Sunday, 20 August 2017
Now in its third season, it had been decided that Doctor Who would comprise mainly four part adventures, with a six part Dalek story every six months or so. The Controller of BBC 1 - Huw Wheldon - was a big fan of the Daleks, as was his mother. He asked outgoing producer Verity Lambert to show more of the Skarosian menaces, and she came up with the idea that two Dalek slots could be combined to form one massive 12 episode adventure, that would run over the Christmas period. New producer John Wiles was horrified to inherit this, as it would take up most of his first year in charge. Knowing that Terry Nation would never be able to come up with all 12 episodes, Donald Tosh agreed that he would write half - the set-up and the conclusion - whilst Dennis Spooner would handle the middle section.
Dalek director Richard Martin had moved on, and so Douglas Camfield was hired to direct. As deadlines loomed, as Tosh tells it, Nation dropped off his scripts on the way to the airport, but these were mostly episode outlines rather than full scripts. As such, much of The Daleks' Master Plan ought to be credited to Tosh.
We've already looked at the origins of the Kemble-set opening episodes, thanks to the prequel episode Mission to the Unknown. We've still got the jungle warfare elements, and Nicholas Courtney's Bret Vyon is the new Bond-like character. Like Bond villains, the Daleks have got themselves a big base, a group of allies, and have developed a super-weapon - the Time Destructor.
There is a new, humanoid, villain added to the mix - would be ruler of the universe Mavic Chen (Kevin Stoney). He already runs the Solar System, but that isn't enough. Part Three sees the Doctor and company fleeing Kemble in Chen's stolen ship. This allows for the first of two chase sequences, so the story can introduce new locations and new adversaries. First we have the desperate criminals of Desperus. This prison planet is obviously influenced by the penal settlement of Devil's Island - the episode is actually called Devil's Planet. One of these hirsute felons - Kirksen - gets onto the ship and takes Katarina hostage in the airlock. She has been telling the Doctor that she knows she will die soon since she came aboard the TARDIS, and in Episode Four this comes to pass. She sacrifices herself to help the Doctor, opening the airlock to space. The first companion death, and she only came into the programme in the previous story. Tosh and Wiles had realised that someone from so long ago would need everything explained to them, or accept things that she ought to have questioned - which would have slowed the drama down to a standstill.
Watching her death scene at home was the director Stanley Kubrick, who was preparing 2001: A Space Odyssey. He wanted to know how the shots had been achieved. (Adrienne Hill had been filmed on a trampoline, shot from below. These death scenes were the first she filmed for the show).
The action moves onto Earth, where Bret's friend turns out to be in the pay of Chen and he is forced to kill him. He is himself shot dead by a new Security Agent - Sara Kingdom. She, the Doctor and Steven are accidentally transported to yet another jungle planet - mire-ridden Mira. Nation had introduced matter transmission to the programme with his travel dials in The Keys of Marinus. Mira is home to the invisible Visians. Nation will return to invisible aliens in a few years time. Sara admits that Bret was actually her brother, and quickly joins forces with the Doctor and Steven when the Daleks show up. She is clearly modeled on The Avengers companions Cathy Gale and Emma Peel, as well as some of the female agents encountered by Bond.
The Visians attack the Daleks, allowing the Doctor and company to flee, but the ship is drawn back to Kemble. In trying to create a fake Core for the Time Destructor, Steven accidentally shrouds himself in a force-field. This allows the Doctor to retrieve the TARDIS. There then follows the oddest episode in the history of Doctor Who - The Feast of Steven. This one went out on Christmas evening. It was felt that Daleks exterminating people on Christmas Day might not go down very well, so this episode is played for laughs. The first section sees the TARDIS materialise in Liverpool on Christmas Day, 1965. The Doctor gets arrested on a vagrancy charge - believed to be squatting in the new Police Box that's been delivered outside the police station. The Doctor thinks he recognises a man he meets in the station as having been in the market place of Jaffa. This is an in-joke as the man is played by Reg Pritchard, who had played the rather camp tailor Ben Daheer in The Crusade.
It had been hoped that the cast of Z Cars would have featured here, but their producer vetoed the idea. Steven pretends to be a Scouse policeman to rescue the Doctor and they move on. On the scanner, they see a woman about to be cut in half by a saw in a timber yard. Rushing to her rescue, they find that they have arrived in a Hollywood studio of the silent era. A number of films are in production - the Perils of Pauline type they first saw, another not unlike Valentino's The Sheikh, and a Keystone Kops affair. Morton Dill had thought they were filming a Keystone Kops routine when the TARDIS materialised on top of the Empire State Building in The Chase. Charlie Chaplin is referenced, and the Doctor meets Bing Crosby, who's thinking of giving up clowning to take up singing. Crosby never acted in comic roles in silent movies.
After fleeing back to the TARDIS, the Doctor then famously breaks the fourth wall by including the viewers in his Christmas toast.
The following episode aired on New Year's Eve. The Doctor realises that someone is following him and assumes that it is the Daleks, who have discovered that he had given them the fake Core. It transpires that it is not the Daleks at all, but a return appearance by the Meddling Monk, once again portrayed by Peter Butterworth. Spooner, his creator, is the author of this episode. The Monk's return - the series' first recurring character - allows for more humour over the festive period. Before meeting him, the TARDIS lands in the middle of a Test Match between England and Australia at the Oval cricket ground. The usually unflappable BBC cricket commentators are parodied, with one of them looking to see if this has ever happened before. After a brief meeting with the Monk on a volcanic planet, the TARDIS arrives in Trafalgar Square to witness the New Year celebrations. The Daleks have indeed found out that they have been sold a pup, and so send to Skaro for their own space time machine - allowing the story to be stretched out further. TARDIS, Monk and Daleks (with Chen in tow) all arrive in Egypt at the time of the building of the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza. It looks pretty much finished, so the year must be around 1260 BC. This setting was one of those originally intended for inclusion in The Chase. That previous Dalek pursuit had seen the Doctor's companions encountering Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster, and this time it is the Mummy who is referenced, as Sara and Steven see a bandaged figure emerge from a sarcophagus. It's just the Monk, trussed up by the Doctor.
The Doctor is forced to hand over the real Core to Chen. He has sabotaged the Monk's TARDIS yet again - making it look like a Police Box to draw Dalek fire, and he has stolen the directional unit - hoping it will be compatible with his older ship. The Monk is last seen on an ice planet, doomed to wander aimlessly until he can replace the unit. The unit does manage to get the TARDIS back to Kemble before burning itself out. Not content with one big base, the Daleks have built themselves another - an underground bunker. Chen's sanity finally collapses as he starts giving the Daleks orders, and it is only a matter of time before they exterminate him. The Doctor steals the Time Destructor and activates it. Time starts to unravel forwards. The jungle turns to desert, and Sara ages to death. The second companion death, within the same story, though there continues some debate about whether or not she is a proper companion. Steven rescues the Doctor, and throws the Destructor into reverse. The Daleks regress to embryos, and John Wiles and Donald Tosh start writing their resignation letters.
Next time, Steven sees double and the Doctor looks for a chemist shop in 16th Century Paris...
Thursday, 17 August 2017
According to the TARDIS databanks, on the planet of Castrovalva existed Dwellings of Simplicty. Here, the Doctor would be isolated from all technology, and so free to heal after his fourth regeneration. Castrovalva appeared to be a hilltop citadel, and its people were a friendly, peace-loving humanoid race. They engaged in ritualised hunting parties, wearing furred, masked costumes that had belonged to their ancestors. Librarian Shardovan refused to participate in these hunts. Their leader was a wise old man - the Portreeve. The Doctor was placed under the care of physician Mergrave, and soon recovered. He decided to read the history of Castrovalva, which chronicled the city from the coming together of various tribes up to the present day. He discovered that, though supposedly old, this had been written by Shardovan. He soon became aware that Castrovalva was not what it appeared. It was subject to dimensional instability. Mergrave became confused about its geography when asked to draw a map showing his apothecary. Shardovan had created the history because he had come to realise that his people had none. They were all a creation of the Master, harnessing Adric's mathematical skills to create block transfer computations. He had been the Portreeve in disguise.
When the Doctor freed Adric, the city began to collapse in on itself. The Castrovalvans turned on their creator - ensnaring him in his own trap.
Appearances: Castrovalva (1982).
- "Castrovalva" is the name of a work by the artist M C Escher, famous for his strange optical illusions. A print had hung behind the desk of producer John Nathan Turner's boss, and it had always annoyed him.
The Doctor had encountered two other holders of this post on Gallifrey before he met this unnamed individual. The Castellan was a senior Time Lord, responsible for internal security. He commanded the Chancellery Guards. This Castellan held a seat on the High Council, and was one of its key members. At the same time that he was investigating the apparently accidental death of a Time Lord technician, the Time Lords became aware that an entity from the universe of Anti-Matter was attempting to break into this universe by bonding itself physically to the Doctor. The Castellan had the TARDIS recalled to Gallifrey, materialising it in a security area. A humourless and obsessive man, he failed to heed warnings by a friend of the Doctor's - Damon - that might point towards a traitor at work. He pursued the Doctor ruthlessly. When the Doctor was captured and sentenced to vapourisation the Castellan harboured doubts, and ordered Captain Maxil of the Chancellery Guards to investigate the execution. A fellow member of the High Council - Hedin - was the traitor, seeking to bring Omega back from his long exile. Hedin manufactured evidence that made President Borusa look like he was in league with the Doctor. The Castellan was prepared to shoot down the Doctor when he went to arrest Borusa, but Hedin intervened and was killed, as he knew Omega needed the Doctor alive.
Later, when the Doctor was taken out of time in all of his regenerations and deposited in the Death Zone on Gallifrey, the Castellan was once again part of the inner circle of the Council. This was the work of Borusa. Knowing of the animosity felt by the Castellan towards the Doctor, he made the perfect scapegoat to throw attention away from himself. He arranged for the forbidden Black Scrolls of Rassilon to be found amongst the Castellan's effects and ordered his arrest - authorising use of the Mind Probe to interrogate him. He then engineered his murder, employing a Chancellery Guard Captain to shoot him down in a faked escape bid.
Played by: Paul Jerricho. Appearances: Arc of Infinity and The Five Doctors (1983).
- A Castellan is the governor of a castle.
Lady Cassandra O'Brien dot Delta 17 claimed to be the last pure bred human, and so was a guest on Platform One in the year 5 Billion to witness the final destruction of the Earth. Born a boy in Texas, she had grown up in England. After transitioning to a woman, she became obsessed with her appearance and embarked on hundreds of surgical procedures to improve her looks - resulting in her becoming a piece of skin stretched on a frame, with eyes and mouth, and with her brain held in a jar. She married several times, outliving all of her wealthy husbands.
She arrived on the Platform with attendant nurses, whose main job was to keep her permanently moisturised. She brought gifts of an ostrich egg (which she believed to have been a beast like a dragon), and a Wurlitzer juke-box, which she thought was an i-pod.
Desperate for funds to finance her next cosmetic operation, she hatched a plan to engineer a hostage situation on the Platform. She employed the Adherents of the Repeated Meme to distribute metal spheres to her fellow guests, inside each of which was a robot spider programmed to commit acts of sabotage. When it appeared that the Platform would be destroyed, she opted for a back-up plan, having invested heavily in the competitor firms of those aboard. She transmatted off the Platform, but the Doctor reversed this and brought her back. Without her attendants, the heat in the station caused her to dry out and she burst apart.
A faithful servant named Chip, who was a short-lived clone, salvaged her brain and eyes, and connected them up to a new body made from another piece of her skin. He hid her in the basement of the hospital on New Earth. She spent her time reminiscing about her earlier life, and plotting to discover the secrets of the cat-like Sisters of Plenitude who ran the hospital. Her robot spiders alerted her to the fact that Rose and the Doctor had arrived on the planet and were coming to the hospital. She tricked Rose into going to the basement and employed a psycho-graft to transfer her mind into Rose's body. Her own body and brain died. She pretended to be Rose and helped the Doctor discover what the Sisters were up to - growing cloned humans to use as laboratory guinea-pigs. They carried many virulent diseases, and Cassandra released them. At one point she transferred herself into the Doctor. On another occasion she entered one of the clones, and was shocked by the loneliness she felt there. When forced to vacate Rose's body and accept her inevitable demise, Chip stepped in and became a willing host for her. His life had been almost over, however. The Doctor took her to visit her earlier self, when she still had a humanoid body. She had based Chip on the last person ever to tell her she looked beautiful - which proved to be her future self.
Played by: Zoe Wanamaker. Appearances: The End of the World (2005) and New Earth (2006).
- According to a BBC reference book (Monsters and Villains), Cassandra was born Brian Edward Cobbs.
- Wanamaker was making a number of appearances in the Poirot TV series at the time these episodes were filmed, so only had limited time to record her dialogue, and to have motion capture done on her facial features in order that the Mill could animate her.
Daughter of Priam, King of Troy. She feared that the city would fall after it accepted a gift from the Greeks, and at first thought that this might be the TARDIS, which brother Paris had found. She insisted it be burnt - prompting Vicki to leave the ship. Cassandra could foresee the future, though she was cursed that no-one would believe her prophesies. When it became clear that Vicki knew Steven, who was posing as a Greek warrior, Cassandra had her thrown into prison. When the city fell, Cassandra was taken captive and given to Agamemnon. Her handmaiden, Katarina, joined the TARDIS crew.
Played by: Frances White. Appearances: The Myth Makers (1965).
- There is a popular myth that White asked the Radio Times not to credit her. She has denied this and states that it was a mistake by the publication.
- In Greek mythology it was Apollo who gave Cassandra the gift of prophesy, and added the curse of never being believed when she spurned him. She was raped by Ajax in the temple dedicated to Athena, who wrecked the Greek fleet in revenge. Cassandra was killed along with Agamemnon shortly after they reached Mycenae.
Monday, 14 August 2017
In which Jack wakes from a vivid nightmare - a memory of something which happened to him decades ago. As an officer in the British army he was traveling through India in the boxcar of a train when it passed through a tunnel. Within seconds, all of his men were dead - suffocated with rose petals. Jack finds a lone petal beside his bed. The next day he takes Gwen to see a lecture about local folklore, given by an old friend of his named Estelle Cole. She has taken some photographs which she claims show Faeries, taken in a local woodland.
At Estelle's home, Gwen sees a photo of her as a young woman, with a man who looks exactly like Jack. He claims that this was his father, who courted Estelle for a time. Jack warns Estelle that Faeries are not the benign creatures she believes them to be, but she refuses to accept this. Outside, he tells Gwen that they are beings from outwith Time itself and are totally amoral. Back at the Hub, Jack asks Toshiko to monitor for any unusual weather events, as these can indicate Faery activity.
A young girl named Jasmine lives in a house that backs onto the woodland where Estelle saw the creatures. She is a solitary child, with no friends, and who does not get on with her mother's boyfriend, Roy. He fails to pick her up from school and so she walks home. A man named Mark Goodson attempts to lure her into his car. Jasmine does have friends - ones that only she can see. A fierce wind forces Mark to withdraw and he feels that someone is hunting him. In a nearby market he begins to regurgitate rose petals. He finds a police officer and asks to be arrested, admitting that he is a paedophile. In custody, he dies - suffocated by petals. Jack and Gwen are called in to investigate the death. Jack tells Gwen about the events in India, back in 1909. Some of his men had drunkenly run over and killed a child. This child was a chosen one for the Faeries, and this is why they killed his men in the train.
That night Estelle hears someone prowling outside her home and calls Jack. Going out into the garden to fetch her cat she is caught in a torrential downpour. This freak weather is spotted in the Hub. By the time Jack gets to the house, Estelle has died from drowning. Jack admits to Gwen that the man in the photo was him. Returning home, Gwen finds her flat has been ransacked. A miniature sculpture, like a stone circle, has been left on the floor.
The next day, Jasmine is bullied at school. The playground is buffeted by strong winds, causing everyone to panic - all except Jasmine. Owen has discovered that the piece of woodland where Estelle saw the Faeries - Roundstone Woods - has always been wild and never been built upon, despite redevelopment all around it. It contains an ancient stone circle. When Jack and Gwen investigate the school, Gwen is convinced that something is watching them from the trees. They decide to go and speak to Jasmine. Roy has boarded up the fence to stop Jasmine from going into the woods. A party is being held to celebrate the fifth anniversary since Roy started going out with her mother. It is attacked by winged, green-skinned creatures. One of them kills Roy, suffocating him. Jasmine runs into the woods. Jack realises that the girl has been chosen to join the Faeries, and that nothing will prevent this. To the horror of his colleagues and her mother, Jack allows the creatures to take Jasmine.
Back at the Hub, Gwen is studying images of the Cottingley Fairies, taken in 1917. She zooms in on one of the faces of the dancing figures, and sees that it shows a smiling Jasmine.
Small Worlds was written by P J Hammond, best known for creating Sapphire and Steel. It was first broadcast on 12th November, 2006.
Hammond had been sounded out for a Doctor Who contribution by script editor Eric Saward in the mid 1980's, though nothing had come of the approach.
For a change, there are no alien aspects to the story, though Jack does reference a monster from the classic era of Doctor Who. The Faeries are Earthbound creatures, who have always lived alongside us, though they don't follow linear time. I've read a lot of Scottish folklore, and Faeries feature prominently. The stories rarely show them in a benign light. At best they are amoral. They are often alleged to steal children, or nursing women to feed their own children, replacing them with a piece of wood. Another popular tale is that of the person who joins them in a dance. He thinks he has only been with them a few hours, whereas a year or more has really passed. In one version, a whole century has gone by.
Child abduction features in the Doctor Who series 2 story Fear Her, but at no point is it ever even suggested that this may be due to a paedophile. Small Worlds tackles this subject head on, in the character of Goodson.
Jasmine is played by Lara Phillipart. She features in The Idiot's Lantern, watching the Coronation at the Connolly household. Estelle is Eve Pearce. She's a poet as well as an actor.
Overall, one of the highlights of the first season. Hammond is a great writer, and his contribution to the second season will be one of its best.
Things you might like to know:
- The Doctor Who monster Jack refers to is the Mara - from Kinda and Snakedance. He suggests that the Faeries might be part Mara. At least that's the conclusion fans jump to. Hammond would be referencing the Germanic legends, where the Mara can steal peoples' breath and are the derivation of the word "nightmare", whereas Christopher Bailey was inspired by a Buddhist demon.
- It has been implied that Jack never sleeps, yet here we see him in bed, waking from a nightmare.
- The Torchwood website claimed that Jack's role in India, 1909, was when he was acting as a con-man, out to steal diamonds.
- The Cottingley Fairies were revealed to have been a hoax in the early 1980's, when the two cousins who feature in the pictures admitted they cut the figures from a book and fastened them with hat pins. When first revealed to the public, they caught the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was convinced of their authenticity. The August 2017 edition of Fortean Times has a feature, marking the centenary of the photographs.
- The episode ends with a quotation from The Stolen Child, by W B Yeats - a devout believer in the supernatural. It runs: "Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild. With a faery hand in hand. For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand".
Friday, 11 August 2017
Three figurines again this month - two regular releases plus the latest of the special editions. First of all we have the Professor Yana Master. An extremely good likeness of Derek Jacobi.
With him is Dalek Caan, as he appeared in The Stolen Earth / Journey's End, with the casing broken open. This is one of those figurines that looks odd out of context, being so brightly coloured. On screen it was kept in a harsh spotlight, in a darkened chamber.
The special edition figure is the Yeti, as it appeared in The Web of Fear. It is roughly twice the size of the normal figurines. Unfortunately, mine came with a couple of the talons broken off - that's three months running I've had to get the super-glue out. Either Eaglemoss need to improve their packaging, or my postman has to to go.
Next month we will be treated to Sharaz Jek, from The Caves of Androzani, plus - what it possibly the most pointless release yet - the Space Pig from the Series 1 Slitheen story. October sees an Ogron plus a Cheetah Person, whilst the next special edition will be Aggedor.
Tuesday, 8 August 2017
Until relatively recently, it was widely accepted that a man named Homer wrote an epic poem about a legendary war - and of a ten year siege by Achaean (Greek) heroes of a city named Troy.
More recently it has become widely accepted that the Greeks really did besiege and destroy the city of Troy, in the Dardanelles, during the Bronze Age. It's Homer himself who has become the myth.
If he did exist, he certainly wasn't a first hand observer of the conflict - he lived several centuries later.
It appears that the tale was handed down orally over those centuries by story-tellers until someone - possibly Homer - wrote it down. But the germ of the poem came from first hand accounts of a real conflict. There's corroboration in Hittite texts of a Mycenaean Greek High King campaigning in Asia Minor in the area where archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann unearthed the ruins of the city he believed to be Troy, which had clear destruction layers. The Greeks had built a new city on top of this, and the Romans had built another on top of that. Alexander the Great had no problem identifying it as the site of Troy. He was shown the tomb of Achilles - a mound near the site - and is said to have swapped his own shield for that of his hero.
That's as much as we can say about a conflict in the region in the Bronze Age. The details, such as Paris abducting Helen; her husband Menelaus seeking help from his brother - Agamemnon - and other Greek city states to lay siege; the siege lasting ten years; and the subterfuge of the Wooden Horse etc - all this can never be proved. Some of it is certainly artistic licence on the part of the bards who first told the tale.
We've said a lot about Homer, but nothing so far about the Doctor. The Myth Makers - always known under this title - was written by Donald Cotton. He had written a number of plays for the Third Programme, most inspired by the classical Greek myths. When story editor Donald Tosh invited him to contribute a storyline to Doctor Who, he settled on the legend of the Wooden Horse of Troy. Cotton elected to make the episodes humorous, but with a sudden switch to darkness in the final section when Troy would fall, and most of the characters would be killed.
The action begins with the TARDIS materialising near Troy. The Doctor goes out to confront two men who are fighting - distracting one of them (Hector) long enough for the other (Achilles) to kill him. Achilles takes the Doctor to be Zeus, and he plays along as he's taken to the Greek camp where he meets Agamemnon, the spineless Menelaus - who just wants to go home and isn't that bothered about getting Helen back - and the cynical Odysseus, who wants proof of his divinity. Steven comes looking for the Doctor, gets taken for a Trojan spy, and so the Doctor has to step in to save him. He decides to show Odysseus his "temple" - the TARDIS - but when they get there it has gone. Vicki, nursing a sore ankle, was still inside. She emerges from the ship after it has been carried into Troy.
Vicki needs to be rescued from the city by Steven, whilst the Doctor is challenged to come up with a way of capturing it. She falls in love with King Priam's son Troilus, whilst making an enemy of his sister Cassandra, the prophetess. Steven pretends to be a warrior named Diomedes and allows himself to be captured by Paris - so he can get to Vicki. The Doctor decides that the Wooden Horse must have been made up by Homer, so he won't be messing with history if he suggests it to Odysseus.
The city falls, the Trojans are massacred - except for Cassandra who gets taken captive, Troilus, who runs off with Vicki (who changes her name to Cressida), and Katarina, a handmaiden who looks like she's going to be the new companion as she departs in the TARDIS with the Doctor and Steven.
As well as the general myths of the Trojan War on view, the other big inspiration is the story of Troilus and Cressida. Shakespeare's play is probably the best known version, but earlier than that we have Chaucer's poem - and he is said to have taken the idea from Boccaccio. He in turn took inspiration from 12th Century poet Benoit de Saint-Maure. The two lovers fail to live happily ever after in the literary sources - with Troilus slain in battle and Cressida taking a Greek lover, ironically the person whom Steven is impersonating.
Whilst on the subject, Diomedes was not killed during the Trojan War. He returned to Greece and successfully founded a number of new cities.
Maureen O'Brien only discovered she was being written out of the series on her return from holiday at the end of Season 2. New producer John Wiles had heard her complain about the scripts for Galaxy 4, and thought she wanted to leave, so asked Tosh to arrange it as soon as possible. Of the four companion departures to date, that's two who have fallen in love with someone in the course of a few days, though Susan never got to make the decision to leave the TARDIS for herself.
Homer's Iliad is set in the later stages of the war, but ends before the fall of Troy - so the Wooden Horse doesn't feature. It is briefly mentioned in his other great work - The Odyssey - though that is set after the war has ended, when Odysseus is trying to get home to Ithaca. It is actually to the Roman writer Virgil that we should look for the full story of the Horse - in The Aeneid. Virgil recounts the story of the actual fall of the city, and of how the survivor Aeneas, after much wandering, arrives in Italy and founds Rome.
As far as Donald Cotton was concerned, the Wooden Horse was simply inspired by a Siege Machine. Though not common, they had been used at the time the war was set. An interesting theory is that the Horse was not a real one but a metaphorical one. The horse was one of the symbols of Poseidon. As well as being god of the seas, he was also responsible for earthquakes. Archaeologists working at Troy have found that it is not always possible to confirm if an area of destruction was man-made, or the result of a natural disaster like an earthquake. Troy lies in modern Turkey, which is geologically unstable.
Was the idea of a ten year siege such an unlikely one? It is written as though it was continuous, but warfare up until the formation of standing armies was a seasonal thing. You went off campaigning each year, but went home for important things like the harvest. A campaign lasting ten seasons is perfectly feasible.
Even something as fantastic as Achilles' vulnerable heel might have its derivation in truth. Experts have recreated armour from Bronze Age Asia Minor. It affords a great deal of protection - apart from the back of the lower leg...
Next time, it's back to Kembel for Dalek shenanigans of epic proportions.
Friday, 4 August 2017
Crew member of the Drum - an underwater mining facility in a flooded valley in the North of Scotland. The crew had found a strange craft on the lake bed and brought it into the complex. Its engines suddenly fired - killing the commander, Moran. His ghost appeared moments later, and the crew had to seek shelter in a Faraday Cage which the spirit Moran could not enter. Another, alien, ghost appeared - dressed like a funeral director.
As Cass was second in command, she took charge. She had been deaf since birth, and had a colleague named Lunn who signed for her. Cass was very protective towards Lunn - refusing to allow him to enter the craft. Fortunately, this prevented him from becoming a victim of the ghosts - transformed into another of their kind. Her protectiveness was because she was in love with him, but didn't feel she could say so. He was secretly in love with her in return.
Lunn's immunity proved helpful once the Doctor and Clara arrived and helped them investigate what was going on. Whilst Cass couldn't hear an approaching ghost, she could feel the vibration of the axe it was dragging, and this saved her life.
Another victim of unrequited love, her colleague Bennett convinced Cass and Lunn to admit their feelings towards each other after the ghosts had been neutralised.
Played by: Sophie Stone. Appearances: Under the Lake / Before the Flood (2015).
- Sophie was a 24 year old single mum when she became the first deaf actor to be enrolled at RADA. Inspiring.
Pilot of a spaceship which was breaking up near the orbit of the planet Karn. She had transported her crew off the vessel and stayed behind. The Doctor materialised the TARDIS aboard the vessel and attempted to rescue her. On discovering that he was a Time Lord, she refused to go with him - believing both sides in the Time War to be just as bad as each other. The Doctor decided not to leave her, and remained on the ship when it crashed. He was taken from the wreckage, dying. Cass was already dead, and the Sisterhood of Karn could not bring her back. This prompted the peace-loving Eighth Doctor to regenerate into the incarnation known as the "War Doctor".
Played by: Emma Campbell-Jones. Appearances: Night of the Doctor (2013).
Daughter and grandson of Captain Jack Harkness. Her mother was Lucia Moretti, who worked with Jack in Torchwood Three. She left the organisation in 1977, and put her daughter under deep cover - as Alice Sangster. She went on to marry Joe Carter, and had a son - Steven - in 1999.
Alice knew all about her father, and refused to have any connection with him - knowing the dangers associated with him. They started limited contact after Lucia died - Jack being passed off as an uncle to Steven due to his apparent younger age.
When the aliens known as the 456 began to send messages to Earth through its children, Steven was one of those affected. The Government elected to destroy Torchwood as part of a cover-up, as Jack had been involved in an earlier encounter with the species. Agent Johnson traced Alice and Steven and took them into custody, as a means of getting Jack, Gwen and Rhys to hand themselves in. They were released when Jack convinced Johnson that there was a way to combat the aliens. This needed a child to be used as a conduit for a signal. To save millions of other children, Jack allowed Steven to be used. The signal worked, but Steven was killed. Alice refused to speak to him after this, and in remorse Jack fled from Earth.
Played by: Lucy Cohu (Alice), Bear McCausland (Steven). Appearances: TW: Children of Earth (2009).
Commander of the Teselecta - Justice Department Vehicle 6018. This humanoid-shaped machine could transform its appearance to look and sound like anyone. The original person was transported inside it. If a wrong-doer, they were killed by the machine's robotic Antibodies. Others were given a wristband device which protected them.
Within the Teselecta were some 421 miniaturised crew members. The machine could travel through Time - visiting people who had committed serious crimes and who had managed to escape justice, usually by dying. Carter's vessel travelled to Berlin in 1938 to punish Adolf Hitler, taking on the appearance of a Nazi officer named Zimmerman. Carter realised that they had arrived seven years too early. The Teselecta was then knocked down by the crashing TARDIS. When Amy and Rory's friend Mels regenerated into River Song, Carter realised that he had a new target - as she was the killer of the Doctor. He was prevented from harming her by her daughter, who disabled the Antibody safeguards - forcing Carter and his crew to abandon ship and return to their mothership.
The Doctor encountered Carter again when the Teselecta was disguised as Gideon Vandalour of the Silence, frequenting a bar in the docklands of Calisto B. After giving him information about Silence agent Gantok, Carter allowed the Doctor to use the machine to feign his death.
Played by: Richard Dillane. Appearances: Let's Kill Hitler, The Wedding of River Song (both 2011).
Penny Carter was the science correspondent for The Observer newspaper, investigating the weight loss claims of Adipose Industries at the same time that the company was attracting the attention, separately, of the Doctor and Donna Noble. Whilst not suspecting alien activity, she was concerned about their miraculous results. She decided to hide in the company's HQ after it had closed, concealing herself in a cubicle in the Ladies' toilets. Donna had the same idea, and at first thought that it was she who had been discovered by Miss Foster and her security men. Whilst being interrogated in Miss Foster's office, the Doctor and Donna spied on her, he from outside the window and she from the glass panel on the door. This was the first time they had seen each other since the Racnoss incident of two Christmases ago. Penny was untied, only to be recaptured and tied to a chair again. After the Adipose spacecraft had come to collect their youngsters, and Miss Foster had plunged to her death, Penny emerged from the building - still tied to a chair. She was convinced the Doctor and Donna were crazy.
Played by: Verona Joseph. Appearances: Partners in Crime (2008).
- Had Catherine Tate not returned to do Series 4, journalist Penny Carter would have been the new companion to replace Martha Jones.
Dr Carter was a pathologist at the hospital to which Sarah Jane Smith was taken after being caught up in a quarry blasting accident. At the Doctor's behest he investigated the stone hand which she had been found clutching. The hand appeared to have a helical structure like DNA, and it absorbed radiation from the electron microscope examining it. Sarah woke and stole the hand, knocking Carter out with a blast of energy from the blue crystal ring which the hand had worn. Carter insisted on accompanying the Doctor to the Nunton Nuclear Power Complex, where Sarah had taken the fossil.
The ring caused anyone who came under its influence to fall under the power of the hand's owner - an alien named Eldrad. They were compelled to prevent anyone from hindering the hand's attempts to reconstitute itself. Crying "Eldrad must live!", Carter attacked the Doctor with a wrench, but he lost his balance and fell from a high gantry to his death.
Played by: Rex Robinson. Appearances: The Hand of Fear (1976).
- Third and final appearance by Robinson in the programme - all in stories directed by Lennie Mayne. His first was as another doctor - Tyler - in The Three Doctors. He then played the miners' leader Gebek in The Monster of Peladon.
- His wife - Patricia Prior - also featured in The Three Doctors, playing Mrs Ollis.
Tuesday, 1 August 2017
In which the Torchwood team go out for a drink, leaving Ianto in charge of the Hub. Once alone, he ushers in a Japanese doctor - Tanizaki - and leads him to the lowermost depths of the complex. In a storeroom he introduces the doctor to his girlfriend - Lisa Hallett. She is connected to a Cyber-conversion unit, her body partially transformed into a Cyberman. Ianto explains that she had worked with him at Canary Wharf when the Cybermen invaded. He had managed to rescue her, along with the unit, and smuggled them into the Hub. He is searching for a means of restoring her humanity to her. A UFO sighting over Cardiff Bay brings the rest of the team back early. Ianto goes upstairs, leaving Tanizaki with Lisa. There is a massive power loss, and Ianto sees that it comes from the basement. Claiming this has happened earlier, he goes alone to see what the problem is - rushing to the storeroom. Here he finds the doctor dead, having been partly converted by Lisa.
Ianto is horrified that she has destroyed his hope of saving her. He hurriedly hides the body, but Lisa reactivates the conversion unit to draw more power. Tosh discovers that the CCTV has been tampered with, but some of it is retrieved and they see Ianto welcoming the doctor. The power drain causes the Hub to go into lock-down. Gwen and Owen go to the basement to investigate and discover the conversion unit. They report back to Jack. Owen is knocked out and Lisa attempts to convert Gwen. Jack arrives in time to stop the process, but Ianto stops him shooting Lisa and she escapes into the Hub. To give Tosh time to recharge the power supply, Jack allows himself to be "deleted" by Lisa. She turns on Ianto, knocking him unconscious. Jack sprays her with BBQ sauce - causing her to be attacked by the pterodactyl which lives in the Hub.
This allows everyone to escape to the surface using the invisible lift to the plaza above. Jack gives Ianto an ultimatum - kill Lisa or he will come down after 10 minutes and shoot them both. Meanwhile, a pizza delivery girl named Annie has found the entrance to the Hub unlocked and she descends into the complex. She encounters Lisa. When Ianto goes to the basement storeroom he finds Lisa dead, but she has transplanted her brain into Annie's skull. When she fails to see the wrong she has done - and recommends that Ianto also upgrade - he realises that he has lost her forever. He still cannot bring himself to kill her, but his colleagues arrive and shoot her dead.
Cyberwoman was written by Chris Chibnall, and was first broadcast on 5th November, 2006. The story idea originated with Russell T Davies, and was one of the first pitched for the series. Davies thought there was mileage in a story showing the aftermath of his Doctor Who Series 2 finale - Army of Ghosts / Doomsday. We had seen three women turned into Cybermen - Sally Phelan, the alternative Jackie Tyler, and Yvonne Hartman - but their brains all ended up in standard Cyberman shells. Here, Lisa has only been partially converted, so she retains her feminine form - allowing for a sexualised, fetishistic design. Quite where the Cybermen got the parts, lord only knows.
As Torchwood is aimed at an adult market - it was barely covered by DWM, lest youngsters insist on watching the further adventures of Captain Jack - this allows for the body-horror of Cyber-conversion to be shown graphically. First we see the doctor with parts of his face and head partly implanted, and later we see the crude brain surgery which Lisa uses to transplant her brain into the hapless pizza delivery girl.
Once again, we see that Jack has absolutely no control over his team. It's one thing for them to take alien objects home with them, but here Ianto is seemingly able to smuggle Lisa and the conversion unit into the Hub and keep her there for what must be a number of months at least.
The first two episodes of the series were very much about Gwen joining the team, with Owen starting to come to the fore in the third episode. Here, Ianto gets to be the main protagonist in the plot. He had been pretty much a background character up until now - not even going out on field trips with the others.
As the action is pretty much confined to the Hub, there is only a small guest cast. Lisa is Caroline Chikezie, Tanizaki is Togo Igawa, and Annie is played by Bethan Walker.
Overall, an episode that has divided fans. Some people would have liked to have seen more explicit crossover with the parent programme, whilst others preferred it to forge its own path. As a storyline, it makes for a fast-paced, base under siege adventure. Others would have liked to have seen more about the emotional and moral implications of what Ianto was doing, rather than a monster on the loose shoot-em-up. The pterodactyl fight is a bit silly, however much you like the story overall.
Things you might like to know:
- Chibnall claimed this was the hardest story he had to write for the series. He started with the conclusion, with the team shooting Lisa dead. One draft did have Ianto pull the trigger.
- Cyberwoman was supposed to have sat later in the series, but problems with some of the other scripts meant it being brought forward and shown fourth - so Ianto might have been expected to have kept Lisa hidden for even longer.
- By rights, Lisa and the conversion unit should have been sucked into the Void at the conclusion to Doomsday. Realising this, the official website decided that her implants and the unit were all sourced from material from our universe rather than from Pete's World.
- However, one big problem is that Ianto claims that towards the end of the invasion, the Cybermen resorted to partial conversions. Surely if you are in a hurry it is a lot quicker to whip out a brain and plonk it in a suit, than it is to start transforming someone piecemeal?
- How does Ianto keep his job at the end of this - or indeed his life? It is one thing to smuggle his girlfriend and some alien tech into the Hub, but this is a Cyber-conversion unit - capable of starting the whole invasion up all over again.
- It was around this time that criticism really got underway for the manner in which John Barrowman was playing Captain Jack. Fans knew him as a cheeky, cocky, funny character in the closing episodes of the Chris Eccleston series, but he seems to have had all the fun and joy sucked out of him.
- The brief flashback scene of Ianto saving Lisa from Canary Wharf took a whole day to film as the camera broke down, as did its replacement.
- One of the inspirations for Lisa's costume was the Maria robot from Metropolis.
- Lisa claims that the Hub would make a good Cyber-conversion facility. Ironically, the by then redundant set was later used as the heart of the Cyber-King, in The Next Doctor.
- With its limited settings and small guest cast, this was the cheapest episode of the season. Even the UFO glimpsed on video was achieved simply by covering a frisbee in tinfoil.