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This old body of mine is wearing a bit thin

Anniversary

Of the Doctor’s very first

Regeneration

As you may know, Doctor Who celebrates its 50th anniversary next year but today is an anniversary of almost equal importance. That is because today, October 29th, is the anniversary of something that happened that would allow the show to continue although the lead actor was leaving the series.

“Change my dear. And it seems not a moment too soon.*”

October 29th 1966 saw the screening of episode 4 of “The Tenth Planet”. Sadly this episode is one of those missing from the archives but fortunately the transformation scene itself does still exist (yay for BBC children’s programme “Blue Peter”).

Plans were afoot to replace William Hartnell and may have been carried out a few stories earlier at the conclusion of The Celestial Toymaker (which would have worked within the confines of this story but it would be a trick that would be difficult to repeat) but it wasn’t until a few stories later (and the following season) that the first change of the Doctor was to take place.

The new production team of Producer, Innes Lloyd, and Script Editor, Gerry Davis, were looking to bring the adventure aspect of the show back to the forefront, rather than the previous year’s science fiction leanings, with The Tenth Planet being the first of what would be a staple of the stories during Patrick Troughton’s years as the Doctor, The Base Under Siege.

It was also an unusual decision to recast the lead by a completely different actor rather than a lookalike. This was to prove to be an inspired idea as you can then let the Doctor behave in a completely different way and would start the never ending discussion of “who is the best Doctor?”

At the time of the Doctor’s renewal (regeneration was not referred to until third Doctor, Jon Pertwee’s farewell story) and little was known about where the Doctor came from (again, it was during the Jon Pertwee era, and his final season at that, before his home is named as Gallifrey) and it was Patrick Troughton’s finale that introduced us to the Time Lords. How much of this mythology would have remained unknown had the Doctor never changed? Probably none.

So let’s celebrate the changing face of Doctor Who…

“Splendid chap, all of them” as the Brigadier has said.

Here is a list of the regeneration stories to date although you may notice that there hasn’t been an onscreen regeneration from 8th Doctor into 9th. (as of 2012)

  • The Tenth Planet (1st Doctor into 2nd)
  • The War Games (2nd Doctor into 3rd [although 3rd Doctor isn’t actually seen])
  • Planet of the Spiders (3rd Doctor into 4th)
  • Logopolis (4th Doctor into 5th)
  • The Caves of Androzani (5th Doctor into 6th)
  • Time and the Rani (6th Doctor [sort of] into 7th)
  • 1996 TV Movie (7th Doctor into 8th)
  • Parting of the Ways (9th Doctor into 10th)
  • The End of Time –Part Two (10th into 11th)

*spoken by 6th Doctor just after he has regenerated.

Galaxy Four

The Drahvins and Rills

Stuck on a dying planet

But who will escape.

Here we are at the start of the third season and at the start of a run of lost stories. Until recently, only six minutes of footage from episode 1 existed but episode 3 has been discovered [click here for details]. The soundtrack of this story does exist and has Peter Purves (Steven Taylor in this story) providing linking narration.

This story concerns two races of beings who have crash landed on a planet that is on the brink of destruction. On arrival, the Doctor, Vicki and Steven are accosted by a robot that Vicki christens a “Chumbley”. They are “rescued” from the robot by one of the races, the Drahvins, blonde haired women who are determined to take the other race’s, the Rills, spaceship by force. The Rills have managed to repair their ship but lack the fuel needed to take off.

During the course of the story, it comes to light that the destruction of the planet will occur a lot sooner than the Drahvins have calculated and also that the robot Chumblies are robot servants for the Rills, a peaceful ammonia breathing race who are more than prepared to offer space on their ship for the Drahvins.

The Doctor attempts to help the Rills and rescue Steven, who is a hostage on the Drahvin spaceship. Can he do this before the planet explodes…?

This story could be seen as the first (but not the last in this season) “high concept” science fiction story with many of the previous stories being adventure stories set on another planet whereas his has the central message of “don’t judge by appearances” at its core. Doctor Who was growing up…

  1. Four Hundred Dawns
  2. Trap Of Steel
  3. Airlock
  4. The Exploding Planet

 

Doctor Who bookcase

I was looking through my facebook timeline and saw a post from a Doctor Who page that caught my attention.

The original post can be found here for a very cool TARDIS bookcase.

And you may also be interested in a sale that Big Finish are having this weekend (28th & 29th July 2012). The sale is for the many contributions made by a certain David Tennant. These were all done before he bacame the Doctor and are worth a listen.

Season Two Recap

Season two has brought

The return of the Daleks

And a few farewells

Season Two Recap

My quest took a little side step at the start of this season but let’s have a recap anyway;

The Stories:

Planet of Giants (coming August 2012 to DVD)

The Dalek Invasion of Earth

The Rescue

The Romans

The Web Planet

The Crusade

The Space Museum

The Chase

The Time Meddler

39 weeks in length

Cast

William Hartnell

Carole Ann Ford

Jacqueline Hill

William Russell

Maureen O’Brien

Peter Purves

Season two may be 3 weeks shorter than season one but a 39 week schedule is still very tiring and season two saw a number of changes.

First of all was a returning monster; the Daleks making not one but two reappearences (and that’s not including the Dalek exhibit seen in the Space Museum).

Another change in this season happened to coincide with the return of the angry pepper pots, the departure of one, or more, of the TARDIS crew. Susan was the first to leave; because of love (although it was the Doctor who locked Susan out of the TARDIS). Susan was replaced in the subsequent story, The Rescue, which saw Vicki join the crew.

Vicki’s first story as a crew member saw her visiting the past, which is also where, as you may remember,  Ian and Barbara went on their first trip in the TARDIS.

The next story was an experimental story that just about worked but has to be celebrated purely for the attempt made to create a world populated by giant insects. Then it was another trip to the past followed by a story that didn’t live up to the potential of the first episode and then the return of the Daleks.

It may be interesting to note that the Daleks are the ONLY returning monsters/characters this year.  Their second appearance of the season saw them looking to hunt down the Doctor and chased him through time using technology that would later be used to return Ian and Barbara to 1960’s Earth. This time, when two left, only one joined, space pilot Steven Taylor.

Once again the new crew member’s first adventure as a crew member was into the past but this time it was a very different style of historical adventure, not only was it the finale of the second season but was the sign of a new direction for Doctor Who as it changed from an Adventure Serial that dipped its toes in sci-fi into a more overtly Science Fiction serial.

Unfortunately, it is also the beginning of the large quantity for missing episodes. So far, only 3 stories have been missing from the first two season but over the next three seasons, only four stories exist in their entirety.

And so, as we journey into season 3, we should pause and thank those viewers who recorded the episodes off air onto audio tape and thank the audio technicians, especially Mark Ayres for the restoration work done so that we may enjoy these lost episodes.

Onto Season 3…

A sad loss for the Doctor Who family

In a time of change

Caroline John played Liz Shaw

Season seven’s star

I was saddened to hear about the death of Caroline John, who played Dr Liz Shaw opposite Jon Pertwee’s Doctor.

When Caroline John joined the cast of Doctor Who, she did so at a time of change. Patrick Troughton had regenerated and his companions had decided to leave the show at the same time which meant a new Doctor and a new companion. The show would now be made in colour and Barry Letts was about to become the new producer. Another bold decision was to strand the Doctor on Earth. This meant that Liz Shaw became the first (and only) companion not to travel in the TARDIS.

Season seven had a distinctly Quatermass feel to it as the new production team aimed the program for a more mature audience. The monsters were still there but more often than not, the real monsters were shown to be man, whether it was the slaughter of Silurians or the continued drilling into the core of the Earth regardless of the consequences.

Dr. Liz Shaw was a different character from previous companions in that she was able to, at least partly, understand the Doctor’s scientific explanations.  Unfortunately this would prove to be a problem. Whereas Zoe, who also had an above average intellect, had Jamie to explain things to (and being able to give this information to the viewer) Liz didn’t have someone to act a go between between the Doctor and the viewer and so the decision to replace her was made.

During the filming of the final story of the season, the excellent Inferno, Caroline John was also looking to leave the series due to her pregnancy. Her final performance in televised Doctor Who (although she did return for a brief appearance in the 20th  anniversary story, The Five Doctors) saw her play Dr. Liz Shaw and Section Leader Liz Shaw in Doctor Who’s first foray into the realms of parallel universes.

Although the Liz Shaw experiment was not deemed a success, Caroline John’s contribution to season seven was very important and easy to under rate. The season consisted of only four stories (1 four parter and 3 seven parters); Spearhead From Space (the story that introduced the Autons), Doctor Who And The Silurians (the only televised story to have “Doctor Who And The…” as part of the title), The Ambassadors Of Death (a very Quatermass like story written by David Whitaker, Doctor Who’s first script editor) and the aforementioned Inferno (written by the future creator of Scottish soap opera “Take The High Road”). The Autons and Silurians were to make a comeback not just in the classic series (Terror Of The Autons and Warriors Of The Deep respectively) but also in the new series, notabley Rose (the Autons) which saw the return of Doctor Who to our screens and the two part story The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood (The Silurians).

Caroline John reprised the role of Liz Shaw for the Companion Chronicles, produced by Big Finish. She got to meet with an iconic monster that was noticeably absent from the third Doctor’s era, the cybermen (The Blue Tooth). The other stories to feature Liz Shaw are Shadow Of The Past, The Sentinels Of The New Dawn, Binary and the forthcoming The Last Post.

Carolin John was also the narrator for the audiobook of another sadly departed member of the Doctor Who family, Elizabeth Sladen.

Caroline John will be missed and my thoughts go out to her family and friends.

Caroline John 1940-2012 R.I.P.

The Time Meddler

It’s 1066

Yet there is a gramophone

And a Meddling Monk

[Caution, contains spoilers]

Barbara and Ian have left and it’s just the Doctor and Vicki in the TARDIS…or is it?

Having escaped Mechanus after defeating the Daleks, Vicki and the Doctor have said their farewells and waved goodbye to Ian and Barbara so who wandering about the TARDIS.

This historical story is a sign of things to come with the historical stories. The first episode finds a dishevelled Steven Taylor hiding in the TARDIS. After he has been tidied up, the Doctor and companions leave and look about. The Doctor guesses at the era and guesses on 11th century Earth. Steven doesn’t believe him, even after the Doctor finds a horned Viking helmet (“What do you think it is? a space helmet for a cow?”).

The Doctor decides to take a leisurely route up the cliff from the beach where the TARDIS has landed and is separated from Vicki and Steven. Steven is still doubtful, especially when he finds a wristwatch that does not belong in the time period and the viewers will also find this odd and disorienting. This story is most unlike anything that has gone before. Has the Doctor got it wrong?

The end of episode three reveals the truth not only about the Monk but about the Doctor, the Monk has a TARDIS. This is the first time that the Doctor has met one of his own kind (other than Susan of course). The Monk is also an interesting character as he isn’t evil and out for destruction but can be best described as a rascal, wanting to change aspects of history.

Again, this shows the inherent weakness for historical stories in that our (the viewer) history cannot be altered but when the story is written as well as this one, I found that this element doesn’t detract from the overall story.

This story also brings season two to a conclusion and as the titles roll at the end of the final episode, the Doctor, Vicki and Steven appear gazing at the stars.

Doctor Who was changing…

 

  1. The Watcher
  2. The Meddling Monk
  3. A Battle Of Wits
  4. Checkmate

 

Teachers’ Farewell

Two teachers go home

Using Dalek time machine

It’s back to school time

The Daleks return for the second time and once again the story ends with a farewell. This time, Ian and Barbara return to earth, using the Daleks’ time machine, at the conclusion of The Chase, which seems to work more accurately than the TARDIS.

With the departure of Ian and Barbara, the viewers have lost the viewers entrance into the ongoing story and indeed three quarters of the original cast. Season two of Doctor Who was definitely one of change with only William Hartnell remaining from the original cast by season’s end.

But the departure of Ian and Barbara marks a big shift from the original premise of being “educational” and transforming into science fiction. An example of this is the very next story which is set in 1066. Barbara would be very familiar with this year and the most famous battle of this year is the battle of Hastings but this story does not focus on this but on a Viking invasion that happened before the battle. And just to remove this from the elements of a purely historical story, another time traveller is involved.

Doctor Who was evolving…

Barbara Wright: A school teacher who taught history, her cardigans were ruined in her last two stories but she had also been mistaken as an Aztec god and also managed to acquire a suntan while left on a space ship in The Sensorites.

Ian Chesterton: A science teacher who was the action man of the series (a role that future companions Steven Taylor, Ben Jackson, Jamie McCrimmon and Harry Sullivan would step into).

Although the characters never returned to Doctor Who, Jacqueline Hill would return to play Lexa in the fourth Doctor story, Meglos and Ian Chesterton was scheduled to make a return to Doctor Who in 1983. Unfortunately, William Russell wasn’t able to return so another character from the Doctor’s past [or his future from this point in time], Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (retired). This change in cast has led to real problems for any fans trying to make sense of the UNIT timeline but more of that later.

What are your favourite episodes featuring Barbara and Ian?