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Daleks in Chester!

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A few weeks ago I was heading down to Cardigan for my neice’s wedding. To break up the journey, my wife and I decided to stay for a few days in Chester. Chester is a walled city and since it was a nice day, we walked along the wall. Partway along is the Charles I tower and there was an artist in residence there. To my joy, I found that he had decided to incorporate Daleks and the Doctor into his artwork of Chester. The above picture features the Charles I tower and those fans of the classic series may recognise the source picture featuring the Doctor and the Dalek from the serial “Planet of the Daleks”.

If you find yourself in Chester, I would suggest you find the artist who was very happy to chat to me.

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Doctor Who is back

It’s been a while since I have updated this site but I hope I won’t be so long in between posts. This post will be my thoughts on the first episode that was shown on Saturday 19th September 2015. If you haven’t seen it yet, I must warn you that this post will contain spoilers. In fact, I’m waffling here deliberately so that if you encounter this post and it has the opening few sentences or paragraph, I can let you know of the spoilers ahead well before you may accidentally encounter them.

So anyway, the first episode was called “The Magician’s Apprentice”. I enjoyed the episode but I felt it had more of an end of series feel to it, especially after what happened with Clara, Missy and the TARDIS. As a finale, that could be comparable with Sherlock’s dive and needs more time to allow the shock of what we have seen sink in. I imagine there will be all kinds of guesses for what happens.

There were a lot of details within the episode that harked back to the past years of Doctor Who. The relationship between the Capaldi and Gomez reminds me of the dynamic between Pertwee and Delgado. It is not too difficult to believe that they may once have been close and I think that in both cases, it’s the performance of  Delgado and Gomez that especially highlights this (looking back at Pertwee’s line at the end of The Master’s first story about how he is quite looking forward to matching wits against The Master makes you wonder about The Doctor’s sanity and common sense). Gomez’s Master/Missy also shares Delgado’s Master’s love of children’s programs with her coming through the square window line (referenced from a children’s show called “Play School”). Delgado’s Master was seen enjoying an episode of “The Clangers” during his confinement in the story “The Sea Devils”.

In classic series Doctor Who, a Dalek or Cyberman story was often a great excuse to insert a snippet from an earlier story featuring an earlier Doctor and that was the case once again with a line from Davros’s first story that was especially pertinent. The story ended in familiar territory too with the Doctor holding a gun at Davros that was reminiscent to the scene when the 5th Doctor holds a gun on Davros.

Another thing I noticed was Missy’s ring that reminded me of the ring worn by the first Doctor.

We also find ourselves on Skaro again. The Doctor has visited Skaro on surprisingly few occasions and oddly enough, Tom Baker, who was Who for the most amount of stories, only faced the Daleks twice both stories taking place on Skaro (and also these were the only stories with Davros on Skaro too). It was nice to see the different types of Dalek (something hinted at in Asylum of the Daleks but some had a “blink and you’d miss it” appearance).

I shall be looking forward to next weeks episode and hope that the resolution isn’t too much of a disappointment.

What did you think of the episode?

A favour to ask

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I have been working on a collection of Doctor Who haiku (I may try to publish it in one format or another for 53rd anniversary (17 syllables, 13 Doctors [including John Hurt] and 53 years – all prime numbers). I have written haiku for every story from Doctors 1-10 and working on Matt Smith era.

The favour I have to ask is would any of you be interested in being beta readers for me. You may choose a specific Doctor if you wish and if you are up for a challenge, I can send them without the episode name attached and you can try to guess the story.

Many thanks for your help.

Please email me at doctorwhohaiku@gmail.com if you wish to help, even if you aren’t a big fan you can help to ensure that the haiku make sense too.

Again thank you

An early birthday present for Doctor Who fans

Two more stories found

From Patrick Troughton era

It’s wonderful news

There has been some fantastic news for Doctor Who fans in its 50th anniversary year with the news that 9 more lost episodes have been found. This brings the number of missing episodes down to 97.

Even better news is the fact that they almost complete 2 stories from Patrick Troughton’s second year as the Doctor. Until the discovery of “Tomb of the Cybermen” in the early 1990s, no complete story from this season existed. This year has seen the release of another story from this era, “The Ice Warriors”, with the missing episodes being animated, we now have a run of 3 almost complete stories as the 2 stories that followed, “The Enemy of the World” and “The Web of Fear” being the stories recently discovered.

These 2 stories are of additional interest as they were directed by people who would become legendary figures for Doctor Who fans.

Salamander looks

Much like the Doctor but is

Ruthless Dictator

The first story, “The Enemy of the World” was directed by Barry Letts who would later go on to produce Doctor Who during the Jon Pertwee era. Until now, only one episode of this story existed and in a global spanning story, the episode that we had is easily the least interesting of the six. This story is discussed by Barry Letts in his autobiography “Who and Me” and some lessons that he learned about how Doctor Who was made and how it may be improved. Something as simple as changing from making an episode a week to two episodes a fortnight made a big difference (especially in relation to sets that sometimes got damaged when they were stored). There was a set problem in the episode that existed which lead to a strange scene of someone under guard being kept in a hallway where he ate a meal. This story also features a doppelgänger, allowing Patrick Troughton to play both the Doctor and the tyrant Salamander with a finale that leads directly into the next story. This story also features an early Doctor Who appearance of an actor who plays villains and officious jobsworths exceptionally well, Milton Johns. He would star in two more Doctor Who stories, both in the Tom Baker era, “The Android Invasion” and “The Invasion of Time”. Had the Harry Potter films been made in the 70s or 80s, he would have been an ideal Severus Snape.

The Yeti return

And Lethbridge-Stewart enters

In the underground

The second story, “The Web of Fear”, is interesting for a number of reasons. One being that the enemy is the Great Intelligence (first encountered in “The Abominable Snowmen”, the story that preceded “The Ice Warriors”). The Great Intelligence has also reappeared in the new series of Doctor Who. Web of Fear also introduces a character who would become one of the most popular characters in the series, although in this story the Brigadier has yet to be promoted and is Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart in this story. The Great Intelligence used robotic Yeti to carry out its plans and inside one of the furry suits was the man who would go on to be the much-loved Sergeant Benton of U.N.I.T., John Levene. This story was directed by Douglas Camfield. Camfield has directed many of the most fondly remembered stories form the classic era. There is a very good extra about Douglas Camfield on the recently released “Terror of the Zygons” DVD. The set design on Web of Fear is very good, so good that the production team almost got into trouble after being denied access to film on the underground, they reproduced the underground so convincingly that those who had denied the access thought they had filmed there anyway.

The soundtracks for both these stories have been available with Frazer Hines providing the linking narration for both stories but it is a pleasure to view these lost stories again. Both stories are available to download, the still missing episode 3 of The Web of Fear features the soundtrack and telesnaps, from iTunes but there will be a DVD release for both stories.

Happy 49th Anniversary

Today (23rd November 2012) is the 49th anniversary of Doctor Who and so to celebrate I thought I’d repost a guest post featuring amazing artwork and memories from when the very first episode was aired. Click here to read this wonderful post.

If you want to join me on my quest to watch Doctor Who from the beginning, then click here to see my journey beginning.

Over the weekend I am going to enjoy the very first episode once more and listen to the 49th story of the classic series, The Space Pirates written by Robert Holmes. Sadly this is another of the stories missing from the archive.

I will also watch the 49th story of the new series, Victory of the Daleks written by Mark Gatiss (who I think would be a brilliant Master if the powers that be wished to bring him back as a nemesis of the Doctor rather than the insane Master previously seen.

Happy anniversary Doctor Who and to quote the Brig, “Splendid chap, all of them.”

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