Monday, 25 February 2013

Story 62 - The Sea Devils

In which the Doctor and Jo go to visit the Master in his island prison. When Governor Trenchard mentions a recent spate of ship sinkings in the area, the Doctor decides to investigate. A life raft was retrieved from the scene of the last incident, and it is being kept at the nearby Royal Navy base HMS Foxglove. It appears to have been attacked by a heat weapon. The Doctor is arrested and taken to meet Captain Hart. Jo arrives in time with their UNIT ID. At the prison, the Master is furious that Trenchard mentioned the sinkings to the Doctor. Noting that all the incidents took place in the vicinity of an old sea fort, the Doctor and Jo borrow a boat and go out to explore. There are two workmen looking after the fort - and one is found dead and the other deranged, talking about "Sea Devils". The Doctor sees one of the creatures - and recognises it as being a marine cousin of the Silurians he and Liz had encountered in Derbyshire.

Their boat has been blown up, leaving them trapped, but they are rescued by a Navy helicopter. Jo sees the Master on the base, disguised as a Naval officer - just at the same time that Trenchard visits. The Doctor returns to the prison and is taken captive. The Master is in charge here - having fooled the governor into thinking he is working under cover to expose enemy saboteurs.  Jo rescues the Doctor and they make for the beach. The Master uses a device to call upon a Sea Devil to attack them, but they are able to escape. The Sea Devils capture a nuclear submarine. They then attack the prison to free the Master. Trenchard is killed. The Doctor decides to descend by diving bell to the sea floor by the fort to look for the Sea Devil base. He is captured.

Attempts to broker peace are thwarted when a civil servant orders an attack on the base. The Doctor frees the submarine crew and they escape. The Sea Devils want the Master to resurrect all of their kind across the globe. For this he needs equipment from the navy base and an attack is mounted. The Doctor is returned to the Sea Devil shelter where he is forced to help the Master. Captain Hart escapes and returns with reinforcements and the Sea Devils are forced to retreat. The Master finds himself a prisoner also after the resurrection device has been completed, and the Doctor informs him that he has sabotaged it. They use submarine escape gear to get back to the surface as the Sea Devil base is destroyed. The Master feigns illness in order to flee in a hovercraft - at liberty once more.

This six part adventure was written by Malcolm Hulke, and was broadcast between 26th February and 1st April, 1972. It marks the return of Roger Delgado's Master to our screens after a seven month gap, and is a sequel of sorts to The Silurians. Rather than simply bring back the cave dwelling creatures we had already seen, Hulke devised their marine cousins - their design based on sea turtles. The fishing net costumes were a late addition as they looked too nude to begin with - something that never seemed to bother their land-lubber relatives.
The army had helped out with the production of The Invasion back in 1968, and the RAF had assisted with The Mind of Evil, and so the Senior Service were more than happy to collaborate on this as it would make excellent publicity. A real gunnery base and some vessels were made available in the Portsmouth and Isle of Wight areas. Barry Letts and Jon Pertwee had served in the Navy during the war, and so both were in their element. Less happy with a sea-going story was Roger Delgado, who hated the water, according to Pertwee. It might just be that he did not want to get his costume wet as there wasn't a spare.

Hulke revisits elements from his earlier story. The original inhabitants of earth are once again woken accidentally by human activity - this time work going on in the sea fort. The Doctor again tries to make peace between the two species - only to be thwarted. There is another obnoxious civil servant. Captain Hart - played by Edwin Richfield - takes on the Brigadier role - as this is another UNIT free story. The biggest difference is that it is the Doctor himself who blows up the shelter. The Sea Devils are not about to launch some super-weapon, so it seems odd that he doesn't try very hard to pursue peace efforts.
The story has guest appearances by two veteran British actors - known from Ealing comedies and many classic films. Trenchard is played by Clive Morton, and the civil servant Walker by Martin Boddey.
Episode endings for this story are:

  1. Trapped on the sea fort, the Doctor and Jo hear something shuffling down the corridor towards them...
  2. The Doctor beats the Master in a sword-fight. The Master produces a dagger which he throws at the Doctor...
  3. Trapped on the beach by a mine-field, the Doctor and Jo see a Sea Devil emerge from the water.
  4. When the Doctor fails to make contact, his diving bell is brought back to the surface - and is found to be empty...
  5. The Sea Devils overrun the base and the Doctor is captured.
  6. The dead Master proves to be a hypnotised sailor in a mask. The Master drives off in a purloined hovercraft.

Overall, a very good story that holds up well over its six parts. It's nice to see a species being developed further. The help afforded by the Navy makes for an impressive production.
Things you might like to know:

  • The Doctor mentions that the name Silurian was a misnomer, and they should have more properly been called Eocenes. However, it is unlikely Homo-Reptilia could have developed in the Eocene era either. The story's working title was "The Sea Silurians".
  • The Doctor is about to imply at one point that he is thousands of years old. However, he may just have been talking about the amount of human history he has experienced.
  • As it was filmed out of sequence with The Curse of Peladon, this marks the last credit for Derek Ware's stunt team HAVOC. It is Stuart Fell's first recorded story - he's the back-flipping Sea Devil in the sequence of the hovercraft attack.
  • Famously, the design of the model submarine aroused the attentions of Whitehall spooks, as it appeared a bit too close to a top secret genuine propeller design.
  • The voice of the radio DJ is actually that of director Michael Briant.
  • A Rear Admiral is seen on deck wearing glasses - which is a production error as it would be against regulations. The actor is Norman Atkyns, who had earlier played the Guardian of the Doomsday Weapon in Colony In Space.
  • The Clangers episode being enjoyed by the Master is "The Rock Collector". This scene is referenced in the new series when the Master is caught watching the Teletubbies.
  • This is the only Pertwee story where he actually says he has "reversed the polarity of the neutron flow". He won't say the full phrase again until The Five Doctors.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

That Was The Week That Was 24.2.13

Sad news to end the week on, as it has been announced that the designer Raymond Cusick has passed away at the age of 84, after a short illness. His creation of the Daleks proved to be both a blessing and a curse for him. Worldwide acknowledgement but little financial gain. He was happy to be interviewed about them, but I'm sure he would have loved to talk more about some of his other work. It's tragic that he won't be around to help us celebrate the birth of the programme this Autumn, but his creations will be around forever.

The week began with more bad news, as it was announced that the actor Richard Briers had died at the age of 79. He played the Chief Caretaker in Paradise Towers, and the reclusive millionaire Henry Parker in the Torchwood story A Day In The Death. His wife of 57 years, Ann Davies, played Jenny in The Dalek Invasion of Earth and was a close friend of Jacqueline Hill up to her untimely death.

On to happier news, more has been revealed about An Adventure In Space And Time. Mark Gatiss' fellow League of Gentleman star, Reece Shearsmith, has been cast as Patrick Troughton - so the scope of the drama goes well beyond the origins of the programme. It will be interesting to see what other moments from the series are going to be recreated. Might we get Tenth Planet Cybermen? Nick Briggs is due to play original Dalek voice-man Peter Hawkins, and Dodo actress Jackie Lane is going to be played by Sophie Holt. No news yet on who is playing Peter Purves or Maureen O'Brien, who both feature. If Troughton is appearing, we should also have Michael Craze and Anneke Wills represented.

As for the week ahead, I am going to post on The Sea Devils tomorrow, then I am away from the computer for a few days. Normal service will resume on Saturday 2nd March. Look out for the Special Edition DVD of The Ark In Space tomorrow.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Story 61 - The Curse of Peladon

In which the Doctor gets the TARDIS working again, and decides to test it out by taking Jo to meet Captain Yates for a dinner date. The ship materialises instead on a rocky ledge on the storm-lashed planet of Peladon. After they leave it, the ship falls down the mountainside. They see a huge citadel far above them and decide to climb up to it - but come upon a cave which leads to a tunnel system.
In the palace above, alien delegates are gathering to assess the planet's suitability for membership to the Galactic Federation. Young King Peladon, whose mother was from Earth, fervently seeks this - but opposed is High Priest Hepesh. He thinks membership will see the planet enslaved, and the ancient traditions destroyed. The Chancellor, Torbis, who also favoured admission, has just been killed - and Hepesh blames the spirit of Aggedor - the mythical royal beast. When the Doctor and Jo turn up, they are assumed to be the Earth delegates. The Doctor is expected to chair the deliberations, whilst Jo poses as a royal observer - Princess Josephine of Tardis.

An attempt is made on the life of delegate Alpha Centauri - a hermaphrodite hexapod. The Doctor suspects the delegates from Mars - Ice Warrior Lord Izlyr and his deputy Ssorg. An attempt is also made to kill Arcturus, who travels around in a self-contained life support unit. Whilst evidence points towards the Ice Warriors, they suspect the Doctor. They are concerned that Jo's presence here is to facilitate a royal match - which would give Earth greater influence on this primitive but mineral-rich world. The King's Champion, Grun, lures the Doctor into the tunnels, where he finds that Aggedor is no myth. It is a savage furry beast with a single horn on its forehead. He is able to pacify it through hypnotism. When he finds himself in the inner sanctum of the temple, Hepesh accuses him of sacrilege - for which the sentence is death. Jo is appalled when the King can only offer combat to the death against his Champion instead of execution.

The Doctor wins the contest against Grun and elects to spare his life. Arcturus tries to kill him but is destroyed by Ssorg. It transpires that the dead delegate had been plotting with Hepesh to sabotage the proceedings - so that Arcturus could make its own treaty with Peladon for its wealth. In return, the old traditions would have been preserved. Hepesh had found Aggedor and kept it in the tunnels - training it to kill at his behest. He launches a coup and captures the King, Jo and the delegates. The Doctor fetches Aggedor and brings it to the palace - causing the rebel soldiers to surrender. When Hepesh orders it to kill the Doctor, it remembers his cruelty to him and strikes down the High Priest instead. Jo declines a wedding proposal from the King. The Doctor has realised that the Time Lords sent them here at this crucial point in the planet's history. They are going to stay on for the King's coronation - but make a hasty exit when the real Earth delegate finally arrives.

This four part story was written by Brian Hayles, and was broadcast between 29th January and 19th February, 1972. It is significant chiefly for the return of the Ice Warriors after a three year absence - seen in colour for the first time. It marks the Third Doctor's second trip in the TARDIS to a alien world - and the first UNIT-free story since producer Barry Letts took over - save for the reference to Mike Yates. None of the UNIT regulars appear.
Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks have stated that, apart from The Green Death, they never actively sought any story based on current affairs. It is a widely held opinion that the basic plot backdrop for The Curse of Peladon is influenced by the UK's efforts to join the European Common Market. Dicks claims this may have been "in the air" at the time - but it was not intended as a deliberate mirroring. The fact that the sequel to this story includes a miners' strike suggests that Brian Hayles was very much looking at the newspapers as he was writing.
The story features the biggest range of alien creatures since 1965's The Web Planet. As well as the Ice Warriors (played by Alan Bennion - Izlyr - and Sonny Caldinez - Ssorg), we have Alpha Centauri, Arcturus and Aggedor. Caldinez had been an Ice Warrior since the beginning, and Bennion was reprising his Lordly role from The Seeds of Death when he had played Slaar. It is a nice twist to have these old enemies now noble allies. The audience are expected to assume they are the villains of the piece.

Alpha Centauri is a wonderful creation - the costume containing stuntman Stuart Fell - and voiced by Ysanne Churchman. The combination of twitchy movement and screechy voice works very well. It adds a welcome element of humour to what is a rather dark, gothic tale. The rather phallic appearance had to be softened with the addition of a cloak - on the orders of director Lennie Mayne. Less effective is Aggedor - played by another stuntman, Nick Hobbs. It's a bit too obviously a man in a fur suit. Arcturus (Dalek operator Murphy Grumbar) looks quite impressive. Letts asked for the squeaky voice in order to tone down its scariness.
Of the Peladonians (Pels?), the young King is played by David Troughton, in his third appearance in the programme, and Hepesh is Geoffrey Toone.
Episode endings for this adventure are:

  1. As they leave the throne room, the Doctor sees a huge statue of Aggedor tumble from a ledge towards the delegates...
  2. The Doctor has desecrated the Temple of Aggedor. Hepesh insists the penalty is death...
  3. The Doctor has just won the contest. Jo screams as she sees Ssorg fire his weapon...
  4. Izlyr and the Earth delegate, Amazonia, enter the delegate's chamber just in time to see the TARDIS dematerialise...

Overall, quite an atmospheric little story, with an interesting array of alien creatures. It might be a bit slow and wordy for younger viewers. The Ice Warrior "twist" is welcome.
Things you might like to know:
  • At the time he was making this, David Troughton was sharing a flat with one Colin Baker.
  • Arcturus' skull-like head is adapted from an Ogron mask.
  • The DVD cover for this story has the wrong Alpha Centauri on it. In this story, its cloak is a ragged crepe material, whereas in the sequel it is thicker curtain-type material. That's how you tell them apart, Mr Hickman.
  • This was the first ever story broadcast out of production sequence. The Sea Devils was recorded first. This was never possible in the past as stories used to made too soon before transmission.
  • Stunt team PROFILE gets its one and only credit. This was set up by Terry Walsh (Pertwee's regular double amongst many other things). Walsh had taken over as the programme's stunt co-ordinator from Derek Ware, who ran the HAVOC group.
  • The episode three cliff-hanger is one of the most badly edited bits of Doctor Who ever. The opening scenes of part four don't help much. This is mainly down to Letts wanting to tone down the violence.
  • The Doctor reprises his Venusian lullaby from The Daemons to pacify Aggedor.
  • Foreshadowing events on Peladon in the sequel, episode three was missed by many in the UK due to a miners' strike. A special recap had to be shown before part four. Ratings were badly affected.
  • The Ice Warriors appear to have only one bed in their room. Either Ssorg doesn't sleep - or...

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Coming Soon DVD Special Editions

The covers for a couple of forthcoming DVD releases have been unveiled. The Inferno SE cover comes courtesy of Amazon UK, whilst have the one for The Visitation SE.
The former is due in the shops on May 27th, whilst the latter is out earlier in the same month (6th).

Sunday, 17 February 2013

That Was The Week That Was 17.2.13

Daleks took to Westminster Bridge again this week, as filming continued for An Adventure In Space and Time. On Tuesday the first official picture was released - showing an off duty Hartnell (reading a February 1964 Radio Times) alongside his wife.

Maureen O'Brien and Peter Purves are also due to be featured in the programme.

News about the anniversary episode as well on Tuesday - including that it will be filmed in 3D. The Daily Mirror chose to run with a story that all the Doctors will be appearing, but each of the actors is on record as saying they have heard nothing about this. Of course, they may just have signed confidentiality clauses in their contracts...
The Radio Times (which gave away 8 RT Doctor Who cover postcards) seemed to suggest a possible return for the Great Intelligence, and it has now been confirmed that there is certainly one new returning monster for Series 7 Part 2 - the Ice Warriors appearing in Mark Gatiss' Arctic submarine-set adventure.

Finally, classicdw announced that we would be getting an animated episode 4 when The Tenth Planet is released on DVD at the end of the year.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Tenth Planet on DVD

From, the BBC have announced the release of The Tenth Planet on DVD at the end of this year - with an animated Episode 4.

Pensioner in hit-and-run horror!!!

A Shepherd's Bush pensioner, who refused to be identified but is believed to be a doctor, was crossing the B29 at Wood Green yesterday evening when he was savagely knocked to the ground - on a Pelican Crossing - by two speeding vehicles. A speed camera caught the moment just after the impact. Both suspect vehicles are described as squat pepperpot domed thingies, each containing a bubbling lump of hate. One was painted gold, the other grey. After the accident, the gold one was reported as shouting out "That-is-for-Kem-bel-Time-Lord-swine!" before they both vanished down Verity Lambert Street - giggling maniacally about universal domination.
The victim - who is believed to be aged 469 and has been known to squat in an old Police Call Box in the area since 1963, according to locals - recovered quickly and was last seen running down Sydney Newman Road shouting "Don't worry! I'll kick their metal backsides when I get to Spiridon!".
Anyone who witnessed this incident is asked to come forward - but is already too late to make it onto the extras for the DVD release...

Story 60 - Day of the Daleks

In which UNIT is called in to investigate an apparition at Auderley House. Sir Reginald Styles is preparing to chair a vital peace conference in Peking. He is attacked by a man in combat gear, carrying a futuristic weapon, who vanishes into thin air. He shrugs the incident off, but the Doctor decides that a spot of ghost-hunting is called for - especially when the same man is later found unconscious, and the Doctor deduces the weapon comes from the future. Another group of guerillas break into the house and take the Doctor and Jo captive. They have come to kill Styles - to prevent a future catastrophe. Jo is accidentally thrown forward to the 22nd Century. One of the guerillas goes missing, and the others return to their own time. The Doctor goes with them to retrieve Jo - and just before they operate their time travel device he sees a Dalek.

The Doctor finds that the Daleks have invaded the Earth again in this time period and now rule the planet. Humans are treated as slave workers. There is only a small group of Daleks, but they use human agents and a police force of brutal ape-like Ogrons to enslave the population. Jo is unaware of the true nature of this society, being entertained by the Controller of the European Zone, who hopes to learn about the rebel group from her. He and the Daleks know that the guerillas are using stolen time travel technology to try to change history. The Doctor is captured, and the Daleks use a Mind Analysis Machine to identify him as their old enemy.

When the rebels learn that the Doctor is regarded as important to the Daleks, they decide to rescue him. They are successful - and the Doctor prevents them killing the Controller. At their base, the Doctor learns of events leading up to the Dalek invasion. Styles is supposed to have gone mad and destroyed the peace conference - leading to a terrible war which weakened the planet enough for the aliens to take over unhindered. The rebels now want the Doctor to go back and assassinate Styles. He learns of the missing guerilla - Shura - and works out what has happened. Shura had explosives with him. He must have completed his mission - blowing up the conference himself. The rebels have trapped themselves in a paradox - inadvertently creating this world themselves. The Doctor and Jo will return to the 20th Century to prevent this. An ambush is set to stop them - but the Controller allows them to escape. This costs him his life. The  Daleks mount an expedition to travel back and ensure the conference is destroyed. The meeting has been rearranged for Auderley House. As the Daleks and Ogrons battle UNIT troops, the Doctor finds the wounded Shura in the basement and tells him what has happened. The house is evacuated and the aliens allowed to enter - and Shura sacrifices himself to blow them up. Seeing what might happen if they fail, Styles and the other delegates commit to settling their differences.

This four part adventure was written by Louis Marks and was broadcast between 1st and 22nd January, 1972. It marks the opening of Season 9, and is most significant for the return of the Daleks after nearly 5 years (save for a couple of cameo appearances). They are also seen in colour for the first time.
After the introduction of the Master to launch the previous season, producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks wanted something big to launch this new series. As the Daleks had been off our screens for such a long time, they decided to ask Louis Marks to incorporate them into his tale of guerillas (and gorillas) from the future. Problem was, they forgot to ask Terry Nation... His agent quickly reminded the production team of his co-ownership role.
Nation had been trying to sell the idea of a Doctor-less Dalek series to US television and his efforts had come to nothing - so a few glasses of champagne over lunch at Pinewood Studios led to him giving his consent to use them. Indeed, he got a hankering to write for the programme again himself, and it was agreed that he would have first refusal on the next Dalek script.
That's the story according to Mr. Dicks. Barry Letts is on record as having disagreed and said that things had been arranged with Nation and his agent in advance - yet on more than one DVD commentary Letts agrees with Dicks. Dicks has the best story (including Sean Connery and his then wife, Diane Cilento, sitting at the next table) so - as the old adage goes - never let the truth get in the way of a good story. I'll therefore go with him.
Marks' core story - of a rebel group attempting to change the future only to find they had created that future themselves - a temporal paradox - is one of the very rare occasions when the programme about a time traveller had actually used time travel as a key element of the plot.

For such a significant story, Day of the Daleks is deeply flawed - and a lot of this is down to its pedestrian direction and editing. Director Paul Bernard proves to be one of the less inspired choices from Mr. Letts, and I'm surprised he was used again. An entire scene is omitted which makes an earlier one redundant. The Doctor and Jo are in the UNIT lab when they see themselves at the door. This was supposed to be explained by the Doctor and Jo at the end of the story arriving back to see their earlier selves in the lab. The latter scene was never filmed. There are only three Dalek props - a gold leader and two grey ones - and when they attack the house at the conclusion this fact is painfully apparent. Each recap of the cliffhangers is lifted entirely from the previous episode - to the point where we even get the musical sting.
The Dal-eks talk ex-treme-ly slow-ly, lab-ou-ring ov-er ev-er-y syll-a-ble.
The only guest artist really worth a mention is Aubrey Woods as the Controller. He's a traitor who eventually finds redemption thanks to the Doctor waking him up to himself and later saving his life. Rebel Anat - Anna Barry - is also very good.
Episode endings for this story are:

  1. The Controller informs his Dalek masters that someone has just used a time travel device. The Daleks announce that who-ev-er has done so is their en-em-y and will be ex-ter-min-at-ed.
  2. In a tunnel near Auderley House, the guerillas are about to use their time machine when the Doctor sees a Dalek.
  3. The Doctor is strapped to the Mind Analysis Machine, images of his previous incarnations on a huge screen. The Daleks have identified their old enemy and order his extermination.
  4. Auderley House has been destroyed - and the Doctor tells Sir Reginald that he and his fellow delegates must prevent the future that he and Jo have witnessed...

Overall, the weakest of all the Dalek stories, I'm afraid. After their lengthy absence we deserved better. The introduction of the Ogrons - masks designed by John Friedlander - is welcome. The original Dalek-free version might just have become widely regarded as a gritty stand-alone adventure.
Things you might like to know:
  • The Dalek Invasion of Earth is referenced, as the Daleks clearly state they have changed history and invaded "again". They are using fairly rudimentary time travel technology. The rebels have stolen this and made small hand-held devices. In my Dalek chronology (see my post on The Continuity of the Daleks) these ones originate from the 26th Century and the Master has given them the technology. The Daleks tell the Doctor they have "discovered" time travel - when he has already seen them using dimensionally transcendental time machines - but that's not until around the year 4000 AD.
  • The time travel devices don't behave the same way twice. The first time, it sends the owner back to the future irrespective of where they are in relation to it, whereas the second time it is the person holding it who travels - namely Jo.
  • The "Blinovitch Limitation Effect" is mentioned for the first time - the thing that stops people simply going back in time multiple times if they get it wrong. It is still referenced in the new series.
  • Some sources call this The Day of the Daleks - but on screen there is no "The...".
  • Whilst the TARDIS was able to pick up the closing credits of episode one of The Mind Robber on its scanner, the Daleks can get the end credits of episode three of this tale on their Mind Analysis Machine...
  • When this story was first released on VHS - one of the earliest edited together ones - poor, butch, rebel leader Monia has become Monica, according to the end credits.
  • Of course, if you want to see some of the defects in this story corrected, there is the Special Edition version on the DVD release - with more Daleks, more UNIT action, Dalek saucers in the skies, and Nick Briggs' Dalek vocalisations. They can't recreate that annoyingly missing scene in the UNIT lab though...

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Ice Warriors On A Submarine plus RT Hints

The Ice Warriors have been confirmed as returning in Mark Gatiss' first storyline for Series 7 Part 2. The Radio Times today also hints at a possible return for the Great Intelligence - so maybe the Yeti for the finale?
The RT also states that the 2013 Christmas Special will be made next after the Anniversary Special - so pretty much confirmation we won't see Series 8 until at least Easter 2014.
Other hints about the 50th include a Culture Show special, a convention, a series of BBC3 documentaries (apparently one per Doctor) plus a Radio 4 programme. RT also has the first official picture from An Adventure In Space and Time - featuring Bradley as Hartnell and Lesley Manville as his wife, Heather.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

That Was The Week That Was 10.2.13

The week began with the shock news that Peter Davison was not dead. Some Twit on Twitter attempted to start a rumour but didn't get very far with it.
The week is ending with more rumours of death - this time the 11th Doctor's, but we'll get to that shortly.
Filming has begun on An Adventure In Time And Space in Wimbledon and at the old Television Centre, W12. Mark Gatiss tweeted the above image - and at first glance it certainly looks remarkably like Billy.
We have now learned that William Russell is going to have a cameo in the production - as a character called Harry. Russell himself will be played by Jamie Glover (son of Julian and actress Isla Blair). Delia Derbyshire is going to be played by Sarah Winter, Jacqueline Hill by Jemma Powell, and Susan by newcomer Claudia Grant. Claudia just happens to have Hartnell's grand-daughter (Jessica Carney) for an agent, would you believe.
The programme does not just feature the build-up to the opening episode, according to Gatiss. It is about Hartnell's on-going working relationship with Verity Lambert - and so should take us further into the series.

And what of those other rumours? Well, as of May, Matt Smith is off to the USA to make a film called, appropriately enough, How To Catch A Monster - which is being directed by Ryan Gosling. This has led people to think that he won't be around to make any more Doctor Who. Whilst I don't think this is the case (as I'm not sure a regeneration would sit well with a celebratory anniversary story) I think it does have to make us beg the question - what about Series 8? Personally, I think we are going to have to wait until Easter 2014 for it. Remember that the episodes due to air this Spring actually belong to last year's Series 7 - so we're only averaging half a series per year.
If the BBC are cutting back, I would prefer some transparency from them on the issue. RTD was quite clear about the 2009 Specials year up-front and gave us the reasons for it. We might not have liked it - but at least he was honest with us.

Other news I think I have already covered this week - with the 2013 DVD release schedule, and the new issue of DWM (457). The latter is well worth purchasing just for the first part of a lengthy never before published Jon Pertwee interview, and The Planet of the Spiders in the Fact of Fiction section. There's also the Eleventh Doctor comic strip with first companions Ian and Barbara to enjoy.
In the coming week - don't forget to buy the Radio Times on Tuesday (or two copies, if you want all 8 postcards).

Lastly, I would just like to mark the passing of Peter Gilmore early in the week. He played Mr. Brazen in the Peter Davison story Frontios. He was most famous for his lead role in The Onedin Line, but he also notched up quite a few of the Carry On... movies. RIP Peter.

That 2013 DVD release schedule in full...

After telling us this week that The Ark In Space Special Edition was going to be pushed back to April, we now know that it is only being put back by one week to 25th February. The other releases for this year have now been announced - and they're a bit of a mixed bag. Who expected The Scream of the Shalka?

March 11th still sees another Special Edition - The Aztecs - featuring the recently found Hartnell Galaxy 4 episode "Airlock". An extremely cynical move on the part of classicdw. The original had perfectly good extras and I certainly wouldn't have wasted my money just to get an out of date BBC2 Chronicle programme and a documentary about merchandising.
Nothing in April, but 6th May sees yet another SE of The Visitation. And 27th May has the Inferno SE.
As of 3rd June we actually get a new release - the colourised The Mind of Evil.
And June remains blissfully SE free with The Terror of the Zygons on the 24th.
Blu-ray fans have July to themselves with the umpteenth release of Spearhead From Space. Expect retrospectives on Pertwee and Caroline John, which, I suspect, will turn up later on other SE's of already released stories. (In the same way that the "exclusive" Davros documentary on the box set somehow managed to get released on the Remembrance of the Daleks SE...).
A further Pertwee Special Edition in August with The Green Death (5th) and then the long awaited issue of The Ice Warriors (26th). No animation I surmise - as we would have heard about it by now. So classicdw wasted a lot of money animating the totally boring missing episodes of The Reign of Terror very badly for nothing. What do you expect when it gets given to Big Finish to make? Read Gary Gillatt's review in the new DWM if you think I'm the only one who thinks the direction is appalling.
Finally, we get that misbegotten animated thing - The Scream of the Shalka - on 16th September. For completists only, as they say. A very good  cast, but of course totally non-canonical - and you can find it on You Tube anyway.

Nothing whatsoever about The Tenth Planet, or episode 2 of The Underwater Menace - so they're dragging things out for another year. Expect more "Special Editions" on the way - i.e. a new 20 minute making-of doc tacked on to make you part with your hard-earned talmars.
The Company Be Praised!

Story 59 - The Daemons

In which things are quiet at UNIT HQ. The Doctor has fitted a remote control device to "Bessie". Jo is more interested in an archaeological dig which is going to be featured live on BBC3. The Brigadier is off to a fancy regimental dinner. And Yates and Benton would prefer to follow the rugby international. The Doctor watches part of the BBC3 build-up to the dig at Devil's End and observes local white witch Olive Hawthorne challenge archaeologist Professor Horner. He agrees with Miss Hawthorne that the excavation of the ancient barrow poses a great risk, and so he and Jo rush off to try and stop it. They arrive just too late and a freezing blast from the barrow chamber kills the professor and incapacitates the Doctor. Yates and Benton change channels just in time to see their friends in trouble before the TV signal is cut off. They are unable to get hold of the Brigadier, so commandeer his helicopter and fly down to the Wiltshire village.
The next morning, Yates and Benton arrive - noticing large hoof-like markings in the local countryside. There is a wave of intense heat - which causes the Doctor to wake up from his icy trance. The Brigadier finds out everyone has left the HQ - along with his helicopter - and so he too makes for Devil's End. However, when he gets there, he finds that the village has been cut off by an incinerating heat barrier.

Benton is looking round the church when he finds Miss Hawthorne held captive. He releases her - for which she is extremely grateful - and they go to the village pub, "The Cloven Hoof", where the Doctor is taking stock of the situation. The Brigadier is able to radio to them about the heat barrier. Miss Hawthorne is scathing about the recent behaviour of the new vicar, Mr. Magister. 'Magister' is the name given to the male leader of a black magic coven - and is Latin for 'Master'. The Doctor's old enemy is here, attempting to make contact with an ancient alien force which has lain dormant in the barrow for millennia. The Doctor and Jo go to the barrow and find what appears to be a model spaceship. It is a real craft, capable of altering its size. The barrow was originally built around it. The alien occupant - a Daemon - can also change dimensions. This process generates heat. They are attacked by Bok - a stone gargoyle which is normally to be seen in a cavern beneath the local church. It has been animated by the Master using psionic powers borrowed from the Daemon. The Doctor chases it off by confusing it with an apparent spell and the use of iron.

Members of the Master's coven try to kill the Doctor - trying to force him into the heat barrier (which results in the destruction off the UNIT helicopter), shooting at him, and later trying to burn him as a warlock. The Doctor gives the Brigadier a means of getting through the barrier. After Jo is captured and finds herself facing sacrifice, the Doctor enters the cavern under the church where the Master is summoning the Daemon - Azal. Daemons have been tampering with numerous civilisations' developments for thousands of years. One of their number is left behind in suspended animation - to awake later and evaluate the experiment. If successful, the Daemon hands over its powers and departs. If deemed unsuccessful, the experiment is destroyed. Their appearance has given rise to the many Devil legends. The Master wants Azal to hand over his powers to him - but the Daemon chooses to give them to the Doctor instead. When he refuses them, Azal is about to kill the Doctor when Jo offers herself instead. Such irrationality is too much for the creature to comprehend and he suffers a mind storm and self-destructs. Bok reverts to lifeless stone, and everyone flees the cavern before the church is blown up. The Master attempts to escape in "Bessie" but the Doctor uses the remote control to bring him back, and into the custody of UNIT.

This five part story was written by Guy Leopold, and broadcast between 22nd May and 19th June, 1971. It is the final adventure of Season 8. Returning to the programme after a lengthy gap is director Christopher Barry. He had some serious changeable weather conditions to contend with at the location - the village of Aldbourne.
Guy Leopold was actually a pseudonym for producer Barry Letts and his writing partner Robert Sloman. Whilst it was okay for Letts to direct occasionally, he could not be seen to be commissioning himself as a writer. The nom de plume derives from Sloman's son's name (Guy) and Letts' middle name (Leopold). Both writers were fascinated with the then current obsession with the mystical and esoteric - epitomised by New Age hippy culture. Whilst most looked back to ancient, pagan, supernatural myth, some writers had already tried to add extra-terrestrial elements to the mix. Letts and Sloman took these ideas and ran with them - having our occult legends and mysterious prehistoric landmarks explained as products of ancient alien intervention.
One function of the story was to bring the Master's involvement in the series to a temporary end - having appeared in every story of the season. He would be captured at the conclusion and put on ice for a bit - to reappear and escape later on in the following season.

For everyone associated with this production, there is nothing but good things to say about it. It is regarded as the ultimate "UNIT Family" story. Whilst it is a very, very good story, I would not go so far as to say it is even the best Pertwee era story. The Doctor is particularly "liverish" and snappy in this - especially towards poor Jo, though others get slapped down by him as well. Everyone else is having a wonderful time. Jo acts a bit dim but is eventually (inadvertently) instrumental in the defeat of the alien menace. Yates and Benton get to don their civvies and have a much greater share of the action, and the Brigadier gets some of his best lines. It's one of Delgado's best stories - even getting a cliffhanger to himself. To have him posing as the village vicar - a total subversion of the role - is a superb idea. I love the scene where he hangs out the dirty laundry of the self-righteous villagers. Such mundane things - when he is planning the conquest of all humanity.
The monsters derive naturally from the material (no giant wasps clumsily shoehorned into Agatha Christie, or flying sharks into Dickens, here). Azal (played by Stephen Thorne) is a huge half man, half goat being - with horns and cloven hooves. Bok (Stanley Mason) is an animated gargoyle - based on one from Notre Dame in Paris - who is a fire-spitting winged imp.
Principal guest artist is the wonderful Damaris Hayman as Miss Hawthorne, who has the hots for hunky Sergeant Benton. She nabs him for a fertility dance at the conclusion. Jo drags the Doctor into the maypole dancing as well - whilst the Brigadier and Yates quite sensibly make for the pub.

Episode endings for this adventure are:

  1. The Doctor rushes into the tunnel in the barrow as Professor Horner breaks into the inner chamber. Both are cut down by a freezing blast.
  2. As the Doctor and Jo examine the barrow interior, they are attacked by the gargoyle, Bok.
  3. Alone in the church cavern, the Master attempts to summon Azal. He finds he may have been over-confident in his abilities...
  4. The Master again summons Azal - this time with the full coven. Jo tries to stop him - but the horned beast materialises and grows to monstrous size...
  5. Azal is destroyed and the Master is captured. Yates invites the Brigadier for a dance round the maypole with the others, but he would rather have a pint...

Overall, a terribly good story but one which is very much of its era. Excellent performances from the regulars, and a wonderful turn from Damaris, though there is that irritable Doctor. If you are into the Age of Aquarius, Dennis Wheatley, Nigel Kneale and all that occult jazz then this is the story for you.
Things you might like to know:

  • Azal mentions the destruction of Atlantis as though he is responsible (a failed Daemon experiment). As I mentioned in my look at The Underwater Menace, this doesn't have to contradict the same writers' of this story's later assertion that Chronos was to blame.
  • According to Damaris Hayman on the DVD commentary - and having an interest in the occult she acted as a sort of unofficial adviser - the aliens should be pronounced "Dymons". The working title was the more straightforward "The Demons".
  • Hayman's cape was borrowed from her friend Margaret Rutherford - the cinematic Miss Marple.
  • Miss Hawthorne gives the Doctor the wizard name Quiquaequod - and Latin scholars will know exactly Who this refers to.
  • The exploding helicopter shot was lifted from the Bond film From Russia With Love.
  • Whilst the dig at Devil's End predicts by decades BBC3, such a programme would obviously never feature on that youth-centric channel. It's definitely something for BBC4. In the real world, BBC2 had covered the excavations at the prehistoric mound of Silbury Hill between 1968 and 1970.
  • There is a bit of an error with the heat barrier's dimensions. It is supposed to have a five mile radius, yet we clearly see a signpost giving only one mile to the village.
  • The explosion of the church really did elicit letters to the BBC - people not realising it was a model shot.
  • The BBC ran shy of upsetting any religious sensibilities, and so the cavern is never referred to as a crypt (part of a church) and the Master's invocations include the nursery rhyme "Mary had a little lamb..." recited backwards.
  • We get the Doctor's first use of Venusian lullabies (sung entirely coincidentally to the tune of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"). It translates as "Close your eyes my darling, Well, three of them at least...".
  • Probably the Brigadier's most famous lines - "Chap with wings..." were almost cut. Terrance Dicks got rid of them, only for Letts to reinstate them. Clever Barry.
  • The pub sign for "The Cloven Hoof" can now be viewed in the first section of the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff. As for the Bok prop - apparently someone nicked it and used it as a garden ornament. I wonder Who...?

"And these over here are Nestene Autojetsus..."

Saturday, 9 February 2013

The Last Cyberman?

It has been rumoured for a while, but we now have confirmation from the BBC that Neil Gaiman's story will be called The Last Cyberman. Interesting to find out what this specifically relates to, when we've already seen there are quite a few of them on show.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Ark In Space SE Delayed - updated

According to Amazon, this month's DVD release has now been put back to April 8th. No word why, nor about anything to replace it in the schedules - so guessing it will be a DVD free month.

Update 9th Feb - Amazon are now saying 25th February.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Radio Times - Free Postcards

According to the back page of today's new Radio Times, the next issue - which is released on Tuesday 12th February - will have four free RT Doctor Who Cover Postcards included. There are two sets to collect (so two copies of the magazine to purchase).
If the pictures are anything to go by, set one comprises The Tomb of the Cybermen, The Five Doctors, The Snowmen and the 1970 Pertwee introductory one.
Set two comprises The Day of the Daleks, The Waters of Mars, The Impossible Astronaut, and the Troughton-covered "Monstrous World of Doctor Who" one.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

That Was The Week That Was 3.2.13

Not a lot of news about the programme itself again this week, but news about the programme about the programme. Production has now begun on An Adventure In Time And Space, the drama chronicling the birth of Doctor Who. Written by Mark Gatiss, it will be shown in November as part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations.
David Bradley was cast as the first Doctor, William Hartnell, earlier this week. Other casting announced includes Brian Cox (who voiced the Ood Elder in The End of Time Part 1) as Sydney Newman; Jessica Raine (who will be featuring in Series 7 Part 2) is Verity Lambert, and Sacha Dhawan will play director Waris Hussein (see image above).
We've still to learn who the companions will be played by. (I'm hoping for Gatiss himself as Ron Grainer...).

I spent Monday evening watching The Reign of Terror DVD release. I have to admit to being very disappointed with certain aspects of the animated episodes. Whilst the artwork was superb, the direction was a mess. The jumpy editing and countless close-ups were irritating, and totally at odds with the surrounding sections. I would rather have seen something that gave us a proper feel for how the missing episodes might have been.

The Aztecs Special Edition DVD cover has now been released. I mentioned the extras last week, but will now add that the Coming Soon... is for The Ice Warriors - but don't expect that story to be released next. The Troughton story has been pushed back in the release schedule, and there is no word of any animation for the missing episodes so it might just be the soundtrack coupled with telesnaps which bridges the gap, as seen on the VHS release.
I received my copy of the new SFX magazine yesterday. There is a feature on the Hartnell / Troughton years, and the March 6th issue will cover the new series.
Lastly, this coming Thursday sees the release of the next issue of DWM (457). With only one more issue to come before the launch of Series 7 Part 2, lets hope it has some news about the series itself.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Story 58 - Colony In Space

In which the Time Lords have a mission for the Doctor... The Master has stolen secret files relating to the planet Uxarieus. At UNIT HQ, the TARDIS suddenly becomes active and takes the Doctor and Jo to the bleak rocky world - in the year 2472. They meet a group of Earth colonists who are struggling to survive in these harsh conditions. Though the planet is categorised as suitable for colonisation, plants are failing to grow. Reports are now coming in of a large reptile creature, seen by farmers staying in outlying areas. One household is attacked and the family killed. Uxarieus is believed to have only one indigenous lifeform - the primitive descendants of an ancient civilisation. They have not harmed anyone so far, and often barter with the colonists for food.
A stranger named Norton turns up, claiming to be from another colony which was destroyed by the reptiles. He also states that others in his group were killed by the Primitives.
A spaceship arrives belonging to IMC - the Interplanetary Mining Corporation. Captain Dent claims that the planet is actually designated for mineral exploitation. Both colonists and miners refuse to give ground, so an Adjudicator is called in.

The Doctor investigates the farm which was attacked and finds that a large monster could not have been responsible. A geologist named Caldwell takes him to see Dent. After failing to get the miners to withdraw, he is taken back to the farm by Morgan. Morgan controls a large mining machine which has been fitted with fake animal claws. If the Doctor interferes, he will be killed. Jo is captured by the Primitives and taken to their underground city. There are other beings here - small creatures who act as priests. The Doctor goes to the city to find her. They are both taken to an inner sanctum where they expect to be sacrificed. There is a third creature here - the Guardian - who is the last of the super-race that once ruled Uxarieus. It agrees to let them go - on the condition they never return.
Arriving back at the colonists' main dome, they find that the Adjudicator has arrived. This proves to be the Master, using a stolen uniform and credentials. His TARDIS is disguised as a spaceship. The Master finds in favour of IMC, but appears to change his mind when he learns of the Primitive city from the colony leader, Ashe. Important archaeological remains might prevent mining operations taking place.

The Doctor and Jo break into his TARDIS to find out what he is up to but are captured after a gas booby-trap is triggered. Jo will be held captive, whilst the Doctor will take him to the city. The Master reveals that he has learned from the stolen Time Lord files of a powerful weapon which is hidden on this planet. It was created by the super-race before it died out. Armed hostilities break out between the colonists and IMC. Norton is unmasked as an IMC agent, and is killed in a gunfight. The colonists lose the struggle and are forced to leave the planet - despite their spaceship being in no fit state to make another journey. Only Caldwell is sympathetic to their cause. As the Doctor and the Master go to the city, the colonist ship takes off and explodes - apparently with everyone on board. The Master tries to seize the alien weapon but the Guardian intervenes. It was radiation from the device which helped cause the decline of the super-race (and has been stopping the colonists growing their crops). The Doctor convinces the Guardian that the weapon will always be a potential force for evil, and the Guardian agrees to sacrifice itself to destroy it. The Time Lords flee before the city is destroyed. Only Ashe had been aboard the colonist ship when it took off, and the others reappear and ambush and the IMC men. Morgan is killed. The Master escapes. A real Adjudicator is called for, and Caldwell decides to join the colonists. The Doctor and Jo return to UNIT HQ, only seconds after they left.

This six part adventure was written by Malcolm Hulke, and was broadcast between 10th April and 15th May, 1971. It is the first story to be directed by Michael Briant (with future director Graeme Harper as Assistant Floor Manager).
Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks had been desperate to get the Doctor back onto alien planets after nearly two years of Earthbound stories - and the idea of the Time Lords giving him a mission allowed for this to happen. We get a brief scene of the Time Lords on their (still unnamed at this point) planet at the beginning of the story.
Malcolm Hulke was probably the most politicised writer for the programme, and he used real ecological concerns as the basis for his story. We have lots of concerns about globalisation and big business, and the industrial ruination of the Earth, today - and in the late 1960's and early 1970's these worries were just as prevalent. Significant numbers of people were choosing to "opt out" of the rat race and live a more natural life. Hulke also looked to the Western genre for inspiration. The colonists are the homesteaders, the Primitives Indigenous Americans and IMC the railroaders (or some other capitalist enterprise).

The Master makes his fourth consecutive appearance, and for the first time he is entirely superfluous to the plot. His theft of the Time Lord files might trigger the story (and flag up his inevitable appearance a few episodes in) - but the threat to seize the alien weapon could just as easily have come from some other source. We are engaged enough with the colonist / IMC / Primitive city goings-on that we forget at times that he was even mentioned at the start - especially when you consider the programme was never intended to be viewed in one sitting via VHS or DVD.
UNIT is still represented by the Brigadier, who tops and tails the adventure. Freed from the UNIT confines, it is a very good story for both Pertwee and Manning. Jo finds kindred spirits in the colonists, and the Doctor naturally leans towards their cause as well. Even if the planet had been legally intended for mining, he would still have sided with them.
The guest cast is uniformly strong. Colony leader Ashe, who refuses to condone violence against the IMC thugs, is played by John Ringham, who had earlier impressed as Tlotoxyl in The Aztecs. His opposite number on the IMC side, Captain Dent, is played with a calm, business-like malevolence by Morris Perry. Their respective seconds-in-command are played by Nicholas Pennell (fiery young colonist Winton, who does believe that violence can be justified) and Tony Caunter (the sadistic IMC man Morgan). Caunter had appeared briefly in The Crusade and would go on to find fame with a long-running Eastenders role. The man in the middle, the IMC man with a conscience who eventually joins the colonists - Caldwell - is played by one of the programme's best guest artists, Bernard Kay. This was his fourth and final role in the programme - having been Tyler in The Dalek Invasion of Earth; Saladin in The Crusade; and Inspector Crossland in The Faceless Ones. There is also an early appearance by Helen Worth, as Ashe's daughter Mary. She has played the same character in Coronation Street (Gail Platt nee Potter) since 1974.

Episode endings for this story are:

  1. The Doctor is alone at the dome which was attacked. He is menaced by a robot.
  2. As above - except we see that the robot is controlled by Morgan and has been fitted with fake claws.
  3. Jo is taken into a darkened cave which leads to the Primitive city.
  4. As the colonists and the IMC men fight, the Master decides that the Doctor is about to become the unfortunate victim of a stray bullet...
  5. Seeing on a video link that Jo is about to be rescued by Caldwell and Morgan, the Master prepares to kill her remotely by releasing a deadly gas...
  6. The Doctor and Jo are back at UNIT HQ after their alien excursion. The Brigadier points out that the TARDIS has only been gone a few seconds...
Overall, quite a good story, with a message to impart. There is a wee bit of capture / escape padding. The Master turning up does help to maintain momentum - though it could have been some other villainous character, as I've already pointed out. The Primitives and the diminutive priests are well realised, and their civilisation is given context and history. The puppet-like Guardian is less effective.

Things you might like to know:
  • One of the Time Lords in the opening section of the story is played by Graham Leaman - who is also a Time Lord in The Three Doctors - or the same Time Lord...
  • Regular extra Pat Gorman plays three different roles in this story - an IMC guard, a colonist and a Primitive. I'm surprised there isn't a scene of him shooting himself. He was also credited with providing the commentary for the IMC propaganda film which the Doctor views, but this was actually provided by director Briant. Pat will be getting his own post shortly.
  • Morgan was originally going to be a female character - to be played by Susan Jameson. This was vetoed by Letts' superior, Ronnie Marsh, who was effectively the programme's executive producer. Jameson had already been contracted, so was still paid in full.
  • The novelisation of this story - The Doomsday Weapon - has the Doctor and Jo meeting for the very first time. It is Jo's first ever sight of the TARDIS interior, and she does admit she didn't think it could really travel - despite seeing it dematerialise in The Claws of Axos.
  • In this story, TARDISes quite literally pop in and out of sight, rather than use the usual roll back and mix process. Michael Briant owned up to the fact on the DVD commentary that he was none the wiser as to how they should behave.
  • One of the colonists wears an Ambassadors of Death space suit.
  • Barry Letts was taken to task for using up the BBC's entire annual quota of false beards in this production, leading to incongruous clean-shaven characters in a number of high profile Dickens adaptations. Lord Mutton-Chops in The Adventures of Pip Pipkins, for instance, had to be remodelled as a female role - played by Susan Jameson. Or maybe not.