represented. The Doctor has to figure out how all these time periods can exist together.

The War Games is the final Doctor Who serial starring Patrick Troughton, Wendy Padbury, and Frazer Hines. It is the final story of the sixth season. It is the final story in black and white. It is the final story of the 1960s.

It is ten parts.

As soon as the TARDIS lands, they walk up a hill and find themselves in the middle of a barrage in World War I.  They quickly get captured by Germans. Just as quickly they get rescued by some British soldiers who take over the hijacked ambulance on foot.

Jamie, who is from Earth’s past asks what they are fighting for in this war. The Doctor replies, “I think it was the war to end all wars.” I think the real answer is “absolutely nothing. Death and destruction with no reason or rhyme.”

The Doctor and his companions are sent to General Smythe who has to be the creepiest dude, ever. He starts talking into his mirror and reporting from the “1917 zone” requesting another 5000 specimens.

The Doctor is tried for espionage and sentenced to death. In the most cliché cliffhanger, in an era of cliché cliffhangers, we see The Doctor about to be executed when suddenly the Germans ambush the British.

Then a TARDIS appears in General Smythe’s office. What can be happening?!?!?!

Meanwhile, Jamie is imprisoned for abandoning the Highlander regiment, where he encounters a red coat who thinks it’s 1745. Something wonky is going on.

They all escape and find themselves under fire from General Smythe’s troops. The enter some fog at the border of the map and find themselves facing a troop of Roman soldiers charging at them as they panic to get the ambulance started again. End of episode two.

They then reverse back into World War I… really? That’s the resolution? And now The Doctor is providing everyone with exposition.

“Perhaps I can pick this lock.” The Doctor should be using his sonic screwdriver.

They get captured again, this time by the Germans. Whomp whomp.

The Doctor just used the sonic screwdriver as a… wait for it… screwdriver.

The Germans have an equivalent to Smythe, he’s as melodramatic, except he wears a monocle… he’s a hipster!

We quickly meet the War Chief and see the operations outside of the war zones. The War Chief is intrigued by these renegades who claim to be time travellers. They send the troops after them, while The Doctor and crew cross another border into the American Civil War.

That definitely sounds like a TARDIS replenishing the troops. “So many of them, that thing must be bigger on the inside just like the TARDIS.” Oh shit it just disappeared with The Doctor and Zoe inside, leaving Jamie and Lady Jennifer in the 1860s.

I love how uncomfortable The Doctor is at the thought of meeting his own people. It’s been six years, and we’ve had nary a word about them1.

OH MY GOD I WANT THOSE SPECS!

Oh snap! There’s a resistance! They know what’s going on, and they’re going to stop it! Not only that, he’s a tough talking straight shooter! Oh yeah!

Oh, so much exposition! How to give exposition? Put your heroes into an evil-university setting.

Yes! The War Chief and The Doctor recognize each other!

They mentioned the Time Lords for the first time ever in Doctor Who. The Time Lords being The Doctor’s species.

This story is quite long at ten parts, and it is a lot of being captured and escaping. Over and over and over again.

They hide in one of the TARDISes so the War Lord makes the inside smaller than the outside, crushing The Doctor… perhaps the best of the cliffhangers.

I don’t think that it works to have a superior baddy who is not seen but heard of here. The War Lord would make a decent baddy, but The War Chief is this supposed threat, that I don’t feel.

Is that Steve Jobs?

Zoe and Jamie lead the rebellion, to great success.

The Doctor and the rebels are able to retake the base! WOO! Except he can’t get all the innocent humans home.

The Doctor does the one thing he’s most reluctant to do, he calls the Time Lords for help.

The ninth episode ends with The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe making a break for the TARDIS in the hopes of leaving before the Time Lords arrive.

As the tenth episode opens, they obvious succeed… wait no, that’s not right. They fail.

We finally get our first view of Gallifrey2 as The Doctor faces his trial.

The Time Lords return Jamie and Zoe to their own times, it’s a sad farewell to two of the best companions.

The Time Lords decide to exile The Doctor on Earth in the 20th century.

“Your appearance has changed before, it can change again.”

Part of their punishment is to regenerate The Doctor once again. We don’t get to see The Doctor finish his regeneration as the credits role.

Goodbye Patrick Troughton, Frazer Hines, and Wendy Padbury.

  1. With the exception of his granddaughter, and the meddling Monk. []
  2. Though not named. []

Doctor Who Serial 046 – The Invasion

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Synopsis: The Doctor and company land on Earth, it has been some time since they met Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, he is now promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, and in command of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, also known as UNIT. An electronics manufacturer is appears to be responsible for some missing people, The Doctor and his companions go looking for answers, and it turns out UNIT is investigating the same thing.

The CEO of the electronics company is a creepy and slimey man who is talking to some unknown forced on the other side of the moon. He is plotting to take over the world, so are the alien force, but the CEO feels he can keep them at bay after he’s used the alien forces for is own good.

At the end of the fourth episode we learn who the aliens are…

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Yup, it’s the Cybermen. Dum, dum, dum!

The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe are of course worried. They’ve encountered the Cybermen and know the true danger they possess. They meet a young photographer who quickly bonds with Zoe. Zoe and Isobel decide to go after the Cybermen with Isobel’s camera to prove the existence of these creatures, and gain evidence to get full support from UNIT in Geneva. Of course the girls get into trouble. They are girls, after all.

They briefly use Zoe’s vast intelligence in the episode, but to undo any notion of feminism in the show, a UNIT officer asks, “Can we keep her? She’s much prettier than a computer.” The G4 Cube hadn’t been invented yet.

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My biggest complaint would be that The Doctor and Jamie don’t know what a canoe is… this is not a canoe.

Overall, it’s a really fun story, it drags at points, as any 8-part story would, but it’s damn enjoyable. Also, The Doctor dodges Cyberman weapon fire in a most comedic fashion.

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Doctor Who Serial 045 – The Mind Robber

Another day, another Doctor Who serial.

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Synopsis: In a quick getaway from the erupting volcano from the previous serial, the TARDIS finds itself outside normal space-time. The Doctor and crew are being pitted against fictitious characters, as the author of their doom tries to ensnare The Doctor to award himself freedom.

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The episode starts off with the TARDIS flying apart as Jamie and Zoe cling to the console for dear life. The episode also begins with Zoe’s bum.

They face Medusa, a unicorn, a minotaur, and even Karkus, a comic book character from the distant future, the year 2000. Zoe kicks his ass.

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One of the stranger aspects of this episode was, that to give Frazer Hines some time off, they made The Doctor solve a puzzle to help Jamie, but he mismatches Jamie’s face, and thus Hamish Wilson plays Jamie for two episodes of the five.

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This is actually a fun little story, but nothing spectacular. The Doctor almost takes a back seat to his companions, and that an interesting dynamic with Jamie and Zoe.

Doctor Who Serial 044 – The Dominators

Synopsis: The Doctor finds himself on a peaceful planet with Zoe and Jamie. They encounter a scientific expedition, and some aliens called The Dominators who want to enslave the local population while destroying the planet.

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In the previous story, The Doctor, in our future, encountered a nice young scientist named Zoe. He invited her to join him on his journey. This is the first surviving story with Zoe in it, and she joins Jamie to become the best companion pair (perhaps until Rory and Amy).

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The Dominators have a terrible fashion sense, but create adorable robots named Quarks. No relation to the bartender.

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The robots might be adorable, but they’re not intimidating, and they are a tad too ridiculous when they talk… as most Doctor Who baddies are.

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This story is the first surviving story to see the use of the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. A screwdriver that uses sound waves to turn a screw… which now has the ability to work as a torch, too. I wonder what other features it might gain in the future?

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The natives have terrible outfits, and Zoe has a camel toe.

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Doctor Who Serial 041 – The Web of Fear

Synopsis: A continuation of the missing serial 038, The Abominable Snowmen, the Yeti have returned. Robots disguised as Yeti under the control of the Great Intelligence had years earlier  terrorized a Buddhist monastery. Now, years later the Yeti are terrorizing the London Underground.

Marks the first appearance of Colonel Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Lethbridge-Stewart would later be promoted to Brigadier General and be put in charge of UNIT. According to the TARDIS wikia…

In televised episodes, the Brigadier appeared and interacted with all of the first seven Doctors — though his encounter with the Sixth Doctor in Dimensions in Time is not counted as part of the Doctor Who universe.

The Brigadier would become such an important part of Doctor Who lore that after Nicholas Courtney’s death, the production team added this scene to “The Wedding of River Song.”

We meet this military commander who is intelligent and thoughtful in Lethbridge-Stewart and it’s set in the London underground. Those two points are the best part of this story. The Great Intelligence isn’t a great villain, and the Yeti are a bit boring as his henchmen.

The story dragged, and it didn’t help that one of the episodes is still missing, and was just a reconstruction with snaps.

Story 42, Fury from the Deep, is completely missing.
Story 43, The Wheel in Space, is missing four out of six episodes. It is also the fifth season finale.

See you next time with The Dominators.

Doctor Who Serial 040 – The Enemy of the World

Synopsis: The Doctor is mistaken for Salamander, a man who is trying to become dictator of the world. Salamander’s enemies try to convince The Doctor to impersonate the evil man and help take him out.

In the 1970s, the BBC was junking old TV shows in its archive. Back then, reruns didn’t exist, and the concept of home video and DVD would have been ridiculous. The shows were recorded onto video, and rather than buying new tapes, it was easier to blank the existing ones. They also had 16mm prints which were used to sell shows to foreign markets. Since film takes up a lot of space, those were destroyed to clear up space in the archive.

From time to time Doctor Who stories have found their way back from TV stations in foreign markets that still had prints lying around. Recently, at least two serials were recovered from Nigeria, The Enemy of the World (040) and The Web of Fear (041). 

Rumours are persisting that the BBC has recovered more than just those two, that perhaps they have recovered close to 90 missing episodes, leaving the number of lost episodes into the single-digits. For now, though, we’ll take what we can get.

The Enemy of the World is not great. The entire concept of a duplicate Doctor is kinda hokey, and Troughton’s accent when playing Salamander (or The Doctor pretending to be Salamander) is horrible.

The most interesting part of the story is The Doctor’s reluctance to trust Giles Kent, who is trying to overthrow Salamander.

Overall, its worth watching. I don’t think I’d have come back to this serial if not for my project of watching the whole series. Actually, this inspired the project.

Doctor Who Serial 037 – The Tomb of the Cybermen

Synopsis: After 500 years without Cybermen, an Earth expedition of archeologists finds their homeworld to find the Cybermen sleeping in wait.

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Hello, and welcome to The Patrick Troughton Years.

The Patrick Troughton years of Doctor Who are arguably the best. Troughton brought something very unique to the role, he brought comedy and clowning. Perhaps the greatest asset Troughton had in his time on Doctor Who was Frazer Hines. Hines played Scottish highlander Jamie McCrimmon for twenty stories, to give you some perspective, Patrick Troughton played The Doctor in twenty-one stories1. I cannot think of any companion who lasted as long as Jamie did, three years. 

The Doctor liked to hide how clever he was, and Jamie, a man from the 18th century was always out of his comfort zone, so Jamie believed The Doctor to be a bit dumb. Jamie thought The Doctor dumb, but trusted him implicitly.

That leaves the third companion; in this case Victoria. Victoria’s job was to remind them that at times the boys have to be serious. Oh, and to scream, she is a woman, after all.

The physical interactions between Jamie and The Doctor are gold, and they are what I feel properly defines The Doctor’s character and who he is, not just for his second incarnation, but for the remainder of the series. Pertwee, Baker, Tennant, and Smith all owe a great amount to Troughton. More so than Hartnell, I’d dare say.

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The Tomb of the Cybermen is a bit slow, and feels a bit padded. The archeologists of course are financed by someone who is opportunistic, he wants to use the Cybermen to gain control of Earth, he thinks that if he frees them from stasis, they will be grateful and help him. He’s wrong of course. The episode is too long, there are racist undertones2, the Cyberman voice is horrible, but overall, it’s a ridiculously enjoyable episode. The Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria all make for a great romp.

The Tomb of the Cybermen was believed lost until 1991 when it was returned to the BBC from Hong Kong.

  1. No, I’m not including The Three DoctorsThe Five Doctors, or The Two Doctors []
  2. Toberman being the big strong black man who can kick Cyberass []

Doctor Who Serial 029 – The Tenth Planet

So it turns out that serial 028, The Smugglers, is a missing story. Not a single episode exists. I had downloaded a reconstruction. Since that doesn’t interest me in the least, the fourth season premiere story will be skipped, and we’ll go on to The Tenth Planet.

Episodes 1-3 of The Tenth Planet exist, while episode 4 is lost in the ether. The BBC has animated it for DVD release, and that is what I shall be watching. This serial is rather special, as it is William Hartnell’s final story. This is the first time we see regeneration. Doctor Who will soon enter a new era as Patrick Troughton takes on the titular role and we will learn more about The Doctor’s mysteries. I have never seen this story…

This old body of mine is wearing a bit thin.” – The Doctor

Synopsis: Earth space command discovers a planet that is the opposite of Earth (well, it’s just upside down). Space Command doesn’t believe that The Doctor knows what it is, but he warns of some deadly visitors… The Cybermen.

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It’s the FUTURE! December 1986. OOO EEE OOO!

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In the future of the 1980s, the Cybermen invade. They’re very similar to the Borg, a species which takes living creatures and mechanizes them. Removing all emotions. However, in the first appearance of the Cybermen, this episode, they all sound like a robotisized Michael Palin. It’s mildly disconcerting.  The Cyberman have no interest in killing the humans, as long as they submit to assimilation.

Is it an odd aside that I really like the typeface used during the closing credits?

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During episode three, The Doctor collapses… EEE!

They’re launching a rocket with a Z-Bomb towards Mondas, and The Doctor is unconscious… dum dum dum.

EPISODE 4!!!

Ugh! The animation sucks again. They’re covered in Vaseline.

Ben and Polly all greased up
YES! A Cyberman finally said, “Resistance is useless!”

And thus, the Cybermen collapse, the menace is over, Ben frees Polly and The Doctor, and The Doctor stumbles towards the TARDIS where he collapses, and is PATRICK TROUGHTON!

That was actually a really great episode, the resolution needs a lot of work, but overall pretty damn enjoyable.

Serial 030 – The Power of The Daleks: All six episodes missing.

Serial 031 – The Highlanders: All four episodes missing. Introduces Jamie McCrimmon, the best companion, ever.

Serial 032 – The Underwater Menace: Two of four episodes missing. Will be animated and released on DVD in 2014. I will go back to this one.

Serial 033 – The Moonbase: Two of four episodes missing. Was animated and released on DVD a few days ago in the UK… has yet to be released on North America. I will go back to this one in the future.

Serial 034 – The Macra Terror: Completely missing.

Serial 035 – The Faceless Ones: Four of six episodes still missing. Ben and Polly leave.

Serial 036 – The Evil of the Daleks: Six of seven episodes missing. Victoria joins the cast.

And that ends season four. Yes no story from season four exists completely. Season five began with the classic Tomb of the Cybermen. See you soon.