From the Beginning: The First Doctor

Doctor Whoovie's picture

Doctor Whoovie - Posted on 04 June 2009

I thought I would recreate this thread on the new Forum for those of us which have recently undertaken watching our beloved show from the first episode, in order.

Idiom's picture

This was one of the first Doctor Who novels I read when I was a young boy (it was one of the original three novels, I believe, which were seen as an opportunity to flesh out the stories rather than just relate what had gone on on screen). I got it from a charity shop and twenty pages in was quite disappointed to find out that there was no science fiction element (being the fan of anything with monsters that I was). This disappointment lasted all of a chapter, I remember and was soon swept away by the swashbuckling and buckle-swashing that was the Crusade. And so, since the beginning of this tour through the First Doctor’s stories, this is the one story that I have been really looking forward to. Thankfully, it lived up to my expectations and is yet another 10 out of 10 story for me.

Things I liked:

·         The crew in period costume – always a favourite!

·         The Doctor – he seems to have undergone a complete personality change since Susan left  (maybe he feels free now that she has left, not held back by responsibility or any kind of guilt at having taken her from her own people?). He throws himself with gusto and glee into any adventure, seems to have a fine old time of it and giggles to himself at any given opportunity. He is also gives Ian a run for his money as action-hero in the series by becoming involved in another fight! What I also like to see is the Doctor getting out of tricky situations by using his head – the scene in which he is charged with having stolen the clothes from two people is a joy to listen to. Finally, I always enjoy it when he plays courtier to Royalty – this just seems to sit so truly with the character.

·         Victor-Vicki-toria – is he or isn’t she? I mean, how on Earth could anybody have mistaken her for a boy? At last we get to see a little personality from Vicki and the growing bond between her and the Doctor is very sweet.

·         The Doctor is described by Joanna as having something about him which is ‘older than the sky’. Is this the first time that his great age is alluded to?

·         Jean Marsh and Julian Glover sparkle as Richard the Lion Heart and his sister, Joanna – they act their socks off in the scene in which she discovers that he is planning to have her betrothed to his enemy’s brother without her knowledge

·         Lots of great sub-plots and just the general all-round story-telling quality that the production team did so well with the historicals.

Well, as you can gather, I loved this and my one hope for the new series is that Mr Moffat gives us the occasional pure historical. Anyone who goes back through the Hartnell stories will see just how much drama, adventure and fun can be had from purely examining the human condition and what has led us to where we are. We don’t need to be seduced by special effects all of the time. Let the BBC play to its traditional strength of the costume drama and let’s see number 11 going back to the programme’s roots. If that new (old) TARDIS is anything to go by then this might just be the case. Here’s hoping!

Troy Baker's picture

It's really a shame that the 2nd and 4th episodes of the story are missing.

Episode 1 and 3 are available in the box set "Lost in Time" but the audio for the missing episodes are there so we can at least hear the entire story. On the box set there is also an introduction with William Russell (as Ian).

 I also like how the relationship between Barbara and Ian grows in this story - Ian acting as Barbara's 'knight in shining armor'.

Too bad it's followed by the lack-luster "Space Museum"

BTW: The titles for each of the episodes are:

1 - The Lion

2 - The Knight of Jaffa

3 - The Wheel of Fortune

4 - The Warlords.

Idiom's picture

Bit of a disappointment, this one after the spectacularly good Crusade but here’s a balanced look at the story:

Things I liked:

·         An intriguing first episode, although even by the end of the story I wasn’t actually sure it made sense (do we ever find out how they managed to change costumes from the previous story?

·         A good examination of the possible conundrums that time travel might throw up (is everything predestined or can we change our futures having caught a glimpse of them?).  

·         Also good to see Vicki having a substantial role in the story for a change.

·         Oh and Bill Hartnell in a swimming costume LOL!

·         Great to see the Dalek (a foreshadowing of the cyber helmet in the museum in Dalek)and a fabulous link into the cliff-hanger at the end of episode four (and what a cliff-hanger!)

Things I didn’t like:

·         There seemed to be very little plot backing up these rather interesting ideas. We spend the best part of three episodes running up and down corridors and padding out what could have been quite a decent two-parter.

·         For once, and this is quite unusual compared to what I’ve seen of these earlier stories so far, there wasn’t really a strong cast of supporting characters. I wonder if this had something to do with making the Moroks all resemble each other, as did the Xerons. But, thinking about it, this wasn’t a problem in the Sensorites, in which the individual alien’s characters were fleshed out rather well. So I’ll fall back onto my initial impression that the plot just wasn’t strong enough to support the concepts being explored in this story.

In general, some good ideas but let down by a poor plot. Forgettable, and Troy you were spot on with your description, absolutely lacklustre. 5 out of 10.

Idiom's picture

What a real mixed bag this story was: it contains some of the high points and low points of this whole season so far. I loved the first two and the last two episodes and found myself completely bemused by the two episodes in the middle. 6 out of 10 as a whole but 9 out of 10 without episodes 3 or 4!

Things that bemused me:

·         The whole idea of the Daleks being able to track the TARDIS in their own time machine. I have to confess to being very confused about the whole Dalek timeline so far. From what I gather, the Doctor’s first meeting with them on Skaro is set far in the future, years after the invasion of Earth – at the end of the Dalek race? What has happened to lead them to being trapped in the city dependent on static electricity to function, we don’t yet know. But somewhere in between the Dalek Invasion of Earth and the Daleks, they develop the technology to travel through time in pursuit of the Doctor, who by this point they have identified as their number one enemy (presumably this can be explained away by suggesting that they have already met him on a number of different occasions in his different incarnations?).

·         Episodes 3 and 4 – what the-? I can only imagine that Terry Nation must have had some of those giant mushrooms that turn up at the end of the story before he wrote this. I don’t mind comic elements in Doctor Who (see my review of the Romans) but they need to be counterbalanced against a real threat and here the Daleks just don’t seem to measure up, nor are they even treated seriously by the Doctor or his companions at any point. To me these two episodes during which the team visit the Empire State Building (complete with stereotypical Americans – and why on Earth was Peter Purvis used in two roles in the same story?), the Marie Celeste (where in the whole crew are seemingly left at the mercy of the Daleks – not being even given so much as a warning by the time travellers) and finally the Hammer House of Horrors (the less said about this, the better)

·         The robot Doctor – who was played by a double and dubbed (badly)for some scenes without apparent reason, and during other scenes was not

Things I liked about the chase:

·         Episode one – life aboard the TARDIS – pure padding but when it’s of this quality and we get to see everyday life for the time travellers then it’s a joy to watch, especially Vicki making a nuisance of herself (she is staring to develop nicely as a character).

·         Ian’s book about alien invaders – a bit far-fetched indeed!

·         The Time-Space visualiser – a bit of fun but you could see how this might become as over-used as the sonic screwdriver does later. Do we ever see it again?

·         The desert planet which really benefitted from some location filming and that Dalek emerging from the sand – spooky!

·         The Dalek posse which is knocked off in various ways: falling into a tentacled monster’s sand pit, falling into the sea, being smashed to pieces by Frankenstein’s monster, blasted by mechanoids

·         The Doctor having yet another fight – this time with himself!

·         Steven Taylor – an interesting addition. Manic and slightly unhinged after being alone for two years (to the point where he almost dies trying to save a cuddly toy!) I look forward to seeing how he will develop.

·         And finally, sniff sniff, Barbara and Ian’s departure. Again, having followed these characters since the beginning I find myself having formed a real attachment to them. They have contributed so much to the dynamic of the series. I’m glad they were given a good departure – the montage scene and Ian’s shock at seeing a police box! And finally the Doctor’s anger at their leaving which masks his deep sadness – the old man has grown far too used to having a TARDIS-full of people around him. He’ll never be the same again and will constantly desire companions (especially from Earth) at his side. We have Ian and Barbara to thank for that! He’ll miss them and so will I.


Well, can you imagine what MST 3000 could do with this story? Especially the last episode, even Ian and Barbara's leaving. The entire thing is just a hoot and so's funny. For DW fans it's nice to see them get home but the stuff before that is just...aside from Hartnell's sadness at them leaving and Vicki's being able to get him to let them go with dignity...the stuff before that and the escape from the high up building is funny and so bad it's funny...on top of five other episodes that are so awful they are wide eyed shockingly funny. I do like that the Doc and Barbara sun their clothes THANK GOD! Honestly, this story is   a mess in almost every way. Still, at least it has that schlock value. Now into TRIAL OF A TIME LORD, mINDWARP and that's not even so bad it's funny bad, it's just bad. Sitcom bad.

Idiom's picture

The Time Meddler (or to the Monastery and back again and to the monastery again and back again...again)

Quirky- that’s how I’d describe this. Quirky but good fun. This is the first time that we see the TARDIS with a completely brand new set of travelling companions for the Doctor and, although, I miss the serious moral compass of Barbara and the game, swashbuckler that Ian became, still the programme proves itself able to survive the departure of two of its main characters. OK so let’s try to give a bit of balance.

Things I liked:

·         Vicki – It took Vicki a long time to become something other than just a copy of Susan but finally  seems to have matured somewhat as a character, she proves a good counterpoint to the headstrong Steven and her humour is shining through with every new adventure  (and not a moment too soon as I believe that she leaves soon).

·         Peter Butterworth is inspired casting as the eponymous villain of the piece. He has a great face, the reason probably for him landing so many comic roles (the Carry On films are what he is probably most famous for here in the UK) – and here he uses this face to great effect, especially in the first episode, during which he doesn’t utter an entire word but immediately we recognise the moral ambiguity of the character. He’s the villain of the piece but we can’t help liking him at the same time.

·         Dennis Spooner’s script – this is the third story which he wrote, I believe. First was the dark reign of Terror (which I loved) followed by the Romans (which is now one of my favourite stories of the entire forty years). The Time Meddler is much more akin to the latter with its juxtaposing  of comedic elements (most notably the monk) and darkness and horror of real historical events (the rape of the woman in the village by the Vikings). Although this is counted as the first pseudo-historical, the science fiction elements are not overplayed and this is still a great immediacy and fascination about the historical events depicted.

·         The Monk’s ‘to do’ list – chortle!

The other side of the coin. There is not much that I didn’t like about this story but:


·         Steven Taylor – don’t get me wrong, I like the good-humoured and yet slightly cynical character of the new companion but, as has been the case really since an Unearthly Child, we are given very little background to any of the companions. OK I understand why the Doctor is (and remains) a mystery but I like to know more about the companions: where they come from, their motivations. At present, we know that he is a space ship pilot who crashed on Mechanus and was imprisoned for two years but that’s it. With the Doctor being absent from episode 2, it seemed an ideal opportunity to flesh his character out as he gets to know Vicki. A lost opportunity, unfortunately.


Overall, a fun and interesting story during which not a lot happens but happens in such an interesting way that I was quite happy to be taken along for the ride. 8 out of 10.

Idiom's picture

Although there were some classic stories in season one, I have to say that overall I have enjoyed the second series more. The highs were higher but, having said that, the lows were much lower.

After a disappointing start with the Planet of the Giants, the series reached a real peak of dramatic tension with the Dalek Invasion of Earth. After that, the stories seemed to alternate in quality with, as in the first series, in general, the historicals being of a much higher quality than the science fiction stories.

There were two real turning points for me during this series. First, Susan’s departure and the effect that this seems to have had on the Doctor. To my mind, he becomes much younger at heart, throwing himself into dangerous adventures with glee and taking on a much more action oriented role. The second, of course, and it remains to be seen how much this will affect the series as a whole, is the departure of Ian and Barbara. The series began as more of an ensemble piece with the companions and the Doctor sharing equal billing in terms of involvement in the stories. Now, however, I feel that the series will change into what it became over the next forty odd years with the Doctor taking the central role in most stories, until Rose that is.

My main disappointment remains the sketchy nature of the companions who tend to fulfil certain personality types but are not given much of a background to deepen their characters. Vicki and Steven are very much cases in point.


My highpoint – well, there are so many what with the Romans and the Crusades. However, it has to be Dalek Invasion – so dark, gritty and panoramic in its journey across invaded England and seemingly the first post –twentieth century event to be referred to by characters from the future (Vicki talks about New York having been destroyed during the Dalek Invasion).

My low point – oh my God, the Web Planet – hard to believe that it inspired a number of sequels: in the Doctor Who annuals, in TV comic, as a Virgin Missing Adventure and even more recently as a Big Finish Adventure! Leave it alone! Just leave it!

So we are left at the end of the season with a completely different group of companions to those we start off the season with.


One final point is how much more I have enjoyed the stories which I have seen before. Seeing them in the context of the series as a whole, understanding the references to previous adventures, the in-jokes, why the companions start off adventures dressed the way that they are, and feeling true sadness at the departure of old friends has added a whole new dimension to these adventures.  

Idiom's picture

Back from my holiday and moving on to series three of the William Hartnell era and just like its modern counterpart, the original Doctor Who seems to suffer from some quite week season openers. OK, part one of an Unearthly Child is exceptional, but, to my mind, the other three episodes of what we now see as the first story were probably one of the weakest parts of series one. Likewise, I wasn’t at all impressed by Planet of the Giants. But to try to give a balanced view:


The Positives:

·         An interesting idea for a story: a Mexican stand-off between two alien cultures on a planet which is about to explode

·         The Drahvin are also an interesting attempt to create something different for the series at the time, a race of predominantly female, cloned warriors

·         The poetic way in which both the Doctor and (with completely different motivations) Maaga speak of the destruction of the planet

·         Steven’s airlock dilemma showed this companion’s strength of character and made for an interesting cliff-hanger.

And, unfortunately, for me that’s about it.


The Down side:

·         The Drahvin, although, an interesting idea are ultimately quite two-dimensional and display little real motivation for the way that they act

·         Continuing on from the above point, it’s something that I would say about the whole story. The moral ideas are sound, it’s just that they are used about as subtly as a sledgehammer. The whole “ok you’re ugly but it’s what’s on the inside that counts” philosophy behind the story (and don’t get me wrong, I’m not disputing the validity of this idea) is just so clunky and in your face that the character’s words really lacked true sincerity for me. Maybe my looking at this from the viewpoint of an adult in 2009 rather than a child in 1965 is the real problem here. However, there have been stories that have worked so much better.

·         The Rill – see above: unconvincing in terms of dialogue and again rather two-dimensional and obvious

·         Once more, I felt that the companions were given short shrift. Steven is still an enigma (although the intro to the reconstruction revealed that he’d been given lines that had been written for the departed Ian and Barbara!). And Vicki is still just a cipher showing no real personality whatsoever, which is a real shame as she is about to leave and I do like the actress.

·         The Doctor – he has been written for so well since Dalek Invasion but here seems to revert back to the bumbling old man of the early stories, often having to have Vicki point out the obvious to him.


Overall not a great start for me. Must try better. 4 out of 10.

Doctor Whoovie's picture

Pretty much agree with you here. The Chumlies were the only amusing diversion here.

So the good news is you've past the worst episode of Season 3, the bad news is that with the exception of 'The Dalek Masterplan' and the "war machines" the rest of the season is well below the par of the first two. However, it is worth persevering, Season 4 and 5 are pretty damn good. 

Idiom's picture

What a curious episode. This felt more like something that belonged in a series of the Twilight Zone than anything else – I must research this a little more and try to discover the motivations behind producing a stand-alone episode with none of the regular cast whose job it was to foreshadow the Dalek Master Plan. What I don’t really understand is why it wasn’t shown immediately prior to that epic story? This must have been very confusing for regular viewers at the time.


·         An intriguing episode opening with the homicidal Garvey coming to in the jungle

·         It does give the Doctor Who universe a slightly more authentic feel – that life goes on without having to include the Doctor. And just like the Dalek Empire stories from Big Finish, as none of the regular cast members are used, we are never sure from the beginning who will or will not survive to the end of the episode.

·         The Varga plants – Are they related to Krynoids? Do they turn up in any other stories? Bring them back, I say.

·         The assortment of freaky aliens – I always love it when Doctor Who does this (Curse of Peladon/ the End of the World). I particularly like the huge lumbering one which looked like a giant, shadowy Christmas tree with spooky Scooby Doo intro eyes.


·         I found it hard to give much of a damn about any of the main characters

·         I read somewhere that Terry Nation was trying to use this as a platform to launch his own Dalek series. I find his stories so hit or miss (the genius of the original Dalek story and Dalek Invasion; the weirdness of the Chase). It does feel a little as though the whole concept of the Dalek universe is beginning to be slowly and inevitably sucked up into the outer-space like vacuum that is its own *$%$.

·         And can someone please tell me where in the Dalek timeline this happens! Don’t they have time travel capability now??

All in all, interesting as a curio but does anybody really care? Still anything is better than galaxy Four!  5 out of 10

Idiom's picture

The second real story of season/series 3 (not sure if we count Mission to the Unknown as it is such an oddity)is a historical based during the siege of Troy. So far, each series, I have eagerly anticipated the historical as they have been such well-written and classy television. The Myth Makers, however, has been a bit of a disappointment for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not terrible and it’s better than Galaxy 4 (though that’s not saying much), it’s just when compared to such high-quality stories as the Crusades, the Reign of Terror and the Romans, well the Myth Makers rather pales in comparison.


·         It was a fun idea to include all of the characters from the original myths Greek Myths, including Cyclops who really appeared in the Odyssey.

·         I always like seeing how the Doctor inadvertently influences history: the Great fire of London, the Fire of Rome, Pompeii and now the Greek Horse (even after he scoffs at the idea when Steven mentions it)

·         Best episode title so far - episode 2: Small Prophet, Quick Return


·         Again the lack of characterisation of the companions continues and Vicki’s leaving is treated in pretty much the same way as most of her stories – it’s a non-event and actually the farewell between her and the Doctor is off screen and we never see it. The previous three companions were given much more of the spotlight for their departures. The supporting characters, in general, are given much more interesting motivations and back stories and still I have no handle on Steven whatsoever.

·         Where was Helen? The focal part of the story and she doesn’t appear!

·         A choice was taken to have the characters speak using modern dialect (well modern for the sixties anyway), I’m not against this in principal, but here it jarred – especially when it came to Paris who just sounded like a pompous upper class oaf

·         I felt that this story had been modelled on the Romans, but the comic and dark elements here seemed disjointed rather than serving to accentuate each other

·         Katrina felt like something of an afterthought (was the Maureen O’Brien’s departure a surprise because it certainly felt that way), she appears in episode 4 and then suddenly is whisked away in the TARDIS – and this is another point – we seem to be slipping back to the Doctor of an Unearthly Child, a Doctor who will just snatch anybody from their timeline without a second thought and is more interested in self-preservation (at least in an Unearthly Child it could be argued that he was trying to protect Susan)

So, I have to agree with Doctor Whoovie that series three is not, so far, meeting the standard set by the first two series. 5 or 6 out of 10, I’m not sure. Next: the big one!

Idiom's picture

As this is such a long story and I have such a terrible memory, I have decided that it will be easier for me to post a series of reflections on this story rather than wait until I have seen all 12 episodes. Anyway, I was gripped by this story from the beginning, which I must say is a relief after the mediocre fare (made worse by the fact that no video footage survives) of the last few stories. Episode one pulled me in straight away, jumping as it did into the middle of the action with a much pacier plot than Mission to the Unknown. To the point where I am now even more confused by that story as the first few scenes on Kemble in episode 1 of Master Plan seem to mirror the former story. I think it was Chase who mentioned that the whole of Mission to the Unknown could have been done in 5 or 10 minutes and I’d have to agree. Not only that but it could have been done within episode one of Master Plan itself or even not at all. The Doctor’s finding of the tape doesn’t seem to need much explanation once you see the uniform that the body is wearing and know that the Daleks are lurking about in the jungle. It was also good to see the complete episode two after so many reconstructions and audios – thank goodness for the Lost in Time box set.

The positives:

·         Steven suddenly seems to have become a more interesting character and I am beginning to understand him a little better now. His interest in spaceships is completely within character and rings true. His bickering with the Doctor defines him as being different from Ian (well, the Ian of the later stories anyway).

·         Katrina – is the most interesting new companion introduced since the original three. She is distinct and not just a carbon copy of Susan or Vicki. Again her exchanges with the other characters, her confusion about the words used (key? tablets?), her belief that they are travelling through the underworld all ring true and for a character so hastily added in the last episode of the Myth Makers, the writers have done a good job at fleshing out her character. Also her belief that she is going to die makes the hairs stand on end with the foreknowledge of what fate has in store for her.

Other points (not really negatives but things that I thought of while watching):

·         The Dalek council with their allies. Was it just me or did it resemble the Ministry of Silly Walks. I half expected John Cleese to come lumbering in.

·         The Doctor’s disguise at the council – just a little dubious?

Anyway, a cracking start and I’m looking forward to the next episodes with renewed anticipation!

Idiom's picture

Half-way there! Certain words sound clichéd these days but ‘romp’ is definitely the word that I want to use to describe the first half of The Dalek Master Plan. I’m still enjoying it – overall, it’s pacy, energetic and with the addition of Dennis Spooner as writer in Episode 6 a certain humour creeps in. More and more, I see influences from these early episodes on the modern day programme. Here, the Daleks become less emotionless, robotic beings and more the cutting, sarcastic overlords that we saw in Doomsday. I also like the space operatic feel as the time-travellers jump from planet to planet. However, I’ve had a few thoughts which will echo what my old mate, Whoovie,  mentioned earlier in the thread

·         Katrina – for me this was a real waste as she was one of the most interesting additions to the TARDIS crew since Susan left. She was individual and her archaic attitude to the world around served to distinguish her as a real individual. I disagree that she necessarily would have been limiting as a character (in the right hands her character development could have made her one of the most interesting companions of the first Doctor). However, suddenly she’s gone – as a plot point this was shocking and does make us doubt whether any characters outside of the main two will survive (but that is usually the case anyway, isn’t it?). It does feel a little rushed and unplanned and I wonder whether her tenure in the show had been originally planned for a longer period?

·         Likewise Bret Vyon – another very interesting addition to the story and Nicholas Courtney dominates every scene that he’s in. I thought I would have a problem accepting him as a different character but actually it was quite easy – even though you do see the odd foreshadowing of the Brigadier’s character. However, just as with Katrina – suddenly he’s gone and I kept expecting him not to have died and was quite disappointed when it turned out that he actually had gone to the old SSS hunting ground in the sky. A shame because such an interesting four-way dynamic had been created between the Doctor, Steven, Bret and Katrina that I would like to have seen more.

·         Sara Kingdom – another interesting character but for me her characterisation hasn’t been as well drawn as quickly as that of her brother. Still, it’s early days for her yet.

·         My main complaint, I suppose is that the main villain of the piece is so two-dimensional – Mavic Chen (he looks great - a strange combination of black, white and Asian) but we understand nothing of his motivations. I prefer my villains to have more depth -  for me, it is easier to believe that atrocities can be committed in the name of nationalism, pride and sometimes just a misguided sense of duty (the Road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions). I would have believed in him more if his pact with the Daleks had been made from necessity – maybe to strengthen the position of Earth in an inevitable Dalek-controlled universe- rather than just from a sheer desire for power. He even does a little dance of crazed power at one point in episode 5 as his henchman looks on in embarrassment.

Still, good stuff so far and hasn’t felt padded out in the way that some of the longer stories have...yet. I have to keep reminding myself that there are still another six episodes to go...

Idiom's picture

(or The Chase part 2)

Wow! What a mixed bag this section of the epic adventure is. It’s not bad, just a little confusing in places, but has kept my interest nonetheless.

I Liked:

·         The Feast of Steven  - the series’ first attempt at a Christmas episode. Not to everybody’s taste, sure, but it was fun and based around the longest running element of the programme: the external shape of the TARDIS. Is there an actor from the Crusades in there? The Doctor claims to recognise somebody from the marketplace at Jaffa.

·         The return of the Monk – I love Peter Butterworth and it’s a shame that he didn’t return for more stories – it certainly looked as though it was planned that way. The interaction between the Monk and the Doctor is great fun. Lots of humour coming from the pen of Dennis Spooner once more.

·         Steven – I echo Whoovie’s earlier post – he’s finally beginning to grow on me and develop into a character in his own right. This has nothing to do with Peter Perves who is a fine actor and has more to do with the writers being unable to differentiate him from Ian thus far. Now he is beginning to come into his own – I would just like to see a little more back story is all but I know that early Who wasn’t so good at that.

·         The Doctor appears to be his rogue-ish (post- Dalek Invasion) self again, revelling in the danger of things. Denis Spooner seems to write for him so well. My only wish is that his regret over the death of Katrina hadn’t been so short-lived.

I wasn’t sure about:

·         Sara Kingdom – after the great characterisation of both Katrina and Bret, little has been done to develop Sara. Where is the anger at the betrayal by her leader, which resulted in her murder of her own brother? Where is the cold-hearted but professional agent that we saw during the introduction of her character? Again she is a character like Katrina who could be different enough to make her distinct from those who have gone before and, therefore, interesting. However, she quickly becomes little more than a foil for Steven and is just another wasted opportunity.

·         The story is a little confused and messy. There are a number of perfectly good stories which would have worked well separately (the Meddling Monk in Ancient Egypt!)but together become sadly less than their individual parts. I would loved to have seen an Egyptian adventure written by Denis Spooner of the same quality as the Romans. But here we see nothing really of the culture and history of this civilisation – another lost opportunity.

·         This bloody Dalek time machine. I just don’t get it! When does this story take place? If the Daleks have a time machine why don’t they use it for much more dastardly plots than to just chase the TARDIS. They could go back and destroy everything before it started. But then wouldn’t that result in their own destruction? Oh these paradoxes of time travel play with my head but I prefer that to the writers’ decision to just ignore such things.

Two more episodes to go!

Idiom's picture

The last two episodes were again written by Dennis Spooner – which surprised me as I’d always thought that Terry nation has penned it. He does an ok-ish job at tying up the story, made all the harder by the noticeable (and poorly explained)absence once more of William Hartnell in episode 11.

A few points:

·         Dalek’s whispering – don’t know why but this struck me as funny.

·         Sara’s death – tragic and one more addition to the blood bath of this story but Ifound myself caring less than I should have. Less than at, for example, the deaths of Bret and Katrina earlier. I feel that if less time had been spent jumping around history and more spent examining the intrigues of Mavic Chen’s Solar System and the motivations behind the characters, then this would have been a more satisfying whole.

·         Mavic’s sadly inevitable pantomime death was a tour de force of overacting

·         The time destructor – an interesting idea for a weapon but I always wonder what the Daleks expect to achieve from their dastardly plans. OK so you wipe everybody else out (see also Davrous’s reality destroyer). Then what? Do they just rattle around as the only creatures in existence with no raison d’etre? Do they turn on each other – the reds against the greys? Then what? No, smaller more human desires have always held more interest for me – revenge, a need to overcome one’s personal insecurities, a desire to blame others for one’s own misfortunes – these strike me as believable motivations. Mind you, I’ve just written that and thought about the Third Reich and realised that maybe such motivations as the Daleks need to exterminate anybody different is not so unrealistic after all.

Any way – all done! Pauses to regain breath.

So, overall – great first half let down by a messy second half. There were one or two good stories in here, but none of them realised as well as they could have been.  Some of the plot choices seemed strangely ad hoc (the death of Bret) -  as though the writers were reacting to circumstances outside of their control, others terribly drawn out (episode 11 served to get the TARDIS team from the ship into the Dalek control room - at the stroke of the writer’s pen, the time machine could just have landed there in the first place with no need for such to-ing and fro-ing). The main strength for me was the attempt to flesh out a future civilisation, one of which we see many dimensions not just the Earth – present-day writers take note.

Still, it is a story that I would watch again. A 7 out of 10 for effort (would have been a solid 10 if it had lived up to the promise of the first four episodes). Yeh! I did it – the longest story. I need a holiday now. Somewhere hot and tropical maybe...

DarthSkeptical's picture

Dennis Spooner did a bit more than write the last two episodes.  He wrote half the serial.  Nation wrote episodes 1-5 and 7, while Spooner wrote 6 and 8-12.  According to the original commission by Verity Lambert, Nation was to have provided the story for all 12 episodes, but this didn't really happen to any great degree of specificity, nor was Lambert around to ensure that it did.  Indeed, Nation's scripts were deemed unsatisfactory by script editor Donald Tosh, who rewrote them heavily (as happened on several later Nation scripts).  While there's little doubt that Nation deserves most of the credit for Sara Kingdom, Bret Vyon and the SSS, it's Tosh who's responsible for the centrality of the Mavic Chen character.  He also mostly wrote Episode 7, the now-ill-regarded Christmas episode, because Nation had submitted a script that under-ran by 15 minutes.

Spooner's last half required much less work by Tosh, and probably represents a more genuine effort to live up to his contract.  It also deviated greatly from what little story outlining Nation had done, which ended the "Egyptian side trip" much more quickly, brought the Doctor to Kembel well prior to episode 11, and had not used the Meddling Monk at all. 

Spooner's demonstrated skill at writing both comedy and Daleks was regarded well-enough that he was later brought in to do an uncredited final revision on "Power of the Daleks".  

Still, it's fairly clear to me that the story would've been better off had it been possible — and it wasn't — for Spooner to have carried out the revisions on Nation's half.  As it is, you can really see the join in this one.  It's pretty obvious where the bland straightforwardness of Nation and Tosh gives way to Spooner's defter touch.  

Have a lemon sherbet. It'll quench your thirst.

Idiom's picture

Not knowing a lot of this background (which is very interesting), I look back at what I've watched so far and realise that most of my favourite stories have been written by either Nation (Daleks/ Dalek Invasion) and Dennis Spooner (Reign of Terror/Romans).

Personally I have to say that I prefer the first half of Master Plan (presumably the part which Nation had more involvement in) - for me they felt pacier and had more direction. The second half appeared (and probably through no fault of Denis Spooner) to meander all over the place which little direction and less of the strong characterisation which I enjoyed in the first four epsiodes.

Idiom's picture

The Massacre, a story focussing on the persecution of the Protestants in sixteenth century France, is a strange story. ‘Wierd’ was how a good friend of mine described it. And after the first episode – which I loved – I wasn’t at all sure what he meant. After four episodes I think he was spot on. Not bad but very weird. Trying to work out why in my head, the only conclusion that I can come to is that it isn’t quite Doctor Who. Following one of the original remits of the series – to raise our awareness and educate us about history – the Massacre does that more than any other historical I’ve seen. I learnt a lot, through the eyes of Steven, about the powder keg of religious persecution which existed at the time. However, how this story differs from other historicals is that it does not maintain a balance with a narrative thread that is recognisably Doctor Who.  Here the TARDIS arrives, the Doctor disappears for 60% of the story and even when he is around plays little or no role in the main events, Steven gets mixed up in but does little to influence events, the TARDIS leaves, the supporting characters are left to their doom (or not?). What we are given in the Massacre is more a slice of history, a view from the eyes of the different classes (from the Royal Court to a servant girl) and factions at the time which is extremely interesting, but due to a lack of resolution ultimately unsatisfying.

Some thoughts:

·         Doubles –  As a dramatic device, I’m not against doubles – they have been used successfully more than once in Doctor Who. It seems to me that there are two main uses for a double, either: (1) infiltration – a double pretending to be the Doctor or a member of the crew in order to help along the dastardly doings of the story’s villains (the earliest example being the Dalek’s Doctor robot in the Chase); or, (2) the doubles exist by sheer chance and the Doctor or crew member is mistaken for the genuine article and jolly japes and shenanigans ensue. This story, however, confused me as there seemed to be no point whatsoever to the Doctor’s resemblance to the Abbot – at no point is the Doctor mistaken for the Abbot. It seems that the only point of this plot device is to increase the sense of Steven’s confusion and isolation.

·         Steven carries most of the story and again is allowed to really come into his own. The balance between the space pilot bewildered and out of place in 16th century France and the resilience and resourcefulness of the man is maintained well – he doesn’t fit into the historical context too well (the opposite often happens to the companions and this is something that has always bothered me slightly about Doctor Who)- instead he runs around seeming to believe that he is ina traditional adventure but he isn’t and events lead sadly and inevitably to one end only. Steven is used well, though - he asks the right questions which give the audience the answers they need to understand the historical context and there is a genuine sense of confusion at both the events he finds himself in and at the disappearance of the Doctor. I also felt a real frustration for him as he tries to give his message to Nicholas but is not accepted at face value and is forced into a sword fight that he doesn’t want.

·         Intrigued about Anne Chaplet – I knew that Dodo’s surname was Chaplet and wondered how she would be introduced. The introduction of Dodo later was intriguing and fun – maybe a purposeful counterpoint to the very downbeat conclusion of the story.

·         The Doctor is conspicuous for his absence in episodes 2 and 3, with William Hartnell missing completely from part 2 in his roles as both the Doctor and the Abbot. A note of controversy, I know, but I feel that the Doctor’s absence from certain episodes is dealt with so much better nowadays – I happen to quite like Love and Monsters and I loved Blink and Turn Left. In each of these, there is a reason for the Doctor not being there. In the early series, however, there is often little narrative reason given nor is his disappearance capitalised on.

·         The last scene in the TARDIS – a discussion about the events between the Doctor and Steven – I really enjoyed this and we are so rarely given the opportunity to see how events have affected the companions.

·         Was this the only story in Doctor Who history to feature the Doctor and one male companion?

I agree with Doctor Whoovie’s earlier posts about season 3. Nothing so far has lived up to the heights of the first two seasons. There have instead been quite a few stories which have started well but been unable to maintain their early promise. The Massacre perhaps comes closest so far to being a very good story but just not quite.  7 out of 10 (due to the curiosity factor). I’m so looking forward to a complete video story next!

Idiom's picture

Yet another story that I find hard to put into a box. One thing that you cannot accuse the third series of is sticking to formulaic stories (in fact you could say that of most of the first Doctor’s reign). Here we have a story on the Ark but which is split into two separate tales – the second occurring some 700 years after and resulting from the first. In some ways, it reminded me of the later Nerva Beacon stories during the First Tom Baker season (also, coincidently, containing a story with Ark in the title – my all-time favourite story!) and later again during the Ninth Doctor series – the Doctor seems to enjoy jumping back and forward on space stations! Anyway, it’s a good idea and something that I think we don’t see enough of in Doctor Who – the Doctor revisiting other planets / places and having to deal with the consequences of his actions.  

Some thoughts:

·         I think it was Doctor Whoovie who described it as an Ark full of B Movie actors and he’s not far wrong. There is some terrible acting in the Ark. A case in point is how the ever-so-angry prosecutor changes completely when he finds out he is wrong about the travellers and don’t get me started on the Oompahloompahs ... er... I mean the Monoids!

·         Seriously, though, I really liked the whole Guardian-Monoid culture during the first two episodes. The fact that they had to sign to each other was a touch that made it feel just that little more real, I felt.

·         Dodo –  a cheeky, cheesy non-entity that fits into the Susan, Vicki, Sara mould who does nothing for me. One minute she’s northern, one minute she’s not. Her accents change with the shift of the time winds in the vortex. She seems not to be in the least worried that she’s been kidnapped by the Doctor  and at first assumes that it must be London, which seems at odds with the fact that she has seen the inside of the TARDIS – the writers appear to have made no attempt whatsoever to make her reactions and motivations genuine.

·         The cliff-hanger to episode two was one of the best so far and the shot of the Monoid statue was really quite effective. In fact, the camera men have been quite ingenious throughout the four episodes – playing with perspective and making things seem further away and/or larger.

·         The Monoids – I rather liked the look of these creatures but preferred the mysterious servants in episodes one and two to the  group of unconvincing baddies who had obviously learnt their trade at the Dick Dastardly School of Unconvincing and Over the Top Villainy. Why did they need voice machines to talk to each other? Did they not have their own language?

·         Then there are the Refusans - Invisible, ascended beings with no physical substance - so why do they need to sit in a chair?

·         The idea of the travellers carrying illnesses – these days we’ve got used to the idea that the TARDIS takes care of such things or did I imagine that? Has this ever been explicitly stated?

·         Animals – a real elephant wandering around the jungle- some nice touches that added to the atmosphere and feel – the opening of Episode one, in particular, was suitably atmospheric.

So another uneven affair with some nice touches marred by some not so good acting and Dodo. A 6 out of 10 for this one.

Idiom's picture

I had never seen this story before and was looking forward to it. The Toymaker is one of those iconic villains whose image is indelibly associated with the first Doctor and who has appeared again in audio, novel and comic form. I was disappointed. OK it’s always going to be hard to judge a story of which only one episode exists – and admittedly I did enjoy the only existing episode (four) more than the previous three. It’s just that I was expecting so much more.

The surreal world of the immortal and seemingly omnipotent (within his world anyway) Toymaker was filled with such ordinary extremely literal games! I suppose that I was expecting something more along the lines of Doctor Who meets Lewis Carol. A story full of symbols, ciphers and strange half-truths. Instead I got hide the key (oh, what a surprise it was in the pie!) and blind man’s buff, find the right chair and Hopscotch (none of which, incidentally Steven or Dodo won – the Toymaker’s minions lost!). It was just all a bit too mundane for me. Yes, I’m disappointed.

Some thoughts:

·         William Hartnell was missing again for much of the story, only his disembodied hand could be seen. He’s seems to have missed an awful lot during season three – was he ill? As always, the programmes misses him terribly and as much as I’ve grown to like Steven, he cannot carry the show (especially with the dead weight that is Dodo around his neck).

·         Dodo – forever more to be called: Doh!Doh! Such lack of character, such lack of attention to detail with the writing. She is my least favourite companion so far – she irritates me and I want her gone. With Susan and Vicki, it wasn’t that I didn’t like them as much as I felt that they were never really exploited to their full potential. I hope DohDoh isn’t!

·         One interesting question was raised as to whether the Toymaker’s dolls and card were actually real, sentient beings. Raised but then ignored. If they were then they were callously destroyed along with the Toymaker’s realm.

·         I liked the ending with the sweets and the apparently choking Doctor cos I know what it lead to in the next episode so that raised a chuckle even if nothing else did.

That’s all I want to say. A disappointing 5 out of 10. Still stuck in the season 3 doldrums!

Idiom's picture

At last! The first story of the third series which has lived up to its promise. Dalek Master Plan peaked and waned. The Massacre went off the rails half way through. The Gunfighters, however, was consistent throughout. I have read mixed opinions about this story before. I know that some people love it and for others it is one of the worst William Hartnell stories. For my part, however, this was another good mix of historical drama and comedy (a la Romans). All the main cast contributed well and even DohDoh didn’t annoy me for once. A real gem after some of the recent stories!

Some thoughts

·         The best individual episode title since the myth makers. The title of episode one: A Holiday for the Doctor

·         I enjoyed Steven and DohDoh’s reaction when they discovered they were in the Wild West and always enjoy an episode when the TARDIS dress up for the era. Never realised how much the first Doctor’s clothes suit this period of history. All he needed was a matching hat and he looked the part immediately.

·         I liked how the dentist scene and how it led in from the Celestial Toymaker with its false cliff-hanger.

·         That song! First episode: fun. Episode two: started to grate a little. By the end of episode four I really did want to shoot the pianist.

·         Although some of the accents were distinctly dodgy, there was an excellent supporting cast of characters. I felt that the portrayal of Doc holiday was particularly good – he came across as a real scoundrel who was prepared to do what he had to to survive but you couldn’t help but like him.

·         DohDoh’s best scene yet – her stand-off against Doc Holiday. I liked his character even more after this.

·         A case of mistaken identity done so much better than in the Massacre and we didn’t need the contrivance of a double to boot.

·         The only jarring point of the whole story for me was again down to DohDoh, whose sudden appearance in the middle of the gunfight in episode four just didn’t ring true at all.

All in all, excellent fun. A high point for the season. 8 out of 10.

Idiom's picture

The Savages is a surprising little story of which I knew almost nothing until I watched it this week. I expected another in the long line of series three dull stories which do not live up to their early promise but instead it was enjoyable, pacy and made good use of tense drama and suspense. Vaguely reminiscent of Soylent Green, this story felt like the most successful science fiction offering in a long while.

Some thoughts:

·         It was a refreshing idea to have the Doctor known and actually expected. The traveller from beyond time who would come and endorse and improve the way of life which those in the City had long led.

·         Some of the costumes reminded me (pleasantly) of some of the early Buster Crabb Flash Gordon serials which I used to watch during my school holidays.

·         There were some weird and wonderful names floating around in this story: Flower, Tor, Nanina and was one of the characters called Exhaust?

·         I also liked the idea of Jano gaining more than he bargained for when he was imbued with the Doctor’s vitality. In a sense, the Doctor triumphed here because of who he is rather than what he does. The actor who played Jano does a very passable impression of William Hartnell’s Doctor.

·         Again the Doctor is missing from most of episode three but for once the story doesn’t suffer. In fact, his absence adds to the drama and allows us to appreciate even more the change that overcomes Jano.

·         Steven shines in this story. He shows just how brave and resourceful a man he is and it is good to see him leave the TARDIS to carry on fighting the fight (just as Romana, Nyssa and Mickey are to do in the far, far future). I shall miss Steven who has really come into his own since the Dalek Master Plan and it is a testament to the acting skills and likeability of Peter Purvis who makes so much of the part despite the production teams appalling treatment of the companions since the departure of Susan. He leaves with us knowing little more about him than when we first encounter him on Mechanus but still Steven Taylor really grew on me.

·         DohDoh! Is there any point to her being in this story? What does she do except for enter a room which she shouldn’t?  Again, I have nothing against the actress but she has been just written and used so badly (with the exception of a few scenes in the Gunfighters) that it is no wonder she is written out so rapidly in the next story.

A respectable 7 out of 10. Only three to go and a DVD next. Hooray!

Idiom's picture

The War Machines (or Who the Hell is Doctor Who!): SPOILERS!!!

Three in a row and finally the third season redeems itself. Considering that this was the last story of season three, The War Machines has a strangely fresh feel to it. With a return to Contemporary (well then it was) Earth and the introduction of two new energetic and young companions it watches like a reboot – like a re-think of what has been going wrong with the series and how to put it right. In fact, it feels much more like the first episode to a new season.

My thoughts:

·         I can’t believe that this is the first time (unless you count the last five minutes of the Massacre) since An Unearthly Child, that the TARDIS has returned to 1960s Earth. Wow it works! These days we complain about how many adventures are set on modern day Earth (and yes, it is a bit much sometimes) but there is a good reason why and that is because a monstrous shadow is so much more frightening against the backdrop of the mundane and familiar than it ever is against an alien city or a rocky ravine. The War Machines have a real presence in the location footage of them crashing through the streets of London (and crates – they crash through an awful lot of grapefruit crates – was there a world grapefruit glut at the time?). The scenes of everyday folk watching the news in their local pub was chilling and more effective than it should have been considering that not a lot of new ground was covered in this story.

·         People have described this adventure as a foreshadowing of the UNIT adventures – and yes, I can see that. If you substitute the Brig for the Man from the Ministry (and where did he pop up from, by the way?)

·         DohDoh! Gone at last! And written out with the complete lack of imagination and respect that has marred her character since its equally rushed and illogical entrance in the Massacre. She’s gone from being a Northerner to a Londoner and now she’s gone. But boy have I taken to Ben and Polly straight away. When I was a kid, one of my favourite books was the Moonbase (called Doctor Who and the Cybermen, I believe) and which featured Ben, Polly and Jamie with the second Doctor. I also loved the novelisation of the Tenth Planet so I’ve been looking forward to seeing them for a while. They didn’t disappoint. Ben and Polly are meant to be – they meet in a swinging night club without intervention from the Doctor and are drawn to each other right away. Ben is cheeky, cockney and real. Polly is unbelievably striking and just a little madcap. They are given as little back story as Steven or DohDoh but just seem so much more real straight away. Again they wander into the time machine by accident – just wanting to return the Doctor’s key (that’s four companions in a row who have ended up travelling with the Doctor not through choice but by chance). A great ending to episode four and we have to wait for the Smugglers to see their reactions.

·         The Doctor is back to his best and exudes authority, especially at the end of episode three when he stands his ground and faces out the charging War Machine.

·         No episode titles – I believe that this is the first story not to title individual episodes (although that might have been the Savages – I didn’t notice).

·         Wotan is given his own credit in the closing titles. But I’m not even going to discuss the ‘Doctor Who’ comments throughout.

A very good story – not without its plot holes but good enough to forgive them.  Between 7 and 8 out of 10. Now I’m really looking forward to the next season. Just two Willies to go!

Idiom's picture

Third series blues. It’s happened to a lot of my favourite series (Torchwood excepted, of course). Starting with the extremely lacklustre Galaxy Four and the series maintained a lack of direction throughout most of the stories. Even the brave attempts (The Dalek Master Plan and its stand alone prologue Mission to the Unknown, the Massacre) amounted to nothing more than that: brave attempts without ever fully realising the genius of the first two series.

For me, there was a lot of weak and illogical plotting involved – which were either responses to events outside the production team’s control or either a result of lazy and ill-thought out writing.

A few thoughts:

·         Why go to the trouble of introducing and developing interesting characters such as Katrina and Bret if they were to be killed so suddenly and pointlessly? For me, their deaths detracted from the story.

·         What was the point of the double in the Massacre? Can anybody tell me? Set up and then cast aside adding nothing to the narrative and doing nothing to further the plot.

·         Why deprive the viewers of a proper farewell for Vicki? We know that the Doctor will always be there and so it is easier to invest ourselves emotionally in the companions? I, for one, felt a little short-changed by the manner of her departure. Compared to the last scenes with Ian, Barbara and Susan, which were given time and depth  and the attention that they deserved.

·         DohDoh. Just why? Introduced in two minutes at the end of a story that she had no part of, then we are forced to accept her as a fully fledged companion at the beginning of the next story with no real characterisation at all, and finally carted off to the countryside with little explanation never to be seen again. Really careless plotting.

·         The Doctor missing from more episodes than ever before – I know that with filming happening most weeks of the year the producers and writers were at the mercy of the health of their main cast, but some of these stories really do suffer in his absence.

The series does redeem itself, however, with a trio of very strong stories at the end. The Gunfighters a great little historical with some humorous touches. The Savages proved to be a gem with a fitting departure for Steven. And then, course, the War Machines with its fresh new feel, new companions and suddenly the series looks as if it is back on course again.

For me, the best story: The War Machines. The worst Story: Galaxy Four or maybe even the Celestial Toymaker which I am starting to dislike more and more in retrospect. That’s the hard part over, I hope. In the next series there’s a new Doctor and some stories which I’m really looking forward to.

Idiom's picture

A rip-roaring, thigh-slapping, aye-me-hearties adventure packed with plots, counter-plots , blood, wigs and skulduggery! Being a history major, I have a real proclivity towards the pure historicals and have been disappointed by very few of them. It’s a well-known fact that the period drama department at the BBC was and is excellent and so the scenery and costumes always have that ring of authenticity. Although there are only snapshots and a few assorted clips, to judge the Smugglers on, still the cast’s confidence in this production comes over in the audio (a particularly good BBC audio, I thought – when mixed with the reconstructions, you get a real feel for the piece!). I like the way that the production unit continued to choose less obvious historical periods and situations and seventeenth century Cornwall is no exception.

Some thoughts:

·         The Doctor here is at his joyous, meddling best. The seeds of the traits that we love in subsequent Doctors are all here. During this story, he proves himself to be an excellent judge of character, using his cunning to appeal to Captain Pike’s vanity and a card trick in order to distract Jamaica and escape from the ship.

·         The Doctor seems to truly relish the company of his new companions. His initial anger at their intrusion in the TARDIS (an echo of an Unearthly Child) is gone within seconds as the Doctor realises that once more he is not alone and can enjoy an adventure with the two newcomers.

·         Polly and Ben fit in fantastically well and throw themselves into the time-travelling adventure with gusto. I love hearing Ben’s old cockney-isms –  “Duchess!” – reminds me of the oldens in my family was I was a lad and the fact that he is pulled along into the adventure by Polly (despite, perhaps, his better instincts). It’s true that we have as little back story for them as we’ve had from most of the previous companions, but they just seem that much more fully-rounded. I enjoyed the scene where the two of them just walk around marvelling at old grave stones.

·         There is a great atmosphere to the piece with the rocky coastline, Smuggler’s tunnels, rain storms and Cornish folk – a great one to listen to on Talk like a Pirate Day.

·         Best line of the story – as Polly heads off to the TARDIS and Ben returns to fetch the Doctor, he turns and shouts: “Polly put the kettle on.”

Very enjoyable. A strong 7 and a half out of 10. And then there was one...

Idiom's picture

How apt that the last William Hartnell adventure is the first of what is to become a staple in the years to come: a base under siege adventure. All concerned shine in this tense story and although we are sadly missing episode four, I managed to find a very good reconstruction with clear pictures, soundtrack and description – for once, I didn’t need the BBC audio version. So I really liked the Tenth Planet and am a convert to early cybermen which for me now come a close second to the Invasion cybermen.

Some thoughts:

·         The scene with the cybermen emerging from the snow like serial killers in ski-masks must be one of the great iconic Doctor Who scenes of the last forty odd years – for me certainly the best since the plunger appearing at the end of the first episode of the Daleks. Then the episode ends with a close-up shot of that truly terrifying face, humanity peeled basic to its basics just two eye holes and a slot for a mouth like a geometric skulls. These early cybermen look great with their combination of organic and cybernetic. The way they spoke chilled me with its sing-song electronic intonation and the mouth still opening looking like it was gasping for air. It was as if even though they didn’t need their mouths to speak anymore, the brains had not quite given up the idea or habit of human speech. Truly chilling.

·         Ben and Polly and still hot favourites with me – the companions that I have liked the most since Ian and Barbara left. Ben portrays some real emotion and anguish at being forced to shoot the cyber-guard with its own weapon. And left without the Doctor both show ingenuity and bravery in the face of adversity.

·         So General Cutler was John Wayne – I believe that we are even told as much in the projector room. At least he had real motivation for his actions: the rescue of his son but interesting to see how the leader of the “goodies” can so easily lose sight of his own morality in his evangelistic quest to destroy Mondas.

·         Why did the land masses on Mondas have to look like those on Earth? OK it’s the twin of Earth, we can accept that, but identical twin?

·         Once again the Doctor is missing from episode three – apparently William Hartnell was suffering from ill health at the time. Such a shame, considering that this was his last outing as the Doctor. Still, when he returns it is with full authority and self-righteous ire as he tries to argue with Cutler and then the Cybermen.

·         First regeneration scene! Wow! I’m wondering how much the public knew about this at the time. Had it been publicised? Or did it come out of the blue at the end of this second story of season four? Imagine that! Imagine if you just weren’t expecting that at all – just like at the end of the Stolen Earth but this time it actually happened.

A solid 8 out of 10 for being a good story but also for adding so much to the Doctor Who canon. And suddenly that’s it I’ve watched every William Hartnell story back-to-back. And you know what? I loved it! Of course, I did!

Idiom's picture

So, that’s that. It took me slightly longer than Doctor Whoovie – just under six months in fact. This was mainly due to the fact that I tried to watch no more than an episode a day – I did cheat towards the end though especially when I got to some of the better stories.

Overall, it was great with some of the stories affecting me far more than I would ever have thought. Season one was great, Season two was absolutely superb and season three was mixed but at least it tried in places to be different and it definitely redeemed itself in the end.

Some final thoughts:

·         All the seeds of what would come throughout the next forty years are there:  from serious drama to comedy, science fiction to touches of the darkness which would emerge as some of the horror stories later.

·         The Doctor himself went on a real journey from the on-the-run renegade whose paranoia and distrust of outsiders and fierce over-protectiveness towards Susan speaks of a tragic past to a gradually more caring, trusting and, yes, joyful figure. I saw real elements of William Hartnell’s Doctor in subsequent Doctors: the playfulness which would later emerge in the second and fourth Doctors; the arrogance that we saw in the third and sixth doctors; the seriousness that pervaded the fifths Doctor’s personality and the hard authority of the seventh, ninth and tenth doctors.

·         The Theme Tune – fabulous. A scratchy, cat’s hiss mixed with feedback, like a record played backwards in which you expect to hear a hidden message from the devil himself.

·         My main criticism really is in the lack of development of the companions –  we had some great companions during the first Doctor’s reign and watching the stories in order makes you identify with and care more than just dipping into stories at random; However, after the original threesome of Barbara, Ian and Susan, their successors come and go with nary a glance; they are given little back story and without the skill of the actors are often left as two-dimensional (and in DohDoh’s case one-dimensional) ciphers to the Doctor – in this respect, I feel that the new series has been vastly superior with its characterisations of Rose, Martha, Donna and Jack. I also agree with Doctor Whoovie that it takes the series a while to find its feet again after the departure of Ian and Barbara as the series was more of an ensemble piece at first.

·         The characters use their ingenuity to escape from dangerous situations and locked rooms. Not a sonic screwdriver in sight!

·         Still the Doctor with the most pure historicals and these I found, in general, vastly superior to the science fiction adventures. God bless the BBC!

·         I found that the best way to watch the missing episodes was with watching a decent recon  while listening to the BBC audio adventures – fabulous quality with the narration carrying you along without intruding into the stories (Peter Purves in particular does a grand job).

Overall, the best story for me was The Dalek Invasion of Earth (with The Crusade, The Romans and The Aztecs all as close seconds). Worse story (because I found it hardest to watch) was The Web Planet. So, in this year of very little Doctor Who, I have found myself watching more stories than ever. I loved it and as an experience would thoroughly recommend it. On to number two.

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1 TARDIS Groan
0 TARDIS Groans
Total votes: 1

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DW Podshock 341 Cover