Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy Hogmanay!

That's how the last day of the year is known in Scotland, in case you are wondering. (And a very Happy New Year already to readers who are a few hours ahead of the UK).
We're used to Christmas Specials now, but only three stories over the years have specifically dealt with events at New Year.

The first was episode 8 of The Daleks' Master Plan, broadcast on 1st January, 1966. Titled Volcano, it featured the return of the Meddling Monk. He tried to sabotage the TARDIS lock on the volcanic planet of Tigus - hoping to strand the Doctor there. Unlike the previous week's festive episode, this one did actually feature the Daleks. They try to test their Time Destructor on the hapless alien delegate Trantis - but find that the Doctor has given them the fake Taranium Core. They exterminate Trantis anyway. The TARDIS meanwhile visits the Oval during a Test match - then the New Year celebrations in Trafalgar Square.
Episode 3 of The Highlanders fell on New Year's Eve, 1966, but apart from the Scottish theme had nothing to do with Hogmanay.
The first part of Day of the Daleks was broadcast on New Year's Day, 1972, and The Face of Evil launched on the same date in 1977 - but had no connection with it.

New Year would not feature as a significant plot point again until The Movie in 1996. It wasn't just any new year - but the Millennium one, during which the Master planned to steal the Doctor's body for his own. The Doctor indicates that something bad will happen to Chang Lee at the same time the following year - so advises he be out of town.

New Year 2005 proved to be an unlucky one for the Doctor. It was the last time he saw Rose Tyler - a few months before they had ever met in her time-scale. She had all their adventures still in front of her - but for the Tenth Doctor the journey was at an end. Broadcast on January 1st, 2010, The End of Time Part 2 saw in a new year - and a new Doctor.
Here's to the 50th Anniversary Year! Slainte Mhor.

Assimilation Squared Issue 8

The Ponds may have gone now, as far as the TV series is concerned, but they have been continuing in other media - such as IDW's Assimilation Squared Doctor Who / ST:TNG crossover adventure.
That adventure has now also come to an end, with the release of the 8th -and final - instalment.
Last time, Picard and some of the Enterprise crew had travelled to the lead Cybership in the TARDIS in order to slow it down and prevent it reaching the Borg homeworld.
Amy and Rory are teamed up with Lt. Worf to disable the engines, whilst the Doctor, Picard and Data make for the bridge.
With only 22 pages to play with, things move at a rapid rate. The engines are blown up and the Enterprise is able to catch up. It fires a "gold beam" at the Cybership which destroys the crew. The Cyber-Controller is unaffected. Data and the Borg Conduit hold it down whilst the Doctor reboots the Borg Collective through it. The Borg promptly set the Cybership to self-destruct. The Conduit tries to assimilate the TARDIS. Data does an Idris and temporarily absorbs the TARDIS' matrix - and Worf throws the Conduit out into the Temporal Vortex.
The Doctor and the Ponds return to their dimension - but they have left behind knowledge of the Doctor with the Borg...
And therefore a potential sequel series is set up. If it happens at all, it won't be any time soon, as IDW are about to embark on Prisoners of Time - a 50th Anniversary series featuring all the incarnations of the Doctor.
The one big problem with Assimilation Squared's final instalment was that new version of a Glitter Gun. How does the gold permeate the spaceship? We know it doesn't have any holes in it, as the Doctor and his friends don't require breathing apparatus - begging the further question of why Cybermen provide air for  potential attackers.
Overall, it has been quite a good series, though there were times when it dragged a bit and there was not a lot of Cybermen. The third instalment which featured the Fourth Doctor and the original Enterprise crew was certainly my favourite part.
Issue 1 of Prisoners of Time is due out in January.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

True story...

On Christmas Day I was helping one of the residents of the hostel where I work. Next to my desk, on the wall, I have a photocopy of the picture that I had taken of myself with Matt Smith at the Convention back in March. The resident had noticed it. He doesn't watch much television. He suddenly asked "Is that your son with you in that picture you've got in the office?"
Have you ever tried laughing and crying at one and the same time...? I'll never be the Doctor, but at least I was once mistaken for the father of one...

That Was The Week That Was 30.12.12

Only one real story this week - the latest Doctor Who Christmas Special was broadcast on Tuesday evening, and had a very respectable 7.59 million overnight viewers. That made it the 5th most watched programme of the day. We've since had the BBC3 repeat, plus there will be the time-shifted viewers to be added, which should take it closer to the figures which the soaps achieved.
ITV's flagship series Downton Abbey got about half a million viewers less than Doctor Who got. People obviously prefer their period drama with added monsters.
I must admit that, due to working across the festive period, I haven't even looked for the Madam Vastra red button minisode, let alone seen it.
It was a much better Special than the previous offering - which wasn't even redeemed by a "Coming Soon" trailer. I posted the other day my thoughts about the new Series 7 Part 2 trailer.

The 50th Anniversary year starts in about - ooh - 26 hour's time. We have been informed that, as of March, the Royal Mail will be issuing Doctor Who stamps - one for each Doctor plus 4 of the monsters. It will be strange getting a letter with Jon Pertwee or Patrick Troughton on the top right corner of the envelope - or using Colin Baker to help pay your gas bill.

After losing long-time friend of the programme, Gerry Anderson, earlier in the week, we then lost the composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, who provided the incidental music for The Aztecs (which just happens to be due out in March as a Special Edition DVD).
Unless there is a major breaking piece of news, there won't be a TW3 next Sunday. Instead, there will be a special TWTYTW - That Was The Year That Was.

Friday, 28 December 2012

The Snowmen - further musings...

Musings - and questions. The biggest question is, obviously, what is it with Clara? We've had two Oswin Oswalds so far and both have died - and we were presented with a modern day third one at the end of The Snowmen. I suppose we now have to think that this is finally the real new companion - but is it? Who's to say there might not be a fourth, or fifth? Imagine a different Clara in every episode. That would be funny. Or irritating.
The mystery of Clara is obviously the arc for the last few episodes of Series 7. The only similar character we have seen like this is Scaroth of the Jagaroth - an alien split across time, each aspect of him looking the same but being individual, though with a psychic connection. I sincerely doubt Clara will pull her face off to reveal a monocular mass of green tendrils any time soon, however.

The new TARDIS interior is superb. I especially like the revolving upper part to the time rotor - but the flashing wall lights were a bit naff and a distraction.
The Doctor has been sitting on that cloud for a very long time it would seem, though judging by the ship's battered exterior it has seen a few other adventures.
I liked the fact that the Doctor used Amy's reading specs. He has either consciously, or subconsciously, expected to return to the fray at some point, positioning himself where Vastra and co. are based. He could just have easily parked up on some uninhabited planetoid for years.
He was very quick to test Clara out and accept her as his new companion. The "one word" test was set up in advance with Vastra and Jenny for a reason. Dialogue and performance imply it has been employed unsuccessfully before. Rose, Martha and Donna had to wait a while for their TARDIS key - and Clara getting hers so quick made me automatically think that this one was going to be a goner as well.
Who brought Strax back to life? A friend of the Doctor? I suppose we have to assume River - with some residual Artron Energy?
I knew the ladder reached up to the TARDIS - but the spiral staircase was a particular visual delight.

And what of the Great Intelligence - for that is what it was. This sets itself up to be a prequel to events in Tibet, 1935, and the London Underground of 1967. So, according to this, the Intelligence began as a swarm of sentient ice crystals - some form of gestalt. It needed to copy human DNA to form a bridgehead on Earth - hybrid ice / human DNA. It shoves a nasty old governess into a pond to achieve this. When this ploy fails, the Doctor inadvertently provides a human shell for it - its servant Dr. Simeon, his memories now emptied. That fails as well, but the Intelligence now exists as a disembodied entity.
The Intelligence has evolved rapidly, and yet it is defeated by the sentimental clap-trap of people crying.
A problem I have is Padmasambhava. He must have been extremely long-lived to have survived until 1892 (when already an old man in 1630) for the Intelligence to have taken him over next. The Abominable Snowmen seems to imply the Intelligence has possessed the old master of Det-Sen for a very long time and has helped keep him alive so long.
The Doctor produces the tin with the 1967 tube map on it - suggesting he knows exactly what he's up against - yet later, in the cemetery, he goes on about the "Great Intelligence?" - the name merely ringing a bell... Something jars...

With regards the new titles and music, I still feel they're a bit cluttered. The music is trying to be too many things at once, and the visuals lack the simple consistency of all the previous versions - so at the moment I don't particularly like them. I'm never averse to change - I've been a fan since the late 1960's, so have seen so many changes - but some things maybe just take a bit longer to get used to...

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Coming soon...

I've been taking a look at screen grabs from the Coming Soon teaser, trying to work out how they fit with what we already know. (These are courtesy of Blogtorwho, which has a few more, though mostly corridor running). You can connect some of them to the same episode thanks to Clara's costumes / hairstyle. But which episodes those are is difficult to fathom.
Easy ones are those which include guest stars - so Liam Cunningham is known to be in Mark Gatiss' base-under-siege tale. This appears to be set on a submarine, and some of the corridor running shots might also be from this - also the icy waters, if it's a submarine under the Arctic? We've been told this story will be "fan-pleasing", which has led to some to believe there may be a returning monster. The underwater setting might point to Sea Devils, whilst the Arctic might lead you more towards Ice Warriors. The Zygons can turn up anywhere. Me, I'm going for the Seaweed Creature (only as the director said the monster was a physical creation augmented by CGI).

The costumes look vaguely Russian. There is a shot of Dame Diana Rigg plus some other Victorian costumed characters - so Mark Gatiss' other script. Might these characters be from the same story?

We also see Dougray Scott - from the episode that has been referred to as a ghost story. This might also be one of the ghosts.

Easiest to work out are the Cybermen story shots - as we see Warwick Davis with the uniformed people behind the Doctor in this first image. Is the Doctor being turned into a Cyberman? Or might it be a new version of the neuristor that stopped you becoming one? In the last image, that looks like Jason Watkins in front of the Doctor - also known to be in Gaiman's story.

A couple of shots show the Doctor and Clara on the motorbike in London, and these should be from the first episode - and I believe, from the contemporary background, that's also the one with Celia Imrie. It's the story described as "urban thriller".

There are a couple of shots of monks - including the Doctor catching the habit.

Miscellaneous monsters and characters include:

Are the first two images connected - the goggles / breathing mask? The last image appears to be the creature with Clara pulling off a face mask.
Of course, not every scene that appears in these trailers actually makes it into the programme, if you remember back to the Series 6 one. The naked River Song scene was cut, along with the Germans in the prisoner of war camp. Also, an image may relate to a brief pre-credits scene - and not be representative of the episode as a whole.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Gerry Anderson

Very sorry to hear that Gerry Anderson has passed away today at the age of 83. I was brought up on Thunderbirds, Joe 90 and Captain Scarlet, and was a big fan of UFO and Space: 1999. (I well remember my Thunderbirds jim-jams, and had all the Corgi cars and ships - all sadly long gone. Those were the days when you played with toys).
If you purchase The Legacy Box next month, you will see him on the More Than 30 Years In The TARDIS DVD, interviewed with his son who was a Doctor Who fan - to Gerry's pretended exasperation.
1970's Doctor Who stories made a lot of use of recycled models from Anderson productions.
RIP Gerry - you and your work will never be forgotten.

The stamp of approval (updated)

The Royal Mail today confirms 11 postage stamps to commemorate the 50th anniversary - one per Doctor. They are released on 26th March.
See them all in this link.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

That was snow too bad...

I'm sure there will be far worse snow puns in the next day or two. As a Scotsman, I can get away with as many s' no' puns as you like.
First of all, I'm rather pleased with myself that I deduced that the boy in the first teaser clip was indeed a young Dr. Simeon. My knowledge of mid-19th Century costume is obviously far greater than I thought. Maybe I'm in the wrong job?
First impressions? I will try to avoid specific plot points as readers in Australia and New Zealand won't have seen it yet.
A slow burner of an episode, the Doctor takes a while to engage with the threat - even though he knows there is a threat and who and where it is coming from. Most of the humour is at Strax's expense - though I do worry that we are witnessing Sontaran-ism. Would we have had the same jokes if it had been a human being of certain physical size / shape / colour?
The  Doctor knows who the villain of the piece is (he refers specifically to a 1967 adventure - and finally sorts out a certain dating conundrum), and yet at the end he seems unsure. It's as though he had forgotten who the entity is. If it was who we think it is - it doesn't tally at all with what we know about it.
The TARDIS staircase was a beautiful image.
I strongly suspected that there would be far more to Clara than a Victoria governess. The minute he gave her the key I just knew how things would pan out. The word that she uses to bring the Doctor out of his self-imposed exile - just a coincidence, or is there more to it than that?
Tom Ward was a bit underused - though I did love the bit where he's presented with the Doctor, Vastra, Strax invading his house, and killer Snowmen on his front lawn - and the only thing that fazes him is that Clara might have a boyfriend.
The titular monsters were disappointingly underemployed.
The solution to the menace is the thing that will prevent this ever getting 5 star reviews. I thought it was sentimental nonsense - something Moffat has been guilty of before.
As for the new opening titles - the jury is still out. Maybe a bit too busy?
And as for the "Coming Soon..."? Well, the new Cybermen are officially out there. Glimpses of a lizard-like alien and something akin to the Silence. Is Mark Gatiss' base-under-siege story set on a submarine? Looks like Celia Imrie is in the urban thriller story (the first of the second half of episodes). Was that Strax, or a more belligerent Sontaran?

Much better than last year's disappointing effort, certainly, but far from perfect. I will watch it again tomorrow, and give some further thoughts later.
Expect T-shirts with "I am a lizard woman from the dawn of time. And this is my wife." - and "Do you have a goldfish named Colin?".

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Countdown 22 - Crying When You Are Happy

My final Christmas Countdown item - from last year's Special. A really nice video.
A very Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays to you all.

Don't forget the workers...

An entirely gratuitous picture of Rory - in his pants.
I do have a serious point to make, however. Whilst the vast majority of you have 25th December off work (or school / college), there are a lot of people for whom Christmas Day is just another working day - nurses, doctors, policemen, firemen and so forth. And I just happen to be one of them. Yes, as of 5.15pm, when you are all sitting down to watch The Snowmen, I'll be at work - with another 3 hours to go. I'm not quite as important as a 999 service person, but homeless hostels are 24/7 and we can't just shut up shop for the day. (I could try and watch it on my break - but in 23 years of hostel work I've never known any given hour with absolutely no interruptions - so will wait and watch the recording, uninterrupted, when I get home, with a glass of something nice - and potent).
Like those Liverpudlian policemen in The Feast of Steven, or those countless policemen and soldiers (and Trinity Wells) coping with alien invasions since 2005, some of us have to work on Christmas Day - so do spare a thought.
Don't expect my wit and wisdom on the Special straight away - but I will try to post my immediate reaction later Tuesday night.

Happy Birthday Sergeant Benton!

Many happy returns to John Levene on this, his 71st birthday.

Bigger on the inside...

I just came across this on the BBC News website. Message to Mr. Kumparak - there is no such thing as a "crazy ridiculous" amount of Doctor Who.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

2nd Snowmen Teaser

A hardly worth bothering clip, surely.

Christmas Countdown 21 - The Stowaway

Doctor Who's most Christmas-y Christmas Special song - performed by Yamit Mamo and again composed by Murray Gold - for The Voyage of the Damned. It does have a wee touch of the Pogues' Fairytale of New York about it (and I'm sure Murray wouldn't mind me saying this - it's one of the reasons I love it so much). Gold appeared in a cameo role as the Titanic orchestra's pianist, and that's Yamit as the singer.
It's quite surprising, looking back, that guest star Kylie Minogue wasn't involved with the music for this story.

That Was The Week That Nearly Wasn't 23.12.12

Biggest news of the week, obviously, is that you are still able to enjoy a TW3 today (renamed this week in honour of the non-event), and we are still on course for The Snowmen on Tuesday. Yes, the world did not end this week, and believers in the Mayan doomsday scenario have been shown to be just as deluded as every other doomsday cultist. (Other cults are available). I have read somewhere that January 1st 2017 is the next date on which it might be best to stay in bed.
Of course, the world wouldn't dare end while Doctor Who is in production - BBC, please take note.

In far more sensible Doctor Who news, the biggest story of the week has been the additional Paternoster Gang material - with a new prequel (to the Prequel) and the promise of a special red button mini-sode next week (possibly prequelling the prequel to the Prequel). The best BBC advent calendar material released so far was on Friday - with Strax's hilarious alternative Christmas Carols.

We also got a teaser - featuring the dulcet tones of Sir Ian McKellen, which I posted about yesterday.
Earlier in the week the covers were released for the next DVD set (The Legacy Box - due 7th January).

Saturday, 22 December 2012

The young Dr Simeon?

I was looking at the new teaser released today, and was wondering if this might actually be a bit of back-story for Richard E. Grant's character - Dr. Simeon. A lonely child who is contacted by the unknown alien presence? I'm far from expert, but the costumes look more mid-Victorian than late - and The Snowmen is set in the closing years of Victoria's reign. Then again I might just be reading too much into things. I often do...

Christmas Countdown 20 - Songs For Ten

The first of the new Christmas Specials - 2005's The Christmas Invasion - gave us a specially written song - which would go on to provide the Tenth Doctor's first theme. Song for Ten was composed by Murray Gold and had vocals by The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon. You'll find other versions around - with second-rate pub singer vocals. The Hannon version is by far the superior one. Then again, I'm a big Divine Comedy fan.
The following year Gold and Hannon collaborated again for The Runaway Bride - with Love Don't Roam.
It's marginally not quite as good a song - and certainly not as Christmas-y.

Friday, 21 December 2012

The Snowmen - the spoiler free round-up

With just under 4 days to go, here is a bit of a round-up of items known about the Christmas Special - and a few unanswered questions - taken from a variety of sources.
The trailer and prequels have already helped set up the premise of the Paternoster Gang, the snow that shouldn't be, and the Doctor having turned his back on the Universe, in mourning for the loss of Amy & Rory.
We also know that Clara isn't Oswin - and won't learn of the connection (if there actually is one) in this story.
Clara is the governess to the Latimer children - but is it as straightforward as that?
The closing part of this story will help set things up for next year's episodes.
We've seen the new TARDIS interior already, and have heard that there will be a new title sequence and arrangement of the theme music (which older fans will certainly approve of).
If you're one of those people who find timey-wimey over-used and annoying, don't worry.
It's 1892, in the run up to Christmas.
Despite the Victorian wintry setting, this is the least Christmas-y special yet (it's hardly mentioned).
It's quite a dark and sombre story, despite having the earliest broadcast time since 2005 (but it is not totally devoid of humour, as we've seen with Strax. Look out also for a very funny Doctor scene).
If previous Specials have divided fans due to having to cater to a different audience, don't worry - this should keep everyone happy.
Vastra and Jenny are continuing to fight crime (and are now married?).
We hear about who brought Strax back to life after Demon's Run (though a longer filmed scene about this won't be included - expect it as a DVD extra).
The Doctor is quite literally living on a cloud.
We know about the titular Snowmen, the Ice Governess, and Dr. Simeon, but is there another villain still to be revealed?
What is the Great Swarm?
Just what is the relevance of that tin and those initials?
Steven Moffat references another drama he is known for.
What are the four things he asked preview audiences not to write about? One of them contains the same number of letters as...

Christmas Countdown 19 - The Go-Go's

For my last few Countdown posts, I'm going to be concentrating on Doctor Who Christmas musical items - starting with this bit of 1960's nonsense.
The Go-Go's (not to be confused with the successful US female group) were from Newcastle, and this 1964 novelty record - cashing in on Dalekmania - was their only real outing (thank goodness...).

The end of the world...?

I'm waiting...
I'm still waiting...
How long is this going to take?
Another 4.5 billion years!!!
I knew I should never have bothered cancelling that DWM subscription...

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Story 48 - The Seeds of Death

In which the TARDIS materialises in the private space museum of Professor Daniel Eldred. It is the late 21st Century, and mankind has turned its back on space exploration. The common mode of travel these days is the T-Mat - whereby people and goods are transported instantaneously from one location to another. The system operates via a relay station in a base on the Moon. At the London control centre, Controller Gia Kelly is increasingly frustrated by delays originating from the Moon. Society has become dependent on the travel system, and now countries are threatened with starvation. She sends a party to sort out the problems. When they arrive, the base is invaded by Ice Warriors, led by Slaar. With T-Mat down, head of the programme Commander Radnor goes to see his old friend - Prof. Eldred. Radnor knows that the old man has a functional space rocket, and he wants to use this to send a party to the Moon to fix T-Mat. There are no experienced astronauts anymore, so the Doctor volunteers to go, and Jamie and Zoe will accompany him.
At the Moonbase, a technician named Fewsham is helping the invaders - to save his life rather than through treachery. Apart from another crewman named Phipps, everyone else has been killed. Phipps is at large, hiding in the solar power room. He helps guide the rocket to land safely. When T-Mat suddenly becomes operational again, Kelly travels to the Moon - only to be captured, as Slaar needs a qualified scientist who can operate the system for him.

The Doctor has learned of the Ice Warriors' presence from Phipps. He needs to find out what they are planning. Slaar wants only certain of the T-Mat stations operational - those in the Northern Hemisphere. Martian seed pods are to be sent to each of these locations. When they germinate, they absorb oxygen and generate a foaming vegetable blight. The plan is to use these seeds to alter Earth's atmosphere to make it more amenable to the Ice Warriors. An Ice Warrior is despatched to the London control centre. Its mission is to locate the Weather Control Bureau and sabotage the equipment. Eldred spots the pattern of the active T-Mat stations - cities where it is currently winter. The Doctor and his friends manage to get back to Earth by T-Mat after Zoe turns up the base's heating. Fewsham refuses to join them. The Doctor discovers that the seeds can be destroyed by water. If it can be made to rain, the blight can be checked.

Jamie and Zoe go to the Weather Control Bureau and find that the Ice Warrior is still here. It has wrecked the controls so that rain cannot be generated. The Doctor arrives and uses a solar power weapon to destroy the Warrior, then he repairs the controls. Fewsham sacrifices himself to let Earth know of an Ice Warrior navigation beacon which will guide an approaching invasion force. Another rocket is sent up with a satellite that will emit a decoy signal, whilst the Doctor must return to the Moon to stop the real signal. Jamie follows. The signal is deactivated and the decoy one leads the Ice Warrior fleet to destruction near the Sun. Slaar and the Ice Warriors are destroyed. Rain wipes out the alien blight.

This six part adventure was written by Brian Hayles, and broadcast between 25th January and 1st March, 1969. Hayles may have gotten the credit, but there is very little of his writing here. It could be argued that this is Terrance Dicks' first Doctor Who story, as he rewrote the story almost from scratch.
Hayles' original submission - The Lords of the Red Planet - was eventually deemed unworkable, despite various rewrites. Part of the problem was Frazer Hines' decision to stay on until the end of the season, and the need to have the Doctor absent for Part 4, as Troughton was due a holiday week.
A second Ice Warrior story had been decided upon almost as soon as their previous appearance had been recorded - as the costumes had been very expensive and the production team felt they needed to get their money's worth. Fortunately, The Ice Warriors had also proven very popular with the viewers. Both the Daleks and the Cybermen had been given a new, differently designed, leader, and for The Seeds of Death, the Ice Warriors would be given a new commander caste. Slaar does not have the heavy armour of his underlings. He has his own boss - the Grand Marshal - who looks the same (from what we can see of him) but has a spangly helmet.

The Seeds of Death is a strong story, with a good supporting cast. We have quite a powerful female character - Gia Kelly, played by Louise Pajo - though it might be argued that she is a bit unemotional and work-fixated. The character could have equally been played by a male actor. Radnor is Ronald Leigh-Hunt, who will play another Commander in The Revenge of the Cybermen.
Professor Eldred is Philip Ray, who can sometimes play fast and loose with the script.
Slaar is played by Alan Bennion. He would return to the costume two more times (both of the Pertwee Peladon stories) but Ice Lords would be his only contribution to Doctor Who. Varga's costume is reused by Sonny Caldinez, who will also appear in the Peladon tales.
The stand-out performance is undoubtedly Terry Scully's Fewsham. He is a reluctant traitor - an ordinary man scared for his life who is prepared to collaborate to save it. However, when he gets the chance to escape back to Earth, he doesn't take it - and later redeems himself by sacrificing his life to warn the Earth authorities of the impending invasion - and provide them the means to counteract it.
The story has some nice model shots courtesy of Bill King's Trading Post company, which was being phased out at this time - with more and more special effects being handled by the BBC's own in-house team.
Episode endings are:

  1. Moonbase technician Locke is reporting back to Radnor when Slaar stops the video-link. He orders an Ice Warrior to kill the man. It fires its sonic weapon and Locke is killed. 
  2. The rocket homing beacon switches off. The Doctor and his companions may crash into the Moon, or float past into deep space.
  3. A Martian seed pod has materialised at the London T-Mat control centre. As technician Brent examines it, it suddenly begins to expand...
  4. Zoe has sneaked into the Moonbase control room and turned up the heating. She finds herself menaced by an Ice Warrior.
  5. The Doctor is trying to get into the Weather Control Bureau. He is about to be engulfed by the deadly Martian seed blight.
  6. Rain is destroying the seed blight, and the Doctor and his companions are soaked as they get back to Eldred's museum to depart in the TARDIS.

Overall, a pretty good story that rarely flags over its six episodes. Some good performances and effects. The seed blight is realised by a foam machine - which is actually quite effective.
Things you might like to know:

  • The costumes for the male characters are interesting to say the least - overalls with a strange pants design (that's English pants - not American). Everyone seems to get by with them - except Hugh Morton, as Sir John Gregson, who looks embarrassed throughout.
  • If you look at the opening story title, episode number and writer sequence for each episode you'll see that sometimes the Moon is in the foreground, and at other times its the Earth. It depends on where the opening scene of each episode is set.
  • We talk about Ice Lords or Ice Warlords - but there is never any such title used on screen - in any of their three appearances.
  • Slaar is only addressed as such once on screen - by the Grand Marshal - yet Zoe knows his name.
  • Professor Eldred points to the location of the Weather Control Bureau on a map - and we can clearly see that it is positioned somewhere else.
  • The overly complicated James Bond villain-type plan. Ice Warriors have built-in guns - so why does Slaar order the Doctor killed by T-Matting him into space - something which will take long enough for his companions to save him? Slaar - you've only yourself to blame...

Christmas Countdown 18 - It's all a bit commercial these days...

In an increasingly secular world, Christmas is all about money these days - buying presents and food, overspending and getting into debt. You have to save all year long to afford it - especially if you've got kids. Come Christmas, we all go shopping.
When Rose Tyler returned to the Powell Estate with the newly regenerated Tenth Doctor, it was one of her first thoughts. She had to borrow twenty quid from Mickey to get her mum a present. Christmas shopping in the Doctor Who realm can be an exciting time - for good and for bad.
Mickey and Rose had no sooner arrived on the local high street when they were attacked by a Santa-costumed brass band - really mercenary Roboforms.

A year later, shoppers on one London high street got an unexpected bonus when a cash machine started to spew out free money. A lanky man in a brown tight fitting suit was last seen using it. That night, however, shoppers were gazing in awe at a massive Christmas Star which had appeared in the sky - which promptly started raining down death and destruction. Swings and roundabouts that year...

The Doctor was worried about materialising in the middle of a busy shopping street with Bannakafalata - but he needn't have been concerned. Thanks to the Sycorax spaceship and the Racnoss Webstar, people were keeping their heads down this particular Christmas - so no late night shopping. The only soul present was old soldier Wilf Mott, selling the evening newspaper. A couple of years later, he was doing his own Christmas shopping when he was troubled by a recurring nightmare - a vision of a man laughing maniacally. He sought sanctuary in an old church, where he encountered a mysterious woman dressed in white - leading to his final adventure with the Doctor.

The moral of the tale? On-line shopping. It's just as expensive - but you are less likely to fall foul of any alien incursions.